This article is a battle report of a different kind. That it is one of a different kind is due to the fact that the game itself was anything but ordinary. It was not a standard game of Star Wars: Armada where two fleets of 400 points would fight against each other according to the well known rules. In this game two fleets of a size of 1500 (!) points per side faced each other on VASSAL.
But what is special about this battle report? I want to tell it in form of a story, but again a story of a different kind. The point of this story will be that it will be interrupted for explanations and pictures of what happened on the virtual gaming table. I want to interpose the rules and decisions the players made in the game .
And with that enough has been said. The prologue can start. It covers fleet design and the part of the game setup before fleets are deployed.
Thrawn was in his private rooms of his flagship, the Imperial Star Destryoer Chimaera. He pondered the imminating conflict. General Solo was a gambler. Of course Solo knew that he knew it: Solo was preparing a trap. The rebel led a major part of the rebel alliance fleet to the Nebula Gate – a strange space anomaly between two space trade stations. Solo had taken some care that Thrawn discovered its strength: 13 capital ships and close to 10 squadrons of starfighters.
Grand Admiral Thrawn considered it to be an insult how stupidly scrambled the rebel communication was and how obviously prepared the trap. Of course Solo knew that a major part of the 7th Fleet was in the sector. The imperial spy droids even reported that the scrambled figures about the strength of the rebel fleet were correct. Mostly retrofitted transports, some even from the clone wars era: Pelta class, Hammerhead class, a Nebulon B, and even some GR75 transports.
What bothered Thrawn were the rebel reinforcements. The also intentionally stupidly scrambled call for help mentioned two Assault Frigates. But even with them, the rebel fleet was no match for the 7th Fleet. It was a trap. And like every good trap, it was not obvious what the trap did consist in.
But nothing is as satisfactory like turning a trap, Thrawn mused. He pulled some strings within the imperial navy. Old friends, the Blood Crow Gozanti class and the Thunder Wasp Arquittens class were on their way to accompany his fleet. Thrawn managed to get in addition another Star Destroyer, the Avenger, and a second Quasar to his help. He even had a special surprise for Solo up his sleeve: The bounty hunter Boba Fett could be allured to settle his score with that rascal smuggler wanna be general. Even if the rebels would bring in twice the number of Assault Frigates, they would be severely outnumbered.
But Thrawn had bigger troubles than the rebel reinforcements arriving. Unpleasant imperial help was on the way: Darth Vader heeded the call as well. The incalculable dark lord could make a mess out of Thrawn's well developed plans. Most likely he would take over the command and sacrifice everything in order to get this Luke Skywalker in his hands.
Thrawn had to act immediately. If the battle was already raging before his reinforcements arrived – before Vader arrived – the dark lord would have less time to ruin everything. The Grand Admiral gave the order to jump to the Nebula Gate. The battle would start right when the rebel fleet tried to pass the gate.
"So, General Solo," Thrawn thought, "let us see, how often this trap will be turned!"
Han liked a good game. And he liked it especially, if it was rigged. But he was not sure, who rigged this one. Chewie was growling next to him. “Yes, I know! Our new friends need to be good. Really good. In fact, to be better than our entire fleet!” Hopefully, Mon Mothma's estimation that this new alliance might turn the tables was correct. He looked out of the window of the Falcon. Stupid transports! 6 Hammerhead transports with hastily on the external hull attached ordonance racks; 4 unarmed transports grouped into two flotillas; two clone wars era medical pelta ships retrofitted for fleet commanding, but not – not at all! - ready to face several Imperial Star Destroyers. And a lonely Nebulon B frigate. This was suicide. Hopefully, farmer boy and his starfighters would work some wonders!
“Chewie, check those flashy hyperspace hot wiring devices Madame Syndulla came up with! We really need them to work.” He was a gambler. Hera was not. Did this mean that if she trusted those devices, they would work? Everything depended on hot wiring the hyperspace points were the imperial big guns would appear – and even more where their own 'new friends' would arrive. Their 'new friends' – ha! So, when they appear their 'skilled' Admiral would take over command. Four ships! Merely four ships their help did consist in! He couldn't see how that would help against several Imperial Star Destroyers. Solo had already 13 ships in his fleet – and they had no chance against the imperial fleet this Thrawn guy was commanding. How could four ships make a difference? Hopefully, not the entire 7th Fleet would arrive. Of course Thrawn expected a trap. Hence, Han ordered to bluff by scrambling some talk about two Assault Frigates. With so little forces expected, would Thrawn merely send a vanguard to the battle? On the other hand, even with four more ships a vanguard still meant a serious battle. Han laughed bitterly to himself. At least their 'new friends' had some flashy names for their ships: Defiance, Home One, Endeavor, and Liberty. Soon the rebels would see what the Mon Calamari, their 'new friends', would bring to the table!
