Back at the end of June, Mark and I got to playing the first region of the second year of our SFB campaign. The available fights are two base battles and three open space ones, and we started with the most interesting, and probably most balanced one of the latter. I’m up about 40 BPV in Region 4, and down about that much in the other two. But Region 3 features the brand-new YCA USS Republic as my command ship. While its not as far above the W-series as an X-ship compared to General War ships (while the extra warp, and speed, is very important, its still stuck with the same weapons as an older ship), as the only one in the campaign so far, it has an outsized importance. So we started there.

Also of note for me is USS Texas. The WCL is the only early class that can upgrade to later technology (eventually becoming the middle-years CL). Light cruisers have been lackluster, and I have a feeling that the YCL version would be a lackluster Y-series ship; but that still beats any W-series ships, which everything else is stuck as. And it is the second Federation Y-class, so it can be prototyped next year. So, my hope was to push out out in front to take enough damage to be worth putting in drydock, but not get it destroyed, at which point it would get refitted.

As an open space battle, we started with determining terrain, which ended up in empty space. Setup areas were also fairly standard, but I ended up with Weapon Status I, and Mark at WS-III. I started out with needing to charge phasers and photon torpedoes from scratch, while the Carnivon fleet was fully loaded including a full set of death bolts on the launchers, and he immediately set about moving new ones out of storage into the racks.

All this let him start with a fleet speed of 14, while I was mostly speed 6, with the WOD going 7 and the YCA going 8. With ranges dropping, USS Republic (NCC-1600) sprinted ahead on turn 2 at speed 16, and the WOC sped up to 7, while the Carnivon force dropped to speed 4 but running full ECM. On impulse 32, the YCA was four hexes from the Carnivon fleet, and the #6 shields of half of it. I tried a full spread at one of the DDs (Blackdog) with ECCM from batteries to counter the ECM but rolled horribly to do one damage with a phaser (all 5s and 6s outside a single 3 for the phaser). And the one point didn’t even register on the shield.

End of Turn 2. If at first you don’t succeed….

Republic slowed down to 13 on turn 3 to start recharging phasers and batteries, and I contemplated a between-the-engines shot as she turned away, but it didn’t line up. Everyone else stayed at the same speeds, with the first round of deathbolts coming out on impulse 4. I turned off after that, having no desire to wade through deathbolts moving faster than me and a stronger Carnivon force. They were obviously targeted on the main fleet (they aren’t nearly as useful against a YCA) so Republic started circling around trying to get at the Carnivon rear and their weaker shields.

It always seems to me that you should be able to defeat the lower turn modes of going slow with faster speed, but it never really works out that way. There are things you can do, like decide what range a pass will be, but you can’t really keep someone from facing you when they can turn every time they move. Worse, as the Carnivons maneuvered in reaction to me, they ended up all slipping into the same hex, so I was dealing with a superstack. And the main fleet couldn’t interfere without going through death bolts. With normal Kzinti drones, that’d be bad, but workable, but the 8 points to kill a death bolt takes way too much effort to chew through.

My main force sped up to speeds 10 and 11 for turn four and started outrunning the deathbolts. Republic ended up with another range-4 pass during the second half of turn 4, but couldn’t get the angle before finally firing on impulse 30, having finally gotten to Blackdog‘s (and everyone else’s) #5, but out of FA arc, and rolled better for 3 damage to the shield on four phasers. But the Carnivon fleet opened with all eighteen phaser-2s on 32, doing better than average for 23 damage (not a lot better than average, but compared to my rolls, it was quite a difference). Batteries let me cut that down to 19 to lose the #5 shield and take an Aft Hull internal.

Mark maintained speed 4 for turn 5, while my main force boosted to speeds 10 and 11, and Republic looked to gain distance at speed 15 before the Carnivon phasers recycled. WOD USS Darenall (SF-95) had been going slightly faster than the rest of the fleet all this time, and got away from the deathbolts first. At the point it threatened a range-8 photon shot, the Carnivon fleet turned from Republic to deal with the main fleet (or at least Darenall). I had to turn Darenall off again, but Republic was able to head back in, repairing a box on #5 at the end of the turn.

Turn 5, Impulse 24, showing movement from 20-32. Forked.

Anticipating that Mark might try to chase me down, the main fleet pushed up to speed 12 (WOF; with minimal shields, which merely means losing two boxes from #1), 11 (WOD and WOC), and 10 (WCL). However, he stayed at speed 4. The death bolts finally out-ran their endurance, and I concentrated on trying to get my scattered ships closer together. Three new death bolts were launched on impulse 7 (out of nine possible), while Republic tried a range 8 shot at WFF Fang Claw, hitting with one and exactly taking down the #4 shield. After that, Fang Claw turned, presenting the #3 to Republic, with WCA Wolfsnarl escorting, while the remaining four ships stayed appeared to stay focused on the rest of the fleet, but soon turned the opposite way, towards Republic.

