18 February 2011

Running the Gauntlet

Kyle spent all his Recon points accumulated from the first two games to challenge me to a Strategic mission. We rolled up one mission which scared the Dwarven Admiral, so we rolled again and settled on "Running the Gauntlet." We each had 800 points and set the playing space for 3x4, placing the towers shown at the bottom of the above photo to effectively serve as the "finish line" for a single Dwarven ship to cross. According to the mission, the attacking player needs only get one large class ship from one short end to the other. He estimates that with the speed of his battleship it will take him at least 11 turns to reach the finish line with that model, but he also deploys an airship which has better movement.

I set up on the long sides, rolling a die for each squadron to determine which side it deploys, and all of them end up on the Northern side save for my frigate squadron which is at anchor while the sailors hang their linen to dry in the sun on washing day. Unfortunately, only the frigate squadron is upwind, so I make a decision to head close to the wind but not against it, aiming to engage the Dwarven fleet directly rather than attempt a running gun battle from along the sides.
The Dwares move first, and the Airship is already moving full speed ahead, clearly attempting to make a dash for the finish line while the rest of the fleet makes slower progress in protective positions around the battleship. The airship turns to point directly at the frigates, clearly intending to steer clear of the main force of the Elven fleet, but also fires an opening salvo at long range against my Elven battleship which sustains a critical hit against a sailing mast, halving its speed. I start by activating the Elven Mountain Fury Spirit Battleship with the prow pointing into the wind, giving me (with the 1/2 movement) 2" of movement to spend which is used to come about toward the Dwarven threat. Oh, and an answering salvo against the Dwarven Airship at least damages the the vessal.
Here is the indication of my nerd quotient for this game: I've printed up stat cards and slipped them into clear plastic protective covers, adding a printed name tag for the particular ship or squadron, in this case the Mountain Fury Spirit Battleship.
A squadron of the Dwarven escorts move and fire at the Elven battleship, and more damage is done to the Pride of the Elven Fleet. But the Elves are determined to eliminate the one enemy large class model which is most likely to win the mission. The Heavy Cruisers pull into a firing position and link broadsides to blast the Airship from the skies.
This is the same action on the table but from the Elven perspective. And I'm including it because you can see some of my collection of vintage typewriters on the shelves against the wall in the background. (Also Felix the Cat.) The rest of the squadrons activate and move, but the significant part of the turn is finished when the Airship plunges into the drink.
Start of Turn 2. The Elven frigates are running away to hide behind the island to serve as a final reserve force with the wind gauge while the rest of the Elven fleet prepares to fully engage the Dwarves. But already the Dwarven Battleship, H.A.S. Foe Hammer, is losing progress toward the finish line by turning away and moving Southwest.
The Elven Heavy Cruiser "Watersnakes" Squadron move into a position to fire broadsides and force a ramming and possible boarding confrontation with their Dwarven counterparts. The strange model on the left with the felt sails & toothpick mast is my scratchbuilt proxie for a Viper Class Cruiser. I spent less than an hour modelling and painting this piece because I intended to use it in this game.
My other scratchbuilt model is the turd being pushed by a frigate above to make a proxie for a third Raven Destroyer to fill out my "Claw" Squadron for this game in the same way as the Viper. I attempted to scratch some planks into the side of this "assault ship" but it doesn't look like much with my fast coat of paint and the camera angle.
The Elven fleet is travelling just inside the wind to take full advantage of their superior movement speed, on a clear vector to close and intercept the Dwarven ships, specifically the battleship. If I can destroy or capture the H.A.S. Foe Hammer then I win the mission. The lead Heavy Cruiser of my "Watersnakes" Squadron was sunk in a severe ram by the H.A.S. Bayonet (the white Dwarven Armored Cruiser), but most of the firing done in this turn does minor if any damage against targets.
Start of Turn 3. The Dwarven ships clearly can not go around the Elven enemy, and close action is likely. The Elves certainly hold the wind guage and can turn to move into contact with the enemy as they choose.
First, the Elven "Claw" Squadron turns to move close and launch the assault pods, two of which ram the battleship but are immediately smashed into splinters by the collision, Elven marines grasping for planks to keep from drowning beneath the keel of the steel enemy leviathan.
The Dwarven escort squadron moves around into a stern raking position behind the Elven cruisers, but many of their guns miss the mark, damaging a single enemy cruiser and marginally at that. Then the Elven "Whirlwind" Cruiser Squadron moves 13" with aid of a STAR card, and two of the cruisers successfully ram (they don't sink from collision damage) the battleship and the Elven marines swing across to board the H.A.S. Foe Hammer. It's down to a boarding action now with 9 points of Elven marines against 8 Dwarven crew points.

I must declare my love of the yardstick, preferring the rigid piece of wood to the flimsy metal tape measure. I like having my yardstick close at hand, ready to measure firing range, easy to slap against the table to produce a satisfying clap which instills fear in the enemy.

I roll exceedingly well for the boarding action, destroying more crew points than the battleship actually has, and the cruisers are able to sustain the nominal losses inflicted by the Dwarves quaking in their boots. The Dwarven colors are struck and the Elven banner is run up the signal mast to mark the Elven victory in this mission.

The proxie Elven ships will be replaced as soon as I make another trip to the game store. And I'm thinking of repainting the fleet anyway, something with more yellow than brown, and I like the idea of their sails composed of Dwarven hides, so I'm thinking of some stitching and then a flesh wash on the sails.