Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Magnificent Day...

About an hour after waking Fleet Commodore James Harrison (Harry to his men, Jimmy to his old school mates at the race track) was feeling magnificent.  There really was no other word for it, he had gone to bed dreading the worst of what a night of whiskey and cards might bring come morning, but come morning he felt glorious.  The night before the cards had fallen his way and he now had a pocket full of bank notes.  To add to the jubilation he had received a telegram, freshly wired, informing him the horse he’d backed in Melbourne had come through by a full length the day before.  Today was a magnificent day, there was no doubting it.

Happier and more sprightly than a man who had helped knock off a bottle of Grouse should have any right be, Harry took his time over breakfast, and took it in good stride even when a second wire arrived informing him the joint fleet of Covenant and Free Australian ships he was leading had finally caught wind of the Russians they had been chasing.  Weeks at sea chasing rumour and wreckage had yielded nought, but Harry had had a feeling and taken a gamble; trying to step ahead of his enemy rather than following their wake.  The gamble had paid out, and now the rumours and mist they’d been chasing had turned into ships and men they had found. today was a magnificent day...

Harry, lucky to head the Russians off in all the open sea, lines his ships up.  A mixed force representing a joint operation between the Free Australians and the Covenant of Antarctica.

The Russians, keeping their knock-out punch solidly in the middle...

Taking water and whatever fresh supplies they could from a small island chain in the vastness of the Indian ocean the Russians had a right to feel unlucky to have been caught by the fleet so far following only the rumour of their wake.

A mix of the frigates and Victoria Class gunships concentrate their fire on the opposing fleet commodore and the squadron of cruisers making up the right of the Russian strong centre.  Some lucky strikes manage to shatter the ablative armour of their opponents.

With the plan hinging on a boarding action against the Russian commodore, a submerged Aronax heads directly.  It's advance is preempted by heavy fire from the Bounty, the Victoria gunships and the Protector Frigates - all of whom, with some luck and daring, manage to inflict some early damage.

The Protectors roll in, and with some incredible luck both their gunnery and broadsides manage to break the ablative armour of the Cruisers ahead of them, and shred half a squadron of heavy frigates to their left.

While the barrage of fire from the frigates, the gunships and Harry's own Bounty manage to wreak merry hell on the Russian fleet a squadron of dive bombers swoop in and light the afternoon with some spectacular fireworks.

Surfacing in order to shred the escorts and pile more damage on the Russian flag ship the Aronax proves it's fearsome mettle...

Under the burning sun and after a lucky guess, the pride of the Russians was withering under a storm of hellfire... Harry couldn't stop from smiling, today was a magnificent day.


And we called it not long afterwards, James and Ewen (joint Covenant/Australian and the Russian commanders respectively) had to leave, and the battle was heavily skewed in favour of the Covenant and Australian forces.  The range of heavy damage from the Bounty and the Victoria class gunships had managed to crack the usually frightening armour of the Russian ships early, and some insanely lucky rolling meant that anytime the dice were thrown, the Russians would suffer.

This game really moved at a fast clip, and 1000 points made for a nice and interesting fleet, some heavy hitters, some mediums, and some smalls.  A great game and a lot of fun (well, I was joint commander of the Aussie/Covenant Fleet - so things went my way).

Can't wait to play again!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

If Not for Patagonia...

Koleny, Admiral of the Covenant of Antractican Expeditionary force, unsealed the brown envelope he had removed from the drawer in his desk.  He read slowly and deliberately, paused, knocked back a dram of Cognac, and re-read.

The world at large was a spinning mass of cogs and wheels, with the dizzying array of changing, merging and shifting alliances, partnerships, deals and betrayals all too turbulent and messy for Koleny.  He no longer bothered to try and keep ahead of who was in bed with who, it all seemed a macabre and crazy dance, best to just put your head down and soldier on.

In a twisted way he admired the powers that were easiest to peg-hole - the East India Company for example were and probably always would be unscrupulous bastards.  The Australians owed their loyalty at the lowest level to the British (at least the Royal Australians did), then next the highest bidder (being formidable mercenaries), and finally, most importantly, to each other, despite their internal division.  It was easy to keep track of that way, kind of neat and tidy in an otherwise messy world.

Koleny sighed, glancing back at his orders again, he liked Australia; as part of an ongoing agreement between Free Australia and the Covenant Koleny had spent years in Sydney training future commanders of the Free Australian Navy and he had come to think of the Country as something of a second home.  Still, Royal Australia wasn't really Free Australia, orders were orders, and the machinery of international diplomacy was a shambles he wasn't planning on expending too much thought on.  He would have to be careful of course, his was a small force and the Australian's were famous for having both big guns and a positive love for boarding actions.

He glanced around his gas-lit cabin as he poured himself another dram, well, if it was a brawl they wanted, it would be a brawl they'd get.  The Covenant weren't known for their ability to board or even resist boarding, but this technological terror was another story, time to put this Aronax class submersible to the test.

Off the coast of South America a small Covenant force seeks out and finds a mercenary fleet of Royal Australians operating in the area.

Neither the Aronax nor the Time Dilation Orb have been tried by Koleny in the heat of battle.  

First casualty of the engagement, the big guns of both a Victoria class gunship and the Cerebus flagship lay waste to some Covenant Frigates.

The incomprehensible generators of the Time Dilation Orb teleport the Aronax into the thick of battle.  The biggest Australian ships have already activated, and the Aronax powers up its cloud generator and weapon systems.

After a blast from the maw gun and Particle Accelerator both the Cerebus and Victoria to the rear take damage.

First the injured Cerebus, followed by the Victoria, swing about and broadside the Aronax, which takes enough damage to render it's weapon systems useless.

With little hope of getting the weapon systems back online after a lucky hit, Koleny orders the stokers on the Aronax to have at it, and the submersible steams in a wide circle back around the ram the Victoria in the hope of crippling her.

A boarding assault!  Men from the Aronax attempt to prize the Victoria, in the end both ships lose their compliment of Marines, the Aronax is left effectively indefensible, but the Victoria lies drifting and derelict.

Later that turn the weak Aronax, with an injured and brave Koleny, cleaning the taste of blood from his mouth with a flask of Cognac, falls to a boarding assault initiated by a Protector class Frigate.  He had given his all, and in the end, the biggest of the Covenant ships fell to the smallest Australian one.

Soldiering on despite the loss of their admiral, the squadron of Platos swings about and circles the badly injured Cerebus like wolves about a dying calf.

After several devastating broadsides the Cerebus slowly breaks apart and sinks.

The turrets of the Platos, with nothing large left to target, seek a quick end by firing on the wounded Frigate.  A massive 16 hits leaves little in the way of debris to wash up on the shores of the nearby islands.

It had been a struggle, but in the end the Covenant had handily won, despite the loss of their Admiral and his remarkable squid submarine.



We noticed after the battle, that we had accidentally left off the table one of the Victoria class Gun Ships that Aussies would have had - how I can't say, but it was entirely my fault.  At the end of the game, while the Covenant had thoroughly won, there had been a tipping point in the mid game, where the Aronax had it's moment of glory, and it was in this tipping point that the game could have swung.

We'll say that the other Victoria was hauled to in a natural port along the coast of Patagonia, trying to make contact with their SUSA employees, but we'll never know how it could have been...

Since playing I've also managed to finish a few more models...

Now to start work on my Aussies...