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New Battlecruiser for Darkstar Contributor

New Battlecruiser for Darkstar Contributor

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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.

This Project is Active

New Royal Navy Battlecruiser: HMS Cross

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
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 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
6 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 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
5 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 5
Skill 7
Idea 8
6 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 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
8 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 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
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 4
Skill 5
Idea 6
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 6
Skill 7
Idea 7
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 2
Skill 3
Idea 6
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 3
Skill 5
Idea 8
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 3
Skill 6
Idea 6
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 6
Skill 6
Idea 7
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 3
Skill 8
Idea 8
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 10
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 10
Skill 8
Idea 11
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 7
Skill 15
Idea 17
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 8
Skill 11
Idea 11
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 1
Skill 7
Idea 10
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 10
Skill 13
Idea 12
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 3
Skill 16
Idea 18
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 8
Skill 13
Idea 13
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 7
Skill 14
Idea 14
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 9
Skill 12
Idea 11
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 9
Skill 13
Idea 11
13 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 5
Skill 12
Idea 13
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 4
Skill 13
Idea 12
11 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 7
Skill 9
Idea 10
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 10
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 7
Skill 10
Idea 11
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 5
Skill 8
Idea 9
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 5
Skill 6
Idea 7
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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 6
Skill 7
Idea 9
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 6
Skill 10
Idea 10
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 9
Skill 9
Idea 11
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 4
Skill 7
Idea 9
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 6
Skill 7
Idea 8
3 Comments

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 6
Skill 7
Idea 10
3 Comments

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 6
Skill 7
Idea 9
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 5
Skill 5
Idea 7
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 6
Skill 7
Idea 9
No Comments

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 7
Skill 8
Idea 8
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 10
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 9
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 8
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 9
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 6
Skill 9
Idea 9
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 5
Skill 8
Idea 8
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 4
Skill 8
Idea 10
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 4
Skill 8
Idea 8
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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Skill 9
Idea 12
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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

Tutoring 9
Skill 11
Idea 11
10 Comments

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

Tutoring 6
Skill 9
Idea 10
4 Comments

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)

Tutoring 6
Skill 10
Idea 10
6 Comments

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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Skill 15
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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 7
Skill 10
Idea 12
13 Comments

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

Tutoring 5
Skill 9
Idea 10
2 Comments
Koloslavo Warship Record Sheet

Darkstar - Battle Report (Part 02)

Tutoring 5
Skill 9
Idea 9
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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 5
Skill 10
Idea 10
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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 8
Skill 9
Idea 9
10 Comments

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 7
Skill 9
Idea 11
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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

Tutoring 5
Skill 11
Idea 11
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Named for famous field marshals and admirals of Russian and Soviet history, the Kutuzov class of light cruiser represents a new step forward in the Holy Russian Navy, an attempt to break with old gun-heavy designs like the Slava, Sovnya, and Peter the Great.  Instead the Kutuzov mounts entirely particle-based weaponry.  Among these armaments is a formidable array of new RSA Molniya 550 (Lightning) model electron particle cannons, easily capable of stripping a destroyer bare of armor with a single volley at up to a thousand kilometers if fired from a full broadside.  But even these mounts are only meant to support the Kutuzov’s true weaponry, four immense Tunguska Arms 790A 40-kilogram thorium plasma projectors, mounted in two double turrets.  Combined with the EPCs, these give the Kutuzov a truly hellish punch at close range.  Any captains who come up against one of these warships is best advised to try and keep the engagement ranges as long as possible.  For all its strength, however, the Kutuzov of course has weaknesses as well.  Shielding and speed are only adequate, and the Bozhorshkin Electronics sensor and targeting suite is hardly top of the line.  The torpedo array is also a little dated, although with eight tubes in a forward spread, the Kutuzov is almost guaranteed to hit with at least one of them.  In all, the Kutuzov is a robust, pragmatic, and well-balanced design.  In its weaker aspects it is unspectacular without being poor, but its firepower makes it a frightening contender for its class, particularly at close range.  Eighteen units of the class have been built so far, with a slightly modernized variant on the drawing boards.  They have seen combat in at least three Strategic Command Sectors, where they have earned the respect of friend and foe alike.Named for famous field marshals and admirals of Russian and Soviet history, the Kutuzov class of light cruiser represents a new step forward in the Holy Russian Navy, an attempt to break with old gun-heavy designs like the Slava, Sovnya, and Peter the Great. Instead the Kutuzov mounts entirely particle-based weaponry. Among these armaments is a formidable array of new RSA Molniya 550 (Lightning) model electron particle cannons, easily capable of stripping a destroyer bare of armor with a single volley at up to a thousand kilometers if fired from a full broadside. But even these mounts are only meant to support the Kutuzov’s true weaponry, four immense Tunguska Arms 790A 40-kilogram thorium plasma projectors, mounted in two double turrets. Combined with the EPCs, these give the Kutuzov a truly hellish punch at close range. Any captains who come up against one of these warships is best advised to try and keep the engagement ranges as long as possible. For all its strength, however, the Kutuzov of course has weaknesses as well. Shielding and speed are only adequate, and the Bozhorshkin Electronics sensor and targeting suite is hardly top of the line. The torpedo array is also a little dated, although with eight tubes in a forward spread, the Kutuzov is almost guaranteed to hit with at least one of them. In all, the Kutuzov is a robust, pragmatic, and well-balanced design. In its weaker aspects it is unspectacular without being poor, but its firepower makes it a frightening contender for its class, particularly at close range. Eighteen units of the class have been built so far, with a slightly modernized variant on the drawing boards. They have seen combat in at least three Strategic Command Sectors, where they have earned the respect of friend and foe alike.

