Monday, June 20, 2022

Battle Report: Castles in the Sky- A Pseudo-War II - French vs American


I went down to Gestalt Studios in Powell, WY to face off against my friends Americans one more time with my French fleet. 

French airships had been on maneuvers off the coast of South America with the permission of the local government.  However, the United States saw the region as their sphere of interests, and invoked the Monroe Doctrine as a pre-text for interrupting the French maneuvers.  Things quickly escalated.


I brought the French.

L'Aire National
Bouvet- Charles Martel class Battleship- Command 3
Gloire- Gloire class Armored Cruiser- Command 3
Cassini- D'Iberville class Cruiser- Command 4
Voltaire- Descartes class Cruiser - Command 
Epee- Chasseur class Destroyer - Air Torpedoes- Command 1

My friend Marc from The Painted Dwarf brought the US, and he was still painting them up for the game.   

US Navy
USS Murphy's Law- Michigan class Battleship - Command 4
USS Poe's Law - Connecticut class Heavy Cruiser- Command 1
USS Thomas - Bainbridge class Destroyer- Command 2
USS Smith - Bainbridge class Destroyer- Command 2

This was played on a 36 x 36 MU board as a standard Patrol mission.  We played 6 turns and victory was determined by armor value.  This was a straight forward Patrol mission with the US as the attacker.  

We opted for no complications. 

We divided the table into 4 quadrants and generated some terrain.  

Grid 1 = Cloud at 3
Grid 2 = Mountain to 3
Grid 3 = Mountain 3 and cloud 5
Grid 4 = Cloud 8

The Americans spread across the board at mid-range and height spread out across the board.  The Americans are relatively evenly spaced.  

The French are on the left side of their deployment zone set-up to move at an angle across the board.  The battleship is leading the way.  with the following cruisers at various heights.  

Turn 1: 
Initiative: French 1 versus American 3

Move: The USS Thomas bolts ahead high and fast, going full speed as they dash into the clouds for cover.  The USS Smith goes low on the opposite side, as it the two destroyers plan to sweep around the French and catch them on the far side.   

The French stay in line a stern and move across the board at a leisurely pace, letting the Americans come to them.  However, the Voltaire and the Cassini begin to split off from the main force, as the Gloire speeds up to fill the gap in the line. 


Turn 2: 
Initiative: We tied at 2, but the Americans retain the control of the initiative.

The American Destroyers go wide.  The USS Thomas goes high and fast on the outside, at max speed and height.  The Epee rises up to get them in range for a torpedo attack, and the Bouvet and Gloire move to this area of the board and begin their turns in.  The USS Murphy's Law is near the center mountain, but well above it.  The Cassini and Voltaire are separating from the main French fleet into their own attack element, seeming to be interested in the USS Poe's Law.    The other destroyer, USS Smith, goes low on the opposite side.    



Turn 3: 
Initiative: Americans, who go first with 5 vs. 3 in Commands.  

The USS Thomas again goes first and makes full speed to circle around the French vanguard, but is caught in front of it.  The Bouvet is not high enough, but the Epee is.  The USS Murphy's Law turns to bring their broadside to bear on the Bouvet, but the range looks to be extreme.  The Voltaire turns towards the USS Murphy's Law bow.  The USS Poe's Law is on the other side of the mountain her sister ship and is approaching the rear elements of the French.  The Cassini breaks away suddenly and moves across the bow of the US Heavy Cruiser and chases down the low altitude USS Smith, who dives further away out of torpedo range.  

The USS Murphy's Law takes some long range shots at the Bouvet, but fails to find its mark.  The distance is too great, and she manages to jam up her Medium battery in the process. 

The USS Poe's Law saves the USS Smith from a torpedo barrage by putting friction on the Cassini with some forward firepower.  The Voltaire also manages to cause friction with a torpedo attack on the USS Murphy's Law.  

However, the Epee manages to launch a Torpedo barrage into the USS Thomas, with one of the birds striking home.  

The USS Thomas loses a point of armor.  

The USS Murphy's Law easily repairs her Medium battery.  With a Command of 4, repairs come easy! 

Both commander's are skilled enough to clear all Friction.  This becomes a theme during the End phase.  

Turn 4:
Initiative: The French win with 2 Commands to 1, and choose to go first.  

The Bouvet makes for the cover of a cloud bank to avoid the firepower of the USS Murphy's Law.  She doesn't make it, and tries to blow smoke, but fails!  This leaves them vulnerable.  The USS Murphy's Law tries to close the range while keeping the French in their broadside.  The Epee does not pursue the USS Thomas, and stays with her charge as the US destroyer rockets past the French line.  

The Voltaire turns and accelerate away from the USS Murphy's Law, but the USS Poe's Law is moves to intercept them.  The Cassini turns to engage the USS Poe's Law with a torpedo broadside.  Meanwhile, the USS Smith gets behind the French and gets a bead on the trailing Gloire.  

The Bouvet manages to fire first, and puts some Friction on the USS Murphy's Law.  This proves critical as despite a Fire for Effect command, the shots from the US battleship ring off the French ship's armored plate.  

