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SL327 Encounter at Taratok

James Lowry
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Sunnyvale
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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Afterword

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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Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:00 pm
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T3 The Lone Gray Wolf Y160 S4

James Lowry
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Sunnyvale
California
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[Scenarios 1 & 2]
[Scenario 3]

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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.
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Sat Mar 6, 2021 6:00 pm
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T3 The Lone Gray Wolf Y160 S3

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Microbadge: Star Fleet Battles fanMicrobadge: Fascinating!Microbadge: Legendary Monthly Video Game Geek Review Contest winnerMicrobadge: KHAAAAAAANNNN!!!!!Microbadge: ASL fan
[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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Wed Dec 2, 2020 8:23 pm
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SG33 Treasure Ship

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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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.

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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.

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Afterword

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.
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Wed Sep 23, 2020 8:52 pm
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T3 The Lone Gray Wolf Y160 S1-S2

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Tue Sep 8, 2020 5:38 pm
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SH76 Quarantine

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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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).
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Mon Mar 2, 2020 7:19 pm
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SH176 Kobol's Rock

James Lowry
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Sunnyvale
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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.
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Fri May 3, 2019 9:38 pm
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SH3 The Coming of the Meteor

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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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.

External image
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.

Afterword

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.

Suggestions:

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.
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Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:20 pm
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SM3 The Moray Eel of Space

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Since I was still in an SFB mood after finishing "Border Incident" with Patch, I soloed my way through the third monster scenario during January as part of my Y160 games. Having just played the Romulans in KRs, and realizing I hadn't played as the Klingons in a while, I took the D7 for this scenario.

The Moray Eel is the first monster not directly inspired by a TOS episode, though it is definitely a graduate course for the Planet Crusher. While there is an optional variant to use information gathering, the scenario is geared around combat to defeat a monster that is headed for an inhabited planet. It doesn't do nearly as much damage as the previous monsters (5-10 points per 'bite'), but is much nastier as it ignores shields, meaning that every attack is doing internals, and suffering too many attacks will destroy the ship in short order. The real twist is that the Eel only attacks after being damaged. After any impulse where it receives damage, it moves to the offender's hex (instantly, even if that's several hexes away) and bites that unit. If there's several ships, and they all do damage at the same time, it moves to each of these hexes, and bites them all, in a random order, in a 'biting frenzy'.

The eel is 100 hexes from it's goal, and moves straight towards it at speed 12 (making it the fastest monster so far), which not distracted by a ship. It apparently used to follow close-by ships, akin to the Planet Crusher, but that was removed in Captain's Edition to keep the time pressure up. Defeating it is also a problem, as the ship has to do 200 points of damage (reduced to 193 here for BPV balance), after which there is a die roll for each separate volley (which will involve a bite) that does 10 points of damage (9 after balancing), and the Eel is killed on a '1'. And as usual with these scenarios, the monster can't be fired on from outside a six-hex range, and it has MCIDS to deal with shuttles and drones.

The D7 started 15 hexes away from the Eel in the direction of the planet, and I overloaded all four disruptors as part of a turn 1 alpha strike overrun to do as much damage as possible. I lined up an oblique shot for maximum firepower, and launched a drone as it entered my hex, which was instantly shot down by MCIDS.

One of the tricks with the Eel is to fire at range, and force it to move away from the planet, which is hard to do with the initial approach, especially as I went for a range-0 shot. But I fired just as we were both scheduled to move, so that it moved a hex further away following me, and it gave up its normal move to do it. The phasers rolled a little under average for a total of 77 damage (with 4 disruptors auto-hitting to do 40 of that), and the eel did a minimal 5 points to destroy one phaser and two warp.

For turn 2, I reduced speed from 12 to 9, so that the Eel could get a little in front of me, and be drawn back by my next volley of fire. I fired on Impulse 21 at range 4, hitting with two disruptors and doing three points with the boom phasers (everything else being out of arc) for a running total of 96 damage. The next Impulse, the Eel moved to the D7 and bit for 9 damage, knocking out one drone rack, a phaser, two warp power, and one battery after finishing off the forward hull. The D7 launched a drone from the remaining rack, and MCIDS missed allowing it to hit for 12 more damage the next impulse to bring the total up to 108.

External image
Turn 1, Impulse 24, showing movement from Impulse 23 through Turn 2, Impulse 22. The paler arrows are the Eel's movement to bite.

