Directorate: General Tactic
In 1.5 version Directorate was a multi-arc firing no shields fleet with great frigates. When 2.0 came out everything changed and our fleet was turned upside down. With so different weapons, different stats and shiny new toys many of us had to completely relearn how to play this faction. I know I struggled with some aspects and had to play many games before I got the grips on it and found a way to build effective fleets and then play them well enough to win. By this post I would like to try to pass on my experience and my view on our faction, our ships and other factions. Mind that this view can be crooked by my specific experience and my local gaming group – what factions I generally play against, what our players generally use and how they play.
If you look through all fleet lists you will notice that Directorate differs a lot from all fleets. Directorate is the only fleet that widely incorporates only one direct weapon system on its ships – turreted beam weaponry. With the release of 2.0 the only exception to this rule was Persecution Dreadnought and Overseer Carrier. Justice Heavy Cruiser was only different with its gunrack mounting and suffered the same issues the fleet as a whole. With Return of the Overseers starter we now have some new ships that break the rule a bit: Anihilation Gunship still has only one direct weapon system, albeit a very powerful one; Turmoil R&D can be seen as having two direct systems as it has beam gunrack and forward gravity weapons (but they can only damage ships); and finally Anarchist Battleship with Port/Starboard beams, unfortunately it will be very hard to get both in a firing position. This first distinct mark means that Directorate can throw much less total AD in each volley and can target much fewer targets. This is partly negated by the use of beam weaponry and partly by better AD at RB3 than other fleets. It can also be somewhat negated by our torpedo weapons mounted on port and starboard, but if you already played the game you know how hard it is to get targets for both sides.
Another distinct feature of our ships is Reinforced (Fore) MAR that increases CR by 1 if the incoming fire is in the fore arc. This MAR seriously increases the ships lifespan as it brings CR rating of Directorate ships above average or even at the highest values. This means critical hits are less likely and from the fore Directorate ships are much harder to hit hard, especially at longer ranges. Unfortunately this MAR goes directly against our torpedo weapons mounted on port/starboard – the ship either withstand more punishment or can throw some more AD.
Our third special feature are Cyberwarfare weapons. We are the only core faction with the access to them and from alliance & mercenaries factions only Hawker has some limited access to pure cyber weapons and OmniDyne has access to cyber torpedo weapons. I think our wide and very exclusive access to both pure cyber and cyber torps (Assault Robot Torpedoes = ARTs) is something really special. They are a great tool at disabling ships systems and killing crew, but be careful as they only rarely destroy a ship by themselves (kill all CP and destroy the ship through hazard markers). If you use them you still need a plan to deal with crippled ships.
Other important aspects of our fleet surely are above average boarding potential, wide access to Special Forces MAR and Biohazard Ammo MAR. Our boarding potential determined by simple AP count is above average I would say. But what it makes potentially deadly is a combination with Special Forces, Biohazard Ammo and Cyberweapons.
Another important thing to mention is our wide spread of toys. All core fleets are pretty much focused in one direction or are built around one central idea where our fleet uses very different tools to accomplish pretty specific goals. We have access to beam weapons (used by Aquans), primary weapons (used by Terrans and Relthoza), shields (heavily used by Terrans), cloaking shields and stealth systems (heavily used by Relthoza), Biohazard and Corrosive MARs (again Relthoza), Gravitational weapons (Tarakians) and Reinforced (Fore) MAR (brings CR to Dindrenzi or RSN levels). You can say that Directorate brings turns weapons of its enemies against them. It really looks like Directorate either supplies other factions or steals their technology.
