Monday, April 23, 2007

The Daleks Have Landed!

Well, it's spring time again (though hereabouts it is spookily much more like summer) and that means a new series of Doctor Who. To celebrate the fact (despite the fact that so far the new run has been CRAP!) I thought I'd dig out my old INVASION EARTH stuff and show young Sickly what it was all about.

Invasion Earth is a 28mm skirmish game that recreates those happy days of the Seventies when every week a different race of aliens would try to take over South East England. Ranged against them were the plucky boys of the British Army, attached to the UNITED NATIONS INTELLIGENCE TASKFORCE (or UNIT), an international organisation seemingly formed to fight men dressed up in unconvincing rubber suits.

The background for our game was that the Doctor's most famous foes, the Daleks, are planning an invasion of Earth (well, the Home Counties at any rate) and have sent a scouting mission ahead of their main force. Their job as baddy aliens is basically to kidnap a bunch of humans for testing and/or conversion into some kind of slave drones. UNIT have detected the alien ship and sent a patrol to investigate. Their task is to bring back some alien astronauts for interrogation and testing. So both sides want the same thing, basically: Each other.

To recreate our game you will need the following:
A Dalek force worth 12 points
A UNIT force worth 12 points (we fixed on 12 as this was the cost of 4 standard Daleks, which seemed a good number for our first game, even though it was more than you ever saw at once it some of the old episodes.)
Scenery and terrain to represent a sleepy, unsuspecting corner of southern England.
A mouth, to bicker with your opponent over petty points of rules law.
A flask of weak lemon drink.

(If you click on the pics, you ought to get a bigger version. I'm not sure as I ain't checked.)
Sickly wanted to be the UNIT troops (or the "Wild Geese" as he called them. He does have a point there, they do look a little like Burton, Harris, Moore and co. Maybe there's a future game to be had in that idea?) . With his twelve points he opted for a captain, five soldiers with SLR, and a Bazooka Team. We included the Land Rover because we wanted to, but decided that it would remain as a piece of scenery, otherwise it would have cost Sickly six of his points.

As stated before, I had control of a scouting party of four Daleks, those cheerful metallic dustbins brimming with hate.

The two factions entered at opposite corners of the playing area. The UNIT troops had the option of starting with a two-man advanced team ahead of the main body. Sickly decided this was a job for the bazooka boys.

The UNIT troops cautiously advance.

The Bazooka team push ahead, and set up a firing position behind a hedge.

The main body quickly follow up.

But here come the Daleks! Everybody hide behind the sofa!

Two of the Daleks head off to deal with the bazooka team, as it is perceived to be the greatest threat.

The remaining two halt to cover the movements of the other humans.

These chaps press on, while the bazooka team, fearing they will be flanked by the Daleks, relocate to the cover of the pink house.

The first shots of the game are fired, a Dalek blaster at extreme range.

Fortunately for the squaddies, the Dalek fire is ineffective.

The UNIT troops carry on up the road. They appear to be trying to flank the Daleks. The bazooka team deploy at an upstairs window.

At this point we called it a night, resolving to continue on the morrow. So, a short intermission.


You might like to drink your weak lemon drink at this point, OR you can save it until later.


Next morning...

...The UNIT soldiers continue their flanking movement, leaving just a single soldier to give covering fire.

A Dalek blaster spits forth its deadly fire, at the foolishly bunched-up humans.
The Captain falls dead. Real bad luck for Sickly, as his ability to make his men shoot more accurately would have come in very handy.

But the brave Tommies press on regardless.

A single Dalek has managed to reach the hedge, as the big tree was obscuring the bazooka team's field of fire from the upstairs window. Too late they have redeployed downstairs, just in time to be blasted to Kingdom Come. Well, the loader at any rate.

The surviving bazooka chap withdraws into the interior of the house. The Daleks begin blasting the building itself, in an attempt to bring it crashing down on to his head.

Two Daleks maintain a watch on the flankers as their colleagues deal with the bazooka.

Not wanting to be buried alive in the rubble, the bazooka fellow exits the house.

Two soldiers advance along the edge of the wheat field, to take some of the pressure off the bazooka man.

