Sunday, July 30, 2017

StarCruiser Ship Killers

I spent a little bit of time designing a Federation guided missile cruiser.   The ship that was used in the games has been re-classified as a guided missile destroyer.  Its designation is DDG150  The 150 designation is the size of its power plant.

The two designs for the guided missile cruiser are CG300 and CG330.  The maximum size of a fusion power plant in the rules is 300MW.  However, the battleship in the game that is being used for the Panthari Imperium has a 415MW power plant.  Therefore I created a 330MW power plant  to provide full power for the 300MW drive (the largest in the game), sensors, and laser weapons. 

While investigating the various 2300AD websites I was able to find an excel spreadsheet for designing ships.  After putting all the components into the spreadsheet, it provides all the game statistics for the ship.  Using the design spreadsheet also allows you to verify that the ship has the correct volume for the design.

The two cruiser variations have a pair of 24 meter external diameter, 21 meter internal diameter counter-rotating hamster cages/spun outer hulls that are 12 meters wide.  There is no artificial gravity in the game so various types of spun habitats are needed for crew health and comfort.   In combat the spun habitats are stopped and locked in place.   Some ship designs in the rules including the DDG150 have habitats that are on pylons that are rotated around the main hull as can be seen in the view of the DDG150 below.

The forward 12 meters of the CG's house eighteen missile bays, the bridge, the tactical operation center, life support, medical bay, and sensor equipment.   The rear of the hull houses the other eighteen missile bays and drive along with part of the fusion plant.   Due to upgrading the missiles, each missile bay occupies 100 cubic meters instead of the original 70 cubic meters in the rules.  The fusion plant is rather large and occupies over 50% of the internal hull space extending from the rear of the ship to just past the rotating habitats.  This also includes the various engineering work stations for the power plant.  The image below shows the two versions of the guided missile cruiser.
The bow is to the right.  The larger power plant of the CG330 requires an extra three meters of length added to the rear of the ship compared to the CG300.   There are 24 laser turrets arranged in six rings of four along the length of the hull with alternating rings offset by forty-five degrees.  Statistics for the ships are as follows:

                                     CG330                 CG300                   DDG150
Diameter                       24m                      24m                       21m (main hull only)
Length                           54m                      50m                       70m
Mass                              20,576 tons          18,455 tons            7,213 tons
Power Plant                   330MW               300MW                  150MW
Move Distance              9                           9                             9
Armor                            9                           3                             1
Radiated Signature        5(8)                      4(7)                        4(7)
Reflected Signature       6/7                       6/7                          5/7
Target profile                 0/1                       0/1                          0/2
Active Sensor                2x15                    2x15                        1x15
Passive Sensor               2x10                    2x10                        1x10
Laser Turrets                  24                        24                            10
Missile Bays                   36                        36                           4
Crew                               177                      174                         100
Cost                                506.27mc            462.87mc                154.12mc

The cruisers also carry four sensor drones compared to the two for the destroyer.   While their cost is about three times that of the destroyer, their missile salvo is nine times more powerful.  The armor of the CG330 can be penetrated, but with difficulty.  It costs almost as much as a Panthari battleship, but can out run it and has much better armor.   The CG300 costs about the same as a Domain battle cruiser, has half the armor, but is faster and can launch nine times as many missiles.  The CG330 is more expensive, but is better armored than the Domain BC.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Encounter at Abbadon

Captain's Log

My squadron had been dispatched to the Chrisobel star system to counter an incursion by The Domain.   Tensions between The Domain and The Federation have increased recently with The Domain attempting to gain control of neutral systems on the border between The Federation and Domain.   Our squadron has two president class missile ships.  I command the Ethan Tavernier and our sister ship is the Louis Rosen.  

The Chrisobel system has five planets and an asteroid belt.  Three of the planets are gas giants, one is a rock ball, and the innermost planet, Abbadon, is a terrestrial world.   We had passed the FTL gravitational limit for the Chrisobel system some time ago, had received a radio message that the system was now under the control of The Domain.  As we advanced in system towards Abbadon we had detected two bogeys heading towards us.  We were now approaching engagement range.

