Lord Admiral Acoron sat in his chair, his military boots proudly placed on top of his desk. It was a bad habit which would be frowned upon by many admirals, but it was also a luxury which Acoron allowed himself as the commander of a mighty Blackstone fortress. Next to his feet were a picture of his wife and a few trinkets from past battles. These included a small, blackened chunk of metal which had been torn from the shoulder of a Necron warrior who boarded the Admiral's ship a few years ago. Needless to say, the small hunk of slag was all that had been left once the Admiral's guards had finished with that xeno-filth.
It was now half way through the third watch. The Admiral looked out from his viewport, watching the busy activity of the transports and military vessels buzzing around Blackstone Six. The Admiral was always impressed with the size of the station, even in comparison to one of the Emperor's battleships docked to the Fortress. 'Like a small child next to a whale', he thought.
The Admiral had received a transmission from the Schola Progenium informing him that they had acquired two rather conflicting treatsies on tactics: one from a Lord Rethmon and one from a Lord Rhamirez. The Schola had asked Lord Admiral Acoron to write a military critique based on the two reports and offer some of his own advice. The Lord Admiral smiled to himself as he poured through the files attatched to his new assignment: it was going to be a long night.
|Transmitted: Blackstone Six, Brigia System||Transmitter: Astropath Jerhico|
|Received: Schola Progenium, Cypra Mundi||Receiver: Head Astropath Ezekiel|
|Subject: Critique of Tactical Treatsies||Ref: Navy.SP.444265573/C|
|Input Date: 0967221.M40|
|Input Clearance: Fleet Commissar Sonata|
|Author: Lord Admiral Acoron||Thought for the day: Serve the Emperor in Humility.|
Greetings Magister Rothman,
As requested, I humbly submit this review of two well-known tactical treatises to the Schola Progenium of fleet studies at Cypra Mundi. The treatsies in question are those of Lord Admirals Rethmon and Rhamirez, respectively. I shall deal with each in turn and offer my frankest possible opinions on each.
Lord Rethmon began his article with the battle formation. He is quite right when he says that all vessels armed with side facing weapons should be deployed in the line astern formation as well as all forward firing vessels be lined up in the line abreast formation so that they may all be protected by their neighboring vessel and benefit from combined fire.
When two opposing lines of vessels in a line astern formation fire at each other you will only ever score a few hits here and there. In this portion of Lord Rethmon's article I agree with him. I have found when ever I have been in this predicament that torpedo capable vessels came in quite handy because the rear most ship and the middle ship in the line astern formation were each able to fire their torpedoes at the enemies rear vessel in the enemies line astern formation.
Lord Rethmon explains that ships may use planets and asteroids as cover from your enemies as well as you can use a planets gravity well or in my case the gravity well of an Ork space hulk to pivot your capital ships into a better firing position. When the elusive Eldar find an asteroid belt to hide in stay away from that belt because the Eldar will come out to attack your fleet then slip back in the the asteroid belt.
I find the "Sheer" maneuver a wonderful tactic to use. I usually will have just fired a large amount of torpedoes at my enemy then plow strait through the enemy fleet, come to new heading and destroy my enemy at close range. Again Lord Rethmon knows what he is talking about.
Capital Ships with Torpedoes
Lord Rethmon states that the best way for ships with torpedoes is to wait for that critical moment when the enemy is within 30cm fire all torpedoes at close range then go into a 90 degree Sheer turn to rake the enemy with gun fire. This should disrupt the enemy's formation and secure victory. I agree with every thing that Lord Rethmon has to say regarding this particular tactic but I have one of my own to add. Having a constant stream of torpedoes coming at you will cause you to shift your formation and cause you to waste fighters to intercept those torpedoes as well as be distracting. When ever I have torpedo capable vessels they will always fire all of their torpedoes throughout the engagement for these reasons.
