F&E Strategy of the Month Continued
THE BATTLE OF THE LINE BEGINS AT HOME
Traditionally, the Hydrans are forced to build a major shipyard as it is more economical in the long run than scrimping and constructing a medium shipyard (450.2). While the medium shipyard is cheaper (48 economic points versus 90 economic points), it lacks the ability to construct discounted hulls (CW, DW, FF). Unfortunately, the Hydrans need NSCs and NECs, and if pursuing a carrier strategy will likely need more AHs than the one per turn the Old Colonies' Starbase provides, and will probably want DWEs when Turn #17 (Y176F) comes around. Conveniently minor shipyards (450.1) do provide the ability to build these hulls but building just one of each consumes the money one would save by going the medium shipyard route (and gives you a smaller schedule!). Thus, constructing the medium shipyard provides false savings to the Hydrans.
Strategic Operations changes the whole equation with the introduction of Engineer Regiments (541.0). Because Engineer Regiments (ENGs) build minor shipyards for free, the Hydrans can build the cheaper medium shipyard for the standard hulls, and the free minor shipyards for the discounted hulls. While technically any empire could pursue this strategy, the Hydrans benefit from it the most. Larger empires (Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Lyran) have the money and the schedule to produce many (four or more) CWs a turn. The empires with the smaller build schedules (three war cruisers) do not lose as much from only being able to build two war cruisers a turn (the limit of minor shipyards). The Hydrans benefit the most because, of the smaller empires, they have the least amount of money, and thus are the least able to take advantage of a full schedule. In addition to saving the Hydrans 42 economic points (the difference in major and medium shipyards), which is almost eight TRs and a CU, the minor shipyards come online before the medium shipyard is finished, getting the Hydrans back into the fight even faster.
This also negates the Coalition strategy of not taking the Hydran capital but cutting it off from the Old Colonies. Normally such a strategy would starve the Hydran Fleet because the Old Colonies represent about half the Hydran economy by this time. By immediately sending their ENG to the Old Colonies, the Hydrans can industrially develop this region and churn out war hulls while their blockaded shipyard focuses on PALs and CAs. If the Hydrans strategic move their ENG to the Old Colonies on Turn #3, it will have a CW slipway ready for use on Turn #8.
If the Coalition refuses to take Hydrax, switch to an FF slipway because your ENG can then immediately start building a DW slipway on Turn #10 [the earliest possible turn; (709.3)]. If the Hydrans have been kicked off Hydrax (likely by Turn #5 or Turn #6), they will have three or four turns of building war cruisers before their medium shipyard is functional. In addition, the first war cruiser slipway is finished just in time to start building NSCs.
Finally, while one ENG can finish both war cruiser slipways and both frigate slipways before Turn #16 (when they can start building DW slipways), the Hydrans should consider building a minor conversion facility instead of one of the frigate slipways. This allows the Hydrans to build a frigate and convert it into a DWE immediately.
The one way the Hydrans would be hurt by this strategy is that they could not build HDWs (you cannot substitute in a minor shipyard). Fortunately, the Hydrans have both their LNHs, which they can substitute for the DD that remains on their medium shipyard schedule. Thus any drawbacks the Hydrans might face from building a medium shipyard are really not drawbacks at all. So now we know how the Hydrans, having historically lost 80% of the Royal Navy were able to rebuild and take back Hydrax. Hydran players, you have no excuses now. Get to it!
This was rated as the best Tactical Note in this issue. The grading pool for this issue was unusually strong and we could accomodate only a portion of the qualified papers.