Sleeping Dragon and the Battle for Science!

Captain Atrius fumed quietly as he sat in the command chair of the Class II Imperial Raptor Rocket The Shahin. It was difficult enough sitting in the position normally taken by the Princess instead of his usual position to her right. Especially as he couldn’t go anywhere without the Princesses pet Vyper-bat Atalleph left in his care coiled around his arm or hanging on his shoulder, though it did help him keep the Princess in mind. It was worse that helping the Magi, the scientists of the Empire, determine the secret central hub of the strange tower ruins the Zenithians had activated and their dangerous effects upon the star Draco meant that he and much of the Princesses’ fleet had been taken off the search for their missing leader. Worse yet was that the mastermind behind the Magi’s operations Magi Lord Dr Axon had implied that the search for the Princess should be abandoned altogether… but the most infuriating of all was that the very same Dr Axon had insisted on being on board the very same Rocket as Atrius!

Normally he got on well with battle-magi, those soldiers of the empire most entrusted with the powerful secrets of the Empires advanced science and engineering. That Dr Axon was more machine than man, after a grievous wounding in battle his vast swathe of knowledge resulted in him determined too valuable to the Empire to be allowed to die. His brain having been transferred into a translucent jar atop a life-sustaining mechanical apperatus, a humanoid body all too reminiscent of the Robot Legions for anyone’s comfort, was disturbing in itself, but it was the attitude that seemed so incompatible with the honourable noble demeanour of the warriors of the Emperors rocket fleet that was worst. This was the first citizen of the Empire Atrius felt he could not and should not trust. And right now he had hooked his mysterious devices to the rockets engines doing who knows what as they scanned, like the rest of the class 2 Imperial rockets on Dormientes Draco, along a grid search pattern measuring the strange energies at work. At least, thought the Captain, the Magi are staying in the engine access compartment…. and that’s when the saucers attacked!

Once again it’s time for another exciting battle report from a saturday morning game of War Rocket down at my local game store The Sleeping Dragon. Alas due to a late night Jason wasn’t able to join in (but hopefully will be in the next report) so Taphyl and I battled it out. This time Taphyl wanted to try the Zenithians rather than the Valkeeri so i let him try with my currently-small Zenithian force.

We started setting up the table with the familiar belt-of-orion placement of strange towers, then Taphyl placed some other ruined buildings from the ancient past of Dormientes Draco along with the floating Ice-teroids created by the towers drawing the indescribably rare mineral MacGuffinite in prodigious quantities from deep in the ground as Taphyl asked “What will the objective be?”

Alerted by 7th-dimensional sensors to the scanning taking place by Imperial rockets around the world of planet Dormientes Draco the Zenithians have been tasked with capturing some Imperial scientists to find out how much the Empire knows about what is happening and see if the Empire is a threat to the Saucer-men’s terrible plans for our 4 dimensions of the universe! While on the Raptor…

“All Hands, battle stations!” Called Captain Atrius as the Zenithians swarmed in to the attack.
“Which foe Captain?” demanded the authoritative mechanical voice of Magi Dr Axon, sounding much more acceptably Imperial for a moment.
“Zenithians closing fast, a class 2 and 3 class 1’s”
“Capture the Class 2 Beta-Z saucer at all costs captain, interrogating their crew could give us the vital information we seek, help us save the galaxy and get you back to searching for your Princess!”
“Raptor to all Scorpions, Raptor to all Scorpions, class 2 saucer to be boarded, repeat: class 2 saucer not to be destroyed!”

Taphyl scrutinizes the Zenithian stats before we start (and misses something which we discover much later)

Taphyl scrutinizes the Zenithian stats before we start (and unfortunately misses something important which we discover much later)

once again battles are to rage in the skies over the red rocky landscape of Dormientes Draco

Once again battles are to rage in the skies over the red rocky landscape of Dormientes Draco

I would set up my rockets on the table going along their scanning flight path and Taphyl could bring the saucers in from any side other than the one I came in on.

