"In the early months of 1873, the Chinese Federation continued their annexation of the South China Sea and began to look further afield - if they could put the pressure on their enemies in the Timor Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific, they could stifle any attempts at counter-attack before it began. One of their first actions targeted the coast of Western Australia - Britannian territory.
The response of the Australian fleet was swift - the Seventh Battle Group had recently been patrolling the area, and moved quickly to intercept. Reinforced with additional support aircraft and escorting a bulky Titan-class Troop Transport, the hoped they could turn aside the Chinese aggressors before they came within range to bombard Australian territory.
They met the enemy fleet near the headland of the Dampier Peninsula, emerging from the rocks to engage at close range. This bold attack would surely cost them dearly, but it was hoped the power of Britannian gunnery would smash them aside quickly..."
- The Cauldron: War in the South China Sea
Naval Battles of 1873
Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, and a return for the Chinese Federation and the Royalist Australians. After many months of North Sea action with the Russian Coalition and the Prussian Empire, I thought we should turn our attention to the East, and bring back some of the less conventional fleets in the roster.
Returning from a long exile, my Good Friend Ben would be running his Chinese fleet, demanding to use the new Assault Flyers and everyone's favourite Armoured Dragon Robot. In turn I would be running my favourite Australians, with some Operational Assets to bring them up to 1,500pts.
The game was simple, played over a slightly smaller board than usual as we were using the lovely cloth mat from Dreadfleet. Drawing Secret Objectives, Ben and the Chinese Federation were tasked with scoring at least 750 Victory Points and destroying or capturing the Australian Commodore's vessel. In turn, I drew to destroy all of Ben's Medium squadrons, but given how many he had chosen I dropped this objective in favour of scoring at least 1,050 Victory Points.
The board was set with a few rock formations, one dominating the Chinese starboard flank while another sitting in the Australian starboard. The Australian fleet would be forced to go down the central channel or risk splitting up, while the Chinese flyers could take advantage.
|Caught amid the rocks, the Australian fleet prepares to defend their national waters|
|East Sea Battle Fleet out of Hainan, despatched south to bombard the Britannian territories of Western Australia|
One Squadron of three Dao-class Cruisers
One Squadron of three Chui-class Support Carriers, each carrying one wing of four
One Squadron of four Yue-class Destroyers
One Squadron of four Nu-class Frigates
One Squadron of three Chi Long-class Assault Flyers
One Squadron of four Luxing-class Air Bombards
One Tian Long Armoured Dragon Robot
Two Wings of five
This fleet was dictated by running the new Chi Long-class Assault Flyers and the desire to use the Armoured Dragon Robot, one of our favourite models in the entire system. The rest of the naval fleet was fairly standard - Cruisers and the Mk.II Battleship for boarding, while three Support Carriers would bring enough Support Aircraft to drown the Australian fleet.
|Seventh Battle Group of the Britannian Far East Fleet out of Port Hedland, tasked with the defence of the Western Australian territory|
One Titan-class Troop Transport
One Squadron of two Tasmania-class Tender-Cruisers, each carrying four Crocodile-class Assault Submarines
Two Squadrons of two Victoria-class Monitors
One Squadron of two Apollo-class Support Carriers, each carrying one wing of four Fighter Planes
Two Squadrons of four Protector-class Frigates
One Osprey-class War Rotor
Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
No frills, this is all the Australian ships I have painted, including the Forbes-class Support Blimp which was painted in Australian colours to proxy the Osprey-class War Rotor - a model I really dislike. I ran the Apollo-class Support Carriers and the Titan-class Troop Transport as I needed to bulk up the points, and they are also good alongside the rest of the fleet - the extra squadrons of Support Aircraft will help against the Chinese flyers, and the Troop Transport might help the Cerberus-class Battleships in counter-boarding. Hopefully it won't come to that, and I can blow them out of the sky and water quickly!
