Battle above the Moon

This week we went back to visit Full Thrust, with a 1,600pt battle between the NSL and ESU around a small moon. As well as a moon, I added three clusters of asteroids to provide some terrain for the battle. All the terrain pieces blocked line of sight, allowing them to be used as cover. This added a bit more tactical interest to the game rather than it just being a big open space.

The NSL had the edge on points, but the ESU had an extra Heavy Cruiser and fewer destroyers. I think this meant that the ESU had the ultimate edge – bigger ships are under priced in Full Thrust. They die slower, and tend to have longer ranged weapons making them more effective than multiple smaller ships adding up to the same mass (and points). My ESU heavy destroyers are equipped with orbital strike weapons though, and since they wouldn’t be much use I decided to switch them out for the extra heavy cruiser.

Both fleets have a tendency towards slow, heavily armoured ships. The ESU has a focus on longer range weapons, and the NSL goes for armour. We didn’t have any fighters, but there weren’t too many point defence systems in use by these ships.

The NSL started by coming in in a line, with the escort craft planning on slipping in behind the cruisers to try and avoid everyone being on top of each other.

The ESU started in more of a cluster, heading around the other side of the Moon. Technically, at the end of the first turn the ESU were within range of the NSL Battlecruiser’s class 2 pulse torpedo – but the Moon was in the way.

In turn two, there was some acceleration from both fleets, enough to bring more weapons to bear and also bringing the two fleets into line of sight. The NSL fired first, missing with its pulse torpedo and doing 3 points of damage with its class three beams. The Von Der Tann battlecruiser had opened up on one of the Xinglong heavy cruisers, scratching its armour.

The heavy cruiser fired back with its long range beams, also doing 3 points of damage. The NSL’s plan was to try and take out one of the heavy cruisers. They are more heavily armed than the battlecruiser (which trades weapons for speed), and should die slightly faster.

Turn three saw the start of more complicated manoeuvres, though my NSL escorts should have done some accelerating last turn and were now behind where I’d wanted them to be. I didn’t want them to go in first, since they would be picked off quite quickly at range, whilst the idea was my heavier ships would be able to survive a first pass. I’d then catch the ESU from two directions, with the destroyers being able to get in close and make use of their heavy short range weapons.

We were now well within weapon range of most weapons of our bigger ships, and both fleets were (barely) on the same side of the Moon. The Xinglong was the main target of the NSL, whilst the ESU in turn focused their attacks on the Von Der Tann.

The Von Der Tann opened up, and did little damage. It’s class one beams missed the ESU light cruiser (which was just within range), the pule torpedo missed the heavy cruiser and the beams did a mere 4 points of damage.

However, the ESU battlecruiser Pobyeda returned fire doing 14 points of damage, which was quite a bit above average. My heavy cruiser tried hit with both pulse torpedoes on the Xinglong, but only did 4 damage, supplementing that with 5 damage from its beam weapons.

Then the ESU heavy cruiser opened up with its massed array of beam weapons – doing another 14 points of damage. A bit of fire was traded between light cruisers and destroyers, then the second ESU Xinglong heavy cruiser finished the turn doing 16 points of damage to my battlecruiser. It was blown to pieces.

I was hoping to a quick fly by and turn around for my heavy ships, taking on a bit of damage, instead I’d lost the fleet’s capital ship due to some very lucky dice rolls.

Turn four continued the fight between the cruisers, as they kept within medium range and clear line of sight. The NSL destroyers were now trying to get in position to catch the ESU as they came out from behind the other side of the Moon. One of my heavy destroyers had some very limited options. In the end, it was put on a course that would impact the Moon, in the hope of being in a better firing position for this turn.

The ESU battlecruiser made a rapid course change to keep on its side of the Moon though.

The shooting in turn four was as intense as it was in the previous turn, plus now the NSL destroyers were able to bring their guns to bear on the rear (front?) of the ESU fleet.

Finally, an NSL light cruiser was able to take down the first of the ESU heavy cruisers, and one of the ESU destroyers was also taken out. However, the NSL lost their heavy cruiser as well as most ESU fire was concentrated on it.

After that, it was some tidying up operations. Another ESU destroyer was lost, and the ESU light cruiser took hits to its life support and power core. At the beginning of turn six, the light cruiser’s power core exploded, destroying the ship.

The final result was that the ESU had lost two of their cruisers and the NSL had lost three (one of which was its battlecruiser). It was a win for the ESU, though it had come at a price.

I think the lucky rolls at the start which took out the NSL battlecruiser were a big help for the ESU. The NSL should also have been faster at the start in bringing their destroyers into the battle. The NSL heavy destroyers are really just designed as mobile gun platforms. With a thrust of 2, they don’t have many options in terms of movement.

Samuel Penn