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Subject: Advice on builds and making new players rss

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Rick M
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Hi, I'm new!

I've been playing casually for a couple months now by myself and with a couple friends who were also interested in the game. We've come to a point where we want to start promoting the game around our LGS and get some more people interested.

One of the better ideas we came up with was to build and maintain some pre-made fleets and have some demo games where people can try out the game with our stuff before they buy in.

As the friend with the largest collection, this task falls mostly on my shoulders.

So, we play Free-for-all melee, Faction Pure (Unless thematically relevant) / 130point / 50p per ship. We have builds for Federation and Klingons, and the start of a Romulan build so far. We're not sure how good they are for new players and we're not sure how balanced they are against each other.

Federation: (Stole this build from another thread)
USS Enterprise-D (28)
Tuvok 5 (3)
Miles O'Brien (2)
Unimatrix Shielding (5)(-1)
Antimatter Mines (5)
(42)

USS Voyager (30)
Clark Terell 2 (1)
Pavel Checkov (3)
Immersion Shielding (3)
Transphasic Torpedoes (10)
(47)

Delta Flyer (20)
Jean-Luc Picard 9 (6)
Sacrifice (5)
Tom Paris (4)
Parametric Hull Plating (2)
Photon Torpedoes (4)
(41)
Total (130)

Klingon:
Chang's Bird of Prey (22)
Kor 8 (5)
Bo'rak (5)
Stex (2)
Tractor Beam (3)
Photon Torpedoes (5)
Photon Torpedoes (5)
(47)

IKS Drovana (28)
Gowron 5 (3)
Cry Havoc (5)
Kerla (2)
Advanced Weapon System (5)
(43)

IKS Ning'tao (22)
Chang 7 (4)
Detonation Codes (4)
Cloaked Mines (3)
Concussive Charges (4)
Photon Torpedoes (3)
(40)
Total (130)

Romulan:
Scimitar (38)
Cloaked Mines (3)
(41)

IRW Valdore (30)
Valdore 6 (4)
Advanced Cloaking (4)
(38)

IRW Gal Gath'thong (18)
Centurion 2 (1)
Tactical Officer (3)
Plasma Torpedoes (3)
Plasma Torpedoes (3)
(30)
Total (109)

We'd like to also have a Dominion fleet and a Borg fleet at least. Of course, ideas for other faction fleets are welcome.

I have the following available right now:

Federation: HMS Bounty, Deep Space 9, Delta Flyer, Enterprise NX-01, Tinyprise, Enterprise-B, Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, Hathaway, Pegasus, Reliant, Voyager

Klingons: Chang's BoP, Drovana, Gr'oth, Kronos One, Maht-H'a, Ning'Tao

Romulans: Apnex, Gal Gath'thong, Haakona, Khazara, Prototype 01, Valdore

Borg: Queen Vessel Prime

MU: Pasteur

My LGS is pretty well stocked on retail ships and can special order me anything still available they don't have. I'm willing to buy anything that will help the builds.

I live in a STAW desert. I'd like to eventually be able to show enough interest to get my LGS to start running OP events.
I know it's a lot, but I would appreciate any thoughts and opinions on building these teams, and any advice you have for attracting new interest to the game.
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Evan
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It would probably be good to keep the builds relatively simple for new players. They'll have plenty to keep track of with three ships per player, each with a captain, a ship ability, and one, maybe two upgrades.

By that standard, I like your Romulan fleet (though you might want to replace the Gal Gath'thong with something a little sturdier like a D'Deridex...getting one-shotted due to a bad cloak roll can be an unpleasant experience for new players), but the Klingons seem a little busy.
 
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David Griffin
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The Fed player is going to get slaughtered. The Romulans and Klingons against each other will be ... interesting. Neither have battle stations on average and nether can lock on due to cloaking. But the Klingons will lose their cloak first and they will probably lose vs. the Romulans. You're just recreating the bad old days when the clockers ruled (before everyone else got enough hit dice and quality to compensate).

For Klingons and especially Romulans, parity is measured by attack dice and quality vs. the defense dice of the cloak. Mostly that means 5 attack dice with some quality. Use the Prometheus class and Sovereign class if you're looking for something generic.

