Friday, August 25, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Satellite Down

Image taken from, IP is GDW/FFE

Satellite Down is billed as a "thinking man's adventure" for Twilight: 2000. I was, at first, a little hard pressed to figure out how. But a little thought led to some good points. (I really would love to hear from Blane Pardoe on this). Yes, the cult (based around the survivng crew of the USS Virginia, a CGN that got into a nasty but unlikely naval battle with several Soviet destroyers, but was badly damaged itself) that holds the McGuffin in this adventure (a downed Soviet weather satellite with 4 years of weather data, useful if you're looking down the barrel of a nuclear war induced drought) is somewhat numerous, but there are fault lines in this little slice of Jim Jones that are going to fall apart under the strain of being hit hard enough by a raid to recover the satellite. The main issue would be, figuring out where the cult, and their insane leader (who apparently is drugged out of his mind most of the time) has the satellite stashed.

The DIA contact is good, as well as the rebellious sailors who have had enough of this little slice of "Haven", as it gives the players some nice contacts on the inside. The main issue? Once the players get the data, it's getting out that might present the most trouble. Baja California is a long way from home, in the midst of a civil war.

Oh, and there is the small matter of the Soviets wanting the data for themselves. (I would treat them as KGB Oznaz, real ruthless killer types). They might launch their own raid on the fly if they see the characters making a grab for the satellite. But, honestly, none of these are insurmountable issues, just tricky ones.

But how does this do as miniature wargame fodder?

Skirmish Gaming

For skirmish gaming, there are a few ideas, other than gaming out some of the usual encounters, some of the ones that come to mind are interesting ones:

  • A covert reconnaissance of Haven, perhaps grab a prisoner? Perhaps extract the DIA contact? This would make excellent Black Ops fodder and could make a good two scenario campaign where the second game would be the raid on the satellite.
  • A raid to kidnap the titular head of the community and interrogate him for the location of the satellite, as well as gain his (presumably unwilling) cooperation in the recovery of the satellite. Keep in mind, his self-proclaimed #2 is waiting in the wings for an opportunity like this...and the Soviets might take advantage of the confusion. This scenario also works well for Black Ops.
  • A variant of the above idea? Kill Brupp and let things fall apart, then grab the satellite in the confusion. Riskier, but a doable game if a small, well motivated raiding force gets in and gets out quick. A very good scenario for Black Ops as well, the down side? Both the grab for the satellite and the hit on Brupp are going to have to happen simultaneously, For a small raiding team, this is going to be a rough scenario.

Larger Scenarios

Larger scenarios are tougher to game out in the backdrop of this adventure, but it can be done. My best bet would be to game out the mini-civil war that is sure to break out when Brupp dies (and considering his level of drug use, as intimated by the adventure, that's going to be pretty soon). You can bring in all the factions, give them various objectives (Grab the remains of the Virginia, kill X# of the enemy, grab the satellite, etc.) and then let them have at it. This still isn't going to be a huge game by anyone's standards, but it would make a good game for Force On Force, if done right.

Well, that's it for Satellite Down, Next up is White Eagle, then I plan on finishing up the remaining V1 adventures, then I will review the products we have seen released recently. I am excited about this as I am darn happy you all have been hanging in there. We'll be doing more miniature-related posts as well, though the workbench article from yesterday isn't getting the response I thought it would get....


  1. So what is so valuable about a downed weather satellite? Maybe there is some back story I didn't get or some other aspect of the universe I don't know about.

  2. The satellite has four years of weather data from the nuclear exchange on. A good meteorologist (of which MilGov probably has a few) can use the data to determine how bad things may get, and see which areas may suffer less, or are unaffected.

    Nice work, Jason! Well done as usual.

  3. well you didnt talk about the biggest issue with the module - that the author knew nothing about naval combat - and somehow had six Soviet destroyers cross the entire Pacific when their fuel reserves were just about gone - and what was the Virginia doing patrolling that far into Mexican waters given the state of the other ships in the task force? And having the USN literally have no ships still active on the Pacific Coast - none - whereas the Soviets apparently can still operate off the Mexican coast?

  4. Boy - this is a blast from the past. Who would have thought that we'd be talking about a module I wrote all those years ago. I don't appreciate David Adams' comments - but this is a game and you don't have to fill in the details like tanker ships, patrol patterns, etc. And for the record I do know something about submarine patrol patterns. All of which is moot - there's no point in arguing about a dead game and obsolete module. Apparently Loren at GDW felt it was accurate, otherwise he would have had me change it. When you write in a shared universe, you play by their rules and I remember a lot of them around this game system. (Somewhere around here I have my notes from GDW - the "Bible" for the game.)

    Then again, this was written decades ago. I never envisioned it much as a miniatures session. I may have to dust it off and re-read this puppy.


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