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Old November 8th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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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.
You can turn that argument around 180 degrees and say that the boardgame has some unrealistic elements that doesn't match 'reality' for the sake of making it a balanced game.

Incidentally, Jewell should have forces 6 times greater than those portrayed in the game. Why? Because when FFW was published GDW hadn't come up with the population multiplier yet, which means that all planetary forces were computed as if their pop multipliers were 1.

Of course, that means that the Imperial and Zhodani forces should be multiplied too (since they're presumably based on tax revenues calculated as if the worlds all had pop multipliers of 1). The question is, how much more? If you believe that all pop A worlds have multipliers distributed evenly from 1 to 9 and all pay proportional taxes, then they should be 5 times higher. Other assumptions may allow you to reduce the figures. Personally I prefer to say a factor 3, but I'm aware that my justification is shaky (Basically I don't think worlds with 90 billion people should be as plentiful as worlds with 10 billion people).

[I]"It also has to make sense."[/I]
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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In prior messages, I've related the events in the coreward subsectors
(Jewell, Regina and Aramis). Time to shine the light on what happened
in Vilis, Lanth, and Sword Worlds subsectors.

To recap briefly: the Imperials had only committed one fleet, the 193rd,
to this area of operations. Initially based at Lanth, 193rd Fleet was
given these orders from the Imperial CINC:

"To stage an aggressive mobile defense against the Sword world forces
until reinforced by Colonial units when you are to mount a counter
offensive against the Sword worlds. Priority is to prevent Sword world
forces crossing the rift towards Rhylanor and the Spinward main."

To perform this mission, 193rd got two cruiser squadrons and two scout
squadrons. A number of ground units were deployed in the area, most
notably two full Imperial Army brigades at Lanth, along with two
huscarle battalions and a third Army brigade at Saurus.

Across the borders, the Zhodani had assembled a J4 fleet, the 68th,
consisting to two BatRons and eight CruRons, with two grav tank
divisions, a grav tank regiment and a lift infantry regiment packed
aboard. Starting at Quare (utilising the Surprise Attack rule), it's
targets were Frenzie, Denotam, Ghandi and Lanth.

As a follow-on force, the 40th Fleet was initially based at Querion and
consisted of 8 BatRons and an assault carrier squadron. The landing
forces consisted of a lift infantry field army, a lift infantry corps, a
grav tank division, a grav armored infantry division, a lift cavalry
division, and two lift infantry divisions. 40th fleet's initial target
was Vilis via Quare and Frenzie, with orders to continue on to Lanth
once Vilis was secure. Future operations were to be coordinated with
the Sword Worlders and 68th Fleet.

Last but not least, the Swordies. I permitted the Sword Worlders to
begin the game with a fleet in the reinforcement box in order to permit
them to get into the game more quickly. Eric, the SW commander, brought
in all of his reinforcements on Turn 1 with a plan to divide them into
two fleets: one aimed at Vilis and the other at Lanth. The Gram Fleet
under an NPC admiral was aimed at Vilis with SW BatRons 1-4, two CruRons
and both Swordie assault carriers and all the ground troops. The
Joyeuse Fleet, commanded by Eric personally, consisted of the J3 units -
two BatRons, three CruRons and a tanker.

Turn 1

193rd Fleet jumped to Tavonni looking for hostiles, dispatching a scout
squadron to Saurus to keep watch there. No contact.

68th Fleet jumps into Frenzie, which, being a vacumm world, falls
immediately. The commander elects to garrison it with his lift infantry
regiment even after I point out that the planet will fall immediately if
an Imperial unit with 1 attack factor jumps in. <shrug> He begins

The 40th Fleet seizes Quare, another vacumm world, but chooses to deploy
a squadron as garrison.

The Sword Worlds units jump into Gram and reorganize.

Overall, no real surprises. The Impies at Frenzie manage to get word of
the attack out, but I don't think anyone realized just how loooonnnngggg
it would take for word to get back to anyone outside the immediate area.

Turn 2

193rd Fleet leaves it's remaining scout squadron at Tavonni as a
tripwire and jumps to Saurus, looking for the bad guys. It doesn't find
them (yet), as the Zhodani are busy refuelling, and the Swordies are at
Gungnir. Still no contact.

The commander of the 193rd decides that based on the pre-war
intelligence assessment that hostilities are imminent, he's justified in
jumping into Sword World space, even though he doesn't know that war has
actually started. For good or ill I decide to permit this.

[In retrospect, this is a decision I don't feel good about; I permitted
meta-game knowledge to influence in-game decisions. Events would show
that this might not have been the best Imperial move, in any case.]

Turn 3

The 193rd Fleet arrives at Mjolnir and discovers the Gram Fleet there,
which has just jumped in itself. Shots are exchanged! Both sides wind
up with a damaged CruRon; the Imerpials disengage to Saurus. The Gram
Fleet detaches the damaged squadron, as it's only jump-1 now and can't
keep up.

Meanwhile, the Joyeuse Fleet arrives at Tavonni. The Imperial scouts
there scurry out to Saurus as well to notify the Fleet, in keeping with
their pre-designated orders.