Mass: 109,220 tons
Complement: 458 officers and men
Marines: 32
Passengers: 16
Sublight thrust: 5
Darkstar Wave: 10th (x300 c)
Aerospace: (2) scouts, (1) 1,200-ton cutter, (1) 4,000 ton yacht

ECM & Gravitic Shielding:
Bow: 4
P Bow: 4
S Bow: 4
P Quarter: 4
S Quarter: 4
Stern: 5

Armament:
Turret – x2 40-kilogram plasma projectors (bow)
Turret – x2 40-kilogram plasma projectors (stern)
Turret – x2 12-teravolt electron particle cannons (bow)
Turret – x2 12-teravolt electron particle cannons (bow)
Turret – x2 12-teravolt electron particle cannons (stern)
Turret – x2 12-teravolt electron particle cannons (stern)
Rack – x4 Class III gravitic torpedoes (p bow)
Rack – x4 Class III gravitic torpedoes (s bow)
Turret – x3 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 – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (p quarter)
Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (s quarter)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (stern)

Ships in Class:
261 CRK Kutuzov
262 CRK Suvorov
263 CRK Golovin
264 CRK Sheremetev
265 CRK Menshikov
266 CRK Potempkin
267 CRK Chernyshyov
268 CRK Chichagov
269 CRK Istomin
270 CRK Lazarev
271 CRK Makharov
272 CRK Nakhimov
273 CRK Ushakov
274 CRK Senyavin
275 CRK Zmajevic
276 CRK Spiridov
277 CRK Chernavin
278 CRK Gorshkov

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

Tutoring 5
Skill 14
Idea 15
6 Comments
Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

Outer System Skirmish

Suji’s Refuge – Jade Dawn Star System (Xi Scorpio C)

Xi Scorpio War, 24 January 2518

 

The Xi Scorpio War has raged on now for a little over a year.

After an initial bloodbath breaking into the Xi Scorpio stellar group at the Battle of Kitami Shima, the “Pacific Alliance” (Japanese-American naval task force) has steadily beaten back the “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State, planet by planet, system by system.  Although they have liberated the “Flower of Hokkaido” colony in Xi Scorpio D (the rare and precious Earth analog planet that everyone’s fighting over), the Pacific Alliance now pushes into the Black Dragon colonies (in fact, originally Chinese and Russian colonies) of Jade Dawn (Xi Scorpio C) and Heilong-Novopromorskiy (Xi Scorpio A/B) to ensure the Black Dragon threat never reemerges .

One of the war’s recent turning points was at the horrific Battle of Tamakura, near a Galilean moon of the Tamakura gas giant of the Xi Scoprio D system.  Although the Pacific Alliance won that battle, both fleets took tremendous damage, with heavier units expected to be in dry dock for weeks if not months.  As a result, the Pacific Alliance can only maintain the pressure on the beaten Black Dragons with a small destroyer task force built around the destroyer USS Oriskany.  This sets up a series of small skirmishes in the Jade Dawn star system among destroyers, frigates, and the occasional light cruiser, one of which is presented here.

BACKGROUND:

While the Oriskany and Princeton are engaged at Kosyang 71 (moons of another nearby gas giant in Xi Scorpio C), Commander Raymond Cruz (aboard the newly-arrived U.S. Marine Corps Buford-class light carrier/aerospace assault ship USS Tarawa) is slinking around the rim of the Jade Dawn star system.  His mission is to secure a lodgment somewhere on the far side.  Escorting him is the “hardest working tin can in the U.S. Navy”, the Valcour-class destroyer USS Valley Forge under Commander Garrison Heathe.

