Today’s battle recounts yet another Eldar Corsair port strike. (You think that’s what Eldar do?) The location is Neptune (the big blue gas giant), and one of its moons is being played by Encedalus. The Octan Station is orbiting Encedalus, and the Mauridians sortie in defense. As usual, click on the pictures for higher resolution.
This is the first battle after re-writing the campaign rules a touch. As a result of the previous turn, some ships are of better (or worse) quality than others.
Erin: [The Eldar Player.] This is weird. I’m out-ordinanced this battle. I have 3 fighters, 2 missiles, and 3 mines vs. 6 fighters and 4 mines; not counting what Maurice equips the port with. That means I should out-gun him.
Maurice: [The Mauridian Player.] No, she doesn’t. I’ve built a degenerate station. 24 lasers, and one missile rack.
Erin: Bleargh. It looks like I want to start in Neptune’s shadow, and break right at such a pace that we’ll be in Encedalus’ shadow. The down side is that’ll be at the start of turn four. At that point, we can rush in and zap the station as we fly by Encedalus. Somehow threatening Maurice while I do so will be a trick.
Maurice: My problem will be proper station-keeping. We want to form an umbrella around Encedalus, but Neptune will be constantly dragging us towards it.
Erin: I’m going to try something a little different. The Aconites [the laser-armed escorts – ed.] will be converged into one squadron, and I’m going to use them to intercept incoming ordinance. With 9 point defense, I’m thinking it’ll take out enemy missiles and mines. The math doesn’t help me against fighters. That’s what my own fighters are for.
Erin: I’ve also converged my Nightshades [the mine-armed escorts – ed.] into a trailing squadron. I want them to flood the zone with mines, but I don’t particularly want them engaging anything other than enemy escorts.
Maurice: Despite the loss last game, my formation worked. I’m not making any changes except to put Ba’Nal (my only veteran escort, now) at the head of a squadron.
Erin: I have a whack idea. Use the Hellebores [destroyers – ed.] to hunt the Ven’Taras [Mauridian destroyer-weight carriers – ed.].
Maurice: I suddenly felt confused. Erin’s deliberately split her fleet. I can’t decide if the Hayanami is a precursor to splitting a fleet, or a feint. At this point, it could be either, and it’ll be my move that dictates it.
[Hayanami is the Hellebore on Maurice’s right. – ed.]
Maurice: If I take Ven’Tur left, Erin can take Inazumi and the Nightshades right, and I have to cross my fleet to support. If Ven’Tur goes right, then the bulk of Erin’s fleet goes left.
[Ven’Tur is one of Maurice’s Ven’Taras. – ed.]
Maurice: I’m going to split the difference, and move Ven’Tur behind Encedalus.
Erin: That was unexpected. Not Ven’Tur’s move, but how long it took for Maurice to make it. What did he see that I didn’t?
Erin: … oh.
Erin: He was thinking about moving to my left. Why? I’m showing right … except for Hayanami, and I’ve still got ships to move.
Erin: He thinks me going left might be a good move.
Erin: I hope I’m not about to do something stupid.
Maurice: OK, don’t panic. You’ve got the advantage of interior lines, and the objective. The right answer is to not go chasing off after the advantage of a split fleet. It’s to hunker down at Encedalus and wait for her to come for me.
Erin: I might be able to win this in two turns. Inazuma’s inertia marker is 20 inches away from the station and Inazuma has better initiative.
Erin: Zip in, strike the station while Inazuma is fresh, then zip out next turn.
Erin: The second part is the hard part, but I might get Gal’Efors going the wrong way from Ikazuchi, and I might be able to hit with the second pincer, too.
The orange and blue chits indicate Gal’Efors’ range. The blue ones are blocked by Neptune.
The Mauridians have moved into Hamanami’s port arc, so the destroyer can target them with only its top turret.
In the drift phase, the Aconites do what they’re supposed to, and eliminate two minefields that pass through their squadron.
That picture might not be immediately interpreted. Look between the fighters and the station, and you’ll see a stack of Inertia markers labeled “Mines”. With the influence of Neptune, they’ll be in the same place as the station next turn. I’m thinking Erin’s getting the hang of this part of the game.
Inazuma does six real hits on the station with this shot. The Eldar cruiser is armed with 8 spines and 8 lasers, and Erin rolled two more laser hits than you’d normally expect.
If the battle is just Inazuma and the station, the Eldar win that exchange this turn, 6 hits to 4.
