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Jump Trooper: The Tarantuloid War

by Brett Drake
February 9, 2018

This module provides new scenarios (including solitaire play) requiring only the map and units provided with the Ogre Pocket Edition. Of course, it may be played using Ogre Sixth Edition, Ogre Designer's Edition or even older versions. Standard Ogre rules are used. There are no overruns and no stacking.

Instead of using the black counters from Ogre Pocket Edition for the Tarantuloids, the player may print out and mount the sheet of Tarantuloid counters provided here. Mounting on a thin (the thinnest possible) sheet of self-adhering linoleum purchased from a local hardware store (about $1-2) is suggested. Alternately, they may be mounted on cardboard using spray adhesive or an evenly spread thin coat of white or wood glue or elementary-school-type paste (my favorite). Uber-alternately, using page-sized adhesive label sheets purchased from a copy store, the counters may be printed on that, attached to cardboard, and cut out for play. Enterprising players may want to purchase a bag of plastic Halloween spiders (available online or at party stores) to represent Swarms on larger scale maps (such as Ogre Designer's Edition or Ogre Sixth Edition) or for use with the new plastic Ogre Miniatures or the old metal ones.

Historical Background

Long after the Factory State period, and shortly after the global unification necessitated by the horrific Kaiju War, humans resumed their expansionistic and exploratory tendencies. They began to colonize space. This upset the Tarantuloids, who had their eyes (all eight of them) firmly fixed on the same real estate mankind wanted. The game simulates three key battles during the Tarantuloid War. Terran forces use Paneuropean (white) counters while Tarantuloid forces use Combine and Neutral (black and grey) counters.

New Units and Rules

The Tarantuloids are a hive-mind species that are at war with the Terrans. They rely almost exclusively on non-armored, non-jump capable infantry, although they also employ some stationary defensive emplacements. The primary Tarantuloid unit is the "Swarm", the equivalent of a 2-squad platoon of infantry (attack 2, defense 2, range 1), which functions as regular infantry in all ways except for the following:

  • They may never break down or recombine (no 3-squad or 1-squad counters – any Tarantuloid infantry unit ALWAYS uses the 2-squad side).
  • They are destroyed by "D" results (being unarmored).
  • A Swarm moves only one hex per turn. They may move into any unoccupied hex of any terrain except craters (although they may emerge from them). If they are in a water hex they may not fire and if they end a turn in a water hex they undergo an attack of 1-2 odds. They ignore ridges and streams. They may not be transported.

Tarantuloids sometimes use static units. These are represented by standard armor units, and retain the attack, defense, and range factors of those units. They are immobile, however, and are destroyed by "D" results. There are two types of static units: a large unit the same as a Howitzer and a smaller unit that is equivalent to an immobile Missile Tank (labeled 'Light Howitzer' on the counters provided).

Tarantuloids may also use the Command Post or Mobile Command Post units from Ogre Pocket Edition. These are immobile and use the printed defense value ("0" if no printed defense value – meaning they are destroyed by any attack). They also are destroyed by "D" results. For all purposes, any Tarantuloid unit is always destroyed by a "D" result.

Emergence: Tarantuloids live underground. When the scenario calls for them to emerge, the Tarantuloid player does the following as their first action: Select each emerging unit from the list provided or randomly from chits in a cup (see scenario), roll two dice, locate the results on the "Emergence Table" and place the emerging unit in the indicated crater. Tarantuloid infantry must move out of the crater on their first turn. They will move out of the crater even if they start adjacent to a Terran unit. They must move into an unoccupied hex. If there are no legal hexes for them to move into (i.e. the crater they emerged from is surrounded by other craters and/or hexes occupied by other units) they will move into an occupied hex, preferentially choosing one with another Tarantuloid unit. Any Terran attack on a hex containing two (or more!) Tarantuloid units, affects all units equally. Movement into a hex occupied by a Terran unit results in "close combat" as described below. Missile Tank/Light Howitzer and Howitzer units that emerge stay in the crater and never leave until destroyed. If the emergence roll calls for emergence into an already occupied crater, re-roll.

