As expected, the only Federation involvement in the game so far is sending the 4th Fleet across the border to aid the Kzinti. Belirahc tried striking into the Marquis area, but it was pretty obvious where things were headed, so I was able intercept some of it, and none of his attacks got anywhere.

On the Hydran front it was different. Well, it was still pretty obvious where things were going, but I couldn’t do anything about it. He pinned the reserve in 0119, and established a pretty strong cordon separating the Old Colonies from the Capital (3-5 ships per hex), hit the minor planet at 0519… and poured approximately 200 ships into the capital.

Kzinti Theater. The Federation is getting sucked in….

Hydran Theater

1803: Federation: crip CC, CA; Klingon: dest 2xF5
1602: Kzinti: crip MEC, CL, dest EFF; Klingon: crip D7C, dest 2xE4A
1503: Kzinti: crip MEC, EFF, BC; Klingon: dest F5L, 2xF5
1506: Kzinti: dest FF; Klingon: crip E4
1502: Kzinti: crip MEC, EFF; Lyran: dest 3xDW
0119: Hydran: dest HR; Lyran: dest 2xDW; Klingon: crip F5
0519: Hydran: dest LN, 2xHN; Klingon: crip F5
0617: Hydrax I: 2xPDU, 6xSIDS; Hydramax I: re-devastated; Hydramax II: re-devastated; Anthraxan I: re-devastated; Anthraxan II: re-devastated; Hydran: crip DG, 3xKN, HN, dest 2xKN, CR, 2xCU, 2xHN; Klingon: crip D7V, D6M, D6V, CVT, D5V, 4xAD5, 4xF5E, dest C8, TG-A+2BP, D7, 4xD6, 2xD6D, D6M, 10xD5, 4xF5L, 2xF5, F5S captured; Lyran: crip 2xDN, STT, 2xCVL, 2xCWE, 2xDWE, dest DN, CA, STT, CW, 4xDW, DWS, SC, 5xFF

In the end it was a very bad turn for the Coalition. The Kzinti position is getting stronger, and Hydran capital held out yet again, with the loss of an incredible number of Coaliton ships.

He should have taken it. I was at best a round or two away from having to abandon the capital rather than cripple the best parts of the Hydran navy. But he was nearly out of Lyran ships, and had no Klingon ships with a CR better than 8 (and they were going fast). He could no longer do the damage he needed to get anywhere.

So what went wrong?

The first thing was a poor use of command points. Everyone involved used two command points (Klingons, Lyrans, and Hydrans). With everything other than the capital already devastated, it was pretty obvious that all the real fighting would be in the capital system itself. So, extra command slots are of much better utility there. Knowing this, and knowing that there was likely going to be the last stand of the Kingdom, I spend two points for two slots in the main system. Belirahc spent two points per empire so that they could have one extra ship in each system.

Conventional wisdom says that when assaulting a capital planet, the thing to do is to use Directed Damage to knock down the Planetary Defense Units on the planet. This is damage inefficient, since PDUs normally have a defense of 3, but this is increased to 5 when using DirDam (doubled to 10 if not using a mauler). The good news is that PDUs, unlike ships or normal bases, do not have a crippled side, so that 5 points does eliminate it—also, DirDam can kill four PDUs each round as one attack.

The problem is that each PDU also has 6 fighters. If there are no friendly units that have spare fighter capacity, these fighters will die at the end of the round, and can become “Involuntary Minus Points”, which will be subtracted out of the attacker’s damage next round. It is quite likely that the second round will be spent earning off the minus points accumulated in the first round. This tends to make the entire idea look like a bad deal. However, even on a round where you are just earning off minus points, you are still receiving less damage than otherwise, because those minus points are from ComPot that would have been on the line otherwise.

Here’s the record of actual Hydran ComPot and damage by round, with what it would have been if he had directed on the PDUs (and the Coaltion damage):

Actual  Directed   Coalition damage [after minus points] (DirDam+leftover on fighters = minus points)
288/79  288/79     36(30+6 = -18)
280/77  253/70     30[12](10+2 = -10)
269/81  233/70     24[14](10+4 = -8)
270/88  216/70     37[29](20+9 = -9)
270/54  189/38     25[16](10+6 = -6) *at this point there are no more PDUs
263/53  171/34     16[10]

I am assuming that he had and used a mauler every round here. But he actually came in with five of them, so the odds of having an uncrippled mauler every round is actually very good.

If you look closely, you might see my mistake. I did not crank up my BIR until round 3. I was leery of just how much damage I might have to take all at once, without really thinking through the fact that I want to cause as much damage as possible early on, when my ComPot is still very strong.

Just over the course of the six rounds it would have taken to clear the PDUs (and a round to start dropping damage on the fleet & SB), Belirahc would have saved 71 damage. As it was, the combat dragged out another three rounds after this with my ComPot partially lowered because he had directed on my fighters and ran me out of reserves.

The Hydran capital is not in good shape. To do this, I did take 3 self-inflicted PDUs, nearly crippled the SB, killed a good number of non-fighter carrying ships, and piled up a good number of cripples. It will take time to recover from this. But they can recover, and every ship he uses in not letting them recover is making the liberation of Kzinti space easier, and allowing the Federation time to gear up production.