The war started out in 2114 with a Terran occupation of Procyon. As the Vilani have a world at Nusku, the Terrans went to the galactic east. The landings were without any opposition and administrative in nature. The 5th Rifles Division settled down for occupation duty. Then an Imperial Task Force arrived in system having used a tanker in the Sirius System to pass through that tertiary star. Later intelligence would reveal that the Imperials appealed to the Emperor for additional funding in an effort to quickly end Terra’s expansionist plans. The invading Vilani quickly destroyed the Terran fleet in system, including two valuable transports, and landed two regular troop divisions and another of Jump Troops. The 5th Rifles put up a valiant fight but was overwhelmed by the Imperial ground forces and surrendered. By the end of 2115, the situation looked bleak for the Terrans seeing as they were being hemmed in by the Vilani.
The defeat at Procyon, coupled with the presence of Vilani at Nusku, led to a unification of effort in the Terran forces. Production of Missile Boats was begun, as well as raising defensive forces. The new Terran Confederation was readying for a defensive war of the homeworlds. That is until the Imperials overstretched themselves.
Intelligence agencies disagree if it was just poor planning or hubris that led to the Imperial invasion of Midway. The planet had no Terran outpost or other forces in system. Maybe the Imperials thought they could seize a forward staging area. Regardless, the Terran Fleet put an end to those plans by pulling together a scratch force and ended the Imperial eastern invasion threat. First, they defeated the Imperial Task Force above Midway, leaving two divisions of Imperial troops stranded on the planets surface. Additionally, a Scout squadron passed through the Procyon system (bypassing a lone Imperial Transport squadron) and jumped to Sirius. There the scouts engaged the Imperial tanker squadron in the system and destroyed it before it could escape. Though a one-way mission (the scout squadron had no way to get home) by controlling the Sirius system, even for just a short time, the Terrans isolated the eastern invasion fleets. Left stranded in Procyon and beyond were two Imperial transport squadrons and three divisions of troops, including the 60th Proxima Centauri Jump Division. By the end of 2117 the transports had been run down and eliminated.
The Vilani Provincial Governor was shocked. In four years of combat on the trailing side of Terran space, the Imperials had lost 2xCL, 4xDD, 2xSC, 3xTR, a tanker, and had three divisions of troops trapped behind enemy lines. Looking over his ledger, the governor was aghast at the 27 RU of losses – as much as the province produced in two years. Production was quickly reorganized with additional transports being built and more troops raised. Acting on intelligence reports the Terrans were building new missile boat attrition units, the governor approved the Navy request to build a carrier with fighters. The Navy also adopted a forward defense posture for Nusku and the spinward side of Terra, gambling the Terrans did not have a tanker in production that would allow them passage through Sirius just yet.
SUBJ BATTLE OF PROCYON TRAINING – EXERCISE FULL THRUST
Following Battle of Procyon, all task force commanders directed to exercise simulated tactical situation in order to discern lessons learned for use in future fleet engagements.
HISTORICAL OOB: Terran Confederation Fleet (TCF) one light cruiser (CL), destroyer (DD), and two scouts (SC) vs Vilani Imperial Fleet (VIF) Task Force of two CL, four DD, and two SC. Meeting engagement.
EXERCISE SIMULATION FT120304 BEGINS
TCF Task Force deployed with CL and DD line astern; 3xSC offset to starboard; speed 4.
VIF Task Force deployed with 2xCL center, 2x SC line astern aft of CLs, 2xDD deployed left/right flanks of CLs; speed 4.
TCF and VIF advance to range of 24+. TCF CL uses Class-2 beams to hit VIF DD3. Minor damage to armor. As forces continue to close VIF CL uses SALVO MSLS to strike CL/DD group. Due to maneuvering TCF DD takes full force of two salvos. Point Defense used but unable to defeat all missiles. TCF DD DESTROYED.
