It was a tense start to the game; this show down had been boiling up for a week - both players were eager to prove their superiority over one another; and this lust for victory effected their games.
One could feel the nervous vibes on the game setup screen; both players were reluctant to play on my choice of map (South Pacific), and reluctantly agreed - as you can tell from clicking on the game setup thumbnail, f1reburn chose to play as America, whilst Cabal went for the Soviets in the form of Iraq. Random start points were selected, good luck comments whispered, mouse balls cleaned and index fingers flexed before the game was started.
After a few seconds of lag, the game warmed itself up and got off to a hectic start; both players following the same build orders for the fist few minutes - f1reburn built 4 dogs, whilst Cabal built 3 - there was no doubt that F1reburn was the victor of 'The Early Dog War'; his brown-coated alsations made short work of Cabals snowy-backed killers. f1reburn was able to scout out a large portion of the map, whilst, by comparison, cabal only managed to scout up to the pinch-point: the pressure was now on cabal.
As any good player will know, the victor on South Pacific is often the one who secures the middle of the map quickest; well this game saw Cabal taking control of the middle with a paradrop and rhino tank combination. f1reburn had fallen behind the pace slightly; after a failed engineer/IFV rush on one of Cabal's oil derricks. Cabal had roughly 1000 more credits than f1reburn at this stage; and was starting to look dominant.
However, everyone knows that games of Ra2 can be changed in an instance - within the space of a few minutes, f1reburn took the scalp of Cabal's northern oil derrick with a well placed paradrop - his skillful use of his GI's, combined with two rocketeers that had been pestering Cabal for most of the game, saw for one pillbox and then the derrick itself. After sacrificing his paratroops to destroy Cabal's derrick, f1reburn quickly sent his rocketeers to the pinch point of the map - using them to pick off one of Cabal's rhino tanks.. he combined this small attack with the harriers that he had been building; the rocketeers were withdrawn from the melee just as Cabal's air-cover, in the form of a lone flak trak, arrived.
After this small attack, the game went into a lull; both players were busy building up their forces, and making sure they watched their opponents moves closely. Both players attempted some para-drops, none worked particularly well - all were quashed within moments. At this point, I became aware of the fact that neither f1reburn or Cabal had 'gone naval'; I thought this to be an extremely poor decision considering the importance of naval dominance on South Pacific - their Saturday morning lie-in obviously had not worn off. After several more minutes of, for lack of a better phrase, boredom, the excitement finally started.
As all Iraq players know, the desolator is the nemesis of the mirage tank - the only unit truly capable of destroying them en masse. Cabal obviously knew this. He had spent several thousand credits on purchasing four desolators and one shiny, new flak trak; seeing the sight of f1reburns advancing mirage and infantry army, the opportunity to let some juice flow would never be better. He skillfully manoeuvred his desolator-laden flak trak through f1reburn's GI army; he then unloaded his desolators - one could sense the panic in f1reburn's quarter; this was a match defining moment - if the desolators managed to deploy, then it would be game over - his beautiful GI army would be nothing more than melted, green goo - and as for his mirage tanks - they would pop into thin air. Cabal was too slow. Three desolators were picked off by GI's and Mirage tanks, and the fourth one, just as it was in the process of deploying, was killed: f1reburn had come up trumps with about half a second to spare. Now it was payback time!
One could sense the feeling of impending doom that hung around Cabal's forces; surely his motley conscripts and rhino tanks would be no match for their superior counterparts, the GI and the Mirage Tank. As battle commenced, it became increasingly obvious as to who would be the victor: f1reburn's mirage tanks made short work of Cabal's clumsy conscripts, and then they started work on the rhinos. It was a rhino-fest. Cabal's tanks were simply no match for f1reburn's 'Tree Army'. The battle was over. Now it was a matter of time before f1reburn laid waste to Cabal's remaining forces.
f1reburn cockily proceeded to lead his mirage army up the cliff toward's Cabal's soon-to-be-made-redundant base; he knew the game was over - he knew that Cabal was just biding his time. Cabal had little forces left; a few rhino tanks here and there, combined with a lone desolator, were all that sat between him and defeat. And they did not sit there very long. f1reburn, past caring whether half of his units were destroyed or not, took his mirage tanks into the centre of the base: Cabal's one desolator did for a few of them after being successfully deployed.
But the desolator was not f1reburn's only problem; his lust for destruction cost him the remainder of his tank force as he carelessly blew up the Nuclear Power Plant with his mirages in range of the radiation - now he had three or four grizzlies left. Whilst this had been going on.. Cabal had been plotting one last ditch attempt for victory...
Unknown to f1reburn, Cabal had constructed two naval yards and had pumped out two dreads and one sea scorpion: this was obviously the reason for him selling his MCV. Upon seeing Cabal's dreaded dreadnoughts winging their way around the edge of the map, f1reburn sent his two rocketeers, yes, the same rocketeers that he had used at the start of the game, in an attempt to damage one of the dreadnoughts. After knocking off a small amount of health, Cabal's sea scorpion brought them crashing down into the sea; it was the end of an era - f1reburn's beloved pair of rocketeers were no more; he was hungry for vengeance. And vengeance he did take - his SEAL's sent Cabal's dreadnoughts sinking to the murky depths of the Pacific Ocean before they had a chance to cause any serious damage to his base.
Only one thing stood between F1reburn and victory now; and that was one naval yard: capable of building nothing but Subs. f1reburn moved in his remaining mirage tanks, and a group of Guardian GI's. After roughly forty seconds of firing, the naval yard was destroyed. The game was over. Everyone sunk backwards into their chairs, Cabal in despair, f1reburn in joy and myself at the dreaded thought of having to write all of this battle report.