Monday, May 9, 2022

Castles in the Sky: The Indo-China Campaign Part II - French vs British


Welcome back to the Indo-China campaign for Castles in the Sky from Osprey Games.  The last battle the French tried a raid on British Siam at night.  The raid did not go as planned, and the French command ship took a beating.  They were forced to withdraw and the British took a 2-0 lead in the campaign.  

After the French Cuchinchina was seriously damaged, it managed to limp its way to safety in Saigon.  The French authorities there promptly began to repair the damaged airship.  However, Commodore Duckworth the commander of the Royal Navy of Siam, decided to try and thwart the French efforts to repair the ship by blockading Saigon from receiving shipments of parts needed to repair the Cuchinchina.  

French Commodore Aubre knew that losing the Cuchinchina would tip the balance of power to the British.  Therefore, he needed to break the blockade and prove that it was an ineffective strategy.  This would put diplomatic pressure on Duckworth to lift the blockade and allow the French armored cruiser the parts it would need to be repaired.  

The British as the blockaders (defenders) are allowed 25 Operational Value from their fleet, but can not have a single battleship.  Meanwhile, the French will be the Attackers with 20 Operational value and no battleships.  The Camot is on station near Tourane (Da Nang).


Royal Navy (of Siam)

HMS Malaya- Commodore Duckworth- Command 2
Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship

HMS Achilles- Captain Durham- Command 4
Warrior Class Cruiser

HMS Medusa- Captain Butler- Command 2
Active Class Light Cruiser

HMS Corsair- Commander Montgomery- Command 4
Bull Finch Class Destroyer- Torpedo   

This gives the British 23 Operational Value

L'aire National

Tourane- Captain de Genouilily- Command 2
Descartes Class Cruiser

Tonkin- Captain de Vence- Command 2
D'Iberville Class Cruiser

Hue- Captain Senez- Command 2
D'Iberville Class Cruiser

Fantassin- Captain Valjean  - Command 4
Chasseur Class Destroyer- Torpedo  

Rapier- Captain Sault  - Command 3
Chasseur Class Destroyer- Torpedo

The French have 18 Operational Value.

For today's Raid, we will be playing on a 48MU by 48MU board.  We determined terrain randomly using the chart in the rulebook: 

Grid 1 = No terrain
Grid 2 = Alt 3 mountain
Grid 3 = Alt 3 Mountain
Grid 4 = No terrain

We also rolled for complications and got.... cloud cover which is at Altitude 3 for this game.  Rather low! 

The British deployed closer to their  right side of the board, and were set to go diagonal across the board.  The HMS Malaya led the way at altitude 4 and speed 4, with the HMS Medusa nearby at altitude 5, speed 4.  Behind them was the HMS Achilles at Altitude 5 and speed 4, paired up with the HMS Corsair at Altitude 6 and Speed 4.  This formation would put them in the center by mid-game and give them good protection against air torpedoes.  The formation is starting to look familiar!   

The French set-up with their Destroyers heading straight for the British ships at Altitude 3, so in the clouds and speed 6.  The rest were in the center of the board in line a stern, with the Tourane leading the way.  They are at altitude 4 and speed 6. 

Turn 1: 
Initiative: The French win with 2 Commands to 2.  However, they have a higher Command Dice so win turn 1.  They decide to go first.  

The Tourane moves forward and speeds up to 7.  Meanwhile, the HMS Malaya tries to go All Ahead Full, but fails.  She stills speeds up 1 from her air screw. 

The Tonkin speeds up to 7 too.  The Achilles makes a come to New Heading command successfully.  She speeds up and bleeds altitude to gain more speed.   

The Hue also speeds up to 7.  The Medusa tries to stay with her charge. 

The French Destroyers do not pick up speed.  Meanwhile, the Corsair speeds up to 6 and turns to escort the Achilles.

None.  No one has the range yet.  

Turn 2: 
 The French win again, 3 to 1.  They elect to continue to move first.  

The Tourane shies away from the oncoming British battleship, she decides to blow smoke.  Meanwhile, the Achilles tries to Come to a New Heading, but fails.  They narrowly avoid the mountainside.  

The Two French Destroyers crest the cloud line, to advance on the Achilles, their torpedo tubes open.  Meanwhile, HMS Corsair races towards them, eager to engage.  

The HMS Malaya, tacks to try and cut off the French as she gains speed. The Medusa stays with her, while the two French cruisers follow their command ship.  The Hue is closer tot eh HMS Malay and blows smoke.  

The French Destroyers and the HMS Achilles trade torpedo and battery fire.  The Corsair also jumps into the exchange.  The French destroyers both take a hit, and a single friction.  Meanwhile, the British Achilles also takes a hit and 5 Friction.  

The HMS Malaya fires, but misses thanks to the range, class difference, and  smoke reducing her firepower.  

The Achilles takes Bridge Damage in the exchange. 
Fantassin loses armor
Rapier has her screw fouled.  She loses 2 speed. 

However, Repair crews quickly get the special damage resolved on each ship.  

The board has7 Friction, and which the two commanders easily remove.  

Turn 3: 
The British win 2 Commands to 1, and decide to go first.  

The HMS Malay moves to intercept the French Blockade Runners.  The Tourane moves to try to cut across her path, and blow smoke.  However, the critical command is failed! 

The HMS Corsair turns erratically and tried to bleed speed  to avoid over-shooting her targets.  However, the effort seems in vain, as the slower moving Rapier manages to speed up and dive into the cover of the cloud bank.  

The HMS Achilles aggressively dives down into the cloud bank as well, trying to get a good set of shots off at her prey before they blow past her.  The Fantassin also steers erratically as she dives into the cloud cover and pours on the speed.  

