I like to fly the Feds. Actually, most people like to fly the Feds. Most people also suck. Therefore, most Feds suck. I cannot dispute this. Looking at a larger-scale server like Artic’s old server or Canada West and seeing a HUGE number of Feds on who are steadily losing ground while the ISC takes root in their living room makes the case clear.
I’ve already elaborated on why sucky players like to fly the Feds. I wish they could stop sucking. I wish maybe they could get a clue. More than anything else, I wish they would play some other race so people could stop whining about the blue plague, while at the same time suffering with the mass incompetence of the average player that plagues the Feds. This is too much to hope for.
Since nobody reads this page anyway, I have therefore decided to start laying down some interesting ideas about using the Federation ships to advantage. Hopefully a few Feds will read this and either learn how to not suck quite so damn much, or be so overwhelmed with the micromanagement required to fly the Feds correctly that they go jump into some less generalized race.
GENERAL NOTE ABOUT FEDERATION SHIPS
Federation ships are HARD to fly well. The over-generalized nature of their systems, combined with severe powerlack (especially in early era) make them a freaking headache. The up side of this is that if you can stand the torture of watching 5 menus at once while counting range and watching angles in 2 different POV’s, you can actually do most missions pretty well. The baseline vessels have extremely varied systems, combining phasers, drones, AMD, possibly fighters, and that finicky but versatile photon. This adds a whole new level of management complexity when measured against a 7 drone rack Mirak MDC or a plasma and phaser 1 Gorn flying cereal box. The Klingons are about as hard to manage in many ways, and the Lyrans are… well, weird. You need to fly a Lyran ship to understand.
If you’re basically a one-trick pony kind of guy, you should probably not be flying Federation, or if you must, get something like an NCD so you can drone away like a Mirak with a bad turn radius.
BASIC INTERFACE SKILLS
The fact that you have to juggle 15 systems at once to get the most out of your underpowered CC+ means you waste time jumping around to various menus. If SFC2 had a gump system like the UO screen, I’d be running in 1600×1200 with 2/3 of my screen covered in system displays. Cut down on your menu flipping time by getting familiar with some of the interface’s functions. Useful functions I’ve practiced with include:
Power Management MFD
You need to live in this. I usually have this up all the time, and occasionally flip to the minimap to see how close I am to being hosed by the map edge. My default power priorities are Systems 3, Weapons 3, Tractors 5, Shield Reinforcement 5, and Electronic Warfare 4. Some people like to prioritize EW over weapons.
Electronic Warfare MFD
When your life depends on an unreliable torpedo that misses a lot on a 1 shift, you need to keep an eye on this. If you’re really nuts, you constantly adjust your ECM/ECCM levels depending on how the enemy is shifting so you can squeeze the most power possible out of your pathetic power plant. Keep in mind the break points for ECM: advantage 1-3 = 1 shift, 4-8 = 2 shift, 9-15 = 3 shift, and 16-24 = 4 shift. Yes it’s possible to get a 4 shift, if you happen to be in a nebula in a small ship with a good power curve. Feds and Klingons need to pay more attention to their EW panel than other races whose weapons don’t rely on electronic warfare, especially drones and plasma.
The 2 most useful camera angles are overhead (F1) and chase (F3). Overhead is great for ducking asteroids, multiple opponents, dropping transporter bombs, etc. Chase view I find is better for micromanaging angles relative to the target, if you want to run directly away all the time or approach on an oblique shield.
Minimizes the need to refer to all the other MFD’s. Hotkeys I use constantly are erratic maneuvers (NUM /), follow (NUM *), speed (S/D), emergency stop (NUM INS), high energy turn (NUM 5), defensive tractor toggle (C), max point defense (V), deep scan (I), scatterpack (E), suicide shuttle (Q), wild weasel (W), and shield reinforcement facings (NUM 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Sliding this thing up and down is necessary to preserve power for other systems when doing things like fighting with torpedoes (phasers for point defense only), scouting or recovering data, or starcastling. Some people like to slide it partway down the bar to decrease power draw. I don’t like this personally; you draw less power, but you’re charging longer. The only time I personally use a partial phaser draw is if I’m in some horrible underpowered pig, sitting still at the top of a mission, unable to charge everything at once.
In addition to this, you need to get good at watching your screen for what’s important, which could mean scanning 3 sections simultaneously. Nothing’s more harrying than trying to close for a 2.9/0.9 overrun while trying to watch range and your electronic warfare, but if you don’t want to waste your risky approach, you need to do it.
THE PHOTON TORPEDO
The photon torpedo, the thing which turns people off from playing Feds sometimes, is exactly why I like them. Yes the photon has been basically nerfed as an indirect result of all other heavy weapons receiving some sort of bonus in SFC2. Yes it misses. Yes most people just turn them off. However, no other heavy weapon is as versatile as the photon, and if you can learn how to use all of its aspects without pulling your hair out from the micromanagement, it’s pretty decent.
The first thing you’ll see in any general strategy post/guide for the Federation is how wonderful proxies are. I think these people are out of their minds. Proximity mode photons enable you to fire at opponents who are really far away, and possibly hit them for a negligible amount of damage. Prox monkeys will do this all day out of fear of being hit by anything, and may actually eventually win a mission like this after an hour or two.
