Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Galactic Knights - First Two Battles

    Barry and I got together this weekend to try out the Galactic Knights rules for the first time. I had read them through several months ago, but pretty much forgotten everything in the meantime, while Barry had never seen them before. Not surprisingly, therefore, we started with the introductory scenario, section 2.5, "Operation Greenhorn" Although this called for using all Terran ships, I used Avarian models (with Terran stats) for interest, while Barry's forces were modeled with the actual Terran ships as called for in the scenario. As noted earlier this year, I have owned these miniatures (originally produced by Superior Miniatures as their Starfleet Wars line)  for decades, and painted them many years ago - see my earlier posts detailing the models and their stats in the original Starfleet Wars rules.

    So, we set the ships out, and had at it! The first turn we mis-remembered the range bands, and thought we were out of range of even the long range weapons - hah, not the case! Long range, although not relevant for the Light and Medium beams that were most of the ship's armament, is a whopping 12 to 24 hexes. As we were both learning the rules, we chose to just ignore the mistake when it was recognized during the Combat phase of Turn 2.

Here are the positions of the ships at the conclusion of movement, Turn 2. The white, triangular, Star Wars Imperial type ships on the right are the Terrans, and the dark blue, bird-like ships on the left are my Avarians. The six sided dice were what we decided to use for "Drift" markers. Each ship has its own unique drift marker, and the movement system uses them as a clever but simple way to reflect inertia/vector movement. Each Turn STARTS with a drift phase. At that time, each ships DRIFT marker is moved from the hex it occupies into the hex of its ship, and the ship is then displaced the exact same distance and direction as the marker was itself moved. If the situation was as illustrated above, then each ship would DRIFT forwards 2 hexes in the direction it is facing, as all of the ships have their drift markers directly to the rear, two hexes away.  

Here is the situation after Movement on Turn three. My Avarians have kept a tight formation, while Barry's Terrans have split up their formation somewhat; I don't recall the results of the Turn 2 fire exactly, but I think one of my Destroyers (the smaller models) took moderately heavy damage, while I rolled poorly and did little damage to my targets. Note that my Avarians still have their drift markers uniformly behind them 2 hexes, while Barry's Terrans have their Drift markers in different configurations. After ships DRIFT, and INITIATIVE roll is made - opposed D10 rolls, with a +1 modifier for each functioning sensor unit your Fleet has above that of the enemy, up to a maximun of +4. The Winner of the Roll then chooses whether to be the Alpha side or the Beta side. The Alpha side moves HALF their ships, the the Beta side moves ALL their ships, then the Alpha side moves the other half of their ships. It costs 2 maneuver points to move 1 hex straight ahead, 1 MP to turn 1 hex side of facing (i.e., 60 degrees), and 1 MP to move the ship's DRIFT marker 1 hex in any dire4ction. Any combination of the above, an any order are permitted, except that a ship cannot enter a hex containing another ship. Well, *actually*, that is just for this scenario's teaching purpose; thereafter you can move through your own ships but not enemy ships, but you still cannot END your move in the same hex as another ship, friendly OR enemy.

Here is the situation at the end of Turn 3. The Terrans have concentrated their fire, with the DD's Battle Axe and Warhammer combining with the DDL Dauntless; this combined fire power punched through the shields and armor and knocked the ship out of action. The Avarian DD Thrush is seen here venting plasma, as her crew flee to the escape pods before she goes critical!The DDL Falcon and DD Raven look on, having done much less damage to the Terrans once again.

