Thank the Maker for the Centauri

Good day everyone, I haven't posted much since Christmas but I am back with an exciting game played this weekend. I had the itch to play around in the Babylon 5 universe and found some like minded people in my gaming comrades Will and Pat. For this scenario I wanted to get knee deep in the lore and mechanics of B5 and provide some interesting tactical challenges.

It is late 2246, the Earth-Minbari War has been raging for a year and a half with signs pointing to a decisive Earth defeat. As such Earthforce has directed its forces that whenever feasible if the opportunity arises to get civilians to neutral space they are to endeavor to do so. Remnants of the Vega Colony defense fleet have found themselves protecting a small contingent of civilian vessels and cut off from the rest of Earth controlled space. The admiral in charge has decided to make a run for the Centauri border to hopefully get the civilians across. Their specific goal is the Centauri border colony of Beta-3. Whether the Centauri will allow it is unknown. However, the Minbari are hot on the tail of this rag-tag group with orders to seek and destroy all Human space going assets, military or otherwise.

The Earthforce group consisted of the following:

EAS Centaur - Avenger Class Heavy Carrier, Gamma Model
EAS Leviathan - Nova Class Dreadnought, Beta Model
EAS Warspite - Hyperion Class Heavy Cruiser, Theta Model
EAS Keres - Oracle Class Scout Cruiser, Gamma Model
EAS Demeter - Sagittarius Class Missile Cruiser, Beta Model
EAS Pallas - Sagittarius Class Missile Cruiser, Beta Model
EAS Cyclops - Artemis Class Escort Frigate, Zeta Model
EAS Europa - Artemis Class Gunship, Gamma Model
EAS Orion - Artemis Class Gunship, Gamma Model
EAS Cyrus - Olympus Class Corvette, Delta Model
EAS Hades - Olympus Class Corvette, Delta Model

SS Feisty Cat - Modular Asteroid Miner
SS Lucy's Light - Passenger Liner
SS Feature Creep - Heavy Freighter
SS Rebel Coconut - Medium Freighter
SS Rainbow - Fuel Carrier

The pursuing Minbari group consisted of the following:

Dogato - Sharlin Class War Cruiser
Taalor - Tigara Class Attack Cruiser
Hylax - Tinashi Class War Frigate
Tyr - Tinashi Class War Frigate
Zerka - Tinashi Class War Frigate

The Centauri had a defense fleet at Beta-3 consisting of the following:

Caelo - Primus Class Battlecruiser, Mk II
Murargo - Primus Class Battlecruiser, Mk II
Selena - Primus Class Battlecruiser, Mk II
Coutari - Balvarin Class Carrier
Duellum - Centurion Class Attack Cruiser
Dralathi - Vorchan Class Warship
Phenom - Vorchan Class Warship
Strenuari - Vorchan Class Warship
Vino Veritas - Vorchan Class Warship
Impetum - Altarian Class Destroyer
Natanari - Altarian Class Destroyer
Defensor - Sulust Class Escort Destroyer
Fata - Sulust Class Escort Destroyer
Arrectis - Mograth Class Frigate
Tenax - Mograth Class Frigate

For this scenario we were using a number of special rules.

The Earth fleet was not subject to morale rolls (not like they had anywhere to run to) and did not have to check to ram Minbari vessels.

The Minbari player was unsure as to the reliability of the Tinashis or Tigara as they were not from his clan. As such on any turn where one of those ships has a possible firing solution on a Centauri vessel they would have to roll a D6 and on a 6 the ship must fire on the Centauri so long as it keeps that solution (damn Windswords!)

Unknown to the Minbari player, the interstellar limit for sovereign space in a system is 50 AU from the star and that limit ran through the playing area. The Centauri player would not be allowed to fire on a Minbari vessel unless it crossed that line or fired on them first. Additionally, every time the Centauri player wanted to shoot at a Minbari ship he had to roll a D6 and only on a roll of 6 was the ship allowed to fire. Once one ship had fired on the Minbari this roll would no longer be needed for other ships representing the fear of the Minbari.

The game began with the Minbari arriving in hyperspace corresponding to the Kuiper Belt of Beta-3. Their scanners told them there were both Earthforce and Centauri Navy vessels in hyperspace. However, some of the Human ships they had been chasing were missing along with all the civilians.

