The expected Zhodani invasion has begun. As I suspected he would, their High Admiral has gone with a fairly conservative, broad front envelopment that is aimed more at methodically taking control of planets than hunting down and destroying the Imperial fleets or targeting a few specific Schwerpunkts.
Of the five distinct incursions, the most dangerous fleet is the Zhodani 1st Assault Fleet, as it not only packs enough punch to have destroyed one of my colonial cruisers and driven off the 120 system defense boats guarding one of my subsector capitals at Jewell, but also contains transports that landed two field armies bolstered by several armored divisions to secure the planet. About my only accomplishment was bloodying the 1st Assault’s nose a little while extricating my colonial battleship. My hope is to use it to either wreak a little havoc behind his lines or possibly distract one of his fleets. It’s not likely, given the requirement to plot up to five turns in advance, but perhaps I can force him to tie up the 65th Fleet in pursuit of it.
Fortunately, the extra reinforcements I provided the large Jewell militia prevented the Zhodani from claiming the planet in the first turn, so hopefully that will disrupt their schedule. The planetary militia has taken 70 percent casualties and the Imperial army corps stationed there was destroyed, but with the help of the elite Marines and some mercenaries,they managed to nearly eliminate two Zhodani divisions, including one of the armored ones.
In the north, the Vargr are unopposed and have already bypassed Dentus in order to land troops and take Kinorb. Three fleets have entered the demilitarized zone, but they haven’t done more than take out a scoutship or two. And in the south, the two Sword Worlds fleets blundered by launching without waiting for their troops, which means that even though I’ve only got the minor 213th Fleet to deal with both them and the Zhodani 67th Fleet. That means the Zhodani have only taken two planets when they probably expected to claim four or five in the first turn.
Now I can begin my own plotting; I’ve got my best admiral on Regina along with my main battle fleet, the 214th. However, I dare not risk them against the 1st Assault Fleet, which I now know has more than twice their firepower. The question is whether I use them to hold Regina after Jewell falls, if I throw them forward to slow down the Zhodani assault, or if I fall back and use them to pick off the weaker Vargr fleets while I wait for my reinforcements.
This is a long game and will last at least 26 turns, with 50 being more likely. So, I’ve decided the key at this point is to preserve my forces until my reinforcement fleets begin arriving from the galactic core. So, my inclination will probably be to destroy the Vargr and reclaim Kinorb, leaving it up to the various planetary defenses and the land forces to slow the advance they cannot possibly stop.