"For a number of years, the weather station at Kiska Island had been all-but abandoned, leaving the remote outpost undefended against potential aggression from the Empire of the Blazing Sun. The strategic importance of the island was questionable, but the some within the intelligence agencies of the Federated States of America believed there was a chance the Blazing Sun (or the Russian Coalition...) could use Kiska and the rest of the Aleutian Island chain in an island-hopping campaign up from Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula, into Canada and then down into FSA territory.
Tensions with the Russian Coalition had been high for the entire War, especially for those captains based in the North Pacific and the Bering Sea in the wake of the Bering Incident. Seeking to score political points and show-up the Russian Navy, Admiral Franklin E. King ordered an Expeditionary Fleet to secure Kiska in the interest of national security and to salvage any leftover Russian technology from their barely-manned weather station.
Such a blatantly aggressive move was not in the interests of the American Congress or General Staff, and in the tense months that followed, few could justify the order for the attempted annexation beyond the personal vendetta of Admiral King. The truth behind who gave the order would be lost in the political debacle that followed...
...regardless of the explanation for the deployment of the Expeditionary Fleet, nothing would matter as they sailed unsuspectingly into the guns of the Russian's secret Aleutian Patrol Fleet, Battlegroup Chirikov, and began the first major naval engagement between the Federated States and the Russian Coalition in nearly three years..."
- Shadows of Bering: Skirmish at Kiska
Naval Battles of 1872
Playing with smaller fleets, we have set-up a smaller board, albeit one with a large amount to terrain to represent the treacherous icebergs that the two fleets will duel amongst. Amidst the confusion of the ice and the proximity of the island, the two supposed allies will face one another.
Drawing Secret Objectives, Ben chose to settle for the easy choice and aim to destroy seventy percent of the fleet value - a touch prospect with the impressive armour of the Russian Coalition, but perhaps easier than targeting one particular class of ship given my fleet roster. In turn, the Russian Coalition would have to capture or destroy fifty percent of Ben's fleet, and take out his Commodore - in this case, the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier. My experience with destroying Carriers is not fantastic, but given the aggressive role of the Assault Carrier, it would be unusual for Ben to hide it out of harm's way - all I need to do is not reveal my Objective too soon!
Onto the game...
|Aleutian Islands Patrol Fleet, Battlegroup Chirikov|
The Russian Coalition
One Borodino-class Battleship with Mimic Generator
One Dudinka-class Assault Carrier with Glacier Generator, carrying one Recon Plane and one squadron of five Dive Bombers
One Azov-class Battle Cruiser with Regular crew
Three Suvorov-class Cruisers
One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
|North Pacific 6th Expeditionary Flotilla|
The Federated States of America
One Boston-class Attack Submarine accompanied by six Turtle-class Assault Submersibles
One San Francisco-class Assault Carrier with Rocket Battery, with one Recon Plane and one squadron of five Dive Bombers
One Annapolis-class Battle Cruiser with rocket battery and Kinetic Generator
Three Georgetown-class Cruisers with rocket batteries
Two Squadrons of four Guilford-class Destroyers
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
|The two fleets meet amid the ice, fighting close to the once-abandoned weather station|
|The American fleet is parted by the central iceberg, with their flanks held by Destroyer squadrons|
|The Russian fleet forms a wall of iron, but is ready to split amid the icebergs once they enter the field|
|The Russian Carrier forms a wall of ice before it, and the flagship moves alongside. The Mimic Generator copies the Rocket Jammer of the Azov-class Battle Cruiser, giving the Battleship a measure of protection against the American rocketry|
|Russian long-range fire is ineffective, and the FSA fleet advances|
|Most of the powerful Russian ordnance falls short|
|The San Francisco-class Assault Carrier swings about, lining up a shot with the Devastating Ordnance of the Fore Guns|
|The Russian flagship takes damage, but is protected by the Ablative Armour plating from a critical strike|
|Rostov-class Destroyers bring their powerful cannons to bear|
|The port-side Cruiser feels their wrath, the main turret of the vessel taking damage|
|Guilford-class Destroyers move in support|
|Rocket Jammers and Ablative Armour protect the Battleship once more|
|The American fleet is aggressive, driven to arrogance by the short-range of the Russian turrets|
|Massed gunnery and waves of rocketry only cause minor damage to the Russian heavy-hitters - not enough to slow them down|
|The threat of the Corvettes is appreciated, but their speed and small stature allow them to evade a great deal of damage|
|The Submarines hug the cover of the icebergs, while the Cruiser squadron and Destroyers hold the centre|
|The Russian fleet splits between the icebergs to prevent any flanking manoeuvres by the FSA|
|The FSA port flank is anchored by the second Destroyer squadron and an Annapolis-class Battle Cruiser|
|The Russians commit to the central strait with three of their largest vessels, supported by the no-less dangerous Destroyers|