Fleets continue to close. TCF CL focuses fire on VIF CL2 which is severely damaged. Due to acceleration to higher speeds VIF DDs are unable to maximum firepower to bear; launch SUBMUNITION PACKS from less-than-optimal ranges resulting in minor damage to TCF CL. TCF CL and VIF CL2 engage in close range battle with VIF CL2 DESTROYED. VIF CL1 engages TCF CL and scores major damage. TCF CL DESTROYED. TCF SCs attempt to escape but VIF SCs pursue (VIF DDs out of position to pursue). In last exchange of fire, all four SCs mutually destroy each other (2x VIF, 2x TCF SCs DESTROYED).
LOSSES: TCF CL, DD, 2xSC (equals historical); VIF CL, 2x SC (same historical number of ships but different classes).
Comment: Battle was fought using Full Thrust Fleet Book 1rules. Somewhere along the line I picked up a set of images for the ships in Imperium (sorry, don’t know where I got them!). The TCF CL has 3x Class-2 Beams, 2x Class-1 Beams, and a single Submunition Pack. The TCF DD has a Class-2 beam, 2x Class-1 beam, and a single submunition pack. The VIF CLs have a two-salvo, Salvo Missile Launcher and 2x Class-1 beams. The VIF DD have 2x Class-1 beams, 2x submunition packs, and the only armor of any ship. The TCF scouts have 2x Class-1 beams versus the VIF scouts with a Class-1 beam and submunition pack. In Full Thrust terms, the Vilani Fleet totaled 188 TMF and 650 NPV against a Terran Fleet of 88 TMF and 308 NPV.
The range closed too quickly for the Vilani to get both salvos off from the CLs. This hurt the Vilani since their CLs are not optimized for close-in fighting. The TCF CL was able to dish out more damage thanks to Class-2 beams and its lone submunition pack. Unfortunately, it could not deal damage out fast enough against two opponents and was destroyed, but only after taking one VIF CL out first. The four VIF DD with their submunition packs succeeded where the VIF CL up close could not. The TCF scouts made a slashing attack that added damage to the second VIF CL but little else.
In preparation for my Second Interstellar War using GDW’s Imperium, I was doing my customary rules review when I noticed a few rule nuances concerning Maintenance, Planetary Defensive Fire, and Surface Combat that I missed in my first go-around last year. The rules are important enough that I decided not to go to the Second Interstellar War but restart from the beginning.
This time I really paid attention to the Economic Rules, given my somewhat recent attention to the IMTU Arden background I am developing. Specifically, I was trying to see what lessons/inspiration I could draw from the RU (Resource Unit) approach to economics that is used here in Imperium as latter in T5. The budget system in Imperium with RUs is different than Traveller Adventure 5: Trillion Credit Squadronand Power Projection: Fleetwhich uses Credits as their currency.
I discovered I played Maintenance totally wrong. Maintenance represents “expenditures…necessary on a recurring basis to ensure that ships remain functional and in fighting trim” (Rule Book, 12). Basically, Maintenance is paid by turn (each turn representing two years) in one of two ways:
Civilized Maintenance is paid if a ship is in a primary system with a friendly world marker; the player expends RUs equal to the maintenance number for the ship
Frontier Maintenance applies in all other situations; the player rolls 1d6 and must be equal to or higher than the maintenance number to be successful – unless there is no friendly outpost present in which case a +1 modifier is added to the die roll; missing the maintenance roll results in a disrupted ship.
Players really want to avoid disrupted ships. A disrupted ship must roll its maintenance number or higher to move and it subtracts one from any attack die rolls or when defending against planetary defenses. To become undisrupted, at a friendly world the players pays RUs equal to the maintenance number plus 1 or in all other conditions the player must roll higher than the maintenance number.
Maintenance has a tremendous impact on fleet budgets and deployments. If a player keeps all his ships in a primary system world, he pays directly from his budget for maintenance. Far better to keep your ships at outposts and pay nothing, right? The catch here is that ships using Frontier Maintenance have a better chance of breaking down .