The D7 repaired the first destroyed phaser as of the end of Turn 2, and increased speed to 13 to get another close-range oblique shot. The Eel was sideslipping back to its original course (part of the robot rules), which meant the D7 was drawing slightly 'ahead' of it to make this maneuver, but the low speed differential meant it took most of the turn to pull off. The D7 launched another drone as they met at range 0 again, but MCIDS shot it down. On Impulse 31, the D7 fired all bearing weapons to do 40 with overloaded disruptor auto-hits, and the maximum 30 points from 5 phaser-2s for a grand total of 178 damage. On 32, the D7 sideslipped away, and the Eel followed to do 8 damage to take out another phaser, the remaining drone rack, two more warp, the remaining two batteries, and a shuttle. At the end of the turn, the second damaged phaser was repaired.

External image
Turn 3, Impulse 31, showing movement from 25 to 32.

With power continuously dropping, the D7 only went speed 8 for Turn 4, while it prepared to do the last 15 points needed before it started rolling for destroying the Eel. On Impulse 7, the phasers cleared, and the D7 fired four of them at range 1 to do 17 points on poor rolls (grand total 195). On Impulse 8 the bite did 10 points to destroy two phasers, two more warp power, the remaining shuttle, an impulse, and an APR. The D7 turned and moved back into the Eel's hex after it sideslipped out, and fired an overloaded disruptor on 13 to do 10 points and force a roll to kill the Eel, which failed with a 5. The next impulse, the Eel bit instead of moving, doing 10 damage, which destroyed three phasers, 2 warp power, 1 impulse and 1 APR.

The D7 tried another disruptor on Impulse 15, rolling a '3' for destruction. On 16 it slipped away from the planet, drawing the Eel after it, which did 7 points to take out a disruptor, one warp power, and two impulse. On 18 the D7 fired a boom and waist phaser at the Eel to do 10 points, and rolled a '1' to destroy the Eel!

The 1/6 chance of killing the Eel each time probably makes the end of many plays of this a bit exciting. Certainly the D7 was well through a lot of padding, and was down to 23 power at the time the Eel expired, and that was only on the third attempt. I was very lucky that I didn't take any 'torpedo' hits until the very end, and had two more of those left to try once the D7 was facing it again. In addition to the more important systems listed above, the D7 had lost its bridge (but not any other control spaces), most of the lab, one tractor, and one transporter. Damage was getting up to about column F of the DAC, and another couple of strong damage rolls from the Eel would have been big trouble, with 7's headed for the 'phaser' and 'any warp' entries.

The purely deterministic movement makes it less of a maneuvering challenge, though the higher speed adds some interest back there. The tactics section in the rules mentions dragging it away from the planet by firing, but doesn't mention the fact that you can scrub little bits of movement off just by timing shots around when you are about to move (so you can move even further away), or especially when the Moray Eel is about to move (so it doesn't move closer to the planet). This is a more interesting and challenging scenario than the previous two simply because the ship will take internals every time it fires, and you have to figure out how to survive the consequences long enough to play the odds.
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Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:52 am
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SH53 Border Incident

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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After our last big game, Patch suggested we do an SFB game next. After rooting around in the scenarios for our current year (Y160) a little, we decided upon "Border Incident", a scenario originally meant to showcase a miniatures boxed set, and featuring the new Romulan KR ships.

The Romulans created an incident designed to test their new ships in battle—a battle balanced well in their favor. An old "Warbird" ship attacked a Federation outpost and then fled into the Neutral Zone, drawing a Federation CA after it. The new Romulan ships Proconsul and Tribune were waiting in ambush, and the first test of these ships seemed well under control. Unfortunately for the Romulans, it did not go according to plan.

The scenario starts with the CA closing in on the WB+, with a KR and K5R showing up on turn 3. A Gorn CL shows up to help the CA on turn 4. Patch volunteered to take the 'allies' in the scenario, so he wouldn't have to worry about reading the cloaking rules in detail (only the WB+ cloaks, the KRs don't have them for this scenario), but ran into trouble. A 50-point plasma torpedo requires a lot of respect, but I don't think he really comprehended just how limited a sublight ship is even with cloaking reducing damage. The WB has three choices, move one hex on impulse 32, do one impulse tactical move (turn) anytime from Impulse 2 on, or spend no energy, and get one free turn in place on impulse 32. This means where it is is a given, and only facing could be variable. With the WB+ facing away from the CA at start, staying out of arc of the Pl-R on approach is easy.