"Captain, the bogeys are now within one light minute"
"Bring our squadron up five light seconds above the elliptic and have both ships launch a sensor drone"
"Aye, Sir"

"The bogeys have altered course to our port side and have launched what appear to be two drones."
"Light up the drones and lets see what we have"
"Drones have activated sensors and we have identification, Sir.  The bogeys are two Domain Planet class missile ships and the two smaller objects are sensor drones.  Separation is now less than 45 light seconds"
"Launch missiles'
"Missiles launched.  Approximately 20 minutes to intercept...  Sensors indicate that they have launched missiles also, sir.  There are eight of them headed our way.  They will arrive in 20 minutes"
"Move us to starboard and prepare point defenses"
"The enemy is now at thirty light seconds.  Missiles at engagement range"

As the enemy missiles approached our point defense batteries opened fire taking out two of them, but the other six targeted the Rosen ripping her to shreds.  Our missiles were just as effective leaving one of the Domain ships a shattered hulk.

"Bring us around to port and launch the second drone, activate its sensors and use it as a screen to hide us from their sensors."
The enemy launched another drone also sir and is now at 20 light seconds."
"Launch another flight of missiles and target their drones"
"Missiles launched and will engage drones in ten minutes"  "Drones destroyed.  We have a lock on the enemy."
"Launch another flight of missiles and continue to screen us with the drone."
"Enemy ship has been hit and looks like it has lost its sensors, Sir.  It is heading out system"
"Hold fire.  We may need our remaining missiles.  Lets pick up the drones and survivors from the Rosen."

Below is a picture that Mike took of the game.  The star field is from JoAnn fabrics.   They carry several different fabrics with star patterns.   I found this one and another to be what I wanted and at $20 for enough material to cover a five foot by six foot table the fabric is a lot better price than the space mats that are available.  The picture shows the "flight stands that are used to designate unidentified ships.  ship models were placed on them when identified.   Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the game.   Fortunately Mike did take this one at the meeting.

The following diagram shows the relative positions of the two fleets during the game.  The federation is black and the Domain is brown.  It is not to scale.  The battle lasted for 80 minutes of game time before the remaining Domain ship fled.
Photo below is from the end of the game
The ships were the Kennedy class cruiser from the game for the Federation and the Hamburg missile cruiser for the Domain.  their statistics are as follows
                                            Federation                  Domain
Tonnage                                  7213                         12223
Movement                                 9                                3
Power Plant                          150Mw Fusion            65Mw Fission
Shields                                  none                               2
Armor                                        1                                3
Active Sensors                      30 light seconds          6 light seconds
Passive Sensors                     20 light seconds          14 light seconds
Missiles                                 20   (20 damage)          24  (12 damage)
radiated signature                  4(7)                               6
reflected signature                 7                                   7
point defense                          5                                  6
As can be seen the Domain ship is slower, but better protected by armor, screens, and point defense.  The Federation ship also has stealth material incorporated into its hull to cut down on its radiated signature.   The values for reflected and radiated are doubled to give the additional range that is added to the active and passive sensor ranges respectively for targeting.   There are no Romulan cloaking devices or similar items at this point so the presence of other ships is known, but it is necessary to use sensors to identify and precisely target opposing ships.   Previous blog posts have covered the modifications to the original board game and can be found by clicking on the StarCruiser label.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Adapting Starcruiser to the Human Space Universe

Following the game I ran at the South Bay Game Club, I spent some time revising the missiles and adapting the ships from the Starcruiser game to the Human Space setting.  For the previous game see starcruiser  and for the background see human space