Proximity photons have specific uses. The things I find proximities useful for are as follows:
1. Starbase Assaults
2. Firing at morons who fly around at speed 31 far away from you chucking drones
3. Peeling at 12.9 versus plasma
4. Annoying Brezgonne for 5 minutes at range 50 so he doesn’t see it coming when you swoop in with overloads
The reason that I personally despise proximity mode for most applications is the power/damage return. You’re investing 4 points of power over a 2 turn wait, with a holding cost of 1 thereafter, for a small chance of inflicting some damage that won’t get through decent shield reinforcement. Once fired, you have to wait 2 turns to recharge at increased power costs, during which time any smart captain will simply crank up to close with you and force feed you his torpedoes, which will not be in proximity mode. The "standard" tactic of pegging away with proxies at range until you somehow miraculously manage to down a shield is utterly inconceivable to me. Who has an hour to waste on a patrol? Use proximities for the things you should be using them for, not as your default setting.
The overload is where I think the real utility of the photon lies. People complain that the overloaded photon isn’t nearly as good as it was in SFB. No crap. Neither are the ISC ships, and I’ll take double internals vs. my photons in exchange for ISC ships which are almost reasonable. Even with doubled internals, overloaded photons are a great ace in the hole. A ship with 4 overloaded photons at 2.9 will kill almost any shield for a follow-up phaser mizia, and at 8.9 will still have a decent chance of at the very least redlining it. Everything depends on your timing and you ECM management. The best thing about overloads is that with one exception, no human opponent I’ve played against on the Dynaverse has expected it. They must have read those strategy guides.
Normal mode is the least desirable mode for me. It’s something I swap to if I’ve been planning on proxying, and suddenly an opportunity to close to 8.9 or closer presents itself. Never ever fire normals at less than 2.0, as the buggy ass game will give you 4 points of feedback per torpedo hit, same as an overload. Normal mode is occasionally useful if you want to charge heavy weapons but need to keep your speed high to duck missiles or multiple ships, or to chase down an escaping opponent; either switch both to normal, or only some of your torpedo banks, as the situation requires.
The other situation where normals are decent is planetary assault. I haven’t missed yet with a normal at 12.9 (or 30) versus a planet, so why suffer with proximity mode?
BASIC FED OVERRUN
It seems a little out of place to post something so obvious on this page, but after suffering through a few co-op missions where I am drafted by a Fed pilot who fires nothing but proxies at an AI, or consistently misses with all photons, I better drop a quick note here.
The overrun is a basic technique straight out of SFB for the Feds, and the technique you’ll use most often vs AI-controlled Klingons, Mirak, Hydrans, and maybe anyone else if there’s an opportunity (i.e. ESG or plasma is gone). The basic idea is that you charge straight at them and unload everything you have at point-blank, hopefully gutting the enemy ship. In SFC, with the changes made to internals and damage, the only way this makes any sense is with overloaded photon torpedoes.
The first thing you need to be aware of if electronic warfare. You should always be aware of this, but if you blow an overrun because you miscalculated your ECM shift, you deserve whatever horrible fate lies in store for you. Always have a zero shift, and if you like, have one extra point in ECCM, since the enemy’s ECM rating might shift up suddenly when you get into firing range.
The second thing is when to fire. Photon torpedoes do 4 points of feedback damage to you, normal or overload, per torpedo that hits at range 0-1.9. Assuming your ECM shift is zero, they will always hit at this distance, so a shot from 4 photons at range zero will do 16 points of damage to your own shield. Whether or not this is worth it depends on your circumstances, but unless a hit is absolutely crucial and there’s no other way (i.e. it’s a PvP fight and this is your only chance to fire due to enemy maneuvering), do not do this with normal torpedos. You’re taking 50% as much damage as you’re dishing out in this case, hardly worth it.
On the other hand, as long as you are taking the risk of an overrun, your phaser fire is best reserved for range 0-0.9. If you keep weapons charge at a higher priority than ECM in the power management panel, this is a good reason to maintain an extra point in ECCM. Once you fire your photons, they’ll start sucking power away from your EW systems, but with an extra point, you should still maintain a zero shift when you close to phaser range.
Drone fire, if you want to use as part of your overrun, should happen at around range 1.0 exactly (or maybe 0.8 or 0.9, you need to play with it to find out minimum drone range). Firing in front of your target as you close to phaser range give you the advantage of maybe sneaking some past his point defense on the same shield you just gutted. On the other hand, you could hold your drones until after you pass over him to see if you got lucky and stunned/killed his AMD systems, tractors, and/or shuttlebay to try ensuring a hit.
Once your overrun is complete, your weapon systems should all be expended (unless you have some weird ship like the NCM or BCE with rear firing torps), and you’re a lame duck running away with your rear shield facing the enemy, For this reason, if you know you’re going for a straight overrun head-on against an enemy who will be slower than you, reinforce the fore and aft shields only… fore shield for the attack, rear shield for the escape.
