Dystopian Wars Campaign: Battle for Scientists' Eyrie

From the log of Commodore Sheriden
January 2nd, 09:30 Hours: There it is, the lynchpin of this whole mess - a research facility on the Eyrie. Word from the Eggheads is that holding this rock will allow us a range of scientific benifits. At the strategy meeting with CINCPAC, we all were agreed that the potential for this to further improve the shielding of Dreadnaughts was most problematic. I have firm order that this rock must either be ours or a smoking pile of slag by the conclusion of battle. CINCPAC has released significant assets to my control. 
With that madman Melchett reportedly returned to Britannia in disgrace, our erstwhile Kingdom of Britannia allies are at our side for this one. As expected, the Franco-Australians have two Dreadnaughts and the Blazing Sun have a whole swarm of those rocket launching Rotors and Bombers that gave FSS Constitution so much trouble in our last engagement. Strangely, despite their pledge of full-support, Melchett's former Flag - Dreadnaught HMS Thunder-child is absent from their fleet. I'll have to look into this after the battle is concluded.
 Backgrounder to the Battle: Yesterday, we had the first battle of our new Dystopian Wars campaign, with rules-committee work and layout steered by Jason of Kruger's Kreations.

It was an epic 4 vs all (eventually) 1200 pt clash for the key campaign territory that provided a scientific base. 

I had noticed a concerning trend for games to bloat out in size (the blight of all game systems, In my opinion) and that a real Dreadnaught race was beginning to heat up. However, the campaign structure we got, I feel, manages these things well. When you roll for battle, there is a 1/3 chance of mediums being the big boys, 1/3 again of it being a 900pt battle with either one DN OR Two BBs/Large flyers (Carriers not counted) as the big boys and a 1/3 chance of a more bloated 1200pt game, limited only by the Bangkok Naval Limitation Treaty (50% max large/massive - carriers not really counted). 

What 'rescues' this situation is the other mechanic I really like: 
This is the repair cost table. See how frigates (which tend to die in droves) are almost 'free', even cruisers/bombers (both not highly regarded by the player-base) are not too expensive, while the better flyers (like John Henry's, Inari) begin to cost more and the real costs kick in for our Battleships and Dreadnaughts.

One other re-balance was that the ability to take two shields on any one ship (excepting KoB BBs only, which can have a shield and guardian) was a territory contingent ability. The first major clash of the campaign was a four player battle, 1200pts, corner deployment, and nominal Britannia-FSA alliance and nominal Austro-Hungarian-Blazing Sun alliance. The prize for winning was control of the territory that provides this extra shield.

We rolled up territories before the battle and amusingly I got two fuel depots - a good amount of resources but two squadrons became prone to explode.  I assigned these as two of my three frigate squadrons and so the deadly and hilarious FSA fire-ships were born.the Blazing Sun commander agreed to limit himself to no Dreadnaughts, since his Austro-Hungarian 'ally' had TWO! On our side, the Britannian commander didn't take his and I don't run one so the big ship count was: (BS) Axis: Two Dreads and a Battleship and Allies: four Battleships.

My fleet:
Independence Class Battleships Retribution (Sheriden's Flag) and Constitution
Carrier Saratoga
Full A-17 Bomber Wing
 Cruiser Squadron 'New Orleans' (three Lexington class cruisers)
Frigate squadron 'blue' (four Augusta class frigates)
Frigate squadron 'red' (four Augusta class frigates) - Combustible
Frigate squadron 'gold' (four Augusta class frigates) - Combustible

So 5pts over 1200 but, since Spartan inexplicably made the Saratoga 10pts more expensive anyway, no one was fussed and they were just pleased I'd taken the carrier at all!

The objective is the facility in the center, part of a line of islands down the diagonal of the board. The board also has a number of shallows, which we let small class cross but count as a 'soft' collision for others and some of these shallows have reefs. 
January 2nd 10:30, Hours: There is our old foe, Admiral Hitorio. He is rumoured to have clashed with Admiral Horthy of the Austro-Melanesians recently but intel says they have patched it up for now. The upside of that is that both his giant robotic Squid (these guys are nuts) are in repairs. I had also been concerned that their New Dreadnaught might be present but it must still be on shakedown cruise. He has the full two waves of flying rocket launchers though. 


I deployed my fleet to face him. We have learned hard lessons from previous engagements and both FSS Constitution and FSS Retribution were front and center and had an AA escort each. 

We had a bomber wing of our own but, unlike the rocket armed Blazing Sun flyers, it would need to stick it's nose out to get torpedoes in the water. 

With the Carrier, we had an extra wing of torpedo bombers.  

In the opposite corner to me (to Port of Hitorio's Flagship) was the assembled might of the Austro-Hungarians. They had deployed both Dreadnaughts. Dimly visible to their flanks were a host of tiny escorts and tenders.