Studying the situation again now, I'd go speed 21 (the WB+ is 20 hexes away) to get into its hex on impulse 31. Assuming the WB+ goes, and stays, cloaked for this, 6xPh-1 at effective range 5 should do 12 points of damage (after reduction from cloaking effects). The Photons should be half full overload, and half standard (all allowed as prior arming for WS-III; no further overloading is done for flexibility and lack of energy), and then reserve power dumped into the photons to overload them for the point-blank shot. And that's where this plan is iffy, since there's a decent chance that all four will miss (1:16), but with full reserve power put in, there should be 2x16 and 2x12 point shots, and lucky rolls will easily kill the WB+ (average looks to be ~16, for a total of 28, or not enough to get through the armor, more's the pity). No matter what happens (well, other than the WB+ blowing up), on impulse 32 watch the WB+ move first (if it didn't Tac), and move into a hex it's not in. On turn 2, go speed 4 and launch a Wild Weasel while reinforcing the shield facing the WB+. The WB+ probably started decloaking on Impulse 32, and fires (after Tacing to face the CA) on Impulse 5, and the WW moves on 6 before it impacts, so the only damage done will be from the phasers. If the WB+ doesn't launch the R, there's a problem, as you'll still be ~5 hexes away at the end of the turn, and limited to speed 14, with the KRs coming on.

And it's the KRs on turn 3 that keep this from being a walkover. With one more turn, the CA can counter anything the WB+ did to counter all of that, and two-three would allow another pass that can probably punch through whatever's left on the rear shield and do damage that it can't recover from. As it is, it should be noted that with 9 total power, shield damage is probably permanent, as there's not enough to regenerate them with (I'll note here we used the original Basic Set WB+, not the Y1 version with two more impulse power as the scenario was published ages before that came out).

As it was, I went speed 1 to get a little closer to where the KRs would show up, and Patch went speed 20, cautiously approaching from one side and behind. Not liking how things looked, Patch aborted the attack run on Turn 2, boosting speed to 22 and ejecting all four torpedoes to re-arm them as standard/proxes. He held to speed 22 on Turn 3, and I entered at the bottom right with the KR doing 21 and the K5R at 23. Patch basically went straight for the Gorn entry point, while I tried to close the distance. Towards the end of the turn, the CA started turning around, and hit the K5R with one out of two prox photons.

For Turn 4, the CA slowed to 21, with the just-arrived CL going 20, while both of the KRs went 23. The CL turned to parallel the CA for a bit, and then launched a plasma on impulse 8 before both ships turned off. I closed to range 15 on impulse 12, and bolted both plasmas... from the K5R at the CL. I'd been thinking that the K5R was like the Battle Hawk, and had a pair of Pl-G instead of Pl-F, and had even been allocating based on that. They both missed anyway (6s...), and I corrected the announcement later (including the fact that they couldn't have done damage), but if I'd realized at the time, I would have been bolting from the KR instead, as it also hit range 15, but I kept the heavier ship's weapons in reserve. I then turned the opposite way from Patch's ships, and headed for the WB+, which had long since been left behind.

On Turn 5, Patch's ships slowed to 17, while the K5R maintained 23, and the KR pushed up to speed 28. The WB+ dropped power to the cloak... and put it into tractor instead. On Impulse 18, I reached the location of the WB+, which tractored the KR, giving it a pseudo speed of 14 (and the WB+ stayed at one, since it had the only point of impulse power used for movement). For Turn 6, I stayed the same while Patch increased to speed 20 on both ships. Range between our groups was a bit over 30 hexes at this point, and Patch started a big circle with the likely intent to start getting behind the WB+, since even though the KR was keeping it part of the fight, it still only turns one hexside a turn. At the end of the turn, the CA hit 2-for-2 with prox photons at range 16 to do 8 damage to the K5R's #6. I burned 1 battery, since it's cheaper to recharge that than repair the box, and then ended up burning the other battery during Turn 7 EA as I didn't want it to slow down with a weak shield and Patch getting closer, and it was also on final turn of arming the two F-torps.

Everyone maintained speeds for turn 7, and the K5R launched two torps on Impulse 5, and then started turning off to get the weak shields away from him. Patch turned in, and launched a torp from the CL. On Impulse 10, the K5R fired the forward phasers at the CA, hitting with one to do two points to shield #6. After that, both sides widened the gap a bit to run out the plasmas. I was about ready for the WB+ to drop tractor so the KR could come to help the K5R, but it didn't quite come to that. I was at least expecting a few phaser shots at the weak rear shields of the K5R as it ran, but not even that happened.

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Turn 7, Impulse 7, showing movement from Impulse 1 to 24.

