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DARKSTAR CAMPAIGN UPDATE: DUCHESS ANNABEL’S WAR IS OVER

DARKSTAR CAMPAIGN UPDATE: DUCHESS ANNABEL’S WAR IS OVER

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Project Blog by oriskany Cult of Games Member

Recommendations: 3609

About the Project

The year is 2512.

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

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

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DARKSTAR CAMPAIGN UPDATE: DUCHESS ANNABEL’S WAR IS OVER

Tutoring 8
Skill 12
Idea 12
13 Comments

As some of you may be aware, there’s been talk of starting a new Darkstar campaign for a little while now.  New Darkstar players in the community have been anxious to make their own additions to the “canon” and history on this setting.  The first step in setting that up, of course, is to close out the existing war on the table, Duchess Annabel’s War in the Libra-Sagittarius SCS (strategic command sector).

The best way to do that quickly is to have a big enough battle so that no matter which way it turns out, enough campaign points are accrued by the winning side to give their faction a decisive edge at the inevitable UN negotiation conference.

The word was put out and we have @damon and @gladesrunner sign up to take part in this last big showdown.

So this is it, the last big battle in Duchess Annabel’s War (also: War of Annabel’s Star, or the Libra-Saggitarius War of 2518-2520).

This will also be the last post on this thread.  It’s hitting 3500 recommendations, 127 entries and over 600 comments.  Half the time I try to open it, my web page times out.  So this thread will be retired with the nice round number of 3500 recommendations (approximately) and a new one started to continue for the fresh campaign.

So let’s get to it. This is a very large Darkstar game, usually measuring in at 150-350 points.  This one was 1000 points, so none of us had any illusion that we’d be up to for the evening.  😀

>>>>>>

The new campaign is being drawn up as we speak!  In broad terms, we’ll be looking at the UNITED STATES and HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE teaming up against the UNITED KINGDOM and the JAPANESE, with possible support factions in the form the Corporate Consortium, Indian Republic, and/or Arab League.  Players will be myself, gladesrunner, damon, and rasmus for starters, but more are always welcome!

If you want in on the ground floor on this new campaign, NOW IS THE TIME!

