Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tactica: Imperial Navy

++Fleet: The Imperial Navy++

Points of Power: 6+ prows on most ships, Prow Rams, Tons of torpedoes, Nova Cannons, tons of options.

Synergy of Abilities: 6+ prows+Prow Rams+torpedoes=powerful head on fleet.

Ships Using this Synergy: Retribution, Armageddon, Overlord, Dominion (BFG:R), Gothic, Lunar, Tyrant, Dictator, Dauntless, Endeavor, Defiant, Endurance.

Rationale: The way I think the Imperial Navy functions best is in the shield wall/torpedo shotgun method; some call it the steamroller or sledgehammer. Many people prefer using Nova Cannons with the IN fleet but I am not in favor of them. I personally like the redundancy of having almost all my ships armed with torpedoes so I can get close and shotgun them. Nova Cannon vessels will have to stay back to be of good use and I prefer not to divide my fleet. Also, I like of using the prow ram upgrade to give them batter ramming capabilities. The only ships that I will pay the points for 60cm range will be the lances that come stock on battlecruisers and battleships and the Emperor battleship (which I do not use often). Most of my choices come in pairs because the IN works best in pairs. I start with 2 Lunars as the core of my fleet. They are quite well-rounded and have proven to be very powerful when used well. After this, I usually add 2 Dictators, my favorite carriers. Dictators can reload their torpedoes and their launch bays with one reload special order and I really like that ability. Plus, they can smash something really hard point blank with their torpedoes, then hit it with bombers when their turrets are all used up. So far, I have 24 torpedoes, 8 launch capacity (on the Dictators) for fighter protection and bombers, and lots of close range firepower. This gives me a great base fleet. Other ships I like to use in this style of IN fleet are Retribution battleships (almost every game, especially with the BFG:R rules with 18 weapon batteries on each side), Armageddons (my favorite battlecruisers), Overlords (they are growing on me), Swords (very powerful escorts when used wisely), Cobras (just like the Swords), Dauntlesses (both variants), and Vengeances. Make sure you have a decent Admiral in this fleet (preferably ld 9) and 2-3 rerolls.

Generic Steamroller against a "basic" maneuverability type fleet:

Phase 1: Closing. Deploy in a shield wall (straight line of cruiser pointed directly at the enemy). My main tactic is to all ahead full right away to get as close as possible and use whatever long range dorsal lances I have to blast something important on my way up to the enemy fleet. Protect your Dauntlesses and escorts by keeping them behind your shield wall of ships.

Phase 2: When I can get close enough, I will most within 30cm, turn my ships in a way that will allow me to ram them next turn if they are in the way, and point blank shotgun them with torpedoes and bombers. If you set it up right, you will be able to torpedo things and have at least one of your broadsides available to shoot another target. Get your escorts into an advantageous position and remember that they can turn 90 degrees and turn before they move. You eventually want to be behind the enemy to avoid their shooting. Cobras can join in the shotgunning but be careful with them. Torpedo Dauntlesses too.

Phase 3: Breakthrough: Eventually, you want to smash your way into the middle of them, either by ramming your way through (ramming can do tons of damage) or moving into a gap in their fleet and utilizing both broadsides on them. By this time, you should have caused tons of damage.

List Building (things to consider):

-This type of IN strategy focuses on close range torpedoes and guns. There will often be times were you will need long range weaponry. If you are clustered, which much of the game will be, it is a good idea to have some long range weaponry. I think it is always good to make sure you have some 45cm guns (like on a Tyrant and some of the battlecruisers) and some 60cm guns (like on battleships and some battlecruisers). I like to have 2 battlecruisers and a battleship in most games and that amount of long range weaponry has been just the right amount. If you are facing Eldar using the original, non MMS rules, it becomes crucial to have long range weapon batteries. If you think this will be a possibility, I would consider a Retribution and a Tyrant or two.

-I find it very hard to leave home without some escorts. Yes, an entirely cruiser fleet is really durable, especially with a 6+ prow, but the IN fleet isn't the fastest fleet and certainly isn't the most maneuverable. Make sure you have some escorts, or at least some Dauntlesses. Trust me, you will need it. I like to have 4-5 Swords or Cobras lurking around, mostly Swords (especially when original rules Eldar may be an opponent).

