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Planets of Tripoli Y77 Region 5

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
At the start of April, Mark and I returned to our SFB campaign. This time, we went to the battle at Mark's third base, in Region 5. This features one of my two main 'base busting' fleets, led by a WDN. With it, I had two heavy cruisers and a light cruiser, plus two frigates. With 25 EPV left in my command limit, I could have put in another frigate (the WNF is only 21, though everything else is too big at 31 and up), or used destroyers instead, but I was out of any of those. Mark, limited by the first turn rules, only had a WCA and and WFF with his base, making it a notably smaller force than last time.

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Mark set up next to his base rolled low for weapon status 1 again, while I set up behind the ships (at range 35). I came in at speed 10, while the Carnivons went 7. At that speed the WDN and WVF were running with good EW, though the WRL had a minimal 1/0 and the WFF couldn't manage any. Only the base put up EW for Mark (it is easy to suppose that charging phasers was more than enough power drain as it was).

On turn 2, the Carnivons picked up to speed 11, while I split between 11 and 12. The Carnivon WCA Wolfbite (201) put up a point of ECM, while I generally reduced mine. On impulse 9 the base launched a pair of death bolts at the oncoming fleet. The Carnivon ships slowly turned clockwise, and on impulse 24 I turned towards their new course at range 17 from the base. The Carnivons immediately turned off, presenting a stern chase. On turn 3, he slowed down to 9 and 10, and then continued counter-clockwise, putting the base between the fleets. I had increased everyone's speed to 12, and on impulse 11 broke off to turn for a run at the base, which fired its disruptor cannon at WVF USS Intrepid (SF-68) on impulse 17, but missed, thanks to ECM it was running.

On impulse 32 the lead two ships reached range 8 and unloaded. WCA USS Mare Serenitatis (SF-25) and WRL USS Gatherer (SF-70) each hit with one out of two photons (fairly good with a +1 shift, and it would have been all four without it), while the seven phasers from the two ships rolled horribly to do 3 damage. This left the base's #6 at one box (I regretted that one box, as knocking it down would have forced him to use general reinforcement only on that shield).

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Initial maneuvers, turns 1-3.

My speeds dropped down to 9 (the frigates) and 10 (all others) on turn 4. The base had been loaning offensive EW to WDN USS Venus (SF-38), so it countered with 4 ECCM, even though it would still suffer a +2 shift if the base kept at full EW (4 ECM + 4 self-loaned, or used as O-EW). However, the base apparently was now short of power, as it dropped all loaning (presumably to reinforce the #6 shield), though it kept up 4 ECM.

The Carnivon ships came around to rejoin the base as my line continued running to range 8. On impulse 4 the base fired all four ph-1s at Gatherer, doing seven damage on mid-range rolls (after reinforcement) to the #2 shield. Simultaneously, Venus fired all three photon torpedoes and six phasers into the base, with a mix of high and low rolls for one torpedo hit and nine phaser damage to get one internal (hull) past the shield and armor.

The base rotated before the trailing ships could get to range 8, but Serenitatis got to the shield boundary on 13, put a battery into ECCM to reduce the shift to +1, and fired three phasers into the down shield, for two damage, taking out cargo and hull. After this, I turned away to avoid the Carnivon ships, outrun the two sets of death bolts the base had launched, and start rearming for the next pass. On impulse 25, the Carnivons were ten hexes from the base, and Wolfbite launched a pair of death bolts.

The base repaired one shield box at the end of turn 4, while his ships increased speed slightly to 12 and 10. I increased speed to 12 (frigates) and 11. This was needed to get a little more distance on the death bolts, but did constrain my rearming efforts a bit. My plan had been to spend two turns looping around counterclockwise, and hit the base again as the #6 came around (and be working off my left side instead of right), but Mark interfered with this plan, his ships cruising by the base near the end of the turn. On impulse 26 the base and WFF Sharp Claw (25) each launched a death bolt, and on the next impulse Sharp Claw and Wolfbite fired phasers at WFF USS Marengo (SF-23) in the 9-15 bracket, doing 5 damage to bring down the #1 shield (which technically has six boxes, but since that last box is the only benefit of full-power shields, it was running with minimal shields all battle). On 28, the base launched a second death bolt and fired the disruptor cannon all four ph-1s at the Marengo, to do ten internals through the down shield, knocking out a warp, all impulse, the only bearing phaser, and the photon torpedo. She turned away while the rest of the fleet headed in, and did a point to Wolfbite's #5 with the rear phaser.

