Tuesday, 30 September 2014

AAR - The Indian Raj and Royal Australians versus The Prussian Empire

"In the Autumn of 1873, the Imperial Bond had renewed their pursuit of Grand Coalition shipping with vigour, seeking to ambush and destroy those convoys daring to travel close to the expanding ice sheets around Greenland and Iceland. The Prussian Empire and their Danish allies were especially active, operating from their bases in Greenland with impunity as the Americans struggled in the Pacific and the Kingdom of Britannia tried to hold their grip on North Africa.

Increasingly stretched despite the size of their Royal Navy, the Kingdom of Britannia drew upon allies from the colonies - the Indian Raj and the loyal Australian navies were ordered to send reserve fleets halfway across the world to help defend their convoys and give the Britannian Battle Fleets the freedom to engage in active warfare instead of escort duty.

New ships and new commanders brought fresh eyes to the brutal Atlantic theatre. Seeing the strength of the Prussian Navy around Greenland and the Federated States' disastrous attempt to attack them directly at Holsteinsborg, Admiral Sardarilal M. Dhowan formed a plan for an ambush, luring the Prussian Wolf Packs out with the promise of barely-defended merchant shipping. Using strange new technologies, he would hide his fleet and launch a bold counter-attack when the Prussians made their move.

The plan was as bold as it was obvious, but Dhowan was confident that the Prussians, who had not faced the Indian Raj on open water before, would be unprepared for their new tricks. He played his hand  just off Newfoundland, leading the fleet himself from the flagship Marutagana..."
 - New Eyes, New Enemies - Exploits of the Indian Raj in the North Atlantic
Naval Battles of 1873

Welcome back to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance! It has been far too long, and I apologise. Various excuses can be offered, but I think you would prefer to hear that I am intending to get back into gaming a bit more will be posting some more reports in the coming weeks, rather than months.

This week, the Indian Raj get their first game, and some recent commission work also makes an appearance - my old foe Mike will be bringing his newly painted Kaiser-Karl Heavy Battleship and Elbe-class Fleet Carrier against the recently finished Indian Naval Battle Group (with a few allies thrown in). Never one to miss an opportunity, he is also borrowing my Kaiser-Karl for an intimidating pair of king-ships.

Given the fleets chosen I decided it would be a return to the North Atlantic, as the Grand Coalition and specifically the Kingdom of Britannia (their colonies, at least) lure a Prussian fleet into attacking a small convoy. The Indian Raj would appear with their Time-Flow Generators to spring the ambush. To tell this story on the board, I deployed a collection of merchant vessels in the Grand Coalition deployment zone. They would not move or act in the game, and would effectively work as another piece of terrain. The rest of the board was fairly sparse, with a couple of rocky outcrops to represent a strait where the Prussian attack on the convoy would make sense.

Drawing secret Field Orders, the Prussian Empire were given carte blanche to choose their Objective. Mike secretly decided to target the Medium-sized vessels, reasoning that the Indian Raj and Australians might hide their Large vessels at the back and make it difficult to destroy them. In turn, I drew the card to destroy or Capture 70% of the opposing fleet value - in this game, that would 1,050 Victory Points. A simple task, I would think.

With the terrain set up, and the Field Objectives drawn, we moved onto the main event!

The stage is set
Battle Group Katari, out of Portsmouth en-route to St. Anthony
My Fleet
Indian Raj

One Chanura-class Heavy Battleship with Time-Flow Generator - the Marutagana
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 Squadrons of five Dive Bombers

The Royal Australian 4th North Atlantic Reserve Fleet, out of St. Anthony and escorting the convoy
Allied Fleet
Royal Australians

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 Prussian Supremacy Fleet out of Greenland
Mike's Fleet
Prussian Empire

One Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship with Elite Crew - the Feuertrager
One Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship with Elite Crew - the Kriegshund 
One Elbe-class Fleet Carrier with one squadron of five Dove Bombers and one squadron of four Dive Bombers

Three Hussar-class Gunships
Three Hussar-class Gunships

One Squadron of four Stolz-class Destroyers
One Squadrons of four Arminius-class Frigates

Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers

The Prussian Empire form a wall, with the Elbe in the centre, Hussar Gunships on starboard and Kaiser Karl Heavy Battleships on the port
The Grand Coalition spring their trap
The Royal Australians escort the convoy through the rocks
The Indian Raj swoops in from the flank
The heavy hitters open proceedings, with the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier opening fire on the Devak-class Cruisers and causing minor damage. The Chanura-class Heavy Battleship is ineffective firing the turrets individually at this range. The Time Flow Generator is activated, ready to sling shot the Cruisers forward
The first Kaiser Karl Heavy Battleship opens fire and damages the Marutagana with its Speerschleuder, but in turn the Cruiser squadron warps forward through the Time Flow field and cause critical damage, crucially knocking out the Prussian Battleship's Shield Generator
The second Kaiser Karl Feuertrager moves in support
Turret fire causes major damage to the starboard Devak-class Cruiser
The Jhasa-class Assault Carrier enters the fray
The immense Howitzer-Bombard smashes the defenceless Kriegshund
The first squadron of Gunships advance
Their massed turret fire destroys the damaged Devak-class Cruiser
As the second squadron of Hussar-class Gunships open fire on the beleagured Indian Cruisers, the two Canda-class Monitors move to strike the Heavy Battleship. They are ineffective
Heavy damage is suffered by the Indian Navy
The Royal Australians thread through the convoy fleet
Prussian Dive Bombers sight their targets
The Australian Battleship moves to deliver a volley against the crippled Kaiser Karl
Crocodile-class Assault Submarines slowly pick their way forward
The Veeran-class Corvettes open fire at maximum range, and cause minor damage to the Hussar-class Gunships
Stolz-class Destroyers pour fire onto the smashed Cruiser squadron
Indus-class Heavy Destroyers catch up with the fleet
Opening moves - the Prussian Empire have thrust forward with their wave of capital ships, while the Indian Raj and their allies concentrate fire upon the damaged Heavy Battleship Kriegshund
The Prussian Empire have maintained their line
The Indian Raj have begun to curl their battleline around the two Heavy Battleships

The Jhasa-class Assault Carrier opens proceedings, looking to finish the crippled Kriegshund. It is unsuccessful
Prussian Destroyers surround the Carrier and cause immense damage, smashing through the crew compartments and causing a major leak in engineering
The Cruiser squadron are battered, but still have teeth. Their turrets send the Kriegshund sinking beneath the waves, and broadsides bring down one of the Destroyers. Enraged Boarding Parties scuttle a second - a brutal attack!
Hussar-class Gunships move against the Marutagana, inflicting critical damage
Veeran-class Corvettes make an aggressive move against the second Gunship squadron, their turrets damaging one while Boarding Parties render the central vessel Derelict
The mighty Elbe-class Fleet Carrier grinds past the melee, broadsides destroying one of the Corvettes
Tesla-weaponry also rips apart the lead Cruiser
The Australian Battleship opens fire upon the Gunships, causing massive damage to the starboard vessel
The Australian Battleship smashes the navigation systems and the Gunship is almost lost
The Feuertrager prepares to avenge its sister-ship
Turret fire cripples the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier while the Speerschleuder hits the deck of the Canda-class Monitor, but the shields save it (pictured here is the damage before the shields activated)

The aft-mounted turret also cause damage to the Australian Battleship

Submarine-Tenders move into range
Their turrets finish the damaged Hussar
Arminius-class Frigates pour ordnance into the Australian Battleship
Their aft-mounted Tesla-weapons also succeed in sinking one of the Indian Corvettes
Having suffered immense damage and with the gun decks wrecked, the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship uses its last strength - manpower - to render one of the Hussar Gunships Derelict
The ruined turrets also manage to cause minor damage to the rest of the squadron
Prussian Dive Bombers destroy the central Veeran-class Corvette, clearing the way for the remaining Hussar
Protector-class Escort Frigates surround and damage a Hussar-class Gunship
Prussian Dove Bombers descend on the Marutagana, causing even more damage
Canda-class Monitor moves into the wake of the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier
The mighty Howitzer-Bombard destroys the nearest Hussar with astounding violence
The last Hussar of the second squadron destroys a Corvette with a broadside 
Turret fire smashes the rudder on the lead Submarine-Tender
The second Canda-class Monitor prepares to shoot
A palpable hit on the Feuertrager
Aerial war - the flyers of both sides skirmish
Indian Dive Bombers finish the last Hussar-class Gunship of first squadron
The Indus-class Heavy Destroyers surround the Stolz-class Destroyers, and though their turrets hole one, their Boarding Parties are ineffective against the second, and are beaten back
The second squadron of Dive Bombers descend upon the Heavy Battleship, causing chaos and disarray to ripple through the ship
A swirling mess is forming on the port-side, but the Prussian advance is blunted and the Indian Raj victorious against the Gunship squadrons. They still have to deal with the Feuertrager and the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier, however, and all of their larger vessels are heavily damaged
The ocean is littered with burning and Derelict hulks

