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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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