-Dauntlesses. One of my favorite ships in the entire game. Especially in larger games, Dauntlesses get that much better. Here is why. When you have a lot of hefty targets to shoot at, Dauntnesses tend to go unnoticed. Some enemies will notice the Dauntlesses as easier victory points than regular cruisers (which they are) and go for them. Here is how I get the best out of Dauntlesses. First, when I am making a list of 1,500pts+, I ask myself, am I really light on lances? If so, I take 2 lance variant Dauntlesses to fill that gap. 2 locked on lance Dauntlesses can do a hefty amount of damage (4-5 hits on average) and tend to be a sneak attack when the enemy isn't looking. If you don't need more lances and you think you have that area covered, get the torpedo variant. 220 points for 12 torpedoes which you can launch in 1 wave (while base to base). 12 torpedoes can do tons of damage, especially because they ignore shields. What happens if you have 2 Lunars, an Armageddon, and 2 Dictators, all in a shield wall? Well, why not take the torpedo Dauntlesses anyways? Either variant can be used well but I am starting to prefer the torpedo variant over the lance variant myself nowadays. Here is how I use them. I keep the behind the main shield wall about 10cm or so back. If they are in range to be targeted, most likely the enemy have bigger problems to deal with. Also, they will have to pass a leadership test to target them. This makes them less likely to be targeted, and good thing with that 5+ prow (their main downside). For the torpedo variant, use their maneuverability to shotgun something like an escort squardon or some ship that needs more shotgunning than you can give them in that turn. For the lance variant, I usually keep them near the sides and will target the cruiser (most likely) that I am able to target with some of my ships' broadsides. I usually try to hit something near the side with my Retribution and I tend to target the same thing with the Dauntlesses lances. Conclusion: Dauntlesses are great, especially in bigger games and very small games (in which I recommend the torpdo variant).

-In any game above 1,000pts, I am going to be taking a battleship and for this style of list, the Retribution is my choice (Emperor is we aren't using BFG:R rules). The reason I like the Retribution so much is because it works well with this type of IN tactics; 6+ prow, huge weapon batteries on the sides (BFG:R), and 9 (!) torpedoes; the only real line battleship the IN has. With the Emperor, I tend to keep it back and shoot through the wall. Not the Retribution! I put it front and center. Why would I take a battleship over 2 cruisers? It really just comes down to 4 shields and it looks awesome. It is intimidating looking, tends to take a lot of fire, and the 4 shields help deal with the problem well. Regular cruisers have 2 shields which can come back once you move off of blast markers. A battleship has 4 and all 4 come back when you move off of blast markers. That's a lot of hits regained every turn. Try one out for a few games and you will see why this is so important and makes a battleship so difficult to kill.

-Squadron everything but your battleship. This will allow you to deal with a lower leadership cruiser if you happen to roll a low ld, and allow for turret massing and combined torpedo fire. Ultimately, you would like to get each squadron base to base on the turn you shotgun the enemy that first time so you can hit something with a strength 12 torp wave. This means less turret defense (because 2 waves of 6 can be each be shot at by turrets). A wave of 12 torpedoes isn't the best way to go if you are shooting from long range (which I do not recommend) because of 1 fighter or weapon battery shooting taking out the entire wave by itself. When you shoot a wave of 12 in a turn where you are in 30cm range and they hit before the enemy can react, combining waves is a good idea. When I go about list building with squardoning in mind, I like to pair two ships that, when added up, will have good weapon battery amount and good lance amount. Most of the time, I take 2 Lunars (good weapon battery total and 4 lances per side). Also, a Tyrant/Gothic combo works well (plus the bonus of added range from the Tyrant with the sacrifice of some firepower), Overlord/Gothic, Armageddon/Overlord, Armageddon/Armageddon, pairs of Dauntlesses of the same variant, etc. Also, 2 Dictators squadroned is one of my favorite units.

Thoughts from Horizon:
Other types:
"The Traditional Gothic List"
Emperor Class Battleship, Leadership 8 admiral.
2x Dominator Class Cruisers
2x Gothic Class Cruisers
Escorts (Swords / Cobra's)

A rounded well travelled fleet. Good AC and long range coverage from the Emperor. Good barrage under 30cm from the cruisers.

