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Heavy Cruisers Collide at Kayashenko Four

Heavy Cruisers Collide at Kayashenko Four

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Project Blog by oriskany

Recommendations: 318

About the Project

After racking up 127 entries, 3500+ recommendations, and 600+ comments, the original Darkstar project thread was getting a little unwieldy. So I'm starting a new one, featuring a new campaign for interested players in the OTT community and beyond. So far we have five players, but there's always room for more!

Ever wonder if you had what it took to command fleet of starships in tactical combat? Darkstar offers that challenge to the hard-core wargamer, with a "Newtonian Physics" movement system, rules for astrophysical objects and phenomena, gravity, and of course dizzying amounts of 26th-century firepower. There are no aliens, no "hyperspace," no planets that look suspiciously like movie studio back lots. Just the old empires of Earth doing what they do best, colonization and kicking the hell out of anyone who gets in their way (i.e., each other).

In addition to starship tactical combat, Darkstar includes rules for carriers and aerospace craft, atmospheric operations, orbital and surface installations, boarding actions, assault landings, and a complete campaign system.

The system is free to download for members of the OTT community, and of course we play almost every weekend with a on-line version with starship commanders around the world! So if you ever want in, you know where to find us!

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Battle of Kayashenko Four

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 4
2 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:10 SOL GMT, 08 MAY 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

Reports have now been confirmed of another major naval action in the Third Hercules War.  In response to their recent setback in the UN-Mandated “Redemption” colonies (99 Hercules system), the United States Navy has sent a high-speed task force into orbit of the Russian-owned “Kayashenko” gas giant, scene of a bloody defeat suffered at the lands of the Arab League last month.

Sources close to American naval command and colonial administration at Port Halsey in the Vega Colonies (Alpha Lyra) suggest that the plan was originally to send a somewhat smaller force much further.  Specifically this would have been Task Force Oriskany under Captain Matthew A. Spencer, a small hunter-killer group of destroyers, a light carrier, and a torpedo corvette with greatly enhanced Darkstar drives.  The original target was the Arab League base of operations at Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules), a full sixty light-years from Port Halsey.  While Task Force Oriskany could cover this distance in about two weeks, any other naval units proposed to support the strike would take upwards of two months to cover the same distance.

Alternatively, US Naval Command wanted to make this a much larger operation, determined to mount a definitive response in the wake of the Battle of Kayashenko 17 and the loss of the destroyer USS Vincennes.  Commodore Virginia Saunders was placed in command, aboard her newly-arrived flagship, the Gettysburg class heavy cruiser USS Shiloh.

With such a heavy warship in the task force, any question of striking 14 Hercules was out.  Instead, the Americans chose to hit the Arab League at the Kayashenko gas giant (pressure from their Russian allies at Krasnaya Nadhezda may have also influenced the American decision).  Orders were simple, return to the Kayashenko gas giant in 99 Hercules, engage any Arab League warships lingering among the planet’s 63 moons, and destroy them.

Clearly this new mission profile was drawn up as much for political reasons as military.  The Americans want to win a battle against the league at Kayashenko, symbolically balancing the scales after the loss of the Vincennes (lost with 110 souls including Commander Yvonne Alliston).  They also need to secure Kayashenko for their Russian allies before they start looking to cut a separate peace.  Lastly, a primary reason the Americans joined this war was to win shipping  and colonization rights along the Hercules Rim, and the UN-mandated “open system” of Hercules 99 is a natural place to plant the flag.

As fate would have it, however, this American response at Kayashenko would have tremendous military impact as well, since the Arab League was also building up a very heavy naval presence hidden among the Kayashenko moons.  Clearly they hoped to build on their earlier success, shoving heavy naval units into the 99 Hercules system while the Americans and Russians remained off-balance.  Starships of the League tend to have much faster Darkstar drives than similar warships in other navies, giving them a great advantage in operational flexibility and making such a forward deployment that much easier.

So when the USS Shiloh, flanked and screened by Task Force Oriskany, made its appearance at Kayashenko, it found not the small cruiser-carrier that had been here last month … but a far more powerful force of heavy cruisers, light cruisers, and destroyers.  This engagement, in orbit of the larger “Galilean” moon of Saint Yegor (Kayashenko 4) will pit 1.1 million tons of warships into a pitched battle, fought between full battle fleets of “outside powers” both hoping to stake a claim in 99 Hercules and the Hercules Rim in general.

Game Terms:  Solitaire game to test two NEW ship designs, the Arab League Damascus class heavy cruiser, and the long-awaited American Gettysburg class heavy cruiser.  Also, I sometimes feel a little bad putting the FULL order of battle of Task Force Oriskany (heavily upgraded, very experienced) up against newer battlegroups and task forces of other players.  Lastly, I wanted a chance to dust off my old Arab League commanders, who haven’t seen action since the Aegean Path War (played in 2014).

508 points per side
ASSAULT victory rules

Current disposition on the Third Hercules War.  While the strategic American focus remains on Hawking’s Star, the massive and bloody DRAW fought there with Russian, British, and Japanese naval units means it will take some time for the Americans to realign their forces and their allies to make another shove at putting Marines on a British colony and knocking the UK clean out of the war.  Meanwhile, media reaction to the loss of USS Vincennes and increasing complaints from the Russian allies to help deal with the Arab League along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim has compelled the Americans to mount a forceful strike at any Arab League ships lurking among the moons of the Kayashenko super gas giant.Current disposition on the Third Hercules War. While the strategic American focus remains on Hawking’s Star, the massive and bloody DRAW fought there with Russian, British, and Japanese naval units means it will take some time for the Americans to realign their forces and their allies to make another shove at putting Marines on a British colony and knocking the UK clean out of the war. Meanwhile, media reaction to the loss of USS Vincennes and increasing complaints from the Russian allies to help deal with the Arab League along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim has compelled the Americans to mount a forceful strike at any Arab League ships lurking among the moons of the Kayashenko super gas giant.
Today’s matchup.  Yeah, this is gonna be a brutal one, with 12 ships, well over 100 aerospace craft, over 1 million tons in shipping, and 1016 game points on the table.  This game would take experienced Darkstar players AT LEAST 6+ hours to complete, and represents the upper limit of what can usually be accomplished with Darkstar.Today’s matchup. Yeah, this is gonna be a brutal one, with 12 ships, well over 100 aerospace craft, over 1 million tons in shipping, and 1016 game points on the table. This game would take experienced Darkstar players AT LEAST 6+ hours to complete, and represents the upper limit of what can usually be accomplished with Darkstar.
Both sides enter at over 35 kps, decelerating to attack speed as sharply as these immense heavy cruisers will allow.  The Arab League is able to launch all their fighters and bombers (carried aboard larger-than-average “hybrid” cruisers) while the USMC strike carrier USS Tarawa gets all her bombers launched, fighters standing by right behind.  In all, there are almost 80 League fighters, bombers, scouts.  Both sides open fire at just under 4000 km range.  The USS Oriskany takes “ranging fire” hits from heavy cruiser Ankara and the destroyers Cyrenaica and Samarra.  American fire all misses.  Torpedoes away!Both sides enter at over 35 kps, decelerating to attack speed as sharply as these immense heavy cruisers will allow. The Arab League is able to launch all their fighters and bombers (carried aboard larger-than-average “hybrid” cruisers) while the USMC strike carrier USS Tarawa gets all her bombers launched, fighters standing by right behind. In all, there are almost 80 League fighters, bombers, scouts. Both sides open fire at just under 4000 km range. The USS Oriskany takes “ranging fire” hits from heavy cruiser Ankara and the destroyers Cyrenaica and Samarra. American fire all misses. Torpedoes away!
As both sides rapidly close the range, and velocities drop beneath 20 kps, the heavy cruisers feint, shift, sidestep, and finally make hard last minute turns, each trying to get the better angle for broadsides on the other.  The Americans largely win this contest, with virtually their whole fleet poised to broadside the starboard quarter of the heavy cruiser SHM Riyadh.  The League deploys in a wedge, presenting broadsides in both possible directions with each element covering the fantail of the other.  The aerospace strikes go in.  Scouts engage bombers, the Americans lose two, the League loses three.  Four Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes from the Princeton slam home into the Riyadh’s stern, together with one aerospace missile and four aerospace torpedoes from the Marines of VMF/A-319 “Tigershark” Squadron.  The Riyadh is still in, but her aft shields just collapsed.  The Americans do much better with their mass driver defences against the huge League aerospace strike, four aerospace missiles and six As both sides rapidly close the range, and velocities drop beneath 20 kps, the heavy cruisers feint, shift, sidestep, and finally make hard last minute turns, each trying to get the better angle for broadsides on the other. The Americans largely win this contest, with virtually their whole fleet poised to broadside the starboard quarter of the heavy cruiser SHM Riyadh. The League deploys in a wedge, presenting broadsides in both possible directions with each element covering the fantail of the other. The aerospace strikes go in. Scouts engage bombers, the Americans lose two, the League loses three. Four Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes from the Princeton slam home into the Riyadh’s stern, together with one aerospace missile and four aerospace torpedoes from the Marines of VMF/A-319 “Tigershark” Squadron. The Riyadh is still in, but her aft shields just collapsed. The Americans do much better with their mass driver defences against the huge League aerospace strike, four aerospace missiles and six "Ahrasyfa" (Storm) torpedoes hit the starboard quarter of USS Shiloh. Some of these cavitate inside the starboard reactor room. She still has power, but starboard quarter shields (and mass drivers and sensors) just went down. The League broadside is next, all focused on the Shiloh, and it is brutal (note the League CANNOT put both their aerospace strike and gunnery against the same facing of the Shiloh, the distances were just too great). The Shiloh’s forward magazines are hit, three sensor suites, both port and starboard hangars are gone, starboard bow maneuvering thrusters, starboard bow shields, officer and enlisted quarters, and the bridge is damaged. But still she maintains power, and stays in the fight. The American broadside returns, and with more accurate guns, and careful sequencing of the hits (i.e., the heavy rail guns of the Shiloh landing AFTER all the energy based weapons of her secondary batteries and broadsides of her escorts) hit the starboard quarter of SHM Riyadh. This damage, combined with the damage inflicted by USS Princeton's torpedoes and the Marine "Tigershark" aerospace wing, is enough to force the Riyadh's captain to eject his reactors. The heavy cruiser is crippled. Off the bat, the Americans seem to have gained a critical edge in this battle.
That American edge doesn’t last long.  Although not quite crippled, the USS Shiloh has lost two shields and is basically unmaneuverable.  She can only roll over on her back to protect her starboard side.  Commodore Virginia Saunders orders Spencer to detach Task Force Oriskany, already ordering her crew into lifeboats and escape pods.  The destroyer Samarra rushes up to broadside Shiloh's stern.  The Shiloh's mass drivers (two turrets down) manage to take down most of the Ankara's torpedoes, but the last one hits the unshielded starboard bow, JUST missing the bridge.  The Samarra takes a hammering on her attack run, but maintains power (losing sensors, maneuvering  thrusters, shields ...) and puts a masterful broadside right into the stern of the massive Shiloh.  At the same time, unloaded League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers and scouts mount a desperate strafing run against the Shiloh’s unshielded starboard bow, praying to knock out the bridge.  The Ankara’s torpedoes drew all the Shiloh’s mass driver fire, and the Samarra’s mass drivers shoot down most of the US scouts that try to stop the League’s bombers.  Six American scouts are lost, compared to only two League bombers.  It’s this bomber strafing run that finally cripples the big American cruiser, putting just enough autocannon fire into the bridge superstructure to force an evacuation and explosive decompression, knocking USS Shiloh at last out of the battle.  Meanwhile, the Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge jackknife behind the Shalizhar and Halabjah, supported by F/S-44 “Star Corsair” fighters of the Tigershark Marines.  Both the light hybrid cruiser Shalizhar and the destroyer Halabjah are crippled by the point-blank broadsides and Marine strafing attacks, but aft batteries of the Ankara, the Shalizhar, Halabjah, and Cyrenaica blow both port and starboard reactors clean out of the Oriskany’s hull, smacking the “Lady O” clean out of the battle.  The light carrier Tarawa and torpedo corvette Daggerish line up a third frontal torpedo spread, only to find 45 more Arab League fighters rushing behind them on a murderous massed strafing run!  NINETEEN League fighters are shot down, but the 26 that survive use autocannons to explode the Daggerfish's starboard engines and reactors, leaving the torpedo corvette spinning helpless and crippled through space.   Has the tide turned?  The Americans have lost three ships here, including their only heavy cruiser and the Oriskany herself ... That American edge doesn’t last long. Although not quite crippled, the USS Shiloh has lost two shields and is basically unmaneuverable. She can only roll over on her back to protect her starboard side. Commodore Virginia Saunders orders Spencer to detach Task Force Oriskany, already ordering her crew into lifeboats and escape pods. The destroyer Samarra rushes up to broadside Shiloh's stern. The Shiloh's mass drivers (two turrets down) manage to take down most of the Ankara's torpedoes, but the last one hits the unshielded starboard bow, JUST missing the bridge. The Samarra takes a hammering on her attack run, but maintains power (losing sensors, maneuvering thrusters, shields ...) and puts a masterful broadside right into the stern of the massive Shiloh. At the same time, unloaded League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers and scouts mount a desperate strafing run against the Shiloh’s unshielded starboard bow, praying to knock out the bridge. The Ankara’s torpedoes drew all the Shiloh’s mass driver fire, and the Samarra’s mass drivers shoot down most of the US scouts that try to stop the League’s bombers. Six American scouts are lost, compared to only two League bombers. It’s this bomber strafing run that finally cripples the big American cruiser, putting just enough autocannon fire into the bridge superstructure to force an evacuation and explosive decompression, knocking USS Shiloh at last out of the battle. Meanwhile, the Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge jackknife behind the Shalizhar and Halabjah, supported by F/S-44 “Star Corsair” fighters of the Tigershark Marines. Both the light hybrid cruiser Shalizhar and the destroyer Halabjah are crippled by the point-blank broadsides and Marine strafing attacks, but aft batteries of the Ankara, the Shalizhar, Halabjah, and Cyrenaica blow both port and starboard reactors clean out of the Oriskany’s hull, smacking the “Lady O” clean out of the battle. The light carrier Tarawa and torpedo corvette Daggerish line up a third frontal torpedo spread, only to find 45 more Arab League fighters rushing behind them on a murderous massed strafing run! NINETEEN League fighters are shot down, but the 26 that survive use autocannons to explode the Daggerfish's starboard engines and reactors, leaving the torpedo corvette spinning helpless and crippled through space. Has the tide turned? The Americans have lost three ships here, including their only heavy cruiser and the Oriskany herself ...
With the ships that are left, the League realizes they will never outmaneuver the faster, more agile (and admittedly smaller) American ships.  Nor do they need to, they now clearly have the advantage of weight and aerospace numbers in this battle, they just have to “defend their lead” until the Americans mount an ill-advised attack or concede defeat.  The Anakara and her two remaining destroyers With the ships that are left, the League realizes they will never outmaneuver the faster, more agile (and admittedly smaller) American ships. Nor do they need to, they now clearly have the advantage of weight and aerospace numbers in this battle, they just have to “defend their lead” until the Americans mount an ill-advised attack or concede defeat. The Anakara and her two remaining destroyers "hedgehog" in such a way where the Americans will find it almost impossible to get fighters or torpedoes into Ankara’s stern WITH a destroyer broadside from the Princeton and Valley Forge on the same quarter. Refusing to give up, Captain Jack Morrison takes command aboard USS Princeton and commits his Marine fighters and more Mk 48 torpedoes in a series of "hooking" attacks around the Ankara's stern, while engaging in trailing broadsides against the League destroyers ... all while staying OUT of the broadside of the Ankara. League fighters continue to assail the sterns of the American ships, shot down in dizzying numbers but pressing home their attack along with torpedoes from the Ankara. The Valley Forge takes the worst of it, hammered by the Ankara and her destroyers, while the destroyer Cyrenaica takes hits in her starboard reactors from the pin-point accurate Valley Forge and Princeton. Meanwhile, the Marines press their strafing attacks on the Ankara. The Marines take no losses for now, since the League mass drivers are busy fending off American torpedoes. However ... the Americans are RUNNING OUT of those torpedoes.
A second torpedo-fighter strike again fails to take out the Ankara!  The Americans are SO close to turning the tide here!  But now they’re desperately short on torpedoes and the Valley Forge takes a savage series of hits from the forward guns of the Ankara and the destroyers Samarra and Cyrenaica.  Only barely does she maintain power, but she’s lost her forward magazines and ALL torpedo tubes, slashing the handful of available Mark 48s (already pitifully few) in half.  Bombers make gunnery attacks on the Valley Forge, but still she stands tall (rolling a 00 on her percentile breakoff check).  Meanwhile, a ray of hope shines for the Americans when their successive broadsides finally manage to power down the destroyer Cyrenaica.A second torpedo-fighter strike again fails to take out the Ankara! The Americans are SO close to turning the tide here! But now they’re desperately short on torpedoes and the Valley Forge takes a savage series of hits from the forward guns of the Ankara and the destroyers Samarra and Cyrenaica. Only barely does she maintain power, but she’s lost her forward magazines and ALL torpedo tubes, slashing the handful of available Mark 48s (already pitifully few) in half. Bombers make gunnery attacks on the Valley Forge, but still she stands tall (rolling a 00 on her percentile breakoff check). Meanwhile, a ray of hope shines for the Americans when their successive broadsides finally manage to power down the destroyer Cyrenaica.
The Valley Forge breaks to starboard, hoping to open the range and remain on the table as an operational warship.  But she is swarmed by surviving League fighters and bombers, and her port bow is totally unshielded.  Thus, USS Valley Forge is finally crippled.   The Marines hit the Ankara a THIRD third time, still taking no losses, covered by the very last American Mk 48s and the last two Marine bombers that have been re-launched from the USS Tarawa. But STILL the Tigersharks just can’t quite do enough!  In game terms, the Ankara now has a 5+ to cripple, but the Americans roll a FOUR!  Meanwhile, with the Valley Forge down, the Princeton takes her turn as the punching bag of the Ankara's forward batteries and the broadside of the SHM Samarra (the longest-serving ship in this League battlegroup).  Instantly the Princeton starts taking damage, including a torpedo wave from the four bombers the Ankara managed to launch last turn.  Only because of the Tarawa's mass drivers does the Princeton somehow survive.The Valley Forge breaks to starboard, hoping to open the range and remain on the table as an operational warship. But she is swarmed by surviving League fighters and bombers, and her port bow is totally unshielded. Thus, USS Valley Forge is finally crippled. The Marines hit the Ankara a THIRD third time, still taking no losses, covered by the very last American Mk 48s and the last two Marine bombers that have been re-launched from the USS Tarawa. But STILL the Tigersharks just can’t quite do enough! In game terms, the Ankara now has a 5+ to cripple, but the Americans roll a FOUR! Meanwhile, with the Valley Forge down, the Princeton takes her turn as the punching bag of the Ankara's forward batteries and the broadside of the SHM Samarra (the longest-serving ship in this League battlegroup). Instantly the Princeton starts taking damage, including a torpedo wave from the four bombers the Ankara managed to launch last turn. Only because of the Tarawa's mass drivers does the Princeton somehow survive.
Turn 7:  With no torpedoes or missiles coming in against the Ankara, the heavy cruiser's mass drivers are FINALLY free to engage the Marine fighters as they mount a FOURTH heroic strafing attack.  Fortunately, double-elite Marines are hard to hit, especially for the destroyer Samarra which has lost some of her sensors and mass drivers.  Still, the Marines can only dodge so much, and five Corsairs are destroyed going in.  The five survivors press the attack, three of which hit, two of which hit critical components.  The Ankara FINALLY loses power in her port engines and reactors, the ship going dark (after no less than four aerospace strafing and torpedo attacks).  The Princeton has kept her supporting fire position, executing a roll to present her starboard bow instead of port bow (which has been badly damaged).  Again the Princeton is hammered, but she and the Tarawa don't flinch (and admittedly neither does the Samarra) as this battle finally draws toward a close.Turn 7: With no torpedoes or missiles coming in against the Ankara, the heavy cruiser's mass drivers are FINALLY free to engage the Marine fighters as they mount a FOURTH heroic strafing attack. Fortunately, double-elite Marines are hard to hit, especially for the destroyer Samarra which has lost some of her sensors and mass drivers. Still, the Marines can only dodge so much, and five Corsairs are destroyed going in. The five survivors press the attack, three of which hit, two of which hit critical components. The Ankara FINALLY loses power in her port engines and reactors, the ship going dark (after no less than four aerospace strafing and torpedo attacks). The Princeton has kept her supporting fire position, executing a roll to present her starboard bow instead of port bow (which has been badly damaged). Again the Princeton is hammered, but she and the Tarawa don't flinch (and admittedly neither does the Samarra) as this battle finally draws toward a close.
Turn 8:  The Battle of Kayashenko 4 finally staggers to an exhausted, smoking, charred conclusion. Neither the Samarra or the Princeton have the guns, torpedoes, sensors, or maneuvering thrusters to cripple the other.  The Tarawa cannot help, her torpedoes long exhausted.  The surviving League fighters engage and shoot down the last two bombers of VMF/A-319, although their bombers are in turn mauled by the last American fighters and scouts.  In the end, the crippling of the Ankara means this battle will TECHNICALLY shake out as a minor American victory, but only by the most slender of margins.  Remember that in Darkstar, you must win by at least 5 percent or the game is considered a draw.  The Americans have won by 8 percent, and only at the very end with near-suicidal fighter tactics and the very last of their torpedoes. Turn 8: The Battle of Kayashenko 4 finally staggers to an exhausted, smoking, charred conclusion. Neither the Samarra or the Princeton have the guns, torpedoes, sensors, or maneuvering thrusters to cripple the other. The Tarawa cannot help, her torpedoes long exhausted. The surviving League fighters engage and shoot down the last two bombers of VMF/A-319, although their bombers are in turn mauled by the last American fighters and scouts. In the end, the crippling of the Ankara means this battle will TECHNICALLY shake out as a minor American victory, but only by the most slender of margins. Remember that in Darkstar, you must win by at least 5 percent or the game is considered a draw. The Americans have won by 8 percent, and only at the very end with near-suicidal fighter tactics and the very last of their torpedoes.
Given the razor-thin margin of ... ahem ... “victory” here, I’m giving the Americans only half score for a minor victory in a 500+ point battle (normally this campaign award is 6 points, not 3.  I feel the playtesting of the Damascus class and Gettysburg class both went well, I hope it’s clear that the League didn’t “take it easy” on my commanders (again, I actually have commanders on both sides of this battle), and the Arab League is no longer on the precipice of leaving the war (actually good news for @muakhah, our Arab League player, who was in danger of “winning his way out of the war” if the Arab League accepted victory terms and signed a separate peace).Given the razor-thin margin of ... ahem ... “victory” here, I’m giving the Americans only half score for a minor victory in a 500+ point battle (normally this campaign award is 6 points, not 3. I feel the playtesting of the Damascus class and Gettysburg class both went well, I hope it’s clear that the League didn’t “take it easy” on my commanders (again, I actually have commanders on both sides of this battle), and the Arab League is no longer on the precipice of leaving the war (actually good news for @muakhah, our Arab League player, who was in danger of “winning his way out of the war” if the Arab League accepted victory terms and signed a separate peace).

Galaxy Class (TNG) and Miranda-Soyuz Class (Star Trek II, IV)

Tutoring 4
Skill 2
Idea 5
1 Comment

Been building a few more ships for Star Trek’s conversion into Darkstar – expanding a little into the films and the TNG-era ships.

First up with have the Miranda-Soyuz class.  This is the ship made most famous in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as the unfortunate USS Reliant, which Khan took over and used to fight Enterprise.

Now this class is all over the place in both Alpha and Beta canon, and is seen as late as the TNG episodes which take place 80 years after the Star Trek films I-VI (these poor things were still fighting the Borg Cube at the Battle of Wolf 359 in 2366, 95 years after the first ships of the class were commissioned).

So I picked a few sites that had stats for them in FASA’s Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator game, looked at some of the earlier marks in the mid 2270s (roughly, the time of Wrath of Khan) and sort of “aimed for the middle” of what several sources were quoting.

I also rolled out the famous Galaxy class, of course the class we see in The Next Generation, embodied with Jon-Luc Picard’s USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

Of course, new weapons and systems tables have to be worked out for these Next Generation era ships.  Calculations of power requirements, weight, and crew complement – which are usually based on damage, game effect, and other capabilities – go way off the scale if I used the same formulas and gradients as with TOS-era ships.  Basically, if a 10-point TOS phaser in 2270 costs “X” in power, mass, and crew, then a 100-point TNG phaser  was costing “X times 10” – meaning that TNG ships were actually coming out critically UNDERPOWERED.

Obviously, technology advances in 100 years, and systems become much more efficient.  What a TOS-era ship can do with 10 points a power, a TNG ship can do with 5 or even less.  Also, TNG ships generate 5-10 times more power to start with.  End result, these ships are freakin’ powerful … and thus in Darkstar … they’re freakin’ expensive.

First up, we have the USS Saratoga, Miranda-Soyuz Class (Mark II), commanded by Captain Margaret Sinclair-Alexander, as seen at the beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Yes, this is the ship thatis first disabled by the First up, we have the USS Saratoga, Miranda-Soyuz Class (Mark II), commanded by Captain Margaret Sinclair-Alexander, as seen at the beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Yes, this is the ship thatis first disabled by the "Whale Probe" and yes, in beta canon and the novelization she IS rescued and recovered. She's roughly the same as the infamous USS Reliant we see Khan command in Star Trek II. Same Class XI designation as the Enterprise refit, but with a little less power (again, drawing from several sources here).
The design tables for my Miranda-Soyuz (Mark II) class cruiser.  The Miranda-Soyuz would be continually upgraded through the next 80 years or so, this thing is the The design tables for my Miranda-Soyuz (Mark II) class cruiser. The Miranda-Soyuz would be continually upgraded through the next 80 years or so, this thing is the "Bird of Prey" of the Federation, for all the right and wrong reasons, upgraded and re-used in movies and TV shows until they literally couldn't agree on the name of the class. Slightly less powerful than her famous Enterprise 1701 (refit) opponent, with the tables producing a mass of 130,000+ tons and a crew of 390 or so ... pretty close to what we see claimed in FASA.
The Warship Record Sheet (WRS) for the Galaxy Class starship, as seen in Star Trek The Next Generation.  Yes, she's considered a The Warship Record Sheet (WRS) for the Galaxy Class starship, as seen in Star Trek The Next Generation. Yes, she's considered a "battleship" in Darkstar - sources list her as weight well over 400,000 tons and she's a Class XVII ship). She moves like a frigate, though, with an incredible thrust of 7 (for a battleship!!!) She's also got a very high warp engine, and of course very powerful weapons. However, she's vulnerable. Like all Star Trek ships, she has very thin armor, usually a single torpedo against an unshielded target goes right through the hull (many examples of this on screen). Like all Star Trek ships, she's vulnerable because of how her warp nacelles are laid out. However, she is much more flexible, more accurate (better sensors) and FAR faster than anything in her class in Darkstar. And of course she has the price tag to match. This is the USS Venture, as seen in Star Trek: DS9, commanded by Captain Roger Corbett, friend of Benjamin Sisko.
Page 2 of the Galaxy Class' WRS.  Note the low shielding (well, low for a Star Trek ship). Again, the Galaxy class were pretty, comfortable, and packed with science labs ... but solid warships they were not.  USS Yamato blew up in TNG.  USS Odyssey was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar in minutes in DS9.  USS Enterprise was eventually taken out by a 100-year old ship 1/20 her size once her shields were compromised.  Subsequent Starfleet designs like the Defiant, Akira, and Sovereign classes were much leaner, tougher, and meaner as Star Trek history moved into a much more combative period against the Klingons, the Dominion, the Borg, the Udeen (species 8472), and others.  Page 2 of the Galaxy Class' WRS. Note the low shielding (well, low for a Star Trek ship). Again, the Galaxy class were pretty, comfortable, and packed with science labs ... but solid warships they were not. USS Yamato blew up in TNG. USS Odyssey was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar in minutes in DS9. USS Enterprise was eventually taken out by a 100-year old ship 1/20 her size once her shields were compromised. Subsequent Starfleet designs like the Defiant, Akira, and Sovereign classes were much leaner, tougher, and meaner as Star Trek history moved into a much more combative period against the Klingons, the Dominion, the Borg, the Udeen (species 8472), and others.

Bloody Raid at Kayashenko 17

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
7 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
19:55 SOL GMT, 15 APRIL 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

Even as major naval engagements continue to unfold along the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim (specifically at the embattled Hawking’s Star colonies in the HR6806 system), simultaneous engagements are reported along the Hercules Rim’s coreward shoulder as well.  Although perhaps smaller in scope, these skirmishes are perhaps even more ferocious in intensity – proof that while the Americans, Japanese, Russians, and British throw the bulk of their firepower into the Hawking’s Star maelstrom, other powers are taking the opportunity to strike at the “back door” of the Hercules Rim warzone.

Recently, the “Black Dragon” rebels of the self-proclaimed Khitan-Tunguska Free State sought to take advantage of American and Indian preoccupation in the Hercules Rim.  Accordingly, the Black Dragons launched a number of long-range raids out of the remote Khaizan’s Haven colony (14 Hercules system), striking at American outposts at the Port Halsey at Vega (Alpha Lyra system) and the Indian Bhogavati colonies (HD176051 system).  Both of these raids came to ruinous failure, one at the hands of Battlegroup Shalya of the Indian Republic, the other thanks to the American destroyer USS Oriskany.

Forced not only to make an ignominious exit from the war, the Black Dragons had to vacate the 14 Hercules system entirely under threat of American or Indian reprisal.  Due to the vast distance from Port Halsey or Bhogavati, however, the Americans and Indians were not the first power to reach 14 Hercules … it was their allies, the Holy Russian Empire, with a cruiser sortie from their colonies at Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules).

However, even the Russians found they were not the first to lay a new claim on Khaizan’s Haven. A new player had joined the war, the Arab League, their Al Fihri battlegroup dealing the Russians a sharp defeat and chasing them out of the 14 Hercules system.  Running up their flag at the Khaizan’s Haven colony and formally joining the “Renkei Alliance” with the British and Japanese, the Arab League’s successes were a welcome respite from the recent setbacks suffered by the Alliance.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the Arab League has struck again at the Russians, determined to help the Renkei Alliance win the Third Hercules War and, in the bargain, win a stable and recognized mandate for their new 14 Hercules colony.

