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After-Action Report - Fed NCL vs. Kzinti CMD

 
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junior
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:38 pm    Post subject: After-Action Report - Fed NCL vs. Kzinti CMD Reply with quote

Just myself and one other player showed up for Monday Night FedCom at my Friendly Local Game Store. Since Briefing #1 had only arrived within the last week or so, he picked up a copy of it. And since he plays the Kzintis, he wanted to take their new drone cruiser for a spin. I'd only brought my Fed ships with me for some odd reason, so I picked out an NCL (which is several points less).

End result? It appears that the drone cruiser is a very poor dueling ship. He conceded during the fourth turn. Nearly all of his yellow boxes were gone, he had no hull or cargo space left, all of his phasers were disabled, his impulse engines were off-line, and his warp engines had lost roughly half a dozen boxes. All of his drone racks were on-line, though that was in part due to the fact that he'd repaired a couple of them. And his #6 and #4 shields were completely wrecked.

The entire amount of internal damage that I took was a single point of burn through damage on turn 2 (against the labs). The game was played on a location map (using a custom map that's roughly the same size as a 4x3 layout using the large hex maps that come with FC), but we didn't have to shift the map at all.

Turn 1 - We started in opposite corners with a planet in the middle (our "location" for the map). He picked speed 16, while I picked speed 8 and dumped power into my photon tubes. At the end of the turn, we each fired two phaser-1s at each other at range 23. He inflicted two points of damage (which reinforcement dealt with), while I inflicted three (which meant that one point got through the reinforcement).

Turn 2 - We both picked speed 16 this turn. His reluctance to engage in a head-on pass against overloaded photon torpedoes meant that he slid over enough to engage in a "parallel pass" at range 3. I dumped my photons into his #6 shield, while he fired his phasers (2xph-1, 2xph-3) into mine. Three of my photons hit and did 22 internals (including two drone hits), while he did just enough damage with his phasers to earn a burnthrough point (which disabled a lab). He launched five drones at me, but I was able to whittle them down using phasers. It helped that I was able to get his drones lined up with my rear centerline, and bring my off-arc phasers to bear on them.

Turn 3 - He repaired one of his drone launchers, while I repaired the lab. I dropped to speed 8 to rearm my photons, while he continued at speed 16. He launched another salvo of drones at me, which I once again got onto my centerline and destroyed with the exception of one drone which ended up held in a tractor beam. He spent most of the turn swinging around to my rear while I moved my ship about to attempt to get him in front of me.

Turn 4 - He repaired his other drone launcher, and I finished rearming my photons. I selected speed 16 while he selected speed 8. His extra drone was destroyed at the end of the first impulse. I moved to close the range, and while doing so, he fired a full salvo of seven drones at me. I was able to catch them in my front firing arc and thus bring all six phaser-1s to bear on them (anti-drone fire from the drone rack got the seventh drone). I closed the range to two hexes, and fired a salvo of photon torpedoes that did enough damage to convince him to concede.


The drone cruiser's primary problem is the lack of direct fire heavy weapons. Disruptors don't do much damage individually, but when massed they're respectable. And you don't have to worry about your opponent using phasers to cancel out your disruptor fire. To counterbalance that, the drone cruiser needs to mass enough drones to overwhelm the opponent's defences. My opponent was never able to do that. A good chunk of that, I suspect, is my well-earned reputation for outmaneuvering drones fired at range. So my opponent held his drpme fire until he got closer. But that did cost him somewhat. For instance, it caused him to not launch any drones during the first turn, whereas I think launching them during Impulse 8 of Turn 1 would have been a good idea. Because of the lack of heavy weapons, the drone cruiser is forced to rely on its phasers as its direct-fire weapons, and Kzintis tend to be short on offensive phasers.

Another mistake that my opponent made (and that I see far too often in duels) is that my opponent got too far away from my ship. Federation ships basically turn like bricks, and it's possible to get into their rear section and stay there (unless they HET). The problem is that if you get too far away from the Federation ship, then it can turn to face you before you can adjust your position in relation to the Federation ship (which is what basically happened on Turn 3). If you get too close, then you risk a sudden High Energy Turn putting you at point blank range of the Fed's Photon Torpedoes. So you need to figure out what the optimal distance is when attempting to stay behind a Fed. My opponent didn't do very well in this.

