Starbase 0902 is the main link between the Kzinti and Lyran forces. It maintains a strategic link that the Kzinti could use to raid into Lyran territory (as shown by the range markers in the above picture). It is also a perfect position for the Lyran forces to use as their own launching point to help bolster the attack on the Kzinti Capital when the Klingons push the assault. This is one of the main reasons why it is an important base to break during the initial turns of the war. For the reasons to follow, it may also be one of the toughest to crack.
Everything that follows from this point is a look at a first turn attack on the Starbase. After Turn 1, the situation becomes even more complicated.
In Federation and Empire, Starbase battles are some of the most painful battles that can be fought. These bases offer 48 combat potential (36 from the base and 12 from fighters) to any battle force without having to occupy a battle force slot. They are also the ultimate in attrition units, requiring 8 SIDS (Starbase Incremental Damage System) steps to cripple and 4 more to destroy. Scoring a SIDS step by the Attacker requires an expenditure of 18 points of Direct Damage (9 if a Mauler class ship is present), but the Defender can soak 4.5 points of damage with a voluntary SIDS step. There is a restriction that only 1 SIDS can be inflicted during a general combat round, so it is expected to take quite a few rounds using SIDS before a base would go down.
They are monsters; even more so for the starbase in 0902 during the initial moments of the General War. There are several reasons for this.
Lyrans do not begin the game with mauler class ships. In fact, they will not gain mauler class ships until Spring Y170 (Turn 4). Also, maulers can be built only at the main shipyard in the capital hex, so they will not be able to have an effect until turn 5.
Another problem is that the Kzinti begin with carriers: the CV (10+6), CVL (8+4.5) and CVE (6+3). These ships carry more firepower than most Lyran ships right off the bat, but they are fragile and are offset by their escorts. When a carrier goes into a battle force, their escorts must be placed as well, otherwise their effective ComPot is lowered. Their fighters are the real problem though, as they add to the ComPot of the carrier and can be used to offset damage as attrition units.
This is what makes the Starbase at 0902 so difficult to crack. A wise Kzinti player will designate his carrier groups, which includes one each of the above named carriers and their escorts, in the Duke's Fleet as part of his initial reserve forces. Those ships bring a lot of extra damage soak for an initial starbase battle, especially if a tug is used as a support vehicle with a 2VP pod (bringing in more fighters to the battle as spares). If the player also kept the carrier groups in the Count's Fleet as a reserve in hex 0902 as well, there would be two of each carrier type in Hex 0902 after the reserve movement phase. With a pair of tugs carrying 2VP pods, that would be a total of 51 fighters to help soak damage during the first few rounds (this includes the fighters from the starbase). If you include a reduction of 4.5 damage points through the first 8 rounds, this is a great defensive position to take as the Kzinti. It also shows how tough 0902 can become.
If no forces from the Count's Fleet are used for reaction movement during the Lyran's initial assault, there is a force with 20 ship equivalent units (6 fighters is one ship equivalent). Add in the reserve from the Duke's Fleet, and you could increase the SE value to 30 (not including support ships such as Drone Frigates and Scouts). The Lyrans can bring to bear at most 36 SE from its fleets. This seems like an advantage, but it is a poor indicator of power. The Kzinti have an edge on Combat Potential (ComPot).
Taking the fact that most ships will come from The Red Claw Fleet, with only six ships from the Home Fleet, there would be a starting ComPot of 226 for the Lyran attack fleet. A healthy Lyran battle line runs around 90 - 100 ComPot for 10 ships. Using Command Points and Battle Groups may increase that potential to 150, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If the Lyran player is using these bonuses, then the Kzinti player is probably using them as well.
A fully stocked Kzinti fleet with a powerful reserve from the Duke's Fleet and the Starbase will have a starting ComPot of 238 (~50 of that in fighters). A Kzinti battle line generally runs around 100 - 110 ComPot for 10 ships if carriers are included. Adding in extras like the starbase and drone frigates, a Kzinti line can easily go above 150 without adding Battle Groups or using Command points. With those, the Kzinti player may be able to field a 200 point line before all is said and done.
So, as you can see, while the Lyran fleet may have more ships, the Kzinti can field more power. While the Lyran player is forced to destroy ships rather than cripple them to keep the ComPot up, the Kzinti can take fighters and SIDS for attrition damage without worrying too much about their ships going down. They may have to cripple one or two to keep from totally destroying their attrition units in the first couple of rounds, but it won't affect their ComPot heavily.
So, how does one crack this nut as the Lyran player?
1) Take down the fighters quickly.
This is one of those moments where using Directed Damage can come in handy. It may take two or three rounds, but once you get to a point where you can decimate the fighter screen use Directed Damage to force the fighters out of the picture. Once the fighters are down, the ability to soak more than 4.5 damage per turn disappears. Ships will begin to fall at this point and the Kzinti player may turn tail and run.
As the Lyran player, you are going to lose ships, there is no doubt about that. Instead of crippling endless supplies of ships, thus reducing your ComPot permanently, destroy ships to lessen the blow to your fleet. Also, when you bring crippled ships back into a battle line, you are inviting a quick end due the possibility of the damage being one equal to half the crippled ships value. It is better to determine for yourself when to destroy something rather than letting the numbers get to you.
Following the suggestion above, you have to outlast the Kzinti player. If you cannot take this base in the first battle, you are going to have a long road ahead of you. While it is a battle of attrition, the Kzinti hold the upper hand. Once you can outlast the fighter screen, the battle shifts towards the Lyran player. The Lyran player can afford to lose ships while the Kzinti player cannot. Carriers are much more expensive than a CA or BC, and carriers are limited in their production amounts. Hold the line through the fight and the Kzinti will probably abandon his starbase with this in mind.
If the Lyran player can take down the starbase at hex 0902 on the first turn, they will have it a little easier on this front, making the hydran fight to come a little easier to handle. The Klingons will have an entire turn to build forces on the Kzinti line, and will have an easier time at destroying the fighter screen offered by the Kzinti because of their mauler class ships.
Remember, take that starbase out early, otherwise you'll focus too much on it later.
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