Friday, 15 June 2012

Dystopian Wars: Empire Review - The Hachiman Dreadnought

Time to review the remaining 2 units in the ‘Large’ category for the Empire of the Blazing Sun
- Hachiman Class Dreadnought
- Tsukuyomi Class War Gyro
These reviews are as much for me as they are for any of you guys.. the Empire/Japanese have been out for a long time in Dystopian Wars and all the veteran players know everything (and more) that I am about to say. But I hope these reviews are useful for someone taking up the game recently or who is new to the Empire of the Blazing Sun.
Today we will look at a ship that I really want to be cool and useful…but just isn’t, in my opinion, especially when compared to other nations Dreadnoughts:

The Hachiman.
Does anyone remember Thundercats? Wasn’t the Samurai archetype dude called Hachiman? This ship is somewhat different.
Steel and might.

 It clocks in at a whopping 235 points (for reference we play 1000ish point games!) – for these kind of points you expect serious bang for your buck. Let’s examine the basics – it is slow, moving at just 6” per turn, but this is in line with other naval behemoths. It has 12 AP on board, making it very solid at assaulting/boarding other vessels..when it eventually gets there! Remember, just because the weapons may be gone on a ship this size due to damage, the AP will be intact (barring Raging Fire critical hits) and can be used in a very aggressive manner. It has a good Ack Ack to gun down incoming Rockets and enemy fighters and a very reasonable 7 CC to stop Torpedoes and submarines.

In terms of special rules, the Hachiman can make a ‘sharp turn’ much like the rest of the Japanese fleet, minimising some of the impact of that low move value, bringing guns to bear with greater ease. That boarding prowess is further improved by the ‘dash and elan’ rule, adding +1 dice when boarding, throwing a potential 13 dice at the enemy in a boarding action. Next up we have the ‘Iron Ram’ rule, halving the incoming attack dice when the Hachiman rams a ship. Nice. Finally, of course, no Empire ship would be complete without the ‘Incendiary Rounds’ rule for the rockets, adding a Raging Fire token for each hit that passes through the hull of the enemy..killing off an AP point unless fixed every turn.

Survivability then. The Hachiman has 10 Hull Points, able to sustain 10 points of damage before death, with a Damage Rating of 7 and a Critical Rating of a whopping 13 (this means the enemy must equal or beat these values in order to cause corresponding damage), combined with an equipped Shield Generator, this can make the Hachiman rather tough. That said, it just takes one Critical Hit and a snake eyes roll to remove any model from the matter how tough.

That said, with a high Critical Rating and plenty of HP and shield, plus good Ack Ack and Counter measures the Hachiman is pretty tough.

Conversely, it is offensively that the Hachiman doesn’t stand up to other dreadnoughts. Above the Sokotsu, the battleship of the Japanese fleet, the Hachiman gains an additional gunnery turret, giving it (when played at a tight angle to the target) access to 3 turrets, linking for just 5 shots are RB4, but with a mighty 9 Rockets at this distance. The Rockets and additional turret are superior, with the Rockets having 2 shots more than the Sokotsu at all Range Bands (RB). The Gunnery turrets become very good at RB3 down to 1, where they can combine to damage medium targets or crush smalls (RB3) or from RB2 -> RB1 they can really put a pounding on units. If, for some reason/by some miracle, your gunnery was untouched, the Hachiman could link all 3 turrets for a mighty 25 Attack Dice (AD) unstoppable attack against most targets! However, that’s all well and good except that the Gunnery AD will be reduced by some damage. No ship can really just sail up to the enemy fleet and get into RB1 firing range without sustaining some damage, especially one that only moves 6” a turn! Indeed, it is also worth considering that the Primary Guns will be hitting on 5’s in RB1…so are not as effective.

The Hachiman has some reasonably strong torpedoes, again most effective in RB1, but it does then have a major disadvantage – it has no Broadsides. These instead have been replaced with Mines, Aft Mines that can be pooped out behind the Hachiman as it trundles up the coast. Trundles is, of course, the wrong word…but you get my meaning.

