Monday, May 23, 2022

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


Welcome back to the Indo-China campaign for Castles in the Sky from Osprey Games.  In Part II, the British tried to unsuccessfully blockade the French to stop vital repair supplies getting to them.  However, the French were able to break out from the Blockade, but at the cost of one of their destroyers exploding.  The British are in the lead with 2 Campaign points to 1.  The first team to 7 will trigger the "Final Battle" scenario.   The British decided to switch their strategy to the Offense, while the French stay on the Defensive.  

Commodore Duckworth, of the Royal Navy; grew impatient with the French recalcitrance in the region.  He decided to step-up patrols and aggressively began to probe on the borders.  However, this caused increased wear-and-tear on his air ships.  This aggressive activity forced the British to cease operations and re-supply at the neck of the Kra Isthmus and rendezvous with Siam forces there.  

French Commodore Aubre was provided intelligence on this rendezvous by his spymasters.  Aubre decided to throw caution to the wind and take the chance to strike the British with strategic surprise.  The Commodore decided to lead this attack himself in the Camot.  With haste, the French airships slipped their moorings and made steam for the Kra Isthmus across the Gulf of Thailand.

We rolled up a Surprise Attack which is a battle scenario as opposed to a Raid!  That means we can bring out the Battleships to fight!  Both sides get to choose over 25 Operational Value but can not have more than 3 points separating their total fleet costs.  The entire remaining and deployable French fleet is only 24 Operational Value, so they will all sally.  

Despite the British being on the offensive, the scenario roll dictated them to be the defender.  The French will get the drop on them this time! 


Royal Navy of Siam

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

HMS Achilles- Captain Durham- Command 4
Warrior Class Cruiser

HMS Arrogant- Captain Knowles- Command 2
Arethusa Class Light Cruiser

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

HMS Hasty- Commander Rawley- Command 2
Bull Finch Class Destroyer- Sky Mines 

That is 27 Operational Value

L'Aire National

Camot- Commodore Aubre- Command 4
Charles Martel Class Heavy Cruiser (Battleship)   

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  

Tromblom- Commander Morice- Command 2 
Chasseur Class Destroyer - Sky Mines  

For the French Surprise Attack, we are using a 48MU by 72MU board.  We determined random terrain per the rulebook chart.  The French will be on the side with grid 1, 2, and 3, and the British will be on 4,5, and 6. 

1. Mountain (alt 3)
2. No impacting terrain
3. Hills (alt 1)
4. Hills (alt 1)
5. No impacting terrain
6. No impacting terrain

We rolled for complications, but none will be impacting our game today.  

The British have to deploy in a band between 6 and 12 MU away out from their board edge.  In addition, all of their airships start the game landed and need a successful Command Check to activate, and then take-off.  Oh boy!  They try to clump up in the middle for mutual protection, but far enough away to stay mobile.  The Medusa pairs with the Malayan, and the the Hasty pairs with the Achilles.  The Arrogant is on its own as a roving gunboat.    

The French come in with the Camot leading the attack.  They are deploying in echelon with the Camot at Altitude 4 and speed 5 on the French left, escorted by the Fantassin and Tromblom bracketing them at Altitude 3 and 5 respectively and speed 5.  Then the Tourane, Tonkin, and Hue trail along beside and to the left at escalating altitudes and speed 5.     

Turn 1:   
The French score 3 commands to 2 British commands.  They choose to go first.  

The Camot drops altitude to speed up, while the crew of the Achilles manage to power up and take-off!

The rest of the French power forward trying to get into range before the British can take-off and get to combat speeds.  

However, the British are successful at passing their command rolls, and begin to take-off.  This puts them all at speed 2, altitude 1.

Everyone is just out of range to open fire.  


Turn 2: 
Both sides score 1 individual command, but the French retain the initiative and decide to move and shoot first.  

The Camut begins a turn to try and cross the T of the HMS Malayan and avoid her broadside guns.  The Malayan makes a All Ahead Full order to double her ability to gain speed, and manages to thrash up towards the French altitude.    

The rest of the French drive forward to get the British into range.  The Destroyers maneuver to stay with the Camut and provide covering fire.  

The Camut checks the range, and decides to hold her fire to avoid a potential misfire due to the range.  The British do not hold back, with the Achilles and Malayan finding the range with their forward guns and hitting the Camut for two Friction.  The HMS Medusa also fires on the Tromblom and causes 1 Friction.  

The rest of the French fleet holds their fire.  

