With reinforcement lacking and his options running out, Grunner embarked on a highly risky strategy - his fleet would lure their pursuers to the Norwegian coastline and seek to double-back and outflank them amid the rocks. At the same time, they would draw the attention of the fiercely territorial Teutonic Order of Prussian-Scandinavia. Enraged by the presence of foreign interlopers in their waters, it was hoped the Teutonic Order would deploy their infamous Battle Robots to intercede on their behalf.
The plan was, at least initially, a complete success. Seneschal Gerhard mobilised his Baronial Court as soon as the Russian fleet appeared on the horizon. At Midbrødøya, the immense Battle Robots clambered down the rocks and into the ocean, led by their master aboard the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot Carolus Rex.
...but Grunner had underestimated the size of the Russian fleet. A truly titanic clash would occur as the Teutonic Order strode into battle with a huge fleet of enemy warships. By days end, both sides would be reeling from the cost of Grunner's arrogance..."
The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1873
Having recently finished the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot, I thought it was time for the Teutonic Order of Prussian-Scandinavia to return to the battlefield!
The mission was simple - who would score the most Victory Points in four turns. The main difference would be deployment, as the fleets would be set up diagonally across a board, with the leading elements of the Teutonic Order only 24" away from the Russian Coalition to represent their surprise attack.
The Prussian fleet would not be allowed to take an Elbe-class Fleet Carrier after the loss of the Kaiserin Elisabeth II last game, and would be forced to run a Donner Squadron (the survivors of last round) in addition to the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot (because I want to see it in action). The total fleet allowance was 1,850pts.
The Donner Squadron were set up in support of the Markgraf, which was only a terrain piece today, while the Teutonic Order were set up on the island chain. The rest of the Prussian fleet would launch their attack from behind the islands.
The Russian fleet would be running my latest additions - all the Specialist Squadrons, two Battleships and a Dreadnought. A LOT of firepower! The rest of the 1,850pts was filled out with Destroyers, Corvettes, Strike Submarines and a Fleet Carrier, all set up along one corner of the board.
|Battle is joined!|
|Battle Group Kolobanov, leading element of the White Banner Northern Fleet operating in the North Sea|
Poltava - Moskva-class Dreadnought with Mimic Generator
Sviatoi Velikomuchenik Isidor - Borodino-class Battleship with Mimic Generator
Grahzdanin - Borodino-class Battleship with Mimic Generator
Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier with Glacier Generator, accompanied by one wing of five Fighter Planes and one wing of four Fighter Planes
Rogatina Squadron - one Azov-class Battle Cruiser and three Veliky-class Escorts
Pevek Cruiser Squadron - one Tambov-class Gunship and two Suvorov-class Cruisers
Shashka Squadron - one Tiksi-class Support Cruiser and three Novgorod-class Frigates
One Squadron of three Chany-class Submarines
One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes
Two Wings of five Dive Bombers
|Wolf Pack out of Stralsund, led by Sturmbringer-class Submarine U-221|
|Donner Squadron, escorting the Markgraf and tenders|
|The Baronial Court, warriors of The Teutonic Order of Prussian-Scandinavia led by Seneschal Gerhard aboard the Carolus Rex|
U-221 - Sturmbringer-class Submarine carrying one Reconnaissance Plane
One Squadron of three Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers accompanied by one Havel-class Light Carrier, carrying one wing of four Fighter Planes
One Squadron of four Saxony-class Corvettes
Two Squadrons of four Arminius-class Frigates
Donner Squadron - one Adler-class Heavy Bomber and three Zerstorer-class Strike Bombers
Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
The Teutonic Order of Prussian-Scandinavia
Carolus Rex - Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot armed with a pair of Speerschleuder Turrets and a Blitzschlag-Zweihander Sword
Three Metzger AUSF-B Battle Robots
|The Russian fleet pursues the Markgraf into the shadow of Midbrødøya, where the giants stir|
|The Russian fleet is built around the Battleships and Dreadnought in the centre|
|The Teutonic Order strides over the rocks toward their prey|
|The Prussian Battle Group will move through this channel in support of the Markgraf, but have not yet arrived and missed their photo opportunity!|
|Probing attacks as the Teutonic Order send their first Battle Robot into range|
|Chany-class Strike Submarine launch their attack from the deep, causing critical damage to the leading Metzger|
|The Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot looms between the rocks, a cascade of lightning ripping through the lead Chany-class Strike Submarine and destroying it in one volley!|
|In a brutal show of force, the Moskva-class Dreadnought opens fire with all five turrets and smashes the leading Metzger Battle Robot|
|The two fleets manoeuvre and exchange long-range fire, with only the Rostov-class Destroyers taking damage - a Speerschleuder harpoon from the Sturmbringer-class Submarine|
|The Prussian fleet attacks!|
|The wall of Russian ships shifts to port to face the immense Robots of the Teutonic Order|
|The Robots are worryingly close, but can they withstand the firepower of a Dreadnought and two Battleships?|
|The Carolus Rex strides forward into the teeth of the Russian guns, lightning cascading over the Moskva-class Dreadnought and causing incredible damage|
|Fighters duel in the air, trying to clear a path for the Bombers|
|A second Metzger clambers over the rocks, landing another Speerschleuder harpoon into the side of the Polkava|
