War at Sea: Flank Speed Opened First Case & Singles

I am pleased to share the results of opening my first case of Flank Speed with all of you. I am only missing 4 ships.  You may recall this is where I stood after purchasing 4+ cases of the previous set, Task Force, so this clearly is an improvement of distribution but more on that later.

I asked the owner of my FLGS to let me know when the new set arrived.  I received an instant message today alerting me to their arrival.  I left work on time, a rarity, and then drove the 29 miles in rush hour traffic to the store.  All in all the commute wasn’t bad lasting 45 minutes.

Paying $160 and change for the case, stupid sales tax increase, I cracked my case writing down what I received.  Additionally my singles from MiniatureMarket.com arrived today although my case, which I ordered several days before the singles, did not.  Interestingly enough I was informed that my singles would arrive near the end of this week and my case would arrive tomorrow.

Here are my pulls (Quantity then Name, in order by set number):

2 HMCS Sackville

2 Milan

0 Suffren

1 HMNZS Leander

1 HMS Belfast

1 HMS Prince of Wales

1 HMS Repulse

2 HMS Saumarez

2 Martlet Mk. II

1 SB2C Helldiver

1 USS Alaska

1 USS Arizona

2 USS Gunston Hall

1 USS Intrepid (I received 2 more as singles)

2 USS Kidd

1 USS North Carolina

3 USS Phelps

1 USS Richmond

2 USS San Diego

2 Gromkiy

0 Oktybraskaya Revolutsia

1 Kirov

1 Ju 88A-4

0 Prinz Eugen

1 Schleswig-Holstein

3 T27

2 U-47

1 Aquila

1 Gorizia

2 Guiseppe Garibaldi

3 Pegaso

2 Re. 2001 CB

2 A65M “Zeke”

1 Aoba

0 B6N2 “Jill”

0 Nagato

2 Oi

3 Shigure

1 Soryu

3 T1 Landing Ship

I’m amazed at the great distribution in this case.  I received 1 of almost everything in the set.  I’m surprised to have received so many T1 Landing Ships yet no Jills.  Luckily I have no repeats of rares.  This was not the case with Task Force so this has been a major improvement.

I think by and large the quality of the models has increased.  I have issues with some of them such as the Aquila where it is a poor cast.  Some of the ships still suffer from poor casting beneath their hull.  This has resulted in some ship names being indecipherable.  Both issues are still problematic enough to take into account.  However, I must stress that the quantity of these errors has greatly diminished compared to previous sets.  I’m not happy with how many faults exist but it has decreased.

I am generally happy with my first case.  I had to open 1/4 of my case before I got the Aquila, a ship I very much wanted, and I was a little crestfallen at pulling an Intrepid because I bought 2 singles of them.  It has a solid market value that I believe will soar.  That could allow me to recoup some losses.  Based on early singles market prices, which traditionally soar right before and as a new set is released and then slightly diminish yet remain strong over all, I believe that my pulls more than pay for the cost of my case.

I have one more case coming from MiniatureMarket.com and I will be doing a review of them based on my experience ordering the case and the singles as the two purchases are intwined.  I also will be purchasing one more case from my FLGS.  He only got two cases because Wizards would not allow him to purchase more.  He will have 6 more cases arriving the end of this week.

Without making this article too lengthy, I have a tendency to be loquacious, I want to remark on one special ability.  I need to preface this with a warning that I am strictly interpreting the SA, have no intention to exploit it, and have gotten into lengthy discussions of this with the kind people at the Axis & Allies ForuMINI (we have agreed to seek official clarification and agree to disagree until then).

The 25th unit in the set is the Schleswig-Holstein.  This WWI battleship served as flag of the Kriegsmarine at the start of WWII.  In the game it receives two special abilities but I will restrict myself to the one titled Early Deployment.  It says:

Early Deployment – This unit may deploy in any sector on your side of the map.  You may deploy one Cruiser or Destroyer in this unit’s sector.  Each unit deployed this way can’t claim an objective on turn 1 or 2.

That seems straight forward enough until you look at it more closely.  Wizards has repeatedly ruled that specific word choice means different things.  If an ability says “may” and not “must” then you are not required to do that action and can choose to ignore it.  I believe there is a problem with the last sentence in the special ability.  I believe Wizards has the intent of saying that units deployed in the manner described by the special ability cannot claim an objective on both turns 1 and 2.

As worded it uses the term “or” providing ambiguity.  One could argue, and I believe a rules lawyer could successfully argue, that units using the SA could choose to not claim an objective on turn 1 but then claim an objective on turn 2 or vice versa.  I think it is clear that Wizards does not wish for this to happen.  The ship, the Schleswig-Holstein (SH) costs 21 points, a paltry sum for a battleship, is only speed 1 and in general not that spectacular.  It would need to be priced significantly higher if Wizards intended players to have the choice of which turn, 1 or 2, to not claim an objective.  It just does not make sense.

I think we will see a rules clarification released for this ship because it may prove to be too powerful.  Imagine pairing up the Schleswig-Holstein, the Prinz Eugen (or other powerful cruiser) and the new submarine U-47.  The two surface ships deploy halfway up the map, but not in the neutral row, and the u-boat deploys in the neutral row.  You can dominate the objectives with your sphere of influence.  All of this for just 35 pts (excluding the cost of Prinz Eugen or other cruiser).  Insert the Koln as a third ship and it moves 2 spaces after deployment bringing more firepower near the objectives.  This rush tactic could be a tournament winner.

Perhaps instead you pair the Schleswig-Holstein with a destroyer like the Z18 Hans Ludemann up front and then plop a Graf Zeppelin (complete with 1 BF109 and 1 bomber or 2 BF109 for better air defense).  You can project surface power out 3 squares, have a potent anti-submarine warfare (ASW) component and then provide an offensive air wing.  The potential combinations are almost endless.

In closing I know a bunch of you will be eagerly awaiting my card scans for this set.  As soon as I have a complete set I will begin the digitization process and I promise it will not take as long to scan in Flank Speed as it did Task Force or the Base Set.  Hopefully I’ll complete the set tomorrow when my case from Miniature Market arrives.

Come back soon because I’ll have pictures of my pulls, of the booster box, and fleet builds.  Until then I wish you luck in your pulls.