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After - Action Report: The Planet Killer

 
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
Posts: 1947
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:49 pm    Post subject: After - Action Report: The Planet Killer Reply with quote

Scenario: The Planet Killer (8F)
Venue: Battlegroup Exeter, Clifton Road Games, Exeter, UK 6th October 2008-10-07

Ships/Players: Planet Killer [PK] flown by Paul; ‘defending’ ships: Kzinti Battlecruiser [Z-BC], Romulan War Eagle [R-WE], Orion Raider-Cruiser [O-CR, with Disruptor in forward option mount, Drones in wings]; flown by Tony.

This is quite a difficult battle to describe in terms of manoeuvre; most of it was reasonably close-in with the range never more than ten after the initial approach. I will do my best, however. Generally, if the PK turned toward a ship or ships, those ships would turn and run for it as best they could, while the others tried to get around behind the PK. The overall effect was like a set of terriers annoying a bigger animal. Like a human, for example. [I’m a German Shepherd man myself Smile]. Unless the PK had fired all its phaser-4’s, however, in which case they all come running in for a close-up shot.

I decided that this scenario is effectively a classic cruiser action: three smaller ships against one big mean one, and to play it as such. Expect to lose two ships crippled or destroyed at the expense of getting the bad guy. Bit like the Battle of the River Plate.

Also, paradoxically, I had to suspend my ‘sense of belief’ because one of my favourite Trek episodes is The Doomsday Machine, upon which this scenario is based. The hull of the planet Killer in that episode was made of pure neutronium; impervious to the famous Fed CA’s weapons. Although the monster in this scenario is heavily armoured, it is not impervious; something I had to just live with in the interests of playability.

All pictures taken by Paul Grogan.

Turn 1

The Planet Killer is restricted to a baseline speed of 16, so Paul selected this. For the other ships, I selected speed 24 for the CR and BC, 16 for the WE.

This is the Planet Killer in Paul’s hybrid base/counter ‘mini’ format:



All combatants moved towards each other, the PK in direction B, the ships in direction E. On Imp #6, the PK turned to direction C, at about twelve range to the forward ships [the WE lagging 4 hexes behind]; this caused the forward ships to scatter and turn away. Impulse 8, the end-of-turn firing spree gave the WE’s four P-1’s one burnthrough on the PK scoring a phaser hit. The PK replied with four phaser-4’s at a range of 7 on the WE’s #2 shield. Stupidly I had forgotten to cloak; 44hits scored, the WE reinforced all 6 points [nice] to 38 hits; the shield and armor brought this down to 8 internals. One battery and a few hull hits; the single torpedo hit was of course taken as a Frame hit.

The other two ships launched a total of six drones, plus two suicide shuttles [SS] were placed on the map, one from the WE and one from the Orion for 9 and 18 warhead points respectively.

This is the fearsome sight of the Z-BC drone wave just after launch:



…and the impulse after:



Turn 2

O-CR doubled her engines; speeds were CR: 24; WE: 8; BC: 16; PK: 16.

This turn was characterised by close-in manoeuvring by the cruisers, swarming around the PK like angry wasps. This shot was taken at some time in the turn:



Sooner or later, of course, someone was going to catch a packet by flying in front of it and taking several phaser-4’s in the face.

Impulse 1, all ships accelerated; some neat manoeuvres saw the CR turning away from close range and around behind the PK while opening the range, in case the PK decided to fry her:




…however the PK manoeuvred so that the Z-BC was at five hexes’ range and in arc for the forward phasers. Seeing this quite rightly as a chance to strike a telling blow, Paul decided to fire his Alpha at the BC right away. Rolling well [1,2,2,3], Paul netted 75 damage. 5 of this was lost to reinforcement [nice batteries on the Z-BC], 28 to the #2 shield, giving 42 internals. The BC replied with 3 phaser-1’s and 2 overloaded disruptors for 17 damage; the burnthrough hit was another lucky one on a phaser-3. The BC lost many weapons and much of its power, but was still a going concern after the damage had been resolved.