Erin: This reminds me a bit of that first game against Ivan. Striking the station was easy; now I have to disengage. The big problem is that 95% of my beams are forward-facing (the Hellebores are the only exception).
Erin: I can’t just zip away. The right way to do this might require a bunch of coasting, and trading losses with Maurice.
Maurice: That’ll teach me. There’s a difference between aggressive and stupid. I’m lucky I didn’t lose all my escorts for no good reason.
Maurice: At this point, I’m committed to engaging Inazumi and getting my points back that way. If Ikazuchi sticks around, I’ll worry about it later.
If you don’t want to zoom in, Gal’Efors’ inertia marker is the one with the green die on top of it.
Maurice: I was hoping to use Gal’Efors to finish Inazumi, but I’m getting too close to Neptune. If I overthrust to compensate, I lose a shield and can’t launch fighters. It might be worth it — I get the first shot this turn with both Gal’Efors and the station.
The Nightshades’ minefields were perfectly launched last turn, attacking both Gal’Efors and the station. At the end of the drift phase, they’ve done 3 hits to Gal’Efors (but none to the station).
Maurice: Ven’Tril is in trouble. Disabled, and being pulled into Neptune. She’ll be jury-rigging thrust until she gets clear. Until then, she’s a sitting duck.
Erin: I thought about using the Nightshades to draw more fire, but with a one for initiative, they’d be dead for no good reason. Time to leave.
Erin: I thought about disengaging my entire fleet this turn, but saw that Gal’Efors was going to be on the far side of Neptune. Maybe one last turn of shooting at the station, as the light elements will be able to shoot at it on the far side of Encedalus.
Maurice: Ven’Tril’s move was complicated by mines inbound from one direction, and fighters approaching from the other. I ran from the fighters, and used my fighters on the mines.
Erin: Rats. That didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Gal’Efors has targets, and most of my fleet is overthrusting, so can’t jump to warp. [Outside Neptune’s danger zone is jump risky. – ed.] Being in range of Gal’Efors, and behind in the initiative, I order the Aconites to escape.
Ikazuchi is the only Eldar ship left on the board. Erin orders the carrier to warp, and the game ends once the remaining Eldar ordinance finish their attacks.
- Able ships: Gal’Efors (688 points), Ven’Tur (316), 2 Ba’Negva (140).
- Disabled ships: Ven’Tril (158 points).
The Eldar Corsairs:
- Disabling the station (9 hits), 900 points.
- Able ships: Ikazuchi (436 points), 2 Aconites (120 total), 2 Nightshades (118).
Total: Eldar 1564, Mauridians 1302. A difference of 262 points, which is just enough to give Erin a marginal victory.
Erin: That was a hell of a game. I had begun to worry that the Eldar couldn’t win. They’re not designed like any other fleet: their weapons only fire into the forward arc, and their hull ratings are lighter than all the others. They’re fast, too, but (except for the Ven’Tara) the Mauridians matched my thrust ratings.
Maurice: But they are cheap. It allowed you to create two wings of your fleet that were each as weighty as my entire fleet. I dithered about which to engage, when I should have rushed Inazuma. Gun cruisers are really dangerous in a Port Strike.
Erin: And getting one of your escort squadrons butchered didn’t help matters.
Maurice: Oh, yeah. This game shouldn’t have been close, except that you did me a favor by letting me nail your destroyers. That shifted your score by about 600 points, right?
Erin: Yeah. If I’d been paying attention, I wouldn’t have lost Hamanami. It was ’cause I didn’t register the station’s initiative — and after I’d done such a good job with Inazuma’s attack timing in the first place. You probably still would’ve gotten Hayanami. I still haven’t figured how to pull out of that attack run.
One of the new things about this battle is that I tweaked the campaign rules a bit. Quality regresses more slowly, so Gal’Efors and Suzutsuki (the Nightshade squadron’s flagship) were elite this battle; while the Hellebores and one MEF escort group were green. Quality made a big difference: once Maurice decided where Gal’Efors needed to be, it dominated its zone. Similarly, the Nightshades were the most effective escort group we’d seen so far, destroying Ba’Room and actually doing damage with their mines.
(The Eldar are product of Games Workshop, from their currently-discontinued Battlefleet Gothic line. Neptune is a picture from Voyager 2, and credit NASA/JPL. Encedalus is from Cassini, and credit NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.)