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.
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