Space Station Zero Challenge 13

Battle Report 5

wargame report

I'm playing Space Station Zero wargame with an aim to get through the entire station, and I've decided to post battle reports about each Challenge along the way. These battle report contain minor spoilers, although there are a lot of branches in the campaign so what happens in my campaign is unlikely to also happen exactly the same in your campaign. This is the fifth battle report, covering Challenge 13.

Crew member profile

Before getting into the action, here's this episode's featured crew member. Meet the new warmaster! Oops, that's a spoiler for this battle report. I mean, meet the veteran!

Having served on countless campaigns on their homeworld, the team's veteran soldier is Sergeant General Stoney Hardpunch. He's chewed up almost as many alien invaders as he has cadets. When he got his assignment to accompany Warmaster Arecibo on an escort mission, he was secretly jealous of the warmaster's command. The command should have been his, but he's nothing if not loyal. And anyway, even seemingly routine missions can be dangerous, and he's second in line.



  • Life 3
  • Move 4
  • Combat 4
  • Reaction 3
  • Intelligence 2
  • Armour 4
  • Special weapon: Energy melee weapon that grants +3 Co and ignores armour.
  • Special rule: Every turn, ignore 1 damage

I gave the veteran the teleporter that the engineer crafter in the previous challenge. I figured it made sense to give it to either the veteran or the pilot, because they have very good melee weapons. What better for a melee tank than to be able to move into melee instantly? Because the veteran obviously outranks the pilot, I gave it to the veteran.

Literal death chamber

OK, I get it. This is a proudly difficult game. I'm not sure that the quirky artwork of the book quite conveys just how foreboding Space Station Zero is, but this is an unquestionably hard game. In Challenge 13, your crew faces four Guard drones with 8d12 ranged attacks, 8 armour, and 8 Life. To be clear, that means you have to roll 8+ to hit at all. You have roughly 15% to hit, but your target has 50% chance to save. Worse yett, each enemy has twice the Life points compared to the average crew member.

Those are not great odds.

Round 1

Seeing the odds pretty well stacked against me, I re-read the terrain rules. It turns out there's a table in the rules section for how much terrain to add to the board. For this battlefield, I rolled one 5x5" terrain structure, so I added in some industrial tanks conveniently obsuring my crew from the sight of the Guard Drones.

However, I've also been seeting up the battlefield assuming that zones marked on the maps in the book were buildings. That's not accurate, but I'd been doing it the entire game so far, and decided for some reason that I'd continue for this obviously impossible challenge. So I placed some buildings on the battlefield, and set the Guard Drones on top of them so they could snipe at my crew.

This was a horrible idea, and I knew it even as I started playing. And yet I didn't do anything about it.

I have no-one to blame but myself.

First turn of the game, the veteran teleported up to one of the rooftops and attacked a Guard Drone from behind. Rolling 7d12 for a weapon that ignores armour is pretty great, and indeed the veteran scored lots of hits. Unfortunately, the a Guard Drone eats the first point of damage dealt to it (not every turn, just literally the first point dealt to it) and rolled pretty well, so only 2 damage gets through on this turn.

Two of the other Guard Drones comes down off the building but can't attack this round because the crew is behind industrial tanks. The crew take turns peeking around the corner, taking pot shots, doing almost no damage. The warmaster manages to score a bunch of hits against the south Drone, thanks to a good roll, re-roll, and a special rule I've consistently forgotten about (+1 to the warmaster's highest odd die).

Not a bad opening, but I know it's only a matter of time until the Drones circle around to shoot down the crew where they're hiding. And because I gave the other Drones excellent sniping positions, the crew is kind of immobile.

Round 2

The veteran went first again, dealing yet more damage that was mitigated by a good defence roll. These Drones have 4 Combat, and that's the stat you use for defence, so they're very durable.

The Drones continued toward the crew, but the crew played it safe. The warmaster primarily took the risks, and it paid off. He dealt 2 more damage to the south Drone.

Emboldened by his warmaster, the one remaining soldier on the crew stepped out from cover and took a few shots at the Drone. He dealt 1 damage thanks to a few re-rolls (he gets 3 re-rolls between his soldier special rule and the ship special rule), and amazingly took no damage when the Drone responded in kind.

Round 3

Aside from the south Drone, the Drones have all taken only token amounts of damage. The only headway being made, realistically, was with melee weapons that ignored armour. Morale is pretty low, but there are no morale rolls in this game so the battle continues!

