Week one’s opening game saw my Covenant forces beaten by Zak’s Russians in what was a master class in boarding anything and everything that came close enough. I came away from the battle with a few hard learned lessons to tuck under my fez. Mostly this was don’t get too close to a fully manned enemy vessel if avoidable. My starter fleet ships that have the option have been equipped with energy turrets; this means that they will pump out the same amount of fire power at range band four as at range band one, there is no need for me to get up close and personal.
If Zak can board my ships then I can board his, or whomever I come across. My fleet is determined to swamp some enemy vessels with rocket powered robot supermen as soon as practical to do so. As long as the stolen weapons of war are out of the hands of the belligerent nations then it matters not if they are in my custody or at the bottom of the sea. Yes, things would be different this time.
Losing though does smart even if playing the game and enjoying it is your first goal. So with a mind to win a game I decided to go the whole hog and try something I would not normally do, overkill. The second week’s battle is free from the restrictions of using the starter box and is 750 points. Checking my points I found that I could squeeze in two of my fully painted but as yet untested models, the Prometheus Dreadnought and Callimachus Time Dilation Orb. Overkill, no?
One of the popular tactics with the Covenant is to use your Callimachus to teleport something big and shooty, like a dreadnought, behind your enemy’s gun line to wreck merry havoc. This was to be the main thrust of my strategy this time round. That and plenty of boarding shenanigans.
It had been a week since Covenant high command have heard anything from the fleet that was roundly defeated by Zak’s Russians. Curious as to its whereabouts one of the standby support fleets in the area sail to their last known co-ordinates whereupon they run into the Japanese, led by Graham my opponent for this game. Though generally good at arithmetic the brass of the Covenant can sometimes add two and two together and make five. Thus was the Japanese fleet sailing through Covenant wreckage deemed to be the culprit behind its disappearance and battle was joined.
This time round the Covenant avoided spreading out too thinly, The Dreadnought and Callimachus staying close to one another with a screen of four Diogenes Frigates whilst to their port a squadron of three Plato Cruisers were accompanied by another squadron of four Diogenes. Arrayed against them was a Sokotsu battleship screened by three Kitsune Escorts. Two squadrons of cruisers, three each of Nakatsu and Tanuki were joined by two Yurgi destroyers and on the far flank a squadron of Uwatsu frigates.
Opening moves and each fleet moved forward. Not wanting to be hasty and begin the game by teleporting prematurely the Covenant were cautious to begin with. The Plato Cruisers set off and linked their fore turrets at their counterparts in the Blazing Sun fleet, the Tanuki causing one point of damage. In reply the Nakatsu open up with that staple of Blazing Sun technology, rockets, only to be foiled by a staple of Covenant technology, the shield generators of the Platos. The Tanuki also fire their rockets at the Platos but again nothing until they take aim with their turrets and overwhelm the lead Plato’s shields causing a systems offline critical hit!
Desperate perhaps to prove the worth of hollow tubes packed with gunpowder the Sokotsu joins its rocket barrage to the hail of pyrotechnic explosives sensing an opening now that one of the Platos has no shields. Ack-ack from the fully operative Platos prevents any hits being landed but they can do nothing as the battleship’s main guns open fire and blow the prow of the ship clean off, leaving the rest of it to quickly disappear beneath the waves. First blood to Graham!
The Covenant fleet commodore decides now is time to surprise the enemy before he loses any more ships. With a steadily building hum the Time Dilation Generator on the Callimachus Orb opens a rift portal dead ahead of the Dreadnought which then proceeds to sail towards it. However something must have gone awry as when rolling to activate the teleportation effect I roll a one! Putting my faith in the inventive scientists aboard the Orb I re-roll. Horror! Another one. Not only do I fail to engage my points guzzling strategy but I also manage to blow up the generator! Attempting to claw back some dignity the dreadnought opens up with its bombard at the distant Sokotsu but causes no damage.
Panicking only slightly the first squadron of Diogenes Frigates speeds towards the Tanuki and broadsides them causing a critical and leaving one in complete chaos and disarray, no more rocket attacks from that vessel for a while. The Diogenes follow up torpedo spread at the Nikatsu are repelled by concussive charges hurled into the water ahead of impact.
