Ship Assessment – Secutor Class Cruiser

Good Morning Admirals,

Welcome to the second article assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Dindrenzi fleet that comes as a part of the Battle for Valhalla boxed game and how you can work them into a solid list. This article will cover the Secutor Class Cruisers, one of the core components of any self respecting Dindrenzi admiral!

Ships of this tonnage tend to form the bulk of most fleets, both fictional and real, and as such command a great weight of importance in any fleet. They are the workhorses, the ships that will win you the game the majority of the time. They do not have the massive destructive potential of a Battleship or a Dreadnought but they have a number of advantages over these ships which we will cover during the course of this article.

The first thing to notice about a Cruiser compared to a higher ship class is the cost. They are cheap. Three Secutor Class Cruisers with the Secured Bulkhead MAR is still 5 points cheaper than a bare Praetorian and at their optimum range band are putting out just as much firepower if they link their shots. This means that in the early game a squadron of Cruisers can go toe to toe with a Battleship and still hold their own, especially as a Battleship is likely to be focusing on their own targets of equal weight. However, this strength in numbers can be easily broken as I’ll cover in the weaknesses later in the article.

One of the primary strengths of the Secutor beyond its relatively cheap cost is the flexibility it possesses. It is a fast, relatively nimble ship capable of a 9” move and with only a 1” turn limit meaning that she can quite happily do a 180 degree turn if she really needs to. She also has strong firepower in the fore, starboard and port facings as well as a nominal aft fire arc to see off any opportunistic Frigates or Corvettes which might have tried to loop around behind. She carries 4 mines, meaning that a squadron can lay down quite a sizeable area of dangerous space as well as take the Secured Bulkheads MAR to defend against any errant boarders that might try to take her out of the game. This means that the Secutor is, in my eyes, best used as a midrange support ship, moving up in the early game to maximise the squadron’s firepower before damage starts to accumulate while supporting other areas of the fleet by using the mines and inherent mobility to keep threats away from your true damage dealers.

However, such a ship cannot be relied on to take a large amount of punishment and the squadron’s effectiveness can very quickly plummet if not looked after. Just a couple of points of hull damage and your Point Defence rating has dropped to 1, your Gun Racks are 1/2 to 2/3 the level of effectiveness they started at. This has a huge knock on effect to the linked fire of the squadron and can effectively nullify the contributions of a ship without taking it out of the game (at which point it is probably worth FSDing it out of play to deny it to the enemy). Clever players can more than half the damage output of the squadron without ever destroying a ship or they can focus on them one at a time, seriously dropping the number of dice per turn through either option.

So, my recommendations for the Secutor would be to take at least one squadron of 3 in every fleet. They are great all-rounder support ships that, if looked after, can punch well above their weight. At optimum range the rail guns are putting out 16 attack dice if the squadron links fire. On a slightly above average roll that can put critical hits on Battleships and on an average roll is going to annihilate a smaller craft. But, they are quite fragile so make sure to keep them covered. Use scenery where possible to either hide or interfere with incoming shots. A Battleship lining up in the open against one is getting somewhere in the double figures of attack dice. If you can half this by having an asteroid field in the way it just might make all the difference.

I would make their main use a supporting role, offering fire support and eliminating emergent threats to your main damage dealers. If you’re running a Praetorian in a similar set up to the one I described in the previous post these guys make the perfect snipers, taking out other cruisers that are closing in to unleash broadsides or combine a boarding action of their own against the Speartip.

If you have any other ways of running the Secutor then let me know in the comments! Always open to new tactics 🙂

Until next time,

Matt

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Ship Assessment – Praetorian Battleship

Good Morning Admirals,

While I was originially going to post up some articles about my unboxing of the Battle For Valhalla set today, I haven’t managed to take any pictures for it and would rather show you guys what it really looks like rather than just describe it! So instead, today kicks off a set of articles looking first at the Dindrenzi and then the Terran ships found in the Battle For Valhalla Boxed Set, analysing their strengths and weaknesses and look at what you could do with it as a way of forming the centre of a new fleet!