The rules used were nearly identical to those of the all out offensive of the Correlian Conflict campaign. The most important difference was that merely two fleets of a strength of 1500 points each participated here, not 3 per side of 500 points each. In addition there was merely one fleet commander per side (namely Thrwan and Raddus, who had been declared to be part of the rebel reinforcements during the game setup). Everything else was similar, namely:
- No objectives.
- Seven game rounds.
- Each side had to keep parts of its fleet in reinforcments (they were the 'contacts' Thrawn thought about as well as the the 'new friends' of the rebel alliance).
- Hyperspace points have been placed on the board. There the reinforcements would arrive.
- The first player advantage is the same as in a normal game (however mitigated by the fact that in a case of so many ships the first activation is not as important as in a standard game). In addiation the first player has to deploy his 3 hyperspace points first and he can deny specific areas for the hyperspace points of the second player (because all hyperspace points have to be further away from each other than distance 5.
- The second player has the advantage that he declares his reinforcements after the first player declared his. In addition he deploys his reinforcements after the first player and is thereby able to adjust his tactics.
My opponent (forum name Visovics in the FFG forum) chose the imperial side, I played the rebel alliance. At the point the prologue ended, merely fleets had been composed, obstacles deployed, hyperspace points placed, and reinforcements declared.
For fleet composition we worked with some additional rules:
- There had to be at least 1 ISD and 1 MC80 in game. They had to be the flagships.
- The following squadrons had to be in game: Darht Vader, Boba Fett, Luke, Wedge, Biggs, Han Solo, and Hera Syndulla.
- The following generic squadrons could not be chosen: Firesprays, Aggressors, Jumpmasters, YV-666, YT2400, YT1300, Lancer, HWK, VCX.
- Because this meant that the rebels had no way to get the key words Strategic and Relay, the Millenium Falcon and the Ghost got each of them (which were the hot wiring devices Solo mentioned in the prologue).
The fleet of the empire (without reinforcements) consisted in the following units (for a more detailed list click here; one simply has to add the title Chimaere to the flagship as well as the Fleet Command Intensify Fire):
- 2 ISD
- 1 Quasar
- 2 Arquittens
- 3 Gozanti
- 22 squadrons
The imperial reinforcments consisted in (for a more detailed list click here):
- 1 ISD
- 1 Quasar
- 1 Arquitens
- 1 Gozanti
- 11 squadrons (among them Darth Vader and Boba Fett)
The fleet of the rebel alliance (without reinforcements) consisted in the following units (for a more detailed list click here):
- 2 Pelta
- 6 Hammerheads
- 2 GR75
- 12 squadrons (among them the Millenium Falcon and the Ghost)
The rebel reinforcments consisted in (for a more detailed list click here):
- Defiance (with Admiral Raddus as Fleet Commander)
- 8 B-Wing Squadrons
The following image presents the state of the game after placing obstacles and hyperspace points:
In the center there is the Nebula Gate, which is mentioned in the story several times: the passage that is formed by the two nebula obstacles. The player edge of my opponent is on the top whereas mine is on the bottom.
The entire point of my fleet is that a major part (nearly half of its fleet points) is still in hyperspace. Because I have chosen Admiral Raddus as fleet commander, it was possible to move four large base Mon Calamari ships into the reinforcements (including Raddus). Because of that the story mentions Han Solo as commander (allthough he is not according to the rules) - and it is said that the arriving Admiral will take command.
In der Mitte befindet sich das Nebeltor, von der in der Erzählung die Rede war: nämlich die Passage zwischen den beiden Nebel-Hindernissen. Der Startzone meines Gegners ist oben, meine Rebellenschiffe werden unten platziert werden.
My basic strategy is simple: I want to deploy my four big guns in the rear of my opponent - resulting his ships being nearly unable to defend themselves. Hera and Han have to move the hyperspace points of my opponent out of reach that his reinforcements will not cross my plans.
Will it work? Read the next article! Until then I will chew some dark side carrots.
To be continued