"The rolling invasion of the Malaysian ports by the Chinese Federation devastated huge swathes of Grand Coalition territory, their immense fleets and land forces destroying any who stood in their path. Merchant and civilian vessels were no match for their new technologies, and the East India Merchant Company were hard-pressed to counter such a wide invasion with their limited, albeit elite, resources.
Appealing to the Kingdom of Britannia, the East India Merchant Company were rewarded with the commitment of a Battle Group of the Indian Raj, veteran sailors with newly developed, impressive technologies. Supplementing this, they secured the services of several Australian ships who would work in support of Battle Group Katari.
Driving through the Singapore Strait at full speed, the Coalition fleet moved against one of the earliest targets of the Chinese Federation, Pulau Tioman. Rumour abounded of a great Wall erected around the island, and a Great Beast that defended it, constantly circling behind the Wall. Scoffing at such nonsense, the young Fleet Captain Sardarilal M. Dhowan committed to the attack..."
- The Cauldron: War in the South China Sea
Naval Battles of 1872
With the recent additions to the Chinese fleet, Good Friend Ben was asked to take the new Dragon. He did not have a problem with this, as you can imagine. Back in command, he will be bringing 1,500pts of Chinese to the table, against my alliance of Indian and Australian vessels.
The board was set in a similar manner to the last battle at Pulau Tioman, with several desert islands and derricks scattered across the board. One side of the board was dominated by a dormant volcano with a gun platform in the centre, while the rest of the board was fairly open.
Drawing our Objectives secretly. Ben was charged with destroying the Large opposition vessels, potentially difficult given there were three of them. In turn, my fleets had to target the Small squadrons of the Chinese Federation; not a difficult prospect given there were only two of them. It was important not to let Ben discover my target too quickly, or he would hide his squadrons and make it impossible for me to win.
Onto the game itself...
|Battle Group Katari, out of Kakinada Port|
One Chanura-class Heavy Battleship with Shield Generator
One Jhasa-class Assault Carrier with Howitzer-Bombard, one squadron of five Dive Bombers and one Reconnaissance Plane
One Canda-class Monitor with one Reconnaissance Plane
One Canda-class Monitor with one Reconnaissance Plane
Three Devak-class Cruisers
One Squadron of three Indus-class Heavy Destroyers
One Squadron of five Veeran-class Corvettes
One Squadron of five Dive Bombers
|6th Australian Reserve Fleet, out of Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, near Perth|
One Cerberus-class Battleship
Two Tasmania-class Submarine Tenders with eight Crocodile-class Attack Submarines
One Squadron of four Protector-class Escort-Frigates
One Squadron of five Fighter Planes
|The Zhenwei Fleet, based at occupied Pulau Tioman|
One Jian-class Battleship with rocket batteries
One Guan Dao-class Battlecruiser
Two Wodao-class Gunships
Three Chui-class Support Carriers each with one squadron of four Dive Bombers
One Squadron of four Yue-class Destroyers
One Squadron of four Nu-class Frigates
One Zhanmadao-class Dreadnought Fortress with two squadrons of four Dive Bombers
One Tian Long-class Armoured Dragon Robot
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
The Chinese Federation deployed almost everything in the centre of the board, with the Battleship anchoring one flank while the Dragon skimmed forward on the other side. The Dreadnought-Fortress sat in the centre of their imposing battle line.
The Indian Raj and Australian allies were also concentrated in the centre, with the Australians holding the flanks while the Monitors and Large Indian vessels sat in the centre, ready to rain fire upon the largest Chinese vessels. The squadron of Protector-class Frigates prepared to take a longer route around one of the islands, to sweep around the back of the Chinese fleet.
