Citizens of the Imperium

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jappel October 25th, 2004 05:51 PM

Some nasty RL stuff forced me to put the game on hiatus back in June, and it never restarted. However, I thought there might be interest in a wrap-up from the GM's perspective. The following are from my original messages on the TML over the last week. - John

First of all, I'm glad the players had fun, though as Matt pointed out, the job of CINC wasn't very interesting most of the time.

Second of all, I'm sorry that RL events forced the initial hiatus which has grown into supsension. Part of this was a loss of some of the game data from the latter turns, despite having *three* copies of most of it; a bizarre trifecta of adverse events there I won't trouble you with, other than to mention that one copy appears to have accompanied my previous car to the "auto recycler". The losses consisted mostly of my GM-level files - the actual combat results for the last several turns, my message index, some other files. I *do* have two copies of all game communications and hope, when circumstances permit, to clean up the logs and post them on the game site graciously provided by Mr. Glenn.

Third, while I was able to run the game, it was a blast. I hope to try it again sometime.

The game rules were the standard Fifth Frontier War rules as printed, with the known errata, modified and extended by myself with some input from the players. The rules mods and extensions may be found here:

A little about the tools and process I used. All communication between the players was via e-mail to me. IN fact, until these recent posts, no one but me knew just who filled what position. Everything was fully double-blind to the players. The only real-time information they had was about the system they were currently in. Everything else they knew came from messages from either other PCs or from NPC garrison or squadron commanders. Communications lag was enforced. Two players in the same system could communicate in "real-time" (via me), but otherwise messages propagated at J4 (with a single J6 route for the Imperials and a J5 route for the Zhodani).

A brief note about the couriers. I decided early on not to track individual couriers directly simply to cut down on the housekeeping. Instead "vritual couriers" of a sort were employed. Every PC communication put into the courier net was logged in an index, with an individual file for each fleet of all messages sent. I used a simple spreadsheet for the index and plain text files with ----- separating messages for the fleet comm log (I212log.txt, for example, contained all messages sent by the Imperial 212th fleet). Each turn I checked to see if the message had reached the destination or recipient by simply looking at the origin and the jump-speed of the message, tracing a path on the star map, and seeing if it would have arrived. As some of the fleet commanders discovered, rapidly advancing fleets could easily wind up a jump or two ahead of messages.

Why the speeds I chose? I didn't assume an unlimited supply of max-speed couriers for either side. I based this on my (possibly
incorrect) reading of the stats of the Fleet Couriers in CT Supplement 9, Fighting Ships, which gives the Imperial fleet couriers J4; that formed the base speed. Each CINC was able to choose one fleet which got a virtual pool of max-speed courier ships. I hand-waved the Swordies and Vargr, figuring they would be able to acquire by means fair or foul a few J4 ships for messenger duty.

A note for anyone who contemplates running a similar game: keeping track of the comm traffic is the single most time consuming task for the GM. Nothing else comes close. The combat for a single turn, even a busy one, never took more than an hour, but the handling communications took a minimum of two hours and as many as four for a single turn.

To avoid having to keep the map set up for the months involved, I explored the options and settled on Cyberboard (, a freeware product that fills the same niche as Aide de Camp. Cyberboard is expressly built to facilitate PBEM play; Ghufran Syed adapted the Japanese gamebox file (the virtual map, charts and counters) and I kept the game set up on it. Each turn was saved as a separate file. I didn't use the built-in die roller, relying instead on my trusty ASL six-siders and die glass or the dice bot on the #Lonestar IRC channel.

In the next week I'll try to post the surviving gamebox files for each turn on the game website, so Cyberboard users can load them up and see the GMs-eye view of each turn.