Jump Troopers: The Terrans use normal units with one exception: Infantry are capable of dropping from space. Jump Troopers must drop as 3-squad platoons. Each time a platoon drops, the owner indicates a target hex and rolls a die:

  • Roll of 1, 2 or 3: Platoon drifts that many hexes (1, 2 or 3) from the intended target hex (roll a second die to determine direction of drift; "1" is north, "2" is next hex clockwise, etc. . . .)
  • Roll of 4 or 5: Platoon lands on target hex.
  • Roll of 6: Platoon disperses on drop. Break platoon into three 1-squad counters, and roll once for each squad as above. On a second "6", that squad is destroyed.

Combat Engineers, Heavy Weapon Teams or Marines may be used, exchanging Infantry for them at the standard "lose two regular squads, gain one special squad" exchange rate. Mixed platoons (one HWT with two Infantry, etc.) may be dropped, but each platoon dropped must consist of three squads. Dropping off the board or into a crater results in the loss of the unit. Dropping onto an enemy unit results in "close combat", which is immediately resolved as described below. Except for resolving any required close combat as specified, dropping units do NOTHING but drop during the turn they drop. No movement, no other combat, no engineering; nothing.

Close Combat: When opposing units occupy the same hex, either through emergence or orbital drop, close combat immediately occurs. Alternate combat rounds, with the original occupying (non-dropping or non-emerging) unit firing first, until one side or the other is completely destroyed. No modifiers to attack or defense values. Terran squads may split up and fire separately or combine their fire as the Terran player desires.

Retrieval Boat: The other new Terran unit is the Retrieval Boat. Retrieval Boats use a Mobile Command Post marker with a defensive value of "2" (or the new chits provided below). Retrieval Boats always land where intended. The Retrieval Boat may land or take off (if not disabled) as the last action of the Terran turn during the GEV Second Movement Phase. Each Retrieval Boat may carry up to 6 squads of Infantry or a single Howitzer. Infantry that ends its movement, or a non-disabled Howitzer, adjacent to a Retrieval Boat hex may be loaded onto that boat during the Movement Phase. Infantry beginning a turn inside a Retrieval Boat (disabled or not) may unload and move normally during the Movement Phase. A Howitzer beginning the turn inside a non-disabled landed Retrieval Boat may unload into any adjacent hex during the Movement Phase. The Howitzer is placed disabled and may not fire on the turn it unloads. It automatically recovers at the beginning of the next turn. Units must unload into an empty hex and stacking limits apply. Units inside a Retrieval Boat may not fire. Units inside a destroyed Retrieval Boat are destroyed. Units inside a disabled Retrieval Boat are unaffected, except that Howitzers cannot unload. Once a Retrieval Boat takes off it is removed from the game and both it and anything aboard counts as "escaped". Escaped units neither count as destroyed nor as "on map" for victory purposes.

Solitaire Rules

For solitaire scenarios, the player takes the Terran side and the Tarantuloids actions are played "by the game" as detailed here.

Movement: Any mobile Tarantuloid unit not adjacent to a Terran unit will move one hex toward the closest Terran unit using the shortest path possible while obeying stacking restrictions. Tarantuloid units adjacent to Terran units do not move except to get out of craters. If multiple hexes are equally valid movement choices, move into the one that gets the Tarantuloid closer to a Retrieval Boat first, otherwise the hex that gets it closer to a Howitzer. If multiple hexes are still possible, roll a die to determine which (e.g. "high this, low that" or "these four hexes are possible – 1, this one, 2, that one, 3 that one, 4 the other one, 5-6 I reroll"). Tarantuloids will never move away from the closest unit; if there is no legal hex closer to the target that it can move into, it will not move that turn. Note: If the moving Tarantuloid starts 3+ hexes from the nearest Terran unit (and there is only one Terran unit at that distance), just move it into whichever legal hex seems straightest without rolling – it speeds the game up and will have no real impact.

Combat: A Tarantuloid Swarm will fire on a Retrieval Boat if possible, otherwise an adjacent Terran unit with the highest attack factor against which they can get at least a 1-2 attack. They only combine fire with each other when they could not otherwise achieve a 1-2 attack on any adjacent unit. If a lone Tarantuloid unit is adjacent to a unit against which it cannot achieve a 1-2 attack (e.g. one Swarm adjacent to a Superheavy Tank), it fires anyway, having no effect. If two potential target units have the same attack factor (e.g. a Superheavy and a Howitzer), the Tarantuloid unit(s) attacks the one with the lowest defense value. If both are identical, roll a die. Tarantuloid emplacements always fire before Tarantuloid Swarms fire and do not ever combine fire. Again, if multiple equally good targets exist, roll to randomly determine the target.

