My son had asked to play "Stark With Battles" and I'd told him we'd be sure to do it before Christmas. Christmas eve rolled around and I still hadn't gotten around to it, so I took him to the store that afternoon while his sister was taking a nap. (She was very distressed that we were leaving her.) The store was completely deserted except for a couple that wandered in at one point to pick up some Magic cards for a close relative. The store owner knew the gamer they were purchasing for, and helped ensure that they didn't get the same gift that the mom was buying for them. The family that runs the store where we went were sprawled out on several gaming tables, eating lunch and watching some sort of cartoon movie to pass the time until closing time.
Feds Eat Lizards for Lunch
This game, I took a Gorn Command Cruiser and three Gorn destroyers. The destoyers have their refits under FedCom/Starmada, so they have a respectable spread of weapons-- and the front-hemisphere "GHI" arcs (FH for SFB players) on the G-torp are pretty useful when compared to the usual left-side/right-side split that you see on Gorn ships. I wanted to use a Gorn Heavy Cruiser, but something seems to have happened to that ship in the transition to the new game system. (Is it a Medium Cruiser now??) The CC bristles with phasers and has the newer overlapping "GIK-GJL" arcs that make it much easier to concentrate S-torps on single enemy ship. While the CC has very solid shields (3 on the front facings and 2 on each of the rear facings), the DD's are veritable flying-eggshells. The DD's can only take 5 hull hits, but they are stuck with miserable and practically useless 1-point shield ratings for most of their shield-values.
For my son, I chose the much more effective Federation DW squadron. They have much better shields, an extra phaser-1, and the same number of heavy weapons as the Gorn DD. For the command ship, I chose a Bismark class battlecruiser. This is a monster ship... with awesome 4-point shields on the forward facing. It mounts a pair of plasma torps in addition to four photons... and if you are in either the A or B arcs, you will get smashed by eight phasers. This fleet has five drone racks altogether to supplement an already over-done combat ability.
I punched counters for the Fed fleet from SFB module R2. The Gorn counters came from the SFB basic set.
We put our fleets on the board and jumped into the game. My son would use the standard novice SFB tactic of flying straight toward the enemy. I don't think he made any port or starboard turns at all in the game.
Turn 1... we moved towards each other to just outside maximum photon range. My Gorn ships unloaded a truly frightening conglomeration of plasma. The Bismark fired a much more piddly plasma assault. My son was incredibly jealous of the Gorns at this point. In retrospect, I should have reminded him that he had the drone racks, but the idea of plasma torpedoes is mind bogglingly cool to him.
Turn 2... the Bismark took two minor hits on its front from my phasers that were out of arc on the DW sqaudron. As we'd both opted to close in, I was without any real plasma firepower this turn-- big mistake! Fed DW-2 took 6 hits to its FS facing and DW-1 took 5 hits. My Gorn CC took 8 hits, DD-2 took 10 hits, and DD-3 was blown away with 15 hits. The plasma torps fired the previous turn closed in to their targets.
Turn 3... our fleets flew past each other! One of my DD's ended up in the exact same hex as the Bismark, so we had to roll to see who got to stay there. (The Bismark stayed.) The Bismark took 9 hits, Fed DW-1 was destroyed with 10 hits from turn-1's plasma salvo, and DW-2 took 4 hits. Gorn DD-1 took 3 hits, DD-2 was finished off by the "piddly" plasma-F salvo from turn 1, and the CC was blown away with 9 hits. I conceded as I only had one damages DD left at this point.
Tactics were much more obvious after this game was done:
1) The Gorn wants to stay outside of range 5 at all costs. Plasma fired outside of range 15 should force any sane Fed player to turn away and/or slow down so that the plasma can be run out-- otherwise he will lose a ship when it hits. The Gorn will want to pay attention to what torps remain unfired and make sure to turn them towards the Fed on the follow-up turn while keeping the range as high as possible.
2) The Fed wants to close range, so he'll want to keep his seeking weapons back until they have a good chance of striking on the turn immediately following their launch. If he can't make it to range 5, he'll at least want to get inside of range 10 so that his double-range penalties don't hurt his chances of hitting.
3) If the Gorn expects the Fed to actually achieve point-blank range, he'll want to switch all plasma-F's to Carronade mode. If he lucks out and achieves range 6, he'll have a huge advantage. He should definitely do this if he's lost a plasma-F on one side of his ship or if he doesn't expect to be able to "zig-zag" well enough to alternate fire of the plasma-F's.
On the whole... it looks like a Fed-Gorn game is going to be much more interesting and bloody than a Gorn-Romulan game. The differences between the Feds and Gorns should create a rich and chaotic interplay of tactical pushes and pulls. The cloaking device makes for a slower tempo that gives the Romulans a lot more control over the engagement-- it just isn't going to be as much of an outright brawl whatever the game is. (Of course... if you're thinking of spicing up the game with scenario rules and/or additional options from Starmada... keeping these dynamics in mind should provide some inspiration....)
The game does not appear to slow down appreciably even as you add ships to each side-- the additional firepower on the board makes each pass that much more decisive.
I have only played Starmada AE, not romul Armada, but i've played SFB.
How are the plasma torps handled in RA ? Like strikers or normal direct fire weapons ?
Nice session report !
The plasma in Romulan Armada has two fire mode options. You declare the mode when you plan your movement orders.
If fired as a seeker, it is a striker whose elements hit on 4+, 5+, or 6+ depending on when it impacts. (Phasers can damage the plasma, as expected.)
If fired as a "direct fire" bolt, it is a typical Starmada weapon that (depending on the plasma type) will have good Impact and Damage values. Plasma bolts are more effective in Romulan Armada than they were in Star Fleet Battles-- they are accurate and can cause as much damage (or more) than plasma torps.
Gorns have an additional firing option-- the carronade mode. These are more accurate, shorter ranged, and can fire every turn.