- End Part 1 -

jappel October 25th, 2004 05:51 PM

The player roster consisted of an Imperial CINC located at Rhylanor, a Zhodani CINC located at Cronor, a Sword Worlds CINC who doubled as a fleet commander, a Vargr CINC who doubled as a fleet commander, and a number of Zhodani and Imperial fleet commanders. Here for the first time is the player list:

CINC Andrew Moreton
193rd Fleet Ghufran Syed
212th Fleet Jeff Beeler
213th Fleet Des Barry
214th Fleet Charles Li
TF 17 Keith Grant
1st Prov. Larsen E. Whipsnade

CINC Matt Bond
1st Assault Joe Coyle
2nd Assault Brian Songy
40th Fleet Ben Aaronovitch, later John Doucette
65th Fleet Erik Yocum
68th Fleet "Michael O'Neill"*
14th Colonial Michael aka theSea**

Sword Worlds: Eric Holmberg (CINC and Joyeuse Fleet)

Vargr: Phill Webb (CINC and Uthith Fleet)

* I never did get the real name of this player; he used a friend's internet access and account.

** Can't locate this Michael's full name.

Each fleet commander and the SW and Vargr CINCs were represented by admiral counters from the game. The strategic ratings and for the most part precedence ratings were ignored, but the tactical modifiers did come into play. The Zhodani 15th Colonial fleet (and initially the 14th Colonial), the Imperial 187th fleet, the SW Gram fleet and the Vargr Gireel fleet were all commanded by NPCs, as were any squadrons not organized into fleets and the various troop units & SDB squadrons.

As a GM, I hate to change the rules while a game is in progress, but a couple of situations came up that either a) weren't covered in the printed rules or b) I hadn't thought about before hand. Both were products of the switch from a boardgame with all pieces in plain sight to a limited intelligence, double-blind scenario.

The first instance is disengagement. As written, a fleet which is fully fueled can't disengage if a superior force jumps in-system until at least one round of space combat has occurred. This seemed unreasonable when the tiny 214th fleet found itself in the path of the juggernaut that was the Zhodani Combined Assault Fleet at Lysen. In a traditional boardgame, the Imperial player would be able to see the huge stack of Zhodani counters bearing down and be able to (potentially) get out of the way. Not so here. I added a disengagement before combat rule, allowing a side to disengage by jumping out any squadrons that had already begun the turn fully fuelled. This still allowed the Zhodani to force an engagement a week later at Grant, but gave the Imperials the arguably reasonable option to run like hell when they first encountered the Combined Assault Fleets.

The second had to do with interrogation of prisoners. This came up after the 212th fleet defeated the Vargr "stay-behind" force at Dentus. Jeff argued convincingly that he should be able to elicit some information from the survivors. I didn't create a hard-and-fast rule for this, but decided to allow it. See Jeff's post for the details on what he was able to glean. In retrospect, I think creating a more detailed rule wouldn't be practical for the level of abstraction represented in the game, and that "winging it" was appropriate. YMMV. If I were a more evil GM, or had the situation come up again, I might have indulged in a bit of misinformation. [img]smile.gif[/img]

The one rule that had the most variety of interpretations at the beginning was Refuelling. IMHO, most folks simply didn't read it closely enough and in conjunction with the refuelling table on the player aid card (complicated by the fact that some of the player aids missed inclusion in the FFE reprint book, though they're on the FFE website for download). Some missed the requirement for system control to refuel anywhere but at a gas giant, or misunderstood what was needed for system control. This had big implications initially for the Vargr as Phill related.

Next, my take on the initial plans of the combatants.

- End Part 2 -

jappel October 25th, 2004 05:52 PM

Pre-war planning and deployments

[Sidebar: I briefly toyed with revised victory conditions which would have indexed population and TL, rather than the primitive "VP=TL, or TLx2 for capitals", but bogged down in the process of figuring out what would be balanced VP totals so I decided to stick with the written victory conditions. If I did it again, I'd definitely take the time to redo the VC.]

In FFW, deployment occurs as follows:

Zhodani deploys guerrillas and selects secret base
Imperials deploy ground & space units
Zhodani deploy remaining ground & space units

There's a goodly number of mandated deployments, i.e. the named colonial squadrons. Still, both sides have a lot of latitude in how to setup; it's just the Imperials have so few units with which to exercise that freedom...