Situation at the end of Turn 4; the inertia (DRIFT) of the opposing fleets has caused them to pass by each other, thus having to maneuver around to stay engaged. Combat is fairly simple - each Weapon system rolls a D10. The number "To Hit" is determined by the ship's profile, smaller ships having lower numbers (4 for the DD's), and larger ships having higher numbers (5 for the DDL's). Rolls Less than or equal to the target's profile hit the target. The damage done depends upon the Weapon and the range - at Short range (4 hexes or less), Light beams do 2 damage, Medium 3, and Heavy 4 damage. Each layer of shields deflects one point of damage, except that rolls of 1 or 2 ignore the shields. Damage points that get past the Shields one way or the other then are scored on the armor; we played it wrong and had it so that all the armor on a given facing had to be destroyed before interior damage was done; this was an error caused by a quick skim of the rules; in fact, this works in layers as well, so the 1st layer of armor takes one hit, and then the next point goes on the second layer, etc. Any damage from a given weapon above that then goes directly onto the ship's interior systems.  So, if a Heavy battery firing at close range scored 4 damage on a ship (and not on a roll of 1 or 2) with one layer of shields and two layers of armor, the first point would be deflected by the shields, and one hit each marked off on the first and second layers of armor; the final point would go on to hit an internal system, the exact system being determined by the ship's layout (on its ship chart), and the roll of another D10 for each shot that does interior damage. Had the same shot scored with a roll of "1" or "2", then the shield(s) would be ignored, one point each marked off on the 1st and second layers of armor, and the remaining 2 points of damage would continue onto the interior systems. A single D10 is then rolled for both damage points scored by the same weapon, and two hits are then marked off on the same column. This matters because once hits have been marked off all of a column of interior systems, any and all additional hits on that column go straight through and start marking off "Critical Hits"; when all of those are gone, the ship is destroyed/surrenders!We got that part (all interior hits from the same weapon go on the same row) wrong, too, this first time out!

Here is the situation at the end of Turn 5. In the Combat phase of Turn 4, Avarian fire knocked out the engines of the Terran DD Battle Axe (with the red drift die behind it). This means that it is doomed to continue moving 2 hexes in the same direction until it moves off the table, as it has no thrust to change its drift or direction. Ouch! The shield generators are another interior system that can be destroyed; when they are knocked out, that layer of shields on the appropriate facing(s) are inoperative. That lead to a question on our part, as to whether each shot should be calculated individually (in case in knocked out the shields for a subsequent shot). We did it that way, but I think the intent was that all shots fired by a given ship at a given target be calculated simultaneously. This is much simpler. The Combat phase of GK is done by alternating ships, one at a time, starting with the Apha player. Whatever damage that ship scores on its target(s) is assessed immediately; thus a ship that is crippled or destroyed will have little or no shot compared to what it might have had had it shot before being damaged. This makes the selection of the firing order for your ships quite important. Also, all weapons and defensive systems have set fields of fire/defense, so it can be advantageous to position your ship with its more damaged side away from the enemy. In addition to doing this by turning the ship, for 1 MP a ship can "roll", thus inverting the right and left sides of the ship from the standard - in the picture above, the light blue glass bead in the hex with the Avarian SDL indicates that the ship has indeed "rolled". There are printed markers provided for "Rolled" ships (as well as DRIFT markers), but I hadn't bothered to print them out for the game.

Situation at the end of Turn 6. The Battleaxe continues drifting out of the action, while the Avarian DD Raven has disengaged by jumping into hyperspace (the shimmering gold in the hex indicating the residual energies left by its departure. Meanwhile, the Avarian DDL Falcon has put maximum thrust into disengaging (its Jump/Warp drive, another interior system, was damaged by Terran fire last turn)
. Victory to Commodore Barry and his Terrans!

    As hoped for, we had time to spare before Barry was due to take the Czarina out to dinner (the Empress was away for the day, so I had no such constraints, LOL). Therefore we proceeded to the second teaching scenario, 3.6, Advanced Training: Operation Minion. This scenario again has three ships a side, each side having a Star Bomber, a Crusier, and a Battle Cruiser. This introduces three new weapons, the Plasma Torpedoes (here carried on the Star Bombers), Missiles (here carried on the Cruisers), and Fighters (here carried on the Battlecruisers). Once again, although both sides used the Terran designs, I used Terran models for Barry's force, and Avarian ones for mine.

