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UCM vs Scourge, 1250

Tell the world how you trashed your enemies on the battlefield, or how you tactically withdrew to fight another day!
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Kozakh

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UCM vs Scourge, 1250

PostSun May 28, 2017 1:57 am

Hi guys. This is my first AAR on this forum, and I decided to write it in order to hear what you think. Please tell me, if such long and detailed battle reports make sense, or this is just a waste of time and no-one is reading this walls of text :) I'm still a newbie player, having had only 2 games under by belt before, and this is the first time I played against Scourge. I've added corresponding fleet lists at the bottom, however I wanted to talk a bit about my fleet and mission first.

This game was a preparation for a tournament held in Toruń (Poland), and that tournament has a couple of specific rules, namely one of the games will have Grid Control scenario with Battleline approach, and players can bring up to 2 fleet rosters, to choose between scenarios. Due to this I had a chance to write my roster and prepare strategy for a specific mission.

Firstly, I divided my force into Space Combat component, and Ground Support component, with latter being the main one. Reasoning for this was simple. In my previous experience, it's VERY hard for UCM to actually win space combat. We are slow, half-blind, have no special rules, and our ships are quite under gunned if compared to their analogues of other races. We also have second-worse staying power in the game. DISCLAIMER: this are my thoughts based on personal experience and reading the book. Like I said, I'm a new player. However, in order to win, I had to leverage what little edge my faction has. One of them is ground combat. On ground, everyone is equal. Also, fortunately, ground game wins battles :) Since UCM has slightly cheaper Bulk Carriers, Strike Carriers, corvettes and bombardment ships, I decided to invest in those. And my previous background of being IG player told me, that if you want to take one of anything - take two instead. Or four :)

So, my Ground Support fleet was comprised of 2 San Frans, 2 Madrids, 5 New Orleans and 4 Santiagos. SF's and Madrids were all gathered in one single battlegroup, while SC's and Corvettes each had their own. Reasoning for this a bit later, when I describe my battle plan.

Space Combat component was presented by Avalon with Jakarta, Kyiv (subclass of Moscow heavy cruiser, kudos to killionaire for an idea :)), and a group of 2 Saratogas, also with Jakarta. Space Combat group was tasked with elimination of key enemy assets that could threaten the ground operation, rather then participation in all-out space battle. Thus the ship composition that I've chosen. Avalon and Saratogas were supposed to flank enemy fleet and pounce on the most valuable targets, while heavy cruiser would be used to clear their approach vector of frigate-sized threats. My admiral held his flag on heavy cruiser, since it's less likely to be a primary target for the enemy.

Here's the battleplan I prepared - sorry for my leet paint skillz :D
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Idea here is to send Bulk Carriers on flanks to capture small side sectors (they will most likely overwhelm any strike carriers enemy would send there), while New Orleans and Santiagos would charge to center and try to take it with help of Madrid bombardment. Madrids, if they survive, would proceed to bomb out enemy medium sector. Meanwhile, combat ships would hug to debris and attempt to strike into enemy formation flanks. If my opponent would split his combat groups to threaten flanking San-Frans, I would try to push in center instead. In any case, I would strive not to come under full frontal firepower of any enemy combat ship on weapons free. Hence Avalon and Saratoga's, which can maneuvre much easier among debris fields. Also, by activating SanFran-Madrid group last in first and second turn, I can choose whether to hit the flanks or go to center.

That's was the plan, anyways. However, as we all know, no plan survives contact with the enemy :) My opponent took a pretty balanced fleet (as far as I understand). He had Daemon, Basilisk, a pair of Hydras, a group of four close action frigates (Geenies IIRC), and 6 corvettes in 2 separate groups. Ground drop capacity was a bit lacking, with something like 6 Gargoyles in total.

Here's how the battle went.

First turn (images are clickable):
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Debris fields were quite like I assumed they would be. Since there were more of them on left side, I decided to put my main force there, with Avalon and Kyiv rushing forward at an angle, joined by the corvette group. My opponent assumed that I'm going to strike in the center, and responded by positioning his battlecruiser and battleship to counter that. Just as I wanted :twisted:

My other Frisco also took his planned position on left flank, and Madrids rushed to the debris fields on the right. Second Frisco should've been taking right flank, however my opponent has decided to send his Hydra and Geenie squadrons there, and I calculated it's survival probability as around zero. My Saratogas went on that flank instead, with an aim to kill off one of the Hydras before they die. Unfortunately, Scourge has countered that attempt by sending attack frigates to support Hydras, and I had to change my plans.

