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Darkstar Live Game – Orbital Installations, Troop Ships, Boarding Actions!

Darkstar Live Game – Orbital Installations, Troop Ships, Boarding Actions!

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Project Blog by oriskany

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About the Project

The year is 2512.

The powers that remain on an ecologically-devastated and plague-ravaged Earth have been forced to look to the stars for the resources, capital, and room not only to expand, but to survive. While the setbacks encountered by mankind over the past 500 years have forced him to unite in a shaky global coalition and make fantastic strides in technology, they have also caused seismic and reactionary shifts in religion, culture, and politics. A second age of imperialism has dawned, and because man would never survive another war on the fragile remains of planet Earth, he is forced to ply his oldest trade ... war ... exclusively among the stars.

Darkstar is a tactical war game postulating naval combat in a “science faction” universe set five centuries into a troubled and uncertain future. Players take command of warships serving in the new “black water” navies of reborn empires of old, struggling for control of shipping lanes, resources, and colonies. Ships maneuver and fire in fast-paced combat, with survival not only of the players’ fleets at stake, but perhaps their nation and all of humanity as well.

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Darkstar Scenario Construction

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
3 Comments

Getting ready for a live web game of Darkstar tomorrow.

August 3, 2519:

Scenario:  Xi Boötis is a Second-Band star system about 22 light years from Sol, currently hotly contested between the United Kingdom and the Holy Russian Empire.  In this star system, the British have key military, industrial, and economic installations orbiting the moons of three of the outer gas giants.  One of these orbital platforms, Ravenwood Station, is in trouble.

Sensors on Ravenwood Station have detected an incoming gravimetric ripple, the tell-tale sign of ships in a Darkstar Wave.  The speed of the wave clearly indicates warships.  The amplitude of the wave indicates at least a cruiser strike force.  Yet although the wave is too fast for civilian traffic, it’s not fast enough for just a Russian cruiser raiding force.  The incoming warships are only doing a 9th-magnitude wave, about 150 c.

This probably means troop ships.  The Russians are coming to Ravenwood Station to stay.

Sure enough, as the Russians drop out of their Darkstar Wave and begin to decelerate to attack speed, British sensors identify the threat.  This is the battle-hardened Lazarev cruiser squadron (reinforced) under Captain Piotr F. Myshaga, a bloody-pawed bear with a plasma-scorched record extending back to the Psi Serpentis Wars of 2512.  The last ship in his battle line is perhaps the most chilling … the Zhukov-class assault destroyer Katukov.  Small and practically unarmed, she instead carries almost 200 elite Russian zero-g assault troops.  The Russians mean to take Ravenwood Station.

The only British force that is both powerful enough to match the Lazarev squadron and fast enough to make the intercept this far out in the Xi Boötis system is the Bellerophon battlegroup.  Accelerating to short, slow (but thereby hyperaccurate) intrasystem Darkstar wave, the Bellerophon and her escorts drop out of FTL just a few thousand kilometers from this moon and Ravenwood Station.  The Russians are already on their approach.

General Quarters!

Full MapsheetFull Mapsheet
Matchup of the approaching forces. The British have the heavier guns, especially aboard HMS Bellerophon and the installation itself.  But the Russians are much faster and more numerous.  CPK Katukov is the troop ship, carrying six assault boats and 168 shock troops.  If she manages to dock with Ravenwood Station ...Matchup of the approaching forces. The British have the heavier guns, especially aboard HMS Bellerophon and the installation itself. But the Russians are much faster and more numerous. CPK Katukov is the troop ship, carrying six assault boats and 168 shock troops. If she manages to dock with Ravenwood Station ...
Xi Boötis is where the battle is taking place. Xi Boötis is where the battle is taking place.
Some of the rarely-used charts to resolve boarding actions, the firefights that may be taking place while the naval battle is still ongoing.Some of the rarely-used charts to resolve boarding actions, the firefights that may be taking place while the naval battle is still ongoing.
The station sheet and the sheet for CPK Katukov, a modified Zhukov class assault destroyer (troop ship).The station sheet and the sheet for CPK Katukov, a modified Zhukov class assault destroyer (troop ship).

Darkstar Battle Report - Four-Way Cruiser Clash!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
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All right, it’s that time, everyone … Yesterday I had a great game of Darkstar with @damon and @rasmus.  Damon had his Bellerophon task force with one of my American ships in support (Valcour-class destroyer USS Princeton) and Rasmus had his Japanese task force with one of my Russian ships in support (Sovnya class destroyer CPK Syekyra).

Just for fun, and just because we were playing this on the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I put Earth’s moon on the table, along with three orbiting cities named for the Apollo 11 astronauts.  Of course, in Darkstar canon this would be absolutely prohibited, anyone who so much as uses harsh language in what is called “the Lunar Sphere” – a sphere described by the orbit of the moon – is dealt with (i.e., exterminated) by UN and their fleet Jerusalem class super-battleships.  Trust me, ONE of those can sink a fleet, four or five of them can crush a navy.  This was written into the lore just so nations of Earth have to engage in interplanetary or interstellar combat, and not settle their grudges on the battlefields of Earth (it’s a SPACE game, after all).

Anyway, the Japanese have the Katana class heavy cruiser Kama, a real beast.  Sleek, fast, high-tech and fragile, the Sendai-Byo (the original Sendai lost in the Xi Scorpio War of 2516-18).  Two Akashi class strike frigates round out the Japanese force, along with the aforementioned Russian allies.

The British have the high-tech “raider” Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser HMS Bellerophon – fast, nimble (for a heavy cruiser) but less punchy than the Kama.  The venerable Indomitable class light cruiser HMS Indefatigable runs alongside (old and creaky, but her crew are some of the best gunners in the fleet), along with the high-tech Falklands class destroyer HMS Terpsichore.  Hoping to help out are the Americans in the aforementioned USS Princeton.

Simple smash-em-up game, with “assault” victory conditions (points left ON the table at the end Turn 8).

So here’s the initial approach.  In the “age of sail”  they had the weather gauge or the wind gauge … here in Darkstar you have the “gravity gauge” … which Damon seems to have seized right off the bat by cutting a course toward the moon (which is to scale with the hex grid, 180 km per hex – the ships are of course oversized, but they are moving at 3 kilometers per second per hex per turn).  Note that as Rasmus turns to engage, he will have to point his ships TOWARD the moon, never a good thing in this game (bad time to be hit and lose power).  Damon will also be able to pull up away from the moon, using the planet’s gravity to help decelerate to acceptable attack speeds once he’s made a higher-speed closing approach.    So here’s the initial approach. In the “age of sail” they had the weather gauge or the wind gauge … here in Darkstar you have the “gravity gauge” … which Damon seems to have seized right off the bat by cutting a course toward the moon (which is to scale with the hex grid, 180 km per hex – the ships are of course oversized, but they are moving at 3 kilometers per second per hex per turn). Note that as Rasmus turns to engage, he will have to point his ships TOWARD the moon, never a good thing in this game (bad time to be hit and lose power). Damon will also be able to pull up away from the moon, using the planet’s gravity to help decelerate to acceptable attack speeds once he’s made a higher-speed closing approach.
Damon doesn’t get lucky with initiative, however.  Even as he turns away from the moon, the Japanese are able to avoid the worst of his broadsides.  Rasmus divides his force into two battle groups, the cruisers handing back to provide long-range gunfire support (Japanese warships are ridiculously accurate with high-grade CIC / targeting systems), while the smaller, plasma-accelerator heavy Russian destroyer and Akashi strike frigates dive in close for shorter-range fire.  HMS Terpsichore takes the worst of it at first, while the Akashi class strike frigate IJN Sakito is hammered in turn.  Both sides have also launched formidable torpedo spreads, although the Japanese and Russian torpedoes are far scarier than the handful launched by the Princeton (none of the British ship carry torpedoes). Damon doesn’t get lucky with initiative, however. Even as he turns away from the moon, the Japanese are able to avoid the worst of his broadsides. Rasmus divides his force into two battle groups, the cruisers handing back to provide long-range gunfire support (Japanese warships are ridiculously accurate with high-grade CIC / targeting systems), while the smaller, plasma-accelerator heavy Russian destroyer and Akashi strike frigates dive in close for shorter-range fire. HMS Terpsichore takes the worst of it at first, while the Akashi class strike frigate IJN Sakito is hammered in turn. Both sides have also launched formidable torpedo spreads, although the Japanese and Russian torpedoes are far scarier than the handful launched by the Princeton (none of the British ship carry torpedoes).
Things get crazy.  Whereas many Darkstar games are borderline Napoleonic with linear fleet tactics and well-ordered task forces keeping tight formation … this one devolves into a dogfight, a brawl, a knife-fight across 5400 kilometers of open space.  The only attempt at order is by Damon, with Bellerophon, Princeton, and Indefatigable managing to cross the stern of IJN Kama and Sendai (white arrows).  This is the fire phase that should have won the British the game, but Damon’s dive roll for the broadside of the Bellerophon was literally all misses.  We calculated the odds on camera, we figured a roll THAT bad was at least 60-1 against (10 dice, 60% chance to hit, ALL MISSES).  Indefatigable did a little better but note these hits are hitting the Kama’s starboard QUARTER, not the STERN.  Meanwhile, the Sakito has been hammered (forward shields down) and is trying to stay out of harms way, but is being chased down by American and British scout planes.  Princeton’s torpedoes are headed for the Urakaze, the Terpsichore is now trying to limp off the board, and the Indefatigable is hammered by the aft batteries of the Kama and Sendai (forward guns broadsiding the Terpsichore).  Things get crazy. Whereas many Darkstar games are borderline Napoleonic with linear fleet tactics and well-ordered task forces keeping tight formation … this one devolves into a dogfight, a brawl, a knife-fight across 5400 kilometers of open space. The only attempt at order is by Damon, with Bellerophon, Princeton, and Indefatigable managing to cross the stern of IJN Kama and Sendai (white arrows). This is the fire phase that should have won the British the game, but Damon’s dive roll for the broadside of the Bellerophon was literally all misses. We calculated the odds on camera, we figured a roll THAT bad was at least 60-1 against (10 dice, 60% chance to hit, ALL MISSES). Indefatigable did a little better but note these hits are hitting the Kama’s starboard QUARTER, not the STERN. Meanwhile, the Sakito has been hammered (forward shields down) and is trying to stay out of harms way, but is being chased down by American and British scout planes. Princeton’s torpedoes are headed for the Urakaze, the Terpsichore is now trying to limp off the board, and the Indefatigable is hammered by the aft batteries of the Kama and Sendai (forward guns broadsiding the Terpsichore).
The Kama and Sendai finally turn straight toward the British (now that the Japanese have more or less passed BENEATH the moon), only to find that the British are my and large BEHIND them.  The Bellerophon is admittedly faster and more nimble than her rival.  However, now “Billy Ruffian” and the Kama are exchanging broadsides, a matchup the Kama will win every time (bigger bun battery, more EPCs, bigger gauge, and better shielding on the aft quarters than the Trafalgar class).The Kama and Sendai finally turn straight toward the British (now that the Japanese have more or less passed BENEATH the moon), only to find that the British are my and large BEHIND them. The Bellerophon is admittedly faster and more nimble than her rival. However, now “Billy Ruffian” and the Kama are exchanging broadsides, a matchup the Kama will win every time (bigger bun battery, more EPCs, bigger gauge, and better shielding on the aft quarters than the Trafalgar class).
Exchanging broadsides with a Japanese Katana-class heavy cruiser is never a good idea, as the Bellopheron has learned to her cost.  With her starboard quarter ripped open, she’s trying to maneuver clear, but with no starboard quarter shields and maneuvering thruster damage, she has a hard time making the required turns at her present velocity.  Indefatigable has been drilled straight through the core, and with significant crew losses has been forces to break off the action.  The Princeton tries to cover the British withdrawal, and parks right alongside the Kama.  I’m gambling that Rasmus will want to put most of his big guns against the British as poor little Princeton is hardly a threat, but JUST MAYBE a point-blank broadside will cause some core damage or knock out and engine.  Well, I wasn’t wrong ... Rasmus saves all his big guns for the British.  Only two 12-megakelvin lasers (the temperatures at which the lasers burn) hit the Princeton, BUT RIGHT ON THE BRIDGE.  I swear I think this is one of the most surgical ship-kills I’ve seen in Darkstar.  Full long-range broadsides unload on the Belleropheron, which is crippled.  The Russian destroyer Syrkeyra has been forced to break off the action while the frigates Urakaze and Sakito have also been crippled.  But two Japanese cruisers remain, and only lightly damaged ... so clearly this game is going to the Japanese.   Exchanging broadsides with a Japanese Katana-class heavy cruiser is never a good idea, as the Bellopheron has learned to her cost. With her starboard quarter ripped open, she’s trying to maneuver clear, but with no starboard quarter shields and maneuvering thruster damage, she has a hard time making the required turns at her present velocity. Indefatigable has been drilled straight through the core, and with significant crew losses has been forces to break off the action. The Princeton tries to cover the British withdrawal, and parks right alongside the Kama. I’m gambling that Rasmus will want to put most of his big guns against the British as poor little Princeton is hardly a threat, but JUST MAYBE a point-blank broadside will cause some core damage or knock out and engine. Well, I wasn’t wrong ... Rasmus saves all his big guns for the British. Only two 12-megakelvin lasers (the temperatures at which the lasers burn) hit the Princeton, BUT RIGHT ON THE BRIDGE. I swear I think this is one of the most surgical ship-kills I’ve seen in Darkstar. Full long-range broadsides unload on the Belleropheron, which is crippled. The Russian destroyer Syrkeyra has been forced to break off the action while the frigates Urakaze and Sakito have also been crippled. But two Japanese cruisers remain, and only lightly damaged ... so clearly this game is going to the Japanese.
Here are some of the ship sheets after the battle.  The Terpsichore is to the left.  Good God, what a mess.  Struck fight on the bow by no less than FIVE Ki-45 Toryu class (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes, plus all kinds of gunfire.  The frigate Urakaze is at right.Here are some of the ship sheets after the battle. The Terpsichore is to the left. Good God, what a mess. Struck fight on the bow by no less than FIVE Ki-45 Toryu class (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes, plus all kinds of gunfire. The frigate Urakaze is at right.
The heavy cruiser Bellopheron is at at left, the Russian destroyer Syekyra at right.  One magazine hit wasn’t enough to cripple her, but the crew had decided they’d had enough as I failed the breakoff check.  Just as well, I’d lost my port bow torpedoes, and torpedoes are arguably some of the most powerful weapons any destroyer has.    Meanwhile, the “Billy Ruffian” is in worse shape.  You can see that devastating barrage that hit the starboard quarter.  The heavy cruiser Bellopheron is at at left, the Russian destroyer Syekyra at right. One magazine hit wasn’t enough to cripple her, but the crew had decided they’d had enough as I failed the breakoff check. Just as well, I’d lost my port bow torpedoes, and torpedoes are arguably some of the most powerful weapons any destroyer has. Meanwhile, the “Billy Ruffian” is in worse shape. You can see that devastating barrage that hit the starboard quarter.

Great game on both sides!  The dice were definitely against the British and Americans on this one, but they put up a good show and left three of the enemy ships as wrecks or fleeing.  Augh!  Better luck next time!

Darkstar Battle Report - Four-Way Cruiser Clash!

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Removing duplicate – apologies …

Darkstar Live Game - Apollo 11 Commemorative -1730 UK Time 20 July

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
2 Comments

It’s time for another big Darkstar game!  We have four factions in this one, with players on both sides of the pond!  Given the date, I decided to just for fun to have Earth’s moon on the table (that’s the moon to scale, 180 km to the hex), with three orbital cities overhead, named for the three astronauts of Apollo 11.  Also, gotta have at least one American ship in the mix, hence USS Princeton.

Interested in checking it out and hanging out as we game live on the web?  Ping me a PM and I will send you a link to our web conference.

Darkstar Live Game - Apollo 11 Commemorative -1730 UK Time 20 July

Live 495-Point Game! Elessar2590 v. Oriskany!

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
8 Comments

This Saturday, @elessar2590 and I got together on the web for a massive 495-point throw-down in Darkstar.  Apparently Elessar has been playing this game pretty heavily with his club in Australia, and his fleet has the upgrades to prove it.  Furthermore, his game play is very solid and except for some very “corner case” rules questions (things that don’t come up more often than once in every ten games or so), he showed that he actually has a very good grasp on not only the basics of Darkstar, but also more complex operations like carrier operations, aerospace coordination with warship torpedo spreads, landing aerospace groups to re-arm for second (or third) strikes, electronic warfare, and so on.

So I guess this is the long way of saying he wanted to play his fleet … his whole fleet … his whole upgraded fleet.  In all, he’s packing 495 points *(the only thing he’s missing is the required “Task Force Commander” rating for his flagship, a minor campaign rule required for a force this size).

And since he’s a bonafide Darkstar veteran, I put him up against portions of my heavily-upgraded (been playing on-and-off for seven years) Japanese fleet.  No punches pulled.  Very little “helpful advice” for new players.  It’s time to see if Elessar can really hold his own against one of Oriskany’s best forces, the bulk of the elite Japanese “Storm Dragon” fleet under Commodore Hiromi Ozawa.

It bears noting that not all Japanese ships in this fleet existed in the former Darkstar “canon timeline” at the same time, this is strictly a hypothetical pick-up game to see if one our Darkstar students has truly ready to take on the designer …

So here’s the matchup.  The Japanese fleet is “small” (only three ships) but incredibly upgraded and, not to brag or anything, pretty friggin’ ferocious.  Ozawa’s flagship is the Katana-class heavy cruiser IJN Naginata, upgraded with elite gunnery crews, an advanced CIC targeting suite, enhanced shielding, an expert commander (veteran of five wars, +2 on all initiative), upgraded sublight engines ... she’s a beast ... let’s just say that.  She’s also 202 points, making her the equal of a Prussian pocket battleship or an older dreadnought.  IJN Nagashima is a Kagoshima-class light fleet carriers, carrying dozens of double-elite naval aerospace strike group fighters, bombers, and scouts, plus the dreaded Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedo.  The IJN Sendai is a hyper-advanced Taiho (Great Phoenix) class light cruiser, upgraded almost as much as the Naginata.  All that said, the British fleet are no slouches.  They aren’t quite as upgraded as the Japanese fleet, but pretty heavily upgraded nonetheless, and of course they have the advantages of numbers.  Elessar has been fighting with these ships for quite some time in his own campaign with friends at his club, but now his skills are being put to a test.   So here’s the matchup. The Japanese fleet is “small” (only three ships) but incredibly upgraded and, not to brag or anything, pretty friggin’ ferocious. Ozawa’s flagship is the Katana-class heavy cruiser IJN Naginata, upgraded with elite gunnery crews, an advanced CIC targeting suite, enhanced shielding, an expert commander (veteran of five wars, +2 on all initiative), upgraded sublight engines ... she’s a beast ... let’s just say that. She’s also 202 points, making her the equal of a Prussian pocket battleship or an older dreadnought. IJN Nagashima is a Kagoshima-class light fleet carriers, carrying dozens of double-elite naval aerospace strike group fighters, bombers, and scouts, plus the dreaded Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedo. The IJN Sendai is a hyper-advanced Taiho (Great Phoenix) class light cruiser, upgraded almost as much as the Naginata. All that said, the British fleet are no slouches. They aren’t quite as upgraded as the Japanese fleet, but pretty heavily upgraded nonetheless, and of course they have the advantages of numbers. Elessar has been fighting with these ships for quite some time in his own campaign with friends at his club, but now his skills are being put to a test.
The initial approaches on Turn 1.  With more experienced officers on most of the Japanese warships, we more or less win initiative and manage to start off crossing the British T at 2,350 kilometers.  Even at this long range, the broadside of the Naginata and Sendai blow the fo’c’sle clean off the frigate HMS Burnaby, which technically survives the punishment, but immediately must fleet the battle area with horrific internal damage and admittedly, grievous crew casualties.  Meanwhile, two of the new Maecenas-class expedition ships (the very first time I’ve seen these ships in action) HMS Pellew and HMS June (these cruisers were designed when Darkstar was published – originally named for people who supported the project on Paypal), launch fighters and torpedoes, along with more torpedoes from the British flagship (Iron Duke class heavy cruiser HMS Swedish Knight) and “hero-ship” Falklands-class destroyer HMS Burke. The initial approaches on Turn 1. With more experienced officers on most of the Japanese warships, we more or less win initiative and manage to start off crossing the British T at 2,350 kilometers. Even at this long range, the broadside of the Naginata and Sendai blow the fo’c’sle clean off the frigate HMS Burnaby, which technically survives the punishment, but immediately must fleet the battle area with horrific internal damage and admittedly, grievous crew casualties. Meanwhile, two of the new Maecenas-class expedition ships (the very first time I’ve seen these ships in action) HMS Pellew and HMS June (these cruisers were designed when Darkstar was published – originally named for people who supported the project on Paypal), launch fighters and torpedoes, along with more torpedoes from the British flagship (Iron Duke class heavy cruiser HMS Swedish Knight) and “hero-ship” Falklands-class destroyer HMS Burke.
Turn 2, and things get horrific ... fast.  First, HMS Burnaby, or what’s left of her, realizes this battle is way out of her weight class and speeds out of the battle area, a heroic engineering crew somehow maintaining power and control.  The Swedish Knight and the June make a turn to port, trying to broadside the Japanese heavyweights.  But Commodore Ozawa saw this move coming (won initiative) and instead the Naginata and Sendai (already heavy damaged by the forward batteries last turn) cuts into a broadside right across their stern at point-blank range.  The Swedish Knight and the June’s broadsides smash open the starboard bow of the carrier Nagashima.  A massive Japanese aerospace strike ... A9M Turn 2, and things get horrific ... fast. First, HMS Burnaby, or what’s left of her, realizes this battle is way out of her weight class and speeds out of the battle area, a heroic engineering crew somehow maintaining power and control. The Swedish Knight and the June make a turn to port, trying to broadside the Japanese heavyweights. But Commodore Ozawa saw this move coming (won initiative) and instead the Naginata and Sendai (already heavy damaged by the forward batteries last turn) cuts into a broadside right across their stern at point-blank range. The Swedish Knight and the June’s broadsides smash open the starboard bow of the carrier Nagashima. A massive Japanese aerospace strike ... A9M "Kataka" (Fire Hawk) fighters, B7N "Tenrai" (Heavenly Thunder) bombers, and Ki-202 "Hien" (Flying Swallow) scouts send a hail or torpedoes and aerospace missiles into the stern of the Swedish Knight, tearing apart her engineering section and leaving her crippled and adrift. The Sendai’s broadside and the Naginata’s forward guns cripple the HMS June. But the Nebula “Star Typhoon” bombers and Supermarine “Starfire” fighters return the favor on the Sendai’s stern a moment later, even as British scouts and mass drivers shoot down four Japanese scouts. The Naginata’s aft guns blow a whole clean through the port bow of the expedition cruiser HMS Pellew. Including knocking down her port bow shields. Just that fast, three ships are crippled, a fourth running off the board. This fight has already dropped from eight warships to four.
The hero ship HMS Burke (seriously, this scrappy little destroyer is quickly becoming the Royal Navy’s equivalent to the US Navy’s Valcour-class destroyer USS Oriskany) cuts behind the Japanese carrier Nagashima.  Together with a mass strafing attack by June’s and Pellew’s fighters, they rip into the stern on the Nagashima and do so much damage that not only is she crippled, but she now has a 75% chance of exploding!  (25% per critical hit BEYOND the threshold of automatic cripple). The problem if, IF Nagashima explodes, she’ll kick off a thermonuclear shockwave that will likewise wipe out most of those British fighters right behind her.  But when I roll percentile dice (blue = 10s) I literally roll ON CAMERA a 76!!  By one point, not only is the Nagashima spared to be recovered and fight another day, but sixteen British fighters (including eight that are double-elite) are also spaced destruction.  The eight Japanese bombers that just landed aboard the Nagashima are not so lucky, they are considered lost as they are aboard a crippled carrier.  Meanwhile, Japanese fighters likewise go after the Pellew, whipping around her port bow where she ... again ... HAS NO SHIELDS.  They target the bridge, and yeah ... these guys don’t miss.  I do lose one fighter, but HMS Pellew is likewise crippled, along with eight British bombers that were likewise trying to land and rearm.  The Naginata, meanwhile, comes hard about, and REALLY angry, unleashes forward guns on the Burke, already the last British warship on the table.  But would you believe almost everything misses?    The hero ship HMS Burke (seriously, this scrappy little destroyer is quickly becoming the Royal Navy’s equivalent to the US Navy’s Valcour-class destroyer USS Oriskany) cuts behind the Japanese carrier Nagashima. Together with a mass strafing attack by June’s and Pellew’s fighters, they rip into the stern on the Nagashima and do so much damage that not only is she crippled, but she now has a 75% chance of exploding! (25% per critical hit BEYOND the threshold of automatic cripple). The problem if, IF Nagashima explodes, she’ll kick off a thermonuclear shockwave that will likewise wipe out most of those British fighters right behind her. But when I roll percentile dice (blue = 10s) I literally roll ON CAMERA a 76!! By one point, not only is the Nagashima spared to be recovered and fight another day, but sixteen British fighters (including eight that are double-elite) are also spaced destruction. The eight Japanese bombers that just landed aboard the Nagashima are not so lucky, they are considered lost as they are aboard a crippled carrier. Meanwhile, Japanese fighters likewise go after the Pellew, whipping around her port bow where she ... again ... HAS NO SHIELDS. They target the bridge, and yeah ... these guys don’t miss. I do lose one fighter, but HMS Pellew is likewise crippled, along with eight British bombers that were likewise trying to land and rearm. The Naginata, meanwhile, comes hard about, and REALLY angry, unleashes forward guns on the Burke, already the last British warship on the table. But would you believe almost everything misses?
The game ends on Turn 4 with shocking speed.  The Naginata loses initiative against the Burke (despite Ozawa’s experience, her ship is also almost four times the mass of the Burke, destroyers are just more maneuverable than heavy cruisers).  She tries to keep her vulnerable stern away from the Burke, but the Burke comes hard about and makes a suicidal dive right at the Naginata, winding up in the same hex as the Japanese behemoth, cutting across her stern at less than 50 kilometers (ridiculously close in Darkstar).  Burke puts a hail of fire point-blank into Naginata’s stern, and all guns hit DESPITE Naginata’s upgraded shielding.  The two syglex emitters do the worse damage (x-ray “lasers”), enough to shut down Naginata’s engines and leave her adrift.  Naginata’s last aft barrage doesn’t do enough damage to knock out the Burke, believe it or not (I’ve never hit Burke on her starboard bow yet) .... but the fighters of the Nagashima finish the job with a strafing attack intro the Burke’s engines that leave her adrift as well.  Incredibly, this game is a draw.  Technically I have the edge in remaining fighter craft, but not enough to win by the required 5% of the starting build-point cost to actually claim a “campaign victory.”  (495 point battle, I have to win by at least 25, right now I’m “winning” by just 9).  The game ends on Turn 4 with shocking speed. The Naginata loses initiative against the Burke (despite Ozawa’s experience, her ship is also almost four times the mass of the Burke, destroyers are just more maneuverable than heavy cruisers). She tries to keep her vulnerable stern away from the Burke, but the Burke comes hard about and makes a suicidal dive right at the Naginata, winding up in the same hex as the Japanese behemoth, cutting across her stern at less than 50 kilometers (ridiculously close in Darkstar). Burke puts a hail of fire point-blank into Naginata’s stern, and all guns hit DESPITE Naginata’s upgraded shielding. The two syglex emitters do the worse damage (x-ray “lasers”), enough to shut down Naginata’s engines and leave her adrift. Naginata’s last aft barrage doesn’t do enough damage to knock out the Burke, believe it or not (I’ve never hit Burke on her starboard bow yet) .... but the fighters of the Nagashima finish the job with a strafing attack intro the Burke’s engines that leave her adrift as well. Incredibly, this game is a draw. Technically I have the edge in remaining fighter craft, but not enough to win by the required 5% of the starting build-point cost to actually claim a “campaign victory.” (495 point battle, I have to win by at least 25, right now I’m “winning” by just 9).
We call the game as a hard-fought draw.  Indeed, Elessar has passed “Darkstar Command School” – having fought to a draw against an “Oriskany Tier One” force.  Yes, he lost his whole fleet, but so did I, and even though I wound up with a pitiful handful of extra points, it is NOT enough to count as a win by the rules of the game (you have to win by at least 5% of the starting point cost of your fleet).  So here are the two flagships.        We call the game as a hard-fought draw. Indeed, Elessar has passed “Darkstar Command School” – having fought to a draw against an “Oriskany Tier One” force. Yes, he lost his whole fleet, but so did I, and even though I wound up with a pitiful handful of extra points, it is NOT enough to count as a win by the rules of the game (you have to win by at least 5% of the starting point cost of your fleet). So here are the two flagships.
HMS Pellew, with her caved-in port bow.  You can see where my fighters deliberately targeted the forward magazines and the bridge.  This is one of the fastest ways to take out a warship ... but it’s a small target you have to hit precisely.  The Nagashima, meanwhile, was turn asunder from both the port bow and the stern.  Again, it is only that 76/75 percentile dice miracle that saved her from outright exploding all over the stars.   HMS Pellew, with her caved-in port bow. You can see where my fighters deliberately targeted the forward magazines and the bridge. This is one of the fastest ways to take out a warship ... but it’s a small target you have to hit precisely. The Nagashima, meanwhile, was turn asunder from both the port bow and the stern. Again, it is only that 76/75 percentile dice miracle that saved her from outright exploding all over the stars.
But the real hero of the day was the HMS Burke.  She took four powerful hits, but as you can see, they hit her on four different sides thanks to swift maneuvering, so the damage never really had a chance to “pile up” on a particular facing.  It was only the fighters that machine-gunned her portside engine that finally managed to knock her out.  But the real hero of the day was the HMS Burke. She took four powerful hits, but as you can see, they hit her on four different sides thanks to swift maneuvering, so the damage never really had a chance to “pile up” on a particular facing. It was only the fighters that machine-gunned her portside engine that finally managed to knock her out.
So here’s a zoom out as the battle ends. Crippled ships aren’t just taken off the table, they continue to drift at their last facing and speed, subject to collision with astrophysical objects and gravity.  This is what happens with the HMS Swedish Knight and HMS June.  Not only do they drift at 8 hexes a turn, but once they end each turn’s movement within 10 hexes of the planet, the drift one hex toward the planet as well.  The blue arrows show their positions at the end of each turn, where they are pulled steadily toward the planet.  Fortunately, they are also moving fast enough to where they get off the left side of the map before they hit the planet.  It’s a near miss, but they’re safe.  The same cannot be said of the Naginata, which I didn’t notice was pointing right toward the planet as she was crippled.  A few turns later (she was moving at 5), she will collide.  Luckily the crew has enough time to abandon ship, taking the flag, log book, and ship’s bell with them. GREAT GAME!  So here’s a zoom out as the battle ends. Crippled ships aren’t just taken off the table, they continue to drift at their last facing and speed, subject to collision with astrophysical objects and gravity. This is what happens with the HMS Swedish Knight and HMS June. Not only do they drift at 8 hexes a turn, but once they end each turn’s movement within 10 hexes of the planet, the drift one hex toward the planet as well. The blue arrows show their positions at the end of each turn, where they are pulled steadily toward the planet. Fortunately, they are also moving fast enough to where they get off the left side of the map before they hit the planet. It’s a near miss, but they’re safe. The same cannot be said of the Naginata, which I didn’t notice was pointing right toward the planet as she was crippled. A few turns later (she was moving at 5), she will collide. Luckily the crew has enough time to abandon ship, taking the flag, log book, and ship’s bell with them. GREAT GAME!

Another great thing about this webgame was the fact that we had @bloodstrike  from Canada and @damon from the UK on the call with us – so we were live on three continents (North America, Europe, Australia) and four countries.  Darkstar has now CLEARLY developed a cadre of experienced players (Damon, Elessar, Rasmus, Gladesrunner, Aras, others) who have played dozens of games and now gave the system down (at least for the ships they currently enjoy).

Next step … FULL ON CAMPAIGN!

Desperate Battle against Panasian Dreadnought!

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Skill 6
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Battle report time!  We’re taking a look at the Darkstar game this past Sunday between myself (Panasian League) and @damon (United Kingdom).  This was a first look at some of the Second Wave ships that are now available (along with four new factions) – and also a look at one of the battleship designs that have been tweaked.

So in the past, including the very recent past with a battle involving my Germans (with a Tirpitz class battleship) and @damon and @gladesrunner ‘s cruiser task forces … battleships have fared very poorly. They will almost always lose initiative because of their size and low maneuverability (defined by their mass / surplus power ratio).  I didn’t want to monkey with the math again, so instead just made a small adjustment … moving all the battleship’s secondary armament to the port and starboard quarters.

The hope was this would at least reduce the efficacy of the top tactic used by smaller ships to murder battleships … that is … to wolf-pack a point-blank series of broadsides and torpedo spreads right against the stern of the ship, which the battleship can rarely protect via maneuver because they are too slow.

Let’s see how this goes!

So here’s the opening map.  The Panasian battleship Honghu (Red Tiger) is on her way back from an extended war cruise.  She is undamaged, but not at 100% efficiency, either (in game terms, no battle or campaign upgrades).  Escorted by a single frigate (PLN Laoshan, a Zhienha class missile frigate), she is trying to get back to her port at the lower right.  However, the Bellerophon battlegroup (Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Bellerophon, Indomitable class light cruiser HMS Indefatigable, and Falklands class destroyer HMS Terpsichore) is on an intercept course, with orders to “sink” the Panasian battleship before she can make port.So here’s the opening map. The Panasian battleship Honghu (Red Tiger) is on her way back from an extended war cruise. She is undamaged, but not at 100% efficiency, either (in game terms, no battle or campaign upgrades). Escorted by a single frigate (PLN Laoshan, a Zhienha class missile frigate), she is trying to get back to her port at the lower right. However, the Bellerophon battlegroup (Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Bellerophon, Indomitable class light cruiser HMS Indefatigable, and Falklands class destroyer HMS Terpsichore) is on an intercept course, with orders to “sink” the Panasian battleship before she can make port.
The Panasians are setting a shallow zig-zag course down along the planet, hoping to use the gravity and  atmosphere of the planet to at least screen the battleship’s stern somewhat.  Both sides now present broadsides at 2700 km, which should be terrifying for the British … but the ENTIRE Panasian volley misses.  This is fortunate for the British, since Red Tiger’s initial forward barrage actually scored three lucky hits which left Indefatigable’s starboard bow heavily mauled.  But now the Panasians have fired off a huge wave of torpedoes … relatively poor torpedoes that are easy to shoot down, don’t hit often, and don’t do much damage, but there are almost SEVENTY of them coming at the British …      The Panasians are setting a shallow zig-zag course down along the planet, hoping to use the gravity and atmosphere of the planet to at least screen the battleship’s stern somewhat. Both sides now present broadsides at 2700 km, which should be terrifying for the British … but the ENTIRE Panasian volley misses. This is fortunate for the British, since Red Tiger’s initial forward barrage actually scored three lucky hits which left Indefatigable’s starboard bow heavily mauled. But now the Panasians have fired off a huge wave of torpedoes … relatively poor torpedoes that are easy to shoot down, don’t hit often, and don’t do much damage, but there are almost SEVENTY of them coming at the British …
Getting close (in Darkstar terms, the average engagement range in this image is five hexes = 900 km) and here it gets nasty.  British scouts are mowed down by Panasian mass drivers as the scouts try to protect the Terpsichore against the Chinese torpedo spread.  Many Panasian torpedoes are shot down, and those that survive don’t do well against the British shields (recently upgraded aboard HMS Terpsichore).  But a few get through, completely smashing out Terpsichore’s starboard engine and reactor array.  She’ll be at -1/3 thrust for the rest of the game.  Explosive broadsides are traded, damaging the Red Tiger slightly but blowing the Laoshan clean out of the battle (crippled, will later be recovered).  Indomitable is also brutally mauled, especially along the starboard bow by the forward guns of the Red Tiger (gigantic 30 teravolt EPCs, the largest EPCs allowed in the game)Getting close (in Darkstar terms, the average engagement range in this image is five hexes = 900 km) and here it gets nasty. British scouts are mowed down by Panasian mass drivers as the scouts try to protect the Terpsichore against the Chinese torpedo spread. Many Panasian torpedoes are shot down, and those that survive don’t do well against the British shields (recently upgraded aboard HMS Terpsichore). But a few get through, completely smashing out Terpsichore’s starboard engine and reactor array. She’ll be at -1/3 thrust for the rest of the game. Explosive broadsides are traded, damaging the Red Tiger slightly but blowing the Laoshan clean out of the battle (crippled, will later be recovered). Indomitable is also brutally mauled, especially along the starboard bow by the forward guns of the Red Tiger (gigantic 30 teravolt EPCs, the largest EPCs allowed in the game)
The Panasians seem to be running out of time.  At last the Red Tiger can no longer keep her fantail safe from British broadsides, note that both HMS Bellerphon and Terpsichore are now right across her stern with every gun aboard at the murderously close range of 500 km.  Furthermore, with the Laoshan now crippled, the Red Tiger has no escorts.  However, the British broadside is not executed perfectly.  Note the Indefatigable, out of position and hitting Red Tiger’s starboard quarter, not her stern.  This is going to have terrible consequences later.  The British broadside thus falls short of knocking out the Red Tiger, but still costs them the Indefatigable, ravaged by a 60-torpedo spread of Panasian warheads (note the other two British ships are a little too far away to provide effective mass driver defense), while the aft guns of the Red Tiger (including one of her two gigantic 60-kilogram plasma projectors) leave the Indomitable burning and adrift, crippled in space.The Panasians seem to be running out of time. At last the Red Tiger can no longer keep her fantail safe from British broadsides, note that both HMS Bellerphon and Terpsichore are now right across her stern with every gun aboard at the murderously close range of 500 km. Furthermore, with the Laoshan now crippled, the Red Tiger has no escorts. However, the British broadside is not executed perfectly. Note the Indefatigable, out of position and hitting Red Tiger’s starboard quarter, not her stern. This is going to have terrible consequences later. The British broadside thus falls short of knocking out the Red Tiger, but still costs them the Indefatigable, ravaged by a 60-torpedo spread of Panasian warheads (note the other two British ships are a little too far away to provide effective mass driver defense), while the aft guns of the Red Tiger (including one of her two gigantic 60-kilogram plasma projectors) leave the Indomitable burning and adrift, crippled in space.
The Red Tiger doggedly continues to “staircase” down the planet’s surface, using the planet’s gravity to tug her bulk just a little closer to the atmosphere and thus hopefully SLIGHTLY more protected.  As the Indomitable drifts upward (although only moving two hexes a turn, or six kilometers per second), she actually slips into a semi-stable orbit of the planet, but barely missing being pulled down into the atmosphere and destroyed forever.    She will be thrown clear on Turn 8.  Meanwhile, the vengeful Bellerophon and Terpsichore cut hard turns to port to pursue the lumbering Panasian giant.  They will always outmaneuver her, but the Red Tiger can always outshoot them, even with only half her guns (presuming the British stay behind her and never allow her to use her forward batteries).The Red Tiger doggedly continues to “staircase” down the planet’s surface, using the planet’s gravity to tug her bulk just a little closer to the atmosphere and thus hopefully SLIGHTLY more protected. As the Indomitable drifts upward (although only moving two hexes a turn, or six kilometers per second), she actually slips into a semi-stable orbit of the planet, but barely missing being pulled down into the atmosphere and destroyed forever. She will be thrown clear on Turn 8. Meanwhile, the vengeful Bellerophon and Terpsichore cut hard turns to port to pursue the lumbering Panasian giant. They will always outmaneuver her, but the Red Tiger can always outshoot them, even with only half her guns (presuming the British stay behind her and never allow her to use her forward batteries).
No guts, no glory.  The Bellerophon closes to point-blank range for a second broadside directly into the battleship’s stern.  A gutsy move, and perhaps even the correct one, if she still had a light cruiser or her destroyer escort doing the same thing at the same time.  The Bellerophon’s prow is all but blown clean off, her starboard bow cored like an apple, starboard bow shields collapsing, and fires now started on the bridge.  Forward magazines have exploded, mass driver mounts are gone, hangars are gone, sensors and maneuvering thrusters are gone … core damage also means there is heavy losses among the crew, in fact she already has a 75% chance of being forced out of the action.  But the “Billy Ruffian” stands tall, Damon rolls a 92 percentile dice.  SHE IS STAYING IN ‘TIL THE FIGHT’S DONE! No guts, no glory. The Bellerophon closes to point-blank range for a second broadside directly into the battleship’s stern. A gutsy move, and perhaps even the correct one, if she still had a light cruiser or her destroyer escort doing the same thing at the same time. The Bellerophon’s prow is all but blown clean off, her starboard bow cored like an apple, starboard bow shields collapsing, and fires now started on the bridge. Forward magazines have exploded, mass driver mounts are gone, hangars are gone, sensors and maneuvering thrusters are gone … core damage also means there is heavy losses among the crew, in fact she already has a 75% chance of being forced out of the action. But the “Billy Ruffian” stands tall, Damon rolls a 92 percentile dice. SHE IS STAYING IN ‘TIL THE FIGHT’S DONE!
At last both British ships close for ANOTHER point-blank broadside against the Red Tiger’s fantail.  To make this maneuver with damaged thrusters,  Bellerophon must present her gutted and unshielded starboard bow.  ALL HANDS – EXCEPT GUNNERY CREWS – TO LIFEBOATS!  The Terpsichore does the same.  Both ships are gone, they know it … by now they’ve just taken too much damage.    But can they take the Red Tiger with them, and at least force a draw?  The odds say yes, by now the Red Tiger’s stern is torn asunder and she has major fires in engineering (11 critical boxes, easily enough to cripple a heavy cruiser, enough to explode a light cruiser, and a destroyer doesn’t even have 11 critical boxes in its frame).  But the luck of the dice just punishes the British again.  Not only is the Red Tiger’s stern shield still up (about the only external system the Red Tiger still has on this facing), but the Bellerophon scores a terrible roll to hit on her final broadside.  The Red Tiger survives, while her hail of Tsing Tao torpedoes blows BOTH Bellerophon’s main forward turrets out of the hull and also explodes the bridge (the captain will make his survival roll).  The gunnery of the Red Tiger than likewise crushes the Terpsichore, exploding forward magazines and putting her out of the fight as well.    At last both British ships close for ANOTHER point-blank broadside against the Red Tiger’s fantail. To make this maneuver with damaged thrusters, Bellerophon must present her gutted and unshielded starboard bow. ALL HANDS – EXCEPT GUNNERY CREWS – TO LIFEBOATS! The Terpsichore does the same. Both ships are gone, they know it … by now they’ve just taken too much damage. But can they take the Red Tiger with them, and at least force a draw? The odds say yes, by now the Red Tiger’s stern is torn asunder and she has major fires in engineering (11 critical boxes, easily enough to cripple a heavy cruiser, enough to explode a light cruiser, and a destroyer doesn’t even have 11 critical boxes in its frame). But the luck of the dice just punishes the British again. Not only is the Red Tiger’s stern shield still up (about the only external system the Red Tiger still has on this facing), but the Bellerophon scores a terrible roll to hit on her final broadside. The Red Tiger survives, while her hail of Tsing Tao torpedoes blows BOTH Bellerophon’s main forward turrets out of the hull and also explodes the bridge (the captain will make his survival roll). The gunnery of the Red Tiger than likewise crushes the Terpsichore, exploding forward magazines and putting her out of the fight as well.
This cruel battle, by points, is a crushing 276-33 Panasian victory.  I won’t lie, it feels good to win a game, and I’m also “glad” to see the British lose a game.  For almost six months now, they’ve had an almost unbroken string of wins with Justin, Dave Hawes, Jennifer, and Damon.  I was starting to worry if the faction was OP.  Also, I am very glad that a battleship performed well.  These “alpha predators” of Darkstar had lately been the “alpha clay pigeons” helpless lumbering elephants torn apart time and time again by packs of wolves and tigers.  No more.  This cruel battle, by points, is a crushing 276-33 Panasian victory. I won’t lie, it feels good to win a game, and I’m also “glad” to see the British lose a game. For almost six months now, they’ve had an almost unbroken string of wins with Justin, Dave Hawes, Jennifer, and Damon. I was starting to worry if the faction was OP. Also, I am very glad that a battleship performed well. These “alpha predators” of Darkstar had lately been the “alpha clay pigeons” helpless lumbering elephants torn apart time and time again by packs of wolves and tigers. No more.
All that said, this game was a LOT closer than the points would suggest.  By averages, this should have been a draw, at least on the last turn of the game.  A few missed opportunities by the British to put UNITED, COMBINED broadsides across the fantail of the Red Tiger might also have tipped the game.  But even so, it came VERY close.  Note the twelve boxes of critical damage done to the Red Tiger’s engines and reactors.  Battleships start with a cripple number of 19+ . . . -12 critical hits = a 7+ to cripple her on a d6.  So Damon was just one hit away from at least having a chance.  Four more critical hits would have given him better than even money with a 3+ chance.  And each of Bellerophon’s EIGHT main guns do four points of damage at this range.  So literally one more well-placed hit could have made all the difference.  I guess after that “1” rolled at the end of the Gold Beach Panzer Leader game, Lady Luck decided Damon owed her one.  =)All that said, this game was a LOT closer than the points would suggest. By averages, this should have been a draw, at least on the last turn of the game. A few missed opportunities by the British to put UNITED, COMBINED broadsides across the fantail of the Red Tiger might also have tipped the game. But even so, it came VERY close. Note the twelve boxes of critical damage done to the Red Tiger’s engines and reactors. Battleships start with a cripple number of 19+ . . . -12 critical hits = a 7+ to cripple her on a d6. So Damon was just one hit away from at least having a chance. Four more critical hits would have given him better than even money with a 3+ chance. And each of Bellerophon’s EIGHT main guns do four points of damage at this range. So literally one more well-placed hit could have made all the difference. I guess after that “1” rolled at the end of the Gold Beach Panzer Leader game, Lady Luck decided Damon owed her one. =)

PANASIAN BATTLESHIP SIGHTED! ACTION STATIONS!

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A live game of Darkstar is starting RIGHT NOW – where community member Damon will take on my Panasian battleship and escorting frigate.  If you’re interested in checking it out as it plays, ping me a PM and I will send you a link to the web conference.

PANASIAN BATTLESHIP!  Can Damon's British fleet stand tall?PANASIAN BATTLESHIP! Can Damon's British fleet stand tall?

Panasian Light Missile Cruiser Sighted!

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Skill 7
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Here is a slightly low-res (easier for posting) image of the Xhia-class light missile cruiser for the Panasian League, one of the new warships in the Here is a slightly low-res (easier for posting) image of the Xhia-class light missile cruiser for the Panasian League, one of the new warships in the "Second Wave" Darkstar Ships and Faction book (.pdf below). She's sleek and pretty, but actually rather old in the Darkstar 'verse, one of those ships that SHOULD have been retired decades ago, but somehow keeps winning victories when enemies underestimate her and or one of her dozens of sister ships.

Wave Two RELEASE: New Factions and Warships for Darkstar

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Skill 9
Idea 9
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Wave Two RELEASE: New Factions and Warships for Darkstar

“Second Wave” Darkstar warships and factions have arrived.

PDF Download HERE

  • Four new factions
  • 20 Warship classes for those factions
  • 10 new warships for existing factions
  • 30 warships in all

Wave Two Factions and Warships for Darkstar - ALMOST DONE!

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Skill 7
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Just a quick update to let everyone know that Darkstar “Wave 2” is entering final stages of preparation. I should have a final .pdf available for everyone who’s interested by tomorrow at the latest.

THIS IS NOT an update or correction to any rules. Instead, this is strictly an additional roll-out of factions and warships to expand what’s available for community members who play Darkstar.

Four new factions, including 20 new warship classes.
Ten new warship classes for the original factions.
Thirty warships classes in all!

Including the absolute most powerful warship that is legally possible in the current rules of Darkstar, and she doesn’t belong to any of the “Ten Navies” of Known Space, which means you really get a peek at a FIFTH new faction!

Stay tuned, and thanks as always for all the great community support.

Here is a LOW-RES preview of what might be the most powerful ship in the Darkstar Royal Navy: The Ark Royal class supercarrier.  This is just one of the thirty new ships (including ships for four new factions) being rolled out for Darkstar in the next day or two at the most. She carries 88 combat aerospace craft, a mix of fighters, bombers, scouts, and even two gunboats!Here is a LOW-RES preview of what might be the most powerful ship in the Darkstar Royal Navy: The Ark Royal class supercarrier. This is just one of the thirty new ships (including ships for four new factions) being rolled out for Darkstar in the next day or two at the most. She carries 88 combat aerospace craft, a mix of fighters, bombers, scouts, and even two gunboats!

Update: Wave 2 Ships for Darkstar

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Update to “Wave Two” Warships and Factions for Darkstar:

Apologies, all … but a series of commitments last week prevented me from devoting the full amount of “firepower” this new release deserves.  Please rest assured that this new “Wave Two” release of Warships and Factions is now started, and I hope to get it out sometime next week.

Materials in the new .pdf will include:

Warships for four new factions

  • New Roman Alliance
  • Panasian Union
  • Arab League
  • Indian Republic

Including:

  • Ship rosters
  • Historical writeups
  • Warship Record sheets

Each faction will ghave five warship classes presented, for twenty ships total.

Also: 

Ten new warship classes spread across the six factions already presented (United States, United Kingdom, Imperial Prussia, Japan, Holy Russian Empire, Corporate Consortium)

So that’s 30 warship classes total!

The .pdf will be made available free of charge here on Beasts of War, just like the original release was back in December.

Weekend wargames of Darkstar are available to anyone on line, al always.  Just contact me via PM if you’re ever interested.

 

One of the warship record sheets available for the One of the warship record sheets available for the "Shanxi" class heavy cruiser, just one of the new warships available for the Panasian Union.

Battle Report: Rasmus v. Oriskany (Japanese v. French)

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This weekend @rasmus again stepped to the Darkstar table, where he may have caught a little of the retribution due to @damon instead.  In summary, my French battlegroup of the New Roman Alliance (Capt. Rafael deChalemonde, commanding aboard the Foch-Hispaniola class light cruiser NRS Leclerc) has been getting the worst end of the stick lately from Damon’s Trafalgar battlegroup.  I was beaten up so bad last week, in fact, that I lost a ship and a character for good.  In an effort to realign my battlegroup for better success, I have a new Contessa class light carrier and a Drusus class torpedo corvette.  I was planning on testing this new battlegroup on Damon, but Rasmus wanted to play this week so his Japanese Sendai Byo battlegroup faces off against my French instead.

DeChalemonde and his commanders have lost something like 4 games in a row, with only one draw breaking this streak, and even that draw was really a defeat.  Now, stinging with wounded pride, they have one last chance to redeem themselves – at the ongoing Battle of Les Troie Filles.

The Battle of Les Troie Filles has been simmering for months now in the Psi Serpentis A system.  A French-held gas giant has been beset by the British and Japanese, whose governments claim that the French lease on this planet has legally expired.  Three valuable moons of this gas giant, dubbed “The Three Daughters” of  the star system’s Marquis de Nouveau Châtillon, have been periodically invaded and counter-invaded by the three warring powers.

The situation on one such moon has settled into frustrating stalemate.  In an effort to break the deadlock, a battalion of 600 French Foreign Legionnaires are being inserted on the far side of the moons, outflanking current Japanese Army and SNLF positions on the surface.  However, the notorious and mysterious Japanese spy known only as “Red Kitsune” has alerted the Japanese high command of the French plan, and have a powerful cruiser battlegroup poised to intercept.

So here’s the mission:  The French are entering from the right, the Japanese from the left.  The target hex for the planetary invasion is marked by the red circle (180 kilometers across, remember).  The French have three planetary assault ships (15 damage points, shields 4, speed 6, turns 1 / round,  30 VP to the Japanese for each one destroyed, 30 VP to the French for each one that makes it to the invasion hex).  The French have the light cruiser Leclerc, the destroyer Corsica, the light carrier Priscilla, and the torpedo corvette Sica.  The Japanese have the heavy cruiser Kama, the light cruiser Sendai Byo, and the two strike frigates Urakaze and Sakito.  The French have seven additional land-based bombers to balance out the points at 265 each.So here’s the mission: The French are entering from the right, the Japanese from the left. The target hex for the planetary invasion is marked by the red circle (180 kilometers across, remember). The French have three planetary assault ships (15 damage points, shields 4, speed 6, turns 1 / round, 30 VP to the Japanese for each one destroyed, 30 VP to the French for each one that makes it to the invasion hex). The French have the light cruiser Leclerc, the destroyer Corsica, the light carrier Priscilla, and the torpedo corvette Sica. The Japanese have the heavy cruiser Kama, the light cruiser Sendai Byo, and the two strike frigates Urakaze and Sakito. The French have seven additional land-based bombers to balance out the points at 265 each.
The fleets enter the battlespace in high orbit over the Troie Filles moon.  Both sides launch torpedoes.  The French have far more (thanks in part to the carrier Priscilla and torpedo corvette Sica), but the Japanese torpedoes are the deadly Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer).  Perhaps even more ominously, the French are also launching fighters and bombers.  The French approach vector has been quite fast, as deChalemonde is determined to get his warships between the Japanese and the troops transports that have started their assault run toward the moon’s surface.The fleets enter the battlespace in high orbit over the Troie Filles moon. Both sides launch torpedoes. The French have far more (thanks in part to the carrier Priscilla and torpedo corvette Sica), but the Japanese torpedoes are the deadly Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer). Perhaps even more ominously, the French are also launching fighters and bombers. The French approach vector has been quite fast, as deChalemonde is determined to get his warships between the Japanese and the troops transports that have started their assault run toward the moon’s surface.
Taking the moon’s gravity into account, the French and Japanese battlegroups close to the orbital invasion zone.  The French, in particular, have dipped VERY close to the moon intent on staying out of the Kama’s full broadside of massive 18-teravolt electron particle cannons.  Those Akashi class strike frigates, meanwhile, mount ALL their guns forward, making them vulnerable but allowing them to ‘stab” right at the enemy with full firepower to bear (i.e., no need to maneuver to broadside).  Taking the moon’s gravity into account, the French and Japanese battlegroups close to the orbital invasion zone. The French, in particular, have dipped VERY close to the moon intent on staying out of the Kama’s full broadside of massive 18-teravolt electron particle cannons. Those Akashi class strike frigates, meanwhile, mount ALL their guns forward, making them vulnerable but allowing them to ‘stab” right at the enemy with full firepower to bear (i.e., no need to maneuver to broadside).
Turn 3 and things get very serious.  First the French zoom in with fighters and bombers, ready to launch an aerospace torpedo and missile strike on the Kama’s stern.  Rasmus sees the move and opens fire with long-range mass driver fire from the Urakaze and Sakito, knocking down four bombers from the carrier Priscilla.  The fighters launch as well, as well as French ground based bombers, but their torpedoes can’t quite reach the stern so they have to hit the starboard quarter.  French warship torpedoes (Class IV gravitic) hammer into the stern, but the Kama and Sendai Byo shoot most these torpedoes down.  In all,  the whole aerospace / torpedo strike is very disappointing for the French.  The only bright spot is the broadside of the light cruiser Leclerc manages to cripple the Urakaze straight away, and Leclerc’s heavy 12-megakelvin laser battery slash open the Sakito so the escorting destroyer Corsica can finish her off.  Meanwhile, the Corsica is heavily hammered by Japanese gunfire and forced to break off.  Japanese torpedoes hammer into one of the troop ships and leave it heavily damaged as well.   Turn 3 and things get very serious. First the French zoom in with fighters and bombers, ready to launch an aerospace torpedo and missile strike on the Kama’s stern. Rasmus sees the move and opens fire with long-range mass driver fire from the Urakaze and Sakito, knocking down four bombers from the carrier Priscilla. The fighters launch as well, as well as French ground based bombers, but their torpedoes can’t quite reach the stern so they have to hit the starboard quarter. French warship torpedoes (Class IV gravitic) hammer into the stern, but the Kama and Sendai Byo shoot most these torpedoes down. In all, the whole aerospace / torpedo strike is very disappointing for the French. The only bright spot is the broadside of the light cruiser Leclerc manages to cripple the Urakaze straight away, and Leclerc’s heavy 12-megakelvin laser battery slash open the Sakito so the escorting destroyer Corsica can finish her off. Meanwhile, the Corsica is heavily hammered by Japanese gunfire and forced to break off. Japanese torpedoes hammer into one of the troop ships and leave it heavily damaged as well.
The climax of the game on Turn 4.  While the Urakaze and Sakito careen helplessly away from the moon, the French assault ships rush in.  The damaged one takes a hit from a Dragon Slayer torpedo, exploding it. Two more Dragon Slayers hit the second troop ship, leaving it burning in space until Kama’s heavy forward batteries likewise tear it apart.  Two drop ships are destroyed, and the third is heavily damaged, but WILL make it to the surface during the movement phase of Turn 5.  The Kama has her own problems, however.  As she struggles up out of the moon’s gravity well, the Leclerc and Corsica (technically heading off the table, remember), slash across her stern in a double broadside.  The move is risky, and in fact leaves the Corsica even more badly damaged.  But the Leclerc tears the Kama’s aft sections apart and cripples the heavier Japanese ship.  Meanwhile, Leclerc’s mass driver guns also shoot down the six Japanese scouts!  The carrier Priscilla is lost, however, as the Sendai Byo cuts across her stern (both ships’ hulls probably glowing red from friction with the moon’s upper atmosphere).   The climax of the game on Turn 4. While the Urakaze and Sakito careen helplessly away from the moon, the French assault ships rush in. The damaged one takes a hit from a Dragon Slayer torpedo, exploding it. Two more Dragon Slayers hit the second troop ship, leaving it burning in space until Kama’s heavy forward batteries likewise tear it apart. Two drop ships are destroyed, and the third is heavily damaged, but WILL make it to the surface during the movement phase of Turn 5. The Kama has her own problems, however. As she struggles up out of the moon’s gravity well, the Leclerc and Corsica (technically heading off the table, remember), slash across her stern in a double broadside. The move is risky, and in fact leaves the Corsica even more badly damaged. But the Leclerc tears the Kama’s aft sections apart and cripples the heavier Japanese ship. Meanwhile, Leclerc’s mass driver guns also shoot down the six Japanese scouts! The carrier Priscilla is lost, however, as the Sendai Byo cuts across her stern (both ships’ hulls probably glowing red from friction with the moon’s upper atmosphere).
Turn 5, and the warships have largely passed each other.  The last French drop ship hits the surface, putting 200 Foreign Legionnaires on the moon’s surface.  The badly-damaged Corsica accelerates as best she can to escape, but Japanese “Dragon Slayer” torpedoes from the Sendai Byo catch up with her and slam into her unshielded port bow.  She is now crippled (in game terms, she’s worth full points to Rasmus now instead of half points for driving her off).  Sendai’s accurate syglex and EPC fire, meanwhile, cripple the little Sica torpedo corvette.  Only two ships remain!  The damaged Sendai Byo and the undamaged Leclerc!  Turn 5, and the warships have largely passed each other. The last French drop ship hits the surface, putting 200 Foreign Legionnaires on the moon’s surface. The badly-damaged Corsica accelerates as best she can to escape, but Japanese “Dragon Slayer” torpedoes from the Sendai Byo catch up with her and slam into her unshielded port bow. She is now crippled (in game terms, she’s worth full points to Rasmus now instead of half points for driving her off). Sendai’s accurate syglex and EPC fire, meanwhile, cripple the little Sica torpedo corvette. Only two ships remain! The damaged Sendai Byo and the undamaged Leclerc!
Pointing up the battle’s score, deChalemonde realizes that he’s got the battle won.  He’s actually done more damage to the Japanese than vice versa.  Remember the Kama was a heavy cruiser, and of course virtually the whole French aerospace group remains on the table (7 bombers, 9 fighters, 6 scouts, 38 points worth, almost a destroyer’s worth of points).   The bombers head down to support the legionnaires on the surface, while the Leclerc denies battle by accelerating and extending the range.  Yes, she could probably beat the Sendai (Sendai is damaged and she is only a 93 point ship compared to 122 for the Leclerc), but why risk it?  The French HAVE to break their losing streak.  One bit of bad news, though, the crippled corvette Sica will NOT clear the moon’s surface when gravity is taken into account, the crew abandons ship before she skips into the moon’s atmosphere and burns up.    Pointing up the battle’s score, deChalemonde realizes that he’s got the battle won. He’s actually done more damage to the Japanese than vice versa. Remember the Kama was a heavy cruiser, and of course virtually the whole French aerospace group remains on the table (7 bombers, 9 fighters, 6 scouts, 38 points worth, almost a destroyer’s worth of points). The bombers head down to support the legionnaires on the surface, while the Leclerc denies battle by accelerating and extending the range. Yes, she could probably beat the Sendai (Sendai is damaged and she is only a 93 point ship compared to 122 for the Leclerc), but why risk it? The French HAVE to break their losing streak. One bit of bad news, though, the crippled corvette Sica will NOT clear the moon’s surface when gravity is taken into account, the crew abandons ship before she skips into the moon’s atmosphere and burns up.
The final situation on the end of Turn 7.  The French have won 206 to 169.  While only one troop ship made it and two did not, the French Navy (including aerospace craft, remember) is actually more powerful than the Japanese in this sector.  The Sendai will be forced to withdrawal (and start rescue / recovery work for the Kama, Urakaze, and Sakito) while the French Navy will remain in control of this moon’s orbital zone.  The ground battle is thus a foreground conclusion.The final situation on the end of Turn 7. The French have won 206 to 169. While only one troop ship made it and two did not, the French Navy (including aerospace craft, remember) is actually more powerful than the Japanese in this sector. The Sendai will be forced to withdrawal (and start rescue / recovery work for the Kama, Urakaze, and Sakito) while the French Navy will remain in control of this moon’s orbital zone. The ground battle is thus a foreground conclusion.
This game was supposed to be a “raid” in victory point calculation, but quickly turned into a toe-to-toe slugging match.  We see where the damage on the Japanese heavy cruiser Kama (left) and French destroyer Corsica (right) reflect the ferocity of the battle.  Notably, Corsica was hit straight through the bridge.  That means her commander, Commander Daphne St. Croix, will have to make a survival check.  She does so, but only with a “Commander’s Luck” point, probably indicating she was wounded by that torpedo hit that exploded into her bridge.  This game was supposed to be a “raid” in victory point calculation, but quickly turned into a toe-to-toe slugging match. We see where the damage on the Japanese heavy cruiser Kama (left) and French destroyer Corsica (right) reflect the ferocity of the battle. Notably, Corsica was hit straight through the bridge. That means her commander, Commander Daphne St. Croix, will have to make a survival check. She does so, but only with a “Commander’s Luck” point, probably indicating she was wounded by that torpedo hit that exploded into her bridge.

