the allied ships abandon their mission despite having it within grasp
Wrong. Once the Imperieuse showed up, the mission objective was unreachable, as General B tried to explain several times already. Just accept the fact that, within the confines of WiH, ramming doesn't always work, and that there is such a thing as a freak hit that can take out a jump drive.
I'll accept the fact that from the mission designer's perspective that the goal was unreachable and I'll maintain the fact that this player's perspective it was. Or put another way, I understand what you're trying to go for. I just don't buy the execution of it as a player. When the Imperieuse shows up and the fleet goes off to die I wasn't getting choked up, I was frowning and shaking my head. It was at that point that the campaign completely lost me and I pretty much ceased to care about anything that happened afterwards.
I understand what you're saying, and I understood what Battuta said in his very first post. But from my perspective in the mission you've got this: Six ships, including four frigates, within a click or 2 of the target. And then rather that throw everything they have at the target, including themselves. Four of those ships run off to face down some other destroyer knowing they'll die and knowing they probably won't do a damn thing. And they don't immediately die either, they blab about sacrifice and yadda yadda for a good minute, minute a half before they bite it. (EDIT - And not even that, but they're actively closing with the Imperieuse. Shortening their distance and their lifespans). So what, SIX heavy warships over a minute and a half can't take down an already damaged destroyer? I don't buy that for a minute.
Maybe you'll buy this.
We built this mission as an actual military operation. We carefully gamed out how long it would take the Wargods to destroy the Carthage by main force, timing it down to the second, by simply disabling the Imperieuse's arrival trigger and watching how long it took to shoot the Carthage apart. We have archived copies of the mission where that's exactly what happens: the Imperieuse never shows up, the Wargods win.
Believe me when I say the Carthage has as a lot of safety margin. Like, minutes worth. The Imperieuse could probably have run a while late and still saved the Carthage.
The only correct maneuver here is to try to close the range with the Imperieuse, get on her flanks, and blow her to pieces. And believe it or not that will work.
We also have archived versions of the mission where the Wargods manage to do just that. That's the call Captain Genady made and it was the only right one: force the Imperieuse to engage the closest
targets first, instead of what it logically would've done: shoot up the farthest, then work its way in.
In fact I want to pick out a particular misconception you have because it seems to underlie some of your problems here:
(EDIT - And not even that, but they're actively closing with the Imperieuse. Shortening their distance and their lifespans)
Beam damage does not fall off with range. You are either in range and dead, or out of range and not dead, or out of arc and not dead.
Get your ship onto the Imperieuse's broadside and you have a shot, or torpedo the forward beams (and being closer helps you do that better) and you have a shot.
What I WOULD have believed was if the six ships were on their final attack run and the Imperieuse jumps in and cuts through half of them in the opening volley and the others scatter and make a crash jump leaving the Yangtzee behind.
This is not meaningfully different from what happens. The six ships are on their final attack run; the Imperieuse jumps in, they have no chance to escape (even scattering in six directions will only save two of them), the Imperieuse cuts through half of them in the opening volley which it would do no matter whether they attempted to close, attempted to retreat, or attempted to attack the Carthage
, the survivors scatter.
I understand many of your objections but on this one you're just going up against objective fact. We actually played out all the scenarios you're trying to describe, so we know what really happened. In fact charging the Imperieuse is such
a good idea that we had to give her special ECM cover and subsystem guardians to prevent the Wargods from sometimes getting lucky and murdering her, then turning back to finish the Carthage. And if you want to call that contrived, well then yes, guilty as charged.
Look, to wrap it up, I'm going to make it as simple as possible.
We gamed out every option here at the end of the mission. We tried every possible course of action to ensure there really was call for a big sacrifice. Seriously, when reading these, remember that we actually FREDded these outcomes and watched them play out.
If all the Wargods run, they all
die; the Imperieuse and its escort (the Hydra?) take the farthest targets first and then pick off the stragglers.
If all the Wargods shoot at the Carthage, they will, almost always, all die before taking out the Carthage. That's right: six frigates, two cruisers, not enough. The Carthage is armored to hell and back.
If all the Wargods charge the Imperieuse they can sometimes get its forward beams (before we guardianed them) and proceed to kill her. This is very embarrassing, Steele would not be happy.
If some of the Wargods charge the Imperieuse they can sometimes - very rarely, VERY rarely, but if we hadn't armored and guardianed them it might be possible - get its forward beams and proceed to kill her. The two rear-echelon ships, however, are now guaranteed to make it out if they turn and run, because the Imperieuse needs to target the charging ships first to deal with the threat.
That's what our testing showed. We really wanted to make sure there was actual call for what happened in that mission, and while it's possible later balance adjustments ****ed with it, this is the foundation we proceeded from.
At the same time, this still represents a failure for us, because if the story didn't have you hooked by then to the point where you were willing to play by its rules, it means we failed to draw you in earlier. And while that's discouraging, of course, it's just the risk you run when you put something out there; there are always people who just don't find it to their taste.