The last several months of Duchess Annabel’s War haven’t been good to the Prussians.  Although their Japanese allies have been racking up an impressive string of victories, the Prussians have already had two battleships crippled here (the Scharnhorst class pocket battleship KMS Von Der Tann and the Tirpitz class battleship KMS Admiral Scheer).  The Japanese have opened separate negotiations with the British, Panasian League, and Russians, looking to “cash in their winnings” and call this war a win.  This would of course leave the Prussians, New Romans, and “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State in very bad way.  Obviously aware of the Japanese overtures, the British decide that a decisive moment is at hand.  They will strike the Prussians now, hard, at their key colony in the Libra-Sagittarius sector, right when their fleet is weakened and their allies are deserting them.  A hard enough blow at the heart of Eisenwolf Colony (Gliese 570) could compel the Prussians to offer favorable terms at the peace table.The last several months of Duchess Annabel’s War haven’t been good to the Prussians. Although their Japanese allies have been racking up an impressive string of victories, the Prussians have already had two battleships crippled here (the Scharnhorst class pocket battleship KMS Von Der Tann and the Tirpitz class battleship KMS Admiral Scheer). The Japanese have opened separate negotiations with the British, Panasian League, and Russians, looking to “cash in their winnings” and call this war a win. This would of course leave the Prussians, New Romans, and “Black Dragons” of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State in very bad way. Obviously aware of the Japanese overtures, the British decide that a decisive moment is at hand. They will strike the Prussians now, hard, at their key colony in the Libra-Sagittarius sector, right when their fleet is weakened and their allies are deserting them. A hard enough blow at the heart of Eisenwolf Colony (Gliese 570) could compel the Prussians to offer favorable terms at the peace table.
The matchup.  For this assault, the British assign two cruiser task forces (Task Force “Kraken” and Task Force “Agamemnon”) to escort the Royal Sovereign class battleship HMS Henry V under the flag of Rear Admiral Sir Lord Perceval Ian Pinderglove.  The target is the Eisenwolf Colony itself, a massive orbital facility bristling with 15-teravolt EPCs and 14-gigawatt rail guns, 35mm mass driver point-defense guns, sixteen Focke-Wulf 909 aerospace bombers thirty-two Messerschmidt SJ-363 fighters.  Prussian warships are also in the area, including light cruisers, and destroyers of the “Shieldmaiden” kruezergeschwader (cruiser squadron), actually made up of crews drawn from Norway and Sweden.  There’s also a Japanese heavy cruiser, the famously-decorated IJN Naginata, originally posted here to Eisenwolf just to assure the Prussians that they aren’t alone in this war quite yet.  But one thing British intelligence didn’t pick up on was the latest status of the Tirpitz class battleship KMS Admiral Scheer.  Indeed, she’s been brought back into service, and it looks like we’re going to have a battleship showdown on our hands.The matchup. For this assault, the British assign two cruiser task forces (Task Force “Kraken” and Task Force “Agamemnon”) to escort the Royal Sovereign class battleship HMS Henry V under the flag of Rear Admiral Sir Lord Perceval Ian Pinderglove. The target is the Eisenwolf Colony itself, a massive orbital facility bristling with 15-teravolt EPCs and 14-gigawatt rail guns, 35mm mass driver point-defense guns, sixteen Focke-Wulf 909 aerospace bombers thirty-two Messerschmidt SJ-363 fighters. Prussian warships are also in the area, including light cruisers, and destroyers of the “Shieldmaiden” kruezergeschwader (cruiser squadron), actually made up of crews drawn from Norway and Sweden. There’s also a Japanese heavy cruiser, the famously-decorated IJN Naginata, originally posted here to Eisenwolf just to assure the Prussians that they aren’t alone in this war quite yet. But one thing British intelligence didn’t pick up on was the latest status of the Tirpitz class battleship KMS Admiral Scheer. Indeed, she’s been brought back into service, and it looks like we’re going to have a battleship showdown on our hands.
The engagement begins.  The two heaviest “Iron Wolf” ships, Admiral Scheer and Naginata, are also very agile for their size, so they set a high engagement speed.  Not as fast as the British, who thunder into the eclipse shadow of this gas giant moon at 30 kilometers per second.  Yes, even the 400,000+ ton Henry V.  The British make an orderly turn to port to present a broadside to the Eisenwolf Station, but as the Iron Wolves streak toward the station (clearly hoping to present a unified front of massed firepower and point-defense guns), the British switch targets and open fire on the incoming Norwegians and Swedes.  The Maas-class destroyer Stjernravyn gets the worst of it, her starboard bow torn open by the heavy rail guns of the Henry V and Kraken.  But it’s the little Falklands-class destroyer Sheffield, much further away, that actually lands the killing blow, putting an 8-MgKv laser through the Stjernravyn’s exposed bridge.  The Agamemnon and Retribution hammer the sister-ship destroyer Tryggvason, inflicting enough damage to force her captain to break off the action.  But the Iron Wolves are certainly not silent.  Heavy gunfire from the station, the Scheer, and especially the murderously-accurate fire of the Naginata slash through the starboard bow of the Henry V, tearing open the battleship’s hull, crippling maneuvering thrusters, hitting both forward magazines, knocking out the flag bridge, and setting the main bridge on fire. Rear Admiral Sir Lord Perceval Ian Pinderglove is badly wounded, and Commodore Rhea Aubrey (HMS Kraken) has to take overall command.The engagement begins. The two heaviest “Iron Wolf” ships, Admiral Scheer and Naginata, are also very agile for their size, so they set a high engagement speed. Not as fast as the British, who thunder into the eclipse shadow of this gas giant moon at 30 kilometers per second. Yes, even the 400,000+ ton Henry V. The British make an orderly turn to port to present a broadside to the Eisenwolf Station, but as the Iron Wolves streak toward the station (clearly hoping to present a unified front of massed firepower and point-defense guns), the British switch targets and open fire on the incoming Norwegians and Swedes. The Maas-class destroyer Stjernravyn gets the worst of it, her starboard bow torn open by the heavy rail guns of the Henry V and Kraken. But it’s the little Falklands-class destroyer Sheffield, much further away, that actually lands the killing blow, putting an 8-MgKv laser through the Stjernravyn’s exposed bridge. The Agamemnon and Retribution hammer the sister-ship destroyer Tryggvason, inflicting enough damage to force her captain to break off the action. But the Iron Wolves are certainly not silent. Heavy gunfire from the station, the Scheer, and especially the murderously-accurate fire of the Naginata slash through the starboard bow of the Henry V, tearing open the battleship’s hull, crippling maneuvering thrusters, hitting both forward magazines, knocking out the flag bridge, and setting the main bridge on fire. Rear Admiral Sir Lord Perceval Ian Pinderglove is badly wounded, and Commodore Rhea Aubrey (HMS Kraken) has to take overall command.
The Stjernravyn, crippled with no bridge, collides at 24 kps into the Eisenwolf moon in a titanic thermonuclear explosion.  Fortunately, the interval between the bridge hit and the impact has given most of the crew time to escape the ship.  KMS Trygvasson throws her grav rudders hard to port and banks away from the slaughter.  The Scheer and Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden, Hipper-class light cruiser) fall in alongside the station, setting up what should be a truly withering broadside.  Indeed, the Henry V is hot again … HARD, but not as hard as the Indomitable-class light cruiser HMS Inflictor.  Maneuvering thrusters are hit along with sensors, the aft hangar … the Prussian bombers then strike, and a whole mass driver array is blown clean out of the Inflictor’s hull and an aft 7-GW rail gun turret is sent spinning off into space, trailing a glowing comet’s jet of molten slag.  The ships should be in danger of losing power, but somehow the engineering crew vents just the right compartment into space to smother the fire and super-cool the red-lined reactor core on the starboard reactors (Jenn’s HMS Inflictor has the “Resolute Crew” upgrade – and it pays off).  The Prussians, meanwhile, have finished launching their aerospace strike wing off the Eisenwolf station, even as the first Arado scouts engage and shoot down British torpedoes fired from HMS Kraken and the carrier HMS Vindictive.  At the same time, however, the British put everything, EVERYTHING, into the Admiral Scheer, positively tearing open the Prussian battlewagon’s starboard quarter.  Among the systems hit are the starboard quarter maneuvering thrusters, a critical blow in the moments to come …    The Stjernravyn, crippled with no bridge, collides at 24 kps into the Eisenwolf moon in a titanic thermonuclear explosion. Fortunately, the interval between the bridge hit and the impact has given most of the crew time to escape the ship. KMS Trygvasson throws her grav rudders hard to port and banks away from the slaughter. The Scheer and Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden, Hipper-class light cruiser) fall in alongside the station, setting up what should be a truly withering broadside. Indeed, the Henry V is hot again … HARD, but not as hard as the Indomitable-class light cruiser HMS Inflictor. Maneuvering thrusters are hit along with sensors, the aft hangar … the Prussian bombers then strike, and a whole mass driver array is blown clean out of the Inflictor’s hull and an aft 7-GW rail gun turret is sent spinning off into space, trailing a glowing comet’s jet of molten slag. The ships should be in danger of losing power, but somehow the engineering crew vents just the right compartment into space to smother the fire and super-cool the red-lined reactor core on the starboard reactors (Jenn’s HMS Inflictor has the “Resolute Crew” upgrade – and it pays off). The Prussians, meanwhile, have finished launching their aerospace strike wing off the Eisenwolf station, even as the first Arado scouts engage and shoot down British torpedoes fired from HMS Kraken and the carrier HMS Vindictive. At the same time, however, the British put everything, EVERYTHING, into the Admiral Scheer, positively tearing open the Prussian battlewagon’s starboard quarter. Among the systems hit are the starboard quarter maneuvering thrusters, a critical blow in the moments to come …
