Yesterday evening me and Jezza of The Chaps had a 1500(ish) point game of Dystopian Wars. The mighty and (mostly) painted 5th Fleet of the Covenant of Antarctica verses the mindless subjects of Queen Victoria.
My fleet consisted of a dreadnought, a fleet carrier, 2 battleships, 2 armoured cruisers, 6 cruisers, 6 escorts & 3 frigates plus free tiny flyers.
Jeremy’s fleet was made up of a dreadnought, a fleet carrier, a battleship, 3 cruisers, 3 gunships, 3 destroyers, 9 frigates, 6 corvettes, 2 bombers and free tiny flyers.
Now, Jezza didn’t have a board quite big enough but his dining table was a solid 8x3ft. So, to prevent our models being within range band 3 on turn one I devised a diagonal deployment zones starting 26 inches in on long edge going across to the corner of the narrow edge. This meant that at the furthest point there was a 36 inch gap to the opposite points of the enemy deployment zone.
The result was two fleets that looked for all intents and purposes like they were both advancing into an area in a staggered formation. It looked way cool. Chuck in a couple of the smaller islands from the Amera set and we were ready to rock. We rolled for missions. Jeremy rolled a 6 meaning he had to take out my dreadnought. I got a 5 which meant I had to wipe out at least half of his fleet.
I’d learned from past experience that the Covenant are at their best keeping them together with overlapping fields of fire and able to respond en masse to flanking actions. I kept the slower, biggest ships at the furthest point with the faster ships at the narrower end. Jeremy adopted a ship-of-the-line formation for each of his units, alternating support ships and Capitol ships so, for all intents and purposes, for every unit of big ships he could support it with up to two units of smaller ships. And as there was so many of them the sea was very full compared to my side of the board.
I won the initiative and kicked off with moving off my dreadnought. Moving at full speed I was able to close to range on Jeremy’s lead cruiser deployed opposite. Thanks to some truly prodigious dice rolling the cruiser was destroyed completely and sunk below the waves. As the fleets closed I found myself quickly beset on all sides by Jeremy’s support vessels forcing, me to concentrate my fire on those otherwise hampering my movement but leave me clear lines of sight to Jeremy’s cruisers.
Jeremy in turn concentrated fire on my starboard armoured cruiser, pummeling it mercilessly, inflicting 3 points of damage and causing chaos and disarray. It didn’t help that I forgot to roll for my shield generators. Fortunately a well time S.T.A.R card allowed me to repair the worst of the damage.
However, for all the hassle his corvettes and destroyers were causing me, it wasn’t nothing compared to what his frigates were doing to his own ships. In the middle of his lines they were obstructing his carrier and dreadnought, forcing him to move them out into the midranges making them vulnerable to my fire. He even managed to accidentally plough on into the side of a corvette taking a point of damage off both.
Bogged down as he slower ships were, his support ships were doing the bulk of the work and proving quite the irritation, forcing me to cut may way through rather than have them harass my flanks and rear with impunity as I closed with Jeremy’s main line. Of course, my fire-power was severely limited because everything I was targeting was small. It was that fact alone that kept them alive.
Meanwhile the skies above were alight with tracers and blossoms of fire as fighters did battle and Jeremy’s Doncaster bombers were ripped from the sky with a combination of ranged shots from my battleships and brutal strafing runs by my drones.
Torpedo volleys criss-crossed the churning seas but concussion charges prevented them from doing any real damage I took a second cruiser to two points of damage and took out the destroyers thanks to some awesome rolling using my frigates.
This was a tough lesson learned. Although the Covenant cruisers are awesome and come with free shield generators, support ships are important if for no other reason than to deal with their opposite numbers in the enemy fleet.
Turn three tipped things in my favour very quickly. I drew the Tally Ho! card allowing me to activate two units, one after the other. My battleships closed on Jezza’s dreadnought, unleashing their particle cannons and turrets inflicting two critical hits and causing navigation lock and a fusion leak. Now with Jeremy’s dreadnought’s critical rating reduced to only 7 I unleashed everything I had at it. My dreadnought and armoured cruisers closed unleashing a torrent of fire taking Jeremy’s up to 8 points of damage however the dice weren’t completely with me, just falling short of finishing the beast off.
On my port flank Jeremy’s gunships continued to plod towards me, skirting round the island on the heels of his corvettes who broke cover to harass my painted battleship and escorts inflicting minor damage. I responded, moving my port cruiser unit to intercept, destroying 2 of them and breaking the third. This left them poised to assist the battleship that would have otherwise been decimated by the approaching gunships.
His dreadnought closed and returned fire and despite the damage it had sustained it was still able to give my dreadnought a pounding, inflicting 3 points of damage and knocking off 3 assault points thanks to a hard pounding. However, it was at this point that Jeremy’s deployment properly bit him in the arse. He activated his remaining two cruisers and ended up sailing the damaged cruiser into his dreadnought. The cruiser was utterly crushed, however, thanks to the fusion leak and the best rolls Jeremy had made all game, the dreadnought, too was destroyed and consumed by the deep.
That fortuitous and hilarious turn of events gave me 290 points taking me to 80 odd points shy of my 50% target. Well aware that Jeremy would have almost certainly repaired that damage I knew exactly how lucky I was.
Winning the initiative on what would be the final turn I activated my dreadnought, ploughed it straight through a corvette and then promptly annihilated every support ship within range before finally inflicting 3 points of damage on Jeremy’s carrier and causing a navigation lock. This took me comfortably over my points target and won merge game.
By the end of the game I had wiped out Jeremy’s 2 cruisers, 2 bombers, his dreadnought and all but 4 of his support ships. In return I’d taken 7 points of damage across 5 ships. Between Jeremy’s deployment, a narrower than normal board and poor long ranged fire-power Jeremy struggled to gain the advantage. Although his support ships are lethal and even with concentrated fire I struggled to deal with them. His ship-of-the-line deployment saved me on more than one occasion as he wasn’t able to bring all his weapons to bear. And only by moving just within range band 1 was I saved from withering close range torpedo attacks.
I think we both learned some valuable lessons by the end of the game. I need to put more faith in support ships and Jeremy needs to not crash things into his dreadnought.