Port Strike: Eldar Corsairs v. Mauridian Expeditionary Fleet

The Area of Operations.

The Area of Operations.

Today’s battle recounts yet another Eldar Corsair port strike. (You think that’s what Eldar do?) The location is Neptune (the big blue gas giant), and one of its moons is being played by Encedalus. The Octan Station is orbiting Encedalus, and the Mauridians sortie in defense. As usual, click on the pictures for higher resolution.

The Eldar approach Neptune.

The Eldar approach Neptune.

This is the first battle after re-writing the campaign rules a touch. As a result of the previous turn, some ships are of better (or worse) quality than others.

Erin: [The Eldar Player.] This is weird. I’m out-ordinanced this battle. I have 3 fighters, 2 missiles, and 3 mines vs. 6 fighters and 4 mines; not counting what Maurice equips the port with. That means I should out-gun him.

Maurice: [The Mauridian Player.] No, she doesn’t. I’ve built a degenerate station. 24 lasers, and one missile rack.

Erin: Bleargh. It looks like I want to start in Neptune’s shadow, and break right at such a pace that we’ll be in Encedalus’ shadow. The down side is that’ll be at the start of turn four. At that point, we can rush in and zap the station as we fly by Encedalus. Somehow threatening Maurice while I do so will be a trick.

The MEF sorties in defense.

The MEF sorties in defense.

Maurice: My problem will be proper station-keeping. We want to form an umbrella around Encedalus, but Neptune will be constantly dragging us towards it.

The fight commences.

The fight commences.

Erin: I’m going to try something a little different. The Aconites [the laser-armed escorts – ed.] will be converged into one squadron, and I’m going to use them to intercept incoming ordinance. With 9 point defense, I’m thinking it’ll take out enemy missiles and mines. The math doesn’t help me against fighters. That’s what my own fighters are for.

Erin: I’ve also converged my Nightshades [the mine-armed escorts – ed.] into a trailing squadron. I want them to flood the zone with mines, but I don’t particularly want them engaging anything other than enemy escorts.

An escort squadron leads the MEF advance.

An escort squadron leads the MEF advance.

Maurice: Despite the loss last game, my formation worked. I’m not making any changes except to put Ba’Nal (my only veteran escort, now) at the head of a squadron.

Hellebores split left and right.

Hellebores split left and right.

Erin: I have a whack idea. Use the Hellebores [destroyers – ed.] to hunt the Ven’Taras [Mauridian destroyer-weight carriers – ed.].

Ikazuchi heads right.

Ikazuchi heads right.

Maurice: I suddenly felt confused. Erin’s deliberately split her fleet. I can’t decide if the Hayanami is a precursor to splitting a fleet, or a feint. At this point, it could be either, and it’ll be my move that dictates it.

[Hayanami is the Hellebore on Maurice’s right. – ed.]

Maurice: If I take Ven’Tur left, Erin can take Inazumi and the Nightshades right, and I have to cross my fleet to support. If Ven’Tur goes right, then the bulk of Erin’s fleet goes left.

[Ven’Tur is one of Maurice’s Ven’Taras. – ed.]

Maurice: I’m going to split the difference, and move Ven’Tur behind Encedalus.

Ven'Tur moves behind Encedalus.

Ven’Tur moves behind Encedalus.

Erin: That was unexpected. Not Ven’Tur’s move, but how long it took for Maurice to make it. What did he see that I didn’t?

Erin: … oh.

Erin: He was thinking about moving to my left. Why? I’m showing right … except for Hayanami, and I’ve still got ships to move.

Erin: He thinks me going left might be a good move.

Erin: I hope I’m not about to do something stupid.

Inazuma overthrusts left, followed by Nightshades.

Inazuma overthrusts left, followed by Nightshades.

Maurice: OK, don’t panic. You’ve got the advantage of interior lines, and the objective. The right answer is to not go chasing off after the advantage of a split fleet. It’s to hunker down at Encedalus and wait for her to come for me.

Hunkering down behind Encedalus.