|Neither side have suffered much damage, and the American Admiral is beginning to realise how close the Russian fleet will be when the next salvo comes in - should he have acted more cautiously? Where will the hammer fall first?|
|The Rostov-class Destroyers advance and cripple the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier, but the Guilford-class Destroyers counter, first launching a wave of rockets into the Borodino-class Battleship|
|As rockets launch overhead, the Fore Guns and several Boarding Parties of Marines attack the Rostov-class Destroyers, leaving the squadron a scattered ruin|
|Counter-Assault - the Kazimov-class Corvettes use their incredible speed to overwhelm the Annapolis-class Battle Cruiser, flooding the decks with furious, drunken conscripts|
|Shocked at the loss of their escort, the Destroyer evade the Russian Corvettes and move forward|
|Rocket fire and gunnery causes damage to two of the Russian Cruisers|
|Across the ice flow, the damaged Borodino-class Battleship opens fire upon the Guilford-class Destroyers, destroying one and crippling a second|
|The Carrier moves to protect the Battleship, powerful broadsides damaging the Submarine|
|Dive Bombers descend upon the Russian flagship and finally break through the layered Ablative Armour, leaving it badly wounded and exposed|
|The Suvorov-class Cruiser squadron engages the Destroyers, destroying two and damaging a third with their powerful ordnance|
|The Georgetown-class Cruisers open fire upon the Russian Carrier, smashing the rudder|
|The Azov-class Battle Cruiser moves to retaliate, turrets entering close range and crippling two of the American vessels|
|Turtle-class Assault Submarines flood the decks with their Boarding Parties, and though they are beaten off at great cost they manage to Sabotage the fore guns and cripple the vessels long-range firepower|
|Dive Bombers swoop over the Cruiser squadron, destroying the central vessel|
|In turn, Federacy Dive Bombers smash the crew compartments of the Azov-class Battle Cruiser and cause significant dmaage|
|The second squadron of Russian Dive Bombers finish another Georgetown-class Cruiser|
|It is not enough, however, as the Federacy fleet is smashed bloody by the Eastern Goliath and signals for clemency|
|The lone Cruiser and the Destroyers reach an accord on the far side of the iceberg|
|Bloodied but unbroken, the wall of Russian ships prepare to clear the bottle-neck and assert their control of the Kiska Island weather station|
After a furiously bloody two turns, the game was over and the Russian Coalition stood victorious, having achieved their Secret Objective in destroying the Commodore's vessel and scoring a total of 635 Victory Points. In turn, the Federated States had slowed the Russian onslaught but only scored 340 Victory Points.
Had the game continued, the Russians would have lost a great deal more as their ships were battered and positioned close to one another, but in turn the Americans would have sacrificed a great deal of their surviving ships. It was always going to be a difficult game for Ben, especially when the Destroyers and Assault Carrier managed to score so many hits on his flagship and smash it in two rounds of shooting, and the Battle Cruiser was lost to Boarding in the same turn. The terrain was in the Russian favour, and next time, we will aim for a bigger board and less dense placement of the islands and icebergs.
LEARNING POINTS AND CONCLUSIONS
- The Russian Coalition show their strengths in the new addition, with Ablative Armour being an excellent (and easy to use) defensive rule. The improved Critical value saved my ships from suffering double-critical results on more than one occasion.
- The defences of the Target Jammers were less impressive, but Ben was wise to use his Disruption Generator early in the game to take those Generators Offline.
- Offensively, the Russians were brilliant in Range Band 1 and 2, as they have always been. They did have some gunnery in further Bands, but was fairly inconsequential. Still, nice to be able to do something in the early turns of the game.
- The failures of the American gunnery in Turn One lead to the problems in Turn Two, as the Destroyers and Assault Carrier were able to attack the American flagship unhindered, and the Corvettes could surround the Battle Cruiser without much trouble.
- In the future, I believe Ben will aim to hold back a bit with some of his more valuable vessels! He was largely unimpressed with his fleet's performance in this game, and I believe his next Battle Report will see the Chinese Federation return to the water. I, in turn, enjoyed playing the Russian Coalition and would like to try some of their longer-ranged ships and give the mortars a try.
"...the chaos that followed the engagement at Kiska threatened the stability of the entire Grand Coaltion - this despite initial reports from both governments denying any action had even occurred. Agitators pressed the issue and roused the general populace, seemingly intent on causing a major diplomatic incident. Their mutual enemies in the Imperial Bond preyed on the weakness to try and divide the Great Powers, attributing many of their own attacks to the Russians or Americans in an attempt to cause greater confusion.
Neither side were willing to make concessions, but following a series of secret meetings it was decided that the two fleets had "engaged briefly" following false information of a marauding Blazing Sun fleet in the area. The attack was labelled as a "gross accident," and for a time, the fire that threatened to engulf the alliance of the Russian Coalition and the Federacy burned low once more..."
Till the next time!