Hi folks, Delboy here. Here is a brief tutorial I've knocked up for new-starts to give some insight on how to affect a boarding action on a much larger opponent. Obviously this is purely opinion-based and not meant to be used a the be-all-and-end-all of boarding tactica - its just how I do it! Hopefully other D-wars veterans will get onboard the ‘Tutorial-Train’ and write some too. We as forum members, have an opportunity to create a unique gaming resource where new players/members have an archive of tactics to draw upon, which they can use to facilitate their development into veterans themselves. The Boarding Tutorial I’ve included a simple symbol diagram that should make reading the tutorial easier. It’s the same one I use for my battle reports, but should work here too! Obviously there are no Cruisers in the tutorial, and I've included Escorts too.....but you get the idea! Here is a brief snippet of a situation that cropped up in one of my recent games which highlights the power of boarding as a victory mechanic in the game. In diagram #1, I’ve tried to replicate the situation. The Combatants Enter The Ring An undamaged British Ruler class battleship with 3 undamaged escorts are preparing to engage the Prussian fleet. However, lurking on the horizon are 2 four-strong Arminius Frigate sections. The Prussian player has the initiative and elects to remove the threat (…or at least try to!) The Jab..... Swinging in with the first section of Arminius (red1-4), he elects to fire upon the surrounding escorts. Focusing his fire with 6AD from one vessel and a further +3 from a linking vessel at each target (9AD total) the targets are not surprisingly eliminated (even with 5s to hit due to their Elusive MAR, 9AD is pretty normally pretty definitive). **Interesting Note - in this situation the PE player might decide to simply allocate his fire individually giving each Escort 2x blocks of 6AD to soak. This method is often best when dealing with Escorts with a higher Crit-level such as EoBS Escorts (using this method makes it more likely the firepower will elicit 2x Damage points rather than going for an outright Critical)** The Feint...... Having successfully eliminated the solid Ack-Ack support from two of the three escorts, the Arminius section elects to board the Battleship. Now to the Boarding. The PE player must allocate his entire AP allowance from each vessel taking part in the action. Ship 1 3AP Ship 2 3AP Ship 3 3AP Ship 4 3AP …and the KoB players allocates his Ack-Ack. With one surviving Escort and the battleship undamaged the total available AA is 5+3*=8AA in total (*the Escort Combines its Ack-Ack rather than Links) Now time for the Cards…..the PE player elects not to play any, but the KoB player (concerned by the likely damage plays Mad Minute (Giving him an additional +2 AA for both the Ruler and its escort!….that should see off those pesky Prussians!) Ship 1 3AP…..Ruler allocates 2AA Ship 2 3AP…..Ruler allocates 2AA Ship 3 3AP…..Ruler allocates 1AA + 2 from Mad Minute Ship 4 3AP…..Escort allocates 3AA +2 from Mad Minute. Now the AA Roll, Ship 1 3AP…..2AA…..Rolls 5, 2. = 1 Kill …..2 AP onboard! Ship 2 3AP…..2AA…..Rolls 3,4. = 0 Kills…..3 AP onboard! Ship 3 3AP…..3AA…..Rolls 6,5,2, then another 6, then 5 = 3 Kills…..0 AP onboard! Despite rolling more hits, the KoB player cannot kill anymore than he had previously allocated against, just those 3 Assault Marines! Ship 4 3AP…..5AA…..Rolls 6,4,4,3,1, then a 2 = 2 Kills….. 1 AP onboard! Now the Onboard Combat. First the dice allocation. Ship 1 2 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 3 AP to defend Ship 2 3 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 3 AP to defend Ship 3 0 AP onboard!…..Ruler does not need to allocate any AP to defend!…..they were shot down before they could reach! Ship 4 1 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 2 AP to defend **Note the KoB player can choose not to allocate to a target that has boarded…..or might not have enough AP to do so..!** Now the Assault Rolls Ship 1 PE player rolls 5,4 = 2 Kills KoB player rolls 6,4,2, then a 6, then a 4 = 6 Kills, but only 2 are counted since only 2 AP were allocated against. Ship 2 PE player rolls 5,4,3 = 2 Kills KoB player rolls 6,2,1, then 4 = 3 Kills Ship 3 Not involved at this stage as it does not have any AP onboard the Ruler. Ship 4 PE player rolls 6, then 2 = 2 Kills KoB player rolls 4,4 = 2 Kills, but only 1 is counted since only 1AP was allocated against. Boarding Totals and Result PE Arminius Section Suffered a total of 2+2+0+2 = 6 Kills, leaving the Arminius without Assault Points on any of their vessels! KoB Ruler Battleship Suffered a total of 2+3+0+1 = 6 Kills, leaving the Ruler with only 2 points of AP remaining! The PE boarding action is repulsed! With the PE player not able to do any Sabotage (he didn’t score more kills than the KoB player), the initiative passes to the Ruler and its remaining escort. **Important Note - This Prussian section was not expected to survive the encounter. Their job was to put AP casualties on their target battleship (…which they managed to do in spades!)