The Kzintis developed their first battle pods in Y135, hoping to use it as a surprise against pirates and enemy raiders, and also to give their tugs some combat capability if a war situation ever became desperate.

After the first set of pods was successfully tested at the weapons labs on Kzintai, they were placed on a tug to be taken to a starbase and stored for use as needed. The tug joined a convoy headed in that direction, not expecting combat but ready for it if it should come. As luck would have it, a group of pirates chose to raid the convoy during the voyage, giving the battle pods their first field test (and four pirate captains a rude surprise).

We played this SFB scenario from S2 today with me in charge of the convoy and Kzinti defenders and Mike and Mark splitting the duties of the four Orion ships.

For all the angst and fear that the tug caused the Orion captains going in, it didn’t perform all that well. It is easily the single most powerful unit in Y135 — if you can get it pointed in the right direction. It is, after all, a tug. Combat maneuvers are not an important part of the design.

In the actual event, the Kzintis are protecting a convoy of four freighters (one of which is a Q-ship) with the transport battle tug, and a frigate against two Orion Raider Cruisers and two Light Raiders. In some ways this scenario was fought a little oddly, as we’re still introducing a number of basic rules, so capturing the freighters was something of an abstract concept.

The first couple turns went fairly well, as I got an idea of how I wanted to run my defense and everybody got their weapons charged. Turns 2 and 3 saw accurate disruptor volleys from the tug hurt one of the LRs and wreck a shield on a CR. As a result, the LR wandered out of the action to keep from engaging with the downed shield, while the Orions had crippled a small freighter.

Then the problems began. It became harder and harder to line up the tug for a good shot, the FF got separated and pounded once too many times and speed 8 and 12 drones were too easy to deal with.

Mike pointed out that I should have spread the drones out a bit to keep the opportunities to sidestep them down, instead of stacking them all. That was part of the initial plan. The first turn, I decided the stacks were a bit better, simply to help discourage a direct approach with bunched Orions, which they did. After that, I should have been spreading them out more, but I think doing the paperwork for six ships and acting as controller was overloading my ability to put in all the finesse I should have into such things. I think my load out on the drone racks was good (the tug used 1 load of Type-Is, one of V-Xs, and one of IIs), I just needed to use the expensive ones on the second set of launches instead of the third.

In the end, one small freighter was captured, one was hurt, the large freighter was dead in space (no power left), the Q-ship hurt, the FF crippled, and the Tug unhurt. The Orions got away with three hurt ships (some of that was self-inflicted…). The overall total came out to an Astounding Victory for the Orions, showing they cut and ran at a good time, since another round could yet have seen the tug finally get the close pass it desired (it has a forest of phaser-3s and the batteries to hold most anything in place so the drones can get it). However, range 5 was about the closest the Orions ever got, and with the stealth bonus, the disruptor volley is about the only reliable damage it has.

The tug captain, I fear, is going to be the guest of honor at the Patriarch’s next banquet….

So the calendar has now officially rolled over to Y136 in our game universe, and we’ll be doing a generic patrol scenario set in that year next time.