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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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emckinney13 Sep 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

Ethan McKinney, John Schilling and David Ells met in March to play a game of Attack Vector. At the time, the jokes were about how the Marine (Ells) had to mediate between the employees of the two rival aerospace companies. Here's their After-Action Report.

The main text is John's in-character account of the action. Ethan, flying the Ruballah, has his in-character comments in brackets, while editorial comments are footnoted.

===

ODFS "Poseidon"

Action Report

6 November 2267

In company with the ODFS "Horst Wallerstein," "Poseidon" attempted transit of the BD+36 2219 system en route to Damso. During transit, the task group encountered a lone warship assessed as a Rafik Mk. 1 of the Medinan Space Force. The vessel identified herself as the "Ruballah," but refused to match vectors for boarding and inspection. Presuming her to be operating in conjunction with the "Saladin," and thus both hostile and armed with illicit nuclear weapons, and likely enroute for the fleet base at AD Leonis, I concurred with Captain Ells that immediate action was warranted with unrestricted rules of engagement.

During pre-battle maneuvering, we deployed perpendicular to Ruballah's course [my starting vector was in C/D, so this isn't quite right] with Wallerstein taking position 100 km off-axis in bearing 000 {1}, Poseidon 100 km off-axis in bearing 180 {2}. Wallerstein established 1200 m/s {3} closing velocity, while Poseidon established a similar velocity on bearing 150 {4} to block any attempt to evade in that direction. Ruballah's captain, in the first of several mistakes, essentially matched Poseidon's lateral vector, placing the ships on course for a short-range, low-velocity pass with a closing velocity of roughly 1500 m/s. We speculate that Ruballah's captain intended to engage the Wallerstein but was confused by that ship's ECM gear during the approach. {5}

Poseidon launched two Hydra-II and two Eumaion-II missiles at twenty-second intervals shortly after entering engagement range. I was concerned that Ruballah's captain would snipe all four missiles with low powered medium-range laser shots, but she instead used full-power shots to destroy two missiles, but leave the other two to complete their burns and deploy submunitions before the lasers could recycle.

[Capt. Mustamirr Nahr Fawwara: I considered the chances of the missiles surviving low-power shots to be too great to accept the risk. My tactical officer had declared that Ruballah could easily evade the remaining missiles.] {6}

At this point, Ruballah was maneuvering to evade the task group with 1.25 G thrust in heading 180 {7}, which would have enabled her to engage Poseidon alone with our missile armament depleted. Two and a half metric tons of hypervelocity kinetic munitions deployed along that axis forced Ruballah to double back.

An attempt to evade in the +Z {8}, and later the 000 directions, was thwarted by the surviving Eumaion-II missile, which shifted its own vector before deploying its hardened kinetic penetrator submunitions. Ruballah was left evading in the Z direction, and the potential advantage afforded by her high acceleration largely neutralized by the resulting corkscrew trajectory. Poseidon's 0.75G acceleration was sufficient to roughly match the Ruballah while increasing the closing velocity, and Wallerstein was nearly able to reach optimum firing range despite an unfavorable starting position.

With Poseidon and Ruballah closing at better than 1500 m/s, Ruballah continued to build transverse velocity in the Z direction while firing three missiles and a steady stream of light coilgun rounds to block our acceleration on the same vector. {9}

Reduced-power laser and zone defense fire destroyed one missile and several coilgun salvos, but I ultimately decided not to close aggressively with the Ruballah and instead turn nose-on to deliver maximum coilgun fire along the only vector remaining to the Ruballah.

By skillful maneuver, Ruballah's captain established a vector that would have passed through the task group without ever coming within optimum laser range of either ship, but allowed a perfect alpha strike by Ruballah against Poseidon and then disengagement towards the rabbit hole at high relative velocity.

Wallerstein delivered a single massed laser strike at approximately 250 kilometers, but only inflicted modest damage. A second strike at roughly the same range would have followed shortly if the engagement had continued.

[Capt. Mustamirr Nahr Fawwara: The Kennet-class ship's vector of 2.7 km/s was passing behind the Ruballah's current position, and the Ruballah's vector would carry her away from the enemy ship's vector. My navigator judged that the enemy ship's velocity was so great that it would overshoot before it could come into effective range. In addition, I planned to go to maximum thrust as soon as we passed Poseidon.]

Poseidon would not have been able to deliver a laser strike in any event; even with fully charged batteries and reactors at full, our power was entirely committed to coilguns and missile defense and our energy reserves were below 6% at closest approach.

[Capt. Mustamirr Nahr Fawwara: I had no idea how depleted the Poseidon's batteries were. If my tactical officer had kept track of this, many of my tactical decisions would have been different. Wallerstein was going to stay out of optimal range; Ruballah would have taken damage, but it was the least of my worries.]

Poseidon's early coilgun fire was sufficient to force Ruballah to end her Z evasion lest she fly into a full salvo of 100-kilogram kinetics. She instead cut power and turned nose-on to Poseidon for the pass. One can only presume that the early cinematic masterpieces of Clint Eastwood are not common viewing in the Medinan Space Force. "Was that eight coilgun salvos, or was it only seven? Do you feel lucky, Rabbit?"

