Admiral Dimitry Orlov was calm. Well, he was TRYING to be calm.
The Review Board actually reviewed his last mission as a success(?) as he had obviously been tricked into a situation that he had no control over (??) and it was actually the fault of the Admiralty for sending him out in the first place against his recommendations(?!?!?!?).
This was NOT the sort of reaction he had been expecting. The Review Board appeared ready to decommission his command the previous time. The only reason it changed its attitude towards him must of been because of his Mysterious Benefactor.
In fact, Orlov still didn't know who he was or what his position was. That worried Orlov. He hated the unknown. Worse, it meant he wouldn't be able to know how to manipulate or impress his Benefactor. Or worse, what would anger him and prevent his wrath.
Shaking his head, Orlov brought his change of thought back to his present mission. He was leading a Russian Task Force from his ship, the Battleship Georgy Pobedonosets ("St George the Victorious" in English). A new Carrier, a squadron of Cruisers and some Escorts and Frigates accompanied the Battleship. They were to sail down the coast of Norway towards Britannia as the Russian Component in a joint mission against the hated Prussians. The fleet had already reached the tip of Norway and just had to cross the North Sea to their first port of call.
At least, that WAS the plan...
"Admiral Orlov! Lookouts report a fleet of ships crossing in front of us to the south!"
"We've spotted floating cruisers sir - it appears to be a French Fleet. headed towards Denmark"
The FRENCH! This could be an opportunity he didn't want to miss. But Orlov had a schedule to keep. Too bad...
"Sir! Lookouts report the fleet is changing direction. They're turning towards us now."
"Looks like I won't be able to avoid that fight after all. Signal all ships to General Quarters! Turn to meet them head on! Radio Room; signal Fleet Headquarters and the English Fleet that we have been discovered and engaged by the French. We may have intercepted the enemy on the way to join up with the Prussians!"
Orlov listened as the sounds of the engine power increased to battle speed, the gun turrets loading and re-aligning. Across the horizon, he watched as the carrier started launching fighters to meet the French threat. Together, all the ships started pointing south - towards the Enemy...
It was time, once again, to fight for Mother Russia!
My Friend Byron requested I do a "training mission". He had the French Naval box set and a Carrier because he thought it looked Great! (As good a reason as any for a wargamer to buy a model...)
So he added his points up and came up with 825 points. Adding a Carrier to a Russian Box set made mine a litte over, so I dropped a frigate. Also, having heard some of the nastiness for the French Fliers, I figured I should get some escorts.
So, the Army Lists:
For the Republic of France (RoF):
1 X Couronne Carrier
1 X Mk II Magenta Battleship with Cloud Generator
3 X Marseille Cruisers (1 Sqdn)
9 X Lyon Frigates (3 Sqdn of 3)
2 X Voltaire Heavy Interceptors (1 Sqdn)
2 Sqdn of 5 Torpedo Bombers
1 Sqdn of 5 Fighters
1 Single Tiny Flyer Recon Squad
For the Russian Coalition (RC):
1 X Kostroma Battle Carrier with 2 X Veliky Escorts
1 X Borodino Battleship with 2 X Veliky Escorts and Torpedo Breaker (3)
3 X Suvorov Cruisers with Rocket Jammers in 1 Sqdn
3 X Novgorod Frigates in 1 Sqdn
2 X Myshkin Bombers in 1 Sqdn
3 Sqdn of 5 Fighters
(Yes, I deliberately dropped 1 frigate and deployed 4 as Escorts for the Battleship & the Carrier. Having heard what the French had both Missiles and Torpedoes, I figured I needed more AA for the big ships than just letting them get rocketed to death from a distance. It cost me some activations, but I hoped to make up for it by being more difficult to damage.)
4' X 4' battlefield with 3 quarters containing an island, 2 on his side, 1 on my right flank.
Deployment (Russian Left to right):
RC: Frigates with Bombers behind. Next the 3 cruisers, then a Squadron of Fighters with the Battleship with escorts behind, another squadron of fighters, the Carrier with Escorts. On the far side of the island, the last squadron of fighters.
Deployment (French, from Russian Left to Right):
Behind the island, angling towards the center: the Cruisers, with the 1st Squadron of frigates beside them. Next was another squadron of frigates with the Battleship & Carrier behind them. On the other side of the island, 2 Squadrons of Torpedo Bombers (Black "Fuel" dice) and a squadron of Fighters (White "Fuel" dice, the Heavy Interceptors and the last squadron of frigates.
