You find me sat in my study wearing a quilted smoking jacket, surrounded by various books and treatises written by some of the most well respected minds of our age, a pair of half-moon spectacles perched on my nose whir and click as they focus to compensate for my failing eyesight with the occasional puff of steam as I leaf through some intelligence reports from operatives working covertly amongst the throngs of the foreign nations. It is a time of much upheaval. The belligerent Kings, Queens, Empresses and Presidents that rule the major states of the world bicker and squabble amongst themselves and in the process drag in the lesser nations of their allies. There seems no end to the barbaric actions of the unenlightened. It is enough to make a man’s fez spin.
If you are wondering what I am babbling about then allow me to elucidate. Hot on the heels of the recent Warmachine and Hordes Journeyman League we are poised to dive into the high seas of the steampunk world of Dystopian Wars! As an enlightened citizen of the Covenant of Antarctica it is my duty to shake my head sadly and mutter about the folly of man before putting on my naval uniform and setting out at the head of a fleet comprised of the most technologically advanced ships in the Victorian era to aggressively educate in just getting along with each other. The nations of the world cannot wage war if their weapons have been blown to pieces after all.
For the first week of the league we are using the contents of our starter boxes which suits me fine. Of the games I have played I have mostly used what is in the box as each one has a good mix of units which will give new players a chance to learn the basic rules. Learning is the main thing I hope to do during the league as although I have played some games and have the basics down there are a lot of advanced rules to take on board.
Decked out in my new fez, the standard accoutrement for the head of the educated and discerning Victorian gentleman, I am to battle against Zack and his Russians. Bloody Russians! It was a Russian, Markov, who betrayed the Covenant and released the secrets of the Vault to the world at large kick starting the arms race that now plunges the world into unceasing war. Any and all games against the Russians are grudge matches!
This opening clash began with my forces spread out across the board though with the majority nearer the left flank while Zack’s Russians refused the right flank by bunching up near the left. This meant my Plato cruisers would need to move at full seed around the volcano in the middle of the board to get into the action though hopefully they would do so fresh and ready for battle.
Turn one saw both fleets move towards one another taking pot shots at extreme range. Our frigates being the fastest ships in our fleets met with the weapons on Zack’s Novgorods finding their range first clipping some damage from one of my Diogenes Frigates and a Ptolemy bomber which was coming over the Volcano with plans to drop mines into the path of the oncoming Russians. In return my Aristotle class battleship, its bridge section the only thing visible above the waterline opened up with one of its energy turrets puncturing the hull of a Novgorod clean through and sinking it.
Turn 2 and the Covenant, eager to enact revenge on the thieving Russians, gain the initiative. The largest of my Diogenes frigate squadrons skims just beneath the water’s surface to gain additional speed to bring their torpedoes into range of Zack’s Suvorov cruisers. Larger Russian ships benefit from ablative armour meaning the first point of damage needs to be against the ship’s critical hit rating rather than its damage rating still causing just one point of damage and then damage is worked out normally after that initial hit. Doing as much as damage as possible in the opening volley would be imperative.
Five Diogenes frigates let loose with their torpedoes, two volleys headed towards the lead Suvorov. Just as they were about to hit a sphere of hazy light appeared around it causing three of the torpedo hits to be deflected at other nearby Russian vessels, a torpedo breaker! The wayward torpedoes did nothing and with a reduced attack roll I would be lucky to have any effect at all against the cruiser. Two dice and three sixes in a row later the first Suvorov was stripped of its armour and we were both left appreciating the effectiveness of the exploding dice mechanic!
Perhaps sensing that it was time to show off some of his pilfered tech the Russian fleet commodore used a Sturginium Boost to ensure that all his vessels that were able could boost their speed this turn. The Novgorod hit back hard, destroying a Diogenes as well as boarding and capturing the closest Ptolemy bomber. My mining strategy was looking to be a non-starter. Zack wasn’t finished there however as the Novgorod’s mortars opened up on the advancing Aristotle battleship. Despite being partially submerged and with its shields crackling beneath the explosive barrage some shots managed to find their mark causing a point of damage. The Borodino class battleship was still too far away to add its own damage to that of the Novgorods. In return the Aristotle rose out of the water and opened up the arrayed Russian fleet, causing damage but no fatalities and also failing to be in range with the prow mounted particle accelerator, much to the Russian’s relief.
Turn 3 and the Novgorods account for more Diogenes but fail to cause more damage to the Aristotle thanks to the frantic work of the inventive scientists manning its shield generators. The Covenant’s cruisers continue to move round the volcano and begin to fire on the captured Ptolemy which has come into range so as to deny it and its technology as a prize of the Russians. The remaining Diogenes are wiped out by the boosting Russian Cruisers and Battleship though the turret gunners on the Battleship may have had too much Vodka the night before as their aim is a little off. The Russian tiny flyers swarm the remaining Ptolemy but not without injury but after the dogfight it is the Russians who emerge battered yet victorious with help of Novgorod mortar fire.
Just as turn 3 is coming to an end Zack’s flyers, the oddly shaped Myshkin bombers steer towards the Aristotle. Its ack-ack and supporting tiny flyer wing cause one to ditch into the sea but the second rams straight into the hull! The Covenant fleet commodore and his bridge staff stare agog as the tail section sticking out of the side of the Aristote’s hull sags before dropping into the sea, dragging the bulbous yet now crumpled fore section and a gored furrow of battleship wreckage after it. The ‘hard shell’ rule has caught me completely by surprise and my firepower has been severely reduced as a result.
Turn 4 begins with a collision. Their attention on the giant hole in the side of the ship the Aristotle’s crew are unable to prevent colliding with the Suvorov squadron who boosted too close to the Covenant battleship. Both ships come away without a scratch. A heavy shocked silence descends before both crews come to their senses and open fire at point blank range. Its fire power already diminished due to damage the Aristotle can do little more than dent the enemy frigates. Its shields sparking chain lightning beneath a pounding of Russian guns it is finally sunk by the Borodino battleship moving up from the rear of the Russian line. But was it destroyed or was it teleported away at the last second? Only my injured pride knows for sure.
Rounding the Volcano the Plato cruisers come to the battle only to see their flagship sunk and the remaining Diogenes destroyed. Pausing only to make sure that the captured Ptolemy is put beyond use they turn to starboard and steam away from the rallying Russian fleet.
That was a brutal game but also an educational one. Zack was kind enough to be patient with me and explained all that was happening which I did not understand. I have a better understanding of boarding now and a desire to maintain distance from the enemy for as long as I am able, particularly as my battleship and cruisers have energy turrets which have the same fire power in all range bands. Should the opportunity to board present itself then it’s one to grab as the majority of the Covenant’s crew are robots. Big killy robots.
Next week we are playing 750 points which is not restricted to a starter set. I have a dreadnought, carrier and two Time Dilation Orbs which have not been taken out for a game yet, all of which were painted prior to the league so no hobby points, bah! Just the excuse needed to pick up some new models though as the two points I have earned thus far will not get me far up the victory table that’s for sure!
Till next time and if you are at TTN with your fleet, look for the guy in the fez.
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