The latest releases for the League of Italian States are now available, and to coincide with the release the nice folks at Spartan Games have updated the rules in their Downloads section and made the models available individually in their Online Store. I'm very pleased to see their proactive approach with these new released, and have already placed my order for some of the new Italian vessels!
The Italian fleet has always been outwardly fragile, but surprisingly dangerous - their enhanced Shield Generators and the Hit and Run MAR give them some situational and luck-based defences that can make them seem unstoppable, yet equally one set of bad dice rolls and the ships will crumble. Another defining feature of the League, for me anyway, has been their "Death by a Thousand Cuts," synergistic playstyle.
No one vessel of squadron stands out and operates alone - they are a fleet that feed off one another to bring down the bigger foe, all the while zipping around the board, using their Close Gunnery before running away or past their foe, while their powerful Shield Generators protect them. If they get caught, they will be destroyed, but if you've played well, it will be a sacrifice willingly made so the rest of the fleet can jump in and deliver the killing blow.
The new Minerva-class Battle Cruiser fits this theme brilliantly - a Node Launcher for the Calcification Generator means there is a good chance your opponent will be suffering Shredded Defences on a large number of his vessels - perfect prey for the Faster Torpedoes! Four turrets with Close Gunnery are also distinctly nasty. I might not have the greatest faith in the Battle Cruiser class as a whole, but the Minerva brings something to the table and is a real force multiplier. This ship gets my unreserved approval, and has stirred up some interest in the Italian fleet single-handedly.
The Pugio-class Escort is not quite an auto-include, but brings Range Band 2 torpedoes that can link with the parent vessels to improve their Torpedo Turrets. Help with AA is also useful, especially against enemy boarding parties, and the price of 25pts matches most other Escorts in the game.
The Naval Fleet has expanded with these two new choices, and will improve some of the more lacklustre squadrons by denying the opposition their torpedo defences. The Minerva is the winner here, and I will be running two!
For the Aerial units, we see quite a few new units, and though I really do not like the look of the Ballistae-class Sky Fortress, it is a perfectly serviceable cheap Carrier - not exactly armed to the teeth though. Combined with being ugly as sin, I'll be passing on these one.
The Pilum-class Scoutships are a bit more intriguing, given they can be another source for a Calcification Generator on a Node Launcher, and carry good defensive statistics. Only one gun (plus bombs) make them feel a little light, and they are pricey, but combined with a Minerva you can guarantee the opposing fleet will be defenceless to the waves of torpedoes unleashed by the rest of the fleet (especially the Fortuna-class Torpedo Bombers).
Lastly, the Stiletto-class Interceptors bring cheap and easy AA, on a very difficult-to-hit target. Moving 14" and with Hunter (Aerial) on both their gunnery and AA, they can seriously damage an enemy Sky Fortress or other aerial threat without fear, and I like them a lot. If I know my enemy will be fielding lots of flyers, they're an easy choice!
So there we are! The League of Italian States have expanded nicely, and their new Aerial Battle Group carries good internal synergy with the Node Launcher of the Pilum Scoutships and the torpedoes of the Fortuna Torpedo Bombers, while the Stiletto Interceptors deal with rival flyers. As support for the Naval fleet, the Node Launcher is equally valid, while the Interceptors can assist if needed. The Sky Fortress can be a cheaper source of tiny flyers in either fleet, and it is only the Heavy Bomber I am not sure about yet - it a good looking plane, but is it worth taking alone? I will have to try it out!
Thanks for reading,