For turn 6, Marengo couldn't do better than speed 6 (after housekeeping—turning off fire control—and repairing the #1), while Intrepid stayed at 12 (with 1 ECM) and the heavier ships all went 10. The Carnivons sped up, with Wolfbite going 12 and Sharp Claw doing 15(!), with the base loaning ECM to both ships. On impulse 4, the base's phasers recycled and fired at USS Gatherer, doing two points to the #6 shield (after reinforcement), while Venus and WRC USS Rover (SF-72) fired at Wolfbite, hitting with one out of three photon torpedoes, and moderate rolls on six phasers to do 14 damage, punching through the #5 to do four damage to the armor. The next impulse, Serenitatis and Gatherer fired, missing with two photon torpedoes, but good phaser rolls did four damage to finish off Wolfbite's armor. On 6, Rover fired on the base, and knocked the two repaired boxes of shield #6 down with great rolls (after reinforcement).

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Turn 6, Impulse 4, showing movement from T5-I24 to T6-I8.

After that, I turned off, plotting to make another run at the base in about three turns, since the two-turn turnaround of this one had proven much too short to get all batteries and phasers recharged while rearming any photons. Wolfbite went down to speed 7 for turn 7, while Sharp Claw stayed at 15, and my speeds stayed the same (other than Marengo dropping shield repair to recharge the phaser capacitor and go speed 9). Marengo headed towards a far corner, while the main fleet started circling around, with the Carnivons circled in the opposite direction, and well inside of me, passing by the base headed away from me near the end of the turn.

Speeds were the same for turn 8, except that Marengo (now ~20 hexes from the base and enemy ships) went back down to speed 6 to start repairing the #1 shield again, and it was a quiet turn of maneuver. On 9, the Carnivons dropped to about half speed (5 and 8), while my main group dropped to 8. While the Carnivon ships were coming around again, those speeds meant there would be no immediate interference as I lined up my next shot at the base. Wolfbite fired a pair of death bolts on 13, and the base fired the disruptor cannon at Gatherer's weak #2, but missed (he would have been advised to hold it until I came closer, but Mark seems to have been mystified as to my plan at this point). On 28, the lead of my line started turning in to hit range 8 to the base early next turn, when the #6 shield would come around to face me.

My fleet speed went back up to 10 as I endeavored to get my timing right, and most of the big ships were finishing the reload of their last photon torpedoes (Gatherer was holding one of two, and not even trying on the second, which I'll get into below). The Carnivon ships sped up for turn 10, with Sharp Claw going 14, and Wolfbite 10. To my surprise, the Carnivon ships turned off in the first impulses of the turn, but I was a too busy to really think about Marengo out by itself, and still going speed 6. The base's latest round of death bolts (and last ones until he could get the ready racks reloaded) got out to my line, and forced Rover to sideslip out as they seemed to be targeted on her.

On impulse 10, I got to my range 8 shot, and the base loaned two offensive ECM to Venus and fired the disruptor cannon and two ph-1s at Mare Serenitatis, doing eight damage to her #2. The next impulse, the other two phasers fired for six more damage, cracking the shield and doing two points of armor damage. Meanwhile, Venus and Serenitatis fired, getting four out of five photon hits, but only seven damage with eleven phasers on horrible rolls. This was still enough to punch a shield reinforced to sixteen strength and do 23 internals. On 14, Gatherer made range 8 and missed with both phasers, but hit with its photon for another eight internals. All of this wrecked the base, taking out all "weapon" systems other than 2 RX ph-1s and 1xspecial sensor. Power wasn't touched, but all hull was gone, and a combined total of 21 repair and cargo hits were left.

As I started working back away from the base, I realized that the Carnivon ships were after the Marengo, but at the end of the turn I was still getting the fleet turned around to chase after them. This wasn't bad, as she was leading them from the base, and towards the edge of the map, where I might force a disengagement. By the end of the turn, Marengo was ten hexes from the edge of the map, Sharp Claw was nine hexes behind her, and Wolfbite another seven back. Turn 11 was obviously going to be a chase, and Mark turned up the speeds to 14 on Wolfbite and 15 on Sharp Claw, while Marengo had just repaired the warp engine to go 12 (with fire control on), Intrepid went 15, and the heavier ships went 10 and 11.

Towards the end of the turn, Marengo reached the edge of the map and turned to skim along the edge, able to sideslip and disengage if it took too much damage. By impulse 30, range from Sharp Claw was down to 5, and she fired the rear phaser to bounce a point off Sharp Claw's reinforcement.