Wary of overconfidence, the Arab League’s strike does not come directly at the major Russian colony and naval base at 72 Hercules.  Rather, it strikes at a smaller outpost in the United Nations “open system” of Redemption (99 Hercules), specifically at the 17th moon of the massive Russian-owned “Kayashenko” gas supergiant.

The Holy Russian Navy naturally has a presence here, but they aren’t alone.  With them are a pair of US Navy destroyers, USS Valley Forge and Vincennes, part of a battlegroup originally tasked with showing an American presence in Khaizan’s Haven, now tasked with lending weight to American claims for a share of the UN mandate in Redemption / 99 Hercules.

Americans and Russians: Jim (Oriskany)
Arab League: @muakhah
214 points: RAID

Here we see the current state of the Third Hercules War.  While the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim continues to see battles focused on Hawking’s Star, the Arab League has launched a strike at Imperial Russian holdings in the UN Mandate of the Redemption (99 Hercules) system.  While the Americans have no claim in 99 Hercules yet (part of the reason they’re fighting this war), they’re here to help their Russian allies, and perhaps convince the UN to lease them holdings in 99 Hercules in the process.Here we see the current state of the Third Hercules War. While the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim continues to see battles focused on Hawking’s Star, the Arab League has launched a strike at Imperial Russian holdings in the UN Mandate of the Redemption (99 Hercules) system. While the Americans have no claim in 99 Hercules yet (part of the reason they’re fighting this war), they’re here to help their Russian allies, and perhaps convince the UN to lease them holdings in 99 Hercules in the process.
Here is the match up.  As we saw at the Second Battle of Hawking’s Star, the Americans and Russians are fielding heavily-upgraded, elite units against a relatively new ... but much larger ... enemy battlegroup.  The Americans have the nigh-legendary destroyer USS Valley Forge, detached from Task Force Oriskany, and her sistership USS Vincennes from Task Force Liberty.  The light strike carrier CPK Novorossysk mounts a small but very elite aerospace strike group, one of the best in the Holy Russian Navy.  On the other side we have the Arab League flag ship SHM Al Fihri, a curious hybrid design, part light cruiser, part light fleet carrier.  Two Basra class destroyers (Mersin and the new Buraydah) escort her, along with the Khalifa class light carrier SHM Abu Bashir.  Altogether the Arab League outguns the Russo-American battlegroup about 2:1 in both warships and aerospace, but crew experience, technology, and speed could easily tip the balance here.Here is the match up. As we saw at the Second Battle of Hawking’s Star, the Americans and Russians are fielding heavily-upgraded, elite units against a relatively new ... but much larger ... enemy battlegroup. The Americans have the nigh-legendary destroyer USS Valley Forge, detached from Task Force Oriskany, and her sistership USS Vincennes from Task Force Liberty. The light strike carrier CPK Novorossysk mounts a small but very elite aerospace strike group, one of the best in the Holy Russian Navy. On the other side we have the Arab League flag ship SHM Al Fihri, a curious hybrid design, part light cruiser, part light fleet carrier. Two Basra class destroyers (Mersin and the new Buraydah) escort her, along with the Khalifa class light carrier SHM Abu Bashir. Altogether the Arab League outguns the Russo-American battlegroup about 2:1 in both warships and aerospace, but crew experience, technology, and speed could easily tip the balance here.
The Americans and Russians set a very fast intercept approach, straight at the enemy, their vector refracted only by the gravity of the Kayashenko 17 moon.  The League cuts to port and presents a starboard broadside, launching fighters from their two carriers and ranging out the defenders with long-ranged laser and EPC fire.The Americans and Russians set a very fast intercept approach, straight at the enemy, their vector refracted only by the gravity of the Kayashenko 17 moon. The League cuts to port and presents a starboard broadside, launching fighters from their two carriers and ranging out the defenders with long-ranged laser and EPC fire.
Things get very nasty ... very fast.  As the SHM Al Fihri and Abu Bashir cut toward their enemy, the USS Vincennes re-accelerates, making a high-speed turn to starboard to cut directly across the Al Fihri’s fantail at point-blank range.  The aggressive destroyer Buraydah darts forward to cut across Vincennes’ stern.  Valley Forge sweeps down to cut across Buraydah’s stern.  Mersin rushes forward to put a broadside across Valley Forge’s bow.  By now the Al Fihri, Abu Bashir, and Novorossysk have completed their aerospace launches, with the Russian Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers and Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters releasing a hail of torpedoes and missiles at the stern of the Al Firhi, along with a swarm of American Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes launched from the Vincennes and Valley Forge.  Arab “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters scream into the Russian bombers, and elite or not, all the Russian bombers are shot down even as they release their ordinance.  Arab “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers fire off a two-pronged hail of torpedoes at the Vincennes.  It’s an incredible release of violence released into a volume of space just a few dozen kilometers across.Things get very nasty ... very fast. As the SHM Al Fihri and Abu Bashir cut toward their enemy, the USS Vincennes re-accelerates, making a high-speed turn to starboard to cut directly across the Al Fihri’s fantail at point-blank range. The aggressive destroyer Buraydah darts forward to cut across Vincennes’ stern. Valley Forge sweeps down to cut across Buraydah’s stern. Mersin rushes forward to put a broadside across Valley Forge’s bow. By now the Al Fihri, Abu Bashir, and Novorossysk have completed their aerospace launches, with the Russian Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers and Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters releasing a hail of torpedoes and missiles at the stern of the Al Firhi, along with a swarm of American Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes launched from the Vincennes and Valley Forge. Arab “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters scream into the Russian bombers, and elite or not, all the Russian bombers are shot down even as they release their ordinance. Arab “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers fire off a two-pronged hail of torpedoes at the Vincennes. It’s an incredible release of violence released into a volume of space just a few dozen kilometers across.
Here’s a zoom-in of what’s happening.  The Al Fihri reels under the impact of torpedoes and missiles, even as her aft batteries of 8MgKv lasers and EPCs slash into the Vincennes’ starboard bow.  An instant later the Vincennes’ broadside of 5GW rail guns and 6MgKv lasers slash open the already-wrecked stern of the Al Fihri, backloading two engines and blowing her port reactor clean out of the hull.  The Al Fihri loses power, crippled.  An instant later the Vincennes is struck by the hail of Arab torpedoes and missiles, and likewise loses power ... even as the Buraydah fires a point-blank broadside into her stern as well.  The Vincennes’ reactors instantly go critical, but the engineering crew fails to eject the reactors in time.  The ship actually DETONATES, killing at least half her 249 crew, including her skipper, Commander Yvonne Alliston.  The blast wave smashes into the Abu Bashir, the Valley Forge (which is almost crippled as a result), the already-crippled Al Fihri (almost setting off a SECOND explosion), the Mersin, and the Buraydah the set off the explosion in the first place.  Four Arab League scouts are also lost in the blast.  The Valley Forge fires a broadside that cripples the Buraydah, even as she is hammered by the Buraydah’s aft guns, the blast from the Vincennes, and the broadside of the Mersin.  In short, two ships are crippled here, one destroyed outright, and EVERYONE damaged with the sole exception of the carrier Novorossysk, which has wisely kept a more sensible distance from this collision.       Here’s a zoom-in of what’s happening. The Al Fihri reels under the impact of torpedoes and missiles, even as her aft batteries of 8MgKv lasers and EPCs slash into the Vincennes’ starboard bow. An instant later the Vincennes’ broadside of 5GW rail guns and 6MgKv lasers slash open the already-wrecked stern of the Al Fihri, backloading two engines and blowing her port reactor clean out of the hull. The Al Fihri loses power, crippled. An instant later the Vincennes is struck by the hail of Arab torpedoes and missiles, and likewise loses power ... even as the Buraydah fires a point-blank broadside into her stern as well. The Vincennes’ reactors instantly go critical, but the engineering crew fails to eject the reactors in time. The ship actually DETONATES, killing at least half her 249 crew, including her skipper, Commander Yvonne Alliston. The blast wave smashes into the Abu Bashir, the Valley Forge (which is almost crippled as a result), the already-crippled Al Fihri (almost setting off a SECOND explosion), the Mersin, and the Buraydah the set off the explosion in the first place. Four Arab League scouts are also lost in the blast. The Valley Forge fires a broadside that cripples the Buraydah, even as she is hammered by the Buraydah’s aft guns, the blast from the Vincennes, and the broadside of the Mersin. In short, two ships are crippled here, one destroyed outright, and EVERYONE damaged with the sole exception of the carrier Novorossysk, which has wisely kept a more sensible distance from this collision.
With her nose and port bow smashed open, Commander Garrison Heathe of the Valley Forge is forces to break off the engagement.  He makes best steam away from Kayashenko 17, the Novorossysk racing after her to provide mass driver cover from a potential missile strike of Arab fighters (and also not to be left behind).  But the Arab commander, Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi, is playing it safe.  He pulls his fighters back to defend his two remaining ships from torpedoes fired by the Valley Forge and Novorossysk.  The gambit pays off, the last Russo-American torpedo strike is defeated, the Russian strafing attack doing some damage to Mersin’s starboard engines, but fortune smiles on the Mersin and she does not lose power.    With her nose and port bow smashed open, Commander Garrison Heathe of the Valley Forge is forces to break off the engagement. He makes best steam away from Kayashenko 17, the Novorossysk racing after her to provide mass driver cover from a potential missile strike of Arab fighters (and also not to be left behind). But the Arab commander, Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi, is playing it safe. He pulls his fighters back to defend his two remaining ships from torpedoes fired by the Valley Forge and Novorossysk. The gambit pays off, the last Russo-American torpedo strike is defeated, the Russian strafing attack doing some damage to Mersin’s starboard engines, but fortune smiles on the Mersin and she does not lose power.
This raid at Kayashenko 17 has been small, sharp, fast, and incredibly brutal.  The loss of USS Vincennes comes as a startling blow to the Americans, the worst single loss of life suffered by the US Navy (110 officers and men) since the opening days of the Xi Scorpio War.  The Arab League destroyer SHM Buraydah will also be lost, her skipper forced to evacuate and scuttle the ship (detonating her reactors) before she is captured by Russian assault marines four hours later.    This raid at Kayashenko 17 has been small, sharp, fast, and incredibly brutal. The loss of USS Vincennes comes as a startling blow to the Americans, the worst single loss of life suffered by the US Navy (110 officers and men) since the opening days of the Xi Scorpio War. The Arab League destroyer SHM Buraydah will also be lost, her skipper forced to evacuate and scuttle the ship (detonating her reactors) before she is captured by Russian assault marines four hours later.
An updated campaign chart, tracking the “victory level” of the factions involved in the war.  This 3-point victory actually puts the Arab League AHEAD of their initial campaign requirements for victory (different factions have different victory / defeat thresholds depending on their government’s commitment to the Third Hercules War).  So technically, this should be it for the Arab League.  They’ve won, and their commanders receive “cease-fire” orders from the League’s regional governor.  The Americans and Russians have been forced to recognize their claim on the Khaizan’s Haven system, meaning the Arab League would accept peace and end their participation in the war.  However, @muakhah wants to keep playing these captains ... :D ... and player fun trumps spreadsheets.  So the Arab League’s “commitment threshold” is increased by 3 points, meaning their government TURNS DOWN the terms offered by the Russians and Americans.  To balance the campaign chart, the Coalition of Eagles must also gain three commitment threshold points (putting both alliances at a total of 28 points).  I assign the three new points Russians (1) and especially the Corporate Consortium (2), based on the proximity of their holdings at Krasnaya Nadhezda and Ragnarssonland (72 Hercules and Gliese 649, respectively), reflecting their hardening stance toward Arab League aggression and refusal to come to peace terms.  An updated campaign chart, tracking the “victory level” of the factions involved in the war. This 3-point victory actually puts the Arab League AHEAD of their initial campaign requirements for victory (different factions have different victory / defeat thresholds depending on their government’s commitment to the Third Hercules War). So technically, this should be it for the Arab League. They’ve won, and their commanders receive “cease-fire” orders from the League’s regional governor. The Americans and Russians have been forced to recognize their claim on the Khaizan’s Haven system, meaning the Arab League would accept peace and end their participation in the war. However, @muakhah wants to keep playing these captains ... :D ... and player fun trumps spreadsheets. So the Arab League’s “commitment threshold” is increased by 3 points, meaning their government TURNS DOWN the terms offered by the Russians and Americans. To balance the campaign chart, the Coalition of Eagles must also gain three commitment threshold points (putting both alliances at a total of 28 points). I assign the three new points Russians (1) and especially the Corporate Consortium (2), based on the proximity of their holdings at Krasnaya Nadhezda and Ragnarssonland (72 Hercules and Gliese 649, respectively), reflecting their hardening stance toward Arab League aggression and refusal to come to peace terms.

SECOND BATTLE OF HAWKING'S STAR

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
7 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
13:10 SOL GMT, 06 APRIL 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

Reports continue to come in from the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim, where another major battle has taken place in the Hawking’s Star (HR6806) planetary system.  These British colonies have been the epicenter of intense naval action for over a month, ever since a spectacularly successful raid by a combined carrier-cruiser task force of the United States and the Holy Russian Empire all but shattered the Royal Navy in the system.

Commanded by Captain Zachary Irons aboard the Endeavor class light fleet carrier USS Liberty, this “raid” might’ve taken the Hawking’s Star system outright and ended the Third Hercules War in a single bloody afternoon.  However, this strike had been planned and executed as a raid only, and neither the US or Russian navies had the planetary assault ships in position to capitalize on the success.  In short, the degree of Task Force Liberty’s success in the First Battle of Hawking’s Star was as much a shock to the American and Russian commanders as it had been to the unfortunate British.

As it was, the closest US Marine assault ship was 13 light-years away at Alpha Lyra (Vega), while the closest Russian base capable of supporting any such “take and hold” invasion was well over twice that distance.

[Game Terms:  When setting up a Darkstar game, players agree to assess victory points as either a RAID or an ASSAULT.  A MAJOR VICTORY (+40% VP margin) in a game of sufficient size (at least 300+ points = “Large Engagement”) determines ownership of the star system.  In our last game, Damon and I agreed to a 497-point RAID, which I was then fortunate enough to win by well over a 40% margin.  Had this been an ASSAULT, the campaign rules would have given my Americans and Russians possession of the Hawking’s Star colonies.  But since the game had been conducted as a RAID, with different victory point priorities driving different game strategies for myself and Damon as players, it wouldn’t be fair to have the Americans and Russians retroactively TAKE the system, despite the victory margin.]

However, once the extent of Task Force Liberty’s success became clear, US Naval Command at Alpha Lyra were quick to act.  Immediate orders were dispatched to the Saipan-class planetary assault ships USS Belleau Wood and Iwo Jima, carrying 2nd and 3rd Battalions / 5th Marine Regiment.  At a ninth-magnitude Darkstar Wave, they reached the Hawking’s Star system in 22 days.  In that time, the USS Liberty had been pulled back to Vega, while the light carrier USS Tarawa was sent in her place along with the newly repaired San Antonio class light cruiser USS Spokane (Captain David Cheatham).  Their Russian allies were also able to get a Kutusov class light carrier (CPK Gavrilov) to Hawking’s Star, determined to participate in what was hoped would be a war-winning victory.

Russo-American optimism was not unfounded.  Things hadn’t gone well for the Royal Navy in the Third Hercules War, already there were calls for a change of government in the House of Commons or at the very least, an immediate end to British involvement in the war.  Now, with the Belleau Wood and Iwo Jima carrying 2000 Marines, grav tanks, APCs, orbital assault boats, and “Avenger” ground attack bombers in the protoplanetary belt of Hawking’s Star, and a combined Russo-Amerian cruiser-carrier force again poised to strike to the heart of the system, it seemed as if British fortunes in the Hercules Rim were about to come to an abrupt end.

However, the British had also used the previous three weeks to maximum effect.  While the heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon and light cruiser Retribution would still be under repair at the nearby Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules) system, the light fleet carrier HMS Vindictive and destroyer HMS Sheffield would be ready to re-sortie again into the core orbital zones of Hawking’s Star.  More good news arrived in early April when the advanced Japanese heavy cruiser IJN Kama and strike frigate IJN Urakaze arrived from the Kyokko Bijin (Zeta Hercules) system.  Together, this Anglo-Japanese force just might be able to stop the Russo-American task group determined to end the war (at least for the British) once and for all.

The question came to a head on 6 April, 2521 … when the two forces collided at Eastman’s Manor, outermost terrestrial planet in the Hawking’s Star core orbital zones.

Americans and Russians: Jim (Oriskany)
British: Damon
Japanese: Rasmus
339 points: ASSAULT

Here we see the current state of the Third Hercules War.  Despite intermittent victories and draws, a series of Royal Navy defeats, first in the Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules) system, and later in their own Hawking’s Star colonies, have seriously compromised British interests in this region.  Simply put, the CANNOT lose here, or their government will sue for peace on American, Russian, and Indian Republic terms. Here we see the current state of the Third Hercules War. Despite intermittent victories and draws, a series of Royal Navy defeats, first in the Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules) system, and later in their own Hawking’s Star colonies, have seriously compromised British interests in this region. Simply put, the CANNOT lose here, or their government will sue for peace on American, Russian, and Indian Republic terms.
Here is the matchup for today’s game.  The Hawking Beta, Gamma, and Delta stations are more or less there for “table dressing,” they have no effect outside of stacking limits in their hexes.  However, the asteroids beside them (remains of a small moon that has been gradually broken up for mining) pose a significant navigational hazard.  Either way, these stations are unarmed, cannot be attacked, and are not objectives.  They’re just the kind of thing one sees in the HEART of a heavily colonized and industrialized system.  In other words, no more skirmishing out in the Kuiper Belts, Oort Clouds, or outer gas giant moon systems.  This in the heart of Hawking’s Star.  This game is an assault, we’re playing for keeps.  The Americans seen to be outmatched, outnumbered 4-3 in warships, 2-1 in aerospace, and with no heavy cruiser.  However, the USS Salt Lake is the largest ship from Task Force Liberty, while the USMC aerospace strike carrier USS Tarawa is detached from none other than Task Force Oriskany itself.  These ships are BEYOND upgraded.  Here is the matchup for today’s game. The Hawking Beta, Gamma, and Delta stations are more or less there for “table dressing,” they have no effect outside of stacking limits in their hexes. However, the asteroids beside them (remains of a small moon that has been gradually broken up for mining) pose a significant navigational hazard. Either way, these stations are unarmed, cannot be attacked, and are not objectives. They’re just the kind of thing one sees in the HEART of a heavily colonized and industrialized system. In other words, no more skirmishing out in the Kuiper Belts, Oort Clouds, or outer gas giant moon systems. This in the heart of Hawking’s Star. This game is an assault, we’re playing for keeps. The Americans seen to be outmatched, outnumbered 4-3 in warships, 2-1 in aerospace, and with no heavy cruiser. However, the USS Salt Lake is the largest ship from Task Force Liberty, while the USMC aerospace strike carrier USS Tarawa is detached from none other than Task Force Oriskany itself. These ships are BEYOND upgraded.
The actual map setup and initial approaches.  The planet of Eastman’s Manor (roughly Mars-sized) looms at upper right.  The Americans and Russians enter at a VERY high speed of 45 kilometers per second (hex = 180 kilometers, a turn is 1 minute), decelerating at full reverse thrusters, while the British and Japanese set a much more wary course at lower right, speeds at 18 and 15 KPS.   Any ship that ends its movement within 10 hexes of the planet is subject to gravity.  The actual map setup and initial approaches. The planet of Eastman’s Manor (roughly Mars-sized) looms at upper right. The Americans and Russians enter at a VERY high speed of 45 kilometers per second (hex = 180 kilometers, a turn is 1 minute), decelerating at full reverse thrusters, while the British and Japanese set a much more wary course at lower right, speeds at 18 and 15 KPS. Any ship that ends its movement within 10 hexes of the planet is subject to gravity.
The British and Japanese cut hard to starboard, using the planet’s gravity for a little extra speed, setting up broadsides against the approaching invaders.  The Americans and Russians (having largely won initiative) are happy to oblige, launching the rest of Tarawa’s Marine strike wing while setting up a broadside of their own, carefully ranged to make the best advantage of Spokane’s edge in gunnery accuracy.  The Sheffield’s optronic gunnery systems and crews are just as sharp, however, while the Kama’s guns are also by far the biggest on the table.  Range here is just under 2,000 kilometers, and damage on the Sheffield and Gavrilov are heavy.  Meanwhile, HMS Vindictive completes the launch of her Starfire fighters and Nebula Typhoon bombers, the aerospace group staying close to the protective cover of the task force’s point-defense guns.  The American Marines are being a little more aggressive, sweeping toward Eastman’s Manor and setting up for an imminent strike, combining with a large spread of Mark 48 and P-500 “Plamya” gravitic torpedoes launched from the American and Russian capital ships.The British and Japanese cut hard to starboard, using the planet’s gravity for a little extra speed, setting up broadsides against the approaching invaders. The Americans and Russians (having largely won initiative) are happy to oblige, launching the rest of Tarawa’s Marine strike wing while setting up a broadside of their own, carefully ranged to make the best advantage of Spokane’s edge in gunnery accuracy. The Sheffield’s optronic gunnery systems and crews are just as sharp, however, while the Kama’s guns are also by far the biggest on the table. Range here is just under 2,000 kilometers, and damage on the Sheffield and Gavrilov are heavy. Meanwhile, HMS Vindictive completes the launch of her Starfire fighters and Nebula Typhoon bombers, the aerospace group staying close to the protective cover of the task force’s point-defense guns. The American Marines are being a little more aggressive, sweeping toward Eastman’s Manor and setting up for an imminent strike, combining with a large spread of Mark 48 and P-500 “Plamya” gravitic torpedoes launched from the American and Russian capital ships.
Turn 3, and the British and Russians make what I initially thought was something of a mistake here.  As the Gavrilov lunges toward the Japanese (rolling on her back to protect her wounded port bow, the strike frigate Urakaze rushes right toward her as well, actually entering the same hex alongside the Russian light cruiser’s port side.  That’s pretty much going to be it for the Urakaze, but if Rasmus can trade a frigate for a light cruiser, that’s not a bad move at all.  However, the heavy cruiser Kama and destroyer Sheffield again turn hard to starboard, diving toward the planet, while the carrier Vindictive runs close abeam to the Urakaze.  In effect, the Anglo-Japanese are divided in half, usually a VERY bad move when an American aerospace-torpedo strike is coming in.  The Kama gets the worst of it, the Marines of VMF/A-319 “Tigershark” Squadron unleashing a hail of Harpoon torpedoes and Hellfire missiles, along with the Mk 48s and P-500s from the warships.  But mass driver defense aboard the Kama and especially the valiant little Sheffield is ferocious, and while the Kama loses almost all the armor off her stern, her reactors and engines are almost undamaged by what SHOULD have been a killing strike.  If Damon and Rasmus “made a mistake,” they got away with it.  Meanwhile, the British strike against the American flagship USS Spokane, while textbook executed (concentrated on a single target, optimum range, no bombers lost to mass drivers, etc.) ... just doesn’t get the dice it needs.  Even the missiles and torpedoes that DO hit the Spokane all hit in the “wrong” places, and while the American cruiser loses all her stern armor, no internal damage is inflicted at all.  On both sides, the results of these heavy aerospace-torpedo attacks are bitterly disappointing.  Guns open fire as well, with both the Gavrilov and Urakaze lost in a blinding, point-blank exchange.  But Gavrilov is three times the size of the Urakaze, and at least for the moment, the British and Japanese are winning the day.Turn 3, and the British and Russians make what I initially thought was something of a mistake here. As the Gavrilov lunges toward the Japanese (rolling on her back to protect her wounded port bow, the strike frigate Urakaze rushes right toward her as well, actually entering the same hex alongside the Russian light cruiser’s port side. That’s pretty much going to be it for the Urakaze, but if Rasmus can trade a frigate for a light cruiser, that’s not a bad move at all. However, the heavy cruiser Kama and destroyer Sheffield again turn hard to starboard, diving toward the planet, while the carrier Vindictive runs close abeam to the Urakaze. In effect, the Anglo-Japanese are divided in half, usually a VERY bad move when an American aerospace-torpedo strike is coming in. The Kama gets the worst of it, the Marines of VMF/A-319 “Tigershark” Squadron unleashing a hail of Harpoon torpedoes and Hellfire missiles, along with the Mk 48s and P-500s from the warships. But mass driver defense aboard the Kama and especially the valiant little Sheffield is ferocious, and while the Kama loses almost all the armor off her stern, her reactors and engines are almost undamaged by what SHOULD have been a killing strike. If Damon and Rasmus “made a mistake,” they got away with it. Meanwhile, the British strike against the American flagship USS Spokane, while textbook executed (concentrated on a single target, optimum range, no bombers lost to mass drivers, etc.) ... just doesn’t get the dice it needs. Even the missiles and torpedoes that DO hit the Spokane all hit in the “wrong” places, and while the American cruiser loses all her stern armor, no internal damage is inflicted at all. On both sides, the results of these heavy aerospace-torpedo attacks are bitterly disappointing. Guns open fire as well, with both the Gavrilov and Urakaze lost in a blinding, point-blank exchange. But Gavrilov is three times the size of the Urakaze, and at least for the moment, the British and Japanese are winning the day.
While the Urakaze and Gavrilov both spin out of control, burning and dead in space, the remaining ships of both sides streak past each other, engines on all ships pulling hard against Eastman’s Manor’s gravity as they begin to turn back toward each other.  The Spokane actually side-slips to port slightly, then turning starboard to line up a long-range broadside on the stern of the carrier HMS Vindictive, which has slowed slightly to recover her bombers and some of her fighters, clearly to rearm for a second strike.  Four Marine Grumman FS/A-81 “Avenger” torpedo bombers also land in the bays of the USS Tarawa.  The Kama and the Sheffield have also set up long-range broadsides on the Tarawa, hoping to cripple the light carrier WHILE she’s rearming bombers.  The enhanced gravitic shielding and electronic warfare suites of the Tarawa, however, along with the 3000+ kilometer range, spare the little Marine carrier the worst of enemy fire.While the Urakaze and Gavrilov both spin out of control, burning and dead in space, the remaining ships of both sides streak past each other, engines on all ships pulling hard against Eastman’s Manor’s gravity as they begin to turn back toward each other. The Spokane actually side-slips to port slightly, then turning starboard to line up a long-range broadside on the stern of the carrier HMS Vindictive, which has slowed slightly to recover her bombers and some of her fighters, clearly to rearm for a second strike. Four Marine Grumman FS/A-81 “Avenger” torpedo bombers also land in the bays of the USS Tarawa. The Kama and the Sheffield have also set up long-range broadsides on the Tarawa, hoping to cripple the light carrier WHILE she’s rearming bombers. The enhanced gravitic shielding and electronic warfare suites of the Tarawa, however, along with the 3000+ kilometer range, spare the little Marine carrier the worst of enemy fire.
Recovery and rearming continue at a feverish pace aboard the Tarawa and the Vindictive, with Damon landing 8 more fighters even as 8 previous fighters and the initial 8 bombers complete rearmament in the Vindictive’s bays.  Carriers of given classes are limited not only by how many aerospace craft they can carry, but how many they can launch and recover in a given turn.  Especially with larger carriers, this can sometimes lead to tough “Nagumo-esque” decisions about when to recover, when to launch, and what ordinance packages to carry on a re-armed aerospace strike.  The Sheffield takes more hits, some of which carve deep into the ship’s interior, causing heavy crew casualties and decompressions ... compelling her skipper to break off from the engagement.  The Americans have plenty of their own problems, however.  Seemingly minor hits on maneuvering thrusters aboard both USS Spokane and Tarawa mean they have a very hard time turning, rolling, and decelerating as they wish, especially while trying to screen badly-damaged sections of their hulls from further Japanese EPCs AND turning against planetary gravity.  Captain Cheatham is forced to turn TOWARD the planet at a hair-raising distance, just praying he doesn’t take another hard hit and loses power until he can complete his turn ...    Recovery and rearming continue at a feverish pace aboard the Tarawa and the Vindictive, with Damon landing 8 more fighters even as 8 previous fighters and the initial 8 bombers complete rearmament in the Vindictive’s bays. Carriers of given classes are limited not only by how many aerospace craft they can carry, but how many they can launch and recover in a given turn. Especially with larger carriers, this can sometimes lead to tough “Nagumo-esque” decisions about when to recover, when to launch, and what ordinance packages to carry on a re-armed aerospace strike. The Sheffield takes more hits, some of which carve deep into the ship’s interior, causing heavy crew casualties and decompressions ... compelling her skipper to break off from the engagement. The Americans have plenty of their own problems, however. Seemingly minor hits on maneuvering thrusters aboard both USS Spokane and Tarawa mean they have a very hard time turning, rolling, and decelerating as they wish, especially while trying to screen badly-damaged sections of their hulls from further Japanese EPCs AND turning against planetary gravity. Captain Cheatham is forced to turn TOWARD the planet at a hair-raising distance, just praying he doesn’t take another hard hit and loses power until he can complete his turn ...
The Americans get away with it, completing their turn (their hulls perhaps glowing a little red) and pulling back out of Eastman’s Manor’s gravity.  Presenting bows to the enemy, they can thus launch full frontal spread of torpedoes (what torpedoes they have left, that is, USS Spokane has actually lost her portside array).  More immediately, the forward EPCs and 8 MgKv lasers of the Spokane still through the wounded side of HMS Sheffield, and at last the valiant little destroyer loses power.  Burning and out of control, she careens out of the battle area.  The Kama replies with her own broadside of vengeance, massive 18-teravolt EPCs burning away the Tarawa’s fo’c’sle and crippling forward shields.  This is going to have a critical effect in the time to come.  Meanwhile, the Marines get perhaps a little too aggressive, their F/S-44 Star Corsair fighters trying a strafing run against the stern of the Vindictive while their four Avenger bombers are swarmed by British and Japanese scouts which manage to shoot down two of them BEFORE they can launch more Harpoon aerospace torpedoes against the Vindictive. The Americans get away with it, completing their turn (their hulls perhaps glowing a little red) and pulling back out of Eastman’s Manor’s gravity. Presenting bows to the enemy, they can thus launch full frontal spread of torpedoes (what torpedoes they have left, that is, USS Spokane has actually lost her portside array). More immediately, the forward EPCs and 8 MgKv lasers of the Spokane still through the wounded side of HMS Sheffield, and at last the valiant little destroyer loses power. Burning and out of control, she careens out of the battle area. The Kama replies with her own broadside of vengeance, massive 18-teravolt EPCs burning away the Tarawa’s fo’c’sle and crippling forward shields. This is going to have a critical effect in the time to come. Meanwhile, the Marines get perhaps a little too aggressive, their F/S-44 Star Corsair fighters trying a strafing run against the stern of the Vindictive while their four Avenger bombers are swarmed by British and Japanese scouts which manage to shoot down two of them BEFORE they can launch more Harpoon aerospace torpedoes against the Vindictive.
The Second Battle of Hawking’s Star takes a final horrific turn on Turn 7, where American torpedoes, bombers, and fighters on a gunnery strafing run rush the stern of the gigantic Japanese heavy cruiser IJN Kama.  The Kama decides to mass her point-defense against the Marine fighters rather than the incoming torpedoes, hoping her shields will project her.  It’s a fateful decision, especially for the Corsair pilots of VMF/A-319, which lose 60% of their strength in a hurricane of Japanese anti-aerospace fire.  That means the torpedoes and missiles have a clear path, however, and the accuracy of these weapons (guided by elite Marine pilots, upgraded CiC of the USS Spokane, and enhanced electronic warfare aboard USS Tarawa) mean that the stern of the Kama is positively torn apart in the fusillade.  Recall that Kama’s stern armor was largely shorn away in the previous aerospace strike, and the mighty heavy cruiser doesn’t survive a second encounter.  Successive Mk 48s and Marine torpedoes explode INSIDE Kama’s engineering section, and the captain has to eject reactors to keep the ship from exploding altogether.  Just that fast, the Americans have gone from losing this battle to being the clear victors.  But the Japanese are not alone in their agony.  Without shields over her bow, the USS Tarawa is targeted by the expert torpedo and missile strike of the Supermarine Starfire fighters and Nebula Star Typhoon bombers of HMS Vindictive, having relaunched her aerospace group and carefully protected them until they could get within range for a united second strike.  The Tarawa soon takes missiles through the bridge, crippling the Marine carrier and sending it spiraling out of control from the battle zone.  The rest of the strike goes for the Spokane, and together with the last volley from Kama’s forward guns, hits the forward magazine of the Spokane.  The ship isn’t crippled, but that internal explosion causes enough decompression where Captain Cheatham is forced to break off the engagement.The Second Battle of Hawking’s Star takes a final horrific turn on Turn 7, where American torpedoes, bombers, and fighters on a gunnery strafing run rush the stern of the gigantic Japanese heavy cruiser IJN Kama. The Kama decides to mass her point-defense against the Marine fighters rather than the incoming torpedoes, hoping her shields will project her. It’s a fateful decision, especially for the Corsair pilots of VMF/A-319, which lose 60% of their strength in a hurricane of Japanese anti-aerospace fire. That means the torpedoes and missiles have a clear path, however, and the accuracy of these weapons (guided by elite Marine pilots, upgraded CiC of the USS Spokane, and enhanced electronic warfare aboard USS Tarawa) mean that the stern of the Kama is positively torn apart in the fusillade. Recall that Kama’s stern armor was largely shorn away in the previous aerospace strike, and the mighty heavy cruiser doesn’t survive a second encounter. Successive Mk 48s and Marine torpedoes explode INSIDE Kama’s engineering section, and the captain has to eject reactors to keep the ship from exploding altogether. Just that fast, the Americans have gone from losing this battle to being the clear victors. But the Japanese are not alone in their agony. Without shields over her bow, the USS Tarawa is targeted by the expert torpedo and missile strike of the Supermarine Starfire fighters and Nebula Star Typhoon bombers of HMS Vindictive, having relaunched her aerospace group and carefully protected them until they could get within range for a united second strike. The Tarawa soon takes missiles through the bridge, crippling the Marine carrier and sending it spiraling out of control from the battle zone. The rest of the strike goes for the Spokane, and together with the last volley from Kama’s forward guns, hits the forward magazine of the Spokane. The ship isn’t crippled, but that internal explosion causes enough decompression where Captain Cheatham is forced to break off the engagement.
Turn 8, and we see the USS Spokane turn away from the last enemy ship, HMS Vindictive.  Obeying the rules for breaking off, the Spokane is just able to remain on the table until the end of Turn 8 (the end of any ASSAULT game, Darkstar Rule 5.2.1., p. 92), meaning she counts as half victory points as a technically “operational” ship (Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.A.).  As an ASSAULT game, this battle’s outcome is assessed based on what forces both sides have left on the table (again, Spokane only counts for half because she is being forced off the board).  Carefully counting everything up, we come up with a shocking result.  Counting every last scout plane, the Americans have 111 points on the table.  The British and Japanese have ... 112.  Rasmus and Damon have a +1 point victory margin, but the game goes down as a draw (Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.C.i).  You have to win by at least 5% of the game’s beginning point value.  Otherwise, High Command has determined this engagement “too close to call.”Turn 8, and we see the USS Spokane turn away from the last enemy ship, HMS Vindictive. Obeying the rules for breaking off, the Spokane is just able to remain on the table until the end of Turn 8 (the end of any ASSAULT game, Darkstar Rule 5.2.1., p. 92), meaning she counts as half victory points as a technically “operational” ship (Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.A.). As an ASSAULT game, this battle’s outcome is assessed based on what forces both sides have left on the table (again, Spokane only counts for half because she is being forced off the board). Carefully counting everything up, we come up with a shocking result. Counting every last scout plane, the Americans have 111 points on the table. The British and Japanese have ... 112. Rasmus and Damon have a +1 point victory margin, but the game goes down as a draw (Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.C.i). You have to win by at least 5% of the game’s beginning point value. Otherwise, High Command has determined this engagement “too close to call.”
So what does this mean?  Well, the Second Battle of Hawking’s Star has gone down as a charred, smoking, blood-soaked draw.  The two American planetary assault ships in the system’s outer debris belts are NOT called in (the British and Japanese have held on ... the core orbital zones of the system are NOT secured) ... but they’re not sent home to Alpha Lyra, either.  The threat remains in place.  The fate of Hawking’s Star, and the British in the Hercules Rim, and the Third Hercules War overall, remains in a razor-thin balance.  In the chart above, we see where the results of this battle are all chalked up as “zero,” meaning the British still hover on the precipice of defeat.  They have a -10 campaign score balanced against a “political commitment threshold” of 10 ... one more defeat point and they exceed that threshold ... their government sues for peace.  The Americans and Russians, both at +3, are still technically “winning” this war, but the results of Second Hawking’s Star are nevertheless far from what they wanted.  I’m sure we’ll keep this campaign going and see how it turns out.  Stay tuned!  So what does this mean? Well, the Second Battle of Hawking’s Star has gone down as a charred, smoking, blood-soaked draw. The two American planetary assault ships in the system’s outer debris belts are NOT called in (the British and Japanese have held on ... the core orbital zones of the system are NOT secured) ... but they’re not sent home to Alpha Lyra, either. The threat remains in place. The fate of Hawking’s Star, and the British in the Hercules Rim, and the Third Hercules War overall, remains in a razor-thin balance. In the chart above, we see where the results of this battle are all chalked up as “zero,” meaning the British still hover on the precipice of defeat. They have a -10 campaign score balanced against a “political commitment threshold” of 10 ... one more defeat point and they exceed that threshold ... their government sues for peace. The Americans and Russians, both at +3, are still technically “winning” this war, but the results of Second Hawking’s Star are nevertheless far from what they wanted. I’m sure we’ll keep this campaign going and see how it turns out. Stay tuned!

