Invaders Attack Cherbourg

The horizon was soon filled with the glinting metallic shapes of alien tripods, advancing in a long line.  This menacing advance was mirrored at sea, the depths of the ocean proving no obstacle to the Invaders. In the fields outside the city the Invaders paused and busied themselves constructing a strange alien building.  Soon the sky was thick with the huge copper coloured insects that swarmed around the Invader war machines.  Initial intelligence indicated that along with the gangly tripods and squat predator bombers we had come to know and fear, two massive Hive Ships were also present in each force, coordinating the Invader attack, including a type not seen before, which mounted a strange and ominous looking cannon.

Meanwhile the humans prepared their defences.  The Séré de Rivières line had been constructed from a chain of defensive towers anchored by a huge bunker complex.  Tanks assembled and prepared to assault the Invaders and delay their attack on the city.  French armoured forces had been strengthened by the arrival of a Polish Lithuanian Coalition strike force, which included an immense Perun Mobile Airfield, several squadrons of Spzada, Palnik and Poltava tanks.  In the skies overhead were sleek airships including a Zamiec Class Sky Fortress and Gryf Flame Blimps.  The Coalition commanders had followed the reports from the battle of London and hoped that the flame retardant armour on their fighting vehicles might reduce the potency of the terrible Invader Death Ray.

The French had deployed a formidable naval force, which included many of their finest capital ships including a Charlemagne Class Dreadnought, Magenta and La Rochelle Class Battleships, a Cherbourg Battle Cruiser and a flotilla of smaller craft including cruisers, destroyers and corvettes.  This naval power was further boosted by a French aerial contingent which included a Tourbillon Sky Fortress, heavy interceptors and bombers.

Without warning the tripods moved forward and the battle began in earnest.  The Cherbourg battlecruiser bravely sailed from the port directly toward the massed line of alien war machines.  The heat lancettes of the battlecruiser struck true, damaging a huge Sentinel tripod, but the Invader return fire swiftly immolated the plucky ship, leaving her a burning hulk.

In the fields outside the city a squadron of Spazda and Palnik tanks rapidly advanced from the sheltering towers, but the Invader plasma weapons picked off the tanks one by one as they drove across open ground, shattering their morale, meaning their uncoordinated fire only stuck glancing blows to the smaller Terror Tripods.

The city defences soon began a coordinated barrage so fierce that we were sure it would annihilate everything before it, but as the guns fell silent and the smoke cleared, the tripods still advanced with grim intent.

Realising the importance of the human Bunker Complexes, and their pivotal position in protecting the cities approach, both Invader forces targeted these structures. Energy weapons flashed repeatedly and pummelled the concrete and steel with white-hot plasma until the proud forts were both ablaze.  Then the Harvester Hive Ship levelled its fearsome weapon, bathing the battered fort in blue light, and in an instant hundreds of proud French soldiers who had been preparing to repel the aliens with all their might, simply vanished. 

Meanwhile, in the harbour the capital ships of the French navy joined the fray, their guns and heat lances striking the Invaders with terrible force.  But where a human ship would have been torn asunder, the Invader tripods simply continued to stride forward and attack.

Victory Points at the end of Turn One: Invaders = 2, Humans = 0.

The coordination of human fire in the fields outside the city yielded a major success when an assault by French L’Aman Heavy Tanks supported by accurate fire from the guns of the bunker complex, finally sent one of the enormous Sentinel Tripods staggering drunkenly, then plunging to the ground.  As the humans cheered, Predator bombers streaked overhead as if seeking revenge, their bombs and plasma weapons destroying two of the L’Aman tanks and causing enormous damage within the Bunker.

In the harbour the power of the massed French gunnery finally struck home and several Terror tripods and a Sentinel were torn apart, the baleful light from their carapaces only finally extinguished when they sunk beneath the waves.

In reply the Invaders focussed their weaponry on Fort de Chavagnac which guarded the port.  Soon the concentrated energy weapons took their toll, and the battered French fort erupted into flame; an enormous funeral pyre which opened the way for the Invaders to attack the city. 

In an attack which eerily mirrored their allies at sea, the Invader land attack force poured their fire into the bunker complex, until it too was a smoking ruin, shattering the Séré de Rivières line.  To the defenders of Cerbourg, it seemed for a moment like the Invaders were unstoppable.

It was the smallest of the assembled tanks that gave heart back to the defenders of Cherbourg.  The Poltava small tanks, darted from the city and fired with deadly accuracy, picking off the damaged Terror tripods one by one.

The Zamiec Class Sky Fortress closed on its target, the Invader Drone Hive, dropping a squadron of small tanks into the fray and fighting off the persistent attacks of Hornet drones which surrounded it. 

Victory Points at the end of Turn Two: Invaders = 10 (6 from objectives), Humans = 2.

In the Harbour the aggressive tactics of the French momentarily prevent the Invaders from targeting their objectives in the city.  The French capital ships surge forward, guns and heat lances firing at close range.  A squadron of Alma Reconnaissance Frigates, displaying immense bravery, punch through the Invader line, then circle around to devastate a Sentinel tripod from behind, firing at virtually point-blank range.