The Imperials were much more active in the pre-war planning phase despite there being fewer of them than the Zhos initially (Larsen & Keith joined the game in progress). Numerous thoughts and operational studies were thrown about. In the end, the Imperial strategy that emerged was thus:

- 214th Fleet to begin at Jewell and delay or harass the Zhodani along that avenue of attack.
- 212th Fleet to begin at Efate and to move coreward quickly in an effort to quickly eliminate the Vargr.
- 213th Fleet to begin at Regina and protect against the possible Zhodani surprise attack through the neutral zone; otherwise to assist 212th or 214th Fleet. 213th got three scout squadrons with which to agressively patrol for approaching enemies.
- 193rd Fleet to delay the Sword Worlders and protect Lanth.

All Imperial units were ordered to preserve their forces. No heroic stands here, run to live another day, link up with the reinforcements and then slug it out.

This plan stuck even after the Zhodani deployed the mandatory guerrilla units at Efate and Ruie but placed the remaining six at Porozlo, deep in the Imperial rear.

Imperial ground troops were scattered about. The various mercenary units were placed in likely locations for the Zhodani secret base or to bolster defenses on key worlds. (Andrew has posted his deployments
elsewhere.) One key move was putting two Imperial TL 15 brigades at Lanth.

There was an expectation that the border "fortress worlds" of Jewell, Efate and Vilis would offer prolonged resistance. As we'll see, this was not the case (and IMHO will never happen against a competent Zhodani
opponent) unless you measure "prolonged" as four turns, which is how long Efate and Jewell held out. More on that later.

With all respect to Larsen, his comparing the 212th Fleet's move to coreward to Halsey at Leyte doesn't hold water. First, this move was part of the original Imperial strategy: Kill the Vargr fast and take them out of the war. Second, the disparity in forces meant that 212th had no chance against any serious Zhodani attack; anything bigger than Efate's supply of TL 13 SDBs and surface battalions could handle would make short work of the 212th.

Examining the Imperial OOB, there simply aren't a lot of ships to go around initially. The only Imperial force that was roughly equally matched for it's opposition was the 212th, which lined up pretty well against the Vargr.

Across the borders, planning the Zhodani onslaught fell primarily to Matt, with Eric and Phill making their complimentary plans for the Swordies and Vargr respectively. After a couple of initial plans that were found to violate the Surprise Attack rule, refuelling misreads or have other flaws, the Zhodani plan evolved into the following:

- A major thrust down the Jewell-Lysen-Grant-Efate path by the Combined Assault Fleet (1st & 2nd Assault), 70+ factors of space combat power and oodles of ground troops. First objective: Efate, then turn rimward towards Regina.

- A second major thrust across Vilis and Lanth subsectors by the 68th and 40th Fleets. 68th utilized the Surprise Attack rule to being at Quar (or is it Quare?) with a J4 path through Frenzie ending in Lanth. 40th Fleet was to reduce Vilis and then head for Lanth, mopping up.

- 65th Fleet was assigned to capture Jewell after the Assault Fleets passed through, and to reduce the Jewell Cluster.

- 14th Colonial was given the center with the J3-capable colonial ships and assigned to cut a path through the Neutral Zone to Regina.

- 15th Colonial, with the J2 colonial ships, was assigned to mopping up neutral worlds in Cronor and Jewell subsectors, eventually linking up with the 65th.

After achieving their initial objectives, the various fleets were to begin securing the worlds around them. The Zhodani had a list of follow-up targets to be seized as operational circumstances permitted.

The Vargr plan was simple - BatRons, tanker and assault carrier loaded with troops to Dentus while the cruisers raided to trailing. (Phill misread the refuelling rules, which led to some difficulties later.)

I allowed the Sword Worlders to begin with a fleet in the reinforcement box in the interests of getting them into the game faster. Eric dispatched the Gram Fleet and most of his troops toward Vilis with an eye towards helping the Zhodani take that world. He loaded up his Joyeuse Fleet and rammed straight towards Lanth with the intent of getting behind the 193rd fleet.

The Imperials decided to attach the pool of virtual J6 couriers to the 214th Fleet, originally based at Jewell. The Zhodani gave the jump 5 pool to the 1st Assault fleet. In retrospect, the Imperials might have been better served to put the J6 couriers with the 193rd - it's a surprisingly long way at J4 from the spinward border to Rhylanor.

