Tag Archives: Battle for Valhalla

Progress on the Terrans

Hi all,

Welcome back to ITSZ, today I’ve just got a short update for you as I’ve actually spent some time painting and thought I’d share the results so far! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not the most diligent hobbyist when it comes to painting my armies and fleets so the fact that I’ve nearly completed 800 points of Terrans in about 2 weeks is nothing short of a miracle to be perfectly honest. I do have to apologise for the poor lighting compounded by the fact that I haven’t done highlights on the non-grey sections yet so they appear a lot darker than they actually are/will be. But enough from me, onto the pictures:

Continue reading Progress on the Terrans

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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

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

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