In the fields outside the city Coalition forces close in on the Drone Hive, small and medium tanks surging forward and striking the strange alien structure with barrage after barrage of gunnery, then bathing it in fire from their heavy flamethrowers.  So close are they to the enemy, a Sentinel tripod casually steps on one of the Invader defensive mines, ignoring the ensuing blast, which seriously damages many of the tightly packed small tanks.

The Invaders now unleash a different type of weapon, employing dastardly mind control powers to compel the French Admiral aboard the La Rochelle battleship to turn its guns on the nearby Charlemagne Dreadnought, the heavy heat lance tearing through the Dreadnought’s armour causing massive damage, the Charlemagne Class Dreadnought and Magenta battleship, both badly damaged now succumb to the Invader's Death Rays, sinking beneath the waves, as the few survivors desperately swim for shore

A similar mind-control attack on the other front of the battle compels the gunners in one of the cities defensive towers to open fire on a Coalition interceptor as it streaks past, destroying the small plane before the pilot realises what was happening. A lone Danton Landship drives toward the enemy, the last real defence between the Invaders and the refugee shelter they seek to destroy.  The Harvester Hive Ship strips the landship of its compliment of soldiers, then its energy arc ignites a sturganium flare within the landship causing it to materialise in a farm miles away, upside down.  Deprived of their last line of defence the refugees are helpless as the Invader Predator bombers attack, mercilessly destroying the refugee centre and coalition bombards.

Despite this setback the coalition forces relentlessly drive toward their objective, smashing the Invader Drone Hive until there are gaping holes in the alien armour.  Sensing their opportunity, the Gryf Flame Blimps surge forward, their guns downing another Sentinel tripod, as they dispatch shock troops who board the Hive, retrieve vital intelligence, then set charges which destroy the alien structure entirely.

Victory Points at the end of Turn Three: Invaders = 22 (10 from objectives), Humans = 10 (5 from objectives).

The Invaders now seize their opportunity to attack the city.  Two squadrons of Predator Bombers, pursued by human interceptors, have broken through the human lines, and now nothing stands between them and their targets.  Within moments the Advanced Research Centre and the second refugee shelter are the target of devastating attacks, causing them to phase out of time and space momentarily, only to reappear spliced through other structures, destroying both buildings.

The humans fight on grimly, determined to seek revenge.  The French mass an attack on an Invader Hive Ship.  The crippled alien craft is boarded by French marines from the hardy Requin corvettes, and left ablaze, to slowly sink beneath the wave.  The death of an Invader Commodore a small victory after the loss of so many human lives.

The tanks of the Polish Lithuanian Coalition pursue a Scarab Hive Ship, pummelling it with fire then boarding and destroying it.  As the huge metallic craft sinks into the earth, scores of insectoid drones fall from the sky.

The Invaders have suffered heavy losses; only a handful of tripods remain, and half of the mighty hive ships that lead the assault have been destroyed along with the fearsome Drone Hive.  However, the humans have been defeated, all their objectives have been destroyed and Cherbourg is ablaze.

Victory Points at the end of Turn Four: Invaders = 34 (20 from objectives), Humans = 15 (5 from objectives).

Authors note:  This scenario was actually much closer than the final score would suggest.  Had the Invaders not managed to destroy the final two city objectives, the 10 victory points they earned as a result would instead have been awarded to the Humans at the end of turn 4, giving the Human forces a 1 point victory! 

This could have been achieved had the Humans had deployed their mobile airfields in a more defensive posture, placing them between the enemy and the city, forming a final line of defence which the Predator Bombers would have been forced to attack before they could strike the city (as per the special scenario rules).  Hindsight, of course, is perfect, and on the day the Human commanders can hardly be blamed for taking a more aggressive approach in taking the fight to the enemy, when confronted with the intimidating sight of a line of tripods advancing toward their forces from either board edge.

The Invaders are a lot of fun to play with and against.  The Human players reported that they knew they were outmatched by the superior alien firepower and armour, so found being a clear underdog fairly liberating – even a small success against the Invaders feels like a big deal.  In this game they had roughly 25% more points than the Invaders, and while they suffered heavy losses, they often gave as good as they got. 

As is usual I’ve asked the other players to comment on the battle from their perspective and to note their favourite model or squadron.

Invader Land Force Commodore:

Playing the Invaders is very easy, and ideal for new players to the game.  There is no aggressive boarding to worry about, no fear of being boarded until your ablative armour is stripped away, and combining rather than linking weapons makes for a very fast activation. 

Their major weakness is the lack of good options to combat small targets (particularly the small tanks which were both numerous and deadly in this game).  I tried to combat this threat with Drones in squadrons of 3, but I abandoned this strategy too early when I saw the advancing blimps, and relaunched the Drones as Wasps, which were shot down by a series of lucky AA rolls.  Another answer might be to use the Predator Bombers to bomb them using area bombardment, but in this scenario the Predators were essential for attacking the objectives.

The Harvester Hive Ship was great fun, especially as I deployed it to take advantage of the French Bunker Complex and landship, and it also managed to empty one of the Gryf Blimps before their attack run on the Drone Hive.  The Predators were probably my most effective model in this game, although I do love the Sentinel tripods.  The most iconic model in the Invader list they’re deadly, can take a lot of damage and look amazing!