Sunday, August 15, 2010

US Battle Report - Piled with Pictures, part 3

Last time in the super-long 750 point battle report it started to hit the fan.  While the fleets have engaged, the Shrouds are poised to slip around the SE island and put a temporary halt to the violence.  But will the Iron Dwarves let their prey escape?  Are the Shrouds moving to flank, or are their motives more sinister?  Lots, though not all, shall be revealed in this installment.

Starting here I seem to be missing some pictures.  The battery in my camera started going bad, so it's possible that it didn't save all the pictures.  I ran the battery until it died before switching, so perhaps in the future I'll swap before it dies and see if that helps.  It's also possible I just forgot to take a picture here and there, but I was pretty thorough, especially considering that pictures everywhere was part of the exercise.

EV starts by inching his cruiser forward and putting another point on my central heavy.  I actually forgot to take a close-up for this one, and didn't remember to take this shot until I had moved half of my frigates.

Turn 5. SM 1

As teased in the above picture, I moved my frigates with the same intention as in the last turn: getting them to where I think the fight will be in turns to come while also getting a shot away in the process.  The result is one squadron destroyed.

Another squadron down.

Having lost the Ripper in turn 4 and now his southern frigate squadron, EV is down to 4 squads and thus 4 cards.  I'm still at 6 squadrons, though one is just a single heavy with a single hull point remaining.

Turn 5, ID 1
EV sends in the flagship to finish off my heavy, and finish off one of my squadrons as well.

Keyhole shooting works wonders.

EV is again inching his ships forward, seeming to hold back on his flanking action to get a couple more parting shots off.  This is something I have done many times myself and now try to guard against.  While you get another shot or two off by hesitating, you also take another turn or two of fire and can potentially spread your fleet out too thin.

Turn 5, SM 2

With no more targets on the western side of the board, I turn the airship around to bring it back into the game.  I figure I can keep it covered behind the SE island and hope to pop out from behind it and bomb something in a turn or two.  This is a bit of pushing wood on my end, but I want to wait for EV's frigates to move in so I can get closer shots off.

Turn 5, ID 2
The Shroud heavy cruisers steam forward and deal a point to an ID frigate.

SM heavies join the fight at long last.
 Halfway through turn 5, EV's heavy cruisers finally enter the battle.  This is why I wonder why EV keeps sending them on these long, long flanking moves.  While they are undeniably effective when closing on a big ship late in the game, they're effectively the same cost as a flagship and keeping that many points out of action for so long is a bad trade in my book.

Turn 5, SM 3

I continue realigning my fleet for a meeting in the SE.  I bring my battleship around and start working on the flagship, putting a point on it at range.

I thought about splitting fire into the frigates and destroyer, but I was hoping the Holed Below would take care of the destroyer.  I also planned to send my destroyers in to work on the frigates, figuring they'd have an easy time of it at close range.

Turn 5, ID 3
EV activates his frigates and, sure enough, his destroyer succumbs to the Hole Below.  The remaining frigates do a point to one of my destroyers.

The clash in the SE begins.

I was happy when the destroyer sank as it validated my decision to ignore it.  Also it was another SM ship down.  EV avoided blocking in his flagship and cruiser by activating the frigates after those ships had already moved.

Turn 5, SM 4
 I decided that the SM cruiser could end up too close to my battleship for comfort, so it became my next target.  My damaged cruiser squadron only managed a point of damage at RB2.

Back to the center?

This was a brain fart for me.  I meant to send these cruisers with the rest of my ships, yet inexplicably kept them moving into the center, where the fight had been but was no more.  I realized this too late, and also realized that I didn't have enough room to turn around without some fancy steering.

Turn 5, ID 4

I hold an activation advantage now, so I get to follow my questionable cruiser move by moving my destroyers.  I lined my ships up carefully once again to ensure that I had maximum coverage.  Judging by the results, I must have had 1-2 at RB2, but regardless of the range my destroyers should have done better.  One frigate down and another damaged was all I got though.

Another lackluster firing by the destroyers.

Despite my advantages in activations and hand size, I don't feel as good at the end of turn 5 as I should.  By botching my cruiser movement, I'm primed to face what remains of the Shroud fleet with a battleship and a squadron of destroyers.  I can easily envision my destroyers getting overrun and my battleship boarded in short order.  Hopefully that doesn't happen before I can bring down the rest of my ships.

End of turn 5, ID 5

The start of turn 6 didn't make me feel better about my chances with EV repairing his cruiser somewhat.

At least it was only 2 points repaired.

EX quickly clears his potential roadblock, sending his frigates in against my destroyers and doing a point to one.

Tight squeeze.
At this point I told EV I wanted a tailwhip action so I could bump a frigate with my destroyer on the way past and push the smaller ship into the island.

