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

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