After-Action Report: Squadron Strike Playtest
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2020 issue.
Editor’s Note: Ken runs these sessions for playtesting and teaching the game on Thursdays at 17:00 UTC; see https://vtt.mikezekim.com/learn for more information.
Thursday, 23 April, 1:00 PM EDT
Traveller with the Brits! We had a rematch with revised versions of the Ghalak and Beijing, this time with a Ghalak and a Sloan versus two Beijings, with the Imperials interposing themselves against Solomani Scum™ set on hitting commercial shipping!
Our now regular Thursday evening (6pm GMT) game saw another Imperial versus Solomani matchup…
The Imperials had been hunting down Solomani convoy raiders. They received a tip-off of where they may strike next – the Imperials got lucky and engaged the Solomani.
I was flying the Imperials this week and had a Ghalak CA and a PF Sloan; I was tasked with stopping two Solomani Beijing Strike Cruisers, flown by my nemesis, Paul. This was the second time we had flown these ships and we both knew their capabilities.
The Ghalak CA is a solid SI-17 ship with a good variety of weapons including a huge array of banked laser – more on them later… The PF Sloan which most of you will know if you have played through the Traveller tutorials.
The Beijing CS is an interesting ship to pilot. It has a spinal meson with a single window firing arc and two turn cool-down. The meson is supported by a large missile battery and a few turret lasers. It has three points of nose armour which can stop all Ghalak’s 24 banked lasers at all but very close range.
A cautious approach from both sides was taken, both of us realising that range was the key to our success. The Imperials had slightly better thrust, which was enough to ensure the first pass was at around 10 hexes. The Solomani targeted the smaller PF Sloan and severely damaged it. The Imperials concentrated on one of the Beijings and with the mighty firepower of the Ghalak took it down, in no small part from the shredding of all its sand by multiple banked lasers. Both sides launched significant missile salvos. The Ghalak had to help out the Sloan by intercepting as many missiles as it could that were targeting the smaller ship, however it was not enough and the PF Sloan was crippled with few systems still functioning. The Sloan tried to open the distance from the remaining Beijing, and with only a single functioning laser had to pivot to throw sand out from its last remaining caster. It wasn’t enough and the PF Sloan went down under a hail of missiles. In retrospect I should have kept it closer to the Ghalak so it could have been covered by its banked lasers.
The ships separated but not before the Beijing’s meson tore through the Ghalak, taking out its main Spinal Particle beam and meson screen – with only one hull substitution available I kept the meson screen hoping I would be able to repair the particle weapon – which I later did. Paul tried to tempt me into a chase, which I wasn’t tempted by at all considering his 25-range meson weapon! Eventually we began a second pass but again with the Ghalak’s greater thrust the Beijing could not keep the range open enough to give it an advantage. The Ghalak survived the Beijing’s spinal attack without taking too much damage and then as the range closed to two hexes the might of the Ghalak was shown as it destroyed the last remaining Beijing.
Both Paul and I have now had a chance to fly both the Ghalak CA and the Beijing. The Imperial CA is everything you would expect it to be; big, tough, weapons everywhere. It does take quite a few APs to fight effectively and Paul was unlucky that his mesons did not take out any of its bridge. I was on the receiving end of the Ghalak’s power last week and its ability to shred sand with its banked lasers makes it a most formidable foe.
I flew a Beijing last week and realised how important its 3-nose armour was – it is enough to deflect most laser shots from anything over range 6. However, Paul was unlucky with his first ship I hit as there were many hits on his SSD 10 section that stripped away most of the nose shielding. With the armour gone a Beijing finds it very difficult to fight effectively.