HMS Iron Duke
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Overview

Before reading, please cue music from the beginning of Spaceballs when Spaceball 1 enters the screen. There, now that the tone has been set…on to the 4th Division Battleship! When the Battleship was announced there was something of a collective intake of breath that it was so…big. A cost of 36 points dwarfed even the biggest Alpha Quadrant ships and an innate attack of six gave commanders a moment of pause. Little did we know about the 40 pt Borg Sphere but that was still months away. The 4th Division Battleship was a capital ship in every sense of the word. Running them would mean that it would be the centerpiece of a fleet or one of a pair. As an amateur naval historian I looked at the ship and wondered…how is this ever going to work in a 100 pt. build? So lets dive in…

Ship

The ship itself is a 6/0/7/5 vessel with a cost of 36/34 (compared to the Valdore/Negh’var/Khazara/Aj’Rmr/Voyager at 30). It comes with [BATTLESTATIONS], [SCAN], and [TARGET LOCK]. Noticeably absent is [EVADE]. Face it, this thing can’t get out of it’s own way. The ship ability permits a single Jem’Hadar ship at range 1-2 to perform a free action from their action bar. Right now that means either a second battleship or a Bug escort. Eventually we’ll see a Jem’Hadar battlecruiser that will hopefully bridge the gap between David and Goliath. The ship comes with room for a single tech, three weapon, and two crew upgrades. The generic drops a point of shields, a weapon and the aforementioned ship ability. Firing arc is 90 degrees forward, no rear arc. This is the fatal flaw of the ship and speaks toward ship design in the Star Trek Universe. It is a battle ship. Evidently battles in Star Trek only happen with people directly in front of you. You face your enemies bravely and duke it out mano y xeno. In Lord Nelson-esque fashion, forget the maneuvers, just go straight at them. And oh how it hurts the naval historian in me to see it so. At this point, a brief excurses into naval tactics is necessary.

At it’s most basic big gun fleets have two formations. Line ahead and line abreast. The former has ships assembled bow to stern with the ships firing at enemies to port or starboard. The latter has them side to side with only their forward guns able to fire at an enemy in front of them. Attack Wing only really allows Line Abreast, or as we see in some DS9 episodes, the gaggle which is kind of Line Abreast in three dimensions. Furthermore, firing discipline from the age of sail up to Jutland had each ship focusing on a single ship in the enemy line. A:A B:B C:C and so on. If you had poor fire control and doubled up on an enemy then one of their ships would catch it while another went untouched. This is something that happens a lot in Attack Wing and it feels very contradictory to everything I know about naval tactics. We as players tend to try and alpha strike one ship to shift the odds. That ship may be one with the captain or crew we deem most dangerous, the biggest ship, or sometimes the one that hasn’t shot yet but it just feels wrong to this Squadron CO. I do it all the same. Branching out from Attack wing, this is something that I thought the old Battlefleet Gothic did well in that it encouraged (or at least allowed) what felt like capital ship maneuvers. If the Battleship is a big bad capital ship that all others should fear, then I should be rewarded for handling it like a capital ship. I’m not though because the ship is unwieldy and if made effective leaves few points for a support ship to protect it.

So, back to the ship.

The lack of a rear arc is distressing, indeed probably debilitating for the 4th Division Battleship. All those guns, a plethora of torpedoes, and phased polaron beams and the Battleship has nothing firing to guard the back door. Add in the Brontosaurus like maneuverability and you have a problem.

Maneuverability is nothing special. Speed 1-3 have green forward and white banks. Speed three has red turns, speed four is white banks and ahead and a speed 5 ahead. No come about or reverse maneuvers are available outside of borrowing a Cochrane Decel or something. Do not expect this ship to be able to whip around to bring guns to bear on an opponent. This ship makes WIDE turns. If you aren’t planning on getting somewhere two or three turns out, you probably aren’t going to make it.
The ship has a durability of 12 which is nothing to sneeze at but again, no agility. Unless you put Sulu or somebody on this thing, you just soak hits and twelve hits is not outside the realm of possibility for as few as two attackers. Properly done an opponent could drop 12 hits on the Battleship before it ever gets to roll a single die. Ugh.

Captain, Crew, Weapons

The Battleship brings with it two captains, one of whom is a retread from an earlier wave. Weyoun (now CS7) allows two additional crew slots, bringing the 4th Div. up to 4 crew slots. Those two slots can be filled at a -1 discount if they are Dominion crew. This will allow a regular house party of folks on board. Only the TOS Enterprise has 4 crew slots on it. The other captain is Gelnon at CS5 who gives you as an action a 2 die, undefendable attack at range 1. If you get a [BATTLESTATIONS] result, you can put a [BATTLESTATIONS] token next to your ship. Kind of an interesting way to get a bit of damage and perhaps an extra token out.

The ship comes with three crew, Kudak’Etan is a range one crew disabler that whacks every crew on an opposing ship,even through shields or cloak. Unfortunately it is a discard action (again) so you only get a single shot with this unless you are packing Shrouds or some such thing. Ixtana’Rax allows you to flip Crit cards to regular damage as an action. Situationally good, good bye Warp Core Breach. Finally we get Ikat’Ika that allows you to force a reroll on an attacking ship. This guy costs +5 if you put him on a non-Jem-Hadar ship.

