Zenian League Fleet Manual Review

Good morning, Admirals

As those of you who follow my Twitter know, I recently received my order of fleet reinforcements from Wayland Games. While I’ll get to the unboxing of the Patrol Fleet, the Battle Station and my first forays into Army Painter sprays in future posts today I want to look at the Zenian League Fleet Manual. For any new players, this book is the second most important piece of literature for the game after the rulebook for any Zenian League player; but, it should be noted that it is not a required purchase as Spartan Games, being the awesome company they are, have made the up-to-date fleet lists available for free on their website. With this being the case I guess I should probably explain why I feel this book is such a pivotal purchase for a budding admiral when the core information you need to play is available for free!

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Simply put, I didn’t buy this book for the pivotal information. Yes, the fleet list is available for free online and no, it is no different to the one in print in the League Manual; but this book is about so much more than just building your fleet according to the rules of play. Each of the 3 major factions has about 6 pages of historical fluff before you even get to the fleet list. With my fleet of choice being the Dindrenzi I started with them and was not disappointed. It details the separation from Terra through the two wars led by the Rense clan, the contact war with the Relthoza (who are so much more terrifying than I first thought they would be, and seeing as they are giant spider-like creatures I had them down as pretty bone-chilling!) and how the Directorate came to be fighting against the Terrans on the side of the League. All of that from just 1 section of the fluff provided!

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The Relthoza and Directorate receive an equal amount of love, describing a myriad of different parts of their lore which I won’t spoil too much here but one of the more surprising elements of it are that the Relthoza are vegetarian! Who knew?!

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Moving into the rules section of the book, each of the major and minor fleets for the Zenian League are represented in full with the most current rules for every ship currently available and valid (and a couple of new ones that aren’t in case you wanted to know what new ships are about to Fold Space into the game) meaning that this is the only book you need to deal with single race fleets or alliances. It also includes all of the Tactics Values and Command Distances for the fleets making this a genuine one-stop shop for any information you may require for your fleet during gameplay. As a nice little bonus, all the ships are represented by a new, very nice looking render next to their stats and I’ve spent a good hour pouring over all the little details on the various ships that I want to buy in the future (read – all of them).

Rules Example

One of the other really nice little touches, and one of the primary reason I wanted the book in the first place, are the example fleets that are provided after the fleet listings. Multiple examples are given from Patrol right up to Grand fleet sizes each of which is accompanied by some fluff about that fleet style such as the difference between a Dindrenzi front line battle fleet and a reserve fleet or long range patrol as well as a colour scheme of a famed fleet that fulfils that role. This really helps to expand out the background of the various races and provide some inspiration for anyone a bit stuck on a paint scheme and not just wanting to copy the box art! For example, my Dindrenzi fleet is going to be a planetary invasion based fleet (P.S.N. I think is the designation, I don’t have the book to hand) based around the Speartip I mentioned in a previous post used to find and penetrate the weakest part of a defending fleets battleline to deliver the ground forces before looping around to take care of the fleet.

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I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the game, even if you don’t collect a Zenian League fleet (yet). It is a fantastic supplement from a fluff point of view and there is no better way to get to know your fleet or your enemy’s if you are a member of the Alliance. The quality is fantastic, the value is excellent and the content is sublime making it a must have in my book.

Be sure to dock in again soon for the un-boxing of the Dindrenzi Patrol Fleet!

Until next time,

Matt

My First Dindrenzi Fleet List

Good morning, Admirals

Welcome to my first fleet list for the Dindrenzi based around the Valhalla boxed set and the analysis I recently posted up for the 3 ship types that come in the box. Ok, let’s start with a bit of background on the list. I wanted to start at a reasonably low points value, but not so low that games would be over in half an hour and generally play out the same way every time. To that end I settled on 800 points, the upper boundary of a Patrol Fleet, as being a good starting point. From my experience of playing the Battle for Valhalla games an 800 point game should take around 1-2 hours to play out depending on the variables of tabletop gaming and allow me a reasonable amount of versatility when it came to building the list.

I wanted to design a take all comers style fleet, able to put down a significant amount of hurt while still being able to take a few punches and keep on swinging. The fleet should also be as mutually supporting as possible, with overlapping areas of responsibility to ensure that even after taking a few losses the fleet as a whole is still mostly covered. There is an element of redundancy and repetition in the list; primarily down to the models I have available but also because at this points level of game I would rather develop a really solid core fleet which I can add the more esoteric choices to at a later date.