General principles to keep in mind at all times
Keep your fore towards the enemy! This is rule number one especially in opening turns. You need to stay alive to dish out the damage, destroyed ships are useless. There are some exceptions of course, like Deterrents with great torps or Subjugators with gunrack weaponry. You still need to keep your fore to the most threatening enemy squadron unless you are firing at it, then you turn it against the second most threatening. Link firepower only if you need to or have to. Most of our ships (smalls are exception) have enough firepower in their ideal range bands to score a hit or even a crit with some little luck – 8AD is enough to hope for a crit and some ships have 9AD or even more (Nemesis, Deterrents, Subjugators). This rule goes well with biohazard upgrade as you put more CP damage on enemy ships. Don’t be afraid to link when you want a certain critical hit or even two. Simple rule is if you have between 8-13AD you want to fire unlinked at medium ships and if you can get together more (especially above 15AD) you should seriously consider firing linked – e.g. Vanquishers have 8AD in RB2 and when firing on medium ships you either want to fire unlinked to achieve as much CP damage and hope for 3-6HP damage or you want to link together for 16AD and just overkill one cruiser with hopefully two critical hits. Don’t forget mines! We have only four ships equipped with them and it’s easy to forget to drop them. They are great area denial tool and restrict your opponent’s moves and protect your flanks and backs.
Your TACs selection should be based around the ships you use, what tactic you set for your fleet and what your opponent is. Still there is a good selection of cards you will use in almost every game, these cards should be:
Drives to Maximum – Extra speed never hurts and often you need just few extra inches to get a squadron in ideal firing position or get your ships from a hot spot.
Burn Thrusters – From time to time you need lower TL on every ship. Practically must have if you use Deterrents as sooner or later they find themselves in a position when their 2” TL is a great obstacle.
Focused Repair – PD or shields offline are bad for anyone.
Firewall Breach – I always find it useful as shutting even 2 shields might be a game braking event.
Then we have TACs very useful against specific factions or used with specific tactic in mind:
Intel Gathered – Great against Sorylians with their FTB 1
Perfect Timing – Must have if you reserve some medium or large ships.
Pinpoint Calculation – If you run more than one squadron of Nemesis with Precision Strike.
Lastly we have pretty much useless cards:
Regroup – Would never take it for tier 3 and at tier 2 we have such a vast selection I would be really surprised to see two same squadrons in one fleet.
Stay on Target – Pure **** as it’s pretty impossible to drive off a full a full token of 6 wings and if you have only 3 left you select your targets carefully or are desperate enough to risk even large ship. In no condition you are willing to lose a wing if you can’t get it back with Deck Crew.
Alliance of Convenience – Another crappy card as usually you have up to one disordered squadron and manage to get it under control with your second roll. To take this card just in case you fail all your rolls is insane. It might be effective against heavy Decimator fleets, but as we are one of them it’s beyond the point.
General strategy and fleet list creation
If we look at ships and options at our disposal we can create several narrow strategies:
Raw power – Trying to maximise pure direct weapons AD output by taking ships without necessary upgrades like Biohazard, Special Forces or taking Tormentors (as they are built around cyber and torps). This approach is valid against Aquans and Dindrenzi as they are mainly designed this way and by maximising AD output you try to close the gap in max AD output. With clever play you can then locally win this AD fight and came out swinging. Problem here is that even this list might lag behind its opponent.
Cyber list – List build around large cyber support designed to disable enemy ships. In this list the role is generally played by Carrier with a pair of Tormentors or by a full squadron of Tormentors. Often Drones are present to exploit weakened state of enemy ships. This list is great against ships with tough defences like Terrans or Relthoza. Even though this list is great it trades direct weapons for cyberweapons and may find problems with finishing crippled ships.
Boarding list – Focused on boarding and maximising AP whenever possible, wide use of Biohazard and Special Forces. Ships like Vanquishers, Subjugators or new Anarchist are a must have to achieve boarding superiority. This list is great against opponents with low AP, like Aquans, or ones that can cover behind tough defences, like Terrans. This list can also be admirals doom as ship upgrades are very common and may result in few very expensive ships. Also it brings our ships very close to our enemy and some can punish us really hard for that – Aquans with their mines, Terrans with their RB1 firepower.