The "Real" Bird of Prey

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
2 Comments

Development continues for crossover warships and rules between Darkstar and Star Trek.  I’ve now designed system rules and “available components” for cloaking devices, because it’s time to bring in the third great faction in Star Trek, the Romulans.

This is the classic Romulan Bird of Prey from the original series.  Not the hijacked lore-screw-up “Klingon” Bird of Prey (technically there was no such thing before bungled script re-writes in Star Trek III).

I was surprised by how small the ship is in the FASA records.  Only a class VI, barely a “large destroyer” in Star Trek (counts as a frigate in Darkstar).  Then again, it has a cloaking device, and the powerful Romulan plasma torpedo we see in the episode: Balance of Terror (Season 3, TOS).

Rules for the Romulan plasma torpedo were easy.  FASA had perfectly designed tables for these weapons, cost-balanced and meticulously play-tested, and of course Darkstar players are no strangers to plasmsa weapons.

The cloaking devices were a little tougher.  We know they’re very small (Kirk practically carries one in his arms in the TOS episode: The Enterprise Incident.  Crew is not an issue, so POWER has to be the real “cost” of the system.

I originally took a short cut, simply “demanding” that a ship equipped with cloaking carry shields one class bracket higher (i.e., a Class V-VI destroyer with level 6 shielding would have to carry Class VII-VIII “Frigate” shielding).

But this was cheap, manual, and would prove problematic when I wanted to build the very largest Romulan ships, like the D’deridex class warbirds seen in TNG (i.e., they are already the “highest” class bracket, there IS no higher class bracket for them to pay for their cloaking).

So I finally bit the bullet and built two more weapons categories for the two weapons tables (TOS, TNG).  Now a ship that wants to carry cloak simply buys this as another “weapon.”

Power is the killer.  Cloaking devises in the lore are described as drawing tremendous energy from the quantum singularity power plants that drive most Romulan warships.

So like I said, this is the classic V-8 Bird of Prey, commanded by “Mark Leonard” in Balance of Terror.  It’s smaller than the Enterprise, but can cloak and is overgunned for its size.  It’s not faster (which balances against how we see it in the episode, it could never simply run away from the Enterprise, and jives with the general concept that this ship was analogous to a large submarine (the episode drawn from the classic movie: The Enemy Below).

The usual cloaking rules apply.  The ship is NOT placed on the table.  The owning player must track his hex number and facing per turn.  While the cloak is up, no weapons fire is allowed (the experiment in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country seems to have never been repeated – it’s also lore-breaking and game-breaking).

So in game terms is breaks down to a simple modification to the usual power allocation rules.  You can spend thrust and operate shielding while cloaked.  Weapons will not fire while cloaked.  A player must decloak during power allocation phase before he can use weapons.  And of course, all weapons fire in Darkstar is simultaneous.

This still makes cloaked vessels (and Romulans in general) very dangerous.  They can literally sneak up behind you and blast away at full broadside, slowing to a crawl so they can double-allocate to weapons when their cloaks drop (no thrust points).  So the turn sequence would allow for:

  • Turn 1:
  • Vector toward an enemy
  • Slow down.
  • Turn 2:
  • No power to Thrust or Cloak
  • Decloak
  • Fire all weapons twice
  • Take fire in return (you shields are still up)
  • Turn 3
  • Power away next turn.

We’ll see how it works probably next week.  This weekend is getting v ery busy with “conventional” Darkstar and Sitrep / HK Ops.

The Warship Record Sheet of the V-8 Class Cruiser.  She's a savage little beast, a The Warship Record Sheet of the V-8 Class Cruiser. She's a savage little beast, a "Darkstar Frigate" with 2800 power, a nasty weapons suite (for a Star Trek vessel this size) and the ability to cloak. She's a little slow, however, and again ... only a "frigate." I gave her a +1 Tactical Systems bonus (costing her plenty in weight and power) to supplement her rather inaccurate weapons (drawn from FASA data). Those Romulan plasma torpedoes will be nasty - as those familiar with "Balace of Terror" will tell you.
This one took a little while, only because I had to finally come to grips with how to design cloaking devices and track the power draws off the Excel sheets that actually build the ships for the game.This one took a little while, only because I had to finally come to grips with how to design cloaking devices and track the power draws off the Excel sheets that actually build the ships for the game.

Star Trek has been ported into Darkstar

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
4 Comments

Over the last three days I’ve been working to pull the universe of Star Trek into the Darkstar tactical starship combat system.

The “data basis” for this effort was the FASA Star Trek Starship Tactical Simulator game of the 1980s.  Although not officially “canon,” the writing, warships, and history presented in under this FASA license is still kept alive on many fan websites and has clearly influenced Star Trek development through the Enterprise series, Prelude to Axanar film, countless novels, the Star Trek Online game, Discovery series, and other parts of the Star Trek verse.

As a FASA game (the same company that developed classics like Battletech, Renegade Legions, Shadowrun, etc), STSTCS was beautiful, detailed, balanced, customizable, and encouraged players to design and modify their own starships.  Through a meticulously-calculated, cross-referenced, and balanced point system, anything players would design in this system would automatically be “tournament legal” and playable in any STSTCS game.

This old game was also one of many inspirations for Darkstar back in 2012.  So converting starships from STSTCS into Darkstar so warships from these two universes could interact in a formal Darkstar wargame has naturally been a long-time item on the Oriskany wish list.

Finally, it’s been done.  Finding huge spreadsheets on these FASA fan sites, and applying some hard “Darkstar design-style” crunching, I’ve created a conversion system that will support a wide range of Star Trek factions, eras, and designs into Darkstar.

So far I have weapons and systems tables for Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, and Gorn.  Future expansions might include the Dominion and Orion pirates.

The tables will cover anything from the TOS era through the Dominion War.  So from the Four Years War before the original series through the end of DS9 / Voyager will be able to be constructed and “reliably” portrayed in Darkstar.

A few things will be left “off the table” for the moment.  At present I cannot recreate Romulan War / Archer era warships (22nd Century), nor many things from Star Trek Online (2409 – 25th Century).

I will not be handling transporters.  They are a “broken” plot device, and would rarely be able to be used on a Darkstar table anyway when warships have shields up.

I will not be handling Saucer Separation capabilities.  The vast majority of ships in the Star Trek universe cannot do this anyway.

I will not be handling uber-races like the Borg or Udeen (Species 8742).

Things I will be bringing in will be Romulan cloaking devices, DS-9/VOY-era quantum torpedoes, etc (yes, they’ll be very expensive).  There will also be a rudimentary power allocation system that will allow players to prioritize propulsion, weapons, and shields during a battle (a ubiquitous staple of Star Trek stories and combat).

So far I have about 10 warships designed in the new system, from the Class II Pulsar class warp shuttles to the Marklin class destroyers made famous by Garth or Izar during the Four Years War, the classic Enterprise 1701 and Enterprise 1701-A refit, the Excelsior class “battlecruiser”, and the Galaxy-class flagships of the 24th Century Federation.

I have also prepared D-7 battlecruisers (M-class “K’tinga” variant – “Bringer of Destruction”) of the Klingon Empire.

The images below show a small sample of what is prepared so far.

Warship Record Sheet for the USS Essex (NCC-1719).  This is sistership of the USS Enterprise after her refit we see in Star Trek the Motion Picture - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (also, NCC-1701A from Star Trek IV-VI).  It is one of the older Class XI Constitution class (Mark IV series) cruisers confirmed in FASA sources to undergo the Warship Record Sheet for the USS Essex (NCC-1719). This is sistership of the USS Enterprise after her refit we see in Star Trek the Motion Picture - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (also, NCC-1701A from Star Trek IV-VI). It is one of the older Class XI Constitution class (Mark IV series) cruisers confirmed in FASA sources to undergo the "Enterprise Class" refit of the early 2270s. Note also the warship component layout has been redesigned to more closely resemble the layout of Star Trek ships. Again, those war nacelles make Star Trek ships far more fragile than Darkstar ships ... IF the Darkstar ship can shoot through the Star Trek ship's much better shielding).
Warship Record Sheet for a D-7 class battlecruiser, specifically the Warship Record Sheet for a D-7 class battlecruiser, specifically the "M" series "K't'inga" (Bringer of Destruction). The captain is Kang, one of my favorite Klingon characters from "Day of the Dove" episode, Season 3 of the original series. In general, Star Trek ships are proving under-gunned and VERY thinly-armored compared to Darkstar ships (several examples from the movies and TV shows support this), but much more heavily shielded, much faster, and much more flexible in terms of their power allocation special abilities. I have added the ability to include additional armor in Star Trek ships. Note this K't'inga class carries an extra belt of armor over her engineering section and impulse engines (stern section).
The design tables for the Enterprise refit Constitution class.  The base categorization structure is drawn directly from the FASA source material, the universal Class I - Class XX hierarchy.  Within that structure, however, there is TREMENDOUS latitude regarding the available power.  Therefore, the point value calculation system is much less bracketed for Star Trek ships than native Darkstar ships, with cost being a simple function of a base for class plus 1 point per 100 units of available power in the design process.  The design tables for the Enterprise refit Constitution class. The base categorization structure is drawn directly from the FASA source material, the universal Class I - Class XX hierarchy. Within that structure, however, there is TREMENDOUS latitude regarding the available power. Therefore, the point value calculation system is much less bracketed for Star Trek ships than native Darkstar ships, with cost being a simple function of a base for class plus 1 point per 100 units of available power in the design process.
The design tables for the Klingon K't'inga class.  Systems like Shielding, impulse propulsion, and warp drive are far more efficient in the Star Trek 'verse (thus lower power draws reflected here).  This allows a typical Star Trek ship to carry much better shielding and move much faster than a comparable-sized Darkstar analog.  However, the Darkstar ship usually has much more powerful weapons, and thicker hull plating.  The point of this project is to allow Star Trek ships to fight Darkstar ships ... or Star Trek ships to fight each other in the Darkstar system.The design tables for the Klingon K't'inga class. Systems like Shielding, impulse propulsion, and warp drive are far more efficient in the Star Trek 'verse (thus lower power draws reflected here). This allows a typical Star Trek ship to carry much better shielding and move much faster than a comparable-sized Darkstar analog. However, the Darkstar ship usually has much more powerful weapons, and thicker hull plating. The point of this project is to allow Star Trek ships to fight Darkstar ships ... or Star Trek ships to fight each other in the Darkstar system.

Massive 500-Point Battle, Star System Almost Lost, Faction Hangs by a Thread

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 6
8 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
21:45 SOL GMT, 14 MARCH 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

A major shift seems to be in the making in the ongoing Third Hercules War. Reports continue to come in from the far-flung systems of the Hercules Rim, and the full impact of recent events presently remains unclear. However, observers agree that the United States had undertaken a significant shift in strategy, and made a much more aggressive move in the conflict.

Until recently, the “Coalition of Eagles” (United States, Holy Russian Empire, and supporting factions) have pursued a “siege” approach to the Third Hercules War. With Russian colonies along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim at Kransaya Nadhezda (“Red Hope” at 72 Hercules), and American and Indian Republic colonies along the spinward edge at Vega and Bhogavati (Alpha Lyra and HD 176051), the idea was to squeeze the British and Japanese in their more central colonies until their governments ceded at the peace table.

When the American and Indian Navies more or less smashed the “Black Dragons” (Khitan-Tunguska Free State) out of the war and forced them to abandon their colonies at Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules), the moment seemed perfect to expand on this strategy. Seizing this abandoned system would all but surround the British and Japanese with American, Indian, and Russian holdings. However, the Holy Russian Empire suffered a sharp defeat at 14 Hercules when the Arab League abruptly entered the war and signed an alliance with the Renkei Alliance (United Kingdom, Japan).

Acknowledging at last that this “siege strategy” will not work, the Americans have now embarked on a much more direct approach. The newly-arrived “Task Force Liberty” carrier-cruiser group, under the command of Captains Zachary Irons and David Cheatham, is sent directly into the British colonies at Hawking’s Star (HR 6806). To support this effort, a Russian Slava-class heavy cruiser, CPK Rotislav, attacks from the other direction, vectoring in from Krasnaya Nadhezda. The attack takes quite a while to put together (some of these ships have to cover upwards of 18 light-years), and doesn’t actually commence until the middle of March, 2521. Even at this late date, the strike is in fact somewhat rushed. Originally planned as an assault (supported by two Saipan-class USMC planetary assault ships), the time scales were projected out into the beginning of May, by which time any chance at surprise would sure be lost. Instead this operation is to be conducted as a strike, directly it the heart of the Hawking’s Star colony.

As the Americans and Russians converge on the HR6806 system and emerge from their 10th magnitude Darkstar waves (easily detectable well in advance, especially with ships this large), the British mobilize a powerful defense force. The entirety of Cruiser Squadron “A” (Agamemnon) is mobilized against the threat. Of particular note will be the elite aerospace strike group of the large Valiant-class light fleet carrier HMS Vindictive pitted against the elite (some would say nigh-legendary) aerospace squadrons of the Endeavor-class USS Liberty, including Fighter Squadron VSF-221 (“The Dead Rabbits”) and Attack Squadron VSA-193 (“The Eight Ball Express”).

US/Russians: @Oriskany
UK: @Damon
497-point raid

Carrier-Cruiser Raid into Heart of Enemy Star System – Hawking’s Star (HR6806) – March 14, 2521

Here is the current state of the Hercules Rim warzone.  With their hopes dashed for an allied foothold at 14 Hercules (Khaizan’s Haven which could’ve been a possible staging point “behind” the British and Japanese), the Americans resolve to kick down the front door with a direct strike into HR6806 (Hawking’s Star).Here is the current state of the Hercules Rim warzone. With their hopes dashed for an allied foothold at 14 Hercules (Khaizan’s Haven which could’ve been a possible staging point “behind” the British and Japanese), the Americans resolve to kick down the front door with a direct strike into HR6806 (Hawking’s Star).
Here is the matchup.  Note that most of these aerospace groups are either elite (one “*”) or double-elite (two “*”).  The cruisers will be trading heavy gunfire to be sure, but there will also be a very nasty dogfight as over 70 fighters, bombers, and scouts mix it up or launch devastating aerospace strikes on the capital ships.  Speaking of the warships, Cruiser Squadron “A” has become a truly formidable force.  Over almost a year of play Damon has worked this task force up to nearly 500 points including all his upgrades, in fact he can’t upgrade any more or he’ll be over 500 points, beyond the command limit of Lord Edward Cavendish.  He’ll have to pick up a few promotions and command ratings before he’s allowed to command a 500+ point FLEET instead of a 251-500 point Task Force.  In summary, he needs a spot in the Admiralty, at least a Commodore’s star on his shoulder.Here is the matchup. Note that most of these aerospace groups are either elite (one “*”) or double-elite (two “*”). The cruisers will be trading heavy gunfire to be sure, but there will also be a very nasty dogfight as over 70 fighters, bombers, and scouts mix it up or launch devastating aerospace strikes on the capital ships. Speaking of the warships, Cruiser Squadron “A” has become a truly formidable force. Over almost a year of play Damon has worked this task force up to nearly 500 points including all his upgrades, in fact he can’t upgrade any more or he’ll be over 500 points, beyond the command limit of Lord Edward Cavendish. He’ll have to pick up a few promotions and command ratings before he’s allowed to command a 500+ point FLEET instead of a 251-500 point Task Force. In summary, he needs a spot in the Admiralty, at least a Commodore’s star on his shoulder.
The battle begins.  The Americans and Russians set a very fast approach speed, closing the distance very quickly against the British.  Once the Agamemnon loses initiative, the heavy Rotislav lines up a perfect broadside against her. Note that the Rotislav will have a broadside on the Agamemnon but the Agamemnon will only have forward guns in return.  Sleek, hyper-advanced, and  heavily-upgraded (not to mention extremely expensive) American USS Spokane (San Antonio class light cruiser) streaks in as well, along with the destroyer USS Vincennes (Valcour class, same as USS Oriskany only not nearly as well-upgraded).  Once the HMS Sheffield and HMS Retribution pull in alongside and astern of Agamemnon, the American and Russian guns switch to them.  Clearly they want an early lead in this battle, so decide to clip a few of the smaller ships first.  Even as the British and American carriers hang back and begin launching their elite fighter groups, the Russian and especially American buns positively maul the Sheffield, burning through her forward magazine and bridge ... while the light cruiser Retribution is all but blown in half.  British fire mauls the Rotislav ... but this is possibly a mistake.  While certainly the biggest ship on the table (heavy cruiser, 168,000 tons), she’s but no means the most dangerous (she’s worth only 101 points, the much lighter USS Spokane is 163).  The USS Spokane, Liberty, and even Vincennes are probably the bigger threat, and thus get his first deadly round of fire “free.”  It cost the British the HMS Sheffield and Retribution, while the CPK Rotislav’s port bow is gutted, forward magazine hit, and bridge damaged ... but remains operational at least for now. The battle begins. The Americans and Russians set a very fast approach speed, closing the distance very quickly against the British. Once the Agamemnon loses initiative, the heavy Rotislav lines up a perfect broadside against her. Note that the Rotislav will have a broadside on the Agamemnon but the Agamemnon will only have forward guns in return. Sleek, hyper-advanced, and heavily-upgraded (not to mention extremely expensive) American USS Spokane (San Antonio class light cruiser) streaks in as well, along with the destroyer USS Vincennes (Valcour class, same as USS Oriskany only not nearly as well-upgraded). Once the HMS Sheffield and HMS Retribution pull in alongside and astern of Agamemnon, the American and Russian guns switch to them. Clearly they want an early lead in this battle, so decide to clip a few of the smaller ships first. Even as the British and American carriers hang back and begin launching their elite fighter groups, the Russian and especially American buns positively maul the Sheffield, burning through her forward magazine and bridge ... while the light cruiser Retribution is all but blown in half. British fire mauls the Rotislav ... but this is possibly a mistake. While certainly the biggest ship on the table (heavy cruiser, 168,000 tons), she’s but no means the most dangerous (she’s worth only 101 points, the much lighter USS Spokane is 163). The USS Spokane, Liberty, and even Vincennes are probably the bigger threat, and thus get his first deadly round of fire “free.” It cost the British the HMS Sheffield and Retribution, while the CPK Rotislav’s port bow is gutted, forward magazine hit, and bridge damaged ... but remains operational at least for now.
Still moving very fast (neither the British or the Americans are wasting any time on this one), the two fleets race past each other, many ships standing on their retros and gravity rudders, screaming to slow down and turn as best they can.  One exception is the Rotislav, which is already breaking for the far edge of the table.  Even heavily damaged, if she can remain operational she’ll remain a potent threat this deep in an enemy star system (RAID victory rules in this game).  Surviving British and American ships also struggle to remain close together ... because by now both HMS Vindictive and USS Liberty have completed their aerospace launches, and both sides are ready to unleash a withering barrage of aerospace missiles and torpedoes.  The bombers of USN Attack Squadron VSA-193 (“The Eight Ball Express”) put a hail of ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes into the stern of the Agamemnon, while the fighters of USN VSF-221 (“The Dead Rabbits”) do the same with their ASM-92 Hellfires.  Many are shot down, along with Mark 48 torpedoes from the USS Liberty, Vincennes, and Spokane.  But enough hits are scored in this massive strike that the Agamemnon is crippled.  This explains the strategy the Americans turn the previous turn, knocking down a few smaller British ships, even though they were smaller, greatly weakened the overall British mass driver point defense strength in anticipation of this combined aerospace – torpedo strike.Still moving very fast (neither the British or the Americans are wasting any time on this one), the two fleets race past each other, many ships standing on their retros and gravity rudders, screaming to slow down and turn as best they can. One exception is the Rotislav, which is already breaking for the far edge of the table. Even heavily damaged, if she can remain operational she’ll remain a potent threat this deep in an enemy star system (RAID victory rules in this game). Surviving British and American ships also struggle to remain close together ... because by now both HMS Vindictive and USS Liberty have completed their aerospace launches, and both sides are ready to unleash a withering barrage of aerospace missiles and torpedoes. The bombers of USN Attack Squadron VSA-193 (“The Eight Ball Express”) put a hail of ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes into the stern of the Agamemnon, while the fighters of USN VSF-221 (“The Dead Rabbits”) do the same with their ASM-92 Hellfires. Many are shot down, along with Mark 48 torpedoes from the USS Liberty, Vincennes, and Spokane. But enough hits are scored in this massive strike that the Agamemnon is crippled. This explains the strategy the Americans turn the previous turn, knocking down a few smaller British ships, even though they were smaller, greatly weakened the overall British mass driver point defense strength in anticipation of this combined aerospace – torpedo strike.
The British meanwhile, also have a significant aerospace wave of their own.  Three factors, however, prove decisive.  One, the Americans have lost no ships.  Although the Rotislav is too far away to help with point defense, the Liberty has electronic warfare upgrades and together with the Spokane and the Vincennes is able to put up a much better defense.  Two, the British force doesn’t have quite the same number of capital ship gravitic torpedoes, allowing the Americans to focus against the British fighter/bomber strike.  Three, the British divide their strike between the USS Spokane and the CPK Rotislav.  While this is almost always a bad move, in this case it might’ve paid off because the Rotislav has completely lost its port bow shields.  One missile or torpedo in the bridge would knock out the ship and net the British 100 points.  Almost all the missiles hit, but hit LOCATION is just plain bad luck for the British.  Almost all the missiles just hit too far forward, they blow a virtual tunnel through the Rotislav’s fo’c’sle and two missiles literally pass THROUGH the gaming hole and never explode.  Unbelievably, the Rotislav escapes under her own power, denying the British victory points.  Meanwhile, the weakened missile strike against the Spokane is largely fended off.  The one bright spot for the British is the gunnery against the stern of the USS Vincennes, enough to cripple her and leave her burning and adrift in space. The British meanwhile, also have a significant aerospace wave of their own. Three factors, however, prove decisive. One, the Americans have lost no ships. Although the Rotislav is too far away to help with point defense, the Liberty has electronic warfare upgrades and together with the Spokane and the Vincennes is able to put up a much better defense. Two, the British force doesn’t have quite the same number of capital ship gravitic torpedoes, allowing the Americans to focus against the British fighter/bomber strike. Three, the British divide their strike between the USS Spokane and the CPK Rotislav. While this is almost always a bad move, in this case it might’ve paid off because the Rotislav has completely lost its port bow shields. One missile or torpedo in the bridge would knock out the ship and net the British 100 points. Almost all the missiles hit, but hit LOCATION is just plain bad luck for the British. Almost all the missiles just hit too far forward, they blow a virtual tunnel through the Rotislav’s fo’c’sle and two missiles literally pass THROUGH the gaming hole and never explode. Unbelievably, the Rotislav escapes under her own power, denying the British victory points. Meanwhile, the weakened missile strike against the Spokane is largely fended off. The one bright spot for the British is the gunnery against the stern of the USS Vincennes, enough to cripple her and leave her burning and adrift in space.
Now alone, the British carrier HMS Vindictive beats a hasty break-off, denying the Americans at least victory points for crippling, destroying or even capturing her.  The fighters and bombers engage with the Americans near the planet in a huge dogfight, helping cover Vindictive’s  withdrawal.  The move costs the British all their bombers, but American fighters suffer heavily (engaged against British bombers while British Starfires engaged the American Corsair fighters).  Meanwhile, the American Avenger bombers have all landed back aboard USS Liberty, re-arming for a second strike that will never be necessary. Now alone, the British carrier HMS Vindictive beats a hasty break-off, denying the Americans at least victory points for crippling, destroying or even capturing her. The fighters and bombers engage with the Americans near the planet in a huge dogfight, helping cover Vindictive’s withdrawal. The move costs the British all their bombers, but American fighters suffer heavily (engaged against British bombers while British Starfires engaged the American Corsair fighters). Meanwhile, the American Avenger bombers have all landed back aboard USS Liberty, re-arming for a second strike that will never be necessary.
This battle was mercifully short, never formally lasting into Turn 04. The Americans have won by +321 out of a 497 point battle, a 65% margin that clearly indicates a DECISIVE victory.  Honestly, I have a lot of experience with the particular ships and these particular upgrades, I feel Damon might have misidentified the Rotislav as the greater threat vs. USS Spokane (again, 101 points vs. 163 points), and the British were just dogged by plan bad luck (by all rights the Rotislav should have been crippled TWICE – as it was she wasn’t even driven off).I would say the divided aerospace strike was a “mistake” – except it wasn’t, it was an honest gamble that should have worked ... it just didn’t due to spectacularly bad hit LOCATIONS on the Rotislav.  By contrast, here are the Warship Record Sheets for HMS Agamemnon and HMS Retribution.  Not all the American guns hit, but those that did, hit right where they should have.  The cripple results on these British warships are almost COMICALLY surgical.  This is just Lady Luck, nothing more.This battle was mercifully short, never formally lasting into Turn 04. The Americans have won by +321 out of a 497 point battle, a 65% margin that clearly indicates a DECISIVE victory. Honestly, I have a lot of experience with the particular ships and these particular upgrades, I feel Damon might have misidentified the Rotislav as the greater threat vs. USS Spokane (again, 101 points vs. 163 points), and the British were just dogged by plan bad luck (by all rights the Rotislav should have been crippled TWICE – as it was she wasn’t even driven off).I would say the divided aerospace strike was a “mistake” – except it wasn’t, it was an honest gamble that should have worked ... it just didn’t due to spectacularly bad hit LOCATIONS on the Rotislav. By contrast, here are the Warship Record Sheets for HMS Agamemnon and HMS Retribution. Not all the American guns hit, but those that did, hit right where they should have. The cripple results on these British warships are almost COMICALLY surgical. This is just Lady Luck, nothing more.
Here are the WRS for the hapless CPK Rotislav and USS Liberty.  You can see the amount of punishment the British put into this Russian heavy cruiser, but like a stubborn Russian mule she just wouldn’t go down.  The Liberty, meanwhile, is practically unscathed ... we can see the bombers where they were landed in her bays, rearming for a potential second strike.Here are the WRS for the hapless CPK Rotislav and USS Liberty. You can see the amount of punishment the British put into this Russian heavy cruiser, but like a stubborn Russian mule she just wouldn’t go down. The Liberty, meanwhile, is practically unscathed ... we can see the bombers where they were landed in her bays, rearming for a potential second strike.