Weapon wise we get a Phased Polaron beam that pushes through shields and a torpedo that fires at range 2-3 but if fired from the Battleship rolls an extra two dice. This would bring the torpedo attack up to 7 dice. This only makes sense when the primary attack is a 6, why bother with a torpedo that you have to target lock and disable to fire?
We get an elite talent, Ketracel White that discards to un-disable Dominion crew. This would be the Dominion expresso card it seems. We also get a tech card, Shroud that prevents a Dominon crew from being discarded.

One conditional surrender build out there relies on multiple Shrouds to prevent the sacking of crew during attack negation. The utility of Shroud can’t be denied but would you buy two (or even three) Battleships for access to the Shroud? The third one especially turns into a $15 card. Out of the box the 4th Division ship, tricked out, can run 65 points fully equipped with another few points from Weyoun7’s ability depending on your build. This means that it is the first true Battleship capable of fielding the majority of points. We saw a number of other (arguably superior) options when Wave 4 hit.

Flying these things requires either careful formations or careful flying if not both. In OP5 I took one out with a Sutherland but I could have done the same thing with any other ship, even a Vo. You have to cover the rear arc, period. This means flying in echelon or line ahead with something to cover the Battleship’s butt.

My preferred ship combos could include the Battleship and a pair of Bugs in a V formation. One other idea is to split the BB from the Bugs at different ends of your deployment zone and make your opponent turn to face one or the other. If this is the case, I’d probably start the BB at an oblique angle because you can’t make it turn over quickly if the other guy goes after the bugs first.

Conclusion

The 4th Division Battleship is too much ship for a 100 pt game. There, I said it. As currently constructed I find no reason to pull my BB out of the box to put on the table. This is made even more apparent with new ships like the Voyager et al. appearing which give more flexibility and a better combination of attack/defense out of the box than the BB could ever hope to have. To find a place on the table, one would need to run a 2-300 pt game where a pair or trio of BB’s would form a squadron unto themselves and could be protected by both their squadron mates and other escorting squadrons. Baring that, changes in firing arc to a 180 or a 90/90 could make the vessel somewhat survivable.

This scale problem is the same one that in my opinion hinders the Bug, though this way on the other end of the spectrum. The Bugs are to small to stand in the 100 point line, the BB takes up to much space and is unsupportable when equipped.
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Think you're being a little hard on it. Its actually not too difficult to appropriately outfit it and still bring along some solid company. Helped a friend put together a solid build for it with the Battleship/Patrol Ship/Koranak, which does very well. Can give it some solid offense and defense even in a 3 ship build. Though you do still have to think about your moves and be cautious. The other ships help with that though, by covering the Battleship if its in a situation where it can't bring its full weapons to a target (should pretty much always run Dorsal Weapons Array with it, so you have at least some rear firepower).

I think its going to really shine come July though. You can do some nice things by using its ship ability in conjunction with the Patrol Ship, but I'm guessing its natural partner is going to be the Jem'Hadar Battlecruiser from wave 6. If that ship is done well, it could be a pretty potent combination.
 
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sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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I agree with you about the ship being too much. The one time I faced it all I had to do was survive the first pass. I focused my fire on the escort, and destroyed it. Once I got behind it, the battleship was kind of stuck with getting pinged to death.
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Ted Kay
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I think there is a tendency to look at the faults of the Battleship more than it's strengths.

A month 6 OP event near here saw a build where it went 2-1. I'd wager it would have done better if I hadn't faced it in the first round- having pretty much written the list for a friend, I knew what to expect. This build could throw 10 dice on Primary Weapon with Battle Stations and Boheeka, with conversion to crits thanks to Khan. The other two players it faced were flabbergasted by the effectiveness of the Battleship- their Klingons and Romulans were outmatched in both numbers of dice and quality of results on every attack it made. Even with Dorsal Weapons Array, it could shoot for 5 or 6 in any direction. And it had a 38 point Patrol Ship backing it up. It blew up DS9 in one shot, every round.

Is it unwieldy? Certainly. But a skilled player can make good use of it.
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Tom Coon
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I was thinking that it would be interesting to have a ship or two in Attack Wing with neither 360 arcs, rear arcs nor 90 front arcs per se, but rather 2 Broadside arcs. Basically the inverse of where the 90 front and rear arcs are.

I'm thinking something like the Malon Freighters from Voyager could be argued to be in that configuration. It seems to me it would be interesting to have such wide side arcs.

Perhaps this sounds ridiculously silly, but perhaps the ship ability could be something like- Each combat this ship may attack two separate ships with its primary weapon, 1 ship in its port and 1 ship in its starboard firing arc (at full dice each) or may make 2 attacks with its primary weapon (attack and defense rolled separately for each attack) against a single ship in one arc.

I know this should be really be in the variants thread but, I keep thinking about how large lumbering capital ships could be a little more interesting and the Battleship is a significant impetus for that.
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Scooter of the Ancients
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This ship has become a staple in my fleet, along with the Patrol Ship and Hideki squadron. With a Dorsal Weapon and the two more manuevarable ships covering its flanks, it can focus on what it does best, throwing a lot of attack dice at anyone who strays into its forward arc. In a game where Action Economy is often key, putting Dukat on the board gives you two ships with two actions per turn.
 
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