One more thing about the overrun, especially your first overrun… consider slowing down as you get clsoe enough for the enemy to start firing at you, especially if he’s AI or a human who you don’t think is expecting it, like a saberdancing Klingon disruptor ship. Throw the excess power into your shield reinforcement: you will still coast in fairly quickly as your ship decelerates.
The peel is probably one of the most successful tactics I and others have run across. The idea is simple: run in, fire all your torpedoes at a specific range to avoid getting pounded by superior armament, and run like hell. It’s a good alternative to the two primary Federation tactics: the overrun, a holdover from SFB when photons were god weapons, and the proxy monkey, the foundation of countless incredibly long and boring engagements. The problem with the peel is that it actually requires some skill to pull off successfully.
The basic steps to perform the peel are as follows:
- Charge all weapons, photons to overload or prox as necessary for the range of the peel.
- Set repelling tractors if you think it’s necessary (usually not if you pull it off successfully).
- Bring up your EW panel to keep an eye on it during the approach.
- Approach target as fast as you can while maintaining your systems (weapons holding, EW, shield reinforcement, maybe erratic maneuvers if you have a small boat) at exactly 45 degrees. THIS IS CRUCIAL. The idea is to approach on an oblique shield at the very limit of the photons’ FA firing arc, saving your front shield for the possibility of an overrun later. Speed should be at least 20ish if you’re looking at fast drones or plasma.
- Fire all torpedoes at your specified range, usually 8.9 or 12.9.
- Immediately turn directly away from the target and ramp up speed. You might want to change your reinforcement to the rear shield with hotkeys now, as you might be doing some rabbit fighting shortly.
Maintaining the 45 degree angle can be tricky, but if you use the F3 view (chase w/target lock), you can find the point on your screen (red dot in above picture) which keeps you at that angle relative to the target, and just continually click it. Generally the point you want to be facing the target is just a little behind the vertex of the 1 and 2 or 1 and 6 shields, depending on your approach.
Now if your angle was at about 45 degrees, you can execute the tightest turn manageable after unloading your weapons at optimal range. Assuming you were doing this in a ship with 4 photons on overload like an NCL, and maintained a proper ECM shift of zero, you will on average do 32 damage to the facing shield, which is enough to make most captains blink. Now, you may have gotten lucky and done internals, or you might have missed with everything. Go ahead and cry about the unfair treatment of the photon while minimizing return fire effectiveness. You are now turning away from the enemy, increasing speed, and mitigating the power of any plasma or fast drones that might be heading in your direction. If the enemy flinches and fires everything he has at you right after you pound him, he will probably be doing it as you turn, thus spreading his phaser damage across your other shields. Bonus.
The peel is primarily for ships that have decent power and a turn radius of 3 or better. For the porky power-starved Feds, this means the NCL, NCL+ and CLC. You can do it in a CA hull, but beware of the CA class’s terrible turning radius. Versus plasma, 8.9 is just too damn close, and you will eat more than your share of damage peeling at 8.9 against any decent plasma heavy cruiser hull. A CA hull can try to peel at 12.9 using proximity mode to move a bit faster and have some more room to run, but you’ve basically just cut your photon damage down from an average of 32 to about 11. You might be able to do it more successfully versus a drone monkey. Maybe.
Also note the fact that you don’t want to be firing your phasers on the peel, torpedoes only. Phasers, despite all the hoopla surrounding them as your "primary weapon," are really wasted at this range, and worse, in order to escape plasma return fire, you will have to waste more time charging your weapons. If a plasma opponent flinches when he eats the overloads and unloads his tubes, he is now out of the torpedo game for 3 turns. You are out for 2 turns if all you are doing is recharging torpedoes, allowing you a chance at a free range 2 shot if you can manage it, followed up by phasers at 0. Save the phasers for close range finishing, or maybe an opportunity shot through a dead shield.
THE CVA PEEL
The Federation CVA and CVA+ are really good ships, especially with decent fighters in the bay. The problem with fighters is that no matter how careful you are versus an enemy ship with AMD, your fighters will stupidly bite the dust more often than you would like them to, even in harass mode. This tends to happen against the Mirak and the Klingons, who pack antimissile kits.
One solution is to use the peel technique outlined above. The CVA hull has a crappy turn radius of 4, but this is offset somewhat by the fact that you are fighting missile boats, which let you peel slightly closer, and the fact that the CVA has dreadnought shielding to compensate. Set all of your fighters to "Defend Me" and peel away. With some luck and decent timing, your fighters stick close to you, stay away from AMD, and best of all, launch those pesky little fighter missiles at the target as you veer off. The fighter missiles are not really there to do significant damage as much as to eat the AMD of the enemy. When you see the target eating fighter missiles, or resorting to defensive tractors, launch your mothership’s missiles.
THE SUICIDE WEASEL
Ths is an incredibly complex and stupid idea I used a few days ago versus an ISC CAW in the CC+ in PvP, a terrible mismatch. It’s here mainly to illustrate the potential of the Federation ship when micromanaged to an absurd degree.
The fight started out with me trying a 12.9 peel and managing to miss with all 4 photons. This meant the ISC ship was then flying up my rear for a long time, forcing me to play stupid games with rear-firing phasers, variable speed, and transporter bombs. Eventually he slowed to charge torps or reinforce or something, and I had to resort to proxy monkeying for a bit. This caused him to starcastle (moving very slowly with high electronic warfare and reinforcement), nullifying the terrible hitting power of the proximity photon. But he slowed down! I now charged overloads, visions of dropping a forward shield running through my head.
