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Subject: The Klingon Armada attacks! rss

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Obsolete Man
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On August 2nd, 2571, the first day of the Klingon invasion of the United Federation of Planets, a large Klingon fleet assaulted several Federation "forward observation stations" along the Neutral Zone. In fact these stations were fully operational Battle Stations with extended sensor arrays. The Klingon strategy was to create several "holes" in the Federation's long range sensor capabilities in order to stream reinforcements through the lines without their numbers and identities being known. This is the story of one such engagement.

As they had many times before, the Klingons moved a large fleet of warships toward the Neutral Zone directly opposite the Federation Observation Station (codename "Zebra"; not the official designation). The Klingons routinely did this to antagonize the Federation and perhaps goad them into doing something rash, which of course they never did. However, on August 2nd, 2571 the sector flagship, the C8 dreadnought "Kahless the Unforgettable", approached at the head of the force! Alarm klaxons rang on board Station Zebra, as well as on the bridges of the Federation vessels tasked with defending her. The Federation commodore aboard USS Endeavor, a Command Cruiser, began issuing terse warnings to the Klingons.

The Federation defense fleet was composed of USS Endeavor, the old light cruisers USS Boise and USS Yakima, and three frigates. The Klingon fleet was composed of IKV Kahless the Unforgettable, IKV Dialectical Materialism, a D7C command cruiser, two D7 battlecruisers, 3 D6 heavy cruisers and 3 F5 frigates.

The objective of the Klingons was to destroy the Battle Station and destroy enough Federation ships to allow further reinforcements to pour through this gap. The objective of the Federation was simply to wound (half or more hull boxes damaged) enough Klingon vessels to blunt their offensive... slowing them down enough to prevent them from exploiting the gap.

The Federation was not allowed to fire until the Klingons had crossed the Neutral Zone, which would put them just within range of the Battle Station's powerful phaser-4 arrays. The Klingons cruised right up to the border of the Neutral Zone at the end of turn 1. The Federation formed up a battle line with the Battle Station.

On the second turn the Klingons roared across the Neutral Zone in a blatant act of war. The Federation ships held fast. There was very little fire... the Klingons had come to within 17 hexes of the Battle Station and the Federation battle line, and began bombarding them with long range disruptor fire. This did nothing to the Battle Station thanks to its excellent shields, but the old light cruisers began to suffer some damage due to their inferior shielding. Return fire from the Battle Station did little due to cold dice.

In Klingon Armada, Range 17 is a great range from which to lay siege to the Federation if you are a Klingon. Klingon disruptors have a range of 18 and so can fire... disruptors do best against damaged shields so you might as well get to plinking; eventually those shields will falter and you'll start shredding them. Also, Klingons have lots of drones (the nukular missiles of Trek) and drones always move at Speed 8... and detonate at Range 1. So if launched at Range 17 the drones will go forward 8 hexes and be 9 away from the target (which is long range for phaser-3s and not close range for anything, meaning very few will succumb to defensive fire); the next turn they will go 8 and be at Range 1 and boom! Also, the Federation's best weapons, photon torpedoes and phaser-1s, only have a range of 15. Finally, the range of phaser-4s is 24 (these are the big guns of fixed stations like Battle Stations), and range is judged in 1/3rds... so for a 24 range weapon, close is 8 hexes, medium is 16 hexes and long is 17-24. So at Range 17 the Klingon is in range for his disruptors, at optimum drone firing range, out of range of the Federation's best weapons, and just at the edge of long range for those nasty phaser-4s.

On Turn 3, the Federation player began to advance. He did not advance particularly far, however (he really could not since he was not already cruising at speed; we discussed this after the battle and the Federation player would have done things differently; I'll sum that up at the bottom). The Klingons held station at Range 17 from the Battle Station. Some of the Federation ships were now at medium range for the Klingon disruptors, but all the Federation weapons were still at long range (and photon torpedoes especially suffer in accuracy at long range). The Klingons began to fire everything at the Federation ships, and the Klingons got the better of the exchange. The old light cruiser Yakima was damaged severely, USS Boise was destroyed, and several other Federation ships had their photon torpedoes shot away from lucky damage rolls. The Klingons sustained only moderate damage. At the End Phase, the Klingons launched a huge swarm of 80 drone missiles, all targeted at the Battle Station.

On Turn 4, the Federation player advanced again, thinking that the Klingons would now close in for the kill. However, the Klingon player slightly outfoxed him by holding still yet again. This meant that the Federation ships, now even more outnumbered and outgunned, were in a killing zone before the Klingon gun line. The Federation fought valiantly and got their licks in, but they were blown to pieces by the Klingon fire. Even the mighty USS Endeavor was blasted into a listing hulk.

At this point the Federation was in bad shape. Long range fire at the drone cloud had only taken out 2 of them, and the Federation was left with a single frigate. The Klingons had not lost any ships, though several of their crusiers were badly shot up by the Federation death ride.

