Part 20: The Fog of War
The Fog of War
You're now stationed on a Vasudan destroyer. In a nice touch, the menu screen changes. Previously, it was the interior of the GTD Aquitane, but when you're on a Vasudan ship:
(Click for 1600x1200).
It's the little touches that count, you know? In Freespace 1, actually, you were initially stationed on the GTD Galatea, and later on the GTD Bastion. Even there, the Bastion had a different menu screen than the Galatea.
Command Briefing Time! (and some mega text so skip to the pictures if you don't care)
Watch this command briefing / Mirror
Listen to this command briefing / Mirror
The high points here, basically:
Admiral Khafre posted:
This is Admiral Khafre, commanding officer of the GVD Psamtik, 13th Vasudan Battle Group.
The NTF rebellion is over. Polaris, Regulus, and Sirius are now under allied control, and we begin the process of rebuilding these systems after 18 months of bloodshed. NTF officers responsible for the genocide of Vasudan civilians will face a war crimes tribunal in Beta Aquilae. GTVA warships in the nebula are now hunting down the Iceni and the other blockade runners.
For those Terran pilots joining us in Gamma Draconis, welcome aboard. Your reassignment is part of an officer exchange program to foster better cooperation and understanding. You will serve in Vasudan wings and pilot Vasudan fighters. Our crews have modified our craft to accommodate Terran pilots.
We as an alliance have come a long way since the Terran-Vasudan War, and initiatives such as this can only strengthen the bond between our species.
With the rebellion defeated, we are now able to focus on our exploration and containment operation in the nebula.
We have three objectives in this theatre: to locate uncharted Shivan jump nodes, to destroy all hostiles encountered, and to apprehend Admiral Aken Bosch.
We begin launching our squadrons at 3230, Vasudan Galactic Time.
The Psamtik has received a shipment of the new GTW-66 Maxim Gun. The Maxim is by definition an energy weapon, though it behaves like a mass-driver, accelerating caseless uranium slugs along its smoothbore barrel. The Maxim has difficulty penetrating shield defenses but its effect on hull plating is devastating.
Use the Maxim at your discretion.
You have also been issued the GTW-83 Lamprey Cannon. A second-generation Leech gun, the Lamprey affects the energy systems of your target, draining its weapon, shield, and afterburner reserves. Coupled with a balanced hull and shield damaging weapon, the Lamprey is highly effective against smaller vessels.
All Terrans be advised that Vasudan fighters and bombers may be equipped with the Mekhu HL-7. A modified version of the Subach HL-7, the Mekhu design has been optimized for the reactor grids of Vasudan craft to increase the cannon's rate of fire.
NTF = dead.
You = flying Vasudan ships, and back in the nebula.
The Maxim is an interesting weapon. It has immense range - over three and a half kilometers - is a very fast projectile, and fires rapidly. The drawbacks are that it makes your ship vibrate from firing, making pinpoint sustained fire at range (against, say, a turret) difficult to impossible - for potting a capital ship just in general however, it's excellent at range. And up close, it goes so fast (1800m/s) that it doesn't really matter that you bounce around, even against fighter targets.
Of course, it's functionally useless against shields (it does minimal shield damage) and will suck your cannon energy reserves dry really fast.
The Lamprey is pretty much its opposite; does no hull damage whatsoever but sucks shields. You'd think pairing these two would be effective, but you'd also be wrong. The Lamprey does surprisingly little shield damage, fires only half as often as the Maxim (Maxim fires every 0.15s, Lamprey 0.3s), and travels at a very slow 450m/s.
So you have one gun that goes 1800 and fires twice as fast as another that fires slowly and goes 450m/s. Getting both on target (or, more appropriately, using solely the Lamprey to leech shields and then switching to only Maxim for the kill) is a ridiculous amount of micromanagement for a combination that's less effective than just slapping Prometheus S cannons on your craft.
Basically, forget the Lamprey. Maxims have their use - they're demons against cruisers and the like - but pair them with a general purpose weapon like a Prometheus S, Mekhu HL-7, or UD-8 Kayser. Or if you're disinclined to micromanage your guns, just pack any of those three.
And although this mission doesn't tell you explicitly, if you change your default fighter selection (more on that in a minute) to the GVF Tauret heavy fighter (think "Herc II, except BETTER IN EVERY WAY") you can carry my favorite missile, the Trebuchet. Trebuchets are heavy anti-bomber missiles; you can't carry that many of them (the Tauret can carry 26, 13 in each missile bay. For comparison it can carry 800 Tempests, 400 in each) but it has a range of over five kilometers, and a pair of them can eliminate practically any fighter or bomber in the game - a single Trebuchet hit will knock a Mara heavy down into single-digit hull strength and straight up obliterate anything lighter such as an Asteroth or Scorpion.
Onwards and upwards!
