Battlefleet Gothic Armada
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Developed by Tindalos Studios and published by Focus Home Interactive (the same guys behind Blood Bowl, Mordheim, and Space Hulk Deathwing), this game recreates the good old specialist tabletop, pitting the different factions of Warhammer 40,000 in brutal space warfare.
Basically the retelling of the Gothic War AKA Failbaddon's 12th Black Crusade, just a rookie admiral fighting Failbaddon's attempts to get the Blackstone fortresses. When you discover the plot unfolding and run to tell the Imperial Navy about the looming Chaos tsunami, the Inquisition immediately shocks your balls to be certain you're Heresy-free before you're promoted to sector fleet command with more promises of continued balls-shocking if you feth up. Grimdark abounds. Essentially, you play as Admiral Spire, who is a stand-in for Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg (Ravensburg is still there, but has been demoted to an advisory role). What Ravensburg did in fluff (or rather what he didn't, for certain scenarios), Spire did instead in the game.
Extra fluff was
added apparently ported over from the Iron Warriors novella (actually this dates back at least to the original Battlefleet gothic tabletop rulebook, check page 87), like Abaddon got the information about the Blackstone fortresses from some old crone (according to the intro movie).
Other sources suggest that the old crone was This crone is Moriana, according to the subtitles in game. A psyker with a powerful clairvoyance ability, and one of the Emperor's original advisors before falling to Chaos. Because of her ability, she is consulted by Abbadon numerous times on how not to be an armless failure, but has yet to succeed. It is also possible that she got the information of the fortress from the Chaos Gods themselves.
Oh, and it seems they got the same voice filter they used in Retribution to make Abby sound like himself, as well as Alfa Legion animation style combined with some beautiful 3D graphics which of course is gonna be highly exploitable for Youtube videos and whatnot. These campaign cutscenes provide bits of fanservice such as lesser and greater daemons of Slaanesh and colossal squigs making their first video game appearances.
Anyway. Rookie Spire quickly proves himself to be a highly capable Admiral running from flashpoint to flashpoint across the sub-sectors that make up the Gothic Sector in a giant game of whack-a-mole. Dealing with Heretics with extreme BLAM, Ork boyz eager to get in on the fights -up to and including taking on their space hulk and warboss- and of course those pointy eared xenos assholes known as the Eldar who seem to help and hinder you at the same time. With rarely enough resources to tackle all the problems each turn - so Tuesday for the Imperial Navy.
The main campaign is divided into three sub-campaigns.
First is the Prologue, which doubles as the tutorial. Based around the historical raids of the Chaos fleets looking for the 'Eye of Night' and 'Hand of Darkness'. Artifacts which in canon Failbaddon seized and was able to use eventually to turn on the Blackstone Fortresses because the Eldar are giant dicks leaving this stuff around. I mean this isn't a remote control you lost behind the couch for the TV here, but the keys to the ancient Eldar's WMDs. Nice work fellas! Anyway, Spire CAN with some excellent work keep the artifacts safely out of the hands of Chaos and place them into the theoretically safer hands of the Inquisition, who get them out of the sector to safety. The game however defines them not as the remote controls, but as artifacts that would dramatically increase the power of warp storms and make warp travel harder. Which will have a very big multiplier effect when...
The second campaign is called, appropriately enough, the 12th
Temper Tantrum Black Crusade. The Chaos attacks kick up in tempo and you're going to have to start making decisions on what missions to take and which ones to leave. Worlds can now be lost forever as Abby starts to nick those Blackstones and turn them against planets and eventually entire stars, something that isn't entirely clear to the Imperium at first, being distracted by his OTHER WMD; the aptly named Planet Killer. Which does give a sweet cutscene of it doing exactly what the name implies. Worlds that fall to the enemy strengthen them and weaken you in terms of keeping your fleet intact and supplied. Certain missions earn you 'favors' from factions within the Imperium consisting of the Navy, the Inquisition, the Space Marines (Imperial Fists chapter), or the Cult Mechanicus which can be redeemed for bling for your battleships. Priority missions are tied to the fluff of the crusade and ignoring them can quickly lead to Bad Ends. The Ork threat reaches its peak here where, if you play your cards right, things will end with a typically hilarious showdown with the Ork Boss on a mobile Space Hulk in an asteroid field. Once you damage it enough, the Boss shouts he's gonna show ya his hidden superweapon... which turns out to be an ancient Exterminatus level Cyclonic Torpedo. Maybe it expired, maybe the Orks have put it in the launcher backwards, but the Hulk is the only casualty, and without their Boss the Orks no longer represent a threat worthy of your attention.
