Thursday, October 22, 2009

Babylon 5 Full Thrust: Earthforce Sourcebook

Meanwhile, in Space, in an altogether different franchise…

Back in the Golden Days of TV Space Franchises. we would gather in a friend’s basement to play war games. But first, we would watch a series that told of the Third Age of Mankind, and a place named


(Cue dramatic music)
My circle of wargame pals have been Bab 5 enthusiasts since the mid 90’s. Me, I liked the pilot, though I must admit to initially only catching the last half. Anyway, we’ve been table-top gaming B5 for a good while.

When an invitation from my friend DJ (in gaming aka Ming the Merciless, and not because he looks like Max von Sydow) arrived to teach the Full Thrust system to his friend, Jay, I decided to teach it using the B5 Earth Force Source Book modifications.

The scenario was set during the Earth Alliance Civil War (and sometime before the episode “Severed Dreams”). An EA Loyalist patrol (commanded by Jay) of two Omega Destroyers and an Olympus gunboat encounters an EA Separatist patrol (commanded by DJ) of two Hyperion cruisers and an old Nova dreadnaught (these are the B5 side, cheer for them!). Each side’s objective was to clear the enemy from this sector (which happened to be the Euphrates Sector, but more of this anon).

BTW, Jay vs. DeeJay? Isn’t that a bit confusing? Such is the tragedy of a civil war…

Turn One: Both task forces began the game at speed 4, representing a normal cruising speed. The Loyalist taskforce enters through the jump gate, accelerates to 8, and deploys fighters. The Separatists also launch fighters. Both sides are evenly matched with fighters - this does not bode well for the fighter jocks.

Turn Two: Both sides fighters flashed forward, and immediately locked themselves into a series of furballs. The Separatists turned to starboard to attempt to keep distance, while charging up the lasers on the Nova. A single flight of starfuries slipped past the otherwise-occupied loyalist fighters to strafe one of the Omegas. The Loyalists accelerated (rather unexpected by both the Seps and the ref, who thought Jay might be more cautious, considering his first game and all…impetuous youth) and by doing so caught the Nova at medium range.

The Loyalist heavy lasers flashed, and an entire damage row disappeared from the Nova. Several lasers fell off, including those charging. Oh dear.

Turn Three: The Loyalist Olympus gunboat had zipped forward last turn, wee little railguns powering up. As the two rough battle lines passed, and pulse cannons exchanged a deadly caress, the Olympus discharged two high velocity depleted uranium sabots at the Nova. One struck, dealing two points of damage, which is really a pittance, unless it leads to a threshold check, which this did. More systems went down, fell off, or were sold off by the PTEN.

Turn Four: The Separatist commander considered that without his main laser platform (the Nova) his two cruisers were no match for the Loyalist taskforce, and accelerated for the jump gate. The Loyalists let them go, having a bigger fish to fry – a 2.5 million ton fish...a place named:

BABYLON 5…(cue dramatic tag music)…

Post-Game Thoughts

It had been about four years since I’d played the Full Thrust/B5/EFSB mod. Back in the day, we had migrated over to this from Babylon 5 Wars, a fun but somewhat slow game from the now defunct Agents of Games. Even back then, we tended to avoid using the elder races, as they were just too powerful for an enjoyable game. For FT purposes, we stick to the Narn-Centauri conflict, the EA Civil War, and some White Star – EA/Shadowtech scenarios.

Due to the nature of the conflict, EA fighters tend to charge into dogfights like English Civil War cavalry rush into melee, thereby removing themselves from the rest of the battle. Ah, this war without an enemy…

Fighters in Full Thrust are too effective as written for use in B5 games, so we usually halve their effectiveness – 1 die attack per two full starfuries. Starfuries are rated as heavy, so they take a hit on a 5 or 6, with a 6 eligible for a re-roll.

The scenario plan actually came from the FT/Traveller mod, Power Projection: Fleet. The PP:F scenario engine is useful beyond measure.

Losing his main laser platform is hardly like DJ on a normal day. Post-game discussion had us agreeing that the Nova should have been kept back, behind the Hyperions. This would have allowed the cruisers to coordinate their fire with the Nova, which could easily have knocked out an Omega Destroyer. Jay’s rapid advance caught DJ off guard – apparently Jay has learned from other games not to let DJ’s battle plans develop.

Upon seeing the miniatures, Jay commented that he remembered the Babylon 5 series from when he was a kid. Saying nothing, I could not help but notice the umbilicus trailing him as he walked about the game table.

Impertinent youth…Ω

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