“Ghosting” around the edge of the star system in a series of first-magnitude Darkstar waves (excruciatingly slow but quiet and almost impossible to detect), the Tarawa and Valley Forge use the star’s gravity to curve their trajectory.  They creep around the system’s spinward edge, staying just inside the Kuiper Belt until they approach a series of rocky planetoids known as Suji’s Refuge.  These are the remains of a large terrestrial moon once in orbit of an outer gas giant, turn to shreds by gravitational tides and left to drift along the system’s cold outreaches.

Also in Suji’s Refuge, however, is a small supply and surveillance installation of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State.  Not picking up on the automated beacon’s passive sensors, the Tarawa and Valley Forge are soon detected and by the end of their third day on station, the Americans are being approached by a small but powerful Black Dragon battlegroup.

This force is made up of three of their oldest “friends” in the Xi Scorpio War, the Russian-built Novgorod frigate Malayslovets, the old Chinese Nanchong class missile destroyer Huangdi, and their flagship, the Xhia-class light missile cruiser Meikang, a veteran of the Xi Scorpio War from as far back as the very first battle at Kitami Shima.

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

The Americans accelerate to approach the Black Dragons but keep their approach slow, in no hurry to engage the Meikang battlegroup and the vastly superior gunnery.  As the Tarawa begins launching her aerospace group (the elite U.S. Marine Corps squadron, VMF/A-391, the Tigersharks), the Black Dragons are screaming in at an insane speed of almost 50 kps.  The Americans spot the Huangdi first, so Cruz is able to duck his two ships behind drifting KBOs to screen themselves from immediate torpedo lock.  This also means that while both American warships can see acquire Black Dragon targets and fire full torpedo spreads, only some of the Black Dragons can do the same back at them.  Hopefully this will equalize the some of the Americans’ disadvantage in numbers and firepower.

But the veteran Meikang, a nemesis from all the way back to Kitami Shima, sees this move and deftly skirts around the debris, the Malaynovets tucked tight into her wake.  The Black  Dragons loose a massive torpedo wave.  The Americans fire off a spread as well, then turn on their wakes and hairpin turn away.

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

Things start off well for Cruz’s battlegroup . . . two of these American Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes hit the frigate Malaynovets, one from the Tarawa and one from the Valley Forge.  Lucky strikes on the port bow touch off the forward magazine and the little Malaynovets is soon crippled and adrift in space.  Meanwhile the slower Black Dragon torpedoes still haven’t hit and the Tarawa has all her Marine F/S-44 “Corsair” fighters and F/A-81 “Avenger” torpedo-bombers launched.

Despite the Americans striving to keep their distance, Black Dragon gunnery soon has the range on the Valley Forge, and a few heavy 7-gigawatt rail gun hits are scored on her fo’c’sle.  The Meikang and Huangdi press through the drifting “asteroid wall,” and finally there is no more cover for the Americans.  Cruz keeps pivoting back, to keep the range open as long as possible, but the Valley Forge is sluggish due to its jarring hits.  The Meikang and Huangdi line up for a perfect  1400 km broadside – and torpedoes – 52 of them – slam into the Valley Forge even as she fires on the Huangdi.  Marine “Hawkeye” scouts shoot down one torpedo, and mass drivers shoot down ten more . . . but the rest hit the shields and one actually gets through.  The barrage of 7-gigawatt rail guns that immediately follow from the Meikang is worse, along with the 30kg plasma jets from the Huangdi.  The whole front end of the Valley Forge is basically sheared off, including a jarring explosion of the forward magazine, torpedo bays, and scout ship bays.  Personnel losses are heavy, and the Valley Forge is crippled and adrift, burning in space.

Meanwhile, the Marine pilots of VMF/A-391 loose their ordinance at the Black Dragons.  They have lined up a perfect strike straight at the stern of the Meikang, coordinating with a second spread or torpedoes from the Tarawa.  The Black Dragons have shot down all the Mark 48s, which means the Meikang’s enhanced ECM and shielding suite can only take so much, and five ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes, along with four ASM-92 Hellfire missiles, hit the hull.  The Meikang is blown out of the battle, her two centerline engines are completely blasted out of the hull, the starboard reactor shuts down, the bridge implodes in a decompression, one of the ship’s magazines go up . . .

