Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BatRep: The Fair Isles Dash (Kingdom of Britannia vs Prussian Empire) (Hurricane Season)

So Graham decided he wanted to try one of the Missions from the Campaign Book: Hurricane Season.  Unfortunately for him, the only mission we could do was Scenario 3 ‘cause that’s the only one we both had fleets for!

The mission is based on the actions of the “Baiting Force” – code named “Battle Group Michael”.  Michael was to distract the English fleet from engaging the main Prussian Force that was sent to support their Japanese Allies in their attack on the Caribbean islands.  As a result, rather than rolling for objectives, the scenario states the objectives for each fleet.  The Prussian force, consisting of 2 Naval Forces and an Air Force, was to go from the Western side of the board across the table and exit one of the 2 Eastern corners.  Obviously, the British objective was to stop them!

The game is played on a standard 4’ X 4’ table, with a 2’ long island or peninsula protruding less than a foot in to the middle of the southern edge and a smaller 12” long by 6” peninsula poking in on the northern edge.  The Prussians made a secret roll and noted that the North East corner was “Exit Zone Eins” while the South East corner became “Exit Zone Zwei”.  This information wasn’t given to the British – forcing them to protect both corners.  The importance of this was because Zone Zwei offered more points per escaping ship than Zone Eins.

Rather than counting Victory Points, we used “Campaign Points”.  For the British, Smalls were worth 1 CP each and Mediums worth 2 CPs each if “Lost” (sunk, captured or derelict).  Large and Massive were worth 3CP if crippled, 6CP if destroyed or derelict and 9CP if captured.  Smalls were worth 0CP and Large or Massive ships were worth 6CP if they escaped off Zone Eins.  Smalls were worth 1CP and Large or Massive ships were worth 12CP if they escaped off Zone Zwei.  Mediums were worth 2CP out both zones.
To complicate matters, the scenario specifies the deployment of each “Force”.  The Prussians start the game with only the Air Force on the table.  The Naval Forces come on the table during Turns 1 & 2.  The British have a similar issue, though 1 force coming on the table is just a flight of 4 Tiny Flier Tokens.  And if were weren’t confused enough, we decided to add the Weather rules (also from the same Campaign Book).  The game ends at turn 8 – regardless what was still on the table.

Deployment was easy.
The Prussians deployed their Air Force (Schnellgeschwader Bruning):
Schnellgeschwader Bruning
  • 1 Sky Fortress (with a flight of 5 Fighters leading the Airship)
  • 2 Bombers
All Flying “Obscured”

The British deployed their First Force (1st Patrol Group, 3rd Battlesquadron):

1st Patrol Group, 3rd Battlesquadron
  • 1 Battleship
  • 3 Escorts
  • 1 flight of 4 Fighters

Turn 1:
We rolled “Storms” for the first turn with a Weather Gauge of -1 (a modifier used for each turn).
Storms meant that ALL models lost 1” movement, All Tokens reduce their movement by ½, Drift movement was increased by 1” and Ordinance Weapons were reduced to ½ dice when attacking Range Band 4!

Per the scenario rules, Prussians start the game with the initiative!

(Not that I really wanted it!)

Prussian Reinforcements arriving this turn (Schnellgeschwader Bavaria):
  • a Battleship (with Tesla Generator) 
  • a squadron of 4 Frigates.

British Reinforcements arriving this turn (3rd Battle Line Group, 3rd Battle Squadron):
  • 1 Dreadnought (!!!), 
  • 2 Cruisers (with Experienced Engineeres) and a Gunship, 
  • 5 Corvettes 

(Graham used Frigates as Proxies as he didn’t have the “real” models).  

Graham also rolled for the 2nd Fighter Squadron (4 Tokens) to arrive this turn as well, beside the Battleship Force.

{Prussian Strategy: I don’t get any points for sinking anything – I get points for ESCAPING!!!  I know which corner gets me the most points, but with that Dreadnought and its support arriving near the South East corner, I need to draw them away if possible.  I don’t want to do it, but I decided to sacrifice the Air Force going for the Northern Corner.  Sorry Skyfortress!}

So, Prussian fighters moved forward 4” (1/2 of 1/2 – no fuel used), to kill an activation.  The dang British spoiled that by moving their fighters a whole 4” towards me. 

