The Second Coalition War continues, as the Kharadorn Royal Navy attacks the Octan Station orbiting Mars. Defending against (fictional) Kate’s attack is (fictional) Camille and her Chaos fleet. As usual, click on the thumbnails for more detailed pictures. (The quality this time is a little worse than previously seen, as I’m working with a new space, and had to retouch pretty much every picture I took.)
Camille’s fleet has a vast superiority in escorts, so it’s no real surprise that she wins the fleet initiative roll. Because of that, they’ll be fighting a set-piece battle, where the fleets will deploy opposite each other with the station in between.
Or, in character: “Camille’s scanning gives her advance warning that the Kharadorn are on their way to Mars. Chaos has enough time to consolidate her fleet near the planet, and meet the invaders head-on.”
Kate: I’ve watched Erin go straight at the station and get slaughtered — twice — so have decided that’s not a good idea. I expect Camille is going to commit to screening the station with her fleet. (It worked for Ivan and Terry.) The right answer might be to stand off just out of range of the station, hit Camille’s fleet, and then follow up on the station once Baal is neutralized and I have ordinance superiority.
Camille: Terry and Ivan have pretty much established the correct way of defending a space station. Get the fleet in front of the station, and then use the escorts to draw fire from the cruisers.
Kate: After seeing Camille set up, the fleet will lean left, so as to put Baal in front of E.S.Blofeld. Those orange markers mark the line I do not want to cross before Camille’s fleet is neutralized.
The ladies are playing on a larger board today. (Six feet by four feet.) While Jump War is designed to be played on a four foot square table, more space is always better, as the edge of the world is less of an issue.
Camille: The entire fleet accelerated. The objective is to layer the defense, with the cruisers taking fire for the station, and the escorts taking fire for the cruisers.
Kate: The best armor is to stay out of range.
Camille: The Kharadorn are light on escorts, so I’m planning to send my ordinance against their birds of prey. That means my cruisers should take on their carriers.
Kate: I’ve gone with a mixed launch, here. Reträtt’s fighters are on strike duty, while Aspekt’s will cover Aspekt and Kraftig. (If you zoom in on the picture, you’ll see that Reträtt’s fighters are being played by Imperial bombers, and Aspekt’s are fighters.)
Camille: Two of my escort squadrons moved first on the next round. I stuck with the plan, and had them draw fire so that the Kharadorn couldn’t target my cruisers.
Kate: Klangfull breaks formation a bit to dodge the incoming mines, and Slitbar ducks behind Kraftig, so that Kraftig’s patrol group can do their thing.
Baal’s fighters are the ones between the group of Chaos escorts that are maneuvering, and the ones that are drawing fire. (Apologies for violating the 180-degree rule, here. I will try not to let it happen again.)
Kate: That movement phase went pretty well. I’ve managed to maneuver my ships away from the obvious threats, and started working on the escort screen.
Camille: You expect to lose some escorts to fighters, but that was grim. Kate managed to hit the squadron in the flanks, which isolated her targets from some of the squadron’s point defense. I’m thinking line abreast is not a real good formation for receiving fighters; you want to be in a triangle to maximize PD coverage.
During the drift phase, one mine field finds Slitbar. Fighters from Aspekt’s patrol group intercept the mines, and remove the threat. (The advantage to assigning your fighters to patrol groups is that they gain a radius of action. The down side is that only strike groups can attack enemy ships.)
Every ship has a blind spot behind their engines where they can’t shoot. For most cold navies, that’s the aft-most 30 degrees of arc. The Khardorn, on the other hand, have their engines out on nacelles, so use the alternate blind spot template. The center line of the template drifted a little bit when I took that picture, but you should be able to see the black arcs behind the blue of the port and starboard arcs.
Just because Reträtt can’t shoot them doesn’t mean that the escorts have an easy time of it. Escorts are not meant to stand up against fire from destroyers, and there are four of them. (The Aspekt is a destroyer-weight ship in Jump War.)
Kate: That went much better than I hoped. The entire Chaos screen is gone, with no friendly losses. I have my fighters up to receive Baal’s attack. Klangfull is in trouble — it’s too far from the Main Body — but I’d say that went well. On to Mars!
Kate: Things aren’t looking so good. I can’t get out of Blofeld’s range this turn, so we’re going to have to trade fire. I’d love to target Baal — Camille’s brought her second cruiser forward to try to get me to split fire — but Blofeld’s the real threat at the moment. I’m going to keep the fleet tight, and focus on Blofeld for now (minus Klangfull, which is limping off).
(E.S.Blofeld is an Acheron-class cruiser, and loaded with lasers. A broadside will put you at the receiving end of 22 of them. For comparison, Reträtt can target a single vessel with 12 mixed beams.)
That’s Klangfull by itself at the top of the picture.
Camille: The only good thing to come out of the loss of all my escorts is that their wreckage drifts right through the Kharadorn fleet. I won’t have to do quite so many hits to get through their shields.
That big ball of flame in the middle of the Khardorn formation is what’s left of one of Reträtt’s escorts. While E.S.Blofeld is trading fire with Reträtt, their escorts are similarly engaged with each other. Nana has destroyed Slipad.
Camille: The fat lady ain’t singing, but we’ve hit the point in the opera where the heroes are starting to die. If I win the next turn, that’s game.
Camille: Oh, that was bad.
(For those of you who don’t want to load that picture: initiative dice for the three Chaos groups remaining rolled 1, 1, and 3. Chaos will move first and shoot last this turn.)
Alternate caption: We are Kharadorn!
Slitbar has seriously threatened E.S.Blofeld. The Kharadorn destroyer is in the Chaos cruiser’s forward arc, which is devoid of weaponry. By sideswiping the Chaos squadron, Slitbar has knocked their shields down. Slitbar’s are down, too, but only Nana can take advantage.
Klangfull is still alive. She’s managed to generate just enough thrust to stay out of range of the space station, and is now in Baal’s blind spot. They might survive this.
Fire is now exchanged.
Were this a movie, this is the point where we’d cut to the interior of Slitbar’s bridge as they’re flying through the center of E.S.Blofeld’s squadron, and Chaos ships are exploding all around them.
You read that caption right. Klangfull, which has been limping along on chewing gum and bailing wire, jury rigs its spinal mount again, and scores four hits on Baal. With E.S.Blofeld gone, Baal disabled, and the Octan station too far away to provide reasonable support, Camille gives up.
Stunning victory for the Kharadorn!
Kate: I love it when a plan works.
Camille: I didn’t like being on the losing end of this one, but I was glad somebody figured out how to win a Port Strike. At this point, the invader has two strategies: either attack the station, or engage the defending fleet. The defending fleet has to honor the first possibility, but be able to slam on the brakes if it looks like the invader is using the station as a ruse. The next one of these should be a real dance.
(Credit: Mars is a picture from Hubble.)