Tuesday, 15 March 2016

AAR - The Chinese Federation versus The Black Wolf Mercenaries

"The Black Wolf Mercenaries had not been seen in The Cauldron for many months, but almost a year since their disastrous defeat at the hands of Battle Group Hsien, the mercenaries had returned to the South China Sea. 

From the dense archipelagos, the mercenaries began their attacks on Federation shipping as if they had never left, quickly drawing the attention of the Dragon. The cat-and-mouse game began anew, but this time the Black Company were not reckless as before. They patiently drew the grand fleet dispatched against them deep into the island chain, where they could take advantage of the terrain to surround the enemy and smash them asunder. 

Once more the Black Company and the Chinese Federation met amid the islands, but history would not repeat itself here...
- The Cauldron: War in the South China Sea
Battles of 1873
Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, and the return of the Chinese Federation to the table! Following the update to the Allied Nation rules last week, we have decided to try two of the recently updated fleets - the Chinese Federation and the Black Wolf Mercenaries. This week we will be playing a slightly smaller game (roughly 1,250pts), on the lovely mat from GW's Dreadfleet - something a little bit more colourful than the dour North Sea mat!

This game would be a direct sequel to their last meeting in the South China Sea, almost a year ago...

THE SCENARIO
Drawing random Secret Objectives, Mike and the Chinese Federation would have to destroy all the Fury-class Frigates and the Wraith-class Airships, and score at least 625 Victory Points. In turn, the Black Wolf mercenaries would have to score at least 875 Victory Points. A fair pair of Objectives - just remember these were secret from one another until the end of the game! 
THE FLEETS

The Black Wolf Mercenaries
The mercenary fleet boils out from their hidden anchorage
One Retribution-class Sky Fortress accompanied by two wings of three Fighter Planes
One Death Bringer-class Submarine

One Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser with Guardian Generator
One Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser with Rocket Battery
Two Manticore-class Support Skimmers with Main Turrets and each accompanied by six Reaper-class Attack Submarines
One Squadron of three Chimera-class Medium Airships

One Squadron of four Fury-class Frigates
One Squadron of four Wraith-class Airships

One Wing of five Fighter Planes
One Wing of five Dive Bombers

The Chinese Federation
The Chinese flotilla begins their attack
One Jian-class Battleship with Bombard-Rocket Batteries and Fury Generator

Jilin Squadron - one Chui-class Support Carrier carrying one wing of four Fighter Planes and two Nu-class Frigates
Hebei Squadron - one Wo-Dao-class Gunship and two Dao-class Cruisers
One Squadron of three Dao-class Cruisers

Two Squadrons of four Yue-class Destroyers

One pair of two Dun-class Floating Bastions

Two Wings of five Fighter Planes

DEPLOYMENT
The Chinese fleet heads through the gap in the islands, led by a wave of Destroyers and Cruisers