Knowing that at RB4, the ships should be safe, the Prussian Frigates moved forward 12” from the West edge.  The British Battleship and its escorts move forward about 5”, staying hidden from the Skyfortress, behind the island.  Taking a chance, the Prussian bombers dropped from the clouds and fired on the Battleship from RB2, but failed to damage the Warship.  Worse, neither bomber could climb back into the Obscured level.  The 2nd fighter squadron flew 4” onto the board.  The Prussian Skyfortress stayed high, moved forward and still managed to damage one of the Battleship’s Escorts in spite of requiring 6’s to hit.
Next onto the map was the British reinforced Cruiser Squadron.  While their guns were out-of-range, their torpedoes weren’t.  Fortunately for the Prussians, their torpedoes failed to damage anything.

On the other side of the table, the Prussian Battleship activated its Tesla Generator, generating the 1” movement that the ship had lost to the storm.  The Battleship’s movement forward ended the Prussian’s activations for the turn.

With no further reactions possible from the Prussians, the British Corvettes charged onto the board at their maximum speed.  One Corvette managed to make it within Maximum Range of its weapons to a Prussian Bomber and in an incredible feat of rolling single dice, managed to damage the hapless bomber!  Good Shot! 

Finally, the British Dreadnought entered the board, but had to turn north as soon as possible to avoid ramming one of their own Cruisers!  From Range Band 4, with ½ dice, it managed to damage the same bomber that the Corvette had just hit, crippling the Bomber.

End of Turn 1

In the End Phase, there were no Critical effect to fix, so we rolled for the change in Weather.  This time we rolled “Fair Weather” (normal conditions) and decreased the Weather Gauge to -2.

Turn 2:
Once again, the Prussians had the initiative.

All the British were on the board at this point. 

Prussian Reserves arriving this turn (Schnellgeschwader Elbe):
  • 2 Cruisers and 1 Gunship
  • 4 Destroyers

{Prussian Strategy: The British Dreadnought was pointing in the right direction.  Now I had to reinforce the belief that I was going for the North East corner.  This would be the Critical Turn!}

The Prussian Bombers stayed low and moved forward their minimum move, each fired at a separate Escort around the Battleship.  While an Escort was sunk, only the damaged bomber was able to climb once more into the clouds.
Bomber Raid

Angered by the Bombers, one of the British Fighter groups attacked, causing another HP of damage (1HP left) for the loss of 2 of the 4 tokens.  The Prussian Skyfortress moved forward and turned towards the Battleship group, but failed to inflict any damage on the Escort it fired on.  The Bait was set.  Would the British fall for it?

It appeared that they would.  The British Battleship and Escorts moved towards the Prussian Air Force.  AA shot down the damaged bomber with a Crit, while the Skyfortress took a Crit (Raging Fire), then took another Raging Fire because of the Carrier’s Fuel Reserves!  2 Fires in one Volley!!!

The British Retaliate!

Prussian Destroyers moved onto the board their full speed and took a long-range shot at the Battleship’s Escorts, somehow sinking one!  The second flight of British Fighters attacked and damaged the remaining Prussian Bomber for no losses.  The Prussian Fighters attacked the fighters and shot down 1 for no loss in return.  After completing their attack run, the Fighters landed on the Skyship to re-arm and re-fuel.

As if the poor Prussian Skyship didn’t have enough to deal with, the British Dreadnought continued forward and fired all turrets and broadsides at it!  Sadly, the Skyship took another Crit – ANOTHER Raging Fire.  Fortunately, the Fuel Reserves didn’t make it any worse, but the Skyship had 3 Fires to put out this end phase! 

The Skyfortress Burns!

The Prussian Frigates move forward at maximum speed and split their fire between 2 of the 5 Corvettes, but only sank 1.

Prussian Frigates Attack!

The British Corvettes decided to return the favour and charged forward, attacking the Prussian Frigates, sinking 1 and damaging another!

British Corvettes Counter-Attack!

The Prussian Cruisers moved onto the board, behind the southern island and out-of-range to everyone.

The British Cruiser squadron turned north and formed a Line of Battle, then fired on the Skyship, but failed to damage it this time.

In the Final Activation, the Prussian Battleship charged up the Tesla Generator and gained a full 3” movement – making a 10” full move straight ahead.  Sadly, the Battleship’s weapons failed to cause any damage.

In the End Phase, I nervously rolled for the Skyfortress – ALL fires were successfully put out!  The British had no damage to roll for.

End of Turn 2

Rolling for weather, we once more rolled Fair Weather, but Weather Gauge increased to -1

Campaign Points:
  • British:  3 CP       (1 Frigate and 1 Bomber.  The Skyfortress was not crippled at this time.)
  • Prussia: 0 CP

Turn 3:
Neither side gains reinforcements for the rest of the game.

