Sunday, April 27, 2014

5150 Figher Command: The Daedalus Campaign AAR 2

The Daedalus, after surviving a Hishen ambush coordinated by the betrayal of someone on board the Free Company Ship Smuggler, has jumped into the closest system to access the Quantum Communication Net only to discover that the planet is under seige by a Hishen Overseer cruiser!   
(The corvette from Scenario 1 has a chance of returning but failed to make an appearance this playthrough).

The Daedalus and Overseer start at Range 23 (technically the Overseer is a PEF but when Daedalus launches her fighters it immediately converts, so I didn't bother).  Both ships are at Speed 0 -- the Daedalus because she has just jumped in and the Overseer because it's at a Lagrange point..  Both accelerate to 1/3 Speed.

Both ships launch fighters successfully -- the Daedalus launch bay doors jam but the EXCELLENT FLIGHT CREW is able to force them open quickly.  (Would have only passed 1d6 without the excellent flight crew attribute).
The Hishen Overseer launches a flight (3 ships) of light Hellbat fighters and Medium Reaver fighters.

Daedalus launches:
Gargoyle flight - Gargoyle and Hunter - light Wasps
Maverick (Blue) flight - Maverick and Neutron - medium Dragonflies
Iceman (Green) flight - Iceman and Jeeter - medium Dragonflies

Initiative:  Star Navy - 4; Hishen 1  

Hunter taunts the Light fighter, trying to draw them out so they can be destroyed.  Silence in reply.  These guys are professionals.  Or so we think at first.  Then...
2 Hishen lights apply afterburner and move to withing visual of Gargoyle (Moving 15"!)  This was the stupidest thing they could have done as Gargoyle gets a free FF missile shot which  takes down the lead fighter's shields and obliterates the cockpit.  First kill (hmmm, need to keep track of my kills and put together a leaderboard!  Gargoyle +1)

The Reavers follow suit and one ends up within visual range of Hunter.   Another In-sight automatically won by Hunter (I do make him roll to make sure he gets at least one success) and Hunter blows the first Reaver to oblivion. (Hunter +1)

The Star Navy goes to active fire and clears the board with a volley of FF missiles:
Iceman - Reaver shield and cockpit.  The Pilot goes OOF.
Jeeter - Kills the second Reaver with doubles (Jeeter +1)
Maverick - Kills the remaining Hellbat in range with doubles (Maverick +1)
Neutron - Kills the Hellbat that Gargoyle hit earlier with a second cockpit hit.  Ouch!  (Neutron +1)

NOTE 1:  NONE of the Hishen managed to pass more than 1d6 on the Counter Measures test (partially due to the -1 to Rep since they were FF missiles).  Bad luck and it would be fun to replay this scenario and see what happens.

NOTE 2:  Somewhere in here the remaining Reaver got destroyed.  The exact details are lost in the fog of war.

SN: 5 Hish: 4
With local space superiority established, the high initiative roll by the SN doesn't hurt in the slightest.  The Ready fighters get ready to RTB (return to base) and Daedalus launches the bombers:
Angel flight (Basilisk is her wingman) and Ozone flight (wingman Porkins).

Both capital ships are now at Speed 1 and the range is closing -- range 21!  Next turn the capships will fire as both have Beam weapons.

(Whoops, forgot to take a final picture)
Doubles for activation!  Random event --- Maverick suffers a cockpit system failure!  hmm.  What exactly does this mean?  I decide this means an automatic Out of the Fight result as if he had passed 1d6 on the Recover from Knock Down table.  He has to roll each turn to see if he can get the systems back up (and does so succesfully the next turn, so there was little impact since there were no enemy fighters on the board at this point 

SN: 2 on the reroll
Hish: 4 on the reroll

Daedalus advances -- range 20 to the Overseer.  Cajun and Dagger launch in the heavy fighters just in case.

Hishen advances.  The Daedalus and Overseer both have Rep 5 so we roll off and the Hishen fires first.  It's a BVR (beyond visual range) shot, so apply a -1 to the shot.  The Overseer still gets 2 solid hits but no damage (Impact 1 gives only a 16% chance to damage).

Daedalus takes Received Fire and passes 2d6.  Change course and fire.  1 hit, no damage.  Overseer takes received fire and passes 0d6.  She goes to max speed.

Daedalus takes her active fire.  2 hits, no damage.  
Overseer fires in response and moves forward.  No damage.
Daedalus fires.  2 hits, 1 damage!  Overseer engine hit and she drops to Speed 1.
Overseer fires in reaction.  The capships are at range 14 now and with all the movement Daedalus is about to pass the bombers she launched 2 turns ago!  Rnage 14, so the Overseer's plasma guns kick in.  Hmmm, this is starting to look bad for Daedalus.  2 beams hit, 1 plasma.  No damage.  But worse -- the second plasma near misses and causes a shield check.  Luckily the shields hold as the Engine Crew on Daedalus is also Rep 5.
Daedalus fires in reaction.  This could go on all night.  At this point I realize the Overseer only has Medium Phase Shields - oops.  This does mean that it suffers 1 more damage -- Thrusters.
Overseer gets in a devastating salvo.  1 near miss from the Beam weapon takes the shields down for 2 turns.  This is followed by a plasma hit which automatically damages.  The Daedalus Bridge is hit and suffers -2 to rep.  I use Star Power to reduce the OOF to Stunned for the Captain.  

