Saturday, 12 April 2014

AAR - Prussian Empire versus the Eclipse Company

"The Prussian and Danish salvage fleet returned from Nanortalik in tatters, bringing word of well equipped and well trained mercenaries operating in the interests of the Grand Coalition - not the violent and unpredictable Black Company but a more ostentatious force - the Honourable Eclipse Company. 

Eager to learn the capabilities of this new foe, Prussian fleet commander Karl-Ehrhart Grunner despatched scout ships across the southern coast of Greenland to discover their base of operations. At the same time, he reviewed the intelligence gathered for a raid despatched against the Canadian outpost at St. Anthony - according to his spies, the station was guarded by airships matching descriptions of the Eclipse Company. If the Grand Coalition using these mercenaries to defend their outposts and refuelling stations, were their fleets massing for a grand attack on Greenland? 

Nearly a thousand miles away, the attack was about to begin, and Grunner would soon have his answer..." 
- The Blockade of Greenland
Naval Battles of 1872
Atlas-class Assault Craft pursue a Prussian Scout Airship
Welcome to the fifth instalment of the Greenland Campaign, and the return of Mike and his Prussians to the gaming field (ocean?), with their curiously recognisable camouflage scheme. Facing against them, I (George) will be running my Good Friend Ben's Eclipse Company fleet, giving them a go to have a better idea how this new fleet works together. A new fleet I have no experience with against my first and favourite fleet... interesting! Fleet size was 1250pts and Field Orders were achieving 70% Victory Points, pretty standard stuff. 

In terms of Campaign narrative, I decided this game would be an example of Prussian forces doing some old fashioned raiding against a Grand Coalition refuelling station - but to their surprise, this one is defended by the Honourable Eclipse Company! The mystery of where the Federated States have gone will become apparent in future games...

Onwards to the main event!

Deployment - a series of platforms and stations sit in the centre of the board, with rocky outcrops and islands on one side and drifting icebergs on the other. The Eclipse Company Fortifications sit in the centre, defending the platforms, while the aerial squadrons move above in support of the convoy - somewhat alarmed to be trapped between two warring fleets no doubt! The Prussian deployment is far more spread out, attacking from multiple routes
Mike's Fleet
Emperor-class Battleship with three turrets
Three Reiver-class Cruisers with one attached Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser
Two Hussar-class Gunships with one attached Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
Two Hussar-class Gunships with one attached Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
Four Arminius-class Frigates
Four Arminius-class Frigates
Two Wings of five Fighter TFTs

My Fleet
Elysium-class Large Airship with two wings of three Fighter TFTs
Three Phoenician-class Scout Flyers
Four Oceanus-class Bombers
Five Hades-class Interceptors
Tartarus-class Fortification with eight Stingray-class Attack Submarines
Two Gadeiros-class Fortifications with eight Atlas-class Assault Ships
Two Wings of five Dive Bomber TFTs

The Eclipse Company deployment - with the Fortifications in the centre, the Bomber and Interceptor squadrons sit at the centre-back, while the Airships sit ready above the convoy to the left 
The Prussian Deployment - Gunship squadrons on the flanks while the Battleship and Cruiser squadron hold the centre. The Arminius-class Frigates sit on the left flank with a Gunship squadron, hiding beside an iceberg
Mike had chosen a fleet that focused on the Medium-class vessels, with only the Battleship as his Large and two squadrons of Frigates for Smalls. An esoteric choice, but this is Mike's style - always trying out new combinations in the hope of finding something that works surprisingly well. Mike won the Initiative and took the first turn.

TURN ONE

The Emperor-class Battleship moves forward quickly, using the three powerful turrets to destroy the central Gadeiros-class Fortification
The Earth Shaker Cannon makes it's presence felt, inflicting heavy damage on the Cruiser squadron
In return, the Cruisers move forward and cripple the second Gadeiros platform
The Compass Guns and Main Turret of the Tartarus-class Fortification succeeds in taking out two of the Prussian Frigates
The Eclipse Company move forward over and around the central platforms, causing more misery for the Cruiser squadron
The Gunship squadron on the left flank opens fire on the Oceanus-class Bombers as they descend from the clouds, causing a Magazine Explosion that destroys three Stingray-class Attack Submarines, damages the Tartarus-class Fortification and knocks one of it's squadron mates out of the sky - impressive shooting! 
A look at the end of Turn One - already the long range firepower of the Eclipse Company is showing it's strength, with the central Cruiser squadron severely damaged. Nonetheless, the Prussians have destroyed one Fortification and damaged the other two, as well as crippling the Bomber squadron
As mentioned above, Turn One saw both sides dish out some serious damage, with the Prussian suffering more spread out losses while the Eclipse Company only really took hits on the Gadeiros-class Fortifications and the Oceanus Bomber squadron. The Elysium and its Earth Shaker Cannon had proved its value though, and would no doubt cause serious trouble in the next round...