While over on the other side a firefight has developed. The Dalek for the first time remembers his mission and opts to use the "stun" setting.

After many shots ping off the Dalek's armour, finally a hit that cause some damage! I was seriously lucky with the Daleks' armour saves for ages.

(Those with keen eyes will spot the malevolent furry form of Buster in the background. He is the real force behind the Daleks' plans. Can't you see him just exuding ill-will to humanity, as he sits there, plotting and brooding.)

One of the Daleks enters the house, while another turns to face the new threat from the wheatfield. A stray soldier moves to unite with the bazooka operator, intending to act as his new loader.

The newly formed team await the Dalek behind the hedge. Using his "Unstoppable Force" ability, the Dalek dramatically bursts through the wall. Now is surely the bazooka's moment of glory...

...Except Sickly miscalculated, horribly! The target Dalek is inside the minimum firing range and they may not fire! Cripes! The Dalek quickly makes him pay for his mistake, stunning the two crew members.

Back over by the wheat field two UNIT soldiers take on a Dalek.

Sickly is learning the game, and has one soldier maintain fire on the pepper pot (causing a hit, too), while the other outflanks it...

...And charges into melee combat...

...Which Daleks are notoriously rubbish at. In the TV series it is possible to overwhelm them by simply throwing your coat over the stupid things. One Dalek immobilised. If the Good Guys win, this one will be recovered for testing and questioning.

At the same time on the other side of the field, a similar scene is being enacted...

...With the same result! They may be the Superior Beings, but they don't like it up 'em!
Two Daleks down, this isn't good!

But the squaddies have been whittled down as well. And we enter a final game of cat and mouse. Two Daleks against two soldiers.

Ouch! You damaged my Dalek!

Unfortunately for humanity, this final round goes to the metallic Space Nazis...

Eventually the last soldier is mopped up.

Final Results:
DALEKS: 2 Daleks damaged and immobilised
(but recovered and repaired)
1 Dalek Damaged but repaired

UNIT: Captain and three soldiers killed
Five soldiers captured and enslaved

So, not a bad tally for the Dustbinators, five more test subjects or mindless slave drones for the pot. Sickly had his own ideas as to what would happen to them, and it involved the Daleks' sink plunger attachments, but we won't go into that...

The game was bags of fun. Previously when I played it years ago I had worried and fussed that it was too simplistic, and invented all kinds of extra rules to jazz it up and make it more modern. For out of the box it is very Old Skool, and doesn't even have morale rules. But this time we tried it almost "as is" with a minimum of tinkering ( made the stun setting less effective than normal fire for one thing, to make it a tactical choice whether to use it or not).

I have to say, the lack of a morale system didn't spoil the game at all, which I found very surprising, as I would normally think of that as absolutely essential. If anything the players' own caution acted as a morale system of its own. Real good "fast play" fun. What I think that Cousin Jonathan refers to as "beer and pretzels", though I must own that I've never really understood what that means. Sometimes things don't need to be complex for you to have a good time. There were plenty of tactical challenges, we both discovered. The soldiers' rifles are more accurate at long range than Dalek blasters, but if a Dalek gets close they are deadly. On the other hand, if they get too close they are vulnerable to being close-assaulted, something which they do not excel at.

Also, the Daleks are not very maneuverable. They have to move in straight lines, cannot move and change facing in the same turn, and have quite a narrow arc of fire. A clever human player can use this to his advantage. On the up side, Daleks are tough, and take quite a bit of killing.

Sickly enjoyed it hugely, despite the fact that he lost. It was a very close-run thing, so he didn't mind so much. He's already been pestering me to play again, so we'll probably continue our campaign soon. I've promised him that the Doctor will be involved when we do...


Poruchik said...

Very Cool! I have the system, the soldiers and the metal cans o' death as well. On my paint table are a bunch of Sontarans. I have yet to play, but this could get me going. I like you will need to play the baddies as my daughters are both named after Dr Who assistants. So for us it will need to be double the baddies and two Doctors!

Excellent photos and a great report!

Anonymous said...

It looks like a really enjoyable game, it inspired me to buy it!
Your pictures are very good too, thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Well done Pol. Another good game with an excellent write up.

El Scurvo