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Darkstar Returns

Darkstar Returns

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Project Blog by oriskany Cult of Games Member

Recommendations: 918

About the Project

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

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

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

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

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Damon + Gladesrunner v. Oriskany

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
5 Comments

Last Saturday, myself, Damon, and Jennifer had a game of Darkstar.  No big story arc, no campaign background.  Just a fun smash-em-up with some of our favorite ships.   Now, since so many of our “favorite ships” have been upgraded to the point of madness, this means that even a game with a relatively small ship count will be very heavy in points, as upgrades to your ships and command crew naturally increase the point cost of your vessel.

So this was a big one, a 772-point Darkstar game that would up taking about 5.5 hours once we got going.

Damon and Jenn (@gladesrunner) teamed up as the British.  I took a force of my favorite Russians and Americans, with one huge Russian battlecruiser to balance the points.

 

BRITISH FORCE:

TASK FORCE “A” (Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish)

Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon

Relentless-class light cruiser HMS Retribution

Falklands-class destroyer HMS Sheffield (ISLE upgrade)

 

TASK FORCE “K” (Commodore Rhea Aubrey)

Iron Duke-class heavy cruiser HMS Kraken

Inflexible-class light cruiser HMS Inflictor

 

RUSSO-AMERICAN FORCE:

Kirov-class battlecruiser CPK Potemkin

Kutuzov-class light cruiser CPK Admiral Lazarev

 

San Antonio-class light cruiser USS Northampton

Valcour-class destroyer USS Oriskany (FRAM-I upgrade)

 

RAID Victory Conditions

Here is the match up.  The big boy on the table is of course the battlecruiser Potemkin (basically a “fast” battleship).  But don’t be fooled, even as 322 points she has to watch out for the 202-point heavy cruisers Agamemnon and Kraken.  The light cruisers are running 140-170 ... and even the destroyers Sheffield an Oriskany have been upgraded to borderline absurd levels (98 and 130 points, respectively).  This is a clash of some of the best on offer from the respective navies. Here is the match up. The big boy on the table is of course the battlecruiser Potemkin (basically a “fast” battleship). But don’t be fooled, even as 322 points she has to watch out for the 202-point heavy cruisers Agamemnon and Kraken. The light cruisers are running 140-170 ... and even the destroyers Sheffield an Oriskany have been upgraded to borderline absurd levels (98 and 130 points, respectively). This is a clash of some of the best on offer from the respective navies.
The British largely lose initiative on the initial approaches, setting up a vector away from the planet at speeds ranging from 24-30 kilometers per second (8-10 hexes).  The Russians and Americans come on even faster, running at 33 kps, using the planet’s gravity for a slight velocity assist, all while leaning on the retros to decelerate to 24 kps.  This will allow the least maneuverable ship in their fleet, the Potemkin, to make a facing change next turn.  The Americans and Russians are also clearly seizing the “gravity gauge” – putting themselves between the enemy and the planet.  This serves two purposes, it helps decelerate to battle speed when we turn away from the planet toward the enemy, and it forces the enemy to turn TOWARD the planet to engage us.  This means they’re running the risk of planetary collisions if they lose power due to battle damage.  On the other hand, it also gives the British the first big broadside of the game, which they open fire on the USS Oriskany at about 5400 kilometers, which the Oriskany weathers passably well due to her heavily-upgraded shielding, except for an early hit on her maneuvering thrusters (ouch).  On the OTHER hand, all forward arcs on the Russian and Americans hips are presenting near-full torpedo spreads at the British.  Watch out.  The electronic warfare stations on the British bridges all just exploded with a swarm of red lights.  The British largely lose initiative on the initial approaches, setting up a vector away from the planet at speeds ranging from 24-30 kilometers per second (8-10 hexes). The Russians and Americans come on even faster, running at 33 kps, using the planet’s gravity for a slight velocity assist, all while leaning on the retros to decelerate to 24 kps. This will allow the least maneuverable ship in their fleet, the Potemkin, to make a facing change next turn. The Americans and Russians are also clearly seizing the “gravity gauge” – putting themselves between the enemy and the planet. This serves two purposes, it helps decelerate to battle speed when we turn away from the planet toward the enemy, and it forces the enemy to turn TOWARD the planet to engage us. This means they’re running the risk of planetary collisions if they lose power due to battle damage. On the other hand, it also gives the British the first big broadside of the game, which they open fire on the USS Oriskany at about 5400 kilometers, which the Oriskany weathers passably well due to her heavily-upgraded shielding, except for an early hit on her maneuvering thrusters (ouch). On the OTHER hand, all forward arcs on the Russian and Americans hips are presenting near-full torpedo spreads at the British. Watch out. The electronic warfare stations on the British bridges all just exploded with a swarm of red lights.
Lord Commodore Cavendish comes full about to present another broadside, again hammering the USS Oriskany (now presenting a different facing with even heavier shielding).  The Americans also give the British a broadside, along with the heavy forward 25-teravolt EPCs and 12-gigawatt rail guns of the Potemkin.  The British light cruiser Inflictor takes the worst of it, if only because her shielding is SLIGHTLY less than the rest of the British ships, and Commodore Rhea Aubrey has taken her two ships just a little bit closer to the Russian and American guns.Lord Commodore Cavendish comes full about to present another broadside, again hammering the USS Oriskany (now presenting a different facing with even heavier shielding). The Americans also give the British a broadside, along with the heavy forward 25-teravolt EPCs and 12-gigawatt rail guns of the Potemkin. The British light cruiser Inflictor takes the worst of it, if only because her shielding is SLIGHTLY less than the rest of the British ships, and Commodore Rhea Aubrey has taken her two ships just a little bit closer to the Russian and American guns.
The Potemkin has finally slowed to the point where she can make more than one facing change per turn, but as a battleship, she usually loses initiative so the British cruisers have can stay out of her full broadside.  To do so they must dive toward the planet, but they’re engines have been upgraded (and their captains are managing their velocity and momentum) to the point where this is little trouble.  It does leave Cruiser Squadron “K” a little isolated from Cruiser Squadron “A”, a fact of which the Russians and Americans take full advantage with a devastating torpedo strike on HMS Inflictor.  This, plus a barrage of gunfire that hits Inflictor’s bridge (light cruiser USS Northampton scores the “killing” blow), knocks the ship out of the battle.  The British, meanwhile, concentrate their broadsides (Cruiser Squadron A) and forward guns (Cruiser Squadron K) on the Potemkin, and do horrific damage to her starboard quarter ... but this is a battleship.  There’s a LOT of armor and internal components to dig through.  Core damage is done to Potemkin’s medical bay, but the crew holds it together for now.The Potemkin has finally slowed to the point where she can make more than one facing change per turn, but as a battleship, she usually loses initiative so the British cruisers have can stay out of her full broadside. To do so they must dive toward the planet, but they’re engines have been upgraded (and their captains are managing their velocity and momentum) to the point where this is little trouble. It does leave Cruiser Squadron “K” a little isolated from Cruiser Squadron “A”, a fact of which the Russians and Americans take full advantage with a devastating torpedo strike on HMS Inflictor. This, plus a barrage of gunfire that hits Inflictor’s bridge (light cruiser USS Northampton scores the “killing” blow), knocks the ship out of the battle. The British, meanwhile, concentrate their broadsides (Cruiser Squadron A) and forward guns (Cruiser Squadron K) on the Potemkin, and do horrific damage to her starboard quarter ... but this is a battleship. There’s a LOT of armor and internal components to dig through. Core damage is done to Potemkin’s medical bay, but the crew holds it together for now.
Turn 4, and things get desperate.  While the Inflictor careens out of control and the Cruiser Squadron A pivots for another broadside on the Potemkin.  Bad news for the British, the Potemkin has rolled on her back (this is SPACE, after all) and is now presenting her PORT quarter to the British guns ... at least until HMS Kraken dives at the Potemkin to exchange point-blank broadsides with the gigantic Russian battlecruiser’s STARBOARD quarter.  It’s a suicidal move, Commodore Aubrey just hopes she can trade her ship for the Potemkin and get the British back in this fight.  Point-blank cannonades are changed ... but incredibly, both the Potemkin and the Kraken SURVIVE these volleys!  The Kraken survives in large part due to her “Resolute Crew” upgrade, where her engineering crew makes the roll required to mitigate the damage in reactors and engines and keep the Kraken from losing power.    Russian and American torpedo strikes go for the HMS Sheffield.  The British scout planes rush in to help defend the Sheffield, only to be swept from the stars by the merciless mass driver fire from the Potemkin (yes they are close enough ... barely).  The Lazarev and Northampton fire on the Sheffield as well, but it’s USS Oriskany that gets the “killing blow” on the British destroyer.Turn 4, and things get desperate. While the Inflictor careens out of control and the Cruiser Squadron A pivots for another broadside on the Potemkin. Bad news for the British, the Potemkin has rolled on her back (this is SPACE, after all) and is now presenting her PORT quarter to the British guns ... at least until HMS Kraken dives at the Potemkin to exchange point-blank broadsides with the gigantic Russian battlecruiser’s STARBOARD quarter. It’s a suicidal move, Commodore Aubrey just hopes she can trade her ship for the Potemkin and get the British back in this fight. Point-blank cannonades are changed ... but incredibly, both the Potemkin and the Kraken SURVIVE these volleys! The Kraken survives in large part due to her “Resolute Crew” upgrade, where her engineering crew makes the roll required to mitigate the damage in reactors and engines and keep the Kraken from losing power. Russian and American torpedo strikes go for the HMS Sheffield. The British scout planes rush in to help defend the Sheffield, only to be swept from the stars by the merciless mass driver fire from the Potemkin (yes they are close enough ... barely). The Lazarev and Northampton fire on the Sheffield as well, but it’s USS Oriskany that gets the “killing blow” on the British destroyer.
Now horrifically damaged on both port and starboard quarters, the battlecruiser Potemkin is raising best possible steam to escape the table under her own power.  This game is set for RAID victory conditions, remember.  If she makes it off under her own power, she yields no victory points to the British.  The Lazarev, Northampton, and Oriskany try to cover her fantail as best they can.  The British oblige, now shifting fire to the Northampton and blowing her starboard quarter almost clean off (note she is also inverted in space).  The Kraken hobbles away from her toe-to-toe slugging match with a battleship almost here times her size, hammered by ANOTHER mass torpedo spread, which again she somehow survives.Now horrifically damaged on both port and starboard quarters, the battlecruiser Potemkin is raising best possible steam to escape the table under her own power. This game is set for RAID victory conditions, remember. If she makes it off under her own power, she yields no victory points to the British. The Lazarev, Northampton, and Oriskany try to cover her fantail as best they can. The British oblige, now shifting fire to the Northampton and blowing her starboard quarter almost clean off (note she is also inverted in space). The Kraken hobbles away from her toe-to-toe slugging match with a battleship almost here times her size, hammered by ANOTHER mass torpedo spread, which again she somehow survives.
Raid games always end on Turn 6 ... (Rule 5.2.2) and the Russians and Americans take full advantage.  The Potempkin can ALMOST make it off the table, but not quite.  Still, with the range re-opened to 4000 kilometers and presenting a fully-armored and shielded fantail, she’s more or less free and clear.  The American light cruiser Northampton is swifter, and wisely escapes the table before she can be finished off.  This does have two unfortunate side effects, it nullifies Northampton’s last torpedo strike, and leaves USS Oriskany to suffer the vengeance of the British warships.  While the Lazarev and Oriskany put yet another volley of torpedoes and gunnery into the Kraken (the Lazarev making a point-blank run at the Kraken), FINALLY putting down this ship (Resolute Crew is the only thing that saves her from outright DETONATION), the British put their last broadsides (and frutrations) into the USS Oriskany, which goes down with an laser hit to the bridge from HMS Retribution.  Meanwhile, the Kraken is crippled, but not before doing enough damage to the Lazarev that she is FORCES to break off (half victory points).  Thus the game shakes out as a Russo-American win, 432-205. (+227 margin, or 29% of the original 772 point total)  Raid games always end on Turn 6 ... (Rule 5.2.2) and the Russians and Americans take full advantage. The Potempkin can ALMOST make it off the table, but not quite. Still, with the range re-opened to 4000 kilometers and presenting a fully-armored and shielded fantail, she’s more or less free and clear. The American light cruiser Northampton is swifter, and wisely escapes the table before she can be finished off. This does have two unfortunate side effects, it nullifies Northampton’s last torpedo strike, and leaves USS Oriskany to suffer the vengeance of the British warships. While the Lazarev and Oriskany put yet another volley of torpedoes and gunnery into the Kraken (the Lazarev making a point-blank run at the Kraken), FINALLY putting down this ship (Resolute Crew is the only thing that saves her from outright DETONATION), the British put their last broadsides (and frutrations) into the USS Oriskany, which goes down with an laser hit to the bridge from HMS Retribution. Meanwhile, the Kraken is crippled, but not before doing enough damage to the Lazarev that she is FORCES to break off (half victory points). Thus the game shakes out as a Russo-American win, 432-205. (+227 margin, or 29% of the original 772 point total)
The incredible amount of damage suffered by HMS Kraken.  The incredible amount of damage suffered by HMS Kraken.
The terrible damage done to battlecruiser Potemkin.  Note the 5+ notation at lower right ... the British COULD’VE won the battle if that d6 cripple number had been a 5+.  But they rolled a 2.  Had they scored that cripple, that’s +320 points to their score and an instant win.  The British were also robbed on an 3+ cripple check on Admiral Lazarev.  While they did make some mistakes in dividing their fleet against Russo-American torpedo strikes, the dice really were also against the British as well.  In short, I think this game was a lot closer than the score would suggest.The terrible damage done to battlecruiser Potemkin. Note the 5+ notation at lower right ... the British COULD’VE won the battle if that d6 cripple number had been a 5+. But they rolled a 2. Had they scored that cripple, that’s +320 points to their score and an instant win. The British were also robbed on an 3+ cripple check on Admiral Lazarev. While they did make some mistakes in dividing their fleet against Russo-American torpedo strikes, the dice really were also against the British as well. In short, I think this game was a lot closer than the score would suggest.

Last Battle of the Third Hercules War

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 7
11 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
17:10 SOL GMT, 13 JUNE 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: BATTLE OF MISHA’S WINDFALL (72 Hercules-A, 119 Delta)

The climactic campaign of the Third Hercules War continues, with a joint British, Arab League, and Japanese invasion of the Holy Russian Empire “Krasnaya Nadhezda” (Red Hope) colonies in the 72 Hercules system.  The Russians are the last major power holding out against the “Renkei Alliance” between the British, Arab League, and Japanese, and 72 Hercules is their last major stronghold here along the Hercules Rim.  Finally, after months of preparation, buildup, and coordination, often disrupted by Russian spoiling attacks, counter-invasions, and political maneuver, the Renkei invasion of 72 Hercules is underway.

The 72 Hercules system is a trinary system, with a yellow main sequence star (72 Hercules A), an orange dwarf and a red dwarf (72 Hercules B and C) orbiting around a common gravimetric barycenter.  Although defense and industrial installations exist in 72 Hercules B and C, the main center of the Krasnaya Nadhezda colonies are rooted in 72 Hercules A.

Just over 24 hours ago, the British spearheaded the initial thrust of this invasion, with the Agamemnon cruiser-carrier fleet cracking Russian defenses along the outermost orbital belts of 72 Hercules A.  The assault was a bloody one, with heavy damage inflicted on the Agamemnon squadron, while the defending Russian Admiral Lazarev cruiser task force was effectively destroyed.  What remained of Russian defenses here was the massive “Goryzhont Stanstsiya” (Horizon Station), a naval support and defense facility the British hoped to use as a beachhead for expanded deployments deeper into the inner orbital zones of the 72 Hercules system.

But the British never subdued or took Horizon Station, only destroying its protective cruiser task force and than “laying siege” to the installation.  The British outgun Horizon Station, and the installation’s eventual fall is assured … assuming no reinforcements reach the station.

The only problem is, reinforcements are now on the way – and the Russians are not kidding around, either.  With an enemy foothold now in their primary Hercules colony, their allies long gone, the Duma screaming for an end to this war, and even the Holy Patriarch of Muscovy petitioning the Czar to end hostilities … their time has run out.  The Holy Russian Navy has one last chance to redress the situation, and the time is now.

Fortunately for the Russians, they believe they finally have the tools to mount an effective frontal counterstrike.  Escorted by the veteran heavy cruiser Tatiana Mikhailevna and strike carrier Novorossysk, the Russian task force is built around the Kirov­-class battlecruiser CPK Potemkin.  With upgraded Darkstar drives, this “light” battleship has covered the distance from the larger Russian colony group at Psi Serpentis C – a high-speed voyage from the Psi Serpentis Strategic Command Sector of about 45 light-years covered by the Potempkin covered in just under two months.  Accordingly, Potemkin has made it here long before the larger, full-dreadnought Peter the Great class battleship from the core colonies of the Holy Russian Empire.  Originally she was intended to spearhead a more concerted Russian counter-invasion of the Outer Hebrides or Khaizan’s Haven, but the Russians have clearly run out of time.

The Russian task force sorties from the Red Hope colony at the heart of 72 Hercules A, their mission to engage the British cruisers at Horizon Station and lift the siege.  One of their navigational waypoints is the moon of an outer ice giant, 72 Hercules 119 Delta.  More colorfully nicknamed “Misha’s Windfall,” this tiny moon is being bombarded with debris torn by gravitational tidal forces off an asteroid that Russian industrialists have tugged into a fatally-close orbit.  As shards of asteroids the size of small countries smash into the surface of Misha’s Haven, the moon’s rotation pulls the impact zones an orbital industrial station, which has an easy time mining through the metals, silicates, and even glacial ice hurled up as impact ejecta.

This leads to a very curious battlespace, with two small moons in terribly close (and very unstable) proximity and cascading sheets of debris.  The Russians though the hazardous nature of Misha’s Windfall would make it the last place intercepting ships would look for the Potemkin battlegroup.

They were wrong.  For the Potemkin has indeed been located, and has now been intercepted by converging vectors of two smaller task forces.  These are Task Force Mutamid (Captain Rashid abd-al Maghrebi) of the Arab League Navy, and Task Force Kama under Captain Seizo Yamamoto.  The Mutamid task force in particular has been heavily upgraded after their recent victories at Khaizan’s Haven, and now includes no less than three Almanzor class light hybrid cruisers.  The largest allied ship is of course the heavy cruiser Kama, her massive 18-teravolt EPCs suddenly overshadowed by the Potempkin’s 25-teravolt mass drivers . . . and 12-gigawatt rail guns.  At 347,000 tons, Potempkin outweighs any other ship engaged by 2:1, but the Japanese and Arab League in turn outnumber the Russians by the same factor.  The League also brings a powerful aerospace group from their three Almanzor class cruisers . . . fighters and bombers that will be hardpressed to make a dent in Potempkin’s gigantic point-defense systems or double rack of torpedo tubes . . . of twenty tubes each.

The Battle at Misha’s Windfall will be one for the ages.  For the Russians, this is their last chance.  If they lose here, they are out of the war and as the last power of the Coalition of Eagles . . . that’s the end of the Third Hercules War in general.  The Japanese and Arab League also want a win here, hoping for vindication after some stinging defeats, even their victories have been overshadowed by the British.

Can the Japanese and Arab League score the win that finally ends the Third Hercules War?

JAPANESE: Rasmus
ARAB LEAGUE: Muakhah
HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE: Oriskany
RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (568 points)

The current disposition of the Third Hercules War.  Not only is 72 Hercules (Krasnaya Nadhezda) being assault from three sides, but the British now have a lodgment in 72 Hercules A’s outer debris belt and have a major Russian installation there under siege.  A massive relief force, built around a newly-arrived Kirov-class battlecruiser, is on its way to lift the siege and eject the British.  But that relief force has now been intercepted by two converging task forces of Arab and Japanese warships.  If the Russians win, they buy some time and this war continues.  If they lose, it’s over.The current disposition of the Third Hercules War. Not only is 72 Hercules (Krasnaya Nadhezda) being assault from three sides, but the British now have a lodgment in 72 Hercules A’s outer debris belt and have a major Russian installation there under siege. A massive relief force, built around a newly-arrived Kirov-class battlecruiser, is on its way to lift the siege and eject the British. But that relief force has now been intercepted by two converging task forces of Arab and Japanese warships. If the Russians win, they buy some time and this war continues. If they lose, it’s over.
Here we see Misha’s Windfall, where Russian industrialists have tugged an asteroid so close to this small moon of an outer ice giant (72 Hercules A-119) that gravity is tearing the asteroid apart, the impact collisions allowing the Russian station to bring a whole new meaning to the term “colonial strip mining.”  The Russians were hoping this hazardous, out-of-the-way station would make for a good waypoint for the Potemkin task force, but the Japanese and Arab League have caught wind of the ruse and made the intercept.  Both sides use the disintegrating asteroid to mask their initial approach, even if it means setting course straight FOR the debris at a relatively high speed.   Here we see Misha’s Windfall, where Russian industrialists have tugged an asteroid so close to this small moon of an outer ice giant (72 Hercules A-119) that gravity is tearing the asteroid apart, the impact collisions allowing the Russian station to bring a whole new meaning to the term “colonial strip mining.” The Russians were hoping this hazardous, out-of-the-way station would make for a good waypoint for the Potemkin task force, but the Japanese and Arab League have caught wind of the ruse and made the intercept. Both sides use the disintegrating asteroid to mask their initial approach, even if it means setting course straight FOR the debris at a relatively high speed.
The Russians make a standard turn to port, hoping to set up a broadside against the Arabs and Japanese who will ... sooner rather than later ... have to emerge from behind that rubble.  The Renkei Alliance ships prolong that inevitable moment as long as possible, making crash turns to starboard only at the last possible instant before destruction.  The Arab cruisers even accelerate while making this move, but the safety it offers is momentary at best.  Even as both sides avoid the asteroid and its surrounding debris, they’re only diving towards the methane glaciers of Misha’s Windfall itself.  Both fleets are also keeping a close formation in order to offer best mass driver defense, either against swarms of Arab League aerospace strikes, or clouds of Russian P-500 torpedoes. The Russians make a standard turn to port, hoping to set up a broadside against the Arabs and Japanese who will ... sooner rather than later ... have to emerge from behind that rubble. The Renkei Alliance ships prolong that inevitable moment as long as possible, making crash turns to starboard only at the last possible instant before destruction. The Arab cruisers even accelerate while making this move, but the safety it offers is momentary at best. Even as both sides avoid the asteroid and its surrounding debris, they’re only diving towards the methane glaciers of Misha’s Windfall itself. Both fleets are also keeping a close formation in order to offer best mass driver defense, either against swarms of Arab League aerospace strikes, or clouds of Russian P-500 torpedoes.
There are times in Darkstar where the battle is a chess game, a careful and well-coordinated match of ploy vs. counter-ploy, the killing advantage delivered through subtle, crucial factors rarely evident until it’s just too late.  This is not one of those times.  This damned near turns into a full-on demolition derby.  The Russian cruiser Tatiana Mikhailevna loses initiative and has to move first, so she pulls a wide bend to starboard to open the range and cross the enemy’s T as they emerge from behind the asteroid debris.  The Kama is next, which moves to perfect broadside range and position against the Tatiana.  The battlecruiser Potemkin, seeing the largest enemy ship on the table, lunges forward to deliver what should be a killing counterstroke against the much-smaller Kama, a POINT-BLANK BATTLESHIP broadside.  Yet even with the gunfire support from the Tatiana, AMAZINGLY the Kama survives.  Sure, the whole bow of a 150,000 ton heavy cruiser is basically blown OFF, but the Russians don’t hit the bridge and she’s technically still operational.  Meanwhile the light cruisers Sendai Byo and Taliq ibn Zayid stomp the gas and cut straight across the Potemkin’s stern, a VERY risky move since they are closing with a battleship at point blank range while pointing DIRECTLY at a moon (lose power = collision and total loss of ship).  The little strike frigate Urakaze won’t be undone, cutting behind the Potemkin and turning straight toward her stern (Akashi-class strike frigates have ALL their weapons mounted forward), rather like a terrier biting the ass of a bear.  But even with these three point-blank, full-size volleys delivered directly aft (not to mention the outmatched but still devastating point-blank broadside from the Kama against Potemkin’s starboard bow), Potempkin still remains operational, releasing a hideous swarm of torpedoes to hit next turn.  Fighters and bombers from the Novorossysk don’t do very well, nor to the mass fighter and bomber strike from the hybrid cruisers Mutamid, Sulayman, and Zayid.  The Mutamid and Sulayman do score a significant success, however, as they slash behind the stern of the Tatiana and in a single combined broadside, blow her engine and reactors clean out of her hull.  Indeed, no only to they cripple the Slava-class cruiser, they damned near blow her up.  There are times in Darkstar where the battle is a chess game, a careful and well-coordinated match of ploy vs. counter-ploy, the killing advantage delivered through subtle, crucial factors rarely evident until it’s just too late. This is not one of those times. This damned near turns into a full-on demolition derby. The Russian cruiser Tatiana Mikhailevna loses initiative and has to move first, so she pulls a wide bend to starboard to open the range and cross the enemy’s T as they emerge from behind the asteroid debris. The Kama is next, which moves to perfect broadside range and position against the Tatiana. The battlecruiser Potemkin, seeing the largest enemy ship on the table, lunges forward to deliver what should be a killing counterstroke against the much-smaller Kama, a POINT-BLANK BATTLESHIP broadside. Yet even with the gunfire support from the Tatiana, AMAZINGLY the Kama survives. Sure, the whole bow of a 150,000 ton heavy cruiser is basically blown OFF, but the Russians don’t hit the bridge and she’s technically still operational. Meanwhile the light cruisers Sendai Byo and Taliq ibn Zayid stomp the gas and cut straight across the Potemkin’s stern, a VERY risky move since they are closing with a battleship at point blank range while pointing DIRECTLY at a moon (lose power = collision and total loss of ship). The little strike frigate Urakaze won’t be undone, cutting behind the Potemkin and turning straight toward her stern (Akashi-class strike frigates have ALL their weapons mounted forward), rather like a terrier biting the ass of a bear. But even with these three point-blank, full-size volleys delivered directly aft (not to mention the outmatched but still devastating point-blank broadside from the Kama against Potemkin’s starboard bow), Potempkin still remains operational, releasing a hideous swarm of torpedoes to hit next turn. Fighters and bombers from the Novorossysk don’t do very well, nor to the mass fighter and bomber strike from the hybrid cruisers Mutamid, Sulayman, and Zayid. The Mutamid and Sulayman do score a significant success, however, as they slash behind the stern of the Tatiana and in a single combined broadside, blow her engine and reactors clean out of her hull. Indeed, no only to they cripple the Slava-class cruiser, they damned near blow her up.
The Potemkin heaves away from the Misha’s Windfall, unable to do much more than that with her current speed and limited maneuverability (she’s a “fast” battleship, but still a “battleship”).  The Kama also raises maximum steam to disengage, she’s still “operational” but positively mangled in her brief, unpleasant encounter with the Potemkin.  But she doesn’t get very far, mounded by a massive wave of Russian torpedoes targeting her collapsed starboard bow shielding.  Despite waves of these P-500 warheads being shot down by Arab League “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters and the Kama’s own mass drivers, two torpedoes hit the bridge and cripple the ship AT LAST.  It should be noted that Kama took most of the Russian firepower for two complete turns, when really one turn should have been enough to leave her crippled.  That one extra turn free of MOST Russian firepower (bought at such a dear price) is what allows the rest of the Arab-Japanese forcer to maneuver behind the Potempkin.  The Urakaze is positively blown inside out (crew losses would approach 100%, except for her “Resilient Crew” upgrade) but the rest of the fleet hemmers into the engines and reactors of the Potempkin, finally knocking down the gigantic Russian battlecruiser.The Potemkin heaves away from the Misha’s Windfall, unable to do much more than that with her current speed and limited maneuverability (she’s a “fast” battleship, but still a “battleship”). The Kama also raises maximum steam to disengage, she’s still “operational” but positively mangled in her brief, unpleasant encounter with the Potemkin. But she doesn’t get very far, mounded by a massive wave of Russian torpedoes targeting her collapsed starboard bow shielding. Despite waves of these P-500 warheads being shot down by Arab League “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters and the Kama’s own mass drivers, two torpedoes hit the bridge and cripple the ship AT LAST. It should be noted that Kama took most of the Russian firepower for two complete turns, when really one turn should have been enough to leave her crippled. That one extra turn free of MOST Russian firepower (bought at such a dear price) is what allows the rest of the Arab-Japanese forcer to maneuver behind the Potempkin. The Urakaze is positively blown inside out (crew losses would approach 100%, except for her “Resilient Crew” upgrade) but the rest of the fleet hemmers into the engines and reactors of the Potempkin, finally knocking down the gigantic Russian battlecruiser.
The Novorossysk, last Russian ship on the table, has recovered the surviving Russian fighters and bombers, and now raises maximum steam to escape the table. The Russians and Arab League let her go, their victory here is clearly decisive and instead turn to rescue and recovery efforts.  Although a stunning victory, crew losses aboard the Kama and Urakaze have been extreme.  Both ships will be repaired and EVENTUALLY see service again, but especially for the Kama, the road to recovery will be a long one.  But she’ll have time to be repaired in peace ... because with this Russian defeat, Red Hope colonial administrators put out a call for a cease fire.  The Third Hercules War is over.The Novorossysk, last Russian ship on the table, has recovered the surviving Russian fighters and bombers, and now raises maximum steam to escape the table. The Russians and Arab League let her go, their victory here is clearly decisive and instead turn to rescue and recovery efforts. Although a stunning victory, crew losses aboard the Kama and Urakaze have been extreme. Both ships will be repaired and EVENTUALLY see service again, but especially for the Kama, the road to recovery will be a long one. But she’ll have time to be repaired in peace ... because with this Russian defeat, Red Hope colonial administrators put out a call for a cease fire. The Third Hercules War is over.
Here is the Warship Record Sheet (WRS) for the CPK Potemkin. You can see where the cruisers Sendai Byo, Mutamid, Sulayman, and Zayid (along with the last fusillade from the valiant little Urakaze) have completely burned out her engineering sections.  Exactly nineteen “red boxes” have been checked off, leaving Rasmus and Muakhah with a “0+” chance to cripple on a d6.  That’s a pretty easy roll to make.  In fact, one more and Potemkin could have exploded, and an exploding battleship is something you want no part of.  Meanwhile, only one gray “core box” has been hit (where most of the crew actually are while at “general quarters” action stations in a battle).  So Potemkin’s crew losses are probably something like 3.33% (say 13 killed and 40 wounded).  In some ways, this makes the crippling of Potemkin ... nearly “perfect.” Here is the Warship Record Sheet (WRS) for the CPK Potemkin. You can see where the cruisers Sendai Byo, Mutamid, Sulayman, and Zayid (along with the last fusillade from the valiant little Urakaze) have completely burned out her engineering sections. Exactly nineteen “red boxes” have been checked off, leaving Rasmus and Muakhah with a “0+” chance to cripple on a d6. That’s a pretty easy roll to make. In fact, one more and Potemkin could have exploded, and an exploding battleship is something you want no part of. Meanwhile, only one gray “core box” has been hit (where most of the crew actually are while at “general quarters” action stations in a battle). So Potemkin’s crew losses are probably something like 3.33% (say 13 killed and 40 wounded). In some ways, this makes the crippling of Potemkin ... nearly “perfect.”
Not so much with the Kama and especially Urakaze.  Kama’s taken 10 out of 18 crew boxes hit, putting her losses closer to 55%.  Out of a crew of 684 officer and men, that’s 94 killed and 284 wounded.  Urazake would be even worse (the little 27,400-ton frigate carrying only 121 officers and men).  In fact casualties would be total, except she has the “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade, allowing crew casualties (and % break off chance) to be halved.  So figure 15 killed and 45 wounded.  Suffice it to say that Japan has earned herself a slice of the winnings in 72 Hercules and 99 Hercules (Redemption UN Mandate).  By contrast, the Arab League ships were not even FIRED UPON.  But they knocked out the Tatiana Mikhailevna singlehandedly and delivered MOST of the killing fusillade into the stern of the Potemkin.Not so much with the Kama and especially Urakaze. Kama’s taken 10 out of 18 crew boxes hit, putting her losses closer to 55%. Out of a crew of 684 officer and men, that’s 94 killed and 284 wounded. Urazake would be even worse (the little 27,400-ton frigate carrying only 121 officers and men). In fact casualties would be total, except she has the “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade, allowing crew casualties (and % break off chance) to be halved. So figure 15 killed and 45 wounded. Suffice it to say that Japan has earned herself a slice of the winnings in 72 Hercules and 99 Hercules (Redemption UN Mandate). By contrast, the Arab League ships were not even FIRED UPON. But they knocked out the Tatiana Mikhailevna singlehandedly and delivered MOST of the killing fusillade into the stern of the Potemkin.
So that’s it, folks.  THE THIRD HERCULES WAR IS OVER.  The proof is in the chart above.  I might put out a short retrospective later this week, where we talk about the aftermath who gets what (put your comments below!), what happens with the key commanders (medals, titles, promotions).  Many already shiny have new ships under their command or in their fleets.   MEANWHILE – the Third Hercules War has gone on since mid-October (just over nine months of gaming), creating another year and a half of Darkstar “history” (late 2520 to mid 2522).  GIGANTIC CONGRATULATIONS to all players who stuck with it, all of them pushed all the way through.  Great effort, everyone.  Great campaign, and great games! So that’s it, folks. THE THIRD HERCULES WAR IS OVER. The proof is in the chart above. I might put out a short retrospective later this week, where we talk about the aftermath who gets what (put your comments below!), what happens with the key commanders (medals, titles, promotions). Many already shiny have new ships under their command or in their fleets. MEANWHILE – the Third Hercules War has gone on since mid-October (just over nine months of gaming), creating another year and a half of Darkstar “history” (late 2520 to mid 2522). GIGANTIC CONGRATULATIONS to all players who stuck with it, all of them pushed all the way through. Great effort, everyone. Great campaign, and great games!

New Warships - Falklands-ISLE upgrade and Kirov-class Battlecruiser

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 8
4 Comments

Here are some new warship classes I’ve been working on for Darkstar.

The first is a new upgrade made to the British Falklands class destroyer, much the same way we did for the Valcour class (USS Oriskany) before.

The Falklands has been a fan favorite of the community ever since I brought Darkstar to the OTT community, with at least four players having at least one in their fleets.   At least two players have told me its one of their favorites, and two of them (HMS Sheffield and HMS Burke) are well on their ways to becoming the next “USS Oriskany” – legendary destroyers of the Darkstar ‘verse.  😀

The second ship presented … wait for it … the Russians finally have a battleship.  Technically she’s a battlecruiser, the Kirov class (obvious homage to the Cold War era Kirov class nuclear-powered missile battlecruiser).  This one’s already been upgraded and will now form the core of the Russian force in tomorrow’s game against @rasmus and @muakhah!

New Warships - Falklands-ISLE upgrade and Kirov-class Battlecruiser

When the Falklands class destroyer was first brought into service, many within the Royal Navy doubted the newest “glass cannon” in the fleet.  A personally-sponsored program of the immensely powerful and influential Lord Admiral Nathaniel Byron Annistaire, he pushed the design and construction of these ships after the death of his son Daniel aboard the aging Bristol class destroyer HMS Stamford.  This intense personal attachment, the high cost of the Falklands design, and the lack of any real improvement in shielding, armor, or speed, made many question whether Annistaire’s “pet destroyers” were really worth it.

Sixteen years later, the debate is over.  Since 2504 the Falklands has proven the most capable (and most sought-after) destroyer design in the FTL-era history of the Royal Navy.  An entire spin-off class has been commissioned (the Commonwealth class) and units continue to be produced to this day.  Famous ships of this class include the HMS Burke (Commander Robert Lewis), HMNZS Aotearoa (Commander James Matapaere), HMS Singapore, HMS Dignity and especially HMS Sheffield (Commander Howard Bowen).

Finally the decision was made to prepare this ship for the next two decades of service.  This was the “In-Service Life Extension” program (ISLE), a particularly fitting suffix to the “Falklands” name of the class.  The HMS Sheffield was the first ship selected to undergo the overhaul and refit after completing her tour during the Third Hercules War in mid-2522.  Work started at the Lucy’s Hope shipyards (Hawking’s Star / HR 6806 star system) in August of that year, and completed in January 2523.

The Falklands ISLE program was a comprehensive upgrade of the ship’s protection package, weapons suite, point-defense systems.  Aft shielding was amplified, the gravitic curvature of the generator increased by 20%.  This was an important upgrade, since directly aft is the facing most commonly targeted by enemy torpedo, missile, and aerospace strikes.  The point-defense system was also modernized, with the older, slower-firing 35mm systems upgraded with new Hispano-Vickers 25mm systems, mostly in triple mounts, and double mounts port and starboard.

Offensive systems were also upgraded, with the biggest single improvement coming to the deadly BAE “Sabre” class 75 exohertz syglex emitters (x-ray lasers).  Where the Falklands class formerly mounted two of these weapons (one fore and one aft), the Falklands-ISLE now mounts a double-gun turret.  Redesigned gravitic lenses, optimized power couplings, and redesigned mounting braces have allowed two guns to be twin mounted in an expanded turret ring assembly.  Admittedly this was the most difficult part of the upgrade, requiring the complete restructure of at least six decks of both the fo’c’sle and quarterdeck areas of the ship.  Power relays also had to be greatly expanded from the newly-upgraded Johnston-McAuley Aerospace DT-Fusion engines, not only to the new shielding and mass driver arrays, but especially these oversized new syglex emitters.

Lastly, the torpedo array was expanded from three tubes on the port and starboard bow racks, to four on each rack.

In all, this has resulted in seven new crew aboard, an additional 2300 tons in mass, and 5.5% additional power draw on average.  But the Falklands ISLE class can still pull the same acceleration curve, and make the same 10-mag Darkstar Waves in FTL.

Four ships were eventually selected to undergo this refit.  Only the future can tell whether these upgrades will prove the value of the investment, and if these esteemed destroyers will continue their winning record through the 2520s and beyond.

New Warships - Falklands-ISLE upgrade and Kirov-class Battlecruiser
New Warships - Falklands-ISLE upgrade and Kirov-class Battlecruiser

The Kirov class battlecruiser is a something of an odd design, considered by some to be the “least Russian warship in the Russian navy.”  Indeed, her design choices seem to heavily draw from similar designs of other navies, like the Prussian Scharnhorst class or the British Cross class.  Not quite powerful enough to lock horns with a true battleship but easily capable of breaking heavy cruisers in half, a Kirov battlecruiser trades the firepower of a true dreadnought for additional speed.  The general idea is that this speed will extend cruising and maneuver envelopes beyond the capabilities of likely opponents, allowing a Kirov to choose the angle and time of engagement, the range of fire exchange, and the point of disengagement.  In plainer language: “She can outrun anything she can’t outfight, and outfight anything she can’t outrun.”

This design principle is borne out in the weapons systems.  Note she does not have a primary battery and a secondary battery, but two primary batteries.  The 25-teravolt EPCs are admittedly heavier, but not only do they hit harder, but at much longer range than most Russian warships (normally famous for their blistering batteries of short-range, high-yield plasma accelerators).  The Kirov can kill at a distance, something not usually seen in Russian warships.  These are also the forward-weighted mountings (two turrets forward), allowing the approach Kirov to choose the aforementioned range.  Meanwhile, the 12-gigawatt rail guns mount two turrets aft, closer-range weapons clearly meant to defend against smaller, faster cruisers and destroyers looking for a swing around the Kirov’s stern.

In some ways the Kirov is better than its rivals.  While not as fast as the Scharnhorst, the Kirov mounts a far more impression gunnery suite.  That said, it is not as accurate as the Prussian counterpart.  Then again, Russian analysts have seen that dreadnoughts are taken out by massed torpedo attack as often as anything else, and mount a point-defense array of 25mm quad-mounts and 35mm triple mounts that make the Scharnhorst green with envy.  This leads at least one American admiral to comment: “Battlecruiser my ass.  She’s a fast battleship, same as our Colorados.”   He may be correct, except the Kirov also mounts two massive racks of no less than twenty tubes for the P-500 “Plamya” (Plame) torpedo … a weapon for which a Colorado class has no answer.

All that said, the Kirov does have weaknesses.  Like all battlecruisers, she has underpowered guns (compared to a true battleship) and underpowered shielding.  Conversely, although faster than most battleships, she’s slower than any heavy cruiser class in known space.  Accordingly, any Kirov commander has to know that he’s going into battle with a shortcoming that a savvy opponent can exploit.  Also, although impressive in number, the P-500 is painfully slow and highly inaccurate.  Furthermore, the Kirov ship is clearly set up as a “broadside” ship, with all weapons (even the torpedoes) arrayed along the ship’s centerline.  While this allows for great broadside firepower, is also crams the weapons systems and their power, control, ammunition, and crew systems into tightly-compacted compartments within the ship that sometimes lead to cascading systems failures when damaged in combat.  And finally, with a mass of 413,494 tons and crew of almost 1600 officers and men, a Kirov battlecruiser is exorbitantly expensive to build and operate.

In terms of aesthetic, the Kirov’s lines are a combination of sleek yet brutish, streamlined yet bristled, an odd blend of cutting speed somehow combined with hulking intimidation.  In this regard the battlecruisers are something of prestige ships, showing the flag at far-flung colonies and carrying diplomats to high-stakes negotiations.  Clearly the Holy Russian Navy is proud of these vessels, and plans to keep them for decades into the future.

British spearhead the invasion of 72 Hercules - Is the end in sight?

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 7
9 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
17:10 SOL GMT, 12 JUNE 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: BATTLE OF STANTSIYA GORIZONT (Horizon Station, 72 Hercules)

The long-awaited Renkei Alliance invasion of the 72 Hercules trinary star system, spearheaded by the British Royal Navy and supported by the Arab League and Japanese Empire, is finally underway.  This system is home of the “Kransnaya Nadhezda” (Red Hope) colonies, colonial capital of the Holy Russian Empire, last real enemy of the Renkei Alliance in the Third Hercules War.  As such, a successful assault into 72 Hercules and capitulation of Krasnaya Nadhezda is anticipated to at last force the Russians to the negotiation table, put a final end to the so-called “Coalition of Eagles,” and close the Third Hercules War.

