Thursday, March 30, 2017

Castles in the Sky- Balkan Uprising Campaign- Patrol near Elli

Salonica has fallen, but the ground campaign has begun to turn into a grind.  The Turkish defense has been stiffening with each step the Balkan League troops take.  Ottoman forces have been coming across the Aegean to bolster the defenses, and the Balkan League must find a way to stop this flow of fresh troops. 

The Balkan League forces have a new admiral after the death of Admiral Senyavin at Salonica.  He was killed when his flagship the Poltova exploded during a short range gunnery duel with the Ottoman flagship.  The new Admiral Pavel Ivanov is not deterred by the drubbing his fleet took above Salonica and orders a fresh Offensive into the Aegean (Admiral Ivanov has a Command rating of 1?  Gulp!) .  Admiral Al Reis of the Ottoman League force is also confident after destroying so many Russian ships aligned with the Balkan League.  He also orders his forces back on the Offensive, despite failing to breakthrough at Salonica leading to the loss of the city. 

Both forces have begun to fan out across the Aegean.  The Balkan League is trying to capture and destroy troop ships, while the Ottoman League is trying to stop these attempts. 

Per the rules for Campaigns, both sides choose Offensive strategies.  Admiral Ivanov rolls up a Patrol mission where the Balkan League is the attacker.  This will be a 6 turn engagement with any classes of ship up to 25 Armor points. 


Balkan League
To ease pressure on Russian assets, Admiral Ivanov has ordered the allied ships to take a stronger role in these Aegean patrols. 

Brennus                                               Captain: Theo Aube                        Command: 4
Class: Charles Martel                      Category: Heavy Cruiser                               Armor: 8

Primauguet                                        Captain: Jean de Vienne                               Command: 4
Class: D’iberville                               Category: Cruiser                             Armor: 7

Georgios Averoff                             Captain:  Sofoklis Dousmanis                    Command: 3
Class: Vettor Pisani                          Category: Armored Cruiser                          Armor: 8

Total= 23 Armor Points

Ottoman League
Prince Eugen                                      Captain: Anton von Sterneck                      Command: 2
Class: Tegethoff                                 Category: Battleship                                       Armor: 9             

Bravo                                                    Captain:  Anton Pock                                      Command: 4
Class: Huszar                                      Category: Destroyer                                       Armor: 6

Volta                                                     Captain: Ludwig Brommy                              Command: 1
Class: Huszar                                      Category: Destroyer                                       Armor: 6

Total= 21 Armor Points

Looks like a rematch between the Prince Eugene and the Brennus from Salonica!

This battle takes place south of Thasos but north of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea.  The Balkan Fleet is attempting to locate any troop ships on route to the mainland, while the Ottoman League forces are attempting to locate and eliminate any Balkan League ships in the area. 

This battle will be a relatively straight forward affair with both sides trying to eliminate the other as they come across the enemy.  There are no complications and the battle will take place on a 4x4 table. The fleet with the most Armor points left after 6 turns is the winner.    

The Brennus is the Balkan Command ship, while the Prince Eugene is the Ottoman League flagship.  No ships are in squadron.       

The Austro-Hungarians are in the center of the table with the Prince Eugene leading the two destroyers.  They are all going speed 3 and at mid-altitudes.  The French are coming on from the North side at speed 5 and mid-altitudes as well.

Turn 1:
Initiative: The Balkan League wins with 3 successes to 2.  They decide to go first. 

The Primaugaut stays low, slows down and heads forward to use her air torpedoes.  The Brennus and the Georgios Averoff split towards opposite edges to try and get the Austrio-Hungrians into a kill zone between their broadsides. 

The two Austrian destroyers race forward and didge down to screen the Prince Eugene from the expected Torpedo barrage from the French cruiser.  I was unsure how to play this, should the Prince Eugene just try to take the barrage and have the Destroyers race off to attack a target or try to screen the bigger ship?  This time, I decided to try and screen and see what happens. 

The Georgios puts a burst on the Bravo, while the Brennus locks-on.  The gun batteries fire and hit the Bravo twice and cause another burst. 

The Primaugaut fires a brace of 6 forward air torpedoes at the Prince Eugene despite the Destroyers trying to screen her, they can not intercept the torpedoes.  The Prince Eugene’s point defense systems take out one, and three more slam into the ship’s armored belt and fail to cause damage.  Two other harmlessly miss and detonate. 

