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The Martian Attack on Berlin, 1910


Misc., Fantasy Nonsense, Bolt Action, 28mm

I know this is wargaming “silly season”, but this is really a step too far! Having been laid low for a week with a bad bug, I was keen to shuffle some lead of any description. Unfortunately the only game on offer was this one – a War of the Worlds extravaganza, set in Berlin just after the turn of the century, and hosted by Hugh Wilson. Now, I’m not really a fan of science fiction, but the scenery was the draw here.It was left over from a Berlin 1945 game played out the week before, but this time the Russians were replaced by Martians, and the tanks by steampunk vehicles and Martian “war machines”. Strangely, the rules remained the same. However, as Bolt Action are largely a fantasy set given a WW2 flavour, this seemed to work perfectly well here. I played the part of the German general defending the city against the Martian hordes.Actually I stand corrected. It turned out that in Colin Jack’s madcap scenario, the Martians were puny little fellows who looked like elves and were armed with bows and spears. The slug-like “Overlords” who used them as cannon fodder had all the cool stuff – the “war machines” (or “walkers”), including a huge red one bought by Colin from a local toy museum. Anyway, the overlords looked like slugs, and ruled the roost, having established a “Star Gate” in the Tiergarten. That’s where the Martian and Overlord reinforcements came on, ready for their advance towards the Brandenburg Gate. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve going to call them all Martians.The gallant defenders of the Imperial German capital had a few tricks up their sleeve. The best of these were two death rays – that’s one (pictured above), which in theory had the firepower to take out the largest Martian “war machine”. Inevitably they were dubbed “Weapons of Mars Destruction”, or WMDs. They were supported by a range of landships and steam wagons (tanks and armoured cars), and a few units of infantry – mainly sailors, female cadets and dismounted female hussars. Colin Jack likes collecting female lead! We deployed in defence of the gate, while Bart (our Steampanzer commander) arrayed his armour so it could cover the approaches to the gate through the Tiergarten. In the duel that followed the large red “war machine” (it counted as a Tiger tank) took out our landships one after the other, while our first WMD was overrun by Martian elves, despite gallant supporting fire from the female cadets on top of the Brandenburg gate, and their little pom-pom. Us Teutonic earthlings were fast running out of options!When all else fails send in the cavalry. Well, the horsewomen of Princess Cecilie’s Hussars made a gallant charge, which chopped up a few Martian elves, but came unstuck thanks to the supporting “war machines”. As a scout walker waddled through the gate the female cadets then launched a suicidal charge at it, but although they passed their morale checks and charged home, they proved singularly incapable of toppling the smallest “war machine” on the table! Hugh Wilson had more luck, brewing up the first large “war machine” to pass through the gate, while Tim Watson immobilised another as it crammed through a side alley. That though, was it. We’d now lost all of our heavyt weapons, while there were still plenty of Martians, who were now sweeping forward into the city. The British delegation’s penny farthing-mounted self-propelled gun was knocked out, while the Goliath remote-controlled exploding steam wagon also failed to work when it was needed most. There was nothing left to hold the line.At that point we decided to bring the game to a close. It was clear that the Martians had won. The few remaining German units in the field didn’t have the firepower to stop the invaders, and only suicide attacks could achieve anything. Meanwhile the Martians began zapping civilians, wherever they could see them – a victory condition apparently. So, Berlin fell to the Martians and their mysterious Overlords. I must say, the game looked very pretty, but it was monumentally silly. I would have preferred to fight over the city in the 1945 game a week before, but at least this way I got my lead fix for the week – and discovered that Bolt Action works better as a sci-fi set than a WW2 one!

 

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