"Typhoon season slowed the War in the South China Sea, but it would not last forever, and both sides had not been idle in preparing for the next offensive. The Grand Coalition had been stretched thin at the end of the last year, forced to employ mercenaries against the immense fleets of the Chinese Federation, and following the success at Labuan, they prepared once more to engage the services of the Honourable Eclipse Company.
In concordance with the Naval Command of the Federated States of America, the Admiralty of the Brtiannian Royal Navy and the Brigade commanders of the Honourable Eclipse Company formed a plan to mislead and trick the Chinese Federation, drawing one of their fleets into a trap the Eclipse Company would spring.
After weeks of preparation, everything was in place for the Second Element of the Nanyang Fleet to be drawn into the Natuna Archipelago, where secret fortifications lurked beneath the waves ready to emerge and attack the Chinese fleet. A small American Destroyer group would serve as the bait, while the grand airships and bombers of the Eclipse Company would lurk overhead, to descend from the clouds and destroy the enemy.
The trap was a fine one, but doubts lurked in the minds of the fleet commanders - would the Chinese Federation fall for the ruse? What if they were aware of the trap, and prepared accordingly? These questions would be answered in the coming hours..."
- The Cauldron: War in the South China Sea
Naval Battles of 1873
This game takes focus back to the South China Sea, as the Chinese Federation continue their aggressive attacks in all directions. This time however, the Grand Coalition have lured a Chinese Battle Group out of position and into the sights of their mercenary allies - the Honourable Eclipse Company. Relatively light on terrain (especially after the last game), this game would be a reminder for us that Dystopian Wars is not just fought at sea - the Eclipse Company would be bringing a large number of aerial assets to the game, as well as Fortifications and some Submarine action from the Federated States of America.
I had said some rather derogatory things about the Honourable Eclipse Company in the past - their armament and statistics in the new Edition of Dystopian Wars are certainly not what they once were, but perhaps I had been unfair. This game would be a good chance to try them out once more.
Setting the game at 1,500pts, we both drew Secret Objectives. Mike chose to exchange his drawn Objective for the Free to Engage, meaning he would have to Capture or Destroy 70% of my fleet value (1,050pts). In turn, I naturally drew Free to Engage as well. The stage was set for a bloodbath!
|Battle Group Zehai, Second Element of the Nanyang Fleet, out of Shanghai|
The Honourable Eclipse Company
One Elysium-class Sky Fortress with one wing of five Fighter Planes and one Reconnaissance Plane
Three Phoenician-class Scout Flyers
Four Oceanus-class Bombers
Five Hades-class Interceptors
Tartarus-class Assault Hangar with eight Stingray-class Assault Submarines
Two Gadeiros-class Attack Craft Hangar with eight Atlas-class Attack Craft and Guardian Generators
Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
|The 7th Destroyer Group stationed at Singapore in support of the Kingdom of Britannia|
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 Reconnaisance Plane and one wing of five Dive Bombers
One Squadron of four Guilford-class Destroyers
|The fleets face one another|
|The hidden fortifications of the Honourable Eclipse Company rise from the water as the fleet springs the trap|
|American naval vessels move under the cover of their aerial allies|
|Squadrons of bombers and interceptors small and large descend from the skies|
|The Chinese fleet keeps a close formation, protected behind the energy field of their Jiu Long Bi Generators|
|They close on the newly revealed enemy fortifications, ready to surround and destroy them|
|Seeking to break the Wall, the Eclipse Company and their employers target the two central Dun Bastions. Long-range shooting from the fortifications and the Scout Flyers bring one down, breaking the chain|
|The Chinese Federation advance cautiously behind their Jiu Long Bi Generators, turrets causing damage to the fortifications and rockets the Elysium-class Sky Fortress|
|As the Tartarus Assault Hangar takes massive damage from the flamethrowers of the Yue-class Destroyers, the Elysium swings around and unleashes the Earth Shaker Cannon. All three Destroyers are obliterated in a massive series of explosions|
|The brutal power of the Earth Shaker Cannon rips through the Chinese formation|
