Saturday, 9 April 2016

AAR Battle Patrol - The Russian Coalition versus The Prussian Empire

"In the wake of their disastrous run past the Jutland peninsula, the Russian Coalition were forced to push back their attack on Bremerhaven and regroup. The Petrushka was integral to their plan, and the recovery of the hulk became their top priority. Fortunately, the Kalmar Navy had been similarly forced to withdraw - Battle Group Adglek had suffered significant damage, and could not face a second wave of Russian squadrons. 

Dragged from the depths of the ocean, the Petrushka rose once more. Repairs would take several days, and it was the duty of the White Navy to defend the repair vessels as they frantically pieced the Dreadnought-Robot back together. Aerial support from the long-range squadrons from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth held back the Prussian attack from the sky, while patrols of White Navy vessels tried to intercept any Imperial Bond attack..."
The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1874

Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, but this time something a little different - trying out the Battle Patrol rules from Spartan Forum's member Samlish. Spartan's own smaller/faster system Fleet Action is on the way, but I thought this deserved to be tried out first!

It also gives me a little more time to concentrate on Dropzone Commander for an upcoming tournament this weekend... but keep that quiet...

Copied over from the Spartan Forums, here is Samlish's great ruleset -

Battle Patrol: Rules for Smaller Games of Dystopian Wars

"Out here at the edge of the world, there are no armadas, no grand fleets and certainly no support. Out here, when the enemy comes knocking, you hit him hard and fast. You don't know from one day to the next if today will be your last day, so when that klaxon rings and you're told to get to your battlestations, you'd better get there and mean it."

Battle Patrol is a designed to represent the smaller battles in the world of Dystopian Wars. These alternative rules are intended as a fan-made supplement to the Dystopian Wars 2.0 core rules, and is in no way affiliated with Spartan Games.

The Battlefield:

Battle Patrol is designed specifically for the naval engagements of Dystopian Wars. Play on a battlefield of any shape or size, up to a maximum of 4' square. Terrain is encouraged, and need not be pretty or representative. The scenario is designed for spontaneous games, so use your imagination if you haven't access to proper terrain pieces. A napkin can become an island, a coffee mug a tall outcrop of rock. When space and terrain are not limited, I recommend playing on a 3' square, and with as much and varied terrain as possible.

Fleet Composition:

Fleet composition is as normal, with the following adjustments:
  • Your fleet must be of value equal to or less than 500pts.
  • Your fleet may not include Large or Massive size vessels. Instead, choose a single Medium Capital Naval model of value 80-150 points. This ship will be your Commodore's ship. It is recommended that players select their nation's Battlecruiser, as these are typically the most heavily armed and armoured available. This ship counts as your mandatory Large choice.
  • All Small and Medium squadrons have their minimum and maximum squadron size reduced by one, to a minimum of one.
  • Models cannot be taken in a Flanking, Advance or Reserve force.
  • No Local Air Support may be used.
TAC Deck:

Many players ignore the TAC rules. Battle Patrol aims to make them more interactive and to act as a balancing force. Disregard the normal TAC card selection rules, and use these instead.
  • Each player constructs a deck of ten different TAC cards, no duplicates, then shuffles it and places it face down in the supply area.
  • Before the game begins, each player draws two cards from their deck and keeps them secret. These can be used following the usual rules.
  • Whenever a full squadron of yours is lost, prized or left derelict, draw a TAC card immediately.
  • Do not be afraid to use your TAC cards, there are no Victory Points in Battle Patrol, so there's no good reason not to use them!
Victory Conditions:

The victory conditions in Battle Patrol are designed to make for a fast paced and brutal game. The victor is declared as soon as the condition has been fulfilled and the game ends immediately. It's all or nothing. You are eliminated when:
  • Your Commodore is Prized. (Not sunk or derelict)
  • Half your total number of ships have been lost
With this in mind, I had the idea for the games to be fought around the ruined hulk of the Petrushka. Destroyed in the last game, I did not want this to be the end for my war engine, and immediately started painting up some Rudnitksy-class Repair Cruisers. This mission would focus around two small patrols engaging one another around the hulk of the Dreadnought-Robot. Can the Prussian Empire halt the recovery of the colossal robot, or will the Russian Coalition drag their monster from the deep and repair in time for the next engagement?

