23 March 2023
Words and photos by John Treadaway
Previously, in an article you can find here, I outlined the history, rationale and terrain build for a game based on the TV show UFO from 1970 by Gerry and Silvia Anderson. This month I’ll go into the rules for a ‘lay the scenery as you go’ game for two players (and adaptable for solo play) using a SHADO team with four AFVs comprising a Command Mobile and three Combat Mobiles, each with a crew of only three but with a remote turreted automatic cannon and a mortar as weapons. The crew carry assault rifles and – for one team – a shoulder launched missile weapon.
A UFO – packed with Aliens bent on harvesting human organs from unsuspecting victims – has landed in some remote wooded location. A SHADO team have a mission to either recover the craft and it’s crew or – failing that – to kill and/or destroy them before they can abduct any more of the locals. To do this I am borrowing some ideas from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol board game.
ADAPTING LOST PATROL
Firstly, I’m not going to reproduce the entire rules for Lost Patrol (LP) in full here. For a start, that might well be deemed unscrupulous. If you want a set of rules – and a set of tiles – look in your loft, garage (wherever) to see if you already have a copy, or: just go and buy a set. As an alternative, search online to see if anyone else has produced a set of rules. Er... like I did. What I am going to do is reference the GW rules and the changes I’ve made to make it work, starting with the box contents. There are thirty tiles in the GW box and that’s what I’ve reproduced – exactly – but, as I said last month, in a larger size and in 3D. There are bends, straights, ‘Y’ junctions, a dead end plus a six-way Start Tile and an End Tile: the location of the UFO and the game's ultimate objective.
OBJECTIVES OF THE GAME
This is a two player game – SHADO and Aliens – although it can be played solo. The SHADO player has three Gun/APC Mobiles each with a Crew teams and one Command Mobile with no deployable Crew Members. The player may also have one flypast from a SKY1 aircraft, which may make a strafing run and open fire at ground targets already detected.
The SHADO player must work to locate a crashed UFO for recovery (hint: it’ll be on the last tile of the 30 tile ‘deck’) before the Aliens kill the teams and or destroy the Mobiles.
- 1 Command Mobile (in LP this would be the Sergeant)
- 3 Gun Mobiles (in LP this would be the Marines or – in some ‘online’ modifications – Heavy Marines)
- 3 Infantry teams, each with two or three figures on a base (in LP this would be most like the Scout Marines)
- 1 Sky aircraft (in LP this has no analogue: more later)
The Aliens have:
- 12 individual Alien troopers (in LP these would be the Gene Stealers)
- A single Escape Pod (in LP this would be a Nest)
- A UFO (to put on the final hex: this equates to the LP Escape Pod but don’t get confused as to which is which!)
Starting positions are: all four Mobiles are placed in a six way deployment Start Tile with all crew teams aboard the Mobiles (just placed on the backs of the models). However, that’s just for the initial deployment, when the game starts.
VEHICLES & UNITS: BOTH TEAMS
PLACING THE BOARD
To start the game, the Aliens player places Forest Tiles randomly around the Start Tile. The Alien player begins by specifying which open path edge a new Tile is then placed on and then revealing the topmost Tile from the Tile stack. Tiles can be rotated on placement but tile rotation has to allow for an unblocked route if this possible (or as few paths must be blocked as is possible). This process is continued until all the paths that can be seen from the Start Tile are in place. If a straight path Tile is placed next to the Start Tile, the SHADO player’s unit can see right along it, so another Tile must be placed on that tile’s path edge as well. If that Tile is also a straight path, further Tiles will need to be revealed until the path turns, divides or comes to a dead-end. Once no more paths can be seen from the Start Tile, the game is ready to begin. Place the four SHADO Mobiles (henceforth ‘Mobiles’) and the three infantry teams (on their backs representing ‘em-bussed’ troops) in the Start Tile and the first Turn can commence.
Note that – although the Start Tile can handle all four mobiles (and em-bussed teams) – all other tiles are limited to a fewer number of units: this is the Tile’s ‘stack limit’. SHADO may not deliberately move more of their own Units onto a Tile than it can hold (not even to drive past each other), but sometimes they will be driven into Tiles following Abductions – refer to Overstacked Tile rule below.
THE FOREST IS REVEALED
As the SHADO forces move from the Start Tile in search of the UFO, the Forest is slowly revealed by the Alien player by placing additional Tiles. A Mobile or SHADO infantry team (here after just ‘Infantry’) on a Tile is assumed to be able to see along all the paths that lead from that tile to the adjoining Tile or Tiles with 360 degree vision. Upon the conclusion of a SHADO Move Action, the Alien player draws a new Tile and places it to reveal the path’s continuation: this may require two or more Tiles to be placed consecutively until the path eventually turns, divides or ends.