The Austro-Hungarian destroyers hold fire.  However, the Prince Eugene fires its main batteries at the Brennus and fail to hit due to burst and elevation differences.  Ammo is good.  They also fire a brace of 4 air torpedoes at the Brennus.  The French Point Defense takes out one, and the other three streak across the ship’s bow and miss. 

The Bravo takes two hits, and its screw is fouled! 

The Austro-Hungarians remove the Bursts from the Pirnce Eugene and the Balkan League removes it from the Brennus.

Turn 2:
Initiative: French earn 2 successes, and the Austrians earn 1.  The French decide to go second and see what the Austro-Hungarians have in mind. 

The Austro-Hungarian fleet began to wheel slowly to the west, the Volta leading the way.  The Volta decided to blow smoke, while the Prince Eugene re-loaded her ordinance.    

The Georgios Averoff slowed to stay in front of the Austro-Hungarian fleet and keep them in her broadside arc.  The Primaugaut dived to stay out of the way and reloaded ordinance, while the Brennus moved to engage the Prince Eugene in a Broadside duel. 

The Volta and Bravo both fired their light batteries at the Greek ship, but missed. 

The Prince Eugene fired her bow Air Torpedoes at the Primaugaut trying to get below the fleet.  Two are destroyed by point defense, one misses, and the last one bounces off the ship’s armor and explodes harmlessly. 

The Prince Eugene’s big batteries fire on the Brennus.  The French ship is shocked as the Austrians roll 9 hits!  The French captain hurriedly orders a Brace to try and save his ship from a pounding!  Say good-bye to that gunnery duel.  The Brennus makes 4 Brace saves!  Remarkably, only one hit manages to get past the Heavy Cruiser’s armor.

In reply, the Brennus returns fire but only inflicts 3 bursts as the shells bounce off the Prince Eugene’s armor.  The Georgios Averoff puts a single burst on the Volta. 

The hit in the Brennus only peels away some armored plate. 

The Balkan League removes the bursts off the Brennus and one from the Primaugaut.  The Austro-Hungarians remove the bursts from the Prince Eugene and the Volta. 

The bravo can not repair as she still has two bursts on her. 

Turn 3:
Initiative:  Balkan League 2 and Austrians 1.  The French decide to go first this time. 

The Balkan League continues their circling maneuver.  However, the Austro-Hungarians will have none of it.  The Destroyers stoke their boilers and rapidly speed-up to break through the Balkan League line.  The Prince Eugene decides to put up a smokescreen to help protect herself as she slowly builds up steam to escape. 

The Greeks are not eager to let the damaged Bravo go so easily so they lock-on and fire at the destroyer at short range.  Two more bursts and a hit on the Austrian Destroyer. 

The Brennus also locks-on and fires with her broadside at the Prince Eugene.  The Smokescreen provides little protection as the Heavy shells strike home.  However, at the range they are at, none of them find a weak spot on the Austro-Hungarian ship. 
The return fire from the shrouded Prince Eugene manages to put a burst on the Georgios and the Brennus.         
The Bravo loses another point of armor. 

After Burst removal, the Prince Eugene is the only ship with one left. 

The Bravo manages to repair her screw! 

Turn 4:
Initiative: Balkan League wins with 4 successes and the Austrians 1. 

The Brennus successfully Comes About in an attempt to pursue the fleeing Austrian Battleship.  The other Balkan League ships do the same.  However, the Austrians are content to flee the battle, the Destroyers look like they will escape next turn, with the Prince Eugene trudging along behind. 

None of the Balkan League ships have the range to damage the Prince Eugene, so are hold their fire to avoid Ammo checks. 

The Prince Eugene does not feel the same way, and fires on the Georgios Averoff with a broadside.  They even lock-on.  The Greeks Brace.  The result of the fire is two bursts and a hit! 

The Austrians shot managed to jam the rudder on the Greek armored Cruiser. 

All bursts are removed. 

Turn 5:
Initiative: Austrians win with 1 success and Balkan League have none! Austrians elect to move first. 

The Destroyers escape off the board.  The Captain of the Austrian Battleship is satisfied with the range and uses a Come to New Heading order to turn back into the fight!  Seeing this, the Balkan League fleet tries to stay out of the field of the guns with the Greek’s going up one altitude band and the Brennus going down one.  Perhaps the tables have turned? 