The Prussians … are in trouble. The Scheer’s starboard quarters has been torn open so badly that she HAS to get this part of her hull clear of more British fire.  The problem is, she’s going too fast as sixty seconds ago, her starboard quarter maneuvering thruster has been damaged.  So she can’t slow, turn, AND roll … at least not before the Agamemnon and Kraken cut in behind her and put a double broadside into her exposed reactors and engines.  She fires full braking thrusters and manages a turn to starboard, at least forcing the British to hit full acceleration to get the firing arcs they need.  Not all the British ships will make it, but with the heavy cruiser Kraken and Agamemnon, and the light cruisers Retribution and Inflictor, it will be enough.  Thus, the Iron Wolves make a desperate move.  The Naginata kicks her grav rudders hard to starboard, diving straight behind the Agamemnon and Retribution.  The move is virtual suicide, especially with Vindictive’s aerospace strike group poised to launch a full torpedo and missile spread.  But the captain of the Naginata, Hiromi Ozawa, knows she can take out the Agamemnon and possibly the Retribution, and by drawing fire, she just may save the Admiral Scheer.  The plan … ALMOST works.  The Agamemnon is indeed murdered by the point-blank broadside of heavy Japanese EPCs straight into her engines, the Retribution likewise taking a horrific mauling.  By some miracle the Retribution will survive … for now.  The Kraken turns her guns toward the Naginata, and combined with the British aerospace strike launched from the carrier HMS Vindictive, cripples the Naginata.  But the last broadsides from the Agamemnon and Retribution, combined with the remaining guns of the blazing Inflictor, are just enough to take down the Prussian battleship.  This courage costs the Inflictor, course, crippled in turn by the dying Admiral Scheer, even as the massed Prussian fighter group is slaughtered by British point-defense guns as they try to screen the doomed Naginata from British torpedoes launched from Vindictive, Kraken, and the British “Star Typhoon” bombers.  The Prussians … are in trouble. The Scheer’s starboard quarters has been torn open so badly that she HAS to get this part of her hull clear of more British fire. The problem is, she’s going too fast as sixty seconds ago, her starboard quarter maneuvering thruster has been damaged. So she can’t slow, turn, AND roll … at least not before the Agamemnon and Kraken cut in behind her and put a double broadside into her exposed reactors and engines. She fires full braking thrusters and manages a turn to starboard, at least forcing the British to hit full acceleration to get the firing arcs they need. Not all the British ships will make it, but with the heavy cruiser Kraken and Agamemnon, and the light cruisers Retribution and Inflictor, it will be enough. Thus, the Iron Wolves make a desperate move. The Naginata kicks her grav rudders hard to starboard, diving straight behind the Agamemnon and Retribution. The move is virtual suicide, especially with Vindictive’s aerospace strike group poised to launch a full torpedo and missile spread. But the captain of the Naginata, Hiromi Ozawa, knows she can take out the Agamemnon and possibly the Retribution, and by drawing fire, she just may save the Admiral Scheer. The plan … ALMOST works. The Agamemnon is indeed murdered by the point-blank broadside of heavy Japanese EPCs straight into her engines, the Retribution likewise taking a horrific mauling. By some miracle the Retribution will survive … for now. The Kraken turns her guns toward the Naginata, and combined with the British aerospace strike launched from the carrier HMS Vindictive, cripples the Naginata. But the last broadsides from the Agamemnon and Retribution, combined with the remaining guns of the blazing Inflictor, are just enough to take down the Prussian battleship. This courage costs the Inflictor, course, crippled in turn by the dying Admiral Scheer, even as the massed Prussian fighter group is slaughtered by British point-defense guns as they try to screen the doomed Naginata from British torpedoes launched from Vindictive, Kraken, and the British “Star Typhoon” bombers.
With their desperate gambit having failed, and proved hideously expensive in the process, the Iron Wolves have clearly  lost this battle.  Their last ship, the light cruiser Skjoldmo, valiantly protects the Eisenwolf station, and takes the full firepower of the British fleet for her trouble.  But with the British fleet themselves so badly mauled, and now terribly disorganized, Skjoldmo actually survives.  Furthermore, the “Shield Maiden” and the heavy guns of the station hammer the retribution, which again survives by a miracle … and also the Henry V … again.With their desperate gambit having failed, and proved hideously expensive in the process, the Iron Wolves have clearly lost this battle. Their last ship, the light cruiser Skjoldmo, valiantly protects the Eisenwolf station, and takes the full firepower of the British fleet for her trouble. But with the British fleet themselves so badly mauled, and now terribly disorganized, Skjoldmo actually survives. Furthermore, the “Shield Maiden” and the heavy guns of the station hammer the retribution, which again survives by a miracle … and also the Henry V … again.
The Retribution tries to limp away, but by now has lost two complete engines and three maneuvering thrusters … she literally can do little more than drift.  She’s also lost her aft shields entirely, so the Skjoldmo turns away from the station long enough to put a 8-gw rail gun broadside into her fantail and cripple the Retribution for good.  Of course this dooms  the Skjoldmo as well, after a blistering broadside from Kraken and the Henry V … while the Vindictive starts recovering her bombers and fighters to rearm them for a second aerospace strike.  While none of this bodes well for the Prussians, it does mean that no one is firing at the station, which now opens fire at short range into the heavy cruiser Kraken.  Previously undamaged, the mighty Iron Duke-class cruiser is ripped wide open by the station’s enormous batteries, losing some mass drivers and her starboard bow shields.  The Prussians seem determined to go down fighting.The Retribution tries to limp away, but by now has lost two complete engines and three maneuvering thrusters … she literally can do little more than drift. She’s also lost her aft shields entirely, so the Skjoldmo turns away from the station long enough to put a 8-gw rail gun broadside into her fantail and cripple the Retribution for good. Of course this dooms the Skjoldmo as well, after a blistering broadside from Kraken and the Henry V … while the Vindictive starts recovering her bombers and fighters to rearm them for a second aerospace strike. While none of this bodes well for the Prussians, it does mean that no one is firing at the station, which now opens fire at short range into the heavy cruiser Kraken. Previously undamaged, the mighty Iron Duke-class cruiser is ripped wide open by the station’s enormous batteries, losing some mass drivers and her starboard bow shields. The Prussians seem determined to go down fighting.
The end of Turn 6, when we decided to call this game (just short of seven hours at this point).   The Prussians have managed to launch their re-armed bomber group, and hit the Henry V on the port bow along with another withering cannonade from the station’s heavy guns.  They did significant damage, but not enough to cripple the British dreadnought.  Meanwhile, the British fleet again hammers the station, but against that kind of armor and shielding, it’s going to be slow going.  Another round or two might have ended it (Darkstar Assault games usually end on Turn 8) but no matter what the Prussians were losing this one.  Their best case scenario was to cripple HMS Henry V as they lose the station, which would still leave them facing HMS Kraken, Vindictive, and Sheffield, over 300 points.  Even if the station by some miracle survived until the end of Turn 8, HMS Kraken, Vindictive, and Sheffield would provide enough of a margin of victory on scenario points.  The end of Turn 6, when we decided to call this game (just short of seven hours at this point). The Prussians have managed to launch their re-armed bomber group, and hit the Henry V on the port bow along with another withering cannonade from the station’s heavy guns. They did significant damage, but not enough to cripple the British dreadnought. Meanwhile, the British fleet again hammers the station, but against that kind of armor and shielding, it’s going to be slow going. Another round or two might have ended it (Darkstar Assault games usually end on Turn 8) but no matter what the Prussians were losing this one. Their best case scenario was to cripple HMS Henry V as they lose the station, which would still leave them facing HMS Kraken, Vindictive, and Sheffield, over 300 points. Even if the station by some miracle survived until the end of Turn 8, HMS Kraken, Vindictive, and Sheffield would provide enough of a margin of victory on scenario points.
The Warship Record Sheet (WRS) of the HMS Henry V.  You can see where one more good wallop on the port bow MIGHT have hit the bridge and left her crippled, but there’s no guarantee the British would be so accommodating as to present that facing to the immobile station.  Port or starboard quarters could be presented with fresh shielding and armor, and still allow British 14-GW rail gun broadsides against the Eisenwolf Colony.  The Warship Record Sheet (WRS) of the HMS Henry V. You can see where one more good wallop on the port bow MIGHT have hit the bridge and left her crippled, but there’s no guarantee the British would be so accommodating as to present that facing to the immobile station. Port or starboard quarters could be presented with fresh shielding and armor, and still allow British 14-GW rail gun broadsides against the Eisenwolf Colony.
Eisenwolf Station and the Norwegian light cruiser Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden).  You can see where torpedoes from the HMS Vindictive drilled through the bridge and crippled the ship.  It’s not often that a carrier gets a “surface kill” against another capital ship, usually scoring such victories with aerospace strikes.  But it happened here.  Meanwhile, you can see where the Eisenwolf colony could have easily lasted at least one more turn, if not two.  Their shielding and armor are incredible.  But being immobile, once they lose their protective fleet of warships and strike craft, eventual defeat, power-downs, and assault boardings are all but certain.Eisenwolf Station and the Norwegian light cruiser Skjoldmo (Shield Maiden). You can see where torpedoes from the HMS Vindictive drilled through the bridge and crippled the ship. It’s not often that a carrier gets a “surface kill” against another capital ship, usually scoring such victories with aerospace strikes. But it happened here. Meanwhile, you can see where the Eisenwolf colony could have easily lasted at least one more turn, if not two. Their shielding and armor are incredible. But being immobile, once they lose their protective fleet of warships and strike craft, eventual defeat, power-downs, and assault boardings are all but certain.
The WRS for the Prussian battleship Admiral Scheer.  You can see where the massed British fleet had to hit the same area … twice, to finally cripple the dreadnought.  Even then, power-down wasn’t certain (3+ needed on a d6).  Had the Scheer been doing just one velocity point less, she might have been able to make the turn or roll to prevent this power-down for at least one more turn … one more turn for her eight 15-GW guns to cripple another British cruiser or at least put a few more holes in Henry V.  >>> CONCLUSION:  So that’s it, the War of Annabel’s Star is over.  The British certainly won, as did the Panasians (the Chinese battleships Red Tiger won two major victories) and the Holy Russian Empire (after a rough start, my Russian “Lazarev” cruiser group really got on a roll).   The Japanese were technically part of the losing coalition, but they didn’t lose that many battles.  Both @aras and @rasmus won many battles with them.  They’re going to be able to cut a deal and probably call this one a draw.   The Black Dragons never won a battle, nor did the New Romans (including my poor French, who at best managed to steal one draw against Damon’s British).  The Prussians are also losers in this one, with three crippled battleships in this war (the Von Der Tann, and the Scheer … twice).      The WRS for the Prussian battleship Admiral Scheer. You can see where the massed British fleet had to hit the same area … twice, to finally cripple the dreadnought. Even then, power-down wasn’t certain (3+ needed on a d6). Had the Scheer been doing just one velocity point less, she might have been able to make the turn or roll to prevent this power-down for at least one more turn … one more turn for her eight 15-GW guns to cripple another British cruiser or at least put a few more holes in Henry V. >>> CONCLUSION: So that’s it, the War of Annabel’s Star is over. The British certainly won, as did the Panasians (the Chinese battleships Red Tiger won two major victories) and the Holy Russian Empire (after a rough start, my Russian “Lazarev” cruiser group really got on a roll). The Japanese were technically part of the losing coalition, but they didn’t lose that many battles. Both @aras and @rasmus won many battles with them. They’re going to be able to cut a deal and probably call this one a draw. The Black Dragons never won a battle, nor did the New Romans (including my poor French, who at best managed to steal one draw against Damon’s British). The Prussians are also losers in this one, with three crippled battleships in this war (the Von Der Tann, and the Scheer … twice).