The final campaign, 'The Imperium Resurgent' has the Warp Storms as in canon dissipate and Imperial reinforcements start to arrive, leading to a final showdown. If you have done well, the space lanes should have mostly been cleaned at this point, with a few lost worlds that had to die by canon but otherwise a glut of resources to hammer down on any nails that stick up. If you have done poorly, then between Abbadon blasting planets, capturing planets and the Inquisition cheerfully burning worlds that remained captured too long, lose more of the Blackstones; in short, the Gothic sector will start to look increasingly empty if you fuck up that badly.
Either way, finally you will face down the Blackstones and Planet Killer at the historical Battle of Schindelgheist (with Eldar help if you chose to spare them). Where Captain Abridal on board the Flame of Purity (who had tagged along with you in a few battles as a support ship) makes his historical sacrifice in a cool cutscene and rams his ship into the convergence point of the three Blackstone warp cannons, causing the energy to feedback and shut them down. While you deal with the Planet Killer and
blow it to all hell cripple it to the point that it escapes to show up a thousand years later in the 13th temper tantrum, along with two of the Blackstones that retreat.
One Blackstone is boarded, Abbadon promptly hits the Self Destruct button causing it to shatter a short time later into a million pieces.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada looks like a mix between Star Wars: Empire at War and Sins of a Solar Empire (Fitting, as there have been Battlefleet Gothic mods made for both). The game allows you to customize different ship classes with upgrades, which allows for limited personalization of fleets and specialization into different styles of naval warfare, being it long range carriers, close combat brawlers, etc. With the lead developer, AKA Admiral Ravensburg commenting the game resulted in quite a success things look bright for the community, and while after the first months the player base has dropped (as happens to most videogames anyway) it has remained with enough size to ensure you don't have to wait that much for a multiplayer match.
At this point a new matchmaking system is coming which will ensure new possibilities for multiplayer combat, while new patches have been fine-tuning the different factions, they may remain unbalanced in some scenarios but this being 40k and based in Battlefleet Gothic in vydiagaim isn't that much a nuisance unless you are one of those guys who are absolutely obsessed with making everything perfectly balanced.
For those who prefer some compstomp, there is a new elite mode, unlocked at level 8, both for solo and coop which allows you to have cruiser clashes against the AI at maximum difficulty, what is more, with each new level you earn the AI earn 1% more points for ships, so, by level level 41 it will get 41 percent more ship points to call into the fight, oh, and every 10 levels starting with level 11 you will fight against the Planet Killer, the Ork Space Hulk, etc, lots of FUN*.
Tindalos has undertaken the process of launching up a sequel set in the current point of the timeline after the Gathering Storm; in addition to all the current factions in the first game, Necrons, Dark Eldar, and Tyranids will be added as playable factions (while not technically new, the Eldar will be split into Craftworlds and Corsairs, and the Tau will be split into the Merchant Fleet and Protector Fleet). Existing factions will be getting some new goodies as well.
The tutorial for the game is… a bit sparse quite honestly. There are a few things that don’t get explained properly or at all, so here is a rundown on the way some of the crunch works:
Armour: The flat percent chance that an attack that hits you will be negated. The numbers are front/sides/back. For example if a ship had 75/50/25 armour then this is a 75% chance that any attack fired at the ship from within its front arc will do no damage, 50% chance against attacks fired at a ship from within its side arcs and only a 25% against attacks taken from the rear hur hur hur. Armour provides no protection against ordinance (so bombers and torpedos). If a skill says “Treats armour as 25” or some variation of that it means regardless of the actual value the armour of this ship is treated as 25. Attacks with this value are very useful against Space Marine ships, as most of them have impressive 75 all around them but less impressive hull points pool. Armour also (to some extent) mitigates damage received from passing though asteroids fields. Lastly, the thickness of your metal hide plays a role in calculating ramming damage, both dealt and received.
Assault actions: Comes in three flavours: Lightning strikes, boarding actions, and what I call “ordinance launched boarding actions” (because I am incapable of coming up with good names) which are boarding action launched through boarding torpedos, Thunderhawks etc. All three both do basically the same thing: deal a small amount of damage but have a high chance to deal critical damage (see below). In the patch that introduced the Space Marines the mechanics got tweaked somewhat: assault actions have a much higher chance of dealing critical damage to the sub-system you are targeting on an enemy ship (click the enemy ship in battle and you will see buttons to target specific places) rather than just rolling equally against all the critical hit options.