"The Vaaish Fleet"
Emperor Class Battleship, Leadership 8 admiral.
2x Vengeance Grand Cruisers
2x Lunar Cruiser (NC)
2x Torpedo Dauntless

This, in my opinion cool fleet, sprang forth from a great Imperial Navy discussion at Warseer:

In this fleet the Grand Cruisers and Emperor benefit from eachothers broadside weaponry and 5+ prow. If you like more Attack Craft the Excorcist CG is good option to replace the Vengeance. The torpedo Dauntless are picked to give it the typical IN torpedo supplement.

Escorts are great if used tactically well. Swords are great allrounders with good speed. Cobra's nifty speedy with a good torpedo punch, make sure to use the widowmaker upgrade. Falchions are an unique choice. Useful against AC heavy opponents with using 1 torp to thwart enemy waves.

Under official rules and the FAQ I disagree with (squadroning every ship but a battleship). The trouble of Bracing is a serious one. One ship needs to brace, the whole squadron is braced. Now when using two Lunars squadroning is adviced to maximize offensive power but when using Dominator/Gothic I advice on not squadroning them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Starting Battlefleet Gothic: BFG Rules and Fleet Basics

++Starting Battlefleet Gothic: BFG Rules and Fleet Basics++

Before you start Battlefleet Gothic (BFG), you should know a few things...
-BFG has a few sets of rules that are commonly used: 1. the GW rules listed on their website, 2. the 2010 FAQ rules (still unofficial), and 3. BFG:R is a revised set of rules (also unofficial). I, personally, like BFG:R the best (I think it is the most balanced, interesting, and supported), and also FAQ 2010/2010 Compendium (I don't like it as much but it tends to be the most widely used). For full disclosure, I am a supporter of BFG:R and believe in the project. However, I do not have a say in the rules. That being said, most of my comments below apply to all 3 rules systems. If there are specific comments that need to be made for one of them specifically, I will mention it.

Game Phase Basics:

Movement: The movement phase in BFG is amazingly important, not just for getting in range and out of range of ships you want to avoid, but setting of the night firing arcs (which makes a huge difference in this game). Firing on a closing ship with your weapon batteries is WAY more powerful than if the enemy ship is abeam (of has its side) to you. Also, range matters. Over 30cm and you are long range; under 15cm, you are close ranged. This makes a big difference. Getting the right positioning to hit the enemy from the most advantageous point and being in a place where the enemy either has to move and shoot you from a bad angle or have to use a special order to hit you at a good angle (which reduces their firepower) is a huge part of the game. Many fleets, as you will see below, are much more maneuverable than others. This is a huge advantage. Understanding how to use the movement phase to your advantage takes time and is one of the challenges of the game. Also, this is the phase where you can "disengage ships" that are on the verge of destruction. Knowing when to get your vessels out of there before they go boom is an important judgment call. Ramming also takes place in this phase, with some fleets excelling at it and others needing to avoid it like the plague.

Shooting: After moving your ships, you get to fire your weapons at the enemy. Determining which ships should be fired at, with what weapons, and in which order, are important decisions. Most will recommend firing your weapon batteries before firing your lances (as would I). Having a variety of weapons in your fleet is usually a good idea because some weapons work poorly against some fleets (weapon batteries against Space Marines and Necrons, for example). Knowing when to try to get an enemy ship to brace for impact (thereby reducing their shooting against you the next turn), allocating enough firepower to cripple the enemy ship (permanently reducing its capabilities and earning you victory points), or going for the all out kill (obviously ending its shooting at you and earning you full victory points for the ship) are tough decisions and you will need to learn how to weight the benefits and drawbacks.

Ordinance: This phase is where you will be able to utilize your torpedoes, fighters, bombers, assault boats (bomber sized boarding vessels), and more. This phase becomes a mini-game within the game (which is amazing). Bombers and assault boats can do tons of damage to enemy ships but are vulnerable to enemy fighters (even more so in BFG:R where fighter squadrons can kill more than a 1:1 ratio of bombers and assault boats). When planning a fleet, you will have to consider how you will defend against ordinance; it is a necessity for having a powerful (or even decent fleet). When a ship is attacked by bombers, assault boats, or torpedoes, it can use its turrets to try to kill some of the ordinance off before it is hit by them. Some fleets have a low level of available ordinance but high levels of turrets. Be mindful of this when making your fleet list and make sure you have a way of defending against at least average ordinance.