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

The Tarawa turns on her wake and heads away, not eager for a gunnery duel with a vengeful Black Dragon destroyer.  The Huangdi pursues, slinging out more torpedoes.  The Tigersharks fall in behind her for a gunnery run, intercepted by Black Dragon scout planes.  One Avenger is shot down, and three Marine Corsairs are shot down by Huangdi’s mass drivers.  The Tigersharks’ gunnery run doesn’t knock out the Huangdi, but causes critical damage to her aft sections, especially her stern shielding, sensors, and aft weapons.

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

Cruz realizes the Huangdi has no aft weapons or shields, so will probably try to keep her bow pointed at the Tarawa.  Judging by Huangdi’s vector and velocity, he’s able to turn the Tarawa again on her heel and have her forward torpedo tubes ready to engage where the Huangdi will be.  Sure enough, the Huangdi veers right where expected, and Tarawa looses four more torpedoes.  Two of Huangdi’s torpedoes hit Tarawa in turn, damaging sensors and maneuvering thrusters, but the Tarawa’s return strike, especially a second gunnery run by the bloodied Marine Tigersharks, take out Huangdi’s port engines and damage port reactor.  She loses power and is set adrift.

Darkstar - Sample Battle Report

The skirmish at Suji’s Refuge is an American win, albeit a bloody one.  The Meikang was about to be scuttled, but again this lucky ship somehow survives, ejecting that starboard reactor just in time and somehow surviving the thermonuclear explosion just a few kilometers away.  The Valley Forge is almost in worse shape, requiring 63 days of repair to bring her back on line.  So for the next few weeks, the Tarawa will have to secure that foothold at Suji’s Refuge alone.  The battlegroup flagship, USS Oriskany, will help her out, leaving the Princeton at Kosyang 71, assisted by the newly-arriving Shepard-class frigate sent from the Kurokawa system by task force commander Captain Daniel Chealtham, USS Ronald Evans.

The Americans have basically won the Jade Dawn system (Xi Scorpio C) at this point.  But until American cruisers and bases . . . and especially the Japanese squadron under Hiromi Ozawa . . . can get up here, it won’t be secure.  For now it’s up to “Battlegroup Oriskany” to hold it, or at least maintain a presence, against inevitable Black Dragon counterstrike out of Heilong-Novprimorskiy (Xi Scorpio A-B binary)

Black Dragons have crippled Valley Forge (58 points), shot down five fighters, one bomber all double elite (24 points), plus 1 bank point = 83.  Americans have crippled Meikang  (70 points), Huangdi (40 points), Malaynovets (20 points ) = 130.   Americans win by 47.  Minor Pacific Alliance Victory.

Darkstar - Xi Scorpio War (2516-18)

Tutoring 9
Skill 14
Idea 15
5 Comments

Sample setting and "test bed" environment for four-faction war

Darkstar - Xi Scorpio War (2516-18)

This is an overview of a “sandbox” environment I’ve been using for repeated test games of the newer editions of the Darkstar tactical starship combat system.

The Xi Scorpio stellar group is an actual six-system formation a little over 92 light-years from Earth, where a major war has been started by the so-called Khitan-Tunguska Free State (a breakaway faction that has rebelled from colonies of the Holy Russian Empire and the Panasian League).

In broad summary, these “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State attacked Japanese colonies in Xi Scorpio because there is a near-Earth analog planet in the Turakawa star system (Xi Scorpio D).  Because of their bloody uprising against the Panasian League and Russian Empire, the Black Dragons know they and their descendants can never return to Earth, so hope to found their new nation at the Flower of Hokkaido colony.  This is what they are calling their “Earth and Sky” mandate – an inalienable right for all men to have a place to raise their children and bury their dead.  A nation cannot exist entirely in space.

The Black Dragon invasion struck from the former Panasian and Russian colonies of Jade Dawn (Xi Scorpio C) and the binary system of Heilong-Novopromorskiy (Xi Scorpio A/B).  These former Russian and Chinese rebels bloodily wiped out the Japanese civilians on Hokkaido’s Flower “Mongol style” – which naturally prompted immediate response from the Japanese.

The problem for the Japanese is that in the world of Darkstar, 92 light-years is about a three-six month voyage.  The Japanese Navy has just one rapid-response, long-range task force where all the ships are upgraded to where they can generate 11th-magnitude Darkstar waves (cutting this time roughly in half).

In order to procure reinforcements, the Japanese Foreign Office contacts the US State Department and invokes a “military mutual assistance clause” signed in the treaty that ended the recent Japanese-American “Andromeda Arc War.”  Now, compelled by treaty, former enemies of the American and Japanese navies (some of them very personal) must sail the incredible distance of 92 light-years and fight as allies to retake these Japanese colonies.

