Captain's Log #48 had another interestingly inventive scenario in it, based on the main fiction piece of the issue. About a week after the episode "Trouble With Tribbles" the Klingon ship involved is still having trouble. The non-Klingon crew is all down with... probably the common cold, but they've never encountered it before. And there's a fresh outbreak of tribbles for the Klingons to deal with, while the ship is ordered to a border system to 'show the flag' while a Federation frigate is patrolling the area.
The story is actually pretty good, and winds up with what should be the normal one-pass showdown between two ships counting coup, but by now the tribbles have been chewing on the wiring, and the D7 suffers failures in several weapons. The scenario rather unusually starts on impulse 25 of the first turn, right after this happens. Two disruptors are shorted out, along with the wing phasers, and the scenario starts with rolling damage from the remaining two disruptors and the three boom phasers.
On the other side, the Federation has a FFG (yes, a frigate versus a cruiser!—also one of the first FFGs, and first refitted ship we've seen in action), with prox torps already loaded, and about to complete an oblique pass in front of the D7. All the FFG needs to do is knock down a shield on the D7 and get away to win. The D7 is wanting to avoid this and knock down a shield on the FFG. As extra handicaps, the D7 has minimal boarding parties, no damage control abilities, and any time a system other than power or the disruptors and boom phasers is used, it will fail on a roll of 6 (on one die).
Patch agreed that the situation looked interesting, and volunteered to take the FFG out for a spin. To generate uncertainty, there's random draws for whether the Klingons have any transporter bombs (no), a scatterpack ready (no), or have any 2-space or moderate-speed drones (I got one of each, and took the allowed option for one type-V drone).
All my rolls for the initial volley were 3s and 4s, which let both disruptors hit, and did 2 damage with the phasers for a total of 8 points on the FFG's #2 shield, only four of which registered. On the next (first of the game) impulse, we both went forward, putting the FFG right on the oblique, where he fired one proximity photon... which missed. Patch turned off the next impulse as the turn wound down to its end.First pass, Turn 1, Impulses 24-32.
The scenario set both of our speeds at 21 for that first turn, and I maintained that speed while the frigate boosted to 24. Patch also put up a point of ECM, while I did the same and put up four points of ECCM (because of all the trouble, the D7 is considered to have a poor crew, which means 4 ECCM just counters his 1 ECM and the 3 ECM I suffer for the poor crew; also, five EW is all I can do as the first point of power is wasted).
Turn 2 largely saw the FFG get off to my right, while I kept my options open. It finally turned again (to the right) on impulse 23, and I fired the two disruptors at that point, getting 6 damage on the #3. I turned two impulses later, and we ended the turn at range 15.
We kept our respective speeds and EW on turn 3, and Patch slowly turned back to the left in the first half of the turn, putting us on a converging course as of impulse 14. Patch turned in, fired another proximity photon on 23... and missed again. The next impulse, I fired the two disruptors... and missed with both. On 28, Patch fired two ph-1s for 5 damage, none of which registered on my shields (I had one general, two specific on shield #1, and then spent two batteries to block the rest)Second pass, Turn 3, Impulse 24, showing movement from Impulse 14 to 32.
We had finished up the turn at range 8, so I went down to speed 16 to overload the disruptors, while Patch boosted to 27 and dropped EW. Patch fired a bearing ph-1 on impulse 1, but missed, while both disruptors hit to do 10 damage (after reinforcement) to his #5. Patch opened up the range, and then started looping back to the right, ending the turn at range 16.
We both ended up back at speed 21 for turn 5. I kept my standard 1/4 EW split, and Patch continued without EW, presumably scraping the bottom of the barrel for warp power to put in the photons. The turn was mostly a stern chase, but Patch kept sideslipping left to get us near the 1/6 and 3/4 shield boundaries even as the range stayed constant. On impulse 25, he turned right to go across my path again, and I fired disruptors right afterward, and missed with both. Patch turned again on 31, and range dropped back to 11 at the end of the turn.
I shifted down to speed 15 for turn 6, while Patch stayed at 21 and put up 2 ECM and 1 ECCM. On impulse 4 the range closed to 8 hexes, and Patch fired two overloaded photons and the two bearing ph-1s, doing 6 points with the phasers and hitting with one 10-point overload, and 11 points registered on my #1 shield. Patch turned off, but I got the range down to 6 hexes and fired on impulse 9, hitting with one overloaded disruptor for six damage to the FFG's #3 shield.Third pass, Turn 6, Impulse 4, showing movement from Impulse 1 to 12.
Patch boosted to speed 27 on turn 7, while I went back to 21, and he dropped EW while I kept my standard 1/4. I didn't fire the disruptors until 25 (...after the range went up a bracket), and got one hit for 2 damage on the #4. On turn 8, Patch went down to speed 24, but continued running to get the photons reloaded, while both of my disruptors missed again on 23.
On turn 9, the FFG dropped to speed 18 with everything else the same. It was mostly another stern chase, but Patch started turning in for a pass on impulse 25, just as I fired the disruptors again for one hit and 3 more damage on the #3 shield.
For turn 10, we were both going speed 15, and Patch put up 2 ECM and 1 ECCM (I was still at my normal 1/4). I tried keeping some distance as Patch turned in for a close pass, but I muffed it, and ended up where I didn't want to be. Part of it was I allocated for a pass on my #2 shield, and I probably should have let that get close while the FFG was still turning. Instead I slipped out, giving it time to clear more options, and ended up close (which is also what I was trying to avoid) with the FFG's turn mode satisfied.
By impulse 18, range was down to three, and Patch launched a speed-12 drone. That also complicated things, and kept me from doing what I had planned. I launched a drone on the next impulse (right after speed-12 went; good timing Patch!). An all of this was forcing the action out of my forward arc. On 20, the range closed to 2, and the FFG fired, hitting with one 14-point overloaded photon and 5 points from a single ph-1 for 19 damage on the #3 shield; general reinforcement and batteries put it down to 14 damage, to keep one box up on the shield. The next impulse the other bearing ph-1 fired for minimal damage (3 points on a 6), knocking down the shield, and Non-Violent Targeting meant no internals were scored.Fourth pass, Turn 10, Impulse 20, showing movement from Impulse 1 to 24.
The FFG turned off, tractoring my drone, and I fired the three boom phasers into the weak #3 for 10 damage, two hit reinforcement (or probably batteries), three knocked down the shield, and the FFG took five internals for two warp and one phaser hit. The next impulse, I fired the two right-side waist phasers, which thankfully worked, but then I rolled 6s on damage... which with a +1 shift were clean misses. I later used the other waist phasers to kill the drone... and failed. The first left waist phaser failed to function, and the drone lived through 4 damage done by the other (implying a type-V drone...).
After that, it was time to move to disengage for the FFG, which I had little means to contest. And that's a victory for Patch. The main goal is knock down a shield on the D7, do less than 10 internals, and disengage. My basic goal was to knock down a shield on the FFG without losing one of mine (easier said than done with the rear shields). Not done. There's also an astounding victory for the FFG by disengaging after knocking down two shields, but that one gets reduced by taking internals. But the other two don't talk about that, so this should be the basic win for Patch.
A maxim of Dave Eastman from my old SFB group was, "You damaged me; I must go faster!" Often, a few internals destroy more power-consuming weapons systems they they destroy power generation. Here, we have a D7 that is down two phasers and two disruptors (six power draw, ten if you're overloading and recharging those phasers all at once), but has no power hits; speed 15 is not something you generally see a D7 doing when it's overloading "all" disruptors. Frigates are another matter (especially when they have 12 warp, but only need 10 to get to speed 30), so one of the effects here is a D7 that can keep up with a frigate while charging for a close pass, and D7s already have some of the best power generation on a cruiser in this era (39 power, only beaten by Lyran and some Hydran cruisers at 40).
There was a certain amount of frustration for Patch here as the first two (single) photon shots missed, and one did on the next two passes. I had at least my statistical number of misses with the disruptors mid-game, but was still wearing down the shields with the ability to fire every turn. Patch worried about the fact that he couldn't keep up on the damage output, but that was time to read the VC again.
One bit that was unexpected was that both ships are turn mode category "B", so whenever we were going the same speed, it was simultaneous movement time, which we don't often run into. Overall, it's a good scenario for brushing up on maneuvering, and I think it helped there. It also give a bit more flavor to the usual 'duel' scenario, and shows off the FFG. I think this is one the better small scenarios I've seen a bit.
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- [+] Dice rolls
[Scenarios 1 & 2]
As Mark and I sat back down to the "Lone Gray Wolf" mini-campaign, I wondered if it might wrap up quickly. Most of the groups available to the Kzinti can't match the power of an uninjured DN, and a couple more fights like that would leave me able to just disengage at will from the sixth and final scenario.
And then Mark rolled a 1 for the fourth group; the best Kzinti group of the set. One that in the original version I'd be tempted to just disengage from immediately, even on the first scenario, just not to have to tangle with a full carrier group and squadron of fighters.
In Y160, it's 'merely' the equivalent ships: a CC, 2xCL, and FF. In this era, Kzinti cruisers are a bit lackluster, except for the CC. It nicely ups the firepower of the regular CS class, has the full amount of warp power something that size should have, and may be the only ship around right now that has 180-degree arcs on disruptors (expanded disruptor arcs will become a lot more common in a decade, but right now they're almost all limited to 120-degree arcs). So, this is something of a more dangerous repeat of the third scenario, which featured group 4.
The Kzinti group lined up behind me and all went speed 24 for turn 1, while the C6 went speed 20, and only the CC put up EW, with four points of ECCM. I immediately turned off to the left, hoping to maneuver for a moderate-range shot, and the Kzinti followed suit a few impulses later. I continued my turn, and brought the main weapons to bear at range 8 one impulse 20. By impulse 23, range was down to 3 and the Kzintis started launching drones. On 24, I slipped in and ended up nose-to-nose with the CC, which is something I'd been trying to avoid, but the ranges had been a lot shorter than I'd anticipated. I tractored the two drones in front of me, and we both launched more right before firing. I shot down the two new drones from the CC, and hit the CC itself with four disruptors (one overloaded), four ph-1s, and 2 ph-2s, for a total of 58 damage. The CC fired one disruptor and 4xph-1, at me, and five more ph-1 came from the other ships, for a total of 49 damage (with some poor phaser rolls).Turn 1, Impulse 24, showing movement in Impulses 20-32, and ships largely hidden underneath the cloud of drones.