Scenario 1: Diversion (solitaire)

The First Battle of Tarantulos Prime is going badly for the Terrans. In a desperate attempt to buy time for retrieval of at least some of his forces, the C-in-C decides to stage a diversionary raid against the newly detected main Tarantuloid headquarters. The general drops personally, leading the only troops still at his disposal: 18 squads of his own command company.

Setup: The game is played on the Ogre map. Take 10 black Infantry, two black Missile Tanks (or use the Light Howitzers provided) and one black Howitzer. Put them in a cup and set aside. Take the four black CP units (D0, M0) and the four grey Mobile CP units (two D0, M1 and two D1, M1), put them in another cup, and randomly draw them for placement on the following hexes (0203, 0207, 0512, 0702, 0807, 1112, 1302, 1308). All CP and MCP are movement = 0. The attached CP units may be used as well; just take six D0 and two D1 versions.

Game Play: Terran player moves first. On the first turn, the Terran player drops all six platoons, targeting any six empty hexes. Use the drop rules as described above. The game ends when all Terran units are destroyed or at the end of turn 11, whichever comes first.

Special Rule – Tarantuloid Reinforcements: As the first action of each turn, the Tarantuloid force receives reinforcements in craters on the map. Emerging units may move and fire normally the turn they arrive. Emerging infantry (not Howitzers or Missile Tanks) must exit the crater they emerge in. They will not enter any hex with another unit. This is an exception to the "close combat" rule from above. If they don't (or can't), they are destroyed at the end of their movement phase. Arriving Howitzers and Missile Tanks never exit the crater they emerge in, being immobile. On the first turn, the Tarantuloids get 10 units. On subsequent turns, they roll a die: 1=no units, 2-5=one unit, 6=two units. For each arriving unit, roll two dice and consult the "Emergence Table" below, placing the unit in that crater. If the crater is occupied, reroll. Destroyed Tarantuloid infantry units are returned to the cup. Destroyed Missile Tank and Howitzer units are not returned to the cup; they are permanently out of the game.

Emergence Table (roll 2 dice):

1st Dice: 1-2 1st Dice: 3-4 1st Dice: 5-6
2nd Dice: 1 0107 0611 1303
2nd Dice: 2 0209 0711 1309
2nd Dice: 3 0303 0907 1403
2nd Dice: 4 0312 0907 1406
2nd Dice: 5 0505 0913 1413
2nd Dice: 6 0608 1004 1507

Victory Conditions: The game ends when all Terran units are destroyed or at the end of turn 11. Unit losses play no part in determining victory conditions. It's that kind of battle.

  • Terrans destroy 8+ CPs: Complete Terran Victory.
  • Terrans destroy 7 CPs: Terran Victory.
  • Terrans destroy 5-6 CPs: Tie.
  • Terrans destroy 4 CPs: Tarantuloid Victory.
  • Terrans destroy fewer than 4 CPs: Complete Tarantuloid Victory.

Scenario 2: Repurposed (2-player game)

Following the catastrophe at Forward Depot Gamma, Terran intelligence compounded the defeat by failing to discover that the Tarantuloids had captured "Jennifer" (Unit JFR-42), an Ogre undergoing refit at FDG. Jennifer was reprogrammed and used to spearhead the Tarantuloids most ambitious space-borne assault of the war – an attack on Terran Fleet HQ in Amarillo.

This is a standard Ogre scenario (pick any one with a single Ogre attacking) with Tarantuloids in support. The Ogre player gets the Ogre specified in the chosen scenario plus 16 Tarantuloid Swarm Infantry units, while the defending player gets an extra 12 squads of regular Infantry. Tarantuloid units may be maneuvered and fought by the Ogre player as he sees fit; automatic movement rules are not in effect.

Scenario 3: Return to Tarantulos Prime (solitaire or 2-player)

The Terrans are back on Tarantulos. Once again, the mission is to occupy the surface of the planet. This will be done by an initial drop of Jump Troopers, followed by the consolidation of gains through the emplacement of heavy equipment brought down by retrieval boat.

