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Mercy or Death - After action report
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Mike
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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 10:12 pm    Post subject: Mercy or Death - After action report Reply with quote

After-action report: Mercy or Death
Briefing #2 scenario by Scott Moellmer

This scenario occurs early in the Second Federation-Kzinti War. The Federation had to evacuate the “Nashville” colony near the Kzinti border, but the 120 colonists were suffering from a plague and needed special quarantine facilities. The hospital ship Mercy and a police cutter were sent to get the infected colonists before Kzinti forces arrived.

An added wrinkle to this scenario was the condition of the two Kzinti frigates. They had fought through other enemy forces to get to the Nashville system and had some shield damage on two shields and only two drones in their drone racks.

On Turn 1 the Mercy and the police ship rapidly approached Nashville, slowed, and launched two shuttles apiece. The shuttles moved adjacent to the planet and stopped, waiting to land at the end of the turn. The two ships continued around the planet and lowered facing shields so they could each use transporters to beam up two groups of colonists.

On Turn 2 two Kzinti frigates arrived together on the map 15 hexes away from the planet. At this point, the two Federation ships were moving in lock-step with one another and were on the same side of the planet as the Kzinti ships. The Kzintis approached at maximum speed as the Fed ships continued a fast orbit to get around to the other side of Nashville where the shuttles would take off at the end of the turn.

The Kzinti frigates split up about 10 hexes from the planet. It appeared that they planned to send one ship around each side of Nashville so the Federation ships could not use the planet as cover against their drones. At this point, the police ship made a sharp turn to delay the closest Kzinti ship. The Mercy continued around the planet, intending to be able to rendezvous with two of the shuttles as they took off. It also planned to swing around the other side of the planet and hopefully transport colonists from the two hexsides where they remained.

The police cutter did a high-energy turn that surprised the closest Kzinti frigate and forced a battle pass about three hexes from the planet. The cutter fired a pair of Ph-1s and a fully overloaded photon torpedo at range 1, but the Kzinti commander had maneuvered his ship so that the shots would come through an undamaged shield. The photon took out the shield (plus some) and the phasers wrecked havoc throughout the frigate. The disruptor, most of the phasers, and a drone launcher were lost among other systems. The frigate was able to hit with its overloaded disruptor and four phasers and scored 10 internals on the police ship. Among those hits were the photon, two phasers, hull, some power, a shuttle and a transporter. On the next impulse, it used two Marine boarding parties in hit & run raid attempts on the cutter’s remaining tractor beam, but both groups of Marines failed and one was killed.

The other Kzinti frigate halted its movement around the other side of the planet and moved quickly to rejoin its mate and finish off the police cutter. Fleeing a pursuing drone from the damaged frigate, the police ship found itself trapped between taking a range 0 alpha strike from the undamaged Kzinti frigate or taking a drone on its rear shield (and keeping away from the Kzinti). It took the drone hit, but it didn’t matter much anyway. The frigate performed a high-energy turn and blasted the police ship with everything it could bring to bear. It took down a left-facing shield and wrecked most of the ship systems and its remaining phaser. In the meantime, the Mercy was moving within transporter range on the far side of the planet. The damaged frigate moved to close the distance, but with no facing weapons, it could not do much to stop the hospital ship from beaming up two more groups of colonists.

At the end of the turn, the four shuttles lifted off loaded with colonists from two sides of the planet, but it was becoming obvious that they would probably not have a chance to land on either Federation ship.

Turn 3 began with the police ship at about half power and out of weapons. It turned off and went as fast as it could to try to tie up the damaged Kzinti frigate and keep it from harassing the shuttles. The undamaged frigate continued around Nashville and accelerated toward the Mercy. By the time it could bring its weapons in range, the Mercy had turned away to protect its down shield. The Kzinti launched two drones, but the hospital ship had ample power to make a better speed than they could move. It arced away from the battle with its four groups of colonists (enough for a tie if it could escape the bottom edge of the map).

The police cutter and the damaged frigate got into close quarters as the shuttles tried vainly to slowly move away. The cutter tractored a drone from the frigate as the drone moved past on its way toward one of the shuttles. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake. In order to accomplish the tractor link, the police ship had to decelerate twice. The two hexes it lost in movement at that time may have cost the Federation a win.

The hospital ship was making maximum speed toward the bottom of the map, but kept slipping closer to the undamaged Kzinti frigate while staying just out of range of the two pursuing drones. It was attempting to lure the Kzinti into firing its weapons. At the range of 5 or 6 hexes, the Kzinti was not likely to do much damage or even penetrate a shield. For a couple of impulses, the Kzinti seemed to be taking the bait, but then he veered off toward his partner and the police cutter that was now making the best speed it could toward the bottom of the map. The other Kzinti frigate attempted two more hit & run raids to destroy the tractor beam on the police ship and was successful this time. The drone was released and slammed into one of the shuttles, destroying it and its passengers.

At a range of 3 hexes, the Kzinti frigate attempted an all-or-nothing strike on the police ship. The cutter had managed to get some shielding back on its rear shield, but only five boxes. The disruptor blast scored, as did the ph-1s and a ph-3 for a total of thirteen internals. The police ship had more than that number of internal system boxes remaining, but they were practically all control systems. As the various hits were resolved, the frame damage boxes were disappearing. With only three more hits to resolve, the police cutter took its last frame. The next hit skipped through the entire Table #4 resolution row and the police ship with its two groups of colonists blew up. The Mercy escaped with four groups of colonists and forced a tie.

Observations and lessons

The Fed hospital ship went unscathed in this game. Its commander could probably have been a little more aggressive to get more of the colonists. Two more groups of colonists would have meant a marginal Federation victory.

