Dystopian wars first game post match analysis.

Okay, so after painting up my DW KoB fleet I had my first game at my local club yesterday. Unfortunately for my British fleet it was more of a Coronel than Trafalgar! 
Whilst it was somewhat disappointing to have my fleet annihilated by the EoBS (and annihilated is undoubtedly the right adjective) I am confident that it was the quickest way to learn some valuable lessons for future games.

Okay so forces lined up as follows: 
1 x Ruler Battleship (w. 2 x shields)
3 x Tribal Cruisers (w. 1 shield each and experienced engineers)
3 x Tribal Cruisers (w. experienced engineers)
3 x Orion Destroyers
4 x Attacker Frigates
4 x Attacker Frigates
5 x Fighter tokens
5 x Fighter tokens

1 x Hachiman Dreadnought
1 x Sokotsu Battleship
3 x Uwatsu Frigates
3 x DFA-170 Bomber
1 x Tenkei Sky Fortress
1 x Tenkei Sky Forterss
3 x Torpedo bomber
3 x Torpedo bomber
3 x Torpedo bomber
3 x Torpedo bomber
5 x Torpedo bomber
5 x Torpedo bomber

My forces where dictated by what I had painted. My opponent did kindly offer his KoB models to broaden my selection options, however based on the games I had seen so far (more on this later) I rejected these in the belief that what I had would stand up okay.  Whilst my force composition lay at the root of many of my woes, I'm glad I took what I did as it illustrated some valuable lessons.

Deployment superiority.
Whilst I had seen games set up and played before, I hadn't fully appreciated the importance of the number of units available to field.  Because of the “I go, you go” nature of both deployment and play sequence a major advantage is proffered to the fleet with the most units.
Because my opponent had a 12 vs. 8 advantage in unit numbers and I had to deploy the first unit, I had all my fleet on the table in exchange for his small flyers and 170 Bombers.  This obviously allowed him to place his capital ships (I’m looking at you Hachiman!) in the most advantageous positions.
Secondly as I didn't know where his ships were going to deploy I had to spread my units a little. I therefore essentially ignored the left hand 25% of the table and deployed a majority of my vessels spread in the center with a Tribal squadron to the right of the table – a little thinner than I would have liked. 
My opponent deployed his frigates, pair of Sky Fortresses and about 60% of his flyer tokens on my right, his 170 bombers and remaining torpedo bombers to the left and his Hachiman and Sokotsu to the center.

Target practice for the Sokotsu and Hachiman.
Before any dice were rolled I could see how difficult this game was going to be.  After I'd been on the receiving end of the fire of the Sokotsu and Hachiman I was in no doubt that the game was lost and I was essentially only playing for British honour!
As I had to initiate all my units (that deficit in unit numbers) before either of the above I was forced into taking pot shots at RB4 – which unsurprisingly failed to do more than scratch paint.
The return fire at a mix of RB4 and RB3 wasn’t pleasant to receive.  All three of my Cruisers were heavily damaged (a mix of jammed rudders, half move and damage points), along with one squadron of frigates and thanks to two "Flash Fire" cards my Battleship ended the turn with 4 fires, two damage points and a pile of dead crew.

Spiraling out of control.
The game then followed a fairly predictable downward spiral for me.  Damage had reduced my defensive and offensive ability, which meant that I was unable to reduce the amount of pain taken, by either hurting my tormentors or by removing incoming hits.  This then meant that the second turn saw a plethora of my ships sunk, further reducing the amount of AD available to me and reducing the number of targets for the Sokotsu and Hachiman.  This then allowed them even greater concentration of fire...

Nasty surprises / Nice Surprises.
I received a nasty surprise in the second turn when my fighters (5) attacked one of the 170 bombers.  As I failed to take into account the two other 170’s (right next to the first!) I was met with the best part of 20 AA dice.  Predictable results ensued!
Making the same mistake again (D’oh!) I attacked one of the Tenkai with my other squadron of tiny flyers and whilst not resulting in a massacre they were soundly driven off.  Lesson learnt.
The nicest surprise of the day were my Orion Destroyers, which due to their “Pack Hunters” rule provided a pleasantly high number of AD on a linked fire torpedo run.  Crap dice meant no damage inflicted and the high threat they represented meant there decimation in the next turn.

Lessons learnt
Force composition – having seen a couple of starter box vs. starter box affairs I had assumed that (as in the real world) a mixed force of Frigates, Destroyers, Cruisers and Battleships offered the best chance of success.  This is true (as illustrated by the starter box games) so long as your opponent picks on the same basis.  In this game all my frigates, destroyers and cruisers did was ensure that the Sokotsu and Hachiman had something they could effectively shoot at all the time, from RB4 downwards.  Conversely as I had no “like for like” targets for my smaller vessels to effectively engage at long range.  By the time the range reduced they were either ineffective due to damage or impersonating submarines.
Number of squadrons – Linked inseparably with force composition are the number of squadrons taken.  These I need to be bulk out with tiny flyers (which necessitates the use of a carrier) in order to ensure that I don’t get dominated at the deployment stage.
Pass the dice – regardless of “lucky” dice rolls, the more you roll, the more you hit.  Disregarding my complete inability to roll sixes (except on break tests) I simply was never in a position to roll enough dice.  Again dictated largely by force composition and range (i.e. deployment!)
On the cards – A couple of times I forgot cards in my hand and then when I did remember them I held onto them for “the right occasion”.  This was a big mistake.  I hadn’t appreciated the fact you replenish them every turn, so there is very little advantage in holding the same card over multiple turns “just in case”.  Use ‘em or loose ‘em!
Conversely suitable use of cards by my opponent nullified several attacks and started 4 fires on my battleship.
Tiny flyers – these just lack the AA or numbers to bring down the big boys. They need to pick on their own kind in the defensive role.  I should have possibly also taken fighter bombers over fighters to give me some flexibility.
Model assigned rules – throughout the entire game I forget the special rules for British fighters (more guns, more fuel) which may have meant a damage point or two on the enemy.  Additionally I had failed to appreciate the full potential of “Pack hunters”.  If I had I may have deployed my Destroyers more aggressively. 

Final result.
I inflicted four (maybe five) points of damage all game and didn’t sink or shoot down a thing.  My opponent shot down five fighter tokens and sank seven Frigates (the eighth of which stubbornly refused to die after receiving a pounding from the Hachiman), four Cruisers, three Destroyers and reduced my Battleship by four HP.  Like I said it was an annihilation! 

Closing thoughts
As my opponent continued the massacre my fleet by sending yet another of my frigates to the bottom he quipped “I’d like to say this stops being enjoyable after a while [the sinking of KoB ships].  But it doesn’t”
I’d like to say I profoundly disagree.  Whilst the game was fun, losing by such a margin certainly wasn’t.  Lessons will be learnt. 
As I close, the Admiralty reports Dreadnoughts, Destroyers and Carriers are currently under construction at dockyards across the Empire…

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