In hyperspace was the Nova Dreadnought escorted by an Olympus and all three Artemis'. The Centauri had three Primus Battlecruisers, one Balvarin Carrier and a smattering of support ships. Without jumping into normal space the Minbari had no way of knowing what was waiting for them.

The Minbari moved through hyperspace deeper into the Beta-3 system. Meanwhile, Earth's Nova Dreadnought and escort aggressively moved away. Curiously, the Artemis' about faced and moved towards the Minbari vessels. It almost seemed like an attack run, but who would be stupid enough to engage in combat in hyperspace? The Centauri seemed to simply sit and watch these movements. The Minbari were now faced with a choice on how to recce the battlespace. Many Minbari commanders would send in fighters or flyers to get a clear picture.

This commander decided on what he called a 'recce in force', i.e. he jumped his entire fleet in at the same time. The Earth and Centauri units in hyperspace continued to move around.

Entering normal space the Minbari could see the battlefield for the first time. He found himself in the Kuiper Belt of Beta-3 approximately 50 AU out from the primary. The local jump gate was clear on the other side of the system. It was evident that the wretched Humans were desperate to come out of hyperspace this far out. In front of him was a squadron of Centauri ships centered around a Centurion Attack Cruiser. The five Human civilian ships were burning in system as fast as their drives would allow and it appeared that the Centauri were not stopping him. Unbeknownst to the Minbari the Humans had claimed there were Centauri civilians on board their transports. There was one other problem; the Human warships were behind them!

Behind the Sharlin and less than 25,000km away was an Oracle Scout Cruiser and two Missile Cruisers.

Behind two of the Tinashis was the flagship of the Human fleet, the Avenger Heavy Carrier along with an Olympus Corvette.

Clearly trying to hide next to a Kuiper Belt object, a Hyperion Heavy Cruiser prepared to try and fire at the Tigara and its escorting Tinashi.

The Humans had done their best to lay a trap for the Minbari, however, the Minbari were not phased; they were, after all, only stupid monkeys (Pat's words).

A heartbeat after exiting hyperspace the Taalor and Hylax surgically destroyed the EAS Warspite with their rear guns leaving the Hyperion Heavy Cruiser drifting apart before it even got a chance to fire.

Two light seconds away the same scene played itself out with the Dogato incinerating the EAS Demeter leaving the Humans with only one Sagittarius Missile Cruiser.

The Tyr and Zerka broke ranks and chose to attempt to knock out a civilian ship. Firing across greater than a full light second, Neutron Beams danced across the immense bulk of the SS Feisty Cat tearing steel and titanium from her hull. However, this Modular Mining ship was the largest craft in the battlespace by a factor of two. As much as 250,000t of debris streamed off the huge ship but it kept chugging along desperate to get away.

Having been given a demonstration of Minbari firepower and precision the Earthforce ships began to return fire with ferocity. The Pallas loosed streams of missiles, the Keres lit up the night with particle weapons, and even the Centaur unleashed plasma fire, defying the logic that a carrier is weak. None of it hit.

This was not the first battle against the Minbari for most of these crews and they knew the only way to hurt them was to keep putting ordinance in the air or turn your ship into a weapon. Too far away to make the ultimate sacrifice the EAS Hades trained her railgun turrets on the mighty Sharlin. With no real sensor lock to speak of the shots were more laid by eye than computer and in that moment all sides were reminded that sometimes miracles do happen. With a crumple of crystal and bulkhead a single depleted uranium railgun round slammed into the Dogato amidships. Burrowing deep in the structure of the Sharlin the round buried itself into the Minbari reactor. In less time than it took the round to fly there the Sharlin vanished in a bright light.

All three players stood shocked for a few seconds with the realization of what had just occurred. The Centauri player looked confused, the Minbari player saddened, and the Earth player elated. The impossible shot had just happened. It was noted that, should he survive, the gunner that pulled off that shot would never buy another drink in his life.

Through all of this the Centauri remained firmly planted in space and voraciously broadcast on all frequencies that this was their space and they would not accept a violation of their borders by either sides military vessels. To reinforce their point the two squadrons in hyperspace jumped to normal space near the Minbari ships. If they were attempting to frighten the Minbari it did not appear to work. The Centauri did not dare fire at the Minbari.

