Tuesday, May 18, 2010

US Battle Report - How many battleships?!

First off, I co-opted EV's camera after our battle to take some quick shots of my ID ships. First the cruisers, who just need a dull coat.

And the frigates, who still need a wash and varnish. Maybe some more highlights.

These aren't the best shots, but they're better than what I had, which was nothing. The other frigate squad looks the same except that the black and white on the turrets are reversed. Hopefully the camera turns up eventually, though I doubt it, and I can get some better pictures later. Now on to the fighting.

EV has jumped the gun a bit and added to his fleet already. He traded two frigates and a cruiser for a second battleship. While this all adds up points-wise, it seems a bit off in terms of tabletop effectiveness. You can't pick all your battles though, so I soldiered on all the same. Lists were as such:

Iron Dwarves:

Battleship - 120
3 Cruisers - 150
3 Frigates - 105
3 Frigates - 105

480 total

Shroud Mages:

Battleship - 110
Battleship - 110
2 Cruisers - 110
4 Frigates - 120

470 total

Sharp-eyed future readers may notice a points discrepancy between the ID list in this post and the last battle report. They're the same models in the same configuration, but this time I'm going off an online document instead of the book. By my best understanding, this is the most current list. That said, the battle. Our setup:

The two battleships worried me. I figured to send everything except the northern frigates south around the middle island to gang up on the battleships, hopefully sinking on quickly before they both pounded me to matchsticks. The northern frigates would hopefully draw fire and do something effective, like screening my rear. While I think the plan was solid, my setup was flawed in hindsight, but more on that to come. After turn one:

Two fleets on stunties means no shooting as ships creep forward. As usual, I've created a bottleneck for my ships and forced my hand on activations. This is something I need to correct in the future. The first exchange:

Some fire between my frigates and one of the battleships. The cruisers also joined in, but I managed only two points on the battleship.

In return EV cuts down one of my northern frigates. I have my revenge though. My battleship unloads a broadside into the cruisers and...

Kaboom! Magazine explosion on one of the Shroud cruisers. This didn't do as much damage as I'd hoped. It dinged EV's other cruisers and battleship, and also took out another of my northern frigates, but I had hoped for more. After the second turn:

At this point I'm starting to see the flaw in my setup. My battleship, the slowest ship in my fleet, is at the end of the line. All the escorts, save the one remaining northern frigate, are ahead of the battleship and steaming on further ahead. I'm still hopeful at this point, thinking I might be able to take out the cruisers and some frigates before the battleship engages with the Shroud battleships.

My northern frigates bite the dust. You'll notice the lack of damage on the Shroud cruisers.  EV drew a repair card, something I failed to do all game long, and fixed up most of the damage the magazine explosion did. Very disappointing. My battleship crits a cruiser in return, stopping it from shooting in the next turn.

The Shroud battleships join the fight. One of my cruisers goes down as a result.

End turn three

I win initiative and move my battleship first. I had a bit of a decision about what to do against the cruisers. In the end I decided to focus on the undamaged one in an attempt to blow it up, ignoring the second cruiser because it couldn't fire this turn and wouldn't get close enough to ram.

My tactic works and the Shroud cruiser squadron is down to one model. I'm hoping to be able to keep trucking my battleship along in the next turn, clearing enough of the island to broadside the battleships while finishing off the remaining cruiser with the aft guns.

The other Shroud battleship moves up and takes out a frigate. I hatch a mad plan at this point and launch a daring maneuver.

My frigates thread the needle between the battleships and do...nothing. The left battleship was down to two hull points, so I was hoping for a crit to take it out.

Instead that battleship "accidentally" turns into one of my frigates, with predictable results, and does a point to one of my cruisers. End of turn four:

I'm not feeling good about my chances here. My plot to take out one of the battleships quickly hasn't gone to plan, and worse my battleship is stranded in the middle of the board with no support. I'm down to a single frigate, a banged-up battleship, and two mostly intact cruisers. I'm facing a heavily damaged battleship, a dinged battleship, a damaged cruiser and a full frigate squadron. I hope to win initiative so I can move my battleship out, wishing I'd saved the +3 to initiative roll card I played the turn before. I don't win initiative, leading to...

This is the end of the game. I kept on playing, but this was it.  EV rams my battleship and both vessels de-crew each other in the resulting boarding action. Now I'm down to a frigate and two cruisers, all of which are perilously close to two battleships.

A brief moment of victory. I played the Full Broadside card here and shot a cruiser at each battleship. This is the roll against the damaged one, which blew up spectacularly. The other cruiser was not as successful.

EV takes revenge for his destroyed battleship by taking out a cruiser. I'm done at this point, but I have a rake lined up on the battleship and want to see how it plays out. End of turn five, rotated because it happens sometimes:

I win initiative and snake my cruiser in behind the battleship. I do a single point of damage and in return EV sinks my cruiser. I concede at this point, with the final result looking like this:

I think my plan was sound. If I had swapped the battleship and the southern frigates in my setup, I think it might have worked. As it was, my battleship got left behind and picked apart. Because my battleship never got to fire on EV's battleships, I didn't get the early damage in I needed to make up the difference, and his two battleships did away with my cruisers and single frigate squadron like you'd imagine. Even had my plan worked, I think it would have been an uphill battle. The battleships are tough, have a ton of guns, and are a bargain compared to smaller ships. The forum chatter is that you build a fleet by making out on battleships and then filling points, and I think they're probably right. I'm hoping not, as I want to expand with something other than a battleship, but I don't want to put myself behind the 8-ball until the second round of reinforcements by not clubbing up. Effectiveness or flavor? The constant struggle.

Reinforcements in mind, I think we're going to go up to 650 points in June, which gives me about 150 points to play with. I'd like to add either heavy cruisers or submarines, but I'll have to give a long look at a battleship/flagship or an airship. I'd rather not double up on battleships, and I'd like to go with a relative horde of smaller ships instead of loading up on big ships, but it looks like that may not be a valid tactic. I want to get in at least a game per week in general, so I'll have at least one more before it's time for reinforcements and hopefully more, though school will have a big say in that.

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