PE won the initiative again.

Prussian Frigates started things off to the tune of “Use It or Lose It!”  Charging between the British Corvettes, the Frigates Crit a Cruiser (Fusion Leak) and damaged 1 Corvette, then successfully left another Corvette as a Derelict.

Prussian Frigates Break Through the Line!

The larger of the British Fighter Groups attacked and damaged the Skyfortress, finally crippling the Great Airship!  The Prussian battleship turned slightly to Starboard, hugging the Island on the south.  The Battleship’s turrets critted the British Gunship (Fusion Leak) and sank 2 Corvettes using broadsides and Tesla Weapons.

Prussian Battleship makes its presence KNOWN!

The British Battleship steamed straight south towards the Prussian Battleship.  The British AA caused a Crit on the remaining Bomber (Raging Fire – what is it with Raging Fires today???) and caused another HP damage on the Skyfortress, but British torpedoes failed to damage the Prussian Battleship.

British Battleship tries to cut off the Prussian Escape!

Prussian Destroyers moved forward and commenced a Pack Attack on the British Battleship and managed a Crit (Hard Pounding – 5AP left).

British Cruisers commenced a hard turn to Port.  In a single round of shooting, the Cruiser Squadron sank 1 Destroyer, damaged another, shot down the last Bomber and crippled a Frigate!  OUCH!!!

The British Cruisers strike EVERYWHERE!

The Prussian Cruiser Squadron advanced and turned around the end of the island, heading East and fired on the Battleship but failed to damage the British ship.

The British Dreadnought activated.  Graham wanted to turn to starboard, but I pointed out to him that he wouldn’t complete a 180 in 1 turn and the 2” minimum movement would probably take the British Monster off the table, so he was forced to turn to Port instead.  All turrets and broadsides fired on the Skyfortress and the airship suffered a Crit (Nav Lock + Raging Fire due to Fuel Reserves) followed by another HP loss – leaving the Skyfortress with only 1HP left!

Knowing they were doomed, the Prussian Skyfortress launched their Tiny Fliers rearmed as Dive Bombers, and moved forward at maximum speed at the Obscured level (though the Raging fires ensured that the airship was not obscured).  Greedy British fighters immediately pounced on the Skyfortress but failed to damage the brave airship.  As the final activation, the lone British Corvette moved towards the Skyfortress and successfully sank a Destroyer, but failed to damage the Skyfortress.

The Skyfortress survived the turn with only 1 HP left!

Skyfortress - Damaged, Burning, but ALIVE!!!

In the End Phase, the Skyship fixed their Navigation Lock, but gained another Raging Fire token!  (As I typed this report and compared photos, I realized I hadn’t been taking off AP due to Raging Fire Crits!  Only when I failed the Raging Fire Rolls!  Ooops!)

On the British end, the Gunship failed to repair its Fusion Leak but the Cruiser repaired its Engine Damage.

End of Turn 3

Once again, we rolled Fair Weather for the next turn, and the Weather Gauge was again -2

Campaign Points:
British:  7 CP       (1 Frigate, 1 Destroyer,1 Bomber destroyed.  The Skyfortress was crippled.)
Prussia: 0 CP

Turn 4:
Once again, the Prussians won initiative!  British weren’t doing well at all with initiative!

The Prussian Battleship activated its Tesla generator and again, got a Maximum Boost of speed.  Racing down the island coast, the Battleship managed to damage a British Cruiser as it sailed past.

The British Battleship turned and fired on the Cruiser Squadron, Critting the Gunship (Systems Failure) and damaging 1 Cruiser.

British Battleship targets the Prussian Cruiser Squadron

The Prussian Cruiser Squadron formed a Line Of Battle as they sailed around the corner of the southern island, turning their guns on the British Gunship and sinking it!

The British Cruisers attempted to repeat their performance from last turn.  When the smoke cleared, the Cruisers had failed to damage the Battleship or the Skyfortress, but did succeed in critting a Cruiser (Hard Pounding – 2 AP left), plus an extra HP damage to the same Cruiser.

It was time to run for the gold!  The Prussian Frigates steamed at full speed towards Exit Zone Zwei, falling short by only 3”.  Next turn they would be off the table for 3 CP!

British fighters attacked the Prussian Dive Bombers, but lost 2 of their own tokens while shooting down only 1 Dive Bomber.