|The Boston-class Attack Submarine reveals itself|
|The second Dun Bastion is destroyed by the heavy ordnance of the Submarine|
|The American Submarine slips back beneath the waves|
|The Honourable Eclipse Company have suffered in return, their fortifications battered by sonic weaponry and ruined by flame|
|Wrath of the Red Dragon! The Jian-class Battleship leads the attack, calling all nearby vessels to redouble their efforts and launch a coordinated Boarding Assault|
|Rockets from the Chinese flagship smashes the American carrier|
|Broadsides brace the Tartarus Assault Hangar, while the Dragon's Breath flamethrowers scour the nearest Gadeiros Attack Craft Hangar|
|The Scout Flyers cannot escape the well-drilled conscript-soldiers, however, and the Dao-class Cruisers launch an assault that renders two of the airships Derelict, drifting hulks. Their ordnance also damages one of the fortifications even further|
|The Destroyer squadron launches a hail of rockets|
|One of the Chui-class Support Carrier is hit badly, fire raging through the flight deck|
|Stingray Assault Submarines swarm the Guan Dao-class Battle Cruiser, rampaging through the decks and leaving it a ruined hulk|
|Some of the Dive Bombers slip through and manage to finish the Tartarus Assault Hangar. It slips beneath the waves|
|Hades-class Interceptors attack the remaining Battle Cruiser, causing major damage while their machine guns clear the skies of Chinese Fighter Planes|
|Atlas Attack Craft harry the rear of the Chinese Cruiser squadron, damaging one|
|The San Francisco-class Assault Carrier causes more misery for the crew of the damaged Cruiser|
|Turtle-class Assault Submersibles attack the Battle Cruiser, losing all of their men but wiping out the defenders in the process. As they are cut down, the Federacy Marines cause major damage to the ship|
|Once again, the elusive Submarine dives beneath the waves before the enemy can retaliate|
Also pictured, American Dive Bombers fall upon a Chinese Cruiser, almost destroying it with pinpoint accuracy
|The fires raging through the Support Carrier finally consume it|
|The aerial squadrons are too close for the Chinese to shoot down, and too high for their conscript-soldiers to attack|
|Chaos as the two fleets close|
|On the port-side, the Attack Submarines of the Eclipse Company and the Federated States have stalled the Battle Cruisers|
|The Chinese flagship turns about, finishing the Gadeiros platform|
The Dragon's Breath flamethrowers are unleashed upon the Elysium, causing hideous damage to the Sky Fortress
|Oceanus-class Bombers attack and destroy the second Support Carrier|
|Nu-class Frigates close on the damaged Sky Fortress and unleash waves of conscript-soldiers. They are barely beaten back, and leave only scattered survivors, but the ship remains in their hands|
|As they attack the Sky Fortress, their broadsides bring down two of the Hades-class Interceptors|
|The remaining Stingray Attack Submarines overtake and scuttle the second Battle Cruiser|
|The Destroyer squadron turns about and fire upon the Jian-class Battleship, but cause no damage|
|The last, crippled Dao-class Cruiser attacks the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier|
|The Assault Carrier retaliates, damaging the Battleship with its powerful Fore Guns and Capturing the Cruiser with Marines|
Rockets also damage the Dun Bastion lurking behind the fleet
|Interceptors strafe the Frigate squadron and sink one|
|The Phoenician-class Scout Flyer bombs another Frigate and cripples the Support Carrier in front of it. Boarding parties launched against the Chinese flagship do not survive the jump|
|The Chinese fleet is broken as waves of Dive Bombers finish the Battleship, breaking it apart|
|The Chinese fleet is lost, only a damaged Bastion and two Frigates remain|
|Many of the Eclipse Company airships and bombers are badly damaged, and will need extensive refits|
|With the drifting hulks and Derelict vessels lost, the survivors look far more scattered and broken|
|The Honourable Eclipse Company achieved aerial superiority early, and held it. Their waves of bombers secured the victory|
|The Chinese fleet has fallen into the trap and been destroyed, and now the counter-attack can begin in earnest|
In the wake of that bloody three turns, the Honourable Eclipse Company and their benefactors scored 1,575 Victory Points and fulfilled their stated Objective, while the Chinese Federation only scored a (still respectable) 804 Victory Points. Victory to the Grand Coalition and their Mercenary allies!
