Today was the last battle at 650 before we bump up to 900 in July (provided that EV's Rippers show up by then of course). The last couple games have been a real turkey shoot that haven't been good for either of us, but today's battle was tightly contested and entertaining throughout. We also only had one or two rules questions, so we're learning the game better as well. This is also the last battle on a 4'x4' board; we'll be going to 6'x4' for 900 points. There should also be a new, blue "table" for next time as well. So much change in the future. In the present, things stayed the same on the list front. Next time I'll post updated lists.
We did a variation on random terrain this time. We still rolled for each island, but placed them by hand, alternating placers between pieces. We ended up with 4 islands again, which I thought was rather sparse. I asked EV if he didn't want to put more out, thinking more terrain might work better for him, but he declined. We both ended up setting our pieces in the other's half of the table, which I didn't realize until just now. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but I set up with an eye towards the middle. I figured EV would shoot the gap between the two southern-most islands, so I deployed to try and bring the bulk of my fleet west across the table so I could broadside him as he turned to come after me. I put one cruiser squadron at the northern end of my line to loop around the island there and come over the top, hoping to get some rakes in when the fleets had engaged. The top sub marker is the real one.
As usual, not a lot going on in turn 1. As has become my custom, I tried to hide as much stuff as possible behind terrain to avoid RB4 shots on the first turn, and I did pretty well. EV nearly had a shot with his heavies on my southern cruisers, but he was just out of range. End of turn 1.
EV moved his northern frigates up to take a potshot at me, so I responded by sending my own frigates in. This advanced them a little further than I normally would have liked, but they had enough support that I wasn't too worried about it. I sent one to the bottom.
EV moved his other frigates up for more potshots. This time I sent some cruisers after them and managed to sink another.
I fired on the same frigates with the airship as well, but only did a point to one. It's a bit of a trick to just damage a frigate, as it doesn't take much to crit, and therefore destroy, one of them. EV is sending his heavy cruisers on a wide flanking maneuver again. It can be effective when it works, but it takes them out of the fight for a few turns, which is a good trade for me. I've been careful to activate my battleship before my southern cruisers so it can get a shot off before the cruisers come in to screen it. End of turn 2.
My frigates put an end to EV's northern frigates. When I make lists, I tend to take the big ships, then add cruisers, then fill whatever is left with frigates. I should reconsider, as ID frigates are terribly effective. The 4 ship squadron that I'm running can potentially pump 11 AD into something at RB1, which is nothing to sneeze at. I've split my fire here, linking pairs of ships to make sure I finish off the Shroud frigates.
EV brings his remaining frigates around for some vengeance, but only does a point to one of them. My flanking cruisers destroy one in return.
EV succeeds in taking out one of my ships, blasting a poor frigate apart with his mean, stinky flagship.
He follows that up by hitting a heavy cruiser with his foreguns, giving it a Hard Pounding. His flagship can be an absolute monster at times. I can't wait until mine hits the seas.
I change approaches with my battleship and turn it to the south. I'm hoping to broadside the center, then start shooting the heavy cruisers as the round the southern island. I land a crit on EV's flagship, knocking out 5 AD worth of guns from his port broadsides. Things are going well for me at this point and I hope that my plan will work out. End of turn 3.
I make my first blunder at the start of turn 4. I win initiative, which never happens. Moreso, I do it by playing Upper Hand and then rolling well when I've played a card, which really never happens. I blame this amazing turn of fortune for what happened. I noticed my airship was in striking distance of EV's cruisers and flagship. I did some measuring and figured I was just barely in range of the flagship, so I pounce. I would have liked to have caught the cruisers as well, but I'll take 10 AD on his flagship. When I move the model and get ready to drop the bomb, I find I'm now out of range of everything. I managed to place my model in such a way that the shot I thought I had, I didn't actually have. So the airship gets shot up for no real effect. I probably ding a cruiser, and maybe the flagship, but I take 2 hull damage in return. Not a good trade. I'm so distraught, I don't take a picture of this blunder.
EV crits my damaged heavy again, taking it down to 1 remaining hull. I consider ramming the frigate, but I don't think I can quite swing it, so I send in my southern cruisers to blast the flagship, then follow that up with some fire from my battleship. I don't crit it, but I am whittling it down.
EV's frigates, or frigate at this point, finally does something useful, raking my heavy cruiser and finishing it off.
My flanking cruiser get some revenge and finish the frigate off. I'm starting to turn them now, though the threat in the center has yet to materialize. I'm sticking to that part of my plan though, so they're coming around over the top.
Looking at this picture, I should have kept my battleship in more. It's off by itself on the eastern edge. Granted most of the Shroud fleet would have to run quite the fire corridor, over a couple turns, to get to my battleship, but the undamaged heavy cruisers are coming around the island and getting ready to rejoin the fight. Things are going well enough in the middle, and I'm pouring fire into the flagship, but none of EV's cruisers are damaged. I still feel good about my prospects here, but I recognize the threat waiting for me and know that things could turn on me quickly. End of turn 4.