Looking at the above it’s pretty clear we want some combination to get as much benefit from each strategy and negate as much drawbacks as we can. The easiest to combine are raw power with cyber or boarding list. The hardest I would say is combining all three. Every time you build a fleet you need to find a balance between all three of them and take just enough to make each work. The more you combine the harder it is to play with such a force as you have to make those combinations work and not just expect them to work for themselves – proper activation and target selection sequence needs hard fought experience. If you add our wide spread of options it is very easy to make a very nice looking fleet, but lacking any united purpose and almost ultimately doomed to fail on the battlefield.
I myself tend to focus on raw power fleets with added cyber to break ships defences (mostly shields). When I take some cyber I usually include Drones, but that’s mostly for fun as they rarely play a decisive role. Now if I want to create fleet with some nice boarding potential I auto include some strong cyber ships and I usually take only one strong boarding squadron, sometimes two – that’s amount that works for me as it won’t break the amount of pure AD much and it allow bringing along some cyber ships.
Ships breakout into different strategies
Raw power ships:
Ship capable of falling here or boarding, but it’s almost utter garbage without any real use. Don’t expect me to use it anywhere as I gave up on it.
Purely awesome ship in my opinion and I always take it with extra shield, -1” TL, extra WC and 3 Interceptors. Damage output of this beast is insane for its points cost.
Can be built as a boarding threat with extra AP and three escorts with also AP upgrade. Unfortunately this is very costly and fragile built as every opponent can see its potential and will just heavily focus on Judgement or escorts. My standard build is somewhat less threatening and they don’t concentrate on Judgement so much.
Great flagship I take if I want some bombers with me and can’t or don’t want to take Overseer for some reason, or I take it if I want the cyber turret as an addition to counter something specific in opponents fleet (like cloaked Spooks). I take it with Liquidator accompaniment for added firepower and protection, but for not taking Interceptors it is much softer later in the game.
Built with Stealth Systems is a valid choice especially with Deterrents and Nemesis, but I somehow fail to try it as I use my large ships as battering rams and this built reduces the amount of shields needed in RB1-2.
Taken purely for their great AD output in RB2-3.
If I have spare points I add corrosive torps. I fire their torps separately anyway so corrosive can increase their damage dealing potential.
In this setup taken purely for a full Bomber token and with only +1” Mv upgrade without any accompaniment. If I manage to spare some points for extra wings I also take some Interceptors, otherwise I take cyber fore just for fun and hope for luck.
It can be taken with Vanquishers as accompaniment, but I never tried it as I want to keep the cloak active the whole game.
With focus on AD just use them bare without any upgrades. You can add a Heavy but then you trade RB3 firepower for resilience. Also remember that Heavy has gunracks and that can sometimes really mess with squadrons movement. I don’t mix my squadrons, never.
Subjugator Heavy Cruisers
They are here purely for their resilience and extra 1AD in RB2. Their AP and Special Forces are just a welcome addition.
Haven’t tried it so far, but they definitely fall in here as they have ultra high AD output. I would buy Biohazard for them only if I really had spare point nowhere else to be used…and that’s almost impossible scenario. But their Decimators can help with boarding a lot.
Turmoil R&D Cruisers (with beam gunracks)
When equipped with beam gunracks they have excellent firepower plus they are one of our ships capable of targeting two enemy squadrons with weapons ignoring PD.
I use them without Precision Strike as I dislike Targeted Strikes in general – when you have 9AD you want to fire them without Targeted Strike and hope for a crit on a medium ship. With a squadron you can fire 2x9AD and score around 3-4HP dmg or you can try one 13AD Targeted Strike and hope for a crit. I know we have a specific TAC Pinpoint Calculation to help us, but it’s unreliable.
Only tier 3 choice with pure AD output. Has great RB3 firepower so use it!
