Wednesday, 9 December 2015

AAR - The Kingdom of Denmark versus The Russian Coalition

"In the wake of the disastrous clash at Midbrødøya, the Markgraf plunged deeper south along the Norwegian coastline, eventually clearing the Skagerrak and closing on the Kingdom of Denmark. Off Thisted, the mighty Dreadnought was met by the Søværnet and escorted to the port of Thyboron for refit and repair. 

Baron Karl-Ehrhart Grunner had exerted his authority on the Danes, but they would not tolerate his presence for long - already a fleet of Russian ships had entered their territorial waters and Battle Group Agdlek, "fleet in being" at Naval Base Frederickshavn, had been forced to leave port and commit to intercepting them. 

The Russian fleet remained in pursuit of the Markgraf, but with it protected in port they diverted their attentions to a pair of Sturgnium refineries north of Agger. A swift raid on these refineries would damage the Danish war effort for relatively little cost, or so it was hoped. Unfortunately they underestimated the speed of Battle Group Agdlek, and soon found themselves facing a strong fleet in the shallow waters off Agger..."
- The Hunt for the Markgraf (cont.)
Naval Battles of 1873
Welcome to another Battle Report from Full Spectrum Dominance, and another instalment in the Hunt for the Markgraf! Once more, the Russian Coalition move aggressively against the Imperial Bond as their attack moves further south into the waters of the Kingdom of Denmark. Taking advantage of the chaos, they seek to capture a pair of refineries in the North Sea Oil Fields. Unfortunately for them, the Danish are out in force! 

This game was a chance for the Kingdom of Denmark to return to the field, and for me to field my new Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier and attending Assault Craft. My opponent Mike would be trading the Prussian Empire for the Russian Coalition this week, giving me a chance to run my old favourites and giving him a chance to try something new. 

The two fleets meet at the Agger Refineries
For something different, we returned to the Ironclad Tournament Pack for our scenario, settling on the first mission in the pack, Sturginium Vein. This mission focused on two Objectives, one for each player with the "far" Objective worth more points. Assault Points could be placed onto the Objectives with a boarding action, and removed with counter-boarding or lucky AA rolls. They could also be defended by nearby friendly units, who could lend their defensive fire to hold off the enemy boarders. 

With this in mind, we chose our 1,500pt fleets and began the game! 

Battle Group Agdlek, out of Frederickshavn
The Kingdom of Denmark
One Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier with Shield Generator, carrying one wing of five Fighter Planes, one Reconnaissance Plane and accompanied by six Tyr-class Assault Craft
One Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship with Aggressive Crew

One Squadron of three Skagerrak-class Gunships, two upgraded with Raised Turrets and one equipped with a Calcification Generator
One Squadron of three Sigurd-class Cruisers

Three Squadrons of five Korsor-class Minelayer Corvettes

Two Fafnir-class Light Sky Fortresses with Tesla Generators, each carrying one wing of four Fighter Planes

Three Wings of four Fighter Planes
Donner Squadron, escort to the Markgraf operating in support of Battle Group Agdlek
Allied Detachment - The Prussian Empire
Donner Squadron - consisting of one Adler-class Heavy Bomber and three Zerstorer-class Strike Bombers
Vanguard Fleet of the White Banner Northern Fleet, in pursuit of the Markgraf - not pictured here are two Pesets-class Submarines
The Russian Coalition
One Borodino-class Battleship
One Dudinka-class Assault Carrier with a Glacier Generator, carrying one wing of five Fighter Planes and one Reconnaissance Plane

Rogatina Squadron - one Azov-class Battle Cruiser and three Veliky-class Escorts
Rogatina Squadron II - one Azov-class Battle Cruiser and three Veliky-class Escorts
One Squadron of three Suvorov-class Cruisers
Two individual Pesets-class Submarines with Target Painter (Primary Gunnery) Generators

One Squadron of three Chany-class Strike Submarines
One Squadron of three Rostov-class Destroyers
One Squadron of five Kazimov-class Corvettes

Two Wings of five Fighter Planes

The Russian Coalition form a solid mass of ships, ready to smash aside the Danish defenders
The Kingdom of Denmark split their fleet in two, each tasked with securing their respective refineries
Light naval assets are accompanied by aerial squadrons on the port side
Battle is joined!
Following waves of Fighter Planes, the two fleets engage.

