Part IV:  Federation Carrier Analysis

Finally, Iíve gotten around to finishing my carrier trials!  :)  Hereís how I conducted them:  I took one carrier (it didnít matter which one, but it must be a full carrier and not an auxiliary carrier) with a fighter complement depending on the types I thought would be best against a particular race, and then picked for the Admiral AI a ship that was particularly good against fighters (Hydrans would have an abundance of phaser-Gs, while the Romulans/Gorn/ISC would have plasma-Ds, for example) with roughly equal BPV per the patch  (Taldren-please stop this new variant madness-makes my job so much harder :) ).  Then, I went and tried to smack down the other ship with the carrier.  Hereís what I learned from the experience.


It Must Suck To Be A Pilot, or How To Protect Your Fighters


The first rule to follow is quite obvious:  Donít let your fighters die.  Once they are destroyed, your ship will be under-armed and unable to fight back against that grinning ISC bastard with two PPDs and a bunch of enveloping plasmas.  But how to prevent this?


Well, first of all, ask Autolycus.  Iím relatively new to carriers, so some of these strategies might not hold, but as heís the only Hydran that frequents this thread, he would be the best person to ask for advice.  However, these strategies seem to hold against the AI, so why not use them?


To avoid getting your fighters killed, fly with an escort armed with hordes of missiles (the NCD+, CADR, and BCG are particularly good at this) that can be used to soak up enemy AMD or plasma-D fire while your fighter jocks get primed and ready to go kick some butt.  Those escort ships, like the NEC, also work wonders, carrying FIVE G racks with FIVE supplemental AMD as well.  Theyíre not called ďescortsĒ for nothing.


Another way is to set those fighters on Harass mode, which actually works-well, somewhat-because of the tweaks the gave to the fighter AI.  That means they fire their complement of phasers at the enemy and launch some drones while theyíre at it as well-forget the photon torpedo.  Follow this up with a full overrun with proximities and overloads and, together with your fighters, begin to smash their systems.


Plasma ships are especially annoying, not only because of the plasma-D (the carrier captainís nightmare) but because damage is continued from one fighter to the next.  That means if you have a squad of two Raven Is and he shoots an enveloper G at your fighters, itíll kill the first and the remaining damage (28 points!) is applied to the other, which kills it as well.  Thatís why you donít fly carriers against plasma-races unless you fit in one of two categories:


1)  You can kill a Romulan dreadnought with a Federation POL+

2)  You are insane


Good, I didnít think so.  Instead, take those fighters of yours to the opposite side of the galaxy unless you are VERY confident in your ability to win (or youíre using carriers as auxiliary firepower while youíre personally flying your own beautiful Federation BB).  Those fighters will eat the Mirak alive while providing an excellent point-D force, will utterly and completely kill the Lyrans providing that the AI actually cooperates and stays out of ESG range.  AMD isnít much of a threat-use your phasers and proxies to knock some of them out (following up with an hit-and-run on that system).


Hey, Can I Borrow That NEC?, or How To Fly With An Escort


There is one simple reason to fly with an escort ship, and that is to protect your fighters.  Your typical escort ship is armed with a boatload of missiles and phasers, some with the occasional photon tossed into the mix, that serve to suck up enemy phaser/AMD/plasma-D fire.  Also, your escort serves as the all-too-expendable rear guard just in case your fighters are destroyed.


One scenario I played was in a light carrier accompanied by an NEC.  I was flying against a Romulan KCR, armed to the teeth with plasma-Ds and enveloping plasmas.  First things first:  I brought my two ships to Red Alert and started looking for the big, bad Rommie.  I found him about 100 klicks away, charging headlong towards me at speed 20.  Immediately, I switched by photons to proximity mode and began to move towards him at minimum speed (around speed 5).  My earnest ally, on the other hand, started to charge towards the KCR until I ordered him to start acting like an escort and escort me.  My fighters were still safe in their fighter bay.