EV actually helped me drop the bomb in a better place. I had figured he would have focused on the airship when he had the golden opportunity to do so, but instead it lingered around and the Shrouds didn't really maneuver out of its way. With those circumstances in place, I couldn't do anything but drop the bomb on them. I got the whole cruiser squadron and the flagship as a result. I didn't sink anything, but I damaged all the cruisers (and set one on fire), and also took the flagship down to 1 hull remaining. Since we figured out I could, I shoot things up as well. I do love that airship. For some reason, I don't get a picture of the bomb. Probably because nothing sank.
Of note, I had figured up a list that would have taken out the airship. It has given EV fits in every game, and I think it demoralizes him a bit just by being on the table. I offered to run this airship-less list, but he said he would have to learn how to deal with it sooner or later, so it might as well be sooner. I couldn't agree more.
In response to the bomb dropping, EV sent his flagship after some frigates. I had hoped to do a point of impact damage and sink it, but it didn't work out. EV sank my frigate, then finished off the cruiser that had already been softened up by his own cruisers.
The middle is pretty open now, so my plan to dominate the center hasn't worked out so well. You'll also notice the template in front of my cruisers in the last pic, and under one in this pic. I didn't have any counters this turn, and didn't have any the previous turn either, so EV actually got to cast some spells. I forget what this one was exactly, but as you can see it damaged my heavy as it went through the template. The squadron did its job all the same, finishing off the Shroud flagship.
After having had the bomb dropped and losing his flagship, EV would have started on a downward spiral previously. This time though, he remained chipper and ready for battle. It's easy to see why. I've managed to isolate my battleship. While it has only suffered a single point of crew damage, it's sitting in a place where it can be rammed by two different cruiser squadrons. I moved it up past the heavy cruisers to avoid a ram, or so I hoped, and the regular cruisers were dinged from the bomb, but it was still a bad place to be in. I'm confident all the same, since I still have my big ship. End of turn 5.
And then disaster strikers. I thought I had moved far enough past the Shroud heavies to avoid taking a ram, but apparently I didn't move far enough. I get double rammed and, as expected, decrewed. I'm significantly less confident now.
Sitting and worrying never helped anyone, so I send my cruisers after the Shroud cruisers in the middle. I link to take out the middle one and manage a triple crit on 12 AD, rolling a total of 21 hits. I'm hoping for a Magazine Explosion here, and even played Well-Aimed Shot to try and get that double 1, but to no avail. The ship is just very, very dead.
My glee is short lived, as I have once again mis-judged ramming distance. The Shroud cruisers ram mine, thankfully one-on-one this time. I hope I get an impact crit and sink one or both, but no luck there. My heavy and her dance partner mutually decrew each other, while the other boarding action is inconclusive.
At this point I wonder if I can shoot at a model that's engaged in a boarding action, and a quick look at the rules tells me I can. I send the airship in and finish off the cruiser. I also fire on one of the heavies because I can and do some damage to it as well. I forget to take a picture of this for some reason.
My now-freed cruiser moves out, turning around to try and draw the Shrouds on for as long as possible. I forget that my cruiser has a missing crew, so I discard the crew repair card at the end of my turn. Things looked grim after I lost my battleship, but they're back under control now. My airship is undamaged, my cruiser is nearly undamaged, and I have 2 frigates left. EV is down to two heavy cruisers, each with a single hull point remaining. Still, things can go wrong, so I don't start celebrating yet. End of turn 6.
The Shrouds give chase, attempting to run up the rear of my cruiser, but I've thought of that and made sure it was out of range. Since EV is down to one squad and I lost initiative like always, I have my whole fleet to move. The Kraken finally does something useful and sinks the rear heavy cruiser, denying the Shrouds their prize.
My airship drifts forward a bit and finishes off the other heavy.
I had considered sending in a frigate to try and prize the adrift Shroud cruiser, but I'm content with just sinking all EV's ships. The board at the end of the game:
EV looked at VPs for the game and we figured this came out to a "Minor Victory," or something of the sort. I called it entertaining. Our games have been pretty lopsided lately, so to have a good contest was a welcome change. While my plan didn't exactly work like I wanted, I still managed to turn the center into a shooting gallery. My flanking cruisers didn't work quite like I expected either, but they also got the job done. For his part, EV seemed to manage the whole "Stay spread out, but keep close together" balancing act much better this time around. He also seemed like he enjoyed the whole game, which has been far too rare of late. I think he's coming to grips with his fleet better now. His rams were timed better and appropriate for the situation, taking them when they came instead of over-extending to set one up.
I'll be adding a flagship and a pair of destroyers in the expansion, while EV will be adding two Rippers and (I presume) a battleship. I'm not looking forward to those Rippers, but I've had a monopoly on the air and below the waves for a while now, so it'll be interesting to see what it's like to deal with a sub.