So, the list, and I apologise in advance for this post being a little longer than usual (I got excited!):

Praetorian Battleship (DSN Crimson Spear) 295 Points

  • +2 AP
  • +3 wings
  • Assault Blitz
  • Launch Tubes
  • 3 Escorts

 

This ship forms the tip of the spear that I plan on storming as far forward as possible and launching a boarding assault against the biggest possible target. She can take a beating with her DR of 6 and CR of 12, going up to 13 on the flanks thanks to Reinforced (SB/Port) and 10 HP, plus her Elite Crew for when things do start to fall apart. She can plow into an enemy fleet, kinetic weaponry and gun racks blazing before launching a massive contingent of marines at the largest enemy ship in their fleet. When most Patrol Fleets are only going to contain a single Tier 1 ship taking this out of the game, ideally by capturing and FSDing it off the table, can win you the game outright.

Vermillion Squadron

3x Secutor Class Cruisers

  • Secured Bulkheads MAR

This squadron forms the primary fire support role, deploying towards a flank they are there to pound enemy ships repeatedly with kinetic attacks and torpedoes to clear a path for the Praetorian to reach its goal in relative safety. The hope being that a full squadron of 3 Cruisers is something that cannot be ignored meaning that some of the enemy will be drawn away from the Spear to deal with them. This role would probably be more suited to a squadron of Destroyers as they can sit stationary and still turn up to 90 degrees, allowing them to keep a target in their sights without having to worry about moving out of position as well as their other bonuses like the High Energy MAR upgrade, Stealth and an optimum range band one step higher than the Cruisers but it all comes down to points, and the 15 points more to field the Destroyers, plus the extra 15 to upgrade to High Energy, is more than I have to spare at the moment. Though, that said, I could drop two Escorts from the Praetorian to take them without a massive drop in capability which could work well, though it does make the Praetorian more vulnerable to torpedo attacks so perhaps not entirely worth it at this stage. Destroyers are also less heavily armoured than the Cruisers so at this level where an admiral has less available to him at the start survivability may outclass that extra damage potential.

Carmine Squadron

2x Secutor Class Cruisers

  • Secured Bulkheads MAR

This second squadron of Cruisers is intended to be far more aggressive than Vermillion Squadron. The plan for Carmine is to form the flanks of the Spear, moving alongside the Praetorian to either soften up or finish off any targets of opportunity that the Battleship may also have fired at. They also present an alternative target to an enemy, spreading fire power away from purely focusing on the DSN Crimson Spear. One of the main reasons for including them alongside the Battleship is for the Targeted Strike special rule. In order to ensure that the boarding action from the Praetorian is as successful as possible it is necessary to take the PD of the intended target ship offline. This can only be done on a Targeted Strike or a particular Critical Effect and given that most of the targets for boarding actions are likely to be Tier 1 ships they will probably have a very high CR. Also, if the PD can be nullified just prior to the assault the effect cannot be repaired before the boarding action takes place.

Scarlet Squadron

3x Thraex Class Frigates

This squadron of Frigates are to act in close support of the Spear, effectively forming an additional ring of Escorts with the ability to put out an increased level of fire power as well as help diffuse target priority by presenting so many of them in such a small area of the board. Including the Escorts, the Speartip consists of 9 ships out of the 15 in the fleet, that should take a lot of stopping! One of the primary roles of this squadron will be the targeting of the enemy’s Escorts and Frigates that may be guarding the Tier 1 ship that the Spear wants to launch a boarding action against. By reducing the ability for the enemy admiral to combine or link PD against the boarders the higher the chance of the enemy ship being captured.

Falu Squadron

3x Thraex Class Frigates

Falu Squadron has been included to be more adaptable, either assisting in the defence of the squadron of 3 Secutors or gunning down a flank to hit the rear arcs of more sturdy vessels. The main thing is making sure they don’t end up isolated as they are likely to be operating on a more independent basis than most of the fleet, closer to opportunistic hunters than part of the battle line, which could leave them in the open with no support from the larger ships in the fleet. As long as I don’t get too carried away with them they should be a useful addition to the fleet, adding a few extra AD here and there where needed to push an enemy ship over the edge or making Targeted Strikes to cripple key elements of the enemy fleet.

