F&E Strategy of The Month [continued]
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
When setting up the Lyran fleet, the Home Fleet is generally deployed at the starbase in hex 0608 except for seven ships. Six of these are deployed at the BATS in hex 0707. The seventh ship is deployed to the Capital in hex 0408. The deployments of these seven ships are the most important decisions the Lyran player will make during his initial setup.
Unfortunately, almost every Lyran player simply dumps the five largest ships and the best scout available (a scout if using basic Federation & Empire, a TG-P with scout pallet if using advanced electronic warfare) in hex 0707, then deploys a CL in hex 0408. This fails to take into account the possible missions assigned to the six ships in hex 0707 and shows no overall pre-planning in simply dropping a CL at home for conversion to a BC. Other options for deployment should be considered depending on your initial targets for Turns #1 and #2 as well as your long-term strategy.
The first or basic option is to deploy a DN, CC, 3xCA, and a scout in hex 0707, if your objective is to hit the Kzinti starbase in hex 0902. This is not a bad option, although a DN, CA, 3xCW, and a scout are probably a better option as the CWs are cheaper to repair than CAs and CCs. Combined with the bulk of the Red Claw Fleet, you have a reasonable chance to take hex 0902, unless the Kzintis deploy the entire Count's Fleet there. You will also have ships that are more expendable, if required, than placing every CA and CC in both the Red Claw and Home Fleets into a single attack.
Option two is to deploy three DWs to hex 0707 as part of your six ships. These ships are important parts of battle groups (315.0) and provide almost as much of a boost over three DDs as two CA hulls over two CL hulls. Round this group out with a DN or CC/CA, a CW, and a scout. Combined with a couple of CW and CA hulls from Red Claw Fleet, this becomes a potent force for attacking locations out of range of hex 0608, like the BATS hexes 0701 or 1004.
Option three is to simply deploy a Battle Group of three CWs and three DWs in hex 0707 and use it to reinforce a CC-led force from the Red Claw Fleet which is used to attack hexes 0701, 0902, or 1004. The remaining ships of the Home Fleet can easily reach hexes 0703 and 0803 without being forward deployed and, with the DN and CA hulls there to lead those forces, can easily overwhelm anything except a full reserve at both locations.
Another thing to consider is what your targets are for Turn #1 and what do you need to attack them. Putting your five largest ships and a scout in hex 0707 implies that you need those six ships to reach targets that ships in hex 0608 cannot reach. Do you really want to have all of your CA and CC hulls forward deployed so they can rush off five or six hexes into Kzinti space? That is telegraphing your intent to the Kzintis, which is fine if your objective is to have them over Kzintai on Turn #2 and do not care if he realizes that.
However, what ships are you going to leave behind to command the rest of the Home Fleet, which can only make it to the BATS in hex 0703 and the BATS in hex 0803? You certainly want to leave a CA or better flagship to lead the forces that will attack both those locations. You will also want to have a scout at each of those locations, so putting a scout in hex 0707 may not be the best plan unless you are using a scout pallet with your TG-P to get a little extra electronic warfare. Remember to plan your attack on those locations as you plan what ships to deploy to hex 0707. Do you want a CL with a command rating of six or a CA with a command rating of nine leading the BATS-busting missions?
Finally what about the seventh ship from the Home Fleet that will not deploy to hex 0608? Most players just pick a CL and deploy it to hex 0408, the capital, for conversion to a BC. While converting a CL into a superior BC is never a bad option, it is not always the best option, and does not require any ship to be left behind in hex 0408. You can substitute a CL for a CW once per turn if your only plan is to convert it to a BC. Consider placing a CA in hex 0408 for conversion to a DN, or DNL. While there is little advantage in converting a CA to a DN over a CL to a BC on Turn #1, converting a CA to a DNL will still allow this ship to reach hexes 0703 or 0803 to serve as a flagship in one of those hexes if you do decide that you need your other five large hulls forward deployed to hex 0707. Your JGP with a command module can lead the other BATS-busting force if required as well.
These options, combined with your deployment of the Red Claw Fleet, open far more possibilities than simply picking the five biggest ships, a scout, and a CL to deploy in hexes 0707 and 0408. Plan your attack, then pick the seven best ships for your attack plan, and you will find your initial attack has just a little more punch to it.
Rated the best Tactical Note in this issue.