Yesterday my new fleet got its first outing against both Frank’s Shroud Mages and his Elves. Frank played with the Shroud Mages, Eddy took the Elves and Koen and myself were outnumbered with the Humans. The Shroud Mages and Elves had a standard fleet of 1 battleship, 3 cruisers and 6 frigates each, while we had that plus a squadron of 3 martyr frigates, all led by the mighty battleship Tears of the Empress’ Favourite Concubine.
Some photos of the game can be found in this Flickr set.
Our plan to take on the two fleets was simple: we had the wind advantage (the wind was on our starboard stern and side for most of the game), while the Elves would have to tack upwind to get to us (the Shroud Mages, being steam powered, were of course not influenced by the wind). So our plan was simple:
While the Elves were busy tacking towards us (as Eddy can be seen doing in the background), our capital ships (the Tears and the cruisers) would form a line of battle using their powerful broadsides to engage the Shroud Mages and hopefully do some damage (as at this range, the Human fleet has the more powerful guns. Up close, the Shroud Mages are a bit stronger, but at medium to long range, our guns are better). The frigates would use their speed and maneuvrability to dart in amongst the Shroud Mage fleet and wreak as much havoc as they could. The martyr frigates would hang back and engage targets of opportunity.
Things went awry fairly soon. The martyr frigates, as can be seen by their conspicuous absence in the above photograph, advanced too impetuously and were destroyed by long range fire of both Elves and Shroud Mages. However, one of them did manage to get in among the Shroud Mage fleet and blow itself up, slightly denting one of their cruisers.
Our main battle line never really materialised. While the Tears swung into line soon enough and managed to destroy a Shroud Mage cruiser, our cruisers never really got into a good firing position.
What did work though, were the frigates. The two normal (as opposed to martyr) frigate squadrons got into the Shroud Mage fleet and between them dispatched a frigate or two and a cruiser (a pack of three frigates firing close range linked broadsides into a cruiser — albeit one already damaged by battleship fire — is nasty)!
However, that was more or less the high point of the game for the humans. As the Elves swung towards us, the wind suddenly veered into an advantageous position for them (well played magic card by Eddy), bringing their cruisers and battleship into close range of our fleet. The Tears, while pouring broadside fire into the Elves, made a last attempt at fleeing behind the central island (hoping to insert itself between that island and the anchored Shroud Mage battleship on the other side of it, limiting its exposure to said battleship), but an unlucky main mast hit slowed it down just when it turned away from the Elves, setting up the perfect stern rake position for them.
We struck our flag at that point :)
It was a fun game, with a nice and fun set of rules. The Uncharted Seas rules have a good balance between complexity (or lack thereof) and speed of play. Things progressed swiftly (even though it was only Frank’s and mine second game, and Eddy’s and Koen’s first) and I felt that there was enough tactical depth in the game to keep it at a level that is a bit more than rolling dice and see who rolls highest. Highly recommended!