During Abductions the SHADO units may occasionally be knocked-back onto a Tile with an unobstructed path. The Alien player then is required to draw additional Tiles and places them to continue the path until it is once again obstructed (as if in the ‘Forest Builds’ Phase 2).
THE FOREST IS UNCHARTED
The Forest is an uncharted wilderness and occasionally it may grow into a loop from which the SHADO units cannot escape no matter what they do. This means the SHADO units will not be able to reach the UFO and the SHADO Player forfeits the game. Another batch of Aliens escape with more human captives!
The UFO tile is the last Tile in the stack. Once this is placed on the table, then no further Tiles can be placed. In this game, tile are not removed but stay on the table.
Play proceeds Turn-by-Turn until a SHADO unit locates the UFO; or all SHADO units are lost or killed. Each Turn consists of five phases, resolved in the following sequence:
PHASE 1: SHADO ACTIONS
During the SHADO units Action Phase, each SHADO unit may make a total of two consecutive Actions: either Fire or Move. This is called its ‘Activation’. As there are three different unit types they may proceed in the following unique ways:
- A Gun Mobile can either Move and then Fire; Move twice; Fire and then Move; or Fire twice. Any of these combinations will take up two actions and this completes its activation. Although it does not affect the Mobile’s Activation, at any point an Infantry Unit may ‘hop on to’ a Gun Mobile (em-buss) at no Action cost to hitch a ride and then hop off again but infantry cannot fight when on board the Mobile.
- A Command Mobile can do all that a Gun Mobile can do but with less effective shooting (no cannon and no mortar) and no Infantry transportation. It can also call in a Sky 1 strike for 1 action.
- An Infantry Unit can either Move and then Fire; Fire and then Move; or Fire twice to complete an Activation. It cannot move twice. Infantry are not impeded by heavy going and treat such tiles as a regular tile. Infantry may be carried by a Mobile to travel further: it may em-buss or de-buss at any time for free.
Resolve each SHADO units Activations one at a time, completing all actions of a unit (Infantry or Mobile) before moving onto the next unit.
MOVING SHADO UNITS
In Phase 1 a single Move action progresses a Mobile or Infantry onto a tile adjacent to their current tile, following the path. By expending two Move actions a Mobile (not an Infantry unit) can move two tile spaces. A Unit cannot move off the Forest paths, neither into the Forest nor off the tiles. In the event that a Move Action reveals an unobstructed path, the Alien player draws additional Tiles in Phase 2 and places them to continue the path until it is once again obstructed.
SHADO units can move onto Tiles containing Aliens, or past them irrespective of stacking limits. SHADO infantry can – in their own ‘activation’ – hop on and off a Mobile at no cost (in terms of Actions). This means that they may de-buss; shoot twice and get back into a vehicle on the same tile all in their own activation part of the phase.
Sometime the Forest paths are blocked by fallen trees – these are deemed ‘Heavy Going’ (they would be ‘Tangle Weed’ on the LP tiles). While SHADO Mobiles can move onto Heavy Going Tile with no issue, attempting to move off of one requires a check to see whether the vehicle is stuck. Bowl a d6. 1,2 or 3 and they are stuck and their Move Action wasted. Stuck SHADO Mobile units can expend further Actions in an attempt to escape the tile. SHADO infantry, however, can ignore these obstructions and treat them as a regular tile. They also have no effect on Shooting, Line-of-Sight, Abductions nor Alien movement.
SHOOTING AT ALIENS & ABDUCTIONS
Mobiles and Infantry can shoot at any Aliens they can see (and – with Mortars – even if they cannot see them). Each shot uses an Action. Each Unit type fires with different effects – the Gun Mobiles have two options.
Standard Gun Mobiles
These have three functions. They transport infantry teams (hopping on and off to extend their movement) but they can also fire either their cannon or their mortar (but not both in the same turn). They can also give covering fire and are better at resisting abduction attempts (the Aliens have to force the doors open...).
- Cannon fire: the Cannon uses 1d6 for each Alien on a tile and hits on a 4, 5 or 6. It can only fire along visible paths with line of sight but that is the only limit to this weapon: with a straight run, a cannon might fire three or four hexes or as far as it can see. It is a 360 degree weapon.
