The Mauridians are invading, and the Imperial fleet has sortied to intercept. They square off in the inner sphere, near a cluster of asteroids. (The dwarf planet is being played by Mimas.) As usual, click on the pictures for more detail.
The opponents are fictional Maurice (in command of the MEF) and fictional Zed (of the Imperial fleet). The scenario is pretty simple: slap your enemy around enough that they choose to leave the table. Maurice wins the fleet initiative roll, so the battle starts with a running entry.
The cruiser in the center of the formation is Gal’Efors, and the two destroyer-weight carriers flanking it are Ven’Tur and Ven’Tril. Escorts screen the core of the force.
Maurice: The match-up is pretty simple. I’ve got more ordinance than Zed, but he’s got more beams. I want to stay out of his range, and I’m going to use the asteroid field to cut down on lasers’ effectiveness.
The Imperials enter the table in sort-of line astern. Tracy leads, followed by Keyes and Escalon. Cobras provide escort.
Zed: I’m not sure there’s any subtle or devious maneuvering built into my fleet. Bring the broadsides to bear, and use my missiles and mines to cut down on the number of fighters I see. I’ve also assigned my Cobras as close escort, as they seem to pop otherwise.
Maurice: I may need to rethink my plan. With a slight nudge, Zed’s got his fleet aimed around the crunchy center of the asteroid field. “Stand off” might not be an option.
Zed: Uh … Zed smash? Like I said, subtlety ain’t what this fleet’s about.
Both sides are using mine-laying escorts, so the drift phase will be a little more complicated than usual. Because drifting objects don’t have rolled initiative, the momentum token will be swapped between the players often as they dictate which minefield to move next. (And it doesn’t have to be one of their own.)
The drift phase cleared many of the mine fields out. The ones that remain are going to be pulled in the end phase, as their inertia markers have gone off the table. (They’re marked with orange chits so that I’ll remember.)
Maurice: I’ll trade mines for missiles every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I’d rather that my fighters not get nuked by the missiles.
Zed: Yeah, Maurice won that drift phase. At this moment, I’m glad that the Mauridian fleet is out of range. It’ll let me concentrate on shooting the fighters.
Normally, you don’t need to mark fighters with laser hits. Just add a six-sided die with the current number remaining. However, this is a battle report, and the blast markers look cool.
The ten-sided dice are the unit’s initiative, with the white dice marking Imperial rolls, and green, Mauridian.
Zed: Normally, a low initiative roll is a bad thing. It might still turn out to be, but it’ll let me get rid of most of these fighters, and then we’ll trade laser fire.
Maurice: I’m starting to run out of room, but I’m not against the ropes yet.
Maurice: Argh! 222 can’t reach anybody!
(222 is the strike group with the lowest initiative, and moves first this turn. Unfortunately for Maurice, it’s inertia was carrying it away from the Imperials.)
Zed: Heh. Time to change the beat.
Maurice: After Keyes moved, I could move Gal’Efors to take on Keyes one-on-one. It would be 18 lasers for each of us. Otherwise, I lose two escorts because I didn’t expect Zed to advance at all. I don’t like the choice, but it’s either trade cruisers, or give away escorts.
Have I mentioned that pre-measuring is encouraged in Jump War? It is the future, after all.
Maurice: This is the last turn we play before we start rolling for our consumables. I’m going to drag this out as long as I can, but Zed’s built for a no-ordinance, no-shields fight, and I’m not.
Yeah, not much happened in turn 5. Maurice had over-committed to keeping out of range, so had a lot of inertia to bleed off before he could turn back on Zed. On Zed’s side, Escalon overthrusted to stay in formation.
Zed: I figured I could afford one turn without launching Escalon’s squadron’s ordinance. It was more important to be able to double up on Gal’Efors when the time came.
With no enemy ships available as targets, both sides took the opportunity to put lasers on mines and missiles.
When turn six started, the following squadrons ran out of expendables: Tracy, Ba’Room (one of the Mauridian escort squadrons), and Ven’Tur.
Maurice: Without fighters, a carrier isn’t much use, so when Ven’Tur’s turn came up, I maneuvered it off the board.
Zed: In typical “Zed smash!” fashion, I realized that there was no longer any downside to Tracy overthrusting.
Zed: No down side except, maybe, moving her too close to her enemy. Right after I moved her, Maurice got to put a strike group into her. The cursed fighters managed to score four hits.
At the beginning of turn seven, all the Mauridians run out of consumables, but Keyes and Escalon haven’t exhausted their magazines yet. Maurice doesn’t see any point in continuing, and boosts his heavier ships off of the table. Zed salutes Ba’Nal, and lets them go.
Zed scores 1380 points, as all his remaining ships are able. Maurice actually has more points remaining (1390), but because he retired from a fleet engagement, Maurice only scores half their value (695). The difference of 685 is 38% of the starting total, so Zed wins a total victory.
Zed: I won, but feel stupid. I threw Tracy away for no good reason. On the plus side, I never felt truly overwhelmed by Maurice’s fighters, so I must’ve done something right.
Maurice: I was fooled by my previous win over the Directorate. I didn’t beat Dan; he beat himself, and I capitalized. Zed was more determined, which exposed the flaw in my strategy.
“Fighter” is probably not the best word for what’s modeled in Jump War. “Gunboat” or “rider” is more accurate. Fighters are not a separate arm, but an integral part of your fleet. You would not expect to defeat your enemy solely with escorts, so there’s no reason to expect better of even smaller spaceships.
At some point, I might write a carrier-based game. In it, the carriers (and their escorts) would be significantly less capable than in Jump War, and the fighters more so. Carrier operations are abstracted in Jump War because the focus of the came is on cruisers; for the hypothetical carrier-based game, they’d be the game.
Final Note: The Imperial fleet is an old Games Workshop product, from their currently-discontinued Battlefleet Gothic line.