Turn two and no successful repair to any critical damage for either fleet means we both have to work with status effects in place. Winning the initiative the Antarctican fleet commodore is quick to decide that this battle will need to be won the old fashioned way. Steaming ahead at the trio of Nakatsu that stand between it and the battleship the Prometheus dreadnought fires the particle accelerator on its prow. Crew all over the ship feel the thrum of the device which rings the periphery of the vessel and whose force is expelled from the large gauge barrel built into the prow. A critical hit halves one of the Nakatsu’s firepower.
Aiming for a kill of their own the gunnery crews in the starboard turret take aim at the Nakatsu within their line of sight and open up causing enough damage to the navigational systems that the vessel can no longer change direction. The port turret crews simultaneously fire at their target destroying the third of the squadron. Revenge for the Plato! The fore turret crew not to be outdone blow the nav-locked cruiser out of the sea whilst the bombard atop the vessel accounts for the last vessel of the trio. A whole squadron of cruisers wiped out in a single turn by the dreadnought, overkill indeed.
Whilst the big ships duke it out the squadron of Uatsu frigates steam around the volcano on my starboard flank and took aim at the squadron of Diogenes frigates lagging back from the front with rockets but fortune and copious amounts of flak prevent any damage. Feeling exposed the Callimachus Orb moves slowly away from the enemy fleet whilst on board the chief scientist loses his cool and describes in less than scientific terms what will happen to his assistants if the time dilation generator is not repaired swiftly.
Determined to do some damage to the Prometheus Graham’s flyers move to intercept it but are not close enough just yet. In reply the Covenant’s dive bombers move towards the Blazing Sun battleship. It is an established fact that there are no indigenous chickens in the arctic. The Plato squadron open up with their energy turrets on the Tanukis but the high powered energy beams do only one point of damage.
Demanding vengeance for the sinking of the Nakatsus the enemy fleet commodore turns the Sokotsu towards the Prometheus and orders its crew to unleash rockets but the dreadnought’s ack-ack prevents enough damage being caused to penetrate its armour. Following up the Sokotsu fires its main turrets at the dreadnought but is still unable to cause any noticeable damage. The aft turret fires at the Platos but their shields and the inventive scientists manning them resist the firestorm. Transfers to the Callimachus may be in order once the battle is done! It seems as if the Sokotsu is at the centre of a vision of hell with all its guns blazing and finally it causes a casualty by sinking a Diogenes frigate with a blast from its broadside.
The turn ends with the Blazing Sun strung out but with reserves finally in range and a squadron down whilst the Covenant is attempting to reform its battle plan in light of the Orb’s failure. The Orb manages to get its generator back online and the threat of unpleasant violence involving a pair of tongs and a Bunsen burner on a group of junior scientists is for the moment, averted.
With the generator on the Callimachus back in working order it generates a field ahead of the Prometheus once more. The Uatsus having cleared the volcano drive towards the Callimachus causing cries of alarm to be heard from the bridge but the scientists manning the generator are too busy patting themselves on the back to notice. The Uatsus destroy Diogenes frigates that have manoeuvred behind with a broadside.
The Prometheus bridge crew erupt into cheers as the time dilation field appears before them again and the fleet commodore orders all speed ahead but as it reaches the periphery of the field there is a muffled bang from starboard aft and a plume of smoke can be seen rising from the Callimachus, the generator has exploded again! Twice in a row ones rolled for the inventive scientists! The junior scientists cower in the corner, the closest of their number to the supervising scientist is out cold from an angry blow to the jaw thrown in frustrated fury. Woe betide the rest of them as he stalks across the engineering deck towards them.
Outside the fleet commodore educates his men in a true sailor’s vocabulary. Eager not to draw his ire any more the first mate sends orders to fire the particle accelerator again and a Kitsune escort attached to the Blazing Sun battleship is vaporised but succeeds in absorbing enough of the shot’s energy that it cannot harm the Sokatsu. The fore and two beam turrets on the Prometheus cause a critical hit on the Sokatsu locking its rudder straight ahead. The starboard broadside and rear turret fire on the Tanuki squadron causing the deck of one to erupt in raging fires. Across the ship crew abandon their duties to man the pumps and tackle the blaze.
