James Lowry(Rindis)United States
With everything moved up to—and past—the borders, turn 3 tends to be a bit simpler for the Coalition. Also, I knew that the Duke's SB was weaker than it ordinarily should be, as he was out of carrier escorts there. I contemplated a raid into the capital, hoping to devastate a few planets while the fleet was elsewhere, but it just too easy for major elements to get intercepted on the way, so I settled for a more normal 'sweep the Kzinti off the map' approach.
Lyrans: BC, CA, 4xCW, 2xDW, DWS, 3xFF, PDU, CL->BC, 3xFF->DW, MB->BATS
Klingons: D7C, D7, D6M, 7xD5, LTT, D5S, F5L, 4xF5, FV, E4, E4A, E4R, Activate 2xD6, 3xF5, 3xE4, D6->D6S, D6->D6D, CapDD->K-DD
Converting smaller captured ships to your service is somewhat expensive, but I figure it's less expensive than overbuilding the equivalent ship, so I'm still EPs ahead. Also, I'm planning on converting the DD to a DDE, though I'm still waiting for an answer as to whether the Klingons get to use it as a light or heavy escort. If the latter, it is a poor heavy escort, but serves as an extra for a second-line group as I get all the AD5s in place. If I can use it as a light escort, it'll be the best one I can have for quite a while.
1001: Kzinti: dest MON; Lyrans: crip CL, FF, capture planet
1202: Kzinti: dest MON; Lyrans: crip CW, capture planet; Klingons: crip E4
1502: Kzinti: dest BC, EFF; Klingons: crip D6M, F5, dest D7A
1504: Kzinti: dest 3xEFF, 2xPDU; Klingons: crip D6, 2xD5, 4xF5, dest F5L, F5, E4
1304: Kzinti: dest SB, CC; Klingons: D7C, D6M; Lyrans: crip 2xCA
0902: Kzinti: dest FKE, FFE, wound PT; Lyrans: crip CL, 3xCW, dest CC, DW
As you can see, I'm doing a lot of directing. In fact, my general plan is to try and wear the Kzinti fleet out. The early schedule is sparse, and there's not a lot of spare ships available. In fact, he had no real light escorts for his carriers at the Duke's SB battle at all (1304), which led to it being a single-round affair.
One of the additions of Combined Operations are troop ships and marine assaults on bases. Many people don't care too much for them, and largely ignore them. I don't have enough experience to have a real opinion of them. But the idea is that you can use them to attack ground bases (or regular bases) and do extra damage—if you can roll well. You can also lose your ground troops for no gain, though they get replaced for free like fighters. The main cost is that troop ships have a lower offensive ComPot, so you're doing less direct damage.
Against regular bases, they can cause an extra SIDS of damage, which can make them very useful in a hotly contested SB battle. If you need to direct SIDS to get the SB, this can speed the process up, if the defender is voluntarily taking SIDS, he may find it getting unexpectedly crippled by the ground troops. The problem is the odds aren't too good of making it work, and a SB inherently has a defending marine unit ('G') that must be killed before damage can be done.
Naturally, I rolled two 12s in a row to actually do a SIDS to 1304 with a single D6G.
Overall, the turn went very well for me. SB 0902 is still there, but I took the entire 'second line' of planets (1001, 1202, 1504), and got SB 1304, all for minimal losses. Sadly, I didn't parse the situation with the Marquis area correctly, and that's still on the main grid. Cutting it off will certainly be a priority for next turn.
But now the Hydrans are about to join in, and I have some strategic decisions to make.... Right now, I'm splitting my attention (and new builds) between the two and where I go next will likely depend on how his turn 3 goes.
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Archive for Second Wind
- [+] Dice rolls
Largely thanks to repairs, the Kzinti are running a bit low on cash already. They built everything, but the ending total was 4.25, which is less than he received in salvage during my Turn 2.
Kzintis: CV, 2xMEC, DD, FFK, FKE, FF, 4xPDU, MB->BATS, FF->FKE
With the inclusion of the first three expansions, a lot of new ship types are added to the game, both in new base hulls, and in variants. Most of the base hulls show up mid-war, but the Kzinti get an important one right off the bat: the Killer Frigate (FFK).
Because of the way damage and repairs work, ships with odd numbered factors are considered very important by experienced players. This is because the crippled factor usually rounds up, so a 7-point CW is just as tough when crippled as an 8-point CA. More importantly, repair costs are based on the difference between the uncrippled and crippled values, making a 7-point CW no more expensive to repair than a 6-point CL or DD, even though it absorbed more damage in the process of being crippled.