During the previous games the missile movement rate was found to be too slow with the Federation cruisers being able to outrun any of them.  I was able to replace the power plants and drives in the missiles with improved and more powerful versions, increasing their movement rate to 14, while still being able to maintain a size that was close to or the same as the originals.  I also found an article on one of the 2300AD web sites that included revised stats for the missiles in the game that were done using the article from Challenge Magazine 36 on the anatomy of a missile.  This article is important as the missiles cannot be built using the data in the ship design manual that is included with the game.  While the revised missile stats from the website article had a faster movement the fastest one was only 11.  This was still too low to catch the American cruiser before the missile ran out of fuel, if the American ship decided to run before the distance was too close.
One item that was ignored when I redesigned the missiles was the hull mass.   In the game and the various supplement books for the 2300AD universe most missiles are shown as pointed nose cylinders.  Dimension vary from one to two meters in diameter and five to seven meters long.   A modern submarine torpedo is just over half a meter in diameter and about 6 meters long.
Since space has no atmospheric resistance missiles could be any shape and do not require a strong external hull to maintain integrity as the drives in the game do not create an acceleration stress.   The hull can be made of light weight plastic with some internal bracing/connectors between the components.   Cost and mass would be minimal for that type of hull.   As for shape, the missile could be a cylindrical can without the pointed nose, a cube, or shaped like a brick.  Cubes and/or bricks would be slightly easier to store than a cylinder
Starcruiser includes ships for the French, Germans, United States, Manchuria, Russia, and several other nations.  The more modern ships are in the French, US, and German fleets.  Since the French had the greatest variety of ship types I assigned them to the Panthari Imperium.  The US ships went to the Federation and the German ships were designated for the Domain.  
The German ships are not quite as advanced as the US and French which fits with the Domain's technological status compared to the others.  Their ships in the game are a battleship/battle cruiser type, a missile cruiser, a frigate, and a fighter.  The supplemental books provide additional fighters.
The French ships in the game are a large battleship, a cruiser, several frigates, and a fighter.   The "Ships of the French Arm" and "Invasion" books include another version of the battleship, a couple of frigates, and several fighters.
The Americans only have the missile cruiser and a fighter in the game, but a frigate was in an issue of Challenge Magazine, and a battleship was noted in the Invasion book.
The marauding aliens are covered by the invading alien ships in the game and other books.  They tend to use large, heavily armored and screened ships.  They do have a couple of fighters also.  Their heavier ships are 70,000 to 74,000 tons, their intermediate sized ship is 47,000 tons, and their smallest warship is 13,000 tons.   This compares to the Panthari battleship at 60,000 tons, the Domain battle cruiser at 27,000 tons, and the Federation cruiser at 7200 tons.  The Federation cruiser should probably be re-designated as a missile frigate.
The ships for the other nations in the game will be used for the various unaligned worlds as needed.
There is another spacefaring alien race in the books.  They use organic technology and their ships are living creatures.  At this point they are not included in the Human Space setting.
I ran a game at last weekend's Miniature Wargaming Society of Sacramento meeting using the increased missile movement rate.   The  game matched a pair of the Federation missile cruisers against a pair of Domain missile cruisers.   The after action report for that game will be in the next blog post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

South Bay Game Club June Meeting

Even though the May meeting was held two weeks previously and Kublacon was the week before, the turnout tor the June meeting was good.   Five games were run: Mike Simpson ran a Dragon Rampant game set in Wales, Kent Reuber ran an English Civil War battle using Regiment of Foote, Ix ran a WWI naval battle between Russia and Germany at Libau,  Chuck Staedler ran a Sky's the Limit air game set in 1944, and I ran a fictional Second Punic War Battle set about the time of Trebia using Scutarii.

