"The great Moskva-class Dreadnought Dzerzhinsky was lost to the Prussian Empire in the early months of 1871, a mighty prize and a potent symbol for Prussian superiority in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Baltic. The vessel was taken to a hidden base near Stavangar, stripped of her secrets and rebuilt by Prussian scientists as the Markgraf. This incredible warship appeared in only one engagement, destroying a Russian Battle Group near Tambar, before disappearing once more - Prussian Naval Command would not risk losing their prize.
For nearly two years, nothing was heard, and though the Russians made several covert attempts to discover the location and status of the Dreadnought, it was not until January, 1873 that the Markgraf was sighted once more off the coast of Norway, taking part in manoeuvres with a combined task force of Danish and Prussian vessels. The response was unusually swift for the Russian Coalition - they immediately diverted several squadrons from their Northern Fleet and ordered attacks down the Norwegian coast.
To aid them in this endeavour and clearly perturbed by an aggressive Russian fleet so close to their national waters, the Kingdom of Britannia despatched a small Task Group formed of colonial vessels from the Indian Raj to meet with them and aid in their initial forays.
The first attack was against a small listening post near Lofoten. The Prussian Empire responded in kind. A powerful Interdiction Fleet moved to intercept the belligerent Russian Navy, and would meet them at Lofoten..."
- The Hunt for the Markgraf
Naval Battles of 1873
Welcome to the first Battle Report of the New Year, and the second appearance of the mighty Russian Coalition. This game begins a new narrative arc - the Hunt for the Markgraf, continuing something I started with friend Winner Dave nearly two years ago and will be continuing with my current opponents.
Building lists for a larger game of 1,500pts, my opponent Mike would be using the Prussian Empire, while against them I had formed an alliance of the Russian Coalition and the Indian Raj, acting upon behalf of their lords in the Kingdom of Britannia. The most basic objective for the game was chosen, namely scoring 1,050 Victory Points (70%) in destroyed or Captured vessels. In addition to this, there would be eight Objectives placed across the board to be captured and revealed - some would contain additional Victory Points or Medical Supplies that would win the game or help re-build crew totals, while others would explosive and dangerous!
The Objectives would use the tokens and the pack of cards from the Objective set - we used slightly different rules for this game, where each time a vessel was within 4" of an Objective they could attempt to "Capture" it by initiating a Boarding action and rolling 4+ on a single dice. Once Captured, the player could draw a card, and play the result as stated on the card.
The board was set for the desolate Norwegian Sea, dominated by a small collection of platforms and a drift of icebergs passing by two islands. At each of the platforms were several Objectives, representing something important for the two fleets to secure during the game. Would one of the Objectives carry information regarding the location of the Markgraf? We shall see...
|The White Banner Northern Fleet out of Severomorsk|
The Russian Coalition
One Borodino-class Battleship with Mimic Generator
One Dudinka-class Assault Carrier with Glacier Generator, carrying one Recon Plane and one squadron of five Fighter Planes
One Azov-class Battle Cruiser with Regular crew
One Azov-class Battle Cruiser with Regular crew
Three Suvorov-class Cruisers
One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
|Task Group Makara, seconded from the Kingdom of Britannia to assist and escort the Russian Coalition into Britannian waters|
The Indian Raj
One Canda-class Monitor with one Recon Plane
Three Devak-class Cruisers
One Squadron of five Veeran-class Corvettes
|5th Interdiction Fleet out of Stavanger|
One Emperor-class Battleship
One Elbe-class Fleet Carrier carrying one squadron of five Dive Bombers and one squadron of four Fighter Planes
One Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
One Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser
Three Hussar-class Gunships
Three Hussar-class Gunships
One Squadron of four Arminius-class Frigates accompanied by one Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser
One Squadron of four Stolz-class Destroyers
Two Squadrons of five Dive Bombers
DEPLOYMENT AND OBJECTIVES
|The two fleets close on the old derricks|
|The Russian flank is secured by the Corvette and Destroyer squadrons, escorted by a single Battle Cruiser|
|The centre of the fleet is held by the Assault Carrier and the flagship, the Borodino-class Battleship|
|Across the water, the Prussian centre is a huge wedge of Hussar-class Gunships|
|The Battleship and Destroyers hold one flank|
|The Reinforced Frigate squadron holds the other flank|
|Four Objectives lurk near the derricks|
|Two more near the Gun Platform|
|The sun begins to set, battle is joined|
|Swarms of bombers darken the skies|
|The Prussian Battleship takes the plunge and surges forward|
|Potshots damage the Kazimov-class Corvettes|
|They take cover in the shadow of the iceberg|
|The first Battlecruiser eases forward under the cover of the Dive Bombers|
|The Russian armour is too strong|
|The Russian Assault Carrier prepares to fire, Glacier Generator forming a wall of ice before it|
