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Subject: First Play (sorta) rss

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mark camp
United States
Lesser Binghamton Area
New York
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Silent Death is a game I bought after playing the Astrosmash varient at a con back in 99 but has never seen the table until now. Four of us played Sunday, myself, Mindi, Ben, and Shawn. Mindi had also played the Astrosmash varient with me in 99 and Shawn and Ben were rookies.

We decied to have a free for all where each player had 250 points to spend and everyone had a partner. Ben and Shawn were a team. Shawn brought two Salamanders and a Lance Electra with decent pilots and gunners. His crew all had skill levels of 6-8. Ben brought two Hellbenders, four Blizzards, and a Pit Viper, all with lackluster crews. His average skill level was 4-5. Between the two of them, they had plenty of warheads, pretty decent striking power with the Electra's protobolts, and some attrition fighters to provide cover. All in all, a pretty balanced force.

Mindi brought four Talons and two Spirit Riders to the fray with crews averaging 6-7 skill levels. I brought two Nighthawks, crewed with elite pilots (piloting and gunnery skills at 9), and four Blizzards with pilot/gunner skills of 8. Together we had a limited supply of small torpedos, but plenty of speed and fairly high defensive values. The Nighthawks main complement of 6 splatterguns each gave them plenty of punch, especially if they staid together and ganged up on targets. The challenge would be keeping them alive long enough to use them.

Each of us started in opposite corners with Ben and Shawn across from Mindi and I. I won initiative with Mindi being the next highest. No one wanted to launch any warheads. Shawn moved his ships straight towards Mindi and Ben came straight at me, keeping his fighters grouped but separating the Hellbenders. Mindi sent the spirit riders and a Talon towards the Lance Electra and the rest of her Talons in the general direction of the Salamanders, which were fairly spaced out. I put the Blizzards in to a diamond formation and moved them full throttle forward with a few sideslips towards the center of the map which would allow me to engage either Ben or Shawn next turn. I kept the Nighthawks together and slightly behind the Blizzards and to their right.

The Nighthawks were the first ships to fire as their pilots had the higheset gunnery skills in the fleet. One of Ben's Hellbenders was barely in range of the lead Nighthawk. It took a shot with devestating results as the slatterguns do middle +10 damage and I rolled double 4s for my low and middle numbers. The damage reached a critical hit box on the damage track resulting in a pilot dazed result, leaving the ship effectively dead for the next turn. The second Nighthawk took a swat at Ben's lead Blizzard leaving it floating with a drive of zero, and no weapons with two boxes left on the damage track.

Shawn and Mindi exchanged fire with negligable results with the exception of the Lance Electra hitting the lead spirt rider with two protobolds, destroying it instantly. Ben's Pit Viper hit Nighthawk 1 with a pulse laser for one box of damage, effectively scratching the paint. My Blizzards weren't in range of any targets and the turn ended.

Mindi won initaive in round 2 followed by me, then Ben then Shawn. Shaken by the speed at which the Blizzards drop torpedos on the damage track, Ben launched most of his torpedos at Nighthawk 1. Shawn also launched all of his torpedos, sending 2 mark 30s and 6 mark 10s at Nighthawk 1 and the rest of his mark 10s at Mindi's lead talon. Bob squadron followed suit sending two mark 10s at the stunned Hellbender and 2 at Ben's almost dead Blizzard. My remaining Blizzards split their torps between Shawn's two Salamanders. Shawn launched a salvo of 10 missiles against one of the Talons. Mindi dropped a pair of Mark 10s on the Lance Electra and a sent a pair at one of the Salamanders.

