Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ACTA: STAR FLEET (Just don't look too close at the ships)

Jason was round on Sunday for a couple of hours gaming somewhere in the depths of space. There had been a lot of email traffic back and forth re: my Father's Day gift - some shiny new rules (thanks kids) and the plan had been for me to get some Federation Ships and he'd get Klingons and we'd all go from there. In the end, I ordered the 'old stuff' version of the Federation Squadron box - one FF, one Texas class OCL, one Constitution class CA, one Kirov class BC and one Federation class DN. I also ordered a couple of Ramius class FF to make the squadron less top-heavy. So what we did was just pit that box minus the DN (FF, CL, CA and BC) vs their Klingon equivalents. The catch was - new Star Trek ships had not arrived yet (just imagine my fleet is as pictured on the left!) so I was using my Brigade Miniatures Starships, while Jason was using some of his star wars assault frigates. I'd seen that games with newbies could go slowly so cut the points down from the 1250 the game is supposed to work well at.

SF: ACTA is an alternating move game. So whoever loses the dice off moves a ship (and declares a special action, if he chooses), then the opponent does, then it is back to the other player and so on. Then both sides get to fire, starting with whoever won initiative.

The two squadrons met near an abandoned Orion reclmation base (ie chop shop), hidden amongst dust clouds and some asteroids. (table is Jason's excellent space table) The Klingons put their Cruisers forward, while their heavy Battle Cruiser positioned itself to react to events as they unfolded. The Federation Commodore, aboard the USS Kirov, aimed to take up position in the centre - flanked by the USS Christchurch and the USS Chariot. Meanwhile, the daring Captain of the USS Enterprise took the famous ship around the left flank, aiming to pin the Klingons between enfilading fire and bypass their reinforced front shielding.

The initial flow of battle favoured the Fed strategy, as they got initiative. So the Klingons went first, then the Feds (that's right, the FF initiative sinks out of the way)  and the Klingons then had to move the first Cruiser. They led with their lightest ship, hoping to bait a Fed target to come close.
In turn the USS Christchurch powered engines and made a slow approach. Enemies were currently out of range (aside from nukes...) but the Captain of the lighter ship was expecting the Klingons to think them an easier mark. He was confident that the tough hull of the older ship would allow it to survive heavy fire while they rebuilt their shields. It looked like the Klingons intended to come to the party, with another of their cruisers gliding foward to join the D6.

Photon torpedos are a cool weapon, absolutely devastating when they get through shields but have to be reloaded, unlike Klingon disrupters. There are two schools of thought on the torpedos 1. either fire at extreme range and hope to roll 6's to bypass shields or 2. get in close and fire an overloaded (a special action) volley vs hopefully weakened targets. I opted for mainly option 1. and got lucky but did try to reserve one chance at option 2...

Aboard the Kirov, the Fed Commodore seized that opportunity and barked the order for flank speed, closed to range of the Klingon D6, and loosed all torpedos as a single volley. The heavy weapons smashed into their target - two bypassed shields and knocked out a number of decks on the Klingon ship, causing damage to the Dilithium relays and wounding essential crew. The followup from the Kirov's phaser banks and guided nukes stripped shields and caused further critical damage.
The Klingons retaliated by having the accompanying Cruiser fire on the Kirov with Phasers while hammering the USS Christchurch with Disrupters and guided nukes. The tough light cruiser took severe shield damage but otherwise weathered the oncoming fire, with it's Captain forging through the chaos to also land several solid hits on the Kirov's target.

Nukes (drones in the Star Fleet setting) are a bit of a novel addition to my Star Trek, for me. However, I liked them and Jason - rabid BSG fan that he is - loves them. We were using the non-errata'd rules so these were unerring guided 36" range engines of doom. They are a bit toned down now, only hitting on 5s over 18". They still do D6 devastating hits each though....

The Klingon Commodore then joined the fray. Nukes smashed into the Enterprises shields, doing heavy damage, while Disrupters bypassed them and hit the hull. Enterprise then executed the plan and moved the flank the Klingon advance, unwittingly putting itself between the jaws of the Klingon Battlecruiser and the Frigate lurking at the edges of battle.

More disrupter fire from the light Klingon F5 frigate smashed the Enterprises shields. Somewhere below decks, furious Gaelic cursing could be heard as damage crews rushed to keep shields online. The bridge fell silent as the Vulcan science officer reported that the several shield capacitors had burnt out and the damage would be permanent until refit.

This game has critical charts. I love critical charts. We may or may not have mimicked funny voices and sound effects of frantic crews trying to sort stuff out after a particularly hit. 
Seizing the opening created by the damage to the most famous ship in the Federation, the Klingons seized the initiative and began to press in and try and take down either the USS Enterprise or the USS Christchurch. The Federation had already spent every last Torpedo - save those on the little USS Burke and both sides had sent out every last guided nuke. At close quarters, it was a contest of accurate phasers, disrupters and the frantic efforts of ships crews to fix critical damage and keep shields boosted. Both side were conscious of an impending solar flare and would have to break off after this pass.

In the end, the Federation forces  took down the D6 and inflicted some heavy damage, while their own more damaged ships somehow stayed in the fight. The little USS Burke even came almost withing range of an overloaded torpedo salvo at a damaged Klingon cruiser but it was not to be. Both sides made Warp speed out of there as the sun flared. Leaving only the drifting wreckage of the unfortunate Klingon D6 to  mark the site of their brief encounter.

Lots of fun! I can wait for my new ships to get here so I can start painting. I have been trying to get others interested in the game and had suggested the possibility too others that the Gorn (I don't even remember what their ship(s) even looked like in the 'real' series) and the Kzinti (originally by Larry Niven and reminding me heaps of Kilrathi) could be modeled using pretty much any ships. I know John has a couple of fleets of GZG ships, I have my own by Brigade Miniatures, and Jason has some Star Wars ships that don't look too immediately like Star Wars ships. When I mentioned to Jason that Kzinti liked Nukes, he dropped the Klingons in a nano second and is away cleverly creating cool new Kzinti ships. We were a little slow first time around and the impending solar flare (ie we were looking after 5 year old daughters and their patience is not infinite) cramped things but we were heaps faster by turn two and I can see us flying though in future.

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