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Sky Captain

My view on the new drone rules.

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Before commenting on the new drone rules I wanted to play a game with the new Orbat and the new drone rules first. I played a game last weekend and it was a good game to see how the new drones perform.

For those of you who don't want to read the complete post; my conclusion is that the new drone rules are fine but I have some issues with our carriers.

I played a 1250 point core naval game versus the Brits. These are the forces used.

CoA
1x Aristotle with energy turrets + Kepler attached
1x Aristotle with energy turrets + Kepler attached
3x Cleomedes
2x Ptolemy
4x Diagones
5x Thales
5x Thales

Keplers both launched fighter wings, for local air support I took two dive bomber wings.

KoB
1x Ruler with guardian generator
1x Ruler with guardian generator
1x Lord Hood
1x Lord Hood
1x Halifax (with 3 SAS fighters)
1x Halifax (with 3 SAS fighters)
4x Orion
4x Attacker
4x Attacker

My opponent took two fighter wings for local air support.

But forces are a bit above 1250 points, but since it was a friendly game we couldn't be bothered.

The KoB list is very aggressive, but can't take much damage. Since this report focusses on the drones I won't give a complete battle report. I have a high respect for the Halifax bombers so I decided to target them first with my long range gunnery and keep drone fighters ready to finish them. The first targets for my torpedos would be the Lord Hoods. I took out the Halifaxes in turn two and damaged one of the Lord Hoods, both were destroyed in turn three. My opponent focussed first on my Cleomedes, I think I lost one of them every turn. The Orions followed up by a unit of Attackers destroyed a Kepler at the start of the second turn. I committed both my Thales units to deal with these threats, which themselves took a savage beating from one Lord Hood and a Ruler.

At the end of turn four I had one Aristole + Kepler, a damaged Aristole, my two Ptolemy's (one damaged)  and two Diagones left. My opponent had two heavely damaged Rulers and two Attackers left. At this point we called it a victory for CoA.
 

 

The drones

Normaly I would have taken only dive bomber drones and send wave after wave towards my opponents fleet, deep striking any vulnerable target, not caring about drone losses. You can't do that anymore without loosing to many drones. So kept them a little closer towards my own fleet.

 
The first action of my drones was in turn two when a Halifax moved aggressively towards my Aristotle + Kepler unit with my commondore. I already put a crit on that Halifax the first turn with my energy turrets. I would have liked to softed that target up a little more with my energy turrets first, but this would mean I would loose the opportunity to use the carrier action of my remaining Kelper, the other one was already heavely damaged at this point. So I used one of my fighter wings to intercept the Halifax, loosing one drone to counter AA. Not to bad. But bad dice rolls resulted in no damage on the Halifax, after which the drones ditched. I managed to recycle four of them. The rest of the game my drone recycle roles would be much worse, on avarage I managed only to get 1/3 back.

 

After a few dog fights I had five drones in my scrapyard. So at the end of turn two I activated my last Aristotle + Kelper unit. Since I took out enough enemy fighters I felt save enough to launch another dive bomber wing. And I think this is a big thing. Even with bad dice rolls I could relaunch a wing in turn two. This is something that I could never have done with normal SAS.

The rest of the game followed a similair pattern. In turn three after some very bad recyle rolls I relauched a three drone bomber wing (which still pack quite a punch due to the swarm tactics MAR). In turn four I was able to launch a five drone bomber wing again.

Some people complained about the reduced movement of drones. Mainly because their fighter drones were unable to intercept the enemy. By keeping my fighter drones close to possible enemy targets (aka my dive bombers and Ptolemy's) I didn't have this problem. The reduced dive bomber range is something I had to get used two. I had to postpone two attacks because my targets were one or two inches out of range (but this is the same for normal SAS).

To me the drones are still strong, but not OP as they used to be. You have to be more careful with them, but even with the loss of one carrier and some very bad recyle rolls I was able to keep the sky filled with drones till the end of the game. This kind of re-use of drones every turn is something that I have never accompliced with normal SAS. Usely in the end of turn three or four I'm able to re-arm (and/or re-task) one, if I'm very lucky, two SAS wings.

Drones are still very versatile and aggressive.

