Captain Shulme ran his fingers through his beard as he scanned the rocky landscape and the ruined ancient buildings of the world Iratus Est Draco below, looking for any sign of the missing Princess Taegan. Even if they find her there was evidence from the Valkeeri that there was a chance a pod-person clone had replaced the real Princess, but Emperor Marduk is all-seeing and a counterfeit would not fool the Princesses’ father. The orders were to scour every mile of the surface of the worlds in this system, find the Princess and take her to her father. The Valkeeri had struck the watchstation orbiting Iratus Est draco in force and so it wasn’t surprising when Kurush called from the radarscope of clear readings of Valkeeri rocket-pulses. They were headed towards one of the ruined cities, like all those in this system it was smashed with what seemed to be atomic warfare and abandoned so many millenia ago that not a trace of radioactivity remained, there must be something there of value.
“Hassimir, send a message to Fleet central: Have sighted Valkeeri task force. Destroying and Investigating.” Standard Imperial policy, shoot first, ask questions of the survivors after.
What were the Alien women up to? And did it have anything to do with the Zenithian towers, the weakening sun or the missing Princess? He would wring the information from the survivors!
“All rockets: Intercept and attack!”
I got a call from Taphyl during the week asking if I was up for another game of War Rocket and for showing our friend Mirium how to play. So I quickly gathered my things together, remembering my camera this time, and went round for an afternoon/evening of gaming socialising and a very nice dinner. Mirium had some job applications to do first so we started with a small game between Taphyl and I.
We quickly set out some terrain on the dining room table, well, as much of the table as wasn’t being used by Miriam working on her laptop, and away we went, with a simple shoot out for control of the ruins.
Turn 2 and the Valkeeri class 1 Sirens pulse forward attacking the Raptor headlong, The scorpions swing out and in in a pincer strike where the Sirens can’t shoot back as I’m relying on the Raptor’s greater armour to weather the blows.
Dice are rolled… one Valkeeri is safe.. and…
And my sturdy Raptor that has withstood so much in recent games…
Oh no, that’s a big blow struck on the first turn! Well done Taphyl! And what’s that? A Delayed Action counter for the Valkeeri class2 Fury? Uh-oh!
With characteristic aggression and direct action the Class 2 rocket blasts to attack, pouncing on one of the Imperial Scorpions!
That was the end of the turn for the Fury, but now one of my scorpions was vulnerable and unable to shoot this turn too! The Valkeeri lost no time in turning all their force against the helpless Scorpion while the remaining Imperial forces tried to do likewise to the immobilised Valkeeri rocket.
The Valkeeri Fury, especially with it’s tactically brilliant commander, was far too dangerous to be allowed to continue to exist in Marduk’s universe. It must be destroyed!
Raked with fire still the Fury withstands the Imperial atomic blasts, as the Scorpion targeted by the Valkeeri Sirens does likewise.
Yet again, paint boiled off and pocked with ray-burn the mighty Imperial Scorpion is still flying!
As the action returns to normal phases I pivot my Scorpions on the spot to try and strike the Fury… which works for two of the three but one remains tantalisingly just out of the fire arc and an Imperial rocket is too massive for the tight turns needed to bring it to bear. So I let loose with the fire I have and hope for the best as the Sirens strike again!
I won the initiative roll-off so Taphyl had to move the Valkeeri first and so moved them where he knew my wide turning circle wouldn’t reach. I swung my Scorpions off in opposite directions to hopefully close on the enemy next turn.
So in response my Imperials continue their academy-drill formation flying.
“You learn these manoeuvres for a reason Cadet!”
Then the Valkeeri elect to hold for a delayed action attack! The Scorpions swoop in for the kill!
The Scorpions attack is cinematic but ineffective. My forces are now right where the Valkeeri want them! They strike! Two spinning and blasting one of the proud Scorpions, the impetuous and bloodthirsty third blasting it’s engines at full speed and hurtling right into the face of the Imperial fighter!
We rolled our dice…
But the impact knocked the Valkeeri rocket out of control!
Eeep! I’m down to my last rocket. Things are badly against the Imperium now, but while there’s not much of a chance there’s still a chance! And the Valkeeri having all acted in the delayed action phase would not fire again this turn.
