Mission of Merci

A UN escort/rescue fleet finds itself under the guns of an NSL task force.

Background:
The Vittorio Veneto and some of her escorts were jumped on by a large NSL force - one that almost overwhelmed them almost to a ship. The NSL's plan was to eliminate the Vittorio Veneto, thus creating a serious hole in the FSE's l'Astromarine. After a short and vicious battle, in which the FSE somehow managed to disable, kill, or drive off the NSL force, the heavily damaged Veneto managed to escape (sacrificing 2 of her fighter squadrons to do so!) and found herself in UN-controlled space. A distress signal was sent out, as the Veneto knew it would only be a matter of time before the NSL caught up with her. And with her FTL drives down, escape alone was going to be nigh impossible.

The UN picked up on the Mayday broadcast from the Veneto and sent out an escort/rescue task force. Due to the potential for the situation to escalate militarily should the NSL appear, this escort/rescue force was to be Strike Carrier Task Force 7.

# of players: 2-6

Forces - UN/FSE:

Forces - NSL: Set Up:
Use a 4'x6' (standard) table area. The field floats (this is real space; deal, man!).

The UN/FSE sets up on one side of the table; the NSL on the opposite side of the table (lengthwise). Facing at the option of the players. Speeds of the ships may be up to 3x the current thrust rating of a given ship.

Victory Conditions:
Well, this is pretty straight-forward: for the UN, keep the Vittorio Veneto alive! Since her FTL drives are not coming back online anytime soon, you have to destroy or drive off the NSL. Do that, and win. Lose the Veneto and it's an NSL victory. Plain and simple. However, if there remain any UN ships and the Veneto is destroyed, the NSL will suffer as a nation when political pressures are brought to bear. To find out what the outcome of this might be, roll 1d6. On a 1-3 the NSL squadron survivors convince everyone that they honestly believed that it was an FSE escort squadron in disguise that they were fighting, and the NSL win. The UN navy decides to accept this as just another 'incident'. On a 4-6 no one believes this story, the captains of the NSL ships are relieved of command and handed over to the UN as a pacification effort to minimize the ecomonic sanctions that the UN and other governments will levy on the NSL. In this instance the scenario is a draw.

Special:
The 'BC+' entries for the NSL refer to the Richthofen-class battlecruiser, not the Maximillian-class battlecruiser.

The FSE superdreadnought Vittorio Veneto has suffered grievous damage from an earlier surprise NSL attack. To reflect this earlier engagement mark off the first two damage tracks as destroyed, and then 2d6 damage tracks of the third row. Mark 7 of the 9 salvo missile packs as used. There are no available fighters (they were either shot down in the earlier engagement, or are still too shot up to re-enter combat again). Apply threshold check rolls to the whole ship as if it had reached the 3rd threshold check point in order to reflect post-battle failings of internal systems the Core Systems, if used, should not be checked here). After this assign any/all remaining damage control parties to repair internal systems for 5 turns, no more. What you have left is the state the ship is in for this scenario. Further repair rolls can be made against previously destroyed systems, but not until after Turn 1. The FTL drive is down (shorted out right after jumping into this system) and cannot be repaired during the course of the scenario. Because of all this, the Vittorio Veneto is exempt from the special disengagement rules below.

The Core Systems are optional, but not mandatory.

The UN ships may not fire first. But they may manuever in anticipation of an attack on the Vittorio Veneto by the NSL. Once the NSL fire, the restrictions for the UN firing are lifted. However, this means the NSL have initiative until after the turn they fire (then initiative is determined normally), and because of this may fire two ships for their opening salvo before the UN/FSE can respond. UN fighters may not engage until the turn after the first exchange of weapons fire.

The Vittorio Veneto may not fire first (in order to try and keep appearances with the UN of being the underdog here) unless the NSL get within 18 mu of her - then she can open up with whatever weapons she has available.

As this is a mission of mercy, the UN are forbidden from FTL escapes unless the Vittorio Veneto has been destroyed and the UN are losing the fight, or unless the UN ship in question has reached the 3rd threshold check (see below).

The UN may spend upwards of 80 points in fighters, but with the exception of Standard (Multi-role) and Interceptor squadrons, may not have more than one of any type 'bought' (historical purchase: the UN had 1 heavy squadron, 1 attack squadron, and 1 multi-role squadron [Fighting Talons, Blue Thunder, Banshees, respectively] on the Shiva)

Special Disengagement Rules: for the most part ships are not here to fight to the bitter end (well, except for the Vittorio Veneto, who really has no choice in the matter). Once a ship has reached or passed the 3rd threshold check level (ie, all damage boxes on the third damage row are marked destroyed, and possibly more on the fourth row as well), the ship must attempt to disengage or surrender (and become a non-combatant for the remainder of the scenario). Roll 1d6. On a 1-3 the captain of the ship decides to stay and fight it out. On a 4 or 5 the captain of the ship elects to disengage and must attempt to leave the field of battle. The ship may ONLY fire if fired upon (special: if the disengaging ship is fired upon, it may immediately - before damage is applied to it, and out of firing sequence with the rest of the ships! - fire its weapons at any enemy ship within range; damage is applied simultaneously). On a roll of a 6 the ship strikes its flag and becomes a non-combatant for the remainder of the scenario. It may drift out of the area of battle, but otherwise may not maneuver or take part in combat, even if fired upon. Victor of the scenario may claim this ship as prize or prisoner. These rules do not apply to fighters.