So in game terms, we have small but elite battlegroups and task forces of Japanese and American warships (heavily upgraded, up to light cruiser in size) in a far-flung colonial conflict against local rebels with much less experience, but far greater numbers and far heavier Chinese and Russian-built warships – since these embattled star systems are right next to major Black Dragon shipyards.

Darkstar - Sample Starship Player Sheet - USS Oriskany (Valcour class destroyer DSGN-791)

Tutoring 11
Skill 13
Idea 13
4 Comments
Okay, so once you get a ship class designed (or selected from the existing choices), one of these player sheets are quickly filled out for each ship.  Now this one is for the most decorated ship in the game, quite predictably named USS <i>Oriskany</i>. <br><br>If you take your ship into a battle, you get 1 campaign point.  If you're on the winning side, you get 2 campaign points.  Very large battles, especially heroic actions, etc., sometimes gets you 1 extra point per game.  Anyway, these accrue and for every six points, you can buy something off our list of campaign advantages.  <br><br>You can also buy promotions for your commander or upgrade your ship class (from a frigate to a destroyer or a destroyer to a light cruiser, etc.).<br><br>Needless to say, over six years of game play and some 54 separate games. USS <i>Oriskany</i> here has built up quite a few campaign points which has allowed her fourteen upgrades.  Some of these have been in her captain (promoted from commander to captain, which I needed before I could buy battlegroup commander, which I needed before I could buy task force commander, etc.).  Others have been in the ship herself and her crew.  <br><br>Of course this has also jacked up her point cost considerably (note the Okay, so once you get a ship class designed (or selected from the existing choices), one of these player sheets are quickly filled out for each ship. Now this one is for the most decorated ship in the game, quite predictably named USS Oriskany.

If you take your ship into a battle, you get 1 campaign point. If you're on the winning side, you get 2 campaign points. Very large battles, especially heroic actions, etc., sometimes gets you 1 extra point per game. Anyway, these accrue and for every six points, you can buy something off our list of campaign advantages.

You can also buy promotions for your commander or upgrade your ship class (from a frigate to a destroyer or a destroyer to a light cruiser, etc.).

Needless to say, over six years of game play and some 54 separate games. USS Oriskany here has built up quite a few campaign points which has allowed her fourteen upgrades. Some of these have been in her captain (promoted from commander to captain, which I needed before I could buy battlegroup commander, which I needed before I could buy task force commander, etc.). Others have been in the ship herself and her crew.

Of course this has also jacked up her point cost considerably (note the "106" in the bottom corner), making her almost triple the price of a standard destroyer (40). But the "Lady O" is now at the point where she can take on "raw" heavy cruisers, which for a destroyer is pretty crazy. It's also necessary, since she has the same POINT COST as a heavy cruiser.

Darkstar - Sample Starship Design Sheet: Valcour Class Fleet Destroyer

Tutoring 8
Skill 14
Idea 13
No Comments
First off, I'm very glad to see that people are interested in this Darkstar content.  I know it's not usually the kind of miniature-based wargame we see on Beasts of War - but projects can come in all shapes and forms ... including the design and construction of new game systems.  <br><br>In any event, here is the design sheet from MS Excel for one of the 90 or so warship classes in the game at the moment - the Valcour class destroyer.  Once players select the class and engineering plant, they start selecting things like armor, shields, weapons, aerospace craft, marines, extras, from drop down menus that appear in the component column.  For guns, marines, small craft, etc, they also select number.  This adds up the power and weight of each system, and the totals are tabulated at the bottom.  Remaining power is divided by accrued mass, and that is the ship's thrust.  Standard for destroyers is a 6 (some classes are faster, some are slower), but the Valcour is designed as a standard First off, I'm very glad to see that people are interested in this Darkstar content. I know it's not usually the kind of miniature-based wargame we see on Beasts of War - but projects can come in all shapes and forms ... including the design and construction of new game systems.

In any event, here is the design sheet from MS Excel for one of the 90 or so warship classes in the game at the moment - the Valcour class destroyer. Once players select the class and engineering plant, they start selecting things like armor, shields, weapons, aerospace craft, marines, extras, from drop down menus that appear in the component column. For guns, marines, small craft, etc, they also select number. This adds up the power and weight of each system, and the totals are tabulated at the bottom. Remaining power is divided by accrued mass, and that is the ship's thrust. Standard for destroyers is a 6 (some classes are faster, some are slower), but the Valcour is designed as a standard "workhorse" class warship, so I was aiming at a 6.

