Opening Salvo: War at Sea
Part 5 - Cruisers
USS BOISE (CL 47) – BACKGROUND
Battle of Cape Esperance
USS BOISE (CL 47) – WAR AT SEA
At a glance the USS Boise seems comparable to most other cruisers at her point level, the USS Atlanta being an obvious exception due to its specialization. The firepower of the Boise is similar to that of the HMAS Canberra, glimpsed at in the quickstart rules of Opening Salvo 1. For two less points, the Boise has a mere -1 attack at range two, and one more point in both armor and vital armor. Additionally, the Boise has Rapid Fire while the Canberra is distinctly lacking in any special abilities. One might very well question the wisdom of taking the Canberra over the seemingly superior Boise. The answer lies in the torpedoes. The Boise, even with its special ability, will have an extremely difficult time against a battleship, and the difference in armor may make little or no difference. However the Canberra’s torpedo attacks bypass armor, allowing it to still be a threat to even a mighty battleship. Neither ship is useless, it’s simply that they both perform different roles; the Boise is a light cruiser and the Canberra is a heavy cruiser.
During the Battle of Cape Esperance, the USS Boise displayed its ability to release a withering volley, as evinced by Rapid Fire, though it didn’t save her from being heavily damaged. In Axis and Allies Miniatures, this ability is useable only once per game so you have to make a decision on the right time to use it. Two extra dice are fairly insignificant against a battleship. Though the Boise obviously has a better chance of causing damage with the ability than without, there are better uses of it. First, the Boise has a reasonable chance of destroying most destroyers at long range. However most destroyers are easily damaged, and only take about two hits to destroy. If the destroyer is able to threaten your fleet in some way, such as destroying your sub or harassing a capital ship, it may be worthwhile to make an attempt to eliminate it in one hit. One of the situations in which Rapid Fire comes in handy is if the Boise can potentially destroy a carrier in one hit. While we can see from last week that the fleet carriers are fairly immune to this, light and escort carriers are particularly vulnerable. Of course getting close enough to an enemy carrier will be difficult. Cruisers are another good target for rapid fire. The Boise, especially at point blank range, has a high enough chance of eliminating the cruiser in one hit to usually be a worthwhile attempt. Even if the Boise doesn’t destroy the enemy ship with the main gunnery, the secondary, unmodified, gunnery may still be enough to damage or destroy smaller cruisers and destroyers.
The USS Boise has several weak points, one being the previously mentioned lack of torpedoes. Though typical of most cruisers, the Boise has a lower antiair value making it vulnerable to bombers. A single torpedo hit will cripple the Boise, or destroy it if it’s a Japanese Long-Lance Torpedo. It has no defense against submarines, so needs to be screened by destroyers, friendly submarines, or ASW aircraft. Due to these drawbacks the Boise isn’t too useful as an escort for your more powerful ships or carriers, and is best used with its own destroyer escort. Left alone it’s a ripe target for enemy bombers. Even though a destroyer might not be enough against the bombers, it will give your opponent pause because it could potentially cause more damage to the aircraft.
The USS Boise is a decent ship, especially for an uncommon, that fulfills its role adequately – attacking destroyers and cruisers. It has limitations, but a proper escort can lessen some of them.
MYŌKŌ – BACKGROUND
Cruiser Division 5
Battle of Java Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of Midway
Battle of Empress Agusta Bay
Cruiser Division 5 would participate in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, after which the Imperial Japanese Navy was in such a decrepit state the Myōkō was simply used as a floating battery. Though she survived the war, she would be scuttled soon after it.
MYŌKŌ – WAR AT SEA
With the historical rules you’re allowed to field up to four Myōkō-class cruisers, representing the Myōkō and her sister ships the Nachi, Ashigara, and Haguro. While it’s unlikely you’ll need that many for a standard or convoy scenario, it can be useful in major engagements.
The Myōkō seems to be fairly typical for a cruiser, having the standard armor of four, vital armor of nine, and three hull points. Yet the cost is extremely high, costing six more points than a comparable US heavy cruiser. Compared to the Tone, the Myōkō doesn’t seem worthwhile. However there are several subtle differences between the two heavy cruisers.
The Myōkō has a flagship rating of one, giving you a better chance of winning initiative and going second, which in turn allows you to see what your opponent’s fleet is up to. Going second is a significant advantage and one that you can use to redeploy your ships to capitalize on.
Like many Japanese ships, the Myōkō is adept at night fighting, granting it the Night Fighter ability. Re-rolling a gunnery attack can be fairly powerful, turning a miss into a hit, or even potentially destroying the target. Even if the ship is crippled, the ability gives the Myōkō at least a chance of still having a reasonable influence on the battle.
Perhaps one of the smallest yet most significant differences between the Myōkō and the Tone is the increase in torpedo values. An extra die at range one and two is actually fairly important. Not only does it increase the odds of a torpedo hitting, but it also means that if crippled the Myōkō, unlike the Tone, can still fire torpedoes at a reasonable distance. With the Long-Lance Torpedoes and increased dice, the Myōkō can be a significant threat to any surface vessel. Even battleships with torpedo defense still risk taking two damage per torpedo, and no ship in the game can take more than three hits from them.
Yet still, the Tone has the significant advantage of Scout Cruiser which seems to outweigh the advantages of the Myōkō. While the Myōkō has more base dice for its main gunnery, the Tone can simply use scout cruiser to achieve the same numbers. However, something to consider is that you don’t necessarily have to pick between the two ships and can field them both. In this case the Tone can also enhance the Myōkō’s dice. While in a standard game the Tone might be the better choice overall, the Myōkō can be useful as a second heavy cruiser in a major engagement. Even in a convoy scenario the Myōkō has the better raw firepower between its main gunnery and torpedo attacks.
Of course the Myōkō has several drawbacks as well. It’s fairly expensive especially compared to other cruisers, but just as easily destroyed. One hit from a torpedo will cripple it, and its air defense is below average making it a prime target. Like many capital ships, it works best with a destroyer escort, or at least some cover from aircraft. Since Japanese torpedoes out-range all other nations, it can be useful to hang back at long range and fire. You won’t get as many torpedo dice as being up close, but your opponent won’t be able to fire torpedoes and will have reduced gunnery dice, which may help the Myōkō to survive. Of course the choice is somewhat dependant on you winning initiative, which the Myōkō at least helps with. At the very least the ship’s torpedoes should act as a deterrent to your opponent closing in.
Opening Salvo #6
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