Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Colonial Battlefleet - First Game

Played a game of CBF against Matt yesterday evening, and it went fairly well.  We rolled 2d10 for tech points, receiving 13 each (not very many), then decided to play an Unprepared Defense scenario, as was suitable for our actual unpreparedness.  Fleets were constructed, point values were misunderstood, and we ended up with two fleets of three ships each.  I sort of won, by taking out his two escorts and reducing his battleship to half hull while he had only inflicted 1/3 damage on each of my escorts and none on my battleship, so we called it because it was getting late.  Observations:
  • This system loves big, fat battleships.  The fleet composition rules favor them, the caps on defensive systems and weapons per battery favor them, and the weapon availability table favor them.  An armor-10 battleship with heavy railguns and some sort of shield-stripper weapon (phasers, heavy phasers, torps) is nigh-invulnerable to the fire of light ships and can destroy them with impunity.  It fears only other battleships (and possibly things carrying lots of anti-ship missiles or heavy torps).  Matt commented at one point that this was "OGRE in space."
  • I am not yet sure what the proper function of light ships is.  Filling out extra tonnage available after buying a battleship is good, but having two smaller battleships instead is probably better.  The light ship roles (scout, screen) seem like useful support functions but I'm also sort of dubious of light ships' ability to survive near battleships.  They are also good, however, for jumping in front of missiles to protect your battleship (unless destroyed by enemy fire first).  I guess "cloak in, launch ASGMs at close range, run away" might work.
  • Missiles are sort of scary because they ignore shields, come in packs, are hard to shoot down, and penetrate armor well, but can also only move in a fairly restricted lattice pattern (think bishops in chess).  Humans are liable to make mistakes and move ships into missile-threatenable areas, but I suspect an optimalish computer player could avoid them most of the time.
  • Max shields + Defender is pretty good.  I had a pair of cruisers constructed in this fashion, and each was capable of surviving about three turns of close-range fire from Matt's battleship.
  • Maneuver is tricky; I went fast, Matt went slow, and I ended up making two passes through his line.  Movement seems much more important than in Starmada (despite wider firing arcs), and the trick I think is keeping one's own concentration of force tighter than that of one's enemy.  This permits you to focus the fire of multiple ships on a single shield facing of a single target, while causing the enemy to split his fire across multiple of your shield facings (though this can also be bad if those are the weaker rear facings).  Their inertial system, while unrealistic for space, played pretty well (except when we forgot to write down new velocities) and added a nice wrinkle.
  • Initiative and the tactical vs aggressive decision is really important.  Matt had a flagship for +init, but my d10s were hot and I won init for three decisive turns in a row (wherein I did most of my damage).  And then he started winning init again and I started running away from his battleship that I could barely hurt.
  • Fighters are more annoying than lethal, but can serve to knock down shields and let punchy weapons through.  I could see a carriers+railguns fleet working pretty well.  I also want to try a quantum+laser fleet with phasers for breaking shields and disruptors for hull, with ASGMs for punching through on heavily-armored targets like BBs.
  • I think spacial disruption torps, grapeshot, and missiles all sort of serve the aim of breaking up enemy concentrations so you can achieve superior densities of fire.
In any case - an interesting and fun game.

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