Both sides rolled their missions, but chose instead to go for default 70% captured/destroyed fleet composition. (Approximately 580 points)
This was Byron's first time using cards. The French played "Tactical Aid" and drew 2 extra cards. Russians played "Red Tape", meaning the French had to throw away an extra card to use any cards.
RoF got the 1st Turn Initiative
The turn was filled with cautious movement and little fighting (Russian weapons being so short-ranged - what did you expect?) ;)
The French Recon flight flew forward (just to kill an activation). Russian fighters on the far right moved forward as well (also killing an activation). the French frigates on the far right advanced and cautiously turned inwards around the tip of the island. The Russians countered by moving another fighter squadron forward. The French fighters advanced, followed by more Russian fighters. French Torpedo Bombers next, followed by Russian Bombers, followed by French Heavy Interceptors. Ships finally started to move. The Russian Frigates on the far left advanced and turned towards the center.French Frigates activated, but were out of range of anything.
Running out of options, the Russian Carrier moved out and turned to show her broadsides to the Heavy Interceptors and frigates on the far right, but were just out of range! (I also forgot to use the Glacier Generator - Oops!!!) The French central Frigates moved out, but found they were just out of torpedo range of the Carrier. The Russian Battleship then advanced, but was also out of range. The second squadron of Torpedo Bombers moved out, followed by the (Reluctant) Russian Cruisers.
This was the end of the Russian activations for the turn and the French finally pounced! Sorta...
The French Cruisers played "Stoke the Engines" on their Cruisers, advanced forward and prepared to fire on all the Russian Cruisers. I decided I should be "nice" and explained that the Russian Capital Ships all have Ablative Armour and how it worked. After hearing the gory details, the French concentrated fire on a single cruiser and stripped the Ablative Armour and caused a single Hull Point (HP) of damage. The French Battleship moved next and tried to fire at the same cruiser, but failed to damage it. Finally the French Carrier moved forward, ending turn 1.
End of Turn 1
Russians played "Tactical Aid" which the French cancelled
French won Initiative again.
The French started things off by moving their Fighter squadron forward. Bad choice. The Russians activated their Cruisers, moved forward and turned to the left. The Russians then returned fire on the French Cruisers - double teaming 1 French Cruiser and the damaged Russian Cruiser fired at it's own target (hoping just to cause some damage) while the Cruisers Broadsides targeted two Frigates. When the smoke cleared, both French cruisers had been destroyed by Double-Crits! One suffered a Magazine Explosion and took out one of the French (targeted) Frigates while the Russian Broadsides took out another! Both the Cruiser and Frigate squadron FAILED their Break Tests.
"Weren't there some cruisers over there before?"
The French moved their center Frigate Squadron to make a torpedo run on the Carrier, but the Russian Battleship was close enough that it's Torpedo Breaker diverted 3 torpedoes into the previously damaged Cruiser (which suffered a Systems Crit), saving the Carrier from damage. The damaged Russian Cruiser was not so lucky as the Frigates then fired Broadsides at the crippled ship, causing another Double-Crit, sinking the hapless Cruiser. The remaining Russian Cruisers then failed their Break Test! :O
French start their PAYBACK!
Needless to say, Turn 2 was starting with a BANG!
The Russian Battleship advanced, then fired only 1 turret (the only one in range of anything) and caused a Crit (Nav Lock) on the remaining French Cruiser while it's broadsides sank another Frigate. The first squadron of French Torpedo Bombers then launched an attack on a single Russian Cruiser, but the but the Battleship deviate 3 torpedoes onto the other to reduce the damage. The one cruiser still lost its Ablative Armour and suffered a single HP loss. In retaliation, A Russian Fighter squadron "bounced" the French torpedo bombers, shooting down 3 for a loss of 1 of their own. The second French Torpedo Squadron attacked the Russian Battleship and successfully damaged it, removing the Battleships Ablative Armour in the process. Russian fighters shot down 2 of the Torpedo Bombers for no loss of their own, but the damage was already done...
Sensing blood, the French threw everything they could at the Russian Battleship. The French Heavy Interceptors attacked next, targeting both the Battleship and the Cruisers. They succeeded in taking another HP from the Battleship, but failed to damage the Cruisers. Russian Frigates fired on and sank the last French Cruiser while the French Frigates fired torpedoes at the Russian Battleship. The Russian Admiral chuckled as the Torpedo Breaker diverted 3 torpedoes back onto another French Frigate, damaging it, while sparing the Russian Battleship further damage. Russian Bombers advanced up the left and turned towards the French Battleship, hoping to make a bombing run next turn. The last French Frigate squadron (1 frigate) attacked the Russian Cruiser with Torpedoes but once again, the Russian Battleship diverted 3 to another French Frigate (causing no damage to either ship). The Russian Battleship was proving that taking the Torpedo Breaker was a GREAT option for the fleet!