The Prussian Dive Bombers took the opportunity to attack the last undamaged British Cruiser, successfully critting it (Engine Damage) for the loss of only 1 token.

The lone British Cruiser attempted to sink the Prussian Destroyer, but failed to damage it.

The Prussian Destroyers then turned and placed themselves beside the Prussian Cruiser squadron in an attempt to screen the Cruisers from more incoming fire next turn.

The 2nd squadron of British fighters attempted to shoot down the Skyfortress, but instead lost another token instead.

The Prussian Skyfortress turned to starboard, towards the British Dreadnought, hoping to distract the enemy fire.  Sadly, it succeeded.

The British Dreadnought unleashed heck and the Skyship finally succumbed to a double-crit, crashing into the sea in a blaze of glory…

Death of the Heroic Skyfortress

In the End Phase, the British failed to repair any damage though the Prussians were able to repair their Cruisers.

Campaign Points:
British:  10 CP     (1 Frigate, 1 Destroyer,1 Bomber and the Skyfortress (FINALLY!) destroyed.)
Prussia: 0 CP

At this point, Graham realized he had maneuvered himself into a fix.  We still had 3 turns to play but the Prussian Frigates and the Battleship were likely to escape next turn for full points (15CP).  That left the Prussian Cruiser Squadron.  They were screened by the Prussian Destroyers so the British Cruisers had no line of sight to Prussian Cruisers.  The British Battleship was being blocked by their own cruisers and would not be able to turn to present all turrets against the Cruisers; the Battleship would be limited to a trailing game with only 2 turrets able to fire.  Both the Cruisers and Battleship had suffered damage so none of them would be able to put out the firepower Graham figured he needed to stop anything from escaping.  Finally the Dreadnought, fully functional, was too far away and couldn’t fire over their own ships to full effect as their line of sight was completely blocked by the Cruisers AND the Battleship!

I expected to get at least 2 of the 3 Mediums off the table in 2-3 turns, but Graham figured he wouldn’t be able to stop any of them and conceded the game at this point, acknowledging Prussian Victory!

Wow!  Great game!  It’s nice to play a non-standard game once in a while.

So, what did I think of the Scenario?

As to the need to escape off the board, I think this is one of those missions that wouldn’t have worked with another fleet.  Can you imagine trying to get the Russians across the table in 8 turns from board edge to board edge???

At first, I was intimidated by the fact that the British had a Dreadnought and I didn’t.  I knew I had to redirect that firepower where I wanted it to go, but if the British had been a little luckier, that Skyfortress would have been gone by turn 3 and the Dread might have been able to get into a better position to help with the end the game.  I was lucky the Skyfortress lasted as long as it did – pure and simple.

Overall, the game proceeded pretty much as I think we both expected.  Prussians put the pedal to the metal and tried to reduce enemy fire rather than concentrate on sinking anything while the British formed Line Of Battle and shelled everything they could.  While they did get into a “Traffic Jam” at the end of turn 4, I don’t think there was much that the British could have done to prevent it.  The Prussians were piercing the line at that point so it’s unavoidable to have ships get in each other’s way.  If there was anything the British did wrong, I think it was just moving the Dreadnought too far North, but I was baiting him with a Skyfortress there.  If the North corner had been Zone Zwei, I would have gotten 12CP for getting the airship off that corner and still gotten 6CP for the Battleship if it went through Zone Eins.  The only thing I could see that Graham might have done was to park the Dreadnought facing North-South and use it as a stationary fire base.  Doing that would also reduce the total firepower in most instances as well as it would have spent most of the game outside RB1, so it really is a judgment call.

Using the weather rules, both Graham and I were concerned we were give the advantage to the other.  Reality, it only affected 1 turn during the entire game and that turn, it really wasn’t a factor as it was the 1st turn.  I would have to play a few more missions using the weather rules to see if they are something I would want to use more often.

Hope you all enjoyed reading this.  Has anyone else tried playing any of the missions in Hurricane Season?  I'd be interested in hearing your experiences.

Monday, November 11, 2013

BatRep: Russian Coalition vs Chinese Federation & Empire of the Blazing Sun

Admiral Dimitry Orlov was busy once again in the Command Center of the Russian Battleship Georgy Pobedonosets II ("St George the Victorious II" in English).  Finally, he was going back into action against the hated enemy of the Mother Russia!

Sadly, it wasn’t against the Prussians, but the Chinese that his task force was to sortie against.   The Chinese were attempting to blockade the port of Vladivostok.  The good news was that the Chinese hadn’t resolved their logistics issues and had to return some of the fleet back to their home ports for repair and replenishment. So the Chinese force he was facing should be smaller than his own fleet, According to Russian Naval Intelligence.

