Xenos VIP

This week we decided to try a game of Xenos Rampant. Neither of us particular knew the rules, so it was very much meant to be a learning exercise. I brought along some of my Ground Zero Games 25mm figures, with an army of Neu Swabian League (NSL), and some Federal Stats Europa (FSE).

This game was also being recorded by my opponent, who will be uploading a video version of the game to his Youtube channel at some point. Since I forgot to take notes during the game, this right up will be from memory, so liable to miss bits.

For the FSE, it was relatively simple. I had one unit of Powered Armour Infantry (Elite Infantry, with a lot of options), plus several units of light infantry. For a typical 24 point army, the powered armour was half of that at 12 points. The light infantry were cheap though, at only 2 points per unit, so I had six of them.

The Stargrunt version of my FSE have advanced gauss rifles as their main weapon, so I carried that forward into Xenos Rampant and gave them all ‘armour piercing’ weapons. I would have preferred to make the Powered Infantry ‘slow’, but that would have put them at 11 points, which would have been awkward. So I made them fast powered armour in order to make the point totals easier. This was an expensive unit, and unsurprisingly very powerful.

The NSL had a slightly more complicated build. The leader unit was a unit of Heavy Infantry, and the bulk of the army was three units of Jaegar recon infantry. They have short range weapons, and also have ‘hard to target’ which gives them better armour against shooting attacks. It’s at this point in writing this up, that I’ve realised that we completely missed this ability during our games. This would probably have made a difference, since the other half of this ability is that they can’t be shot at outside of 12″ range.

The third unit type was a mortar team. This turned out to be quite a powerful unit, able to bring down mortar fire on any unit without 12″ of any of the other units.

The first scenario we played was Scenario Kilo: VIP Extraction. Both the FSE and NSL were tasked with extracting a VIP from where he was hiding in some ruins in a heavily wooded area. We had to grab him, and then take him back off our end of the table before the other side. I was playing the FSE, so deployed as best I could to get around the woods.

All my troops were fast moving, but they would be slowed down by the woods. All the light infantry also get to move for free – which means that they don’t need to make a roll to see if they do. The Powered Armour don’t get free movements, so as with most Rampant games, they need to make a Move check to see if they execute a movement action.

The NSL also had fast moving troops, but had the advantage of being able to move through woods without being slowed. This turned out to be a big advantage during our first scenario, since it allowed them to simply head directly for the ruins and grab the VIP. There wasn’t much that I could do to prevent that.

I was trying to move my FSE up the centre as quickly as I could, plus sending a couple of units around the outside edge to try and catch the NSL in a pincer. I did manage to open fire on the front NSL unit, but they had hard cover in the ruins and despite taking a casualty, managed to keep hold of the VIP and fall back.

I had three units shooting at the Jaeger scouts, but without too much success. The Jaeger used their firefight ability (which all our units had) to shoot back in a reaction, causing me to take casualties as well. The Jaeger should have had one level of armour extra against shooting attacks, which we forgot. We also forgot that they couldn’t be targeted outside of 12″, which may or may not have affected things at this point. I also failed an activation roll sometime around this point, which ended by turn early and helped the NSL retreat without taking further hindrance.

So the Jaeger fell back with the VIP, getting him to the woods. There was a bit of shooting after this, and we both took casualties. Most of my casualties came from the mortar, which turned out to be deadly.

With the VIP taken off the board, there wasn’t much more I could do, so I conceded the game. We both lost a low cost unit (so +1 points each), but with the VIP the FSE scored +5 points.

This game hadn’t taken too long, so we decided to have a second game. This was going to be a direct head to head engagement, with no scenario. The ruined building was removed from the centre of the table, and the woods reshuffled somewhat. We kept the same armies and units, and went at it.

This engagement favoured me much more. The extra manoeuvrability of the NSL through the woods was no longer such a big advantage, since we were simply trying to kill each other rather than quickly get to somewhere.

Once again, the NSL Mortar team were highly effective. They could use any of their other units as spotters, allowing them to reign down terror (hitting on a 3+, when most of the other units where hitting on 6s) on any FSE unit that came within 12″ of an NSL unit.

However, there were better sight lines on this table, which allowed the NSL to take advantage of their ‘extreme range’ shooting attacks. In Xenos Rampant, any unit with a shoot range of more than 12″ can actually shoot out to line of sight, but at +1 armour to the target unit if it’s beyond their shoot range. My units had a range of 18″, but they could hit anyone they could see.

This was particularly useful for my Powered Armour unit, which made short work of several of the NSL units.

However, as I mentioned at the start, the NSL Jaeger units have Hard to Target, which means that I shouldn’t have been able to shoot at them beyond 12″. This probably would have made a big difference, though I still would have been able to take out their leader unit of heavy infantry.

Having to get within 12″ of a Jaeger unit to shoot them would make my units vulnerable to mortar fire. Which would have meant needing to rush the mortar team (which I did manage to do towards the end of the game) to take those out quickly. I probably would have used hand to hand combat (something none of us did), which would cancel out the Jaeger’s advantages, but their ability to move through woods would have given them an advantage in avoiding that.

So, not entirely sure how the game would have gone if we’d remembered the Hard to Target ability. But as it was, the FSE won the second game.

As mentioned before, Xenos Rampant is a very quick to play set of rules, since there isn’t a great deal of rule based tactics to worry about. We still managed to get some rules wrong, including around firefights and possibly suppression.

I had tried to design the units similar to what they are in Stargrunt, but some simplifications are needed. Different figures in a unit can have special equipment in Stargrunt, which doesn’t work in Xenos Rampant. I gave some units ‘Heavy Weapons’, to represent one of the figures having a SAW (Squad Assault Weapon), but it’s applied to the whole unit, not an individual figure.

In Xenos, you are either alive or dead. You don’t have to worry about wounded figures, plus of course you don’t get the chain of command options you have in Stargrunt. But then, Stargrunt has a lot of fiddly tokens, and takes much longer to play. Both can be fun, and which you prefer depends on where your preferences lay.

Anyway, I’ll add a link to Alec’s video once it’s been edited and uploaded, and for once there will be a second person’s opinion on the game rather than just my own.

Samuel Penn