This did five internals to me, knocking out a phaser and one warp box. The CC took 25 internals, losing one drone, one disruptor, and multiple phasers, and blasting through the forward hull to start losing batteries. The next impulse, the FF launched a drone, putting everyone at maximum launches for the turn (short of the C-racks on the CC, which couldn't do their second fire until the next turn anyway).
With drones all around, I shot down the two from the CL on 26, giving me a chance to maneuver out (and that was partially due to the fact that drones have to go straight—or HET in place—on their first move). For turn 2, I dropped to speed 16 (partially recharging phasers and starting repairs on the #1 shield), while the Kzintis dropped to speed 21, with the CC at 20. I dropped the tractored drones, and put up 1 ECM, while the Kzinti didn't use any EW. With everyone drawing apart, I fired a ph-1 one at the rear shield of the FF on Impulse 2, doing one box to it.
We roughly paralleled each other for the first half of the turn, with my drones in between us (and slowly falling behind). On Impulse 14, the greater speed of the Kzintis put CL-2 into my FA and I fired four disruptors at it (two off of battery), getting two hits and doing three boxes to its #5. After that, the Kzintis started slipping out, and ranges climbed to 9-11 by the end of the turn, but were still in my FA arc. The CC repaired one box on its #1 compared to my three.
For turn 3, the Kzinti CLs dropped to speed 20, while the CC and FF maintained their speeds, and I stayed at 15 (but with the phasers largely charged, I shifted power to disruptors and EW). I boosted ECM to 4, and everything other than the CC put up one or two points of ECM. On Impulse 3, I boosted ECCM to 1 (matching CL-2s ECM) and fired disruptors at it, getting three hits, and doing seven more boxes to its #5. On impulse 10, the two CLs turned in. On 13, I turned the opposite way, setting up to pass behind both groups. All the Kzintis turned on 16, with the CLs nearly on the oblique, and they fired at range 6 (Mark would have liked to fire all the main weapons, but was stymied by the RF+R and LF+L setups on the CLs), and hit with one overloaded disruptor and a pair of ph-1s to do 9 damage to the #6 shield.Turn 3, Impulse 16, showing movement in Impulses 9-22. The CC is under the FF.
On 18, the CC and FF each launched one drone. On 22, the FF turned in and fired an overloaded disruptor, which missed, and a ph-1, for another 3 points on shield #6. At the same time, I fired the boom phasers at CL-2, for good rolls to 9 damage on shield #5, collapsing it and doing three internals, which took out the right-side disruptor and the left-side ph-3. I continued slipping in, and the fight started spiraling left, until I turned in near the end of the turn (finally having cleared the possibility of him hitting my #1), and the FF and CC turned right at the end of the turn, while the CLs continued left. The CC repaired another shield box, while I repaired three more on shield #1.
The Kzinits slowed down to speed 15, while I boosted to 16 for turn 4. CL-1 generated 2 ECCM, CL-2 generated 1 ECM, and the FF generated 2 of each, while the C6 generated 4 ECM and 1 ECCM. The CLs turned again on impulse 3, and fired a ph-1 each on 5, doing 3 damage to shield #4 (after a point of general reinforcement). The CLs turned to direct centerline behind me on 9, and fired the remaining ph-1s and an overloaded disruptor at range 5. The phasers rolled well, but had a shift, and the disruptor missed, for 7 more damage on my #4.
I turned to get them off the shield, and chase the CC & FF, and the CC launched a shuttle an impulse later. Later in the turn, I got close to it and it fired, doing 2 damage to my #1... which was blocked by reinforcement. I then tractored it to kill it by death dragging. The CLs got close, thanks to my turning, and passed behind me, and I turned back to parallel them. They still were a bit back, so late in the turn I volleyed my disruptors at the FF, getting three hits to do seven damage to the FF's #5. On impulse 32, the CLs turned in again, I slipped out, ending the turn at range 3. The CC and CL-2 both repaired a shield box, while I repaired one box each on the #1 and #6 as well as the warp engine hit.
For turn 5, the Kzintis stayed at speed 15, while I downshifted to 12. The CC put out 2 ECM and the FF 4, while CL-1 generated 4 ECCM and CL-2 generated 2, and the C6 generated 6 ECM. On impulse 1 I launched an ECM drone, and on impulse 3, the CLs each launched two drones. On 4 they moved to range 1 of me, sorely limiting my maneuver options, and a launched a pair of drones to take out two of them, and fired ph-2 on the other two to destroy them. On 5, the ECM drone started generating 3 ECM and loaning it to the C6, giving it 9 points, and a +3 shift for anyone without ECCM (this would turn off and on a few times over the next few impulses as maneuvering restrictions kept it from always being in my hex), and CL-1 launched a shuttle. Then the CLs boosted ECCM and fired the right-side ph-1s and disruptor (CL-2's was out), for 8 damage on shield #4 (decent, if shifted, phaser rolls; the disruptor missed).
The CLs turned away after that, and I tractored CL-2 at range 2, costing me 8 power in the auction, 5 of which came from batteries. A combined movement cost of 2 1/6 put us both at speed 4. On 9, the CC launched three drones, and the FF launched a pair (which surprised me, given the range between us). During the rest of the turn, the CC and FF turned around and started heading back towards the action, while CL-1 moved to join them. I slowly turned around, tractored two drones from turn 3 that had caught up, and fired on CL-2 on impulse 24.
Four overloaded disruptors hit, followed by good rolls for 3xph-1, for 49 damage. This crashed through the 16-point shield #3 for 33 internals that wrecked the ship. Over the next impulses, the CL launched its remaining shuttle, and I launched a drone at CL-2. The drone hit on impulse 30 through the down shield for another 12 internals, that left it with the off-side phasers and seven power. I repaired the lost phaser, and three more boxes on shield #1, while the CC repaired another box of its shield #1, and CL-2 repaired a box of shield #5.
For turn 6, CL-1 and the FF went speed 21, the CC went 18, and the CL could only manage speed 6 with fire control off. I stuck with speed 12 to keep the ECM drone functioning, dropped the tractors in EA. For EW, only the CC and CL-2 put up two ECM, and the C6 put up one point of ECM. I shot down the two (ex-)tractored drones, and one of the shuttles fired at point-blank to do three damage to the #1. On impulse 3, I moved to range 1, boosted ECCM to 2, and fired three overloaded disruptors into shield #2 of CL-2 with 2 hits to blow down the shield and do another four internals, killing two power. On four, one of the shuttles got a good hit on the ECM drone, destroying it, and I fired two ph-1 into CL-2, doing eight internals and taking out three more power. On five, I launched a new drone at CL-2 and started maneuvering past it.
On impulse 10, CL-1 got to range 4, and fired the right-side disruptor, ph-1 and ph-3s, doing 6 damage, of which 4 registered on shield #4. I turned the shield away, also hemming in CL-2, who was trying to avoid my drone. On 17, the FF shot down the drone with a range-5 ph-1 shot just before it could catch the CL. On 22, I finally put CL-2 back in a forward arc, fired the last disruptor into shield #5, which took two points and collapsed for three more internals, killing a phaser and the probe. The next impulse I did 5 more damage with a ph-2, killing the last phaser, APR, and getting onto the excess damage track. Then I slipped out to range 2, and downfired a pair of ph-3s into it for six damage, with the fifth point finally destroying the ship.
This still left me at low speed with all the remaining Kzintis getting in on the weak #4, and on impulse 28 the FF fired a ph-1 and disruptor at range 4, thankfully rolling poorly for 3 damage, only one of which registered on the shield. Ranges were down to 3 (CL-1) to 5 (CC) at the end of the turn, and I dropped a mine out the shuttle hatch on impulse 32 to try and shake off the Kzinti ships. I repaired one box on #4 (I had been quite aware that it could go down, and made sure I could reinforce it next turn).Turn 7, Impulse 1, showing movement from T6I28 to T7I6.
For turn 7, I boosted to speed 20, the CC stayed at 18, and CL-1 and the FF dropped to 15. The CC put up 2 ECM, while the remaining CL generated 1 ECCM, and I put up 1 ECM. The CL and FF immediately unloaded all bearing weapons, and the FF boosted to 1 ECCM. One overloaded disruptor missed, but the second hit, and the ph-1s rolled well, for a total of 24 damage on the #4 shield. Between reinforcement and batteries, I only took 9, which caused one internal (hull).
I sidestepped the drones from last turn, he sidestepped the mine I'd dropped, and the CC got on shield #4 on impulse 6, and fired, thankfully missing with all three disruptors, and only doing 3 damage with a pair of ph-1s to destroy a disruptor and a phaser. On 7, a shuttle got a rear shot, and rolled well (1) to do an internal, hitting Aux Con.
The rest of the turn was spent with me trying to get some range and shake the Kzintis from my #4 shield for next turn. On impulse 24, I tried a shot with the boom ph-1s at the CC, doing four damage that bounced off of reinforcement on his #1. By the end of the turn, range had opened up to 7 (still a lot closer than I'd like), but I'd gotten the Kzintis progressively further from the #4 shield boundary. And I repaired one box on the #4 shield.
With the #4 down and #1 still weak, it was going to be impossible to continue without slowly bleeding internals. Just separating into two groups would let him get there at some point. So for turn 8, I went speed 30 (all I could manage with a warp box out) and plotted to disengage by acceleration. We played out the turn to see if he could get a good shot in before I left, but he never quite managed it.
The bad news is that I can only disengage by acceleration once in the campaign. The hope is always to save that for the last scenario, and just declare it over at that point. Now, I have to destroy the opposing ships or force them to disengage. Or catch them at a long range at some point and force the range over 50 hexes. I don't think Mark will let me pull that trick twice.
The good news is that I went into this with the goal of making sure this group would be weaker if I faced it again. The initial plan was to pepper the FF with moderate-range disruptor shots until it's shields collapsed, and then finish it off. But destroying a CL certainly works. I managed to only use one transporter bomb this time, but the drone reloads are starting to empty, and I fired off nine drones this time, which is a rate I can't really keep up (well, okay, eighteen drones in two scenarios would work, but I'm expecting to use more, not less, if I get another serious fight).
The FF and CL-1 never took internals, and I was able to repair everything in the between-rounds segment, though it was pressing up to my limit of 18 boxes. However, the CC is still down 13 boxes. All the vital systems are repaired, but it's only got one forward hull, four aft hull, and is down a tractor beam. If it shows up again, getting through the 'padding' won't take long at all.
Neither of us really wanted a point-blank pass first thing this time, but it happened anyway. As I predicted earlier, the CC made a big difference; it survived the pass in a lot better shape than the CS could, and instead of losing half of my shield #1, it went down. Mark was probably too cautious with the CC after that. He made sure I didn't get another shot at its #1, but it didn't contribute much either. It might have been better to slow down, keep it further away, and repair the shield faster (and make sure to keep those disruptors charged for moderate-ranged shots).