For turn 12, Sharp Claw slowed down to 12, while Wolfbite worked up to speed 14. Marengo stayed at 12, Intrepid dropped to 12, and the big units stayed at 10 and 11, except for Gatherer, which dropped to 9 to start loading a second photon torpedo now that her batteries and phaser capacitors were nearly full. On impulse 3, Sharp Claw launched a death bolt at Marengo, and fired phasers to do two damage to shield #3. Two impulses later, Wolfbite followed suit with her four forward phasers to do five damage (at range 10) causing two internals, Aux Control and the warp engine, and also fired a pair of death bolts back at Intrepid.

After this, Mark turned the opposite direction from Marengo, following the map edge up as the rest of the fleet gave chase. I had anticipated him trying to destroy Marengo, or at least force a disengage (which would force her to sit out a turn), and then disengage himself. Instead, he went for the option that preserved distance to shake pursuit.

On turn 13, Sharp Claw went back to speed 15, while my speeds continued to fragment. The frigates both went 12 (Marengo still had fire control off, and was headed away from all action), while Venus and Rover went 11, Serenitatis went 10 (it could have done 12, but I was still repairing the #2 shield), and Gatherer was still at 9. Mark skimmed along the map edge until impulse 20, when he started turning in. I was actually still angling at the map edge myself, and plotting when I wanted to turn to parallel him with my slower ships: too far out, and he might turn around and get past me, too close and he'd get past me by turning in. I had been getting close to where I wanted to be (about a dozen hexes out), so turning to intercept was no problem, and on 28 he turned away to parallel the map edge again.

Turn 14 saw Mark run for distance as both ships turned off fire control, and Wolfbite hit speed 15, and Sharp Claw got to 18 (a WFF's theoretical maximum speed is generally 19, but they usually don't have the power for life support and shields at that point). All my ships went speed 12, except Serenitatis, still at 10 to repair the shield, and Marengo, which dropped to 3 to repair the #3 shield, and recharge the phaser capacitor. On impulse 15 he turned in from the map edge again (with only about a dozen hexes to go up), and then turned away again on 29, now with 8-10 hexes between him and the right edge.

On turn 15, the Carnivons slowed down to turn on fire control, going 14 and 16. Intrepid went back to 15, and Venus dropped its one point of ECM to get up to speed 13 (while holding three photons!... and a suicide shuttle I'd had from the beginning). Mark started turning towards the board edge, presumably looking to turn around and slip by me. On impulse 11 he launched three death bolts, possibly at USS Venus, which was closest. On 20, Sharp Claw fired her bearing phasers at Intrepid, but missing entirely at range 11, and then slipped off the map to disengage on the next impulse. Intrepid maneuvered to intercept the death bolts, doing 5 damage to one on impulse 28, and Venus downfired the left-side and rear phasers to clear all three DBs. At the same time, Wolfbite fired on Intrepid, doing five damage to knock down the #2 shield after the battery took care of the fifth point. Then Wolfbite sideslipped off the map to disengage.

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Turn 15

Afterword

With the YBS Clutch of Dogs already a mess, we figured I'd have no problem going back to it and slowly pounding it while using reinforcement at slow speed to take it down without any more damage. The following ships came out with permanent damage:

USS Mare Serenitatis has two armor damage.
USS Marengo is out all hull, the transporter, auxiliary control, and the photon torpedo.
Wolfbite is out all eight armor.

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Since I had bigger ships, and Mark smaller, I figured this battle would go faster than Region 1. In a way it did; while both took 15 turns, there was more "dead time" in this one with no firing, so we didn't need as many sessions to fight the battle. I think Mark was not expecting me to abandon Mahanian principles and go after the base first, but I figured that he'd probably stay under the guns of the base this time, so I'd need to take care of it sooner rather than later. I did have trouble getting used to a fleet that needed energy for photon torpedoes; I tried going at the speeds that the Andorian ships could do last time.

MVP goes to USS Venus (SF-38) this time. The Federation WDN is a very solid design, and the ability to go speed 14 while holding photon torpedoes is impressive. The five photon hits against the base on turn on turn 10 was lead by the Venus, and let the battle enter its final phase.

On the other hand, it has been shown that I have something of a "frigate gap". I happened to have the two frigates with the smallest shields here, but Mark's general plan was obviously to hit these fragile ships hard and force them to at least need repairs. USS Intrepid was saved by the fact that it has two extra impulse (I don't think there's any other 1/3 move cost ship that has four impulse) that allows it to keep ECM up and running when other ships are dry. Looking again, I realize that Federation ships have high crunch power and weak shields, while Carnivon ships have better shields and low crunch power, so this is an overall balanced match up. But my frigates will be vulnerable in any large fleet action, and when there's bases with disruptor cannons.

