Last bit of backlog cleanup here. EV and I had our first full-fledged Uncharted Seas game on Tuesday, his Shroud Mages against my Iron Dwarves. We found that the starter boxes aren't balanced points-wise, even if they are in terms of number of ships, but EV sucked it up and played a couple points down all the same. We played the game right this time, as opposed to our ghetto intro battle, but we did have a couple outstanding questions that I still want to look into. Fleet lists were as such:
1 Battleship - 115
3 Cruiser squadron - 180
3 Frigate squadron - 105
3 Frigate squadron - 105
1 Battleship - 110
3 Cruiser squadron - 165
3 Frigate squadron - 90
3 Frigate squadron - 90
Writing this list just now brings me to one big complaint about the game. The website has tons of downloadable rules updates, which is a good thing in theory. What isn't so good is that they're not terribly current. I went to use the online Fleet Composition point values, but they're not as current as the printed version I have. How is this possible? I have no idea. My other big complaint about the game is the horrible grammar in the book. This is both a minor thing and a major thing at the same time. The rules themselves are solid and the occasional tense shift or subject-verb disagreement don't impact the rules. However the lapses do affect the credibility of the company in my eyes. I'm an English major, so I put more emphasis on these things than most people, but if a company can't be bothered to have someone who knows what they're doing proof-read their only printed release to date, it makes me wonder what other kinds of quality control are absent. But enough complaining, on to the fight. Our setup:
EV's (painted) fleet on the left, my (not even primed) fleet on the right. I planned on using the island complex in the middle to maneuver around as best possible. Both our fleets are dwarven, which means they aren't exactly fast. the Shrouds have engines that might go faster (on a 5 or 6), but despite his best efforts EV managed to get the extra juice out of them exactly once all game.
US works on a alternate moving system, so one player moves a squadron, then the other player moves a squadron, then back to the first and so on. This provides for more photographing opportunities, but sadly my composition still needs work. I also forgot some end of turns shots. Having room to improve isn't a bad thing, and I have plenty of room there. A couple moves in EV's cruisers engaged my cruisers, with unfortunate results.
EV has these smoke markers which we employed to show the destruction of a ship. A little bit of verisimilitude. On the flank, my frigates began their reign of terror, starting with an opposing frigates squadron.
After the first turn.
You can see the blue dice that I used to track damage as well as the counters that EV used. Despite having two of the slowest, if not the two slowest, fleets in the game, we still managed to get fairly close in the first turn, which is nice. While one squadron of frigates worked wonderfully for me, the other didn't do quite so well. Their destruction begins in earnest here.
Their fellows get some revenge in short order.
You can see the prow of one of my cruisers in the bottom right of the shot. Beyond that squadron is the still-forming capital ship melee in the center. My plan for the frigates was to wrap around the island and take the Shrouds from behind. You hit on 3s instead of 4s when shooting from the rear, which I planned to exploit ruthlessly. On the other side, the destruction of my other frigate squadron progresses.
And is completed in spectacular fashion.
EV's cruiser destroys the remaining frigate in a ramming action. Ramming is pretty brutal, with both parties potentially taking damage. It works out pretty good for the rammer as long as they're bigger than the ship being rammed, as was the case here. What follows is his unengaged cruisers shooting up mine, continuing their slow destruction.
You can see my heroic frigates in the background, waiting on their activation to start the wrap-around. End of turn two shot.
Things were looking pretty grim for me here. EV had a two frigate advantage over me at this point, but his battleship was sailing away from the fight and my frigates were getting ready to start tearing things up from behind, so all was not lost. The fleets drew together a bit and I moved my battleship up, ready to unleash the front guns on his cruisers while broadsiding his frigates to kindling.
As you can see, that didn't really happen. Capital ships hit frigates on a 5+ instead of a 4+, so I managed to do no damage to the frigates despite having 15 dice to split among them. I did a point or two on the cruisers, which was slightly better but still disappointing. It was the beginning of a trend of disappointment from the battleship. This is the section where I forgot end of turn pictures, so we're into turn 3 here. Random picture rotation strikes again.
The destruction of my cruisers is complete. At this point I'm really worried as I'm down to a battleship that can't hit anything and a single, though effective, squadron of frigates. EV meantime has lost a single squadron of frigates. As you can see below, my battleship is in a bad place, surrounded by foes.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn't avoid ramming EV's cruiser. This worked out in a way, because I blew it up, but I didn't get to shoot as a result. This is one of the things I want to look into. I'm fairly sure once you ram you don't get to shoot, but I've seen some forum chatter that makes me think it might be otherwise. Things started to turn around here with the battleship accomplishing something and the frigates finishing their island tour. We pass now into turn four, where the battleship continues to be competent.