If you use this skill a lot you will notice that often you will see a message saying “(boarding action/lightning strike) failed”. A ships troop value is its flat percent chance to resist boarding actions. So a ship with a troop value of 60 has a 60% chance to not take any damage from an assault action. However, for every turret a ship has left this value is raised by 1 against boarding actions only. So a ship with a troop value of 60 and 9 remaining turrets has a 69% chance to repel boarding actions. Keep in mind though that a lot of ships will have upgrades that increase the number of assault actions that are launched per use of the skill (Orks for example have a skill called More Tellyportas which causes 2 assault actions to take place per use of the lightening strike skill), so you overcome this resistance by sheer number of boarding tests you will force a ship to make. Ordinance launched boarding actions have to actually hit the ship (so they can be shot down by turrets or just plain old miss) and then are rolled against the troop value. Teleporter assaults can only cause temporary critical damages, fires, or hull-breaches (which deals 25-100 damage to the hull), while boarding actions can cause permanent crits, fires, or breaches. In the event of, say, an enemy ship attempting to warp out, chances are best to use teleporter assaults, but really, this just depends on your ships and how you have them set up. No one-size-fits-all.
Critical hits: Critical hits have an additional effect when an attack isn’t negated by armor (see above). Critical hits (usually) only occur when an attack hits the actual superstructure of the ship, not its shields. All weapons have a critical hit chance that generally hovers around the 1-5% mark. While this may seem low, remember most weapon batteries fire 5 to 10 shots per salvo, all of which have a chance to crit. There are also weapons that have a *much* better chance, with some going as high as 30+%, for example the SM bombardment cannon with a maxed out master gunner crewman (nothing will make IN gamers like me cry harder than a battle barge with Master Gunner, Master of Armory, four bombardment cannons, and a means of killing shields easily. Nothing. Sodium levels WILL intensify). There are two types of critical hits: Temporary, which are shown in yellow and go away when you use the emergency repairs skill, and Permanent, which are colored red and are… well ya know. (If for whatever reason you have an unpatched version of the game, all crits are Permanent) A non-exhaustive list of critical hit effects are:
- Generator damaged: A ship can’t use any skills which have Affinity: Generator (there are too many to list but the biggie is lightning strikes, look at the skill description to see what affinity a skill has) and loses the ability to regenerate its shields/holofields. A destroyed generator also doubles time needed to make a warp jump/faction equivalent. A lost generator can be a death knell in certain cases; if you lose this against Space Marines or Tau...just get out, because if you don't, when your ship takes too much damage and needs to get the hell outta dodge, it's not going to warp out in time.
- Weapon Destroyed: Does pretty much what you expect. The most common to suffer, and perhaps the least crippling individually...but then, a ship with no guns ends up just being a glorified battering ram.
- Hull breach: Deals 25-100 hull damage; used to disable emergency repair skill, but now it's only if the ship is Heavily Damaged.
- Fire!: We didn’t start it, it was always bur- oh no wait we totally did start it. Deals a small amount of damage over time for its duration and multiple instances stack. 3+ fires at once are no joke, even on the largest ships.
- Bridge destroyed: Disables special orders. On smaller ships this isn't usually that big of a problem, but on major ships that are the centerpiece of your strategy, this can tip the balance at a crucial point and cost you the match.
- Engines damaged: This can be a catastrophe of the highest order...or it can just be "meh, whatever." "Fortress" fleets like some of what the IN or SM can field won't be too terribly affected if you know how to "circle the wagons", but if you're playing Orkz, a ship with broken engines is a completely useless ship, because your days of ramming anything other than the most tarded of reres are over. This is also a death sentence for Eldar. Tau couldn't really care less, and Chaos will find it problematic but not disastrous, as long as you know how to get good.
Depending on the chosen faction, gameplay will encourage a certain tactical doctrine based on archetypal strengths and weaknesses, with the Imperial Navy being heavy tanks designed for medium to close combat brawls, Chaos having great long range attack capability, Orks being very assault oriented, Eldar favouring hit-and-run tactics and stealth and Space Marines excelling at boarding actions.
Since changing ships and upgrade/skill loadouts consume limited in-game resources, players will most likely have to commit to a certain 'fleet build' in all game modes, with the leveling of new admirals and different builds within the same faction a likely time sink, although a new coming mode will change this model into something more accessible.
