21 March 2021

Super Mission Force First Game: the Weapon!

The Phantom Satellites guard the Weapon
I did it! I got a game in before the Equinox! Technically I finished the game after Spring started but I rolled the first dice on Friday, when it was still officially Winter here.

I set a goal back in January of focusing on getting one game to the table by Spring without getting distracted by other projects and despite the challenges of real, non-hobby life. I just barely made it, with only hours to spare but it was worth it. It's been ages since I've played a tabletop game and this one was a blast. I also now have more terrain applicable to all sorts of genres.

On to the game... I played the first bout in a planned campaign using Scott Pyle's Super Mission Force (2nd Edition). The game featured my super-hero group, the Cabinet, versus the villainous Phantom Satellites. The scenario was "The Weapon" from the SMF2 rulebook and the Cabinet just managed to pull off a win by destroying the weapon. It was a nail-biter though, with most of the good guys down to one Body or Psyche box and the bad guys generally unscathed before the heroes pulled it out.

I played the game solo and even though I have the new Athwart Time supplement which features solo rules, I didn't use them. I simply played each side aggressively against each other. Since the scenario had a specific goal, it was easy to set each side's strategy and then try as hard as I could to oppose it when I activated the respective enemy side.

Prior to rolling the scenario I rolled for Subplot, with Madame President on the heroic team and The Upgrade on the opposing side both choosing an Image Subplot. The villains rolled a mere one Bonus Die but the heroes received a whopping five rerolls! Since both teams earned bonus dice, the two characters had a bond making it harder for them to attack each other. Trying to tie this with the Weapon scenario, I imagined that Dr Regina Movella's highly suspect public behavior led her good friend Sara Washington, aka Madame President, to investigate and discover the doctor's murder and replacement by The Upgrade. A deeper investigation revealed the construction of a super-weapon on the Patagonian plains, and upon arriving Madame President attempted to appeal to The Upgrade, whom Washington hoped had some of Doctor Movella's humanity imprinted on her android brain.

Heavy Fist and the Free Radical Squad ready to attack
The heroes were selected randomly as the attackers and I placed each figure randomly. The battle plan was to use Heavy Fist's Leaping power to carry him directly onto the Weapon to begin attacking it. I made two judgement calls here: first I said that the Free Radical Squad (using the Shrinking power) could begin the game mounted on Heavy Fist. Second, I said that the Charging Melee bonus applied to the Breaking Things action as well.

The heroes won initiative so they executed the plan to brief: whoosh, Heavy Fist's backpack jets fired carrying him and the shrunken GIs to the objective. Thunk! Despite rolling seven dice to attack the thing, Heavy Fist's blows bounced harmlessly off the weapon. I used two of the heroes' five subplot rerolls but still didn't do a single point of damage.

Mind Control is powerful!
The alien Ssluzuurom then used his Mentalism power to place Heavy Fist under Mind Control, forcing the hero to super-leap off the weapon directly into the tar pits (I rolled "Difficult Ground" as the additional feature). Amazingly, Heavy Fist's super-strength was no match for the tar pits and he was trapped.

I gave the Free Radical Squad the benefit of the doubt and presumed they got off of Heavy Fist on top of the weapon before he was forced to jump away. The Squad attacked the Phantom Sun using their Multiple Limbs power and incredibly scored two Body hits and knock-back.

"Destroy them" the would-be despot commanded The Upgrade, who then hit the Free Radicals with a massive Power Blast that scored seven successes. The little soldiers rolled only one success and took six Body damage and then failed their KO check. In hindsight I should've given the Free Radical Squad a +2D hard cover bonus but it certainly made the game more interesting having 1/4 of a team eliminated in the first half of the first turn.

Suddenly, a throwing star whizzed by the combatants, imbedding itself in the Weapon before exploding spectacularly, revealing bits of machinery beneath the artifact's armored exterior. "KACHUNK...KRACKATHOOM!" The street-level hero Master Astra used their X-Factor power to begin the game with the Archer archetype's "Rocket-Powered Nitro Arrow", or in this case a Nitro-Shuriken, gaining a 6D Power Blast. For the entire game I forgot to include the +1 reroll that a major-level Power Blast gets.

The Mindhound rushed forward to engage this new threat to the Weapon, carefully avoiding the tarpits.

Not a single success for the Nitro-star
Turn two started with the heroes winning initiative again. Master Astra passed a recharge test and flung another Rocket-powered Nitro-star but it couldn't damage the tough Weapon.

The frog-like alien psychic couldn't recharge its Mind Control, so instead hit Heavy Fist with a devastating Mental Blast.

The Upgrade wheeled and blasted the trapped Heavy Fist but the awesome energies just washed over him without effect.

