We only have one Scourge player locally, so when I had the opportunity to play a Scourge player from another group, I jumped at the opportunity. These are my observations.
The game was 999 point Scourge vs. PHR, I played the PHR. The scenario was Mixed Engagement with the space stations as medium space stations (their size is not specified in the scenario description). No command cards.
I am still in my period of trying cruiser-heavy lists, and this is the current 999p version. I would have like to replace the two Ikarus with two Orions but I only had one painted
- 2 x Echos
- 3 x Medea
My opponent fielded the following list:
- 2 x Yokai
- 2 x Gargoyle
- 2 x Gargoyle
- 2 x Charybdis
- 3 x Harpy
The approach type was distant which was crap for me. That meant that I got my Pathfinder in on turn 1, one line and one Vanguard in turn 2 and the last line in turn 3. My opponent got all but his Vanguard in on turn 1 and the other in turn 3.
The game can for description purposes be split into three; the left flank, the right flank and the battle for the space stations in the center.
On the left flank, he initially moved in the Charybdis with the intention to bombard, but since I did not move in any troop deploy capacity (reasoning that I would be under heavy bombardment if I did), I focused my effort on my space station and the right flank at first, leaving the Charybdis somewhat out of a job just “guarding” the cluster.
In turn 3 when my large line battle group entered the Orpheus sped to the cluster with max thrust and managed to launch there in turn 4 (in time to score for holding the cluster) – though it only held three sectors at that time and hence had diminished in value. Over the next turns the Charybdis was destroyed and the Orpheus just stayed and held the critical locatoin. This was the uneventful flank.
The right flank we both focused on. I doubletapped two Medeas there who dropped to safety in atmosphere and he also had two Gargoyles there – but the Medeas bombard was an excellent assistance in preventing him to gain a proper foothold while his Hydra was unable to provide any real assistance. Later in the game the two Echoes and the last Medea came over and at the end of the game, I had three Medeas and two Echoes around the sector and my opponent had been eradicated.
The center (battle for the space stations) was more eventful. We quickly occupied our respective space stations but due to debris fields they were somewhat limited in targets at times. I dominated early on with my Agamemnon, an Orpheus, the Echoes and one Ikarus, though the Ikarus ended up dying under bomber fire (with 10 bombers on his tail he went through a dense debris field and managed to survive long enough to retaliate twice but he was too far gone to save). The Hydras and Harpies focused their attention here but was eradicated while damaging my Agamemnon and killing the aforementioned Ikarus.
His Vanguard battlegroup came in strong and in turn 4 they managed to kill my Agamemnon before it got to shoot back. In response, my Calypso made a daring attempt to reach his space station (to score for holding the critical location), but it was lasered by the station itself. Then the long, hard struggle of the center begun. The Akuma is a horrible enemy and the Yokais can really dish out some damage, and they both got a couple of weapons free rounds which in turn lost me the other Ikarus. The price was the two fragile Yokai flailing about with major spikes in the center which made them the center of attention for my fire. After some destructive fighting, I had a damaged Orpheus and an undamaged Ajax in the center (the latter actually holding the critical location of my opponents space station) and the Akuma was damaged as well – and the only scourge vessel left on the entire board.
The game ended in a 32 – 8 points victory to me.
Bombers are a challenge to use correctly, if you spred them out too much you pay too much point defence tax, if you focus them too much (on long range). you risk losing too many to manouevers and debris fields. 10 bombers on the poor Ikarus together with a crippling roll have a good chance of destroying it, but thanks to course change and a dense debris field, it survived to retaliate.
The laser armament of the space station is dangerous, even with the errata reducing it to burnthrough 4. I think 3 ships were killed by the two space stations in total (though they were – of course – already damaged beforehand).
Pay attention to when you should refrain from launching – both troops and fighers / bombers. It gives a minor spike to launch and it might not really give you anything. I refrained from dropping troops at least twice when I reasoned that he was unable to launch at these locations anyways, so getting a minor spike for more control was not worth it.
The oculus armament of the Scourge is deadly. Being in the receiving end of an Akuma and 2 Yokais – even with a Calypso and (for the Akuma) and orbital layer difference as protection, they killed my already slightly damaged Agamemnon in one round. Scourge can dish out tremendous amounts of damage.
I think he used his Akuma slightly wrong. He went in silent running and in high orbit and only got to low orbit (where most of my fleet were) at the very end of the game due to using weapons free. In retrospect, going in with max thrust (since it only came in in turn 3) and going for low orbit at that point would have made a big difference. Most ship-to-ship combat happens in low orbit (since you can control critical locations from here), so any non-launching fighting vessel should get to this layer at the first opportune moment, expect in some very specific circumstances.
On the left flank, the tactic about point denial he played could have worked fine, but he should have bombarded from turn one and onward instead of hiding in atmosphere some of the time. He never had a decent chance of getting any strike carriers over there whereas I had plenty of opportunity. It could have been more or less obliterated by turn 4 (when I finally managed to put feet on the ground) if he had focused on that. Instead it contributed with 6 point for me over the game.
This leads me to another observation; either at the very start or at the very least before the end of turn 2, you should have a plan for all clusters and space stations. Which do you want to gain points in, which do you want to try to deny your opponent and which do you give up. My plan was clear almost from the start; to score “my” space station and the right cluster quickly (the latter being decided when I saw he aimed his Charybdis at the left cluster) and then aim for the left cluster just before turn 4 (if there was anytning left) while basically leaving “his” space station alone. Except trying to secure the points for the critical location of his space station twice (and succeeding in the end) I stuck to that plan throughout the game, and that helped me focus and spend my ressources correctly.
Another observation is how to fight Scourge. I tend to go in silent running at least a turn or two for most groups, but in this game I only did it once in the entire game. This was partly due to him being very aggressive so I had to deal with his ships early in any case, and partly because in turn 1 he fielded two hydras meaning that he could launch at most of my fleet in turn 2 anyways. This forced me to focus taking them out and from there on, I was in combat continously for the rest of the game. I think I still need to practice battling Scourge as they are different than the almost carrier-free UCM lists that I have mostly faced.
I really missed the medium broadsides of the Orion. While the two Ikarus performed better than expected (partly due to luck, partly due to having point defence 2 armour save 5+ targets available), having some medium broadsides instead would have been better, I think.
Kill points are a drop in the ocean. In this game it was 2 VP to me, 0 to my opponent (both close to the next level, though). Even if you adjust the thresholds to accomodate the lower points total (which you should), even after doing that, 5 VP at the most is nothing compared to the 22 points that can potentially be scored at the end of both turn 4 and 6.
All in all I did learn a lot about the Scourge and had an enjoyable game.