In the TT game, ship collision required a Ramming special order and was not automatic. In BFG: Armada ship collision is automatic and there is a maneuver resource that allows everything (Imperial and Chaos get the full gauge with boost and turning, Orks get a stronger but more random forward boost, and the Eldar gas pedal is weaker but faster recharging.) from capital ships to escorts to quickly turn and accelerate, making ramming a highly effective (albeit limited use) damage-dealer.
Point defense turrets are the default defense mechanism against torpedoes, bombers, and boarding craft. As ships take damage, they lose defense turrets in proportion to their health. This limits the effectiveness of the aforementioned tactics, especially at extreme ranges or against massed, undamaged ships. Late-game, however, when formations have likely broken up and as ships sustain damage, these become powerful offensives. While underestimated escorts can deal extremely heavy damage, with particular upgrades becoming highly effective against Eldar and Chaos harassers.
Most ships have a damage threshold which, when crossed, may force your ship to warp-out (or in the Eldar's case jump to the web-way, Tindalos thinks on everything), you can execute your captain to avoid the ship fleeing, although you must be careful as sometimes running away is the best tactic and a ship heavily damaged or destroyed won't be available for 1 or 2 turns respectively, you can also install the "Rally" skill which allows you to cancel a mutiny so the ship stays fighting without suffering penalties. Ships can also be lost in the warp, you can deny this by upgrading your navigator/equivalent.
Tindalos has implemented a series of interface options which allow you to preset certain behaviors for your ships such as minimum range engagement, autocasting skills, frontal or side attack and aggressive stances, this allows you to save some time customizing ships and can help you set your weapons to react to specific scenarios without requiring too much micromanagement skill, also, there is a tactical cogitator (click space bar once) which slows the game for some time so you can think what to do next, the ability will be reloaded after some time so use it wisely and don't bother trying to troll someone with it.
Love Nova Cannons? Certain cruisers can be fit with these murder guns, allowing you to mass enough firepower from very far away to wreck minor ships with coordinated volleys, although being highly inaccurate you may need a few of them to land some decent damage (tip, set autocast when the enemy is well inside the attack range). That aside, Imperial weaponry is high-alpha but low-medium ranged and heavily favors broadsides. Heavy armor but no special resistance to being boarded (aside from limited Ratings crew and Space Marines favour upgrades) means that Imperial ships prefer close-ranged shootouts but may struggle against dedicated assault fleets. Favours (specializations) include Imperial Navy (immune to insubordination and you can summon a Cobra), Inquisition (1 free bonus level for each crew member and you can reveal one enemy ship every 120 secs), Mechanicus (1 additional upgrade and skill slot, making it extremely popular), and Astartes(extra lighting action and boarding defense, okayish).
Your escorts can be effective in squadrons if you upgrade them properly. Sword-class Frigates benefit greatly from the armor-piercing macrocannon upgrade, while Firestorms can make good use of the lance range, anti-shield and crit upgrades. The turret upgrades also help in combating strike craft-based strategies. Cobras are fast and can be summoned as reinforcements with the Imperial Navy favour, making them pretty decent disposable firepower if you upgrade their macrocannons or engines, although their torpedoes may feel a bit lack-luster as they only shoot two, still, remember, each blow landed in an a summoned Cobra is less damage taken by your main ships.
Torpedoes should be fired right off the bat. Their spread makes them difficult to dodge at long range and can deal fairly significant damage/force the enemy to maneuver and thus be revealed. The skill reload lets you fire on average 3 full salvoes per ship before the engagement proper begins. Melta torpedoes are very good later in the game when emergency repairs are on cooldown, on the other hand, conventional torpedoes are great for finishing off ships attempting to warp out, just remember there is a minimum range for the torpedoes to deal damage.
Your light cruiser options are currently limited to Dauntless with Lances and Dauntless MkII with Torpedoes. Go for the lanceboat, although the case could be made for combining multiple volleys of torpedoes from 3-4 Dauntless MkII to finish off any ships attempting to disengage.
While Nova Cannons can be tempting they may be tricky to use, in previous versions they were quite broken, but Tindalos tuned them down, they are still fairly useful against incoming blobs of enemies but not that accurate as they may end up firing in empty areas and achieving pretty much nothing, they are still quite great for dealing with Eldar, though, as they are highly vulnerable to their area of effect.
