Crossposted from the SFU blog on BGG.

I started Turn 3 with a fair amount of confidence. Both halves of Turn 2 went well for me, and short of Belirahc slipping a large force into the capital, I was pretty sure I could hold what I wanted.

After some fencing with his initial attempts to reach targets, I started getting worried. He was getting much more aggressive on what he was targeting, and I was looking at losing interior planets. 1001 and 1504 were unsurprising; those are common Turn 2 targets for me. However, he hit 1202; first he moved some Lyrans towards it, which I intercepted, and then a force of Klingons, which I couldn’t stop. He also moved in a force against the major planet in 1502.

I had only one Reserve force available, as I had established one in 1604. I didn’t have enough ships eligible to form Reserves otherwise after my heavy raids last turn, and figured they’d do the job of distracting ships from other targets to pin them. That worked, and because he neglected to send a high enough command rating ship, I was still able to send out a CV to the starbase fight in 1304. The other one was forced to save 1502 instead of helping with an SB fight.

Situation at end of movement, showing major moves, reactions, reserves, and retreats.

The biggest mistake was forgetting to reinforce 1105 after a FF was pinned there by the defense fighters. So, that’s one planet he had no chance at this turn.

All of this led to a large number of battles, as well as the two large fights for the SBs.

0802 – no casualties – Kzinti retreat to 0903
0906 – Kzinti: crip FF
1004 – Kzinti: dest BATS; Lyran: crip DD, dest FF
1805 – Kzinti: dest BATS; Klingon: crip F5
1105 – Lyran: crip FF, retreat to 1004
1504 – Kzinti: 2xPDU; Klingon: crip F5, E4, capture planet
1506 – Neutral: 2xPDU; Klingon: crip F5, capture planet
1202 – Kzinti: 2xPDU; Klingon: crip 2xF5, capture planet
1604 – Klingon: crip 3xF5
1502 – Kzinti: crip CC, MEC, EFF; Klingon: crip CVT, D6V, F5, 4xE4A
1103 – Kzinti: crip DD; Lyran: crip DD
1001 – Kzinti: 2xPDU; Lyran: crip DW, FF, dest DW, capture planet
0902 – Kzinti: 4 SIDS, crip CC, BC, CVL, CLE, 3xDD, 2xEFF, dest CLE, EFF, FF; Lyran: crip 2xCA, 6xCW, 3xCL, 2xDW, dest BC, 3xCL, 3xDD
1304 – Kzinti: dest SB, crip CC, 2xBC, CL, CLE, FF, EFF, dest DD, 2xFF, SF; Klingon: crip 2xD7C, D6M, D5, 2xF5 dest D7, 2xD6, 6xD5, F5L, 4xF5, FV, E4A, D5 captured

Belirahc went pretty methodically from the small battles to the big ones. The order of resolution can be important, but it worked out well for him. I was able to retreat my force on 1001 intact to the SB, so he had to face it twice, but he avoided a worse trap. I was considering giving up the SB in 0902 and retreating onto 1001 so that he couldn’t take it. But once he had taken it, there was little point, since it still wouldn’t produce income for me.

Surprisingly, everything stayed in supply after combat, other than the FF that had been province raiding in Klingon space, and managed to retreat into 1005 after merely being crippled by a CA.

The first SB battle, on the Lyran border, went well. I crippled more than I liked, but forcing him to fight the SB again with my fighters replenished will still cause a good amount of hurt.

The Duke’s SB (Klingon border) turned into a long, bloody affair, with both of us refusing to blink. Three rounds in, he used directed damage. In a close battle, this is often a mistake, as the inefficiency of directed damage puts you behind the curve on wrecking the enemy’s ability to resist. However, here, it was a good choice. He killed all my fighters on the line, and I had already burned through all my spares. This lowered my ComPot substantially and allowed him to stick it out much longer. Later I returned the favor by direct destroying an FV group. But that wasn’t done to lower his ComPot, but to permanently kill a carrier and its free fighter reloads.

It certainly hurt my chances to keep the SB. It came very close, with the Klingons only with about an extra six uncrippled ships left in reserve (small ones at that). But I had already wrecked too much of my fleet, and left a couple of rounds past when I should have.

My biggest disappointment was actually in the fight for 1502. It wasn’t to hard to drive him off. But, when he retreated, I had a choice: retreat myself, pulling back to the repair facilities of the capital, and allowing all the damage to be made good, or pursue and try to take out a few ships permanently. With two crippled Klingon carrier groups retreating, I chose pursuit. I, naturally, rolled another ‘6’ for pursuit, giving me neither option.

So, both sides forces are a mess. The carriers are generally intact, but the escorts took a pounding, and the Kzinti treasury is drained by all the drone bombardment I paid for. Another turn of this will see the end of Kzinti resistance outside the capital and the Marquis region (if he enters that area, the Federation will intervene). Belirahc did a very good job this turn, especially in having the fortitude to stick out the second SB assault, never an easy task. The main problem is that he left the supply grid intact, so there’s no partial grids splitting up the money, and making ship construction more difficult.

So, will he continue against the Kzinti, or turn his main attention to the Hydrans?