So what does this shattering result mean?  Well, a major defeat in a 400+ point battle means +/-6 campaign points for the factions involved.  The Americans win +4, the Russians +2, and the British lose -6.  The British campaign tracker now has them at -10, the absolute limit of their government’s commitment to this war.  Suffice it to say that debate rages in the Parliament over whether to sue for peace, and the Prime Minister has been subjected to a Vote of No Confidence, which for the moment he has survived … barely.

Along the Hercules Rim, and specifically at Hawking’s Star … while a MAJOR victory of this scale normally gives the star system to the winner outright, please remember that this game was played as RAID, not an ASSAULT.  In campaign rules, the attacker has to declare they’re launching an assault – where victory points are calculated differently and thus tabletop strategy is decidedly different – THEN win a battle of sufficient size (although it doesn’t necessarily  have to be a MAJOR victory).  This represents operational and logistic planning and support for an actual colonial invasion, like the two Saipan class planetary assault ships mentioned previously (these are basically Endeavor class light fleet carriers, outfitted to carry assault boats, troops, and grav tanks instead of fighters and bombers).  So while the Royal Navy has been decisively crippled at Hawking’s Star, the Americans just don’t have the Marines, engineers, and logistic support to mount an immediate invasion, at least not closer than 12 light-years.

So we’re settling on a compromise.  The Americans now have a FOOTHOLD in the Hawking Star (HR6806 system), not at the terrestrial planet itself, but among the moons of the outer gas giants.  In narrative terms, we could have the Marine assault ship USS Tarawa (part of Task Force Oriskany, upgraded with 12-mag Darkstar Waves) get to HR6806 in less than five days, and put a company or two down on these perimeter outposts.  But a destroyer-sized carrier / assault ship like the Tarawa could never boot enough boots on the ground to take Hawking’s Star colony itself, at least not all in one go.

That said, the Americans are dominating in the Third Hercules War, and the British are clinging to survival by the slenderest of threads.  After victories in the Psi Serpentis War, the Second Hercules War, and most recently in Duchess Annabel’s War, are they finally about to lose one?  One more decent American or Russian victory in the Hawking’s Star colonies will lose the system for the Crown, and force the British to sue for peace.

Battlegroup Al-Fihri

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
4 Comments

Our friend @muakhah has written up backgrounds for the commanders of his Arab League battlegroup, a set of commanders that have definitely been through the “school of hard knocks” when it comes to Darkstar, but has come through with flying colors on their first big victory at the Battle of Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules) – February 2521.

I put the slides together, but the writing is his.  😀

Battlegroup Al-Fihri
Battlegroup Al-Fihri

Arab League Joins the War!

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 5
8 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
18:50 SOL GMT, 02 FEBRUARY 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

The Third Hercules War continues to expand as a new faction joins the conflict, cutting into a star system recently abandoned by the defeated Black Dragons of the Khitan-Tunguska Free State and staking a claim along the frontier boundaries of the Hercules Rim.

After two disastrous raids against naval forces and colonies of the United States and Indian Republic, the Black Dragons have effectively been driven out of the war. Fearing retaliation by strong “Coalition of Eagle” forces (United States, Holy Russian Empire, Indian Republic, Corporate Consortium), the Black Dragons abandoned their Khaizan’s Haven colonies at the remote 14 Hercules star system.

This opened a tremendous opportunity for the Coalition of Eagles. Note that two of their major factions (the United States and the Indian Republic) are on the far spinward (“west”) arc of the Hercules Rim warzone, along the border regions with the neighboring Lyra constellation. Having a foothold at 14 Hercules, however (as remote as this might be) would allow the Coalition to apply pressure from both spinward and coreward sides of the Hercules Rim, squeezing the British and Japanese of the “Renkei Alliance” between them. Until now, the only real coreward foothold the Coalition has had in the Hercules Rim has been the Russian Krasnaya Nadhezda colony at 72 Hercules, which is probably why the British and Japanese have hit it three times.

Needless to say, when Indian and American naval forces drive the Black Dragons out of the conflict, they leap immediately to occupy the abandoned Black Dragon colonies at 14 Hercules. But the American Navy stands 60 light-years away at Vega (Alpha Lyra). Only their “Battlegroup Oriskany” can cover that distance fast enough and after two hard-fought battles their ships remain under repair. Indian Navy forces in the Bhogavati colonies at HD 176051 lack the sheer weight for that kind of power projection as of yet. So it falls to the Russians to exploit this opportunity, sending a heavy cruiser battlegroup out of Krasnaya Nadhezda up to 14 Hercules, built around the Slava class heavy cruiser Bagration.

This is a bold move, to say the least. The 14 Hercules system lies at least 10 light-years deep into the “Third Band,” the sparsely-colonized frontier of Known Space. Navies often have warships out this far, but almost never as heavy as the Bagration. This is one of the largest warships to venture this far from Sol, a clear indication of how much the Holy Russian Empire wants this 14 Hercules system.

They are not alone, however. A new faction has been lurking in the wings – with hidden sensors ships, fighter sweeps, and listening posts scattered across the outer systems of the Hercules Rim. This is the Arab League, and they already have a battlegroup in 14 Hercules as well. Last of the Ten Powers to make the leap into interstellar space, the League was forced to set up most of its initial colonies much further out from Sol than the other powers. Naturally, the league remains ever-keen to cut “a homeward path,” establishing new colonies closer to the Earth to mitigate shipping, transit, and tariff costs from their rich frontier colonies back to their terrestrial home nations. The 14 Hercules system presents just such an opportunity.

In early February 2521, an Arab League battlegroup under Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi meets the Bagration and her escorts in the harsh glare of Hercules 14 Beta, second planet of the system, just 0.3 AU from the orange dwarf star. This is not a raid, but an assault in the heart of the system. The “last men standing” here will raise their flag in 14 Hercules, and claim the system for the foreseeable future.

Holy Russian Empire: @Oriskany
Arab League: @Muakhah

Cruiser Assault into Inner Orbital Zone of Contested System - 14 Hercules (Khaizan’s Haven)

The current disposition of the Third Hercules War.  At upper right, we see where the Black Dragons are OUT of the war, vacating their holdings at 14 Hercules (Khaizan’s Haven).  The system is up from grabs, and the Holy Russian Empire wants to snatch and hold it ... at least long enough for their American and Indian Republic allies to arrive.  But a new faction has been waiting for their moment to jump into this conflict and win a new colony closer to home ... the Arab League.The current disposition of the Third Hercules War. At upper right, we see where the Black Dragons are OUT of the war, vacating their holdings at 14 Hercules (Khaizan’s Haven). The system is up from grabs, and the Holy Russian Empire wants to snatch and hold it ... at least long enough for their American and Indian Republic allies to arrive. But a new faction has been waiting for their moment to jump into this conflict and win a new colony closer to home ... the Arab League.
There is the matchup.  The battle is 214 points.  The Russian battlegroup is fairly straightforward, a gun-heavy cruiser group built around the Slava class heavy Cruiser Bagration, the Kutusov class light cruiser Gavrilov, and the Sovnya class destroyer Pushka.  The Arab League’s battlegroup is, well ... unusual.  But this is an unusual faction.  The flagship is the Almanzor class hybrid cruiser Al Fihri, part light cruiser, part light fleet carrier.  There are two Basra class destroyers (Zarqa and Mersin) and the Khalifa class light carrier Abu Bashir.  Clearly, the Russians have a huge advantage is size, gunnery, and torpedoes, while the League will have to rely on speed, maneuverability, and above all ... their aerospace strike group.There is the matchup. The battle is 214 points. The Russian battlegroup is fairly straightforward, a gun-heavy cruiser group built around the Slava class heavy Cruiser Bagration, the Kutusov class light cruiser Gavrilov, and the Sovnya class destroyer Pushka. The Arab League’s battlegroup is, well ... unusual. But this is an unusual faction. The flagship is the Almanzor class hybrid cruiser Al Fihri, part light cruiser, part light fleet carrier. There are two Basra class destroyers (Zarqa and Mersin) and the Khalifa class light carrier Abu Bashir. Clearly, the Russians have a huge advantage is size, gunnery, and torpedoes, while the League will have to rely on speed, maneuverability, and above all ... their aerospace strike group.
The Russians make a fast approach, pushing 36 kilometers per second and using the planet’s gravity to pull them even faster around the day side.  The League battlegroup is far more cautious, setting a slow approach, vectoring away from the onrushing foe, all while launching “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters and “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers as quickly as possible from the bays of Al-Fihri and Abu Bashir.The Russians make a fast approach, pushing 36 kilometers per second and using the planet’s gravity to pull them even faster around the day side. The League battlegroup is far more cautious, setting a slow approach, vectoring away from the onrushing foe, all while launching “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters and “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers as quickly as possible from the bays of Al-Fihri and Abu Bashir.
The League continues to deny battle, doubling back over their own wakes while the Russians gravity-pull around 14 Hercules Beta, full retros firing to slow to a proper engagement speed.  The Russians want to close the distance as quickly as possible to make the most of their hideously-powerful batteries, but must balance this against the ponderous maneuverability of their heavier vessels, especially the 168,500-ton Bagration.The League continues to deny battle, doubling back over their own wakes while the Russians gravity-pull around 14 Hercules Beta, full retros firing to slow to a proper engagement speed. The Russians want to close the distance as quickly as possible to make the most of their hideously-powerful batteries, but must balance this against the ponderous maneuverability of their heavier vessels, especially the 168,500-ton Bagration.
Forward Russian guns are pounding the destroyer Mersin (Commander Hayder al-Bayati), the range continues to spare the League from the worst of Russian wrath.  Meanwhile, the League’s aerospace group has positioned itself for a massive strike (even if two bombers are knocked down by Russian scout planes), their aerospace torpedoes and missiles combining with the Forward Russian guns are pounding the destroyer Mersin (Commander Hayder al-Bayati), the range continues to spare the League from the worst of Russian wrath. Meanwhile, the League’s aerospace group has positioned itself for a massive strike (even if two bombers are knocked down by Russian scout planes), their aerospace torpedoes and missiles combining with the "Ahrasyfa" (Storm) warheads fired from the light carrier Abu Bashir. Russian mass drivers knock down most of it, and the powerful gravitic shielding of the Bagration absorbs still more. The strike seems like a disappointment, the Bagration shudders but does not fall dark, the fires and decompression damage in her engineering sections significant but manageable. For the League, however, there remains one grim satisfaction ... the Bagration’s aft shields have failed completely.
While the League warships continue to hedge around the edge of the battlespace, the Russians kick their grav rudders hard to port and power straight up out of the planet’s gravity well, lunging at the Tsar’s enemies. Russian torpedo spreads, far more numerous but much slower than the League’s, have begun to land home on the Al Fihri, while gunnery continues to hammer at the Mersin.  Things are bleak for the League here, the bombers and fighters too far from the carriers for immediate recovery, rearming, and launch for a second strike.  Furthermore, just eight torpedoes from the Abu Bashir’s second spread can’t hope to get through the Russian mass drivers to score a hit on the mighty Bagration.  But as fate would have it, the Russians don’t shoot down ALL of the torpedoes (d6 mass driver rolls for the three ships are 1, 1, and 2).  One torpedo gets through ... sailing right through the nonexistent aft shielding, right through the gaping hole left by the previous strike, to detonates INSIDE the ship’s port reactor room.  It’s still not enough to cripple the Bagration right away, but this amazing turn of luck has definitely put her in grievous peril.  While the League warships continue to hedge around the edge of the battlespace, the Russians kick their grav rudders hard to port and power straight up out of the planet’s gravity well, lunging at the Tsar’s enemies. Russian torpedo spreads, far more numerous but much slower than the League’s, have begun to land home on the Al Fihri, while gunnery continues to hammer at the Mersin. Things are bleak for the League here, the bombers and fighters too far from the carriers for immediate recovery, rearming, and launch for a second strike. Furthermore, just eight torpedoes from the Abu Bashir’s second spread can’t hope to get through the Russian mass drivers to score a hit on the mighty Bagration. But as fate would have it, the Russians don’t shoot down ALL of the torpedoes (d6 mass driver rolls for the three ships are 1, 1, and 2). One torpedo gets through ... sailing right through the nonexistent aft shielding, right through the gaping hole left by the previous strike, to detonates INSIDE the ship’s port reactor room. It’s still not enough to cripple the Bagration right away, but this amazing turn of luck has definitely put her in grievous peril.
Perhaps shaken by the blow to his flagship, the Russian commander (Captain K. K. Malinovsky) hesitates (i.e., I generally lose initiative here).  The Bagration dives toward her foes, while the more nimble League ships break to either side to swarm around the Russian behemoth.  The Gavrilov and Pushka bravely stay with their flagship for gunfire support and mass driver defense, the two battlegroups exchanging fire now at just 500 kilometers (3 and 4 hexes).  At this range, the power of Russian rail guns, EPCs, and plasma projectors begins to tell, and the Mersin and Abu Bashir take hideous damage.  In particular, the Abu Bashir’s fo’c’sle is completely burned off, her forward magazines going up, her bridge hit, all forward hangars wiped out, all torpedoes gone, all forward mass driver turrets ripped away.  The core of the ship is torn open, and crew casualties are extreme.  Even the newly landed bombers that just docked in the AFT landing bay are not completely unscathed.  The Abu Bashir HAS to break off, her skipper (Commander Esmat Jazayeri) hoping to stay in the battle area just long enough to rearm the fleet’s surviving bombers for a decisive second strike.Perhaps shaken by the blow to his flagship, the Russian commander (Captain K. K. Malinovsky) hesitates (i.e., I generally lose initiative here). The Bagration dives toward her foes, while the more nimble League ships break to either side to swarm around the Russian behemoth. The Gavrilov and Pushka bravely stay with their flagship for gunfire support and mass driver defense, the two battlegroups exchanging fire now at just 500 kilometers (3 and 4 hexes). At this range, the power of Russian rail guns, EPCs, and plasma projectors begins to tell, and the Mersin and Abu Bashir take hideous damage. In particular, the Abu Bashir’s fo’c’sle is completely burned off, her forward magazines going up, her bridge hit, all forward hangars wiped out, all torpedoes gone, all forward mass driver turrets ripped away. The core of the ship is torn open, and crew casualties are extreme. Even the newly landed bombers that just docked in the AFT landing bay are not completely unscathed. The Abu Bashir HAS to break off, her skipper (Commander Esmat Jazayeri) hoping to stay in the battle area just long enough to rearm the fleet’s surviving bombers for a decisive second strike.
The Battle of 14 Hercules hits a horrific climax.  Like a wounded bear, the Bagration lumbers out of the crossfire, trying to keep her fatally-damaged stern away from enemy guns.  She succeeds in this admirably.  In fact, the only way the League can get to this vulnerability is to send the Basra-class destroyer Zarqa, just 46,700 tons, in a high speed dive straight across the Bagration’s stern.  Distance, speed, and geometry means that she has to do this alone (the Mersin has maneuvering thruster damage), and she has to cut this turn to close that she all but collides with the Russian heavy cruiser, putting a point-blank broadside into the Bagration’s ravaged stern at the suicidal distance of just 50 kilometers.  The Zarqa reels as she makes her approach, the aft guns of the Bagration ... AND the full broadside of the Gavrilov ... putting up a desperate, cruel counterbarrage that all but rips the ship in half.  For the record, in these sixty unbelievable seconds the Zarqa is fighting over  SIX TIMES her weight in warships here, AND shoots down all four Russian scout planes.  But the Zarqa maintains power just long enough to fire her own broadside.  Not only is the Bagration crippled, she actually EXPLODES in a titanic explosion.  The blastwave finishes the Zarqa herself, and rips off almost all the armor from the Gavrilov’s fo’c’sle and starboard bow.  Well over four hundred people on both sides are killed here, but the Zarqa’s captain,  Commander Yasminah al-Qadiri, has - at a stroke – turned the battle for the Arab League.The Battle of 14 Hercules hits a horrific climax. Like a wounded bear, the Bagration lumbers out of the crossfire, trying to keep her fatally-damaged stern away from enemy guns. She succeeds in this admirably. In fact, the only way the League can get to this vulnerability is to send the Basra-class destroyer Zarqa, just 46,700 tons, in a high speed dive straight across the Bagration’s stern. Distance, speed, and geometry means that she has to do this alone (the Mersin has maneuvering thruster damage), and she has to cut this turn to close that she all but collides with the Russian heavy cruiser, putting a point-blank broadside into the Bagration’s ravaged stern at the suicidal distance of just 50 kilometers. The Zarqa reels as she makes her approach, the aft guns of the Bagration ... AND the full broadside of the Gavrilov ... putting up a desperate, cruel counterbarrage that all but rips the ship in half. For the record, in these sixty unbelievable seconds the Zarqa is fighting over SIX TIMES her weight in warships here, AND shoots down all four Russian scout planes. But the Zarqa maintains power just long enough to fire her own broadside. Not only is the Bagration crippled, she actually EXPLODES in a titanic explosion. The blastwave finishes the Zarqa herself, and rips off almost all the armor from the Gavrilov’s fo’c’sle and starboard bow. Well over four hundred people on both sides are killed here, but the Zarqa’s captain, Commander Yasminah al-Qadiri, has - at a stroke – turned the battle for the Arab League.
At last the bloodbath begins to wind down.  The Abu Bashir has remained operational just long enough to launch her six remaining bombers which has put a torpedo strike into the port quarter of the Gavrilov.  The Pushka has also been forced to break off, trying to stay in the battle area just long enough for her torpedoes hit slam home into the stern of the Al Fihri.  While the League flagship has lost her entire port engine, she remains operation and continues scoring the Gavrilov with accurate laser fire.  With the Bagration exploded and the Pusha fleeing for her life, the light cruiser Gavrilov stands alone.  She’s missing huge amounts of armor and has significant systems damage (mass drivers, sensors, maneuvering thrusters) but remains a threat.  But it’s not enough.  The Mersin miraculously survives, which when combined with the Al Fihri and the remaining fighters and bombers (ten fighters are lost, two bombers), means the Arab League has won this fight.At last the bloodbath begins to wind down. The Abu Bashir has remained operational just long enough to launch her six remaining bombers which has put a torpedo strike into the port quarter of the Gavrilov. The Pushka has also been forced to break off, trying to stay in the battle area just long enough for her torpedoes hit slam home into the stern of the Al Fihri. While the League flagship has lost her entire port engine, she remains operation and continues scoring the Gavrilov with accurate laser fire. With the Bagration exploded and the Pusha fleeing for her life, the light cruiser Gavrilov stands alone. She’s missing huge amounts of armor and has significant systems damage (mass drivers, sensors, maneuvering thrusters) but remains a threat. But it’s not enough. The Mersin miraculously survives, which when combined with the Al Fihri and the remaining fighters and bombers (ten fighters are lost, two bombers), means the Arab League has won this fight.

So that’s it.  The score is 90 to 70,  an Arab League victory, and enough to claim the 14 Hercules system as a new colony for the League.  This is the first defeat the Russians have suffered in the Third Hercules War, and means the Coalition of Eagles will not be able to strike easily from both sides of the Hercules Rim.  While the Coalition of Eagles are, on the balance, still winning this war (especially the Russians), the British and Japanese now have a new partner in the Renkei Alliance.  The Bagration is gone forever, and so is the Zarqa (judged a total loss and scuttled after the battle).  Her skipper, Commander Yasminah al-Qadiri, has survived however, and will take command of a new vessel.

Congrats to @Muakhah on his first Darkstar win!

One Faction Blown Clean Out Of The War!

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 5
4 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
09:10 SOL GMT, 18 JANUARY 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

Developments from the Third Hercules War continue at an ever-faster pace. Just over a week ago, the so-called “Black Dragon” rebels of the self-proclaimed Khitan-Tunguska Free State entered the war from their remove base at Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules). They raided the US Navy Base at Port Halsey in the Vega Colony (Alpha Lyra), where their small corvette force was interdicted by the destroyer USS Oriskany. Even while this Black Dragon corvette force was en route, however, a second Black Dragon battlegroup, centered around the Kutusov class light cruiser KTS Chelvnya, had already jumped into a Darkstar wave en route the United Nations mandate in the Redemption (99 Hercules) star system.

There are no American colonies to attack in the Redemption system (in fact this is one of the bones of contention for the Americans in this war), but the Black Dragons were instead targeting potential American allies, the Republic of India and its colony at Svarbageecha (Garden of Heaven), a roughly Venus-sized planet 2.5 AU out from the 99 Her A, the primary F-series main sequence star in this binary system.

India has, on paper, joined the “Coalition of Eagles” with the Americans and Holy Russian Empire against the British and Japanese. However, no military actions have yet been taken by the Indian Navy. That’s about to change as the Black Dragon battlegroup drops out of its Darkstar wave and vectors toward Svarbageecha. Indian naval presence in this system isn’t very powerful, but the two Surat class destroyers and two Asura class frigates available come to general quarters and accelerate into high-speed parabolic orbit of Svarbageecha to intercept the foe.

Why the Black Dragons are attacking the Indians can’t be known for sure. But clearly their campaign against the Americans and Indians (or their entry into the Third Hercules War in general) seems to be designs on the main Indian holding in the region, the Bhogavati Colonies at the HD 176051 system. If India is forced out of the war by the British and the Japanese, and the Black Dragons find themselves on the winning side of the broader conflict, perhaps this “stateless faction” can push for a planet or two in Bhogavati in the peace settlement, thus earning more “bedrock real estate” along the outer Second Band and Frontier regions of Known Space.

Black Dragons: @Oriskany
Indian Republic: @Damon

Destroyer Interdiction of Cruiser Raid – Svarbageecha Colony, Redemption (99 Hercules) System