Second turn, setting the board:
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Things started to heat up. First shots of the battle were fired between corvette groups, with Santiagos downing one Nickar, and loosing one ship from retaliatory strike.
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Here I made my first blatant mistake, graciously pointed out by my opponent after the battle. One of his corvette squadrons was already in atmo, and his second squadron and my corvettes activated, with me having the initiative. I decided to go in first, and attack his already dropped squadron. Instead, I should've given the initiative to him, and make him decide - drop into atmo now, and not fire at all that turn, or attack my corvettes at low orbit and receive the wrath of my flagship at point blank.


While that was going on, I continued to stick to my battleplan, and ordered Avalon to turn and rush to middle line, under the cover of large fine debris field. Kyiv followed on standard orders.
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This was my second mistake that turn. Heavy cruiser should've also rushed on full speed ahead after Avalon. This was a big mistake, which stripped me of it's firepower next turn. I have no idea why I did this - perhaps I thought opponent would rush in to take over center cluster?


On right flank, however, original plan was scrapped due to combined threat of Hydras and Geenies. Instead, my light cruisers made a hard turn to hide behind debris field, aiming to go at center next turn. Madrid-Frisco group activated last again, and charged towards their designated ground objectives. I also managed to slip one NO to rightmost cluster, since my opponent didn't send any strike carriers there.

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And here was my third mistake this turn. I blame Madrid captains though, for following orders to literally :P Per my original battleplan, I assumed that will be heavily outnumbered in central cluster, since I'm was supposed to send only 4 strike carriers there. I was prepared to loose that cluster to my enemy, thus Madrids were supposed to start bombarding it on second turn, in order to deny points to my opponent. However, by the end of the second turn, I had Frisco and 3 NO there, while Scourge only had 2 Gargoyles. Nevertheless, Madrids dutifully started to bombard completely empty sectors, blowing one to pieces and heavily damaging another. This was literally a shot to my own leg, which would become apparent later  :D


Third turn, when all hell breaks loose:
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First of all, I sprung my trap which was set in motion in previous turns. Avalon, under a course change order, completed it's flanking maneuvre and came to position just beside Basilisk, well within it's scan range. It's flank was also covered by debris field, making it impossible for Daemon to shoot at it with forward weapons. This one I consider to be my tactical success, since my opponent confessed that he didn't expect this. A welcome respite from my own tactical blunders previous turn :)

Unfortunately, dice have failed me this time, setting a pattern for BTL's for the rest of the battle. Avalon managed to make only 2 hits on the basilisk, fizzling out after the first roll :cry: . Jakarta made another one. This prompted Basilisk and Daemon to come out from their silent running and unleash their weapons on Frisco and Madrids. Fortunately, my opponent decided to split fire between targets, and while Frisco, Madrid and Avalon got some hits, no serious damage was done.

Next, I activated my Saratogas, and they rushed to center, getting just in range to Scourge battlecruiser. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on my side again, with both lasers fizzling away after one hit. I don't know why, but I'm being especially unlucky with Cobras...

Corvettes continued to shoot each other in atmo, Geenies followed Saratogas' wake and killed off one of the Madrids, Madrid and Frisco in turn managed to plink one or two hits off Basilisk, and Kyiv shot from all sides to the atmosphere - ineffectively.

Fourth turn, devastation intensifies.

We didn't make shots this turn, unfortunately. The battle that started on previous turn continued. Avalon shot at Basilisk second time, and again, pretty ineffectively. It managed to bring it under half of hitpoints though, and critical damage disabled it's special orders. Geenies finally caught up with Saratogas, and ate one, the second one finally managing a decent burn and brought Basilisk to 1 hull point. Which, in turn, decided to ram my heavy cruiser, but crashed into the debris field instead :) Hydras finally started to take direct participation in battle and severely crippled last remaining Madrid. It got orbital decay and energy surge, and managed only to bombard and blow away a couple of tanks in enemies cluster, before plunging into atmosphere. Funnily enough, this last ditch effort actually changed outcome of the battle a bit :)

My flagship finally came to position and unleashed it's broadsides on Geenies, blowing 1 away and damaging another. In atmo, battle was raging on as well, with missiles and plasma flying back and forth, and ships dropping to their fiery doom. I was down to one frigate in central cluster, and only pair of corvettes, however on ground legionaries held firm. I actually managed to destroy all opposition in central cluster, and had full control on left and right, despite heavy fighting. Score calculation brought me a whooping 18 points, while my opponent got 3, I think.

