If I were to write a letter to Santa, consciously suppressing the innocence-shattering image of my drunken stepdad sweating pure port while stuffed into an straining nylon red jumpsuit complete with false beard that, rather than breathing the magic of Christmas into the house, served to confirm the rumours circulating amongst the older children at school that Father Christmas was in fact just as much a myth as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, at the very top of the list would be a plea to Mr. Claus that I got to play more Infinity. With the excitement of the St. Albans SmackDown now a magical memory the opportunity finally arose to indulge myself in my favourite past-time and, delightedly delving into my PDF downloads, TAGLINE caught my eye. With Chapter 1 complete [here] and Toni Macayana deader than disco, Matt would be turning my own models against me, seeking revenge for the death of the heroic Tikbalang and its plucky pilot with a vanilla Panoceanian force. Onyx Contact Force for me of course!
Jules was anxious to take on the screening test and drive a Tikbalang with “Welcome to the Jungle” blasting in her ears. Nothing quite like classical music to blow shit up to.
The mission was essentially Deadly Dance, but in the jungle. That meant Difficult Terrain, Low Vis, and Saturation. All the good stuff.
Mistakenly assuming that Morats would have Jungle Terrain [well, they are monkeys] my first list was quickly scrapped with the realisation that my space ape link would be crawling along at 2 inches MOV value. No matter; this was the perfect excuse to give my Sphinx and Suryat their debuts, their Multiterrain and Jungle Terrain perfect for a romp in the rainforest. My careful efforts to bamboozle Matt by selecting the Suryat as my Lieutenant were slightly spoiled by him mistakenly picking up my full list rather than the courtesy list I had provided for him. “Mate, why does your courtesy list have your Lieutenant and Fraacta on it?” Cuz that ain’t my fucking courtesy list, that’s why!!! Matt won the roll and opted for deployment, while I choose to go second.
Rolling for the Quadrants mine was the one next to my Deployment Zone on the right, while Matt was less lucky, getting the one next to my DZ on the left, forcing him to advance.
Panoceania Turn 1
The Aquila Guard made a beeline for my Plasma Sniper Unidron before taking a bead on the Remote, his burst reduced to 3 by the [imaginary] foliage. In a turn-up for the books the Unidron hilariously outrolled the cream of the HyperPower, knocking off a wound. Ineffectual shooting followed on both sides, before the plucky Remote’s luck ran out, going Dogged and eventually dead, although he had sucked out a good number of orders. Nice work son!
The Aquila went for a sulk behind the burger bar while the Armbot and Auxbot scooted up into the quadrant.
The Tikbalang menacingly jumped onto the roof of the building before going on Suppressive Fire, Matt desperately hoping he had advanced the TAG far enough for the bonus point.
Onyx Turn 1
Spending its Lieutenant Order [might as well eh Matt?] the Suryat stood up to sight the Tikbalang along the scopes of its HMG, firing off a burst. Cancelling its Suppression the Armoured Chasseur fired back. Small furry animals dropped dead from the trees as the bullets went wildly off-target due to Range and Low Vis.
It might not be able to hit anything, but it could damn well walk really fast. The Suryat engaged Jungle Mode on its HI suit, striding into the scoring Quadrant after a woeful attempt on the ODD Locust.
It was clear the Heavy Infantryman would be vulnerable to a hacking attack from the Locust, so in support a Fraacta was sent screaming down from the sky, completely missing both her landing and indeed the battlefield, scattering off the table before the turncoat Tohaa sheepishly entered via the Deployment Zone.
Getting clever, the Nexus Hacker uploaded a ‘Gotcha! program into the little Auxbot’s hard drive, temporarily overloading its sensory network. Dr. Worm then stumbled out of the titty bar clearly the worse for wear before being turned into fishbait by combined arms fire [i.e. I completely forgot about the Aquila and Tikbalang and needlessly threw away his life].
Time to tally up the totals. With a sigh of relief I realised the Tikbalang was just out of Matt’s Quadrant, denying him the bonus OP, although he had enough points to score one point. The Suryat had claimed my Quadrant, also for one point.
Pan Oceania 1 – 1 Onyx
Panoceania Turn 2
Matt opened up by inexplicably moving the Armbot into hacking range of my Nexus. I obliged by attempting another ‘Gotcha!’ although the Remote’s operator had remembered to renew the Kaspersky subscription and the hack failed. Matt’s dastardly plan was revealed as a Hexa Killer Hacker materialised from Hidden Deployment, using the Peacemaker as a Repeater. Turns out the Nexus has the upgrade ‘Suckerpunch’, which proved to be aptly named, the Hexa’s brainpan microwaved by the Combined Army Operative.
Remember my Suryat Lieutenant standing out in the open with his monkey ass in the breeze? Well so did Matt, the Locust gunning him down to leave me in Loss of Lieutenant!
Making amends for his earlier failure the Aquila started shooting bits off my Sphinx, the MSV3 easily seeing through jungle and TO Camo alike to leave the TAG with one STR remaining.
Onyx Turn 2
Spending three Command Points to turn that number of Irregular Orders into Regular ones, the Sphinx attempted to slink away from the bad matchup against the Aquila. It was not to be however, the TAG losing its last STR to the elite Heavy Infantryman, although not before taking down the Peacemaker and its Auxbot chum.
Out of sheer desperation the Nexus Operative ordered its Unidron minions forward to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to bring down the Tikbalang. Surviving one ARO the mindless Remote opened up with its Plasma Carbine. Crit! One STR to go. Matt then failed his BTS save. The enemy TAG was down!
With no models in his own Quadrant and the Fraacta managing to Nanopulse the Locust, Onyx took the lead!
Panoceania 1 – 2 Onyx
Panoceania Turn 3
Low on both orders and option the Aquila took out its frustrations by taking potshots at the Unidrons, sending one Dogged.
Matt’s remaining orders were spent trying to unsuccessfully achieve his Classified by Forward Observing my Unidrons.
Onyx Turn 3
With the ‘W’ in the bag the aliens took it easy, the Nexus spending a couple of orders to achieve my Classified while his Unidrons made him a cup of tea.
Panoceania 1 – 4 Onyx
Well, that was lucky! I really thought I had lost this one after my Lieutenant went down quickly followed by the Sphinx. However one Crit from a lowly Unidron and the game swung massively back the other way! This is one of the many reasons I love this game – it’s never over until it’s over. Also these narrative missions are right up my street and I can’t wait for the next chapter of TAGLINE, although we also plan to play through Campaign Paradiso; and then there’s the next online campaign…
There’s only really one candidate for Man of the Match; it’s the 14 point Unidron who took two STR points off an 85 point TAG! Take a bow son.