Perhaps the android's attack blasted away the muck and vines because Heavy Fist easily passed his escape check to break out of the tarpit, only to fail his Leaping power recharge check. Forced to walk out, he ended up facing the Phantom Sun, who then hit the armored hero with an ineffectual Power Blast.

Madame President made her way closer to the center of the fight, trying with little effect to use Enhance to grant her team bonus dice.

The Mindhound finished its charge into Master Astra, attacking with a nasty Parasite psychic mauling.

Turn three was almost all close combat, with Heavy Fist charging the Phantom Sun after amazingly resisting another Mind Control attempt by the alien Ssluzuurom.

Madame President rushed in to help Master Astra against the Mindhound. It was only in a post-game review of the rules that I realized how good a tactic this could have been, as the master of throwing-stars could've left the melee without suffering a free attack. I didn't know that and was just trying to get the +1 team-up bonus.

Turn Four got exciting with the heroes winning initiative again. Heavy Fist finally recharged his hyper-Leap and elected to exit hand-to-hand with Phantom Sun, enduring an inconsequential free attack. The hero crashed once more into the Weapon but again failed to damage it.

The Upgrade's blasts again proved useless against Heavy Fist's battle suit.

The Phantom Sun could not allow the destruction of his super-weapon and activated his flight power, charging Heavy Fist and doing an incredibly lucky four damage. More importantly, the 4 inches of knock-back temporarily eliminated the threat to the Weapon as Heavy Fist toppled to the ground, unhurt.

Take that Brain with Legs!
Meanwhile, Master Astra was down to a single Psyche box and faced a desperate struggle against Mindhound. The black-clad hero dodged a mauling claw and sunk an electro-star deep into the beast's left lobe and it howled in psychic pain as it fell unconscious, defeated at last.

Madame President was within charge range of the Upgrade but failed her Chance roll to attack, due to the shared Subplot. A very cool rule that threw another unexpected wrinkle into the game! I imagine MP running up to the android, trying to find some vestige of its creator's thoughts in its mind.

Heavy Fist continued his assault against the Weapon, and for the third time failing to harm it. The alien mentalist then returned the favor by again controlling the armored hero's mind and forcing him to run back into the tar pits.

Madame President then engaged the alien frogman, trying to prevent further Mind Control attempts. Heavy Fist easily broke out of the muck, again leaping onto the Weapon and this time finally doing another two points of damage! In the meantime he took a nasty blow from The Upgrade's Power Blast and was finally showing some wear.

The Phantom Sun managed to recharge his flight power and again charged Heavy Fist, getting the one point of damage he needed to cause knock-back. I judged that there was enough room for Heavy Fist to recoil onto, provided he made his knock-down roll. He failed and the hero plummeted to the earth unhurt but no longer a threat.

Seven successes without the forgotten Reroll!
Things were not looking good for the heroes but as a new turn began they won initiative. Master Astra successfully recharged the Nitro-Star and flung it, scoring an amazing Seven successes. "NNNOOOOOO!!!!" screamed Phantom Sun, as the throwing-star imbedded itself in the super-weapon's transmitter before exploding in a shower of metal fragments.

The post-game review of the KO'd characters revealed the Free Radical Squad were fine but now looking to Settle the Score against The Upgrade, earning them a +1 to attack the android in the next battle. The Mindhound didn't fare so well, suffering a Serious Injury with a -3 inch Move and -1 attack penalty in the next game.

What a fun game. Since there are so many powers I messed up a lot of rules. For example, I have three characters with Gadgets and I forgot to dice for their potential reroll bonuses until the third turn. Also each team has a Savant and I forgot to give either of them their respective Free Move at the game's start. None of this affected the enjoyment of the game however, which is fast and fun being simple but tactically deep with all of the interplay of powers and backgrounds.

I'm definitely already working on the next battle. I've rolled up the subplots and the next scenario will be Rooftop Rumble. I'd be playing again this weekend but unfortunately I don't have any rooftop terrain ready.


  1. Congratulations on getting the game in. And in the timeframe as well (even if only just!). It did sound like you had loads of fun!

    1. Thanks Shaun; barely made it! Now I have to keep the motivation and continue to work gaming back into my life. It was heaps of fun and I’m keen to try another scenario. If I can stay away from the 10mm buildings and (unrelated) kaiju battles I’ve been contemplating.

    2. LOL on the kaiju. My 12yo son and have watched about a dozen of the Godzilla movies over the last few years. On the weekend he had a friend over who had never seen a Godzilla movie. We watched Godzilla: Final Wars as it has, IMO, a good balance of overacting, insane plot and a large number of kaiju. It got me searching for kaiju rules for a few days until luckily (or not) I got distracted by my current projects :-)