Hunkering down behind Encedalus.

The fleets after the Eldar have split.

The fleets after the Eldar have split.

Expected path of mines launched by the Nightshades.

Expected path of mines launched by the Nightshades.

The Eldar launch their ordinance.

The Eldar launch their ordinance.

The MEF launch theirs.

The MEF launch theirs.

An overview, for reference.

An overview, for reference.

Erin: I might be able to win this in two turns. Inazuma’s inertia marker is 20 inches away from the station and Inazuma has better initiative.

Erin: Zip in, strike the station while Inazuma is fresh, then zip out next turn.

Erin: The second part is the hard part, but I might get Gal’Efors going the wrong way from Ikazuchi, and I might be able to hit with the second pincer, too.

The Aconites move to sweep some mines.

The Aconites move to sweep some mines.

Hayanami leads Inazuma's wing in.

Hayanami leads Inazuma‘s wing in.

Hamanami gets out of the way of the mines.

Hamanami gets out of the way of the mines.

Ba'Nal's squadron sideswipes Hayanami's.

Ba’Nal‘s squadron sideswipes Hayanami‘s.

Ven'Tur's fighters on intercept course.

Ven’Tur‘s fighters on intercept course.

Ven'Tur overthrusts to stay out of range.

Ven’Tur overthrusts to stay out of range.

Gal'Efors attempts to recover to engage Inazuma.

Gal’Efors attempts to recover to engage Inazuma.

Inazuma moves into range of the station.

Inazuma moves into range of the station.

The orange and blue chits indicate Gal’Efors’ range. The blue ones are blocked by Neptune.

Ba'Nana's squadron moves to engage the Aconites.

Ba’Nana‘s squadron moves to engage the Aconites.

The Mauridians have moved into Hamanami’s port arc, so the destroyer can target them with only its top turret.

Ikazuchi and its fighters line up on enemy escorts.

Ikazuchi and its fighters line up on enemy escorts.

Ven'Tril's fighters join Ven'Tur's.

Ven’Tril‘s fighters join Ven’Tur‘s.

Nightshades line up on Ba'Nal's squadron.

Nightshades line up on Ba’Nal‘s squadron.

After the movement phase.

After the movement phase.

In the drift phase, the Aconites do what they’re supposed to, and eliminate two minefields that pass through their squadron.

Nightshades destroy Ba'Room with lasers.

Nightshades destroy Ba’Room with lasers.

The Nightshade's mines should impact the station next turn.

The Nightshade’s mines should impact the station next turn.

That picture might not be immediately interpreted. Look between the fighters and the station, and you’ll see a stack of Inertia markers labeled “Mines”. With the influence of Neptune, they’ll be in the same place as the station next turn. I’m thinking Erin’s getting the hang of this part of the game.

Inazuma fires on the station.

Inazuma fires on the station.

Inazuma does six real hits on the station with this shot. The Eldar cruiser is armed with 8 spines and 8 lasers, and Erin rolled two more laser hits than you’d normally expect.

Gal'Efors disables Hayanami.

Gal’Efors disables Hayanami.

Ikazuchi spines destroys two escorts.

Ikazuchi spines destroy two escorts.

Ba'Nal destroys Yamagumo.

Ba’Nal destroys Yamagumo.

Ba'Racuda's lasers distort Tokitsukaze's shields.

Ba’Racuda‘s lasers distort Tokitsukaze‘s shields.

The station fires on Inazuma.

The station fires on Inazuma.

This is what 24 lasers look like when rolled.

This is what 24 lasers look like when rolled.

If the battle is just Inazuma and the station, the Eldar win that exchange this turn, 6 hits to 4.

The Aconites finish off Ba'Racuda.

The Aconites finish off Ba’Racuda.

After the shooting ends on turn 2.

After the shooting ends on turn 2.

Erin: This reminds me a bit of that first game against Ivan. Striking the station was easy; now I have to disengage. The big problem is that 95% of my beams are forward-facing (the Hellebores are the only exception).