First, let us start with the Big Bad of the Dindrenzi fleet; The Praetorian Battleship. Clocking in at 200 points it is the most expensive battleship the Dindrenzi has access to at present, 20 points more than the Nausicaa or Conqueror. So, why the difference in points values? First let us look at the similarities; all 3 have identical damage and critical ratings, an impressive 6 and 12 respectively, and 10 hull points. These ships do not go down easy, following the traditional Dindrenzi design philosophy of strapping big plates of metal around a gigantic rail gun. All 3 also have a respectable point defence rating of 6 which, if combined with nearby escorts, makes them a tough nut to crack with torpedoes or boarding assaults. This is pretty much where the similarities end though, and I believe that the Praetorian is intended to fulfil a very different battlefield role to traditional Dindrenzi battleships.

The major difference that stands out for me is that the Praetorian has an assault value of 8, 3 more than the Nausicaa or Conqueror and a considerable number of the upgrades available to her push this as a defining characteristic. For example, for a modest 20 points you can add +2 AP, the Launch Tubes MAR and the Assault Blitz MAR. She also has a reduced strength Kinetic Weapon offset by the boosted strength of her Gun Racks, twin torpedo systems rather than a single higher value system and 2 wings of SRS which are upgradable to a total of 5.

All of this adds up to creating, in my opinion, an up close assault carrier rather than the more established mid range fire base. Close quickly on the highest value enemy ship you can find laying down Targeted Strikes to reduce the crew count to make a capture more likely followed by the Point Defence Network while using the twin torpedo systems to take out escorts and nearby frigates and this beast will easily board, and possibly even capture, most Dreadnoughts. Plus, in addition to the naturally high DR and CR ships you also have the added bonus of the Reinforced MAR (Starboard/Port) meaning that this ship is less vulnerable to Critical Hits in the sides when it gets up close and personal.

Another element of the ships design that supports this is the manoeuvrability the ship possesses. When I first looked at the ship the movement statistic didn’t make a lot of sense. Why would a close range assault ship move slower than the longer range sniper ship? Then I noticed the turn limit of the Praetorian. With the current turning rules the Praetorian can perform a 90 degree rotation in a single movement phase compared to the 45 degrees of the other battleships in the Dindrenzi fleet. Admittedly you can increase the mobility of the Nausicaa and the Conqueror but it costs you between 5 and 10 points to achieve the 90 degree turn. This means the Praetorian can even go after smaller, more nimble craft like Cruisers and still keep them in its sights for either a Kinetic attack or a boarding assault. In addition to this, it allows it to much more easily get back in the fight after delivering a boarding party. The prizes you are likely to want to board tend to be towards the mid-rear of the enemy fleet; Carriers, Dreadnoughts and Battleships. This means that most of the enemy ships are likely behind you by the time you deliver your payload so the sooner you can turn to bring your guns to bear again the more effective you are going to be.

So, we’ve established the strengths of the Praetorian but what about its weaknesses? While we can see that the Praetorian is a more mobile ship than her sister battleships in the Dindrenzi fleet, the Sons of Ignatius aren’t well renowned for their ability to turn and face. This means that the Praetorian may not be able to react to the exceptionally nimble ships of races like the Aquan where a 90 degree turn in a battleship is possible before even considering that you can add 2” to their movement and -1” from their turn limit (yes, an Aquan battleship really can do a 180 degree turn). This is not insurmountable but does place a lot of importance on the Dindrenzi admiral thinking ahead and carefully considering the order of activation.

One of the other weaknesses is one that is characteristic of the Dindrenzi; Ablative Plating. This MAR is there to represent the way the Dindrenzi build their ships, incredibly tough outer plating around the core. But, once this plating has been compromised their ships are far more vulnerable to attack than, for example, a Sorylian ship. This means that while the Praetorian can take a lot of punishment, if it comes under intense and sustained firepower due to being left isolated or if it has been kept in the open it will start to suffer badly because once that CR of 12 drops you begin to lose multiple hull points and gain hazard markers, both of which can spell the end of your plucky battleship. The best way to overcome this is, I think, to give it support. Make the Praetorian the “Spear Tip”, give it 3 escorts and a squadron of frigates and you’ll be ok. Identify threats early and use your Destroyer or Cruiser squadrons to eliminate these while the Spear is launched at the high value target. You can also choose to use a hardpoint to reinforce the superstructure of the Praetorian, removing the Ablative Plating MAR for 10 points and in some cases this may be worthwhile but my initial instinct is to keep her dedicated to purpose and take the upgrades to AP, number of SRS wings and the Launch Tubes for that really decisive boarding action.

Finally, let’s look at how I would build out my Praetorian to be the centre point of a Patrol Fleet. I have included a points breakdown as all this information is available freely on the Spartan Games website but if asked I will remove it.