This let my main force turn back to parallel the Carnivons, and start edging closer. Republic slipped away, staying at range 9 (8 might have been possible if he turned immediately, but that would have let everyone else turn back quicker), and the WCA and WFF turned around to follow the action as Republic continued on.

For turn 7, Wolfsnarl and Fang Claw sped up to 6, while everything else stayed at their old speeds. Finally able to come in without facing the entire Carnivon fleet at the same time, Darenall turned in on Impulse 7, with the rest of the fleet working up behind her. The Carnivon force turned in right afterward, hitting range 8 to Darenall on impulse 12. Average rolls with a +1 shift got him 6 damage from eight phaser-2s, to take out 2/3rds of the #6 shield. Darenall returned fire with the photon, but missed.

WOC USS Nuello (SF-82) had turned in by this point, and hit range 8 on Impulse 18, at which point Mark fired the available death bolts (four), and the remaining four phaser-2s, doing six damage on… average (very high and very low) rolls to take out a bit under half of the #6. Nuello fired photons and three phaser-2s to get one hit and four damage from slightly good phaser rolls to take out over half of Blackdog‘s #1. The next impulse, Darenall fired three phasers with slightly poor rolls to do one more point.

Shot out, the Carnivon force turned away on Impulse 24, and WCL USS Texas (SF-1) got to range 8 on Impulse 26. Both photons (barely!) hit, along with good rolls from four phaser-2s to do 24 damage to WDD Savage Intent, crashing the #2 shield and twelve internals. The next impulse WOF USS Hayak (SF-91) got to range 8, hitting with the photon torpedo and good phaser rolls for another ten internals, leaving Savage Intent with three (out of ten) power, and a sensor rating of 5.

Turn 7, Impulse 18, showing movement from 7 to 27.

At the end of the turn, the Carnivons were turning to pursue the main fleet again, which was trying to get back out of effective phaser range to reload at least some photons, and they boosted to speed 6 for turn 8 (except poor Savage Intent, still at 4), while my speeds were largely the same. Both Savage Intent and Hayak turned off fire control to get more speed. Impulse 1 saw, as expected, a phaser volley from the Carnivons at Hayak, with slightly better than average rolls doing 13 damage for six internals though the #5 shield. Thankfully, I was very lucky on the internal rolls, losing two cargo and three hull. The last point took out auxiliary control, which was worrying because the bridge is the only other control space on the ship.

On Impulse 2, Texas tried a volley at Blackdog, but only did one point to the #1 shield (which was repaired at the end of the turn) with more poor rolls. After that, we largely settled into a stern chase as I pulled away, and Savage Intent turned for a very slow trip to a board edge. During the second half of the turn, I started turning the leading units to cut across his course, and Mark turned to parallel me near the beginning of turn 9.

Republic turned in on Impulse 15, and at first Wolfsnarl was headed for a showdown alone, but his main force turned to support her on Impulse 22. Republic tried another photon volley at WCC Werewolf after that, and missed with both again. Everything present (Fang Claw was lagging behind) volleyed phasers at Republic on 24, doing 15 damage to shield #2 on exactly average rolls (2 of each number). Republic returned fire at Blackdog the next impulse, only managing 2 points to the #1 on more poor rolls.

Mark picked up speed for turn 10, with Blackdog, Wolfsnarl, and Werewolf going speed 8. My main force had settled on speed 10, while Republic continued going 14, and USS Hayak was sprinting out ahead at 15. Mark launched another partial round of death bolts at the top of the turn, and went back to his parallel course. I had turned in, but turned back to avoid the oncoming death bolts. Hayak successfully crossed in front of the Carnivons at range 9, working on getting at Savage Intent to do more mischief to the cripple.

For turn 11, the Carnivons sped up again, going 10, except crippled Savage Intent (stuck at 4), and Fang Claw, which went 12, but this meant dropping what little EW Mark had been maintaining. This forced Hayak from steering towards Savage Intent, but when Republic turned into cross the Carnivon line, it started turning away. My main force turned to follow (at the same speed as the Carnivons).

