Monday, September 23, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis: Battle for the Depths- Operation: Hemlock

He wasn't exactly sure of his location, but he wasn't willing to move to surface depths to find out either. He knew he was off the coast of Baron's Rest, closing in on the Ork Green Zone. The only other thing he needed to know was that his boat had got a ping, and he was authorized to identify and sink. The PDF “Air Heads” hadn't been able to contain the threat of Ork submarines ferrying troops from the Green Zone to the rest of the Deff Islands. Vice-Admiral Travers had given a green light to the “Bubble Heads” of the submersible fleet to try and contain the threat.

Captain Huntzmann checked his pocket chrono and whispered the time to his XO. The XO confirmed and repeated it, and another officer dutifully noted the potential contact into the log. This was a trick business, as he knew he wasn't the only Imperial boat prowling around out here. His Augur Ops were positive it wasn't a friendly.

Silence was critical. The Captain had been a “Bubble Head” in the submersible arm of the Ammoriss Navy since the fleet only had a couple dozen boats. He was skeptical of how much noise his hull could cancel out, so he made sure his crew worked as quietly as possible. He gave the hand signal to his XO, who confirmed and repeated it. The Officer of the Watch nodded. With the turn of a key, red combat lighting replaced the artificial white light lumins.

With that, the crew knew that the game was afoot. There were other subs out there, and it was their job to find and sink them, or get sunk themselves.

I made the rules for AquanauticaImperialis: Battle for the Depths a long time ago. However, I only got to try them once or twice. I figured with Operation:Hemlock it would be a good time to try them out a bit more.

This game is to help recreate submarine battles in the Warhammer 40K universe. Therefore, detection and firing solutions are critical in this game. As the commander you need to off set speed, action, and detection vs. offensive capabilities. It can be a challenging mix to get right.

Ammoriss Naval PDF
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 421: Deep Shark” LD7
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 356: Northern Trident” LD7
1 Hunter Type- L with HK Torpedo- “ANS 1447: Saint's Shield” LD7

50 Points

Skarbashz Submerzibles
1 Grot Sub- “Rust Bucket” LD5
1 Grot Sub-“Grot Sink” LD6
1 Sneaky Git- “Gobstuk” LD8

55 Points

These are represented by paper templates, as I figured by the time I sculpted and painted up appropriate models.... well the game might never get played then.  

This is a straight forward mission called: The Hunt. Both sides place their subs at any depth and speed within 4 inches of their own board edge. The Imperials are the attackers in this scenario. This is a victory point engagement so destroying enemy forces and limiting your own losses is key.

This time, we decided to use a 4x4 board. We placed some shallow water on the board as terrain, but the board is mostly open. Shallow water blocks movement and LOS below the depth of the water, we got depth 5 and 2 respectively. To go over Depth 2 Shallow water you need to be at Depth 2 or better.

We need to figure out how the game is played before we get too crazy.

The Orks set-up on one side, with the Sneaky Git anchoring the left flank at depth 4 and full speed 6. The Rust Bucket is nearby at depth 4 and speed 6, and the Grot Sink is on the right at depth 4 and speed 6. They are coming in fast!

The Naval PDF have the Type L in the center at depth 4 and speed 4. On the right flank is Northern Trident at depth 7 speed 3, and Deep Shark at Depth 3 speed 3.

Turn 1:
Initiative: You build an order of activation by rolling a d6 and adding the LD of the vessel. Ties are rolled off and the winner is placed above the loser in the order. Lower ranked vessels activate first.

Rust Bucket goes first with the lowest initiative. He moves forward at speed 6 and pivots 45 degress at the end of his move, staying at depth 4.

Grot Sink moves next. Grot Sink gains speed by going up to depth 3 and is now at speed 7.

Deep Shark is up next. He speeds up to 4 and turns towards the shallow water in front of him. He is at a high enough depths to go over it.

Northern Trident applies screw and heads for deep water at depth 7.

Saint's Shield goes down a depth, but uses some screw to stay at her current speed. She is making for the deep water between the shallows.

Gobstruk goes straight at the shallow water and Deep Shark.

No one has the range to try for any type of detections or shooting.

No actions.

Turn 2:
Initiative: The order of Actions is determined.

Rust Bucket makes for the deep water in the center of the table. However, they are too far away for a Torpedo shot at Saint's Shield.

Saint's Shield increases her Screw to 6, maneuvers towards Rust Bucket, and then dives 2 levels during her movement. All of this fancy maneuvers makes her -3 to Stealth and much easier to detect.

Grot Sink goes next and heads for Saint's Shield, but can not match the dive. There is a question of range too. However, it is not relevant due to Depth differences.

Northern Trident moves from the deep water and towards Grot Sink. The active augurs on the Northern Trident reach out, but she is unable to lock on the Grot Sink.

Deep Shark does not like facing down the big Ork sub alone, and dives 2 levels to get out of LOS behind the shallow water.

