This last weekend I played my second game of Firestorm: Armada, facing off against a new opponent’s Rense System Navy fleet. It was fun, and a closer game than the final battle log would suggest. Randy also generously offered me some extra Hawk Flight Widgets after the game, which I find exceptionally useful for keeping the models on their flight stands. It was almost my first chance to use my new star mat from D’stone Art, which was awesome.
The initial Dindrenzi push into Sorylian space was devastating for the Collective, as the compartmentalized, defensive spheres were unable to individually stand up to the amassed Zenian League war fleets. As the war went on, forces were consolidated among the beleaguered Alliance of Kurak signees. Even the cold-blooded Sorylians changed their defensive strategy, bringing in the reserve fleets of distant spheres to support the developing front. The counter-attack stalled the Zenian League forces across much of Collective space, providing time for further reinforcements to be brought forward. Along this not-so-stable line, many Sorylian planets – some largely untouched by the Dindrenzi or Relthozan advance in their conquering haste – were the focus of rescue attempts by Collective fleets. The site of this battle was a system including one such planet, Kerdan II; a cold world (at least by Sorylian standards) being slowly terraformed by Collective Engineers to suit Sorylian populations. The Kerdan system boasted significant mineral and metallic value, the system full of asteroids of all sizes – including a very large, semi-spherical planetoid orbiting Kerdan II but devoid of any atmosphere.
As the new front against the Zenian League ebbed and flowed, the Collective was able to tow a new Phalanx-class battlestation to the vicinity of the planet. A reserve fleet from the galactic east of the Collective was also stationed in the system to prepare for further action against the Dindrenzi aggressors and their allies. Little did the newly arrived defenders know that an elite enemy fleet was closing in on the system, but a spur of a much wider Zenian offensive occurring all across the Storm Zone…..
The combined defensive fleet consisted of a new, powerful Phalanx-class battle station, made nigh-impregnable with improved weapon bracing, advanced shielding, and expanded close-range defensive systems. The reserve fleet was of an older generation, but was in top operating condition. The Swordbreaker class battleship – carrying the flag of the highest ranking military officer in the system – was a redoubtable weapons platform, retrofitted not so long ago with expanded shielding capacity, improved drives for normal space propulsion, and substantially increased armor on the weapon decks. In support were four long-serving Skyhammer-class cruisers – true mainstays of the Collective fleets – upgraded long ago with significant energy shielding, backed up by a full-strength squadron of Scythe class frigates. The reserve fleet also brought with it a single damaged Scythe, its propulsion systems damaged during a brief encounter with raiders in transit. The plan was to use this damaged Scythe as a source of replenishment parts and ammunition for the squadron of its compatriots, but upon receiving intelligence that an enemy fleet was heading in-system, the damaged frigate was delivered new crew and supplies and pressed into service as an escort for the admiral’s battleship. Its cannon – calibrated to a short but fiercely wide arc – would be of great service defending the flagship from enemy torpedoes and boarders.
The attacking fleet proved to be a respectable armada from the fearsome Rense System Navy. In the galactic vicinity of Kerdan “policing” Relthozan assets, the RSN fleet decided to strike out at the gathering Sorylian forces by Kerdan II, hoping to catch them unawares and land a resounding blow. The RSN assets that folded into the outer reaches of Kerdan included a trio of Bulwark-class frigates and another trio of Phoenix-class destroyers. These were led by the twin giants of a Spectre class battleship and a formidable Banshee-class dreadnought, both advanced models with superior maneuvering engines and advanced shielding. It was a fleet to be respected – a fleet to be feared.
The Sorylian cruisers deployed on the far left of the battle line, while the battleship and battle station deployed in the very center. On the far right, the frigate squadron deployed behind Kerdan II, ready to flank right and swing around the planet. Opposite the Scythes, however, were the Bulwarks, poised menacingly forward. The Spectre battleship and Phoenix destroyers were set across from the Sorylian admiral’s flagship, while next to Kerdan II’s irregular moon the fearsome bi-prow hull of the RSN dreadnought was aimed directly at the Skyhammers.
The RSN’s experience and training payed off, and they were able to make the first move. The opening of the battle saw lots of positioning, as the capital ships of the RSN moved slowly forward, unleashing considerable firepower at range that was largely fought off with shielding. For their part the Sorylians moved forward as fast as they could manage, equally unable to damage their opponents at range. As the fleets closed in distance, both sides were able to inflict lasting impressions on their enemy’s hulls. Ranged fire from the Broadsword and the Phalanx took their toll on the destroyers and eventually the enemy battleship, which suffered massive damage from a close range broadside from the Sorylian flagship (17 hits!).
As the destroyers took irreparable damage and were reduced to a single functioning vessel, the Sorylian cruiser squadron and Banshee dreadnought went head to head in the far west. This shootout saw no cruisers destroyed, but all damaged, and the massive dreadnought merely scratched. A somewhat-successful boarding action against the Banshee did manage to reduce its fore guns, however. The cruisers passed the dreadnought as they both turned around the planetoid, albeit in opposite directions.
In the far east the frigate squadrons approached each other at full speed, the Scythes slightly damaging the enemy before pulling up to present a full broadside. Upon completing this maneuver they failed to knock out a single Bulwark. In return the enemy frigates destroyed the entire Scythe squadron in an impressive display of firepower. After the multiple rounds of targeted main gun volleys that took the Scythes out of action, the Bulwarks turned to assist the Spectre battleship.
As the battle raged, the center became a swirling melee. The Sorylian Swordbreaker lined up a well-executed double broadside on the two largest enemy vessels, shattering the opposing battleship while damaging the dreadnought. The battle station delivered long-range support as the Skyhammers came about on one side and the RSN frigates closed in from the other. A boarding assault from the Sorylian flagship failed to capture the remaining RSN destroyer, while the burning RSN fleet managed to heavily damage the Swordbreaker. Its point defense network long knocked out, the Collective admiral relied heavily on the supporting defensive fire of its attached makeshift escort. This brave ship however was soon obliterated by the dying RSN battleship before it, too, fell to scatter cannon and torpedo.
As the Skyhammers closed the distance and the Spectre burned and limped away, the final blows were struck. The combined Sorylian fire destroyed the last destroyer before causing the dreadnought to go critical, its mighty hull perforated in hundreds of places. The RSN admiral lost, the final Bulwark was struck down by the man-handled cruiser squadron.
The Sorylians had carried the day, but at great cost – losing, in effect, six frigates and receiving heavy, perhaps irreparable, damage across the rest of the fleet. Only the Phalanx station remained unscathed, as it continued on its orbit around Kerdan II.
Final Battlelog: +18 Sorylians to -8 RSN (or +15 / -7 at time of victory)
Thanks very much to Randy for the great game, and to Brian for taking pictures (and the ride)!