In all, a great game!  Congrats to Rasmus for really making me work for this one.  😀  And my poor French finally WON ONE!  Maybe I’ll try my Russians next.

Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in trying this game, just ping me with a PM.  We run Darkstar almost every weekend.  All you need is an internet connection, some dice, and a bellyful of courage!

Update on Wave 2 Starships - Live Game Today at 17:30 UK Time

Tutoring 7
Skill 6
Idea 7
2 Comments
Update on Wave 2 Starships - Live Game Today at 17:30 UK Time

UPDATE:

All factions (published and  non-published) are now “caught up” with latest edition Warship Record Sheets, and their math is now compliant with most recent edition or the rules.

Wave 2 warship .pdf I hope to have out in the next week or two.

Wave 2 ships will follow much the same format as Wave 1 that went out with the initial Darkstar .pdf last December. Each faction will start off with 5 designs, with a write-up and a sample WRS.

That will get players to an even 50 available classes, 30 from the original set and 20 more here. Just under half.

Wave 3 will follow on later this year, with either Installations (ground and orbital, already designed and ready) … or maybe more warships for the 10 classes (three more designs per faction = 30 more per release).

Wave 4 will take whichever option Wave 3 did not, either way we’ll now be at 14 installation types (orbital and ground) and 80 warship classes.

Wave 5 will wrap up the remaining 30 or so warship classes, leaving players will well over 100.

That takes our release schedule somewhere into 2020, so we’ll have to see what comes after that. 😀

 

Also, LIVE DARKSTAR GAME will be online starting at 17:30 today UK time!   Ping Oriskany a PM if you are interested in checking it out on web conference.

British v French Again, and this time characters GO DOWN!

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
10 Comments

Okay, so @damon and I had another great game of Darkstar on Saturday.  Again, we’re looking at my French vs. Damon’s British.  In addition to the successful running of Darkstar on line and another great game, we’re also expanding our playtesting more and more into successful execution of SCENARIO based play, instead of just pointed-up mash-ups.  Last time we had a “dock and rescue” mission, this time we’re trying convoy escort.

Forces are the same last time (no ships were lost permanently last time, and again, we’re just trying a new scenario model).

French (New Roman Alliance):

  • NRS Leclerc (Foch-Hispaniola class light cruiser – upgraded)
  • NRS Corsica (Milan II class destroyer – upgraded)
  • NRS Calais (Milan II class destroyer – upgraded)

British

  • HMS Bellerophon (Trafalgar class heavy cruiser)
  • HMS Indefatigable (Indomitable class light cruiser- upgraded)
  • HMS Terpsichore (modified Falklands-Commonwealth class destroyer)
The French have an convoy of five automated drone cargo ships, entering on the bottom half of the table.  Movement on these are 7 hexes a turn, they automatically “lose initiative” and must move first every turn, they make one hex-side facing change per turn, have 3 in shields on all facings, and 10 damage points.  The French get 20 points for every one of these that successfully get off the top end of the map sheet.  The British get 20 points for every ship they destroy.   // Terrestrial gravity rules.  One hex of gravitational drift toward the planet is assessed against any non-aerospace ship (including cargo ships) that end their movement within 10 hexes of the planet’s outer rim.  Any encounter with a hex that is even partially covered by the planet graphic results in immediate and total destruction of the ship.  //  Scoring in this scenario is RAID-based, i.e., players get points for enemy warships destroyed / crippled / driven off … NOT remaining ships on the table at the end of the game.  To claim a victory, players need to score at least 40% their opponent’s beginning total, and must score at least 5% more than their opponent.   In this case, both sides have 244 points on the table, so that 40% threshold is 98 points.  This is rarely an issue, it’s just to keep players from “peeking” onto a corner of the table, releasing a hail or torpedoes, and vanishing with minimal damage inflicted, yet claiming a victory without ever really engaging in battle.       The French have an convoy of five automated drone cargo ships, entering on the bottom half of the table. Movement on these are 7 hexes a turn, they automatically “lose initiative” and must move first every turn, they make one hex-side facing change per turn, have 3 in shields on all facings, and 10 damage points. The French get 20 points for every one of these that successfully get off the top end of the map sheet. The British get 20 points for every ship they destroy. // Terrestrial gravity rules. One hex of gravitational drift toward the planet is assessed against any non-aerospace ship (including cargo ships) that end their movement within 10 hexes of the planet’s outer rim. Any encounter with a hex that is even partially covered by the planet graphic results in immediate and total destruction of the ship. // Scoring in this scenario is RAID-based, i.e., players get points for enemy warships destroyed / crippled / driven off … NOT remaining ships on the table at the end of the game. To claim a victory, players need to score at least 40% their opponent’s beginning total, and must score at least 5% more than their opponent. In this case, both sides have 244 points on the table, so that 40% threshold is 98 points. This is rarely an issue, it’s just to keep players from “peeking” onto a corner of the table, releasing a hail or torpedoes, and vanishing with minimal damage inflicted, yet claiming a victory without ever really engaging in battle.
A wide angle of the whole map sheet at the end of movement, Turn 1.  The French cargo convoy has entered near the planet.  The British then came on through the hexes specified for their entry hexes (upper right, indicated by red arrows).  With hard jackknife turns to starboard, Damon seems to be trying to set up long-range broadsides on the cargo ships, but the range really is very long  (just short of 4700 kilometers, the distance between London and Nova Scotia).  Meanwhile, the French, who largely WON initiative aggressively stab onto the board from the lower right, rapidly accelerating to a broadside position.  Payback time!A wide angle of the whole map sheet at the end of movement, Turn 1. The French cargo convoy has entered near the planet. The British then came on through the hexes specified for their entry hexes (upper right, indicated by red arrows). With hard jackknife turns to starboard, Damon seems to be trying to set up long-range broadsides on the cargo ships, but the range really is very long (just short of 4700 kilometers, the distance between London and Nova Scotia). Meanwhile, the French, who largely WON initiative aggressively stab onto the board from the lower right, rapidly accelerating to a broadside position. Payback time!
A close up on that lower right corner of the map, where the French unleash a truly withering broadside straight into the stern of HMS Indefatigable.   Not only is she instantly crippled here, but takes so much damage to her reactors and engines that she’s actually in danger of EXPLODING.  Damon makes the roll, however, and the Indefatigable is only crippled, and in fact will be recovered and towed back to port for eventual repair.  But she’s out of this one, that’s for sure.  Rear guns on the two British cruisers pummel the port bow of the Leclerc, knocking down port bow shields and crippling one sensor array, but otherwise doing little damage. Meanwhile, the aforementioned forward broadsides on the French cargo drones do very little, the range is just too long.  The French are definitely winning this one so far.  A close up on that lower right corner of the map, where the French unleash a truly withering broadside straight into the stern of HMS Indefatigable. Not only is she instantly crippled here, but takes so much damage to her reactors and engines that she’s actually in danger of EXPLODING. Damon makes the roll, however, and the Indefatigable is only crippled, and in fact will be recovered and towed back to port for eventual repair. But she’s out of this one, that’s for sure. Rear guns on the two British cruisers pummel the port bow of the Leclerc, knocking down port bow shields and crippling one sensor array, but otherwise doing little damage. Meanwhile, the aforementioned forward broadsides on the French cargo drones do very little, the range is just too long. The French are definitely winning this one so far.
The French (and by that, I mean MY DUMB ASS), literally snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here.  Rather than simply roll the Leclerc to protect her vulnerable port bow, I totally forget I lost that shield and decelerate instead.  Damon doesn’t waste the opportunity, putting a few of Bellerophon ‘s heavy EPCs into the Leclerc’s totally unshielded port bow.  One 15-teravolt bolt scorches right through the bridge, damaging it.  Another follows up, crippling the Leclerc and actually forcing my commander here (Captain Rafael deChalemonde) to make a captain survival roll.   God, I can’t believe I did that.     Meanwhile, the Bellerophon  and Terpsichore switchback their broadsides closer to the French cargo fleet, finally knocking down the first ship.  The cargo fleet is actually using the planet’s gravity to hedge further away from the British, squeezing a little extra velocity and distance from the planet’s gravity well.    The one piece of good news for the French is that the Bellerophon and Terpsichore are widely separated, allowing the destroyer Calais to S-turn behind her for a torpedo spread into Bellerophon’s stern.  The French (and by that, I mean MY DUMB ASS), literally snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here. Rather than simply roll the Leclerc to protect her vulnerable port bow, I totally forget I lost that shield and decelerate instead. Damon doesn’t waste the opportunity, putting a few of Bellerophon ‘s heavy EPCs into the Leclerc’s totally unshielded port bow. One 15-teravolt bolt scorches right through the bridge, damaging it. Another follows up, crippling the Leclerc and actually forcing my commander here (Captain Rafael deChalemonde) to make a captain survival roll. God, I can’t believe I did that. Meanwhile, the Bellerophon and Terpsichore switchback their broadsides closer to the French cargo fleet, finally knocking down the first ship. The cargo fleet is actually using the planet’s gravity to hedge further away from the British, squeezing a little extra velocity and distance from the planet’s gravity well. The one piece of good news for the French is that the Bellerophon and Terpsichore are widely separated, allowing the destroyer Calais to S-turn behind her for a torpedo spread into Bellerophon’s stern.
The French cargo drones have practically “bounced” off the planet’s atmosphere here, but they’ve still lost a second cargo drone.  Three remain, but they’re already only two turns from the edge of the board!  The Bellerophon, meanwhile, has rolled over on her back, having lost her starboard quarter shields.  This maneuver hopes to shield the starboard quarter from the 8-megakelvin lasers of the two French destroyers, but these Milan-IIs are fast if nothing else.  And with the additional Tactics battle upgrade, they ALWAYS win initiative.  You can see where NRS Corsica and Calais are really putting the speed on here, trying to get at the Bellerophon’s starboard quarter (actually on the left side here, again, because the ship is inverted).  One or two solid volleys in that vulnerable spot will cripple the ship and save the day!   Calais makes it, but can only put in her forward guns.  Inversely, Corsica does NOT make it, but can put her whole broadside into a barrage on Bellerophon’s stern.  The French cargo drones have practically “bounced” off the planet’s atmosphere here, but they’ve still lost a second cargo drone. Three remain, but they’re already only two turns from the edge of the board! The Bellerophon, meanwhile, has rolled over on her back, having lost her starboard quarter shields. This maneuver hopes to shield the starboard quarter from the 8-megakelvin lasers of the two French destroyers, but these Milan-IIs are fast if nothing else. And with the additional Tactics battle upgrade, they ALWAYS win initiative. You can see where NRS Corsica and Calais are really putting the speed on here, trying to get at the Bellerophon’s starboard quarter (actually on the left side here, again, because the ship is inverted). One or two solid volleys in that vulnerable spot will cripple the ship and save the day! Calais makes it, but can only put in her forward guns. Inversely, Corsica does NOT make it, but can put her whole broadside into a barrage on Bellerophon’s stern.
No guts, no glory.  At this point it’s clear I’m not knocking down HMS Bellerphoron, missing shield generator or not.  Damon’s using her enhanced thrust to power away from the threat, and carefully keeping his ship rolled to sure I won’t get another crack at it.  You know, all the things I SHOULD HAVE DONE with the Leclerc!  (Grr … I’m still made at myself for that).  So instead I move to  engage the destroyer Terpsichore.  If I can knock out that ship, and not lose a destroyer myself, I actually still win this game.   The Corsica, at flank speed (14 hexes a turn, 42 kilometers a second, insanely fast in this game), barely makes it in a crazy, hull-groaning turn to starboard, using the planet’s gravity to tug her 45,000 ton frame just into the Terpsichore’s  stern arc … although again … forward guns only.  The Calais gets the broadside, but has to take the calculated risk of nose-diving straight at the planet.  If she loses power now … Sure enough, the French get very lucky here twice.  One, Damon scores only 9 damage points on the third cargo drone, not the 10 he needs to cripple it, and they’re off the table next turn.  SWEET!  Two, the Calais and the Corsica indeed knock out the Terpsichore, with enough 8-megakelvin lasers to cripple her engines.  But three … the Calais is crippled in turn with the Terpsichore’s powerful aft syglex emitter (gravitically-lensed x-ray “laser”) through the bridge.  She’s crashing into that planet at 11 hexes a turn (33 kilometers a second).  BOOM.  So just that fast, I won this game again, and lost this game again.  Have I mentioned how much I love Darkstar?No guts, no glory. At this point it’s clear I’m not knocking down HMS Bellerphoron, missing shield generator or not. Damon’s using her enhanced thrust to power away from the threat, and carefully keeping his ship rolled to sure I won’t get another crack at it. You know, all the things I SHOULD HAVE DONE with the Leclerc! (Grr … I’m still made at myself for that). So instead I move to engage the destroyer Terpsichore. If I can knock out that ship, and not lose a destroyer myself, I actually still win this game. The Corsica, at flank speed (14 hexes a turn, 42 kilometers a second, insanely fast in this game), barely makes it in a crazy, hull-groaning turn to starboard, using the planet’s gravity to tug her 45,000 ton frame just into the Terpsichore’s stern arc … although again … forward guns only. The Calais gets the broadside, but has to take the calculated risk of nose-diving straight at the planet. If she loses power now … Sure enough, the French get very lucky here twice. One, Damon scores only 9 damage points on the third cargo drone, not the 10 he needs to cripple it, and they’re off the table next turn. SWEET! Two, the Calais and the Corsica indeed knock out the Terpsichore, with enough 8-megakelvin lasers to cripple her engines. But three … the Calais is crippled in turn with the Terpsichore’s powerful aft syglex emitter (gravitically-lensed x-ray “laser”) through the bridge. She’s crashing into that planet at 11 hexes a turn (33 kilometers a second). BOOM. So just that fast, I won this game again, and lost this game again. Have I mentioned how much I love Darkstar?
Final situation and scoring.  Now there is an ERROR in that math … I forgot that the Indefatigable is an 84 point ship, not a 70 point ship (+20% cost for her gunnery accuracy bonus).  So my score was technically 194, not 180.  Still, at 194 to 214, Damon wins by 20 points, or 8.2%, which clears the 5% he needs to claim a win.  Final situation and scoring. Now there is an ERROR in that math … I forgot that the Indefatigable is an 84 point ship, not a 70 point ship (+20% cost for her gunnery accuracy bonus). So my score was technically 194, not 180. Still, at 194 to 214, Damon wins by 20 points, or 8.2%, which clears the 5% he needs to claim a win.
The Calais (left) and Leclerc (right) after the battle.  Actually the Calais doesn’t look like this now, she’s little more than a kilometer-wide hole in the surface of that planet.   Captain DID make his survival roll (both of them, one for the hit through the bridge and one for the crash of the ship in general), but it doesn’t matter.  This was his third ship lost in combat.  So Commander Leon Pelegras is now “promoted” back to the academy to teach classes or run a supply base or some such.  There was a backstory in my commander logs talking about how he was in this task force because he was desperately in love with a French-Algerian aerospace pilot on one of the New Roman carriers, a woman he’ll probably never see again now.  THANKS A LOT, DAMON!  :D  The Calais (left) and Leclerc (right) after the battle. Actually the Calais doesn’t look like this now, she’s little more than a kilometer-wide hole in the surface of that planet. Captain DID make his survival roll (both of them, one for the hit through the bridge and one for the crash of the ship in general), but it doesn’t matter. This was his third ship lost in combat. So Commander Leon Pelegras is now “promoted” back to the academy to teach classes or run a supply base or some such. There was a backstory in my commander logs talking about how he was in this task force because he was desperately in love with a French-Algerian aerospace pilot on one of the New Roman carriers, a woman he’ll probably never see again now. THANKS A LOT, DAMON! :D
The murderously neat precision of New Roman laser fire is apparent here in the damage profile of the HMS Indomitable.  She had a 30% chance of detonation, but Damon rolled a 38 on percentile dice.  This ship ALMOST wound up as an aroura borealis light show in the atmosphere of this planet.  Terpsichore (right) took much less damage, but it takes less to cripple a destroyer, especially when I got lucky and rolled a 5 on the 5+ required to cripple a destroyer with two boxes ticked off in critical components.The murderously neat precision of New Roman laser fire is apparent here in the damage profile of the HMS Indomitable. She had a 30% chance of detonation, but Damon rolled a 38 on percentile dice. This ship ALMOST wound up as an aroura borealis light show in the atmosphere of this planet. Terpsichore (right) took much less damage, but it takes less to cripple a destroyer, especially when I got lucky and rolled a 5 on the 5+ required to cripple a destroyer with two boxes ticked off in critical components.

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
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I had a great game of Darkstar on Sunday with my friend @damon, who’s been playing his British heavy cruiser-based battlegroup for a while now and building it up to where he’s actually making some progress and buying some upgrades for his commanders and warships.

Accordingly, I “judged him ready” for a battle in a gas giant, and just for good measure, decided to put him up against some of my “core” campaign commanders.  In this game, his battlegroup (Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser Bellephoron and Falklands-class destroyer Terpsichore) was reinforced by the older Indomitable class light cruiser Indefatigable, would meet up with my New Roman Alliance commanders (in this case, French), of the Leclerc battlegroup (Foch-Hispaniola class light cruiser Leclerc escorted by the two Milan-II class destroyers Corsica and Calais).

The battle would take place in the violent maelstrom of a gas giant’s atmosphere.  Gravity is beyond deadly in these games, to say nothing of the winds, the lightning, the atmospheric pressure, and so on.

BACKGROUND:

The Malvinas Sigma gas giant has long been a valuable source of H₃ “heavy hydrogen”, a magnetically-charged isotope  useful in the deuterium-tritium reactors of most starships.  Normally this has to be manufactured in expensive facilities capable of generating the high levels of heat and pressure required for this H₃ bonding process.  When a natural source of “heavy hydrogen” is found, however, it represents a valuable commercial and cost-saving resource.

An unknown criminal or terrorist organization has carried out a successful cyber attack on three United Nations H₃ harvesting stations deep within the turbulent atmosphere of the Malvinas Sigma gas giant.  The virus caused a cascading systems failure throughout the stations, notably to their antigravity station keeping systems.  They are now sinking into the atmosphere and are requesting immediate assistance.

Unfortunately, the stations are getting too much help, if anything.  Task forces of both the British Royal Navy and the New Roman Alliance, have responded.  Both governments have ignored each other’s warnings to stay clear, and have now given permission to their battlegroups to open fire on enemy ships.

Special rules and scenario set up are listed here.  In summary: both Damon’s British warships and my French warships have to rush in, try to dock with these sinking atmospheric processing stations, save them if they can, or at least stay docked with them for as long as possible to rescue as many people, as much data, and as much resources / equipment as possible.  All the while, of course, there’s a full-blown shooting war between the two battlegroups, and of course the planet itself is trying to kill them, as the stations themselves are over 1,400 kilometers deep in the gas giant’s atmosphere.  This is a planet that is, no kidding I have done the geometry on this, so large that even at the scale of 180km / hex, the CURVATURE of the planet barely registers (using Jupiter as an example).  Gravity, needless to say, is everyone’s enemy here.Special rules and scenario set up are listed here. In summary: both Damon’s British warships and my French warships have to rush in, try to dock with these sinking atmospheric processing stations, save them if they can, or at least stay docked with them for as long as possible to rescue as many people, as much data, and as much resources / equipment as possible. All the while, of course, there’s a full-blown shooting war between the two battlegroups, and of course the planet itself is trying to kill them, as the stations themselves are over 1,400 kilometers deep in the gas giant’s atmosphere. This is a planet that is, no kidding I have done the geometry on this, so large that even at the scale of 180km / hex, the CURVATURE of the planet barely registers (using Jupiter as an example). Gravity, needless to say, is everyone’s enemy here.
So here the British and French  make their approaches, my French from the bottom of the map and Damon’s British from the top.  Note we both decided to start INSIDE the planet’s atmosphere (left half of the map).  There’s a speed limit here, if a ship is ever moving faster than 12 hexes a turn, armor plating starts melting off the bow.  So here the British and French make their approaches, my French from the bottom of the map and Damon’s British from the top. Note we both decided to start INSIDE the planet’s atmosphere (left half of the map). There’s a speed limit here, if a ship is ever moving faster than 12 hexes a turn, armor plating starts melting off the bow.
Note that gravity in these games is much, much stronger than in other Darkstar games.  Depending on your speed and direction, it can not only pull your ship “down” at the end of your movement (and more than one hex too, in some cases), but also affect the ship’s velocity.  If your ship’s velocity ever gets too low, it can actually change your direction.  Here we see Damon’s ships come on the map.  The green dotted line shows how the ships move in game terms, given conditions set by their depth in the atmosphere, direction, and speed.  In short terms, at the end of their movement they are pulled one hex left, or “down” in this case, and the velocity reduced by one.  Of course, gravity is effecting the ship’s course the whole time, so the blue tracks show what’s “really” happening.  Note the destroyer Terpsichore, which Damon navigated perfectly, using the planet’s gravity to actually put him into position to dock with the first station on Turn 1.  He He enters at velocity of 7, travels 7 hexes, he puts all 6 thrust into deceleration, thus reducing velocity to 1, gravity pulls him down one hex, AND reduces his speed from1 to zero, a perfect slingshot that puts his 45,000 ton destroyer into position to dock with the first installation (ends movement in the hex at velocity zero).  Cruisers Bellerophon and Indefatigable power forward to cover the rescue attempt from French knavery.  Well done!  Even so, opening barrages from French lasers (very long ranged and pin-point accurate) slash into Indefatigable’s starboard bow.Note that gravity in these games is much, much stronger than in other Darkstar games. Depending on your speed and direction, it can not only pull your ship “down” at the end of your movement (and more than one hex too, in some cases), but also affect the ship’s velocity. If your ship’s velocity ever gets too low, it can actually change your direction. Here we see Damon’s ships come on the map. The green dotted line shows how the ships move in game terms, given conditions set by their depth in the atmosphere, direction, and speed. In short terms, at the end of their movement they are pulled one hex left, or “down” in this case, and the velocity reduced by one. Of course, gravity is effecting the ship’s course the whole time, so the blue tracks show what’s “really” happening. Note the destroyer Terpsichore, which Damon navigated perfectly, using the planet’s gravity to actually put him into position to dock with the first station on Turn 1. He He enters at velocity of 7, travels 7 hexes, he puts all 6 thrust into deceleration, thus reducing velocity to 1, gravity pulls him down one hex, AND reduces his speed from1 to zero, a perfect slingshot that puts his 45,000 ton destroyer into position to dock with the first installation (ends movement in the hex at velocity zero). Cruisers Bellerophon and Indefatigable power forward to cover the rescue attempt from French knavery. Well done! Even so, opening barrages from French lasers (very long ranged and pin-point accurate) slash into Indefatigable’s starboard bow.
Meanwhile, my two French destroyers Corsica and Calais have also docked with the first station.  The reason I’m docked with two ships is that at the end of each combat phase, each docked ships gets a 5+ roll attempt to save the station.  Basically, we’re dropping in new software to purge to cyberterrorist virus, our engineers are trying to repair the station’s antigravity generators, our reactors are hooked up to jump-start the station’s powerplant, etc.  You are vulnerable while docked, however.  Yet Damon makes his first roll with the Terpichore, while my TWO destroyers both miss.  So my destroyers choose to remain docked while Terpsichore uncouples and powers back up to maneuvering speed, back into the fight.  Meanwhile, my light cruiser Leclerc fish-hooks a risky turn STRAIGHT DOWN into the planet’s atmosphere to get a broadside on HMS Indefatigable, which is getting aggressive along with Bellerophon at that center station.  Frontal 8-megakelvin laser arrays of my two destroyers take issue with that, opening the argument at 1600 km range, while the broadside of the light cruiser Leclerc absolutely burns away Indefatigable’s starboard side.  Class IV torpedoes rush in to finish the job, and even though Indefatigable largely misses these with her point-defense guns, the scrappy little Terpsischore shoots them down.  This leaves the Bellerophon’s point-defense guns free to shoot up my scouts, which are all lost in a hail of British fire. Meanwhile, my two French destroyers Corsica and Calais have also docked with the first station. The reason I’m docked with two ships is that at the end of each combat phase, each docked ships gets a 5+ roll attempt to save the station. Basically, we’re dropping in new software to purge to cyberterrorist virus, our engineers are trying to repair the station’s antigravity generators, our reactors are hooked up to jump-start the station’s powerplant, etc. You are vulnerable while docked, however. Yet Damon makes his first roll with the Terpichore, while my TWO destroyers both miss. So my destroyers choose to remain docked while Terpsichore uncouples and powers back up to maneuvering speed, back into the fight. Meanwhile, my light cruiser Leclerc fish-hooks a risky turn STRAIGHT DOWN into the planet’s atmosphere to get a broadside on HMS Indefatigable, which is getting aggressive along with Bellerophon at that center station. Frontal 8-megakelvin laser arrays of my two destroyers take issue with that, opening the argument at 1600 km range, while the broadside of the light cruiser Leclerc absolutely burns away Indefatigable’s starboard side. Class IV torpedoes rush in to finish the job, and even though Indefatigable largely misses these with her point-defense guns, the scrappy little Terpsischore shoots them down. This leaves the Bellerophon’s point-defense guns free to shoot up my scouts, which are all lost in a hail of British fire.
Things start to turn around for my French.  Although the Bellerophon was in the same hex as the center station last turn, she was moving at 2, basically sailing PAST the station too fast to dock with it (6 kilometers per second, to be exact).  Meanwhile, my two destroyers finally saved the first station, uncoupled, and are now pushing forward.  The Indefatigable is now turning into us, rolling over on her back in an attempt to protect her wounded starboard side, especially the starboard bow which now has NO SHIELDS.  No good, the nimble Leclerc AGAIN pivots around in a fishhook and powers up out of the planet’s atmosphere, ready to put aft guns against the Indefatigable’s starboard bow.  This is an incredibly risky move, note is also exposes my fantail (and all my engines and reactors) to the Indefatigable’s broadside at just 720 kilometers (spitting distance in this game).  Nor do my two destroyers actually have the best options, this is the only position that their previous location, facing, thrust limitations, and planet’s gravity allow them to be WITHOUT beiong the broadside of the Terpsichore and especially the massive Bellerophon (which for the record outweighs ANYTHING else on the battle by at least 50%).  But as you can see by the movement tracks, gravity is a killer here, always pulling mercilessly down in varying degrees depending on where you’re positioned and which direction you’re facing.  Meanwhile, Bellerophon has powered back into position, and docked with the center station, along with the escort destroyer Terpsichore … SO THE REAL QUESTION – who lives and who dies in this turn?  Well, my torpedoes from the Corsica and Calais get through the Indefatigable’s starboard bow, one warhead detonates in the forward magazine, another detonates in the bridge.  That’s the end of that ship.  The Leclerc pays a hideous price, however.  She’s left with one whole reactor and one whole engine array down, with another engine damaged.  Damon has to roll a 3+ on d6 to cripple her … thank God he rolls a 1.  We did the  math and calculated that Leclerc JUST had escape velocity to make it off the map if crippled … but I’m glad I didn’t have to cut it that close.  Things start to turn around for my French. Although the Bellerophon was in the same hex as the center station last turn, she was moving at 2, basically sailing PAST the station too fast to dock with it (6 kilometers per second, to be exact). Meanwhile, my two destroyers finally saved the first station, uncoupled, and are now pushing forward. The Indefatigable is now turning into us, rolling over on her back in an attempt to protect her wounded starboard side, especially the starboard bow which now has NO SHIELDS. No good, the nimble Leclerc AGAIN pivots around in a fishhook and powers up out of the planet’s atmosphere, ready to put aft guns against the Indefatigable’s starboard bow. This is an incredibly risky move, note is also exposes my fantail (and all my engines and reactors) to the Indefatigable’s broadside at just 720 kilometers (spitting distance in this game). Nor do my two destroyers actually have the best options, this is the only position that their previous location, facing, thrust limitations, and planet’s gravity allow them to be WITHOUT beiong the broadside of the Terpsichore and especially the massive Bellerophon (which for the record outweighs ANYTHING else on the battle by at least 50%). But as you can see by the movement tracks, gravity is a killer here, always pulling mercilessly down in varying degrees depending on where you’re positioned and which direction you’re facing. Meanwhile, Bellerophon has powered back into position, and docked with the center station, along with the escort destroyer Terpsichore … SO THE REAL QUESTION – who lives and who dies in this turn? Well, my torpedoes from the Corsica and Calais get through the Indefatigable’s starboard bow, one warhead detonates in the forward magazine, another detonates in the bridge. That’s the end of that ship. The Leclerc pays a hideous price, however. She’s left with one whole reactor and one whole engine array down, with another engine damaged. Damon has to roll a 3+ on d6 to cripple her … thank God he rolls a 1. We did the math and calculated that Leclerc JUST had escape velocity to make it off the map if crippled … but I’m glad I didn’t have to cut it that close.
So the British are winning in stations, but so far the French were winning in ships.  The Indefatigable, burning and adrift, careens off the bottom edge of the table – but because she did not technically leave off the left side of the map, she’s considered to have a “gravity slingshot” that hurls her wreck clear of the crushing, fiery grave awaiting at the core of the gas giant. Meanwhile, the British have saved the center station.  Yet Damon chooses to remain docked for now.  After all, if any ships are now crippled, they’re moored to the station, which is stabilized, so the ships won’t fall to their doom in a super-pressurized ocean of liquid, metallic hydrogen.    My three French ships take advantage of this British kindness, with the damaged Leclerc and my two destroyers weaving back and forth from the relative safety above the cloud layers, pouring laser broadsides into the Terpsichore, who has now lost her forward shields.  Hey, my French gunners get a bonus for firing at moored ships, and damn it, we still owe the British for that stunt they pulled at Mers el Kabir!  Yeah, you Brits thought we FORGOT about that?  So the British are winning in stations, but so far the French were winning in ships. The Indefatigable, burning and adrift, careens off the bottom edge of the table – but because she did not technically leave off the left side of the map, she’s considered to have a “gravity slingshot” that hurls her wreck clear of the crushing, fiery grave awaiting at the core of the gas giant. Meanwhile, the British have saved the center station. Yet Damon chooses to remain docked for now. After all, if any ships are now crippled, they’re moored to the station, which is stabilized, so the ships won’t fall to their doom in a super-pressurized ocean of liquid, metallic hydrogen. My three French ships take advantage of this British kindness, with the damaged Leclerc and my two destroyers weaving back and forth from the relative safety above the cloud layers, pouring laser broadsides into the Terpsichore, who has now lost her forward shields. Hey, my French gunners get a bonus for firing at moored ships, and damn it, we still owe the British for that stunt they pulled at Mers el Kabir! Yeah, you Brits thought we FORGOT about that?
The light cruiser Leclerc finally decides that discretion is the better part of valor, and vectors off the bottom edge of the table.  No, it’s not the most glorious decision.  But it also denies Damon 112 victory points (yes, that light cruiser is very advanced and upgraded twice – she’s expensive!)  Meanwhile, my destroyers Corsica (now quite heavily damaged as well) and Calais have finally drilled their way out of the atmosphere but continue to pour long-ranged laser fire down into the Terpsichore.  Yes, the range is long, 2900 km at this point, but I have +2 targeting and enhanced CIC suites, the Terpsichore has NO forward shields, and I  get another +1 for firing at a moored ship. I have to inflict a lot of collateral damage on the Royal Navy here to make up for the fact that Damon has claimed two stations while I only have one.  I  hit the Terpsichore’s forward magazines, which forces her to make a power check.  I fail that roll, though, and she is NOT crippled.  Her crew does “bail out” of the ship, however, probably heading to the station’s pub after I knock out a SECOND “crew facilities” compartment (both port AND starboard pubs have been knocked out!) and officer’s quarters (we lost all our gin!)The light cruiser Leclerc finally decides that discretion is the better part of valor, and vectors off the bottom edge of the table. No, it’s not the most glorious decision. But it also denies Damon 112 victory points (yes, that light cruiser is very advanced and upgraded twice – she’s expensive!) Meanwhile, my destroyers Corsica (now quite heavily damaged as well) and Calais have finally drilled their way out of the atmosphere but continue to pour long-ranged laser fire down into the Terpsichore. Yes, the range is long, 2900 km at this point, but I have +2 targeting and enhanced CIC suites, the Terpsichore has NO forward shields, and I get another +1 for firing at a moored ship. I have to inflict a lot of collateral damage on the Royal Navy here to make up for the fact that Damon has claimed two stations while I only have one. I hit the Terpsichore’s forward magazines, which forces her to make a power check. I fail that roll, though, and she is NOT crippled. Her crew does “bail out” of the ship, however, probably heading to the station’s pub after I knock out a SECOND “crew facilities” compartment (both port AND starboard pubs have been knocked out!) and officer’s quarters (we lost all our gin!)
Now at a range of 4500 kilometers, I try for one more parting shot with my two destroyers aft turrets.  I can’t hang around much longer, the Bellerophon has uncoupled from the station and is now thundering up out of that jovian atmosphere, she outweighs each of my destroyers by well over 3:1.  I have damaged the Terpsichore’s bridge, I was hoping a lucky shot could just maybe hit that bridge again and leave her technically crippled for full victory points based on her scenario point value.  But since I was only able to force her to evacuate, I get half value for her, and full value for the crippled Indefatigable.  Meanwhile, none of my ships were crippled or FORCED to break off by crew casualties or core compartment damage (the Leclerc withdrew on her own volition and under her own power).  But if I lose one of these destroyers now, and it would only take one solid broadside landing from the Bellerophon on the stern of the damaged Corsica … That’s 66 points to Damon and an easy win for the British.  Better to play a smart, cool, measured, tactical game, and settle for the draw.  BRITISH SCORE:  6 French scouts shot down plus two stations rescued = 6 + 100 + 100 = 206.  French Score: 70 for crippling the Indefatigable, 100 for our one station, and 25 (half points) for forcing the Terpsichore to evacuate = 195.  So Damon wins by 11, but in a campaign game you have to win by 5% or it’s considered by command “too close to call.”  We each started with 244 points, and 5% = 12.2 … so the French steal a very sneaky, pretty cheesy draw. Now at a range of 4500 kilometers, I try for one more parting shot with my two destroyers aft turrets. I can’t hang around much longer, the Bellerophon has uncoupled from the station and is now thundering up out of that jovian atmosphere, she outweighs each of my destroyers by well over 3:1. I have damaged the Terpsichore’s bridge, I was hoping a lucky shot could just maybe hit that bridge again and leave her technically crippled for full victory points based on her scenario point value. But since I was only able to force her to evacuate, I get half value for her, and full value for the crippled Indefatigable. Meanwhile, none of my ships were crippled or FORCED to break off by crew casualties or core compartment damage (the Leclerc withdrew on her own volition and under her own power). But if I lose one of these destroyers now, and it would only take one solid broadside landing from the Bellerophon on the stern of the damaged Corsica … That’s 66 points to Damon and an easy win for the British. Better to play a smart, cool, measured, tactical game, and settle for the draw. BRITISH SCORE: 6 French scouts shot down plus two stations rescued = 6 + 100 + 100 = 206. French Score: 70 for crippling the Indefatigable, 100 for our one station, and 25 (half points) for forcing the Terpsichore to evacuate = 195. So Damon wins by 11, but in a campaign game you have to win by 5% or it’s considered by command “too close to call.” We each started with 244 points, and 5% = 12.2 … so the French steal a very sneaky, pretty cheesy draw.
The damage charts for the HMS Terpsichore (left) and the HMS Indefatigable (right).  You can see how badly French lasers cut Terpsichore to shreds, one more well-placed hit on the bridge and she’s no longer operational, resigned to weeks in dry dock.  The Indefatigable wasn’t so lucky, shown in red is the torpedo that landed basically against the bulkhead of her bridge.  She’ll actually fail her ship recovery check, but HMS Bellerophon uses her “Commander’s Luck” upgrade to re-roll the result, and saves her.  In narrative terms, Bellerophon was able to launch a cutter and yacht loaded with damage control engineers, helped saved the Indefatigable, and tow her up and out of the gas giant’s atmosphere after the battle.The damage charts for the HMS Terpsichore (left) and the HMS Indefatigable (right). You can see how badly French lasers cut Terpsichore to shreds, one more well-placed hit on the bridge and she’s no longer operational, resigned to weeks in dry dock. The Indefatigable wasn’t so lucky, shown in red is the torpedo that landed basically against the bulkhead of her bridge. She’ll actually fail her ship recovery check, but HMS Bellerophon uses her “Commander’s Luck” upgrade to re-roll the result, and saves her. In narrative terms, Bellerophon was able to launch a cutter and yacht loaded with damage control engineers, helped saved the Indefatigable, and tow her up and out of the gas giant’s atmosphere after the battle.
Some of the French ships after the battle.  You can see where the Leclerc (left) had her portside reactor and centreline engine blown away, and suffered damage to her starboard reactors as well.  She straight-out got lucky here, with 7 critical compartments hit and light cruisers starting on a 10+, Damon only needed a 3+ to cripple her JUST as she broke free of the planet’s atmosphere (10 starting number– 7 crit hits = 3+ target).  But Damon rolled a 1, and Leclerc will return to port under her own power.   Note the -3 for sensor damage, Leclerc lost THREE sensor suites in that fight, by the time she frinally powered off the table she was practically firing half-blind.  One of her escorting destroyers, NRS Corsica, was hit twice by jovian lightning, and more than once by British guns.  Three mass driver arrays are lost, as well as two maneuvering thrusters, never a good thing in a gas giant battle.  Some of the French ships after the battle. You can see where the Leclerc (left) had her portside reactor and centreline engine blown away, and suffered damage to her starboard reactors as well. She straight-out got lucky here, with 7 critical compartments hit and light cruisers starting on a 10+, Damon only needed a 3+ to cripple her JUST as she broke free of the planet’s atmosphere (10 starting number– 7 crit hits = 3+ target). But Damon rolled a 1, and Leclerc will return to port under her own power. Note the -3 for sensor damage, Leclerc lost THREE sensor suites in that fight, by the time she frinally powered off the table she was practically firing half-blind. One of her escorting destroyers, NRS Corsica, was hit twice by jovian lightning, and more than once by British guns. Three mass driver arrays are lost, as well as two maneuvering thrusters, never a good thing in a gas giant battle.

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 7
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Here is a quick peek at the Darkstar live game set to begin in about 1 hour. (1700 GMT, 21 April). If anyone is interested in spectating or participating, send me a PM and I’ll send the link to the web conference.

Hope to see some of you there, and Happy Sunday!

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

Battle Report: Prussians (Elessar2590) vs. US Navy (Oriskany)

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 9
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Well, it had to happen sooner or later.  Here’s another Darkstar battle report, this time between @elessar2590 and myself (game Saturday, April 13).  This time the the game took place in the upper layers of a gas giant atmosphere, where factors like jovian lighting, hyper-velocity winds of 400+ kph, titanium-melting heat, hull-crushing pressure, and gravity like you will never see anywhere else on a Darkstar table are almost as dangerous as the enemy!

Here’s the opening map.  Even at a scale of I hex = 180 kilometers, a jovian gas giant will NEVER fit on a table … you won’t even meaningfully see the curvature of the planet’s sphere.  Seriously, on this scale Jupiter is almost 900 hexes across, that’s 23 complete Darkstar Maps.  Yes, I have measured it, and yes … you can technically see the curvature, but no … the curvature is so small at that scale it literally has no game effect (i.e., always stays within the same row of hexes).  Elessar2590 has the Hipper class light cruiser KMS Koniggratz, the Maas-class destroyer KMS Sauer, and the Emden-class frigate KMS Jena.  I have the sleek, beautiful, powerful, but expensive and somewhat vulnerable San Antonio-class light cruiser USS Denver, and the Valcour-class destroyer USS Vincennes. The objective is to fight over the atmospheric gas giant station floating in the upper layers of the gas giant, much like Bespin’s Cloud City.Here’s the opening map. Even at a scale of I hex = 180 kilometers, a jovian gas giant will NEVER fit on a table … you won’t even meaningfully see the curvature of the planet’s sphere. Seriously, on this scale Jupiter is almost 900 hexes across, that’s 23 complete Darkstar Maps. Yes, I have measured it, and yes … you can technically see the curvature, but no … the curvature is so small at that scale it literally has no game effect (i.e., always stays within the same row of hexes). Elessar2590 has the Hipper class light cruiser KMS Koniggratz, the Maas-class destroyer KMS Sauer, and the Emden-class frigate KMS Jena. I have the sleek, beautiful, powerful, but expensive and somewhat vulnerable San Antonio-class light cruiser USS Denver, and the Valcour-class destroyer USS Vincennes. The objective is to fight over the atmospheric gas giant station floating in the upper layers of the gas giant, much like Bespin’s Cloud City.
Here is a brief overview of the special rules for games on gas giant tables.  This sheet is from a previous gas giant battle, where the gas giant was on the other side of the map (pretty much just reverse all the “left” and “right” notations).  As you can tell, the gravity here is strong enough to affect your ship ANYWHERE on the table, it can actually change your direction of movement and your velocity, and anything that leaves the right edge of the map is just … gone … crushed by the 10,000 atmospheres of pressure, burnt to ash by the heat, and sucked down to crushing oblivious by the inescapable gravity of this planet that’s so big it’s practically a failed star.Here is a brief overview of the special rules for games on gas giant tables. This sheet is from a previous gas giant battle, where the gas giant was on the other side of the map (pretty much just reverse all the “left” and “right” notations). As you can tell, the gravity here is strong enough to affect your ship ANYWHERE on the table, it can actually change your direction of movement and your velocity, and anything that leaves the right edge of the map is just … gone … crushed by the 10,000 atmospheres of pressure, burnt to ash by the heat, and sucked down to crushing oblivious by the inescapable gravity of this planet that’s so big it’s practically a failed star.
The Americans and Prussians make their initial approaches.  The Americans go for a bow-on approach, intent on launching a full spread of Mk 48 gravitic torpedoes (“14” counter).  The Prussians, despite losing initiative for the most part, fire off with front guns except for the scrappy little frigate Jena, who turned fast enough to preset her fearsome little broadside.  Hey, don’t laugh, she scores a lot of hits! The Americans and Prussians make their initial approaches. The Americans go for a bow-on approach, intent on launching a full spread of Mk 48 gravitic torpedoes (“14” counter). The Prussians, despite losing initiative for the most part, fire off with front guns except for the scrappy little frigate Jena, who turned fast enough to preset her fearsome little broadside. Hey, don’t laugh, she scores a lot of hits!
 I get lucky once again and largely win initiative.  So as the Prussians make a port turn toward me (fighting the planet’s gravity as they pull out of their shallow dive, I’m able to sidestep to starboard and then cut a hard turn to port, dropping in directly astern with a full broadside.  Excellent gunnery position, really the best spot in the game for a broadside, the problem is I am now spearing down like a javelin directly toward the gas giant’s atmosphere.  If one of my ships loses power now … And again the Jena cuts behind me, ready to drop a point-blank broadside of her own.  The gunfire is insane.  Four of my torpedoes get through the mass drivers and the shields, slamming into the stern of the Koniggratz.  This, followed up by the blistering broadside of the Denver’s EPC batteries, quickly cripples the ship.  FULL DISCLOSURE: We forgot to fire Elessar2590’s scouts at my torpedoes, he WOULD have shot at least one of them down, this MIGHT have made a difference, but would have just meant I would have to fire ALL Denver’s guns against the Koniggratz.  As it stands, the Denver’s lasers swivel on the escort destroyer Sauer, slicing her open so the guns and smaller lasers of the destroyer Vincennes can finish her off as well.  Just that fast, the Americans have torn the heart out of the Prussian battlegroup.  However, the little Jena pounds away at the Vincennes’ stern, and actually leaves her with fires in engineering.  As they were being crippled … the AFT guns of the Koniggratz and Sauer also hammered into the port bow of the Vincennes, detonating her forward magazine.  Vincennes has a 4+ chance of being crippled at this point, her life hangs by a literal 50-50 thread … I get lucky once again and largely win initiative. So as the Prussians make a port turn toward me (fighting the planet’s gravity as they pull out of their shallow dive, I’m able to sidestep to starboard and then cut a hard turn to port, dropping in directly astern with a full broadside. Excellent gunnery position, really the best spot in the game for a broadside, the problem is I am now spearing down like a javelin directly toward the gas giant’s atmosphere. If one of my ships loses power now … And again the Jena cuts behind me, ready to drop a point-blank broadside of her own. The gunfire is insane. Four of my torpedoes get through the mass drivers and the shields, slamming into the stern of the Koniggratz. This, followed up by the blistering broadside of the Denver’s EPC batteries, quickly cripples the ship. FULL DISCLOSURE: We forgot to fire Elessar2590’s scouts at my torpedoes, he WOULD have shot at least one of them down, this MIGHT have made a difference, but would have just meant I would have to fire ALL Denver’s guns against the Koniggratz. As it stands, the Denver’s lasers swivel on the escort destroyer Sauer, slicing her open so the guns and smaller lasers of the destroyer Vincennes can finish her off as well. Just that fast, the Americans have torn the heart out of the Prussian battlegroup. However, the little Jena pounds away at the Vincennes’ stern, and actually leaves her with fires in engineering. As they were being crippled … the AFT guns of the Koniggratz and Sauer also hammered into the port bow of the Vincennes, detonating her forward magazine. Vincennes has a 4+ chance of being crippled at this point, her life hangs by a literal 50-50 thread …
The Vincennes survives!  Elessar2590 rolled a 3, and needed a 4+ to cripple her.  So by the SLENDEREST of margins, the ship retains power long enough to pull a desperate turn to starboard, and full-power blast up out of the planet’s gravity well.  Meanwhile, measuring the last recorded velocity of the Koniggratz and the Sauer (24 km per second),and adjust for gravity, we see where the will actually make it off the top of the map before they are pulled down into the planet’s gravity.  Long story short, they are crippled but will not be destroyed permanently by the planet.  The Vincennes survives! Elessar2590 rolled a 3, and needed a 4+ to cripple her. So by the SLENDEREST of margins, the ship retains power long enough to pull a desperate turn to starboard, and full-power blast up out of the planet’s gravity well. Meanwhile, measuring the last recorded velocity of the Koniggratz and the Sauer (24 km per second),and adjust for gravity, we see where the will actually make it off the top of the map before they are pulled down into the planet’s gravity. Long story short, they are crippled but will not be destroyed permanently by the planet.
Meanwhile, the last little ship Jena, executes an insane little fish-hook turn and again broadsides the stern of the Vincennes.  This time the Vincennes loses power for sure.  But at least now she’s powered up out of a death spin toward the gas giant’s core.  Vincennes will make her recovery check after the battle, and thus will eventually see service again.  Meanwhile, aft guns of the Denver put two EPC bolts through the bridge of the Jena, mercifully ending this battle.  Hey, with the ass-kickings that I’ve taken in Valor & Victory and AirWarC21, I deserved to win a game ONE of these days.  :D  Meanwhile, the last little ship Jena, executes an insane little fish-hook turn and again broadsides the stern of the Vincennes. This time the Vincennes loses power for sure. But at least now she’s powered up out of a death spin toward the gas giant’s core. Vincennes will make her recovery check after the battle, and thus will eventually see service again. Meanwhile, aft guns of the Denver put two EPC bolts through the bridge of the Jena, mercifully ending this battle. Hey, with the ass-kickings that I’ve taken in Valor & Victory and AirWarC21, I deserved to win a game ONE of these days. :D
The Koniggratz and the Vincennes after the battle.  The Vincennes will be towed back to port, and after a few weeks in dry dock, will eventually be repaired.  In all, a great day for the American Navy.The Koniggratz and the Vincennes after the battle. The Vincennes will be towed back to port, and after a few weeks in dry dock, will eventually be repaired. In all, a great day for the American Navy.

Live Game! Elessar2590 vs. Oriskany

Tutoring 6
Skill 8
Idea 7
2 Comments

Good afternoon ~

@elessar2590 and I have a live game of Darkstar going on!  If anyone’s interested in spectating, send a PM and we’ll get you in the web conference meeting!

Live Game!  Elessar2590 vs. Oriskany

Heavy Cruiser Clash - British v. Imperial Japan (Damon v. Rasmus)

Tutoring 8
Skill 7
Idea 7
5 Comments

The Japanese and British are at it again, it seems …

So we had @damon and his trusty Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Bellerophon, along with his new destroyer HMS Terpsichore (RIP HMS Essex) looking to take on @rasmus and his Japanese.  But this time, Rasmus decided to set aside his IJN Sendai Byo light cruiser to try one of the new Katana class heavy cruiser, IJN Kama.  To balance the game, I added the oft-crippled but never destroyed Akashi class strike frigate IJN Urakaze and a sister ship. IJN Sakita.

So we’re looking at 172 point game!  No carriers, no aerospace craft, no landing ships …

Just a very unstable red dwarf less than 30 light-seconds away …

That’s right, this battle takes place close to a mineral- and heavy-metal rich planetismal that is desperately close to the systems’ red dwarf planet star.  These stars, while cool (in stellar terms) are typically electromagnetically unstable, and this one is no exception.   At the beginning of combat phase, I’m rolling a d6 to see what the “space weather” is like that turn.

Special rules from the scenario:

BATTLE TAKES PLACE AT A TINY DWARF PLANET EXTREMELY CLOSE TO A RED DWARF STAR

NO GRAVITY – PLANETISMAL IS BARELY 2500 KM ACROSS

(SLIGHTLY LARGER THAN PLUTO)

SHOOTING INTO or THROUGH CLOUD (IONIZED PARTICLES BURNED OFF THE PLANETISMAL’S SURFACE)

-1 TO HIT

NOT CUMULATIVE PER HEX

CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS

D6 BEGINNING OF EACH FIRE PHASE:

1 = NO EFFECT

2 = NO EFFECT

3 = NO EFFECT

4 = -1 TO HIT

5 = -1 TO ALL SHIELDS

6 = -1 TO ALL HIT AND TO ALL SHIELDS

Both sides begin their approach, from the designated entry zones shown by the blue and orange arrows along the top and bottom of the screensBoth sides begin their approach, from the designated entry zones shown by the blue and orange arrows along the top and bottom of the screens
This is the end of Turn 3, both sides are being very reluctant to close quickly, hoping to ping away at least one of each others' destroyers or frigates before closing to gunnery range.  Note the clouds of ionized particles (blasted off the planetismal by the freakishly powerful solar wind here) provide -1 to enemy to hit rolls if they have to shoot into or through at least one hex of clouds. This is the end of Turn 3, both sides are being very reluctant to close quickly, hoping to ping away at least one of each others' destroyers or frigates before closing to gunnery range. Note the clouds of ionized particles (blasted off the planetismal by the freakishly powerful solar wind here) provide -1 to enemy to hit rolls if they have to shoot into or through at least one hex of clouds.
It's not until Turn 4 that we drop out of maximum range brackets.  By now Rasmus is realizing that he frigates won't be able to shoot pretty much anything, the little ships' guns hit hard enough but just won't reach.   So the two frigates accelerate toward the British, firing full frontal torpedo spreads as they go.It's not until Turn 4 that we drop out of maximum range brackets. By now Rasmus is realizing that he frigates won't be able to shoot pretty much anything, the little ships' guns hit hard enough but just won't reach. So the two frigates accelerate toward the British, firing full frontal torpedo spreads as they go.
At last things get up close and personal.  Again Rasmus seems to be rolling out his patented At last things get up close and personal. Again Rasmus seems to be rolling out his patented "send in the Akashi frigates for point-blank fire, while the heavy ship sits back and lobs in heavy salvoes. I'll lose the frigates but take out at least one heavier enemy ship in the process ..." Hey, it's been working for him so far ... Sure enough, it seems to at least sort of work here ... He indeed loses the two frigates, but also takes out the HMS Terpsichore. Thats an even 50-point exchange ... HOWEVER, IJN Sakito also opens a nasty gash in the port quarter of the HMS Bellerophon, which the Kama also adds to with long range gunnery from the bottom of the mapsheet.
Rasmus winds up winning the battle for the Japanese.  The damage to the Terpsichore is enough to leave her crippled on Turn 7.  Meanwhile, Bellerophon's rake of the Kama's stern doesn't hit very much, because previous damage to the Bellerophon has damaged her sensors and he's having a hard time shooting through the EM interference from the star.  The Sendai Byo, meanwhile, causes just enough damage to force another breakoff resolution check (core damage - crew casualties), which the Rasmus winds up winning the battle for the Japanese. The damage to the Terpsichore is enough to leave her crippled on Turn 7. Meanwhile, Bellerophon's rake of the Kama's stern doesn't hit very much, because previous damage to the Bellerophon has damaged her sensors and he's having a hard time shooting through the EM interference from the star. The Sendai Byo, meanwhile, causes just enough damage to force another breakoff resolution check (core damage - crew casualties), which the "Billy Ruffian" sadly fails. She's forced to set a course off the table, which will mean her scenario points will only count half toward the British score (still operational, but retiring).
The British warships at the end of the game.  You can see where the The British warships at the end of the game. You can see where the "Billy Ruffian's" damage on the starboard quarter was critical, piercing into gray "core areas" where most of the crew are when the ship is at general quarters. Hits here trigger die rolls, if your ship fails the roll, the captain is compelled to retire (in other words, the ship "fails a morale check"). The HMS Terpsichore, on the other hand, was hit by EPCs straight through the bridge. The ship and captain will have to make survival / recovery checks. Damon has since survived / won enough battles to buy Commander's Luck, and gets a certain amount of re-roll chances on these checks, which saves the Terpsichore from being scuttled, picked off by Japanese corvettes, or even captured.
Bridge hits have also crippled both Japanese Akashi-class frigates.  You can see how fast these little ships go down.  They're cheap and cheerful, though, and can bring a stinging punch to the game if used with numbers and imagination.  Just don't get too attached.  :D   Bridge hits have also crippled both Japanese Akashi-class frigates. You can see how fast these little ships go down. They're cheap and cheerful, though, and can bring a stinging punch to the game if used with numbers and imagination. Just don't get too attached. :D

Battle Report - Arab League v. Imperial Japan (Drew v. Rasmus)

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
4 Comments

Okay, I am waaaay behind on my battle reports here, so let me do what I can to catch up.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of hosting a live web game with two of Darkstar’s oldest supporters, @muakhah and @rasmus .  This is also the first time Darkstar was played in Asia, which made for some challenging schedules and internet stability issues, but we toughed our way through it.  I also had to keep the web conference a little short since I had a Sitrep Podcast scheduled, but nevertheless we had a great little game where we were able to roll out the Arab League, a faction that’s never been played in the new system and not played at all since 2014.  It was also the first time one of the new “hybrid light cruisers” were played, warships that are part gunnery warship, part light fleet carrier.