 

 

Our carriers

I do have some issues with our carriers. The list I used is not bad, but a bit top heavy to my taste. Since (our) carriers are magnets to enemy fire, I feel you need two battle/light carriers or a fleet carrier to make good use of the drones. The Kepler is a fine light carrier (maybe a little bit over priced), but to weak to survive alone. And this is were the trouble starts. I don't have much options to replace one of the Aristotle/Kepler units for something cheaper. The Diophantus is a very strong assault carrier, but not cheap and I won't use a dreadnought in a game of less than 1500 points. The only remaining naval option is the Pericles, which is fine pointwise, but with DR5/CR8 far to weak for a fleet carrier. I might give my Epicures a try, but I realy miss an assault carrier in the range of 150-200 point (which should have been the position of the Diophantus in my opinion).

And as a side note, carriers and especially ours are already a magnet for enemy fire. Please stop this Strategic Value nonsense.

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The CoA has had this issue for a long while- that our large models are all very expensive, and the carriers (naval ones especially) all sit at odd points/durability levels. The Pericles is our "Cheap" big carrier option, but is just kinda sucky (I am biased against it because I hate the model). Then we have the weirdly priced Diophantus Dreadnought-Carrier- An odd designation, and not one we needed, as we have more than enough dreadnoughts. If someone asked me what the CoA needed, 'Another expensive large/massive' would really not be on the list. The Kepler is pretty much required as an upgrade to the Aristotle, and otherwise competes in the medium category, which is packed with all the units we want to use.

Air carrier wise, the Epicurus has been beaten with the nerf bat until it begged for its mother, while the Euclid has been hit with the nerf field execution.

 

I think the carriers really need some modifications, as almost all of them have been dumped into 'meh' or worse.

 

As for the drone rule, I won't drone on (heh) with what everyone has already heard- I don't like the random chance dice roll mechanic for losing drones, and I've offered alternative all over the CoA part of the forum.

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I think part of the problem is that our carriers got around 4 nerfs this update.  They either went up in points or the carrier number went down, all the strategic values went up, the drones got slower, and now are not guaranteed to come back.  While I understand the argument of keeping our drones closer to the fleet the same argument could be made for any army, if they start with fighters and keep them close to the fleet and you send your drones in to try and kill off the fighters but only kill 4 and the sas is right by their carrier they can just reload/refill/change them in needed and if their sas haven't activated they can still fly off and do things if needed so now do they not only out range us, unless they get wiped out playing smart with your sas should yield better results then playing with drones because eventually we will run out of drones before you run out of sas all things considered equal. 

 

That being said I agree our larges are in a very awkward position currently and we have too many amazing mediums it can be a little annoying going well my larges are 2 Aristotles w Keplers, or switch one with a pericles, or last orbat 2 dios, or switch one with a pericles. Simply because last one taking an Aristotle felt like intentionally handicapping myself or this one everything is a dread or a handicap.  Regardless I'm not saying we are the worst faction or anything like that but 4 nerfs in an orbat update was a little rough.

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You don't have to keep you drones close to your fleet. The biggest advantage of drones is they don't have to fly back. You can for example dive bomb a target on the other site of the table and re-launch them as fighters to intercept enemy dive bombers comming for your carrier.

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true provided a couple things are working in your favor such as rolling for enough to come back but I've found putting out dive bombers they tend to get picked apart from enemy sas and aggressive aa from enemy ships cause if im 12 inches away from a ship that hasn't activated it can move 4 and aa my drones now as part of its activation. Even with the 14 move the bonus was that I might be able to get to the ship before the enemy could sas me but now I find that I have a hard time reaching his ships with my drones so I tend to activate them last to see if he will move ships in my range which then leaves them to getting picked apart and with bad rolls not having enough to drive another unit out or worst case next turn cause my carrier has already activated. 

 

If I activate them first and nothing is in range well then enemy sas kills them or they get aggressive ack acked by enemy ships and then their sas is closer to my drones respawns provided I get enough to respawn again.

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Sky Captain

 

 

. This kind of re-use of drones every turn is something that I have never accompliced with normal SAS. Usely in the end of turn three or four I'm able to re-arm (and/or re-task) one, if I'm very lucky, two SAS wings.

