Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Classic Confrontation

After months of procrastination and a hectic set of winter holidays, Earl, Sean and I finally got together to try playing the Star Fleet version of the A Call to Arms space battle game. Sean's miniatures are very nearly completed, and Earl used some newly purchased technical pens to put the names and striping onto his Federation vessels.

Sean's Romulans were hampered by the fact that we were trying to avoid using the advanced rules, which of course include his strategic lynchpin, the dreaded cloaking device. Despite this, his King Eagle heavy cruiser still managed to cripple Earl's USS Excalibur.

For the second game, I took on the (presumably repaired and refitted) Excalibur with my Klingon D7, the Battlecruiser Vengeance. By this point, Earl had become a lot more familiar with the Special Actions available to him, which are really the heart of the game: each turn, before moving your ship, you can attempt to give a special order, such as Boost Energy to Shields!, or Close Blast Doors!, which will give certain benefits, such as replenishing damaged shields or granting a 5+ save against any damage taken that turn. Sometimes you won't want to take a Special Action, since they may drain your power and limit your movement or offensive capability. They can even involve a dice roll with punitive repercussions for failing, such as when he attempted a High Energy Turn! And ended up not only turning shallower than intended, but damaging his impulse drive to boot.

For my part, I would quite often sit down after having moved my ship only to curse at the realization that I had neglected to give the order that could have repaired my shields. Thankfully, the inability of Captain Woods to beat my dice rolls for initiative meant that I enjoyed the tactical advantage of moving last in all but three or four turns of combat, and I was able to eke out a narrow victory.
With both of us having given the order to Overload Weapons! (which doubles the damage done by photon torpedoes and disruptors), Earl moved his Constitution class heavy cruiser into a decent enough position, but I instead opted to move straight backwards, putting me into his aft starboard quarter, and out of the firing arc of his deadly torpedoes. My D7 opened up, and blew Excalibur's superstructure apart, limping away from the battlefield with no shields and only one hull point left before being crippled itself.

We had quite a bit of fun, even without using any terrain (planets, asteroids, gas clouds) and only one ship apiece. As we increase the size of our engagements and the amount of rules we use, I am certain our enjoyment will only increase. The A Call to Arms rules use a very simple set of base mechanics which are then supplemented by a number of attributes and exceptions that make the sequence of play very easy to follow, even if it takes a little time for everyone to figure out what the different ship and weapons traits actually mean.

In fact, even the rules for Cloaking Devices look surprising straightforward; instead of secretly plotting your moves in writing, your model remains on the table, ignoring weapons fire on a roll of 2+. Once you disengage your cloak, however, it can be moved up to 6" in any direction, and turned up to 45 degrees, meaning that opponents only have an approximate idea where a cloaked ship may be, and a cagy Romulan player will always wait until winning initiative to uncloak, and very likely get a fatal drop on them with the intensely unpleasant plasma torpedo.

There are plans afoot for a multi-ship encounter at G&G VIII with nothing but D7s and Constitutions, which I think could be a lot of fun, but in the meantime, I can't wait for the next opportunity to test my tiny fleet. I am certain Capt. Woods is clamouring for a rematch as well!

1 comment:

  1. Two well-earned victories by my honourable opponents!