Finally, due to some poor maneuvering on their part, the Russian Carrier collided with the Russian Battleship - the Battleship had failed to get out of the way when they moved. No damage to the Carrier, but the Battleship took another HP damage! Ouch!
"No, I'm SURE I had the Right-Of-Way! Who's your Insurance Broker?"
That ended all the Russian activations so the French had Carte Blanche the rest of the turn. The Recon flight flew around like an angry gnat. The French Battleship moved and turned to show her Broadsides. Firing everything, the Russian Battleship took another HP damage and a Cruiser suffered a Crit (Guns Damaged). Finally, the French Carrier moved into range to fire the Heat Lance at the Russian Battleship, causing a Crit (Fire - 10 AP left) while rockets targeting the Battleship were diverted to a French Frigate while AA took care of the rest. Finally, the Carrier's Broadsides broke through the Ablative Armour on the last Cruiser, causing an HP damage, ending the activations.
The French Battleship turns to engage...
In the maintenance phase, the Russian Battleship put out the fire, but failed to repair or rally the Russian Cruisers. The solo French Frigate managed to Rally, but the French also failed to repair any damage.
(Things looked good points-wise for the Russians, but all the Ablative Armour was gone from their ships except the Carrier - not a good sign!)
End of Turn 2!
No turn cards this time.
French win the Initiative AGAIN! :(
The French started off with their Battleship; 1 turret caused a Crit on the Russian Battleship (Nav Lock - 1 HP Left on the Battleship!), The Broadsides missed, the forward turret caused a crit to a Cruiser (Nav Lock) and the torpedoes failed to damage (3 diverted by the Russian Battleship's Torpedo Breaker). The Russian Frigates attacked the French Battleship, but caused only a single HP of damage. The French Carrier activated and sank the Russian Battleship (FINALLY) with its Heat Lance, then fired it's rockets at a Cruiser. Though some of the rockets were diverted, there was still another Crit on a Cruiser, sinking it. After the Russian Battleship sank, the Battleship's Escorts found themselves already in range and joined the Carrier's Escorts, bringing the Escort squadron up to 4 ships.
Cruisers take it on the chin while the Bombers close...
The remaining Russian Cruiser played Thunderous Volley (bringing it's Attack Dice up to the full Turret value +1) and fired both Turrets and Broadsides at the French Battleship but failed to damage it. The French Interceptors attacked the Russian Carrier; guns failed to hit and Concussion Charges stopped 4 torpedoes, but the Carrier still suffered an HP and loss of their Ablative Armour. The Russian Carrier moved , deployed an iceberg on its rear quarter as the Escorts all moved in front of the Carrier and targetted the French Carrier. The Russian Carrier then played "Veteran Gunners" and Crit the French Carrier (forgot to record the effect) but the escorts failed to damage the enemy ship.
The Carriers trade shots!
French Frigates then "threaded the needle" between the Carrier's Escorts and the iceberg, to get the stern of the Russian Carrier in their Broadside Arc, fired and caused another HP to the doomed ship.
French Frigates rake the Carrier's Stern!
Russian Bombers meanwhile managed to over-fly the French Battleship and though the AA caused a Crit on one Bomber (Nav Lock - what is it with Nav Locks today???), both bombers dropped their payload and caused a Crit (Eng Damage) on the Battleship.
The French Frigates attempt to fire broadsides at the remaining Russian Cruiser but fail to damage it. Russian Fighters shoot down the remainder of 1 Torpedo Bomber squadron for a loss of 1 fighter. French Frigates manage to sink a single Escort. Russian Fighters engaged the French Torpedo Bombers and shoot down 3 for no loss. The French retaliate and their fighters attack back, but French lost 4 fighters shot down for 1 Russian lost!Another Russian fighter squadron shot down the remaining French fighter for a loss of one of their own. The Freench recon flight buzzed around the far left side - because he could!
Russians failed to repair the Gun Crit on the Cruiser and Nav Lock on the bomber, but rallied the Cruiser. French failed all their repair rolls.
French played "Pass the Tools" and successfully repaired their Battleship to Full HP! ):-(
Russians FINALLY win initiative - too bad there's not much left of the fleet...