If you're going to use THOSE fleets make sure everyone has the chance to play both sides (or all sides). That way they'll each get the chance to get slaughtered and the chance to win.
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Justin Hare
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Couple of guidelines for a new player's fleet:

Shoot for two ships of same CS and one different. Show values of getting to choose who moves and value of moving last/shooting first
No more than two actions per ship.
No more than one card per ship affecting an attack roll
No more than one card per ship affecting a defense roll
Leave exceptional circumstances cards out of fleet. Things that let you attack out of combat phase, mines, etc.

That minimizes number of details to keep track of and keeps unintuitive rulings away from new players.
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David Griffin
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Evan's right, start out simple. Let's suppose you start out with a 2 players (rather than 3).

The Enterprise E and the Maht'H'A are not a bad match depending on how it's configured. The Enterprise E is reasonably maneuverable and has 5 attack dice. Make sure the E is wearing the Dorsal phaser array but don't put Picard on it (The Vor'Cha is good but maybe not that good). Not sure which captains are on the ships you have but you want a captain who has some benefit but not as good as Picard and for both factions don't pick a faction which ONLY helps you if you have more than one ship.

In the early part of the game the Enterprise D was NOT a match for the Vor'Cha, even with Picard. The Enterprise D could shoot all round (to range 2) but only at 3 dice which isn't enough to get through the cloak (at least not usually). Generally the Vor'Cha won that battle. Also the Galaxy class is a terrible maneuverer. Voyager is also problematic because of the Aux token it gives you when you fire off arc and it's also not the greatest maneuverer. The Transphasic torpedoes are nice but expensive and you have no quality inherently (so it's just luck to hit well) unless you either get a target lock on a previous turn OR have someone like Picard 9 to allow you to do 2 actions. Even then you have 1 shot.

You don't list the Scimitar in your list of ships, but you do in your build. It's probably their best ship and the 6 attack dice with built in advanced cloaking is a tough ship to beat. Those 6 attack dice with some quality will probably beat the Vor'Cha on anything like even terms. It has a good chance against the Enterprise E too, even with Picard and especially if it uses it's own super-weapon Thaleron radiation, IF the Enterprise E has a lot of crew. In this game number of attack dice is worth more than the game accounts for. Romulan Mines are one of the most powerful upgrades in the game and should cost WAY more than they do. Using 1 can help you control where your opponent will go. Using lots tends to unbalance the game.

Then branch out into 3 ship battles once you get your sea legs. The Klingons excel at lightly upgraded ships (or just the ship and a captain and MAYBE a crew. In the old days Gowron 6, Martok 8 and 1 more on three ships with maybe N'Garen and/or Drex thrown in was a standard build.

Fed builds rely on their superb crews and great techs though the older ships don't have the necessary slots. They all get much better if you can get a copy of the Hood for it's System Upgrade card to add a tech slot (or make them if you aren't playing a tournament). From my standpoint, you need those 5 attack dice and good quality and for the Feds that usually means extra actions like Picard 9, Spock 6, and the new Kirk 9. And all around fire is really nice since the Romulans and Klingons maneuver better on average.

Since you won't know what you're doing at first, try to do simple builds that don't rely on complex timing and card interaction and prepare for some one sided battles since point totals don't really balance the scenario as much as they should.

And since you're going to have some mismatches, play two matches where each of you play both sides. That way if there is a gross mismatch, you both get to see both sides of the engagement.
 
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Rick M
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Evan wrote:
It would probably be good to keep the builds relatively simple for new players.

I suspected I may have gone a little big.

carbon_dragon wrote:
You're just recreating the bad old days when the clockers ruled

This is also something I had some concern about.

Church14 wrote:
Couple of guidelines...

These seem legit. Overwhelming potential players is a problem.

carbon_dragon wrote:
You don't list the Scimitar in your list of ships, but you do in your build.

Noticed that, did you? I have one on order. It seemed pretty good.


So, smaller and simpler...

