Critter Cull by Martyn Henderson

Issue: 26
System: Into the Laserzone
Publisher: A&A Game Engineering

Critter Cull
Anti-Xenomorph Operations
by Martyn Henderson
in collaboration with Andrew Finch


These rules modify Into the Laserzone for games in which one or more players take on swarms of Xenomorphs, whose actions are determined by the system detailed below.

Incidentally, the name for the scenario came from the Colonial Marines Tech Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (Boxtree Books); that's what THEY call these operations. That book also features lovely pictures of equipment. My favourite is the nose art of a VTOL gunship. It carries the motto "We Endanger Species" !

The Scenario:

The planet Bauer has been selected for terra-forming and the first reprocessing plants and their attendant colonists and engineers have been landed. Initial surveys, however, failed to detect the presence of a large number of Xenomorphs on Bauer, and a military campaign against these fierce and intelligent hive-dwellers has begun. The player(s) command one battlegroup in this campaign.

When choosing forces, the player(s) should put as much imagination into the chosen detachments as possible. A player choosing a mixed force of 5000 points of infantry, tanks, and armoured carriers should instead of seeing them as mere detachments, see himself as, say, the Commandante of the 191st Combat Group. He should view his force as a real command, with real people, real unit histories, real inter-arm rivalries. In a multi-player game, different players would get to command different parts of the army.

The 191st consists of two infantry companies, detached from the 1123rd Light Infantry Battalion They see themselves as the real fighters of the 191st and view the two carrier squadrons' crews as unfit bus-drivers, suited only to dropping them off and escaping to the rear. The carrier crews look on the infantry as dim-wits, too stupid to operate sophisticated vehicles and fit only to trudge about in the mud. Both of these see the tankers as suicides, riding about in their tanks pre-packaged for cremation. The tank crews see the other arms as anachronistic supports for their two squadrons of real killing machines. They all share two views, however: their comrades need their support against the bugs, and that all officers above the level of company commander are fools.

Initial Set-Up:

For the purposes of this campaign, both the Player(s) and the Xenomorphs start with the same points value. While the players have a free choice to set up their armies, the Xenomorphs will always have forces determined at random from their current points value. Xenomorphs never have any support cards.

No initiative rolls are required during the game, as the players place their orders, the Xenomorphs roll for theirs, and apply the result immediately, then the players move. Players will then fire First Fire, and the game will progress from there.

Player Force Selection:

Player(s) select forces freely, with the only limitation being that no more than 10% of the initial points may be bought of Air Drive Vehicles, and no replacement units may be of that type. The climate of Bauer is hostile, with low visibility and frequent dust and electrical storms making the operation and maintenance of aircraft almost impossible (See Special Rule 1).

Player Missions:

The player(s) choose one mission from the following:

  1. Battlefield Supremacy
  2. Routine Counter-Intrusion Sweep
  3. Logistics Run
  4. Recon
  5. Defensive Area Denial
  6. Hive Attack

The Hive Attack is a variant on the Installation attack. 35% of the present Roster Value is used, and deployment is on the Player(s) base line. This Mission cannot be used on two consecutive days.

In this the attack is on one of the Hive's Outposts, each of which consists of two Ventilation Towers, each Armour B, Very Large, with 10 hits, the destruction of each of which causes a loss of 200 Credits to the Xenomorphs, and six underground breeding chambers, the destruction of each being worth 100 Credits loss to the Bugs.

The chambers are set out in a "circular" hexagonal pattern, linked sequentially, and numbered from 1 to 6 (chamber 6 has a tunnel to chambers 1 and 5, for example).

Each ventilation tower is linked by a separate tunnel to one of the chambers (determined at random). A chamber can have two ventilation towers. The ventilation towers also serve as the entrances and exits to the tunnels for the players. If bothventilation towers are destroyed and there are still player units in the tunnels, these all count as eliminated.

Underground tunnels and entrances are all size 1, therefore only accessible to infantry and Very Small vehicles.

Underground chambers are destroyed by the destruction of all the tunnels leading to them (using the rules set out in Into the Laserzone) including those leading to ventilation towers.

For a Hive Attack, the hive is set out in the Central Laserzone, regardless of the Xenomorphs' mission.

During a Hive Attack, the normal game duration is suspended, and the game cannot end until either:

  • at least two of the Breeding Chambers have been destroyed. At the end of the turn in which a Chamber was destroyed, roll 1D6. If the score is less than the number of Chambers destroyed, the game ends immediately, and results are ascertained;
  • or both Ventilation Towers have been destroyed. When this happens the game ends at the end of the turn in which the second Tower was destroyed and results are ascertained.

Special Movement Rules:

All Xenomorphs count as having normal Infantry Movement, rather than any of the other special types.

For the purposes of movement, each Breeding Chamber counts as a 10 cm distance for the Xenomorphs only, as does movement through a Ventilation Tower. This means that a Xenomorph can move (on DASH orders) through two Breeding Chambers, or through one Chamber and a Ventilation Tower, or through one Tower and then 10 cm. on the surface.

