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Utopia #2 – Triton revisited

November 28, 2012

I’m happy to report that we played the second game of Utopia yesterday. After the events of Kessler-11, our group of misfits was in for another adventure. The mood was pretty low – the first combat deployment of the squad had left two members dead and one hospitalized. Imagine then the joy of a safer mission, one of reconnaissance and protection! Three new troopers joined the squad:

Pvt. Iljutsh – a former Russian truck driver who got into trouble for doing some illegal business on the side back on Earth. Generally likable despite his somewhat dishevelled appearance.

Pvt. Jane – A young, hulking man straight from the academy. Jane knows the manual back to front and is very motivated by the service in general. He’s also a very good poker player.

Pvt. Ghillian – Replacing the deceased Bjornssen as the squad’s technician, Ghillian is a young woman and a wizard with computers. She has a nice collection of retro 21st century music, which now replaces the Union of Terra official background music playing in the crew quarters.

In happier news, Pvt. Haugen-Ankerson had just gotten engaged, and the crew threw her a party. For some reason this made Sgt. Brauer even more sombre than usual. Not even the fact that his service would come to an end in a few days would cheer him up, nor would the sangria made from moonshine and powdered synthetic orange juice.

A team of scientists would be setting down on a planet to research strange signals and energy bursts that seemed to be alien in nature. Might it finally be a contact with another civilization? Oh, it was.

Unfortunately for the squad, the planet turned out to be none other than the notorious Triton-4, a place on par with LV-426 when it comes to ghost stories and urban legends. Even more unfortunate was the fact that the civilization encountered was that of the Yautja, more commonly known as Predators.

The squad set down on Triton-4 to look for a science team that had gone missing. They were looking for clues that would explain the team’s disappearance. The squad was also tasked with mapping the area and discerning the source of the weird signals picked up by the orbital platform’s scanners. Accompanying the squad were Dr. Ernest Klein and his three synthetic assistants (quickly named “Fucking Huey, Dewey and Louie” by Sgt. Brauer), cordially provided by Weyland-Yutani to help with the information gathering. Pvt. Kenny wasn’t too fond of this, his football career ending due to replicant technology being used on players leading to higher performance compared to unmodified ones.

At first, everything went nicely. The squad spread out and found some clues. Sgt. Brauer did stumble into a patch of poisonous fungus, but his iron constitution and high tolerance to toxic substances helped him shrug it off. Pvt. Kenny had his flamer fill up with treacle, but was luckily able to clear it up to keep the team’s heavy weapon operational. There was a spot of miscommunication, with the synthetics and the good doctor wondering out from the safety of the landing site, resulting in some heated words from Sgt. Brauer (“You haul those electronic asses back to the landing site on the double!”). Eventually a compromise of sorts was reached, and the civilians allowed to move about a little.

The science team and the last known picture of Pvt. Iljutsh

The squad had been hearing animal roaring and howling since landing, and this finally culminated in an attack by giant dog-like creatures. Despite their fearsome appearance, the beasts were brought down with heavy firepower and things quieted down once again. Pvt. Ghillian managed to repair the communications satellite the previous team had set up, allowing her to locate the source of the signals – it was a clearing on the far side of the area.

Upon reaching the clearing, the squad was surprised to find nothing but some shimmering air, as if distortion from heat. That’s when things started happening. Three red laser dots appeared on Sgt. Brauer, followed by a heavy energy blast that he evaded through sheer luck. The squad went on full alert. A few moments later the communications satellite, at this point unattended, exploded.

Pvt. Kenny approached the shimmering air in the clearing, and found himself bumping into an alien space shuttle. As the squad started wondering about this, an energy blast from an unseen enemy put Pvt. Iljutsh down, heavily wounded. Things started happening. The medic Evans ran over to Iljutsh to help, while most of the troopers nearby did this (with the same effect):

Further away, another energy blast put down the newly promoted Cpl. Rodriguez – instead of one attacker, the squad was facing two. Luckily, Pvt. Wu was at hand. The sniper took careful aim and managed to land a shot on Rodriguez’s nearly invisible attacker, disabling the Predator’s cloaking device in the process. The creature dived into the underbrush to hide and reactivate its cloaking system – hampered by the constant rain.

A Predator in the midst of decloaking

Further away, the torrent of fire unleashed by half of the squad had failed to even injure the second attacker, who promptly emerged from the trees, picked up Iljutsh and then disappeared into the jungle amidst a steady stream of pulse rifle fire. Iljutsh would never be seen again by his squadmates, although he would make an excellent trophy.