Enterprise-E:
John Harriman 2, Tom Paris, Cheat Death, Photon Torpedoes (6) (Sovereign Bonus)

Voyager:
Riker 6, Pavel Chekov (Reliant), Photon Torpedoes (5)
---
Drovana:
Gowron 5, Advanced Weapon System, Photon Torpedoes (5) (Vor'cha Bonus)

Maht-H'a:
Worf 4, Photon Torpedoes (5) (Vor'cha Bonus)
---
Valdore:
Tomalak 3, Romulan Helmsman, Photon Torpedoes (5)

Khazara:
Romulan Commander 7, N'Vek, Disruptor Beams
---

Not 100% on balance (Fed still feels weak), but there's a lot less fluff in this set. In terms of rules comprehension, anyone I pull will likely be from the Heroclix or Magic: the Gathering groups, if that helps at all.
 
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David Griffin
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Photon torpedoes are pretty much useless in this game.
 
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Rick M
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Awesome.
Any secondary weapons worth using instead, or just primary every time?
 
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David Griffin
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RandomKid wrote:
Awesome.
Any secondary weapons worth using instead, or just primary every time?


There are a few like the Romulan disruptor beams, dorsal phaser array, dorsal weapons array, aft weapons array, type 8 phasers, Upgraded Phasers, and there is one on the Andorian ship that looks interesting. There are others too, but the "standard" torpedoes are really lousy. It's possible to construct a build to make them function but it's tough and expensive.

The problem is that consider the normal 5 point torpedo. It robs you of your quality by requiring a target lock but not using it to re-roll. It only works against a ship that is not cloaked (or cloaked THIS turn). It is usually useless at range 1 (though this varies). Where a 5 point weapon is useable all the time with no limitations. Even time token torpedoes are unavailable for 2 turns after firing and again prime weapons have no such problem.

Basically they are over-limited and under-powered.
 
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Fred Buchholz
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While photon torpedoes are pretty awful, the use of them for "new" players would probably be a "good" thing. People just remembering episodes or movies are going to remember phrases like lock on photon torpedoes, or fire photon torpedoes, so it might help newbies. It did when I started playing (October of 2015 I think it was, might have been November). I soon learned in Playing other local players that they were horrible, but they helped drag me in. ( I still use my Mines though for fed ships, I run into too many Romulan Scimitars and other cloakers so running past them and dropping 4 attack dice is just soooooo satisfying - even if I don't win the game/event)
 
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David Griffin
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Dren608 wrote:
While photon torpedoes are pretty awful, the use of them for "new" players would probably be a "good" thing. People just remembering episodes or movies are going to remember phrases like lock on photon torpedoes, or fire photon torpedoes, so it might help newbies. It did when I started playing (October of 2015 I think it was, might have been November). I soon learned in Playing other local players that they were horrible, but they helped drag me in. ( I still use my Mines though for fed ships, I run into too many Romulan Scimitars and other cloakers so running past them and dropping 4 attack dice is just soooooo satisfying - even if I don't win the game/event)


When he fires with no quality and gets no damage, it might be a lot less satisfying. Plus if the cloaker cloaks on turn 1 (which he will) he won't even be able to fire the torpedo because you can't target lock a cloaked ship that has been cloaked for more than one turn.

If you go on the Variants forum you'll find about a million threads (including mine) about how to make torpedoes work. Sure we all want to use torpedoes for theme reasons, but really, don't bother. 5-6 high quality primary dice though, that is satisfying.
 
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Rick M
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Ok. I think I get it.

Would it be worth doubling up expansions to get the weapons I want? (like, get another Enterprise-E for Dorsal Phasers or another Haakona for Disruptor beams?)

Seems like there are very few ships from each faction worth a damn in a straight fight. Enterprise-E, Prometheus / Neg'var, Drovana, Mat-H'a / Scimitar, Valdore / etc...
Do you think it would work if I just did Ent-E, Prometheus vs. Neg'var, Drovana vs. Scimitar, Valdore?
I suppose there would be at least 2 teams that would do well in there.
It certainly wouldn't hurt for me to play the "worst" of the three against two new players.
 
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Daniel Hensel
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Did someone say torpedoes?

When I was actively playing STAW, one of my favorite things to do was to find ways to optimize torpedo-based builds. I even wrote a guide back in the summer of 2014 for how to effectively use torpedoes. I fully intended to keep it up to date, but I dropped out of the OP scene a couple of months after writing it and stopped playing STAW altogether a few months after that. I'm starting to feel the itch to start playing again now, so I may revisit this old guide and update it. As it is, I imagine that the basic concepts are probably still valid.

