Friday, 11 September 2015

AAR - The Federated States of America versus The Prussian Empire

"In the closing weeks of Summer, 1873, the 17th Reserve Fleet of the Federated States of America finished their sixth tour of duty across the Atlantic and were invited to Liverpool Docks for refit and repair. An unusually generous offer from their allies the Kingdom of Britannia, but a welcome one that would aid their defence of the convoys in the northern Atlantic during their return home. Lead by the immense Dreadnought Dortmunder - still bearing the scars from the Blockade of Greenland the previous summer, the fleet began their approach into Britannian waters on the 7th September. 

New orders reached them before they could turn south toward their destination - the Markgraf had been sighted near the Faroe Islands, and as the largest warship in the vicinity, the Dortmunder was to engage and claim the ship for the Federated States of America. Where other ships had failed, it was hoped another Dreadnought would be a match for the beast. 

This would be a monumental victory for the Federated States - the destruction of an enemy Dreadnought, the end of a known threat to Grand Coalition shipping, and a show of superiority for their "allies" the Russian Coalition. To claim the Markgraf as Prize where the Russians had failed was an irresistible lure for the Federal Naval Command. 

Moving at full speed, the American fleet found the Prussians had not attempted to alter course - they almost appeared to be waiting for them, ready to engage in the open ocean...
- The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1873
Welcome to another chapter in the Hunt for the Markgraf, and the return of the Federated States of America to the open sea. This week, Mike and his dastardly Prussians face the might of the FSA and a grand Dreadnought of their own - obviously if the Russian and Britannians can't deal with the Markgraf, America will have to save the day again!
THE SCENARIO

In this battle, the Prussian Empire fields 1,500pts and the Markgraf versus the Federated States of America and their own 1,500pt fleet. The Objective for both fleets was the destruction or capture of the enemy Dreadnought and scoring at least 750 Victory Points. 

The board was decorated with the new Dark Ocean mat from Deep Cut Studio and nothing else - something different this week to represent the deep open water of the northern Atlantic. Although it made for a striking game that used a great deal more of the surface than usual, it was also a bit stark and I doubt we will try this experiment again! 

Other than the lack of terrain, the deployment and Objective was fairly standard. In something approaching a balanced match, would the Federated States of America be able to match the awesome power of the Markgraf

THE FLEETS
The 17th Reserve Fleet led by the FSS Dortmunder, en-route to Liverpool Docks for refit and repair

My Fleet
The Federated States of America

FSS Dortmunder - Enterprise-class Dreadnought with Shield Generator and Target Painter, accompanied by three Springfield-class Escorts
One San Francisco-class Assault Carrier with Rocket Battery, carrying one wing of five Fighter Planes and one Reconnaissance Plane
One Boston-class Attack Submarine, accompanied by six Turtle-class Assault Submersibles

One Squadron of three Georgetown-class Cruisers with Rocket Batteries
One Squadron of two Princeton-class Gunships with Shield Generators

One Squadron of three Yale-class Heavy Destroyers
One Squadron of four Guilford-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Revere-class Corvettes

Two Wings of five Dive Bombers
The Prussian Hunter Fleet under Baron Grunner, led by the indomitable Markgraf 
Mike's Fleet
The Prussian Empire

SMS Markgraf - Captured Moskva-class Dreadnought with Mimic Generator accompanied by three Wachter-class Escorts
SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth II - Elbe-class Fleet Carrier with Elite Crew, carrying one wing of four Fighter Planes and one wing of five Dive Bombers

One Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser with Aggressive Crew
One Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser with Aggressive Crew
One Squadron of three Hussar-class Gunships
One Squadron of three Uhlan-class Cruisers

One Squadron of four Stolz-class Destroyers
One Squadron of four Arminius-class Frigates accompanied by one Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser
One Squadron of five Saxony-class Corvettes