Humans operating under ground can only move 1 Chamber or Tower per turn.

Player Deployment:

Generate and set up the terrain as usual. Determine the visibility range and the effects of Extreme Weather.

Players then deploy their blips at the appropriate starting positions before any Objective Markers or Xenomorph blips are set out (i.e. before they know what the Xenomorphs will be doing).

Objective markers will be placed later after the Xenomorph Mission has been determined.

Xenomorph Missions:

These are determined at random at the start of each campaign turn. Roll 1D6:

  • 1. Battlefield Supremacy using 35% of present Roster Value.
  • 2, 3. Routine Counter-Intrusion Sweep using 25% of present Roster Value.
  • 4, 5, 6. Defensive Area Denial using 15% of present Roster Value.

The usual prohibition on two consecutive missions of the same type is waived for Xenomorphs.

Xenomorph Force Selection:

Xenomorph forces consist of two types, which for all purposes are costed at 500 points each.

Type 1: 12 Elements of veteran assault infantry with thin chitin and toxic spray at 480 points.

Type 2: 12 Elements of veteran assault infantry with thin chitin, toxic spray, and High Level Command, at 580 points. See Special Rule 2).

All Xenomorph units are considered to be worth 500 points, although some are worth more, some less. A pack of Blips is made up in the ratio 2 of Unit Type 1 to 1 of Unit Type 2 to 3 blanks. These blips should all be identical on one side, and show the unit type (or be blank) on the back.

When the Xenomorph force level (35%, 25% or 15% of the present Roster Value) has been ascertained, calculate how many multiples of 500 this points value is. If a fraction of 500 is left over, assign a further unit (e.g. if the forces to be deployed are worth 1150 points that would mean three units). Now, from the pack of blips draw twice that number of blips, without knowing whether they are type 1, type 2, or blanks.

Xenomorph Deployment:

First place one Xenomorph Blip in each underground chamber and then in each available position offering cover - i.e. behind hills, in woods, scrub etc. If there is more cover than there are blips, then roll for which cover has a blip in it. If there are more blips than cover, roll for which cover has more than one blip in it.

A Xenomorph blip revealed by a player coming within 20 cm. is deployed so that as many elements as possible are inside the cover sheltered from fire. If the Blip is a Dummy, keep it by the detachment, and at the start of the next turn, after orders have been revealed, roll 1D6 on the Medication Support Table under Support Cards. The effects of the resulting card will be applied immediately to the detachment which uncovered the Blip. The "Neutralisation card" result will neutralise the effect of any medicinal card played on the detachment by its owner, including another such card. This is to simulate the effects of stress and uncertainty on the troops.

Objective Markers:

Each side has Objective Markers based on the number of points being deployed. If a player has more than 500 points to deploy, he gets 1 objective marker per 1000 points (500 and greater is rounded up). The Xenomorphs get objective markers in the same way, but based on 1 per two blips deployed.

All the objective markers are placed in a pile, and then deployed, after the Xenomorph blips have been set out, in the following order:

  1. one in each underground chamber
  2. one in each dense wood
  3. one in each urban/built-up area
  4. one on each significant building generated
  5. one in each open wood
  6. one in each area of scrub.

If several areas of the same terrain are available, choose the one closest to the Xenomorph start line.

Special Rules:

In Within the Laserzone there are optional rules for Extreme Weather. As Bauer is being terra-formed, and to suit all those X-rated SF Horror fans out there, the extreme weather roll is mandatory (i.e. the optional rule must be used, and the weather roll is made regardless of whether the "table dice" rolled 1 or not). Take the "table dice" rolled as the Weather Extreme dice.

In Within the Laserzone an optional rule is presented for another method of operating High Level Command. It is recommended that this rule be used for both sides in this scenario.

Xenomorph Tactical Movement:

Each turn, after the player(s) have placed their orders, roll 1D6 per Xenomorph detachment which has been revealed (i.e. is not a blip). Modify the roll as below:

  • +2 the detachment is 12 elements strong
  • +1 the detachment is 11 elements strong
  • +0 the detachment is 9 or 10 elements strong
  • -1 the detachment is 8 elements strong
  • -2 the detachment is 7 elements strong
  • +2 the detachment is 6 or fewer elements strong
  • +2 the detachment is in a Breeding Chamber
  • -2 High Level Command element within 10 cm (or if detachment has intrinsic High Level Command when using the optional rule from Within the Laserzone). This modifier can only be added once.

The final result gives the Xenomorph detachment its orders, from the following table. These orders are carried out immediately, starting with the detachments nearest to the Xenomorphs' Base Line.