The Zhodani 40th Fleet reaches Frenzie. It picks up the lift infantry
regiment left by 68th Fleet and detaches a squadron as garrison.

Meanwhile, the 68th Fleet seizes Denotam. As previously reported, this
looks like a move towards the Regina area; I don't know if Matt, the
Zhodani commander, intended this to be a feint or not.

Turn 4

WHAM! The hammer falls on Vilis. Both the Gram Fleet and the Zhodani
40th Fleet arrive and begin pounding the SDBs. The SDBs manage to take
out a Sword World CruRon before going down. [Note: I was following the
Imperial CINC instructions to have the SDBs active if they had a 2/3rds
chance of inflicting casualties unless countermanded by the fleet
commanders.] Surface bombardment commences with the integral defense
battalions getting hammered for 40% casualties.

The Joyeuse Fleet arrives at Lanth. With weak bombardment strength and
no surface troops, the Swordies can't do much more than plink at the two
TL 15 brigades on the surface. However, this has key strategic
implications, as it cuts the Imperial lines of communications for
several turns and forces messages to Rhylanor to take a much longer

The 193rd Fleet gets word at Saurus of the SW presence last turn at
Tavonni, as well as the Zhodani attack on Frenzie on Turn 1. A report
from Regina indicating no contact. A scout squadron is dispatched back
to Mjolnir to see if the Gram Fleet is there or has moved on.

Meanwhile, the 68th Fleet refuels at Denotam and prepares for it's next

Turn 5

The Zhodani 68th Fleet seizes Ghandi; again, the questionable decision
to leave a troop garrison on a vacumm world rather than detaching a

The Zhodani 40th Fleet and the SW Gram Fleet continue to pound the
defense battalions at Vilis. They've now taken 60% casualties, but the
40th Fleet commander holds off on the assault, preferring to continue
softening up the defenders.

The SW Joyeuse Fleet plinks away at the defending Imperial brigades at
Lanth with no effect.

193rd Fleet remains at Saurus licking it's wounds. Word arrives of the
SW presence at Lanth. The reaction? Load up a battalion of Huscarles
and jump back into SW space at Mjolnir...

Turn 6

Vilis falls. After another punishing round of bombardment, the entire
SW troop contingent lands and wipes out the remaining defenders.

The SW Joyeuse fleet has another ineffectual round of bombardment
against the Imperial brigades at Lanth. If you've got to be a target,
it's good to be TL 15.

The Zhodani 68th Fleet refuels and prepares to jump to Lanth. Those
Imperials may feel a bit less cocky once that fleet arrives overhead
with the two armored divisions it's packing.

193rd Fleet jumps to Mjolnir, chases off the detached and damaged SW
CruRon and drops a Huscarle battalion to seize the planet.

The Imperial 187th Fleet enters the fray! Commanded by an NPC, though.
It's composed of three BatRons, three CruRons, and two assault carrier
squadrons packing two colonial field armies, two colonial corps and four
brigades. It's path is Ivando - D'Ganzio - Lanth...

Turn 7

The Zhodani 40th Fleet and SW Gram Fleet refuel at Vilis. A SW force is
left in place to garrison.

The Imperial 193rd Fleet jumps back to Saurus and learns of the 214th's
encounter with the Zhodani at Lysen and the 214th's retreat to Grant.
Another Huscarle battalion is loaded up for a return to SW space.

The Imperial 187th arrives at D'Ganzio.

The Zhodani 68th Fleet reinforces the Joyuese Fleet at Lanth. The
Imperials once again shrug off the bombardment even with the greater
firepower provided by the Zhodani (that pesky +2 modifier for being TL
15, and the die roll was a 6). However, the Zhos land the elite 1st
Armored Division which manages to inflict 30% casualties on one Imperial
brigade; the Imperial counter-attack is fruitless.

This is a big deal. By holding out this turn, the 187th fleet will be
able to use the naval base facilities to refuel and will have the option
to disengage after a round of combat (if need be) when they arrive next
turn. However, the Zhodani and Sword Worlders can only refuel four
squadrons from the Swordie tanker. Good thing they out-gun the 187th.

Speaking of the 187th, they arrive at D'Ganzio and prepare to jump into
what looks to be an interesting match-up...

Turn 8

The 40th fleet jumps to Ficant. Bombardment doesn't scratch the
Huscarle battalion or mercenary battalion Alpha which garrison the
world. However, the overwhelming ground assault eliminates the
Huscarles and reduces merc Alpha by 80%. The speed-bump effect slows
the Zhodani down by a turn, delaying the link-up at Lanth until turn 10
at the earliest.

The Imperial 193rd jumps to Gungnir. The defenders are wiped out and
the planet garrisoned with a Huscarle battalion. The Swordies are down
two planets.