Two Wings of five Dive Bombers

DEPLOYMENT
The two fleets meet in open water, the great behemoths facing one another
The Prussian fleet deploys in a wide arc, ready to envelop the FSA fleet
The American fleet concentrates the bombardment vessels on the port flank, while the shorter-ranged vessels gather about the Dreadnought
Dawn breaks - perfect visibility for a bloody showdown
TURN ONE
The Boston-class Attack Submarine boldly leads the attack
Accurate fire from the devastating Fore Guns smashes a Hussar-class Gunship
Retaliation is swift - before the Submarine can dive, it is ruined by turret fire from the Prussian Gunships
Georgetown-class Cruisers move to intercept, crippling another and damaging the third Hussar-class Gunship
Too late, the Boston-class Attack Submarine is finished by the Saxony-class Corvettes, a terrible loss so early in the battle
As waves of Bombers move overhead, the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser rakes the port-side Georgetown-class Cruiser, landing a deadly Speerschleuder lance amid the barrage
Princeton-class Gunships open fire at long range, damaging a lone Stolz-class Destroyer
The Elbe-class Fleet Carrier arcs electricity through the Speerschleuder harpoon, destroying the Georgetown-class Cruiser
Uhlan-class Cruisers engage the Princeton-class Gunships and the Yale-class Heavy Destroyers, but are ineffective
A wide shot shows the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier move to engage the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser, causing minor damage
Revere-class Corvettes add to the misery, smashing the rudder as the second Konigberg-class Battlecruiser moves closer
Arminius-class Frigates with their Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser wreak havoc on the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier, their massive electrical attack causing a fire to rage through the decks and ignite something volatile. The vessel disappears in a flash of blinding light, dropping back into reality even closer to the Prussian fleet! 
Guilford-class Destroyers enact some revenge, destroying one Arminius-class Frigate with their Volley Guns while causing a massive fusion leak aboard the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser with rocket fire
Exposed and badly wounded, the San Francisco-class Assault Carrier is finished by the Stolz-class Destroyers
The Dortmunder makes its presence felt, ravaging a wounded Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser and Hussar-class Gunship, then damaging a second Gunship with broadsides
The Markgraf lumbers forward, turrets obliterating three of the Revere-class Corvettes in a brutal display of firepower
The two fleets have engaged, with the opening salvo seeing the Federated States of America take the worst of it. Their Assault Carrier and Attack Submarine have been lost, as well as a Cruiser and several Corvettes. In turn, the Prussian Empire have lost a Battlecruiser and Gunship, and suffered massive damage on the surviving Gunships - an unequal trade, and now the Prussians will be moving into their optimum ranges! 
TURN TWO

The Markgraf leads the charge, opening fire on the Dortmunder for limited effect. Flaring shields deny the Prussians this time
The Georgetown-class Cruisers seize the opportunity and launch their attack upon the battered Hussar-class Gunships, destroying another
The Elbe-class Fleet Carrier unleashes her immense electrical capacity, landing conductive harpoons onto both the Enterprise-class Dreadnought and a Georgetown-class Cruiser
Turtle-class Assault Submersibles overwhelm two of the Saxony-class Corvettes
The Arminius-class Frigates and the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser move to take advantage of the Speerschleuder harpoon embedded in the hull of the Dortmunder, but fail to penetrate the shield! Their boarding parties do scuttle one Revere-class Corvette, but it is of little consolation
The Guilford-class Destroyers move in support, their volley guns and boarding parties destroying two of the Arminius-class Frigates while their rockets cause minor damage to the immense Elbe-class Fleet Carrier
The wounded Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser smashes the last Revere-class Corvette, but the other shooting fails to break the strong FSA armour and shields
Princeton-class Gunships unleash hell on the Uhlan-class Cruisers, damaging them all to various degrees with rocket and turret fire
The Stolz-class Destroyers move to intercept the Yale-class Heavy Destroyers, obliterating one utterly in a massive explosion as the magazine is hit! 
The explosion smashes two of the Stolz-class Destroyers asunder, while the surviving Yale-class Heavy Destroyers weather the storm
Reorganising after the bloody demise of their squadron mate, the Yale-class Destroyers cripple one of the Uhlan-class Cruisers with their bombards, while their boarding parties lose their lives attempting to take a Stolz-class Destroyer
The Prussian Cruisers wreak havoc amid the FSA Gunships, smashing one badly with turrets and broadsides while their I rampage through the decks of the second, leaving it a burning hulk
Dive Bombers hit a crucial section of the reactor on the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
The badly wounded Hussar-class Gunship shreds the defences of the Georgetown-class Cruiser
The second squadron of Dive Bombers finish it
Air War! Prussian and American Fighter Planes wipe each other out after the FSA bring down one squadron of Prussian Dive Bombers
The Saxony-class Corvettes move against the Georgetown-class Cruisers, causing severe damage and sabotaging one during a bloody boarding action. They are unable to capture the vessel, however
The Duel! The Dortmunder swings about and causes critical damage to the Markgraf, while the Escorts bring down the last Arminius-class Frigate, Fire into the Prussian Battlecruiser and Fleet Carrier is ineffective
This wideshot shows the battle unfolding. The FSA have led a tenacious counter-attack, causing massive damage to many of the Prussian vessels for relatively few losses. The two Dreadnoughts are preparing to enter close range with one another - the carnage has not even begun
TURN THREE

