Thursday, 12 March 2015

AAR - The Prussian Empire versus The Russian Coalition

"In the aftermath of the raid on Utsira, the Russian fleet had the opportunity to refit and refuel before their grand attack upon Stavanger. In the days that followed, they were joined by reinforcements from the Barents Sea - a carrier group and gunships that would bring powerful gunnery to the depleted White Banner Northern Fleet. 

The Prussian Navy and their allies in Prussian-Scandinavia and Denmark were scattered and overstretched, unprepared for such a deep incursion into their territories. The defeat of the Wolf Pack and two Metzger Battle Robots at Utsira was a loss they could not risk again, yet equally they could not allow the Russian Navy to come into range of Stavanger - the Russian mortars would level the port in hours and cripple Prussian naval operations in the North Sea for months. 

Prussian Naval Command ordered the 46th Interdiction Group out of Bremerhaven to intercept the Russian advance at Kvitsøy, a small archipelago some miles north of the Stavanger peninsula. Made-up of some of the most advanced vessels in the fleet, the Battle Group were fresh from refits at Stavanger itself, and would be well-prepared to meet the implacable foe. 

...of the Markgraf, however, there was still no sign..."
- The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1873
Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance and the next stage in the Hunt for the Markgraf narrative campaign. Following a series of crushing victories, the Russian Coalition continue their attacks into the Norwegian territories - this time at the rocks of Kvitsøy, where they face the Prussian Empire once more in a 1,500pt match.

This time, my Good Friend Ben will be running the Russian Coalition - he has always wanted to collect them and was rather annoyed when I picked up a fleet! As consolation I'm lending him the fleet for this game. I will be running my old favourites the Prussian Empire - I have shamefully little experience with them in the new Edition, so am looking forward to using a good-sized fleet in a pitched engagement.

Drawing Secret Objectives, Ben had to destroy all of the Small squadrons in the Prussian fleet and score at least 750pts worth of damage. This would be a fairly difficult proposition given the number of Frigates and Corvettes in the average Prussian fleet. In turn, the Prussian Empire would have to destroy the Russian Commodore and score at least 750pts.

The board was set with lots of small rocky outcrops, and one abandoned weapons platform in the centre. A lone iceberg drifts in the Russian deployment zone.

46th Interdiction Group out of Bremerhaven, moored at Stavanger for repairs
My Fleet
The Prussian Empire

Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship
Elbe-class Fleet Carrier with one wing of five Fighter Planes and one wing of four Fighter Planes
Sturmbringer-class Submarine with one Reconnaissance Plane

Three Uhlan-class Cruisers
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
One Squadron of five Saxony-class Corvettes

Two Wings of five Fighter Planes
The White Banner Northern Fleet of the Russian Coalition, reinforced at Utsira
Ben's Fleet
The Russian Coalition

One Borodino-class Battleship
One Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier equipped with a Glacier Generator, accompanied by one wing of five Dive Bombers and one wing of four Dive Bombers
One Dudinka-class Assault Carrier equipped with a Glacier Generator, accompanied by one wing of five Dive Bombers and one Reconnaissance Plane

One Azov-class Battle Cruiser with Regular crew
One Azov-class Battle Cruiser with Regular crew
Three Tambov-class Gunships
Three Suvorov-class Cruisers