This is only going to get worse, as the Carnivons get YFFs long before the Federation does, and the primary change is trading out the point-blank heel nipper for the moderate-range disruptor cannon. Thankfully, that is the major change, with only a modest increase in power and minimal shield improvements. The eventual Federation YFF is a much nastier ship, but its BPV is just below the YDD's, which with our EPV/BPV based command system is going to be another headache for me.

WRL USS Gatherer (SF-70) was notable for having problems rearming after a battle pass. Some of this was the fact that it too was singled out as a Carnivon target, so it had shields to repair, but it had major problems recharging batteries and phasers, never mind loading photon torpedoes. Since pretty much all WCLs have the same power and demands as the WRL, I am concerned that the others will be just as bad. Or worse, since the Carnivon WCL, Terran WCL, and WAL have a 3/4 MC instead of 2/3.
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Thu Jul 14, 2022 6:00 pm
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Planets of Tripoli Y77 Region 1

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
Last December, Mark and I got going on a large project that is going to take us a while: Playing a modified version of the SFB Admiral's Game campaign from Advanced Missions. Once sorting out the basics was done, we decided to try the first region... first. It features his largest base defense force, and my smallest base assault force, "merely" being lead by a CC (it was also the only force where it was not theoretically possible for me to add another ship). It would also serve as a test of just how tough these early bases were going to be for me. We had the following available:

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This was about the only fleet where I tried to stick with one particular member navy. The Andorians (xNx ships) use drones instead of photon torpedoes as heavy weapons, so I figured massing them against a static object for a bombardment would be one of my better options for them. (In this era, speed-8 drones are relatively faster, but still slower than what ships can actually do, so base bombardment is still a good option.) It also features my only 'pair' of ships, as the only classes I have more than one of are the four that I built new ones of this turn, and the other three all ended up split up from their sisters.

Mark set up with his two ships a few hexes away from the base, but pointed towards it, and a poor roll left him at Weapon Status-I (with his bonuses, the lowest possible). The rules give the attacker an automatic WS-III, but I have to set up at least 35 hexes from the base, which with these ships is over two turns travel at best speed. With my mix of designs, I ended up with my fleet speed scattered from 11 to 14 even at the beginning, while Mark went 12 (WDN) and 9 (WDD). EW was minimal, with only the base and Mark's WDN opting for any at all. I set up opposite of the Carnivon fleet and headed in, while they passed through the base's hex and turned right. On impulse 32, the base fired its two bearing phaser-1s at WND USS Battler (SF-75) at range 25, doing one point to its #1 shield.

For turn 2, I kept to the same speed range, though Battler reduced speed to 11 to repair the shield damage, while the WDN dropped to 8, and the WDD boosted to 13; the WDN boosted ECM to 4 (the maximum in this era), and the WNC and WNL started generating 1 point of ECM. On impulse 12, the base fired on Battler again (range 21) and missed. By impulse 24, the WDN was ten hexes away from the base, and turned towards my oncoming fleet, followed by the WDD on the next impulse. I started slipping that way, and then turned to intercept over the next few impulses.

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Turn 3, Impulse 1, showing movement from impulse 24 of turn 2, to impulse 8 of turn 3.

Mark picked up speed for turn 3, going 13 and 15, near their maximums. I had worried about us being about to go to short- (or at least close moderate-) range combat, so the WCC USS de Gaulle bricked the front shield, and shifted down to speed 4. Everything else went from 11 to 9, generally picking up a little more EW, while the WDN had to drop its ECM. All his units launched death bolts on impulse 1, and the WDN Cerebus and WDD Glory Seeker fired a total of eight ph-2s at WOD USS Dunelle (SF-94) to do five damage to its #1 (after batteries). After that, he turned off, and I volleyed ten ph-2s at Cerebus from three different ships on impulse 5, to do two damage to the #5 shield (out of eight damage done, so at that speed, that was the batteries). The next impulse, Dunelle hit range 8 from Cerebus, and fired its photon torpedo and three bearing phasers, doing five more damage to the #5 with good phaser rolls, but the photon missed.

I had suspected that the death bolts were targeted on Dunelle, and on impulse 16 it became obvious this was the case. My first thought was to 'thread the needle' between the ones from the ships, and the two coming up from the base, but a careful track of movement showed I couldn't quite dodge both. Thankfully, the Orion design has a turn mode of A and is nimble (on a destroyer!), so she was able to do a U-turn to get the entire set running behind it. Mark was surprised by how fast she was able to do this (well, so was I), and on impulse 27, the base fired the disruptor cannon, and all four ph-1s at Dunelle at range nine to do eight damage, and exactly collapse the #5 shield. The next impulse it fired both ph-3s to do one point of damage through the down shield, and hit the left warp engine.

