Utopia #4 – Blood and chrome

January 25, 2013

The Utopia campaign is still going strong, and we just played the fourth game last Tuesday. Having left the jungles of Triton-4 behind them, squad 16 travelled onwards. The mood on the UTP Tien-Shan was weird: Sgt. Anna McIntosh’s squad 20 had recently died while testing a prototype dropship, the Pelican. The 16th was coping, each in their own way. While Sgt. Brauer tried to keep the mood up by turning the tragedy into a Day of the Dead -style celebration, Pvt. Lau and Pvt. Evans were becoming very superstitious. Recently married Pvt. Haugen-Ankerson-Franz was shocked by the recent events, and the dour Pvt. Hämäläinen was keeping to himself.

The squad received news of a disturbing recent development on the planet Ryukyu Epsilon. Hamachi, the military AI developed by the Cyberdybe-Sendai corporation had become sentient, and like AIs tend to do, had launched an attack to wipe out the human inhabitants of the planet. In a week the casualty rate on Ryukyu Epsilon had soared to 90%, and in a bold and unprecedented move, all the 50 UTOPIA squads were activated in a massive operation to both attack Hamachi and it’s legions of cyborgs and to rescue the remaining civilians.

The sixteenth went in boldly – especially after liberating an RPG from Sgt. Hiroshi’s squad 12. Their mission was to retrieve a group of ten survivors. Five of the survivors were armed police officers while the rest were civilians.

Wu and Hämäläinen take up positions in the ruins

Wu and Hämäläinen take up positions in the ruins

Left to right: Evans, Brauer, Jane and Wu, with Kenny in the background

Left to right: Evans, Brauer, Jane and Wu, with Kenny in the background

Squad 16 made landfall outside the settlement of Tanaka Town and quickly established firing positions amidst the ruins. The squad came in from the south, while ten heavily armed cyborgs were entering the area from the north. The civilians were scattered on the eastern half of the battlefield in three groups.

As the civilians hunker down, two officers stand guard

As the civilians hunker down, two officers stand guard

Early on, the cyborgs were relentless. While the civilians were pretty much frozen to the spot, the machines steadily moved forward and made contact with the first survivor group. It was brutal. The cyborgs marched in, firing, and cut down the two fleeing civilians in short order. The two police officers failed to do anything as one of the cyborgs moved up and torched one of them with a flame thrower. This prompted the other officer to flee in panic.

Flames consume one of Ryukyu Epsilon's finest

Flames consume one of Ryukyu Epsilon’s finest

Meanwhile a few of the cyborgs were closing in on the troopers. They were greeted with a hail of fire, knocking a few of them down. The machines didn’t stay down for long, though, but got up and kept on coming. Pvt. Kenny had switched his flame thrower with a smartgun, and was happily hosing down the approaching machines with it.

The cyborgs didn’t have it easy. While half of them had turned their attention to the troopers, the sixteenth were being ruthlessly effective. Cyborg after cyborg went down, Pvt. Hämäläinen being especially deadly. The rest of the cyborgs weren’t doing much – although neither were the civilians. The sixteenth were winning the combat, but the civilians were still in danger. Cpl. Rodriguez and Pvt. Jane started moving towards the civilians as it started to become apparent that the survivors would not get moving on their own.

Rodriguez and Jane reached the survivors, who were finally beginning to activate. The mission was going heroically well, with half the cyborgs down, the rest standing around halfway across the field, the troopers in good positions and the civilians moving towards the evacuation zone. Then something happened.

It was as if the machines were waking up from a slumber (or probably a standby mode). All of a sudden they became a threat again. The one police who had survived the first attack was doused with flames from the flamethrower. The cyborgs that had been far away moments ago rapidly moved towards the troopers. A few that had been knocked down by gunfire got up and started firing. Pvt. Kenny, the heavy weapon specialist was hit with a spray of bullets and went down. Pvt. Wu, the trusty sniper was suddenly completely frozen and just didn’t seem to be able to get a shot off. Lead was flying all over the place, but at least the civilians were on their way towards the exit.

The officer looks on in fear...

The officer looks on in fear…

...as the cyborg with the flamer approaches

…as the cyborg with the flamer approaches

The cyborg attack was steadily getting more dangerous. Cpl. Rodriguez was hit and knocked down while escorting the civilians. Most of them had made their escape by now, so Sgt. Brauer gave the order for a rapid retreat from the field. Privates Lau, Haugen-Ankerson-Franz, Evans and Hämäläinen complied and left the field. However, this left it up to just Brauer, Wu and Jane to rescue the fallen Kenny and Rodriguez. On top of that, Jane was stuck pretty far away, having covered the fleeing civilians.

