The cadet stepped into the Senior Instructors office with a bit of unease. Why had he been summoned here today of all days? In just a few minutes, another simulator run was scheduled to begin.
“You seem to be the wisecracker of your group,” the instructor started. “You like being the class clown?”
That's unfair, the cadet thought, all he was trying to do was relieve some of the tension in the classrooms!
“Well, let's see if the class clown can be the class leader, hmm?”
Class leader! But that means...
“Get to the simulator, or you'll be late for your battle, Cadet Captain!”
The Cadet threw a sharp salute, mumbled something under his breath, turned and raced out of the room.
A few doors down, the Cadet entered the simulator and quickly took in the tactical situation as he crossed to his bridge seat. He couldn't help overhearing several snide comments but ignored them.
He was on the bridge of a “Blue” heavy cruiser. The ship was generally fast (thrust rating of 6) and armed with a single Pulse Torpedo launcher, a single heavy Beam-3, two medium Beam-2 and two light Beam-1. The extra weapons came at the price of a more fragile hull (factor 18). TACPLOT showed his opponent was a single “Red” heavy cruiser. That ship had a lower thrust rating (4), no Pulse Torp, but carried two Beam-3, a single Beam-2, and two Beam-1. The red hull was also a bit stronger (factor 22). Opening range was 36mu.
“This is a straight up duel,” the speakers boomed. “You have only 10 centons until Red reinforcements arrive. Your mission is to disable or destroy the Red Threat before that time. Simulation begins...NOW!”
Starting velocity was only 3mu. Need more speed. “Accelerate plus 3, starboard 2 points.”
The red cruiser also was slow, and accelerated slowly but on a straight course.
“Give me more acceleration, and bring us 3 points port.”
“You missed your chance to fire,” the weapons cadet called out. The Cadet Captain swore he heard a less-than-flattering comment added on. Damn! Have to calm down and think! Already his ship was moving toward the center of the battlespace and it looked like Red was coming in too.
“Weapons! Fire at will!” The weapons cadet rolled her eyes and turned to concentrate on her board.
TACPLOT showed the range had already dropped to 8mu. Frak! How did we get that close already! The ships were in a starboard-to-starboard pass; the DC board showed two hits on his ship, maybe three on the enemy. It appeared on the plot that the ships were going to flash right past each other. “Helm! Hard about! Swing us to starboard!”
Ah, here is where my superior agility pays off! I can turn inside of the red cruiser. But wait! I'm too fast! The Cadet Captain looked helplessly at the TACPLOT as the red cruiser passed BEHIND him. Another exchange of fire, he was sitting in the Front Starboard arc of the red cruiser...not a good place. The simulator shook with the impact of weapons. Sparks flew from the weapons board.
“Sir, DC reports the starboard Beam-2 is gone! Moderate hull damage!”
The TACPLOT showed he still scored some damage to the enemy, but he was definitely coming out the worst in this fight.
“Slow us down. Hard to port,” he ordered. Looks like the red captain has a similar idea. Both ships ended up astern of each other. All his weapons were masked. Well, he could use his maneuverability here! “Hard about, again!”
Again Red turned hard, and again they ended up astern of each other. Something has to give, the Cadet Captain thought. “Helm. Hard decel. Bring us one point starboard.” Even as his orders were being carried out, he saw that Red had not turned as hard. They ended up right where he wanted them, directly ahead. “Fire! Fire,” he shouted!
The vis-screen showed his pulse torpedo flying across space and his beams lancing out. Little time to think, though, as his ship also rocked with the impact of the Red beam weapons.
“Sir, DC reports loss of starboard Beam-1 and one FIRECON. We have lost over half our hull!” The Cadet Captain glanced at the TACPLOT. It showed a 50% drop in the drive signature of the Red cruiser. “Gentle acceleration, please; and bring us hard to starboard again,” he calmly ordered.
The red cruiser must have really been hurt. It didn't even try to turn, but it couldn't accelerate much either. He ended up dead astern of the red ship at a range of 9mu. “Weapons, let them have it!”
The next thing the Cadet Captain recognized was a huge cheer. “They've surrendered!” That was his helmsman. What? Surrender? I didn't give that order? Did my crew just mutiny? Great, I'm going to go down in Academy history as the ONLY cadet EVER to have his crew mutiny on him in a simulator!
Suddenly, the lights came on and the bridge door swung open. The Senior Instructor entered. “Congratulations, Captain. You got your victory.” Seeing the confusion on the Cadet Captain's face the instructor smiled slightly and continued, “Your last beam disabled Red's remaining drive. With no engines left, he surrendered to you.”
The Cadet Captain looked around. His fellow cadets were all smiles, and through the doorway he could see the Red Cadet Captain, a real blowhard if there ever was one, stomping away in disgust when he realized who had just bested him. Hmm, he thought, maybe being an Officer of the Line was a good goal after all....
This scenario was played using the Full Thrust Lite (FTL) rule set. Scenario was a straight-up duel with a 10-turn limit.
“Blue” is the Fleet A heavy cruiser in the FTL set. “Red” is the Fleet B heavy cruiser.
Lessons Learned: For Red – Never get into a turning fight with a much more nimble opponent. For Blue – Being nimble doesn't help if you are too fast. For both – being in the forward arc of your opponent's ship at a range of less than 12mu is BAD.
Surprisingly, the Pulse Torpedo, which was fired twice, only scored 2 damage points (rolled a 1 each time fired for damage). The real hard-hitters were the beam weapons. Even the last Beam-1 fired rolled a 6 for damage, getting two hits which forced a threshold 3 check and crippled the last drive for Red.