|The Chinese Federation form a strong centre, with the aerial squadrons holding the flanks|
|The Australian fleet splits as it reaches several rock formations, with a pair of Monitors taking the longer route around the large island accompanied by Frigates while the Battleships hold the centre|
|The Titan-class Troop Transport moves to support the pair of Battleships|
|Apollo-class Support Carriers and Tasmania-class Submarine-Tenders hold the flank, accompanied by a squadron of Protector-class Frigates and squadrons of Fighter Planes|
|The Chinese Federation begin their attack|
|Opening moves - long range rocketry damages the Australian Airship and the sonic weaponry of the Luxing-class Bombards hit the Victoria-class Monitors|
|Ordnance from the Australian vessels damage two of the Luxing-class Bombards and one of the Dao-class Cruisers takes a heavy blow|
|Chinese rockets hit the Cerberus-class Battleship, causing serious damage|
|Victoria-class Monitors open fire at long range and score several direct hits on the central Dao-class Cruiser, sinking it!|
|The second squadron of Monitors also impress, smashing a pair of Chinese Frigates out of the water with their immense cannons|
|The fleets engage, the Australian fleet splitting up as the Chinese fleet advances, and the aerial squadrons crest the rocks|
|Several Australian vessels have taken damage, suffering from a hail of rockets and flame|
|The Chinese fleet is relatively intact, though the Dao-class Cruisers have lost one of their number|
|A bold attack from the port-side Cerberus-class Battleship obliterates two of the Yue-class Destroyers|
|Now badly exposed, the Cerberus-class Battleship suffers the attentions of Chi Long-class Assault Flyers, whose bombs wreck the gun decks and engines. Their flamethrowers also hit the damaged Cerberus-class Battleship, wreathing it in fire|
|Victoria-class Monitors unleash hell, destroying the damaged Dao-class Cruiser and bringing down a Luxing-class Bombard with their broadsides, then crippling the gunnery decks of the Chinese flagship|
|The last Dao-class Cruiser swoop in, flooding the Cerberus-class Battleship with conscript-soldiers and rendering it a ruined, burning hulk|
|Protector-class Frigates attack from the flank, scuttling a Nu-class Frigate and damaging one of the Chui-class Support Carriers|
|Luxing-class Bombards bomb the impudent Protector-class Frigates, destroying three of them, while the sonic weaponry damages the Victoria-class Monitor further|
|Aerial war as the Australian Fighter Planes try to cut down the Chinese squadrons|
|Chui-class Support Carriers finish the crippled Victoria-class Monitor|
|More Chinese Dive Bombers are cut down by Australian Fighters|
|They inflict a heavy toll|
|One squadron makes it through and nearly destroys the Australian flagship|
|The Jian-class Battleship finishes the job, flamethrowers melting down the Australian Battleship as rockets damage the Airship|
|The Nu-class Frigate scuttles the last Protector-class Frigates from the starboard squadron|
|The second squadron of Protector-class Frigates try their hand, boarding parties bringing down a second Chi Long-class Assault Airship as their turrets damage the Jian-class Battleship|
|Victoria-class Monitors attack from behind the island, their immense cannons bringing down one of the Luxing-class Bombards and blowing apart the damaged Chui-class Support Carrier|
|The Chinese fleet has taken serious damage, but the Australian fleet looks little better|
|Crocodile-class Assault Submarines try and fail to bring down the last Chi Long-class Assault Airship|
|Fearing the claws of the Tian Long Armoured Dragon Robot, the Australian Airship veers away, firing into the Dao-class Cruiser and causing minor damage|
|The Jian-class Battleship pushes forward, smashing apart two of the Protector-class Frigates with broadsides and waves of conscript-soldiers|
|The Victoria-class Monitors continue their rampage, smashing both of the remaining Luxing-class Bombards from the sky and crippling a Chui-class Support Cruiser with their immense Battle Cannons|
|The Tian Long Armoured Dragon Robot rips apart the long Victoria-class Monitor with brazen tooth and claw - monstrous!|
|Both fleets are spent, their objectives achieved but at far too high a cost|
|Many of the Chinese vessels are on their last legs, but the Australian fleet has lost a lot of their best ships, and will probably be unable to deal with the Tian Long Armoured Dragon Robot or the Jian-class Battleship|
|The scattered squadrons of the Chinese Federation, badly damaged but still dangerous|
|The Royalist Australians have lost a great deal, though their reserve squadrons and operational assets have survived almost intact|
CONCLUSIONS AND LEARNING POINTSAs usual, this was a fun game with a lot of damage done to both sides and a horrendous number of tokens put down (flamethrowers!). We had a nice mixture of ordnance damage and boarding, robot attacks from the Dragon and dive bomber attacks.
Looking over the final positions of the ships looks like a fairly dull game, but it was exciting at the time. Nonetheless, I recognise the need to make these games a little more interesting tactically, and am thinking to introduce new scenarios and more interesting deployments in the future.
The Chinese Federation were on point as usual, though Ben is a little out of practice with them. He was very happy with both squadrons of flyers, though the Dragon was a little slow and could only rip apart one target in combat.
The waves of Chinese Support Aircraft caused a lot of trouble, as usual, but the majority were cut down by the Australian wings quite early in the game. Only a few made it through, destroying a Tasmania-class Submarine-Tender and damaging the Commodore's Battleship. Had I not run the Apollo-class Support Carriers I would have been totally overwhelmed.
The "new" updates to the Australian fleet make the Submarine-Tenders feel a lot better, but the War Rotor was fairly underwhelming. This being one of the first times I have used it, I feel I need a little more practice.
I am criminally bad at using the Combat Coordinator MAR in conjunction with the Crocodile-class Assault Submarines - this needs to change if they are to make a big impact in the future!
Since this battle was played, updates to the Operational Assets have made them all cheaper - very nice indeed!
THE NARRATIVE"The attack of the East Sea Battle Fleet was largely inconclusive, leaving the Australian defenders battered but unbowed. Disrupted by the loss of their Commodore, their response to the attack was muted, an the majority of the Chinese vessels managed to withdraw without suffering further.
This bold attack was one of the first major assault beyond the South China Sea, and had attacked Britannian vessels within their own territorial waters. The Admiralty was greatly alarmed with this development, and began considering their response - but would they react in time?"
Thanks for reading,