I’m happy to report that the game went well, the new faction performed admirably, and the points balance for the new hybrid light cruisers seemed to work great.

So this set up was relatively simple, since we had a new player and we were testing a new faction, a new ship type, and also breaking in a new player on aerspace carriers (albeit a hybrid ship, but still additional rules and considerations to manage).  The Arab League flagship was the Almanzor class light hybrid cruiser Al-Fihri, escorted by the Basra class destroyer Mersin.  The Japanese had the Taiho-class light cruiser Sendai Byo and the Akashi class strike frigate Urakaze.  In short, the Taiho is sleek, fast, high-tech, and expensive (93 points), so by the time Rasmus could So this set up was relatively simple, since we had a new player and we were testing a new faction, a new ship type, and also breaking in a new player on aerspace carriers (albeit a hybrid ship, but still additional rules and considerations to manage). The Arab League flagship was the Almanzor class light hybrid cruiser Al-Fihri, escorted by the Basra class destroyer Mersin. The Japanese had the Taiho-class light cruiser Sendai Byo and the Akashi class strike frigate Urakaze. In short, the Taiho is sleek, fast, high-tech, and expensive (93 points), so by the time Rasmus could "afford" the Sendai Byo and a frigate escort, Drew could afford a full destroyer for his escort (along with the fighters and bombers of Al-Fihri's aerospace group, of course).
Both sides set relatively cautious approaches.  All ships have at least a +1 CIC, making the weapons relatively accurate at long ranges. So no one was overly anxious to mix it up close range.  Also, Drew was launching his fighters and bombers, while Rasmus was launching his torpedoes.  It's usually a good idea to at least try and let aerospace take a swipe out of the enemy before you close to real gunnery ranges.Both sides set relatively cautious approaches. All ships have at least a +1 CIC, making the weapons relatively accurate at long ranges. So no one was overly anxious to mix it up close range. Also, Drew was launching his fighters and bombers, while Rasmus was launching his torpedoes. It's usually a good idea to at least try and let aerospace take a swipe out of the enemy before you close to real gunnery ranges.
It's not until Turn 3 that things start to get nasty.  Rasmus commits the Urakaze strike frigate on a high speed, close-range gunnery run with her deadly little plasma projectors, along with Ki-45 It's not until Turn 3 that things start to get nasty. Rasmus commits the Urakaze strike frigate on a high speed, close-range gunnery run with her deadly little plasma projectors, along with Ki-45 "Toryu" (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes from the Sendai Byo and the Urakaze. Meanwhile, Arab League fighters and bombers launch an aerospace ordinance strike at the Urakaze, aiming everything straight for her engines and reactors. Most torpedoes and missiles are shot down, but gunnery of both sides leave the Urakaze crippled and the destroyer Mersin heavily mauled. Also, Japanese scouts shoot down two Arab League bombers.
Now standing alone, Sendai Byo reverses course and sets up another broadside on the destroyer Mersin.  The more lightly-armed Al-Fihri tries to respond with a broadside, but the destroyer Mersin can't quite get out of the way and takes another hammering from Japanese EPCs and lasers.  Meanwhile, Arab League bombers and fighters race back to the Al-Fihri, hoping to land to re-arm and perhaps launch another missile and torpedo strike. Now standing alone, Sendai Byo reverses course and sets up another broadside on the destroyer Mersin. The more lightly-armed Al-Fihri tries to respond with a broadside, but the destroyer Mersin can't quite get out of the way and takes another hammering from Japanese EPCs and lasers. Meanwhile, Arab League bombers and fighters race back to the Al-Fihri, hoping to land to re-arm and perhaps launch another missile and torpedo strike.
Another Japanese torpedo strike is fended off, barely, and Japanese scouts are shot down as well trying to make a gunnery run or shoot down Arab League bombers as they try to land on the Al Fihri.  Nevertheless, another pin-point accurate broadside from the Sendai Byo leaves the destroyer Mersin crippled and adrift in space. Another Japanese torpedo strike is fended off, barely, and Japanese scouts are shot down as well trying to make a gunnery run or shoot down Arab League bombers as they try to land on the Al Fihri. Nevertheless, another pin-point accurate broadside from the Sendai Byo leaves the destroyer Mersin crippled and adrift in space.
This is the end of Turn 5, and sadly, this is where we have to call the game so I can make my other appointment.  Here are the two ships that didn't make it, the Basra class destroyer Mersin and the Akashi-class strike frigate Urakaze.  You can see where both ships have been cored completely through, the Mersin from port to starboard, and the Urakaze from bow to stern.  This is the end of Turn 5, and sadly, this is where we have to call the game so I can make my other appointment. Here are the two ships that didn't make it, the Basra class destroyer Mersin and the Akashi-class strike frigate Urakaze. You can see where both ships have been cored completely through, the Mersin from port to starboard, and the Urakaze from bow to stern.
As the game stands, this skirmish is a very narrow Japanese victory, with the Al-Fihri still operational (unscathed, in fact) and almost a full aerospace group (74 points in total).  Meanwhile, the Japanese have the light cruiser Sendai Pyo, a little beat up and worse for wear (core damage has forced break-off resolution checks) but she's okay for now (91 points, as she's lost  her two scouts).  All that saif, with three more turns (usually these go eight turns), Drew and Al Fihri really could have turned this around.  The Sendai Byo has the Al Fihri outgunned, to be sure.  But the Sendai Byo was also significantly damaged by this point, and the Al-Fihri had just enough time to land her aerospace group, launch, and perhaps hit the Sendai Byo with another carrier-borne aerospace strike.  Just guessing, I would give the Japanese 60% chance to win this one had it played to full term, given its current state, but it definitely COULD have gone the other way.  As the game stands, this skirmish is a very narrow Japanese victory, with the Al-Fihri still operational (unscathed, in fact) and almost a full aerospace group (74 points in total). Meanwhile, the Japanese have the light cruiser Sendai Pyo, a little beat up and worse for wear (core damage has forced break-off resolution checks) but she's okay for now (91 points, as she's lost her two scouts). All that saif, with three more turns (usually these go eight turns), Drew and Al Fihri really could have turned this around. The Sendai Byo has the Al Fihri outgunned, to be sure. But the Sendai Byo was also significantly damaged by this point, and the Al-Fihri had just enough time to land her aerospace group, launch, and perhaps hit the Sendai Byo with another carrier-borne aerospace strike. Just guessing, I would give the Japanese 60% chance to win this one had it played to full term, given its current state, but it definitely COULD have gone the other way.

Darkstar Live Game - 1700 GMT - 9 March

Tutoring 4
Skill 3
Idea 4
No Comments

Looks like Rasmus and Damon will be squaring off again, this time at a super-hot planetismal that’s dangerously close to a red dwarf star, close enough to cause some electronic disruptions due to coronal mass ejections.

If you’re interested in checking this game out LIVE as it’s played, ping me a PM and I’ll send a link to the web conference.

Darkstar Live Game - 1700 GMT - 9 March

Thanks so much everyone for all the amazing support!

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
4 Comments
Thanks so much everyone for all the amazing support!

Darkstar Live Game - 1PM GMT - Drew vs. Rasmus

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 8
6 Comments

Okay, we are shaping up for a Darkstar game this Saturday at 1PM between Drew and Rasmus (Arab League vs. Imperial Japanese Navy)

If anyone wants to check this out as it’s played, have a chat, or just hang out, just ping me a PM and I’ll send a link to our web conference.  Hope to see some of you there!  😀

Darkstar Live Game - 1PM GMT - Drew vs. Rasmus
Darkstar Live Game - 1PM GMT - Drew vs. Rasmus
Darkstar Live Game - 1PM GMT - Drew vs. Rasmus

NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 10
5 Comments

Good morning, everyone.

We had a request from one of our players to try out one of the new factions – the Arab League.  We were supposed to try some of these new ships out in DS 2.0 this weekend but unfortunately something came up on my end so I had to cancel.  As a first step in making this up, I’ve updated five classes of Arab League warship from the old DS 1.0 system to the 2.0 warship record sheets, so if we play this weekend of a subsequent weekend, I’ll be more than ready.  😀

  • Shabbak-201 class gunboat
  • Ashur class corvette
  • Hattin class frigate
  • Basra class destroyer
  • Almanzor class light hybrid cruiser (part gun cruiser, part light fleet aerospace carrier)

Here’s hoping we can get this faction back into the stars this weekend!  😀

NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar
NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar
NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar
NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar
NEW FACTION - Arab League Rolling out for Darkstar

500-Point Game: Climactic Clash of Duchess Annabel’s War

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
15 Comments

Eisenwolf Colony (Gliese 580)

October 2519

I decided to go for broke here.  Somewhat weary of the nearly unbroken British winning streak, and of trying to hobble the Duchess Annabel’s War campaign and storylines top some kid of conclusion, this weekend we set  up a large 500+ point game to settle this issue once and for all.

This was a team game, with @gladesrunner and @damon each bringing in two ships (two of them very experienced and heavily upgraded, two of them more moderately experienced) up against a Prussian battlegroup built around a Norwegian Hipper class light cruiser, an Emden class frigate, and the KMS Scheer, a gigantic Tirpitz class battleship, quadruple-upgraded with ECM Shielding, Electronic Warfare, Thrust, and Gunnery Accuracy.  At this point the Prussian flagship costs 400 points, and the rest of their fleet costs 99, plus three additional scouts.  In all, the game is thus balanced at an even 502 points, making this game a possible war-ender, IF one side can win it be a large enough margin (40% of starting scenario points, per Rule 5.2.1.c.iii).

So we’re letting the British take the offensive, given as they’ve won all but one game since October against Prussian, Black Dragon, and Japanese foes.  We’re envisioning the joint Kraken-Bellerophon task force heading straight into the heart of Prussian colonial power in this sector, the Eisenwolf Colony at Gliese 580.  The Scheer is an absolute monster, though, weighing just short of 400,000 tons, her guns large enough to break a corvette in half with a single hit anywhere on the table.  With a solid broadside she can cripple a cruiser at 1,000 kilometers, and positively bristles with 66 mass driver point-defense guns, electronic warfare and ECM arrays, gravitic shielding, and tens of thousands of tons of armor.  Her targeting system draws as much power as a frigate’e entire reactor array.

This is gonna be one for the record books, folks.  A big enough British win here will break the back of Prussian (and allied) naval power in the Libra / Sagittarius strategic command sector, causing a second Iron Wolf power to sign a separate peace with the British.  A big enough Prussian win will smash enough heavy British naval power to leave the Scheer Task Force more or less unchallenged for at least 15-20 light-years, giving Berlin a commanding position of strength at the negotiating table back on Earth.

Let’s see what happens!

Initial approach.  The Prussians are coming down from the top, the British are coming up from the bottom.  The two fleets are more or less 3250 kilometers apart (a smidge over 2000 miles).  The only ship without a complete line of sight on all enemy vessels is the destroyer HMS Essex, actually tucked beneath the curvature of Eisenwolf.  Everyone else opens fire, though, the light cruiser HMS Inflictor and frigate KMS Jenna taking the worst of it.  Normally at this range, opening volleys aren’t that big of a deal.  But there is a LOT of firepower on this board, made all the more dangerous by upgrades to CIC / Targeting, Gunnery Accuracy, Gunnery Impact, or all of the above.  Initial approach. The Prussians are coming down from the top, the British are coming up from the bottom. The two fleets are more or less 3250 kilometers apart (a smidge over 2000 miles). The only ship without a complete line of sight on all enemy vessels is the destroyer HMS Essex, actually tucked beneath the curvature of Eisenwolf. Everyone else opens fire, though, the light cruiser HMS Inflictor and frigate KMS Jenna taking the worst of it. Normally at this range, opening volleys aren’t that big of a deal. But there is a LOT of firepower on this board, made all the more dangerous by upgrades to CIC / Targeting, Gunnery Accuracy, Gunnery Impact, or all of the above.
The British largely win initiative on Turn 02.  Jenn and Damon do a great job avoiding Prussian broadsides, but one ship, HMS Essex, is JUST left in the arc where aft Prussian guns can come to bear.  End result, all frontal guns of the Prussians unload on the  light cruiser HMS Inflictor (again), while all aft guns, including the 15-GW rail guns of the Admiral Scheer, unload on the hapless HMS Essex.  The little destroyer doesn’t stand a chance, and is instantly crippled.  Accurate British gunfire, though, especially from the Indomitable (Gunnery Accuracy and Gunnery Impact) smash open the light cruiser Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden), and a shell through the bridge leaves her crippled and adrift.   The Jenna, meanwhile, fails a breakoff check, and is forced to flee the table. The British largely win initiative on Turn 02. Jenn and Damon do a great job avoiding Prussian broadsides, but one ship, HMS Essex, is JUST left in the arc where aft Prussian guns can come to bear. End result, all frontal guns of the Prussians unload on the light cruiser HMS Inflictor (again), while all aft guns, including the 15-GW rail guns of the Admiral Scheer, unload on the hapless HMS Essex. The little destroyer doesn’t stand a chance, and is instantly crippled. Accurate British gunfire, though, especially from the Indomitable (Gunnery Accuracy and Gunnery Impact) smash open the light cruiser Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden), and a shell through the bridge leaves her crippled and adrift. The Jenna, meanwhile, fails a breakoff check, and is forced to flee the table.
The last surviving Prussian ship, the mighty Admiral Scheer, is almost never going to win initiative against the three remaining British cruisers.  It’s almost a recreation of the Battle of River Plate, pitting the historical pocket battleship Graf Spee against the cruisers Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles.  The Inflictor is actually struck in the bridge, not enough to knock her out, but enough to cause an initiative penalty.  However, she’s been upgraded with the “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade, and so can roll 3d6 each Resolution Phase, each 5+ result allows one box to be repaired mid-battle.  Jenn scores a success and selects the bridge, where fires are put out and intraship comms systems put back in order.  It’ll take more than that to scare off the Inflictor, Prussian!  The last surviving Prussian ship, the mighty Admiral Scheer, is almost never going to win initiative against the three remaining British cruisers. It’s almost a recreation of the Battle of River Plate, pitting the historical pocket battleship Graf Spee against the cruisers Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles. The Inflictor is actually struck in the bridge, not enough to knock her out, but enough to cause an initiative penalty. However, she’s been upgraded with the “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade, and so can roll 3d6 each Resolution Phase, each 5+ result allows one box to be repaired mid-battle. Jenn scores a success and selects the bridge, where fires are put out and intraship comms systems put back in order. It’ll take more than that to scare off the Inflictor, Prussian!
Using the speed of the British ships against them, I manage to force them to overshoot, at least putting my forward guns against the Inflictor’s fantail (hello, engines and reactors).  Now this part of the ship is undamaged, and has tougher shielding than other parts, but I have eight 6-GW and four 15-GW rail guns that easily open her up.  Resolute Crew or not, this time Inflictor is going down.  In fact, she stands a damned good chance of EXPLODING here … until her resolute crew puts out the fires in two engine and reactor boxes.  She’s still crippled, but will at least fight another day.  Using the speed of the British ships against them, I manage to force them to overshoot, at least putting my forward guns against the Inflictor’s fantail (hello, engines and reactors). Now this part of the ship is undamaged, and has tougher shielding than other parts, but I have eight 6-GW and four 15-GW rail guns that easily open her up. Resolute Crew or not, this time Inflictor is going down. In fact, she stands a damned good chance of EXPLODING here … until her resolute crew puts out the fires in two engine and reactor boxes. She’s still crippled, but will at least fight another day.
By now I’ve lost maneuvering thrusters as well, not good for a 400,000 ton battleship that only starts with 2 thrust points anyway (upgraded to 3, but still …)  Long story short, the two remaining heavy cruisers are able to cut broadsides across my stern.  But the Admiral Scheer is a BATTLESHIP, with 6-rated shields and four belts of armor on her stern.    Even taking punishment like this, she’s not going down quickly.By now I’ve lost maneuvering thrusters as well, not good for a 400,000 ton battleship that only starts with 2 thrust points anyway (upgraded to 3, but still …) Long story short, the two remaining heavy cruisers are able to cut broadsides across my stern. But the Admiral Scheer is a BATTLESHIP, with 6-rated shields and four belts of armor on her stern. Even taking punishment like this, she’s not going down quickly.
Okay, things go so hectic on the last turn of the game I had to actually zoom in a little.  I rolled my ship, protecting my ravaged starboard bow.  I also managed to point my stern away from the cruisers, leaving them with the unenviable choice of not crossing my stern again, OR doing so at point blank range (the geometry in Darkstar can at times be very unforgiving).  Damon makes the call and dives in, ordering flank speed and all guns to starboard for a point-blank broadside straight into my stern.  A but leery, Jennifer nevertheless follows suit in HMS Kraken.  The Prussian battlewagon positively MAULS the valiant HMS Bellerophon (“Billy Ruffian”) – this is basically the WW2 battleship Bismarck hitting the Norfolk at 1000 yards … the only thing that saves him is (a) I can only hit with aft weapons, and (b) I don’t get the best hit locations.  Once again, Billy Ruffian get a little lucky here and escapes with her reactors, and her life … damaged and afire … but functional.  Meanwhile, the Admiral Scheer is finally crippled, ending the battle.    Okay, things go so hectic on the last turn of the game I had to actually zoom in a little. I rolled my ship, protecting my ravaged starboard bow. I also managed to point my stern away from the cruisers, leaving them with the unenviable choice of not crossing my stern again, OR doing so at point blank range (the geometry in Darkstar can at times be very unforgiving). Damon makes the call and dives in, ordering flank speed and all guns to starboard for a point-blank broadside straight into my stern. A but leery, Jennifer nevertheless follows suit in HMS Kraken. The Prussian battlewagon positively MAULS the valiant HMS Bellerophon (“Billy Ruffian”) – this is basically the WW2 battleship Bismarck hitting the Norfolk at 1000 yards … the only thing that saves him is (a) I can only hit with aft weapons, and (b) I don’t get the best hit locations. Once again, Billy Ruffian get a little lucky here and escapes with her reactors, and her life … damaged and afire … but functional. Meanwhile, the Admiral Scheer is finally crippled, ending the battle.
This has not been a bloodless, victory, however.  As we continue to track movement of crippled ships, we find that HMS Essex was on course for an asteroid mining debris field when she was crippled.  The order is given to abandon ship, and HMS Essex is lost forever in a blinding fusion explosion.  Despite the British victory here, HMS Essex is the only permanently lost ship of the day.  This has not been a bloodless, victory, however. As we continue to track movement of crippled ships, we find that HMS Essex was on course for an asteroid mining debris field when she was crippled. The order is given to abandon ship, and HMS Essex is lost forever in a blinding fusion explosion. Despite the British victory here, HMS Essex is the only permanently lost ship of the day.
Here’s the HMS Inflictor, ridiculously mauled.  On the left, we see an earlier fire phase, where yellow boxes show the structure boxes “repaired” by the Resolute Crew upgrade.  On the her final state, ridiculously mauled and crippled, yet she’ll eventually be recovered and put back into service – after 57 days in drydock.Here’s the HMS Inflictor, ridiculously mauled. On the left, we see an earlier fire phase, where yellow boxes show the structure boxes “repaired” by the Resolute Crew upgrade. On the her final state, ridiculously mauled and crippled, yet she’ll eventually be recovered and put back into service – after 57 days in drydock.
The final damage sheet on KMS Admiral Scheer.  Now she has rolled her warship recovery check (battleships almost always do, they have damage control crews larger than most ship’s entire complement, many more redundant systems and extensive compartmentalization, plus their navies always invest whatever it takes in their recovery).  Nevertheless, she’s taken 102 internal structure boxes of damage.  And she’s crippled (+50% repair time added to normal rate of 1 day per structure box hit).  This means she’s gonna be in dry dock for 153 days, almost 22 WEEKS.The final damage sheet on KMS Admiral Scheer. Now she has rolled her warship recovery check (battleships almost always do, they have damage control crews larger than most ship’s entire complement, many more redundant systems and extensive compartmentalization, plus their navies always invest whatever it takes in their recovery). Nevertheless, she’s taken 102 internal structure boxes of damage. And she’s crippled (+50% repair time added to normal rate of 1 day per structure box hit). This means she’s gonna be in dry dock for 153 days, almost 22 WEEKS.

So the British have won by 315 points, easily more than the 201 they needed for a Major Victory here.  If I could have knocked out the Bellerophon, I would have shaved this down to 191, enough to keep in a Minor Victory and keep the Prussians in the war.  But they’ve lost, and lost HARD, so at last Duchess Annabel’s War is OVER.

The question for the community now is … WHO IS INTERESTED IN ANOTHER WAR?  If so, WHAT FACTIONS?  We seem to have some votes of the British, Prussians, and Americans.  Anyone else interested in trying this wargame?   Any other factions?  We have New Romans (Spanish, Italians, French), Panasian Union (Chinese), Arab League, Indian Republic, Corporate Consortium / Pirates, Black Dragons, Russians, and Japanese.

Let me know in the comments below!

And CONGRATS TO DAMON and JENN for the great war-winning victory!

500-Point Game: Climactic Clash of Duchess Annabel’s War

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
2 Comments

Removing duplicate 🙁

ACTION STATIONS! Prussian Battleship sighted!

Tutoring 1
Skill 4
Idea 4
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ACTION STATIONS!  Prussian Battleship sighted!

We are live with Darkstar in about 30 minutes!  British players @gladesrunner and @damon take on the Prussians, who are packing one of my Hipper class light cruisers (sailing under a Norwegian flag) and … you know … just for fun … a ridiculously-powerful Tirpitz class battleship, KMS Scheer.

**queue Vader’s Imperial March theme.  😀

This one … will get nasty.

Ping me a PM if you’re interested in seeing some of this game live on the web, starting at 17:00 GMT!  We’ll see if the British can keep up their nearly unbroken winning streak!

Damon's Contribution - Separate Peace between British and Japanese?

Tutoring 7
Skill 6
Idea 7
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Damon's Contribution - Separate Peace between British and Japanese?

Okay, so Damon wrote a great bit of Darkstar “roleplaying” where he is sending the colonial administrator (and presumably local colonial garrison commander) of the Japanese Kishimoto colony a appeal to reason.  This is great because it dovetails and aligns with the background for last week’s Kishimoto planetary assault game, brings in a bit of lore building / campaign ply / role playing to Darkstar (which I always support) and also allows us to bring up the question …

Is Duchess Annabel’s War coming to a close?

At least between the British and the Japanese?

Again, this campaign started locally, then went on line, we never had an official roster of players, so it’s definitely very informal.  In more structured campaigns, actual “balance of power” points are tracked based on the size of aggregated battles and their results, it is clearly outlined when a certain power or faction either cashes out of a war as victor, or signs a separate peace as a loser.

Here, it’s really going to come down to player preference.

So I’ll put it to the community –

What factions do you still want to play, or see drop out of the war, or see added in to the war?

Currently: Duchess Annabel’s War is between two coalitions:

  • “Iron Wolves”
  • Imperial Prussia
  • Japan
  • New Roman Alliance
  • Khitan-Tunguska Free State (Black Dragons)

vs.

Duchess Annabel’s Coalition:

  • UK
  • Holy Russian Empire
  • Panasian Union (China)

Damon (British) v. Rasmus (Japanese)

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 7
8 Comments

October 2519:

For the last 57 days, ground combat has raged on the surface of Kishimoto, colonized terrestrial planet of the HD-172051 (Kishimoto) star system.

Kishimoto is a roughly Earth-sized, terrestrial-class world with huge liquid water oceans under miles of permanent ice.  The yellow main-sequence star is stable, the ice provides protection from cosmic radiation, and the planet is rich in resources like water (obviously), silox 35, and heavy hydrogen isotopes useful in fusion reactors.  Colonies are tunneled out of the ice, soft enough for easy construction, hard and permanent enough for structural stability. With large spaces under the ice now warmed by gigantic reactors, Kishimoto has thus become a large hydroponic mega-agricultural colony, feeding Japanese colonies and providing important trade throughout the Libra-Sagittarius strategic command sector.

In an attempt to compel the Japanese to abandon their Prussian, New Roman, and Black Dragon allies, the British have landed two regiments of Royal Marines on the planet.  But so far, these 3200 men have been stalemated by a smaller, but determined and deeply entrenched, Japanese defense force.

Now, both the British and Japanese are trying to break the deadlock on Kishimoto.  When Japanese Intelligence (tipped off by the enigmatic  spy known only as “Red Kitsune”) is alerted to the approach of a British troop convoy, they hastily mount an expedition of their own to counter.  Now two troops convoys are headed to Kishimoto, each escorted by a cruiser battlegroup.

Entry zones shown on the map.   Target ground hex is circled in red.

Each side has three troop ships.

Each troop ship moves 6 hexes a turn, has 4 shields, and 25 damage points.

Each side gets 50 points for getting a troop ship to the target hex.

Cargo ships always move first, before first warship to move on each side.

Gravity effects: pulls 1 hex toward the planet, if warship ends move within 10 hexes of planet.

Gravity does not effect troops ships (antigrav drives) or aerospace craft

Warships have a speed limit of 6 when within one hex of planet (atmosphere)

Shooting through or into an atmosphere hex applies a -2 penalty on to-hit numbers (atmospheric refraction).  Just shooting out of an atmosphere hex applies no penalty.

Exceeding this movement limit inflicts one ROW of armor off the bow and either P/S Bow.

Game lasts max of 8 turns.

So the setting and special rules for this game are described above.  This map shows the larger operational campaign area for the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War, with the location of Kishimoto star system circled in green.  So the setting and special rules for this game are described above. This map shows the larger operational campaign area for the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War, with the location of Kishimoto star system circled in green.
Today we have Damon and his British (headed by his flagship, the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser Bellerphoron) escorted by the Falklands class destroyer HMS Essex, against Rasmus and his Japanese (flagship IJN Sendai Byo, a Taiho class light cruiser … Takashiro class destroyer IJN Kuroki … and Akashi class strike frigate IJN Urakaze).  We also  have spectators from the US, UK, and Australia!  The mission, again, is to not only end the game with more points worth of operational warships than your opponent (*game is balanced at 172 points), but also get as many of your troop ships to the indicated “ground battle” hex as you can.   We’re trying to expand more of the Darkstar rules out there for everyone, and thus we’re slowly but steadily rolling out new features like a taste of the planetary assault rules!  Japanese ships are approaching from upper left, British ships from the lower right.Today we have Damon and his British (headed by his flagship, the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser Bellerphoron) escorted by the Falklands class destroyer HMS Essex, against Rasmus and his Japanese (flagship IJN Sendai Byo, a Taiho class light cruiser … Takashiro class destroyer IJN Kuroki … and Akashi class strike frigate IJN Urakaze). We also have spectators from the US, UK, and Australia! The mission, again, is to not only end the game with more points worth of operational warships than your opponent (*game is balanced at 172 points), but also get as many of your troop ships to the indicated “ground battle” hex as you can. We’re trying to expand more of the Darkstar rules out there for everyone, and thus we’re slowly but steadily rolling out new features like a taste of the planetary assault rules! Japanese ships are approaching from upper left, British ships from the lower right.
End of movement on Turn 2.  Notice that the Japanese torpedoes (orange wedges) haven't hit the British warships yet.  Rasmus has opted to keep the engagement ranges nice and long, actually not a bad move considering his ships' advantages in enhanced targeting electronics and long-range accuracy.  But even these Ki-45 End of movement on Turn 2. Notice that the Japanese torpedoes (orange wedges) haven't hit the British warships yet. Rasmus has opted to keep the engagement ranges nice and long, actually not a bad move considering his ships' advantages in enhanced targeting electronics and long-range accuracy. But even these Ki-45 "Toryu" (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes can't reach across 4000 kilometers this fast. Damon, meanwhile, is keeping the mission firmly in mind, escorting the troop ships toward the invasion hex, ready to open fire against the Japanese troop ships in turn as soon as the curvature of the Kishimoto planet allows (although he'll he shooting through planetary atmosphere, thus assessing a -2 to hit against his accuracy).
Both sides' troops ships are now closing on the assault zone.  Remember that each hex in this game is 180km, large enough to fit some small countries.  This means that on the ground, the entire war for Kishimoto is probably taking place in that one hex, and this game could be decided in large part by whoever gets the most troops ships (reinforcements) to tip the scales in the battle in progress.  Damon certainly remembers this, firing a full broadside against the first Japanese troops transport.  But the refraction effects of the planet's atmosphere (Hexes 1520, 1620, and 1721) combine with some very poor dice, to ensure that the lead Japanese troop ship takes only 18 points of damage, short of the required 25 to shoot it down.  As for the British troop ships, the Japanese warships are too far away to effectively engage and so instead they are firing at the HMS Essex.  Both sides' troops ships are now closing on the assault zone. Remember that each hex in this game is 180km, large enough to fit some small countries. This means that on the ground, the entire war for Kishimoto is probably taking place in that one hex, and this game could be decided in large part by whoever gets the most troops ships (reinforcements) to tip the scales in the battle in progress. Damon certainly remembers this, firing a full broadside against the first Japanese troops transport. But the refraction effects of the planet's atmosphere (Hexes 1520, 1620, and 1721) combine with some very poor dice, to ensure that the lead Japanese troop ship takes only 18 points of damage, short of the required 25 to shoot it down. As for the British troop ships, the Japanese warships are too far away to effectively engage and so instead they are firing at the HMS Essex.
Looks like both sides will get all three troops ships to the combat hex.  One Japanese troops ship took a helluva pounding, but made it nevertheless.  Both players are awarded 150 victory points.  With both sides getting all three troops ships into position, the ground battle of course remains a stalemate (just a much LARGER stalemate), so it looks like this game will be resolved one way or another in high orbit above Kishimoto.  The Japanese set about to win it, putting torpedoes straight down the unshielded bow of HMS Essex (she lost her shields in an earlier fire phase), while the frigate Urakaze and the destroyer Kuroki shoot forward, making a hard torn to starboard, and rake the Essex's note at point blank range.  The Essex is all but torn apart, one Ki-45 torpedo going off INSIDE her port torpedo room and yes, setting off the magazine. However, the return fire from the Essex and especially the Bellerophon positively maul the two small Japanese ships.  They survive, technically, but are horribly damaged, with multiple hits to maneuvering thrusters, engines, reactors, sensors, mass drivers, troops bays, hangars, and core sections like life support, med bays, Darkstar drives, and so on.  The HMS Essex is not so lucky, her crew is unable to maintain power and she goes dark, adrift and burning, out of the  battle.    Looks like both sides will get all three troops ships to the combat hex. One Japanese troops ship took a helluva pounding, but made it nevertheless. Both players are awarded 150 victory points. With both sides getting all three troops ships into position, the ground battle of course remains a stalemate (just a much LARGER stalemate), so it looks like this game will be resolved one way or another in high orbit above Kishimoto. The Japanese set about to win it, putting torpedoes straight down the unshielded bow of HMS Essex (she lost her shields in an earlier fire phase), while the frigate Urakaze and the destroyer Kuroki shoot forward, making a hard torn to starboard, and rake the Essex's note at point blank range. The Essex is all but torn apart, one Ki-45 torpedo going off INSIDE her port torpedo room and yes, setting off the magazine. However, the return fire from the Essex and especially the Bellerophon positively maul the two small Japanese ships. They survive, technically, but are horribly damaged, with multiple hits to maneuvering thrusters, engines, reactors, sensors, mass drivers, troops bays, hangars, and core sections like life support, med bays, Darkstar drives, and so on. The HMS Essex is not so lucky, her crew is unable to maintain power and she goes dark, adrift and burning, out of the battle.
The Japanese are now actually having a helluva time maneuvering.  Their light cruiser flagship is going too fast, while their frigate and destroyer are going too fast and have also beel largely hobbled with so many hits in engineering sections.  Making matters worse, their fleet is now obviously divided.  But Bellerophon does not run down and finish off the Urakase and Kuroki, instead turning towards the light cruiser Sendai Byo.  The mighty The Japanese are now actually having a helluva time maneuvering. Their light cruiser flagship is going too fast, while their frigate and destroyer are going too fast and have also beel largely hobbled with so many hits in engineering sections. Making matters worse, their fleet is now obviously divided. But Bellerophon does not run down and finish off the Urakase and Kuroki, instead turning towards the light cruiser Sendai Byo. The mighty "Billy Ruffian" is pummeled by accurate, long range Japanese fire, but she has tough shielding and thick armor, and also keeps shooting down all their torpedoes. She can keep this up for a while, but not forever.
After a long afternoon of frustrating die rolls and honestly ... solid tactical play that just wasn't being rewarded by Lady Fortune, at last the British catch a break.  The Sendai Byo sets up a broadside against the Bellerophon, but fails to do in in such away that does not incur a return  broadside in turn.  At this range, trading broadsides with a larger British warship is rarely a good idea.   A full broadside of 15 teravolt EPCs slashes into the Sendai Byo, cutting across her engineering compartments of her starboard quarter.  Four critical boxes are hit.  Light Cruisers are crippled on a 10+ on a d6, minus the number of critical boxes hit.  That leaves ... 6+, and wouldn't you know it, Damon rolls, ON CAMERA, a 6.  The Sendai Byo is crippled, leaving only the heavily damaged Kuroki and Urakaze limping behind the small moon further off the After a long afternoon of frustrating die rolls and honestly ... solid tactical play that just wasn't being rewarded by Lady Fortune, at last the British catch a break. The Sendai Byo sets up a broadside against the Bellerophon, but fails to do in in such away that does not incur a return broadside in turn. At this range, trading broadsides with a larger British warship is rarely a good idea. A full broadside of 15 teravolt EPCs slashes into the Sendai Byo, cutting across her engineering compartments of her starboard quarter. Four critical boxes are hit. Light Cruisers are crippled on a 10+ on a d6, minus the number of critical boxes hit. That leaves ... 6+, and wouldn't you know it, Damon rolls, ON CAMERA, a 6. The Sendai Byo is crippled, leaving only the heavily damaged Kuroki and Urakaze limping behind the small moon further off the "northeast" corner of the board. We call the game there.
Here are the damage tracking sheets for HMS Belleropheron and IJN Sendai Byo.  As you can clearly see, the Billy Ruffian took far more damage,but was able to spread it out by presenting different sides to enemy guns.  Also, she has a LOT more armor and internal structure boxes (she's a 145,000 ton ship).  The Sendai Byo just took the damage in the wrong spot, at the wrong time, and Damon caught a lucky break with the dice.Here are the damage tracking sheets for HMS Belleropheron and IJN Sendai Byo. As you can clearly see, the Billy Ruffian took far more damage,but was able to spread it out by presenting different sides to enemy guns. Also, she has a LOT more armor and internal structure boxes (she's a 145,000 ton ship). The Sendai Byo just took the damage in the wrong spot, at the wrong time, and Damon caught a lucky break with the dice.

So this was a great game played by both sides.  It was tight, tactical, and reserved, well … up until Rasmus sent Kuroki and Urakaze on a banzai charge across the bow of HMS Essex.  😀  Honestly, I feel I made the troop ships too tough, a full broadside from a heavy cruiser at optimum range really should have tanked at least one of them.  But I bumped the normal “civilian” shielding of 3 up to a 4, then added the +2 targeting penalty for atmosphere (forgetting that, duh … of course these ships are going to be in atmosphere).  But that’s on me.

So the British win this game 120 (Bellerophon) to 51 + 24 (Kuroki and Urakaze) + 5 scouts = 80 (all British scouts were shot down by Japanese scouts and mass driver guns of the Sendai Byo).

This means that Kishimoto will probably fall.  Yes, the troop balance on the ground is still unchanged, but now the Royal Navy controls the skies over the planet, and Bellerophon will probably spend the next few days pummeling Japanese ground positions from orbit.

What this means for the larger context of Duchess Annabel’s War is uncertain.  This has  been a fairly loose campaign when it comes to tracking.  But the fact is the British have lost only one battle since last October, and won several big ones in a row.  These Japanese have lost several big ones, and honestly their alliance in the “Iron Wolf” coalition with the Prussians, New Romans, and especially Black Dragons has always been tenuous (the Black Dragons were their blood enemies in the previous Xi Scorpio War).

If we were keeping closer track of points, the British would probably have won enough to “cash out” of this war as victors, the Japanese as losers.  But what it really comes down to is whether players want to keep playing Japanese and especially British (definitely the most popular faction so far).

Either that or we could let the Duchess Annabel’s War finally end and instead start a new campaign fresh, using the factions people are most interested in.  😀

We gotta get the Americans in one of these wars, if for no other reason that to see Task Force Oriskany on the table again.  😀 😀 😀

Darkstar "Championship" Game - Jenn's British vs. Oriskany's Japanese

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 8
13 Comments

Early September, 2519:

Okay, yesterday @gladesrunner (Jennifer) and I sat down for a “championship” game of Darkstar – veteran players playing two of their most elite, veteran, and upgraded task forces we’ve managed to build up over several years of campaign play (off and on).

We basically have the heavier ships of Jenn’s “Cruiser Squadron “K” – under the flag of Commodore Rhea Aubrey, flying her flag from her Iron Duke class heavy cruiser HMS Kraken:

HMS Kraken (three battle upgrades) – 182 points

HMS Indomitable (five battle upgrades) – 128 points

HMS Londonderry (two battle upgrades) – 66 points

Four double-elite fighters and four double-elite bombers (HMS Vigilant) – 32 points

408 points

 

Opposing them, I’m bringing by Cruiser Squadron “Storm Dragon” – lead by Captain Hiromi Ozawa aboard her flagship, the Katana class heavy cruiser IJN Naginata.

IJN Naginata (four battle upgrades) – 202 points

IJN Takakawa (five battle upgrades) – 128 points

IJN Kikasa (three battle upgrades) – 77 points

407 points
In all, these commanders have a total of 44 campaign stars (that’s 264 campaign points, which averages to about of 30 games for each of these commanders, assuming they won about half their games.

They’re not the best of the best, but they’re damned close.  And now they’re closing to battle range, decelerating to attack speed, sounding general quarters and ready to engage in another furious battle in Duchess Annabel’s War.

We had spectators for this game from Puerto Rico, Canada, and even Australia.  Thanks so much for everyone who tuned in to this epic wargame!   And if anyone ever wants to drop in for a chat, to spectate, or even give these games a try, as always, just give me a PM ping and we’ll get you on the schedule!

The Japanese predominantly lose initiative, so their heaviest ships have to enter the table first.  The Naginata makes her approach into the empty battle space, and not knowing where the British will be, try to use the asteroid batch to screen her position.  The British make a much faster approach (36 km per second), making a last-minute turn to port to cross the Japanese The Japanese predominantly lose initiative, so their heaviest ships have to enter the table first. The Naginata makes her approach into the empty battle space, and not knowing where the British will be, try to use the asteroid batch to screen her position. The British make a much faster approach (36 km per second), making a last-minute turn to port to cross the Japanese "T" at a ranges of 1600 and 1800 kilometers.
Zooming in a little, we see the initial exchanges of fire.  The firepower is terrifyingly accurate, so many of these ships have upgraded guns, upgraded targeting systems, elite gunnery crews, electronic warfare, but also enhanced ECM and gravitic shielding.  Commanders, crews, and ships on this level play for keeps, and that is apparent right off the bat as on the fire phase of Turn 01, both task forces smash the other's destroyer out of the battle.  HMS Londonderry and IJN Kikasa are both blow open, set afire, and now adrift and out of control in space. Zooming in a little, we see the initial exchanges of fire. The firepower is terrifyingly accurate, so many of these ships have upgraded guns, upgraded targeting systems, elite gunnery crews, electronic warfare, but also enhanced ECM and gravitic shielding. Commanders, crews, and ships on this level play for keeps, and that is apparent right off the bat as on the fire phase of Turn 01, both task forces smash the other's destroyer out of the battle. HMS Londonderry and IJN Kikasa are both blow open, set afire, and now adrift and out of control in space.
The Japanese seem to h ave the upper hand on Turn 2.  This is because the Japanese do better on initiative this turn, and the faster British approach speeds means they now have a much harder time making turns and slowing down.  It gave them an advantage on Turn 01, but one Turn 02 they are paying for it.  HMS Inflictor also has hits on her maneuvering thrusters, which are further hampering her ability to make turns or roll over.  This allows my forward batteries (IJN Naginata and Takakawa) to score hard hits on her stern, knocking her out of the battle.  However, the big British equalizers here, the Model 41 torpedoes of HMS Kraken, plus a torpedo and missile strike launched by the Star Typhoon bombers and Supermaine Starfire fighters (of the The Japanese seem to h ave the upper hand on Turn 2. This is because the Japanese do better on initiative this turn, and the faster British approach speeds means they now have a much harder time making turns and slowing down. It gave them an advantage on Turn 01, but one Turn 02 they are paying for it. HMS Inflictor also has hits on her maneuvering thrusters, which are further hampering her ability to make turns or roll over. This allows my forward batteries (IJN Naginata and Takakawa) to score hard hits on her stern, knocking her out of the battle. However, the big British equalizers here, the Model 41 torpedoes of HMS Kraken, plus a torpedo and missile strike launched by the Star Typhoon bombers and Supermaine Starfire fighters (of the "Royal Griffon" and "Mad Hatter" squadrons, respectively), manage to put enough firepower into the stern of the Takakawa to also leave her spinning helplessly adrift in space. On Turn 01, we traded destroyers. One Turn 02, we traded light cruisers ...
It's now a hypertech, high speed, fusion-firepower cat-fight in space, with Commodore Rhea Aubrey and Captain Hiromi Ozawa, each with a gigantic 175,000 ton heavy cruiser, determined to leave the other adrift aboard a derelict, burning, and crippled warship.  Again, the Japanese seem to have the upper hand.  Ozawa narrowly beats Aubrey on initiative, and the HMS Kraken has to move first, turning while still desperately trying to slow down.  Conversely, the Naginata goes to flank speed, powering up her enhanced engines to but a broadside across Kraken's starboard quarter.  Meanwhile, the Royal Griffon bombers, having expended their ordinance, try to get clear of the battle area, but are two are shot down by Japanese It's now a hypertech, high speed, fusion-firepower cat-fight in space, with Commodore Rhea Aubrey and Captain Hiromi Ozawa, each with a gigantic 175,000 ton heavy cruiser, determined to leave the other adrift aboard a derelict, burning, and crippled warship. Again, the Japanese seem to have the upper hand. Ozawa narrowly beats Aubrey on initiative, and the HMS Kraken has to move first, turning while still desperately trying to slow down. Conversely, the Naginata goes to flank speed, powering up her enhanced engines to but a broadside across Kraken's starboard quarter. Meanwhile, the Royal Griffon bombers, having expended their ordinance, try to get clear of the battle area, but are two are shot down by Japanese "Hien" (Swallow) scouts.
Zooming in a little, we see what I HOPE will be the decisive fire phase, my broadside (almost all guns) against only the Kraken's stern guns.  Unfortunately, Ozawa also has to contend with British torpedoes and fighters.  Two of the fighters score gunnery hits at extended range, and then two torpedoes slam into her stern.  Damage is minimal ... but as fate would have it the one system that was damaged ... was the aft shields.  Still, things seem to be going Ozawa's way, as the Kraken has taken enough damage to where she HAS TO BREAK OFF THE ENGAGEMENT! (Jennifer gets a very bad roll after I score two hits into her cruiser's core compartments).Zooming in a little, we see what I HOPE will be the decisive fire phase, my broadside (almost all guns) against only the Kraken's stern guns. Unfortunately, Ozawa also has to contend with British torpedoes and fighters. Two of the fighters score gunnery hits at extended range, and then two torpedoes slam into her stern. Damage is minimal ... but as fate would have it the one system that was damaged ... was the aft shields. Still, things seem to be going Ozawa's way, as the Kraken has taken enough damage to where she HAS TO BREAK OFF THE ENGAGEMENT! (Jennifer gets a very bad roll after I score two hits into her cruiser's core compartments).
Even though HMS Kraken is now compelled to head off t he lower right corner of the map, the shoe is decidedly on the other foot when it comes to maneuvering speed.  I have to turn away from Jenn so she doesn't have a free shot on my unshielded stern, but I'm moving so fast after my acceleration last turn, turning is very difficult.  I can't fly off the map or I lose the game.  Turning hard to port and slamming on the breaks, I try to put as much distance between myself and her fighters, scouts, and torpedoes as I can.  Turns out Ozawa and her cruiser ALMOST escape ... but not quite.  Jenn gets just lucky enough that the HMS Kraken and those fighters, despite being forced to leave the table, WHILE THEY ARE WITHDRAWING, put a last salvo into my unshielded stern to barely cripple the Naginata.  End result, NEITHER side has any capital ships left operational in the area.  Even though HMS Kraken is now compelled to head off t he lower right corner of the map, the shoe is decidedly on the other foot when it comes to maneuvering speed. I have to turn away from Jenn so she doesn't have a free shot on my unshielded stern, but I'm moving so fast after my acceleration last turn, turning is very difficult. I can't fly off the map or I lose the game. Turning hard to port and slamming on the breaks, I try to put as much distance between myself and her fighters, scouts, and torpedoes as I can. Turns out Ozawa and her cruiser ALMOST escape ... but not quite. Jenn gets just lucky enough that the HMS Kraken and those fighters, despite being forced to leave the table, WHILE THEY ARE WITHDRAWING, put a last salvo into my unshielded stern to barely cripple the Naginata. End result, NEITHER side has any capital ships left operational in the area.
Damage charts from the light cruiser Takakawa and destroyer Kikasa.Damage charts from the light cruiser Takakawa and destroyer Kikasa.
Damage charts from the light cruiser Inflictor and the destroyer Londonderry.Damage charts from the light cruiser Inflictor and the destroyer Londonderry.

So there we have it.  The game comes down to a razor-thin British win.

The Japanese have five scouts left on the board = 5 points, plus they were outnumbered by the British by 1 points = 1 “balance” point = 6.

The British have 2 double elite bombers (8 points) + 4 double elite fighters (16 points)+ 6 scouts (6 points) = 30 points.

So the British won by 24 points.

Per the rules, you have to win any game by a margin of at least 5% to claim a victory.  Well, 5% of 408 total points = 21 points.

So with exactly 3 points to spare (21 required, 24 attained) . . . out of an initial point total of 408, the British ba-a-a-a-a-a-arely scrape out the ugliest, narrowest, and slimmest of wins.

But a win all the same.  After all, HMS Kraken is operational in this star system, the Naginata is not.

Congrats to Jenn on the win!

"Championship" Darkstar Game between Veteran Players - with Elite crews!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 8
2 Comments

Darkstar is LIVE in about 60 minutes (5:15PM or so GMT).  If you’re interested, ping me with a PM link to chat with game creators, other wargame / sci fi fans (we have people from three countries lined up already), or just watch an epic space warfare battle game!

Elements of my elite Naginata task force will be taking on the flagships and escorts of @gladesrunner’s venerable “Cruiser Squadron K,” under the flag of Commodore Rhea Aubrey aboard her flagship, HMS Kraken.

Darkstar v1.1 Published

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 7
2 Comments
Darkstar v1.1 Published

Good afternoon ~

Okay, the majority of the typos, formatting errors, and (worst of all) math bugs in the warship designs have been smoothed out of the rules and the warship record sheets of Darkstar Rules.  Therefore, I’m happy to post the link for Darkstar 1.1, available below.

Darkstar Rules v1.1

Again, no real new content, just cleaned up, amended, and corrected details here and there for the rules and ships.  If you already have the rules or have even printed them out, I wouldn’t even say reprinting the whole doc is worth it.  For the rules, I was cleaning up misspellings, typos, clarification of aerospace strafing rules, etc.

However, what I really wanted to clean up were some “worms in the wood” hidden in the math of the warships.  You’ll notice some stats have updated subtly, including slight updates to some Japanese ships, and larger changes on Corporate ships, and the light cruiser ship type in general.  Even if the ship characteristics all remain the same, the scenario price has updated slightly on a few of them.

Anyway, just trying to present the best, smoothest, most bug-free possible game as a basis for future roll-outs.

If you have the original saved somewhere, simply save this one over it.  Otherwise, download this new one if you’re interested, and have fun!

As always, we play live on the web usually once a week, and I can be reached for questions at [email protected]

Darkstar v1.1 Later This Week

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 6
2 Comments

Good morning, commanders.  😀

Just a quick announcement that v1.1 of the Darkstar rules are being hammered out as we speak.  I hope to roll them out later this week.

Very little is being tweaked in the actual rules. Really, just typos and some very minor clarifications where small, corner case rules were not CLEAR, nothing’s actually being changed.

In the ship designs, however, some of them will get updates.  This was always in the cards, with a few omissions like the ECM / Shielding ratings for the Scharnhorst class pocket battleship being addressed.  But after a few games this last weekend, I found a few additional updates that I wanted to make.  Then, looking more closely at the functionality of the spreadsheets that drive these designs, I found some more glaring issues that needed to be fixed.

Long story short, the warships designs are being tweaked, including not only the 30 classes included in the First Wave, but also the 78 other classes still waiting in the wings. This also includes updating the WRS for these classes, reformatting as .pdf, splicing the, into the book, and republishing.

So yeah, I have a busy couple of days ahead of me.

Even those ships that are being tweaked will have relatively small updates – light cruisers are the hardest hit, but even they’re losing only a couple mass driver defense points or excess torpedo tubes here and there.  Some point costs will also be updated.

But the rules are the same and the designs will be 99% the same.  This is just a clean up to make sure everyone has the best possible game available.

Replay - Are Darkstar Pirates "OP"

Tutoring 6
Skill 8
Idea 8
5 Comments

So in the wake of Saturday’s game, I’ve been wondering if the Corporate Consortium / Pirate warships in Darkstar are in fact overpowered.

Short answer, no.  They perform exactly as they should, at least in the case of the Corporate Consortium: extremely small, extremely high-tech, extremely fast, extremely vulnerable, but extremely accurate / advanced.

However, they may be underpriced in scenario points.  I have absolutely no issue with putting advanced / powerful /less numerous units up against weaker / less advanced / more numerous units (such is asymmetrical warfare and wargaming), but the points have to take this properly into account to allow proper game balance.

So to test this, I re-ran Saturday’s game Japan v. Pirates solitaire to see if I could come up with a different result.

As before, these Japanese will As before, these Japanese will "automatically lose" the first turn of initiative, and the pirates will be allowed to enter from any edge of the board, through any hex not covered by the moon. To counter the initial pirate advantage, the Japanese make much slower approach, a hairpin turn, then allow the moon’s gravity to tug their sterns back against the moon’s atmosphere. This seems to at least mitigate the risk of a pirate fleet appearing directly on their six. So the Japanese player has to make that first move PERFECTLY, backing up directly against the moon’s atmosphere. This would still allow the pirates to theoretically streak INTO THE SAME hex if he really wants to get behind you, but then there are only three ships allowed in a hex so with two Japanese ships in the hex, only one pirate ship can do this (instead of four) and even then, the range is pointblank which is NOT good for the pirate player. There are other options for the Pirates (two of which are shown above) - including a very high-speed approach from the opposite end of the table that allows a full frontal torpedo spread against the Japanese port quarter – while avoiding Japanese broadsides and keeping the range at 11 hexes – range bracket 5) but this approach isn’t as perfect as we saw Saturday.
The pirates choose option 2, coming on the table at velocity 16, decelerating to 9, and releasing full forward spread of Class V The pirates choose option 2, coming on the table at velocity 16, decelerating to 9, and releasing full forward spread of Class V "Sparta XII" torpedoes. At this range and facings, only ONE GUN in either fleet can fire at each other, and both miss. Again, good initial move by the pirates. If they win this game, it will be with torpedoes, and
The Japanese destroyer (Harata), largest ship on the table, predictably loses initiative.  With a pair of jackknife turns, she continues to edge toward the pirates, closing the distance and keeping her stern brushing the moon's atmosphere.  The pirate flagship Jasmine's Diamond has to move next, and the Urakaze pounces, finally bringing her forward weapons and torpedo tubes to bear.  I realize now I slighty screwed up the Japanese movement for the Hatara, she should have opted to be ONE HEX CLOSER to the moon so pirate torpedoes couldn't strike directly for her stern.The Japanese destroyer (Harata), largest ship on the table, predictably loses initiative. With a pair of jackknife turns, she continues to edge toward the pirates, closing the distance and keeping her stern brushing the moon's atmosphere. The pirate flagship Jasmine's Diamond has to move next, and the Urakaze pounces, finally bringing her forward weapons and torpedo tubes to bear. I realize now I slighty screwed up the Japanese movement for the Hatara, she should have opted to be ONE HEX CLOSER to the moon so pirate torpedoes couldn't strike directly for her stern.
The forward battery of the Urakaze and aft weapons of the Harata blow the front end off the Jasmine's Diamond, landing a hit on the bridge that knocks her out.  Meanwhile, the Harata and Urakaze shoot down six of the incoming pirate torpedoes, but the remaining four all but automatically hit (+3 CIC bonuses and The forward battery of the Urakaze and aft weapons of the Harata blow the front end off the Jasmine's Diamond, landing a hit on the bridge that knocks her out. Meanwhile, the Harata and Urakaze shoot down six of the incoming pirate torpedoes, but the remaining four all but automatically hit (+3 CIC bonuses and "Electronic Warfare" battle upgrades on two of the pirate warships). This, plus the few, small, put accurate guns of the pirate flotilla cripple the Harata as well. Still, that's 33 point loss for thepirates and 34 point loss for the Japanese. This game is already at least a little more balanced (and again, I really should have handled the Harata's Turn 2 movement differently).
The results on the Jasmine's Diamond and the Harata.The results on the Jasmine's Diamond and the Harata.
It's something of a miracle, but the Urakaze wins initiative against the Fast Company.  The Japanese fighters fire their missiles, while six Class V Torpedoes sail in against the Urakaze.  She shoots down four of them, but two hits,plus the small lasers of the Razor III and the Stiletto, are more than enough to leave her crippled.  Meanwhile, the Fast Company, Razor III, and Stiletto shoot down all the Japanese torpedoes and fighter missiles, but the forward gunnery of the Akashi-class strike frigate is enough to knock down the Fast Company's engines.   It's something of a miracle, but the Urakaze wins initiative against the Fast Company. The Japanese fighters fire their missiles, while six Class V Torpedoes sail in against the Urakaze. She shoots down four of them, but two hits,plus the small lasers of the Razor III and the Stiletto, are more than enough to leave her crippled. Meanwhile, the Fast Company, Razor III, and Stiletto shoot down all the Japanese torpedoes and fighter missiles, but the forward gunnery of the Akashi-class strike frigate is enough to knock down the Fast Company's engines.
Even with both Japanese warships knocked down, there are still six fighters and three scouts on the table (plus one pirate scout).  Technically, the game right now is a DRAW, with the Japanese left with 15 points [(6 x 2) + 3] = 15 points) on the table against the Pirates' 7 + 7 + 1 = 15 (you have to win by at least 5% of the starting total (63 points).  But for testing purposes, the Japanese fighters will make strafing attacks against the Pirate gunboats.  The Japanese lose two fighter in the first tun, but score two hits against the Razor III.  The Razor III loses mass drivers, starboard quarter shielding, Even with both Japanese warships knocked down, there are still six fighters and three scouts on the table (plus one pirate scout). Technically, the game right now is a DRAW, with the Japanese left with 15 points [(6 x 2) + 3] = 15 points) on the table against the Pirates' 7 + 7 + 1 = 15 (you have to win by at least 5% of the starting total (63 points). But for testing purposes, the Japanese fighters will make strafing attacks against the Pirate gunboats. The Japanese lose two fighter in the first tun, but score two hits against the Razor III. The Razor III loses mass drivers, starboard quarter shielding,
On turn five the fighters can ironically not keeping up with the accelerating gunboats.  But in order to count as victory points, the gunboats have to remain in the battle space, which means they will have to turn around ...  Meanwhile the Japanese scouts score a moral victory by shooting down the one Pirate scout. On turn five the fighters can ironically not keeping up with the accelerating gunboats. But in order to count as victory points, the gunboats have to remain in the battle space, which means they will have to turn around ... Meanwhile the Japanese scouts score a moral victory by shooting down the one Pirate scout.
On Turn 6, almost all the Japanese fighters are shot down in another suicidal gunnery run on the gunboats (some survive however, because the Razor III has sensor damage and reduced mass driver fire).  However, with no starboard quarter shielding, the Razor III really needs only one more hit to be potentially crippled.  The fighters and scouts score it, and the Razor III is crippled by fighter strafing.  The game is effectively called at this point, as there is no way the last Japanese fighter and three scouts can knock out that gunboat, and the gunboat will never catch the fighters if they don't want to engage (initiative and turn sequence).  So the score is Japan 5, Pirates 7. The Pirates win by 2, BARELY enough to clear the required 5% of the starting total in order to claim a win.   On Turn 6, almost all the Japanese fighters are shot down in another suicidal gunnery run on the gunboats (some survive however, because the Razor III has sensor damage and reduced mass driver fire). However, with no starboard quarter shielding, the Razor III really needs only one more hit to be potentially crippled. The fighters and scouts score it, and the Razor III is crippled by fighter strafing. The game is effectively called at this point, as there is no way the last Japanese fighter and three scouts can knock out that gunboat, and the gunboat will never catch the fighters if they don't want to engage (initiative and turn sequence). So the score is Japan 5, Pirates 7. The Pirates win by 2, BARELY enough to clear the required 5% of the starting total in order to claim a win.

So is this game balanced? Technically, yes.  But the Japanese player cannot make a single mistake and has to be at least moderately lucky (or at least not unlucky to pull off a win or at least a respectably draw.

Honestly, I would say this scenario design is still pretty flawed, as the odds for victory are still undeniably with the the pirate player.

Are corporate / pirate ships overpowered?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I’m starting to think the power / cost requirements for those +3 CICs is too low, so while they may not be “overpowered,” they may honestly be underpriced.  Larger power plants (and thus higher scenario points per ship) may be required to allow these ships to carry such advanced equipment.  This way they keep  them and the corporate high-tech flavor, but opposing players get to bring in more against them to keep the game fair and fun for both sides.

