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A Tomorrow's War Battle Report by Mike Proudlock

BACKGROUND

32 Andromeda

32 Andromeda, or COL-HUATH (Predator's Eye) as the system is known by the Marshborn, is a orange giant star some 344 light years from Earth and around 810 light years from the Marshborn home world. It has a system comprising of 4 gas giant planets, any inner, rocky planets having been swallowed when the star expanded to giant. The gas giants have a range of satellites ranging in size from large asteroid to earth-sized objects. The inner planet, some 1.5 AU from the star, in particular has 2 of the larger moons, one of which has an oxygen-rich atmosphere, surface water and has a reasonably developed ecosystem. The other has a thinner atmosphere and a largely barren surface, any life being limited to primitive moulds and algae. Both moons are relatively rich in minerals, and particularly in strategically important compounds.

Although the system and its mineral wealth has been known to the Marshborn for nearly a century, they have never felt the need to exploit it as they have access to resources nearly as rich but much nearer their core worlds. The planet was surveyed more recently by a human survey ship, resulting in a mining colony, jointly settled by the UK and Japan, being establish 20 years ago. The combination of the rich mineral deposits and advanced robotic technology meant the colony thrived, paying off its establishment loans many years ahead of the normal schedule. With independence, however, came a reduction in the support from the sponsoring company so that, apart from the routine heavy freighters collecting mined products, contact with the home worlds was reduced to periodic security and re-supply visits from naval vessels every 3 years.

Given the size of their claimed volume of space, even the resources of the Marshborn empire cannot patrol every part of their frontier very frequently. They do, however, take protection of their space very seriously and all areas are visited by ships of the fleet as frequently as possible. The cruiser DARK WARRIOR was the first ship to visit the vicinity of Col-Huath for nearly 30 years when it detected unexpected emissions from the planet. With its stealth systems fully engaged, the DARK WARRIOR investigated and discovered the young human colony. Such an incursion by an unknown alien species is totally unacceptable to the warriors of the Marshborn fleet and they took action to capture the aliens, using chemical agents to subdue them. Leaving a substantial force of ground warriors in case of further intrusions, the surviving aliens are taken by the DARK WARRIOR to the nearest military base for further study, a round trip of about 6 weeks.

It is during this period that HMS DIDO, a Royal Space Navy cruiser, escorted by the destroyer IJNS HOKAZE arrived at 32 Andromeda on a few-supply visit. Not being able to make contact with the colony, a landing force of Royal Marines and Japanese naval infantry amounting to about a company strength was sent to the surface to investigate. The colony buildings were found to be intact, but apart from signs of a rapid departure, such as meals still on tables, there is no sign of the colonists nor any clue as to what happened to them. Units dispatched to the various colony out stations found the same situation at each of these.

The Marshborn warriors on the planet had been monitoring the human troops and the battle team commander, in accordance with his orders, moved to neutralise the new incursion. The DIDO and HOKAZE detected some indistinct signs of power and movement although they were unable to localise or identify the source. They did alert the landing force commander, however, who recalled his dispersed troops, started preparing defences at the outskirts of the colony, and sent 3 of his four shuttles back to the ships to transport the remaining troops on board to the planet if needed. The marines completed their initial foxholes and had taken up position when the Marshborn forces arrived.

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THE ACTION

The Marshborn spearheaded their advance with power-armoured BLOOD CLAW troops and scout walkers followed by infantry mounted in fighting vehicles. First blood went to the Marines as a gauss anti-armour rifle team picked off a walker with its first shot. To the disappointment of the Marshborn, the walkers, while capable of delivering major firepower, proved very vulnerable to human anti-tank fire, with all 4 vehicles succumbing in the first half of the battle. An IFV that tried to engage the rifle team was also engaged, suffering damage to its mobility and causing both the crew and passengers to bail out. The Marine scout detachment attempted to ambush the now exposed Marshborn infantry. The Marshborn, however, despite being shaken from the damage to their vehicle, reacted quickly and felled the scouts under a hail of fire. The Marine platoon leader called in a mortar strike on the debussed infantry which, although it was accurate, had no effect.

The Marshborn response, while no causing major casualties, was enough to drive the Marines from their defences to avoid the volume of fire from the Blood Claws and a Marshborn tank. The warriors followed up the retreating Marines, overrunning the trenches on the Marine left flank and centre, one fire team of power armour troops clearing one trench in a vicious hand-to-hand fight. Human resistance was hindered as a chemical weapon detector went off, forcing the troops into protective gear and reducing their fighting capability for a while until the false alarm was recognised and the all clear sounded.

On the Marshborn right flank scout power armour, followed by further power armour troops began to push towards the colony town, outflanking the defenders. All attempts by the Marines to engage the Marshborn were defeated either by the Marshborn stealth systems, preventing any engagement, or by the intended target units firing first. Human casualties were now beginning to mount, with a number of serious wounded being aided to the casualty clearing station and a few fatalities.

The Marine commander was beginning to look over his shoulder at the remaining shuttle sitting on the colony landing pad, and searching for the Japanese and Power Armour platoons expected imminently. After the failure of the mortars to inflict any damage on the enemy, several attempts to call in fire support from the ships on Marshborn concentrations were unsuccessful. Degrading weather as a weather front rolled in, bringing heavy rain that reduced visibility, did nothing to help the struggling human forces as the Marshborn were general keeping some distance from the humans.

With the situation looking grim for the humans, the Japanese infantry finally arived and, though their armed combat droid was quickly destroyed by the Marshborn Blood Claw scouts, the Japanese took their revenge as a rifle section shot down the armoured troops, and inflicted another casualty on a line power armour unit. At the same time on the other flank, an attempt by Marshborn power armour to engage a Marine fire team was preempted by a storm of fire that left all 3 armour troopers as casualties. With the human power armour troops marching onto the battlefield the balance of the engagement hung in the balance, but did seem finally to be tactically tilting in favour of the humans. There was still fight on the Marshborn, however, and they had managed to capture nine of the Marines from the scout section and one of the trench positions.

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AFTERMATH

Time having run out, the game had to be finished at this point. On the day's tally of victory points it was a Marshborn victory mainly due to the captured humans. The humans, however, remained in contention mainly due the destroyed walkers and just tipped the balance once the the fates of the Marshborn power armour casualties were deterrmined (see below), making this a very marginal human victory.

The humans had been pushed back into the town and had suffered significant casualties but had been limited to a rifle platoon and the weapons platoon for most of the action. Their Japanese platoon had just come into action, and the Power Armour platoon was also about start engaging the enemy. It was likely that at least some of the Marshborn Blood Claws would be captured (particulalry as two of the three scouts were serioulsy wounded and the third was lightly wounded). The line Blood Claw section suffered two killed and one serious wound, and a further serious wound on the remaining power armour casualty. Nine humans had been captured and removed from the battlefield.

The Marshborn had made very limited use of their armour, with the MBT only firing one shot in the entire game and lurking towards the rear of the action. The MICVs also played little part beyond acting as battle taxis after the damage caused to one in the first turn. More agressive use of their armoured firepower could well have decided the battle befire the human reinforcements arrived.

Given the game balance it would be difficult to call the battle overall if it continued, although there was slight tactical advantage to the humans starting to emerge. It is clear, however, that a wider war would be close and hard fought based on this initial encounter. Neither side could take much comfort from their performance in this initial engagement.

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