Mark also ran into trouble with the LF+L and RF+R arcs of older Kzinti ships here, which with two CLs made a difference. For the closer passes, he should have either been looking to centerline, or approach a hex or two off, fire one side's weapons, turn across me, and fire the other side as he goes by. At longer ranges, keeping one side uncharged helps movement.
Again, we're off on other games for a little bit, but we'll back for the rest soon.
- [+] Dice rolls
[Scenarios 1 & 2]
Mark and I returned to the "Lone Gray Wolf" mini campaign a bit ago, as my C6 dreadnought continued making its way back to friendly lines. This time was a proper challenge, as the pursuit group came up '4', which is the second-best Kzinti group. In the original, this is a CVL+ carrier group (basically modified BC, CL, FF with nine fighters); in this Y160 variant, there's no fighters (of course), and the ships are their regular unrefitted equivalents of a CS, CL, and FF. By straight BPV, this is 195 vs 262 (and by F&E ratings 10-12 vs 17-18), though there are some serious advantages to having one large ship instead of three smaller ones (it being easier to punch through a shield to destroy weapons on a smaller ship being the main one).
As ever with this campaign, setup is the C6 in the middle of the board, with the Kzinti 14 hexes behind it; in this case Mark started his ships one hex apart, with the CS in the middle. I started at speed 20 and no EW, while the Kzintis all went speed 18 with 1 ECCM running. The first few impulses got us going, and I slipped and then turned on Impulse 5. The Kzinti generally slipped over to keep in line with me, and I turned in late in the turn, and used the good arcs on the ph-1s to hit the FF's shield #1 for 8 points at range 12 (5 registered).
With the range staying closer than I might have liked, and Kzintis turning to intercept on impulse 32, I decided on a somewhat risky maneuver: going down to speed 12, and launching an ECM drone (actually done on Impulse 32). The Kzinti went to speed 21 (except the FF, which stayed at 18), and used varying amounts of ECCM, while I generated 6 ECM (with another three from drone when it came on-line during impulse 4).
I turned in at the start of the turn, and Mark tried to clear the ECM drone with a pair ph-3s on impulse 7, but failed to get any hits at range. He launched drones on 8, the FF slipped out, and the CS turned in for nose-to-nose confrontation. I tried tractoring the CS on 10, but gave it up after three points of power. The CS then launched from its remaining two drone racks, and I launched two drones, and then we unloaded into each other (with the CL adding in). Phasers knocked down all the just-launched drones and the ECM drone, and the CS and CL boosted ECCM enough to get the shift down to a +2. Two of four of his disruptors missed, and mixed phaser performance added up to 23 damage, or just over half my shield #1. One of my disruptors missed, but three overloads, 4xph-1 and 2xph-2 did a total of 50 damage, crashing through the #1 for 24 internals. This ripped through the forward hull, and took out the batteries, along with the usual scattering of weapons and power.Turn 2, Impulse 10, showing movement for the first 16 impulses.
On 11 various ships moved forward and the CS slipped to the left. I tractored the latest two CS drones, and launched another drone at one of the ones further out. The CS fired all available (6!) ph-3s, doing 22 damage to shield #5. On Impulse 13, the CL slipped in behind me and fired two ph-3s on #5 for 7 damage (one blocked by a battery), while I downfired a phaser to knock down a drone (and then the other one of that pair was destroyed my drone the next impulse). On 15 the FF turned to parallel the other Kzinti ships and fired its 360-ph1, doing 2 points to exactly bring shield #5 down. On 16, I finally turned (now that the drones to my starboard were gone), getting that shield away from everyone, and then spent the rest of the turn dodging the remaining drones and pulling away from the Kzinti.
The Kzinti turned again on Impulse 20, I turned to parallel them on on 27, and the Kzinti turned in on 28 so that the closest ships (CL & C6) were at range 5 at the end of the turn. I boosted to speed 16 for turn 3, while the CS went 14 and the other two ships went 15, and all of us dropped all EW. I turned in on Impulse 4, and the CL and CS both launched a pair of drones. The next impulse, the CL turned in, and the FF launched a pair of drones. On 6, the CS launched another pair of drones, and I launched a pair, both targeted on the CL, but pointed in different directions, to cut down his maneuvering options. The Kzinti fired all bearing weapons, with the CL and CS's disruptors missing, and the FF's hitting. All told, I took another 4 points on shield 1, and and 13 on #2.Turn 3, Impulse 5, showing movement from Impulses 1-16.
On Impulse 6, I slipped out, and fired all four disruptors at the CL, while Mark fired ph-3s at my drones to kill one and damage the other (finishing it off with another ph-3 next impulse). Three disruptors hit, doing 12 damage, nine of which registered on the CL's #2 shield. I started turning off, with the drones in pursuit, and on Impulse 12, the FF fired ph-1 and disruptor at range 3 to do 6 damage to the #4 shield. It slipped closer the next impulse, and I fired 2xph-2 at it, for 8 damage, 5 of which registered on its #2 shield. Two impulses later, I followed that up with two more ph-2s, for another 8 damage, which knocked down the #2 and did a forward hull to the FF.
By Impulse 23, both the CL and FF had turned in pursuit of me, and the CS was paralleling me three hexes off my shield #2, so transported a dummy transporter bomb two hexes in front of the CL, and dropped a real one out the shuttle hatch. On Impulse 27 I transported out a real TB in front of the CL and FF. The Kzinti overran the dummy, but the FF turned off rather than hit the one I dropped. The CL and FF were able to avoid the third mine as well, but only with a bunch of slipping, and they started falling behind, which was largely the point. Drones encountered the dropped mine on Impulse 32, which detonated destroying one pair.Turn 4, Impulse 1, showing movement from Turn 3, Impulse 23, through Turn 4, Impulse 6.
I repaired two boxes on my #5 at the end of the turn, and went speed 18, with the Kzintis spread from 18 (CL) to 21 (FF). Mark continued with no EW, but I put up two points of ECM. I turned towards the CS on impulse 2, and it turned away, with the CL and FF still getting around the third transporter bomb. On Impulse 6 I fired two disruptors (the only ones I'd charged) at the CS, hitting with one to do 4 points to shield #5.
I continued turning, keeping ahead of the CL and FF's turn radius, and on Impulse 15 the CL fired its disruptors and ph-1s at range 5 with one disruptor hit and good phaser rolls to do 11 points on the #3 shield. On Impulse 24 the CL managed to turn inside me, and it took some slipping to get it back behind me again. On 27, I fired a pair of ph-2 at the FF, but poor rolls meant I did no damage. The FF turned in pursuit and fired 2xph-1 and ph-3 on 28 to do 7 points to my #3. I turned again on 29 and tractored the CL (at range 2, spending all the batteries on a 4-point tractor).
The CL and I then launched pairs of drones at each other, and I launched the suicide shuttle that I'd spent the first three turns preparing. The CL fired 2xph-3, doing 8 points of damage to #3, while I fired 3xph-1 and 2xph-2 (with overall poor rolls) to do 20 points, which knocked down shield #2 and did 13 internals, costing him two power, two phasers and a drone rack. Sadly, I'd done the movement wrong, and my seeking weapons ended up going past in front of the CL on their first move (when they have to go straight).
I repaired one box each on my #4 and #5 shields, and budgeted for a fairly strong tractor attempt on the CL in EA, and went over my budget, and still didn't manage to hold it. I burned 18 power on a range-2 tractor attempt, leaving me with no weapons charging (and three energy in the capacitors), and only two energy going back into batteries, but at speed 20 with 1 ECM running. The CS and FF were a few hexes behind me (range 5), and the CL had spent nine power resisting the tractor (out of twenty-one available), so it wouldn't be able to fire and keep up with me.
The CS and FF went speed 18 for turn five, while the CL went 12, meaning that my EA had worked: I would pull away a bit this turn into moderate-close range. Better, Mark didn't use any EW, and my +1 shift would help keep me from taking much damage. The real saga of the turn was the CL, which was going speed 12 with a speed-6 shuttle, a speed-8 drone, and a speed-12 drone targeted on it, and adjacent. The CL ended up slipping away from me (his first thought was to give chase, but that'd end up with range one and his down shield to me). My drones HETed, and then went forward, temporarily putting them directly between me and the CL. This caused the CL to be herded away from the action by the speed-12 drone, as it was always hanging off his starboard, and would hit if turned in. He finally shot it with a ph-3 on impulse 17 and killed it (if I'd known how this'd end up, it might have been an armored drone...), and then turned toward the rest of the action.
I went back towards my transporter bombs from a couple turns ago, mostly hoping to give Mark trouble avoiding them as he perused me. Mark went around the mines, but the bulk of the drones had ended up collected into one big mass, and eight of them tripped the third mine on Impulse 32, destroying them, and just left the last two drones from the CL, which were following two hexes behind the rest.
For turn 6, I dropped to speed 17, while all the Kzintis boosted to 21. Mark stayed with no EW, while I put up 4 ECM. I continued a look around the remaining (dummy) transporter bomb. On Impulse 5, the CS fired a overloaded disruptor and ph-1 at range 4, missing with the disruptor, and only doing 2 points through the ECM, which was exactly countered with the reinforcement I'd allocated on my #5. On Impulse 11, the FF fired both ph-1s and its disruptor at range 3, collapsing the weak #5 and doing four internals, knocking out one power and three hull. The CL was approaching from the front, and as I prepared to pass off it's starboard side, I came upon its drones from last turn, which I killed with a pair of downfired phasers on Impulse 12.
On 13, the CL got to range 3 on its down shield, and I fired 3 disruptors (all I'd powered, in case one was lost to internals), of which one hit, 4 ph-1s, which did 12 damage on some poor rolls, and 2 ph-2s, which did 7 damage on average rolls, to do 22 internals and gut the CL.Turn 6, Impulse 13, showing movement from 1-27.
On Impulse 14, I went forward while the CL slipped away, and, still on the #2 shield, I fired another ph-2s for eight more internals. The CL and the C6 both continued straight after the pass, with the CS and FF coming back around in pursuit, and about five hexes behind the C6.
For turn 7, the CS and FF maintained speed 21, while the CL dropped to speed 9, while the C6 sprinted at speed 26. This involved shutting down everything but 2 ECM, full damage control on shield #3, charging five batteries, and charging one phaser (and the capacitors were otherwise dry). Mark fired on Impulse 2, doing a total of 10 damage to shield #4 with a pair of disruptor hits, and one good ph-1 roll (the FFs ph-1 shot missed entirely). On Impulse 14, the CL was 36 hexes away from the C6, and my seeking weapons (one drone and the suicide shuttle) lost tracking and went inert. On 28, the CL was 51 hexes away from the C6 and disengaged by separation.
