High Guard

Tactics-0 Fifth Anniversary Meeting

13 November 2004

Day Game Attendance: Glenn, Tom Granvold, Kris
Evening Attendance: The day gamers plus: Lisa; T.C.; Mark and Scott
Menu: Corn dogs and Mark's french fries

Game Summary (by Glenn Goffin):

High Guard After Action Report

On 13 November 2004, Tactics-0 marked five years of monthly Traveller-related wargaming.  We chose High Guard, a classic game that we had not yet played as a group.  We also wanted to compare High Guard with Power Projection: Fleet, which we had played last month.  PP:F has seemed to us to be poorly organized and unnecessarily complex compared to High Guard, and we wanted to see whether High Guard was actually any easier to play. 

The scenario rules were that we had BCr250 to buy any ships or small craft listed in the following sources:

Supplement 5: Lightning Class Cruisers
Supplement 7: Traders & Gunboats
Supplement 9: Fighting Ships
Adventure 5: Trillion Credit Squadron
Traveller Full Thrust yahoo group file re Zhodani ships

Given enough players, we would play round robin, retaining damage from each battle, subject to the repair rules.  As we only had three players, however, we just used undamaged squadrons each time.

The players were Kristian Miller, Tom Granvold, and Glenn Goffin.

First battle:

Kris and Tom; two Imperial squadrons.

Kris had the following ships:

1 x BB Plankwell 200,000dtons factor T spinal meson gun
1 x FC Antiama 100,000dtons no spinal weapons 300 fighters
1 x CA Ghalalk 50,000dtons factor H spinal particle accelerator
7 x DD Midu Agashaam 3,000dtons no spinal weapons
1 x DE Chrysanthemum 1,000dtons no spinal weapons
1 x DE Fer-de-Lance 1,000dtons no spinal weapons

Total cost:  BCr249.467062

Tom had the following ships:

1 x BB Kokirrak 200,000dtons factor T spinal meson gun
1 x SL Wind 75,000dtons factor J spinal meson gun
1 x CR Atlantic 75,000dtons factor N spinal meson gun
7 x DD Midu Agashaam 3,000dtons no spinal weapons

Total cost:  BCr253.43234

During the Battle Formation Step, we found an ambiguity in the rules: Can a ship start the game in the reserve, but with its carried vessels in the line?  We decided that it could be deemed to have launched fighters from its launch tubes into the line, but could remain in the reserve.  No one had battle riders, but that's the real question:  Can a battle rider squadron start a battle with its carrier in the reserve and its battleships in the line?

Battle Formation Step:  Kris put Antiama in the reserve, and all other ships and the launched fighter squadrons in the line.  Tom put all of his ships and launched fighters in the line.  Tom's Wind has a spinal meson gun, so it can function as a cruiser.

Initiative and range:  Kris; long.

Kris' Plankwell took a few minor hits from missiles from Tom's Rampart fighters.  Missiles from Tom's Midu Agashaam and lasers from the Ramparts were ineffective.

Kokirrak was hit by Plankwell's spinal meson gun, which killed all of the crew and destroyed the M-drive, as well as causing other damage. The Ghalalk's spinal particle accelerator and the Plankwell's factor 9 missiles were redundant.

Ghalalk was fired on by Kokirrak's spinal meson gun, which missed. Tom had not allocated any other fire on the Ghalalk.

Atlantic took ineffective missile and laser fire from some of Kris' Midu Agashaams.

Kris' Midu Agashaam #1 was fired on by Atlantic's spinal meson gun, which missed. 

Wind was fired on by Ghalalk's spinal particle accelerator, which missed.

Kris' Midu Agashaam #2 was fired on by Wind's meson gun which missed, and by 35 particle accelerators, which caused minor damage.

The remaining Midu Agashaams turned out as follows:  Kris lost one and took significant damage to another.  Tom's were unscathed or not fired on. 

Heavy fighters were found not to be subject to being hit by other fighters or by the Midu Agashaams' weapons.  A few fighters were killed in dogfights.

Kris disengaged, having taken out the Kokirrak with no loss of his own capital ships. 

Tactical Analysis:  Two similar squadrons a large battleship with two heavy cruisers, several destroyers, and fighters faced off.  By not firing his spinal mount weapons at the Plankwell initially, Tom faced the loss of another capital ship if there were a second round. Destroyers and fighters were irrelevant to the engagement between the capital ships. 

Game analysis:  The firing player would write down on a pad all of the batteries firing on the target ship, and pass the pad to the target player, who would then look up the various to hit and to penetrate numbers.  We had 11 pairs of d6, and the firing player would drop them into a box top and pull out the pairs that hit. There was a lot of dice rolling.  After all fires had been resolved, the pad was passed to the other player. 

I had prepared a sheet to keep track of damage and battery use that partially incorporated IN form 3, and it seemed useful.  The players could record batteries used in a turn in pencil, then erase those marks at the end of the turn.  There were places to record hits as inflicted and to adjust the component factors in the Damage Step. 

This round took about 3 hours to play out.

The rules and tables were easy to follow, even though no one had played High Guard with large ships in many years (more than 20 years in my case).  I only prepared two playing aids, the ship damage and battery use sheet that expanded IN form 3 mentioned above, and a page with a table showing the number of extra rolls per applicable table for spinal mount weapons and the formula for determining critical hits based on size.  We didn't need anything else.

Second battle: 

Tom and Glenn; Imperial versus Zhodani squadron.  As I was not participating, my notes are not as detailed as for the first battle and I don't have the pad with our fire allocations.

Tom had the same ships as before.