The current state of the Third Hercules War.  Again, the Black Dragons, launching sorties out of the “Khaizan’s Haven” holdings at 14 Hercules (“1”) have already failed in a long-range raid against the Americans at the Alpha Lyra colony (Vega, far left).  Now, just eight days later, another light cruiser battlegroup has engaged against the Indian Republic at the Redemption UN Mandate (99 Hercules, “2”).  It is doubtful whether this second Black Dragon battlegroup even knows what happened at Vega, given the distance between the two systems (28 light-years) and the fact that this second group just spent 21 days in a Darkstar wave en route from 14 Hercules.  The current state of the Third Hercules War. Again, the Black Dragons, launching sorties out of the “Khaizan’s Haven” holdings at 14 Hercules (“1”) have already failed in a long-range raid against the Americans at the Alpha Lyra colony (Vega, far left). Now, just eight days later, another light cruiser battlegroup has engaged against the Indian Republic at the Redemption UN Mandate (99 Hercules, “2”). It is doubtful whether this second Black Dragon battlegroup even knows what happened at Vega, given the distance between the two systems (28 light-years) and the fact that this second group just spent 21 days in a Darkstar wave en route from 14 Hercules.
Here is the matchup.  We have two Indian Surat-class destroyers and two Asura-class frigates up against a Kutusov-class light cruiser, a Sovnya class destroyer, and a K-56 class torpedo corvette.  These three ex-Russian ships and their combat capabilities will be well-known to those who follow Darkstar, but these Indian Republic ships haven’t been on the table since late 2012 (IK Pegasi War).  Let’s see how they do!  This is a 126-point battle, classified as a “Small Engagement” on the Darkstar Campaign Tables.Here is the matchup. We have two Indian Surat-class destroyers and two Asura-class frigates up against a Kutusov-class light cruiser, a Sovnya class destroyer, and a K-56 class torpedo corvette. These three ex-Russian ships and their combat capabilities will be well-known to those who follow Darkstar, but these Indian Republic ships haven’t been on the table since late 2012 (IK Pegasi War). Let’s see how they do! This is a 126-point battle, classified as a “Small Engagement” on the Darkstar Campaign Tables.
Both battlegroups make their approach.  Everyone’s ships are drifting toward he planet slightly (normal terrestrial gravity rules apply).  The laser-heavy Indian Navy ships are setting up for a port broadside, while the Black Dragons hope to knock the odds one step in their favor with a wave of 28 P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes.  Hence they make sure to point directly at the enemy, so both port and starboard bow torpedo racks (and associated targeting systems) can come to bear.  The Indians open fire and score no hits (range is still 4500 kilometers at this point), whereas the Black Dragons have no weapons that can reach at all.Both battlegroups make their approach. Everyone’s ships are drifting toward he planet slightly (normal terrestrial gravity rules apply). The laser-heavy Indian Navy ships are setting up for a port broadside, while the Black Dragons hope to knock the odds one step in their favor with a wave of 28 P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes. Hence they make sure to point directly at the enemy, so both port and starboard bow torpedo racks (and associated targeting systems) can come to bear. The Indians open fire and score no hits (range is still 4500 kilometers at this point), whereas the Black Dragons have no weapons that can reach at all.
Still being pulled toward the upper atmosphere of Svarbageecha, the Black Dragons turn to port, maintaining torpedo arcs on the Indian warships as they turn lard to starboard, vectoring out of the planet’s immediate gravity well.  Their destroyers have lost their broadsides, while the swifter Asura-class frigates maneuver to maintain full gunnery batteries on the approaching foe.  Much closer now, the two sides finally start landing blows on each other (Black Dragon rail guns and EPCs and longer-ranged Indian lasers), the destroyers Nakul and Dalakhai taking the worst of it.  Still being pulled toward the upper atmosphere of Svarbageecha, the Black Dragons turn to port, maintaining torpedo arcs on the Indian warships as they turn lard to starboard, vectoring out of the planet’s immediate gravity well. Their destroyers have lost their broadsides, while the swifter Asura-class frigates maneuver to maintain full gunnery batteries on the approaching foe. Much closer now, the two sides finally start landing blows on each other (Black Dragon rail guns and EPCs and longer-ranged Indian lasers), the destroyers Nakul and Dalakhai taking the worst of it.
At last the Black Dragon torpedo wave hits, heavily damaged but failing to cripple the Indian destroyer Nakul.  This is due in no small part to excellent Indian mass driver point-defense guns, which shot down the vast majority of the Black Dragon torpedoes.  The Black Dragons have become perhaps a little too aggressive here, with the cruiser Chelvnya lunging at the Indians too soon, the Indians maneuvering clear, then the destroyer Dalakhai pivoting to put a close-range broadside against the Indians.  All the while, the torpedo corvette KT-234 maneuvers to a safe distance to continue showering the Indians with torpedo volleys.  The problem is that the Black Dragons are now badly divided, and while the Dalakhai indeed as a broadside on Nakul, every Indian warship also has a broadside on her.  The Nakul and Dalakhai are both hideously damaged, yet again ... neither warship is crippled.  At last the Black Dragon torpedo wave hits, heavily damaged but failing to cripple the Indian destroyer Nakul. This is due in no small part to excellent Indian mass driver point-defense guns, which shot down the vast majority of the Black Dragon torpedoes. The Black Dragons have become perhaps a little too aggressive here, with the cruiser Chelvnya lunging at the Indians too soon, the Indians maneuvering clear, then the destroyer Dalakhai pivoting to put a close-range broadside against the Indians. All the while, the torpedo corvette KT-234 maneuvers to a safe distance to continue showering the Indians with torpedo volleys. The problem is that the Black Dragons are now badly divided, and while the Dalakhai indeed as a broadside on Nakul, every Indian warship also has a broadside on her. The Nakul and Dalakhai are both hideously damaged, yet again ... neither warship is crippled.
In view of heavy damage to the Dalakhai, the Black Dragons ELECT to get her clear of the battle area.  She accelerates on a 150 heading off the table.  She is still operational and not forced to “break off” – so there are no victory points for this to the Indian player.  However, it does mean that the Dalakhai’s torpedoes, rail guns, and plasma projectors are now off the table as well.  The Chelvnya dives at the Indians, who try to form something of a hedgehog against the incoming second wave of Black Dragon torpedoes.  The Nakul, with badly-damaged maneuvering thrusters, struggles to make the required turns.  A small Indian torpedo wave heads toward the KT-234.  There are only a few torpedoes there, but even one hit is enough to heavily damage this small torpedo corvette.  Meanwhile, the rapidly-imploding dogfight positively erupts in a series of point-blank broadsides.  The slower Chelvnya has been outmaneuvered, and slashing Indian laser hits soon have her stern torn open and her engines and reactors powered down.  Crippled and afire, she careens off the table, dead in space.  Point-blank Black Dragon rail guns and EPCs, however, have burned open the Nakul to such an extent that the captain of this valiant destroyer is finally compelled to break off the action.In view of heavy damage to the Dalakhai, the Black Dragons ELECT to get her clear of the battle area. She accelerates on a 150 heading off the table. She is still operational and not forced to “break off” – so there are no victory points for this to the Indian player. However, it does mean that the Dalakhai’s torpedoes, rail guns, and plasma projectors are now off the table as well. The Chelvnya dives at the Indians, who try to form something of a hedgehog against the incoming second wave of Black Dragon torpedoes. The Nakul, with badly-damaged maneuvering thrusters, struggles to make the required turns. A small Indian torpedo wave heads toward the KT-234. There are only a few torpedoes there, but even one hit is enough to heavily damage this small torpedo corvette. Meanwhile, the rapidly-imploding dogfight positively erupts in a series of point-blank broadsides. The slower Chelvnya has been outmaneuvered, and slashing Indian laser hits soon have her stern torn open and her engines and reactors powered down. Crippled and afire, she careens off the table, dead in space. Point-blank Black Dragon rail guns and EPCs, however, have burned open the Nakul to such an extent that the captain of this valiant destroyer is finally compelled to break off the action.
The Black Dragons are obviously, losing this battle.  At the moment they are losing by 48 points, just enough to keep this as a “minor Indian victory” on the campaign tables (minor vs. major victory is determined by a 40% victory margin based off the beginning point levels of the game).  Once the Indian victory margin goes to +50 points, that’s 40% of the 126 beginning total.  The KT-234, the last Black Dragon ship on the table, pivots hard to escape.  HOWEVER, she’s been damaged by Indian fire last turn, and as fate would have it, one of the systems hit on the tiny corvette is the maneuvering thrusters.  KT-234 can turn to get off the table, she can accelerate to get off the table, but right now she can’t do BOTH.  She throws her grav rudder hard to starboard and makes best speed out of the battle area, but she is ONE HEX shy of actually getting off the table.  The Indians thus get one more crack at her.  The KT-234 also throws a last spread of torpedoes at the Nakul ... if they can CRIPPLE her rather than DRIVE HER OFF, they get “full points” for the destroyer and will keep this a minor victory even if the KT-234 is crippled.  As it turns out, both Black Dragon hopes fail.  The Nakul and Katar shoot down ALL the Black Dragon torpedoes (even with the Nakul’s sensor damage), while the Ratha and Shalya land long-range laser fire through KT-234’s shields.  The KT-234 is crippled, the Nakul is not (only half points for forcing a break-off), so the final score is 88 to 23, a +65 Indian win that now counts as a Major Victory.The Black Dragons are obviously, losing this battle. At the moment they are losing by 48 points, just enough to keep this as a “minor Indian victory” on the campaign tables (minor vs. major victory is determined by a 40% victory margin based off the beginning point levels of the game). Once the Indian victory margin goes to +50 points, that’s 40% of the 126 beginning total. The KT-234, the last Black Dragon ship on the table, pivots hard to escape. HOWEVER, she’s been damaged by Indian fire last turn, and as fate would have it, one of the systems hit on the tiny corvette is the maneuvering thrusters. KT-234 can turn to get off the table, she can accelerate to get off the table, but right now she can’t do BOTH. She throws her grav rudder hard to starboard and makes best speed out of the battle area, but she is ONE HEX shy of actually getting off the table. The Indians thus get one more crack at her. The KT-234 also throws a last spread of torpedoes at the Nakul ... if they can CRIPPLE her rather than DRIVE HER OFF, they get “full points” for the destroyer and will keep this a minor victory even if the KT-234 is crippled. As it turns out, both Black Dragon hopes fail. The Nakul and Katar shoot down ALL the Black Dragon torpedoes (even with the Nakul’s sensor damage), while the Ratha and Shalya land long-range laser fire through KT-234’s shields. The KT-234 is crippled, the Nakul is not (only half points for forcing a break-off), so the final score is 88 to 23, a +65 Indian win that now counts as a Major Victory.
And that’s it.  Indeed that maneuvering thruster aboard KT-234 has become a literal And that’s it. Indeed that maneuvering thruster aboard KT-234 has become a literal "horseshoe nail" that brought down a nation, at least in regards to the Third Hercules War. A MAJOR VICTORY on a Small Engagement is worth +4 campaign points. This, combined with the +2 campaign point victory won by the Americans last week, puts the Black Dragons at -6. Note that this EXCEEDS their “political commitment” (bottom row) for this war, limited to +/- 5. Therefore, the Black Dragons DROP OUT OF THE WAR. And the British and Japanese have LOST this unlikely, apparently unreliable, ally in the Third Hercules War. The Indians, meanwhile, may dropout of the war for al altogether different reason, they have tied their +/-4 political commitment (yes, different factions have different “levels of commitment” to any given conflict). With this one battle, have they met their government’s political and diplomatic goals for involvement in this war? They have it TIED, not EXCEEDED, so we may let them stay in for now (also, Damon might want to keep “working” on these new warships / captains / crews of his). But suffice it to say that the Indian Republic has landed a very heavy blow here, won huge prestige in the UN Mandate of 99 Hercules, knocked one enemy faction clean out of the war, and may be on the brink of receiving “ceasefire orders” as their government wins concessions from either the UN, their British foes, or their American allies.

So will another faction join the war in place of the Black Dragons?  We have interest from other players, perhaps the Arab League may swoop in and join the British and Japanese of the Renkei Alliance, depending on what the British and Japanese offer them for their help.  As Spock says in Star Trek VI … “In that case, Mister Chekov, it resides in the purview of the diplomats.

Suffice it to say a major shakeup is in the works for the Third Hercules War.

New Faction Raids American Base at Alpha Lyra

Tutoring 3
Skill 4
Idea 4
4 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
15:45 SOL GMT, 10 JANUARY 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

Reports continue to come in from the expanding Third Hercules War, where a new faction seems to have joined the rapidly-worsening conflict. On January 10, a light raiding force of the so-called “Black Dragons” of the self-proclaimed Khitan-Tunguska Free State engaged American forces in the extreme outer reaches of the Vega (Alpha Lyra) star system. Vega is the seat of the Jamison Colonies, a major United States holding in the neighboring Lyra constellation. As the Hercules War continues to heat up, American involvement in the conflict has been based solely out the Jamison Colonies, particularly the Port Halsey naval base.

The Americans have been moderately engaged in several confirmed battles thus far, both in the Russian-held Kransaya Nadhezda (Red Hope) colonies in the 72 Hercules system. The Americans are allied with the Holy Russian Empire in this conflict, having signed the so-called “Coalition of Eagles” accords at the Kayashenko Colony in the UN-chartered “Redemption” system last fall. The most recent of these battles saw the successful repulse of a British invasion effort at Krasnaya Nadhezda. One American warship, the destroyer USS Oriskany, was moderately damaged in this exchange, and set a fast magnitude 12 Darkstar wave back to Port Halsey after the engagement.

The Oriskany required six days of repair after returning (covering the 30 light-years from 72 Hercules in just 10 days). Repairs were completed on January 6, at which time Oriskany joined arriving units of “Task Force Liberty” carrier group, now building up at Alpha Lyra for several weeks.

On January 10, however, American aerospace patrols detected a force of Khitan-Tunguska torpedo corvettes in the extreme outer reaches of Alpha Lyra’s protoplanetary debris disk (Kuiper Belt). These “Black Dragon” rebels have been fighting an extremely brutal war against the Panasian Union and Holy Russian Empire for almost nine years now, and most analysts agree that the Black Dragons see any allies of the Holy Russian Empire as enemies. The Americans also fought two bitter campaigns against the Black Dragons in the recent Xi Scorpio and Scorpion’s Tail Wars, so this torpedo corvette squadron was immediately regarded as a threat.

The USS Oriskany (DSGN-797) was dispatched with orders to find and eliminate this squadron. With her enhanced electronic warfare, ion engine thrust, and Darkstar FTL drives, the Oriskany seemed to be the Navy’s best chance of finding these small, elusive ships as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, the rest of Task Force Oriskany (destroyers USS Valley Forge, Princeton, light carrier Tarawa, and corvette Daggerfish) were still at 72 Hercules, so the Oriskany would have to tackle this mission alone.

Destroyer Sweep vs. Torpedo Corvette Hunter-Killers - Outer Debris Belt, Alpha Lyra (Vega)

The current state of the Third Hercules War.  We can see where most of the recent fighting has been taking place (“1”) at the embattled Russian colony at Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules).  The Black Dragons that launched this incursion are thought to have come from Khaizan’s Haven at 14 Hercules (“2”), a staggering 60 light-years from the American base at Alpha Lyra (“3”).  Even with their enhanced 11th-magnitude Darkstar drives, this would have taken at least a month.The current state of the Third Hercules War. We can see where most of the recent fighting has been taking place (“1”) at the embattled Russian colony at Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules). The Black Dragons that launched this incursion are thought to have come from Khaizan’s Haven at 14 Hercules (“2”), a staggering 60 light-years from the American base at Alpha Lyra (“3”). Even with their enhanced 11th-magnitude Darkstar drives, this would have taken at least a month.
The matchup.  Lately we’ve been working on a lot of playtesting for the new pricing model on the corvettes, making their cost in scenario points commensurate with their abilities on the table (especially in large numbers).  I’m satisfied the playtesting has confirmed the new models as “fair” – so this battle will be “canon” in the timeline of the Third Hercules War.  These are K-56 class torpedo corvettes, originally built for the Holy Russian Empire.  Unfortunately, hundreds of Russian and Panasian warships were lost to the Khitan-Tunguska Free State when the Black Dragon revolt started in 2512.  When you’re up against the Black Dragons, you’re usually up against Russian- or Chinese-built warships, often heavily modified or upgraded.The matchup. Lately we’ve been working on a lot of playtesting for the new pricing model on the corvettes, making their cost in scenario points commensurate with their abilities on the table (especially in large numbers). I’m satisfied the playtesting has confirmed the new models as “fair” – so this battle will be “canon” in the timeline of the Third Hercules War. These are K-56 class torpedo corvettes, originally built for the Holy Russian Empire. Unfortunately, hundreds of Russian and Panasian warships were lost to the Khitan-Tunguska Free State when the Black Dragon revolt started in 2512. When you’re up against the Black Dragons, you’re usually up against Russian- or Chinese-built warships, often heavily modified or upgraded.
The Oriskany drops out of a short, 4th-mag wave (x8 c) and soon detects the Black Dragon corvettes some 4.5 AU from her position.  She lines up a second 1st-mag wave (the speed of light, very slow, very accurate, very hard to detect) and makes a second hop to engagement range.  By how the Black Dragons have detected USS Oriskany’s approach as well, and pivot to engage.  The battlespace is near a tiny dwarf planet and protoplanetary debris field, which the Black Dragons use to screen their initial approach.  The Oriskany wins initiative, and vectors her approach to use the Black Dragons’ cover against them.  Note the trailing three corvettes cannot see her, and so cannot launch torpedoes.   The Oriskany launches Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes at the lead corvettes, as well as her two E/S-101 Hawkeye class scouts.The Oriskany drops out of a short, 4th-mag wave (x8 c) and soon detects the Black Dragon corvettes some 4.5 AU from her position. She lines up a second 1st-mag wave (the speed of light, very slow, very accurate, very hard to detect) and makes a second hop to engagement range. By how the Black Dragons have detected USS Oriskany’s approach as well, and pivot to engage. The battlespace is near a tiny dwarf planet and protoplanetary debris field, which the Black Dragons use to screen their initial approach. The Oriskany wins initiative, and vectors her approach to use the Black Dragons’ cover against them. Note the trailing three corvettes cannot see her, and so cannot launch torpedoes. The Oriskany launches Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes at the lead corvettes, as well as her two E/S-101 Hawkeye class scouts.
The Oriskany rushes the corvettes, but the Black Dragons anticipate the move.  Although the Oriskany is able to use the asteroid in Hex 1115 to screen her stern, the corvette wolf pack rushes her port bow, clearly hoping to target her bridge and forward magazines.  No less than 36 P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) warheads make their attack.  Seven are shot down by Oriskany’s point-defense guns, one more by a scout.  But the Oriskany’s gravitic shielding has been massively upgraded, as has her electronic warfare suites (in game terms she has an 8 shielding vs. torpedoes).  Only two P-500s actually hit the ship, knocking out part of Oriskany’s sensor suite and maneuvering thrusters.  Plasma guns (10kg caliber) open fire as well, doing even more damage than the torpedoes at this close range.  The Oriskany has now lost her portside torpedo tubes.  The Black Dragons, meanwhile, shoot down all of Oriskany’s torpedoes.  Looks like she’ll have to do this the old fashioned way!  A port broadside of 6-MgKv lasers and 5-GW rail guns cripples the KT-202 and KT-203, while KT-201 has her fo’c’sle all but torn off, losing both port and starboard torpedo tunes, her plasma “deck gun”, and forward maneuvering thrusters.  The Oriskany rushes the corvettes, but the Black Dragons anticipate the move. Although the Oriskany is able to use the asteroid in Hex 1115 to screen her stern, the corvette wolf pack rushes her port bow, clearly hoping to target her bridge and forward magazines. No less than 36 P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) warheads make their attack. Seven are shot down by Oriskany’s point-defense guns, one more by a scout. But the Oriskany’s gravitic shielding has been massively upgraded, as has her electronic warfare suites (in game terms she has an 8 shielding vs. torpedoes). Only two P-500s actually hit the ship, knocking out part of Oriskany’s sensor suite and maneuvering thrusters. Plasma guns (10kg caliber) open fire as well, doing even more damage than the torpedoes at this close range. The Oriskany has now lost her portside torpedo tubes. The Black Dragons, meanwhile, shoot down all of Oriskany’s torpedoes. Looks like she’ll have to do this the old fashioned way! A port broadside of 6-MgKv lasers and 5-GW rail guns cripples the KT-202 and KT-203, while KT-201 has her fo’c’sle all but torn off, losing both port and starboard torpedo tunes, her plasma “deck gun”, and forward maneuvering thrusters.
With her maneuverability reduced, Oriskany slows to 15 kilometers per second and jackknifes to starboard, coming to 090 and using another asteroid field to screen her badly-damaged port bow.  The Black Dragons swarm in behind her, pelting her stern with (KT-201 was able to launch her twelve P-500s just moments before these mounts were destroyed by the Oriskany’s broadside).  Six are shot down, the reduced performance clearly due to the Oriskany’s damaged sensor suite.  However, the “Lady O” has always been a lucky ship, and not one Black Dragon torpedo gets through the enhanced shielding and electronic warfare.  Only one plasma gun hits, and even this is a glancing burn off the port quarter.  This was seriously good luck for the Lady O, she very well could have been crippled here.  However, only her aft weapons can now hit, and all guns fire on K-204.  Hits are scored on the magazine, forward weapons, bridge ... just hat fast the corvette is crippled.     With her maneuverability reduced, Oriskany slows to 15 kilometers per second and jackknifes to starboard, coming to 090 and using another asteroid field to screen her badly-damaged port bow. The Black Dragons swarm in behind her, pelting her stern with (KT-201 was able to launch her twelve P-500s just moments before these mounts were destroyed by the Oriskany’s broadside). Six are shot down, the reduced performance clearly due to the Oriskany’s damaged sensor suite. However, the “Lady O” has always been a lucky ship, and not one Black Dragon torpedo gets through the enhanced shielding and electronic warfare. Only one plasma gun hits, and even this is a glancing burn off the port quarter. This was seriously good luck for the Lady O, she very well could have been crippled here. However, only her aft weapons can now hit, and all guns fire on K-204. Hits are scored on the magazine, forward weapons, bridge ... just hat fast the corvette is crippled.
The Oriskany finally wins initiative.  As the three surviving Black Dragon corvettes regroup and tuck behind another asteroid, the Oriskany decelerates to 12 kilometers per second, makes three turns (remember her enhanced thrust of 7) and sets up a broadside along her starboard bow.  She has no choice has to, she was unable to fire any torpedoes last turn (they’re all mounted forward and the enemy corvettes were all behind her) and she's lost half her launchers anyway.  Twenty-four P-500s rush at her stern, seven are shot down.  The scouts can't help, since any American scouts would be ruthlessly shot down by Black Dragon point defense guns who have no American torpedoes to shoot at.  Two torpedoes hit, damaging the starboard engine and blinding more of Oriskany’s sensors.  Plasma hits are also scored on Oriskany’s starboard bow, but the armor on this facing is undamaged and Oriskany shrugs off the hits.  The Oriskany’s guns reply, putting three hits on KT-205, crippling her.  Four hits land on KT-206, crippling her as well.  One hit strikes the previously-mauled KT-201, finishing this last Black Dragon corvette (previously damaged with a hit on the bridge).  The Oriskany is technically at a 6+ to lose power (one hit on the starboard engine) so the Black Dragons COULD tie the game here, but they 2 (they needed a 6).  The Lady O's luck has held once again.The Oriskany finally wins initiative. As the three surviving Black Dragon corvettes regroup and tuck behind another asteroid, the Oriskany decelerates to 12 kilometers per second, makes three turns (remember her enhanced thrust of 7) and sets up a broadside along her starboard bow. She has no choice has to, she was unable to fire any torpedoes last turn (they’re all mounted forward and the enemy corvettes were all behind her) and she's lost half her launchers anyway. Twenty-four P-500s rush at her stern, seven are shot down. The scouts can't help, since any American scouts would be ruthlessly shot down by Black Dragon point defense guns who have no American torpedoes to shoot at. Two torpedoes hit, damaging the starboard engine and blinding more of Oriskany’s sensors. Plasma hits are also scored on Oriskany’s starboard bow, but the armor on this facing is undamaged and Oriskany shrugs off the hits. The Oriskany’s guns reply, putting three hits on KT-205, crippling her. Four hits land on KT-206, crippling her as well. One hit strikes the previously-mauled KT-201, finishing this last Black Dragon corvette (previously damaged with a hit on the bridge). The Oriskany is technically at a 6+ to lose power (one hit on the starboard engine) so the Black Dragons COULD tie the game here, but they 2 (they needed a 6). The Lady O's luck has held once again.
Technically this would be counted as a 108-0 Major American Victory (raid victory conditions, all six 18-point corvettes crippled).  But the Oriskany is heavy mauled and was honestly very lucky on Turn 3, when those P-500 torpedoes really could have crippled her with hard hits astern.  So for campaign purposes it will count as a minor victory on a small battle (+/-2 campaign points for the Americans and Black Dragons).   KT-201, 203, and 205 are lost, scuttled before capture by Oriskany's Marine platoon.  KT-202, 204, 206 will be recovered and repaired.  The Oriskany will require 9 days in port before she is fully spaceworthy again.  Technically this would be counted as a 108-0 Major American Victory (raid victory conditions, all six 18-point corvettes crippled). But the Oriskany is heavy mauled and was honestly very lucky on Turn 3, when those P-500 torpedoes really could have crippled her with hard hits astern. So for campaign purposes it will count as a minor victory on a small battle (+/-2 campaign points for the Americans and Black Dragons). KT-201, 203, and 205 are lost, scuttled before capture by Oriskany's Marine platoon. KT-202, 204, 206 will be recovered and repaired. The Oriskany will require 9 days in port before she is fully spaceworthy again.

PLAYTESTING: ARE CORVETTES OVERPOWERED IN DARKSTAR?

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 5
2 Comments

A week ago we had a great game of Darkstar between @muakhah  and @elessar2590 , where we had a Prussian force that included a wolf pack of five Type XII Umfangangriffboote (U-boats, or perimeter attack boats).  The game was a Prussian victory and a pretty handy one at that.  The Prussian player was more experienced and the Arab League player had some very bad dice rolls, but despite this I started to worry that these torpedo corvettes were overpowered, especially in large numbers.

Well, I did NOT want to change the “large numbers” or the “wolf pack” tactics.  With the American Mako class, the Russian K-56 class, and the Prussian Type XII U-boats, we’re clearly going for a “submarine” motif here.  Moreover, I WANT them to be a very dangerous threat, especially in large wolfpacks.

So if they’re not overpowered, are they underpriced?

Counting the amount of armor boxes a corvette has compared to a frigate (the next larger ship type), the number of internal component boxes, I started to feel that the base cost for a corvette of 10 was too low.  This disparity becomes more pronounced when one considers the curves in the power-weight ratios (smaller ships average more power per ton), making them much better at carrying energy-based weapons like lasers, syglex emitters, and EPCs rather than weight-heavy systems like rail guns and plasma projectors.  It also allows much better shielding (shielding arrays weigh about the same regardless of their power, but cost much more power for better systems), to say nothing of targeting systems and CICs (combat information centers).

Long story short, corvettes seem to have “hacked the math” by mounting +2 CICs, very high shielding for their hull size, and deadly-accurate and long-ranged weapons.  They punch far above their weight of just 10 points, +20% for an “advanced” design (additional bonus to starting available power).

I went ahead and cranked their cost up to 15.  The +20% for advanced power plants thus takes them to 18.  With a cost of 18 rather than 12, the Prussians could have only afforded four Type XIIs in that wolf pack instead of five.

Would that have made a difference?  To test the new pricing model, I put six re-priced Type XIIs (18 x 6 = 108) up against the USS Oriskany (106 points), +2 additional scouts = 108 points.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the bump in price is not quite enough.  I think corvettes as a class are smidge too cheap, hence the increase to base 15 rather then 10, but also the +2 CICs those Type XIIs were carrying were another critical factor.  But for now I’ll just test the Type XIIs at 18 points each and see where that takes us.

So here’s the match-up.  Like I said, I have a feeling the “fix” here isn’t just raising the price on the corvette, but also any ship that carries a +2 or +3 CIC (we’ve run across this before with the uber-advanced pirates and corporate vessels with +3 CICs.  The rate of increase will be higher for smaller ships than larger ones, again ... because CICs are a power-heavy system and smaller ships have an easier time with surplus power (compared to their mass) than larger, heavier ships. So here’s the match-up. Like I said, I have a feeling the “fix” here isn’t just raising the price on the corvette, but also any ship that carries a +2 or +3 CIC (we’ve run across this before with the uber-advanced pirates and corporate vessels with +3 CICs. The rate of increase will be higher for smaller ships than larger ones, again ... because CICs are a power-heavy system and smaller ships have an easier time with surplus power (compared to their mass) than larger, heavier ships.
Oriskany wins initiative, and sets course, accounting for gravity, to split the U-boat's forward torpedo arc.  She sets approach velocity at 15 (45 kilometers a second), reducing to 8 with her upgraded thrust, accounting for the pull of that small moon.  Note that half the U-boats (who had to move first) can now only fire starboard bow torpedo tubes.  All U-boats fire deck lasers as 18 hexes (3240 km).  All miss.  Oriskany scores one 6-MgKv hit on U-101’s starboard bow (gunnery impact upgrade).Oriskany wins initiative, and sets course, accounting for gravity, to split the U-boat's forward torpedo arc. She sets approach velocity at 15 (45 kilometers a second), reducing to 8 with her upgraded thrust, accounting for the pull of that small moon. Note that half the U-boats (who had to move first) can now only fire starboard bow torpedo tubes. All U-boats fire deck lasers as 18 hexes (3240 km). All miss. Oriskany scores one 6-MgKv hit on U-101’s starboard bow (gunnery impact upgrade).
Oriskany wins initiative again.   The U-boats go for the moon’s atmosphere, pointing bow tubes in all directions and trying to use the moon’s mass to screen their sterns.  Oriskany also decels again to five (15 kps) and dives toward moon, pulling out to use the moon’s curvature to screen from lasers of back U-boats (blue line of fire cannot shoot hrough Hexes 3021 and 3220) and also screening her stern from incoming torpedoes (Hex 2822).  She has also carefully placed herself at range 6 to make most of her gunnery impact upgrade. None of it helps.  The Oriskany rolls 5 (+3, for CiC plus x2 EW bonuses) on mass drivers, scouts shoot down one more. That only accounts for nine torpedoes out of 36, so she’s hit by 27, five of which get through her double-upgraded shields and electronic warfare suites.  Five Class IV torpedoes hit on her port quarter, all but blowing the back third of the ship clean off the hull.  First playtest is an epic fail, the Oriskany is crippled without crippling (or even seriously damaging) a single U-boat.Oriskany wins initiative again. The U-boats go for the moon’s atmosphere, pointing bow tubes in all directions and trying to use the moon’s mass to screen their sterns. Oriskany also decels again to five (15 kps) and dives toward moon, pulling out to use the moon’s curvature to screen from lasers of back U-boats (blue line of fire cannot shoot hrough Hexes 3021 and 3220) and also screening her stern from incoming torpedoes (Hex 2822). She has also carefully placed herself at range 6 to make most of her gunnery impact upgrade. None of it helps. The Oriskany rolls 5 (+3, for CiC plus x2 EW bonuses) on mass drivers, scouts shoot down one more. That only accounts for nine torpedoes out of 36, so she’s hit by 27, five of which get through her double-upgraded shields and electronic warfare suites. Five Class IV torpedoes hit on her port quarter, all but blowing the back third of the ship clean off the hull. First playtest is an epic fail, the Oriskany is crippled without crippling (or even seriously damaging) a single U-boat.
Try two.  This time the Oriskany breaks AWAY from the moon.  Prussians dive toward the moon, and set up Try two. This time the Oriskany breaks AWAY from the moon. Prussians dive toward the moon, and set up "hedgehog" with forward torpedo tubes in all likely directions. The Oriskany continues backing up, staying out of range of torpedoes, while keeping her own torpedo tubes toward the enemy. The first wave of Prussian torpedoes will not hit his turn, and the Oriskany’s scouts manage to knock one down (her mass drivers cannot hit those torpedoes yet). The Oriskany Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes go in, one gets through mass drivers and hits the shields. U-101 is crippled. Oriskany takes one laser hit forward. Oriskany hits U-102 with two rail guns and one laser, cripples maneuvering thrusters and all forward weapons (including all torpedoes).
Oriskany wins initiative AGAIN (yes, third tie breaker, but Oriskany has thrust 7 + 2 tactical initiative  = d6+9, Prussians have thrust 8 = d6+8).  Prussians continue to slipstream along the moon's atmo, protecting their sterns.  Oriskany again jack-knifes back away from Prussian torpedoes, but this time must take at least 24 of them (11 went dark with loss of U-101).  Seven are shot down by Oriskany’s point defense guns, the scouts miss this time.  Seventeen torpedoes hit he shields, four get through, straight up the stern.  The Oriskany's cripple number is now 4+, Prussians roll a 3, so the Oriskany remains active ... barely.  One of Oriskany's torpedoes gets through and hits U-103 (U-102 has no torpedoes to launch).  One more rail gun hit from Oriskany cripples U-103.  Rest of Oriskany’s is targeted on the damaged U-102, which loses mass drivers and Port Bow shields.  Prussian lasers (only four left) miss.Oriskany wins initiative AGAIN (yes, third tie breaker, but Oriskany has thrust 7 + 2 tactical initiative = d6+9, Prussians have thrust 8 = d6+8). Prussians continue to slipstream along the moon's atmo, protecting their sterns. Oriskany again jack-knifes back away from Prussian torpedoes, but this time must take at least 24 of them (11 went dark with loss of U-101). Seven are shot down by Oriskany’s point defense guns, the scouts miss this time. Seventeen torpedoes hit he shields, four get through, straight up the stern. The Oriskany's cripple number is now 4+, Prussians roll a 3, so the Oriskany remains active ... barely. One of Oriskany's torpedoes gets through and hits U-103 (U-102 has no torpedoes to launch). One more rail gun hit from Oriskany cripples U-103. Rest of Oriskany’s is targeted on the damaged U-102, which loses mass drivers and Port Bow shields. Prussian lasers (only four left) miss.
Oriskany finally loses initiative.  The thus accelerates and performs an S-turn to port and starboard to back off and break off the battle.  Some torpedoes will still catch her.  Some will not.  Prussians smell blood in the water and finally accelerate away from the moon in a bod to put deck lasers into the Oriskany’s starboard quarter.  Five torpedoes are shot down, one hits and gets through the shields, but no additional engine compartments are hit (the hit location is just very lucky for the Oriskany here).  One Oriskany torpedo is shot down, one misses, and one hits, crippling the U-104.  The Prussian lasers miss.  Oriskany’s broadside (minus aft laser mount, lost in a pervious torpedo hit) mostly misses, scoring just two hits on the U-102.  This hits the bridge and starboard magazine, but fails to cripple the corvette.  Prussians then roll a 99 on the percentile breakoff check (a 01-45 would have meant the ship was compelled to break off the action, giving he Oriskany half points for driving her off).  But with a 99, this must be the hardest U-boat crew in the Kriegsmarine!   On Turn 05 - Oriskany hauls ass off the table.  If this was a raid, it's a 54-0 victory for the Americans.  If this was an assault, this is a 54-4 victory for the Prussians.  The Oriskany was also insanely lucky a few times on this one.Oriskany finally loses initiative. The thus accelerates and performs an S-turn to port and starboard to back off and break off the battle. Some torpedoes will still catch her. Some will not. Prussians smell blood in the water and finally accelerate away from the moon in a bod to put deck lasers into the Oriskany’s starboard quarter. Five torpedoes are shot down, one hits and gets through the shields, but no additional engine compartments are hit (the hit location is just very lucky for the Oriskany here). One Oriskany torpedo is shot down, one misses, and one hits, crippling the U-104. The Prussian lasers miss. Oriskany’s broadside (minus aft laser mount, lost in a pervious torpedo hit) mostly misses, scoring just two hits on the U-102. This hits the bridge and starboard magazine, but fails to cripple the corvette. Prussians then roll a 99 on the percentile breakoff check (a 01-45 would have meant the ship was compelled to break off the action, giving he Oriskany half points for driving her off). But with a 99, this must be the hardest U-boat crew in the Kriegsmarine! On Turn 05 - Oriskany hauls ass off the table. If this was a raid, it's a 54-0 victory for the Americans. If this was an assault, this is a 54-4 victory for the Prussians. The Oriskany was also insanely lucky a few times on this one.
Here are the Warship Record Sheets for the Oriskany on the two play-throughs of this battle.  Honestly, although this last battle was a “draw” (American win if it was a raid, Prussian win if it was an assault), I still think the Oriskany vs. six Type XIIs ... the Type XIIs will win most of the time.  The Oriskany survived long enough to flee because she was very lucky.Here are the Warship Record Sheets for the Oriskany on the two play-throughs of this battle. Honestly, although this last battle was a “draw” (American win if it was a raid, Prussian win if it was an assault), I still think the Oriskany vs. six Type XIIs ... the Type XIIs will win most of the time. The Oriskany survived long enough to flee because she was very lucky.

