The 96th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the 2nd Battle of Rantemario take place. Reuenthal and Mittermeyer engage in a fierce battle with no sign of a winner. As further players arrive on the scene, the overall picture changes very little. Meanwhile, Grillpalzer seems caught in indecision and it costs him a close ally in the battle. Finally, Julian’s decision comes to have an effect on the battle and possibly much more.
The episode begins with the battle between Reuenthal and Mittermeyer having already started before shots had been fired. Reuenthal had planned on scattering defense lines throughout the Neue Land and eventually wearing down Mittermeyer’s fleet as they sought to retreat from Heinessen. This strategy relied on a 2nd front not being opened and competent men capable of deploying this strategy under him, which he hoped would be Bergengrün. Unfortunately for Reuenthal, Mittermeyer had moved his forces so quickly into the Neue Land that there was little time to prepare his strategy. Eventually, the encounter occurred at Rantemario, the same location Bucock had fought Reinhard.
The 2nd Battle of Rantemario got underway, and the two admirals were internally happy to be fighting someone else with great skill even if it was tragic that it had come to this. Mittermeyer had moved in quickly so as to minimize the loss of life in the battle, but his forces were outnumbered by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio. The pattern settled into one where Reuenthal would attack and Mittermeyer would defend, with the latter’s personal group of ships halting the former’s advance.
It is somewhat to Mittermeyer’s credit that he is patient enough to accept a stalemate at this point. He wants to minimize loss of life, but the opportunity to do so vanishes quickly.
The first shift in the tide occurred the next day with the arrival of Bittenfeld’s Black Lancers. Reuenthal could now see that Bittenfeld created an impressive appearance, but knowing that the former Fahrenheit fleet was just integrated into the Black Lancers, Reuenthal knew there would be weaknesses. Among these was the fact that as the battle involved Imperial ships only, there was confusion about targets. Bittenfeld tried to remind his men that they had a similar situation against the Lippstadts, but the men of the Fahrenheit fleet held him responsible for their leader’s death.
Even with Bittenfeld’s fleet, Mittermeyer was at a numeric disadvantage until Wahlen’s fleet arrived late in the 2nd day of the battle. Mittermeyer hoped to have an advantage in even numbers, but strange movement by Reuenthal’s personal unit caught Bayerlein in a trap. As he tried to escape, Bayerlein could only hope to persevere until Mittermeyer came to the rescue as their routes to retreat had been cut off. Fortunately, Mittermeyer arrived just as the situation was bleak for Bayerlein, and Reuenthal fell back.
A pattern begins to emerge at this point. As a new player enters, confusion reigns on both sides before settling back into the previous state. Had Reuenthal not had the numbers he did, it would probably be a different story.
After talking to Bayerlein about the incident, Mittermeyer set about finding weaknesses in Reuenthal’s subordinates, so he looked for the location of Knapfstein and Grillpalzer, who he did not know were planning on betrayal. Mittermeyer simply saw them as weak points and attacked them as such. He sent Holtzbauer in to attack Knapfstein, and he did so with high intensity. He had voluntarily transferred to Mittermeyer’s fleet so he could participate in this battle to get revenge for Lutz. Knapfstein’s unit did not fare well and broke formation trying to deal with the attackers. As he waited for Grillpalzer to order the mutiny, he ship was caught in the crossfire and death came quickly.
As Reuenthal and Grillpalzer seemingly shrugged off the news, the latter had an opportune time to turn on the former. However, his indecisiveness meant that Holtzbauer’s unit was quickly attacking them with the same venom they displayed before. The charge of Holtzbauer, however, created an imbalance in Mittermeyer’s formation which Reuenthal hoped to take advantage of by bombarding the Black Lancers. With his fleet in disarray, Bittenfeld ordered his fleet not to retreat. His words stating that a more glorious fate would await those who charged forward, Eugen’s decision to broadcast Bittenfeld’s order directly turned the tide. Led by Hofmeister, a vice admiral who had served under Fahrenheit, the two parts of the Black Lancers unified and began to charge forward without fear. As the situation turned on morale more than tactics, Reuenthal had to retreat aghast at the circumstances of his withdrawal.
On the 3rd day, both sides were caught in a stalemate. Reuenthal finally understood the strength of Yang in having to constantly face an enemy that seemed limitless in size. Mittermeyer, on the other side, did not want to see a stalemate either, but he could not afford to be reckless and had to wait for an opportunity.
On the 4th day, Bittenfeld’s fleet withdrew to reorganize having been in the middle of battle most of the time. Reuenthal saw an opportunity to attack Wahlen’s fleet in this window. With his fleet getting caught in the flames of energy streams, Wahlen also had his own ship fired on. After 2 direct hits, the ship was still standing, though Wahlen’s prosthetic arm was broken. He casually tossed the rest of it aside and continued that battle.
I just liked the look on the face of Wahlen’s subordinate like his commander had been heavily wounded. The fact that Wahlen shrugged it off as bad luck probably served to inspire the rest of his men.
After 30 hours of attempting that strategy, Reuenthal retreated to his previous position. Mittermeyer then went on the offensive by scattering smaller units in his defensive line and then breaking through. Grillpalzer was once again under assault here, and thought about betraying Reuenthal even going as far as asking for a line to Mittermeyer. However, his own fears of being enveloped restricted him to trying to counter Mittermeyer the best he could. Quickly, Reuenthal countered Mittermeyer’s move and enveloped one of his units that had broken away from the rest of the line. After that, the situation settled once again.
On the 6th day of the battle, Julian’s decision would finally have an impact. Reuenthal was informed that Mecklinger’s fleet was heading toward them from Iserlohn. Reuenthal could only state that Julian must be surrounded by smart men or the wisdom of Merkatz without acknowledging that Julian had made the decision on his own. As there was no longer any point in continuing the battle without being completely isolated, Reuenthal withdrew. Even as Mittermeyer, now commanding all 3 of the fleets on his own bombarded his enemy, Reuenthal had his ships retreat in a calm and composed fashion with minimal loss of life.
After the battle, Mittermeyer stood in front of his subordinates and stated that they would end this conflict before the end of the year. He ordered his fleet to chase Reuenthal in the hope of catching him before he reached Heinessen.
Thoughts: Reuenthal probably came out the best of the admirals on display here. He maintained order over a fleet that included men who intended to betray him and were incredibly weak when called upon. Grillpalzer’s indecisiveness probably kept him alive, but it definitely will not help him long term. On the return to Heinessen, I can see Reuenthal’s demoralized fleet being overwhelmed by Mittermeyer’s chasing fleet and Mecklinger’s fresh fleet. I do not see it lasting all that much longer.