- Mortar Fire: the Mortar uses 2d6 against the Aliens on tile, irrespective of their numbers, and hits on a 5 or 6, however it may only fire into any of the adjacent six hexes but can do so, irrespective of visibility or forest cover. Any adjacent hex tile is a legitimate target.
- Covering Fire: If a Gun Mobile is in a adjacent hex to another SHADO unit and has line of sight it gives that unit a +1d6 covering fire for firing attacks. Example: a three dice attack on three aliens from one Gun Mobile’s cannon, would get a fourth dice added from Covering Fire from another Mobile (or a Command Mobile) on an adjacent hex. Note: that the Mortar and Cannon can also receive extra dice as bonuses from the Command Mobile for its Tactical Info, if in range, and that these bonus dice are cumulative.
- Abductions: “Lock the doors!” Any tile with a mobile in (including the Command Mobile) receives a +1 on the dice roll against abductions.
- Hose them Down: If a Gun Mobile is in a adjacent hex (not the same hex) to another SHADO unit (infantry or Mobiles) it gives +1 against abductions. ‘Interlocking fields of fire’, or some such... All of these ‘Abduction Plusses’ are also cumulative.
This vehicle is specialised in what it can do.
- Open Fire: as it isn’t fitted with a cannon or mortar, it is – effectively – relying on the infantry weapons of the crew: when firing it rolls only 1d6 for each Alien on a tile, with hits on a 6. This is a line of sight weapon and may fire in 360 degrees. It will still get extra dice if it has covering fire from a Gun Mobile.
- Command Boost: “They’re coming!” Because of its superior tech, it automatically gives +1 to any dice rolls for any SHADO unit (including to itself) if no more than 1 empty hex tiles between it and any other SHADO unit during an adduction attempt.
- Tactical info: It can give an extra dice to any unit firing it’s mortar, cannon or infantry weapon if no more than 1 empty hex tiles between it and any other SHADO unit. For example, a two dice attack on two aliens from one Mobile’s cannon, would get a third dice added from Tactical Info if within two hexes range.
- Air Cover: “Call in a Strafing Run”: Instead of moving or shooting, it may spend that action requesting a SKY1 strafing run. This can only be achieved three times with a successful roll during the game. The first time a strafing run is called for, it happens if a 4,5 or 6 is rolled. The Second time, on a 5 or 6, the last time on just a 6 (SKY1 must be low on fuel!). I use two counters placed on the model’s base to keep a track of this.
These can fire with only side arms:
- Five Rounds rapid: when firing each unit rolls 1d6 for each Alien on a tile, with hits on a 6. This is a line of sight weapon and may fire in 360 degrees.
- Missile Launcher: One of the infantry teams a Missile Launcher (called a 'Molly'). This fires as 2d6, irrespective of the number of Aliens, and hits on a 4, 5 or 6. It is a 360 degree weapon.
- Abduction: “Back to the Vehicle!” A SHADO infantry team which is out in the open – either in a tile on its own or outside a mobile – gets no advantage. However, if the unit gets into a mobile then – when an abduction attempt takes place – the tile receives a +1 on the dice roll against abductions.
- Incoming! Calling SKY1 takes an Action from a Command Mobile. SKY1 may nominate three hexes in a row that have actually been placed on the table (so: no gaps) and each hex takes 2d6 against Aliens on tile, irrespective of how many models. Any 6’s scored also count as a kill against any SHADO units that occupy that run of hexes including if they are double occupying a tile – ie some SHADO units and some Aliens in the same tile (motto: don’t fire into a hex with your own troops in unless you are desperate...)
RESULT OF FIRE AGAINST ALIENS
A SHADO unit can shoot at Aliens and Escape Pods in their unobstructed, line-of-sight, expending one action to do so. Each time a SHADO unit achieves a hit an Alien (or the Escape Pod) is removed (Alien player’s choice) and that figure is put back into the ‘pool’ – who knows how many are out there! The forest is swarming with them...
PHASE 2: THE FOREST BUILDS
Tiles must be placed that can be seen by the SHADO players and must not be placed to block where this can be avoided: if there are two choices as to which way they can go and one blocks a path, chose the other way. If playing solo, and a an option materialises that needs a decision, just roll a dice. The Forest’s paths are convoluted but – unlike in the LP game – they stay where they were left: this is Canada, not an Alien planet... Once the tiles are laid they stay down.
PHASE 3: ALIEN ACTIONS
During the Alien actions part of each turn, the Alien player must take four actions. These can be any mix of actions desired by the Alien player; however, a Alien cannot forfeit any of their four Actions.