The imperials have a nice selection of cruisers and battle cruisers which allow for different combos, whether you want jack-of-all-threads fleets or specialized fleets, although they are usually better in brawls, with the Overlord Battle Cruiser and the Tyrant Cruiser having the benefit of the plasma macro-cannon batteries. On the other hand, if you feel like you want a challenge or are finding Ork and SM ships hard to deal with you can go for Gothic and Dictator cruisers and Mars Battle Cruisers, as their respective lances and ordinance bays allow you to stay relatively out of danger.
For those of you who like battleships, you may go for the Retribution Class: while this ship is slow you could make an interesting build comboing maneuvering thrusters, fuel gauge, armour-piercing macro-cannons and a stasis bomb in order to get as close as possible to an enemy ship, keep it quiet, unleash a salvo of torpedoes and then finish them with your Plasma Macron-cannon broadsides at close range, as with nearly other tactic in this game is not an automatic win but it may work decently for games such as killing the transport ships or the Space Station where your victory conditions can't be sabotaged by a warp jump, you may also want to upgrade the Retribution with a power ram, while hard to pull this out, if you manage to get close enough for melee then you can throw a bunch of Consecutive Normal Punches by quickly turning on and off your thrusters to destroy anything short of another battleship in short order.
The other battleship, the Emperor class, is actually more an aircraft carrier than a proper Battleship, although it can still unleash some heavy damage with its broadsides, can be great for dealing massive damage at long range, or defend your other ships with swarms of fighters from enemy ordinance. Its main drawback is its slow speed, an abysmal 112, though this can be fixed somehow by installing Mezoa Pattern Drives and fuel gauge as well as belt armour to reduce the chances of getting its engines blown off. Did we mention it has a great 10,000 sight range?
If you are feeling particularly manly today, get some Angry Marines favor on your light cruisers for extra effectiveness on boarding and lightning strikes as well as defense (they make your ships yellow as a free bonus), buy the light cruisers maneuvering thrusters, gauge, macro-cannon armor-piercing and then some hull upgrades, and send them in mass supported by yet another Angry Marine cruiser with the same configuration, be sure to write "FUUUUUUU---" when rushing as close as possible on the enemy for extra-lulz.
What is this? Marks other than Khorne and Nurgle?! EXTRAHERESY! Ships aren't as tough as their Imperial counterparts but are faster, have longer range, and more powerful lances. In real life this would mean that Imperial ships wouldn't really have a chance to win against Chaos ships. When your enemy is fast enough to keep out of your range, has range to shoot you, and has powerful enough weapons to seriously harm or kill you...well, you're just fucked. Fortunately, the fluff doesn't care about that and neither does crunch or the universe would be literal Hell already. Standard tactics basically involve playing keep-away and throwing out Deathclaws every 90 seconds to take advantage of the game's critical hit system, which can cripple an Imperial player with bad RNG, bombers are great too for dealing extensive damage, and against dedicated close combat factions such as the Orks and the Eldar refractor fields are life-savers. Alternatively, you'll want to really improve your lances and hit enemy ships from outside their sensor range, this can be tricky as you will need to get the enemy ships revealed, a work your escorts can do decently.
Don't forget to buy the micro-jump upgrade, as you need to stay away and be ready to maneuver yourself out of close combat heavy ordinance.
When it comes to marks, Nurgle is considered the best one as its area of effect means anyone who closes in with you will receive continuously damage, giving you a much needed buff against the other close-range oriented factions as well as additional resistance against boarding actions, this is particularly great if you have to deal with orks, space marines, or the imperial navy, also, it makes easier for you to finish off enemy ships and quickly dispatch enemy escorts.
Khorne too gives some buffers to your boarding defenses and a bonus action when using lightning strikes and assaults, improving your chances of dealing critical damage to your opponents, also horns, like a lot of them, your ships become quite spiky, as a simple advice it may be a good idea to take some Carnage cruisers as they are the main brawlers of the chaos fleets and upgrade them with Khorne's mark, or go Nurglite.
Slaanesh mark may be nice when dealing with Orks as it breaks their morale, this being one of their weak points, it also has a power which blocks enemies from using special abilities, which may be helpful in order to shut some Eldar pulsar weaponry but that's it, one or two Slaanesh ships in your fleet may be enough for support or to hunt down one enemy ship at a time.