Definitely something to address in rules v1.1

Pirates vs. Japanese - Darkstar Live (Jan 19)

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 9
4 Comments

Battle report of a Darkstar Live game between community members @umbramancer (Japanese) and @nagek92 (Pirates)

August, 2519 – Outer Gas Giant, Eisenwolf Colony (Gliese 570 / 33 G. Libra)

Duchess Annabel’s War

Situation:  In the wake of recent battles at  Harwood’s Hope / Gliese 682 star system (Royal Navy, the Prussian Kriegsmarine, and the “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State), the Prussians and Black Dragons are pulling out, towing crippled and damaged ships back to Kriegsmarine bases at Eisenwolf Colony (Gliese 570).  The Prussians’ allies, the Imperial Japanese, are also sending a handful of ships to help cover this evacuation, as the Prussians themselves and especially the Black Dragons have been handled rather roughly at Harwood’s Hope.

As one such convoy begins to decelerate towards a large moon orbiting one of Eisenwolf’s outer gas giants, however, they are intercepted by a cadre of rogue pirates, hoping to pick  up some easy salvage from the  derelict Prussian and Black Dragon warships.  The pirates are intercepted by the Japanese security flotilla short of the derelict convoy however, and a battle is set to start.  Whoever winds up controlling this battlespace will have access to the crippled Black Dragon warships, either to escort them to port … or chop them up for scrap.

Also, Umbramancer has made a great little video of his own US-Japanese Darkstar Game on the D20 online platform.  Check out the video and give it a like!

Darkstar Video

 

So again, here are the forces squaring off.  This is a very small battle point-wise, little more than a skirmish.  One dated Japanese destroyer (IJN Harata - Kagumo class - 34 points) and one Japanese strike frigate (IJN Urakaze - Akashi class - 21 points) and two fighters start off on the Japanese side.  On the Pirate side is a flotilla of stolen / sold / So again, here are the forces squaring off. This is a very small battle point-wise, little more than a skirmish. One dated Japanese destroyer (IJN Harata - Kagumo class - 34 points) and one Japanese strike frigate (IJN Urakaze - Akashi class - 21 points) and two fighters start off on the Japanese side. On the Pirate side is a flotilla of stolen / sold / "acquired" Corporate Consortium raiders - the Baroness class "security frigate" Jasmine's Diamond, the Twilight class blockade runner Fast Company, and two Rogue glass gunboats Razor III and Stiletto. Now, we're trying to simulate something of a pirate "raid" here or ambush, so I'm experimenting with some scenario rules. The Japanese will automatically lose the first turn of initiative, and once they enter the table, the pirate raiders can then enter from ANY SIDE of the map sheet not covered by a planet. To balance for this advantage, I'm giving the Japanese another four fighters.
Here is the situation at the end of movement, Turn 01.  The Japanese have entered the table from the upper left, turning hard to starboard to steer away from the planet.  Gravity effects this turn, and this is where they wind up.  Clearly Umbramancer was hoping to screen his vulnerable stern areas against the pirates sure to pop in behind him.  But he doesn't hug the planet quite tightly enough, giving the pirates enough room to sweep in from the same general vector, turn to starboard, and point their bows (loaded with deadly Class V Here is the situation at the end of movement, Turn 01. The Japanese have entered the table from the upper left, turning hard to starboard to steer away from the planet. Gravity effects this turn, and this is where they wind up. Clearly Umbramancer was hoping to screen his vulnerable stern areas against the pirates sure to pop in behind him. But he doesn't hug the planet quite tightly enough, giving the pirates enough room to sweep in from the same general vector, turn to starboard, and point their bows (loaded with deadly Class V "Sparta V" torpedoes right against the stern of the Japanese warships.
The fire phase of Turn 1.  The Pirate approach, while awesome, wasn't quite perfect, as those two gunboats are JUST out of position to hit the stern of the frigate Urakaze, their forward weapons will instead hit the starboard quarter.  Still, forward pirate guns hammer the Urakaze's fantail.  They are MURDEROUSLY accurate with +3 CICs, but they have very few weapons and they are very light.  This disadvantage is further exacerbated by the f act that only forward-mounted pirate weapons can fire.  But the pirates get solid hit locations, and manage to shut down the Urakaze's engines and set  her adrift and crippled in space.  Meanwhile, the Urakaze has NO aft-mounted weapons (as a strike frigate, everything is mounted forward).  So she actually never fires a shot in response.  The larger destroyer Harata, however, hits the Fast Company with aft 40KG plasma projector and 5GW rail  guns, all but blowing off the front half of this very small ship.The fire phase of Turn 1. The Pirate approach, while awesome, wasn't quite perfect, as those two gunboats are JUST out of position to hit the stern of the frigate Urakaze, their forward weapons will instead hit the starboard quarter. Still, forward pirate guns hammer the Urakaze's fantail. They are MURDEROUSLY accurate with +3 CICs, but they have very few weapons and they are very light. This disadvantage is further exacerbated by the f act that only forward-mounted pirate weapons can fire. But the pirates get solid hit locations, and manage to shut down the Urakaze's engines and set her adrift and crippled in space. Meanwhile, the Urakaze has NO aft-mounted weapons (as a strike frigate, everything is mounted forward). So she actually never fires a shot in response. The larger destroyer Harata, however, hits the Fast Company with aft 40KG plasma projector and 5GW rail guns, all but blowing off the front half of this very small ship.
The Urakaze careens away while the Fast Company tries to limp clear of the firing.  The Hatara pursues her (the Harata actually beats her on initiative), but can't quite get a broadside on the Fast Company due to the gravity of that gas giant's moon.  The pirates turn to port and rush after the Harata, the Jasmine's Diamond crossing her T and the two gunboats rushing past her to Harata's bow with their aft weapons.  Nagek92's strategy here is to deny the Harata any use of her aft weapons, deftly using geometry and fire arcs to take away half of the larger Japanese ship's firepower.  True, this means no weapons will hit the Harata's vulnerable engines, but with this much firepower coming at the Harata's bow, especially that hail of Sparta XII torpedoes, the Japanese destroyer is in big trouble.  Japanese fighters and scouts will try to shoot some of these down, while the other Japanese fighters will try to finish off the heavily-damaged Fast Company by hitting her ravaged, unshielded bow.The Urakaze careens away while the Fast Company tries to limp clear of the firing. The Hatara pursues her (the Harata actually beats her on initiative), but can't quite get a broadside on the Fast Company due to the gravity of that gas giant's moon. The pirates turn to port and rush after the Harata, the Jasmine's Diamond crossing her T and the two gunboats rushing past her to Harata's bow with their aft weapons. Nagek92's strategy here is to deny the Harata any use of her aft weapons, deftly using geometry and fire arcs to take away half of the larger Japanese ship's firepower. True, this means no weapons will hit the Harata's vulnerable engines, but with this much firepower coming at the Harata's bow, especially that hail of Sparta XII torpedoes, the Japanese destroyer is in big trouble. Japanese fighters and scouts will try to shoot some of these down, while the other Japanese fighters will try to finish off the heavily-damaged Fast Company by hitting her ravaged, unshielded bow.
Things just don't go well for the Japanese in this fire phase, at all.  The Harata's ENTIRE BARRAGE completely misses the Jasmine's Diamond.  I actually re-ran this firephase as an example and showed how a solid hit from  the Harata would have easily crippled the Jasmine's Diamond, instantly knocking out the largest pirate ship and bringing the game back into balance.  But the Japanese missed ... with EVERYTHING, so that's the result we stay with.  Meanwhile Pirate mass drivers roll several 5s and 6s, mauling the Japanese fighters before they can knock out the Fast Company or shoot down incoming pirate torpedoes.  These torpedoes slam into the Harata, all but ripping the front end clean off the 52,000 ton destroyer.  Guns follow up, but this Kagumo-class destroyer is a tough old girl and she remains in the fight, although with four boxes of core damage - she has an 80% chance to break off.  She does so, and must now make best speed toward the closest corner of the map.  Effectively, this battle is already over.Things just don't go well for the Japanese in this fire phase, at all. The Harata's ENTIRE BARRAGE completely misses the Jasmine's Diamond. I actually re-ran this firephase as an example and showed how a solid hit from the Harata would have easily crippled the Jasmine's Diamond, instantly knocking out the largest pirate ship and bringing the game back into balance. But the Japanese missed ... with EVERYTHING, so that's the result we stay with. Meanwhile Pirate mass drivers roll several 5s and 6s, mauling the Japanese fighters before they can knock out the Fast Company or shoot down incoming pirate torpedoes. These torpedoes slam into the Harata, all but ripping the front end clean off the 52,000 ton destroyer. Guns follow up, but this Kagumo-class destroyer is a tough old girl and she remains in the fight, although with four boxes of core damage - she has an 80% chance to break off. She does so, and must now make best speed toward the closest corner of the map. Effectively, this battle is already over.
The Fast Company continues to get clear, as the Harata likewise hair-pin turns about and makes best breakaway speed.  Her bridge has been hit, her forward magazine has been hit, three mass driver mounts are knocked down, she has no forward shields, post-battle campaign resolution will show that her captain is in fact already killed, the XO apparently gave the order to break off.  But again, luck just isn't with the Japanese.  Those scouts pursuing the Fast Company really could have knocked her out with just some slightly better luck on the dice, but it's tough to knock out even a heavily damaged corvette with only The Fast Company continues to get clear, as the Harata likewise hair-pin turns about and makes best breakaway speed. Her bridge has been hit, her forward magazine has been hit, three mass driver mounts are knocked down, she has no forward shields, post-battle campaign resolution will show that her captain is in fact already killed, the XO apparently gave the order to break off. But again, luck just isn't with the Japanese. Those scouts pursuing the Fast Company really could have knocked her out with just some slightly better luck on the dice, but it's tough to knock out even a heavily damaged corvette with only "machine guns." Still, it could have happened, about a 1:2 chance. Meanwhile, the forward batteries of the Harata (minus one 5-GW rail gun turret lost earlier) damned near blows the port quarter off the Jasmine's Diamond. The largest pirtae ship on the table AGAIN gets lucky as the exact hit locations of those hits aren't the best, they fail to hit any engines or reactors. Then they could have caused the Jasmine's Diamond to "fail morale" and break off the action, but again the Jasmine's Diamond makes that roll. Just one of these die rolls could at least turned this game in a closer affair, maybe even a draw, but the Japanese just can't buy a break this afternoon. Meanwhile, the Harata is finally crippled, and the game is officially over.
Here's the WRS for the Fast Company, hit just once by the Harata's aft weapons on Turn 1, then pinged by long-range plasma projector fire on the stern on Turn 3 as she tried to get clear.Here's the WRS for the Fast Company, hit just once by the Harata's aft weapons on Turn 1, then pinged by long-range plasma projector fire on the stern on Turn 3 as she tried to get clear.
The hapless Harata, fully The hapless Harata, fully "cored" like an apple from bow to stern. Post-battle resolution (Warship Recovery and Captain Survival Checks) will show that not only was the captain killed when that laser cut through the bridge, but the XO was taken prisoner by the pirates when the Harata was BOARDED and CAPTURED! Then, the Urakaze was about to be boarded by the crew managed to evacuate and blow the ship up before she fell into pirate hands.

In retrospect and in the course of writing this battle report, it occurs to me that allowing the pirates to drop in behind the Japanese like that really was a big advantage, much bigger than the four fighters with which I sought to balance it.  Furthermore, those Japanese fighters never even launched their missiles.  Twice the Jasmine’s Diamond should have been destroyed or at least crippled, and the Fast Company was also more than a little fortunate to escape under her own power.

Please understand, I’m not taking away from @nagek92’s win.  He saw an advantage and took  it, correctly recognizing that his main weapons were his torpedo arrays, not his gun broadsides.  He did an absolutely fantastic job on his game of Darkstar, not only smashing this small Japanese battle group but walking away with a captured destroyer (far larger than any pirate ship currently in canon).

Now, the Japanese really love these Kagumo class destroyers.  As you may have seen in the write ups in the Darkstar book, they are 35-40 years old, and sometimes have fathers and sons serving together in a “legacy ship” media program.  Long story short, the pirates probably can’t use this ship, but could probably ransom her back to the Japanese in exchange for a much newer, faster, and technologically advanced Takashiro class destroyer, or enough money to buy several more Baroness class frigates from the Corporate Consortium that really shouldn’t be selling them to outlaws anyway.

Whatever the case, the Pirates definitely walked away with a win on this one!

Yo ho, yo ho!  A pirate’s life for me!  

Darkstar Live - Pirates vs. Japanese - Saturday, Jan 19

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
2 Comments

Good afternoon, everyone !

We’re scheduled for another Darkstar battle, live on the web with a member of the community, on Saturday January 19 (6PM GMT / 1PM EST).

We’ll be trying out a new faction with the Rogue class armed sloops, Twilight class blockade runners, and Baroness class “security frigates” of the Corporate Consortium (here deployed as outright pirates) against the Imperial Japanese in the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War.

We’ve had some big, heavyweight punch-ups between heavy cruiser battlegroups lately, it’s time for a small, fast, nasty little high-tech knife fight!

If you’re interested in checking out the game, chatting with the players or the designer, of just getting a first-hand look at how Darkstar works (especially at this smaller-ship level), just send me a PM with an e-mail address where I can send web conference link.

Log on at the appointed time and you’re at the table with us!

Darkstar Live - Pirates vs. Japanese - Saturday, Jan 19
Darkstar Live - Pirates vs. Japanese - Saturday, Jan 19

British vs. Black Dragon Rebels

Tutoring 10
Skill 10
Idea 10
4 Comments

Okay, Darkstar fans, I’m happy to say we’ve had another great game this past weekend, where @damon from the community again took his new heavy cruiser HMS Bellapheron (Trafalgar Class) and escort destroyer HMS Essex (Falklands Class) into another battle, perhaps looking for a little redemption after the loss suffered at the hands of my Prussians last weekend (skirmish at Vancouver Station).

So Damon received this briefing from the first officer of Bellerophon’s first officer:

Good afternoon, sir.  I have the honour of reporting that both HMS Bellerpheron and HMS Essex have completed shakedown cruises after their refits in Annabel’s Star dry dock.

  • We also have orders from the Admiralty (Operations Office, Scorpio / Libra Strategic Command Sector, Commodore Sir David Pellard).
  • We are to sortie at once, setting a Darkstar course back to the Gleise 682 (Harwood’s Hope, M3.5 red dwarf) star system, where we recently came up a little short against the Prussians at our orbital facilities at Vancouver Station.
  • In the wake of that unfortunate scuffle, the Prussians have of course taken possession of Vancouver Station, and in fact used it to repair KMS Lutzow while we were laid up in drydock ourselves here at Annabel’s Star.
  • In addition, the Prussians have also made themselves rather comfortable in the outer orbital zones, setting up automated detector buoys. Clearly they expect us to mount a push back into the system, and intend to be ready.
  • Whether at Vancouver Station or in the outer orbital zones, Prussian naval presence in Gliese 682 is unacceptable. The Harwood’s Hope system is an important waypoint along our Empire’s shipping lanes from Annabel’s Star back toward our Core colonies and Earth.  Prussian interference along this route cannot be allowed to stand.
  • Furthermore, the Prussians’ allies, the Russian/Chinese rebels of the so-called Khitan-Tunguska Free State (the Black Dragons), have been allowed to stage some of their ships in Gliese 682.
  • This has our Panasian allies in quite a state, as it puts the Black Dragons (their sworn enemies) just 8 light-years from Ross 154, their largest Core colony in the region.
  • Accordingly, we are directed to probe the outer protoplanetary debris rings of Gleise 682, with a view to find and engage the reported Black Dragon battlegroup in the area. It is our hope that a solid enough defeat against these rebels might compel the Prussians to either weaken their defenses of Vancouver Station, pull in additional ships from other hard-pressed sectors throughout the warzone, or even abandon Harwood’s Hope altogether.
  • Either way, a stiff blow against the Black Dragon rebels will placate our allies in the Panasian Union and Holy Russian Empire, perhaps enough to compel their help in expanded operations against the Prussian sector headquarters and shipyards at Eisenwolf Colony.
Current situation, Duchess Annabel's War (2519, Scorpio/Libra SCS) - June, 2519   Current situation, Duchess Annabel's War (2519, Scorpio/Libra SCS) - June, 2519
So here’s the battle area, somewhere in the bottomless abyss of this star system’s outer protoplanetary debris fields (what we would call the “Kuiper Belt” in our home star system).  The asteroids and planetismal you’re familiar with.  Note the dust clouds.  Any ship that has to fire INTO or THROUGH at least one dust cloud hex has to -1 from its target to hit number.  Shooting through multiple dust cloud hexes is not cumulative.  So here’s the battle area, somewhere in the bottomless abyss of this star system’s outer protoplanetary debris fields (what we would call the “Kuiper Belt” in our home star system). The asteroids and planetismal you’re familiar with. Note the dust clouds. Any ship that has to fire INTO or THROUGH at least one dust cloud hex has to -1 from its target to hit number. Shooting through multiple dust cloud hexes is not cumulative.
So here’s the set up.  Damon has the HMS Bellepheron (nicknamed “Billy Ruffian” as her namesake was at the Battle of Trafalgar – 1805) and escort ship, the Falklands class destroyer HMS Essex.  That’s 122 + 50 = 172 points.  The Black Dragons have the Russian-built Slava class heavy cruiser KTS Grozhayev (102 points), the Russian-built Sovnya class destroyer KTS Zharino (42 points), and the Panasian built Zhao Ha class missile frigate Khangta (21 points).  This puts the Black Dragons 7 points short, so I install the “ECM/Shielding” upgrade on the Zharino (20% of the destroyer’s base cost = 8), to bring their available forces to 173.  Then, the Khangta’s scout plane goes on the fritz, and is down for maintenance for this battle, bringing the game to a perfect 172 point balance.  Both battlegroups enter the board and opening volleys are exchanged at the absurd distance of 28 hexes = just over 5000 kilometers, the distance between Coleraine and Tehran.   So here’s the set up. Damon has the HMS Bellepheron (nicknamed “Billy Ruffian” as her namesake was at the Battle of Trafalgar – 1805) and escort ship, the Falklands class destroyer HMS Essex. That’s 122 + 50 = 172 points. The Black Dragons have the Russian-built Slava class heavy cruiser KTS Grozhayev (102 points), the Russian-built Sovnya class destroyer KTS Zharino (42 points), and the Panasian built Zhao Ha class missile frigate Khangta (21 points). This puts the Black Dragons 7 points short, so I install the “ECM/Shielding” upgrade on the Zharino (20% of the destroyer’s base cost = 8), to bring their available forces to 173. Then, the Khangta’s scout plane goes on the fritz, and is down for maintenance for this battle, bringing the game to a perfect 172 point balance. Both battlegroups enter the board and opening volleys are exchanged at the absurd distance of 28 hexes = just over 5000 kilometers, the distance between Coleraine and Tehran.
Damon keeps sidestepping with his two British ships, clearly hoping to outdistance (or at least delay the impact) of my torpedoes, while whittling them down with his scouts.  My scouts keep trying to shoot down his, but to no success.  Meanwhile, we’re slapping at each other still over very long gunnery distances, where Damon’s ships will have something of an advantage as his guns are more accurate.  I’m still trying to close the range, of course, where my larger Russian and Chinese guns (especially the dreaded Russian plasma projectors) will have greater impact. Damon keeps sidestepping with his two British ships, clearly hoping to outdistance (or at least delay the impact) of my torpedoes, while whittling them down with his scouts. My scouts keep trying to shoot down his, but to no success. Meanwhile, we’re slapping at each other still over very long gunnery distances, where Damon’s ships will have something of an advantage as his guns are more accurate. I’m still trying to close the range, of course, where my larger Russian and Chinese guns (especially the dreaded Russian plasma projectors) will have greater impact.
Damon keeps playing hard to get.  The range is now “down” to 20 hexes, 3600 kilometers.  All this time, Damon’s been trying to hit the smallest ship in my fleet, the frigate Khangta.  This is to maybe score an “easy” early kill, knocking down my firepower a little before the two sides really come to grips, and reducing the number of torpedoes I can throw at him in one turn.  Besides, as Damon learned to his cost last week, once these ships get close, there’s practically no way a heavy cruiser can get frigates or corvettes off her stern.     Damon keeps playing hard to get. The range is now “down” to 20 hexes, 3600 kilometers. All this time, Damon’s been trying to hit the smallest ship in my fleet, the frigate Khangta. This is to maybe score an “easy” early kill, knocking down my firepower a little before the two sides really come to grips, and reducing the number of torpedoes I can throw at him in one turn. Besides, as Damon learned to his cost last week, once these ships get close, there’s practically no way a heavy cruiser can get frigates or corvettes off her stern.
Things finally get serious on Turn 4.  The Grozhayev blows an initiative roll, and I try to turn to starboard in an attempt to present a possible broadside at the British.  This allows Damon to accelerate (the Trafalgar class is actually pretty fast for a heavy cruiser) and turn to port, cutting a broadside across Grozhayev’s stern.  I hope to either (a) mitigate the damage by responding with closer broadsides of my frigate and destroyer, or (b) offer up the smaller ships as bait to save my heavy cruiser.  Damon “takes the bait,” and but both his ships into a punishing broadside into the Khangta and Zharino.  The Khangta (being a frigate) is much more fragile and takes more damage, but believe it or not - it’s the Zharino that loses power and is now burning and adrift in space.  Things finally get serious on Turn 4. The Grozhayev blows an initiative roll, and I try to turn to starboard in an attempt to present a possible broadside at the British. This allows Damon to accelerate (the Trafalgar class is actually pretty fast for a heavy cruiser) and turn to port, cutting a broadside across Grozhayev’s stern. I hope to either (a) mitigate the damage by responding with closer broadsides of my frigate and destroyer, or (b) offer up the smaller ships as bait to save my heavy cruiser. Damon “takes the bait,” and but both his ships into a punishing broadside into the Khangta and Zharino. The Khangta (being a frigate) is much more fragile and takes more damage, but believe it or not - it’s the Zharino that loses power and is now burning and adrift in space.
Again the Grozhayev loses initiative.  This isn’t just bad dice, the Billy Ruffian has a better chance here due to her higher thrust (surplus power / mass ratio).  Anyway, I cut toward the Bellopheron, hoping to avoid another broadside across my stern, or at the very least, close the range where my big Russian flamethrowers will burn the Billy Ruffian into the “Beefsteak Ruffian.”  Well, I get one of my wishes.  We are now in the same hex (less than 100 kilometers apart).  Now I can only fire my aft guns, and Damon can fire ALL of his guns.  Also, he’s shooting into my stern, I’m shooting into his starboard bow.  So does the Khangta.  The Essex wasn’t no part of this apocalyptic shooting match, and can’t turn away in time, so instead has to power FORWARD in the hopes that distance and dust clouds will keep her safe from Grozhayev;s forward guns (you know, the ones that CAN’T shoot at Beefsteak Ruffian).  Again the Grozhayev loses initiative. This isn’t just bad dice, the Billy Ruffian has a better chance here due to her higher thrust (surplus power / mass ratio). Anyway, I cut toward the Bellopheron, hoping to avoid another broadside across my stern, or at the very least, close the range where my big Russian flamethrowers will burn the Billy Ruffian into the “Beefsteak Ruffian.” Well, I get one of my wishes. We are now in the same hex (less than 100 kilometers apart). Now I can only fire my aft guns, and Damon can fire ALL of his guns. Also, he’s shooting into my stern, I’m shooting into his starboard bow. So does the Khangta. The Essex wasn’t no part of this apocalyptic shooting match, and can’t turn away in time, so instead has to power FORWARD in the hopes that distance and dust clouds will keep her safe from Grozhayev;s forward guns (you know, the ones that CAN’T shoot at Beefsteak Ruffian).
Well, believe it or not we both survived that, although Grozhayev is realty in trouble here.  AGAIN I lose initiative, so instead I now cut with my stern to an asteroid in the hopes of covering my damaged fantail.  Nope, not if the Bellopheron feels lucky enough to survive ANOTHER point-blank plasma projector barbeque!  “I like my British . . . extra crispy!”Well, believe it or not we both survived that, although Grozhayev is realty in trouble here. AGAIN I lose initiative, so instead I now cut with my stern to an asteroid in the hopes of covering my damaged fantail. Nope, not if the Bellopheron feels lucky enough to survive ANOTHER point-blank plasma projector barbeque! “I like my British . . . extra crispy!”
Trying my damnedest to shake the Broiled Ruffian off my ass, I accelerate the Grozhayev three more KPS and then have just enough thrust to pull a fishhook 180-degree turn, hoping to keep my stern out to deep space.  Now finally this is a move the Bellopheron cannot match (she’s lost maneuvering thrusters and three sensors by this point.  But I have NO AFT SHIELDS, one more volley on the stern and I’ve had it.  The only way Bellopheron can do this is to scream straight at me, then, as she’s passing AGAIN in the same hex, put her aft guns into my stern.  This finally does it, not QUITE doing enough damage to the Grozhayev to explode her reactors (for the Bruised Ruffian, that would be VERY bad at this point).   Meanwhile, the Essex, which has been more or less circling the cruisers, pinging in with long-ranged fire while trying to slow down and not fly off the map, scores a broadside into the reeling wreck of the little Khangta, finally crippling here as well.  Trying my damnedest to shake the Broiled Ruffian off my ass, I accelerate the Grozhayev three more KPS and then have just enough thrust to pull a fishhook 180-degree turn, hoping to keep my stern out to deep space. Now finally this is a move the Bellopheron cannot match (she’s lost maneuvering thrusters and three sensors by this point. But I have NO AFT SHIELDS, one more volley on the stern and I’ve had it. The only way Bellopheron can do this is to scream straight at me, then, as she’s passing AGAIN in the same hex, put her aft guns into my stern. This finally does it, not QUITE doing enough damage to the Grozhayev to explode her reactors (for the Bruised Ruffian, that would be VERY bad at this point). Meanwhile, the Essex, which has been more or less circling the cruisers, pinging in with long-ranged fire while trying to slow down and not fly off the map, scores a broadside into the reeling wreck of the little Khangta, finally crippling here as well.
What a British victory.  Both the Bellopheron and Essex are still operational (although VERY worse for wear), while the whole Black Dragon task force has been crippled.  All three Black Dragon ships will make their recovery checks, however, perhaps proof of just how serious the Prussians are about keeping them as allies.  This will mean the Prussians are evacuating the Harwood’s Hope system, however (last week’s minor British defeat vs today’s major British victory = a net British minor victory), so the Prussians will but their losses and help their allies limp back to Eisenwolf Colony.  Meanwhile, here is the WRS of the “Battered Ruffian.”  It’s a good thing the Grozhayev finally went dark when she did, Damon’s flagship looks like she needs another refit in dry dock!  Indeed, what the Trafalgar class’ design “spends” in speed and technology, the Slava class spends in armor and shielding.  Like most Russian ships, she’s more than a little sturdy.    What a British victory. Both the Bellopheron and Essex are still operational (although VERY worse for wear), while the whole Black Dragon task force has been crippled. All three Black Dragon ships will make their recovery checks, however, perhaps proof of just how serious the Prussians are about keeping them as allies. This will mean the Prussians are evacuating the Harwood’s Hope system, however (last week’s minor British defeat vs today’s major British victory = a net British minor victory), so the Prussians will but their losses and help their allies limp back to Eisenwolf Colony. Meanwhile, here is the WRS of the “Battered Ruffian.” It’s a good thing the Grozhayev finally went dark when she did, Damon’s flagship looks like she needs another refit in dry dock! Indeed, what the Trafalgar class’ design “spends” in speed and technology, the Slava class spends in armor and shielding. Like most Russian ships, she’s more than a little sturdy.
Meanwhile, the Khangta.  I can’t believe this ship made her Warship Recovery Check, it has been a while since I’ve seen a frigate take this much damage and actually survive.  Indeed, that battle went through Turn 7, pretty unusual for a Darkstar game. This was definitely a nasty one, where both sides were playing for keeps and no one’s ships wanted to give up the fight.  Congrats to Damon on a well-fought victory!     Meanwhile, the Khangta. I can’t believe this ship made her Warship Recovery Check, it has been a while since I’ve seen a frigate take this much damage and actually survive. Indeed, that battle went through Turn 7, pretty unusual for a Darkstar game. This was definitely a nasty one, where both sides were playing for keeps and no one’s ships wanted to give up the fight. Congrats to Damon on a well-fought victory!

Task Force Oriskany vs. Black Dragons (P2)

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
5 Comments

The conclusion of the battle between Task Force Oriskany and the Black Dragons of Task Force Tzarakin.

So far, the Americans are doing well.  Yes, this game is balanced in points (365-366) but honestly I’ve played some of these ships upwards of 100 times, so I know them very well. This is @gladesrunner’s first time playing with these classes.  So I admittedly do have an “unofficial” edge.

I put that edge to good use, angling my approach partially behind a planet to screen myself from some of what should have been a devastating initial Black Dragon volley.

Then I jack-knife turned away from her, outpacing her slower Panasian torpedoes, fatally breaking her ordinance strike into two waves (aerospace wave I have already largely defeated, and an incoming capital warship torpedo wave in Turn 3).

The heaviest Black Dragon warship, the Russian-built Slava class heavy cruiser Tzarakin is already down, almost exploded, in fact … so hopefully the Americans can now lean on this early lead and eventually win the game.

But now the Oriskany’s rival ship, the hated Xhia class light missile cruiser Zhang Jia, leads the rest of the Black Dragons to closer gunnery range (where my advantages in accuracy and tech and speed mean much less), and of course that massive Black Dragon torpedo wave is finally about to hit …

As the Black Dragon torpedoes are coming in against USS Oriskany, Princeton, and Daggerfish, American Mark 48 torpedoes are coming in against the Black Dragons.  Last turn, however, I was unable to launch anything close to a full spread because that jack-knife turn had many of my tubes pointing the wrong way.  The end result is that the Black Dragons, especially the Zhang Jia with her electronic warfare battle upgrade, have more than enough mass driver fire to destroy my torpedoes before they hit anything.As the Black Dragon torpedoes are coming in against USS Oriskany, Princeton, and Daggerfish, American Mark 48 torpedoes are coming in against the Black Dragons. Last turn, however, I was unable to launch anything close to a full spread because that jack-knife turn had many of my tubes pointing the wrong way. The end result is that the Black Dragons, especially the Zhang Jia with her electronic warfare battle upgrade, have more than enough mass driver fire to destroy my torpedoes before they hit anything.
Black Dragon torpedoes have also been largely suppressed, although a few Black Dragon torpedoes have also been largely suppressed, although a few "Tsing Tao" Class II Panasian torpedoes have struck the fantail of the USS Princeton, Engines are hit and Jenn will have a chance to roll to see if she's crippled during the Resolution Phase. Meanwhile, the little USS Daggerfish has been hit by Black Dragon guns, not easy given the Daggerfish's tiny size and advance ECM / gravitic shielding. Nevertheless, she's taken more than enough damage to leave her crippled and adrift in space. The first American ship is down! It might seem strange to pick on such a small ship this early in the game, but in fact knocking out enemy torpedo corvettes is usually not a bad idea early in the battle. They don't take too many hits to destroy, and knocking them out means far less torpedoes harassing you every turn. Meanwhile, the Marines of fighter/strike squadron VMF/A-319 (“Tigersharks”) are winning the fighter battle near the moon.
End of movement on Turn 4.  Because our ships are smaller, faster, and ALL have the End of movement on Turn 4. Because our ships are smaller, faster, and ALL have the "Starship Tactics" battle upgrade (+20% scenario cost), the Americans will almost always win initiative. This means the Black Dragons have to guess where they will be when taking their movement. This is starting to disorganize the Black dragon fleet a little, as Jenn tries to have guns pointing where she thinks the Americans might be. Also, I'm leaning on Darkstar table experience a little more here as well. Note how my ships are closer to the moon, stern toward the moon. This means that in order to turn toward me, Jenn has to aim her ships toward the moon, desperately dangerous since any ship that loses power on such a trajectory is gone forever. Things aren't all great for the Americans, the corvette Daggerfish (CV1) is now careening out of the battle area, on fire and out of control. And as the bombers of VMF/A-319 try to re-arm aboard the Marine assault carrier USS Tarawa, the Tarawa is about to be hit by still more Black Dragon torpedoes.
Death of the Black Dragon fighter wing.  They try to swing in to help shoot up the Tarawa's tail, but the Marines scouts and fighters of the Death of the Black Dragon fighter wing. They try to swing in to help shoot up the Tarawa's tail, but the Marines scouts and fighters of the "Tigershark" squadron have issue with the assault on their mother ship. The Black dragon fighters are massacred, only one survives from the entire Zharanyeva fighter group. But ... those torpedoes do the job after all (beneath the green "3" behind American DD4)! Enough of them hit Tarawa's fantail to wreck her engines and reactors. She will fail her cripple check during Resolution Phase, and the Tarawa is knocked out of the battle! Worse still, those four bombers were still in her hangar bays, so they are considered "destroyed units" as well. And while I've been bragging about how awesome these Marine pilots and aerospace craft are, the flip side is that this makes them very expensive. So I've just lost a lot of scenario points here. Good shooting Jenn!
Fortunately for the Americans, the destroyers USS Oriskany and USS Valley Forge were broadsided across the fantail of the light missile cruiser Xin Tian (see US DD1 and DD3 across the tail of Black Dragon CL2 two pictures above).  Two of my torpedoes hit, and then the gunnery of these two destroyers tears into what's left.  This is especially true for USS Oriskany, upgraded +2 gunnery accuracy and +1 gunnery impact (all hits acre considered one range bracket closer). The bridge is hit, four boxes of core damage inflicted (60% chance the ship will have to flee) but eight boxes of red critical structure hit as well.  A light cruiser is crippled on a 10+, -8 critical hits, = 2+ to cripple on a d6.  I make the roll, and Xin Tian is now dead in space. Fortunately for the Americans, the destroyers USS Oriskany and USS Valley Forge were broadsided across the fantail of the light missile cruiser Xin Tian (see US DD1 and DD3 across the tail of Black Dragon CL2 two pictures above). Two of my torpedoes hit, and then the gunnery of these two destroyers tears into what's left. This is especially true for USS Oriskany, upgraded +2 gunnery accuracy and +1 gunnery impact (all hits acre considered one range bracket closer). The bridge is hit, four boxes of core damage inflicted (60% chance the ship will have to flee) but eight boxes of red critical structure hit as well. A light cruiser is crippled on a 10+, -8 critical hits, = 2+ to cripple on a d6. I make the roll, and Xin Tian is now dead in space.
Turn 5, the last Turn 5, the last "dogfight." USS Daggerfish, USS Tarawa, KTS Tzarakin, KTS Xin Tian are all down. USS Oriskany, USS Princeton, USS Valley Forge, KTS Zhang Jia, and KTS Zharanyeva remain. At the extreme top of the picture, you can see where the Zharanyeva has re-launched her bombers, which are now set up for a second torpedo run on American warships, engaged in turn by my Navy and Marine Corps scouts.
So here's a closeup of the last desperate brawl.  DD1 = Oriskany.  DD2 = Princeton.  DD3 = Valley Forge.  CL1 = Zhang Jia.  CL3 = Zharanyeva (light cruiser-sized carrier)So here's a closeup of the last desperate brawl. DD1 = Oriskany. DD2 = Princeton. DD3 = Valley Forge. CL1 = Zhang Jia. CL3 = Zharanyeva (light cruiser-sized carrier)
Okay, here's the Turn 5 smackdown.  USS Princeton shoots down one Black Dragon bomber (despite sensor damage and range penalties), that two less aerospace torpedoes coming at me this turn.  The rest launch.  These are far more dangerous than the slower Chinese and Russian-built warship torpedoes, so Oriskany and Valley Forge engage them with point-defense mass drivers first.  Almost all are shot down, but several hit, along with some of the warship torpedoes (there are just too many of them, and USS Valley Forge doesn't have the same electronic warfare bonus as the Oriskany does).  That, and elite or not, these are still JUST destroyers, and it doesn't take that much damage to knock one down.  The Valley Forge is crippled!  She's already fired into the stern of the Zhang Jia, however, along with the Oriskany, in a point-blank broadside.  My Marine fighters went in for a gunnery run, followed by by torpedoes, most of which were shot down by mass drivers from the Zhang Jia (supported from the nearby carrier Zharanyeva) and also the remaining Black dragon scout planes.  Meanwhile, my scouts butcher the rest of the Black Dragon bombers (after they released ordinance and helped cripple the Valley Forge, unfortunately).Okay, here's the Turn 5 smackdown. USS Princeton shoots down one Black Dragon bomber (despite sensor damage and range penalties), that two less aerospace torpedoes coming at me this turn. The rest launch. These are far more dangerous than the slower Chinese and Russian-built warship torpedoes, so Oriskany and Valley Forge engage them with point-defense mass drivers first. Almost all are shot down, but several hit, along with some of the warship torpedoes (there are just too many of them, and USS Valley Forge doesn't have the same electronic warfare bonus as the Oriskany does). That, and elite or not, these are still JUST destroyers, and it doesn't take that much damage to knock one down. The Valley Forge is crippled! She's already fired into the stern of the Zhang Jia, however, along with the Oriskany, in a point-blank broadside. My Marine fighters went in for a gunnery run, followed by by torpedoes, most of which were shot down by mass drivers from the Zhang Jia (supported from the nearby carrier Zharanyeva) and also the remaining Black dragon scout planes. Meanwhile, my scouts butcher the rest of the Black Dragon bombers (after they released ordinance and helped cripple the Valley Forge, unfortunately).
The damage sheet on the Zhang Jia.  Marine fighters went in first, followed by torpedoes, then gunnery (per turn sequence).  The bridge is hit, along with six boxes of critical components.  Thus I need a 4+ to cripple, and happily I roll it.  The Zhang Jia will be back, though, she has Commander's Luck and will eventually make her survival roll on the Warship Recovery Table.  Villains this badass never go quietly into that good night!The damage sheet on the Zhang Jia. Marine fighters went in first, followed by torpedoes, then gunnery (per turn sequence). The bridge is hit, along with six boxes of critical components. Thus I need a 4+ to cripple, and happily I roll it. The Zhang Jia will be back, though, she has Commander's Luck and will eventually make her survival roll on the Warship Recovery Table. Villains this badass never go quietly into that good night!
So now the only ships left are the USS Oriskany, and VERY badly damaged USS Princeton, and the empty carrier Zharanyeva.  The Zharanyeva is powering off to the other side of the board to run out the clock for partial victory points, but the scouts are heading in for one last kamikaze effort to hit the unshielded side of the damaged Princeton.  Jenn comes close here, she really does, but the one point of damage that actually gets in just doesn't hit in the right place, and of course all  the scouts are massacred by mass driver point-defense and Marine fighters.  The battle, finally, is over.So now the only ships left are the USS Oriskany, and VERY badly damaged USS Princeton, and the empty carrier Zharanyeva. The Zharanyeva is powering off to the other side of the board to run out the clock for partial victory points, but the scouts are heading in for one last kamikaze effort to hit the unshielded side of the damaged Princeton. Jenn comes close here, she really does, but the one point of damage that actually gets in just doesn't hit in the right place, and of course all the scouts are massacred by mass driver point-defense and Marine fighters. The battle, finally, is over.

So that’s the end of a 366-point Darkstar game.  We did this in about 3 hours, but of course Jenn and I have been playing Darkstar for years and we buzz through the turns pretty quickly.  The final score is a solid American victory.

Again, these are my “special baby” warships I have played at least several dozen times, some of them over 100 times.  This was Jenn’s first try with these ships, classes, and designs.  Trust me, these same Americans have lost their share of battles against the Black Dragons, especially the Zhang Jia and her consorts.

The Zharanyeva is still on the table = 35 points.

The Oriskany (104 points), Princeton (horrifically damaged but operational, half points = 37 points), plus 8 double-elite fighters = 32 points, 2 double-elite scouts = 4 points, 6 standard scouts = 6 points = 183 points total.

Americans win by 183 – 35 = 148 point margin.

146 margin required for “major” victory (40% of larger side’s 366 points)

So yeah, just barely, this counts as a MAJOR American victory in the Xi Scorpio War of 2516-18.

Thanks for reading!

Task Force Oriskany vs. Black Dragons (P1)

Tutoring 10
Skill 10
Idea 11
7 Comments

So with all the Darkstar wargaming that’s been going on lately in MS Excel / web conference, D20, and Tabletop Simulator, I thought I would actually *gasp* put some playing pieces on an actual game board and play a game of Darkstar old-school, with physical sheets and playing pieces.

Furthermore, I wanted to finally “put my own skin in the game” again, with none other than the Valcour class destroyer USS Oriskany (DSGN-797) and her task force (destroyers USS Princeton, USS Valley Forge, the Marine Corps aerospace carrier USS Tarawa, and Mako class torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish) in a full-consequence, live-opponent, “timeline canon” battle set back during the Xi Scorpio War last year.

I didn’t want to set it in the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War between the British, Prussians, Russians, Panasians, New Romans, and other factions, as the Americans aren’t really a good fit for that conflict (it was honestly written for other factions)

Anyway, the opponent for the night would be the breakaway Sino-Russian rebels of the “Khitan-Tunguska” Free State (Black Dragons), one of the expansion factions.

The problem is, with the Oriskany and her task force so elite and so upgraded, their scenario point cost is very high, so in order to set up a balanced game, the enemy winds up with a lot of firepower.

Case in point:  The Black Dragons will come on the table with the Slava class heavy cruiser KTS Tzarakin, the Xhia class light missile cruisers Zhang Jia (Oriskany’s hated rival), the Xin Tian, and the Gagarin-class light fleet carrier Zharanyeva.

Gladesrunner (Jennifer) has agreed to play the Black Dragons for the evening.  In all, she outweighs me by at least 3-1, but both fleets are nearly perfectly balanced at 376-375.  It’s gonna be a big game, with a powerful Black Dragon task force up against a small, experienced, elite, and fast American task force.  Here’s hoping experience and technology and speed win out  over weight, size, and firepower.

So here is our imminent battle space.  The game mat is 44 hexes long, representing about 8,000 kilometers of space.  For reference, Planet Earth would be about 70 hexes in diameter, about one third of the planet would fit on this map. So here is our imminent battle space. The game mat is 44 hexes long, representing about 8,000 kilometers of space. For reference, Planet Earth would be about 70 hexes in diameter, about one third of the planet would fit on this map.
We make out initial approaches.  The Black Dragons will almost always lose initiative (American ships are smaller, faster, have upgraded thrust, and ALL of them have the We make out initial approaches. The Black Dragons will almost always lose initiative (American ships are smaller, faster, have upgraded thrust, and ALL of them have the "Starship Tactics" Battle Upgrade). So after Jennifer brings on her Black Dragons, I bring on Task Force Oriskany, carefully using that small moon's bulk to screen me from two of the enemy warships. Basically, the heavy cruiser and carrier will not be able to fire guns or launch torpedoes at tme this turn, but all my forward guns and torpedo tubes can engage the two Xhia-class light missile cruisers. We exchange opening volleys and wouldn't you know it, the Oriskany herself takes the first point of damage on her bow.
The Black Dragon fleet, having launched scouts, and a swarm of Russian-built fighters, bombers, and more scouts from the carrier Zharanyeva (CL3).  CA1 = the heavy cruiser Tzarakin, CL1 = the Zhang Jia, CL2 = the Xin Tian.  The Black Dragon fleet, having launched scouts, and a swarm of Russian-built fighters, bombers, and more scouts from the carrier Zharanyeva (CL3). CA1 = the heavy cruiser Tzarakin, CL1 = the Zhang Jia, CL2 = the Xin Tian.
The American task force (much smaller ships), having launched torpedoes and Corsair fighters, Avenger torpedo bombers, and Hawkeye scouts.  DD1 = Oriskany.  DD2 = Princeton.  DD3 = Valley Forge.  DD4 = the USMC aerospace carrier Tarawa.  CV1 = Daggerfish.The American task force (much smaller ships), having launched torpedoes and Corsair fighters, Avenger torpedo bombers, and Hawkeye scouts. DD1 = Oriskany. DD2 = Princeton. DD3 = Valley Forge. DD4 = the USMC aerospace carrier Tarawa. CV1 = Daggerfish.
End of movement on Turn 2.  The Oriskany Task Force has made a hard jack-knife turn to port, backing away from the oncoming Black Dragons.  This is to outdistance the torpedoes fired from the Zhang Jia and Xin Tian, while my torpedoes hopefully hit the stern of their heaviest ship, the Tzarakin.  Meanwhile, my Marine fighters and bombers are hugging the moon, set up just right to put their missiles and torpedoes into the Tzarain's tail as well.  My scouts engage Black Dragon bombers, while Black Dragon fighters and bombers launch ordinance at the Princeton.  I have two distinct advantages here.  One, that jackknife turn means that Jenn will be unable to put her warship torpedoes and aerospace ordinance into the same strike, and again, two of the Black Dragon warships were unable to launch last turn anyway (I was hidden in the eclipse shadow of that moon). End of movement on Turn 2. The Oriskany Task Force has made a hard jack-knife turn to port, backing away from the oncoming Black Dragons. This is to outdistance the torpedoes fired from the Zhang Jia and Xin Tian, while my torpedoes hopefully hit the stern of their heaviest ship, the Tzarakin. Meanwhile, my Marine fighters and bombers are hugging the moon, set up just right to put their missiles and torpedoes into the Tzarain's tail as well. My scouts engage Black Dragon bombers, while Black Dragon fighters and bombers launch ordinance at the Princeton. I have two distinct advantages here. One, that jackknife turn means that Jenn will be unable to put her warship torpedoes and aerospace ordinance into the same strike, and again, two of the Black Dragon warships were unable to launch last turn anyway (I was hidden in the eclipse shadow of that moon).
The results of my ordinance strike.  Most of my warships torpedoes were shot down, either by Black Dragon scouts or mass driver defensive fire from those cruisers.  Yes, USS Tarawa and specially Oriskany have Electronic Warfare battle upgrades that made this  more difficult, but these are BIG enemy ships that just have walls of guns along their beams.  However, this allowed by Marine aerospace ordinance to get through (hence, you always want to combine your ordinance strikes into single, massive waves).  The damage on the Tzarakin was pretty severe, despite her heavy shielding and armor, and then I get pretty lucky on the hit locations.  The damage chart shows were I hit no less than 15 critical structure boxes, meaning that not only is the Tzarakin crippled (no roll required), but there is a 20% chance she blows up right here, wiping out those scouts and burning off large slabs of armor off other Black Dragons ships.  Jenn rolls a 36, however, indicating that the Tzarakin managed to eject her reactors before they went critical.  The ship is just crippled, but didn't explode.  One thing that really helped this ordinance strike is the fact that these Marine Pilots have been double-upgraded with The results of my ordinance strike. Most of my warships torpedoes were shot down, either by Black Dragon scouts or mass driver defensive fire from those cruisers. Yes, USS Tarawa and specially Oriskany have Electronic Warfare battle upgrades that made this more difficult, but these are BIG enemy ships that just have walls of guns along their beams. However, this allowed by Marine aerospace ordinance to get through (hence, you always want to combine your ordinance strikes into single, massive waves). The damage on the Tzarakin was pretty severe, despite her heavy shielding and armor, and then I get pretty lucky on the hit locations. The damage chart shows were I hit no less than 15 critical structure boxes, meaning that not only is the Tzarakin crippled (no roll required), but there is a 20% chance she blows up right here, wiping out those scouts and burning off large slabs of armor off other Black Dragons ships. Jenn rolls a 36, however, indicating that the Tzarakin managed to eject her reactors before they went critical. The ship is just crippled, but didn't explode. One thing that really helped this ordinance strike is the fact that these Marine Pilots have been double-upgraded with "Elite Aerospace" - making them incredibly effective, and incredibly expensive.
Twenty aerospace torpedoes and sixteen aerospace missiles are heading for the starboard bow of USS Princeton.  But I have quite a bit of mas driver defensive fire myself, and while I don't have nearly as many guns, all my ships have at least a +1 CIC and some ships (Oriskany and Tarawa) also have electronic warfare battle upgrades.  Then the surviving warheads have to hit the ECM and gravitic shielding of the Princeton, which has been battle-upgraded as well ... twice.Twenty aerospace torpedoes and sixteen aerospace missiles are heading for the starboard bow of USS Princeton. But I have quite a bit of mas driver defensive fire myself, and while I don't have nearly as many guns, all my ships have at least a +1 CIC and some ships (Oriskany and Tarawa) also have electronic warfare battle upgrades. Then the surviving warheads have to hit the ECM and gravitic shielding of the Princeton, which has been battle-upgraded as well ... twice.
My scouts, meanwhile, engage Black Dragon bombers.  Two of these scouts are double-elite Marines off USS Tarawa.  The other six are standard skill level, two each off the Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge.  I take zero losses (these Black Dragon planes were all releasing ordinance at the Princeton), and four bombers are shot down.My scouts, meanwhile, engage Black Dragon bombers. Two of these scouts are double-elite Marines off USS Tarawa. The other six are standard skill level, two each off the Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge. I take zero losses (these Black Dragon planes were all releasing ordinance at the Princeton), and four bombers are shot down.
In all honesty, perhaps a big part of the Americans' luck so far is due to my little mascot, Fillmore the Bald Eagle!  In all honesty, perhaps a big part of the Americans' luck so far is due to my little mascot, Fillmore the Bald Eagle!
End of movement on Turn 3.  As the Black Dragons rushed me, I again sidestepped, back near my original position, then fishhook turned  around to present bow-on toward the enemy.  Yes, I am giving away broadsides by doing this, but this allows me to present more torpedoes toward the enemy.  Also, I should note that these American ships have been upgraded with additional Thrust, most End of movement on Turn 3. As the Black Dragons rushed me, I again sidestepped, back near my original position, then fishhook turned around to present bow-on toward the enemy. Yes, I am giving away broadsides by doing this, but this allows me to present more torpedoes toward the enemy. Also, I should note that these American ships have been upgraded with additional Thrust, most "out of the box" can't move with this much agility. I should also note that USS Princeton will only be launching half torpedoes, as that Black Dragon ordinance strike heavily damaged her starboard bow, enough to tear out her starboard torpedo array and knock out some of her sensors. Last note: Check out the savage little dogfight of fighters near that moon, where sixteen Black Dragon fighters have engaged ten USMC FS/A-81 "Corsair" fighters and six "Hawkeye" scouts (Navy and Marine Corps). Again, the Black Dragons have the edge in numbers, but I have the edge in double-elite experience.
As the Marine bombers land back board USS Tarawa to re-arm and re-launch, we see the full power of a Black Dragon torpedo strike finally about to hit the stern of either USS Princeton, Oriskany, or Daggerfish.  I can backpedal from these torpedo spreads for so long, so far I was able to break the Black Dragon's As the Marine bombers land back board USS Tarawa to re-arm and re-launch, we see the full power of a Black Dragon torpedo strike finally about to hit the stern of either USS Princeton, Oriskany, or Daggerfish. I can backpedal from these torpedo spreads for so long, so far I was able to break the Black Dragon's "Sunday Punch" into two smaller strikes, and delay the really big one by one turn (during which we crippled the Tzarakin). I just hope I've built up enough of a lead to carry me through the rest of the battle. The Americans of Task Force Oriskany have done great so far, but this battle is far, far from over, and the Black Dragons have finally closed the range to where they can start doing some serious damage.

Publication Complete, Donation Pool Closed

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 9
7 Comments

Good afternoon, OTT / Beasts of War.

Just posting a notification that publication for the new Darkstar v1 rules is now complete.  Also, the PayPal Donation Pool is now closed, so I also wanted to post a final Thank You for the amazing support I received from the players.  I use “amazing” here in the literal sense, what was given exceeded what I received by at least a factor of ten.

Seriously, guys and gals.  You pushed an old man off his ass to finally do something he hadn’t wanted to do for over six years, and made it worth his while.  For the donations, the support, the encouragement, and the motivation, thank you.

Meanwhile, the Darkstar rule book and first wave warships are now published and available for play.

Download Here

And we’re playing on-line, live with the community, the supporters, and of course the game designer 🙂 every weekend!  Just ping a PM if you’re ever interested, or if you’ve just watched old Star Wars, Star Trek, or BSG episodes and really wondered . . .

. . . would have what it takes to command starships in combat?

Talk to the people who  have tried this game.

See if they  have found the answers to that question.

Publication  Complete, Donation Pool Closed

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

Tutoring 8
Skill 7
Idea 8
6 Comments

Duchess Annabel’s War continues in Darkstar, where a Royal Navy battlegroup, originally built around the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Bellerpheron (played by Damon), faces off against an intruding Imperial Prussian battlegroup led by the Leopold class heavy cruiser KMS Lutzow (played by myself).

So far we’ve seen the Prussians make a very fast approach, eager to close the distance against more accurate, longer-ranged British guns.  The British made a dive toward the planet, peeling off in the nick of time in an effort to get behind the Prussian warships.  In so doing, however, the British allowed the Prussians to “cross their T” for a moment, all they needed for a gigantic broadside of Prussian rail guns (x8 11-gigawatt rail guns, x20 6-gigwatt rail guns) to shred the escorting destroyer HMS Essex.  The Essex has been crippled, her skipper perhaps dead or dying.

But the Bellerpheron has responded, knocking out one of the Lutzow’s maneuvering thrusters, making it all the more inevitable that the British heavy cruiser will be able to rake the big Prussian’s stern and cripple her as well.  If Damon can trade a destroyer for a heavy cruiser, he’ll  have this game all but won.

Now, the Lutzow loses initiative again (predictably – she has a slower thrust envelope because her power-weight ratio is lower than that of the Bellerpheron.  Also, making turns at this speed will be twice as hard as she has lost one of her maneuvering thrusters.

Nevertheless, determined to survive, Lutzow powers up out of the planet’s gravity well, spending two thrust points to painfully roll over on her back, thus shielding her damaged starboard quarter away from the Bellerophon.  But the Bellerpheron will not be denied her vengeance.  Still moving at 24 kilometers per second (8 hexes a turn), she powers her 146,000-ton bulk in a tight s-turn (against planetary gravity), then using the planet’s gravity to tug her back into position directly behind the Lutzow, presenting a full broadside into the Prussian’s engines at less than 550 kilometers (pointblank range for heavy cruiser weaponry).

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

The Lutzow opens fire with her two aft turrets of 11-gigawatt rail guns and two aft turrets of 6-gigawatt rail guns.  This is the first damage the Bellerpheron has taken this game, her starboard bow hammered by the big Blohm & Voss magnetic rail guns. There is internal structure damage, and the starboard hangar is knocked out, but casualties are light and Bellerpheron suffers no immediately critical damage.

With all turrets presenting a full starboard broadside, the Bellerpheron roars.  It cost the Royal Navy a destroyer and dozens of lives to get her into this position, this single broadside could well determine the game.  And the Lutzow has stronger gravitic shielding protecting her stern, just for this very reason.  But this close, and with the Bellerpheron’s Hawkinge Electronics 01A (+1 targeting CIC) fire control system, almost everything hits.  Most of the EPCs hammer into the port side of Lutzow’s stern, completely tearing apart the portside engine assembly and exploding the aft mass driver array completely out of the hull.  Portside reactors take a hit, and even life support systems are hit, knocking out artificial gravity and atmospheric controls for Lutzow’s 768 officers and men.  Fires burn out of control throughout engineering, further depleting breathable atmosphere.  Fire control teams in oxygen masks fight to control decompressions and fires, while the bridge crew tries to reroute reduced power output solely out of the starboard reactor and engine.

It doesn’t work.  Lights aboard the KMS Lutzow flicker and die, and the burning ship is now careening and adrift in space, trailing a long sheet of glowing molten metal and escaping, burning atmosphere.

In game terms, note that Damon has knocked out 9 “red” boxes of critical internal structure.  The Lutzow is a heavy cruiser, and so her “target to cripple” on a d6 starts at a 14+.  From that number, the 9 critical boxes are subtracted, leaving Damon with a 5+ chance during Turn 3’s resolution phase.   He nails a 6, crippling the Lutzow.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

However, referring back to the map, we see that the two Prussian frigates Jenna and Koblenz have kicked their engines almost full reverse, letting the planet’s gravity guide them almost directly behind the Bellerpheron.  Now their guns can never defeat the huge Bellerpheron (she outweighs each of these frigates almost 7-1), but they do have torpedoes, as does the little Prussian Type XII umfangangriffboot (perimeter attack boat) U-126.  And without the Essex to escort her, the Bellerpheron is going to have a much tougher time shooting all of these down.  The British scouts and fighters do their best, while the Prussian scouts fail to shoot down any British scouts.  But five of them survive, and two of them get through Bellerpheron’s shields to strike directly against her stern armor.

Next come the rail guns and deck laser of the frigates and corvette.  These actually score spectacularly well (they are in the same hex after all, perhaps as close as 50 kilometers). But the damage all tracks way to port, missing all the Bellerpheron’s engines and reactors (although the Prussians do hit the “CREW FAC” in column 1, putting a rail gun bolt through the Bellerophon’s pub.  Bad form!

The Bellerpheron tries to pull away.  Her captain for a moment considers chasing down and finishing off the Lutzow forever, but he’s still bound by orders to defend Vancouver Station.  Bellerpheron turns to starboard, but the much smaller Jenna, Koblenz, and U-126 can easily match the move, remaining on Bellerpheron’s damaged stern.  More torpedoes and rail guns are sent in, even as the tiny Jenna is cruelly charred by Bellerpheron’s aft EPCs and lasers.  This time the Prussian hits track further to Bellerpheron’s starboard, eventually knocking out the medical bay.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

Now here is where British luck at last gives out completely.  In the damage chart below, note where two “core” boxes have been hit (gray).  This causes the Bellerpheron to make a “breakoff” check.  But heavy cruisers only have a 10% chance of breaking off per core box hit.  So with two boxes, Bellerpheron only has a 20% chance of failing that roll.

But Damon rolls percentile 07.  Perhaps it was the screams of dead and dying from the medical bay (really the only crew losses the Bellerpheron has taken so far) that compel the officers of Bellerpheron to break off the engagement.  Perhaps Vancouver Station has now been evacuated, and further bloodshed now seems pointless.

