Deterrence over Hephaestus II
1750 Points, UCM vs Scourge
As the ground battle for Olympus Prime finally nears, the Scourge attempt to acquire the support foundries on Hephaestus II, a small nearby moon. UCM Naval Intelligence has informed fleet command and a battlegroup has been hastily assembled to intercept.
The battle for Olympus Prime's orbit was extremely taxing for the UCM and now, more than a year later, the ground invasion has not even begun due to the need to focus on new theaters of war, and because of the continuing complications of Olympus' low orbit being cluttered with dangerous wreckage. Still, both Scourge and UCM forces are preparing for the inevitable ground conflict and looking for any potential advantage.
To this end the Scourge have launched a rapid assault to secure a series of foundries on Hephaestus II, a small moon near Olympus. If secured, the Scourge will no doubt bring the foundries online in short order and begin producing the means to reinforce the planet-bound forces of Olympus, and otherwise raid UCM blockade forces. UCM Naval Intelligence has successfully intercepted messages to the assault force and hastily dispatched their own flotilla to stop the Scourge from creating a new foothold on this relatively barren moon.
This scenario includes four total cities, all along the center line of the board, with a few LOS blocking asteroids in Low Orbit, and four stations. Two stations, one in each player's general deployment zone, are simply observation posts, and possessing no weaponry.
The remaining stations are equally placed between the cities, but are armed with bombardment cannons, each equivalent to two Madrid class Cruisers.
Controlling a city (cluster), station, or the six-inch radius low-orbit around each city are all worth 1 point at the end of rounds 3 and 5. Game length is five rounds. The winning player receives 50 extra points in army for a game of Dropzone Commander, whilst each point acquired for full control of a bombardment station grants a use of orbital bombardment during said DZC game. Fully controlling either of the flank clusters, allows the player to deploy up to 24 inches on that board edge during the DZC game. Finally, for every token more than your opponent you possess in the central cluster, you gain an additional 25 points in the DZC match.
These are really rules for fun, and not necessarily the fairest... we tend to come up with scenarios "on the fly" at my house. Regardless, we were both very motivated to play towards the future DZC game and not necessarily just to grab points and win the DFC game.
Strategy Cards filled out for the UCM.
Rule book updated for Adepticon Errata, circa August 2019.
Round 1: Ominous Advance
In the opening moves, we see the UCM (myself) bring on a New York class battleship, entering the table on silent-running orders. Doing so, means we forego any chance of launching our Fighters or Bombers this round, but it was unlikely there would be any targets in the first round anyhow.
Soon after, the Scourge reveal their intentions to take the left flank cluster early by deploying four of their Strike Carriers (small troop-ships) escorted by two Corvettes (Using UCM scratch-built Corvettes as stand-ins). In response, the UCM bring on a utility group of two San Francisco Troopships and a Madrid bombardment cruiser. The Troop ships are well placed to begin deploying and capture the small listening post on their side of the board, by immediately dropping to low-orbit. The Madrid chooses to silent-run as it's captain knows there is nothing yet to bombard.
Next up, a Shenlong Heavy Cruiser slowly appears from the inky black, cautiously moving forward as little as possible into the field... grouped with two Shedu class Monitors. The Monitors are incredibly slow, but this suits them, as their main purpose to Active-Scan and light up other ships for easier and longer-ranged targeting. The Shedu do this immediately, very inconveniently lighting up my two Troopships. While it is unlikely the Scourge intend on actually firing on my ships in the first round, this move is a low-cost investment in getting early strikes on my Troopships for round two. The UCM bring on their own Strike Carriers, but in a dispersed fashion and generally keeping to the extreme edge of the battlefield... clearly announcing that the UCM will be yielding the initiative to planetary landings to the Scourge.
A Scourge troopship, two more Corvettes, and three Revenant class Destroyer/Carriers enter the field.