Most empires have at least one ship type in each slot from 4 to 10 points. The Kzinti were one of the empires missing the efficient 5-point slot (along with the Hydrans and Tholians). Federation & Empire: Advanced Operations introduces the FFK, the Kzinti's last attempt at getting better performance out of their frigate. It is actually introduced right before the General War, but it also has a variant of its own, the FKE, or escort version, that gets introduced on turn 2. The FFE is a pre-war design, and is a 2-4 escort, the FKE is a much more effective escort at 4-5.
Production of both versions is extremely limited (two of either type, three total), causing the Kzintis to get a slow trickle of good small escorts and a few of the 'efficient' FFKs while managing the shrinking budget. Personally, I think it adds nice little bit of interest in the early Kzinti shipbuilding schedule
I was surprised when both Raids hit Lyran territory. Both disrupted provinces with no loss to the Kzintis.
Belirahc fell afoul of a beginner mistake during movement. He initially just started a bunch of small battles against province raiders, and tried to raid anything I had captured, and I reacted ships out to handle them. When he ended movement without doing anything more, I pointed out that I'd just move my reserve onto any battles that were close and just pound his one- or two-ship forces. He then decided to pick a few larger battles to attract my reserves. This worked, but some of his forces weren't really in a shape to get into a large battle.
0701: SSC; Lyrans: retreat; Kzinti: dest FF
0903: SSC; Lyrans: retreat; Kzinti: crip FF & retreat
1203: SSC; Klingons: crip F5L & retreat
1602: Kzinti: dest FF
0802: Lyrans: crip CW, 2xDD; Kzinti: dest EFF
1305: Klingons: crip F5; Lyrans: crip CW; Kzinti: SF captured
1505: Klingons: crip 2xD5, F5, dest F5L; Kzinti: dest BC, SF
1305 was particularly rough on him. The force was still missing escorts from my turn, so he ended up feeding the fighters forward without the carriers on the line, while I had toys from the starbase assault left over in the hex. He tried to go EW heavy, but I had decided to abuse my D6S and D6Ds, and beat him 8 to 4 on that as well.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with an SF. All my scouts are better than it, and I really don't have a need for a 1 EW scout. Possibly the best thing to do is to scrap it for the money (1 EP). Though I might convert it to a SDF for DB duty (3+1+2 = 6 EP... oy). At least he isn't salvaging it.
Overall, the Kzintis are down seven frigates through the course of the full turn, and lost two CVEs and a BC. The lack of SFs and EFFs is going to be felt in my turn 3 attack.
- [+] Dice rolls
And now things begin in earnest. With both the Lyrans and the Klingons having massed everything on the borders, the Kzinti can't defend everything, and must pick their fights.
My usual plan is to go for the planet in 1001, so as to cut off the starbase in 0902. After a turn as a partial grid, the Kzinti have motivation to let it go. This game is the first time that I've had to deal with monitors, and I couldn't juggle everything to feel like I could take on the planetary defenses, monitor, and likely reaction (or at least, Reserve) forces this time.
Lyran: DN, TGC, 3xCW, JGP-V, 2xDW, DWS, 3xFF, FRD, 2xKBP, 4xFF->DW
Klingon: C8, D7, TGA, 7xD5, LTT, D5S, 2xF5L, 4xF5, 2xE4, E4R, FRD, Activate 2xD6, 2xF5, 3xE4, D7->D7A, D6->D6M, D6->D6V
Once again, no 'true' heavy cruisers have been built (after conversions). There's several new hulls, but they're all on other duty. Worse, the life expectancy of a D7A is not great, but it's the best stasis ship the Klingons have right now.
Which I suppose brings us to 'new toy time'. Thanks to an episode of the Animated Series, the Klingons have ships with Stasis Field Generators, a device that can be focused on up to three targets at a time, and stops time for that target. Usually, this is done to an enemy ship, whereupon the rest of the fleet gathers near, drones are launched, and the field is dropped. The ship then explodes in a hail of gunfire and drones that hit seconds later. Or, it can be used to protect friendly ships, since it will be immune to fire while the field is up.
The problem is that the field only works at short range, and the SFG-equipped ship must be at a full stop to use the field. This is not wise when there's other annoyed enemy ships about.
The rules for all of this in Combined Operations are very long and detailed, since there's a lot of potential rules interactions. And it's an interesting study in rules that gives the Klingon player full control over his intent, without letting him get everything he wants. Each (non-friendly) target is rolled for to see if the ship is frozen, nothing happens, a random target is frozen (that procedure causes a lot of the rules), or there is a disaster which leaves the stasis ship vulnerable while nothing gets frozen. The more targets the Klingons try for, the worse the chances.
