Archive through August 14, 2013

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By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 12:30 pm: Edit

I somewhat disagree with Peter, but want to play another game to investigate further.

I dealt with the Hydrans in this game by essentially fighting them as little as possible. Generally the Hydrans played much too defensively (imo), with the exception of an early turn where they didn't and the Klingons were able to take their border bases. Much of my gains against the Kzinti was due to the Hydrans making no threat against the Klingons (extended periods with little in range to strike). It is my belief that the Hydrans need to be attacking the Klingons (after taking out Lyran targets) as much as possible.

The Lyrans were able to do little this game after Kzinti border bases were destroyed. The threat of an attack on their capital is very real and they must always keep enough ships (probably at 0608) to pin out Hydrans from targets and to defend the capital. It is not possible to use the same ships to both pin out the Hydrans from the Lyran capital as well as pint out the Hydrans from attacking the planets and bases in provinces 0607 and 0609. By having a large fleet in Lyran space (even if just barely in) plus a convoy the Hydrans can greatly complicate Lyran defense.

I mostly dealt with this by trying to have some Klingon reserves in range to help.

FRDs were poorly used in our game. For the Hydrans they could greatly help as forward retrograde points.

In this game, the Lyrans usually had weak control (or outright loss) of their four southern provinces, as well as getting 0509 and 0810 devastated. One minor planet in the capital got devastated. It could easily have been much worse.

The Klingons are also highly vulnerable to Hydran attack. If the Hydrans get a convoy into the 13xx hex row as well as an FRD, they can easily attack many interior targets in Southern Klingon space - targets that cannot be covered by reserves that are protecting the Lyran capital. If the Hydrans threaten to do this, they can put a lot of stress on coalition defenses, requiring too many ships to be at too many places for effective defense. This makes the SR starbase vulnerable.

1) I need to play another game with Peter before I can make overall game changing recommendations.

2) It is my gut feeling that the alliance has a strong edge, due partly to the increase in ship count, the extra player turn they get, fighters, and the fact that they move last.

3A) The VP levels imo need adjustment. After this game is completed I will make some suggestions.

B) I'm not sure that destroyed bases also count as unupgraded bases.

C) There is no VP adjustment for lost bases that are replaced, as far as I can tell - so the Hydran SB that got replaced seem to have no VP value. Perhaps I am wrong.

I strongly recommend that others playtest this scenario - it is a lot of fun and has enormous value (imo) as in intermediate size scenario where one can learn the expansion rules in a setting that is not as overwhelming as the entire general war, but is still large enough that strategic level concerns are in play.

James Lowry has created a vassal file for this scenario - hopefully a Cyberboard version with updated counters and OOB is in the works and will appear very soon.

By Douglas Lampert (Dlampert) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 11:27 am: Edit

There are some fairly simple ways to write rules to avoid "last turn" shenanigans.

One is to have game end at random, say on turn nine you had a 1 in 6 chance of ending the game, on turn ten a 2 in 6, on turn 11 and all later turns a 3 in 6 chance. Average length is about the same, but you can't modify play too much.

Another way is to have a rule that either side can pay VP to force the game to go one more turn. Your military commanders and your government simply tell the negotiators, "We're not quite ready yet, make some concessions so the Feds and the Organians won't get too pissed off, but keep the war going for 6 more months".

A third way is to give one side an incentive to end the game (Kiznti are about to deploy carriers, or just a VP bonus for the other side based on game length), and declare that the game ends when after some minimum length one side says it ends at the START of its own turn prior to any actions.

For any of these you need rules for what happens on the extra turns (build schedules and the like), but that's not all that complicated.

By A. David Merritt (Adm) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 12:29 pm: Edit

On the other hand grabbing what you can before a treaty goes into affect also occurs. Look at the Korean war.

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 01:33 pm: Edit

Richard wrote:
>>B) I'm not sure that destroyed bases also count as unupgraded bases.>>

From the VP section:
"each enemy BS or BTS NOT upgraded or replaced within the original province with BTS: 2"

I read this to mean that each un-upgraded BS was worth 2VPs and that each un-replaced base was worth 2VPs. So essentially, a dead, un-replaced BATS is worth 5VPs (3 points for killing it originally and 2 points for not replacing it) and an un-upgraded BS at the end of the game is worth 2VPs. I could be mis-interpreting it, though.

Now that I re-read your comment, I agree that un-replaced bases don't *also* count as un-upgraded bases. But for the sake of clarity, a base that is either not upgraded or not replaced is worth 2VPs. So a dead BS or BATS is worth 2 points at the end (over and above the points for killing it) and an un-upgraded BS is worth 2VPs as well.

