Sunday, April 10, 2011

2nd Geonosis Playtest

Hello again!

Yesterday some of the CGC grognards came up to Chateau Thomson for a playtest of my Kublacon '11 event, The 2nd Battle of Geonosis. The battle takes place in Lucas' Star Wars universe, during the Clone Wars. You can see some animated action involving this battle in Season 2 of The Clone Wars TV series.

This "refight" loosely recreates the initial assault on the surface of the planet by the Clone Army, led by a handful of Jedi. Separatist elements defended the planet, primarily battledroids, but also the Geonosians themselves.

What led me to this as an event was, primarily, its scale. I love a BIG battle! Of course, the fact that I already had all the figures needed (less one, as it would turn out...), also helped the decision making process.

It took about a week to design and build the terrain. I started by painting a large canvas "battlefield". I mixed some cheap acrylic paints to try and get a shade as near to that of the planet as represented in the TV series as possible. I ended up mixing red, yellow, white and dark brown to end up with an earthy tone with a strong orange and less strong pink hues.

All miniatures are from WoTC's Star Wars game, less the MTT on the Separatist's side which is a Micro Machines playset. Also, the two AT-TE walkers and the gunship are all Revell kits on the Republic's side.

The Separatists had a much larger army than their opponents, but this was counterbalanced to a large extent by just how crappy most of their troops are. There were 100+ B1 Battledroids on the board. Their greatest use is to absorb blaster fire on behalf of their larger brethern, the B2 Battledroids. There were 50 or so of the later. Besides that, there were a handful of B1's with sniper rifles (not much threat there, but fun), four of the dreaded Destroyer droids, the MTT, two snail tanks and one Hailfire droid tanks. Leading the Separatists were Archduke Poggle (an old but wise Geonosian) and - non-canonical and included for fun - General Grievous with a couple of Magnaguard droids for backup.

The clone side was divided into two forces: A company of veteran clone troopers, and a company of the elite 501st. Each company had four squads of 12 troopers (1 NCO, 9 troopers, 2 troopers with squad support weapons). Leading the veteran troopers was General Luminara Unduli and her padawan Barris Offee and a clone commander. Leading the 501st were General Anakin Skywalker, his padawan Ahsoka Tano and another clone commander. Off-table and waiting to swoop in was a team of clone engineers armed with blaster pistols for close combat and thermal detonators to try and take out their objective.

Speaking of objectives, the Republic had two: Destroy the shield generator protecting the planet, and take out their munitions dump. The Separatists had to protect these.

Here are some snaps of the battle. I'll left a few comments on the outcome (from a game design perspective) at the end.

Almost the whole battlefield (the Geonosian hive would be in the lower-right corner, just out of shot).

This is the hive with its lid off. It's not huge, but it does allow for the defenders to make an effective stand without a lot of models.

The 501st deployed for battle.

A unit of battledroids: 20 B1 and 10 B2. As noted, the B1's greatest service is as absorbers of blaster fire for the B2s. Those guys suck!

The Separatist right flank. Grievous and his droids defend the supply depot. The two "snail" (actually NR-N99 tank droids) tanks are in the upper right.

Grievous has the option to escape via the shuttle on the landing pad (a pre-painted terrain piece by Tablescape; I ordered mine here in the US from Rattlehead Games).

Luminara with her padawan Barriss and a clone commander. Remember when I mentioned I had all the figures I needed for this game "but one"? Well, it turns out - in my collection of around 2,000 SW figures, I do not have a Barriss Offee. Doh! Thanks to eBay I've got one on the way, so crisis solved - woot! For those of you wondering, that's a Deepa Bilaba figure filling in for Barris. And no, I have no idea who Deepa Bilaba is.

More shots from the Separatist POV. Numerically, the Separatists outnumber the Republic forces by more than 2:1. As it turns out, that's still not enough. The Republic's real enemy in this scenario is the time limit, as we will see...

One more pre-action shot. The tall constructions are Geonosian hives - their homes actually. The Geonosians may, once per game per hive, spawn 1d10 drones and 1d5 soldiers from each.

This is early in Turn 2 (Turn 1 was mostly a maneuvering turn with only a few long range shots taken). This droid unit started with 20 B1 battledroids. Now, Scott was running these clones and his dice were particularly hawt yesterday, but I want you to count how many B1s are still standing. See what I said about them sucking? :)

This shot shows three things: 1) The general advance of the Republic's forces; 2) That the Revell AT-TE looks just fine on the battlefield in spite of being of a smaller scale than the troops; and 3) It was very windy up here yesterday, and the Geonosian spires kept blowing over. We eventually just left them down and only stood them up for LOS purposes.

The gigantic MTT advances! The clones have taken a few casualties, but their losses are puny next to those of the Separatist's.