6DASH towards the nearest enemy and engage detachments in Close Assault.
5(a) If enemy currently occupying an objective within 10 cm. (or in an adjacent Breeding Chamber), DASH towards enemy detachment and engage them in close combat.
(b) Otherwise, stand still with DASH orders.
4(a) If currently occupying an objective, DASH towards any enemy detachment within 10 cm (or in an adjacent Breeding Chamber), and engage them in Close Assault.
(b) If any enemy within 20 cm. (or up to 2 Breeding Chambers away), DASH towards nearest enemy detachment and engage them in Close Assault
(c) Otherwise, stand still with DASH orders.
3(a) If not currently in Cover, DASH towards the nearest cover and occupy it, staying as far as possible from the edges.
(b) Otherwise, stand still with DASH orders.
2(a) If there is a High Level Command detachment on the table, which is more than 10 cm (1 Breeding Chamber) from the unit, DASH towards it and halt beside it.
(b) Otherwise, RECOVER.

After the Xenomorphs have carried out their movement, the Players move their detachments, if possible. The players will be the only side with any fire to resolve.

Inter-Mission Phase:

The following modifications to the standard Campaign rules are required for the Xenomorphs. The Players operate their Inter Mission phase normally.

1. Recovery & 6. Replacement of Infantry Elements:

All Xenomorph detachments at or over 50% strength (in elements) at the end of the game are returned to full strength at no cost. All those under 50% strength are lost and deleted from the Roster.

2. Experience:

All Xenomorph detachments are always of Veteran Morale. No amount of experience increases or decreases their morale.

8. Purchase of Reinforcement Detachments:

All detachments which appear during the game are of Veteran Morale, even at the start.

10. Check for Defeat:

The players are obliged to follow the basic Campaign system, including the requirements for the minimum Defensive Area Denial Mission.

The Xenomorphs are not subject to these moves. The only way to defeat them is to reduce their Roster Value to zero. Any amount in excess of 0 will always generate at least one Blip.

Running Critter Cull as a Normal Game:

Game Styles:

The terrain is set out using the terrain generation rules, and the entry side for the players is determined at random.

A set of Xenomorph Blips is made up as described earlier.

The human players determine how many points they intend to field for the game, and then roll 2D6 to determine what the game type will be, by taking the lower score of the two dice:

  • 1: Final Assault
  • 2, 3: Hasty Defence
  • 4, 5, 6: Meeting Engagement

Final Assault:

A Hive Complex is set up at the Xenomorph side of the table. The Xenomorph gets 1 Blip for each 500 points of the attacking army, plus one Blip for each Breeding Chamber, and one for each Ventilation Tower. The Hive is generated as described under the Hive Attack campaign mission.

Xenomorph Blips are deployed as described earlier.

One objective marker is placed in each Breeding Chamber.

The Human player wins by destroying the Hive, otherwise a Xenomorph victory or a draw is determined on points as in the normal Final Assault rules.

Hasty Defence:

A half-sized (uncompleted) Hive Complex is set up on the Xenomorph side of the table. This has three Breeding Chambers and one Ventilation Tower. The Chambers are in a semi-circular pattern, numbered "1-2", "3-4" and "5-6". The Tower is attached to one of the Chambers at random.

The Xenomorph gets one Blip for each 500 points of the attacking army, plus one Blip for each Breeding Chamber, and one for each Ventilation Tower.

Xenomorph Blips are deployed as described earlier. Any Xenomorph Blips revealed underground as Dummies are in fact Worker Drones, which fight as such.

One objective marker is placed in each Breeding Chamber.

The normal victory conditions for a Hasty Defence apply.

Meeting Engagement:

The Xenomorph gets two Blips for each 500 points of the attacking army.

Xenomorph Blips are deployed as described earlier.

Objective markers are provided as described earlier in the Campaign section, and deployed as shown there. The normal victory conditions for a Meeting Engagement apply.

Special Interest Groups:

For both the campaign and the normal games, it is recommended that the Special Interest Groups from the Campaign rules be used, to provide food or (unwitting) slaves for the Xenomorphs, and a headache for the Humans.

Xenomorphs will regard un-revealed Special Interest Group markers as a potential target for their tactical movement. The D6 in the roll for Special Interest Groups is rolled at -1 for the Xenomorphs and +1 for the Human players, treating results of 0 as 1 and 7 as 6.

If a group is friendly to the Xenomorphs, it will act as a Xenomorph unit using Xenomorph Tactical Movement Rules.

If a Special Interest Group activates another such group, the D6 will be rolled normally, and the "affiliation" of the new group will be determined in the usual manner.

Figure Availability:

For the figures I use Warrior Miniatures packs 1015 and 1016, and Pendraken Miniatures pack SF 13. These are all actually 10mm figures, but look right with 1/300th figures - frighteningly large but not too out of scale. Chickenplucker make a resin hive/plant structure which makes an excellent Ventilation Tower for the Hive.

Ed Note: Into the Laserzone is a highly flexible generic set of 6mm SF rules, which along with its campaign supplelent is produced by A & A Game Engineering. For further details on price and availability, send an SSAE to A & A Game Engineering, 83 Douglas Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 2UD.