So evident is the importance of 72 Hercules, in fact, that the Russians have tried for months to throw every possible obstacle, impediment, and distraction against the mounting of such an invasion.  Division among British allies, spoiling attacks into neighboring star systems, and counter-invasions against the Arab League at the Khaizan’s Haven caliphate, all frantic plays for time while the Russians scrambled to build new defenses or call in reinforcements.

Now the time has come to put said defenses to the test.  The British have finally stabilized their rear at places like 99 Hercules and forced the New Romans out of the war, the Japanese have recovered from defeats at the hands of the Americans, and the Arab League has ejected the Russian beachhead from their Khaizan’s Haven colonies.  All three allied powers are thus poised to invade 72 Hercules, and now that offensive has begun.

The primary terrestrial world of 72 Hercules, Red Hope itself (72 Hercules A/4.1), is protected by a gigantic series of orbital installations.  Given the defensive capabilities of these installations (and the tens of thousands of civilians who live on them), the British Admiralty is hoping for force a decision without a direct assault on Red Hope, sure to be an apocalyptic bloodbath.

Rather, the orders for Task Force Agamemnon (Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish) are to establish a foothold in the outer reaches of 72 Hercules.  The specific target is Gorizont Stantsiya (Horizon Station), a powerful defensive and fleet support base installation in the outer debris disc (i.e., Kuiper Belt) of the largest of the three 72 Hercules stars.  From this base, the British hope to either compel the Russians to come to terms, or stage the next phase of a massive invasion toward the core of this massive triple star system.

Cavendish’s mission is not an easy one.  Gorizont Stantsiya (Horizon Station) is a beast of an installation, with a mass rivaling most battleships, massive quadruple turrets of 15-teravolt EPCs, double turrets of 14-gigawatt rail guns (again the caliber normally found on a battleship), bristling mass driver defenses, and an aerospace strike group rivaling those carried aboard most classes of fleet carrier.  On top of that, it’s protected by the Admiral Lazarev task force, commanded by the veteran Captain Piotr Myshaga (light cruiser Admiral Lazarev, destroyers Syekyra and Rusalka).

Adding still more danger is the battlespace itself, where huge floes of ice, proto-comets, and planetary debris drift in the eternal abyss, detritus left over from the formation of the 72 Hercules star system.  The “Kuiper Belt” of 72 Hercules is thicker than most, probably because the competing gravity of the three 72 Hercules stars preventing the collapse and formation of more outer ice giants or gas giants.  Astrophysics aside, this debris now poses a very real collision hazard for any warships engaged in battle around Horizon Station.  But if the British and their Renkei Alliance partners hope to crack 72 Hercules and finally end this war, they have to start here.

UNITED KINGDOM: Damon
HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE: Oriskany
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (561 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in early June, 2522.  The Russians more or less stand alone - their former allies in the “Coalition of Eagles” (the United States and New Roman Alliance) having been forced out of the war.  The Russians have been playing for time with divisive politics and spoiling attacks, but now at last ... time has run out.  The Japanese, Arab League, and British are all poised for simultaneous assaults into the 72 Hercules star system, home of the Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope) colonies - “capital” of Russian holdings here on the Hercules Rim.  Now the British are spearheading what is hoped to be the final invasion of this conflict.  Is the Third Hercules War finally drawing to a close?The general situation of the Third Hercules War in early June, 2522. The Russians more or less stand alone - their former allies in the “Coalition of Eagles” (the United States and New Roman Alliance) having been forced out of the war. The Russians have been playing for time with divisive politics and spoiling attacks, but now at last ... time has run out. The Japanese, Arab League, and British are all poised for simultaneous assaults into the 72 Hercules star system, home of the Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope) colonies - “capital” of Russian holdings here on the Hercules Rim. Now the British are spearheading what is hoped to be the final invasion of this conflict. Is the Third Hercules War finally drawing to a close?
First, let’s take a terrifying look at the Warships Record Sheet of Horizon Station.  This city in space can serve as the permanent base for a complete task force, or a temporary base for full battle fleet.  It weighs more than some battleships, boasts the 14-gigawatt rail gun battery of a battleship, and carries more fighters and bombers than some fleet carriers.  It mounts shielding that makes most heavy cruisers or even battleships green with envy, and enough mass drivers to make virtually any aerospace or torpedo attack a virtual suicide charge.  The only problem, it doesn’t move.  It’s a helpless stationary target.  If it takes damage to one side, it can’t maneuver, roll to protect its wounds, or even retire.  As Patton allegedly said, “fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man” ... but of course he never had to assault one of these bad boys.First, let’s take a terrifying look at the Warships Record Sheet of Horizon Station. This city in space can serve as the permanent base for a complete task force, or a temporary base for full battle fleet. It weighs more than some battleships, boasts the 14-gigawatt rail gun battery of a battleship, and carries more fighters and bombers than some fleet carriers. It mounts shielding that makes most heavy cruisers or even battleships green with envy, and enough mass drivers to make virtually any aerospace or torpedo attack a virtual suicide charge. The only problem, it doesn’t move. It’s a helpless stationary target. If it takes damage to one side, it can’t maneuver, roll to protect its wounds, or even retire. As Patton allegedly said, “fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man” ... but of course he never had to assault one of these bad boys.
The engagement begins.  The Russian approach is uncharacteristically slow, preferring to stay under the cover of the big guns of Horizon Station.  Usually the Russians, particularly Captain Myshaga, rushes enemy battlegroups at high approach rates, hoping to get his large (but slow) torpedo attacks, EPCs, and especially plasma accelerators right into enemy engines and reactors.  But here, he’s got the disadvantage that two-thirds of his firepower is immobile, so he’ll have to take his time and force the British to come to him.  It doesn’t work, at least initially, as Cavendish instead starts launching his aerospace group in hopes of knocking at least one of Myshaga’s ships down before closing into a more general engagement.  For now both sides fling long-range broadsides at each other’s destroyers, the HMS Sheffield and CPK Syekyra taking the worst of it.The engagement begins. The Russian approach is uncharacteristically slow, preferring to stay under the cover of the big guns of Horizon Station. Usually the Russians, particularly Captain Myshaga, rushes enemy battlegroups at high approach rates, hoping to get his large (but slow) torpedo attacks, EPCs, and especially plasma accelerators right into enemy engines and reactors. But here, he’s got the disadvantage that two-thirds of his firepower is immobile, so he’ll have to take his time and force the British to come to him. It doesn’t work, at least initially, as Cavendish instead starts launching his aerospace group in hopes of knocking at least one of Myshaga’s ships down before closing into a more general engagement. For now both sides fling long-range broadsides at each other’s destroyers, the HMS Sheffield and CPK Syekyra taking the worst of it.
Both sides execute port standard turns, coming about to present starboard bows to each other for closer broadsides delivered at 1600 kilometers.  Cavendish’s stand-off engagement plan isn’t really working ... while his enhanced shielding and electronic warfare suites is making his ships very hard to hit, the sheer weight of Russian firepower is starting to tell.  The HMS Sheffield is hammered wide open but while her skipper (Commander Howard Bowen) maintains power, he’s compelled to break off the engagement.  The Syekyra (Captain Ekaterina Alexyevna Duranov) is also forced to break off, but that massive Russian aerospace strike is now howling in, and the British just don’t have enough mass driver defense to fend of that sheer number of warheads.    Both sides execute port standard turns, coming about to present starboard bows to each other for closer broadsides delivered at 1600 kilometers. Cavendish’s stand-off engagement plan isn’t really working ... while his enhanced shielding and electronic warfare suites is making his ships very hard to hit, the sheer weight of Russian firepower is starting to tell. The HMS Sheffield is hammered wide open but while her skipper (Commander Howard Bowen) maintains power, he’s compelled to break off the engagement. The Syekyra (Captain Ekaterina Alexyevna Duranov) is also forced to break off, but that massive Russian aerospace strike is now howling in, and the British just don’t have enough mass driver defense to fend of that sheer number of warheads.
At last the moment arrives.  Like many Darkstar games, the Battle of Horizon Station comes begins with feints, postures, and maneuvers, until finally coming down to a more or single smash somewhere on the table.  The trick is to influence the conditions of that collision to maximize your strengths while minimizing your shortcomings for best chance of success.  Here, the break almost completely falls in the British favor.  The mass Russian fighter strike on HMS Sheffield (hoping to finish her off so she doesn’t linger in the 72 Hercules Kuiper Belt) is almost a complete failure, especially with her “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade repairing her burning bridge and keeping the ship on her feet long after she should have gone dark.  The even bigger Russian torpedo and missile strike on the stern of the light cruiser HMS Retribution (Captain Helena Seacole) does a little better, but her double-enhanced shielding  and excellent mass driver defense of HMS Vindictive and Agamemnon makes this impact far less lethal than it should have been.  The real disappointment comes with the guns of the station, which practically all miss on HMS Retribution.  The point-blank broadsides of the Rusalka and Admiral Lazarev do far better, but even this Retribution survives.  Myshaga has also made a critical mistake here, throwing away the benefits his “Gunnery Accuracy” and especially “Gunnery Impact” upgrades to close the range to just three hexes, where the forward batteries of HMS Agamemnon and Retribution could tear him apart in return.  He’s ventured out from under the protection of those heavy guns, and pays the price.  The aerospace strike from the carrier HMS Vindictive (Commander Alfred Carpenter), combined with Cavendish’s own gunnery of the Agamemnon, cripples both the Admiral Lazarev and Rusalka.At last the moment arrives. Like many Darkstar games, the Battle of Horizon Station comes begins with feints, postures, and maneuvers, until finally coming down to a more or single smash somewhere on the table. The trick is to influence the conditions of that collision to maximize your strengths while minimizing your shortcomings for best chance of success. Here, the break almost completely falls in the British favor. The mass Russian fighter strike on HMS Sheffield (hoping to finish her off so she doesn’t linger in the 72 Hercules Kuiper Belt) is almost a complete failure, especially with her “Resolute Crew” battle upgrade repairing her burning bridge and keeping the ship on her feet long after she should have gone dark. The even bigger Russian torpedo and missile strike on the stern of the light cruiser HMS Retribution (Captain Helena Seacole) does a little better, but her double-enhanced shielding and excellent mass driver defense of HMS Vindictive and Agamemnon makes this impact far less lethal than it should have been. The real disappointment comes with the guns of the station, which practically all miss on HMS Retribution. The point-blank broadsides of the Rusalka and Admiral Lazarev do far better, but even this Retribution survives. Myshaga has also made a critical mistake here, throwing away the benefits his “Gunnery Accuracy” and especially “Gunnery Impact” upgrades to close the range to just three hexes, where the forward batteries of HMS Agamemnon and Retribution could tear him apart in return. He’s ventured out from under the protection of those heavy guns, and pays the price. The aerospace strike from the carrier HMS Vindictive (Commander Alfred Carpenter), combined with Cavendish’s own gunnery of the Agamemnon, cripples both the Admiral Lazarev and Rusalka.
Now we’re at a curious moment.  With the whole Russian fleet either crippled or driven off, all that remains is the bloody assault on the “castle” of Horizon Station.  But does Cavendish really have to assault the station at all?  Rather, he pivots behind the Kuiper Belt debris so the station cannot hit him.  In game terms, he’s running out the clock.  He has more points on the table than the Russians and so long as the Russians cannot hit him, he wins the game.  The only chances here are if the Russians can launch another aerospace strike to cripple the Retribution ...  Now we’re at a curious moment. With the whole Russian fleet either crippled or driven off, all that remains is the bloody assault on the “castle” of Horizon Station. But does Cavendish really have to assault the station at all? Rather, he pivots behind the Kuiper Belt debris so the station cannot hit him. In game terms, he’s running out the clock. He has more points on the table than the Russians and so long as the Russians cannot hit him, he wins the game. The only chances here are if the Russians can launch another aerospace strike to cripple the Retribution ...
Running the game forward through one more turn, we realize that even this won’t work.  The Russian bombers are only so fast, and by the time they land on Turn 5, rearm on Turn 6, re-launch on Turn 7, and fly back across thousands of kilometers of space to re-engage on Turn 7 or 8, the game will be over (assault games are limited to eight turns).  Even if they did cripple the Retribution, the British still win (although by a more slender margin).  Conversely, A second British aerospace strike will never get through the station’s heavy defenses.  Engaging the station in a gunnery slugging match will probably shake out in a British win, but will never allow a MAJOR win as the British will lose AT LEAST one more ship, probably the horribly damaged HMS Retribution.  Barring some truly remarkable dice one way or another, the Russians cannot win, they cannot force a draw, and the British cannot enhance the margin of victory they already have.  The battle is basically already decided.  Cavendish thus makes the call and runs out the clock.  Not the most cinematic finish, but one that a real naval commander would probably make (saving hundreds of lives and billions of pounds’ worth of starships).  In game terms, he basically lays siege to the station, ready to engage with a VERY powerful force any relief force the Russians may try to send to New Horizon.  Meanwhile the rest of the British invasion fleet would arrives (mostly carriers and troop ships), and would EVENTUALLY grind the station down with mass torpedo strikes if nothing else.  More likely the local Russian commander comes to terms, realizing help will never reach him with Cavendish’s cruiser lurking out among those asteroids and comets.Running the game forward through one more turn, we realize that even this won’t work. The Russian bombers are only so fast, and by the time they land on Turn 5, rearm on Turn 6, re-launch on Turn 7, and fly back across thousands of kilometers of space to re-engage on Turn 7 or 8, the game will be over (assault games are limited to eight turns). Even if they did cripple the Retribution, the British still win (although by a more slender margin). Conversely, A second British aerospace strike will never get through the station’s heavy defenses. Engaging the station in a gunnery slugging match will probably shake out in a British win, but will never allow a MAJOR win as the British will lose AT LEAST one more ship, probably the horribly damaged HMS Retribution. Barring some truly remarkable dice one way or another, the Russians cannot win, they cannot force a draw, and the British cannot enhance the margin of victory they already have. The battle is basically already decided. Cavendish thus makes the call and runs out the clock. Not the most cinematic finish, but one that a real naval commander would probably make (saving hundreds of lives and billions of pounds’ worth of starships). In game terms, he basically lays siege to the station, ready to engage with a VERY powerful force any relief force the Russians may try to send to New Horizon. Meanwhile the rest of the British invasion fleet would arrives (mostly carriers and troop ships), and would EVENTUALLY grind the station down with mass torpedo strikes if nothing else. More likely the local Russian commander comes to terms, realizing help will never reach him with Cavendish’s cruiser lurking out among those asteroids and comets.
So that’s the end of the battle.  By playing smart, reserved, and cautious, Damon has won the final victory needed to push the United Kingdom up over the “8” campaign threshold score.  The British are now able to cut a deal with the Russians, an Anglo-Russian cease fire will be declared.  The British parliament, Admiralty, and crown are all able to declare victory in the Third Hercules War.  ASSUMING ... and here’s the onion ... that the Arab League or Japanese battles (taking place at the same time in this simultaneous three-way invasion) win at least one more victory against the Japanese. Note that while the British have EXCEEDED their threshold of +/-8 with a campaign score with a +10 ... the Russians have NOT capitulated (i.e., they have not yet been knocked to their own threshold of +/-9 with a campaign score of -7).  Either the Japanese or the Arab League have to win to finally shove the Russians down to -9, only then will the Third Hercules War truly be over.  Still, for now the British, especially Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish, can rest on their laurels.  Even if the Russians mount a comeback, the diplomats are already drawing up papers, the British have well and truly won their part in this war.  Damon has fought FOURTEEN Darkstar battles (8 wins, 1 draw, 5 losses) over the last nine months (his first game in this war was October 26, 2019), battled his way back from the brink of absolute defeat TWICE, to carry the war to ultimate victory.  It’s the biggest Darkstar effort I’ve seen from a player in years, and really deserves the community’s congratulations.  Well done! So that’s the end of the battle. By playing smart, reserved, and cautious, Damon has won the final victory needed to push the United Kingdom up over the “8” campaign threshold score. The British are now able to cut a deal with the Russians, an Anglo-Russian cease fire will be declared. The British parliament, Admiralty, and crown are all able to declare victory in the Third Hercules War. ASSUMING ... and here’s the onion ... that the Arab League or Japanese battles (taking place at the same time in this simultaneous three-way invasion) win at least one more victory against the Japanese. Note that while the British have EXCEEDED their threshold of +/-8 with a campaign score with a +10 ... the Russians have NOT capitulated (i.e., they have not yet been knocked to their own threshold of +/-9 with a campaign score of -7). Either the Japanese or the Arab League have to win to finally shove the Russians down to -9, only then will the Third Hercules War truly be over. Still, for now the British, especially Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish, can rest on their laurels. Even if the Russians mount a comeback, the diplomats are already drawing up papers, the British have well and truly won their part in this war. Damon has fought FOURTEEN Darkstar battles (8 wins, 1 draw, 5 losses) over the last nine months (his first game in this war was October 26, 2019), battled his way back from the brink of absolute defeat TWICE, to carry the war to ultimate victory. It’s the biggest Darkstar effort I’ve seen from a player in years, and really deserves the community’s congratulations. Well done!

Two More Factions out as Third Hercules War Builds to Climax

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
5 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:15 SOL GMT, 26 MAY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: SECOND BATTLE OF UXBRIDGE (Mu Hercules C-3)

By now even the most vapid colonial socialite among the colonies of the Hercules Rim can tell the war is drawing to a climax.  Ever since the Americans were largely forced out of the Coalition of Eagles by the Treaty of Zubrin, the Russians have stood more or less alone against the Renkei Alliance (Britain, Japan, Arab League).  The Corporate Consortium refuses to engage meaningfully.  The New Roman Alliance, although a powerful (and fabulously wealthy) faction based out of their Catania colonies at Gliese 623, flails in a successive string of naval defeats.

All the while, the British (predominantly influenced by Lord Commodore Sir Edward Cavendish), have been aligning their Renkei allies for a final, war-winning strike on the Russians at 72 Hercules.  To forestall this, the Russians have been creating as many problems along Renkei flanks and rear as possible.  But by the end of May 2522, these “spoiling attacks” have run their course.  A recent major Arab League victory has smashed the Russians out of their foothold at Khaizan’s Haven.  The Russians and Romans were both defeated in a major battle at Avezzano in 99 Hercules, where a New Roman battleship Leo Magnus was beaten to within an inch of her life and driven off the table.

Now, in a final attempt to draw off pressure from 72 Hercules, the New Roman Alliance has mounted a small invasion of the British “Outer Hebrides” colonies at Mu Hercules.  The Roman commander here, Commodore Justinian Pilaex, knows he can’t take the whole system, his mission is take just one planet, perhaps a few moons of one of the system’s outer ice giants, just enough to force the British to turn resources away from the impending invasion of Krasnaya Nadhezda.

However, opposition at Mu Hercules might be more than Pilaex anticipated.  As per the “mutual military assistance”  clauses of the recent Treaty of Zubrin, the Americans have been obligated to keep a task force at both the Outer Hebrides and the Hawking’s Star, defending these colonies of their former enemies.  Now that a Roman task force has entered the outer debris belt of the Outer Hebrides, the Americans stationed there have orders to raise steam and intercept.

The force that will join battle is Task Force Oriskany under Captain Matthew Spencer, finally brought up to full strength now that the flagship, the Valcour class destroyer USS Oriskany, has completed her six-month “FRAM I” refit and upgrade at Port Halsey (Alpha Lyra / Vega).  Together with the destroyers Valley Forge and Hancock (Captains Garrison Heathe and commander Priscilla Wolfe, respectively), the US Marine Corps light assault carrier USS Tarawa, (Captain Raymond Cruz) and the torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish (formerly Wolfe’s command, now under Lt. Commander Lewis Knight), Oriskany leads a light, fast, elite, and high-tech force.  Grossly outmatched by the weight, gunnery, and power of Pilaex’s force, the Americans will have to use speed, upgraded electronics, and a vastly superior aerospace strike group to level the playing field.

Indeed, the sheer firepower of the Roman force is sobering.  Pilaex’s flagship is the Tiberius class heavy cruiser Nicaea, 140,000 tons of high-tech EPCs, syglex emitters, and oversized engines that allow her to move like a ship two-thirds her size.  Escorting her is the light cruiser Leclerc under Captain Raphael deChalemonde, the destroyer Corsica under Captain Daphne St. Croix, the light strike carrier Alejandra, and the torpedo corvette Sica.

The two task forces meet at the planet Ubridge (Paget’s Pride / Mu Hercules C-3), one of the major terrestrial worlds and colonial center for the British here at Mu Hercules (third planet of the third star of this trinary stellar group).  Both sides have help coming in, the Romans have their invasion fleet, built around a Bersaglieri-class planetary assault ship, while the Americans have British forces coming in from the other side of the Mu Hercules system.  Before either force arrives, however, the issue here will most likely be fatefully decided, one way or the other.

ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (429 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in late May, 2522.  For the Russians, holding out at their “Red Hope” colony (Krasnaya Nadhezda) at 72 Hercules, time is starting to run out.  They’ve lost their foothold at Khaizan’s Haven, so the Arab League is again breathing down their neck from the outer rim.  The British and Japanese have won a stark victory at Azzevano in 99 Hercules, largely shutting down the Roman and Russian bid to destabilize Anglo-Japanese rear areas as they build up against 72 Hercules.  In a last bid to draw pressure from Krasnaya Nadhezda, the Romans have mounted a strike against the British at Mu Hercules.  The general situation of the Third Hercules War in late May, 2522. For the Russians, holding out at their “Red Hope” colony (Krasnaya Nadhezda) at 72 Hercules, time is starting to run out. They’ve lost their foothold at Khaizan’s Haven, so the Arab League is again breathing down their neck from the outer rim. The British and Japanese have won a stark victory at Azzevano in 99 Hercules, largely shutting down the Roman and Russian bid to destabilize Anglo-Japanese rear areas as they build up against 72 Hercules. In a last bid to draw pressure from Krasnaya Nadhezda, the Romans have mounted a strike against the British at Mu Hercules.
As the two task forces draw to engagement range over the day side of Uxbridge (Paget’s Pride), both sides hug the planet, anxious to secure the “gravity gauge” or even use the atmosphere to screen their more vulnerable engines and reactors.  Romans come on fast, but the Americans come on even faster (only natural, as a destroyer flotilla they have MUCH more nimble ships).  Initial gunfire is exchanged, already at just 1800 kilometers.  The Roman flagship NRS Nicaea scores two hits on the torpedo corvette Daggerfish, while the light cruiser Leclerc scores one along with the destroyer Corsica.  This opening volley hits the Daggerfish’s bridge, crippling the ship (Lt. Commander Lewis Knight survives). The American destroyers USS Oriskany, Valley Forge, and Hancock do the same to the torpedo corvette NRS Sica, the Oriskany finishing her off with a syglex emitter down the port side that hits the bridge, aft capacitors for mass drivers, portside reactor and engine housing.  Lt. Commander Sebastian Anjou will also survive the day, but both corvettes are already blown out of the engagement.As the two task forces draw to engagement range over the day side of Uxbridge (Paget’s Pride), both sides hug the planet, anxious to secure the “gravity gauge” or even use the atmosphere to screen their more vulnerable engines and reactors. Romans come on fast, but the Americans come on even faster (only natural, as a destroyer flotilla they have MUCH more nimble ships). Initial gunfire is exchanged, already at just 1800 kilometers. The Roman flagship NRS Nicaea scores two hits on the torpedo corvette Daggerfish, while the light cruiser Leclerc scores one along with the destroyer Corsica. This opening volley hits the Daggerfish’s bridge, crippling the ship (Lt. Commander Lewis Knight survives). The American destroyers USS Oriskany, Valley Forge, and Hancock do the same to the torpedo corvette NRS Sica, the Oriskany finishing her off with a syglex emitter down the port side that hits the bridge, aft capacitors for mass drivers, portside reactor and engine housing. Lt. Commander Sebastian Anjou will also survive the day, but both corvettes are already blown out of the engagement.
The Americans largely lose the initiative, and Commodore Pilaex uses planet Uxbridge to screen the sterns of his ships.  In response, Captain Spencer tries to bypass the Romans, then turn into a shallow dive toward the planet, THEN hairpin turn away to set up some kind of a broadside.  His ships all have enhanced engines so they can JUST pull off the maneuver, but the results are not great ... they can’t target the port quarters of the of the Nicaea or the Leclerc.  The Tarawa more or less has to flee the immediate battle area, making a starboard turn away from the planet and raising maximum steam to put as much distance between her and enemy guns.  In all, it’s a bad movement phase, the Americans have to hope their larger ordinance strike and heavily-upgraded shielding can “brute force” their way through the difficult turn.  DeChalemonde’s light cruiser NRS Leclerc fires her forward rail guns at the fleeing Tarawa, putting the rest of her broadside into the Oriskany, just 540 kilometers away.  Yet even as the Lady O’s newly-upgraded shields reel under the lasers and rail guns, Leclerc is hammered by the combined Mark 48 gravitic torpedo spreads of all the American warships, plus the US Marine Corps’ VMF/A-319 (The Tigersharks) launched off the USS Tarawa.  Despite a withering hail of accurate Roman point-defense, enough American torpedoes are guided by enhanced electronic warfare suites ... and the double-elite “Tigershark” Marines land just enough  ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes and ASM-92 Hellfire missiles ... to detonate the Leclerc’s starboard engineering suites, sending her crippled hulk spinning through space.  Two Dassault-Rafale The Americans largely lose the initiative, and Commodore Pilaex uses planet Uxbridge to screen the sterns of his ships. In response, Captain Spencer tries to bypass the Romans, then turn into a shallow dive toward the planet, THEN hairpin turn away to set up some kind of a broadside. His ships all have enhanced engines so they can JUST pull off the maneuver, but the results are not great ... they can’t target the port quarters of the of the Nicaea or the Leclerc. The Tarawa more or less has to flee the immediate battle area, making a starboard turn away from the planet and raising maximum steam to put as much distance between her and enemy guns. In all, it’s a bad movement phase, the Americans have to hope their larger ordinance strike and heavily-upgraded shielding can “brute force” their way through the difficult turn. DeChalemonde’s light cruiser NRS Leclerc fires her forward rail guns at the fleeing Tarawa, putting the rest of her broadside into the Oriskany, just 540 kilometers away. Yet even as the Lady O’s newly-upgraded shields reel under the lasers and rail guns, Leclerc is hammered by the combined Mark 48 gravitic torpedo spreads of all the American warships, plus the US Marine Corps’ VMF/A-319 (The Tigersharks) launched off the USS Tarawa. Despite a withering hail of accurate Roman point-defense, enough American torpedoes are guided by enhanced electronic warfare suites ... and the double-elite “Tigershark” Marines land just enough ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes and ASM-92 Hellfire missiles ... to detonate the Leclerc’s starboard engineering suites, sending her crippled hulk spinning through space. Two Dassault-Rafale "Lancea" ship-to-ship torpedoes hit the stern of the carrier Tarawa, the rest of the Roman aerospace and torpedo strike pinging off Tarawa’s double-enhanced, EW-upgraded stern shields. The move costs two Roman Caproni CA.580 “Aquila” (Eagle) bombers, shot down by the Marine scouts. Forward EPCs of the Nicaea follow up, scoring one more hit which is finally enough to put the Tarawa out of action.
The rest of the Nicaea’s guns all fire at the Oriskany, and despite the close range and enhanced Roman targeting, ALL GUNS MISS (seriously, her d10 odds were base 10 + 2 for CIC, -7 for Oriskany’s absurd shielding = 5 modified to hit, remaining five shots were 6, 6, 7, 7, 7).  The Leclerc has already done terrible damage, however (one 7 GW rail gun slammed right into the starboard engine, a second round hit in the same place and detonated actually INSIDE the port engine room).  Even now, the Oriskany can survive.  The Valley Forge and Hancock open fire into the port quarter of the destroyer Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix) at just 360 kilometers (2 hexes), hammering her open but not crippling her fast enough to prevent Corsica from swiveling her broadside on the Oriskany.  Both the St. Croix’s Corsica and Spencer’s Oriskany (each a celebrated destroyer in their own right), limping and afire, put their last broadsides into each other.  Corsica is positively ravaged, the remains of her stern basically blown off by Oriskany’s rail guns and brand new 75 eHz syglex emitters (even the carrier Alejandra takes a few hits).  The Corsica’s 8 MgKv lasers likewise slash into the Oriskany, who just BARELY misses her Resolute Crew checks.  and then the Romans just BARELY make the cripple check (needed a 2+ on d6, scored a d6.  The Lady O is down.     The rest of the Nicaea’s guns all fire at the Oriskany, and despite the close range and enhanced Roman targeting, ALL GUNS MISS (seriously, her d10 odds were base 10 + 2 for CIC, -7 for Oriskany’s absurd shielding = 5 modified to hit, remaining five shots were 6, 6, 7, 7, 7). The Leclerc has already done terrible damage, however (one 7 GW rail gun slammed right into the starboard engine, a second round hit in the same place and detonated actually INSIDE the port engine room). Even now, the Oriskany can survive. The Valley Forge and Hancock open fire into the port quarter of the destroyer Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix) at just 360 kilometers (2 hexes), hammering her open but not crippling her fast enough to prevent Corsica from swiveling her broadside on the Oriskany. Both the St. Croix’s Corsica and Spencer’s Oriskany (each a celebrated destroyer in their own right), limping and afire, put their last broadsides into each other. Corsica is positively ravaged, the remains of her stern basically blown off by Oriskany’s rail guns and brand new 75 eHz syglex emitters (even the carrier Alejandra takes a few hits). The Corsica’s 8 MgKv lasers likewise slash into the Oriskany, who just BARELY misses her Resolute Crew checks. and then the Romans just BARELY make the cripple check (needed a 2+ on d6, scored a d6. The Lady O is down.
Left with only a ponderous heavy cruiser and a light carrier with no guns left in their task force, the Romans “take root” in low orbit of Uxbridge, jackknife-turning away from the Americans, keeping their sterns screened by the planet’s atmosphere.  The Americans for their part (now just the destroyers Valley Forge and Hancock, Captain Garrison Heathe in command) pull away from the planet, hairpin turning back toward the Romans so they can launch full frontal torpedo spreads at the enemy (while keeping out of the Nicaea’s broadside).  Frontal American guns ping away at the port bow or the carrier Alejandra, while the forward guns of the Nicaea hammer on the foc’s’le of the Valley Forge.  The guns are hideously accurate, and the Valley Force loses her forward shields.  This will hamper Heathe’s plan on keeping his bows pointing at the enemy for maximum torpedo attacks.  Left with only a ponderous heavy cruiser and a light carrier with no guns left in their task force, the Romans “take root” in low orbit of Uxbridge, jackknife-turning away from the Americans, keeping their sterns screened by the planet’s atmosphere. The Americans for their part (now just the destroyers Valley Forge and Hancock, Captain Garrison Heathe in command) pull away from the planet, hairpin turning back toward the Romans so they can launch full frontal torpedo spreads at the enemy (while keeping out of the Nicaea’s broadside). Frontal American guns ping away at the port bow or the carrier Alejandra, while the forward guns of the Nicaea hammer on the foc’s’le of the Valley Forge. The guns are hideously accurate, and the Valley Force loses her forward shields. This will hamper Heathe’s plan on keeping his bows pointing at the enemy for maximum torpedo attacks.
The Romans continue to “sideslip” along the upper atmosphere of Uxbridge, except this time Commodore Pilaex  tries to keep more of Nicaea’s broadside threatening a wider arc of possible American approach space.  The carrier Alejandra also rolls, keeping her port side screened from further American attacks.  It doesn’t work, with the Americans sending their full torpedo wave and all the fighters and scouts of the Marine “Tigershark” squadron.  Roman Dassault-Rafael “Mirage XII” fighters race back to defend their carrier, but their close enough to the American carriers to actually draw American mass driver fire.  One Mirage is shot down.  Pileax has a tough decision to make here, he can either engage the Marine fighters (F/S-44 Star Corsairs) with his mass drivers and lose the Alejandra to American torpedo attack, or shoot down the torpedoes and POSSIBLY lose the Alejandra to American fighters strafing the Alejandra’s bridge.  He goes for the fighters, figuring me might as well make the Americans pay for his light carrier.  The slaughter is horrific, 12 of the 14 Tigershark Corsairs are shot down as Pilaex more of less sacrifices the Alejandra.  With no mass drivers defending the carrier, the Mirages originally send against Marine Corsairs instead switch to incoming torpedoes.  Only three torpedoes are shot down, however, and five get through Alejandra’s aft shields.  With torpedoes exploding in her engine rooms, the last two Marine Corsairs and eight Marine and Navy E/S-101 “Hawkeye” scouts make a desperate strafing run, one of the last Marine Corsairs shooting into Alejandra’s exposed starboard reactor room to finally cripple the ship.  This bloodbath assault was costly, but the Marines can take solace in two more “Aquila” bombers were in Alejandra’s hangar bays (having landed to rearm).  The Valley Forge and Hancock fire broadsides into the Nicaea, but the guns of two American destroyers against a 140,000 ton heavy cruiser isn’t going to do very much.  They are positioned to fire full frontal spreads, however, using the drifting hulks of the Leclerc and the Corsica as initial target acquisition.  The Nicaea’s aft guns hammer hard on the Valley Forge, this time hitting her on the starboard quarter, and ALMOST power her down (they needed a 6+, they rolled a 5).  Damn, the Romans came within a single digit on the dice of winning the game right there.The Romans continue to “sideslip” along the upper atmosphere of Uxbridge, except this time Commodore Pilaex tries to keep more of Nicaea’s broadside threatening a wider arc of possible American approach space. The carrier Alejandra also rolls, keeping her port side screened from further American attacks. It doesn’t work, with the Americans sending their full torpedo wave and all the fighters and scouts of the Marine “Tigershark” squadron. Roman Dassault-Rafael “Mirage XII” fighters race back to defend their carrier, but their close enough to the American carriers to actually draw American mass driver fire. One Mirage is shot down. Pileax has a tough decision to make here, he can either engage the Marine fighters (F/S-44 Star Corsairs) with his mass drivers and lose the Alejandra to American torpedo attack, or shoot down the torpedoes and POSSIBLY lose the Alejandra to American fighters strafing the Alejandra’s bridge. He goes for the fighters, figuring me might as well make the Americans pay for his light carrier. The slaughter is horrific, 12 of the 14 Tigershark Corsairs are shot down as Pilaex more of less sacrifices the Alejandra. With no mass drivers defending the carrier, the Mirages originally send against Marine Corsairs instead switch to incoming torpedoes. Only three torpedoes are shot down, however, and five get through Alejandra’s aft shields. With torpedoes exploding in her engine rooms, the last two Marine Corsairs and eight Marine and Navy E/S-101 “Hawkeye” scouts make a desperate strafing run, one of the last Marine Corsairs shooting into Alejandra’s exposed starboard reactor room to finally cripple the ship. This bloodbath assault was costly, but the Marines can take solace in two more “Aquila” bombers were in Alejandra’s hangar bays (having landed to rearm). The Valley Forge and Hancock fire broadsides into the Nicaea, but the guns of two American destroyers against a 140,000 ton heavy cruiser isn’t going to do very much. They are positioned to fire full frontal spreads, however, using the drifting hulks of the Leclerc and the Corsica as initial target acquisition. The Nicaea’s aft guns hammer hard on the Valley Forge, this time hitting her on the starboard quarter, and ALMOST power her down (they needed a 6+, they rolled a 5). Damn, the Romans came within a single digit on the dice of winning the game right there.
The battle is now reaching a frustrating draw.  The Nicaea continues to sideslip, the Americans tucking back further and further behind the curvature of the planet.  Nicaea’s guns are absurdly powerful and accurate, but as long as she continues to use the planet to screen her stern, and the Americans hide behind the curvature of the planet, they can’t hit.  In order to engage the Americans (who are now content to run out the clock), Nicaea has to raise stem, turn away from the planet, and come down after them.  The problem here is that this puts the Nicaea’s stern in play from American torpedoes.  The American hopes are on a last big torpedo smash on the Nicaea’s stern, while the Nicaea’s hope is to cripple or drive off the Valley Forge.  But honestly Valley Forge can hide behind the planet, keep the range open, and keep presenting fresh armor and shields (admittedly she is pretty badly damaged by this point).  The Americans are also keeping their remaining aerospace craft by their destroyers, so any Roman fighter attacks against them will be mown down before they attack the remaining fighters and bombers.  The Roman fighters, meanwhile, are also hanging by the cruiser, ensuring that no American torpedoes really have a shot of getting through.The battle is now reaching a frustrating draw. The Nicaea continues to sideslip, the Americans tucking back further and further behind the curvature of the planet. Nicaea’s guns are absurdly powerful and accurate, but as long as she continues to use the planet to screen her stern, and the Americans hide behind the curvature of the planet, they can’t hit. In order to engage the Americans (who are now content to run out the clock), Nicaea has to raise stem, turn away from the planet, and come down after them. The problem here is that this puts the Nicaea’s stern in play from American torpedoes. The American hopes are on a last big torpedo smash on the Nicaea’s stern, while the Nicaea’s hope is to cripple or drive off the Valley Forge. But honestly Valley Forge can hide behind the planet, keep the range open, and keep presenting fresh armor and shields (admittedly she is pretty badly damaged by this point). The Americans are also keeping their remaining aerospace craft by their destroyers, so any Roman fighter attacks against them will be mown down before they attack the remaining fighters and bombers. The Roman fighters, meanwhile, are also hanging by the cruiser, ensuring that no American torpedoes really have a shot of getting through.
We call it on Turn 6.  Neither side has any good options here.  It’s not a very cinematic ending, I’m sorry to say, but the Americans have a slender lead here and have the option to run out the clock.  They do so, and thus win by a razor-thin margin.  Because this battle was so thin, and won largely through “run out the clock” cheese, I’ll count it only as half campaign points.  Suffice it to say that Commodore Pilaex is still screaming for that invasion force to come in and land on Uxbridge, have JUST ENOUGH firepower to make his superior think twice about sending in troop ships (especially with British naval forces also expected to arrive within 12 hours).  In short, it’s Assault victory conditions, whichever side has the most SURVIVING assets on the table (by points) at the end of Turn 8, wins.  We call it on Turn 6. Neither side has any good options here. It’s not a very cinematic ending, I’m sorry to say, but the Americans have a slender lead here and have the option to run out the clock. They do so, and thus win by a razor-thin margin. Because this battle was so thin, and won largely through “run out the clock” cheese, I’ll count it only as half campaign points. Suffice it to say that Commodore Pilaex is still screaming for that invasion force to come in and land on Uxbridge, have JUST ENOUGH firepower to make his superior think twice about sending in troop ships (especially with British naval forces also expected to arrive within 12 hours). In short, it’s Assault victory conditions, whichever side has the most SURVIVING assets on the table (by points) at the end of Turn 8, wins.
This ends the Third Hercules War for the Americans (cashing out as “winners”) but remember they also “lost” when they had to sign the Treaty of Zubrin with the British.  So yes, the American bid to outright seize the Outer Hebrides or Hawking’s Star has failed.  However, they’ve secured a valuable shipping lease with the British at the Lost Dutchman in the 99 Hercules System, a lease with the Consortium in Gliese 649 after their startling victory against the Japanese at Bleeding Edge, and rights to ship through a small gas giant moon in the Catania system after defeating the New Romans twice at Mu Hercules.  As for the New Romans, the cardinals and princes who advocated entry into the Third Hercules War have been removed from power, once has even been exiled in disgrace.  They came close a couple times, but honestly never won a single battle.  With the Romans out of the war, the rear and flanks of any prospective Renkei Alliance assault (British, Japanese, and Arab League) on the Russian stronghold at 72 Hercules are now clear. After nearly two years (this campaign started 14 October 2520), the Third Hercules War might be finally drawing to a close. This ends the Third Hercules War for the Americans (cashing out as “winners”) but remember they also “lost” when they had to sign the Treaty of Zubrin with the British. So yes, the American bid to outright seize the Outer Hebrides or Hawking’s Star has failed. However, they’ve secured a valuable shipping lease with the British at the Lost Dutchman in the 99 Hercules System, a lease with the Consortium in Gliese 649 after their startling victory against the Japanese at Bleeding Edge, and rights to ship through a small gas giant moon in the Catania system after defeating the New Romans twice at Mu Hercules. As for the New Romans, the cardinals and princes who advocated entry into the Third Hercules War have been removed from power, once has even been exiled in disgrace. They came close a couple times, but honestly never won a single battle. With the Romans out of the war, the rear and flanks of any prospective Renkei Alliance assault (British, Japanese, and Arab League) on the Russian stronghold at 72 Hercules are now clear. After nearly two years (this campaign started 14 October 2520), the Third Hercules War might be finally drawing to a close.

Second Battle of Nakir's Riddle (14 Hercules)

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
2 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
20:20 SOL GMT, 12 MAY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: SECOND BATTLE OF NAKIR’S RIDDLE (14 Hercules 5.22)

The situation in the Third Hercules War continues to build to a climax.  In the latest engagement, naval forces of the Arab League have struck against the foothold recently established by the Holy Russian Empire in the “Khaizan’s Haven” caliphate in the 14 Hercules star system.

As noted in previous entries, the British are looking to end the Third Hercules War with a concerted strike at the regional “capital” of their greatest remaining enemy, the Holy Russian Empire.  The obvious target is the Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope) colony at 72 Hercules, but with expanded holdings and lucrative shipping leases already won in the UN “Redemption” Mandate in the 99 Hercules system, it’s unlike the British will be allowed by the UN to take full possession of 72 Hercules as well.  Even in the 26th Century, overt imperialism only goes so far.  So the British have been lining up allies for a concerted multi-national strike, most likely to include the Japanese Empire and the Arab League.

The Russians know these plans and have been working hard to upset them, creating distractions along British flanks by striking into neighboring star systems and disruptions among their allies.  One of these initiatives has been an invasion of 14 Hercules system (Khaizan’s Haven caliphate), recently defeating an Arab cruiser task force these and planting a regiment of Russian Naval Infantry on the gas giant moon of Nakir’s Riddle.

The Arab League wants the moon back, and now.  The Emir of Khaizan’s Haven knows full well that the British are about to invade 72 Hercules with the Japanese, and if the Arab League can’t take part in that invasion as well, they’ll be left out of the spoils when 72 Hercules is carved up by the victors.  But the League can’t invade 72 Hercules if the Russians stall have a foothold on their own system, so the Mutamid battlegroup under Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi is given orders to retake the system post-haste.  Failure is not an option.  Eject the Russians, or don’t bother coming back.