This scenario features unpublished UN ships. The details of these ships are listed below. Unfortunately for the UN, most of the ships in here are older designs; many of the newer hulls had not yet come through to fully replace the soon-to-be-outdated models.

CVS - The Kali-class strike carrier is the UN's fast-response combat carrier/cruiser. It is designed to go toe-to-toe with cruisers and still spit out a decent fighter compliment to quel the opposition. Typically the Kalis have one fighter squadron outfitted as heavy fast or heavy long-range interceptors, with the other two being either heavy fast or heavy long-range standard or attack fighter squadrons, depending on the mission.
SSD Info:
Mass 110, Ave Hull (9/8/8/8), Thrust-4, FTL, 2xFireCon, 2xPDS, 3xHangar Bay, 1xClass-3 (F), 1xPulse Torp, 2xClass-2 (AP/FP/F, F/FS/AS), 1xClass-1, 4xArmour, Lvl-1 Screens - KALI Class

Service Details

First entered service: 2176
Currently in UN service: 11
Lost in action: 2
Decommisioned/scrapped: 0
Relegated to reserve fleet: 0
Sold to other forces: 0
Under construction: 3
Procurement cost: 3720 MUcr
CH - An older ship, the Emmons-Winthrop class cruisers are one of the standard workhorse cruisers of the UN fleet, and can be found almost everywhere under UN jurisdiction. These are standard anti-ship ships, and while not supremely fast, have sufficient defences to go head-to-head with almost anyone of comparable size/mass. They are scheduled for upgrading/refitting with some of the new technological advances within the year.
SSD Info
Mass 84, Average Hull (7/6/6/6), Thrust-4, FTL, 2xFireCon, 4xArmour, 2xClass-3 (FP/F, FS/F), 2xClass-2 (AP/FP/F, AS/FS/F), 1xClass-1, 3xPDS, Lvl-1 Screens, 1xPulse Torp - EMMONS-WINTHROP Class

Service Details

First entered service: 2160
Currently in UN service: 58
Lost in action: 11
Decommisioned/scrapped: 3
Relegated to reserve fleet: 2
Sold to other forces: 7
Under construction: 9
Procurement cost: 2840 MUcr
DDH -The UN liked the idea of a mass-attack destroyer so purchased two dozen of the Tuffley DDHs from the NAC for use in their fleet. A half dozen of these were 'upgraded' with the new hull tech advancements for better survivability.
SSD Info:
Mass 40, Ave Hull (3/3/3/3), Thrust-6, FTL, FireCon, 4xClass-2 (FP/F/FS), 1xPDS - TUFFLEY Class

Service Details

First entered service: 2179
Currently in UN service: 16
Lost in action: 2
Decommisioned/scrapped: 0
Relegated to reserve fleet: 0
Sold to other forces: 0
Under construction: 0
Procurement cost: 1310 MUcr
FF - The Cape class is the UN's heavy cutter, and has been around for a number of years. Like the Point class cutters, these are usually used for Core and Inner World patrols, but it is not uncommon to encounter one or two performing 'port of call' duties in the Outer Colonies. It is more massive than most of the Major Power frigates, though the NAC Tacoma does rival it.
SSD Info:
Mass 24, FTL, Thrust-6, Average Hull (2/2/2/1), FireCon, 2xClass-1, 1xClass-2 (FP/F/FS), PDS, 2xArmour - CAPE Class

Service Details

First entered service: 2157
Currently in UN service: 24
Lost in action: 7
Decommisioned/scrapped: 2
Relegated to reserve fleet: 3
Sold to other forces: 2
Under construction: 5
Procurement cost: 790 MUcr
CT - The Point class cutter is an older UN vessel that is still in service today. It is a slightly heavier corvette than what the other Powers generally field. It is usually used for in-system patrols of the Core/Inner Worlds, in anti-piracy or customs patrol roles, though they have seen some action near the borders of the Major Powers, resulting in the large number of losses when they've found themselves attempting to halt confrontations of units many times more massive than themselves. While old, this is still a proven class and the UN continues to produce more units.
SSD Info:
Mass 16, Ave Hull (2/1/1/1), FTL, Thrust-6, FireCon, PDS, 1xClass-2 (FP/F/FS) - CAPE class

Service Details

First entered service: 2150
Currently in UN service: 53
Lost in action: 21
Decommisioned/scrapped: 9
Relegated to reserve fleet: 5
Sold to other forces: 6
Under construction: 9
Procurement cost: 530 MUcr

Tactical Notes
NSL: You have a tough job. Before you is your target: the Vittorio Veneto, heavily damaged. Only you don't know how much she's gotten repaired since she left the battle earlier. Hope not much...    In the meantime, she is surrounded by an aging yet formidable UN task force. And you can bet your bottom mark that if you destroy the Veneto and allow the UN forces to escape they will inform their command, and the political repercussions on the NSL will be....well, harsh. You've got a lot of targets to chose from. Good luck.