At this point I realize I am in imminennt danger of losing Daedalus.  I choose my reaction and stop firing at Overseer.  I send the bombers in.  The 2 flights launch at range 10.  I've really no idea how to do this -- do all 5 AA get to fire at each missile?  That's how I read it.  And then they roll impact to see if they kill it?  Again, that's how I play it.    

(NOTE for other players: I totally missed the rule on page 37 that says Torpedoes only target the Hull of a CapShip -- this would have changed the game substantially.  It also brings up another question -- is that only for FIGHTER launched torpedoes?  Because it is in the Fighters Firing at Capships section.   (Which is why I missed it.  For version 2 of the rules, this should probably be repeated in the torpedo section.  I'm working on a "cheat sheet" index card to help out with this for now)

Nevertheless, with torpedoes being difficult to hit and the low impact of AA guns, 2 still managed to get through.  This causes 2 damage.  (Which I now see should have killed the Overseer and ended the game. Oh, well.  We continue...)  I'm excited to roll doubles because that would blow up a fighter -- but then I see that cap ships relocate damage down one space on the track for sections hit twice.  The thrusters (initial roll) have already been hit, so that means one transfers to the Hangar Bay and the second transfers to Shields Down.  At least she's wounded.

SN: 3  Hish: 2 -- a critical win for the Star Navy here as the Hishen Overseer could have finished off Daedalus in her wounded state
I also realize here I should have fired HARMs first to take out the AA batteries...but no matter.  The Sabres carry 2 torpedoes each and another salvo resuults in two more hits to the Overseer.  Even Bracing for Impact can't help her now as the damage locations are 1 and 2 --- relocating them still results in a section that has already been damaged, which means both relocate to the Hull and the ship explodes before it has time to fire on Daedalus.  Phew!

After Battle Thoughts
This one was a grinder.  I was very satisfied with my inital response to the Hishen fighters and was planning to follow up with a second wave like the first.  But the Hishen afterburner into visual range made that totally unnecessary.  It was kind of sad watching them rush into the storm of missiles from the Ready fighters (my first launch -- it's SOP for my version of the Daedalus).  I can see creatiing a more sophisticated decision tree for the NP -- based on range and whether the ship has missiles.  It would make sense to afterburn into visual if you had no missiles -- but if you have FF missiles that is a total waste.  I actually like this idea and I think I will develop it further.  (I'm taking a class on neural networks so I'm thinking a lot about how to create "smart" systems.)

Back to the scenario -- the game length was about right.  It took a good 3 hours -- mostly because I felt like I was making a lot of mistakes.   For instance, after the Hishen fighter rush I looked at whether they should have used the "Defend" chart instead of "Attack".  I think they should -- they are trying to complete their objective of bombing the planet.  And then I wasn't sure about the movement when the cap ships started trading shots.

But overall I think the scenario worked well -- it was actually at my limit of keeping track of everything -- and the Daedalus suffered some serious damage which is going to hurt in the coming scenarios.  (I'll have to re-read the campaign rules - I'm not sure of the long term consequences of the Bridge hit) 

After Battle Questions
Should a solid hit also cause a Phase Shield check?   The absolute best result a capship could hope for would be for one of its first shots to only pass 1d6 so that the target has a chance to lose its shields.  I haven't done the math, but it actually looks like a lower rep is better because once shields are down a capship is going to take damage from every solid hit.  With a higher rep, you get more solid hits and never have a chance to take down the shields.   A Rep 5 ship and a Rep 3 ship would make a great Hunter-Killer team -- the Rep 3 brings down the shields and the Rep 5 pours on the damage.

Did I do afterburners right? Yes  Should the Hishen have had a chance to fire?  No  (From author)

Should the capital ships also move with every Change Course?  This got weird because my capship went from speed 1 per turn to moving over 10" in reaction (and passing up fighters it had just launched).  This is right, but you could also play it as you only move once. (from author)  I'm torn about this.  As the report shows, 2 high rep cap ships with Impact 1 weapons can fire at each other for a long time without ever causing damage.  On the other hand, it felt really wrong for my carrier to go racing across the board and blow past the fighter defence that I had set up to shield it.  I'm actually thinking the simplest solution would be to adopt the rule already in place for Fighters -- cap ships don't react to reactions, so you get one back-and-forth of movement and firing and stop. 

Do all ships take the afterburner test individually?  I think so, but that means that the NP is going to have a very hard time putting together an effective attack.   (Official response: 1 roll which is then applied to each fighter.   This makes more sense than rolling individually, but I need to think about it some more.  It can still lead high Rep fighters to go high-tailing off after the enemy while their wingmen lag behind -- and that is NOT how one gets to be high rep!)
I wanted to post a picture of me in my respirator preparing to go air-brushing, but it was just too creepy. So here instead is a picture of the fleet post-airbrushing and ready for weathering. I'll be using these for 5150: Fighter Command from Two Hour Wargames. (I'm play-testing the upcoming scenario pack).

I bought this air-brush 10 years ago just before a major life event made me carefully pack everything up. It felt really good to finally really have a chance to learn how to use it.

Oh! Also, these ships are mounted on my prototype ship stands from I'm VERY pleased with how these turned out and they were a godsend to do the airbrushing. I made a few minor changes, resized them for large and small ships and placed my order for 50. Assuming the mass print goes well, these will be for sale by the end of the month.