So, looking at what was available, the Russians activated the Frigate squadron first; they were at full strength and had a better chance of damaging something than the Cruiser did. I wanted the Carrier to "Mop up". Of course, the Frigates failed to do anything...
French Frigates activated next, failed to damage the Cruiser or the Frigates, but did succeed in sinking an Escort. Then they played "Tally Ho!", giving the French a Second activation!
The French Battleship moved forward, Crit and finally sank the helpless Cruiser with torpedoes, then turned its turrets on the Carrier, causing another Crit (Nav Lock - AGAIN?!?!?), and damaged an Escort with the Battleship's broadsides.
Russian Bombers moved forward and as they couldn't go far enough to bomb the French carrier, the Bombers used their "Hard Shell" suicide attack. The Carrier's AA wasn't enough to shoot down the damaged bomber so they each made a successfull attack, causing a Crit (Weapons) and an extra HP damage between the two. This also gave the French another "free" 100 points, but I thought it was worth the chance as I expected to loose the Russian Carrier this turn anyway.
Regardless, the attack worked as the French Carrier activated next but was unable to damage any of its targets with their weapons cut in half!
The Russian Carrier then activated, moved forward its minimum move, laid another Iceberg in its rear quarter to hamper the French Frigates and then played "Thunderous Volley" as they fired their broadsides at the French Carrier. Success! The French carrier suffered a Crit and Sank! The Russian's Escorts did no damage.
The Russian Carrier - VICTORIOUS!!!
French Frigates snaked around and circled the Russian Carrier, caused another Crit (Shredded Defenses: uh-oh!) and damaged a Frigate.
Seeing as there were no more French Tiny Fliers, a Squadron of Russian Fighters attacked the Heavy Interceptors - bad idea! 4 fighters destroyed for no damage to the French! (I knew it was a bad idea to begin with, but it cost me no points to make the attack and I COULD have gotten lucky...)
The French Interceptors made their attack runs, sinking 1 Escort and adding another hull point damage to the (Crippled) Russian Carrier. This left the Russian Carrier with only 1 Hull Point Left! :-O
"Out of Duct Tape - do you have any GUM???"
All the Russians had left were their fighters but I knew the battle was lost so ignored their moves. The French had 1 Frigate that hadn't moved - it collided with the Russian Carrier and the Frigate sank - scratching the Carrier's Paint and leaving the Carrier with 1 lonely HP to keep it afloat!
French Losses: 420
Russian Losses: 655
The Republic of France Wins!
End of Battle!
So what did I think about the battle?
It was a great game! :-D
From the Russian point of view:
I had heard how terrible the French Fliers were, so I decided my Large and Massive ships needed Escorts more than I needed Frigates. This meant that I would have fewer activations as a result and that was an issue for a while. It let the French fleet hold off committing their "Big Toys" until after I couldn't react to them. In spite of this penalty, I think the Escorts were a good choice and did do quite well stopping rockets and torpedoes, just not as well as I would have hoped. By keeping them behind their "masters", they were too far away to shoot down the Torpedo Bombers before they could attack, but it kept the Escorts alive from attack from the French Capital Ships. The Carrier definitely needed the escorts. The Battleship, maybe not so much.
Having the Battleship use Torpedo Breaker instead of the Mimic Generator was a tough call. I knew to expect both Rockets and Torpedoes from a French Fleet. The Russian Cruisers with their Rocket Jammers provided Rocket Defense, so I figured I needed the Torpedo Breaker for Torpedo Defense. By keeping the Cruiser, Battleship and Carrier all close together, they were able to provide the perfect defence umbrella, protecting each other. It actually seemed to work as the French Torpedoes were not a huge issue until a) the Torpedo Bombers released their torpedoes en mass and b) the Battleship was sunk! If I had faced a fleet with few / no torpedo options, the choice would have been the Mimic. That way I would have copied the Glacier Generator from the Carrier and deployed 2 Icebergs per turn. As it was, I enjoyed frustrating the French by reducing their torpedo salvos and even managed to damage a Frigate in the process! Overall, I have to say the Battleship was the Hero of the Match for the Russians just because of all the torpedoes it redirected for the rest of the fleet!
