24th November 2019 at 6:48 pm #4519
Ah, the UCM. Mankind’s last best hope against the Scourge invasion. Having thrown away the assistance of the Shaltari, humanity was on the brink of collapse and relegated to a few colonial worlds. The Scourge had over-run and mind captured much of the population, and so it became a race against time to up their military production to replace their losses before they were over-run. From this huge swathes of new ships were designed, forged, and pressed into service. Here we present a summary of all of the ships available, with their strengths and weaknesses, and how they are best employed by new Admirals. If you haven’t already done so please read our Which Dropfleet Faction Is Right For You? guide as that will help introduce some key concepts. And in this list we’ll start from the smallest classes up to the largest. Ratings are game-wide, so you can compare the number of stars of this faction to all others.
The ability to “hide” in atmosphere, forcing the space-only ships to hit you on a 6, is the best defence that Strike Carriers have. This alone can make them all but immune to enemy ships. The solution to this is the Corvette, with Atmospheric capable weapons specifically designed to hunt through the clouds. Their entire role is about denying enemy Strike Carriers the ability to just sit on Clusters the entire game.
Santiago |Corvette| 22
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 2 14 2 5+ 2 Atmospheric, Outlier Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities Stingray Missile Bays 4+ 3 1 F/S/R Air to Air, Close Action, Squadron (3)
The UCM are not particularly fast, or tough, or powerful. To be effective they must be clever and go for larger numbers. One of the best ways to do this is with cheap ships, and with 3 attacks the Santiago is not just a good Corvette, but a good UCM ship in general. A pack of 3 Santiagos costs just 66pts, and with a thrust of 14 can be held further back in Turn 1 so that they are a threat in Turn 2, dropping into Atmosphere after the Strike Carriers have moved, and delivering 9 attacks (3 hits, 1.5 crits) – typically enough to take out 1 Strike Carrier. If all 3 shoot at the same target you also get an additional d6 attacks from the Squadron (3) rule, and with them hiding in Atmosphere it could be quite expensive to put pot-shots against them to drop the Group below that strength.
Strike Carriers are the primary way of getting troops on the ground. Their main advantage is that they can enter Atmosphere, and therefore have the protection from other ships requiring a 6 to hit them unless they have specialist Atmospheric capable weapons. Typically they will enter on Low Orbit and then try to hit Atmosphere as early as possible within range of the Cluster they are trying to drop troops to, where they will remain there for the rest of the game.
New Orleans |Strike Carrier| 32
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 3 10 4 4+ 3 Atmospheric, Open Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-2200 MDT 4+ 1 1 F/S Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action Dropships Launch (1)
Everything about this ship screams average. With Critical Damage rules kicking in for Hull of 4 and above, a Hull 4 ship isn’t that much better than a Hull 2 ship (given that after 2 damage taken it has a 33% chance of surviving). None of the weapons are atmospheric, meaning that it is going to do virtually no damage when it is where it wants to be (and, defensively, where it needs to be). This means that whilst you need these ships to win games they will remain a reluctant choice, with a player wanting to take the bare minimum required. UCM players are better off not fighting drop with drop, but focusing on removing the other player’s drop capability and then mopping up the Victory Points.
Frigates are the most varied and versatile ship class in the game, meaning that it is very hard to give them a simple summary. However typically they will form one of 2 functions, either being a gunboat designed around as much firepower as possible in a small hull that can overwhelm the enemy with numbers (aargh! bees!), or they will be an escort ship that will hang with larger ships providing some sort of support. Their biggest downside is the potential that once one is destroyed the resulting explosion will take out the others in the group, so it is often wise to split over Orbital Layers.
Jakarta |Escort Frigate| 32
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 3 10 4 4+ 3 Aegis (6) Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-2200 MDT 4+ 1 1 F/S Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
Sadly for fans of how great the UCM cruisers look, for this faction it’s really the Frigates that work best. We start with the Jakarta, which has the Aegis ability to boost the Point Defence of key larger ships. Given that every other faction will be maxing their Launch capability, whilst the UCM carriers are underwhelming, the best way to protect your key ships from enemy bombing runs is with a group of these ships. Simply wait for the bombers to be assigned, and then apply your Aegis. Four of these ships cost just 128pts (about the same as a single Heavy Cruiser) but will add 24 PD (about 4 crit saves).