By the time the overloads were charged, he has sped up and looked about ready to start the big tail chase again, and I had to run ahead of him again. To continue this nonsense, I would have to turn off my torpedoes. My precious overloads! But then I had another idea. I…
- Charged a Wild Weasel
- Changed Shield Reinforcement to front
- Waited for him to close to about 12, then hit the High Energy Turn (NUM 5) and Follow (NUM *)
- Turned into him, closed to about 4, fired everything I had through the front of his hull, launched the Weasel (W), and cut speed slider down to 0 to throw energy into the front, and hit max ECM (F)
- Watched his reflex-fired plasmas fly into the weasel as he got the "Cannot Tractor Target" message and ate his phaser fire on the reinforced front
- Cackled with glee
Talking about this with Kel Riever later, he suggested this idea could be further augmented by targeting the enemy’s plasma torpedo tubes with Hit & Run but pausing Hit & Run, waiting for his return volley, then firing a phaser 3 or something to break the Weasel, and transporting aboard his ship, while tractoring him and waiting to fire another volley of overloads after 2 turns. It’s one of those things that works well in SFB where you can think about every phase of every turn, but it’s possible in SFC if you don’t mind the occasional aneurism from trying to manage all of this.
CHEESING THE GORN WITH THE CVA+
If you wind up on some server where the feds are not allied with the Gorn, you can mindlessly crunch your way through Gorn space with a CVA+. The Gorn have really been screwed in a way with SFC, although the plasma improvements make up for it to some extent. Not versus fighters, though.
In SFB, Gorn ships were (believe it or not) GREAT at point defense, and fighters moved at a speed between 6 and 12 or 16. Gorn ships had external shuttle racks, and a funny technique was for them to pop out 12 shuttles at once at range 1 or so after an alpha exchange. In SFC, they have no such ability, and they really have crap for point defense until the BB with its plasma D. However even the BB will suffer from this, it just takes a little longer.
Load proximities in the CVA+ and run at the enemy. Launch fighters on ‘Defend Me" when you can, and pop out some drones at a range where they will actually connect (around 50ish for medium drones). Fire more drones when they become available so 8 are heading for him and set fighters on "Attack" or "Harass," depending on how cheap you are. (I recommend "Attack" if your fighter really rule, like the Raven II series.) Now circle like an idiot at speed 24ish at around range 20 to 30, recalling fighters when you need to, and firing drones and proximities when you feel like it. If he weasels, so what… your fighters will reload their drones, and you can unload a scatterpack after he voids the weasel if you’re really feeling cruel.
This is one of those cases where it pays to load type IV drones. In a smaller ship with less racks fighting AMD-armed races, I will often load type I’s, since I just know a bunch of them are going down to mines, weasels, and AMD fire. The thing to remember here is that your fighters are your weapons. The fighters will destroy the ship. If you fire drones, it’s because he’s coming out of weaseling away from you fighters’ missiles, and you want the hit to count.
This abominable tactic can also work well, with some modifications, against Romulans and ISC, although the Romulans tend to fly around in plasma-D ships for this very reason.
KILLING STUFF QUICKLY IN THE BISMARCK
I really still don’t love the Bismarck (F-BCF), although I’ve been flying it for about 4 days on CW3. However, there is one thing it’s really exceptionally good at, and that is killing the AI incredibly quickly (Klingon, Mirak, Hydran, maybe Lyran). This is very useful on Dynaverse 2 when you are stealing a neutral hex out from underneath some Klingon who’s been working on it (heh heh).
Patrol vs. AI Ship: Klingon
Red alert, charge to overload, make your speed 5. When phaser capacitor is full, accelerate to 16, saving one power for a probe at your target. Once photons are charged, accelerate to 24, and if your target has no AMD, fire drones once you hit about speed 24 and are at range 70 or closer. Make sure your EW is set correctly. Once you get to about range 20ish or so, slow to 20 or so to reinforce shields. Group photons and plasma together (I usually hit my photon group, and shift-click the plasma, then swap back to the EW panel). Fire all photons/plasma at range 2.9, fire all phasers at 0. If the target is not dead yet, pass over him or whatever, and swing to bear on him again while slowing to 4, which allows you to recharge everything and maintain 2 points of EW (usually 1/1). Fire at will until dead. If you are really worried about killing it quickly and it’s pretty big, prepare a scatterpack; if he weasels from the plasma, wait for the weasel to void and let him have it.
This is what the BCF really rules at; you can be confident vs a base station or battle station alone. Kill or capture the defending ships, charge proximities, reinforce the front, maintain heavy EW (at least a 2 shift in your favor if at all possible) and close to 12.9. Prepare scatterpacks if you want, though bases are very missile resistant. To hit a specific shield with plasma, let loose at the midpoint of the previous shield in rotation, i.e. a base rotating clockwise and targeting the #4 shield, you fire plasma at the midpoint of the #5 shield. When the plasma hits, fire photons; only fire phasers if you sucessfully drop the shield. If the base weasels from the plasma, save your weapons; plasma alone will not kill a weasel, so if you want to fire again faster than the weasel is allowing, hit it with a drone or phasers. Rotate between your 3 strong shields, reinforcing as needed, to distribute phaser 4 damage. If the base loses its AMD, a lot of its PD phasers, and some tractors, fire scatters if you feel like it. When the phaser 4′s are gone, feel free to close to 5 and proceed to capture the base for extra presige (using disabling phasers only to cut down on the defending marines).
