At the start of April, Mark and I returned to our SFB campaign. This time, we went to the battle at Mark’s third base, in Region 5. This features one of my two main ‘base busting’ fleets, led by a WDN. With it, I had two heavy cruisers and a light cruiser, plus two frigates. With 25 EPV left in my command limit, I could have put in another frigate (the WNF is only 21, though everything else is too big at 31 and up), or used destroyers instead, but I was out of any of those. Mark, limited by the first turn rules, only had a WCA and and WFF with his base, making it a notably smaller force than last time.

Mark set up next to his base rolled low for weapon status 1 again, while I set up behind the ships (at range 35). I came in at speed 10, while the Carnivons went 7. At that speed the WDN and WVF were running with good EW, though the WRL had a minimal 1/0 and the WFF couldn’t manage any. Only the base put up EW for Mark (it is easy to suppose that charging phasers was more than enough power drain as it was).

On turn 2, the Carnivons picked up to speed 11, while I split between 11 and 12. The Carnivon WCA Wolfbite (201) put up a point of ECM, while I generally reduced mine. On impulse 9 the base launched a pair of death bolts at the oncoming fleet. The Carnivon ships slowly turned clockwise, and on impulse 24 I turned towards their new course at range 17 from the base. The Carnivons immediately turned off, presenting a stern chase. On turn 3, he slowed down to 9 and 10, and then continued counter-clockwise, putting the base between the fleets.  I had increased everyone’s speed to 12, and on impulse 11 broke off to turn for a run at the base, which fired its disruptor cannon at WVF USS Intrepid (SF-68) on impulse 17, but missed, thanks to ECM it was running.

On impulse 32 the lead two ships reached range 8 and unloaded. WCA USS Mare Serenitatis (SF-25) and WRL USS Gatherer (SF-70) each hit with one out of two photons (fairly good with a +1 shift, and it would have been all four without it), while the seven phasers from the two ships rolled horribly to do 3 damage. This left the base’s #6 at one box (I regretted that one box, as knocking it down would have forced him to use general reinforcement only on that shield).

Initial maneuvers, turns 1-3.

My speeds dropped down to 9 (the frigates) and 10 (all others) on turn 4. The base had been loaning offensive EW to WDN USS Venus (SF-38), so it countered with 4 ECCM, even though it would still suffer a +2 shift if the base kept at full EW (4 ECM + 4 self-loaned, or used as O-EW). However, the base apparently was now short of power, as it dropped all loaning (presumably to reinforce the #6 shield), though it kept up 4 ECM.

The Carnivon ships came around to rejoin the base as my line continued running to range 8. On impulse 4 the base fired all four ph-1s at Gatherer, doing seven damage on mid-range rolls (after reinforcement) to the #2 shield. Simultaneously, Venus fired all three photon torpedoes and six phasers into the base, with a mix of high and low rolls for one torpedo hit and nine phaser damage to get one internal (hull) past the shield and armor.

The base rotated before the trailing ships could get to range 8, but Serenitatis got to the shield boundary on 13, put a battery into ECCM to reduce the shift to +1, and fired three phasers into the down shield, for two damage, taking out cargo and hull. After this, I turned away to avoid the Carnivon ships, outrun the two sets of death bolts the base had launched, and start rearming for the next pass. On impulse 25, the Carnivons were ten hexes from the base, and Wolfbite launched a pair of death bolts.

The base repaired one shield box at the end of turn 4, while his ships increased speed slightly to 12 and 10. I increased speed to 12 (frigates) and 11. This was needed to get a little more distance on the death bolts, but did constrain my rearming efforts a bit. My plan had been to spend two turns looping around counterclockwise, and hit the base again as the #6 came around (and be working off my left side instead of right), but Mark interfered with this plan, his ships cruising by the base near the end of the turn. On impulse 26 the base and WFF Sharp Claw (25) each launched a death bolt, and on the next impulse Sharp Claw and Wolfbite fired phasers at WFF USS Marengo (SF-23) in the 9-15 bracket, doing 5 damage to bring down the #1 shield (which technically has six boxes, but since that last box is the only benefit of full-power shields, it was running with minimal shields all battle). On 28, the base launched a second death bolt and fired the disruptor cannon all four ph-1s at the Marengo, to do ten internals through the down shield, knocking out a warp, all impulse, the only bearing phaser, and the photon torpedo. She turned away while the rest of the fleet headed in, and did a point to Wolfbite‘s #5 with the rear phaser.