For turn 4 Cerebus dropped from 13 to speed 12, while my speeds were 8 or 9, except for Dunelle, which kept at 11, as she prepared to get some distance before re-arming. Mark's ships continued turning clockwise, and as the turn began were running in direction C, while my remaining five ships pursued. Glory Seeker made a further turn to D, and Mark launched another full set of death bolts on impulse 17, while I turned to intercept the WDD/parallel the WDN. Over the last few impulses of the turn, I launched three drones targeted on the death bolts to start clearing them out of the way.

On turn 5, Glory Seeker dropped to speed 13, while I shifted up to a mix of 9 through 11. On impulse 11 the base fired the disruptor cannon and 2xph-2s at Battler, and thankfully it missed with the former, while the phasers did a point each to the #3 shield. Glory Seeker had gotten out in front of my main force, and turned back in to the base, but Cerebus was still on the far side of her from the base, but turned across my path near the bottom of the turn, and we ended with nine hexes between Cerebus and WNL USS Govar-Jarot (SF-81).

I largely sped up to intercept Cerebus on turn 6, with de Gaulle and Govar-Jarot hitting speed 12, while Dunelle dropped to speed 3 so she could start repairing shields, charging phasers, and loading the photon torpedo. Cerebus turned back away from my oncoming ships, giving me a stern chase, and then started trying to shake me, with some success. On 8 she launched another pair of death bolts, and then turned back left on 16, leaving me to deal with the incoming death bolts as I tried to stick with it. I ended up split into two groups, one of the WNC, WNL, and a WND, the other of de Gaulle and Battler. The death bolts went after (I think) WNC USS Targ-Glast (SF-76), forcing her to slip away from them and Cerebus' course. Then Cerebus turned back to the right, with both groups further away from her, and the larger group out of position and five hexes away from the other two ships.

I sped up again for turn 7, with the two Andorian destroyers hitting speed 13, while everything else made 12 to match Cerebus' speed. Dunelle stayed at 3 as it continued rearming. Despite getting a good position last turn, Cerebus was now contending with the edge of the (large) map, and needed to turn again to avoid that, with de Gaulle and Battler on a converging course. On impulse 25, WND USS Gladiator (SF-53) got to range 8 from behind, and fired a ph-2, but missed. Two impulses later, Battler and de Gaulle volleyed phasers at Cerebus with only one hit for 2 damage, which was absorbed by reinforcement (or batteries). On impulse 28, Cerebus launched another pair of death bolts pointed towards the leading ships, and on 30 she turned in, across their paths, and away from the board edge, and the turn ended with the range dropping fast, and Battler launched a drone at Cerebus and fired another phaser, which missed.

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Flight of the Cerebus, showing movement during all of turn 7.

Meanwhile, Glory Seeker had flown back to the base and continued in a clockwise circle, ending the turn six hexes from isolated Dunelle. Needing to maneuver, she boosted to speed 5 for turn 8, turned on EW (1 each ECM/ECCM), and finished charging the phasers while going into the final turn of repairs on the warp engine. The rest of my speeds varied between 9 and 12, except for de Gaulle, which dropped to speed 4 again to push up EW and reinforce the front shield. Both of Mark's ships went 11. Cerebus was forced to range 4 from de Gaulle (unsatisfied turn and slip modes) on impulse 3, who fired both photon torpedoes... and missed. On 6, Cerebus and Battler fired on each other at range 2, the latter doing two damage to the #1 shield with a single ph-2, and the former doing 12 damage with 6 ph-2s on horrible rolls, and missed with the in-arc heel nipper. Battler lost the #5 shield and armor for nine internals including two warp, a bridge, aux control, and the bearing phaser.

We had a session break right after that, and as I was setting up the next time, I suddenly remembered that Battler was one of the few ships I had manged to buy T-bombs for, so she dropped one out the hatch on impulse 7, and then spent time guiding the incoming death bolts over it, and Cerebus had to turn aside to keep from being in the blast radius when it went off (which it did on impulse 12, just after Battler got out of range). To my surprise, Cerebus kept running "south", putting me back on a stern chase, when I expected he'd head back to the center of the board and make me deal with her and the base at the same time. He did start slipping away from the board edge, and into my path, so that Gladiator got a range 3 shot with phasers to do 2 damage to the #4 shield on impulse 30.

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Turn 8, Impulse 6, showing movement from impulse 1 through 17.

Glory Seeker and Dunelle did a range-2 oblique pass on impulse 9, and fired into each other. Glory Seeker's heel nipper also missed, and the phasers did eight damage to almost knock down the #2 shield (after spending the one charged battery on it), while Dunelle's photon hit and the bearing phasers had good rolls for a total of twenty damage, which turned into nine internals, to take out a warp, two phasers, the heel nipper, and the battery. The next impulse, Glory Seeker's remaining ph-3 fired to finish off the shield and do two internals, getting the left warp again.