There are 3 Friction on the board, and the two Commanders easily get it cleared away.  
Turn 3: 
This time the British win initiative with 3 Commands to 1.  They opt to move and shoot first.  

The HMS Malayan thrashes up to Altitude 3, even with the Camut now.   

The French support cruisers continue forward to press their attack.  Meanwhile, the remaining British cruisers try to gain height and speed, mostly at Altitude 3.  

The French stay 1 band above them as the Camut and her escorts go up.  

The Achilles starts by firing on the Camut, but fails to find the mark.  However, the the cruiser passes an Ammo check to keep her main battery firing.  

The Camut fires for Effect on the Malayan, and manages to cause two Friction hits with her bow guns.  The British Battleship fires back and causes two Friction in return.  The French warship also fires her Air Torpedoes at the Achilles, but the combined Point Defenses of the Hasty and Achilles down them before they can hit the cruiser.    

A Torpedo barrage from the Fantassin leaves two friction on the Achilles, after her Point defense destroys 1, and a second pings loudly off the ship's armor.  

The Medusa hits the Tromblom for a point of Friction as the French close.  

The Arrogant's point defense gunners easily swat away a pair of Air Torpedoes from Tourane.    

There is 11 Friction on the board.  9 of which will be removed.  The British remove 6, and the French 3.  This is enough to clear for the French, and the British decide to leave 2 on the Arrogant.  

Turn 4: 
Both sides score only 1 command a piece, and the British maintain the initiative.  They decide to move and shoot first.  

Move: The HMS Malayan gains speed, and turn to port, hoping to catch the French Camot in a close range broadside, or at least force her to maneuver to avoid it.

The French Tourane, Hue, and Tonkin continue to close on the floundering Arrogant, who tries to gain some altitude, but is now at minimum speed.  

The Medusa stays with the Malayan for mutual support. Meanwhile, the Tromblom buzzes the Malayan and prepares to drop her sky mines.  

The Achilles and the Hasty continue to slowly climb, while the Camot shifts to cross the Achilles T at an altitude band above her.  The Fantassin stays with the Battleship for support.  

The HMS Malayan tries to make a Fire for Effect command, but fails to ready herself in time.  However, it was not needed as 5 of 6 dice hit.  Commodore Aubre quickly decides to use his last command to Prepare for Impact.  He successfully negates all the hits, but still has 5 Friction on his ship.  All commands have been used for this turn by both sides.  In addition, stern light battery fire failed to damage the Tromblom as the gun's ran out of ammo.   

The Tromblom drops 4 sky mines right on the Malayan.  However, the Point Defense gunners on the HMS Malayan and the HMS Medusa destroy them all with Point Defense fire.  Light battery fire from the Destroyer fails to even daze the Achilles in front of her.  

The Medusa fired on the Tourane, and landed two Friction.  Return fire from the Tourane caused two hits on the Arrogant, and two more Friction.  While the Medusa also took 2 Friction.  In addition, the Tourane's starboard medium battery jammed up due to rapid firing.    

The Achilles firs on the Camot with limited effectiveness from its forward battery. The shot causes 1 Friction.

The Tonkin fires a spread of Air Torpedoes at the Arrogant.  The British Point Defense miss the oncoming torpedoes, and three detonate against the ship.  One hits something vital beyond the armored belt.  

The Hasty fires on the Camot, causing one more friction from her light battery. The French warship is up to 7.  

The Hue fires a spread of torpedoes at the Arrogant, and the British PD gunners are ready this time, and take out two.  One more hits the ship, but fails to cause damage.  

The only ship left to fire is the Camot.  The Heavy and Medium batteries target the Achilles, while the light battery fires on the Hasty.  The Achilles takes 5 friction and the Hasty 1.  The Hasty takes 1 hit, and the Achilles takes 2.   

HMS Hasty has her screw fouled in addition to losing 1 armor. 
HMS Achilles loses two armor and has her rudder jammed.
HMS Arrogant loses three armor, starts on fire, and is crippled! 

The Arrogant starts to sink and loses 1 altitude and 1 speed. 

The HMS Arrogant strikes her colors, unable to continue the fight.  

Repair crews on the Arrogant manage to put out the fire, and the Achilles unjams her rudder.  The Malayan and the Tourane manage to unjam their batteries.  However, the HMS Hasty still has a fouled screw.  

The board has 29 Friction,  British can only remove 3, and French can only remove 5.  The British keep 11 on the Arrogant, 4 on the Malayan, and 5 on the Achilles.  The French keep 4 on the Camut. 

