Assault on Helgi V
Since I’ve been fiddling with some new rules for Full Thrust, I thought I’d give some of them a try with a small solo battle. It took about two hours to run through six turns of game, which was only slightly longer than it took me to find the figures I wanted. In the end, what I thought was a box that was full of X-Wing miniatures, had some Babylon 5 and Full Thrust minis hiding at the bottom.
The system of Helgi is owned by the Scandinavian Federation, though only in the sense that they have a small supply outpost on a frozen moon of an ice giant in the outer solar system. It is moderately defended with ground based laser cannons, and a few small warships are always present.
The Federal Stats Europa believe that this will make for a good outpost and relay point in their war against the Neu Swabian League, so are willing to spare a few ships to try and take control of it – as long as it doesn’t come at too high a price.
Federal Stats Europa
The FSE fleet dispatched to take control of the moon is led by the Velasco, an Orbital Assault ship designed to strike at ground targets and dispatch troops to control once defences have been neutralised. It is a MASS 92 ship, with two ortillery cannons and some light weapons.
It is accompanied by the the destroyer Thetis (MASS 34) and the frigate Hydra (MASS 31). Both are equipped with two class 2 beam lasers, plus the Thetis carries a single missile salvo, whilst the Hydra has one class 1 beam laser.
They have been informed that they should meet only light resistance, but as well as taking control of the supply depot they should ensure that no ships escape to raise a warning.
The Scandinavian Federation
Whilst there would normally be just a couple of ships here, there are currently five of them – the others arrived for refuelling whilst on deep patrol. There are two Hrafn class frigates, and three Ariander class corvettes. They are significantly smaller than the FSE ships, being MASS 14 and 20 respectively.
ScanFed ships tend not to go to war with major nations, so are equipped to deal with pirates and raiders. Though the two frigates each carry a class 1 beam laser, they otherwise have nothing heavier than PDS systems. Great for fighting off fighters, not so great against real warships.
ScanFed ships are also designed to work together, and all the ships have area defence fire control systems, allowing them to protect each other from fighters and missiles. Like all ScanFed ships, they have fragile hulls encased in heavy armour.
The moon itself, as well as having a mostly defenceless supply depot, has three gun emplacements, each built around two ground to orbit laser weapons. There is a small supply depot on the moon which is the target of the attack.
I’m using the rules that allow PDS to fire on warships, and also that don’t need a fire control system to do so. This actually turned out to be quite important.
The FSE jump into range ready to attack, beginning turn 1. The ground beams have long range (30″), and since I was using one of my game mats everything was in range. The guns have a 180° arc based on their position on the moon’s surface, so two of them could target the FSE.
The FSE’s tactic was to get in close as quickly as possible and take out one or two of the ground based defences, giving them a chance to take refuge in the shadow of the planet from the rest.
The FSE are fast – all ships have a thrust of 6, whereas the ScanFed are limited to a thrust of 4. Whilst the FSE plotted their courses to move forward, the ScanFed tried to move its corvettes behind the protection of the planet based guns, and tried to get at least one of them away to safety.
I almost forgot that the Thetis had a salvo missile, and it was just about in range of one of the surface guns. Salvo missiles can be very effective, but you have to second guess where the enemy is going to be in order to get them on target. With a ground target that wasn’t going anywhere, that was easy.
I rolled 3 for the number of missiles that hit, then the gun emplacement tried to use its PDS to stop them – and failed. The corvette in orbit tried to help with its area defence, and also failed, so all three missiles hit each doing 1D6 damage – for a total of 10. The gun was wiped from the moon’s surface before things had even started. However, the Thetis was now out of missiles.
In the first turn, things continued to go well for the FSE, with the frigate following up with two beam weapons at long range against a fleeing Corvette – getting a 5 and a 6. The 6 re-rolled to another 6 and then a 5, for a total of 6 damage (1-3 = no damage, 4-5 = 1, 6 = 2 plus roll again). This totally destroyed the corvette.
The second set of ground lasers returned fire on the Velasco, damaging it slightly. The Velasco itself is at extreme range for its ortillery cannons, and they miss completely.
Closing the Range
Since Full Thrust uses continuous acceleration, ships can cross the table pretty quickly, so by turn 2 the Velasco was right on top of the moon’s defences. It’s vector was also taking it far away, but that was a problem for next turn.
The ScanFed got initiative, so opened up with its ground to orbit laser at the Velasco, doing 5 damage on it before being wiped out by the Velasco’s ortillery. Two guns down, this was looking like a cake walk for the FSE.