Shawn pressed the Electra against Mindi, who diverted 2 Talons towards it and sent 1 Talon and the remaining Spirit Rider to meet the lead Salamander. She moved her remaining Talon to help screen Nighthawk 1 as it moved to deal with the torpedos. I turned both Nighthawks and fled towards Mindi and Shawn along the bottom of the map keeping them out of ranger of all oncoming torps. Nighthawk 1 dropped a decoy, eliminating 1 of the pursuing mark 30s and a few of the mark 10s, leaving it with a mark 30 and six mark 10s on it, coming from two directions. Ben's damaged Blizzard dropped a decoy and nixed one of the two incoming torps but was destroyed by the second one. His crippled Hellbender took both torps but I rolled pathetically low damage and had to send a pair of Blizzards up to finsih the job. Shawn managed to eliminate all but one of the incoming torpedos on his Lance Electra with a decoy and all but 2 on Salamander 1 and all but 3 on salamander 2. The Electra was hit with the torp as it moved to engage a talon and lost torpedo targeting on the crit. Ben moved his undamaged Hellbender and remaining Blizzards and Pit Viper to help the Electra with Mindi's ships. I moved the other pair of Blizzard's to engage the undamaged Hellbender.

Shawn had moved a Salamander in range of the second Nighthawk and paid a heavy price as the Salamander lost a weapon mount as well as several drive points and some damage reduction. Shawn and Mindi again traded fire, resulting in moderate damage to the Electra and light damage to the second Salamander and a pair of Talons. The Talon that had moved to screen the Nighthawks shot down the remaining Mark 30 coming after Nighthawk 1. My Blizzards failed to do much damage to either Hellbender and Shawn's damaged Salamander missed it's shot at the Nighthawk that hurt it. Ben scored a light hit for 1 damage on the Spirit Rider with the Pit Viper and missed with the Hellbender. One of his Blizzard's crippled my lead Blizzard up at the Hellbender with a point blank shot and a lucky crit leaving it with a drive of 1 and a devensive value of 8. Shawn's missiles finished off Mindi's Talon when they caught up with it at the end of the round.

As round 3 started Shawn launched 10 missiles against Nighthawk 2 and Ben launched a torp against one of my Blizzards which was harassing the wounded Hellbender.

My first Nighthawk dropped it's second decoy leaving two mark 10s pursuing it. Shawn retreated his mostly undamaged Salamander away from the oncoming Nighthawks, but it would not save him from the unleashed fury of Bob Squadron. Mindi put a Talon and the Spirit Rider on the Electra and the other Talons on the wounded Salamander. Nighthawk 1 shot past one of the oncoming topredos leaving it out of range and hit the Salamander hard, causing it to loose two weapon mounts. The pilot dodged the torp that caught up with it easily, leaving one mark 10 pursuing. Nighthawk 2 abandoned the heavily wounded Salamander and finshed the job on the Salamander who had just retreated. Mindi finished off the second Salamander and the Lance Electra went down from the combined onslaught of Mindi's Talon and one of my Blizzards. My crippled Blizzard finished the Hellbender off but was destroyed by Ben's Blizzard. Ben's Pit Viper moved to fire on Nighthawk 1 but was picked off by one of my Blizzards before it got to fire. Nighthawk 2 took moderate damage from the missiles, losing it's meld laser to the crit, but was still very much in the fight.

Ben conceded the game rather than suffer through the next round. He had a wounded Hellbender and a couple of damaged Blizzards facing a damaged Spirit Rider, Three undamaged Blizzards, a minimally damaged Nighthawk, three Talons with varying degrees of damage, and a moderately damaged but functional Nighthawk.

I learned that paying for quality crew defiintiely paid off as there's a huge advantage to shooting first and the high piloting paid off in initiative rolls alone, and made dodging one or two torpedos an almost sure thing. I'll definitely keep my fewer ships, better crew approach in the future. I think we all saw the value of basic tactics as well. I know that Mindi and I did a good job making sure our ships had cover from wingmen at all times and kept pretty tight (albeit small) formations to give us concentrated fields of fire. In the end, I think that more than anything contributed to our victory.
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Eliot Hemingway
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Great detailed report! Looks like you've learned three solid lessions about this game:

1) Good crew skills pay off.
2) Nighthawks are brutal (but can be handled by coordinated Torpedo strikes).
3) Formations and mutual support are the key to the game.

Welcome to one of the most enjoyable tactical wargames around!
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Benjamin Lainhart
United States
vestal
New York
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I enjoyed reading about it almost as much as I enjoyed playing it. There will be a rematch soon. Shawn and I have learned from our mistakes and you can be sure we will not fall that easily again!
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