Last Thursday saw an additional game in Deadzone campaign.
There was supposed to be zombies in this scenario, which made my mission of "Close In" (kill + infiltrate) a bit worrisome. However... at least it had the kill condition. Unlike all of my earlier missions.
My strike team was:
Stage 3a General Ethereal
1x Plague celatid swarm
1x Sectopod Strider
Enforcers had something like:
Missile Launcher Enforcer
Thermal Rifle Enforcer
And their mission was "Zulu" (control Z objective and kill stuff)
Plague started game, which isn't actually very nice thing to do if there are a lot of zombies around. My initial plans had been to make two bottlenecks for zombies to come and slaughter my poor aliens - one being Strider itself, and another a group of Plague Swarm and two Stage 3a mutons. I guess it worked well enough, though for some reason Strider seemed to fail horribly in melee. At least it didn't take damage either. Anyway, because of this, the pace I managed to clear the zombies was a bit problematic.
One of the zombies that had deployed on a roof made a suicidal dive at Strider. I guess falling from heights is more lethal than a dedicated 28 point melee monster:
Anyway, the interaction between actual strike teams was almost nonexistent for a few first rounds. Enforcers and their jump packs proved to be quite nice zombie-dodgers, and soon enough all enforcers had found their way into inaccessible (at least for the zombies) locations. Most of their activations went into gunning down the endless hordes of zombies, and enough of them seemed to spawn at a constant basis that enforcers were afraid to come down.
At this point I still had faith in the melee potential of Plague forces despite the flawed (in so many ways...) Strider.
Downfall began when zombies rolled 4+ successes with three dice and a nasty group assailed my strike team. Also an outbreak of atrocious combat dice rolls on my part killed half of my team before just about all zombies had been decimated. It was perhaps the start of round 3 when I got only strider, a stage 3 trooper and a plague swarm at my disposal. I didn't realize it then, but now that I'm writing this I lost the mission right here. Even if I killed every six Enforcers and infiltrated my remaining three models, I'd gain only 9 victory points.
Enforcers had, I think, suffered an injury on one of their models.
Even if I didn't realize I had already lost, I had given up winning the game. My desperate plan to get at least some reputation out of all this was to go on a killing spree with plague swarm and hopefully infiltrate with strider and stage 3a trooper.
Obviously everything failed here, too. Plague Swarm did manage to kill missile launcher enforcer, but that was it. No killing spree for it. But it was my first reputation in the whole damn campaign! Truly paid for in blood and tears. Or whatever it is the plague bleeds and cries.
Plague Swarm was shot to pieces, but since it had injured another enforcer before it went down, I succumbed to the fallacy of exchanging fire with enforcers. And I admit it's really tough for me to give up once I make my mind up on something. And I had determined to kill that one enforcer. I believe the Strider tried to shoot him down with flamethrower for three full rounds, and stage 3a muton found a grenade that was put to use. But no. Once the Enforcer was set on fire, though.
Too late I gave up my plans, and it's quite possible I still would have continued to shoot fire on top of the green building if it was not for enforcer with thermal rifle who with just one bullet caused three wounds to my strider.
But just as I was about to start full, unorganised and cowardly rout, random zombies popped up nearby and tore strider to pieces. Last remaining stage 3a trooper had no other options than to charge the two culprits, but I think you can guess the sorry end result:
Five dead plague models by zombies. One dead plague model killed by enforcers.
One dead enforcer killed by plague.
Uh oh. When you put it like that, the game looks much more one-sided than it was. If it wasn't for a few unlucky combats, I believe I'd have had a decent chance of getting at least a bit better result. Enforcers were in difficult positions, sure, but they were just stuck there. Finding the "zulu" objective would have been very difficult for them.
Also, the plague swarm did have decent chances for slaughtering at least one additional enforcer, and with some luck it might even have eaten three full enforcers in one round.
But I had gained my very first reputation. Yay! Last remaining seven missions have to go really well if I'm going to win this campaign. But that reputation was rather costly.
I started rolling for injuries and experiences and such. Ethereal General didn't suffer anything. One Stage 3a muton died entirely, and another lost a point of shooting skill. Last muton soldier lost a point of fighting skill, but rolled a point of fighting skill for rank advance.
Plague Swarm lost a point of survival, and gained a veteran die.
And about the Sectopod Strider... let's not talk about the Sectopod Strider. In fact... let's never talk about it again at least during this campaign - unless I somehow manage to collect twenty eight points of reputation to buy a new one.
The woe that is my aliens.