The Zhodani pre-war intelligence identified the locations of the fleets and the general numbers and types of squadrons assigned to them, for
example: "193rd Fleet: Based at Lanth. Strength appears to be 2 cruiser squadrons augmented by scout forces." For troop units, they got fairly specific information on worlds where they had guerrillas or the secret base (Juindy was chosen), more general information at major worlds or worlds close to the borders, and no information about small units stationed at minor worlds. This was an attempt to simulate the relative difficulty of the Zhodani getting reliable intelligence from the Imperial interior - easy where they had people on the ground, more difficult but possible close to the border or where large or transient populations made hiding agents easier, with areas of no data.

The Imperials got some intelligence after the Zhodanis deployed. It was much less specific; this was my nod to the canonical lack of preparation on the Imperial side, plus their lack of mind-raping psionic intelligence adepts (at least officially). Here's an example of what they got: "1st Assault Fleet: based at Chwistyoch. Powerful force with many BatRons and CruRons. 2 Assault Carrier Squadrons carrying heavy armored forces. A Tanker squadron may also be with this force."

The Zhodani have the advantage both in numbers and initiative in the beginning of the game. They know where they're going and what they plan to do, and have the forces to achieve their objectives if they're smart.

Concentration of force is a key to victory in warfare, and the Zhodani had it. The entire at-start Imperial OOB with discretionary deployment, if combined, would have been little more than a speed bump for the Combined assault Fleets, and would have been outnumbered by almost any of the Zhodani fleets. Divided as they were, they were little more than bug splats, as events would show...

Next: The Jewell-Regina Theater of Operations

- End Part 3 -

jappel October 25th, 2004 05:52 PM

The War in the Jewell-Regina Theater

"Schwerpunkt" must be a Zhodani word. [img]smile.gif[/img]

The Zhodani 1st and 2nd Assault Fleets combined to form the spearhead of the Zhodani advance. At start, the two fleets combined had eight BatRons, six CruRons, two scout squadrons, two tanker squadrons and four assault squadrons. 72 spcae combat factors, 58 bombardment factors, and with the tankers capable of moving the entire force at "0 turns refuelling" as long as the system had a gas giant.

Crammed aboard the ships were two grav tank armies, a lift infantry army, two grav tank corps, an armored lift cavalry corps, four lift infantry corps, the Guards lift infantry corps, two Guards armored lift infantry divisions, two Guards jump troop divisions and a standard jump troop division.

Whew! That's more firepower than the entire Imperial at-start OOB.

This juggernaut steamrollered it's way across the subsectors, brushing aside the IN and crushing the vaunted fortress world of Efate. Had the game continued, Regina would have quickly fallen as well. Matt, the Zhodani CINC, loaded his big gun and pointed it straight at the heart of the Imperial defenses.

>From the pre-war intelligence assessment, the Imperials knew that the
1st Assault was at Chwistyoch with an obvious destination of Jewell. Since I allowed the Zhodani to use the base at Narval for at-start deployment (analogous to Quar and Zircon for the Imperials) the 2nd Assault was there pointed the same way - but the Imperials only had vague information about the 2nd Assault's composition and no clue about it's current location.

Meanwhile, the 65th Fleet was primed to attack the Jewell Cluster, with 15th Colonial (commanded by an NPC) assigned to mopping up neutral worlds in Cronor and Jewell subsectors. The 14th Colonial is set on a tour of the neutral zone with stops at Quar & Zircon; eventual destination is Regina.

On the Imperial side, the bulk of their slim defenses were assigned to these two subsectors. 214th Fleet was based at Jewell and bolstered the Colonial squadrons there with a single CruRon and two scout squadrons. 213th Fleet at Regina got two CruRons, the Regina colonial squadrons, three scout squadrons to patrol the neutral zone and the Extolay colonial CruRon, if the Fleet would move to "pick it up". The big guns were concentrated at Efate: both regular BatRons, a CruRon, the Efate colonial units, along with the mandated assault carrier. 212th Fleet was also granted operational control of the Feri, Wochiers and Alell colonial squadrons, as well as some additional ground units.

