Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

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Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Tue 19 Jul 2016 01:16

The first of her class, the RKNS. Sungold was bulky for her small size. She was designed with heavy shields and armor to increase her survivability during long explorations into the unknown. And she had a suite of long-range sensors and science instruments with antenna arrays, parabolic dishes, and optical devices that crowded the ring of her hull like a crown. The importance of her mission was demonstrated in the careful selection of the naval personnel and top scientists that comprised her crew. The Sungold's maiden mission had been to make a trip through the asteroid belt in the Kyo system before moving on to an extended exploration of the system's gas giant. Named "Rose" for it's deep red skies and glistening rings, and it was hoped that the Sungold could use the new gravitic sensors to map the system around Rose and find clues to finding the warp point that the Kyo already knew had to exist nearby. It was through this warp point that the original colonists had entered the star system.

"Sir, the unidentified ship is on an intercept course with Rose directly from the Kyo Outer System."

At the sound of the Watch Officer's voice, Captain Marc Stephens looked up from his console and at the curved displays that wrapped around the inside of the bridge deck, above the semi-circle of consoles and crash couches of the bridge crew. He looked at the system display and nodded when he saw the updated position data for the unknown ship they were tracking.

"Thank you Watch Officer." He looked at his Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Katelin Lefur, wrapped in her crash couch and console just in front and below his own. "XO, we are abandoning the survey mission."

Chief Scientist Alar Po spoke up. "Captain, um sir, if we leave now we will interrupt our survey and be forced to start anew. The instruments need contiguous scanning information, uh, so we can track the delta shifts in planetary positions relative to the rest of the system bodies..."

Captain Stephens interrupted him. "Alar, we have no choice. We knew this might happen when that ship failed to answer our radio calls and instead set a course for our position. We are an explorer. We knew that we would eventually encounter other intelligent life, and probably the same aliens that attacked us over a century ago. Our mistake was that we had not expected it to happen here in our home system. Since our only course back to home is through the outer system, our options are limited. The only reason we haven't already set course for Kyo was that we didn't know the position of the alien ship. Watch, do you think that ship has detected us yet?"

The Watch Officer was wrapped in his couch and only his hands could be seen dancing over the consoles in front him. He took a moment before responding. "Uh... it is difficult to tell, sir. We don't know anything about their technology. Based on our own capabilities, it would be unlikely that they have detected our exact orbit. It is certain that they are headed here because they detected our radio signal, but I don't think they could have pinpointed our position from a single signal. If we stay in orbit and keep the planet between us and them, they should not be able to detect our exact position until they are on top of us."

After a moment of silence, Weapons Officer Lieutenant Gregovy inquired, "Sir?"

"Yes Weps."

"I would like to offer another option. We are fast and heavily armored. If we hide in orbit until the the alien approaches, we can ambush it. With luck we can do enough damage to slow it further as we make best speed towards Kyo." Lieutenance Gregovy said.

Lt. Commander Lefur said, "Sir, the Sungold is not a warship. We have only one laser emitter. Kyo Federal Archives have transcribed records from the foundership, the Mary Kyo, that includes sensor readings and scans of the alien ship that attacked her. If these are the same aliens, those sensor records showed that the aliens are using long-range missiles and the attacking ship had double the volume of our own hull. Assuming, of course, that this ship is from the same aliens."

"We know our entry warp point to this system was in the vicinity of Rose." said Leiutenant Gregovy.

"There could be more warp points in the system." Lt. Commander Lefur let that thought percolate for a few moments, but continued before anyone could answer. "Maybe if it inspects the moons furthest from us we can attempt to outrun it without fighting. And maybe we can get a closer look at the alien with our enhanced instrumentation. Either way, we should be able to take a few hits before we would be compromised."

Captain Marc Stephens sat silently for a few minutes. A few furtive glances between the couched officers of the bridge gave no indication of worry or anxiousness, as every officer was busy with their work. After a few minutes Captain Stephens spoke.