Danish Cruisers come under heavy fire from the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier
More waves of Fighter Planes speed forward
The Sigurd-class Cruisers open fire, damaging the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier. They suffer damage in turn from the Chany-class Submarines

The Russian fleet concentrates their fire on the Danish Cruisers, nearly destroying one
Kazimov-class Corvettes begin their journey behind the island, protected from enemy fire
On the other side of the channel, the lead Rogatina Squadron smashes one of the Korsor-class Minelayers
Donner Squadron sinks one of the Rostov-class Destroyers with a long-range Speerschleuder
Danish gunnery damages the Azov-class Battle Cruiser leading the first Rogatina Squadron

The two fleets are closing, and begun exchanging heavy fire
The Russian flagship takes the initiative and causes for a massive fleet-wide Sturginium Boost!

It attacks the Skagerrak-class Gunships and causes massive damage to all three vessels. The broadside also damages one of the Korsor-class Minelayers
The Gunships make their play, opening fire on the Rogatina Squadron and boarding the Borodino-class Battleship. Despite the power of Calcification Generator shredding the point defences of the vessel, their boarding parties are beaten back bloodily. The turret fire is even less successful, and the Azov-class Battle Cruiser is barely wounded
The Pesets-class Submarine hides under the shadow of the Borodino-class Battleship and launches an attack on the Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship, but the Shield Generator flares and protects the vessel from harm
Korsor-class Minelayers try to save the Gunship squadron and lay a small field of mines in front of the Rogatina Squadron
One of the Veliky-class Escorts sacrifices itself to ignite the minefield, and the rest of the squadron moves up. Life is cheap in the White Navy!
The gunnery of the Rogatina Squadron achieves little, but their boarding parties render two of the Gunships Derelict and the third is all but destroyed. A big blow for the Kingdom of Denmark!
The second squadron of Korsor-class Minelayers use their incredible manoeuvrability to lay a mine before the Rogatina Squadron and then move behind them to open fire. One of the Veliky-class Escorts is destroyed by their turrets

Their boarding parties also bring down more of the crew of the Borodino-class Battleship, leaving it exposed
The Dudinka-class Assault Carrier steams forward on the other flank, heavy mortars and fore guns ripping through the Sigurd-class Cruiser Squadron
Their retaliation is enough to slow the beast
The Chany-class Submarines spring their trap, rising from the deep and opening fire at point blank range. The lead Sigurd-class Cruiser explodes as the magazine suffers a direct hit, damaging everything in the vicinity and leaving only a single crippled Cruiser
Their position revealed and hulls exposed, the Chany-class Submarines come under fire from the Fafnir-class Light Sky Fortresses. Two of the vessels are destroyed by their immense turret batteries
Aerial war as Fighter Planes duel overhead
The Suvorov-class Cruisers move in support, firing in all directions and bringing down a Korsor-class Minelayer to port. Their forward firepower also damages the Adler-class Heavy Bomber of Donner Squadron
Donner Squadron falls from the sky and unleashes hell upon the Dudinka-class Assault Carrier, destroying it in a storm of lightning!
A lone Reconnaissance Plane launches an attack on the Donner Squadron and brings down one of the Zerstorer-class Strike Bombers with incredible shooting!
The Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship enters the fray, close-range turret fire obliterating the Pesets-class Submarine as boarding parties ransack the Russian flagship. The Borodino-class Batteship is rendered a burning hulk by the blood-craved Danish boarders, and the Russian commodore is killed

In the confusion, the second Rogatina Squadron become disordered - crucial as their shooting will be wild and undisciplined
As the Kazimov-class Corvettes clear the island they are attacked by the Korsor-class Minelayers, taking damage from their turrets
Having lost their Commodore and no longer sure of the order of battle, the second Rogatina Squadron attacks from behind the refinery. Their fire destroys the last Gunship and wounds the Pocket Battleship
The time has come for the Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier to make its presence felt, and it quickly smashes the nearest Azov-class Battle Cruiser with turret and broadside fire. Activating the Magnetic Pulse, mines are thrown into the first Rogatina Squadron and obliterate the last Veliky-class Escort. Somehow the Battle Cruiser from this formation survives the massive explosion