>>C) There is no VP adjustment for lost bases that are replaced, as far as I can tell - so the Hydran SB that got replaced seem to have no VP value. Perhaps I am wrong. >>

Also from the VP section:
"each SB rebuilt within an original province: 8"

Which seems pretty clear that rebuilding the Hydran SB in province 0917 (which isn't the original hex, but is the original province) is worth 8VPs.

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 01:35 pm: Edit

Richard also wrote:
>>I dealt with the Hydrans in this game by essentially fighting them as little as possible. Generally the Hydrans played much too defensively (imo),>>

That is likely very true--I generally have played the Alliance in F+E for many, many years, and switching from a defensive mind-set to an offensive mind-set is difficult. The Hydrans could have likely been vastly more aggressive. We'll see how it goes in the next one :-)

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Doug wrote:
>>There are some fairly simple ways to write rules to avoid "last turn" shenanigans. >>

Oh, sure. I'd like to avoid a random end of the game, however.

Really, the main issue I have is the excessive throwing of ships in out of position locations and hurling FFs all over the map out of supply to grab provinces. I suspect that some simple fixes would be along the lines of:

-Make holding or disrupting provinces worth less at the end (2VP or 1VP).

-Make holding or disrupting provinces only count for VPs if the provinces are connected to your main supply grid (in this current game, the Hydrans are scoring 12VPs [i.e. more than killing a SB] 'cause they could sneak 3xFFs up into the Lyran back field and grab 3 provinces at the last second. Those FFs are out of supply, the provinces are not connected to the main Hydran grid, and those FFs have little chance of long term survival).

-Give points for having ships in range of an opposing Capital over and above the number of ships in that Capital hex or something (in the current game, at the end of Alliance T11, the Coalition have 40+ ships in range of the Hydran Capital, and the Hydrans have 0 incentive to put ships there at the end of the turn due to the abrupt end of the war).

I think minor tweaks like this would probably go a long way towards "unrealistic" shenanagins on the last turn. But again, we'll see what we end up with point wise.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 02:33 pm: Edit

I suggest requiring a ship in supply in order to score VP for disrupting/capturing provinces on the last turn (as it is unrealistic to send ships out of supply for those purposes normally).

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 02:43 pm: Edit

That would certainly work.

By Douglas Lampert (Dlampert) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 11:29 pm: Edit

A. David Merritt, there can clearly be final attacks and border straightening prior to a truce, it's far more common than the absence, what real wars DON'T have is units doing things that would be suicidal in the absence of a coming treaty. Because the treaty or truce could always fall apart.

Moving out of supply, or lots of penny packets in enemy territory are both far beyond anything that happens in actual war, nor for that matter do "pre-truce" actions last anything like the 6 months of an F&E turn.

By A. David Merritt (Adm) on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Douglas; I will defiantly agree that going out of supply is excessive.

As far as penny packets are concerned, if it was not a comparatively common practice, there would not be a name for it, and in an end of war "everyone run that way as fast and far as you can" situation, it is more likely to occur.

As far as fluidity in a six month period is concerned, I think that the Pacific Naval campaigns of WW II are a good comparison, a lot of empty territory changed hands rather quickly, whether the Japanese, or the Allies, were on the offensive.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Friday, August 09, 2013 - 12:09 am: Edit

Y'all should give the scenario a try.

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Friday, August 09, 2013 - 09:42 am: Edit

I mean, yeah, I love a good comparison to military history as much as the next guy, but I think what should be relevant here is what happens in the game, and what happens in the game is that up until the last turn, ships are kept in supply (as opposed to willy nilly sending them on suicide missions out of supply) and generally not sent out to certain death in droves.

But 'cause it is the last turn, and grabbing a province is worth considerably more than losing an FF, you send out groups of 2-3 FFs all over the place, assuming that one or two of them will die, but the third one will survive to score 2-4 VPs.

I suspect that a combination of reducing the value of contested/captured provinces, and requiring a supply path to the province or ship in the province to score points would go a long way to making this less of an issue.

Making the game end randomly would also probably work, but I'm a huge fan of not implementing solutions that make things more random.

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 06:38 pm: Edit

Ok, so Richard and my game ended (listed in great detail under 4PW Awful Green Things From Outer Space). The end scores turned out to be 194.6 VP for the Alliance vs 137.15 VP for the Coalition. This translates into a 141% Victory for the Alliance, which is one level of victory (i.e. Marginal Victory).

As noted above, the Alliance were probably more defensive than they needed to be--the Hydrans were not as aggressive as they probably should have been. So it is certainly possible that with the current version of the scenario, the Alliance have a very strong position.

We are going to play the scenario again, switching sides, in the near future, implementing the Scout changes discussed above (one SC3 scout per year, one SC4 scout per turn I think was the adjustment?). I suspect that tweaking the VP conditions so that you only get VPs for capturing or disrupting provinces with ships that can trace supply to your main supply grid is something that should certainly happen. Other changes might be needed in the long run, but let's see how it goes the second time.