"So we have a few choices available to us. Let's make a response plan for each possibility and see what the alien does first. Our first priority is to return home, but other opportunities might arise."
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Tue 19 Jul 2016 01:39

Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Map: #3 Rose
Red Gas Giant at the center, Barren Moons at 1 tH, 3 tH, and 5 tH on a random bearing (d6))

RKN Forces

RKNS. Sungold
[2] SSS AAA H (I) Q (I) L Y (I) [6]
14 Crew
{Sx3 Ax3 L} 13 HTK

Alien Forces

1x Alpha-class DD
[3] Sx5 Ax5 H Q (I) Mg R (I) (I) (I) D Q Y (I) R [5]
24 Crew 80 rm
{Sx5 Ax5 Rx2}

Setup
The RKNS Sungold must be orbiting Rose or one of the moons and can start the scenario "hiding" (see special rules) and not visible to the alien ship. The alien ship knows that there was a ship in the area but does not know it's current location.

The alien ship can enter the map anywhere along the bottom border (see special rules). The alien ship must travel to the tH of the planet and each moon in an attempt to find the radio signal. The order of which planet/moons to explore is up to the player. If no ship is found, then the scenario ends and the alien ship will return to the Kyo Outer System map.

Victory Condtions
The RKNS Sungold can escape fairly easily by exiting along the bottom border of the map*. Because this will interrupt her survey mission, this will only result in a Minor Victory for the alien. To offset the loss of the survey mission, the RKNS Sungold must scan the alien ship (with neither ship hiding). If this is done, and the RKNS Sungold exits the bottom border of the map without damage to it's "Y" system, then the scenario ends in a Minor Victory for the Republic of Kyo Navy.

For a challenge, the RKNS Sungold can attempt to fight the alien ship. If it does more damage to the alien, and escapes, and fulfills the scanning conditions, it receives a Major Victory. If it does more damage but does not fulfill the scanning conditions, the RKNS Sungold only receives a Minor Victory.

The alien wins a Major Victory if he destroys the RKNS Sungold or Minor Victory if it can simply prevent the RKNS Sungold from exiting the map.

* Exiting the map is only possible if the ship is going faster than the opponent's ship and out of combat range, with no intention of returning. Exit via a specific map edge is only possible if the ship can move directly to that map edge without re-entering the combat range of an enemy unit.

** This is an artifact of the new campaign system I'm building for this. I'll explain it at a later date. Expect these types of limited conditions that you won't see in Solar Starfire.

Special Rules

#1. Bottom Border
For the purposes of this map, the bottom border is an equal sized border "down" from the center of the map. If using the 4-part Starfire System Map, this would be between radians 5, 6, and 7.

#2. Hiding Behind a Planet
A unit in the same tH of a planet can declare that he is hiding from an enemy unit. Drawing a line from the planet to the enemy unit, the hiding unit is always on the opposite hexside from the planet as the hexside closest to the enemy unit that intersects the line. If the scenario starts with a unit hiding, the enemy unit has not detected the hiding unit and does not know which tH it is located. If a unit that has already been detected chooses to hide, the unit's location is known. In either case, neither the hiding unit nor the enemy unit can fire at each other. During any Movement Pulse the hiding unit can declare that it is not hiding and becomes visible. It also becomes visible if it moves out of the tH or if the enemy unit enters the tH of the planet.

Notes for the potential use of this rule in future QSR scenarios: if there are other enemy units, any enemy unit that can draw a line from it to the planet and does not cross the hexside mentioned above, it can see the hiding unit. If the hiding unit was not previously detected, it is now detected. Once detected, any enemy unit that traces a line through the same hexside mentioned above cannot fire at the hiding unit.
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Tue 19 Jul 2016 01:40

I only had time for one chance to play it myself and one chance to see someone else play it. We did use the miniatures, but in this case that won't affect gameplay (as much as it will in the next scenario...)