Lima |AWACS Frigate| 37
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 3 10 4 4+ 3 Detector, Outlier, Rare Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-2200 MDT 4+ 1 1 F/S Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
The rules for Detector ships are simple but powerful – they may Active Scan even when the Battlegroup Order is something else, and every Detector ship in a Group may Active Scan, not just 1. Pop these ships in a large Battlegroup and they can take full advantage, as the other ships go about their business whilst the Lima’s stay at the back of the table providing much needed scanning assistance. As UCM are neither fast, have good scanning, nor are particularly good brawlers (the Mass Driver Turret ships have the firing arcs for it, but not the firepower or toughness), a few Limas can really help pick out those key targets that allow the UCM to kill from distance with Burnthrough Lasers. An absolute must to max out, which is sadly not as many as you want due to them being Rare.
Taipei |Frigate| 39
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 3 10 4 4+ 3 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-2200 MDT 4+ 1 1 F/S Piranha Missile Turrets 4+ D6 + 4 1 F/S/R Close Action
The most feared UCM gunboat, there’s no reason not to go strong on these ships. As Groups shoot simultaneously you also want to max the Group size (PD is only applied once per Group attack), which is a whopping 6 ships (just be careful to minimise chain reactions from one being destroyed). The power is all in the Piranha Missile Turrets, which means they need to get within the 6″ scan range as it is a Close Action Weapon. For this reason make sure they are in a Battlegroup by themselves so that only single Cruisers and smaller groups of Frigates will have initiative against them. These are one of the ships who most benefit from the going last in a Turn then going first in the next Turn; but with an SR of 6 they are far more able to do it than the Battlecruisers of other factions. A full group on average will put out 45 attacks! That’s 7/5 crits and 15 hits, which even after PD has a good chance of destroying anything smaller than a Battleship. Enemy Troopships and Carriers will fear them especially.
Toulon |Frigate| 35
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 3 10 4 4+ 3 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-2200 MDT 4+ 3 1 F/S Squadron (3) Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
The only underwhelming UCM Frigate. 3 Attacks really isn’t much to boast about, and the Squadron (3) bonus is unlikely to last long as a wise opponent will pick off enough to remove this b0nus (and this could be as little as 2 damage against one Frigate). The only advantage they have over a Taipei is that they can shoot from distance, but this is a role that other ships are better suited to. A poor quality ship in it’s own right, but especially bad when for just 4pts per ship more you can take an amazing Taipei.
Take a Frigate and make it a little bigger with more guns and you get a Destroyer. This is the same design philosophy as Battlecruisers in making an attempt to over-gun a weapons platform. Typically these perform quite poorly in a competitive game, as they eat up more points and just paint a target on themselves. But a few variants have some nice specific abilities that gives them a unique and useful role. They are also great if you have a few points left over and want to make an upgrade. But overall they perform as slightly more attacking Frigates.
Havana |Destroyer| 50
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 4 10 6 4+ 3 Rare Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+2 1 F/S/R Close Action Light Torpedoes Launch (2)
Torpedoes are basically terrible. Slow to arrive and reasonably easy to shake, and they don’t even do that much damage when they get there. A lovely concept with rules that at the time of writing do not work. Essentially what you have here is a worse Taipei, because they are 11pts more, have 2 fewer attacks with their Close Action Weapons, and (most importantly) can only be taken in groups of 3 which means multiple PD attempts to stop them. 16.5 missile attacks is a long way short of 45 missile attacks. A very poorly designed ship with a direct competitor that outshines it. Definitely to be avoided.
Kiev |Heavy Destroyer| 65
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 4 8 6 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-9000 Twin MDT 3+ 2 2 F Atmospheric, Fusillade (1) Barracuda-S Missile Bays 4+ 3 1 F/S/R Close Action
For but one rule the Kiev falls into the same trap and mistakes as most other Destroyers – that it is simply not worth the additional points cost for being not that much better a ship. It’s not far off double what you would pay for a Toulon, and it’s not that much better in either hull (+50%) or weapons (A2 D2 3+ vs A3 D1 4+). It does get one extra shot if it goes Weapons Free due to the Fusillade rule, but that also paints a target on itself so it needs to be used cautiously. The reason, and sole reason, to take this ship is that it’s main weapon is Atmospheric. All of a sudden Strike Carriers are being hit on a 4+ not a 6+ (you still have the -1 to hit for shooting down an Orbital Layer as this ship itself is not Atmospheric). That alone makes it a must-take; put these ships on Silent Running and directly hunt enemy Strike Carriers.