……but with the Ruler softened up…..** The 'Punch-Drunk' Ruler Now the Ruler can activate. Its swamped by small Arminius craft, and cannot manoeuvre without causing a Collision (which would force it to stop moving!). Grimly electing to simply ram one of the vessel’s out the way, the 8HP Ruler Class has little difficulty in crushing the smaller craft under the waves. With its guns it might target other elements in the PE fleet, perhaps even the brave sacrificial Arminius section? But without anything in reserve to engage the other lurking Arminius section, its days are numbered! **For the sake of convenience, I’ll just skip the KoB gunnery attacks because the vessel cannot draw LoS to the lurking Arminius squadron hiding behind the island.** ....Followed by the Cross! Now the second section of Arminius (Red 5-8) swoop in for the kill. Targeting their entire gunnery power at the escort (presumably because there is nothing else of note within range), the section has little problem neutralising the Escort (6AD+3+3+3 = 15AD! Even needing a 5+ to hit from the Escort’s Elusive MAR, surviving 15xD6 is unlikely!) **Important Note - PE players should pay close attention to the positioning of their craft when engaging in a boarding action…..remember the captured vessel will drift 2” in the End Phase….as will your ships in their next activation….don’t collide with your own prize - its just embarrassing!** The Knockout ! Now to the Boarding. The PE player must allocate his entire AP allowance from each vessels taking part in the action. Ship 5 3AP Ship 6 3AP Ship 7 3AP Ship 8 3AP Cards? The PE player, confident of victory elects to keep any beneficial cards he might have for later (more tricky boarding actions), and sadly the KoB player used his best defence in the last attack! Ship 5 3AP…..Ruler allocates 2AA Ship 6 3AP…..Ruler allocates 1AA Ship 7 3AP…..Ruler allocates 1AA Ship 8 3AP…..Ruler allocates 1AA **Important Note - in this situation it’s always best to allocate at least one dice to a boarding vessel if possible…..you never know when the exploding dice mechanic show its face** Now the Defensive AA Roll, Ship 5 3AP…..2AA…..Rolls 6, 2, then 4. = 2 Kills …..1 AP onboard! Ship 6 3AP…..1AA…..Rolls 5. = 1 Kill…..2 AP onboard! Ship 7 3AP…..1AA…..Rolls 2 = 0 Kills…..3 AP onboard! Ship 8 3AP…..1AA…..Rolls 6, then 6, then 4 = 3 Kills….. 0 AP onboard! Now the Onboard Combat. First the dice allocation. Ship 5 1 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 0 AP to defend Ship 6 2 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 1 AP to defend Ship 7 3 AP onboard!…..Ruler allocates 1 AP to defend Ship 8 0 AP onboard!…..Ruler does not need to allocate any AP to defend!…..they were shot down before they could reach! **Important Note - The ruler does not have enough AP to cover all the attacking Assault Marines!** Now the Assault Rolls Ship 5 PE player rolls 5 = 1 Kill KoB player did not have sufficient AP to allocate to this attack. Ship 6 PE player rolls 4,3 = 1 Kill KoB player rolls 4 = 1 Kill Ship 7 PE player rolls 6,2,1 then 4 = 3 Kills KoB player rolls 3 = 0 Kills Ship 8 Not involved at this stage as it does not have any AP onboard the Ruler. Boarding Totals and Result PE Arminius Section Suffered a total of 0+1+0+0 = 1 Kill, leaving the PE ships with the following AP remaining onboard the Ruler : Ship 5 1AP Ship 6 0AP Ship 7 3AP Ship 8 0AP KoB Ruler Battleship Suffered a total of 1+1+3+0 = 5 Kills, leaving the Ruler with only -2 points of AP remaining! Of course nobody can go below 0! End Result The PE boarding action is successful, and the PE player elects to place ALL his remaining AP from the section onboard as a prize crew (where, like all unwanted house guests, they are presumably engaged in emptying the fridge, making some long distance phone calls, blocking the toilet and drinking all the beer onboard!) At present moment the VP scored by the Prussians for the prized-Ruler is 360pts (180pts for the Ruler and a further 180pts because the ship is Prized. The escorts are not worth any V-points.) **Depending on the Fleet Orders rolled, an undamaged Large Capital ship with a solid 4 AP prize crew is a good step towards victory - Since the PE player is playing a KoB player (who are not the strongest boarding threat in the game) the prize crew is well placed to ensure the 360pts will put them well on the way to winning the game.