Poised just to coreward lay the Vargr. The Uthith fleet contained the BatRons, one CruRon, the tanker and a fully-loaded assault carrier; the remaining cruisers comprised the Gireel Fleet with a mission to raid and stir up trouble. Perfect typecasting for the Vargr!

Turn 1

1st & 2nd Assault Fleets converge at Jewell
65 Fleet jumps to Esalin
15th Colonial jumps to Whenge
14th Colonial jumps to Atsa

Uthith Fleet jumps to Dentus
Gireel Fleet jumps to Yorbund

212th Fleet jumps to Feri, picks up Feri corps & squadron
214th Fleet jumps to Lysen
213th Fleet holds at Regina, dispatches scout squadrons on recon

The 214th fleet clears out before the hammer falls on Jewell. The combined assault fleets take pot-shots in passing at the SDBs and ground forces and refuel. 65th Fleet is able to squash opposition at Esalin without problem; a single TL 14 division does the trick. Similarly, the 15th Colonial seizes Whenge. The 14th Colonial picks up the Atsa colonial troops.

The 212th Fleet loads up all the mobile troop units it can carry and heads to Feri to snag some more enroute to hunting the Vargr.

Speaking of the Vargr, the Uthith Fleet drops an entire field army on a single Imperial Marine Regiment, the 3277th, at Dentus - which manages to not only survive, but inflicts casualties! (The dice exercised both ends of the bell curve here - the Vargr rolled a 12, and the Marines a
2.) The two-TL disparity between the TL 15 Marines and the TL 13 Vargr makes the difference. This is one of those small events that can make a big difference in wartime - by holding out, the Marines prevent the Vargr from refuelling in this system with no gas giant.

The Gireel Fleet at Yorbund starts to bomb the defense battalions. However, they're stuck in place - no gas giant, no ground troops to seize the surface, so they can never control the system even if they bomb the defenders into the stone age. Enough fuel is siphoned off to fill a courier and dispatch it to Dentus requesting help from the Uthith Fleet.

Turn 2

1st & 2nd Assault jump to Lysen
65th Fleet refuels at Jewell
15th Colonial refuels at Whenge
14th Colonial jumps to Ninjar

214th Fleet holds at Lysen
212th Fleet jumps to Boughene
213th Fleet holds at Regina

Gireel Fleet holds at Yorbund
Uthith Fleet holds at Dentus

The Zhodani Assault Fleets pop into Lysen and find the 214th Fleet. This is the situation that prompts me to write the "disengagement before combat" rule that permits squadrons who began the turn fueled to jump out before the battle, rather than requiring them to survive a round of combat. The Zhodani drop a division of Jump troops at Lysen to secure it against any Imperial counter-moves. 214th Fleet takes the opportunity to jump out to Grant - unfortunately, square in the Zhodani's path.

The 14th Colonial garrisons Ninjar.

Upon arriving at Boughene, the 212th Fleet learns of the Vargr presence at Dentus. Tallyho! The Feri squadron doesn't have the legs for the jump and is left to garrison Boughene.

The 3277th Marines finally succumb under a pile fo furry bodies, but manage to inflict a total of 20% casualties on the Vargr 101 field army before going down. Yes, the Vargr outnubmered the Imperials 100:1 at the outset, and suffered 20 casualties for every Imperial killed... But this allows the Vargr to start refuelling on Turn 3. At Yorbund, the Vargr continue to bomb the hapless defense battalions.

Turn 3

1st & 2nd Assault Fleets jump to Grant
65th Fleet jumps to Jewell
14th Colonial jumps to Quar
15th Colonial jumps to Nerewhon

Uthith Fleet refuels at Dentus
Gireel Fleet holds at Yorbund

212th Fleet jumps to Dentus
214th Fleet holds at Grant
213th Fleet holds at Regina

Space combat!

214th Fleet gets a live-fire demonstration, courtesy the Zhodani Consular Navy. The Zhos inflict 11 damage points on the Imperial Force inflicting 1 point on the Zhodani - hardly a worthwile exchange! The Jewell BatRon and CruRon are destroyed; the remaining IN CruRon and a scout squadron on patrol from Regina disengage by jumping to Forboldn.