Darkstar Campaign?

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
14 Comments

I’d love to start a Darkstar Campaign.  I don’t want to speak for anyone, but I feel we could get myself, @damon, and @rasmus lined up, as well as @gladesrunner – that’s four.

I would want to close out THIS project first.  It’s really big and cumbersome, takes forever to load – understandably – and I’ve noticed some of the earlier entries have dropped off.

Turns out there is a “size limit” to these projects after all.

I’d like to hit 3500 recommendations on this one, so have a clean cut-over point.  So once we hit 3500, there’ll be a new Darkstar project and this one can finally be retired.  😀  Hopefully the new one might kick off with a new campaign, if anyone is interested?

Rasmus v. Damon (Japanese v. Royal Navy)

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
4 Comments

It’s time for more Darkstar, with a somewhat belated battle report for @rasmus and @damon .

As fans of the project may be aware, we’ve been puttering around with the tail end of the “Duchess Annabel’s War” campaign for a while. This has been a long-running struggle with a complex backstory, which honestly should have ended by now, but I’ve been using it as a “sandbox campaign” to bring in new Darkstar players until we build up steam for a fresh campaign with hand-picked factions.

For now, “Duchess Annabel’s War” started about two “game years” ago in 2517. The fuse lit when the Panasian Union (Chinese) and the Holy Russian Empire desperately needed new allies for the ongoing war against the frontier colonial rebels of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State (commonly called the Black Dragons – a separate but related war that’s been going on for almost eight years). As Black Dragon raiders scored more and more successes in the Libra-Sagittarius colonies, the sector destabilized and Imperial Prussian and Japanese commanders smelled blood in the water. They saw a chance to take a slice out of the faltering Panasian and Russian colonies in the area. As if the Russians and Panasian didn’t have enough woes, the New Roman Alliance (France, Spain, Italy) was soon growing aggressive as well.

Traditionally, the British really couldn’t care less about the ongoing horrors of the “Black Dragon War” – even as more traditional powers began to involve themselves. The British have only one major colony in this area, the “Annabel’s Star” colony at 41 Arae. Once bestowed as a royal wedding gift, “Duchess Annabel’s Star” has grown into a major trade bottleneck from the outer Libra-Sagittarius colonies toward Sol, which powerful British companies have leveraged for tax and tariff revenue for almost 40 years.

But the prospect of Prussian, New Roman, and Japanese aggression in the area, whether it comes with Black Dragon rebels or not, is a threat the British shipping moguls cannot abide. This is a direct threat to British shipping monopolies, and thus the bank accounts of very powerful people who control certain figures in the Privy Council and Parliament. Ergo, by 2517 the Royal Navy has found itself allied with the Holy Russian Empire and the Panasian Union against the Prussians, New Romans, Japanese, and even Black Dragons.

The British were doing very well for a while, then very badly. Things seemed to be turning around by mid-September 2519, when the newly-commissioned “Agamemnon” Cruiser Squadron met a Black Dragon carrier raiding force and despite a savage aerospace strike, the British rallied and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the New Bremerhaven colony (Gleise 581 – see previous entry in this project). So startling was the upset that the British actually established a small presence in this former Prussian star system, which they hoped to trade back to Berlin at the peace table in exchange for favorable terms and a treaty guaranteeing British shipping rights through the sector.

But while the Black Dragon rebels are licking their wounds and the Prussians are willing to sign a deal, the Japanese are still anxious to get their licks in. The Japanese “Kama” cruiser strike squadron just dropped out of its Darkstar wave, having completed a 30-lightyear jump from Songubado Colony (HD140901). The Japanese have been in their Darkstar Wave for over a month, they may not have even heard the war is trying to wind down. Not that it matters now, both sides are decelerating to combat speed and powering up guns and shields.

Another battle is on!

September 21, 2519 – New Bremerhaven (Gleise 581 - M3V Red Dwarf - 20 LY from Sol)