Turn 5: 
Both sides score 2 Commands, and the British keep the initiative.  They decide to move and shoot first.  

The HMS Hasty slowly tries to get past the French forces, in a position to launch her sky mines.        

The Tourane turns into the main British force, but at Altitude 5.  That is two above most of the stalling British forces. 

The HMS Medusa is given leave to break formation, and she dives and speeds up, coming back around on the Camut's Starboard stern.

The Malayan and Achilles both are stalled due to Friction, so can not move.  

The Tonkin and Hue reload and turns towards the Malayan.  However, they are at Altitude 5 and 6 respectively to the British 3.     

The Camot loses Altitude to keep from stalling and gain speed.

After her mine laying run, the Tromblom scurries to get back into formation with the Camot.  The Fantassin slows to stay with her charge.  

The HMS Hasty unloads her mine payload at the Camot.  The French Point Defenses were caught happing, and only tagged 1 of the mines.  Two others exploded against the battleship, but did not cause damage.  The last stayed floating looking for a target.  

 The Tonkin fires a spread of torpedoes at the HMS Malayan.  Her point defenses hit 2, but three more look like they are going to hit.  The Commodore calls to Prepare for Impact, but the crew does not respond in time.  Three hit the battleship, and one manages to buckle her armor!  The first time in the campaign!  

The HMS Malayan does manage to swivel her turrets and fire at the much higher Tourane.  One manages to hit the French ship despite the height, size and speed.  The Tourane has 3 Friction and 1 hit.  

A torpedo barrage from the Hue at the Malayan only causes 2 Friction.  Most of the torpedoes simply missed the battleship.  

The Medusa hit the Camot for 1 Friction from her main gun.  

The Camot opened fire with her Broadside on the Achilles and hit her for 5 more friction and 2 hits.  In addition, her light batteries hit the Hasty for 1 Friction.  

Return fire from the Achilles hit the Camot for one Friction with her forward guns.  

The HMS Malayan is crippled by the torpedo attack! 
HMS Achilles loses 2 more armor, and starts on Fire! 
Tourane loses 1 armor.

The Malayan, Arrogant, and Achilles all lose 1 altitude and speed.  

Commodore Duckworth in the HMS Malayan decides to strike his colors!

The Achilles crew quickly puts on the fire onboard the ship.  The HMS Hasty also fixes her fouled screw.  

There is 45 Friction on the board.  The British remove 9 and the French 13.  The French clear the Camut and reduce the Arrogant down to 7.  The British clear the Hasty, and Only leave two on the Achilles.  The Malayan has 11 and the Arrogant 7. 

Turn 6: 
The British score 2 commands to 1 and keep the initiative.  They decide to move and shoot first.

The HMS Achilles managed to restart her engines and crawl forward, but her speed was limited by the friction on her.  She could try to lose altitude to gain speed, but she was all ready dangerously low.  She stayed steady, inching forward.  

The Tourane stayed on her course, but dropped altitude.  Her overall Friction slowed her down, but she was going fast enough to avoid stalling. 

HMS Medusa went up two altitude and took two hard turns to move away from the Camot, hoping to potentially get back around to engage some of the French lighter ships.  

The Hue and Tonkin both dropped 1 altitude, but neither could reload their torpedoes this turn.  The French used all their commands to try.  They turned to head towards the HMS Medusa to intercept.  
HMS Hasty prepared her Sky Mines for a second launching, but sped up to try and partner with the HMS Medusa.  

The Camot had Sky Mines nearby, and the Point Defenses of her and the Fantassin made short work of them, but left some Friction on the French battleship.  She tried to speed up, but lumbered along too slow to even turn.

The Fantassin Destroyer tried to stay with the battleship, but started to inch ahead.  The Tromblom broke off from her charge and pursued the British Light Cruiser and Destroyer.  However, neither ship had their Mines or Torpedoes loaded.  

The HMS Medusa fires on the incoming Tonkin, and fails to Fire for Effect command check.  However, she still manages to drop 1 friction on the French ship.  The pair of D'iberville cruisers do not bother to return fire with their light batteries at the range.  

The Tourane is a bit too high to target the limping Achilles, so opts not to fire.  Instead, the Camot uses her stern turreted guns on the  damaged British cruiser. In her heavily damaged state, the big guns tear through the Achilles and cause two more damage to her. 

The HMS Achilles does have the French Battleship in her broadside, but her friction reduces her firepower further.  Her shells bounce off the battleships armored hide, causing 2 more friction on the French ship.