And we know how accurate Naval Intelligence always is, thought Orlov…

Still, it was good to be back at sea again.

“Admiral!  Lookouts have spotted the Chinese Fleet.  We’re alerted the rest of the fleet.  What are your orders?”

“The same as always.  Turn to engage the enemy.  Do we have an Order of Battle of the enemy fleet?”

“Sir, lookouts report 2 squadrons of Frigates, a Squadron of Cruisers and a Battle Cruiser.”

“So little?  We should be able to blow through that like tissue paper!  How do the Chinese expect to keep us away from Vladivostok with such puny forces?”

“Admiral!  The flying scouts we sent report they just spotted something coming from the clouds!  It appears a Japanese Air Armada has just arrived and are preparing to join formation with the Chinese!”

Laughing to himself, Admiral Orlov realized that “Naval Intelligence” really was an oxymoron.

“Time to earn our keep, gentlemen.  Call Battle Stations throughout the fleet and turn to engage the main Chinese Force.  If we deal them a blow, hopefully the Empire will leave us in peace.”

So, once more we dusted off the Russian Fleet and away went Orlov to save the day.

First a warning.  The Chinese Federation / Empire of the Blazing Sun fleet is technically NOT a “Tournament Legal” fleet.  Graham brought a Battle Cruiser for the Chinese, thinking it was a Large Vessel (physically, the model is quite large), not realizing it was only a Medium class.  So the Chinese were missing a “Large” Choice.  Sadly, the Empire of the Blazing Sun sent an Air Armada as reinforcements, but Graham didn’t have any Small class (which would have let us use it as the “base” force) and didn’t have any non-Capital choices so that the Air Armada technically wasn’t a proper allied detachment.  As we didn’t have the models to fix either of these issues, it was either cancel the game or go on.  I chose to go on as I didn’t see anything really “over-the-top” in the list.  As it was, it was a fun game and list to fight against.

Myself, I had made 4 lists and then made Graham roll to see which list I would use.  Just as an added random factor.

Bt the way, it was an 800pt game.
Russian Coalition (RC) Deployment:
From left to right:

  • Squadron of 4 Frigates (one just off-side of the photo) following a Flight of Fighters
  • A Squadron of 3 Medium Skyships
  • A Squadron of 3 Cruisers – all with Rocket Breakers
  • A Battleship with Mimic Generator
  • A Flight of Fighters
  • A Squadron of 4 Frigates

Deployment of Chinese Federation (CF) / Empire of the Blazing Sun:
Left to right:

  • A Squadron of 4 Chinese Frigates
  • A Flight of Chinese Fighters
  • 2 Chinese Gunships followed by a Chinese Battle Cruiser (the Commodore’s ship)
  • A Flight of Chinese Fighters
  • A Japanese War Gyro
  • A Squadron of 4 Chinese Frigates and a Squadron of 2 Japanese Scout Gyros

The Chinese fleet rolled a 1: Capture or sink 70% of the enemy fleet value (560pts).

I rolled a “Destroy the Core” mission.  As the Chinese fleet was designated the (naval) core in this battle, I figured I would take the chance and try to complete the mission.  It would definitely be a different mission than normal!

Turn 1:
Chinese won the Initiative.
Start of Turn 1

The Japanese Scout Gyros moved first, skirting the left side of the island and turning to get long—range broadside shots at the Russian Frigates on the left.  The rocket fire was accurate and sank 1 Frigate!  First blood to the Japanese!  The Russian Frigates passed their Break Test.

First Blood!

Not wanting to give away too much, the Russians wasted an activation by moving the Fighters forward on the left.  The Chinese Frigates on the left followed the Japanese Scout Gyros, but didn’t have the range to shoot at anything.  The Russian Frigates moved forward on the left at maximum speed.  Firing their weapons at long range, the missed the Chinese Frigates, but managed to damage one of the Japanese Scout Gyros.
On the other side of the island, the Chinese Gunships moved forward but everything in Line-Of-Sight was out of range.  The Russian Frigates on the right, stalled for time and moved forward about 3” – trying to stay out-of-range of the Battle Cruiser (whenever it would activate later in this turn).

The Japanese War Gyro moved around the left of the island at Flight level and fired on the Russian Frigates there, successfully damaging another Frigate.  The Russian Skyships charged straight over the island at maximum speed and fired on the scout Gyros, damaging each and causing both to lose an AP due to the Concussive Weapon MAR.  The Chinese Fighters moved over the island at ½ speed.