Seeing a high value target entering the field, (The Scourge Troopship/Chimera), the UCM deploy an aggressive Avalon class Battlecruiser directly opposite. It's enormous Viper Super-heavy Burn-through Laser beginning to charge.
Having deployed further Strike Carriers to the right flank, the UCM respond with their heaviest force yet... two Moscow class Heavy Cruisers positioned to the center (to take advantage of their excellent firing arcs) and two Kiev Heavy Destroyers. The Kiev's possess the unique ability to shoot into atmosphere, a potent deterrent to Scourge Frigates and Strike Carriers hiding in the clouds.
The UCM Moscow-s decide to flank the Avalon, though they will not act in concert, it makes for a very strong center-right flank. The Moscow class to the left is a storied veteran within the Olympus system known as the Stalingrad, and has been serving continuously since the Reconquest began. Low on supplies and in dire need of a refit, it's crew are nonetheless ready for battle.
As deployment continues, the Scourge bring a pack of four Djinn class Frigates to the right, dangerous close-action predators... while bringing a large group of Harpy class gun frigates to the left, paired with their own Basilisk Class Battlecruiser. The Basilisk is particularly concerning as it's stealth systems allow it to remain a hard to reach target whilst simultaneously dishing out serious firepower. In the center, also come Scylla... devious submarine-like vessels that hide within the atmosphere and can uniquely fire upwards into orbit.
The UCM, in response, bring out a large pack of light ships... three corvettes, three close action frigates (Taipei-s) and notably, three Torpedo Destroyers (Havana-s). Both sides deploy troops their listening posts as available... the soldiers deployed quietly murmuring their hopes that they need not watch their fleets destroyed and they themselves left helplessly to die aboard the decrepit old space stations.
The stage is set, and both admirals are grimacing at the carnage to come.
Round 2: Scornful Ambition
The Scourge are undaunted by the UCM's fleet, and after deploying troops their listening post, their Chimera troopship decides to push forward towards the central cluster. The ship's speed outclasses UCM ships of similar tonnage, and the earlier it begins disgorging troops into the cluster, the greater the Scourge's ground advantage will be.
The UCM follow this action keenly, and their own light troopships keep their distance... but one ship decides to Active Scan the offending Chimera... to quote the captain... "Fuck that Jelly, Light him up Ensign Bowers!".
The Captain of the Avalon class Battlecruiser, seeing the Scourge troopship lit up and thus now within range, decides to ignore her orders to "cautiously advance" from Admiral Ryan... instead, she boldly orders the Avalon forward and "Weapon's Free!". The move is bold, and ordinarily the Viper Super-Heavy Laser should be more than capable of crippling the Chimera... with the addition of the main guns on Weapons Free... the Chimera should arguably be a floating cloud of debris in seconds... but the rush to conflict proves a mistake, as the ship has no time to descend to lower orbit... the resulting penalty to accuracy results in a poor showing... the beam merely grazing the enemy. Four damage caused (the Chimera has about 10 hits).
The Scourge continue to advance by taking the right flank's cluster and descending their Strike Carrier troop ships into atmosphere... along with their Corvette escorts. Undaunted, the UCM's own Corvettes dive into the thin atmosphere and outnumber and preemptively strike the enemy Corvettes, leaving one heavily damaged and destroying the other. The captains of the Scourge Strike Carriers show no fear, but inwardly they shudder.
As the Corvettes descended into atmosphere, their counterparts, the Taipei close action Frigates, move with uncharacteristic moderation... and instead of diving forward to hit prey with their banks of close-range missiles, they focus their relatively light rail-guns into the Chimera... their shots hit well and make up for the poor showing of the Avalon. Meanwhile the Havana torpedo destroyers move into position to launch torpedoes into anything that comes too close. In response to this, the Scylla... the submarines of orbital warfare... plunge forward and into the atmosphere above the central cluster. UCM landings here will be undoubtedly delayed until these vessels can be removed.