The battleship takes out a cruiser, this time with it's guns. I'm starting to feel better here as the numbers equalize. The difference is only a single cruiser for EV now and his battleship is floundering around behind the central island. My frigates swoop in here.
They manage to set the Shroud cruiser on fire and leave it burning, sailing away from the fight, and with a single hull point remaining. On a 4+ the ship would burn away, so I left it to it's own devices and considered the frigates in the middle. End of turn 5 (I think) here.
You can see EV's battleship off on it's own, LoS blocked to most of my fleet. My frigates zoom into the middle and unleash more randomly rotated doom.
Not only did I take five of six hull points from the enemy frigates, I also blocked up the path to my battleship. I really love these frigates. My battleship wheels around and finishes the squadron off.
At this point I'm feeling pretty good about my chances. I've gone from being down a cruiser squadron to being up a frigate squadron. My battleship is in a position to go to either side of the central islands, while EV is more or less locked into his path. End of turn 6.
We got into a bit of repositioning here as I organized my fleet for the final showdown. End of turn 7.
I forgot about that burning cruiser just now, much like I did in the game. EV pulled a card that let him put out the fires, so the cruiser didn't burn to the waterline. It was following the same route my frigates took, so those same frigates turned around to finish the cruiser off, but not before it had shot up my battleship a little.
End of turn 8. Our battleships are slowly, slowly making their way towards the corner where they'll meet. This is the height of EV's super-charged engine frustration.
His engine frustration over, EV shoots up my battleship real good. He sets it on fire, but my frigates have closed the gap.
This is also the end of turn 9. EV moves in and continues pounding my battleship. Because damaged ships have their firepower reduced, this match-up becomes more imbalanced with each volley.
My frigates are plinking away at his battleship, but it's looking grim for my own. This is turn 10.
Now into turn 11, my battleship finally goes down in another randomly rotated picture. I'll give my battleship credit, it took a lot of punishment before it sank, which gave my frigates time to work. By now I had a big hill to climb, with only my heroic frigates facing off against EV's battleship. I had superior maneuverability on my side, but he had a massive frakking ship on his. That ship lacked aft guns though, so my I began thinking of my frigates as the Ballnippers and started using them as such. Following is the end of turn 11 shot.
Our ships did a spiraling dance for the rest of the game, the Ballnippers coming up behind the battleship and linking into it's rear and the battleship turning as tight as possible to hit the frigates with a broadside. It was around here that our second rule question came up of what happens when you link on rear shots and not all the linkers are behind. We'd been playing it that everyone shot from the rear up to that point, so we kept on with it, but I think we later found that it should work a bit differently. Another thing to look up.
You can see the counters in the shot here showing that I'd done five points of hull damage, which only left three on the battleship. That damage reduced his firepower and that combined with needing 5s to hit meant my frigates made it through the firestorm largely unscathed. This is turn 12.
Turn 13 here. We've both done a point of damage, and I'm feeling good about my chances. He only has two points left on his battleship, which means a crit will take it out.
Finally in turn 14 the dance is done. After taking another point of damage, the Ballnippers come in for the kill.
Man of the match here is clearly the Ballnippers, who took out the vast majority of EV's fleet. The combination of speed, tight turning radius and guns on turrets is amazing. In our ghetto introduction game I'd been put off by their five dice guns because when you link shots, each additional ship adds half dice rounded down, which meant each frigate only added two dice. I thought it would have been nicer if they'd had six dice, so they'd add three, and of course it would have been nicer to have more dice. The advantage I didn't realize at the time was that even when my frigates are damaged, they still add two dice when linking. EV's frigates only have four dice, so when I damage them they only add a single die when linking.
In our discussions about fleet expansion and evening up points, EV said he wanted to add another battleship, which is understandable. They're big, imposing, and have lots of guns. I think I might go the other way though and add more frigates, or maybe some submarines. We'll have a couple weeks and some more games to consider.
On the painting front, I got some work done on my ships. I have a cruiser that's 95% done, though I'm not too happy with the highlighting. I'm painting the hulls red, which has never been my strongest color, though it's the one I use the most. I'm considering going back and repainting the hull and leaving it mostly unhighlighted. I also got a bit of paint on a frigate. Pictures to come.