Friday, 1 April 2011

Mummerset 03.27.11 Part 1

 
We met for our third Operation Sandbox game, which is set on the planet of Mummerset. The kick off for the actual miniatures on the table part of the day was delayed by three hours due to the need to prevent an Ikea shelving system from collapsing, and the need to feed ourselves at the end of this time. Fortunately, we had a new player turn up to join the game, Trevor, and this meant that I was able to fill him in on some of the background, with help from Clive, Dan and Susan.

To recap the end of the last session we were left with the team about to go on high alert for one week, with part of the forces aboard their orbiting dropship the Northern Lights. I used the power of GM fiat to rewind some time and revisit the preparations, and therefore add Trevor's character into the fabric of the campaign. Trevor got to play one of the NPCs that they had met at the May Ball during the last session; playing Colonel William Whales of the 3rd Royal Mummerset Regiment of Guards. This put Clive on edge who thought I was being trés evil and setting the team up with an informant to spill their plans etc., which turned out not be the case. My evil plans for the players are far more involved than simple stoogery.

However, Trevor did get to play the OPFOR, being the commander for what turned out to be two separate actions that would occur that day on Mummerset, playing two people who's call signs were "Billy Bob", and "Little Bill".

So the game kicked off at beginning of week 30 of the campaign, with a total of 12 weeks spent so far on the planet of Mummerset. Before the dropship went into the planned geostationary orbit the players were all briefed as to the current situation in Mummerset society from Queen Elizabeth "Bess" Burlington being admitted to Elizabethville Royal Infirmary after suffering what appeared to be a stroke in her frontal temporal lobe. The Royal Household official report is that she is in a stable, but critical condition, requiring surgical intervention. As a result of this illness H.R.H. Prince Albert Burlington heir to the throne was to be invested as King, having the full support of General Sir Thomas Briton who had been the Queen's biggest supporter during her rule.

After the faff of working through those details, we then went onto Captain Heidenheim's briefing on the possible landing paths the unknown dropship might take when landing on Mummerset; these boiled down to either a pro-grade, retrograde, or Polar orbit re-entry. The lack of aerospace assets available for the battalion rather limited the tactical options for the players. Fortunately, for the players, Trevor's 3rd Royal Mummerset Regiment of Guards allowed their plan to be refined and give them a back stop positions for worst case scenarios, and this force was given the operational name of Forge (to go with the theme of Hammer, Anvil and Tongs).

The game then kicked off with the detection of the arrival of a jump ship at the pirate drop point, which was detected at approximately 18:00 local time, just as the sun was setting and Mummerset was going into night. With the Northern Lights dropship running dark in geostationary orbit, it allowed the players to know the position of the enemy drop ship (from its engine flare), and Captain Heidenheim's crew were able to calculate that it would take 6 hours for the unknown dropship to enter Mummerset's atmosphere.

The tension was palpable as the final re-entry path of the unknown ship was revealed and the landing site it was heading for, which I think came as a surprise to the players, and yes it did create a conundrum for them as though they had planned for a ship to land and mechs not necessarily to come from it, the time and place created operational difficulties from having to transport part of their force by air to the landing site, which caused hours of delay. Hours that the crew of the dropship then had to unload whatever they had brought with them to the planet, and load whatever they were going to ship out with them in exchange.

The Scenario

At 03:00 Mummerset time the unknown dropship was detected entering the atmosphere of the planet using a Polar projectory, coming in over the North Polar region and setting down at the abandoned city of Cromwell, which use to be the major metropolis of Mummerset before the fall of the Star League. The dropship used the old airport facilities at Cromwell to land on, which of course hides the obvious disruption to the ground that would be cause had it landed in the open countryside.

The re-entry route meant that the Northern Lights could not do a simple drop descent onto the unknown's landing sight as it would be easily detected as it effectively spiraled down from geostationary orbit. The players had hoped that they could initiate a burn that would coincide with the other ships communication blackout during re-entry, but it was not to be. This of course meant that in all probability the other dropship would blast-off before the Northern Lights could land.

The players then discussed how to get the air transported elements of their force to Cromwell and how long this would take? They had five distinct elements to plan for. The first four were the scout helicopter squads that they had used to set up observation posts at likely routes the enemy could take to make a raid. This element of their forces were called Red Rovers. The first Red Rover chopper team would reach the outskirts of Cromwell by 06:15, with the second arriving an hour later. These would be the only units of the Red Rover elements that would play an effective part in the upcoming action.

Force Anvil (the airmobile element with the Zeus and four missile GEVs and two battle armour squads being transported by VTOLs and a heavy lift chopper), would arrive on the outskirts of Cromwell at 08:45. Following this rendezvous the Red Rovers were tasked with proceeding to the dropship landing site, in advance of force Anvil arrival to recon the site.

It took the the Red Rover team 45 minutes to traverse to the landing zone and spot the dropship where they came under fire from an unknown mech that had been hiding in the city at 09:15. One team landed their infantry on top of a building to act as observers and then the choppers withdrew to await the arrival of force Anvil. At 10:00 the Northern Lights lit up and descended from geostationary orbit arriving near force Anvil so as to combine the force Hammer assets (the Crusader and Scorpion mechs, four self propelled artillery pieces, four battle armour squads, and one infantry platoon) for the upcoming battle of Cromwell.

After coming out of re-entry blackout, the Northern Lights picked up a newsflash over the Mummerset broadcasting systems announcing that at 10:15 the motorcade transporting H.R.H Albert Burlington, along with General Sir Thomas Briton had been blown up by terrorist insurgents with both of them reported killed in the explosion. This put the cat amongst the pidgeons. Northern Lights lands at Cromwell at 10:27, and as predicted the unknown dropship (identified as a Manatee Class ballistic dropship as it left Mummerset) by the crew of the Northern Lights had lifted off taking advantage of the Northern Lights being in communication blackout during re-entry.

At this point the players decided that they would go ahead with unloading the self-propelled guns, but that they would take the Northern Lights up to Elizabethville, where a battle had started between the terrorist insurgents who were attacking the royal palace defended by Colonel Whales's 3rd Royal Mummerset Guards. it was felt that the arrival of the Northern Lights and two mechs would be a force multiplier in what was seen as the decisive engagement of the day (as the GM I was surprised by this decision, which would come back to haunt the players later).

So the Northern Lights carrying a reduced in size force Hammer took off at 10:30 and flew to Elizabethville to help Forge force under the command of Colonel Whales, while the reinforced force Anvil maneuvered towards the now vacated dropship landing site with the intent to engage with the enemy mech that had fired at the Red Rover scout choppers.
   

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