Early in Turn 5, the 78 remaining Klingon drones reached Range 1 of the Battle Station and roared into its shields. Each drone has a 50% chance (4+ on a die) of detonating close enough to penetrate the target's shields. It was very satisfying rolling two fistsfuls of dice, 39 each time (a Koplow "Brick" plus 3 graciously lent by my opponent), to determine Impact. At Impact, each weapon must then test against the target's shields (if any); the Battle Station has very good shields and so each drone had to roll a further 4+ to penetrate. I got the expected 19 penetrations, which totally ruinated the Battle Station. To make matters worse, this damage is resolved before the Combat Phase (all combat damage is simulatenous in Klingon Armada), so the shields that were taken down would be down before the Klingons resolved their fire.

As expected, the Klingon disruptors did the job and the Battle Station was destroyed. The first victory in the Klingon invasion went to the Klingon Armada.

The battle was actually closer than it sounds. The victory conditions were actually pretty rough on the Klingons because their ships don't have a lot of hull points (they're lean and mean). So it isn't too hard for the Federation player to destroy each least half the hull of such ships, which are also rather poorly shielded. And the Federation didn't need that many points to gain the win. However, a combination of bad gunnery dice and a tactical miscalculation let the Klingons slide their way to victory this time. It is a very low-margin scenario for either side: one mistake probably gives the other guy the win.

The Federation player agreed that he probably should have built up speed early and then screamed in for one devastating, close range photon pass. This would have gutted several Klingon ships and probably been good enough for a win. Photons are crazy powerful at close range. He had expected me to close but I'm a very cautious player and much more likely to invest a long range siege than to move in for a knife fight (unless I have to). The Federation will lose a long range duel with the Klingons and that's how things started out.

Both players had a lot of fun, and we're very impressed with the Klingon Armada system. The whole game, involving an amazing 17 ships (which would be very unweildy in Federation Commander and almost unthinkable in Star Fleet Battles), took less than 3 hours. I love the Star Fleet Universe and while I like Federation Commander for squadron engagements, for large scale fleet actions Klingon Armada is awesome.
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John Lopez
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How did you feel about the transformation of the ships into Starmada rules? I looked at it and it seems they put a lot of effort in shoehorning a very complex set of properties (shield facings and weapon characteristics, for example) into a very streamlined system.

I don't expect 1:1 mapping, but did the various ships "feel" like the corresponding FedCom/SFB Ship? If they didn't, were they at least close in feel relative to one another? As an example, I note that the Klingon side used the classic long range drone and disruptor opening, which gives me hope that it did capture the flavor of a Klingon/Federation conflict.

The fact that the Federation player had bad dice seems consistent with using Photon Torpedoes as well... they always were fickle for me in the older games as well. Your suggestion they take the Photon run also looks promising.
 
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Todd Warnken
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Nice write up. I've got Klingon Armada but haven't had a chance to play it yet. I agree with your analysis of the Feds. They need to rush in and unload overloaded photons on the Klingons.
 
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Obsolete Man
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Godeke wrote:
How did you feel about the transformation of the ships into Starmada rules? I looked at it and it seems they put a lot of effort in shoehorning a very complex set of properties (shield facings and weapon characteristics, for example) into a very streamlined system.

I don't expect 1:1 mapping, but did the various ships "feel" like the corresponding FedCom/SFB Ship? If they didn't, were they at least close in feel relative to one another? As an example, I note that the Klingon side used the classic long range drone and disruptor opening, which gives me hope that it did capture the flavor of a Klingon/Federation conflict.

The fact that the Federation player had bad dice seems consistent with using Photon Torpedoes as well... they always were fickle for me in the older games as well. Your suggestion they take the Photon run also looks promising.


I think that the rules capture the flavor of the SFU quite well. There are a few differences in particulars, such as the relative strength of the shields. The classic Fed CA has its three forward shields rated at 3, and its three aft shields rated at 2. The classic Klin D7 has its direct Forward and Aft shields rated at 3, and its four flank shields rated at 2. This is not exactly how we're used to seeing the shields stack up... though one factor in Klingon Armada is that 1/3rd of all shield hits (for every roll of a 1 or 2 on a die) can be assigned by the defender. So if a ship loses 4 shield factors in the combat phase, he picks up 4 dice and every 1 or 2 means a point may be taken off wherever he likes. So a Klingon player can decide to start whittling down the aft shields, for example.

It remains true in KA that the Klingons should engage the Feds at range. Disruptors improve in power as enemy shields are reduced, so the standard Klingon imperative to chip down the Fed's front shields before making a close battle pass is still there. If the Fed wants to get close (always!), the Klingon should make him pay for it. If the Fed lets the Klingon dance around at long range, the Klingon will eat him for breakfast.

The standard Fed doctrine of "close and hose" applies as much as ever. The photons get double range adjustments, so as bad as they are at long range, they become superb at close range. They only have one Impact die, so a photon that hits either skips off the enemy's shielding or it rips him a new hangar bay. A full spread (4) of overloaded photons at close range against a Klingon flank is potentially insane... hitting on a 2+, penetrating on a 3+, each penetration inflicting 5 dice of damage! And those phaser-1s are pretty amazing at close range as well... Rate of Fire 3 each, hitting on 3+.

