The Let's Play Archive

Freespace 2

by Psion, BloodWulfe, & Gasket Basket

Part 17: The King's Gambit

Bosch's Second Monologue / Mirror plays before this mission.
Butts Quality Youtube link / Backup

The King's Gambit

Admiral Petrarch tells us the score now that we've suddenly left the nebula:
Watch the Command Briefing / Mirror (18,419KB)
Listen to it here / Mirror (2,741KB)

If you watch one of these briefings, make it this one. It has some pretty useful visuals.

Still, here's the Cliff Notes of the thing:
Admiral Bosch outmanuevered the Colossus, and is on the warpath to Gamma Draconis and the nebula gate. Although Allied forces have taken a toll on his fleet; taking out cruisers and corvettes and even a destroyer along the way, his surprise was sufficient that only at Gamma Draconis do the Allies stand a real chance of knocking him out - delaying him long enough with forces that have had time to prepare to let the Colossus catch up and deliver the knockout punch.

The plan is in three stages: First, the jump node out of Gamma Draconis will be blockaded. A Typhon-class destroyer, the Vasudan mainline ship from the Great War (The Orion's counterpart) and several Mjolnir Remote Beam Cannon will be deployed, along with the 64th Raptors bomber squadron - Petrarch himself reassigned you to this unit for this mission. The Raptors will be flying the new Artemis light bomber - successor to the Athena and the Zeus, it's fast, it's not awful in a dogfight, and it carries a respectable load of Cyclops torpedos. At the node, these forces will attempt to destroy every NTF ship they can.

The second stage of the operation is a counterstrike, supported by a Sobek and a Deimos corvette, against NTF staging areas inside of Gamma Draconis, all with the intent to whittle them down as much as possible to buy time and to make the final confrontation at the Knossos portal easier. To assist in this, aside from the new Artemis bombers, the GTVA resumed production of the Prometheus-S cannon; the -S type needing rare gasses that have been mined from the nebula, and thus giving us our first cannon that's flatly better than the HL-7. Finally.

Either way, the NTF is done for - whether or not Bosch makes it to the nebula is a moot point, as his entire fleet has been degraded and sniped the entire way to Gamma Draconis, and once there, they're not leaving one way or the other back to Polaris and Sirius.

Commander Beckett from the 64th Raptors fills you in on the details:
Watch the mission briefing here / Mirror (8095KB)
Listen to it here / Mirror (1384KB)

The battle's already started - the NTF have lost two cruisers and several transports already, and Petrarch is sending in the 64th to reinforce the blockade, currently the PVD Hedetet and the prototype Mjolnir beam emplacements. As the NTF jumps in, the blockade forces will have a limited window of opportunity to engage and destroy the NTF forces as they jump in from Capella and charge their subspace drive to jump to rallying points inside Gamma Draconis. Beckett tells you the NTF has one destroyer, the Uhuru, one corvette (mistakenly marked as a cruiser), the Pax, and two cruisers - the Liberty and Undaunted - already through the Capella end of the node and on their way to Gamma Draconis. The Iceni slipped through earlier, though the GTVA is working on finding it for the counterstrike phase of the operation.

And here we are in the ship loadout screen, looking at our new and shiny Artemis bombers:

but wait. We did that SOC loop, and (although it's never mentioned) we could fly the Artemis, or we could fly the Artemis D.H.

D.H. you say? What's the difference? Well, let's be honest:

My badass quotient just went up like 500 points. Although these are nominally more manueverable than the stock Artemis, I believe the tables don't bear this to be true (even though it's noted as such in the description). Placebo effect it may be, but I do better in the DH, seriously. So I always load up Alpha with them, because hey, when you have what amounts to the most bad-ass paint job in space, you use it.

This mission is somewhat hard to plot, per se, as it's pretty much non-stop action. Let me try and at least give you the setup:

The Mjolnirs are fixed turrets which fire a heavy anti-capital ship beam, the five of them set up to form an interlocking field of fire to tag ships as they come through the node. The Hedetet is off to the side of the node and path the NTF ships will be taking, letting it open up with broadside fire against targets as they come through from Capella. And the Raptors - you - are deployed on the other side, pincering enemy ships between the RBCs hitting them from behind, above, and below, the Hedetet to their "right" and the Raptors coming in from their "left." (Don't argue with me about arbitrary definitions of direction in space, jerkboats.)

Bored yet? Yeah, whatever. Time for the explosions. This mission is basically one NTF warship after the other, swarming through the node. Command pretty much limits itself to saying "Hey, ______ is going down, stand clear of the blast!" so, in order.

Mission start: See the Mjolnirs? The Typhon is off to my left and slightly low, out of frame.
Relatedly: You'll see images from both blue and yellow HUDs. I played this mission a good half-dozen times to try and get as many awesome screenshots as possible. I uh ... left a lot on the cutting floor, as it were, but if I thought it looked awesome, it's here

Imperial Officer: Sir, rebel ships are coming into our sector.
Captain Lennox: Good, our first catch of the day.