Meanwhile the other Predator had managed to activate its cloak and was making haste towards its ship, trailing green blood. In its haste it had completely failed to notice Pvt. Kenny, who was slowly making his way back from the ship towards all the action. Luckily for the Predator, it was able to ambush Kenny and charged into close combat…only to be brought down by a masterful shot from Wu. Despite Sgt. Brauer’s orders, Kenny decided to play it safe and turned his flamer on the wounded creature, torching it. With its last strength, the Predator managed to activate its self-destruct device.

The drop ship had been called, but it wouldn’t make it in time. There was only one thing to do: run! The squad went running for the relative safety of the encampment, with one of the synthetics carrying Cpl. Rodriguez. They made it just seconds before a massive explosion tore through the jungle, scrambling one of the synthetics despite it reaching the landing site. While Iljutsh was missing and Rodriguez was down, the squad had survived.

In their debriefing session Sgt. Brauer was dragged over hot coals for allowing his men to kill a sentient, advanced creature that they had managed to incapacitate. Despite Weyland-Yutani calling for Brauer to be taken to court-martial and executed, Cpt. Jensen allowed Brauer to keep his life and his squad, although it did mean the sergeant’s service would continue until terminated. Brauer also might have accidentally promised to lead his squad to capture a live specimen…

Man, this was another fun game. Lot’s of action and tense, cinematic moments. Suitably frustrated players (“What do you mean I missed? What the hell kind of stats do those Predators have?!”) who still managed to pull off a victory of sorts. No, seriously. Losing only one trooper and managing to complete the main objective plus an additional one to boot – not to mention bringing down one of the Predators – was no mean feat.

The narrative is now really starting to build up, as we were following characters from the previous game. We were also all familiar with the Predator movies, and this game managed to recreate the feel of those quite nicely. The Predators were very hard to kill or even target, resulting in lots and lots of useless shooting. When the Predators shot back, it was basically a trooper down per each shot. I was worried about balancing issues, as I didn’t have time to playtest the scenario, but everything turned out nicely.

The jungle setup

I was happy that I could deploy my jungle terrain for a change, and as you can see from the pictures, I managed to get the Zuzzy mat painted as well. There are only a few pictures unfortunately, as due to the poor lighting all the other pics came out very blurry. Things you can’t really see are the Predator shuttle that I scratchbuilt and the hellhounds from Heresy that are almost finished as I write this. Not to worry, they’ll feature in upcoming posts.

Utopia will continue in a few weeks, most likely with our heroes trying to capture a live Predator. Good luck with that, guys and girls!

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6 comments

  1. That definitely sounds like fun and the jungle table looks great. I want to see the Zuzzy mat!

    Where did the two non-Gripping Beast/Woodbine “synthetics” come from?

    You seem to be getting more fun out of Flying Lead than I did. I found the endless modifier calculations irritating enough to put me off, despite the cute activation and movement systems. Its looks like you are having fun though, and that cant be argued with 🙂


    • I’ll take a few close-ups of the mat soon, it’s very simple but I think it’s effective.

      The synths are from Victory Force’s Space Explorers range: http://www.victoryforce.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=VFM&Category_Code=sfpacks

      Funny, I’ve never found FL’s modifiers to be much of a chore. You’re mostly dealing with a few common modifiers (shooting while moving, aimed shots, cover…) and we memorized most of them pretty quickly. Having two reference sheets handy helps, too. Then again, coming from an RPG background, this is really, really rules-light 😀


      • The modifier laden mechanics of the Ganesha rule sets strike me as elements that come directly from an older, clunkier 1980s ruleset. In contrast the lean movement and activation systems feel a lot more modern.

        Its not that I cannot learn the common modifiers, more that I dont want to (if that makes sense). I keep thinking that there must be another, better solution that is as simple and elegant as how the movement works.

        But forget about that negativity, no system is perfect anyway. More importantly you guys are getting to use a load of the figures and terrain that you have been putting together for years now to get some cinematic, narrative driven miniatures gaming done. Thats the whole point and you guys are making it work. Keep it up 🙂


        • It makes perfect sense. God knows I have some pet peeves about rules systems..:D

          It’s certainly great to get some actual gaming done for a change. Not to mention that it has given a significant boost to my painting output. I have lots of stuff to show! Now if I only had more time to take photos and write blogs…


  2. […] Zombies and Miniature Wargaming « Utopia #2 – Triton revisited […]


  3. […] too, as the game takes a more story-like approach to the events. A good example of this is our previous game of Utopia, where the players were tackling Predators. We had a soundtrack featuring jungle sounds […]



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