SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

starbreaker
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SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby starbreaker » Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:00 am

One of my opponents was fiddling around and came up with this odd little ship:

Spoiler-class Robotic Escort
VP 23 (assuming we've done the math right)
Hull 2
Defense 6+
Thrust 5/3
Escort
No weapons

Anyone else tried this sort of design? He's convinced it's a perfect specialist escort, in part because it only wastes 1 SU of capacity (a sign from the gods!). I'm not sold on it, but it's an interesting idea. Not really worth shooting at, but cheap enough to buy a decent screen of them so the enemy has to either run a scout past them (not always possible) or expend somewhere around 36-72 "vanilla" attack dice to remove each one. I'm kind of afraid to see what overgunned monstrosity he comes up with to act as a stablemate for them.

Dropping the Def to 5+ would let you get to Thrust 7/4, which would work better for escorting fast attack ships without surrendering too much durability. Cheaper, too - only 19 VP if I've got the math right.

Hmmm - you could build the same hull with Scout and Agile in place of Escort for 18 VP. A little slow for a dedicated Scout, but slippery and irritatingly hard to kill. Hard to keep it two hexes away from whatever you're guarding unless you park escorts in every adjacent hex.

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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby The Oz » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:00 pm

It would have to be carried to the battle by some other ship, since it doesn't have Hyperdrive. I guess this is the mythical "Escort Drone"?

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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby mj12games » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:02 pm

The Oz wrote:I guess this is the mythical "Escort Drone"?

LOL... :D

Frankly, this is one of the reasons I've long resisted systems that have an effect beyond the ship using them. Obviously, some nominal point cost is required, but make it too low, and people will abuse it -- make it too high, and the system isn't worth the cost and will never see any playing time.

I'll confess I have no idea whether hordes of these things would be unbalancing -- but even six of them take up 50% of the fleet allocation for a medium-sized game.
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starbreaker
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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby starbreaker » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:36 pm

You're confusing names with effects. Hyperdrive just lets you exit the battlefield to save VPs over being destroyed. It has absolutely no other game effect in SFO. The ship's perfectly legit if you assume either STL in-system combat, some other kind of FTL like jump gates or natural warp points, or just a "slow to engage" hyperdrive that can't be powered-up fast enough to be used in combat. If I want to play a game where almost every ship has to waste 10% of its mass on FTL systems that do virtually nothing, I'll stick with Full Thrust.

As for unbalancing, I don't know. They're tough, but they aren't actually all that cheap, and you need about 3 of them at minimum to produce much of a screen even at long range, where the fire is coming from only a few possible directions. Buy too many of them and you won't have enough offense, even in the much larger games we're looking at playing (450 points isn't even a warmup match in my book - I bought SFO as an alternative to Battleshift or A Sky Full of Ships, not to play games I could do in SAE or FT). Might be best in the Trap scenario, where durability means a lot.

Incidentally, it looks to me like the minimum cost for an Escort (with zero Def and any speed you can manage - a true escort drone) is 17 VP, which is pricey enough that more expensive versions like the Spoiler are still a better buy. No danger of a swarm of ubercheap escorts. OTOH, you can buy some stupidly cheap ships just to fill space (to keep scouts away, for ex) - there probably ought to be a minimum value for both ORAT and DRAT to eiminate that loophole.

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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:41 pm

It is an interesting ship, but where are the big guns? I like big guns, damnit! :P
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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby starbreaker » Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:58 am

murtalianconfederacy wrote:It is an interesting ship, but where are the big guns? I like big guns, damnit! :P


Logically, they're sitting about one hex behind it, shooting your ships. :)

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Re: SFO: Interesting way to spend 23 points

Postby starbreaker » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:23 am

Tested the Spoiler things in a couple of 500 point games, with 4 and 9 of them on the table against me. They probably weren't worth the cost, as I managed to bypass them pretty easily from turn 3 onward and the two turns of mostly-wasted fire on them didn't really hurt me much - I just went to Run Silent on everyone turn 2 after sprinting turn 1, so the enemy return fire was pretty feeble as well. Without Agile they couldn't turn sharply enough to reform their screen once I got past it, and when they tried to form a six-ship hex to cover their stacked carriers and artillery hulls in the second game I just threw enough at them to make a hole while closing, then gutted them with Area Effect fire before they could reposition. For the same cost you can afford enough guns (especially with Slow or One-shot) to crack even their defenses if you have to, and unlike the Spoilers those points spent on guns are hard to render useless.

So, good tough escorts, but being an escort isn't good enough to justify the price, I think. Just doesn't bring enough to the table - although my opponent wasn't really fielding stuff that needed escorts badly. Maybe if he'd had a fleet of stuff that really skimped on defenses they'd have been relatively more valuable, but he'd have needed more of them as well to improve coverage.


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