The Class II Raptor and Class I Scorpion escort move in from one narrow edge of the table

The Class II Raptor and Class I Scorpion escort move in from one narrow edge of the table

Taphyl chooses not to come in from a flank but to come in from the opposite end of the table

Taphyl chooses not to come in from a flank but to come in from the opposite end of the table

The Imperial rockets held tight formation, the more agile Scorpions keeping back to cover the Raptor’s flanks and tail.

Defensive Formation

Zenithians on the attack

Note that the Class 2 Beta-Z Saucer is entering the Ice-teroids

While the Zenithians spread their hyper-agile force out..

As we near I have the Scorpions fall back slightly, Imperial rockets work better near the end of their range because of the larger turning circle they use and the Zenithians have a bad habit of hugging to the tail.

My beautiful picture

The saucers are poised to attack!

The saucers are poised to attack!

And then it was on!

The Class 2 Saucer held back protected by the Ice-teroid field while the class 1 Alpha-Z saucers moved in on my right flank. Having won the imitative roll-off between the Class 1 Imperial Scorpions and the entire Zenithian force (their class 2’s really are that fast!”) I sent my Scorpions in for the kill!

My beautiful picture

Raygun fire is exchanged!

Raygun fire is exchanged!

The Saucers don’t get many hits on my rockets but I have all too often lost a rocket in the first salvo of a game. The Saucer looks likely to go.. but my rolls are often bad.. the dice tumble across the table..

First blood to the minions of Marduk!

First blood to the minions of Marduk!

Taphyl got initiative and again I had to try and react best I could as to where he might want to go, so I turned my Scorpions to the side to head towards the objective, the class 2 Beta-Z saucer full of secrets!

Imperial Scorpions
But the Saucers were already intent on their goal, capturing Dr Axon and his assistant Magi on board my Raptor!

My beautiful picture
The Saucers unleash their deadly rays…. though their attack is a strike to stun, so harder to succeed…

My beautiful picture

And the powerful armour of the Imperial rocketyards resists the Zenithian weapons of extra-dimensional science with only Dr Axon complaining about having to recalibrate his machines a consequence.

Again Taphyl gets initiative and I must act as best I can. I send off the Raptor to try and draw the saucers behind and then put the scorpions in to cover most of the Raptor’s weakpoints.. but rather than risking the Sorpions fire the Aplha-z saucers instead try to whittle down the fighter escort!

My beautiful picture
Luckily even the weakest machines of the Empire is sturdy compared to anything the Zenithians build and the Scorpion endures.

The roll-off goes my way this time so the Raptor takes a turn to the left. The Saucers launch their attack and my Scorpions swoop in to strike, but not all can draw their bead on the target saucer, so while two strike to stun to render the saucer ready for boarding the last tries a quick shot to reduce the small saucers from the equation.

My beautiful picture

Both the attacks on class 2 rockets are attempts to stun and…

The Raptor is stunned! Can Captain Atrius and the man-machine Dr Axon and the crew of the Shihin fight off the imminent Zenithian clone trooper boarding party?

The Raptor is stunned! Can Captain Atrius and the man-machine Dr Axon and the crew of the Shahin fight off the imminent Zenithian clone trooper boarding party?

My beautiful picture

The class 2 saucer prepares to send troops to board the Raptor
The Scorpions, (one just out of shot to the left) focus on one of the class1 saucers

The Class 2 Beta-Z Saucer spinning through space draws up to the Raptor, and from it’s airlock leap Zenithian clones ready to do direct battle with the crew! Captain Atrius, Dr Axon and the rest of the crew draw their pistols rifles swords grenades and micro-missiles ready to sell their lives dearly in short range personal combat! While outside the escorts blast at one another

While the class 1 saucers concentrated on the furthest Scorpion

While the class 1 saucers concentrated on the furthest Scorpion

The shooting dice roll…

My attack needs a very poor roll to fail.. but i fialed nonetheless! While the Saucers blast the scorpion with a result that would have taken down anything!

