Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Raj Revealed

UNBOXING THE INDIAN RAJ AND INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THEIR MODELS AND RULES
I may struggle with this scheme!

The Kingdom of Britannia receive some powerful allies with the release of the Indian Raj for Dystopian Wars, a long-awaited Alliance Nation for the Grand Coalition and the bearers of some incredibly powerful weaponry. Their rules have now been released on the Spartan Games Downloads Page to coincide with the release of the models, and reveal a force that offers some interesting new tricks for the Coalition, as well as some brutal firepower and crazed technologies.

All the standard good things we get in a Naval Battle Group - I think I have two sets of dice, which is cool!
The Naval Battle Group pictured contains a wide variety of vessels, and like many of the box-sets contains roughly 1000pts of ships, with options for upgrades and alternate Generators on a number of the ships. Featuring a Heavy Battleship, Assault Carrier, Monitor (equivalent to a Battle Cruiser but with one big gun rather than several powerful turrets), a squadron of Cruisers, five Corvettes and a squadron of three Heavy Destroyers (other boxes tend to include a Frigate squadron), the Indian Raj focuses on heavy ordnance, with Redoubtable and Piercing Heavy Turrets, and powerful Aggressive Boarding parties, supported on the offence with Terror Tactics. This fleet that can threaten their opponents at range and close-up.

Devak-class Cruisers  - very similar to the Tribal in look and armament, but somewhat better in the rules
Piercing Heavy Turrets and Aggressive Crew make for a formidable Cruiser
External Shield Generator, sculpted on
I love the detail on the pontoons and the sides of the vessel
This well-rounded approach makes the initial feel of the Nation far more interesting than those who concentrate on one aspect of the game. Thankfully, for those players looking with worried eyes at the power of the Raj, their defensive statistics veer toward the weaker end of the spectrum, and many of their larger ships must choose between guns and Shields. Their offensive Boarding power is also far greater than their defensive Boarding power, given the prevalence of Terror Tactics across the fleet. To play the Raj effectively, one must create a balanced list, with a mixture of firepower and defensive Generators, and learn to time their assaults so that the support vessels such as the Assault Carrier can use their helpful Troop Reinforcement MAR to assist the rest of the fleet and keep them operational.

Canda-class Monitor, finally a rival to the mighty Victoria-class Monitor of Australia
The Howitzer dominates the model, as it should
Defensively the Canda is great, with CR7, 6HP and a Shield Generator
Aggressive Crew also gives it some teeth at close range
The great debates with this fleet currently rage on whether to give the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship a Time-Flow Generator or a Shield Generator, and whether to give the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier a Bombard or a Guardian Generator. Rather obviously, the choices will decide the vessel's place in the Order of Battle, and whether it is to be used in a defensive or offensive manner.

SAWs, the same as the Britannian tokens I believe
The Jhasa-class Assault Carrier, "Jewel of the Fleet"
Impressively armed and armoured, with a Guardian Generator and powerful weaponry
The option for a powerful Bombard is tempting. I might have to take two so I can avoid making a decision!
The Time-Flow Generator brings serious speed to a significant chunk of the Indian fleet, allowing them to close much faster with their Piercing turrets and Aggressive crews, and when combined with the Commodore ability All Hands Forward! allows for some very early Boarding actions - actions which can be repeated as the Assault Carrier replenishes the lost AP. A Shield Generator, on the other hand, makes the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship a real beast, with three forward-facing turrets and Advanced Engines allowing it to still plough forward at a reasonable speed but with far superior defences. My initial reaction is to choose the Shield Generator, but this may be influenced by the fact I favour not taking the Guardian Generator on the Assault Carrier. I do feel the Time-Flow Generator needs to be practised, however, as although the Heavy Battleship may not need it (at least not at the start of the game), it can be used by other ships and covers one of their weaknesses - speed.
The Chanura-class Heavy Battleship, with the signature spine of turrets all facing forward
Similar in stature to the Britannian vessel, it nonetheless gives a very different silhouette
At the stern we see the Generator
The options for the different Generators have been discussed, but I am really starting to appreciate the potential for speed offered by the Time Flow Generator
For the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier, the decision is also difficult - to upgrade the Guardian Generator to a Bombard costs an extra 25pts, but makes it an incredible threat to the enemy fleet alongside the similarly equipped Monitor, and also a difficult one to react to if screened properly. Spotters will assist with allowing the Bombards to fire indirectly, and the Shields will not be needed if the opposing fleet cannot see it! The Guardian Generator, however, is not just for the Assault Carrier, but intended to assist the entire fleet - protecting the Corvettes and the Heavy Destroyers especially. This bubble of protection is less useful for the Devak-class Cruisers and the Canda-class Monitor as they already have Shields, but in a larger fleet it is always useful to have a Guardian sat in the centre. Ultimately, I prefer the Bombard for this vessel, and the only thing that makes it a debate is the cost to upgrade.
Indus-class Heavy Destroyers
Packing good firepower and resilient, they play a different role to other small squadrons
Linkable Broadsides and Turrets work well with Pack Tactics for a mighty killing blow
The Heavy Destroyer is also fast, with a 10" movement, and features Aggressive Crew
Maybe not as powerful as some of the other Destroyers available, the Indus compares well with the Plutarch, another of the fairly rare Heavy Destroyer class
Overall, a very impressive fleet, which will work exceedingly well alongside some of the other Grand Coalition fleets in bigger games - especially those with Guardian Generators. Piercing Heavy Turrets, Devastating Ordnance on the Bombards and Terror Tactics with well-trained crews make for an exciting and interesting fleet, to say nothing of the great Land-based forces, including the Robot Elephants! A welcome addition to the world of Dystopian Wars and one that opens up a whole new theatre in the World War.
Veeran-class Corvettes, Boarding nightmares!
Gorgeous detail, here helpfully obliterated by bright lighting
Pricier than the average Corvette, but packing two Aggressive crew each and with Terror Tactics, they pose a threat to anyone
The Indian Raj were an impulse purchase and I must confess they are not at the top of my list of current projects, but they remain an intriguing force with a lot of potential for interesting gaming experiences. Initial impressions for some veer towards the over-powered - and while I agree they are a high-tier fleet, I think it is currently too early to start crying power-creep and selling off your Kingdom of Britannia for these shiny new toys. They are powerful, yes, but if you can understand where their power comes from - the synergy between the Large vessels and the smaller squadrons around them, you will realise that breaking this down and preventing them from supporting one another is the top priority. Counter-boarding and Tertiary weapons like rockets and torpedoes will work well against the Raj, and though getting close to those Aggressive crews may not seem like a good idea, it is probably preferable to sitting in the Bombard and Heavy Turrets' best range bands.

Size-wise, they compare well with the American Heavy Battleship
Tall and chunky, this is an imposing vessel
The Cruisers are also well matched with their American counterparts. Unfortunately I do not have any Britannian vessels to compare with
Personally, I intend to run them as allies with my Royalist Australian fleet, representing a force of the Kingdom of Britannia in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It will also be a good opportunity to work on some of my East India Merchant Company. Look out for some Work In Progress shots in the future, as I struggle to decide how to match their detailed architecture and aesthetic with the low-key, fairly drab scheme used on the Australian fleet.

The different classes assembled
Thanks for reading,

George

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