Wargame Wednesday – Sector Fleet: Traveller Third Imperium

Mongoose Publishing

GRANTED that a Traveller RPG source book is not a wargame, but this publication has so much wargaming goodness in it that it practically qualifies anyway.

From the Mongoose Publishing description of the item:

Sector Fleet is a sourcebook for all versions of Traveller. Concentrating on the Imperial Navy of the Third Imperium, it presents data on naval operations, procedures and ships for many interstellar powers including the Solomani Confederation, the Julian Protectorate, and the Two Thousand Worlds.

Sector Fleet details the role and organization of an interstellar navy as well as the specifics of shipboard protocol such as command devolution, legal and illegal orders, and how much latitude a starship captain has once underway. Sector Fleet also presents details of the exact composition of an Imperial Sector and Subsector fleet; ship strengths and types, and the vital role played by reserve and Colonial forces in backing up the main strength of the Sector Fleet. The fleets of the entire Spinward Marches are described in this book.

As far as Mongoose Traveller supplements go, this one is fairly dense, weighing in at 136 pages covering eight chapters plus the Introduction and Appendix. Being a Third Imperium setting sourcebook, it gives the reader information on the Grand Fleet of the Third Imperium.

Chapter 1, The Grand Fleet of the Third Imperium, covers the Navy’s roles and history. Chapter 2, Vessel Classes, gives generic descriptions of ship classes.

Chapter 3, The Structure and Organization of the Grand Fleet, has both a role-playing element that describes the political and military command structures – useful items for helping determine fleet command & control. This chapter also covers the structure of the fleet with useful additional information on Navy Depots and Bases.

Chapter 4, Personnel, and Chapter 5, Deployments and Procedures are almost exclusively aimed at the RPG player. Chapter 6, Weapons and Equipment, includes yet more generic weapons descriptions.

For the Wargamer, Chapter 7, The Spinward Marches Sector Fleet, is probably the most useful. The order of battle for the Spinward Marches Sector Fleet is laid out subsector by subsector. Composition of each Sector Fleet deployment, Subsector, Colonial, and even reserve/mothball ships awaiting activation is laid out. This deployment does follow the Mongoose Traveller year 1105 setting. Chapter 8, Opponents and Rivals, briefly covers other navies. The book ends with an Appendix that gives a “Typical” Sector Fleet Composition.

If I have one major complaint, it is that this book is too generic and outright contradictory at times. For instance, Dreadnoughts are noted as “[T]he best and newest (and most expensive)…” (p. 21) with examples given as the mighty Plankwell and Tigress-classes. Battleships are  “both downrated dreadnaught classes and purpose-designed second-class line-of-battle ships…” (p. 21) – yet no examples are given. This uneven approach makes it difficult to make immediate use of all this data – a GM will have to be creative and build most fleets.

Nowhere is the problem more apparent than in the Spinward Marches order of battle. The OOB is given in generic terms only, i.e. the Mora Sector Fleet, Flag Group Spinward Marches consists of “2 Dreadnought.” Which class? In other places, battleships are listed as First-class, second-class, third and even fourth but there is no explanation in the vessel types as to what this means. Other examples are Armored Cruisers (not listed in types) and battlecruisers in types but not in any order of battle.

These errors are all the more egregious given Sector Fleet is not a new product but a reprint of an earlier QuikLink Interactive product. Sector Fleet is yet another in a long list of examples where Mongoose lives up to its failed quality control reputation – again.

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