Turn 6, SM 1
My frigates keep on with their pattern: move towards the fight, shoot on the way.  I get a rake setup and decide to take two linked shots instead of one big one.  The result is a single point of damage.

Many shots, a single point of damage.
My dice went a bit cold in the middle of the game.  Nothing major, but enough that I adjusted my mental formulas for when to link and when to fire multiple shots.

Turn 6, ID 1

Another missing picture.  EV moved his cruiser forward and didn't do any damage with it.  I responded by sending in the destroyers.  I read somewhere that they're supposed to do well against cruisers.  Once again, I carefully positioned them to get full shots with each one.  I didn't make the adjustment from single shots to linking yet, so I took 2 5AD shots and one 6AD shot.  The result?  One point of damage.

The only thing they destroy is my patience for them.
In the wake of their disastrous shooting, my destroyers are flapping in the wind, staring down a flagship.

Turn 6, ID 2

Sure enough, in comes the flagship to mop up the destroyers.

SM flagship knows how to shoot.  Take notes destroyers.
I was surprised that EV didn't ram one of the destroyers.  He later said he didn't want some freak dice occurrence to decrew his flagship in a failed ram/boarding action.  A bit conservative, but I can't really blame him.

Turn 6, SM 3

I move my battleship forward a bit and put another point on the flagship.

Point by point, it adds up.

I want to stay well away from the Shroud ships until support arrives, so I don't move my full distance.  I need to get better at having my big ships hang back and fire more.

Turn 6, ID 3
 EV is left with just his heavy cruisers, who finish off the frigate they damaged last turn.

One slightly over-matched frigate down.
 I'm considering options for my battleship now.  My ships are far too spread out and I won't be able to bring them back together for a while yet.

Turn 6, SM 4
 I have a choice with my cruisers: turn them around like I planned to do last turn, or send them through the middle and make do with what I have.  Since the Shroud ships are faster than mine, I decide to turn them around as they might get back into the fight quicker that way.

Turn 6, ID 4
Which leaves the airship.  It's well away from the fight, so I plot a course that leaves it mostly behind cover and will hopefully put it where the action is in a turn or two.

End of turn 6, ID 5
I'm good and outnumbered in the SE now, and in general really.  While my frigates are still mostly intact, I'm down to a pair of cruisers, one of which is fairly damaged.  EV has a pair of pristine heavy cruisers and his flagship isn't too damaged yet.  Positioning is worse though, as I effectively have my battleship to face off against all the Shroud ships for the next turn or two.

I start turn 7 by playing a repair card on my cruiser.  It fixes the hull damage, but not the crew damage, so while the ship itself is sounder now it is no more effective.

EV wins the initiative and puts the destroyers out of my misery.

Here comes the ramming.
Now my battleship is officially alone in the SE.  Not the best situation ever.

Turn 7, SM 1
I finally figure out the shooting thing for this part of the game.  I send in my frigates, officially in ball-nipping mode, and link them all together.  The result is some kind of movement crit that results in a slower heavy cruiser.

Commence ball-nipping.
Stranded, stranded battleship.

Turn 7, ID 1
EV promptly fixes the movement penalty on his heavy, then moves them and damages a frigate.

A small portion of revenge.
 I hoped the half move of the heavy would keep that squad back a bit, but no such luck.  Now EV has his ships properly together, while mine are flung across the board.

Turn 7, SM 2
 I change my mind about changing course with my cruisers and send them through the middle after all.  The heavy has a bad angle, but between the cruiser and the heavy's turret they deal another point to the damaged SM heavy.

Maybe I'll send them this way after all.

While my cruisers are closer to the Shroud ships now, they're further away from my battleship.

Turn 7, ID 2
I missed some more pictures.  EV moved his frigate, which didn't do much.  I move my battleship and fire on the SM cruiser, hoping to sink it before it can ram my battleship.  This doesn't quite work, but I do manage to put another point on it.

Shoot the smaller one!

 I move the airship up and start to eye a spot as likely for a gathering of SM ships.  My non-battleships are poised to start raking the SM fleet, but they'll be doing so while that fleet rushes my battleship.  Not the best position ever.

End of turn 7, many activations
In looking at these pictures now, I think EV may not have moved his flagship.  It doesn't appear to have changed position.  I can't imagine we would have missed something like that though, so maybe he just crept it forward somewhere that I haven't noticed.  Looking more closerly, he did move it as it changed position from the end of turn 6.  I guess I just didn't get a picture of it.

With 7 turns in the books, the endgame is approaching fast.  I've managed to turn a solid advantage into an even fight at best points-wise, and a distinct disadvantage in positioning.  Will I pull victory from the jaws of defeat?  Or will EV pound my battleship quickly, then turn on the rest of my fleet?  Find out in the final installment of this most visual of all battle reports.

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