Meanwhile, a much more equitable battle occurs at Dentus. The Imperials have three BatRons, two CruRons and the Assault Carrier. The Vargr have two BatRons, a CruRon, the tankers and the assault carrier. The battle goes for several rounds, but in the end the Vargr evacuate their field army from the planet and leave a division to hold. The losses in space are pretty equal - the Vargr lose the tanker and the CruRon, while the Imperials lose both CruRons. The Vargr disengage to Yorbund to rescue their beleagured Gireel fleet. The Imperials extract revenge by landing the 437th Armored Cavalry Corps which expunges the TL-12 Vargr cavalry
division* effortlessly.

* What sort of mounts does a non-armored Vargr cavalry unit use, anyway? Ponis? ;)

[Sidebar - seems to me this would make a neat Power Projection: Fleet scenario. Anyone have some suitable Vargr ship stats?]

The 65th Fleet begins the reduction of Jewell - but the commander first leaves his assualt carrier with it's loaded troops at Esalin. A risky move, because if the 214th Fleet had chosen to duck away from the Assault fleets and dance around the cluster, they could have whacked a large number of Zhodani for free.

The SDBs are engaged and damaged, but not destroyed. Surface bombardment begins in earnest. The commander of the 65th orders his forces to continue reducing the defenses, boards a cruiser and jumps back to Esalin to collect his ground troops.

15th Colonial grabs Nerewhon. The 14th Colonial attacks Quar and seizes the surface, but the lone SDB escapes destruction.

Turn 4

1st & 2nd Assault jump to Efate
65th Fleet - fleet at Jewell, commander to Esalin
15th Colonial refuells at Nerewhon
14th Colonial holds at Quar

Uthith and Gireel Fleets at Yorbund


212th Fleet refuels at Dentus
213th Fleet holds at Regina
214th Fleet refuels at Forboldn

The 14th Colonial can't manage to take out the SDB at Quar, try as they might.

The Zhodani Assault Fleets arrive at Efate. The SDBs are passive but take damage. Per instructions, the Ine Givar switch to overt mode. The Zhos bomb the defense battalions, inflicting 40% casualties and then land EVERY SINGLE GROUND UNIT. I think the planet's orbit is shifted.

The defenders die, but die hard, taking out the Zhodani 2nd Guards Division and damaging the Zhodani 4th Guards. (The Imperial CINC had issued standing orders making Guards units priority targets, with elite forces right behind. A good move IMHO since these units can't be
replaced.) The Zhodani control the surface but don't control the system yet.

The 65th Fleet elements at Jewell destroy the SDBs and continue bombing the surface units. Gee, if they had brought their assault carrier with them, they could land troops!

The Vargr seize Yorbund.

Turn 5

1st & 2nd Assault hold at Efate
65th Fleet continues to reduce Jewell
14th Colonial holds at Quar
15th Colonial jumps to Algebaster

Combined fleets refuel at Yorbund

212th Fleet jumps to Balent
213th Fleet holds at Regina
214th Fleet jumps to Regina

The Zhodani assault fleets continue hammering the Efate SDBs.

The 65th Fleet forces all but wipe out the Jewell ground forces, taking some losses in return.

Meanwhile, 212th Fleet capitalizes on information from Vargr prisoners and attacks the troop concentration at Balent. A major surface fight begins.

The 213th and 214th Fleets learn of the Vargr incursion and that 212th Fleet is responding. They also get the first word of Zhodani forces in Vilis subsector at Frenzie which tentatively names the attackers as the 68th Fleet. The same turn a message arrives from Denotam which doesn't identify the fleet, but it happens to be the same 68th Fleet arriving at that system; the impact of the astrography of the region on message traffic!

The 14th Colonial manages to take out the SDB at Quar and prepares to continue it's push to Regina.

- To be continued in Part 5 -

jappel October 25th, 2004 05:53 PM

The continued story of the war in the coreward subsectors.