No one else has the proper altitude, range, or firepower to fire this turn.  

The HMS Achilles has her Screw fouled twice, which causes her to stall again.  Plus, she is down to 2 Armor Point left.     
The HMS Malayan, Arrogant, and Achilles all drop to Altitude 1, perilously close to sinking.  

This time, the Captain of the Achilles strikes his colors.  He needs to focus on rescuing his crew and trying to save his ship instead of fighting.   

There is technically 2 turn of play left, but the British have signal their intent to give up, and the French accept their terms.  Both sides turn their attention to recovering abandoning sailors, treating the wounded, and keeping their ships afloat.  The French, content with their efforts turn back away and return to their bases to refit, re-arm, and resupply; content with their prisoners and the damage they have inflicted.  

A decisive French victory as they lost 1 Armor and inflicted 11, with three British ships striking their colors.  A humiliating defeat for the Royal Navy of Siam.  This leaves the French in control of the Campaign at 4 points to 2.  No one has reached 7 yet, but the French are ahead by 2.  The Campaign continues!

Once the shooting stopped, the crews were able to set about trying to repair their ships.  The Tourane's crew was able to manage the damage on their vessel.  The HMS Malayan was able to repair her damage.  However, the crews made progress but he HMS Hasty limped back to port with 1 Armor loss, the Achilles with 4 armor lost, and the Arrogant with 1 armor loss.  Those would need some additional Strategic asset support to fix.  

Participants gain the following experience: 

Malaya- 7 + 2 = 9
Medusa- 3 + 1 = 4
Arrogant- 0 + 1 = 1
Achilles- 3 + 1 = 4
Hasty-  0 + 1 = 1

Camot- 0 + 8 = 8
Tourane- 7 + 4 = 11
Tonkin- 7 + 6 = 13
Hue- 5 + 2 = 7
Fantassin- 5 + 2 = 7
Tromblom- 0 + 2 = 2

The Tourane and the Tonkin both earn an Experience advance.  Tourane and Tonkin both earn the Drilled Crew skill which will help them Reload to clear jams and arm torpedoes.  That will be very helpful for these French cruisers.      

Unluckily for the British, the French have managed to neutralize the Kra Isthmus with this attack!  The British no longer have it as a strategic asset, and instead a French-backed revolutionary force has de-stabilized the region enough that the King of Siam can no longer depend on them to help supply the Navy.  This gives the French 4 assets to 2 now.   

With their limited Strategic Assets, the British send the HMS Achilles to the port of Laem Chabang for full repairs, but that will put the ship out of the fight for 3 turns.  In addition, the British use Phra Nakon to finish repairs on the HMS Arrogant.  On the French side, Saigon is still working on the Cuchinchina's repairs.  The French decide to send the Hue airship to Tourane in order to drill for extra Experience.  It will be out of the fight for 3 turns!  That may have been a mistake.  Finally, the last two assets are converted into re-rolls for next game.  

Commodore Duckworth blamed his decisive loss for the Battle of Kra Isthmus on the only captain not there taking part!  His telegraph to the ambassador of Siam blamed Commander Montgomery of the HMS Corsair for allowing the French to slip pass his picket and get the drop on the re-supplying British fleet.  He left out the important details that it was his patrol patterns and aggressive pace of operations that his force had to re-supply in theatre at all.  The report was received back in London with a raised eyebrow of skepticism, but antagonism between the Commodore and the Commander grew, as Commander Montgomery accused Duckworth of cowardice for striking his colors so quickly.

Meanwhile, Admiral Aubre was more than satisfied with the results of his operation.  He had managed to gain tactical surprise and it had paid off.  The British fleet had been unable to gain enough speed and altitude in time to successfully fend off his attack.  They were in a shambles, and he suspected they would need to request reinforcements from London to carry-on.  His old Battleship had proven more than a match for the newer British dreadnought style airship.  Despite his victory, the French commander was not ready to go on the full offensive yet.  His second most powerful ships was still being repaired after his first encounter with the British.  Caution and waiting for an opportunity to strike would be his watch word.  However, the Indochina Newspapers were hailing him as a hero, and that word had a nice ring to it.  

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  1. Didn't you have too many friction markers out? I thought it was 1 for 3 hits on gun attacks. I have pre-ordered the rules, so I'm sure it will be cleared up when they come.

    1. Well, the Opsrey version is the "newest" version and things have changed from previous versions. :)