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After- Action Report for ‘Pirates….Interrupted’
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
Posts: 1955
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:53 pm    Post subject: After- Action Report for ‘Pirates….Interrupted’ Reply with quote

Date: 15th September 2008
Venue: ‘Battlegroup Exeter’ at Clifton Road Games boardgame club, Exeter, UK.
Scenario: 8CM20: ‘Pirates….Interrupted’, from Communiqué 31

For this scenario, we played it exactly as written in the Communiqué. The Fed CA was captained by Steve, the owner of the games shop where the club meets, for his first game of FC. FedPol captained by Paul, Orion CR by Rob, and Orion SAL by myself, Tony.

In addition, the game was played using some interesting hybrid mini stands/counters, of which I’m hoping that Paul will post pictures on the forum.

Orion option mounts were as follows: Wing mounts left as drones for simplicity’s sake; CR had a Phaser-G in the forward option mount, while the SAL had a Phaser-1 and a Phaser-G. We figured that the Feds would want to get in close with their photons, because our stealth coatings would make us harder to hit; therefore we wanted to have a very credible close-in threat. Also the 'phaser-boat' principle means that we would hopefully get the best damage output for our money [literally money; we play with coins for energy tokens. Paul is very trusting]. Plasma was briefly considered as a Turn #1 deterrent, as we thought ourselves quite helpless, but the thought of the long arming cycle and the attraction of the phaser-boat idea won out. Plus we had our drones as a Turn #1 deterrent anyway.

Both Feds began with photon preloads at the cost of their batteries.

Setup: Fed CA and Pol set up as per scenario instructions, facing B; Orions were set up directly in front of the Fed ships at a range of 24, facing F [The Orions are allowed to choose their initial facing].

The scenario rules state that the Orions begin the game docked, and therefore cannot undock until the end of Turn #1. This therefore means that they have to spend Turn #1 stationary, and cannot move or turn in any way.

Turn #1, the Feds completed loading their photons at standard levels. Speeds were 16 for the Feds, and of course ‘Docked/Stopped’ for the Orions. Feds moved directly towards Orions for the first six impulses, and joined together in the same hex so they could hold hands for mutual support. At the end of impulse 6, the Orions launched six drones at the FedPol, at a range of 9. We took this as our best firing opportunity given the range breakdown [wanting the drones to be outside of defensive range at the end of the impulse before impact] and that we had no ability to control the firing position. Impulse 7, the CA destroyed 2 drones and damaged a third with 2 P-1’s and a P-3 respectively, at range 3, and in addition launched counter-drones at range 3.

During Impulse 8, two pairs of drones mutually destroyed each other; the surviving 2 drones impacted the Pol on Shield #1. Both these drones were destroyed by Phaser-3 fire in the Defensive Fire Phase.

The position for the end of the impulse was that the CA had the Orions centrelined at range 3, whereas the Pol had dropped back slightly and had the Orions at range 4 on the centreline. For the Orions, the Feds were along the LF/L hex spline. If they’d thought about it, the Feds could have slipped out of our FA arcs on the last impulse of Turn #1, and we’d have been unable to shred them like we did.

The traditional end-of-turn slugfest then ensued. Because so much Fed firepower had been tied up in dealing with the drones, there was not as much to fire at the Orions this turn as they'd have liked. The Pol fired three P-1’s and a standard photon at the SAL – the photon missed and the phasers scored 10 damage on the #6 shield, and one burn-through killing a phaser-3. The CA also fired on the SAL, loosing 4 P-1’s and 2 standard photons, one of which missed, dropping the #6 shield and scoring 5 internals, while the two Orion Gatlings fired at range 3 against the CA for minor shield damage which was soaked up by reinforcement.

Other Orion return fire was all nine bearing phaser-1’s at the Pol [4 from the CR, 5 from the SAL]. Because the Pol had used all his power for the turn, there was no reinforcement – a total of 36 damage all told, for 22 internals. Ouch. Furthermore, the SAL launched 2 hit-and-run raids against the Pol, successfully destroying the 360-P-1.

Finally, the Orions used their spare power [lots of it; no movement, remember] to launch two full strength 18-point suicide shuttles at the CA. In the repair phase, the Pol shifted five boxes to cover his front shield.

