DecEMBER 2012

SFB Tactic of the month [continued]


     Kzinti destroyers and frigates with Y175 refits have powerful B-racks and C-racks with lots of reloads, but are very short on shuttles. However, they can launch a wave of six drones - the maximum number that they can control - in a single turn. These powerful drone racks make them much less reliant on scatter-packs for building large waves of drones. Launched at long range, scatter-pack drone waves (even if they're made up entirely of dogfight drones) can tie down the ship's limited number of drone-control slots for long stretches of time. Launched closer in, the scatter-pack is likely to be shot down before it can release its drones. A wise Kzinti small-ship captain will therefore want to be a little choosier about when and how he uses his shuttles.
     Enemy ships can easily destroy even large drone waves, especially if they are armed with anti-drone racks or expanding sphere generators. While it may be fun to trick up the perfect mix of specialty drones, the fact that the target can simply turn away and eliminate them with a cheap T-bomb dropped out of a shuttle hatch makes this a risky proposition. Of course, if turning away from you will have really bad consequences (such as leaving a down shield wide open to direct-fire weapons) then it will probably be worth it, even if you do "waste" the drones.
     All other things being equal, you are only going to be able to overwhelm his defenses by following your drone wave in for an attack run. When he eliminates your first wave of drones, you'll be able to feed him a second wave of six more drones, right in his face, from your drone racks. Even if he can handle this, he probably will have used up his labs for drone identification already, and he'll have to fire phasers-1s at the drones that slip past his anti-drones or else risk getting hit by a type-IV drone, for example. This means less phaser fire on your ships, which should give you an edge after direct fire weapons have been resolved.
     Your two drone waves may even be overwhelming in and of themselves - forcing your opposing captain to either launch a wild weasel or be destroyed. This will no doubt eliminate your drone wave and leave you unable to feed him anymore from your racks for several impulses. This is the moment where your scatter-pack will be invaluable, as it will allow you to get a third drone wave on the board and moving directly towards a target that is barely moving and that is likely to have used up much of its phaser power. And wild weasel or not, if you've tracked his weapon fire carefully, you can be certain that he is unable to destroy your scatter-pack shuttle before it can release its drones. Don't launch the scatter-pack unless you are sure it will do some good.
     Because you are likely to be launching your scatter-pack immediately following a battle pass, consider loading it with Speed-32 drones so that they can be sure to catch up with your opponent before the turn break. Finally, if you're worried about him foiling your scatter-pack drones by turning away and dropping a T-bomb, the fact that you've made a battle pass gives you the option to leave some T-bombs of your own in the locations that you expect him to turn toward.