It Came From Below
Written by Spartan Games | Tags: Dystopian Wars
Some of the most frightening, and certainly the most infamous, of The White Army’s new war machines are the fearsome drilling engines it employs to perform shock assaults on heavily defended enemy positions, especially those that are fortified.
The designs for the Vorkuta and its prototypes originated, as with so many of the Russian Coalition’s new engines of war, from the activities of Markov and his compatriots. However, unlike many of his other ‘liberations’ of Covenant technology, the arch-spy leaked the designs of the drilling engines to the Tsar’s secret service some time before his eventual defection.
As a result, when the Coalition moved to attack the Prussian Empire’s eastern borders, and the Ottoman garrisons in the Caucasus Mountains, fleets of the drillers, built in secret at workshops deep in the Urals, were readily available.
Machines like the Vorkuta were in fairly common usage in the Covenant itself. In fact they were – and are presumed to remain – essential in the expansion and development of the Covenant’s holdings on the southernmost continent. Such engines were used to grind and bore many tunnels and caverns deep beneath the ice-encrusted surface of Antarctica, in which Lord Sturgeon and his people established their new domains.
However, the Covenant’s drilling engines were restricted to peaceful purposes, and were essentially items of heavy industrial machinery. Markov’s genius was to militarise the design, turning them into assault machines of unparalleled ferocity and effectiveness.
Such has been the success of the Vorkuta in this role that Sturgeon and his advisors count Markov’s perversion of this otherwise innocuous device to warlike purposes as one of his most serious crimes against science.
Vorkutas are deployed in special Independent Assault Engineer Detachments, attached to the Shock Armies. Like artillery units, they are usually placed under the direct control of the commander of the Armoured Battle Brigade to which they are assigned. Individual units from Tank Regiments are then detached to act as subterranean spearheads during major offensive operations.
The Vorkuta’s purpose is to act as a heavy assault transport for squadrons of Russian armour. Travelling below ground, the driller allows its cargo to bypass surface fortifications. Used in conjunction with conventional assault forces, the drillers burst forth from the ground behind enemy lines, disgorging squadrons of tanks in the foe’s rear areas. The resultant chaos and disruption aids the main Russian forces’ ability to break through even the most stubborn enemy defences.
The drillers are sometimes employed to attack certain components of enemy defences themselves, as it has been found that the shockwaves produced by these giants when they surface is a very effective means of mine clearance.
Vorkutas have seen much use in the fierce battles along the Prussian Empire’s borders. They have proved a hugely valuable asset in the White Army’s continued assaults on the vast defensive networks of the Wolfgang Fortresses.
They are also beginning to see service on the Carpathian Front where, as in their earlier deployments in the Caucasus, they are being used to burrow new passages through otherwise impassable terrain.
The driller’s final military value is psychological. The Vorkuta has garnered such a nightmarish reputation amongst the enemies of the Tsar that not even the ground beneath their feet is to be trusted any longer!
A Word from the Designer
Since the early drafts of the background pieces for the Russian Coalition were circulated, we have been excited by the prospect of drilling transports. Dystopian Wars is full of a huge array of mechanical marvels that travel across the vast ocean; we have huge treaded behemoths that leave trails of devastation across the land and gigantic Skyships that fly above it, but so far there has been nothing that travels below the earth.
Classic pulp and retro science-fiction have portrayed drilling and boring vessels in so many different ways that they have carved a tunnel into the genre like nothing else, and so it was only fitting we try and do them justice here.
In actuality, the majority of the model was fairly simple to put together: drills are, after all, repeating radial patterns, and the level of detail required for the outer hull on a vessel that travels underground is more utilitarian. This is because any more extravagant features would be crushed and torn by moving rocks and earth.
It was difficult to decide the best type of drill to use for the Vorkuta Class Land Driller. Do we go with the classic conical drill, the flatter borer, or, my personal favourite, the tri-cone drill? The end result was a hybrid of all three – a conical shape and, nestled within, a separate tri-cone. You could say this is massively overcomplicated, but then that’s a good thing when it comes to Dystopian Wars. Being a transport vessel, the layout of the tri-cone is meant to break open into three separate sections, folding back to reveal the containing tank squadrons.
The White Army’s Vorkuta Class Land Drillers were long scorned by sceptical Commanders from other nations as a preposterous notion. However, the sight of these gargantuan war engines bursting from the earth amidst their battle line silenced any such doubts.
The tactical advantage presented by these machines is evident: they are able to move across the battlefield in relative safety, to emerge behind the enemy’s formations and detonate any defensive mines in the process.
Here the embarked Squadrons of Kamchatka or Tikhvin are disgorged to strike at weak points in the foe’s defences. Meanwhile, the Vorkuta continues to protect its charges from incoming fire with a Rocket Jammer Generator, and can even pick off enemy crew with specialist riflemen.
Choice targets for the Vorkuta and its cargo include isolated Bombard Squadrons hiding behind the enemy’s rear lines, strategic objectives or defensive emplacements to be seized or removed and even the ill-armed rear arcs of Land Ships and Mobile Airfields, whose lack of manoeuvrability makes them very vulnerable to such assaults.