The Gram Fleet did not have orders for operations following the seizure
of Vilis. It appears that it remained at Vilis, having requested new
orders from Lanth (and having sent along the report of the Imperial

On to the climax for the rimward sectors: the Battle of Lanth. The
Outworld forces outgun the 187th and it shows; the exchange is 3 damage
factors to the Zho/Sword Worldes and 8 on the Imperials. One Zhodani
CruRon is damaged while two of the Imperial CruRons are damaged. The
Imperials disengage, but because of the turn sequencing could not unload
their troop reinforcements at Lanth. Per the orders from the CINC to
the NPC commanding the 187th, the Imperials disengage to D'Ganzio.

On the ground, the Zhodani successfully destroy one Imperial brigade.
The counterattack manages to ding the elite armored unit for 10%.

The game ended here.

GM Assessment on the Rimward Theater

The Zhodani plunged a jump-4 dagger straight into the heart of the
Imperial defenses. Coupled with the Sword Worlder presence on Turn 4
which greatly impeded Imperial communications, this resulted in the
effective amputation of the spinward areas of Lanth and much of Vilis.
Throw in the added benefit of looking like a strike to Regina (from the
initial reports showing progress from Frenzie to Denotam) and this looks
like one of the smarter moves of the game.

Vilis getting crushed on Turn 6 shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
There's no way that either of the more forward "fortress worlds" of
Jewell and Vilis can hold out for more than a few weeks against a
determined Zhodani assault. There simply isn't enough firepower in the
Imperial OOB to prevent this; the Zhodani can land _field armies_ while
the best Imperial units that can be placed on those worlds are brigades.
We've already discussed the gross disparity in naval strength.

I really don't know what the commander of the 193rd was thinking. It's
worth noting that by turn 7 he had the best intelligence on the Imperial
side of where the bulk of the Outworld fleets were, or at least had been
recently: he had reports on the Zhodani 40th, 68th, 1st & 2nd Assault as
well as the Sword Worlders. Obviously, with a pair of cruiser squadrons
he wasn't going to go head-to-head with most of these forces. But he
had a pretty good odds against the SW Joyeuse Fleet, and when that
appeared at Tavonni it could only have one target: Lanth. IMHO he
should have headed there. In the event withdrawl was needed, he could
fall back to D'Ganzio and call for help. (The pregame discussions had
mentioned significantly reinforcing the 193rd with the colonial forces.)
Of course, by that point he had a damaged CruRon from his initial foray
(which as I mentioned that in retrospect I regret permitting).

I view the seizure of Mjolnir and Gungnir as being a much less
well-considered move than the similar operations by 212th Fleet against
the Vargr. 21th Fleet wiped out the bulk of the Vargr ground forces at
Balent and had the strength to make at least a decent fight against the
Vargr fleet should it come home to retake their worlds. In a worst case
it's ground forces could easily have resisted the Vargr indefinitely.
The two Huscarle battalions dropped into Sword Worlds space were
irreplaceable units very subject to destruction. It's not unreasonable
to think that the Gram Fleet would have been dispatched homeworld to
check things out and crushed them.

I also don't understand why the Imperial CINC sent an NPC to command the
reinforcement fleet. This put five PCs with a paltry number of ships in
the Regina area, but only one PC to cover the whole rimward front.

Concentration of force was mentioned earlier. Imagine that the entire
colonial force under the best Imperial reinforcement admiral had arrived
at Lanth on Turn 8... It would have likely been a major slugfest as the
Zhodani and Swordies had very limited withdrawl options. It's entirely
possible the Imperials would have been victorious although bloodied;
they could then have deposited that massive ground contingent and made
taking Lanth a very difficult prospect indeed. They might have had to
withdraw when the Zhodani 40th arrived, but even then it would have been
a long fight to reduce those ground units.

If the Imperials had needed to withdraw and leave the 68th and Joyeuse
Fleets in possession of Lanth, a PC admiral might have rolled the dice
and jumped spinward to hook up with 193rd and raise havoc in the Zhodani
rear (and recapture the worlds previously lost). He might have arrived
at Ficant in time to shoot up the 40th Fleet (that would have been a
bitter fight due to refuelling issues for both sides) or run into the
Gram Fleet at some point (an encounter the Imperials would probably

Ah, well. Perhaps in an *alternate* alternate TU.

----- End Part 6 -----

Next time - what worked, what didn't, and what I'd do differently.

"the Truth is out there! If you know where to look."
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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By Andrew Moreton Imperial CINC

As Imperial CinC I was generally happy with the missions carried out by all
my admirals. My only complaint was that I didn't hear from the 213th fleet
once the game started but that was not a disaster.
There are a couple of things I think I should have done differently while
attempting the same strategic plan. Probably I should have reinforced the
212th and 193rd Fleets at the expense of the 213th an 214th fleets , as the
213th and 214th did not have the strength to fight withthe forces I gave
them and the ships mayhave been more useful with the other two fleets.
I expected to lose several of the large popualtion worlds but hoped
their SDB squadrons would inflcit some losses on the enemy while the
imperial fleet builtup to a strength to challange the Zhodani.
Also I should have withdrawn the mobile troops from Porozolo earlier as
I lost many irreplacable ground troops to the guerilla's.
I also seem to have made mistakes in sorting out the fuelling capacity
of colonial fleet units advacning as reinforcements. This was probably as I
had very little experience of the game.
I did find it quite interesting trying to work out thelong term strategy
from my limited reports of the action, I certainly had no intention of
micromanaginf my fleets from the rear. The only problem I had was I did not
trust fleets which where not directly under a player to act sensibly as I
had trouble coming up with detailed contingencies 8 or 9 turns in advance.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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By Phill Webb Vargr Commander:

Well it's about time I spoke up I suppose.