At the end of the turn, I was ten hexes in the lead of the CS and FF, and did the second part of my plan. I went speed 0, and allocated for the maximum of four tactical warp maneuvers and one impulse tactical while charging everything to full (except for one disruptor kept off line), and put five points of reinforcement on the weak #3 shield in case Mark should fire before I could turn it away. Mark was expecting more high-speed chase, going 22 in the CS and 24 with the FF, and no EW.
Mark turned off and did not try to engage, circling around a bit near the end, and we were at range 17 at the end of the turn. The CS shifted down to speed 14, and the FF to 15 for turn 9. I went my maximum speed of 10, with 14 points of reinforcement on the #1 shield, and standard loads on all disruptors. The Kzinti effectively crossed my 'T' during the turn, and the FF started turning to maintain an orbit around my position, and I turned towards it. I fired disruptors at range 13 on Impulse 25, getting three hits for nine damage to the #6. The FF then turned off, paralleling the CS again. At the end of the turn, I continued repairing shields (#1 and 2 this time), and the Kzintis each repaired one box on down shields.
For turn 10, I boosted to speed 18, while the Kzinti went 15. I had a bit of a quandary at this point. I would have dearly loved to actually destroy one of the group-4 ships, but Mark was now generally playing keep-away, and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to force another close pass at any time soon. I could try peppering him with moderate-range disruptor shots, but even against the FF, that would take time to take effect, and in another 10 turns, he would get to roll to see if another pursuit group showed up. Even the damaged FA-L of group 6 would be a help, and the pair of FFs in group 5 could be dangerous at this point.
So I shadowed the Kzinti for a bit, then turned towards them. After a few impulses the Kzinti turned away, I fired disruptors at the FF for one hit to do four damage to it's #4. The Kzinti turned off of my course... and the turn ended with us back down to about range 11.
On turn 11, I went 19 while the Kzintis went 24, and both launched drones on impulse 1. The Kzinti turned away again, and I fired disruptors at the FF for all for to hit at range 12, and do five internals (after five shields and two reinforcement), which got one warp and two batteries. I turned to go around the drones, and the FF turned to get the down #4 away from me. The CS turned to stay with the FF... and I turned the opposite way.
This was an opportunity I had been looking for. We were now headed directly away from each other, and the range would open up dramatically before Mark could turn back around and give chase. In fact, we ended the turn at range 25, and I plotted to sprint at speed 31 to keep opening up the range. I had five more turns allowed at speed 21+, and the CS was only capable of 24 at best, giving me at least three hexes per turn, and it still had to finish turning around. ...I had forgotten at that point that separation is range 50 (instead of the 35 of losing seeking weapon tracking). On the other hand, I'm not sure how practical even speed 24 was with the need to power other systems, and certainly me dropping speed suddenly again was a possibility. Even at 24, that's six hexes times 5 turns to open up the range at least another thirty hexes and disengage by separation around turn 16 or 17.
After the scenario, I was able to repair what damage I had taken, but I am down six drones, two transporter bombs, one dummy bomb, and one shuttle (that last one hurts the most, I had been hoping to drive him off and recover it). The FF was able to repair everything but two forward hull boxes. The CS is down all its forward hull, two rear hull, a tractor, a transporter, a bridge box, a RS ph-3, and the topmost sensor '6' box. Even after repairs, the CL is a mess, still out three center warp, two impulse, an APR, all the batteries, all hull, two lab, a tractor, a transporter, both drone racks, the RS ph-3 and RF+R ph-1.
Mark's initial mistakes came during the the turn 2 pass. First, he fired on the ECM drone two early, as the ph-3s just didn't have the range, and they missed. Then he killed it while doing his big strike, instead of an impulse before (or even ignoring it, and letting me worry about being stuck at speed 12 or abandon it). Also, the FF didn't come in with the other two ships. He needed the extra firepower, and he needed to distract me from the CS. Even losing the FF outright (which he was rightfully worried about) would be worth having the CS in good shape for the rest of the battle.
Admittedly, that pass went better than I thought even with all of that. I expected to take a lot more than half of my #1 on that shot. The +3 shift from the ECM drone helped, but it's just that the CS is a lackluster cruiser. Trying that against the Kzinti CC (which leads group #1) would end a lot differently, as it has a lot more firepower. It still might not get through the shield, but there would be very little left. (It also has three more warp power, so my end-game sprint wouldn't work against it.)
The CL also was mismanaged. First, it should also have followed the CS in on turn 2 for a centerline shot. On 5, it needed to kill my speed-12 drone a lot sooner so it could maneuver. Second, he needed to make me work for the turn 6 shot at it. Turning across my path would have worked. I could overrun it and then fire the (lots of) rear phasers after going by it, but getting the shield #2 shot might have been tricky, and the disruptors wouldn't have a shot. Instead, I'd probably take the approach shot, leaving it with two down shields but fewer internals. Also, the intact left-side weapons would get to fire at close range.
We're off to other things for the moment, but we'll be checking on scenario 4 soon!
- [+] Dice rolls
Looking things over, I had noticed there were a few 'general' SFB scenarios that are geared to around the current play date of our group (instead of ~Y175) shortly before Patch suggested a Star Fleet Battles game. I put together a package of possibilities, and we went with "Treasure Ship", where a freighter on robot controls emerges from the WYN cluster, and two of their neighbors fight over who gets to take the prize home. (One of them paid for the valuable resources on board, but the WYN are not above promoting fights by sending the freighter out in range of two ships.)
Of the options, we kept the scenario as small as possible, with Patch taking a Lyran FF and me taking a Kzinti FF, with a small freighter (F-S) up for grabs. (Patch called it 'two kids fighting over a candy bar.') Effectively, it's a frigate-duel, but the freighter is worth two points per intact cargo box to whoever ends up with control of it. The two ships set up on opposite sides of the board, with the freighter in between, running in a straight line at speed 4.
I decided to make a fast grab for the F-S, and try to steer the fight away from it, and possibly disengage (which it can only do by distance), and went speed 28, while Patch went a more sedate 18. Most of the turn was spent running up, and on Impulse 23 I came adjacent and tractored the freighter, then launched a drone, fired the disruptor at Patch, and fired a phaser-1 at the F-S for five points of damage. Which would be perfect for knocking down the shield, except the robot controls put up one point of general reinforcement, and the battery as a second reinforcement, leaving two boxes of shields up. Patch fired both disruptors back on the next impulse, and hit with both for six points on my #6 before turning off. I turned the opposite direction, and Patch turned back a few impulses later. I then fired a Ph-3 into the freighter for three points to knock down the shield, and do one cargo (doh!) internal, and then transported a boarding party and crew unit (prize crew) aboard the next impulse.
Patch stayed at 18, while I boosted to 30 (halved, since I kept the F-S in tractor). This meant skipping the disruptor, and skimping on battery and phaser charging. I ran for half the turn, while trying to figure out how I wanted to get more boarding parties on to the freighter. On impulse 15 I dropped the tractor, and launched a second drone, and then turned the F-S and sideslipped the FF so that it could drop a shield and beam three more BPs onto the freighter through its down shield, with nothing pointing Patch's way. (Some of this was delayed because I allocated a box of General Reinforcement on the F-S, which blocked the transport, and/or a shuttle, and landing a shuttle aboard was the original plan. Half a turn gave me some time to look things up and realize I could drop the reinforcement for a bit without having to announce it.) Once that was done, I realized I only had one boarding party left on the FF. Hopefully, I wouldn't give Patch any chances to board me....
On impulse 18, I launched another drone, this time going speed 12. Patch continued towards the freighter/me, with range to the drones dropping fast, and on 22 he fired both disruptors and a phaser-2 at range three to the F-S to do 8 points (one disruptor missed), for two internals (the general reinforcement had recently come back up), one of which was a cargo box. Patch turned off to avoid drone #2, and I turned the opposite way (now that the shield was back up). On 32, he turned back towards me, and fired on drone #3, which had closed to one hex... rolling a 6 with a phaser-3 to let it live.
Patch stayed at 18 again, while I dropped to speed 19, which allowed me to charge the disruptor, get the phasers fully charged, and start shield repairs, but only trickle a little power into the batteries. The F-S picked up to speed 5, while it finished charging its battery. Both frigates ran with one point of ECM. Patch finished off drone #3 on impulse 1, and I spent the first few impulses finishing a turn back towards Patch, hoping to keep him distracted from the F-S, and get the ESG to deploy so I wouldn't be facing it and all the phasers in what I hoped would be a main battle pass later. On 8, he turned in, somewhat to my surprise, given how cautious he'd been earlier.
Sadly, I once again forgot to save a log, so I don't have a direct record of what happened for the rest of turn 3. However, as ranges came down, and I carefully sideslipped for a slightly off-center run, the ESG was announced on impulse 9, and I had a very tense time of trying to get close while being able to maneuver around it... at whatever range Patch set it at. On 13 it came up at range 2, while I was at 3. I fired my disruptor and turned off, while Patch fired the following impulse. On 17, I dropped a (fake) transporter bomb out the shuttle hatch to discourage him from pursuing me while I got a little distance and turned myself back around. Patch sideslipped the opposite way to keep away from it while the two drones shortcutted near it. Patch turned wide around it (thanks to the ESG), and headed for the F-S, ending the turn with the ESG one hex from it.
The F-S, seeing it coming, dropped to speed 3, and put up three reinforcement on shield #4. After that, and blowing the battery, it lost two hull, the phaser (never charged), two cargo, and three out of four warp (ironically, after losing all but two power, it still doesn't count as crippled, as that requires only having 10% warp power left, not 25%), on impulse 2, when the ESG hit. Oh, and combined with our earlier shots, it had no rear shields left.
Meanwhile, I'd kept at speed 19, overloading the disruptor and putting a point each into ECM and ECCM (the batteries were still getting a trickle of power, and were finally over 2 energy again). Patch stayed at 18 and also had a point each in ECM and ECCM. He turned away on impulse 6, while I was still turning around (Patch mentioned that he had nearly turned in, which would have been a better decision at this point, though I'm not sure how it would have gone). Patch wondered about the mine, as I went by it while turning after him. I pointed out that I could just set it to explode on size classes that weren't present (say SC 2 dreadnoughts), so that an ESG collision would be the only thing to set it off ("Evil!"), or it could just be a fake ("Also evil!").