The HMS Medusa stays with her command ship as an escort.  The French torpedo cruisers suddenly break away from the Tourane and angle for the broadside of the Malaya, perhaps hoping to sneak behind her, they dive into the clouds.   

Despite the cloud cover, the Achilles is close enough to see the two French Destroyers.  The commander makes a Fire for Effect command, and the batteries come to life.  The cloud bank is lit up, and the Fantassin is peppered with light battery shells, causing 4 Friction.  The Rapier is hit with the forward Medium battery and takes 1 friction and 1 hit.  

The Tourane fires a broadside at the HMS Malaya, and causes 1 friction.  Enough to reduce incoming fire, the French hope.  The HMS Malaya returns fire, and the Tourane is lucky to sail away with only two friction! The Hue is also in short range, so the HMS Malaya's rear battery fires on her. Along with fire from the light batteries, the Hue takes 4 friction and 1 hit.  

The Fantassin takes a potshot at the passing Corsair at short range, but misses and jams her forward gun.  The Corsair declines to return fire and reloads her torpedo tubes.  The Rapier's main gun also jams after firing on the Corsair.  

The Tonkin desperately fires her light batteries and torpedoes at the HMS Malaya.  The Point Defenses of the battleship and her escort take out 2.  When it is over, the HMS Malaya has 7 Friction on her.

The Hue loses 1 armor. 
The Rapier explodes from the Achilles shelling!  

The Fantassin manages to repair her forward gun.  
There is 17 Friction markers on the board. The British remove 6 from the Malaya, leaving 1.  The French remove them from the Fantassin and the Hue, leaving 2 on the Tourane.  

Turn 4
The French score 2 to 1, and elect to go first.  

The Fantassin continues to speed up and heads for safety in the cloud bank.  The HMS Corsair comes about to give chase, but can not see the French destroyer in the cloud cover.  

The Tourane moves forward, slowed by the friction.  The HMS Malaya makes a Come to a New Heading command, but can not due to the Friction on her.  She tries to turn to get the French into her broadsides, and dives into the cloud bank. However, this causes her to stall as she goes over the max speed!  

The Hue and the Tonkin break for the safety of the open sky while hiding in the cloud banks.  The Hue also reloads her torpedo tubes.  

The Medusa breaks from her partner ship and heads for the Tourane.  The Achilles tries to come to ne heading, but can no longer see its prey. 

The Tourane hits the Medusa for 1 Friction. The Medusa did 1 Friction in return. 

The board has only 5 Friction markers left.  They are all easily removed by the commanders. 

The Medusa also fired her stern battery on the Tonkin, but jammed the guns.   

The HMS Malaya drops to Altitude 2, and to Speed 6.  However, she does manage to re-start her engines.  

Turn 5: 
The British win with 2 commands to 1.  They opt to go first.  

The Achilles Comes to a New Heading and tried to race back into the fray.  

The Fantassin is almost off the board.  However, the HMS Corsair is right behind. However, maneuvering around the mountain means they lose the French ship in the clouds.  

The Tourane drops into the clouds and accelerates to maximum speed.  She is pursued by the Medusa. 

The HMS Malaya, slows her speed and slowly begins to turn about.  

The Tourane and the Medusa ineffectually exchange fire.  The French end up with 1 Friction to the Medusa's two.  

All 3 Friction markers are removed.  

Turn 6: Final Turn
British win 3 to 1, and go first.

The Achilles steams close to the mountain.  The Fantassin leaves the board. 

The HMS Corsair moves in on the Hue, but it also flees off the board. 

The HMS Malaya keeps slowing down and going straight.  The Tonkin escapes the blockade. 

The HMS Medusa gives chase, but the Tourane escapes through the clouds and off the board.  

The French successfully run the British blockade, but there is a large cost!  The Rapier and her skilled Captain were lost in the effort.  Technically, the French lost 8 armor, the British only losing 1 armor.  However, the French met their victory conditions. 

This leaves the British still ahead in the campaign, 2 points to 1.  The Achilles and the Fantassin easily repair the damage to their ships.  The Medusa is also able to repair her Stern Battery.  However the damage to the Hue is a bit more serious, and the crew is unable to repair it.     

Participants gain the following experience: 

Malaya- 5 + 2 = 7
Medusa- 2 + 1= 3
Achilles- 0 + 3 = 3
Corsair- 2 + 2 = 4

Tourane- 2 + 5 = 7
Tonkin- 2 + 5 = 7
Hue- 0 + 5 = 5
Fantassin- 0 + 5 = 5 

No ship earns enough experience to gain any advances.  

After the battle, no Strategic Assets change hands.  However, the Cuchinchina is still in Saigon going refits and repairs for another 2 turns.  Hue uses the Strategic Asset of Tourane to repair her 1 lost armor point.  The British decides to turn their three Assets into re-rolls next game, while the French use their last asset for a single re-roll.    
With French ships able to break the blockade, Commodore Duckworth lifted it voluntarily rather than exposing his ships to further embarrassment, wear, and fatigue.  The French Commodore Aubre was grateful to see a French merchant ship arrived in country with the parts to continue repairing the Cuchinchina.  Her armor and firepower would be needed when it came time to push back the British decisively.  Until that time, Commodore Aubre knew he had to play for time and avoid a final battle, and perhaps gain some reinforcements from the South Pacific squadrons.    

Meanwhile, Commodore Duckworth pushed to put the French on the ropes and aggressively ordered offensive activity to push the boundaries in the region.  The Foreign Office cautioned him on such measures, but Duckworth's blood was up and he wanted this business wrapped up before the Cuchinchina could be re-launched.      

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  1. Great write up - would not have thought the setting would be my cup of tea but reading your descriptions makes me want to give these rules a try - do keep 'em coming...