Planetary Assault vs. Phaser 4 Planet
You pretty much do this like you would in a Kirov, except the fact that you only have 2 drone racks means you will be using scatterpacks instead of 4 type IV missiles at range 26 to drop the facing shield and do damage to the phasers. Once you think you have the phasers killed, close to 8.9 with overloads and keep bombing with OL photons and plasma F. Nothing worse than closing to range 0 only to find out they’ve repaired their weapons just then. Your basic idea is to bomb them into sumission, then bomb them more, then close to 5 to steal parts and drop off marines. Vs. a phaser planet, drop as many marines as you can as quickly as you can. Don’t let them repair their damn weapon systems by being cheap on your expendables.
STUCK IN A DESTROYER
A lot of the newer D2 servers start out new pilots in better ships than frigates… if you count BPV only. For the Feds, this usually means they get chumped into the absolutely terrible F-DD while other races get ships that are actually good. The primary tactic when faced with this eventuality is to sell your DD as soon as possible and get something far superior, like a frigate. However, the DD can be flown, despite popular rumor. If you are a masochist, or are one of those grizzled old school beer swilling SFB types who likes to contend that a ship with no power is still good, there are some basic ideas you can use to advantage.
The F-DD has 19 power. This is horrible. You will be completely unable to do the 4 overload tactics, and even loading your weapons can require you to sit absolutely still. Get in the practice of managing your torpedo power with half-overloads, turning off one hardpoint, using (ick) normal loads, sliding the phaser capacitor to maintain EW if you need it, etc. Not even the F-FF is as sucky for power as the F-DD. You may even have to use your battery.
Because of the aforementioned powerlack, you can’t be sparing a lot of power for electronic warfare. If your position is purely defensive, use Evasive Maneuvers to save power (3 power for 4 ECM). If you’re doing suicidal overruns or even peels where the negative attack shift won’t hurt you (i.e. you’re not going to be shooting down drones/fighters with your phasers on the way in) use evasive maneuvers on the way in, turn them off with the / key just prior to firing, and turn them back on if you can spare the power. Because EM takes times to ramp up, you can double tap the / key prior to firing, getting them back on as fast as possible after your tubes are dry.
EDIT: In v2036, EM is changed so that they go into effect as soon as they are activated, but there is a delay between deactivation and the ability to use them again. Therefore, you can possibly close, take your shot, and immediately go to EM to defend against return fire.
Initial Half-Overload Charge
If you’re looking at a tactic/opponent where you can afford to be moving at 12ish or slower (starcastling comes to mind), you can do a half-overload torpedo setup. Red alert, overload one hardpoint, and slide down the phaser capacitor until your weapons draw is 14.9 (for some reason you can’t actually draw 15.0). When the probe charges after one turn, slide up to 16.0. Slide it all the way up or down as you need to once the phaser cap is full. Once you fire the overloads, change the hardpoint back to normal. Your power sucks way too much to screw around with charging overloads if you want to stay alive.
F-DD vs. Drone Monkey 4 Peel Early Era
If you wind up in the horrible DD and draw a lot of Mirak DD’s, charge normal torpedos and do peels at range 4.9 with speed 20ish or so on the approach. It’s a sad sad version of the true 4 overload peel, but assuming you can somehow have a zero shift with your terrible power curve, you’ll average about 21 damage on the facing shield and get away from slow drones, and hopefully stay away from tractors. Tbomb any scatterpacks that pose a threat to save your phaser power.
F-DD vs. H-LN/Hornet I’s
Start with a half overload opening as described above. Preset your ECCM to 2.
When photons are charged, speed 10, turn on evasive maneuvers.
When the fighters launch (AI does this at about 30, players may hold them or launch around 10, or very early if stupid) move laterally to get them separated from the H-LN.
Wait for them to launch hellbores, hopefully mitigated by evasive maneuvers. Soon as they do, turn off evasive, speed 16, charge right for them, photon them one shot at a time at best range possible. Vs. the AI, the photons usually kill one group, and you can overrun the other with PD phasers, or tbomb whatever’s left in F1 view.
Once this is done, turn off photons and ECCM, turn on evasive again, ramp up speed to get away from the LN who’s riding your tail now. Drop a mine and/or transport one on him to deter pursuit before th EM kicks in. Try to Tbomb right on him to catch the paper rear shield.
Phaserboat for a little bit, using evasive to counter the short range power of the fusion cannons until optimal shot presents itself, when you turn off EM (/ key) fire phasers and run again, turning on EM again.
You can phaser/tbomb the mothership pretty effectively for a while until it feels safe to get away, slow to a crawl and turn on torps again to speed up this inanely long process.