Lord Rethmon states that escorts are not to be used as ships of the line because they are to fragile. They are to be used in two circumstances. One is to engage a crippled capital ship that has fallen out of battle formation the other is in desperation when it is either send the escorts or lose the game. In these two circumstances I agree however there are other circumstances in which I would and have used escorts in battle. One is when my capital ships are very close to the enemies formation. I put all of my escorts on lock on behind my capital ships for protection and fire upon the enemy. The other is when my escorts are supported by squadrons of bombers and Thunderhawk gun ships. The enemy usually misjudges how much damage the bombers and Thunderhawk gunships will do and will go after the one squadron of escorts. When the bombers have crippled the capital ship and the Thunderhawks have destroyed all of the escorts your escorts can now finish off the crippled capital ship. Its kind of like using your escorts as bait.
Lord Rethmon is quite correct when he says that if you only have one carrier to place it in the center of the formation and launch fighters for most of the engagement in order to deal with problem torpedoes and bombers. He then goes on to say that if the Emperor blesses you with multiple carriers that you have a screen of fighters then you set up a holding pattern up around your formation so at the last minute you release a veritable tidal wave of bombers upon your enemy. And as a matter of fact I do think that carriers are the next best thing since warp drives. I do have two things to add to carrier warfare. One is to always have a dedicated carrier group and a dedicated gun line group so that ships with ordnance are not stuck on lock on as well I suggest that the Admiral transfer his flag to one of the carriers because you will constantly be reloading and will be in need of the Admirals higher leadership. Two I have found that a fighter in a wave with a Thunderhawk gun ship will always kill an escort with one turret. These little waves of ordnance make good escort hunters.
When to Break Formation
Lord Rethmon states that the only two reasons your fleet breaks formation is when you are defeated and your fleet scatters to survive ore when you have defeated your enemy and you give general chase. It has been my experience that when a ship is on it's own it will get destroyed because it lacks the support that it would receive from another vessel. I agree with these two reasons however there is I believe three more. When you are maneuvering around your enemy and all of your vessels with guns are shooting at the enemy and say all of your vessels with torpedoes break formation from line astern to line abreast to fire their torpedoes at the fleet. The second reason is when something pivotal needs to happen like firing a Nova cannon with a certain type of shell at an Eldar fleet to disable their hololfields so as the rest of the fleet can fire upon the Eldar. Third is just in sheer desperation.
This concludes my military critique of Lord Rethmon's article on tactics. I believe that Lord Rethmon's reputation speaks for itself, but I will nonetheless add that he is a wise and cunning tactician.
Assembling the Fleet
Lord Rhamirez begins his article with fleet assembly. In his opening statement he writes: "Contrary to what you may have been told, a fleet will do well no matter who is in command, provided its component vessels are the right ones for the job." I have been personal witness to many a witless Admirals who blundered their way into a battle only to be rewarded with a quick death regardless of the fact that they had all the right vessels for the engagement. On assembling the fleet, Lord Rhamirez states that several fleet commanders take three cheap cruisers, a few escorts and one big ship, and will wonder why they lost. In this I agree with Lord Rhamirez in that you should not rely on one ship to win the battle for you as well as if you take a large ship you need to support it with several regular sized cruisers and not just the cheapest. I will say that I have won battles and seen battles won with an Emperor class Battleship, three Dauntless class light cruisers and three Cobra destroyers.
Escorts: Fast and Deadly
Lord Rhamirez goes on to say that he likes Cobras and Firestorms. He states that he favors the Sword less but finds them useful against Eldar because of their weapons batteries. He states that three Firestorms and a Dauntless with lances is a good group of ships with their six lances. The same goes for four Cobras grouped together to launch torpedoes as often as possible. Lord Rhamirez has not stated anything about tactics here. He has said what he likes and that three Firestorms and a Dauntless are a good lance pack. I agree about the Firestorms and the Dauntless, but what else does Lord Rhamirez know about escort tactics?
Cruisers: the Work Horse of the Fleet
The first statement that Lord Rhamirez says is that he never goes into battle with out at least half of his fleet comprised of cruisers. I agree with this as the cruiser are the back bone of any fleet except perhaps the Eldar. His second statement is that there are only eight classes of cruisers. Perhaps the young Admiral needs to attend a refresher course in intro math at the Schola Progenium. By my count there are twenty four different Imperial class cruisers, as well as a few new ones coming up. One should also not forget that a sizable portion of older (Chaos) vessels may be fielded in a crunch. Lord Rhamirez continues to say that he has his favorite vessels and that a fleet should take at least one carrier. I agree with this. He then states that you should always attach a Gothic to another vessel to take advantage of the Gothic's four lances, I agree as well.