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Turn 8, Impulse 9, showing movement from impulse 1 through 13.

Mark boosted to speeds 13 and 14, trying to shake my pursuit, while my speeds were a mix from 11 to 15 (Govar-Jarot didn't need to arm anything...), while Dunelle went 10 and was following Glory Seeker, and Battler went 6 and started repairing the shield. Only de Gaulle, Targ-Glast, and the base had any EW up, and Glory Seeker turned off fire control to get more speed. On impulse 6, Gladiator's phasers recycled, and good rolls did eleven damage, which punched one point through to the armor after reinforcement. On 12, Cerebus launched another set of death bolts (her last until he could break more out of storage and put them in the rack). I launched a counter-drone from Gladiator and stepped around the other. At 20, the edge of the board was starting to loom again, and Cerebus turned across my path again, and over the next several impulses I turned to parallel her.

On turn 10, Mark pushed Cerebus to speed 17, turning off fire control and shields to do this. My speeds in the shadowing group were 9, 12, or 15, as I had expected a race, even if not one that desperate. Gladiator and de Gaulle immediately fired into her (range 4-5), missing with the photon de Gaulle had just reloaded, and doing eight damage with six phasers to finish off the armor and knock out a heel nipper. Glory Seeker had been circling the base, and that fired on Dunelle on impulse 12, hitting with the disruptor cannon and mixed phaser rolls to do twelve damage on the #5 shield, causing nine internals to take out two more warp and a phaser. Dunelle then turned off, looking at heading for the board edge and disengagement. Cerebus got to the bottom edge of the map around impulse 24, and skimmed along it before disengaging off the board on 29 rather than face the chasing group that was still able to intercept.

Down to 7 power, Dunelle turned off everything but shields and life support on turn 11 to go speed 11 and continue gaining distance. Battler turned shields down to minimum settings as it started repairs on the #5. Speeds ranged from 8 to 12 as the main group all turned towards the base to get into position for a bombardment. Glory Seeker was now chasing Dunelle at speed 13, and the base fired at Dunelle on impulse 4 to do two damage to the #4 at range 18. Glory Seeker tried a phaser on 15, but missed at range 6.

Glory Seeker backed down to speed 11 for turn 12; Dunelle (and most of the rest of the fleet) went 9 as fire control came back on. Dunelle reached the top edge of the map a bit over halfway through the turn, and started skimming along the edge, having fired two phasers back at Glory Seeker to do one damage to her #1, and see how far Mark would be drawn away from the base that the main force was starting to approach. Glory Seeker eventually turned the other way instead of being forced to stick close to Dunelle, and Dunelle started cautiously turning back onto the map.

At the end of the turn, I was starting to shake out into a ragged line coming in towards the base, and started launching drones. Turn 13 saw me backing down to speeds 5 to 10 to get everyone more concentrated, and allow the drones to start running ahead. Since the closest ship (Targ-Glast) was still 12 hexes out, this was a turn of slowly tightening the noose. The base went to switching off drones with the special sensors, and launched a shuttle at the top of the turn, followed by death bolts a few impulses later. On impulse 24, the base fired the disruptor cannon at Battler for a hit that did 1 damage through the reinforcement I'd put up. The special sensors rolled slightly better than average, the phasers fired at incoming drones, Targ-Glast fired at incoming death bolts, and the turn ended with four drones in flight (range 6 or 7), my ships largely in one hex at range 7, a death bolt a hex away, and the shuttle three hexes away.

My speeds dropped to 3 to 5 for most ships on turn 14, with a couple exceptions. Sensors turned off more drones, I destroyed the death bolt, and crippled the shuttle, which then turned out to be a suicide shuttle aimed at one of the early drones. This time, a pair of phasers fired on Targ-Glast to do two damage to the #1 shield. Drones started impacting on impulse 28, followed by a range-2 pair of photons from de Gaulle, which both hit, to bring the shield down and take out the base's armor. I fired phasers on the next impulse with awful rolls and a +2 shift to do four internals, followed by another shot on 30 for another five internals, another on 31 for four more, and then four drones hit on 32 through the down shield for 32 internals.

Turn 15 was mostly just accounting as I continued the bombardment and phaser barrage. de Gaulle flew through the base's hex, getting a range-0 shot with a phaser that had recycled, and then turned to go after Glory Seeker, which was still skulking around. The base was battered, losing another shield, but survived the turn, with half of its excess damage hits gone. We called it at that point, as de Gaulle should be sufficient to get Glory Seeker to leave, and once the base blew on turn 16, the the others would get up to speed, and join in hunting her down.

