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Kaufman Retrograde

 
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mojo jojo
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 23 Jun 2009
Posts: 340

PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:48 pm    Post subject: Kaufman Retrograde Reply with quote

I never really got into SFB (I only have room for 1 very complex game and I chose Advanced Squad Leader). But one thing I was curious about was the Kaufman Retrograde. I can see how it would be wonderful against a Plasma race, but I don't see how it would be all that helpful vs another direct fire race. The scenario is 1 CC and 4 CAs (739 FC pts) facing off against 1000 pts of attackers.

A Gorn or Romulan force should be dogmeat since they would be forced to bolt every plasma and their PH1 isn't going to be enough against the photons.

The CC + 4CA has 20 photons and 32 PH1 that can point forward

How would the Retrograde deal with the following attackers? (I'm using FC ships and BPV for this exercise)

1) Another Fed force of 8 NCLs (1000 pts). 32 photons and 48 PH1 pointing forward.

2) A Klingon force of 3 C7, 2 D7C, 1 D7 (998 pts). 24 Disrupters and 37 forward facing PH1.

3) Tholian 3 CCs + 4 CAs (998 pts). 28 Disrupters and 48 forward PH1s.

4) Seltorian 7 CAs (994 pts). 28 PCs and 56 forward PH1s.

5) Orion. Just choose Photons, Disrupters, or Hellbores in option mounts. Don't double engines and use stealth bonus at long range.

6) Lyrans 3 NCA + 4 CA (994 pts). 28 Disrupters and 48 forward PH1.

It seems to me that any of these races would smoke the Fed force by staying at 9-15 hex range and concentrating fire at 1 ship at a time. The few drones that the Feds can launch simply won't be enough to compensate for being seriously outgunned.
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marcus_aurelius
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Joined: 07 Jun 2008
Posts: 254
Location: Cary IL

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always disliked the Kaufman Retrograde and I am glad that made it impractical in Fed Commander.

Years ago I took a Gorn Heavy Destroyer against a Fed NCL.
The Fed tried to retrograde away and I just circled and refused to
follow him. I said if he wanted to 'disengage' by retrograde that was
fine with me then I would win by default since I would be the only
one left on the map. He eventually gave up retrograding and I
eventually destroyed all his shields with enveloping plasmas and
he gave up at that point.

A good tactic would be to never follow a Fed Retrograde since that
would be engaging the Fed on his terms. The best thing to do
is just refuse to follow. I know of no rule against that.
This is the simplest way to beat the retrograde just refuse to follow.
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djdood
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Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 2925
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed.

In any "goal" oriented scenario, the retrograde is walking away from the goal.

It's almost more of a thought experiment than and actual apply-able tactic.

It's only "real" function would be for a fighting-retreat, making yourself so dangerous to pursue as to convince any opponent not out for blood to let you leave.

You can't "win" a fight *for* something with it as you are leaving the contested area by the very nature of the the retrograde. A colony or convoy to defend would be abandoned, etc. In a fleet matchup, (as pointed out above), the retrogradee surrenders the initiative and the opponent can just choose to not follow, and thus continue to hold the contested space.
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rulesjd
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 06 Feb 2007
Posts: 48
Location: seattle

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't played SFB in a few years (FC is my poison of choice now).

In any case, your original premise, an attack by gorn/romulans is one of the best uses for the retrograde. However, it also helps degrade drone effectiveness.

As far as following or not, you must remember that many scenarios do not have a closed map or even map limits. Therefore, there are situations in which the Fed formation has limitless room. Also, they can adopt an orbiting formation, if necessary, moving in reverse while keeping the enemy or an objective in the FA.

What the OP is really missing is a discussion of the proximity photon. This is a very efficient use of massed long range photons. So, a Fed fleet can assume long range (over 15) and fire half of their photon load as proximity shots every turn. The enemy has to either take this or pursue to shut it down.

Frankly, the retrograde seems boring as hell but, it arose, as many tactics did from players experimenting with "gamey" tactics. Your right that Klingons make this quite difficult, especially with DERFACS. However, the solution to Klingons is usually to charge anyway.
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mojo jojo
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Joined: 23 Jun 2009
Posts: 340

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even if the Feds use proximity torps and can maintain a long range, that just matches the average damage of a disrupter at 25 hexes. A prox photon averages 2 pts of damage every other turn while a disrupter averages 1 pt every turn at 25 hexes. A PH1 averages 1/2 pt at 25 hexes.

20 photons + 32 PH1 can either average 56/16 or 36/36 damage using prox torps (depending on whether they fire all at once or half per turn) at 25 hexes (much less against Orions). Any of the races I've mentioned can exceed that damage level at 1000 pts. For example, the Tholian or Lyran force with 28 disrupters and 48 ph1 would average 52 pts of damage every turn. The Feds will do significant internals half the time while the 1000 pt Tholians or Lyrans will do significant internals every turn. Plus the attacking force is durable with more ship hulls, more total shields, and more total internals.

I just don't see how a 739 pt force can beat a 1000 pt direct fire fleet as claimed by the scenario description, let alone a 3000 pt fleet under the wildest claims.
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rulesjd
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 06 Feb 2007
Posts: 48
Location: seattle

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we're talking apples and oranges.