The NTD Uhuru is really the worst off; the Mjolnir turrets have a pretty limited field of fire (a cone to the front for their one big gun, maybe 30 degrees?) but all five can smack the Flying Skyscraper:

And then my wingmen roll in for the bomb run:

Might as well get everyone in on the party, right?

The Uhuru goes down in about sixty seconds, quite seriously. At least the bang:




Now I should point out, a couple Hercules fighters rolled in here. Some Lokis show up later. Nominally, these guys are attacking the Mjolnir RBCs, but Beta Wing (and if they get killed, Epsilon) is tasked with defending the Mjolnirs, so they are seriously a non-issue. You may see them in my targeting screen, but this mission is 100% capital ship.

One Orion down, more to go:
Command: Good work, Pilots! Don't smoke 'em yet. We've got more trouble on the way.

Not content to lose a destroyer, the NTF tries again:

Even as the wreckage of the Uhuru floats away, the Pax charges into the system and immediately lights up the Hedetet with its forward beams.

As before, the Mjolnirs hit back:

And fire again, even as the Pax fires on the Hedetet once more:

However, I'm not inclined to let the Pax keep beating up my destroyer, so I introduce its frontal cannon to a pair of Cyclops torpedos.

And a second pair, just because:

After that, it's time to afterburn the heck out of there, because nothing can stand up to this for long.

That's an NTF destroyer and a corvette. What's next?

Command: The NTC Liberty now entering the system. Aeolus-class cruiser. Evade the Loki escort, Alpha!

The GVD Hedetet gets first blood, before the Liberty can return fire:

You can always tell when the Vasudan destroyer is doing something; the Hedetet is literally the only thing in this mission which uses Vasudan yellow beams (by my count there are eleven capital ships and remote turrets with mounted beams - the other ten are all Terran green).

My wingmen go in for a quick bombing run as I rearm, since I know ahead of time I won't be getting much of a chance (honestly, rearming now is a poor plan; I'd suggest rearming when the Pax gets low - you should've fired 4-8 torpedos at this point, 2-4 at the Uhuru, 2-4 at the Pax)

Still, though most of the bombs are picked off by that flak (take a look at the poor guys in the above shot; looks like a bombing run on Galactica gone wrong), they do score a solid hit:


Okay, this shot fits absolutely nowhere into my narrative, but remember when I said I'd post awesome shots? This is probably the single best SCP shot I've seen or made. Ever.

(click for 1280x960)

Right, so I was reloading my bombs. I lock on and fire a pair at range; potentially suicide if the Aeolus decides to flak the hell out of me, but I knew it was distracted.

Unfortunately as you can see (look at the ship monitor on the right), its hull already hit 0. I was just a little bit too slow:

Stupid kill-stealing jerks

Command: That's a confirmed kill! We've got more hostiles jumping in!

Seriously though - it's a tossup between the Liberty and the last ship in this mission as to what I die to the most often. I've had the Liberty decide to unload every flak gun it has - even ones that have no right aiming at me - and killing me in about 0.025 seconds. So really, sights like it exploding, like that one or this one:

It's just satisfying, you know?

Next on the menu: We've fought a destroyer. We've taken out a corvette. We took down the toughest anti-fighter cruiser in the universe. And the NTF sends in ...

A transport.


But there's actually good reason to plaster the Inspiration as fast as you can. It actually can absorb a couple bomb hits, and jumping in a scant few seconds later is the Undaunted:

Command: Heads up, Alpha! The NTC Undaunted, a Leviathan class cruiser, has entered the fray.

If you ignore the Inspiration for the Undaunted - tactically a smart move, take out the greater threat - by the time you get through the damage soak that is the Leviathan's hull, the Inspiration will jump out and you won't get a clean sweep. And nobody wants that. So you should actually just hammer the transport, then take out the cruiser. See why I suggested reloading before? A reload now would screw you, pretty much.

As should surprise nobody, a diet of bombs and beams, as so:

Leads to this:

I'm telling you, if Command doesn't let me smoke 'em yet, I'M GONNA EXPLODE. EXPLODE LIKE ALL THESE NTF GUYS. Geez this is ridiculous. Are they DONE? I mean this orgy of destruction was pretty awesome, but I'm getting a little tired of "things jump in, beams and bombs, they explode, more things jump in, I mean you'd think the NTF would figure it ou--
The NTC Perseverance has cleared the node!




Right. Now we're done. If neccessary, clean up the straggling NTF fighters (there may be one or two Ulysses fighters floating about doing nothing), and jump out -- Command's told us they're already retasking the Raptors for another raid right away.


Stay tuned, I seriously have no idea what he will do, but I'm gonna bet it'll end up being a better update than mine