Overall campaign area for the ongoing “Duchess Annabel’s War.”Overall campaign area for the ongoing “Duchess Annabel’s War.”
Here’s a quick matchup of the two forces.  The Japanese force seems heavier, and well … it is.  The Kama is a Katana-Class heavy cruiser, practically a pocket battleship that forgoes speed, aerospace craft, or even torpedo launchers for a powerful battery of hull-frying EPCs.  Sleek, fast, modern, and beautiful, the Taiho (Greater Phoenix) class light cruiser Sendai Byo is something of a hypertech glass cannon, but her weapons are absurdly accurate and she can outrun most  destroyers half her weight.  The two Akashi-class strike frigates Urakaze and Sakito are Japanese naval aggression incarnate, to the point where almost every single weapon is mounted forward.  The British, meanwhile, present a much smaller, more nimble and flexible force.  The Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon is still in dry dock, in her place in the Valiant-class light fleet carrier HMS Vestige, carrying elite squadrons of Supermarine Starfire aerospace fighters and Hawker Star Typhoon bombers.  Basically, Damon wanted to try out carriers, and this carrier’s strike group has been upgraded to ELITE to balance the points against Rasmus’ heavy Japanese strike force.    Here’s a quick matchup of the two forces. The Japanese force seems heavier, and well … it is. The Kama is a Katana-Class heavy cruiser, practically a pocket battleship that forgoes speed, aerospace craft, or even torpedo launchers for a powerful battery of hull-frying EPCs. Sleek, fast, modern, and beautiful, the Taiho (Greater Phoenix) class light cruiser Sendai Byo is something of a hypertech glass cannon, but her weapons are absurdly accurate and she can outrun most destroyers half her weight. The two Akashi-class strike frigates Urakaze and Sakito are Japanese naval aggression incarnate, to the point where almost every single weapon is mounted forward. The British, meanwhile, present a much smaller, more nimble and flexible force. The Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon is still in dry dock, in her place in the Valiant-class light fleet carrier HMS Vestige, carrying elite squadrons of Supermarine Starfire aerospace fighters and Hawker Star Typhoon bombers. Basically, Damon wanted to try out carriers, and this carrier’s strike group has been upgraded to ELITE to balance the points against Rasmus’ heavy Japanese strike force.
Now if you’re hoping for up-close gunnery duels, capital ship dogfights, boarding actions, and eye-to-eye broadsides, sorry, this week we do NOT have your game.  The British have a carrier wing, it will take then two turns just to launch everything and then everything will be delivered in a  smashing spread of aerospace torpedoes and missiles.  The Japanese, meanwhile, also want to keep their distance, with insanely accurate guns that can hit at long range, usually out-reaching as well as out-punching the British guns (what few there are).  Both sides also have to watch out for enemy ordinance, the Japanese Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer) and the British aerospace strike launched off HMS Vestige.  So both fleets are going to want to stick together for maximum interlocking point-defense support.    Now if you’re hoping for up-close gunnery duels, capital ship dogfights, boarding actions, and eye-to-eye broadsides, sorry, this week we do NOT have your game. The British have a carrier wing, it will take then two turns just to launch everything and then everything will be delivered in a smashing spread of aerospace torpedoes and missiles. The Japanese, meanwhile, also want to keep their distance, with insanely accurate guns that can hit at long range, usually out-reaching as well as out-punching the British guns (what few there are). Both sides also have to watch out for enemy ordinance, the Japanese Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer) and the British aerospace strike launched off HMS Vestige. So both fleets are going to want to stick together for maximum interlocking point-defense support.
British aerospace launch is now more or less complete, while the Japanese have slung out a full spread of their Ki-45s.  But at the distance these task forces are maintaining (34 hexes = 6120km, roughly the distance between London and Chicago), no one’s really in reach to hit anyone else, yet.  The trick with aerospace or torpedo spreads is to hit the enemy all at once, since their point-defense guns can only shoot down your warheads so fast.  So no one’s in a rush, while the bigger guns in both fleets ping away at each other at standoff (transatlantic) range.British aerospace launch is now more or less complete, while the Japanese have slung out a full spread of their Ki-45s. But at the distance these task forces are maintaining (34 hexes = 6120km, roughly the distance between London and Chicago), no one’s really in reach to hit anyone else, yet. The trick with aerospace or torpedo spreads is to hit the enemy all at once, since their point-defense guns can only shoot down your warheads so fast. So no one’s in a rush, while the bigger guns in both fleets ping away at each other at standoff (transatlantic) range.
Still closing … Still maintaining formations.  Stay on target … STAY ON TARGET … These cruisers, destroyers, and frigates have been slapping at each other for some time.  Both the British and the Japanese have heavy torpedo and aerospace strikes they hope will knock down at least one enemy warship and thus give their side an edge in the rest of the battle.  This is also a RAID, where victory points are tallied based on ships destroyed, crippled, or driven off, rather than an ASSAULT, where victory is based on ships left standing.  Ergo, voluntary retreat is an option, and both Damon and Rasmus know that if one of these cruisers goes down, the other side can accelerate off the table and claim a win.  Now Japanese torpedo spreads have gone in, but so far the British point defense systems have taken care of them.  With their biggest ship (the heavy cruiser Kama) carrying NO torpedoes in favor of heavy guns, the Japanese task force is SLIGHTLY light in terms of NUMBERS of torpedoes.  But Damon knows what a single Ki-45 “Dragon Slayer” can do.  He can’t afford to let one of those bastards hit.Still closing … Still maintaining formations. Stay on target … STAY ON TARGET … These cruisers, destroyers, and frigates have been slapping at each other for some time. Both the British and the Japanese have heavy torpedo and aerospace strikes they hope will knock down at least one enemy warship and thus give their side an edge in the rest of the battle. This is also a RAID, where victory points are tallied based on ships destroyed, crippled, or driven off, rather than an ASSAULT, where victory is based on ships left standing. Ergo, voluntary retreat is an option, and both Damon and Rasmus know that if one of these cruisers goes down, the other side can accelerate off the table and claim a win. Now Japanese torpedo spreads have gone in, but so far the British point defense systems have taken care of them. With their biggest ship (the heavy cruiser Kama) carrying NO torpedoes in favor of heavy guns, the Japanese task force is SLIGHTLY light in terms of NUMBERS of torpedoes. But Damon knows what a single Ki-45 “Dragon Slayer” can do. He can’t afford to let one of those bastards hit.
Finally, more meaningful fire is exchanged.  As British fighters and bombers draw near the Japanese task force, staying carefully out of range of point defense until the all aerospace and torpedoes can be amassed for a single “alpha strike,” Japanese scouts rush in to engage.  Six scouts are shot down, three by elite British bomber crews, and the rest by the elite British fighters, but the Scouts also bring down two British bombers.  This is actually pretty significant, since each bomber carries two aerospace torpedoes.  Also, as elites, these bombers are worth three points apiece.  So six Japanese scouts at 1 point compared to two British 3-point bombers, so far the score is tied but also … the British torpedo strike is already slightly diluted.Finally, more meaningful fire is exchanged. As British fighters and bombers draw near the Japanese task force, staying carefully out of range of point defense until the all aerospace and torpedoes can be amassed for a single “alpha strike,” Japanese scouts rush in to engage. Six scouts are shot down, three by elite British bomber crews, and the rest by the elite British fighters, but the Scouts also bring down two British bombers. This is actually pretty significant, since each bomber carries two aerospace torpedoes. Also, as elites, these bombers are worth three points apiece. So six Japanese scouts at 1 point compared to two British 3-point bombers, so far the score is tied but also … the British torpedo strike is already slightly diluted.
On Turn 5, both sides are finally in position for what they hope will be a game winning strike.  For the Japanese, this is a gunnery broadside, still at long range … but with the Sendai Byo’s pin-point targeting and the now at Kama’s horrific firepower, it will be enough.  The British Relentless-class light cruiser HMS Retribution has also been heavily mauled through the previous turns, and her port bow armor is badly charred.  Damon executed a roll so the Retribution would present a starboard bow to the Japanese, but now the starboard bow shields just went down.  Fighting the moon’s gravity and with maneuvering thruster damage, the Retribution didn’t have the power to roll back over again, and with an unshielded starboard bow offered up as a target, the Japanese just can’t resist.  Kama and Sendai Byo jackknife turn and power up to hit this vulnerable area, but doing so turns their sterns temptingly to the incoming British aerospace strike.  NOW BOTH PLAYERS have played an extremely cautious, measured, and reserved game.  Now comes the time when both sides throw down.  As it happens, the British aerospace strike is just very unlucky, and the Sendai Byo, although badly damaged, survives.  The same cannot be said for the HMS Retribution, which is hammered by the Kama’s huge EPCs, one bolt going straight against the bridge.  On Turn 5, both sides are finally in position for what they hope will be a game winning strike. For the Japanese, this is a gunnery broadside, still at long range … but with the Sendai Byo’s pin-point targeting and the now at Kama’s horrific firepower, it will be enough. The British Relentless-class light cruiser HMS Retribution has also been heavily mauled through the previous turns, and her port bow armor is badly charred. Damon executed a roll so the Retribution would present a starboard bow to the Japanese, but now the starboard bow shields just went down. Fighting the moon’s gravity and with maneuvering thruster damage, the Retribution didn’t have the power to roll back over again, and with an unshielded starboard bow offered up as a target, the Japanese just can’t resist. Kama and Sendai Byo jackknife turn and power up to hit this vulnerable area, but doing so turns their sterns temptingly to the incoming British aerospace strike. NOW BOTH PLAYERS have played an extremely cautious, measured, and reserved game. Now comes the time when both sides throw down. As it happens, the British aerospace strike is just very unlucky, and the Sendai Byo, although badly damaged, survives. The same cannot be said for the HMS Retribution, which is hammered by the Kama’s huge EPCs, one bolt going straight against the bridge.
The frigate Sakita has also been heavily damaged, but the end result is that the British just never got lucky like they did last week, and no Japanese ship is crippled.  The Retribution is crippled (98 point ship) which gives the Japanese a win.  Damon wisely breaks off, choosing not to hand the Japanese any more victory points in a futile attempt to turn the tide or mitigate the defeat (in an ASSAULT game this logic would be reversed).  So the remaining British shops power off the table.  The Retribution will be taken under tow and eventually brought back into service.  Damon made the right call in breaking off (he no longer had time to land his aerospace craft and rearm for a second strike), since a 98-point ship out of a 272-point game is a 36% margin, JUST SHY of the 40% required for a MAJOR rather than a MINOR Japanese victory.  The frigate Sakita has also been heavily damaged, but the end result is that the British just never got lucky like they did last week, and no Japanese ship is crippled. The Retribution is crippled (98 point ship) which gives the Japanese a win. Damon wisely breaks off, choosing not to hand the Japanese any more victory points in a futile attempt to turn the tide or mitigate the defeat (in an ASSAULT game this logic would be reversed). So the remaining British shops power off the table. The Retribution will be taken under tow and eventually brought back into service. Damon made the right call in breaking off (he no longer had time to land his aerospace craft and rearm for a second strike), since a 98-point ship out of a 272-point game is a 36% margin, JUST SHY of the 40% required for a MAJOR rather than a MINOR Japanese victory.
The Retribution and Sendai after the battle.  The Sendai really shouldn’t have come off as well as she did.  Just sometimes Lady Luck is on one side or the other.  Last week she earnestly courted Damon.  This week the bitch spurned him, HARD.  The Retribution was more or less doomed on Turn 5, but if the Sendai had gone down as well the game still would have been more or less a draw, which means British fighters might have been able to pick off a Japanese frigate while the Kama tried to knock down the destroyer HMS Sheffield.  As it turned out, we had two cautious, wary, and experience players biding their time,  biding their time, biding their time for just the right moment … and when that moment came, it came sideways.  :D  The Retribution and Sendai after the battle. The Sendai really shouldn’t have come off as well as she did. Just sometimes Lady Luck is on one side or the other. Last week she earnestly courted Damon. This week the bitch spurned him, HARD. The Retribution was more or less doomed on Turn 5, but if the Sendai had gone down as well the game still would have been more or less a draw, which means British fighters might have been able to pick off a Japanese frigate while the Kama tried to knock down the destroyer HMS Sheffield. As it turned out, we had two cautious, wary, and experience players biding their time, biding their time, biding their time for just the right moment … and when that moment came, it came sideways. :D

Royal Navy vs. Black Dragons

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
10 Comments

We’re back to the stars, folks, with a return to Darkstar with my friend @damon .

The last year or so of Darkstar play has been a wild ride for the British.  For at least nine months, from @dignity ’s game on camera, to games with @gladesrunner , @davehawes , @damon , and @rasmus , the British just couldn’t seem to lose.  My Japanese lost to them twice.  My Russians barely survived.  Imperial Prussian battleships were broken.  The renegade Black Dragons couldn’t catch a break.  My French were beaten so badly I actually lost one of my commanders … Even when things started going badly for them, the British would rally back for at least a draw if not a narrow win, as we saw with @elessar2590 against a powerful force of Prussians.