  • Praetorian Battleship (DSN Vengence) 200pts
  • +2 AP +5pts
  • +3 Wing Capacity +5pts (with 5 assault craft wings +25pts)
  • Launch Tubes MAR +5pts
  • Assault Blitz MAR +10pts
  • 3 Retarius/Buckler Escorts +45pts

Total points cost: 295 points

This does make her quite pricey, particularly for a Patrol fleet but you could easily drop some or all of the Escorts and use a squadron of Frigates to keep her safe during the Spear. But it buys you a very tough battleship with good all round shooting capability at most ranges but best at under 24” with the added bonus of 10 assault points spread over 5 wings of assault craft that can activate the turn they are launched and halves the number of Point Defence attacks the target can make! This makes it a terrifying prospect at close range against any capital ship both for the close range firepower of the Gun Racks and Kinetic Weapons and the fact that a large contingent of marines are about to come charging through the void at you.

That should just about do it for the Praetorian, a devastating close range assault carrier disguised as a battleship! I know I’m going to be taking one. Partly because I already have the model but mostly because the idea of a gigantic battleship setting sights on the biggest ship in the sector and going full throttle towards it to deliver an elite crew of boarding marines is just too cool to pass up!

Until next time,

Matt

Full power to drives, all ahead full

Greetings fellow Admirals,

Welcome to the first post on Into The Storm Zone, a blog dedicated to showing and sharing my progress with Firestorm Armada, a 1/10,000th scale starship battle game by Spartan Games. I have quite literally just stepped into the game as I’ll explain in a moment but I can already see the promise this game has and I’m a huge fan of the game mechanics and the models. So, let’s get the intro questions out of the way!

Firstly, why did you get into Firestorm?

Quite simply I love spaceships! (I’m an aerospace design engineer in training) Between Chris and I there probably isn’t much in the Sci Fi genre that we haven’t touched on or looked at one point or another and each of us have sizeable collections of books, games and films covering the utopian, dystopian and sometimes just plain odd futuristic settings the world has generated so far. My friend, Chris, and I are both big Battleflet Gothic fanboys and were deeply saddened by the discontinuation of the game by Games Workshop.  Chris in particular had racked up a lot of playing hours with the starships of the Imperium, Chaos and Orks while I had only had the chance to touch on the Imperial fleet before it became a relic of Gaming History. As such, we really wanted to find a game to fill the gap of collossal starships dealing death in the void, and Firestorm offers just that!

Secondly, how did you get into Firestorm?

This one was pretty much pure chance. My group of regular gaming friends went to London to visit one of our mates and play a load of Warhammer/role play games/board games over the course of a weekend. As we needed some tables we headed to Dark Sphere where you can rent gaming space for the day (if you live anywhere near London and haven’t heard of this place you need to check it out, it is gaming nirvana!). We walked in and found that the place was stacked full of loads of different table top wargames that we had never seen or in some cases heard of before! I’d seen some stuff about Firestorm before and it had tickled some interest but never really hit home (it was still in the 1st edition at the time and I’d heard mixed reviews). So as we were wandering around the store Chris and I spotted the Battle for Valhalla starter set for Firestorm and decided to take a closer look. It pretty much hit all the required boxes; giant spaceships, fighters and bombers, different weapon types, interesting races and boarding actions being some of the key ones for us. So, about 3.7 seconds later we decided to buy it and split it between us, Chris went for Terran and I took the Dindrenzi (Railguns = Awesome).

Thirdly, where next with the game?

Well, firstly we’re going to play through the linked missions in the Valhalla book. As an aside, I really wish more games companies did this with their starter sets; it is effectively a series of linked battles with an overriding narrative to get you into the fluff of the game and the mechanics at the same time. You start with the simplest class of ship, a frigate and then gradually introduce more complex ships, game rules and terrain effects so you don’t get inundated by rules all in a single sitting. In addition to the linked games, we want to get our starter fleets painted up (a post should be up sometime next week covering my painting of the Dindrenzi fleet) and then look to expand up to around the 800 points limit of a Patrol Fleet sized game. Once we’ve got a bit more of a handle on the rules and how our respective fleets work we’ll probably look to either expand our current fleet or start on a second for some variety.

So that pretty much wraps up the first post! I hope this blog turns into something worth reading and that you guys get involved and start commenting and sharing. As I mentioned at the start, I’m completely new to this so any advice or veteran points of view would be appreciated!

Until next time,

Matt