The Black Wolf mercenaries are more spread out, taking advantage of their skimming and aerial forces to circumvent the terrain
TURN ONE
The Black Company begin to encircle the Chinese fleet, as their waves of Fighter Planes converge on the Wraith-class Airships
Long-range fire from the Hebei Squadron hits the crew decks of the Manticore-class Support Skimmer
Return fire from the Fury-class Frigates causes damage
Exposed, they suffer the attentions of the Dao-class Cruisers
The Yue-class Destroyers advance, and the Chimera-class Airships descend from the skies to engage. Their gunnery is precise and devastating, obliterating three of the Yue-class Destroyers as a wave of rockets hit the Wo-Dao-class Gunship
The rockets hit the munitions stockpile of the Chinese Gunship, and it explodes spectacularly!
Several other vessels are consumed in the explosion, as the heart is torn from the Chinese advance
The loss of an entire Destroyer squadron and the damage suffered by Hebei Squadron has crippled the Chinese attack
The Dun-class Bastions hit the Retribution-class Sky Fortress with their rockets, spreading fire through the decks
Jilin Squadron hits the Fury-class Frigates
The Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser finishes a damaged Dao-class Cruiser with precision gunnery
The fleets have engaged, and the Chinese Federation have taken significant damage from the aerial squadrons of the Black Company. Their assault is blunted, but not without power
A significant force waits to commit to battle
The Black Company approach cautiously
TURN TWO
Dogfighting! Interceptors wipe each other out in bloody air combat
A squadron makes it through and assaults the Wraith-class Airships, dragging one down
The Death Bringer-class Submarine finishes the last Dao-class Cruiser of Hebei Squadron with brutal efficiency
Rockets from the Chinese flagship cause more misery for the Black Company Sky Fortress, and it calls for the Wrath of the Red Dragon on the Yue-class Destroyers, inciting them to attack
The Chimera-class Airships are less successful with their second volley, causing minor damage to the Chui-class Support Carrier
The Dao-class Cruisers begin the first wave, their gunnery damaging a Chimera-class Airship as waves of conscript-soldiers attack the Death Bringer-class Submarine. They are barely pushed back, sabotaging the Kinetic Generator as their rampage through the decks
The Yue-class Destroyers finish the Death Bringer-class Submarine and leave it a drifting hulk, as their flamethrowers cripple one of the Chimera-class Airships
The damaged Retribution-class Sky Fortress is ineffective against the Jilin Squadron
Jilin Squadron retaliates, hitting one of the Chimera-class Airships
The Manticore-class Support Skimmer causes damage to the starboard Dao-class Cruiser
A second Wraith-class Airship is brought low by the Chinese interceptors
Reaper-class Attack Submarines finish the starboard Dao-class Cruiser
The Wraith-class Airships struggle as they are swarmed by the Chinese Fighter Planes
The Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser and Manticore-class Support Skimmer work together to bring down the last two vessels of the Dao-class Cruiser squadron, destroying one and leaving the last a burning hulk
Reaper-class Attack Submarines and the Fury-class Frigates bring down the Chui-class Support Carrier, denying the Chinese their air superiority
The second Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser moves to support, smashing aside a Nu-class Frigate 
The fleets clash at close range
The Chinese fleet has failed to do enough damage to the Black Company, and now they must fall back to their flagship
The Black Wolf mercenaries advance headlong into the Chinese fleet, their momentum carrying them forward even as the Chinese flame-weaponry heats up
TURN THREE
The Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser launches forward to stop the Yue-class Destroyers before they can get in amidst the fleet. The turret fire and boarding parties are ineffective, only damaging one vessel and sinking another
The Jian-class Battleship advances, broadsides crippling the Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser while flamethrowers wash over the Chimera-class Airships
The Manticore-class Support Skimmer drifts down from the island and rips through the Yue-class Destroyer squadron, smashing two with gunnery and boarding parties 
Dun-class Bastions wreathe Fury-class Frigates in flame, and the Nemesis-class Battle Cruiser is rendered derelict by conscript-soldiers
The Wraith-class Airship manages to damage the last Yue-class Destroyer
The broadside and boarding parties of the last Nu-class Frigate brings down two of the Fury-class Frigates - a bloody attack!
Reaper-class Attack Submarines surround the last Yue-class Destroyer
The last of the Wraith-class Airships is brought down by swarms of enemy Fighter Planes
The Manticore-class Support Skimmer finishes the final Nu-class Frigate while turret fire breaks through the armour of the Chinese flagship
The Chimera-class Airships fire at point-blank range into the Dun-class Floating Bastions, 
Their boarding parties rampage through the decks of the Chinese flagship, capturing it after a bloody battle
Overwhelmed by raging fires, the damaged Chimera-class Airship falls from the sky
The Black Company have held off the Chinese aggressors and smashed their fleet amid the archipelago
Superior firepower and speed has enabled the mercenaries to survive the brunt of the Chinese attack and retaliate with full force
AFTERMATH
The surviving Black Company vessels drag their prize away
The Chinese flotilla has been reduced to a pair of heavily damaged Dun-class Floating Bastions

Mike and the Chinese Federation failed to achieve their Objective and scored 623 Victory Points, while the Black Wolf Mercenaries scored 1,360 Victory Points - achieving their Objective and securing a decisive VICTORY FOR THE BLACK COMPANY.

CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
What a mess! Unexpectedly, the Black Company have achieved a big win against the Chinese Federation and survived with a strong proportion of their fleet. Given their past performance, I thought the Black Company might be in trouble, but they started strong and didn't slow down. 

From the Magazine Explosion on the first turn, the Chinese were on the backfoot. Their initial waves was blown apart, their second lost most of their strength bringing down the Death Bringer-class Submarine. 

Mike's focus on fire and boarding parties was sound, but his fleet lacked the long-range firepower needed to damage the Black Company and prevent them from countering effectively. As it stood, they were forced to endure a hail of Devastating Ordnance and fell all-too quickly. 

So how do the updated fleets feel? The bonuses on the Black Company aerial assets were fantastic - now the Chimera-class Airships feel like a real boon to the fleet, while the better crew enabled them to capture the Chinese flagship in the last turn and win a significant number of Victory Points

The Chinese felt less of the new rules as Mike chose a fleet with very few updated units. In the future I would like him to run some of them to give us a look at what has really changed for the Chinese. The Dun-class Bastions were a waste (I feel they need the Dreadnought-Bastion to work effectively), while I would like to see a different Mark of Jian-class Battleship tear up the centre into the enemy fleet. 

Nonetheless, he did use two of the new Specialist Squadrons. The Jilin Squadron was particularly interesting, given how cheap it is! The Hebei Squadron was okay, but the additional firepower from the Gunship was not decisive. 

It was foolish to sacrifice the Death Bringer-class Submarine so early, but looking at the game it worked well as it forced the Cruisers and Destroyers to bunch up. I was lucky not to lose the Submarine to the first wave of attackers, to be fair. 

The Black Company dominated the game, perhaps because of their superior stats, perhaps because of the terrain, or perhaps because their aerial assets could attack from such a distance they denied the Chinese a chance to attack properly. I think in the future, more aerial squadrons for the Chinese Federation may be in order! 

THE NARRATIVE
"The loss of Battle Group Hsien was a deep shock to the Chinese Federation and their war efforts in The Cauldron - rarely had such a pronounced loss been felt so close their homeland. Military leaders were disciplined, ministers dismissed, and soon enough the grand war machine of the Chinese Federation began to turn its full attention back to the South China Sea. Their victories here would not be undone so quickly..."

Thanks for reading, 

George


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