My attack needs a very poor roll to fail.. but i fialed nonetheless! While the Saucers blast the scorpion with a result that would have taken down anything!

As for the boarding action? Taphyls odds are effectively 1 in 5…

The Zenithians prepare to breach the hatch but find it open, inviting. As they enter warily the room immediately adjacent from the airlock rocket appears deserted till the flash grenade hidden behind the ceiling lightbulb stuns the boarders large sensitive eyes. Captain Atrius calls the charge from troops in both the command room and the crew compartments and first into combat is Atalleph, leaping from his arm with his long sinuous coiled tail used like a spring, and guided in an unpredictable arc using his batlike wings the long extended fangs punch right through the Zenithians protective suit. Atrius’s whirling blade and Dr Axon’s mighty metal fists finish the job. The boarding attempt is foiled and if the Saucermen want Dr Axon they will have to try again!

Dr Axon gets the engines going again and the Raptor is off curving round now and heading back towards my deployment edge. I’m feeling very fortunate Taphyl didn’t manage that last roll! Taphyl sends his saucers after my Raptor, but notice (as I at the time unfortunately did not) that he has misread the Class 2 saucers firepower, a costly mistake neither of us realise he makes for a while!)

My beautiful picture

As I have initiative again I send the remaining Scorpions for vengeance.

My beautiful picture
Neither of our attacks is effective.

I then make the mistake of not moving my Raptor forward, which results in the Saucers being able to move to a safe place that my scorpions cannot turn tight enough to reach!

Oh drat! That was a mistake!

Oh drat! That was a mistake!

Though it does make for a great pic in close-up!

My beautiful picture

Luckily for me the dice roll doesn’t punish me for this tactical mistake. And still neither of us realise that Taphyl is firing less than he should.

Having escaped from my mistake I forgo the chance to just turn and blast a saucer with the delayed action token I’d earned and instead send the Raptor ahead for the ice-teroid field! The Scorpions hanging back to cover it.

My beautiful picture

The Zenithian Saucermen try and reduce the Scorpion escort and…

Stun their victim!

Stun their victim!

The Raptor the Shahin makes it to the Ice-teroid field

Into the Ice-teroid field!

Into the Ice-teroid field!

The saucers keep blasting the stricken Scorpion!

But Marduk protects! The atomic ray fire doesn't get through the mighty armour!

But Marduk protects! The atomic ray fire doesn’t get through the mighty armour!

The Raptor Shahin moves slowly through the Ice-teroids, risking a stun from collisions even while gaining some protection from Zenithian extra-dimensional attack. And the enraged clones continue to strive to annihilate the Scorpion who has escaped the fate they intended for it!

My beautiful picture

But again the mighty work of master artisans proves it’s worth. This pilot wouldn’t give up his armour for any increase in manoeuvrability!

The Raptor blasts out from the Ice-teroids! The saucers follow on, still striving to stun the rocket for another attempt at boarding! And the Scorpions try and reduce the saucers further!

My beautiful picture
The saucers line up their shots….

Imperial in my sights...

But there’s an Imperial warrior wanting to show them what it feels like being shot in the back!

The infurited and lucky Imperial pilot unleashes atomic-ray vengeance!

The infuriated and so-far lucky Imperial pilot unleashes atomic-ray vengeance!

The Zenithians strike to stun..

yet the Imperial Raptor the Shahin emerges through the atomic flames!

yet the Imperial Raptor the Shahin emerges through the atomic flames!

While the Scorpion…

Get's their revenge blasting a saucer to smithereens!

Get’s their revenge blasting a saucer to smithereens!

But what’s this? The cold calculating inhuman reasoning of the clone commander is willing to do anything in it’s power to achieve it’s assigned task! Wordlessly it commands it’s crew to do what to any other people would be an act of desperation or fury!

"The mad devils are heading right for us!"

“The mad devils are heading right for us!”

The Beta-Z Saucer Rams the Class II Raptor Shahin in a ram-to-stun attack!