Lets compare the Federated States of America’s Enterprise Class Dreadnought for offensive and defensive capability. You see, the Hachiman is not that bad a ship on its own..and will put some serious hurt on other fleets, soak up some damage and, whilst a points sink, can increase the overall survivability of the rest of the fleet. However, the Sokotsu does almost the same job and is 55 points cheaper. You can realistically fit 2 Sokotsu’s into a fleet without compromising the balance of the fleet..

Then we have the issue that the Hachiman simply doesn’t hang with the other Dreads we may come across as enemies of the Empire. The Enterprise, to me, seems an excellent example of a Dreadnought.. so let’s compare.
They have the same Hull Points, the same Critical Rating, but the Yank Dread has a point higher Damage Rating (8:7), making it tougher to damage. The Yank ship can also buy 2 Shield Generators, giving it 4 dice to defend shots with, compared to the 2 dice the Hachiman gets. Doubly effective, for 45 points more than the Hachiman. The Hachiman does have 7:5 on the Concussion Charges (defensive depth charges/counter measures) compared to the Enterprise, giving it an edge here, totally negated by the Shield generator dice of the FSA’s Enterprise.
Offensively is where the difference lies. The FSA Dreadnought has the same Gunnery turrets in number only, they are TWICE as strong at RB4, superior by 2 points in both RB3 & 2, then only 1 point lower in RB1. A far superior turret.
Rockets. The hachiman has a mighty 9 in Rb4 (where rockets are typically the most effective), whereas the Yank ship has 8….BUT has 2 banks of them! Giving it either 8 dice against 2 targets OR 12 Rockets at RB4!
Both Dreads have the “Dash and Elan” rule and the “Iron Ram” to assist in Ramming and Boarding actions. Both are manoeuvrable in different ways, the Enterprise able to pivot on the spot to bring its guns to bear, the Hachiman able to turn immediately when moving, able to swim through tight angles.

Stronger defence, far superior offence.. only 45 points more than the Hachiman.. The FSA’s Enterprise leaves the Empire’s big fish limping in the shadows. Not a favourable comparison at all. The Enterprise is a good boat, the Hachiman is too and whislt it is useful to compare like for like, there are elements of the Japanese fleet that can make up for it, I think if you want to run the Hachiman there is a niche for it, but if you are in a war of escalation (in your toy soldiers) with your local playing group…you may find that you leave the Hachiman on the shelves when the other players reach in their case and pull out their Dreadnoughts.. time to call in the Squid for Dread killing duties..


  1. Interesting thoughts on the dreadnought. Maybe in larger games it may be worth upgrading a battleship to a dreadnought.


    PS. The first line says the War Gyro was going to be reviewed as well. Will that review be coming soon ?

  2. Hey Rathstar, yeah the review was getting a bit long, the Tsukuyomi will be done on Sunday..

    In bigger games ut may be worth taking, but a second sokotsu does the job cheaper and better in my opinion

  3. Its inaccurate to say the Mines replace the Broadsides, consider instead the third turret replace the Broadsides, which compared to the Sokotsu this gives it a better "broadside" attack, 2 13/8/6/3 or 19/12/9/4 (rounding down), not even considering the third turret (which probably brings it up to 25/16/12/5 on a broadside, that enough to break the CR of a Frigate at RB4). Sokotsu does 13/8/6/3 plus 8/7/5/2 (plus the rockets are at -2 AD). Overall it has a slight increase in damage in all areas over a Sokotsu, plus the mines. It seems like it would be completely devastating to targets directly ahead as it has the best Ram Attack in the game (tied with Moskva), 2 main turrets and solid Torpedoes. Because of the way that damage works 2 turrets that can link fire is better than 3 turrets that cannot, against tougher targets with high DRs anyways. This makes it better at killing other Dreadnoughts and tough ships. Your Enterprise comparison also missed the Enterprise does not have Incendiary, a very valuable tool for killing AP and thus boarding enemy ships. Its the cheapest Dreadnought and has a built in Generator. I just don't think its that bad. And Hachiman is the Japanese God of War (not to be confused with Bishimonten the God of Soldiers).