On impulse 12, I got to range 8 and fired the disruptor, hitting to do five damage to his #4. On impulse 21 I fired the forward phaser to do another 4 points (rolled a 1!), getting through the shield, and doing a single forward hull. Patch started fighting to get me off his #4, which left me with the problem of possibly getting too close to him this turn, as I started cutting inside. Drone #1 quietly ran out of endurance on impulse 23... the first time I've seen that happen in quite a while.Turn 4, Impulse 12, showing movement for the full turn.
For turn five, I kept to speed 19, with much the same setup as last turn, but dropping ECM to recharge the one phaser I fired. The F-S continued to crawl off at speed three while starting repairs on a warp engine. Patch went speed 12 with 1/1 electronic warfare, indicating preparations for a close-range pass with two overloaded disruptors, and possibly pumping all he could back into the ESG....
I launched another speed 12 drone (#4) on impulse 1, and Patch turned on 3, with me just outside the forward arc. I turned in, and on impulse 7 got back onto shield 4, doing three points (lousy roll) with the 360 phaser-1 to get a ph-3, a disruptor and a warp. On 8 the new drone got to range one and Patch fired the remaining RS phaser, and a poor roll let it live with three points of damage again. On 9 he finished it off with a downfired ph-2, but I turned to get my FA arc to bear and fired the forward ph-1 and overloaded disruptor to do thirteen internals, at which point Patch conceded.
The addition of the freighter does certainly add interest to an otherwise standard small duel. Also, the small ships are always interesting to work with, as they can maneuver, but just don't have a lot of guts.
I rattled Patch by going fast and grabbing the prize early, but it could have easily backfired. I burned 1.2 battery power on those transporters, and was only putting 1/6 point back into batteries each turn. Also, I inadvertently left myself open to a boarding action if Patch had ever gotten a good pass to knock down a shield. And I largely broke up his best chance with a fake T-bomb.
If things had gotten serious from there, I would have dropped the real one (I only bought one). They're an extra thing for Lyrans to be wary of, since an ESG will set them off on contact, and apply its damage to the field... or straight to the facing shield (even from three hexes away) if there's not enough in the ESG to take it. But, it is only 10 points, and it often won't get past the ESG at that point, though it does compromise its drone defense.
It turned out that Patch had missed the ESG power storage from the WS-III start, so he'd been blowing power on it it he didn't need to. I was mostly worried we'd have a close range pass, where he had twice as many disruptors (...and similar power, so maybe he couldn't overload them, but I can miss with one overloaded disruptor a lot easier than he can miss with two standards), just as many main phasers (2s instead of 1s, admittedly), twice as many ph-3s, and could use his ESG to knock down my drones with strength left over (or use the ph-3s for that and hit me with a full ESG ram).
I took half of my drones as type-IIs, and the mix served me well. The two speed-8 drones made good terrain, and the speed-12s got in close and forced him to kill them.
As for what did happen, thirteen internals would have gutted many of his systems, and the next impulse I'd probably follow up with the RS ph-3 for 1-4 more damage. Then I'd go sailing off past him, before lining up for a shot at the near-cripple next turn. Patch gets 6 points for the drones and T-bomb I took, while I get 42 for intact cargo and 15 for forcing a disengage (if not 32 for crippling him, but I don't think I would have quite gotten there). 57:6 is deep into Astounding Victory territory. If things had lasted longer with the same end result, that could have been chipped away at as the F-S got shot up further.
- [+] Dice rolls
"The Lone Gray Wolf" is an interesting mini campaign for SFB that I've had some desire to play ever since the days of Commander's Edition. Back in Captain's Log #41, there was an 'update' to it, positing that this situation could have happened before, maybe an early version was even the reason why it was tried at the height of the General War. This provided for alternate versions of the campaign in each Klingo-Kzinti conflict, which works out to a W-era, Y-era, two 'middle years', and late-GW variants of it. The fourth one happens to be set in Y160, our group's current scenario date, so with our expanded Vassal playing time, I talked Mark into playing through it with me.
A Klingon dreadnought goes alone to the Kzinti capital to negotiate a peace. The talks break down, and the dreadnought is forced to make its lonely way back to Klingon lines, with Kzinti forces hunting for it. There are six Kzinti groups hunting for it, and the dreadnought must survive six scenarios to win through. But, this is not 'face each force in turn'. Instead, each scenario starts with a die roll to determine which force finds the dreadnought this time. Repeated rolls of the same number will bring up the same ships (worse for wear from the previous scenarios, just like the dreadnought, and if the Kzinti ship(s) were destroyed before, this becomes a 'free pass' for the Klingons). The Klingons must conserve fuel, and must stay to speed 20 or below most of the time, and can only disengage by acceleration once in the entire campaign.
Mark volunteered to take the Kzinti, and after some pondering over drone choices (especially for me, as they have to last for six battles), and deciding to try MRS shuttles (which added more drones to the mix), we started in mid-August. The first roll was a '6'... the weakest Kzinti group, a single FA-L (drone-armed freighter; also about the only ship unchanged from the original version). Against a C6 early dreadnought (this is the second time I've piloted one), Mark's main hope was to force me to at least expend consumables, either launching drones, or using T-bombs.
Setup is always with the Kzinti a half-map behind the C6, and Mark set up about six hexes off to one side. Initial speeds were 17 for me and 18 for the FA-L. I spent on 4 ECM and 1 ECCM while Mark didn't spend anything on EW. I spent half the turn getting turned around, while the FA-L first turned to parallel my initial turn, and then turned in. As I started setting up for an oblique attack, Mark fired his two bearing ph-2s at range 7 with a +2 shift to do one point of shield damage, and then turned off. Three impulses later, just short of the oblique, I fired all bearing weapons (4xph-1, 2xph-2, 4xdisruptors overloaded off of batteries) to do 11 internals through shield #5 with below average rolls (phasers never rolled under a 3, and two disruptors hit on a 2/3s chance). Internals were all over, taking out two of three control spaces, and reducing the sensor rating to '3' (making drones a really chancy weapon, as he had a 50-50 chance of losing lockons and all drone tracking next turn), but not taking out any weapons.
Turn 1, Impulse 23, showing movement from Impulse 17 through 32.
Two impulses later, the left waist phasers were in arc, and better rolls did three points through the down shield, for two hull, and one sensor hit, reducing it to '0'. By the end of the turn I was six hexes away in a stern chase, and it was obvious that Mark would be trying to disengage by acceleration. I went down to speed 12, overloading the disruptors and recharging the phasers and batteries, while the FA-L went its maximum of 23 (...okay, 31, we forgot about the freighter's acceleration limits).
I immediately volleyed everything I had, trying to get it down to less than half its original warp power, and unable to disengage by acceleration. The phasers were a bit more mixed (with a 2 in the mix, but also two 6s), but all the disruptors hit, to do 17 internals through the #3 shield. This took out the last control space, two phasers, both impulse, and left just enough warp to disengage with. On impulse 4, I turned to get the right boom phasers into arc, and did two more points to take out the shuttle and a third phaser. After that, the distance opened up, and Mark got me off the down shields, so that I couldn't do any internals, even if I got the waist phasers to bear, and he disengaged.
We checked what the next group would be after that. And it was... 6! again!
We set up and did a half turn in a short session, just to see if I could get internals before it fled. Between scenarios, all shields are regenerated, and limited repairs can be made (he repaired the sensors, a couple warp, and I don't recall what else). However, he set up smartly in a far corner, and I couldn't manage more than about two greater speed than him, and couldn't do more than dent a shield.
We've started scenario 3, which should be much more of a challenge. (Spoiler: he got his second-best group.)
Mark was just too aggressive given the disparity in power between the ships. Of course, group #6 is probably best to see towards the end of the campaign, hopefully after something has done some real damage, and the Klingons have to be a lot more cautious. Catching me with a scatterpack could have been bad, but even that is unlikely to scare an intact C6 much (partially because of drone speeds, and partially because it doesn't have to give much credence to the FA-L's pop-guns).
The real goal would be to drag things out. It's unlikely to go anywhere near twenty turns (at which point he rolls again for another group to show up), but if he can get me thinking about it, I might make a mistake. And of course, short of hoping for that, the goal should be to get me to use T-bombs or drones, but with a fresh C6, the FA-L just couldn't force that either.
- [+] Dice rolls
Mark and I are getting into weekly Vassal sessions to supplement our FtF gaming, and maybe finish off ones we can't do in a session. We started off with Star Fleet Battles scenario SH76, "Quarantine", which is part of the Y160 timeline we're in as a group.
Plague had broken out on a small planet near the Klingon Border. The planet had not been colonized and only had personnel who were surveying it for colonization. The CLH Refuge was sent to the planet to rescue them. The Refuge was accompanied by a single escort vessel because the Klingons were too involved in their current war with the Kzintis and Hydrans to interfere, or so it was thought.
A Klingon Commander serving a penance tour on a penal frigate became aware of the plight, and he arrived to "investigate possible biological warfare experiments" in hopes of earning a quick ticket off the penal ship.
This is something of a scenario to show off the hospital cruiser and the F5J. Mark took the Federation force, which has a POL and the CLH. The CLH is by far the bulkiest thing in the scenario, and has armor to boot, but it only has four ph-3s for armament, so all the fighting is on the POL. The action centers on a planet and a small moon, both of which have a small outpost on side B (they are shut down, and pure accounting exercises for if they get shot up) each with 8 crew units (the standard) who are infected and must be transported directly to the CLH (which has the facilities to contain them), and two crew units from the CLH (who are apparently not infected yet). The Federation needs to get the infected crew units up to the CLH and off-board (with a minimum of 10).
The Klingons have a single F5J, which is better armed than the Federation force put together, but is limited by ph-2s and a poor crew. It comes on board at the start of the game, and wants to get 10 information points on each station before all the infected crew units are removed (I didn't see anything about it, but I ruled that the EW system impacts the research table—it is a poor crew after all—which meant I generally had a +1 to my rolls), and kill one ship before leaving (which is likely to be the POL).
The Federation ships start in orbit of the planet, and Mark started up the CLH at speed 9, while the POL went 12 (thanks to being Nimble), and the F5J came in at 15, a speed I would largely stick to. The CLH was running 4 ECM (giving me 7 to burn through after my poor crew penalty), while the F5J put up 2. The CLH immediately beamed two crew units up from the planet (it also only has two transporters; I'd think an extra or two would make sense for a hospital ship). I got to range three of the planet at the end of the first turn, and a poor roll get me all of 2 points of info (1x2 labs...), while the Feds headed down, and regrouped.