The Target Painter on the Enterprise-class Dreadnought succeeds in marking the grand Moskva-class Dreadnought
Punishing Gunnery! The Dortmunder unleashes hell into the Markgraf, smashing the generators and causing massive damage. Broadside fire also ruins a Stolz-class Destroyer, but fails to finish off the wounded Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
A shot from a different angle shows the path of the Dreadnought
The Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser launches an ill-fated attack on the Enterprise-class Dreadnought that leaves all of its boarding parties dead. Turret and broadside fire rips through the Guilford-class Destroyers, however
The Princeton-class Gunship still has teeth, destroying one Uhlan-class Cruiser, damaging another and rendering the third derelict with a boarding assault
An aerial view of the two fleets beginning to mingle
In the centre the Dortmunder looks to be winning the duel - will it finally destroy the Markgraf?
The Markgraf opens fire once more, forcing the shields of the enemy flagship to flare. It takes minor damage, though one of the Springfield-class Escorts is destroyed by the fusillade
The crippled Georgetown-class Cruisers try in vain to damage the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier
Tesla fire shreds one of them
The Guilford-class Destroyers break the keel of the dying Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser, cleaing their appraoch to the rest of the enemy fleet
Dive Bombers break through the Shield Generator array, adding more damage to the Enterprise-class Dreadnought
Yale-class Heavy Destroyers batter the last Uhlan-class Cruiser into scrap
The Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser is unable to damage the surrounding ships with its Tesla arrays
Turtle-class Submersibles drag down another Saxony-class Corvette
The guns may be only partially effective, but the boarding parties of the last Stolz-class Destroyer bring down one of the Yale-class Destroyers
The Federated States of America have held the line, but barely. The Prussian centre is still strong, even as the squadrons on the flanks are singled out and destroyed
TURN FOUR 
The Elbe-class Fleet Carrier takes the initiative, unleashing electrical fire in all directions. The Georgetown-class Cruiser is finished, but the Enterprise-class Dreadnought rides the storm and survives, barely! 
Liked a cornered beast, the Dortmunder attacks wildly, smashing two of the Wachter-class Escorts and damaging the Markgraf further, while boarding parties launch onto the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser and leave it a ruined hulk
Saxony-class Corvettes launch their assault, aiming to soften up the defenders of the enemy flagship enough for later attack. Their Luftlancers are wiped out, but the crew of the Dortmunder is badly diminished
The Yale-class Heavy Destroyers hunts down the last Stolz-class Destroyer
The Killing Blow! The Markgraf launches a massive boarding assault on the Dortmunder, wiping out the defenders and sabotaging the vessel. It is left to drift,  a barely salvageable ruin

