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Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Scene That Might Appear in a Story

This is Steven Petrick posting.

When I was very active playing, sometimes events would occur that would seem to make a good climax to a story. I am sure I am hardly alone on this, and many (if not most) other players have had moments in a game where they have thought "this would be a great scene, if only I could write it."

A case in point.

A duel between a Federation cruiser (my ship, surprisingly) and a Klingon ship was coming to a close. Both ships were badly shot up (both were on emergency life support). On this particular turn the Federation ship was stopped, and its photons were unarmed (they might have been arming, but they would not be available this turn).

The Klingon ship turned and approached the Federation ship head on. One can picture the Klingon captain addressing his bridge crew of his intention to close to three hexes range where his ship's phaser-2s would not miss. Some member of the crew expressing the fact that the Federation ship's phaser-1s are effective out to five hexes range, and the captain noting that the limited number of phasers remaining to the Federation ship would force him to hold fire until three hexes range also to maximize their damage, but the then greater number of Klingon phasers and limited number of remaining Federation phasers would leave the Federation ship with almost no weapons while the Klingon ship would still have phasers to fire (on the next turn).

Surprisingly, the Federation ship fires its phaser-1s at Range 4. While this costs the D7 some of its remaining phasers with no answering damage (no "me too" firing in Star Fleet Battles), the Klingon Captain snarls that now they will be able to close to Range 0 before firing, which will almost make up for the lost phasers, and still leave the Federation ship at their mercy, it does not even have any shuttles remaining.

As the ship closes, the science officer, thrown to the deck by the phaser fire, rises and returns to his station. Something about the Federation ship is bothering him. There is an energy build up in the secondary hull.

The Klingon ship closes to Range 1. Suddenly the science officer cries out "Captain! They are arming a Pr . . .

Scene flashes to the damaged bridge of the Federation ship, where the weapons officer says (as if continuing a range countdown) "10,000." and the Captain says "Fire."

View switches to outside of the two ships as the anti-matter armed probe screams out of the probe launcher in the secondary hull and impacts on the Klingon ship, which again is unable to return fire.

The Klingon player in this case had completely forgotten that crippled ships can arm anti-matter probes as weapons (which the Federation ship started to do on the previous turn) and did not consider it when he began his approach, and could not imagine that the Federation ship would hold a weapon back when he fired at Range 4. He simply regarded the Federation fire at that range to be a mistake and changed his intention to fire at Range 3 to Range zero. He was so committed in  his own mind to the Range zero shot that of course he was not prepared for the concept that the Federation ship might have a "pretty present" for him (borrowing from "Enemy Below"). Thus as the Klingon ship approached, the Federation player asked if he would fire at Range 3, then Range 2, then Range 1, and announced his own fire at Range 1. The last chance to fire the probe, and still with a 16.667% chance of a miss, but you have to picture the captain trying to look calm in his command chair as he was pulling off this bluff that might very well have failed. The Klingon commander sees his last phaser-2s reduced to scrap by the Mizia effect (having destroyed some of his phaser-2s with the Range 4 shot, I probably would not have gotten all of them if the Anti-Matter probe had been fired at the same time, and since it was all I had, I needed to wait for that point blank shot that got the chance of a hit up to 83.333%).

I laid the trap, and the Klingon captain walked right into it. It was perfectly reasonable for him to believe I would hold my remaining phaser-1s to Range 3 and fire them at that range at the same time he fired his phaser-2s, but the odds were that if I did so, he would knock out all of my remaining phaser-1s, and I would not get all of his remaining phaser-2s. On the next turn his remaining phaser-2s (after that exchange) would destroy my ship. And I needed him to come as close as possible (preferably Range 1) to maximize the chance of the probe impacting. So fire the remaining phaser-1s at Range 4, getting him to decide to fire his remaining phaser-2s at Range Zero, and gamble on the Mizia effect to strip most (in the event, I got them all) of his remaining phaser-2s from his ship. The upshot is that on the following turn, I may not have had any photons (I did not, I did not have the power to arm them and do what I was doing), but my remaining phaser-1s were undamaged and the Klingon was dead meat.

But that would probably make a great scene at the end of a tense and well told battle story.