UN/FSE: You sure don't have a very simple job! Keeping the Vittorio Veneto alive is your primary responsibility, but ya know, it's been a long time since you've been in combat, and here come a squadron of ships, basically throwing themselves at you. Now, can you keep their attention on you without losing the Veneto?

Historical Outcome
The NSL weren't going to go pussy-footing around with the UN. They wanted the Vittorio Veneto and they wanted her bad. They pressed in the attack as soon as they were within weapons range, targetting the Veneto. The initial NSL volley knocked more holes in the Veneto, but did not cause that much more damage than before. The UN, having warned the NSL off several times now, opened up on the Madgeburg, striking hard in an effort to draw her off from the Veneto. Though streaming atmosphere and having lost all of her armour, the NSL heavy cruiser did not swerve from her target and sent beam after beam into the Veneto. Fortunately, the Veneto's screens held, absorbing everything that hit. The UN's heavy destroyers mobbed the Kronprinz Roder, moderately damaging her. She and Prince Eugene concentrated their fire on the closing heavy destroyers, notably the Acheson, who was only lightly damaged. Weapons fire from the Veneto hit the Madgeburg, also, causing her moderate damage, and her firecontrol systems to drop.

The UN fighters moved to attack, heedless of the array of area-defense ships the NSL were fielding. Coordinating with the fighters, the Veneto had sent out her last two salvo missile packs in the path of the Loerzer. The Schwarzberg managed to assist in the Loerzer's defense, but a few missiles did get through, stripping the Loerzer of armour and causing significant structural damage. The fighters laid waste on the Loerzer, causing massive damage, but she still retained her primary armaments. The Loerzer and Voss pressed their attacks on the Veneto. Then the UN heavy cruisers finished off the Loerzer.

Meanwhile, the UN ligher units engaged the NSL light units. The UN heavy destroyers worked the Prince Eugene and Kronprinz Roder over. The end result left the Roder gutted and the Eugene crippled and combat ineffective. The Acheson was moderately damaged but still in fighting form.

The Madgeburg and the Schwarzberg laid heavily into the Veneto, crippling her and forcing a number of systems which had been repaired earlier to go down. The Stedten and Ehrenbritenstein both suffered heavy damage at the hands of the UN light units; in return, the Point Chico was destroyed, and the Cape Hedge lightly damaged.

The UN fighters moved to tangle with the Schwarzberg while the UN heavy cruisers and attack carrier turned their attentions on the Voss (doing almost no damage). The Veneto added what firepower she could against the Voss, and struck well, heavily damaging the NSL ship. In return the Veneto took almost no damage. The UN heavy destroyers attacked the exposed flank of the Madgeburg, destroying her.

The Schwarzberg survived well against the fighter attack, and even managed to claw the entire attack fighter squadron down. She opened fire on the Acheson, and ended up destroying the second UN ship of the day. In the light units department, the Hedge blew up with a spectacular display as two NSL frigates drilled her with repeated beam fire. The Cape George finished off the Stedten, while the Point Wells fell under the guns of the two remaining NSL destroyers.

The UN fighters pressed their attacks on the Schwarzberg, and lost half of the heavy fighters to anti-fighter fire. This time, however, the fighters did a better job against their target than last time. However, the Schwarzberg managed to retain 80% of her offensive capabilities, despite the best efforts of the UN fighter squadrons, and let the Dinwoody know she was still combat worthy.

The two remaining NSL destroyers managed to slip behing the Veneto and hammered away at her from point-blank range. This all but destroyed the FSE superdreadnought. The Cape George remained engaged with the two NSL frigates, giving as good as she got in return - except there were two of them. This resulted in the George being completely crippled. She struck her colors, became a non-combatant.

The remaining UN heavy destroyers, not having any targets, jumped the two NSL destroyers, heavily damaging both of them.

At this point the NSL realized that to continue the fight was futile. They were forced to concede that to destroy the Veneto at this point would cost them their entire squadron (not that it wasn't already ravaged). 42% of their force was destroyed, 25% heavily damaged, 17% crippled, with one ship (a frigate) moderately damaged and one ship (another frigate) untouched. The NSL decided it was the better part of valor to get out while they could and chalk this up to a misunderstanding ("Herr general, ve had every reason to believe that those vere FSE ships in disguise!").

As it was, while the Veneto survived, she did so just barely. It was even money whether or not the ship yard would repair or scrap her. Odds among the UN naval personnel were leaning towards scrapping.