However, it was al-Maghrebi’s Mutamid battlegroup that lost the earlier battle that gave Nakir’s Riddle to the Russians in the first place.  That battle took place barely six weeks ago (24 March, 2522), and al-Maghrebi’s warships required extensive repairs in the aftermath.  Even now, after a crash repair program, the ships are barely welded back together.  In fact, the Almanzor-class hybrid cruiser-carrier Mutamid herself still has repair crews on board when she Darkstar waves out of Maalikmina shipyards to attack the Russian foe.

For their part, the Russians are also not in the best shape.  Preparations to meet the expected Anglo-Japanese onslaught have demanded that their heaviest naval units in 14 Hercules be withdrawn to 72 Hercules.  This has included, most importantly, the heavy cruiser Tatiana Mikhailovna, and half the “Night Witches” aerospace attack group aboard the strike carrier Novorossysk.  But the heavily-upgraded light cruiser Admiral Lazarev has arrived as reinforcements, commanded by the redoubtable Captain Pyotr F. Myshaga, along with the American destroyer USS Cowpens, detached from Task Force Liberty.

In summary, this is an all-out, stand-and-die slugfest, with the real prize being operational time.  The Arab League needs this win so they can push forward with participation in the Anglo-Japanese invasion of 72 Hercules, while the Russians need to retain their death-grip on Nakir’s Riddle to ensure that Arab reinforcements will not participate in that increasingly inevitable showdown.

ARAB LEAGUE: @muakhah
RUSSO-AMERICANS: @oriskany
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (244 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in mid-May, 2522.  At the moment, both the Japanese (Rasmus) and British (Damon) have recent victories over the Russians, giving them the campaign choice where and when to strike next.  They’re lining up for a combined strike on 72 Hercules, the big Russian capital here on the Hercules Rim.  The third ally in the Anglo-Japanese alliance is the Arab League (muakhah), but before they can even contemplate joining in the shove into 72 Hercules, they have to smash the Russians out of their OWN backyard at Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules).  This clash will come at the moon of Nakir’s Riddle, 22 satellite of the largest gas giant in the 14 Hercules system.The general situation of the Third Hercules War in mid-May, 2522. At the moment, both the Japanese (Rasmus) and British (Damon) have recent victories over the Russians, giving them the campaign choice where and when to strike next. They’re lining up for a combined strike on 72 Hercules, the big Russian capital here on the Hercules Rim. The third ally in the Anglo-Japanese alliance is the Arab League (muakhah), but before they can even contemplate joining in the shove into 72 Hercules, they have to smash the Russians out of their OWN backyard at Khaizan’s Haven (14 Hercules). This clash will come at the moon of Nakir’s Riddle, 22 satellite of the largest gas giant in the 14 Hercules system.
The Russians detect the Arabs making their approach via a high-speed vector through the eclipse shadow of Nakir’s Riddle.  While Captain Myshaga sets Russians and American allies on his typical high-speed approach, al-Maghrebi’s approach is positively suicidal, rocketing into the battle area at nearly 60 kilometers per SECOND (speed 19 in game terms x3 = 57 kps).  They thus instantly have the Coalition warships in a broadside, and in a withering fusillade at a range of 2500 kilometers (14 hexes), burn through the forward shielding and bow armor of the USS Cowpens.  Sensors are hit, the ammo explodes in one of the forward 5-gigawatt rail gun turrets, and the forward magazines go up.  A tough hit, but certainly survivable, until runaway chain-decompressions start tearing through the forward end of the destroyer.  An investigation after the battle will reveal that these decompressions were the result of insufficient weld seams made the last time the Cowpens was repaired in pressure dock.  Commander Rachel Collingsworth has to make the tough call, and deaf to the roars of Captain Myshaga over the comm, USS Cowpens has to break off from the engagement (game terms: one core box hit = 20% chance for a destroyer to break off, I roll a very unlucky 18).   The Russians detect the Arabs making their approach via a high-speed vector through the eclipse shadow of Nakir’s Riddle. While Captain Myshaga sets Russians and American allies on his typical high-speed approach, al-Maghrebi’s approach is positively suicidal, rocketing into the battle area at nearly 60 kilometers per SECOND (speed 19 in game terms x3 = 57 kps). They thus instantly have the Coalition warships in a broadside, and in a withering fusillade at a range of 2500 kilometers (14 hexes), burn through the forward shielding and bow armor of the USS Cowpens. Sensors are hit, the ammo explodes in one of the forward 5-gigawatt rail gun turrets, and the forward magazines go up. A tough hit, but certainly survivable, until runaway chain-decompressions start tearing through the forward end of the destroyer. An investigation after the battle will reveal that these decompressions were the result of insufficient weld seams made the last time the Cowpens was repaired in pressure dock. Commander Rachel Collingsworth has to make the tough call, and deaf to the roars of Captain Myshaga over the comm, USS Cowpens has to break off from the engagement (game terms: one core box hit = 20% chance for a destroyer to break off, I roll a very unlucky 18).
While the Cowpens continues to speed out of the battle, the Admiral Lazarev and the Mutamid almost race past each other, both cruisers screaming through high-speed turns and all engines howling in full reverse.  The mass torpedo and missile strike launched from the carrier Abu Bashir and her aerospace group slams into the starboard bow of the Lazarev, doing heavy but survivable damage.  What follows up, however, is an incredibly successful gunnery broadside from the Mutamid, Kashan, and Jeddah.  All three ships score at least double their projected hit-rate (game terms, Maghrebi had 12 guns at a chance of 40% to hit, but scored ten hits), and while the upgraded accurate, upgraded hitting power barrage of the heavier Lazarev DOES INDEED leave the Mutamid a burning, powerless cripple, the Arab league ships in turn do the same to the Lazarev.  Even as Russian and American torpedoes and the “Night Witch” fighters also cripple the carrier Abu Bashir (these warheads hitting, by contrast, less than 30% their projected hit rate, although I do admittedly get a lucky “cripple” check on Abu Bashir afterwards), the Russians have clearly lost this battle.  Simply put, the League can lose the Mutamid and continue the fight.  With the loss of the much more powerful Lazarev (and with the USS Cowpens already compelled to leave the battle area), this fight has suddenly become very one-sided.  While the Cowpens continues to speed out of the battle, the Admiral Lazarev and the Mutamid almost race past each other, both cruisers screaming through high-speed turns and all engines howling in full reverse. The mass torpedo and missile strike launched from the carrier Abu Bashir and her aerospace group slams into the starboard bow of the Lazarev, doing heavy but survivable damage. What follows up, however, is an incredibly successful gunnery broadside from the Mutamid, Kashan, and Jeddah. All three ships score at least double their projected hit-rate (game terms, Maghrebi had 12 guns at a chance of 40% to hit, but scored ten hits), and while the upgraded accurate, upgraded hitting power barrage of the heavier Lazarev DOES INDEED leave the Mutamid a burning, powerless cripple, the Arab league ships in turn do the same to the Lazarev. Even as Russian and American torpedoes and the “Night Witch” fighters also cripple the carrier Abu Bashir (these warheads hitting, by contrast, less than 30% their projected hit rate, although I do admittedly get a lucky “cripple” check on Abu Bashir afterwards), the Russians have clearly lost this battle. Simply put, the League can lose the Mutamid and continue the fight. With the loss of the much more powerful Lazarev (and with the USS Cowpens already compelled to leave the battle area), this fight has suddenly become very one-sided.
As the Cowpens breaks to port and raises steam to escape, the Arab League destroyer SHM Jeddah turns to pursue.  The Novorossysk follows, if only to keep her forward torpedo array (the one real weapon the Russians have left) pointing toward an enemy target.  But the destroyer Kashan turns behind Novorossysk in turn, and together with a strafing attack by some of Abu Bashir’s fighters (I throw another brick and only shoot down ONE of these fighters, I “should” have gotten at least 5-6), cripple Novorrossysk.  Meanwhile, the rest of the League fighters and plenty of mass driver fire from the Kashan breaks up the last Russo-American torpedo strike on Kashan’s stern, our last despairing chance to at least cripple ONE of these destroyers and reduce this calamity to a “minor” defeat.As the Cowpens breaks to port and raises steam to escape, the Arab League destroyer SHM Jeddah turns to pursue. The Novorossysk follows, if only to keep her forward torpedo array (the one real weapon the Russians have left) pointing toward an enemy target. But the destroyer Kashan turns behind Novorossysk in turn, and together with a strafing attack by some of Abu Bashir’s fighters (I throw another brick and only shoot down ONE of these fighters, I “should” have gotten at least 5-6), cripple Novorrossysk. Meanwhile, the rest of the League fighters and plenty of mass driver fire from the Kashan breaks up the last Russo-American torpedo strike on Kashan’s stern, our last despairing chance to at least cripple ONE of these destroyers and reduce this calamity to a “minor” defeat.
What can I say, this just WASN’T the Russians’ day.  Full credit to Muakhah for using an unconventional attack plan and making it work, but between the Cowpens breaking off on Turn 01, the disastrous torpedo attack on Abu Bashir, the loss of most of the Night Witches before they even had a chance to fire, the luckiest broadside I’ve seen in a while crippling the Admiral Lazarev, and then the complete failure to break up the League fighter attack on the Novorossysk, suffice it to say that Lady Luck was giving my friend Muakhah the lap dance of the century all night long on this one.  But of course commanders also make their own luck, and he also made the most of all his opportunities, didn’t get carried away and leave me an opening, and made sure the Russians and Americans were all crippled or driven off the table (thus giving me no opportunities to “cheese” any victory points). Well done, sir!  And congratulations on what I think is your first MAJOR VICTORY (determining margin 40%+) in Darkstar.     What can I say, this just WASN’T the Russians’ day. Full credit to Muakhah for using an unconventional attack plan and making it work, but between the Cowpens breaking off on Turn 01, the disastrous torpedo attack on Abu Bashir, the loss of most of the Night Witches before they even had a chance to fire, the luckiest broadside I’ve seen in a while crippling the Admiral Lazarev, and then the complete failure to break up the League fighter attack on the Novorossysk, suffice it to say that Lady Luck was giving my friend Muakhah the lap dance of the century all night long on this one. But of course commanders also make their own luck, and he also made the most of all his opportunities, didn’t get carried away and leave me an opening, and made sure the Russians and Americans were all crippled or driven off the table (thus giving me no opportunities to “cheese” any victory points). Well done, sir! And congratulations on what I think is your first MAJOR VICTORY (determining margin 40%+) in Darkstar.
So that cinches it.  The Arab League has decisively ejected the infidels from their Khaizan’s Haven caliphate, and the League is now set up to participate in the Anglo-Arab-Japanese invasion into 72 Hercules.  With the extra campaign points afforded him by the MAJOR victory at the Second Battle of Nakir’s Riddle, Muakhah has upgraded two of his destroyer-class vessels to more Almanzor-class light hybrid cruisers (and paid for his command to get “Task Force” rating command, allowing him to field forces up to 500 points).  So when the League goes into to claim their share of 72 Hercules, they’ll be a lot more powerful than they were here.  THEN AGAIN, the Russian “spoiling attack” strategy they’ve been pursuing for the last several months has bought them a lot of time, and who knows what powerful new naval forces will be ready for the British, Japanese, and Russians when they finally launch the decisive, all-out invasion of “Red Hope.”So that cinches it. The Arab League has decisively ejected the infidels from their Khaizan’s Haven caliphate, and the League is now set up to participate in the Anglo-Arab-Japanese invasion into 72 Hercules. With the extra campaign points afforded him by the MAJOR victory at the Second Battle of Nakir’s Riddle, Muakhah has upgraded two of his destroyer-class vessels to more Almanzor-class light hybrid cruisers (and paid for his command to get “Task Force” rating command, allowing him to field forces up to 500 points). So when the League goes into to claim their share of 72 Hercules, they’ll be a lot more powerful than they were here. THEN AGAIN, the Russian “spoiling attack” strategy they’ve been pursuing for the last several months has bought them a lot of time, and who knows what powerful new naval forces will be ready for the British, Japanese, and Russians when they finally launch the decisive, all-out invasion of “Red Hope.”

Battleship at Avezzano (99 Hercules Gamma), Anglo-Japanese vs. Russo-Romans

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
11 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
20:20 SOL GMT, 29 APRIL 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: ANGLO-JAPANESE ASSAULT ON CATANIA (99 Hercules Gamma)

The situation in the Third Hercules War is reaching a breaking point.

The Americans, previously humbled and sidelined by the British, have regained their footing and are about to “cash out” of the conflict with new holdings both in 99 Hercules and Gliese 649.  The latter may be particularly bad for the British, as an American shipping stronghold in Gliese 639 would allow them to bypass the 99 Hercules, thus deflating the tariff revenue the British hoped to squeeze from the Americans with their 50-year lease so graciously granted by the British in the Treaty of Zubrin.

The Americans have also thrashed the Japanese at the recent Battle of Bleeding Edge (Gliese 649 Gamma-19), thus weakening Britain’s staunchest and most powerful ally in the Third Hercules War.

Britain’s other ally, the Arab League, has also been bested by the Holy Russian Empire.  The Russians now have an entrenched foothold in the Khaizan Caliphate, and any immediate Arab League naval action will have to be directed toward ejecting this Russian presence before they can help the British against the Russians directly.

Perhaps most ominously, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Krasnaya Nadhezda and New Roman Archbishop of Catania have reaffirmed their new alliance, with Russian warships now staged in the Catania colonies (Gliese 623). Russian destroyers and torpedo corvettes have also been detected in the UN “Redemption” Mandate at 99 Hercules, specifically at the Avezzano Colony (99 Hercules Gamma).  This is obviously a move to threaten British possession of Kayashenko, the 99 Hercules gas giant the British took from the Russians after a protracted campaign earlier in 2521-22.

In short, the Russians continue their efforts to forestall the inevitable British hammerblow on their Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope) colonies at 72 Hercules by creating as many distractions as possible among British allies and problems along British flanks.

Finally, the British have had enough.  Pairing two of their most powerful warships in the Hercules Rim with two of the most powerful Japanese ships currently operational, an aggressive move is made directly for the heart of New Roman holdings in 99 Hercules.  For the British this includes the heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon and light cruiser Retribution.  For the Japanese it is the heavy cruiser IJN Kama and light cruiser Sendai Byo.  The mission is simple, smash into the heart of the New Roman holdings at 99 Hercules.  Cripple, destroy, or drive off any naval presence there, thus clearing the way for two Fearless class planetary assault ships to drop in elements of 3rd Marine Commando Brigade and 5th Para Brigade, outright seizing the colonies and installation on the terrestrial planet of Avezzano (99 Hercules Gamma) and its two moons.

Clearly the British aim is to crush any threat posed by the Coalition of Eagles in 99 Hercules once and for all, while also dealing a heavy blow to the blossoming Russo-Roman alliance and shutting down any additional danger to the rear of a final attack on 72 Hercules.

Unfortunately the New Romans have been building up for a climactic entry to the Third Hercules War for some time.  While the Americans, Russians, Japanese, British, and Arab League battered each other senseless, the Romans were quietly bringing in ships from the Core and other sectors of Known Space, only opening hostilities when they felt they had an overwhelming force.  Most significantly this includes the gigantic 347,000-ton Constantine class battleship NRS Leo Magnus, arriving at Avezzano three weeks ago after a Darkstar voyage of 117 days.  Now screened by aforementioned Russian destroyers and torpedo corvettes (CPK Syekyra, Rusalka, and K-98, all part of Task Force “Admiral Lazarev”), the Roman dreadnaught’s presence unmistakably underscores this renewed Russo-Roman cooperation in the Hercules Rim.

For now, however, this hideously-powerful Russo-Roman force is alerted to the rapid approach of British and Japanese Darkstar waves, and raises steam to meet the threat.  The New Roman battleship and her screen will meet the Anglo-Japanese cruiser force at the second moon of Avezzano, joining what is the largest battle to date in the Third Hercules War.

BRITISH: @damon
JAPANESE: @rasmus
RUSSO-ROMANS: @oriskany
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (595 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War at the end of April, 2522.  With a combined Anglo-Japanese smash into the New Roman holdings at the UN “Redemption” Mandate at 99 Hercules (specifically the planet Avezzano / 99 Hercules Gamma), the British hope to shut down the Coalition of Eagles for good in 99 Hercules, weaken the Russo-Roman wing of the Coalition of Eagles, and quell any flank or rear threats for the intended drive on Krasanaya Nadezda (“Red Hope”, 72 Hercules).  There’s just one problem.  After almost four months in a Darkstar wave, the Romans have managed to bring in a BATTLESHIP.The general situation of the Third Hercules War at the end of April, 2522. With a combined Anglo-Japanese smash into the New Roman holdings at the UN “Redemption” Mandate at 99 Hercules (specifically the planet Avezzano / 99 Hercules Gamma), the British hope to shut down the Coalition of Eagles for good in 99 Hercules, weaken the Russo-Roman wing of the Coalition of Eagles, and quell any flank or rear threats for the intended drive on Krasanaya Nadezda (“Red Hope”, 72 Hercules). There’s just one problem. After almost four months in a Darkstar wave, the Romans have managed to bring in a BATTLESHIP.
The two fleets meet at the second moon of the Avezzano planet (99 Hercules Gamma-2), roughly the size of the planet Mercury, named Lucianna di Genoa for a duchess of terrestrial Italy.  Although gigantic, the Leo Magnus is surprisingly fast for a ship her size, her guns pin-point accurate and heavily upgraded in hitting power and range.  In short, a single hit from her 21-teravolt EPCs and 90 eHz syglex emitters can cleave clean through the armor of a light cruiser, even at a range of over 9500 kilometers (the distance between London and Capetown, a fact she quickly brings home to the hapless light cruiser Sendai Byo.  Even here, at the comfortable “medium” range of 5000+ km, she carves open Sendai Byo’s port bow like a Christmas turkey, instantly hitting magazines, burning mass driver turrets out of the hull, smashing open torpedo bays, crippling sensor suites and incinerating maneuvering thrusters.  It’s frankly pure luck that spares Sendai Byo’s bridge, otherwise the 83,000 ton cruiser would be smacked out of the battle in the opening salvo.  The British and Japanese respond, aiming guns at the little K-98.  At this range the 15,000-ton corvette is almost impossible to hit, but these British and Japanese crews are expert shots, and K-98 is crippled.  It seems like a small victory, but the K-98 has twelve P-500 torpedo tubes, double-upgraded with the most advanced electronic warfare suites anywhere in the Holy Russian Empire.  With that battleship to deal with, the last thing these cruisers need to worry about is swarms of Russian torpedoes, too.  The two fleets meet at the second moon of the Avezzano planet (99 Hercules Gamma-2), roughly the size of the planet Mercury, named Lucianna di Genoa for a duchess of terrestrial Italy. Although gigantic, the Leo Magnus is surprisingly fast for a ship her size, her guns pin-point accurate and heavily upgraded in hitting power and range. In short, a single hit from her 21-teravolt EPCs and 90 eHz syglex emitters can cleave clean through the armor of a light cruiser, even at a range of over 9500 kilometers (the distance between London and Capetown, a fact she quickly brings home to the hapless light cruiser Sendai Byo. Even here, at the comfortable “medium” range of 5000+ km, she carves open Sendai Byo’s port bow like a Christmas turkey, instantly hitting magazines, burning mass driver turrets out of the hull, smashing open torpedo bays, crippling sensor suites and incinerating maneuvering thrusters. It’s frankly pure luck that spares Sendai Byo’s bridge, otherwise the 83,000 ton cruiser would be smacked out of the battle in the opening salvo. The British and Japanese respond, aiming guns at the little K-98. At this range the 15,000-ton corvette is almost impossible to hit, but these British and Japanese crews are expert shots, and K-98 is crippled. It seems like a small victory, but the K-98 has twelve P-500 torpedo tubes, double-upgraded with the most advanced electronic warfare suites anywhere in the Holy Russian Empire. With that battleship to deal with, the last thing these cruisers need to worry about is swarms of Russian torpedoes, too.
As the Leo Magnus continues to keep the intruders in her broadside,  hammering the Sendai Byo again.  The Japanese accelerate and dive right toward the Roman behemoth, somewhat leaving the British behind a bit.  But the Japanese are trying to set up an eventual angle behind the Leo Magnus, and also present heavily-fortified bows to those terrifying guns.  The Sendai reels again, yet still remains in the fight, although a fresh forward facing of shielding and armor is now reduced to a twisted, flaming ruin.  The Russian destroyers hedge ahead of the Leo Magnus, pivoting to port to keep torpedo tubes facing the enemy.  The British execute a shallow S-turn, keeping port broadsides to the enemy, now hammering on the destroyer Syekyra, still trying to chew down that enemy torpedo load.  Again they and the Japanese are successful, and the Russian destroyer’s bow, forward torpedo tubes, magazine, and finally bridge are smashed open, leaving the ship a crippled wreck.   As the Leo Magnus continues to keep the intruders in her broadside, hammering the Sendai Byo again. The Japanese accelerate and dive right toward the Roman behemoth, somewhat leaving the British behind a bit. But the Japanese are trying to set up an eventual angle behind the Leo Magnus, and also present heavily-fortified bows to those terrifying guns. The Sendai reels again, yet still remains in the fight, although a fresh forward facing of shielding and armor is now reduced to a twisted, flaming ruin. The Russian destroyers hedge ahead of the Leo Magnus, pivoting to port to keep torpedo tubes facing the enemy. The British execute a shallow S-turn, keeping port broadsides to the enemy, now hammering on the destroyer Syekyra, still trying to chew down that enemy torpedo load. Again they and the Japanese are successful, and the Russian destroyer’s bow, forward torpedo tubes, magazine, and finally bridge are smashed open, leaving the ship a crippled wreck.
The Leo Magnus finally turns away from the moon, putting a THIRD broadside in to the long-suffering Sendai Byo, just as she and the Kama finally get into good broadside range on the Roman battleship.  The Kama is particularly well-positioned, able to tear open Leo Magnus’ port quarter with 18-teravolt EPVs and 12-megakelvin lasers (the biggest caliber in Known Space).  Although the Kama can get through Leo Magnus’ shields easily enough, her absurdly thick armor plating is another matter.  But while the Agamemnon and Retribution hammer on the Leo Magnus’ port bow in a truly withering barrage of lasers, rail guns, and especially 15-teravolt EPCs, the Sendai Byo can finally take no more.  Although she’s rolled over on her back to present her starboard side rather than her fatally-wounded port side, the cruel magnitude of the Leo Magnus’ broadside all but tears the sleek light cruiser in half.  Although she will eventually return to service, she will need 119 days in towing and dry dock (66 internal boxes hit, +50% for being crippled, +20 days for towing) to again stand ready to fly the Rising Sun.    The Leo Magnus finally turns away from the moon, putting a THIRD broadside in to the long-suffering Sendai Byo, just as she and the Kama finally get into good broadside range on the Roman battleship. The Kama is particularly well-positioned, able to tear open Leo Magnus’ port quarter with 18-teravolt EPVs and 12-megakelvin lasers (the biggest caliber in Known Space). Although the Kama can get through Leo Magnus’ shields easily enough, her absurdly thick armor plating is another matter. But while the Agamemnon and Retribution hammer on the Leo Magnus’ port bow in a truly withering barrage of lasers, rail guns, and especially 15-teravolt EPCs, the Sendai Byo can finally take no more. Although she’s rolled over on her back to present her starboard side rather than her fatally-wounded port side, the cruel magnitude of the Leo Magnus’ broadside all but tears the sleek light cruiser in half. Although she will eventually return to service, she will need 119 days in towing and dry dock (66 internal boxes hit, +50% for being crippled, +20 days for towing) to again stand ready to fly the Rising Sun.
The Leo Magnus peels away from Lucianna di Genoa, her grav rudder and maneuvering thrusters pulling hard against the moon’s gravity, the battleship rolling on her back to present starboard armor and shielding to the three remaining cruisers (stop me when this starts reminding people of the 1939 Battle of the River Plate).  But it can’t prevent the Kama and Agamemnon from edging behind her, their powerful combined broadsides how targeting Leo Magnus’ quarter.  At last the dreadnaught begins to shudder from hard hits to her starboard engines and reactors, even as her broadside ... now delivered at the punishing range of just 1400 kilometers ... positively incinerates the Agamemnon’s port side.  Making matters worse, the destroyer Rusalka has come hard about to cross Agamemnon’s stern, her rail guns and plasma projectors packing a startling punch at such close range.  The Leo Magnus peels away from Lucianna di Genoa, her grav rudder and maneuvering thrusters pulling hard against the moon’s gravity, the battleship rolling on her back to present starboard armor and shielding to the three remaining cruisers (stop me when this starts reminding people of the 1939 Battle of the River Plate). But it can’t prevent the Kama and Agamemnon from edging behind her, their powerful combined broadsides how targeting Leo Magnus’ quarter. At last the dreadnaught begins to shudder from hard hits to her starboard engines and reactors, even as her broadside ... now delivered at the punishing range of just 1400 kilometers ... positively incinerates the Agamemnon’s port side. Making matters worse, the destroyer Rusalka has come hard about to cross Agamemnon’s stern, her rail guns and plasma projectors packing a startling punch at such close range.
Still pulling against gravity, the Leo Magnus now makes a hard jackknife turn to starboard (turning “left,” remember she is inverted), determined to keep her engines and reactors clear of enemy guns for as long as possible.  HMS Retribution dives down to rejoin the fray, combining with Agamemnon and Kama to all fire into Leo Magnus’ starboard bow.  This is actually the first time all Allied ships have been lined up against the same facing of the dreadnaught, and even now they can’t fire full broadsides because of their own positioning.  But aft batteries of the Agamemnon and Retribution open up on the Rusalka, inflicting enough damage to force her captain to break off the action.  Forward batteries combine with the Kama to hit the Leo Magnus, hammering into sensors and mass drivers, trying to knock out some of her huge turrets or even better, her bridge.  But the sheer size of the battleship is just too much to shoot through right away, even if both her broadsides are now masses of glowing, twisted metal and jets of burning escaping atmosphere.  Still pulling against gravity, the Leo Magnus now makes a hard jackknife turn to starboard (turning “left,” remember she is inverted), determined to keep her engines and reactors clear of enemy guns for as long as possible. HMS Retribution dives down to rejoin the fray, combining with Agamemnon and Kama to all fire into Leo Magnus’ starboard bow. This is actually the first time all Allied ships have been lined up against the same facing of the dreadnaught, and even now they can’t fire full broadsides because of their own positioning. But aft batteries of the Agamemnon and Retribution open up on the Rusalka, inflicting enough damage to force her captain to break off the action. Forward batteries combine with the Kama to hit the Leo Magnus, hammering into sensors and mass drivers, trying to knock out some of her huge turrets or even better, her bridge. But the sheer size of the battleship is just too much to shoot through right away, even if both her broadsides are now masses of glowing, twisted metal and jets of burning escaping atmosphere.
The Leo Magnus turns hard to starboard and again dives toward Lucianna de Genoa, hoping to keep her worst damage screened against the moon’s bulk.  Her captain, Read Admiral Giuseppe Maccia, hopes to at least for the British and Japanese to dive dangerously close to the moon to get at his starboard side.  It’s a dare that Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish and Captain Seizo Yamamoto are happy to accept, with perilous dives and jackknife turns that put broadsides right into Leo Magnus’ starboard broadside.  However, the Agamemnon is also fatally close to the battleship, literally at POINT BLANK range directly abeam her full broadside.  It’s a fire phase that Agamemnon does not survive, the mighty Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser finally blown wide open and left a burning, crippled, spiraling mass of flames.   Her chief engineer has to eject her reactors before they detonate, setting off a blinding fusion explosion that puts a tiny, momentary new star in the 99 Hercules system.  The Retribution can’t quite join the main broadside, her maneuvering thrusters largely crippled and harried by Russian scouts and torpedoes.  All British scouts are shot down by the Leo Magnus as they try to fend off these Russian torpedoes, just one more indication of how desperate this battle is becoming.  However, all is not in vain.  Although she is STILL not crippled, the Leo Magnus now has holes blown deep through her midships superstructure, including medical bays, life support systems, troops bays, both starboard mass drivers, and forward hangar.  Three of her sensor suites are also gone, leaving her half-blind as well.  At last Rear-Admiral Maccia makes the call.  It’s time to break off. The Leo Magnus turns hard to starboard and again dives toward Lucianna de Genoa, hoping to keep her worst damage screened against the moon’s bulk. Her captain, Read Admiral Giuseppe Maccia, hopes to at least for the British and Japanese to dive dangerously close to the moon to get at his starboard side. It’s a dare that Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish and Captain Seizo Yamamoto are happy to accept, with perilous dives and jackknife turns that put broadsides right into Leo Magnus’ starboard broadside. However, the Agamemnon is also fatally close to the battleship, literally at POINT BLANK range directly abeam her full broadside. It’s a fire phase that Agamemnon does not survive, the mighty Trafalgar-class heavy cruiser finally blown wide open and left a burning, crippled, spiraling mass of flames. Her chief engineer has to eject her reactors before they detonate, setting off a blinding fusion explosion that puts a tiny, momentary new star in the 99 Hercules system. The Retribution can’t quite join the main broadside, her maneuvering thrusters largely crippled and harried by Russian scouts and torpedoes. All British scouts are shot down by the Leo Magnus as they try to fend off these Russian torpedoes, just one more indication of how desperate this battle is becoming. However, all is not in vain. Although she is STILL not crippled, the Leo Magnus now has holes blown deep through her midships superstructure, including medical bays, life support systems, troops bays, both starboard mass drivers, and forward hangar. Three of her sensor suites are also gone, leaving her half-blind as well. At last Rear-Admiral Maccia makes the call. It’s time to break off.
Here’s the thing.  Darkstar “assault score” games end on Turn 8 at the latest.  Ships that are forced to “break off” after taking a certain amount of “core damage” (internal, crew-heavy components and thus crew casualties) and then failing the corresponding percentile roll are must leave the table in good faith.  Basically, the ship has failed a “morale check.”  But such ships are still operational and can even use full weapons as they “cover their retreat.”  The formal break-off rules are as follows:  A ship that is breaking off must (a) not decelerate, and (b) MUST END their movement phase, if it is in any way legal or possible, at least one hex further from the closest enemy operational warship then they were when the ship starts its movement phase.  Now here’s the onion ... IF Leo Magnus technically remains on the table at the end of Turn 8, she counts for half victory points – so if she can legally remain on the table for two more turns, the Romans can probably pull off a draw or even a narrow victory.  For now, she was six hexes away from HMS Retribution at the start of her movement.  She must end her turn at least seven hexes away from the closest operational enemy ship.  The only way to pull this off is to accelerate by 2 to 7, which she reluctantly does (remember, she can’t decelerate).  Guns keep firing, and yes, now the HMS Retribution must also break off.  That makes three warships (Leo Magnus, Retribution, Rusalka) that are on the table and “running away.”  But ships that “don’t make it” are still worth half points, and note I am BARELY ABLE to keep Leo Magnus on the very last hex on the table!  So this game is still up in the air!  Here’s the thing. Darkstar “assault score” games end on Turn 8 at the latest. Ships that are forced to “break off” after taking a certain amount of “core damage” (internal, crew-heavy components and thus crew casualties) and then failing the corresponding percentile roll are must leave the table in good faith. Basically, the ship has failed a “morale check.” But such ships are still operational and can even use full weapons as they “cover their retreat.” The formal break-off rules are as follows: A ship that is breaking off must (a) not decelerate, and (b) MUST END their movement phase, if it is in any way legal or possible, at least one hex further from the closest enemy operational warship then they were when the ship starts its movement phase. Now here’s the onion ... IF Leo Magnus technically remains on the table at the end of Turn 8, she counts for half victory points – so if she can legally remain on the table for two more turns, the Romans can probably pull off a draw or even a narrow victory. For now, she was six hexes away from HMS Retribution at the start of her movement. She must end her turn at least seven hexes away from the closest operational enemy ship. The only way to pull this off is to accelerate by 2 to 7, which she reluctantly does (remember, she can’t decelerate). Guns keep firing, and yes, now the HMS Retribution must also break off. That makes three warships (Leo Magnus, Retribution, Rusalka) that are on the table and “running away.” But ships that “don’t make it” are still worth half points, and note I am BARELY ABLE to keep Leo Magnus on the very last hex on the table! So this game is still up in the air!
Finally, it comes to a close.  The incessant attacks by Japanese scouts finally manage to CRIPPLE the Rusalka - they’ve been hounding the open wound on her unshielded port quarter for a while now, with -3 sensor boxes hit I haven’t been able to shoot them down and they finally landed the lucky hit.  Rusalka is no longer breaking off, she is CRIPPLED, and thus worth no points.  I earnestly try to keep Leo Magnus on the table.  All I have to do is make a port turn (again, inverted) in hex 0731, come to heading 270, and skirt along the bottom of the board.  This gives me one more turn to broadside the Retribution and probably cripple her, AND force Kama to come down and engage Leo in a desperate hope to knock her out for good.  Yes this is the last turn of the game, if Leo Magnus can LEGALLY make this turn, she’s on the board at the end of Turn 8 and Damon and Rasmus HAVE to kill her or lose the game.  I have two thrust points (damaged maneuvering thrusters) and a velocity of 7 (not allowed to hit the brakes).  I am currently 8 hexes from the Retribution (Hex 0923, at the “beginning” of her red movement track).  I make the turn, and wind up 9 hexes from the Retribution (Hex 0531).  That’s it!  I win!  Except gravity takes its effect, pulling me one hex closer to the Lucianna de Genoa moon (Hex 0631).  This would leave me at 8 hexes from Retribution, the same distance I started, which means ... that is NOT a legal move.  Therefore, with no LEGAL way to meet the “breaking off” requirements, by strict interpretation of the Darkstar Rules 4.9.4.C and 5.2.1.A (and of course not turning to heading 150 and crashing into the moon) I have to leave the table.  This means the Leo Magnus counts for NO points (she’s hugely expensive) and thus the game shakes out as a thick British-Japanese victory.  But MAN, guys ... this one was CLOSER than the score suggests.  But for the GRAVITY effects on ONE HEX, if Leo Magnus had just ONE MORE HEX to work with, she stays on the table for half points (209) and I get a score of 218 to Damon-Rasmus’ 220.  That’s a margin of 3/10 of 1%, and per Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.C.i (p 98), a score has to margin out at least +/-5% or it’s a draw.  So this game came down to the gravity effects of ONE HEX.Finally, it comes to a close. The incessant attacks by Japanese scouts finally manage to CRIPPLE the Rusalka - they’ve been hounding the open wound on her unshielded port quarter for a while now, with -3 sensor boxes hit I haven’t been able to shoot them down and they finally landed the lucky hit. Rusalka is no longer breaking off, she is CRIPPLED, and thus worth no points. I earnestly try to keep Leo Magnus on the table. All I have to do is make a port turn (again, inverted) in hex 0731, come to heading 270, and skirt along the bottom of the board. This gives me one more turn to broadside the Retribution and probably cripple her, AND force Kama to come down and engage Leo in a desperate hope to knock her out for good. Yes this is the last turn of the game, if Leo Magnus can LEGALLY make this turn, she’s on the board at the end of Turn 8 and Damon and Rasmus HAVE to kill her or lose the game. I have two thrust points (damaged maneuvering thrusters) and a velocity of 7 (not allowed to hit the brakes). I am currently 8 hexes from the Retribution (Hex 0923, at the “beginning” of her red movement track). I make the turn, and wind up 9 hexes from the Retribution (Hex 0531). That’s it! I win! Except gravity takes its effect, pulling me one hex closer to the Lucianna de Genoa moon (Hex 0631). This would leave me at 8 hexes from Retribution, the same distance I started, which means ... that is NOT a legal move. Therefore, with no LEGAL way to meet the “breaking off” requirements, by strict interpretation of the Darkstar Rules 4.9.4.C and 5.2.1.A (and of course not turning to heading 150 and crashing into the moon) I have to leave the table. This means the Leo Magnus counts for NO points (she’s hugely expensive) and thus the game shakes out as a thick British-Japanese victory. But MAN, guys ... this one was CLOSER than the score suggests. But for the GRAVITY effects on ONE HEX, if Leo Magnus had just ONE MORE HEX to work with, she stays on the table for half points (209) and I get a score of 218 to Damon-Rasmus’ 220. That’s a margin of 3/10 of 1%, and per Darkstar Rule 5.2.1.C.i (p 98), a score has to margin out at least +/-5% or it’s a draw. So this game came down to the gravity effects of ONE HEX.
The Battle of Avezzano is over.  This was one for the record books, folks, and no mistake.  The crippled K-98 will later be chased down and finished off by the same Japanese scouts that crippled the destroyer Rusalka, but her skipper survives and will be rescued.  The damage control fight to save the Agamemnon will be epic (it will be forever one of those “miracles” in the Royal Navy that she survived), while the Sendai Byo will be in dry dock for almost four months.  Retribution is limping out of the battle area, while even the Kama bears deep scars of the fight.  Meanwhile, the Leo Magnus left the table under her own power, but will admittedly be in Catania shipyard for 147 days (Damon and Rasmus inflicted 147 boxes of internal damage on her) after the 89 days it will take her 9th-wave Darkstar drive to get her the 39 light-years to Catania.  So in all we’re looking at 236 days, basically eight months . . . she’s realistically out of the war.  Meanwhile the Marines and Paras land on Luciana di Genoa and seize the moon’s orbital and ground installations, and after the 30% “political shift” was rolled (% chance determined by the size of the battle and its outcome), it’s determined that Roman Alliance is forced to sign the Avezzano colony over to Great Britain and Japan entirely.  With their new campaign score of -8, it’s clear the Romans are a hair’s breadth away from giving up on this war altogether, their involvement as disastrous as it has been brief.  Now we’ll see if the Arab League can win a battle against he Russians this week, and if so, 72 Hercules is at last lined up for a three-way smash from the UK, the Japanese, and the Arab League, all at once!   The Battle of Avezzano is over. This was one for the record books, folks, and no mistake. The crippled K-98 will later be chased down and finished off by the same Japanese scouts that crippled the destroyer Rusalka, but her skipper survives and will be rescued. The damage control fight to save the Agamemnon will be epic (it will be forever one of those “miracles” in the Royal Navy that she survived), while the Sendai Byo will be in dry dock for almost four months. Retribution is limping out of the battle area, while even the Kama bears deep scars of the fight. Meanwhile, the Leo Magnus left the table under her own power, but will admittedly be in Catania shipyard for 147 days (Damon and Rasmus inflicted 147 boxes of internal damage on her) after the 89 days it will take her 9th-wave Darkstar drive to get her the 39 light-years to Catania. So in all we’re looking at 236 days, basically eight months . . . she’s realistically out of the war. Meanwhile the Marines and Paras land on Luciana di Genoa and seize the moon’s orbital and ground installations, and after the 30% “political shift” was rolled (% chance determined by the size of the battle and its outcome), it’s determined that Roman Alliance is forced to sign the Avezzano colony over to Great Britain and Japan entirely. With their new campaign score of -8, it’s clear the Romans are a hair’s breadth away from giving up on this war altogether, their involvement as disastrous as it has been brief. Now we’ll see if the Arab League can win a battle against he Russians this week, and if so, 72 Hercules is at last lined up for a three-way smash from the UK, the Japanese, and the Arab League, all at once!

Japanese Assault on "Bleeding Edge" (Ragnarssonland - Gliese 649 Sigma-19)

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
1 Comment

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
06:05 SOL GMT, 10 APRIL 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: JAPANESE ASSAULT ON “BLEEDING EDGE” (Ragnarssonland – Gliese 649 Sigma-19)

In response to the recent American raid at Katajima, the Imperial Japanese Navy has mounted a major counterstrike at the base from which the Americans launched the Katajima incursion.  These are the corporate “Ragnarssonland” colonies (Gliese 649 star system) formerly held by Imperial Prussia until forfeited at the end of the Second Hercules War in 2513-14.

As is often their habit, the Corporate Consortium has to date played a quiet role in the Third Hercules War.  Although technically part of the Coalition of Eagles, they have not taken significant action against their hostile “Renkei Alliance” Japanese neighbors in Zeta Hercules for some time.  This didn’t stop them from allowing the US Navy’s “Battlegroup Collingsworth” access to their Ragnarssonland holdings for the Katajima raid, of course.  Unfortunately, that raid was an abject failure, and now the Japanese are coming for payback.

But the Japanese aren’t coming for a simple punitive raid.  This is a powerful assault spearheaded by Task Force Naginata under the flag of Commodore Hiromi Ozawa.  With a combat record extending over ten years back to the 19 Draconis War of 2512, and commanding some of the most experienced, prestigious, and decorated crews in the Imperial Japanese Navy, this potent “Tenonoken” (Sword of the Emperor) formation includes the heavy cruiser Naginata (practically a pocket battleship), the bristling light fleet carrier Nagashima (carrying the double-elite “Kotukai Donryu” – Naval Air Group “Storm Dragon”), the prestigious and venerable “legacy ship” light cruiser Takakawa, and the sleek, swift, high-tech destroyer Kikasa.

Even more ominously, behind this task force are three Shimada class light carriers converted to troop ships, their aerospace fighters and bombers replaced with tanks, APCs, and elite Naval Landing Force infantry.  This isn’t a raid, this is an invasion and assault.  Not only are the Japanese looking for punitive retribution for the Katajima raid, but also to win a staging point for a possible joint Anglo-Japanese invasion of 72 Hercules (Krasnaya Nadhezda), Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish’s proposed war-winning assault and invasion of the Holy Russian Empire’s regional capital.

Arrayed against this assault is the bulk of Carrier Task Force Liberty under the flag of Captain Zachary Thomas Irons.  Comprised of the Endeavor class light fleet carrier USS Liberty, the new light cruiser USS Northampton, the destroyer Cowpens and frigate John Young, it is supplemented by warships from Task Force Oriskany, including the veteran destroyer USS Valley Forge and the USMC light strike carrier USS Tarawa.

The two fleets meet at the nineteenth moon of the eighteenth planet of the Gleise 419 system, a sphere of economically-rich silicon about 80% the size of Venus.  Playfully named “Bleeding Edge” by its Cignis Corporation owners, the world is orbited by two mining, shipping, and administrative installations named for the locally-famous “company TGIF” bars on them: The Nimble Toad and Space Chili’s.  Such quirky names belie the gravity of the battle about to be waged over their possession.