As the Scourge bring another Chimera Troopship forward to the central cluser, the UCM Admiral gives his first truly aggressive order... the codes are sent to the Kiev's and Moscow's "BLACKSTEEL"... and within moments, a Kiev further lights up the newly encountered Chimera, placing it now in range of the Moscow's heavy rail-guns... and then they fly forward and fire their own specialized munitions into the Strike Carriers before them. Ordinarily, the rail-gun rounds would find it difficult to pierce the soup of atmosphere and accurately hit the targets, but the Kiev's sheathed rounds cut right through, sparking the atmosphere as they go. Within the same moment the Moscow's have also thrusted forward at full speed, and now within range of both Chimeras, they fire their guns at full fury.
The UCM Admiral can be seen to visible curl his lip... as he watches the blinking signals of two Strike Carriers and a Chimera disappear... the final Chimera also giving signs of damage. "Kills confirmed" squaks the computerized voice on the bridge and the crew begins to cheer.
Even the Scourge Admiral now believes his situation grim... the UCM fleet has removed 25% of his troop capacity without taking a single casualty! Knowing his superiors will be cruel if he should return having failed his mission, the Scourge commander orders desperately for his forces to punish the impudent humans.
In short order, the Shenlong and others, open fire upon the Avalon battlecruiser, the heat from it's massive laser having made it visible on sensors to virtually the entire Scourge Armada. As Scourge stealth systems absorb the massive heat from the Shenlong's banks of oculus beams, it's captain nods grudging respect to the Avalon which remains alive, albeit, with extreme damage and it's weapon systems knocked entirely offline.
It is at this point that the Captain of the Avalon begins to think that rushing ahead and discarding her Admiral's orders was a mistake...
As the UCM Admiral's ship would move forward and lay suppressing fire into the remaining Chimera, the Scourge Admiral would order his battlecruiser forward and... "disappear" one of the UCM's torpedo destroyers... with it's many beam cannons. The Havana in question is believed to have suffered direct damage to it's torpedo storage bay and self-detonated as a result.
As the battle rages the Scourge begin to deploy vast amounts of troops to all three clusters, whilst both fleets launch bombers against minor targets... and ominously the remaining Havana and the New York battleship launch their Torpedoes at the Basilisk, who remains virtually invisible to their guns, but not to the prying eyes of independent munitions.
Round 3: Pride and Punishment
The Scourge take the initiative in round three, and the Captain of the remaining Chimera makes a desperate push to attack the surviving Avalon... which narrowly survives the assault! Pursued by bombers launched from the New York, the devious troopship is caught and destroyed! As the bombers fly past the windows of the Avalon, the Captain there thinks to herself... "Maybe I'll make it through this yet!".
It's at this point... as if to remind her that the danger is far from over... that numerous plumes of plasma arc past the Avalon and into a nearby Havana... and within moments the green plasma burn through it's hull... and it gently begins falling into atmosphere. The crew of the Havana were undoubtedly surprised at how effectively their armor melted from underneath their feet. The captains of the Scylla smiled at their victorious first salvo.
In response to two thirds of the Havana's being destroyed, the remaining Destroyer would plunge forward at "max thrust" and attempt to glide past the enemies before it, who wouldn't have the firing arcs to attack it from behind... whilst their compatriots, the corvettes would further assault enemy corvettes and strike carriers in atmosphere on the right flank. Finally... the Taipei... eager to do what they've long been waiting for, spring forth and assault the enemy Djinn... their dark twins in a sense... and manage a spectacular victory and destroy three of four of the enemy vessels. The "Joust" complete, the right flank quickly appears to be won...
Sensing collapse on the right flank, the Scourge admiral orders the small fleet of Revenant destroyers into the fray. Their bombers quickly destroy a Taipei, whilst they themselves heavily damage the remaining vessels. Blood for Blood as they say.
The casualties are beginning to mount, and the Admirals have been playing quite a few tricks (cards) during the battle...
