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SL327 Encounter at Taratok

James Lowry
United States
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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