Such gravity is not lost upon the two battlefleets, however.  Many of the men and women on these converging warships have known each other for the better part of ten years, having fought against each other as blood-enemies in the 19 Draconis and Andromeda Arc Wars, then fighting as blood-brothers in the Xi Scorpio and Scorpion’s Tail Wars (where many of them became personal lifelong friends).  Yet here they meet again as foes, subject to the cruel ironies of duty, fate, and 26th Century colonial politics.

Leaving such sentiments for poets and historians, we are left with the business of the day.  Ozawa’s flagship has just dropped out of her Darkstar wave, and the Battle for Bleeding Edge is about to begin.

ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (583 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in April, 2522.  As the British strive to assemble a “coalitional” invasion of 72 Hercules, Japanese involvement in such an invasion is perhaps dependent on subduing any American / Corporate threat from their “left flank” in Gliese 649. Given the abortive American “Katajima Raid” against Zeta Hercules last month, the Japanese have resolved to silence this nuisance once and for all. The general situation of the Third Hercules War in April, 2522. As the British strive to assemble a “coalitional” invasion of 72 Hercules, Japanese involvement in such an invasion is perhaps dependent on subduing any American / Corporate threat from their “left flank” in Gliese 649. Given the abortive American “Katajima Raid” against Zeta Hercules last month, the Japanese have resolved to silence this nuisance once and for all.
Both fleets detect each other on the daylight side of the Ragnarssonland Sigma gas giant and pivot towards its largest moon, Sigma 19 “Bleeding Edge.”  Both sides set a relatively fast and “close shave” approach trajectory, skimming the moon’s atmosphere and threading toward gaps between industrial debris fields and the “Nimble Toad” and “Space Chili’s” orbital installations.  Captains Irons and Jack Morrison (USS Northampton) see what Commodore Ozawa (IJN Naginata) is up to and tap the brakes just a little, allowing their cruiser, destroyers, and frigate to pivot to present a broadside.  Full frontal Japanese guns, however cripple the destroyer USS Cowpens outright, the worst damage by far inflicted by the horrific forward 18-teravolt EPCs of the Naginata, scoring four out of six hits, plus a gigantic 12-magakelvin laser.  These beam weapons slash through USS Cowpens’ bridge and forward magazines, torpedo racks, port and starboard bow mass drivers.  Captain Rachel Collingsworth escapes serious injury, but the ship loses power and slews out of the battle.  The rest of the American task force returns fire broadside, the Northampton tearing open the Kikasa’s bow at 1800 kilometers.  The destroyer Valley Forge and frigate John Young follow up, their lasers, rail guns, and EPCs smashing through sensors, bow mass drivers, and collapsing the forward shields.  Captain Hashida Kamanaga is forced to break off the action, his sleek destroyer suffering a chain reaction of decompressions.  The carriers, cruisers, and destroyers of both sides also launch massive torpedo spreads and aerospace strike wings, including the elite US Navy VSF-221 (The Dead Rabbits) fighter squadron, VSA-193 (The Eight Ball Express) bomber squadron, US Marine Corps’ VMF/A-319 (The Tigersharks) squadron and the elite Japanese Kotukai Donryu (Naval Air Group “Storm Dragon”).Both fleets detect each other on the daylight side of the Ragnarssonland Sigma gas giant and pivot towards its largest moon, Sigma 19 “Bleeding Edge.” Both sides set a relatively fast and “close shave” approach trajectory, skimming the moon’s atmosphere and threading toward gaps between industrial debris fields and the “Nimble Toad” and “Space Chili’s” orbital installations. Captains Irons and Jack Morrison (USS Northampton) see what Commodore Ozawa (IJN Naginata) is up to and tap the brakes just a little, allowing their cruiser, destroyers, and frigate to pivot to present a broadside. Full frontal Japanese guns, however cripple the destroyer USS Cowpens outright, the worst damage by far inflicted by the horrific forward 18-teravolt EPCs of the Naginata, scoring four out of six hits, plus a gigantic 12-magakelvin laser. These beam weapons slash through USS Cowpens’ bridge and forward magazines, torpedo racks, port and starboard bow mass drivers. Captain Rachel Collingsworth escapes serious injury, but the ship loses power and slews out of the battle. The rest of the American task force returns fire broadside, the Northampton tearing open the Kikasa’s bow at 1800 kilometers. The destroyer Valley Forge and frigate John Young follow up, their lasers, rail guns, and EPCs smashing through sensors, bow mass drivers, and collapsing the forward shields. Captain Hashida Kamanaga is forced to break off the action, his sleek destroyer suffering a chain reaction of decompressions. The carriers, cruisers, and destroyers of both sides also launch massive torpedo spreads and aerospace strike wings, including the elite US Navy VSF-221 (The Dead Rabbits) fighter squadron, VSA-193 (The Eight Ball Express) bomber squadron, US Marine Corps’ VMF/A-319 (The Tigersharks) squadron and the elite Japanese Kotukai Donryu (Naval Air Group “Storm Dragon”).
American and Japanese aerospace wings immediately set into each other, with two American and four Japanese bombers shot down by each others’ scouts as they angle for torpedo runs on warship targets.  Again, the Americans largely outguess the Japanese approach, setting up USS Liberty so her vulnerable engines and reactors are at least partially screened by debris fields.  The Japanese are also coming on just a shade too fast, and can’t turn fast enough to make quite the maneuvers they want.  The light cruiser Takakawa makes a port turn to present a broadside against the American approach, but the Valley Forge and John Young avoid this and cross Takakawa’s stern point-blank.  The huge Naginata crosses both their sterns, only to be crossed in turn by Northampton.  The carriers try to hide out of the way while also avoiding debris fields and keeping Bleeding Edge’s gravity field in mind.  It’s an absolute nightmare of high-speed, hairpin turns in a deadly obstacle course, the moon’s gravity bending everyone’s course, huge point-blank broadsides threatening from around every corner.  Nevertheless, the Americans have largely won the maneuver match here.  But the sheer size, accuracy, and hitting power of the Japanese batteries (especially Naginata and Takakawa), especially at these ranges, may render this a moot point.American and Japanese aerospace wings immediately set into each other, with two American and four Japanese bombers shot down by each others’ scouts as they angle for torpedo runs on warship targets. Again, the Americans largely outguess the Japanese approach, setting up USS Liberty so her vulnerable engines and reactors are at least partially screened by debris fields. The Japanese are also coming on just a shade too fast, and can’t turn fast enough to make quite the maneuvers they want. The light cruiser Takakawa makes a port turn to present a broadside against the American approach, but the Valley Forge and John Young avoid this and cross Takakawa’s stern point-blank. The huge Naginata crosses both their sterns, only to be crossed in turn by Northampton. The carriers try to hide out of the way while also avoiding debris fields and keeping Bleeding Edge’s gravity field in mind. It’s an absolute nightmare of high-speed, hairpin turns in a deadly obstacle course, the moon’s gravity bending everyone’s course, huge point-blank broadsides threatening from around every corner. Nevertheless, the Americans have largely won the maneuver match here. But the sheer size, accuracy, and hitting power of the Japanese batteries (especially Naginata and Takakawa), especially at these ranges, may render this a moot point.
YOU MAY WANT TO EXPAND THIS IMAGE FOR BEST RESULTS - This image is the same as above, on an expanded hex grid so we can see just what the hell is going on in this prison riot of starships.  First up, the Japanese flagship IJN Naginata is hit by four Mark 48 torpedoes astern.  The hapless Takakawa, victor at Katajima, is hit by no less than FIFTEEN torpedoes from the Eight Ball Express and the Tigersharks, then six missiles from the Dead Rabbits.  USS Northampton hit astern by two torpedoes and five missiles from Stormdragon Naval Air Group.  Naginata fires her gigantic forward guns, all six of her huge 18-teravolt EPCs hitting the Tarawa on her port quarter, instantly leaving her spinning crippled through space.  Naginata’s aft guns burn savage gashes through the USS Northampton that has just cut right behind her.  The Northampton fires her full point-blank broadside into the stern of the Naginata, already weakened by aforementioned torpedoes, Northampton’s EPCs and 8-megakelvin lasers slashing into Naginata’s fantail, detonating reactors and engines.  Naginata is more than crippled, her whole aft third tearing apart in a ripple of internal explosions.  In fact, Captain Jack Morrison orders his last guns to switch to the Takakawa before Northampton EXPLODES the huge Japanese heavy cruiser.  An instant later the Takakawa cuts lose with her forward 6-gigwatt rail guns and 15-teravolt EPCs into the Northampton, along with long-ranged EPCs of the fleeing Kikasa.  At last the Northampton shudders and goes dark, spiraling through space in a hail of molten metal and twisted debris, just barely clearing the northern terminator of the Bleeding Edge moon before the gravity slingshot hurls her out into interplanetary space.  Valley Forge and valiant little John Young fire broadsides point-blank into the stern of the Takakawa, devastating her powerplant and engineering sections, leaving Takakawa a derelict wreck as well, just before John Young takes two long-ranged hits on the starboard bow from Kikasa’s long-ranged syglex emitters.  Four warships, 390,000 tons of shipping, have been left ravaged hulks inside of sixty seconds, in addition to the fifth ship crippled and sixth ship forced to retire just one minute before.YOU MAY WANT TO EXPAND THIS IMAGE FOR BEST RESULTS - This image is the same as above, on an expanded hex grid so we can see just what the hell is going on in this prison riot of starships. First up, the Japanese flagship IJN Naginata is hit by four Mark 48 torpedoes astern. The hapless Takakawa, victor at Katajima, is hit by no less than FIFTEEN torpedoes from the Eight Ball Express and the Tigersharks, then six missiles from the Dead Rabbits. USS Northampton hit astern by two torpedoes and five missiles from Stormdragon Naval Air Group. Naginata fires her gigantic forward guns, all six of her huge 18-teravolt EPCs hitting the Tarawa on her port quarter, instantly leaving her spinning crippled through space. Naginata’s aft guns burn savage gashes through the USS Northampton that has just cut right behind her. The Northampton fires her full point-blank broadside into the stern of the Naginata, already weakened by aforementioned torpedoes, Northampton’s EPCs and 8-megakelvin lasers slashing into Naginata’s fantail, detonating reactors and engines. Naginata is more than crippled, her whole aft third tearing apart in a ripple of internal explosions. In fact, Captain Jack Morrison orders his last guns to switch to the Takakawa before Northampton EXPLODES the huge Japanese heavy cruiser. An instant later the Takakawa cuts lose with her forward 6-gigwatt rail guns and 15-teravolt EPCs into the Northampton, along with long-ranged EPCs of the fleeing Kikasa. At last the Northampton shudders and goes dark, spiraling through space in a hail of molten metal and twisted debris, just barely clearing the northern terminator of the Bleeding Edge moon before the gravity slingshot hurls her out into interplanetary space. Valley Forge and valiant little John Young fire broadsides point-blank into the stern of the Takakawa, devastating her powerplant and engineering sections, leaving Takakawa a derelict wreck as well, just before John Young takes two long-ranged hits on the starboard bow from Kikasa’s long-ranged syglex emitters. Four warships, 390,000 tons of shipping, have been left ravaged hulks inside of sixty seconds, in addition to the fifth ship crippled and sixth ship forced to retire just one minute before.
Wrecked ships careen out of the battle area, helplessly plunging at their last speed and trajectories, subject to the pull and slingshot of Bleeding Edge’s gravity.  What few ships are left try to shake off the shock, recover and win the battle.  The destroyer USS Valley Forge and frigate USS John Young come hard about and cross the bow of the badly-damaged destroyer IJN Kikasa, her fo’c’sle largely gutted in the opening American broadside.  Remember that Kikasa has been forced to break off the engagement, she has to leave but still has power and long-ranged weapons, and so still poses a threat.  Kikasa’s forward 60 eHz syglex emitter is blown out of the hull, and crew casualties continue to mount, but Kikasa’s forward guns slam into the Valley Forge in turn.  Meanwhile, two Ki-45 torpedoes from IJN Nagashima slam into the damaged starboard quarter of the Valley Forge (from the opposite direction).  The internal blast cavitates through the starboard engineering compartments, and the Valley Forge is left burning, adrift, and without power. American torpedoes and fighters swarm against the carrier Nagashima, but eighteen A9M “Kataka” (Fire Hawk) fighters of the Stormdragon aerospace group return to defend her.  Two Mark 48s hit Nagashima’s heavily-shielded stern, combined with a strafing run by fourteen FS/A-44 “Star Corsair” fighters the Dead Rabbits while Marine “Tigershark” Corsairs turn to fight off the Japanese fighters defending the carrier.  Five Fire Hawks and seven Corsairs go down in a furious dogfight (remember all three of these squadrons are double-elite), but the Nagashima does not falter, and neither does the Kikasa (despite a frantic attack by American scouts planes against her unshielded bow).  Despite the dreadful damage they’ve taken in the opening minutes of the engagement, the remaining Japanese warships are not giving up Bleeding Edge without a fight. Wrecked ships careen out of the battle area, helplessly plunging at their last speed and trajectories, subject to the pull and slingshot of Bleeding Edge’s gravity. What few ships are left try to shake off the shock, recover and win the battle. The destroyer USS Valley Forge and frigate USS John Young come hard about and cross the bow of the badly-damaged destroyer IJN Kikasa, her fo’c’sle largely gutted in the opening American broadside. Remember that Kikasa has been forced to break off the engagement, she has to leave but still has power and long-ranged weapons, and so still poses a threat. Kikasa’s forward 60 eHz syglex emitter is blown out of the hull, and crew casualties continue to mount, but Kikasa’s forward guns slam into the Valley Forge in turn. Meanwhile, two Ki-45 torpedoes from IJN Nagashima slam into the damaged starboard quarter of the Valley Forge (from the opposite direction). The internal blast cavitates through the starboard engineering compartments, and the Valley Forge is left burning, adrift, and without power. American torpedoes and fighters swarm against the carrier Nagashima, but eighteen A9M “Kataka” (Fire Hawk) fighters of the Stormdragon aerospace group return to defend her. Two Mark 48s hit Nagashima’s heavily-shielded stern, combined with a strafing run by fourteen FS/A-44 “Star Corsair” fighters the Dead Rabbits while Marine “Tigershark” Corsairs turn to fight off the Japanese fighters defending the carrier. Five Fire Hawks and seven Corsairs go down in a furious dogfight (remember all three of these squadrons are double-elite), but the Nagashima does not falter, and neither does the Kikasa (despite a frantic attack by American scouts planes against her unshielded bow). Despite the dreadful damage they’ve taken in the opening minutes of the engagement, the remaining Japanese warships are not giving up Bleeding Edge without a fight.
As the Valley Forge corkscrews helplessly off the table and Kikasa is force to reluctantly open the range, the frigate USS John Young comes hard about again and races to rejoin the Liberty, hoping the two remaining American ships can defend each other from swarms of Japanese Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes and vengeful fighters of the Storm Dragon strike group.  It doesn’t work.  Although one A9M is shot down by John Young’s squad 40mm mass drivers, the rest tear into her with a cannon strafe attack that collapses her starboard bow shields and sets off her forward magazine (remember her starboard bow was damaged earlier by Kikasa’s syglex emitters).  The John Young is left burning and dead in space, but seven more Fire Hawks are shot down by Corsair fighters of the Dead Rabbits and Tigersharks.  Spreads of Ki-45 and Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes both fail against the USS Liberty and IJN Nagashima, respectively (the last Japanese warhead BARELY misses against the Liberty’s double-enhanced shielded and electronic warfare suite), but it can’t be denied that the Japanese are still chipping away at the early American lead.  With Valley Forge and John Young now down, the USS Liberty stands alone!  Can the Japanese steal this one back?      As the Valley Forge corkscrews helplessly off the table and Kikasa is force to reluctantly open the range, the frigate USS John Young comes hard about again and races to rejoin the Liberty, hoping the two remaining American ships can defend each other from swarms of Japanese Ki-45 “Toryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes and vengeful fighters of the Storm Dragon strike group. It doesn’t work. Although one A9M is shot down by John Young’s squad 40mm mass drivers, the rest tear into her with a cannon strafe attack that collapses her starboard bow shields and sets off her forward magazine (remember her starboard bow was damaged earlier by Kikasa’s syglex emitters). The John Young is left burning and dead in space, but seven more Fire Hawks are shot down by Corsair fighters of the Dead Rabbits and Tigersharks. Spreads of Ki-45 and Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes both fail against the USS Liberty and IJN Nagashima, respectively (the last Japanese warhead BARELY misses against the Liberty’s double-enhanced shielded and electronic warfare suite), but it can’t be denied that the Japanese are still chipping away at the early American lead. With Valley Forge and John Young now down, the USS Liberty stands alone! Can the Japanese steal this one back?
Her whole forward superstructure burning or open to space, the destroyer Kikasa must finally leave the battle, now leaving the carrier Nagashima to stand alone against the last American warship, the carrier USS Liberty.  Nagashima and Liberty maneuver around the asteroids and Nimble Toad station, both carriers also re-launching bombers (B7N “Tenrai” Heavenly Thunders and FS/A-81 Avengers, respectively) that were previously recovered and rearmed for second torpedo strikes.  Three of the American bombers go immediately to Japanese fighters and scouts, but the Nagashima is hit by a stunning FIFTEEN ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes launched from these bombers.  Nagashima’s starboard quarter is reduced to a twisted semi-molten mass, but she’s still operational . . . at least until seventeen Navy and Marine Corps Corsairs and eleven scouts begin a mass, point-blank gunnery attack on her previously damaged stern.  It’s just enough, and the  Nagashima is crippled. Meanwhile, the handful of eight Ki-86 “Ryusei” (Shooting Star) torpedoes launched by the Storm Dragon bombers were shot down by the Liberty’s mass drivers.  The Battle of Bleeding Edge is over.Her whole forward superstructure burning or open to space, the destroyer Kikasa must finally leave the battle, now leaving the carrier Nagashima to stand alone against the last American warship, the carrier USS Liberty. Nagashima and Liberty maneuver around the asteroids and Nimble Toad station, both carriers also re-launching bombers (B7N “Tenrai” Heavenly Thunders and FS/A-81 Avengers, respectively) that were previously recovered and rearmed for second torpedo strikes. Three of the American bombers go immediately to Japanese fighters and scouts, but the Nagashima is hit by a stunning FIFTEEN ASM-56 Harpoon torpedoes launched from these bombers. Nagashima’s starboard quarter is reduced to a twisted semi-molten mass, but she’s still operational . . . at least until seventeen Navy and Marine Corps Corsairs and eleven scouts begin a mass, point-blank gunnery attack on her previously damaged stern. It’s just enough, and the Nagashima is crippled. Meanwhile, the handful of eight Ki-86 “Ryusei” (Shooting Star) torpedoes launched by the Storm Dragon bombers were shot down by the Liberty’s mass drivers. The Battle of Bleeding Edge is over.
As the wreck of the Nagashima careens out of the moon’s orbit, the surviving Japanese aerospace craft gather around her and begin sending distress calls.  Captain Zachary Irons immediate stands down, recovering his bombers again preparing his fighters and scouts for orbital sweeps, charting drift trajectories of wrecked ships, ejected pilots, and escape boats.  The Liberty also launches a full spread of URBs (universal rescue beacons), declaring the area a cease-fire zone and broadcasting telemetry on wrecks for rescue and recovery efforts.  While such is common practice for most battles in Darkstar, here the efforts are even more earnest as again, these men and women all KNOW each other.  Even the three invasion ships are allowed into the system to help tow wrecks, recover pilots, send damage control parties, and evacuate wounded.  There some protest from the corporate vice-presidents at Ragnarssonland colony, but such squawks are cold ignored by Captain Morrison . . . while Captain Irons blatantly threatens them with a “visit from the Eight Ball Express.”  When the corporations go over their head to Read-Admiral Virginia Saunders (CNO, US Navy Lyra/Hercules SCS), she offers a few platitudes while quietly promising her commanders that while US-Japanese hostilities will doubtlessly continue, she will do her level best not to put Task Force Liberty or Oriskany specifically against Task Force Naginata. As the wreck of the Nagashima careens out of the moon’s orbit, the surviving Japanese aerospace craft gather around her and begin sending distress calls. Captain Zachary Irons immediate stands down, recovering his bombers again preparing his fighters and scouts for orbital sweeps, charting drift trajectories of wrecked ships, ejected pilots, and escape boats. The Liberty also launches a full spread of URBs (universal rescue beacons), declaring the area a cease-fire zone and broadcasting telemetry on wrecks for rescue and recovery efforts. While such is common practice for most battles in Darkstar, here the efforts are even more earnest as again, these men and women all KNOW each other. Even the three invasion ships are allowed into the system to help tow wrecks, recover pilots, send damage control parties, and evacuate wounded. There some protest from the corporate vice-presidents at Ragnarssonland colony, but such squawks are cold ignored by Captain Morrison . . . while Captain Irons blatantly threatens them with a “visit from the Eight Ball Express.” When the corporations go over their head to Read-Admiral Virginia Saunders (CNO, US Navy Lyra/Hercules SCS), she offers a few platitudes while quietly promising her commanders that while US-Japanese hostilities will doubtlessly continue, she will do her level best not to put Task Force Liberty or Oriskany specifically against Task Force Naginata.
The updated state of the Third Hercules War.  As you can see, the Americans are about to leave this war for good, having won leases and concessions from both the UK in the Treaty of Zubrin and the Corporate Consortium after their defense of Ragnarssonland / Gliese 649.  As for the Japanese and British, a powerful combined cruiser group of Task Forces Agamemnon and Kama have been prepared for a strike against the Russians or the New Roman Alliance (perhaps both).  This will be another big one (live game with Rasmus and Damon), perhaps what the British and Japanese need to reverse recent fortunes and put 72 Hercules back in the crosshairs . . . The updated state of the Third Hercules War. As you can see, the Americans are about to leave this war for good, having won leases and concessions from both the UK in the Treaty of Zubrin and the Corporate Consortium after their defense of Ragnarssonland / Gliese 649. As for the Japanese and British, a powerful combined cruiser group of Task Forces Agamemnon and Kama have been prepared for a strike against the Russians or the New Roman Alliance (perhaps both). This will be another big one (live game with Rasmus and Damon), perhaps what the British and Japanese need to reverse recent fortunes and put 72 Hercules back in the crosshairs . . .

Russian Assault on Nakir's Riddle (14 Hercules 5.22)

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FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UN HERCULES SCS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
023:40 SOL GMT, 24 MARCH 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: RUSSIAN ASSAULT ON NAKIR’S RIDDLE (14 Hercules 5.22)

By now the naval intelligence bureaus of the Holy Russian Empire have confirmed and re-confirmed reports of a building British effort against their regional capital at Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope – 72 Hercules).  After their latest victory at Belinda’s Promise (Mu Hercules C6-Beta), the Royal Navy is ready.  However, the Admiralty wants to ensure an allied naval power shares in the glory (read: bloody cost) of assaulting the Russian stronghold.  In a vein less mercenary, the British Foreign Office is also convinced that the United Nations and Jerusalem Council would never let the British Empire alone control such a vast swath of the Hercules Rim in perpetuity.  At least on the surface, the British would have to share the spoils of such a victory lest they be seen as blatant neo-Victorian imperialists.  And if they’ll have to share the spoils, all the more reason to share the cost.

This puts the Admiralty in a tough spot, as now they’ll have to wait until one of their allies in the region, either the Arab League or the Japanese, are similarly poised for a final strike on Krasnaya Nadhezda.  The Japanese are winning, sure enough, having handily driven off a recent American raid at Katajima (Zeta Hercules A3).  But they’re already deep into launching a counter-assault into Ragnarssonland, the Corporate Consortium system from which the Americans launched their Katajima raid.  As for the Arab League . . .

. . . they’ve just been assaulted by the Holy Russian Empire at their Khaizan’s Haven caliphate (14 Hercules).

Indeed, Russian intelligence knows the British are waiting for either the Japanese or Arab League to join with them in a converging assault, and head-on attacks against the Royal Navy have been less than successful as of late.  Therefore, the Russian Navy has resolved to strike British allies.  Since the Americans are tying up the Japanese, the choice is predictably simple: a full-on smash and invasion directly into the Khaizan Caliphate at 14 Hercules.

The strike lands at the frozen outer ice giant of Nakir’s Riddle (named for the legendary Islamic angel who queries souls of the dead to learn their worth).  Specifically, it lands at Nakir’s Riddle 5.22, twenty-second moon on this ice giant.  Large enough to mask the approach of a Russian invasion fleet in its eclipse shadow, and close enough to the planet to threaten caliphate installations and infrastructure if the Russian naval infantry are able to establish a presence here.

The Russian fleet is blunt and deadly in its purpose.  The flagship is the CPK (Holy Russian Ship) Tatiana Mikhailovnya, eldest daughter of the first Romanov czar. The Zhukov-class strike carrier Novorrosysk provides aerospace support (flying the elite all-female “Night Witches” naval strike squadron), the battlegroup screened by three deadly K-56 class torpedo corvettes.

The emir of the Khaizan caliphate has no choice but to send the Mutamid battlegroup to meet the threat, under the flag of Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi.  At under 98,000 tons, his flagship Mutamid is outweighed by Tatiana Mikhailovnya almost two-to one.  But both the Mutamid and the light carrier Abu Bashir can launch almost double the Night Witches’  number in aerospace strike craft, the Russians have no answer to the destroyers Kashan and Jeddah, and the Arab League fleet is much, much more maneuverable than their Russian opposites.

It’s another jaguar vs. grizzly matchup, speed and tactical agility stacked against weight, armor, and sheer firepower.  The question of who will win is perhaps the latest riddle the angel Nakir will ask in this cold, lonely corner of the Hercules Rim.

Holy Russian Empire – @oriskany
Arab League – @muakhah
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (244 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in March, 2522.  In order to deny any British opportunity for a joint, multinational strike against the Russians at 72 Hercules, the Russians are striving to keep British allies off-balance.  What better way than to seize and outer planet of the 14 Hercules system, and force the Khaizan Caliphate to mount a counter invasion to take it back? The general situation of the Third Hercules War in March, 2522. In order to deny any British opportunity for a joint, multinational strike against the Russians at 72 Hercules, the Russians are striving to keep British allies off-balance. What better way than to seize and outer planet of the 14 Hercules system, and force the Khaizan Caliphate to mount a counter invasion to take it back?
As we often see, the Russians are making a fast approach run out from behind the night terminator, hoping to close distance with the League as quickly as possible.  At shorter engagement ranges, their heavy plasma and rail gun batteries will hit harder, and their slower P-500 torpedoes will have an easier time reaching their targets. Captain al-Maghrebi, for his part, pivots to present a long-range broadside, hoping his accurate long-range gunfire can pick off the tiny K-56 class corvettes.  Learning the lessons of Pamzhdoye (72 Hercules Phi-16), al-Maghrebi means to pick off those corvettes in order to whittle down the huge torpedo waves they’ll send at him.  The plan starts to work, the K-275 has her bow almost completely blown off just as she slings out her torpedo spread, kicking down her forward shields and blowing both torpedo arrays clean out of the hull.As we often see, the Russians are making a fast approach run out from behind the night terminator, hoping to close distance with the League as quickly as possible. At shorter engagement ranges, their heavy plasma and rail gun batteries will hit harder, and their slower P-500 torpedoes will have an easier time reaching their targets. Captain al-Maghrebi, for his part, pivots to present a long-range broadside, hoping his accurate long-range gunfire can pick off the tiny K-56 class corvettes. Learning the lessons of Pamzhdoye (72 Hercules Phi-16), al-Maghrebi means to pick off those corvettes in order to whittle down the huge torpedo waves they’ll send at him. The plan starts to work, the K-275 has her bow almost completely blown off just as she slings out her torpedo spread, kicking down her forward shields and blowing both torpedo arrays clean out of the hull.
The K-275 veers away, hoping to hide her savaged bow amidst the asteroid debris orbiting alongside the ice giant moon.  Captain al-Maghrebi sidesteps away from the Russians, keeping them in his broadside and hedging toward the asteroid debris while keeping a wary eye out for possible collisions.  The Russians close formation and turn to starboard, setting up for a hard rake across Arab sterns in the next minute or so.  The Russians also send in their full aerospace / torpedo strike, no less than 52 P-500 torpedoes and a hail of aerospace missiles and torpedoes from the MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers of the Night Witches.  Yet here is where al-Maghrebi makes an unconventional move with his own larger aerospace wing.  He forgoes an immediate strike on the Russians, holding back and using his fighters defensively to shoot down huge numbers of the Russian warheads.  Yet the Mutamid is still crippled, instantly knocking out the League flagship.  Also, Russian scouts are able to get at the League bombers, the Night Witches shooting down three of them, thus diminishing the delayed League torpedo strike.  Yet the Russian “Sunday Punch” could have taken out the Mutamid and at least one of their destroyers as well, so al-Maghrebi may have saved his overall battlegroup even as he lost his task force. League torpedoes, meanwhile finish off the K-275 and maul the K-271, while they have absorbed the main firepower of the initial Russian strike.The K-275 veers away, hoping to hide her savaged bow amidst the asteroid debris orbiting alongside the ice giant moon. Captain al-Maghrebi sidesteps away from the Russians, keeping them in his broadside and hedging toward the asteroid debris while keeping a wary eye out for possible collisions. The Russians close formation and turn to starboard, setting up for a hard rake across Arab sterns in the next minute or so. The Russians also send in their full aerospace / torpedo strike, no less than 52 P-500 torpedoes and a hail of aerospace missiles and torpedoes from the MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers of the Night Witches. Yet here is where al-Maghrebi makes an unconventional move with his own larger aerospace wing. He forgoes an immediate strike on the Russians, holding back and using his fighters defensively to shoot down huge numbers of the Russian warheads. Yet the Mutamid is still crippled, instantly knocking out the League flagship. Also, Russian scouts are able to get at the League bombers, the Night Witches shooting down three of them, thus diminishing the delayed League torpedo strike. Yet the Russian “Sunday Punch” could have taken out the Mutamid and at least one of their destroyers as well, so al-Maghrebi may have saved his overall battlegroup even as he lost his task force. League torpedoes, meanwhile finish off the K-275 and maul the K-271, while they have absorbed the main firepower of the initial Russian strike.
Confident in that the aerospace strike has done its job, crippling the Mutamid and thus leaving the League battlegroup with just two destroyers, the Tatiana Mikhailovnya thunders in for a point-blank dust-up with Arab survivors.  But this just allows the two League destroyers, Kashan and Jeddah, to loop around behind the big Russian cruiser for a double broadside across her tail.  Outmaneuvered, the Russian behemoth flails behind her, her aft guns managing to knock out the Jeddah even as both League destroyers maul Tatiana’s stern.  In fact, the Russian cruiser gets off very light, only 25%  of the Arab guns hit despite the point-blank range.  Meanwhile, the fighters and surviving bombers line up for a strike on Tatiana’s stern but again, the big Russian lady survives.  Her armor, her shielding, and her sheer size weather the storm (although she’s lost one sensor suite and her engines and reactors are badly damaged).  More ominous news for the League comes when the Night Witch’s MiGs start carving down Arab   “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters, and her bombers all land aboard the Novorrossysk to be rearmed for a second strike.   Confident in that the aerospace strike has done its job, crippling the Mutamid and thus leaving the League battlegroup with just two destroyers, the Tatiana Mikhailovnya thunders in for a point-blank dust-up with Arab survivors. But this just allows the two League destroyers, Kashan and Jeddah, to loop around behind the big Russian cruiser for a double broadside across her tail. Outmaneuvered, the Russian behemoth flails behind her, her aft guns managing to knock out the Jeddah even as both League destroyers maul Tatiana’s stern. In fact, the Russian cruiser gets off very light, only 25% of the Arab guns hit despite the point-blank range. Meanwhile, the fighters and surviving bombers line up for a strike on Tatiana’s stern but again, the big Russian lady survives. Her armor, her shielding, and her sheer size weather the storm (although she’s lost one sensor suite and her engines and reactors are badly damaged). More ominous news for the League comes when the Night Witch’s MiGs start carving down Arab “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters, and her bombers all land aboard the Novorrossysk to be rearmed for a second strike.
Desperation beings to spread through the officers and crew of both battlegroups, either can simply leave because this is an ASSAULT, the Russians mean to put TROOPS on Nakir’s Riddle and the League HAS to stop them.  The Tatiana Mikhailovnya heads right for an asteroid and then comes hard about, hoping to screen her stern from further League attack.  It doesn’t work, even as the Jeddah careens out of the battle area, burning and crippled, her sistership Kashan pivots around behind the Russian cruiser for a second try.  League torpedoes slam into the K-271 so hard she actually explodes, killing about half her crew including her skipper, Lt. Commander Oleg K. Konstinokov.  The last Russian corvette, K-273, is badly mauled astern by a League torpedo but stays in the fight long enough to loose her very last torpedoes (yes, this battle has lasted long enough where both sides are running out of ammo).  The Kashan pays a brutal price for her point-blank attack across Tatiana’s stern, in fact she’s crippled by more Russian torpedoes, fighter strafing attacks, and hammering guns of the Tatiana’s aft batteries.  But it’s worth it, Tatiana is crippled and set adrift, in fact she’s nearly lost after the battle (it’s another Russian ship that has to tow her clear of the moon’s gravity well). Desperation beings to spread through the officers and crew of both battlegroups, either can simply leave because this is an ASSAULT, the Russians mean to put TROOPS on Nakir’s Riddle and the League HAS to stop them. The Tatiana Mikhailovnya heads right for an asteroid and then comes hard about, hoping to screen her stern from further League attack. It doesn’t work, even as the Jeddah careens out of the battle area, burning and crippled, her sistership Kashan pivots around behind the Russian cruiser for a second try. League torpedoes slam into the K-271 so hard she actually explodes, killing about half her crew including her skipper, Lt. Commander Oleg K. Konstinokov. The last Russian corvette, K-273, is badly mauled astern by a League torpedo but stays in the fight long enough to loose her very last torpedoes (yes, this battle has lasted long enough where both sides are running out of ammo). The Kashan pays a brutal price for her point-blank attack across Tatiana’s stern, in fact she’s crippled by more Russian torpedoes, fighter strafing attacks, and hammering guns of the Tatiana’s aft batteries. But it’s worth it, Tatiana is crippled and set adrift, in fact she’s nearly lost after the battle (it’s another Russian ship that has to tow her clear of the moon’s gravity well).
Exhausted and out of torpedoes, the two light carriers (they’re practically all either side has left) duck for cover as the last torpedoes launched last round race toward their targets.  The Novorossysk is hit but weathers it well, the Abu Bashir isn’t so lucky.  She survives and maintains power, but is forced to raise steam and break off the fight (crew casualties are very bad after a forward magazine explosion and a Night Witch fighter strafing attack ALMOST knocks out the damaged bridge).   Exhausted and out of torpedoes, the two light carriers (they’re practically all either side has left) duck for cover as the last torpedoes launched last round race toward their targets. The Novorossysk is hit but weathers it well, the Abu Bashir isn’t so lucky. She survives and maintains power, but is forced to raise steam and break off the fight (crew casualties are very bad after a forward magazine explosion and a Night Witch fighter strafing attack ALMOST knocks out the damaged bridge).
At last, the furious Battle of Nakir’s Riddle is over.  As the Abu Bashir powers out of the area and the Russians begin rescue and recovery operations, its clear that the Russians hold a narrow, bloody, hard-fought yet unmistakable edge in remaining operational naval assets.  The Nakir’s Riddle orbital zone is theirs.  Another Zhukov-class assault destroyer, the trop ship CPK Katukov, comes in with four grav tanks, two APCs, and 96 troops, enough to take the orbital installation over Nakir’s Riddle and the small surface installation below.  The moon has fallen, the Holy Russian Empire has a foothold in the Khaizan caliphate.  At last, the furious Battle of Nakir’s Riddle is over. As the Abu Bashir powers out of the area and the Russians begin rescue and recovery operations, its clear that the Russians hold a narrow, bloody, hard-fought yet unmistakable edge in remaining operational naval assets. The Nakir’s Riddle orbital zone is theirs. Another Zhukov-class assault destroyer, the trop ship CPK Katukov, comes in with four grav tanks, two APCs, and 96 troops, enough to take the orbital installation over Nakir’s Riddle and the small surface installation below. The moon has fallen, the Holy Russian Empire has a foothold in the Khaizan caliphate.
Needless to say, the Russian plan to disrupt British-League cooperation against 72 Hercules seems to be working for the moment.  To redress this setback, the League will have to launch another assault back into Nakir’s Riddle and WIN that battle, by which time the Americans may win against the Japanese in Ragnarssonland and the Russians may finally receive the long-awaited heavy reinforcements in the form of the Peter the Great class battleship CPK Kuznetsov.  The Russians are still on the back foot, and their still playing for time, but for the moment it seems to be working.   Stay tuned for further updates as the Third Hercules War continues to rage! Needless to say, the Russian plan to disrupt British-League cooperation against 72 Hercules seems to be working for the moment. To redress this setback, the League will have to launch another assault back into Nakir’s Riddle and WIN that battle, by which time the Americans may win against the Japanese in Ragnarssonland and the Russians may finally receive the long-awaited heavy reinforcements in the form of the Peter the Great class battleship CPK Kuznetsov. The Russians are still on the back foot, and their still playing for time, but for the moment it seems to be working. Stay tuned for further updates as the Third Hercules War continues to rage!

American-Japanese skirmish at Katajima (Zeta Hercules)

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
4 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
013:05 SOL GMT, 15 MARCH 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: AMERICAN RAID ON KATAJIMA (Kyokko Bijin – Zeta Hercules A3)

The Americans may have signed a separate peace with the British in the Treaty of Zubrin, but the United States Navy has never completely sheathed the sword in the Hercules Rim.  Open hostilities persist with the Arab League and especially the Japanese Empire, a fact brought to sharp relief when a small American raiding force emerges from an accelerated Darkstar Wave in the inner orbital zones of the Kyokko Bijjin colonies (Zeta Hercules), intent of destroying a small array of orbital refineries and surveillance outposts over the terrestrial world of Katajima (Zerta Hercules A3).

Latest American intelligence had reported the orbital zones of this particular planet to be empty.  Accordingly, Captains Matthew Spencer and Zachary Irons (commander, Task Force Oriskany and Liberty respectively) thought this strike would be an ideal opportunity for some of their junior commanders to accrue some combat command experience.  Accordingly, all the newer, less experienced warships and commanders of these two task forces were sent together to carry out what was supposed to be a routine “smash-and-dash” raid.

Of course, this intelligence turned out to be woefully out of date.  Perhaps warned by the mysterious “Red Kitsune,” the enigmatic Japanese spy (or spy network) that allowed them to anticipate so many battles in the recent Duchess Annabel’s War, the Kyokko Bijin Prefecture command has a small force ready and waiting for the Americans in low orbit over Katajima.

This force turns out to be only two ships, the old Hokkaido class light cruiser IJN Tatakawa and the Kagoshima class aerospace strike carrier Nagashima, both from the elite and decorated Naginata cruiser strike squadron under the flag of Commodore Hiromi Ozawa.  Now elite or not, two ships cannot protect or even watch the orbital approaches of an entire Earth-analog planet, so the Takakawa stays near the refineries while the Nagashima sets high-speed orbital course, her aerospace fighters, bombers, and scouts ranging all across Katajima hoping at least to provide some warning of an American approach.

The Japanese plan works … somewhat.  These are destroyers, frigates, and corvettes of the Oriskany and Liberty task forces, remember, their Darkstar FTL drives extensively upgraded.  As a result, they’re able to set a high-speed, high-accuracy jump directly into the heart of the Kyokko Bijin binary star system, rocketing straight into the low orbital zones of Katajima.  But another way, despite the Japanese being forewarned, the sheer speed of American strike still gives them some degree of tactical surprise nonetheless.

The end result, the American strike meets only the Takakawa, supported only by the handful of Nagashima fighters and bombers that happen to be close enough to reach the Takakawa as the Americans make their final approach.  It’s a small, high-speed skirmish, fought between “second-tier” support elements of some of the most elite and renowned naval formations operating in Known Space today.

[In other words, I am running a small game to “reawaken” the warships and commanders in my Japanese task force, and to give my American “noobs” a little experience and help them catch up to the superstars like USS Oriskany, Liberty, Tarawa, Valley Forge, and Northampton.]

RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (127 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in March, 2522.  The Americans, perhaps eager to assure their former “Coalition of Eagles” allies that they are in fact not lap dogs of the British (despite the recent US Navy battle fought in service of the British at Mu Hercules, part of the mutual military assistance clauses in the Treaty of Zubrin), are eager to strike against the Renkei Alliance (so long as they don’t hit the British, again . . . per the Treaty of Zubrin).  Accordingly, the Americans have staged this small task force with their allies in the Corporate Consortium holdings of Ragnarssonland (Gliese 629, formerly of Imperial Prussia), poised to strike amidst the third planet of the primary star of the Zeta Hercules binary system, Katajima (Zeta Hercules A3).The general situation of the Third Hercules War in March, 2522. The Americans, perhaps eager to assure their former “Coalition of Eagles” allies that they are in fact not lap dogs of the British (despite the recent US Navy battle fought in service of the British at Mu Hercules, part of the mutual military assistance clauses in the Treaty of Zubrin), are eager to strike against the Renkei Alliance (so long as they don’t hit the British, again . . . per the Treaty of Zubrin). Accordingly, the Americans have staged this small task force with their allies in the Corporate Consortium holdings of Ragnarssonland (Gliese 629, formerly of Imperial Prussia), poised to strike amidst the third planet of the primary star of the Zeta Hercules binary system, Katajima (Zeta Hercules A3).
The Americans cut low over Katajima’s upper atmosphere, setting a high-speed approach toward the one Japanese warship in the area, the aged (but elite and heavy-upgraded) light cruiser Takakawa (Captain Koji Ryoko).  The Americans are led by Commander Rachel Collingsworth aboard the Valcour-class destroyer USS Cowpens, with the Shepard class frigates John Young and Ronald Evans. In the vanguard is the deadly little Mako-class torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish, now under the command of Lt. Commander Lewis Knight (Daggerfish’s former commander Priscilla Wolfe has been promoted to take command of the Valcour-class destroyer USS Hancock).  The Americans have to peel up fro the planet a little in order to get torpedo locks on the Takakawa, which has cut even closer to the Katajima atmosphere and presented a broadside against the approaching foe.  While the Americans launch a terrifying spread of deadly-accurate Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes, the Takakawa kicks off with a withering broadside that even at this range (3600 kilometers) hits the Daggerfish perfectly on her bow, caving in her foc’s’le, destroying both her torpedo arrays, exploding her magazines, and hitting the bridge.  Just that fast, in the very first salvo of the skirmish, the Americans have lost their first warship.The Americans cut low over Katajima’s upper atmosphere, setting a high-speed approach toward the one Japanese warship in the area, the aged (but elite and heavy-upgraded) light cruiser Takakawa (Captain Koji Ryoko). The Americans are led by Commander Rachel Collingsworth aboard the Valcour-class destroyer USS Cowpens, with the Shepard class frigates John Young and Ronald Evans. In the vanguard is the deadly little Mako-class torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish, now under the command of Lt. Commander Lewis Knight (Daggerfish’s former commander Priscilla Wolfe has been promoted to take command of the Valcour-class destroyer USS Hancock). The Americans have to peel up fro the planet a little in order to get torpedo locks on the Takakawa, which has cut even closer to the Katajima atmosphere and presented a broadside against the approaching foe. While the Americans launch a terrifying spread of deadly-accurate Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes, the Takakawa kicks off with a withering broadside that even at this range (3600 kilometers) hits the Daggerfish perfectly on her bow, caving in her foc’s’le, destroying both her torpedo arrays, exploding her magazines, and hitting the bridge. Just that fast, in the very first salvo of the skirmish, the Americans have lost their first warship.
As the Daggerfish spirals burning across the Katajima sky, the rest “Battlegroup Cowpens” presses the attack.  For a moment there is hope, the remaining American torpedoes streak toward the Takakawa, which only knocks a few of them down with her mass drivers.  Japanese Ki-202 As the Daggerfish spirals burning across the Katajima sky, the rest “Battlegroup Cowpens” presses the attack. For a moment there is hope, the remaining American torpedoes streak toward the Takakawa, which only knocks a few of them down with her mass drivers. Japanese Ki-202 "Hien" Flying Swallow scouts fail to knock down any, and ten warheads hit the Takawaka’s starboard quarter shields. But these shields are upgraded, and only three Mark 48s scatter themselves across Takakawa’s hull. The USS Ronald Evans bravely sets herself up fro a broadside on the Takakawa (a ship four times her size), and manages to hit Takakawa’s sensors and maneuvering thrusters, but is smashed through the bridge by the Takakawa’s broadside of 6-gigawatt rail guns and powerful EPCs. The Americans have now lost a SECOND warship, but at the least the aerospace / ordinance strike of A9M "Kataka" (Fire Hawk) fighters, B7N "Tenrai" (Heavenly Thunder) bombers, and Ki-45 “Kiryu” (Dragon Slayer) torpedoes has been broken up before it could seriously damage the frigate John Young, while American “Hawkeye” manage to down one Japanese bomber.
The Takakawa has been badly damaged along her starboard quarter, and now raises maximum steam to leave the battle area.  If she can break off the immediate engagement yet remain operational in the Katajima area, the Americans (who have already lost two ships and will be spending the next hours or even days in rescue and recovery operations).  The Americans fail crucial initiative checks, and the Takakawa’s move catches them largely flat-footed.  There is a despairing attempt to hit the Takakawa with a second reduced spread of torpedoes, but Captain Ryoko has wisely recalled his fighters to help shoot down the incoming American warheads.  Only one additional warhead gets through, along with a single EPC hit from the John Young.  It hits Takakawa’s starboard reactors, but it won’t be enough to leave her crippled.   The Takakawa has been badly damaged along her starboard quarter, and now raises maximum steam to leave the battle area. If she can break off the immediate engagement yet remain operational in the Katajima area, the Americans (who have already lost two ships and will be spending the next hours or even days in rescue and recovery operations). The Americans fail crucial initiative checks, and the Takakawa’s move catches them largely flat-footed. There is a despairing attempt to hit the Takakawa with a second reduced spread of torpedoes, but Captain Ryoko has wisely recalled his fighters to help shoot down the incoming American warheads. Only one additional warhead gets through, along with a single EPC hit from the John Young. It hits Takakawa’s starboard reactors, but it won’t be enough to leave her crippled.
The Takakawa makes it off the table, seriously damaged by definitely still operational.  The combined threat of Takakawa’s return (once she patches some plate over her starboard quarter), plus the rapid approach of the Nagashima and the rest of the elite “Donryu Kotukai” (Storm Dragon Naval Air Group).  The Americans have had a corvette and frigate crippled, and have shot down just two bombers to show for it.  It’s a humbling loss to be sure.  Obviously, this was a solitaire game, so neither player was “better” than the other, it came to raw luck.  The Takakawa hammered the Daggerfish right out of the battle with the opening long-range salvo, which took her eight +2 torpedoes out of the American spread, which meant that only ten warheads hit the Takakawa on Turn 2 instead of 18 (against a shielding of 6, this would have been six torpedoes instead of three).  Its damned possible that Takakawa would have been crippled right there, even if Daggerfish had been crippled but sixty seconds later.  Then the Americans failed a crucial initiative check, the Takakawa rolled a “6” on her second mass driver check ... It simply wasn’t the Americans’ day.The Takakawa makes it off the table, seriously damaged by definitely still operational. The combined threat of Takakawa’s return (once she patches some plate over her starboard quarter), plus the rapid approach of the Nagashima and the rest of the elite “Donryu Kotukai” (Storm Dragon Naval Air Group). The Americans have had a corvette and frigate crippled, and have shot down just two bombers to show for it. It’s a humbling loss to be sure. Obviously, this was a solitaire game, so neither player was “better” than the other, it came to raw luck. The Takakawa hammered the Daggerfish right out of the battle with the opening long-range salvo, which took her eight +2 torpedoes out of the American spread, which meant that only ten warheads hit the Takakawa on Turn 2 instead of 18 (against a shielding of 6, this would have been six torpedoes instead of three). Its damned possible that Takakawa would have been crippled right there, even if Daggerfish had been crippled but sixty seconds later. Then the Americans failed a crucial initiative check, the Takakawa rolled a “6” on her second mass driver check ... It simply wasn’t the Americans’ day.
Here is the new campaign scoring sheet.  Just keeping the Third Hercules War timeline moving forward through an “off” weekend.  We might see some Arab League vs. Russian action later this week, depending on what I can work out with @muakhah.Here is the new campaign scoring sheet. Just keeping the Third Hercules War timeline moving forward through an “off” weekend. We might see some Arab League vs. Russian action later this week, depending on what I can work out with @muakhah.

Franco-Russian Raid on Belinda's Promise (Mu Hercules 3.6Beta)

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
6 Comments

FROM: ADVISORY OFFICE, UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
04:10 SOL GMT, 28 FEBRUARY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY

SUBJ: FRANCO-RUSSIAN RAID ON BELINDA’S PROMISE (Outer Hebrides – Mu Hercules C.6Beta)

 Another battle has broken out in the Hercules Rim warzone, the twenty-fifth recorded engagement in the ongoing Third Hercules War.  Eager to follow up on their recent successes against the British at the Indian Boghavati colonies (HD176051 system) and against the Arab League at Krasnaya Nadhezda (“Red Hope”, 72 Hercules system), the Holy Russian Empire launched another strike against Royal Navy holdings in the Outer Hebrides colonies (Mu Hercules). 

In an effort to maximize their chances for success, this Russian force (built around the Admiral Lazarev task force) was reinforced by warships of the Leclerc battlegroup of their new allies, the New Roman Alliance.  Based out of the Catania colonies (Gliese 623 system), the light cruiser Leclerc and her escort, the sleek Milan-II class destroyer Corsica, rendezvoused with the Russian strike force in the interstellar space just outside the helioshock boundary of the Mu Hercules trinary star system.  There they set a short, “stealth-wave” approach trajectory for Belinda’s Promise, second moon of the sixth planet of Mu Hercules-C, smallest red dwarf of the three-star system.

The Outer Hebrides colonies, however, have been a major battleground of the Third Hercules War for some time, however, and by now the British administrators of the system are well-prepared for unwelcome visitors.  Although the Americans of the Liberty battlegroup defended the outer orbital bands of these stars last time the New Romans came calling, this time the British themselves are on hand to meet the threat.  Recently repaired, refitted, and recovered from their sharp defeat at Bhogavati, the Agamemnon Task Force under the flag of Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish has been alerted to the enemy approach by several of the tens of thousands of automated “darkwave” gravimetric detection drones deployed along likely approach routes to vulnerable “blind side” sectors of this three-star system.

The American Liberty Task Force, still under repair from the Battle of Lewis Hill (29 January), is no match for this invading Franco-Russian force.  It’s therefore up to Cavendish and his Agamemnon task force. Intercepting this strike force is no mean feat, given the FTL and sublight speed of the French and Russian ships.  The light cruiser Leclerc is a Foch-Hispaniola class, renowned for their speed, while the destroyer Corsica is even faster.  The larger, heavier, much more powerful Admiral Lazarev has also been upgraded, able to match sustained speed even with the Leclerc

Fortunately for the British, however, the HMS Agamemnon is the fastest heavy cruiser in known space, at least in sublight.  Able to keep pace with most destroyers, she raises best steam for Belinda’s Promise and reach high orbit above the day side of the small terrestrial planet just as the Russians and French emerge from behind the planet’s dusk terminator.  With just minutes to spare, the battle is joined.

What is less clear, at least initially, are Franco-Russian intentions.  This is a light, speedy force . . . able to inflict tremendous damage not really packing the “hit-and-stay” firepower of an invasion spearhead.  Furthermore, no planetary assault ships loaded with Russian zero-g naval infantry are detected behind the strike force.  Rather, this seems a simple “run and gun” raid.  Only after the battle will British Naval Intelligence confirm that Russian spies have discovered Lord Commodore Cavendish’s plans for a converging British-Arab strike on Russian colonies in 72 Hercules.  Accordingly, the Russians now seem determined to keep the British off-balance, on the defensive, and unable to coordinate this potential war-ending invasion of their “Krasnaya Nadhezda” colonies.

GREAT BRITAIN: @damon
RUSSIANS / FRENCH: @oriskany

RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (535 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War at the end of 2522.  Having now uncovered Lord Commodore Cavendish’s plans for a coordinated invasion of the Russian “capital” at 72 Hercules (cooperating with the Arab League from the “Khaizan’s Haven” caliphate), the Russians seem determined to keep the British bottled up at Mu Hercules with fast, sharp strikes like this one, leveraging their alliance with the New Romans at Gliese 623 whenever possible.The general situation of the Third Hercules War at the end of 2522. Having now uncovered Lord Commodore Cavendish’s plans for a coordinated invasion of the Russian “capital” at 72 Hercules (cooperating with the Arab League from the “Khaizan’s Haven” caliphate), the Russians seem determined to keep the British bottled up at Mu Hercules with fast, sharp strikes like this one, leveraging their alliance with the New Romans at Gliese 623 whenever possible.
As noted earlier, the Franco-Russian invaders have snuck into the system via a short, slow, and stealthy Darkstar wave from the night side of the Belinda’s Promise.  Emerging from beneath the planet’s eclipse shadow, the Franco-Russian commanders (Captains Pyotr F. Myshaga and Rafael deChalemonde) find Lord Commodore Cavendish’s counter-strike force bearing out of the sun (red dwarf Mu Hercules-C) right at them.  Both fleets break away from the planet, presenting long-range opening broadsides delivered at 4700 kilometers (the distance from London to Tehran), while the respective aerospace strike carriers (HMS Vindictive under Commander Alfred Carpenter and CPK Ivanishin) begin launching bombers and escorting fighters.  The Russians also deploy formidable spreads of their dreaded P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) gravitic torpedo, along with supporting “Lancea” torpedo fire from the destroyer Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix).As noted earlier, the Franco-Russian invaders have snuck into the system via a short, slow, and stealthy Darkstar wave from the night side of the Belinda’s Promise. Emerging from beneath the planet’s eclipse shadow, the Franco-Russian commanders (Captains Pyotr F. Myshaga and Rafael deChalemonde) find Lord Commodore Cavendish’s counter-strike force bearing out of the sun (red dwarf Mu Hercules-C) right at them. Both fleets break away from the planet, presenting long-range opening broadsides delivered at 4700 kilometers (the distance from London to Tehran), while the respective aerospace strike carriers (HMS Vindictive under Commander Alfred Carpenter and CPK Ivanishin) begin launching bombers and escorting fighters. The Russians also deploy formidable spreads of their dreaded P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) gravitic torpedo, along with supporting “Lancea” torpedo fire from the destroyer Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix).
The French and Russians wait for the British to move toward them, then execute a nearly-perfect converging pincer to get MOST of their ships close together for mutually-supporting defensive fire against an anticipated British aerospace and torpedo attack.  But the British forestall their attack for now, instead crossing the Franco-Russian “T” with port broadsides from heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon, light cruiser HMS Retribution, and destroyer HMS Sheffield.  Note the Franco-Prussian reform is *nearly* perfect, the destroyer NRS Corsica can’t quite complete the maneuver at her current speed due to maneuvering thrusters damaged in the opening British broadside.  Slower Russian torpedoes, meanwhile, can’t quite reach the British this turn and besides, the Ivanishin is still launching the last of her Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers. The French and Russians wait for the British to move toward them, then execute a nearly-perfect converging pincer to get MOST of their ships close together for mutually-supporting defensive fire against an anticipated British aerospace and torpedo attack. But the British forestall their attack for now, instead crossing the Franco-Russian “T” with port broadsides from heavy cruiser HMS Agamemnon, light cruiser HMS Retribution, and destroyer HMS Sheffield. Note the Franco-Prussian reform is *nearly* perfect, the destroyer NRS Corsica can’t quite complete the maneuver at her current speed due to maneuvering thrusters damaged in the opening British broadside. Slower Russian torpedoes, meanwhile, can’t quite reach the British this turn and besides, the Ivanishin is still launching the last of her Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers.
Until now this skirmish has been a slow, measured dance, a careful chess game of angled approaches, measured timing, and calculated strike ranges.  Cavendish, deChalemonde, and Myshaga have all proven equals, however, and finally the storm breaks on both sides more or less evenly.  The British make an abrupt break toward Belinda’s Promise, leaning hard on their thrusters and grav rudders to pull hard AWAY from the planet at the last moment, using the upper atmosphere to protect Agamemnon’s stern from the Russian torpedo-missile strike sure to hit any second.  But the Retribution opts instead for a broadside her guns smashing into the destroyer Syekyra as she and the rest of the Franco-Russian force bolts ahead to broadside the British in turn.  The Retribution is positively torn apart astern by the massed missile and torpedoes, the carrier Vindictive much too far away to help with any mass driver defense (she instead broke for high orbit, not even in this picture).  Massed Franco-Russian gunnery hammers into the Sheffield, also knocking her out of the battle with her whole starboard engine array smashed clean out of her hull.  The British return fire just as hard, however, smashing into the engines and reactors of the swift, sleek, but rather weakly-shielded Leclerc, almost instantly knocking deChalemonde’s flagship out of the fight.  The luckless Syekyra is also struck by most of the British aerospace strike, having lost her forward shields she’s basically executed despite the absolute hurricane of mass driver fire that wipes most of the British warheads from the sky.  The Agamemnon’s forward guns then cut loose, heavy EPCs tearing through the Corsica’s engines and leaving her crippled and adrift as well.  In sixty furious seconds, five warships, totaling some 335,000 tons, have been reduced to charred, drifting wrecks.     Until now this skirmish has been a slow, measured dance, a careful chess game of angled approaches, measured timing, and calculated strike ranges. Cavendish, deChalemonde, and Myshaga have all proven equals, however, and finally the storm breaks on both sides more or less evenly. The British make an abrupt break toward Belinda’s Promise, leaning hard on their thrusters and grav rudders to pull hard AWAY from the planet at the last moment, using the upper atmosphere to protect Agamemnon’s stern from the Russian torpedo-missile strike sure to hit any second. But the Retribution opts instead for a broadside her guns smashing into the destroyer Syekyra as she and the rest of the Franco-Russian force bolts ahead to broadside the British in turn. The Retribution is positively torn apart astern by the massed missile and torpedoes, the carrier Vindictive much too far away to help with any mass driver defense (she instead broke for high orbit, not even in this picture). Massed Franco-Russian gunnery hammers into the Sheffield, also knocking her out of the battle with her whole starboard engine array smashed clean out of her hull. The British return fire just as hard, however, smashing into the engines and reactors of the swift, sleek, but rather weakly-shielded Leclerc, almost instantly knocking deChalemonde’s flagship out of the fight. The luckless Syekyra is also struck by most of the British aerospace strike, having lost her forward shields she’s basically executed despite the absolute hurricane of mass driver fire that wipes most of the British warheads from the sky. The Agamemnon’s forward guns then cut loose, heavy EPCs tearing through the Corsica’s engines and leaving her crippled and adrift as well. In sixty furious seconds, five warships, totaling some 335,000 tons, have been reduced to charred, drifting wrecks.
Although they came off slightly worse than the British in that exchange, the Russians under Captain Pyotr Myshaga are far from ready to give up the fight.  The Russian bombers are all close enough to immediately land aboard the Ivanishin, where they can swiftly be turned around for another strike.  The British carrier, meanwhile, is ordered to break out of orbit and leave the battle completely.  A controversial move, perhaps, but Cavendish knows this Franco-Russian incursion is just a raid, NOT an invasion.  By keeping his starships intact, he knows he can ensure LONG TERM superiority in the Mu Hercules system.  The Admiral Lazarev, meanwhile, hauls around to engage the Agamemnon, who likewise begins a powerful acceleration away from Belinda’s Promise.  The Lazarev and Agamemnon exchange withering broadsides, and both mighty cruisers inflict hideous damage on each other.  But while the Agamemnon might have an advantage in size and firepower, the Lazarev has an advantage in position.  Note her broadsides are hitting Agamemnon’s starboard QUARTER, while Agamemnon is hitting Lazarev on the port BOW.  This Lazarev is digging into Agamemnon’s engines and reactors . . .  Russian fighters and torpedoes also have their say . . .Although they came off slightly worse than the British in that exchange, the Russians under Captain Pyotr Myshaga are far from ready to give up the fight. The Russian bombers are all close enough to immediately land aboard the Ivanishin, where they can swiftly be turned around for another strike. The British carrier, meanwhile, is ordered to break out of orbit and leave the battle completely. A controversial move, perhaps, but Cavendish knows this Franco-Russian incursion is just a raid, NOT an invasion. By keeping his starships intact, he knows he can ensure LONG TERM superiority in the Mu Hercules system. The Admiral Lazarev, meanwhile, hauls around to engage the Agamemnon, who likewise begins a powerful acceleration away from Belinda’s Promise. The Lazarev and Agamemnon exchange withering broadsides, and both mighty cruisers inflict hideous damage on each other. But while the Agamemnon might have an advantage in size and firepower, the Lazarev has an advantage in position. Note her broadsides are hitting Agamemnon’s starboard QUARTER, while Agamemnon is hitting Lazarev on the port BOW. This Lazarev is digging into Agamemnon’s engines and reactors . . . Russian fighters and torpedoes also have their say . . .
The Agamemnon continues her fiery escape.  By now Myshaga knows he will never catch her, so instead cuts across her stern for a last-ditch frantic broadside across her stern.  If he can cripple Cavendish, Myshaga’s road will be a success and he may even be able to establish a small foothold in the outer reaches of Mu Hercules, or at least compel the British to drive him out rather than mount their anticipated invasion of 72 Hercules.  But by now Cavendish is doing almost forty kilometers a SECOND, literally outrunning the swarm of Russian torpedoes coming after him.  He can’t fire much back at the Russians, having lost his aft laser array, but the Russians lose this last chance to cripple HMS Agamemnon and claim victory.The Agamemnon continues her fiery escape. By now Myshaga knows he will never catch her, so instead cuts across her stern for a last-ditch frantic broadside across her stern. If he can cripple Cavendish, Myshaga’s road will be a success and he may even be able to establish a small foothold in the outer reaches of Mu Hercules, or at least compel the British to drive him out rather than mount their anticipated invasion of 72 Hercules. But by now Cavendish is doing almost forty kilometers a SECOND, literally outrunning the swarm of Russian torpedoes coming after him. He can’t fire much back at the Russians, having lost his aft laser array, but the Russians lose this last chance to cripple HMS Agamemnon and claim victory.
The final results, positions, and score.  Remember this is a RAID, scored by how much enemy shipping you destroy or cripple (not what you have left standing).  So even though the Russians “hold the field,” they’ve lost more than the British.  In campaign terms, with HMS Agamemnon and Vindictive still operational out there (along with a full aerospace strike group), Captain Myshaga cannot linger to destroyer British facilities or even set up a small outpost of his own, he has to return to Krasnaya Nadhezda (once he completes what rescue and recovery efforts he can mount).  Ironically, Myshaga’s first task is to rescue to French destroyer Corsica, who repeatedly fails post-battle recovery checks, it’s only Myshaga’s “Commander’s Luck” reroll (campaign upgrade) that saves her.  Aboard the Russian destroyer Syekyra, Captain Ekaterina Duranov must also roll for personal wounds or survival since her bridge was hit by British aerospace missiles launched by Supermarine Starfire fighters.  This was a nasty one, folks.  Hard-fought and close-run.  Congrats to Damon for a hard-knuckled win!The final results, positions, and score. Remember this is a RAID, scored by how much enemy shipping you destroy or cripple (not what you have left standing). So even though the Russians “hold the field,” they’ve lost more than the British. In campaign terms, with HMS Agamemnon and Vindictive still operational out there (along with a full aerospace strike group), Captain Myshaga cannot linger to destroyer British facilities or even set up a small outpost of his own, he has to return to Krasnaya Nadhezda (once he completes what rescue and recovery efforts he can mount). Ironically, Myshaga’s first task is to rescue to French destroyer Corsica, who repeatedly fails post-battle recovery checks, it’s only Myshaga’s “Commander’s Luck” reroll (campaign upgrade) that saves her. Aboard the Russian destroyer Syekyra, Captain Ekaterina Duranov must also roll for personal wounds or survival since her bridge was hit by British aerospace missiles launched by Supermarine Starfire fighters. This was a nasty one, folks. Hard-fought and close-run. Congrats to Damon for a hard-knuckled win!
So after some recent defeats, the Royal Navy is again poised to launch an actual planetary invasion into the Russian colonies at Krasnaya Nadhezda, and perhaps end the bulk of this war.  They need an ally to help them, but right now the Japanese or the Arab League need a “preliminary victory” to set them up (rough campaign rules, you need to win your PREVIOUS battle to choose the site of your NEXT battle).  So if the Japanese or Arab League want to “choose” 72 Nadhezda as the site of their next big smash to support a full-scale British system invasion . . . they need a win somewhere against the Russians to “tee it up.”  So stay tuned to see what happens! So after some recent defeats, the Royal Navy is again poised to launch an actual planetary invasion into the Russian colonies at Krasnaya Nadhezda, and perhaps end the bulk of this war. They need an ally to help them, but right now the Japanese or the Arab League need a “preliminary victory” to set them up (rough campaign rules, you need to win your PREVIOUS battle to choose the site of your NEXT battle). So if the Japanese or Arab League want to “choose” 72 Nadhezda as the site of their next big smash to support a full-scale British system invasion . . . they need a win somewhere against the Russians to “tee it up.” So stay tuned to see what happens!

Arab League Raid on Pamzhdoye Phi-16

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
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FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
011:15 SOL GMT, 08 FEBRUARY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

ARAB LEAGUE RAID ON PAMZHDOYE (Krasnaya Nadhezda / 72 Hercules Phi-16)

In the wake of the Americans largely dropping out of their leading role the Coalition of Eagles in the wake of the Treaty of Zubrin, and the New Roman Empire’s recent frustrations in their opening gambits in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules system), the focus of the Third Hercules War has again shifted to the spinward shoulder Hercules Rim.  Here, Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish has begun drawing plans for a war-ending offensive against the Russians, hoping to shove them out of the war as he did with the Americans (not only with military victories but no small amount of political maneuvering).

His partners in this effort will be the Arab League, spearheaded by the Mutamid high-speed cruiser-carrier battlegroup under Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi.  With the navy of the Holy Russian Empire teetering somewhat after the string of defeats that largely threw them out of the UN “Redemption” Mandate at 99 Hercules, Cavendish hopes to take his Task Force Agamemnon into Krasnaya Nadhezda (“Red Hope” – 72 Hercules), reinforced by a pair of Fearless class planetary assault cruisers loaded with Royal Marines and Para Commandos.  While they come in through the spinward “front” of 72 Hercules, the swift Mutamid battlegroup will sweep around behind and stab the Russians in the back from the coreward side of the Red Hope colonies.  The Mutamid battlegroup seems ideal for this mission, given the enhanced Darkstar FTL systems usually installed on Arab League ships.

Successful completion of this operation will more or less throw the Holy Russian Empire out of the war and the Hercules Rim in general, a goal toward which Cavendish has promised the League primary ownership of the 72 Hercules trinary star system, allowing the British to take former Russian holdings in 99 Hercules (Redemption) and thus dominate the center of the Hercules Rim.

There are just two things wrong with this plan at the moment.  First, the Russian Navy is no longer “teetering,” they were instrumental in a bloody British reversal at Sigma Rajdana in the Bhogavati (HD176051 star system), winning a victory that helped the Republic of India claim victory in their small part of the Third Hercules War.  Second, Task Force Agamemnon itself was badly mauled in this battle, and at least a month of pressure dock and star port repair time before this force can realistically challenge the Holy Russian Empire in 72 Hercules.

So although Captain al-Maghrebi has agreed with this plan and is ready to get underway, the in early February 2522 the British are hardly in a position to undertake their part.  Warily watching the Russians rebuild their strength and prodded by persistent rumors that a Peter the Great class battleship might be on its way from the Kuznetsov Shipyards of Gliese 725, the regional Caliphate soon issues orders to the Mutamid battlegroup.  Hit the Russians . . . now, even if only to rattle their cages and slow their recovery and buildup in 72 Hercules.

With most of the Admiral Lazarev task force still in dock or returning from the far-off Indian Bhogavati colonies, defense of the Krasnaya Nadhezda colonies will have to fall to a scratch force of a Kutusov class light cruiser, a Gagarin class light fleet carrier, and three K-56 class torpedo corvettes.  The Mutamid battlegroup greatly outguns this defense force, but the Russians hold a pretty solid edge in torpedoes and aerospace strike groups.  It’s a lopsided match-up of guns vs. torpedoes, victory will undoubtedly go to the side that can make better use of its advantage.

ARAB LEAGUE: @Muakhah
HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE: @Oriskany
RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (236 points)

The situation at the beginning of February 2522.  The Indian Republic has “cashed in its chips” and claimed a modest victory in this war.  The Americans are technically still in the war, but largely called to heel at least as far as the British are concerned.  The first New Roman shove at Mu Hercules has been defeated.  Thus, the spinward (upper left) side the Hercules Rim lies largely quiet.  Perhaps its only natural that fresh battles flare up along the coreward shoulder of the Rim (lower right) with an Arab League strike out of the Khaizan’s Haven Caliphate, against the Krasnaya Nadhezda colonies of 72 Hercules. The situation at the beginning of February 2522. The Indian Republic has “cashed in its chips” and claimed a modest victory in this war. The Americans are technically still in the war, but largely called to heel at least as far as the British are concerned. The first New Roman shove at Mu Hercules has been defeated. Thus, the spinward (upper left) side the Hercules Rim lies largely quiet. Perhaps its only natural that fresh battles flare up along the coreward shoulder of the Rim (lower right) with an Arab League strike out of the Khaizan’s Haven Caliphate, against the Krasnaya Nadhezda colonies of 72 Hercules.
The two fleets close rapidly along the daylight side of Pamzhdoye (72 Hercules Phi-16), one of the outer terrestrial planets of the smallest of the three 72 Hercules red dwarf stars.  But while the Mutamid battlegroup maintains its high approach speed, the Russians are immediately kicking in powerful retros to decelerate.  This is somewhat unusual for Russian naval formations, who tend to close as quickly as possible to make best use of heavy plasma and rail cannon gunnery.  But if the Russians are going to win this fight, it will be with torpedoes and heavy aerospace strikes.  Also, the overloaded strike carrier CPK Ivanishin is going to need three complete turns to launch her entire aerospace group, and remember how slow these Russian P-500 torpedoes are.  So the Russians are content to take their time on a slow approach.  The League, meanwhile, comes on much faster.  Yet with a turn to starboard, they present a long-range broadside to the Russians ... yet also yield the “gravity gauge” to the Russians as well.  Now the Russians can maneuver between the league and the planet, forcing the league to turn INTO planet gravity to engage the Russians in future turns.  Secondly, the League doesn’t engage the corvettes at this early stage.  Sure, their guns can’t do much damage at this distance, but it doesn’t take much to knock out a K-56 and even a single kill means 12 less torpedoes coming at you each turn.The two fleets close rapidly along the daylight side of Pamzhdoye (72 Hercules Phi-16), one of the outer terrestrial planets of the smallest of the three 72 Hercules red dwarf stars. But while the Mutamid battlegroup maintains its high approach speed, the Russians are immediately kicking in powerful retros to decelerate. This is somewhat unusual for Russian naval formations, who tend to close as quickly as possible to make best use of heavy plasma and rail cannon gunnery. But if the Russians are going to win this fight, it will be with torpedoes and heavy aerospace strikes. Also, the overloaded strike carrier CPK Ivanishin is going to need three complete turns to launch her entire aerospace group, and remember how slow these Russian P-500 torpedoes are. So the Russians are content to take their time on a slow approach. The League, meanwhile, comes on much faster. Yet with a turn to starboard, they present a long-range broadside to the Russians ... yet also yield the “gravity gauge” to the Russians as well. Now the Russians can maneuver between the league and the planet, forcing the league to turn INTO planet gravity to engage the Russians in future turns. Secondly, the League doesn’t engage the corvettes at this early stage. Sure, their guns can’t do much damage at this distance, but it doesn’t take much to knock out a K-56 and even a single kill means 12 less torpedoes coming at you each turn.
The Russians continue to slip-stream closer to the planet’s frigid nitrogen and methane atmosphere, banking away with a hard turn to port so the light cruiser Dokhturov (named for one of Kutuzov’s generals at the Battle of Borodino) can try to put at least some gunnery into the League warships.  It doesn’t do much, while the League hammers away at the Russian Dokhturov.  Yes, the Dokhturov is the biggest threat in a gunnery match, but the Russians are determined that this won’t BECOME a gunnery match.  Note their torpedoes could have hit the League this turn, but they hold them back, STILL launching the last of their MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Su- 107 “Molniya” (Lightning) scouts for a truly massive SINGLE united ordinance strike.  A small scrap of action does take place in the void between the two battlegroups, where League scouts try to shoot down Russian torpedoes but are instead intercepted and they lose two scouts of their own. The Russians continue to slip-stream closer to the planet’s frigid nitrogen and methane atmosphere, banking away with a hard turn to port so the light cruiser Dokhturov (named for one of Kutuzov’s generals at the Battle of Borodino) can try to put at least some gunnery into the League warships. It doesn’t do much, while the League hammers away at the Russian Dokhturov. Yes, the Dokhturov is the biggest threat in a gunnery match, but the Russians are determined that this won’t BECOME a gunnery match. Note their torpedoes could have hit the League this turn, but they hold them back, STILL launching the last of their MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Su- 107 “Molniya” (Lightning) scouts for a truly massive SINGLE united ordinance strike. A small scrap of action does take place in the void between the two battlegroups, where League scouts try to shoot down Russian torpedoes but are instead intercepted and they lose two scouts of their own.
At last, the hammer falls.  Just as the massive Russian missile and torpedo strike comes in, the League fleets splits up somewhat, the destroyer Kashan accelerating to port to engage the Russian attack wing of K-56 corvettes.  This broadside does pretty well, immediately blowing the bow completely off the K-269, leaving her dead in space.  The K-271 also loses all weapons, shields, magazines . . . it’s only blind luck that she’s not crippled as well and maintains power to accelerate out of the battlespace.  Captain al-Maghrebi recognizes the threat posed by those Russian torpedoes and recalls his fighters to defend his ships from Russian warheads – and while this dilutes the League’s own aerospace strike, it probably saves his fleet from instantaneous destruction.  As it is, his flagship Mutamid and light carrier Abu Bashir are hit astern by a hail of surviving torpedoes from Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers, P-500s from the warships, and aerospace missiles.  The Mutamid is crippled and set adrift, as is the Abu Bashir.  It’s a devastating strike, but one the Russians have patiently set up for three complete turns (half the game).  Betting in its success, the Russians have now finally decided to close the range, with the Ivanishin presenting a full spread of torpedoes and the Dokhturov a 1200-kilometer broadside on the destroyer Jeddah.  In addition to the ravaging of the Russian corvette flotilla, the other bright spot for the League is the gutting of Ivanishin’s bomber force, nine of thirteen are blown out of the stars by vengeful “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters.At last, the hammer falls. Just as the massive Russian missile and torpedo strike comes in, the League fleets splits up somewhat, the destroyer Kashan accelerating to port to engage the Russian attack wing of K-56 corvettes. This broadside does pretty well, immediately blowing the bow completely off the K-269, leaving her dead in space. The K-271 also loses all weapons, shields, magazines . . . it’s only blind luck that she’s not crippled as well and maintains power to accelerate out of the battlespace. Captain al-Maghrebi recognizes the threat posed by those Russian torpedoes and recalls his fighters to defend his ships from Russian warheads – and while this dilutes the League’s own aerospace strike, it probably saves his fleet from instantaneous destruction. As it is, his flagship Mutamid and light carrier Abu Bashir are hit astern by a hail of surviving torpedoes from Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers, P-500s from the warships, and aerospace missiles. The Mutamid is crippled and set adrift, as is the Abu Bashir. It’s a devastating strike, but one the Russians have patiently set up for three complete turns (half the game). Betting in its success, the Russians have now finally decided to close the range, with the Ivanishin presenting a full spread of torpedoes and the Dokhturov a 1200-kilometer broadside on the destroyer Jeddah. In addition to the ravaging of the Russian corvette flotilla, the other bright spot for the League is the gutting of Ivanishin’s bomber force, nine of thirteen are blown out of the stars by vengeful “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters.
Heady with anticipated victory, the Russians dive toward the League, the two surviving destroyers Jeddah and Kashan scattering port and starboard.  Empty League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers, with no carrier on which to land, try to strafe the fleeting corvette K-271, but are instead beset by a pack of Russian MiG-103s and largely destroyed.  A second (MUCH smaller) Russian torpedo strike goes for the Kashan, who somehow survives the onslaught, while half the Russian MiGs go to strafe the unshielded stern of the Jeddah.  But the Jeddah survives as well, and for MiGs are shot down.  League torpedoes, lasers. And EPCs continue to hammer the Dokhturov, which is now hobbled with lost maneuvering thrusters, two engines gone, and half-blind with multiple sensor suites knocked out.  Heady with anticipated victory, the Russians dive toward the League, the two surviving destroyers Jeddah and Kashan scattering port and starboard. Empty League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers, with no carrier on which to land, try to strafe the fleeting corvette K-271, but are instead beset by a pack of Russian MiG-103s and largely destroyed. A second (MUCH smaller) Russian torpedo strike goes for the Kashan, who somehow survives the onslaught, while half the Russian MiGs go to strafe the unshielded stern of the Jeddah. But the Jeddah survives as well, and for MiGs are shot down. League torpedoes, lasers. And EPCs continue to hammer the Dokhturov, which is now hobbled with lost maneuvering thrusters, two engines gone, and half-blind with multiple sensor suites knocked out.
Dokhturov now raises maximum steam, making flank speed (as best she can) to break high orbit and get out of the battle area.  The League is determined she won’t escape, however, and finally have crippled her with a broadside from the Jeddah after she has jackknifed to starboard, nearly colliding with the light fleet carrier Ivanishin in the process.  The Dokhturov careens out to space, her bridge afire and commander badly wounded.  The scrappy little K-273 has pivoted as well, slinging out a third hail of P-500 torpedoes which target the stern of the Jeddah along with most of the remaining Russian MiGs and scouts.  The Jeddah is likewise crippled ... only by the LUCKIEST of hits (I needed a “6” on a d6 to cripple her and nailed it), and she will BARELY miss colliding with the tiny asteroid moon about 3000 kilometers ahead, JUST off her port bow.  The Russians also launch a torpedo and fighter strafing attack against the Kashan.  The MiG pilots hoped those torpedoes from the Ivanishin would occupy Arab point defense, allowing them a clear attack run.  They were wrong, League fighters took care of the torpedoes which meant the MiGs took heavy losses on the way in.  But the survivors pressed home the attack, savaging the wounded stern of the Kashan until they crippled her as well.Dokhturov now raises maximum steam, making flank speed (as best she can) to break high orbit and get out of the battle area. The League is determined she won’t escape, however, and finally have crippled her with a broadside from the Jeddah after she has jackknifed to starboard, nearly colliding with the light fleet carrier Ivanishin in the process. The Dokhturov careens out to space, her bridge afire and commander badly wounded. The scrappy little K-273 has pivoted as well, slinging out a third hail of P-500 torpedoes which target the stern of the Jeddah along with most of the remaining Russian MiGs and scouts. The Jeddah is likewise crippled ... only by the LUCKIEST of hits (I needed a “6” on a d6 to cripple her and nailed it), and she will BARELY miss colliding with the tiny asteroid moon about 3000 kilometers ahead, JUST off her port bow. The Russians also launch a torpedo and fighter strafing attack against the Kashan. The MiG pilots hoped those torpedoes from the Ivanishin would occupy Arab point defense, allowing them a clear attack run. They were wrong, League fighters took care of the torpedoes which meant the MiGs took heavy losses on the way in. But the survivors pressed home the attack, savaging the wounded stern of the Kashan until they crippled her as well.
The entire League task force has been crippled, while the Russians still have the carrier Ivanishin and two corvettes to lay claim to the Pamzhdoye orbital zone of 72 Hercules.  Yet the Russians have taken heavy damage to their aerospace wing, the captain of the Dokhturov is badly injured, and the wrecked K-269 is ... just never seen again.  When rescue ships reach the coordinates indicated by her drifting speed and trajectory, she just isn’t there, forever “missing” as a “ghost ship” of the Hercules Rim.  In all, this comes down to a solid yet minor win, as indicated by the RAID score shown.The entire League task force has been crippled, while the Russians still have the carrier Ivanishin and two corvettes to lay claim to the Pamzhdoye orbital zone of 72 Hercules. Yet the Russians have taken heavy damage to their aerospace wing, the captain of the Dokhturov is badly injured, and the wrecked K-269 is ... just never seen again. When rescue ships reach the coordinates indicated by her drifting speed and trajectory, she just isn’t there, forever “missing” as a “ghost ship” of the Hercules Rim. In all, this comes down to a solid yet minor win, as indicated by the RAID score shown.
Here is the new campaign tracking chart in the wake of the skirmishes at Lewis Hill and Pamzhdoye.  Suffice it to say the Russians are RESURGENT, having dealt bloody noses to both the British at Sigma Rajdana and the Arab League at Pamzhdoye.  Although the New Roman threat has been contained for the time being at Lewis Hill, the plans of Lord Cavendish and Captain al-Maghrebi against 72 Hercules have certainly been stalled for now, both the British and League naval forces in the Hercules Rim will have to regain their balance before contemplating their conceived converging strike on Krasnaya Nadhezda.Here is the new campaign tracking chart in the wake of the skirmishes at Lewis Hill and Pamzhdoye. Suffice it to say the Russians are RESURGENT, having dealt bloody noses to both the British at Sigma Rajdana and the Arab League at Pamzhdoye. Although the New Roman threat has been contained for the time being at Lewis Hill, the plans of Lord Cavendish and Captain al-Maghrebi against 72 Hercules have certainly been stalled for now, both the British and League naval forces in the Hercules Rim will have to regain their balance before contemplating their conceived converging strike on Krasnaya Nadhezda.

New Romans fight their first engagement in Hercules Rim

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
4 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
14:40 SOL GMT, 29 JANUARY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

NEW ROMAN RAID ON LEWIS HILL (Outer Hebrides – Mu Hercules 12.1 Delta)

The political upheaval seen across the Hercules Rim in recent months took another turn with yet another engagement.  The setting for the skirmish was an old one, the long-embattled outer orbital zones of the Outer Hebrides colonies (Mu Hercules system) of the United Kingdom.  What was decidedly less familiar were the combatants.  Mounting the “fast strike” into the system was a task force of the newly-belligerent New Roman Alliance, having recently entered the war  from their Catania colonies (Gleise 623 system).  Yet it wasn’t a British force that sortied to fend off the Roman aggressors, but the Liberty task force of the United States Navy.

Former enemies in the Third Hercules War, the United States and Great Britain have more or less buried the hatchet (at least in some Hercules star systems) with the recent Treaty of Zubrin.  Although overwhelmingly favorable to the British, the treaty granted the Americans shipping access through the Hercules Rim and a lease on a small base . . . allowing them to save face while backing out of the war with Great Britain.  Also within that treaty, however, is a “mutual military assistance clause” requiring the two navies to come to each others’ aid if their holdings in the Hercules Rim are attacked.  Clearly this clause also heavily favors the British, given that they administer two compete star systems and multiple colonies in the UN “Redemption” mandate, while the Americans only have the tiny “Lost Dutchman” planetoid awarded them in the Treaty of Zubrin.

In fact, this is the raid that first calls that mutual military assistance clause into effect.  As the New Roman task force, under the flag of Commander Antonio Faccia aboard the Aurelius class heavy cruiser NRS Nicaea, enters the outer orbital zones of the Mu Hercules system, they are met by the US Navy’s Liberty carrier task force under the flag of Captain Zachary Irons.  Sailing beside the American carrier is the new San Antonio class light cruiser USS Northampton, under the command of the newly-promoted captain Jack Morrison (formerly of Task Force Oriskany).  Most the New Roman force is in fact French, made up of the Lerclerc Battle Group under the flag of Captain Raphael deChalemonde, supported by the Cignis Corporation frigate CMS Arauz.