Paul destroyed two of the incoming drones in the Direct Fire phase, reasoning that when they impacted, they’d still be counted as a Range 1 shot anyway, so why not have a pop at them when they really were at Range 1? One drone got through and scored a burnthrough hit on R Warp. Two further drones that had impacted on the #4 shield were also destroyed in the defensive fire phase.

To finish the impulse, the CR and BC launched two drones each [BC had lost two drone racks as part of the recent damage].



Impulse 2 saw the PK turn into the Orion’s drones, to take them on the #1 shield; 3 were destroyed by defensive fire and one got a hit for one warp hit on burnthrough.

The CR closed the range this impulse and got into the PK’s hex, off the #6 shield.

The CR fired her Alpha: 4 phaser-1’s and the overloaded Disruptor; the Disruptor hit but the phaser dice were poor, similar to how Davec_24’s photons always go Wink. 28 damage.scored: 8 taken up by reinforcement and 9 by the shield; the remaining 11 points were scored on armor. At this point, the Orion tractored the PK and there was no auction since the PK could not have matched the Orion’s sheer power; those doubled Warp engines give more than just speed or weapon power.

This meant that the CR and PK were in an unusual position whereby the CR controlled the tractor whereas the PK controlled the movement. However, the CR’s anchor function was still effective as it slowed the PK sufficiently for it to be caught by the Rom plasma later in the turn. The WE accelerated to close better for the plasma launch; two more drones impacting the PK’s #4 shield dropped that shield and the WE’s phaser-1’s scored 10 internals on the armor. The WE launched her plasma at this point, which impacted on the next impulse but not before the PK had turned its #3 shield to face the torpedo.

This is the approach of the plasma and SS on the CR-anchored PK:



[Wife’s comment: ‘Why is there a carrot?’ Smile]




This duly dropped the carrot’s #3 shield and scored 30 on the armor. Still holding the PK in a tractor, the CR launched an 18-point SS at the PK at that point. In the next impulse, the PK moved away from the SS which then impacted its #4 shield and was grabbed in a tractor beam. The BC [despite its earlier clattering] had by this time turned enough to inflict 10 damage through the downed #3 shield, with one phaser-1 and an overloaded disruptor, leaving the PK with only 3 armor remaining. The impulse concluded with a hit-and-run on the phaser-4’ from the BC’s one remaining transporter, and the WE too, for no effect. At the end of this impulse [impulse #6], the CR dropped the tractor; sitting at range zero in the forward arcs of the PK was not thought to be a healthy place to be over the turn break for obvious reasons.

In Impulse 7, the Orion decelerated three times, finishing up at 2 hexes behind the PK and with the PK in its phaser-3 arcs [they’re rear-firing]; also the BC got in a phaser-1 shot on the PK at 3 hexes. Three Orion hit-and-run raids [on the phaser-4’s] gave no damage. In the final impulse, the CR went for separation in case of an early HET by the PK next turn, whereas the other ships closed in more.

For Turn 3, the PK selected speed 8 and the ships speed 16. In Impulse #1, the PK performed a HET to face the two approaching ships, and hosed the BC with three phaser-4’s and one phaser-3 for 64 damage on its intact #6 shield, scoring 36 internals. The BC’s return fire of 2 overloaded disruptors [as big an Alpha as she could manage] and 2 phaser-1’s scored 28 damage for 15 internals including one phaser-4 that had fired already. I had thought that the BC would be destroyed by that final salvo and so I put everything I could into her return Alpha strike. There’s no point in holding back anything when you may not be around to use it later on. Paul had thought that the three p-4’s would be enough; it turned out not to be the case – the BC finished up with 12 warp, one drone and one phaser-1-360 and three intact shields. Still a useable warship but I decided to spend the rest of the turn limping her away to lick her wounds. The BC and the CR between them launched three drones.

Next impulse one drone hit the PK on its downed shield #1, and the WE got in a range 4 phaser Alpha for 13 more internals. The PK’s return fire of one P-4 scored only ten damage, for one burnthrough.

Impulse #3 saw the beleaguered PK turn towards an 18-point SS which impacted the #1 shield; two phaser-3’s destroyed it in defensive fire, but two more drones hit the PK on its intact #5 shield for more internals. This was a very nice piece of defensive manoeuvre by Paul in taking the minimum number of hits by catching the drones on an intact shield while destroying the SS that would have caused 18 internals.

