As many of our club members are now showing interest in Dystopian Wars I'd like to present my views on each of the currently released factions naval strategies.
Today, I'll be looking at the Kingdom of Britannia to see how they should aim to rule the waves.
I'd like to address the issues of faction play, battleships and unit tactics.
The Kingdom of Britannia is fighting a war on two fronts against the Prussian Empire and, through alliances, the Republique of France and the League of Italian States in Europe and against the Empire of the Blazing Sun in the Pacific.
The Kingdom is allied with the Federated States of America against the Japanese whilst the Russian Coalition is reducing Prussian pressure on the European mainland.
Britannian military thought has divided into two camps, the knights and the rooks.
The knights believe that the kingdom should continue to expand and drive its enemies into ruin whilst maintaining the strategic initiative. The rooks, on the other hand, think that Britain should consolidate its gains and stabilise regions so as to avoid later uprisings.
Current naval strength consists of just over five hundred active vessels with the largest naval battle group being stationed in the North Sea to defend London from Prussian and Antarctican raids.
In reality, British naval strategy was influenced by the naval historian Sir Julian Corbett.
Corbett advocated that the sea was too vast to lay claim too and that instead of spreading resources to try and maintain dominance in certain zones, Britain should aim to win and maintain sea control (the ability for a nation to utilize the sea without significant opposition and thus deny its use to the enemy).
Sea control would be established by maintaining communication and shipping lanes and placed an emphasis on the strategic defensive. This way of thinking went against the previous Nelsonian doctrine of seeking out and engaging the enemy fleet.
Corbett suggested that blockades, combined with commerce raiding and intense local offensives, would severely weaken the enemy whilst maintaining the initiative. He also stressed that navies could have no strategic impact unless used with land forces.
Corbett, unlike his American counterparts, realized that warfare consisted of more than military policy and that the destruction of the enemy fleet, whilst essential, was not a primary objective. The factors of economics, finance and politics must also be considered when engaged in combat.
In terms of faction play, The Kingdom of Britannia is probably the most durable of nations. The ability to swap turrets for generators means that most of their ships have staying power whilst the experienced engineers Model Assigned Rule (MAR) gives them a higher chance to remove the effects of a critical hit.
The British have invested heavily in torpedoes which gives them a lot of fire-power in the later game as torpedoes are not reduced by Hull Point (HP) damage. This, however, puts them at a disadvantage against aircraft as they have a weapons system that can only strike ships.
The Britannian Ruler class battleship is a bit of a conundrum. The standard configuration of the model comes equipped with four turrets which can throw out the following amounts of attack dice (AD):
RB1 RB2 RB3 RB4
Main turrets 9 7 5 2
Linked 21 16 11 5
This output of attacks appears impressive especially once the battleship moves into range band 2 where it can also roll 7 attack dice for the fore and side torpedo tubes.
The problem arises when we look at the Damage Rating (DR) of 6 for the battleship. This is the same DR as the Prussian Battleship but has a lower Critical Rating (CR) of 10.
The British, however, have the option to replace up to two turrets for shield generators for no points difference. A shield generator works by giving you 2D6 per generator to cancel out attacks made by guns, rockets and torpedoes.
This then poses a problem for the Britannian commander. The first option is to go full steam ahead and close in to range bands 1 and 2 and bring all guns to bare whilst fully utilizing torpedoes.
Whilst this strategy seems viable, the relatively low DR means that your Battleship will most likely take a pounding which will result in the loss of HP. A reduction in HP also reduces your AD rolls on gunnery attacks as well as Ack Ack (AA) and Concussion Charges (CC). This would mean that although you may get to roll more AD in truth, you may end up rolling less.
Another problem for the British Battleship is that it has the lowest Assault Point (AP) rating of the currently released nations. AP represents the number of marines on-board a ship and are used to repel enemy boarders and to capture enemy vessels. By closing in on an enemy fleet, a British commodore runs the risk of losing his ship to a boarding assault.
The second option is to replace turrets with generators. The question then, is how many and which?
A sensible option would be to replace the rear two turrets. The Ruler can make a slow forward advance picking off weaker targets whilst launching fore torpedoes. This strategy posses problems of manoeuvrability as the commander must think about which enemy units must be prioritized whilst maintaining room to navigate. Another hindrance is that if enemy ships manage to get around your flank a Britannian Battleship has no aft defences.
The compromise, therefore, is to replace one turret with a shield generator. This gives the British commodore a reduced chance of deflecting damage whilst maintaining reasonable offensive capability. The Battleship should then advance slowly until the decisive point of battle and then turn side-on to unleash a full volley at an enemy vessel.
With regards to other units, Britannian Attacker class Frigates make an essential contribution to any naval battle group. Their small size means that capital ships only score hits against them on a roll of a 5 or 6 whilst a large squadron size gives increased fire-power.
To make the most of your Frigates, a Britannian commodore should engage the enemy side-on in range band 2. This enables both turrets and the port/starboard torpedoes to be launched.
Fore Turret 3
Aft Turret 3
So a single Frigate can either make two 3 gun attacks or link its fore and aft turret for 1 four gun attack (3+3 halved rounded down =1 +3 = 4) whilst firing off four torpedoes.
Now, lets imagine a squadron of four Frigates doing the same. This amounts to twenty-four 3 gun rolls with 4 separate torpedo rolls for sixteen dice. Or if each Frigate links fire with its self this would equal:
Lead Frigate = One 4 gun attack, 4 torpedoes.
Supporting Frigates = (linked with itself for 4 then halved) 2 x 3 = 6, plus 2x3 torpedoes.
Total = 1 ten gun attack and 10 torpedo dice.
Similarly, Orion class Destroyers and Doncaster bombers can be used to clear the board of smaller enemy vessels before turning to unleash a full torpedo volley at larger ships.
Finally, the Majesty class Dreadnought seems to eclipse the Ruler. This leviathan has six primary turrets, forward facing torpedoes, broadsides and the ability to add two shield generators without replacing turrets.
I hope this first article has proved interesting. Firstly to Britannian players and secondly, to those interested in the game generally. I may add on additional units once I've witnessed them in combat.
If you have any comments or experiences that you'd like to contribute, then please feel free to add to the discussion.
John of Team Gambit.