End: In the end phase, a few different things can/do occur. First off, boarding actions can happen when you are in contact with an enemy ship. Many fleets have great boarding and some have very poor boarding. Make sure you remembering the possibility of being boarded. Another thing that can happen during the end phase is teleport and hit-and-run attacks. These attacks are basically the equivalent of mini boarding where you are either teleporting or deploying troops onto the enemy ship. This will mainly kill the smaller escort class ships or cause damage to larger ships, mainly in damaging their weapon systems. Also, blast markers (which mark explosions and debris on the battlefield) will be removed following the black marker removal rules. Finally, critical damage (damage to weapon systems, etc.) can be repaired in this stage.

Primary Factions: 
(all of these are written in my personal opinion and it is worth getting as many experienced opinions as possible. Names of fleets that are clickable will lead to tactics articles on that fleet.)

Imperial Navy (IN): The main strength in the IN fleet is their heavily armored prow and the amount of torpedoes they being to bear. They also have the capability of wielding the long range Nova Cannons. The IN has tons of options and is one of the most commonly played fleets. The weaknesses of the IN are that they are relatively slow, have average leadership, and boarding.

Chaos: Chaos are extremely well armed, are relatively quick, and have lots of long ranged weapons, especially on their broadsides. They have the capability of bringing lots of launch craft to bear to complement their long ranged weaponry. They have lots of options was well and are able to make a very capable head on fleet or a side-strafing fleet that focuses on broadsides (my personal choice). They are one of the two most played fleets. The weaknesses of the Chaos fleet are their lack of torpedo carrying ships (they have a couple) and only average armor all around.

Space Marines (SM): The Space Marine fleet is one of the most durable fleets in BFG, with mostly 6+ armor all around. They also have Bombardment Cannons (kind of like a mixture of weapon batteries and lances), and their torpedo ships can all fire boarding torpedoes (which is really nice for incapacitating ships and destroying escorts). They are fast, reasonably maneuverable, and have the highest leadership possible. Also, they have Thunderhawk Gunships which are great fighters and can also be used as assault boats. Their weaknesses are a major lack of lances, usually a smaller amount of ships, and Thunderhawks are the only launch craft you get and they are somewhat slow. As a side note, FAQ 2010 and BFG:R provide bonuses for whichever chapter you chose to be, which I think is a really nice touch.

Adeptus Mechanicus (AdMech): The AdMech fleet is essentially a more expensive and limited IN fleet but each cruiser/battleship comes with an extra lance and each ship gets an upgrade from the AdMech ship upgrade list. Depending on the rules list you are using, the upgrades may be random (BFG regular, FAQ 2010) or purchaced (BFG:R). This is the fleet that should focus on long range and Nova Cannons. Every cruiser has an additional 60cm(!) lance on top and they have the highest possibility for Nova Cannons. These facts combined and having a 6+ prow make for a great front facing, long ranged fleet. Not to mention, they have pretty high leadership. Their weaknesses are in their price (even more in BFG:R), their randomness (only in BFG regular and FAQ 2010), and their very low number of ships.

Corsair Eldar (CE): Of the Eldars, CE have the most options. Most players have abandoned the original Eldar rules in favor of the MMS rules, which balance out the Eldar fleets verses other fleets (they used to be terrible against some, awesome against others). CE have great weaponry and launch craft. They are amazingly fast and highly maneuverable. Every weapon they have is better than the normal version. CE fleets should be escort heavy because of how amazing they are. A common fleet will have 1 Void Stalker, 1 Aurora, and all escorts after that. Their weaknesses are that their guns are short ranged, almost always shoot only in the front arc, they are fragile, and are dependent on the sun for their speed (which makes it a little harder to maneuver).

Craftworld Eldar (CWE): CWE are very similar to CE in that they have the same weaponry besides a few things (Phantom Lances as opposed to Pulsar Lances). The MMS CWE are much more widely used (from what I can tell). Most people believe that they are best used as a balanced fleet with some escorts thrown in there (the only type they can have), some Wraithships (used with lances and torpedoes is a popular configuration), a Dragonship or two, and a Void Dragon/Flame of Asuryan. They have pretty good leadership and some nice upgrades you can get (not to mention the not so often used Ghostships). Their weaknesses are about the same as the CE but they also only have 1 type of escort (two really).