Turn 2, the CLH went 12, and boosted to 6 ECM (giving a total of 9, or +2 for me if I didn't spend on ECCM), the POL used 2 ECM and everything else stayed the same. I cruised next to the planet and then headed for the moon, hoping to get decent info on both. Bad rolls continued, getting me 6 points on the planet (total 8) and 8 on the moon after having been adjacent to both.
Unfortunately, I didn't record full logs for turns 3 and 4, and turn three was where the main battle pass happened. I shifted down to speed 13 and overloaded both disruptors, heading back to the planet to get decent range to both during the turn, and get my information gathering finished off. The Feds had ended turn 2 near the planet again, and the CLH headed off to moon for turn 4 transports, while I went after the POL.
We ended up with a range 1 pass around impulse 10, with main weapons fire happening slightly earlier. Thanks to turn and sideslip restrictions, I was able to hit him with a drone as the pass ended, and if I had looked at the impulse chart earlier, could have gotten him with a suicide shuttle as well (as it was, it got crippled by phaser fire, and spent the rest of the scenario wandering around trying vainly to get to the POL. The F5J took two internals through the #2 shield (Hull & Aux Con), while a disruptor damaged the POL's #1, and the drone collapsed #2, followed by good close-range ph-2 fire to do a warp hit, take out the #1 phaser, and almost all the cargo and hull. Not still combat effective, but the padding was largely gone.
I spent turn four recharging phasers and starting work on the down shield, and keeping it away from the Feds drove me further out of the way than I intended. I dropped down to speed 11, and stayed there for turn 5, while the POL went up to 15, and the CLH to 14 (increasing to 17 for turn 5). The CLH kept to 6 ECM the entire time, making sure I had no good shots at it as it continued to transport up two crew units a turn. Towards the end of turn four, I got a phaser shot off at the POL to damage the #3 shield, and then missed with an overloaded disruptor on Impulse 1 of turn 5 as it pulled out of range.
At this point, it was time to pull down some extra power, and try to maneuver a bit more, as I wasn't getting any more solid shots at the POL; but that would cost overloads on the disruptors. However, things got interrupted by a too-hurried re-reading of the victory conditions, and we missed the 'all surviving' part of the Federation's victory condition, leaving us with the 'at least 10', which Mark was up to now. A quick look showed that I couldn't really intercept either ship if it went to disengage.
And yeah, that was wrong. Oops. On the other hand, Mark only had three turns of transports needed left (generally all at the moon, and the POL had picked up the uninfected crew there already too), and I was not going to get another close pass like the first one if Mark had anything to say about it. Overall, I needed to be a lot more aggressive of a Klingon commander. I concentrated on the information-gathering first, so I wouldn't need to worry about it, but even with the EW shift, I finished that off on turn 3 without trouble.
Of course, killing a CLH with a F5J takes a fair amount of work, and the POL is the one that can hurt you, so it's the only real viable target. But while it's not as well armed, being nimble and a regular crew makes up for a lot. Just don't get caught in a short-range tussle unless you need to save the CLH. I'll admit I wasn't as gung-ho going into this one as some of the other scenarios, as I find it only moderately interesting. But once again, I find just having a planet on the map can do a lot to change the nature of maneuvering, and this one gives a better reason to hang around it than most.
A turn 1 dash for the POL and anchor it... nah. Most likely you can't get there that fast. If the POL doesn't want to fight, you have have to force it to save the CLH, or force it towards a corner of the fixed map, and while possible, that's not something I normally think in terms of (I tend to prefer floating).
- [+] Dice rolls
My ongoing F&E game with Byron continues to go slow; both of us have delays, though I'll admit to being the bigger source of them.
The overall Alliance economy grew 32EPs this turn (after exhaustion effects. The Kzinti capital came out from devastation to pump another 13 points into their economy (before exhaustion), the Federation is still liberating their territory and picked up 23 points, and the Gorns picked up a province. The Hydrans lost a point, but the situation there is becoming more and more untenable for the Coalition there, and there is now a Hydran BATS over the capital.
Federation: DVL, BC, TG, NCA, 10xNCL, NVH, NSC, 3xDW, 2xDWA, 5xFF, 4xFFE, NCL->NSC
Kzinti: CV, NCA, 2xCM, MEC, 3xDW, 4xFKE, CV->CVH
Gorn: DNH, BC, CMV, HD, TG, LTT, BDE, 4xDD, CL->CLE
Hydran: LGE, RN, MKE, DWE, 3xCU, PGC, PDU
Despite having a couple B10s available, the heavy ship situation is sliding away from me with Byron building two excellent heavy raiders, and the Gorns already having their DNH. He's also getting into heavy fighters, though I have a few of those already thanks to the Lyran CSV.
The Hydrans moved the LGE and new PGC into the Raid Pool and concentrated on picking off garrisons in their space, killing a LTS, crippled F5, and F5S as well as disrupting a Lyran province. The Kzinti disrupted one Lyran province, one Klingon province as well as hitting a Lyran-held Kzinti province and killed a Lyran DW garrisoning Kzinti space. The Federation put the DVL into the Pool and hit three garrisons in their space and disrupted three Klingon provinces. The Gorns hit two ships in their space (one of which evaded, and the other was lost), and two more in Federation space. A DNL took a lucky hit from the Klingons to be crippled, while a WE reacted out of a Federation Raid to a Gorn one (targeting a SNB), the WE then evaded, but the SNB failed its cloak roll and was killed.
There is always some gratification in seeing a fair number of crippled enemy ships heading out of your space for repairs; sadly he has the money and facilities to make sure they return while I continue to struggle with my backlog. And another note to show how things are going is that Byron moved the Kzinti FRD in the Barony into the capital.
The Hydran fleet moved out to Klingon space, overwhelming my remaining pinning forces again, and hit the next BATS in line. The Kzinti mostly occupied themselves fighting in their own space on the supply line to 1407, but also sent a fleet back to the Klingon capital. Meanwhile, Federation moves concentrated in southern Klingon space, largely going after my depot in 2014 (original Klingon border BATS + Lyran BATS + auxiliaries), as well as the minor planet in 2216.
On the Romulan border, Federation forces shifted back northward (not everything shifted, but there were no offensives in the SW 'wing' of Romulan space), putting a large number of ships on the two Federation planets just within their border. The Gorns tried to draw the Romulans out with moves that stopped just short of the border. One happened late, and landed on the NZ planet with intent to take it, so I reacted out to defend it. Over in the east, he pinned a force on the last BATS in line while moving a fleet unopposed to the 4812 SB.Hydran theater.Kzinti theater.Klingon theater.Romulan theater.
While the Romulan priority has been to try and hold on to the planets at the corner of Federation space, the SB trumps that and two reserves went there, leaving only one to go to 3711. Similarly, two Klingon reserves went to their capital to try and keep the Kzinti out while the mess there is cleaned up. A Klingon and Lyran reserve went to save 1506, and one Lyran reserve was out of range of all combat (the third one was already at the Klingon capital).
1505: SSC: Klingon: dest F5L
2515: SSC: Klingon retreat
3514: SSC: Romulan withdrawl + cloaked evasion
4009: Romulan: dest SN
1013: Klingon: dest F5; Hydran: dest CU
1214: Klingon: dest BATS, 2xcripF5
0916: Lyran: crip CW, DWG, FF; Hydran: dest CU
0816: Klingon: dest E4; Hydran: dest DG
1404: Lyran: dest DWS
1506: Lyran: dest FF; Kzinti: dest EFF
1411: Klingon: crip F5E; Kzinti: dest FFK
2216: Klingon: dest 2xPDU; planet captured
2213: Klingon: dest cripF5
2014: Klingon: dest BATS, LAV, 2xFTL, crip AD5, E4A, capture NCL; Lyran: dest BATS; Federation: dest NCL
2114: Klingon: dest D6; Gorn: crip CMC, capture D6
1914: Klingon: dest D7; Federation: dest FFE, crip FF
3515: Romulan: crip SKE; Federation: dest FF
3612: Romulan: dest KE; planet captured
3711: Romulan: dest NH, KRC, KE, 2xSP, SKE, 3xSN, crip SPB, SPM, SK; Federation: dest CF, crip 2xCA, 5xNCL, DW, DWA, FFB, FFE, planet recaptured; Gorn: dest DD, crip CLE, COM, 2xBD
4309: Romulan: dest SKG; Federation: dest 2xNCL
4710: Retreat after refused approach
4809: Romulan: dest CE
4812: Retreat after refused approach
The Gorns tried to pick off a pair of D5s in 2515 with a HD, BD, BDS squadron (giving me a -4 disadvantage in SSC), but the Gorns were way too overconfident ('2' on 2d6...) so the Klingons pulled out with no damage to find a better day to die.
Mostly the Hydran front was a bunch of walk overs where they sacrificed frigates (often with half their line consisting of such, including one ad hoced into the outer escort slot of a carrier) for better damage, but in 0816 a good Klingon force, good die rolls and a heavy EW advantage allowed me to kill a cruiser.
The Alliance's return visit to the Klingon capital took some thought. My reserves plus BG Harbinger was a good force, but the Kzinti fleet was also large (though bulked out with FFs) with good fighter reserves. I eventually decided to accept approach and try to do some damage before he came in to finish off the crippled secondary SB. I managed a denser line (B10V Insatiable was a big help), and a 1-5 split on the die rolls allowed me to do twice as much damage, and the Kzinti left. With my denser line, I had an advantage on approach, I had a D5M to kill ships, and if it went the full three rounds of approach, the Kzinti force wouldn't be very effective when he finally got to the defenses.
Klingon infrastructure continues to collapse with the Federation taking a planet in the southern Empire, and the loss of the dual BATS (Klingon/Lyran) in 2014. I still had a number of auxiliaries staged there and lost them all for little more than fighters. I did have enough to direct on an NCL the first round, and a lucky '2' captured it, and it survived pursuit. In the next battle, the Gorns returned the favor to capture a D6. Byron isn't too big on using captured ships (...and he is building enough already), so he may scrap it. Certainly the expense of turning it into something good like a D6S seems a bit excessive.
The Romulans aren't entirely out of Federation space yet, but Byron did a good job getting them off of the two planets there. I had a single small line at 3612, and retreated out rather than see half of it crippled, giving up a KE in the process (I had hoped to evade out, but the VUL failed on the first roll). The combined Fed/Gorn fleet over 3711 was a lot bigger than mine, though my fighter reserve was a little bigger. I stuck it out a few rounds, forcing him to take decent casualties with overall good rolls, while losing ships to the DNT. Byron crippled an entire SPB group on the first round, which gave me a real problem as it was going to be vulnerable in a retreat. Stuffing a BHF into the group and going for -3 leftover points helped, but I did also run him out of a lot of ships including parts of his carrier groups and all the fighters.