That pretty much wraps up how I plan to build my first 800 point fleet. If you have any thoughts, criticisms or suggestions then please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,

Matt

Ship Assessment – Thraex Class Frigate

Good Morning Admirals,

Welcome to the final instalment in the Dindrenzi part of the Ship Assessment series for the Battle for Valhalla starter set, sorry it is a little later than advertised! Today we’re going to look at the Thraex Class Frigate, the smallest ship (not including SRS tokens) that the Dindrenzi get in the box. Frigates are very important ships in any fleet, bringing good mobility, decent damage outlay for their size and a bit of pace to get them where they are needed most. Most Frigates across the fleet lists tend to have similar stats, low damage threshold, high movement values and good turn limits. These ships are not designed to be even close to front line fighters; where they excel is in 3 roles as I will outline below.

The first major role for a Frigate is taking out other Frigates. All frigates have the Difficult Target MAR, meaning that capital ships suffer a -1 to hit unless firing Scatter Weaponry (be very wary of closing with a Sorylian capital ship!) therefore your Cruisers and Battleships are going to have to throw more dice against Frigates to achieve the same effect as a squadron of Frigates would. The Thraex is good at it too; at 24” a squadron of 3 is putting down 12 shots with Kinetic Weapons and 8 torpedoes. That gives you a solid chance to kill 2 Frigates which at the very least is going to force a disorder check and at best cripple that squadron’s damage potential and stop them from doing anything for a turn.

The next key role a Frigate squadron can play is the assassin. Using their increased movement and agility they can get around behind larger, slower ships and hit them in the rear where they are more vulnerable (-1 to DR and CR if the whole squadron firing is in the rear arc). If they have managed to get through unscathed then they are putting down between 8 and 12 Kinetic shots followed by 8 torpedoes. On average against a Cruiser sized ship that’s 2 hull points gone or possibly a critical hit (got to love those exploding 6s!).

The final role a Frigate can play, albeit not as well, is that of the “escort”; not in the sense of the actual Escort Class of ship, Escort’s have their own set of special rules which allow them greater interaction with their parent ship such as combining PD against incoming attacks, but by staying near a Battleship or Carrier and keeping the irritating but potentially deadly littler ships away from it. They also ignore the Difficult Target MAR of the Escort Class ships, meaning that if the squadron were supporting a Praetorian on an assault run they could take out the Escorts of the intended target to reduce the PD dice pool the defender has access to. This is where, for the Dindrenzi especially, I see a strong role for the Frigates. Keep them in close support of your Speartip, protect the main damage dealer and add supplementary firepower when you can.

As you can see, the Frigate is a very versatile ship, able to adapt to a variety of battlefield circumstances and may well end up taking on more than one of these roles during a single battle. However, it does have some clear weaknesses.

The main point it suffers with is the ability to take hits. All Frigates have 2 hull points meaning that unlike a capital ship if you hit that CR value the ship is just destroyed outright. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the ship is harder for larger ships to hit in the first place (Difficult Target) but a squadron can very quickly start taking losses if it is given any real attention. The best way to mitigate this is to ensure your Frigates don’t get isolated, or to make sure another target is present instead. If presented with a squadron of 2 Cruisers or 3 Frigates most players would shoot the Cruisers as they are more likely to generate hits and therefore damage than they would against the Frigates and the Cruisers are usually the greater threat. I’m not saying this will always be the case but it might go some way to protecting your squadron.

Another drawback to Frigates, and particularly the Thraex, is down to the movement mechanics. A ship, unless at Full Stop, must move at least half its movement value. For the Thraex this is 5.5”, which is slightly less than the full pace of some Battleships. This means that if you’re wanting to opt for a slow approach to get maximum use out of your fore facing weaponry while maintaining the ability to turn the rest of the fleet will struggle to keep pace, potentially leading to the isolation mentioned above. You can mitigate this with some clever turning, effectively zig-zagging up the table to burn movement but I think the best way to deal with this would be to deploy the Frigates behind the ships they are accompanying. This should buy you at least a couple of turns before you have to start worrying too much about the Frigates being left out on their own and by that point the battle field will likely look very different so you can use the extra space you’ve created for yourself with these nimble ships to capitalise on a situation. Of course, this isn’t an issue at all if you plan on ramming your Battleship down your opponent’s throat in a manner similar to the Praetorian tactics outlined in the first article of this series!

For my 800 point Patrol Fleet list (and the subject of a future post) I’m including 2 squadrons of 3 Thraex. One them is tagging along with the Praetorian acting in the third role I outlined above while the second squadron is going to be more reactive. I plan on using them as opportunistic hunters, finishing off damaged vessels and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Odds are they won’t survive many games but if they can take some of the heat off of the primary thrust of the fleet then they will have done their jobs admirably (no pun intended).

That should about do it for this post, as always if you have any thoughts, hints or tips please feel free to include them in the comments below!

Until next time,

Matt