|Brutal firepower scores a lucky hit on the Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser, fire ranging out of control through the decks|
|Long-range bombardment from the Heavy Mortars also hits one of the Gunships|
|Prussian firepower at this range is ineffectual|
|The Fleet Carrier and second Battlecruiser begin their attack|
|Protected behind the wall of ice, the Russian capital ships are still undamaged|
|The Reinforced Frigate squadron slips forward|
|Their Speerschleuder-equipped Support Cruiser damages one of the Devak-class Cruisers, casting one of the powerful lightning rods into the vessel|
|Corvettes are despatched to deal with them, long-range fire damaging two of the vessels|
|The Gunship squadron sweeps around,|
|Shooting past the ice, the Hussar-class Gunships cripple the gunnery of the Azov-class Battle Cruiser|
|Russian and Indian ships bear down upon the Prussian fleet, with the Borodino-class Battleship using the Mimic Generator to simulate the Shield Generator of the Indian vessels|
|The Prussian response is equally aggressive|
|The Russian heavy-hitters take fire|
|Destroyers coast forward around the iceberg|
|The Corvettes come under fire, but their speed saves them from suffering any further|
|Long range fire from the Rostov-class Destroyers and the Azov-class Battle Cruiser damages the Stolz-class Destroyer squadron|
|The faster elements of the Russian fleet advance from the flank|
|The centre of the Russian formation moves together|
|The Prussian formation has suffered unexpected damage - here the second Battlecruiser is smashed by the Suvorov-class Cruisers|
|From the Prussian side, the Russian Coalition present an indomitable wall of grey steel|
|The two fleets advance upon one another amid the derricks|
|On the Prussian port-side, the Reinforced Frigate squadron faces down the Indian Corvettes|
|On the other flank, the Russian Corvettes and Destroyers advance behind the cover of the iceberg, accompanied by the Azov-class Battle Cruiser|
|In an ill-advised charge, the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier enters the fray and smashes a Konigsberg-class Battlecruiser and the lead Gunships with close-range gunnery and bombardment from the Heavy Mortars|
|The Prussian advance comes under heavy fire from the Assault Carrier|
|The retaliation against the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier begins, as the damaged Konigsberg lands a Speerschleuder dart onto the flight deck|
|Rostov-class Destroyers attack the Stolz-class Destroyer squadron, bringing down one and damaging another|
|Indian Corvettes swoop into the flanking Frigate squadron and destroy three of the vessels with powerful turrets. Boarding Parties then Capture the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser, leaving only one Frigate left operational|
|Catastrophe! Dive Bombers swoop onto the exposed Assault Carrier, pinpoint accuracy with their ordnance destroying the vessel! A massive blow for the Russian Coalition|
|The Indian Raj continue to impress, their Piercing ammunition crippling one Battlecruiser and finishing the second as it steers past the wall of ice|
|One turret fires to the starboard, damaging the main turret of the Arminius-class Frigate|
|The Hussar-class Gunships manouvre past the ice, opening fire upon the Battle Cruiser and Cruiser squadron with limited effect|
|The Battleship moves into range of the lead Prussian vessels, smashing the Konigsberg but failing to damage the Gunships|
|The second squadron of Hussar-class Gunships return fire and wreck the Mimic Generator of the Borodino-class Battleship, bringing down the vessel's protective shielding|
|The Battle Cruiser surges forward and opens fire against the massed Gunships, destroying one and damaging a second|
|Another squadron of Dive Bombers descends, but can only cause minor damage to the Battle Cruiser|
|A wide shot shows the two fleets feeding their ships into the meat grinder|
|The Suvorov-class Cruisers advance into close range and obliterate the Hussar squadron with a brutal volley, hitting the magazine of the lead vessel and filling the air with blazing wreckage|
|The massive explosion destroys two of the Gunships and damages every ship in the vicinity|
|Not content with this carnage, waves of conscripts from the port-side vessel overwhelm the lead Hussar and take the ship as their Prize|
|The two fleets close the distance - the Canda-class Monitor brings the mighty Howitzer-Bombard into range but cannot land the shot|
|The Russian fleet is unified, but the flagship is badly wounded|
|With powerful Fore Guns and Boarding Parties, the Stolz-class Destroyers almost annihilate the Rostov-class Destroyer squadron|
|The Kazimov-class Corvettes turn their focus onto the Objectives, recovering several but not the ultimate prize|
|The Emperor-class Battleship smashes aside two inquisitive Kazimov-class Corvettes with a broadside|
|The Azov-class Battle Cruiser damages one Stolz-class Destroyer|
|The last Arminius-class Frigate makes a bid to recapture the Donnerfaust, but fails|
|Their patience wearing thin, the Russian Dive Bombers swoop down upon a damaged Hussar-class Gunship, and obliterate it|
|The second squadron of Dive Bombers attack the last surviving Gunship. In a blinding flash of Sturginium, the target disappears! It reappears somewhere further back, a ruined hulk dropping out of the sky into the sea and sinking like a stone|
|The crippled Azov-class Battle Cruiser succumbs to it's injuries|
|On this flank, beyond the derricks, Prussian Destroyers try to cause as much damage as they can while the Russian Corvettes ransack the old derricks|
