11 February 2011

Dawn Harbour Attack

The Mountain Fury Fleet works into an offshore breeze in the early dawn to attack squadrons of the Dwarven Redhammer fleet at anchor in the harbour. The Elves had 550 points of medium and small ships, determined to destroy the battleship and supporting squadrons of cruisers and frigates anchored at the docks BEFORE a Dwarven patrol consisting of an airship, armored cruiser squadron and escort frigates returned to port. The playing space was 4x3 feet, the Elven fleet starting in the narrow end at the bottom and sailing East. The white circles between the jetty on the port side and the island to starboard are mines which moved randomly at the start of each turn. North is to the left, and in the upper right of the photo is the Dwarven patrol squadron which is only activated according to a special die roll at the start of each turn after the initial attack commenced.

This Subasha Fleet, the first Elven group subdued and now reluctantly subject to the Dragon Lords, is guided by the sharp eyes of a green dragon leading them through the mines around the mouth of the harbour. The lead elements of the fleet slow to almost drifting to allow the rear squadrons to catch up before the surprise attack is launched. The delay in the attack and the careful avoidance of the mines leads to a bunched fleet position which doesn't allow the rear squadrons to open fire in the first turn of battle. Worse still, a sharp Dwarven lookout is actually awake and sober at his post and the Dwarven player makes the initiative roll required to realize the imminent attack and get the anchored ships under way, the stokers at the furnaces flinging coal as fast as their short little arms can move.

The above picture features a perspective from the southeastern corner of the board, just as the Elven fleet begins the attack run and the Dwarven ships are building steam and preparing to move and defend the harbour.

The Dwarven battleship is the first to move in turn 5, firing a full starboard broadside against the heavy cruiser leading the Elven attack, just to the left of the dragon (which happens to be flying above a spotted mine floating in the water). The Elves are first to take damage in this battle, but the fight is definitely on.

The Elven Heavy Cruiser "Swift Eagle" Squadron moves to engage the Dwarven battleship with all port batteries. Meanwhile, the frigates move to engage the squadron of Dwarven cruisers at point blank range (point blank is anything at a range of 2" or less and provides an effective +1 DRM to all attack dice; when used from a stern rake position then all attack dice hit on anything but 1).

This is the Dwarven patrol, effectively off the board until Admiral Redhammer rolls a 6 on 1d6. An extra die is added each turn, but even rolling 4 dice at the start of turn 8 does not result in a 6 and their immediate return to port to assist their brothers with the Elven incursion.

End of turn 5. A pair of Elven frigates have already been lost in the close engagement with the Dwarven Cruisers. On the H.A.S. Oak a Dwarven voice cries, "Don't fire until you see their Pravda bags!" Because the Elven fleet adjusted the approach to avoid mines the line of fire for the destroyers and cruisers is limited and almost no damage is inflicted from these two rear squadrons throughout this turn. The pair of green dice on the jetty beside the wind compass is the Dramatic Explosion pool, dice which are added to any critical hit roll made this turn to determine an increased chance for magazine explosions. Behind the coffee cup looms the Dwarven patrol, somewhere just beyond the action, not yet aware that a brutal fight is on for control of the harbor. Of course, the strategy of the Elven Commodore is to sink the battleship, destroy the cruiser squadron, then turn and flee downwind before the Dwarven patrol is in range.

The Dwarven Admiral Redhammer takes initiative again and another starboard broadside chews up more Elven frigates. Splintered wood flies in all directions. Elven screams of agony are heard across the water by slumbering fisher-dwarves.

These are the killed frigates at the end of turn 5. There had been 8 in the harbour only moments before. One has been taken as a prize by a Dwarven cruiser which will be sunk in the following turn.

The heavy cruisers move into action, posessing the best movement of the fleet since their wind-independent movement allows them to head straight upwind and around the battleship, letting loose another pair of broadsides. Again, a near critical hit is nearly scored, but still only 11 hits when 12 were needed to penetrate the armored plate of the battleship.

End of turn 6. At the start of turn 7 Admiral Redhammer, in the Dwarven battleship, urges his crew to hurried damage control and 3 hull points are repaired, dimishing the 5 accumulated hits from the Elven heavy cruisers and the acid breath attacks of the green dragon circling overhead.

The "Swift Eagles" slow and line up to deliver yet a third pair of port broadsides against the Admiral Redhammer's flagship. Finally, a critical hit is scored and 4 green dice are rolled with the 2 regular white dice... no magazine explosion, but a critical hit disables several guns on the port side. The battleship returns fire, and despite the disabled guns and damaged hull, the Admiral plays his trump card, full broadside, splits fire and manages to sink both Elven heavy cruisers in a barrage of canon shot.

An Elven cruiser which had become separated from its squadron attempted to circle behind the Dwarven battleship for a stern rake which had proven desperately ineffective. After the broadside obliterated the heavy cruisers, a few guns in the aft of the battleship opened fire on the cruiser resulting in a critical hit... and with the green dice added in we finally had an ammo explosion!

Yes, the Dwarven cruisers and battleship were damaged in the explosion, but they survived. The Elven cruisers in the foreground, however, eager to fire on the battleship themselves, had forgotten about the mines.

The Elven "Watersnake" Cruiser Squadron is destroyed from the mine explosion which destroys the one cruiser and severely damages the other, effectively eliminating all of the medium ships of the Mountain Fury Fleet. The Elven Destroyers launch assault ships to board the battleship and along with the dragon which is now jabbing it's jaws at the portholes, the crew of Admiral Redhammer's ship surrenders and is steered clear of the harbour as an Elven prize.

The Dwarven patrol, however, has finally returned, and the last Elven cruiser is destroyed in a blast of splinters. A single destroyer, carrying the battleship "prize" manages just to escape along with the dragon during the course of turn 8. Despite the double VP awarded for capturing the Dwarven battlehsip, far too many Elven frigates and cruisers were lost in the attack, and Dwarven victory is declared with 50% more VP than the Elves which flee to fight another day.