|The Jhasa-class Assault Carrier opens proceedings|
|A volley from the Howitzer-Bombard causes massive damage to the central Support Carrier|
|The Dreadnought-Fortress groans forward|
|Opening fire with turrets and rocket batteries, both the Heavy Battleship and the Assault Carrier suffer crippling damage|
|The first Monitor moves into range|
|Targeting the second Chui-class Support Carrier, another Howitzer-Bombard shell cause critical damage, almost destroying the vessel|
|The Armoured Dragon Robot wings through the derricks toward the enemy fleet|
|Rockets continue to rain down upon the beleaguered Assault Carrier|
|Wodao-class Gunships and Yue-class Destroyers close the distance|
|The Indian Raj advance at full speed. The second Monitor targets the undamaged Support Carrier, causing a critical hit|
|The Chinese Federation reform their battle-line|
|Fire from the Chinese fleet smashes the Monitor, a Corvette and cripples the Assault Carrier even further. Reactors leaking and on fire, the ship is in grave danger of being destroyed|
|The Australian fleet appears from behind the platforms, their turret fire largely ineffective|
|Keel broken and ruined by multiple breaches across the hull and reactor, the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier sinks beneath the waves.|
|The Dreadnought-Fortress continues to advance|
|Ordnance smashes the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship, and fires rage out of control across the ship|
|Indus-class Heavy Destroyers present their broadsides|
|Their ordnance ravages two of the deadly Chinese Destroyers|
|The Guan Dao-class Battlecruiser prepares the turrets|
|More damage is heaped upon the Chanura|
|Veeran-class Corvettes speed forward and destroy a Nu-class Frigate with their turrets, also damaging a second|
|Their Boarding parties launch an ill-fated attack on the indomitable Dreadnought-Fortress. Though almost all of the soldiers are killed, their rampage through the decks of the Zhanmadao leave it practically defenceless|
|Retribution from the Frigate squadron destroys two Corvettes|
|The Submarine-Tenders move to defend the Heavy Battleship|
|The Dragon swoops over a small desert island|
|The Dragon's Breath Flamethrower causes searing damage to the lead Submarine-Tender|
|A wide shot of the vicious attack|
|The Australian Battleship moves to shoot down the beast|
|The Dragon suffers damage, but its Isolated Systems prevent any significant trouble|
|The damaged Monitor sights the Jian-class Battleship|
|Poor range-finding causes only minor damage to the vessel|
|Revenge! The Destroyers empty their flamethrowers on the Heavy Destroyers, causing massive damage and fire to spread through the ships|
|The second Monitor turns to find a new target|
|Landing directly on target, the Battlecruiser is crippled in one volley|
|Dive Bombers descend upon one of the Yue-class Destroyers, blowing it out of the water|
|In turn, Chinese Dive Bombers rip apart the lead Monitor|
|The Devak--class Cruiser squadron fire their turrets indirectly over the Corvette squadron, lucky hits destroying two of the enemy Frigates|
|The Gunships move up and bring down the central Heavy Destroyer, but their ordnance fails to damage the rest of the squadron|
|Australian Escort-Frigates sneak around the flank and damage the starboard Gunship|
|The second squadron of Indian Dive Bombers causes a critical hit on the undamaged Gunship|
|Support Carriers advance slowly in the wake of the more aggressive Chinese vessels|
|Wave after wave of Chinese Dive Bombers move into optimum range to begin their bombing runs|
|Another shot of the Indian Corvettes and Heavy Destroyers trying in vain to defend the larger ships behind them|
|Fires rage out of control across the Heavy Battleship, their crew wasting their lives trying to stop the spread|
|Enter the Dragon! The mighty Robot swoops down onto the Australian Battleship and rends it with flame breath and steel claws. The vessel is almost destroyed by the Crushing Impact as fire spreads throughout the ship|
|Spotting weakness, Dive Bombers overwhelm the Battleship and finish it|
|The Cruiser squadron tries to curtail the waves of Dive Bombers with AA fire, while the turrets open fire on the Frigate and Battlecruiser|
|The Guan Dao implodes, Jade Armour preventing the Magazine Explosion from damaging any ships around it|
|The attempts by the Grand Coalition to stop the Dive Bombers are futile, and several make it through to destroy the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship|
|The Heavy Destroyers succeed in finishing the last Frigate|
