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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Brief Leviathans AAR

My buddy Sean and I got in a game of Leviathans, and being Sean's first game we used the recommended starter battle setup.  He ran the French and I the British- through several games my father and I played we found the French to be far more forgiving, and so I was curious how that would play out.  The British ships were the HML Hertfordshire and HML Raven.  The French were the Pontbriand and the Montcalm.
The British Ships deliver broadsides to the bows of both French ships.

Commandant Pierre Deperdeaux of the French Destroyer Pontbriand

Captain Wilks of the HML Hertfordshire
We found a number of things to be true of Leviathans: #1- the mechanics work really well.  We really like the colored dice system, the firing arcs, etc.  #2- Initiative is HUGE.  Winning the initiative, especially in such a small game, is the single most important roll you can make.

The French win initiative several times in a row, putting their high speed to good use.
#3- The British ships really suffer from caliber schizophrenia.  With so many different sized guns on the ships (meaning they can't bracket fire), and a lack of crew in the HML Raven's Port and Starboard arcs (which adds an extra die to the gunnery rolls), we found British fire to be much less effective than the French.  While the British are more heavily armored, we found that having double the movement (in the case of the Destroyers), and far more weaponry of like calibers, the French could get where they needed to be and deliver the fire they needed to every single time. Unless the British won the initiative, the French were going to press their advantage every turn.

The HML Hertfordshire takes heavy damage to its Starboard side.
So I am excited to learn what makes the Brits tick in this game.  My knee jerk reaction is that the French are just better, but I'm hoping there's something I'm just not seeing yet.  The British guns have better range than the French, but not by much.  And with the French movement abilities, it's an advantage they don't get to employ more than once.  Combine that with firing at long range without bracket fire, and the British don't sling much lead at long range, allowing the French to close fairly easily.
The HML Hertfordshire goes down.
All in all, I am really enjoying the game mechanics and hopefully larger games will see some of the British advantages come into their own!

Edit: After seeing the Leviathans point calculator beta, the French ships are both pointed higher than the British.  In the case of the Destroyers, the Pontbriand is considerably more than the Hertfordshire, so hopefully the French superiority wasn't my imagination!

Editor's Note #2- We've since played many more times, and have found the French to not be quite as powerful as we first thought- true they can deliver a beating when they get up close and personal, but we've discovered the British can try to stay at range and have a better chance of survival when they do!

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