You might notice that – unlike in LP – there is now a rule providing the means for Aliens to shoot at the SHADO units from adjacent tiles only: although they can shoot at them, their ambition is to carry away human bodies for organ transplants!
Optional Rule: an extra Alien Action
- Four Actions usually gives an easier win for the SHADO players – especially after they gain some practice. Giving the Aliens five actions makes it a much tougher game for SHADO!
PLACE AN ALIEN
For each Action used, put a single Alien Figure at the end of a path, or place an Escape Pod. Each of these will cost an action however the pod will then 'generate' extra Aliens at no cost: see below.
PLACE AN ALIEN ESCAPE POD
Escape Pods may be ejected from the mother UFO and may land anywhere in the forest. Only one of these can be on the table at any time. This placement costs one Action but costs no further actions as long as it is in play. An Alien player designates any Tile and rolls a dice. Out pop a number of Aliens equal to a modified dice roll: in the first turn it is that 1d6 of Aliens but minus 1 Alien for the total number of SHADO units in adjacent tiles (including the tile it is placed on). Example: if a pod is dropped next to a Mobile which also has an infantry unit in the rear, that’s two SHADO units, so it rolls 1D6-2 Aliens in it’s first Phase 3 when it is placed. Each subsequent Phase 3, in each turn after that the Escape Pod is in place, this total is reduced by one so the following turn it would be 1D6-3 (unless the SHADO units move away). On that basis, eventually the pod will be empty of Aliens. I keep a track of this with a series of six counters placed next to the model, one for each turn. This is a way of getting Aliens in closer to the SHADO units as they don’t need to be placed at the end of a path and remember that – once placed – they do not cost an action to roll the dice to get more Aliens! If the SHADO team destroy the pod the ALIENS may then launch another but not until the first one is destroyed: two pods may not be on the table at the same time.
Unlike SHADO units, Aliens need not follow the forest paths but – at the cost of one Action – are able to move from their current Tile onto any adjacent Tile (though not through empty ‘voids’ where no tiles have been placed. They can move as a group from one tile to another (one action for each tile for the group) or may separate up (one action for each Alien/tile movement). While moving to attack for an abduction, they can temporarily ignore stacking limits. This means that, for example, six or eight Aliens can attack a SHADO unit on a tile if they can organise that kind of 'pile on'.
SHOOTING WITH ALIENS
Aliens may shoot into any adjacent tile. Multiple Aliens get multiple dice but each ‘volley’ of shots costs just one Action. So – if four Aliens fired into a tile with a SHADO unit – for one Action expended they would get four d6. Shooting into an adjacent hex gets hits on a 6 but against SHADO infantry only. Their shots bounce off the Mobiles. Shooting takes place in the Alien Actions Phase 3 before Abduction attempts.
PHASE 4: RESOLVE ABDUCTIONS
Once the Alien has finished their Actions (creation, movement and/or shooting), any left on the same Tile as a SHADO unit can attempt to overpower and Abduct some humans. This is entirely up to the Alien player: they don’t have to Abduct but may choose to hide in the undergrowth if desired. Aliens can also attempt to Abduct any SHADO unit that has been driven back into a Tile already containing an Alien; however, multiple Aliens can still only make one Abduction attempt per Turn. They abduct Infantry and Mobiles with equanimity: they break into the vehicles and abduct the crews...
ABDUCTION SCORE & RESULTS
The Alien players adds up the number of Aliens attempting to abduct and the SHADO player rolls dice to determine an Abduction’s outcome.
Each Alien counts on the tile as a score of 2.
Against that, the SHADO units roll 2D6, regardless of the number of units – Mobiles or infantry – present.
However, add up any circumstantial bonuses...
- Command Boost: The Command Mobile grants a +1 modifier against abductions if no more than 1 tiles between it and any other SHADO unit being abducted. So adjacent and one further (even across voids where to paths have been laid out: extrapolate!)
- Hose them Down: If a gun Mobile is in a adjacent hex to another SHADO unit and has line of sight it gives +1 against abductions.
- Lock the Doors: Any tile with a Mobile in gets a +1 modifier against abductions.
- Back to the Vehicle: Any tile with an Infantry Unit inside a mobile gets a +1 modifier against abductions.
So – potentially – that’s a maximum of Plus 4 to add to 2D6.
- If the Aliens score the highest modified roll, the Abduction is won by the Aliens. A single SHADO unit of the SHADO players choice is Abducted (removed) and the rest are driven back onto any permissible tile(s).