Firepower from the Prussian flagship brings down another Springfield-class Escort and a Guilford-class Destroyer
In the shadow of their lost master, the Guilford-class Destroyers smash the two Saxony-class Corvettes and wound the last Wachter-class Escort
The scattered remnants of the American fleet fire at long range before disengaging
Turtle-class Assault Submersibles disappear underwater after a last foray against the mighty Dreadnought
THE AFTERMATH
The damaged Markgraf, Elbe-class Fleet Carrier and lone Wachter-class Escort plough on into the Atlantic
The battered and weary ships of the 17th Reserve Fleet limp to the nearest friendly port
At the end of four gruelling turns, the Federated States of America had lost their flagship and were a battered mess, unable to match the firepower of both the Markgraf and an Elbe-class Fleet Carrier. The Dortmunder burning, the FSA were forced to disengage, but had scored significant damage to the Prussian fleet. 

Mike and the Prussian Empire scored 1,450 Victory Points and achieved their Objective, while the Federated States of America scored 1,432 Victory Points but did not score their Objective - VICTORY FOR THE PRUSSIAN EMPIRE! 

CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS

Another victory for the Markgraf, carving a path across the North Sea and now the Atlantic! Things got mighty close this time, however, with the Federated States' Dreadnought Dortmunder coming close to cracking the Ablative Armour and causing significant damage with only a few salvos. Had I not sacrificed so many American ships early in the game, the Prussians would have had a much harder time of it.

The first turn was awful for the Federated States, as their Assault Carrier and Submarine were both destroyed. It was crazy for me to rush these forward (though the Sturginium Flare dropping the Carrier even closer to the Prussian fleet did not help), and I obviously got greedy to cause damage as soon as possible.

Later in the game, the counter-attack did cause significant damage to the Prussian fleet, and things looked better for the Americans. Unfortunately destroying the smaller vessels did mean the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier was largely ignored, and this enabled it to score the killing blows at the end of the game. The combination of the Dreadnought and Fleet Carrier has caused untold damage across the campaign, I should have learned by now! 

Mike's Tesla Generators were particularly poor this game - nothing above a one! Not a great showing for the secret weapon of the Prussian Empire this week. 

The FSA enhanced Shield Generator (3) and Target Painter however - wow! The Enterprise-class Dreadnought was on top form today, and the Generators can take most of the credit.

Escorts were largely uninspiring for the FSA, assisting in some boarding actions but otherwise not contributing anything significant. In turn, the Prussian escorts did well Linking with the Secondary weaponry on the Dreadnought, making the Beam Turrets feel very powerful. 

The Yale-class Havy Destroyers were... well, they survived the game and caused some good hits, but I think would prefer another squadron of Princeton-class Gunships or Guilford-class Destroyers in almost any circumstance. As discussed when they were first released, I am not sure about their place in the fleet - is there a gap they fill, or something else I am missing? Overall, a cool squadron, but ineffective/unimpressive for the points cost. 

The Federated States felt a bit lacklustre against the always impressive Prussian Empire today, but this can be attributed to not taking or losing all the new ships (like the Assault Carrier and Submarine) in the early stages of the game and not concentrating my rocket fire on a single target. I think I have been spoiled by the Russian Coalition in recent games and need to realise how powerful the FSA can be when used properly. I do not have a huge amount of experience with them as they are not my fleet (they belong to my good friend Ben), so perhaps in the future I will learn from this and remember to use them more effectively. 

THE NARRATIVE

"Once again, the hubris inspired by the Markgraf had led to defeat for the Grand Coalition, and yet more tragic loss of human life. The vessel's mere existence had driven the Russian Coalition mad, and was now weaving the Federated States of America into it's spell, luring them into engagements where they could be surrounded and slaughtered.

... but the battle near Faroe Islands was not an unmitigated disaster - the Markgraf had been grievously wounded by the Dortmunder, and the supporting Hunter Fleet badly mauled. The location of the Dreadnought was now confirmed to the Grand Coalition, and as many ships as could be mustered were given orders to hunt it down once and for all. 

The Prussians, of course, were not willing to lose their prize yet..."

Thanks for reading,

George

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