Vs. a human player who wants to hold his fighters until after your weapons are shot, I figure you can probably treat him like a Klingon initially; maintain erratics until you get to 2.9 or so, then 2.9/0.9 overrun, turn off torps, turn on EM, and run, switching to F1 view to immediately tbomb the fighters coming out. Might get lucky and catch the fighters AND the aft shield of the LN if he’s itchy on the launch button.
BIG HULL LITTLE HULL
For a long time I was under the impression that anything bigger than a F-CLC was somehow crippled. What I didn’t realize was that it was the fact that I was trying to fly battlecruisers and dreadnoughts like light cruisers that was crippling me. The main thing to consider when figuring out how a particular hull should be flown is the power to movement cost ratio.
Larger hulls normally have bigger power plants than small hulls, which is necessary because they also have higher prices for speed. A F-DNH with 61 power have a move cost of 1.5. A F-CLC with 32 power only costs .67 per point of speed. Both ships are uncharacteristic of the Fed in that they aren’t just plain underpowered, and both can move at a pretty decent clip even with overloads held. However, there’s way more benefit to slowing down in the F-DNH than there is in the F-CLC.
Slowing down by 4 in the F-DNH gives you 6 power to throw into things like tractors, electronic warfare, and shield reinforcement. To get that same 6 power in the F-CLC requires you to cut your velocity by 9, which is far more significant especially considering the relative fragility of the light cruiser hull. At the extreme end of the slowness scale, starcastling at speed 3, it’s pretty obvious that the F-DNH wins out clearly with massive reinforcement, while the F-CLC gets a lousy 11 points or so of shield reinforcement with 4 overloads and max EW.
On the other hand, techniques like the peel work extremely well in the F-CLC, while bigger porkier hulls can only pull it off if they happen to have big fat shields to compensate for their slow turning and acceleration classes. Turn mode 3 is very very different from turn mode 4 when trying to peel a plasma boat: it’s the difference between possibly taking no damage at all from return fire and eating 2 S torpedoes in the 4 shield. Ships with a lower move cost also tend to accelerate faster, which is important as you cravenly flee at 31 from your target so you can slow to 2 to recharge everything a healthy distance away.
In between these two extremes fall ships like the CA class vessels, the battlecruisers, and some of the really sad early era vessels like the F-DD. These are ships that lack the compensating shielding and firepower of the heavier late dreadnoughts, but still suffer from turn 4 and an inability to move quickly while keeping systems powered. Not being perfectly suited to either approach (zip around at high velocity or move slowly and charge tons of systems), they wind up being the most challenging to fly well.
Ultimately, there’s probably a little more benefit to heavier hull ships in PvP matches in terms of system power and hull strength, which is why they cost more. A lot depends on your style though. A light cruiser is perfectly capable of taking out a battlecruiser depending on ship type and pilot skill. Mixed fleets of human-controlled ships can be difficult to coordinate well, but can benefit strongly if everyone plays to the strengths of his vessel and complements the others. An F-CLC and F-NCC can work well together in a number of ways; the CLC can run in for initial peel and drawing weapons fire, with the NCC closing in right behind for a brief slugging, or the CLC can skirt the battle for rear position while the NCC concentrates on defense and fire draw. Playing with ideas like this lead to great techniques like the Decoy Frigate.
THE DECOY FRIGATE
This is something Dizzy and I were doing way back on ArticFires when he was new on the server and stuck in a horrible frigate, with me in an equally horrible CA+. Versus one large Klingon opponent, we played to the strengths of our ships and did the following:
- Charged weapons, and moved in on the enemy at moderate speeds, the frigate using EW and EM to improve defense, CA+ following behind at about range 4 with a tractor charged and a scatterpack
- Frigate takes the disruptor/phaser fire, which is strongly mitigated by EW and EM
- Frigate ceases erratics and starts a HET at about 6-7 from the enemy; CA+ drops a scatter
- Frigate blows all weapons fire at 4.9, HET activates, he runs away at high speed instantly
- CA+ tractors enemy ship, blows all weapons fire through the same shield (or lack thereof), and the scatterpack goes off
CORNER PLASMA ESCAPE
A trick I used and forgot about until someone brought it up on Taldren. This is a possible escape for little ships with a 100% HET capability to get away from a cornering plasma boat with a tractor, but it can be (and has been) used by command cruisers and battlecruisers.
There is a small area just past the marked border where you will still not leave the map. Using this area, you can HET-skate around the pursuer as you close to the corner and whip around in a trajectory that puts you in a good tactical withdrawal vector, made more effective if you drop a few presents along the way.
Like any empire, the Federation suffers from horrible BPV formulae and ship imbalancing. This means there are specific ships you want to go for, and certain ships to avoid at all costs. Here are some of my personal choices for haves and have-nots. Some people like the underdog ships, for whatever reason. Always try out a potential purchase in skirmish before you buy.
Ships that Don’t Suck
These are really good ships for their class and base point values. Thanks to horrible BPV calculation algorithms, you will come out ahead of the majority of enemy ships that get matched against you, enabling you to save up more and more prestige so you can do nothing with it.
