Recently I’ve been reflecting on my experiences over the last year playing my Terran fleet for Firestorm Armada (FSA). In all, I played about a dozen games with my Terrans in 2016, making FSA my most-played game from the last year. However, my success with the faction has not been too great; I lost 10 of those 12 games! Far from being discouraged by this fact, I’m actually inspired to dig into the reasons for my struggles and find ways to do better in 2017. To paraphrase Edison, I haven’t failed 10 times, I’ve only found 10 ways that don’t work!
The main thing Terrans have going for them is their shields and nuclear weapons. Everything in the Terran order of battle, down to and including the escorts, has a shield. This is not an insignificant advantage, as lucky shield rolls can make a crucial difference in a battle. However, as it stands, more often than not shields do not translate into a game-winning advantage on their own. The issue is that opponents only have to get lucky with their attacks once, while a Terran player has to be lucky with their shields every time. Plus, it is not all that difficult to overmatch a Terran ships DR, even with shields, thanks to their average DR values. As such, I have found that shields need to be optimized to be most effective; sector shielding, shield cruisers, and purchasing extra shields all help.
Nukes, the other Terran hallmark, are likewise somewhat situational. The problem here is that most of the Terran fleet’s nuclear firepower is on torpedoes, which have a hard time getting through PD in most cases thanks to the prevalence of interceptors. When they do get through, and you get lucky rolls for the area of effect attacks, the results can be devastating. The single best result I got in all the games I played resulted in a destroyed Terquai cruiser and crippled a squadron mate! This result was by far the exception rather than the rule, however. The vast majority of the time it seemed that I either failed to reach the target’s DR, or else my hits with Nuclear torpedoes were negated by PD.
While we are on the topic, another feature of the Terrans is that they tend to have long-range 360 torpedoes on many of their ships. This provides a nice long-range harassment tool, but I’ve found all too often that these attacks are canceled out by the PD of the target to be of any great threat to my opponents. They do provide some nice options for getting in hits against squadrons of small ships early in the game, but most medium squadrons will laugh these attacks off, and if there are interceptors around you can just forget about it!
Thoughts on Squadrons I’ve Used
I took my Ares-class carrier in a fair number of games, usually decking it out with the +3 launch bays so I could take a full 6 interceptors and 6 bombers. However, in all the games I brought the thing in, I only managed to get in a single under-strength attack with my bomber token. Despite my best efforts, I have not found a successful way to get my carrier in range to launch an effective SRS attack before my opponents focus it down. It may be that I’m relying too much on the firepower of the CV to help out in the early game, which leads me to start it on the table instead of bringing it in via reserves. I think my next tactic will be to start it off the board and try to flank or shunt it in so that I can more rapidly get into range to use the bombers. I’ve attempted to boost the ship’s survivability by adding a shield and attaching shield cruisers, and that has helped to a degree. I might try that pairing again if I have the points for it in future lists.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with my Apollo. It has been ineffective for me both when starting on the board and when being shunted in. When it starts on the board, it is generally whittled down by the time it reaches effective range. When I shunt in, I typically get one good attack out of it before the rest of my opponent’s fleet takes it out; I’ve had times where my battleship goes from full health to nearly destroyed in the course of a single turn! Granted some of this is bad luck on my part. When shunting in, I’ve attached some escorts to help with the ship’s survivability. This seems to help some, for a fairly minimal cost. At the very least, those escorts seem to divert my opponent’s attention from some of the rest of my fleet.
The Hermes cruisers…what can I say? They have been fairly reliable for me in most games I’ve played, though they are a bit delicate. The eternal question is if it is better to take the +1 Sh or +1 HP for these guys. I’ve tried both approaches, and I think the extra shield might actually be better if you are bringing shield cruisers to help buff that investment. Otherwise the +1 hull is better, as I’ve experienced games where my opponents rolled double criticals against my cruisers with disturbing regularity.
I exclusively ran the Pilgrim frigates in my list, and usually started them on the table to make use of their long-range torps. They are moderately effective against other smalls, but see the notes above about torpedoes. A full squadron of these guys pump out 10 AD of torps, which most healthy medium squadrons will laugh off.
Ships I’m Interested In Trying Next
So, given that I’ve been largely unsuccessful in my tactics and list building up to this point, I’m looking at diversifying my force and mixing up my tactics some. It is important to note that fielding these ships will require some painting. I have all the models, but they are not yet table-ready!
The Terran Marshall-class battlecruisers are reckoned to be very effective examples of their type within the game. I like the looks of the model, and I also like the option of using these to fill out a Tier 1 slot in an aggressive list.
I really like the Torpedo Spook MAR on these ships, plus they are cracking models. I’m looking at fielding them as a complete squadron.
The other part of the Taskforce fleet, the light frigate seem to offer interesting abilities. My thinking is that they will be an effective shunt-bomb. I’m not confident of their chances of crossing a table in order to use their short-range weaponry.
This model intrigues me, and it does seem that assault carriers have come into vogue recently based on what I’ve seen during my tournaments. Presumably the additional sturdiness of their construction compensates for their reduced SRS complement.
I’m very intrigued by the tactical options afforded by these ships. I’m considering fielding them both as a coherent squadron and as an augment for my regular cruisers.
The mix of MARs on these ships makes me want to use them in their intended ambush roll. I like how they provide a good source of non-torpedo based Nuclear firepower as well. They did not distinguish themselves in the one game I used them in, but then again I was running an under-strength squadron that game because I only have two painted.
The Path Ahead
This particular post has gone on longer than I expected, so I’ll wrap up now with how I am planning to proceed. The main focus of my efforts for the next few months will be of getting ready for the Adepticon FSA tournament. Towards that end, I will be putting together some revised lists, as well as focusing on the painting of the necessary models. I will be posting some example lists soon, so stay tuned!