The Corvette Swarm

Happy Monday All! This weekend I invited some friends over to have a go at a Star Wars game on the big table. This game was not only for good times and good laughs but also as a trial of sorts for the slowly developing 2nd Edition of Metaverse. Up to this point we have tested all the new components and rules individually and in small groupings but we were finally ready to deploy the revamped system in its entirety. To do this I chose to do a larger game than we would normally be comfortable with for a first test, a stress test if you will, to observe the interaction of the mechanics in a real environment. It went splendidly!

For the game I chose to get out my growing Star Wars collection and we let loose with the new scenario generator. The first thing we did was determine the scenario we would play, in this case 'Fleet In Being'. The tag line for this scenario is: "The attacker is testing the capabilities of the defending fleet and attempting to strategically destroy the enemy’s fleet piecemeal". Essentially the attacking fleet is strategically outnumbered by the defender but has achieved tactical superiority. The scenario requires the fleet with the lower starting point total to be the attacker and since the Rebel fleet had a lower starting value, they would attack, which also fit thematically.

One of the features of the new systems we have put in place is that two players need not arrive with the same point value, the scenarios will equalize (and some times un-equalize) the points between the fleets. It is still a good idea to agree on a ball-park point total, say 5-10,000 points, so the difference is not too great.

The basic conditions of the scenario specified standard opposing deployment zones, however, the Rebel fleet would lose double morale points for each lost starship. To counter this they received free rolls on their reinforcement list to boost the strength of their fleet. Essentially, the Rebel fleet would outnumber the Empire after support and reinforcement purchases but they would feel their losses more than normal. In the rough center of the table was a gas giant approximately the size of Neptune.

First up for pre-game decisions was the defender, the Empire.

The basic fleet of the Imperial players was as follows:

1xVictory Class Star Destroyer Mk II - HIMS Nemesis [Flagship with Vice Admiral]
     1xTIE/Ln Fighter Sqn, 1xTIE/Sa Bomber Sqn, 1xXG-1 Star Wing Sqn

1xVindicator Class Heavy Cruiser Mk I - HIMS Peremptory [Wing Leader with Commodore]
     1xTIE/Ln Fighter Sqn, 1xTIE/Rc Vanguard Sqn

1xStrike Class Cruiser Mk II - HIMS Kingmaker [Wing Leader with Commodore]
     1xTIE/Ln Fighter Sqn, 1xTIE/In Interceptor Sqn, 1xTIE/Sa Bomber Sqn

1xDreadnought Class Heavy Cruiser Mk II - HIMS Apocalypse

2xCarrack Class Cruisers Mk I - HIMS Audacious & Cold Light

4xArquitens Class Corvettes - HIMS Eternal, Helldiver, Reaver, & Venom

4xCR90 Class Corvettes - 1541-A through B

Being the more expensive fleet, the Imperial players were allowed to purchase up to 1D6 options from their support list or rolls on their reinforcement list. The support list is a list of items that the players can purchase for specified point costs to add into their existing fleet. They can purchase individual starships to add into their squadrons, upgrades to their starships, and upgrades to their starfighter squadrons. The reinforcement list is a list of starship squadrons that can be added to the fleet structure but when purchased the players must roll to see what squadron they get.

Realizing that whatever they purchase they are giving that many points to the Rebel players, the Imperial players purchased just two Lancer Class Frigates from their Support List to add to the fleet. They placed them as escorts to the two Wing Leaders to increase their point-defence abilities.

The basic Rebel fleet consisted of the following:

1xMC80 Class Star Destroyer Mk I - ANS Wavesong [Flagship with Vice Admiral]
     1xBTL Y-Wing Sqn, 1xR-41 Starchaser Sqn, 1xRZ-1 A-Wing Sqn, 1xSF-01 B-Wing Sqn, 1xT-65 X-Wing Sqn, 1xZ-95 Headhunter Sqn, 3xVCX-100 Freighters, 3xDelta JV-7 Escort Shuttles

1xAssault Class Heavy Cruiser Mk I - ANS Paragon [Wing Leader with Commodore]

1xNeutron Star Class Heavy Cruiser Mk II - ANS Diligent [Wing Leader with Commodore]
     1xARC-170 Sqn, 1xDelta-7 Aethersprite Sqn, 1xEta-2 Actis Sqn

1xDreadnought Class Heavy Cruiser - ANS Hope's Light

4xCR90 Class Corvettes - ANS Beacon, Corellian Dance, Dodonna's Prides, & Frazier

Being the cheaper fleet the Rebel players had more points to spend on support and reinforcements to make up the difference in the fleets. From their support list the Rebels purchased eight Hammerhead Corvettes and spread them around the heavy ships for protection, a Nebulon-B Frigate placing it in the CR90 Corvette squadron, and a CC-9600 Frigate having it escort the Dreandought . They also upgraded their ARC-170s, R-41 Starchasers, and Z-95 Headhunters to X-Wings. From their Reinforcement List they had one roll and received a squadron of four CR90 Corvettes.