Back to the right of the islands, the Russian Battleship activated.  First, the warship passed its Sturginium Boost test, then the Mimic Generator successfully copied the Rocket Breakers from the nearby Cruisers.  After moving from behind the island, the Battleship’s broadsides were out of range from all targets.  The Chinese Battle Cruiser advanced forward only 6” – maintaining its formation slightly behind the Gunships.  The Russian Cruisers advanced from behind the Island, but their combined broadsides failed to damage the Chinese Frigates at long range.  The Chinese Frigates behind the sand bar moved to the right and turned to form a Line-Of-Battle, their broadsides targeted the Russian Frigates on the right.  However, the long range fire failed to cause any damage.

In the final activations, both the remaining Russian & Chinese fighters moved forward at ½ speed.

There were no repairs in the end phase.

RC:         37pts     1 Frigate sunk, 1 Frigate crippled.
CF:          0pts       No ships crippled or sunk

Admiral Orlov was steaming mad!  Dang those Japanese Gyros!  (Editor’s Note: this is a “Family Friendly” Blog!)  Orlov hadn’t counted on that kind of air support! 

Looking back on the battle plot, Orlov realized he would probably lose control on the left.  Though the Saransk Skyships were still undamaged and had good fire power, it was doubtful that they would hold their own against both the Scout and the War Gyro.  Sadly, the Frigates couldn’t be expected to do any better.  It was time for a tough decision.

“Orders for the Saransk Squadron: Ignore the Gyros – sink those Frigates!”

Turn 2:
Chinese won the Initiative again.
Start of Turn 2

The Japanese Scout Gyros moved first.  In a sweeping starboard (right) turn over the island, they presented broadsides to the Russian Skyships and fired, crippling one (Navigation Lock).  The Russian Frigates on the left then charged forward, guns, mortars and AA firing.  When the smoke cleared, 2 Frigates were sunk and 1 Scout Gyro was crippled!  Good Show Frigates!

Russian Frigates lead the way!

The Chinese Frigates on the left advanced, presenting their broadsides.  One Russian Frigate was sunk, but when the Chinese attempted to board another, the boarders were driven off, leaving 1 AP on the Russian ship.
Chinese Retaliation!

The Russian Skyships moved next.  Ignoring Japanese Gyros, they concentrated all fire on one Chinese Frigate and boarded the other.  Once the Frigate was boarded, the Russians abandoned the Chinese Frigate – leaving the left of the table free of Chinese!  Sadly, the Russians were sure to pay for their success.

Russian Skyships finish the Chinese Frigates!

The Japanese War Gyro came around the island’s corner, turned a turret on each undamaged Skyship and fired.  The results were terrible (for the Russians): one Skyship was Double-Crit (Chaos and Disarray plus Navigation Lock), the other was Critted (Engine Damage).  The Gyro then successfully boarded and prized the remaining Skyship, prizing it.

The War Gyro Speaks!

On the other side of the table, the Russian Battleship turned towards the Chinese fleet.  Though the Main turret was in range, it failed to damage a Chinese Frigate.

Back on the left, one of the Chinese Fighter Wings attacked a Russian Skyship and shot it down for no losses.

The beginning of the end of the Skyships...

Back on the Right, the Russian Frigates moved forward at maximum speed and successfully sank 2 Chinese Frigates.  The survivors failed their Break test! 

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

In response, the Chinese Frigates closed and formed Line of Battle, then fired separately back at the Russians.  In spite not being able to link their fire, they were able to successfully damage 1 Russian Frigate.  The Russian Cruisers turned and closed with the Chinese Fleet.

Back to the left of the table, the last flight of Chinese Fighters attacked the last Russian Skyship.  With minimal defense, the Skyship suffered a double Crit.  Laughing at my misfortune, Graham started to roll the Crit results.  First roll was a 3!  “Dang that was close!”  Next roll: Double 1!  Magazine Explosion!  When the dust settled, the Prized Skyship was blown out of the sky, denying the Chinese double-victory points!  A Russian Frigate was also sunk, most of a Chinese Fighter Wing was decimated and one of the Japanese Scout Gyros suffered some hull damage.

After Effects of the Magazine Explosion!