Vancouver |Escort Carrier| 55
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 4 10 6 4+ 3 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action Fighters & Bombers Launch (2)
A ship that actually gives the UCM a reason to take Fighters and Bombers. Now UCM Bombers are still not very good compared to other Bombers, but overall they are still strong. Fighters are a waste in the current rules (mainly because Bombers are so good you just want to use those). The problem for UCM is that the other Launch options are the Seattle (132pts for Launch 3), and the New York (260pts for Launch 7), neither of which are good options. But for 55pts the Vancouver is a very credible carrier choice. Just be sure to leave them back and have them within the 20″ activation rather than the 10″ activation so that they don’t get easily popped, or at least are sucking up Active Scans and long range shots that should be targeting your better ships.
Monitors are another Frigate variant, but rather than going for an over-gunning option like Destroyers instead favour some sort of utility. They can be seen as extending the Frigate options of your faction with one important distinction – these ships are slow. Really slow. This makes them great for defending a close objective or supporting the larger slower ships in your fleet (but even here there is a danger that they can lag behind). The trade off is that they do instead get very good armour. This makes them nearly immune to light weapons which tend to need a 4+ or 5+ to lock, and so don’t get reliable Critical Hits, but counts for little when lock 3+ or better weapons are shooting it.
Istanbul |Monitor| 42
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 10 4 4 4 2+ 3 Monitor Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-B-9000 MDT 3+ 3 1 F Alt-1 UF-B-9000 MDT 2+ 2 2 F Alt-1, Bombardment Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
A total mess of a ship. When ships are slow they need to be able to hit at range. Whilst the Istanbul does have a 10″ Scan, with a Thrust of 4 and an inability to go Max Thrust it is going to be a while before it can shoot anything worth shooting. A Frigate with a Scan of 6 and a Thrust of 10 will have 2″ more on this ship in Turn 1, and 8″ more in Turn 2. And even when it gets in range it still only has a Toulon attack (but with 1 better lock). The 2+ armour counts for nothing because nobody will be scared of this ship. There is a nice idea of giving it an alternate firing mode so that it can Bombard instead, but again with a Thrust of 4 the only things to Bombard in a reasonable time frame will be your own home Clusters that you should already have locked down. This ship has no role.
Vienna |Escort Frigate| 48
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 4 6 4 2+ 3 Aegis (4) Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities Mamba Laser 3+ 2 1 F Burnthrough (3), Flash Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+2 1 F/S/R Close Action
This ship has some use, effectively combining the Aegis abilities of the Jakarta with the Close Action abilities of the Taipei. The problem is that it doesn’t do either of these quite as well. That’s not so much of an issue on the Jakarta side (although it should be noted that at +50% points for 4 not 6 Aegis, you are effectively getting half the defence per point) as even 12 points of defence can be very useful, but it is a big deal for the missiles as you really want to stack these up to overcome the enemy PD – which of course includes any Aegis and Fighter cover. That said this ship will have a different role to the Taipei, being mainly used to clear away annoying and half dead ships that the thing it is escorting hasn’t dealt with, rather than rushing off to take out enemy high priority targets. So not a top tier ship, but useful.
The mainstay of every faction, Cruisers are just as varied as Frigates but with even more options. Of course this means that there are even more chances of a design flaw! It is imperative that you get your Cruiser selections right for your overall fleet list and strategy, as when they work in combination they are able to punch well above their weight (and points cost!), but used wrong or with a lack of synergy and you find that they are barely influencing the battle.
New Cairo (Saratoga) |Light Cruiser| 88
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 10 8 4+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities Cobra Heavy Laser 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
One of the best balanced ships in the game as it’s natural weaknesses (narrow weapon arc, and light hull) are perfectly countered by it’s strategic role (single weapon allows it to work well on standard orders, and being able to snipe from afar). At 88pts it’s Burnthrough 6 laser will worry ships of any class, mainly because once you get a Critical Hit all subsequent hits are also Critical Hits. Set as a pair coming on slowly from the table edge they can stay out of range and align to get the arc that it needs. The only problem here is the poor 6″ Scan range, but a Lima helps set them up perfectly (Turn 1 they can have a 34″ threat range vs a Sig 6 target). The only thing that stops them being a 5* ship is that with Attack 2 the Laser can occasionally whiff an attack, just when you need it to be reliable. The answer, of course, is to take multiple Groups of these. I’d advise at least 3 Groups of 2 (and if you want variety look at the Special Edition Saratoga, which is identical in rules but with a different model).
