Jump Buggies and Sinkholes... Introducing New Units to Olympica

by Walter O'Hara

copyright 1998, Walter O'Hara

Exploring new unit possibilities for existing games can be a lot of fun, but it also can destabilize the balance created by the original designer.  So with some trepidation, I present Jump Buggies and Sinkholes, investigating some (possible) new units for the Olympica game.


Jump Buggies and Sinkholes is a variant for the Metagaming title Olympica (copyright, Metagaming, Inc. 1978).  This variant is not officially sanctioned by Metagaming or its inheritors and is presented for the amusement of players only.   Jump Buggies and Sinkholes explores the tactical situation of adding new units to the Olympica countermix, without radically unbalancing the original tactical situation. 

Table of Contents:

New Units

New Units

olynewctrs.gif (4502 bytes)

Figure 1: Proposed New Units for Olympica

(Right Click on Graphic, download to PC, and print, preferably on a color printer, then glue to cardboard backs)

Jump Buggies: A new Web Unit.

Jump Buggies are utility vehicles that are designed to ply the Martian surface.   The Web of Convergence faction captured many of these handy little vehicles and converted them for military use, arming them with souped-up mining lasers.  You will notice that the Jump Buggy has three statistics: 15-4-2.  The 15 is the Buggy's combat strength.  The 4 is its initial movement.  The 2 is its final movement.   Like Light Infantry, the Jump Buggy gets a separate movement phase. 

Notes on movement and combat for Jump Buggies

  1. The Jump Buggy can enter an incline hex at the cost of 1 movement point, in either initial or final movement.   
  2. Jump Buggies can enter cliff hexsides, but can't stop there without rolling for avalanche like the UN units do.  If a Jump Buggy moves up to a cliff hexside in its 3rd movement segment, then over the cliffside, it is considered airborne for the last movement segment (hence the name of the vehicle).
  3. Airborne Jump Buggies can land on enemy or friendly units.  If the units are friendly, they take an automatic 2-1 attack on the CRT.  If the units are enemy, they take the 2-1 attack AND are considered in Close Assault, which needs to be resolved directly thereafter. 

Sinkholes: A new Web Unit.

Webbies are considered to be masters of mining and have control over extensive tunnel complexes throughout Mars.  The Webbies have prepared some traps for the UN Invasion force in the form of Sinkholes.  Sinkholes are large areas tunneled out under the surface, with a large radio-activated explosive charge underneath the surface set to blow the crust whenever an unwitting UN victim treads on top of it. 

Placing Sinkholes

Sinkholes are placed either during the tunnel placement phase OR as part of the initial placement of Web units (facedown to avoid detection).  They CAN be placed directly under (over?) UN units. 

Activating Sinkholes

Sinkholes are activated by either placing them on top of a UN unit during the Tunnel Placement phase or by a UN unit moving on top of a prepositioned sinkhole and attempting a close assault on a hidden unit.

Sinkholes in combat

A UN unit that activates a Sinkhole, either by moving on top of it or having it played on them, receives an immediate 3-1 attack.  If the unit survives the attack, it is considered to be in a Tunnel Mouth thereafter (place a tunnel mouth counter on top of the unit).  Lifters and the BOAR are given an escape roll to avoid annihilation (1-2 on a 1d6) when the tunnel collapses.  If Lifters or the BOAR escape the collapse, they are considered on TOP of the tunnel mouth.  If not, the collapsing tunnel has crushed them.

Orbital Salvos: A New UN unit

Olympica is based on the premise that the U.N. makes a drop to attack the web stronghold.  A drop from what?  This unit presumes that the UN has a large military platform orbiting Mars that can muster up the occassional salvo of a special missile equipped with depleted uranium rods that can affect a wide area.

The UN player should budget a certain finite amount of Salvos to bring into play, and not play more than one per turn.

Calling for a Salvo

Each turn, the UN player can attempt to contact the orbital platform to request a Salvo.  This attempt is communicated to the Web player, who is assumed to be listening into UN communications.  The U.N. Player then rolls for contact on Table 1 to establish contact.