Everyone but the K5R maintained speed for turn 8, with it dropping to 21 as it started shield repairs. Patch's ships had gotten solidly on the left side of the KR by the end of the turn, and on Impulse 2, the CL fired the other plasma torpedo, which I'd expected to see during the main part of the pass (this was the first fire from the 'A' launcher, so it hadn't been loading last turn). With the K5R another 10 hexes away, and still headed away, it was time to clear for action. On impulse 3, The WB+ dropped the tractor beam holding down the KR and launched it's plasma-R torp. The next impulse, it started cloaking in case the G from the CL was headed for it, and the KR fired the boom phasers at the CL, doing 5 points to shield #5 with poor rolls. I ran out the plasma and started turning back towards where I'd left the WB+, the R caught up to Patch's ships a couple impulses later while still strength-20, where massed ph-1 fire with good rolls eliminated it on Impulse 26.

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Turn 8, Impulse 26, showing movement from Impulse 2 to 28.

For Turn 9, Patch's ships slowed to 16 and the KR dropped to 26 (to recharge phasers) while the K5R stayed at 21. The WB+ re-tractored the KR as it went past on Impulse 9. Patch turned to cross my path on Impulse 18. I was nicely bunched together, but of course the K5R was going faster, so it was doing lots of sideslipping to try and keep from getting too far out. To my surprise, instead of doing an oblique shot, he turned in directly on Impulse 30 at a range of 11 (from CA to K5R). The K5R ended up turning for an oblique shot on Impulse 32, with any plasmas (which would reload on Turn 10) forced to go a hex out of the way, and only the CL was in arc.

The WB+ dropped the tractor in EA, and got ready to fast-load the R as a plasma-F. The KR went 27 with everyone else staying at their previous speed. The K5R launched both Fs on Impulse 1, while the CL launched from his 'B' tube (which could only track the F5R), while the KR and K5R both launched a shuttle. On Impulse 2 the KR launched both of its torpedoes before turning off on Impulse 3, launched a second shuttle on 4, and then transported a TB between itself and Patch's ships on 5.

We'd had a nice clean game to this point, and suddenly it was messy.

On Impulse 6, Patch turned off the opposite way as me, bringing this pass to a close other than the in-flight plasmas. Patch opened fire on the Fs on Impulses 9 and 10, reducing them before hitting on Impulse 11 for 7 and 4 points on shield #6 of the CL. The two Gs from the KR were targeted on different ships (to keep from putting all my eggs in one basket), but moved together until near the very end, when Patch's ships moved indifferent directions, and one had to HET to target the CA. Both hit on Impulse 15 for 11 (after being fired on) on the CL's #4 and 15 on the CA's #5 (reduced by three for reinforcement). With it's cover scattered, and the CA headed somewhat towards it, the WB+ cloaked around this point. Despite the arcs, I had lost track of the fact that Patch's plasma had to be targeted on the K5R (between weeks), but sorted it out, and managed to get it to hit at the one-point bracket, where I found out it was a psuedo. The CA continued circling around the shuttles I'd launched, with the CL following a few hexes behind, and on Impulse 32, the closest one fired on the CA, but missed.

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Turn 10, Impulse 8, showing movement from Impulse 1 to 16.

Patch's ships stayed at speed 16 for Turn 11, while the KR, having to pay to load torpedoes for the first time, slowed to 25, and the K5R sped back up to 23. With my tubes empty, my plan was to circle around behind my mine and try to work my way back to the WB+ next turn and then line up for another moderate-range shot. The CA turned, presumably to head after the KRs, but his path would take him close to the WB+. After a little hesitation, I decided to uncloak and fire off the R, which would still barely be in arc when I finished. On Impulse 8, I was decloaked and both the WB+ and the CL launched a plasma. The shuttle fired again at this point to do 4 points to shield #4, while the WB fired the near-side phasers at range 4 for 9 points to #6 with good rolls. The CA turned in, and took the plasma on #6 to take 35 internals. This took out three phasers and a photon, as well as all the hull and batteries, which was more than I was expecting, though the 9 extra internals certainly helped some. Patch conceded the game at this point, though we worked out what his pass on the WB+ would be.

The CL retained lock-on when the WB+ recloaked, keeping the plasma torpedo active, which hit and did the full 20, followed by the B tube, which hit for half damage, cracking shield #1 and getting the armor. The CL's phasers did another 5 at point-blank after range and damage adjustments. The CA... had a problem. It turns out the photons were standard load, and with the batteries gone, they couldn't be overloaded for a point-blank shot. The three remaining phasers did 2 each after all the adjustments for another volley of 6. The WB+ was nearly crippled by losing the plasma torpedo and three phasers, making it effectively mission killed until the plasma tube could be repaired in some fashion (two turns just to bring it back as an F-torp, three for G, and five for R).