I went into the game half for the game play and half for the role playing aspects. I also didn't have a lot of free time so I asked for a small fleet and was assigned the Vargr - which was great as I could create some future background for my role-playing sessions when the Traveller Adventure finished and the 5FW hit the Aramis Subsector.

It wasn't until a few turns in that I realised a few things about how the game worked and would have started the game with everything piled into one fleet if I'd realised at the start.

Before the war started there were strategies being proposed by the Zho commander which seemed to be replaced by new ones every few days. Since my part in any of them was quite small I ignored them waiting for the final one and formed a basic plan of my own - which I thought was a very Vargr thing to do.

I think my final "orders" were:

> Our Vargr Allies are requested to take Dentus, then advance on Moughas.
> If the opportunity to take Focaline and Violante arises they should feel
> free to take it.

The only pre-war intelligence that I thought applied to me was:

> Dentus: 1 Imperial Marine regiment.

My first rules surprise came when I realised that I couldn't transport many of my troops with the ships I had and that my Cruisers couldn't transport any troops at all.
Starting on Balent I created two fleets and left most of the troops there with the vague idea of returning to collect them when I needed fresh fur.

> 1st Fleet, Admiral Thuekhs, PR 1, PF 2, TF +1.
> ==========================
> 5th Battle Squadron
> * 2nd Armoured Lift Cavalry Division
> 8th Battle Squadron
> * 12th Grav Tank Division
> 3rd Cruiser Squadron
> 1st Assault Carrier Squadron
> * 101st Lift Infantry Field Army
> * 105th Grav Tank Corps
> 1st Tanker Squadron
> 2nd Fleet, Admiral Orzaekh, PR 2, PF 4, TF +1.
> ==========================
> 4th Cruiser Squadron
> 7th Cruiser Squadron
> Remaining Troops on Balent
> ==========================
> 37th Lift Infantry Corps
> 1st Lift Cavalry Division
> 15th Lift Infantry Division
> 8th Lift Infantry Corps

My initial communique to the Zho commander.

> To: Zhodani CINC
> From: Grand Admiral Thuekhs, Supreme Commander of the Gvurrdon Vargr Military, First amongst the Chosen Ones.
> Subject: War Preparations
> Haugzha Admiral,
> My fleets are ready and willing to go into battle under my command. Together we can smash those Imperial draghozughs.
> My plan is for my 1st battle fleet to swoop down upon Dentus and destroy
> the Imperial Marine contingent I believe is stationed there - they will be no match for us.
> My second fleet under the command of the loyal and obedient Admiral
> Orzaekh will conduct a raid on Yorbund to sow fear and confusion amongst
> the enemy and allow my troops some morale boosting looting. Both fleets
> will then continue to ravage the rest of the subsector as we strike towards the heart of Imperial territory.
> I trust our territorial claims will be honoured once the Imperials are
> defeated.
> Grand Admiral Thuekhs.

Turn 1
We arrived at Dentus, had no effect bombing the Marines and little effect when the 101st Field Army attacked them.

Turn 2
Defeat the Marines and start looting!
Hear from my other fleet that they can't move on from Yorbund because they can't refuel. My misread of the rules - I was thinking they could scoop the oceans if there were no SDB's and didn't know that you had to land troops and control the planet as well.

Turn 3
The 212th fleet arrives and catches me before I can refuel more than 3 of my ships. I decide to fight since I'll be losing 2 squadrons anyway. Combat is almost the perfect result - I lose the 2 I was going to lose anyway and kill 2 pinky ships before jumping out for Yorbund.

Turn 4
Arrive at Yorbund and combine my fleets like I should have in the beginning. Bomb the defenders away and then visit some Pyramids we read about on a postcard at the starport.

Turn 5
Refuel and jump for Shionthy.

Turn 6
Arrive at Shionthy and refuel. The defenders surrender immediately and I'll need a garrison to keep the system under control because the gm won't let me commit Vargr atrocities and blow up the habitats, oh and the rules say I can't fight them if they surrender.
It was about now that I actually looked at the games victory conditions and decided to pick some juicy targets, points wise, so that I'd actually be contributing to a possible quick victory.
So we all jump to Focaline.

Turn 7
Arrive at Focaline, refuel and bomb the locals and their supporting Mercenary unit. The mercs hold out even when we land the 101st.

Turn 8
The 101st wipe out the mercs and we feast on all the Groat herds, setting the Focaline economy back 10 years.

Turn 9
We drop the 12th for garrison duty, pick up the 101st and jump to Violante to cause more havoc.

