SeerK here with a guest post from our local Melcon VP SMD_Vogrin. Learn well Corporate Ladder climbers. This VP is making a name for himself in Acquisitions.
Like most FSA factions, the Directorate has access to a wide variety of tactics. We can match the enemygun-to-gun, engage in long-range duels, or smash face in a close range brawl. However, we also have a variety of tools that let us get tricky - why fight against the enemy’s strengths when you can target his weaknesses? One of those tricks is the capture of opposing vessels.
Many factions are pretty good at boarding - it is an additional tool for them to further damage or destroy their targets. For the Directorate, however, it can be not just another tool, but a core tactic to build your fleet around. With widespread access to Special Forces MAR, our cyberwarfare weapons, and the Biohazard option for many of our weapons systems, the Directorate demonstrates a unique strength in boarding. Where others would damage, we crit; when others crit, we capture.
So, how do we start building our collection of Other People’s Spaceships™? Well, in order to capture a ship with boarding, you must get double their CP in net hits on the boarding assault. So the first thing we want to do is reduce their CP as low as possible. In fact, if we can get it down to zero, we can capture with even a single net hit! We have 2 primary ways of killing crew.
The first is our Biohazard weapons. Most of our beams, along with the Torpedos of our Deterrent-class Battle cruisers (and allied Works Raptor Interdictor-class Cruisers) can be upgraded with Biohazard, meaning that any time they damage the enemy, even for a single HP damage, that ship also loses 1 crew. If you’re looking to drop the crew to zero, this means you may want to make many weaker attacks, instead of linking everything up for one big crit.
Our second crew killer is also a very useful tool for other situations - Cyberwarfare weapons are found on our Overseer-class carrier, our Tormentor-class R&D cruisers, and Hostility-class drones. While they do no actual hull damage, they can rapidly deplete crew on a target vessel by targeting the Life Support systems on their targeted strike rolls. The Hostility’s Assault Robot Torpedos do even more crew damage on capitol-class targets, as a compensation for having to make it past Point Defense and Shields (but not the normal Cyberwarfare defense dice, as of the May 2014 errata!). In addition, Cyberwarfare weapons can support our assaults in other ways, as I’ll discuss next.
Once the crew is as low as possible, we have to make sure we’ll actually win the assault - after all, it doesn’t matter how few net hits we need to capture if the target ends up rolling more hits than us! Our targets will be rolling dice equal to their on-board AP, plus their Point Defense dice (including linked PD from squadron-mates, if any). So we need to drop those 2 stats down as low as possible.
If you’ve killed most of the crew, PD from the target ship itself should be fairly low, as it is reduced by crew losses or hull damage. However, PD from other ships in the squadron can quickly add up, especially if you’re boarding a big ship that happened to bring along escorts. Your best bet is to disorder the squadron somehow - if you’ve dropped them to zero crew, they will have to test for it every turn! - or to eliminate the squadron mates - no linking fire when they’re dead. Since you can’t fire at a ship you’re boarding with the squadron launching the boarding assault, it’s often worth it to use their shooting on the rest of the target’s squadron to reduce that linked PD.
If you don’t want to reduce PD the hard way, Cyberwarfare weapons again come to the forefront. Rolling your targeted strikes on their Defensive Systems table will drop PD to zero on a 3+ on the chart. Or if the PD is already at a low number, we can roll those targeted strikes on the Bridge, where a 5+ will drop AP to zero! As far as I’m aware, this Security in Disarray critical result is the ONLY way of reducing AP. Needless to say, if you don’t have enough Cyberwarfare, doing normal targeted strikes can also help cripple the target - our Precision Targeting TAC card, and the Precision Strike upgrade for our Battle cruisers and Destroyers, both provide excellent support for such “Percussive Cyberwarfare”.
So now we’ve reduced the enemy crew to zero, their PD is down to a single die from the target and it’s disordered squadron mates can’t help, and AP is zero due to Security in Disarray. We win, right? Well, we do have to finally launch the assault and roll the dice. And most of the time we will not have the ideal situation I described, so it’s best to bring enough forces to do the job. At the same time, boarding assaults are a VERY limited resource. Since most of our ships can only launch one assault, you don’t want to use more forces than you have to - but don’t get too stingy. It’s better to bring a margin of overkill than to lose the assault because your opponent got a couple of lucky 6s.
My “go-to” ships for boarding are our Justice-class Heavy Cruisers. 5 AP each, with Special forces already included, a Cloak combined with 6 HP to get into assault range. These bad boys have captured everything from Ghost stations to intact Terran Carriers. Very few things like to see assaults from 15 dice hitting on 3+. Other good boarding vessels are our Persecution-class Dreadnaughts and Judgement-class Battleships, both of which can be accompanied by AP2 Punisher-class escorts. Of course, while those big ships can take Special Forces, their escorts can’t, and using them on the same assault means losing the bonus to hit that the MAR would usually provide. Basic cruisers are also useful, although they are much less likely to get across the field intact, and you do have to pay extra for special forces. Our carrier can also be fairly good at assault, since you may already be including it for Cyberwarfare, and it can be loaded with assault shuttles to provide multiple assaults over the course of the game instead of just the one. However, given the short range of assault boats, I find our carrier a bit slow to reliably deliver them into the fray. For an assault shuttle platform, I turn to our allies at Works Raptor.
Our natural allies, 50% of a Directorate fleet can be Works Raptor squadrons. Their Attrition-class assault carrier is fast, a difficult target, and can be loaded with up to 10 Special Forces AP with access to Launch Tubes and Second Assault. In short, it’s a boarding admiral’s dream come true. They also can field Tyranny-class Corvettes, with a 15” move, Elusive target, and 3 AP. Oh, and the corvettes can accompany the carrier. It can all get a little pricy, but Works Raptor is a major asset for a fleet capturing enemy ships.
So, what might a Directorate boarding fleet look like? Here’s an example 800 point force, modified from one of my standard “all-comers” lists. It’s a little top-heavy (don’t try to field it in Escalating Engagement), but very focused and with good synergy.
Tier 1 (Admiral): 255 pts
3x Justice-class Heavy Cruisers w/ Biohazard beams 255 pts
Tier 1 (Allied): 285 pts
Attrition-class Assault Carrier w/ +2 AP, Second Assault, Special Forces, Biohazard torpedoes. Accompaniment: 2x Tyranny-class Corvettes w/ +2 AP
Tier 2: 160 pts
2x Nemesis-class Destroyers w/ Precision strike
Tier 3: 100 pts
4x Hostility-class Drones.
Dictated Not Written
VP of Acquisitions