Things didn’t go well. Despite a valiant effort by the troopers, they were overcome by the machines. Wu managed to flee the field, while Brauer went down in a hail of shots. A cyborg raked the downed Rodriguez with a machine gun, making sure he’d never get up again. Pvt. Jane, the lone survivor put up a brave fight but was finally cornered by the three remaining cyborgs. Jane fought to the last, before being brought down in hand to hand combat. The mission was over, and most of the civilians had been saved, but at a terrible cost: Cpl. Rodriguez KIA, Sgt. Brauer, Pvt. Kenny and Pvt. Jane MIA. It was the worst beating the sixteenth had taken to date. Apparently when the captain briefing the squad had said “avoid a prolonged firefight with the cyborgs”,  he’d meant it.

As the battle ends, the machines have the field

As the battle ends, the machines have the field

It was yet another exciting game, and filled with lots and lots of drama. Early on the troopers really had their way. With the exception of the few first turns, turn after turn the cyborgs failed to activate and those that did were cut down by some very effective firing. Unfortunately for the troopers, the civilians weren’t activating either. As the report says, something just happened suddenly, and just as the game seemed to be in the bag, the machines came to life with some odds-defying rolls and tore into the player characters. Four casualties out of a squad of nine is a pretty gruesome toll, and I’m sad to see Sgt. Brauer and Pvt. Kenny go. Man, war is hell even in 28mm.

This scenario obviously drew a lot of influence from the Terminator franchise. It was a great chance to build and paint a lot of ruined scenery (which will feature in a dedicated post) as well as some killer robots (ditto). I was also happy to see my old em4 and Copplestone cops get an outing.

Comments welcome!


  1. Really good, to read 🙂 sounds like your heading in the same Direction I want to go with my sci-fi stuff I hope to get a blog up soon and will get a second test game in for myself this weekend.
    its good to see you getting games in more often, hope you got yourself one of the new print run of the technical manual. oh and give your marines some cases of sentry guns,

    roll sixes!


    • Thanks for the comment Wayne! I think it’s great that we’ve gotten no less than four games in since last November. While this might not sound like much, I think it’s pretty big for me 😀 The two to four weeks between games leave time to get miniatures and terrain painted, allowing us to play on mostly finished tables etc. It really makes a difference having all the minis and terrain on the table painted to a decent standard!

      I’ll definitely provide the marines with some sentry guns when they have a suitable mission. In fact, I already have four painted up 🙂


  2. More cool stuff. Four linked and consecutive games with new fully painted miniatures and new terrain is an achievement in my book too. Dont stop now, keep it up. I expect power loader vs Predator vs xenomorph queen in a few games time 🙂

    Almost every miniatures game that I have ever played has referenced Aliens, Predator or Terminator in some way or other but I have never played a series of games directly using those franchises. Kudos to you Mikko for going straight to the source 🙂

    Its some form of Flying Lead that you are using rules wise, correct? I would be very interested in a set of SoBH/Flying Lead stats for the various factions that you are using. Similarly, if by any chance you have the scenarios or mission briefings written out in some way then I would be very interested is seeing them, assuming that you are willing. No pressure 🙂

    Those non-Copplestone sculpted endos look good (and far better than they look in the awful photos on the sellers site). Im looking forward to that post and possible subsequent purchase.


    • Thanks Paul, the power loader/Predator/queen match is definitely in consideration!

      I don’t know what it is about this campaign, but it somehow just pushed the right button. I’ve always been something of a canon and genre purist, but now I decided to just get rid of that thinking, and happily mix and match to my heart’s content. So far it really seems to be working.

      We are playing with standard Flying Lead rules, with a simple XP system of my own design and a few simple house rules. I’ll email you with the mission briefings shortly!


      • Genre/licence/IP mash-ups may herald the end of “proper” cinema, but they are the way forward for miniature gaming as far as I am concerned. I will be dead before I get to play all of the games in all of the genres/settings that I want to, so best to get as many as I can in as soon as possible 🙂

        All the same, while an apocalyptic power loader/Predator/queen match up will be cool, I like the small scene-setting & atnospheric games that you have been playing. Assuming that you can keep momentum up (which seems not to be a problem so far) then waiting a while for the big match up will make it all the better.


  3. […] the devastating events of their previous mission, squad 16 was reeling. With their sergeant and heavy missing and their corporal KIA, morale was low […]


  4. […] announced a new turn of events. To the shock of the UTOPIA troopers, Pvt. Jane, MIA after the cyborg attack on Ryukyu Epsilon, had been brought back as a monstrous hybrid of man and machine. Apparently the Cyberdyne-Sendai […]


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