My happy illusion was shattered last night when the French fleet once again took to the Felt Seas to seek glory and victory for the Republic. A bit of chaos and disorganisation prevailed in our Tuesday evening group; first we were five, then four, then one of the group - who has only played DW once - needed an opponent. Deciding to leave my usual opponent to play against our other regular player, I took up the challenge of playing against a borrowed Prussian fleet.
The other player prefers skirmish games, so for the sake of brevity we went for 600pts, ignoring the usual minimum/maximums of points for the various classes of ship. This proved to be a mistake, for my opponent immediately spent 50% of his points on a Dreadnought. A further mistake was to not put my foot down, but it was getting late and I couldn't be bothered with the argument. The final mistake was to not get my own dread' out of the bag, instead electing for two pocket battleships and a big airship.
So, off we went. Opponent elected to move first, and played it safe, just moving up a trio of Frigates. I decided that my solitary Furieux scout airship was just the ticket to deal with these;
Opponent followed up on my right with his destroyer squadron, which I moved to counter with my Tourbillon airship (no photos, unpainted resin lump). Then the Metzger moved in and took up firing positions on a convenient rocky outcrop
I decided that it was time for the Voltaires to move up and throw some torpedoes at the dreadnought, but it was to no effect.
The dastardly Prussian dread moved up, and fired some effective shots around, succeeding in damaging the Furieux and Voltaires. So, I countered with the Mk.2 Magenta and the potentially hideous (if you're a dreadnought) Heat Lance;
Alas, it was to no effect, as was the Mk.1 Magenta's salvo which followed it. Just couldn't get the sixes rolling tonight.
Turn 2 and the Prussian dread charges across the board with a 'stoke the engines' card, plus some onboard generator thing adding 1D3". It pummelled the Mk.1 Magenta and then successfully boarded her, capturing the ill-fated French pocket battleship for the glory of the Prussian Empire.
The Mk.1 Magenta moved into support her sister, but just couldn't bring enough fire to bear on the mighty dread, only scratching the paint. The Voltaires were now too close to drop torpedoes, so they moved over the battle raging beneath and went for the Metzger, but cumulative damage meant they had little dice to play with. The Furieux died without further affecting the battle. The Prussian frigates swung round the back of the captured Mk.2 Magenta, but didn't hit anything.
Turn 3, and the Mk.1 Magenta swung round the Prussian dread to give it another full salvo and broadside. A little better on the dice, with a critical, just missing a double crit, but with 13HP it's a tough nut to crack. I had been looking to board the dread, but the combination of movement and tough AA meant the moment never arrived.
The Voltaires died, and the Tourbillon continued to not really achieve anything, so I threw in the towel, knowing a Mk.1 Magenta just isn't capable of a 1-on-1 with a dreadnought. This little action cost the French a battleship, two Voltaires, and a Furieux. The Prussians lost a Frigate and some tiny flyers.
To be honest I really didn't enjoy the game - the dreadnought is 260pts (from memory), but it withstood concerted assault from 300pts of pocket battleship, 100pts of interceptor, and 140pts of airship. The flipside is that had I got my dread out of the bag, then it just would have been a very dull toe-to-toe pounding for several turns.
I do think the dreadnoughts are too tough in this game to be used in anything less than 1000pts - there's just not enough on the table to achieve the target saturation needed to overwhelm one.
On the bright side, the Mk.1 Magenta again proved to be both lucky and very hard to kill. The Tourbillon also looks promising with good fire arcs on the main turrets, and a rocket battery. Thinking about things, a Furieux squadron with a Tourbillon could be a good combo - spotting from the Furieux for the rocket battery on the Tourbillon.
Ah well, that's for next time...