July 2007

F&E Strategy of the Month Continued


2. Certain penal missions require automatically crippling the penal ship. However, for a penal PF flotilla, this only requires destroying three points of PFs, making this less of a penalty (or in the case of the sacrifice mission, less of an advantage).
3. The density of a penal PF flotilla is higher than any other penal ship, which makes them an excellent choice for Honor Duels.
These differences affect the effectiveness of Penal PFs in each of the three penal missions:
"Sacrifice" is perhaps the most used mission by penal ships, but penal PFs are far less effective at this mission. Although the expendability of a Penal PF lessens the pain of this mission, crippling the PF group only reduces three points from the opponent's damage total. Often this difference will not reduce damage enough to protect a key ship. The sacrifice mission therefore should not be used often with Penal PFs.
However, the "Special Attack" mission can be done effectively with Penal PFs in certain circumstances. This mission does not make a lot of sense for a penal cruiser, since the cruiser is automatically crippled. Rarely does the extra damage this mission yields warrant taking an extra 7-8 damage. However, with a penal PF flotilla, only 3 extra points fall upon the penal flotilla, making the mission more attractive. Still, this mission should only be chosen with a very high ComPot fleet or at low battle intensities; otherwise the fleet will do more damage simply using the Penal PF as a ten ComPot unit.
It is in the "Honor Duel" mission that Penal PFs excel. Only Penal PFs have enough density to make Honor Duels a good proposition. Against a five-point frigate, an Honor Duel has a 50% chance of destroying the ship, essentially giving an additional directed damage attack. This can be even more potent against a crippled ship. Even against bigger ships, the Honor Duel option will have a positive economic impact in the long run.
For example, Honor Dueling a Hydran cruiser pits a unit worth 2.5 economic points against a unit worth 10-11 economic points, with an even chance of each being destroyed (as a bonus, the "destruction" of the PF group only destroys seven points of PFs). Look to target BCHs, Federation DN+s, Hydran LMs and CAs, or visiting Gorn CCs and BCs for the most effective use of this tactic.
The Honor Duel can also be used for a couple tricky attacks, such as destroying the outer escort for a G ship or PF tender (but sadly, not a carrier). This might allow a directed damage attack against what looked like a safe ship.
Build both Penal PF flotillas as soon as they are available, and enjoy the extra options they provide!