The Kaiser Karl makes his run for glory, smashing into the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier, landing a Speerschleuder through the crew compartments of the Canda-class Monitor and damaging an Indus-class Heavy Destroyer with broadsides. Boarding Parties then rush the Marutagana, and smash everything. The ship is rendered Derelict
The Australians move against the other flank, Escort-Frigates intercepting the Arminius-class Frigates and destroying two. The surviving two ships are also damaged
Another heavy-hitter is committed to the fight - the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier advances
Broadsides destroy an Indus-class Heavy Destroyer
The powerful Tesla-array on the prow destroys the damaged Canda-class Monitors, electricity arcing through the Speer lodged in the heart of the ship
The starboard broadside finishes the last Corvette
Speerschleuders also cripple the Australian Battleship
Arminius-class Frigates pursue the Battleship as it tries to flee and finish it
The Jhasa-class Assault Carrier sweeps behind the Heavy Battleship and launches a massive Boarding assault. Both sides are utterly wiped out in the attack, dying to the last man
The Hussar-class Gunship attacks the Submarine-Tender. Broadside fire also destroys one of the Escort-Frigates
Heavy Destroyers eradicate the last Stolz-class Destroyer
Their fire against the Feuertrager is less effective
Dive Bombers destroy the lead Submarine-Tender
The trap is sprung, and the Crocodiles launch a mass Boarding assault on the Frigates and last Gunship. They Capture all three
Another squadron of Dive Bombers swoop down onto the second Submarine-Tender, igniting the magazine and utterly destroying the vessel. Many of the Dive Bombers are lost in the conflagration
While of the rest of fleet limps forward, the undamaged Canda-class Monitor launches a Boarding Party against the ruined Feuetrager. It is Captured, a fine prize
The battle is over at this point, with only the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier left operational for the Prussian Empire. The Grand Coalition are little better in turn, with every ship having suffered and some barely holding together
On the starboard flank, the Australians have suffered greatly but managed to hold off the Prussian Gunships and even Capture one
The Indian Raj have been decimated, reduced to two Heavy Destroyers, one Monitor and one heavily damaged Assault Carrier. The Elbe in turn is still fully operational
Several Derelict hulks drift past, a testament to the close-range violence specialised by both fleets
With their fine Prizes, the Grand Coalition had scored a total of 1,600 Victory Points (not including the Arminius-class Frigates, as they cannot be Prized I remembered later). They had achieved their Field Objective and smashed the Prussian Empire. In turn, Mike had failed his mission to destroy all of my Medium vessels as one Canda-class Monitor was still floating, but had scored a total of 1,175 Victory Points - still a very impressive score in a 1,500pt game! 

Mike has an incredibly aggressive and potent fleet, and was only really out-done by the potent Boarding power of the Indian Raj and the strength of the Howitzer-Bombards taking down the Hussar Gunships in Turn Two. Had his first Battleship not suffered a Generators Offline result in Turn One, it would have been far harder to finish that beast and would have continued to cause trouble. Equally however, both the Canda-class Monitors and the Chanura-class Monitor failing to do any damage in the first turn was bad luck.

  • The power of the Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleships cannot be doubted, and though Mike was unlucky to lose the first so early, the second caused an astounding amount of damage. They are resilient and packed with firepower - truly a Heavy Battleship to rival the power of a Dreadnought.
  • To compliment it, the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier was a nightmare of Tesla-weaponry and good defensive statistics. Nothing touched the vessel, and had the game continued I am sure the Elbe would have destroyed what remained - firepower in all four directions, a solid crew complement and the ability to refresh the tiny flyer squadrons around it make it a must-buy for all Prussian commanders.
  • Hussar-class Gunships continue to be Mike's favourite Medium-sized squadron, and Stolz-class Destroyers the best small. It is good to see these units, once so maligned, turn into excellent investments.
  • The Indian Raj, by contrast, were a fleet that works together to bring down larger vessels, using their various skills and specialities to reduce enemy ships to wreckage. The Howitzer-Bombards are incredible, with only bad dice and the impressive Rugged Construction across the Prussian fleet preventing them from being blown out of the water.
  • I probably misused the Time-Flow Generator, but really missed the protection of Shields on the Chanura-class Heavy Battleship. In the game it was damaged too early and did not contribute a huge amount, beyond duelling the Gunships.
  • The Heavy Destroyers felt less useful than the Corvettes, who were excellent in their Boarding role. They have an impressive amount of firepower, but with only three ships in the squadron and reliant on getting broadsides into play at the same time, I can see them losing their effectiveness very quickly.
  • All-in-all the fleet did not feel particularly over-powered. It was certainly competitive with the powerful Prussian Empire, and held on well when their massed turret fire was ripping their ships apart. They have strength in Boarding and their weaponry helps with this, Piercing turrets especially. The Howitzer-Bombards are simply the icing on the cake.
  • The Australians, in turn, were underwhelming. They feel slow, and certainly do not have many of the tricks of the Indian Raj. I feel they will require more testing on my part as they are simply not as awesome as they once were. The Crocodiles are still fun, of course.
  • Mike was, as ever, a gracious opponent. Always a fun game, even if his *guaranteed genuine not crooked* Las Vegas Casino Dice do like to roll those exploding sixes!
  • So what does the future hold? Obviously the Indian Raj were fun to play and will have to finish off painting the fleet - another squadrons of Corvettes and an Assault Carrier at the very least. A second squadron of Heavy Destroyers will bring it up to 1,500pts, but perhaps I will look at something different - flyers, perhaps.

"... Battle Group Katari was successful in their mission, smashing the Prussian fleet off Newfoundland and protecting their convoy from their predations. Despite their own losses, the destruction of the two king-ships - the Kreigshund at the bottom of the Labrador Sea and the Feuertrager scuttled off St. Anthony, was a mighty victory. These were blows the Prussian naval forces would suffer for in the coming months of the war - and would not soon forget..."

Thanks for reading,


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