Osaka (Athens) |Light Cruiser| 82
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 10 8 4+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Squadron (2) Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action
Where the New Cairo is well balanced the Osaka is just underpowered. It is an identical hull only with the Burnthrough Laser swapped out for a medium level Mass Driver. And this is the problem – Mass Drivers are woefully underpowered as a weapon. With 4 attacks expect 1.33 Crits and 1.33 Hits per attack. That’s terrible compared to the Cobra Heavy Laser which, whilst more volatile have a much bigger impact on taking out enemy ships completely. The higher average of MDTs is useful when they are in the middle of a fight all guns blazing with the damage totting up nicely. But in a light ship that isn’t worrying about firing arcs and doesn’t want to get stuck in there will be little impact. And even that is salvageable with the right points reduction – 6 is not enough. A variant model exists called an Athens which, like the Saratoga, is a Special Edition ship.
Berlin |Cruiser| 105
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 10 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 Cobra Heavy Laser 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
Another poor UCM design. You are paying 17 more points to upgrade a New Cairo to a Berlin. For this you get a slightly tougher ship (+2 HP and a 1 better save), but the point of a New Cairo is that you keep them out of the worst of the enemy range. You do also get an additional 2 weapons, but both of them are poor and using them requires that you go Weapons Free which prevents you from turning – a major issue when your main weapon has a Narrow arc of fire. Finally you do get better Close Action weapons, but this is compounded by both wanting to be at longer range and it being harder to get things into a Narrow firing arc when closer. Those 17 points are effectively wasted, and whilst that’s not a lot in casual games, if you go for 6 of these like you would New Cairo, then you have given up 112pts for little in return. This one is a trap, which is a shame as the model is so damn good!
Madrid |Cruiser| 79
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 10 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-B-8000 Bombardment MDT 2+ 6 1 F/S/R Bombardment Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
Bombardment is a great strategy for the UCM who have to be very picky about the fights they engage in. Choosing to go all out for 50% of the Clusters and then bombing the living daylights out of one of the others is a great plan to mitigate the natural shortcomings of a fleet that are not fast enough to make an early dent in far clusters, and not tough enough to slug it out when they get there. It’s a fairly boring gameplan when you really want to be exploding enemy ships in space, but the importance means that despite this ship being not being well balanced (you’ll never risk picking up a Major Energy Spike to fire 2 Frigate-level weapons), it is still a very viable option for the faction. And at 79pts it is not going to break the bank.
Rio |Cruiser| 105
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 10 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Squadron (2) Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
Everything about the Berlin also applies to this ship, with the exception that the main weapon has very good firing arcs, and so isn’t hampered by going weapons free. This makes this a much better balanced ship. The tactic here is all about aggression – get a few of these ships into the heart of the action as early as possible to pick off the dangerous enemy Frigates that you typically will only need 2 damage on to destroy, with the hope that you might get some chains in from it. Then also hope that your opponent is shaken enough by the loss of some inexpensive ships to make the mistake of focusing on your Rio rather than your big hitters. And that would be a very credible approach if the guns weren’t so under-powered. That turns a good ship into a slightly-better-than-average one.
Seattle |Fleet Carrier| 132
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 10 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action Fighters & Bombers Launch (3)
Sadly they are just not very good. Launch is great, but with UCM bombers being the worst in the game and this ship being 132pts for just Launch 3 there is really no reason to take it. You could take a far more effective Group of 6 Taipei for the cost of 2 Seattles, the former being able to win a game. Sadly (because it’s cool as all hell), carriers are just not the way to go for UCM at this points cost. The Shark Missile Bays then become the cherry on top of the unbalanced-design cake – why would you want a precious asset like a carrier to get within a 6″ Scan range? That said the balance of the ship is good in having one main gun that you want to be shooting anyway (as you need to be able to fire one weapon to be able to launch).
Troopships are the only way to get troops to the ground other than Strike Carriers. What they lack in nimbleness they make up for in volume. Utilising Bulk Landers instead of Dropships they are able to deploy 3 times the amount of Infantry as a Strike Carrier, or can put down an Orbital Battery to help defend against enemy troop landings in the future. They are unable to enter Atmosphere so must hang over a Cluster in Low Orbit – a role that makes them especially well suited to capturing Space Stations.