For Turn #2, the Orions’ plan was to avoid the two remaining photons, because they could be overloads, and to try to get in behind the Feds and hit them hard. The new rules about the onset of the evasive manoeuvres effects was uppermost in our minds, knowing that we would have to think carefully about when to begin them, especially as our seeking weapons would lose tracking if we went EM. The plan for getting in behind the Feds was an old fighter combat trick based on the ‘horizontal split’ – hold ‘em by the nose and kick ‘em in the pants Smile . Both Orions were to split up and extend in nearly opposite directions; if both Feds followed one of the Orions, the other would slice back in to follow the pursuit group and hit the Feds from behind. If the Feds split up and gave separate chase, then the plan would be to use the classic ‘head-to-head-sandwich’ manoeuvre where the defenders head back towards each other and it effectively becomes a two-on-two head-to-head again. This would also most likely be accompanied by evasive manoeuvres. Furthermore, for the CR’s superior manoeuvrability meant that if it was faster than any pursuer, then naturally it would be able to open the range, whereas if it was slower, it could out-turn its opponent. For both these eventualities, therefore, we needed some decent baseline speeds.

That’s the theory, anyway. Speeds selected were Feds: speed 8, SAL 24, CR 16. Fed CA began rearming the photons, SAL doubled the warp engines and repaired 5 boxes of the downed #6 shield. In the first impulse, the SAL did a high energy turn to direction D and moved that way, whereas the CR slipped away and moved ahead and the Feds continued to close - towards the SAL. At the end of the impulse, the CA fired on the SAL - both his remaining photons with full overloads, plus six P-1’s. One photon connected and the total damage was 41 on shield #3, which I reinforced for 3 points, and thus giving 18 internals – a few power and both phaser-3’s. Fortunately all my drone racks survived the onslaught and I salvoed all four at the CA.

Impulse #2 began the CA’s aim for the rest of this turn, namely to get his remaining unfired P-1’s on to the SAL’s downed #3 shield, while the Pol also followed the SAL at his best speed. The tactic was working; I’d grabbed them by the nose, now it was left for Rob to get in behind and kick them in the pants Smile. His CR circled round behind the Pol and got in to range 1 on his #5 shield. Drool. All four drones impacted the CA, of which two got through for 23 on the shield and one burnthrough. However, more importantly, the CR’s centreline Alpha - four P-1’s and a Gatling - was fired, and the Pol blew up, scoring only four damage on the CR’s #1 shield in reply. Rob paints a Starfleet emblem on his hull. At this point, because the SAL still had its downed shield facing the CA and had no bearing weapons [both aft P-3’s destroyed], the CA dropped his #1 shield and we performed mutual hit-and-runs. The SAL had only one transporter left after the previous clattering she’d taken, but the dice were good for me and the CA lost one of his rearming photons [giggle] and I lost my remaining transporter. The CR also launched his two drones at the CA.

Impulse #3 saw the CR get right in to the CA’s hex, off his #4 shield. His drones hit the CA’s #5 shield; one was missed by the ADD and was picked off by a P-1, but the remaining drone hit and the burnthrough got a lucky phaser hit. I fired a long-range P-1 at the CA and took out the remainder of his #6 shield. Next the CR tractored the CA in order to anchor him for the approaching suicide shuttles, which are now 3 hexes behind the CA. For the rest of the turn, after some desultory phaser fire, the big Impulse was #7 where the suicide shuttles impacted the CA on his #4 shield for 12 internals. A smaller warhead suicide shuttle launched in mid-turn from the SAL was also tractored off his #6 shield. The turn ended with the CR adding insult to injury by launching his final suicide shuttle in Impulse #7 at the anchored CA and scoring 18 internals on the unprotected hull through the downed #4 shield. At this point, the CA had about 35 internals, while the SAL had 23.

With Turn 3 coming up, the Orion team examined their options. We did not want to rub it in for the Fed team [i.e. gloat over their defeat], and we considered calling it a win there and then. The point score was currently 65 to the Orions [50 for destroying the Pol, 15 for damaging the CA], and 27 to the Feds [16 for starting points difference and 11 for damaging the SAL]. Using the points system in (8B2), that would make it a Marginal Victory for the Orions. The only way the Orions could score better than the existing Marginal victory would be to capture the CA – destroying it would still not suffice to elevate us to Tactical Victory level. Interestingly, if you look at the way in which the victory point system works, because you compare your score to your original points value, even if you destroy a ship of similar points value, you will only get a Tactical victory. And making him disengage is seen as just as good as destroying him. Most odd.