I was surprised when Mark turned back towards the pursuers near the bottom of the turn, and ranges started counting down. I tried a couple of range 7 shots at Wolfsnarl on Impulse 26, but missed with both. I turned to make this a range 5 pass on 29, but Texas was lagging behind and still trying to get around the previous round of death bolts. Worse, I knew at least some of them were targeted on her. USS Nuello and USS Darenall each fired a photon torpedo and 3xphaser-2s at Wolfsnarl, while Texas fired 4xphaser-2s. Slightly bad phaser rolls and two photon hits did 25 damage to punch through the #6 shield, take out the armor and do one hull internal. On Impulse 32, Republic was five away from the Carnivons and fired three phaser-2s at Werewolf for six damage on good rolls, though only two registered on the #2 shield.

Turn 11, Impulse 29, showing movement from 22 to 32.

Since Mark did not fire during this, I assume he had largely been running dry, while I had spent the last few turns slowly getting power back into batteries and phaser capacitors, and his two cruisers had certainly just drained their batteries. So I was a bit surprised that the Carnivons kept their fleet speed up to 10. My main group got up to 11 with the others staying the same.

On Impulse 3, Texas finally turned away, and another three death bolts launched. Republic got to range 4, and hit Werewolf with a photon torpedo and a phaser for another nine damage to the #2 shield. She returned fire with the four forward phasers to only do two damage (none registered on the shield). Texas got hit with the main phaser banks from Wolfsnarl and WCL Rain of Destruction, and moderately good rolls through a +1 shift did 25 damage to crash through the #6 shield and armor for 8 internals, mostly taking out hull, but also getting the two once-only warp hits.

All three Carnivon cruisers turned to get at Texas, putting Wolfsnarl‘s down #6 three hexes from USS Darenall, who put a phaser-2 through for four more damage, getting a warp and phaser. Darenall and Nuello followed this with another phaser each the next impulse for seven more damage to take out two more phasers, but Rain of Destruction got to range two of Texas, to fire her heel nipper, which missed. Despite being the same speed, maneuvering restrictions meant that Werewolf and Wolfsnarl got to range two on Impulse 10, and both fired a heel nipper, both missing, thanks to the +1 shift Texas was keeping up during this. The remaining heel nippers fired the following impulse, with one finally hitting, which forced Texas to turn away from following Darenall and Nuello, and vaguely towards the rest of the scattered Carnivon forces; and she lost a move, with death bolts targeted on her two hexes away behind and to the side.

Turn 12, Impulse 12, right after Texas‘ forced turn and missed move. This also forces her straight ahead on Impulse 15.

As if the death bolts closing in on Texas weren’t bad enough, another group of four were launched from the Carnivon cruisers at this point. They turned off with Republic moving to pursue, while Darenall and Nuello dodged the two death bolts after them and tried to start circling around to get back to the action. Texas was hit on the #5 and down #6 shields by death bolts for another sixteen internals, reducing her to half power. Mark tried to do more by firing available rear phaser-3s through the #5 shield, but at range 4 they did no damage. By the end of the turn, Texas had successfully threaded the needle of a more distant death bolt headed towards it, but that one was still a hex away, but the recent ones were two hexes behind, Fang Claw was five hexes away, and Blackdog seven. All the Orion ships were well out of the fight at this point, though USS Hayak was headed in, and Republic was four hexes directly behind Wolfsnarl.

For Turn 13 Texas put everything into life support and movement, going speed 9 with down shields and no fire control (and three-quarters of a point in the phaser capacitors) and repairs started on an impulse engine. Darenall and Nuello stayed at speed 11, while Hayak slowed down to 12 to start loading a photon, and Republic slowed to 13 to put power into batteries and phasers. The Carnivons went 10 except for Fang Claw (12) and the crippled Savage Intent.

On Impulse 4, a death bolt hit Texas (I could have, and maybe should have, turned her away to keep the hit from happening, but that also would delay a journey to the board edge, and would take her closer to the Carnivon cruisers) for twelve internals taking out two power, including the last impulse box. The Carnivon cruisers were also headed in the direction of the nearest board edge, and on Impulse 15 Republic fired four phaser-2s at range 2, destroying Wolfsnarl‘s #4 for six internals, and followed up with the off-side phasers on 20 for another seven internals. Rain of Destruction launched two death bolts on Impulse 27 with Wolfsnarl and Werewolf following the next impulse, apparently to force Republic away. On Impulse 32, Republic and Rain of Destruction were one hex apart (along with the two death bolts from her), and the Carnivon ship hit the right warp engine with the heel nipper, and did seventeen damage to Republic‘s #6 shield.