The Carrier, amazingly, survived the battle with a single Hull Point left and successfully sank the enemy Carrier. With GUNS, no less! :-O
However, I still didn't play the Carrier correctly. First, I forgot to use the Glacier Generator for 2 turns (me bad) so that was a waste as I didn't build up a large enough ice flow to protect the carier from the sniping French Frigates. So I didn't really learn to use the Icebergs properly. Second, I tried to keep the broadsides to the French the entire game, but the Broadsides really didn't do a lot until I played "Thunderous Volley" against the French Carrier in the last turn. Finally - I had hoped to "reload" some of the Fighter Squadrons and redeploy them as Dive Bombers later in the game, but because the Carrier was engaged constantly from Turn 2 on - I was unable to land, let alone re-arm and launch a strike. On the other hand, by having 3 Squadrons of Fighters, I was able to shoot down all the French Bombers and Fighters, preventing the French from landing, reloading and attacking a second time! They just weren't useful against the French Heavy Interceptors (OUCH! That still hurts!). I could have launched the "spare" token (Carrier comes with 6) as a Recon Flight as the French did, but none of my Primary Weapons have a range farther than Range Band 2 - Indirect fire wouldn't be allowed at that range band. Keeping it on board would have let me reinforce a damaged squadron (if any had had a chance to land...).
Cruisers did Great on Turn 2! Unfortunately, when Morale broke, they were doomed as seperately, they didn't have the firepower to damage the French Battleship. Failing to rally really hurt the Cruisers (and the rest of the fleet). Such is the standard problem with all cruisers...
Russian Bombers are depressing. Compared to the French Interceptors, the Russian Bombers are good for only two things: overfly and bomb a target or the "Hard Shell Suicide Attack" (which automatically grants your foe their points cost). In this case, the 100 points for the 2 could have made a difference between loosing the game or going on 1 more turn (though not really - store was closing just after we ended our game. Thanks Pedro!). I've used the Medium Skyships in other games and I think I'll be "upgrading" my fleet in that direction as they do more and last longer (for me, anyway)!
Looking at the French:
Not a whole bunch I can criticize about the French fleet. The Battleship used regular turrets rather than the Heat Lance. While it might have been a good choie normally because of the short range of the Lance would put the Battleship into Russian Primary Weapons Range, Byron confessed that he couldn't model the Heat Lance on correctly, so he stayed with the turrets! It just LOOKED better! In this case, I think it was to his advantage as regular turrets allowed the Battleship to damage the Russians before they could bring their full guns to bear on him at Range Band 2!
After the French Carrier's Heat Lance perforated my Russian Carrier, I realized how lucky I was that he only had 1 Heat Lance! I quickly made the French Carrier a primary target so that I wouldn't face a 2nd full power shot from that beast. Luckily I inflicted the Weapons Crit I needed, otherwise the Russian Carrier would have sunk to the bottom of the sea. The rockets didn't perform well, but I think that was mostly because of the combined defense of the Rocket Jammers and Escort's AA added to the Russian Capital Ships.
French Frigates were annoying and wearing but they weren't too bad until the Battleship sank (with the Torpedo Breaker). Once the Battleship was unable to affect their torpedoes, they became much more dangerous.
The Heavy Interceptors are an interesting concept. No bombs but enough AA to take down most of a squadron of Tiny Fliers and still the firepower to threaten capital ships. It took them a turn or two to engage, but they were used well and made their presence known.
The choice of 2 squadrons of Torpedo Bombers and 1 squadron of Fighters I think was a good choice. The Fighters gave the French the flexibility, but being on one far end of the table limited their usefulness as the Bombers they should have gone after were on the other side. Even against the Russian fighters, they should have been much more useful; I think Byron just had a really bad roll and I had a great one which neutered the fighters. On the other hand, the Torpedo Bombers went in and did what they were supposed to do; they just couldn't land and reload as a) Russian Fighters shot most of them down before they had a chance and b) the French Carrier was already engaged and shooting from turn 2 on wards - making it impossible to land and reload. Both Russians and French suffered in this condition.
All in all - a Great Game with the balance swaying either direction until the end of Turn 3! Thanks Byron
"Have you found him yet?"
"No Sir! We're still recovering survivors from the Georgy Pobedonosets, but Admiral Orlov hasn't been found yet."
"He MUST be found!"
"There are survivors from the Bridge of Georgy Pobedonoset. The last anyone remembers seeing the Admiral was shortly after he ordered everyone to abandon ship. He was last seen operating the Torpedo Breaker controls as the ship was going down. Sir..."
"He . . may have . . ."
"Don't even consider it, Ensign! Admiral Orlov MUST be found!"
What do you think? Orlov is 3 losses for 3 games. Should I "Find" Orlov or start a NEW Russian Admiral?