In the second month of 1874, a White Navy patrol detected anomalous readings in the rocks off the coast of Scotland - Black Company mercenaries! Leading them was the badly damaged Manticore-class Support Skimmer Subjugator - crippled in battle with the Prussian Navy, spewing fire and leaking deadly radiation the ship was a major hazard that had revealed the location of the fleet to the Russian Coalition. A taskforce was hastily assembled to track and intercept them before they reached their hidden base.
Crucially, the readings had also been detected by the Kingdom of Britannia. They despatched their own taskforce to aid the mercenaries amid the rocks. Meeting the Russian fleet, their role in employing the Black Company could no longer be denied and the situation escalated wildly. Shots were fired, and soon both fleets found themselves in a major engagement with their supposed allies..."
The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1874Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, and a return to the North Sea as the Russian Coalition pursue a Black Company flotilla into the guns of the Kingdom of Britannia, represented here by their colonial allies the Royalist Australians. Testing the recently updated Royalist Australians, I would be running a small 1,000pt fleet against Mike with the Russian Coalition; not his usual fleet but something different for us both.
In addition to the different fleets, we would be running a special scenario - one from Drachenfutter's Ironclad Tournament Pack, the Fusion Leak! Details below.
|The two fleets meet amid the rocks|
Fusion Leak sees the two fleets meet around a central Objective - in this case, the stricken Manticore-class Support Skimmer . The aim of the game is control the Objective and the area around it - at the end of each turn, each fleet would earn one Scenario Point if they had any ships within 4" of the Objective, and a further point if they controlled the Objective with AP, who had to board the Objective and control it in the manner of a Derelict vessel.
The complication lay in the raging fire and poison leaking from the Objective - at the end of each turn D6-1 Fire tokens would be placed on every ship within 2D6", and then dealt with accordingly. This included aboard the Objective itself, so the Prize crew could be consumed too! The mission was a strange one - in order to win, you would have to endanger your ships, and flood the target with troops - many of whom would be killed by the fire!
Keeping this in mind, we prepared for battle...
|The beleaguered Black Company convoy is surrounded|
THE FLEETSThe Russian Coalition
One Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship with Regular Crew
Shashka Squadron - one Tiksi-class Support Cruiser and three Novgorod-class Frigates
One Azov-class Battle Cruiser
One Squadron of three Suvorov-class Cruisers
One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes
One Wing of five Dive Bombers
One Wing of five Fighter Planes
|Battle Group Vityaz, tasked with the pursuit and destruction of the Black Company mercenaries|
One Cerberus-class Battleship escorted by two Protector-class Frigates
One Cerberus-class Battleship
Shrike Patrol Squadron - one Victoria-class Monitor and two Protector-class Frigates
One Squadron of two Victoria-class Monitors
One Squadron of two Tasmania-class Tender-Cruisers, each accompanied by four Crocodile-class Assault Submarines
One Squadron of four Protector-class Frigates
Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
|Task Force 37, en-route to support their hired mercenary fleet|
|The field is dominated by rock formations, and the Black Company fleet in the centre. The Manticore-class Support Skimmer operates as the Objective for both fleets|
|The Russian fleet moves as a wedge, close in formation|
|The Britannian fleet is more spread out, looking to surround their objective and protect it from Russian aggression|
|As squadrons of flyers move ahead of their respective fleets, the Rostov-class Destroyers break the quiet. Their powerful gunnery damages the port-side Cerberus-class Battleship|
|The immense cannons of the Victoria-class Monitors smash the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship|
|Protector-class Frigates advance behind the mercenary vessels, taking heavy fire and losing one of their number|
|The Britannian Commodore and his attendant escorts present their broadsides, causing further damage to the Russian flagship|
|Shrike Patrol Squadron is the first to reach the stricken Subjugator, the Frigates taking damage from the leaking reactor|
|The two fleets are closing fast, with the Britannian fleet splitting up to move around the Black Company ships, while the Russians remain unified|
|Massed mortar fire from the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship fails to break through the Guardian Generator of the Britannian flagship, but boarding parties secure the Objective|
|The lone Novgorod-class Frigate brings down one of the enemy Frigates, but the conscripts are less successful in their own boarding action|
|Immense firepower from the Britannian flagship and escorts destroys one of the Suvorov-class Cruisers and cripples a second - a brutal attack!|
|Return fire from the Suvorov-class Cruisers causes major damage to the Cerberus-class Battleship and her escorts, while boarding parties destroy one of the Protector-class Frigates behind them|
|Deftly aiming past the wall of ice formed by the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship, the Tasmania-class Submarine Tenders pick out two of the Rostov-class Destroyers and obliterate them|
|The Rostov-class Destroyers negotiate the rocks and damage one of the Protector-class Frigates of the Shrike Patrol Squadron|
|Air war! The Russian and Britannian pilots wipe each out in a bloody dogfight overhead|
|Once again, the Victoria-class Monitors open fire upon the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship. They are less successful with this volley|
|The Azov-class Battle Cruiser advances to the gap in the ice floe, unleashing its ordnance into one of the Tasmania-class Submarine Tenders and causing massive damage|