Finally, if you're using seeking weapons, then you should be VERY careful about which shield the weapons impact on. The centerlines of a ship are very dangerous locations for seeking weapons because they allow the targeted ship to bring more weapons to bear than they would otherwise. On turn #4, I managed to ensure that his drones struck my #1 shield instead of my #2 shield. As a result, I was able to bring to bear not only the FH and RS phasers, but also the LS phasers which would otherwise have been out of arc. The end result was six guaranteed kills from phaser-1s.
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djdood
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this. A good overview with good commentary.

I'm just beginning to learn drone tactics (I'm a photon Fed guy) and as I read through that I was thinking to myself, "The guy was flying a drone-slinger and he didn't get a wave out in turn one... why? I would've pumped them out even if they'd get shot down at-range. It would keep him from wiping out my second wave...".

You answered the why and it was validating for me to see that my thinking was right.
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OGOPTIMUS
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice highly detailed report.

I would have also thought to launch on Turn 1 impulse 8 and then on turn 2 impulse 1 to get a massive drone wave heading out too. That type of wave will overwhelm the phaser suite and tractor systems of most light/war cruisers And that usually means they have to surrender the initiative to you.
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jmt
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:42 am    Post subject: Re: After-Action Report - Fed NCL vs. Kzinti CMD Reply with quote

junior wrote:

The drone cruiser's primary problem is the lack of direct fire heavy weapons. Disruptors don't do much damage individually, but when massed they're respectable. And you don't have to worry about your opponent using phasers to cancel out your disruptor fire. To counterbalance that, the drone cruiser needs to mass enough drones to overwhelm the opponent's defences.


The drone cruisers, especially the Kzin one, are escort ships. They definitely need another ship out there to protect (and to provide more direct fire support). I've got a CMD in my league fleet, but its not hit the table as we've not had a high-enough PV game for me to bring other ships for it to support.

In a duel, the CMD would be fighting the Fed game (ranged sniping) and would have to rotate his tubes to not have a "non-firing" turn.

jmt
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right that the CMD will lose if it fires one salvo of drones per turn that can be engaged by the target individually (the waves, not the drones) each turn.

As Optimus points out, the CMD should try to launch a salvo of seven drones at the end of turn one, followed by another salve of five on impulse 1 of turn two. That gets 12 drones out in very close proximity that must all be dealt with in a single turn.

In theory, the NCL could stop all 12 drones: Six Ph-1s and two tractors stop 8. Both Ph-3s roll good and stop 2 more. Being in two waves means you get one ADD shot at each, and both rolls work. But, the Ph-3s and ADDs are not likely to all work, and the CMD can add two more drones in the moment two drones in the first wave die, and the NCL cannot stop them.

It is not an easy fight, but the CMD must mass drones like that to have a chance. (And don't forget to use Evasive Maneuvers when he still has photons loaded and you have to wait another 12 impulses to set up your next double wave.)
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OGOPTIMUS
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mjwest wrote:
Being in two waves means you get one ADD shot at each,


That's only if they hit in different impulses, right? So, one ADD shot per impulse.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OGOPTIMUS wrote:
mjwest wrote:
Being in two waves means you get one ADD shot at each,

That's only if they hit in different impulses, right? So, one ADD shot per impulse.

Yes, that's true. However, I was providing the most optimistic defense possible for the NCL facing two drone waves in the same impulse.

But, yes, if both drone stacks hit the NCL in the same impulse, then the NCL only gets one ADD shot at one drone.
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junior
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My opponent never moved faster than speed 16 during the game (I'm not sure why... he had plenty of power to spare with no disruptors to arm), so the drone wave would have presumeably moved ahead of him and split into two.

But even with that issue, it still would have been advantageous to get a 12 drone, two hex swarm into play. The NCL only has one drone launcher on it, which means that at most it can only pick one drone off from each stack.