Then about three months ago, the British started losing.  A lot.  @rasmus scored a win with his Japanese.  My French finally rallied enough to steal a draw.  The Panasian battleship Honghu (Red Tiger) crushed a British cruiser force.  Worst of all were the Russians, who came back against the British … hard.  And not just with Damon’s British, but Gladesrunner and as well.   The British were smashed over and again, to the point where in a recent game, quite by accident, Damon lost his whole fleet.  As in the ships weren’t just beaten, but destroyed (actually somewhat of a rarity in Darkstar).  The whole task force, the cruiser Bellerophon (“Billy Ruffian), the light cruiser Indefatigable, and the destroyer Terpsichore, all were gone in a single disastrous afternoon.  Although all of Damon’s commanders survived, the task force itself had to be rebuilt from scratch with all new ships.

Yesterday, that new task force saw combat for the first time.  The new flagship was the recently-completed Trafalgar class “fast cruiser” Agamemnon, with an upgraded engine plant making this 145,000-ton heavy cruiser as fast in sublight as most destroyers.   Sleek, modern, and also fast for her type, the Relentless class light cruiser Retribution replaced the venerable Indefatigable.  She carried most of “Indy’s” expert gunnery crews now aboard, and so added the Indefatigable’s years of experience to far more advanced targeting systems.  Finally, the new Falklands class fleet destroyer Sheffield filled the role of her late sistership, Terpsichore – fast, advanced, and bristling with aerospace defense mass drivers.

Meanwhile, “Duchess Annabel’s War” continued in the Second Band of Libra, Ara, Scorpio, and Sagittarius constellations.  Having started out as a trade and tariff dispute between shipping lanes through the British-controlled “Annabel’s Star” (41 Arae)  system, the issue had ignited into a local war against the nearby Prussian Eisenwolf Colony (Gleise 570).  But now that war has dragged in other powers, with the New Roman Alliance and Japanese joining the Prussians.  Outnumbered three-to-one, the British courted allies with other major powers in the sector, namely the Panasian Union (Chinese) and Holy Russian Empire.  These nations had huge industrial colonies closer to Sol along these trading routes, and in exchange for support the British promised favorable shipping treaties through the “Annabel’s Star” system, which the Panasians and Russians desperately needed in their ongoing war against the renegade “Black Dragons” of the self-proclaimed Khitan-Tunguska Free State.

Which, in a very roundabout way, brings us to today’s battle.  With the Black Dragons now an enemy of the British as well in the Libra-Sagittarius sector, the newly-refurbished Agamemnon cruiser squadron is given orders to preempt a possible threat building up in the Prussian star system of New Bremerhaven (Gleise 581).  Black Dragon cruisers have been detected there by snooping British “Q-Class” gunboats and “Superb” class torpedo corvettes.  The Agamemnon cruiser squadron is ordered to set a high-speed Darkstar Wave into the enemy star system, engage and damage the Black Dragon rebels as badly as possible, and then get home.

Make no mistake, this is a raid, not an assault.  Although the British are in no position to invade New Bremerhaven at the moment, the British need this win not only to counter the growing Prussian-Black Dragon threat against Annabel’s Star, but also to steady their Panasian allies and smooth things over with the Holy Russian Empire.

So can Damon use his new fleet to get a comeback going for the British, and end this recent British losing streak?

September 14, 2519 – New Bremerhaven (Gleise 581 - M3V Red Dwarf - 20 LY from Sol)

The Agamemnon and her escorts drop out of their Darkstar wave and begin hard deceleration to attack speed.  With their advanced powerplants, especially aboard the Agamemnon herself (seriously, the fastest heavy cruiser ANYWHERE in Darkstar at the moment), they were able to shave their Darkstar exits relatively close to the outer moons of a Gleise 581 gas giant. However, with such large ships setting such fast Darkstar waves, the gravimetric disruption was significant and enemy detection was inevitable.  Sure enough, the Black Dragons have a sizable force already on a hard intercept course, including two former Slava class heavy cruiser and a former Gagarin class light fleet carrier.

