Wednesday, May 2, 2018

SFB AAR 7-1: Collateral Damage

This massive battle was the culmination of seven turns of maneuver and skirmish, setting up the largest star Fleet Battles game that we had ever played against each other (in 38 years o play).  My combined Lyran/Klingon force consisted of 59 vessels facing 56 Kzinti warships.

Prior to the start, my expectation was that the battle would likely only last a turn, with whichever side finding themselves at a disadvantage at the end of the first turn, likely breaking contact and disengaging.  From the Lyran perspective, it was imperative to inflict as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible, without too much concern for losses, as long as an advantage could be achieved.

The Kzinti setup in roughly the center of our table, a screening force of battlecruisers in the lead, followed by two groups of carriers and escorts in side by side wedges. The entire group was tractoring fighters, such that more than a hundred of them would be available at the required time.  It was a very threatening site.

My forces were split into two groups, based on point of entry into the strategic hex.  A combined Lyran/Klingon force of 31 ships to the front of the Kzinti, and a smaller, and much lighter force of  28 ships on the Kzinti Left flank.

Early in the first turn.  The Kzinti (top center) have already started their
right turn towards the Lyran "flanking force" (left).  The combined
Lyran/Klingon force (lower right) never gets into the fray. 

At the time of initial setup, I envisioned that my mixed force would take a pounding, and feared that the flanking force would not close rapidly enough to have significant impact on the battle.

In the early impulses of the first turn, the Kzinti force turned sharply to the right to face my smaller force, leaving me to believe that my original assessment would still hold true, but with the role of my two forces reversed, and probably with even more favorable results for the Kzinti forces.

Each of my forces were deployed with a screen of lighter ships spaced two to three hexes apart and three to four lines deep, in an effort to maximize drone and fighter interception.  The Kzinti had at least 128 fighters and the capability to fire over 300 drones per turn. Larger Lyran ships followed the screen in three or more rows, but with spacing of one or two hexes, with generally the rearmost ships having more than one ship per hex.  This was in sharp contrast to the Kzinti formation, that featured four or five ships per hex, all more tightly packed than mine.

Through the first half of the first turn, the game progressed more or less as I had anticipated, and to be honest, did not look good for me.  My only saving grace to this point, was that after the turn, the Kzinti forces were awkwardly positioned, with their lethal force of 15 battle cruisers were at the farthest range from my forces.

As the fleets closed, I started losing screening ships at the rate of one every 1 to 2 impulses, each screening ship focusing their fire on a single, specific, Kzinti light cruiser, and deploying as many transporter bombs ahead of the enemy as possible as soon as their shields were breached.

Finally, after loosing about 5 ships, all police corvettes and frigates, I compounded enough fire to destroy an enemy CL, the explosion of which, caused shield damage to a number of Kzinti ships and destroyed a few of the drones which were starting to be launched.

My screening force largely vaporized, this is around the time that the
first Kzinti Cl was destroyed.  The Kzinti BCs are spread out toward the lower
right of the photo, the CVs and escorts more congested at the upper right.

By the time I destroyed a second CL, I had lost about 8 ships, and was becoming concerned. I had deployed a number of transporter bombs, and nothing larger than a DD had been lost, but the situation looked to only get worse, as the Kzinti would soon be in range to start picking on my bigger boats with their biggerer boats.

A couple of Lyran CLs were now in range as the Kzinti closed and started to hit the transporter bombs.  My CLs would be lost, but would take another Kzinti CL with them, and reach a turning point in the battle.  At this point the explosions of the Kzinti CL s began to breech the shields of a number of the Kzinti frigates in the group, which began taking internal damage.

With the passing of each impulse, more heavier Lyran ships came into range, and combined with the damage of transporter bombs, began to cause serious damage to Kzinti ships.  Each impulse another Kzinti frigate was destroyed, causing collateral damage on many of the tightly packed ships.

Kzinti maneuver was hampered by the transporter bombs, but finally the Kzinti made a hard right turn to move out of the exchange.  Regardless of which way they turned, a number of frigates would expose their destroyed side shields to several Lyran CEs, CAs, and a couple of heavier ships.

