Archive for March, 2008

EA Turn 5-6 Retrospective: A Staff Meeting

Posted in A Call to Arms, A Call to Arms 1e, ACTA Campaign with tags , , , , on March 31, 2008 by redcoat668

SCENE: Conference room aboard the Orion-class station Victoria in orbit above Gustaviv’s Regret. Eight Earthforce officers are seated around an oval conference table set against a large picture window in which TF PEGASUS and its supply elements are framed holding station above the planet. Admiral redcoat668 activates a holotank which displays a rotating representation of the sector map.

redcoat668: All right, let’s hear it. (motions to his ADC)Petheridge?

PETHERIDGE: The last set of re-enforcements from Earth built us up to 12 ships of the line, plus capital-class support elements and full fighter complements. We’re officially back to where we were before Saguntum III and Caesar’s Folly.

General mutterings and unhappiness as this name is brought up.

redcoat668: I know…I know. That entire experience was pretty much crap, and it knocked us out of the game for about two months. Fortunately, while the rest of us were getting our butts lovingly spanked by the Centauri, General Yun’s exploration fleet was filling in our map of the sector. General?

YUN: We’ve added around eight new systems to the catalog, some of them with deposits of both germanium and Q-40. We’ve also established two jumpgates at Da’Valk and Tubanos. We’ve also got a bunch of random anomalies, ship graveyards and comets and whatnot.

PETHERIDGE: Commercial traffic is starting to flow through the gates and the Joint Chiefs sent us an entire battleship group to protect our new interests in the sector. May I introduce EAS Prospero, Morgana, and Maerlyn(the holotank image displays three Warlock-class destroyers)

EAS Prospero awaits sealer.

GENERAL CARRIERE: whistles. So they’re finally deploying the new Warlocks?

redcoat668: Just our “trial” battlegroup, and EAS Warlock herself which is staying in Earth orbit, firmly in the public eye while our three beauties undergo combat trials out here where nobody’s watching. I understand there’s some kind of stopgap “hybrid” ship program going on as well, but the President refuses to let those be deployed outside Alliance space.

general eye-rolling. GENERAL KAER suppresses the urge to make a wanking motion.

redcoat668: They’re just in time too, because our new Centauri “friends” are eager for us to begin joint offensive operations against the League.

KAER: And you told them that we’re not even close to being able to take on the League and their “Emperor,” and that even if we were we have a Presidential Order forbidding us from doing so, right?

redcoat668: I told them that we’d meet our treaty obligation to defend the Minbari, and that, gentlemen, is what I intend to do.

The holotank displays a map of the Minbari/League front:

The Minbar-League Front

redcoat668: We’re calling it Operation MARATHON. Essentially, we’re cutting down the Centauri front and repositioning to defend our new jumpgates and assist the Minbari before their crystal-waving and interpretive dance is erased from the sector by the Brakiri.

We’re going to concentrate at Moshelle, which, thanks to General Buechner is now squeaky clean and Raider-free. That way, we’ll be positioned to use either the Tubanos or Da’valk gate on the attack, and also to defend against nasty surprises coming out of either gate that the system defenses can’t handle.

CARRIERE: And if the Fanheads decide to break our agreement and roll up our systems?

redcoat668: I’m hoping that they’re going to be too occupied with the League to think about that for another couple of months. By then, hopefully, my request to the Joint Chiefs for additional fleets will have been answered.  We’ve got a sizable fleet at the treaty base in Caesar’s Folly, and Gustaviv’s Regret is only a jump away from Moshelle. Besides Emperor Cartagia and President Clark both have their signatures on that agreement, and we all know what that’s worth.

repressed snickers  

redcoat668: All right then…let’s get it done.

a scuffle is heard outside the room. suddenly the door bursts open and JULIE MUSANTE enters, followed by a sheepish-looking Earthforce marine with an SBS patch on his shoulder. 

MARINE: I’m sorry sir, she insisted on-

MUSANTE: (interrupting) Admiral this is the FOURTH time that you’ve held a staff meeting without informing me. Do I need to show you the Executive Order requiring a Political Officer to attend all such meetings yet again?

redcoat668: Hey now…let’s not get all crazy here. This isn’t actually a staff meeting…it’s more like an informal chat since I’ve got the privilege of having all my Task Force commanders in the same place for once. Look: we have donuts!

MUSANTE gives him a withering look and then stares significantly at the holotank which is still displaying the fleet deployments to Moshelle. The other officers try to look like they’re not paying attention.

MUSANTE: That had better be a defensive redeployment I’m looking at, Admiral.

redcoat668: Yes Ma’am, it is that thing.

MUSANTE: Good. Because I don’t want what happened before I arrived to happen again. You know…where you almost scuttled President Clark’s treaty with the Centauri…

YUN: (muttering) The one where we embarrassed ourselves by letting them pound the Narn back to the stone age with mass drivers?

MUSANTE: …with your completely unauthorized attack in Saguntum III.

redcoat668: Ms. Musante, I can assure you, on the life of the dog that regulations do not permit me to keep here, I am not planning ANY offensive action this month.