The Klingons are still lean and mean, graceful and able to outfly and out turn the Feds. Fed ships are beefy, bristling with fancy wonder weapons.

I've only done Fed vs Klingon fights so far, flying as both sides. It definitely feels right to me... not always exactly the same, but right. The Klingons want a long range disruptor dance with some drone punishment thrown in; the Feds want fly up and vaporize the Klingons... but never let the Klingons get behind them.

I'm pretty happy with the way that the weapons are differentiated. I think they will be able to make each weapon system feel different but keep the rules simple.
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Obsolete Man
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mda2 wrote:

Do you think in hindsight that drone racks may be a bit too powerful in this conversion? Seems like this scenario of a decent sized Kligon Fleet unleashing drone-hell is going to be a potential imbalance / recurruing theme.

The Klingons in the above game would have completely desintegrated the Fed defenders if they had targeted the ships instead of the battlestation with the 80 drone swarm.


I don't think the drones are too bad. As the Klingon admiral I certainly managed to unleash them at an optimum firing position, which obviously helped their effectiveness.

A single flight of drones is 4 drones. When they detonate, each one has to roll a 4+ to 'hit', i.e. have its detonation be effective. Each one that is effective has to go on to the Impact phase, where it rolls 1 die against the target's shields. Hitting a fresh Federation cruiser probably means hitting a shield of 3 (2 if from behind, or hitting a smaller ship like a frigate or oCL); against a 3 that means the Impact die has to show a 4+ to do damage. Damage is 1. Therefore, only half the drones will hit and half of those will penetrate. That is assuming no defensive fire whatsoever from the target. Thus, under perfect conditions the expected return from a drone flight is only 1 damage; since only 1/2 of all damage dice (the ones that roll odd) inflict hull damage, a Federation CA can expect to suck down a full 20 drone flights before dying, even if it never shoots back at the drones. A Klingon D7 only carries 3 drone flights.

It's true that 80 drones (20 flights) could do a ton of damage to a Federation force like the one I was facing, but I was up several crusiers on him due to the 'cost' of the Battle Station. In an even fight I think the Klingon drone capability is manageable, especially given that many Fed ships have phaser-3s (which are best against drones and fighters), and they have drones of their own that can be used as anti-drones.

I like playing both the Federation and the Klingons, but it certainly is nice that disruptor/drone races are powerful in this game. Makes it interesting!
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Ian Bohne
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Requete wrote:
In Klingon Armada, Range 17 is a great range from which to lay siege to the Federation if you are a Klingon. Klingon disruptors have a range of 18 and so can fire...


Unfortunately, the Disruptor is a Carronade weapon.

According to rule C.4 Weapons Traits - Carronade, a carronade is a "category of weapon that may not be used to attack a target at long range."

A disruptor has a range of 18 meaning 1-6 is short range, 7-12 is medium and 13-18 is long. Thus, the maximum COMBAT range of a disruptor is 12, not 18 (the 18 is used in the ship construction process).

The Photon Torp also is a caronnade weapon. Range is 15 for construction, but only 1-5 for short and 6-10 for medium in combat.

I had to carefully read the weapons traits rules several times to get my head wrapped around them.
 
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Todd Warnken
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RockyMountainNavy wrote:
Requete wrote:
In Klingon Armada, Range 17 is a great range from which to lay siege to the Federation if you are a Klingon. Klingon disruptors have a range of 18 and so can fire...


Unfortunately, the Disruptor is a Carronade weapon.

According to rule C.4 Weapons Traits - Carronade, a carronade is a "category of weapon that may not be used to attack a target at long range."

A disruptor has a range of 18 meaning 1-6 is short range, 7-12 is medium and 13-18 is long. Thus, the maximum COMBAT range of a disruptor is 12, not 18 (the 18 is used in the ship construction process).

The Photon Torp also is a caronnade weapon. Range is 15 for construction, but only 1-5 for short and 6-10 for medium in combat.

I had to carefully read the weapons traits rules several times to get my head wrapped around them.


Not quite; the overloaded disruptor has the carronade feature but the normal disruptor does not. This is also true for the photon torpedo.
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Ian Bohne
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Hmm...a more careful re-reading shows...you are right!

The * does not seem all that obvious to me.

Thanks for the clarification!
 
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Sean O'Carroll
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Great report, thanks.

I had missed that drones hit on 4+, I thought it was 5+.

A minor point, you roll for each *flight* of drones separately. So instead of 80 drones, you actually have 20 flights of four drones.

So E.g. I have three flights of four drones impacting, I roll for flight #1, get two hits. Then I make the impact roll against a shield of 3, and one impact penetrates, hitting a shield. This (for example) reduces the shield to 2. Then I roll the second flight, and so on. What this means is, massed drone waves can actually wear down the shields as they attack, early shield hits opening the door for later hits.

I notice that the Federation player didn't use drones in anti-drone mode, and didn't counter-launch at the drones, or use phasers on his own mobile ships on the way in. That might have whittled down the incoming drones some.
 
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