Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Rebelstar Raiders: The Final Assault


This is it - The Final Assault. The Starlingale is lost, and two of Joe Capricorn's clones are dead, but the mission must continue. Main-Comp's planetary shields are deactivated, and JC#4 leads a platoon of raiders into the MCU's core. And this time, they have space RPGs.


Scribe leads Main-Comp's last stand on his respective blog.

Deployment phase


I'm up against mostly familiar enemies:

  • My target: eight immobile, defenseless computer cores
  • Seven sentry bots with laser guns
  • Six service bots with crushing pincers
  • Six Flybots with zeekers
  • 15 laser riflemen

The speedy Flybots concern me the most here. Sentry bots are quite slow, unable to do much as long as I don't leave my men exposed to them. The service bots are marginally faster, but melee-only and certainly not fast. Laser riflemen are perhaps more dangerous to my meatbags than my own riflemen are to Main-Comp's robots, but their range isn't great against any target.


I deploy my attack troops in the magenta regions in the four corners of the map:

  • Joe Capricorn and Captain Krenon return from the dead again
  • Six laser gunmen
  • Six Starbolters
  • 15 laser riflemen

The Starbolters are for sure going to be the stars of the show here. Like grenadiers on steroids, they have insane range, punch right through walls, fire a maximum of 3-4 rounds per turn, and pack 12 rounds each. Accuracy isn't the best, but you know what they say about grenades and horseshoes. But boy, when things go wrong...


I seriously outgun Main-Comp, and intend to maximize this advantage. My first turn must inflict as much damage as possible.

My fireteams:

  • Fireteam Whiskey - three lasgunners and six riflemen deployed in the northwest corner, led by Capricorn.
  • Fireteam Nile Echo - three lasgunners and three riflemen deployed in the northeast corner, led by Captain Krenon.
  • Starbolt Team Alpha - Three Starbolters in the room just below Nile Echo
  • Fireteam Sierra Echo - Three Starbolters and two riflemen deployed in the southeast corner.
  • Four leftover riflemen deployed in the southwest corner because I couldn't fit them anywhere else.


As before, I have a reconstructed video of the match. It's a long one!


Turn 1

Sierra Echo demonstrates the awesome power of the Starbolt with six shots fired, killing two nearby riflemen and exposing a third one.

The riflemen move to the front to shield the Starbolters, and take out the enemy rifleman as a target of opportunity.

Starbolters Alpha fire seven shots, killing a rifleman and two robots behind cover.

Krenon, taking point for Nile Echo, rushes for the wall, and the riflemen move to shield the starbolters.

Finally, Fireteam Whiskey begin funneling themselves through a nearby opening, while the other riflemen file north to join them.

Main-Comp makes its move - flies swarm in on Sierra Echo's position, robots clank to tactical positions, and riflemen advance tepidly, taking shots at me here and there, killing one Starbolter.

Turn 2

Sierra Echo's riflemen take out the enemy in the room and prepare to shield the surviving Starbolters from the incoming swarm.

Nile Echo's riflemen corner and kill an isolated rifleman, and an Alpha Starbolter blows up another hiding near the eastmost computer core.

Another Starbolter fires off two shots at the service droid shielding a sentry. One lands, but doesn't kill. The other misses and blows up a barrier.

The third Starbolter moves into position and has enough time to fire two more shots. Both miss the intended target, but wind up hitting a different service droid and the nearby rifleman, killing the latter.

Captain Krenon bravely, but uselessly, jumps in front of them and fires off his gat.

Finally, I advance fireteam Whiskey, executing the westmost rifleman by firing squad.

This leaves Nile Echo somewhat exposed, but at a range where most of Main-Comp's return fire misses or does poor damage. Krenon bites it, and riflemen in Sierra Echo and Whiskey take minor injuries.

Turn 3

Sierra Echo kills a fly with a sledgehammer, firing a volley of Starbolts which take out several chunks of their quadrant but only kills one target.

