Some of you with long memories might remember a game of Full Thrust in which a Klingon fleet investigated a secret Romulan research base: here. This game was played 2 years ago, almost to the day and I thought that it was high time we gave the Klingon fleet another chance (it was hammered in the previous game).
However, rather than replay the game exactly as we did in 2014, I thought that I'd change the scenario around a bit. Rather than having a small Romulan force already on table, we'd have a much larger Romulan fleet arriving slowly over time. This would give the Klingons an advantage early on, but they'd have to move quickly to achieve their objectives or risk being overwhelmed later on. Additionally, I thought that this would be an excellent testbed for my half-baked revision of the Full Thrust boarding rules. The original rules for marines are extremely basic; it has long been an intention of mine to experiment with something slightly more detailed.
So, the Klingons have to raid the planetary research base, steal whatever data, materials and personnel (scientists, technicians) they can and then make their escape before the ever-escalating Romulan response becomes too much for them. Sounds simple, right?
Well, standard boarding (using transporters, short range pods or similar) in Full Thrust requires the attacker and the defender to match both speed and heading (to within 1 point of each) and to be within a fairly short distance (6mu, from memory). This is so difficult to achieve as to be effectively impossible if the target is mobile; it's hard enough even when the defender is a stationary planet!
To overcome this difficulty and give them a reasonable chance of success, the Klingons have been given a fast attack transport equipped with assault shuttles capable of ferrying a generous complement of marines. These assault shuttles are detailed in the Full Thrust: Continuum supplement, though I've modified some of the rules for their use here.
- Ragnarok: assault transport/commando carrier.
- Relentless: battle cruiser
- Valhalla: heavy cruiser
- Warrior and Victory: frigates
This adds up to around 800NPV, excluding the assault transport (which the Klingons get for free). The Relentless and Valhalla are capable, fast ships though the frigates are pretty useless.
- Farside Base: military research station. The "secret weapon" developed by this base is a reflex field, as detailed in the Full Thrust rules. As well as the weapon, the base has 2 "P" passenger/living quarters for the research scientists & technicians and 4 "H" holds for their materials, workshops, computer banks and data archives.
- Consul: battle cruiser
- Dragon: heavy cruiser
- Decurion: light cruiser
- Lorica and Pilum: destroyers
The Romulans have about 1200NPV of ships (plus the base, which is free). They outgun the attackers by about 3:2, though this is tempered by the fact that their ships arrive piecemeal and over a number of turns. Fortunately, all the Romulan ships have cloaking devices and so early arrivals can hide until the fleet is ready, rather than risk being annihilated one-at-a-time.
The Klingons must capture the base and carry off research material. There are a maximum possible of 7 points worth of such loot: 1 for parts from the reflex field generator, 2 from the "P" crew quarters and 4 from the "H" laboratories and stores. Loot can only be captured if the system hasn't already been destroyed in the fighting!
Each point of loot is a full assault shuttle load or it can be transported as per the standard Full Thrust rules. It must be taken to a warp-capable ship which must then escape in order for it to be counted.
Obviously the scale of victory is from 0 (the Klingons fail completely) to 7 (total Klingon success; every loot point retrieved). All else, including casualties, is really secondary to this!
- The Klingon fleet is placed 48mu (4') away from the planet (i.e. outside of weapons range) at any speed and heading desired by their commander. We used a 6'x4' table; the Klingons were allocated one of the short table edges as their deployment zone.
- The Romulan fleet is divided into 5 groups as evenly as possible and each is assigned a unique number from 1..6 . Note that since their are 5 ships and 6 groups, one of the groups will be empty.
- At the start of each of the first 6 turns, the Romulan player rolls a single dice and receives the group with that number as the turn's reinforcements. If the group has already been used as a reinforcement then the player re-rolls until an available group is received.
- Once the reinforcement group is known, the Romulan player rolls for its entry point. This should be the centre of one of the 3 "non-Klingon" table edges. On arrival, reinforcements may have any desired initial speed; their heading is directly towards the table centre.
- If the reinforcement ship is to remain cloaked (including the group without any ship in it) then a suitable blip should be placed at the entry point and the Romulan must write orders for as many turns ahead as the ship will remain cloaked, as per the standard Full Thrust rules.
The Klingon player may know that "group 4" has arrived, but will not know the composition of group 4 until it uncloaks. Obviously, for the empty group any such orders will be a blind since in all likelihood it will never uncloak.
- Otherwise, if the reinforcement is to be uncloaked then the model should be placed directly at the entry point.
On average, Romulan forces on the table will have achieved parity with the Klingons by turn 4, but they might be lucky and receive heavy units early or they might be unlucky and only get small ships by then. The Klingon will have to guess when (and where!) the Romulans will appear, whilst the Romulans will have to plan for the uncertain location and timing of their reinforcements. Should they try for an all-out uncloaking & assault for turn 5 (say), or is it worth having a smaller number of ships uncloak earlier?
- Unlike in the Full Thrust: Continuum rules, my assault shuttle can be reused - if they survive! They can therefore be used to lift off marines as well as captured loot after an assault.
- Each assault shuttle can carry 1 marine or 1 unit of loot (captured personnel, secret parts, data crystals or whatever).
- When making an attack, the shuttle squadron(s) are moved into contact with the target. The defenders may fire point defenses and class-1 beams as normal.
- Shuttle which survive point defense fire make a combat landing on the target. This is a dangerous manoeuvre, so a dice is thrown for each shuttle: any score of 1 or less and the shuttle plus anything it was carrying is destroyed. Modifiers: take the thrust rating of the target away from the roll [note that this makes assaulting anything other than the slowest freighter or static base a very risky plan].
- Once an assault shuttle has landed on the target, any marines it is carrying will disembark and fight the defenders.
- If a ship or base takes a threshold check whilst hostile shuttles and/or marines are present then make rolls for each of these as well as for the defending ship or base's systems. Firing on a ship that has an internal battle going on is just as likely to hurt the invaders as it is to hurt the defenders!
- Once per round, during the final phase (just before making threshold checks), all marines will fire at any enemies who are within the same ship or base. To resolve this, roll 1 die for each marine and calculate the number of casualties as if a beam-1 was being fired at a level-1 screen. In other words, a roll of '5' causes 1 casualty, whereas a roll of '6' causes 2 casualties and a re-roll.
- As an extra rule, not needed for this scenario: if firing on lighter forces (such as civilian freighter crews) then treat them as an unscreened target. If firing on better trained and equipped troops (for example, regular army in armoured battle suits) then treat them as a target with screen-2.
- Re-rolls don't count as penetrating in the same way as beam fire against a ship, so the target's "screen" class remains the same. However, if any further enemy squad is hit on a re-roll then the ship or base takes 1 hull point of damage as well. Note that the re-rolls should be made even if all enemy squads have been eliminated, just in case such structural damage is caused!
- Whilst an assault is in progress, the defenders still control all systems on the ship or base. The fighting occurs around the perimeter, not on the bridge!
- If at any time all the defenders are eliminated and at least some attackers remain then the base or ship has been captured. Generally speaking, weapons, propulsion and other systems will be unusable by either side from that point on in the game (the defenders may have sabotaged them or installed lockouts, the controls could have been too badly damaged in the firefight, or perhaps enemy systems are just too alien to operate in the heat of battle). Specific scenario rules may sometimes override this.
Coming soon in part 2: how our game played out => HERE!