Now that both Chinese Fighter Wings were moved, the Russian Fighters on the left moved at maximum speed towards the Chinese Gunships.  The Chinese Gunships moved towards the Russians and managed to remove the Ablative Armor from 2 of the Cruisers.  The Russian Fighters on the right then did a Hard Shell attack on one of the Chines Gunships, causing a Crit (Fusion Leak).

The Hard Shell Attack in progress.

As the final activation, the Chinese Battle Cruiser fired 2 salvos on the last undamaged Russian Cruiser, removing the Ablative Armor and gaining an extra HP damage from the second salvo.

In the End Phase, the Chinese fixed the Navigation Lock on the Scout Gyro, but failed to repair the Fusion Leak on the Gunship.  The derelict Chinese Frigate drifted towards the board edge, and would be off the table by game’s end.  The other Frigate squadron passed their rally test.

RC:         297pts   3 Skyships destroyed, 3 Frigates sunk & 1 crippled
CF:          229pts   5 Frigates sunk & 1 Derelict, 1 Gunship Crippled, 1 Scout Gyro Crippled

“Admiral!  The Captain of the last Frigate on the left of the line reports that the Chinese threat is neutralized, but we’ve lost all the Skyships and the rest of his squadron.  The Japanese Gyros have been damaged but he can’t hold them back on his own.  He’s requesting instructions.”

“Tell him I, personally, thank him for his services for Mother Russia.  We are unable to give assistance in time to save him.  He is free to use his own initiative for himself and his crew.  All remaining ships: Charge the Chinese Ships and SINK THEM ALL!”

Turn 3:
Russians won initiative for a change!
Start of Turn 3

In one of those “Use it or lose it!” moments, the last flight of Russian fighters did a Hard Shell Attack on the undamaged Gunship, causing another Crit (Guns Damaged).  The Chinese Battle Cruiser moved forward 2” and sank one of the Russian Cruisers with a double-crit.  The surviving Cruisers passed their Break Test.

The first Russian Cruiser Sinks.

The Russian Cruisers moved forward maximum speed and sank one Chinese Gunship with a Crit and successfully boarded the other.  As points are not an issue for their objective, they recalled all their boarding parties – leaving the Chinese Gunship a derelict!

The Chinese Gunships are neutralized!

The Chinese Frigates turned and ran away, trying to avoid taking fire and hoped to buy time for their fleet to gain the required 560 points they needed to win.  The Russian Frigates on the right moved forward at maximum speed.  Firing at both, they managed to sink 1 Chinese Frigate and cripple the other.  The surviving Frigate passed its Break Test.

On the other side of the battle, the Scout Gyros made a hard turn (avoiding the table edge) and attacked the last remaining Russian Frigate.  In an insane round of dice rolling, the Frigate damaged the closest Gyro with its 1 AA gun for no damage on the Frigate in return!  Great job Frigate!  If you survive, you’re crew is being promoted to a larger ship!

Finally, the Russian Battleship moved forward and managed to get its Main Turret into range of the Battle Cruiser.  When the smoke cleared, the Battle Cruiser had suffered a Crit (Guns Damaged) but the last Chinese Frigate avoided sinking by 1 hit from the Battleship’s broadsides.  Meanwhile, the Japanese War Gyro overflew the Russian Frigate on the left of the battle zone and dropped bombs on the helpless victim, sinking the last of the Russian Forces on the left.

The last 2 activations were 2 flights of Chinese Fighters that no longer had a target, so they milled around over the island.

In the End Phase, the derelict Chinese Gunship drifted into the Russian Cruiser, causing another HP damage to the Russian ship.

The Chinese managed to repair the Battle Cruiser.

RC:         392pts   3 Skyships destroyed, 4 Frigates sunk & 1 crippled, 1 Cruiser sunk
CF:          425pts   7 Frigates sunk & 1 Crippled, 2 Gunships sunk, 2 Scout Gyros crippled

Orlov was worried now.  He was almost finished breaking through the Chinese Fleet but the cost was high.  While Orlov had no doubt he could sink the last of the Chinese, the Japanese Gyros had finished off the left flank and were making their way to the remaining Russians as quickly as they could.  The War Gyro was undamaged and could quite possibly swing the battle in the Chinese favour. 

It was going to be a horse race now! 

Turn 4:
The Chinese won Initiative once more.
Start of Turn 4

The Chinese Battle Cruiser made a turn away from the Russians, heading back the way it had come, and sank 1 Russian Cruiser with a Crit.  The survivor passed its Break Test.

The Battle Cruiser sinks another Russian!