Anyway, a glance at the Orions’ ship cards will show you what is perhaps a little-known advantage of that race – they have absolutely tons of Marines – the CR has 12, the SAL 20. So we decided to try to batter the CA into submission and then board and capture her.

Also, both sides openly discussed the tractor options. [I’m including this rambling so that my readers can see our thinking – that’s what Tactics threads are for. Sorry if it’s boring you….] If the Fed tried to break the tractor, he’d be on a real loser because the CR can double his engines and the CA would never be able to match the power applied. Bit like that time the Death Star tractors the Millennium Falcon, you know. Obviously, then, the Orions would love a tractor auction, but Steve is not daft of course. The Fed’s other option would be to spend more on movement so that at least he can dictate movement AND be able to turn fresh shields to his antagonists as required, even if he can’t break the tractor. So he set speed 16, whereas the CR set speed zero, the SAL setting speed 8 for the better turn mode. At speed 16, the CA would always have more power in movement as the CR can only spend a maximum of 12 for speed 24 baseline. From the Orions’ point of view, the CR anchor would not just be good for helping seeking weapons hit, it would also be good to enable my slower SAL to get in close before the CA could get away.

So, at the beginning of Turn 3, the CR doubled its warp engines and maintained its tractor on the CA. The CA maintained its tractor on the suicide shuttle. Speeds were as already stated.

The turn was short. In Impulse #1, the CA turned right, bringing the CR onto his nearly intact #3 shield [This seems to be a way of changing the relative shield facings for ships in the same hex – something we hadn’t thought of before]. The SAL centrelined the CA at range 1 off his #2 shield. The CA hit the SAL with 2 phaser-1’s and missed with his photon, for a total of 10 on the SAL’s #1 shield. The SAL’s phasers ripped through the CA’s #2 shield for 21 internals. With the CR yet to fire, and the drone waves yet to come, we mutually decided that the Fed would certainly be captured eventually, and so we declared it an Orion Tactical victory.

Lessons learned: It’s surprising how much harder it is to learn lessons when you’re on the winning side; all [or most of] your plans were successful and few mistakes were made. The saying that one learns best from one’s mistakes is quite true – if you are losing a lot of your battles, make sure you learn from them and your efforts will not be wasted.

The Orion stealth bonus is great – if you’re an Orion. It makes photons miss. It degrades every phaser attack on a weapon-by-weapon basis; this creates a serious dent in the firepower of all direct-fire attacks. It can even make a plasma torp miss – something that no other defensive mechanism can do apart from just outrunning the sod.

The Phaser-boat configuration is a superb way of maximising damage output each and every turn. At the moment I would fly a phaser-boat over any number of heavy-weapon ships. You can fire your option mount every turn, the damage per power spent is excellent and phasers don’t really miss once you’re in effective range, not like a heavy weapon. The P-1/P-G combination on the SAL was very effective for both medium range striking power and close-in viciousness. The P-G on the CR is probably the best weapon for this scenario. Add that to the drones which cost no energy and basically you can dictate the battle – as we did do, once we were moving.

Orion manoeuvrability – the low speed change costs, plus the stealth bonus and the basically brilliant turning performance of the CR in particular make it able to get in behind and stay there. A deadly opponent in the right hands.

The Fed CA is a tough cookie – still a going concern even with over 30 internals, and then some. It’s a damage sponge with all those hull and lab boxes. To destroy a Fed CA, you have to work pretty hard. Seeing it take two drones on a shield with only the single burnthrough was impressive. Yes, I realise that any cruiser can do that, but I’m really a frigate man and to a frigate each and every drone is a potential killer.

The firepower of the Fed squadron can be seriously attenuated by the Orion drones if used properly.

Select your baseline speeds carefully so that your speed can be used to accomplish the things you want to accomplish, be it offensive or defensive.

Shoot the weakest ship first, get the points in the bag. A weaker ship can be a liability rather than a benefit. That’s why we popped the Pol first. For the Feds, I don’t really know what the answer is to that problem, except perhaps hang back?

For this scenario, it’s probably better for the Orions if they face directly towards the approaching Feds at the start of the game. At least that way you have them in your primary weapon arc all the time.

The Victory rules (8B2) can be deceptive – read them carefully if you are deciding your result on point values.

If you can’t break a tractor, at least try to control the movement.

