The Spook/Shrike has a fairly standard profile. As with most ships of the Federation is has a slightly higher than normal critical rating. This combined with the Cloaking Shields gives the vessel a high survival rate. The ship has an array of very lethal beam weapons which are effective out to 20 inches. For long range punch it relies on Torpedoes. It has the same amount of dice in all 4 range bands for its torpedoes. It also has the Torpedo Spook MAR to make its torpedo attacks more lethal.
I have only recently really been using my Spooks effectively. They have changed in their function since the 2nd edition rules came out. They can be used very deceptively. You can lure your opponents ships into close range where they pack more of a punch . Hitting your opponent with 10 torpedo dice at 48 inches , with a squadron of 3, makes the squadron a priority. Ships closing will find that the torpedo barrage does not change and when they get inside 20 inches they will be treated to the Spooks lethal beam weaponry. A squadron of 3 throws 16 dice in range band 1 and 2. I have been able to do some pretty impressive amounts of damage to cruiser class vessels and larger when they have closed with one of my spook squadrons.
The real key to keeping your Spooks in the fight is to know when and when not to drop your cloaking shields. Dropping the cloak makes them just an ordinary target. You have to pick your targets very carefully for the full fury of your beam weaponry. With the cloak up your dice are halved. You still have a decent amount of dice versus a single target though and you have potential to soften up an opposing cruiser before finishing it off with a torpedo salvo. I think my main complaint with the spook is that it has no upgrades.
Although it does have the Torpedo Spook and Elite Crew MARs, you have no other options. You pay 70 points per ship so your full squadron is 210 points. Granted this does allow you to plan fleets out more quickly and gives you more room to upgrade your Tier 1 vessels. A full squadron of Spooks and a full squadron of Bulwarks is only 310 points. This fulfills almost all of your base prerequisites for a patrol fleet. 410 Points fulfills your basic battle fleet prerequisites. This means you can flesh out your fleets nicely and makes Rense additions to League fleets easy to work in and plan for.
I have found it is easiest to have your Spooks engage equal sized targets, that is cruiser class vessels. They are ideal for delivering a killing blow to heavier capital ships. You want to be careful though. You want to engage your opponents ships at range and make them come to you. The spook is very maneuverable and you can easily out maneuver most ships. Only Aquan cruisers generally have the advantage against Spooks. This is due to their speed and robustness as well as their squadron size.
You have to use your range advantage with the Torpedoes to deal with Aquan, Sorylian and other races that have cruiser squadrons that contain 4 ships. Using your Bulwarks to support your ships or using them to harass, while the Spooks pound the opposing ships with torpedo salvos, whittles them down so that if they do close to Beam range you can easily deal with the remnants of the opposing squadron.
Do not try to go toe to toe with large ships. Battle cruisers on an individual basis can be dealt with by a full unmolested squadron in a pinch, but expect to lose most of the squadron in the process. It is best to gang up with two or more cruiser squadrons when hitting capital ships of the battle cruiser size and larger. You generally want to leave the big ships to your big ships and use the Spooks in support or to finish off a large capital ship. Spooks squadrons working in conjunction with Cerberus Heavy cruiser squadrons can deal with many large capital ships with minimal losses.
Next time we continue with Tier 2 vessels. The Phoenix/Firebird Destroyer is a sleek and lethal long range combatant. It is the ideal long range support vessel that has very good firepower in all its range bands. The Phoenix is next time in Ships Of The Rense.
Until then...........Crush the Alliance and