Tomorrow the Universe!
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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Larsen Whipsnade commanding a reinforcement squadron:


I might as well post my diary too! Great stuff to read from everyone and each side. I can't imagine why that fellow thought this was 'off-topic' somehow. I mean, squawk about discussion of a FFW game and don't squawk about the 1,543,678,987,203rd pirate thread? C'mon...

As for the diary, it stands as it was written with the exception of my bowdlerizing one word. You'll pick that up easily.

Some background:

- I entered as a reinforcement, Admiral Mtume of the 1st Provisional Fleet.
- I immediately caused poor Mr. Appel to rip hunks of his hair out. Really, wait 'til you read the merry mixup regarding my fleet's cruiser squadrons!
- I did NOTHING but transit towards the front and fret over the information contained in the few courier messages I recieved.
- I was playing a wargame and therefore was not interested in roleplaying. I was unaware that others involved in the game saw it as a mix of the two. My messages to the Imperial CinC were somewhat 'in character', but I did that more with an eye towards good communications than playing Adm. Mtume. I've been in multiplayer wargames before where poorly written messages decidely hurt one side. Holding to a 'professional' style of message helps keep communications on track.

FWIW, I still think the 212th should have stayed in Efate and fought at least ONE combat round against the Zhodnai 70+ Combat Factor Horde(tm). Yes, the Zhos had put together a 'killer stack' and, yes, the Imperial plans to run way and fight another day were well thought out. However, you need to inflict losses sometime and you can't wait until enough reinforcements arrive to begin doing so. While you waited for help and avoided combat, the Zho's 'killer stack' would snap up Regina, Jewell, and anything else it wanted wihtout any loss to itself. You can fight now or you can fight later. Fighting later means you're forced to try and take back more systems in less time.

War Diary - John Appel's Fifth Frontier War PBeM

I signed on as a replacement after John advertised at both the TML and CotI. I told him it didn't matter which side I joined or what admiral chit I drew, I just wanted to play in the game. John kindly sent me copies of his rule changes and a Q&A he had put together. He later assigned me to the Imperium.

Tod Glenn was very kind and gave the game some web space. The link for rules, FAQs, and TNS briefs(!) is at:

The game began on 187-1107 and each turn will be one week.

Week 1 and 2 have passed. There are no TNS briefs as of yet, so any Zhodani actions can only be surmised.

The Imperial CinC; a player using the name Admiral Cunningham (WW2 Med Brit CinC?), was informed I was in the replacement pool. He assigned me the 'Admiral Mtume' chit; precedence 4, plotting 0 (unused in the game), and tactical rating 2. I need to get ahold of some FFW bits, but I do believe Mtume's tactical rating is very good. His plotting rating; the number of weekly turns he needs to plot in advance is superb, but because we're all players using avatars the plotting function of FFW goes by the boards. (that last bit really made FFW a very interesting game)
The CinC-Imp also sent along his standing orders and pre-war dispostions. They all seem standard with few suprises.

Week 3: CinC-Imp informed me that I would enter play on Week 6. He assigned me the 1st Provisional Fleet. BatRon 1601 and 1603 along with CruRons 2187 and 2188 make up the fleet. He tasked me with supporting the 214th Fleet in and around Efate. He ordered the 1st Provisional to transit to Efate via the following route: Week 6 - Vreibefger, Week 7 - Keanou, Week 8 - Wochiers (five parsecs?), Week 9 - Roup, Week 10 - Efate. He also wisely reminded me that as my fleet approaches the front, I will recieve information he does not have and that I should act upon that information as I see fit. He fully expects the 1st Prov. to contact couriers from the front along our transit route. I do notice this route skirts the potential Vargr operational area around Kinorb-Enope.
I do not know the name of the 214th's commander, nor do I know it's current strength. Pre-war Imperial dispostions placed the 214th at Jewell and it consisted of CruRon 359 and two colonial CruRons. The 214th was tasked with carrying out a mobile defense of the Jewell Subsector, harrying the Zhos and assisting planetary defenses where possible. The 214th was cautioned not to lose itself in any 'avoidable' engagement.
The 1st Prov.'s current approach route will end at Efate where the 212th Fleet was stationed pre-war. That fleet is comprised of 2 BatRons, 1 CruRon, 1 PhibRon, and 5 colonial squadrons plus various ground units and a scout fleet. Whether the 1st Prov. finds the 212th at Efate, remnants of the 214th, or a mixture of both will be known in 7 weeks. If (a big if) the Zho offensive plan is a relatively standard one, the 1st Prov. will see some hard fighting beginning Week 10. We may even arrive off Efate during a battle.