Turn 6

1st & 2nd Assault hold at Efate
65th Fleet holds at Jewell
15th Colonial refuels at Algebaster
14th Colonial jumps to Zircon

Combined fleets jump to Shionthy

212th Fleet splits - ground and BatRons at Balent, Assault Carrier jumps to Gireel 213th & 214th Fleets hold at Regina TF 17 and 1st Provisional begin moving forward

At Efate, the SDBs continue to hold out, though they're taking losses each turn.

At Jewell, the 65th Fleet manages to wipe out the last defenders. Plans are made to begin securing the rest of the cluster.

The 14th Colonial seizes Zircon quickly. The Neutral Zone Tour is back on track.

The defense battalions in Shionthy surrender immediately (vacumm world,
>1 enemy attack factor unopposed in system). I forbid Phill from giving
them a vacumm bath. [img]smile.gif[/img]

The 212th Fleet arrives at Gireel and finds no opposition. A Marine regiment is dropped on-planet to act as a garrison.

The ground battle on Balent sees some of the Vargr units destroyed, with the Imperials taking casualties in their smaller units. The BatRons overhead assist with bombardments.

The 213th and 214th Fleets at Regina get more bad news. News arrives of the Zhodani attack on Efate, the Battle of Dentus between the 212th and the Vargr, and word from the 193rd Fleet way down by the SW border of his intent (more on that in the Rimward sectors write-up to come). The commanders discuss this and beyond planning to stick together when they go don't make concrete plans.

Meanwhile, the reinforcements from the Imperial Rimward Forces (all J4 colonial units) enter the fray. The Imperial CINC has divided up what would be a fairly powerful force into three detachments - the 1st Provisional, TF 17 and the 187th Fleet. TF 17 and 1st Provisional are dispatched to the Regina theater to bolster the defenses there. They jump to Vreifeberger.

[Sidebar - at this point the Imperial CINC hadn't learned the extent of the Zhodani & SW operations in Vilis and Lanth subsectors. He'd gotten word of the size of the combined Assault Fleets and only just learned of the Vargr presence at Dentus. Still, in my opinion, keeping those units together in one or perhaps two fleets would have been a better move; looking at the Zhodani OOB, he should have realized he needed to build at least one strong force to engage the enemy. -John]

Turn 7

1st & 2nd Assault complete reduction of Efate
65th Fleet jumps to Ruby
14th Colonial refuels at Zircon
15th Colonial jumps to Narval

Combined fleets jump to Focaline

212th fleet - elements at Balent continue to engage, Assault Carrier to Uthith 213th & 214th Fleets hold at Regina TF 17 refuels at Vreifeberger 1st Provisional jumps to Keanu

The last Efate SDBs are silenced this turn. The inital objective of the Zhodani combined assault fleets is complete. The commanders decide to leave teh Ine Givar in charge of the planet and begin charting a course for Regina.

The 65th Fleet seizes Ruby. The 15th Colonial takes Narval, the last neutral world in the area.

The Vargr jump to Focaline. They wipe the local defense battalions out but run into trouble with the high-tech mercenary battalion Epsilon (TL16).

Meanwhile, the Vargr homeworlds have fallen to the Imperials. The 212th Fleet drops an infantry regiment at Uthith, while the other 212th fleet elements wipe out the last ground units on Balent.

The commanders of the 213th and 214th decide it's time to depart Regina.

Turn 8

1st & 2nd Assault jump to Knorbes
65th Fleet jumps to Emerald
14th Colonial jumps to Tremous Dex
15th Colonial refuels at Narval

Combined fleets hold at Focaline

212th Fleet reassembles at Balent
213th and 214th Fleet jump to Ruie
TF 17 jumps to K'Kirka
1st Provisional jumps to Yori

The Zhodani juggernaut starts down the pipe towards Regina, taking time as Brian put it to "tour the Ancients sites on Knorbes".

65th Fleet is able to seize Emerald without problem. Likewise, the 14th Colonial seizes Tremous Dex.

The Big Bad Wol- I mean, the Vargr, manage to knock out the mercs and capture Focaline. In typical Vargr fashion they don't plan to remain.

The 212th Fleet reassembles at Balent and prepares to return to Imperial space.

