Your orders Captain are to stop that convoy…

I had a game of Stars & Lasers at the club Monday night against a friend who wanted to use some of his cargo ships, so I picked a scenario that would give him a chance to use a few of his cargo ships.

The scenario sees a number of cargo ships fully loaded with supplies for an embattled army in an enemy sector, they must get through to re-supply the army at any cost.

The attackers are tasked with stopping the supplies getting through.

The attackers force –

Light Cruiser + Engineers

Destroyer

Destroyer

Destroyer

Frigate

Corvette

( A carrier in the area sent in some assault ships to help )

Assault Ship x 3

Assault Ship x 3

Convoy force –

Heavy Freighter x 4

Light Freighter x 4

Escorted by –

Light Cruiser

Destroyer

Frigate

Frigate

Frigate

Corvette

Fighter Bomber x 1

Fighters x 2

Even though I had the potential of hitting his freighters with a lot of missiles with my three destroyers, and my assault ships would hopefully cause a lot of problems for the convoy it wasn’t going to be an easy game ( even though my opponent was not convinced at the start )

I had played this scenario a few times and I knew from the start that I was going to struggle to stop all those freighters, all I could hope for was to slow them down and the best way to do that was to make them turn away from where they wanted to go.

Then I needed to get my destroyers in close and to hit them with my missiles and to get my assault ships in for some boarding actions… I had to do all this while trying to avoid his escorting force.

I also thought for the set-up that I would put a few of my debris fields on the table as my opponent had never played a game using them before, these would also give my assault ships a little bit of cover hopefully allowing them to survive long enough to hit some enemy freighters.

Well the initial deployment saw the convoy being split in two with the escorts spread between them, it was funny as my opponent didn’t see the error of his deployment until he started moving his ships, he had put some of his faster ships behind his slower ones which lead to some hair-raising maneuvers and at least one collision!! I didn’t laugh honest.

The first turn saw all the ships in the convoy race towards my ships causing a few comments of “are you playing British Bulldog?” to be honest it did have that feel to it.

My ships moved forward and lined themselves up to try and stop the mad rush coming towards them, both my squadrons of assault ships moved into the edge of two small debris fields trying to hide out of the way of the enemy lasers.

Turn two saw a flight of enemy fighters make a strafing run at one squadron of assault ships but luckily they only managed to knock out a shield on one assault ship and take one point of damage from its hull.

That was worrying and if I didn’t commit the assault ships into a boarding action soon those fighters would start to hurt.

This turn saw a few long shots from both sides but no real damage anywhere, I fired off a few missiles to try and split his ships up or even get them to turn away which would slow them down a little.

The third turn saw the squadron of assault ships being attacked by my opponents fighters manage to make an assault run at an enemy frigate, success! they were in range so now they could at least start to destroy something before being blown apart by those damn fighters.

My other squadron of assault ships didn’t have any targets within range, so they just settled in amongst the debris and waited.

I actually managed to take a nice early lead in the game by taking out a destroyer and a frigate with missiles and laser fire, two of my destroyers flanked a lone frigate and ripped it apart with missiles… oh it felt good.

The fourth turn started with the engineers on board my light cruiser failing to reinstate its shields, if they survived this battle then they would need some extra training.

The first round of the boarding action against the enemy frigate saw a few marines die at the hands of the crew, but some initial damage on weapons control systems and a few well-placed explosives saw some damage done to the ship’s hull, not too bad for the first turn of combat.

My light cruiser took damage from some bombers who managed to evade all of my PDS and managed to get critical damage on its weapons control systems which would reduce its targeting for the rest of the game ( but with my dice rolling it didn’t really matter! )

I then lost another frigate after it was forced into the debris field by an enemy ship, I then managed to put some more damage on another light freighter and saw it spin off into space dead. 

I took out a second light freighter this turn when my second squadron of assault ships managed to destroy it in one round of combat.

I also managed to get a couple of lucky shots into a couple of the heavy freighters, but they were not bothered at all by this and kept on charging past me.

Two freighters down but far too many were getting past me, I was not managing to slow any of them down, they were just coming straight at my ships at full speed and not bothering to turn!

I was losing ships far too fast for this battle to go my way, one squadron of assault ships crashed into the enemy light cruiser, but it was too late to make any real difference to this battle.

My other assault ships were still locked in combat with the enemy frigate, but the frigates crew were fighting back hard and were not letting my marines do much damage.

At this point all I had left was the two squadrons of assault ships and my light cruiser which was heavily damaged and there was nothing left for me to do but to limp away and let the freighters carry on.