The Russian Battleship once more passed its Sturginium Boost test and charged forward at full speed – finally bringing all turrets to bear on the Chinese Battle Cruiser while the broadsides fired on the frigate.  Surprisingly, the great ship only inflicted a single Crit (Guns Damaged) on the Battle Cruiser (it missed a double crit by 1 hit!) though the Frigate was easily sunk.

The Russian Battleship closes on the Battle Cruiser

The Chinese Scout Gyros moved towards the Russians and managed to inflict another HP of damage on the last Cruiser (2 HP left).  The Russian Cruiser moved forward and turned around the corner of the island, hoping to hide from the War Gyro.  As it turned, the Russian Cruiser fired both turret and broadsides on the Chinese Battle Cruiser, finally sinking the last Chinese ship.  The Russians had completed their objective!

The Russians complete their Objective!

The Japanese War Gyro moved and turned to provide arcs for both its turrets onto the Russian Cruiser and sank it with a Double Crit, avenging their Chinese comrades!  But would it be enough?!?!

The last Russian Cruiser is sunk!

We didn’t bother with the Russian Frigates or the Chinese fighters as they didn’t have the range or targets. 

End of the battle.

RC:         532pts   3 Skyships destroyed, 4 Frigates sunk & 1 crippled, 3 Cruiser sunk
Technically – not enough to win, but I’m not going to argue it – The Russians were busted up so badly we both agreed it was a Draw!

Admiral Orlov breathed a sigh of relief.

He had broken through the blockade.  The Chinese had no ships left to enforce it and the Japanese Gyros needed to return home to refuel.  The port was free to be resupplied and reinforced.

Unfortunately, Orlov’s own task force desperately needed replacements if he was going to continue to be effective.  All he had left was a squadron of Frigates to escort his Battleship into the docks.  With such a small force at his command, Orlov wouldn’t be able to protect the port if the enemy sent another task force before he could get reinforcements. 

Hopefully the Tsar would forgive the losses and let him keep his command…

Wow!  Great Battle!  I love a cliff-hanger where the outcome isn’t decided until the last possible minute!  I actually thought Graham would get enough points to force the draw.

So, what did the Russians do right? 

After realizing that I was going to lose the left of the battle, I sacrificed both the Skyships and the Frigates to ensure that those Chinese Frigates were destroyed.  Once that was done, the longer they kept the Gyros busy (and away from my main fleet), the better.  Speaking of which, if the Magazine Explosion hadn’t occurred when the Chinese Fighters attacked the last Skyship in turn 2, then the Chinese would have had the points required to solidly complete their objective at the end of the battle.  Just a bit of Bad Luck - in this case the Magazine Explosion hurt the enemy more than the victim!

On the right, things went pretty much as I had planned: Russians steamed forward to get into range as quickly as possible and overwhelm the enemy at Range Band 2.

Using the 2 Fighter Flights against the Chinese Gunships helped soften them up and reduce the Gunships’ fire power.  Having the Hard Shell attack option is a great feature for the Russian Fighters. 

While I didn’t expect to lose all my Ablative Armor off the Cruisers in 1 turn, it did keep the Cruisers alive long enough to do the damage they were required to do. 

The Battleship was pretty much ignored and though it did do damage during the game, it was only able to bring all 3 turrets to bear in the last turn of the game!  Shocking!

The real heroes of the Russian Cause has to be the Frigates on the left.  They stalled the Gyros for 3 turns and the last one managed to damage a scout all by itself with 1 initial AA dice.  It shook up the Scout Gyros so badly, their gunners missed!  Mind you, having a War Gyro drop 8 dice of bombs on you is going to ruin your day…

On the Chinese / Japanese side, the only real issue with the fleet was the force composition.  As I noted earlier, it wasn’t tournament legal, but in a friendly game, it was fun!  It had good proportions between the smalls, medium and large classes, and a mixed fleet in the Pacific theater against the Russians made perfect sense.  He only missed out on a couple of things to make it a tournament legal list and now that he knows what he did wrong, he can fix it!

The Chinese fleet itself seemed to be a good match against the Russians.  If there was any weakness, it was that they didn’t have the resilience they needed.  Bringing the Battleship instead of the Battle Cruiser would probably have bought him the time he needed to get the Victory Points he needed to win.

As to the Japanese Detachment, the fact they stayed on the far left as long as they did is what cost the Chinese their victory.  By the time the Gyros started to make their way to the main Russian fleet, they were outside of RB4.  They couldn’t target the Frigates (which also could have gotten them the points needed to get).  Another missed opportunity.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable game!