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 03:44 pm: Edit

So I don't think the Kzinti FH is worth including in the 4PW scenario. There are virtually zero instances where you want to build one (as it still only absorbs 4 damage, and can contribute an extra point of compot, but at the cost of a breakdown roll). And as you can only produce 1 per turn starting in y160, you can build a grand total of 6 of them for the whole war.

I'm unconvinced that this very marginal unit is worth the slot on a counter sheet. I mean, I realize that some folks are really invested in every possible variant ship ever making it into the game at some point, but for 3 EPs, a 5-4/2 that can break down (albeit not that often) just isn't worth the hassle.

Just leave it as an abstract unit covered by the Kzinti FF Leader rule. Or in the 4PW, don't, leave the FFs unhelped by the Leader rule (leaving the Kzinti CL as the only ship in the 4PW with a leader rule bonus, which is fine) and save 5 or 6 counter slots. I can't imagine that anyone would ever build that many of these. Let alone all of them.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 04:09 pm: Edit


By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 04:10 pm: Edit

After playing the Lyrans in this scenario here are some comments:

The Lyrans are on the defensive in this scenario most of the time. While they have a decent number of ships in their construction schedule, overbuilds will be particularly expensive for anything other than FFs, and much of the time they have a lot of repairs to do (or base upgrades), so don't expect to be able to do too many.

In addition, if you build HDD or HFF as substitutions, this will prevent you from overbuilding that hull, as only one can be constructed per turn, by any means.

If the Lyrans need more ship-equivalents, the best way is to substitute FFs for a DD or two. Then you can overbuild up to 4 FF, which is much cheaper than trying to overbuild DDs. If you want some more combat power late in the war, you can convert an FF to an HFF or DD to HDD - this is probably better than creating them by construction.

In some ways the Lyran DNE is the second best DNE of the four powers - it is compot 10 like the Klingon and Kzinti, but only costs 12 points to construct, which can be useful. It is quite expensive to convert from a CA, so build it when it comes up on the production schedule (if you need more command rating ten units). It may be better to downsub it to a CC - I assume this is legal, though the scenario does not explicitly say so.

The BCE on the other hand is very expensive for what you get, but probably should be built even so.

Strive to convert as many CAs to CCs as you can, it's a cheap conversion and will serve you well.

It will be difficult to replace lost bases, and bases in reach of the Hydrans will be difficult to keep alive.

The threat to the Lyran capital is very real - units must be available to protect it from any Hydran units that can reach it (or Kzinti if the war is going that way). This will unfortunately limit the offensive capabilities of the Lyran navy.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 04:26 pm: Edit

After playing the Klingons in this scenario here are some comments:

The Klingons have the most economic points and the cheapest pin count units. They have six ship slots which are efficient to build (F5L F5 3E4 E3/F5) and usually have the money to overbuild some or all of these.

Given the initial advantage of the Hydrans, it's probably going to be necessary to take advantage of this by overbuilding as many pin count units as possible, so as to at least slow down the opposition.

Offensively, the Klingons may have some good opportunities early in the war. There's a good chance the Hydrans will be overcommitted against the Lyrans. If this occurs, take advantage by destroying as many Hydran border bases as possible. Also, at least at first, the Klingons can have numerical superiority against the Kzinti if they keep their attacks to areas that don't bring in additional ships. However, once the Hydrans redeploy and the Kzinti fleets all get activated, it becomes a much different problem. It will be hard to defend the border bases against the alliance. In my game versus Peter, only one Klingon border base survived the war, and that with two SIDS.

Keep an eye on enemy fleets in range of the NR and SR starbase - those bases are vulnerable, and the NR base in particular is critical to keep intact.

In some ways the C6 is the worst of the early DNs (!). It costs 16, and still is only 10 compot. Only build these if you'll have fleets in need of a command 10 ship, otherwise you are better off building a D7C and using the extra points to overbuild something.

The Klingons have a surplus of funds, at least sometimes, and you may be tempted to build monitors. These ARE powerful units, but they are also quite vulnerable and may find themselves defending planets with no fleet to assist. This just gives more VPs to the enemy, so keep this in mind when deciding whether to build them.

The E3 is a great pin-count unit, but you don't want them in combat. They're easy to kill (only 8 points to direct) and terribly inefficient to cripple. If you do end up crippling them, send them to the depot to save a bit of money. They're great garrison units though, as if you have to leave something to get killed, why not an E3?

As the offense for the coalition is probably in the hands of the Klingons, you can use excess EPs to do field repair to help keep your fleet strong, especially if you have taken a lot of losses after a starbase assault.