MUSANTE: Good. And next time you hold a staff meeting, Admiral, I’d better hear about it. (she leaves)

redcoat668: All right…donuts are gone, let’s get going.

the officers file out except for CARRIERE and KAER, who remain behind

redcoat668: Sometimes I actually envy Sheridan. Nothing to do but sit on Babylon 5, rake in the funds from commercial traffic, and complain about the government. No Nightwatch, no Executive Orders, and no effing Political Officers. Plus he did not-

CARRIERE: I know, I know…he did not sleep with that woman.

redcoat668: She was so much nicer before I did.

  

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Turn 6: War by Proxy

Posted in A Call to Arms, A Call to Arms 1e, ACTA Campaign on March 24, 2008 by redcoat668

Two great alliances of convenience have been formed out of the battles of the previous five turns:

  1. The Centauri Republic, its clients, the Narn Regime, and the Minbari Federation, and their ally the Earth Alliance.
  2. The League of Non-Aligned Worlds and their provisional member, the Tza’sol Narn.

Neither the League or the Centauri have a position to attack each other without a costly jumpgate battle, so both sides are building their forces and either attacking through their own client states, or attacking enemy client states. The winner of this round will have the advantageous position next turn when the two great empires strike at each other directly.

The Narn Regime started out the new round of operations by attacking the League staging point at Ope’diar, and moving to confront their breakaway cousins the Tza’sol Narn at Business Mission, whose own impending assault was disruped by the arrival of the fleets loyal to the Kha’ri. The Narn Regime fleet in Ope’diar was joined by a Minbari task force, eager to strike back against the League. The Centauri continued to hunt down the Tza’sol forces in Defiance, and the League moved to defend their own flavor of  Narn in Ancona. The Earth Alliance, meanwhile, positioned its fleets near its newly discovered jumpgates, ready to strike against its enemies when their forces had moved into position.

Click here for larger image

 Battles to be resolved this turn:

  • Business Mission (F11): Narn Regime/Tza’sol Narn
  • Ope’diar (C8): Narn Regime/League of Non-Aligned Worlds/Minbari Federation
  • Defiance (F8): Centauri/Tza’sol Narn (2 battles)
  • Ancona (G7): League of Non-Aligned Worlds/Narn Regime

The Battle for Defiance: Centauri vs Narn

Posted in A Call to Arms, A Call to Arms 1e, ACTA Battles, ACTA Campaign with tags , , , , on March 17, 2008 by redcoat668

Turn/Time: Turn 5/April, 2261

Scenario: Annihilation

Situation: In retribution for the Tza’sol Narn raid on Sparta Hill the previous month, Centauri Fleet Sector Command deploys two battleship squadrons and their supporting elements and a prototype Adira-class dreadnought to the Defiance system to “teach those primitives a sharp lesson.” They are met at the system’s jumpgate by a Narn border defense fleet, and a massive battle ensues as both sides attempt to destroy their most hated enemy.

Terrain: One density 10 asteroid field on the left corner of the southern table edge, and one small planetoid in the right corner of the southern table edge. The jumpgate was placed in the center of the Centauri deployment zone on the northern table edge.

ToE:

Centauri Republic:

  • 2x Octurion (HMS Jupiter Fulgur, Manlius Aquilius)
  • 3x Tertius (HMS Durus, Tarquinius, Petasus)
  • 1x Adira (HMS Ultor)
  • 2x Prefect (HMS Erastes, Camenae)
  • 4x Corvan (HMS Capua, Tusculum, Vesta, Divus)

The Centauri fleet in review formation

Tza’sol Narn:

  • 1x G’Karith
  • 1x Ka’toc
  • 1x T’loth
  • 1x Bin’tak
  • 1x G’quan
  • 1x Sho’kar
  • 2x Var’nic
  • 10x Dag’Kar

The Narn fleet, also on parade

Turn 1: As the jumpgate opened, the Centauri admiral brought the Adira prototype Ultor, a Corvan, and one Battleship group containing an Octurion, a Tertius, and a Prefect. The rest of his force remained in hyperspace in hopes that the heavy-hulled Centauri capital ships would be able to withstand the initial Narn defense fire. The Narn Admiral responded at a leisurely pace, moving his ships at combat speed rather than ordering All Power to Engines, and as a result ended the turn just out of firing range of the helpless Centauri (by only an inch in some cases).

The Narn fleet moves leisurely toward its doom

Turn 2: The Narn continued to bring their ships towards the Centauri battlegroup massed at the jumpgate, but were unable to bring the massive energy mine salvo they hoped to unleash into play. The Centauri brought in a second Battleship group (another Octurion, Tertius, and Prefect), and waited with cold smiles as the Narn entered range of their battle lasers.

Mr. Varus, don't fire till you see the red of their ridge crests...

