"The Pearl of Borneo, Labuan had operated as a refuelling station and port for many ships in the World War, but largely avoided the fighting. This was to end as a sizeable flotilla of Chinese warships crested the horizon, looking to damage the infrastructure of the Grand Coalition and cut their supply lines.
Suspecting such a move, the Admiralty of the Britannian Royal Navy had ordered a Battle Group from the Indian Raj to garrison the port, and even allowed the fleet commander a small bursary to supplement his forces with mercenary troops - an investment quickly used to give the garrison aerial defences in form of the Honourable Eclipse Company.
As the Chinese fleet began their approach, the Indian fleet appeared from behind the derricks and began their bombardment, using their powerful Howitzers to try and dissuade further attack. It did not work, and it seemed that the battle would be decided in closer quarters..."
- The Cauldron: War in the South China Sea
Naval Battles of 1872
Playing a good size 1,500pt game, we set the board with a large concentration of buildings and derricks to really show off my terrain collection. Pictured below and in the following Report we can see a large refuelling station with accompanying dockyards and landing fields on one side of the board, while two far-flung islands with listening posts anchor the other flank. The Chinese Federation would be continuing their aggressive expansion with an attack on the station, while the Indian Raj would rush to defend it and the Eclipse Company fly overhead.
Drawing Secret Objectives, the Chinese Federation would have to cripple the Grand Coalition's scouts and escort ships - destroying all Small Squadrons. In turn, the Indian Raj were targeting the Chinese flagship, aiming to destroy the Battleship as Mike had foregone taking any other Large vessels.
With the board set and Objectives drawn, we can move onto the game!
First of all, however...
|Second Element of the Fujian Fleet|
One Jian-class Battleship with Redoubtable and extra crew compartments
One Guan Dao-class Battlecruiser
Three Dao-class Cruisers
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 Squadron of three Nu-class Frigates
Two Dun-class Bastions
One Squadron of four Luxing-class Aerial Bombards
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
|Battle Group Shivaji on manoeuvres|
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
|Mercenaries of the Honourable Eclipse Company|
The Honourable Eclipse Company
Three Phoenician-class Scout Flyers
One Squadron of five Hades-class Interceptors
One Squadron of five Fighter Planes
|The stage is set|
|The bulk of the Indian Raj move on from the flank, around the first Landing Field as the Eclipse Company fly overhead|
|The Destroyer and Corvette squadrons prepare to negotiate the derricks, using their speed and manoeuvrability to speed underneath|
|A wide shot of the deployment, with the full extent of the dockyards visible|
|The Chinese Federation pass the old gun platform, heading for the Indian fleet|
|Aerial squadrons approach from the far flank|
|The Eclipse Company prepare to engage them|
|A shot from the other angle, showing the two fleets|
|The Indian fleet closes, taking fire but not suffering any serious damage at this range|
|Their turrets cause several critical hits on the Dun-class Bastion, attempting to break the shield wall|
|The Luxing squadron swing in from the flank|
|The Aerial Bombards batter the Canda-class Monitor with their sonic weapons|
|The Honourable Eclipse Company drift overhead, their cannons readying to fire|
|The damaged Bastion is knocked from the sky, while the second also takes damage from the powerful guns of the Eclipse Company|
|Veeran-class Corvettes negotiate the derricks, seeking to ambush the Chinese flagship|
|The Chiniese fleet swings to port, turning to face the Indian fleet and present their broadsides to the Eclipse Company Scout Flyers|
|The Honourable Eclipse Company take fire|
|Hades-class Interceptors swiftly turn to engage the Aerial Bombards|
|Their Fore Guns cause minor damage to one of the Bombards|
|Opening moves - the two fleets exchange long-range fire but are largely ineffectual|
|The Indian fleet move in defence of the station, while the Honourable Eclipse Company move to engage their aerial targets|
