Escorts; small, fast, unarmed (mostly) and with armour like tissue paper – yet these ships are one of the best additions you can make to your fleet in Dystopian Wars.
Escorts are only deployed with either large or massive models, up to three of them. This applies to all large or massive models; some you may not think of (see below). These large or massive models are the “parent” model of the squadron and all craft are activated at the same time. This means they all move, shoot and assault together.
Escorts have a high speed value, normally 10-12 inches each activation; allowing them to easily keep pace with their larger parent vessel and even gain or lose distance during the activation – even running rings around their parent model. There is a danger with this though, sometimes you need to turn your parent ship and if you’re not careful your escorts will collide. A 2 hull point escort versus an 8-10 hull point battleship really is a one sided collision.
Currently escorts don’t mount any type of ordnance, except for Prussian escorts, but their real value is not attack; it is defense.
Any time during a Dystopian Wars game, you can link the fire of a single turret or single vessel with another turret/vessel in the same squadron (unless the squad is broken of course). Linking fire halves the number of Attack Dice for the second and each subsequent weapon – Escorts and their parent vessel instead Combine Fire, meaning they don’t halve their Attack Dice.
This means a Battleship with an AA (Ack-Ack) of 8, in a squadron with 3 escorts each having AA of 2, will have 14 dice to roll against Rockets, attacks from Flying models or Assaulting marines. This works similar to attacks from Torpedoes, swapping AA for CC (Concussion Charges).
So how do you get rid of these pesky little ships? A good tactic is to send in a 1-2 squadrons of Frigates to attack the escorts using Gunnery Ordnance (IE turrets, broadsides etc.). Your frigates will most likely be destroyed by the parent vessel but if they can remove the protecting escorts then they have done their job.
Don’t try to rely on your attack ship(s) rockets or torpedoes to destroy escorts as their parent vessel also protects them if their fired upon by this type of gunnery.
Another advantage of Escorts, away from the game board, is their price. After buying your naval starter set you only need to buy one blister of 6 Escort models and immediately you have double the number of models you need. After this it is a simple case of purchasing another large or massive model to use with the other 3
models – maybe a Dreadnought of something a little different (again, see below).
You can also do some interesting things with Escorts. The first is, to provide greater protection from air attacks, combine a parent model with escorts and a CAP (Combat Air Patrol). In this configuration you would not only gain the combined fire of all ships but also a squadron of tiny flyers as additional defence.
While escorts are great for naval vessels, what about flying or land craft? Through a quirk in the rules you can have escorts for these others as well.
As mentioned previously, Escorts are attached to large or massive models. Land Ships or the larger Sky Fortresses can have escorts attached to them, so long as the escorts remain within six inches of the parent model. Obviously a problem if a Sky Fortress decides to fly over land or a Land Ship moves away from the coast. The Washington Class land ship can overcome this by entering the water in amphibious mode. Be careful though, if you don’t measure your movement correctly you may end up with your escorts colliding with the beach.
I hope this article has convinced you about the value of these small and handy craft. Happy to read any comments below.