Here we see the British (top) and Black Dragon (bottom) cruiser forces on their approach.  The moon is a big one, slightly smaller than the planet Mars.  Here the opposing task forces are almost 5400 kilometers apart, yet are already exchanging long range gunnery.  Ominously, the Black Dragons are also launching waves of bombers and scouts from the light fleet carrier Kazhinkova, vectoring toward the British ships along with a hair of P-500 “Plamya” torpedoes.  British scouts, hopelessly outnumbered, fly out to meet the threat, hoping to shoot down at least some of the torpedoes before they reach the British cruisers.  The Black Dragons, for their part, are using the moon to their advantage.  First, by hugging the moon and turning away from it, they’re forcing the British to turn TOWARD the moon to engage them (never a good thing).  Second, those big Slava class cruisers are moving very fast ... the better to close the range and take away the British advantages in long-range accuracy.  But they’re also ponderous, and the moon’s gravity will help them slow down when it comes time to engage.Here we see the British (top) and Black Dragon (bottom) cruiser forces on their approach. The moon is a big one, slightly smaller than the planet Mars. Here the opposing task forces are almost 5400 kilometers apart, yet are already exchanging long range gunnery. Ominously, the Black Dragons are also launching waves of bombers and scouts from the light fleet carrier Kazhinkova, vectoring toward the British ships along with a hair of P-500 “Plamya” torpedoes. British scouts, hopelessly outnumbered, fly out to meet the threat, hoping to shoot down at least some of the torpedoes before they reach the British cruisers. The Black Dragons, for their part, are using the moon to their advantage. First, by hugging the moon and turning away from it, they’re forcing the British to turn TOWARD the moon to engage them (never a good thing). Second, those big Slava class cruisers are moving very fast ... the better to close the range and take away the British advantages in long-range accuracy. But they’re also ponderous, and the moon’s gravity will help them slow down when it comes time to engage.
The Black Dragons draw first blood.  As British scout planes manage to shoot down one of the torpedoes, Black Dragon scouts shoot down a British scout.  Black Dragon fighters (a far bigger threat) have now also launched (carriers are limited in how many aerospace craft they can launch in a given turn) and are escorting the bombers in.  The bombers could have launched their ordinance this turn, but do not, opting to wait until ALL torpedoes are in range (P-500s, aerospace missiles from the fighters, and aerospace torpedoes from the bombers).  This is going to be a big one, and I as the Black Dragon player really only have one chance at it.  Playing with carriers in Darkstar is tricky, an attack can take up to four turns to set up and execute, but you have to watch distance, timing, and angles VERY closely.  If it comes together, though ... watch out. The Black Dragons draw first blood. As British scout planes manage to shoot down one of the torpedoes, Black Dragon scouts shoot down a British scout. Black Dragon fighters (a far bigger threat) have now also launched (carriers are limited in how many aerospace craft they can launch in a given turn) and are escorting the bombers in. The bombers could have launched their ordinance this turn, but do not, opting to wait until ALL torpedoes are in range (P-500s, aerospace missiles from the fighters, and aerospace torpedoes from the bombers). This is going to be a big one, and I as the Black Dragon player really only have one chance at it. Playing with carriers in Darkstar is tricky, an attack can take up to four turns to set up and execute, but you have to watch distance, timing, and angles VERY closely. If it comes together, though ... watch out.
It comes together.  The Black Dragon heavy cruiser Zharazyev turns to port to try to set up broadside against the incoming British cruisers.  Damon hits the gas, HARD, accelerating to 33 kilometers per second and diving down with the Agamemnon and Sheffield to cross Zharazyev’s stern with broadsides instead.  It’s a distant broadside, but given British targeting electronics, it should still be a good move.  Unfortunately, it also allows the Black Dragon cruiser Vahlkhin to S-turn behind the Agamemnon in turn, putting a far more dangerous broadside right into Agamemnon’s engines.  Perhaps making matters worse, the Retribution breaks off Agamemnon’s starboard beam, hoping for a cross of Valhkhin’s stern.  A sound maneuver, except now British aerospace mass driver defense is split JUST at the time the combined torpedoes of all three Black Dragon capital ships and the complete aerospace strike of the Kalzhinkova makes its terminal approach.  The British mass drivers open fire and knock down almost all the bombers’ torpedoes, but this just lets the fighter missiles and the P500s of the capital ships come in.  Agamemnon is positively torn apart astern, especially once Vahlkhin opens fire point-blank with a full broadside 10-gigawatt rail guns and 30-kilogram plasma pulse projectors.  Never mind “crippled,” the Agamemnon should have exploded here.  In game terms she had an 80% chance of exploding across the stars in a miniature supernova [(18 critical boxes hit) - (heavy cruiser’s cripple target of 14+) x (20% for heavy cruiser)] = 80%).  But an 83 is rolled on percentile dice.  By some MIRACLE, the Agamemnon’s engineers eject the reactor core BEFORE it explodes.  The ship is crippled straight off in her first battle, but at least she will PROBABLY survive and after six months in dry dock, perhaps see action again.  But yeah ... THAT’S how you do a carrier strike.  It seems the British losing streak isn’t over yet.It comes together. The Black Dragon heavy cruiser Zharazyev turns to port to try to set up broadside against the incoming British cruisers. Damon hits the gas, HARD, accelerating to 33 kilometers per second and diving down with the Agamemnon and Sheffield to cross Zharazyev’s stern with broadsides instead. It’s a distant broadside, but given British targeting electronics, it should still be a good move. Unfortunately, it also allows the Black Dragon cruiser Vahlkhin to S-turn behind the Agamemnon in turn, putting a far more dangerous broadside right into Agamemnon’s engines. Perhaps making matters worse, the Retribution breaks off Agamemnon’s starboard beam, hoping for a cross of Valhkhin’s stern. A sound maneuver, except now British aerospace mass driver defense is split JUST at the time the combined torpedoes of all three Black Dragon capital ships and the complete aerospace strike of the Kalzhinkova makes its terminal approach. The British mass drivers open fire and knock down almost all the bombers’ torpedoes, but this just lets the fighter missiles and the P500s of the capital ships come in. Agamemnon is positively torn apart astern, especially once Vahlkhin opens fire point-blank with a full broadside 10-gigawatt rail guns and 30-kilogram plasma pulse projectors. Never mind “crippled,” the Agamemnon should have exploded here. In game terms she had an 80% chance of exploding across the stars in a miniature supernova [(18 critical boxes hit) - (heavy cruiser’s cripple target of 14+) x (20% for heavy cruiser)] = 80%). But an 83 is rolled on percentile dice. By some MIRACLE, the Agamemnon’s engineers eject the reactor core BEFORE it explodes. The ship is crippled straight off in her first battle, but at least she will PROBABLY survive and after six months in dry dock, perhaps see action again. But yeah ... THAT’S how you do a carrier strike. It seems the British losing streak isn’t over yet.
The British fleet is down to half strength, having lost its biggest warship to a deadly carrier strike and close range broadside.  Now the British have to rally ... if they can.  The Black Dragons, meanwhile, have to reorganize their fleet.  Last turn’s maneuvers scattered them everywhere, and their aerospace strike wing has shot its bolt.  Accordingly the carrier Kazhinkova maneuvers to get close enough for her bombers to land THIS TURN, beginning he process to rearm and re-launch for a second strike. Meanwhile, the ponderous Slava cruisers, both damaged in last turn’s gunnery but nowhere near in danger yet, try to slow down and turn toward each other.  The Sheffield and the Retribution fire double broadsides into the stern of the Kazhinkova to cripple her, hopefully while her bays are still loaded with those bombers and some fighters.  While they do appreciable damage, Damon JUST MISSES the roll the cripple her (the roll was a 5+, he rolled a 4).  All British scouts are also lost.The British fleet is down to half strength, having lost its biggest warship to a deadly carrier strike and close range broadside. Now the British have to rally ... if they can. The Black Dragons, meanwhile, have to reorganize their fleet. Last turn’s maneuvers scattered them everywhere, and their aerospace strike wing has shot its bolt. Accordingly the carrier Kazhinkova maneuvers to get close enough for her bombers to land THIS TURN, beginning he process to rearm and re-launch for a second strike. Meanwhile, the ponderous Slava cruisers, both damaged in last turn’s gunnery but nowhere near in danger yet, try to slow down and turn toward each other. The Sheffield and the Retribution fire double broadsides into the stern of the Kazhinkova to cripple her, hopefully while her bays are still loaded with those bombers and some fighters. While they do appreciable damage, Damon JUST MISSES the roll the cripple her (the roll was a 5+, he rolled a 4). All British scouts are also lost.
The Black Dragon advantage is firepower comes at a cost ... they’re much slower than the British ships, and this has a big impact on initiative.  In summary, the Black Dragons LOSE initiative on Turn 5, hard.  Then again, they totally have this game in the bag.  Remember this is a RAID, so ships that are destroyed are counted for victory points (as opposed to ship remaining in the battle area at the end of the game).  This means RETREAT IS AN OPTION.  Having crippled (damned near destroyed) a 142-point British heavy cruiser, if the Black Dragons can just break off now, they win the game ... SIGNIFICANTLY.  But again, these big Slava class heavy cruisers aren’t exactly Ferraris, and as they power up to get off the table, the Retribution and Sheffield cut in behind them for broadsides across their sterns.  The Retribution fires first, putting her aft turret of 7-gigawatt rail guns and 8-megakelvin lasers into the stern of the Kazhinkova.  This second broadside finishes the job started on Turn 4, and the Black Dragon carrier is crippled just as she’s getting ready to re-launch those fighters and bombers.  Forward turrets are put into the stern of the Zharazyev , but the Vahlkhin’s broadside smashes open the Retribution’s fo’c’sle and port bow, putting a 10 GW rail gun bolt straight through the Retribution’s bridge.  Torpedoes and fighters tear into the Sheffield’s stern, but with mass driver defense and enhanced ECM and gravitic shielding, the scrappy little destroyer survives.  The Sheffield is right behind the Zharazyev, and releases point-blank laser and syglex (synchronized gravitically-lenses x-rays, 60 eHz band) into the Zharazyev’s stern.  The Zharazyev ALMOST survives.  After all damage is assessed, Damon had to roll a 2+ to cripple her ... and rolled exactly that, a 2.The Black Dragon advantage is firepower comes at a cost ... they’re much slower than the British ships, and this has a big impact on initiative. In summary, the Black Dragons LOSE initiative on Turn 5, hard. Then again, they totally have this game in the bag. Remember this is a RAID, so ships that are destroyed are counted for victory points (as opposed to ship remaining in the battle area at the end of the game). This means RETREAT IS AN OPTION. Having crippled (damned near destroyed) a 142-point British heavy cruiser, if the Black Dragons can just break off now, they win the game ... SIGNIFICANTLY. But again, these big Slava class heavy cruisers aren’t exactly Ferraris, and as they power up to get off the table, the Retribution and Sheffield cut in behind them for broadsides across their sterns. The Retribution fires first, putting her aft turret of 7-gigawatt rail guns and 8-megakelvin lasers into the stern of the Kazhinkova. This second broadside finishes the job started on Turn 4, and the Black Dragon carrier is crippled just as she’s getting ready to re-launch those fighters and bombers. Forward turrets are put into the stern of the Zharazyev , but the Vahlkhin’s broadside smashes open the Retribution’s fo’c’sle and port bow, putting a 10 GW rail gun bolt straight through the Retribution’s bridge. Torpedoes and fighters tear into the Sheffield’s stern, but with mass driver defense and enhanced ECM and gravitic shielding, the scrappy little destroyer survives. The Sheffield is right behind the Zharazyev, and releases point-blank laser and syglex (synchronized gravitically-lenses x-rays, 60 eHz band) into the Zharazyev’s stern. The Zharazyev ALMOST survives. After all damage is assessed, Damon had to roll a 2+ to cripple her ... and rolled exactly that, a 2.
Just that fast, the battle is wrapping up, and the British have a slender chance of actually stealing back a victory.  All ships are crippled except the damaged 160,000 ton Vahlkhin and the 39,900 ton Sheffield.  The Vahlkhin is just trying to break off, IF SHE MAKES IT OFF the top of the table, the Black Dragons win (having crippled 244 points of British shipping vs. the British score of 177).  If the Sheffield can cripple Vahlkhin before she escapes, the British win ... BUT ... the Vahlkhin outweighs the Sheffield by 4:1, and Vahlkhin is powering up to escape, the Sheffield is damaged herself, and has Black Dragon fighters and torpedoes still on her ass.  If the Sheffield is crippled as well, the game is again a Black Dragon victory (by virtue of remaining fighters and scouts).  So the Sheffield has to cripple a ship four times her size, THIS TURN, all while not being critically damaged herself.  The Vahlkhin dumps everything she can into her engines, and accelerates to 27 kps.  She literally makes it to the LAST HEX of the map, but doesn’t quite escape.  One more hex, and this game ends right here as a Black Dragon win.  The Sheffield makes the hardest turn to port she can, moving at 33 kps right behind Vahlkhin in a desperate stern chase. From this position, only forward guns could hit, but it was the best option.  The Sheffield shot down enemy torpedoes and the Black Dragon fighters missed, but the Vahlkhin’s aft batteries positively mauled the Sheffield’s bow.  But she survived.  So now the Sheffield had cleared the first two obstacles to victory, the Valkhin didn’t escape this turn and the Sheffield survived Black Dragon defenses.  Finally the Sheffield fired, but even now chances of victory were slim at best.  Sheffield had to hit with almost everything, but she did.  Then those weapons had to hit the huge cruiser in the right PLACES, and they did ... mostly.  Even with all this, however, the Vahlkhin had lost only 8 critical boxes.  Heavy cruisers start on a “cripple roll” of 14+, minus one for each crit box hit.  14-8=6, giving Damon a 6+ chance to cripple Vahlkhin and win the game.  HE ROLLS IT.  The Valkhin is crippled and the Sheffield is not, ending this epic “David vs. Goliath” story with an unlikely but well-deserved British win.Just that fast, the battle is wrapping up, and the British have a slender chance of actually stealing back a victory. All ships are crippled except the damaged 160,000 ton Vahlkhin and the 39,900 ton Sheffield. The Vahlkhin is just trying to break off, IF SHE MAKES IT OFF the top of the table, the Black Dragons win (having crippled 244 points of British shipping vs. the British score of 177). If the Sheffield can cripple Vahlkhin before she escapes, the British win ... BUT ... the Vahlkhin outweighs the Sheffield by 4:1, and Vahlkhin is powering up to escape, the Sheffield is damaged herself, and has Black Dragon fighters and torpedoes still on her ass. If the Sheffield is crippled as well, the game is again a Black Dragon victory (by virtue of remaining fighters and scouts). So the Sheffield has to cripple a ship four times her size, THIS TURN, all while not being critically damaged herself. The Vahlkhin dumps everything she can into her engines, and accelerates to 27 kps. She literally makes it to the LAST HEX of the map, but doesn’t quite escape. One more hex, and this game ends right here as a Black Dragon win. The Sheffield makes the hardest turn to port she can, moving at 33 kps right behind Vahlkhin in a desperate stern chase. From this position, only forward guns could hit, but it was the best option. The Sheffield shot down enemy torpedoes and the Black Dragon fighters missed, but the Vahlkhin’s aft batteries positively mauled the Sheffield’s bow. But she survived. So now the Sheffield had cleared the first two obstacles to victory, the Valkhin didn’t escape this turn and the Sheffield survived Black Dragon defenses. Finally the Sheffield fired, but even now chances of victory were slim at best. Sheffield had to hit with almost everything, but she did. Then those weapons had to hit the huge cruiser in the right PLACES, and they did ... mostly. Even with all this, however, the Vahlkhin had lost only 8 critical boxes. Heavy cruisers start on a “cripple roll” of 14+, minus one for each crit box hit. 14-8=6, giving Damon a 6+ chance to cripple Vahlkhin and win the game. HE ROLLS IT. The Valkhin is crippled and the Sheffield is not, ending this epic “David vs. Goliath” story with an unlikely but well-deserved British win.
The Warship Record Sheets of the Vahlkhin (left) and the Kazhinkova (right).  You can see where the Vahlkhin took eight boxes of critical engine and reactor damage, and where the Retribution’s rail guns and lasers cored all the way through Kazhinkova’s engineering plant to hit the ships core, bridge, and even set off the forward magazine.The Warship Record Sheets of the Vahlkhin (left) and the Kazhinkova (right). You can see where the Vahlkhin took eight boxes of critical engine and reactor damage, and where the Retribution’s rail guns and lasers cored all the way through Kazhinkova’s engineering plant to hit the ships core, bridge, and even set off the forward magazine.
The WRS of the Agamemnon (left), who really SHOULD have died here.  Maybe this is a charmed ship.  Be wary of carrier strikes, and also of Russian or Chinese-built warships once they get too close.  At ranges less than 500 kilometers (three hexes roughly) plasma projectors are terrifying.  We also see the brave little Sheffield, including the terrible damage suffered in her valiant stern chase of the Vahlkhin.The WRS of the Agamemnon (left), who really SHOULD have died here. Maybe this is a charmed ship. Be wary of carrier strikes, and also of Russian or Chinese-built warships once they get too close. At ranges less than 500 kilometers (three hexes roughly) plasma projectors are terrifying. We also see the brave little Sheffield, including the terrible damage suffered in her valiant stern chase of the Vahlkhin.
The final score.  The British lost a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, and six scouts.  The Black Dragons lost two heavy cruisers, a light fleet carrier, ten bombers, and fourteen fighters.  Furthermore, in the post-battle resolution, we found that carrier Kazhinkova was actually scuttled when British Marines moved to board her.  The die rolls indicate the Black Dragon captain did not survive, either killed when Retribution hit the bridge or opting to stay aboard the ship when she was detonated.  “Character death” in Darkstar is pretty rare, but it does happen.   The final score. The British lost a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, and six scouts. The Black Dragons lost two heavy cruisers, a light fleet carrier, ten bombers, and fourteen fighters. Furthermore, in the post-battle resolution, we found that carrier Kazhinkova was actually scuttled when British Marines moved to board her. The die rolls indicate the Black Dragon captain did not survive, either killed when Retribution hit the bridge or opting to stay aboard the ship when she was detonated. “Character death” in Darkstar is pretty rare, but it does happen.