Torpedo Tactics: a living guide. Input is welcome

As for intro fleets for new players, I definitely agree that you need to keep it simple. I would also recommend a lower SP total per fleet to help keep things simple. Whenever I was teaching new players back in 2013-2014, I preferred to use 80-point fleets. With so many more options available now, I would consider bumping that up to 90-point fleets, but I wouldn't want a new player to have to learn how to control a fleet any larger than 100-SP while learning the basics of the game and certainly not a full tournament-style 130-point fleet.
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David Griffin
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RandomKid wrote:
Ok. I think I get it.

Would it be worth doubling up expansions to get the weapons I want? (like, get another Enterprise-E for Dorsal Phasers or another Haakona for Disruptor beams?)

Seems like there are very few ships from each faction worth a damn in a straight fight. Enterprise-E, Prometheus / Neg'var, Drovana, Mat-H'a / Scimitar, Valdore / etc...
Do you think it would work if I just did Ent-E, Prometheus vs. Neg'var, Drovana vs. Scimitar, Valdore?
I suppose there would be at least 2 teams that would do well in there.
It certainly wouldn't hurt for me to play the "worst" of the three against two new players.


Opinion on this varies, but build is probably 50% responsible for winning a game (with 50% how you play it). Some people are very clever and are capable of working up a build that allows even terrible ships to do reasonably well, but if I were you I'd leave that (and traditional torpedoes) to the people trying to prove a point.

Yes, the Dorsal Phaser Array is worth getting in multiples. I have 3 which allows me to field 3 360/range 2 ships which is useful. The same can be said for the USS Hood and the USS Lakota, but both of those are prize ships and are likely to be expensive purchases on eBay. Disruptor Beams may also qualify. Borg magnetometric guided charges may also qualify since they specifically are designed to handle highly defensive ships (which include cloakers but also super defensive Fed Builds). Older weapons like energy dissipator and projected stasis field (actually a tech) also have niche uses, especially against enemy superships operating by themselves.

Your ship pairs might work, depends on the build. Among cloakers, the Scimitar is unique in that it has advanced cloaking built in and it has the hull to take a hit or two, come out of cloak and raise pretty good shields. That allows it to take maximum advantage of interphase generators. The larger Klingon ships can take a hit or two as well but with 6 attack dice, don't be too surprised to see the Scimitar one-shot a Vor'Cha with a lucky hit (it will have to be lucky too because the Klingons will be cloaked at least for the initial strike. After that Advanced weapon system is usually only good for 1 extra turn cloaked where Advanced cloaking can be kept up.

The Fed ships are both good units with good weapons. The Enterprise E's perk is pretty useless but the Prometheus' is useful. Don't be arraid to field generic sovereigns but try to field the named Prometheus for at least one unit. Dorsal Phaser arrays and good captains are a must for the Feds once you get over the initial learning curve and the Feds have the best captains in the game. And their techs and crews are superb too.

I think you're on the right track. We like to think that the most equipped person doesn't have an unfair advantage, but alas it's not true. Being able to field anything you want (including expensive ships and hard to find upgrades) is a big advantage so try to equalize that by getting the other players to not feel bad about borrowing ships or upgrades or proxy them by printing copies. After all that is only a problem in tournaments.
 
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Rick M
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I've spent some time considering the advice you all have been kind enough to give and this is where I'm at now.

Federation:
Sovereign Class (30)
Clark Terell 2 (1)
Tom Paris (4)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(41)

Prometheus (30)
Federation Captain 1 (0)
Pavel Chekov (Reliant) (3)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(39)
Total (80)

Klingon:
Negh'var (30)
Gowron 5 (3)
Bo'rak (5)
Cry Havoc (5)
(43)

Maht-H'a (28)
Chang 7 (4)
Advanced Weapon System (5)
(37)
Total (80)

Romulan:
Scimitar (38)
Centurion 2 (1)
(39)

Valdore (30)
Tomalak 3 (2)
N'Vek (2)
Romulan Helmsman (2)
Disruptor Beams (5)
(41)
Total (80)

I can see where the Scimitar could be an issue in the group, but I'm not sure there's another choice. Romulan weapons seem kind of weak overall. Would it help balance if I went Reman Warbird and a better captain instead?
 