The Rebel players deployed their forces in two wings. The left wing was centered on the MC80 with the Assault Cruiser flanking it on the left and the Dreadnought and CC-9600 Frigate flanking it on the right.

The right wing was anchored by the Neutron Star with the Nebulon B Frigate and CR90 Corvettes forming a light screen.

In contrast, the Imperial players deployed in three wings. The left wing consisted of the Victory, the Vindicator, and the four CR90s. This put the opposing flagships at opposite corners of the battlespace.

The center, facing the gas giant, consisted of the Strike Cruiser and the two Carracks along with a can of Guinness.

The right wing was made up by the Dreadnought and the four Arquitens Corvettes.

As the game began the Rebel right wing advanced their horde of corvettes towards the Imperial lines with the Neutron Star hanging back launching its myriad of starfighters. Their opponents seemed content with countering with only their own corvettes. It was if only the opposing corvettes had any gusto with the heavier ships lazily plodding forward like their was no battle at all.

Fearing the might of the MC80 looming to the right of the gas giant, the Imperial center wing swung left to support the fight against the Rebel corvettes. The Strike Cruiser began dumping her modest starfighter compliment. It was at this moment that the Imperial players realized that they were actually outnumbered in starfighters, an unusual circumstance for them. The fleet commander directed the assault gunboats to perform a CAP on the Carrack Cruisers.

The Rebel corvette swarm raced across the light seconds between the fleets with Alpha-3 Nimbus V-Wings and BTL Y-Wings in tow. Most of the fire directed their way hit empty space, however, a lucky barrage from the Victory struck true against the Nebulon-B Frigate atomizing it in moments.

The Victory and the Vindicator calmly released their TIEs into space. Other than the barrage that destroyed the Nebulon-B, they traded long range fire with the Neutron Star opposite them as if the corvettes didn't even exist.

At the same time, the other flank of the battlespace was much more intense. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the Rebel group in front of them, the Imperial Dreadnought and Arquitens Corvettes did the only sane thing; they charged straight at them! The corvettes danced and weaved their way through heavy turbolaser and ion cannon fire to close with the massive MC80 until they were able to release their concussion missiles and thin out the gathering cloud of Rebel starfighters. Not so much charging as meandering, the Dreadnought advanced behind the corvettes trading fire with both the Assault Cruiser and the MC80. To survive the onslaught the Dreadnought's Captain had to carefully balance the shields of his ship but even this was a temporary measure. He knew that eventually the weight of fire would bring his ship down.

While the far side of the field was turning into a desperate melee, the other side had the Rebel corvettes still charging at the Imperial line. Seemingly unnoticed by the Rebels, the Imperial CR90s turned in behind their Rebel lookalikes and began to trade fire. However, all twelve corvettes spread between the two camps were jinking for all they were worth so few turbolaser rounds actually landed.

The Dreadnought Captain's 'brilliant plan' was beginning to fall apart. The turbolaser fire was intensifying as the range closed and a X-Wing bombing run on his ship was barely foiled by the timely intervention of some TIE Interceptors. All indications was this was going to be a wild and bloody ride into the jaws of death. Yet miraculously both the Dreadnought and the corvette squadron continued to survive, much to the chagrin of the Rebels.

In the midst of the Rebel ships, the Arquitens Corvettes were now surrounded and paying the price. Though maneuvering like mad men, enough fire was directed their way that all four were leaking atmosphere and leaving a trail of scorched debris. One corvette took three heavy ion cannon blasts in quick succession that left the ship nearly lifeless. Worse they could see the next starfighter attack forming up as the MC80 continued to launch squadrons. Their relayed observations made the Dreadnought Captain realize that the next time the Rebel starfighters came his way his ship would be destroyed. As his future was contemplated the Captain saw two explosions on the sensor screen. Both Carrack Cruisers had detonated following heavy fire from the Neutron Star. The first cruiser's reactor detonated washing the second in enough radiation to destroy it too. Rebel fists were raised in the air.