Fifth turn, Hydra menace.
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By this point, Hydras became the major threat for my ships, due to incredible amount of damage they could dish out. They could literally delete one ship a turn, regardless of me going on special orders and their bombers flying through debris. Something had to be done. Fortunately, by the start of fifth turn, both carriers were heavily lit up and outside cover. Both Avalon and Kyiv unloaded their main weapons, and yet again, Avalon managed to deal only superficial damage. My flagship was more lucky this time, and almost killed second Hydra. Remaining Saratoga was in awkward position after previous turns, so couldn't do anything. It turned and went back, almost coming full circle to where it started the battle :)

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Here I made another mistake. I shoudv'e attempted to kill damaged Hydra with Avalon no matter what, even if it meant going through dense debris field


Meanwhile, Daemon made a hard turn and went for the last remaining Frisco, however it's shooting mostly bounced off cruiser's armor.

In atmosphere, things got hectic. Massive Gargoyle relocation happened, with ships shifting from opponents and central clusters to mine and right flank cluster. I lost my last corvette, my opponent his remaining Geenies to groundfire, and I dashed with my last NO to opponent's cluster. Hydra bombers struck at Avalon, and despite protection from 2 Jakarta's, it still went down. I think my opponent rolled like 20 hits, with 2/3 of them crits that time :)

Last turn, aftermath.
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Not much happened here, as you might think. All remaining ships were mostly concentrated on grabbing critical locations and delivering last troops to the ground. I rushed my Frisco from left flank to enemy cluster, in attempt to get away from scary Daemon, but got hit and blown by damaged Hydra.
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That was another mistake from my side, I shoud've hidden this ship behind cover instead, it woud've denied killpoints to my opponent


Kyiv also rushed to grab the cluster, and remaining Saratoga completed it's maneuver and FINALLY managed to kill second Hydra, which was also damaged by ground forces last turn. Last troops have hit the ground, and in final turn Scourge managed to improve their position, getting control of one small and one medium cluster, and making a draw in mine and second small one. He also got control of two side critical locations. However, remember that final Madrid's shot? Well, it actually allowed me to drop a single tank company to that bombarded sector, and contest my opponent's cluster :)

In terms of kill points, I managed to get 5 VP's, while Scourge scored 8. Final score result after 6 turns was 30:20 in favor of UCM.

Some final thoughts. This was a very interesting game. I'm really happy that I actually managed to most of my original battle plan successfully. I'm not happy with noob blunders that I've made in the process, and with the way dice was working for me this battle. I mean, I honestly consider Avalon to be the best UCM combat ship. And in previous game vs PHR it has definitely shown that, singlehandedly killing Traitor heavy cruiser, swatting an Echo and delivering coup-de-grace to Ganymede. And math-wise, four 3+ BTL shots should be pretty reliable. However, this game it just didn't work. Same for Saratogas, but TBH, I'm not expecting much from them by this moment.

Jakartas worked every single round, although I didn't use them for scanning, nor did I feel much need in that. Targets that I wanted to shoot at were either cloaked, in point blank range, or already lit up by themselves. As far as PD goes, they work pretty well when negating singular attacks (like the ones from corvettes or Daemon/Basilisk), however you can't do anything against really determined attack of Geenie squadron or 2 Hydras.

Now, as for Hydras. They were definitely the biggest threat in this game. Even though I tried to avoid them as much as possible, with 30" range and 20 Scald attacks, there is only so much you can do. I went on with course change, I hid behind debris fields - it's still not enough to survive combined strike. So far, I don't know how to deal with them. They are just too deadly and all-reaching. Especially when under cover of attack frigates.

As for my ships, apart from usual issues with laser capacitors, everyone performed as expected. I'm not yet sold on Madrids though. Sure, their bombardment is devastating, and they are cheap, however I don't think that tournament-type game is decided by bombardment. I mean, max thing that you can achieve, is bring one cluster from 4 points to 2. And I believe it's actually pretty easy for enemy troops to escape bombings by hiding between my own forces. Maybe I'm using them wrong, though. In this case, what are your thoughts on this ship? For me, it seems that the biggest benefit of bringing them is additional targets for your opponent and additional 20 HP to the fleet. But then again, maybe it's better to bring another heavy cruiser or more carriers instead?

San Franciscos, on the other hand, were absolutely crucial to my victory today. Without their high drop, I wouldn't be able to get so much points in turn 4. And in tournament, I think it's pretty important, since a lot of games actually end by turn 4. At least where I play.

P.S.: Special thanks to my opponent Pawel - a great and friendly player!