For turn 6, Marengo couldn’t do better than speed 6 (after housekeeping—turning off fire control—and repairing the #1), while Intrepid stayed at 12 (with 1 ECM) and the heavier ships all went 10. The Carnivons sped up, with Wolfbite going 12 and Sharp Claw doing 15(!), with the base loaning ECM to both ships. On impulse 4, the base’s phasers recycled and fired at USS Gatherer, doing two points to the #6 shield (after reinforcement), while Venus and WRC USS Rover (SF-72) fired at Wolfbite, hitting with one out of three photon torpedoes, and moderate rolls on six phasers to do 14 damage, punching through the #5 to do four damage to the armor. The next impulse, Serenitatis and Gatherer fired, missing with two photon torpedoes, but good phaser rolls did four damage to finish off Wolfbite‘s armor. On 6, Rover fired on the base, and knocked the two repaired boxes of shield #6 down with great rolls (after reinforcement).

Turn 6, Impulse 4, showing movement from T5-I24 to T6-I8.

After that, I turned off, plotting to make another run at the base in about three turns, since the two-turn turnaround of this one had proven much too short to get all batteries and phasers recharged while rearming any photons. Wolfbite went down to speed 7 for turn 7, while Sharp Claw stayed at 15, and my speeds stayed the same (other than Marengo dropping shield repair to recharge the phaser capacitor and go speed 9). Marengo headed towards a far corner, while the main fleet started circling around, with the Carnivons circled in the opposite direction, and well inside of me, passing by the base headed away from me near the end of the turn.

Speeds were the same for turn 8, except that Marengo (now ~20 hexes from the base and enemy ships) went back down to speed 6 to start repairing the #1 shield again, and it was a quiet turn of maneuver. On 9, the Carnivons dropped to about half speed (5 and 8), while my main group dropped to 8. While the Carnivon ships were coming around again, those speeds meant there would be no immediate interference as I lined up my next shot at the base. Wolfbite fired a pair of death bolts on 13, and the base fired the disruptor cannon at Gatherer‘s weak #2, but missed (he would have been advised to hold it until I came closer, but Mark seems to have been mystified as to my plan at this point). On 28, the lead of my line started turning in to hit range 8 to the base early next turn, when the #6 shield would come around to face me.

My fleet speed went back up to 10 as I endeavored to get my timing right, and most of the big ships were finishing the reload of their last photon torpedoes (Gatherer was holding one of two, and not even trying on the second, which I’ll get into below). The Carnivon ships sped up for turn 10, with Sharp Claw going 14, and Wolfbite 10. To my surprise, the Carnivon ships turned off in the first impulses of the turn, but I was a too busy to really think about Marengo out by itself, and still going speed 6. The base’s latest round of death bolts (and last ones until he could get the ready racks reloaded) got out to my line, and forced Rover to sideslip out as they seemed to be targeted on her.

On impulse 10, I got to my range 8 shot, and the base loaned two offensive ECM to Venus and fired the disruptor cannon and two ph-1s at Mare Serenitatis, doing eight damage to her #2. The next impulse, the other two phasers fired for six more damage, cracking the shield and doing two points of armor damage. Meanwhile, Venus and Serenitatis fired, getting four out of five photon hits, but only seven damage with eleven phasers on horrible rolls. This was still enough to punch a shield reinforced to sixteen strength and do 23 internals. On 14, Gatherer made range 8 and missed with both phasers, but hit with its photon for another eight internals. All of this wrecked the base, taking out all “weapon” systems other than 2 RX ph-1s and 1xspecial sensor. Power wasn’t touched, but all hull was gone, and a combined total of 21 repair and cargo hits were left.

As I started working back away from the base, I realized that the Carnivon ships were after the Marengo, but at the end of the turn I was still getting the fleet turned around to chase after them. This wasn’t bad, as she was leading them from the base, and towards the edge of the map, where I might force a disengagement. By the end of the turn, Marengo was ten hexes from the edge of the map, Sharp Claw was nine hexes behind her, and Wolfbite another seven back. Turn 11 was obviously going to be a chase, and Mark turned up the speeds to 14 on Wolfbite and 15 on Sharp Claw, while Marengo had just repaired the warp engine to go 12 (with fire control on), Intrepid went 15, and the heavier ships went 10 and 11.

Towards the end of the turn, Marengo reached the edge of the map and turned to skim along the edge, able to sideslip and disengage if it took too much damage. By impulse 30, range from Sharp Claw was down to 5, and she fired the rear phaser to bounce a point off Sharp Claw‘s reinforcement.

For turn 12, Sharp Claw slowed down to 12, while Wolfbite worked up to speed 14. Marengo stayed at 12, Intrepid dropped to 12, and the big units stayed at 10 and 11, except for Gatherer, which dropped to 9 to start loading a second photon torpedo now that her batteries and phaser capacitors were nearly full. On impulse 3, Sharp Claw launched a death bolt at Marengo, and fired phasers to do two damage to shield #3. Two impulses later, Wolfbite followed suit with her four forward phasers to do five damage (at range 10) causing two internals, Aux Control and the warp engine, and also fired a pair of death bolts back at Intrepid.