Dark Eldar (DE): DE are much like the CE and CWE lists except they do not have solar sails (and are therefore not dependent on the sun's facing), have Impalers (which are great), have leach torpedoes (which some like), have mimic engines (which vary depending on the rules set), and have only a couple ships which each have different gun options (more choices added in the BFG:R list). Their weaknesses are much like the other Eldars; they are fragile with great firepower so they must be cautious how and when they attack.

Orks: Orks are durable on the prow, have random firepower for many of their guns (may be weak or may be very powerful), can have a whole bunch of torpedoes, have ram ships, have fighter-bombers, and can automatically go on all ahead full special orders. Their weaknesses include very low leadership, slower (but automatic) all ahead full, and fragile afts.

Tau (Forgeworld and Specialist Games Tau): Tau fleets have above average prow armor and mostly front facing weapons, which makes them a great head on fleet. Generally, Tau like to close slowly because they have the fastest torpedoes in the game and their torpedoes are amazingly accurate because they can turn every turn. Their bombers are great and their ordinance capabilities are awesome. Mainly, their drone-controlled torpedoes are their selling point. Their weaknesses are they have relatively lower hit points, are awful at defending against boarding actions, and have less than average broadside capabilities. Side note: ordering Tau ships for Forgeworld is usually cheaper than ordering the pewter ones from Games Workshop and, in my opinion, are much better looking with similar rules.

Tyranids: Tyranids are highly evolvable. They have a couple different ship types which can be armed with a bunch of options. They have the capability to have a massive amount of assault boats and fighters on the table. Their weapon batteries and lances are better than the standard versions (though mostly with lower range). Tyranids also have amazingly high boarding values and can overwhelm enemies quickly. Their weaknesses are their spore clouds (instead of shields), low weapon range, "all is lost" (enemies can chose to self-destruct when they are boarded), synaptic control, and mandatory hive ships (pretty much).

Necrons: Necrons; the "overpowered" fleet. Necrons have amazing firepower, with most of their guns being better than the usual type. They are the most durable fleet in the game (arguably), are able to repair better than most, can destroy ordinance well without fighters, are able to disengage at will, and have an amazingly powerful all ahead full special order. Their weaknesses are the lack of ordinance (they have none), no shields (kind of made up for by their auto-brace for impact), and their PUNISHING victory point chart. Necrons are overpowered if you do not use the victory point chart that is build to counter-balance them.

Secondary Factions:
(I consider these secondary factions because they are either very small or are meant to be added onto other fleets)

The Inquisition: The Inquisition list adds 2 ships that can be used with Imperial Navy ships (Blackship and Inquisitorial cruiser). There are some benefits to using this list, mainly the Inquisition upgrades that can be taken with an Inquisitor. There really aren't weaknesses to this list other than it costs points to use the upgrades. Side note: the Inquisitorial cruiser is amazing. It's like a cruiser sized Strike Cruiser.

Rogue Traders: Rogue Trader fleets are similar to IN and Chaos fleets but each ship have different technology upgrades that can be taken. They can take ships from IN and Chaos lists and have a whole bunch of upgrade possibilities.

Demiurg/Kroot: Demiurg have laser technology that are over-charged by the energy of blast markers. They have powerful front armor and lots of firepower. They are fragile as far as hit points goes, and need to be careful to not get overwhelmed.

Space Marines Fleets: 6

I have been hammering away at the Carcharodon fleet. I finally have all the models built and primed. I am just starting to get to work on painting the cruisers. I have the escorts done.

Carcharodon battle barge and one of the touched up Raptors strike cruisers. I cut the side antenna off of the side wings of the Desolator and I think it looks that much better and matches the pre-heresy Strike Cruisers much more. Notice, I had to sand off the Chaos stars on it. 