Fang Claw got a range-0 shot at Texas on Impulse 19, hitting the right warp engine with the heel nipper and doing 12 damage with phasers, while Texas did two points to her #1 shield with a final downfired phaser shot. She ended the turn with zero power, and five internals left (not counting tracks), and four heel nippers adjacent. Sadly, impulse engines take five repair points out of a cruiser’s four per turn. If the box had been repaired she would have tried an (unlikely) impulse evasion. As it was, the heel nippers hit on Impulse 4 of turn 14, destroying her.

Blackdog turned to face the incoming Hayak, with a range 3 pass on impulse 20. Hayak‘s phasers did seven damage to Blackdog‘s #2, while she hit the right warp engine with the heel nipper, and one internal with phasers (taking down the five-point #2 shield), also a right warp hit, two impulses later. On 24, Blackdog launched a death bolt at Hayak as she sped away.

For turn 13, Rain of Destruction boosted to speed 13, while all the other Carnivons stayed at their previous speeds. Republic slowed to speed 9 to power an HET instead of be forced to take the death bolts on nearly-down shields. Darenall and Nuello stayed at speed 11, while Hayak ran at 15 with no fire control. Republic was forced to turn (by the heel nipper) on impulse 1, downfired the left-side phasers to destroy a heel nipper, HETed on 2 to face the remaining one and Rain of Destruction… but was too close for a photon shot (you can only fire overloaded photons inside of range 2, and those don’t exist yet), instead destroying the other death bolt with downfired right-side phasers.

On Impulse 3, Rain of Destruction turned away, and was hit by Republic‘s one loaded torpedo, exactly knocking down the #4 shield. Over the next couple of impulses, the forward phasers took out the next approaching death bolt.


We called it at the end of that turn. Wolfsnarl and Rain of Destruction left the board near the end of the turn to disengage, with Werewolf heading that way after taking damage on the #3 from a photon hit from Nuello. That left me local superiority to destroy Savage Intent and then chase the remaining destroyer and frigate. Hayak was well separated from the rest, and it was judged that she would be forced off the map before I could get to help her.

I figured this year would be bloodier, and I was right, with us each losing a ship. Losing anything hurts, especially as we’re still struggling to fill out battle lines, but there’ll always be more destroyers, so the loss of Savage Intent is fairly marginal in the long run. Losing USS Texas hurts mainly because I’m not going to bother to build a YCL from scratch. (Before I threw in the Orion ships as a sixth member contingent, there was going to be another WCL, USS Sheffield (SF-7), but she is not here.) Outside of that, the light cruiser slot has been very lackluster. Partially, I think they are just more sensitive to having less power because of paying cruiser housekeeping on a smaller budget; but I note that the later CL has two APR, which means the WCL is running with less than half power since there’s no APR on it—and all the other WCLs have the same trouble. There are better WCLs; three of the member-navy designs have a move cost of 2/3, which will help. One of those is Vulcan, with more power, and another is Andorian, with zero-energy drones instead of photons. On the other hand, the Terran WCL had six phaser-2s, which made for a good phaser boat that I will not see again in that size.

Despite a fair amount of time where it could have been done (if he’d known), the death bolt racks had not been taken off-line to reload from storage after the start of the game, and at the end he was largely shot out, which prompted the retreat off map. Mark has shown more willingness to put damaged ships on the line than I expected, so Wolfsnarl may be back next year, though after repairs she is still out all armor (naturally), all hull, both shuttles and a tractor. She can fight effectively, but any internals will go straight to critical systems.

MVP was USS Republic. She can’t do it all, but she can do a lot more than all the W-ships, and did indeed turn around a nearly 40-point BPV deficit. USS Texas also gets honors for getting the first real hits of the battle and nearly crippling Savage Intent by herself. After lots of bad rolls, that finally made sure the Carnivon fleet would be permanently broken up, as I just couldn’t deal with that superstack of everything when it could launch up to nine death bolts at a time.

The fact that death bolts take eight damage to kill (instead of the typical four for a drone) has dictated a lot of my tactics. The other pressure on me is to stay out of heel nipper range. It took a fair number of tries to hit Texas with one, but that one hit led to her destruction. Meanwhile, I can apply pressure with the threat of photon torpedoes, but they’re energy intensive. In the Y-era, the Carnivons switch to a similar weapon (the disruptor canon), but higher speeds and tractor beams that can grab death bolts will make them less important.

Right now, it looks like the next battle will be the big base battle in Region 5. I’d feel pretty good about it if I had proximity photons (the bane of base battles in many campaigns). As it is, I’m not sure how I’m going handle that huge dock. I’m at least hoping to do some serious damage to something, and have some good tools to do it, as there are two Vulcan ships in the fleet, one of which has special sensors, and the Terran dreadnoughts are very nice ships.