Endgame, my FLGS, has a Dropzone Commander day on the first Saturday of every month. Usually there is some event planned, like a tournament or a campaign day. But, this month nothing was scheduled and we were only about 8 days out. Mike, of Endgame, and Steve, a local player and formerly of Endgame, put the call out for ideas. I spoke up with an idea that has been in my mental system tray for a few months: a Dunkirk-style rescue scenario. Mike told me to run with it and here’s what happened.
The Real Dunkirk
For those of you who are not up on WWII history, here is the very truncated story. Dunkirk was where the Allies (at that time without the US) were booted from the European mainland in May of 1940 by the surprisingly fast and brutal Nazi war machine. The French, British, and Dutch Allied troops were in headlong retreat from central France, finally becoming trapped on the English Channel at the city of Dunkirk. The Allies knew that if they didn’t do something quickly, the Nazi’s would destroy the majority of the Allied forces on the beach and then take England in the following months.
Those troops could not be left behind! Some (but not many) Navy ships and every civilian ship, sailboat, rowboat, tugboat, barge, etc. that would float was pressed into service to cross the Channel and bring whatever troops they could back to England. Many of these ships made multiple trips a day! This flotilla braved the Nazi Air Force and Navy, including submarines, over the course of the 9-day rescue effort. For every seven men rescued, one was left behind as a POW and thousands of others we killed in the retreat, or the shelling of the city, or on the beach, or they simply drowned as their rescue craft was sunk.
Though some 80,000 troops were dead or captured at the end, a total of 340,000 troops were rescued via this ad hoc rescue effort. Dunkirk was a military miracle that kept England in the war until the US finally joined the Allies shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
What Did I Want To Do?
What I wanted to do was a three table scenario where each table had a hand in helping the rescue effort.
Table Three would be called Operation Rip Off. This mission centered around stealing civilian transports from a Feral Warlord for use in the rescue effort. Points would be scored for each transport kept on (Feral side) or stolen from (Allies) the table.
Table Two would be Operation Acme Anvil. The ODL above just counted as terrain. This table centered around destroying 3 Scourge “Alpha Annihilators.” Annihilators with new long-range plasma weapons used for destroying large portions of cities from long range. Each Alpha the Allies killed scored points for them. Each Alpha that survived through turn 6 scored points for the Scourge/Ferals.
Table One would be the Dunkirk table. 20 bases of Resistance civilians would be scattered throughout the city of Dunkirk on Eden Prime. The Allies must rescue them before they are turned into Scourge hosts. The Allies scored for each civilian base rescued (escorted from the table) and the Scourge scored for each base captured or trapped at the end of the game. Both sides scored 1VP for each base of enemy troops killed (Allied bases being left behind at the end of turn 6 counted as being killed, also).
The original scenario outline won't be posted, but if you want a copy, shoot me an email and I'll send you one.
How The Day Went
We put together some great terrain for the event. Mike suggested using a 15mm Stalingrad (ruined factory, above) set from a different game system on Dunkirk, which worked great! In the 8 days I had, I made some hangars for Op Rip Off and got most of some painting done on a new barricade. Devin whipped up a bunch of N-scale barricades but we couldn’t find them come game time. I also brought some of my other 10mm terrain like the Creepy Statue, some GSI Bunkers, and the GSI Vers Nijmegen bridge.
Overall, the scenario was a success. Everyone had fun or, at least, said they did. We put together some wonderful tables and every army present was well painted. But, there were some things that needed tweaking…
For Operation Rip Off (above), the way transports were stolen was great, but the finite number of transports (12) on the board were all either stolen or destroyed by Turn 3. This left the players little to do but slug it out for the rest of the game. This has been changed to four of the buildings on the table housing Commuter Hanger Levels. The Hanger Levels house an unknown supply of transports that can be flown off the table as long as there are pilots available.
Operation Acme Anvil (above), being the table with the fewest special rules, ran the smoothest. This part of the scenario remains largely unchanged from its original form.
Dunkirk (above), needed the most work because it had the most special rules. Here’s what needed to change based on player feedback…
- This was a 2000 point game! I did this to slow the play in relation to the other tables but all it did was give the players information overload. The addition of Civvies to the mix should have been enough to slow things down sufficiently. List size has been reduced to 1500 points with a Standard roster.
- The way civilians were captured and collected wasn’t as nailed down as I thought. And it was overly complex. I’ve reworked that bit to give the Scourge an easier time.
- The buses and truck didn’t even get used because getting any bases in them was problematic. A base of civvies will start in each vehicle.
- Killing civilians was too tempting. In fact, 6 bases were killed “accidentally” by template weapons due to their close proximity to enemy units.
- Moving civilians was a nightmare. I made them into their own battlegroup, which made sense to me. But in reality this made coordinating pickups by the Allies very difficult. I also changed their activation from being the last Allied activation to the first Global Activation (they activate before either players force).
- The scoring wasn’t clear and may have emphasized the wrong things.
Operation Rip Off was close; 4 of the 12 civvie transports made it off the map and two of the PHR Tritons went to go help, too. Chris Loomis (the infamous Feral Warlord) put up a great fight against John and his PHR. The Ferals won this 8 to 4.
Acme Anvil didn’t go the Scourges way. Devin ended up destroying all three Alphas, but not without heavy losses to his force. It was a win, but that win was more Pyrrhic victory for him, than anything else. Allies won this one 6 to 0.
Dunkirk was a very difficult table to play. There was just too much going on. Solomon’s Scourge fought Lucas’s UCM tooth and claw, but again, it was very difficult for the Jellies to collect future hosts. It looked like the Scourge had the upper hand in kill points, but the UCM did a better job (and easier job) of rescuing civvies. The Allies won this table 14 to 10.
The overall score was Allies: 24 and Scourge/Ferals: 18. It wasn’t a blowout, but it was less close than I’d hoped.
Rev 2 of the Dunkirk scenario can be found here. It is still by no means perfect. But, it is interesting to watch and fun to play. If you have any ideas or improvements, I’m happy to hear them.
(additional photos stolen from Mike Montesa and Chris Loomis)