 

You can't re-arm or task drone squads. You are only able to ditch then relaunch. Ditching may only happen after a friendly attack run. 

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Well, played another game with the new drones. Failed all but one of the ten drone feedback tests made. Didn't get to make any re-launch actions. Honestly, the new feedback rule is ******* ****. So far it's either been irrelevant or made it such that I can't do any relaunching. And there's no smart way to play around the feedback rule, it's just pure luck. Any solution guys, any solution would be an improvement. Why do we pay a big premium for our carriers as well, when this is the **** we get? If I pay 265 points for a carrier, I expect to re-launch at least once in the game.

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I have taken to very carrier light lists. A Kepler with an Aristotle or a diophantus without the drone upgrade.

My drones now do nothing aggressive unless I can lure the enemy in, they tend to be fighter caps to protect my ships from dive bombers the only way they now can.

It... It is sad, because they now have totally lost the feel and flavour of aggressive disposable missiles.

The side effect of rendering the Euclid and epicurus completely defunct is also sad.

As a side note, I was having a conversation recently with a potential new player. He asked if the starter boxes (the naval battle groups) were fairly balanced against each other. I at once said yes out of reflex... Then remembered we have a sodding dreadnought in ours. It... It didn't help matters.

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To be honest, The Euclid and Epicurus wern't that good before the update to drones. Over priced for the both of them, and now with the diminishing return of drones. They have no late game effect since they both will be too heavily damaged to use the lack luster weapon systems they have, on top of having near to no drones to relaunch. I've been hearing suggestions about maybe node distances saying if out side X" then the feed back goes into effect. Or feed back only happens when an opponent makes an aggressive AA against the SAW (which I like better).

 

The first solution focus us to bring up our carriers, and that doesn't sit right for all of our carriers. Euclid, fine it wants to get close and use its sorry little PA but the Epi and Pericles???? the Pericles can barely live RB 3/4 with a dr of 5. Course this would cause us to play a bit smarter and try to screen more, but then i have to add mediums or larges to the list just for that reason.

 

The second solutions makes a little more fluff sense since on a bombing run we know whats happening to the drones so we are prepared to replenish. Hell you could even say the drones are crashing into its target instead of ditching. Same could go for fighters and torpedo bombers, fighters try to crash into other tfts or air shits and torpedo bombers dive into the water for the last (4inches) and crash away. This forces us to be aggressive like we want with disposable drones but we think twice before sending in just wave after wave of bombers as they might be attacked by AA.    

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I have taken to very carrier light lists. A Kepler with an Aristotle or a diophantus without the drone upgrade.

My drones now do nothing aggressive unless I can lure the enemy in, they tend to be fighter caps to protect my ships from dive bombers the only way they now can.

It... It is sad, because they now have totally lost the feel and flavour of aggressive disposable missiles.

The side effect of rendering theEuclid and epicurus completely defunct is also sad.

Why don't you use your drones more aggressively? Deep striking without care is over, but I have used my divebombers quiet effectively.

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Just chipping in with another after action whine about the drone feedback rolls. This time, I made enough of them that I could relaunch full squadrons every time I wanted to, and managed to get three drone bomber runs off on a russian HBB, with squadrons of 3,4 and 5 drones after AA. I think rolling for the MAR is still a terrible idea, as every time I've used it, it's either crippled drone launching for my fleet, or been totally irrelevant.

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I'm looking at getting back into the game since being away for some time. Where are these 'new' drone rules located? Are they different from the rules that are in the 2.0 softcover Rulebook?

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Yes and no, the drone rules in the 2.0 rulebook are correct and up to date, the drone feedback rule (which is new) is located in the downloadable ORBAT for the CoA.

 

*checks again*

 

Wait, so that means that Drones are potentially now a finite resource like all other fighters? I thought that the fact that they 'never ran out' was the bonus they got for being significantly weaker than normal fighters....

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I really don't like this idea of "but cards, guys!". I don't like the dice roll in the first place, there's never been a game where it hasn't just been awful for either me or my opponent.

 

And it took two years for the specialist squadrons, I'm not holding my breath for faction cards.

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