Darkstar - Tabletop Gameplay

Tutoring 5
Skill 15
Idea 13
23 Comments

Just a new table photos some some of our actual game play.  We’re working on a few 3D pieces.  Each hex on the map is 180 kilometers of space, each turn is one minute of time.  This means that each point of movement in the game is 3 kilometers per second.  Usual games pit 3-8 ships per side against each other and last 8-10 turns.  The games take about 2-4 hours.  Each starship gets its own record sheet, which tracks damage, weapons fire, ordinance expenditure, and velocity.  You don’t just get “movement” points in the game, after all, however fast you were moving last turn is how fast you are moving this turn, available thrust must be expended carefully to decelerate, turn, roll, accelerate, or perform other maneuvers in a roughly “Newtonian physics” movement system.

Darkstar - Starship Schematic Sample

Tutoring 7
Skill 16
Idea 17
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Just a sample of some of the warships available for players in Darkstar.  There are seven general warship categories, ranging from gunship, corvette, frigate, destroyer, light cruiser, heavy cruiser, and battleship.  Design tables in MS Excel allow players to quickly and easily design their own warships to a pretty detailed level, where they must carefully balance weapons packages, ordinance loadouts, armor, ECM, gravitic shielding (no Star Trek or Star Wars Just a sample of some of the warships available for players in Darkstar. There are seven general warship categories, ranging from gunship, corvette, frigate, destroyer, light cruiser, heavy cruiser, and battleship. Design tables in MS Excel allow players to quickly and easily design their own warships to a pretty detailed level, where they must carefully balance weapons packages, ordinance loadouts, armor, ECM, gravitic shielding (no Star Trek or Star Wars "force fields" here), SLD engines, powerplants, FTL "Darkstar" drives, marines, assault ships, aerospace complements (fighters, bombers and scouts, if any), bridge / CIC upgrades, and other features. You can make your ship incredibly powerful, but that just means it will be slow and enemy players will easily outmaneuver and kill you without your ever getting off a shot. As with any good wargame, everything is about balance, mission, and play style. In all, some 90 warship classes for ten factions have been designed across these seven general categories.

Darkstar - Campaign Map 03 - Hercules Gate

Tutoring 5
Skill 12
Idea 13
No Comments
Another of our Darkstar campaign settings, where Imperial Prussians and New Roman Alliance (Italians, French, and Spanish, mostly) face off against an alliance of convenience between the United Kingdom and the Holy Russian Empire. The UN has an enclave out here as well.  Distance in light-years is plotted along the bottom, and we also had the approximate distance in light-years between all these systems plotted.  This became very important in the campaign, and players had to plot their movements weeks or months in advance, in addition to towing and repair times for warships damaged in previous battles, to plan for their next moves.  So from the British star system at the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules) to the Imperial Russian colony at Krasnaya Nadezhda (72 Hercules) was about 23 light-years, which would take most military grade ships just short of 28 days.Another of our Darkstar campaign settings, where Imperial Prussians and New Roman Alliance (Italians, French, and Spanish, mostly) face off against an alliance of convenience between the United Kingdom and the Holy Russian Empire. The UN has an enclave out here as well. Distance in light-years is plotted along the bottom, and we also had the approximate distance in light-years between all these systems plotted. This became very important in the campaign, and players had to plot their movements weeks or months in advance, in addition to towing and repair times for warships damaged in previous battles, to plan for their next moves. So from the British star system at the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules) to the Imperial Russian colony at Krasnaya Nadezhda (72 Hercules) was about 23 light-years, which would take most military grade ships just short of 28 days.

Darkstar - Campaign Map 02 - The Andromeda Arc

Tutoring 5
Skill 12
Idea 12
No Comments
When we started to get a little more advanced, we tried some actual interstellar campaigns.  There are actual stars by the way, plotted with data from Strasbourg Observatory and NASA, to the best of my humble skills at geometry.  The Darkstar setting have FTL, but it's quite limited (most military-grade ships can reach Proxima Centauri in about 5 days).  Needless to say, to even reach this warzone (the scale along the bottom is distance from Earth in light-years) takes the average warship 43 days.  There is also no FTL communications, so once you're out here with your orders and your task force of 4-5 ships, you're on your own.  No calling  back to When we started to get a little more advanced, we tried some actual interstellar campaigns. There are actual stars by the way, plotted with data from Strasbourg Observatory and NASA, to the best of my humble skills at geometry. The Darkstar setting have FTL, but it's quite limited (most military-grade ships can reach Proxima Centauri in about 5 days). Needless to say, to even reach this warzone (the scale along the bottom is distance from Earth in light-years) takes the average warship 43 days. There is also no FTL communications, so once you're out here with your orders and your task force of 4-5 ships, you're on your own. No calling back to "Federation Headquarters" for advice! ............ This was written into the setting on purpose to reinforce the sense of deep, bottomless isolation and loneliness of space, the wonder and awe of being "this far out," and the colonial feel of the game. Magellan, Cortez, Drake, and Columbus couldn't exactly get on Skype and ask their monarchs what to do when they got to the New World, after all! ................... This campaign pitted a "Pacific Union" of Japanese and Panasian League (China and other Asian naval powers) against an "Atlantic Union" of the United States and United Kingdom.