Setup: This scenario uses the Ogre map and begins with no units on it. The Terran force consists of nine platoons (27 squads) of Infantry and two Retrieval Boats, each carrying two Howitzers. The Tarantuloid force is 16 Infantry and two Missile Tanks (Light Howitzers). 12 of the Infantry are set aside as reinforcements. The player uses the Terran forces if this scenario is played solitaire.

Game Play: The Terrans move first. The game lasts 11 turns.
Units are placed on the map as follows:

  • Turn 1: Terrans drop all nine platoons of Infantry as per the above rules.
  • Turn 1: Tarantuloids emerge both Missile Tanks and four Infantry Swarms. Use the Emergence Table for all units if playing solitaire; otherwise the Tarantuloid player may choose where the Infantry Swarms emerge. The Missile Tanks still use the Emergence Table. Variant: Allow the Tarantuloid player to choose where the Missile Tanks emerge. This may give the Tarantuloid player a notable advantage to start the game, potentially useful if there is a difference in skill between the players.
  • Turn 2-11: Tarantuloids get up to six reinforcements each turn (they're desperate). Roll 2D6 on the Emergence Table for each Swarm. If the crater is occupied, reroll. Destroyed Missile Tanks are removed from the game; destroyed Infantry Swarms go back in reinforcement pool. If all 16 Swarms are on the map, no more reinforcements are available that turn.
  • Turn 4-11: The Terran Retrieval Boats may land on any turn from Turn 4 onwards, using the above rules.

Special Rule – Improved Tactics: The Terrans have learned a thing or two since the first battle of Tarantulos Prime. They have become especially proficient at predicting and quickly reacting to emergences from Tarantuloid holes. After each Tarantuloid emergence occurs, but before it moves, any Terran Infantry unit(s) adjacent to the emerging unit (remember, a maximum of 1 unit emerges per hole each turn) gets a "free" attack. These may be combined or split as the Terran player wishes. Only Infantry may do this, and only against adjacent targets. Heavy Weapon Teams may not engage from more than 1-hex range, but may use their heavy weapons against adjacent emerging Tarantuloids or may fight as regular infantry. Howitzers (or other armor units) never use Improved Tactics.

Special Rule – Tarantuloid Reinforcements: This rule from Scenario 1: Diversion applies.

Victory Conditions: Tarantuloid Victory occurs if they have destroyed at least 30 points of attack strength of Terran units (Retrieval Boats count as 10 points each) at the end of game and if 13 or fewer craters are within 8 hexes ("in range of") of an intact (non-disabled) Terran Howitzer. All other results are considered a Terran Victory.

Designer's Notes:

What's powered body armor without space drops? I thought it would be fun to see if Ogre could be adapted to feature that. I also thought it would be nice to have an explicitly solitaire version of Ogre, since that's the way I usually play it anyway. The two ideas seemed to come together nicely. Using a straightforward opposing force (the Tarantuloids) simplifies the solitaire rules considerably.

Ogre has always drawn upon a rich history of science fiction literature and this game represents an attempt to acknowledge an early masterpiece of that genre, Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I hope that those who have read the book will feel these scenarios do it justice. For those who have not read the book, perhaps playing a scenario or two might encourage you to do so. You won't be disappointed!

In addition to modeling the Tarantuloids, the rules are implicitly intended to allow players to create standard Ogre Designer's Edition scenarios in which Infantry are used in a "Jump Trooper" role. I would suggest a variant of the Raid scenario in which the Paneuropean player starts with relatively few forces (probably with some requirement that no more than 1/3 to 1/2 of his armor units be GEV's or Missile tanks or anything else that can stand off from infantry indefinitely) spread across an entire GEV/Shockwave map with lots of CPs to kill (4 at least, I'd think) and lots of dummy counters at placement. (We can't have the Jumpers knowing where the enemy defenses are!) The Combine player would drop some Jump Troopers and maybe get a Howitzer or two on dropships, probably landing 2-3 turns later. The game would be a straight "how many CPs die" kind of thing. The Paneuropean player might get reinforcements or not, depending on the initial force balance. Alternately, a multi-map scenario with a "Market Garden" situation (Jump Troopers land on bridges, while a separate friendly relief force tries to force a corridor linking the bridges) might be fun. This could easily feature an Ogre as part of "XXX Corps" (the relief force), or you could just use conventional units. I would love to hear feedback on the current system and scenarios – please post on the forums.

Oh, and Steve? Thanks for the best wargame ever designed.

Download Jump Trooper Counters here.

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