I admit I'm posting this late at night. Let me know if I forgot anything or typo'd anything and I'll fix it in the morning.

So I'll give one result: the other guy played the Sungold decided to run away. No challenge attempt for him!
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Wed 20 Jul 2016 01:42

Minor update to the story and the victory conditions from a player suggestion.

PS. If you have an account in the forum, I would prefer that you post your suggestions to the topic to generate discussion instead of PM'ing me or emailing me. Thanks! ;)
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Thu 18 Aug 2016 11:01

Has anyone played this scenario yet? Which brave souls attempted anything other than running away...
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby noname_hero on Thu 18 Aug 2016 14:26

I'm still keeping it in mind but something always gets in the way... :(
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby noname_hero on Fri 19 Aug 2016 17:18

Thanks for the reminder to play this scenario, Cralis, it nudged me to find the time to test it. Sure, it would take me far less time if I didn’t have to come up with a microstory in English to go with it, but such microstories make these QSR scenarios more enjoyable to me.

My playthrough makes a few assumptions.
First one is that a ship can hide even if the enemy ship is in the same tH. My reading of the special rule indicates that this is the case, even though the rules about hexsides make little sense in such situations.
Second assumption is that even a hiding ship can scan the alien ship. Again, rule as written says that simply getting within 3 tH gives Sungold the scans, so even though such a reading of the rule feels a bit like cheating, it is a RaW.
My third assumption is that the tactical map is, for practical purposes, borderless and extensible. My reasoning is that even 30 turns of speed 6 movement is less than one tenth of sH. This means that if Sungold can leave the alien’s range while running towards the top edge or sides *and* retain its speed advantage, it can make a gradual turn and eventually exit via the bottom edge.


----

"Okay, XO, you're the voice of caution today, you play the alien now. Assume their captain knows where we’ll have to run, their course already indicates they think they do know.”

Lefur’s simulated course was methodical, an elaborate dance weaving a twisting pattern around Rose and its moons. She ignored orbital dynamics; at the time-scale and speeds she was dealing with, orbital velocities played next to no role. Her course, while still giving her a good chance of intercepting Sungold, let her approach the most distant moon first without giving a ship hiding behind any of the other bodies a reasonable chance of getting scans of her ship.

Her logic was understandable, almost obvious. She had to check all the bodies in this neighborhood and should Sungold be hiding around the moon closest to home, it might get its scans and then wait until Lefur has to check the most distant moon. And any body she approached generated a risk of being scanned and she knew that visiting them all made getting scanned a virtual certainty. So her course has been a carefully estimated best guess for intercepting Sungold on her way home.

Captain Stephens had no intention to run directly for home and every intention to obtain the scans he knew the admiralty would need. And his estimates told him that Sungold was not a ship he should try to keep in enemy’s blind spot with. So his best option was a risky one. But his experience and honesty made him accept the reality – marginally better chances of surviving could never outweigh the critical importance of scanning the alien ship and getting those scans home.

And there’s lots of empty space in the outer system. His XO let her focus on the tactical scale of things blind her to this fact, a mistake no doubt reinforced by “knowing” that Sungold had to head for home. She would have never made this error during peacetime exercises but this was the beginning of the long-expected war that poisoned everyone’s childhood with subconscious fears. She hoped that she would live to see her home again and this hope made the way home the most attractive one. Captain Stephens could think differently. Adding maybe half an hour tops to his flight time was a small price to pay for a tactical advantage.

Running away from home would give him precious seconds when his enemy would be counting on him heading more or less home. A ship twice Sungold’s size surely turns slowly; yes, they would have plenty of time to engage him, but maybe not enough time to cripple his ship.
So captain Stephens made himself wait while his simulated enemy was just a fraction of a light second away, on the other side of the barren moon that suddenly became a lifesaver. He made himself breathe slowly while his ship, helped by microsats around the moon, tiptoed barely a few hundred klicks to stealthily scan the leaving alien ship from inside its blind spot. He made himself wait for the alien to almost reach the last moon it had to visit, estimating its position from what his sensitive instruments might tell him about the alien’s drive field wedge. He made himself maintain his cool when his shields went flat.