The veteran continued to hit his Guard Drone with his melee weapon, and the Guard Drone amazingly continued to succeed on its defence rolls. By round 3, after three successive attacks, it had only taken 4 points of damage. Then again, it had dealt 0 damage itself.

The warmaster had better luck than the veteran, though. He and the soldier managed to take out the south Drone.

The north Drone moved closer to the crew, and finally got a clear shot at the Medic. It rolled a Critical Success on its attack, and the Medic is out of the game.

Round 4

Enraged by the Medic falling in battle, the veteran rolled a Critical Success on his attack and finally eliminated the Guard Drone. Next turn, he could turn his attention to the Guard Drone on the other rooftop!

The north Drone, having dispatched the Medic, rounded the corner and fired at the crew. The warmaster took a hit, and falls. The warmaster is down, and out of the battle!

The engineer took a shot at the Drone, knocking out its shields (that initial point of damage that a Drone doesn't take).

The soldier stepped further out of cover and took some shots at the Drone on the rooftop, but failed to deal damage.

Round 5

The veteran hurries down the building, staying out of view of the remaining rooftop Drone. Yes, I had forgotten that he literally had a teleporter, and I didn't remember until the next round!

You know what else I forgot? The pilot! I forgot the pilot was on the battlefield at all, either as a player or a target. During this round, I noticed her. After scolding myself for gaming so poorly, I activated her and moved her into melee with the Drone. She has the same electrical melee weapon that the veteran has, so her attacks ignore armour. She scores several hits and deals 3 damage, robbing the Drone of half its Life! Not a bad catch-up play.

The soldier takes damage, and is out. Only the veteran, pilot, and engineer remain on the board.

The engineer took a shot at the drone, but it became clear to me quickly that ranged weapons against these drones is not the correct strategy, at least not with my crew build. I had him retreat from that fight, choosing instead to make a mad dash for the rooftop. Obviously he didn't get very far in just one round, but now the sniper would have two targets to choose between. Anything to keep the veteran alive, at this stage, seemed vital.

Round 6: the actual end

Everything went wrong, this round.

I remembered suddenly that the veteran has a teleporter, and I sent him to go help the pilot against her drone. He deals no damage, and in fact takes damage instead, due to a melee rule I'd forgotten. It turns out that in melee, a defence roll with successes outnumbering the attack successes deals damage back onto the attacker! So the veteran was out.

Then the same thing happened to the pilot. She was out.

And finally, the rooftop Drone shot the engineer, so he was out.

That finished the battle and the war. My entire crew was incapacitated, and I don't see an allowance for restoring them. In fact, quite the opposite, there's a sidebar emphasizing that "death is real". Now, admittedly, the crew isn't dead yet, they're just out. It seems silly to roll for death and injuries, and then start the Challenge over again, so I decided instead that I'd play the round differently.

Frankly, I just don't want to stop the game progress. I think if I stopped and built a new crew and went back to the beginning, it'll be a long time until I come back around to the game (I have lots of other games in the queue). So I figured it would be better to fork my timeline into an alternate reality, and play on. I'm not sure how many times I'll do this. At some point, I assume my crew will dwindle so much that it'll be impossible to continue. But for now, I'm playing past the first Actual End.

So welcome to the alternate timeline in which my crew doesn't die.

Round 6 again

This time, the veteran teleported to the rooftop sniper and deals 3 damage. At this point, it had 1 Life left, which was frustrating but better than a crew death!

The pilot happened to roll really well, and destroyed her Drone.

The engineer takes a shot at the rooftop sniper, but it has cover from his vantage point and so nothing happens.

Round 7

This is a cleanup round. The veteran finished the final Drone, and the crew is alive.

Post game

Rolling on the death and injury table for the downed crew members, the warmaster and medic both died. The soldier lives.

So on my crew I now have the veteran (the new warmaster), the pilot (she took the warmaster's armour, so she now has armour 8 against ranged), engineer, and soldier.

Luckily, they each level up! The level-up reward is to increase either Life or Move by 1. I increased all Life by 1, although I'm not convinced it'll help.

Also, they failed to recover any weaponry from the Drones but the soldier managed to find an energy ranged weapon +3 Combat, which is a +1 improvement over the sidearm he had previously.

This was a brutal challenge. The enemies were, I think, overpowered for my crew. But I get it. Space Station Zero is a punishing game. I can live with that, even if my crew can't.

Next up, Challenge 14.

Photo by Seth Kenlon, Creative Commons cc0.

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