Mark and I spent a little time with a “modern” SFB scenario away from our Early Years campaign, with a Y162 scenario. This one features an early ISC force trying to rescue a colony (troop) transport from a pair of curious space dragons from Captain’s Log #34. Both elements lent interest, though this doesn’t really give you feel for what the ISC is typically like.

They get a police flagship cruiser (CPF), a CL with the major weapons removed (in favor of more utility facilities like cargo, barracks, a special sensor, etc.), and two local defense frigates (LFF). These last are early frigates (YFF) converted up to modern technology, but are still lacking in power and other systems. They are coming to the aid of the remnant of a colony convoy (one LTF) that fell afoul of an ion storm, and is now considered the “toy” of a pair of adult space dragons that have never seen a constructed object before. As the ship is failing anyway, the goal is to rescue the 78 crew units of passengers.

I had the ISC for this, and the first thing was discovering a few oddities in the space dragons rules. Notably, they can cancel their own movement, so you just really declare the fastest possible speed, and move when you feel like it. (They are tied to their toy, which is locked to speed 4 and no maneuvering, so this is a big help.) Being human-controlled monsters, they don’t use MCIDS, but their tail can destroy up to three shuttles or seeking weapons per impulse. By verbiage, that includes plasma torpedoes, which seems a little surprising (especially as it is similar to MCIDS, which only works on shuttles and drones), and ended with me having to rely on phasers, since there’s only two plasma launchers to begin with (on the LFFs).

The ISC ships start 20 hexes behind the main action, and the CPF came in at 27, while the two LFFs followed at 21 (near their maximum speed). On Impulse 14, I was eight hexes away, and the dragons launched plasma torpedoes (their ‘breath weapon’; for this size, a plasma-G each), and fired ‘phasers’ (eye beams) at the CPF, denting its front shield.

This left me with a rapidly escalating dilemma. The plasmas were coming on fast, and they quickly turned away from LFF-1. My guess was that they were targeted on the CPF, since chasing it off was the obvious goal, and he’d fired at it with the eye beams. LFF-2’s speed meant it would not be able to outrun a speed-32 plasma torpedo anyway, so it went in to knock a few points off the torpedoes.

Turn 1, Impulse 20, showing movement from Impulse 14.

And both impacted on it’s #2 shield on impulse 20. This resulted in 28 internals, knocking out nearly everything on the ship, including all power. (Ironically, the one transporter did survive, not that it would ever be able to get to the LTF to transport anyone off it.) This disrupted a lot of plans, since that showed that the remaining LFF was at best a distraction, and all the real work had to devolve on to the CPF.

LFF-2 launched both the real and pseudo plasma torpedoes before it ran out of steam at the end of the turn, which is where we discovered that the tail can just kill those on a 5/6ths chance at range 1. While that was running out, LFF-1 and the CPF got to range 5 and transported crew units across from the LPT at the end of the turn.

I had a scheme to get the CPF’s heavy transport shuttle onto the LTF, but that ran into trouble too. Notably, the eight-impulse delay between launching and any possible voluntary landing of a shuttle. Even starting a few hexes away, the dragons got back to the LTF and destroyed the shuttle before it could land. That ended my last attempt by that method, since the round trip was going to be nearly impossible to arrange.

I realized what really needed doing was shooting up the dragons. Hurting them too badly is a problem, as if either take 50% damage to any location, they’ll both be free to attack anything, including the freighter. At 75%, they run off. So, carefully managing damage between those thresholds is a possibility, but would probably end with a wrecked FTL and a lot of dead people. But, I could make sure to stop before the 50% mark and let damage to the wings slow them down and limit maneuver. So LFF-1 hit range 0, taking seven internals from claw and bite damage… which knocked out the transporter, while the LFF’s phasers did 23 damage in return to dragon #2.

The dragons chased the LFF, and the CPF circled around for a range 2 shot at dragon #2 for 22 more damage on impulse 25. The dragons mostly need to stay close to their “toy”, and the LFF used that to start opening the range, while the dragons shadowed the CPF’s movements around the freighter.

This reduced #2’s speed to 18 for turn 3, and the CPF pushed up to 31 to get away from likely breath weapons, transporting more passengers over on impulse 1. One plasma was launched at the LFF, which thankfully already had a good lead. The CPF turned to parallel the freighter at range 15, and the other plasma launched on a leading track to keep me away, and it soon impacted for four damage after I phasered it down.

This time, my two ships approached on opposite sides of the LTF, and dragon #2 kept the LFF from getting too close, while the CPF did 13 damage to #1 at range 1, while taking five damage to the #4 shield. This drew #2 back to it, and hit transported another four crew units over on impulse 25 of turn 4, taking three internals through the down shield from dragon #2, who was off beyond the LTF (thankfully just hull and cargo).


We actually went through nine turns before quitting the scenario. Mark was getting better at parrying my attempts to get at the LTF and transport people off of it (keeping me off completely on the last attempt), but it was taking a lot of very dry maneuvering to do, and it all gets less exciting as it goes. By that point, I had rescued 22 crew units, and I needed to get over 40 just for a marginal victory. It looked possible, given enough time. It was also possible to potentially do it a lot faster by charging the CPF straight through the dragons, but with smart play, that also meant eating a pair of close range plasma-Gs and gambling on getting through without taking too much damage to be able to do it again.

The scenario didn’t really live up to its promise, as the smart money really is on doing a bunch of high speed passes to dodge plasma torpedoes. Other possibilities include trying lots of shuttles, but I think that’s probably a fool’s errand with the tail able to instant kill them, and the eye phasers likely to destroy them at a slightly longer range. The last option is docking to the LTF, but such a process is slow, and while wild weasels could help with negating plasma torpedoes, the explosion period isn’t long enough to get through the entire sequence (though the CPF does carry a bunch of shuttles…).

While it was technically good to see the ISC and dragons in action, this is a very atypical ISC force. They are of course known for their echelon tactics centered around the PPD, but that’s fleet tactics, and just doesn’t apply here. Outside of that, the CPF still isn’t anything like the ships you would normally see alone (they are more in line with traditional ‘big plasma’ outside of fleets), and the lack of plasma torpedoes on the major ship gives the CPF a different feel than what you’d see in a duel. On the other hand, it was good to see how the space dragons operate. They’re very flexible in movement, and otherwise quite capable (especially with their breath weapon being every two turns), and very simple to run.