The Cassini manages to fire a barrage of torpedoes into the USS Poe's Law as they race past each other.  One manages to find a weak spot in the Heavy Cruiser's armor and cause a hit.  Fire from the USS Poe's Law fails to scratch the Voltaire or the Cassini.  Her main bow heavy battery gets jammed in the process. 

The USS Smith fires her torpedoes on the Gloire, and several manage to get past her Point Defense.  However, they clang or explode harmlessly on her armored belt.

The USS Poe's Law loses 1 armor. 

Again, the two fleet commanders easily remove all friction.             

Turn 5:
Initiative: The Americans win 4 to 1 Commands, and the Americans elect to go second. 

This time the Bouvet manages to take cover in the clouds, along with the Epee.  The USS Murphy's Law changes course to work with the USS Poe's Law to try to capture the Voltaire in a crossfire.  However, the Voltaire gains altitude and goes to full speed, while blowing smoke to avoid their fire.  The USS Smith supports the effort to box in the French cruiser.  

The Cassini circles around and also takes cover in a cloud bank behind the American fleet.  The USS Thomas continue to circle around the back of the French.  The Gloire follows the Bouvet, but is not in cover.  

The Voltaire uses limited firepower on the USS Poe's Law, and it is enough to cause Friction.  However, despite the smoke and Friction, the return fire from the USS Poe's Law and USS Murphy's Law tears two holes into the French cruiser.  However, the USS Smith manages to also jam up her forward light battery.  

The Gloire fires her Heavy Batteries at the USS Murphy's Law.  She manages to jam both of her heavy batteries!  

The Voltaire loses armor only.  

The USS Smith fails to fix their light battery.
The USS Poe's Law fails to fix either of their jammed Heavy Batteries.   

All Friction is removed.  

Turn 6- Final Turn
Initiative: The French win with 2 commands to 1.  They elect to go first! 

The Bouvet comes out of the clouds along with her escort, ready to duel with the USS Murphy's Law.  The Americans are game and move to engage.  The Gloire also moves up ready to support in the firefight.  

The USS Thomas and USS Smith turn in and race at the French battleships with a load of torpedoes.  The US use their command to load torpedoes.  

The Voltaire manages to escape away from the USS Poe's Law, while the Cassini comes up on her stern with a fully loaded torpedo spread ready.    

The French use their last command to Fire for Effect on the Bouvet.  They open fire on the USS Murphy's Law with their main guns, and the USS Thomas with their light batteries.  However, none of them manage to stick, and cause friction on the enemy battleship instead. 

The USS Thomas opens up with a spread of torpedoes on the Bouvet.  The Epee and her own Point Defense swat away 2, but two hit the ship.  However, American torpedoes are not very strong and fail to cause damage.  

The Gloire also opens fire on the USS Murphy's Law and USS Smith.  They fail to cause damage as well, but cause friction that stops the USS Smith from their torpedo run.  

The USS Murphy's Law returns fire on the Gloire, and manages to cause 2 damage to her with the heavy batteries.  

Finally, the Cassini manages to Fire for Effect on the USS Poe's Law and fills her stern with torpedoes.  Her damage makes the torpedo attack stick, and she takes 4 damage.  Ouch.  

The Gloire has her screw fouled, and drops two speed immediately, she also loses two armor.  
The USS Poe's Law loses 4 armor, has their screw fouled twice, and the captain is killed in the attack!  This leaves the USS Poe's Law at Command 0 and leaderless.  

The Gloire fails to repair her screw.  
The USS Poe's Law can not repair any damage.  
The USS Smith repairs her light battery. 

The USS Poe's Law strikes her colors.

Friction is removed.  

The French win the engagement with 4 armor loss to 9.  Plus, the USS Poe's Law is essentially dead in the sky.  

With the Poe's Law seriously and heavily damaged, the American forces signal for an end to the action.  The French are satisfied with the results, and agree to the ceasefire.  This allows time for the Americans to try to recover their floundering airship, rescue crew, and begin to attend to the dead and wounded.  The French withdraw back to neutral ports while the Americans go about their macabre business. 

 Well, last time the Americans beat me in the last round when the Bouvet struck her colors after getting shredded by the USS Murphy's Law.  This game I did a better job keeping the Americans at arm's length and then slashing in to attack with my torpedoes, and then running away!  I dangled my battleship as a juicy target that the Americans kept attacking, but at sub-optimal ranges.  

Meanwhile, my cruisers did the work by mobbing up on the other flank.  After several battles, my D'Iberville finally proved to be a decisive element in the battle instead of just an annoyance to the enemy.  Torpedoes proved to be the key weapon against these American gunboats.    

Cloud terrain also was a key factor in this battle.  Several times during this engagement ships took cover in the clouds.  I used it to shield my Battleship during a key turn, and to hide my D'Iberville before its final attack run.  The Americans used them to shield their destroyers on their encirclement approach.  This was the most impact I have seen terrain play in a game yet.  I think I will want to add more clouds! 

You can pick up the rules for Castles in the Sky at the link from Osprey. 

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