The forces were:
KoB1 Dreadnought (1 shield)
1 Battleship (1 shield replacing 1 turret)
2 Cruisers (no shields)
3 Vanguard Submarines
My strategy was to throw the vanguards forward to intercept the Prussian force – or deter them from getting too close – while the Hawks exercised a some battlefield denial deploying mines, and the Dreadnought and Battleship and cruisers (shielded by the guardian generator) would act as a powerful battlegroup to smash the Prussian capital ships.
The Prussians took:1 Dreadnought (no shields as I recall)
1 Battleship (1 Shield)
3 Pflicht Scout Ships
Firstly, on the new fleet selection rules, my Prussian opponent grumbled about being forced to take cruisers, although I think he actually likes the miniatures – just not the stats. For my part, I realised that the Vanguards would actually have filled the medium ship requirements, so I did not need to take the Tribal Cruisers, but I did want to try grouping them with the battleship and using the generator, and I figured in such close proximity I might be glad of the AP to fend off Prussian boarding.
Next we rolled for terrain, using the new table. Only one roll was made over 5+ which resulted in a single sandbank (I had to use an old Man’O’War template as I have not yet got around to making some). The look on the Prussian players face was priceless as he realised there would be no cover at all. That didn’t seem like it would be much fun for me, so we added another 4 islands. Perhaps 5+ is a little high for terrain (even with both players rolling)? In any event we’ll try it again next time and see if it provides a more balanced result.
Then we deployed (both electing to use our tiny flyer wings as CAP for large capital ships), completely forgetting about the field orders until all the squadrons were placed (oops!) so we rolled after deployment. I got the one that required me to sink the large capital ships (in this case I had to destroy both the Dreadnought and Battleship to win) while DK rolled the Capture the Commodore result, meaning he had to either sink or prize my Dreadnought. Hmm, this seemed a little unbalanced, but as it was a KoB dreadnought I figured we’d play on. (Note, we don’t play with STAR cards because we find the hull repair cards entirely too powerful when played on Dreadnoughts)
As the game began the Prussians scrambled to redeploy, sending their battleship toward where our dreadnoughts slowly advanced toward one another. The Pflichts also hurried to move toward this side of the battle, flying obscured, and using the island as cover. Meanwhile the Prussian cruisers boldly advanced on the other flank, while a frigate squadron huddled nearby behainf the cover of an island.
The Vanguards moved forward, while on the far flank the british cruisers and Hawks moved toward the Prussian crusiers, supported by squadron of frigates. My intention was for them to deliver a slavo, fire some torpedoes, and swing around to join the Dreadnought. My frigates also moved only the minimum move, wary of falling early prey to the Prussian cruisers. There were a few indirect shots fired, but little in the way of actual damage.
On the second turn the British Dreadnought unloaded on the Prussian Dreadnought but was only able to score 1 HP, the return fire, however, resulted in a critical hit on the British ship, and the loss of 4HP in a hard pounding (we generally find that in a dreadnought vs dreadnought fight, he who scores the first crit is most likely to win the exchange). Now I was starting to get a little concerned, the Prussian dreadnought had turned broadside to fire, and I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be able to swing back around and get within boarding range, before I could turn and use the island to escape, but the Prussian battleship was also bearing down on me, shadowed by a frigate squadron and the Pflichts, and these were more likely to cause me trouble. As the Pflichts continued to use cover, I had no real chance to weaken them before they arrived – still I had an elite crew, an escort and CAP, so I was hopeful that I’d be able to weather the storm.
Meanwhile on the other flank the Prussian cruisers moved closer, opening up on the Hawks. Two Crticials were inflicted, but both Hawks remained airborne, if somewhat the worse for wear. The british cruisers returned fire and inflicted a crit in return, then the frigate squadron moved forward, and unleashed a devastating salvo, sinking the damaged cruiser, and putting a critical on the second.
The Prussian battleship then advanced closer, moving near the Prussian dreadnought, putting more hull damage on the British Dreadnought, while the frigate squadron shot forward, inflicting yet more damage on the Dreadnought. My battleship returned fire, but with little effect.
I won the crucial third turn initiative and activated the Vanguards. The subs had a great turn, sinking a Prussian escort and frigate, while shooting a second and sinking it (very lucky dice) while the vanguard on the other flank rammed the remaining Prussian cruiser, sinking it in exchange for 1HP. I must say it was the most effective I’ve ever seen the Vanguards be – accounting for 3 small and 1 medium ship – but for all that they never used the hull ripper as there was no need. We did the math and realised I’d have to roll really well to be able to trigger a hull ripping attack against the large Prussian ships, and even the would almost certainly take a crit in return.
The Prussian dreadnought and battleship inflicted a little more damage on the british dreadnought (some unlucky rolls) but very nearly collided with one another, and came to the sobering conclusion that the battleship would not be able to prevent colliding with the sandbank next turn due to the minimum move. Then the Prussian player enacted his plan, he broke cover with the Pflicht and raced forward to reach boarding range with the British dreadnought. The Pflicht AA easily dispatched the CAP (although they did take 1HP in return), then boarded. I had 8AA (thanks to my escort), and killed 4 AP, but all of my elite marines were killed in return for another 5 or 6 Prussian AP. The dreadnought had been prized!
Now we had to consult the new rules as it wasn’t clear if the game ended immediately, or we should play out the rest of the turn (the field order says immediately, but the turn sequence suggests victory is determined in the end phase). We decided to play on, but there was really only one action which might change the outcome of the game – the British battleship was in range to launch counter boarding, and did do – but alas the Prussian retained control of the Dreadnought with only 2-3 marines remaining, and the surviving royal marines were forced to return to the battleship in defeat. The Prussians had won the game through Field orders.
So, regarding the new rules – in summary:
1. Fleet composition was not universally loved, but I do like to see cruisers back on the table again.
2. The improvements to the British fleet seemed good – the increased AP to the battleship was particularly welcome – although ultimately was not enough to save me thanks to the new boarding rules.
3. The improvements to the Hawks were not huge, but I have seen what a mine can do to a tightly pack group of small ships, so I think they still have some use. Ultimately the changes to Obscured seemed sensible, and made medium flyers more reasonable (although I still struggle with the idea flyers can hide behind terrain!)
4. Several times the redoubtable Telsa rule added an AD where it normally would not have, so I think it’s actually a good change.
5. The Vanguards were great! Prussians are perhaps much more likely to close to range then other factions, and provide probably less of an air threat than some other factions (the real vulnerability of the Vanguard) but sinking 4 ships in 1 turn was great – I’d definitely use them again.
6. Overall the torpedoes accounted for not one HP – this is likely a factor of the game finishing in turn 3, before the capital ships were significantly damaged, but then when playing with field orders this seems a real possibility.
7. Field orders are powerful – admittedly had I known the fleet orders before I deployed I might have done things differently, but I would still probably would have backed a KoB Dreadnought with escort and CAP to mix it up with the enemy rather than cowering in the corner to deny enemy borders. Ultimately the Hard Pounding critical result, combined with a well executed boarding manoeuvre won the game, and that’s not a bad thing. It might be fairer if both players were to have the same field order – but one game isn’t enough to know for sure yet.