|The Destroyer sweeps around it's larger foes and destroys them both, with Dragon's Breath and broadside|
|Australian Submarine-Tenders begin to move around the drifting hulk of the Dreadnought-Fortress|
|Their turrets destroy one of the Support Carriers|
|Wodao Gunships open fire on the Indian Corvettes and Cruiser squadron, damaging their targets but not destroying them|
|Veeran-class Corvettes circle the platform and open fire on the last Destroyer, but are ineffective|
|The Battleship makes its presence felt, crippling a Devak-class Cruiser with rockets while setting a Submarine-Tender ablaze with the fore-mounted flamethrowers|
|Protector-class Escort-Frigates finish a Chui-class Support Carrier and damage the final survivor|
|The Monitor rotates to find a new target|
|The last Support Carrier is obliterated|
|With a stroke of obscene luck, the broadsides from the Monitor also cripple the Tian Long|
|Crocodile-class Attack Submarines surround the Destroyer and scuttle it, finally achieving the Grand Coalition's objective|
|The battle draws to a close, both sides battered and weary|
|The Dragon sweeps behind them, but the Indian and Australians still present a strong opponent|
|With their Carriers lost, the empty Dive Bombers circle the area|
|Neither side seems to be command of the shallows around Pulau Tioman, but who has suffered the most?|
Ben and the Chinese Federation achieved their Objective and managed to score an impressive 1,038 Victory Points. In turn, the Grand Coalition had managed to achieve their Objective as well, but scored 1,230 Victory Points. With a difference of 192 Victory Points, it was judged to be a Minor Victory for the Indian Raj and their allies! Both fleets were shattered, but the Strategic Value of so many Chinese carriers and the mighty Dreadnought-Fortress gave the Grand Coalition the edge.
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
- Isolated Systems is an incredible rule when you can roll as well as Ben - I can remember maybe three occasions where he failed the saving roll. Really frustrating!
- The Armoured Dragon Robot is a monster, as you would expect. Shredding the Australian Battleship was awesome, and it was lucky to survive the attack. Not the most survivable, but with Surface-Skimmer it should be able to hide behind and then jump over small terrain pieces.
- The power of the Dragon in ripping apart the Battleship and what it would have done had it hit anything else is obvious, but I think it is balanced by a slow movement value. The weaponry it carries is good, but a canny opponent who avoids it getting close will find the Dragon is not all that scary.
- The Indian Raj continue to impress, their powerful Howitzer-Bombards and great Boarding abilities giving them something to compete with the sheer numbers and firepower (literal fire-power) of the Chinese. Without those two advantages, the game would have been a blow-out.
- Throwing the Corvettes to thin the ranks of the Dreadnought-Fortress before jumping on it with the Crocodiles worked a treat. The Indians and Australians are good allies, with many complimentary skills.
- The Canda-class Monitors continue to impress, their extremely powerful ordnance causing at least critical damage to anything they choose. Pairing these with some Australian Victoria-class Monitors may lead to some games ending rather quickly.
- The Chinese Federation feel like a truly powerful Nation now, with a tonne of special rules and munition types to go with all of their weapons. Concussive and Incendiary rockets, Sonic weaponry, flamethrowers - the number of tokens you need to have ready when playing with the Chinese is insane. Rugged Construction on everything is also one of the most annoying things in the entire game.
- Once I realised Ben's Objective it was too late, and my three Large vessels were almost dead. He did very well to target them and cause a huge amount of damage in the first turn. The position of the Dragon was also excellent for taking down the slightly more isolated Australian Battleship.
"...the second battle at Pulau Tioman was considered a disaster by both sides, a huge loss of resources that would deny any chance of decisive victory for either side in the coming months. The Zhenwei Fleet was broken, their support craft lost and only the grand Battleship Henghai surviving relatively undamaged, while the Indian Raj and their allies had suffered severe losses, not least the two Battleships and Assault Carrier that led the attack. With concerned, yet opportunistic eyes, the East India Merchant Company considered their next options..."
Thanks for reading,