Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Castles in the Sky- The Balkan Uprising- Raid at Novi Pazar

This is the first battle report in the Balkan Uprising campaign for Castles in the Sky.    

Per the campaign rules, the Ottoman Empire has chosen Defensive while the Balkan League chooses Offensive to start the campaign with.  The Balkan League will be the attackers in the Raid scenario after the scenario was determined per the campaign rules.  A raid scenario does not allow Battleships for the Attackers.  The Attackers get 25 Armor points, and Defenders get up to 50 armor points. 

The Balkan League has tasked Captain Rozhestvensky with the Oleg to lead the assault force to attack an Ottoman force led by Captain Hassan Rami Pasha in his Heavy Cruiser.  The Ottomans are moving their airships away from being in the pocket dividing Montenegro and Serbia.  With the outbreak of the Balkan Uprising the Balkan League allied force on the Raid sortied out from Montenegro to engage the Ottoman airships.

The Russian ships in the Balkan League managed to get the drop on the Ottoman Forces as Montenegro had only recently declared war and word had not been officially communicated to the Ottoman fleet.  Therefore the initial sighting of the Russian ships did not immediately raise the alert with the Ottoman fleet.  However, as the Russians moved closer Captain Hassan Rami Pasha became suspicious and ordered his crews to prepare.


·         Oleg                                                       Captain: Aleksey Rozhestvensky               Command: 2
Class: Bogatyr                                    Category: Cruiser                             Armor: 7

·         Rurik                                                      Captain: Nikolai Ushakov              Command: 1
Class: Azova                                       Category: Cruiser                             Armor: 7             

·         Kondor                                                 Captain: Nikolay Konovalov         Command: 3
Class: Krasnoye                                 Category: Gunboat                         Armor: 5

·         Sova                                                      Captain: Vladimir Greig                  Command: 1
Class: Krasnoye                                 Category: Gunboat                         Armor: 5

The Ottoman Forces- 27 Armor Points
·         Basra                                                     Captain: Hasan Rami Pasha                          Command: 2
Class: Barbarous Heyreddin                 Category: Heavy Cruiser                                               Armor: 8

·         Mecidiye                                             Captain: Medvid Reis                                     Command: 1
Class: Hamidiye                                         Category: Cruiser                                             Armor: 8

·         Trakya                                                   Captain:  Piri Pasha                                          Command: 2
Class: Midilli                                                Category: Light Cruiser                                  Armor: 7

·         Barbaros                                              Captain:  Murat Pasha                                    Command: 2
Class: Berk Efsan                                      Category: Torpedo Boat                                                Armor: 4

Based on the scenario, I chose to limit the Ottoman Alliance force to Ottoman only units and did not deploy the Battleship for the defenders.  This will limit the chance for Experience for the Defenders, but also reduce the number of ships that can be damaged.

This is a straight up battle where both sides are trying to cripple the other fleet.  It will last 6 turns, and then the attackers that are still able to will immediately disengage.  The force that has the highest remaining armor value at the end of the battle will win. 

This battle will take place in the air over an ottoman pocket of territory near Novi Bazar.  This is represented by a 6x4 table.  The brown hills are Altitude 1 while the grey hills are Altitude 2.  Airships at that altitude or lower will crash into these hills if they attempt to move over them.  The hills also block LOS at those altitudes.  There is no cloud cover. 

The Ottoman’s are moving at mid-speed at Altitude 3 and 4.  Their column is led by the Trakya, followed by the Basra, and then the Mecidiye.  The Barbarous is shadowing the column to the port side of the Basra. 

The Russians are in two columns approaching from the west.  They are the Kondor and the Oleg and then the Sova and Rurik.  They are at full steam and altitude 4.          

Turn 1
Initiative: Russians decide to go first

The Russians press forward at full steam of 6.  They stay in formation as they approach the Turkish column from the rear.  They are intending to try and get on both sides of an Ottoman ship and pummel it into scrap.     

The lighter Ottoman craft could outrun the Russian raiders, but the Basra would not be able to.  Hasan Rami Pasha decides to engage instead of abandoning the Basra to the chasing Russian cruisers.  The Basra slows, while the lighter craft begin a turn to the right.  His intention is to draw the Russians to his heaviest ship, and then catch one of the columns between the Basra and his lighter cruisers in a crossfire.   

None, the range is still too far.

Turn 2:
Initiative: Ottoman’s decide to let the Russians go first.

The Russians continue to move in on the Ottoman fleet.  The Ottoman’s continue their turn, and try to time it correctly for maximum effect. 

Both fleets hold their fire.  The range does not appear to be right…. Yet. 

Turn 3:
Initiative: Ottoman’s again let the Russians move first.

The Russian Krasnoye gunboats lose their nerve approaching the Basra’s big guns and break off the approach and head for the lighter Turkish elements.  The Russian cruisers stay on course for the Ottoman trailing ships, but it looks less likely they will get the situation they were hoping for. 

The Kondor wisely dropped altitude to avoid the Trakya and Mecidiye’s guns.  However, now she can’t get a good shot at them either, but her light batteries are likely no match for the bigger ship’s armor at long range. 