That would soon change. With little regard for interstellar treaties or the paper they were written on the Minbari ships crossed the 50 AU line and were officially in violation of Centauri space. The Minbari commander had no wish to engage the Centauri, merely to hunt down the Humans like the animals they were. However, one of his subordinate captains was not listening. With no warning a Tinashi, the Hylax, opened fire on the Centauri carrier, the Coutari. Before the Centauri even realized what had happened the unruly Minbari ship had torn the rear of the carrier clean off and set off a cascade of system failures. In response the carrier quickly fired back overcoming its fear of the Minbari. The rest of the Centauri fleet soon joined in. Setting off from their carrier, five squadrons of Sentri fighters closed the distance to the Taalor and Hylax. The Minbari stealth system could fool many sensors but the Mk I eyeball still worked. Though taking horrendous losses they managed to hurt the mighty Minbari.

On the opposite flank a lone Tinashi, the Tyr, stood off against a powerful Centauri squadron centered on two Primus Battlecruisers. The momentum caused by the squadrons at the other end of the battlespace washing over them, both sides opened up at each other. The Tyr easily speared a Primus but it somehow survived. In response the Centauri fired every weapon they had and while most didn't hit their sensors were just enough better than Earth's to make it count. The front of the little Tinashi was alight with fires.

In the middle of the battlespace the remaining Tinashi and its opposing squadron of Centauri were in a twirling ballet keeping their fronts aligned with each other. This scenario played out much like the last. The Zerka hurt the Centurion Attack Cruiser badly but the return fire was just accurate enough to disable the nose of the little ship.

The only ones happy to be seeing this impromptu diplomatic incident were the Earthforce captains. The Centaur recalled its starfurys to rearm while the Pallas loosed more missiles at the Minbari, again hitting nothing but vacuum. The civilian ships continued their run to the imaginary safety of Beta-3; it was pretty clear that the Minbari would not be stopped by something as simple as a border.

As the seconds wore on the Coutari's squadron turned as fast as they could to bring their heaviest guns on the mighty Minbari ships. Green and Red beams of death continued to cris-cross the space between the ships.

In the middle the Zerka's fire weakened as much of the front half of the ship was reduced to twisted crystal and metal.

On the right the Tyr was hardly doing better, while the Centauri had an accuracy in the region of 10-15%, there were enough weapons throughout the squadron that the damage piled up too fast and the little Tinashi was on the brink of destruction.

Everything seemed to be going wrong for the Minbari and it was not about to end. Finally deciding that the time was right, the two Earthforce squadrons still in hyperspace attempted to make a precision jump to realspace. Considering their level of technology and the accuracy of their sensors the jumps were remarkably successful. Just to the left of the Zerka the three Artemis Frigates jumped in and immediately opened fire. The maneuver was as perfect as it could be, a precision hyperspace jump with an immediate alpha strike on target, beautiful. But it missed. Sigh.

However, there was a chance for redemption. At the other end of the battlespace, the EAS Leviathan and her escort performed a similar maneuver and jumped in to the right of the Taalor and Hylax. Distracted by the Centauri ships almost scraping her blue paint, the Taalor was too busy to even notice the hulking Human brick off her starboard side. The Leviathan unloaded every weapon that could bear; seven Laser/Pulse Arrays and 36 Class-S Missile Cells. Quantity has a quality all of its own. Two lasers hit for moderate damage but it was the eight ship killer missiles that managed to lock onto the Taalor that made the difference. Along with the Starfurys screaming in like banshees, there were simply too many targets to shoot down. The Taalor died not in a flash like her larger cousin but in an earthquake of explosions and concussion waves resonating through her crystal hull. She simply shattered.

The Minbari fleet was now reduced to three Tinashi War Frigates, two of which had been nearly crippled by Centauri battle lasers. They performed a most un-Minbari maneuver and retreated to hyperspace. The Earthforce ships immediately surrendered to the Centauri and felt relief for the first time in 18 months. The Centauri looked terrified.

This game was a blast full of twists and turns but was also tactically interesting and challenging to fight through. A number of strange events occurred such as a Sharlin having its reactor go critical from the only shot that hit it, to the first Centauri vessel attempting to fire on the Minbari pass its roll after being the Minbari's first target, to a Nova Dreadnought somehow achieving a hit rate a little above F##k Nothing. Sometimes these AARs just write themselves.

I would like to thank Will for playing the Centauri to a 'T' and to Pat for somehow having more fun than us while having the worst luck with the Minbari, good fun all around.

The rule set we used can be found here: Metaverse

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