Your goal should be to devastate as many planets in 1401 as you can. This will not be easy, you will have to make sure to keep supply open, and the Kzinti will not cooperate. Try to destroy as many Kzinti bases and PGBs as possible before fighters are introduced. Once fighters are deployed everything becomes much more difficult.

Unless you can get overwhelming superiority against the Hydrans (not likely) you should only attack against weak targets. If the Hydran player lets you, you want to fight against his fleet as little as possible, so you don't trade your ships for his fighters.

Start converting BS to BTS early, but only in safe zones. It's awful to do the conversion, only to see a Kzinti or Hydran (or combined!) fleet come and destroy it. Remember, if you build it, they will come (and destroy it).

Things will be a lot easier if you can destroy the Duke's Starbase early, so give it a try.

Later in the war the Klingons get the D6S and FD7. Build as many D6S as you can. The FD7 can be useful and should also be built.

The Klingons can have a lot of command rating nine hulls, the D6C and D7C can be created by conversion in quantity to help increase compot.

Use your reserves to shore up defenses, especially for the Lyrans. It's a good idea to have a supply tug at 0608 to keep Klingons defending Lyrans in supply. (A Lyran supply tug in Klingon space is also a good idea). You can use theatre transports for this as well. The Lyrans cannot, as they don't have any until the general war.

By Chuck Strong (Raider) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 07:14 pm: Edit

Removal of historical units from the 4PW (such as the FH) will NOT be recommended by FEDS. I will recommend them because they are historical and players have the option not to build them.

Just because one didn't find a use for a given unit doesn't mean others will not. One instance: shock units are better used in small scale combat were there "dial" compot may drive a die roll modifier.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 07:29 pm: Edit

Hey, that's a good point! Is there a tactical note for that?

By Peter Bakija (Bakija) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 09:04 pm: Edit

Chuck wrote:
>>Removal of historical units from the 4PW (such as the FH) will NOT be recommended by FEDS. I will recommend them because they are historical and players have the option not to build them.>>

That the ship exists isn't a problem in an absolute sense--you can always just ignore it. But that it takes up space on a physical counter sheet *is* a problem, as it is preventing that space from being used for other ships that you actually want more of. If it is going to be printed, could I make a case that fewer of them end up on the counter sheet? Maybe 3 instead of 6? Or something?

It's really not good.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 09:38 pm: Edit

One thought that I had is that perhaps the Kzinti fighter factors on bases and PDUs should be reduced to 4 per squadron, to reflect slow drones on the exceedingly poor AAS fighter. With only one phaser three and two type-I slow drones (and 8 HP), 12 of them probably is not anywhere near 6 compot.

By Michael Alan Calhoon (Mcalhoon2) on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 12:24 am: Edit

That's a thought, but goes down that dangerous path; of blurring SFB and F&E2010. Twelve AAS near a planet can put up a wall of drones that makes attacking the ground bases more difficult in SFB. One could then argue thar Stinger-1s are certainly not worth 0.5 ComPot each unless they are in the enemies faces.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 01:12 am: Edit

I know, but Stinger-1s are already ignored in the general war, as the Stinger-2 doesn't come out until Y170 if my memory serves correctly. While the AAS and St-1 are pretty different, more or less I'd say the AAS is much weaker (when using slow or moderate speed drones). After medium speed drones became available, this changed a fair bit.

That's why I feel it might be reasonable to do this, for this scenario only.

By Daniel Glenn Knipfer (Dgknipfer) on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 11:42 am: Edit

Refits are always abstracted. Lyrans didn't have capacitors and Klingons had very few ADD to counter drones in this time period so while drones where crappier they were harder to get rid of. I expect that it is close enough to a wash to ignore as slow drones use different tactics that medium and fast drones. In this case I think Michael is spot on. The drones themselves are not that dangerous but they force an attacking enemy to deal with them while taking phaser-4 fire. That hurts when you have unrefitted shields. The base commander times the drone strike to arrive at your location just as you would hit overload range forcing you to take multiple turns of PH-4 fire or a face full of drones. That is a really painful prospect.

Of course the Kzinti were already using this tactic, but fighters would simply make it easier for them to do it and allow them to do it more often. That's a lot more powerful against unrefitted ships than you might think.

By Richard B. Eitzen (Rbeitzen) on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 12:18 pm: Edit

Refits are not always abstracted (Fed DN comes to mind).

I am well aware of these things, but I feel that the AAS (when armed with slow and moderate speed drones) is simply far behind the effectiveness of later fighter shuttles (armed with medium speed drones), much more so then Klingon and Lyran ships in their ability to defend and/or destroy AAS's.

There ARE rules for fast drones in F&E. In my opinion, slow drones are sufficiently weaker to deserve notice, at least in a few places.

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