27 Spring 1943
The marauding Rovers in the Eastern Desert begin to
move North, into the WFP. Still rattled from severe
losses during the war, the WFPA has difficulty protecting
the League’s far-flung rural homesteads, and many are
sacked or forced to fend for themselves.
-timeline entry from Return to Cat's Eye
In response to these encroachments, WFPA command initiated a series of training exercises, set to rotate through several areas thought to be especially prone to future raids. The hope was that these maneuvers would fulfill multiple goals simultaneously - reassuring nervous homesteaders, sabre-rattling to cow the Rovers, and familiarizing WFPA units with terrain they might be fighting over before too long.
One such exercise is presented here. Designated OPERATION: BARLEYCORN, near dusk on 14 Summer 1943 an aggressor unit from [REDACTED] simulated a raid on a small irrigation/hydroelectricity center west of Fort James. A mixed Gear/infantry detachment of the 44th Western Combined Arms Regiment ("Skyfallers") (me) was assigned to represent the kind of rapid-reaction force that might be deployed in response to such a raid. While the Skyfallers approached from the east, simulating deployment from the Gamma maglev line, [REDACTED] (Britt) units were tasked with maneuvering past them back into the open, as WFPA General Staff thought this would be the typical post-raid posture for a Rover band ('Escape' objective for Britt).
This was my second game against Britt with Heavy Gear's new 'Field Manual' rules updates, and while I got the win I feel like I kind of snaked him on my choices of objectives. We also played on a longer table than recommended, and I'm still not sure we're using enough terrain. Still, both of us had a blast, and I feel a lot more comfortable with the rules themselves. Britt and I also got a real feeling for how much the objective system changes the nature of the game; in particular, Britt said he has a totally different concept about how his planned army will actually work on the table now.
Meanwhile, although I started as a Southern player, I gotta admit I really like the Northern gears more and more every time I get them on the table, and I've developed a real soft spot in my heart for my little WFPA dudes. Now to finish up the other 500TV of the planned list, a Northern analog of the Southern MP cadres, my Fort