This one’s a giant fleet battle. Okay, not a monster fleet battle. But bigger than what I would tend to spontaneously set up for Star Fleet Battles or even Federation Commander. The Terrans have four ships and the Talon have five. Nobody is running anything smaller than a light cruiser. No transports. No bases. No carriers or fighters or destroyers or frigates. No funny scenario objectives. JUST WARSHIPS. In a stand up fight. Just because.
And it took exactly two hours to play out.
This is what we bought the game for and we totally got it. And yes, there are only two factions in this game and it’s liable to stay that way for the foreseeable future. This will never be the money pit that other space game franchises have become. And that’s both a plus and a minus. Jim Krohn’s Talon really only does one thing and that’s it: it gives you the fleet battles you’ve always wanted to play in a rule set that’s easy to learn and scenarios that play out quickly enough that you’ll actually get them played. And honestly, that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted in a space game.
My tactics are evolving. At first I just cruised in and just started fighting… and then struggled to adapt to the chaos following the initial battle pass. Then my son demonstrated how the Talon could use their afterburners in order to move into firing position and take out my ships before they even had a chance to shoot. I started thinking more. I started taking more range 2 phaser shots and range 3 torpedo shots because I had lost the chance to fire at all so many times before.
The big thing for me is the turn after my heavy weapons have fired. This has become a decisive part of the game for me. Previously I have continued at speed 3 slowly recharging my torpedoes. But when they got fully charged, I could not bring them to bear upon the enemy! I just can’t outmaneuver the Talon at that speed, and throwing power into “powering through a turn” is not enough. So I started slowing down a notch following the pass. This lowers my turn mode and decreases the amount of time I spend hurtling away from my targets. My phasers cycle back into play quicker, too. The Talon? They’re not firing anything. The turn following the battle pass is like a shooting gallery now. And it’s possible to get a repeat of the same sorts of shots in the third turn.
This is a killer tactic and the Talon have to adapt to it or lose. They absolutely have to stay outside of range two following a battle pass or they will get eaten up. If they can set up a range four shot with missiles or a range two shot with disruptors and then immediately turn away, that is the best. If they are ending the game with unused afterburners they are playing the game wrong. They need to be using them to ensure that they can set up another attack run. They are not knife fighters the way the Terrans are. They are saber dancers.
This is not quite a puzzle game. But once you get into this, you do have to start thinking about your moves. But because of the low complexity level and the ease with which you can read the board, you can think about your moves. You can start making choices based on where ships are going to be and who is going to have initiative. Both factions can violate the sequence of play in their own way and leveraging that is the key to staying in the game. Not understanding that your opponent can do that will cost you ships. Not being able to threaten to do that will cost you the game.