There is further exchange of fire which does minimal damage all around, but the first of the Ariander class corvettes is now making a run for it as well.
The Velasco really should deploy the troops to take control of the supply depot at this point, but it desperately needs to decelerate, and can’t deploy shuttles whilst doing so. Thrusting heavily to slow itself down, it fails to drop any ortillery on target, and takes damage from the one remaining ground cannon. Surrounded by a ScanFed corvette and frigate, it’s now taking heavy damage, and loses its fire control systems. Fortunately it’s damage control parties are able to bring them back online at the end of the turn.
The Hydra meanwhile blasts at the second ScanFed frigate, cutting away some of its armour.
By the fourth turn, most of the ships are within 12″ of each other, if not 6″, allowing all beam weapons and even PDS to be used. The Velasco finally destroys the last gun, but by the end of the turn she isn’t in great condition, having lost her third row of Hull and suffering system losses, including her drives which are down to half power.
The Hydra takes out the last Ariander class Corvette with a burst of beam fire and the Thetis is hit by a lucky long range shot from the Hrefn Frigate that is on the opposite side of the moon to the Velasco. The ScanFed are trying hard to take the Velasco down though, and with systems failing it is close to being destroyed. However, it succeeds in launching its shuttle – at least the troops won’t go down with their transport ship.
By turn five, most of the ScanFed ships had been destroyed, but the Velasco was critically damaged. One Hrafn frigate was on the run but is desperately trying to repair its FTL drive, the other got a lucking shot on the Velasco with a single beam – 6 ,6, 2 on the hit roll, doing 4 damage, and taking the transport down to 1 remaining hull point.
The crew don’t have long to celebrate, since the Hydra gets an even luckier shot and blows the ScanFed frigate out of the sky with a roll of 6, 6, 6, 1, 1, plus re-rolls of 4, 1, 2 – a total of 9 damage.
The final turn results in the last frigate being destroyed at long range, just before it flees off the edge of the table (and hence out of the engagement).
The small play area has meant that class 2 beams have managed to dominate the engagement – usually I’d use either a bigger table area or use centimetres as the measurement unit.
Allowing PDS to fire on warships (an optional rule, normally they are constrained to only firing on fighters and missiles) was a huge bonus all round since these designs are quite PDS heavy.
Though the FSE won, and didn’t lose any ships, they took a lot of damage – especially the Velasco which had lost many systems and was down to a single Hull point.
If the ScanFed had concentrated their fire on the Thetis and Hydra, then things would possibly have gone differently, since those ships were highly effective with their class 2 beams. The ScanFed’s concern though was in defending the moon, which meant stopping the ortillery bombardment which the Velasco was performing.
Given that the moon has no atmosphere though, the beam weapons on the other ships were also effective against ground targets, so the loss of the moon can possibly be put down to the ScanFed’s choice of tactics.
It didn’t all go the FSE’s way though, since a corvette did manage to escape to spread word of the attack, giving the FSE less time than they would have liked to strengthen their hold here.
The shuttle would have landed in turn 6, then in turn 7 would have taken control of the supply depot which was only lightly defended.
The FSE had a few more points than the ScanFed, and a good fraction of the latter’s points were tied up in ground units. They also aren’t well suited for fighting real warships (which was one reason the FSE chose them as a target), so I was expecting a win for the FSE. If the FSE had lost their Orbital Assault ship though, then it would have possibly been a victory at too high a price.
If I’d been putting in victory conditions, then I probably would have come up with the following for the FSE:
- +3 for taking control of the depot
- -3 for losing the Velasco
- -1 for losing each of Thetis or Hydra
- -1 if any ScanFed ships escape
For the ScanFed, possibly the following conditions:
- +1 each attacking ship destroyed
- +1 each ground gun still intact and controlled
- +1 get a ship away to warn the government
- +3 retain control of the supply depot (with it intact)
- -3 lose control of the supply depot or have it destroyed
So the FSE get +2 points, the ScanFed get -2, a strong win for the FSE. I’ve used this sort of scoring for Dirtside and Stargrunt games previously, and the way I interpret the results is that the highest score is the winner, but a positive score is a political win, and a negative score is a political loss. So it’s possible to win, but for that win to be considered to have come at too high a price.
The ground to orbit guns are quite powerful, but also sitting ducks since they can’t move and are highly susceptible to missiles. Better defensive rolls at the start may have made a difference, but I think I need more scenarios to test them further.
This was my first game of Full Thrust for several years, and it was fun to run through the rules again. Next time I might try using my rules for gravity and orbits (the moon was too small to really be effective here).