TURN TWO

Ridiculous Firepower - the Earth Shaker Cannon fires for a second time on the Cruiser squadron, destroying three of the vessels and crippling the last
The last Reiver is finished by the Volley Guns of the Atlas-class Assault Craft
Arminius-class Frigates surround the Tartarus-class Fortification, but the Oceanus-class Bombers succeed in destroying one and damaging another with their bombs
The Tartarus-class Fortification comes under heavy fire, while the boarding parties of the Gunship squadron take down one of the Oceanus-class Bombers in mid-flight
Death by a Thousand Cuts - the Hades-class Interceptors, Atlas-class Assault Craft and a squadron of Dive Bombers all cause damage to the Emperor-class Battleship, before the Stingray-class Attack Submarines move in and Prize the vessel - a massive blow for the Prussian fleet
Boarding parties from the Phoenician squadron render the first Hussar derelict while Dive Bombers and the Airships powerful turrets destroy the second
A wide shot  at the end of Turn Two shows the Eclipse Company moving to finish off the scattered raiders - the game is almost over after only two turns, once again! 
Carnage! The three thrusts of the Prussian assault had all been blunted, if not destroyed by the Eclipse Company in Turn Two. The loss of the entire Cruiser squadron, the Prizing of the Emperor and the crippling of the Gunship squadron on the starboard flank left the Prussians with very few options. We did not count up the Victory Points at this stage, but it is entirely possible that the Eclipse Company had already achieved their Field Order by this point, especially with the capture of the Battleship.

TURN THREE

The power of the Pulse Generator is unleashed, destroying all six Arminius-class Frigates and causing critical damage to both of the Hussar-class Gunships and the Oceanus-class Bomber - horrific damage!
The Elysium turns hard to starboard and the Earth Shaker Cannon destroys the lead Hussar
The Phoenician squadrons commits to a bombing run against the Konigsberg, utterly destroying it
The last Hussar is crippled by Hades-class Interceptors and finished by the bombs of the Oceanus
Endgame - the Prussian fleet lies in ruin or Prized, while the Eclipse Company lick their wounds
Parting Shot - the defences of the Eclipse Company have been smashed and their squadrons have all suffered losses, but they remain defiant
ENDGAME
The mopping up of the Prussian fleet was completed in Turn Three, with only a few scattered TFTs left by the end of the turn. The Eclipse Company had once again proved their worth, and though their losses had been greater than the previous battle report, the Prussian fleet was annihilated.

The Eclipse Company lost 570 Victory Points by the end of Turn Three, though a few expensive models were very close to either being knocked out or being crippled and surrendering half their Victory Points.

CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
Mike agreed that the Eclipse Company were a nice force, certainly more enjoyable to play against that the Black Wolf Mercenaries, and enjoyed the different aspects of the fleet - the Fortifications, tiny squadrons and large focus on Aerial squadrons. He did feel that the Elysium was perhaps undercosted, especially given the power of the Earth Shaker Cannon, and I cannot disagree too hard with this observation.

This is perhaps a bad example of the Earth Shaker Cannon in action given the large emphasis Mike placed on Medium squadrons with this Fleet List - the Sheaf Fire is brutal against squadrons like this, especially with their low armour. A more traditional fleet with lots of hard-to-hit Smalls, spread out a bit more, may have done better.

A quick word on the Pulse Generator - wow. Three turns of charging it up lead to a six dice roll when the Prussian frigates got too close, with the result of an 8 causing critical hits on nine (!) ships and wiping out Mike's entire supply of frigates. Forgive me for writing off that Generator - if your opponent gets too close and you roll well, this thing is mean.

I found this game a great experience, personally, being able to use all the aspects of the Eclipse Company in its various forms - their powerful turrets and guns, the tiny squadrons and how they can work together to bring down a Battleship, and especially the Bombs on the Oceanus and Phoenician squadrons - both of these committed bombing runs that effectively ended the game.

THE NARRATIVE
"The attack on St. Anthony was an abject failure, a massive loss for the Prussian fleet in a time where the security of Greenland and their Atlantic hunting grounds was looking increasingly unstable. More than the loss of the raiding fleet and the capture of a mighty Emperor-class Battleship, Grunner was concerned what game the Grand Coalition were playing by mobilising not just their main battlefleets, but also the patrol ships normally used to defend outposts such as St. Anthony. 

Something was afoot, and Grunner would need to find out what it was before his position of power was lost entirely..."

Thanks for reading,

George

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