Week 3 continued: I found the information I needed concerning squadron ratings and it immediately made gibberish of my orders.
The BatRons are rated B4 5-4-8 which means B= BatRon, 4 = jump4, 5 = attack rating, 4 = bombardment rating, and 8 = defense rating. The CruRons are rated C2 1-2-6. The CruRons cannot at all follow the transit route Cunningham sent me and the BatRons cannot make the five parsec jump between Keanou and Wochiers.
I've drafted a message to Cunningham (OpOrdW3) asked for further clarrification. In it I asked that the CruRons be detached and replace with jump4 rated squadrons. I also suggested that the Keanou - Wochiers jump be replaced by a Keanou - Yori, Yurst, or Rethe jump. From any of those systems, the fleet can still reach Roup by Week 9 and Efate by Week 10.
Preparing for the worst case, I also proposed a two parsec transit route that would get the 1st Prov. to Efate by Week 13; Vreibefger - Pirema - KKirka - Wypoc or Djinni - Regina - Forboldn - Whanga - Efate. Unlike the previous route, this one will pass periously close to what I can only assume is a battlefront around Regina.
I hope to hear from Cunningham soon.

Week 4 (201): Cunningham and I hashed out the supposed CruRon problems. Solution? There are none! Three different info sources on-line and ALL were wrong! The 2187th and 2188th are jump4 outfits.
The transit route has been changed IAW my suggestions. Transit to Efate will occur via Yori. I believe that C. had chose the original route to skirt the Vargr formations operating to coreward. Yori definitely skirts those but also passes close to Regina. We'll see if we bump into anything.

Week 5 (208): No war news yet. Still waiting to enter.
Got some pre-war chest thumping prose from the 212th commander, all about his fleet's knickname, how they'll kick Vargr ass, etc. We'll see. He's got one HELL of a force there, lots of colonial stuff and army units.

Week 6 (215): We're off. 1st Prov. jumped to Vreibefger as scheduled. TF17 jumped with us but will have to wait one week to refuel due to an attached CruRon. I find it odd that C. would handicap a fleet in that manner. Couldn't that CruRon been left at Rhylanor and replaced with one that matched the rest of the fleey's refueling capabilites?
The first war news arrived. The Zhos hit Jewell and then MOVED ON. Minimal orbital bombardment, tangled with the local space forces, and MOVED ON. Intriguing, no?
Are the Zhos hoping to force a series of major naval clashes by moving deeper into the Imperium where our forces are mustering? They could cripple those slowly building fleets and then turn back to reduce the systems behind them. Tricky timing though - bringing us to battle may be difficult. C. has ordered that discretion is the better part of valor. We're not supposed to risk battle without a good chance of inflicting damage. (orders right out of Nimitz's Midway op-ord)
A MarReg on Dentus held off a large Vargr force (no word on actual size) and inflicted huge casulties at the cost of its own heavy casulties. No word on whether they've gone down fighting in a sea of doggies or if the Navy managed to extract them.
Rimward a Zho fleet has hit Frenzie. No further news from that front yet.
Efate - my destination - has seen fleet engagements nearby already. The 214th tangled with TWO Zho fleets off Grant (3 parsecs rimward of Efate). No word on casulties or results, just that both sides have suffered.
I believe I'll be recieving orders from CinC-214th soon. C. must have told him about the orders given 1st Prov. and TF17. By Week 8 or 9, I think we'll be routed elsewhere along the front. Perhaps to a flanking system or perhaps making a 'beat the bushes' sweep.
I still have a seanking suspician about that Zho force that bypassed Jewell. Can the 214th stand up to THREE Zho fleets before reinforcements arrive?

Week 7 (222)- Arrived in Keanou and refueled. No news yet.

Week 8 (229)- Arrived in Yori and refueled. News has finally arrived and it is not good. My supposition about the Zho pigpile on Efate proved sadly correct. On 208, a Zho force of 8 BRs, 6 CRs, 2 TRs, and 4 ARs plus several SRs, arrived in-system and landed two field armies along with 'numerous' corps and divisions. That was 3 weeks ago. Efate must be in the hands of the Zhos now.
Meanwhile, Vasileyev and the 212th chased the Vargr forces off Dentus on 201 (turn 4). The MarReg originally on Dentus was lost. The 212th destroyed a Vargr CR and TR at the cost of one imperial CR. Two Vargr BRs and an AR with army aboard escaped to somewhere within a 3 parsec radius.
Vasileyev and his 'Warhounds' really screwed up in my estimation. They took the obvious bait of the Vargr Uthith Fleet at Dentus leaving Efate uncovered for FOUR ENTIRE TURNS. The 212th had three BRs, a CR, and an AR loaded with two corps, two divisions, and a few regiments. All of those troops could have helped at Efate. The BRs could have really assisted the Efate SDB forces too. Vasileyev ▮▮▮▮▮ed up, pure and simple. He got the news of the Zhos bypassing Jewell before I did and should have made the same estimate I did. Instead, he went off 'dog hunting' and wasn't too succesful at that either.
The 212th is/was supposed to be off Boughene on 208 (turn 6). I need to rethink my original orders. Am I superior in rank to Vasileyev? Do I want to be swallowed up by his fleet? How can we liberate Efate? Or defend Jewell?
Further afield, the 193rd at Saurus reported no enemy activity on 194 (turn 3). The commander intended to occupy Mjolnir on 201 (turn 4) with the 5th Huscarles, return to Saurus on 208 (turn 5), and jump to Tavonni on 215 (turn 6). I wonder what opposition he ran into?