Gobstruk pivots and moves above the shallow water and tries to target the Northern Trident. The rapid ascent of the enemy sub makes her easier to detect. The Ork sonar operators gibber excited coordinates to the runtherdz in the torpedo bay, who punch them into the torpedo as the Grotz lift the machines into the tubes. The Kaptin has the tubes flooded, and launches them as soon as the runtherdz buzz him the green light to fire. However, the Torps go wide of the mark.

Turn 3
Initiative: The Order of activation is created.

Deep Shark feels safe from the Sneaky Git, but is hungry to do some damage to the Ork forces. However, she tries to slow down and go sneaky to get a shot at the approaching enemy subs.

Grot Sink recognizes the danger of having three enemy subs in the area, and blows some ballast to head for the surface. This speeds her up considerably. However, the process is VERY noisy.

Rust Bucket feels a bit safer, and tries to go under her friend and get a shot at Northern Trident to keep the Oomie sub from getting a chance to attack. However, the Grot Krew fails to get a good sonar lock to fire. They know the Oomie is out there, but they are not exactly sure where.

The Captain of the Northern Trident heard the sonar pings near his boat, and the distinctive sound of torpedoes in the water. He decides to slow his boat and dive deeper into cover to try and build his boats stealth.

Saint's Shield knows the Rust Bucket is in front of her and above. She slows her screw and slowly climbs to a better firing depth. However, the Grot Subs are sneaky and she fails to get a lock to fire.

Gobstuk heads over the shallow water and towards the enemy subs. However, her sonar can not detect any targets in range or depth to try and detect for a torpedo attack.


Turn 4
Initiative: The Order of activation is built.

Rust Bucket continues trying to locate and attack the Northern Trident in front of her, and goes down deeper looking for her prey. However, Grot subs have terrible sonar and crews so fail to find anything.

The Grot Sink continues racing by at shallow depth and high speed.

Saint's Shield goes next. She slows even further to avoid overshooting her prey, and reduces her screw speed. She could try an Augur Spike, that would put her in danger from being detected by the larger Ork sub, but Grot Subs are sneaky and hard to find. Without the Augur Spike, she fails to find the Grot Sub to fire on.

The Northern Trident speeds up and tries to get out of the kill zone the Orks were trying to set up on him.

The Gobstuk moves across the shallow water and turns into the main action, looking for targets of opportunity. Thankfully, the Saint's Shield was moving slowly, quietly, and carefully and barely avoids detection from the big Ork sub.

Deep Shark rises up in depth and detects the Ork Sneaky Git is nearby with her passive augurs. Her passive augurs are enough to fire, and the captain orders a Full Spread. The closeness of the target means the torpedos may hit it and not detonate. The torpedoes streak out, and as the Captain feared they bounce harmlessly off the Ork subz armor and motor wildly off into the depths.

Turn 5
Initiative: Build out the Activation Order.

Rust Bucket tries to slow down and begins to try to circle back into the fray.

Grot Sink moves up slowly, and this time the Runtherd Kaptin orders an Augur Spike to find the Deep Shark and attack it. She detects the Oomie sub and fires a snap torpedo. The torpedo just misses the Oomie boat by a fraction as everyone onboard the Deep Shark breathes a sigh of relief.

With the Grot Sink announcing her presence with the Sonar Spike, the Deep Shark's gunners quickly trace the firing solution back to the Grot Sink. The Captain again has a full spread loaded and fires as they drop to avoid a potential collision. The Ammoriss PDF's torpedo finds its mark and detonate the Grot Sink, killing all on board. First blood tot he Ammoriss Naval PDF!

The Gobstuk moves just above the duel between the Grot Sink and the Deep Shark. The Kaptin orders an Augur Spike and the Sneaky Git detects the Saint's Shield. A barrage of Ork torpedoes lash out of the Sneaky Git, but they swoop around the Saint's Shield and fail to detonate due to the depth differences.

The Northern Trident goes up one in Depth and the Augur operators get a lock on the Gobstuk after their Sonar ping. They send a stern torpedo at the ork sub, but miss the mark.

The Saint's Shield turns into the Gobstuk and goes straight for it. The Captain orders a full spread of Hunter Killer Torpedoes to be loaded. Once the firing solution was calculated, the sub let fly. Two HK Torpedoes strike home and blast gauges intot he huge enemy sub. However, the Orks quickly seal off the breaches and continue fighting. The Saint's Shield also releases a brace mines behind it int eh crowded waterway.

The Grot Sink sinks to Depth 6.

Mines drift.

Turn 6:
Initiative: The order of Activation is built

Rust Busket's Kaptin tries to do Evasive Maneuvers to get back intot he action but fails. He stays shallow and tries to get back into the fight.

The Northern Trident

The Saint's Shield fires it's last batch of mines and turns away from the oncoming Ork Sub. She dives to Depth 5 and goes between the Sneaky Git and the sinking Grot Sink.