Darkstar Scenario Construction

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
3 Comments

Getting ready for a live web game of Darkstar tomorrow.

August 3, 2519:

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

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

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

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

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

General Quarters!

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

Darkstar Battle Report - Four-Way Cruiser Clash!

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darkstar Battle Report - Four-Way Cruiser Clash!

Tutoring 2
Skill 1
Idea 2
No Comments

Removing duplicate – apologies …

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

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
2 Comments

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

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

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

Live 495-Point Game! Elessar2590 v. Oriskany!

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
8 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next step … FULL ON CAMPAIGN!

Desperate Battle against Panasian Dreadnought!

Tutoring 5
Skill 7
Idea 7
4 Comments

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

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

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

Let’s see how this goes!

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

PANASIAN BATTLESHIP SIGHTED! ACTION STATIONS!

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

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

Panasian Light Missile Cruiser Sighted!

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

Wave Two RELEASE: New Factions and Warships for Darkstar

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Wave Two RELEASE: New Factions and Warships for Darkstar

“Second Wave” Darkstar warships and factions have arrived.

PDF Download HERE

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

Wave Two Factions and Warships for Darkstar - ALMOST DONE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: Wave 2 Ships for Darkstar

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

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

Materials in the new .pdf will include:

Warships for four new factions

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

Including:

  • Ship rosters
  • Historical writeups
  • Warship Record sheets

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

Also: 

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

So that’s 30 warship classes total!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
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Okay, so @damon and I had another great game of Darkstar on Saturday.  Again, we’re looking at my French vs. Damon’s British.  In addition to the successful running of Darkstar on line and another great game, we’re also expanding our playtesting more and more into successful execution of SCENARIO based play, instead of just pointed-up mash-ups.  Last time we had a “dock and rescue” mission, this time we’re trying convoy escort.

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

French (New Roman Alliance):

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

British

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

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 6
6 Comments

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

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

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

BACKGROUND:

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

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

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

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

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

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

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

Desperate Rescue Mission in Gas Giant Atmosphere!

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