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For teaching purposes, I like simple ship builds with 2-3 additional cards that provide a clear focus on the tactics to employ, but that still have enough meat on them to be effective on the battlefield. That way you can hand a ship to a player, give them a brief description of what it's supposed to do, and then not worry they will get overwhelmed. For example:

Enterprise D (28)
Picard (6)
Engage (3)
Total: 37

This build gives you a high skill captain who is usually going to move last. With Engage, it can take its planned maneuver, survey the field, then use Engage to move out of an enemy arc and use its 360 arc to full effect. Plus you get some quality on that attack as Picard still gives you an action in addition to the Engage.

IRW Khazara (30)
Donatra (4)
Interphase Generator (3)
Total: 37

This build is a support ship. Donatra stays in formation to boost other ships. The Khazara gives the ship a bit of offensive firepower, and the interphase ensures it survives a lucky attack against the cloak.


IKS Negh'var (28)
Nu'Daq (3)
Advance Weapon System (5)
Total: 36

A high attack ship that follows its prey using the weapon system to stay cloaked and sensor echoes to stay on target. Nu'Daq ensures you get some quality on the attacks so you can spend your action on sensor echoes or enabling the AWS.
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Daniel Hensel
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RandomKid wrote:
I've spent some time considering the advice you all have been kind enough to give and this is where I'm at now.

Federation:
Sovereign Class (30)
Clark Terell 2 (1)
Tom Paris (4)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(41)

Prometheus (30)
Federation Captain 1 (0)
Pavel Chekov (Reliant) (3)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(39)
Total (80)

Klingon:
Negh'var (30)
Gowron 5 (3)
Bo'rak (5)
Cry Havoc (5)
(43)

Maht-H'a (28)
Chang 7 (4)
Advanced Weapon System (5)
(37)
Total (80)

Romulan:
Scimitar (38)
Centurion 2 (1)
(39)

Valdore (30)
Tomalak 3 (2)
N'Vek (2)
Romulan Helmsman (2)
Disruptor Beams (5)
(41)
Total (80)

I can see where the Scimitar could be an issue in the group, but I'm not sure there's another choice. Romulan weapons seem kind of weak overall. Would it help balance if I went Reman Warbird and a better captain instead?


Federation

I see what you're trying to do with Terell and Paris on the generic Sovereign, but I'm not sure I agree with it. Cards that boost all other ships such as Terell, Donatra, skill 6 Gowron, etc. work best in fleets of three or more ships. The fewer other ships there are, the less effective they are. Also, you're going to have to fly in a pretty tight formation to make Terell count, which may be difficult considering the Prometheus can't bank on a 1.

Also, I question the usefulness of Reliant Chekov on the Prometheus. He's much more useful on ships with red turns or come-abouts. The Prometheus only has one red maneuver; full-astern 1. Unless you plan on spending half of the match flying backwards, I would think those three points are better spent elsewhere.

Klingon

You have some good choices here. These are two of the sturdiest Klingon ships with a couple of really good captains. I think you need to take a closer look at your action economy though.

The named Negh'Var's ability requires an action, but so does Gowron's ability and Cry Havoc.

Personally, I would recommend dropping Cry Havoc, adding Worf as the Captain (assuming you have him from the Koraga), and promoting Gowron to Admiral and possibly move him over to the Maht-H'a. That way both ships can improve the quality of their attack dice.

That also gives you 2-SP (4 if you drop either the Maht-H'a for a generic Vor'Cha or the named Negh'Var for a generic one; 6 if you do both) to buy something else useful.

Romulan

I like your thinking here. Centurion helps your attack dice quality (if only slightly) on the Scimitar, and N'Vek helps you roll 7 attack dice with Disruptor Beams if you perform a green maneuver on the Valdore which can be brutal even with unmodified dice.

Let's not kid ourselves though. N'Vek is only going to be useful on the first volley. After that, you're going to be using your action each turn to remove the disabled token from Disruptor Beams and leave N'Vek permanently disabled. The same goes for your Romulan Helmsman. That crew card will likely be used for one spectacular come-about and that's it.

