Thursday, May 27, 2010

US Battle Report - If At First You Don't Succeed

Another day, another battle.  EV and I were back at it today, battling across the waves with our dual flavors of stunties. In our continuing attempts to get a handle on what ships really cost, EV's list changed one more time. Mine remained the same: everything that comes in the starter fleet box.

Iron Dwarves:
Battleship - 120
3 Cruisers - 150
3 Frigates - 105
3 Frigates - 105
480 total

Shroud Mages:
Battleship - 110
Battleship - 110
3 Cruisers - 165
3 Frigates - 90
475 total

The point has been made a couple times on the Spartan forums that battleships are 1 for each complete 400 point increment (meaning 1 at 400-799, 2 at 800-1199 and so forth), and as such EV's list isn't exactly kosher. I'm ok with that. You can't always pick your battles, and I figure if I can cope with being at a "disadvantage" then when the field is level I'll have that much easier of a time with it. Plus I like a challenge from time to time. EV  has committed to fitting into the guidelines in our first expansion, so it'll be a non-issue in the future anyway. For now, the battle at hand. Setups are as such:

Attentive readers will notice that my forces are on the left in these pictures. I told EV I wanted to see how the other half lives, so we swapped sides. I had a vague plan of rounding the large island and trying to split up EV's ships in the process, trying to keep my fleet together this time and covering my rear with some frigates. Not too much happened in the first turn, as is the usual. I had a frigate get pinged and did some ineffectual long-range shooting of my own, resulting in this:

Now the fury builds. I lose the already damaged frigate to a battleship. This battle saw a lot of long ranged fire, a definite change from our past battles.

There are some other pings. I try, unsuccessfully, to keep some room for maneuvering between my ships. I love creating a traffic jam, and this game was no exception. After turn two:

I'm already doubting my plan at this point. My frigates are way out in the open and have quite a run to get behind cover. It's too early for despair though, and things soon turn a little brighter for me.  EV brings his frigates into the space where I plan to run my whole fleet, and I take one out with my cruisers.

Then I take another out with some frigates.

Unfortunately, my other frigate squadron is caught in the open, with predictable results.

I'm starting to feel a little better here. Our fleets are getting ready to circle each other around the island, or so I think.  EV will have a time trying to swing his battleships around to get in front of my fleet, though he could get lucky with his extra speed rolls and run around faster than I can. In any case, most of my fleet is under cover, or close enough. End of turn three:

EV rams his frigate into mine, the first ramming action of many. We do no damage in ramming, and my crew wipes his out with no loss. I prize his frigate, a first for either of us. We cast about for a prize marker for a minute before I figure yellow looks something like gold, which is prize worthy, and employ a yellow die as a marker.

Outside of the prizing, not much happens.  EV begins pouring fire into the lone frigate, but its small size saves it from most of the harm. This, along with the ramming, will set the pattern for the fight. Of note, EV drops anchor on his northern battleship, the first time either of us has used this technique. He's setting up shop, waiting for me to come around the island in future turns. End of turn four:

Here I figure I'm being clever, maneuvering so that I can get a broadside off on a cruiser with my battleship as I head behind the island. I reason that because the ship is in my firing arc, but I can't draw a center to center line, I'll get half dice on my shot. We later figure out that you have to have LoS from the center of the firing ship to some part of the target, which clearly isn't the case here. Unfortunately for the Shroud cruiser, we figure this out after it is blown away.

I'm starting to worry again.  EV is pursuing quickly and once again I've managed to have my battleship lag behind. I do have a frigate for cover, but it's just the one and it's already damaged. I'm very much worried about taking a ram, or multiple rams, from behind. I hope to power ahead with the battleship while creeping along with my cruisers to try and correct this problem, but that will take a while to come to fruition. I'm also worried about the frigates with the prize, who are making a dash for cover in an attempt to come up behind the Shrouds and start raking. I hope their small size saves them. A randomly rotated end of turn five shot:

And here it comes. My cover frigate gets rammed into oblivion. My plan to bring the cruisers behind the battleship is obviously going awry and I've managed to create one amazing traffic jam with them. I'm staring down a battleship and two cruisers just itching, I'm sure, to start ramming my battleship from behind. Not looking good. On the plus side, my frigates are back in ball-nipping mode, dropping anchor and setting up shop behind (where the Shroud battleship has no guns) to rake and rake until there's nothing left to rake.

