This is the big one.
There’s five ships to a side in this one. The Terrans have a total of seven hard hitting anti-matter torpedoes on their ships. The Talon have not only five seeking weapons on their ships and countless disruptors, but also the awesome “space shotgun” that is the fusion canon.
Now… if every single scenario was this huge, we probably wouldn’t play this game as much. The last one only took an hour. And there are plenty of scenarios that can be completed in less than two hours with this. But yeah, we’ve been wanting to play a gigantic fleet battle with this ever since we got this game. And thanks to the fact that that we’ve played several smaller scenarios, we are fluent enough with the rules that it won’t be a total waste.
But there was an absolutely tremendous blunder that we made with this one. See, there’s a really big difference in how Talon plays with large fleets that have some of the bigger ships in them. You can’t just play them like a bigger fancier crazier version of the small ship actions.
Here’s where we went wrong: we massed our ships together so we could concentrate their fire. The Terrans prepared to use their battery power to seize the initiative in order to set up the perfect opening salvo. The Talon looked out for a chance to use their afterburners in order to foil that plan. Everything normal here, right?
The Terrans here have just scored an FTL core breach against the Talon CA Unity. The heavy cruiser explodes, taking out three of the Talon missiles with it, not to mention damaging the shields of the ships around it. This is not just token damage, either. This is enough to drop a shield on the smaller ships! (If the Terrans hadn’t missed with three of their anti-matter torpedoes, the entire game could have ended right there with a not insignificant chance of the BB Eliminator exploding as well!)
But the Terrans will be punished for their tight formation, too. Observe:
The Talon Battleship closes to point blank range in order to fire its awesome fusion cannon, exploding the Terran DD and CL while also nearly crippling the Terran CA. Okay, the Talon can’t count on rolling a six with their fusion canon every single time, sure. But it’s clearly just dumb for the Terrans to fly in tight formation as it is for the Talon!
In the next large scale action, you can expect to see both sides change things up a little more in the set up phase. In smaller battles, you absolutely want to get as many shots off as possible in order to get those weapons recycling right away on the second turn. In a big game, though… you really don’t want your light ships next to your cruisers. Ships explode reliably enough that your opponent will surely punish you for it!
How did this one end…?
The Terrans turned as the Talon ships flew into them. Their phasers could do significant damage while all the other weapons were recharging. Every hex mattered as did every point of movement and power. But both sides had a devil of a time setting up a decisive blow, however.
The following turn, the Terrans completed recharging their heavy weapons, but could not get them in arc. (The punishing turn mode on the large ships made it impossible to do so.) At the end, the Terrans finally figured out that they needed to slow down. This gave them a lot of power that allowed them to sideslip or steal the initiative at will. Even then, they could not kill enemy ships without risking damage through a down shield. After thinking it all through, they managed to get into a reasonable position and finish off the small ships. The Talon Battleship was (as we’ve seen previously) fairly useless once it fired its weapons. (It just can’t recharge them if it’s taken enough hull damage to reduce its power rating by two.) The three Terran cruisers could fly into it and eliminate it with no chance of taking damage.