Here's an example of my messages to the Imperial CinC. As I said in my background notes, I wrote this way more to provide good, clear message traffic and not to roleplay Admiral Mtume.

DATE: Week Three (3)
FROM: ADM. Mtume, prospective commander 1st Provisional Fleet
TO: ADM. Cunningham, CinC - Imperial Navy Spinward Marches
RE: Requested clarification of operational orders


After further review of the operational orders sent me, several questions have emerged.

1 - The Vreibefger-Efate transit route sent to me contains a five parsec jump between Keanou (week 7) and Wochiers (week 8). This is one parsec beyond the capabilites of the 1601st and 1603rd BatRons. Squadron ratings are: B4 5-4-8

2 - The rest of the transit route is made up of four parsec jumps. These jumps are two parsecs beyond the capabilities of 2187th and 2188th CruRons. Squadron ratings are: C2 1-2-6

3 - As currently consituted, the quickest the 1st Provisional Fleet can reach Efate is Week 13 by the following route: Vreibefger - Pirema - KKirka - Wypoc or Djinni - Regina - Forboldn - Whanga - Efate.

The 1st Provisional Fleet can follow your orders and reach Efate by Week 10 if the colonial CruRons are left behind and your proposed transit route is modified. If I may make the following suggestions:

A - That the two colonial cruiser squadrons; CruRon 2187 and CruRon 2188, be detached from the 1st Provisional Fleet and reassigned to the Theatre Reserve around Rhylanor. In this role, their jump2 ratings will not be a handicap.

B - That jump4 rated cruiser squadrons, either Imperial or colonial, be attached to the 1st Provisional Fleet in the place of the 2187th and 2188th. While I would prefer that an equal number of squadrons be attached to make up for the loss of the 2187th and 2188th, I understand that the CinC has many hard choices to make during this current crisis.

C - That the previosuly proposed transit route be modified to replace the five-parsec Keanou-Wochiers jump with a four-parsec jump between Keanou and either Yori (2110), Yurst (2309), or Rethe (2408). From any of those systems, the 1st Provisional can jump to Roup; arriving on Week 9, and reach Efate by Week 10.

I remain, etc., etc.,
Mtume, Admiral 1st Provisional Fleet

Hope you folks enjoyed my diary as much as I enjoyed yours!


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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:04 PM
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Aditional comments by John Appel gamemaster:


Just a few points to clarify.

- The 212th did not actually receive word of any Zhodani operations
until they arrived back at Balent after the sojurn in Vargr space. Jeff
learned of the _Vargr_ incursions while at Boughene. He was a jump or
more ahead of his message traffic for most of the game. He was not
alone in this.

- I did neglect to mention the independent scout operations. Jeff had
his scout squadron patrolling the likely areas for the Vargr to
approach, and in fact I think his scouts jumped out of one system
(Shionthy?) just before the Varg jumped in. Des had three scout
squadrons set to patrol the neutral zone and approaches to Regina. One
was at Grant the same turn that the 214th Fleet had it's run-in with the
Zhodani, and Charles (the 214th's commander) attached that squadron to
his fleet (down to a CruRon) after that drubbing. Another passed
through Tremous Dex two weeks before the Zhodani 14th Colonial fleet
arrived - if the Quar SDB hadn't proved so hard to kill, it would have
run into 14th Colonial.

- Erik, the Zhodani 65th fleet commander, also used his scouts to patrol
the Jewell cluster worlds while he was reducing that system. They
didn't find anything except the locals, of course.

- Des mentioned the message he received of the Zhodani fleet at Denotam.
I don't know if Matt, the Zhodani CINC also considered the
disinformation value this move provided when he made his plan, but it
certainly was a bonus. Here's a tidbit from the coming write-up on the
rimward operations - that was the Zhodani 68th Fleet, composed of J4 or
better ships, hacking a J4 path to Lanth with the objective of reaching
Lanth on turn 7 (which they accomplished). It certainly never occurred
to me that it would look like a thrust to Regina, converging with the
14th Colonial and the Combined Assault Fleets, but I can see how it
could look that way!

- Jeff mentioned that he had asked me to keep the attacks on the Vargr
worlds from appearing in the TNS-style news reports I was posting here
and on CotI. He got his wish... For a little while, anyway. I had
already decided that after 3 or 4 turns that word would leak out - hey,
those Vargr worlds will see traffic from the Vargr extents, and without
having left a naval presence there would be no way to stop some
ragamuffin free trader from carrying the news out.

- It's been mentioned a couple times now - it was not uncommon for
people to be one jump away from, behind or ahead of other fleets,
message traffic, etc. To me, this is part of the real beauty and
challenge of a double-blind game with limited communications. Yes,
there will be missed opportunities, decisions made on bad or out-of-date
information - just like in real warfare.


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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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By Eric Holmes Sword World Commander:

Fellow Travellers:

Apologies for writing this so late in the process, but I finally was able
to finish my TML backlog.

Here is my take on the FFW-PBEM by John Appel.

1) I saw the game as an opportunity to do background for a NPC I developed for
a campaign that I run off and on.

