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Fear the Wolfpack!

Fear the Wolfpack!

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Project Blog by oriskany

Recommendations: 145

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 four 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 serious wargamer, with a "Newtonian Physics" movement system, rules for astrophysical objects and phenomena, gravity, and of course dizzying amounts of 26th-century firepower. 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 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!

This Project is Active

Fear the Wolfpack!

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
1 Comment

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 5
Skill 4
Idea 4
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
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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

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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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