Crossposted from the SFU blog on BGG.

My efforts to separate out the Federation 4th Fleet SB had finally paid off, with it being its own 5 EP grid, that spent 4.5 on repairs, with further ships needing work. However, Byron was able to call up POLs that restored a connection to that part of the grid, and got most of the Kzinti navy away from the capital back in supply, both of which meant the ships got their fighters replenished.

Federation: CVA, CF, TG, 8xNCL, NCD, LTT, 9xFF, 3xFFE, 4xDD->DE, FF->FFE
Kzinti: CV, TGC, LTT, 3xMEC, 3xFKE, 3xFF, FF->FFK
Hydran: RN, CU, PGV

Hydran raids of course hit the same back-area Klingon provinces as always, disrupting the area, and crippling one F5, which is a marked improvement. There was only one Kzinti raid, which wiped out a garrisoning E4. The Federation raids similarly went after garrisons, though one was sitting on planet 2610, which was the only one to survive (crippled, and retreated off the planet), while the other two F5s died. Gorn raids both went after Romulan garrisons in Federation space, and for a change the cloaking devices worked, so the Gorns disrupted Romulan control of the provinces, but didn’t get the garrisons. (Maybe the Federation needs to share their cloak detectors with the Gorns.)

I was surprised to see a significant Fed force move even further away from the Romulan border, but it turned out that Byron wanted to pin the Klingon South Fleet so it couldn’t intercept his cripples as they headed to the capital (which was six hexes away and had to pass adjacent). This helped insure that the Romulans had sufficient pinning for most everything else that came in, and only one major target was hit (one of the captured Federation planets).

Meanwhile Hydran moves went fairly predictably. He sent forces to pin both reserves in the theater and moved to sweep the Klingons off all the planets in the area. However, I was set up slightly better than two turns ago, and managed at least local parity in a few places as he stretched to get at them all.

Bryon didn’t bother with the planets held deeper in the Federation at all, and concentrated on knocking out the Klingon border, and the planet closest to Klingon space, along with the northern NZ planet. At the same time, the Kzinti finally came boiling out of their capital to challenge Lyran control of the west half of their territory, taking out 1001, which I hadn’t really been trying to hold, while also going after the fortifications on 1105, which had become under-shipped with the pressures elsewhere.

The Kzinti strike back.

Dismantling the border.

Maneuvers towards and away from the Romulan front.

The Hydran Ulcer bleeds…

The Gorn prepare.

0319: SSC: Mutual retreat
1001: Lyran: FF destroyed; planet captured
0519: SSC: Mutual retreat; planet captured
0718: SSC: Mutual retreat; planet captured
1203: SSC: Lyran: FF destroyed
1805: SSC: Lyran: crip DDG
1804: SSC: Lyran: crip DW
1803: SSC: Lyran: dest cripDDG
2003: SSC: Klingon: dest E4
2106: Klingon: crip D7, D5, F5; Federation: crip FF, capture planet
3707: SSC: Romulan: dest K4; Federation: retreat
3609: SSC: Romulan: crip K4 & retreat
3410: SSC: NE (mutual retreat)
2602: Klingon: dest F5L
2407: Klingon: dest F5; Federation: crip FF
2210: Klingon: capture CL
2608: Klingon: dest F5
0617: Klingon: dest E4; Hyran: capture capital
0517: Klingon: dest F5, crip D6M, D5, 2xF5, F5S; Hydran: dest RN
0518: Klingon: dest MD5; Hydran: dest TR
1202: Lyran: dest DW; Kzinti: dest EFF
1105: Lyran: dest BATS, FRD, DWE, crip 3xDW; Kzinti: dest 3xEFF; capture cripCW, planet
1802: Lyran: dest CW, DWE, crip CW; Kzinti: dest SF, planet captured
1702: Lyran: crip FF; Kzinti: dest POL
1809: Klingon: dest BATS, 1xD5, crip AD5; Federation: dest 2xDE
1910: Klingon: dest cripD5, cripAD5, E4, G2; Federation: dest FF; planet liberated
1707: Klingon: dest BATS, F5L, G2, crip D5S; Kzinti: dest FKE
1807: Klingon: dest BATS, F5J; Lyran: crip STT, DW; Federation: dest CC, NSC
3110: Klingon: crip D6, D5, 2xF5
3611: Romulan: dest SKE; Federation: crip 2xNCL, 2xFF
3610: Romulan: dest cripK4
3711: Romulan: dest KRC, SKE; Gorn: dest 2xHD, crip HD, 2xBD, BDS
3911: Romulan: dest SP, crip SP, SPB, 2xSK, CE; Gorn: crip CL, 3xDD, CL captured
3808: Romulan: crip FHF, SP, dest SEH; Federation: dest NCD, CC; Gorn: crip DD

The Hydran front featured a few SSCs where I had a disadvantage, but Byron didn’t roll better than 1 casualty. Because of working from the small outer battles in, I was able to consolidate into the larger battles, where either things were more even, or I could sacrifice one or two ships out of the combined fleet instead of losing 2-3 per battle.