Afterword

After repairs, the following still had damage:

USS Battler still had a bridge, tractor, and transporter out, as well as its armor.
USS Dunelle is out a bridge, forward hull, both rear hull, and two cargo.
Cerebus could easily repair the one internal it had taken, but is out all of its armor.
Glory Seeker is out three center hull (of four), and auxiliary control.

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Knowing how weighted this was in my favor, I didn't think it'd take 15 turns; 12 would have been closer to my guess. The base didn't get a chance to do a lot; thanks to the fleet action largely traveling away from the range-15 limit on special sensor lending, and then I made sure it was quite busy at the end. Mark had an opportunity to get past me with Cerebus on turn 7, and should have taken it. My primary goal was to herd it off the map edge, though getting to do real damage would have been a bonus as long as I didn't end up trading something important like a command cruiser for the privilege. He nearly got through with his maneuvering at that point, but backed off, presumably judging I'd do too much damage at the ranges we'd get to.

He needs to remember the lesson of "Lone Gray Wolf": it takes a lot to seriously harm a dreadnought. On the other hand, he couldn't outrun me, because I had the inside track, and the bulk of my ships didn't need to spend energy on heavy weapons, which is what let a couple stay really close, while his power drained away from defending against the occasional good phaser shot.

WOD USS Dunelle (SF-94) gets MVP from me. It was an early target, and took internals on three separate occasions, one of which was me getting overconfident near the base. The quick duel with Glory Seeker showed the crunch power of the photon torpedo, even without overloads, and it had managed to patch everything together just in time for that pass. The shields are a little thin (I notice that overall, Federation shields are thinner than Carnivon), but the maneuverability of a nimble "A" on a destroyer is amazing. Its sister ship is in region 4, which was where I had a large advantage in an open space fight, so it was surrendered without a fight from Mark. That one will be back in Y78, and may get in a real fight, but Dunelle may be in the shop next year.

WND USS Battler (SF-75) also did well, surviving getting too close to a dreadnought in relatively good shape. Armor tends to go with extra-thin shields, so it's even more likely that she'll sit out next turn to get the armor repaired. Having a pair of identical destroyers was a help, though they ended up with different allocations most of the time.

Overall, the Andorian ships are not bad. The lack of crunch power from no photons is made up for by low power requirements, but it did put something of a burden on de Gaulle and Dunelle to provide the heavy direct firepower. (Taking a look at early Kzinti, which have much the same pattern, does not make me excited to fly them.) The massed drone tactics here were not bad, but in future my thought is to instead sprinkle them throughout other member's fleets and use the drones as death bolt defense. Death bolts have a low rate of fire (1.5 turns at best), and take more damage to kill than normal, but a single drone is all it takes. Just one or two racks, at the right place (the hard part), can probably get rid of whatever single death bolts are the biggest problem.
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Sat Apr 30, 2022 6:00 pm
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The Planets of Tripoli

James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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Last year, I had an itch to try out "The Admiral's Game" campaign, especially as re-done by Jeremy Gray and Dale McKee, and reported on in "Day of the Eagle Comes Early" on ADB's forum.

So, I wrote up a new set of campaign rules, reverse-engineering everything I could from that, and adding a fair number of new things besides. I pitched it to Mark, and talked him into the general concept. My original idea had been to pair off a couple empires contemporary to our main group games (i.e., Y161), and advance the group and the campaign in tandem, but... Mark eventually gravitated towards seeing the Carnivons in action, especially as he'd been going through the General War-era version of them in Module C6.

I don't have that, but I (and Mark) do have Y1, where they were first introduced. In addition, I had recently read an update for The Admiral's Game for the Early Years in Captain's Log #39, where the Federation has to cycle through the various member navy's ships in the W-era.

So, the campaign got set at the close of the W-era, with the Y-series ships about to come in, with a fight between the Carnivons and the Federation.

Now... "historically" they did not border each other, but there doesn't seem to be any big technology mis-matches going on, and if they had, it's not too hard to believe the Federation would quickly get fed up with the constant raids by various "packs" and feel a need to use their new navy to mount an expedition into their space to put an end to the raids on far-flung colonies and merchant vessels. So, I am playing the Federation, which is attacking the Carnivons.

This campaign is starting in Y77, and each strategic turn in it takes one year. One ship can be a prototype each turn, with cruisers available as prototypes one year before their service date, and smaller ships two years. The structure is explicitly allowing me to build a Federation YCA in the second turn, but we'll both be fielding mostly W-series ships for a long time to come.