In response to the increasing pressure from Scourge heavy vessels, the Admiral orders his Moscow group with it's next code "REDSHOT". Shortly thereafter all four vessels (Kievs/Moscows) give the Weapons-Free command and align all of their mighty railguns unto targets... in a devastating cacophony of steel the Shenlong suddenly takes 10 damage... and it's weapons are taken offline. The damage to the Heavy Cruiser is so extreme that that the ships vaunted stealth systems are rendered useless... the heat and fire from the explosions simply being impossible to absorb. The Kiev's also take a toll on their nearest targets... the Revenants.
As the San Francisco's begin taking desperate pot-shots at the Basilisk... the Madrid targets it's first ground army and obliterates it with it's massive downward turned mortars. "Hope they didn't have families" chimes the first officer of Madrid class cruiser the Ypres.
Then, in rage against the Moscow's assault on the Shenlong, the Basilisk fires all of it's beams at once, nearly destroying the valiant Stalingrad (reduced to three hits left)... only to then find itself targeted by three torpedoes! The Torpedo detonations are massive... munitions the size of sky scrapers tend to have that effect.
At this point, the Basilisk's escorts the Harpies begin to lay withering wounds into both the Moscow and miraculous fail to damage the limping Avalon. Just as the Avalon begins to float forward on silent-running orders in hopes of getting out of the battle alive, a combination of Scylla and Corvettes begin pelting her hull with plasma...
For a time, the armor of the mighty vessel holds, but slowly, inexorably, that armor continues to melt and drift off of the vessel, leaving an exposed structure beneath... in what can only be described as a "fancy maneuver" Scourge bombers fly through this exposed section and detonate the vessel's secondary fusion cores (those that power the might burn-through laser)... and the Avalon and her crew become no more.
In a series of cataclysmic explosions both the Shenlong and the Basilisk would be destroyed in turn after turn by the New York and Moscows... whilst the right flank would disintegrate into a complete madness. Each frigate destroyed would unleash devastating radiation from it's core and cause further damage to all ship's surrounding it, and soon, what was once a cluster of eight or more ships would be reduced to three! Even the last Havana would be destroyed as it charged the Shedu in the rear lines... heavily damaging one and destroying the other as they pummeled it into pieces.
Finally moving forward, the many UCM Strike Carriers began to position themselves for troop landings.
The end of Round Three would see the Scourge score points for capturing every ground cluster and two space stations unopposed, however, the UCM controlling all of the space above and their own station would leave the score as 4 for the UCM and 5 for the Scourge... but the Scourge fleet is down to it's last breath of vitriol.
Rounds 4+5: Spite's Ending
What followed the main battle is best described as a tit for tat bloodletting... with the UCM losing several Strike Carriers to desperate Scourge attacks, and retaliating fully. The Scylla proved especially spiteful throughout, no doubt their crews having realized that they could never surface from atmosphere and expect to survive, and thus they launched their final attacks and withered down the Stalingrad... the veteran Moscow which had proven itself against such larger opponents like the Shenlong and Basilisk. Thankfully, much of the crew of the Stalingrad were able to evacuate.
Meanwhile, the remaining Kiev would pivot and begin assisinating the Scylla in return, whilst UCM ships everywhere would begin fairly inaccurate bombardments and rout out several Scourge infantry brigades and UCM troopships would begin pouring armies into the left and right clusters. The resulting ground battles would largely conclude with the Scourge maintaining some presence, but being severely outnumbered...
The final score would be 10 points for the UCM and 7 points for the Scourge, whilst both sides will have earned a bombardment for the Dropzone battle, the UCM ultimately outnumbered the Scourge in the central cluster by 9 to 1, and achieved victory, granting it an extra 250 points in army strength over the Scourge in the DZC battle, whilst the Scourge did earn an additional deployment zone by maintaining complete control over the right flank's cluster.
Ultimately, we forego-ed the DZC battle, as 250 points is a huge advantage (and it was getting late!).