Even as it was, the CA could manage a range-2 shot (effective 9) into the down front shield, though it might not be worth it. Still one should hit, and that's probably 4 points (or 2, or 8). Or if you assume that Patch spent a point or two of battery before being hit, assuming he'd lose that much, that's two 10-point torpedoes at (effective) range 5. Or he could have just fired them as the WB+ cloaked out for an effective range 5-8 shot anyway, and not even have to worry about further reduction from cloaking effects, but that would have had to be on shield #6 instead of #1.

The scenario uses the Standard Victory Conditions, which gives me 4 VP for being under Patch's BPV (after adjusting the KR and K5R for not having cloaking devices), and then gives Patch 12 VP for me taking one TB on each ship:

Romulan Allied
Difference 4 0
Options 0 12
WB Damaged 4.5
KR 0
K5R 0
CA Disengaged 31.25
CL Disengaged 23
Total 58.25 16.5
353%


Decisive Romulan Victory

Afterword

If he'd had a Wild Weasel available, Patch could have even afforded to use that; take the WB+'s best shot while decelerating, and wait out the plasma. The KRs were far away and empty, so he'd be back up to speed before I could do a lot. But it was obvious that he hadn't gotten around to re-reading those rules; and his life is busy right now, so maybe this wasn't the best time to go into a scenario that really needs a few things we haven't been using. (We've used Gorns a couple times in the past, so I wasn't expecting it to be so bad; though I admit I only got around to brushing up on the rules on the day we started.)

On my end, its been over two decades since I've flown a KR, and I'm not sure I ever did much with the K5R, which was running thinner on power than I expected. I was very thin on power on both the entire time, though the KR was pushing up to 28 (to get 14 while towing the WB+), while the K5R wasn't really going over 23. Both were holding suicide shuttles until that final pass, which freed up some power at the end. Of course, this meant that Patch had the EW edge on me the entire time, so any phaser shots I took were at a +1, but the 3 ECCM on the plasma torpedoes took care of that for me. The last pass was where things felt like they started coming back to me, and I knew what kind of ranges I wanted to use, and was in control of what I was doing.

Patch needed to cut back his EW and push his speeds a little higher, which would get him at around the K5R's speeds, and give him that much more room on the plasmas. He was complaining that the CL was running out of power also, but at 2/3 MC, it should be able to get to speed 24 without trouble as long as it's not busy recharging phasers and the like. And as long as we were trading moderate-range shots, he needed to be picking on one of my ships. It looks like he was trying to pick on the K5R, but when it was running away on Turn 7 he should have been taking phaser shots at the rear shields. There's not a lot there, and a little damage now could add up later, especially since it already needed to nurse the hurt #6.

On the turn 10 pass, there weren't a lot of great options for him, and I assume all the shield damage to the CL is part of what made him go for the 'frustration overrun' on 11. Part of the problem was being down to speed 16. At 20, he would have pulled the plasmas out another couple of hexes, and the Fs were already fading fast. Outrunning the Gs might still not have worked, though he'd certainly have the phasers to knock them down a bit (expended on the Fs). Or, if he'd been holding overloads (which as we know he wasn't), he could have gone in to overrun the WB+ at that point. Even if everything was on the CA, taking the Fs on #6 and the Gs on #1 would be doable, and some phaser fire could even keep the shield (barely) intact. The WB+ was reloading and could only do a quick-load F (which I thought I was about to do), and Patch could probably arrange for a couple turns of close-range shots to reduce it even under cloak. He was too respectful of its (admittedly nice) shields; once through, there's not a lot of internals in there. Another long-term strategy would have been to fire prox photons at it while it was being towed by the KR. As I've noted it doesn't really have the power to repair shields, and after some hits, I'd have to start thinking about if I really wanted to be carrying a well-armed boat anchor with me.

At any rate, despite Patch's frustrations, it was nice to be in a KR again. I haven't been playing as the Klingons much recently, so this is the first time I've been in one of the more nimble cruisers in a while. This was the scenario I most wanted to see out of Y160 (because of the KRs), though I'm hoping for a nice afternoon session of "Coming of the Meteor" at some point, and we'll see on the other scenarios.
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Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:18 pm
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