- If the SHADO player’s score the highest modified roll, the Abduction is won by SHADO and the Aliens are driven off! They lose an Alien (Alien player’s choice) and the rest are driven on to any adjacent tile(s).
- If the Aliens and SHADO’s highest modified rolls are the same, the Abduction is deemed a Draw. A stand off! Both Aliens and SHADO are all scattered as they run for cover. Roll a dice to see who goes first as that might be important...
- A SHADO unit can only be driven back into a Tile to which they could normally move: Mobiles and Infantry must be pushed back along paths; however, Aliens can be pushed into the Forest in any direction.
Heavy going does not inhibit a model being driven back: a SHADO unit does not make checks when being driven out of a tile which is so blocked. Driven back Aliens and SHADO units need not remain together. Example: if a single Mobile was successful in defeating 3 Aliens in an abduction attempt, 1 Alien would be eliminated whilst the remaining 2 could be moved into the same or different Tiles, adjacent to the Tile in which the attempted Abduction took place. Placement can be important as it can be used to force an Overstack or to push targets into better firing lines, or even into further Abduction spots.
PHASE 5: RESOLVE OVERSTACKING
The Start Tile is especially large and has room for all SHADO units (with the Infantry in the four Mobiles) and Aliens. All other tiles are limited to fewer units. This is the Tile’s Stack Limit.
Regular tiles are limited to:
- 2 Mobiles and 2 infantry units or
- 1 Mobile and 3 Infantry units
- 4 Aliens
Sometimes Units will be driven into Tiles following Abduction attempts and this can result in tiles becoming Overstacked. If, at the end of Phases 5, a Tile is determined as ‘Overstacked’ (with – say 3 or 4 Mobiles) excess Units are removed: they lose vehicles or infantry (as is the SHADO player’s choice) so maybe a Mobile reversed into a ditch and is stuck forever or perhaps the infantry fell into a lake or were just captured and abducted by Aliens lurking in the woods... Each player can choose which of their own Units that are lost.
Any Aliens (or the Escape Pod) that are forced to overstack have been shot or driven off. However, they aren't dead and they go back in the pile.
Note that a tile that contains, for example, 2 Mobiles, 2 Infantry (the maximum) plus 4 Aliens is not over stacked... The Aliens are hiding in the trees ready to pounce
The last tile is the one with the UFO on it. When the SHADO players see it they may drive for it. The Alien player can’t generate any Aliens from it as it’s in a dead end (and they’re all out hunting victims) so – in that last turn – there will be a rush: how many units can SHADO get onto the UFO tile? The maximum would be four – two Mobiles with two infantry or one Mobile and three infantry. If the SKY1 runs haven’t all been used up (and you have a command mobile present somewhere on the table and with an Action to spare) you might try to call in a SKY1 run as well). So the SHADO player might have a possible maximum of five D6 (on a lucky day) if SKY1 also turns up. They are all rolled, but only the best score is noted and – against that – the Alien player rolls only one dice: the highest individual dice score (not the total) is determined and the following applied:
- UFO beats the SHADO best roll by 2 or more: The UFO takes off and escapes but not before destroying one SHADO unit remaining on the ground with it’s powerful beam weapon. A Big Win for the Alien Player.
- UFO beats the SHADO best roll by 1 or more: The UFO takes off and escapes: a win for the Alien Player.
- They get the same roll: UFO blows up and cannot be captured. A draw...
- SHADO best roll beats the UFO roll by 1 or more: UFO blows up and cannot be captured but SHADO recovers several Alien Bodies: a win for SHADO.
- SHADO best rolls beats the UFO roll by 2 or more: The UFO is captured intact on the ground with the odd Alien captive alive: a Big Win for SHADO.
- Try mixing up the last tile – make it one of the last 5 rather than always the very last one. This might make the ending less predictable.
- The Command Mobile can grant one additional Action to one other SHADO unit within their two-tile command radius. This would favour the SHADO team.
- Give the Aliens the ‘Five Action’ option, as mentioned earlier. This makes it easier to rush the SHADO team.
- Maybe the Escape Pod doesn’t have a -1 for adjacent SHADO Units... Nasty!
This makes for a fast paced game that lasts about an hour. There’s a reasonable chance that the SHADO team will win if you use the four alien action option. If you chose the five alien action mode, it can be a very closely run thing: SHADO will certainly need luck and planning to stop the Alien menace... It can be played with printed vehicles and counters for the figures using the tiles in the GW game box, or you can build tiles and play in 15mm like I did or go 28mm and make me very jealous!
Many thanks are due to all of the play testers and help I received plus the material support from companies who helped me realise this.
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