The use of the shuttles was questionable. As this particular game played out, they were all destroyed. They have to be able to take off and land on a ship asap. One question that popped up was whether any of the shuttles could exit the bottom of the map and count as groups of colonists for victory purposes. Does the disengagement rule apply only to the two Federation ships, or does it apply equally to the shuttles?

Players should “read up” on the shuttle rules before playing this scenario. We spent entirely too much time referring back to the rules about when to land, when to take off, the restrictions a ship is under when shuttles are launched and when they can land on it, and how shuttles are death-dragged. Another thing that complicated this was the structure of the rules. Its nice that they are written in readable form, but when one wishes to find out all there is to know about something such as shuttles, it would be nice to have all those rules in one place. This game lasted a little less than three hours, but it probably should have taken only two hours or less.

The Kzinti ships might have gotten an outright win if they had stayed together. They could have taken out the police ship first and then concentrated on the hospital ship. With that tactic, it would seem that the Federation would be hard-pressed to get any kind of win or even a draw.

We had a great time and liked this scenario a lot. It was simple and had definite directives for both sides that were easy to grasp.
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Wolverin61
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a great game! May have to do that scenario myself sometime.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After giving this scenario more thought, it seems that it should be impossible for the Kzinti to win. A Kzinti win is defined by the scenario as the Fed rescuing from 0-3 groups of colonists.

Even if only the hospital ship is used to receive colonists, the Fed is assured of a draw at minimum. On Turn 1, the hospital ship moves to within transporter range and beams 2 colonist groups on board. At the start of Turn 2 (when the Kzintis enter the map), it plots a baseline of either 16 or 24 and uses deceleration to remain within transport range while transporting another 2 groups of colonists from an adjacent side of the planet. It can then leave the map with 4 groups of colonists...a draw. If the police cutter is also allowed to carry infected colonists, then it can duplicate this same procedure and the Fed should be able to carry 8 groups of colonists off the map for a tactical Federation victory. That is one category short of a complete victory.

Some of the variants for play balance might make it a little more even.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We tried this scenario again yesterday and the Feds won by getting 6 groups of colonists off the map. The police cutter was destroyed and the hospital ship took pretty heavy damage. One Kzinti frigate had lots of its weapons and internal systems gutted, but retained almost all of its power. The other was virtually untouched.

This time the Feds launched 4 shuttles which all landed on turn 1. They were playing it so that only the hospital ship could transport infected colonists (e.g. the police cutter could not).

The hospital ship can take a tremendous beating and still accomplish its mission, but it was close at the end. It had plenty of power to accelerate and get away from all Kzinti drones and the one damaged Kzinti frigate. The police cutter was in pretty good shape until the Kzintis realized the hospital ship would get away. They turned on the cutter and obliterated it with everything they had.

This game brought up one question. The hospital ship did an emergency evacuation of colonists from a shuttle in space, then the shuttle self-destructed. Was this acceptable within the rules of the game?
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it's strictly within the rules. Because emergency evacuation requires transporters at both ends IIRC. However, a ship could use it's transporters to move the colonists from the shuttle to the hospital ship, and the shuttle then just left on the map. Once all the friendly ships leave the scenario, the shuttle is considered destroyed.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to (5E7) there only needs to be one transporter available on one of the two ships.

The question is whether a shuttle can be considered to be "a ship."
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Wolverin61
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
... a ship could use it's transporters to move the colonists from the shuttle to the hospital ship, and the shuttle then just left on the map. Once all the friendly ships leave the scenario, the shuttle is considered destroyed.


I think this is correct. You wouldn't need emergency evacuation to beam the personnel from a shuttlecraft onto your ship (as long as it's your shuttlecraft.)
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One other thing about this scenario that is not explained in the published version is whether or not the Kzintis can fire on the planet to kill groups of colonists. We have played it as if that is not allowed.
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Wolverin61
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike wrote:
One other thing about this scenario that is not explained in the published version is whether or not the Kzintis can fire on the planet to kill groups of colonists. We have played it as if that is not allowed.


Hmm, under (6A1d) it sounds like you could with direct-fire weapons. (6A1e) doesn't specifically say you can target something on the surface of a planet with a drone, but I can't find any rule that says you can't.

I think you probably played it right, but then, I didn't write the scenario.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every time we've played it, the Feds have either gotten a draw (once) or won in some fashion (3 times). The Fed police cutter has also been blown up every time.

It seems to be able to get in one good lick against one of the Kzinti frigates, but it takes one back. The hospital ship has to be flown aggressively to get 6 groups of colonists, but it isn't that hard to do. It'll take some damage, but should be able to escape every time.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would play it that the Kzintis can't kill colonists on the planet. AFAIK there's no provision in the rules to fire at marines or other "people" on the ground (how many points of damage does it take to kill 1 colonist?), but ships, shuttles and bases on the ground are OK. And of course, killing a shuttle or ship will kill all colonists aboard.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You brought up another questionable area that I thought about while we were playing. Exactly when would groups of colonists perish if a shuttle on the ground that was sent to get them was destroyed before it had a chance to lift off?

There is nothing in the rules about this type of situation.

We played it loose (in the true spirit of Federation Commander). We assumed that a shuttle would not be carrying any colonists until it actually lifted off. Therefore, the shuttles that were destroyed on the ground had no effect on the colonists who were on the same side of the planet.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they load/unload at the end of the turn, just before takeoff according to the rules...

Before that, the colonists are checking their baggage and waiting in the departure lounge Smile
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Goonius
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think that a hit and run raid would be able to axe a few colonists. I would not allow bombardment to do the same. Keep the colonists in defensive bunkers capable of withstanding anything but a steady 15 turn bombartment with every gun a fleet would have.
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Wolverin61
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, but if there's a plague, you're probably not going to want to send a raiding party down because they'd be exposed and bring it back to your ship.
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