The Prussian Navy were not lax in this time - they followed the Reconnaissance Planes in turn, tracking them to their Carrier Groups of origin and taking the opportunity to avoid the slower Russian formations, or attack them and achieve significant victories. It was during one of these missions that the infamous Donner Squadron was despatched from escorting the Markgraf to attack a pair of carriers off the Caister Oil Fields.
For the Russian Coalition, their game of bluff and double-bluff had paid off - aerial attack on the Markgraf was all but impossible with Donner Squadron protecting it, but in drawing them away from the Dreadnought they could pick them off and deny the Markgraf aerial cover in the future.
The great Skyship Ilyushin was despatched with all haste to engage Donner Squadron and deal with them once and for all..."
The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, and another chapter in the Hunt for the Markgraf narrative campaign. This week something smaller as we only used 1,000pts aside. It was refreshing to play at this points level, something faster and with more exciting, game-defining moments, and also a chance for me to use my new Tunguska-class Large Skyship - and what a beast he turned out to be!
The game was set at 1,000pts, with Secret Objectives drawn from the Objective Deck. Mike, as the Prussian Empire, would have to destroy or capture the Russian Commodore's vessel and at least 50% of the Russian fleet, while the Russians would have to destroy all of the Prussian Small squadrons - a potentially difficult prospect if Mike realised my intentions!
Otherwise the game was fairly standard, with terrain set as a small number of platforms and two large islands.
|The board is set...|
|Carrier Group Samolet accompanied by the Tunguska-class Skyship Ilyushin, tasked with destroying Donner Squadron|
One Dudinka-class Assault Carrier with a Mimic Generator and Stoic Crew, carrying one wing of five Dive Bombers and one Reconnaissance Plane
One Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier with a Glacier Generator, carrying one wing of five and one wing of four Dive Bombers
One Tunguska-class Large Skyship accompanied by five Fighter Planes
Rogatina Squadron - one Azov-class Battle Cruiser and three Veliky-class Escorts
One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes
Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
|Prussian Battle Group IL-7, accompanied by Donner Squadron|
The Prussian Empire
One Emperor-class Battleship
Donner Squadron - one Adler-class Heavy Bomber and three Zerstorer-class Strike Bombers
Träger Squadron - two Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers and one Havel-class Light Carrier carrying four Fighter Planes
One Squadron of three Reiver-class Light Cruisers
One Squadron of four Arminius-class Frigates
One Squadron of four Saxony-class Corvettes
Two Wings of Fighter Planes
|The two fleets meet near an abandoned oil field|
|The Prussian formation is close, with the Battleship holding the centre|
|The Russian line is more spread out, with one flank anchored by the Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier while the Tunguska-class Large Skyship glides over the centre|
|As aerial squadrons move forward, the Reiver-class Light Cruisers break the silence and open fire|
|Scattered fire from the Prussian fleet is ineffective at this range|
|Rostov-class Destroyers cripple the rudder of the Emperor-class Battleship|
|Retaliation by Donner Squadron smashes two of the Russian Destroyers|
|Rogatina Squadron manages to cause minor damage on the Reiver-class Light Cruisers|
|The Heavy Mortars and gunnery of the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier wreaks havoc on the Arminius-class Frigates|
|The two fleets prepare to engage, their movements indicating the fighting will occur close to the oil platforms|
|A bold attack by the Emperor-class Battleship hits the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier hard|
|Rostov-class Destroyers bring down a Saxony-class Corvette but their boarding parties are ineffective against the defences of the Prussian Battleship|
|The Reiver-class Light Cruisers present their broadsides, destroying a Kazimov-class Corvette as their turret fire damages the Russian flagship further|
|The Kazimov-class Corvettes launch a bold attack upon the Arminius-class Frigates, but their boarding parties are repulsed and only one of the vessels is destroyed|
|The counter-attack by the Arminius-class Frigates scuttles one of the Kazimov-class Corvettes|
|The heavy broadsides of the Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier smash an Arminius-class Frigate|
|Donner Squadron launches their attack, bombing the Rostov-class Destroyers and cascading electrical fire onto the burning Dudinka-class Assault Carrier|
|Another angle shows the damage done to the Destroyer squadron|
|Träger Squadron engages the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier, their electrical weaponry ripping through the stricken vessel and finally sinking it. The Russian Commodore is lost!|