Unable to turn the Sokatsu moves ahead slowly trying to buy time for its engineering crews to affect repairs. Using the opportunity of having its guns lined up on the advancing Prometheus the Sokatsu unleashes rockets and turrets but again causes no damage, the dreadnoughts defences proving too formidable. The Platos are not so fortunate and one is sunk by the Sokatsu’s broadside. In reply the Diogenes frigates moving up ahead of the dreadnought sink another of the battleship’s Kitsune’s escorts. The advancing dive bombers look more ominous as the vessel’s support ships are stripped away but the fighter squadrons of the Blazing Sun are moving to intercept.
In the centre of the line the Tanuki fire rockets at the Callimachus causing panic below decks but little else. The Platos fire at the Yurgi destroyers and sneaky Uatsu but cause no significant damage, their crew still shaken from the death of one of their number.
The turn ends with the Covenant bombers being intercepted by the second squadron of fighters and being destroyed, the experienced pilots of the Blazing Sun more than a match for the artificial intelligences guiding the Covenant drone craft. All critical damage effects on both sides is repaired with only a few concussions needing to be administered aboard the Callimachus to get the time dilation generator working again.
Turn four and the Orb generates a time dilation field ahead of the Diogenes frigates assisting the Prometheus. The Uatsu are now well behind the Covenant battle line and open up on the Callimachus and Diogenes who are unable to reply but no damage is caused.
The Tanuki fire their turrets at the remaining two Platos but their shields prevent them taking damage. In reply the Platos perform an incredibly risky manoeuvre, weaving between the Tanuki and the Yurgi to unleash both their broadsides point-blank along with their turrets but miraculously none of the Blazing Sun ships are so much as scratched when the smoke clears. The return fire from the Yurgi is equally ineffectual. The far Tanuki finds its luck run out however when the Diogenes frigates aiding the Prometheus use the time dilation orb to boost their speed and allow them into range to sink it with torpedoes, the crew manning the concussion charges being called away to help quell the fires only just put out on its decks.
Eager to salvage what dignity he can from this battle the Covenant fleet commodore order the particle accelerator fired again. Ignoring the protests coming from the engineering deck, some tosh about ‘she cannae take the strain’, the Prometheus opens up for a third time, vaporising the last Kitsune whose crew have bravely manoeuvred themselves between the two naval behemoths hoping to shield their commander. The beam is strong enough that it carries on and a hole is bored into the Sokatsu’s armour. A lucky shot from the Prometheus’ turrets must have gone through the breach in the Sokatsu’s armour as her magazines explode and engulf the surrounding vessels in a violent conflagration. 16 damage are rolled against all ships nearby sinking the Diogenes frigates caught in the blast and damaging the Prometheus, taking its systems offline. If the Blazing Sun were able to now take advantage of the flag ship’s predicament they may be able to humble the beast but alas, it is game over time.
Phew, the dreadnought is certainly a monster on the field. Graham put up a brave fight even as it brushed aside all he had to throw at it. The battles between out other ships was more balanced though how differently the game would have played out had the Callimachus had been able to teleport the Prometheus behind the enemy lines as planned is not something we had a chance to find out. Two consecutive generator failures meant the Prometheus was too far away for the Orb to have any impact on the battle making it a waste of 70 points and an abject lesson in not putting all my eggs in one basket.
Overall an enjoyable game but the Dreadnought is something I will hold off for bigger games in the future. Otherwise my games may well become predictable and one sided affairs as the Prometheus sweeps all opposition aside and where is the fun in that game after game? I would like to duel with my opponent, not turn up just to pull off one or two game winning moves each week where games inevitably become dull.
Talking afterwards Graham realised he had forgotten to roll for his shield generators through the whole game and I realised I hadn’t even attempted to board anyone the entire game. I blame that bloody orb.
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