Battleships: the Hand of the Emperor
Lord Rhamirez manages to save himself by saying, "In my opinion these really aren't as good as everyone seems to think. They're too expensive to be worth while in small fleets, and in larger fleets they'll probably end up in flames with a flotilla of enemy vessels at their tail." Because this of course is just his opinion and a poor one at that. I don't know what battleships he has had burning up with a group of enemy vessels behind him because I assure you all they were not mine. Battleships are an excellent show of force, a powerful amount of guns and a blessing to any fleet. Apparently, Lord Rhamirez says he does not like battleships because he can't use them effectively, and this is just foolish. If one supports a battleship well and know what ome is doing, one will be able to get good performance out of battleships. If one breaks formation and leaves one's Battleship all alone then one will see it in flames. Lord Rhamirez goes on to state that one will want to protect a battleship with two squads of escorts, ideally one squad in front and one behind. Which tactical school did Lord Rhamirez attend? It was certainly not mine. If one positions a frail squadron of escorts in front of a battleship with four shields, the first target the enemy will shoot at will be the squads of escorts. This will result in the loss of several of those escorts and the rest of the squad bracing for impact. Why one would not put all of the escorts behind the Battle ship so that they all may benefit from an armor six prow and four shields I do not know.
Lord Rhamirez writes: "You must play the way you want to play. And of course, gut feeling is always a winner." Lord Rhamirez states more but this is essentially the point he is making. Play what you want and gut feelings are good too. This is very poor advice in my opinion. If I were to give sweeping tactical advice it would be something along the lines of "always keep your ships together" or "screen your escorts behind friendly vessels". I would also remind fleet commanders to assign a job to a particular vessel and to not forget the mission objectives. I would say "attack the enemy carriers first so they brace for impact and can no longer reload their ordnance bays". I would say "hold back your bombers to the last minute" or "put your carriers into their own squadron". I would certainly not say "play what you want to play and gut feelings are good as well". Obviously Lord Rhamirez had no idea of what to say, so he chose to make a sweeping and falsely esoteric statement, even if doing so made him look inept.
Tactical Advice for Novices
Lord Rhamirez states that if you are new to Battlefleet Gothic and you wish to learn tactics that you should experiment to see which tactics you like the best. I agree with Lord Rhamirez, but I would also add to this that you fight simulation battles with more experienced Admirals. Go to the Battlefleets Gothic mailing list to ask questions. Almost all that I have ever learned tactically I either figured out myself or had the tactic used upon me by another fleet.
Lord Rhamirez says that you need to put your faith in your armored prow hit the enemy with torpedoes and full broad sides then go in to the Sheer turn to hit the enemy again. This is an old tactic that I have used many times before and does work. Then Lord Rhamirez goes on to state that "A single suicidal vessel could try this on its own - no-one will ever be prepared for that and maybe the surprise will give you the edge you need." I would never EVER sacrifice a vessel like this to the enemy as long as it could still fight. Crippled ships and ships full of critical and with one hit left are still a valuable resource to be used to destroy our most hated enemies. If you feel the need to order one of the Emperor's precious capital ships on a suicide mission then you need to learn more about tactics in a simulator where no ships are destroyed. Lord Rhamirez states further that you should bunch your ships together so that they may benefit from massed weapons fire. I agree with grouping vessels in close formation, but you must also be weary of shields coming down, and possibility that the same blast cloud will bring down another ship's shields. Close formation also increases the possibility of enemy torpedo salvoes hitting your fleet's ships. However, this allows one to protect one's vessels with massed turret fire. Also, if one has a screen of fighters nearby they will prevent torpedoes and bombers from getting through.