Now the two fleets vector toward each other, the Americans warned of the Roman approach by a timely report of a Griffon-class gunboat.  Dropping out of their short “approach waves” back into sublight speeds, they close to engagement range at the lonely outer rim planetoid of Lewis Hill (Mu Hercules 12.1 Delta).  As bizarre as it seems, the Americans stand ready to defend the territory of their old enemies against a new foe, and the Battle of  Lewis Hill is on.

RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (454 points)

The general situation of the Third Hercules War in the opening months of 2522.  Having recently joined the war after a long period of neutrality, the New Roman Alliance has launched this raid out of their Catania colonies in Gliese 623, aimed at British holdings at Mu Hercules.  Ironically it’s an American task force that will meet this strike, defending British holdings per military assistance clauses in the recent Treaty of Zubrin.The general situation of the Third Hercules War in the opening months of 2522. Having recently joined the war after a long period of neutrality, the New Roman Alliance has launched this raid out of their Catania colonies in Gliese 623, aimed at British holdings at Mu Hercules. Ironically it’s an American task force that will meet this strike, defending British holdings per military assistance clauses in the recent Treaty of Zubrin.
The Americans set a low-angle course, using the gravity if Lewis Hill to dip further behind the New Romans’ port beam, hoping for an angle around their stern.  The Americans also seize the “gravity gauge,” the position between their enemies and the planetary body, thus forcing the enemy into the dangerous choice of turning INTO planetary gravity to engage.  The Romans, for their part, seize the classic opening position of crossing the Americans “T”, presenting broadsides cross the enemy’s bow.  Things start out pretty well for both sides as opening gunnery score major hits at 3300 kilometers, the American destroyer USS Cowpens and Cignis strike frigate CMS Arauz taking heavy damage.The Americans set a low-angle course, using the gravity if Lewis Hill to dip further behind the New Romans’ port beam, hoping for an angle around their stern. The Americans also seize the “gravity gauge,” the position between their enemies and the planetary body, thus forcing the enemy into the dangerous choice of turning INTO planetary gravity to engage. The Romans, for their part, seize the classic opening position of crossing the Americans “T”, presenting broadsides cross the enemy’s bow. Things start out pretty well for both sides as opening gunnery score major hits at 3300 kilometers, the American destroyer USS Cowpens and Cignis strike frigate CMS Arauz taking heavy damage.
The Americans continue to close at high speed, anxious to get behind the New Roman warships for broadsides across the stern.  The New Romans defeat the move, sidestepping at 24 kilometers per second AWAY from the Americans, keeping them within their broadside, refusing to turn into the American’s gravity well and relying on their more accurate guns and heavier firepower to continue to whittle down the American force.   For the moment, the Roman plan seems to be working.  While the Americans manage to knock the frigate Arauz with a second salvo, their destroyer Cowpens and the frigate USS Ronald Evans are both crippled by withering Franco-Italian lasers and EPCs, and the Americans are still thousands of kilometers away from the sterns of Roman ships.  But one factor that the Roman warships can’t outmaneuver is the American aerospace strike group consisting of US Navy squadrons VSF-221 “The Dead Rabbits” and VSA-193 “The Eight Ball Express.”  The full fighter and bomber group is finally launched, forming up with a phalanx of Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes for a combined ordinance strike the Americans hope will turn the tide.The Americans continue to close at high speed, anxious to get behind the New Roman warships for broadsides across the stern. The New Romans defeat the move, sidestepping at 24 kilometers per second AWAY from the Americans, keeping them within their broadside, refusing to turn into the American’s gravity well and relying on their more accurate guns and heavier firepower to continue to whittle down the American force. For the moment, the Roman plan seems to be working. While the Americans manage to knock the frigate Arauz with a second salvo, their destroyer Cowpens and the frigate USS Ronald Evans are both crippled by withering Franco-Italian lasers and EPCs, and the Americans are still thousands of kilometers away from the sterns of Roman ships. But one factor that the Roman warships can’t outmaneuver is the American aerospace strike group consisting of US Navy squadrons VSF-221 “The Dead Rabbits” and VSA-193 “The Eight Ball Express.” The full fighter and bomber group is finally launched, forming up with a phalanx of Mark 48 gravitic torpedoes for a combined ordinance strike the Americans hope will turn the tide.
Seconds after the NRS Nicaea’s broadside tears open the port quarter of the light cruiser USS Northampton, the American aerospace and torpedo strike hits the stern of the Roman flagship in turn, not only detonating the ship’s engines and crippling her reactors, but almost blowing the ship up outright.  American guns shift fire to the escorting destroyer NRS Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix), while the USS Liberty set up for another torpedo spread while also getting close enough to recover her bombers for a possible second strike.  The Northampton pivots to present her first proper broadside of the engagement, but already she’s badly hammered by the Nicaea’s previous gunnery.Seconds after the NRS Nicaea’s broadside tears open the port quarter of the light cruiser USS Northampton, the American aerospace and torpedo strike hits the stern of the Roman flagship in turn, not only detonating the ship’s engines and crippling her reactors, but almost blowing the ship up outright. American guns shift fire to the escorting destroyer NRS Corsica (Captain Daphne St. Croix), while the USS Liberty set up for another torpedo spread while also getting close enough to recover her bombers for a possible second strike. The Northampton pivots to present her first proper broadside of the engagement, but already she’s badly hammered by the Nicaea’s previous gunnery.
Captain deChalemonde (NRS Leclerc) comes hard about and dives toward the Americans, who are still  trying to decelerate after their very fast approach runs.  DeChalemonde is also determined to knock out the Northampton (note she is rolled to protect her damaged port side).  Roman fighters and torpedoes try to spin around to hit the Northampton’s port quarter (where shields have gone down) but despite losing a fighter, the torpedoes are all shot down and the fighters’ gunnery run doesn’t quite known down the American cruiser.  American bombers land to begin rearming for a second torpedo strike, while the Northampton takes another hammering (albeit on a new facing with fresh armor) from the Leclerc and Corsica.  The Americans manage to cripple the Corsica, however, while the Liberty also takes tremendous damage along her starboard bow (the French perhaps trying to destroy those  “Avenger” torpedo bombers while they’re still in the hangars).    Captain deChalemonde (NRS Leclerc) comes hard about and dives toward the Americans, who are still trying to decelerate after their very fast approach runs. DeChalemonde is also determined to knock out the Northampton (note she is rolled to protect her damaged port side). Roman fighters and torpedoes try to spin around to hit the Northampton’s port quarter (where shields have gone down) but despite losing a fighter, the torpedoes are all shot down and the fighters’ gunnery run doesn’t quite known down the American cruiser. American bombers land to begin rearming for a second torpedo strike, while the Northampton takes another hammering (albeit on a new facing with fresh armor) from the Leclerc and Corsica. The Americans manage to cripple the Corsica, however, while the Liberty also takes tremendous damage along her starboard bow (the French perhaps trying to destroy those “Avenger” torpedo bombers while they’re still in the hangars).
Although the deChalemonde aboard the Leclerc is ready to continue the fight (his light cruiser and the carrier Priscilla remain operational), Captains Zachary Irons aboard the Liberty and Jack Morrison aboard the Northampton accelerate to break off the engagement.  That have done far more damage to the Romans than vice-versa, and both the Liberty and Northampton are now very heavily damaged with widespread systems damage.  With the frigate USS John Young close abeam, they pull off the Lewis Hill orbital zone and break off the battle, leaving the French over the planetoid but in far, far too weakened a state to maintain a foothold in the Mu Hercules system.  The score of the game is displayed in the graphic, shaking out as a VERY solid American minor victory (just two percentage points shy of a major victory).  After the embarrassing outcome of Kayashenko 12 and the Treaty of Zubrin, this is a much needed boost to American naval prestige, even if it was won to the benefit of their former British foes.  As for the New Romans, it is hardly an auspicious debut into the Third Hercules War, prompting some local archbishops to wonder if perhaps “sitting on the sidelines” was perhaps the best course of action after all.      Although the deChalemonde aboard the Leclerc is ready to continue the fight (his light cruiser and the carrier Priscilla remain operational), Captains Zachary Irons aboard the Liberty and Jack Morrison aboard the Northampton accelerate to break off the engagement. That have done far more damage to the Romans than vice-versa, and both the Liberty and Northampton are now very heavily damaged with widespread systems damage. With the frigate USS John Young close abeam, they pull off the Lewis Hill orbital zone and break off the battle, leaving the French over the planetoid but in far, far too weakened a state to maintain a foothold in the Mu Hercules system. The score of the game is displayed in the graphic, shaking out as a VERY solid American minor victory (just two percentage points shy of a major victory). After the embarrassing outcome of Kayashenko 12 and the Treaty of Zubrin, this is a much needed boost to American naval prestige, even if it was won to the benefit of their former British foes. As for the New Romans, it is hardly an auspicious debut into the Third Hercules War, prompting some local archbishops to wonder if perhaps “sitting on the sidelines” was perhaps the best course of action after all.

British Raid on Sigma Rajdana (British vs. Indians and Russians)

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
8 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:00 SOL GMT, 02 JANUARY 2522
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

BRITISH RAID ON SIGMA RAJDANA (Bhogavati / HD176051)

The situation is definitely heating up in the ongoing Third Hercules War community campaign. Recent weeks have seen the British Royal Navy continue their wining streak, resurgent in the United Nations “Redemption” Mandate (99 Hercules system).  The Holy Russian Empire reels from successive defeats, the Americans all but tossed out of half of the war by a string bitter reversals.  Now a threatening new faction has joined the fray in the form of the New Roman Alliance (the combined star navies primarily of Italy, France, and Spain). All across the Hercules Rim, a series of “tipping points” inch precariously closer to several factions, and more than one nation stands upon the cusp of victory, or stares into the abyss of defeat.

Flush with recent “Operation Rodney” victories in the 99 Hercules system, Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish receives orders from Hercules SCS Admiralty (Outer Hebrides / Mu Hercules).  With the Americans pacified along the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim by the Treaty of Zubrin, the Admiralty has decided to focus attention on their other foe in this region, the Indian Republic.

Based out of the Bhogavati Colonies in the HD176051 system (yellow main sequence / orange dwarf binary), Indian commitment to the Third Hercules War has always been lukewarm at best, with regional governors hoping to provide peripheral support in a presumed American victory and claim a modest share in the spoils, namely a permanent basing and shipping lease in the UN “Redemption” Mandate.  But now with the Americans largely called to heel, at least here in the spinward systems of the Hercules Rim . . .

Task Force Agamemnon is thus issued orders to sortie an immediate strike into the Bhogavati Colonies.  No Royal Marines or Paras are sent along, it is hoped a sharp, punitive strike will convince the Indian Republic bow out of the war to choose its allies more carefully in the future.  Then, with all opponents quelled along the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim, the Royal Navy can turn coreward and, together with the Japanese and Arab League, deal with the Russians and Romans once and for all.

The Russians, however, having just lost an ally in the United States (depending on the star system in question, of course), are determined not to lose another.  So when Task Force Agamemnon erupts from its Darkstar wave HD176051 and decelerates toward the small outer terrestrial world of Sigma Rajdana, they find not only a pair of Maharani class heavy cruisers waiting for them, but part of the Admiral Lazarev Battlegroup (Captain Pyotr Fedorovich Myshaga) as well.

UNITED KINGDOM: @Damon
RUSSIA / INDIA: @Oriskany
RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (526 points)

A new year, a new phase of the Third Hercules War.  As 2522 dawns, the British are well on their way to turning the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim into their backyard.  Forbidden by treaty to act against British interests, the Americans at Alpha Lyra are in fact obligated to help defend British holdings in 99 Hercules, HR 6806, and Mu Hercules in a “mutual assistance” clause.  This leaves only the Indian Republic in HD176051, a matter that Task Force Agamemnon aims to settle directly.  With this spinward flank secured, the Royal Navy hope to turn coreward, linking up with their Japanese allies in Kyokko Bijin and Arab League allies at Khiazan’s Haven against the stubborn Russians at Krasnaya Nadhezda and the newly-belligerent Roman Alliance at Catania.  The Indians, for their part, are keen to defend themselves and their early gains in this war, while their allies in the Holy Russian Empire are determined to keep their British opponents in a “two front war.”  Either way, Bhogavati must stand.A new year, a new phase of the Third Hercules War. As 2522 dawns, the British are well on their way to turning the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim into their backyard. Forbidden by treaty to act against British interests, the Americans at Alpha Lyra are in fact obligated to help defend British holdings in 99 Hercules, HR 6806, and Mu Hercules in a “mutual assistance” clause. This leaves only the Indian Republic in HD176051, a matter that Task Force Agamemnon aims to settle directly. With this spinward flank secured, the Royal Navy hope to turn coreward, linking up with their Japanese allies in Kyokko Bijin and Arab League allies at Khiazan’s Haven against the stubborn Russians at Krasnaya Nadhezda and the newly-belligerent Roman Alliance at Catania. The Indians, for their part, are keen to defend themselves and their early gains in this war, while their allies in the Holy Russian Empire are determined to keep their British opponents in a “two front war.” Either way, Bhogavati must stand.
Both fleets make their approach along the daylight side of Sigma Rajdana.  The Indian heavy cruiser Prajarina streaks in first at very high speed, engines full reverse in as hard a deceleration as her 126,000 tons will allow.  Task Force Agamemnon comes in a moment later, Cavendish setting up a skillful standoff starboard broadside that doesn’t expose his ships to Prajarina’s broadside in turn.  But he doesn’t entirely pull it off, the heavy cruiser Basukhalji thunders in next with Russians running close abeam, the veteran destroyer Rusalka and the notorious light cruiser Admiral Lazarev.  This combined force just manages to get the angle for a broadside on the lead British destroyer, HMS Sheffield, at just under 2000 kilometers.  This combined Russo-Indian task force opens fire, leading off with the massed syglex emitters of the Basukhalji and following up with the EPCs of the Admiral Lazarev and rail guns of the Rusalka.  The Sheffield is hammered, scorched, and lacerated along her starboard quarter, her engine rooms vented to space, her starboard reactors ejected to prevent catastrophic explosion.  Just that fast, the Sheffield has been smacked out of the battle.  The British return fire on the Prajarina, slashing open her port bow, damaging (among other systems) her maneuvering thrusters, a CRITICAL system to lose for a heavy cruiser still moving at just over 30 kilometers per second.  Both fleets make their approach along the daylight side of Sigma Rajdana. The Indian heavy cruiser Prajarina streaks in first at very high speed, engines full reverse in as hard a deceleration as her 126,000 tons will allow. Task Force Agamemnon comes in a moment later, Cavendish setting up a skillful standoff starboard broadside that doesn’t expose his ships to Prajarina’s broadside in turn. But he doesn’t entirely pull it off, the heavy cruiser Basukhalji thunders in next with Russians running close abeam, the veteran destroyer Rusalka and the notorious light cruiser Admiral Lazarev. This combined force just manages to get the angle for a broadside on the lead British destroyer, HMS Sheffield, at just under 2000 kilometers. This combined Russo-Indian task force opens fire, leading off with the massed syglex emitters of the Basukhalji and following up with the EPCs of the Admiral Lazarev and rail guns of the Rusalka. The Sheffield is hammered, scorched, and lacerated along her starboard quarter, her engine rooms vented to space, her starboard reactors ejected to prevent catastrophic explosion. Just that fast, the Sheffield has been smacked out of the battle. The British return fire on the Prajarina, slashing open her port bow, damaging (among other systems) her maneuvering thrusters, a CRITICAL system to lose for a heavy cruiser still moving at just over 30 kilometers per second.
The Indians had a beautiful maneuver planned here, with the mighty Basukhalji and Prajarina scissor-turning into each other to present mutually-supporting broadsides in Hexes 3810 and 3910.  But with the Prajarina trailing a sheet of burning atmosphere from the gash where her portside thrusters used to be, she can’t make this turn and continue to decelerate at the same time.  The maneuver is thus flawed, the jaws don’t close, and the British seek to exploit the gap between the two behemoths.   The Agamemnon, still the fastest heavy cruiser in Known Space, pivots around to rake Basukhalji’s stern.  The light cruiser HMS Retribution (sleek, modern, but somewhat vulnerable Relentless-class) hooks the other way to put a broadside into Prajarina’s badly-damaged port bow. Cavendish’s plan here is to try to knock out both Indian heavyweights in one salvo, securing victory before close-range Russian EPCs, rail guns, plasma accelerators, and massed P-500 torpedo strikes can tip the balance.      The Indians had a beautiful maneuver planned here, with the mighty Basukhalji and Prajarina scissor-turning into each other to present mutually-supporting broadsides in Hexes 3810 and 3910. But with the Prajarina trailing a sheet of burning atmosphere from the gash where her portside thrusters used to be, she can’t make this turn and continue to decelerate at the same time. The maneuver is thus flawed, the jaws don’t close, and the British seek to exploit the gap between the two behemoths. The Agamemnon, still the fastest heavy cruiser in Known Space, pivots around to rake Basukhalji’s stern. The light cruiser HMS Retribution (sleek, modern, but somewhat vulnerable Relentless-class) hooks the other way to put a broadside into Prajarina’s badly-damaged port bow. Cavendish’s plan here is to try to knock out both Indian heavyweights in one salvo, securing victory before close-range Russian EPCs, rail guns, plasma accelerators, and massed P-500 torpedo strikes can tip the balance.
Okay, a lot happens here.  With the Basukhalji and Prajarina both “helpless” but to hit the Retribution along her port bow with their forward batteries, the Admiral Lazarev and Rusalka cut in to offer close-range broadsides in support.  If this combined Russo-Indian barrage can hit the Retribution’s forward magazines or bridge, they’ll knock out the ship and keep the odds even (they’re already assuming the Prajarina will be crippled).  Both sides, however, are going to score a lot more damage than they expected.  Although the aerospace strike of the carrier HMS Vindictive is largely broken up against the stern of the Basukhlaji (one Supermarine Starfire fighter is shot down), the broadside of HMS Agamemnon positively savages the stern of the Basukhalji.  Just as she slings her forward guns at the Retribution and aft guns at the Agamemnon, the Basukhalji has to eject her reactors and she’s left dead in space.  The Prajarina cuts loose into the Relentless as well, her syglex emitters and heavy lasers carving horrific wounds down Retribution’s port bow, after guns slicing open Agamemnon’s starboard quarter.  Retribution fires her full broadside, smashing into Prajarina’s fatally-damaged port bow, hitting both the magazine and the bridge, wounding her captain and knocking the shop out of the battle.  The Admiral Lazarev fires next, her EPCs and plasma emitters burning into the gaping wound already left by the two Indian cruisers, exploding Retribution’s forward magazine, hitting the bridge, crippling the ship, and exacting some measure of revenge for the humiliating loss Myshaga suffered at Kayashenko 12.  Suddenly without a target, Rusalka instead turns her turrets against Agamemnon, which has suffered terrible damage to her starboard quarter from the aft guns of Basukhalji and Prajarina.  For a razored, terrified, heart-attack moment, Agamemnon’s fate hangs in the balance.  If damage control and engineering crews can’t keep her reactors up and engines powered, Agamemnon will plunge into the gravity well of Sigma Rajdana.  The lights flicker, the engines stagger, the reactors shudder ... but Agamemnon maintains power and for the moment remains in the fight. Okay, a lot happens here. With the Basukhalji and Prajarina both “helpless” but to hit the Retribution along her port bow with their forward batteries, the Admiral Lazarev and Rusalka cut in to offer close-range broadsides in support. If this combined Russo-Indian barrage can hit the Retribution’s forward magazines or bridge, they’ll knock out the ship and keep the odds even (they’re already assuming the Prajarina will be crippled). Both sides, however, are going to score a lot more damage than they expected. Although the aerospace strike of the carrier HMS Vindictive is largely broken up against the stern of the Basukhlaji (one Supermarine Starfire fighter is shot down), the broadside of HMS Agamemnon positively savages the stern of the Basukhalji. Just as she slings her forward guns at the Retribution and aft guns at the Agamemnon, the Basukhalji has to eject her reactors and she’s left dead in space. The Prajarina cuts loose into the Relentless as well, her syglex emitters and heavy lasers carving horrific wounds down Retribution’s port bow, after guns slicing open Agamemnon’s starboard quarter. Retribution fires her full broadside, smashing into Prajarina’s fatally-damaged port bow, hitting both the magazine and the bridge, wounding her captain and knocking the shop out of the battle. The Admiral Lazarev fires next, her EPCs and plasma emitters burning into the gaping wound already left by the two Indian cruisers, exploding Retribution’s forward magazine, hitting the bridge, crippling the ship, and exacting some measure of revenge for the humiliating loss Myshaga suffered at Kayashenko 12. Suddenly without a target, Rusalka instead turns her turrets against Agamemnon, which has suffered terrible damage to her starboard quarter from the aft guns of Basukhalji and Prajarina. For a razored, terrified, heart-attack moment, Agamemnon’s fate hangs in the balance. If damage control and engineering crews can’t keep her reactors up and engines powered, Agamemnon will plunge into the gravity well of Sigma Rajdana. The lights flicker, the engines stagger, the reactors shudder ... but Agamemnon maintains power and for the moment remains in the fight.
The raid on Sigma Rajdana has been brutally reduced to just four ships, and the largest of them, HMS Agamemnon, is in real trouble.  Although she manages to pull a flaming starboard turn away from the planet and present a broadside to the Russians, she frankly doesn’t have a broadside left.  ALL aft guns have been blown clean out of their mounts, leaving only forward EPCs and lasers to fend off these Russian wolves hounding the wounded British bear.  It’s not nearly enough, the destroyer Rusalka taking moderate damage as the Rusalka and especially Admiral Lazarev hit the Agamemnon again.  This time, the engineers and damage control teams have no miracles left, the Agamemnon is left crippled and adrift . . . but at least she’s in a safe orbital trajectory.  Meanwhile, the HMS Vindictive lands her fighters to rearm for another missile strike, her bombers close behind. The raid on Sigma Rajdana has been brutally reduced to just four ships, and the largest of them, HMS Agamemnon, is in real trouble. Although she manages to pull a flaming starboard turn away from the planet and present a broadside to the Russians, she frankly doesn’t have a broadside left. ALL aft guns have been blown clean out of their mounts, leaving only forward EPCs and lasers to fend off these Russian wolves hounding the wounded British bear. It’s not nearly enough, the destroyer Rusalka taking moderate damage as the Rusalka and especially Admiral Lazarev hit the Agamemnon again. This time, the engineers and damage control teams have no miracles left, the Agamemnon is left crippled and adrift . . . but at least she’s in a safe orbital trajectory. Meanwhile, the HMS Vindictive lands her fighters to rearm for another missile strike, her bombers close behind.
But honestly, this raid is already over.  The Russians accelerate to break off the engagement (RAID victory conditions, remember), content in the knowledge that this British task force is NOT the vanguard to an invasion fleet.  Vindictive is receiving orders to begin rescue and recovery operations, while the Lazarev task force retains more than enough firepower to ensure continued Indian control of the Sigma Rajdama orbital zone and the Bhogavati colonies in general.  The score is displayed, it’s a bitterly-fought but clear Indo-Russian victory. But honestly, this raid is already over. The Russians accelerate to break off the engagement (RAID victory conditions, remember), content in the knowledge that this British task force is NOT the vanguard to an invasion fleet. Vindictive is receiving orders to begin rescue and recovery operations, while the Lazarev task force retains more than enough firepower to ensure continued Indian control of the Sigma Rajdama orbital zone and the Bhogavati colonies in general. The score is displayed, it’s a bitterly-fought but clear Indo-Russian victory.
The effect of the raid on Sigma Rajdana is immediate and far-reaching.  Splitting the victory campaign award for a minor victory in large engagement (4 points) equally between the Russians and the Indians, we see the Indians are now unmistakably ABOVE their campaign victory threshold.  In summary, they’re OUT OF THE WAR, as VICTORS.  The UN is prepared to mediate negotiations that will guarantee them a world in the 99 Hercules system (UN “Redemption” Mandate) they will PERMANENTLY annex as sovereign territory of the Indian Republic.  It’s not a terribly huge win, but note the “4” threshold for the Indian Republic . . . their government never had ambitious or grandiose goals in this war.  Remember that HD176051 isn’t even in the Hercules constellation, they’re heading in from the neighboring Lyra strategic command sector (SCS).  Their participation in this conflict was understood to be strictly limited from the start, and now that they’ve achieved their modest aims, their naval commanders have cease-fire orders from New Dehli.  For the Indian Republic, the Third Hercules War is over.  Thus, from a certain point of view, the British loss at Sigma Rajdana has ironically ACHIEVED their strategic goal.  The Indians are out of the war, and the Royal Navy now has a free hand to turn against coreward threats like the Holy Russian Empire and the New Roman Alliance.  Of course, that’s AFTER they weld Task Force Agamemnon back together, that is.    The effect of the raid on Sigma Rajdana is immediate and far-reaching. Splitting the victory campaign award for a minor victory in large engagement (4 points) equally between the Russians and the Indians, we see the Indians are now unmistakably ABOVE their campaign victory threshold. In summary, they’re OUT OF THE WAR, as VICTORS. The UN is prepared to mediate negotiations that will guarantee them a world in the 99 Hercules system (UN “Redemption” Mandate) they will PERMANENTLY annex as sovereign territory of the Indian Republic. It’s not a terribly huge win, but note the “4” threshold for the Indian Republic . . . their government never had ambitious or grandiose goals in this war. Remember that HD176051 isn’t even in the Hercules constellation, they’re heading in from the neighboring Lyra strategic command sector (SCS). Their participation in this conflict was understood to be strictly limited from the start, and now that they’ve achieved their modest aims, their naval commanders have cease-fire orders from New Dehli. For the Indian Republic, the Third Hercules War is over. Thus, from a certain point of view, the British loss at Sigma Rajdana has ironically ACHIEVED their strategic goal. The Indians are out of the war, and the Royal Navy now has a free hand to turn against coreward threats like the Holy Russian Empire and the New Roman Alliance. Of course, that’s AFTER they weld Task Force Agamemnon back together, that is.

Updates Complete - MAJOR CHANGES in Third Hercules War

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Okay, everyone.  This post should complete the updates on the Third Hercules War Community Campaign up to date.

It covers Darkstar Web Games 45 and 46 (The Lost Dutchman and Kayashenko 12), and brings the timeline up to the end of November, 2521.

The end of the post shows the current state, what factions have dropped out (sort of), and what new faction has joined.

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FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
02:00 SOL GMT, 25 OCTOBER 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

BRITISH ASSAULT ON THE LOST DUTCHMAN (Redemption / 99 Hercules)

With the Japanese having defeated the Indo-American incursion at Shindo 919, the “Khaizhan Caliphate” of the Arab League defeating the Russian counterstrike at Kayashenko 14, and especially the Royal Navy’s solid win at the Battle of Uxbridge in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules system), Royal Navy high command senses an opportunity to decisively turn the tide of the Third Hercules War once and for all.

Thus is born Operation “Rodney,” named for one of the battleships that helped sink the Bismarck in 1941.  Originally conceived by Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish, the plan met with eager approval at Hercules SCS (strategic command sector) Naval Command at Uxbridge, who immediately assigned the plan tier-one priority in Royal Navy support facilities, supplies, and repair / refit scheduling.  Having ensured the plan’s adoption, Cavendish also made sure his force (Task Force Agamemnon) would get the orders to spearhead the effort.

The orders are to launch consecutive assaults against the Royal Navy’s two primary enemies in this Third Hercules War, the United States and the Holy Russian Empire.  Rather than strike far-flung targets at Port Halsey or Krasnaya Nadhezda, the British will hit much closer to home, at American and Russian holdings in the UN’s “Redemption” Mandate (99 Hercules system).

First, the Americans will be struck at their newly-secured holding, the outer terrestrial planet of The Lost Dutchman (99 Hercules-12.A).  With a mass roughly that of Mars, but an orbit more like Pluto or Eris, the Lost Dutchman was a British possession until early defeats in HR6806 and Mu Hercules forced the British to reinforce these threatened sectors at the expense at less-vital areas like the Lost Dutchman.  In a word, the Americans “stole” it, practically without a fight, after the British suffered yet another defeat in 99 Hercules, trying to shove the Russians out of the moons of the Kayashenko gas giant.

The “Stars and Stripes” flying over a British colony simply won’t do, and on 25 October 2521, Task Force Agamemnon mounts a short, slow, and very precise intrasystem Darkstar jump out of Zubrin (the main British holding in 99 Hercules) to the night side of The Lost Dutchman.  They find themselves confronted by one of the major American flagships in the Hercules Rim, the Gettysburg class heavy cruiser USS Shiloh under the flag of Rear-Admiral Virginia Saunders.  Raising steam for a parabolic orbit around to the day side of The Lost Dutchman, Saunders denies battle just long enough for help to arrive in the form of the bulk of Task Force Oriskany (Captain Matthew Spencer).

The Battle of the Lost Dutchman is on.

UNITED STATES: @Oriskany
UNITED KINGDOM: @Damon
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (520 points)

Make no mistake.  This will be no “raid,” but a knock-down, drag-out, last man standing assault to determine possession of The Lost Dutchman (outermost terrestrial planet of the “Redemption” / 99 Hercules star system).   Make no mistake. This will be no “raid,” but a knock-down, drag-out, last man standing assault to determine possession of The Lost Dutchman (outermost terrestrial planet of the “Redemption” / 99 Hercules star system).
The Americans come on very fast, eager to close the distance with the bigger guns of  USS Shiloh.  Also, most of these British ship have more accurate guns than the Americans, at accuracy advantages tend to count less at shorter ranges.  The Americans thus thunder toward “Arauz Harbor,” the Shiloh just missing lining up a broadside on the approaching British while the destroyers of Task Force Oriskany line up torpedo spreads and the USS Tarawa starts launching her aerospace group (Marine Corps strike squadron VMF/A-319 - the “Tigersharks”).  The British, meanwhile, sets a slower speed, content to keep the range open for the time being, the light fleet carrier HMS Vindictive angling away from the Americans so she can launch her strike group in relative safety.The Americans come on very fast, eager to close the distance with the bigger guns of USS Shiloh. Also, most of these British ship have more accurate guns than the Americans, at accuracy advantages tend to count less at shorter ranges. The Americans thus thunder toward “Arauz Harbor,” the Shiloh just missing lining up a broadside on the approaching British while the destroyers of Task Force Oriskany line up torpedo spreads and the USS Tarawa starts launching her aerospace group (Marine Corps strike squadron VMF/A-319 - the “Tigersharks”). The British, meanwhile, sets a slower speed, content to keep the range open for the time being, the light fleet carrier HMS Vindictive angling away from the Americans so she can launch her strike group in relative safety.
By Turn 3, things are already going pretty badly for the Americans.  Out of her first three fire phases, the biggest American guns (10 gigawatt rail guns aboard USS Shiloh) have hit exactly ONCE out of 18 shots, and now she’s being broadsided point-blank in the engines by the faster, more maneuverable HMS Agamemnon.  She ... doesn’t last long.  USS Oriskany has also been hammered, forced to break off yet trying to sling additional torpedoes into the fray.  She gets lucky when one of her Mark 48s, along with strafing scouts, manages to hit the HMS Sheffield astern, crippling the ship with a detonation right in her engines and reactors.  The main Marine Corps aerospace strike, meanwhile, along with point-blank broadsides of the USS Princeton and Valley Forge, manage to cripple the HMS Agamemnon.  British fighters and bombers, meanwhile (Supermarine Starfires and Nebula Star Typhoons) try to set up a launch against the Americans, venture a shade too close and before she is crippled, the USS Shiloh’s long-ranged 40mm mass drivers knock down most of the British  bombers.  Although diluted, the British torpedo and missile strike still manages to cripple the USS Princeton with hits astern in her reactors and engineering sections.   By Turn 3, things are already going pretty badly for the Americans. Out of her first three fire phases, the biggest American guns (10 gigawatt rail guns aboard USS Shiloh) have hit exactly ONCE out of 18 shots, and now she’s being broadsided point-blank in the engines by the faster, more maneuverable HMS Agamemnon. She ... doesn’t last long. USS Oriskany has also been hammered, forced to break off yet trying to sling additional torpedoes into the fray. She gets lucky when one of her Mark 48s, along with strafing scouts, manages to hit the HMS Sheffield astern, crippling the ship with a detonation right in her engines and reactors. The main Marine Corps aerospace strike, meanwhile, along with point-blank broadsides of the USS Princeton and Valley Forge, manage to cripple the HMS Agamemnon. British fighters and bombers, meanwhile (Supermarine Starfires and Nebula Star Typhoons) try to set up a launch against the Americans, venture a shade too close and before she is crippled, the USS Shiloh’s long-ranged 40mm mass drivers knock down most of the British bombers. Although diluted, the British torpedo and missile strike still manages to cripple the USS Princeton with hits astern in her reactors and engineering sections.
Turn 7, and like we saw against the Japanese at Shindo 919, by the end of the game the Americans are desperate to steal back a draw, and like we saw at Shindo 919, they come up short.  Successive Marine Corps strafing attacks have been chewing away at the stern of the HMS Retribution.  The Valley Forge has also put a broadside into her stern, but Retribution’s deadly-accurate guns have crippled her.  The USS Oriskany has been forced to break off.  USS Tarawa, unarmed except point-defense mass drivers and torpedoes, keeps slinging in Mark 48s until she actually runs out.  The bombers land, are re-armed, and re-launch for a second strike which, combined with the suicidal courage of the Marine Tigersharks (flying F/S-44 Star Corsairs) and the Tarawa’s very last torpedoes JUST MISS crippling the HMS Retribution (I rolled a 3, I needed 1 4) – even as the last British bombers are shot down by American “Hawkeye” scouts.  But it doesn’t matter.  The British still have too much firepower in orbit over The Lost Dutchman, including HMS Retribution a larger carrier than HMS Tarawa, and MANY more surviving fighters.  It’s a narrow, bloody win, but a clear outcome nonetheless.  The British have re-taken The Lost Dutchman, and the Americans have lost their foothold in the UN “Redemption” Mandate (99 Hercules). Turn 7, and like we saw against the Japanese at Shindo 919, by the end of the game the Americans are desperate to steal back a draw, and like we saw at Shindo 919, they come up short. Successive Marine Corps strafing attacks have been chewing away at the stern of the HMS Retribution. The Valley Forge has also put a broadside into her stern, but Retribution’s deadly-accurate guns have crippled her. The USS Oriskany has been forced to break off. USS Tarawa, unarmed except point-defense mass drivers and torpedoes, keeps slinging in Mark 48s until she actually runs out. The bombers land, are re-armed, and re-launch for a second strike which, combined with the suicidal courage of the Marine Tigersharks (flying F/S-44 Star Corsairs) and the Tarawa’s very last torpedoes JUST MISS crippling the HMS Retribution (I rolled a 3, I needed 1 4) – even as the last British bombers are shot down by American “Hawkeye” scouts. But it doesn’t matter. The British still have too much firepower in orbit over The Lost Dutchman, including HMS Retribution a larger carrier than HMS Tarawa, and MANY more surviving fighters. It’s a narrow, bloody win, but a clear outcome nonetheless. The British have re-taken The Lost Dutchman, and the Americans have lost their foothold in the UN “Redemption” Mandate (99 Hercules).

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
23:40 SOL GMT, 18 NOVEMBER 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

ROYAL NAVY ASSAULT ON KAYASHENKO 12 (Redemption / 99 Hercules)

With the Americans for the most part limping back to Port Halsey, the Russians stand more or less alone in the UN “Redemption” Mandate (99 Hercules).  Accordingly, Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish (commander, Task Force Agamemnon) is determined to maintain the momentum of Operation “Rodney.”  His warships are thus patched together at the nearby Zubrin gas giant in record time (in the same 99 Hercules star system) and within three weeks, he’s sortied against his next target, the Russian Kayashenko gas giant.

If Cavendish can repeat his last win, he’ll have knocked the Royal Navy’s two biggest enemies clean out of the UN Redemption Mandate, marking the first clear territorial win for Great Britain in the Third Hercules War.

Yet however brief his pause has been to repair ships like HMS Agamemnon, Retribution, and Sheffield,  that same time has allowed the Americans to repair some of their smaller ships as well.  While there’s no way they can repair USS Shiloh in time, the USS Oriskany and Valley Forge have been repaired (the Princeton is also unable to make it in time).  The Americans also send in their FTL-enhanced light fleet carrier, the legendary USS Liberty (Captain Zachary Irons).  The Coalition of Eagles can only hope that these slender reinforcements, combined with the Russian Light cruiser CPK Lazarev and destroyer Syekyra might be just enough to stop Cavendish’s follow-through to his “Rodney” offensive.

The two fleets meet at Kayashenko 12, a captured asteroid in a freakishly close, rapidly-decaying orbit around the gigantic bulk of the Kayashenko gas giant.  As fate would have it, this battle is not only the largest yet seen in the Third Hercules War, but even beyond its tremendous battlespace impact, will also prove to have fateful and controversial political impact across over fifty light-years of space, changing the shape of the conflict going forward.

UNITED KINGDOM: @Damon
RUSSIA / UNITED STATES: @Oriskany
ASSAULT VICTORY CONDITIONS (527 points)

No need for a “theater map” on this one, it is taking place in the same 99 Hercules system as the battle immediately prior.  We see the British task force moving up slowly from actually WITHIN the gas giant’s upper most cloud layers, keeping as slow a speed as Lord Cavendish dares (he can’t go too slow of if any of his ships are crippled, they won’t have escape velocity to leave the table - gravity rules are MUCH more harsh on gas giant tables).  The Americans and especially Russians, meanwhile, are setting a VERY high speed well over 40 kilometers a second, more or less dive-bombing straight into the planet’s gravity well.  This seems insane, but the Coalition ships are actually much more agile and maneuverable than the British task force.  The American commander (Irons) wants to launch that decisive aerospace strike as soon as possible and he’ll need the help of slow Russian torpedoes to do it, while the Russian commander (Captain Pyotr Fedorovich Myshaga) wants to put his plasma accelerators, EPCs, and rail guns across a British stern five minutes ago.  Note the how the Russo-American trajectory is affected by the planet’s gravity No need for a “theater map” on this one, it is taking place in the same 99 Hercules system as the battle immediately prior. We see the British task force moving up slowly from actually WITHIN the gas giant’s upper most cloud layers, keeping as slow a speed as Lord Cavendish dares (he can’t go too slow of if any of his ships are crippled, they won’t have escape velocity to leave the table - gravity rules are MUCH more harsh on gas giant tables). The Americans and especially Russians, meanwhile, are setting a VERY high speed well over 40 kilometers a second, more or less dive-bombing straight into the planet’s gravity well. This seems insane, but the Coalition ships are actually much more agile and maneuverable than the British task force. The American commander (Irons) wants to launch that decisive aerospace strike as soon as possible and he’ll need the help of slow Russian torpedoes to do it, while the Russian commander (Captain Pyotr Fedorovich Myshaga) wants to put his plasma accelerators, EPCs, and rail guns across a British stern five minutes ago. Note the how the Russo-American trajectory is affected by the planet’s gravity
And here it is, the movement phase that doomed the Americans in the Third Hercules War and damned near KILLED two of the game’s most famous ships.  The British have moved first (lost initiative), jack-knifing back and ducking back into the clouds of Kayashenko.  The decision is a chancy one, braving the gravity and lightning to keep the range open on the Coalition warships and hit them with a broadside as they race forward.  Although previously decelerating, the Russians and Americans now RE-accelerate, hoping to close the range with the British as soon as humanly possible.  Their speed, however, combined with Kayashenko’s merciless gravity, leave them only one option for a starboard turn if they want to stay in the battle.  The destroyer Sykerya doesn’t have to worry about that choice.  Already damaged by the British forward batteries last turn, she is smashed open so hard by the second volley (now a complete broadside) that she loses power and careens off the table anyway, crippled and out of control.  The Lazarev, Oriskany, and Valley Forge, meanwhile, are in desperate trouble already ... even if they don’t already know it.  At least the British aerospace strike largely fails, a single Supermarine Starfire’s missile hits USS Oriskany astern ... but that’s a hit that will be telling later. Meanwhile, all forward Russian and American guns tear into the carrier HMS Valiant, inflicting such damage that Cavendish elects to order her out of the battle area.  Note where USS Liberty is, near the top of the pic.  THAT’S where the Russians and Americans should have ALL gone, weathering one more British broadside at longer range against their enhanced shielding, all while hammering the British with their far stronger aerospace strike coming up ...And here it is, the movement phase that doomed the Americans in the Third Hercules War and damned near KILLED two of the game’s most famous ships. The British have moved first (lost initiative), jack-knifing back and ducking back into the clouds of Kayashenko. The decision is a chancy one, braving the gravity and lightning to keep the range open on the Coalition warships and hit them with a broadside as they race forward. Although previously decelerating, the Russians and Americans now RE-accelerate, hoping to close the range with the British as soon as humanly possible. Their speed, however, combined with Kayashenko’s merciless gravity, leave them only one option for a starboard turn if they want to stay in the battle. The destroyer Sykerya doesn’t have to worry about that choice. Already damaged by the British forward batteries last turn, she is smashed open so hard by the second volley (now a complete broadside) that she loses power and careens off the table anyway, crippled and out of control. The Lazarev, Oriskany, and Valley Forge, meanwhile, are in desperate trouble already ... even if they don’t already know it. At least the British aerospace strike largely fails, a single Supermarine Starfire’s missile hits USS Oriskany astern ... but that’s a hit that will be telling later. Meanwhile, all forward Russian and American guns tear into the carrier HMS Valiant, inflicting such damage that Cavendish elects to order her out of the battle area. Note where USS Liberty is, near the top of the pic. THAT’S where the Russians and Americans should have ALL gone, weathering one more British broadside at longer range against their enhanced shielding, all while hammering the British with their far stronger aerospace strike coming up ...
Turn three, and it’s all over but the crying.  Even decelerating as much as they can, the Lazarev, Oriskany, and Valley Forge BARELY manage to make a starboard turn and dive head-first into the gas giant’s gravity well, literally at flank speed into the jaws of death.  Even much of the speed they managed to shed was regained due to the enhanced gravity rules within a gas giant atmosphere.  Meanwhile, the British have powered back OUT of the atmosphere and looped behind the Coalition with a full-scale broadside directly astern ... as the Coalition dives headlong into Kayashenko.  THIS ... IS NOT HOW YOU PLAY DARKSTAR.  I of all people should know not to do this.  By losing patience and setting too high a speed, I have made my position nakedly predictable, so all the points I spent in speed and initiative bonuses are for naught, Damon lost initiative and was still able to easily put himself in perfect position.  The Agamemnon fires into the stern of the Oriskany and Valley Forge, doing tremendous damage against both ships’ engines and reactors.  Note: if they lose power HERE, they are DEAD.  Commander’s Luck, nothing saves you from being pulled down to the crushing incineration thousands of kilometers deep in a gas giant’s blistering ocean of hyper-pressurized liquid hydrogen.  The American aerospace strike slams into the stern of the Agamemnon, crippling her, but her far wiser commander has her on a trajectory and velocity where she will drift off the table and be rescued after the battle.  The Retribution and Sheffield now fire as well . . .  The Oriskany winds up taking 5 boxes of “critical” damage.  Destroyers are crippled on a d6 roll of 7+, from which you subtract the number of crits.  She’s now at a 2+ to die.  At the end of the turn, I get to roll 2d6 to repair internal damage (Resolute Crew upgrade).  I get lucky and score two successes, so I repair two critical engine boxes and now Oriskany is at 7-3=4+ to die.  I ask Damon of he’s willing to let me out of this roll if I break off the Oriskany and Valley Forge (in an assault game, this gives him the same number of victory points, I just get to keep my favorite ship for future games).  Damon agrees, but only if the Americans break off ENTIRELY and also sign a peace treaty with the British.  Desperate not to lose the “Lady O” forever, I reluctantly agree.  Unfortunately for me, we roll the dice anyway just to see what would happen and Damon rolls a “1” – Oriskany would have survived anyway.  Turn three, and it’s all over but the crying. Even decelerating as much as they can, the Lazarev, Oriskany, and Valley Forge BARELY manage to make a starboard turn and dive head-first into the gas giant’s gravity well, literally at flank speed into the jaws of death. Even much of the speed they managed to shed was regained due to the enhanced gravity rules within a gas giant atmosphere. Meanwhile, the British have powered back OUT of the atmosphere and looped behind the Coalition with a full-scale broadside directly astern ... as the Coalition dives headlong into Kayashenko. THIS ... IS NOT HOW YOU PLAY DARKSTAR. I of all people should know not to do this. By losing patience and setting too high a speed, I have made my position nakedly predictable, so all the points I spent in speed and initiative bonuses are for naught, Damon lost initiative and was still able to easily put himself in perfect position. The Agamemnon fires into the stern of the Oriskany and Valley Forge, doing tremendous damage against both ships’ engines and reactors. Note: if they lose power HERE, they are DEAD. Commander’s Luck, nothing saves you from being pulled down to the crushing incineration thousands of kilometers deep in a gas giant’s blistering ocean of hyper-pressurized liquid hydrogen. The American aerospace strike slams into the stern of the Agamemnon, crippling her, but her far wiser commander has her on a trajectory and velocity where she will drift off the table and be rescued after the battle. The Retribution and Sheffield now fire as well . . . The Oriskany winds up taking 5 boxes of “critical” damage. Destroyers are crippled on a d6 roll of 7+, from which you subtract the number of crits. She’s now at a 2+ to die. At the end of the turn, I get to roll 2d6 to repair internal damage (Resolute Crew upgrade). I get lucky and score two successes, so I repair two critical engine boxes and now Oriskany is at 7-3=4+ to die. I ask Damon of he’s willing to let me out of this roll if I break off the Oriskany and Valley Forge (in an assault game, this gives him the same number of victory points, I just get to keep my favorite ship for future games). Damon agrees, but only if the Americans break off ENTIRELY and also sign a peace treaty with the British. Desperate not to lose the “Lady O” forever, I reluctantly agree. Unfortunately for me, we roll the dice anyway just to see what would happen and Damon rolls a “1” – Oriskany would have survived anyway.
Well, that was a f***ed game, mostly through my own stupidity.  The Americans honor their word, pulling out of the battle entirely.  Leaving CPK Lazarev on her own.  With Retribution and Sheffield still operational, the British thus score a minor victory.  The Russians have lost their holdings in Kayashenko and the UN Redemption Mandate.  Interestingly, the crippled CPK Syekyra misses her post-battle recovery check, her Commander’s Luck point, and Lazarev’s commander’s luck point as well.  It takes one of Oriskany’s luck points to save her from the decaying orbit, meaning the “Lady O,” as bad off as she was, took the Russian destroyer under tow and saved her from oblivion.  At least she managed to do SOMETHING right.Well, that was a f***ed game, mostly through my own stupidity. The Americans honor their word, pulling out of the battle entirely. Leaving CPK Lazarev on her own. With Retribution and Sheffield still operational, the British thus score a minor victory. The Russians have lost their holdings in Kayashenko and the UN Redemption Mandate. Interestingly, the crippled CPK Syekyra misses her post-battle recovery check, her Commander’s Luck point, and Lazarev’s commander’s luck point as well. It takes one of Oriskany’s luck points to save her from the decaying orbit, meaning the “Lady O,” as bad off as she was, took the Russian destroyer under tow and saved her from oblivion. At least she managed to do SOMETHING right.