In game terms, the Bellerpheron must now change course for the closest non-planet corner of the map, and she is now allowed to decelerate.  It will take one more turn for her to each it and leave the map (then punching the Darkstar FTL drive, perhaps after rescuing survivors of the HMS Essex).  This allows a second aft barrage to hit KMS Jenna, burning through the little frigate’s bridge (wounding but not killing the skipper – a “4” rolled on the Captain Survival Table).  Lasers then hit the little corvette U-126.  One laser hits the port bow, straight toward the corvette’s bridge.  If Bellerpheron’s other aft laser hits there as well, the corvette will also be crippled.  But it misses, leaving the tiny U-boat damaged but operational.

The last volley of fire from the three Prussian ships, like wolves attacking a wounded bear, actually cripple the Bellerpheron as she’s leaving the table at the end of Turn 5.  In column 1, you can see where one of Koblenz’s torpedoes actually exploded all the way through the back of the ship, and out the bow.  Yet amazingly, only two core boxes are hit, and thus crew casualties aboard the Bellerpheron will actually be very light (she carries 677 officers and men in all).

Note this damage chart reflect three successive broadsides of all three remaining Prussian ships, plus three torpedo spreads, all right in the stern (plus Lutzow’s original aft guns into her port bow).     By now the two Prussian frigates are almost out of torpedoes, while the U-126 is completely out of torpedoes.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

The final result.  With only a frigate, corvette, and four scouts left, Prussian score is 20 + 12 + 4 = 36 points.  The British have 4 scouts and 2 fighters = 8 points, giving the Prussians a 28 point victory (15.9%).  This definitely gives them Vancouver Station, but by no means is considered a “major victory (a margin of 40%+ is required for that, per Rule 5.2.1.C.iii, p. 99).  The Prussians are too busy getting tugs and rescue ships out to the Lutzow and solidifying their hold on this new station / moon / planet – they certainly won’t be immediately exploiting this success deeper into this British-held star system.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P2)

Speaking of post-battle resolution – we were just clowning around after the game and Damon actually failed the recovery check on HMS Bellerpheron.  So I’m considering that first roll that would actually have to be made in this game,   the Captain Survival Check for the skipper of HMS Essex (bridge completely knocked out).  The commander of this ship, Commander Lawrence Book, sadly died when those rail guns went through the bridge.  But the Bellerpheron would eventually be recovered, as would the Essex herself.  Meanwhile, the Lutzow and Jenna would also be safely recovered and brought back to service, although the Lutzow will require 34 days in dry dock to be ready for action again, if they can repair her at Vancouver Station.  If they have to tow her back to another station, God only knows how long it will take for her to limp back there (Rule 5.4.6.B.ii stipulates 3 days per light year, this could be as much as another month just in tow time).

In all, a great  game, one for “canon” in the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War.  😀  The Prussians squeaked by on this one, but trust me, with the hammering the Russians and British have been giving them in this war so far, they have quite a deep hole to dig their way out of.

As far as post-battle advice goes … the move to get behind the Lutzow was a good one, but my Americans and Japanese have fought many battles against Russian K-56 torpedo corvettes.  They take maybe 1-2 “big gun hits” to cripple.  Knock that U-boat out early when the ranges are still a little long, you’ll never outmaneuver her in a close-up dogfight.  If if she was out, you Bellopheron never would have gone down to the torpedoes of the Jenna and Koblenz.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

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The Darkstar universe continues to gain momentum as another on-line game was run live on Sunday, January 6. This time we had Damon from the UK on with us, along with a gallery on onlookers including several prospective new players and @aras , one of the original playtesters of the Darkstar system from all the way back in 2012.

As always, if you’re interested in this wargame, we play live online almost every week  Just ping me a PM with an e-mail address if interested.  Also, the rule rook is available for download: here

Damon was hoping to test out the new heavy cruiser design he commissioned as part of the Darkstar Rule Book v1.0 Project, the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser.  This class breaks with several traditions of the Royal Navy, foregoing conventional rail guns for the electron particle cannons, cutting back slightly on secondary armament and protection in the interest of enhances sublight thrust and maneuverability, and increased anti-aerospace protection from enemy fighters, bombers, and torpedoes.

All heavy cruisers of the Trafalgar class are named for warships that were with Nelson during the historic Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  So for today, Damon has HMS Bellerpheron, escorted by the Falklands class destroyer HMS Essex. His mission is to come to the aid of an undefended British installation in high orbit over a Mars-sized planet, somewhere in them much-embattled Libra-Sagittarius strategic command sector, combat zone of the ongoing Duchess Annabel’s War.  It seems the Prussians from the Eisenwolf colonies (Gleise 570) are getting uppity again, despite the thorough pounding they received from a joint Russian-British Task Force at the recent Battle or Cervantes (Mu Ara).

So here’s our battle for the day.  We see the British “Vancouver Station”, launching two fighters (balancing out the game, the British needed 4 points).  From above the planet’s north pole, we see Damon’s battlegroup.  At lower left, still decelerating from their Darkstar Wave, we see the Prussian force.

Clearly the Prussian Force is more numerous.  We have the Leopold class heavy cruiser KMS Lutzow, along with two Emden class frigates an a Type XII class umfangangriffboot (perimeter attack boat, or U-boat) U-126.  While the Lutzow and the Bellerpheron are both “advanced” heavy cruisers (120 points), the difference is in the HMS Essex.  She’s an advanced destroyer (48 points), while the Jenna  and Koblenz are standard frigates of 20 points each.  Add the U-126 and the game comes out at 176 points, once we balance things out by giving the Britsih a fair of Supermarine Starfire fighters launching off of Vancouver Station.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

With her faster speed, the Bellerpheron win initiative and so gets to move second.  The Prussians, still moving very fast (especially for a heavy cruiser) zoom on at 36 kilometers a second (12 hexes a turn), hoping to close the distance as quickly as possible.  The Prussians have many more guns than the British, but they are less accurate (both Bellepheron and Essex have +1 CICs) so it behooves them to get the shooting ranges short as quickly as possible.

That said, the Prussians also have to maneuver, and the Lutzow is a ponderous beast, so they’re also standing on their brakes as they streak toward Vancouver Station, accounting for the planets gravity as they go (one hex pulled toward the planet at the end of their movement if you end movement within 10 hexes of a the planet).  Initial shots are exchanged, nothing much. At this extreme distance (19-21 hexes, about 3700 kilometers).

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

The Prussians, still slowing, now have enough thrust to make a hard turn to port, hopefully presenting a broadside toward the approaching British.  The Lutzow has the lowest power-weight ratio on the table, resulting in the lowest thrust, meaning she will usually lose initiative (especially when she keeps rolling 2s).  When you lose initiative and have to go first, all you can hope for is to predict where you think the enemy might be at the end of their movement, ased on their position, bearing, speed, and available thrust.

The British, seemingly strangely at first, actually streak toward the Prussians at pretty high speed.  Bellerpheron dives at the planet at 24 KPS, pulling out two hexes away so that when gravity is accounted for, he’s still one hex away, just enough to avoid burning up in the planet’s atmosphere.  Essex follows suit, screening ahead of the cruiser, the port sides on both British ships perhaps glowing a faint, dull read as they literally “bounce” off the planet’s atmosphere.

The Prussians, for the moment, can’t believe their luck.  Even though their flagship lost initiative, they have successfully (albeit barely, sloppily) crossed the British T. Every single Prussian gun in the battlegroup will be able to shoot this phase, while, the British can only respond with forward guns.  But there is method to the British madness.  In true “Nelson fashion,” although Bellerpheron may take a  hammering this turn, next turn she will be all certainly directly behind the Lutzow, firing powerful 15 terevolt EPCs directly into her vulnerable engines and reactors.

While guns come to bear, torpedoes streak toward their targets (blue and red wedge pieces).  Here the Prussians have a huge advantage, especially with that U-boat on the table (eight forward-firing torpedo tunes, plus a +2 targeting CIC).  But the Bellerpheron bristles with 25mm mass driver chain guns, and between her guns, those of the Essex, and the scouts and fighters, they shoot down every Prussian torpedo as they streak in toward the engines of the Essex.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

The shooting begins.  Knowing they won’t be able to knock out the Bellerpheron in one salvo (at least from the bow, there are just way too m any armor and internal structure boxes to  get to before you start hitting vitals like the forward magazine and the bridge), they instead focus everything on the hapless Essex.

 

At a range of just over 1000 kilometers (spitting distance for a heavy cruiser), the Lutzow fires everything she has at the British destroyer.  Eight 11-gigwatt rail guns, then twelve 6-gigawatt rail guns.  A Falklands class destroyer is fast and high-tech, but not terribly robust.  She simply comes apart under the hail of fire, especially once the two frigates add their own smaller rail guns to the argument.  The Essex is simply shredded, damned near split clean in half longways by the concentrated Prussian rail gun fire.  Once the bridge is hit the ship is already crippled, but the rest of those Prussian guns have already fired and to be honest it’s a bit of overkill.  Suffice it to say the Essex is out of the fight.

If there’s one thing Prussians do well, it’s rail guns.

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

The Bellerpheron and the Essex, meanwhile, try to give as good as they get.  They have two disadvantages at the moment, however.  One, they Lutzow has stronger shielding on her hind quarters (British guns come to bear on the Lutzow’s starboard quarter), and only their forward guns can fire.  Still, they manage to open a terrible gash in the side of the Prussian beast, and perhaps most significantly, knock out her starboard quarter maneuvering thruster.  This means the Lutzow will have to pay +1 Thrust for every turn she wants to make.  Already badly outclassed maneuver-wise by the Bellerpheron, and with the Bellerpheron practically on her tail already, the Lutzow is indeed in trouble next turn.

So can the British pull this one out of the fire?  Or is the British winning streak about to be finally broken?  Can the Lutzow and her escorts turn around Prussian fortunes in Duchess Annabel’s War?

New British Heavy Cruiser Playtested Live! (P1)

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

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Hello, OTT / Beasts of War. It’s time for another battle report for a Darkstar game run between myself as Rasmus earlier in December.  With the holidays behind us and a new year underway, these weekend web games are off and running again, so if you’re ever interested, PM me with an e-mail address to which I can sent a web conference link.

Also the Darkstar rule book and first wave warships are now published and available for play.

Download Here

We also have another game scheduled for Sunday, where Damon tries out his new Trafalgar class heavy cruiser against the rival Leopold class, a rail gun beast sailing under the flag of the Imperial Prussian Kriegsmarine.

But for  now, let’s get started with the battle report.

Rasmus reached out to me and said he’d like to take a swing at Darkstar, specifically the high-tech Japanese.  Some Japanese warships are decidedly low-tech (modeled on the World War II Imperial Japanese Navy, a curious blend of visionary technology and doctrine and hidebound traditionalism), but for the battle I set him up with a Taiho (Great Phoenix) class light cruiser and a Takashiro class destroyer (high-tech destroyer not included in the first wave warships).

In fact, these ships were so high-tech (enhanced engines, greater thrust, +2 targeting systems), that I was able to afford not only a light cruiser and destroyer of my own (Holy Russian Empire, Kutusov class and Sovnya class, respectively), but also a small Novgorod class frigate.

Thus we wound up with a modest 135 point game.  Just enough for fun and to let a new player get his feet wet in the Darkstar system.

So here we see the approaches.  Two United Nations orbital platforms are in dispute around this roughly Mars-sized planet(6700 km, 37 hexes in diameter).  Russians are coming up from the south pole / night side, Japanese are coming down from the north pole / day side.

While the Russians aren’t exactly low tech (all their ships are “Standard” engine class for their ship type), the Japanese are higher-tech.  Both the light cruiser Nagara and destroyer Arashi are “next-gen” engines, with +2 targeting / CIC systems, and enhanced thrust for their class (which will also give Rasmus a bonus on initiative).  The balance is, as usual with Russian forcesm numbers.  More “generic” tech  makes my ships less expensive, which means I can afford that extra frigate.  Also, my ships have more guns than his.  Not as accurate or as long ranged, but more of them.

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

At a range of just under 2000 kilometers, the two fleets open fire.  As predicted (due to higher thrust and thus more agile ships), Rasmus’ Japanese largely won initiative, forcing me to go first.  So I set a very high approach velocity, decelerating just enough to make a port turn just before hitting those asteroids (hopefully using them as at least some kind of cover).  The Japanese, for their part, are carefully using the range brackets to their advantage, staying at 11 hexes away (thus putting us at the 11-15 range bracket) so my guns are far less accurate than his.

Both sides launch torpedoes and scouts, and we are off and running!

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

It seems as if my Russians and Rasmus’ Japanese were a little too keen to come to grips with each other.  While I still kept decelerating as fast as I could (not easy when you enter the board at 48 kilometers per second), the Japanese have spent more of their thrust in turns, and thus are also going too fast.

Then again, with the Russians pushing toward them so aggressively (it’s to my advantage to close the range as quickly as possible, where Japanese technology matters less and my numbers matter more), Rasmus’ best play is not to slow down and back off, but keep going fast as zoom past my Russians.

It’s a risky maneuver, he’s heading straight toward some asteroids and his engines / fantail  are now exposed to my plasma projectors, rail guns, EPCs, and swarm of P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) torpedoes . . .

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

The first huge blows land, and first blood is drawn!  The Russian P-500 warheads streak in, shot down in droves by accurate Japanese mass driver fire.  There are also three Japanese Ki-202 “Hien” (Flying Swallow) scouts, who manage to shoot down a few more incoming torpedoes.

But out of 22 warheads, 7 have survived to hit the Nagara’s shields.  Four get through, and sure enough, the Russians catch a break with the hit locations on the Nagara’s stern.  Two torpedoes smash through the armor and into the engines, two more explode through these same engines and into the reactors.  EPC fire is next from the aft batteries of the Lazarev, as well as plasma projectors and rail guns from the destroyer Kortik and the little frigate Volkhov.

It’s too much for the Nagara.  Seven boxes of critical structure have now been hit, and the d6 roll to cripple a light cruiser is 10+, minus the number of critical structure boxes struck.  10 – 7 = 3, so I have to roll a 3+.  I beat the roll during Resolution Phase, leaving the Nagara crippled and adrift . . .

. . . at least until she hits that asteroid field.  Hopefully the crew had enough time to abandon ship.  But the Nagara herself is gone, blown completely apart in a hail of asteroid impacts.

In the same turn, however, the Japanese torpedo spread is heading for the tiny frigate Volkhov.  These are some of the deadliest torpedoes in Darkstar, V Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer), and the Volkhov was already damaged somewhat in the battlegroups’ initial approach and flyby.  The little frigate is positive blown inside out, but technically is only “crippled” and could conceivably be recovered and eventually repaired, depending on how this battle turns out and how lucky she is on the Warship Recovery Table.

Meanwhile, Japanese gunfire tears into the starboard quarter of the Lazarev.  There aren’t very many Japanese guns, and they aren’t even particularly strong, but they are accurate as hell as hit with a very long reach.  Rasmus also gets lucky with lit locations, soon decompressing and destroying the Lazarev’s aft hangar.  These are “core” structure boxes, and with three of them hit, Lazarev has a (3 x 15% = 45%) chance of being forced to break off.  Sure enough, I fail the roll, and the Lazarev must now flee the table.

Basically, the cruiser took sufficient personnel losses and failed a “morale check.”

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

So now we’re down to just a destroyer each.  That didn’t take long.  The exception is that while the Lazarev is forced to flee, while she’s doing this she can continue to fire guns and torpedoes.  So I might be able to squeak out a win here.

But the nimble Arashi hits the brakes, decelerating enough to execute a couple fish-hook turns and stay behind the asteroids, using them as cover while the Lazarev is forced to flee the table and some of her own torpedoes might land a lucky hit on the remaining Russian destroyer Kortik.

The deathmatch between the Kortik and Arashi gets underway on Turns 4 and 5.  The Japanese destroyer is faster and more accurate, but the Russian ship has more, punchier guns and heavier shielding, she’s just tougher and meaner.  There’s no way Rasmus is going to beat me here with guns, but he just might do it with torpedoes.  Good thing those Sovnya class destroyers have lots of mass drivers for anti-torpedo defense . . .

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P1

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P2

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
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. . . at least until I roll a “1” on mass driver defense and three of Arashi’s Ki-45 torpedoes slam into my fantail.  That’s all she wrote.  This came really close, actually, the Arashi by now had been hammered by close-range Russian 7 GW rail guns and 40 KG plasma projectors for two turns, she is definitely worse for wear.

But with the Kortik now crippled, the Arashi remains the only operational warship in the area and technically this is a Japanese win.

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P2

The hapless Volkhov, having been hit between the eyes by three Ki-45s.  The orange damage was inflicted the previous turn by Japanese gunnery during the initial approach.  The cavitation of Class V torpedoes is clearly visible.  The 25,000-ton ship was damned near cored like an apple.

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P2

Even worse is the light cruiser Nagara.  You can see where the Russian torpedoes slammed into her centerline and starboard side engines, exploding forward through the aft gun turrets, hangars, and finally into the med bay.  But once she lost power, this was all a moot point, as she was moving at 30 km per second with asteroids 3 hexes away (540 kilometers).  This meant that the crew had about 18 seconds to abandon ship.  After that, there are no survivors.

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P2

The final situation, with the Kortik crippled and the Arashi standing tall to land troops and take possession of those UN orbital platforms.  The results are a little uncertain, however.  Viewed as a standalone game, Rasmus and his Japanese clearly won, with an operational 48-point destroyer still active in the area.  Suffice it to say the Japanese definitely own those two orbital platforms.

But in any kind of campaign setting, this might actually be a Russian win.  The frigate Volkhov fails her recovery check, and is considered lost (scuttled by the crew, probably before being boarded by Japanese marines).  But the Kortik succeeds, and will thus return to the battle.  So the Russians traded a 20-point frigate for the IJN Nagara, an expensive 84-point light cruiser.   Yes, the Russians lost the chance to grab those stations, but there’s nothing to say (in a campaign setting) the Lazarev and Kortik won’t be back to take them from the lone Arashi.

In a word, the Japanese won the game.  The Russians won the battle.       

AAR: Rasmus (Japanese) v. Oriskany (Russians) P2

We have another game scheduled for Sunday, where Damon tries out his new Trafalgar class heavy cruiser against the rival Leopold class, a rail gun beast sailing under the flag of the Imperial Prussian Kriegsmarine!

Darkstar v1 Rules Published for Everyone!

Tutoring 10
Skill 11
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Good afternoon, OTT / Beasts of War:

Okay, I am officially publishing for general download the v1.0 rules for Darkstar, my tactical starship combat game.

With the background and “lore” previously made available in this thread, this reference is “nutz n’ boltz roolz” for basic, general gameplay, along with the write-ups and warship records sheets for 30 classes (including gunboats, corvettes, frigates, destroyers, light and heavy cruisers, battleships, and carriers) of the six of the most popular factions.

The .pdf is 146 pages, and also includes sample scenarios, tons of illustrated examples, designer’s notes, rules for upgrading your starships and commanders and helpful hints for your first few times trying the  game.

Link to Rule Book (30MB)

The link is above.  If you’re interested and don’t have access to it, please PM me with your e-mail address or e-mail at [email protected]

DARKSTAR RULES & WARSHIPS COMPLETE

Tutoring 8
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Backers and supporters have been e-mailed with their .pdf copies of the finished  book.

If you supported my PayPal Pool and do not have a book, or cannot access it, please ping me on this thread or via PM and I’ll get it sorted.

General-access to the community at large will come in the next week or so.

Forty days of nearly constant work – from November 18 to December 29 – are finally complete.  It was as exhausting as I thought it would be, but it feels so good to finally have it done.

DARKSTAR RULES & WARSHIPS COMPLETE

Darkstar Rules & "First Wave" Warships to Publish This Weekend!

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 12
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Both rules and “first wave” warships ware now complete (30 classes in all) – with write-ups and Warship Record Sheets for print & play.

Just converting to .pdf, and of course I want to design a cover.  😀

Backers / Contributors will get access to the rules first, hopefully within the next 24-36 hours.  If all goes well, look for an e-mail soon!

And woo-hoo!  Over 2000 recommendations!

Darkstar Rules &

duplicate post - apologies

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duplicate post – apologies – cannot completely remove.

Proofreading 50% complete, Ground Broken on "First Wave" starships

Tutoring 7
Skill 11
Idea 11
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Good afternoon, everyone.

Okay proofreading (formatting, tweaks, cross-indexing, etc) on the Darkstar rules is 50% complete.  I also want to add copies of the turn sequence and the Quick Reference Sheet.  I won’t add a table of contents as again, this will be eventually stitched together into a full Darkstar reference book of well over 200-250 pages, and for that I will have a complete ToC.

Also, I’ve broken ground on the ships that will be included for “Wave One” release.  The list of classes is finalized, now it’s just a lot of formatting and proofreading, etc.

The rules will be done by Christmas.

The ships I hope to have complete by New Years.

So the combined rules and ships .pdf may not arrive until New Years.

Just to keep everyone up to date. 😀

Proofreading 50% complete, Ground Broken on

Rules - First Draft . . . D.O.N.E.

Tutoring 11
Skill 15
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Just a very fast update – The Darkstar rules, at least in their first draft, are done.

60 pages – and that doesn’t include the 28 warship designs (six factions) I’ll be rolling out with the “first release.”

Of course, I’ll want to breeze through these at lest once for proofing, formatting, cross-indexing, and clarity tweaks.

Again, the goal here is to get a combined .pdf (this will be over 100 pages) put together before Christmas (??) or at least the New Year.  And again, it will still be something of a draft, definitely a “living document” that may be updated later for corrections if nothing else.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Update … added Designer’s Notes … make that 64 pages, plus (28 x 2 = 56) pages of warship record sheets and write ups = 120 pages + 7 pages of blank records sheets for players to use = 127 total pages …

New "Aerospace Guard" Warships: Clarino Class

Tutoring 9
Skill 12
Idea 12
9 Comments

Good morning Beasts on War / OTT:

I’m happy to roll out a new warship class requested by another Darkstar contributor, who had the honestly fantastic idea of including references to the United States Coast Guard as well as the US Navy the future American “navies” of the Darkstar universe.

So this class actually has two variants, one for the United States Aerospace Guard (spiritual descendants of the US Coast Guard) and one for the Navy.

New
New

The Clarino class is an unusual design for the United States Navy, probably because it didn’t originate with the United States Navy.  The first ship of the class, USAGS Salvatore J. Clarino Jr., was actually laid down for use by the United States Aerospace Guard, the 26th Century descendant of the long-standing US Coast Guard.  When the US Navy made the jump into interplanetary space in the 2200s and then interstellar space in the early 2400s, the US Coast Guard naturally followed suit with specialties in port security, defense of planetary orbital zones, safeguarding commerce, search and rescue, and enforcement of maritime law.

The Clarino Class started as a design for the USAG, the first of a new, highly-advanced line of starships specially suited for the Aerospace Guard’s mission portfolio.  The larger, expanded Todd Shipbuilding hull accommodates the GE / JPL “Starwind 9100” reactor plant and engines, putting out more power than the Navy’s recent Valcour class fleet destroyers.

But it’s what the Clarino puts this extra power towards is what makes the design special.  The Clarino is actually quite slow in sublight speed, her Hughes FDX-201 ion drives pushing her only at a 5G acceleration curve.  Instead, the additional power is put into a very powerful weapons suite, including four double turrets of 5GW rail guns (as opposed to the Valcour class’ three turrets).  There are also expanded bays for additional troops, and a much larger cargo capacity for longer-ranged missions (the cargo and troops bays on a Clarino actually resemble those on a light cruiser).  Passenger bays are also expanded for greater rescue capacity.

But where the Clarino really shines is in mass driver protection.  The anti-aerospace protection is almost double that of a Valcour class, especially since it is guided by an advanced Raytheon “Able Archer” targeting and tactical CIC system.  In fact the Clarino has more than the Sacramento and San Antonio class light cruisers, and runs side by side with Endeavor class light fleet carrier for sheer anti-aerospace and torpedo protection firepower.

For this reason, the US Navy also opened a contract for its own line of Clarino class, which they designated as “heavy destroyers.”  Opponents of the contract cited the Clarino’s slow sub-light speed, but Navy strategists maintained that the Clarino is mostly to escort larger cruisers ad battleships,  classes which have slower SLD thrust anyway, and to achieve fire suppression against enemy orbital or ground installations.  As for actual fleet screening or interdiction missions, the Navy still has the superb Valcour class for such traditional destroyer roles.

There was brief discussion of taking the Darkstar drives down to 9th Wave capacity as well, but this was quickly quashed.  Slowed FTL capability would ruin the Clarino’s ability to keep up with the ships she was meant to escort, and drastically cut the ship’s ability for rescue and law enforcement interdiction, vital for the USAG’s mission platform.

In fact, the stats shown on this page are for the US Navy’s variant of the Clarino class.  In true maritime USAG configuration, the Clarino removes one pair of Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes (carrying four tubes instead of six), carries an extra launch in the forward hangar bay, and an 11th Wave Darkstar drive.  This faster, longer-ranged FTL drive allows the USAG to expand its envelope for deep space search and rescue operations, as well as interception missions against enemy corvettes, pirates, and  smugglers (in this configuration, the Clarino costs 42 scenario points instead of 50).

The Clarinos are large, slow, and expensive, especially for a destroyer-type warship.  But the value they bring in safeguarding American flagships, aerospace carriers, or ports is beyond dispute.  They’ll never outnumber the Valcours or the older Kinkaids, but they will be a proud staple of the US Navy and US Aerospace Guard for decades to come.

 

Ships in Class (US Aerospace Guard Configuration)
DSGA-109 / USAGS Salvatore J Clarino Jr. – 2510, New Virgina Orbital Yards, Earth – On Duty
DSGA-110 / USAGS Douglas A. Munro 2511 – Fort Dyson, Proxima Centauri – On Duty
DSGA-111 / USAGS Russell Waesche 2511 – Olympus Mons, Mars – On Duty
DSGA-113 / USAGS Elmer F. Stone 2516 – New Virgina Orbital Yards, Earth –  Lost in Rescue Attempt, Greensea, Psi Serpentis
DSGA-114 / USAGS Phillip F. Roach 2516 – Fort Dyson, Proxima Centauri – On Duty
DSGA-115 / USAGS Merrill W. Hoover 2519 – Fort Dyson, Proxima Centauri –  Undergoing Trials

Ships in Class (US Navy Configuration)
DSGN-811 / USS Robert J. Yered 2512 – New Virgina Orbital Yards, Earth – On Duty
DSGN-812 / USS William P. Fessenden 2513 – Fort Dyson, Proxima Centauri – On Duty
DSGN-813 / USS Frederick C. Billard 2514 – Triton Navy Shipyards, Neptune – On Duty
DSGN-814 / USS Quentin Walsh 2517 – Triton Navy Shipyards, Neptune – On Duty
DSGN-815 / USS Dwight Dexter 2518 – Fort Dyson, Proxima Centauri – On Duty
DSGN-816 / USS Raymond Evans 2518 – New Virgina Orbital Yards, Earth – On Duty

Thanks so much to our continuing supporters!  I’m seriously going to have to think about shutting this donation pool down, I am running out or warship classes in the book.  I’m also really trying to focus on getting the book done by Christmas, or New Years at the latest.  So if you’d still like to contribute a small amount, I thank you in advance, but I’m probably just going to name a ship for you in one of the existing classes (we can talk about which ones) – or I can write you as a “historical character” in the Darkstar history / canon.

Darkstar Rules Donation Pool

New

New Royal Navy Battlecruiser: HMS Cross

Tutoring 6
Skill 9
Idea 11
2 Comments

Good morning, Beasts of War / OTT:

As I continue to thank contributors to the Darkstar contribution pool, we’re adding more and more ships to the “Darkstar canon.” The latest is to fulfill the request of a very generous contributor, enough to have not only a battlecruiser (i.e., a “light” battleship”) class named for him, but his name written into the “legends” of Darkstar history.

New Royal Navy Battlecruiser: HMS Cross
New Royal Navy Battlecruiser: HMS Cross

The Cross class battlecruiser is one of the newer designs coming out of Royal Navy shipyards in recent years, apparently part of an attempt to update the aging line of British battleships and “star dreadnoughts” like the Royal Sovereign class or the ancient Barnham class.  As faster battleships like the American Colorado class and the Prussian Scharnhorst class “pocket battleships” begin to show their capabilities in more recent conflicts, the Royal Navy initiated a project that seems to hearken back to the early 20th Century battlecruisers of Jackie Fisher, warships with the size and firepower of a battleship, but the speed of a cruiser.  The tradeoff was a terrible shortfall in armor protection, which led to a wholesale die-off of the “battlecruiser” line in battles like Jutland, Denmark Strait (death of the HMS Hood, probably the most famous battlecruiser of all time) and against Japanese carrier airpower in early World War II.

Accordingly, the design for the Cross class isn’t quite that extreme.  They keep powerful defensive systems in place, including plenty of armor and a strong ECM and gravitic shielding suite, especially around aft quarters, protecting engines and reactors.  Although the Cross bristles with 25mm and 30mm mass drivers for aerospace defense, other designs like the Roval Sovereign, Colorado, and Yamato and Tirpitz carry more.  This may be the one aspect of the Cross battlecruiser’s defense that may have been slightly cut for the sake of speed, but designers insist the advanced Hawkinge Electronics 01A fire control system more than makes up for this.

Packing the very modern Harland and Wolff “Magnetar Delta” deuterium-tritium reactors in a highly-advanced “superconducting convection” powerplant, the Cross class puts out more power than similar Royal Navy classes like the Royal Sovereign battleships or Ark Royal class supercarriers.  While this doesn’t give her quite the thrust envelopes or maneuverability of a cruiser, it’s easily 50% more than most battleships, more than the Yamato or Tirpitz, and enough to keep up with faster battleships like the Colorado or the New Roman Alliance’s Constantine class.

The lead ship of the class is named for Admiral (later First Star Lord) Sir David Cross, winner of the gigantic Battle of Europa (October 18, 2396), the massive battle against Spanish, French, Italian, and Holy Russian Empire fleets that effectively ended the “Four Moons” Jovian War of 2394-2396.  This was mankind’s largest off-world war to date, and the largest war of any description since the apocalyptic Water Wars of the 2190s.  This battle more or less confirmed that Europa (one of the most valuable moons in the Sol System) would remain a predominantly British colony for at least another century, and  that the Royal Navy would continue to be a major power in the new “black water” era of naval history.  As such, Cross was eventually  hailed as a “second Nelson” (at the Battle of Europa his fleet of sublight cruisers was outgunned at least three-to-one).  After the battle, he was named Viceroy of Europa and First Star Lord, and more or less built the Royal Navy that would eventually make the interstellar leap with the invention of the Darkstar drive.

Other ships are named for Admiral Ramsay (Savior of Dunkirk and naval commander of Overlord),  Vice-Admiral Beatty (battleruiser commander at Jutland), King George VI,  and Admiral Sir Christopher Buckland, victor of the “Marianna’s Hope” War of 2448 (Sirius star system, one of the UK’s first major interstellar conflicts).

The Cross class battlecruisers are just that, nothing less and nothing more.  They carry no torpedoes or sizable aerospace groups, instead focused on speed, maneuverability, protection, and hard-hitting firepower.  They carry eight 15-gigawatt rail guns in the classic “Atlantic Layout” – four double turrets, two forward, two aft.  The secondary battery is a little more unusual, with two triple turrets of Harland and Wolff “Nebula” 8-megakelvin laser emitters mounted in flanking positions of the forward dorsal main gun turret.  A third such laser array is mounted aft.  The unusual arrangement of the two flanking laser emitters means the Cross can never get a full true “broadside” with these secondary weapons, but with more of them mounted forward, a Cross battlecruiser can sling out more long-range opening fire on the initial approach.

The Cross class battlecruiser is a solid design, able to outpace many of her rivals but not suffer from the classic “glass cannon” weaknesses of her spiritual ancestors.  The class is still being constructed, no one knows for sure just how many the Royal Navy will build.  They are not cheap ships by any measure, so the investment may soon slow somewhat until the Cross class really proves itself in prolonged campaign combat.

Ships in Class
Registry Name Commissioned
BC 21 – HMS Cross – 2512, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
BC 22 – HMS Ramsay – 2514, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – On Duty
BC 23 – HMS Beatty – 2516, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
BC 24 – HMS George VI – 2518, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – On Duty
BC 25 – HMS Buckland – 2519, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – On Duty
BC 26 – HMS ?? – 2520, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – Under Construction

Sunday's Game: Japanese vs. Holy Russian Empire

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 9
16 Comments

Setting up for tomorrow’s game with @rasmus, the Imperial Russians are going up against the Japanese for control of these two stations in low orbit of a roughly Mars-sized planet.

It’s a classic tech / speed / accuracy vs. bruising weight match up.

135 points on a side.

No Campaign Advantages / Upgrades.

A high tech Japanese light cruiser + a high tech Japanese destroyer vs. medium tech Russian light cruiser + destroyer + frigate.

Japanese advantages are accuracy, thrust, maneuverability, initiative, and torpedoes.

Russians have slightly tougher shielding, more guns (just not as accurate), many more torpedoes (just don’t hit nearly as often or as hard) and of course were able to afford one extra small ship.

Game time tomorrow at 12:00 Noon EST!  We’ll see what happens!

Overall battle area.  Japanese are coming down from the north pole / daylight side of our roughly Mars-size planet (6700 km , 37 hexes diameter).  Russians are coming up from the southern pole / night side.Overall battle area. Japanese are coming down from the north pole / daylight side of our roughly Mars-size planet (6700 km , 37 hexes diameter). Russians are coming up from the southern pole / night side.
A close up on the Japanese battlegroup.  We have the Taiho class light cruiser Nagara and the Takashiro class destroyer Arashi.  Both are very fast, bristling with electronics, but also a little fragile.  A close up on the Japanese battlegroup. We have the Taiho class light cruiser Nagara and the Takashiro class destroyer Arashi. Both are very fast, bristling with electronics, but also a little fragile.
The Russian battlegroup is a lot chunkier.  By no leans low tech (actually everything here is The Russian battlegroup is a lot chunkier. By no leans low tech (actually everything here is "standard") - but they have tougher shielding, more harder-hitting guns (just not as accurate) and more torpedoes (again, just nowhere near as fast, accurate, or hard-hitting as those Japanese Class V ... the Ki-45 "Toryu" (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes.

Progress Report - Darkstar Rules

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 11
11 Comments

Work continues on the Darkstar rule set.  I feel the worst is now behind me.  Combat Phase is completely finished.  All that remains is . . .

  • Resolution Phase
  • Ships Crippled
  • Ships Exploded
  • Ships Breaking off
  • Damage Effects
  • Scenarios
  • (design)
  • (scoring)
  • Tips
  • Designer’s Notes

***

Then 20 or ship classes.

This would turn into 40+ more pages of material

In all this book will be over 80 pages.

20 Ship classes allows me 4 ship classes or so for five factions – definitely a decent start for players who are interested in getting started.

Progress Report - Darkstar Rules
Progress Report - Darkstar Rules
Progress Report - Darkstar Rules

PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 12
7 Comments

Good afternoon, Beasts of War / OTT!

As I have stated below, I have been so happily surprised by the outpouring of support that people have donated to the ongoing project of an official written and published rules set for Darkstar.

If you are so inclined (I thank you very much in advance), just hit the link below and contribute in whatever amount you feel comfortable.

>Darkstar Optional Donation Pool<<

Meanwhile, here is the list of Darkstar supporters to whom I already owe a fantastic debt of gratitude.

In this vein, I’m happy to roll out the first few ships that people have already “commissioned” to be built or named after them.  These are included below.  I hope you like them!

Thanks so much again,

Jim “Oriskany” Johnson

PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!
PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!
PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!

The Trafalgar class heavy cruiser represents a radical break from the typical design philosophy and operational doctrine of the Royal Navy.  Originally the brainchild of Vice-Admiral Sir Damon Brentnall (battlecruiser squadron commander during the Psi Serpentis War of 2512-14), the Trafalgar design turns its back on the large-caliber rail gun, staple of British naval design for at least the last 70 years.  Instead the Trafalgar looks to the relatively new electron particle cannon, perhaps influenced by designs like the American Gettysburg class, Japanese Katana class, and Russian Kutusov class.

In many ways, the Trafalgar is simplicity itself.  Packing the newest Harland and Wolff “Quasar Sigma” series reactors and engines (the same type mounted in the successful Iron Duke class), she’s able to generate an enormous power-to-weight ratio for her size, allowing her to keep pace with most light cruiser classes in Known Space. She also carries the same advanced Hawkinge Electronics 01A fire control system, giving her weapons a deadly-accurate reach.

There, however, the similarities end.  Whereas Royal Navy heavy cruisers like the Iron Duke or Titan classes are built for firepower, the Trafalgar is built for speed.  She sacrifices a fair amount of shielding for this speed, and also carries no torpedoes of any kind.  Her secondary battery is also something of a down-step, trading in the British Aerospace Systems 8 MgKv lasers of the Iron Duke for the older, smaller 6 MgKv emitters carried on the Titan class.  She also carries smaller 25mm Hispano mass driver arrays, although many more of them.

Notably, the Trafalgar class also carries additional cargo and 54 Royal Marines, which, in addition to her carrying no torpedopes, makes her ideal for longer-ranged, extended war cruises deeper into Second Band conflict zones.

Still, the Trafalgar class packs an enormous punch.  Thundering towards the enemy in a high-speed run, these cruisers are designed to unleash a withering EPC broadside, punching deeper through ruined armor and exposed hull compartments with her follow-up laser emitters.

Accordingly, Trafalgar captains are chosen for their aggression and expected to follow Nelson’s mandate of seven hundred years ago; “No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.”  In the officers’ mess on each Trafalgar there is a painting of Nelson, beneath which is the inscription;

Our country will, I believe, sooner forgive an officer for attacking an enemy than for letting it alone.”

Of course, the Trafalgar class is still very new.  Only a few of the ships have traded fire in anger, and there isn’t nearly enough real-combat data to determine whether this design doctrine portends a new outlook for the Royal Navy into the 2520s, or an “evolutionary dead end.”

Ships in Class

C 181 – HMS Trafalgar – 2510, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – On Duty
C 182 – HMS Temeraire – 2512, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
C 183 – HMS Bellerophon – 2513, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – On Duty
C 184 – HMS Neptune – 2514, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – On Duty
C 185 – HMS Orion – 2516, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
C 186 – HMS Mars – 2517, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – On Duty
C 187 – HMS Thunderer – 2518, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – On Duty
C 188 – HMS Ajax – 2519, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani –  Undergoing Trials
C 189 HMS Colossus ???, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – Under Construction
C 190 HMS Agamemnon ???, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani Planned

PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!
PayPal Contributors Get Their First Warships!

The Maecenas class is definitely one of the most unusual warships in the Royal Navy, not only in the time of Darkstar but perhaps all of British history.  Technically designed off of the basic hull of a Relentless class light cruiser, they are officially classified as “expedition ships,” combining a curious blend of mission profiles.  Part gun cruiser, part aerospace carrier, and part planetary assault ship, these are true “jacks of all trades” –  multirole platforms of nearly unlimited flexibility.

The name of the class is also unusual, honoring Gaius Maecenas, ancient Roman patron of arts and poetry in the time of Caesar Augustus.  While the Royal Navy has often borrowed from Classical Rome for the names of its warships, Maecenas may seems an odd choice until one considers the unusual history of this class.

In the wake of the brutal Psi Serpentis War of 2512-2514, a consortium of British industrialists (brothers Warren and Lloyd Johnston, together with Justin McAuley of Johnston-McAuley Aerospace) in the New Glasgow star system (Psi Serpentis E), were appalled by the war’s violence and collateral damage.  They petitioned the Royal Navy to build a new class of multirole “expedition” ships to help protect their industrial facilities, safeguard their shipping lanes, and expand into new colonies for further industrial and economic development.  The request was denied, so JMA simply bought the derelict wreck of a Relentless class light cruiser lost in the Psi Serpentis War (HMS Ruthless – C 238 cost undisclosed, but rumored to be in excess of £2 billion) and rebuilt it into what would become HMS Maecenas.  Rather than name the ship after themselves, the executives of JMA named the ship after a famous patron of Classical Rome, as they were also well-known patrons and benefactors of British arts, literature, and science throughout Known Space.

Building a warship on this scale is one thing, but operating and maintaining it for years, with a flotilla of escort ships, is something else.  So JMA “donated” the ship (as the famous patrons they were) to the Royal Navy, again petitioning for a class of warships to be designed on this model.  Beset with such a gift (along with undisclosed contributions to several key members of Parliament), the Royal Navy this time agreed and the Maecenas class expedition ship was born.

The Maecenas class are truly remarkable warships.  A battery of six BAE Systems “Warhammer” class 8-gigawatt rail guns is arrayed in three double turrets, in classic British “Atlantic Pattern” layout.  These are comparable in caliber to other light cruisers like the Prussian Hipper class and larger than the 7-gigawatt guns of the Russian Konstantin class and American Sacramento class, but fewer in number.  The secondary battery is made up of two double turrets of Harland and Wolff “Nebula” 8-megakelvin laser emitters.  A Hawkinge Electronics 01B fire control system is also mounted (a downscaled variant of the model carried on the Iron Duke and Trafalgar heavy cruisers), giving the Maecenas enhanced gunnery accuracy, especially at longer ranges.  This also augments the guidance systems of two bays of Model 41 (British standard class IV) gravitic torpedoes, mounted in an “assault configuration” in the port and starboard bow.

For defense, Maecenas class mounts an array of Hispano-Vickers 25mm chain gun mass drivers, and an ECM / gravitic shielding suite comparable to other light cruisers currently in service across Known Space.

But its in the greatly expanded hangar bays that the Maecenas class really stands out.  Each cruiser carries eight Supermarine Starfire class aerospace superiority fighters and four Hawker Typhoon class strike bombers, as well as two De Havilland Buccaneer scouts.  This is the same complement as carried by the Royal Navy’s Osprey class light carrier.  The aft bays carry four Griffon Hoverwork Conqueror class assault boats.  The usual mission load out for these assault boats is for one to carry a pair of Excelsior battle tanks, one to carry three Rapier class APCs, and two to carry 48 Royal Marine infantry.

The extra power needed to support such a diverse load of facilities is provided by the very advanced Johnston-McAuley deuterium-tritium reactors and power plant.  These are among the most advanced power plants in Known Space, and absolutely critical to the  Maecenas multirole platform capability.

The Maecenas class is still very new, and critics are still unconvinced that this unusual design will prove effective.  After all, “jack of all trades” also means “master of none.”  She can’t stand up to a gunnery duel against other full-design light cruisers like an American San Antonio, Prussian Hipper, Russian Kutusov or Japanese Taihō class.  She can’t compete with the aerospace capability of British Valiant class light fleet carriers, or the American Endeavors, Japanese Kagoshimas or Russian Gagarins.  She can’t hit a planet nearly as hard as similar-weight dedicated planetary assault ships like the American Saipan class or Prussian Valkyrie class.

But whereas these ships are all built specifically for one role, the Maecenas can perform them all to a remarkable (if partial) extent.  This makes them incredibly flexible, operationally perhaps one of the most well-rounded designs in Known Space.  They can Darkstar Wave into a new system, establish a colony, and then defend that colony.  If resistance is moderate, she can probably eliminate enemy defenses and take an existing colony.  While she might have trouble against other cruisers in pitched battle, anything destroyer-sized or smaller would do well to approach a Maecenas with no small amount of caution.

In the end, however, only time will tell whether these innovative “expedition” ships will find a role, and widespread success in Royal Navy service.

** The ships of the Maecenas class are actually named for OTT/BoW community members who have donated to the writing of the Darkstar Rules Set v 1.0 or contributed materially  in some way to the success of the project.

** Note that the ship design tables include double the extra available power conferred by the “advanced powerplant” feature.  All the additional power this confers is invested in the assault boat / ground troops package, which isn’t used in the vast majority of games.  If the Maecenas class is being used in a planetary assault scenario, or if the assault boats are removed for more fighters and bombers, the scenario cost of the ship increases to 107 points.

Ships in Class
C 261 – HMS Maecenas – 2514, JMA Shipyards, Psi Serpentis E – On Duty
C 262 – HMS Quin – 2516, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
C 263 – HMS Wood – 2516, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – On Duty
C 264 – HMS Lea – 2517, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
C 265 – HMS Shaw – 2518, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – On Duty
C 266 – HMS Petersen – 2519, Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – On Duty
C 267 – HMS Oberst – 2520, Hypsibius Installation, Omicron Eridani – Undergoing Trials
C 268 – HMS Hawes – 2521, New Londonium Shipyards, Saturn – Under Construction
C 269 – HMS ??? – ??? Scapa Flow Orbital, Earth – Planned

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part IV)

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
9 Comments

The Darkstar battle between myself and @davehawes . . . the first translatlantic Darkstar game run on-line via web conference . . . concludes.

When we left off, this hard-fought battle was at last boiling down to a sizzling and tense finale.  One way or another, both my cruiser battlegroup of the Holy Russian Empire and Dave’s light aerospace group were rapidly reaching different breaking points.  So far, the British and Russians have traded frigates, each knocking out the other’s smallest escort ships straight away (HMS Fergusson and CPK Volkhov).  A massive British torpedo spread and aerospace bomber and fighter strike launched off the light carrier HMS Raven heavily damaged my flagship Basilov (an aging Konstantine class light cruiser), while my much heavier guns (I have no real aerospace group of my own) hammered the sleek, advance Falkands class destroyer HMS Singapore.  After taking 50% losses among their fighters and bombers, the British were able to finally cripple the Basilov, but not before her 7-gigawatt rail guns and P-500 “Plamya” torpedoes savaged the Singapore.  Both ships are left burning and adrift in space, leaving only the British light carrier HMS Raven and the Russian gun destroyer Kortik (Sonvya class).

The question is, can my guns overcome British aerospace superiority?

Short answer, hell yes.  Dave has already lost two of his bombers and four or his fighters, a full half of his aerospace strike group.  He hasn’t been able to land his remaining two bombers yet, the Raven keeps accelerating out of their reach in order to keep my guns at maximum distance.  To make matters worse, Raven is almost out of torpedoes.  Her bow tubes are now empty, she has one more spread left in her aft tubes and then that’s it.

I should have this game in the bag, to be honest, except for one thing.  On Turn 3, the Singapore’s last volley of 8 megakelvin lasers hither port quarter perfectly, both digging into the exact same place just deep enough to knock out my shields port quarter shields.

So as the Raven continues to pull away (she is a aerospace craft carrier, after all, she has no business closing to gunnery range of a heavy Russian destroyer), I have the Kortik  accelerate into a port turn away from the planet, rolling her over in an attempt to screen my unshielded port quarter.

Here we see the fateful moment.  These six blue torpedoes are almost the last warheads Raven can launch at me.  Her four fighters are also coming in.  I have to shoot my mass drivers at the torpedoes to thin them out, Dave has the range to send these torpedoes around my ship to hit her in the unshielded port quarter (along with four fighters on gunnery strafing runs).  I won’t lie, this attack will be chancy, not  having that port quarter shield is terribly worrisome.  But the odds are with me, and if I can just survive this last torpedo spread, I’m 95% sure to squeak out a win.   

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part IV)

Meanwhile, my torpedoes are racing in against the Raven.  I’ll also be unloading a pretty serious broadside on her, although Dave has carefully maneuvered his ship to a range of 11 hexes.  This is just far enough to drop my chance to hit against his shields from a 4 to a 3.  Also, Kortik may be a fearsome destroyer, but she’s just a destroyer all the same.  Still, this is only Turn 4.  And if she survives that torpedo spread, I can hit HMS Raven again on Turn 5, and Turn 6, and Turn 7, and Turn 8 . . . until she’s crippled or leaves the battle area.  Either way, I win.

Note HMS Singapore soaring by at a speed of 21 kilometer per second, trailing a sheet of burning atmosphere.  Also, the derelict Volkhov is spinning out of control, threading the needle between those debris asteroids on her way out into deep interplanetary space, probably launching lifeboats and rescue beacons.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part IV)

I’m not gonna lie, the British do really well here . . . and just like that, the game turns.  Here is the WRS for the destroyer Kortik.  Yellow is the damage done in previous turns, you can see where HMS Singapore took out Kortik’s port quarter shields.  Okay, I shot down five of his six torpedoes (good roll on the mass driver table), leaving only one torpedo left.  His four fighters scored two confirmed hits, but these wound up landing too far forward (column 1).  So it’s literally down to that last torpedo.

It will almost certainly hit, as this part of my ship has no shielding.  Sure enough, it hits.

But where?  Sure, he might knock down Crew Facilities, Maneuvering Thrusters, etc . . .

Or he could roll a 4 on his d4 for hit location, sailing the torpedo right down the hole where his two lasers hit last turn.  The warhead explodes inside my Aft Weapons compartment, cavitating through both reactor rooms and down into the starboard engine.

How lucky was that?  I’ve now lost three critical boxes, reducing my 7+ cripple target for a destroyer to a 4+.  So Dave has to roll 4+ on a d6, it’s literally a 50/50 chance.

He rolls a 5.  The Kortik is crippled . . . and that’s game.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part IV)

Now technically the Kortic gets its return fire on the Raven.  But Raven’s mass drivers and scouts have shot down all my torpedoes, and my guns can’t do this much in one turn against brand new armor.  I scratch the paint a little, but that’s about it.

So the British have the HMS Raven still operational (20 points), 2 bombers and 4 fighters (12 points) and 5 scouts (5 points) for a total score of 37.  I have 1 point (1 scout).  A +36 point win = 31.6% margin of a 117-point game, giving the British a solid (but minor) victory (40% is required for a “major” victory in campaign point terms).

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part IV)

In all, I feel this experiment was a success.  I might redesign some of the playing pieces, particularly for torpedoes and aerospace craft, just to make them a little easier to  handle especially for a remote player.   But in all this game shook out pretty well.  The margin in points seems a little high, but carefully looking at the actual course of events shows that if Kortik had survived that last torpedo hit (odds were only 25% it would hit in that vulnerable location, then a 50% roll for survival, yielding an aggregate 12.5% chance of being knocked out . . . and she was) – she would have been able to pepper the Raven for the rest of the game with near impunity.  It would have been a “soggy” end, but almost certainly a Russian win.

As a designer, any time the game comes close (especially for a new player). I’m happy.

So that wraps up this game.  Next I’ll be rolling out some of the ships requested by people who’ve been supporting my PayPal donation pool for the Darkstar rules set.

And yes, still chipping away on those rules. All “to hit” procedures are done, illustrated, etc., I’m now stuck deep into applying damage.  After that it’s just Resolution Phase, a few notes on constructing and scoring scenarios, and rules are done!  Then comes the fun part, chewing through 20 or so of my favorite classes, making sure at least five or so of these factions are well represented.

Hope you liked the battle report!  And please pass your congrats to @davehawes for not only taking the plunge and playing Darkstar, but being the first to do it online, and having the guts to start his Darkstar play with the extra complexity of an aerospace carrier!

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
4 Comments

The Darkstar battle between myself and community member @davehawes – played online on Saturday, December 1, continues.

So we’ve seen where my cruiser battlegroup of the Holy Russian Empire and Dave’s aerospace carrier battlegroup of the Royal Navy have been slugging it out so far.  Each battlegroup has lost its frigate, my CPK Volkhov crippled by a long-range x-ray laser that cut through my portside reactors, and his HMS Fergusson that took a 7-GW rail gun through the bridge.

Meanwhile, my flagship (Konstantine class light cruiser CPK Basilov) has been heavily mauled by British aerospace torpedoes,  missiles, and gravitic torpedoes launched from HMS Raven and the destroyer HMS Singapore, losing her starboard side engines and taking damage all the way up into her aft hangars (Oh no, the captain’s yacht was just taken out)!

At the same time, I’ve managed to land some P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) torpedo hits on the fantail of the Singapore, missing her engines unfortunately not taking out some of her sensors and aft mass drivers.

Now we’re looking at the movement phase of Turn 3, where I’ve dove toward the planet in an attempt to screen myself, or at least remove a little of Dave’s freedom to maneuver his fighters and torpedoes.  It’s not going to work, as his eight fighters and a full torpedo spread head toward Basilov’s damaged fantail.  My mass drivers have already smacked down four of his eight fighters, but the four that are left are ready to start a “Star Wars-style” strafing run on my damaged ship.  Meanwhile, my gunners are lining up a second broadside on HMS Singapore, while the remaining two bombers of HMS Osprey can’t quite catch up to their accelerating carrier to land!  Hey, wait for us! 

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

So like I said,  I have shot down four Supermarine Starfires, saving the rest of my mass drivers for shooting down the torpedoes.  But the Basilov has damaged sensors, don’t forget.  Still, the destroyer CPK Kortik is able to knock down some torpedoes as well.  Not nearly enough, however . . .

Meanwhile, my own torpedo spread is streaking in on the damaged stern of the Singapore.  That destroyer has also taken sensor damage, while the HMS Raven tries to  help as well, as well as five British scouts shooting down some more torpedoes.  The real threat, however, is the broadside from the 7GW rail guns of the Basilov.  The range is 1800 kilometers, perfect for this caliber of gun.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

Very bad news for the HMS Singapore.  Out of my ten torpedoes, only two survive mass driver fire, scout intercepts, and shields, but they hit the fantail hard.  The purple boxes show their impact points, the cavitation damage extends forward through compartments of the ship.  Starboard engines take a hit!  The second torpedo hits the aft cargo bay, exploding forward and smashing out the destroyer’s aft syglex emitter, the whole weapons turret blown off the ship and into space!

But the real damage comes from the double broadside delivered from the destroyer Kortik  and the light cruiser Basilov.  One of the Basilov’s plasma projectors hits in Column 1 (green box) spreading left and right (fore and aft) like a flamethrower.  With this armor this shallowed, I then follow up with a hammering of five rail-gun hits (three from the Basilov, two from the Kortik – red impact points).  These drill deep into the Singapore’s starboard quarter, knocking out more sensors, maneuvering thrusters, the troop bay (half the marines are probably killed, wounded, or trying to put out fires).  I then hit the starboard side reactors, the blast carrying through into portside reactors as well.

So three critical (red) boxes of the ship have been hit.  Destroyers have a 7+ target to cripple, -3 crit boxes hit = a chance of 4+.  I roll a 6, and the HMS Singapore loses power, adrift and dead in space.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

This moment of Russian victory is short lived, however.  Even as the Singapore is being hammered, so is the Basilov.  The first attack to hit are the those four fighters on a gunnery run.  Despite my shields (still up, amazingly), they score one hit that happens to hand on my med bay!  So my casualties from engineering have made it to med bay only to be machine-gunned by British fighters!

That’s a war crime, Dave!  You can bet I’ll be contacting the Hague about that!

Far worse is yet to come.  Four gravitic torpedoes (all from HMS Raven) hit on the red-colored boxes.  Aft shields finally die, aft mass drivers are knocked out, portside reactors are gone, portside reactors take a hit.  Cavitation damage ripples forward through the ship.  Finally comes a torpedo hit again in MED BAY!  The blast tears up through the center of the ship, damaging (but not destroying) the bridge, then setting off an explosion in the forward magazine!

Eight critical boxes have now been hit.  The Target to Cripple a light cruiser is 10+, -8 crit boxes = a 2+ roll on a d6.  It’s a pretty easy roll, which Dave makes with no problem.  The Basilov is crippled.  Even if she wasn’t, this ship would now be at 60% thrust, -1 from initiative for the bridge hit (for a net penalty of -3 on initiative), -1 to hit, -1 mass driver bracket, no aft shields, 75% chance for a forced break off . . .

In all, 31 days will be needed to bring this ship back, that’s after she’s towed back to a base, assuming she makes her ship recover check at all . . .

Still more bad news is to come.  The Singpore’s last volley scores two powerful 8 MgKv laser hits on the port quarter of the destroyer Kortik, then Dave rolls very well on his hit location, and actually knocks down the port quarter shields.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

Here we are at the end of movement of Turn 4.  The Basilov, Singapore, Fergusson, and Volkhov are all adrift, careening through space at their last powered heading and velocity.  You can see why it’s so important that you never end your turn facing toward a planet, moon, or asteroid.  You can see where my last ship, the destroyer Kortik, is now inverted, trying to hide her damaged (and unshielded) port quarter from the British.  Hiding it from the HMS Raven is easy enough, hiding it from the torpedoes and remaining fighters is not.

However, those disabled shields are really the result of some very lucky shooting from a ship that is no longer operational.  If I can knock down enough of these torpedoes, the ones that hit will probably not do enough damage to cripple the Kortik outright.  Meanwhile, these are practically the last torpedoes the Raven has.  Half her  bombers are shot down, the two that are left still haven’t been able to land to rearm.  Four fighters are gone.  My guns meanwhile, can shoot all day . . .

Believe it or not, the British, particularly the HMS Raven, are actually in a spot of trouble here . . .

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes (Part III)

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 10
3 Comments

Good afternoon, OTT / BoW:

Okay, so here’s the continuation of the Darkstar battle recently played on-line between myself and @davehawes.  In summary, we have my force  – an older cruiser battlegroup of the Holy Russian Empire (flagship CPK Basilov) pitted against @davehawes’ smaller, faster, lighter … more advanced but less “punchy-powerful” aerospace carrier battlegroup (flagship HMS Raven).

So here’s the general situation midway through Turn 02.  The two battlegroups have closed to within 1400 km or so, about the distance between London and Warsaw, and are now exchanging heavy fire.  My Russian ships continue to set a high speed, hoping to close with the British as quickly as possible.  My guns hit much harder close up, and the last thing you ever want to do with “gun heavy” ships is engage enemy carriers at a distance where their fighters and bombers can simply assail you with missiles and torpedoes.  I’ve started to hedge toward the Mars-sized planet in an attempt to cover at least some of the armor and shielding, if I take heavy damage on one side I can always roll my ship and use the planet’s bulk and atmosphere to protect such wounds.

Dave, meanwhile, has been a little accommodating in closing the distance.  He’s not moving nearly as fast as I am, and so is not quite as eager to close to any kind of “slugging distance” (perfectly understandable) but I’m a little surprised he’s closing at all.  No worries, we’re ready to engage.