Well that was a hard game, my game was plagued by the usual dice silliness again, my PDS was almost useless, but I am not trying to take anything away from my opponent as he played really well using good tactics, once he had managed to get all his ships moving in open space there was nothing I could do to stop them.

Splitting the convoy into two groups also meant that I had to split my attacking force in to two which watered down its effectiveness a little too much.

I think now with hindsight that if I had kept all my ships together and had gone after just one half of the convoy my heavier fire may have destroyed more freighters which may have given me the victory… oh well maybe next time.

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6 Comments

  1. Vic Dobson

    Hi Mac,

    I love the look of this – escorted merchant convoys are no push over! Keeping your forces closer together would’ve allowed you a margin of local firepower superiority, but at the cost of some of your flexibility – if anything went wrong (sudden critical hits, massive missile hits etc) you’d be less able to react/adjust in time.

    I might’ve have kept my forces closer together AND set them up on the lower edge of the playing area – this would allow me to close on one isolated group of merchant ships and quickly overwhelm them whilst avoiding the second groups escorts, then I could (hopefully) turn upwards towards the second group – it’d probably result in a prolonged stern chase, but maybe some long range sniping could whittle down the merchants a bit more.

    Your opponent splitting his forces was inspired – normally I’d consider it counter intuitive to split my forces like that!

    Now I’m gonna have to play a convoy raid of my own … =D

  2. Mac

    Hi Vic,
    You have it right there mate, this convoy mission is no push over, it was a big convoy, so I had lots to chase, but splitting the convoy into two made it that much harder for me.

    I am sure that I made the wrong decision in splitting my force, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time!

    My opponent also never did what I expected him to do, what I think most people would do, he kept coming straight at my ships and smashed his way through, I wanted him to turn thus slowing him down which would have given me more time to pick his freighters off.
    But he took out most of my ships very quickly, far too quick for me to actually manage much damage on the convoy.
    I think maybe I should have taken bigger ships, I think that my choice in ships was incorrect, I think that I needed something bigger on the table to really hurt those heavy freighters and the escorting ships quicker.

    It has been a while since I have used assault ships and I had forgotten how much fun they are, although they are a little unpredictable.
    I just wished I could have got them on to more than just one small freighter then the outcome may have been a little different, but my opponent blocked them from getting anywhere near the rest of his freighters which I think was very un-sporting of him… ;O)

    Mac

  3. Vic Dobson

    Hi Mac,

    Perhaps a dreadnought with the big, long range Ion Cannon, some compacted titanium hull armour and LOTS of fighter-bombers would be a nasty choice?
    Adding a Rhino Ram-Cruiser (or 2) as escort might also generate enough ‘I’ve got to stop it’ worry to draw more of the escorts defensive fire than the actual ship(s) really warrant, allowing the DN more time to pound freighters.

    If enough points are left over after buying the above force, perhaps leaving 2 or 3 gunboats (the Tarantol are best bets) behind you, waiting near your baseline for any stragglers that get past you?

    Or an Escort carrier & Fighter Carrier together, stuffed full of Fighter-Bombers … =D

    Vic

  4. Mac

    “Or an Escort carrier & Fighter Carrier together, stuffed full of Fighter-Bombers”

    I think you have a slight wicked streak there Vic!!

    ;O)

    I do like the idea of the gun boats waiting for anything that gets through, that could have made a difference, I think I will be trying that the next time I run this scenario.

    I also think that a big force of just the “Rhinos” would also be fun to try, I can imagine the worried looks on my opponents face when he sees me put them all on the table!!

    Mac

  5. Vic Dobson

    Wicked, me? Maybe … 😉

    Ooh, I do like the idea of more than one or two Rhinos, maybe teamed up with some fighter support and some Frigates or Gunboats …
    Or perhaps a Leviathan with an Ion Cannon & Compacted Titanium armour & lots of fighter-bombers – there’s nothing as good as big, unless you can have biggest … it’d be like the Yamato turning up to threaten your Frigate escort group.

    As yet there’re no subs in S&L – a U-Boat-esque wolf pack would be fun to play too, perhaps using some Omicron colony ships of about FF or DD size, led by a CL or so … lots of missiles!

    Fun fun fun …

    • Mac

      Hi Vic,

      I do like the idea of a few Gun Boats waiting to see what cargo ships get through the main attack, I think that would be fun and a good option for playing that scenario.

      lol now I know you are a little bit wicked!! a Leviathan!!

      The scenario was fun to play and it is one that I will play again, finding the best way to stop the cargo ships will definately be fun.

      Mac

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