The Romans had a full consular army versus an almost equal point army from Carthage.   Hannibal  had his morale modifier increased from one to two and would win ties for initiative.  The armies were as follows:

GENERALS +1 X 14 X + OR - 1 OR 0 X 1+4 X
VELITES 3 5 6,8 2" 10 7 10 70
HASTATI 3+2 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
PRINCIPES 3+2 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
TRIARII 4 6 6 X 10 9 10 90
CAVALRY 3 6 12,14 2" 10 10 6 60
HANNIBAL +1 X 14 X + OR - 2,1,OR 0 5 1 10
GENERALS +1 X 14 X + OR - 1 OR 0 X 4 X
SLINGERS 2 5 6,8 2" 11 8 1 8
LT. INF. 3 5 6,8 2" 11 8 7 56
AFRICAN INF. 4 6 6 X 11 10 8 80
SPANISH INF. 3 5 6 X 11 8 4 32
GALLIC INF. 3 5 6 X 10 6 10 60
NUMIDIAN  3 5 12,14 2" 11 9 4 36
SPANISH HORSE 3 6 12,14 2" 11 10 3 30
GALLIC HORSE 3 6 12,14 2" 10 9 5 45
ELEPHANT 4 6 8 X 10 11 4 44

The Roman army had 2000 cavalry and 18,000 infantry.   The Carthaginians had 15,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, and 20 elephants.  The battlefield was 6 feet wide by 5 feet deep on two 2.5 by 8 foot tables.

Greg (on the left) was Hannibal, Gary (on the right) was Mago,

Alan (in front) and Robert (to the rear) were the Roman commanders.

The turn sequence is dicing for initiative with the higher score deciding which side would move for that turn,  the side moving first makes any morale checks followed by their movement and missile fire, then a melee phase, then the second side makes any morale checks followed by movement and missile fire then a melee phase.   Moving units may conduct missile fire at any point during their movement if they have missile weapons.  The defending side can return fire if they are shot at or charged.

Prior to the battle both sides placed terrain features.   For a 400 point game each side could place up to four features.   The Romans placed three hills and Carthage placed two small woods (one on each flank) and two hills. Terrain features may be placed anywhere on the table except for the opposing side's deployment area.   After the terrain pieces were placed, both sides diced for them, with the higher score determining whether they would stay or be removed.  Tie scores go the side that placed the terrain feature.   The Carthaginians added one to their die roll for having twice as many scouting points.  One of the Roman hills was removed and the Roman players were able to remove the woods on the left flank of the Carthaginian army.

Initial deployment
The Roman army deployed in their standard formation with the legions in the center and chose to deploy their cavalry equally on both flanks.   Hannibal (Greg) chose to have two-thirds of his cavalry make a flank attack on his right.  All the elephants were deployed on the right flank with most of the remaining cavalry on the left flank.  The light infantry formed a skirmish screen and the heavy infantry was deployed with gaps between the units.

Carthage won the initiative for the first turn and the Romans won the initiative for all the other turns.  The Carthaginian plan was to let the Romans advance far enough forward so that flanking cavalry would arrive behind their lines.

By the third turn the two armies were engaged in combat.  On the Roman right the three cavalry units engaged the two of the Spanish horse and one Numidian cavalry unit.  The Carthaginians eventually were able to break the Roman horse, but their cavalry was exhausted by that time.   On the other flank the elephants and one Numidian cavalry unit broke the Roman horse leaving the left flank of the Roman infantry exposed.

Elephants on Carthaginian right make contact with a unit of Roman cavalry

The armies approach each other and the Roman cavalry on the right engage the Carthaginian horse

 Roman cavalry on their left flank flee from the elephants, while some of the elephants decide to quit the field.

The two armies engage in combat.  The three cavalry units on the Roman right exchange blows with their opponents.  The velites and the Carthaginian light infantry have fallen back to the rear of the main battle lines.  The small numbered markers are used to keep track of damage to each unit and accumulate throughout the battle.

Half of the elephants had left the field by the time the rest of the Carthaginian cavalry arrived on the field.   Some of the Carthaginian horse headed for the Roman camp while the rest were blocked from engaging the flank and rear of the Roman army by fleeing infantry from the Roman left flank.  With nothing else to do several units of cavalry proceeded to chase down the fleeing Romans and drive them from the field.