Darkstar - Campaign Map 01 - 19 Draconis Star System

Tutoring 5
Skill 11
Idea 14
5 Comments
Our very first Darkstar Campaign, played back in 2012, took place in this star system.  The navies of the United States, Japan, Imperial Prussia, all had a stake here, as well as the Corporate Consortium (United Aerospace Enterprises, Ares Defense Consultants, Cignis Systems).  Not a very big star system, but everyone's gotta start somewhere.Our very first Darkstar Campaign, played back in 2012, took place in this star system. The navies of the United States, Japan, Imperial Prussia, all had a stake here, as well as the Corporate Consortium (United Aerospace Enterprises, Ares Defense Consultants, Cignis Systems). Not a very big star system, but everyone's gotta start somewhere.

Darkstar Warship Design: Leopold Class Heavy Cruiser

Tutoring 6
Skill 14
Idea 17
No Comments
 Built for heavy broadsides and named for the old Germanic kings of Prussia and Imperial Germany, the Leopold class stands perhaps as the epitome of the Built for heavy broadsides and named for the old Germanic kings of Prussia and Imperial Germany, the Leopold class stands perhaps as the epitome of the "classic" heavy cruiser. With its traditional "Atlantic style" layout of four double rail gun turrets, the Leopold breaks with convention only when it comes to the size of these weapons. The Leopold carries 11 gigawatt rail guns, the largest mounted on any heavy cruiser in Known Space, pushing them practically into the realm of the pocket battleship. As if this were not enough, the Leopold class also mounts a staggering twelve 6 gigawatt rail guns for secondary armament, making this far and away the biggest battery of rail guns on anything short of a full battleship. This arsenal comes at the expense of speed, however, not to mention a complete lack of other weapons like the torpedo arrays of the rival Slava class (Holy Russian Empire) or the advanced targeting suites of the Iron Dukes (United Kingdom). Some critics also point to the mass driver defenses of the Leopold, which are admittedly slightly substandard for a ship of this weight. Designers counter this claim by pointing out that the Leopold is meant to serve as the flagship of a task force (wherever the Prussian Navy can't afford to send a true dreadnought), and will always be deployed with sufficient escort to help with mass driver defense. Most notably this is the new Ostwind class escort frigate. Still, to look at a Leopold is to look at a design from another age, proof that Imperial Prussia remains committed to her long-standing "grossgeschutzen" (big gun) traditions in naval thought.

ECM / Gravitic Shielding
Bow: 4
P Bow: 5
S Bow: 5
P Quarter: 5
S Quarter: 5
Stern: 5

Armament:

Turret – x2 11-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
Turret – x2 11-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
Turret – x2 11-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
Turret – x2 11-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (p bow)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (s bow)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (p quarter)
Turret – x2 6-gigawatt rail guns (s quarter)
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 – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (p quarter)
Turret – x4 35mm mass driver point defense array (s quarter)
Turret – x6 35mm mass driver point defense array (stern)

Ships in Class:

KS-1345 KMS Leopold
KS-1346 KMS Ferdinand II
KS-1347 KMS Freidrich Wilhelm
KS-1348 KMS Franz Josef
KS-1349 KMS Koenig Albert
KS-1350 KMS Von Der Tann
KS-1351 KMS Blücher
KS-1352 KMS Lutzow