Nile Echo riflemen move toward and shoot at another Flybot, and miss.

Jaded Jon, leading the Starbolters, cleans up, knocking out the service bot that menaces the group and one Flybot.

The others kill another two.

And the laser gunmen move south to shield them, taking out another service bot (though aiming for the more opportune rifleman).

Finally, Whiskey shuffles toward core central, expendable riflemen first, taking non-lethal shots at the western core and one guard.


Main-Comp returns fire on Nile Echo, this time killing two Starbolters and a rifleman. The rest of the forces reposition, mainly toward Nile Echo, or retreating to the nearest computer core.

Note that service bots block core central's south and east exits, where Whiskey threatens

Turn 4

Sierra Echo, not yet lacking for manpower or ordinance, continues its barrage to rather ineffective results, though this inadvertently takes out one of the computer cores.


Nile Echo, down several men and flanked on two sides, shoots back desperately, killing two riflemen with the laser gunmen. "Scorpio," the last surviving Starbolter, kills two sentry bots with their last Starbolter. Not bad, but not good enough to save them.

I end my turn by destroying the eastern core with the nearby riflemen, then split up fireteam Whiskey, sending the riflemen toward the central core and the laser gunmen northward, with Capricorn right behind them.

As I feared, concentrated fire in the north kills Scorpio and the lasgunner in front of him. Flybots fire on the riflemen, killing one, and precision shots in the south kill Sierra Echo's riflemen, leaving the Starbolters exposed.

Turn 5

Sierra Echo, down to their last nine rounds and lacking cover, desperately, and recklessly fire back, destroying a sentry bot. And their own cover.

Knowing very well they're screwed, they fire off one last shot each, blowing up a service bot and a few decorative pixels.

They were both aiming for the rifleman!

Up north, Nile Echo's remnants inefficiently kill a lone rifleman, and completely miss the east computer core at point blank range.

Whiskey splits up further and continues a three-pronged advance on the core central.


Predictably, Main-Comp eliminates my exposed men, only sparing one Starbolter who is out of ammo.

Turn 6

I'm out of Starbolts. Echo teams are all but destroyed. Whiskey is split up into three subgroups, which I now designate:

  • Nile Whiskey - Capricorn and three laser gunmen, attacking from the north
  • Charlie Whiskey - Four laser riflemen, attacking central from the west
  • Sierra Whiskey - Three laser riflemen, attacking central from the south.


The last Starbolter, Grinny Scab, is out of ammo and makes a suicidal charge. The last lasgunner in Nile Echo, Darwin Jones, takes out the east computer core with a snapshot, well protected from the sentries west, but with no protection from the incoming Flybot.

Whiskey makes more suicide charges. Two laser gunmen from Nile Whiskey suicide charge the service bot blocking the way. All of Charlie Whiskey suicide charges the central core entrance, still blocked by a service bot, but it can only kill two of them. And one rifleman from Sierra Whiskey, Mr. Creepie, suicide charges the south entrance while the others take cover.

In retaliation up north, concentrated fire takes out one of Nile Whiskey's suicide chargers, but not both as I feared. The service droid flanked by Charlie Whiskey pulverizes one and wisely retreats back into its alcove. Mr. Creepie is shot dead from left and right. And a Flybot pumps Darwin Jones full of bullets, but doesn't quite kill him.

Turn 7

This round was a welcome turn of fortune!

Grinny Scab continues his repentant suicide charge, daring the southern guard to shoot him down.

Darwin Jones, wounded and barely able to hold his own lasgun, shoots down the Flybot with a slightly off-center blast.

In Nile Whiskey, Paxa Quexatl, who survived the suicide charge, ducks into an alcove to the south and kills the rifleman standing there. Behind him, Capricorn and Anna Pumul spray and pray from cover, mostly hitting the corridor but also taking out a sentry bot.