Assuming, just for the sake of argument, that his drone wave hits over two impulses (and it's entirely possible that both stacks could hit on the same impulse due to a combination of careful manuevering by the Kzinti player and carelessness on my part), then you're still guaranteed to at least reach the tractor beam stage. The NCL has -

1 G-type drone rack (SFB terminology - two drones and four anti-drones)
2x FH Phaser-1s
2x LS Phaser-1s
2x RS Phaser 1s
1x LS Phaser-3
1x RS Phaser-3
2x Tractor Beams

If the drones hit on the #1 shield, then all of this can be brought to bear. If the drones impact over two impulses, and both hit on the #1 shield, then you're looking at

6 guaranteed kills (from the phaser-1s)
4 possible kills (from the phaser-3s and ADDs - kill on a 1-4 die roll)

Assuming that EVERYTHING is rolled perfectly, and all of those shots kill their targeted drones, then that leaves two drones for the tractors to grab. Statistically speaking, 1 or 2 drones should get through, but the #1 shield will absorb the damage (with a point of burn through).

If the drones impact on the #4 shield, then the two FH Phaser-1s should be removed from the equation. This guarantees two drone hits in addition to any that the Phaser-3s and anti-drones fail to kill. Since shields #2-#6 are 24 points each, you're all but guaranteed to do some internal damage.

If the drones impact on either shield #2 or shield #6, then the off-side phasers can't fire, and that further reduces the defensive fire by a phaser-3. This means that one of the possible kills now is guaranteed to get through the the shields, and the drone salvo is guaranteed to score internal damage (along with any possible kills that don't get killed).

The best possible spot for the drones to impact, from the Kzinti player's point of view, is either on the #3 or the #5 shield. From here, the FH phasers as well as the off-arc phasers can't fire. This reduces the drone defense to two phaser-1s, one phaser-3, and the anti-drones. This means two guaranteed drone kills, three possible drone kills (two anti-drone shots since we're assuming that the drones hit over two impulses), two drones held in tractor beams, and FIVE guaranteed drone hits. The shields will eat two of these, which means that the NCL will take 36 points of damage. This has a very good chance of killing both tractor beams, which will result in another 24 points of damage. At that point, the NCL is effectively gutted.

Of course, if the drones impact over two impulses, then the NCL will do everything in its power to ensure that the second drone wave impacts on shield that's still up... It might also be a good idea for the NCL to allow one or two drones from the first wave to get through the drone defense (by saving phasers that could have otherwise fired) and allow them to wreck the shield before turning another shield toward the second drone wave.


Conclusions -

As the Kzinti player in this situation, you want to try and angle your drones in toward the #3 or #5 shields. These are the areas with the least drone defence, and where you can be counted on to do the maximum damage. When moving a drone stack, try to ensure that it's off to one side of the target vessel since if it gets in the hex row directly behind the targeted ship, then the target can guarantee that it hits the #4 shield, where the drone defence is at it's second best.

As the Federation player in this situation, you need to remember that drones follow tightly constraining rules about how they can and can't manuever. They MUST keep you in the FA arc, they MUST move closer to you whenever possible (or at least not increase the distance if that's not possible), and they MUST perform a High Energy Turn if that will cause the drones to impact you. In combination with this, you need to remember where your drone defense is at its best (the front and rear centerline), and try and cause the drones to impact those shields. There's nothing wrong with allowing drones to impact if it means that you can safely destroy the drones without losing firepower superiority over your opponent. For smaller drone waves, look for opportunities to get between the drones and your target, as it means that off-arc phasers (which you wouldn't use to fire at the target ship anyway) can be brought to bear on the drones without affecting your planned fire on your target.
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DNordeen
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 3:43 am    Post subject: Re: After-Action Report - Fed NCL vs. Kzinti CMD Reply with quote

junior wrote:


Turn 2 - We both picked speed 16 this turn. His reluctance to engage in a head-on pass against overloaded photon torpedoes meant that he slid over enough to engage in a "parallel pass" at range 3.


Enough said right there. Range 3 against a Fed using a drone cruiser is poor tactics. The CMD should have never been closer than range 15 at this point. Kzinti's just aren't built to get into overload range of an undamaged Fed (or Hydran). Basically, he played your game instead of his. Patience is the key to Kzintis. I rarely have less than 10 turn games especially against the Feds (unless i screw up Shocked ).
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