Sighing heavily, Commander Desjardins sealed down his oxygen mask and opened the hatch on his heavy tank. Climbing out onto the dusty plain, the Paneuropean Space Corps officer immediately saw what had stopped the tank minutes before: sulfur flats. They were everywhere on Io: powdered sulfur deposits left by volcanic eruptions. The powder was so fine that it caked around treads, seeped into motor axles, and generally made life miserable for tankers. It would be at least a half-hour before they could get underway again. Desjardins cursed, kicking the BPC treads in frustration.
By Matt Cairo
"Ok, boys, we had better get to work on these treads."
His three crewmen popped out of their hatches. There was a long volley of curses in several languages. With sighs of resignation, all four men began to scrape the powdery sulfur from the tank's treads.
Suddenly, there was a rumble in the ground.
"Volcano!" Desjardins bellowed. "Run for it!" All four men scattered desperately. As he dove into a small crevice, Desjardins glanced back at the disabled tank, only to see it engulfed by a flood of red-hot magma. On the horizon, he saw the telltale yellow plume of a sulfur-and-lava eruption spouting several miles high in Io's low gravity.
"I have to get off this planet."
The Last War was fought on all types of terrain. From the shifting sands of the Sahara, to the sticky swamps of the Amazon, to the frozen tundra of Siberia, Earth offered 21st-century generals numerous tactical dilemmas. But the great superpowers didn't confine their ambitions to the Earth alone. Beginning in 2019, they engaged in a renewed race to colonize, exploit, and, of course, fight over, the other planets and moons in the Solar System.
This is a set of variant rules for playing Ogre Miniatures on seven other planets in the Solar System. Included are basic statistics on these planets and moons, special rules to simulate the effects of these harsh environments, and suggestions for modeling alien terrain and setting ambiance for an interplanetary game of Ogre Miniatures. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, militia and archaic units cannot be used on other planets.)
Satellite of EarthAtmosphere: None
Atm. Pressure: None
Gravity: 0.167 G
Terrain: Rocky, with flat dust expanses in the Maria.
Colonization Period: 2019-2104
Earth's nearest extraterrestrial companion, the Moon was the starting point for the superpowers' space race. The Moon, rich in heavy metals, and with the advantage of low gravity, proved most useful to both the Combine and the Paneuropeans. The Paneuropeans were the first to colonize the Moon, building a base in the Sea of Crisis named Liberté. The Combine soon followed suit, constructing two military installations, Selene-1 and Selene-2, at Tycho and Clavius, respectively. The Nihon Empire built a small covert base on the far side of the moon, named Nara, which it used to launch probes to Mars and Venus. The Chinese Hegemony never built a moon base, and was thus cut out of the Second Space Race until much later: they had enough trouble dealing with Nihon incursions on Earth.
Obviously, due to the lack of an atmosphere, GEVs, LGEVs, GEV-PCs and Hovertrucks do not work. All other vehicles can move up to 2" farther each turn, but if they choose to exceed their normal move, they must roll a die: on a 4-6, they are disabled normally. Ogres roll 1-1 versus their treads: an "X" or "XX" result will remove a number of treads equal to the Ogre's size rating. This represents over-stressed power trains being pushed too far in low gravity. Infantry may add 2" to their move without penalty. All attack ranges may be extended by 4", but for each additional 2" over the normal ranges, subtract 1 from the roll on the CRT. This represents targeting difficulties in low gravity. (As an optional rule, this penalty can be reduced or eliminated for "experienced" crews. Determining just what makes a crew "experienced" is left as an exercise for the referee.)
Modeling lunar terrain is easy. The ground on the Moon is fairly flat, and can be represented by a flat section of mottled gray fabric as the base. Use torn chunks of foam rubber, sprayed with appropriate grays and blacks, to represent the crags and rocks on the moon -- remember that some of them are quite high indeed! Lighting over your game table should be very strong, so as to cast deep, dark shadows, representing the harsh light and dark on the Moon.
Fourth Planet from the SunAtmosphere: Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen
Atm. Pressure: 0.007 atm.
Gravity: 0.377 G
Terrain: Rocky, broken, with high mountainous areas. Icy and flat at the polar icecaps.
Colonization Period: 2042-2101
Mars had long been a source of fascination for humankind, and it became one of the Last War's most fiercely contested battlefields. Launching colonizer rockets from the Nara base on the Moon, the Nihon Empire beat their opponents to Mars by nearly three years, building a huge base at Utopia Planitia, including an Ogre facility. By the time the Combine and Paneurope arrived, Nihon forces dominated the Southern Hemisphere of Mars, and were in the process of constructing a set of surface-to-orbit laser cannon on the slopes of Olympus Mons. After two years of conflict, the Combine managed to gain a foothold on Mars, constructing the base Ares-3 deep beneath the frozen North Polar Icecap. Paneurope had to settle for scattered secret outposts and minor production facilities, and never managed to become a dominant presence on Mars.
