So, I’ve just finished painting up the Strike Flotilla box, the ships are ready to join the fray in earnest. I’ve done them in the same sort of scheme, paint wise, as the rest of my fleet, which is to be expected really…
All the models look great, as is expected. From the hodge-podge of decks, grates and rooves that is the Nikel to ‘dat drill each has its own character while paying homage to their antecedents. It was a struggle to do them justice.
The goal for Spartan in introducing these ships to the Russian’s was to add some much needed strategic depth and gameplay variation. I for one am very glad and hopeful for the future. A future where the waves are crested with the mangled hulls of my enemies (fair warning Giles).
The wedge, much like the Mighty Duck’s ‘Flying V’ has always been the mainstay of Russian tactics. Grouping all ships together and charge head-on toward the enemy, hoping the serfs strapped to the outer hull, the so called ‘ablative armour’, will hold long enough to bring the big guns into range.
Unfortunately for me this hasn’t really been overly successful. Mostly due to placing units too far apart and/or not sheltering the right units in the right way, meaning when/if I arrive I have very little left in the tank and the units that do are too far apart to provide any real concentrated fire. Divided we fall and all that business. I always seem to end up with the smalls off by themselves getting picked off one by one and larges getting pounded into oblivion. The big guys still pack a punch but don’t usually survive too long once they are in range, due to the concentration of enemy fire. Typically you’d either use the larges to shield the smalls or the smalls to reduce the incoming dice on the larges. This is something I need to do better but having options is good.
I’ve played two games with elements of the the Strike Flotilla in them and so far they’ve done well but are yet to be fully battle tested. Here are the key things I’m looking forward to with these new ships:
1. Drilling something… anything… The big ship of the Strike Flotilla is the Khatanga, which I’m thinking of naming the RNS Khodorkovsky (you can thank google for that joke). It has a massive drill on it… so naturally Drilling Something has to be top of the list, even if it turns out to be horribly impractical, who can resist. The few rams I have done have always been highlights of each engagement, as only ramming something can be… (too much?), moving on…
2. The Tiksi’s MAR: Attachment, Naval Medium 1. A reinforced cruiser squadron plus one of these bad boys providing some longer range indirect fire from the rear? Yes please! Apparently the 2/2 Suvorov/Tambov squadrons were very powerful so a 2/1/1 formation should do pretty well. Whether or not its worth the points for just one will be the test.
3. Concussive Barrage ammo. I don’t play many factions besides COA so boarding isn’t a huge threat but its not an ideal tactic either, given the drunk serfs being forced to carry out the missions. This should help make offensive boarding easier if concentrated properly, as well as provide some defence when the time comes.
4. Range/Indirect Fire. This was a big issue in the last game I played. Ablative was stripped off left and right thanks to the Australian Victoria Class gunships with their double exploding ammo. Granted I didn’t shield myself well (icebergs from the Khatanga will help this) but being able to fire back earlier would have offered some respite/vengeance. Being able to do this easier from a well covered position can only be a good thing. It may mean I start using recon planes too for a change.
5. Sheaf Fire, being able to hit multiple targets with a single link fire attack is always good. This seems to be a great way to hurt a closely formed squadron of smalls, mediums, or potentially spreading fire across a couple of squadrons if they’ve been funnelled closely together. This could also be effective in controlling tactical points on the board, forcing ships away from certain areas.
These are my musings on key tactical benefits of the new ships and what I’ll be trying to use them for. If nothing else they give the Russians some ability to hit back as they crawl across the table. Definitely looking forward to getting these guys on the table.