Charlie Whiskey, down to three riflemen, crowd and finally take out the service bot. This involves a trick shot - deliberately misaiming so that the laser angles past the wall that would block a direct shot and hits the wide bot off-center, but it works. The path to core central is open, but they stare down the face of a loaded sentry bot next turn.

Sierra Whiskey snipes at the last Flybot from cover, killing it with two precision shots.

The sentry bot in the core shoots, killing one of Charlie Whiskey, and Grinny Scap is shot at twice, but not killed yet. The other guard retreats north into the core.


Turn 8

Ginny Scab keeps moving forward and parks his meat right north of a guard in an attempt to block him from approaching Sierra Whiskey, or at least to slow him down.

Darwin Jones sucks his wounds and crawls on his belly through the north corridor, eager to support  Capricorn in the ongoing attack.

Paxa Quexatl moves south from one cover to another, taking a single shot at the northern core in transit. Capricorn follows, while Anna Pumul stays in cover.

Charlie Whiskey's surviving pair of riflemen shoot at the sentry bot through the doorway, destroying it.

Sierra Whiskey head through the southern room toward the south core entrance, taking a tricky shot at the guard there, but miss.

The guard backs into the core to join the other, and shoot Charlie Whiskey is shot at through the doorway - one man is nearly killed, but not quite. The sentry also shoots at Paxa with a trick angle, also injuring him.


Turn 9

Darwin Jones exits the corridor, the north core in sight.

Paxa pops out of cover to shoot at the sentry, and backs up to make room for Capricorn to jump in front and administer a coup de grace. But with just enough time for one last shot, Paxa lands a miracle hit at 7% odds, doing it himself!

Capricorn instead moves south to cover, destroying the north core along the way, and Anna follows.

Sierra Whiskey, clear on the east, move to the core corridor to snipe at a retreating guard, and Charlie Whisky snipes the other through the doorway.

It's almost over.

Main-Comp is literally down to their last man, who shoots and kills Paxa.

Turn 10

Darwin Jones kills the last operative as Capricorn and two riflemen finally enter core central.

Turn 11

As with Starlingale, we tried this one again in reversed roles. Scribe led Rebelstar to victory yet again, but it was a lot closer - it took him 13 turns, by which time he was down to two men. We can credit this difference in performance in part to having better understanding on how to use Flybots, partly on our mutually improved understanding of trick shots, which tend to benefit the defender more than the attacker, but also to the fact that on Scribe's first turn, one of his Starbolters tried to rocket jump and blew his own feet off.


GAB rating: Good. 

This was surprisingly enjoyable. I wasn't expecting much more than a dry run for X-COM - we're at least three iterations removed from Gollop's MS-DOS masterpiece - but Rebelstar Raiders is, and without having a whole lot of earlier precedent to draw upon, a surprisingly solid tactical strategy game. It's primitive, sure, and not very pretty, but there's more than enough tactical depth for interesting situations to unfold. Rules are very clearly explained in the manual - the only part that isn't immediately intuitive is the relation between weapon range and damage, and the interface is simple and easy to master - much more so than X-COM, in fact.

Of course, there are two elephants that I can't completely ignore. First, there's the absence of a computer opponent. If you don't have friends who are willing to give this a chance, you can't play. At least, as mentioned, the game is more accessible than many of its contemporaries. But second, Rebelstar Raiders is imbalanced. All three missions are lopsided in the attacker's advantage, granting that player better units and first strike ability. In all missions, the attacker can deploy their superior troops in concentration on the defense's weak points and begin killing immediately. I find I can forgive these faults, but not overlook them.

One last anecdote on Rebelstar Raiders before I close out this chapter.


Last week, to close out our symmetrical match set, Scribe and I played out a rematch of Moonbase, with one house rule intended to even the odds a bit - as Rebelstar, Scribe deployed his troops without knowledge of my own positions.

Even with this handicap, and with multiple grenade-related accidents to boot, Scribe quickly overran my guardsmen, blew open a passage in the northeast corner, and moved a runner past the sentry bots, completing the mission by turn 6.

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