Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Teste of Strength - Battlefleet Gothic AAR

This month's SJGA game was Battlefleet Gothic, run by John Stanoch (who, I will note, came up with all of the ships' names). 

John was using a modified version of Battlefleet Gothic Remastered, which is an ongoing project to update the Battlefleet Gothic rules and keep them available to new players. John's modifications included a grid-based movement system (which also affected weapons and ordinance) and a chit-draw activation system (combining a player's fire and ordinance phases into a single turn). 

The scenario was an ambush, set up by the Imperials by the theft of a Chaos artifact. With a Word Bearers fleet in pursit, it would be up to the Imperial players to pounce on the pursuing enemy fleet. 

The Chaos fleet was composed of:

Desolator-class Emperor's Testicle (Brian)
Slaughter-class Soulless (Brian)
Repulsive-class Bringer of Despair (Sam B)
Inferno-class Hellspace (Sam B)
Acheron-class Chaos Eternus (Phil)
Hades-class Injustice (Phil)

While the Imperial fleet was made up of:

Armageddon-class Hammer of Light (Robert)
Lunar-class Justicar (Robert)
Tyrant-class Zealous (Sam W)
Dauntless-class Abdiel (Sam W)
Dominator-class Hammer of Justice (Dick)
Dauntless-class Uziel (Dick)
Retribution-class Cardinal Boras (Tim)
Firestorm-class Gold 1 (Tim)

The Game started with a fell omen for the Imperial players. Robert failed his first command roll to order his ships to move "All Ahead Full". The Chaos ships, sensing an opportunity, passed their rolls to "Lock On" and mauled the Hammer of Light and Justicar.

Sam, realizing that Robert's lone ships wouldn't last much longer under such concentrated fire, moved his ships onto the table from the back edge, eschewing the optional rule to wait and deploy further up the table edge (5 squares per turn). 

The Justicar was the first Imperial ship to fall, becoming a drifting hulk. 

As Sam moved up and launched torpedoes, he was joined by Dick's squadron. 

There was a brief lull in combat as the Chaos Fleet was broken up, having to dodge between the waves of torpedoes launched by the Imperial ships. 

Seeing the formation scatter, Tim brought the intimidating Cardinal Boras in from the opposite table edge, accompanied by the single escort from Gold squadron that was included in the Imperial fleet. 

The Abdiel was destroyed when it was caught by a broadside of lances from the Emperor's Testicle

The Chaos Eternus and Soulless launched attacks against the Cardinal Boras, but the heavily-shielded battleship emerged unscathed from the enemy cruisers' attacks and set its sight on the grand cruiser Bringer of Despair. 

More and more Imperial ships were being destroyed, picked apart by weapons batteries and lances from the Chaos Ships. Caught between the Emperor's Testicle and Injustice, the Uziel was shattered. The Hammer of Light fled the failed ambush, moving to the edge of the system and opening a warp gate. Gold 1 was also caught by the Bringer of Despair and destroyed. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinal Boras moved forward, launching broadsides at the fleeing Chaos cruisers that unfortunately failed to connect. 

At the end of the game, the Cardinal Boras was the last Imperial ship on the table, with none of the Chaos ships having even been crippled, let alone destroyed. This ended as a disastrous ambush for the Imperium, and the losses would hinder the Imperium's effort in the sector for a long time. 

This fight was an uphill battle from the start for the Imperials, from Robert's bad luck at the start and their scattered approached to the Chaos battlegroup. This allowed the Chaos ships to dodge their torpedoes and pick the Imperial ships off one at a time. John also pointed out to me that the Chaos fleet likely had too many points for what was supposed to be an ambush. Potentially swapping out the Desolator for a cruiser like a Murder would make the Chaos fleet less likely to engage in direct combat. 

The only suggestion the players had was allowing a little more freedom in placing torpedoes. 

As they were, the torpedoes had very restrictive arcs that made it difficult to line up attacks. You could only place the torpedos either directly forward or to a 45 degree angle to either side. 

Allowing a player to give the torpedos an additional turn of 45 degrees to the left or right would give more freedom in direction, which would have given the Imperials a boost during the game. 

John's adaption of the rules to a grid-based system was fantastic. It took all the ambiguity out of movement and shooting, which made running a 7 player game relatively easy. I would absolutely consider doing the same for Castles in the Skies. John's game also reinforced my thought that less is more. Had each player been running 4-5 ships, this would have been a mess.

I'm looking forward to more Battlefleet Gothic in the future. 


  1. Grid based gameplay has been having a resurgence lately!

    1. I know some wargamers get a little grumbly ("It's too much like board game with grids"), but it takes out all of the fiddly movement that can cause arguments, especially in multiplayer games.