So these Type XIIs are still underpriced.  HOWEVER, I don’t think it’s the corvette ship type in general.  For instance, Russians K-56s are also 18 points and I am almost sure the Oriskany will wipe the floor with six K-56s, which six Type XIIs (same point cost) will wipe the floor with the Oriskany.  The difference is in those CICs.  So again, I think I will add a “CIC surcharge” to any ship class that carries an abnormally high CIC (+2 or +3).  This will effect many Japanese ships, almost all New Roman ships, Corporate / Pirate ships, and select American and Prussian ships (most notably, the corvette “submarine” classes).  The cost of a Type XII will now be 21 (15 base, +3 for advanced, +3 for the advanced CIC).  This is a 20% cost adjustment for +2 CICs, 40% adjustment for +3 CICs.  This percentage will drop off for larger ship types.

The last test of this theory will come when I test Oriskany against six K-56s.  If Oriskany beats the six K-56s at 108 points, even though she couldn’t really beat the six Type XIIs at 108 points, it will be proof that the remaining gap in the math lies in the +2 CIC (which the K-56s do not have).

Fear the Wolfpack!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
2 Comments

Last weekend we actually had two community games of Darkstar.  After our “campaign game” with players in the US and UK (reviewed earlier in this thread), we then had a supplementary non-campaign game with players in Shanghai and Australia.

So this game isn’t part of the Third Hercules War, but somewhere else deeper into the void, a smaller battle with smaller, faster ships, somewhere along the “Third Band” frontier of Known Space.

A small Prussian battlegroup, built around the Hipper class light cruiser Hohenfreiburg (named for one of Frederick the Great’s victories) and three Emden-class frigates is entering a new star system, somewhere in the Cassiopeia Constellation.  Perhaps this is Beta Cassiopeiae, a yellow-white variable giant 54 light-years out, just on the fringe of the Third Band.  Their forward screen, made up of a wolfpack of five Type XII umfangangriffboote (perimeter attack boats, or “U-Boats”) has detected potential “claim jumpers,” a battlegroup of the Arab League who believes they already have a claim on this system by a previous treaty.

These Prussians have been in a Darkstar wave for over two months to get here.  Since even the fastest courier will take no less than 19 days to return to Earth.  Therefore, both battlegroup commanders resolve to settle the issue themselves.  The Prussians and Arabs decelerate to attack speeds, vector toward each other, depressurize torpedo tubes, open outer doors, retract bridges, and begin fixing telemetry approaches and firing solutions.

There are no diplomats this far out.

Action stations!  We are now “weapons hot!”

Prussians: @elessar2590

Arab League:  @muakhah 

Here is the  matchup.  This is only a 195-point battle because everyone is “new” (no XP-upgraded ships or crews) and so many of the ships here are so small.  This is typical in the Third Band, since larger heavy cruisers and especially battleships (to say nothing of the logistics ships required to support any formation larger than the leanest of battlegroups) take at least three months to get this deep into Known Space.  Note the Arab League “Shabbak-201” class gunboats.  At just 5300 tons and a crew of 20, they are most analogous to ships like the YT-1300 “Millennium Falcon” (as appears at the Battle of Endor / Ep VI ROTJ) or Firefly class “Serenity.”Here is the matchup. This is only a 195-point battle because everyone is “new” (no XP-upgraded ships or crews) and so many of the ships here are so small. This is typical in the Third Band, since larger heavy cruisers and especially battleships (to say nothing of the logistics ships required to support any formation larger than the leanest of battlegroups) take at least three months to get this deep into Known Space. Note the Arab League “Shabbak-201” class gunboats. At just 5300 tons and a crew of 20, they are most analogous to ships like the YT-1300 “Millennium Falcon” (as appears at the Battle of Endor / Ep VI ROTJ) or Firefly class “Serenity.”
Both battlegroups make their approach, the Prussians approaching from 030 (upper right) and the Arab League from 210 (lower left).  The Arab flagship Al-Fihri launches 14 fighters and 4 bombers, a “hybrid” light cruiser that carries a slightly smaller gunnery battery in exchange for a moderate aerospace strike group.  The Prussians, for their part, launch “Sternjäger” (Star Hunter) gravitic torpedoes … LOTS of torpedoes.  Those Type XII U-boats don’t play around when it comes to these deadly warheads.  Both battlegroups make their approach, the Prussians approaching from 030 (upper right) and the Arab League from 210 (lower left). The Arab flagship Al-Fihri launches 14 fighters and 4 bombers, a “hybrid” light cruiser that carries a slightly smaller gunnery battery in exchange for a moderate aerospace strike group. The Prussians, for their part, launch “Sternjäger” (Star Hunter) gravitic torpedoes … LOTS of torpedoes. Those Type XII U-boats don’t play around when it comes to these deadly warheads.
The fleets close and things get brutal on Turn 02 very fast.  The Arab ships have proven a little faster than their Prussian foes, and largely won the initiative.  As the Hipper-class light cruiser Hohenfreiberg turns to starboard, the Arab hybrid cruiser and two escorting destroyers “cross their T.”  The Prussian frigates streak much closer to the Arabs, hoping to put a rail gun broadside into their starboard quarter.  But the heavy lasers and EPCs of the Arab ships are much more powerful at this range, and BOTH frigates are quickly crippled by blistering broadsides.  The U-305 is also knocked out, drilled by the forward laser arrays of the El Fihri.  Prussian torpedoes cannot all reach the Arabs on this turn, so their “Sternjäger” strike is somewhat divided, just enough for Arab point-defense systems to shoot down many of the warheads, and the shields absorb most of what’s left. The fleets close and things get brutal on Turn 02 very fast. The Arab ships have proven a little faster than their Prussian foes, and largely won the initiative. As the Hipper-class light cruiser Hohenfreiberg turns to starboard, the Arab hybrid cruiser and two escorting destroyers “cross their T.” The Prussian frigates streak much closer to the Arabs, hoping to put a rail gun broadside into their starboard quarter. But the heavy lasers and EPCs of the Arab ships are much more powerful at this range, and BOTH frigates are quickly crippled by blistering broadsides. The U-305 is also knocked out, drilled by the forward laser arrays of the El Fihri. Prussian torpedoes cannot all reach the Arabs on this turn, so their “Sternjäger” strike is somewhat divided, just enough for Arab point-defense systems to shoot down many of the warheads, and the shields absorb most of what’s left.
It’s not all going the League’s way.  Further away from the moon, the lone Prussian frigate KMS Siegen (Emden class frigates are named for mid-sized cities of Terrestrial Germany) stands tall against the Al Fihri’s aerospace strike.  The Arabs have elected to arm their bombers with all missiles rather than torpedoes, giving him many more warheads albeit at a smaller damage profile and less accuracy.  The Prussians shoot down some, the shields absorb others, and then just plain get lucky with the location of the hits, perfectly spaced across the Siegen’s aft armor so the armor perfectly absorbs all the damage.  Still, at this moment the League is winning the battle, hands down.  If they were closer to the table edge they could break off the action right now and claim a legitimate victory in this “raid / skirmish” model game.It’s not all going the League’s way. Further away from the moon, the lone Prussian frigate KMS Siegen (Emden class frigates are named for mid-sized cities of Terrestrial Germany) stands tall against the Al Fihri’s aerospace strike. The Arabs have elected to arm their bombers with all missiles rather than torpedoes, giving him many more warheads albeit at a smaller damage profile and less accuracy. The Prussians shoot down some, the shields absorb others, and then just plain get lucky with the location of the hits, perfectly spaced across the Siegen’s aft armor so the armor perfectly absorbs all the damage. Still, at this moment the League is winning the battle, hands down. If they were closer to the table edge they could break off the action right now and claim a legitimate victory in this “raid / skirmish” model game.
The tide turns, horrifically, on Turn 03.  Although they all survived last turn, the Arab cruiser and destroyers were damaged last turn, and those butcher’s bill comes due when the second onslaught of Prussian torpedoes makes its terminal approach.  With the Shabbak-201 gunboats too far away to offer mass driver support, the El Fihri, Zarqa, and Mersin are all quickly crippled (although not destroyed).  Meanwhile, more Prussian torpedoes howl at the gunboats, many missing but all it takes is one hit to cripple a gunboat with these massive warheads.  The Arab battlegroup is this largely tabled, but their fighters manage to strafe and cripple the engines of the Siegen, which is unfortunately aimed at the moon at the moment.  The crew abandons ships and the 27,000 ton frigate hits the surface at close to nine kilometers a second, kicking off a blast visible halfway across the star system.  Gunnery from the Arab ships also mauls the Hohefreiberg but she survives, which is more than we can say for the U-309.The tide turns, horrifically, on Turn 03. Although they all survived last turn, the Arab cruiser and destroyers were damaged last turn, and those butcher’s bill comes due when the second onslaught of Prussian torpedoes makes its terminal approach. With the Shabbak-201 gunboats too far away to offer mass driver support, the El Fihri, Zarqa, and Mersin are all quickly crippled (although not destroyed). Meanwhile, more Prussian torpedoes howl at the gunboats, many missing but all it takes is one hit to cripple a gunboat with these massive warheads. The Arab battlegroup is this largely tabled, but their fighters manage to strafe and cripple the engines of the Siegen, which is unfortunately aimed at the moon at the moment. The crew abandons ships and the 27,000 ton frigate hits the surface at close to nine kilometers a second, kicking off a blast visible halfway across the star system. Gunnery from the Arab ships also mauls the Hohefreiberg but she survives, which is more than we can say for the U-309.

The battle is over.  It’s a major Prussian victory (they’ve destroyed / crippled 174 points of Arab League shipping while sustaining 84 points of losses, giving them a +90 lead, or 46% of the original battle’s points).  However, it hasn’t been cheap.  Two frigates are crippled and a third is gone forever.  Two more U-boats are crippled, U-305 will be recovered but U-309 will in fact be captured by the Arab League while she is adrift.  That said, it looks like the Prussians will be calling the shots in Beta Cassiopeiae for the foreseeable future.

There’s some playtesting going on to determine whether these “wolfpacks” of U-boats (or similar classes like the Russian K-56 or American Mako class) are OP.  I don’t think they are, but they may be under-priced.  So this game might have been slightly unbalanced, I’m thinking with adjusted pricing there should have been only four U-boats, perhaps only three.  Still testing.

British Attempt Invasion of Russian Star System

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 5
2 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:30 SOL GMT, 20 DECEMBER 2520
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

The Third Hercules War continues – with British, American, and Japanese task forces recommitting to the struggle to control the embattled 72 Hercules star system. These Russian “Krasnaya Nadhezda” (Red Hope) colonies were the subject of a joint Anglo-Japanese raid launched out of the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules) and Kyokko Bijin (Zeta Hercules) systems last month, a raid interdicted by the US Navy’s “Oriskany” rapid response task force. Task Force Oriskany was defeated by the raiders, but the British task force (under the flag of Lord Edward Cavendish, HMS Agamemnon) was unable to remain in the Russian system when their Japanese compatriots received orders to return to 72 Hercules to deal with the Russian Admiral Lazarev battlegroup threatening the Japanese Kyokko Bijin colonies in Zeta Hercules. Of course, the Japanese could not know at the time that the Lazarev and her escorts had already pulled out of Zeta Hercules – ironically in response to the same Japanese threat that was now pulling out of 72 Hercules to respond to the Lazarev herself. The end result would almost be comical if not for the gravity of the situation.

Now the British are resolved to break the stalemate. The Lazarev battlegroup, now back at Krasnaya Nadhezda, is still under repair. The Japanese have secured Kyokko Bijin. The American Liberty carrier task force remains en route to their base at Vega (Alpha Lyra). Even if the Oriskany battlegroup can intercept again, there’s no way this small American destroyer force will be at full strength.

Thus, the decision is taken to launch not a raid, but a full-scale assault once again on Krasnaya Nadhezda. HMS Foxhound, a Fearless-class planetary assault cruiser, is loaded with Marines, ground attack aerospace craft, and tanks, and sent in a 10th magnitude Darkstar wave toward the Russian star system. Orders are to take the Russian base at Zyevnaya 21, one many moons orbiting the outer Zyevnaya gas giant.

Yet once again, the next generation transluminal drives of the American Oriskany battlegroup manage to beat the British to 72 Hercules (this small American force has nearly four times the normal FTL speeds of typical warships), and again these troublesome Yanks are in position to intercept. However, British intelligence has correctly surmised that they are nowhere near full strength. With the Lazarev task force still under repair, the Americans’ only help in defending this Russian star system is a brand-new battlegroup built around a Gagarin-class light fleet carrier.

British: Damon
Russians: Rasmus
Americans: Oriskany

Engagement 03: Vanguard Clash to Establish Orbital Zone Control over Gas Giant Moon Base, Zyevnaya 21, Kranaya Nadhezda system (72 Hercules), 20 December 2520

Here is the match up, and this will be a big one.  438 points per side, fourteen ships total, not including dozens of aerospace fighters, bombers, and scouts.  Yes, both sides have a light fleet carrier (light cruiser) in this one.  The British are naturally greatly outnumbered, but of course we’re talking about highly-upgraded heavy cruisers, and light cruisers against a scratch force of destroyers, frigates, and even corvettes.  Then again, those Americans are some of the most experienced commanders in the Darkstar ‘verse, the nigh-legendary Valcour-class destroyers USS Oriskany and Valley Forge, and the Mako-class attack corvette USS Daggerfish.  The Americans and Russians have a HUGE advantage in torpedoes and electronic warfare ... the British naturally have a gigantic edge in gunnery.  A single hit from HMS Agamemnon can probably break one of those corvettes in half.  As is so often the case, the game will come down to who can make the other side play THEIR game.  This moon is measured to be the size of Pluto, based on the 180-km/hex scale of the game.Here is the match up, and this will be a big one. 438 points per side, fourteen ships total, not including dozens of aerospace fighters, bombers, and scouts. Yes, both sides have a light fleet carrier (light cruiser) in this one. The British are naturally greatly outnumbered, but of course we’re talking about highly-upgraded heavy cruisers, and light cruisers against a scratch force of destroyers, frigates, and even corvettes. Then again, those Americans are some of the most experienced commanders in the Darkstar ‘verse, the nigh-legendary Valcour-class destroyers USS Oriskany and Valley Forge, and the Mako-class attack corvette USS Daggerfish. The Americans and Russians have a HUGE advantage in torpedoes and electronic warfare ... the British naturally have a gigantic edge in gunnery. A single hit from HMS Agamemnon can probably break one of those corvettes in half. As is so often the case, the game will come down to who can make the other side play THEIR game. This moon is measured to be the size of Pluto, based on the 180-km/hex scale of the game.
This battle will probably remain much more spread out than some others we’ve seen, with carriers on both sides.  The Oriskany battle group will be trying to close somewhat, relying on their upgraded ECM / EW suites and gravitic shielding to protect them from the worst of the British gunfire.  They will have to work with the Russians to ensure a coordinated torpedo strike, landing their Mk 48s at the same time as the Massive Russian P-500 strikes, as well as ordinance launched off their Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers and Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters.This battle will probably remain much more spread out than some others we’ve seen, with carriers on both sides. The Oriskany battle group will be trying to close somewhat, relying on their upgraded ECM / EW suites and gravitic shielding to protect them from the worst of the British gunfire. They will have to work with the Russians to ensure a coordinated torpedo strike, landing their Mk 48s at the same time as the Massive Russian P-500 strikes, as well as ordinance launched off their Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers and Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters.
Turn two, and the distance is still so great that no one’s torpedoes have reached their targets.  The carriers have finally completed launching their aerospace strike groups, now forming up and heading toward their targets.  The Americans hedge closer to Zyevnaya-21, hoping to use the moon to at least partially screen their vulnerable engines and reactors from potential enemy torpedoes.  First blood is drawn as American scouts launched from the Oriskany and Valley Forge tangle with British bombers and shoot two of them down, at the loss of one scout.   The Novogord class frigate is hanging back with the Russian carrier, the three K-56 class torpedo corvettes hanging with the Americans for concentrated torpedo fire ... while the two Russian destroyers are a little out of position.  This is partly due to maneuvering thruster damage on one of the ships, already hit hard by the long-range firepower of HMS Agamemnon and pin-point accuracy of HMS Retribution.Turn two, and the distance is still so great that no one’s torpedoes have reached their targets. The carriers have finally completed launching their aerospace strike groups, now forming up and heading toward their targets. The Americans hedge closer to Zyevnaya-21, hoping to use the moon to at least partially screen their vulnerable engines and reactors from potential enemy torpedoes. First blood is drawn as American scouts launched from the Oriskany and Valley Forge tangle with British bombers and shoot two of them down, at the loss of one scout. The Novogord class frigate is hanging back with the Russian carrier, the three K-56 class torpedo corvettes hanging with the Americans for concentrated torpedo fire ... while the two Russian destroyers are a little out of position. This is partly due to maneuvering thruster damage on one of the ships, already hit hard by the long-range firepower of HMS Agamemnon and pin-point accuracy of HMS Retribution.
Turn three, a moment of fateful decision.  Torpedoes and aerospace strikes have finally reached their targets.  Turn three, a moment of fateful decision. Torpedoes and aerospace strikes have finally reached their targets.
First, the British ships.  Admittedly, this Russo-American strike is not all it should be, note there is no aerospace missiles or torpedoes in this mix, they are still too far away.  Nevertheless, the sheer numbers of the Russian torpedoes (green) are a terrible threat.  The British mass driver defenses opt to shoot for the more accurate American torpedoes, but due to electronic warfare upgrades on the Oriskany and Valley Forge, they are more difficult to hit and it takes pretty much the entire British task force to shoot them all down.  Fair enough, but now almost all the Russian torpedoes sail in unopposed.  They are inaccurate and the British have upgraded shielding, but what can I say, the Russians have upgraded dice.  :D  Rasmus has 61 torpedoes hitting on a 10% chance, and gets a lot more than 6.1 hits on the stern on the Agamemnon.First, the British ships. Admittedly, this Russo-American strike is not all it should be, note there is no aerospace missiles or torpedoes in this mix, they are still too far away. Nevertheless, the sheer numbers of the Russian torpedoes (green) are a terrible threat. The British mass driver defenses opt to shoot for the more accurate American torpedoes, but due to electronic warfare upgrades on the Oriskany and Valley Forge, they are more difficult to hit and it takes pretty much the entire British task force to shoot them all down. Fair enough, but now almost all the Russian torpedoes sail in unopposed. They are inaccurate and the British have upgraded shielding, but what can I say, the Russians have upgraded dice. :D Rasmus has 61 torpedoes hitting on a 10% chance, and gets a lot more than 6.1 hits on the stern on the Agamemnon.
The British strike does not fare as well.  They are targeting the American destroyer USS Oriskany.  Note the Oriskany’s stern is up against the moon, the torpedoes cannot approach from her stern or starboard quarter.  In an attempt to sling around to her port quarter, the bombers must approach too close, and the Oriskany and Valley Forge largely gut the strike before it has a chance to fire.  The Oriskany is hit by torpedoes fired from the carrier HMS Vindictive (red 8), and some of the bomber torpedoes and fighter missiles, but it’s not enough to take out the Lady O.  However, Brutish gunnery indeed proves fearsome, and one K-56 corvette is already knocked out.  By the end of this fire phase / resolution phase, the other two will be crippled as well, one will never fight again (later destroyed by British fighters).  Two possible things went wrong here ... that torpedo strike should have gone for the Oriskany’s starboard bow rather than port quarter, the bombers could have released from further out, just enough to remain out of mass driver range.  True, the Brits wouldn’t be hitting any engines or reactors, but hits on the Oriskany’s forward magazine or even bridge might have had the same effect.  Two, the guns and torpedoes engaged different targets.  Yes, three K-56s knocked down means 36 less torpedoes launching, but it they’re only worth 36 points, the Oriskany is worth 106.The British strike does not fare as well. They are targeting the American destroyer USS Oriskany. Note the Oriskany’s stern is up against the moon, the torpedoes cannot approach from her stern or starboard quarter. In an attempt to sling around to her port quarter, the bombers must approach too close, and the Oriskany and Valley Forge largely gut the strike before it has a chance to fire. The Oriskany is hit by torpedoes fired from the carrier HMS Vindictive (red 8), and some of the bomber torpedoes and fighter missiles, but it’s not enough to take out the Lady O. However, Brutish gunnery indeed proves fearsome, and one K-56 corvette is already knocked out. By the end of this fire phase / resolution phase, the other two will be crippled as well, one will never fight again (later destroyed by British fighters). Two possible things went wrong here ... that torpedo strike should have gone for the Oriskany’s starboard bow rather than port quarter, the bombers could have released from further out, just enough to remain out of mass driver range. True, the Brits wouldn’t be hitting any engines or reactors, but hits on the Oriskany’s forward magazine or even bridge might have had the same effect. Two, the guns and torpedoes engaged different targets. Yes, three K-56s knocked down means 36 less torpedoes launching, but it they’re only worth 36 points, the Oriskany is worth 106.
With the Agamemnon now crippled, the Retribution takes over as flagship and carries on the struggle.  The Americans (a little peeved that the Russians didn’t stick with them to offer mass driver support), break off on their own and start working around behind the British for broadsides across their sterns.  Gunfire against the Oriskany is horrific, and she takes heavy damage along her port bow.  With the Agamemnon now crippled, the Retribution takes over as flagship and carries on the struggle. The Americans (a little peeved that the Russians didn’t stick with them to offer mass driver support), break off on their own and start working around behind the British for broadsides across their sterns. Gunfire against the Oriskany is horrific, and she takes heavy damage along her port bow.
The British are now effectively in a fighting withdrawal, stepping back from the oncoming Russian torpedoes and bombers while the Americans still try to get around behind them.  The Oriskany has to roll over on her back to screen his savaged port bow (where she has lost all shielding and her hull is torn open).  The British fighters engage Russian bombers and shoot them all down, along with some of their torpedoes (that whole dogfight takes place in Hex 2608).  The Russian bombers, once their fate becomes clear, release their ordinance.  Not much of their torpedo strike makes it through the Retribution’s mass driver and shields (to avoid losing their aerospace torpedoes completely when the bombers went down, they had to release NOW, not with the main torpedo strike from the destroyers which won’t hit until next turn).  American gunnery is also a little disappointing, although to be fair these are destroyers and torpedoes are their main weapon.    British gunnery shifts to the Sovnya destroyers.  After all, the British have the Sovnyas broadsided, while the Americans have managed to duck in behind them, thus out-of-arc for the forward British batteries.  The first Sovnya is shredded by the Sheffield and Retribution, crippled and adrift.The British are now effectively in a fighting withdrawal, stepping back from the oncoming Russian torpedoes and bombers while the Americans still try to get around behind them. The Oriskany has to roll over on her back to screen his savaged port bow (where she has lost all shielding and her hull is torn open). The British fighters engage Russian bombers and shoot them all down, along with some of their torpedoes (that whole dogfight takes place in Hex 2608). The Russian bombers, once their fate becomes clear, release their ordinance. Not much of their torpedo strike makes it through the Retribution’s mass driver and shields (to avoid losing their aerospace torpedoes completely when the bombers went down, they had to release NOW, not with the main torpedo strike from the destroyers which won’t hit until next turn). American gunnery is also a little disappointing, although to be fair these are destroyers and torpedoes are their main weapon. British gunnery shifts to the Sovnya destroyers. After all, the British have the Sovnyas broadsided, while the Americans have managed to duck in behind them, thus out-of-arc for the forward British batteries. The first Sovnya is shredded by the Sheffield and Retribution, crippled and adrift.
Turn six, and the battle is finally complete.  Torpedoes from USS Oriskany and Valley Forge slam into the heavily damaged HMS Sheffield, leaving her afire and dead in space (all torpedoes from the Daggerfish were shot down by the Sheffield and HMS Vindictive).  Russian fighters try a missile strike on the Vindictive, but not much gets through the shields.  HMS Retribution weathers the worst of the rather disjointed Russian torpedo spread, and the again inaccurate American gunnery.  However, the surviving Sovnya class destroyer and Novgorod class frigate have zoomed up for a point-blank broadside on the British light cruiser, and with heavy rail guns and especially plasma accelerators, Russian ships in point-blank broadsides are very, very dangerous.  They all but melt off the starboard quarter of the Retribution.  But the Retribution gives as good as she gets, with a single broadside crippling both Russian ships.Turn six, and the battle is finally complete. Torpedoes from USS Oriskany and Valley Forge slam into the heavily damaged HMS Sheffield, leaving her afire and dead in space (all torpedoes from the Daggerfish were shot down by the Sheffield and HMS Vindictive). Russian fighters try a missile strike on the Vindictive, but not much gets through the shields. HMS Retribution weathers the worst of the rather disjointed Russian torpedo spread, and the again inaccurate American gunnery. However, the surviving Sovnya class destroyer and Novgorod class frigate have zoomed up for a point-blank broadside on the British light cruiser, and with heavy rail guns and especially plasma accelerators, Russian ships in point-blank broadsides are very, very dangerous. They all but melt off the starboard quarter of the Retribution. But the Retribution gives as good as she gets, with a single broadside crippling both Russian ships.
And that’s the battle.  The Vindictive has to break off to avoid being destroyed, and since this was an “assault” game, points are assessed based on what remains on the table.  The Russians have the carrier, 16 fighters, and a handful of scouts = 77 points.  The British have only a few fighters and scouts = 22 points.  But the big score is the Americans, which still has the small but very powerful Oriskany battlegroup in play.  The Oriskany is badly damaged but still operational, giving them 196 points.  Total score is thus 273 to 22, or a +251 margin for the Americans and Russians.  This is more than 40% of the starting 438 per side, counting his as a MAJOR victory for the Americans and Russians.  Needless to say, the HMS Foxhound falls back to the Outer Hebrides system and the British will be on the defensive for a while.  As we can see, for the Americans, they’re still not full recovered from their previous defeat at 72 Hercules, the British seems to have lost a little of their earlier steam, but the Holy Russian Empire is about to declare victory in this war.And that’s the battle. The Vindictive has to break off to avoid being destroyed, and since this was an “assault” game, points are assessed based on what remains on the table. The Russians have the carrier, 16 fighters, and a handful of scouts = 77 points. The British have only a few fighters and scouts = 22 points. But the big score is the Americans, which still has the small but very powerful Oriskany battlegroup in play. The Oriskany is badly damaged but still operational, giving them 196 points. Total score is thus 273 to 22, or a +251 margin for the Americans and Russians. This is more than 40% of the starting 438 per side, counting his as a MAJOR victory for the Americans and Russians. Needless to say, the HMS Foxhound falls back to the Outer Hebrides system and the British will be on the defensive for a while. As we can see, for the Americans, they’re still not full recovered from their previous defeat at 72 Hercules, the British seems to have lost a little of their earlier steam, but the Holy Russian Empire is about to declare victory in this war.

New Arab League Warship Class - TWO Darkstar Games today!

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
11 Comments

We’ll be playing not one but two Darkstar wargames today, with players on four continents.  Meanwhile, we’re also ramping up the Arab League for play this evening, so a new light carrier class has been designed into their fleet.

The Khalifa class light carrier is a newer design for the star caliphates Arab League, in fact the first dedicated carrier class ever developed for this navy.  Until the lead ship of this class was commissioned in 2508, the Arab League had always relied on their The Khalifa class light carrier is a newer design for the star caliphates Arab League, in fact the first dedicated carrier class ever developed for this navy. Until the lead ship of this class was commissioned in 2508, the Arab League had always relied on their "hybrid" cruiser fleet, such as Almanzor class light cruisers and Damascus class heavy cruisers, even the Sayf al Qadr (Sword of the Most Powerful) class battleships. These ships traditionally carried a lighter main armament suite in exchange for a partial aerospace fighter and strike complement, allowing each ship to act as a multi-mission platform or a task force as a dedicated carrier strike force. Through the 2480s, 90s, and early 2500s, this unusual doctrine brought Arab task forces startling successes on more than one occasion, so the decision was undertaken to "double down" on the aerospace arm and build a dedicated carrier. The move was not unopposed among some of the League's military leaders, who cited that the hybrid cruisers had been winning with aerospace because the enemy cruiser squadrons they faced simply had no aerospace support, and relatively weak gunnery of Arab cruisers meant that aerospace had to win these encounters by default. Nevertheless, the capabilities of the "Mylekinir" (Fire Angel) fighter and "Demkikham" (Vengeance) bomber are the match of any in Known Space, especially after fleet-wide modernization and refit programs undertaken through the 2510s. The Khalifa class carries plenty of them, surprassing most light carriers and matched only by the American Buford class and Japanese Shimada class. The Khalifa also packs plenty of warhead delivery support, namely the advanced "Ahrasyfa" (Storm) gravitic torpedo in two quadruple racks on the expanded bow, one ventral and one dorsal. Note the unusual layout of these torpedoes, most ships of this type mount them in an "assault configuration" balanced along the port and starboard bows. This, combined with the powerful forward shields, belies the offensive-minded doctrine envisioned for these ships. Like most Arab League ships, the Khalifa's superluminal speeds also outmatch most rivals, all ships capable of at least 11th-magnitude Darkstar waves.

New Warships - Indian Republic

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
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We’ve had some interest in the Indian Republic, and while reviewing their fleet and preparing them for play, I’m finding that the fleet was in need of a refresh and reorganization.  So some ship classes have been renamed, designs tweaked, and new warship classes added.

