# of players: 4-8
Forces - NAC:
The Saratoga may choose between Interceptors, Multi-Role, and Torpedo fighters, but have no more than 2 of any type. The Azov may choose between the same three types for its sole fighter group.
The Atlantis may retain 3 standard loads of SMs, or exchange them for 2 extended range SMs.
For the 'historical game', the following fighter modes are used:
The NAC are not looking for a stand-up, knockdown, drag out fight; their resources are limited. If they lose either the Atlantis or Saratoga they must effect an immediate withdraw from the field (remember, this is a probe of the ESU defenses; you're not to go getting your ships-of-the-line shot up/destroyed over this!)
Whichever side suffers 50% total Mass in casualties must withdraw. If both sides suffer 50%+ total Mass in casualties at the same time, the side with the least amount of Mass of ships must withdraw (really, neither side has the resources to suffer too many ships lost; it is better to withdraw with intelligence on the enemy at this point and return with reinforcements rather than press the issue and retain the system with a weakened force).
If one side suffers more than 75% total Mass in ships lost, they may be required to surrender (if they are unable to escape the map under standard Thrust power the immediately following turn). Each ship is rolled for. On a 1-3 they surrender but scuttle the ship (escape the ship in lifepods, but are picked up as POWs for later political exchanging). On a 4-5 the ship is captured relatively intact by the winning side. On a 6 the ship attempts to escape, anyway, and the winning side may opt to re-issue the surrender order the following turn, or blow it out of the sky. Should the winning side opt to issue a surrender notice to the losing side, the winning side may not fire that turn! Otherwise the losing side can ignore the surrender request.
These Special Optional Core Systems will be used, but not the Optional Core Systems from the FleetBook.
The side which destroys or forces the other side to depart from the field of battle wins.
As the two sides dove in towards each other, long-range ESU fire all but destroyed the J.Han, ripping her from bow to stern, tearing apart her main engines, FTL drive, all of her weapons systems (one PDS remained functional), and shutting down all targetting systems. For the remainder of the engagement she drifted/flew off and away from the field of battle, powerless to do anything about it (and contemptuously ignored by the ESU for the remainder of the battle). The NAC's response was...less than stellar, barely scratching the paint off of Rauma.
The fleets drew closer together, and the first fighter conflict began as the Yellowjackets pounced on the Silver Spades, who had made an attempt at the NAC escort cruiser Starfish. The Silver Spades attempted to give a good accounting of themselves, but were smacked around hard by the Yellowjackets. The other NAC fighters ganged up on the Makarov, inflicting a fair amount of damage (enough to damage the two SMRs she carried). Make no mistake, however; the Makarov was still a combat capable vessel, and made itself felt against the S.Murray, moderately damaging her.
The NAC ships concentrated on the Azov as best they could, with secondary weapons fire hitting the Jinan. The Jinan was heavily damaged, and began to make her way to escape, but the Azov remained only lightly damaged. The Azov replied by force-feeding the Saratoga an impressive amount of beam-fire - only too bad for the Azov that the Saratoga's screens absorbed 90% of the hits. The rest either bounced off of armor or missed altogether.
In the meantime, the Atlantis and Rauma had squared off, each flanked by a light cruiser (Erie and Bangladesh) and went head-to-head. The Atlantis took the worse of that exchange, as her heavy weapons were tied up in her as yet unfired salvo missiles. The damage she sustained, though, was just great enough that she would never get a chance to fire those missiles. The Rauma suffered only light damage, but the Bangladesh took some heavy hits from the Erie, and lost all her firecontrols.
The ships raged around the sky, wheeling past each other and attempted to desperately slow down and turn around. Again the Jinan came to the attention of the S.Murray, and ended up being destroyed. The Juhai avenged the Jinan by eliminating the S.Murray, but then fell herself under the guns of the Seattle.
The NAC fighters were having a field day with ESU ships, as the Patriots, Shadowhawks, and Knightriders converged on the Bangladesh, sending her to starship heaven. The remaining Silver Spades dealt harshly with the Yellowjackets before they were wiped out; the remaining Yellowjackets would limp back to the Saratoga, unable to participate for the remainder of this engagement.
Slowly the fleets got turned around, but also got spread out due to differences in drive outputs. The NAC had the better, so got a slight upperhand in the battle - but only slight. Their weapons fire was pitiful, as they only managed to moderately damage the Rauma and Sri Lanka. In return the Starfish took light damage from the Helsinki, who had been going slower than the rest of the fleet and could get turned around quicker.
The Helsinki fired again, this time on the Atlantis, heavily damaging her. The remaining guns on the Atlantis reached out to touch the Helsinki - lightly. The Raumua managed to barely gut the Atlantis at the same time.
While things looked bad for the NAC at this moment, the NAC fighters peeled off and swarmed the Makarov again. This time they finished the job. The Azov was moderately damaged by the combined might of the Seattle and Starfish (whose pulse torp was telling this time around, blowing out half the engine room of the Azov. The Azov answered with hard-hitting fire on the Starfish, removing that thrice-damned pulse torm from action.
The NAC looked around and took an assessment of their assets. They had lost the Atlantis, as well as a couple other ships. Half of the rest here hurt pretty badly. If it were a fight to the end, the NAC possibly, with the help of the fighters, won the field, but it wasn't. This was a probe, and it cost the NAC a great deal. They effected an immediate withdraw. ESU ships fired on the fleeing NAC vessels, moderately damaging the Seattle but scoring no other significant hits. The fighters were able to return to the Saratoga before the elements of the ESU squadron could catch up, and the NAC beat feet. The ESU 'won', forced the NAC to retreat, but the cost was rather high. Only the Helsinki was still really a battle-worthy vessel; the rest would need a couple weeks each in spacedock for repairs (primarily structural).