The Battle Carrier also refits the two squadrons overhead, deploying swarms of Dive Bombers
The second Pesets-class Submarine slinks forward, destroying a Korsor-class Minelayer before disappearing beneath the waves once more
Dive Bombers finish the last Azov-class Battle Cruiser
More Dive Bombers, refitted by the deck crews of the Fafnir-class Sky Fortresses, finish the last Chany-class Strike Submarine
The Danish have lost their Cruiser and Gunship squadrons, but the heart of the Russian fleet has been torn out with the destruction of the Assault Carrier, both Battle Cruisers, Strike Submarines and the loss of their flagship. Can they recover?
The last remnants of the Rogatina Squadron suffer damage in their confused state
The Russian attack around the island has been blunted, but they still have the Corvette, Destroyer and Cruiser squadrons ready to attack
Bloody close combat is promised in the closing moments of the battle
The Suvorov-class Cruisers smash their way forward and open fire, finishing the last Sigurd-class Cruiser and heavily damaging a Fafnir-class Sky Fortress
As the Kazimov-class Corvettes try to clear the corner of the island the Korsor-class Minelayers launch their attack, destroying two and damaging a third with turrets and boarding parties
The Rostov-class Destroyers bring down one of the Fafnir-class Sky Fortresses
Brutal fire from the Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier destroys all three of the remaining Veliky-class Escorts
Concussion Charges from the Korsor-class Minelayers damage the Pesets-class Submarine
It nonetheless attack the Danish flagship, marking it with the Target Painter and causing minor damage with the fore guns

The Submarine also boards the refinery with all the troops it can muster
Donner Squadron ravages the Suvorov-class Cruisers
The Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship attacks from the stern, destroying one of the Rostov-class Destroyers and a Suvorov-class Cruiser
More attacks on the Pesets-class Submarine leave it badly damaged
A wide shot show the Kingdom of Denmark have the clear advantage
At the starboard refinery, the Danish fleet has all but destroyed the Russian Battle Group
Around the port-side refinery the Russian Coalition are battered from all directions, barely holding together
Ploughing forward, the Suvorov-class Cruisers pour their troops into the refinery. Their turrets damage one of the Korsor-class Minelayers 
The Fafnir-class Light Sky Fortress obliterates a Kazimov-class Corvette and unleashes its boarding parties onto one of the Suvorov-class Cruisers, Prizing it
The last Kazimov-class Corvette captures the undefended Fafnir-class Sky Fortress, but the Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship steams forward and opens fire in all directions, destroying the last Suvorov-class Cruiser and Rostov-class Destroyer
The Pesets-class Submarine manages to cause more damage to the Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier, but is surrounded and destroyed. The Russian forces aboard the refinery are cut down and the structure secured for the Kingdom of Denmark
Korsor-class Minelayers secure the second derrick and destroy the last Kazimov-class Corvette
Donner Squadron recaptures the lost Fafnir-class Sky Fortress and scours the last of the Russian presence from this side of the channel
A wide shot shows the aftermath of the carnage
Only a handful of Russian Fighter Planes remain of the White Navy
Both derricks have been secured and the entire Russian fleet destroyed - an impressive victory for the Kingdom of Denmark!
The surviving forces of Battle Group Agdlek and their Prize move on from their defence of the Agger refineries
The Russian Coalition had been utterly destroyed, holding no Objectives and scoring only 733 Victory Points. Holding both of the Objectives and scoring 1,660 Victory Points, it is a massive VICTORY for the Kingdom of Denmark!

A cracking game for the Kingdom of Denmark, who managed to pull a big win despite some very poor rolling in the early turns. Everything came together in the final two turns, allowing some significant kills that left the Russians in a bad state for capturing Objectives

The Kingdom of Denmark slaughtered the Russians for only 720 lost Victory Points - one of the biggest wins in the campaign so far. Why was this? The new scenario, the new fleet (Mike is not usually a Russian player) and the terrain could all have played a role, but I am not convinced any of these the big problem for the Russian Coaltion. 

Activation Order was a big point in this game, as the Danish had a significant advantage with their six wings of tiny flyers.

The deployment of the Russian fleet may have been a problem from the start, with Mike trusting the Battleship and Battle Cruisers to hold the starboard flank while the Small squadrons and the Assault Carrier took the port Objective. A sound plan, but the sheer number of Danish activations left them at my mercy.

On the port side, the Danish held an advantage with their aerial squadrons, who each fielded good firepower and were relatively difficult to hit. The terrain here stifled the Russian advance, allowing the Danish to pick on the squadrons one at a time as they cleared the rocks. On the starboard side, the Russians were outnumbered - their Battleship and two Rogatina Squadrons faced a Pocket Battleship, Gunship squadron, two Corvette squadrons and the Heavy Battle Carrier - a difficult prospect!

The Kingdom of Denmark made some big sacrifices early in the game, losing both of their Medium Naval squadrons early for relatively little in return, but the damage quickly mounted on the two Russian Large vessels. The Russian counter-attack bent on destroying the Gunship and Cruiser squadrons, but crucially allowed the rest of the fleet to move into optimum positioning for the later turns. 

The Russians and the Danish have have similar gunnery power at short range, but the Danish lack of armour is made up for with their enhanced manoeuvrability and speed. Their boarding power is also not to be dismissed, and their boarding actions matching the Russian Coalition overall.