|In the centre, the Prussian fleet has lost both Battlecruisers and all six of the Gunships - a brutal show of firepower from the Russian fleet, though it did cost them the Assault Carrier|
|The Prussian Gunships have been obliterated by the wall of Russian firepower, and now the Prussian Battleship and Fleet Carrier must face almost the entire enemy fleet alone|
- Editor's note - though at this point the game should have officially ended as the Russian Coalition had scored more than 1,050 Victory Points, we decided to keep playing and "mop things up." Two turn games are no fun
|The Suvorov-class Cruisers fire together at point-blank range, crippling the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier in one immense volley and scattering the deck crews and Boarding Parties|
|The damaged Fleet Carrier ploughs forward, electricity arcing out in every direction and damaging multiple Russian ships - crucially the Russian flagship suffers critical damage and is almost lost|
|The Azov-class Battle Cruiser on the port-side finally makes an impact and destroys the two remaining Stolz-class Destroyers|
|Dive Bombers swoop down onto the Borodino-class Battleship|
|Magazine Explosion! The Dive Bombers trigger a chain reaction that annihilates the Russian flagship and causes massive damage to every ship in the vicinity. A mighty blow to the Grand Coalition!|
|As their flagship is destroyed, the Kazimov-class Corvettes spread out and try to recover more of the Objectives|
|The Prize! The Corvettes have clearly recovered something valuable, perhaps the location of the Markgraf?|
|The Emperor-class Battleship swings about, turret fire damaging or destroying several targets before Aggressive Luftlancers smash the central Suvorov-class Cruiser|
|The crippled Devak-class Cruisers open fire upon the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier before launching their assault upon the Prussian Battleship|
|Having lost so many Luftlancers taking the Russian Cruiser, the Prussian Battleship is easy prey for the Indian Boarding Parties|
|The the Capture of the Prussian Battleship, the battle draws to a close and night falls|
|The Veeran-class Corvettes finally finish the last Arminius-class Frigate|
|The Elbe-class Fleet Carrier is the last surviving Prussian vessel, battered and surrounded by enemy squadrons|
|The Russians and their Britannian allies are severely damaged, but hold the clear advantage|
|A wide shot of the carnage, showing the Grand Coalition fleet encompassing the Prussian spearhead|
|With two Prized vessels and the important Objective recovered, the Russian Coalition have made their first step to finding their lost Dreadnought|
Mike scored a respectable 1,005 Victory Points and recovered one of the Objectives, but unfortunately the Prussians were outdone, and the Grand Coalition scored a mighty 1,975 Victory Points (including the Priceless Artefact). Victory for the Russian Coalition and their allies the Indian Raj! A brutal game, with an absolute mess of a second Turn - the Magazine Explosion in the middle of the fleet crippled the Gunship squadrons, and though the Russians did suffer their own Explosion in turn when the Borodino-class Battleship exploded, it was too little, too late.
LEARNING POINTS AND CONCLUSION
The Russian Fleet continues to impress, and I am very happy with continuing to add to this fleet for future games. The combination with the Indian Raj did not bring a huge amount to the table, though the Veeran-class Corvettes are clearly one of the best Corvettes in the game, and replacing them with a squadron of Kazimovs would not have been as successful for this game.
I was hoping to Mimic the Shield Generator and keep the Battleship alive longer, but a crucial Generator Offline critical result messed with that plan!
I need to remember Concussive on the Russian guns.
Tesla weaponry continues to be especially effective and especially annoying! So many tokens needed for one shooting attack!
The Azov-class Battle Cruiser is a beast, and had I positioned the two of them together the centre of the board would have been mine even faster. As it was, the port-side Battle Cruiser was wasted for most of the game and the Indian Monitor could not find a good position to line-up the Howitzer-Bombard.
In turn, Mike has increasingly poor opinions of the Konigsberg - in his mind, the newer classes have made them less useful for the Prussian fleet, and would prefer a squadron of Donnerfaust Support Cruisers or more Gunships. They have good firepower, but lack in defences and need to be protected.
Nonetheless, the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier continues to be one of the most impressive ships in the game, and I really need to learn to shoot it earlier.
The Reinforced Frigate Squadron could have been more effective, but was gutted very quickly by the Indian Corvette squadron. In the future, against a less aggressive fleet, they would probably work a lot better.
The Objectives were fun and added a little spice to the game. They may have to appear again some time soon!
"The first encounter in the renewed Russian offensive cost the Prussian Empire dearly, and with the raid on the Lofoten Listening Station, the Russian Task Group had their first insight into the location and status of the Markgraf. Calling for reinforcements, the fleet paused for repairs.
They could not stop for long, however, as the Markgraf would now be moving, and the Prussian Empire eager to avenge their lost Interdiction Fleet..."
Thanks for reading,