With the addition of the Klingons, and still only a one-front war, the Kzinti had to suffer five raids this turn, which he called up POLs for on each one. My goal was to cause as many disrupted provinces as possible, mostly aimed at ones I couldn't get at, and the rest at ones that would be difficult to garrison. The Klingons sent in 3xD5, and couldn't avoid taking a casualty in each fight, so retreated without disrupting anything, with one of the D5s crippled to boot. The Lyrans sent in a CW and CF, both of which managed to disrupt provinces.
1601: Klingon: dest D5
1602: SSC: Kzinti retreat
1605: Kzinti: dest BATS; Klingon: crip 2xF5
1303: SSC: Kzinti: dest POL; Lyran retreat
1506: Neutral: 2xPDU; Klingon: crip E4, capture planet
1405: Kzinti: dest BATS; Klingon: crip SAV
1205: Kzinti: dest BATS; Klingon: crip D6, F5
1105: Kzinti: 2xPDU; Klingon: crip D6, capture planet
1504: Kzinti: dest CVE, EFF, SF; Klingon: crip D7C, D5, F5, dest D5
1004: Kzinti: dest BATS; Lyran: crip DW, DD
1304: Kzinti: 3xSIDS, crip 3xBC, dest CVE, 2xEFF; Klingon: crip D7, D6J, 3xF5, dest D6S, capture DD; Lyran: crip 2xCA, CW, DD, dest DW
0903: Lyran: crip CW
0703: Kzinti: dest BATS; Lyran: crip DW, 2xDD
0701: Kzinti: dest BATS; Lyran: crip CL, 2xFF
0902: Kzinti: 4xSIDS, crip BC, CL; Lyran: crip 5xCW, 2xCL, 2xDW, DD, dest SC, DW, 2xFF
I had thought I had a pretty good chance of taking down the Klingon border SB when I diverted a Lyran force to join in on the assault, however, I just didn't have what it took there, and he had a pretty good defensive force.
Meanwhile, I actually did have enough ships at 0902 to have a good crack at it, but I had no specialty ships. Most notably, there was only one scout present, which Belirahc wisely took out in the first round, leaving me to fire into a -2 shift most rounds. Even so, there was a chance at it, but the dice were not with me; a final 1-5 split convinced to leave instead of digging even deeper into the fleet.
As usual, all the secondary objectives were met. But I didn't manage any of my primary objectives (taking out a SB or 1504). I'd say this turn shows that while I'm more experienced with F&E, I'm not that experienced. The easiest thing to fix would have been to remember to put a second scout into 0902. Actually sending the Lyran Red Claw fleet there instead of 1304 would seem to have been best as well.
This is of course no more than a delay, as the Kzinti cannot hold up against this for long (and he can't really afford to lose ships at this rate for long). But the clock is ticking. There is a lot for the Coalition to do in the early game, and not enough time. Delays like this are something that I can ill afford if there's going to be a creditable invasion of the Federation on Turn 7.
- [+] Dice rolls
Faced with the Lyran navy solidly packed behind its defenses, and the Klingons massing on the border, Belirahc didn't make any attacks on his half of the first turn, making it very fast to go through.
At least his raids went better than mine. He picked on little out of the way places with no defenders, and handily defeated the police ships that I called up to defend myself. As a result, two Lyran provinces are disrupted for the next turn (lowering their economic output).
And now a few words about new toys:
The Kzinti are the primary carrier-using race. They start off with more carriers than anyone else, and can be counted on to build at least one carrier per turn. So, they rely on using fighters to take (free!) damage on, as well as to keep their offensive potential up. Once the fighters are gone for the turn, the Kzinti navy isn't nearly so much of a threat.
The problem is, even with all those carriers to operate as spares, it only takes a round or two to start running out of fighters.
So, Advanced Operations introduces the FCR, Fast Carrier Resupply ship, which can carry, but not operate a squadron of fighters. These provide reloads, allowing carrier forces to operate longer, and the Kzinti to fight longer while only burning fighters which are replaced for free after combat is over.
Of course, the Kzinti aren't the only ones to get them. The Klingons find them every bit as useful, for instance, though it takes longer for the Klingon carrier force to really become worthwhile.
I was slightly surprised at Belirahc's actual builds:
Kzinti: CV, CLD, DD, FFE, FCR, MON, 4xPDU
The CV and the FCR are there, but he didn't bother building a full escort group for the carrier. The Kzintis start the game without enough heavy escorts to go around, and this is putting himself further behind. I'm guessing he's planning on just putting everything on MECs as fast as he can after they start showing up next turn, but it takes a while to get enough medium cruisers to go around. In the mean time, I'm going to have to lean on his escorts as hard as I can.
