It's been over 6 months since I last posted a Full Thrust battle report, if I've calculated correctly. Games (of anything) have been hard to arrange since the club shut down early this year. However, yesterday afternoon my sons and I played a short, sharp little action. Here's how it went...
A Klingon flotilla is refuelling at a small space station near to the Cepheus Rift. They've been tasked with anti-piracy patrols; the Klingons have already disrupted an Orion operation at an abandoned starbase, but these criminals don't give up easily.
As the Klingon commander contemplates how he will conduct this campaign, alarms go off! Unidentified vessels have warped in, perilously close to his warships. Immediately after this, all systems on the Klingon vessels suddenly malfunction and go off line. It seems that a computer virus has been smuggled onto the imperial warships and has been triggered by the new arrivals. The hunters have just become the hunted!
- The defending Klingons have a fleet of 800 NPV value. They also have an unarmed refuelling station of 400 NPV; this is placed in the middle of the playing area. All ships are stationary and are deployed within 6" of the station.
- The Orion attackers have 500 NPV to build their fleet. Their ships arrive at the start of turn 1, 24" from the space station in any direction they choose. Initial speed is 6.
|The Klingon flotilla at anchor around the refuelling satellite. From the top left, clockwise: Asgard (heavy cruiser), Conquest (frigate), Ragnarok (heavy cruiser) and Warrior (frigate).
The Klingon fleet has been caught napping! Their ships are completely disabled by a computer virus and it will take some time for their experts to restore them to full working order.
Every turn, after writing orders, each Klingon ship (and the space station) rolls 1 dice and adds the result to its running total for "preparedness". The ship can only operate systems when the total value reaches certain numbers:
- Preparedness 0 [all ships start the game at this]: the ship may not move or fire weapons. Defensive systems such as screens and point defence do not work. In fact, no systems at all will function!
- Preparedness 6+: Defensive systems such as point defence and screens operate as normal. Thrust is available, but only at 50% of normal levels.
- Preparedness 12+: All systems work as normal, with no restrictions.
So, it is theoretically possible for a Klingon ship to be restored to fully operational status within 2 turns, but the average will be around 4 turns. To counter this, the Orions have a much smaller fleet. Can the attacking pirates kill half of the Klingon fleet within 3 turns? If they fail to do this then they'll be out-gunned by some very angry warriors!
|The Orions attack! From left to right: Pegasus (light cruiser), Etna (heavy cruiser), Buccaneer (corvette)
Right from the start, the 3 Orion ships accelerated towards the helpless Klingons. They opened fire at medium range, inflicting moderate damage on one of the enemy cruisers and severe damage to the nearer Klingon frigate.
To add insult to injury, we threw for a "non-critical hit" for the damaged frigate. She took two such hits and lost not only her video arcade but also the captain's prized collection of stuffed tribbles. What a disaster! The game had to be suspended for a few moments to allow the players to regain their composure...
In turn 2, the Orion ships advanced again at speed 10 or thereabouts. Weapons were much more effective at this range and the Klingon cruiser Ragnarok was lashed with phasers. The crippled frigate Warrior was finished off, though the sheer bulk of the space station absorbed all of the light cruiser's firepower without showing many signs of damage.
The Orion ships continued to approach; the lighter ships slowed as they approached the starbase, whilst the heavy cruiser went wide. By now, some of the Klingon ships had started to move, though the cruiser Asgard was still completely silent [she had thrown a 1, 1, 2 for the first 3 turns and therefore had a total of only 4 preparedness points. No doubt her captain was ranting at his technical and security officers as they completely failed to bypass the computer virus that was disabling his ship].
In a surprise move, the Klingon frigate Conquest brought weapons online and targeted the Buccaneer. The Orion corvette suffered crippling damage, with her bridge smashed, captain dead and a warp core breach. From now on, the tiny ship played no part in the battle; she coasted along, out of control, whilst engineers desperately tried to prevent an internal explosion.
