The MacGuffinite Blood Crystals of the Plain of Hotz

“So this is what they have come to this world for.” Princess Taegan held aloft the fist-sized blood red luminous radioactive crystal that was retrieved from one of the wrecked Space Pirate rockets destroyed during the recent battle of four fleets, “They have found a deposit of MacGuffinite on the moon of Dormientes Draco!”

Once more the world of Dormientes Draco was the scene of atomic battle… in other words again i went down to my local gaming store the Sleeping Dragon to play war rocket.

I had hoped to show my friend Jason the game after hearing that he’d been looking at the miniatures in the Sleeping Dragon but alas he didn’t show up today (but then again he’s even less a morning person than i am so i’ll likely catch up with him later on). Many of the locals were caught up in a card game tournament so i once more faced store owner Warwick.

Warwick once again went with the Space Pirates, though this time instead of using my small force of pirates he used his own old Battlefleet Gothic miniatures. Their round bases turned out not to be an obstacle because… he had a hex game mat!

It turns out that when he got the War Rocket stock he also got a Hotz mat with a lovely martian red landscape. And so i quickly read through the small adjustments in the rules for playing on a hex mat and away we went!

We didnt want to fuss with any of the scenarios with uneven points values so we went for the Mining mission. The objective, to get 5 units of precious minerals off your own table edge before your opponent.

Forces:
1 class 3
2 class 2s
3 class 1s
Imperial forces of Princess Taegan vs the Space Pirates of Captain Woz

Terrain:
Three crater-mines with docking ports
Two clouds

Warwick suggested a swift off-the-cuff mechanic for moving the clouds so we treated them as blocking all shooting but no impediment to movement, a bit of a departure from normal nebula rules. We would roll a 6 sided dice for the wind direction in that area at the end of the special actions phase (Warwick suggested the wind was a complex vortex so we rolled separately for each cloud) and then a d8 for the distance the cloud moved. We also decided to go long-edge to long-edge of the table just because it was more comfortable with the position of the table in the room 🙂

Warwick also bought himself a dice from his own stock in a nice black and red to suit his fleet colours and then we began. First to move on was of course my Class 3 Gryphon which i brought in on the centre followed by the pirate Class 3 and then i lost the roll-off so i brought my Raptors in going for the mine on my right flank while Warwick brought his on more centrally, then i sent one scorpion with the Raptors and the other two went for the left flank mine. Warwick concentrated his class 1 Daggers in a group that raced forward towards my Scorpion pair…

In a couple turns and the shooting started.. I had positioned one scorpion at a mine entrance and another was beside it to support it.. the Daggers swept around out of my fire arc and… one stun and another a roll of a 10 and kaboom again i lost a scorpion in the first round of fire in a game! But what was worse was the run that traditionally unlucky Warwick was to have! As he lined up my stunned Scorpion and… another 10! Then on the right flank the pirate Class 2 Stiletto’s were facing the two Raptors and the remaining Scorpion but because of positioning the Scorpion couldn’t be shot so he fired on the unpainted Raptor… Another 10! Three 10’s.. in a row! As my Gryphon was slowly pulling into range the Stiletto’s danced about to stay far enough away to keep firing with minimal shots back meanwhile the pirate Class 3 and two of the class 1s were swiftly loading their cargo bays with the precious radioactive MacGuffinite, or in their scoundrel slang Blood Crystals.. The other Dagger flew around heading towards the vulnerable back of my slow ponderous Gryphon, the only direction this rocket doesn’t have a gun pointing from.. but the swirling clouds (often eerily moving in just the kind of spiral one would expect from a swirling vortex) had a change of heart and the cloud nearby moved to block the vulnerable arc of the Gryphon!

Given the option of firing on my remaining Raptor or my remaining Scorpion he quite sensibly went for the more manoeuvrable and speedy rocket… Another 10!!!!!!!!!!!!

Four 10s in a row!

But this time my forces found their mark and first a Stiletto was stunned and then destroyed. And the cloud kept pace with the gryphon floating alongside it as if caught in it’s wake. The Dagger and Stiletto danced around the rightmost mine as the Raptor dueled them for initiative and the Gryphon kept forcing their movement to stay out of it’s longer range and near-enclosing fire arcs. Alas with the Scorpions all destroyed i had no hope of intercepting the escaping class 3 heavy with it’s load of MacGuffinite before it would escape.. even then i’d have needed a lucky roll to destroy it but 10s seemed to be in vogue over the plain of Hotz but alas it was already too far away so i focussed on trying to take down the remaining pirates to make them pay dearly for their delaying action.

Thanks to the slide movement option available in the hex movement rules my Raptor was able to fly over the mine and into position for a shot. Being a standard Raptor not an upgraded one unlike most class 2s it has a firepower of only 1, the same as a single Scorpion, which meant i’d need a good roll to put down this scurvy star-dog… and now it was time for my dice to roll a 10! The remaining dagger soared out of range to follow it’s compatriots and the pirate class 3 crossed the table edge with the remaining MacGuffinite to win them the game, and even in points of rockets lost they won too, but i was happy being able to do some damage to them before they won.

In hindsight i think i shouldn’t have split my forces so much, i don’t think the Imperial rockets work so well on their own and often need to cooperate in order to ensure they can hit back at least some of the time. Though what can you do against 4 10s in a row? The hexmat play was fun with it’s own quirks, i’m not sure i have a favourite yet between hex and non-hex but both are definitely enjoyable. The Hotz mat certainly looked great and i always liked martian landscapes so i may have to invest in one of those myself. I may have to figure out how to make some Imperial-looking buildings or find some to buy as well as some nice gun emplacements to try the princess-rescuing mission soon. As for the Gryphon, well so far it’s power was in it’s fearsome presence and potential more than it’s direct action. Being so slow and so always moving first it meant that it was more of a block of space where the enemy didn’t want to be but didn’t do any damage itself. I will need to use it some more to get the full measure of it put it is definitely useful in that alone.. though any one of those 10s would have destroyed even it’s mighty armor.

Shane is building a Zenithian force starting with the squadron pack full of class 1 and 2 saucers, i’m looking forward to a larger game against the saucermen, those speedy class 2s are pretty terrifying despite their fragility so i’ll have to be sure i hit them enough to start diluting their firepower. Should be fun.

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