Ultimately, this manoeuvrability, their masses of Small squadrons and their waves of Dive Bombers allowed the Kingdom of Denmark to smash the Russians at close range after the Russians had already activated, denying them a proper counter-attack. Mines were not a deciding factor this time; it was sheer ordnance power - the Pocket Battleship, Battle Carrier and Sky Fortresses being able to open fire at close range without having suffered any degradation caused major kills in the later turns that justified the loss of the Cruiser and Gunship squadrons and wiped out the Russian fleet.

The Asgard-class Heavy Battle Carrier is a fantastic addition to the Danish fleet, and brought a lot to the table. It can only be compared to the Elbe-class Fleet Carrier for sheer damage output as well as force multiplication, and Mike thinks the model may be undercosted for its strengths. I certainly think it is a mandatory choice for Kingdom players, and while ideally no ship should be like that, they are a relatively small Alliance Nation with few options beyond their two boxes and Lend Lease

Is it better than the Elbe for cheaper? Maybe. Would I take one in a Prussian fleet instead of an Elbe? Probably not, but it would be tempting! As it stands, I think it could have a few more points tacked on, but is otherwise a nice addition to the fleet. 

The Tyr-class Assault Craft did not have a chance to shine, as they were kept in reserve to grab the Objective in the last turn. Game-winning, but hardly impressive. I have no doubt in a more conventional game they would perform some serious violence.

The Gunships and Cruisers were used in a rather sacrificial manner, but their losses would have been all the more impressive if I had managed to roll well! I was hoping they would go down in a blaze of glory, but their only real success was distracting the Russians long enough for the rest of the fleet to close. 

The Raggnarok-class Pocket Battleship felt a little out of place, but looking at the battle it made a significant contribution "mopping up" the detritus from the battlefield. Mike commented it always activated late in the turn, and looked like its original targets had been destroyed. This might be true, but I was happy with how it performed alongside the Asgard

The Korsor-class Minelayers were okay, it was a shame their Linked Mines did not cause as much damage as I had hoped. They caused a lot of trouble with their boarding parties and gunnery, however, and eleven of them survived the battle! I am not used to having any of them last past turn three.

Donner Squadron continues to cause terror, smashing several Russian ships and causing havoc as usual. This time they suffered their biggest losses of the campaign so far - two points of damage on the Adler and a lost Zerstorer. Tragic! As usual, the Russians need to invest in some serious interceptors.

For the Russian Coalition, the Chany-class Strike Submarines continue to cause contention - they have ALL the special rules, powerful guns and a cheap points cost. After discussion, we agreed we would like to see them go up in points, to 60pts perhaps. 50pts feels like a bargain for what they bring to the table, but then we do not use torpedoes with any regularity so perhaps we would feel different under those circumstances. 

The Pesets-class Submarines were picked out as particularly unimpressive, but this is probably down to unfamiliarity with their uses and Mike's need to activate in a certain order on Turn Two. Had they gone earlier, the Battleship could have benefited and made a mess with its three Turrets. Alas, it was not to be, and they were dragged down with Concussion Charges

Beyond the Strike Submarines, the Russian fleet performed fine, they just did not get the chance to shine before they were overwhelmed and shot to bits. When they could fire, the Danish ships disappeared in droves, but their chances were few. The pair of Rogatina Squadrons was an interesting experiment, but a poor morale test robbed the second squadron of its chance to shine, so this might need to be tested again.

In the future, Mike stated that he would like to run more mortars against the Kingdom of Denmark - their relatively weak defensive stats and their large squadrons of Corvettes would suffer under the bombardment of a Khatanga-class Heavy Battleship. Really it was lucky the Dudinka was removed so early in the game - the gunnery of that vessel should have caused a lot more damage.

Overall, a brilliant game for the Kingdom of Denmark and a good chance for them to show off their boarding and gunnery strengths. Their mine-laying may need some work, but it is good to see they don't need to rely on it. For the Russian Coalition, a bad day, but Mike has learned a few things and might have a better chance next time!

"...the engagement at the Agger Refinery cost the Russian Coalition dearly, and the Kingdom of Denmark had proven to the world once more they were still a major naval power in the world. Nonetheless, the attack was deeply troubling to the Søværnet, and they doubted they would be able to resist a larger attack from the Russians and their Britannian allies. 

Following the refits and repairs, the Markgraf was urged to leave Thyboron and Danish waters, and make sail for Bremerhaven where the Prussian Empire would be able to defend their prize with their full naval power. 

The journey would be treacherous for the Dreadnought, and as Baron Grunner knew full well, there were those beyond the Russian Coalition who wanted to see the end of the Markgraf..."

Thanks for reading,