Turn 3: With the Narn now in range of their main weapons, the Centauri unleashed their devastating front-arc firepower. Ultorcrippled the G’karith with a single salvo, and one Battleship group skewered a flanking Var’nic with three battle laser shots, destroying both its engines and fire control. The 10 Dag’kars fired off a massive salvo of energy mines, shipbreaker mines, and torpedoes, but the well-constructed hulls of the Centauri capital ships withstood every hit. The Petasus finished off the already burning G’karith and opened up a long rent in the T’loth’s Marine barracks, venting several platoons worth of Narn troops into space and crippling it.

Turn 4: By this time, the Narn jumpgate engineers were desperately trying to shut the gate down, but the Centauri were able to override the failsafe codes and keep it open. Jupiter Fulgur hammered the oncoming G’quan with its battle laser, and crippled a Dag’kar with a volley from its secondary weapons. The Prefect-class Camenae finished off the crippled T’loth, but at the same time the Dag’kars concentrated their fire on the massive Ultor. Again, the Centauri flagship weathered the storm of energy, but a lucky shot did send a gout of flame through the observation deck where a crowd of engineers, nobles, and Fleet officers were observing the Adira prototype’s first combat trial -incinerating both the assembled dignitaries and their complimentary buffet. Though the Ultor’s captain realized that his career was now essentially over, he directed his ship’s fire skillfully, destroying another Dag’kar, and putting a battle laser shot straight into the Bin’tak’s engine room. Now thoroughly established on the Defiance side of the jumpgate, the Centauri ships began to launch fighters and bring more Corvans through the open gate.

Turn 5: The Centauri fighters brushed aside the Narns’ light screen of Frazis with contemptuous ease and began attack runs on the capital ships. The Octurion-class Manlius Aquilius destroyed the Var’nic before her engineers could finish repairs, and another blew the Ka’toc apart with one front arc salvo. The remaining Narn Dag’kars hammered the Adira with shipbreakers, scoring only minor damage but destroying a Corvan (HMS Divus). In response, the Centauri capital ships added another Dag’kar and the Sho’kar to the casualty list and destroyed the Bin’tak with combined battle laser fire. As the Narn fleet reeled from these massive losses, the Centauri continued to launch more fighters into the fray.

A much-reduced Narn fleet does what it can

Turn 6: With the death of their Admiral, the remaining Narn knew they were doomed, but they threw themselves into battle with redoubled fury hoping to take at least one more Centauri with them. Unfortunately, they ran into a wall of fire from the Centauri fleet. Manlius Aquilius shredded the last Var’nic and the Tertius-class Durus from the same Battleship group sliced a Dag’kar in half. The resulting explosion wreaked havoc in the tightly-packed group of remaining Narn, crippling another Dag’kar which was in its turn finished off by the Ultor, its own death throes destroying yet another Dag’kar’s engines.

The Centauri circle the remains of the Narn fleet

Turn 7: At this point, all that remained was for the Centauri to finish off the remains of the once-proud Narn fleet. Erastesknocked out the helpless Dag’kar, and Manlius Aquilius destroyed the heavily-damaged G’quan. The Durus lined up on the last remaining ship, a Dag’kar, and ordered its captain to beg for his life. The Narn commander nobly refused, and the Centauri obligingly blew his ship into flinders.

All over but the cleaning up/atrocities

Aftermath: Two of the Centauri ships were ordered back to the Royal Court to recieve accolades for this great Centauri victory. With them went the disgraced captain of the Ultor, whom a court martial exonerated, but who found himself assigned to command a planetbound fighter garrison shortly thereafter. Emperor Cartagia ordered that all surviving members of the imprisoned Kha’ri be shown recordings of this battle while he mocked them unmercifully.

The Earth Alliance issued an official protest when gun-camera recordings of Centauri Sentri pilots using Narn lifepods for target practice were accidentally released, but took no further action apart from sending the Narn sector commander a Fruit n’ Flowers basket and an autographed photo of Molly Rome in commiseration.

Molly flew a Starfury at the Battle of the Line so she's been there.

Analysis: Did I mention it was tough fighting the Centauri in general and Rich in particular?

Nevertheless, the Narn admiral here made several critical mistakes which, while they probably did not alter the outcome of the battle, turned a mere defeat into a turkey shoot for the Centauri:

  1. Diluting his mine loadout. Had he gone with all basic mines (his original plan) or all shipbreakers, the Narn would have had a massive unified salvo. Instead, he got two groups with different ranges and capabilities, neither of which were enough to deal with the high hull-value Centauri ships.
  2. Relying too much on mines.this was a valuable tactic when fighting the low hull-value Drazi, but against the high hull-value Centauri the mines failed to do enough damage to properly soften them up.
  3. Failing to close on Turn 1. With the Centauri helpless from the jumpgate effects, there would never be another chance to cause so much damage unopposed.
  4. Failing to concentrate fire. Concentration of fire is key, especially against larger ships with high hull values and lots of damage capacity.

That said, Rich showed his general propensity to roll consistent double digit damage while his opponent was lucky to score more than 5 in a single hit.