This battle took place as part of the Cleansing of Grex Silex campaign in 2015. It uses custom aircraft, factions and rules from the campaign that can be found in my Aeronautica Imperialis review here.
Overlord airships were being used by Galahand Geld to seek out and destroy Tau aligned enclaves within Silex Minoris. Of course, Envoy T'Wa'La demanded that the Tau sympathizers be protected prior to their evacuation. Therefore, Tau hunter groups were dispatched to locate and destroy any Overlord airships they could track down.
After experiencing engine trouble, the Overlord Airship Miyago turned back to base. A flight of Iron Eagles was dispatched to escort her home. However, before they could return to The Shallows, they were detected and attacked by a roving squadron from the Graceful Hunters.
Stragglers over Silex Minoris
1 Overlord Airship- Miyago
2 Iron Eagles
+Additional Weapon Load – Fusion Lances
The Graceful Hunters
3 Tau Barracudas
The Miyago was set-up in the center of the short board edge at Alt 5 and moving the max of 2. One Iron Eagle was providing close support at Alt 6 while one was wide to the side at alt 6.
The Tau were spread across the opposite board edge. The one on the edge was at the highest altitude and descended from there. The far one was all the way down to alt 2. They were coming in at full speed.
Everyone moves straight ahead unwilling to blink. The3 Iron Eagles slowly speed up, while the center Barracuda flies up to the same altitude as the Overlord.
None. Everyone is too far away.
The Miyago boldly powers forward, and rises up even higher. Being a zeppelin, this does not impact its speed. Its Iron Eagle escort flitters around it and tries to stay closest to the potential Tau attack path, but it is hard to tell as they are also all playing it catiously, matching heights and speed to make sure the Overlord doesn't get by. Meanwhile, Iron Eagle 2 flys wide and towards the long board edge. What is he doing?
Turn 2 and no one is in range! Madness!
The Tau used the gap between Iron Eagle 1 and 2 to try and slip between and get to the Miyago. However, Iron Eagle spiraled back but mistimed the move and failed to get the right angle. The Miyago herself slowly turned to present her formidable broadsides to the attacking Tau fighters. Barracuda 3 overcompensated for the move and opened a potential escape route for the Varingyr.
The port broadside on the Miyago opened fire and the Tau hunters suddenly weren't so confident. A Fusion Lance sliced across Barracuda 2's fuselage and caused him to blow smoke and leak fluid. Only the altitude difference saved him from the formidable blast of firepower.
Barracuda 1 was undetered and opened fire back. A Smart Missile struck home and the Overlord shook from the blast. 4 hits left!
Iron Eagle 1 spirals to try and tag any Barracudas that try to turn in on the Miyago. Meanwhile, Barracuda 1 blasts through the Overlord's wake and past on the other side. Iron Eagle 2 swings in to provide top cover on the airship, and Barracuda 2 can;t quite get the angle. Meanwhile, Barracuda 3 does a wing-over to cut off the airships escape, but it may have just put it into the starboard broadside arc or the bomber.
The Barracuda is too close for the Fusion lances, but it gets sprayed down with Mag-cannon tracers. However, the Tau pilot deftly negotiates the fire and avoids any serious damage. He viffs slightly and fires back. The Tau's fusillade strikes home as his Ion cannon strikes true and reduces the Overlord to 3 hits!
Iron Eagle 2 fires at the petulant Tau craft, but again the fancy flying of the Tau and the altitude difference allow him to avoid any serious damage.
Barracuda 2's Burst Cannons fire away at the nearby Iron Eagle 2, but fail to hit anything.
The Graceful Hunters quickly box in and pursue the Overlord. Their skill is clear as they easil outmaneuver and endanger the Varingyr escort gyrocopters.
Barracuda 3 takes aim at the lumbering airship and opens fire. A pair of Smart Missiles find their mark and blast into the Airship, it begins to smoke and list badly, but is still flying with one hit left! The damaged bomber returns fire, but its Mag-cannons only scratch the surface of the closely pursuing Barracuda.
From Barracuda 2 a Smart Missile damages the turbo-fan of Iron Eagle 2, but he is still in the fight.
The Overlord Airship drops like a rock and plunges down just above the edge of the Grex Sielx asteroid disc. Amazingly, Barracuda 1 and 2 had anticipated this move, but failed to dive fast enough. Iron Eagle 1 barely misses Barracuda 1 as they dive past each other. However, Iron Eagle 2 gets into a Tailing position on Barracuda 1.
Iron Eagle 2 unloads his Mag-cannons on the Tau fighter, but despite getting a solid hit, fails to cause any damage.
In return, Barracuda 1 peppers Iron Eagle 1 with burst cannons shells and despite 3 hits, fails to find a weak spot.
Tailing Fire: Iron Eagle 2 performs Tailing Fire at barracuda 1, but again fails to find the mark. Iron Eagle 2 fails his Advanced tailing check.
This time the Hunters overshoot their targets as they dive to try and engage them. The Miyago actual moves up a bit in an aggressive move to engage his foes.
The Miyago's forward mag-cannons spray Barracuda 1, but fail to cause any damage. Its port weapon's reach out to Barracuda 3, but fail to cause any real damage.
Iron Eagle 1 fires on barracuda 2 but fails to hit. Too eager.
Return fire from Burst Cannon drones fail to damage the Miyago Overlord.
The Tau scramble around to try and bracket off all possible escape routes for the heavily damaged Miyago. Meanwhile, the airship's escorts again find themselves out of position to help her.
The Overlord again battles valiantly to escape. Her forward mag-cannons hit Barrcuda 1 but fail to damage her. Her broadside Mag-cannons also fire on Barracuda 2, but fail to damage her despite 4 hits!
Barracuda 1 opens fire and despite the altitude difference blasts the Miyago into dust. The Overlord Airship explode spectacularly from Smart Missile and Ion cannon blasts. The Miyago goes down with all hands.
After 7 years of playing Aeronautica Imperialis I had never played this mission. I had read about how hard it was for the Straggler player to win, but I thought if I had a chance, it was with a 5 hits Overlord Airship! I guess not!
Once again, I learned that Mag-cannons suck eggs! Despite numerous hits, none of them stuck. The only damaging hit of the game was from a Fusion Lance, but the Tau stayed tight to their target, so I didn't get to use many more after the first one.
The Iron Eagles are pretty maneuverable, but even when they get in position they can't seem to finish off their target. I had equipped them with Fusion Lances for more hitting power, but I rarely got to use them as this battle was a knife fight. I guess I shouldn't bring a Lance to a knife fight.
The Overlord was throwing out firepower left, right and center, in a very real sense. However, despite all the dice it didn't seem to help this time. I was pretty aggressive with my bomber, so maybe I exposed it to more danger that it needed to be in. Maybe next time I will just flee and use my ability as a Zeppelin to constantly stay 1 or 2 altitude bands away from my attacker instead of trying to engage them. However, my wife was all over me and seemed to have most of the altitude bands covered at all times so I am not sure if I could avoid her long enough to make a difference.
In summary, I still haven't figured out how to be successful with these guys yet. Maybe I need them to operate in pairs better so I can put even more firepower on a single target? Any else have any ideas? Cheesy, if you happen to reads this I would love your insight from the Blood and Irongard campaign.