|Under heavy fire, the Russian Commodore launches his attack, but in such a weakened state, the Dreadnought cannot cause significant damage to the Dreadnought-Robot|
|The third Metzger attacks from the flank, landing another Speerschleuder harpoon and breaking the Ablative Armour of the Russian flagship|
|A wide shot of the Robot advance|
|The Borodino-class Battleship closes, opening fire at point blank range and causing several palpable hits|
|More dogfighting as the waves of Prussian Fighter Planes attack the Russian interceptors|
|Taking advantage while it is above water, the Rostov-class Destroyers open fire on the Sturmbringer-class Submarine and cause massive damage|
|Their hubris costs them dearly, and the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers quickly move in and destroy two of the vessels|
|The Rogatina Squadron enters the fray, opening fire on the Metzger but failing to penetrate its iron hide|
|The damaged Sturmbringer swings about, opening fire on the Rostov-class Destroyers. Weapon systems barely functioning, it fails to do any damage|
|The Pevek Cruiser Squadron fires at long range, but cannot land any hits on the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser|
|The Donner Squadron unload their cargo on the Rostov-class Destroyers, smashing one and badly wounding the last|
|The Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier lumbers forward, massive broadsides raking the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot. It causes minor damage, but the iron behemoth is starting to feel the strain|
|Unable to halt their momentum as the titanic Robot strides out in front of them, the Kazimov-class Corvettes dash themselves upon its legs. Two are destroyed and one badly damaged|
|The Shashka Squadron moves against the Metzger to port, massed mortar fire shredding its defences and causing a major fire to break out|
|Saxony-class Corvettes swing around and finish the last Rostov-class Destroyer|
|The second Borodino-class Battleship opens fire upon the Carolus Rex, again failing to cause critical damage|
|Dive Bombers launch themselves onto the starboard Metzger, but barely make it through its AA and only cause a minor hit|
|A wide shot shows the second squadron of Dive Bombers attacking the same Metzger. They are more successful, landing a crippling numbers of hits on the Robot|
|The battle so far - the Prussian fleet has secured the Markgraf and formed a strong defence on this side of the islands|
|On the other side, the Russian fleet has taken serious damage, but wounded all of the Robots badly. Their next moves will be crucial to stopping the rampage of the Teutonic Order|
|The Carolus Rex looms over everything, ready to deal a killer blow to the Russian fleet|
|The Carolus Rex advances and swings his immense blade down through the Polkava, destroying it with ease|
|The Russian flagship is brutally destroyed!|
|The Rogatina Squadron moves against the Sturmbringer-class Submarine, their turrets hitting the magazine and detonating the ammunition in a spectacular explosion!|
|Debris destroys a Saxony-class Corvette and damages a Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser|
|The Metzger to the port of the Hochmeister rips through the Borodino-class Battleship, crippling its engines|
|The Shashka Squadron continues to pour fire into the second Metzger, causing further damage|
|The damaged Battle Robot shrugs off the fire and rips apart the Tiksi-class Support Cruiser with stunning efficiency.|
The Teutonic rampage is unstoppable!
|The Pevek Cruiser Squadron opens fire upon the Saxony-class Corvettes, gutting the squadron and leaving a sole survivor|
|The Donner Squadron move to finish the crippled Borodino-class Battleship, landing several thunderous blows with their Tesla-weaponry and leaving it a virtual ruin|
|The Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier continues to pour fire into the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot|
|A wide shot of the carnage as the two fleets enter close range|
|The Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers and Havel-class Light Carrier unleash their Tesla arrays, causing serious damage to the Pevek Cruiser Squadron and crippling the Azov-class Battle Cruiser with a critical hit to the magazine|
|Explosions within the Azov-class Battle Cruiser nearly finish it|
|The last remaining Kazimov-class Corvettes dash themselves on the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot|
|The Arminius-class Frigates swoop in to finish the Azov-class Battle Cruiser, but their turret fire hits the secondary magazine and another string of explosions ripple out from the ship!|
|The ship disappears in an incredibly violent explosion, destroying everything within reach. Even the mighty Metzger Battle Robot suffers in the explosion, and is nearly lost beneath the waves|
|The maelstrom in the centre of the battle is lit up briefly by the death of the Rogatina Squadron|
|The ruined Borodino-class Battleship is finally destroyed as it plows forward and collides into the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot|
|The second Arminius-class Frigate squadron attacks from reserve, destroying two vessels of the Pevek Cruiser Squadron with incredible shooting|
|Chaos as the two fleets engage. The heart has been ripped from the Russian fleet, but the Prussian Navy is barely holding it together|
|The three remaining Robots of the Teutonic Order are all battered and weary|
|The Russians seize the initiative and the last Borodino-class Battleship fires everything it can into the Hochmeister-class Dreadnought-Robot|
|Burning white light blinds every crewman watching. The Dreadnought-Robot disappears!|
|The Carolus Rex suddenly lurches back into reality, its immense superstructure a blasted ruin and legs buckling. It collapses into the gun platform, sending great pillars of smoke, fire and lightning into the sky. The Giant has fallen!|
|Enraged by the loss of their commander, the first Metzger rips through the hull of the Borodino-class Battleship several times|