I don't believe that Lord Rhamirez would know an Eldar Pirate Prince if they came over and slapped him across his face with their dainty white glove. Lord Rhamirez says that you should keep your ships in line formation but that you will sometimes find it hard to do so. I agree but you should always try to keep formation. Further Lord Rhamirez goes on to say that if your ships are together like this you can bring down lots of fire power down on to the Eldar corsairs. I have always fanned out my vessels so that there are always weapons batteries where ever the Eldar my try to hide. I also have a floating mine field of bombers around my ships so the Eldar vessels will have to take a chance if they wish to get in close. I would never recommend bunching your ships up when you are fighting Eldar because they will be able to dart in and out, and you won't able to snap off a shot. However, if you fan your ships out there will be less firepower concentrated, but you will be able to restrict the amount of places the Eldar could run. Be aware that it is possible for the Eldar vessels to concentrate their firepower on one of the outlying vessels, so I like to pair them together with a few escorts to cover the rear of the vessel. This is just what "I reckon"... pardner. ++ Magister's Note: See use of Low Gothic colloquialism in Lord Admiral Rhamirez's article, corresponding section ++
Lord Rhamirez points out that you cruise up to the enemy, fire your torpedoes and all is well. This is a good tactic but more detail needs to go into it. For instance, I like to fire my torpedoes constantly at the enemy even at long range. I also break them up into thirds so that more waves of torpedoes are moving towards they enemy. This causes the enemy to maneuver around the torpedoes, shoot at the torpedoes when they could be shooting at you and it causes them to use their precious fighters on the torpedoes giving you an advantage. Then, at the last minute, I let loose with all of my torpedoes in a gigantic wave to destroy the first capital ship in front of my fleet. I would bother firing my torpedoes at an Eldar fleet if I had them because six torpedoes hitting a vessel has a one in six chance of acquiring the holofielded vessel as a target. If one does acquire target, it then has a fifty percent chance of hitting the ship, but it is better than nothing.
I agree with the idea of placing a mission on certain vessels such as three Firestorms and a Dauntless with its six lances. I would probably assign that particular group the mission of harassing the enemies flank and pick on targets of opportunity like a small squad of escorts or a crippled capital ship. However Lord Rhamirez says that you wont want to group your carriers together because all of your ordnance will be in one place. He does have a point but Lord Rhamirez is forgetting that the carrier group is likely to have the Admiral on board one of the carriers so that the whole squad can reload ordnance on a high leadership. If they were scattered around they would botch their rolls more often. Also, Lord Rhamirez is forgetting that ordnance can move twice as fast as most vessels, so wherever the other ships is his fleet are, ordnance will be able to catch up. There is also the fact that most engagements besides the odd large one are around 2,000 points, so you will not have that many ships.
Engines of Destruction
Lord Rhamirez claims Lord Rethmon wrote that torpedoes are not that spectacular. It was at this point that I decided that I would like to go on record and officially state that I do not believe that Lord Rhamirez has even read Lord Rethmon's entire article. Lord Rethmon stated that it is best to use capital ships with torpedoes, not that he believes they are not that spectacular. Furthermore, Lord Rhamirez states that that Lord Rethmon thinks that carriers are the next best thing since warp drives. I happen to put a lot of stock into carriers because they do their job well. Take only one carrier in a 2,000 point fleet and you will surely be slaughtered if the enemy has ordnance superiority over you.
Lord Rhamirez says that ramming should be used as a last desperate tactic by a crippled vessel. I do not think he is right nor wrong. I have my own opinion which is to ram when you see fit. If an opportunity arises and you think ramming will inflict the most damage, then do so. If not, then try a different tactic,
Lord Rhamirez states that if you feel the need to break formation do so. I agree with this statement but I also agree with Lord Rethmon when he says to not break formation except in the two above mentioned circumstances. I believe that you should hold your formation because your fleet is more likely to survive except with regards to Eldar (I still believe you should fan out when fighting the Eldar). However if you absolutely feel the need to break formation, then do so.
This concludes my military critique on the tactical reports of Lord Rethmon and Lord Rhamirez. I hope very much that it will be of help to your fine institution when training the next generation of admirals.The Emperor's ob'dt servant,
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