SKIRMISH IN THE SKAGERRAK
The Prussian Empire patrol encounters Russian ships amid the debris field - what are they searching for, and can they be stopped?

Prussian Patrol Group, en-route to investigate Russian activity around the mouth of the Skagerrak
A small Russian fleet - fast ships for navigating the debris field and escorting the Repair Cruisers 
The two fleets meet amid the debris field
Several pieces of wreckage are visible amid the waves 
Stoke the Engines! Uhlan-class Cruisers steam forward at maximum speed, recovering the first piece of debris
Their turret fire sinks one of the Rostov-class Destroyers and damages a second
The Chany-class Strike Submarines rise from the depths to damage one of the Uhlan-class Cruisers, but the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser intercepts and destroys one before it can sink back out of sight
In a brutal display of firepower, the pair of Tambov-class Gunships rip apart the Prussian flagship 
The Russian forces fare worse to the south, as the Saxony-class Corvettes destroy a second Rostov-class Destroyer
The crew of the Rostov-class Destroyer scuttle one Saxony-class Corvette, but the gunnery is ineffective
The rest of the Prussian fleet closes as the Kazimov-class Corvettes swerve to avoid their firepower. Nonetheless, the Havel-class Light Carrier smashes one with Tesla-banks
The two fleets close - the Prussians have the advantage of speed, but have suffered the loss of their commander. Nonetheless, the Russian fleet is close to breaking
Tally Ho! The Uhlan-class Cruisers and Stolz-class Destroyers enter close range and ravage the last Rostov-class Destroyer, but cannot damage the Chany-class Strike Submarine lurking beneath the water
Desperate to break the Prussian patrol before it can cause more damage, the Tambov-class Gunships open fire in all directions. Their ordnance lands well, breaking one of the Stolz-class Destroyers, but causes only minor damage to their other targets - not enough to slow the Prussian advance!
Dive Bombers descend on the Kazimov-class Corvettes, destroying one and breaking the Russian force - they are forced to disengage
Losing their commander but suffering  only light damage otherwise, the Prussian patrol moves deeper into the North Sea
The Russian patrol escorting the Rudnitsky-class Repair Cruisers has been forced to halt their recovery efforts in the debris field
IN THE SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Locating the site of the Petrushka, the Prussian Empire dispatch a force of Battlecruisers to disrupt the recovery and repair. They meet a force of similar strength defending the site

The Rogatina leads a fleet of Battle Cruisers, accompanied by a small squadron of Corvettes
Four Konigsberg-class Battlecruisers attack the site of the Petrushka, led by the SMS Beschützer and escorts
Hidden amid the rocks, the mighty Dreadnought-Robot waits patiently to return to war
Opening exchanges damage vessels from both sides
A Speerschleuder harpoon embeds itself in the starboard Azov-class Battle Cruiser
Raging fires run rampant across the decks of two Konigsberg-class Battlecruisers
More fire pours into the damaged Azov-class Battle Cruiser, and another fire breaks out!
The Rogatina enters the fray, obliterating the lead Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
The SMS Beschützer responds in kind, smashing one of the Veliky-class Escorts and landing another harpoon into the crippled Azov-class Battle Cruiser
The two fleets prepare to engage at close quarters
The damaged Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser moves forward at speed, finishing the crippled Azov-class Battle Cruiser and pouring Luftlancers onto the Rogatina. They are beaten back, but at cost
Moving in support of the Rogatina, the remaining Azov-class Battle Cruiser prizes the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser and pours fire into the Wachter-class Escorts. Crucially, it only destroys one
Wrath of the Hussars! Taking advantage of the sluggish Russian response, the SMS Beschützer engages, smashing aside two of the Kazimov-class Corvettes and capturing the Rogatina with hordes of Luftlancers
The Prussian fleet has launched a bold attack into the centre of the Russian fleet, but capturing the Russian flagship achieves their objective and disrupts the recovery of the Petrushka!
The surviving Prussian vessels with their prize
The Russian patrol has suffered badly, but their defence was not in vain
(Editor's note - we realised some time later that the Russians has technically won this as they had reduced the Prussian fleet to 50% first - oops! Guess the Russian Coalition did not suffer quite as much embarrassment as first thought!)

