Monday, September 5, 2011

Battle Rep #1: Dindrazi vs Directorate vs Soryllians

Note: This match was basically our second ‘intro game’ and as such we used a simplified set of rules which did not include fighter wings.

What started as a standard versus match turned into a three way free-for-all with death by asteroids, hot boarding actions, and even a reactor meltdown! A summary follows.

Our table today was a bit longer than wide, so we decided to setup on opposite ends of the board to avoid instant confrontation. My initial feeling was the long ‘corridor’ shape of the table would give advantage to Todd’s Dindrazi, as their gun platforms are far more forward-oriented than mine. My plan was to refuse a flank, run to the asteroids, and hope that my opponent would close too fast and succumb to my superior boarders and wide fire arcs once trapped inside the asteroids.

Things initially went as planned, with my fleet rapidly advancing into the asteroid belt while effectively shutting out the Dindrazi battleship from the first few turns of shooting. My cruisers and frigates combined fire on the Dindrazi frigates on my left flank, thinning their ranks and bringing them closer for an assault.

By turn three, I was able to unleash two cruisers worth of assault troops on the lead enemy frigate, whilst spreading fire to the rest. At first, I believed this to be a tactical error on my part, as I reasoned the cruisers combined 8 boarders would easily overwhelm the frigate trapping both sets of boarders on the same small prize. But one of the Dindrazi point defense gunners had been taking his lessons, and the little bastard managed to single handiedy kill 4 of my boarders. What would have been a sure thing now became a desperate several turn struggle for control of the frigate.

Which brings me to lesson one of from this match. Redundancy is key in this game, whether you’re shooting. boarding, etc.. Because the ‘rule of six’ adds a dangerous, ‘predictably unpredictable’ element to the probability curve, even ‘failsafe actions’ like my double boarding can and will go wrong. Takeaway? If its worth doing, make sure you are ready to try and do it twice.

Once both fleets reached the asteroids, things became a right bloody mess. In addition to the ships attempting to pummel each other at close range, the capital ships from both sides began laying patterns of mines at point blank range. This resulted in some spectacular chain explosions which caused little damage to the capital ships and significant anything else unlucky enough to be nearby, and often from friendly mines.

Which brings me to lesson two: Mines are effective when dropped behind a capital ship as an effective anti-little guy deterrent, and they can even damage cruisers, but the chain-reaction nature of them means that dropping them close to your formations can take out more of your own craft than the opponent’s. Mines are probably best dropped early on as you can shut-off parts of the board and have time to deploy the hell away from them.

Anyway, as I mentioned, once inside the asteroids all hell broke loose, but the nature of the asteroid belt dramatically changed the scope of fire from prior games. Halving all shooting within 8” and rendering all shooting outside of 8” impossible is a HUGE change from standard play. Even at close range, our capital ships were getting only a couple of dice to throw at one another, and so reduced, they were having a hard time taking out even small ships.

So that makes for lesson three: Asteroid fields will make large ships near indestructible. As long as your ship is moving at half speed and not rolling on the nasty asteroid table, all dice coming in a re halved. That’s huge against ships with DR of 6-8, as it means your opponent is never going to be throwing the handfuls of dice needed to get past those high DR’s – even when they are outside the field shooting in.

All and all things were going well for the Directorate. Then the Soryllians arrived.

Not having enough time to play out separate matches, we agreed mid-game to have Reuben’s Soryllians come in as a third party force. While Rueben was being admittedly even-handed in his distribution of fire, he managed to catch one of my cruisers outside the belt and melted its reactor in a single volley – with the resultant explosion pulling down TWO more of my frigates. For some reason, I was reminded of the HMS Hood. But I digress.

By game end, the Soryllians were advancing on the rear of the Directorate, who in turn were advancing on the rear of the Dindrazi, who themselves were making shunting actions to try to get the hell out of there!

A good time was had by all, and only a few people got pushed out of airlocks.

So that’s it for this battle. No profound, game-altering tactical revelations, just some insight on how asteroids work and an important lesson about boarding – bring friends.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the all-important ‘range band 2’ should dictate movement and deployment, but as of right now those ideas are too nebulous to share.

Until Next Time,

“Admiral” Eldritch

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