My post was about the Kaufman Retrograde as a general tactic and not with regards a particular scenario. If you have two roughly balanced fleets, 1000 v. 1000, the retrograde is perfectly workable (if not particularly desirable).

If your comments are strictly limited to the constraints of a given scenario (and I haven't looked at this one in a looooong time) then you may have a point. However, it would hardly be the first time that an old SFB scenario were found not to be balanced.

So, if you argue that there is no way to reliably have 739 points of Feds beat 1000 points of any other force, I have no disagreement. If you argue that the retrograde tactic is unusable, well you'll just have to try it out.
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SWO_Daddy
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Joined: 14 Feb 2008
Posts: 195
Location: Stuttgart, Germany

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regard to the retrograde in general, keep in mind that it is not likely to come down to Ph-1 shots at long range. I'm no FC player, but in SFB, firing your phasers is one of the fastest ways to get your ships to slow down on subsequent turns.

Assuming the pursuit force is under some sort of pressure to run down the Feds (the only reason to climb uphill on the retrograde), neither side can really risk blasting away with Ph-1s every turn. If they do so, they risk one of three things:
- Slow down and offer the other side a chance to control the range.
- Leave phasers empty and hope you don't get caught with your pants down.
- In an EW-heavy environment, one side can find itself firing into shifts due to trading ECCM to fire phasers.

As for the specific scenario, the flavor of ships matter. The Fed CA's power curve dictates everything. 36 points of power... subtract 12 for HK and 4 prox torps loaded each turn, and the max speed of the ship is 24 without burning batteries. If the pursuing force is made up of D7s, with 39 power (max speed 27 while arming disr and not burning batteries), the Feds could be in trouble unless they do something more than simply back away. The Klingons will cover the distance from range 30 to range 15 (where disruptor magic happens) in five turns...so max 3 prox torp vollies. Assuming 5 cruisers, that's about 40 points of damage per salvo - Probably enough to knock down some shield and score light internals unless the Klinks just let them have a second shot on the same shield, but that's it.

There are obviously things the Feds can do to buy time, including scatterpacks and T-bomb fields to slow the Klingon approach (either directly by forcing manuever, or indirectly by forcing them to burn power). The real hope is the Feds can mitigate some of the disruptor shots through ECM use or spread the damage out over three shield - as has already been pointed out, disruptors and photons at range 30 pretty much do the same damage over the long term.

Of course this all changes if the ships are "less" than a D7. Some fleets don't have power curves like the Klingons, and fleet with smaller ships isn't going to be able to answer a Fed fleet that can fire from range 30. Under those conditions, the retrograde looks a lot better.

If I was playing a disruptor race like the Klingons or the Lyrans, and the Feds didn't have significant drones to throw in my face (example the CC+4xCA force), I'd strongly consider not arming disruptors on the obvious photon firing turns and going with high ECM instead. A D7 on 6 ECM, skipping disruptors, can run at speed 29...a speed-5 edge on the Fed CAs arming photons and backing away. If the Feds want to fire into a two shift, I'd say let them...they only get two shots before the I'd reach range 15 and go to work. Baring a lucky narrow salvo, the Klingons will cross the range before shields get penetrated.

I think the key to getting the retrograde to work is to use all the tools in SFB... EW, narrow salvos, drones, T-bombs, the kitchen sink, etc. Breaking "rythem" is extremely important...if either side becomes too predictable, it can become a pure firepower contest, something an inferior Fed force isn't going to win. Finally, I don't think you can become a slave to the retrograde (or any single tactic for that matter). One of the most important things to know is when to abandon it and try something else. A timely "sacrifice" that the enemy can't refuse or a decision to stop and reverse direction with WWs ready at the right time could buy a lot more than simply continuing to back away.
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mojo jojo
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 23 Jun 2009
Posts: 340

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rulesjd wrote:
So, if you argue that there is no way to reliably have 739 points of Feds beat 1000 points of any other force, I have no disagreement. If you argue that the retrograde tactic is unusable, well you'll just have to try it out.


That's what I'm confused about. The scenario description states that the Retrograde allows 1 CC and 4 CA to beat 1000 pt of attackers and possibly 3000 pts in the hands of an expert Fed player. I just don't see how that's possible. In the 3000 pt version, even Gorns and Romulans should easily crush a 739 pt Fed fleet.
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rulesjd
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 06 Feb 2007
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Location: seattle

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SWO_Daddy has the right analysis here. An experienced player using all of the bag of tricks EW, MRS shuttles, ECM drones, EM, T-Bombs, etc. may indeed defeat a larger force with the retrograde assuming the larger force is compelled to pursue.

However, even with the big bag of tricks, I think all but the most obtuse players would handle the Fed's nicely given a point advantage of 3,000 to 739.

Bear in mind that SFB evolved over the last 30 years and the original scenarios were playtested and commented on by relatively small numbers of players. All of them could easliy stand to be updated to reflect new races, weapons and tactical doctrines.
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Kenoscope
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Joined: 25 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:55 am    Post subject: Kaufman Retrograde Reply with quote

Way WAY back in the 90's, before Magic the Addiction killed local board games, I was four time challenged by Federation Players to play this scenario. the latter time with double BPV then quadruple BPV. In all cases, somewhere in the second turn all four Federation players surrendered the battle.

Why?

I was a dedicated Hydran player.
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