Shortly after having turn away from the Lyrans, Kzinti ships
start to go off like popcorn.

On the next impulse three more frigates exploded, taxing the shields of CVs, DNS, and other Kzinti heavy ships, and an impulse later, three more frigates were gone, breaching many shields on heavier ships.  The exploding frigates caused other frigates to explode, in turn causing more collateral damage to the bigger ships, which also started exploding like kernels of popcorn in a galactic microwave oven.

In the span of a single turn, 38 Kzinti ships were destroyed, for the loss of 11 Lyran,  even before the situation got ugly, the Kzinti player recognized the problem, but the large number of tightly packed ships, and placement of the transporter bombs gave them no out.

Had this been a more typical battle with 15-30 ships per side, it would have turned out very differently, the heavy ships would not have been at risk, and could have continued to methodically smash my Lyrans, probably erasing the Lyran force at a cost of maybe a dozen ships.  It was a very interesting game, that neither of us anticipated, despite the hundreds of SFB games that we have played over the years.

Losses were as follows:

4x Pol
2x FF
2x DD
1x DW
2x CL

2x DN
4x CV
1x CVT
2x TT (possibly CVT or BT)
2x CVL
4x CVE
4x CC
3x CL
3x DF
4x FF
9x EFF
4x LF
3x SF
3x L Q-ship (I think)

The implications of this battle are huge. The Kzinti have meager forces with which to stop the Klingon invasion of their space, their invasion of Lyran space is no longer a significant threat, and their surviving forces are cut off and need to contact and be resupplied by the invading Hydrans to avoid being dead in the water in two more turns.

The Lyrans are still in hot water though, as they are out-numbered and out-classed by the invading Hydran force, and will have to fight tenaciously, to wear down the Hydrans.  

The Klingons are in the best position to benefit at the moment, with Kzinti space almost up for grabs, and the potential of the Hydrans and Lyrans wearing each other down, possibly freeing up more space for the taking. 


  1. Look at that Kzinti casualty list! Ouch!

    What would you have done if the roles were reversed? Massing your ships to punish the smaller of two opposing forces seems like a valid tactic...

    With over 100 ships in play (and so many drone launchers and carriers!), did this take a long time to play out, or were you using some sort of faster resolution than normal SFB?

  2. His ships were at speed 20, the same as the drones, which meant his drones couldn't get in front of his ships for the most part.

    I probably would have had a fleet speed of somewhere around 12-15. Let the drones get out in front a little, maybe in two or three volleys a couple of impulses apart. I would have screened with probably six FFs, about 3 hexes ahead of the main line of BCs and escorts with cvs and tugs a little behind. Probably would have had one hex spacing between stacks of three ships.

    Drones would tie up Lyran screening ships, lead FFs could plow mines, and bigger boats would do the hammering.

    I would have been about twice as spread out , which would have reduced my fire concentration, but also the collateral damage affect, wouldn't have made the turn at the slower speed, engaged the combined group and pealed off to the left as the ships fired.

    Second turn would have been to fire a volley of drones and go high speed off the map.

    I would have aimed for a 3 to 2 exchange rate or better, hoping to kill about half of the combined force, and broke off the engagement if any sort of surprise occurred, as my main objective would have been a planet on the next turn.

    I still think that I would have been surprised by the callateral damage thing, but could have stopped it at around maybe a half dozen ships.

    It took about an hour to do SSDs before starting on the board, and just over 6 hours to play the turn. Played the normal rules from the Commanders edition books for the most part. Drones are gone on phaser hits of 3 or 4 points, and fighters were gone on over half their total number of hits. That was about the only changes to normal rules that came into play.

    1. Oh, and we used the old code red damage allocation cards... a lot!! (lol)

    2. It seems like that the Kzinti should have gone with a couple waves of drones and fighters, rather than screaming and leaping!

      And six hours for _a_ turn!

  3. Yeah, only one, but we had maybe 22 impulses of firing, so there was a lot going on.

    In our previous games, I've been maintaining fleet speeds of 20-22, which has radically limited the utility of his fighters and drones. He clearly was trying different tactics, just ended up being the wrong game for what he did.