Take for instance the lowly Scout. With a maintenance number of 1, it is always ready if at a friendly outpost and even if in unfriendly space it only has a 1 in 6 chance of disruption. A Heavy Cruiser (CR) with a maintenance number of 4 has a 50% chance (3 in 6) of being ready if at a friendly outpost, but only a 1 in 3 chance if in unfriendly space. The worst is the Dreadnought (Imperial B1/Terran B) with a maintenance number of 6! If at a friendly outpost there is only a 1 in 6 chance to avoid disruption, and if in unfriendly space there is no way at all to avoid being disrupted. Remember that to undisrupt a Dreadnought it will take 7 RU at a friendly world; there is no way to undisrupt it elsewhere since you have to roll higher than the maintenance number of 6 – impossible on 1d6. If you really need this ship, better to station it at a Primary System World, but that means paying 6 RU per turn (Civilized Maintenance) to have it standing by.
So the player has to chose between having ships at the ready, but paying directly from the budget, or paying less maintenance but risking disrupted ships. The practical impact is that larger ships will tend to be based at at primary worlds to be “at the ready” whereas smaller ships will depend on Frontier Maintenance at friendly outposts.
Planetary Defensive Fire
I totally missed the difference between Jump Troops and Regular Troops when it comes to Planetary Defensive Fire (Rule Book, 8). Since a Jump Troop can be inserted from space, the Jump Troop is subject to planetary defensive fire but the transport is not! The obvious impact is that the useful Transport can be protected.
Two aspects of Surface Combat (Rule Book, 8-9) also caught my eye. First, I totally missed that starships can participate in Surface Combat! This is because when terminating space combat (Rule Book, 7) there are some ships that could be left behind:
“Ships which cannot perform hyperspace jumps (monitors, fighters, reaction forces which have already jumped three times, and disrupted starships unable to make the required die roll) are left behind to carry on the battle alone.”
The attacker then gets to conduct Planetary Bombardment using World, Outpost, and Planetary Defense markers for Planetary Defensive Fire. This is followed by Surface Combat.
I guess I got caught up in thinking of Surface Combat as just that; troops versus troops. But in reality it goes beyond that simple view. As stated in the rules, “If the defender has fewer troops than the attacker, the defender must now move forward non-troop counters (planetary defense markers, ship counters, and lastly world or outpost markers), each to be matched by an attacking troop counter.” There is an implied priority here; first used to defend are planetary defense markers or ships (monitors, fighters, and disrupted ships) and secondly outpost or world markers. The rules even specify that planetary defenses defend at a factor of 2 but all others (including starships) defend with a factor of 1.
The second nuance I missed is Defensive Fire (Rule Book, 9). Given that Jump Troops are “lightly equipped,” they are at a disadvantage against Regular Troops which include heavy artillery (Rule Book, 11). Regular Troops get a defensive firing that could destroy the Jump Troop before it even gets a chance to fight! Really makes for an interesting budget and strategy decision; pay 3 RU for Regular Troops (1-4 combat factors and Transport risked) or 2 RU for Jump Troops (4-6 combat factors but less risk to transport yet vulnerable to defensive fire).
Every time I play Imperium I get a greater appreciation of the depth of economics as well as strategy and tactics that are in this seemingly simple game. Simple it that the rules are really uncomplicated (I just have to read them better) but represent a very complex set of interactions making for a fun and thoughtful gaming experience.
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Forces of the Terran Navy have moved in force to occupy Agidda and Procyon. Confederation Navy spokesmen talk about preemptive moves to forestall Imperial aggression.
Refugees from Procyon tell of a terrible campaign and defeat. Imperial forces invaded the Procyon system and defeated a Terran Confederation task force. Losses are said to include a light cruiser, destroyer, several scouts and transports. The Procyon outpost and 5th Rifles Division were also defeated. Inside the Navy, anonymous sources are calling the strategic situation “grave.”