Friday, 10 January 2014

A Brief Sojourn to Cardiff to Visit Friends, and a Game!

I departed from Oxfordshire on my long and dangerous journey through the torrential rain towards Wales on Monday, wondering if I would ever make it. The gusting winds and lashing, heavy rain pounded my little Mercedes as I headed towards a part of the British Isles my phone's satnav would only describe as "Here Be Dragons". After being extorted by a harridan to pay a toll to cross a rather large bridge (possibly over the Styx, though equally likely the Severn) I was in Cymru, where I have not set foot for many a year.

A large bridge into Wales.

The ostensible reason for my visit was for a get-together with some fine, and long-suffering friends, fellows of the Dark Pact. Sadly the Dark Pact has ground to a halt, they blame me, though I suspect the real reason is the short attention span of grown men when tempted by shiny new toys. As Chris Rock once observed, "a man is only as loyal as his options." Upon my arrival at Chez Jim et Craig, I was met by Jim, writer of the Whispers of Chaos Blog, who I whisked away for a romantic late lunch of Nando's, before we set off to Firestorm Games for a game of Battlefleet Gothic. Firestorm is what a Wargames store should be, they stock almost everything, and would even order in Wargames Factory if you want it! What's more, they have a large gaming area at the rear of the store where one might make battle. Living in the UK with its tiny little houses means that clubs or locations like Firestorm are absolutely essential as venues for friends to meet and enjoy their favourite games.

We basically had the whole place to ourselves, Monday afternoon at 1600 is hardly a peak time, Besides us, there were a few guys playing fantasy on the other side of the hall. As neither of us had played in years, and I hadn't had a chance to really read the rules over the weekend (H wouldn't let me) Jim was guiding us through the Cruiser Clash scenario. For those who have never played Battlefield Gothic before, get the rules for free from here, and then get hold of some ships from here, and play. Though I had brought all my stuff, we only elected to play with two cruisers apiece, I chose a Gothic Class Cruiser and a Dominator class. Jim chose some vile Chaos ships. The key difference was that he move faster and shoot further, I had better prow armour and at close range should have outgunned him.

Our chosen ships, setting up the game.
Sorry guys, you don't get to play.
 I had more in boxes too, including orbital things, but we let those lie. If I had been allowed to field everything I had I would have crushed Jim. However, because it was a fair fight I never had a chance. We rolled off and I got the first turn after we deployed. The Imperial Fleet deploying prow forward to the Chaos fleet, the Choas fleet abeam. We randomly generated our leadership values, and true to form I got a Ld 7 for the Gothic and 6 for the Dominator, Jim did a little better with a 9 and a 7.

Turn I - The Imperial fleet moved forward tentatively, and began to perform a wide angled right turn, since the maximum turning distance was 45 degrees for my ships.The Imperial plan was to swing right and then turn into the Chaos fleet, in hindsight Admiral *Data Expunged* should have rushed the Chaos ships to engage them at close quarters. Ineffective Nova Cannon fire, and a spread of torpedoes from the Gothic headed towards the Chaos fleet. The Chaos fleet drifted forward, and began to turn into the Imperial fleet, before launching a flight of three Bombers and a squadron of fighters. The fighters swiftly intercepted the torpedoes destroying the threat before returning to their carrier for refuelling, whilst the bombers lumbered toward the Gothic, from where Admiral *Data Expunged* commanded the small battle group.

Turn II - The Imperial fleet lumbered forward, trying to bring its guns to bear on the Chaos ships but failed dismally. In the Imperial Ordnance phase the Chaos bombers flew through a hail of defence turret fire to deliver their lethal payloads, delivering a critical hit on the Gothic class cruiser, smashing the bridge and killing Admiral *Data Expunged* along with his cowardly coterie of advisors and toadies. [Note: What I should have done was brace for impact, you can see I am rusty.] The ship was now crippled as it only had half of its Hit Points, reducing its guns and shields to half for the remainder of the action. Normally damage can be repaired, but not a smashed bridge. Also, the Gothic now had a leadership of 4.

The Gothic in the lead getting totally smashed.

The Chaos fleet tried reloading its ordnance, and a double 6 meant that it not only failed, but that it couldn't reload ordnance for the rest of the game. The bomber pilots were too busy celebrating their success with feasting no doubt. The Chaos guns were ineffective.

Turn III - The Imperial fleet, now leaderless, powered forward, trying to close with the Chaos ships. The short range of their guns a real impediment to getting to grips with the enemy contacts. However bad luck meant that the Imperial fleet only took out a shield. The Chaos admiral then tried to Lock On, but failed, this was followed by some more ineffectual fire.

Turn IV - The Imperial 2IC tried to take control of the situation, attempting to reload the torpedo tubes on the Gothic, but with Leadership 4, chances were slim, and the attempt failed. The Dominator managed to rake a Chaos ship with weapons battery fire take down its shields, but failing to inflict any real damage. The Chaos admiral brought both his ships about preparing to finish his annihilation of the Imperial cruisers. 

End Game - The Imperial fleet flailed wildly about seeking to inflict some damage on the Chaos cruisers. But on turn 6 it was all over, the crippled Gothic taking yet more damage, and with another critical hit, its Plasma Drive overloaded erupting in a ball of plasma vapour.

Ouch! Plasma drive overload.
The remains of the Gothic.
Fire poured into the Dominator removed three hit points.
The Dominator got pounded by fire, suffering a critical hit which resulted in a bulkhead collapse and a crippled ship. The Dominator tried escaping, but true to form the leadership test came up double six. However, the Chaos Admiral decided to let the Corpse-Emperor's lapdogs limp home and spread word of his victory. "Death to the False Emperor!!!"

Post Game - I made some huge mistakes in this game. I should have advanced more directly, prow forward without deviating to bring the Imperial guns to bear. Trying to manoeuvre was an abject failure which Jim capitalised on. Although I got smashed, I thoroughly enjoyed my last game in the UK for a while. We headed back to Jim and Craig's for a game of Relic. You can get the game here, and I highly recommend it. We played late into the night, sipping on Whisky, a great end to a busy and enjoyable day.