It has been a long while since I last posted on this blog. I have had some difficulty with finding time to write, as well as finding something interesting to report. Now though, I feel I have left it too long, and so I will post whatever I can think of that will be of interest to you, the reader.
It seems recently that our numbers are once again beginning to pick up. During our last shift, we were able to deploy five ships with either 5 or 6 officers per ship, as well as one officer on the Command and Control deck (acting as our GM for the mission). This was similar last shift too, with five ships being deployed, the majority having 5-6 officers. Over the years that the TSN has been running, we seem to experience a lull during certain months, particularly in the summer. This is pure observation however, and we have no data to support this. To try and track our numbers more closely, I have taken the decision to have the duty officer enter a number of officers per shift on a simple form, and record and track the data on a spreadsheet. Though it will take time to see any trends, it is my hope that it will show where declines occur and where we have spikes in numbers. From this, we may be able to determine and predict when we are most likely to have lower or higher numbers, and design missions and campaigns around this (for example, if winter months are the more active time for us, then we can have mini campaigns through the summer, all the build up and then a major campaign during the winter).
The Intel Department, responsible for designing and running campaigns, are once again taking us through a major campaign in the Cerberus system. They have in fact designed two story arcs that are running parallel to one another and intertwine, the second story arc taking place in the Cronus system. In the Cerberus system, the 4th Light Division is currently dealing with an incursion by rebel Hegemony forces, under the leadership of a Torgoth general. Those forces are supported by mercenary forces in the form of the Euphini pirates, and N'Tani aliens, also encountered in the Euphini expanse. They are making fantastic use of both the new TSN Sandbox and the TSN mod to create diverse and exciting missions to play through.
The first missions of the campaign saw the Light Division facing insurmountable odds, fighting delaying actions and evacuating local sectors. Caught on the back foot, there was no option but to withdraw into Cerberus, evacuating personnel and abandoning TSN bases. Our last shift saw the Division deploy in force to disrupt a buildup of enemy forces in a nearby sector. With sensors limited to 8,000 units, the scouts TSN Hunter and TSN Valiant were invaluable in seeking out targets for the other three ships to attack. The Light Cruisers TSN Hawk and TSN Phoenix, along with the Battle Cruiser TSN Raven remain within close proximity of one another for mutual support, coordinating attacks against enemy fleets located and identified by the Hunter and Valiant.
Actions like these are excellent for stimulating new thoughts on strategy and tactics too. One issue that comes up often is how to handle extended combats against enemies. Last shift, we came across an enemy command vessels and its escort. These ships had extremely high shielding. In the combat, it was only possible to destroy one escort vessel, and this required the efforts of all five ships to achieve. The Hunter and Valiant distracted and harassed the other vessels, whilst the Phoenix, Raven and Hawk fired on the escort. It took several minutes of sustained fire from all three ships to weaken the shields of the escorting ship (a Skaraan class vessel), and then a final volley from a scout ship before it was destroyed. The action lasted long enough that the ship's had to disengage to refuel at least once during the combat. This has occurred before, and each time we come across the situation we are able to deal with it more easily than the last. Through these encounters, we have started to formulate a clearer approach to attacking such heavily armoured groups of ships and now have reached a point where a proper battle doctrine is being established to handle future encounters.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of promotions of junior officers to senior officers too. The most recent was last shift, with other promotions occurring two or three weeks previous. It is always one of the most challenging decisions on who to promote to a senior officer rank as it is traditional a major step up in the TSN RP Community. Though all officers are encouraged to participate and contribute to the community, when someone is promoted to the rank of senior officer, the focus shifts to the management and running of the community. When promoting an officer to a senior rank, the senior officers discuss and assess candidates of an extended period, and do not make such decisions lightly. To become part of the senior officer team is to become part of the decision making process that significantly impacts the direction of the community. In weekly senior officer meetings, decisions are made on everything from how to run the shift for the night, to who to promote. Over a longer period, decisions by the senior officers are made on wider issues such as promoting the community and increasing numbers, to balancing crews and ranks.