FQL (2260) – The large Q ship! This porky freighter is a great early campaign choice when the Feds are sucking for weapons, power, and everything else. The turn rate of 4 isn’t that big a deal to someone used to the pain of turning Fed ships, and you can live without mines or probes. However, 28 power and a move cost of .50 is the key. Move fast and charge all weapons, keep EW up, and reinforce shields just for kicks. Evasive maneuver for 3 power for 4 natural ECM when defending. The big thing is that all cargo ships have GIANT internals, especially with doubling the internals in SFC2. You have 100 cargo boxes full of styrofoam to eat damage for you.
DE (2268) – The only worthwhile destroyer… still not as good as the NCL variants, but cheap and powerful enough. Still has sucky 19 power, but the 4 G racks don’t need it, you have only 2 torpedoes, and best of all, 4 phaser G’s, the most efficient power-to-damage weapons for overruns. 4 AMD racks keep you comfy in the Mirak/Klingon zones. Avoid the DER at all costs.
NCL (2270) and variants – This is the first Federation ship besides the large Q that doesn’t suck for power, and you can’t use the large Q for everything. Key is the the .67 movement cost, allowing you to get away from pesky plasma and drone chuckers while still arming. Turn rate of 3 allows you to peel successfully. The NCL+ and CLC variants of this ship are better than the baseline, but really, you could fly this thing forever and not mind. Upgrade if possible anyway, especially to the CLC in 2275, for its hefty front arc shielding, which lends itself well to variable peel choices.
NCD (2271) and + variant – I actually don’t like the NCD/NCD+, but that’s just because I personally find drone ships to be very boring. However, if you happen to like drone ships, or are fighting in an area like the Gorn or ISC front where drones are good to have, the NCD/NCD+ is a really good drone cruiser, and pretty cheap. Except, of course, for the drones. Fire at range 1 for maximum stupidity.
NEC (2273) – This is a good ship for the ISC front. For those who like to rake in close at zero, you just can’t beat 4 phaser G’s, and the 5 drone racks are decent enough to give plasma chuckers fits. The 5 AMD racks are useless in a plasma front, but give you some utility should you swap to Klingon or Mirak opposition.
CVA+ (2273) – If you don’t mind micromanaging fighters that sometimes stop dead in space due to bugs, this is a great ship, esp. versus the point defense-challenged plasma chuckers. Even without the fighters, it’s a semi-decent dreadnought, with good shielding if not overwhelming firepower. I prefer the + variant over the base CVA just for the extra drone defense and extra racks, which you fire behind your fighters’ missiles to keep them away from point defense.
BCG (2277) – I am personally not fond of any of the Battlecruisers, but the Kirov class is the most acceptable. Fed Battlecruisers in general are underpowered and sport too many energy weapons, and don’t have enough shielding to justify their BPV. At least the Kirov’s excess weapons (drones) don’t eat power. UPDATE: I have since grown to like the Kirov. It’s still basically a CA, the worst class of Fed ship there is, but the fact that it has 41 power instead of 36/38 makes all the difference in the world when chasing down some recalcitrant Klingon to shove some overloads up his stern. The 4 missile racks are also enough to make them almost useful, especially on planetary assaults, and 4 AMD’s counters that most subtle and impressive of player tactics: flying around at speed 31 and chucking drones. And let’s not forget the HET.
DNH (2278) – I would personally love to stay in a CLC forever, but eventually you get tired of running into battleships in PvP. The DNH is, I think, the best of the Federation porky dreads, with a great power curve, massive shielding, and enough of every weapon system to make is good in most roles. 6 missile racks, 6 photons, 14 phaser 1′s, 12 of which can fire backwards for those endless Dukes of Hazzard chases.
Ships that Don’t Suck Too Much
These are ships that aren’t truly awful, yet aren’t quite as crunchy for their BPV as the ones listed above. They may be perfectly good choices for players who want a certain quality in their ships like a 100% HET, or for something to fly while waiting for a better ship to come out.
CC+ (2265) – This is what I look for when I can’t stand the large Q anymore, the NCL hasn’t come out yet, and I want to do some heavier missions. Well rounded ship, slightly underpowered like most CA hulls, but really good firing arcs on the phaser 1 array, plus missile defense. If all of the SFB rules have been ported to SFC2, the command cruisers also have extra lab and command bridge boxes, useful for absorbing hull damage.
CB (2275) – Not bad if you actually like CA variants. Just like it says, it’s a heavy command cruiser. More forgiving in terms of damage eating than the NCL hulls. If you like this ship and aren’t really stuck on flying something that looks like the Enterprise, consider the NCC, which is basically the same ship in a different hull for a few less BPV.
DNG (2275) – This is the first Fed dreadnought that doesn’t absolutely suck, mostly because it has a turn class of 4 instead of 5. If you can’t wait 3 years for the DNH but really want a dread, you can go with this for a while.
NAC (2275) – This is a ship I don’t like personally, but is custom tailored to fighting Mirak, very useful on servers where the Mirak are opposed to the Federation for some reason. (Before it was just out of interest, now it’s probably just because most Fed players hate Brezgonne.) Give up 2 missile racks, which won’t hit through AMD anyway, and replace with 2 photons for direct fire crunch power. The ship is a little too generalized for its own good, and slightly underpowered, but you still get 3 AMD racks… a good choice for NEC phaser jockeys who want more versatility.