And he made himself smile when he finally made it out of enemy range.

“Well, I guess our armor would be so worn out we would wish for our cargo holds to be filled with coal, at least if we were a steam-powered battleship. But I’d say that this is an option we might be able to get away with, if we’re a bit lucky. Lieutenant Gregovy, are you ready to play our alien for the next simulation?”

----

Now for the more technical stuff:

Sungold began the scenario hiding behind the topmost moon, 5 tH from Rose. My alien spent a lot of time maneuvering, its search began at the same topmost moon and almost ended at the bottommost one, 1tH from Rose. It began a turn when it had initiative, 1 tH from the bottommost moon, with Sungold facing in the opposite direction and racing away. It might have been better for Sungold to wait for the alien to actually enter the final moon hex but I went for a break instead. Sungold managed to end the first turn of shooting at range 10 and she survived seven more turns of shooting, taking only 6 hits (quick estimate tells me the average should be 7.2 hits). When the range rose to 18 and Sungold remained faster than the alien, it was only a matter of time for Sungold to sloooowly change her heading towards the bottom edge.

End result? Major victory for Kyo, thanks to luck and IMO somewhat benevolent wording of relevant special rules.
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Sun 21 Aug 2016 19:31

Excellent analysis! I really enjoyed that you turned it into a simulation for the bridge staff, that was a neat idea.

But let me cover your assumptions. :)

noname_hero wrote:My playthrough makes a few assumptions.
First one is that a ship can hide even if the enemy ship is in the same tH. My reading of the special rule indicates that this is the case, even though the rules about hexsides make little sense in such situations.


The very last sentence of the rule states that if the enemy unit enters the same tH as the planet then it detects the hiding ship.

[Second assumption is that even a hiding ship can scan the alien ship. Again, rule as written says that simply getting within 3 tH gives Sungold the scans, so even though such a reading of the rule feels a bit like cheating, it is a RaW.


Always remember the "Starfire Golden Rule", which has been present in EVERY version of the rule since Third Edition Revised. From the third paragraph of the Section A Introduction: "If a rule does not specifically state that something can be done, then the something in question is not do-able."

This would certainly apply in this case. We did not need to create a rule forbidding it because the golden rule means that, because it was not specifically allowed, that it cannot be done.

However, this is all a moot point. The victory rule said that the Sungold only needed to get "within 3 tH of the enemy ship" ... if you time your break from the moon correctly, the Sungold will be 3 tH or less away and the scan will be completed.

My third assumption is that the tactical map is, for practical purposes, borderless and extensible. My reasoning is that even 30 turns of speed 6 movement is less than one tenth of sH. This means that if Sungold can leave the alien’s range while running towards the top edge or sides *and* retain its speed advantage, it can make a gradual turn and eventually exit via the bottom edge.


That is a fair assumption. I did not cover it in this scenario (but now that it's scenario 1, I should), but in the other scenario we said that if the range opens to 30 tH or more and the "running" ship has a speed equal or higher to the chasing ship, it escapes.

While the map edges aren't hard edges, because I'm using the maps as the locations I should probably include the terminology of how "getting away" works. Your assumption is a good one if you can outrun your opponent. If he's equal speed, should we make it so you can't escape in any direction but literally have to leave via the side you're traveling?

*************

All of that said, I played the Sungold in one game where I waited until the enemy was at point blank and then I opened fire (and running the next turn). I managed to score a few hits and burn down his armor, but he rolled better than your opponent obviously did and scored a single internal hit (the H). I got really lucky he missed on the next combat phase and then I was out of range.

If the Sungold just RUNS it can't be caught here. That you can wait until the enemy is on top of you is a bit of a flaw I think. I'm thinking that perhaps it would be more of a challenge if it could detect the Sungold at like 4 or 5 tH, which means it can turn away and the Sungold would have to chase it down for a turn to get the scans.