2) I saw the possibility of the Sworders being eliminated early in the game
and requested them. This was based upon my experience with a FtF and
via land line game I played many moons ago (when the game first came out)
with a fellow Traveller nerd, Bruce McLean. I was in Minot,ND and he was PCS'd
to Cheyenne Mountain.

3) I wanted to see how far I could get with just the Sworders. I set my targets
as Lanth (SM1719) and Frenzie (SM1116) and any intervening worlds. I think
I got as far as Garda Vilis (SM1118) on the second thrust. (I'm typing this from
memory, and don't have my game board and turns in front of me. John, pls

4) I had communications with the Zhodani CinC and had confirmed my initial
targets as being "realistic."

5) I felt that the Sworders would try to gain as much "property" as possible
to bargain for increased Sworder space or at least create their own "buffer."
I also saw the game as an extension of my Entrope Wars campaign against the
Darrians, and wanted background. The Sworders would probably be
in FtF talks with the Impies and Dorkians, I mean Darrians, over
Entrope. This was assuming that the PBEM game would allow a quick
termination of combat activities on both sides, as I figured the Zhos
would go for an early end.

6) At this point, I was seeing the "rules changed" scenario and the
breaking away from canon to allow a quick end to the game, and
the Zhos suing for peace early from a position of strength.
This of course was up to John to allow, and I truly did not know
the thinking of the Zho Commander. Notice how assumptions were
made based upon the lack of communication between allies.

7) I like double blind scenarios. I had first played a double blind Panzerleader
scenario while in ROTC at Syracuse University. I was the only Air Force
cadet on the Army's team. The Grunts were surprised that I had so much
experience with the game and actually knew what I was doing....and I got
hooked on the process. The only trouble with games of this sort are
the physical space and layout requirements as well as having a good referee

8) John, if I haven't said it before, I'll say it now....Thanks for volunteering to
take on what I think is a very daunting job. As we grognards get older, it
gets harder and harder to play when RL takes its toll.

Roll Sixes!


Eric T. Holmes

Lacedaemon, we have done our duty....
Red Square (Moscow) and the Big Blue Bear (E. Berlin).

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cannot wipe out an entire party of player characters
without resorting to 'bad guys with guns' just isn't trying."
(I like this, not sure who, but it was a TMLer.)

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Old December 6th, 2004, 02:02 PM
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Ranke, there's always going to be a trade-off in any game between playability and realism. I was only saying that using fiction makes the exercise even more difficult than when using actual history.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 02:37 PM
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I'll also post my notes/recollections of the game [img]smile.gif[/img]

I took over as commander of 40th fleet on turn 2, I think it was, with the fleet at Quare about to jump into the Imperium.

I was very wary of my orders to converge on Lanth ASAP via Vilis. I've had bad experiences with both Vilis and Jewell in FtF games before, and I was also well-aware that the colonial reinforcements would be (or should be) arriving at Lanth around T8. I also figured that Lanth would have either the elite Marines or a couple of army brigades (or both) and that might just be enough to force either a fight to the death at Lanth against the colonials (ick) or force me to leave a perfectly good army to be obliterated a turn later. That, coupled with the fact that the 68th seemed to be heading for Regina, caused me to perform a re-evaluation.

The situation I found myself in was quite fun, actually [img]smile.gif[/img] I was faced with the classic leader's dillemna; follow orders that I evaluate as no longer matching the situation, or follow my orders blindly and hope for the best. So, I decided to abandon the original plan (and I sent off messages to my CinC and commander 68th fleet) and instead go to Vilis to free up the Swordies before pushing on to Lanth.

I knew that the Imperials would be faced with a choice of going to Lanth or bypassing it and carrying on into the SW or Querion, so I decided to go the Ficant route. I actually planned to wait a couple turns at Ficant so that I could arrive at Lanth a good turn or two after I judged the Imperials would have left, so being held up an extra week didn't really put a crimp in things. I'd hoped that one of my messages to 68th would have reached that fleet before they went to Lanth, but, oh well. Here's hoisting one to my late comrades.

Overall, I liked the atmosphere of the double-blind. It certainly totally changed how a normal game of FFW tends to go. In fact, using the double-blind system may actually make it easier for the Imperials to hold out (which isn't a bad thing).

If I could get cyberboard to work, I would love to try this again, either as a player or GM. The one fly in the ointment was that, at one week/turn, we were realistically looking at a game that would last at least a year [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old December 6th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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Originally posted by PBI:
Ranke, there's always going to be a trade-off in any game between playability and realism. I was only saying that using fiction makes the exercise even more difficult than when using actual history.
Sure, but the game is flat out supposed to produce a new and different sequences of events every time it is played, none of which need to match "reality", whereas the fiction is supposed to be about the one sequence of events that is "real".

Basically I'm saying that IMO canon text trumphs boardgame rules when it comes to extrapolating futher canon.

That doesn't mean that the boardgame isn't usable too, just that when it conflicts with canon text, the canon text should be preferred over the baordgame.

[I]"It also has to make sense."[/I]
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