San Francisco |Troopship| 111
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 10 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 Barracuda Missile Bays 4+ 2 1 F/S/R Close Action Bulk Landers Launch (2)
With a poor weapon loadout and an unspectacular defence, the San Francisco is a poor Troopship by comparison to the other factions. And yet given how weak the New Orleans is it remains a possibility. At 111pts it is cheap enough that multiple can be taken, and really here you want it for one primary job – to get an Orbital Battery down in Turn 2. Given that the UCM need to be so particular about the fights it gets into the bombardment game only works if you can take and hold at least 1 middle Cluster, and to do that reliably (given you expect to be out-dropped) requires an Orbital Battery to stem the tide of incoming troops. That’s well worth sacrificing a couple of Troopships for. A painful but necessary task, although one that still doesn’t make the San Francisco look good.
These are the mainstay of any successful fleet. Whilst it is important to have the strategically critical ships in place, it is the Heavy Cruiser that is the workhorse, designed to kill and to be killed so as to save the more valuable craft. Ships of this class all share the same basic design – good guns, good armour, and a love of going Weapons Free. Send them into the enemy formations and watch them scatter. The key to using Heavy Cruisers is to know who their optimal enemy type is; if you target badly then these will be a short distraction.
Moscow |Heavy Cruiser| 150
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 7 12 3+ 5 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
The ship that was made for Weapons Free. With all of the guns having good arcs of fire the best tactic for Moscows is to take them in a couple of Groups headed for the middle in Silent Running on Turn 1 and then to unleash them on Turn 2 late. This allows your other heavy hitting ships that are good at targeting a single enemy ship the chance to kill them first, and lets you know what you need to do to get in those destructions and Critical Damage rolls. Then the Moscows can head in and split fire over multiple enemies to mop up. And if you really really need to turn then having all but one of the UF-6400 Linked means you only need to give up a little firepower. Linked-1Very good at killing Frigate hordes especially, where the chance of a couple of Hull Points to cause chain reactions can be devastating. The 3+ Lock of the UF-6400’s make them substantially better vs heavier targets as well. Then to cap it all off you have a nice number of Close Action attacks. Followed up, of course, by your second Moscow. Excellent frame, only suffering from the typical UCM problem of MDTs being a little underpowered.
St. Petersburg |Heavy Cruiser| 155
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 7 12 3+ 5 Rare Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 Cobra Heavy Laser 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash, Siphon Power Cobra Heavy Laser 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash, Siphon Power Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
The curse of DropFleet seems to be that the more awesome looking the model the worse the ship performs. Or maybe that it a bogus feeling that I get entirely because I think of this ship. The St. Petersburg replaces the two Mass Driver Turrets of the Moscow with two Cobra Heavy Lasers. This is as sexy as all hell. It is also almost entirely useless. If you want to use both lasers you have to go Weapons Free, and no opponent worth a damn is going to leave a vital target in a Front Narrow arc. If you want to turn this ship to hit something juicy that means you have to drop to just using one of the lasers, and whilst a rule change of Siphon Power did help a little in turning that Burnthrough 6 into a Burnthrough 8, really a potential extra 2 Hull Points does almost nothing to overcome a core deficiency in the design of this cruiser. But with only 2 attacks making it all the way is far from a certainty. The UF-4200 being Linked does nothing. Very poor ship.
The concept of a Battlecruiser is simple – take a Heavy Cruiser and give it more guns. This can be a curse as well as a blessing – badly used they will hardly be more dangerous than a Heavy Cruiser but for a fair chunk more points. Used well and they can win a game near single handedly. As a ship with a high damage to defence ratio they will be a primary target for your opponent, therefore knowing how to keep them safe until the time is right is critical. Winning initiative and supporting other ships is the real key to using them effectively.
All Battlecruisers come in one of 2 variants – these are identical in stats but with different models, the latter one being the kickstarter exclusive.
Perth (Avalon) |Battlecruiser| 195
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 14 3+ 7 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 Viper Super Laser 3+ 4 1 F(N) Burnthrough (8), Flash, Bloom Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
This ship has all the same problems as a St. Petersburg in core design – a main Front Narrow weapon on a platform that really needs to go Weapons Free. But it gets a higher rating simply because that main weapon is so much better, as with 4 attacks it is far more likely to get all the way to 8 damage. That’s not bad at all as a main gun, but if you wanted raw Burnthrough power why not take 2 New Cairo for fewer points? The only reason it scores higher than a St. Petersburg is that the main weapon is that much better, but at a third more of the cost it remains a very poor choice. Linking the UF-4200 does little because if you want to fire just one weapon it’s always going to be the Viper (and if you cannot get it to put an enemy ship in arc even after a turn then you have larger problems).