-------------

Sorry this is a long report but I wanted to get all the thought processes down. Hope you enjoyed it Smile
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Davec_24
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Joined: 16 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once a frigate captain, always a frigate captain. Too much Patrick O'Brian, perhaps? To be fair, the cruisers in FC are probably more equivalent in role to an 18th/19th century frigate than the FC frigates are - I see those as being more like a sloop in terms of their role.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the report and it's good to see your conclusions from the end of it. I too have also found photon torpedoes to be pretty much useless against the Orion - they're difficult to hit with without that stealth coating, and even worse with it, especially against phaser-armed Orions who can punish you severely in your reloading turn, and/or get on your tail out of your photon arc anyway.

I like the tactic with the tractor beam, and good idea to try and control the movement rather than trying to tractor-auction with an engine-doubling CR.
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asguard101
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've play that mission. The CR chose a Plasma-F, and the Salvage chose 2 extra Drone Racks. The Orions Doubled thier engines and went speed 16 in reverse for the second round. And was able to keep a good distance while sending drones in, until the PLasma was ready. Short version of the battle, when we stopped was the Pol was destroyed, and the CA had around 40 internals. The Orions had a total of 10-15 internals.

The one major thing we noticed was the Salvage could repair the doubled Engines at the every turn without trouble.
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junior
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

asguard101 wrote:
The one major thing we noticed was the Salvage could repair the doubled Engines at the every turn without trouble.


While not featured in this scenario, the LR has the same ability. It's extremely annoying...
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djdood
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Joined: 01 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't think that was too long at all. You had lots of insights to share.
Thanks!
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Kang
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Joined: 23 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

djdood wrote:
I didn't think that was too long at all. You had lots of insights to share.
Thanks!


Thanks for that comment, it's good to know that. It's sometimes difficult to know how much detail to go into.

asguard101 wrote:
We've play that mission. The CR chose a Plasma-F, ...... And was able to keep a good distance while sending drones in, until the PLasma was ready.


Were you playing that right? A plas-F is always ready at the start of the game..... Perhaps I misunderstood you; that could have been a second plas-F.

asguard101 wrote:
Short version of the battle, when we stopped was the Pol was destroyed, and the CA had around 40 internals. The Orions had a total of 10-15 internals.


I wonder if anyone's played this as the Feds and won?

asguard101 wrote:
The one major thing we noticed was the Salvage could repair the doubled Engines at the every turn without trouble.


....and that means that they could retrograde ad lib at speed 24+, now that's an interesting tactic. The doubled engines therefore seem to enable a revival of the Kaufman Retrograde, which the 'double move cost in reverse' rule was designed to stop.

I'm surprised there's no rule about that.....
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Paul Grogan
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: After- Action Report for ‘Pirates….Interrupted’ Reply with quote

Excellent report Tony. I wish more people would post their scenario reports on here Smile


Kang wrote:
In addition, the game was played using some interesting hybrid mini stands/counters, of which I’m hoping that Paul will post pictures on the forum.


There are a number of things I have 'changed' with my game. Once I've finished, I'll get some photos taken and start a "Pimp my game" thread


Kang wrote:
We figured that the Feds would want to get in close with their photons, because our stealth coatings would make us harder to hit; therefore we wanted to have a very credible close-in threat.


This was my first big mistake of the night. I dont have the rules for Phaser-G's, but after Tony explained them, I was happy to use them. What I didnt do was to actually think about them. So, quite a lot of the scenario, we were at fairly close range, which meant for 1 energy, the gattling phasers were doing about 12-14 damage.

My first impression is that they are way better than a Phaser-1, but as long as you maintain a medium range (5-Cool, they are pretty rubbish and you would be better off with a Phaser-1.

Now I know (and understand the impact) of the Phaser-G's, I will be taking that a lot more into account next time.

Kang wrote:
Setup: Fed CA and Pol set up as per scenario instructions, facing B; Orions were set up directly in front of the Fed ships at a range of 24, facing F [The Orions are allowed to choose their initial facing].


I had forgotten that bit. Yeah, starting the Orions facing the Fed ships would have been very different.


Kang wrote:
The traditional end-of-turn slugfest then ensued. Because so much Fed firepower had been tied up in dealing with the drones, there was not as much to fire at the Orions this turn as they'd have liked.


The big mistake I made here is getting the Fed ships to go straight into the Orions. I wanted the CA to be able to use both its LF and RF phasers, so get the Orions directly ahead. However, We went in on their LF arc, meaning they could blast us to bits with their front arc weapons. This mistake probably cost us any chance of winning. We should have gone in and round the back, staying at range 5-8 and staying out of their front arc.