|The bulk of the Chinese fleet advances past the defence platforms, closing on the Indian fleet|
|Beyond the two Radio Stations, a large force of Chinese flyers flank the Indian Raj|
|The Luxing-class Aerial Bombards line up their sonic weapons|
|The concussive blows from the Aerial Bombards are largely ineffective, but shake the Cruiser squadron|
|Dogfight! The Interceptors engage the Aerial Bombards and bring one down, while their lighter anti-aircraft weapons destroy a squadron of Dive Bombers. The retaliatory fire brings down one of the Eclipse Company flyers|
|The damaged Canda-class Monitor prepares to fire|
|The Battlecruiser bears the brunt of the massive Howitzer-Bombard|
|The Battlecruiser replies in kind, the three turrets causing serious damage to the Monitor|
|The second Monitor swings the Howitzer-Bombard round|
|A shot through the paddles of the Battleship cripples its speed|
|The Cruisers engage|
|Anti-aircraft fire damages an Interceptor|
|The shields of the Scout Flyers protect them from the worst|
|The remaining ordnance from the Cruisers damages the Monitor|
|The flagship of the Indian Raj moves into range of the Chinese Battleship|
|Raking the vessel with fire from three turrets, it disappears with a huge flash of light and displaced water|
|The vessel reappears suddenly to the starboard, smashing onto the gun platform and taking a huge amount of damage as the magazine ignites!|
|In seconds the vessel has been almost destroyed!|
|Struggling free from the gun platform, the Battleship works ahead|
|Flamethrowers wash over the Corvette squadron, dousing two of them in hideous chemical fire|
|The Indian Raj pile on the pressure, the Jhasa-class Assault Carrier blowing one Cruiser out of the water and finishing the crippled Battlecruiser with a volley from the broadsides|
|Support Carriers advance|
|The Devak-class Cruisers move through the tight formation, their turrets causing a reactor leak on one of the Dao-class Cruisers|
|The Bastion drifts forward menacingly as Fighter Planes from the Honourable Eclipse Company attack the squadrons of Dive Bombers|
|The damaged Bastion still manages to ruin one of the Corvettes with a blast from the Dragon's Breath|
|Fire ravages the Monitor on the starboard side|
|Indian Bombers swoop down on the offending Bastion and finish it|
|Frigates sweep around the island, their anti-aircraft guns bringing down an Interceptor|
|Corvettes launch a bold attack on the Chinese fleet, but it is a foolhardy move and their Boarding parties are lost for very little gain|
|The second squadron of Frigates moves to defend their flagship, destroying two Corvettes|
|The Phoenician-class Scout Flyers open fire upon the Chinese Destroyers, smashing one and Breaking the squadron|
|Their attack upon the Scout Flyers is stymied by powerful Shields|
|Indus-class Heavy Destroyers cautiously advance|
|The end of the second round of shooting sees the two fleets bloodied, and dangerously close to one another|
|The impressive Indian formation in the centre is at risk of collision, but the Chinese ships will struggle to break through this blockade|
|Corrosion ravages the Dao-class Cruiser, and sinks a damaged Indian Corvette|
|The Honourable Eclipse Company commit to a bombing run over the Destroyers, smashing two of them apart. Their turrets also damage the Support Carriers below|
|Chinese Cruisers move against the Indian Cruiser squadron, waves of conscript-soldiers overwhelming the lead vessel and leaving it a ruined hulk, which will cause trouble for the ships behind|
|The Monitor launches a bold counter-attack, but loses all of it's Boarding parties in the doomed assault|
|The powerful Howitzer-Bombard still cripples a Support Carrier, however|
|The Aerial Bombards break off from their pursuers and strafe the Indian fleet|
|Massive sonic explosions rip through the Indus-class Heavy Destroyers, destroying the second vessel in the squadron|
|The Canda-class Monitor swings to face the enemy flagship, broadsides raking the damaged Chinese Cruiser as it turns. The vessel begins to sink|
|A point-blank shot from the Howitzer finished the crippled Battleship|
|Frigates snake through the islands and finish the damaged Monitor with their Fore Guns, finally bringing it down|
|The Assault Carrier passes through the wreckage|