|Russian interceptors bring down an entire squadron of Prussian Dive Bombers|
|More dogfighting sees many brave pilots fall to the ocean|
|Saxony-class Corvettes finish the last Rostov-class Destroyer|
|The fiery death of the Reiver-class Light Cruiser rains debris onto the ships in the vicinity, sinking a second Light Cruiser, damaging a third and the lead Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser. Brutal!|
|Rogatina Squadron makes their play, close-range fire causing massive damage to the Emperor-class Battleship and destroying the last Reiver-class Light Cruiser, while ack-ack brings down one of the Zerstorer-class Strike Bombers|
|The destruction of the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier and the Reiver-class Light Cruisers have left large gaps in the lines of both fleets|
|Massive losses suffered by both sides, but the Prussian fleet has not caused enough damage to fulfil their mission|
|Firing in all directions, Träger Squadron launches a bold assault on the Russian fleet|
|The Azov-class Battle Cruiser is crippled by the massed Tesla-banks of the Träger Squadron|
|The Rogatina Squadron moves in for the kill, ordnance smashing two of the Saxony-class Corvettes while boarding parties ransack the Emperor-class Battleship, taking it as their Prize!|
|The damaged Arminius-class Frigate finishes the ruined Azov-class Battle Cruiser with arcing Tesla-fire|
|Fighter Planes engage and bring down the last Zerstorer-class Strike Bomber|
|The Dive Bombers of the Prussian fleet destroy one of the Kazimov-class Corvettes|
|The last targets of the Russian fleet are destroyed by waves of Dive Bombers|
|Träger Squadron withdraws, and the battle draws to a close|
The Prussian Empire achieved their Secret Objective in destroying the Russian Commodore's vessel, and scored a total of 635 Victory Points, but the Russian Coalition also completed their mission but scored 935 Victory Points, giving them the win. Another bloody game, close as usual but this time falling to the Russian Coalition.
|The battered Träger Squadron withdraw from the area, their mission a pyrrhic success|
|Carrier Group Samolet has achieved a strong victory here, destroying Donner Squadron and capturing a Prussian Battleship. Nonetheless, their losses will be keenly felt in the coming battles|
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
Finally, the Donner Squadron has been destroyed! What a monster the Tunguska-class Skyship turned out to be! Turn Two it came down from the skies and destroyed the heart of the Prussian fleet, working in combination with the Rogatina Squadron to ruin Mike's day and remove three of his most powerful squadrons.
Looking closer, we found the Tunguska-class Skyship to be superior to the Borodino-class Battleship in almost every way, and now I have one painted I am struggling not to use it in every game. In this small points level and backed up with so many squadrons of Fighter Planes and Bombers it was difficult not to overwhelm the Prussian Empire, and I think if I had played better with my deployment and Glacier Generators Mike would have had a really unpleasant time.
My deployment of the Glacier Generator-carrying Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier was... ill-advised, as it was too far away from the other ships to allow them to Mimic it, and so Mike's wealth of Medium and Small Squadrons were able to fire to their heart's content. This was a silly decision that wasted a lot of points and cost more than a few later in the game.
Rogatina Squadron continues to impress, with their massive firepower at close range and their significant boarding potential. I believe them superior to a Battleship, and working with the Tunguska-class Skyship and Rostov-class Destroyers were very effective at smashing Prussian ships.
The Prussian fleet performed well, but were overwhelmed in the second half of the game, especially when the Reiver-class Light Cruiser exploded and took out so many nearby ships. The Emperor-class Battleship is a nasty boarding torpedo, but we did discuss the ineffective nature of the older ships' broadsides - instead of a crap Tesla and a crap Gunnery broadside, could they not be combined into one effective broadside? Something to consider in the future, I feel.
1,000pts was a fun level to play at, something different from our usual massive fleets. Maybe it is time to play something a little smaller, the manner of the new Firestorm Armada: Taskforce game...
"... the bait at the Caister Oil Fields was a success for the Russian Coalition, and Donner Squadron was engaged and destroyed by the Skyship Ilyushin. Nonetheless, their Carrier Group had suffered significant damage and would need serious refits before they could engage the Markgraf.
Of the infamous vessel, their was little sign, and Russian intelligence began to believe it had retired to Bremerhaven. When would the vessel return to open waters? Would they be ready?"
Thanks for reading,