Meanwhile, in 4309 we had a round of combat that neither of us wanted over the neutral planet in the Gorn-Rom NZ. Byron was going to retreat out after offering approach, but I didn't want him stripping the defense PDUs to make seizing it easier later, so I accepted. I certainly came out ahead, but the Romulan navy is still feeling a bit fragile.
Coalition: 381.3 EP (x2) + 520 (bases) + 795 ships (/5)=1600.6
Alliance: 446.4 EP (x2) + 445 (bases) + 860 ships (/5)=1681.8
So not only has the tide turned, but the Alliance is now officially winning on VPs, much earlier than I had expected. This is a combination of the Coalition economy contracting at a furious pace, and the Alliance picking up about 100 VPs. Most of that is also the economy, and the fact that most of that is the unreduced Federation economy just makes it worse. Overall, my ship count is almost exactly the same as last turn, but the Romulans lost 8 ships overall, which was made up for by the Lyrans having a quiet turn. The Alliance has picked up 45 ships overall; more or less spread around, though the Federation alone is up by 23.
The good news is that I had no real disasters this time. Losing the double-BATS at 2014 for relatively cheap hurts some, but it was certainly an important target, and I do have bigger worries. I'm more surprised that the Kzinti did not spend any real effort trying to take half their space back from the Lyrans, or that if they were going to to go for the Klingon capital again, that there was no Federation help.
- [+] Dice rolls
A couple weeks ago, Mark came over for a day of SFB. I was originally hoping to squeeze in two small scenarios, but the first one turned out to be slightly bigger than we thought, and we needed to do a fairly thorough rules review first. We had a fairly long talk about all sorts of things afterward; there's lot for us to catch up on.
Module M expands the boarding party combat system in a number of ways, including a proper abstract system for combat on a planetary surface. To my surprise, a couple years back, Mark expressed interest in the scenario provided to showcase those rules. The Kzinti are besieging a Klingon-held planet, and are making one final push to take it. Normally, they could just slowly grind their way in, but previous assaults have failed, and a Klingon fleet is approaching to retake the system at large. As such, there is only ground combat. As that (and regular boarding party combat) only happens at the end of the turn, the entire impulse procedure is skipped, and instead there's an abbreviated sequence where the Kzinti move around their troops, then the Klingons can move theirs, and then it's time for the combat.
The general structure of ground combat is that each hexside of the planet (which ordinarily fills one SFB hex) is a separate 'combat location' (this ties into the normal ground base rules, where they are set up on particular hexsides). Each of those has three 'control stations', and, if it's a defended planet (as opposed to the 'defender' having beamed down just before you did), each of those has two defense systems. The control stations act a bit like the control systems on a ship; you can give them up instead of casualties (two casualties instead for a single station), and the other side can force the issue by expending four casualties they generated. Having at least two of the control stations generates a bonus in combat, and the defense systems have to be knocked out first, and they act as a pair of extra boarding parties (each).
It should be noted that despite the details, it all abstracts down to strength points. Ground combat uses the exact same boarding party combat results table, which is purely a 'fire' table, no odds, or anything like that are looked at. Shuttles can transport troops, and support the fighting directly, where they provide two extra strength points, and take two hits to kill (this translates to three of the normal combat hit points per ground combat hit; the Ground Attack Shuttle counts as four boarding parties, and its better armor only takes two hit points per ground combat hit, causing it to need to take four hits...). There's a whole bunch of other types of troops and shuttles that boil down the same way; in fact the other types of 'boarding parties' generally act the same as regular ones here, as the bonuses are just better results tables on specialized actions.
The Klingons are defending with 25 boarding parties per side of the planet, while the Kzinti have 200 boarding parties, and good mobility. Even with the single admin shuttle and GAS the Klingons have per side of the planet (which can move one hexside per turn while staying immune to fire from the ships up in orbit) adding another six effective BPs, it looks pretty grim. However, those six defense stations add another 12, which means the base setup is 25+6+12=43 equivalent BPs, and the scenario defines that only up to 50 strength can be used in any one location per turn. The Klingons also have a set of two tanks and four ground combat vehicles in one location.
I ended up taking the Kzinti, who can move 20 BPs per turn by transporters (more at the non-combat rate, which means they're nothing more than targets on the turn of arrival, but with the 'remote area' rules, it could have been worthwhile, as Mark would have to go hunting for them first), and have 12 admin shuttles and 16 GAS for 'airlift' and fire support. We pencil and papered everything with notes except the shuttles (and I found that a helpful planetary combat diagram had been printed in Captain's Log #17 a week later...), which we used counters for, and its been long enough that I don't have the best recollection of the sequence of events.
I started by organizing some of my shuttles into flights of one Admin and two GAS (which is 12 strength with the shuttles loaded with boarding parties), and put a set above each of three areas (with the hexsides labeled by the usual directional nomenclature of SFB, so that A-F are the six sides going clockwise around the planet; I put shuttles over B, C, and D, while the main Klingon defense was a A), and transported 20 boarding parties directly to C.
It was while we were working things out that we remembered the extra 12 strength from the defenses, and we realized this was indeed not going to a walkover. ...And I lost most of the initial party, for doing minimal damage. Though I did kill an Admin shuttle. In fact, that was a part of my early strategy. I spent 4 points to kill Admin shuttles, mostly to limit his mobility, so I had a better chance to isolate areas and pound them later. I'm not sure if it was worth it as opposed to just trying to burn out his defenses, but I don't think it hurt too much in the long run either.
Mark had adjusted some of his defenses too, so on turn 2 I aborted my landing at B, but kept the shuttles there, while sending out a second wave there and elsewhere, and of course sent more troops in. With a lot more on the ground, things started going better, and I really started straining Mark's defense of C. (I think I killed another shuttle or two.) After that, my pressure on him steadily mounted, with Mark taking a lot of damage on his various shuttles as combat raged across half the planet with my forces landing with more troops beaming down directly every turn. Mark just took partial damage on the shuttles, leaving them fragile, but still worth the same amount offensively.
I got lucky with two turns of relatively bad die rolls from Mark. However, the casualties in my troops were mounting quickly. In B, where there was some heavy fighting, I eventually pulled out (even beaming ten boarding parties back to orbit while the shuttles took off with the rest) and transferred over to C while grimly hanging on in D. I'd damaged some of my shuttles in this process, but mostly took it on my boarding parties so as to preserve my ability to move. In the end, Mark lost most of his assets, while I kept my shuttles, but the cost was high.
Once the defense finally cracked, I shifted back to B and mopped up in D while leaving a garrison in C. Eventually it went to a minimal 3 boarding parties (needed to hold the three control stations), but as the Klingons move last, I needed to avoid him moving in behind me. D, and then B fell, and I massed to take out E. With a better idea of what I was doing, and a lot of Klingon shuttles dead, I took it... and then declared the scenario over as a draw. I could defend against the limited Klingon ability to make counterattacks, but I'd taken 172 casualties, leaving me with 28 boarding parties to do that and then press on to F (avoiding all the nice tanks and armored cars in A). With all the shuttle cover, I probably could have taken F and held everything. By the victory conditions, the Klingons holding 5-10 control stations (with three per location) is a draw. If I took F, that'd get the Klingons down to three, and a Kzinti victory, but nearly 75% losses, and the prospect of losing most of my shuttles (which were all damaged) in the assault took the heart out of me.
Obviously, I could have planned and executed the invasion better. Probably transporting to a remote area at the non-combat rate on the first turn would have been better, even with some losses from patrols. Then a few shuttles could join them, and I'd hit the max of 50 in an area easy. I also parcelled the shuttles out over several turn instead of just putting everything out at the beginning. It did leave some much-needed flexibility, but threatening to swamp another area or two with a massive shuttle landing would keep him pinned down.
Looking at the tactics section now, there's some interesting notes. Mark basically fought to the last man, keeping the defenses intact until there was no other choice. Preserving a few boarding parties by running for the remote areas has possibilities (that we didn't even think of). I'll loose a few less men, as the combat breaks off a round early, but then I have to send out teams to hunt them down before I can strip the place to a minimal garrison, which keeps me distracted while working on the other locations.
At any rate, neither of us expected much from the scenario, but it definitely made us think, and got us very familiar with the ground combat section procedures. I wish there was another scenario or two like this (maybe not entirely focused on the surface) that used a greater variety of equipment. There's several shuttle types presented in Module M, but all you have here are normal Administrative shuttle and the GAS.
- [+] Dice rolls
After the disaster and near-ending of the game last turn, this has slipped far down the priority list, but the game does continue. Bryon (and I, to be honest) is hoping we can get this to the introduction of PFs, which is getting close.
Income took a fairly deep cut this time, with the Klingons losing about 25 EP, and the Romulans down another 6. The Lyrans were up 1.3 EP due to a lack of raids into their space, for a total contraction of 30.7 EP (all before exhaustion), for a total income of 285.975 EP after exhaustion. Unlike last turn, I actually mostly prioritized new ships, planning to return to an emphasis on repairs next time.
Klingon: B10, C7, D7, D5W, 5xD5, 2xAD5, F6, 2xFWE, 3xF5, F5J, B10->B10V
Romulan: NH, FHF, 4xSP, SPM, 3xSK, SEH, WE, [BC]->G-BC, WE->KE, SP->SPM, SK->SKE
Lyran: DN, TGP, NCA, CW, CSV, CWE, DW, 3xDWE, 3xFF, FRD, FTM
The Klingons cancelled their C8 for an extra roll on B10-3 (which got 5 & 1...) and it is now a couple turns from completion (34 points), while B10-2 Insatiable finished, and was converted to a B10V. Meanwhile, a D7 was substituted out for the first C7, starting the overall trend to bigger cruisers with CR 10. The Lyrans built a second scout-carrier, but the Romulans still need to find hulls and budget for their free fighters (another CNV would be nice, if expensive).
Both the Klingons and Romulans put a war cruiser into the the Raid Pool. Overall, raids did not go well. No raiders were damaged, much less destroyed, but called up POLs still managed to cause most of them to retreat. The Lyrans hit Kzinti space with both of their raids, and succeeded with one. All four Klingon raiders and three Romulans went for Federation space, and destroyed one FF, while disrupting three provinces. The SHR went after the Fed LTT in Gorn space again, along with another raider in Gorn space, but neither got anywhere.
