Battle Report: ‘Force the Gate’ Mission

The location of the fort.

The mission simulates an attack on a harbour. The attacker has to either ignore the fort (and claim the defender’s ships that leave the ‘port’ and enter the table via the reinforcement edge) or destroy the fort to claim its points. The defender has to try to organise a counter attack with a limited number of ships a turn. The defender has a minefield to help break up the attack and hopefully claim a scalp or two.

Ben: We chose 600 point fleets from 1915 or earlier.

Andrew: I’m hoping to cramp the attacker’s style and get on to the table quickly, so I have chosen 1 Scouting Group. My ships are all fast. My destroyers particularly so. My plan is to give the attacker way too much to shoot and then land a sudden blow with my destroyers. The forts guns are quite weak against the newer capital ships so my target will be armoured cruisers or light cruisers.

Ben: My plan is to claim the fort and the first ship or so that comes on from reserve. To destroy a fort you need lots of guns. Who better for the task than HMS Agincourt? She will go all game at the fort leaving Hercules to attack the first KM reinforcement. I have chosen cheap light cruisers to go ahead of my battle squadron in case I run into the minefield.

Andrew: I placed the minefield at 17″ in and 30″ across. This is directly in the path I think Ben will drive his battle squadron. My fleet is slightly cheaper than Ben’s so I get a 1-5 point upgrade card.

I chose the upgrade card that allows me to choose one ship to come on from reserve rather than having it being random. I can only use this card once.

Attackers deployment:

Turn 1 KM wins initiative.

Minotaur is hit by the fort. Active moves forward to screen the capital ships. Saydlitz rolls a six and comes on hitting Agincourt at extreme range!

Minotaur fired on Saydlitz and missed. The KM fails to bring on another ship from reserve. Hercules fails to hit Saydlitz. Agincout passes discipline to keep fire control and opens fire on the fort missing badly.

Turn 2 KM wins initiative.

Still bow-on Saydlitz inflicts more damage on Agincourt. Hercules fails to change orders to ‘gunnery control’ from ‘more speed’ and fails to hit Saydlitz. The fort, requiring a ten, hits Minotaur again causing another hull damage. HMS Active drives forward triggering the minefield. She fails to spot the field and to evade a mine. She take six hull damage and is destroyed instantly!

Moltke arrives from reserve and misses Hercules in the only good bit of luck the RN have had so far. Agincourt passes her discipline roll to maintain fire control and hits the fort causing light damage. KM roll in Madaburg from reserve but use their upgrade card to bring on Von Der Tann in its place. She fails to hit HMS Marksman.

Minotaur fails to change orders to gunnery control but turns sharply to shake the forts aim and take her token from Saydlitz. She opens up a broadside on Moltke hitting twice for two hull damage.

All three destroyers pass discipline with the help of their leader and using the hard turn order avoid the minefield.

Turn 3 RN wins Initiative.

Minotaur moves forward and hits Moltke reducing her hull to four and adding a damage card. Saydlitz continues to pepper Agincourt setting her ablaze and damaging her engines. HMS Amphion changes order to evasive action and tries to turn from the oncoming battle cruisers. Von Der Tann throws oil in the fire to gain sea room and trains her guns on Amphion.

Hercules causes light flooding in Saydlitz. Moltke continues to find her range on Hercules. The fort misses its range on Minotaur with all of it’s guns.

Despite her complications, Agincourt maintains her fire control order and adds three more hull damage to the fort. The three destroyers change orders to torpedo run in preparation for an attack on Moltke. The KM destroyers and light cruisers arrive with more speed orders eager to get into the action.

The three RN destroyers move into attack run positions.

Turn 4 KM wins initiative.

Saydlitz loses her order but still finds her mark on the barely moving Agincourt. Using her light guns she holes the speeding Marksman. Her efforts are in vain as the marksman finds her hull with three torpedoes. Saydlitz explodes and the Germans lose their flag-ship.

Wiesbaden surges forward to protect her capital ships from the other destroyers and manages a hit on Bulldog. Agincourt struggles forward suffering heavy damage and burning brightly. She cannot damage the fort further. Pillau finishes the job on Marksman.

Amphion fails to change her order to torpedo run but sets about mauling Wiesbaden causing a fire. Minotaur hits Moltke’s bridge, killing the senior officers and causing ship wide confusion. The German destroyer group set their eyes on Hercules for a late game strike.

The fort fails to inflict any more damage on Minotaur despite the close range. Hercules lands a blow with a first attempt on Von Der Tann. Moltke, receiving no orders from the bridge, reduces speed to avoid colliding with the wreck of Marksman. Her gunners finish the job on Minotaur and Bulldog. Von Der Tann changes order to hard turn to get a clear shot on the oncoming RN destroyers but is unable to hit Beagle.

Turn 5 KM wins initiative.

Moltke moves forward to broadside Amphion and Bulldog. She misses Amphion but wreaks Bulldog with fire leaving her with a jammed rudder. Amphion uses wingmounts to torpedo Moltke and Wiesbaden. Moltke is struck destroying her magazine and instantly she explodes!

Raking fire from Amphion’s light guns leaves Wiesbaden with serious issues. The forts gunners see Amphion clearly hitting her repeatedly with every battery.

In Bulldogs last act of defiance she launches her two torpedoes at Pillau. However Pillau avoids both. In return she unloads her guns sinking bulldog.

Agincourt, failing to clear the wreckage and extinguish her fires last turn, changes her order to damage control. She puts a few more shots downrange at the fort.

Von Der Tann begins to range her guns on the flaming wreck of Agincourt who is still flying her colours. Hercules reduces Von Der Tann’s hull with heavy damage. The German destroyers change their orders and close in for the kill on the undefended Hercules.

Turn 6. KM wins initiative.

SMS B 97 gets the jump on Hercules delivering three torpedoes and destroying her instantly. In return Hercules finished the job on Von Der Tann. Agincourt burns out and sinks after adding just two more hull damages to the fort. Leaving two KM destroyers and two cruisers on table!

KM wins!

Post battle reflections:

Ben: Man, those battlecruisers are tough! Armour 1 made my job too hard!

But seriously, the flaw of the plan was Agincourt getting the half rate of fire on her primary battery. From turn two onward I couldn’t get enough shots on the fort. Andrew had some luck on turn one bringing on his biggest ship. The minefield split my battle squadron from my screens as well. I had all the soft stuff stuck in front of the fort and the on coming capital ships.The Battleships were left on the other side of the mines directly in front of destroyers. A perfect scenario for Andrew. All in all, a disaster for me!

Andrew: I had some great dice when it really mattered. I also had the drop on Ben for most of the game winning initiative 5 out of 6 times. The upgrade card allowing me to bring on Moltke on turn 2 took a lot of pressure off. A really fun game that turned out so differently from other games we have played. Tabling Ben’s fleet was pretty funny. It’s the first time we have had a complete fleet being destroyed in a game. He won’t forget this game for a while.

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