Mark and I are getting into weekly Vassal sessions to supplement our FtF gaming, and maybe finish off ones we can’t do in a session. We started off with Star Fleet Battles scenario SH76, “Quarantine”, which is part of the Y160 timeline we’re in as a group.

Plague had broken out on a small planet near the Klingon Border. The planet had not been colonized and only had personnel who were surveying it for colonization. The CLH Refuge was sent to the planet to rescue them. The Refuge was accompanied by a single escort vessel because the Klingons were too involved in their current war with the Kzintis and Hydrans to interfere, or so it was thought.

A Klingon Commander serving a penance tour on a penal frigate became aware of the plight, and he arrived to “investigate possible biological warfare experiments” in hopes of earning a quick ticket off the penal ship.

This is something of a scenario to show off the hospital cruiser and the F5J. Mark took the Federation force, which has a POL and the CLH. The CLH is by far the bulkiest thing in the scenario, and has armor to boot, but it only has four ph-3s for armament, so all the fighting is on the POL. The action centers on a planet and a small moon, both of which have a small outpost on side B (they are shut down, and pure accounting exercises for if they get shot up) each with 8 crew units (the standard) who are infected and must be transported directly to the CLH (which has the facilities to contain them), and two crew units from the CLH (who are apparently not infected yet). The Federation needs to get the infected crew units up to the CLH and off-board (with a minimum of 10).

The Klingons have a single F5J, which is better armed than the Federation force put together, but is limited by ph-2s and a poor crew. It comes on board at the start of the game, and wants to get 10 information points on each station before all the infected crew units are removed (I didn’t see anything about it, but I ruled that the EW system impacts the research table—it is a poor crew after all—which meant I generally had a +1 to my rolls), and kill one ship before leaving (which is likely to be the POL).

The Federation ships start in orbit of the planet, and Mark started up the CLH at speed 9, while the POL went 12 (thanks to being Nimble), and the F5J came in at 15, a speed I would largely stick to. The CLH was running 4 ECM (giving me 7 to burn through after my poor crew penalty), while the F5J put up 2. The CLH immediately beamed two crew units up from the planet (it also only has two transporters; I’d think an extra or two would make sense for a hospital ship). I got to range three of the planet at the end of the first turn, and a poor roll get me all of 2 points of info (1×2 labs…), while the Feds headed down, and regrouped.

Turn 2, the CLH went 12, and boosted to 6 ECM (giving a total of 9, or +2 for me if I didn’t spend on ECCM), the POL used 2 ECM and everything else stayed the same. I cruised next to the planet and then headed for the moon, hoping to get decent info on both. Bad rolls continued, getting me 6 points on the planet (total 8) and 8 on the moon after having been adjacent to both.

Unfortunately, I didn’t record full logs for turns 3 and 4, and turn three was where the main battle pass happened. I shifted down to speed 13 and overloaded both disruptors, heading back to the planet to get decent range to both during the turn, and get my information gathering finished off. The Feds had ended turn 2 near the planet again, and the CLH headed off to moon for turn 4 transports, while I went after the POL.

We ended up with a range 1 pass around impulse 10, with main weapons fire happening slightly earlier. Thanks to turn and sideslip restrictions, I was able to hit him with a drone as the pass ended, and if I had looked at the impulse chart earlier, could have gotten him with a suicide shuttle as well (as it was, it got crippled by phaser fire, and spent the rest of the scenario wandering around trying vainly to get to the POL. The F5J took two internals through the #2 shield (Hull & Aux Con), while a disruptor damaged the POL’s #1, and the drone collapsed #2, followed by good close-range ph-2 fire to do a warp hit, take out the #1 phaser, and almost all the cargo and hull. Not still combat effective, but the padding was largely gone.

I spent turn four recharging phasers and starting work on the down shield, and keeping it away from the Feds drove me further out of the way than I intended. I dropped down to speed 11, and stayed there for turn 5, while the POL went up to 15, and the CLH to 14 (increasing to 17 for turn 5). The CLH kept to 6 ECM the entire time, making sure I had no good shots at it as it continued to transport up two crew units a turn. Towards the end of turn four, I got a phaser shot off at the POL to damage the #3 shield, and then missed with an overloaded disruptor on Impulse 1 of turn 5 as it pulled out of range.

At this point, it was time to pull down some extra power, and try to maneuver a bit more, as I wasn’t getting any more solid shots at the POL; but that would cost overloads on the disruptors. However, things got interrupted by a too-hurried re-reading of the victory conditions, and we missed the ‘all surviving’ part of the Federation’s victory condition, leaving us with the ‘at least 10’, which Mark was up to now. A quick look showed that I couldn’t really intercept either ship if it went to disengage.

And yeah, that was wrong. Oops. On the other hand, Mark only had three turns of transports needed left (generally all at the moon, and the POL had picked up the uninfected crew there already too), and I was not going to get another close pass like the first one if Mark had anything to say about it. Overall, I needed to be a lot more aggressive of a Klingon commander. I concentrated on the information-gathering first, so I wouldn’t need to worry about it, but even with the EW shift, I finished that off on turn 3 without trouble.

Of course, killing a CLH with a F5J takes a fair amount of work, and the POL is the one that can hurt you, so it’s the only real viable target. But while it’s not as well armed, being nimble and a regular crew makes up for a lot. Just don’t get caught in a short-range tussle unless you need to save the CLH. I’ll admit I wasn’t as gung-ho going into this one as some of the other scenarios, as I find it only moderately interesting. But once again, I find just having a planet on the map can do a lot to change the nature of maneuvering, and this one gives a better reason to hang around it than most.

A turn 1 dash for the POL and anchor it… nah. Most likely you can’t get there that fast. If the POL doesn’t want to fight, you have have to force it to save the CLH, or force it towards a corner of the fixed map, and while possible, that’s not something I normally think in terms of (I tend to prefer floating).