|The immense power of the Bombard almost destroys one of the Support Carriers|
|The Support Carriers still have teeth, however, passing underneath the Scout Flyers and bringing one down with swarms of conscript-soldiers. Their firepower and brute physical strength smash a Corvette and Destroyer as they coast forward|
|The Chanura slows, opening fire with all three turrets and crippling a Support Carrier, as well as obliterating the last Destroyer|
|Dive Bombers swarm the last Heavy Destroyer, sending it to the ocean floor|
|The Indian Cruisers are forced to collide, taking damage as they ram into one another. The central vessel is destroyed in the chaos|
|The Nu-class Frigates launch a bold attack in the centre of the maelstrom, destroying the last Veeran-class Corvettes and flooding the decks of the Monitor with their Boarding parties|
|The vessel is taken as a Prize!|
|The Hades-class Interceptors make a last ditch attempt to bring down the Aerial Bombards, but lose one of their number in the process|
|Dive Bombers finish the last Cruiser bloodily|
|Swirling chaos around the derricks as the two fleets start to mix|
|The battle draws to a close, as the Chinese have suffered huge losses and their flagship burns|
|The Chinese aerial forces are largely intact, but crucially the last Eclipse Company Interceptor remains operational, allowing them to carry word of the attack back to the ruins of Singapore|
|The few remaining Chinese vessels are surrounded and damaged, though they have caused significant losses for the Indian Raj|
At the end of Turn Three, Mike and the Chinese Federation had scored 885 Victory Points but crucially failed to destroy all Small Squadrons as the Interceptor was still alive. In turn, the Indian Raj and their allies had scored a mighty 1,020 Victory Points and Destroyed the Chinese Battleship - VICTORY FOR THE INDIAN RAJ!
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
- A bloody and close fought game, it was down to the wire who would score the most Victory Points and if Mike would destroy the last of my Small squadrons. Unfortunately for him, he forgot about my Hades-class Interceptors and could not achieve his Objective. In turn, he was also unlucky that I had drawn to destroy his Large squadrons, given that without the Dragon or Dreadnought Fortress, the fleet only had one Large option.
- There was a great deal less fire in this game than in the past, probably due to the poor showing by the Destroyer squadron and the smashing of the Chinese Battleship. It was a bit of a relief not to have to use as many tokens as usual!
- The great debate about Chinese Cruisers versus Gunships continues - some consider the Gunship overpriced and the Cruiser superior with its huge crew complement, but I feel it lacks damage-output without a turret.
- Mike was unimpressed with the Battlecruiser, as it was taken down rather quickly. I have a feeling that Battlecruisers are something that should be taken in pairs, as they are tough, but not tough enough to take a huge beating. As a pair, at least one will get through and get to fire it's powerful weaponry.
- The Indian Raj were on point as usual, though I still cannot work out a great use for the Heavy Destroyer squadron. Poor placement hurt them today, but the rest of the fleet (well, the Howitzer-Bombards) pulled their weight.
- The Eclipse Company had a respectable showing, though I did use two of their best units. The Scout Flyers are a legitimately great squadron, with their shields, strong turrets and Surface Hunter. The Interceptors were useful because of the Chinese flyers present. I am still dubious about the rest of the fleet, however.
- Terrain was as dense as ever, and it turned into a brawl in the big open area in the middle once again. I think next time I will deliberately use fairly sparse terrain. Of course, using two close-range fleets like this does tend to result in a melee in the centre, so I shouldn't worry too much.
"The Chinese Federation were defeated at Labuan, held off at great cost. With half his fleet in ruin, the commander of the Labuan garrison appealed to any who would listen - they would not resist a second attack. The pleas fell on deaf ears, however, as with the losses suffered at Pilau Tioman, the North Balabec Strait and Banda Aceh, there were simply no ships to spare..."