The Kuru class corvette, named for rulers of the ancient Kuru Dynasty of northen India, is the primary attack corvette deployed by the Indian Navy.  Especially common in outer Second Band and Frontier star systems and warzones, the Kuru is a sleek yet austere, beautiful yet spartan design.  At just under 12,000 tons, these corvettes are light for their type, fast in both sublight and FTL speeds, and able to hit hard with a suprisingly long-range weapon suite.  Strictly a strike craft, the Kuru mounts everything forward, including two pair of Katara class gravitic torpedoes and a twin-mounted pair of 8 megakelvin laser emitters.  Such a laser array might appear an odd choice for so small a ship (indeed, the entire front half of the ship is basically built around this turret and its powerful capacitors), but remember that such beam-based weapons are the primary and exclusive staple of Indian naval design and doctrine.  Whereas most navies tend to think of corvettes as torpedo carriers (the US Mako, Russian K-56, and Prussian Type XII being prominent examples), the Kuru class is a miniature warship, able to snipe at even mid-sized enemy warships at range with their lasers their accuracy enhanced by an advanced CIC and targeting suite.  One common tactic is to mass three to five of these ships together in roving packs, the combined weight of their torpedoes usually sufficient to overwhelm the shielding and point-defense of most destroyers, especially once the armor has been scored by laser fire.  Several bruising wars against aerospace-heavy powers like the United States (IK Pegasi) and especially the Arab League (the Aquarius War) has also tought the Indian Navy the importance of point-defense, and four triple-mounted 25mm mass drivers ensures that no enemy torpedo volley or aerospace strike group will have a free ride on its way to a Kuru-class target.  Commanders who find themselves beset by these ships should take care not to give chase, as they're fast enough to sometimes outrun enemy fighters, torpedoes, and epsecially warships.  Another warning is that hit-and-fade attacks by these corvettes are often only diversions for near-suicidal The Kuru class corvette, named for rulers of the ancient Kuru Dynasty of northen India, is the primary attack corvette deployed by the Indian Navy. Especially common in outer Second Band and Frontier star systems and warzones, the Kuru is a sleek yet austere, beautiful yet spartan design. At just under 12,000 tons, these corvettes are light for their type, fast in both sublight and FTL speeds, and able to hit hard with a suprisingly long-range weapon suite. Strictly a strike craft, the Kuru mounts everything forward, including two pair of Katara class gravitic torpedoes and a twin-mounted pair of 8 megakelvin laser emitters. Such a laser array might appear an odd choice for so small a ship (indeed, the entire front half of the ship is basically built around this turret and its powerful capacitors), but remember that such beam-based weapons are the primary and exclusive staple of Indian naval design and doctrine. Whereas most navies tend to think of corvettes as torpedo carriers (the US Mako, Russian K-56, and Prussian Type XII being prominent examples), the Kuru class is a miniature warship, able to snipe at even mid-sized enemy warships at range with their lasers their accuracy enhanced by an advanced CIC and targeting suite. One common tactic is to mass three to five of these ships together in roving packs, the combined weight of their torpedoes usually sufficient to overwhelm the shielding and point-defense of most destroyers, especially once the armor has been scored by laser fire. Several bruising wars against aerospace-heavy powers like the United States (IK Pegasi) and especially the Arab League (the Aquarius War) has also tought the Indian Navy the importance of point-defense, and four triple-mounted 25mm mass drivers ensures that no enemy torpedo volley or aerospace strike group will have a free ride on its way to a Kuru-class target. Commanders who find themselves beset by these ships should take care not to give chase, as they're fast enough to sometimes outrun enemy fighters, torpedoes, and epsecially warships. Another warning is that hit-and-fade attacks by these corvettes are often only diversions for near-suicidal "Kali Squadron" attacks by Sukanya S01 class gunboats. These ships are also sometimes used as high-level couriers or VIP transports, note the accomodations for passengers (several cabins often combined into one "luxury suite" for a Majaraja or other nobility.
The Vajra class patrol carriers, named for the the celetstial weapons and heroes found the great war chronicles of Hindu mythology, is perhaps one of the most underestimated classes of warship, at least along the Third Band frontier.  The swift little Vajras  can travel between star systems on eleventh wave Darkstar drives, are respectably shielded, fiercely defend themselves with twin-mounted 20mm mass drivers on all quarters, and mount matching The Vajra class patrol carriers, named for the the celetstial weapons and heroes found the great war chronicles of Hindu mythology, is perhaps one of the most underestimated classes of warship, at least along the Third Band frontier. The swift little Vajras can travel between star systems on eleventh wave Darkstar drives, are respectably shielded, fiercely defend themselves with twin-mounted 20mm mass drivers on all quarters, and mount matching "Arjun" type gravitic torpedo tubes capable of pulling a hole in any ship the Vajra's size. But the Vajra's main weapon, of course, is her small but respectable air group, startlingly impressive for such a small ship. Indeed, these "corvette" class warships can launch as many fighters as most frigate-hulled escort carriers, although complements of bombers and scouts are naturally diminished. Nor can the Vajra launch or recover these aerospace craft quite as fast. Fighters usually consist of the "Chakra" class starfighter, with just one "Nakul" class bomber. Note that for some mission profiles this mix can be altered, with Vajras ditching the scout and carrying just two fighters in exchange for three bombers loaded for strike missions. But usually the fighter complement is carried, since the Vajra is used primarily for patrol, system defense, convoy escort, and screening larger task forces and fleets of the Devanagari, the Indian Navy. Whatever the mix, the Vajra class is capable of streaking into a star system, especially in hunter-killer groups of three or four, launching its aerospace group and torpedoes for a lightning strike, and zipping back out again. Conversely, the Vajra is definitely not a ship at home in toe-to-toe slugging matches, even against gun-armed corvettes or patrol boats they tend to fare poorly. In larger fleet actions they tend to either hang back with the flagships, supporting with mass driver fire or torpedoes, or sweep around an enemy wing to launch fighter strikes against targets of opportunity.
The Asura class frigate, named for a class of dangerous dieties in Hindu mythology, is fairly typical of the warships developed and deployed by the Devanagari, the Indian Navy.  Armed almost exclusively with laser weapons, by far the preferred weapon of the Indian Navy, the Asura is thus light for a frigate but not especially fast, as lasers draw much more power than other classes of comparable-caliber weapons.  This also means that while Asura frigates are deadly against other small ships or even destroyers,  they have a very hard time contributing in a meaningful way against larger ships.  For this reason, the Asura class frigates are deployed almost exclusively in the Third Band of Known Space, where cruiser-sized ships are exceedingly rare.  Note the expanded cargo bays, vital for any ship that wants to operate this deep into space for extended periods of time.  The Asura also has a very large passenger capacity for its class, a common feature aboard all Indian ships.  This allows officers and even some senior enlisted men the option to bring  members of their family with them on long deployments, and also makes Indian warships very comfortable to serve on, even if it places considerable strain on the Asura's limited available volume.  Still, the Asura is a solid design, well-constructed and able to tangle with hostile ships of its own class on a very competitive basis.  This is especially true if the Asura is able to keep the enemy at a distance where the range of its lasers arrays can be leveraged to maximum effect.  The Asura class frigate, named for a class of dangerous dieties in Hindu mythology, is fairly typical of the warships developed and deployed by the Devanagari, the Indian Navy. Armed almost exclusively with laser weapons, by far the preferred weapon of the Indian Navy, the Asura is thus light for a frigate but not especially fast, as lasers draw much more power than other classes of comparable-caliber weapons. This also means that while Asura frigates are deadly against other small ships or even destroyers, they have a very hard time contributing in a meaningful way against larger ships. For this reason, the Asura class frigates are deployed almost exclusively in the Third Band of Known Space, where cruiser-sized ships are exceedingly rare. Note the expanded cargo bays, vital for any ship that wants to operate this deep into space for extended periods of time. The Asura also has a very large passenger capacity for its class, a common feature aboard all Indian ships. This allows officers and even some senior enlisted men the option to bring members of their family with them on long deployments, and also makes Indian warships very comfortable to serve on, even if it places considerable strain on the Asura's limited available volume. Still, the Asura is a solid design, well-constructed and able to tangle with hostile ships of its own class on a very competitive basis. This is especially true if the Asura is able to keep the enemy at a distance where the range of its lasers arrays can be leveraged to maximum effect.
The Surat class destroyer is an older design of the Devanagari, or Indian Navy, but one that the fleet seems unwilling to part with.  Production run on these destroyers began over thirty years ago, but their rugged service in fleet support, sector patrol, and open combat has  proven solid enough that some shipyards are rumored to still be building upgraded and modernized variants of the class.  A big reason for their effectiveness and popularity could be the weapons suite, with no less than six 10 MgKv lasers these destroyers are extremely effective and supporting bigger ships in bigger battles, where fleet commanders prefer to keep longer engagement ranges.  With an upgraded sensor, targeting, and command suite, the Surats have kept reasonable pace with the state of electronics warfare, lending further accuracy and effective range to these lasers.  The shielding, sublight speed, amass driver defenses, and Darkstar capability -- while unremarkable -- are still solid for the Surat's class.  One possible weakness could be the relative lack of secondary armaments, with just four torpedo tubes (torpedoes are usually a destroyer's bread and butter) the Surat becomes something of a The Surat class destroyer is an older design of the Devanagari, or Indian Navy, but one that the fleet seems unwilling to part with. Production run on these destroyers began over thirty years ago, but their rugged service in fleet support, sector patrol, and open combat has proven solid enough that some shipyards are rumored to still be building upgraded and modernized variants of the class. A big reason for their effectiveness and popularity could be the weapons suite, with no less than six 10 MgKv lasers these destroyers are extremely effective and supporting bigger ships in bigger battles, where fleet commanders prefer to keep longer engagement ranges. With an upgraded sensor, targeting, and command suite, the Surats have kept reasonable pace with the state of electronics warfare, lending further accuracy and effective range to these lasers. The shielding, sublight speed, amass driver defenses, and Darkstar capability -- while unremarkable -- are still solid for the Surat's class. One possible weakness could be the relative lack of secondary armaments, with just four torpedo tubes (torpedoes are usually a destroyer's bread and butter) the Surat becomes something of a "one trick pony" with its powerful lasers. Fortunately for the Surat, that pony has a potent kick. In the seemingly endless (and near-genocidal) 2486-2502 Aquarius War against the Arab League, Surat destroyers suffered somewhat against larger classes of warships, whose larger components are not as easily effected by the pinpoint drilling effect of lasers. Against smaller ships, however, the ships became veritable angels of death. They also picked up the reputations as "executioners," finishing off targets already damaged by bigger ships' rail guns, plasma arrays, and torpedoes. Always in the thick of the action in this war, Surats took heavy losses, but also racked up impressive victory tallies, and the Indian Navy seems intent on continuing production on this venerable class, albeit on a limited basis. They are named after mid-sized cities of the terrestrial Indian Republic.
The Rakasha light carrier, named for legendary demons and demonesses in Hindu mythology, has been a fairly successful starship class built to project Indian aerospace power deeper into known space.  Conceived originally as something of a stopgap while larger classes of fleet carriers were built, the Rakasha carriers in fact proved to be tough, reliable, and flexible aerospace strike platforms.  They are admittedly an older design, dating back from the closing days of the long and brutal Aquarius War against the Arab League.  They underwent something of an overhaul and modernization whgen the new Chakra class aerospace fighter was introduced, requiring significant redesign of the Rakashas' launch bays and hangar facilities.  While a long and expensive process, the the effort proved worthwhile given the quantum improvement of the Chakra over the older Dhanush (Longbow) class fighter.  Analysts agree that this enhanced aerospace superiority and strike capacity has added at least twenty years to the service life of the Rakasha class light carrier.  The Rakasha is somewhat unusual for a ship of this type, dispensing with the usual torpedo arrays and instead mounting the staple of the Indian Navy, the long-ranged laser.   With just two emitters mounted in a forward turret, these weapons are strictly secondary, and of course cannot directly support the Rakasha's aerospace strike with  further ship-launched warheads.  However, experience has shown that while the Rakasha is launching, assembling, and deploying its aerospace strike (usually at least three minutes after the onset of an engagement), even a few drilling laser hits by these weapons can sometimes be enough to make a critical difference in the final effectiveness of such an aerospace strike, especially in aerospace torpedoes or missiles hit in areas previously damaged.  In all, the Rakasha is a solid if unremarkable design, reliable if not fantastic, well-trusted by crews and commanders, and sure to see service in the Indian Navy for at least the foreseeable future.The Rakasha light carrier, named for legendary demons and demonesses in Hindu mythology, has been a fairly successful starship class built to project Indian aerospace power deeper into known space. Conceived originally as something of a stopgap while larger classes of fleet carriers were built, the Rakasha carriers in fact proved to be tough, reliable, and flexible aerospace strike platforms. They are admittedly an older design, dating back from the closing days of the long and brutal Aquarius War against the Arab League. They underwent something of an overhaul and modernization whgen the new Chakra class aerospace fighter was introduced, requiring significant redesign of the Rakashas' launch bays and hangar facilities. While a long and expensive process, the the effort proved worthwhile given the quantum improvement of the Chakra over the older Dhanush (Longbow) class fighter. Analysts agree that this enhanced aerospace superiority and strike capacity has added at least twenty years to the service life of the Rakasha class light carrier. The Rakasha is somewhat unusual for a ship of this type, dispensing with the usual torpedo arrays and instead mounting the staple of the Indian Navy, the long-ranged laser. With just two emitters mounted in a forward turret, these weapons are strictly secondary, and of course cannot directly support the Rakasha's aerospace strike with further ship-launched warheads. However, experience has shown that while the Rakasha is launching, assembling, and deploying its aerospace strike (usually at least three minutes after the onset of an engagement), even a few drilling laser hits by these weapons can sometimes be enough to make a critical difference in the final effectiveness of such an aerospace strike, especially in aerospace torpedoes or missiles hit in areas previously damaged. In all, the Rakasha is a solid if unremarkable design, reliable if not fantastic, well-trusted by crews and commanders, and sure to see service in the Indian Navy for at least the foreseeable future.
The Sharada class light cruiser is one of the newer warships coming off the slips of the Indian Republic, named for famous admirals in the early days of their interplanetary (and later interstellar) navy.  Like most Indian warships, the Sharadas are sleek, beautiful, and very advanced, although not exactly heavy hitters in a capital ship action.  With an advanced DT-fusion reactor assembly turning the gears down in engineering, the Sharada is anything put underpowered.  The Sharadas are mounted with an advanced The Sharada class light cruiser is one of the newer warships coming off the slips of the Indian Republic, named for famous admirals in the early days of their interplanetary (and later interstellar) navy. Like most Indian warships, the Sharadas are sleek, beautiful, and very advanced, although not exactly heavy hitters in a capital ship action. With an advanced DT-fusion reactor assembly turning the gears down in engineering, the Sharada is anything put underpowered. The Sharadas are mounted with an advanced "Aakash 870" model targeting, command, control, and comms array, along with respectable Darkstar and ion drives for sublight propulsion. Yet for all these attributes, the Sharadas were not perfect. Originally, the ship was faster, but mounted only their four turrets of double-mounted 8 MgKv laser emitters. But early experience in combat against the Arab Leage, Chinese, and rogue British "privateers" showed that while these weapons can certainly shoot holes in hulls, the odds of significant internal damage (decompression, internal explosions, engine shut-downs) was pretty slim. For this reason, the Sharada class was pulled in and retrofitted with the new 12-teravolt EPCs. This slowed the ship down, and cut into the family quarters (always extensive on Indian warships, see the expanded passenger accomodations). But even the most diehard Indian naval design officer had to admit that no cruiser can outrun rail guns, and bringing your family along in space doesn't do much good if you can't protect them. After the refit, two Sharada class cruisers (Anasuya and Zinta) were escorting an Indian settlement convoy when they were attacked by a Russian "wolfpack" of Russian destroyers and K-56 class corvettes. Complemented by their new EPCs and torpedo arrays, the two cruisers quickly exploded three of the corvettes and crippled a destroyer, putting the rest of the Russian raiders to hasty flight. Another ship of the class, the Kharnanda, sailed under the flag of the the Maharani Jaya Amritachandra (Victory of the Eternal Moon) during the recent IK Pegasi conflict. As the flagship of the Indian battlegroup, she nearly turned the tide of victory against the Arab League and Americans at the climactic battle of Jebel al Itaqu.
Until relatively recently, the Magadha class light cruiser was seen as a glaring weakness in the Indian Navy, and perhaps any long-range prospects of the Indian Republic as amn interstellar colonial power at all.  Named for the ancient monarchs  of the Magadha dynasties, the Magadha cruisers actually began their careers with promise, their dizzying array of 6-megakelvin lasers burning holes through virtually every opponent they came across.  The advent of the Aquarius War, however, put the Magadhas up against new threats the design was not prepared for, heavy concentrations of Arab League aerospace groups and Russian torpedo spreads.  Heavy damage to several vessels, including a few explosions, scuttlings, or total write-offs, prompted immediate upgrades to the ship's mass driver defenses, but this only slowed the ships down, making them easy meat for Arab Shabbak-class gunboats and Russian torpedo corvettes.  A second round of refits with lighter, more power-efficient 25mm mass drivers largely corrected the issue, but by then the embattled Magadhas were twenty-five years old.  Formerly a Until relatively recently, the Magadha class light cruiser was seen as a glaring weakness in the Indian Navy, and perhaps any long-range prospects of the Indian Republic as amn interstellar colonial power at all. Named for the ancient monarchs of the Magadha dynasties, the Magadha cruisers actually began their careers with promise, their dizzying array of 6-megakelvin lasers burning holes through virtually every opponent they came across. The advent of the Aquarius War, however, put the Magadhas up against new threats the design was not prepared for, heavy concentrations of Arab League aerospace groups and Russian torpedo spreads. Heavy damage to several vessels, including a few explosions, scuttlings, or total write-offs, prompted immediate upgrades to the ship's mass driver defenses, but this only slowed the ships down, making them easy meat for Arab Shabbak-class gunboats and Russian torpedo corvettes. A second round of refits with lighter, more power-efficient 25mm mass drivers largely corrected the issue, but by then the embattled Magadhas were twenty-five years old. Formerly a "dreadnought" in duels against enemy light cruiser, destroyers, and frigates, these ships found themselves up against more heavy cruisers or advanced light cruisers. Those 6-megakelvin lasers, plentiful as they were, just weren't heavy enough to cripple enemies of this caliber, especially since the Magadha had to get so close for them to appreciable damage. Finally, the Sharada class light cruiser was introduced. While a "replacement" ship class usually sounds the death knell of the older type, for the Magadha the new stablemate provided a second lease on life. Relieved of task force and battlegroup flag ship duties, the Magadha found a new role as capital ship escorts for the larger Gujarat class heavy cruisers, Naga class strike carriers, Maya class fleet carriers, and Kali class battleships. The Magadhas' relatively modest speed is no issue here, their huge volume of smaller-caliber weapons makes them ideal for fending off smaller ships that love to prey on larger ship's sterns and engineering sections, and their upgraded point-defense systems allow for solid support against enemy aerospace attacks. Losses, damage, and drydock time have fallen off sharply, and the venerable old Magadha class have settled in their new role, often seen as "prestige" ships in a task force given their long and storied careers.

Task Force Oriskany DEFEATED!

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FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:30 SOL GMT, 15 NOVEMBER 2520
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

A second battle has been reported in the rapidly-developing Hercules Crisis.  It seems the United States has now entered the war, honoring new treaties with the Holy Russian Empire, which opened hostilities with the United Kingdom and Japan last month in the Zeta Hercules system (Kyokko Bijin – “Beauty of Dawn”)  We can now confirm that TASK FORCE ORISKANY has engaged in open combat in the 72 Hercules system (Krasnaya Nadezhda – “Red Hope”), apparently to intercept a British and Japanese raiding force against the Russians in retaliation for their incursion in Kyokko Bijin.

The American intervention was a startling one, given the distance of their closest base at Vega (Alpha Lyra) some thirty light-years away.  But during the recent Xi Scorpio and Scorpion’s Tail Wars, Task Force Oriskany has built a record of incredibly fast superluminal jumps, their ships apparently fitted with heavily-upgraded Darkstar drives.  Thus, when the British heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon (escorted by the destroyer HMS Sheffield), alongside the Japanese light cruiser Sendai Byo (escorted by the frigates Urakaze and Sakito) emerged from their Darkstar waves in the outer protoplanetary debris field of the Russian-held 72 Hercules system, they found the much smaller American force just arriving as well, along with a Russian K-56 class torpedo corvette.  The two forces will meet at Molodoy Burunduk (Baby Chipmunk), a Mars-sized planet far out on the outer fringe of the 72 Hercules system.

Given that the British and Japanese (known as the “Renkei Alliance”) launched this operation as a raid, and that the Japanese cannot fully commit to a “hit and stay” assault with Russian cruiser somewhere in their own Kyokko Bijin system, and that the Americans are clearly defending someone else’s star system, this wasn’t a terribly hard-fought action by either side.  While we are informed that losses on both sides were relatively light, and that fighting was generally cautious, reserved, and measured, it was a major action nonetheless, especially since it heralds the entry of the United States into the war.

The Hercules Crisis is over.  The Third Hercules War has begun.

Americans and Russians: @oriskany
British: @damon
Japanese: @rasmus
Played: Saturday, October 26, 2019

Engagement 02: Interdiction of Cruiser Raid, Molodoy Burunduk (Baby Chipmunk), Kranaya Nadhezda system (72 Hercules), 15 November 2520

The Americans are outweighed here by as much as three-to-one.  Task Force Oriskany has no ship heavier than 48,000 tons (the three Valcour-class destroyers USS Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge), along with the Buford-class light carrier USS Tarawa (technically a USMC planetary assault ship) and the torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish.  The “Renkei Alliance” force is headed up by the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon, backed up by the light cruiser IJN Senai Byo, destroyer HMS Sheffield, and frigates IJN Urakaze and IJN Sakito.  But what the Americans have is experience and a huge number of upgrades.  These are veteran ships and crews, the Marine fighter group aboard the Tarawa is among the best in Known Space (VMSA-309, the Tigersharks).  But can that experience and those upgrades really overcome such a vastly more powerful force?  The planet is measured out to be Mars-sized (radius 19 hexes = diameter of 6800 kilometers).  Usual gravity rules apply.The Americans are outweighed here by as much as three-to-one. Task Force Oriskany has no ship heavier than 48,000 tons (the three Valcour-class destroyers USS Oriskany, Princeton, and Valley Forge), along with the Buford-class light carrier USS Tarawa (technically a USMC planetary assault ship) and the torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish. The “Renkei Alliance” force is headed up by the Trafalgar class heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon, backed up by the light cruiser IJN Senai Byo, destroyer HMS Sheffield, and frigates IJN Urakaze and IJN Sakito. But what the Americans have is experience and a huge number of upgrades. These are veteran ships and crews, the Marine fighter group aboard the Tarawa is among the best in Known Space (VMSA-309, the Tigersharks). But can that experience and those upgrades really overcome such a vastly more powerful force? The planet is measured out to be Mars-sized (radius 19 hexes = diameter of 6800 kilometers). Usual gravity rules apply.
Both sides make their approach.  The Americans come on incredibly fast, determined to make the most of their smaller ships’ advantages in speed and maneuverability.  The Marine fighters launch from the Tarawa, while all American and Russian ships release a full frontal spread of Mk 48 and P-500 torpedoes.  The small guns of the Japanese frigates cannot reach the Americans, while the Agamemnon, Sendai Byo, and Sheffield try to ping at the Tarawa with long-ranged weapons.  Almost everything misses, however, thanks to powerfully-upgraded ECM and gravitic shielding.Both sides make their approach. The Americans come on incredibly fast, determined to make the most of their smaller ships’ advantages in speed and maneuverability. The Marine fighters launch from the Tarawa, while all American and Russian ships release a full frontal spread of Mk 48 and P-500 torpedoes. The small guns of the Japanese frigates cannot reach the Americans, while the Agamemnon, Sendai Byo, and Sheffield try to ping at the Tarawa with long-ranged weapons. Almost everything misses, however, thanks to powerfully-upgraded ECM and gravitic shielding.
The British and Japanese S-Turn away from the Americans trying to keep their distance where their accurate (and heavier guns) will prove more of an advantage.  They’re also hoping to knock out at least one American or Russian ship to thin out that incoming wave of torpedoes.  The Tarawa has now finished launching her Marine strike group, “Avenger” bombers and “Corsair” fighters howling in behind the Mk 48s and P-500s.  The Americans continue to snake further around the British and Japanese flank, clearly hoping for attacks on vulnerable engines and reactors, and to perhaps force the British and Japanese to turn TOWARDS the planet to engage them.  This is always a dangerous move, as a loss of power means the ship is a death-dive toward the planet’s surface.  That said, the Americans must also be careful now that the Japanese and British are beginning to maneuver among the debris field of this dwarf planet’s failed moon. The British and Japanese S-Turn away from the Americans trying to keep their distance where their accurate (and heavier guns) will prove more of an advantage. They’re also hoping to knock out at least one American or Russian ship to thin out that incoming wave of torpedoes. The Tarawa has now finished launching her Marine strike group, “Avenger” bombers and “Corsair” fighters howling in behind the Mk 48s and P-500s. The Americans continue to snake further around the British and Japanese flank, clearly hoping for attacks on vulnerable engines and reactors, and to perhaps force the British and Japanese to turn TOWARDS the planet to engage them. This is always a dangerous move, as a loss of power means the ship is a death-dive toward the planet’s surface. That said, the Americans must also be careful now that the Japanese and British are beginning to maneuver among the debris field of this dwarf planet’s failed moon.
Turn Three, where the Americans finally pounce.  With a sharp turn to starboard, they make high speed straight toward the Japanese and British.  Their torpedoes make their terminal attack runs at the heavy cruiser Agamemnon, but there’s a crucial flaw in the attack.  The slower Russian torpedoes are JUST out of the required range to attack the STERN of the Agamemnon, and instead hit the cruiser’s starboard quarter.  This lack of coordination means that the combined torpedo strike isn’t quite enough to destroy the Agamemnon’s engineering sections and cripple the ship, even with the Marine bomber and fighter missile strike.  That said, the Agamemnon is GRAVELY damaged, losing two sensor suites and almost blinded.  The Japanese and British, meanwhile, pour a complete broadside into the USS Oriskany at just 1800 kilometers, every single gun on all five ships opening fire on one target.  Although the bridge and forward magazine is hit, “The Lady O” does not lose power.  Casualties are heavy, however, and Captain Matthew Spencer is compelled to order his legendary ship to break off the action.  Turn Three, where the Americans finally pounce. With a sharp turn to starboard, they make high speed straight toward the Japanese and British. Their torpedoes make their terminal attack runs at the heavy cruiser Agamemnon, but there’s a crucial flaw in the attack. The slower Russian torpedoes are JUST out of the required range to attack the STERN of the Agamemnon, and instead hit the cruiser’s starboard quarter. This lack of coordination means that the combined torpedo strike isn’t quite enough to destroy the Agamemnon’s engineering sections and cripple the ship, even with the Marine bomber and fighter missile strike. That said, the Agamemnon is GRAVELY damaged, losing two sensor suites and almost blinded. The Japanese and British, meanwhile, pour a complete broadside into the USS Oriskany at just 1800 kilometers, every single gun on all five ships opening fire on one target. Although the bridge and forward magazine is hit, “The Lady O” does not lose power. Casualties are heavy, however, and Captain Matthew Spencer is compelled to order his legendary ship to break off the action.
Spencer realizes now that he’s missed his first and best chance to win this battle.  With just three destroyers, there’s no way he can win in a gunnery duel with a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, a destroyer, and two frigates.  As Oriskany heaves out of harm’s way, the Valley Forge and Princeton move to cover her.  Daggerfish and K-109 sling out more torpedoes, hoping that just maybe a second torpedo strike just might cripple the Amagemnon.  The Tarawa, however, has taken damage to her maneuvering thrusters in the opening Renkei fusillade … and cannot match the rest of the task force’s turn … not at this speed.  She’s thus forced to break off the action in a different direction, but isn’t quite fast enough.  Japanese Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes hit her astern and devastate her engines and power reactors, crippling her instantly.  Her “Tigershark” Marine fighters exact a small measure of payback, their chain guns and autolasers actually crippling the frigate Sakito.  The second wave of American and Russian torpedoes again slam into the Agamemnon, but again she survives.    Spencer realizes now that he’s missed his first and best chance to win this battle. With just three destroyers, there’s no way he can win in a gunnery duel with a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, a destroyer, and two frigates. As Oriskany heaves out of harm’s way, the Valley Forge and Princeton move to cover her. Daggerfish and K-109 sling out more torpedoes, hoping that just maybe a second torpedo strike just might cripple the Amagemnon. The Tarawa, however, has taken damage to her maneuvering thrusters in the opening Renkei fusillade … and cannot match the rest of the task force’s turn … not at this speed. She’s thus forced to break off the action in a different direction, but isn’t quite fast enough. Japanese Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes hit her astern and devastate her engines and power reactors, crippling her instantly. Her “Tigershark” Marine fighters exact a small measure of payback, their chain guns and autolasers actually crippling the frigate Sakito. The second wave of American and Russian torpedoes again slam into the Agamemnon, but again she survives.
The Oriskany makes flank speed and races out of the battle area, using the planet’s gravity to assist her speed.  She’s lost forward shields, even a single hit from a Ki-45 torpedo could end the ship forever.  The rest of the fleet breaks off as well, after Spencer makes the grueling and difficult decision against an all-or-nothing gunnery and torpedo strike against the Agamemnon’s injured starboard quarter (they can’t hit her stern directly because her captain Lord Edward Cavendish) has screened his engines with proto-lunar debris directly astern).  There’s a despairing attempt by the Marine fighters to “shoot down” IJN Urakaze, but their commander doesn’t realize that Urakaze has no forward shields and so attacks the stern.  No appreciable damage is done.  The Americans have LOST this battle, with two seemingly small but critical errors that largely threw away their edge in expertise and upgraded ships … instead making this a slugging match of weight against weight, a contest they could never win.  For their part, the British and Japanese fought a cautious, reserved, and measured battle, using angles, distance, patience, and asteroid debris to negate American advantages in maneuverability.  The Oriskany makes flank speed and races out of the battle area, using the planet’s gravity to assist her speed. She’s lost forward shields, even a single hit from a Ki-45 torpedo could end the ship forever. The rest of the fleet breaks off as well, after Spencer makes the grueling and difficult decision against an all-or-nothing gunnery and torpedo strike against the Agamemnon’s injured starboard quarter (they can’t hit her stern directly because her captain Lord Edward Cavendish) has screened his engines with proto-lunar debris directly astern). There’s a despairing attempt by the Marine fighters to “shoot down” IJN Urakaze, but their commander doesn’t realize that Urakaze has no forward shields and so attacks the stern. No appreciable damage is done. The Americans have LOST this battle, with two seemingly small but critical errors that largely threw away their edge in expertise and upgraded ships … instead making this a slugging match of weight against weight, a contest they could never win. For their part, the British and Japanese fought a cautious, reserved, and measured battle, using angles, distance, patience, and asteroid debris to negate American advantages in maneuverability.
Here are the Warships Record Sheets (WRS) of the Marine carrier USS Tarawa (left) and the USS Oriskany (right).  You can see where the Tarawa took the brunt of the Japanese and British cruiser fire on her starboard bow, then a fusillade of Ki-45 torpedoes astern.  Then we have the Oriskany, who took every gun in the Renkei force … and at pretty close range as well.  It’s amazing these ships didn’t explode, but again these ships have heavily upgraded ECM, gravitic shielding, and enhanced electronic warfare suites.  At the end of the day they’re “just” destroyers, they’re just insanely fast, wicked accurate, and almost stealthy enough to serve as Romulan warbirds.  :D  I’m hoping this comparison also shows how ships can survive a LOT of damage (Oriskany remained operational), or be crippled by just a little.  It’s all about WHERE the damage hits, and what systems go down.  This means that tabletop tactics in range, angles, movement, and planning are crucial, as well as longer-term forethought when designing the warships themselves.Here are the Warships Record Sheets (WRS) of the Marine carrier USS Tarawa (left) and the USS Oriskany (right). You can see where the Tarawa took the brunt of the Japanese and British cruiser fire on her starboard bow, then a fusillade of Ki-45 torpedoes astern. Then we have the Oriskany, who took every gun in the Renkei force … and at pretty close range as well. It’s amazing these ships didn’t explode, but again these ships have heavily upgraded ECM, gravitic shielding, and enhanced electronic warfare suites. At the end of the day they’re “just” destroyers, they’re just insanely fast, wicked accurate, and almost stealthy enough to serve as Romulan warbirds. :D I’m hoping this comparison also shows how ships can survive a LOT of damage (Oriskany remained operational), or be crippled by just a little. It’s all about WHERE the damage hits, and what systems go down. This means that tabletop tactics in range, angles, movement, and planning are crucial, as well as longer-term forethought when designing the warships themselves.
The mighty Agamemnon, where it took the full torpedo might of the Russo-American force … three times.  Critically, however, note where the damage is on two sides.  The first big slam on the starboard quarter is because the Russian torpedoes were just too far away to hit full astern along with the Americans.  Put that starboard quarter damage on the aft facing instead, and this game is a shattering American victory.  The second big pasting on the starboard quarter came when Damon maneuvered his cruiser to where I couldn’t get at his stern thanks to asteroids, timely turns, and distance.  Then we have the K-56 torpedo corvette K-109, crippled by the pin-point guns on Rasmus’ light cruiser Sendai Byo.  Of course, corvettes are murderously hard to hit, but once you do, it doesn’t take much because they’re so small.The mighty Agamemnon, where it took the full torpedo might of the Russo-American force … three times. Critically, however, note where the damage is on two sides. The first big slam on the starboard quarter is because the Russian torpedoes were just too far away to hit full astern along with the Americans. Put that starboard quarter damage on the aft facing instead, and this game is a shattering American victory. The second big pasting on the starboard quarter came when Damon maneuvered his cruiser to where I couldn’t get at his stern thanks to asteroids, timely turns, and distance. Then we have the K-56 torpedo corvette K-109, crippled by the pin-point guns on Rasmus’ light cruiser Sendai Byo. Of course, corvettes are murderously hard to hit, but once you do, it doesn’t take much because they’re so small.
The two Japanese frigates.  As if the Russo-American torpedo strike wasn’t a bad enough mistake on my part (if I’d waited until Turn 4 with that ordinance strike, I would’ve won hands down) … I then screwed up again on Turn 5 by forgetting that the Urakaze had NO FORWARD SHIELDS for that fighter strafing mission!  Just three boxes of damage would have hit the bridge and crippled the ship in a miniature recreation of INS Executor’s end in Episode VI ROTJ.  But even if I’d done this, the Americans still lose overall 113 to 61, a 13% victory.   So this wouldn’t have changed the overall result, but it still bugs me when I make blatant rules mistakes like this.The two Japanese frigates. As if the Russo-American torpedo strike wasn’t a bad enough mistake on my part (if I’d waited until Turn 4 with that ordinance strike, I would’ve won hands down) … I then screwed up again on Turn 5 by forgetting that the Urakaze had NO FORWARD SHIELDS for that fighter strafing mission! Just three boxes of damage would have hit the bridge and crippled the ship in a miniature recreation of INS Executor’s end in Episode VI ROTJ. But even if I’d done this, the Americans still lose overall 113 to 61, a 13% victory. So this wouldn’t have changed the overall result, but it still bugs me when I make blatant rules mistakes like this.
So UNLIKE PREVIOUS Darkstar games, this is part of a FULL CAMPAIGN we are tracking with actual astrophysical data, locations of all ships, damage / status of ships, superluminal transit times, and communication times.   There is no FTL comm in the Darkstar ‘verse, remember – courier ships only, which admittedly travel at x1000 c, but that’s still days or weeks between some of these star systems.  So Damon and Rasmus have won in 72 Hercules.  They can either choose to remain in that system with the ships they have (ships that are NOT crippled can make repairs where they are, crippled ships must return to port and make repairs there).  The risks are: My Russian fleet (admittedly reduced) is still lurking  in the outer ice belt of Rasmus’ Zeta Hercules system where we won previously.  And we calculated the transit times and the repair times for Task Force Oriskany, and even with the Tarawa crippled, we can be fully assembled back at Alpha Lyra (Vega) in 26 days.  (just 8 days to cross 30 light years … yes, these Americans are THAT fast), +12 internal damage boxes on USS Tarawa (x1.5 because she is CRIPPLED) = 8 + 18 = 26 days.  And both Hawking’s Star and the Outer Hebrides are RIGHT THERE within easy striking distance of Vega.  So Rasmus and Damon agree to take their win and pull out, back to Zeta Hercules and Outer Hebrides, respectively.  As for the Russians, I left their decision to the dice (as I’m also campaign referee, I want to avoid meta-gaming).  They rolled to pull the Admiral Lazarev cruiser group out of Zeta Hercules, given the new threat directly in Krasnaya Nadhezda.  Remember how slow information transits between these star systems.  All my Russians in Zeta Hercules know is that there’s been a raid in their home system and the Americans failed to stop it.  By the time they hear that the British and Japanese have pulled OUT of 72 Hercules, the Russians are probably on their way back to redress the situation. So UNLIKE PREVIOUS Darkstar games, this is part of a FULL CAMPAIGN we are tracking with actual astrophysical data, locations of all ships, damage / status of ships, superluminal transit times, and communication times. There is no FTL comm in the Darkstar ‘verse, remember – courier ships only, which admittedly travel at x1000 c, but that’s still days or weeks between some of these star systems. So Damon and Rasmus have won in 72 Hercules. They can either choose to remain in that system with the ships they have (ships that are NOT crippled can make repairs where they are, crippled ships must return to port and make repairs there). The risks are: My Russian fleet (admittedly reduced) is still lurking in the outer ice belt of Rasmus’ Zeta Hercules system where we won previously. And we calculated the transit times and the repair times for Task Force Oriskany, and even with the Tarawa crippled, we can be fully assembled back at Alpha Lyra (Vega) in 26 days. (just 8 days to cross 30 light years … yes, these Americans are THAT fast), +12 internal damage boxes on USS Tarawa (x1.5 because she is CRIPPLED) = 8 + 18 = 26 days. And both Hawking’s Star and the Outer Hebrides are RIGHT THERE within easy striking distance of Vega. So Rasmus and Damon agree to take their win and pull out, back to Zeta Hercules and Outer Hebrides, respectively. As for the Russians, I left their decision to the dice (as I’m also campaign referee, I want to avoid meta-gaming). They rolled to pull the Admiral Lazarev cruiser group out of Zeta Hercules, given the new threat directly in Krasnaya Nadhezda. Remember how slow information transits between these star systems. All my Russians in Zeta Hercules know is that there’s been a raid in their home system and the Americans failed to stop it. By the time they hear that the British and Japanese have pulled OUT of 72 Hercules, the Russians are probably on their way back to redress the situation.