The two mighty war-machines of the scientific genius of tomorrow collide in a tactic as ancient and barbaric as it is effective!

The two mighty war-machines of the scientific genius of tomorrow collide
in a tactic as ancient and barbaric as it is effective!

But in an act much less a rational risk assessment and more the mad rush of a loyal soldier one of the Scorpions rams the Saucer!

collision 2

Dice roll as we both make ram-to-stun attacks supporting the collision with atomic rays (and this is where I realise Taphyl has the wrong number of counters and Taphyl realises he’s been short-changing himself for quite a few turns! If only I’d noticed sooner!

The Raptor is stunned as the massive collision hurls it's crew to and fro!

The Raptor is stunned as the massive collision hurls it’s crew to and fro!

The Beta-Z is also stunned, it's crew won't be boarding anything this turn!

The Beta-Z is also stunned, it’s crew won’t be boarding anything this turn!

What a turnout for the books! But the class 1 rockets may still attempt to board! One Scorpion moves into position to try and take the stunned Zenithian saucer, but the other shoots at the smaller saucer trying to do the same to the Raptor!

My beautiful picture

And…

Stunned!  The Saucer's hatch must be jammed!

Stunned!
The Saucer’s hatch must be jammed!

With that shot I might have saved the day, but then a class 1 boarding action is pretty tough to succeed with.. and my Scorpion’s brave co- pilot makes no headway getting on board the Saucer and is forced to return to her Rocket.

So the class 2 rockets recover from their stuns and Warwick gives us the warning that the store will be closing in 15 minutes. I have the Raptor just rotate slightly on the spot to blast the stunned class 1 saucer.

While Taphyl moves the Class 2 saucer back…

My beautiful picture
And then rushes back in ramming the Raptor again!!!

"It's ramming again! Brace for Impact!"

“It’s ramming again! Brace for Impact!”

All 3 Imperial rockets blast the smaller saucer

All 3 Imperial rockets blast the smaller saucer

The Saucer collides with great force.. but Taphyls roll just fails to stun the Raptor!

The Saucer collides with great force.. but Taphyls roll just fails to stun the Raptor!

Blam! The fragile Saucer is annihilated!

Blam! The fragile Saucer is annihilated!

Then Taphyl rminded me we’d almost forgotten the hits his Class 2 took from the ram! As that damage was only self-inflicted I stated that logically it wouldn’t be adjusted to a strike-to-stun, Taphyl concurred. I then rolled….

With a mighty smash the Saucer disintegrates against the sturdy armour of the Raptor! And with it the hopes of either side for victory!

With a mighty smash the Saucer disintegrates against the sturdy armour of the Raptor!
And with it the hopes of either side for victory!

And there is the end! With the saucer destroyed there was no-one for the Imperial forces to interrogate and the Zenithians would need to try other ways to find out how much the Empire knows of their plans! Another great game full of fire fury fun and excitement!

The Shahin returned to the previous flight path with one less escort than it started with and with the Magi Lord Dr Axon fuming about missed opportunities and smashed equipment while Captain Atrius was feeling very fortunate that casualties were so low and the boarders were repelled and was reporting in the attack over astro-radio, as surely the Zenithians were up to something and would be back. Meanwhile Dr Axon’s artificial sensors were sifting through the reams of punch-card and oscilloscope printouts and suddenly his mood changed… his brain-tank bubbling so much with excitement it created foam at the top. Now the only question was how to accomplish the next step of his plan and ultimate power dwarfing and supplanting even Emperor Marduk would be his! Emperor Axon, Lord of the Universe… it had a nice ring to it he thought…

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2 comments on “Sleeping Dragon and the Battle for Science!

  1. Man, that ramming and boarding action would sure make an adrenaline-releasing sequence on the silver screen. And gotta love the Princess’ pet getting its piece of the action!

  2. Thanks!
    The games do end up quite cinematic don’t they.
    It’s a big part of how the game has captured my imagination so well, the system and the miniatures both bring out that spirit.

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