January 2012

SFB Tactic of the month [continued]


     When flying a mobile fleet faced with a globular web - such as a Tholian pinwheel or Tholian fleet that has formed a web as you approach - speed management and timing become the critical factors in victory. The situation I mean to cover here is one where a web has been raised and is being hastily reinforced; if the web is already at high strength, some of this will not apply. You want to move at a speed to threaten the web on the first turn, so you need to cover the distance between your fleet and the web. You don't want to burn up your power on speed while he sits there juicing the web and overloading his guns, only to die because you entered the web too early.
     Thus, have a speed plot that lets you enter the web, if you choose to, late in the turn. Careful notice needs to be paid to his web strength; remember if the web is strength twelve or greater, you cannot enter it at a speed higher than twelve without risking a breakdown, however, the ideal here is not to enter the web on the first turn. Instead, you want to enter the web on the second turn, with a maximum deceleration speed plot. Waste no power on speed; you won't need it where you are going, and the power is far better spent on electronic warfare, shield reinforcement, and overloading weapons.
     The idea here is to keep the Tholian guessing. You have the ability to hit the web during the first turn, should he do something foolish; but you want to save your power for a maximum effort when you choose to hit it, not waste half of it in a high-speed dash across the map. Position here is also important: try to keep the Tholian guessing by presenting a flank shield to him (reinforced as much as possible), such that you have the option to sideslip or turn into the web. This way, if the Tholian fires phasers late during the first turn, he will hit a flank shield; and you will then turn into the web to present your forward shield to him during the second turn. Tholian web is a powerful defensive weapon; you must make him pay for using it and giving up the tactical initiative.
     Depending on the web strength, and potential web-strength increases early in the second turn, you will want to plot a speed that will allow you to enter the web as early in the second turn as possible, without risking a breakdown. Before entering the web, get as much use out of any tertiary systems as you can; make sure you launch shuttlecraft, but that they will be outside of the radius of any explosions when you hit the web, for example.
     Lastly, enter the web with your "shooters" all at once, all in a single hex. In any encounter such as this, the results are going to be bloody and explosive. The Tholian cannot afford to sit on his guns. He must shoot and shoot with everything, lest you target the one ship he held back to fire later by guesswork or sheer happenstance. It is to your advantage that all your fire, and as an unhappy side note, all the damage from your own ships' explosions, will strike the same shields on his ships. What will follow is a titanic blast, and you want to avoid spreading the damage over several of his shields while you take yours all on the facing shield.
     Support ships, such as scouts, should remain outside the web; they can loan electronic warfare freely through it, and can make sure your shot is the best possible. Drone ships or ships equipped with plasma-R torpedoes should also remain outside the web and bomb it from a distance; their advantages are greatly reduced when trapped in web.