After this, Mark turned the opposite direction from Marengo, following the map edge up as the rest of the fleet gave chase. I had anticipated him trying to destroy Marengo, or at least force a disengage (which would force her to sit out a turn), and then disengage himself. Instead, he went for the option that preserved distance to shake pursuit.

On turn 13, Sharp Claw went back to speed 15, while my speeds continued to fragment. The frigates both went 12 (Marengo still had fire control off, and was headed away from all action), while Venus and Rover went 11, Serenitatis went 10 (it could have done 12, but I was still repairing the #2 shield), and Gatherer was still at 9. Mark skimmed along the map edge until impulse 20, when he started turning in. I was actually still angling at the map edge myself, and plotting when I wanted to turn to parallel him with my slower ships: too far out, and he might turn around and get past me, too close and he’d get past me by turning in. I had been getting close to where I wanted to be (about a dozen hexes out), so turning to intercept was no problem, and on 28 he turned away to parallel the map edge again.

Turn 14 saw Mark run for distance as both ships turned off fire control, and Wolfbite hit speed 15, and Sharp Claw got to 18 (a WFF’s theoretical maximum speed is generally 19, but they usually don’t have the power for life support and shields at that point). All my ships went speed 12, except Serenitatis, still at 10 to repair the shield, and Marengo, which dropped to 3 to repair the #3 shield, and recharge the phaser capacitor. On impulse 15 he turned in from the map edge again (with only about a dozen hexes to go up), and then turned away again on 29, now with 8-10 hexes between him and the right edge.

On turn 15, the Carnivons slowed down to turn on fire control, going 14 and 16. Intrepid went back to 15, and Venus dropped its one point of ECM to get up to speed 13 (while holding three photons!… and a suicide shuttle I’d had from the beginning). Mark started turning towards the board edge, presumably looking to turn around and slip by me. On impulse 11 he launched three death bolts, possibly at USS Venus, which was closest. On 20, Sharp Claw fired her bearing phasers at Intrepid, but missing entirely at range 11, and then slipped off the map to disengage on the next impulse. Intrepid maneuvered to intercept the death bolts, doing 5 damage to one on impulse 28, and Venus downfired the left-side and rear phasers to clear all three DBs. At the same time, Wolfbite fired on Intrepid, doing five damage to knock down the #2 shield after the battery took care of the fifth point. Then Wolfbite sideslipped off the map to disengage.


With the YBS Clutch of Dogs already a mess, we figured I’d have no problem going back to it and slowly pounding it while using reinforcement at slow speed to take it down without any more damage. The following ships came out with permanent damage:

USS Mare Serenitatis has two armor damage.
USS Marengo is out all hull, the transporter, auxiliary control, and the photon torpedo.
Wolfbite is out all eight armor.

Since I had bigger ships, and Mark smaller, I figured this battle would go faster than Region 1. In a way it did; while both took 15 turns, there was more “dead time” in this one with no firing, so we didn’t need as many sessions to fight the battle. I think Mark was not expecting me to abandon Mahanian principles and go after the base first, but I figured that he’d probably stay under the guns of the base this time, so I’d need to take care of it sooner rather than later. I did have trouble getting used to a fleet that needed energy for photon torpedoes; I tried going at the speeds that the Andorian ships could do last time.

MVP goes to USS Venus (SF-38) this time. The Federation WDN is a very solid design, and the ability to go speed 14 while holding photon torpedoes is impressive. The five photon hits against the base on turn on turn 10 was lead by the Venus, and let the battle enter its final phase.

On the other hand, it has been shown that I have something of a “frigate gap”. I happened to have the two frigates with the smallest shields here, but Mark’s general plan was obviously to hit these fragile ships hard and force them to at least need repairs. USS Intrepid was saved by the fact that it has two extra impulse (I don’t think there’s any other 1/3 move cost ship that has four impulse) that allows it to keep ECM up and running when other ships are dry. Looking again, I realize that Federation ships have high crunch power and weak shields, while Carnivon ships have better shields and low crunch power, so this is an overall balanced match up. But my frigates will be vulnerable in any large fleet action, and when there’s bases with disruptor cannons.

This is only going to get worse, as the Carnivons get YFFs long before the Federation does, and the primary change is trading out the point-blank heel nipper for the moderate-range disruptor cannon. Thankfully, that is the major change, with only a modest increase in power and minimal shield improvements. The eventual Federation YFF is a much nastier ship, but its BPV is just below the YDD’s, which with our EPV/BPV based command system is going to be another headache for me.

WRL USS Gatherer (SF-70) was notable for having problems rearming after a battle pass. Some of this was the fact that it too was singled out as a Carnivon target, so it had shields to repair, but it had major problems recharging batteries and phasers, never mind loading photon torpedoes. Since pretty much all WCLs have the same power and demands as the WRL, I am concerned that the others will be just as bad. Or worse, since the Carnivon WCL, Terran WCL, and WAL have a 3/4 MC instead of 2/3.