The Klingons have a major cripple backlog to take care of, and the Romulans have a few more cripples than I'd like, so it was decided to keep their operations fairly minimal. The Lyrans meanwhile have worked through just about all their cripples, and went on the offensive, working to take a decent chunk of Kzinti space to force them off of an offensive deeper into Klingon space. Elsewhere, the Lyrans were limited to moving back towards supply, now that their grid in Klingon space had collapsed. The Romulans did a limited offensive, pinning a Federation reserve, while trying to retake some of their captured planets.Lyran offensives.Romulan counteroffensives.
The Federation only could move two reserves, and only used a couple ships from them, keeping me from taking 2106, and interfering with a Romulan sweep of ships out their space (I'd lost track of the fact that there was a reserve in range), while the Kzinti reserves went to the small fight in 1505.
3318: SSC: Federation: crip FF
1410: SSC: Federation dest cripFF
2106: SSC: Klingon: dest 2xF5
1202: Kzinti: dest POL
1101: Kzinti: dest POL
0801: SSC: Kzinti: dest POL
1003: SSC: Kzinti: dest POL
1504: Retreat after denied approach
1505: Kzinti: dest CM, 2xDW; Klingon: dest E4A
3415: Federation: dest DWA, DE; Romulan: dest 2xSK, crip KE
3612: Romulan: crip WE, capture planet
3509: Federation: crip NCL, FF; Gorn: dest BDE; Romulan: dest VUL, K7R, crip 2xSK
Byron had left a single crippled Federation FF next to the Klingon capital, and I sent out a couple of cripples to finish it off, and retrograde back home. About a day later I remembered that the Federation 2nd Reserve was in range of the fight if he wanted to give me a big problem (...and himself a logistical problem), but the 2nd sent a CA and FFS to save 2106 instead, and my F5Ls took care of the intruder with no problem. The latter fight rolled 4 vs 11 in SSC, and I figure the Fed squadron just did a textbook Kaufman Retrograde to the poor F5s.
Part of the plan was to get the Kzinti Earl's and Duke's fleets on 1407 out of supply, and limit his options next turn. The reserves into 1505 threatened that, but I managed to retreat off of there (taking the planet, even temporarily would have been a good bonus, but not why I was there) onto the reserves, which weren't very big, and took losses trying to stand up to a full line.
Sadly, after all of this, the main plan failed, as I hadn't realized the Kzinti had one more POL to call up, which can restore supply to 1407 after a lot of effort to cut it off. If I'd actually taken 1504, it would have still worked, and I might have been able to do that, at a cost of notably more casualties, and probably fewer Kzinti casualties.
- [+] Dice rolls
Patch and I recently finished off a try at this old scenario (I think it's from the original pocket edition) in the Basic Set. It has some of the 'feel' of the Original Series adventures, and is a neat premise:
In Y160 a massive meteor was spotted headed for the industrial colony on Pollux IX. The Federation heavy cruiser Kongo, under the command of Captain Phillip Kosnett, was dispatched to avert the disaster. When Kongo arrived on the scene, however, Kosnett discovered that a Klingon frigate was shepherding the meteor.
The meteor starts 10 hexes away from the planet (and moves on the first impulse of every turn, so it's about nine turns away), with the F5 Khedive next to it, and Kongo 22 hexes from them. The asteroid can be towed by a ship facing away from it and tractoring it for 16 impulses (...speed does not matter). Victory is purely by how close to the planet the asteroid gets to the planet, with even two hexes being a danger as small fragments will still hit the colony, killing a tenth of the inhabitants, and causing a draw. The asteroid can be 'destroyed' (broken up into pieces by 400 points of damage), which does not affect the ability to tow it, and does make it less dangerous to the planet.
We had to have a bit of discussion about the MacGuffin, as while the scenario quite clearly calls it a 'large asteroid', it doesn't call out that section of the rules (which I hadn't known of, I remembered the general asteroid field rules, and the small moon rules...), and defines that it will destroy any unit in a hex the asteroid enters. Large asteroids don't prevent ships from entering its hex (and they can even land on it), or block fire, or anything you might expect of something large enough to crush whatever is in a hex 10,000 kilometers across. We did go with the large asteroid rules, and drop the normal asteroid 'dodge' rules as it is supposed to be a singular object instead of a debris field. It's one place where clearer instructions would help.
Patch volunteered to take the F5, and a few impulses in realized just what he was in for. (I had expected he'd stick me with figuring it out.) He went a reasonable speed of 16, while I went 18 to get near the asteroid on the first turn. The CA is at WS-2, or the second turn of arming of photons, and I fully overloaded one, while keeping the others standard, while the F5 is at WS-1 and had to charge up phasers, and it also put up 2 points of ECM to discourage longer-range shots.
On the first impulse, the asteroid moved, and Patch lowered shield #1 to put a transporter bomb in front of the meteor. This did change my initial approach plan, but we both commented later that while a great opener, a second mine behind the asteroid would have been much better, and forced more maneuvering from me (as it was, I just sideslipped enough to bring me around behind the meteor). As I headed in, the F5 got underway, and did a clockwise loop that ended with the disruptors out of arc until he turned directly in on Impulse 26, with the range 15 and closing. Patch fired at that point, hitting with one disruptor on shield #1, and we finished the turn at range 11.
Only being three hexes from the meteor, I slowed to speed 10, charged up a tractor beam, partially overloaded a second torpedo, set one for proximity fuse, and held a HET in reserve in case Patch got too close. Patch stayed at 16, and dropped all EW while I put up 6 ECM. Patch turned away on Impulse 2, and on Impulse 4, with him about to go out of arc, I hit him with the prox photon on the #3 shield. Patch then increased his ECM to 1, presumably to discourage any more of that....
On Impulse 13, I slipped in ahead of the asteroid, and attached the tractor beam. On 16 Patch started combing back in for a run at my rear, and I launched a shuttle to provide some cover and/or drone defense. On 20, Patch fired his overloaded disruptors at range 8 as he was about to go out of arc again; thanks to my ECM shift, only one hit on shield #3, partially countered by the one point of reinforcement I'd afforded there. On 26, he turned directly in, launched a drone the following impulse, and my towing took effect on 29 to get it out of line of a direct impact with the planet.Turn 2, Impulse 4, showing movement throughout the turn.
For the third turn, I kept up the tractor while still paying for speed 10 and an HET, and 5 ECM with 1 ECCM which left very little power for everything else. I finished overloading the second photon, and started reloading tube D, and had to pay a half point out of batteries to balance it all. Meanwhile, Patch's F5 dropped to speed 14 and didn't bother with EW.
I launched a second covering shuttle on Impulse 4 as Patch continued to come in. The first shuttle fired at the drone, but only did three points on a bad shot. Patch came in with a second drone following, and the second shuttle fired at him on 14, doing 2 points to #4 on another bad roll at range 2. On 16, the F5 passed directly behind the CA on the oblique, and unloaded it's best shot at range 1: with the +2 shift, one disruptor missed, and the five phasers did 18 damage, I blew the remaining batteries to take five internals, which knocked out two phasers and one power. I had fired back with two of the side phasers to do 11 to his #2, and the other two were used to shoot down the second drone and finish off the first one; which thankfully weren't Type-Vs. (Patch pointed out that it's really rough to take two-space drones when you only have one four-space rack.)
I seriously contemplated cutting the tractor as he came out of his pass, and burning the HET to pump three photons (two overloads) and two phaser 1s into a rear shield at point blank range (it was, after all, the general plan of all those expenditures), but I'd already had the second towing move, and the third one would come up before the end of the turn, and the F5 was empty. So, I stuck it out, got the third hex, which pulls the asteroid completely out of range on Impulse 29, and Patch basically conceded at the end of the turn.
With the asteroid out of the way, I could basically go slow near it, and keep myself pointed at the F5. It would get pounded if it tried to tow the asteroid back into range. I could have pounded him during turn 3, but sticking with the asteroid meant I didn't need to go back to it later.
There were a few more options that Patch had: He could have put another TB into where I'd go when I towed, he could have powered up a suicide shuttle (though he was probably a bit thin on power) and launched it during his pass. I wasn't going anywhere, and it'd absorb even more of my fire. A scatterpack could have been interesting... but Patch still needs to get Advanced Missions.
I knew it was going to be an odd match, and wasn't sure how it would play out. One thing I finally realized is that it was written back when plotted movement was the norm, and that could give the F5 the edge it needs here. Even with plotting, the F5 knows where the CA is going eventually; the CA has fewer guarantees about the F5.
There seems to be a habit of not going back and really reexamining older scenarios when republished in later editions. Along with plotting, it looks like this was written before 'speed is life' became a real mantra, and it's expected that things will proceed more slowly. Also, the asteroid really needs more clarifications in the rules. I've got a few ideas on how this scenario could be refitted, though I don't have any idea how balanced any of it might be.
First, I think the variation in SH3.62 might work a lot better. Adding a CL and D6 to the mix could be very interesting. It evens the firepower out a lot, and more importantly, the D6 and F5 can threaten to try and dodge around one Federation ship to get at whichever one's towing.
Second, it's too easy for the CA to park next to the asteroid and just put everything into reinforcement for a turn or two. I deliberately didn't do this, and kept to speed 10, but there was no reason go even that fast on Turn 3. It gets even worse if you use mid-turn speed changes to slow down right as you get to the asteroid, and speed up when it's time to break the tractor. My thought is instead of spending sixteen impulses towing, you must spend so many movement points (calculated off of Practical Speed) to move the asteroid one hex. This could allow faster towing, though getting a CA to go really fast takes some doing, and possibly means cutting power elsewhere. Eight movement seems like a likely base figure to try, since that means speed 16 for the same rate as the original, though if you're using mid-turns speed changes, it should definitely be something like 10 movement. (This could also be translated into energy expended if you want to make it harder for the F5 to tow back, or to make the CA and D6 the obvious towing candidates in the four-ship version.)
Lastly, this seems like a perfect situation to give the Federation some firing restrictions. Chasing down the F5, blowing it up, and then towing the asteroid out shouldn't be too hard (it is a fixed map), but it's not very Star Fleet. There's already a rule that the Klingon captain can claim "it was all a horrible mistake", and all combat halts. A simple solution would just be to use the Non-Violent Combat system (D6.4), which would allow the F5 to feel safer about losing a shield or two. (We've had a scenario where it was used once, and small ships can generally not worry about the big CA too much.) A more custom rule could be interesting though: Don't fire unless the Klingon has. Don't fire anything that could cause internals (on best rolls) unless the Klingon has done internals.
- [+] Dice rolls