Watch this briefing here! / Mirror
Listen to this briefing here! / Mirror
Your New Squadron Commander posted:
Welcome to the 203rd, Terran. I am Commander Habu, squadron leader. Our unit has served the Emperor since the war between our species, nearly five decades ago. I understand you were among the pilots who assisted our counter-insurgency effort in the Deneb system. We are honored to fight by your side, pilot. You will lead Alpha wing.
Allied Command has ordered the 203rd to nullify a gas mining operation in the vicinity of our secured perimeter. Reconnaissance has located six Rahu-class miners, defended by a screen of sentry guns. Your primary objective is to destroy the miners. Your secondary objective is to neutralize the sentry guns.
Be advised the shockwave of a gas miner explosion will have a destructive radius greater than that of a ship of comparable size. As the hull integrity of your target approaches zero, put as much distance as possible between yourself and the miner. We believe the Shivans are using the nebular gas for energy. Good luck.
You've got quite a ship selection this time, as you've yet to fly a Vasudan craft. I'll try to keep this short
GVF Horus and GVF Thoth - are both Great War (eg, FS1) era craft. Both are fast - the Horus is the fastest fighter in the game - but lightly armed and armored. I prefer the Thoth as it has one cannon bank (but 4 guns) so it shoots extremely fast. Both have weak secondary capacity and the Horus, especially, has a weak hull.
GVF Serapis - your default fighter. There's a lot of love for this among some fans and I'm not quite sure why; its hull is weak, it has strange (and by that I mean poor) compatibility with secondary weapons, and its weapon layout is such that landing a full-guns hit on target at anything past point blank is problematic. Fun to fly, but no staying power in a fight.
GVF Tauret - is a supreme bad-ass. It takes everything that sucks about the Herc II and doesn't suck. Massive secondary bays (400 Tempests each, total of 800) and 6 guns (2 banks) means it can dish out a LOT of damage at any range. High weapon compatibility (both primary and secondary) and a tough hull make this potentially the best heavy fighter in the game.
I think you can guess which one I'll be taking. I'll mention that in this mission it really helps - though you don't need to - by customizing your entire flights' weapons. Switch out Hornet missiles for Harpoons and Tornadoes, make sure everyone's packing heavy guns, etc. Keep your wingmen with Maxims even if you don't like them, they're useful in this mission if SOMEONE has them).
Mission start: Your three wings of fighters jump in, looking to take out six Shivan gas miners, six sentry guns (even Shivan sentry guns are pretty much useless) and you get support from the GVCv Tatenen and the Vasudan AWACS ship, a GVA Setekh called Junit.
The best part about this AWACS is those blue things rotate. It's like a little drill, floating in space, drilling away ... the nebula...yeah.
Here's a Tauret from Beta taking out a turret at range - the nice thing about the AI is they don't really care about the Maxim shaking their aim, and still hit with it at ridiculous range against stationary targets.
Command: Attention, all units. Long-range scanners detect a defensive perimeter of six sentry guns and a wing of Mara-class fighters. Designation Virgo. Proceed with caution. The GVA Junit will provide AWACS support.
As you take out sentry guns and gas miners, Command helpfully counts down how many you've taken out and how many remain - it's not that interesting. Shivan fighters jump in on occasion, causing you some trouble (but not really a lot) and Maxims are quite excellent at plinking miners outside their significant blast radius when they go up.
Bonus Tip: When you're down to one gas miner, order Beta to defend your corvette, the Tatenen. Order the remaining fighters (Alpha and Gamma) to destroy the gas miner. Max engines and run for the Tatenen. I'm spoiling the mission but Shivan bombers and half a dozen Maras run in for an attack run just as soon as you blow the last gas miner. If you don't do this you'll likely be six kilometers from the Tatenen and that's no good.
Actually, after the last gas miner goes, I order everyone to protect the Tatenen to get them back to the going-to-happen-in-just-a-minute fight.
Wait a minute. What did you just say there, Alpha 3? Let's take a closer look:
...By your Comm...
Tatenen: This is the Tatenen! Shivan bombers have engaged! Request immediate fighter cover!
Of course it's not like the Tatenen is defenseless - Sobeks are nasty customers.
Command: All units, we are picking up an unusual jump signature in your immediate vicinity. Seek and identify.
Tatenen: Acknowledged. Database does not recognize the configuration. Target exceeds superdestroyer specifications. Reading multiple cannon signatures. Request mission update!
So, uh guys, how about that mission update....any time now....?
Command: Disengage now, Tatenen! Break off and retreat! We're pulling you out!
Command: The Tatenen has been destroyed! I repeat, the Tatenen has been destroyed!
Command: All units, return to base! We do not have the firepower to challenge that warship!
Luckily for us, that warship doesn't feel the need to take out a depleted Vasudan fighter wing - it jumps out as soon as the Tatenen is turned into a pile of debris.
Well guys! Who's up for a rousing game of The GTVA: We're Screwed?