Tactical Usage And Strategic
Strengths Of "Alternative" Ships

by Lord Admiral Acoron

The people at Forge World have been hard at work making new ships for Battlefleet Gothic. They recently released some new transport variants and system defense items. All of these have original rules in the BFG rulebook, however, we've never had models for them. As such, few of us have fielded them before; out of sight, out of mind, after all

Our good tactician, Lord Admiral Acoron has been hard at work preparing a tactical article on these "Alternative Ships" as I've chosen to call them. Enjoy! - Commissar Sonata


Defence monitors are in my opinion the epitome of Imperial defence forces. This is a very large pedestal to put a ship or particular group of ships upon, but I truly believe that these ships deserve all the praise that I can possible give.


They have two shields, armor six all around and have two turrets. Sounds like Space Marines to me (and we all know how good Space Marines are). The Space Marine strike cruiser (which I think very highly of) has of shields of one, armor six all around and a single turret. So, in terms of defense, this "Imperial escort" is better than a Space Marine strike cruiser. In fact, no other ship has a base stat of two shields, armor six all around and two turrets. The only ship that has any similar stats is the strike cruiser mentioned above and the Space Marine battle barge with base stats of three shields, six armor all around and three turrets. Of course, we're forgetting that this "Imperial escort" has eight weapons at 30 cm L/F/R (left/front/right) and a forward lance at 30 cm. In a recent playtest, I fielded three defence monitors as part of a planetary defence during the onslaught of an all-out Ork invasion. These very valiant defence monitors (only three of them) managed to cripple two Kill-Kroozers and one Hammer Class BattleKroozer. They also managed to destroy two transports and one squadron of Savage Gunships before finally being destroyed by the long range weapons of an Ork Space Hulk, guns blazing the entire way.


Defence monitors are slow. They're very slow. They have a movement of 10Cm and a turn of 45. In the maneuverability race, that makes them about as useful as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. The key point is in their name: "Defence" Monitors. This ship is supposed to defend, it is shunted all of it's power to shields and weapons. Thus, you place it on an objective your enemy is trying to destroy, or between the enemy and that objective. The slowest speed that an Imperial cruiser can go under normal circumstances is 10 cm, which is the maximum speed of the defence monitor. So why not field defence monitors as heavy escorts in and amongst your gun lines? They can take a beating and be there to dish it right back out.


There are several ships for comparison, but none so nearly as armored. This is, after all, a very tough ship. The only equivalent, as mentioned, are the Space Marine Strike Cruiser and Battle Barge. For 60 points, you can receive a defence monitor. For 20 points, you can receive a system ship. I playtested a fight between a defence monitor and three system ships. In this engagement, the system ships managed to get in the first exchange of fire, which is a huge asset in any game. Nevertheless, the sad system ships were only able to drop one shield from the defence monitor. The defence monitor, shrugging off this pathetic display of aggression, ravaged two system ships in its return volley. On the next turn, the last remaining system ship (on brace for impact) could do nothing but fire its puny weapons (missing the defence monitor), to which the defence monitor promptly destroyed the last system ship. You could field a Siluria class light cruiser at 90 pts with one shield, 5+ armor all around, and one turret, along with its port and starboard weapons batteries, strength 6, 30cm. But I truly believe that a single defence monitor could destroy a Siluria with out any great problems. It is my opinion that the defence monitor is the cream of the crop in the Imperial defence initiative.


The concept behind the armed freighter is having a transport with bigger guns. Unfortunately, these bigger guns reduce cargo space to half. So, two armed freighters equal one transport. In a scenario where you only had one armed freighter left, you would lose the scenario because you need at least one transport.


The strengths of an armed freighter are the same as a transport, except it has an extra weapons battery bringing it to a total of 3 and the range of its weapons batteries is 30cm. So, you basically have a transport with slightly bigger teeth.


The armed freighter's weaknesses are the same as a transport is, such as slow movement, bad maneuverability and puny defence systems. All that we really have is the same ship with an extra weapons battery and a bit more range. You get this upgrade at a cost of 20 pts and half your cargo capacity. According to Smotherman, one weapons battery at 30 cm costs 1.5 pts. So the question is, why does this variant transport cost 20 pts and half your cargo space, when this upgrade is in fact worth at most 5 pts?


The fact that you can get a better transport is nice, but the armed freighter should have gotten its upgrade at 5 pts without the loss of its cargo capacity. This lousy upgrade and stiff penalty makes this ship NOT worth its weight. If you're going to field transports, field a heavy transport instead (Please refer to the upcoming report on heavy transports for information on their weaknesses and strengths). The main reason I say this is because the heavy transport is about as strong as 4 regular transports at the cost of two. In conclusion, the armed freighter is fun, but not very practical. If you find you have an extra 40 or 60 points, purchase a Firestorm or a pair of Swords and use them to defend your transports.


Q-Ships are very useful because unlike their armed freighter companions, they are dedicated Imperial Warships rather than a hastily upgraded transport. The idea behind Q-Ships is not science fiction, for Q-Ships really existed in World War 2. The British and Germans both used ships traveling in supply convoys which were really warships disguised as transport vessels.