So where does this leave the Americans, the British, and the Third Hercules War in general?  Well, it’s complicated.

First up, the US and UK sign the Treaty of Zubrin, with the stipulations below:

  • The Americans agree to cease any and all combat operations against the United Kingdom throughout the Hercules Rim.
  • The Americans agree to a “mutual assistance” clause if British holdings in Hawking’s Star, Outer Hebrides, or Redemption (99 Hercules) are attacked.
  • Yes, this includes if the Holy Russian Empire, Republic of India, or Corporate Consortium attacks these holdings. The Americans will be obligated by treaty to help defend British possessions against their former “allies.”
  • The British agree to grant the Americans a 50-year lease on the Lost Dutchman, a British outer ring planet in 99 Hercules. This allows the Americans to save no small degree of face, “winning” the shipping route through the Hercules Rim which was their casus belli in the first place.
  • The price of this lease is very high, the “overcharge” is quietly recognized as war reparations for damage done to British facilities in Outer Hebrides and Hawking’s Star.
  • The Americans agree to pay tariffs (very, very steep tariffs) for shipping through Lost Dutchman / 99 Hercules.
  • At the end of that 50-year lease, the British retain the right to reclaim operation of the Lost Dutchman, complete with improvements / facilities the Americans made in that time.
  • American war conditions with the Japanese and Arab League remain in effect, neither Japan or the Arab League were a party to these concessions and they are not happy with the outcome of this “separate peace.”
  • Americans are not allowed to cooperate with the Russians, Indians, or Consortium against the British in any way.
  • In fact, Americans may well wind up fighting AGAINST the Russians, Indians, or Consortium if they attack a British star system.

In game terms, the Americans are AT PEACE with the British and their “campaign threshold” is reduced from a 10 to a 5.  In a weird way, they are almost neutral, fighting on both sides of this war although only in a limited fashion.  Along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim, they remain at war with the Japanese and Arab League.  Along the spinward shoulder, they will probably wind up fighting on the side of the British if anyone attacks a recognized British possession.

Those five American missing campaign commitment points will be taken up by a new faction joining the Coalition of Eagles (although only at a campaign commitment level of “5”).

This new faction is … from their Catania colonies in the Gliese 623 binary red dwarf star system … the NEW ROMAN ALLIANCE (primarily Italians, Spanish, and French).

This is all pretty confusing, but the chart below has been updated to show the complete updated geopolitical situation along the Hercules Rim going forward into 2522.  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Note some other nations’ “Commitment Threshold” numbers have been slightly tweaked so both coalitions remain at 23.  This is the number, positive or negative, that a nation reaches before leaving the war either as winners or losers.  The YELLOW number is their actual score at present, and shows how close to their political commitment threshold that faction actually is.  So the New Roman Alliance is brand new to the war (score 0), but their archbishops aren’t THAT keen on a bloodbath, they will leave the war when their score hits +/-5.  The Russians are more committed with an 8, but they’re already at -4 with a string of recent defeats.  So one more solid loss and they might cut a deal as well.  The British, having won against the Americans, have reduced their “hawkish” war commitment from an 10 to an 8, but they’re at +3 after recent victories, so five more points of victory gives them a complete win for Hercules Rim.  The Japanese are also “cooled down” from a 10 to an 8, probably because they no longer 100% trust their British allies.  Closest to an outright win are the Arab League, just three points shy.  Note some other nations’ “Commitment Threshold” numbers have been slightly tweaked so both coalitions remain at 23. This is the number, positive or negative, that a nation reaches before leaving the war either as winners or losers. The YELLOW number is their actual score at present, and shows how close to their political commitment threshold that faction actually is. So the New Roman Alliance is brand new to the war (score 0), but their archbishops aren’t THAT keen on a bloodbath, they will leave the war when their score hits +/-5. The Russians are more committed with an 8, but they’re already at -4 with a string of recent defeats. So one more solid loss and they might cut a deal as well. The British, having won against the Americans, have reduced their “hawkish” war commitment from an 10 to an 8, but they’re at +3 after recent victories, so five more points of victory gives them a complete win for Hercules Rim. The Japanese are also “cooled down” from a 10 to an 8, probably because they no longer 100% trust their British allies. Closest to an outright win are the Arab League, just three points shy.

Two Catch-up Battle Reports - Kayashenko 14 and Shindo 919

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
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Okay, everyone.  I have a lot of catching up to do here to bring the Third Hercules War Community Campaign up to date.

A lot has happened since the last battle report, and these battle reports frankly take too long to do, so I’ll be quickly buzzing through four missing games / battles here to complete the recent campaign timeline.

I’m only doing this now because, as you’ll see, the combined effects of these battles have triggered some major shifts in the Third Hercules War, shifts which directly impact the national strategic standing of several player factions.  These players need to know exactly what’s happening in the Third Hercules War.

So first I have a battle between the Russians and the Arab League in August, 2521 (Darkstar Web Game 42).  This actually took place BEFORE the most recently posted battle report (Darkstar Web Game 43 – Holy Russian Empire v. Royal Navy at Uxbridge, Outer Hebrides / Mu Hercules system).  Once that is presented, we’ll skip past Uxbridge and move to Game 44, US Navy and India against the Japanese at Shindo 919.

There will be more to come after this.  When I am fully caught up we’ll see where we stand, what factions are still in, what factions are out, what separate peace treaties have been signed, and whether Third Hercules War is in fact continuing.

But for now . . .

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FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
21:55 SOL GMT, 21 AUGUST 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

RUSSIAN COUNTER-RAID ON KAYASHENKO 14 (99 Hercules)

Yet again, the Americans and Russians seem to be checked against the British in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules) system.  Despite recent American victories at the McClusky-Ramirez gas giant (Alpha Lyra system) and the HH779 comet in the Outer Hebrides, a bloody British victory against the “Three Princesses” cruiser squadron has frustrated Russian plans to cash in on American momentum in the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim.  Not only has this allowed the British to yet again step back from the brink of defeat in the Third Hercules War, but also further strained relations between the American and Russian “allies” of the Coalition of Eagles.

Perhaps to show the Americans something of a cold shoulder, the Russians have resolved to “redress their own problems” rather than “help win the Yankees’ war” against the British in the Outer Hebrides.  Withdrawing from the spinward sector of the Hercules Rim, they instead launch a strike against the Arab League foothold recently gained among the moons of the Russians’ own Kayashenko gas giant.  The largest planet in the “Redemption” UN Mandate  in the 99 Hercules system, Kayashenko has at least 60 charted moons, and an Arab League battlegroup lurking among them simply won’t do.

Indeed, several Russian admirals have already contacted friends, both in Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope, 72 Hercules) and Imperial Naval Command in St. Petersburg, demanding to know why Russian cruisers are hammering themselves to ruin to gain an American victory at the Outer Hebrides when an enemy power in fact after has a foothold in Russian space among the moons of Kayashenko.

As for the Arab League, the al-Mutamid battlegroup has hardly paid for their foothold at Kayashenko 14 to give it up to a Russian cruiser raid.  While their fleet lacks the strength to mount a “stand or die” defense of the frozen little moon, Captain Rashid al-Magrebi’s orders are to damage the incoming Russian force as badly as possible, mounting a counterstrike to ensure their sortie against Kayashenko 14 does not become a permanent reoccupation.

HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE: @Oriskany
ARAB LEAGUE: @Muakhah
RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (214 points)

The Russians are tired of being bogged down in the grinding (and ultimately fruitless) battles against the British in spinward systems like Mu Hercules and HR6806.  With Arab League battlegroups roving in their own coreward backyard, and having outright taken a moon of their Kayashenko gas giant in the 99 Hercules system, the Russians have resolved to get their own affairs sorted, and eject the League from Kayashenko 14.  The Russians are tired of being bogged down in the grinding (and ultimately fruitless) battles against the British in spinward systems like Mu Hercules and HR6806. With Arab League battlegroups roving in their own coreward backyard, and having outright taken a moon of their Kayashenko gas giant in the 99 Hercules system, the Russians have resolved to get their own affairs sorted, and eject the League from Kayashenko 14.
Right off the bat, the Russians set a very high approach speed, trying to set up a mass salvo of their P-500 torpedoes, combined with an aerospace strike of Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers.  The League, for their part, keeps their distance, hoping to make the best of their more accurate gunnery, faster and longer-ranged torpedoes, and cover of that planetary rubble field beneath them for protection from Russian massed torpedoes, rail guns, and plasma projectors. Right off the bat, the Russians set a very high approach speed, trying to set up a mass salvo of their P-500 torpedoes, combined with an aerospace strike of Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters and Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers. The League, for their part, keeps their distance, hoping to make the best of their more accurate gunnery, faster and longer-ranged torpedoes, and cover of that planetary rubble field beneath them for protection from Russian massed torpedoes, rail guns, and plasma projectors.
The range closes to just over 3200 kilometers.  The League battlegroup has launched its combined aerospace wing (Mutamid is a “hybrid” carrier / light cruiser and Abu Bashir is a full-on light carrier).  The Russians have also launched, their smaller wing having an edge in experience, and forming up with a phalanx of P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) torpedoes. The range closes to just over 3200 kilometers. The League battlegroup has launched its combined aerospace wing (Mutamid is a “hybrid” carrier / light cruiser and Abu Bashir is a full-on light carrier). The Russians have also launched, their smaller wing having an edge in experience, and forming up with a phalanx of P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) torpedoes.
Caution starts to pay off for Captain al-Magrebi.  His ships are now snaking dangerous courses amongst the asteroids and planetary mining rubble, using them as partial cover against Russian EPCs and rail guns off the light cruisers Kravachenko and St. Basilov (an old Konstantin class).  Their own return fire, meanwhile, inflicts heavy damage against the Kravachenko.  Al-Magrebi’s aerospace strategy also pays off when his aerospace strike lands first, the slower Russian strike outranged ... at least for now.  But any Russian whip that loses power here will also have its torpedoes “go dark,” thus thinning out that wave of P-500s before it can hit next turn.  This is what happens to the Kravachenko, the Kutusov-class light cruiser losing power as Arab League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers and “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters put enough torpedoes and missiles into her stern to explode her portside engine and power down her starboard engines.  The CPK Kravechenko is blown out of the battle, but al-Magrebi is still in real danger of a collision if he’s not deathly careful.Caution starts to pay off for Captain al-Magrebi. His ships are now snaking dangerous courses amongst the asteroids and planetary mining rubble, using them as partial cover against Russian EPCs and rail guns off the light cruisers Kravachenko and St. Basilov (an old Konstantin class). Their own return fire, meanwhile, inflicts heavy damage against the Kravachenko. Al-Magrebi’s aerospace strategy also pays off when his aerospace strike lands first, the slower Russian strike outranged ... at least for now. But any Russian whip that loses power here will also have its torpedoes “go dark,” thus thinning out that wave of P-500s before it can hit next turn. This is what happens to the Kravachenko, the Kutusov-class light cruiser losing power as Arab League “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers and “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters put enough torpedoes and missiles into her stern to explode her portside engine and power down her starboard engines. The CPK Kravechenko is blown out of the battle, but al-Magrebi is still in real danger of a collision if he’s not deathly careful.
The final result.  With the Kravachenko crippled, the Russian aerospace and torpedo strike is badly weakened.  Al-Magrebi has also made expert use of those asteroids to shield the engines of some of his ships from Russian ordinance, forcing them to attack port and starboard quarters instead.  As it stands, only one of the League Basra-class destroyers is forced to break off (not even crippled) – leaving the League with a clear win here at Kayashenko 14.  The League’s foothold around this Russian gas giant is thus secure ... for now.  IN fact this was damned near a MAJOR League victory (double campaign points if a battle is won by a margin of 40% or more, Muakhah scored +33%.  Needless to say, the Russians have suffered another bloody nose in the Third Hercules War.  For his part, Captain Rashid al-Magrebi has fought a careful, measured, and patient battle, and comes damned close to a MAJOR victory for his caliphate.  “Major” victories are actually quite rare in Darkstar, I wouldn’t be surprised if al-Magrebi is decorated for this success, or at least vindicated for earlier frustrations.The final result. With the Kravachenko crippled, the Russian aerospace and torpedo strike is badly weakened. Al-Magrebi has also made expert use of those asteroids to shield the engines of some of his ships from Russian ordinance, forcing them to attack port and starboard quarters instead. As it stands, only one of the League Basra-class destroyers is forced to break off (not even crippled) – leaving the League with a clear win here at Kayashenko 14. The League’s foothold around this Russian gas giant is thus secure ... for now. IN fact this was damned near a MAJOR League victory (double campaign points if a battle is won by a margin of 40% or more, Muakhah scored +33%. Needless to say, the Russians have suffered another bloody nose in the Third Hercules War. For his part, Captain Rashid al-Magrebi has fought a careful, measured, and patient battle, and comes damned close to a MAJOR victory for his caliphate. “Major” victories are actually quite rare in Darkstar, I wouldn’t be surprised if al-Magrebi is decorated for this success, or at least vindicated for earlier frustrations.

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
16:30 SOL GMT, 05 OCTOBER 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

US / INDIA RAID ON SHINDO 919 (Kyokko Bijin / Zeta Hercules)

Frustration among the American commanders at Port Halsey (Virgo / Alpha Lyra system) is running high.  Aboard her flagship, the Gettysburg class heavy cruiser USS Shiloh, Rear-Admiral Virginia Saunders knows that the Russian defeat at Uxbridge (Mu Hercules system) has allowed the Royal Navy to regain its balance . . . yet again.  “I would say these Brits are cats with nine lives,” she snarks in a rare wardroom press conference.  “Except they used more than nine lives some time ago.”

While resources are gathered for a renewed strike against the re-fortified British, the Americans are determined not to let the Renkei Alliance completely regain their footing (or for morale to drop too low among their own crews).  While a direct strike against Mu Hercules is off the table for at least 45 days, a smaller raid can be launched against their Japanese allies in the Zeta Hercules system.  This is especially true once American admirals and State Department diplomats exert sufficient pressure on their Indian Republic allies to step up their involvement in the war.

First to arrive is the Maharina class heavy cruiser INS Basukhalji.  Once Rear-Admiral Saunders has this ship at her disposal, orders for the Zeta Hercules strike are immediate.  Escorted by the USS Princeton and the Marine Corps strike carrier USS Tarawa, this combined battlegroup will smash into the Japanese Kyokko Bijin (Sunrise Beauty) colony at Zeta Hercules.   If nothing else, renewed Indian participation in this war will demonstrate fortified unity among the faltering Coalition of Eagles, keep the Japanese from reinforcing the British at Outer Hebrides, and warn the Russians to step back in line with the “Stars and Stripes” winning a victory along the coreward sector of the Hercules Rim.

As for the Japanese, Captain Seizo Yamamoto’s Kama task force detects the incoming strike with plenty of time to deploy against it.  The Basukhalji is hardly a petite lady, and the magnitude of the Darkstar wave required for a “fast” 20-light-year jump is hard to miss.  Also note that the trajectory of this jump between Port Halsey and Kyokko Bijin takes the Indo-American force right past the British holdings at Mu Hercules.  A Griffon-class patrol boat is dispatched in a 12th-magnitutde wave to arrive at Zeta Hercules a full 39 hours ahead of the Indo-American force, providing Yamamoto with still more warning.

Accordingly, the Japanese are able to meet the enemy far out along Kyokko Bijin’s outer debris (Kuiper) belt, the two forces colliding near a desolate proto-comet known only as Shindo 919.

JAPAN: @Rasmus
INDIA / UNITED STATES: @Oriskany
RAID VICTORY CONDITIONS (287 points)

 

This map is actually a little off, what SHOULD be portrayed is an Indo-American strike zooming out of Port Halsey in the Alpha Lyra (Vega) system.  Note how it has to pass RIGHT BY the British at Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules).  Yes, “right by” is a relative term here, remember the SCALE of this map. But superluminal gravimetric (Darkstar) waves of a passing heavy cruiser are enough to set off sensors, and the British can get a fast courier ship to Zeta Hercules with the warning BEFORE the Indians and Americans arrive. This map is actually a little off, what SHOULD be portrayed is an Indo-American strike zooming out of Port Halsey in the Alpha Lyra (Vega) system. Note how it has to pass RIGHT BY the British at Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules). Yes, “right by” is a relative term here, remember the SCALE of this map. But superluminal gravimetric (Darkstar) waves of a passing heavy cruiser are enough to set off sensors, and the British can get a fast courier ship to Zeta Hercules with the warning BEFORE the Indians and Americans arrive.
Here are in the frigid abyss of the Zeta Hercules outer debris (“Kuiper”) belt.  The Japanese are mounting a fast but oblique approach.  The Americans are happy to oblige, the Tarawa and Princeton easily winning initiative and pointing their bows at the Japanese ships at an angle to allow ALL their torpedoes to come to bear and staying out of the Kama’s withering broadside (nine enormous 18-teravolt electron particle cannons, or EPCs).   The Basukhalji threads a dangerous course between the primary bulk of Shindo 919 and some of its orbiting asteroids, hoping to work around to a broadside on the Kama’s stern or port quarter in future turns.  For now the Basukhalji takes the worst of Kama’s wrath, while the Indo-Americans try to take the strike frigate IJN Sakito out of the battle for an early advantage.Here are in the frigid abyss of the Zeta Hercules outer debris (“Kuiper”) belt. The Japanese are mounting a fast but oblique approach. The Americans are happy to oblige, the Tarawa and Princeton easily winning initiative and pointing their bows at the Japanese ships at an angle to allow ALL their torpedoes to come to bear and staying out of the Kama’s withering broadside (nine enormous 18-teravolt electron particle cannons, or EPCs). The Basukhalji threads a dangerous course between the primary bulk of Shindo 919 and some of its orbiting asteroids, hoping to work around to a broadside on the Kama’s stern or port quarter in future turns. For now the Basukhalji takes the worst of Kama’s wrath, while the Indo-Americans try to take the strike frigate IJN Sakito out of the battle for an early advantage.
The Japanese abruptly break formation, their two strike frigates (Sakito and Urakaze) charging straight at the Americans and Indians while Sendai Byo and Kama sidestep to starboard to keep an open broadside range.  The Basukhalji trades broadsides with the Kama, actually mauling her port bow very badly, while the Princeton again hammers the hapless Sakito.  Perhaps one mistake the Americans make here is concentrating their torpedo and aerospace strike (Marine Corps strike squadron VMF/A-319 - the “Tigersharks”) against the Sendai Byo.  The Japanese abruptly break formation, their two strike frigates (Sakito and Urakaze) charging straight at the Americans and Indians while Sendai Byo and Kama sidestep to starboard to keep an open broadside range. The Basukhalji trades broadsides with the Kama, actually mauling her port bow very badly, while the Princeton again hammers the hapless Sakito. Perhaps one mistake the Americans make here is concentrating their torpedo and aerospace strike (Marine Corps strike squadron VMF/A-319 - the “Tigersharks”) against the Sendai Byo.
Turn three, and the Skirmish at Shindo 919 turns into a brawling dogfight.  Kama rumbles up, rolling on her back to protect her ravaged port bow.  The Basukhalji sees the move coming, and cuts point-blank for a broadside across her stern.  Unfortunately, the swift Sendai Byo likewise cuts for a broadside right into the Basukhalji’s damaged port bow (in the same hex, less than 100 kilometers away).  Kama’s forward guns hammer the USS Tarawa, which has just landed Marine bombers to rearm for a second strike.  Kama’s aft guns tear into Basukhalji’s port quarter.  Basukhalji’s broadside erupts into Kama’s stern, detonating at least one engine and forcing the engineer to power down portside reactors, but with starboard reactors she manages to maintain power.  Unfortunately for the Basukhalji, the Sendai Byo puts her own broadside into Basukhalji’s port bow, previously mauled from broadside exchanges with the Kama.  A slash of x-ray laser carves through the bridge, crippling this ship as well.  The Princeton finally manages to cripple the Sakito, while the Marines of VMF/A-319 mount a gunnery strafing attack that soon has the strike frigate Urakaze in trouble as well.Turn three, and the Skirmish at Shindo 919 turns into a brawling dogfight. Kama rumbles up, rolling on her back to protect her ravaged port bow. The Basukhalji sees the move coming, and cuts point-blank for a broadside across her stern. Unfortunately, the swift Sendai Byo likewise cuts for a broadside right into the Basukhalji’s damaged port bow (in the same hex, less than 100 kilometers away). Kama’s forward guns hammer the USS Tarawa, which has just landed Marine bombers to rearm for a second strike. Kama’s aft guns tear into Basukhalji’s port quarter. Basukhalji’s broadside erupts into Kama’s stern, detonating at least one engine and forcing the engineer to power down portside reactors, but with starboard reactors she manages to maintain power. Unfortunately for the Basukhalji, the Sendai Byo puts her own broadside into Basukhalji’s port bow, previously mauled from broadside exchanges with the Kama. A slash of x-ray laser carves through the bridge, crippling this ship as well. The Princeton finally manages to cripple the Sakito, while the Marines of VMF/A-319 mount a gunnery strafing attack that soon has the strike frigate Urakaze in trouble as well.
Okay, at the moment, the Americans are losing ... hard.  But there is a ray of hope that the USS Princeton can steal back a draw.  If she and those Marine fighters can CRIPPLE the Kama (already brutally mauled astern, she’s trailing three kilometers of molten metal and a flaming sheet of escaping atmosphere), AND the Princeton can survive Kama’s return fire, the Americans actually WIN by 2 points (you have to win a Darkstar game by 5%, so this margin is too narrow, it would be called a draw).  The Kama maneuvers, the Princeton cuts in behind her.  I don’t have the thrust to put a broadside across Kama’s stern at this speed, so I’ll have to do this with forward guns only.  American torpedoes are shot down, the fighters go in and do damage, Princeton’s forward guns GET THE JOB DONE, Kama is crippled.  Kama’s aft batteries and Sendai’s forward batteries (God, that ship is fast for her size) pound on the Princeton, tearing one laser mount clean out of the hull, setting the forward magazine afire, even damaging the bridge.  But the Princeton should still be okay, Rasmus has only hit one critical box of internal structure, so as long as he doesn’t roll a 6 on a d6, Princeton survives and I squeak out a draw.  But Rasmus rolls a 6.  Now Princeton is crippled as well as the Japanese maintain a minor victory at Shindo 919.  Okay, at the moment, the Americans are losing ... hard. But there is a ray of hope that the USS Princeton can steal back a draw. If she and those Marine fighters can CRIPPLE the Kama (already brutally mauled astern, she’s trailing three kilometers of molten metal and a flaming sheet of escaping atmosphere), AND the Princeton can survive Kama’s return fire, the Americans actually WIN by 2 points (you have to win a Darkstar game by 5%, so this margin is too narrow, it would be called a draw). The Kama maneuvers, the Princeton cuts in behind her. I don’t have the thrust to put a broadside across Kama’s stern at this speed, so I’ll have to do this with forward guns only. American torpedoes are shot down, the fighters go in and do damage, Princeton’s forward guns GET THE JOB DONE, Kama is crippled. Kama’s aft batteries and Sendai’s forward batteries (God, that ship is fast for her size) pound on the Princeton, tearing one laser mount clean out of the hull, setting the forward magazine afire, even damaging the bridge. But the Princeton should still be okay, Rasmus has only hit one critical box of internal structure, so as long as he doesn’t roll a 6 on a d6, Princeton survives and I squeak out a draw. But Rasmus rolls a 6. Now Princeton is crippled as well as the Japanese maintain a minor victory at Shindo 919.

New Indian Heavy Cruiser, Battleship, Upgraded US Destroyer

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
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There have been some major updates to the Third Hercules War … in fact some parts of it may be over.  So I have some serious updates to make here.  I’ll be catching up over the next day or so, but for now …

Here are new Indian Republic Navy warships – heavy duty classes they’ve never had before – a battleship and a heavy cruiser.  It’s time for them to step up and really start carrying more of their share in this war, and they’ll need the ships to do it.

Valcour Class Destroyer (FRAM-I Upgrade) United States Navy

New Indian Heavy Cruiser, Battleship, Upgraded US Destroyer

The Valcour class destroyers of the United States Navy (covered earlier in this reference) entered service in 2498 and were named for small engagements of the American Revolution.  Although never remarkable, the class was considered by many naval experts as some of most solid and reliable all-around destroyers in Known Space.  The class was also made famous by the exploits of some of its more veteran ships (notably, USS Oriskany), and by the design’s modular construction – making it easy to repair and upgrade – even at modest orbital facilities far from major naval support infrastructure.

In the early 2520s, the US Navy decided to initiate the “FRAM-I” program (Fleet Refit and Modernization, Phase One), starting with the workhorse units of the Valcour class.  Again, the design was well-known for its ease of modular replacement, repair, and upgrade, so these ships seemed a natural choice for a stem-to-stern rebuild.  If FRAM-I worked with these select warships, the Navy could then decide whether to expand the program to the rest of the fleet.

Four Valcour class destroyers were chosen for this experiment.  The first was USS Oriskany, most famous of the class.  Veteran of the 19 Draconis, IK Pegasi, Andromeda Arc, Xi Scorpio, Scorpion’s Tail, and Third Hercules Wars, she stood as arguably one of the most celebrated warships in the 26th Century Navy.  These upgrades were undertaken from 2521-2522 at Port Halsey in the Vega (Alpha Lyra) system, starting with a complete rebuild of the power plant.  New General Electric “StarCore 5600-A” reactors and Todd Shipbuilding “Quasar Mk 21.1” ion drives produce at least 10% more power than the old Mk 16s at the same weight and crew complement.  While this might not sound like much of an improvement, because most ship’s systems remain the same (maneuvering, SLD, transluminal drive, life support), it almost doubles the amount of power available to tactical systems.

While hardly a “quantum leap,” the Valcour FRAM-I refit shows undeniable expansion of protection, fire control, and weapons.  Electronic countermeasures and gravitic shielding are increased along all aft quarters, providing up to 25% additional protection over engines and reactors at typical engagement ranges.  For point-defense, the old 40mm and 20mm chain mass drivers have been replaced with newer, faster-firing 25mm rotary “Bushmaster” mounts.  These provide a slight increase in mass driver protection, while actually as a significant savings in mass and power draw.

While the main battery of 5-gigawatt rail guns (three double turrets) remain in place, along with the two triple-tube arrays of the Mark 48 gravitic torpedo, all weapons are guided by the new Hughes / General Dynamics SPQ-1010 sensor suite, providing significant improvement in accuracy of fire control and suppression of enemy electronic warfare.

Perhaps the most noticeable external change is the removal of the 6-megakelvin laser emitters foreward and aft.  These have been replaced by new McDonnell-Douglas X-Star 221 gravitic-lensed x-ray emitters.  Burning well in to the 75-exohertz frequency range at over 10 gw of power, they can hit like some cruiser-sized guns under the right conditions.

The Oriskany had something of a difficult refit, as she was the first ship to undergo the process and the ship had already been heavily modified and upgraded by her crew.  When she finally emerged from pressure dock in early 2522, however, she was probably one of the most formidable single destroyers in Known Space.  Quick to follow were her sisterships USS Valcour, Ranger, and Kaskaskia.

Only time will tell whether the FRAM-I experiment is considered a success.  Just undertaking the refit has shown to cost the US Navy almost the equivalent of new Shepard class frigate, and combined with the original expense of the ship, a FRAM-I Valcour represents a cost equal to some light cruisers.  But after twenty years of service, at least the US Navy is getting twenty more years of service out of these celebrated “tin cans.”  If the next twenty years prove as successful as the last, the investment will prove worth every penny.

Here's the USS Oriskany, with her FRAM-I upgrades combined with her campaign upgrades.  In game / campaign terms, I simply promoted Captain Matthew Spencer into a FRAM-I destroyer instead of a light cruiser, and paid the appropriate campaign points.Here's the USS Oriskany, with her FRAM-I upgrades combined with her campaign upgrades. In game / campaign terms, I simply promoted Captain Matthew Spencer into a FRAM-I destroyer instead of a light cruiser, and paid the appropriate campaign points.

Maharani Class Heavy Cruiser - Indian Republic Navy

New Indian Heavy Cruiser, Battleship, Upgraded US Destroyer

The Maharani class heavy cruiser continues the Indian Republic Navy’s traditions of advanced design, startling beauty, and a long-ranged, highly-accurate focused beam weapons suite.  Originally slated for construction in 2505, the class had something of a troubled inception, as designs were altered repeatedly to incorporate the new “Bhala Saat” GX-7 x-ray emitters.  These were meant to replace the traditional heavy laser batteries at the core of the original design, which were proving troublesome with the Maharani’s powerplant.  Also, there were doubts about the original laser armament’s ability to cope with larger enemy warships like battleships or other heavy cruisers.   Unfortunately, switching to the new “syglex” (synchronized, gravitic-lensed x-ray) technology mid-design forced significant delays with the commissioning of the first ships of the class, during which time older Magadha and smaller Sharada class cruisers had to carry the Indian Republic Navy.

Once the Maharanis finally started coming on-line, however, they made an immediate impact against Russian, Japanese, Arab League, and Panasian opponents in a series of incidents, skirmishes, and small wars across Known Space.  They are light for heavy cruisers, less than 127,000 tons, but the immense power draws of their beam-based weapons suite mean their acceleration curves and maneuver envelope remain comparable to other classes of heavy cruiser.  The weapons are long ranged and deadly-accurate,  but some analysts feel that the lack of particle weapons, rail guns, or torpedoes make the Maharani class something of a lightweight against cruisers like the Slava, Leopold, Iron Duke, or Gettysburg class.  Critics also point to the mixed batteries of 75-exohertz x-ray emitters and 8-megakelvin lasers, an indecisive design choice and proof that the Indian Navy still can’t fully break with its traditional laser-based weapons arrays.  As one American analyst said: “She’s pretty, precise, and accurate … but wants to fight with scalpels against opponents arms with chainsaws.”

Yet early combat experience shows that what the Maharani class lacks in “chainsaws,” she makes up for with blowtorches.  Those syglex emitters out-punch the heavier rail guns of many rival classes of heavy cruiser, even if they come at the cost of a smaller secondary battery and a complete lack of torpedoes.   Typically, a Maharani commander will try to engage larger targets with the syglex emitters, reserving the secondary lasers for smaller warships or to drill into enemy armor already damaged by the syglex emitters, all while staying at range to avoid close-range threats like rail guns or plasma accelerators.

The Maharani class heavy cruisers are named for queens and princesses of Indian nobility during the colonial Raj, terrestrial republic, and interstellar periods.

Kali Class Battleship - Indian Republic Navy

Like many battleships, the Kali class is as much a national statement as a naval warship.  Named for some of the greatest Hindu deities, these dreadnaughts are huge, sleek, deadly, and as is typical for ships of the Indian Republic, peculiarly beautiful.  Yet beyond their role as “simple” naval assets, the Kali class battleship also proclaims a simple immutable truth.  India is no longer anyone’s “raj”, no longer a vassal state, no longer a jewel in anyone’s imperial crown.  Her navy stands as an equal not only to any of the new “black water” navies like the Arab League, Imperial Prussia, the Holy Russian Empire, or the New Roman Alliance, but also the traditional maritime powerhouses like the United States, Japan, or the United Kingdom.  Tipping the scales at just under 340,000 tons, the Kali class is actually quite light for a battleship.  This is typical for the Indian Navy, given their exclusive preference for focus-beam weapons suites rather than “crude” weapons like rail guns, plasma accelerators, or particle weapons.  These weapons draw tremendous power, however, leaving the Kali with average sublight maneuverability and transluminal speeds.  Protection is also somewhat standard, with enhanced shielding only directly over the huge  Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders MDT-19 “Taaron-Ka” (Starlight) engines and reactors.  Point-defense systems are also solid, if average for a warships of this size.Like many battleships, the Kali class is as much a national statement as a naval warship. Named for some of the greatest Hindu deities, these dreadnaughts are huge, sleek, deadly, and as is typical for ships of the Indian Republic, peculiarly beautiful. Yet beyond their role as “simple” naval assets, the Kali class battleship also proclaims a simple immutable truth. India is no longer anyone’s “raj”, no longer a vassal state, no longer a jewel in anyone’s imperial crown. Her navy stands as an equal not only to any of the new “black water” navies like the Arab League, Imperial Prussia, the Holy Russian Empire, or the New Roman Alliance, but also the traditional maritime powerhouses like the United States, Japan, or the United Kingdom. Tipping the scales at just under 340,000 tons, the Kali class is actually quite light for a battleship. This is typical for the Indian Navy, given their exclusive preference for focus-beam weapons suites rather than “crude” weapons like rail guns, plasma accelerators, or particle weapons. These weapons draw tremendous power, however, leaving the Kali with average sublight maneuverability and transluminal speeds. Protection is also somewhat standard, with enhanced shielding only directly over the huge Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders MDT-19 “Taaron-Ka” (Starlight) engines and reactors. Point-defense systems are also solid, if average for a warships of this size.
New Indian Heavy Cruiser, Battleship, Upgraded US Destroyer

Like many battleships, the Kali class is as much a national statement as a naval warship.  Named for some of the greatest Hindu deities, these dreadnaughts are huge, sleek, deadly, and as is typical for ships of the Indian Republic, peculiarly beautiful.  Yet beyond their role as “simple” naval assets, the Kali class battleship also proclaims a simple immutable truth.  India is no longer anyone’s “raj”, no longer a vassal state, no longer a jewel in anyone’s imperial crown.  Her navy stands as an equal not only to any of the new “black water” navies like the Arab League, Imperial Prussia, the Holy Russian Empire, or the New Roman Alliance, but also the traditional maritime powerhouses like the United States, Japan, or the United Kingdom.

Tipping the scales at just under 340,000 tons, the Kali class is actually quite light for a battleship.  This is typical for the Indian Navy, given their exclusive preference for focus-beam weapons suites rather than “crude” weapons like rail guns, plasma accelerators, or particle weapons.  These weapons draw tremendous power, however, leaving the Kali with average sublight maneuverability and transluminal speeds.  Protection is also somewhat standard, with enhanced shielding only directly over the huge  Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders MDT-19 “Taaron-Ka” (Starlight) engines and reactors.  Point-defense systems are also solid, if average for a warships of this size.

Where the Kali excels, however, is in her lethality.  One of the more dangerous battleship designs in Known Space, she pack a horrific, three-tiered array of long-ranged beam weapons.  First, three massive triple turrets of gravitically-lensed coherent x-ray (“syglex” or “xaser”) emitters can strip the armor off an entire enemy battleship or installation at ranges out to 3000 kilometers with single broadside, at closer ranges with one or two hits.  Yet these weapons are actually unwieldy against smaller targets, where the massive secondary battery 12-megakelvin lasers (some of the largest such weapons in Known Space) and the tertiary batteries of 6-megakelvin lasers come in, packing enough firepower to core a light cruiser.  At twelve guns each, these secondary and tertiary batteries alone match the firepower of most heavy cruisers at medium ranges.  As if these sheer firepower were not enough, this whole weapons suite is slaved to the Bharat Electronics “Tryambakam” (Third Eye) targeting acquisition and fire control suite, making these weapons deadly accurate.

Engagements with a Kali class should be undertaken with extreme care.  Most enemy battleships and heavy cruisers would be advised to close as quickly as possible since the Kali will enjoy a range advantage against most comparable weapons batteries.  Once close in, many of the Kali’s superior attributes begin to fade against the class’ shortfalls, namely their somewhat underwhelming defense systems.

Russian Heavy Cruiser Strike v. British Defense, Uxbridge Colony / Mu Hercules

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FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
04:10 SOL GMT, 19 SEPTEMBER 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

With recent defeats at the McClusky-Ramirez gas giant (Alpha Lyra system) and the HH779 comet in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules), the British Empire has again been brought to the brink of defeat in the Third Hercules War. American planetary assault ships are now lurking in the Oort Cloud and outer debris discs of the Mu Hercules system, ready to land battalions of US Marines on British colonies and run up the stars and stripes, while bristling cruiser squadrons of the Holy Russian Empire are making fast Darkstar approaches from the coreward system of Krasnaya Nadhezda (72 Hercules). This is effectively putting the Outer Hebrides colonies in a pincer, with British resources … and time … rapidly running out.

All is not well in the “winning camp,” however. Relations between the Russian and American “allies” of the so-called Coalition of Eagles have reached an ominous chill. Russian naval units seem to always be present for coalition victories, while the burden of defeats are left for the Americans alone to bear. This has resulted in the Holy Russian Empire stacking up as much political capital at the UN negotiating table as the United States, while the Americans are left paying the vast majority of the cost, in naval assets, money, and of course blood. Making matters worse, the naval battlegroups of their Indian Republic allies haven’t shown up much at all.

This has resulted in something of a breakdown of communication and liaison between the American naval command at Port Halsey (Alpha Lyra system) and the Russian Admiralty at Krasnaya Nadhezda (Red Hope, 72 Hercules). Neither of these “allies” much trusts each other, each convinced that the other is trying to “steal” the victor’s spoils from Britain’s inevitable defeat.

Perhaps it was inevitable, therefore, that one side or the other would launch a quick strike at the British first, without consultation or coordination with their allies, in the hopes of scoring the “knockout blow” against the British and claiming final victory entirely for their own flag.