By this time, he was only 40 klicks away from me, so out went the proxies and a quick turn.  The NEC had also launched all of its drones on my command, which were immediately shot down by the plasma-D.  The sequence was repeated until the NEC's drones started getting shot down by the KCR's phasers, rather than its Ds.  Then, I launched my fighters, executed a full alpha strike on its front shield with overloaded photons and a drone wave (and my fighters shooting phasers into its burned hull), and proceeded to kick the Romulan's butt.  That couldn't have been achieved unless the NEC hadn't launched its drones and tied up the KCR's D-racks.  And until it did, my fighters could never have survived.


Escorts are good things.  You NEED escorts.


Tactics??  What Tactics??, or How To Use Fighters


I once played against a good friend who took a Federation a heavy assault carrier against my BCF.  It was a slaughter.  A description of his strategy:


1)  Launch fighters on Attack mode

2)  Charge after them with full overloads

3)  Repeat


Needless to say, it didn't work very well.  I simply retreated with my Fs turned off and started tossing proxims at his shields.  Meanwhile, I let the fighers close and then transported a t-bomb in front of them, which heavily damaged all of them.  Then, my BCF chewed them apart with its massive phaser battery, accompanied by one F-type plasma.  When his fighters were gone, the game was over.  While he struggled to catch up to me while holding his overloads and throwing his missiles at me (dutifully shot down by my point-D systems), I proceeded to use my proximities and then laugh as he scrambled to reinforce his shields before one of them went down.  Eventually, I let him close with me and all of his overloads missed when I jacked my ECM up to 6 and dumped a weasel out the back.  When he had no weapons left, I charged him and tore him up with plasmas.


Don't let this happen to your carrier.


First of all, USE YOUR ESCORT!  Your escort is there for a reason--to escort your carrier.  Its weapons are there to keep their weapons away from your weapons, the fighters.  Your fighter squadrons are fragile.  They die easily.


Secondly, try to pin the enemy between your fighters and a missile wave.  If you're lucky, your fighters will stay outside of plasma-D/AMD range while he wastes them on the drones.  If you're not lucky, have your ship launch its own drones as well, and tell the fighters to get out of there and return to the fighter bay.  While they're coming, watch their plasma-Ds and AMD racks kill the missiles, and then return your fighters to Harass mode without them ever coming back to the hangars!


Oh, BTW, if any fighter squad is getting ripped to shreds, target it (the button will flash periodically on the fighter control panel) and tell it to return home.  Even if there is only one fighter left, the squadron will be repaired back to full strength and be rearmed with its heavies.  Then, send it back outside with a vengeance and watch the fighter pilots blast them apart.


Also, a carrier fleet is helped greatly by a scatterpack shuttle, which launches six missiles at the opponent simultaneously.  While the drones blossom out of the shuttle, your fighters begin to launch their own missiles while your escorts launch theirs as well.  By that time, they'll be completely and utterly overwhelmed by your missiles and then you can proceed to let your fighters do what they are designed for--blowing the enemy apart.


Another interesting trick is to work in a multiplayer team with three other players (four humans against four AI).  You and another human command a carrier while the two escorts (light cruisers, baby!) are played by two other humans.  Immediately, have your force split apart into pairs--sounds like suicide?  Let me elaborate.  One escort will stay with your carrier while the other covers the other.  Then, you split apart and proceed to pin apart the opponent by chucking your proximity photons at them between your ships.  If worked correctly, the enemy will be caught between a photon and a hard place, a crossfire of deadly proximity photons accompanied by a missile wave.  If they try to kill one group, you charge towards them and start beating on them, and if they try to kill you and your escort, they leave the other carrier group ready and waiting to pounce.  In effect, splitting your carrier force into two means that they will have to split apart as well--and your fighters will provide the firepower of an extra heavy cruiser or two, enough to blow apart their ships quite easily.


Captain SíTasik, ISC Division, Xenocorp


ISCS Rod and Berry, DNT