Carthaginian flanking cavalry arrive
In the center the Roman infantry was slowly cutting its way through the opposing Carthaginian infantry.

Gauls in the Carthaginian center recoil along with some of the Spanish to their left.
Rush hour on the Via Apia as Roman left flank infantry flees

Hannibal had managed to rally some wavering Gauls and urge them to continue fighting.  Just as it looked like the Romans would break through and escape their camp was captured.  Roman morale collapsed and victory went to the Carthaginians.  Losses for the Carthaginians were just over 1000 infantry and a few cavalry.  About half the Roman army was slain and the rest captured.

6mm figures.  Roman army by Rapier.  Carthage is a mix of Baccus, H&R, and Irregular.

Monday, May 8, 2017

April South Bay Game Club Meeting

There were four games being played at the April meeting.   The airplane guys were running a scenario where a damaged B27 was trying to make it back to safety.   This one finished early when the B27 got shot down.

Mike was running a Dragon Rampant game set in the age of Arthur.

Nick ran a French intervention in Mexico game.  Lunch break.

The one that I participated in was a Too The Strongest Game with Carthagenians vs. Romans.   To the Strongest uses an activation system for moving units with a one in ten chance of not activating a unit, but also allowing a second attempt to activate if a general is available.   Activation sytems are common in a number of ancient rules where you have to either equal and exceed or equal and be less than a certain score.   While it introduces a certain amount of fog of war, it makes it difficult to simulate the Gallic charges that Caesar describes in his book on the conquest of Gaul.   There is one set I know of where there is a one in six chance of not activating a unit.   So imagine 60,000 Gauls charging and each turn 10,000 of them decide to halt and maybe block the guys behind them  Fortunately that was not the case in this game.  We used a new rule that guys who had gone to England said had been introduced where for the first activation attempt one card was drawn for all the units in a command for the first activation of a turn.   The rules also allow a general to draw a second card for units he is with or near to activate them if the first fails.   This went a long way towards reducing the change of a complete failure to about 1%.

The rules use a deck of 80 numbered cards for activations, combat, etc.   These actually play faster than dice, but the odds of drawing a card change each time compared to rolling a 10 sided die.   There are a lot of games that I have played that use 10, 12, 8 and 4 sided dice in addition to plain old 6 sided and even average dice.   An extreme example of card draw changing the odds happened during the game.  The first ten cards I drew on one turn were all six or higher.    This changed the odds of getting a six or higher for the next draw, which I needed for a hit, to about 43% instead of 50%.  This was an extreme case though as most of the turns the card draw tended to even out.

I was the commander for Carthage with Lawrence as my right wing commander and Chuck as my left wing commander.   Bill McHugh commanded the Romans with Kent as his right wing commander and Robert as his left wing commander.  The Romans card draw gave them the first move for each turn.  The Roman army was about half a full consular army with three units of heavy cavalry, four velites, five each of Hastati and Princepes, and five units of Triarii.   Our army had two units of heavy Spanish infantry, four units of heavy African infantry, two deep units of Gauls,  four units of light javelins, one unit of slingers, two units of elephants, two units of light cavalry,  and five units of heavy cavalry.   Points were 150 each.  I chose to weight our left wing more heavily than the right.  Chris was the game master and supplied the armies from his collection of 15mm figures.   The squares were 4 inches/100 mm across.

Our plan was to have the two cavalry wings encircle the Roman army with the elephants taking out the cavalry and draw the Roman infantry into the center/   Chris had made the Roman cavalry used to elephants so that part of our plan wasn't going to turn out as expected.  

The first turn saw the Romans make a normal move forward.   Our wings made march moves.   On the second turn the Romans started moving infantry to support the wings.   I then attempted to advance our infantry center to aid the wings with mixed luck on the activations.   Our wings engaged the Romans with the right wing not fairing too well and the left getting held up.   The Roman infantry center became disjointed with the middle advancing to engage our infantry and the flanking infantry engaging our cavalry.   This allowed me to attack the ends of the Roman center with multiple units.