Erin: I can’t just zip away. The right way to do this might require a bunch of coasting, and trading losses with Maurice.

Maurice: That’ll teach me. There’s a difference between aggressive and stupid. I’m lucky I didn’t lose all my escorts for no good reason.

Maurice: At this point, I’m committed to engaging Inazumi and getting my points back that way. If Ikazuchi sticks around, I’ll worry about it later.

101 Group attacks Hamayami

101 Group attacks Hamanami.

Fighters dogfight.

Fighters dogfight.

121 Group attack Hayanami.

121 Group attacks Hayanami.

Hayanami is destroyed.

Hayanami is destroyed.

Inazuma dodges debris.

Inazuma dodges debris.

Missile 3 screens Hanayami.

Missile 3 screens Hamanami.

Missile 7 is destroyed by Inazuma's PD.

Missile 7 is destroyed by Inazuma‘s PD.

102 Group attack the Aconites, destroys Tokitsukaze.

102 Group attack the Aconites, destroys Tokitsukaze.

122 Group destroyes Asagumo.

122 Group destroys Asagumo.

The station defends against missile 4.

The station defends against missile 4.

Ven'Tur stops hiding.

Ven’Tur stops hiding.

Ba'Negva avoid debris.

Ba’Negva avoid debris.

Ven'Tril engages Inazuma.

Ven’Tril engages Inazuma.

Aconites chase Ven'Tril.

Aconites chase Ven’Tril.

Ikazuchi finds Ven'Tril.

Ikazuchi finds Ven’Tril.

Neptune constrains Gal'Efors.

Neptune constrains Gal’Efors.

If you don’t want to zoom in, Gal’Efors’ inertia marker is the one with the green die on top of it.

Maurice: I was hoping to use Gal’Efors to finish Inazumi, but I’m getting too close to Neptune. If I overthrust to compensate, I lose a shield and can’t launch fighters. It might be worth it — I get the first shot this turn with both Gal’Efors and the station.

Gal'Efors overthrusts.

Gal’Efors overthrusts.

End of the third movement phase.

End of the third movement phase.

The Nightshades' minefields attack Gal'Efors and the station.

The Nightshades’ minefields attack Gal’Efors and the station.

The Nightshades’ minefields were perfectly launched last turn, attacking both Gal’Efors and the station. At the end of the drift phase, they’ve done 3 hits to Gal’Efors (but none to the station).

Combat begins in the third turn.

Combat begins in the third turn.

Gal'Efors disables Inazuma.

Gal’Efors disables Inazuma.

The station destroys Inazuma.

The station destroys Inazuma.

Ikazuchi knocks down Ven'Tril's shields.

Ikazuchi knocks down Ven’Tril‘s shields.

Hatsukaze disables Ven'Tril.

Hatsukaze disables Ven’Tril.

Ven'Tril fires on Akizuchi.

Ven’Tril fires on Akizuchi.

Nightshades attack Ba'Negva.

Nightshades attack Ba’Negva.

Ba'Negva return fire, destroy Suzutsuki.

Ba’Negva return fire, destroy Suzutsuki.

Turn 4 begins.

Turn 4 begins.

Neptune calls Ven'Tril.

Neptune calls Ven’Tril.

Maurice: Ven’Tril is in trouble. Disabled, and being pulled into Neptune. She’ll be jury-rigging thrust until she gets clear. Until then, she’s a sitting duck.

Nightshades disengage.

Nightshades disengage.

Erin: I thought about using the Nightshades to draw more fire, but with a one for initiative, they’d be dead for no good reason. Time to leave.

Erin: I thought about disengaging my entire fleet this turn, but saw that Gal’Efors was going to be on the far side of Neptune. Maybe one last turn of shooting at the station, as the light elements will be able to shoot at it on the far side of Encedalus.

All that remains of the Eldar fleet.

All that remains of the Eldar fleet.

Hamanami overthrusts to bring the station into range.

Hamanami overthrusts to bring the station into range.

Ven'Tril suffers a near miss.

Ven’Tril suffers a near miss.