More of the Carcharodon fleet is there plus some more goodies I have to work on. I am hoping to get another torpedo Dauntless to match the one shown and I am dying to paint the Blackstone Fortress. The battle barge is missing a piece but I will make it work. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Space Marine Fleets: 5

Some updates on the Space Marine fleets:
-Resin casting is really hard. First mold making attempt went to crap after forgetting to use mold release. You can imagine how that went... Plus, the SM Strike Cruiser is just a difficult model for casting anyways. I eventually got a good mold but the casts will need a lot of touch up to look nice.
-The touch ups on the Raptors strike cruisers got so tedious, I had to take a break for a while; that, combined with my "Research Methods in Counseling" summer class.
-I have the Carcharodon Strike Cruisers casted, touched up, converted a few, and now based and ready to be primed.

I put the "Hunters" in there for a size comparison but they are also a sneak peak at the color scheme; not that you can see it all that well in this splendid picture.... All the green spots on the Strike Cruisers are, you guessed it, liquid green stuff for bubble filling. The way I made the mold for them wasn't the best and the result was some areas of bubbled in the model. Notice the ones on the top right with their launch bays on the sides.
-The Battle Barge for the Carcharodons is on the way so it looks like I will be finishing these guys completely before moving to the Raptors. All I need to do is assemble and base it, prime the BB and the cruisers, and then speed paint them. I need to pick up some varnish to finish these guys off after I paint them. Should happen soon! I am dying to use these guys in battle.
-I have the models for the Red Corsairs but I am going to take a crack at some lists with them and see how it goes.

Internet Battle 1.8: Turn 5

The fleets collide and leave massive damage upon their enemy.

Imperial Navy:
The Mars and Exorcist reload their ordinance.
The Lunars lock on.
The Dauntlesses fail their lock on roll and use a re-roll. They fail the second time as well.
All ships advance.

-The Retribution fires into Carnage 2 causing 4 hits: 2 shields and 1 damage is braced. 1 damage to the hull.
-The locked on Lunars fire on the braced Carnage 2 and cause a massive 6 damage, turning it into a blazing hulk! Acheron 2 has 1 shield knocked down.
-The port broadside guns of the Lunars fire upon Devastation 2. The shooting takes down 2 shields and does 2 damage to the hull.
-The Dauntlesses cause 3 total damage to Acheron 2 taking the second shield down and causing 1 hull damage.
-The Mars and Exorcist shoot at Carnage 1 knocking 2 shields down.

-The Lunars fire their torpedoes separately at the Desolator: 1 wave (from the crippled Lunar) is destroyed by the fighters, the other wave of 6 lose 2 to torpedoes and miss with the rest. 
-The Mars and Exorcist launch 4 assault boats and 6 bombers towards Carnage 1 and Acheron 1.

The Devastations reload.
The Desolator locks on.

-Carnage 2 moves forward 12 centimeters and continues to blaze.
-Carnage 1 runs into the assault boat wave killing 0 of them with turrets. Starboard weapons damaged, nothing, nothing, and engine room damage.
-Carnage 1 and Acheron 1 shoot the mars. Take 2 shields down and 1 hull damage.
-The Desolator shoots Lunar 2 with its batteries. Takes 2 shields down, 2 hull damage, and 1 is braced.
-The Desolator shoots Lunar 2 with lances. Braces 3 of 4 damage.
-The Devastations shoot Lunar 2. 1 hull damage.
-Acheron 2 shoots Lunar 2 and causes 2 hull damage after 1 is braced. Drifting hulk!

-The Desolator fires its torpedoes at the Retribution and causes 2 hull damage and gets the engine room damaged critical (another 1 damage and cannot turn).
-The Devastations launch 2 fighters: 1 on CAP on Devastation 2 and 1 on CAP on the Desolator. 6 bombers attack the Retribution causing only 1 damage.
-All 6 Imperial  bombers engage Carnage 1 causing 2 damage.
-Carnage 1 repairs its starboard weapons.

(Lunar 2 drifted forward 12cm after these pictures were taken. I wanted to get that out of the way so you can plan your tactics differently if need be)

Off in the distance, the Mars and Exorcist battle Carnage 1 and Acheron 1.

At the end of the turn, 2 cruisers are wrecked and the damage is high. The Retribution and the Desolator are within arms reach.

Here is a better view to see the special orders dice. Acheron 2 was barely able to shoot Lunar 2 with starboard weapons. 

It is difficult to see, but there is a fighter squadron on the Desolator and another on Devastation 2 (the left one).

Ready for turn 6 orders!