|Shrike Patrol Squadron destroys one of the Rostov-class Destroyers and lands a blow on the imposing Azov-class Battle Cruiser|
|Unexpected attack! The Kazimov-class Corvettes launch forward and overwhelm the Cerberus-class Battleship. They ravage the ship and leave it derelict!|
|The Royal Navy responds with their own attack from unknown quarters, Crocodile-class Assault Submarines scuttling the last Rostov-class Destroyer, Sabotaging the Azov-class Battle Cruiser and seizing the Subjugator for themselves|
|Fire and radiation rip through the ships in the vicinity of the Objective, overwhelming the crews of a Protector-class Frigate and destroying the crippled Azov-class Battle Cruiser. The Prize crew aboard the Subjugator are similarly consumed|
|Boarding parties attempt to take the second Cerberus-class Battleship, but they are cut down as they leap across - the Russian flagship is left undefended!|
|Protector-class Frigates once escorting the Britannian flagship launch their counter-attack, bringing down two of the Kazimov-class Corvettes|
|The Victoria-class Monitor of Shrike Patrol Squadron swings about the Subjugator, the Battle Cannon smashing the damaged Suvorov-class Cruiser so badly it flashes out of realspace|
|Kazimov-class Corvettes launch an ill-fated attack on the lead Victoria-class Monitor, as the last Suvorov-class Cruiser tries to damage the stern-ward vessel|
|The Novgorod-class Frigate attacks the Victoria-class Monitor|
|The Victoria-class Monitors damage one of the Kazimov-class Corvettes while their boarding parties scuttle another|
|Tasmania-class Submarine Tenders finish the last member of Shashka Squadron|
|The Cerberus-class Battleship opens fire on the Kazimov-class Corvettes, destroying them both. Boarding parties overwhelm the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship and leave it a ruined hulk|
|The Russian fleet has been gutted, and only a single Suvorov-class Cruiser remains. The Britannian fleet circles their prize|
|The last Russian ships overtakes one of the Victoria-class Monitors and renders it derelict, but in turn is destroyed by the Cerberus-class Battleship|
|Carnage! The Britannian fleet has secured the area, and saved their erstwhile allies|
|After the derelict vessels have sunk beneath the waves, we can see what remains|
|The remnants of the Task Force return home|
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTSA messy defeat for the Russian Coalition! Honestly not my expected result - I really thought the Russians would overpower the Royalist Australians before the game, but as it progressed it became clear they were on the ropes from Turn Two.
A decisive moment in the game would be the loss of the Shashka Squadron so early - the bold attack by the Protector-class Frigates that robbed Mike of one of his premier units. The subsequent damage done in Turn Two left Mike responding to my manoeuvres and allowed me to stay one step ahead.
Mike may not be the most experienced with the Russian Coalition, but after this game I think he has had quite enough. He stated they felt restricted, with some choices clearly better than others (unlike his preferred Prussian Empire), and that his playstyle did not sync with theirs. I have had good luck with the Russians, so cannot completely agree, but concede they are harder than they first appear.
The Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship has never been popular with me, and Mike found it even less impressive. Weak defensive statistics leave it exposed, and the contradictory nature of its weaponry make it feel over-costed. I know a lot of Russian Coalition players swear by it, but I prefer some old fashioned gunnery and boarding parties myself!
Mike's use of the icebergs and the short range of the Russian fleet left them hamstrung in the early moves, allowing the Australians to land some good hits that crippled their Cruiser squadron and smash the Destroyers. It may have preserved the Destroyers for a time, but the Australians still managed to get around that.
On the Australian side, the Shrike Patrol Squadron was nice, but nothing special. Better was the Battleship with attendant Escorts - their impressive broadside power was great, and the amount of ordnance they can throw out was devastating for the Suvorov-class Cruiser squadron.
The new Tender-Cruisers are impressive, and their gunnery is now a real boon to the rest of the fleet. I am happy to pay the premium for these vessels, as they now bring a lot to the fleet.
After some discussion, we agreed the scenario was a little silly for competitive play - the sheer amount of fire hurt both of us and left several ships brutally exposed - crucially destroying the Azov-class Battle Cruiser and leaving the Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship defenceless. Toning down the volatile nature of the Fusion Leak may be the answer here, and I think I would like another match where the scenario was less obtrusive on gameplay to see how the Australians really match the Russians.
Overall, a bloody and brief game, with a strange scenario that caused a lot of trouble for both our fleets. Ultimately I am not sure if it affected the final result of the game in a significant manner, but it certainly makes my initial gaming impressions of the new Royalist Australians rules skewed.
THE NARRATIVE"The engagement off Scotland was another costly loss for the Russian Coalition, who had stretched their resources to breaking point pursuing the Markgraf. They could ill-afford to chase the Black Company as well, and this incident with their supposed allies was a horrific waste of lives and ships.
Such an incredible act of savagery between allies could not be forgiven or forgotten, but with the World War in full swing, neither could afford to turn on the other. The incident would be quietly ignored, brushed under the rug and not reported to the wider world. Secretly, plans were formed by both sides should the inevitable occur.
Repercussions would have to wait, and any semblance of trust had been sadly lost..."
Thanks for reading,