One Squadron of four Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes

Two Wings of five Dive Bombers

The engagement begins!
The Russian fleet presents a strong centre, with the Gunship squadron sitting amid the three largest vessels
The Prussian fleet is a thinner line, spread across a wider area in an attempt to engulf the Russian fleet
The rocks and platform in the centre will divide the fleets - whoever takes the initiative at the correct time will have the advantage!
Waves of Prussian interceptors lead to way, while the Russians form a wall of ice before themselves
Stolz-class Destroyers take the port-side flank between two rock formations
Long range gunnery brings down a Rostov-class Destroyer
The Russian fleet moves together
Retaliation smashes a Prussian Destroyer
The Hussar-class Gunships and the Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship veer to starboard around the old weapons platform
The Suvorov-class Cruisers take the majority of the fire, losing one and suffering damage on another
Opening moves - full steam ahead!
The Russian fleet is protected by a wall of ice
The Prussian fleet has seen some evasive maneovres from the Corvette squadron, while the Uhlan-class Cruisers have taken damage
The Russian Commodore leads the charge, igniting a Sturginium Overload and opening fire upon the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier to deadly effect
Putting all power to the coils, the Prussian flagship smashes into the Borodino-class Battleship and causes major damage across the decks. Broadsides destroy one of the Corvettes to starboard
The Dudinka-class Assault Carrier enters the fray, mortars and broadsides smashing aside one of the Uhlan-class Cruisers and damaging a Stolz-class Destroyer. The powerful array of weaponry on the bow savages the rudder of the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier
The wall of ice is erected between the old weapons platform and the rocks
Stolz-class Destroyers take the initiative and smash two Rostov-class Destroyers asunder
Tambov-class Gunships pour more fire into the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier - it has been separated from the rest of the fleet and will suffer accordingly. The weapon systems are smashed by their ordnance
The Prussian fleet reveals the trap and floods the deck of the Russian flagship with Luftlancers from the Corvette squadron. The ship is ransacked and left to drift, a ruined hulk - stunning victory!
The gunnery of the Corvettes also damages the Assault Carrier
Spring the ambush! The Russian fleet manages the same trick, with Corvettes launching an attack upon the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier. It too is rendered Derelict
The reinforced Frigate squadron moves to support the Corvettes, damaging two of the Gunships badly with arcing Tesla-weaponry
The Azov-class Battle Cruiser turns and presents its broadside, firing into three of the Corvettes and obliterating them
Prussian interceptors destroy a squadron of Russian Dive Bombers before they can cause more misery for the Prussian fleet
A wide shot of the carnage
The immense Kostroma-class Fleet Carrier ravages a Corvette with massed broadsides
Prussian Fighter Planes try to stop more of the Russian Dive Bombers, but the last Saxony-class Corvette is lost 
Prussian Fighter Planes engage the Russian Bomber squadrons
Dive Bombers descend upon the Prussian Destroyers 
Russian Torpedo Bombers smash one of the Arminius-class Frigates
The second Azov-class Battle Cruiser swings about, crippling the Donnerfaust-class Support Cruiser with broadsides and gunnery
Aided by the Reconnaissance Plane, the Hussar-class Gunships fire indirectly over the ice and damage the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier. Fires rage through the decks
Punishing gunnery from the Suvorov-class Cruisers finish the damaged Uhlan-class Cruiser
Revenge! The Prussian Cruiser causes crippling damage to the lead Russian vessel, then boards the second. The Luftlancers are beaten back, at cost
The Rostov-class Destroyer smashes one Stolz-class Destroyer with powerful ordnance, then floods the decks of the second with drunken conscripts. The boarding parties are barely repelled
The Sturmbringer emerges from the deep, electrical weaponry ripping apart one of the Suvorov-class Cruisers
Their crew broken and ship damaged, the last Stolz-class Destroyer is abandoned
The Russian fleet has successfully divided the Prussian fleet, creating a wall of ice to deny the powerful Prussian guns their targets. Those unfortunate ships that remain in their path are smashed aside
Breaking through the Prussian defence has been costly, however - the Russian flagship has been set adrift and several vessels are badly damaged
The Hussar-class Gunships attempt to negotiate the rocks - one is caught and smashes its rudder
Scattered fire from the Gunships damages one Azov-class Battle Cruiser
The Tambov-class Gunships are unstoppable, smashing through the reinforced Frigate squadron and destroying all of them
The Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship makes its presence felt and obliterates the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier with massed turret fire
The first Azov-class Battle Cruiser turns about, causing massive damage to the central Hussar-class Gunship
The Uhlan-class Cruiser attacks the last remaining Suvorov-class Cruiser, but is unable to finish it
The Reconnaissance Plane attempts to mark a new target for the Sturmbringer - but fails!
The second Russian Battle Cruiser also comes about and cripples the damaged Gunship yet further
The Sturmbringer rips apart the final Suvorov-class Cruiser with Tesla weaponry
It disappear back beneath the waves
Torpedo Bombers cause further misery for the engineers of the beleaguered Hussar-class Gunship
Unable to halt their momentum, the Kazimov-class Corvettes plough into the ruined hulk of the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier - one is smashed against the hull, another is caught on the rocks
Despite these late losses, the Prussian fleet is badly mauled and the Russians prepare to break past
The Russian fleet is leaderless, but the Prussian have lost all of the Frigate, Corvette and Destroyer squadrons - their pursuit will be slow
The Prussian fleet holds a strong starboard flank, but their port-side is completely gone
The Kaiser Karl-class Heavy Battleship and Sturmbringer prepare to disengage
The Russian fleet has suffered heavy losses, but achieved their objective and will continue the advance on the Danish port of Stavanger
At the end of the Third Turn, the Prussian Empire had achieved their Objective and scored 808 Victory Points, but the Russian Coalition had also scored their Objective and an impressive 965 Victory Points - enough to secure Victory for the Russian Coalition! A hard-fought game utilising a great deal more tactical manoeuvring, feints and ambushes than the usual slug-fest!