The Russians win this race, lashing into Mu Hercules with a newly-arrived squadron of heavy cruisers, built around three of the new “Wave Two” Slava (Glory) class heavy cruisers. Nicknamed the “Three Sisters,” these cruisers bear the names of the three daughters of Czar Michael I, founder of the Romanov Dynasty. Supported by a Gagargin-class light fleet carrier, this powerful task force sorties into Mu Hercules with orders to smash whatever remains of the weakened Royal Navy, and claim the system (along with final victory) for the Holy Mother Russia.

The British, however, aren’t as powerless as the Russians estimate. Although outnumbered and outgunned, a crash repair and refit program has brought Task Force Agamemnon (Commodore Edward Cavendish) back on line. Alerted by Peregrine¬-class gunboats, Cavendish vectors to the colonized terrestrial planet Uxbridge (about 80% the mass of Earth) to intercept the Russian invader.

HOLY RUSSIAN EMPIRE: @Oriskany
UNITED KINGDOM: @Damon

The Russian strike out of 72 Hercules into Mu Hercules.  Note the 24 light-year distance.  This means that the Russian cruiser squadron had to set a very high-speed Darkstar Wave to cross this distance in anything shorter than a month.  Subsequently, this means their wave wasn’t very accurate and they could drop very close to major astrophysical bodies like planets or colonies.  Therefore, a second more accurate “assault wave” was required, by which time Task Force Agamemnon had been mobilized and vectored to intercept. The Russian strike out of 72 Hercules into Mu Hercules. Note the 24 light-year distance. This means that the Russian cruiser squadron had to set a very high-speed Darkstar Wave to cross this distance in anything shorter than a month. Subsequently, this means their wave wasn’t very accurate and they could drop very close to major astrophysical bodies like planets or colonies. Therefore, a second more accurate “assault wave” was required, by which time Task Force Agamemnon had been mobilized and vectored to intercept.
Here’s the matchup.  Each side has a light fleet carrier (light cruiser) loaded with elite aerospace, with the Russians enjoyed a slight numerical superiority.  The real weight advantage, however, is in guns, with three upgraded Slava-class heavy cruisers against just one British heavy cruiser, supported by a light cruiser and a destroyer.  The British force is of course much more high-tech, nimble, flexible, and fast ... not to mention upgraded with more accurate and harder-hitting guns.  Damon’s been working on this fleet for the better part of a year and a half, after all.  But can they really take on a fleet that outweighs them almost two-to-one?  Here’s the matchup. Each side has a light fleet carrier (light cruiser) loaded with elite aerospace, with the Russians enjoyed a slight numerical superiority. The real weight advantage, however, is in guns, with three upgraded Slava-class heavy cruisers against just one British heavy cruiser, supported by a light cruiser and a destroyer. The British force is of course much more high-tech, nimble, flexible, and fast ... not to mention upgraded with more accurate and harder-hitting guns. Damon’s been working on this fleet for the better part of a year and a half, after all. But can they really take on a fleet that outweighs them almost two-to-one?
The two sides make their initial approach.  Both sides hug the planet, adjusting course for gravity which effects the final positions of ships within 10 hexes.  They are hoping to get the “gravity gauge,” forcing the put themselves between the planet and the enemy, so the enemy has to turn dangerously TOWARD the planet to engage them.  The carriers also launch their aerospace strike groups.  The British start out doing well, their faster speeds giving them better initiative results, and allowing them to  broadside the larger, slower Russian ships.  The flagship Irina Mikhailovnya is heavily battered on her starboard bow, while the Agamemnon is barely scratched.  ADVANTAGE: BRITISHThe two sides make their initial approach. Both sides hug the planet, adjusting course for gravity which effects the final positions of ships within 10 hexes. They are hoping to get the “gravity gauge,” forcing the put themselves between the planet and the enemy, so the enemy has to turn dangerously TOWARD the planet to engage them. The carriers also launch their aerospace strike groups. The British start out doing well, their faster speeds giving them better initiative results, and allowing them to broadside the larger, slower Russian ships. The flagship Irina Mikhailovnya is heavily battered on her starboard bow, while the Agamemnon is barely scratched. ADVANTAGE: BRITISH
The British abruptly kick their grav-rudders and maneuvering thrusters to starboard, jackknifing AWAY from the oncoming  Russians.  The reasons are this are two-fold.  One, it keeps the range open where less-accurate but heavier Russian guns are at a disadvantage (especially the dreaded Russian plasma projectors) and also perfectly outranges the huge wave of P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes they’ve launched (48 warheads in all).  A viable tactic, but it doesn’t offer sufficient argument against the sheer weight of the Russian broadside.  THREE heavy cruisers are now positioned to fire every gun they have, and even at 2300 kilometers their blistering broadside caves in the port bow of the destroyer HMS Sheffield, including a 10-gw rail gun and 20-kg plasma pulse-spray through the bridge.  Commander Bowen survives without serious injury, but Sheffield is crippled and out of the battle.  ADVANTAGE: RUSSIANSThe British abruptly kick their grav-rudders and maneuvering thrusters to starboard, jackknifing AWAY from the oncoming Russians. The reasons are this are two-fold. One, it keeps the range open where less-accurate but heavier Russian guns are at a disadvantage (especially the dreaded Russian plasma projectors) and also perfectly outranges the huge wave of P-500 “Plamya” (Flame) Class III torpedoes they’ve launched (48 warheads in all). A viable tactic, but it doesn’t offer sufficient argument against the sheer weight of the Russian broadside. THREE heavy cruisers are now positioned to fire every gun they have, and even at 2300 kilometers their blistering broadside caves in the port bow of the destroyer HMS Sheffield, including a 10-gw rail gun and 20-kg plasma pulse-spray through the bridge. Commander Bowen survives without serious injury, but Sheffield is crippled and out of the battle. ADVANTAGE: RUSSIANS
The British are finally forced to break away from the planet, giving up the gravity gauge in exchange for crossing the Russian “T” as they start to power up out of Uxbridge’s gravity well.  The Russian flagship, Irina Mikhailovnya, rolls on her back to protect her ravaged starboard quarter, but the aerospace strike group of HMS Vindictive has formed up for a powerful strike or aerospace missiles and torpedoes to target this unshielded vulnerability anyway.  This strike, combined with the Model 41 gravitic torpedoes launched from the HMS Vindictive (the Sheffield’s warheads have gone dark when the ship lost power), slams into the unshielded port quarter, blowing apart the whole aft third of the ships and leaving her a 160,000 ton derelict careening through space.  The Russian aerospace strike, meanwhile, is much less impressive against the more accurate British point-defense systems and tougher ECM / gravitic shielding.  The British flagship Agamemnon loses her aft shielding, but remains operational ... for now.  ADVANTAGE:  BRITISHThe British are finally forced to break away from the planet, giving up the gravity gauge in exchange for crossing the Russian “T” as they start to power up out of Uxbridge’s gravity well. The Russian flagship, Irina Mikhailovnya, rolls on her back to protect her ravaged starboard quarter, but the aerospace strike group of HMS Vindictive has formed up for a powerful strike or aerospace missiles and torpedoes to target this unshielded vulnerability anyway. This strike, combined with the Model 41 gravitic torpedoes launched from the HMS Vindictive (the Sheffield’s warheads have gone dark when the ship lost power), slams into the unshielded port quarter, blowing apart the whole aft third of the ships and leaving her a 160,000 ton derelict careening through space. The Russian aerospace strike, meanwhile, is much less impressive against the more accurate British point-defense systems and tougher ECM / gravitic shielding. The British flagship Agamemnon loses her aft shielding, but remains operational ... for now. ADVANTAGE: BRITISH
The Russians turn hard toward the British, but the Agamemnon (the fastest heavy cruiser in currently in the Darkstar ‘verse) accelerates to 27 kilometers per second and pivots out of the way, along with her escort ship (light cruiser HMS Retribution).  The Vindictive powers away from the planet, perhaps hoping to recover her surviving bombers (one has been lost) in peace.  But she actually moves too fast, trying to get herself clear of the Russian broadsides.  While she succeeds at this, she’s actually moving faster than the hapless bombers trying to land.  Meanwhile, the Russian carrier Volkhov recovers her ten Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers, the hanger crews feverishly beginning preparations for a second launch and strike.  The Russian Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters, meanwhile, make a nigh-suicidal strafing run on the badly-damaged and unshielded stern of the Agamemnon.  Five are shot down, but their gunnery, combined with another smaller wave of P-500s, is enough to knock down the Agamemnon’s engines and leave the British flagship dead in space.  ADVANTAGE: RUSSIANSThe Russians turn hard toward the British, but the Agamemnon (the fastest heavy cruiser in currently in the Darkstar ‘verse) accelerates to 27 kilometers per second and pivots out of the way, along with her escort ship (light cruiser HMS Retribution). The Vindictive powers away from the planet, perhaps hoping to recover her surviving bombers (one has been lost) in peace. But she actually moves too fast, trying to get herself clear of the Russian broadsides. While she succeeds at this, she’s actually moving faster than the hapless bombers trying to land. Meanwhile, the Russian carrier Volkhov recovers her ten Tupolev Tu-97 “Zvesburya” (Star Storm) bombers, the hanger crews feverishly beginning preparations for a second launch and strike. The Russian Mikoyan-Guyevich MiG-103 “Tunguska” fighters, meanwhile, make a nigh-suicidal strafing run on the badly-damaged and unshielded stern of the Agamemnon. Five are shot down, but their gunnery, combined with another smaller wave of P-500s, is enough to knock down the Agamemnon’s engines and leave the British flagship dead in space. ADVANTAGE: RUSSIANS
With the Agamemnon crippled and the Vindictive approaching high-orbit, the light cruiser Retribution is more or less alone in a knife-fight with the TWO Russian heavy cruisers (a 90,000 ton warship against two 160,000 ton warships).  However, she’s must faster than her opponents, and able to pivot behind them for a broadside into the damaged fantail of the Anna Mikhailovnya, inflicting such critical damage that the heavy cruiser EXPLODES, instantly killing 447 officers and men (60% of her crew), including her commander, Captain Dmitri K. Krimilov.  The blastwave also does serious damage to the Tatiana Mikhailovnya (less than 50 km abeam) and the carrier Volkhov (180km behind).  ADVANTAGE: BRITISH.    With the Agamemnon crippled and the Vindictive approaching high-orbit, the light cruiser Retribution is more or less alone in a knife-fight with the TWO Russian heavy cruisers (a 90,000 ton warship against two 160,000 ton warships). However, she’s must faster than her opponents, and able to pivot behind them for a broadside into the damaged fantail of the Anna Mikhailovnya, inflicting such critical damage that the heavy cruiser EXPLODES, instantly killing 447 officers and men (60% of her crew), including her commander, Captain Dmitri K. Krimilov. The blastwave also does serious damage to the Tatiana Mikhailovnya (less than 50 km abeam) and the carrier Volkhov (180km behind). ADVANTAGE: BRITISH.
Missing her portside engines, with maneuvering thruster damage, and half-blinded by sensor damage, the Tatiana Mikhailovnya cannot hope to outmaneuver the Retribution (although she’s heavily damaged herself by this point).  A last despairing aerospace strike, including re-launched bombers from the Volkhov, fails to cripple the Retribution, even as all seven remaining Russian MiGs are shot down.  The Tatiana’s forward guns maul the port bow of the Retribution, but it’s not enough, especially as the Retribution’s return broadside hammers into the Tatiana.  The last Russian heavy cruiser remains operational, but with fires on the bridge, the forward magazine hit, the starboard torpedo array and the forward plasma pulse turret destroyed, she’s at last forced to break off the action.  She doesn’t have the thrust to turn around, she can’t turn to starboard toward the Retribution, and she can’t turn to port toward the Vindictive.  She therefore must leave (by the rules of the game) and is thus out of the fight as well.  VICTORY: BRITISHMissing her portside engines, with maneuvering thruster damage, and half-blinded by sensor damage, the Tatiana Mikhailovnya cannot hope to outmaneuver the Retribution (although she’s heavily damaged herself by this point). A last despairing aerospace strike, including re-launched bombers from the Volkhov, fails to cripple the Retribution, even as all seven remaining Russian MiGs are shot down. The Tatiana’s forward guns maul the port bow of the Retribution, but it’s not enough, especially as the Retribution’s return broadside hammers into the Tatiana. The last Russian heavy cruiser remains operational, but with fires on the bridge, the forward magazine hit, the starboard torpedo array and the forward plasma pulse turret destroyed, she’s at last forced to break off the action. She doesn’t have the thrust to turn around, she can’t turn to starboard toward the Retribution, and she can’t turn to port toward the Vindictive. She therefore must leave (by the rules of the game) and is thus out of the fight as well. VICTORY: BRITISH
The game is called at this point.  This has been a brutal, seven-turn “assault rules” game (victory points assessed by what REMAINS on the table, not what is destroyed).  The score is displayed.  Suffice it to say the British have resolutely defended the planet Uxbridge and its colony (Mu Hercules) system from the Russian “Three Sisters Squadron.”The game is called at this point. This has been a brutal, seven-turn “assault rules” game (victory points assessed by what REMAINS on the table, not what is destroyed). The score is displayed. Suffice it to say the British have resolutely defended the planet Uxbridge and its colony (Mu Hercules) system from the Russian “Three Sisters Squadron.”
In winning this battle, the British have stepped away somewhat from their perilous brink of defeat.  In the chart below, they had a campaign score of -9, with a defeat threshold of -10.  With a  +4 win (based on victory margin and scale of the battle) they are at -5 ... still on the back foot, but no longer staring into the abyss.  The question is, will they strike first against the enemies threatening either Mu Hercules of Hawking’s Star ... or fortify defense against the next inevitable assault (this time probably from the Americans)?In winning this battle, the British have stepped away somewhat from their perilous brink of defeat. In the chart below, they had a campaign score of -9, with a defeat threshold of -10. With a +4 win (based on victory margin and scale of the battle) they are at -5 ... still on the back foot, but no longer staring into the abyss. The question is, will they strike first against the enemies threatening either Mu Hercules of Hawking’s Star ... or fortify defense against the next inevitable assault (this time probably from the Americans)?

Long-Range American Raid at 14 Hercules (Khaizan's Haven)

Tutoring 4
Skill 6
Idea 6
3 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
09:10 SOL GMT, 23 AUGUST 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

The general American offensive continues to unfold across the Hercules Rim, a clear indication of their desire to bring their participation in the Third Hercules War to a decisive and successful conclusion.  Almost simultaneously with the successful raid they and their Russian allies have carried off at the HH779 comet in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules A/B), other elements of Task Force Oriskany have sortied from Port Halsey and made the incredible 60 light-years to Khaizan’s Haven in just two over weeks.*  Their mission is to hit the Arab League’s surveillance outpost and naval staging platform orbiting Bayankhongor,

*[In game terms, all the ships in Task Force Oriskany have purchased sufficient FTL upgrades until they can generate 12-magnitude Darkstar waves, giving them approximately x1000 c superluminal speeds.]

Bayankhongor is something of an oddity, a terrestrial planet in an irregular orbit, highly eccentric to the solar plane and much further from the 14 Hercules parent star than is found in most standard solar system models.  Some speculate it is actually an escaped moon from one of the systems outer ice giants, others guess Bayankhongor was tossed out of its original orbit by migrating gas giants in the system’s early history.  Bayankhongor is also a Mongol name, a vestige of 14 Hercules’ previous Black Dragon occupants (the League hasn’t yet given the rogue planet a new Arabic name).

The purpose of the American raid may seem unclear until one reviews the over situation in the Third Hercules War.  Obviously the American effort is focused against the British along the spinward shoulder of the Hercules Rim.  But while the Americans have their hands full in places like the Outer Hebrides, the last thing they want are Japanese or Arab League allies showing up to help the British.  So the Bayankhongor Raid is meant to pin down other Renkei Alliance forces on the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim, demonstrating that Japanese and League holdings out here remain under threat, and discourage redeployments to help the British at the Outer Hebrides.

As for the League, their mission is much less circumspect.  With these repeated incursions by the Russians and now the Americans, the League remains determined to defend these new holdings at 14 Hercules.  “Stay out of Khaizan’s Haven,” one League commenter was heard to say.  “This is our system, we stole it from the Black Dragons fair and square!”

United States: Oriskany
Arab League: Muakhah
212 points per side
RAID victory rules

The current disposition of the Third Hercules War.  With successful American and Russian raids putting the British on the back foot in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules A/B), the Americans hope this raid way out at 14 Hercules will give pause to British allies in the Renkei Alliance (Japanese and Arab League).  The Americans hope that raiding operations along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim will discourage Japanese or Arab redeployments of naval reinforcements to help the British at the Outer Hebrides, thereby putting Japanese and League possessions at greater risk.  The current disposition of the Third Hercules War. With successful American and Russian raids putting the British on the back foot in the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules A/B), the Americans hope this raid way out at 14 Hercules will give pause to British allies in the Renkei Alliance (Japanese and Arab League). The Americans hope that raiding operations along the coreward shoulder of the Hercules Rim will discourage Japanese or Arab redeployments of naval reinforcements to help the British at the Outer Hebrides, thereby putting Japanese and League possessions at greater risk.
Here is the matchup.  This is a small one, and the second Darkstar game played that day.  American forces include the destroyer USS Princeton (sister ship to Oriskany but with fewer upgrades), light carrier USS Tarawa (a converted USMC planetary assault ship), and the hunter-killer torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish.  These ships all generate 12-mag Darkstar waves (have earned and purchased the required upgrades) which explains how they crossed the Hercules Rim to hit such a remote target so quickly.  The Tarawa carries the fighters and bombers of USMC aerospace strike squadron VMF/A-319 (the “Tigersharks”), double-elite badasses who are nevertheless badly outnumbered by the aerospace strike wings of both the SHM Matamid (Almanzor class light hybrid cruiser) and SHM Abu Bashir (Khalifa class light carrier).  Escorting the League carrier and hybrid cruiser are the sisterships SHM Jeddah and Kashan (Basra class destroyers).  In all, the Americans are heavily outnumbered.  In terms of gunnery we’re looking at a light cruiser and two destroyers against just a destroyer … in terms of aerospace we’re looking at a 2:1 superiority.  But these American ships are elite, and the USS Daggerfish carries insanely dangerous torpedoes guided by a +2 CiC/targeting bonus and +2 (double upgraded) electronic warfare.  In total this gives her forward spread (8 tubes) +4 to hit, and League mass drivers a -2 to shoot them down.  Ouch.       Here is the matchup. This is a small one, and the second Darkstar game played that day. American forces include the destroyer USS Princeton (sister ship to Oriskany but with fewer upgrades), light carrier USS Tarawa (a converted USMC planetary assault ship), and the hunter-killer torpedo corvette USS Daggerfish. These ships all generate 12-mag Darkstar waves (have earned and purchased the required upgrades) which explains how they crossed the Hercules Rim to hit such a remote target so quickly. The Tarawa carries the fighters and bombers of USMC aerospace strike squadron VMF/A-319 (the “Tigersharks”), double-elite badasses who are nevertheless badly outnumbered by the aerospace strike wings of both the SHM Matamid (Almanzor class light hybrid cruiser) and SHM Abu Bashir (Khalifa class light carrier). Escorting the League carrier and hybrid cruiser are the sisterships SHM Jeddah and Kashan (Basra class destroyers). In all, the Americans are heavily outnumbered. In terms of gunnery we’re looking at a light cruiser and two destroyers against just a destroyer … in terms of aerospace we’re looking at a 2:1 superiority. But these American ships are elite, and the USS Daggerfish carries insanely dangerous torpedoes guided by a +2 CiC/targeting bonus and +2 (double upgraded) electronic warfare. In total this gives her forward spread (8 tubes) +4 to hit, and League mass drivers a -2 to shoot them down. Ouch.
The Americans and League make their initial approach.  Almost immediately I see the mistake by sleep deprived mid may have made here … eager to show off how fast this small battlegroup was, I closed with the Arab League WAY too fast, thus throwing away much of my advantage in electronics, elite aerospace, and ranged accuracy.  Closing this quickly gives my opponent Muakhah the chance to make this about GUNNERY, a prospect in which his battlegroup will win ten times out of ten.  As if to prove the point, he focuses his forward lasers and EPCs on the USS Daggerfish.  While her shielding and electronic warfare make her about as hard to hit as a cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey, the League ships have a fair amount of electronics as well, and when it comes to gunnery salvoes at this range … numbers matter.  The Daggerfish is soon crippled with hits to both her bridge and starboard reactor.  While losing the ship is bad enough, losing the eight Mark 48 torpedoes (quadruple upgraded, by the way) really takes the killing edge off the ONE BIG AEROSPACE STRIKE I’m going to be launching … my only real chance at victory.  This was a dumb move on my part, but my opponent saw it and took advantage, smart enough to NOT waste his first big salvo on the more obvious targets like USS Princeton.The Americans and League make their initial approach. Almost immediately I see the mistake by sleep deprived mid may have made here … eager to show off how fast this small battlegroup was, I closed with the Arab League WAY too fast, thus throwing away much of my advantage in electronics, elite aerospace, and ranged accuracy. Closing this quickly gives my opponent Muakhah the chance to make this about GUNNERY, a prospect in which his battlegroup will win ten times out of ten. As if to prove the point, he focuses his forward lasers and EPCs on the USS Daggerfish. While her shielding and electronic warfare make her about as hard to hit as a cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey, the League ships have a fair amount of electronics as well, and when it comes to gunnery salvoes at this range … numbers matter. The Daggerfish is soon crippled with hits to both her bridge and starboard reactor. While losing the ship is bad enough, losing the eight Mark 48 torpedoes (quadruple upgraded, by the way) really takes the killing edge off the ONE BIG AEROSPACE STRIKE I’m going to be launching … my only real chance at victory. This was a dumb move on my part, but my opponent saw it and took advantage, smart enough to NOT waste his first big salvo on the more obvious targets like USS Princeton.
Things continue to go badly for the Americans as … sure enough … their aerospace and torpedo strike doesn’t come to very much.  Sure, the League is helped by some good dice rolls on point defense (a 6 and two 5s, if memory serves) but in a game like Darkstar, players make their own luck, which Muakhah did LAST turn by knocking out the Daggerfish.  If I’d still had those EIGHT Class 4 torpedoes, with +4 to hit and -2 to shoot down, good mass driver rolls wouldn’t have mattered, this torpedo and aerospace strike would’ve still blown Abu Bashir out of the stars.  Also, I divided by aerospace strike here (perhaps not realizing just how bad it had been weakened), so while I damage Abu Bashir and Kashan, I don’t cripple either ship.  Meanwhile, while I’m able to shoot down some of the “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters slinging missiles at USS Tarawa, I don’t shoot down enough of the torpedoes released by his “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers, and the Tarawa takes enough hits in her engines and reactors to leave her adrift, burning, and without power. Things continue to go badly for the Americans as … sure enough … their aerospace and torpedo strike doesn’t come to very much. Sure, the League is helped by some good dice rolls on point defense (a 6 and two 5s, if memory serves) but in a game like Darkstar, players make their own luck, which Muakhah did LAST turn by knocking out the Daggerfish. If I’d still had those EIGHT Class 4 torpedoes, with +4 to hit and -2 to shoot down, good mass driver rolls wouldn’t have mattered, this torpedo and aerospace strike would’ve still blown Abu Bashir out of the stars. Also, I divided by aerospace strike here (perhaps not realizing just how bad it had been weakened), so while I damage Abu Bashir and Kashan, I don’t cripple either ship. Meanwhile, while I’m able to shoot down some of the “Mylekinir” (Fire Angel) fighters slinging missiles at USS Tarawa, I don’t shoot down enough of the torpedoes released by his “Demkikham” (Vengeance) bombers, and the Tarawa takes enough hits in her engines and reactors to leave her adrift, burning, and without power.
While the Americans have clearly lost this game, it’s up to the USS Princeton and Marine pilots of VMF/A-319 to at least mitigate this disaster down to a “minor” defeat.  Note the League has somewhat divided their battlegroup here, a result of basically always losing initiative to these much faster American ships and so trying to cover multiple angles in their movement phase.  While this isn’t a bad move (again, it’s all but impossible for Muakhah’s ships to beat Princeton on initiative) it does leave the damaged destroyer Kashan in somewhat isolated and vulnerable to a second strike.  The Marines of “Tigershark” squadron dive for her damaged stern, taking heavily losses to League mass driver defenses.  But the FS/A-81 Avenger bombers, E/S-101 Hawkeye scouts, and especially F/S-44 Star Corsair fighters put enough chain guns into the stern of the Kashan to detonate her starboard engines and reactors, sending her hulk spinning through space.  The Princeton has matched this move, meanwhile, and comes THAT CLOSE to crippling the SHM Jeddah as well with a point-blank broadside across her stern (literally I needed a 5+ to cripple, I rolled a 4).  While the Americans have clearly lost this game, it’s up to the USS Princeton and Marine pilots of VMF/A-319 to at least mitigate this disaster down to a “minor” defeat. Note the League has somewhat divided their battlegroup here, a result of basically always losing initiative to these much faster American ships and so trying to cover multiple angles in their movement phase. While this isn’t a bad move (again, it’s all but impossible for Muakhah’s ships to beat Princeton on initiative) it does leave the damaged destroyer Kashan in somewhat isolated and vulnerable to a second strike. The Marines of “Tigershark” squadron dive for her damaged stern, taking heavily losses to League mass driver defenses. But the FS/A-81 Avenger bombers, E/S-101 Hawkeye scouts, and especially F/S-44 Star Corsair fighters put enough chain guns into the stern of the Kashan to detonate her starboard engines and reactors, sending her hulk spinning through space. The Princeton has matched this move, meanwhile, and comes THAT CLOSE to crippling the SHM Jeddah as well with a point-blank broadside across her stern (literally I needed a 5+ to cripple, I rolled a 4).
USS Princeton takes her damage as well, but manages to maintain power and leave the table on her own power.  The American aerospace withdraws as well, and both side begin recovery and rescue operations.  In particular, the fires aboard SHM Kashan continue to rage out of control despite controlled venting … it’s up to the flagship SHM Mutamid and her commander, Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi, to transfer additional damage control parties and take the Kashan in tow.  It bears noting that IF the Americans had managed to cripple both the Kashan and Jeddah, and take less aerospace losses in that last-ditch strafing run, MAYBE they could have forced a draw out of this debacle.  But as it stands, with only the Kashan left inoperable, the result is a solid League “minor” victory.USS Princeton takes her damage as well, but manages to maintain power and leave the table on her own power. The American aerospace withdraws as well, and both side begin recovery and rescue operations. In particular, the fires aboard SHM Kashan continue to rage out of control despite controlled venting … it’s up to the flagship SHM Mutamid and her commander, Captain Rashid al-Maghrebi, to transfer additional damage control parties and take the Kashan in tow. It bears noting that IF the Americans had managed to cripple both the Kashan and Jeddah, and take less aerospace losses in that last-ditch strafing run, MAYBE they could have forced a draw out of this debacle. But as it stands, with only the Kashan left inoperable, the result is a solid League “minor” victory.
Needless to say, the result at Bayankhongor has taken some of the sting out of the American sector-wide offensive.  While the operational result of this raid has little bearing on the situation at Outer Hebrides, the fact that American wolfpacks WON’T be prowling around the coreward systems of the Hercules Rim means that Japanese and Arab League reinforcements might be free to help the British after all.  Furthermore, half of Task Force Oriskany is now limping back across the Hercules Rim, with ships facing long drydock repair times once they return.  These are ships that will be sorely missed when the Americans open the next phase of their operations in the Outer Hebrides.Needless to say, the result at Bayankhongor has taken some of the sting out of the American sector-wide offensive. While the operational result of this raid has little bearing on the situation at Outer Hebrides, the fact that American wolfpacks WON’T be prowling around the coreward systems of the Hercules Rim means that Japanese and Arab League reinforcements might be free to help the British after all. Furthermore, half of Task Force Oriskany is now limping back across the Hercules Rim, with ships facing long drydock repair times once they return. These are ships that will be sorely missed when the Americans open the next phase of their operations in the Outer Hebrides.

Skirmish at Comet HH779 (Outer Hebrides - Mu Hercules A/B)

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 6
3 Comments

FROM: UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL COLONIAL CENTER
22:45 SOL GMT, 19 AUGUST 2521
BREAKAUTH: 181072.18J
CLEARANCE: SECRET (NATIONAL)

**UNITED NATIONS COMMUNIQUE**

The current war raging across the Hercules Rim continues to escalate as the United States Navy has embarked on what seems to be a campaign aimed at winning at least their part of this conflict once and for all.  After taking a pause to recover from their losses and setbacks in their failed Hawking’s Star campaign earlier in the spring, then breaking a British raid into the outskirts of the Port Halsey colonies (Vega / Lyra Alpha), they have now embarked on a general offensive on both the coreward and spinward shoulders of the Hercules Rim.

The first of these blows has landed against the British, fairly predictable given the proximity of Port Halsey to two of Britain’s largest colonial systems in this region, Hawking’s Star (HR 6806) and the Outer Hebrides (Mu Hercules A/B).  Wanting no part of Hawking’s Star after their earlier frustrations, the Americans have instead shifted focus to the Outer Hebrides, joining with allies in the Holy Russian Empire for a strike against the Outer Hebrides colonies in Mu Hercules A/B.  This is a binary star system with a large main sequence star just beginning to enter its red giant phase, and a much smaller red dwarf.  British population and industrial settlements orbit the larger star, toward which the Americans have their approach by masking their task force behind the tail of a comet.

This is Holmsberg-Hebrides 779 (Comet HH779), which is now close enough to Mu Hercules A to begin streaming tails of ionized gas, sublimated frozen nitrogen, and crystallized water ice.  As these materials shed off the comet’s core, outgassing and geysers have also cracked off large slabs of dust-mixed ice and porous rock, calving off the comet like slabs off a melting glacier.

This is the material the Americans and Russians (the so-called “Coalition of Eagles”) have been using to hide their low-speed, high-stealth Darkstar approach into Mu Hercules A, followed by their final sublight approach toward the first Royal Navy installations in the inner orbital zones of the system.  The cover has screened their approach to a surprising degree, but a British Griffin-class gunboat has finally spotted them, and Task Force Agamemnon (Lord Commodore Edward Cavendish) has been sortied to intercept.

The battle promises to be a dramatic one.  Not only is Task Force Agamemnon one of the more powerful and prestigious British formations in the Third Hercules War, but the approaching Americans and Russians represent some of the most battle-hardened ships in Known Space.  These include the light cruiser CPK Admiral Lazarev and destroyer Syekyra, and the American light fleet carrier USS Liberty, carrying squadrons VSF-221 “The Dead Rabbits” and VSA-193 “The Eight Ball Express.”  Rounding out the American force is none other than the Valcour-class destroyer USS Oriskany.  One way or another, the Battle of Comet HH779 promises to be memorable.

United States / Holy Russian Empire: Oriskany
United Kingdom: Damon
497 points per side
RAID victory rules

Current disposition on the Third Hercules War, showing in particular the Russo-American raid into the Mu Hercules.  For an approach like this, the standard practice is to set a high-speed, high-magnitude Darkstar wave toward the target, dropping back into normal space anywhere from 200 AU to 2 light-years out from the stars or planets where the enemy may be waiting.  Given the absurdly-high speeds of these waves (anywhere from 300-500 times the speed of light), even 25th Century clocks and instruments can’t always guarantee a precise exit point.  Also, stronger Darkstar waves project a much larger curvature shadow into normal space, making them much easier to detect and at longer distances, and will also run afoul of stellar or planetary gravity fields from a much greater distance (thus causing catastrophic gravity shear).  Accordingly, the approaching naval force usually sets a second “approach wave” - much slower, harder to detect, and more accurate - for the final approach into the target.  Also, because this second wave casts a much smaller curvature shadow into normal space, they can get much closer to actual targets (i.e., enemy-held planets)  before exiting into normal space.  Here the Russians and Americans have added a third stage, a high-speed sublight “ghost approach” into the heart of Mu Hercules using the tail of the HH779 comet for additional cover.Current disposition on the Third Hercules War, showing in particular the Russo-American raid into the Mu Hercules. For an approach like this, the standard practice is to set a high-speed, high-magnitude Darkstar wave toward the target, dropping back into normal space anywhere from 200 AU to 2 light-years out from the stars or planets where the enemy may be waiting. Given the absurdly-high speeds of these waves (anywhere from 300-500 times the speed of light), even 25th Century clocks and instruments can’t always guarantee a precise exit point. Also, stronger Darkstar waves project a much larger curvature shadow into normal space, making them much easier to detect and at longer distances, and will also run afoul of stellar or planetary gravity fields from a much greater distance (thus causing catastrophic gravity shear). Accordingly, the approaching naval force usually sets a second “approach wave” - much slower, harder to detect, and more accurate - for the final approach into the target. Also, because this second wave casts a much smaller curvature shadow into normal space, they can get much closer to actual targets (i.e., enemy-held planets) before exiting into normal space. Here the Russians and Americans have added a third stage, a high-speed sublight “ghost approach” into the heart of Mu Hercules using the tail of the HH779 comet for additional cover.
Here is the matchup, and the special rules for the starship duels in the tail of a comet.  The torpedo and aerospace rules are written in there so the game won’t be “terrain balanced” against the British, who have a much more “gun-heavy” force than the Russians and especially Americans.  Here is the matchup, and the special rules for the starship duels in the tail of a comet. The torpedo and aerospace rules are written in there so the game won’t be “terrain balanced” against the British, who have a much more “gun-heavy” force than the Russians and especially Americans.
The two sides make their initial approach.  The British start off with a novel attack, closing from two sides of the board to cover both main “gaps” in the comet gas/debris tail through which the Coalition may strike.  As it turns out, the Coalition doesn’t push through either of these gaps, instead using the “spaceberg” ice fields and trails of ionized gas to hide most of their ships from the big guns of HMS Agamemnon and Retribution.  This works for all the Coalition ships except the carrier USS Liberty, which is positively drilled by pinpoint, long-ranged laser, syglex, and rail gun fire from the light cruiser Retribution and destroyer Sheffield.  In fact, the aft hangars of the Liberty are hit, just moments after the last of her bombers launch.   Reactors, maneuvering thrusters, troop bays, and without guns of her own, the Liberty cannot respond at the moment, protected only by the smaller guns aboard the Russian destroyer Syekyra.  After all, while the Lazarev and Oriskany are screened from British fire, this also means they can’t fire in return.      The two sides make their initial approach. The British start off with a novel attack, closing from two sides of the board to cover both main “gaps” in the comet gas/debris tail through which the Coalition may strike. As it turns out, the Coalition doesn’t push through either of these gaps, instead using the “spaceberg” ice fields and trails of ionized gas to hide most of their ships from the big guns of HMS Agamemnon and Retribution. This works for all the Coalition ships except the carrier USS Liberty, which is positively drilled by pinpoint, long-ranged laser, syglex, and rail gun fire from the light cruiser Retribution and destroyer Sheffield. In fact, the aft hangars of the Liberty are hit, just moments after the last of her bombers launch. Reactors, maneuvering thrusters, troop bays, and without guns of her own, the Liberty cannot respond at the moment, protected only by the smaller guns aboard the Russian destroyer Syekyra. After all, while the Lazarev and Oriskany are screened from British fire, this also means they can’t fire in return.
The Coalition again endeavors to make best use of “space terrain,” refusing to emerge from behind the comet debris tail until a hopeful torpedo and aerospace strike knocks out at least one of the heavier British “gun ships.”  As HMS Agamemnon and Retribution converge, hiding from both ships becomes easier, although USS Liberty is hammered again (albeit on a different facing).  Things SEEMS to  go better for the Americans, with fighters of VSF-221 “The Dead Rabbits” closing to launch aerospace missiles and VSA-193 “The Eight Ball Express” to launch torpedoes at the Agamemnon, carefully positioning themselves so only the Agamemnon (and not the rest of the British task force) can offer defensive fire against the American aerospace craft.  The American bombers are attacked by British fighters, but even this is something of a trap as the American bombers are still within the range of friendly mass driver point-defense guns, and the British Supermarine Starfires suffer heavy losses.  As precise, cagey, and well-planned as the American aerospace strike is, however, it isn’t perfect.  Warship torpedoes are still too far away, and British mass driver defenses can concentrate on shooting down American aerospace ordinance.  The Agamemnon is struck twice astern, but her armor and upgraded shielding absorbs almost all the damage.The Coalition again endeavors to make best use of “space terrain,” refusing to emerge from behind the comet debris tail until a hopeful torpedo and aerospace strike knocks out at least one of the heavier British “gun ships.” As HMS Agamemnon and Retribution converge, hiding from both ships becomes easier, although USS Liberty is hammered again (albeit on a different facing). Things SEEMS to go better for the Americans, with fighters of VSF-221 “The Dead Rabbits” closing to launch aerospace missiles and VSA-193 “The Eight Ball Express” to launch torpedoes at the Agamemnon, carefully positioning themselves so only the Agamemnon (and not the rest of the British task force) can offer defensive fire against the American aerospace craft. The American bombers are attacked by British fighters, but even this is something of a trap as the American bombers are still within the range of friendly mass driver point-defense guns, and the British Supermarine Starfires suffer heavy losses. As precise, cagey, and well-planned as the American aerospace strike is, however, it isn’t perfect. Warship torpedoes are still too far away, and British mass driver defenses can concentrate on shooting down American aerospace ordinance. The Agamemnon is struck twice astern, but her armor and upgraded shielding absorbs almost all the damage.
Things get ... VERY sticky here.  Agamemnon loses initiative and moves first, pivoting as shown to set up a broadside as the Coalition at last slips from behind that cometary debris.  Aboard the Lazarev, Captain Piotr F. Myshaga orders flank speed, cursing the failed American aerospace strike and resolving to knock out the Agamemnon on his own with a broadside across Commodore Cavendish’s fantail.  Appalled, the Americans are more or less forced to follow suit, they HAVE to stick close together in the face of an imminent British aerospace strike.  The Liberty slides in alongside the Lazarev, ready to break off the action, but her mass divers and electronic warfare will be needed when those Royal Navy “Star Typhoon” bombers start slinging out torpedoes.  The Retribution closes for a point-blank broadside on the Lazarev, the Oriskany cuts into Agamemnon’s hex to support Lazarev’s do-or-die broadside.  The Vindictive swoops in so American fighters can’t help shoot down British torpedoes, the Syekyra supports the Liberty, the Sheffield cuts in for a point blank broadside against Liberty and Syekyra!Things get ... VERY sticky here. Agamemnon loses initiative and moves first, pivoting as shown to set up a broadside as the Coalition at last slips from behind that cometary debris. Aboard the Lazarev, Captain Piotr F. Myshaga orders flank speed, cursing the failed American aerospace strike and resolving to knock out the Agamemnon on his own with a broadside across Commodore Cavendish’s fantail. Appalled, the Americans are more or less forced to follow suit, they HAVE to stick close together in the face of an imminent British aerospace strike. The Liberty slides in alongside the Lazarev, ready to break off the action, but her mass divers and electronic warfare will be needed when those Royal Navy “Star Typhoon” bombers start slinging out torpedoes. The Retribution closes for a point-blank broadside on the Lazarev, the Oriskany cuts into Agamemnon’s hex to support Lazarev’s do-or-die broadside. The Vindictive swoops in so American fighters can’t help shoot down British torpedoes, the Syekyra supports the Liberty, the Sheffield cuts in for a point blank broadside against Liberty and Syekyra!
The fiery exchange that follows instantly decides the battle.  The Oriskany and Lazarev cripple the Agamemnon, the Agamemnon and Retribution cripple the Oriskany.  While trading a heavy cruiser for a destroyer is normally very bad business, note the Oriskany is worth 112 points, the Agamemnon is worth 180 ... so it’s not a DISASTROUS trade, especially given all the losses taken so far to American aerospace.  The British aerospace strike pummels the Lazarev, and while she isn’t destroyed or crippled, she’s forced to break off.  The Liberty was already running for her life, and the Syekyra takes horrific damage astern but somehow her skipper, Captain Ekaterina Duranov, manages to keep her reactors on line.  The actual decisive blow comes from Syekyra, who manages to cripple the Sheffield with some point-blank 40-kg plasma projectors, 7 gw rail guns, and hot dice on the “Crippled Ship Check.”  The score is shown in the slide,  with the Russians and Americans claiming a hard-fought 11% minor victory.The fiery exchange that follows instantly decides the battle. The Oriskany and Lazarev cripple the Agamemnon, the Agamemnon and Retribution cripple the Oriskany. While trading a heavy cruiser for a destroyer is normally very bad business, note the Oriskany is worth 112 points, the Agamemnon is worth 180 ... so it’s not a DISASTROUS trade, especially given all the losses taken so far to American aerospace. The British aerospace strike pummels the Lazarev, and while she isn’t destroyed or crippled, she’s forced to break off. The Liberty was already running for her life, and the Syekyra takes horrific damage astern but somehow her skipper, Captain Ekaterina Duranov, manages to keep her reactors on line. The actual decisive blow comes from Syekyra, who manages to cripple the Sheffield with some point-blank 40-kg plasma projectors, 7 gw rail guns, and hot dice on the “Crippled Ship Check.” The score is shown in the slide, with the Russians and Americans claiming a hard-fought 11% minor victory.
The successful Coalition raid on Mu Hercules A puts the British in a precarious position, not unlike the “brink of defeat” on which they found themselves in Hawking’s Star earlier in the year.  In game terms, they now stand at -9 campaign score, with a threshold of +/-10.  In other words, two more defeat points (one more battle) and they exceed the -10 campaign score their government and Admiralty is prepared to accept.  In campaign terms, the successful battle at HH779 means the Americans are now sending in Saipan-class planetary assault ships, each leaded with a battalion of US Marines, hoping that one more “Assault” victory (as opposed to “Raid”) in Mu Hercules will allow them to put boots on Mu Hercules colonies and end America’s involvement in this war once and for all. The successful Coalition raid on Mu Hercules A puts the British in a precarious position, not unlike the “brink of defeat” on which they found themselves in Hawking’s Star earlier in the year. In game terms, they now stand at -9 campaign score, with a threshold of +/-10. In other words, two more defeat points (one more battle) and they exceed the -10 campaign score their government and Admiralty is prepared to accept. In campaign terms, the successful battle at HH779 means the Americans are now sending in Saipan-class planetary assault ships, each leaded with a battalion of US Marines, hoping that one more “Assault” victory (as opposed to “Raid”) in Mu Hercules will allow them to put boots on Mu Hercules colonies and end America’s involvement in this war once and for all.

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