Both sides have six each FF, DD, CL, CA, plus 2xCC and 2xDN. On the first turn, the Carnivons do not have access to half of these (strategic surprise). We both get EPV for new ships, refits, and such, but we must build 2xFF and 2xDD each turn, and then get to do what we like with the leftover budget.

Carnivons:

This canine-like species historically existed between the Kzintis and Lyrans, and getting rid of them was one of the few things they've ever agreed on. They generally never developed any stable central authority, with lots of temporary 'packs' raiding their neighbors.

Their heavy weapons are Death Bolts (a type of drone with annoying problems reloading), and Heel Nippers, a nearly point-blank weapon that automatically destroys one warp box if it hits, and causes the ship to miss its next move, and turn in place. That last is bad enough, but on the early underpowered ships, the idea of guaranteed power hits through shields is scary. In the Y-era, they get Disruptor Cannons, which is a two-turn version of the familiar Disruptor Bolt.

At first, they had somewhat limited ship classes, but Y2 and Y3 built them out so they have CCs and DNs like everyone else. They hit the Y-era slightly later, but they start with the smaller ships, and should be able to eventually refit all the W-series ships up.

Star Fleet:

I'm attacking as the United Star Fleet of the Federation of Planets. As these are all ships converted to tactical warp from the various member planet's navies, I will be learning to deal with six different design styles. Also, my new W-series ships must cycle through the six different navies, so I can't just pick a favorite design in each class and go straight to that.

Earth, Alpha-Centauran, Orion, and Rigelian: These all use the good old photon torpedo (though there's no overloads, and, worse, no proximity fuses, in this era). Phaser coverage and other details vary from fleet to fleet, but I have no feel for common design elements yet. [The Orion national guard ships never actually directly served in the Federation's early wars, but they were part of Star Fleet, and I figure it's the only way we'll ever get around to seeing them in action.]

Andorian: These ships use drones as the heavy weapon. They're fairly close to Kzinti drones, but not identical, but the only direct-fire weapons are phasers.

Vulcan: Their CA and DD have a pair of special sensors (the only things outside of a base with them in this era; this is important, as I have a bunch of base battles in my future). The others have the usual photon torpedo, and they all mount phaser-1s (everyone else is stuck with ph-2s on their ships in this era).

The nomenclature for the Star Fleet ships is inconsistent (largely in Y1), and I've cleaned them up for reporting here (so, they are all prefixed with "W", and the Orion ships are xOx). Also, trying to back-port earlier NCC numbers is a mess, so I've figured that the initial Star Fleet ships got sequential "SF" numbers as they were converted and commissioned into the fleet. Once new ships are built in the Y-series, then they start using "Naval Construction Contract" numbers.

Y77

So, we've assembled the fleet lineups, done the initial builds, and finally assigned everything to the eight regions of the first defense line.

We're trying a system where the Command Rating of a ship is multiplied by 35 times the current year/100, and it can command that many EPV of other ships (this means a CR 10 dreadnought can command 270 EPV this turn, and 273, next time...). This maxes fleets out somewhere around six-seven ships, and I (with all my ships available) couldn't fill them out.

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Half of the defender's fleet is in reserve (not including his five new ships), which gets me a fairly free pass to get through this defense line, and why Mark is so thin on the ground right now. This will change. Any ships of mine that disengage this turn will be unavailable next time.

My region 7 force was minimal so I could concentrate elsewhere, so I have surrendered that region without a fight. And those two ships will be in Reserve next time.

Mark's region 4 force was completely outmatched, so that one is surrendered without a fight. Others may be in the future, but right now, we will be fighting out region 1, and seeing how that goes. I have no idea of what fighting these bases will be like.

Region 1: Two ships on each side permanently damaged, and the YBS destroyed:
Planets of Tripoli Y77 Region 1

Region 3: Instead of playing another lopsided base battle, we mirrored the approximate results of the others, with the large Carnivon ship losing all armor, and one random Federation ship (WAL) taking damage, which cost her its armor.

Region 4: Mark’s force was completely outmatched, so it was surrendered without a fight.

Region 5: One ship on each side took serious damage, the YBS was destroyed, and USS Mare Serenitatis took two of eight armor damage.
Planets of Tripoli Y77 Region 5

Region 6: My force was not quite minimal in hopes of catching a pair of FFs. Instead, the Carnivons had a heavier force, and I disengaged to Reserve instead of risking my ships.

Region 7: My force was minimal so I could concentrate elsewhere, so I surrendered that region without a fight. And those two ships will be in Reserve next time.
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Tue Dec 7, 2021 7:27 am
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