The bad news for me will come in the aerospace attack phase, shown in progress below.  His four bombers (two counters of “B2”) are at standoff range, the maximum allowed to sling out their torpedoes past the cruiser Basilov, then fishhook around to hit the Basilov in the stern, by far the most vulnerable part of the ship.  To give the torpedoes sufficient reach to execute this maneuver, he has to come JUST close enough to be engaged by Basilov’s mass driver arrays.  We open fire with half our guns (keeping half ready to shoot down actual torpedoes) and manage to shoot down one bomber.  Then my one and only scout from CPK Volkhov zips in and shoots down another.  Aerospace combat is simultaneous, however, so Bomber #2’s ordinance is still launched (each bomber carries 2 torpedoes, so four bombers = 8 torpedoes, one bomber shot down by my mass driver fire BEFORE launch = 6 torpedoes, another bomber shot down by my scouts AS it was launching, so still 6 torpedoes, even though only 4 bombers are left).  None of these aerospace craft can shoot at my scout as they used their fire phase to launch aerospace ordinance at my cruiser.

Incidentally, HMS Singapore,  Raven, or Fergusson could have shot down my scout, but instead they are reserving ALL mass drivers to try and shoot down the swarm of P-500 Class III torpedoes (green counters) streaking in toward the engines of the destroyer HMS Singapore.  Dave also brings in his five scouts, who will take a try at shooting down these torpedoes.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

So here’s the Russian battlegroup being hit by the British ordinance package.  This is an extremely important phase of the turnand the overall game, it’s really the best single opportunity that Dave will have to knock out or at least badly damage this heaviest Russian ship.  I have already thrown half my mass drivers at his bombers, hoping to knock them out even before they launch, plus earn victory points for destroyed enemy combat assets.  That worked … partially, but now I only have half of the cruiser mass drivers left to engage the warships torpedoes (blue) the “6T” six aerospace torpedoes launched from those Star Typhoons, or the “8T” lighter eight aerospace missiles launched from the Supermarine Starfire fighters.  I also have the mass drivers from the destroyer Kortik and the frigate Volkhov.

I decide to put everything on the warship torpedoes.  These are by far the most dangerous, with the highest change to hit and largest damage profile.  Even more specifically, I start with those launched from the Singapore, as that destroyer has a +1 CIC / targeting electronics, making her torpedoes in particular even more dangerous.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

Meanwhile, the British are doing much the same against my torpedo spread. I have more warship torpedoes, but these are only Class IIIs, meaning they have a lower chance to hit and inflict less damage if they do hit.  Still, 17 warheads are nothing to sneeze at.  In addition, British scouts are able to attack, subtracting their the class of the torpedoes (3) from the scouts’ Base Intercept Number of 6 (essentially their aerospace attack number).  So 6-3=3, giving Dave x5d10 (five scouts) v. 3 … He scores two hits!  So whatever the British mass drivers manage to knock down, these scouts then knock down two more P-500 warheads with their light guns.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

My Russian mass driver gunners manage to shoot down all but two of the big Class IV warship torpedoes.  Their chance to hit is an 8, minus my shields of 4 = ≤4 v d10.  One hits, one misses.  Two aerospace missiles hit from the Starfires, three torpedoes hit from the Star Typhoons.  A typical tactic in Darkstar is to hit with your smaller ordinance first, shaving down enemy armor before really hammering home with your bigger weapons that may exploded inside the enemy ship.  So aerospace missiles hit in columns 3 and 4 (two boxes each).  The three Typhoon torpedoes hit in Colum 3 (three boxes), then TWO hit in the same column 4 where that Starfire missile just strike.  So six boxes are marked off INSIDE the Balisov, wiping out one whole engine (starboard), then drilling into the core of the ship (gray boxes up by the aft hangars).  The last big weapon is the that one Class IV torpedo, but its hit location is a little disappointing, a four-point strike that hits column 5.  You can see where the fourth box of damage doesn’t even take place in the ship, exploding harmlessly out into space as this warhead basically “clips the tail light” off the cruiser.

So this is nasty.  But the Basilov isn’t in real trouble yet.  She’s a light cruiser, so her Ship Crippled roll is a 10+ on a d6, -1 off that target number for each critical (red) box marked off.  She’s lost three engine boxes, giving her a new Cripple chance of 7+ on a d6.  Closer, but still not in immediate danger.  She’s also suffered -1 box of gray “core damage.”  Light cruisers have a “break off” chance of 15% per box.  I roll a 93 on 2d10 percentile, so Basilov’s crew isn’t running yet.  However, she has lost one complete engine (starboard), so she’s down -1 in Thrust (this affects her ability to turn and change velocity, as well as initiative).  She’s also lost one sensor box, meaning she’s at a -1 to hit with any and all weapons the rest of the game.  And let’s face it, her weapons weren’t that accurate to begin with.

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

The HMS Singapore, meanwhile, fares a little better.  Only five of my torpedoes survive British mass driver defensive fire and scout interception.  And of those, only two penetrate the Singapore’s shields.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the Singapore is a destroyer and thus a smaller ship.  I only have four columns to hit (d4 hit location instead of d5).

However, the Singapore gets very lucky, and the two torpedoes hit outboard (I roll 1 and 4 on hit locations).  While this knocks out one battery of mass drivers and a sensor suite (note the reduction of Mass driver number and the -1 to hit for the rest of the game), it COMPLETELY MISSES her engines.  If I had rolled 2 and 3 instead of 1 and 4, HMS Singapore would already be in real trouble and well into making critical compartment rolls to maintain power.

Meanwhile, along Singapore’s port bow, the Russian guns of the Kortik and Volkhov have already opened fire.  I knock out the port cargo bay, no effect on game play (the captain just lost the prized tea set and box of Cuban cigars he had in storage, he’s a little irate but otherwise undamaged).

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

Gunnery now opens up, and suddenly the picture starts to get a lot rosier for the Russians.  Although the Balisov (Konstantine class light cruiser) wasn’t able to get a broadside against the approaching British warships, it almost doesn’t matter.  With three of her four turrets (each a triple mount of 7-GW rail guns) mounted forward, she’s able to blast out a withering fusillade at the hapless little frigate Fergusson.   At this rather extended gunnery range, each 7-GW rail gun hit only causes two boxes of damage, and out of the nine guns I can bring to bear, four of them hit (base to hit at this range is 8, -4 for Fergusson’s shields, note the -1 sensor damage doesn’t actually take effect yet since all combat in a given round is considered simultaneous).  So that’s four 2-point hits, THREE of which hit in sector 3 (1d6 / 2).  Port bow shields are down, two compartments of crew quarters are gone … but the worst is the 7-GW rail gun bolt that smashes completely through the bridge.  No roll, no save, the ship is crippled.

Now after the battle, HMS Fergusson will have a chance to be recovered, towed back to the nearest Royal Navy shipyard for repair and refit, to be brought back into service.  Looking at her damage here, just 6 days (1.5 days per internal component box hit if ship is crippled) … plus whatever tow time it requires to get her back to said dry dock.  But for now, she’s out.

Not to be out done, the HMS Fergusson simultaneously fires back at the frigate Volkhov.  She misses.  The Singapore, however, scores a hard series of broadside hits (remember her +1 CIC / targeting electronics) with her heavy-gauge lasers and Syglex emitters (synchronized, gravitic-lensed X-rays … basically wide-beam, short-burn X-ray “lasers”).  Three of Singapore’s lasers hit, inflicting two boxes of damage (based on Dave’s rolls) in columns 1, 2, and 3.  So the lasers perfectly score off all the armor from Volkhov’s starboard quarter.  Two syglex emitters hit next, punching into the ship and then “dragging” backward like a blowtorch.  The first one hits in Column 2, the second one hist in column 3.  As the damage “drags” backward off the back of the ship (syglex emitters are often not terribly effective against smaller ships, at least on the aft quarters), Dave nevertheless hits one reactor box, as shown.

Okay, Resolution Phase.  Already the Volkhov is down one complete reactor, knocking down available thrust by -1, as well as her starboard quarter mass driver array.

But could it be worse?  Frigates are smaller ships (35,000 tons,180 crew or so), and it doesn’t take much to knock them out.  A frigate’s Ship Crippled roll is a 6+ on a d6, -1 off that target number for each critical (red) box marked off.  This reduces the -6+ to 5+, giving Dave what works out to a 1/3 chance that this ship will power down right now.

He rolls a 5.  So the Novgorod class frigate CPK Volkhov is also crippled, without power, dead in space and out of power.

In effect, the British and Russians have traded frigates.  I’ve slightly damaged the destroyer Singapore,  while he’s badly damaged the larger light cruiser Basilov.  At the moment, the British seem to have the upper hand.

However . . . the aerospace group of the HMS Raven has thrown it’s “Sunday punch.”  Half her bombers are now shot down, and the two that are left are too far from the carrier to land quickly to re-arm.  Yes, they have eight fighters, but these are now only armed with light cannon, not terribly frightening against full-sized ships.  The Russians, by contrast, can fire off those 7-GW rail guns and heavy 40-KG plasma projectors all day …

The advantage may very easily shift back on Turn 3.  This battle isn’t even close to over yet …

Darkstar Online - Oriskany vs. Davehawes Part II

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 11
5 Comments

Well, as some of you may remember, I was challenged on an episode of XLBS a while back to run a game of Darkstar on-line.

Never challenge Oriskany. 😀

In all seriousness … this first on-line game has now been run.  It took place on December 1, 2018 between myself here in Fort Lauderdale and @davehawes in the UK, with spectators from the US, UK, and Canada.

The platform proved very smooth and outside of a few lag issues when remote players were trying to move their pieces on the shared desktop, delivered a pretty epic Darkstar experience.

So here we have the opening positions at the end of Turn 01 movement phase.  We have a Mars-sized planet and a small moon to upper right.  The moon is rich in a valuable resource, and has been mined so heavily by city-sized automated facilities that industrial debris is now presenting a navigational hazard (note the asteroid counters strung out the moon’s gravitational eddy).

Apparently the powers-that-be feel this moon is still valuable enough to fight over, as the Holy Russian Empire and the United Kingdom  have decided to have a bit of a dust-up over disputed expiration dates on the mining leases of this facility.

The Russians are approaching from upper left.  They have an old Konstantin class light cruiser, a Sonvya class destroyer, and a Novgorod class frigate.  All 7-gigawatt rail guns and heavy plasma projectors.  A direct, simple, sledgehammer kind of a force.  They are approaching at high speed, pushing 36 kilometers a second.

The British (at @davehawes’ request) have a much smaller, more agile, and high-tech force.  Notably, the British flagship is the Osprey class light carrier HMS Raven, carrying a complement of Supermarine Starfire aerospace fighters and Hawker Star Typhoon bombers.  You can see where the British (approaching from lower right) have set a much slower course, wary of keeping a distance from those big-punch Russian guns, and instead are trying their best to scramble their aerospace group as quickly as possible.

Initial volleys are exchanged at a distance of 3420 kilometers (19 hexes).  That’s the distance from London to Cairo.  All of Europe would easily fit into the space between these two battlegroups, but they are closing at a combined rate of about 50 kilometers a second (180,000 km an hour).

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

Spreading things out just a bit for the same of clarity (and just in this screen pic), we see the Russian task force making its approach.  Flagship is the light cruiser CPK (Holy Russian Ship) Basilov, a Konstantin class light cruiser.  Older, cheaper, loaded with simple rail guns and old P-500 “Plamya” (flame) Class III torpedoes, named for Russian Orthodox saints, these ships have a direct purpose and despite their age, still pose a very serious threat to anyone who gets too close, as the British are about to learn.

Slightly more advanced (although by no means state of the art) are the Sovnya class destroyer Kortik (traditional Russian naval dagger) and the Novgorod class frigate Volkhov (named for mid-sized cities of terrestrial Russia).

To balance the game at 117 points, the Basilov and the Kortik are entering this game without their scouts.  So the only aerospace the Russians have is the one lonely scout from the little frigate Volkhov.

Russian ships have also launched torpedoes. The decision was made by the Basilov’s captain to slow slightly and lake a turn in an attempt to present a broadside.  This doesn’t work anyway (she lost initiative) but the idea was to present more guns in exchange for firing a full spread of torpedoes from both port bow and starboard bow arrays.

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

The Royal Navy launches aerospace craft to engage.  These ships are the HMS Raven, the aforementioned Osprey class light carrier, and her two escorts.  These are the Falklands class fleet destroyer HMS Singapore – actually a pretty advanced design and the most advanced ship on this table.  On the other end is the humble HMS Fergusson, a small Cornwallis class escort frigate.  Specifically designed not to be an independent vessel (she doesn’t even have the full speed of a frigate), she is a true escort ship, designed to hang close to a flagship and provide torpedo, gunnery, and especially mass driver (anti-aerospace craft) support.

Meanwhile, the forward, port, starboard launch bays of the Raven have already launched the maximum amount of fighters and bombers she can this turn.  These are racing out to engage the Russians with aerospace missiles from the fighters and much heavier aerospace torpedoes from the bombers.

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

The most challenging part of the on-line play solution was figuring out how to work the Warships Record Sheets (WRS).  But I think we’re getting it.  Here is a partial view of HMS Osprey’s WRS, showing the torpedoes she’s launches so far, her aerospace group, her mass driver defenses, her initiative for Turn 1, her initial velocity recorded for Turn 1, and the final speed for the turn (which of course becomes her initial velocity for Turn 2).

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

End of movement on Round 2.  The two sides have closed to about 1440 kilometers (about the distance from London to Warsaw).  The British are about to  hit the Russians with a devastating aerospace and torpedo strike.  But the Russians are no slouches when it comes to ship-launched torpedoes, and what this battlegroup lacks in aerospace craft they make up for in guns . . .

Lots of guns.

And the two sides are a lot closer now.  And those British ships suddenly look very small and frail . . .

 

Stay tuned!

Darkstar has Gone On-Line!

What else can I say but THANK YOU!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 10
No Comments
What else can I say but THANK YOU!

Wow, everyone.  Seriously, what else can I say but … thank you.

Suffice it to say that the results of this pool have absolutely blown away any and all expectations.  The response in just twelve hours … it’s absolutely incredible.  I’m surprised, thrilled, humbled, excited, and deeply moved.

I can’t connect everyone’s OTT/BoW screen name to the names that appear in the support / donation pool.  But just a quick list …

Damon – Consider the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser “under construction” in the shipyards.  If you want, we can come up with some distinguishing features from the Iron Duke and Titan classes so it’s not redundant in the canon.

Nick – Absolutely no worries on a warship Quin.  UK?  US?  Any other preference?  We’ll make sure she’s a famous ship of her class.

Stu Shaw – Absolutely great idea re: adding pictures of the the warships card construction / playing pieces into the book somewhere.  Maybe their own suggestion as an appendix at the back, like some books have painting guides for inspiration, etc.

Howard – “A UK ship,” you say?  For that donation and level of support, you deserve a fleet!  A ship indeed, that’s going to be at least a battlecruiser, or really any class you want.

Jennifer – thanks so much for all your support, in the pool, at the playtesting table, and everywhere else on the “battlefield of life.”  Long live the HMS Kraken!

Andrew – Dude, you didn’t even ask for anything!  That’s not going to fly, not in my universe.  Do they name warships after engineers?  Hell, they do now.  😀

Dennis – my God, man.  Are you kidding me?  You can’t choose between “hero of the lore” or “warship class?”  Have no fear, sir, they name warship classes after historical heroes.  So you’re getting both.

Rasmus – Thanks so much!   I think there may be some “space Vikings” in the making!

 

Donation Pool Open - Darkstar Rules Publication

Tutoring 5
Skill 8
Idea 11
8 Comments

Good afternoon, OnTableTop / Beasts of War;

As you may have heard or read, repeated requests from dozens of community members have finally pushed me into writing down an official, codified set of rules for Darkstar, my sci fi wargame of tactical starship combat in humanity’s far future.

Work has begun on this project, which is every bit as large and complex and I thought it would be. I’m anticipating the base rules to be at least 40 illustrated pages, plus 40+ more pages of starship designs, background, write ups, etc.

All of this is addition to the 30+ pages already published of history, factions, tech, “known space” setting, and so on.

While I’m writing and publishing this rulebook simply strictly at community request, I’ve also opened a PayPal Pool if anyone is interested in contributing to this project.  It’s turning into a month of 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM nights, but the goal is to produce a professional-grade .pdf that anyone can download and play a game of Darkstar with a minimum of questions or ambiguity.

If you are so inclined (I thank you very much in advance), just hit the link below and contribute in whatever amount you feel comfortable.

>>Darkstar Optional Donation Pool<<

What you get:

Those who contribute will be included in the rule set or Darkstar “canon” universe  somehow.  Just some possible examples:

$1 USD or more:  A warship named after you (you pick the faction)

$5 USD or more:  A warship or colony named after you, perhaps with some of the write up of that warship class mentioning your ship as “the most notable vessel of the class.”  Perhaps you can be included somewhere in the background as a prominent starship captain or naval commander in the Darkstar universe, with a short note about how your namesake became famous enough to have a warship named after him or her.  You’re also at “the front of the line” if you ever choose to play Darkstar online with our growing “Starships Commander’s Club.”

$10 USD or more: An entire warship class named after you, with your name probably being used as a starship naval “hero” of Darkstar history.  Who knows?

Anyway, I’m writing the rule set anyway as a passion project, and as a way to encourage the amazing the humbling amount of interest the Darkstar project has already been generating.  Thanks so much, everyone, and I hope to see you “out there among the stars.”

Jim “Oriskany” Johnson

First Online Game on Saturday, December 1st!

Tutoring 6
Skill 10
Idea 10
4 Comments

So as you may have seen in another project thread:

https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1303724/

… we’ve been having great success with playing tactical wargames via web conference with OTT / BoW community members all around the world.  So far we’ve been doing great with Panzer Leader and Arab Israeli Wars, but on Saturday December 1st we’re expanding this idea to Darkstar.

Myself and @davehawes will be playing online Darkstar on a virtual game board using MS Excel, pitting a British light carrier force against a larger, but slower and less-agile cruiser battlegroup of the Holy Russian Empire.  We may even have a couple of spectators!

Meanwhile, work continues on an official, codified rule book.  As previously reported, all summary concepts, initiative, and movement rules are written and illustrated, both for warships and aerospace craft.  I’ve now completed aerospace combat, including dogfights, aerospace torpedo and missile attacks, recover and rearming rules, strafing attacks, etc.  I’ve also written and illustrated how mass drivers work, and warships torpedo strikes.

I’m now working on warships combat (main guns blasting away at each other).  So that’s range calculation, base to hit, adjusted hit targets, weapons arcs, and target facing rules.

Next step, applying damage.

This is up to 27 pages and counting.  The good news is I’d say I was at least halfway done at this point.

First Online Game on Saturday, December 1st!
First Online Game on Saturday, December 1st!

Requested Materials - Darkstar Weapons Lists

Tutoring 8
Skill 10
Idea 11
2 Comments

Good afternoon, BoW / OTT:

Responded to a request from @bloodstrike for a list of all the major weapons types (and associated weapons / equipment systems) available for design / installation in a Darkstar  warship.

Which reminds me, if anyone hasn’t checked this out yet, please take a moment to review his great project thread, here, where he’s taking information presented ion the text and design tables and 3D printing his own ships.

https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1305447/

Also, @elessar2590 has also been developing a fleet of 3D models for use with Darkstar.

https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1305519/

I’s so exciting and humbling to see other people take the idea of Darkstar and plug into their own skill sets, tech, tools, and hobby, producing what is in fact “new content” to expand the Darkstar universe even further.

Requested Materials - Darkstar Weapons Lists

Progress Report - Darkstar Rules

Tutoring 5
Skill 11
Idea 11
14 Comments

Good afternoon, OTT / BOW!

Okay, just to keep everyone informed, I’m happy to report that after a short break for US Thanksgiving holiday weekend, work on the Darkstar tactical rules is making very solid progress.

Two chapters are written –

1) Fundamentals – to include scales, components, warship types, and turn sequence, astrophysical bodies, gravity, the warship record sheet, etc.

2) All Rules for Initiative and Movement – to include warships and aerospace and torpedoes and astrophysical bodies.

3) Starting actual combat rules tonight.

Might be taking a slight slowdown later this week to start preparing documents / game boards for our first on-line play of Darkstar (Saturday 1 December, 2018).

A few low-res sample pages below.

Just so no one is in any doubt that this IS coming!

More updates to come!

Progress Report - Darkstar Rules
Progress Report - Darkstar Rules
Progress Report - Darkstar Rules
Progress Report - Darkstar Rules

Darkstar Campaign Chart - Advantages and Awards Chart

Tutoring 8
Skill 12
Idea 13
4 Comments

So here is the chart that lists the things that players can buy with campaign points, basically “xp” you get for fighting or winning battles.

Typically you get 1 point for being in a battle.

That is increased for 2 points if you come out on the winning side.

Sometimes players will agree that one ship per game gets some insane award for great rolls, bravery, kickass events, etc.  Then you’d get 3.

For every 6 points accrued, you get to select one thing off this list.

Almost universally, the first thing selected is “Commander’s Luck.”  This is the advantage that usually lets commanders survive long enough to get other advantages.  ECM / Shielding is another popular choice.  Save your own ass before you start plotting the ruin of others.

Like any game I design (or enjoy) … Darkstar is an unforgiving mistress.  You can lose your ass very quickly in this game.  So it pays to have a little bit of “grace” when it comes to those all-important post-game survival checks (is your crippled ship recovered, scuttled, captured, or lost forever in the icy tomb of space)?

Darkstar Campaign Chart - Advantages and Awards Chart

Requested Warship Classes - US and Japanese

Tutoring 12
Skill 10
Idea 13
29 Comments

Good morning, all ~

Okay, first update:

Rules started.  Seven pages written, formatted, illustrated.  This is going to be a long journey.

Meanwhile, I’ve had some requests for the Warship Record Sheets on a few classes.  Namely, “medium carriers” and frigates for the US and Japan.  So I chose light fleet carriers (built in the weight class of light cruisers), and frigates.  These are attached below, not only in .jpg format for immediate view, but also as downloadable .pdf files below.

Requested Warship Classes - US and Japanese

The Kagoshima class aerospace carriers are named for cities in the Kagoshima Prefecture of terrestrial Japan, southernmost of all prefectures in the home islands. Since its baptism of fire in the Sino-Japanese Iota Pegasus War of 2502, the class has proven its worth and there is talk of expanding the class to include ships named after another prefecture as well.

The design is fairly standard, with two bays for the A9M “Kataka” (Fire Hawk) naval aerospace fighters mounted port and starboard and a larger one installed centerline in the fo’c’sle. Port and starboard launch bays also carry the B7N “Tenrai” (Heavenly Thunder) bomber, while Ki-202 “Hien” (Flying Swallow) scouts are carried forward. Aft bays also carry the cutters and yacht.

What sets the Kagoshima class apart is its torpedo capacity, with two quadruple bays of Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayers) mounted on port and starboard bows. While detractors point out that these cut back slightly on the aerospace craft the Kagoshima can carry (indeed, they carry less than the American Endeavor class), the Kagoshima still carries a bigger strike group than the comparable Russian Gagarin or British Invincible classes.

Furthermore, it cannot be denied that these torpedoes add a devastating element to the carrier’s overall strike capability. Sent in with the strike group against the same target on the same vector, these torpedoes almost guarantee that enemy defenses will be so occupied shooting down the Dragon Slayers that the strike group will have practically an open door. The Kagoshima also carries powerful mass driver defenses to keep the ship safe from enemy strike groups, and expanded cargo bays to support long-ranged operations deep into enemy-controlled space.

Like all carriers, however, the Kagoshima remains desperately vulnerable without her aerospace group, and is never deployed near potential enemies without a generous screen of destroyers and frigates.

Built and commissioned at:
Akagi Prime, Gamma Leporis
Shogun Station, Callisto
New Kyoto Shipyards, Earth

Ships in Class    

CCE 77 – IJN Kagoshima – On Duty
CCE 78 – IJN Izumi – On Duty
CCE 79 – IJN Kanoya – On Duty, Annabel’s Star
CCE 80 – IJN Hioki – Torpedoed and exploded, 2511
CCE 81 – IJN Ajune – On Duty
CCE 82 – IJN Amagi – On Duty
CCE 83 – IJN Nakatane – On Duty
CCE 84 – IJN Kimotsuki – On Duty
CCE 85 – IJN Nagashima – On Duty, Xi Scorpio
CCE 86 – IJN Satsuma – On Duty
CCE 87 – IJN Osaki – Exploded, Battle of Santa Catalina
CCE 88 – IJN Yakushima – On Duty
CCE 89 – IJN Kikai – On Duty
CCE 90 – IJN Tatsugo – Destroyed in collision, Andromeda Arc
CCE 91 – IJN Toshima – On Duty

Requested Warship Classes - US and Japanese

The Endeavor class light fleet carrier is another example of classic United States naval doctrine: the forward deployment of expeditionary fleets, task forces, and battlegroups based around the large, fast, and heavily-loaded aerospace carrier.

Of course, since Lexington class supercarriers are too large and expensive to be deployed everywhere, intermediate classes like the Endeavor serve as a bridge between these “war-enders” and smaller carrier classes like the Buford and the Chosin.

In parallel with these “light fleet carriers,” a secondary Saipan class has also been developed for use by the United States Marine Corps.  Basically, these are Endeavor class carriers whose cargo bays have undergone slight modifications to carry “Harrier” class assault boats, tasked with the assault of planetary colonies and orbital installations.

Like all American ships, the Endeavors carry names steeped in national history.  The first five units of the class are named for the original space shuttles constructed by NASA during the 1970s and 1980s.  Even now, five centuries later, service aboard the Challenger and Columbia is seen as a special honor among officers and men.  Many of the other ships are named for famous American carriers of World War II.

The service records for the Endeavor class carriers so far has been exemplary, although it bears noting that these ships are never sent anywhere without substantial escort.  Like most American carriers, they are “pure” aerospace platforms, almost helpless in any engagement without their strike group.  But that strike group is a fearsome factor in any battle.  With a reinforced squadron of Vought “Corsair” fighters-bombers and another of Grumman “Avenger” torpedo bombers, plus two pair of “Hawkeye” scouts,  (32 aerospace craft in all), and Endeavor class carrier can establish aerospace superiority many Second-Band moons or planets, or even a lightly-held star system.

** In the planetary assault configuration, the Saipan class carries 4 fighters and 4 bombers for ground support, 12 “Harrier” class assault boats, 196 Marines, 4 tanks, and 4 support vehicles.  Cutters, launches, and yachts remain unchanged.

Built and commissioned at:
New Virginia Orbital Yards, Earth
Triton Shipyards, Neptune Navy Yard
Fort Dyron, Proxima Centauri

CSCV-441 – USS Endeavor – On Duty
CSCV-442 – USS Columbia – On Duty
CSCV-443 – USS Challenger – On Duty
CSCV-444 – USS Discovery – On Duty
CSCV-445 – USS Enterprise – On Duty
CSCV-446 – USS Liberty – On Duty, Xi Scorpio
CSCV-447 – USS Freedom – On Duty
CSCV-448 – USS Independence – On Duty
CSCV-449 – USS Intrepid – On Duty
CSCV-450 – USS Hornet – Under Construction
CSCV-451 – USS Essex – n/a

Saipan Class
LHCA-471 – USS Saipan – On Duty
LHCA-472 – USS Belleau Wood – On Duty, Xi Scorpio
LHCA-473 – USS Iwo Jima – On Duty
LHCA-474 – USS Guadalcanal – On Duty
LHCA-475 – USS Inchon – On Duty
LHCA-476 – USS Khe San – On Duty
LHCA-477 – USS Peleliu – On Duty

Requested Warship Classes - US and Japanese

When it was originally built, the Akashi class assault frigate was something of a throwback to an earlier age of Japanese naval tactics.  A hyper-aggressive design, the ship mounted virtually all its weapons, ECM protection, and gravitic shielding up front, with only an afterthought of defense to its aft quarters.  Clearly, the Akashi was meant to “slash” at the enemy in bold strikes, using its superior thrust to speed into enemy formations, inflict maximum damage, and speed back out again.

Of course, such attacks are typically best made along the bow or stern of the target, denying the enemy a full retaliatory broadside and maximizing the Akashi’s chance of survival.

In practice, however, this didn’t work.  No matter how skillfully the captain placed his ship, the Akashi’s stern remained vulnerable to weapons like torpedoes and aerospace fighters.  Losses were absolutely hideous, and a horrified Japanese Naval Review board took the ships off-line to reconfigure their defenses to a more conventional layout.

Even now, the Akashis are spare, lean, and spartan ships, even by Japanese standards, and  there are unconfirmed reports that they are crewed strictly by men with no families.  Some Americans enlisted men have been heard to call them “kamikaze karts,” while British press has listed them as “banzai boats.”  Such dismissal, however, is a dangerous understimation of the Akashi’s potential.  After all, very few ships of their class can match the sheer firepower of their frontal barrage.  In the end, it’s up to the crew to make the most of the  Akashi’s strengths, and keep its weaknesses hidden.

FE-12 – IJN Akashi – On Duty
FE-13 – IJN Wutazashi – Exploded, defense of Akagi Prime
FE-14 – IJN Narushima – Exploded, Psi Serpentis
FE-15 – IJN Sakaimura – Exploded, 19 Draconis
FE-16 – IJN Karajima – Destroyed, Canis Minoris
FE-17 – IJN Kanoate – On Duty
FE-18 – IJN Yurakazu – On Duty, Annabel’s Star
FE-19 – IJN Tanakasha – Exploded, Kapteyn’s Star
FE-20 – IJN Kikukawa – On Duty
FE-21 – IJN Kitamura – On Duty
FE-22 – IJN Takarada – On Duty, Annabel’s Star
FE-23 – IJN Wutazashi II – On Duty, Annabel’s Star

Requested Warship Classes - US and Japanese

The Shepard class frigate is a workhorse of the United States Navy, perhaps one of the most ubiquitous symbols of American maritime power in Known Space.  After all, while mammoth dreadnoughts like the Colorado class battleships or Lexington class supercarriers are certainly impressive, few people will actually see one.  Shepards, by contrast, are everywhere.

The class was first launched in the late 2480s, after the disastrous failure of the Kearsarge class frigate.  These older craft  were stubbornly mounted with 5- and 4- gigawatt rail guns, which were just to heavy for ships this small.  The guns were too short in range to allow effective reach, forcing the Kearsarge to close to dangerous proximity with larger opponents.  They didn’t pack enough punch, and their weight robbed the frigates of what’s supposed to be a frigate’s trump card: speed.

Only when the US Navy finally turned their back on small-hulled rail gun-armed ships and embraced the new technology of the electron particle cannon did the fleet get the frigate class it so desperately needed.

Named for astronauts of the long-ago Mercury and Apollo programs, the Shepard class has since become a mainstay of the fleet, with no fewer than thirty-five units built and an updated redesign currently on the drawing boards.   At less than 25,000 tons, the Shepard is somewhat light for a frigate, while its array of 9-teravolt EPCs give it a tremendous punch, especially against smaller ships.  Standard tactics call for these weapons to be fired in broadside, carving deep swaths in enemy armor before the the Mark 48 gravitic torpedo (retrofitted from the older Mark 36) slams home to break the enemy ship.

Mass driver protection is also formidable, built around standard American 20mm Oerkilon and 40mm Bofors mounts.  One possible weakness is the design’s age and lack of a more sophisticated electronics, targeting, and CIC suite.  But so many of these ships have been built and that it’s unlikely that the US Navy will seriously consider scrapping them any time soon.

FSGN-611 – USS Alan Shepard – On Duty
FSGN-612 – USS Buzz Aldrin – On Duty
FSGN-613 – USS Neil Armstrong – On Duty
FSGN-614 – USS Scott Carpenter – On Duty
FSGN-615 – USS Michael Collins – On Duty
FSGN-616 – USS Scott Glenn – Captured, Andromeda Arc
FSGN-617 – USS Gus Grissom – On Duty
FSGN-618 – USS John Young – On Duty, Xi Scorpio
FSGN-619 – USS Walter Schirra – On Duty
FSGN-620 – USS Gordon Cooper – On Duty
FSGN-621 – USS Donald Slayton – On Duty
FSGN-622 – USS Edward H. White – Scuttled, 2499
FSGN-623 – USS Roger B. Chaffee – Scuttled, Andromeda Arc
FSGN-624 – USS Pete Conrad – On Duty
FSGN-625 – USS Edgar Mitchell – On Duty
FSGN-626 – USS David Scott – Lost in combat, 2511
FSGN-627 – USS James Irwin – Destroyed, Andromeda Arc
FSGN-628 – USS Charles Duke – On Duty
FSGN-629 – USS Eugene Cernan – Lost in combat, 2508
FSGN-630 – USS Harrison Schmitt – On Duty
FSGN-631 – USS James Lovell – On Duty
FSGN-632 – USS Fred Haise – Destroyed, IK Pegasi
FSGN-633 – USS Frank Borman – On Duty
FSGN-634 – USS William Anders – On Duty
FSGN-635 – USS Tom Stafford – On Duty
FSGN-636 – USS Dick Gordon – On Duty
FSGN-637 – USS Jack Swigert – On Duty
FSGN-638 – USS Stuart Roosa – Lost in combat, 2505
FSGN-639 – USS Al Worden – On Duty
FSGN-640 – USS Ken Mattingly – On Duty
FSGN-641 – USS Ronald Evans – On Station, Xi Scorpio
FSGN-642 – USS Don Eisele – On Duty
FSGN-643 – USS James McDivitt – On Duty
FSGN-644 – USS Walter Cunningham – On Duty
FSGN-645 – USS Rusty Schweickart – On Duty

ANNOUNCEMENT: DARKSTAR RULES WILL BE WRITTEN!

Tutoring 9
Skill 17
Idea 19
26 Comments

Okay, Beast of War community … you win!  I am officially running up the white flag!  Your Soviet-style “human-wave” tactics have finally overcome my hesitation, reluctance, fear, and cynicism.  I will bend to your will.

I will write the Darkstar rules – as in actually down on paper.

*… God help me … *

Please understand, I am positively thrilled that this project has had so much support over the preceding year, and continues to draw so much attention and positive feedback from the community.  It really has touched a nerve it seems, in bringing detailed, tactical, “crunchy” wargame play to the sci-fi genre in a way that we really haven’t seen since the 1980s glory days of BattleTech, Traveler, and Renegade Legions.

But as someone who has written wargame rule books before (and I mean written rulebooks, 1980s style, not the glossy, fabulously illustrated, but ultimately vague and badly organized material we so often get today)  …

… I have no illusions what I am in for.

So, a few things:

  1. This rule book will be written over the next month or so.  It will take at least that long.
  2. This rule book will contain no fluff.  All of that has already been presented in the .pdfs available in this project thread.
  3. This will be a bare-bones “legal document” that will emphasize clarity, organization, cross-referencing, examples, and the actual “nutz-n’-boltz” mechanics of actual tabletop play.
  4. The Turn Sequence included in this project thread below will serve as a general “table of contents,” with four additional small sections:
    • Setting up scenarios
    • Determining victory
    • Upgrading your ship / commander / crew
    • A sample of warships
  5. The book will not include all factions for all ship classes.  I’m sorry, I just can’t.  Not for a first try at a rule book.  That would be 200 additional pages right there.
  6. The book will not include the MS Excel tables for building / designing your own ships from scratch.  If anyone is interested in trying that, we can work together online via Discord or GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts or some other medium.
  7. The book will not include the full campaign rules for determining how these interstellar wars start, progress, and end.  Again, it’s just too much.
  8. The book will not include planetary invasions, ground installations, boarding, etc.  Again, this is all to much, and to be honest, it only transpires in about 5% of Darkstar games anyway.
  9. All of these these elements not included may be included in smaller future books, depending on how the first book goes and how well it is received.
  10. At the moment I have no plans for monetizing this or anything.  All I will be producing is a series of .pdfs, which honestly can be copied and spread around after the first one is sent out anyway.  There will be no maps, components, miniatures, etc., nothing from which I will be trying to derive revenue.
  11. I will be accepting donations through PayPal if anyone wants to support me or my work.  Rewards for such donations may be anything from your name being included in the book, a starship in the official canon being named after you, a colony, or a “legendary general” in the historical background of one of the factions.
  12. I will certainly “be around” to answer questions, clarify rules, or even help run online Darkstar games and/or tutorials via a web platform to be determined.

So there it is.  I am officially doing this.

Apologies in advance, I will be more or less vanishing from Beasts of War / OTT for at least the next month or so as this project gets started.

And again, we’ll be running online games in the next couple of weeks.  There’s already a “bit of a line” so to speak.  And I’ll be a little backed up with these written rules.

But stay tuned to this project thread!  Every recommendation and comment is a little more encouragement!  Updates and progress will be posted!

Take care, and thanks as always for everyone’s support.

 

James “Oriskany”

Historical Editor, Beasts of War

 

Materials from Lets Play Video

Tutoring 10
Skill 13
Idea 13
6 Comments

Some people have been requesting more information on the ships, rules, and charts used in the recent “Let’s Play Video” for Darkstar.

Accordingly, I have attached here the Turn Sequence, master chart reference sheet, and the ship record sheets for the six ships used in this game.

Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video
Materials from Lets Play Video

Holy hell! 1362 recommendations!

Tutoring 3
Skill 9
Idea 12
6 Comments
Thanks so much, Beasts of War / OTT, and all the community, for making Darkstar the highest-recommended project on the site!  Huge thanks to all the followers, Justin and Jenn for the great video, and Lance, Colin, and the editors for making this a truly epic video and contributing so much to the success of this projectThanks so much, Beasts of War / OTT, and all the community, for making Darkstar the highest-recommended project on the site! Huge thanks to all the followers, Justin and Jenn for the great video, and Lance, Colin, and the editors for making this a truly epic video and contributing so much to the success of this project

Online Maps for long-distance Darkstar Play

Tutoring 12
Skill 15
Idea 14
11 Comments

Good afternoon, all ~

After the challenge was put out last week on XLBS, and more talk is starting to circulate regarding online play for Darkstar, I thought I would dust off the electronic maps and start getting this ready for potential use.

Two two factions pictured here are the US Navy and the “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State.  Also available are the Royal Navy for the UK, the Holy Russian Empire, Japan, Imperial Prussia, and the Panasian Union (basically, China and her allies / vassal states).

There are also more factions, the Arab League, the New Roman Alliance (France, Italy, Spain, and other predominantly Catholic countries), the Corporate Consortium (loose collection of high-tech private “navies” to include “security consultants,” privateers, and outright pirates.  These are technically available, but would  take just a little work to bring them out of 1st Edition and update to the new 2nd Edition model.

In this “e-gaming model,” players share access to a file in a shared web space, switching keyboard and mouse controls as they both view the same desktop / gameboard in a video teleconferencing format.

Online Maps for long-distance Darkstar Play
Online Maps for long-distance Darkstar Play
Online Maps for long-distance Darkstar Play

Darkstar comes to Coleraine!

Tutoring 5
Skill 18
Idea 20
11 Comments
Darkstar comes to Coleraine!
Darkstar comes to Coleraine!

Filmed some great Darkstar content in the Beasts of War “Cage” last night, hopefully we’ll see it rolled out front stage before too long.  😀

British Royal Navy Carriers

Tutoring 10
Skill 15
Idea 15
4 Comments

In some of the comments, some readers have expressed interest in starting a British Royal Navy battlegroup built around an aerospace carrier.

Here are two of the initial prospects.  Osprey class is probably what’s recommended for a new player, simply because carrier play requires some of the more detailed rules, and a lot more finesse with the tactics.  Ergo, smaller carriers (with smaller aerospace strike groups) are probably better to start out.

As usual, opening the image in a new tab is best to read this text. 😀

British Royal Navy Carriers
British Royal Navy Carriers

New 3D Scratch-Build Miniatures complete! (P2)

Tutoring 9
Skill 16
Idea 16
12 Comments

Scratch-built miniatures for Darkstar starship tactical wargame.

So the largest miniatures here are for heavy cruiser.  Just under two inches long.

The smallest ones are the destroyers, about 1.5 inches.

This makes the minis about 1:9000 scale (destroyers in this game mass about 45000-52000 tons, about 850 feet long).

Smaller ships (not built yet) would include frigates, then corvettes, and finally gunboats (about the side of the Millenium Falcon).

Larger ships would include pocket battleships, battlecruiser, battleships, supercarriers, and superdreadnoughts (600-650,000 tons, about 3-4 kilometers in length).

Close up of the Japanese heavy cruiser task force (port quarter)Close up of the Japanese heavy cruiser task force (port quarter)
Close up of the British (starboard bow).  Close up of the British (starboard bow).
Close up of the Japanese (starboard bow).  Close up of the Japanese (starboard bow).

New 3D Scratch-Build Miniatures done! (P1)

Tutoring 11
Skill 14
Idea 13
No Comments

Okay, everyone.  The new scratch-built miniatures are complete and being packed up for shipment across the ocean for the visit to Ireland.

Again, the idea is for a “fleet” of 20-30 ships or so (10 have been built so far today since about 4:00 AM), and have them detachable for use with different bases for different factions.

Three ship classes represented here – Destroyer (DD), Light Cruiser (CL), Heavy Cruiser (CA).

For now, attached to Royal Navy / United Kingdom bases, and IJN / Japan bases.

Built from light cardboard, balsa dowels, and small bits from my girlfriend’s jewelry hobby box.

Primed in Krylon medium gray.

Dry-brushed in lighter gray craft store acrylic.

Weapons mounts painted lighter gray, along with white and blue running lights, red and green port / starboard maritime navigation lights, and light blue engine glow.

The fleet as it exists at the moment (starboard bow)The fleet as it exists at the moment (starboard bow)
Fleet from the port quarter.Fleet from the port quarter.
Port quarter close up of British heavy cruiser task force (about 320 points, if ships are all Port quarter close up of British heavy cruiser task force (about 320 points, if ships are all "n00bs" with no upgrades or crew bonuses)

Starting new 3D Playing Pieces

Tutoring 12
Skill 16
Idea 14
16 Comments

It’s certainly been a while since this project has been active.  A big reason has been the upcoming Boot Camp.  However, some people who’ll be at the boot camp have expressed interest in trying this out at the BoW Studios, so I thought now would be the best time to start making up some enhanced 3D playing pieces.

I’ve talked about this before.  Right now, with 11 active factions and almost 100 starship classes in fourteen different category types, the total “fleet” of playing pieces is well over 300 ships.  Needless to say, I can’t do 300 ships like this, so what I’m starting is to build a smaller fleet of say … 20-30 ships then using some kind of magnetized attachment feature where I can switch out the actual “miniatures” with the base (where the faction, ship class, and ship number are displayed).

After all, there are almost never more than 10-12 ships on the table at once, even in the biggest game.

So here I have two heavy cruiser, four light cruisers, and four destroyers, ranging from just under 2″ to 1.5″ long.  Cut from cardboard, balsa dowels, and small jewelry hobby bits.   These will be painted later today, then made “magnetized attachable” to a wide array of bases so I can accommodate whatever players may want to try during the upcoming trip to BoW studios.

And if it doesn’t work out at BoW Studios, no worries.  This was something I’ve been wanting to get started on for quite some time, and it feels good to take a brief break from the desert.

More to come, hopefully later tonight!

Starting new 3D Playing Pieces

New Factions!

Tutoring 7
Skill 14
Idea 15
11 Comments

Okay, maybe not quite “new” factions – but factions for nations and navies in Darkstar that haven’t got a lot of focus so far in these posts.

Entries include the Basra class destroyer of the Arab League, and the Gujarat class destroyer for the Indian Republic.

 

New Factions!
New Factions!

Darkstar Promo Video!

Tutoring 6
Skill 15
Idea 15
12 Comments

Okay, I don’t pretend to be Steven Spielberg … much less a Justin, Lance, or Lloyd … but here is my attempt at a PROMO VIDEO for Darkstar the Wargame!

I should include the source for this music:

Two Steps from Hell, an L.A. based production company that started out creating  music not so much for movies, but movie trailers.  I can almost guarantee that everyone on Beasts of War has heard TSFH music at least once, be it in a movie trailer, TV promo, internet ad, or some such.

For my money they also make the best wargaming music ever.

I have linked their YouTube channel below, as well as the specific track used in this slideshow (Red Omen, from their Halloween).  After finding them on YouTube I purchased just about all their albums on iTunes, no matter what your gaming genre … they’ve got something you might like!

YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3swwxiALG5c0Tvom83tPGg

Red Omen (Halloween album):

 

Darkstar Live Blog !! P3

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 12
14 Comments

Update – 23:45

GMT Okay, the battle is finally over!

First up, my last Russian heavy cruiser is indeed crippled by that torpedo spreads!

Darkstar Live Blog !! P3

The Kraken and Xu Shan manage to take out the destroyer Oder and finally the pocket battleship Von der Tann.  Return fire forces the Xu Shan to break off … leaving the only Duchess’ Alliance warship still operational on the field is the HMS Kraken … so 182 points for the Duchess’ Alliance … a minor victory from this 635 point battle.

Darkstar Live Blog !! P3

Darkstar Live Blog !! P2

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 12
4 Comments

Entry – 21:10 GMT

The battle heats up!  As the heavily damaged Prussian electronic warfare escort frigate KMS Nordwind flees … the way is open for Russian, Chinese, and British torpedoes!  The two Prussian light cruisers move in, hoping to cut broadsides across the stern of the Russian Narva that lost initiative.  But now the Petrograd cuts across the stern POINT BLANK of the two German cruisers, and the battleship Von der Tann cuts across her stern!  Chinese cruisers and destroyers cut across the battleship’s stern!  Dozens of torpedoes sail in!

Message from the Petrograd

WITNESS ME !!!!

Darkstar Live Blog !! P2
Darkstar Live Blog !! P2
Darkstar Live Blog !! P2

AUGHHH! 21:25 GMT … first torpedoes are impacting! We’ve shot down all Prussian torpedoes coming at us! It’s been a holocaust of Prussian scouts!

WHAT A DAY!
WHAT A LOVELY DAY!

Update: 23:03 GMT –
Long fire phase plus a slight break for dinner –

The fire phase from hell is over!

First, the Petrograd manaced to cripple both the Gustow and the Rossbach, but was of course blown inside out by the huge guns of the Von der Tann (primary guns only).  Secondary guns crippled the Chinese destroyer Hohhot.  The Hohhot and the Xu Shan crossed the Von der Tann’s sterns for point-blank broadsides that did an incredible amount of damage against the pocket battleship’s stern and DAMNED NEAR took her out …  but she’s still clinging to life at the moment.

This thing could still go either way!  I’m pretty sure that Prussian pocket battleship is going down this next turn, but she’s taking out multiple ships per turn, and big ships too … Most of the allied hopes are now in the HMS Kraken … as the Russian CPK Narva is badly damaged in the stern and has lost her aft shielding as well.

 

Darkstar Live Blog !! P2

Update:  23:10 GMT –

Torpedoes coming in for the round of combat.  My poor Russian heavy cruiser rolled very badly on her point-defense roll here, and is rolling on a penalty because of sensor damage sustained last turned.  I only shot down one of these torpedoes, and the other three pretty much automatically hit because this cruiser also lost her aft shielding (last broadside volley from the Prussian cruisers Gustow and Rossbach).  These detonated in the engines, and have probably knocked out this Russian heavy cruiser as well.

Darkstar Live Blog !! P2

Update:  23:15

Torpedo and missile spreads from Chinese, Russian, and British cruisers that has probably crippled the Von der Tann finally.

Darkstar Live Blog !! P2

Darkstar Live Blog !!

Tutoring 9
Skill 12
Idea 13
4 Comments

Hey, we’re finally getting ready for 640-point megagame in Darkstar, where the new Prussian pocket-battleshaip Von der Tann is getting sent out on her maiden voyage!  Between turns I may start posting pictures and mini-bat-reps … almost like a Darkstar Live Blog!

A Prussian battlefleet faces off against a “Duchess Annabel’s” coalition of Chinese, Russian, and British warships!  No carriers in this one, just a slugging  match of heavy cruisers light cruisers, destroyers, and one pocket battleship!

Who do you think will win?!?!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Entry – 20:09 GMT

PRUSSIAN FORCE:
KMS Von der Tann (pocket battleship)
KMS Güstow (light cruiser)
KMS Rossbach (light cruiser)
KMS Oder (destroyer)
KMS Nordwind (EW escort frigate)

ALLIED FORCE:
HMS Kraken (heavy cruiser)
CPK Petrograd (heavy cruiser)
CPK Narva (heavy cruiser)
PLN Xu Shan (light cruiser)
PLN Hohhot (destroyer)
CPK K-98 (torpedo corvette

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Entry – 20:18 GMT:

First weapons fired at 2880 kilometers!

Darkstar Live Blog !!
Darkstar Live Blog !!

Entry – 20:30 GMT

First fire!  K-98 corvette is horribly damaged, along with Prussian frigate Nordwind, heavy cruiser Petrograd (relatively light damage).   UPDATE:  K-98 corvette is crippled and knocked out of the battle in the opening volley!  Nordwind rolled a 38% … and a 30 or below would have forced her to break off!  so she BARELY stayed in!

Darkstar Live Blog !!
Darkstar Live Blog !!

Entry 20:45

Yes, Alex and his might battleship and light cruiser task force decided to put a significant amount of firepower on a pitiful little corvette!

Come on, man!  PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE! 😀 😀

Darkstar Live Blog !!

Deep Space Engagement P1

Tutoring 7
Skill 10
Idea 11
8 Comments

Screening Engagement in Helioshock Boundary
Onomoken Star System (HD 172051)
12 January 2519

SITUATION:  Having been handed a series of rough defeats in the Cervantes star system (Mu Ara), the Iron Wolves are finally falling back to surrounding friendly systems to regroup and lay new plans.  One such haven is the nearby Japanese star system of Onomoken (“Lord’s Sword” – HD 172051), a yellow main sequence star with no less than six terrestrial planets rich in ores and metals, and three gas giants with heavily-colonized and industrialized moons.  At just 11.5 light-years away from the recently-embattled Cervantes system, it lies within just two weeks’ striking distance of most naval task forces in Cervantes, making it a prime target for resurgent Annabel’s Alliance striking out from these Imperial Russian holdings.

In fact, British, Panasian, and Russian naval commanders have already decided on a different course of action.  With the Franz Josef “Kruezergeschwader” (cruiser squadron) so more or less gutted and Prussian naval forces so badly damaged throughout the Libra-Sagittarius SCS (strategic command sector), it is hoped that the direct path to the Eisenwolf Colonies at Gliese 570 lies more or less open – or at least lightly defended.  Just maybe, Annabel’s Alliance can seize the moment to smash the weakened Prussians out of the Duchess’ War.

To prevent other nations of the Iron Wolf coalition from reinforcing these Prussian colonies, misdirection operations are launched to keep Japanese, New Roman, and Black Dragon battlegroups and task forces pinned down in other areas.  The first of these is intended to reinforce the impression that the Annabel Alliance is indeed making a push in the opposite direction from Cervantes, toward the nearby Japanese colonies of Onomoken.

Deep Space Engagement P1

The mission is given to Captain Pyotr Myshaga and the Lazarev task force.  Although not nearly at full strength after the savage battles in Cervantes, Myshaga’s force is nevertheless deemed fit to at least launch a diversionary raid into Onomoken’s outermost reaches.  After all, the Lazarev and her escorts are hardly invading the system, simply penetrating its outlying regions and engaging the first small force it runs across.

Myshaga and his Russians, however, get a little more than they bargained for as they complete their first high-speed Darkstar wave toward the Onomoken system.  Typically, invading naval formations first make such a fast “approach wave,” usually at ninth- or tenth-magnitude, to cover most of the interstellar distance to a target.  Dropping out of their Darkstar wave just outside the system, they then take new sensor readings and astronavigational fixes (aligning themselves to the relative galactic motions of the target star system, which of course are usually radically different from the star system from which they sortied), and finally set a much slower, more accurate, and stealthy Darkstar course to actually penetrate the enemy star system.

While making preparations for this second jump, however, the Lazarev task force finds it is being approached by a New Roman cruiser-destroyer battlegroup, built around the Foch-Hispania class light cruiser Leclerc.  Myshaga decides this will be the “small force” he will engage to fulfill his mission.  There are no moons or planets nearby, this battle will take place in the whisper-thin electromagnetic bands of the Onomoken star systems helioshock boundary, where the star’s solar wind is piled up ever so faintly against similar solar wind and particles of the interstellar medium.  Put more simply, it’s at the very edge of interstellar space, some 20,000 AU (almost one-third of a light-year) out from the Onomoken star.

The French and Russian battlegroups make their initial approaches.  Note the colored bands on the map.  These are The French and Russian battlegroups make their initial approaches. Note the colored bands on the map. These are "density waves" in the vast ocean of ionized solar wind particles that permeate this whole area of space, the "helioshock boundary" where the solar wind of the nearby Onomoken star can no longer push against the interstellar medium and thus "piles up" in rippled waves just dense enough to partially interfere with a ship's targeting sensors. In game terms, each colored hex that a warship's intended line of sight / line of fire must enter adds +1 to the target difficulty. Each hex is 180 kilometers across.
The ships continue to close.  Here they are are about 3600 kilometers apart (2230+ miles), or roughly the distance between London and Jerusalem.  All of Europe and part of the Middle East would easily fit between these two fleets.The ships continue to close. Here they are are about 3600 kilometers apart (2230+ miles), or roughly the distance between London and Jerusalem. All of Europe and part of the Middle East would easily fit between these two fleets.

REPORT:  What was supposed to be a raid quickly turns into more of a pitched battle, as the Leclerc battlegroup and  Lazarev task force make their initial approaches.

With much longer-ranged weapons, more gunnery, and more accurate sensors, the French of the Leclerc, Calais, and Corsica opt to keep the range open as long as they can, holding back and drilling the Russian corvettes with long-ranged laser fire to lighten the weight of the expected Russian torpedo spreads.  The Russians, for their part, and to close the distance as quickly as possible, but are also using the vast, ionized bands of charged particles drifting throughout this helioshock boundary as “cover,” hoping they will take the edge off superior New Roman electronics.

The fleets continue to close, the French (left) trying to keep the range long where their superior targeting electronics will give them an edge ... the Russians (right) trying to use ionized density waves as a kind of The fleets continue to close, the French (left) trying to keep the range long where their superior targeting electronics will give them an edge ... the Russians (right) trying to use ionized density waves as a kind of "cover."

At first, the tactics of both sides seem to be working reasonably well.  As the Russians hoped, the opening French volley missed at a range of 3600 kilometers, partly due to the EM disruption of the helioshock ion bands.  But as the Russians close, a second French volley engages the torpedo corvette K-121 at 2,200 kilometers, not quite crippling her but forcing her captain to break off the action.

The Russians make the mistake of splitting their torpedo wave between the French flagship (NRS Leclerc - CL3) and one of her escorting destroyers (NRS Calais - DD2)The Russians make the mistake of splitting their torpedo wave between the French flagship (NRS Leclerc - CL3) and one of her escorting destroyers (NRS Calais - DD2)

For the French, however, things become unstuck from there.  The Russian return volley, even at this relatively extended range, is devastating.  The Lazarev and Syekyra have upgraded their targeting systems, and even shooting through a dense “pressure wave” of ionized solar wind, enough hits are scored on the starboard bow of the fragile destroyer Corsica to force her to break off.  The damage isn’t actually that bad, but the hits just happen to set up a cascade failure through Corsica’s navigation computers and life support systems.  Then again, perhaps no one is particularly eager to get in a really bloody fight this far out from any bases, colonies, or potential rescue.

The Russians are losing patience, finally setting a direct course for the French, still slinging out full torpedo spreads although from here they can only engage with gun frontal batteries, while the French are The Russians are losing patience, finally setting a direct course for the French, still slinging out full torpedo spreads although from here they can only engage with gun frontal batteries, while the French are "crossing their T."

Deep Space Engagement P2

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 9
No Comments

Screening Engagement in Helioshock Boundary
Onomoken Star System (HD 172051)
12 January 2519

The Russians press their advantage, and perhaps get a little too confident, splitting their torpedo spread between both the cruiser Leclerc and destroyer Calais, clearly hoping to wrap up this little raid straight away.  The move doesn’t work, and although both remaining French ships are heavily damaged, they remain operational.  Their return volley, meanwhile, positively mauls the corvettes K-98 and K-109, leaving both burning cripples, adrift in space and already screaming for rescue.

The Russians take their first real losses.  One of their small torpedo corvettes has already been forced to break off, now two more are outright crippled by powerful French laser fire.  However, French torpedo spreads are easily shot down by Russian mass driver point-defense guns, in fact the Russians have enough point defense guns to also shoot down ALL SIX of the French scouts.The Russians take their first real losses. One of their small torpedo corvettes has already been forced to break off, now two more are outright crippled by powerful French laser fire. However, French torpedo spreads are easily shot down by Russian mass driver point-defense guns, in fact the Russians have enough point defense guns to also shoot down ALL SIX of the French scouts.

With all three of their torpedo corvettes now removed from the fight, the Russians will have to rely much more on raw gunnery to defeat the weakened French.  But their guns for the moment aren’t doing very well at all, despite the shorter range.  The French commander (Captain Raphael deChalemonde) now has his ships in a solar wind pressure wave, using it as a disruptive screen against Russian targeting while the Russians are barreling at him more or less in the “open.”

Myshaga, however, now has the taste of blood in his teeth.  Shaking off his losses, he continues to press the French, his next volley finally crippling the badly-damaged destroyer Corsica.  But the Corsica has already released her own broadside of 8-megakelvin lasers at the Syekyra, followed up by a volley of pinpoint accurate rail guns from the Leclerc and especially her incredibly powerful (and long-ranged) 12-megakelvin lasers.  These hits slash right across Syekyra’s engines, exposed as Myshaga turned his ships to broadside the French.  The Syekyra lies crippled right along with the Corsica, both destroyers tumbling through deep space.

The French destroyer Corsica is crippled.The French destroyer Corsica is crippled.
But the Corsica and the light cruiser Leclerc likewise take down the Russian destroyer Syekyra.But the Corsica and the light cruiser Leclerc likewise take down the Russian destroyer Syekyra.

The battle has now come down to the two flagships, Lazarev and Leclerc.  Myshaga and the Lazarev have a clear advantage, however, as the Leclerc has already been hit astern by five torpedoes and has thus lost two complete engines, along with maneuvering thrusters and perhaps most distressingly, sensors suites that feed telemetry data into her advanced targeting system.  Largely hobbled and half-blind, the Leclerc really has no chance against the undamaged Lazarev, yet for an incredible ten minutes, Leclerc keep hope alive through some great maneuvering and lucky breaks.  The Lazarev just can’t finish her off, all the while taking a steady stream of damage from Leclerc’s rail guns and especially her powerful 12-megakelvin lasers.  The Leclerc can’t win, but if she can just survive, she can force a draw … or perhaps force the Lazarev to break off with a lucky hit.