Roll Result
1-2 Webbie Jamming intense, no contact possible this turn
3-4 Webbie Jamming moderate, but message got garbled. Orbital Salvo will happen next turn
5-6 Bingo!  Orbital Salvo goes off this turn.  Place spotting round.

Table 1: Salvo Comms Table

If the result is 3-6, place the Orbital Salvo marker on the map as your targetting point/spotting round.    Then roll for scatter and effects.

Orbital Salvo Scatter and Effects

Roll 2d6, distinguishing between the die rolls with different color dice.  One color is Over, the Other Under.  Observe the angle between the dice from over to under.  This is the direction of the scatter.  Subtract Under from Over.   If the the result is a positive number, the Salvo is considered LONG in the angle indicated between the dice, by the number of hexes that resulted from the subtraction of Under from Over.  If the the result is a negative number, the Salvo is considered SHORT in the angle indicated between the dice, by the number of hexes that resulted from the subtraction of the dice.  Place the Orbital Salvo marker on the adjusted position to indicate the new impact point.

For PBeM fans, you can try rolling 2d6 on  this table and repositioning the Salvo marker:

Roll Result
2-4 On Target
5 Long, and to the left by 1d6 hexes
6 Long, and to the right by 1d6 hexes
7 Long, centered on target, by 1d6 hexes
8 Left, by 1d6 hexes
9 Right, by 1d6 hexes
10 Short, Left, by 1d6 hexes
11 Short, Right, by 1d6 hexes
12 Short Center by 1d6 hexes

Table 2: PBeM scatter table

Effects of Salvos

The Salvo can be devastating when it hits.  Any units that are under the Salvo marker (UN or Web) suffer an immediate 3-1 attack.  Units in the surrounding six hexes suffer an immediate 2-1 attack. 

Units in deep tunnels or tunnel mouths, or Laser Turrets are unaffected by Salvos.  

Turn Sequence Changes

The Turn Sequence for these units must be adjusted accordingly.

Phase Description
I. Web Player Turn
A. Compulsion Phase Compel 1 UN unit to move up to three hexes
B. Tunnel Phase Place available tunnels as desired, Play Sinkholes on UN units.
C. Reinforcement Phase Enter up to 4 previously eliminated Web Inf. units
D. Movement Phase Move Units, Resolve Close Assaults
E. Ranged Combat Phase Resolve Ranged Attacks
F. DUST Removal Phase Remove DUST counters from Web Counters,
G. Second Movement Phase (Jump Buggies) Move Jump Buggies another movement phase and resolve any additional Close Assaults.
II. UN Player Turn
Drop Phase/Comms Phase Make Drops with available units.  Attempt to Request Orbital Salvo.  If succesful, place marker.
Movement Phase Move Units, resolve Close Assaults (If Close Assaulting a hidden unit that is a Sinkhole, conduct the "Sinkhole Attack")
Ranged Combat Phase Resolve Ranged Attacks.  Resolve Orbital Salvo.
DUST Removal Phase Remove DUST counters
Second Movement Phase Move Light Infantry another movement and resolve Close Assaults
III. Advance the Turn Marker.

Table 3: Advanced Play Sequence


You can't get something for nothing.  New units are great, but if they come at the cost of game balance this is an empty exercise.  Therefore, I propose the following tradeoff chart to bring some balance into the unit structure of either side.  The Cost is the amount of units each side "pays" to bring the new unit into play.  

New Unit Cost
Jump Buggy 2 Web Light Infantry units per Jump Buggy OR 2 Jump Buggies per 1 Laser Tower
Sinkhole 2 Tunnel Mouths or Deep Tunnels
Orbital Salvo 1 Laser Tank per 2 Salvos, OR 1 Lifter, OR 3 Heavy Infantry per Salvo, OR 4 Light Infantry per Salvo

Table 4: New Unit Tradeoffs


I hope that these new units add a new (and hopefully fun) dimension to your play.   Please let me know your experiences with the new units.

NOTE BENE: (Important) Users may may freely use and download this variant, and these counters, for their own purposes. This variant (and the art contained therein) is provided free of charge. It may not be resold or republished in any fashion, and must retain the original copyright attribution listed below.

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Copyright Walt O'Hara 1998