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Empire: Total War - Naval Battles
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Empire: Total War Heaven » Forums » Empire: Total War - Naval Battles » The Same Lesson, Over and Over
Topic Subject:The Same Lesson, Over and Over
posted 03-06-12 07:07 PM EDT (US)         
The patient admiral who immobilizes and isolates his enemy’s warships is the one who captures prizes at their greatest value at the lowest cost in men and damage to his own ships. I keep learning this lesson over and over. I get excited when I have a have a great big battlewagon in my fleet, and I throw her into close quarters combat prematurely. Bad things happen, and I relearn the lessons I already know about using light ships (sloops and brigs) and frigates to defeat the enemy.

To wit: the year is 1738, and I’ve just fought a battle against the Spanish Navy off the coast of Ireland. I’ve been dueling this force for a couple of years now. I first faced them off Glasgow when three galleons, a 4th rate, and a 5th rate attempted to penetrate my sloop screen in the northern Irish Sea. I refused to engage with my sloop, and the Spaniards lost by default. Next turn, they made a run at my defenses in the southern Irish Sea, where I have a 6th rate and a sloop defending the approaches to Bristol and Waterford. Half of my trade and virtually all of my commodities come in through these two ports, so it’s important to keep the enemy from making mischief here. I fought a battle of maneuver and ended up taking the enemy’s admiral and his galleon for my prize. The next turn, I moved my home fleet out of the English Channel to finish the job off the southwestern coast of Ireland.

Unlike the battle in the Irish Sea, I made a hash of this fight. I left my sloops back and took on the enemy’s two remaining galleons and 5th rate with a 2nd rate (Moloch—captured from France), a 4th rate (London, who has performed so serviceably that she is one of my only ships to have two chevrons), the fleet’s admiral’s 5th rate (Greenwich, also a star performer), a standard 5th rate (Trois-Rivieres, also captured from France), and a 6th rate (Theseus). I got so excited about having Moloch grapple with the enemy’s galleons that I left my bomb ketch, Arthur Pendragon, out of the fight along with the sloops.

Things started off okay. The wind was behind me, so I split my fleet in two so I could go around the enemy and take a couple of shots as I moved downwind. Theseus got in a couple of good early salvoes, knocking out half of the Spanish 5th rate’s sails. I moved London and Trois-Rivieres across the bow of the Spanish 5th rate and one galleon, which were at that moment sailing neck-and-neck at right angles to the wind; between the two of them, they nearly immobilized the two enemy vessels. So far, so good.

Then things started to go wrong, and it was all my own fault. The enemy’s remaining galleon turned upwind. For those who haven’t tried it, attacking the enemy’s sails as he is sailing into the wind yields very poor results. Well, this galleon had a good (virtual) captain and good gun crews. I moved up Moloch to start attacking the enemy’s nearly immobilized ships. For those who don’t have experience in this area, 2nd rates are not exactly nimble. An AI-controlled galleon with half her sails and masts missing still turns on a dime. This ship just pounded Moloch at close range. I, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to get Moloch into position to give a good accounting of herself. Also, the large ships seem to have really long reload times. To make a long story short, I handled Moloch like a newbie. She ended up getting into the firing arcs of two of the enemy’s ships at a time, and they really let her have it. Theseus got badly damaged, too, when I tried to bring her in for an assist. At this point, I started to become anxious about losing a ship to my own clumsiness.

Eventually, I managed to use my 5th rates to knock out the remaining sail of the enemy’s 5th rate and one galleon. They were lined up bow-to-stern when they finally lost their remaining mobility, and there was a small gap between them. I put Moloch into the small gap, where she finally was able to perform as intended. At close range, she blasted the two immobilized ships with grape. With assisting barrages from London and Greenwich, I was able to force the enemy’s 5th rate and one galleon to surrender.

The enemy’s star performer took a lot more work—even after she routed. I literally dog piled her so that she was taking grape shot from London, Theseus, Greenwich, and Trois-Rivieres at once. I killed ¾ of her crew before she yielded. I pulled in $4047 in prize money, but I had to put in for repairs that cost $866 at Waterford. Moloch was really badly damaged, having lost nearly ¾ of her hull integrity on side and ¼ of her guns. I have to say that I was very disappointed with the results of her gunnery. Her round shot was not overwhelming, and her grape shot was not much more powerful than the same broadside from London would have been. Granted, galleons are tough ships with hard-hitting guns. I expected a something a bit better during a toe-to-toe contest between a 2nd rate and a galleon, though.

So the lesson here is that I need to stick with what works. I need to keep using my light ships and frigates to immobilize the enemy before bringing in my heavy hitters to park off the enemy’s stern and fire grape shot. I need to keep myself from getting so excited about the prospects of using my ships of the line that I make poor decisions.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.
posted 04-19-12 12:59 PM EDT (US)     1 / 2       
Wherever possible I much prefer using 5th Rates to tackle enemy Galleons or 4th Rates. Fifth Rates are tough enough that a badly-timed manoeuvre on my part is less likely to be fatal, and the frigate is a better sailor and has a longer range. It also packs a reasonable broadside, and can cause a lot of damage to another ship's sails in a very short period of time.

It's only when I have to confront a powerful enemy fleet that I would bring along something heavier.

Slower-firing ships can suffer a lot of damage despite their strength if they're confronted by several smaller ships, since they're often too clumsy to get in a position to inflict serious damage.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
(id: p90pro)
posted 04-20-12 06:33 PM EDT (US)     2 / 2       
I just played a battle against an Austrian fleet comprised of six 2nd rates, a couple 5th rates, a bomb ketch, and a few sloops.

I had two 4th rates and four 5th rates. The 5ths I captured from England very early on in the game and I believe they retained their higher rate of fire.

Long story short I used chain shot and zig-zagged in front of them until the 2nd and 5th rates were demasted. The ketch and sloops exploded but failed to ignite any others.

My ships still took a lot of hits from their widely spread out fleet. Four of them sank from hull damage and my admiral's ship was one of them. He actually didn't die and that was what kept me in the fight. He was treading water with the rest of the crew. He died after the battle when the statistics came up, but not during it.

I barely won that battle but, barring the sloops and ketch, I captured their whole fleet. I kept the 2nd rates and sold everything else. The smaller ships proved themselves capable, but so did the destructive broadsides of the second rates that blanketed my smaller ships causing them to lose most of their guns, hull, and crew. I just barely won with two ships left that were both in the red as far as hull strength goes.

Sir, I have not yet begun to defile myself.
Swallow my pride? No thank you, Im too full of myself.
I bring you nothing but love and a shopping bag full of sexual depravity.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
Tied with Meteora (****er) for Best Sig Award.
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