Just such a miracle almost happens when the Lazarev’s bridge is hit by one of Leclerc’s penetrating high-powered lasers.  Myshaga himself is wounded in the resultant explosions, but the Lazarev’s bridge remains operational and Myshaga retains command.

Each class of weapon not only does different amounts of damage at different ranges, but also different Each class of weapon not only does different amounts of damage at different ranges, but also different "profiles" or shapes. Explosive weapons like rail guns and torpedoes can "cavitate" inside the target, as we see here. Successive 7-gigawatt rail gun hits from the Leclerc against the Lazarev have struck her port quarter too far forward to hit any engines or reactors, but note how the shells explode outward a little as well as deeper into the ship. This "sideways" cavitation damage causes one of the Lazarev's bridge boxes to be hit. ALL bridge boxes hit means the ship is immediately crippled and out of the game. However, even partial bridge boxes hit have bad consequences. Also, the boxes shaded in gray are considered "core" compartments - with four of these hit the Lazarev have a 60% chance of being forced to break off the action (15% per core box for light cruisers) - but note the 67 rolled ... she BARELY remains in the fight. With partial bridge damage, though, the captain might also be killed or wounded ... it's a 1-7 for safety on a d10. Note the 10 rolled ... the captain is hit! He gets a re-roll if he wants, however (note the "Commander's Luck" merit purchased at upper left). If Myshaga uses this re-roll here, however, he can't use it later in the game ...

The end comes with abrupt brutality.  With half her engines and maneuvering thrusters gone, Leclerc can only outmaneuver the Lazarev for so long.  Finally Lazarev cuts behind her for a point-blank broadside across her stern at less than 150 kilometers.  Already savaged by an earlier Russian torpedo spread, the Leclerc’s engines and reactors are positively shredded by close-range Russian plasma and EPC fire.  Beyond crippled, the Leclerc ejects both her reactors with just seconds to spare, it’s really a miracle she doesn’t explode.

Time runs out at last for the Leclerc.  Despite some big disadvantages and a very unlucky start of the game, she ALMOST pulled off a draw here.  When the Lazarev finally gets a broadside behind her, however, as we see here ... Leclerc is doomed.Time runs out at last for the Leclerc. Despite some big disadvantages and a very unlucky start of the game, she ALMOST pulled off a draw here. When the Lazarev finally gets a broadside behind her, however, as we see here ... Leclerc is doomed.
The savagery of close-range Russian firepower is made evident here.  With her stern already badly damaged by previous torpedo hits, Leclerc's stern is positively blown inside out by Lazarev's powerful plasma projectors and EPC emitters.  Damage has tunneled comepletely through the ship to set off secondary explosions as far forward as the bridge and forward magazines.  The Leclerc is more than crippled, she really should explode here.  Light cruisers start off with a The savagery of close-range Russian firepower is made evident here. With her stern already badly damaged by previous torpedo hits, Leclerc's stern is positively blown inside out by Lazarev's powerful plasma projectors and EPC emitters. Damage has tunneled comepletely through the ship to set off secondary explosions as far forward as the bridge and forward magazines. The Leclerc is more than crippled, she really should explode here. Light cruisers start off with a "cripple number" of 10+ on a d6, this target is reduced by 1 for each critical box (red) hit. Leclerc has lost 13 critical boxes. So the Lazarev has to now roll a -3 (10-13) on a d6 ... so Leclerc is obviously automatically crippled. Worse, because that target number is now actually NEGATIVE, Leclerc is in very real danger of exploding. For light cruisers it's 25% for each point that she's in the negative, which is as we've seen is -3. So she has a 75% chance of exploding. Note the 95 rolled on percentile dice, however ... against the odds Leclerc has survived! She's crippled, of course, her captain may be killed or wounded, and she'll spend 90 days in dry dock (60 internal component boxes hit, +50% for being crippled) - and I don't even want to imagine the casualties among her crew of 490 officers and men ...

The “skirmish” is over.  Although heavily damaged, including a bridge hit that has wounded her captain, the  Russian light cruiser Lazarev remains operational.  Even considering the rescue and recovery operations that will keep her occupied for the time being, she now represents a major threat to the Japanese holdings in the Onomoken star system.  In fact, major Japanese vessels (including in all probability the Konoya carrier strike group) will not be available to help defend the Eisenwolf Colonies against the larger invasion of Annabel Alliance warships already en route.  Although only a diversion, only a “sideshow,” the fact remains that this skirmish in the Onomoken helioshock boundary represents another massive come-back for the Russian Navy in Duchess Annabel’s War, and more bad news for the faltering Iron Wolf Coalition.

SCORING:  The Russians have the light cruiser Lazarev remaining and two scouts (116 points).  With the overall battle only being 208 points in size, this constitutes a MAJOR VICTORY, although only in a small battle.

Designing "German" Pocket Battleship P3

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
Idea 11
4 Comments

KMS Von der Tann (KS-1208)
Scharnhorst-class pocket battleship
Imperial Prussian Navy - Psi Serpentis and Duchess Annabel’s War
Design and Roll-Out

The actual gameplay warships record sheet for the Scharnhorst-class pocket battleship in snow complete.  Hard copies are printed up and this ship is ready for her “maiden voyage” playtest hopefully this weekend.  😀

Meanwhile, smaller battles between French task forces of the New Roman Alliance and the Black Dragons of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State are hopefully on the cards for tonight, tomorrow, or perhaps Saturday.

Again,  for best results, select the image, then open the image in new tab for full resolution.

Warship record sheet for the Scharnhorst class pocket battleship.  It lists the weapons mounts, maps out the components that can be damage, tracks velocity and initiative, helps players with the costs for facing turns at different velocities, shows shields and armor, and lays out the locations and firing arcs of all the ship's weapons.  Modifiers that can accrue in combat are also tracked here.  These are usually slipped into plastic document protectors and written on with dry erase markers for greatest ease of repeated play. Warship record sheet for the Scharnhorst class pocket battleship. It lists the weapons mounts, maps out the components that can be damage, tracks velocity and initiative, helps players with the costs for facing turns at different velocities, shows shields and armor, and lays out the locations and firing arcs of all the ship's weapons. Modifiers that can accrue in combat are also tracked here. These are usually slipped into plastic document protectors and written on with dry erase markers for greatest ease of repeated play.

Designing "German" Pocket Battleship P2

Tutoring 8
Skill 12
Idea 12
6 Comments

KMS Von der Tann (KS-1208)
Scharnhorst-class pocket battleship
Imperial Prussian Navy - Psi Serpentis and Duchess Annabel’s War
Design and Roll-Out

Okay, now it’s time to start drawing this baby out (PS14, after concept sketches the old fashioned way just to hammer out ideas).

First, we have the 12-gigawatt rail gun turrets.  As naval historians may have guessed, the Scharnhorst’s three triple turrets are inspired by the 11-inch triple turrets of the historical Scharnhorst in WW2.

Then, the smaller 6-gigawatt rail guns, and the 35mm paint defense arrays.

 

Designing
Designing

Okay, no more teasing.  Here is the full ship layout.  Again, she looks huge, not quote three-quarters length of an Imperial II class star destroyer in Star Wars.  But in Darkstar, she is a lightweight for a battleship.  They come much, much bigger than this.  The Scharnhorst class is built for speed, the classic “battlecruiser” that can outrun whatever she can’t outshoot.

FOR BEST RESULTS – CLICK ON IMAGE AND WHEN IT OPENS, OPEN IMAGE IN NEW TAB for best resolution.

Designing

A few design features, some “military,” some “game required,” others purely for aesthetics.

First we have the prow.  As you may have seen from other older drawings in this thread, our Prussian ships have that classic WW1-inspired “Kaiser Prow” with the forward-swept bow.  Here, the Scharnhorst has a much more sleek version, but the design concept and influence is still there.  Also note where I’ve tried to give the mass driver batteries the widest possible arcs … fore and aft, port and starboard, ventral and dorsal.  Space combat is in three dimensions, after all.

Next is the stern, where we see her two port engines, more mass driver protection (more on the aft quarters, most enemy commanders like to aim torpedoes at the stern of a ship to get at reactors and engines) , along with maneuvering thrusters to provide lateral movement and turning ability.

Note that in Darkstar, the ion thrust of these engines is managed not through “pipes and nozzles,” but through superconducting containment field magnets.  This allows the thrust to be vented with equally forwards or backwards, so ships can decelerate as easily as they can accelerate (helps with game design/ mechanics when the players apply thrust points in the movement phase).

The round objects you see are the shield generators.  There are six locations for these on most ships, bow, stern, port bow, starboard bow, port quarter, starboard quarter.

The large fin you see (and elsewhere on the ship) are gravity rudders.  By applying a slight bend to the  curved space-time that allows these ships to have artificial gravity, gravitic shielding, and even their limited FTL travel, they can also assist with maneuvering by bending the space they’re actually travelling through, especially important since these ships usually fight battles at 15-30 kps and cruise at 30-100 kps.

Also, this keeps the ships moving and turning in a predominantly “forward” direction, maintaining a bit of a “space opera” feel rather than a strict Newtonian movement system where ships could theoretically move sideways as easily as any other direction.

 

Designing
Designing

Top view of the primary forward gun deck, with “Anton” 12GW turret and superfiring 6GW secondary battery turret.  Again, some 40% of the ship’s weapons are mounted on the ventral “underside” of the ship as well, so the ship can semi-plausibly fight in a 3D combat environment.

Note the mass drivers are on large pylons (those are probably about the size of a five-story building) so the guns have the best possible field of fire against enemy fighters, bombers, missiles, or torpedoes no matter which direction from which they might be approaching.

More maneuvering thrusters, more shield projectors (port and starboard bow mountings).

 

Designing

The only thing left now is to see how well this ship does in combat!  😀

Designing "German" Pocket Battleship

Tutoring 11
Skill 11
Idea 13
2 Comments

KMS Von der Tann (KS-1208)
Scharnhorst-class pocket battleship
Imperial Prussian Navy - Psi Serpentis and Duchess Annabel’s War
Design and Roll-Out

So as some of you who are following this project may know, my friend @aras (Alex) had something of a rough afternoon at our last big session of Darkstar.  In a furious battle against my Russians and my girlfriend @gladesrunner (Jenn) Chinese and British, Alex lost two of his very best ships in near-simultaneous explosions.  Of course losing battles is half the game, but normally you don’t lose a ship outright (starships are often “crippled” and can then eventually be repaired) – much less two.

Fortunately, two things mitigated the sting of this outcome.  One, both his captains made their escape and survival rolls, so although the ships are gone, the commanders can continue their careers.  Two, his main commander (formerly of the Prussian Leopold class heavy cruiser Franz Josef) has accrued just enough campaign points to get himself promoted into a new ship anyway.

He’s decided to take the plunge, and get his commander the very first “player-character” earned battleship in the history of Darkstar.

Of course, as the game designer and the guy running this campaign (Duchess Annabel’s War), it’s up to me to get his new class of ship ready for play.  I’ve had this Prussian “pocket battleship” class ready to go for some time now, but I’ve never really playtested it before, and some of the master root math in the Excel spreadsheets that drive starships construction (and calculate scenario point cost) has changed in the years since I first designed this class, so I wanted to tweak this design, dust it off, and get it ready to go.

DESIGN CONCEPT:

The Scharnhorst class is the product of a recent effort within the Imperial Prussian Kriegsmarine to redress its overabundance on super-heavy, super-gunned, and very slow “dreadnought” style warships.  Quite the opposite, the Scharnhorsts are fast, agile raiders, able to easily keep pace with virtually any known heavy cruiser and even older light cruisers.  Its three triple-turreted Henschel-Krupp EGK-5100 12-gigawatt rail cannons give it an awesome punch for a ship its size, their threat further accented by the Atlas Elektronik EG-3000 targeting and sensor array.  While the Scharnhorst’s 6 gigawatt rail gun secondary armament is curiously old, these guns are still more than suitable to finish off crippled freighters or tankers.

Essentially, the Scharnhorst was envisioned as a ship that could outrun anything it could not outfight.  Accordingly, the captain of a Scharnhorst would be very well advised not to engage in pitched battle with a “true” battleship.  At just 349,000 tons, Scharnhorsts are outweighed by at least 35% by even “light” battleships like American Colorado class or the British Repulse class battle cruiser.  Note the scout ships carried to find enemy convoys, and the extended storage to support long raiding cruises and marines for boarding actions.  All the same, the Scharnhorst’s protection is relatively light for a battleship.  Indeed, along its aft sections, the ECM and gravitic shielding are weaker even than those of some light cruisers.

SHIPS IN CLASS:

KS-1201 — KMS Scharnhorst — 2502, New Wilhelmshaven, 61 Cygni
KS-1202 — KMS Gneisenau  —  2505, Moltke Orbital Staryards, Earth
KS-1203 — KMS Graf Spee  —  2506, Kiel Staryards, Vega Epsilon
KS-1204 — KMS Stauffenberg  —  2508, New Wilhelmshaven, 61 Cygni
KS-1205 — KMS Graf Zeppelin  —  2510, Moltke Orbital Staryards, Earth
KS-1206 — KMS Seydlitz  —  2512, Kiel Staryards, Vega Epsilon
KS-1207 — KMS Preussen  —  2514, New Wilhelmshaven, 61 Cygni
KS-1208 — KMS Von der Tann  —  2516, Moltke Orbital Staryards, Earth

So first thing to brush up on is the ship hull and superstructure and engines.  Mass, power, and crew are standard for the “battleship” warship type, and basically gets the design on the “battleship” damage and component chart (which is huge).

Two changes – the engines are now “next gen” which gives a 4% boost in available power (10400 up from 10000).  Trust me, the way these spreadsheets work out this is a massive boost – as it should be since it adds 40 points to the ship’s point cost (the full price for a standard destroyer).

The other change is less fortunate – the armor ratings.  In previous editions in the game, “partial armor” was possible (the game was much more granular to the point of unplayability).  The Scharnhorst class had partial armor which save tens of thousands of tons of weight which allowed her to pack a huge punch and still be freakishly fast (at least for a battleship).

This design feature is no longer allowed, so I had to bump up the Scharnhost to full armor rating, which has admittedly slowed her waaaay down.

Designing

ECM and gravitic shielding are pretty standard.  A rating of “4” is pretty usual for a warship, although a little weak for a battleship.  Still, this ECM and shielding suite draws 3600 total power, that’s almost the total power output of a complete destroyer.

Designing

Okay, now it’s time for some fun stuff … and some very hard choices.  I’m talking about the weapons load out, where that armor adjustment forced to me to make some very tough subtractions here.  I was hoping the “next gen” engineering upgrade mentioned above would have allowed me to kick these 12-GW rail guns up to 13-GW, but there’s no way in hell that’s happening.  In fact, I had to also remove her two triple-bank of Type IV “Sternjaeger” (Star Hunter) torpedo tubes.

Furthermore, I had to reduce the the mass driver loud-out from 48 total guns to 42 (these are small, 35mm point-defense guns to shoot down enemy fighters, bombers, missiles, torpedoes and the like.

These sacrifices, however, not only allowed me to keep the ship “legal” in the new system, but also add a nice back-up array of 6-GW rail guns for secondary armament, nice for finishing off crippled British freighters and the like.  😀

If there are any data geeks out there, the way these work is in the Type column, data validation drop-downs allow you to select weapons types from a whole menu of over 200 weapons types and calibers from a master root sheet tucked in the back of the workbook.  This way you don’t have to type the name of the weapons.

This is important because the spelling and format has to be exactly right, since it reads off a VLOOKUP and IF/AND function coming off that same root sheet for mass, power, and crew requirements.  These are automatically multiplied out by the number of weapons you select in the Guns column (note each of these turrets have three guns, etc.). which are also pulled off data validation drop-downs.

Long story short, these sheets do all the arithmetic for you.

Designing

Secondary systems.  We like scouts, cutters, yachts, and launches so these ships can do business like real warships, there are no “transporters” in this universe and these are the kind of small craft these ships carried in “blue water” navies.

Obviously, on a ship like the Japanese Akagi class, American Lexington class, and British Ark Royal class supercarriers – or Russian Zhukov class planetary assault ships, this part of the ship design sheet gets a lot more complex.

Perhaps most important, however, is the “BB Fifth Gen Sensors (+1)” – note that is a very expensive system.  It gives ALL weapons for this ship a +1 to hit, which is actually pretty serious.  Given that with many engagement ranges, the BTH is maybe 8 on a d10, and you subtract enemy ECM / Gravitic Shielding from that for your final number to hit (usually a 4 or 5), this leaves you with a 3 or 4 on a d10 to hit with each weapon.  If you get a +1 on that, you’re getting an effective 25%-33% bonus to hit with EVERY gun on your ship, which for the Scharnhorst class is pretty important.

These kinds of bonus especially help with long-range shooting, which ships like the Scharnhorst class really prefer, engaging with those long-reaching 12-GW rail guns at 3500+ km, pelting down enemy armor before they even have a chance to respond.

Designing

Odd and ends.  Marines (boarding can be very much a thing in this game), passengers, cargo, etc.

Finally at the bottom we have the freakishly expensive 10th-magnitude Darkstar wave for the ship’s FTL.  Usually battleships have a 9th-magnitude Darkstar wave for FTL, because they get geometrically more expensive in weight and especially power consumption as the class gets bigger and bigger (and battleships are of course so very big).

But this helps keep the Scharnhost as a “raider” – able to travel at much faster FTL speeds than any other battleship class on record (she pushes x300 c, most battleships only do x160 c).  So if enemy scouts, corvettes, or pickets detect her in a certain star system, the potential “threat bubble” she poses to enemy fleets, commerce, shipping lanes, and orbital installations is much, much wider.

Finally we get to the “proof in the pudding,” – the THRUST of the ship.  This drives how the ship moves on the table top, how she maneuvers, acellerates, decelerates, turns, rolls initiative, everything.

It’s the the total mass of the ship, divided by the remaining available power.  This comes out to a ratio, which gets rounded to the nearest whole number.  Clearly we’re aiming for a 3.5 here, so we wind up with a thrust of 4.

For context, this is ridiculously fast for a battleship.  This is a “ninja battleship” – which is what we were aiming for in the ship design concept.  Most battleships have a 2.  American “Pacific Pattern” fast battleships have a 3, as do British Repulse class battlecruisers.  This baby has a 4, allowing her to outmaneuver and outrun some heavy cruisers.

And with the “SLD engineering / thrust” upgrade that Alex has with his commander (purchased with xp-style “campaign points) this baby will have a thrust of FIVE.  That’s absolutely nuts for a warship of this class.  She’ll be outrunning heavy cruisers, and keeping up with light cruisers, and with good initiative rolls, even keeping pace with some destroyers.

But again, she’s also a lightweight.  Armor is only standard, shielding is light, and those guns, while scary for a heavy cruiser, are actually quite puny for a battleship.

 

Designing

Cruiser Battle in Gas Giant Atmosphere P2

Tutoring 6
Skill 9
Idea 11
2 Comments

Cruiser Clash in Gas Giant Atmosphere
Chernyeva Gas Giant, Cervantes Star System (Mu Ara)
Duchess Annabel's War - December 28, 2518

Still decelerating, the Annabel’s Alliance ships make their dive down into the atmosphere only when they’ve closed the range to less to 1,500 kilometers.  The Requiem leads the charge, peeling off and diving her sleek makes a dive into the lightning and winds of Chernyeva.  The Zhang Jia reacts, s-turning up and behind the Requiem’s stern, even if this allows the whole Chinese battlegroup (light missile cruiser Xu Shan, destroyers Hohot and Shantao) to cut behind the Zhang Jia in turn.  The hatred between these Chinese and the Black Dragons is beyond murderous, remember that it was against the Russians and Chinese that the Black Dragons originally revolted when the Black Dragon War first started way back in 2512.  That war, now entering its seventh year, has not been a pretty one.

Yet the Russians themselves take a more measured approach.  The light cruiser Lazarev and corvette K-98 barely dip into the Chernyeva atmosphere, presenting a roadside to the Prussians and targeting the EW / escort frigate Nordwind.

The British and Panasians plunge into the Chernyeva atmosphere, anxious to close the range before superior Prussian long rage gunnery takes too steep of a toll.  The Russians, meanwhile, are a little cagey, and keep their distance at a shallower depthThe British and Panasians plunge into the Chernyeva atmosphere, anxious to close the range before superior Prussian long rage gunnery takes too steep of a toll. The Russians, meanwhile, are a little cagey, and keep their distance at a shallower depth

The opening exchange of fire is intense.  The torpedo spread of the Xu Shan, one of the new line “Greater Xhia” class of light missile cruisers, slams into the stern of the Kesseldorf, who’s mass drivers have been mostly been engaged against the torpedoes fired from the K-98.

Gunfire from the Lazarev, with enhanced targeting on her powerful plasma projectors and EPCs (electron particle cannons) tear apart the bridge of the Nordwind and singlehanded put her out of the battle.  An instant later, however, the pin-point gunnery of the Kesseldorf (Commander Valentin Goeritz) likewise drills 8-gigawatt rail guns into the bridge and CIC systems of the Lazarev, leaving her blinded and adrift as well.

Seconds after that, the Requiem’s advanced lasers and light rail cannon slam into the Kesseldorf’s port quarter, along with the aforementioned torpedoes from the Lazarev, K-98Xu Shan, and two Panasian destroyers.  Not many of these relatively low-tech warheads hit, but with so many fired, plus the razor-accurate gunfire of the Requiem, and forward guns of the Xu Shan, hit the Kesseldorf so hard that she actually explodes, killing 198 of her crew, the baslt wave doing tremendous damage to the Franz Jospef’s fo’c’sle and starboard bow.  At the same time, however, the point-blank broadside of the Black Dragon killer Zhang Jia, one of the deadliest ships in Known Space, tears apart the stern of the Requiem, leaving her spinning through the Chernyeva atmosphere … only the gravity acceleration provided by the planet will keep her moving fast enough to not spiral down into the crushing heat, pressure, and gravity of the gas giant’s lower atmosphere.

Yet even this isn’t all … since the broadsides of the destroyers Hohhot and Shantao  likewise tear open the Zhang Jia’s and reduce her to little more than a man-made rocket hurtling straight up out of the Chernyeva atmosphere.  Even so, the mass torpedo strike of the Zhang Jia and the Nordwind, together with the aft guns of the Kesseldorf, is also enough to, in the same instant, cripple the destroyers Hohhot and Shantao.

The results of the first withering exchange of fire.The results of the first withering exchange of fire.

Just that fast, there are only three ships left, the huge heavy cruiser Franz Josef, the damaged light cruiser Shantao, and the tiny Russian corvette K-98.

Prussian heavy cruiser Franz Josef (left) against the Chinese light missile cruiser Xu Shan and Russian torpedo corvette K-98.  The Franz Josef has a huge advantage in weight and gunnery, but the Chinese / Russian ships are so much more maneuverable, and pack powerful torpedoes.Prussian heavy cruiser Franz Josef (left) against the Chinese light missile cruiser Xu Shan and Russian torpedo corvette K-98. The Franz Josef has a huge advantage in weight and gunnery, but the Chinese / Russian ships are so much more maneuverable, and pack powerful torpedoes.

The battle now comes down to rail guns vs. torpedoes, size and bulk and hitting power vs. speed and maneuver.  The Xu Shan is fast even for a light cruiser, while the corvette K-98 can outrun some aerospace craft and possibly even torpedoes.  But neither can outgun a rail gun bolt.  Time and again, they manage to stay behind the Franz Josef as Captain Gold takes her up and out of the Chernyeva atmosphere, pinging away with their much smaller guns, hoping to stay out of Franz Josef’s full broadside just long enough for their torpedoes to score a killing blow.  The Franz Josef has very powerful gravitic shielding over her stern, however, not to mention aft gun batteries that are quickly smashing the Xu Shan’s forward sections into mangled, superheated slag.  The Panasians and Russians are also quickly running out of torpedoes …

The Xu Shan has taken enough damage to core areas where she MAY have to break off the engagement.  This is a % roll, depending on the type of ship and how many The Xu Shan has taken enough damage to core areas where she MAY have to break off the engagement. This is a % roll, depending on the type of ship and how many "core boxes" of damage have been knocked out. With three such core boxes hit, and as a light cruiser, Xu Shan has a 45% chance (light cruisers = 15% per core box hit). Not only does Xu Shan pass the roll (and thus NOT have to break off), but she rolls a 100! These Chinese will launch THEMSELVES as torpedoes with hand grenades clenched in their teeth before they give up!

In the end, however, the Xu Shan and K-98 simply get lucky.  Some of their last torpedoes gut the Franz Josef, again doing enough internal damage that the huge Prussian heavy cruiser detonates, the blast so powerful that it damages the Xu Shan some 540 kilometers away.  The blast also wipes out all the scout aerospace craft on both sides, engaged in a furious miniature dogfight near the Franz Josef as British and Panasian scouts tried to shoot into Franz Josef’s crippled port quarter shielding.

The Battle of Chernyeva is a shocking defeat for the Prussians.  The loss of their two most powerful ships, the Franz Josef and the Kesseldorf, is enough to settle the issue once and for all in the Cervantes system.  If the Iron Wolves want to score any victories in Duchess Annabel’s War, they’ll have to do it somewhere else.  Also, the Prussians have very been badly hurt, the heart torn out of the Franz Josef cruiser squadron.  More ships are ready to carry on the fight (including the light cruiser Rossbach, destroyer Oder, frigate-monitor Dresden), but for now the war effort for the Iron Wolves will have to be borne by the Black Dragons, New Romans, and Japanese.

Here is the torpedo spread that wins the battle for the Chinese and Russians.  Note the Franz Josef is flying inverted in an attempt to protect her damaged port quarter, not that it will help against these torpedoes flying straight into her stern. Here is the torpedo spread that wins the battle for the Chinese and Russians. Note the Franz Josef is flying inverted in an attempt to protect her damaged port quarter, not that it will help against these torpedoes flying straight into her stern.

SCORING:  The Chinese have the light cruiser Xu Shan, (100 points), the Russians have the corvette K-98 (10 points).  No scouts remain on either side.  Annabel’s Alliance wins by 110 points, very solid but still minor victory (25.4%)

Cruiser Battle in Gas Giant Atmosphere P1

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
Idea 10
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Cruiser Clash in Gas Giant Atmosphere
Chernyeva Gas Giant, Cervantes Star System (Mu Ara)
Duchess Annabel's War - December 28, 2518

“Duchess Annabel’s War” continues between the “Iron Wolf” Coalition (Imperial Prussia, Japan, New Roman Alliance, New Khitan Free State) and “Annabel’s Alliance” (Great Britain, Panasian League, Holy Russian Empire).

SITUATION:  The Iron Wolves aren’t done with the Russians in the Cervantes (Mu Ara) system yet.  Yes, they’ve been checked at the system’s outer debris belt, failing to “kick in the front door” at the Battle of Outer Cervantes.  Subsequently, the Black Dragons also failed to “slip in through the back door” at the recent clash at the twin moons of Chernyeva Twelve.  But the Black Dragons, particularly the Imperial Prussians, are convinced that one more solid blow will finally crack the Russians and their allies in this system and collapse all their holdings here in the “Sagittarius Wing” of the Libra-Sagittarius warzone (that’s the “west” third of the warzone as viewed from Earth).

Confirmation of this presumption comes in the form of continued intelligence reports from the so-called “Red Kitsune,” the deadly Iron Wolf spy that continues to elude the efforts of British Intelligence, the Russian FSB, and Chinese counterintelligence.  The Russians are having a hard time bringing in new ships.  Even their light fleet carrier Komarov has been called away to deal with another crisis in the ongoing war with the Black Dragons in other sectors.  The Russians are not making good their losses, the Lazarev task force remains their only real naval presence in the Cervantes system, and even that is understrength.

Cruiser Battle in Gas Giant Atmosphere P1

All the same, the bloody-knuckled victories of Outer Cervantes and Chernyeva Twelve have also steeled Russian resolve, quashing talk of cutting some kind of separate peace.  Furthermore, the Russians are making the most of their partners in the “Annabel’s Alliance,” leveraging them for reinforcements where their own navy cannot provide the needed firepower.  But whereas the British helped save the day at Outer Cervantes, this time it’s the Panasian Union who are sending the bulk of the reinforcements.

For the Russians, such contributions from their allies are the only thing holding their defense of the Cervantes star system together, a valuable colony along their Second Band trade routes.  For the British and Panasian Union, defending Cervantes is admittedly becoming expensive, but at the same time it’s been keeping the war away from British and Panasian colonies, like Annabel’s Star or Gū Xing (Falcon’s Star, HD 147513).  As with most coalitional wars throughout history, the “allies” are using each other.

The Prussians, meanwhile, have little time for such subtleties.  Amassing an elite force around the heavy cruiser Franz Josef, they enlist the aid of the recently-repaired Black Dragon light missile cruiser Zhang Jia, more or less as a guide, and set a parabolic course around the back side of the Cervantes system.  Again the Iron Wolves will go for the “back door” of the system, but rather than try to “ghost” in behind the outer moons of the Chernyeva gas giant, they bolt straight in, and by the end of December the Franz Josef task force is actually within the ice giant’s wind-swept, lightning-torn atmosphere.

Cruiser Battle in Gas Giant Atmosphere P1

It’s a hostile place to stage a naval strike force.  Winds of methane and helium rip by at 900 kilometers an hour, pelting the hulls with rains of liquid nitrogen at -200⁰ F.  Yet the Prussian commander, the impetuous and headstrong Captain Matthew Gold (hero of the Battle of Zubrin and winner of the Kriegsmarine Knight’s Cross in the Hercules Gate War), is sure that if he maintains his position here, the Annabel’s Alliance counterstrike (when it inevitably comes) will have to set a course down “into the soup” to meet him. That means a slow approach down into the dangers of the Chernyeva atmospheric pressure, winds, lightning, and crushing gravity well (Chernyeva has a mass of 1.19 Jupiters) … giving Gold’s expert gunners and huge 11-gigawatt  rail guns … that much more time to engage and destroy their approaching enemies.

The Battle of the Chernyeva Gas Giant … is on.

Annabel's Alliance task force makes its approach from the left (Panasian, British, and Russian warships).  The chalk line shows the limit of Chernyeva's upper atmosphere (each hex is 180 km, remember).  The Iron Wolves (Prussians, Black Dragons) already lurk in the gas giant atmosphere, to the upper right.   Annabel's Alliance task force makes its approach from the left (Panasian, British, and Russian warships). The chalk line shows the limit of Chernyeva's upper atmosphere (each hex is 180 km, remember). The Iron Wolves (Prussians, Black Dragons) already lurk in the gas giant atmosphere, to the upper right.

REPORT: Largely armed with Russian and Chinese-made short-range plasma projectors and rail guns, the commanders of the Annabel’s Alliance task force (Captain Pyotr Myshaga, Commander Sara West, Commander Chao Chen Fengbao) decide to set a relatively fast course toward the Prussians and Black Dragons.   To do this, they have to remain outside the thicker belts of the Chernyeva gas giant’s atmosphere, skimming overhead at speeds approaching 40 kps.  For their part, the Prussians set a course straight up,  still deep within the Chernyeva atmosphere but maintaining sufficient escape velocity for maneuvers and escape should any of their ships take too much battle damage.  The Franz Josef opens fire with her forward batteries, tearing open holes in the prow of the British light cruiser Requiem, while the Zhang Jia slings out a full spread of her frontal torpedo tubes.

The Chinese and British, meanwhile, are already targeting the Prussian frigate Nordwind.    The tactic is a sound one, only if they knock out this small but vital link in the Prussian fleet’s defense (the Nordwind is a powerful anti-aerospace defense ship and electronic warfare platform), the massive Chinese and Russian torpedo waves will have no chance to counter the huge Prussian edge in sheer weight of gunnery.

Annabel's Alliance task force:  HMS Requiem, CPK (Holy Russian Ship) Lazarev and K-98, PLN (People's Liberation Navy) Xu Shan, Hohhot, and ShantaoAnnabel's Alliance task force: HMS Requiem, CPK (Holy Russian Ship) Lazarev and K-98, PLN (People's Liberation Navy) Xu Shan, Hohhot, and Shantao
Iron Wolf task force:  Prussian KMS Franz Josef, Kesseldorf, and Nordwind, Black Dragon KTS (Khitan-Tunguska Ship) Zhang Jia Iron Wolf task force: Prussian KMS Franz Josef, Kesseldorf, and Nordwind, Black Dragon KTS (Khitan-Tunguska Ship) Zhang Jia
The two  task forces open fire at 3600 kilometer range.The two task forces open fire at 3600 kilometer range.

Darkstar Battle Report - P3

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 11
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Russians v. Black Dragons Light Cruiser Action
Cervantes Star System (Mu Ara), Outer Gas Giant Moons
December 6, 2518

As the Black Dragons start to head toward the gap between the two Chernyeva Twelve moonlets, Captain Pyotr Myshaga of the Lazarev hopes to “cross their T” and broadside them as they come through the passage.  But the Black Dragons have anticipated this, and as Lazarev decelerates and turns to port to cross their T, they instead accelerate  and fish-hook to cut across Lazarev’s stern at less than 600 kilometers.  It’s a deadly move, but the destroyers Syekyra and Rusalka counter but looping all the way around the smaller Chernyeva Twelve moonlet and cutting in turn behind the sterns of the Black Dragon battlegroup.

From here, the battle gets very bloody, very fast … as has been typical between the Russians and Black Dragons since the opening of the Black Dragon War six years ago.  The Lazarev’s torpedoes slam into the stern of the Zhang Jia, destroying engines and possibly putting her out of action.  The Lazarev is nearly exploded by the massive wave of Black Dragon torpedoes and close range plasma and rail gun fire, especially the torpedoes of the Zhang Jia (upgraded EW) and the rail guns of her sistership Xin Tian.  Russian scouts of the Lazarev manage to finish off the K-206 with only their light machine guns, while the rail guns and plasma projectors of the Syekyra and Rusalka open fire point blank into the stern of the destroyer Gorokhov and light missile cruiser Xin Tian.

Long story short, at the end of this horrific exchange of gunfire (all delivered at ranges less than 600 km, some of it as short as 150 km), only the damaged cruiser Xin Tian and the destroyer Syekyra remain operational.

The two battlegroups close in the tight The two battlegroups close in the tight "straits" between the two Chernyeva Twelve moonlets. The gunnery range is murderously short, and the results are horrifically predictable.

After the blistering violence of the initial pass, what follows now is a complex series of maneuvers, a virtual 100,000-ton dogfight between the Xin Tian and Syekyra.  Both ships wheel and turn, pivot and bluff, each trying to get guns behind the other for a shot at the engines.  The Syekyra has the edge (Commander Ekaterina A. Duranov), being a smaller and having undamaged engines, while the Xin Tian has larger engines but more bulk, and her reactors and engineering plant has been badly damaged.  Also, both ships have experience bridge crews (+2 initiative bonus) and the Xin Tian has a huge edge in gunnery.  So if Duranov isn’t careful, Xin Tian can simply blow the Syekyra apart with massed rail guns and torpedo fire no matter where Syekyra makes her approach.

The dogfight begins between the Xin Tian and the Syekyra.  The Xin Jian is currently using the smaller Chernyeva Twelve moonlet to cover her damaged fantail.  The dogfight begins between the Xin Tian and the Syekyra. The Xin Jian is currently using the smaller Chernyeva Twelve moonlet to cover her damaged fantail.
The opening initiative roll of the The opening initiative roll of the "dogfight." So far the Syekyra is definitely winning this race. Both ships have actually equal thrust of 6 - (Xin Tian is quite fast for a light cruiser), but being a destroyer, Syekyra will win all ties.

The dogfight lasts another eight minutes, with the Xin Tian doggedly refusing to ever let the smaller Syekyra outmaneuver her.  During this time, both ships almost  exhaust their torpedoes, which is saying something given the Xin Tian’s massive missile load (she carries 152 total warheads in all).  Although the Syekyra never really gets on in the Xin Tian’s stern, she manages to continually present new facings to the Xin Tian’s guns, pivoting and rolling, never letting the Xin Tian’s big broadside hit the part of the ship twice.

Both ships continue to maneuver fratuically, slinging torpedoes at each other and peppering each other with rail guns and plasma fire.  One trick the Syekyra keeps pulling is presenting new angles to the Xin Tian, so the heavier Black Dragon cruiser can never hit the smaller Russian destroyer in the same place twice..Both ships continue to maneuver fratuically, slinging torpedoes at each other and peppering each other with rail guns and plasma fire. One trick the Syekyra keeps pulling is presenting new angles to the Xin Tian, so the heavier Black Dragon cruiser can never hit the smaller Russian destroyer in the same place twice..

In the end it comes down a torpedo spread from the Syekyra.  With her aft shields now knocked down, Xin Tian is completely reliant on her mass drivers to defend from Russian P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) torpedoes, but these mass drivers have also been hammered by successive hits, and are down to 60% their original strength.  More importantly, Xin Tian is almost blinded, with three hits on her sensor suite.  Thus, although Syekyra can only launch five torpedoes in her last wave, none are shot down by Xin Tian’s defenses, or pre-detonated by Xin Tian’s gravitic shielding.  Four of these warheads hit the Xin Tian’s damaged stern, instantly putting her adrift and out of action.

The last torpedo spread that decides the game.  Note the Xin Tian has no after shields, knocked out earlier in the battle (that first thunderous exchange of close range fire)The last torpedo spread that decides the game. Note the Xin Tian has no after shields, knocked out earlier in the battle (that first thunderous exchange of close range fire)
Down goes the Xian Tian!  The Russians pick up another win.  Campaign wise, they have a VERY deep hole from which to dig themselves, however, they probably still won't win this war.  But at least now they're not being humiliated.  Note the small round counter on top of the Syekyra - this indicates the ship is INVERTED, rolling over on her back to present her port side armor, shielding, and torpedo bays to the enemy instead of starboard.  This can be done in case you lose shields on one side, to protect damaged armor, or to bring fresh torpedo bays to bear (if others are knocked out or empty).Down goes the Xian Tian! The Russians pick up another win. Campaign wise, they have a VERY deep hole from which to dig themselves, however, they probably still won't win this war. But at least now they're not being humiliated. Note the small round counter on top of the Syekyra - this indicates the ship is INVERTED, rolling over on her back to present her port side armor, shielding, and torpedo bays to the enemy instead of starboard. This can be done in case you lose shields on one side, to protect damaged armor, or to bring fresh torpedo bays to bear (if others are knocked out or empty).

The skirmish at Chernyeva Twelve is a clear Russian victory, but even now the battle is not over.  Since this is a Russian system near a Russian orbital installation, rescue craft and life boats are already descending on the battle site for rescue and recovery of the Lazarev and Rusalka.  This leaves the Syekyra free to chase down Black Dragon cripples.  The corvette K-211 is the first to go down, picked off by a coup de grace salvo from Syekyra’s rail guns.  Next is the crippled destroyer Gorokhov, in fact a Russian’ build Sovnya class destroyer.  Syekyra manages to catch up with the drifting Gorokhov, docking with the wreck and boarding her with marines.  The Russians actually fail in the first boarding attempt, the passageways and compartments of the derelict Gorokhov the scene of a furious small-arms battle between Russian and Black Dragon troops and crewmen.

But the Gorokhov is finally secured after a second boarding attempt, and this old Russian destroyer is re-captured by its original owners.  Commander of the Lazarev task force (Captain Pyotr Myshaga) has Gorokhov towed to the Imperial Russian Navy shipyards at Cervantes Prime, where she will be repaired and eventually join the Lazarev task force, once more as a Russian ship of the line.

SCORING:  Russians have the destroyer Syekyra and two scouts = 68 points.  Black Dragons have six scouts = 6 points.  Russians win by 62, Minor Victory.

Darkstar Battle Report - P2

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
Idea 11
3 Comments

Russians v. Black Dragons Light Cruiser Action
Cervantes Star System (Mu Ara), Outer Gas Giant Moons
December 6, 2518

Okay, so here’s a very brief primer on how torpedo spreads are resolved in this system.  A total of 28 torpedoes are headed for the Black Dragon light cruiser Zhang Jia.  This is the torpedo spread the Black Dragon player decided to focus on with his point-defense guns.

Each ship takes its shot, rolling a d6 on the mass driver table.  Results are determined by how many guns the ship has, electronic warfare, targeting suites, and EW of the firing ship (after launching torpedoes, a ship can jam enemy tracking as they try to shoot the torpedoes down, if the firing ship has the right upgrades).

Black Dragon ships manage to shoot down 10, 8, 4, and 0 torpedoes (22 total) , leaving six to actually try to hit Zhang Jia.  The target for a Russian Type III torpedo is 7 on a d10, -3 for Zhang Jia’s shields,  -1 for her upgraded shielding, -1 for her EW upgrades = -5 total, for a net chance of 2.  Yet the Russians roll great, and our of 6 d10 torpedo strikes,  4 hit!

The facing of the Zhang Jia that is hit is determined by where the torpedoes were placed by the owning player, subject to restrictions during the torpedo movement phase.  Usually, the shooting player tries to hit the stern, this is where most of the engines, reactors, and other critical components are located that can quickly cripple a ship.

Next, where on the stern?  Each type of warship has a different number of hit columns per facing (light cruisers have 5).  So a d5 is rolled for each hit (d10 / 2).  And the three points of Type III torpedo damage is applied to for each hit, its exact location indicated by the d5 roll.

So far the Russians are getting pretty lucky, with four torpedo hits, all in good spots.  Already two complete engine blocks (red outline) of the Zhang Jia are down, reducing the ship’s available thrust by -2, impacting not only movement but initiative as well.  Engines are also highly explosive, and there’s already a solid chance the Zhang Jia may be crippled here.

Torpedo resolution vs. enemy mass driver defense and shields.Torpedo resolution vs. enemy mass driver defense and shields.
Torpedo hits on Zhang Jia's faintail.Torpedo hits on Zhang Jia's faintail.

Russian Scouts are also getting lucky.  The Black Dragon K-206 has been heavily damaged by Russian destroyer fire and lost one of its shields.  Russian scouts now attack this unshielded facing (port bow) and with some lucky die rolls, actually do just enough damage to hit the bridge and knock out the ship.  This is very rare, scouts are armed basically with machine guns.  To take out the equivalent of a submarine with nothing more than two .50 cals is actually pretty amazing.  Again, the Russians were very lucky here, and this corvette was already heavily damaged (the conn was torn open, this blast of MG fire perhaps killed enough of the bridge crew to cripple the ship).

Russian scouts get lucky and take out the damaged enemy corvette with nothing more than machine guns!Russian scouts get lucky and take out the damaged enemy corvette with nothing more than machine guns!

Black Dragon torpedoes and guns tear into the sterns of the Russian destroyer Rusalka (Commander Alexandr D. Kharechev).   Again, you can see where the Black dragon player aimed his torpedoes at the Russian stern.  Black Dragon (usually Chinese) torpedoes are much weaker and less accurate, but there are a $h*t ton more of them.  Successive hits have knocked out of Rusalka’s mass driver turrets, one of her main armament turrets (aft 0 kg plasma projector), knocked out both starboard engines and starboard reactors, damaged her aft sensors, and knocked down aft shields.

Most importantly, four critical boxes (red) have been hit.  This means the Black Dragon player may have already crippled the Rusalka.  Each type of ship starts with a “cripple number,” from which you subtract the number of critical boxes hit.  Destroyers have a Cripple Number of 7, which after you minus -4 critical hits =3.  Thus, the Black Dragon player has crippled this ship on a d6 roll of 3+.

Even if the Rusalka’s engineers keep the ship running, however (i.e., the Black Dragons miss that 3+), this ship is in very serious trouble.

Ship record sheet of the Russian destroyer Rusalka, probably crippled.Ship record sheet of the Russian destroyer Rusalka, probably crippled.

Not as much trouble as this ship!  The Lazarev is blown almost completely inside out.  Light Cruisers start with a cripple number of 10, and 10 critical boxes have been hit.  This leaves the Black Dragon player with a 0+ roll on a d6, i.e., automatic.  But if this net cripple target ever gets into NEGATIVE numbers, there is a chance the ship can EXPLODE on the spot, killing almost everyone aboard and damaging nearby ships as well.

Ship record sheet of the Russian light cruiser Lazarev, ALMOST about to explode.Ship record sheet of the Russian light cruiser Lazarev, ALMOST about to explode.

Darkstar Battle Report

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 9
2 Comments

Russians v. Black Dragons Light Cruiser Action
Cervantes Star System (Mu Ara), Outer Gas Giant Moons
December 6, 2518

The Russians continued to claw their way steadily back into this war with another ferocious battle in the continuing  Duchess Annabel’s War, this time against the “Black Dragon” rebels of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State.

First, a setup of the forces.  The Russians have the Katukov-class light cruiser Lazarev (replaced the Suvorov, exploded in the last game), along with the two destroyers Syekyra and Rusalka.  The Black Dragons have a larger but less elite and upgraded force, including two Xhia class light missile cruisers Zhang Jia and Xin Tian, the destroyer Gorokhov, and two K-56 class torpedo corvettes.

The Zhang Jia is a particularly notorious ship.  Through the course of the recent Xi Scorpio and Scorpion’s Tail Wars against the Japanese and United States, this Black Dragon missile cruiser outright destroyed two light cruisers (the famous flagship IJN Sendai and the USS Milwaukee), exploded a Japanese industrial station (killing hundreds of civilians), and has crippled the famous destroyer USS Oriskany at least three times.  The Zhang Jia’s bridge officers have upgraded starship tactics, the ship itself upgraded with enhanced electronic warfare suite and improved gravitic shielding.  She started as a cheap, ugly, disposal Chinese warship, but since being stolen as part of the Black Dragon revolt, has now become an elite and deadly foe, ship and crew sharpened to a razor’s edge, her black hull figuratively painted in the blood of her enemies, including Russians, Panasians, Japanese, and Americans.

If there was ever a ship in Darkstar to have a price on its head, it’s this one.

Assembled forces, including light cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo corvettes.  Also shown: Scout aerospace craft launched by the starships.Assembled forces, including light cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo corvettes. Also shown: Scout aerospace craft launched by the starships.

So here’s  the general situation.  The Russians have recently crushed out a very narrow, very bloody, and very costly win against the Prussians and Japanese defending the outer protoplanetary debris belt (Kupier Belt) of the Cervantes star system (Mu Ara).  Although they won this fight and defended their star system, the Russians are badly weakened.  The Black Dragons thus hope to take advantage, sneaking the Zhang Jia battlegroup in through the other side of the Cervantes star system and capturing a few Russian installations around gas giant moons and the like.

Below, we see the Black Dragons make their approach.  The red markers are massive “Tsing Tao” torpedo waves, 76 warheads in all.  The two K-56 corvettes and the Gorokhov also launch Russian-made P-500 torpedoes (green 12, 12, and x2 5-torpedo markers)

Then, we see the Russians likewise make their approach.  CL1 = light cruiser Lararev (Captain Pyotr M. Myshaga).  DD1 and DD2 = destroyers Syekyra (Commander Ekaterina A. Duranov) and Rusalka (Commander Alexandr D. Kharechev).

Black Dragon (Khitan-Tunguska Free State) task forceBlack Dragon (Khitan-Tunguska Free State) task force
Holy Russian Empire Task ForceHoly Russian Empire Task Force

This fight is going to get very close, very fast.  There are no carriers here, and with all Russian and Chinese-built ships on the board, everyone is equipped more or less with short- and mid-range weapons.  Or are they?  The Lazarev battlegroup has been upgraded with enhanced gunnery accuracy, so they’re content to open fire at a longer range.  Here we see the immediate effects, Russian forward batteries (especially the EPCs of the Lazarev) open fire straight away, crippling the Black Dragon torpedo corvette K-221.

The torpedo corvette K-221 (CV2) in crippled by long-range EPC (electron particle cannon) fire from the forward batteries of the light cruiser LazarevThe torpedo corvette K-221 (CV2) in crippled by long-range EPC (electron particle cannon) fire from the forward batteries of the light cruiser Lazarev

Movement on Turn 2.  The first ship to move is the K-221 (CV2 – with the black smoke marker on it).  She’s crippled and will thus continue to move at their last heading and velocity until she hits something or leaves the board.  This is why it’s very important to watch out for moons, planets, and asteroids in this game, especially in scenarios where they are moving or exert gravity effects.

Next, the Lazarev, despite her +2 initiative bonus, still loses and has to move first.  She’s still moving very fast, so with most of her thrust being applied to deceleration, she can only manage one hexside turn.  She cuts in front of these two gas giant moons, coming with 200 km of one of them, hoping to broadside the Black Dragons as they move between the moons.

The Black Dragons, predictably, to not accommodate our dear Captain Myshaga.  They decide not to decelerate, thus rocketing through Myshaga’s planned fire zone, cutting between the two moons and with a turn to port, setup a broadside across Lazarev’s stern at less than 600 km (3 hexes), very short range in this game.

The two Russian destroyers, then decide to keep their speed up as well, cutting all the way around the smaller moon, dropping their own broadsides in turn behind the Black Dragon task force.  Everyone’s torpedoes launched last turn also come in, ready to hit their targets.  Things here are about to get very, very nasty.

End of movement - Turn 02End of movement - Turn 02
End of movement - Turn 02.  These torpedoes are about to hit, these guns are about to open fire, and and this corner of the Mu Ara star system is about to very, very messy.End of movement - Turn 02. These torpedoes are about to hit, these guns are about to open fire, and and this corner of the Mu Ara star system is about to very, very messy.

Darkstar Campaign Update - Duchess Annabel's War

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
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Engagement 08
Invading Outskirts of Weakened Enemy Star System
Outer Cervantes (Mu Ara) Star System
20 November 2518

(apologies in advance, I didn’t get many photos of this battle)

SITUATION:  For the Holy Russian Empire, the War of Annabel’s Star has been an unmitigated disaster.  Not since the outset of the Black Dragon War in 2512 has their navy been beset by such a string of defeats and humiliations.  So far only the United Kingdom and Panasian Union have been winning battles for Annabel’s Alliance, leading some analysts to comment that the British and Chinese are fighting this war “with one foot in a Russian bucket.”

In fact elements of the Russian government (Empress Katarina VII, Patriarch Vladimir the Just, and the St. Petersburg Duma) find themselves under increasing pressure to pull out of this war entirely.  Proponents of such a withdrawal urge that the battered Russian Navy instead be focused on a separate war against the Black Dragons of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State, a desperate effort to save at least some holdings out here in the Libra-Sagittarius SCS (Strategic Command Sector).

Yet even as the Russian government and naval command debate their rapidly-dwindling options, commanders of the  Iron Wolf Coalition prepare to relieve them of the burden of choice altogether. With their footing in the Neu-Bremerhaven system now secured (thus closing down any enemy approach to the Eisenwolf Colonies at Gliese 570), the Iron Wolves feel sufficiently secure to take the offensive against the Russians, perhaps dealing a hard enough blow to force their diplomats to the negotiating table.

Accordingly, their commanders assemble the famous Japanese Konoya carrier strike group, and reinforce it with additional escort light cruisers and destroyers from the Prussian and New Roman navies.  Together this combined task force is sent out for what they hope will be a killing blow against Russian interests in the War of Annabel’s Star.

The selected target is the Russian star system of Cervantes (Mu Ara).  This system the key link between Russian holdings in the Core, the Tsarina Twins system (Gliese 667), and their colonies further out in the Libra-Sagittarius sectors of the Third Band (what few that are left since the start of the Black Dragon War).

The Russians, for their part, know they’re in trouble.  Despite advance warning of the Iron Wolf incursion thanks to a prowling K-56 class torpedo corvette, their bruised and bleeding navy can only muster limited resources to head off the Iron Wolves and defend the Cervantes star system.

But what the Russians lack in numbers, they make up for in composition.  As fate would have it, the only task force in position to meet this threat is the light cruiser Suvorov and her escorts, the very task force that has been handled so roughly by the Konoya battlegroup so far in this war.  The key factor is the careful rebuilding of the Suvorov task force … where lessons of past defeats have been diligently applied to a reorganized military force deliberately built to meet and defeat the Konoya battlegroup. In summary, the Russians have given up trying to match the Konoya battlegroup’s aerospace strike capabilities, instead relaying on a new squadron of K-56 class torpedo corvettes and upgraded gunnery targeting suites on the cruisers Suvorov and destroyers Syekyra and Rusalka.  It is hoped these enhancements will help engage the Konoya battlegroup at a longer range, given the Japanese preference to deny battle at closer gunnery distances with which these heavier Russian ships are typically more comfortable.

More good news comes in the form of British reinforcements.  It’s only one ship, but the light fleet carrier HMS Vigilant, her bays loaded with the elite “Royal Griffins” and “Mad Hatters” aerospace strike squadrons.  This potent force promises to pose a serious counterweight to the equally elite Japanese “Starfox” naval strike squadrons of the light carrier Sagae and light fleet carrier Konoya.

On November 20, the Japanese, Prussians, and French drop out of their Darkstar waves, vectoring toward the outermost planetismals of the Cervantes system’s planetary debris belt.  Their Darkstar wave ripples have been detected by automated Russian sensors, and already the Suvorov-Vigilant task force is vectoring in to meet the invaders.

For many of those engaged, today could be a particularly fateful battle.  The Japanese embassy in St. Petersburg has already prepared a proposal that offers peace to the Russian government.  If these Japanese diplomats receive word of a victory here, as they have so far in virtually every battle in the War of Annabel’s Star, their terms will be submitted to the Foreign Minister of Empress Ekatarina VII.  For the Russians and Japanese, the war could end right here, in near-perfect victory for the Japanese, and bruising defeat for the Holy Russian Empire.

Darkstar Campaign Update - Duchess Annabel's War

REPORT: The Iron Wolves make their approach very slowly, dropping to less than fifteen kps and making a turn to port, hoping to keep the longest possible distance between themselves and the gun/torpedo-heavy Russian task force.  The Russians, however, have upgraded their targeting suites, all too ready to engage the Japanese carriers at this longer distance.  The presence of HMS Vigilant makes this option even more appealing, as the “Mad Hatter” and “Royal Griffin” aerospace strike squadrons launch and begin their approach toward the Iron Wolf invaders.

Straight off the bat, the Iron Wolves draw blood.  The opening salvo from the light cruiser Kesseldorf, her rail cannons manned by some of the best gunnery crews in Known Space, immediately engage and destroy the tiny Russian torpedo corvette K-109.  Return fire from the Russians is fierce, but not enough to cripple either of the escorting Japanese Akashi-class strike frigates.

The Iron Wolves turn on their wakes, reversing course toward the Russians as they continue to bear down on the Japanese.  Yet the Japanese also keep asteroid debris between them and the Russian plasma projectors, the Suvorov in particular is completely blinded to any enemy targets.  Yet the Japanese carriers also get close enough to the enemy warships for an immediate bomber strike and provide mass driver protection for their bombers (those British aerospace fighter pilots are some of the deadliest anywhere).

The tactic works … mostly.  The Russian flagship Suvorov is left impotent with no targets, the Kesseldorf mauling the destroyer Rusalka.  But this is perhaps a mistake, as the rest of the Iron Wolf fleet doesn’t join this cannonade, instead gunning for the carrier Vigilant.  And while the Japanese B7N “Tenrai” (Heavenly Thunder) bombers indeed are able to launch their ordinance strike from a protected position under cover of the battlegroup’s mass drivers, the A9M “Kataka” (Fire Hawk) fighters can’t reach the same position quite fast enough.  Their missile wave will strike precious seconds after the bombers’ torpedoes, giving the Russian gunners additional opportunity to shoot down the incoming warheads.  This is another fatal division of firepower that will wind up costing the Japanese heavily.

Russian torpedoes don’t have this problem.  Although the loss of the K-109 has reduced their number, enough P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) warheads slam into the stern of the Kesseldorf, followed by broadsides of the Rusalka and Syekyra, to force Commander William Goeritz to break off the action.

Darkstar Campaign Update - Duchess Annabel's War

The Russians are also in trouble.  Although not quite fatal, the Japanese torpedo strike has smashed the engineering sections of the flagship Suvorov and destroyer Rusalka wide open.  Limping away, they head toward the small planetismal, lobbing out plasma, EPC, and rail gun fire at the Japanese strike frigates while trying to keep their sterns screened from further enemy fire.  It doesn’t work, the valiant little frigate Yurakasu (despite heavy damage to her fo’c’sle and having no forward shields) decides to dive straight for the Suvorovs exposed fantail. The brave little frigate doesn’t knock out the Russian cruiser, and is predictably shot out of the battle by a strafing run of the “Mad Hatters” Royal Navy Aerospace Strike Squadron, but one of the Yurakasu’s Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes knocks down the Suvorov’s after shields … a development to have dire repercussions later in the battle.

The carriers Konoya, Sagae, and Vigilant are now frantically trying to recover bombers, while the cruisers, destroyers, and frigates on both sides are trying to cripple these ships while they’re rearming these strike wings in their hangars.  It doesn’t work, and soon enough bombers are relaunched to release a second round of devastating aerospace strikes.  First, the guns of the Suvorov and Syekyra cripple the frigate Tanakasha, sistership to the nigh-suicidal Yurakazu.  Torpedoes from the Suvorov and Rusalka cripple the French destroyer Corsica, on instant before a mass of aerospace torpedoes finally force the Rusalka to eject her reactors, putting her out of the battle.

The rest of those torpedoes go after the Suvorov, still in the fight but without aft shielding to protect her badly-damaged engine rooms (thanks to that final volley of the Yurakazu).  Many of these torpedoes are shot down, but enough get through and explode within the Sovorov’s engineering sections . . .

Darkstar Campaign Update - Duchess Annabel's War

There’s no saving the ship.  In fact, Captain Pyotr Myshaga barely has time to give the order to abandon ship before a chain reaction of explosions starts ripping its way forward.  Thirty seconds later, the ship goes up altogether, a gigantic fusion explosion that kills 212 members of her Suvorov’s crew and leaves many more badly injured as the shockwave slams into lifeboats, escape bods, and ejected combat compartments of the ship.  Among the wounded is Pyotr Myshaga, Suvorov’s captain.  The nearby destroyer Syekyra and corvettes K-98 and K-121 are also badly damaged in the colossal blast.