The Republic players were a little over-cautious with their Jedi, especially considering that they are a tad too-invulnerable to blaster fire at this point in the rule's development. In the shots above you can see Luminara "leading from the rear". On the 501st flank, however, after discovering that Anakain and Ahsoka could not deflect blaster fire from behind a wall of clone troopers (i.e. to protect the troopers), they leaped forward into the midst of a large unit of B2 battledroids. Action... IN SPACE! The poor B2s didn't know what hit them. One was eventually able to count coup on Ahsoka though, with a punch to the cabesa!

The Separatists were trying their best to stop the AT-TE approaching the supply depot. They lost the Hailfire droid to a heavy blaster shot from the nearby clone unit. This tank is much harder hitting than the snail droids, so it was a considerable loss to the Separatists.

Heroic Action in action! When a hero model is facing an enemy that it cannot possibly hurt with a normal attack, it may attempt a "Heroic Action". If successful, the target will have a reduced DEF and Armor (#) value for the rest of the hero's attacks that turn. Anakin succeeded his heroic action roll and lept on top of the Spider Droid, only to miss on all his attacks... Doh! Such is the way of the Chico Game Club (where 1/285=100%).

Not to be outdone by her master, Ahsoka all but polished off the nearby B2s with her activation.

Ski-DOOSH! Score one for the bad guys! The snail tanks managed to hit with their ion cannons, demolishing the AT-TE. Fortunately for the Republic, the passengers had disembarked the previous turn.

RAAAAALPH! The MTT barfs out its payload of 40 B1 battledroids. What can 40 B1 battledroids do to a dozen elite clone troopers and 2 Jedi? Almost nothing... Remind me to fill that thing with B2s next time!

Grievous faces off against Luminara and Barriss! The GWFS rules are solid overall, but I'm really very happy with the rules for The Force and battles between heroes. Shame I can't publish them, really - the rules pertaining to The Force I mean. Anyway, this 3-way duel turned out AWESOME! All the playtesters have each played the rules 3 or 4 times at most but even that passing familiarity with the rules for heroic combat and The Force allowed them to have a truly epic encounter. The following description and photos won't do it justice, as there was a great deal of movement as the heroes used their AP to try and outmaneuver one another while lashing out with flurries of attacks. The fact that the figures look fairly static in these photos is not a true representation of what actually happened.

The Jedi rushed Grievous, trying to get the jump on him. Luminara used her Force TK ability to push one of his Magnaguards away, while Barris took on and destoyed the other. This was brilliant, as they would protect grievous by adding to his DEF as long as they were within 2" of him. Unfortunately for the Jedi, some lousy dice rolling kept them from damaging Grievous.

In the same activation, Luminara used Force Leap to jump behind Grievous, while Barriss, almost out of AP, lept away to get some distance from the dangerous cyborg. Luminara damaged the General, but only barely.

Worse, the General was able to react and wound Luminara!

Grievous' activation came next, and he used it to good effect, inflicting 3 wounds on Luminara - AFTER killing Barriss (the Magnaguard droid actually inflicted one of the wounds on Luminara)!

Luminara used Force Push to send the Magnaguard droid flying, smashing him against the side of a nearby hill, and then lept to the attack against Grievous. It was a brilliant plan... defeated by a series of low dice rolls!

Running out of ideas, Luminara attempted an old Jedi mind trick. "Say Grievous, isn't that Darth Urkel over there?" she said, pointing off into the distance. Not fooled, Grievous struck her down with his next attacks. The Republic attack on the supply depot would grind to a halt, a victory for the Separatists on this part of the battlefield.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, Anakin was merrily wading through another unit of battledroids. Completely oblivious of the fact that time had run out and the planetary assault would have to be delayed yet again as a result, he was only concerned with racking up a robotic body count so he could brag to his mates in the locker room at the Jedi spa.

As mentioned previously, the Republic had enough fire power to get the job done - there was no doubt about it. Without enforcing a time limit they could take their sweet time destroying the generator and supply depot, but then the game would last forever and that's no fun for anyone. Besides, the wind was really whipping up and the temperature had dropped and it was time to cook dinner, so we called it. :)

When I run this at Kublacon, there WILL be a turn limit for the Republic to get the job done. In the "real" battle, time was always on the side of the defenders, and deadlines make good means for driving the action forward. I think I will limit the Republic to 5 turns to get to the hive. If they can get inside by the end of Turn 5, then they will get 2 more turns to try and clear it out. They will not be able to do it unless a hero gets there too, unless they get so many troops there they can overwhelm the defenders in the hive. Regardless, it will be fun to see how the second playing turns out next month at Kublacon!


- Rod


  1. Outstanding! It makes me wish I had gone with the WoTC figures instead of the larger force unleashed stuff, now sadly oop. Thanks for the pics and aar!

  2. I have just started playing WoTC miniatures in my Clone Wars battles but I use the Fubar rules