The Basra is able to get a long range set of shots at the Sova.  The big cannons in the stern boom out, but they fail to find their mark.  Worse, a failed ammo roll means that the shell loading mechanism has jammed!  The gun is out of operation. 

In the Repair phase, the ship’s engineers manage to unjam the loading mechanism and repair the stern guns for future action. 

Turn 4:
Initiative:  The Ottoman’s again let he Russians move first.

The Russian Gunboats try to set-up a battle line at Altitude 4, backed up by the approaching Rurik.  The Oleg is out of position and turns towards where the battle is developing. 

The Turkish torpedo boat tries to sneak around the front of the Russian fleet at high altitude.  The Trakya and Mecidiye move to engage the Russians in a duel at different altitudes.  The Basra moves up behind them.   

The Russian gunboats try to fire on the Ottoman light cruiser.  The Kondor’s light battery misses, and the gun turret mechanism jams up after a failed ammo check.  The Sova also misses.  The torpedo Boat goes on Brace orders after firing. 

The Rurik fires its bow torpedoes at the Trakya, and the Point defense gunners take one out.  However, the other torpedo streaks by overhead, and locks onto the Mecidiye instead.  The point defense gunners miss it, and it explodes along the armored belt of the ship for no damage.  Both Ottoman ships get a burst.  After firing the Rurik braces. 

The crew of the Trakya fail to lock-on and open fire at the Kondor.  Two shells hit the Russian gunboat, but it only loses 1 armor point.  A broadside from the Mecidiye also pings a shell of the Kondor’s armor.  The little Russian craft was probably saved by the bursts and the altitude differences. 

The Ottoman Barbaros torpedo boat launches a barrage at the Rurik, but the torpedoes have to go by the Kondor first.  The torpedo hits the gunboat, causing it to lose another point of armor, bringing it to 2 armor. 

The bursts are dissipated as both sides roll 3 for burst removal. 

Turn 5:
Initiative:  The Russians win, and decide to let the Ottoman’s go first.     

The Ottoman’s continue to turn into the oncoming Russian forces.  The Barbaros manages to reload ordinance but stays high above the fight.  The Trakya goes low and moves to cut under the Russian line, while the Mecidyie moves to cross it.  The Basra slowly speeds up and moves to follow her smaller cousins. 

The Kondor drops altitude and tries to move away from the battle.  Meanwhile, the Sova goes up and tries to chase down the Barbaros torpedo boat.  The Oleg and Rurik both try to slow and drop altitude to try to pin the Trakya between their broadsides.  They are still a bit high, but in range!

The only Ottoman shooting is from the Trakya.  She sees the Russian ships trying to bracket her, and responds with broadsides on each one.  The Rurik is hit 4 times, but the shots ping off her armor.  The Oleg is hit twice, but a lucky hit peels off a point of armor.  The crew then race to batten down the hatches and brace on the Trakya successfully. 

The Sova manages a starboard shot from her deck gun, and hits the Barbaros and peels off a point of armor from the Ottoman torpedo boat. 

The Oleg and Rurik open fire on the Trakya slightly below and between them with their full firepower.  After the barrage, only a sinlge shell managed to strike home.  The captain of the Oleg realizes that his current stock of shells are duds, after failing an ammo roll for all of his batteries!  He immediately sends his officers to re-assess the armory and get him working shells!  The bursts on each ship and the altitude difference saved the Ottoman ship from being pummeled. 

Damage is applied. 

The Ottoman’s remove bursts from the Barbaros and Trakya.  The Russians remove them from the Oleg, and also 1 from the Rurik.  She still has 3 on her.   

The Oleg manages to get new shells to their broadside and rear turrets, but not the bow turret.  The Kondor also unjams her turret with Repair rolls.    

Turn 5:
Initiative: Russians win and elect to go second again. 

Things are turning into a general melee and not a fleet action as each ship tries to gain position on the enemy.  The Barbaros kicks in the turbines and dashes away from her pursuers.  The Trakya and Mecidyie turn towards each other and level off at Altitude 4 to support each other from the attackers.  The Basra moves straight towards the starboard of the Mecidiye to try and pin the Rurik. 

The Russians respond with the gunboats moving up out of range of the Trakya and to safety.  The Rurik tries to slowly dive away from the Ottoman pursuers, but her crew is still shaken from the bursts and her speed is reduced.  The Oleg turns into the battle, eager to use her superior firepower on the Ottoman light cruiser. 

The Trakya and Mecidiye try to light up the Oleg but only land two bursts on her.  After their barrage, the Trakya braces, and the Mecidiye fails.

The Oleg manages to lock-on to the Mecidiye, and fires a broadside, along with the stern turret.  One shell manages to damage the Ottoman cruiser.  The Starboard broadside fires on the Traky and lands a burst on her. 

Damage is applied.

The Ottoman’s remove 3 bursts from their vessels, while the Russians remove 4, leaving the Rurik with 1. 

The Russians still can not find good shells for the Oleg’s forward turret. 