Johannesburg (Atlantis) |Battlecruiser| 195
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 6 6 8 14 3+ 7 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 2 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 4 1 F/S Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action Fighters & Bombers Launch (3)
What do you get if you cross a Moscow with a Seattle? And this is the little problem you have with a Jo’burg. Fundamentally this is a great design. Strap the launch capacity of the faction’s main Carrier onto a Heavy Cruiser, and enjoy all the benefits of a heavier frame for a fraction of the cost of taking both ships separately. For 55 points you take a Moscow and put into it the one part of a 132 point Seattle that you actually want. Or, in other words, take a Seattle and for 73 points (about +50%) give it more guns with good firing arcs. And the result is somewhere between the two – because a ship that wants to get stuck in tends to not last long when it has Bombers. What saves it is the Linked weapons, as you can now afford to keep it back (with the ubiquitous Lima support) making turns and firing the Linked guns as a single weapon choice. A great choice for a Flagship in smaller games.
The centrepiece of most fleets, a Battleship can control the entire strategy to be employed, and this more often than not makes them an expensive mistake. With a huge array of weapons they can vary in role more than any other single class. Pick wisely (or more likely not at all), as they are often far too overgunned to be worthwhile taking due to their desired uses being too at odds to synergise well. However a clever player can take good advantage of this flexibility by coming up with surprising tactics. Combine your choice wisely, and don’t be afraid to sacrifice your biggest ship to achieve victory.
Beijing |Battleship| 232
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 8 12 6 18 3+ 10 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-6400 MDT 3+ 6 1 F/S Linked-1 Cobra Heavy Lasers 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash Swordfish Missile Bays 3+ D6+4 1 F/S/R Close Action
If you’ve been reading all the other entries up to this point you know exactly what I am going to write. Multi-weapon platform with a F(N) arc main weapon? Check. Overcosted for the firepower? Check. Overall the firepower isn’t that much better than a Moscow on Weapons Free, but given that the Cobra Heavy Lasers only have 2 Attacks you can feel pretty comfortable in dropping this from your shooting and taking a different Battlegroup Order. Now your firepower is considerably better. Not 82 points better, but still good enough to be a decent choice.
New York |Battleship| 250
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 8 12 6 18 3+ 10 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action Fighters & Bombers Launch (7) Torpedo Launch (1)
If the UF-4200’s were 6400’s with 4 Attacks each and Lock 3+ then I’d put an extra 1 or 1.5 stars on this boat. Launch for UCM still has the same problems, but as part of a big scary ship it has some viability. Torpedoes are not good either, so the Launch element of this ship should really be it’s secondary weapon array. But the main guns are basically Cruiser Class, and add nothing to this ship. It basically suffers from all the same problems as the Seattle, but without the excuse of being a ship of the line. But then even the Seattle has 6400’s! Definitely to be avoided – this ship adds nothing to your fleet and has no strategic role.
Tokyo |Battleship| 220
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 8 12 6 18 3+ 10 Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(L) Linked-1 UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Linked-1 UF-B-8000 MDT 2+ 5 1 F/S/R Linked-1, Bombardment UF-B-8000 MDT 2+ 5 1 F/S/R Linked-1, Bombardment Cobra Heavy Laser 3+ 2 1 F(N) Burnthrough (6), Flash Shark Missile Bays 4+ D6+1 1 F/S/R Close Action
For once I’m not even going to complain about the F(N) arc, because this ship will never go Weapons Free and the Cobra Heavy Laser is just an inefficient addition that you won’t care about not using. This ship has a clear strategic role, and one that I think is crucial to the UCM battleplan – bombard the crap out of the enemy. With both Bombardment weapons being Linked you can also declare 2 Sectors as your target, meaning that even if a Cluster is heavily stacked up you have a great chance to clear a lot of enemy Ground Troops away. And as a little bonus the (disappointingly small) MDT weapons can fire as well. The only downside to this ship is that Ground targets cannot be Spiked, so you have to get in Scan Range. This obliges you to come on at Max Thrust and to pick a Cluster that is central in the battlescape to fight over. This makes the tactic rather obvious, but there is little your opponent can do about it other than abandon that area and go for others. And like other UCM Bombardment ships this one is also quite cheap.
