Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Xenos Rampant: Shrove Tuesday Tussle in Tacoma

We played our first group game of Xenos Rampant on Shrove Tuesday at Silver King Games & Hobby in Tacoma. Silver King is a newer store and Tuesday was the first time most of us have played there. Kevin Smyth has been playing Saga and other games there since not long after they opened. The neighborhood is familiar, however, since Silver King is across the street and down from where American Eagles in Tacoma used to be. American Eagles (which began life as the Tacoma branch of the American Eagles in Seattle) had a large upper room for gaming and was the locus of our group gaming in the 90s and early 2000s. Silver King is a nice place to game with a large separate gaming room.

I look forward to their continued success. I think the only thing missing is a 6' x 8' table (or two). Silver King, like a lot of recently-opened games stores, is directed at new school games that are meant to be played on a 3' x 3' or 3' x 4' space. That's a challenge to old school gamers who want at least 6' x 8' for big games. Mark Waddington and I tried to join two of the 4' x 8' tables they have in the back, but an 8' x 8' game table is impracticable—especially for older, fatter men who can't come close to reaching the center of the table. However, the 4' x 6' mat was sufficient for five of us to play a game. I look forward to more games at Silver King.

Eric Donaldson and I have been working away at forces for Xenos Rampant. I realize in writing this that I never blogged about building my XR force, but shall amend that omission. I've also been busy building terrain for the game. I've spent a lot of moolah on Etsy buying 3D-printed terrain bits from all over—I'm expecting some to arrive this month from Greece. My figures are mostly Blue Moon minis that are sold by Old Glory. Eric's are mostly from the Scavs of Planet K line from Khurasan. We created 49-point forces that we could divvy up amongst whoever showed up to play.

I set out the terrain I worked on until almost 2:00 am that day on one the the TableWar "Desert Planet" mats that I inherited from Dave Schueler. (Dave loved the TableWar mats and had several of them.) I was still at work Tuesday morning, after about 3 hours of sleep, doing final touches on some of the terrain to get it to blend better with the orange-yellow mat.

The inspiration for the reddish-desert scheme came from Eric, who mentioned that he was going to base his figures using a red color scheme to give them an "alien" feel. I got on board with that and worked out a basing/flocking/tufts scheme. I followed through with that scheme on the 3D-printed terrain pieces I bought on Etsy.

Players for the game were Eric and Bill Stewart—playing his first Sci-Fi game in 45 years—who ran Eric's force of Scavs and "Federal advisors." Mark, Michael Koznarsky, and I used my figures. We played Scenario Bravo: Secret Mission from the rulebook. We were the attackers. Our main mission was to kill the best of the opposing forces, which was Eric's unit of tricked-out Light Infantry (7 points). There were also three of six objective markers, which were randomly chosen.

Eric's forces were mostly lighter types. His only Heavies were two "Federal advisor" units and one unit of mechanoids. All of them were 5 SP units, but tricked out with the Heavy Weapon and Armor-Piercing options, which made them pretty deadly, as I learned to my sorrow.

My forces were heavier types including Elite Infantry, two 10 SP units of Heavy Infantry, a 10 SP unit of Heavy Infantry mechanoids, and a Fighting Vehicle with the Walker option. 

Although we were equal in points, my forces had an advantage in basic armor, but Eric's lighter-armored troops made up for it by being deadlier.

We attacked on a fairly broad front with Mark and the mean machine on one flank, I on the other, and Michael in between.

I ran my Heavy Infantry up next to Michael's command to support him in the center. I ran my Light Infantry up into some alien-looking trees. I advanced my Elite Infantry in the open on the flank. I assumed too much about the impenetrability their 4 armor.

My first taste of being disillusioned on that point came when I exchanged fire with Eric's mechanoids. Eric made his Firefight roll and in the simultaneous exchange, I lost three SPs. His mechanoids were only a 5 SP unit, but had the Heavy Weapon and Armor-Piercing options. Thus they could only hit on 6s, but every 6 counted as two hits. Eric rolled five sixes. My 4 armor went down to 3 and the 10 hits reduced me immediately to below half-strength. The Elites were pretty much spent for the rest of the game.

On the other flank, Mark ran the walker and the mechanoids. 

My mechs were less deadly than Eric's, even though they were a bigger unit (10 SP).

For Bill, who faced Mark on that flank, the biggest worry was the walker.

Bill's "technical," the only vehicle they had, got the short end of an exchange of fire with the walker. Fortunately for Bill, the vehicle's passengers had hopped off the turn before their taxi went up in a ball of fire. Sadly, Eric forgot that the buggy had the Anti-Tank option. That might have hurt the walker a bit.

Eric had two Recon Infantry units that remained mostly out of the fight because they couldn't shoot or be shot at outside 12" range. However, they were an element of threat as my flank crumbled. 

My 5 SP Light Infantry unit, got into a firefight with Eric's 10 SP Light Infantry. I suffered worse.

Mark's mechanoids started taking losses from Bill's Light Infantry, the twin of Eric's unit. All the light infantry in the game had the Guerilla option, which further improved their armor when in light cover. Skulking in the bushes, Eric's Lights were a 4 armor (5 over effective range) and powerfully armed. However, supported by the walker, the bots stayed in the fight even after being reduced below half their strength.

Michael, meanwhile, was moving up but not taking much fire. At one point his command was the only one without losses.

Michael engaged Eric's Lights, the same unit that made mincemeat out of my Lights, and started making an effect. Our fire tended to be OK with a steady attrition effect. Eric showed a latent talent for rolling 6s, which caused us a lot of grief because of the Heavy Weapon effect.

At on point, Eric targeted Michael's 5 SP Light Infantry unit in the open. Because of the Firefight option, their armor went down to 1. Eric rolled 5 6s again and the Lights just evaporated. That turned out to be the only unit we lost, even though others, like my Elites and Lights, were decimated.

After a few more turns of shooting, Eric's Lights finally went to half strength and he rolled a 1 on his courage test, which routed it away. That was pretty much game. Eric's Recon Infantry continued to skulk and menace my flank. When my Elite and Light Infantry units were reduced to half strength (well below, actually), they were ripe for plucking by some plucky Recon.

That was game. A Pyrrhic victory for us. Eric's Lights was the only unit we actually destroyed, though it's destruction was our primary mission. We took one of our three other objectives, but may have taken the others—though with further loss.

Xenos Rampant is a fun game and a great new variant for the "Rampant" family. Eric has more figures to paint. I just bought another force of Blue Moon minis to oppose my initial force. I also have a few other units, like a mechanoid sniper, two mechanoid Support Infantry units, and two of Khurasan's new walker mechs. 

Kevin and Mark are painting minis for XR and Bill inquired about the source of my walker (it's the Rampart Mammoth Walker sold by Archon Studio). 

I think Eric needs to supplement his "Federal advisors" with a unit or two of these bad boys from Khurasan:

Finally, I look forward to using Silver King as a new gaming venue. Tacoma is a long drive, but I did it all the time back in the day. We still have Zulu's up here and I'm hosting a 1914 game this weekend at stately Chez Dave in beautiful, formerly-bucolic, and less-than-formerly-sylvan Lynnwood.


  1. Great battle report. My name is Bill, I live in the Puyallup area. My friend Phil and I have been gaming for many years. It is not easy to find fellow games anymore.
    We game sci fi at Silverking from time to time. We would be interested in getting together and gaming if possible. Please contact me at thank you.

    1. I live in Lynnwood and can usually only get down to Silver King on Weekends.

  2. Great looking game and troops, David. I like the camo on the Walker. The colors remind me of Late-War German panzer camo.