SNEAK ATTACK
The Russian forces around the hulk of the Petrushka are badly disrupted, and divert more forces to defend the wreck. Unable to commit to a full-strength naval action but with the intention of causing as much carnage as possible, the Prussian Empire dispatch a small force of reavers to the recovery site

The Tambov-class Gunships return from their aborted mission to the debris field, joining the Azov-class Battle Cruisers to defend the Petrushka
The SMS Beschützer is joined by a pair of Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers and two squadrons of Saxony-class Corvettes - a true Wolf Pack ready to cause chaos!
Radio Intercept! Before the battle can even begin, Prussian spies in the enemy fleet disable the Russian Commodore's escape craft - he will not be able to flee his vessel should the worst occur
The fleets engage, with the Russian flagship launching forward to damage one of the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruisers. It suffers electrical attack in return
Tambov-class Gunships cripple the second Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser and Saxony-class Corvettes launch their attack on the Russian flagship. They are beaten back, but the Azov-class Battle Cruiser is left defenceless
The counter-attack from the second Azov-class Battle Cruiser disables one of the Saxony-class Corvettes and cripples the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser
A second wave of Saxony-class Corvettes prepare their attack
The Russian fleet is outmaneuvered and generally outdone as the Saxony-class Corvettes sweep around the stern, capturing the Russian flagship and causing a massive reactor leak on the second Azov-class Battle Cruiser. The Russian fleet is scattered with the loss of their commander!
AFTERMATH, CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTS
The Russian Coalition have suffered a series of blows in these skirmishes, and the Prussian Empire proven their might once more! 

An afternoon of Battle Patrol games was something a bit different, and a lot of fun. The use of TAC cards was something we have not done before, and the adjusted system used here was simple and easy. Playing till the Commodore was Prized or half the ships were destroyed made for some seriously tense games!

Ultimately we can't take it too seriously, but the Prussians certainly felt in control of all three games. This is as much down to their advantages in speed, firepower and boarding as much as Mike's playstyle - he always commits hard in the early stages, where I play a longer game to secure the win by the end of the turn - something that cannot be done in these Instant Death-style games. 

It might be unfair to write off the Russians - after all, losing the card to save my Commodore (before the game even started) in the third game cost me everything, and I technically won the Battle Cruiser-off in the second match. 

If we do this again, I think I will be running the Tiksi-class Support Cruiser (I did not run it in these games because it was not available at the time), as the Area Bombardment of the Heavy Mortars would have put serious hurt on the Saxony-class Corvettes and stopped them from causing me so much trouble. I would also be playing a bit more aggressively, while keeping my Commodore back. The Russians struggle somewhat against the Prussians in these missions, outmatched in speed and gunnery while equaled in boarding potential (Wrath of the Hussars is brutal in these small games!), though perhaps I am not thinking about properly and need to consider some different options. 

The Prussians looked like they had it easy. The Saxony-class Corvettes were a terror - anything that fast, packing ordnance and strong boarding potential is going to cause a lot of trouble. Mike played well, targeting the Commodore as a priority and taking advantage of my hesitance to commit and my errors in splitting the fleets or failing to block approaches for his boarding vessels. By contrast, I played far too defensively with the Kazimov-class Corvettes, and their lack of gunnery makes them look much worse in comparison. 

Overall, three fun and tense games! I look forward to getting my Russians back to a proper-sized game and serving up some ice-cold revenge! 

THE NARRATIVE
"The skirmishes around the wreck of the Petrushka caused significant disruption for the Russian Coalition, but ultimately they could not hold back the tide of White Navy vessels pouring down towards Bremerhaven. The attack would come soon, and though still sluggish, battered from the damage inflicted by the Danish fleet, the Petrushka would lead the charge on the walls. 

Baron Grunner was faced with a choice - hide in his fastness and pray the Russian fleet broke itself on the walls, or sally forth and catch them in open water. Either way, the Markgraf would face the Russian guns once more, perhaps for the last time..."

Thanks for reading,

George

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