The Deep Shark starts to go beneath the Gobstruk. Slowly and steadily.

The Gobstruk dives quickly to get below the Mines in front of it. She threads the needle int eh crowded space. However, her sharp dive and damage makes her very noisy and easy to detect. She tries to use Passive sensors to find the Deep Shark behind her, but can;t get a bead on her location.

Grot Sink goes to depth 7.

The sinking sub and mines drift.

Turn 7
Initiative: Build the Order of actions.

Rust Bucket dives, slows and turns. Still not going to be a factor this turn.

Gobstruk goes below the mines. She uses a active Sonar Ping to try and find the deep Shark, but the slow moving sub is too stealthy and goes undetected.

Deep Shark slowly begins to turn in and follow the very noisy Gobstruk, to try and get a kill shot on her. The Ork sub is easily detected, but the torpedo room does not have time to load a full spread. Deep Shark fires, but the torpedo fails to connect with the target.

Saint's Shield moves away from the big ork sub to gain distance.

Northern Trident easily turns back in by discarding stealth to try and get the kill shot. She easily detects the Gobstruk but her rapid movement did not give time to prepare a full psread. Instead, she locks and snap fires. One finds its mark and reduces the Gobstruk a further 1 hull to 3. She is at half hull.

The Grot Sink is crushed by the growing ocean pressure and destroyed.

The Mines drift apart from each other.

Turn 8:
Initiative: The order of activations is assembled.

The Deep Shark stays in the sweet spot and unloads a full spread of torpedoes into the Gobstruk, reducing her another Hull point, to 2 left. The Deep Shark is out of forward ammo.

The Northern Trident closes in like a shark to a feeding frenzy and unlaods a full spread, but none find their mark.

The Gobstruk turns away from her pursuers, and uses a Sonar Ping to lock onto the Northern trident. A pair of rear torpedoes streak out, but fail to connect.

Rust Bucket and Saint's Shield try to maneuver back into a relevant position.

Mines drift.

Turn 9:- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Built the activation order

Rust Bucket comes about and tries an active sonar ping to locate the Northern trident but fails to go active. However, the passive sonar is enough as the Northern Trident has been recklessly moving in pursuit. The Grot's fire torpedoes and a dud hits the hull of the PDF sub but fails to detonate.

Saint's Shield begins heading back to base.

Deep Shark, out of ammo decides to head for safer waters.

The Northern trident continues it's reckless pursuit and opens fire on the Ork sub. A full spread of torpedo again fails to finish off the enemy sub, but empties the Northern Trident's ammo stores.

The Gobstruk continues to limp away. An active Sonar Ping Ids the Northern Trident, but the stern torpedoes fail to find the enemy sub again.

Mines drift.

Captain Huntzman signaled the XO to discontinue pursuit. The Ork sub, the big one; was still functioning but there was no way it was going to make it to Baron's Rest. The surface patrols would be able to hear it coming from a few miles away and hit it with Depth Charges. If he was the skipped, he would turn back and head for home port.

With another hand signal, the combat lighting returned to normal. The Saint's Shield was clear of the combat zone. He ordered the XO to Vox depth, and went to the Vox room to report in the NavComm North. Where the “Airheads” had failed, the “bubbleheads” had succeeded.

Well, the Orks lost this battle pretty handily. They took 5 Hull loss and inflicted 0 Hull loss in return. They had a chance to sink some torpedoes home, but couldn't connect. Meanwhile, the PDF were able to swarm the Sneaky Git was damage made it hard for it to hide, but the robust nature of its Hull let it stay in the battle for a long time. The Grot Subs were hard to detect, but also not that effective themselves, low firepower and endurance; but at a low cost. The Hunters and Type-L did there job. However, the HK Torpedo re-roll was worth it but it would have been better on a regular Hunter rather than the Type- L. The Mines were more of an area denial weapon than an offensive weapon.

The game itself you ask? It worked as intended, BUT.... the game has a very low letahlity due to a combination of factors.

  1. The challenge of getting the correct firing position of angle and depth
  2. Then detecting the target sub
  3. Getting a hit was 5+ or 6+ based on depth differences
  4. Then rolling to damage

That made it hard to sink a shot home.

In addition, sometimes the rules were counter-intuitive in a challenging way. i.e. was it better to go slow and improve your Stealth or to go faster to close the distance. There were a lot of decision points, and the first decision was if you wanted to avoid battle or to try and embrace it? It would be easy to simply play a game of keep away, but you still had to maneuver in a way to try and strike a killing shot of your own. Overall, an interesting game to play.

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  1. I guess that you could set a time limit to force the players in to combat. Maybe the subs are running low on fuel/air and so they only have a few turns to land some hits?

    1. Yes, the game does have an automatic disengagement turn at turn 12 I think. Therefore, you have to manage to hurt them more than they hurt you by then. Plus, most of the scenarios have a better defined "win condition" than The Hunt scenario. Things like deploying mines in a certain area, get units transported to a certain place, etc.