Either way, it did turn out to be an interesting scenario as long as you didn't just flat out run away!
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby noname_hero on Mon 22 Aug 2016 14:29

My bad about the hiding rule, I somehow managed to mix it up with the Terrain rule from QSR Expansion. Guess I shouldn't play Starfire when I'm too sleepy, I ompletely forgot about that last sentence.

About the scans... I guess I should have been a bit more precise, so... I was aware of the golden rule, but the scenario's victory conditions do not define rules for scanning as such, they simply assume that getting within 3 tH of the alien gives Sungold the scans. So I was trying to express my feeling that it seems a bit like cheating to allow Sungold to count as having scanned the alien ship even in cases like simply running away with the alien in Sungold's blind spot.

This feeling got reinforced by the fact that Sungold is faster than the alien. This means that the only reason Sungold might wish to hang around is to obtain scans, so I would have been happier with more detailed rules.

****

The fact that Sungold can simply run away is the one weak spot I see in this scenario, same as you. Yes, I've enjoyed it, but a part of me still feels that a scenario shouldn't be set up so that simply running away gives the running side a guaranteed victory. It feels kind of forced to try to go for major victory at the risk of losing the ship when one knows that simply running means an automatic minor victory.

Maybe you could determine the outcome based on how close Sungold manages to get? Say, pure survival is a draw, 6 tH means minor victory, 3 tH means major victory.

Oh, and I don't think pushing Sungold towards chasing the alien is a good idea. The alien hands out (on average) 1.2 points of damage per turn at ranges of up to 11 tH. This means that even taking 8 turns to open the range from 3 tH to 11 tH averages out into 9.6 hits, while 8 hits is enough to take out one of Sungold's drive rooms.
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Re: Scenario 1. No Love for the Sciences

Postby Cralis on Mon 22 Aug 2016 16:52

noname_hero wrote:About the scans... I guess I should have been a bit more precise, so... I was aware of the golden rule, but the scenario's victory conditions do not define rules for scanning as such, they simply assume that getting within 3 tH of the alien gives Sungold the scans. So I was trying to express my feeling that it seems a bit like cheating to allow Sungold to count as having scanned the alien ship even in cases like simply running away with the alien in Sungold's blind spot.


The QSR takes the opposite path from Starfire's rules and we are tryibg to be short and simple. These interpretation issues are the result... the intent was that the ship just had to get close enough. We could say that it has to remain within 3 tH for a whole turn, that would definitely make a harder mission.

This feeling got reinforced by the fact that Sungold is faster than the alien. This means that the only reason Sungold might wish to hang around is to obtain scans, so I would have been happier with more detailed rules.


Happier with more details? You sir are a true diamond. You are music among the chorus of voices...

*ahem* This was the intent of the mission. Run away? Or try and be useful.

The fact that Sungold can simply run away is the one weak spot I see in this scenario, same as you. Yes, I've enjoyed it, but a part of me still feels that a scenario shouldn't be set up so that simply running away gives the running side a guaranteed victory. It feels kind of forced to try to go for major victory at the risk of losing the ship when one knows that simply running means an automatic minor victory.


Shouldn't it be? The DD is here to destroy it... escaping denies it that victory. If the TFN player wants to do more, he has to work for it. I guess I don't see how you call it "forced"

Maybe you could determine the outcome based on how close Sungold manages to get? Say, pure survival is a draw, 6 tH means minor victory, 3 tH means major victory.


Or maybe how much damage is done, with a bonus for escaping...

Oh, and I don't think pushing Sungold towards chasing the alien is a good idea. The alien hands out (on average) 1.2 points of damage per turn at ranges of up to 11 tH. This means that even taking 8 turns to open the range from 3 tH to 11 tH averages out into 9.6 hits, while 8 hits is enough to take out one of Sungold's drive rooms.


That was't the plan, as you've noted.
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