Darkstar Warship Design: Iron Duke Class Heavy Cruiser

Tutoring 5
Skill 13
Idea 14
4 Comments
The <i>Iron Duke</i> class heavy cruiser is something of a paradox in the Royal Navy.  On the one hand, it is proof that the Royal Navy has finally come to terms with the fact that the <i>Titan</i> class needs to be replaced after nearly forty years in service.  On the other hand, the <i>Iron Dukes</i> are really little more than upgunned versions of the <i>Titans</i> they are meant to replace.  In fact, in some ways the <i>Iron Dukes</i> are inferior to the <i>Titans</i>, at least in regards to protection.  However, the <i>Iron Duke</i> embraces the notion that the best form of defense is a good offense, and in so doing has mounted a truly devastating array of firepower.  Note that the old Model 33 torpedoes have finally been replaced by the newer Model 41 gravitic torpedoes mounted on the <i>Osprey</i> class light carriers.  Furthermore, these have been mounted in swivel-racks that can turn with the ship's main gunnery turrets.  While this means that the <i>Iron Duke</i> can never fire a full torpedo spread forward or aft (as is traditionally the case with such weapons), it does mean that the cruiser can unload these weapons when already presenting a broadside, clearly her preferred vantage of engagement.  It's in this broadside, after all, where the <i>Iron Duke</i> really shines.  The four double turrets of 10-gw rail guns can match those mounted of ship classes like the Imperial Prussian <i>Leopold</i>, Holy Russian <i>Slava</i>, and Japanese <i>Chikuma</i>, especially daunting since they are slaved to the new Hawkinge Electronics 01A fire control system.  Furthermore, the 6 MgKv lasers formerly mounted with the <i>Titans</i> have been replaced with larger 8 MgKv models.  The <i>Iron Dukes</i> are all named for famous military leaders (especially naval commanders) in Britain's history, except for the HMS <i>Kraken</i>, recommissioned to carry the name of the famous ship of the <i>Titan</i> class. The Iron Duke class heavy cruiser is something of a paradox in the Royal Navy. On the one hand, it is proof that the Royal Navy has finally come to terms with the fact that the Titan class needs to be replaced after nearly forty years in service. On the other hand, the Iron Dukes are really little more than upgunned versions of the Titans they are meant to replace. In fact, in some ways the Iron Dukes are inferior to the Titans, at least in regards to protection. However, the Iron Duke embraces the notion that the best form of defense is a good offense, and in so doing has mounted a truly devastating array of firepower. Note that the old Model 33 torpedoes have finally been replaced by the newer Model 41 gravitic torpedoes mounted on the Osprey class light carriers. Furthermore, these have been mounted in swivel-racks that can turn with the ship's main gunnery turrets. While this means that the Iron Duke can never fire a full torpedo spread forward or aft (as is traditionally the case with such weapons), it does mean that the cruiser can unload these weapons when already presenting a broadside, clearly her preferred vantage of engagement. It's in this broadside, after all, where the Iron Duke really shines. The four double turrets of 10-gw rail guns can match those mounted of ship classes like the Imperial Prussian Leopold, Holy Russian Slava, and Japanese Chikuma, especially daunting since they are slaved to the new Hawkinge Electronics 01A fire control system. Furthermore, the 6 MgKv lasers formerly mounted with the Titans have been replaced with larger 8 MgKv models. The Iron Dukes are all named for famous military leaders (especially naval commanders) in Britain's history, except for the HMS Kraken, recommissioned to carry the name of the famous ship of the Titan class.

Metrics:
Mass: 157,703 tons
Complement: 727 officers and men
Marines: 64
Passengers: 36
Sublight thrust: 4
Darkstar Wave: 10th (x300 c)
Aerospace: (2) scouts, (1) 1,200-ton cutter, (1) 4,000 ton yacht

ECM & Gravitic Shielding:
• Bow: 4
• P Bow: 4
• S Bow: 4
• P Quarter: 5
• S Quarter: 5
• Stern: 5

Armament:
• Turret – x2 10-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
• Turret – x2 10-gigawatt rail guns (bow)
• Turret – x2 10-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
• Turret – x2 10-gigawatt rail guns (stern)
• Turret – x2 8-megakelvin lasers (bow)
• Turret – x2 8-megakelvin lasers (stern)
• Rack – x6 Class IV gravitic torpedoes (bow)
• Rack – x6 Class IV gravitic torpedoes (stern)
• Turret – x4 45mm mass driver point defense array (bow)
• Turret – x4 45mm mass driver point defense array (p bow)
• Turret – x4 45mm mass driver point defense array (s bow)
• Turret – x6 45mm mass driver point defense array (p quarter)
• Turret – x6 45mm mass driver point defense array (s quarter)
• Turret – x6 45mm mass driver point defense array (stern)

Ships in Class:
• C 161 HMS Iron Duke
• C 162 HMS Nelson
• C 163 HMS Jellicoe
• C 164 HMS Marlborough
• C 165 HMS Agincourt
• C 166 HMS Howe
• C 167 HMS Rodney
• C 168 HMS Drake
• C 169 HMS Howard
• C 170 HMS Blake
• C 171 HMS Fisher
• C 172 HMS Cromwell
• C 173 HMS Kraken (fmr Hawkins)
• C 174 HMS Churchill

Darkstar - Tactical Starship Combat in the 26th Century

Tutoring 6
Skill 16
Idea 22
2 Comments

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