Task Force Kama

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 7
9 Comments

There are written up by community member @rasmus.  I added some quick graphics in the back, but these are his writings for the officers and warships in the task force he’s been playing in the Duchess Annabel’s War and the Third Hercules War.

Clicking on each slide might help with the text, depending on your screen size.

Task Force Kama
Task Force Kama

Community Participation - Damon's Writeups For His Task Force

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
18 Comments

There are written up by community member @damon.  I added some quick graphics in the back, but these are his writings for the officers and warships in the task force he’s been playing in the Duchess Annabel’s War and the Third Hercules War.

Clicking on each slide might help with the text, depending on your screen size.

Community Participation - Damon's Writeups For His Task Force
Community Participation - Damon's Writeups For His Task Force
Community Participation - Damon's Writeups For His Task Force

Third Hercules War Officially Underway!

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
8 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:30 SOL GMT, 22 OCTOBER 2520
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

This advisory communique is hereby issued from the United Nations Communications and Liaisons Administration (UNCLA), Hercules Strategic Command Sector (SCS), to the offices of all colonial and regional governors, senior ambassadors, and national-level adjutants (level NG-21 and above) as previously specified as CLEARANCE level contacts by the secretaries and ministers listed as AUTHORIZED for such communication materials, as recorded on file by this office.

A shipping and superluminal courier advisory is now in effect for star systems within the Hercules SCS, ranging in radial Sol distance of 7-20 parsecs (22.82 to 65.2 light years).  BE ADVISED A STATE OF CRISIS now exists for planetary systems, colonies, automated shipping lanes, and interstellar medium for the space prescribed and enclosed by parameters outlined above.

Eight days ago, an incident occurred in the outer protoplanetary debris disc of the Zeta Hercules star system involving naval and aerospace units of the Navies of the HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE, the EMPIRE OF JAPAN, and the CONSORTIUM OF INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE AND DEVELOPMENT (Corporate Consortium).  Reports of this incident, which took place some 7.4 parsecs from this office, is only now being reported, and details are far from complete.  At this hour, all this office can confirm with certainty is that heavy weapons fire was exchanged between these forces, resulting in significant loss of life and damage to property.

Negotiations between the parties involved are presently underway here at the Almacor Colonial Offices for the United Nations, Hercules SCS Regional Branch, at Redemption Colony (99 Hercules).  Updates will be passed to authorized national-level offices as events develop.

In the meantime, the United Nations urges and advises with all gravity that military commanders under each nation’s respective naval commands be contacted with all possible speed.  The value of caution and forbearance at this critical juncture cannot be overstated if a general STATE OF WAR is to be avoided.

>>>>

Such was the communique sent by automated FTL drone to all the governments and military command centers in the Hercules Strategic Command Sector, dated 22 October 2520.  Of course, even with 12-magnitude Darkstar waves, some colonies wouldn’t get this message for 10-12 days.  Such is the travel times across these distances even at x1000c.  In any event, by then it was too late.  News of the initial battle had already spread, and decisions had already been made.  The THIRD HERCULES WAR was on.

The .pdf attached to this project thread in a previous post already outlines the background and recent history of this region, describing the steadily building tension between the United States, the Holy Russian Empire, and the Indian Republic on one side, and the United Kingdom, Japan, the Corporate Consortium on the other.  The powder keg was set.  Saturday’s battle between myself, @gladesrunner, and @rasmus is the spark that blew it up.

In short, this is the beginning of a new Darkstar campaign, which we hope you will enjoy looking through, perhaps following, or even joining in!

Engagement 01: Meeting Skirmish in Outer Ice Belt, Kyokko Bijin (Zeta Hercules), 14 October 2520

The green circle marks the location of our first battle.  A United Nations envoy ship was on its way from Redemption back to Sol.  Along the way, it stopped just outside the Zeta Hercules system in order to download new navigation data from the network of satellites, drones, and beacons that every colonized star system has deployed for this purpose.  All these star systems are moving in relation to each other, after all, and for safe and efficient Darkstar waves, incredibly-detailed navigation data must be constantly updated into each ship’s computers.  Thus, most of the safer, more mundane civilian and commercial shipping lanes pass through as many star systems as possible.  The green circle marks the location of our first battle. A United Nations envoy ship was on its way from Redemption back to Sol. Along the way, it stopped just outside the Zeta Hercules system in order to download new navigation data from the network of satellites, drones, and beacons that every colonized star system has deployed for this purpose. All these star systems are moving in relation to each other, after all, and for safe and efficient Darkstar waves, incredibly-detailed navigation data must be constantly updated into each ship’s computers. Thus, most of the safer, more mundane civilian and commercial shipping lanes pass through as many star systems as possible.
Ironically, it was this need for navigational safety that got the SS Serendipity into navigational trouble, striking an asteroid in the outer ice belt of the Zeta Hercules star system, taking enough damage that she had to eject her starboard reactors to avoid a catastrophic overload.  Now adrift in the weak gravity of this ice belt dwarf planet (1800 kilometers across, about three-quarters the diameter of Pluto), she dropped universal rescue beacons (URBs), asking for help.  Well, help arrived all right.  Mostly from the Japanese (Zeta Hercules is their system, after all), but also from a roving cruiser squadron of the Holy Russian Empire and a destroyer-blockade runner element of the militarized “maritime security consultant branch” of the Cignis Corporation.  As the three task forces close, the Japanese continue to warn off the Russians and Corporates, warning them that Kyokko Bijin is Japanese sovereign territory.  A flight of Japanese B7N “Tenrai” (Heavenly Thunder) bombers joins the cruiser force from a nearby system patrol station.  Meanwhile, the Russians and Corporates counter that the URBs deployed by SS Serendipty, a UN-flagged vessel, makes this an international call for help.  What both sides really want, of course, is to take credit for rescuing the UN ship, thus lending legitimacy for their ongoing claims in the escalating Hercules crisis.  Strike that, what they REALLY want is a fight.  Both sides feel they can sweep in quickly, smash up a few enemy ships, and streak back out again, claiming an early lead in the new Third Hercules War.Ironically, it was this need for navigational safety that got the SS Serendipity into navigational trouble, striking an asteroid in the outer ice belt of the Zeta Hercules star system, taking enough damage that she had to eject her starboard reactors to avoid a catastrophic overload. Now adrift in the weak gravity of this ice belt dwarf planet (1800 kilometers across, about three-quarters the diameter of Pluto), she dropped universal rescue beacons (URBs), asking for help. Well, help arrived all right. Mostly from the Japanese (Zeta Hercules is their system, after all), but also from a roving cruiser squadron of the Holy Russian Empire and a destroyer-blockade runner element of the militarized “maritime security consultant branch” of the Cignis Corporation. As the three task forces close, the Japanese continue to warn off the Russians and Corporates, warning them that Kyokko Bijin is Japanese sovereign territory. A flight of Japanese B7N “Tenrai” (Heavenly Thunder) bombers joins the cruiser force from a nearby system patrol station. Meanwhile, the Russians and Corporates counter that the URBs deployed by SS Serendipty, a UN-flagged vessel, makes this an international call for help. What both sides really want, of course, is to take credit for rescuing the UN ship, thus lending legitimacy for their ongoing claims in the escalating Hercules crisis. Strike that, what they REALLY want is a fight. Both sides feel they can sweep in quickly, smash up a few enemy ships, and streak back out again, claiming an early lead in the new Third Hercules War.
Both sides make their approach.  The Russians set the pace for their side, barreling into the combat area at the very high speed of 36 kilometers per second.  The Japanese set the more reserved speed of 24 kps, anxious as always to keep the range long for their cruisers mounting hyper-accurate  and long-ranged guns.  Russians, conversely, like to get close, firing blistering jets of plasma at near point-blank range.  Note how the Russian commander, Captain Piotr Fedorovich Myshaga, carefully keeps an asteroid field between his approach vector and the Japanese. Thus the Japanese can only fire on the Cignis destroyer CMS Corinth, and her advanced ECM suites and gravitic shielding protect from most of that.  True, the Russians can’t fire back right now, but more importantly ... they’re over 2,000 kilometers closer to the Japanese now, and all without taking a whiff of fire.    Both sides make their approach. The Russians set the pace for their side, barreling into the combat area at the very high speed of 36 kilometers per second. The Japanese set the more reserved speed of 24 kps, anxious as always to keep the range long for their cruisers mounting hyper-accurate and long-ranged guns. Russians, conversely, like to get close, firing blistering jets of plasma at near point-blank range. Note how the Russian commander, Captain Piotr Fedorovich Myshaga, carefully keeps an asteroid field between his approach vector and the Japanese. Thus the Japanese can only fire on the Cignis destroyer CMS Corinth, and her advanced ECM suites and gravitic shielding protect from most of that. True, the Russians can’t fire back right now, but more importantly ... they’re over 2,000 kilometers closer to the Japanese now, and all without taking a whiff of fire.
Weaving through the asteroid fields trailing behind the dwarf planet’s orbital path, the Russians make a sharp hook to starboard and again cut straight toward the Japanese.  Again, note Myshaga’s positioning.  By placing himself between the Japanese and the dwarf planet, he forces the Japanese to turn dangerously toward the planet to engage him.  Any Russian fire now coming at the Japanese is that much more dangerous, as crippled or disabled ships run the risk of collision with the planetoid.  Also, Myshaga has consulted with his corporate ally, Vice-President Ike Karus, and they decided to make their initial attack with torpedoes rather than broadside gunnery.  Thus, the Russians point their port and starboard bow arcs toward the Japanese, rather than their beams.    Yet even at this distance, the guns of the Japanese cruisers are dangerous, and heavy lasers, EPCs, and syglex emitters (x-ray “lasers” focused through intense gravitic lensing) open jagged slashes in Russian and Corporate ships.  This is especially true since ALL guns of the Japanese strike frigates Urakaze and Sakita are mounted forward, as well as most of the guns of the heavy cruiser Kama (her guns arranged in a “Pacific” configuration, in three triple turrets with two turrets forward and only one aft).  The light cruiser Admiral Lazarev takes the worst of it, how bow torn clean open and her forward shields gone.  Yet the Russians and especially the Cignis ships score heavy blows on the little Japanese strike frigate Urakaze, the precise lasers of the Corinth drilling deep into the bow and setting off the magazine and hitting the bridge.  Already one ship is down, the IJN Urakaze the first official “casualty” of the Third Hercules War.  Weaving through the asteroid fields trailing behind the dwarf planet’s orbital path, the Russians make a sharp hook to starboard and again cut straight toward the Japanese. Again, note Myshaga’s positioning. By placing himself between the Japanese and the dwarf planet, he forces the Japanese to turn dangerously toward the planet to engage him. Any Russian fire now coming at the Japanese is that much more dangerous, as crippled or disabled ships run the risk of collision with the planetoid. Also, Myshaga has consulted with his corporate ally, Vice-President Ike Karus, and they decided to make their initial attack with torpedoes rather than broadside gunnery. Thus, the Russians point their port and starboard bow arcs toward the Japanese, rather than their beams. Yet even at this distance, the guns of the Japanese cruisers are dangerous, and heavy lasers, EPCs, and syglex emitters (x-ray “lasers” focused through intense gravitic lensing) open jagged slashes in Russian and Corporate ships. This is especially true since ALL guns of the Japanese strike frigates Urakaze and Sakita are mounted forward, as well as most of the guns of the heavy cruiser Kama (her guns arranged in a “Pacific” configuration, in three triple turrets with two turrets forward and only one aft). The light cruiser Admiral Lazarev takes the worst of it, how bow torn clean open and her forward shields gone. Yet the Russians and especially the Cignis ships score heavy blows on the little Japanese strike frigate Urakaze, the precise lasers of the Corinth drilling deep into the bow and setting off the magazine and hitting the bridge. Already one ship is down, the IJN Urakaze the first official “casualty” of the Third Hercules War.
The Kama lunges for the Russians, hoping to cross their T with a devastating broadside.  Myshaga sees the move and veers to port, then cutting hard to starboard.  His destroyers CPK (Svyatoy Russki Korabl, Holy Russian Ship) Syekyra and Rusalka execute the maneuver perfectly, cutting their starboard broadsides behind the huge heavy cruiser Kama.  Myshaga’s flagship CPK Admiral Lazarev  moves to follow suit (with no forward shields, he knows his ship is about to be crippled, but resolves to take the larger IJN Kama with him), but has to veer further behind the Kama to avoid a collision with the oncoming strike frigate IJN Sakita.  The light cruiser IJN Sendai Byo cuts in behind the Russian destroyers, escorted by the veteran destroyer IJN Kikasa, only to have the destroyer Corinth and blockade runner Aurora cut in behind THEM ... only to have the Japanese bombers launch a torpedo spread behind THEM.  One way or another, this “skirmish” is about to become a knife fight of gruesome proportions.The Kama lunges for the Russians, hoping to cross their T with a devastating broadside. Myshaga sees the move and veers to port, then cutting hard to starboard. His destroyers CPK (Svyatoy Russki Korabl, Holy Russian Ship) Syekyra and Rusalka execute the maneuver perfectly, cutting their starboard broadsides behind the huge heavy cruiser Kama. Myshaga’s flagship CPK Admiral Lazarev moves to follow suit (with no forward shields, he knows his ship is about to be crippled, but resolves to take the larger IJN Kama with him), but has to veer further behind the Kama to avoid a collision with the oncoming strike frigate IJN Sakita. The light cruiser IJN Sendai Byo cuts in behind the Russian destroyers, escorted by the veteran destroyer IJN Kikasa, only to have the destroyer Corinth and blockade runner Aurora cut in behind THEM ... only to have the Japanese bombers launch a torpedo spread behind THEM. One way or another, this “skirmish” is about to become a knife fight of gruesome proportions.
Okay, to get a better view on what’s actually happening here, I have blown up the hexes through which all these ships are all moving, and in what directions, at the crucial moment.  Please remember these hexes are 180 kilometers across, a turn is one minute of time, and one hex of movement is thus 3 kilometers per second.  The ships themselves are still massively oversized, usually 1 or 1.5 kilometers long at most. SO ... what happens here?  First, the Japanese spread of Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes almost all are shot down.  But three hit the unshielded bow of the Lazarev.  And these are “Class V” Ki-45s, some of the deadliest torpedoes in Known Space.  All three hit internal compartments (all the forward armor is already gone) ... but amazingly, the Lazarev’s bridge remains unstruck ... and the ship retains power.  Casualties are heavy, however, and Myshaga is compelled to break off the action ... once he’s released his own withering broadside into the stern of the Kama.  At this range ... Russian plasma projectors are just damned terrifying.  The stern of the 150,000 ton Kama is simply melted off.  Even as the Lazarev reels away, half her crew now killed, wounded, fighting fires, or trying to shore up bulkheads against chain-reaction decompressions, the forward guns of the Syekyra fire into the onrushing strike frigate Sakita (her aft guns firing into the Sendai Byo).  The Satika is crippled by the Syekyra’s 40-kg plasma projectors, herself crippled an instant later when the Kama fires back with her huge aft batteries of 18-teravolt EPCs (electron particle cannons).  As the Syekyra is left spiraling out of control through space, the Rusalka’s forward guns fire into the Kama, finally inflicting enough damage to cripple the massive Japanese ship.  Rusalka’s aft guns fire into the Sendai, even as the Sendai and the escorting Kikasa fires its forward guns into the Rusalka and cripples her as well.  Russian P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes strike into the hull of the Sendai Byo ... 17 were shot down but 9 hit the shields, three into the hull.  Sendai’s portside engine is blown completely apart, opening her up to a hail of laser and syglex fire from the Corinth.  Just that fast, the Sendai goes dark as well.  The rest of the Corinth’s guns, together with the Aurora, fire into the Kikasa.  The Kikasa hits the Aurora through the bridge, even as the Corinth (badly damaged) finally crippled Kikasa as well.  Finally, the torpedoes fired from the Japanese bombers slam into the stern of the Corinth, which is likewise crippled.  Sixty seconds, eight ships.  Welcome to the Third Hercules War.   Okay, to get a better view on what’s actually happening here, I have blown up the hexes through which all these ships are all moving, and in what directions, at the crucial moment. Please remember these hexes are 180 kilometers across, a turn is one minute of time, and one hex of movement is thus 3 kilometers per second. The ships themselves are still massively oversized, usually 1 or 1.5 kilometers long at most. SO ... what happens here? First, the Japanese spread of Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes almost all are shot down. But three hit the unshielded bow of the Lazarev. And these are “Class V” Ki-45s, some of the deadliest torpedoes in Known Space. All three hit internal compartments (all the forward armor is already gone) ... but amazingly, the Lazarev’s bridge remains unstruck ... and the ship retains power. Casualties are heavy, however, and Myshaga is compelled to break off the action ... once he’s released his own withering broadside into the stern of the Kama. At this range ... Russian plasma projectors are just damned terrifying. The stern of the 150,000 ton Kama is simply melted off. Even as the Lazarev reels away, half her crew now killed, wounded, fighting fires, or trying to shore up bulkheads against chain-reaction decompressions, the forward guns of the Syekyra fire into the onrushing strike frigate Sakita (her aft guns firing into the Sendai Byo). The Satika is crippled by the Syekyra’s 40-kg plasma projectors, herself crippled an instant later when the Kama fires back with her huge aft batteries of 18-teravolt EPCs (electron particle cannons). As the Syekyra is left spiraling out of control through space, the Rusalka’s forward guns fire into the Kama, finally inflicting enough damage to cripple the massive Japanese ship. Rusalka’s aft guns fire into the Sendai, even as the Sendai and the escorting Kikasa fires its forward guns into the Rusalka and cripples her as well. Russian P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes strike into the hull of the Sendai Byo ... 17 were shot down but 9 hit the shields, three into the hull. Sendai’s portside engine is blown completely apart, opening her up to a hail of laser and syglex fire from the Corinth. Just that fast, the Sendai goes dark as well. The rest of the Corinth’s guns, together with the Aurora, fire into the Kikasa. The Kikasa hits the Aurora through the bridge, even as the Corinth (badly damaged) finally crippled Kikasa as well. Finally, the torpedoes fired from the Japanese bombers slam into the stern of the Corinth, which is likewise crippled. Sixty seconds, eight ships. Welcome to the Third Hercules War.
Here are the warship record sheets for the Japanese cruisers, the Kama and the Sendai Byo.  In all, only 8 Japanese bombers remain (two were shot down by Russian and Cignis scouts), and the Russian flagship Admiral Lazarev, although she’s been forced to break off the action.  But since she still has power, she counts as “operational” and so the Japanese only get half points for her in this raid.  The score is 339 to 291, a 16% victory to the Russians and Corporates.  Needless to say, no one’s going to be continuing hostilities now, everyone is full-bore into rescue and recovery efforts.  But when news of this incident spreads, the war will officially be on.  Here are the warship record sheets for the Japanese cruisers, the Kama and the Sendai Byo. In all, only 8 Japanese bombers remain (two were shot down by Russian and Cignis scouts), and the Russian flagship Admiral Lazarev, although she’s been forced to break off the action. But since she still has power, she counts as “operational” and so the Japanese only get half points for her in this raid. The score is 339 to 291, a 16% victory to the Russians and Corporates. Needless to say, no one’s going to be continuing hostilities now, everyone is full-bore into rescue and recovery efforts. But when news of this incident spreads, the war will officially be on.
The warship record sheets of the Russian destroyers Syekyra (left) and Rusalka (right).  The Americans will be “outraged” at this Japanese aggression, the British will maintain that the Americans are using this pretext to lean into the Hercules Rim from their Vega colony in the neighboring Lyra constellation.  As the British and Japanese close ranks, the Americans will cry foul at the continuing Anglo-Japanese shipping and trade monopolies in the Hercules Rim, thus cementing their alliance with the nervous Russians and Consortium.  The Americans will also enlist the aid of the Indian Republic, having promised them VERY generous shipping rights through Vega back to earth from the Indian colony at Bhogavati (HD 176051) in return for support against the British at Hawking’s Star and the Outer Herbrides. The warship record sheets of the Russian destroyers Syekyra (left) and Rusalka (right). The Americans will be “outraged” at this Japanese aggression, the British will maintain that the Americans are using this pretext to lean into the Hercules Rim from their Vega colony in the neighboring Lyra constellation. As the British and Japanese close ranks, the Americans will cry foul at the continuing Anglo-Japanese shipping and trade monopolies in the Hercules Rim, thus cementing their alliance with the nervous Russians and Consortium. The Americans will also enlist the aid of the Indian Republic, having promised them VERY generous shipping rights through Vega back to earth from the Indian colony at Bhogavati (HD 176051) in return for support against the British at Hawking’s Star and the Outer Herbrides.
The Cignis destroyer Corinth and blockade runner (fast frigate) Aurora.  In general, the Consortium likes to stay out of wars, but when they’re involved in one, they tend to pick the weaker side, if not from a military standpoint, at least a commercial one.  The last thing they want is sectors of space dominated by monolithic national monopolies, like the one the British and Japanese are setting up along the Hercules Rim.  The more “open” they can keep the shipping lanes and colonial development zones, the more free they are to do business and the happier their shareholders are.  The Cignis destroyer Corinth and blockade runner (fast frigate) Aurora. In general, the Consortium likes to stay out of wars, but when they’re involved in one, they tend to pick the weaker side, if not from a military standpoint, at least a commercial one. The last thing they want is sectors of space dominated by monolithic national monopolies, like the one the British and Japanese are setting up along the Hercules Rim. The more “open” they can keep the shipping lanes and colonial development zones, the more free they are to do business and the happier their shareholders are.

New Community Campaign - Third Hercules War

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 7
8 Comments

Well, it’s official.  Today is the “soft launch” of the new Darkstar Campaign.  So far we have four players, but more are always welcome!

We’re also starting a new thread, after the old one hit 127 entries, 3500+ recommendations, and 600+ comments, and was honestly getting a little unwieldy.

So here are the first campaign maps and background write up for the new Third Hercules War campaign.  I hope you’ll enjoy following our progress, and as always, ping the thread if you feel like joining in sometime!

 

New Community Campaign - Third Hercules War
New Community Campaign - Third Hercules War
New Community Campaign - Third Hercules War

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