Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Second Battle of the Sulu Sea

After the inconclusive First Battle of the Sulu Sea, both the American and Hungarian fleets were spoiling for a rematch. Both sides hastily made what repairs and reinforcements they could, and steamed forth to face the hated enemy...

So tonight Jamie and I played a rematch of our drawn game from last week. As we were now playing under the Bangkok Treaty rules, I would have to modify my Hungarian fleet to suit. I dropped the battleship Zrinyi and one of my cruisers (both took a beating last game anyway, so presumably the repairs aren't done yet) and used the extra points to swap the corvettes for 3 trios of Destroyers. So with these changes my fleet was;
  • SMS Szent Istvan (Blucher class Dreadnought, with two shield generators)
  • SMS Toldi (Emperor class Battleship, with one shield generator)
  • Cruiser Squadron Elso (2 x Reiver class Cruiser)
  • A Squadron (3 x Stolz class Destroyer)
  • B Squadron (3 x Stolz class Destroyer)
  • C Squadron (3 x Stolz class Destroyer)
  • 2 x Geier class Bomber
Against this Jamie's American fleet consisted of;
  • 2 Independence class Battleships
  • 2 Squadrons of 3 Lexington class Cruisers
  • 2 Squadrons of 3 Augusta class Frigates
  • 1 Squadron of 2 John Henry class Robots

I deployed my fleet in a reasonably tight formation, with Toldi and Szent Istvan anchoring the starboard end of the line. Jamie spread his fleet out a little more, with his cruisers and frigates to my left and center, the battleships abeam on the far right.

My deployment. The 2 cruisers are out of shot to the left.

FSA deployment. Two frigate squadrons are out of shot to the left.

The first turn was as usual uneventful, both sides being out of range to achieve anything. Jamie's battleships went on all stop orders, and his cruisers/frigates moved up from behind the island. My fleet pretty much all just charged on in, with the destroyer units leading the way and the big ships following.

Second turn things started to happen. The early exchanges went well for me, with my destroyers easily taking out a couple of frigates at long range. This was a trial run for the destroyers and I have to say I was impressed by them - they will definitely be in the fleet in future!

Then the American cruisers came foward. I expected the destroyers to die (or at least be reduced to ineffective) quickly, but they proved surprisingly durable. And even though my math showed they were best suited to long range gun duels, they proved pretty good in close range 'knife-fights' as well. The destroyers died, but took down their tonnage of cruisers before they went.

Meanwhile on the flanks Jamie's forces kept chipping away at me. On the left the John Henry's flew in and began strafing my cruisers, inflicting moderate damage. While on the right his battleships started bombarding my battleship. I had heard complaints on the DW forums about FSA shooting, but this was the first time I had seen it in action. Previous battleship duels had happened at RB2 (8-16"), where Prussian vs. FSA is an even match. This time he shelled me from more than 2 feet away. I expected fire from that distance to be ineffectively weak (mine would have been) but he kept throwing out 9 dice from half the board away. Over two turns this knocked my battleship down to half strength, seriously impeding it's combat effectiveness.

SMS Szent Istvan and SMS Toldi blocking a channel.

By turn 4 my capital ships were occupying the channel between two islands, facing off with what remained of the FSA cruisers. But the battleship was too damaged to be effective, and the dice just didn't go for the dreadnought. Then, for the last act of the game Jamie's battleships scored a critical on my battleship... and rolled snake-eyes for the result, instant destruction.


Tallying the final score, Jamie came out ahead by something like 140 VPs, so a narrow win to him. But I don't feel too bad about the loss. Partially because drinking your opponents beer really helps ease the pain, but mostly because that last critical largely decided the game - that was 85+ VPs on a single lucky roll. Without that Jamie would only have been 60 VP up, so basically a draw.

Other thoughts;
 - I did start to see why people claim the FSA is overpowered, or at least better than the Prussians. In a battleship duel, at under 16" range it's an even contest, but beyond that the FSA just wins outright.
- Didn't find bombing runs effective; having to fly right over the enemy is just too dangerous. However I may give them another go and try doing a 'handbrake turn' just in front of the enemy, see how that works.
- Destroyers rule, they are definitely going to be my small ship of choice.

1 comment:

  1. FSA are better at gunnery, the Prussians have other advantages and nothing scares me more than Dreads full steam into my fleet.

    You just prefer to play like the FSA!

    Cheers for the game.