The Battle of Moultrie

While Starships is a great game, it does have a flaw. It’s best played with six-to-ten squadrons, no matter the number of players. This scenario provides the rules to allow you to get together with a bunch of friends for a single huge battle.

I am fairly confident that this scenario won’t need too many edits before the main release, but it’s still a beta. Without a rigorous playtest, there might be a surprise hidden here — but I doubt it.

Background

The decade after the Battle of Ascension was a tumultuous one, with Moultrie challenging Earth at every turn. That kind of enthusiasm wore thin with Moultrie’s allies, who grew less dedicated to the cause. Earth’s mandarins sensed that weakness, and began planning an attack on Moultrie’s orbital facilities.

Admiral Coffey was brought out of retirement, and added a deception to the plan: Earth would look like they were going to finish the invasion of Ascension, which would draw Moultrie’s fleet away from their homeworld.

It was a great plan, and Moultrie bought it hook, line, and sinker. There was one problem: without its allies, Moultrie needed more ships, and executed a crash building program. When Coffey struck, the Moultrie Volunteers were still training their new crews — which meant that, instead of attacking Moultrie unopposed, the Earthling fleet faced the full (albeit somewhat unprepared) might of Moultrie’s cold navy.

Good sense would suggest a withdrawal, but politics at home required that Coffey make a token attempt at destroying Moultrie Station. The battle was soon joined.

S3.1 Scenario Set-up

Roles: the United Nations forces are the attackers, and the Moultrie Volunteers are the defenders.

Scenario generation proceeds as normal.

S3.2 The Turn

The scenario does not run on initiative. It uses a traditional alternating turn structure (sometimes referred to as IGOUGO). The new turn order:

  1. Gravity Phase
  2. Player A’s Movement Phase
  3. Player B’s Movement Phase
  4. Drift Phase (If the number of drifting objects gets too big, players should move four or more objects at a time.)
  5. Player A’s Combat Phase
  6. Player B’s Combat Phase
  7. End Phase

Player A and B switch roles every turn. The player who starts the game with the momentum token is Player A on turn one. (The momentum token won’t move much after that.)

For example: Tom is player A in turn one, but player B in turn two.

S3.3 Direct Fire Modifiers

Add a new modifier for this scenario:

Punching Up (by Quality): –1. This reflects the impact of lesser quality crews in an IGOUGO scenario. If a ship’s beam weapon is firing on a ship crewed by a higher quality crew, apply this modifier.

S3.4 Deployment Zones

The original rules for dispersed deployment assume defenders have no more than eight squadrons. If your super-sized battle has more than that, you’ll need to section off your Area of Operations into a larger number of grid squares, and then figure out a way to randomly assign your squadrons.

An example: My table is 4 feet by 6 feet. I divide the table into one-foot-square grids, which gives me 24 grid squares. I actually own a twenty-four-sided die, so I use that as my randomizer. If I roll an already-full square, I re-roll once. If the square still contains friendlies, I’m done. If it contains an enemy, I re-roll until it doesn’t.

Aftermath

A battle that was supposed to be a face-saving exercise quickly degenerated to a messy melee. The inexperience of the Moultrie trainees heartened the Earthling assault, leading them to over-commit against the Moultrie veterans.

Because it was fought at Epsilon Eridani, Moultrie was able to rescue their crews after the battle. Earth, on the other hand, took a severe hit to their officer corps. While they were able to rebuild, Earth could never again rely on parity of force to compete with Moultrie.

Designer’s Notes

Starships could easily have been designed as an IGOUGO game. The approach is still relatively balanced. Player B has the advantage when firing direct fire weapons, while Player A’s ordinance has the advantage. The rhythm becomes a bit different: instead of individual squadrons taking advantage of initiative, the entire force ebbs and flows based on whether they’re Player A or B.

It also means that fighter ops will have a specific rhythm: Player A will launch patrol groups, while Player B will launch strike groups. (Because B will be A next turn, and their fighters will move first.)

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