|The Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier finishes the rampaging Battle Robot with a volley from the broadsides|
|Tesla-broadsides from the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers rips through the Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier|
|Replenished by the Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier, Dive Bombers launch themselves into the last Metzger and finish it|
|Donner Squadron continue their spree and bombard the Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier, while a Speerschleuder from the Adler-class Heavy Bomber finishes the ruined Borodino-class Battleship|
|The Chany-class Submarines rise from the depths amid the Arminius-class Frigate squadron, their powerful Fore Cannons obliterating two at close range while waves of conscripts scuttle the third|
|The last Suvorov-class Cruiser prepares for glory, smashing one Arminius-class Frigate with the Main Turret while boarding parties rampage through another|
|The air war continues as Prussian and Russian pilots engage in brutal dogfighting|
|Surviving the attack of the Suvorov-class Cruiser, the last Arminius-class Frigates launch their Tesla-weaponry into the ruined Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier. It is finally finished, and falls beneath the waves|
|The lightning attacks of the Prussian fleet break the back of the Russian Battle Group|
|The scattered squadrons of the White Navy have survived the onslaught of the Teutonic Order, but have no fight left in them|
|The battered remnants of the Prussian fleet escort the Markgraf deeper into their territorial waters|
|A handful of survivors flee the Norwegian coastline, seeking to meet with friendly forces closer to Britannian waters|
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
The Hochmeister-class Dreadnought Robot is a lot of fun. This scenario might have been a little too much narrative and not a great place to test it, but I honestly did try to kill it! The dice were not helpful on that front, especially Mike gaining the initiative on Turn Three and promptly smashing the Moskva-class Dreadnought. It was amazing how resilient it was against the turrets of the Dreadnought and Battleship - every time I was just shy of causing a critical hit. Eventually it fell to a Sturginium Flare, having lost nine HP to a slow grind from turret and broadside fire. An impressive end for this incredible war machine.
The Speerschleuder Turrets and sword option give it a lot of lightning power, perhaps worth losing the additional speed over. 7" movement is still on par with the Blucher-class Dreadnought, and having a potential eighteen dice at RB3 with Devastating Ordnance is nasty.
Robots as a whole are a lot of fun, and the Teutonic Order achieved some significant damage today. Crushing Impact and Hull Breaker is a powerful combination, especially as Robot attacks ignore Armour MARs like Ablative Armour. Against the relatively low DR values of the Borodino-class Battleship, even a Metzger will be causing a lot of damage - let alone the Hochmeister!
Their speed is a defining factor, and this scenario did give them a slight head start by having them only 24" away at the start. It did not help that I completely forgot about their Mimic Generators and placing ice to block their path - that would have helped...
As far as the other squadrons and ship fare, the Specialist Squadrons were a nice addition to the fleet. The Rogatina Squadron did well to destroy the Sturmbringer, while the Shashka Squadron had an enviable amount of firepower to pour into the Metzger. They just need to stay in RB2! In the end their got too close and were punished for it. The Pevek Cruiser Squadron was nothing special - not really worth the additional points over a squadron of pure Cruisers.
Chany-class Strike Submarines remain awesome. They have so many MARs its frankly embarrassing. I don't think I'll be running two squadrons unless I really want to win in the future.
The Donner Squadron for the Prussians remains a game changer - in a lightning-heavy fleet like Mike prefers to run, they shine. I seriously need to invest in some interceptors if I want to deal with them in the future. Perhaps the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth need some paint!
Three Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers with a Havel-class Light Carrier is a nasty amount of Tesla-weaponry, and they were, as usual, very solid in the late game. Redoubtable makes them fearsome even after taking several major blows.
Overall a very fun game! Incredibly bloody, as usual, with three Magazine Explosions and a very important Sturginium Flare. I played... shoddily with the Russians, getting distracted by the Battle Robots and then rolling poorly to allow them to reach base contact several times.
It was always going to be a bit of a silly game running these illegal lists with weird deployment rules, but I had a vision for the ongoing narrative of the campaign, and I hope it paid off!
THE NARRATIVE"Once more, the Markgraf had escaped the Russian Coalition and the Prussian Navy could claim another victory. The cost, however, had been staggering - Seneschal Gerhard and his entire Baronial Court had been lost in the waters of Midbrødøya, a Sturmbringer-class Submarine had been completely destroyed and the Wolf Pack reduced to a handful of ships.
The loss of four Battle Robots in one engagement was catastrophic for the entire Prussian war effort, and now Grunner had drawn the Teutonic Order into another front - his war. They would fight, there was no doubt, but they would not be forgiving to the man who had cost them the Carolus Rex..
Serious questions were being asked in Berlin about Baron Grunner and his prized Dreadnought, and the escalation of violence he had provoked in the North Sea theatre. Would they support his endeavour, or abandon him to the Russians? Regardless of their decision, Grunner would find his own way..."
Thanks for reading,