The PK gave the WE three phaser-3s at range 1, scoring some internals but unfortunately having to accept a single retaliatory hit-and-run raid that took out a phaser-4.

On Impulse #4, the CR managed to get in for a range zero alpha on the PK’s downed #4 shield for 29 more internals; given that the PK was now low on power, and the CR was threatening another tractor anchor with another incoming 18-point SS, Paul conceded.

The PK had taken one heck of a battering, but had required the full and properly applied firepower of three cruisers to do so. I had one cruiser crippled and one damaged, the other intact. The PK can absorb a tremendous amount of punishment before it starts to take ‘proper’ internals; it has 20-box shields in each direction and 88 armor to get through before ‘proper’ internals begin.

The Romulan R-plasma had caused 50 points of damage, 30 onto the armor itself; this went a long way towards the total amount of damage needed to start scoring internals. Without that torpedo, the defenders would have had a much harder job of it, perhaps I would have lost another ship without that R-torp.

I must give Paul full credit for playing a very sporting game, several times reminding me that I could take ‘last remaining box’ hits on Frame; I feel it’s important that all players of FC remember that this is a game and that we still want to be friends afterwards Wink

Lessons Learned
It is not apparent from the above account, but when you are playing with [or against] three ships of different speeds and turn categories, it can be difficult to remember who has fulfilled their turn mode and who has not, especially if you’re not paying it proper attention. This can work both ways: the PK could find that a ship turns before he thought it would be able to, or maybe he thought it could turn and it couldn’t; alternatively, the player with the three ships might not realise that one of his ships is ready to turn and may miss an opportunity to turn and fire. At knife range, that can mean missing a golden opportunity since the range may open before you get another chance to fire.

It may sound obvious, but when taking damage on weapons in a close-in fight, it’s almost always better to take that damage on weapons that have already fired, even if that means sacrificing a better weapon. Repairing a phaser-1 costs the same as a phaser-3 in FC; use this to your advantage.

It takes 6-7 phaser-4s to really smash up a cruiser. [OK, perhaps not the WE but then it is an anachronism…] This is quite impressive and means that a cruiser can survive at least one broadside from the PK and still be a going concern.

The PK has no seeking weapons or transporters; this means that you can fire all your weapons at optimum ranges without having to keep some in reserve to deal with seekers or punish dropped shields.

Balance and potential variants

We considered that the scenario as played, using 350 points of ships, was quite in favour of the defenders. The scenario suggests limiting the defenders to 300 points if there are Federation ships present; I would extend this to include plasma-armed ships too. The Feds are no longer the only race with massive single-strike crunch power. The scenario was written before plasma ships were available, which is probably why this idea was not picked up on. A Snipe rather than a War Eagle would probably have given better balance. I would say that the defenders should probably lose one ship destroyed and another crippled if this scenario were fully balanced.

The PK’s speed limit of 24 should also be dropped if there are plasma ships around. A speed limit of 24 would be practical in any case; the only problem being if the PK got past the defenders and made straight for the planet at speed 24+8. If this were the case, though, the final showdown would only be postponed until the planet was reached; at that point, the PK would have to choose between beating up the planet and defending itself.

This would be a very entertaining scenario played with frigates rather than cruisers. Four or five frigates would be pretty potent, but of course you would lose one frigate per turn to those Phaser-4’s.

It may be better for balance if the defending ships cannot perform hit-and-run raids until the armor has gone down, similar to the electrostatic armor on the Juggernaut. This can be rationalised by saying that the armor is made of neutronium, which would probably be impervious to transporter beams…..
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Last edited by Kang on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:45 am; edited 2 times in total
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Davec_24
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Joined: 16 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this, a good report as usual. You have some good points about the plasmas and the planet killer there, and you're probably right that the reason they weren't factored into the scenario balance like photons were is because the scenario was written before plasmas were in the game properly. It has to be said that I doubt a snipe would have been better than the WE as it would likely have been toasted very, very quickly and so would not have been a "going concern" for long enough to make a lot of difference. Wink