The new rules about the onset of the evasive manoeuvres effects was uppermost in our minds, knowing that we would have to think carefully about when to begin them, especially as our seeking weapons would lose tracking if we went EM. [/quote]

I dont even know the original rules for EM, let alone the new ones Smile

Good scenario. The 3rd one I have played - the other two were pretty unbalanced and IMO unplayable. This one however was good - the PV of the ships was similar and it is one I would definitely play again.
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asguard101
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kang,

We play with a "house rule" that all ships enter battle with with one turn of arming done, unless the mission state a reason why they should have full or no armign complete.
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Paul Grogan
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont think that is a house rule. Isnt that in the core rules of the game for plasma weapons?

I think the reason Kang queried it is that plasma-F weapons start off fully charged, loaded and ready to fire. This is because the cost to hold a Plasma-F in a Plasma-F tube is zero.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep in mind the victory conditions for this scenario. The Feds only have to score damage on each Orion ship and then they can disengage. They already have a lead in the points, so they have to concentrate on finding a way to score damage and get out of there without being hurt so bad that the points-scale tips in favor of the Orions.
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asguard101
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I beleive that there is a note that says unless mission states otherwise all ships enter game with one turn of arming completed.
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Democratus
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Entertaining and educational. What more can one ask from a tactics article? Felt like I was reading CL.

I really enjoy missions like this where both sides have to carefully consider the victory conditions and play to them - rather than just slug it out.

Thank you!
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Davec_24
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(4J2e) says "Plasma-armed ships begin scenarios (unless the scenario rules state otherwise) with type-F launchers fully armed and with type G/S/R launchers holding the first turn of arming energy, and with full batteries."

This means that plasma Fs would start ready to fire - this is the case because they have 0 holding cost as Paul rightly pointed out, and this reflects the nature of the launcher; it is equipped with a stasis box so that a torpedo can be armed and held ready to fire when needed, without the usual delay in arming.

Any other plasma torpedoes would start the game with the first turn of arming only, and have to pay the second and third turns before firing (except if they are doing a fast-load plasma F of course).
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Kang
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike wrote:
Keep in mind the victory conditions for this scenario. The Feds only have to score damage on each Orion ship and then they can disengage. They already have a lead in the points, so they have to concentrate on finding a way to score damage and get out of there without being hurt so bad that the points-scale tips in favor of the Orions.

Democratus wrote:
Entertaining and educational. What more can one ask from a tactics article? Felt like I was reading CL.

I really enjoy missions like this where both sides have to carefully consider the victory conditions and play to them - rather than just slug it out.

Thank you!

Thanks for your kind comments, and you're welcome Smile Yes, it's very subtle how the points system works here. It's a very important lesson to learn, that we need to play to the victory conditions.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:38 pm    Post subject: Re: After- Action Report for ‘Pirates….Interrupted’ Reply with quote

Paul Grogan wrote:
The big mistake I made here is getting the Fed ships to go straight into the Orions. I wanted the CA to be able to use both its LF and RF phasers, so get the Orions directly ahead. However, We went in on their LF arc, meaning they could blast us to bits with their front arc weapons. This mistake probably cost us any chance of winning. We should have gone in and round the back, staying at range 5-8 and staying out of their front arc.

Although to tell the truth, I admit that I was terrified for my squadron for the simple reason that the Feds could just charge in and hit us with photons. Although the photon is the proverbial 'wonder weapon' [wonder if it will hit this time], don't forget that we were standing still and could not dictate any positional strategy for the first turn. That's pretty scary, when a Fed CA is coming at you with both barrels loaded and you can't go anywhere.

Hindsight is of course great, and now it seems to me that the Feds don't get as good a starting position as I'd thought, despite the Orions starting the game cold. They need to capitalise on the Orion starting position and grab some points, then disengage, as Mike has said already. Or perhaps it would be better to overload the photons fully on Turn 1; yes, it's against normal operating doctrine but at least it only costs the Feds 2 points per tube to hold them [on Turn 2] rather than having to pay the [effectively] six points per tube AND run in fast AND shoot down the drones on Turn 1....

Perhaps I will analyse the points possibilities in this scenario again, and see what I can come up with in terms of who needs to do what to whom, and with how much prejudice aforethought....

Edit: A thread regarding relative victory levels has been started on the General Discussion board here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=16207 and apparently this has been thought of before; there's another discussion on the main Star Fleet Games board at http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/messages/12033/20892.html?1216740681 that may be interesting on this point.
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