Mars, in game terms, is similar to the Earth. The gravity is not low enough to significantly affect shell trajectories or movement. GEVs, LGEVs, GEV-PCs and Hovertrucks will work, but at decreased efficiency due to the thin atmosphere. All GEVs lose 2" from both movement phases (in some cases, it may be better to use tracked vehicles).
Martian terrain is varied depending on the region of the planet. Equatorial areas can be modeled in the same fashion as the Moon, but with a dark red as the main color. The more mountainous, the more crags and rocks there will be, and elevation levels will change more. If combat is occurring in the Polar Regions, the playing surface will be almost completely flat, with gently rolling hills, modeled in white or light gray colors.
Second Planet from the SunAtmosphere: Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen
Atm. Pressure: 92 atm.
Gravity: 0.907 G
Terrain: Broken, rocky. Mountainous in highlands. Frequent sulfuric acid rainstorms, with heavy electrical activity.
Colonization Period: 2060-2097
Venus was one of the more difficult planets on which to build military bases, but both the Paneuropean Federation and the Combine did it quite well. The crushing pressure and extreme heat of the atmosphere, combined with frequent electrical storms and corrosive rains, made Venus a violent planet equaled only by Io. The Paneuropeans, angered by their lack of a secure base on Mars, were the first to land on Venus, with Nihon and the Combine close behind. Ogres proved to be an invaluable resource, as the general bizarreness of the planet degraded the performance of even the best-trained human crews and their machines. Paneuropean Fencers, built at the Fraternité base near Ishtar Terra, performed especially well in the harsh conditions, and Paneurope came to dominate Venus, completely beating off Nihon landing forces. The Combine was not as easily deterred. Operating from bases on Aphrodite Terra, Combine units engaged the Paneuropeans in a guerrilla war right up to the collapse of the Federation.
Venusian weather is the most violent in the solar system. Huge storms can strike for days at a time, and the unusual atmosphere of Venus results in powerful lightning and sulfuric acid rain. Before every battle on Venus, roll one die on the following table to determine if there are any weather conditions at the time:
Roll Weather 1 No Weather 2 No Weather 3 Acid Drizzle 4 Light Rain 5 Heavy Rain 6 Major Electrical Storm
A "no weather" result means that weather will not effect the battle. Acid drizzle will require every armor unit (Ogre weapons and treads unaffected) to roll a die each turn -- on a roll of 6, the unit is disabled, though already-disabled units are not affected further. A light rain will cause a unit to be disabled on a roll of 5 or 6 (but already-disabled units will not be destroyed, as above). A heavy rain will act as a full 1-2 attack every turn (disabled on a 5, destroyed on a 6, and units already disabled by heavy rain may be destroyed by a second disabled result).
A major electrical storm will have two effects. First, it will act as a full 1-2 attack on every unit every turn, including Ogre weapons and treads. Second, it will result in lightning strikes. Use the "star" counters from the Ogre Miniatures manual and drop 1 die's worth of them on the table from at least three feet above it every turn. The final landing place of each counter represents the location of a lightning strike, with a "single attack" template used to determine spillover fire. If the counter lands on a unit, that unit is immediately attacked with a strength of 4. If the target is an Ogre, a random weapon system is attacked in this manner (treads cannot be damaged by lightning).
Due to the high atmospheric pressures on Venus, all armor units except Infantry have movement reduced by 1". GEV-based vehicles lose 1" from each movement phase (thus, a GEV would move at 7"/5", a GEV/PC would be 5"/3", etc.)
The terrain on Venus is dark yellow-brown, rocky and broken. There should be plenty of crags, channels, canyons and cliffs. Light cannot get through the heavy atmosphere very well, so lighting in the room should be somewhat dimmer than usual.
Satellite of JupiterAtmosphere: None
Atm. Pressure: None
Gravity: 0.183 G
Terrain: Sulfur deserts, volcanic highlands with frequent magma eruptions.
Colonization Period: 2085-2091
The Combine was the first to set foot on Io, and they immediately regretted it. Io was the most volcanically active moon in the solar system, constantly spewing plumes of sulfur and magma into the sky with a force powerful enough to destroy an Ogre. But, true to Combine doctrine, Io had to be occupied, because, as a Combine Congressman said, "If we don't do it, our enemies will." The main problem with Io was that it was naturally indefensible. The frequent geologic activity made permanent bases difficult to place, and the sulfur in the sky made detecting and destroying enemy landings virtually impossible. All spacefaring empires, including China, established outposts on Io, and some heated exchanges were fought on Io's sulfur deserts. But eventually, Io proved to be more trouble than it was worth, and it was abandoned.
Io has no atmosphere and very low gravity, and so all rules from the Moon apply. In addition, each turn there will be a one in six chance of a volcanic eruption occurring somewhere on the table (drop a counter from three feet above the table to determine where). An Ionian volcano has game effects identical to a cruise missile strike, with one exception: a volcano will last for d6 turns, doing cruise missile explosion damage every turn.