Retribution was swift, though: the light cruiser Pegasus smashed the Klingon frigate with an overwhelming volley that tore the vessel apart. On the flank, the Etna continued to pound the Ragnarok, knocking out several of her weapons.
In turn 4, the Orions surprised the Klingon commander by playing an event card: "The engines willnae stand it!" [we were using my Full Thrust Event cards]. The heavy cruiser Etna executed a high speed turn, coming round into just the right position to fire on the refuelling base [though I do have to admit that my heart was in my mouth as I rolled to see if a breakdown would occur - it didn't!].
Due in part to poor communication and the inexperience of the junior cruiser captain, both Orion captains fired on the station instead of either Klingon cruiser. Whilst the heavily damaged Ragnarok was probably easy prey and could be left for later, the Asgard was finally showing signs of getting her act together. The undamaged Klingon cruiser restored partial mobility this turn [finally!], though she still had no operational weapons.
Despite receiving the full firepower of 2 cruisers at point blank range, the stations shields served her well and the damage inflicted was not particularly serious. [At this point, as the Orion commander, I began to wish that my ships were fitted with some torpedoes instead of phasers alone. The beam weapons were just not effective enough against a large, fully-screened target!]
ThePegasus overshot the station in a way that left her weapons unable to bear on most of the enemy forces. Between them, the 2 Orion cruisers finally demolished the reeling Ragnarok, just as the other, undamaged Klingon cruiser's weapons became operational.
At this point, I decided that it was time to leave. As the Orions, we had destroyed a heavy cruiser and 2 frigates in return for the loss of a single corvette [technically, the Buccaneer wasn't yet lost, but given the severity of her damage it would have taken a miracle to save her]. We could have turned to make another pass at the remaining Klingon vessel, but she was quite a bit larger than either of the pirate cruisers and our current positioning would have meant coming at her one-at-a-time. This didn't sound like a recipe for success...
The 2 Orion cruisers both accelerated at best speed, just heading for the exits. Although the Etna was clearly going to get away easily, the Pegasus was still in the firing line for a turn or two.
The Asgard contemptuously ignored the crippled Orion corvette [which promptly blew up anyway] and leaped in pursuit of the small cruiser. Although she was coming from a standing start, the big Klingon ship was very quick [thrust 6!]. Even so, I thought that the Pegasus was safe enough - until the pursuer fired 2 disruptor bolts and scored 2 direct hits! Pegasus staggered and reeled under the impact, but kept on going.
The Asgard accelerated hard, though the Pegasus was still travelling faster and opening the range. When the Orion ship was within a couple of inches of safety [i.e. the table edge], the Klingon fired again: 2 disruptors - 2 hits! The bolts cut through the Pegasus's screens as if they weren't there and tore the Orion ship apart.
Those big Klingon cruisers and the station just kept soaking up the damage, even when their shields weren't operating! I thought that the Etna [in particular] was very well armed, but it was all she could do to kill the Ragnarok over about 4 turns.
The Asgard had the most appalling luck early in the game when trying to fix the ravages of the surprise computer virus. In the long run, this probably saved her though: the Orion captains didn't see her as a threat and instead concentrated on targets that were shooting back, or were just about to do so. The last Klingon warship definitely redeemed herself at the end, though - her gunnery was nothing short of scarily accurate!
So, who won? At the point where I decided to retreat, the Orions were definitely ahead. However, the loss of their light cruiser makes this less clear cut. The final tally is thus:
- Ragnarok (CA): Destroyed
- Asgard (CA): Undamaged
- Conquest (FG): Destroyed
- Warrior (FG): Destroyed
- Refuelling Station: Moderate damage
- Etna (CA): Undamaged
- Pegasus (CL): Destroyed
- Buccaneer (CT): Destroyed
Whilst the Orions wiped out more material than they lost, a pirate force cannot afford to trade ships with an imperial navy, even at a 2:1 rate. They also failed to destroy or cripple the starbase. Overall, I think I'd give them a Pyrrhic victory - it's good propaganda and will safeguard their operations for a little while, but they won't win the war with escapades like this!