[Capt. Mustamirr Nahr Fawwara: I believed the Poseidon still had several salvos left to fire, but that seemed irrelevant.]

It was, in fact, only six coilgun salvos to that point, and I had nothing better to do than empty the magazines for a time-on-target salvo against a ship that could not restart her engines or change her vector fast enough to evade. At this point, Poseidon was nearly as helpless, with our ready ammunition expended and insufficient energy reserves for a ship-killing laser strike or even full zone defense.

Ruballah did deliver a laser alpha strike at under 200 km range, rather than holding back the lasers for reduced-power, rapid-fire zone defense.

[Capt. Mustamirr Nahr Fawwara: Nearly a metric ton of kinetics would hit Ruballah in the next 60 seconds; my evaluation was that Poseidon would be able to fire two more salvos as we merged. Ruballah's point defense officer calculated that it was impossible for her to shoot down the projectiles in flight, much less any beyond that. If I ordered the main battery to continue engaging the incoming shells, they would never be available for use against the Poseidon! (Battery depletion was a serious concern for the Ruballah, as well.) Finally, we were flying right into point-blank for the Poseidon's anti-ship laser battery--or so I evaluated the situation. We were about to be defeated, but we would do real damage first! Death or glory!] {10}

Poseidon suffered only modest damage to her combat systems, but several crew members including the #1 damage control party were killed. I ordered an immediate turn to starboard to minimize the pursuit delay if the engagement turned into a stern chase. This may have been a mistake; three light coilgun salvos were already incoming, and the Ruballah fired a fourth missile (presumably nuclear) at close range. {11} With only one laser and three particle beams able to bear as we turned, and insufficient energy for full power on the laser, this was a damn close thing. Quick reaction from gunnery slagged the missile seconds after launch, and the particle beams killed all but one of the coilgun rounds.

Ruballah's zone defense fire was just as spectacularly ineffective. Attempting to engage twelve 100-kg kinetics at closing velocities of 5.5 km/s to 6.2 km/s with just two zone-defense lasers, she was able to shoot down only three. Ruballah quite simply disintegrated under the simultaneous impact of the remaining munitions, leaving no survivors nor salvageable debris.

Had her captain cancelled the alpha strike against Poseidon, it is likely that reduced-power shots from the main lasers would have sufficed to clear a path through our kinetics, enabling her to pass with minimal damage and set up a stern chase. We'd have reloaded the reserve Vipers and fired them up her tailpipe; Captain Ells would have pursued with equal acceleration and targeted her propulsion with long-range laser fire until his ship overheated, but given the favorable vector the Ruballah could possibly have escaped. Instead, her captain chose to kill five of my men at the cost of his entire crew and the failure of his mission.

Current status: Poseidon has suffered minor damage to the A mount laser, B mount coilgun, #1 reactor, and one heat sink all of these systems were taken offline for safety, but have now been repaired. One officer and four ratings have been killed, and these will not be repaired. Five more are wounded. Fuel 23% expended, coilgun ammunition 95% expended, primary missile armament expended but reserve Vipers in the tubes. ODFS Horst Wallenstein undamaged. Proceeding to Damso system to investigate reports of a blockade, though our depleted ammunition reserves will require the Wallenstein to handle any major action there.

Editor's Notes

{1} All bearings are true relative to the system's primary unless specifically stated. 000 is the map and AVID direction "A" in Attack Vector: Tactical. 100 km is 5 hexes

{2} Map and AVID direction "D."

{3} 8 hexes per turn, or one hex per segment.

{4} In the C/D direction (halfway between C and D).

{5} Translation: Ethan was an idiot and confused the two Olympian ships.

{6} Ethan: "I actually forgot about missile vulnerability, so I overestimated how hard it would be to kill the missiles at near-maximum range. I was looking at the 40% chance of a Dn result and I wanted them to die before they deployed. I think I also waited a segment or two too long to shoot, and/or forgot the Sequence of Play (when lasers fire vs. when submunitions deploy)."

{7} Thrust 5 in direction D.

{8} Up.

{9} Several of these missile launches were illegal, as was the last-minute launch before Ruballah was destroyed. Ethan forgot how terrible the missiles' firing arcs are on the Rafiks, and forgot that using a flex point now only allows you to expand that firing arc by 3 windows, instead of making it omni-directional.

{10} We were also running out of time.

{11} This launch appears to have been illegal, due to the truly terrible arcs for the missile launchers on the Rafik-class.

Lion in the Stars13 Sep 2017 8:52 a.m. PST

AV:T missile launchers must use coilguns for initial acceleration or something, because you should be able to get near-hemispherical arcs out of a VLS.

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Sep 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

I enjoyed that write up, thanks for posting!

emckinney17 Sep 2017 9:35 p.m. PST

DSG, have you had a chance to try AV:T?

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