Two new types of terrain appear on Io: Sulfur Flats and Magma. Sulfur Flats represent fast fields of powdered sulfur ash that has fallen to the surface of Io after a volcanic eruption. They are moved across as clear terrain, but for every 2" of movement, a die must be rolled to see if the sulfur clogs the unit. A roll of 1 to 3 indicates that the unit is immediately disabled, just as for swamp. Sulfur Flats are generally found in low areas such as valleys and hollows. Ogres are unaffected by Sulfur Flats. Magma represents pools of molten rock, and will generally be found near recent volcanoes. No armor unit can cross Magma. Ogres can enter Magma at a cost of 2" of movement for each 1" of terrain crossed. Every turn an Ogre spends in Magma destroys 5 tread units automatically, and results in a 1-1 attack on each of its weapon systems.
Terrain on Io is generally black or dark gray, representing basaltic rock. Red magma pools, like water, can form rivers and streams as well. Sulfur flats are just that: flat yellow expanses.
Satellite of SaturnAtmosphere: Nitrogen, Argon, Methane.
Atm. Pressure: 1.5 atm..
Gravity: 0.381 G
Terrain: Rocky, broken, methane oceans.
Colonization Period: 2077-2094
Titan, the mysterious moon of Saturn, was unique in that it possessed an atmosphere. Titan was so far from the sun that it was quite cold, and so methane in the atmosphere condensed into vast volatile oceans. When the three empires arrived on Titan, they were quick to realize that combat was a great deal more dangerous than on the other moons of the Solar System. Ricochets and misfires were often just as dangerous as the explosions themselves, as they could ignite methane vapor in the atmosphere, or, worse, they could ignite the entire ocean!. This didn't stop combat on Titan, of course. The three nations merely resolved to work around the problem, and keep their forces more widely spaced.
Since Titan has an atmosphere, GEVs, LGEVs, GEV-PCs and Hovertrucks can be used. Due to highly flammable methane vapor in the atmosphere of Titan, all explosions are treated as one step worse when calculating spillover fire. To determine full strength attacks, use the original template, but to determine spillover fire, a "single attack" will use a 10+ template, the 10+ uses the 15+, the 15+ uses the 20+ and the 20+ should have its diameter extended by 1/2".
Titan has a new type of terrain: Liquid Methane. Expanses of condensed methane from Titan's atmosphere can form oceans, lakes, rivers or streams. They are treated for all purposes as water, except that any shots fired at units on or in liquid methane will ignite the entire terrain surface on a roll of 1-3 on one die. In such a case, every unit on or in that area of liquid methane (Ogres unaffected) will instantly be attacked with a strength of 3. If a continuous path can be traced to the point of explosion along a methane ocean, lake or river, the unit is attacked. After it is ignited, liquid methane will revert to its original state at the end of the turn until attacked again - there is not enough oxygen in the atmosphere to sustain a fire for an extended period.
Satellite of UranusAtmosphere: None
Atm. Pressure: None
Gravity: 0.122 G
Colonization Period: 2089-????
The steep mountains of Titania, Uranus's moon, were perfect for building defensible bases, and the Combine, Paneurope, and Nihon all took advantage of them fairly rapidly. Combat this far out in the Solar System was necessarily limited in nature, due to the 21-month delay for resupply. Most battles on Titania were cybertank duels among the rocky crags. Extensive use of smaller Ogre designs, especially the Mark I and Mark II, allowed the three empires to field adequate units, but actions were never really anything more than reconnaissance-in-force. Larger Ogre types were used in small numbers, but these were reserved for special duties and endgame maneuvers (they were difficult to replace, given the limited facilities available). The colonies on Titania were never officially evacuated. Contact was lost with the three empires' colonies during a trans-Saturnian meteor shower in 2099, and they were assumed destroyed. All three outposts were self-sufficient in terms of food, power and oxygen, however, so it is possible that the colonies are still there.
Titania has low gravity and no atmosphere, so all rules for the Moon apply to Titania. Remember that the crags are ground, and so they will block line of sight. This alone can make combat on Titania very dangerous. The peaks can be very high due to Titania's low gravity. Infantry is very powerful in such close terrain. Infantry which initiates an overrun attack will receive +1 to its die roll in the initial round of combat, and gets to fire first, in exception to the usual "defender-first" rule for overrun. All units which are firing from two or more levels of elevation higher than their opponent receive +1 to their attack roll.
Titania's main claim to fame is its mountainous, rugged terrain. When constructing terrain, keep this in mind. A lot of canyons, steep cliffs, ledges and crags should be placed. Terrain should be very restrictive: this is Titania's advantage and its danger. Titania is also quite far away from the sun: light is low, so dim the lights in the room to increase shadows on the cliffs and crags.
Desjardins sighed even more heavily. His tank was no longer disabled by sulfur, but embedded in solid rock, as were his gunner and his driver. He cursed again, and radioed for a rescue rocket.
"I really have to get off this planet."
Article publication date: May 21, 1999
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