Also I liked Paul's "stand in" minis - while they may not quite have the 3D visual effect of actual models, they give a better visual effect and are probably easier/nicer to handle then just using the counters. I imagine they are also more difficult to break than miniatures are! The other advantage is that you can use them more comfortably with the "large" hexes supplied with FC than you can with the Starline models.
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
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Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three Z-FFs and another small ship would make about 350 points, but imagine the drone waves from that lot....
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
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Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Davec_24 wrote:
Also I liked Paul's "stand in" minis - while they may not quite have the 3D visual effect of actual models, they give a better visual effect and are probably easier/nicer to handle then just using the counters. I imagine they are also more difficult to break than miniatures are! The other advantage is that you can use them more comfortably with the "large" hexes supplied with FC than you can with the Starline models.

All those points are correct. They are quite weighty and so they definitely have a better 'feel'. The base is made of a 5p piece [a small coin about 12mm across for the non-Brits among our readers], and a bolt, with Milliput to join it all up. The top platform is card or plastic and the counter is held on with a blob of Blu-Tack or similar.
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Sneaky Scot
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report Kang. Loved Paul's counters - are they scanned in from the megahex counters then mounted on the card?
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
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Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sneaky Scot wrote:
Nice report Kang. Loved Paul's counters - are they scanned in from the megahex counters then mounted on the card?

No, he cuts them out of the original counters. Not what I'd do, but it's his game Smile

We also use a few other 'in-house' play aids: a set of Impulse cards [a similar thing is apparently appearing in Orion Attack]; each ship has a set of 'speed cards', to make it easier to reveal speeds simultaneously; we use poker chips for the turn and slip modes, and for the HET bonus [you surrender your chip when your ship uses its free HET]. Finally we use actual money for the energy points - 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p coins. We also have some scanned 1p pieces that have been cut up to make 1/2 and 1/4-point tokens:



All's very swish at Battlegroup Exeter. Come visit us sometime Smile
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Davec_24
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I *would* come and visit, if I could make the times I'm down your way coincide with your games (or the other way around)... Sad
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Paul Grogan
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sneaky Scot wrote:
Nice report Kang. Loved Paul's counters - are they scanned in from the megahex counters then mounted on the card?


Afraid not. I mailed on the forum a while back asking for scans of the ships. SVC said he would look at doing them in 72dpi, but that never transpired.

I then scanned in the counters myself. However, due to a cheap scanner, the images were pretty awful (something about descreening). After a couple of hours with various scans and attempts with photoshop, I gave up.

So, yes, its the original counter, chopped up carefully with a sharp knife and then the edges done with a black marker.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keeping track of turn modes is easier if you use the turn/slip markers.

The PK should remember that his tractors have a range of 3, not one, so you can hold the enemy ship at range.

Another thing is that you can take any yellow "system" hit on the system boxes, including tractors. This makes the PK's tractors hard to kill. The PK's phaser-4s can use directed targetting AFAIK, a really big directed shot will take the guns off anything and leave it a mission kill that you can then ignore.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
The PK's phaser-4s can use directed targetting AFAIK, a really big directed shot will take the guns off anything and leave it a mission kill that you can then ignore.

Of course. That's a really good idea, thanks!
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Paul Grogan
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
Keeping track of turn modes is easier if you use the turn/slip markers.


I dont use the turn/slip markers as it makes the map completely cluttered and very confusing to work out what is going on. As Kang mentioned earlier, we use poker chips. You get 1 white chip for each movement you made since you last turned. When you turn, you lose *all* of your white chips and then have to start building them up again.
Blue chip is sideslip, if you have it, you can sideslip and when you do you lose it. When you move again without sideslipping, you get it back.
I think the only difficulty was controlling multiple ships, which I'm not used to, and ideally I like to run scenarios where each player has 1 ship.
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OGOPTIMUS
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report. Lots of details. Good analysis points as well. That is one scary monster.

The no hit and run raids part might make the PK a bit overpowered. It doesn't seem like the H&R raids even made a huge difference since they missed until the very end. Maybe limit them to when the PK has half of its armor left?

Those counters look great too.
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