Here's the turning point of the battle.  EV follows his ramming success with another ram, his battleship on my cruiser. He crits it in the ram, which is unsurprising, and decrews it in the boarding action, which is also expected. My dwarves do themselves proud though, and leave a single crew alive on the Shroud battleship. EV prizes my cruiser, but at what cost? Of cold comfort to me, but comfort all the same, the loss of one of my cruisers helps to alleviate the traffic jam somewhat. Why is this shot rotated? Because it is. I really need to look into why this is happening.

I'm feeling better here. The anchored battleship has been waiting for me to break cover for two turns now, but with the frigates parked behind EV pulls the anchor up before my battleship comes out from behind the island. I've succeeded in splitting his battleships up by going around the island, which pleases me greatly. His other battleship is perilously under-dwarved, but he still has two cruisers closing in on the tempted aft of my battleship. Things are looking up, but they can still go south in a hurry. End of turn 6:

EV wanted me to note that after he nearly decrewed his battleship, he started ramming on general principle. He drives a cruiser into my battleship's flank, but the collisons crits it, which sends it to the bottom. The other cruiser had been reduced to half speed some turns before and we'd misapplied the repair rules. I thought there was no repair option, having managed to miss the repair column of the crit chart entirely.  EV noticed this after his cruiser smashed itself on my battleship. Since he'd missed out on previous opportunities, he rolled two dice to see if it would repair, which it did. Another rotated shot, this time of the impact:

This is the other big turning point of the battle.  EV rolls his battleship out after being anchored...and turns away from my battleship. I'm gobsmacked, figuring I'm about to have a battleship cutting off my line of advance.  EV later explained that he would have run aground on the island, which he probably would have. He said he checked with the template a few times, but I must have missed them, or thought he was checking his field of fire for when my battleship came into view. Either way, he turns the opposite way of what I had expected and takes out a frigate, but exposes his rear in the process.

Now the end of one battleship. My cruisers fire on it, hoping to decrew it. I get a crit and get a crew damage result, leaving the ship adrift. I'm very pleased at this point, though the rotation of the picture leaves me unhappy now.

I'm very confident at this point. My battleship is undamaged, I have two cruisers and a frigate left.  EV is down to a damaged battleship and a damaged cruiser. Still, his cruiser could conceivably run down my battleship and ram it in the rear, and I'm all too aware of how poorly a boarding action could go. Still, I'm more concerned about getting to his deserted battleship to prize it. I look at the prizing rules and don't see anything about impact hits, so I assume EV will get there first with his cruiser. We figure it out later, and I'm wrong, but that's what I'm thinking at this point. End of turn 7:

I clear my battleship out and do nothing, despite throwing down a shooting card, while raking EV's battleship with my own. He responds in the manner most appropriate: ramming. He damages my cruiser pretty good, but in the ensuing boarding action I again wipe out his crew with no loss of my own. I've read a bunch on the forums about how it's a good idea to put two damage on a cruiser so they have a chance of sinking themselves in a ramming action, and now I'm seeing just how effective that is, if only in theory.

The still operational Shroud ship blows up my last frigate, depriving me of one prize.

I take it right back though, and in spades. I nearly destroy my own cruiser in the process, critting it and wrecking the setting it adrift.  EV concedes at this point, then immediately thinks better of it and we press on. I'm concerned about my cruiser drifting off the board, but am hopeful of repairing the damage next turn.

End of turn 8. The final showdown is in the works.

I miss a turn 9 shot, but you can infer what happens. I shoot at his battleship, doing some damage, while trying to keep my distance. He closes on my battleship. Next turn EV wins the initiative and rams me, but the collision sends his ship to the bottom. It was a fitting end of the game.

My survivors and their prizes.

After the decimation of my battleship in a boarding action in our last game, I had been very worried about being boarded again and tried to stay at range to avoid it if at all possible. Obviously it wasn't possible to avoid, but this time things worked out better for me. My initiative rolls were consistently horrible, 1 or 2 in all cases except for a single 4, but the good rolls came out on collisions and boarding actions. I'd like to credit the victory to my tactics of splitting up his battleships, but luck played a large part as well. A highly entertaining game, one which left us both smiling, which is always nice.

Plans are in place for the reinforcements, which will be on Tuesday. I may try to get the Warstore order in sooner than that, to account for shipping, but with the holiday things likely won't arrive before Tuesday as it is. I know what I'm going to get, baring a last minute change of mind, but I think EV is still considering. Better news is that we have a third, and therefore a fourth, player in what I can now call our mini-league. Scheduling never works like you'd hope, but hopefully I'll get some games in with the others, and I'd like to get a big four way game in at some point.

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