It’s hard to even discuss what these behemoths are about because they so completely outclass every other ship in the game (being about double a Battleship) that they are almost entirely what the game is about. And half the time it is an automatic loss – because how do you make up the points when the opponent has used theirs to drop Troops on the Ground to actually, you know, win the game? These should be seen as more part of a narrative game or as collector pieces, because they are so unbalanced (one way or another) that they will either just work for the scenario or they won’t. But what else are you going to spend your money on, hey?
London |Dreadnought| 470
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 14 16 6 26 2+ 18 Aegis (8), Free Admiral (AV 5) Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-9000 MDT 2+ 2 1 F/S(L) Fusilade (2) UF-9000 MDT 2+ 2 1 F/S(R) Fusilade (2) UF-6400 MDT 3+ 8 1 F/S UF-6400 MDT 3+ 8 1 F/S UF-4200 MDT 4+ 12 1 F/S UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 4 F/S(L) UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Leviathan Missile Bays 3+ 2D6+4 1 F/S/R Close Action
It’s… it’s actually a really good ship! As a large weapons platform it is always going to be on Weapons Free (and with a Signature of 16 you’re being seen by everything anyway), and so with wide Fire Arcs and a multitude of weapons that can target different enemies we have a variety of roles it can perform simultaneously, with the larger weapons going for Crusier level one-shot-kills and the smaller weapons going for Frigates or mopping up. The only disadvantage is that as you cannot Turn on Weapons Free the enemy fleet will look to scatter into the other Orbital Layer to reduce your hit chance (and if you want to follow you are reduced to one weapon, oops!). For this it is best to come on in Low Orbit where you can target Troopships and Bombardment ships, which – let’s face it – is exactly what you are going to have to focus on if you want to recover the massive points sink this Dreadnought is. It also has great defence with a 2+ Armour save meaning that only enemies with a good Lock (for the Critical Hits) are going to get anywhere, and the standard ways of killing big ships (suicide Frigates and Bombers) having real issues to contend with. Woe betide anything trying to get close to use their Close Action Weapons, not that you really want to do that against a ship with a base Point Defence of 18 and Aegis 8. Happy days. Welcome to London.
Washington |Supercarrier| 450
Scan Sig Thrust Hull Armour Point Def Special Abilities 14 16 6 26 2+ 18 Free Admiral (AV 5) Weapon Lock Attacks Damage Arc Special Abilities UF-9000 MDT 2+ 2 1 F/S(L) Fusilade (2) UF-9000 MDT 2+ 2 1 F/S(R) Fusilade (2) UF-4200 MDT 4+ 12 1 F/S UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 4 F/S(L) UF-4200 MDT 4+ 4 1 F/S(R) Leviathan Missile Bays 3+ 2D6+4 1 F/S/R Close Action Fighters & Bombers Launch (15)
Launch 15. You can stop reading here. Three and a half times the cost of a Seattle but with 5 times the Launch capability and a hell of a lot more (useful) weapons. You can basically put your entire Launch capacity into this single ship and still have all the firepower of a great gunboat. Yes it will have a target on it, but like the London with a 2+ Armour save you are going to soak up all the big guns the enemy has to offer. And that’s fine with Launch 15! The balance of the ship is even better than the London, although the extra points does balance that slightly we’re only talking about a single Frigate’s cost. Both Dreadnoughts are a real game changer for the UCM, with the Washington being in the top 10 ships in the game. Did I mention Launch 15?
Overall the UCM are an underpowered faction, and so rely on good strategic choices to win rather than good tactical ones. Putting aside the selection of a Dreadnought (which you absolutely should take if the game is large) the basic fleet composition of UCM should revolve around Moscows that you can use as distractions, sending them into the heart of the enemy fleet to pick on key targets as quickly as possible. To ensure that they don’t die to Bombers (their main weakness), add in some Jakartas as support. The rest of your firepower should come from pairs of New Cairo sniping from further back with Lima support – again prioritising enemy carriers to prevent Bombers from wiping your fleet, and from at least one max sized pack of Taipei. Then strategically you are all about fighting over exactly 50% of the Clusters, with the win coming from Bombarding an enemy held one to oblivion. You can’t score points from Ruins!
Best ships: New Cairo (Saratoga), Lima, Taipei, Madrid, Moscow, Santiago, Kiev
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