Following up on this success a massed starfighter assault was sent towards the Strike Cruiser. This promised to be a bloody encounter.

At the other end of the battlespace the charge of the corvettes was ending badly. Now surrounded on three sides facing a star destroyer, heavy cruiser, and four corvettes, the Rebel light ships began falling. While they zigged and zagged as much as they could the volume of fire and the shortening range overcame their maneuvers.

Hanging back the Neutron Star had destroyed two Carrack Cruisers and directed a starfighter assault at the Strike Cruiser. However, when the corvette swarm inevitably fell they would have to face a Victory and a Vindicator solo.

At least the Strike Cruiser wouldn't be a threat. The Rebel starfighter strike closed in with the cruiser and prepared to crush it. A Y-Wing squadron loaded with Ion Torpedoes was escorted by a mixed bag of starfighters including Aethersprites, V-Wings, Eta-2 Actis', and X-Wings. Opposing them was two squadrons of TIE Fighters, two squadrons of TIE Bombers, one squadrons of TIE Vanguards, and one squadron of Assault Gunboats. Critically the Vanguards were scout starfighters which lowered the target rating of the Rebel squadrons. Both sides activated one of their unique tactics. The Imperials used 'Unstoppable Wave' which raised their target ratings so long as they outnumbered their opponent. The Rebels used 'Ace Pilots' which raised the furball ratings of all their participating squadrons. The furball was brutal with all of the X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and Assault Gunboats being destroyed as well as numerous other casualties. However, critically, the Y-Wings managed to loose their torpedoes. A full wave of Ion torpedoes sailed towards the Strike Cruiser. Only the presence of the Lancer Frigate managed to keep the ship alive as the plucky little frigate shot down many of the torpedoes. The rest did moderate damage to the front of the cruiser but disabled many systems. The Strike Cruiser was not destroyed but certainly needed time to recover.

At the same time the starfighter strike that the Dreadnought Captain feared had finally arrived. Flying straight at the heavy cruiser was two squadrons of X-Wings with Proton Torpedoes loaded, a flight of JV-7 Escort Shuttles, and a VCX-100 modified freighter. As the port deflector shields of the Dreadnought fell and the hull melted under the ion cannon and turbolaser fire from the MC80, Rebel Dreadnought, and CC-9600 Frigate, waves of Proton Torpedoes slammed into its nose. Moments later the Dreadnought broke up into multiple pieces. Her charge was over.

It was after this momentary victory that the Rebel players failed their command roll, having suffered too many losses their fleet retreated. Total losses for both sides amounted to:

Imperial Losses:
1xDreadnought Class Heavy Cruiser
1xArquitens Class Corvette
2xCarrack Class Cruisers
2xTIE/Ln Fighter Squadrons
1xTIE/In Interceptor Squadron
1xXG-1 Star Wing Squadron

Rebel Losses:
6xHammerhead Class Corvettes
5xCR90 Class Corvettes
1xNebulon B Class Frigate
1xT-65 X-Wing Squadron
1xRZ-1 A-Wing Squadron
1xDelta JV-7 Escort Shuttle Flight
1xBTL Y-Wing Squadron

The Imperials actually sustained more tonnage in losses, however, their morale threshold is much higher than the Rebels. Combined with the scenario requiring the Rebels to take double morale losses it was comparatively easier to break them. That being said the Imperials did have a hard fought game with serious losses. A successful game all around.

The complete interaction of all the new rules and components went smoother than I could have hoped. The scenario was interesting and changed the dynamic significantly. These two fleets could face off again in a different scenario and the feel would be completely different. Additionally, the pre-game steps of choosing support and reinforcement options had me concerned that players wouldn't enjoy that process. However, they players seemed to enjoy it as much as the game itself. It provided a small amount of control and variability to them without giving them too much. It also means that the same fleets could match up again and the final TO&E might not be the same.

The Rebel players realized that their purchase of so many corvettes, while thematically appropriate, was a hindrance to them in this scenario. With the requirement to take double morale losses for their ships, the corvettes became an easy target for the Imperials to knock off morale points quickly, which is exactly what they did.

I am really excited for the changes and additions we have made for 2nd Edition and want to play more!

Thank you to Adam, Will, and Dave for an enjoyable game.

The first edition of the rules can be found here.

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