Pre-script: Having gone through to the backlog here to make all the tags synch up, this first paragraph doesn't make much sense if you're coming here for the first time. I'm sure you can figure things out.
First things first, HMcT has surfaced online as Etna's Vassal. I've since been informed that Etna is a character from Disgaea, so adjust your knowledge as such. He'll be referred to as EV from here out, at least as long as I remember it myself.
Another US battle today, this morning being my best opening for gaming this week. Class ends next week, so there'll be more opportunities soon enough. There may even be some Khadoran action in the near future. EV was very pleased about finally having a legal fleet for this battle. I made the slight adjustment of running one squadron of frigates instead of two.
Fleets were as such:
Battleship - 120
Airship - 85
Cruiser/Heavy Cruiser squadron - 135
Cruiser/Heavy Cruiser squadron - 135
Kraken - 35
4 Frigate squadron - 140
Flagship - 155
2 Heavy Cruisers squadron - 150
3 Cruisers squadron - 165
3 Frigate squadron - 90
3 Frigate squadron - 90
Going into this game I had intended to attack on an angle so I could fire my broadsides on the way in instead of approaching head-on. Unfortunately the terrain, which I set up myself, precluded this tactic for the most part. Mark it down for next time. As is becoming standard for me, I wanted to navigate around an island. This time though I wanted to pinch EV in the middle, which meant splitting up my forces. My setup:
EV split his heavy cruisers far off on the flank, which was somewhat troubling, but I wasn't too worried. They were far enough over that I figured I had time to deal with them later. EV's setup:
The fleets in context.
As usual, turn 1 didn't do a whole lot. I had intentionally set up behind islands to avoid turn 1 shooting from EV's flagship, which mostly worked. He shot up the bluff token, but the actual sub (the northern one) was unscathed.
My northern cruisers crit EV's heavy cruiser, locking up the steering.
EV responds with a crit on the regular cruiser, knocking out its guns for the next turn.
And his frigates tack another point on. I decided to use the now heavily damaged cruiser as a shield for the heavy, as I figured the squadron would be taking fire from the entire SM fleet in the next turn. Note the saucy sub, taunting the heavy cruisers with its presence.
EV's flagship puts a crit on my battleship from range, hitting the bridge and leaving me to drift 2" the next turn. I had the repair crits card in my hand, but it doesn't cover bridge hits.
Missed an end of turn 2 shot, so we're into turn 3 here. My cruisers have moved up, the damaged one assuming the meat shield position. I had fired on the heavy cruisers to no effect when they activated. The frigates polish off the cruiser, which thankfully doesn't explode.
End of turn 3. There was so much action, I had to blur the picture to show just how much action there was. That's the kind of extra step I take in producing these things. You can see I've started pinging the SM flagship. With just one big ship to concentrate on, it took a lot of pot shots from my dwarves.
My heavy cruiser gets some revenge by taking out a frigate. It was less revenge than I had hoped for though, considering I got to fire both broadsides for perhaps the first time in my US career. The starboard broadside and turret didn't even scratch the SM heavy.
And the inevitable ram. My boys had a decent showing, taking out 4 SM sailors, but were wiped out in return and EV prized my heavy.
I make a good counter though, hammering the SM flagship from the rear with Red Hot Shot, setting fire to the flagship when I damaged it. This may be the first time I've played a gunnery card and actually had it do something.
The SM heavy cruisers come around behind my ships and take out a frigate. This was the first of many situations where I was surprised that EV didn't shoot my battleship.
My still-living cruiser squadron comes around behind the flagship and continues the pounding. I caused a fire crit, giving it 2 fire tokens and taking it down to 2 hull points.
I considered bringing the frigates to the middle to try and finish off the flagship. I figured that with 2 fire tokens, an airship, and a cruiser squadron waiting to finish it off, the frigates could do something else. So they cut around hard and pinged a heavy cruiser. End of turn 4.
EV played a repair card that put out both fires. I was skeptical that the card would douse both, but upon reading it I agreed. In the end it didn't matter as my cruiser steamed ahead and put it on the bottom.
EV sends in the heavies to make short work of my frigates. He double rams the one, which I assume is both to take it out and set up raking shots on my battleship.
Unsurprisingly my frigate is destroyed by the double ram. What I hadn't expected was for EV to fire on a second frigate and neglect my battleship. I asked him later why he didn't shoot my battleship here, to which he replied that he wanted the frigates out of the way.
The Kraken surfaces and takes a cruiser in the rear. I played Iron Shod Pointy End, which made it a red ram and allowed a crit, which started another fire. There was a lot of fire going around in the game. I made my crash dive roll, hence the two bluff tokens. The top one is the actual sub.
EV brings in his frigates to finish off mine. This seemed like a good use of the frigates, though I still wonder why he didn't hammer my battleship with the cruisers.