Lists used.
--------------------------------------
Scourge - 1241pts
Scourge - 10 launch assets

SR17 Flag battlegroup (324pts)
1 x Daemon - 260pts - S
2 x Gargoyle - 64pts - L

SR12 Vanguard battlegroup (269pts)
1 x Basilisk - 205pts - H
2 x Gargoyle - 64pts - L

SR10 Line battlegroup (280pts)
1 x Hydra - 140pts - M
1 x Hydra - 140pts - M

SR7 Pathfinder battlegroup (238pts)
4 x Djinn - 172pts - L
3 x Nickar - 66pts - L

SR5 Pathfinder battlegroup (130pts)
2 x Gargoyle - 64pts - L
3 x Nickar - 66pts - L

--------------------------------------
Serious Drop 5/2/2 - 1246pts
UCM - 0 launch assets

SR11 Vanguard battlegroup (227pts)
1 x Avalon - 195pts - H
1 x Jakarta - 32pts - L

SR10 Vanguard battlegroup (163pts)
1 x Moscow - 163pts - H
   + UCM Captain (20pts, 2AV)

SR11 Line battlegroup (208pts)
2 x New Cairo - 176pts - M
1 x Jakarta - 32pts - L

SR20 Line battlegroup (380pts)
1 x San Francisco - 111pts - M
1 x San Francisco - 111pts - M
2 x Madrid - 158pts - M

SR4 Pathfinder battlegroup (88pts)
2 x Santiago - 44pts - L
2 x Santiago - 44pts - L

SR5 Pathfinder battlegroup (160pts)
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
1 x New Orleans - 32pts - L
Last edited by Kozakh on Sun May 28, 2017 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kelbesq

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Re: UCM vs Scourge, 1250

PostSun May 28, 2017 6:10 pm

I really enjoyed this writeup! I appreciated you laying out your plan ahead of time, as it gives some good insight into why you took the troops you did, what you intended to do with them, and how the plan falls apart once the game starts. It was a great combination descriptive text, images, and afterthoughts.

As far as the game itself goes, I've never used Madrids (which is part of the reason it was a particularly interesting read. I have used Jets/Turquoise, but the problem with making any comparison is that I am often compelled to use them to attack things in orbit. Madrids are so cheap, give you enemy so many hull points to chew through, and change the game enough that your opponent can't really ignore them. I general, I'd assume you want to send your bombardment cruisers and troopships to different areas. If you have the drop advantage, then you are less likely to need bombardment. The most efficient use of bombardment I've seen is when my opponent destroyed a single sector in every cluster where I had a drop advantage. He was able to make my ground wins worth less compared to his own, giving him a minor, but clear points advantage on the ground.

As far as the San Fran goes: Would you have better or worse in the drop game with 3 strike carriers instead? It's hard to judge as they are clearly juicy targets that drew fire away from your other orbital ships.


Again, thanks for the writeup!

Edit: Are the clusters just laminated? I've been debating doing the same with my own.
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Kozakh

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Re: UCM vs Scourge, 1250

PostSun May 28, 2017 7:09 pm

Thanks for your comment Kelbesq, much appreciated feedback! :)

As for Madrids, and bombardment in general, I must say that I'm not yet sold on this mechanic. You don't really _need_ it to win games, and even though rules errata that changed score allocation for destroyed sectors is a step in right direction, I still feel that it's not enough to make this ships really valuable. Which is a shame, since bombardment is a cool game mechanic, and one of the few strong features of the UCM. It would probably be better, if destroying all sectors in a cluster would've brought it's point values to 0. Otherwise, small clusters are "immune" to bombardment, and medium/large clusters would only loose 1-2 points. I will try out fleet with one Madrid though, and see how it goes.

About Friscos, that's a complicated topic. I must say for sure, that it was due to dropping infantry and battery in turn 2 I've won the central cluster, and if I didn't make a mistake of sending my flanking Frisco to take over opponent's sector, I woud've secured flanking cluster as well. In general, 3 Strike Carriers bring slightly more combat power to the table, and are harder to dislodge, however, there are a few factors that work for bulk carriers.

Firstly, if they are not killed by turn 4 (by being far from fighting), they are pretty much guaranteed to fully take over their cluster, and score both ground and space points, while denying them to the enemy. Secondly, since they are in low orbit, they force your enemies to go down as well, if they really want to kill them. Which makes them potentially vulnerable to your combat ships. Finally, they work great when using combined arms approach and attacking a cluster together with strike carriers. Even if you make just a single turn of drop and deploy defense battery, it will greatly shift the balance on the ground in your favor.

However, keep in mind that I'm no expert yet :)

As for clusters - yes, they were laminated. My opponent provided them actually. For myself though I decided to take a different approach and do this:

Image

Laminating clusters/debris is a very cheap and efficient approach, however I don't like the fact that this markers can be very easily moved around accidentally. Also, I don't like the laminated "halo" around them, but that's just me :)

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