213th and 214th Fleet slip out of Regina to Ruie. They plan to jump to Yori where they will just miss the 1st Provisional Fleet - but they'll have a copy of his plans at that point and will be able to push to link up.

TF 17 reaches K'Kirka.

Word reaches both the reinforcing fleets of the attack on Efate, as well as the early incursions into Vilis subsector. As Larsen puts it in his message to me:
"Sweet Sufferin' Santanocheev! I was right and I HATE being right!

Efate is doomed, my 4 squadrons won't be able to do squat against that armada...

Must think...

You must be laughing yuor[sic] tuckus off!"


That was the last turn executed. Some nasty RL stuff forced me to put the game on hold at that point, and despite good intentions it never resumed.

Next message will detail the operations in the Vilis, Lanth and Sword Worlds sectors!

The Oz October 26th, 2004 09:21 AM

Your comment about how long a high-tech, high-pop world can hold out under attack interests me. It agrees with my own experience (when I play FFW as the Zhodani, I make sure Jewell never holds out more than two or three turns) but this conflicts with how long the JTAS tells us Jewell held out in the "actual" war.

I think what's missing are the planetary defenses, in particular the deep meson gun sites. Perhaps an additional rule is needed to include those weapons.

I personally like the idea of the "planetary siege" where a world can hold out for a long time, awaiting rescue from friendly fleets while tying down substantial enemy forces. That is the Imperial strategy as described in Supp. #9.

PBI October 27th, 2004 12:39 AM


Originally posted by The Oz:
Your comment about how long a high-tech, high-pop world can hold out under attack interests me. It agrees with my own experience (when I play FFW as the Zhodani, I make sure Jewell never holds out more than two or three turns) but this conflicts with how long the JTAS tells us Jewell held out in the "actual" war.

I think what's missing are the planetary defenses, in particular the deep meson gun sites. Perhaps an additional rule is needed to include those weapons.

I personally like the idea of the "planetary siege" where a world can hold out for a long time, awaiting rescue from friendly fleets while tying down substantial enemy forces. That is the Imperial strategy as described in Supp. #9.

I think you're reading too much into the JTAS fiction, Oz. Since it's based purely on what the author thought would make a good story, when the situation is gamed out, the simulation of 'fake history' often doesn't mesh with the text.

As an aside, I've seen Jewell hold out for 5 or 6 turns with bad rolls and/or a Zhodani gamble based on skirting the edge of economy of force deployments.

theSea October 28th, 2004 10:51 AM


Originally posted by jappel:
14th Colonial Michael aka theSea**

** Can't locate this Michael's full name.

Michael Ambruso - Bethlehem CT :D


Originally posted by jappel:
The 14th Colonial can't manage to take out the SDB at Quar, try as they might.
I remember that guy - I had three intendant adepts probing that gas giant for a week before we found him... [img]graemlins/toast.gif[/img]

The Oz October 28th, 2004 01:04 PM


Originally posted by PBI:
I think you're reading too much into the JTAS fiction, Oz. Since it's based purely on what the author thought would make a good story, when the situation is gamed out, the simulation of 'fake history' often doesn't mesh with the text.

As an aside, I've seen Jewell hold out for 5 or 6 turns with bad rolls and/or a Zhodani gamble based on skirting the edge of economy of force deployments.

I know not to read too much into the fiction, I just like the idea of planetary sieges. Also, it seems strange to me that a fleet in a system with friendly SDBs will fight their own battle without any help from the SDBs.

I am working up a set of house rules for FFW that would include planetary deep meson guns, and allow a defending fleet to fight in cooperation with those guns and/or with any system SDBs.

I also think a rule for "directed damage" is called for, allowing a player to force the destruction of certain enemy units (assault carriers, tankers) at some (yet undetermined) expense.

The goal of all this is to make it harder to take high-tech worlds populated by billions of people that have serious defenses.

JeffreyAllanBeeler November 5th, 2004 06:20 PM

The other thing is SDB's cannot hide as well in the game as they do in canon.

You can attrit SDB's in the game so they do not last until you want to use them.

I think one way to make fortress worlds would be to use an order of battle modelled on the one in Ground Forces with bigger fleets too.

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