ON THE TABLE: “The Sector Capital” with Talon from GMT Games

Sunday , 23, April 2017 17 Comments

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 why:

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?

Wrong!

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.

17 Comments
  • Random says:

    Any updates on when (if?) this will ever be available again?

    Glad you’re enjoying it, but for the rest of us, it’s vaporware.

    • Jeffro says:

      Yeah, at Prezcon last year I went to the dealer section 30 minutes after it opening and I’d missed the chance to get a copy. I eventually paid twice what I should have in order to “save” Christmas. Doh!

      GMT Games stays in business by ONLY printing what they KNOW they can sell. This is irritating for people wanting to just get something when they feel like it. I was skeptical of this game when it first came out which made me slow to pull the trigger. But yeah… the only way to move this game forward is to go to the P500 page and preorder the reprint. They won’t send it to the printer until they hit 500 orders.

      Not ideal… but it’s how it is. If it’s any consolation, you do get a break on the price for preordering.

      • Random says:

        You might consider an article series for a larger audience than +- 500 individuals, just saying.

        • Random says:

          Strike that, it’s uncharitable. Glad you’re enjoying the game, hope they’re able to make it an in-stock item someday.

        • Jeffro says:

          I’ve covered tabletop space gaming for over decade. This is the most significant development in the field since the release of Federation Commander. This is on par with classic Traveller, Car Wars Compendium Second Edition, and Space Empires 4X.

          • Random says:

            Wait just a second…if it’s so earth-shattering, why can’t they sell more than 500 copies?

          • Random says:

            In fact, I’ll take that farther and say it CAN’T be a genre-affecting game simply because it can’t ever have the reach of those games with this boutique-ordering rot.

        • Jeffro says:

          Wargaming is itself a Baby Boomer hobby. Science fiction themed wargames represent only a fraction of the demand. Historical games are by far the most popular. Space games are only a fraction of a fraction of an already niche market.

          People either have the space gaming gene or they don’t. Nothing you can do can persuade people to get into it.

          If you’re into game design, however… you absolutely need to be aware of how Jim Krohn is innovating. That’s one more reason I dig into this as deep as I do. If you want tabletop gaming coverage that goes beyond a ten minute video where guys that have played it twice dump out the components, this is how it’s done.

          • Random says:

            But you can’t possibly compare this to Car Wars or Traveller, or even FC (flawed as it is). Those games existed. They were available for people to discover, to happen upon. Honestly each time I see one of these write ups, It’s an annoying reminder of something I might like but can’t try.

        • Jeffro says:

          Yes I can. Yes I did.

          Jim Krohn has solved space gaming design issues that gamers from the 80’s and 90’s could not imagine being solved. Twice now.

          This is the state of the art regardless of how GMT runs their business.

          • Random says:

            Enjoy.

          • Random says:

            See what you’ve done? You went and doubled down, and I had to go and look at the rules pdf that GMT so graciously posted at their website.

            This game really does look brilliant, and that’s coming from a three-time SFB Rated Ace.

            Preorder in. Please ignore my negativity. I’ll need your articles when it does arrive.

          • Matthew says:

            I’ve preordered it based on these articles, and I’m not even a real gamer. My son enjoys Space Empires 4X, but I don’t have the time to spend playing a full game with him.

    • Caderly says:

      Talon reprint is currently scheduled for this summer.

      • Random says:

        Sweet. I’m on the list now, and I saw the game includes record sheets for those of us who just can’t bring ourselves to WRITE ON the counters!!

  • Terry Sanders says:

    Ah. What the Georgia Tech SFB types called “The Boom Rules.”

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