This is the situation at the end of Turn 3 (I think). In turn 2, I knocked out the engines on Barry's Starbomber with some medium range fire; it was thus doomed to maintain course and speed, and as all of its weapons, including the deadly but volatile Plasma Torpedoes (fired in salvos of five each, doing 4 points per hit, but if a full magazine is hit by enemy fire, they explode and the ship is destroyed) are effective at Short range only, I have cleverly maneuvered to keep my ships OUT of harm's way. I have launched  Salvo of five Missiles from my Cruiser (the penny) as did Barry (I shot all of his missiles down with my Light Beams, which can double as point defense), and placed my Starbomber at close range from his Cruiser. Unfortunately, Barry was Alpha fleet this time and concentrated the fire of his Battle Cruiser, the Excalibur, on my deadly but fragile SB, the Icarus. Miraculously missing both Plasma Torpedo bays, the shots still eliminated all of the ships Critical Hit boxes, and thus the Icarus is seen venting plasma. However this meant that my first shot was with the Missile salvo, which, along with fire from the Avarian Battle Cruiser Eagle and the Cruiser Peregrine did heavy damage to the Terran Cruiser Fearless. This managed to knock out her engines as well, greatly reducing the Terran fleet's maneuver options!

Situation at the end of Turn 4; Both Cruisers launched their second and final salvo of missiles (in the simple fighter/missile rules, these are launched during the movement of the parent ship, and then move 12 hexes in any direction!). Both Battle cruisers have launched 2 squadrons of fighters (the maximum their launchers will allow in a single turn). Each BC carries 2 squadrons each of Light (interceptor) and Heavy (like torpedo bombers) Fighters. Barry has launched his Heavy fighters, while I have launched my Light fighters, planning to take out his missiles and Heavy fighters, and save my own Heavy fighters for a later assault upon his powerful Battle Cruiser. In the event, I shot down all of his Heavy fighters before they could get their shots off, as well as almost all of his missiles. Some of my own missiles survived the cruiser's Point Defense shots, and went on to inflict additional damage on the already crippled Cruiser Fearless.  My own BC Eagle and CC Peregrine concentrated their Medium and Heavy beams on the Terran BC Excalibur, scuffing its armor up a bit in the process. I also put the Terran SB out its misery with a few well placed shots, once again incredibly missing both of the Plasma Torpedo Bays but eliminating all critical hit boxes.

Situation at the end of the Drift Phase of Turn 5; The Terran Cruiser has drifted completely off the board; Barry wins the initiative and, in view of the odds against him, jumps to hyperspace while he still can. The Avarians tweet and warble in celebration of their victory over the smooth-skinned monkeys!

    It took us less than 4 hours, starting from a bare table and both being almost ignorant of the rules, to complete both games. We made more than a few errors, but the games went quickly and generally smoothly, and were fun to play. The combination of the weapon's fields of fire, shield and armor orientations, and the Drift movement created plenty of incentive for maneuver. This was welcome, as that was the big gripe I had with the original Starfleet Wars rules; aside from the need to anticipate your enemy's actions to a degree (movement and targeting were according to written orders), the strategy involved in the games was pretty much limited to trying to get into the optimum range for your particular race's weapons configuration. I look forward to trying the alternate "Command" Fighter/Missile rules, and then the real Avarian/Terran teaching scenarios!

    One might note that the space field is rather "blue" looking; I have a nice space mat (old GeoHex), but it is not gridded. I made this old Naval mat a few decades ago, using blue felt and an iron on template. It has seen better days, and probably a few mice.

"There's a Tear in the Fabric of Space" - Literally!

    I guess I'll have to break down and get a gridded Space mat, either from Glaactic knights here ($44), or
The Panzer Depot here ($33 - they sell most GK products at a substantialo discount, and have given great service), or a Hotz Mat (similar in price to GK, many sizes and grids available).



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  2. Glad to see you and Barry getting to the rules this weekend. The games do go quickly, and are always fun. When you start using the fleet specific rules, mostly different weaponry, you'll find that the successful tactics vary by the opponent you face.

    Of course, the Aquarians get to use any weaponry they want, as they don't have their own rules yet! ;-)

  3. That looks like a lot of fun!

  4. Four hours from zero to full gaming sounds great, there's something that's always been appealing to me about 'big space battles' I may have to check these out.

    Be careful of that tear in the fabric of space, nothing good can ever come of those things.

    1. "Be careful of that tear in the fabric of space..."

      I can say that I have NEVER seen that phrase used literally before.

    2. LOL; as I'm sure you both know, it's am line form an old Star Trek episode, I think TNG.

      Barry and I are mutually supportive in our bad jokes! :-)