My battleship comes around and lays into a heavy cruiser, giving it a Hard Pounding.
EV brings his cruisers around to fire on my airship. As he was doing so, he declared that he had to take it out, so I figured he'd concentrate fire on it. More on that later. Note the prized heavy cruiser on the island.
I was feeling pretty good at this point. I'd taken out the flagship and EV's cruiser squadron was pretty banged up. I had a couple dings, in addition to being down a frigate and cruiser squadron, but my battleship was coming around to hammer the heavy cruisers and my airship and cruiser squadron was ready to take out EV's cruisers and continue down into his heavys and frigates. End of turn 5.
The Kraken pooped up and rammed another cruiser, then my cruisers followed up with some gunning. I played Ball and Grape on my regular cruiser in an attempt to decrew his middle cruiser, but EV played some "you can't shoot this ship" card, to which I had no counter. My heavy did take out the lead cruiser though.
My battleship continues to lay into the SM heavies, taking one out. I should have been worried at the collision course of the two ships here, but it escaped me at the time.
The airship floats along and takes out another cruiser.
EV decides on a gang-bang and sends an entire frigate squadron to ram my Kraken. He did two points to it in a crit, but didn't manage to sink it.
I'm in mop-up mode at this point. This has been a problem for me before, so I try and stay on top of things. Meanwhile EV has fallen prey to what I'm trying to avoid with moves like the triple ram. End of turn 6.
My cruiser squadron comes around to take out his remaining cruiser. I mistake dice colors though and fire on a ship that has 4 crew and no hull damage instead of a ship with 4 hull damage and no crew damage. Of course if it had 4 hull damage it'd be sunk, but that didn't occur to me. This set up the inevitable ram. EV asked me to note that he rammed because he'd roll more ram dice than firing dice, which is a valid point. He could have taken out my heavy cruiser, but as it worked out I decrewed him for no loss myself. I retook the heavy he had prized and took his cruiser as a prize myself.
The airship drops the bomb. I manage to destroy my Kraken and a single frigate. The bomb was much less impressive with a magazine explosion to go with it. I was careful to drop the bomb in such a way as to not catch my cruisers in the blast. Note the SM cruiser on prize island, where my heavy cruiser used to be.
Missed the end of turn 7, so this is the end of turn 7 and the game in one shot. EV's heavy rammed my battleship. Neither ship was destroyed or decrewed, but EV conceded there all the same. He had wanted to see how the ram would go, and honestly it was a foregone conclusion a turn or two before as it was.
My losses, plus the prize. There was the odd point or two of damage on a few ships as well, but a good result all the same.
I definitely had an easier go this time facing just the flagship. I guess all the heavy lifting paid off. As I noted, EV's lack of shooting at my battleship when he had the opportunity puzzled me. While he probably wouldn't have sunk it, he would have tacked some damage on and may have gotten a lucky crit or pinged it down eventually. While it would be hard to call that the turning point when the clear turning point was the destruction of the SM flagship, I think this neglect was the nail in the coffin.
Once again my frigates didn't do a whole lot, but they did distract EV enough that he didn't fire on my battleship, so there was that. I liked the larger linked shots from running a single squadron of 4 instead of two squadrons of 2, so I'll probably continue that in the future.
The Kraken worked as well as I could have hoped in this game. I got off two successful rams on cruisers. While neither of these rams directly sunk their targets, they did a significant amount of damage. The sub also drew in some frigates and set them up for a bombing run. While that didn't work out too well either, overall I was very happy with the sub's performance in this game. I'm considering even more than before running a pair of them, though I think I'll wait until the subs themselves are painted so I can more easily distinguish which ship is damaged, if any of them are damaged. The Kraken absorbed a lot of fire and the 5+ surface hits and 6 submerged hits worked very well.
Speaking of absorbing fire well, the airship took a lot of shots as well, and the 5+ worked well there too. Though I'd intended to keep the airship in the midst of my fleet before the game, it worked effectively as it was. Perhaps it was because it had a cruiser squadron for company instead of frigates this time. Whatever the case, it worked very well and I didn't feel it was undergunned as I had in the last game. As with the Krakens, I'm seriously considering expanding to a 2 or 3 ship squadron here as well.
Expansion is still a few weeks off, but it's never too soon to start considering. Since we're entering the 2 big ship bracket, another battleship or perhaps a flagship will be in order. While I had been thinking to expand to 800 previously, the combinations at 800 are convoluted at best, so I may propose a 900/1200/1500 progression instead of the 800/1000/1200 I had been thinking of previously. Destoyer models should be available by then, so those will be under consideration as well. I'm leaning towards a battleship and some cruisers at this point, but we'll see where I'm at when the time comes.
Custom case update. While I've had holes for the new additions since last week, I finally took a picture today.