FC TACTIC OF THE MONTH [Continued]
BORING IN ON THE THOLIANS
- Cadet Burke G. Sheppard, USS North Carolina
For a Klingon player, Tholians can be among the toughest opponents in Federation Commander. Tholian ships are better shielded, and have excellent Turn Modes. They generally have a good suite of FX phaser-1s, as well as disruptors. Some are fitted with a web caster, which can be used to throw a web fist, which is something like a photon torpedo would be if photon torpedoes could fire every turn and had a 50-50 hit probability at Range 20. They may have actual photon torpedoes as well. Against this kind of long-range firepower, the Klingons simply cannot saber dance the way they can against Federation ships, because the cold, hard fact is that at long range, the Tholians can inflict more damage. Tholians fitted with web generators can use a web snare, which gives them a very effective and energy-efficient defense against drones.
The Tholians also have weaknesses, however, which a shrewd Klingon commander can exploit. They have no seeking weapons, apart from suicide shuttles. This means that the Klingons can make free use of evasive maneuvers. The Tholians have fewer transporters than the Klingons, and a lot fewer Marines. It is risky for them even to attempt hit-and-run raids, since heavy losses of boarding parties may leave them unable to fight off a boarding attempt. Tholian ships tend to be chronically under-powered. Most cannot power all of their weapons and still plot Speed 24, although there are exceptions. Finally, although the Tholians have good shields, once these go down there is usually not much actual ship in there. They cannot take a lot of internal damage.
As the fighter pilots say, speed is life. Attack at Speed 24. On Impulse #1 of Turn #1 declare Evasive Maneuvers, and remain under Evasive Maneuvers until you get close enough to do some good. At a minimum, this means inside Range 5, and may mean Range Zero-1. Buy acceleration during Turn #1 in order to close the distance as quickly as possible. Leave reserve power equal to your batteries so you can soak up a little damage without dipping into the batteries. You may not be able to reach a firing position that favors you on Turn #1. If so, continue Evasive Maneuvers into Turn #2. Do not worry if the power cost leaves you unable to overload your disruptors, because you are going for directed damage against the Tholian's power systems. Tholians are short on power, so hit their power systems hard. Every point will hurt. If the Tholians plot Speed 24, buy acceleration on impulses when you intend to fire, so you can set up the best possible shot.
You want to be close enough to do hit-and-run raids when a shield goes down. Conduct hit-and-run raids against web devices whenever possible. If the Tholians conduct hit-and-run raids against you, note their losses and be alert to the possibility that their losses of Marines may leave them vulnerable to being boarded.
Although ships with web generators have a powerful anti-drone defense, they are not drone proof. They have to take your drones on a side shield to use a web snare, so you can still use drones to control their movement to some extent. You can launch a single drone to at least force them to burn a single point of power - every little bit helps. If you are just trying to force them to use power, you might want to launch only one drone. Conserve ordnance for when a web generator goes down. If a Tholian ship has web casters but no web generators, concentrate your drones on that ship.
A special note about Tholian dreadnoughts. These come in two flavors, the standard dreadnought, and the improved DPW version dreadnought. The DPW dreadnought packs web casters instead of web generators. The DPW dreadnought will therefore rely on its many phaser-3s for drone defense, but these do not cover the forward shield at all; they fire mainly to the rear arc. You may be able to get drones in through a downed forward shield. For both the standard dreadnought and the DPW dreadnought the heavy weapons, and most of the phaser-1s, have arcs of L+LF or R+RF. If you bore in and get close, you cut his effective firepower since he will not be able to bring all of his weapons to bear.
For a Klingon facing Tholians, speed and aggression are critical. You must close quickly, and reach a firing position that favors you before his long-range firepower inflicts too much damage. You will take some damage, but you can inflict more than they can absorb.