Our allies were arranged opposite the Austro-Hungarians and to our right. They had also brought along two of their battleships and these were sporting the new 'Guardian Generators' that their scientists had dreamed up to protect the rest of their fleet. Spearheading their advance were Hawk Class Rotors and those vicious saw-topped submarines. 

January 2nd, 10:15 Hours: The Britannian Admiral was getting stuck into the enemy at his front. Meanwhile, I arranged my forces in a gun-line and readied myself for a Japanse charge, under cover of massed rocket waves. 

I was not disappointed. Rocket fire was heavy but I have provided sufficient AA to render it ineffective on our frontline ships. The Inari have moved into position, but we have surprises of our own in store.

 January 2nd, 11:45 Hours: We can hear the booming concussions of Dreadnaught broadsides bombarding the research facility. The Limey's report losses. We are as yet unscathed and have eliminated the first waves of Blazing Sun flyers. The Inari are in position to blanket us in rockets but do not yet dare to drop from where they skim at altitude. 

I have given the order to now unleash all torpedo bombers. Initial waves were foiled by a cruiser screen but the heavier A-17s now have the Japanese flag under sustained torpedo fire.
 January 2nd, 12:30 Hours: The Blazing Sun Admiral has clearly become incensed by the loss of face incurred by having to allow his ally to take the objective. He orders his frigates to join the Austro-Hungarians under pretense of lending support and then executes a series of surprise attacks at close range. 

The Austro-Australians respond with heavy fire then board and prize most of the frigates that remain. It is a smart trade though, how many docks are capable of building a Dreadnaught?

 One of the Dreadnaughts suffered such severe damage that the Blazing Sun Cruisers are able to race forward to board and capture the mighty ship. 

He may be the enemy but you have to admire the old Japanese guy, he's got balls. 

As for the Brits, after seeing off the enemy small ships, they seem to be biding their time with their own Battleships. Something smells wrong about all of this.
 January 2nd, 14:30 hours: However, now I get to smell incendiaries. After inflicting heavy losses on the enemy air wing, I had ordered the Cruisers and frigates to pass around the Battleship screen and join the battle. 

FSS Constitution and Retribution were focused on sinking Hitorio's Flagship so the Blazing Sun Inari saw this as an opening to risk themselves. They dropped from the sky and proceeded to savage New Orleans' sister ships.

January 2nd, 15:30 Hours: Just got signals from long-range recon. Melchett is still in theater and aboard Thunder-child. Damn all the diplomacy, if that madman gets the shielding technology on a Dreadnaught he'll wreak havoc and tie down too many ships trying to hunt and sink him. 

I make the call - we have to stop this now and do something about what Britannian heavies we can reach. I follow the Japanese example and send Gold Squadron frigates to attack the nearest Brit Battleship, crippling her. 
January 2nd, 14:00 Hours: It's going to be close. The first of our two objectives - to preserve key ships for the coming months, while deny the enemy the use of their own heavies - has been met. However, Scientists' Eyrie is currently in Austro-Hungarian hands. 

Oddly, out of all the Admirals here, I bear him the least enmity. He is over-cautious and over-fond of Dreadnaughts but has always fought fair and has definitely stuck his neck out the most today.

January 2nd, 14:30 Hours: True to form, the Britannians had hung back and hoped to wrest the facility from the Austro-Hungarians by a last minute assault before dusk.

I actually cheered when word came to me that the Prussians had retaken the Eyrie from the Brits in short, sharp, counter-assault. However, the facility's defenses were a wreck, the Austro-Hungarian fleet in tatters, the Brits not much better off and the Japanese too far away. They had all taken their eye off the ball too. 

Even as the Prussian Air-Lancers were congratulating themselves on their victory, the sole remaining Frigate in Blue Squadron executed it's pre-battle orders. FSS El-Paso sailed in close and sent in the Marines. We had the facility and the enemy had to accept that even if they retook it, our main fleet was still intact and could punish them if dared contest it now.

I don't think they even saw that coming. The battle was long (almost a whole day - with BBQ in the middle - real time) and hard fought, but Sheriden, I mean I, had a plan and stuck to it. I don't think it hurt any that John's Dreads both did all the necessary work of reducing the facility's defense for me AND proved a tempting target for Jason's forces. Jason's fleet puts out a scary amount of firepower and those Inari are always a  real handful - moreso now that Spartan changed the rules to make them more survivable. We had a great clash down my side of the board and in amidst some runs of very poor dice, I got some great hits in on his units. Better yet, as you can see in the campaign info above, what I risked - A-17 bombers, Cruisers and Frigates are all cheap to replace. 

I think the need to keep replacing some of the better kit when you lose it will do a good job of re-balancing what gets used game to game. Hi-tech stuff is, by necessity, going to have to become more scarce on the battlefield. At some of those points levels, Cruisers and my beloved A-17 bombers will once more become king too - because we can afford to risk them.

Anyway, cheers Jason (and props for the awesome 6' square table), John and Poochie. It was a great game and I am very much looking forward to the ongoing campaign. 

Thanks for reading.


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