Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Double Dread Weekender - Sunday Dreadfleet

Sunday was a far more relaxed affair after the intense games we played on Saturday. Matt and I had played Dreadfleet a little before but Dave and Jamie were new to it. Thanks to a combination of starting late and needing to finish early than I expected, we only got one game in. We decided it'd be best to have full fleets on both sides.

We rolled to see who would have which and Jamie and I took the Dreadfleet. I would control the Curse of Zandri, the Black Kraken and the Skabrus whereas Jamie had the might Bloody Reaver and the Shadewraith. We played the first scenario with masses of scenery in the centre but nothing in the deployment areas. The game would end when either side only had a single warship remaining. Matt's miniatures aren't painted so I'm using pictures from the rest of the internet rather than ones from our actual game.

Battle Report
The goodies took the first turn and brought the Seadrake's guns to bear on the Skabrus. Luckily there was no real damage but they did manage to execute a Fire As She Bears order which works in a similar way to Overwatch in old school 40K. The Shadewraith used it's flying ability to get around the back of the Seadrake and unleashed a raking broadside that softened up the Seadrake. The Grand Alliance then brought the Swordfysh forward only to have it run aground. The Skabrus managed to position itself so that it could fire it's broadside before making a boarding action against the Seadrake. The combination of fire and boarding brought down the high elven ship and first blood was ours.

The Black Kraken submerged and positioned itself ready to strike either the Heldenhammer or Grimnir's Thunder. Elsewhere the Flaming Scimitar also ran aground and both Grimnir's Thunder and the Swordfysh would be close to it.

A combination of fire from the Curse of Zandri and the Bloody Reaver saw the end of the Swordfysh and the Dreadfleet was taking an early lead. The Heldenhammer had other ideas, using the wind to propel it forward and breakneck speed it lined up a punishing broadside which sank the already damaged Skabrus and then smashed into the Shadewraith with its hammer attack. Two wrecks in a single turn brought the battle back to a draw.

The Flaming Scimitar failed to Escape Jeopardy and stayed stuck on the rocks. The Bloody Reaver advanced and fired off its cannons in the direction of the stricken vessel punching holes through its sails and crippling its mobility. The Black Kraken emerged from the briny deep and tore into Grimnir's Thunder. Sadly some excellent work by the dwarven crew meant damage was inflicted on both vessels. The Scimitar's recently launched cog started a boarding action against the Kraken and with help from more fine swordwork from the dwarves the Kraken submerged never to return.

The Leechwyrm emerged next to the Heldenhammer but despite getting our only initiative of the game we forgot to take control of it with the Bloody Reaver meaning some emergency evasion saw the Heldenhammer get clear and kill off the sea monster with it's cannon. Further damage was inflicted on the Flaming Scimitar but it still held on despite being practically immobile. The Bone Hydra rose from the depths but the plucky dwarves saw it off without much damage being done.

The Heldenhammer again made the most of gale force winds and smashed into the side of the Bloody Reaver which was still raking the Flaming Scimitar with fire. An epic duel between Jaego Roth and Count Noctilus resulted in the Roth's demise. A combination of raking fire and swordwork eventually claimed the Heldenhammer which inflicted huge damage on the Bloody Reaver with it's hammer but just couldn't finish the mighty vessel.

This left both sides only needing to sink one more warship to claim victory. With the Scimitar and Thunder both behind cover and at range they'd be tough to sink but damage to both meant the Dreadfleet had the upper hand. The Curse launched it's cog to try to deal with the nearby Dwarf Dirigible but neither side could defeat the other. Fire from the Thunder caused a single hull damage on the Curse which tried to move off in it's subsequent turn to leave the Bloody Reaver to sink the Scimitar for victory. Unfortunately a badly planned change of direction meant it engaged the two cogs in combat. Remarkably those pesky dwarves managed to inflict a single damaging blow which caused double hull damage and sunk the Curse. The Grand Alliance was victorious in a very closely fought game.

Conclusion
Most of the work of the Grand Alliance was done by the Heldenhammer and Grimnir's Thunder. By killing two ships in a single turn the 'hammer really changed things and then boarding the Bloody Reaver certainly saved the Flaming Scimitar. In hindsight we should've kept the guns on the Scimitar and hoped we could defeat the Heldenhammer in combat.

Ultimately the Curse of Zandri was unlucky to be caught in a boarding action and even more unlucky to pull out the dreaded Double Hull card. The Bloody Reaver again proved it's resilience by surviving a ton of punishment but failed to actually sink anything!

So far I think Dreadfleet is a shaping up to be a good game with a simple rule set but tactical play. It's a shame that more people haven't taken to it. From this minimal amount of experience I think that the random element might be its undoing. Sometimes it feels like a ship takes tons of damage but won't sink and other times two shots are enough. Now I'm not saying this isn't totally unrealistic but random damage coupled with the Fate deck means that sometimes even though you've got the upper hand things can quickly go wrong. Perhaps this adds more balance to the game but when you're making the right choices only to lose out to bad luck it can be frustrating. Having said that it's the same in most wargames, sometimes your luck just fails you.

Nevertheless, Matt and I are determined to play through the entire campaign at some point and once I've painted my Dark Eldar for Blog Wars 3 (more on my progress soon), I'll try and get some of the ships painted up. We also need to play through the campaign for Space Hulk and try out some of the other scenarios in Horus Heresy so hopefully we'll get round to that soon!

3 comments:

  1. great report. i love this game, and just wish i had someone willing to play my copy!!

    however, i have to wonder if you guys are playing correctly. Either you are very lucky (or unlucky) or you are somehow doing the damage wrong, because sinking a ship in a single round is INCREDIBLY difficult, and seem to be doing it routinely in this battle.

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    1. I did condense things to make the battle report a bit more action packed but the Curse did die pretty quickly. A shot from the dirigible caused one hull damage and then the accidental boarding action made me draw a double hull. Very unlucky! Didn't help that I rolled so poorly though.

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    2. ah ok, that makes a lot more sense :) i have had it happen a few times but it is rare.

      incidentally, last time i played we left ships which had been reduced to 0 speed or crew damage to drift randomly using a scatter dice in successive turns until the ran aground or went off the table, or were destroyed. ships with 0 speed and +crew could still fight if boarded but couldn't shoot. it was great fun and i thoroughly recommend it.

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