|Opening Salvo: Pt. 2|
|Condition Zebra Set|
|by Rich Baker|
elcome to the next installment of our Condition Zebra preview! Condition Zebra is the third expansion of the Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures game, and is scheduled to release in June of 2010. Last week we looked at a pair of aircraft carriers. This week we move on to a pair of ships that introduce new nations to the game, the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga and the Finnish coastal defense ship Väinämöinen.
One of the newest ships in the Royal Hellenic Navy, Vasilissa Olga and her sister Vasilefs Georgios were British-built destroyers very similar to Britain's 'G'-class. When Greece fell to the Axis in the spring of 1941, Vasilissa Olga escaped to Alexandria, Egypt, and continued in the war. She fought for two years alongside the British Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and Red Sea. (Ironically, Vasilefs Georgios, sunk during the attack on Greece, was raised by the Germans and commissioned as the destroyer ZG3—the only major German surface combatant active in the Mediterranean.) Vasilissa Olga gave good service to the Allied cause but was lost during the ill-fated Allied attempt to retake the Dodecanese Islands in September of 1943, one of the last major German victories of the war.
Gameplay: Vasilissa Olga is a fairly typical destroyer with a good ASW value. Although she lacks the destroyer functions of sub-hunting and smoke screen, her Chase ability provides her with excellent speed early in the game, and Evade Bombs gives her a fighting chance against enemy air attack when operating outside friendly air cover.
Mounting battleship-weight guns on a hull not much bigger than that of a light cruiser, the Väinämöinen was an excellent example of the coastal battleship or coast defense ship. At the outbreak of World War II, she was one of the most modern examples of the type serving in any navy, having been completed in 1932. Armed with four 10-inch guns, she was the equal of any Soviet ship—her most likely adversaries— smaller than the old Gangut-class battleships. Along with her sister Ilmarinen she played a key role as a fleet in being during the Winter War, protecting the Aland Islands from attack. When Finland went to war again, Väinämöinen contributed gunfire support to fighting on the Hanko peninsula and guarded the German minefields bottling up the Soviet Baltic Fleet in Leningrad. She was eventually handed over to the Soviets as a war prize.
Gameplay: In effect, Väinämöinen is an Axis cruiser with extended range. She is not very durable, and the large caliber of her main battery is offset by the small number of guns. Her Coastal Deployment ability offers an interesting tactic: If you deploy her aggressively, her long-range guns can threaten sectors deep in your opponent's side of the map from very early in the game.
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