Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Prussian Empire

"The Prussian Navy is expanding rapidly in the face of the threat from Britannia – indeed, it was responsible for the most audacious coup of the conflict so far; the chemical raid upon London itself. Traditionally basing its strength on aggressive cruisers and small craft in the confined waters of the North Sea and Mediterranean, the Navy has recently embarked upon a great expansion of its battleship and dreadnought strength, to challenge the Britannian strength in this area."

In this entry, I will discuss some more of my reasons for investing in the Prussian Navy, and a basic overview of the Prussian gaming style; how they differ from other fleets in the game and what makes them win games. 


Emperor-class Battleship

People are attracted to Dystopian Wars for many reasons; aesthetics will always play massive role in the fleet they choose. When looking through the different fleets of Dystopian Wars, the Prussians immediately strike the viewer as the most "modern" and "traditional" in their aesthetic. They don't have the paddle steamer look of the Americans or the steam train gimmicks of the Japanese, the fantasy skyships of France or the incredibly ornate Ottomans and Chinese. Even the Brttannian fleet is a highly exaggerated version of traditional designs compared to the Prussians. 

Of the original Core Nations, I believe this traditional design has stood the test of time better than others in the Dystopian Wars range, as Spartan Games have improved their sculpting, detail and casting processes. In my opinion, the models in the original starter boxes for Japanese and Britannians look somewhat crude compared to their more recent releases, while the American fleet has no new naval models to compare to (concentrating on new Aerial ships instead). This is not say there has been no improvement within the Prussian range - just compare the new Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser with the Reiver-class Cruiser and one can see the detail is much improved - ribbed cables, more subtle details on the tesla guns and better defined ports and doors on the deck.

Reiver-class Cruiser on the far left, with the Donnerfaust next to it

The Prussian naval models has a strong balance between detailed superstructures and the open, flat hulls, perfect to make the effort to paint camouflage or other markings. The guns have a distinct shape to them, immediately identifiable as Prussian (so much so the Danish share these turrets to maintain a visual link with their allies) while the intricate pipework and more fantastical elements (such as the generators and tesla weaponry) opens the painter to different metals and weathering techniques. 


Blucher-class Dreadnought
These details go across the size classes, from the tiny Arminius to the mighty Blucher. They are sleek ships, ready to cut through the sea and deliver their payload of boarding marines and electrical horror. This is reflected in the game, where they have distinctly average armour but some of the fastest ships available, and powerful short-ranged guns/boarding potential. An undamaged Prussian fleet at close quarters is incredibly fun to work with, but also unfortunately rare. Their shields are limited to Battleships and Dreadnoughts, and feature no special gimmicks like Ablative Armour, Retardant Armour or Cloud Generators. With no rockets or torpedoes, they have very little teeth outside of RB2, but once they get close... 


"Earning your points back"
This kind of gaming style exists in a lot of different systems; the glass hammer, the scalpel, however you consider it. I first learned to enjoy this style of play with Eldar in games of Warhammer 40,000. Incredible firepower and close combat potential, but catch them off guard and they're done for. 

Prussians have been considered one of the more difficult fleets within Dystopian Wars, especially when other fleets have stronger firepower, better armour and longer ranges. I know of more than one player who bought themselves a fleet based on the great look of the models and then became quickly disillusioned as their ships were blown out of the water before they could even fire a shot, again. There is a learning curve with them, no doubt, but once you master BOARDING, you will quickly realise the Prussians are bloody good at one of the quickest and more efficient ways to take ships out of the game and earn victory points. 


Deploy Boarding Party = Win Prizes

The strength of the Prussian fleet lies in its high AP values, and it's methods of lowering the opponents AP values. Tesla Weaponry with Lethal Strike removes crew every time damage is done. Tesla Generators inflict a Critical Hit that can helpfully cause a Shredded Defences or Hard Pounding result. Ally in some Danish and get the horrifying UPG Generator for both of those results at once. 


Three UPG Generators might be enough 
The best way to get lots and lots of Boarding Marines on the table is through your squadrons of Small ships; the Frigates, Corvettes and Destroyers. More than any other fleet, it's worth taking as many of these little buggers as you can; traditionally 40% of your agreed points value. Helpfully, the small ships also look fantastic. 


Never Enough
With the recent expansions released by Spartan Games, this one-dimensional tactic is not the only trick the Prussian Navy can pull. The Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser was a fantastic addition to the range, bringing real, affordable firepower to the Medium section of the fleet list (combine with Close Gunnery for extra fun!), while the most recent Wolf Pack box-set has expanded the Tesla-weaponry aspect into a powerful force by itself. 


No Prussian Player will regret picking this box-set up
I tend to play larger games of Dystopian Wars - 1250pts is a common standard. With this size, I can have most of the cake and eat it - seventeen or more small ships, Tesla-weaponry across the fleet and enough space for some extra flavour - Robots, Airships etc. In smaller games, you may need to make a decision - concentrate on a boarding force or invest heavily in the ships with the most Tesla-weaponry? It can be difficult to afford lots of the ships with the big guns (Battlecruisers, Support Cruisers, Submarines etc.) when you've spent over a third of your points on maxed-out squadrons of frigates and corvettes, but try a few games with different set-ups and learn what you like to play with. It must be said though; if you're not a fan of boarding, a large advantage of the Prussian Navy will be wasted on you. 

Hopefully this has given a vague overview of my reasons for collecting the Prussian Navy and some basic ideas on how they work - the strength of boarding, small ships as a mainstay of the fleet, the new (enhanced!) power of Tesla weaponry, and not forgetting all the other great models within the range. I have deliberately not looked at the Aerial choices and the Metzgers as they will have a specific feature in the near future. A more in depth tactics article for specific ships or situations may well be in the works soon as well!  

Thanks for reading, 

George

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