Besides, thinks the last airborne Scorpion pilot, it’s not for nothing they say that Emperor Marduk is all-seeing and desertion would mean the death of family back home. They may have said goodbye to him having celebrated the customary funeral as soon as he went off with the fleet as a scorpion pilot but it was his attachment to them that the Imperial system relied on to ensure the loyalty of the pilots of such craft that might otherwise make an easy escape to defection. And the few Scorpion pilots who survive their tour of duty return home showered in wealth and prestige and rank considered to have returned from the dead and amongst the most loyal of Imperial servants. He’d do his family proud whether he lived or died, either way a loyal hero! With courage and fire in his heart he went on the attack, not able to turn tight enough to strike the out of control rocket he swooped past them to barrage the nearest Valkeeri that he could strike cleanly.
Two to one, now those are much better odds especially with an Imperial rockets armour. but I lose the initiative roll. If I move away now they may get too hard to hit, and if I turn they’ll just move out of my fire arc. I elect instead to hold in place and hope for a delayed action strike next turn. The Valkeeri merely spin on the spot and blast!
A well earned victory for the Valkeeri! The surviving Rockets immediately start co-ordinating repairs to the salvageable downed rockets, calling in reinforcements and assisting the Valkeeri survivors on the ground in their firefight with the Imperial survivors as the Valkeeri take the opportunity to try and enslave the Imperial rocket crews and capture the ruins for their mysterious purpose.
We take a break as Taphyll goes to watch Django Unchained with his father and Mirium and I chat while she cooks us all a most scrumptious dinner. Then, our bellies settled, I teach Mirium how to play.
Even as the Valkeeri are celebrating their victory and have returned several downed rockets to the air, have reinforcements return the small fleet to full strength and rounded up the Imperial survivors inside the ruins, a new wave of Imperial rockets appears over the horizon. Racing in response to the message and then silence of Captain Shulme! The battle for these ruins had begun anew!
We used the same rockets as before. Mirium had only played one game of a miniatures wargame before, namely a single game of Warhammer, but the most complicated part of War Rocket is movement and that took only moments to explain. And the Valkeeri raced accross the table in two groups, a pair of Sirens and a Siren and a Fury.
I peel off one of my Scorpions to take on the two Sirens on the flank and send the Raptor and remaining two scorpions head after the class 2 Fury. The Fury and the Siren stop outside the Raptors range, so while the Fury’s second gun is also unable to fire the Raptor cannot fire back at all. So the Scorpions attack the Fury.
I always feel bad when I get such a lucky roll when teaching someone how to play, but still it’s early yet. The Scorpions must move first and I guess the best positions I can. The Valkeeri zoom in from all directions to the stricken Raptor while the Scorpions try and respond but only one can get a shot off at the Sirens as they whoosh through the sky.
The dice roll…
2 tens in a row.. my luck does like to hang on either end of the bell curve!
The Raptor recovers and one Scorpion holds in place for a delayed action turn while the other two try to get to where the action is.. and the now badly outnumbered Valkeeri blast the stationary Scorpion!
Mirium however loses the crucial dice roll for initiative between the equally fast class 1 rockets. She sends the Sirens behind a tower which gets them some safety from the Raptor but the Scorpions get in range to strike.
However the Imperial fire misses.
Continuing to try to evade the Scorpions and heading back near the tower as Mirium suffers a slew of low rolls for initiative I get another hit in and
The lone mobile Valkeeri Siren acts like a true Space Amazon would.
“Today is a good day to die! Ramming Speed!”
She goes in guns blazing at the Raptor, while the Scorpions pounce on the stunned rocket.
The consequences though
And the previously stunned rocket?
The next turn was simple, the Raptor turned to bring it’s guns to bear and the Scorpions swooped in for the coup de grace.
A good game that was closer than it felt, and but for the initiative rolls and my lucky hits could well have gone very differently. Thankfully Mirium wasn’t too disheartened and next time she’s visiting the area I’m sure to see more of her across the table in War rocket again as well as Warhammer.
Captain Shulme held his broken arm steady as he limped forward to greet the liberating soldiers, still woozy from the strange effects of the Valkeeri soldiers.
“How many do we have left?”
“A Raptor and two Scorpions in the air, Sir.”
“Search Fleet Beta has finished it’s sweep and is redirected here, estimated arrival in 2 deci-hours”
“And the enemy?”
“No further sign of Valkeeri yet sir”
“They’ll be back, and in greater forces I’d wager. It’s just a matter of time.” Shulme looked around the ruined building where he and the other survivors had been herded, his head growing clearer with every passing minute.
“They wanted something here soldier, they wanted it badly. Get the high-ranking Valkeeri prisoners off to the Interrogators, the low ranking ones sent to the MacGuffinite mine on Dormientes Draco.. triple guards on all prisoners and watch each other, these aliens get into your head close-up. As soon as you’ve done all that get every available able-bodied warrior here, we need to explore these ruins fast….”