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
A brutal affair, as usual. The Chinese Federation are consistently tough and deal out huge amounts of punishment with their flamethrowers, Concussive turrets and Incendiary rockets. So many tokens! On top of that, they have ridiculous numbers of AP on their vessels and access to swarms of Dive Bombers and fighters with their cheap Carriers and Swarm Tactics. So what went wrong for Mike?
Mike reckons the protection offered by the Dun Bastions is not worth holding the fleet back - especially in the opening turn, his fleet was slower than usual and failed to get into the best range bands. In the following turns, it was too late as the Eclipse Company flyers were overhead dropping bombs and the best Chinese ships had been dealt with.
As usual, Mike is also unimpressed with the quality of the Battle Cruisers - they are too easy to take out of the game, as their defences are far weaker than the Battleship and their damage output falls too quickly as they take damage. For the price of the two Battle Cruisers, Mike would much rather a second Battleship, or squadron of Gunships.
Isolated Systems once again proved its worth - such an annoying rule when your opponent is rolling well! I guess I can't complain too hard when my Swift Manoeuvre rolls were equally good.
The Honourable Eclipse Company performed well, and though I was getting worried in the early turns when the Chinese Commodore ability "Wrath of the Red Dragon" had his conscripts swarming my Scout Flyers and Bombers, the high AA values of the airships protected them, or at least cost him so many AP to take that they were easier to deal with later in the game.
Later in the game, the aerial superiority of the Eclipse Company proved invaluable as they cleared the skies of Chinese Bombers and Fighters, allowing them to bomb and strafe as they pleased. This shows the game can get unbalanced quickly when one player is fielding lots of Aerial assets, and I imagine a more equal game where Mike was fielding some Interceptors would be more even.
This aerial superiority gave them the edge they needed, as in my mind the Oceanus-class Bombers and the Hades-class Interceptors were not hugely impressive. The Oceanus-class Bombers did do (surprisingly) well with their Bombs, however, so I cannot be too derogatory. In fact, looking back on it both squadrons caused more damage than their mediocre stats on paper would suggest. Thus proves the value of playtesting!
The Phoenician-class Scout Flyers continue to impress, however. Their combination of MARs and huge firepower makes them an easy investment every time. Mike was right to try and get rid of them as soon as possible. Later in the game, when only one remained, it still managed to cause significant damage across the board.
The Fortifications were poor, as usual (the AD-values on their guns are pitiful), but they absorbed a good amount of damage and their Guardian Generators were nice to have. The real value, however, is their Attack Craft. The Stingrays took down two Battle Cruisers, and the Atlas Attack Craft destroyed a Cruiser and harried several other squadrons - bravo! In combination with the FSA Turtles they caused havoc.
The Americans were fine - the Submarine once again proved its worth, and the Assault Carrier still had teeth when the Chinese had caused it significant damage. The value of Devastating Ordnance! The Destroyers did not manage to achieve much, and if I was to play again I would either target easier prey or swap them for a big pile of Corvettes.
Overall, the Honourable Eclipse Company acquitted themselves well, and though I was worrying at the start of Turn Two, their powers combined with the Devastating Ordnance of the FSA ships and some excellent Boarding actions caused a landslide of bad results for the Chinese fleet, picking them apart and reducing their strength.
In the future, without American support and facing an enemy with more Aerial assets, I think it would be a far more even game, but as it was, they had a great combination of aerial supremacy, Boarding power and Devastating Ordnance that crippled the Chinese Federation.
"The trap at Great Natuna was a massive success and the Second Element of the Nanyang Fleet utterly destroyed. This, the first great victory against the Chinese Federation in months, was celebrated accordingly with toasts across the world and medals for all involved.
The Honourable Eclipse Company demanded their fee, however, and the price would rise if they wanted another victory like that in the future..."
Thanks for reading,