NCA (2275) – The New Heavy Cruiser versus the CLC is sort of an interesting dilemma. The CLC has superior power curve, better shields, etc. etc., but the new heavy sports extra phasers, better hull, and probably most significantly, a 100% HET, useful in PvP. If you happen to play on a large scale server, the price jump to the NCA over the CLC will probably make your decision for you, though.
BCF (2278) – I’ve turned around a little on this tub since I bought one in desperation on CW3. I still don’t like F plasma, I still think it’s just a power hog, and I’d still rather have the 4 racks for planet assault and lots of type IV scatterpacks… but you know, it’s basically a BCG with a weapon system I can ignore if I want to. Requires extra micromanagement to time weapons loading and power drain after firing the plasma, and you wind up slowing down a LOT if you like overloaded photons and plasma together, hence you tend to eat some extra damage. Still has amazing punch power and versatility.
NCC (2279) – Much better than the NCA for those who go for this sort of thing. It’s basically a porkier CLC with more phasers with better arcs and a HET.
Ships that Really Really Suck
Please note that I am not listing the ships that obviously suck (hospital/scout/commando/etc.), just the ships that look like they might not be too bad at first glance, but are just painful to fly.
CL (2220) and + variant – The "light cruiser" in Star Fleet Battles was a purely hypothetical ship, and it sucked even then. Worse shields than the FF, useless weaponry, no point defense, and an awful movement cost of .75. It’s possibly even worse than the DD. There is nothing redeeming about this scow.
CA (2230) and CAR/CAI variants – James T. Kirk must have been some sort of god to fight Klingons in this tub. This is another example of how the traditional Fed uber-ship from SFB is nothing but an albatross in SFC. Totally underpowered, no drone defense (no the 2 ph3′s on the CAR do not count), less than fantastic shielding, and a turn radius like my 85 year old grandmother. I flew a CA+ (the less sucky version of the CA) for a while on ArticFires when no NCL was around, just so I could assault planets. I still shudder to think about it.
DD (2230) and all variants excluding the DE – This was probably one of the best pound for pound ships in Star Fleet Battles, and one of the most useless in SFC. 4 photons was the key: you would start your mission sitting still and overload everything, then pork toward the enemy at about speed 8 and fire your one alpha. Needless to say, speed 8 isn’t so hot in a world of sped-up fighters, drones, and plasma. If you must fly one of these hulls, try out the Destroyer Escort.
GSC (2240) and + variant – This ship has a tremendous BPV and prestige cost, and is too generalized to do anything at all. You can overrun at close range with your phaser array, but any other CA is better at it due to superior torpedoes. You can bombard at a distance, but any other CA is better at it. You can harass with your 2 fighters and watch them die instantly. With 7 transporters, you might want to use it for capture, but since everyone just pummels ships down to 2 marines, why do you need 7 transporters? What is this ship good for? Hit and Run – 3 of them, with your 24 marines beaming off at record speed, forcing you to go resupply all the time.
FFD (2268) and + variant – The worst thing that can happen to a Fed entering a late era server is getting an FFD as his starting ship. 2 drone racks are USELESS. Use up your shuttles with scatterpacks, hope they hit, and leave if they don’t.
BB (2275) – How can the battleship suck? First off, it’s a battleship. It has a turn of 6, which means you’ll be unable to get one of your rocking shields up in front of the enemy who will gleefully circle to the one he alpha’d into a thin red line. And as a battleship, your PvP experiences will fall into one of 3 categories: (1) your enemy runs away and wins prestige for free, (2) your enemy and you go toe to toe in a very boring slugfest, or (3) your enemy esc-forfeits and causes you to lose your ship. Scenario 3 is the most likely. You only get this ship if you are forced into it by everyone else running around in B11K’s, or if you are a very bad player who just logs enough hours doing Data Recovery and want a magic "I Win" button. (The button doesn’t work, though.) Did I mention battleships suck?
NCM (2275) – Ah the Miranda class. Heavy shielding… good, you’ll need it since you have absolutely zero point defense. But that’s not the real issue… no, in SFC2 EAW, 2 of the Miranda’s photons fire backwards only! Give up your alpha crunch power for the ability to run away a lot! On top of all this, it’s STILL basically a CA disguised as the USS Reliant, with all of the horrible powerlack and turning problems of the CA class and none of the full forward crunch power. I hear in OP all of the NCM’s weapons are full 360 degree, transforming this ship from the hopelessly terrible to the stupidly overpowered.
CFS (2279) and + variant – Wow, 8 photons on a heavy cruiser hull! Watch out Alpha victims… that is, if your alpha is directly to the left. This ship has the weirdest arcs of any for its photons… 4 of them fire right 45 degrees to left rear 135 degrees, and the other 4 fire from left 45 degrees to the rear! This might be just sort of funny, until you realize the ship can’t possibly power all of its weapons while moving, and then it just becomes sad. Shad and I came up with at least 4 tactics to use in a CFS+ in a 1v1 PvP battle, all of which were difficult, tricky, and impressive sounding, and none of which worked.