Eventually I was able to help our right wing and keep it from being overwhelmed, destroy the Roman center and eliminate the Roman infantry on our left.   Chuck was able to take out the Roman cavalry opposing him and move units towards the center so that they would help defeat what was left of the Roman infantry.

The loss of a unit in the game does not trigger any morale checks by units next to it, but does count towards overall command and army morale.   A command becoming ineffective once it exceeds 50% casualties, which happened to our right wing command.   Our initial plan had succeeded though not quite in the way it was initially intended to.  In addition to losing both elephant units we also lost some cavalry and one of the Spanish heavy infantry while destroying the Roman army.   Sadly our losses made those of Pyrrhus look mild in comparison. 

The game was fast paced and fun to play.  It lasted about three hours.  We still had plenty of time for a second game before the club meeting was over,  Robert had already left before the game was done and several of the other players had errands to run so we called it a day.  Thanks to Lawrence for taking the pictures.

 Our army
 Lawrence' wing 
Another view of Lawrence' wing
 The center, shortly before the destruction of the Roman infantry.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Blitzkriegcommander III

I received the newest version of the Blitzkrieg Commander series a couple days ago.   After Pendraken purchased the commander series I have been waiting for this to be completed so that they could then proceed to update Cold War Commander and Future War Commander to the format used for BKC II.

Shortly before receiving BKCIII I started noticing posts on The Miniatures Page, the Commander Series forums and the Pendraken forums about problems with the army lists and rules.  The arrival of the rules confirmed these problems.

The army lists are vital as they provide the vehicle stats for playing.  Some army lists are missing a number of vehicles that were included in the second edition.  While in some cases there are years of service listed for vehicles they do not include the month they entered service.  Armor values for PZIV drop off in army lists for later years.  There are other items that have been noted.

The rules for recon units are contradictory and prevent them from being used in some cases.   Forward Artillery Observers and Forward Air Controllers are now just listed as a Forward Observer.  FAC's were not equipped or trained to direct artillery nor were FAO's trained or equipped to direct air attacks.   By combing them as one item, all those army lists that did not have FAC's now do, even if they do not have the planes to direct.  The scenarios do not have force ratios,  the tactical doctrine rules that gave a bonus to CV for rigid doctrine units in the same formation are gone, field defenses are free?!?!?!, etc.

In BKC second edition Rigid Tactical Doctrine required formations be created at the start of the game and maintained throughout it.   If the same order was given to all units in the formation then they received a bonus to their command role encouraging group action.   Now any group of units in the same formation can be grouped together each turn and given an order with no bonus. 

While there were some changes that might be good, there are a lot of unnecessary changes that have been made.  The updating of the rules was entrusted by Leon of Pendraken to someone he felt was an experienced rules author.  Instead of doing that the author made wholesale changes that were not needed.  While there have been a number of rules questions raised on the Pendraken forums the author has not responded to any of them as of this time.  Others on the forum have noticed that he has logged in, but has not responded.

There have been posts by experienced BKC players who have tried to play the new rules, given up after a turn or two, and reverted to using BKC II to finish the games.

I feel sorry for Leon that this has happened.   While still listed on his site and at Wargames Vault the third edition is no longer available for purchase.  Leon has also established a pole on the Forum requesting input on a way forward.  I also regret that I did not have the time to volunteer and participate as a play tester.   If I had I would have raised strenuous objections to what was happening.
There is a post on the Pendraken forum from one who participated from the beginning of BKC I through BKC II who also regrets not being able to participate in the update of the rules.

A bit of an update.  I visited the Pendraken forums and noted that Leon has posted that they plan to do a reprint within the next two to three months.  I hope that they are able to do a proper fix and not rush it.  Leon's post

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Spanish tourists

I needed to paint  some more Spanish for Hannibal's army.  These guys are Baccus' Spanish scutarii.  There are four different poses on each regular strip and additional ones on each command strip. 192 of them.