That said, the battle is already shaking to a conclusion.  The Royal Griffins have launched a new torpedo strike, slamming into the stern of the charmed light carrier IJN Sagae.  She’s never been crippled or even badly damaged in combat, a lucky streak that is finally broken here.  Although she survives, she’ll be crippled for the better part of a month.  The larger light fleet carrier Konoya fares even worse, hammered by the torpedoes of the dying Suvorov, the destroyer Syekyra, and corvettes K-98 and K-121.  She’s going to be out of action for months, the only reason she’s able to be towed clear of the Cervantes system and back to a Japanese naval base is because the Russians are now scrambling to pick up survivors from the Suvorov.

The Battle of Outer Cervantes is over.  Despite their horrific losses, the Russians have finally crushed out a smoldering, charred, blood-soaked win.  Although the Suvorov is gone forever, the Konoya task force has been handed a severe mauling, her carriers gutted and elite strike squadrons suffering steep losses in aerospace fighters and priceless pilots.  Most importantly, enough Russian and British naval power remains in the Cervantes system to categorically thwart any plans of an Iron Wolf invasion, or thoughts of putting the Holy Russian Empire out of the Annabel’s Star War quite yet.

SCORING: The Russians and British have the destroyer Syekyra, corvettes K-98 and K-121, light fleet carrer Vigilant, and assorted scouts, double-elite fighters and double-elite bombers = 193 points.  Japanese have remnants of the “Star Fox” double elite aerospace strike squadron, plus additional scouts and fighters / bombers from the light fleet carrier Konoya, +3 bank points =  99 points.  Russians and British win by 94, minor victory.

Darkstar - Building new fleet of playing pieces

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 10
4 Comments

As some people following this project may have seen, some of recent campaigns in Darkstar in the Scorpio, Libra, and Sagittarius coreward sectors have led to the rise of a new faction: The Khitan-Tunguska Free State, more commonly known as the Black Dragons.

In broad summary, these are a series of colonies from that have revolted against the Holy Russian Empire and the Panasian Union (predominantly, China).  Because of their Russian-Chinese roots, they have adopted something of a Mongolian / Manchurian / Siberian separatist culture – their nickname coming from the Black River than runs between Siberia and northern China on terrestrial Earth.

Anyway, these Black Dragons have been engaged in two furious wars against my Americans and Japanese of the “Pacific Alliance” in the Xi Scorpio War (2516-18) and against the Americans alone in the smaller Scorpion’s Tail War of 2518.

These were mostly “playtesting” campaigns, usually run solitaire in MS Excel.  So while there’s a massive amount of backstory, history, and games on record for this new faction (including some ships that  have become really powerful through xp-upgrades), there actually hasn’t really been physical playing pieces made up for them for conventional tabletop play.

Now that the Black Dragons have entered a third war with live opponents and allies (@aras, @gladesrunner, and Jeff P.), it was high time I finally made some pieces for the Black Dragons.

They’ve escaped the Matrix!  They’re now in the “real world!”  😀 😀 😀

Printing out the markings for starship bases (heavy cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes) and aerospace counters (fighters, bombers, scouts)Printing out the markings for starship bases (heavy cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and corvettes) and aerospace counters (fighters, bombers, scouts)
I trace out the bases I will cut from artist's matte board.  These pieces must all be uniform with pre-existing pieces from factions already in play.I trace out the bases I will cut from artist's matte board. These pieces must all be uniform with pre-existing pieces from factions already in play.
Bases all cut out with some light sanding to smooth the edges.Bases all cut out with some light sanding to smooth the edges.
Bases are now mounted with the Black Dragon flag and ship class designations.  CA = heavy cruiser.  CL = light cruiser.  DD = destroyer.  FF = frigate.  CV is usually Bases are now mounted with the Black Dragon flag and ship class designations. CA = heavy cruiser. CL = light cruiser. DD = destroyer. FF = frigate. CV is usually "Carrier," but carriers are handled differently in this game. So CV = corvette. Although none are pictured here, there are also BB for battleships and PV for gunboats (patrol vessel).
Cut stands on which the starships will be mounted on the stand.   Again, these are certain lengths depending on ship types.Cut stands on which the starships will be mounted on the stand. Again, these are certain lengths depending on ship types.
Starting work on the actual starship.  Again, each type has a standard template.  One of these decades I might finally get around to start building more advanced / visual Starting work on the actual starship. Again, each type has a standard template. One of these decades I might finally get around to start building more advanced / visual "miniatures," but with seven ships types, 88 classes, 11 factions, and hundreds of individual starships on record, I can only nibble at the edges of such a project. Also, I've always wante dto encourage people who play this game to largely imagine for themselves how they like their ships to look.
The ships are now cut and assembled. The ships are now cut and assembled.
A lick of gray paint adds to the A lick of gray paint adds to the "Battleship" mystique. :D
Aerospace unit markers are now mounted and cut.  In three hours of light work, a whole new faction has been built for Darkstar, and is ready for play.  I actually hope to use them later this evening in a skirmish against some of their former masters in the Holy Russian Empire.    Aerospace unit markers are now mounted and cut. In three hours of light work, a whole new faction has been built for Darkstar, and is ready for play. I actually hope to use them later this evening in a skirmish against some of their former masters in the Holy Russian Empire.

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.5)

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 12
2 Comments

Part Five of the Darkstar background and setting material starts to highlights the general technologies of the Darkstar universe, how the ships work, weapons, ECM, FTL, power sources, etc.

Re-uploaded to add some additional / more original artwork, also to correct several embarrassing typos in the text.  😀

More to come!

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.5)

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.4)

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 11
2 Comments

This fourth part of the Darkstar background and setting material outlines “Naval Life,” what the navies and fleets are actually like – both in the future world of Darkstar and to a certain extent how they are in reality today.  It includes the major divisions of a navy, how they are organized into fleets, task forces, and battlegroups, how one is inducted into either the enlisted, commissioned officer, or warrant officer ranks, how the rank structures are different for fleet, aerospace, and marine arms, what ranks and billets hold what levels of command, and even a sample of the rank insignia (although these would vary from nation to nation, of course.

Also includes the corporate “rank structure.”  😀

Sample page – full doc linked above.

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.4)

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.3)

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 10
4 Comments

In response to requests from community members who’ve been following this project, I’m continuing to publish the background of the Darkstar universe.

This third part includes an overview of “Known Space,” the general layout of the how far mankind has pushed out into the stars in the Darkstar universe, what the colonies are like, what the fleets are like, and with what general “densities” and command structures they tend to work at in these different “distance brackets.”

Hope you enjoy!

Sample page below, please click on the file above for the full .pdf document to read. 😀

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.3)

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.2)

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 11
4 Comments

In response to requests from several Beasts of War community members who’ve been following this project, I’m continuing to publish the background of the Darkstar universe.

This second part includes an overview of the “Ten Powers,” the major factions of Known Space that players can fight for in the Darkstar universe.

There are also hints as “sub factions” such as Commonwealth states of the UK, pirates, privateers, several companies of the “Corporate Consortium” and the new “rebel power” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State.

Re-uploaded to correct a few typos in the text.  😀

Below is just a sample image, please click on the .pdf above for the full document and enjoy!  😀

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.2)

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.1)

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 11
4 Comments

In response to requests from several Beasts of War community members who’ve been following this project, I’ve started publishing the background of the Darkstar universe.

Apologies it took so long, please understand that these docs were written several years ago for a much more limited audience, before putting them up for general publication I wanted to clean them up just a little.  Furthermore, such efforts were slowed somewhat since I was working on the Kursk article series.

This first part includes a very broad overview of the history of Darkstar – from the present day through the early 2500s.  Future parts talk about the factions, Known Space, Naval Organization, and Darkstar Tech.

These are just some sample pages, click the .pdf above for the full document.  Again, this is just the first section, there is much more to come.

Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.1)
Darkstar - Background and Setting (Sect 1.1)

Darkstar - Sample Starship Commanders Career Tracking Sheet

Tutoring 7
Skill 10
Idea 10
2 Comments
Darkstar - Sample Starship Commanders Career Tracking Sheet

Good afternoon ~

Okay, for those who might be interested, here is what one of our starship commander “career tracker” sheets look like.

Obviously, this sheet is for some of our most advanced (i.e., oldest) “characters,” who have been in plenty of wars, conflicts, battles, and campaigns, and have the experience points and upgrades to prove it.

So obviously the first thing listed is the commander’s name, followed by his rank.  We use a standardized US Navy / Royal Navy navy rank system for all factions except the corporate consortium, but even their levels are all the same (just with different names).

There are also “ratings” for battlegroup commander, task force commander, and fleet commander.  This represents the size of the force that commander is eligible to lead from his flagship.  Battlegroups are up to 250 points, task forces to 500 points, and fleets 501+ points.

For instance, as the skipper of a destroyer, Matthew Spencer started his “career” as a Commander.  His first promotion was for a Commander (Battlegroup), then Captain.  Because he’d already paid for his “Battlegroup” rating, he took it with him to Captain.  Then he was “promoted” again to “Captain / Task Force,” which was required when his force got so expensive (through upgrades, etc) that it became worth more than 250 points.

Hence, he’s been promoted three times.

Next is the ship he commands, obviously USS Oriskany and the US Navy pennant / registry number (DSGN-791).  Notice some of these commanders have replacements and transfers.  Replacements are for when a ships is destroyed and must be replaced, transfers are for when a commander willingly switches ships or is promoted to a new class of warship (e.g., destroyer to light cruiser).

This is important to track while transfers are unlimited (within reason), replacements are limited to three in a career.  After you lose three ships, the Admiralty “promotes you behind a desk” where you can’t do any more damage.

Next are the wars the commander has been in, followed by the number of battles and the number of campaign points he’s earned, followed by the number of campaign points he’s spent and the upgrades he/she has bought with these campaign points.

This is system is actually quite simple.  You get 1 point for taking your ship into an actual battle, win, lose, or draw.  If you’re on the winning side, you get 2 points.  Sometimes I give out extra points for truly large battles, kickass exploits, at the end of a war, etc.

With every 6 points, you get to buy one of the upgrades.

Note some commanders (Commander R. Cruz, for example) started with some points already in the bank.  This is because, if you lose a character (death or mandatory retirement), you get to start a new commander with 1/2 however many points the former character had, and at least one rank lower.  So losing a Captain with 24 campaign points (ouch!) allowed me to start a Commander with 12 points.

The stars under the character name actually tracks the upgrades the character / ship has bought.  Each gold star represents five upgrades (30 campaign points, or about 20 games / battles).  Silver stars are one upgrade (6 campaign points, usually about 4 battles).

Finally, underneath we have a write up we sometimes add to provide narrative for our commanders.

There are about 20 such pages between myself and all the other players who have helped play, develop, and revise Darkstar over the years.

Hope you found it interesting!

 

 

 

 

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

Tutoring 6
Skill 10
Idea 12
6 Comments

Light Fleet Carrier Clash
Japan and Imperial Prussia vs. Holy Russian Empire
Lehmburg Epsilon - Neu Bremerhaven (Gleise 581) System
@Oriskany vs. @Aras

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

SITUATION:  The “Iron Wolf” coalition of Imperial Prussia, the New Roman Alliance, Japan, and the Khitan-Tunguska Free State (Black Dragons) finds itself in dire trouble in the War of Annabel’s Star.  They still haven’t recovered from their defeat at the Battle of Tsarina Twins, and now the defeat of the New Roman Leclerc battlegroup in the outer protoplanetary debris belt of the Neu-Bremerhaven star system (Gleise 581) has left Prussian colonies in that system badly exposed to further attacks by British, Panasian League, and Russian naval forces of “Duchess Annabel’s Alliance.”  Furthermore, if Neu-Bremerhaven falls, this would open the way opens the way to the Eisenwolf Colonies of Gliese 570, the main Imperial Prussian stronghold here in the Libra-Sagittarius region.

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)
Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

Making matters worse, the Annabel’s Alliance has reinforced the British and Panasian naval forces already in Neu-Bremerhaven with ships from the Holy Russian Empire, namely the Suvorov battlegroup, further reinforced with the Gagarin-class light fleet carrier CPK Kamarov.  Clearly they hope to crack the Iron Wolves in Neu-Bremerhaven right away, perhaps to use the system as a springboard for invasion directly into Eisenwolf Colony itself.

Clearly the Iron Wolves have to act to redress the situation.  Although scheduled for a long-overdue refit, the Kanoya light carrier battlegroup of the Japanese Navy is sent to head off the continuing Annabel’s Alliance incursion deeper into Neu-Bremerhaven.  Pushing out of the system’s outer debris belt, the invaders’ first stop is the outer gas giant of Lehmburg.  This is where the Konoya battlegroup resolves to make the intercept.  But the reinforce Suvorov battlegroup is too strong a force for the Kanoya and her escorts to stop alone, so the Prussians agree to commit their light cruiser Rossbach.

This combined Japanese-Prussian force find the Russians  as the Suvorov task force in the eclipse shadow of the fifth moon of the Lehmburg gas giant, Lehmburg Epsilon.  As the Iron Wolves vector in, the Russians do not raise steam to escape, but instead power up weapons to engage in battle …

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)
Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

REPORT:  There’s no two ways to put this, the Russians just have an absurdly bad day here.  Their tactics are sound.  They set a very high speed toward the Japanese carrier force, successfully engaging them with close-range gunnery and torpedo fire before their carriers can launch too many aerospace missile and torpedo strikes against them.

Likewise, the Komarov gets her strike wing launched quickly, and scores a solid torpedo and aerospace missile barrage on the Kanoya.

But nothing goes right.  The torpedoes under perform, and even those that hit just fail to strike vital areas of the ship.  Despite having closed the range and despite upgraded gunnery targeting and crews, the plasma projectors and rail guns of the Syekyra and Rusalka just can’t hit anything.  Where the Suvorov scores hits, the explosions cavitate back out into space or into areas already destroyed by prior torpedo hits.  Even when the Komarov lands part of her Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bomber wing to rearm, a broadside from the Rossbach actually hits the starboard hangar, venting the compartment as the bombers are being re-armed and setting off gigantic internal explosions of aerospace ordinance in the hangar itself.

Not to take anything away from the Japanese or the light cruiser Rossbach, their tactics and performance in this battle are first-rate.  The scrappy little frigates Yurakazu and Tanakasha slug it out with Russian destroyers twice their size, and although the Tanakasha is knocked out, the Yurakazu fights on with nearly superhuman resilience, absorbing punishment that should have crippled a light cruiser yet somehow she remains operational.  The Konoya is eventually damaged to the point where she has to break off, and much of her fighter group is shot down by Komarov’s MiG-103 “Tunguska” aerospace strike fighters, but really it’s the only success the Russians score that day.

The surviving Russians soon break off, again swallowing bitter defeat and giving up their push into the moons of Lehmburg or the other outer planets of the Neu-Bremerhaven system, falling back again to the tankers and support ships that Annabel’s Alliance has staged in Gliese 581’s outer debris disc and cometary halo.

SCORING: Remaining in the battle area, the Iron Wolves have the light cruiser Rossbach (70 points), light carrier Sagae (28 points), assault frigate Tanakasha (24 points), plus three regular fighters, eight regular bombers (22 points), ten elite fighters, four elite bombers (42 points) bombers, plus four regular and seven regular scouts and two elite scouts (14 points) = 200 points, Russians have 9 scouts.  Iron Wolves win by 191 points, Major Victory.

 

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

Just a quick look at how terrible my luck was (playing the Russians).  In this last image, you can see the green “3” marker heading behind the small Japanese frigate (FF2) – that’s the Akashi-class strike frigate Yurakazu.  I started with 12 torpedoes, but mass drivers of the Yurakasu and the Rossbach (Prussian “CL1” ship) shot down most of them.  Only three remain, hence the “3” counter.

No worries, Class III torpedoes have a base to hit of 7, and the aft ECM / Shields of this ship are 4, upgraded to 5.  So with 7 – 5 = 2, my odds aren’t great (I have to roll a 2 or less on a d10), but with three tries, I hope to get at least one of them.  One is all it will take, these are pretty powerful torpedoes and the armor of the Yurakazu has already been pretty badly hammered.

Not only do all three of my torpedoes miss, but they miss with 10s, the worst possible roll.  THREE TENS!  Literally a one-in-a-thousand bad luck roll!

Like it said in the write-up, it just wasn’t the Russians’ day.

Darkstar Battle Report (played 24June2018)

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion

Tutoring 6
Skill 10
Idea 10
7 Comments

Darkstar Battle Report - End of the Scorpio Tail War

The Battle of Xenia’s Fortune, between the Black Dragons of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State and Task Force “Oriskany” of the United States Navy (18 October 2518) concludes …

The captain of the cruiser Xin Tian takes command of Black Dragon force, coming hard about and trying to consolidate with the frigate Natelyeva and destroyer Xianhoa.   The Valley Forge, now the only American destroyer left, cuts in behind them, hoping for another broadside into engines and reactors.  The Tarawa stays alongside for defensive fire support, too far away to recover her bombers for a second strike.  The Daggerfish continues to lurk half-hidden behind asteroid fields, locking on successive torpedo spreads.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion

The US Marine fighters, meanwhile, are lined up on a gunnery strafing run behind the frigate Natelyeva, only to have six of them shot down by Black Dragon point-defense fire.  Those that remain, however, tear into the Natelyeva, opening a big enough hole to where their carrier’s torpedo spread hits a moment later and cripples the Black Dragon frigate.  Overall,  however, this is a bad trade for the Americans, losing over half of an elite Marine strike squadron for one enemy frigate.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion

Meanwhile, a second smaller battle no less vicious breaks out behind another of the nearby planetismals, where Black Dragon scouts have engaged the Marine Grumman FS/A-81 “Avenger” torpedo bombers trying to get back to the Tarawa.  Two are shot down, while the Marine scouts likewise manage to shoot down two of the Black Dragons’ scouts.

Things turn around, however, as torpedo hits, rail gun impacts, and laser fire from the Valley Forge likewise leave the Xin Tian afire and adrift a moment later, thanks in no small part to devastating torpedoes launched from the corvette Daggerfish.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion
Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion

In that moment, this battle is more or less won by the Americans.  With only the destroyer Xianhoa still operational, supported by less than a dozen scouts, the Black Dragons are seeking only to keep this from turning into an outright rout.  In this they are successful, thanks in part to some rather dim American decisions later in the battle.

First of all, the Tarawa all but breaks off the engagement, heading off on a different vector to recover her remaining bombers (her captain perhaps shocked by the losses his pilots have just sustained).  This leaves the Valley Forge alone against a torpedo spread  from the Xianhoa, which finally scores some lucky hits along with a nasty broadside Xianhoa manages to put across Valley Forge’s engineering sect  ion.  This costs the Valley Forge her aft shields, a vulnerability exploited by the Black Dragon scouts, who start murderous (if desperate) strafing runs.  The Valley Forge cannot fire her mass driver defense guns at these scouts, as they are needed to fend off successive torpedo strikes form the Xianhoa, which has now slid up beside more Xenia’s Fortune asteroids to screen her own damaged stern.  The Valley Forge has no fighter cover since the “Tigerhsark” Marines are off chasing the crippled Natelyeva and Xin Tian, hoping to actually explode one of these derelicts.  Not only do they fail in this effort, but leave the Valley Forge unprotected and she finally goes down to a lucky strafing run by some of the last Black Dragon scouts.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion
Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART TWO) - Conclusion

All the same, this battle is a clear American victory.  Even as she’s picked apart by the harrying scouts behind her, the Valley Forge’s last torpedoes and a torpedoes from her and the Daggerfish smash into Xianhoa’s starboard quarter and all but blow the ship in half.

At last, the Battle of Xenia’s Fortune is over, and with it (as subsequent events will bear out) so ends the Scorpion’s Tail War.

Result:  Americans have operational: the light carrier Tarawa, the corvette Daggerfish, four double-elite fighters, two double-elite bombers, two double-elite scouts, and six regular scouts = 40 + 12 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 6 = 86 points.  Black Dragons have four regular scouts = 4 points.  Americans win by 82 points, a minor victory.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

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Darkstar Battle Report - End of the Scorpion's Tail War

With the recent win over the Black Dragons’ Ostovny battlegroup, the Americans at last are nearing the precipice of final victory in the Scorpion’s Tail War.  And it’s not a moment too soon.  As the nearby Duchess Annabel’s War begins to heat up, the unbelievable news soon arrives that through a labyrinthine web of political ironies, the Japanese have actually joined the “Iron Wolves” alliance alongside the Black Dragons.  Needless to say, the Americans in Xi Scorpio are beginning to feel understandably anxious about the security of their base of operations “behind” them on Japan’s Hokkaido’s Flower colony.  Although the Japanese  are so far doing very well in Duchess Annabel’s War and are nowhere near being forced into any additional concessions to  their Black Dragon “allies,” for the Americans the writing is on the war.  This whole astropolitical quagmire (and military train wreck) of the Black Dragon Wars was never an American affair, and it’s time to be done with it before their Japanese allies have to reassess their relationships in the region.

Yet as much as the Americans would love to deliver a final knock-out blow to the weakened Black Dragon naval forces still clinging to the outermost extremities of the “Scorpion’s Tail,” (a vast protoplanetary and cometary debris “whiplash” extending out from the Kostas-Saigo binary star system – Xi Scorpio A/B), they have to wait.  Only the USS Oriskany is presently operational, and legendary as she may be, she can’t beat even a weakened navy by herself.  Soon her sistership USS Princeton is back online, having missed the battle against the Ostovny battlegroup on September 20.  But while Captain Matthew Spencer (commander, Task Force Oriskany) feels confident with two destroyers to at least begin more aggressive patrolling, he doesn’t want to move decisively until he task forces is at 100% strength.

This takes some time, and it’s not until October 10 that all five ships of the task force are back on line.  Yet while Spencer’s patience has indeed delivered him a full-strength order of battle, the Black Dragons have also been hard at work repairing ships, and soon have a sizable force yet again on its feet in the outermost reaches of the Scorpion’s Tail.

Fortunately for Spencer, he already has a target identified, one of the larger dwarf planetismals of the Scorpion’s Tail, the thousand-kilometer “Ceres” of Xenia’s Fortune (named for a merchant ship that once crashed here, her wreckage still half-buried in one of the super-asteroid’s craters).  Here the Black Dragons have been building up a sizable task force around the hated light missile cruiser Zhang Jia. If this war is to end anywhere, it is here.

Yet as Spencer’s task force drops out of its Darkstar wave and vectors towards the Black Dragons, its quickly apparent that the enemy has been gathering additional reinforcements, some of which have only just arrived.  Three light cruisers are awaiting at Xenia’s Fortune, along with two destroyers, a frigate and an old Russian torpedo corvette.

In all twelve ships have gathered here … all of Task Force Oriskany and the vast bulk of what the Black Dragons have left in the Scorpion’s Tail.  If the Americans lose here, they’ll have to give up much of what they’ve won in this war so far.  But if they can score a solid win, this war could finally end today.

The Black Dragons make their approach, hugging close to Xenia’s Fortune, launching scouts and trying to get a torpedo guidance lock on the approaching Americans.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

Only some of their ships can get that lock, however, as Spencer has carefully vectored his approach behind one of the area’s many asteroid scatters, screening his ships from some of the enemy task force while allowing a full torpedo firing solution to on the trailing Black Dragon vessels.

The Americans release a full torpedo spread while the Tarawa begins launching her aerospace group (US Marine Corps aerospace strike squadron VMF/A-319 “Tigersharks”).

In this image, DD1 = USS Oriskany, DD2 = USS Princeton, DD3 = USS Valley Forge, DD4 = light carrier (destroyer class) USS Tarawa, and CV1 (barely visible) = torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

The Valley Forge takes some long-range hits from the Zhang Jia, while the forward guns of the Valley Forge, Princeton, and especially the Oriskany slash into the K-206.  Even from 2,500 kilometers, the pin-point accuracy of this American volley (enhanced with upgraded targeting suites) enough to hit K-206’s bridge, detonate her starboard magazine, and leave the ship crippled and adrift.  First blood has been drawn.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

The two minutes that follow see both sides take incredible risks and pay an incredible price in their effort to win decisive victory here at Xenia’s Fortune.

As the K-206 careens out of control, the light cruisers Xin Tian and Petranyevska shoot forward, hoping to get around the asteroids behind which the Americans are screening their ships.  This allows USS Valley Forge to cut ahead and behind these cruisers with a starboard turn, presenting a broadside to the cruisers’ vulnerable sterns, and at a comfortable distance (the Americans don’t want to get too close to the fearsome Chinese rail guns and Russian plasma projectors).

Other Black Dragon warships, of course, see the Valley Forge make this move.  Rather than stay close with Petranyevska and Xin Tian, they instead fire their engines full astern, “slamming on the brakes” to drop in perfectly behind the Valley Forge.  The damage they will inflict on any American ships in this position will be horrendous, but it also means their fleet is fatally divided in the face of a massive incoming American torpedo and aerospace strike.  Since all the ships will not be able to support each other with defensive fire …

Too late now.  The Americans and Black Dragons both double down on their aggressive strategies, the Americans putting virtually their whole task force in a broadside behind the Petranyevska, the Black Dragons likewise doing so with most of their force behind the Americans.  All the while, of course, torpedoes are racing toward their targets, the Tarawa has completed her aerospace launch, and the Tigersharks of VMF/A-319 release a deadly swarm of ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes and ASM-92 Hellfire missiles at the Zhang Jia and her escorts.

The USS Oriskany and Princeton open fire first, lasers and rail guns tearing into the stern of the Petranyevksa’s stern at just over 1,000 kilometers.  An instant later the full broadside of the hated Zhang Jia tears full-force into the Oriskany.  First come three of her Tsing Tao missiles, (over sixty warheads were fired at her) ripping open her stern for the fusillade of rail guns that follows.  Engines are hit, reactors overload.  Oriskany’s starboard reactor starts to melt, the port reactor has to be ejected before it overloads and detonates.  Still more fire hits, crushing sensors, mass drivers, aft turrets, and caving in crew quarters.  The “Lady O” is beyond crippled, her whole aft section more or less single sheet of flame as burning atmosphere escapes into space.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518
Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

Yet even as this happens, Oriskany’s own spread of torpedoes, along with the Valley Forge’s, is slamming into the fantail of the Zhang Jia.  The damage isn’t quite as comprehensive, but the torpedoes set off enough internal explosions to cripple Zhang Jia’s power plant and leave her wrecked and adrift in space.

The slaughter is just getting started.  Seconds later, Xianhoa, Gorokhov, and Natelyeva likewise take apart Princeton’s aft superstructure, instantly knocking her out of the battle.  The Valley Forge opens fire into the Petranyeska, scoring a lucky series of hits that finishes what the Oriskany and Princeton started moments before.  The engines of Petranyeska flicker and die, the cruiser careening out of control.  The missiles and torpedoes of the Tarawa’s Marine aerospace strike slam into the destroyer Gorokhov, damned near blowing the destroyer’s stern clean off and almost exploding the ship right then and there.

Twelve ships sortied for battle at Xenia’s Fortune, and already six are put out of action.

Battle of Xenia's Fortune (PART ONE) - 18 October 2518

Darkstar - Weekend Update

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Good afternoon, all ~ Okay, people have been asking for more of a detailed look into the rules on Darkstar – here is the primary QRS that drives 95% of actual tabletop play.

A little rough around the edges from a graphic design perspective, but this thing is constantly being updated as we drill down through the smaller and smaller flaws and tweaks of the 2.0 Edition gameplay.

So along the top is base to hit targets (d10) to hit at certain range brackets.  These are modified by enemy ECM / gravitic shielding (usually -4 through -6).

Along the left is the cost to make a 1-hexside facing change depending on the velocity of your ship.  Obviously the faster you are moving, the harder it is to make hairpin maneuvers.

Tables are also provided for torpedo movement and hit resolution, and of course for mass driver (point defense).  This has been one of the biggest changes in 2.0 Edition.  Whereas before each mass driver would fire separately  (bucketfuls of d10s) here there is a simple chart where a ships TOTAL mass driver value is pre-calculated and rolled on this chart to see how many torpedoes or aerospace craft are hit.  We’re looking a d6 table, with heavy modifiers possible.

Starship elimination table, of “Death Table” follows.  The “Target to Disable” is a d6 roll and enemy commander needs to kill a certain class of ship.  Obviously, for a battleship you can’t roll 19+ on a d6.  But you subtract from that target how critical damage boxes (engines, reactors, magazines) have been hit, and that’s you’re roll.  So knock out 13 critical hit boxes on a battleship (good luck with that) and that 19+ becomes a 6+, remotely possible on a d6.

By way of contrast, a much smaller destroyer like USS Oriskany starts with a 7+.  Hit just ONE engine, reactor, or magazine box and the ship now has to roll a 6+ to be crippled.

If you really beat the hell out of a ship to where that d6+ roll us adjusted to “0+” or below, and there’s a chance the ship simply explodes.

Core damage is another type of damage box, deep within the ship.  While not “Critical” and may not cause the ship to explode, it can definitely cause the ship to be FORCED to break off (first officer takes over, the ship’s AI automatically pilots the ship away from danger, the fleet commander ORDERS you to break off, etc).  These core boxes are usually things like med bays, life support, the bridge, etc.

There are also charts for the collateral damage the ship does to other nearby ships if its explodes.  Controlled fusion is the main power source in this verse, and if that becomes uncontrolled, there’s a thermonuclear explosion that can really damage other ships (especially small ones) if they are too close.

Finally there is a Starship Recovery Table, where players see whether or not their crippled (not exploded) ships are recovered after the battle, or scuttled, or picked off by enemy ships, or captured, or simply “lost in space.”

Tables for Aerospace Craft (fighters, bombers, scouts, assault boats) and the game effects of certain hits within a starship are also listed.

There are many many MANY more charts in this game, but they deal mostly with campaign play, character progression, starship engineering and design, etc.

Darkstar - Weekend Update

Meanwhile, we have a pretty big game set up for today!  The full “Oriskany Task Force” is ready for action, a game I don’t get to play very often because these ships are so friggin’ elite and upgraded they’re very expensive to bring on the table (and no one wants to fight against them).  We’re looking at Valcour-class destroyers USS Oriskany (DSGN-791), USS Princeton (DSGN-782), and USS Valley Forge (DSGN-794).  There’s also the Marine assault ship USS Tarawa (ASCV-943), deployed here in a light carrier role, and the torpedo corvette (think WW2 submarine) USS Daggerfish (SSGN-871).  Also shown are the scouts launched from these destroyers (E/S-71 “Hawkeye”), as well as the fighters (F/S-44 “Corsair”) and bombers (F/SA-81 “Avenger”) of Marine aerospace strike squadrom VMF/A-391 “Tigersharks.”

We are heavily outgunned by the enemy force facing up today (commanded by the evil and treacherous “Commodore @Gladesrunner “) – but again, just about everything there is very elite and heavily upgraded, allowing us to really punch above our weight.  We’re also much faster, and all have upgraded thrusts and tactical initiative bonuses, so this will definitely be a game of lightfooted maneuver vs. gigantic advantages in weight, armor, and weapons.

Darkstar - Weekend Update

The enemy fleet.  As discussed in previous posts, the “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State are made up of colonies that rebelled against the Holy Russian Empire and the Panasian League, so most of their ships are Russian or Chinese in design.  We have the dreaded Zhang Jia and Xin Tian, both Xhia-class light missile cruisers, along with the Nanchong-class destroyer Xianhoa.  The Russian part of the fleet is the Kutuzov-class light cruiser Petranyevska, the Sovnya-class destroyer Gorokhov, the Novgorod class frigate Irynova, and the K-56 class torpedo corvette K-206.

In all, 366 points per side.  I hope to score a win here, not only to give my Americans more campaign points, but a solid win here also ends the “Scorpion’s Tail” war I still have in progress.  From a “meta perspective” I’d like to wrap up this war once and for all so I can focus more on the Duchess Annabel’s War we’ve been posting about lately (and we have another few games scheduled for tomorrow).  😀

WISH ME LUCK!

Darkstar - Weekend Update

Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War

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Skill 11
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Full Scale War in Progress in Libra, Saggitarius, Ara, Scorpio Constellations! Five Factions Engaged! Five Battles Reported So Far!

Good afternoon ~ Okay, for those who are curious 0 here is how a Darkstar Campaign is generally set up, played out, and recorded.  The attached .pdf includes the first 10 pages of a campaign currently in progress between myself, BoW: Gladesrunner, BoW: Aras, and one other player.

Sample pages of the .pdf are laid out as images below.

Again, this campaign is not complete, and won’t be complete for weeks, if not months.  If anything, it’s just getting started.  I have the general idea of posting updates to this project so we can all publish our progress and community members can follow along and see how this war across the stars unfolds!

Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War
Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War
Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War
Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War
Darkstar Campaign Log - Duchess Annabel's War

War of Annabel's Star (2518-2519)

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Skill 12
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Campaign Setting Map for Darkstar

War of Annabel's Star (2518-2519)

Here is the campaign map for the Darkstar campaign currently underway between myself, @gladesrunner and @aras.  The lower left corner marks Earth’s location, the rest are real stars and their approximate locations in the Libra, Ara, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.  I don’t pretend to be good at trigonometry or plotting the declination, distance, and right ascension coordinates of these stars, but this is the general idea of what’s out there in these directions and in these distance ranges.

There’s a lot more being put together for this particular setting, explaining the background for the war, the factions involved, how it started, and what the different factions each hope to get out of the war (and how it ties the opposing coalitions together).  Not quite ready for publication yet, as they campaign is still in progress and in fact only in the very early stages.

Darkstar Warship Design: Foch-Hispaniola Class Light Cruiser

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Darkstar Warship Design: Foch-Hispaniola Class Light Cruiser

The Foch class light cruisers of the New Roman Alliance are some of the most modern warships currently in operation.  With a next-generation power plant, they also mount advanced sensors, targeting electronics, and CIC comnav, all while being among the fastest cruisers in Known Space, able to keep pace with most classes of destroyers.

For armament, the Foch class carries eight 7-gigawatt rail guns (probably the “oldest style” tech aboard).  These are arrayed in a typical pattern of double turrets, backed up by a formidable pair of 12 MgKv laser emitters that look like they belong on a battleship.  Manufactured my Matra Aerospace Dynamics, they can burn through almost any known armor at optimum range, and cleave through a destroyer at ranges exceeding 4500 kilometers.  The Dassault-Thales manufactured CIC suite also ensures that the Foch can hit targets at this range, while the immense quad-array of engines gives the ship the thrust to escape whatever it can’t kill.

Although part of the New Roman Alliance, all Foch class light cruisers are named for French commanders and battles of the First and Second World Wars, and are almost exclusively crewed by men and women of French or French Canadian descent, who take such a pride in their heritage that they have almost formed a “navy within a navy.”  Since the class carries no torpedoes and has extensive cargo carrying capacity, it is expected that these ships will also serve as flagships for small battle groups in the Third Band of Space or even beyond, expanding the dominion of the New Roman Alliance ever deeper into the stars.

The ships also have greatly expanded passenger bays, and their plush accommodations go a long way in furthering the New Roman Alliance’s reputation for elite decadence.  Indeed, one Russian prisoner wisecracked that when he was brought aboard the NRS Leclerc during the Olympian Path War, he thought he’d been brought aboard a luxury liner.  While these accommodations certainly don’t do much for the Foch’s combat effectiveness, it can’t be denied that whenever Roman nobles,  dignitaries, or ambassadors have to make an protected voyage, they request a Foch class light cruiser.

Indeed, the class became so popular that the Spanish began building their own line, known as the Hispaniola class, and an Italian line is rumored to be in the making.

Metrics:
Mass: 93,799 tons
Complement: 490 officers and men
Marines: 40
Passengers: 60
Sublight thrust:64
Darkstar Wave: 10th (x300 c)
Aerospace: (2) scouts, (1) 1,200-ton cutter, (1) 4,000 ton yacht
Bridge / CIC: +2 Next Gen
Powerplant: Enhanced Next Gen (3640 power)

ECM & Gravitic Shielding:
• Bow: 4
• P Bow: 4
• S Bow: 4
• P Quarter: 4
• S Quarter: 4
• Stern: 4

Armament:
• Turret – x2 7-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
• Turret – x2 7-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
• Turret – x2 7-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
• Turret – x2 7-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
• Turret – x2 12-megakelvin lasers (bow)
• Turret – x2 12-megakelvin lasers (stern)
• Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (bow)
• Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (p bow)
• Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (s bow)
• Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (p quarter)
• Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (s quarter)
• Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (stern)

Ships in Class:
• CL307 – NRS Foch – 2507, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL308 – NRS Joffre – 2508, Littorio Colony, Capella Lambda
• CL309 – NRS Petain – 2509, Gallileo Station, Ganymede
• CL310 – NRS Marne – 2510, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL311 – NRS Verdun – 2510, Littorio Colony, Capella Lambda
• CL312 – NRS Reims – 2511, Gallileo Station, Ganymede
• CL313 – NRS Versailles – 2512, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL314 – NRS Somme – 2512, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL315 – NRS Leclerc – 2513, Littorio Colony, Capella Lambda
• CL316 – NRS Bir Hacheim – 2514, Gallileo Station, Ganymede

Parallel Production (Spanish Hispaniola Class)
• CL341 – NRS Hispaniola – 2506, Gallileo Station, Ganymede
• CL342 – NRS Cadiz – 2507, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL343 – NRS Córdoba – 2508, Littorio Colony, Capella Lambda
• CL344 – NRS Granada – 2509, Gallileo Station, Ganymede
• CL345 – NRS Alicante – 2510, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth
• CL346 – NRS Cartegena – 2510, Littorio Colony, Capella Lambda
• CL347 – NRS Barcelona – 2511, Gallileo Station, Ganymede
• CL348 – NRS Zaragoza – 2512, Nuovo Sardinia Shipyards, Earth

Darkstar - Battle Report

Tutoring 8
Skill 12
Idea 13
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David & Goliath: USS Oriskany vs. KTS Koloslavo in Gas Giant Atmosphere

MISSION: INTERDICT ENEMY REINFORCEMENTS TO THREATENED STAR SYSTEM

Nazarovo Gas Giant // Heilong-Novopromorskiy

(Xi Scorpio A/B Binary Star System) // 02 April, 2518

Even two weeks after their devastating defeat in the gigantic Battle of Tamakura, the Khitan-Tunguska Free State is still dragging its feet regarding the initiation of peace talks with the Japanese-American “Pacific Alliance” in Xi Scorpio.  Clearly their intention is to forestall further Pacific Alliance advances into Heilong-Novopromorskiy binary star system (Xi Scorpio A/B, their last holdings in Xi Scorpio), while scrambling to repair ships crippled at the Battle of Tamakura or even bring in additional warships from other fronts.

The newly-reinstated Japanese colonial administration of Hokkaido’s Flower (finally back on its feet) is not having it.  Captains Ozawa and Chealtham are ordered to exert additional pressure in “Hei-Novo” star system (Xi Scorpio A/B) to bring the Black Dragons to the negotiating table. With destroyers like the USS Princeton, Valley Forge, the light carrier Tarawa, and light fleet carrier Nagashima now repaired and moving back into the nearby Jade Dawn star system (Xi Scorpio C), Japanese and American naval commanders feel more confident to get aggressive in Hei-Novo.

Yet just at this moment, USS Oriskany is the only warship the Pacific Alliance has in Hei Novo, and even she has just been delicately repaired her bruising punching match with the Zhui Kang Station. The Japanese destroyer IJN Kikasa (damaged much worse in this late engagement) is being escorted back for repairs by the frigates John Young and Ronald Evans, and the rest of the aforementioned Pacific Alliance ships are still being brought up to Jade Dawn after repairs at Hokkaido’s Flower.

Nevertheless, Captain Matthew Spencer of the Oriskany soon has a target in his sights. The massive 168,000-ton Slava class heavy cruiser Koloslavo, hulking veteran of battles like Shomiyama and Tamakura, has been detected in the eclipse shadow of the Nazarovo gas giant.  Clearly the Black Dragons are desperate, Koloslavo has been brought back “into service” without an escort, or even fully repaired.

On the other hand, attacking a heavy cruiser with only a destroyer is borderline madness. But this is the USS Oriskany, probably the most decorated, upgraded, experienced, and famous destroyer in the United States Navy.

The Koloslavo spots the Oriskany vectoring toward her, and dips down into the turbulent, lightning-shredded clouds of the Nazarovo gas giant. Their hope is that the lighting and clouds will blur out Oriskany’s clear edge in electronics, leaving the battle as a simple slugging match of gunnery which the Koloslavo will win every time. If nothing else, the lightning will damage a smaller ship like Oriskany much more than the massive Koloslavo.

Spencer puts his ship at general quarters and orders all ahead flank, aiming her prow straight down into the Nazarovo storm clouds.  Can the Oriskany take down this damaged giant in an epic “David & Goliath” showdown?

Darkstar - Battle Report

As the USS Oriskany approaches the Nazarovo gas giant, her sensors detect (as expected) the massive heavy cruiser KTS Koloslavo lurking in the storm-shredded, lightning-scorched atmosphere.  The cruiser is vectored with her prow upward, engines down into the gas giant’s denser cloud layers.  Clearly her captain hopes to protect some of her damaged shields (starboard bow, port quarter, stern) and discourage the Oriskany from cutting across her stern, or at least forcing her deep into the dangerous Nazarovo atmosphere to do so.  Also, the huge cruiser can withstand the planet’s lightning much better than the smaller Oriskany, so the Koloslavo is content to force Spencer to take Oriskany “down into the soup” to engage.

Spencer has no problem with the idea.  Screaming down at near-suicidal 60 kilometers per second, Oriskany streaks toward Nazarovo in a powered dive.  Initially positioned to greet the Oriskany with a long range broadside, already Koloslavo’s aft-mounted guns, plasma projectors, and torpedo tubes are no longer able to come to bear.  But she has plenty of forward guns, blasting up out of the Nazarovo atmosphere at 4,000 kilometers.  One 10gw rail gun bolt not only hits the Oriskany at this incredible speed and distance, but also right on the armor protecting her bridge.  Clearly the Koloslavo’s gunners have had their coffee this morning.

Darkstar - Battle Report

With all engines now full-astern in a maximum deceleration curve, Oriskany rolls over to port and dive-bombs straight down into the Nazarovo atmosphere.  A second salvo from Koloslavo’s forward guns miss, as does a ripple-chain of incredibly powerful lightning.  Oriskany slings out a full spread of Mk 48 gravitic torpedoes while her forward guns ping away at Koloslavo’s thickly-armored port bow.

Spencer knows he is playing a very dangerous game.  If damage from Koloslavo’s withering batteries shut down Oriskany’s power, there is no chance to save the ship.  Screaming at nearly 30 kps straight down into the gravity well of a gas giant, the 48,000 ton destroyer will be crushed like an egg shell in a matter of minutes in the titanic heat, pressure, and winds of Nazarovo’s lower atmospheric layers.  Already Oriskany’s leading edges are glowing a dull red, the ship’s velocity just short of actually burning off layers of the ship’s hull.

Darkstar - Battle Report

Oriskany is heading straight for the Koloslavo.  At the last moment, she makes a port turn, the planet’s gravity still pulling her straight down.  Thus, the Oriskany is actually flying partly sideways as she screams past the Koloslavo, giving her a split-second opportunity to put a broadside straight into the massive cruiser’s stern.

Oriskany’s torpedoes hit first.  Only one is shot down by the Koloslavo’s mass drivers, her point-defense system apparently nowhere near as proficient as her main turret gunners.  Meanwhile, twelve P-500 warheads of the Koloslavo are headed for Oriskany.  Seven are shot down, and the remaining five are turned aside by the “Lady O’s” upgraded ECM suite.

Only two of Oriskany’s torpedoes actually hit the Koloslavo, however, badly damaging the armor but not getting to any of her reactors or engines.  The guns do better, tearing through the weakened armor into the massive cruiser’s vitals and knocking down her aft shields.  But legendary as she may be, Oriskany is only a destroyer with 5gw rail guns and 6mk lasers.  Without landing a solid spread of torpedoes, she just doesn’t have the “punch weight” to take down a heavy cruiser in one salvo.

The Koloslavo, on the other hand, even with only her aft gun mounts, positively maul the Oriskany.  Within ten fiery seconds her forward shields are down, her port-side torpedo bays are hit, she loses mass drivers, maneuvering thrusters … internal explosions almost reach the forward magazines.  At less than 100km, a salvo of 10gw rail guns simply does terrible damage and again, the Koloslavo’s gunners are excellent.

Darkstar - Battle Report

Koloslavo Warship Record Sheet

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Skill 11
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Koloslavo Warship Record Sheet

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

Tutoring 6
Skill 11
Idea 11
11 Comments

David vs. Goliath - USS Oriskany vs. KTS Koloslavo in Gias Giant Atmosphere

The Oriskany, her port bow engulfed in a sheet of flame, continues to plummet past the Koloslavo.  Both ships are really in trouble here.  Oriskany’s enhanced engines fire full power and start to turn her again to port, but her speed is nearly out of control and she’s just lost some of her maneuvering thrusters.  This is a very bad time to lose the ability to turn.  The Koloslavo, meanwhile, with damaged engines, struggles to push her 168,000-ton bulk up out of the gas giant’s gravity.

The Koloslavo pours more power through her smoldering ion engines, executing a groaning s-turn to try an turn her exposed, unshielded fantail away from Oriskany.  The maneuver actually works, Oriskany is moving so fast, in such a dangerous direction, and with such damaged maneuvering thrusters, that she can only decelerate and make a slight turn to port, which still puts her on a course deeper into Nazarovo’s crushing gravity and with her stern facing directly toward Koloslavo’s full broadside (although at a range of 2,200 km, thankfully).  More rail guns and plasma slams into Oriskany, actually damaging her portside engines.  Yet again, Koloslavo’s gunners are on the money (scoring solid hits even with damaged sensors).

For a heartbeat, there’s a very real possibility that Oriskany could meet her end here at Nazarovo.  With her engines hit, there’s the danger of her losing power, a death sentence given her speed and vector … 2,500 km deep in the gas giant’s atmosphere.  Russian-made torpedoes also come in, and Oriskany loses more mass drivers, another shield …

Yet the “Lady O’s”  legendary luck holds out.  Her engineers maintain power.  An instant later, the last three torpedoes that were launched from her port side tubes (an instant before they were blown out of the ship’s hull) strike the Koloslavo’s unshielded stern.  Yet just as Koloslavo’s main armament gunners are dead-eyes, her mass driver gunners seem to be cross-eyed.  No torpedoes are shot down, and all three American warheads hit.

The battle is decided right there.  The torpedoes detonate in Koloslavo’s sensors, aft cargo bays, portside engines, and starboard reactors.  For a razor-edge moment, whether or not the ship loses power could really go either way, but again luck holds with the Oriskany and the Koloslavo goes dark.

In that moment, the massive ship is doomed.  Only moving at 12 kps, and still 900 kilometers in the atmosphere at too shallow of an ascent angle, she does not have the escape velocity or vector to break free.

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

The Oriskany, meanwhile, with two sensors arrays down, half her torpedoes gone, two 40mm mass driver turrets gone, two shields down, and streaming a sheet of fire fed by escaping atmosphere, heaves against her damaged engines and maneuvering thrusters to pull up and away from the Nazarovo abyss.  She isn’t free yet, she has to power up through 2,500 km of storm clouds and lightning, with the planet’s unforgiving gravity pulling down on her all the way.

Meanwhile, Koloslavo has already lost that battle.  Cutters, launches, and escape pods are soon streaming out of her stricken hull, her trajectory quickly slowing and arcing downward.

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

Two more minutes and Oriskany is almost clear.  One last bolt of storm cloud lightning hits her starboard bow, coring through the armor and venting her starboard cargo bay.  Finally she erupts free from Nazarovo, battered and scorched from stem to stern, trailing wreckage and flame, missing jagged slabs of armor plating, weapons, sensors, mass drivers, and maneuvering thrusters.  But she’s made it.

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

The Koloslavo, meanwhile, has finally been halted, now sucked inexorably downward to her grave.  Her crew has a full five minutes to abandon ship, so crew losses are actually surprisingly light (she carries 749 crew and 72 marines, most of which survive the day).  But for the proud ship herself there is just no escape.  She’s falling at over 18 kps when what’s left of her hull finally caves in, the wreckage vaporized in the unbelievable heat and pressure deep in the bowels of the Nazarovo gas giant some time later.

As for the Oriskany, she’ll need two days to limp back to Hokkaido’s Flower, and 28 days in dry dock to weld her charred, pitted, and perforated hull back together.  Fortunately, ships like the Princeton, Valley Forge, Takakawa, and Spokane are soon ready to take the place of the  OriskanyKikasa battlegroup in the “Hei-Novo” system (Xi Scorpio A/B), so the Pacific Alliance can continue to apply pressure toward peace talks with the Khitan-Tunguska Free State.

RESULT: Minor Pacific Alliance Victory

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

Darkstar - Taiho Class Light Cruiser

Tutoring 6
Skill 12
Idea 12
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Darkstar - Taiho Class Light Cruiser

The Taihō (“Great Phoenix”) class of light cruiser is one of the most modern warships of its size presently being produced by any navy.  The are sleek, fast for a cruiser, and beautiful.  Furthermore, they bristle with state of the art ECM emitters, shielding, and some of the most advanced target acquisition sensors in Known Space.  Although originally fitted with rail guns, the Taihō has since dispensed with such tradition in favor of a lighter, longer-ranged array of 8 MgKv laser emitters, backed up by powerful 60 eHz syglex emitters for carving off a target’s armor or damaging the larger components of bigger ships.  Even a medium-ranged broadside from a Taihō can easily burn through the hide of a comparable-sized ship, shaving down protection with her x-ray guns before punching into reactors, engines, and magazines with heavy lasers and of course the dreaded Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes.

These updates to the Taihō also saw new thinking in regards to the shielding and mass driver defenses.  Original ships of this class suffered heavily from Chinese, Prussian, and American torpedo strikes to their engines and gravity rudders, and so defenses in the aft quarters has been greatly increased.  However, a ship natually can’t be invulnerable everywhere, so forward protection is actually somewhat weak.  Lastly, the Taihō cruisers were upgraded to the newest “Seiku” (Clear Sky) targeting and fire control system, enough to partially suppress the ECM of even the most heavily-shielded of targets.  Yet for all this technology, the Taihō  remains a relative lightweight in sheer hitting power and resilience when stacked up against the cruisers of other navies.  Such advanced equipment also raises questions of supply and maintenance, especially given the rather cramped cargo capacity.  Only time will tell if the new tech crammed into the sleek hulls of the Taihō class will stand the rigors of colonial naval combat.

Metrics:

Mass: 78,867 tons
Crew: 417 Officers and Men
Marines: 42
Passengers: 15
Cargo: 300 tons

Aerospace:
2 scouts at 300 tons
1 launch at 2,000 tons
1 yacht at 4,000 tons

ECM / Gravitic Shielding
Bow: 4
P Bow: 5
S Bow: 5
P Quarter: 5
S Quarter: 5
Stern: 5

Armament:
Turret – x2 8-mgkv lasers (bow)
Turret – x2 8-mgkv lasers (stern)
Turret – x1 75-eHz syglex emitter (bow)
Turret – x3 class V Ki-45 torpedo tubes (port bow)
Turret – x3 class V Ki-45 torpedo tubes (starboard bow)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (bow)
Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (p bow)
Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (s bow)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (p quarter)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (s quarter)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (stern)

Ships in Class
CE 37    IJN Taiho   —  2506, New Kyoto Shipyards, Earth
CE 38    IJN Nagara  — 2508, Akagi Prime, Gamma Leporis
CE 39   IJN Chitose  —  2509, New Kyoto Shipyards, Earth
CE 40   IJN Oyodo  —  2510, Shogun Station, Callisto
CE 41    IJN Sendai  —  2511, Shogun Station, Callisto
CE 42    IJN Tone  —  2512, Akagi Prime, Gamma Leporis
CE 43    IJN Kitakami  —  2513, New Kyoto Shipyards, Earth
CE 44    IJN Takase  —  2514, Akagi Prime, Gamma Leporis
CE 45    IJN Shogawa  —  2515, Shogun Station, Callisto
CE 46    IJN Kozuryu  —  2516, Shogun Station, Callisto

Darkstar - Table Pics 02

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 11
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Playtesting new Heavy Cruiser Class and veteran USS Oriskany (DSGN-791) against Heavy Cruiser Task Force

Three turns in, and so far my little Japanese-American alliance battlegroup is doing great.

With Enhanced Sublight, my ships have +1 thrust each turn and with Starship Tactics, they have a +2 to initiative.  Long story short, we were able to get close-range broadsides with both  my heavy cruiser IJN Naginata and destroyer USS Oriskany across the British heavy cruiser’s stern, a prime location.

Note the damage tracks digging deep through HMS Kraken’s engines, reactors, and even core.  She’s crippled, out of the game and set adrift on her last heading and velocity (pro tip, never end your turn pointing toward a planet if you can possibly help it – it’s a fast way to lose a ship if you’re crippled).

Darkstar - Table Pics 02

Here’s the shot where Nagainata was able to cripple the Kraken.  Note where the Japanese cruiser is presenting a broadside right across the British cruiser’s stern.  This is an extremely deadly maneuver, and not easy to pull off.  Basically, you have to get very lucky with your initiative or catch your opponent napping.  In this case I kind of kind both.

I do have to correct myself in the previous panel – by the looks of this photo USS Oriskany was not in this killing salvo on HMS Kraken, although I do remember contributing some torpedoes to this fire phase.  So Oriskany did help with this, but not with gunnery.

Darkstar - Table Pics 02

Although @gladesrunner has clearly lost this game (HMS Kraken) is down and that frigate went up like a string of Chinese firecrackers in the  very first fire phase, goddamn is this new heavy cruiser powerful), she keeps her chin up and keeps it from turning into a rout.

This is especially important as it’s a playtest of the game’s point balance.  If the game really is a rout, then I have to go back to the drawing board and tweak some of these campaign upgrades …

But she’s fighting back.  USS Oriskany has since been crippled by return fire from the Kraken.  Fire is simultaneous in this game, so in the same turn Naginata was tearing apart Kraken’s stern, Kraken was also doing the same to the Oriskany. 

Although crippled, the Oriskany will live to fight again.  things saved her life.  One. she has double-upgraded ECM and Gravitic Shielding.  Two, the range is longer.  And three, only forward guns of the Kraken fired on her, the Kraken’s aft turrets were firing point blank against the Naginata. 

Anyway, the game is now down to just the Naginata and @gladesrunner’s remaining light cruiser, the Relentless class light cruiser HMS Requiem.  The Requiem has put a broadside across Naginata’s stern, not to mention some previous torpedoes from the Kraken.  So when Naginata loses initiative on Turn 6, she parks her stern “against the moon” in an attempt to protect her damaged fantail from more of Requiem’s rail guns and deep-cutting lasers.

Darkstar - Table Pics 02

The Requiem finally goes down, not through lack of speed, bravery, or maneuverability … just the Naginata (a 200-point heavy cruiser) is just too damned powerful for a 102-point light cruiser (smaller ship, much few campaign upgrades).  Honestly once the Kraken went down, this game was up.

But the game felt very well balanced.  We played it again after this and the British did much better.  This time the Oriskany really got the $h*t shot out of her, as in she legitimately almost died.  Here’s her damage sheet from the second game:

Both port and starboard engines, gone.  Port and starboard reactors, gone.  Her point defense mass drivers have been hit twice.  She’s lost three maneuvering thrusters, resulting in a +2 thrust cost to make any turns at all or even roll over on her back (a useful maneuver to screen damaged armor or present fresh  batteries / torpedo spreads)  Port quarter shields are gone.  Magazine’s been hit.  Bridge has been hit, the captain has been wounded and will have to roll to survive.  Sensors have been damaged, she’s lost her aft 5gw rail gun turret …

The whole ship could have actually exploded on the spot, there was a 40% chance based on the damage sustained to critical systems (engines, reactors, magazines).

THAT was a nail-biter of a roll, I can assure you of that.  I’ve played this ship on and off for six years, if I lost her now I think I would physically cry.

Also, if we were playing a campaign game, she’d need 45 days in dry dock (30 internal boxes hit = 30- days, +50% for being crippled / towing time) – plus whatever time it took to transit to nearest friendly port (again, FTL travel time in this setting is strictly limited).

Darkstar - Table Pics 02

Darkstar - Table Pics

Tutoring 8
Skill 11
Idea 13
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Playtesting new Heavy Cruiser Class and veteran USS Oriskany (DSGN-791) against Heavy Cruiser Task Force

Good morning all ~

Okay, so to supplement the “virtual game table” pics and battle reports in in previous posts, here are some pics of live “Darkstar” tabletop play we’ve had with community members @gladesrunner and @aras.

I apologize for the quality of some of these pics – the game mat I bought wasn’t quite the quality I expected, it’s pretty glossy and thus very hard to photograph well with a digital camera.

So the first game is to playtest a newly-designed Japanese heavy cruiser, the Katana class (all ships in this class named for ancient Japanese hand weapons, obviously).  A smidge of backstory:

One of my most veteran starships, the sleek and sexy Japanese light cruiser Sendai (Taiho class) has recently been destroyed outright in a battle.

I wept, I raged, I drank my way through the five stages of grief.

Anyway, the captain of that ship made her survival roll and so now needs a new ship.  Ironically, she’s accrued enough campaign points to earn a promotion (even though she just lost a ship), so I’m comforting myself through the grieving process by designing and playtesting this captain’s new and even better warship, the heavy cruiser Naginata.

The thing is, captains taking command of new ships (either surviving ship destruction or just transferring from one ship to another) get to keep the campaign upgrades they’ve purchased so far.  Not all upgrades effect tactical tabletop game play, but those that do increase the scenario point cost of the ship.  These new Katana class cruisers are friggin’ expensive as it is, and when this ridiculously high-powered captain takes command (and her command bonuses are all applied to the new ship design’s base cost) … well, this heavy cruiser winds up costing more than some pocket battleships or battlecruisers.

It’s time to see if these new points stack up.  So she and another ridiculously-upgraded ship (i.e., I should really retire this ship and her captain) – which just happens to be named USS Oriskany (DSGN-791, Valcour class destroyer, see posts below) head out in a scrimmage game to see if they can take on a much larger, but more normally-experienced force of British warships.

The idea is to ensure the campaign upgrades are not over- or under-powered for their increasingly exorbitant point costs … and test whether the “asymmetrical” aspect of this game design is actually balanced.Picture One – the battle space

Picture One – the battle space
Picture Two – the Japanese-American allies
Picture Three – a British heavy cruiser (CA), light cruiser, and a frigate (behind)
Picture Four – the battle begins.

Darkstar Warship Design: Kutusov Class Light Cruiser