Turn 6:
Initiative: The Russians choose to go second. 

The Trakya turns towards the safety of the guns of the Basra, while the Mecidiye slows and turns to escort the larger ship as well.  The Basra moves closer and drops altitude.  The Barbaros turns back into the battle, but is far, far away.   

Seeing the Heavy Cruiser’s approach, the Oleg and Rurik turn away from the battle, but get the Trakya bracketed in their broadsides again.  The two gunboats also turn to away from the battle. 

The Mecidiye fails to lock-on to the Oleg, and opens fire with a full broadside.  The put two bursts on her.  The Trakya uses her rear turret and port broadside on the Russian ship.  Two shells strike home.

The front turret of the Trakya fires on the Rurik and scores two hits as well!  The Basra also fired a broadside at the Rurik, She managed to land three bursts on the Russian cruiser. 

The Russians return fire!  The Rurik lands two hits and two bursts on the Trakya.  The Oleg lands another two bursts on the light cruiser. 

Damage is applied.  The Oleg takes serious damage from her two hits.  The Oleg’s rudder is jammed and a nearby shell explosion blasts shrapnel into the command towe knocking Captain Rozhestvensky out! 

The Rurik also suffers serious damage!   This time the shells smash into something combustible and the entire Rurik Explodes in a fiery ball with a deafening roar and a blinding flash!  The Trakya and Basra are both rocked by the blast but come through unscathed!   

The Russians manage to remove all Bursts from the Oleg, and the Ottoman’s remove 1 from the Basra and 5 from the Trakya.  The light cruiser still has 2.  

The Oleg manages to repair its rudder, but the Captain and force commander is still out cold and the forward turret still has no shells.      

With the destruction of the Rurik, the Russian raiders break off the attack.  The Gunboats stoke their boilers are race away at full speed.  The Oleg dives to the hard deck and also stokes her boiler to maximum speed.  The Ottoman fleet is content to let them flee.  Captain Hassan Rami Pasha is eager to get his force out of the pocket between Montenegro and Serbia and back into safer territory.       
Campaign Results
The Russians lost 12 Armor, while the Ottomans lost 4.  That is a Massacre and the Ottoman’s earn 3 Campaign Points off the bat.  The first to 7 is the winner.  This could be a short campaign!  

The Oleg’s Command Check scores 2 successes so the Bridge is repaired, the Captain recovers, and one Armor point is restored back to 5.  The Kondor manages to fix 2 armor points with 2 command test successes. 

The Ottoman’s also try to repair their vessels.  The Trakya repairs 1 Armor Point back to 6.  The Mecidiye repairs itself 1 back to 7.  Finally, the Barbaros repairs 1 armor point and back to 4. 

The Balkan League uses 2 Strategic Assets to bring the Oleg back to 7 Armor.  The other 2 Assets are banks for reinforcements later.  The Ottoman’s use 1 asset to bring the Trakya back to 7 armor points, and bank the other 3 for later use as reinforcements.    

Oleg- +2
Kondor- +1
Savos- +2

Basra- +2
Trakya- +7
Mecidiye - +3
Barbaros- +3
The Ottoman’s manage to steal a Strategic Asset from the Balkan League.

The Balkan Alliance Naval command is horrified to hear of the loss of the Rurik.  Captain Theo Aube of the French contingent strongly criticizes Captain Rozhestvensky’s conduct of the raid.  However, word of the captain’s injury in the battle quickly silences the criticism.  In addition, word of the Montenegro and Serbian ground forces victories allows the Balkan Command to overlook the naval setbacks.  However, the armies advance was slowed by bombardment from enemy airships as they approached Salonica.    

The Basra manages to rendezvous with the rest of the Ottoman air fleet gathering near Dardenelles.  Admiral Seydi Al Reis was enthused to hear of the Rurik’s destruction.  However, his primary concern was going to be defending troop movements into the European theatre by the Turkish army.  However, the Austrian and token Italian vessels had managed to link up with the Ottoman forces.  This gave them the firepower to help thwart the Balkan League’s attacks towards Salonica and to hold it from them.            

Final Thoughts
A second play through for the Raid scenario and another defeat for the Attacker.  I think I played this one on too big of a table at 6x4.  On a 4x4 the actual fighting would have gotten started earlier.  That would have left the Ottoman’s less time to react.  However, the Russian fleet is a bit slow and this also hampered their efforts.  The only ship in the Ottoman fleet that could not simply out run the Russians was the Basra. 

That being said, the Russians had some terrible luck.  The Trakya was the ship of the game as it simple smashed the Russian fleet with its medium batteries over and over again.  Meanwhile, the Russians had some good chances and set-up the right tactical scenarios, but couldn’t land the telling blows.  Such is warfare.

Things look tough for the Balkan League now as the Ottoman’s lead this campaign to 7 at 3 points to 0.     


  1. Great battle report - it has me itching to dig out my nefs (which DID all get painted at Christmas...)

  2. Nice simple and effective terrain, too!

  3. WELCOME! Thanks for the kind comments.

    I am a big believer in "Budget Gaming" and hope to devote some posts to it in the future.