** **Very Important Note - Clearly, through dice allocation, smaller vessels have a huge advantage against larger vessels. 1 - Large vessels MUST allocate their Ack-Ack against specific boarding vessels, and run the risk of wasting explosive 6s. 2 - Large vessels Must allocate their AP to fight specific attacker AP, and run the risk of wasting explosive 6s. 3 - Smaller vessels have no such problem! Once onboard, their explosive 6s are always effective since their ‘target’ remains constant and any soak can be allocated normally! This makes large vessels terrified of a boarding rush! And the costlier the vessel the bigger the risk it might get captured!** The Dull-Gamer-Part 200pts worth of small PE vessels eliminate and capture 75pts worth of escorts and 180pts worth of Battleship with a possible 180pts additional bonus as a prize crew…… If we take the default 70% Fleet Order as a standard in a typical 1000pt game, in this example, the PE players has used 20% of his fleet with an operational loss of 2.5% to get himself 51% closer to his victory points goal (he now needs 340pts worth of VP to complete his order). Further to this there is the problem of operational capacity of the enemy fleet after the loss of their prize-asset and its escorts. 1000-180-75 = 745pts available for activation …..this actually leads to an asset reduction of 25% across the entire fleet. Ask anybody how they would feel losing a quarter of their force in a turn…..naturally the answer is obvious. This leads to one of the more interesting gameplay mechanics that come about from successful boarding actions - it provides a debilitating psychological dent to an enemy’s plans and thus their combat capability both in their head and on the table. If you put yourself in their shoes for a moment ask yourself….. 1 - Do you allocate assets to remove the prize crew? (If so, who do you send? They are likely to be successful, but what if they are weakened when the rest of the PE fleet throws itself into the mix!) 2 - Do you try to build a fortress and shoot the Prussians apart? (If you hunker down and wait for the rest of the enemy boarding force, will you have the time to weaken it before it focuses its might?) 3 - Do you engage at pace (often the more likely knee-jerk reaction as players rush to retrieve their gaming initiative….i.e. get their points back!) The first point is normally situational - if there are not other good engagement options the prize crew may find itself under attack sharp-ish! (But a frigate section with good Ack Ack within range may put pay to such ideas!) The second point ensures the enemy loses its mobility (by hunkering). Some fleets FSA or CoA will likely take this option since that was most likely their tactic from the start. However hunkering has the disadvantage of being inflexible, allowing good screening tactics and rapid movement towards flank elements. Overall I reckon this makes the fortress quite weak in the long game. The third point arises when players seek to re-gain the initiative against the PE boarding threat by closing the ground themselves. This idea opens itself to faster counter-attack from the cruiser groups. Also such tactics allow the advanced frigate sections to play merry havoc amongst the rear of the enemy lines. ........But, The Upshot of the three questions is not which one do they take, but rather forcing them to take one at all. With such aggressive boarding actions, you as the PE player have taken the intellectual initiative away from your opponent, to the point where he has abandoned/re-jigged his battle plan in an effort to try to contain yours….. all by throwing away a few AP! “… .Where certainty exists, instil doubt….” Sun Tzu How do you cope with a boarding rush? How does a player counter an aggressive boarding fleet. Simply - Good Target Allocation. For new-starts, the elimination of immediate threat is probably the best course. As a player's skill improves, the weakening of each boarding assault section by using selective gunnery could be an effective means of mitigation. As players move into the more advanced skill group however, the simplest means to deal with boarding fleets is to board back! However these methods must be viewed with the understanding that the boarding fleet WILL reach, but hopefully with an AP threat reduced to the point where they can be coped with! Thats it, Cheers for reading, Delboy.