1805 happened to have supply sources that pulled both forces directly up, turning it into a three-hex running battle, with the Lyrans taking 2 casualties each time, and never able to touch the Kzintis (I couldn’t do more than force a retreat which just continues the problem anyway). Even better, this was accidental instead of a purposeful set-up.

The pile of Klingon cripples from last turn were weathering in 2106, and I withdrew them out of the fight there. I thought that prevented them from being picked off in retreat (as the rules state to put them in the new hex immediately), but actually they do get pursued. As it was, it kept them out of the way, and the Federation pursuit roll failed, saving them.

The Romulans are still having trouble with the cloaking devices, with three out of three attempts to evade combat failing. At least in the last one, Byron rolled a ‘2’ allowing the SNB to escape unharmed.

The one unpinned Klingon reserve didn’t have anything pressing to do, so it went to a pinning battle, where Byron gave up a CL to retreat out a FF. My poor luck on captures finally turned around, and I got the CL. As I consider spending the money on conversion a good deal compared to overbuilding for pin count, I’ll probably keep it, and maybe turn it into an LSC (which would be one less D6S I need).

The Hydran capital area turned into a small problem for Byron, as we had a pinning battle in 0518. If he resolved that before the capital fight, I could retreat into there and have a lot more ships than he did. If he retreated after the capital fight, then I could still retreat into the hex (to avoid the fight in 0517, or because it was just as valid as 0517). And if he did it before the fight in 0517, I could still have a choice to go back into the capital. So he ended up doing 0517 without a proper command ship, which was stuck in the capital, and that reduced the pain on my fighterless fleet a little. Sadly, the D6M shocked, and I really wanted to have an operational 10-point mauler available in the area.

I’d been expecting an assault on 1105 from the beginning, when the Lyrans started fortifying the captured Kzinti planet, and it finally happened this time. Byron apparently expected me to leave after the first round, but even if the available fleet was inadequate, I finally had a chance to hit him from behind my fortifications, though as ever with the Kzinti it was impossible to kill anything other than escorts. I stuck some cripples awaiting their turn at the FRD on the line for the third round, and he promptly captured the CW he directed on to kill. It’s a pity I can’t be everywhere at once; the Kzintis ran through almost all of their spare fighters in the fighting that did happen. I’m happy he didn’t get the LTT that was setting up a PDU (also lost) on the planet (I just don’t have enough transports).

1809/1910 was a trap I didn’t see until too late. I knew that the Federation 3rd Fleet would inevitably retreat over NZ planet 1910, and thought to try to prevent that, only to realize too late that I would also have to retreat there. (I’m generally fine with the retreat rules, but keep feeling like I should just always be able to retreat towards my own capital, especially if I’m already within my own space, as I would in any other game.) I went around in circles with several different plans to get myself out of the hole I’d dug, all of which had their own problems before managing to get out with only a few destroyed ships (instead of wrecking the entire force).

I actually had a somewhat bigger fleet for the base battle in 1807, but didn’t realize that ahead of time, and let him into the base. He probably would have passed approach on the first try (he rolled better), but it would have been another round to wear the Federation down before he directed the BATS.

The Romulan battles all went fairly well. The Gorns can put out big lines more easily than the Lyrans can, which is a problem, and their ability to do field repairs at the normal repair rate means their cripples don’t stay that way for long. But while the Romulan carrier force is still getting itself established, almost all of the Federation carriers have passed out of the area, and the Gorns never have very many, allowing the Romulans some better ability to absorb damage.

I knew that Byron would be going after more of the line Klingon BATS on the Fed border this turn, but was hoping to save at least one, and failed. Now the entire chain of supply into my gains into Federation space is extremely fragile (I need to hold on to planets that I failed to this time), and there’s no immediately obvious way to restore it. Worse, a chunk of the Kzinti fleet retrograded to the 4th Fleet SB, making that area even more dangerous. The good news is that most of the plan in that area is already accomplished, and it might still be possible to make the supply grid to that SB purely reliant on devastated planets, which can be retaken each turn. The question becomes if that is currently worthwhile. I have a lot of ships semi-permanently out of supply, and I’m not sure that going further down this rabbit hole would pay off….