At long range, the Prince Eugene manages to put one more hit on the Brennus!  The French Heavy Cruiser takes the punishment and holds fire with her own guns, the range being too great to cause damage.

The Brennus loses another Armor Point. 

The Greeks repair their damaged Rudder. 

Turn 6: Final Turn
Initiative: French score 2, and the Austrians 0. French decide to go second. 

The Austrians are content to steam ahead.  The Brennus dives to go below the field of the Prince Eugene’s guns while the Georgios Averoff is content to scoot away.  The Primaugaut sneaks up behind the Prince Eugene for a torpedo attack using a Come About special order.    

The Prince Eugene fires at long range on the Greeks, but misses.  The ammo roll is passed. 

The captain of the Primaugaut lined up to fire his burst of torpedoes.  However, since the Primaugaut had to use a Come About order the torpedoes may not be fired this turn.    

No bursts need to be removed, and no one needs a repair roll. 

The battle forced the Turkish command to hesitate and begin to re-think their strategy in the Aegean.  Instead of sending their troopships across in loose groups, they instead decided to launch a coordinated attack on the island of Thasos.  They began to marshal their air and naval assets for the attack.  Meanwhile, the new Balkan Admiral was buoyed by the success of his offensive strategy and began to lay the groundwork for his next offensive.    

The Balkan League and the Ottoman League bash at each other above the Aegean.  Both sides lost 3 Armor Points, so the Balkan League scores a narrow win since they started with a couple more armor points.  It was up to the Austrians to land a few more decisive blows.  However, I was more concerned about getting out of the kill zone than causing damage. 

I am unsure if it was wise to move my Destroyers so aggressively the first turn.  If I hadn’t the Prince Eugene would have taken the brunt of the Balkan attack, and probably weathered it fine.  However, At Salonica I had seen how powerful the initial torpedo barrage had been and wanted to avoid that fate for the Prince Eugene.  In the end, it didn’t really matter and the Bravo took a pasting it may have been able to avoid with speed. 

In addition, I grabbed the two Austrian destroyers for my list hoping to have some torpedo snipers of my own, but was disappointed when I realized that the Huszar class is armed with Air Mines instead.  I didn’t really get a chance to use them this game.  The French D’iberville class cruiser’s air torpedoes were terrifying to me since I knew they could effectively snipe my larger battleship and not endanger herself to my guns.  I am lucky she couldn’t give me that parting barrage in the final turn.  I am very happy with how the Prince Eugene performed in the battle, doing the brunt of the work and shrugging off the heavy guns of the Brennus.
Campaign Stuff
The Ottoman League is still in the lead with 3 Campaign Points to 1.  This time, the Balkan League holds onto the point.  They have now won two of the last 3 battles, but barely. 

The crew of the Bravo manages to repair 1 armor point, bringing her to 4.  They then use two of 4 Strategic Assets to repair the rest back to 6 armor. 

The Brennus repairs 1 armor with crew, and 1 with a Strategic Asset back to full armor. 
The Georgios Averoff’s crew repairs her back to full armor.

The ottoman’s Bank their remaining Assets to give them a bank of 7, while the Balkan league has a bank of 1.

Bravo= +1 (5)
Volta= +1
Prince Eugene= +4 (8)

Brennus= +2 (4)
Primauguat= +2 (8)
Georgios Averoff= +5

No ships earn enough for an experience upgrade. 

The Balkan League’s successes on the ground maybe short lived as the Ottoman league’s success in the air is causing concern among the Balkan Command.  Admiral Al-Reis has begun to plan operation to fortify and secure the ottoman position on Thasos to allow the Ottoman troops a safe haven and assault point to the mainland.  Such a move would put the Balkan League’s latest gains in peril and secure the ottoman’s a chance to grow their reinforcements in Europe.    

In the meantime, Admiral Ivanov was pleased with the French efforts in the Aegean and has begun to plan his own operation towards the Dardenelles.  Captain Aube and his staff find such a maneuver to be fool-hardy, but the Russian Admiral will not be dissuaded so close to fulfilling Russian ambition in the region.  Only a few weeks into the Uprising, and the decisive battle still looms in the future.  

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