On the other hand, his only light cruiser was built as a CLD, which is about as good of a EW platform as he's got right now. It's still only 2 EW points, but he just doesn't have anything better at the moment.
(I should also note that he didn't get any new heavy cruisers either.)
- [+] Dice rolls
Well, not satisfied with one game slowly grinding forward, Belirahc and I have started a second full General War game. It is the second game, which means when it comes to a choice, we work on the original game first and let this one sit. (And it has done a fair amount of sitting while I work on the Vassal module.)
We've swapped sides, so now I get to show Bel how the Coalition offensive should be done... or embarrass myself trying. In addition, we're using the CO, AO, and FO rules for this one. I'll go into some of the extra toys available in another entry soon.
Along with other things Star Fleet Battles: Module R5 – Battleships introduced the "New Heavy Cruiser", a response to the fact that F&E was showing that by the middle of the General War, the major empires were going to be running out of heavy cruisers. While F&E isn't as centered on the CA as SFB is, they are still an important part of the fleet, being the biggest units that aren't commonly set aside as being the command element of a battle force.
The reason that this is so can be seen in my turn one Coalition builds. Including mothball activations, the Coalition has six new heavy cruiser-sized ships, but the number of actual heavy cruisers in service is technically lower than they started. Here's my first turn production:
Lyran: BC, TGC, 4xCW, 2xDW, DWS, 3xFF, MB, PDU, 2xKSP, CA->DN, 3FF->3DW
Klingon: D7C, TGA, D6M, 8xD5, D5S, F5L, 4xF5, [FV+E4A], E4, E4R, Activate 2xD6, 2xF5, 3xE4, D6->D6S, D6->D6D
The Lyrans only have one CA build slot per turn (which has been the subject of much moaning from Lyran fans over the years), and their need for tugs (thanks to needing to build a wide-ranging infrastructure, and the ability to use a large number of good tug pods and pallets) is not to be underestimated. Technically, a Cougar tug is just as good in combat as a regular CA, but a tug can't really be treated the same as a CA, because their flexibility will take them into other roles, and that makes them a valuable target if seen unprotected on the battleline. At the same time, an existing CA was converted to a dreadnought, a uniquely Lyran ability, which does allow them to start treating their heavy units as a way of constructing very dense lines, instead of task force leaders, but there is still plenty of things for extra command ships to do.
Meanwhile, the Klingons construct a command cruiser (fall turns only), two heavy cruisers (/battlecruisers), and activate two more D6s (for as long as the mothball reserves hold out). However, they have lots of different roles to turn these ships to. One CA is substituted to a TG, as there certainly aren't enough of them for my plans (though the LTT will help soon). The other is substituted to a mauler, which will be desperately needed to force ship kills on the fighter-heavy Alliance. One of the activations is converted to a scout, because the D6S is an excellent heavy scout, and the EW war is something that the early Alliance has trouble with, so I want to push that advantage as far as I can. The other D6 activated is converted to a D6D, the most versatile non-tug in the game. It can do drone bombardment, it can be the free scout, and it can go on the battleline and be just as effective as a regular D6, while also still contributing EW. (It should be mentioned that that last can be a good way to lose a D6D as an aggressive Alliance player will likely kill any D6Ds he can get at, though the scout self-defense bonus will make this slightly more expensive to do than killing a normal D6 as well.)
One of the major new rules in the game is Raids. Each power gets to put a small number of ships into a "Raid Pool" which each get to go behind enemy lines and attack single weak targets (like an unguarded FRD) or disrupt a province. The enemy gets to either react a nearby ship, or call up a free police ship to try to deal with it.
My two raids technically didn't get what they were going after, and I got a crippled BC to boot, but I did manage to kill a Kzinti BC that reacted to one of the raids. That is a nice result.
The first turn tends to be fairly boring. Some Coalition players don't even bother attacking, figuring that it just makes it easier for the Kzinti to do an effective counterstrike on their turn. Even with aggressive play, there's only three targets that can be taken down on the first turn, and the Kzinti will be able to defend them pretty well.
I went across the border and hit all three BATS. I didn't try anything fancy like pinning forces on the SB, or going after the fourth BATS in 1004 (on the Klingon border, but technically in range).
0701: Lyran: crip CA, 2xCL; Kzinti: crip 2xBC
0703: Lyran: crip SC; Kzinti: dest EFF
0803: Lyran: crip 3xDW, DD; Kzinti: dest BATS
So I got one BATS and took more cripples than he did. Pretty much par for the course. I did take out a EFF with direct damage, and if I'd thought about it, I probably would have take out a second one in the third battle.
- [+] Dice rolls