Your real weakness here is in your captains. Neither of them really do much for you. Personally, I would rather ditch them and your two crew upgrades in favor of Mendak for the Scimitar and Valdore (from the Praetus) for the Valdore.
 
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I think you might want to tweak the Federation build, giving the Federation ships Captains with CS skill 1 & 2 against the other ships is putting a pretty big handicap on whoever plays Federation. Looking at what the Federation player would be going against, I'm fairly confident the Federation player will get eaten alive nearly every time they go against the other two.
The Federation build is not really highlighting the strength of the Federation which is the large variety of high initiative captains and crew the Federation can draw from.

In general for intro games I would just include the starter ships and put a 40pt limit on each ship and only use cards from the starter set for playing for the first time. After players get the hang of moving and attacking maybe then bump the points up to 40 and then add the cards from one expansion to builds.

Just my two cents.
 
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David Griffin
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RandomKid wrote:
I've spent some time considering the advice you all have been kind enough to give and this is where I'm at now.

Federation:
Sovereign Class (30)
Clark Terell 2 (1)
Tom Paris (4)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(41)

Prometheus (30)
Federation Captain 1 (0)
Pavel Chekov (Reliant) (3)
Dorsal Phaser Array (6)
(39)
Total (80)

Klingon:
Negh'var (30)
Gowron 5 (3)
Bo'rak (5)
Cry Havoc (5)
(43)

Maht-H'a (28)
Chang 7 (4)
Advanced Weapon System (5)
(37)
Total (80)

Romulan:
Scimitar (38)
Centurion 2 (1)
(39)

Valdore (30)
Tomalak 3 (2)
N'Vek (2)
Romulan Helmsman (2)
Disruptor Beams (5)
(41)
Total (80)

I can see where the Scimitar could be an issue in the group, but I'm not sure there's another choice. Romulan weapons seem kind of weak overall. Would it help balance if I went Reman Warbird and a better captain instead?


Sounds close enough for government work. I'd say go out and play some games and let you and your group do some of your own evaluation. This is one of those games that requires a lot of experience before you feel like you have a moderate handle on how to play and how to build fleets. You can have fun long before that as long as things are not too imbalanced.
 
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Daniel Hensel
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Here's an oldie-but-goodie 80-SP Federation fleet that should be simple enough for new players to run and highlight some of the strengths that have defined the Federation from nearly the beginning. It requires the Starter Set + Defiant + Excelsior.

U.S.S. Enterprise-D [28]
- Jean-Luc Picard 9 (Captain) [6]
- - Engage [3]
- Miles O'Brien [2]
Ship Total: 39 SP

U.S.S. Excelsior [26]
- Benjamin Sisko 6 (Captain) [4]
- Quantum Torpedoes [6]
- Lojur [2]
- Dmitri Valtane [3]
Ship Total: 41 SP

Fleet Total: 80 SP

Generated by Utopia
http://comatoes.github.io/staw-utopia/

This is a classic "cruiser and bruiser" combo and focuses on offensive capabilities while flying defensively.

The Ent-D is the "cruiser", programming a green maneuver (remember to make use of that green forward 3) and then executing it most likely after everyone else has moved, taking a JLP action, and then using Engage to "cruise" around your enemy ships, avoiding their firing arcs and then attacking them with the Ent-D's 360 ability.

Meanwhile, the "bruiser" Excelsior engages the enemy ships at an oblique (NOT head on!) firing quantum torps out the side of it's 180 front arc and disabling Lojur so you can TL and fire the torps out of your rear arc on your next turn while you're turning away from the enemy, hopefully maintaining a range-3 distance for defensive purposes.

Also, your free scan + Valtane on the Excelsior highlights one of the primary ways the Feds can improve the quality of their dice beyond simple TL/BS actions and will significantly help those quantum torps hit home and ensure they deal their extra damage point.

Miles O'brien is a nice little ace-in-the-hole from the starter set that is often overlooked. If you see your opponent is about to do something really nasty to you on a given round, chances are O'brien can stop it cold if you use him wisely. Learning how to use him well will teach new players about timing and how to anticipate an opponent's actions and attacks.
 
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