The power of the Russian Coalition is ascendant! Brutal firepower and great armour gives them the edge over the more subtle Prussian Empire. Ablative Armour and waves of conscripts prove their worth once again.

As discussed in previous games, the Prussian Empire have come to find the Russian Coalition a difficult foe, with their natural advantages of speed and Boarding power outdone by the sheer brutality of the Russian armour and massed AP. I think in the future, more guns may be the answer - the winners for this game on the Prussian side were the Gunships, Heavy Battleship and Destroyers - though the combination of Tesla attacks and surprise Boarding from the Corvette squadron did take the Russian flagship out of the game.

In turn, the Russian Gunships and Assault Carrier carried the fleet, though almost all of the squadrons had their chance to shine. The Suvorov-class Cruiser squadron were abandoned on one flank, left to be destroyed, but their powerful turrets still caused misery for the Uhlan-class Cruisers. For an extra fifteen points apiece, the Tambov-class Gunships are brilliant and will be a mainstay for the fleet in the future.

I was worried that the Assault Carrier would outshine the Fleet Carrier in the Russian fleet, but they both had a role to play and worked well together. The broadside on the Kostroma is particularly powerful and should not be forgotten.

The Borodino-class Battleship feels a bit... mediocre for its size. Losing it in one turn here may have been the cause of this worry, and I think I will need to try it with some Escorts to get the best out of it!

The Azov-class Battle Cruiser maintains its position as top Battle Cruiser in our book - great in all respects. The pair together caused monumental damage.

The Prussian Fighter Planes neutralised most of the Russian Dive Bombers, but having two massive Carriers gave Ben the advantage later in the game. Sacrificing my Fleet Carrier to achieve my Objective left me unable to re-arm my aircraft and deploy Bombers in the later turns. I am thinking more and more that taking several Carrier may be a valid tactic!

Overall I think the Prussian Empire held their own and did well with what they could manage, but my own poor positioning and Ben's expert placement of the icebergs divided the fleet and left many of my ships without a target until it was too late. Abandoning the Fleet Carrier on one side of the weapons platform made it an easy target, while the squadrons of Frigates and Corvettes could not withstand the gunnery of the Russian Gunships, Carriers and Battle Cruisers.

The final result is disappointing for the Prussian Empire, but they still managed to cause serious trouble for the Russians, and this was the closest game of the campaign so far. In the future, where the Prussians could disrupt the board control the Glacier Generators offer the Russian Coalition, I predict a different result.

Much happier with the quality of the pictures for this report - this was played in the workshop in my garden, in bright daylight. More Battle Reports coming this summer then!

"...few could have predicted the 46th Interdiction Group would be broken so quickly, battered aside by the rams of the Russian capital ships and stymied by conjured walls of ice. Though leaderless with the loss of their Commodore, the Russian fleet sailed on towards their target and brought their bombardment vessels forward to begin the shelling of the port. their attack began, the survivors of the Interdiction Group rallied and turned about, ready to punish the arrogance of the White Banner Northern Fleet. The attack on Stavanger would go ahead, but the Prussian fleet commanders vowed it would not go uninterrupted..."

Thanks for reading,