I tried to buy biohazard for them and it’s just making something fragile more expensive without seeing any real results – you don’t generally take it to use it against enemy smalls and they have to link together against anything larger, so at best one marker per turn for 20 points…no.
It can be in the same setup as above. I sometimes take it if I need cyber, but I can’t take Overseer or I want two cyber squadrons. Anarchist can fill a cyber role while still being a monster in other aspects.
As a cyber ship I never use it alone and always accompany it with a pair of Tormentors. I know they are designed to stay above 20” to stay safe but I found out that I really want and need the 14AD in RB2. Together they have enough PD to protect each other against almost anything and they have 10AD torps.
You can use setup with Tormentors also as a boarding squadron with +2AP upgrade, but then it gets a bit expensive. I think they are the only other squadron capable to get 15AP together…and that’s really scary.
Tormentor R&D Cruisers
I only use them with Overseer – I only have two and I also want SRS with me. I tried them separately and it just hasn’t worked out. Eventually my opponent closed with them and ripped them apart at close range. When coupled with Overseer they are protected at close range by his SRS.
Turmoil R&D Cruisers
Their cyber gunracks are very interesting and has the potential to really mess up with small to medium ships. Together they have the second highest AD cyber output in RB2 in our fleet…don’t forget them.
Our only ART option. They are great against enemy smalls with CP1-2 and fail against smalls with CP3 as you need two turns to kill one. They are great at further disabling ship systems or crippling it by killing CP.
Boarding & Biohazard ships:
Very expensive option, but also very scary one - 12AP with Special Forces and Second Assault is something to terrifying. If you also add Assault Shuttles it is a boarding beast. One of our best boarding ships.
With biohazard upgrade for both beams and torps makes them our best CP damage dealer as they potentially can dish out 4CP damage per turn against medium ships or a large ship either with its defences down or already damaged. With their 4AP each they are not bad at boarding and can use it against smalls or damage a medium ship.
As they are pretty fragile I prefer taking biohazard upgrade first and only when I can spare the points I also add Special Forces. But then they are a major force in my list and I really consider shunting them to get them into boarding range.
Subjugator Heavy Cruisers
As they already have Special Forces I try to buy biohazard for them, but not every time I manage to find the points. Either way they work great and biohazard only boosts it a bit more.
For their great CP damage potential.
Now you just need to check the lists above and select ships from it. I would mostly select ships from the first list and only add one specialised cyber/boarding/biohazard squadron per specialisation. You can see some ships fall in two categories and that’s perfectly fine as long as you distinguish in their use as they can be built to fill several purposes. For example Anarchist can be built as a pure AD monster with extra wings, 5 bombers and two Liquidators as accompaniment – for only 260 points you get linked beams 15/18/11/4 and extra 15AD from Bombers. For the same amount of points it can be a long range sniper with Stealth Systems. Another built is a boarding monster with extra wings, 5 assault boats, both AP upgrades and three escorts with AP upgrade – this catapults it to staggering 310 point but it is practically boarding proof and it can effectively board any ship it desires and expect to win – with 3 escorts you can even board a large capital ship with escorts and don’t care as your escorts board enemy escorts which leave your prize without the much needed help.
When you select ships for your list keep in mind your opponent won’t help you achieving your goal and will try to derail you as much as possible. You need to build a list that can achieve what you want and still react to your opponents play well enough to survive. If you create a RB1-2 purpose list and your opponent builds RB2-3 list you might be in serious trouble, especially if he can keep the distance. If he builds RB1 list capable of getting in the middle of your fleet by turn 2 and all you got is RB3 ships you are pretty much screwed. Your list needs some variety or you need to figure out how to deal with certain specifics of your opponent. This is very hard to do for a tournament as you have no idea what you are going to be playing against and you have to figure out ways to deal with everything. In a case of a general list I would take one cyber squadron, one boarding squadron and some biohazard to support it. That shouldn’t break your back and allow you to fight some factions much more effectively.