The Q-Ship has transport stats except for its 2 shields and 2 turrets. In fact, its 2 shields, armor 5+ all around, and two turrets make it the same defense configuration as a Chaos cruiser (that's impressive). The weapons configuration is one lance on the prow at 30 cm, and three weapons at 30 cm, L/F/R. Its last strength, which I believe is it's best, lies in the fact that your opponent does not know it is there. A player fielding Q-Ships uses ordinary transport models. When they so chose, that player may reveal that models he has pre-selected are in fact, Q-Ships.


The Q-Ship's weaknesses lie in its point cost of 60 pts. A Q-Ship worked out on the Smotherman formula is worth 45 points. This means that the Q-Ship is 15 points overpriced. This is on top of the fact that it costs a regular transport spot and doesn't count as a transport in scenarios.

However, if your opponent sends X number of forces to sweep aside your transport defenders and then engage the transports themselves, they may find two or three Q-Ships reaveal themselves at worst possible moment. Having to then deal with this unexpected menace is annoying, distracting and crippling, both morally and stratgeically.

Let's say that your opponent is Chaos, and they send one Slaughter Class cruiser escorted by three Infidels. Your forces are four transports, three Q-Ships, four Swords, and a Dauntless Cruiser (lance variant). All other Imperial and Chaos forces are tied up elsewhere. The Swords and Dauntless fire at the oncoming Infidels, and destroy them. On the return fire, the Slaughter destroys two of the Swords, which are forced to brace for impact. On the next turn the Slaughter destroys the other two Swords. The Chaos player can see how this will play out: they see the destruction of the Infidels, the destruction of the Swords and an exchange of fire between Dauntless and Slaughter with the Dauntless being at a terrible disadvantage. Once the Slaughter passes the Dauntless (who his probably crippled, or on Brace for Impact) the Slaughter will destroy the nine transports, probably only suffering shield loss and a hit or two from nine transports. Suddenly, three Q-Ships emerge with their two shields and forward lances, to absorb the incoming fire, protecting the transports, and with their lances and the combined weapons batteries of the transport squad, destroying the Slaughter. The point of this example is to show the value of the extra 15 pts spent on the Q-Ships surprise factor.


There is no comparison. No other ship can surprise another ship the way that the Q-Ship does. Of course, you could always field Swords, Cobras, etcetera to protect the transports, but then, the Chaos player would have sent more forces to sweep the extra defenders aside. Use the Q-ships for their surprise ability and because they are heavily armed and armored. I have nothing bad to say of them.


I understand what is meant by Escort Carriers, although my only complaint is that the name implies a large ship that has the ability to launch squadrons of escorts. The escort carrier is in fact a transport that launches fighters and bombers out of its cargo bay doors. The idea is to give convoys ordnance protection without sacrificing from the larger fleet.


This particular bad boy launches two fighters or bombers, which is just as good as an Enforcer class light cruiser or a SM Strike Cruiser (less the Thunderhawk capability). As far as intelligence goes the escort carrier is the only known escort with launching capabilities. You'd think that if they were going to give an escort launch bays it would only launch one squadron, but instead it launches two. The escort carrier also has a second turret (which is a running theme with most carrier vessels) and has two weapons at 15 cm L/F/R. Also its strength lies in its points value of 60 pts. This may sound quite expensive, but bear in mind that a Devastation or a Dictator cost 190 pts and 220 pts (respectively), and that if one fields two escort carriers for a total of 120 pts, this is almost half the cost of a dictator. Granted, the Dictator comes with all kinds of other systems, but frequently players field carriers for the sole purpose of fighters and bombers. When all you care about is ordnance, paying 60 pts for two fighters/bombers is quite reasonable.


The escort carrier suffers a normal -1 leadership because it's a transport type vessel, just like all other civilian ships. Unfortunately, the escort carrier suffers an additional -1 leadership when reloading ordnance (due to the cramped quaters, supposedly). When your leadership is between 5 and 8, having to apply an additional -1 is quite crippling. So don't expect to reload often. This is why I would prefer to field the dictator, but if I can get a squadron of escort carriers with decent leadership (ie: seven) I will field them from time to time because of their points value. Remember also that you can only field this ship by substituting it for a transport, yet like the Q-Ship, it doesn't count as one for the scenario.


Once again, there is no comparison. There are no other escorts that have launch bays. The only ship that I can compare is the Imperial Enforcer class systems control light cruiser. This cruiser launches out 2 fighters/bombers but also has a prow armament of 4 lances, 30 cm. I always field an Enforcer in my fleet engagements, and a tactical report on Enforcers will follow. This is the only ships I have for comparison. But when fielding two escort carriers at 120 pts, and fielding 1 enforcer at 130 pts, you're still getting two extra fighters from the escort carrier squadron.


The escort carrier, being the only escort with launch bays, coupled with the fact that it is only 60 points, makes this ship (when fielded in squadrons of two or more) an asset to your fleet. Bear in mind though, the less than desirable leadership is its only weakness.

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