Glenn had the following ships:

2 x CB Vrapkenchkinj 56,000dtons factor S spinal meson gun
2 x CA Kefchenzh 52,000dtons factor S spinal particle accelerator
6 x CL Zhdavldits 14,000dtons factor G spinal meson gun

Total cost:  BCr248.723504

Turn 1:

Battle formation:  Both sides put all ships into the line; Tom launched fighters.

Initiative and range:  Glenn; short.

Vrapkenchkinj #1 was disabled by Kokirrak's spinal meson gun and missiles.

Kokirrak was disabled by spinal meson gun fire from Vrapkenchkinj #1 and #2.  Zhdavldits #5 and #6 fired spinal meson guns with no effect.  I think that no missiles were fired.

Vrapkenchkinj #2 was disabled by Atlantic's spinal meson gun, and, I think, missiles.

Atlantic sustained minor damage from Kefchenzh #2's spinal particle accelerator and missiles.  Spinal meson gun fire from Zhdavldits #3 and #4 was ineffective. 

Kefchenzh #1 was not damaged by Wind's spinal meson gun and missiles.

Wind suffered major damage from Kefchenzh #1's spinal particle accelerator, and was disabled by spinal meson gun fire from Zhdavldits #1 and #2.

Kefchenzh #2 was not damaged by fire from the Midu Agashaams.

The Midu Agashaams took no significant damage from missile and laser fire, but some took incremental damage to weapons.

Likewise, none of the Zhdavlditses took significant damage from the Midu Agashaams, but one took incremental damage to weapons and fuel.

Turn 2: 

Battle formation:  All ships and fighters in the line. 
Imperial (Tom): Atlantic; 6 x Midu Agashaam
Zhodani (Glenn): Kefchenzh x 2; Zhdavldits x 6

Initiative and range:  Glenn, short.

Kefchenzh #2 avoided damage from Atlantic's spinal meson gun, but took incremental damage to weapons and fuel from missile hits.

Atlantic was fired on by all of the Zhodani ships.  The Kefchenzhes' spinal particle accelerators did not cause significant damage, and none of the Zhdavlditses' spinal meson guns penetrated its meson screens.  Nuclear missiles were all stopped by dampers and, I think, repulsors.

Many Zhodani ships took incremental damage to weapons and fuel from the Midu Agashaams.

Turn 3: 

Battle formation:  All ships and fighters in the line.
Imperial (Tom): Atlantic; 6 x Midu Agashaam
Zhodani (Glenn): Kefchenzh x 2; Zhdavldits x 6

Initiative and range:  Glenn, short.

Kefchenzh #2 was, as I recall, disabled by Atlantic's spinal meson gun.

Atlantic was again fired on by all Zhodani ships.  The Kefchenzhes' spinal particle accelerators again failed to cause any damage.  All but one of the Zhdavlditses' spinal meson guns failed to penetrate Atlantic's meson screens.  The one that got through got 8 rolls on the interior explosions table, which disabled Atlantic.  Nuclear missiles and the radiation rolls added to the destruction. 

The game was called at that point as the hour was late.  Total playing time was about 5 hours. 

Tactical Analysis:  Ten spinal mounts faced three, and destroyed them.  The Imperial destroyers were unable to inflict significant damage on the Zhodani light cruisers, and would eventually have been destroyed by size criticals from the Zhdavlditses' spinal meson guns.

 Glenn should have used both Kefchenzhes to fire on Midu Agashaams, as the armor on Tom's capital ships made the particle accelerators useless against them.  On the other hand, even a small meson gun will eventually get through any meson screen, with the result that it will get several unmodified rolls on the interior explosions and radiation tables and that is what happened here in turn 3, when one of the little Zhdavldits-class ships got through and disabled the Atlantic.

Game analysis:  There was a lot of dice rolling again.  Maybe the dice rolling could be automated by a computer program.  Matching dice pairs to pull out the hits and misses took a lot of time.  The tables were easy to follow and look up hit, penetration, and damage.

There is a JTAS article with optional rules for crew and frozen watch and for squadron fire by fighters.  We should review the article and decide whether to use these rules or not.

Tactical conclusions:  Lots of spinal mount meson guns make a devastating fleet, as they get multiple unmodified rolls on the interior explosions table if they penetrate and no matter how large the target ship, a "fuel tanks shattered" or a like result is a kill.

Nuclear missiles and spinal particle accelerators are best against lightly armored targets.  If a nuclear missile battery penetrates the nuclear damper, it gets an unmodified roll on the radiation table, potentially disabling the target (as with a crew hit). 

Lasers, energy weapons, and non-spinal particle accelerators can get, at best, weapon-1 or weapon-2 hits.  Although these slowly degrade the other side's ability to inflict damage, it seems that they won't win battles. 

Comparison with Power Projection: Fleet:

High Guard plays somewhat slower than Power Projection: Fleet, as a lot of time is consumed by rolling large numbers of dice and pulling out hits and misses.  On the other hand, we took almost no time to look up or interpret rules, and we didn't forget or overlook additions or subtractions to dice rolls.  Automating the dice rolling would speed up High Guard considerably. 

Power Projection: Fleet has fewer dice rolls, but the layout is less helpful and marking off destroyed components and unloaded batteries on the SSDs, and counting the numbers available, does not go as smoothly as writing and erasing numbers. 

I am working on more functional tables for Power Projection: Fleet.

Fighters have more use in Power Projection: Fleet than in High Guard, because they can be used to destroy incoming missiles.  There is an optional rule for High Guard (published somewhere in JTAS) to allow squadron fire against missiles or against enemy ships.

Evening Games:

Tom and Glenn's High Guard game ran late and we were rather lazy, so we watched "Trekkies" instead.