Ven'Tril's fighters sweep mines.

Ven’Tril‘s fighters sweep mines.

Ven'Tril fights for altitude.

Ven’Tril fights for altitude.

Maurice: Ven’Tril’s move was complicated by mines inbound from one direction, and fighters approaching from the other. I ran from the fighters, and used my fighters on the mines.

Gal'Efors fights to turn.

Gal’Efors fights to turn.

Missile 1 moves to intercept position.

Missile 1 moves to intercept position.

Ven'Tur's fighters clear the missile.

Ven’Tur‘s fighters clear the missile.

Missile 7 covers the approach to the station.

Missile 7 covers the approach to the station.

Aconites before they jump to warp.

Aconites before they jump to warp.

Erin: Rats. That didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Gal’Efors has targets, and most of my fleet is overthrusting, so can’t jump to warp. [Outside Neptune’s danger zone is jump risky. – ed.] Being in range of Gal’Efors, and behind in the initiative, I order the Aconites to escape.

Turn 4 combat begins.

Turn 4 combat begins.

The station destroys Hamanami's squadron.

The station destroys Hamanami‘s squadron.

Gal'Efors blasts 222 Group.

Gal’Efors blasts 222 Group.

Ven'Tril scrapes the bottom of the barrel for a patrol group.

Ven’Tril scrapes the bottom of the barrel for a patrol group.

Turn 5 begins.

Turn 5 begins.

An ineffective MEF intercept.

An ineffective MEF intercept.

Ven'Tril climbs away from Neptune.

Ven’Tril climbs away from Neptune.

221 Group strafes the station.

221 Group strafes the station, disabling it.

Ikazuchi is the only Eldar ship left on the board. Erin orders the carrier to warp, and the game ends once the remaining Eldar ordinance finish their attacks.

Scoring

The MEF:

  • Able ships: Gal’Efors (688 points), Ven’Tur (316), 2 Ba’Negva (140).
  • Disabled ships: Ven’Tril (158 points).

The Eldar Corsairs:

  • Disabling the station (9 hits), 900 points.
  • Able ships: Ikazuchi (436 points), 2 Aconites (120 total), 2 Nightshades (118).

Total: Eldar 1564, Mauridians 1302. A difference of 262 points, which is just enough to give Erin a marginal victory.

Erin: That was a hell of a game. I had begun to worry that the Eldar couldn’t win. They’re not designed like any other fleet: their weapons only fire into the forward arc, and their hull ratings are lighter than all the others. They’re fast, too, but (except for the Ven’Tara) the Mauridians matched my thrust ratings.

Maurice: But they are cheap. It allowed you to create two wings of your fleet that were each as weighty as my entire fleet. I dithered about which to engage, when I should have rushed Inazuma. Gun cruisers are really dangerous in a Port Strike.

Erin: And getting one of your escort squadrons butchered didn’t help matters.

Maurice: Oh, yeah. This game shouldn’t have been close, except that you did me a favor by letting me nail your destroyers. That shifted your score by about 600 points, right?

Erin: Yeah. If I’d been paying attention, I wouldn’t have lost Hamanami. It was ’cause I didn’t register the station’s initiative — and after I’d done such a good job with Inazuma’s attack timing in the first place. You probably still would’ve gotten Hayanami. I still haven’t figured how to pull out of that attack run.

Final Thoughts

One of the new things about this battle is that I tweaked the campaign rules a bit. Quality regresses more slowly, so Gal’Efors and Suzutsuki (the Nightshade squadron’s flagship) were elite this battle; while the Hellebores and one MEF escort group were green. Quality made a big difference: once Maurice decided where Gal’Efors needed to be, it dominated its zone. Similarly, the Nightshades were the most effective escort group we’d seen so far, destroying Ba’Room and actually doing damage with their mines.

(The Eldar are product of Games Workshop, from their currently-discontinued Battlefleet Gothic line. Neptune is a picture from Voyager 2, and credit NASA/JPL. Encedalus is from Cassini, and credit NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.)

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