Tzeentch mark is good if you are depending in long range attacks as it generates a (very evident) cloud which hides your ship an any close allies, combine it with efficient thrusters for extra sneakiness, you can also throw a false-signature beacon and switch place with it if you so want, but don't expect that much as it disappears when in visual contact with the enemy, with that said, it turns your ship into a magical flying castle which may be a fancy compensation, try it with a Despoiler or a Desolator battleship!
Rest easy, because now your one stop shop for ramming and assault entertainment has arrived. All of your ships have a few "Kustom Points" that allow you to change out the basic build for something that is almost the same. Your options (at the time of this writing) are:
1) Lotz of Gunz, where you have, you know... a lot of small caliber gunz. This is the base option. Compared to macro-weapon of other races, gunz have very fast RoF, but orks being orks, battery is as likely to fire double the dakka, as no shots at all, making them quite unreliable.
2) 'Evy Kannons, which pack a punch....if you can stand low rate of fire and abysmal accuracy (50% at range of 3k units). If you take these, Macro-cannon range upgrade is absolute must.
3) Hangars. What does it say on the god damn tin? Grab the extra teleporta upgrade to drop 3 assault actions at once on some poor squishy fool. Adds 17 points to the cost of the ship.
1) Grot Prow Gunz. Not awful, but not world beating either. They're free if nothing else.
2) Mega Zzap gunz. They tend to do little damage, but have perfect accuracy, and orks even have upgrades the allow them to bypass shield and holofields, or slow down enemy ship upon hit. You can also slap one on any ship with the Weirdboy Tower upgrade.
1) Torps. Whats that bitching about torpedoes not being any good? Well, you're kinda right. BUT Orks get Boardin Torpz! Because cramming a bunch of Boyz into a tube and lobbing them at the enemy has never gone wrong in the history of ever, also, you can set them in auto with right-click, as the Boardin' torpedoz don't deal friendly damage.
2) Mega Kannonz. 90* forward arc lovin with good damage but...with Orky (in)accuracy. Probably better than torpedoes only if you having problems with maneuvering your ships front on to the enemy. Taking these actually cuts ten points off the cost of the ship.
Ork ships have the obligatory More Dakka upgrade available which causes all gunz to fire their maximum number of shots while the Lock On order is in effect. Combine this with Grot Message Runnerz to make orders last 50% longer and upgraded Grot crewmember to reduce order cooldowns and you may have difficulty seeing your ships through the hail of glorious lead spewing from every surface.
For favors, half of the upgrades are crappy or just basic utility (extra upgrade slot and Grot Shokk attack gun for long range teleporation for the Bad Moons, a highly inaccurate Nova Kannon which can explode and Kommando training for running silent for the Blood Axes). For the more suicidal among us, you can choose some Goff action. It provides you with a flat boost to Troops (for and against assault actions) and then straps a giant can opener to the front of your ship to provide +50% ramming damage ( stacking with orks racial bonus of another 50%). If you can time your Big Red Button right, you can ram escorts to death in one shot, The downside is that you lose your fancy rust-and-red paint in favor of Black on black. The Red Sunz favor is actually great when combined with the Big(er) Red Button as it not only gives your ship a longer boost of speed, but also a *traktor beam*, which is probably the orkiest weapon in the game, because nothing else screams Orks that something that allows tossing of kilometers long ships like toys. You can use it to throw enemies into mines, asteroid field, torpedoes fans, or right into the path of a bullrushing ship, extra-win if that ship has the Goff upgrade, accept no substitutes for catching scurry space elves. Make escort missions hilarious/infuriating by tossing a cruiser covering the transports directly into them and wiping out three in one go.
A further thing to note is that Ork ships are cheap as hell. If you ditch your torp launchers it's entirely possible to squeeze your entire fleet of cruisers and light cruisers into a single fight. Or, you can go for the opposite extreme and take two stripped-down light cruisers and 20(!) escort craft. A mob of Savages set to auto-use Lock On is capable of chewing through just about anything in short order and will spit out crits for days, but evaporates if a plasma bomb so much as looks at it funny. On lower difficulties this can win you games by itself. You can literally hit autodeploy, make a sandwich, and come back to the victory screen.
Do you enjoy losing? Then this is the faction for you! (He's not joking, this game is NOT Dawn of Eldar, that much is for trufax)
While this may be a slight exaggeration (no it's not.) the Eldar are one of the hardest fleets to play properly due to two rather glaring handicaps:
- The first is that instead of shields Eldar ships get holofields. Holofields start off at zero strength and increase to 100% effectiveness over a few seconds as long as the ship is moving over half its top speed, and begin to wane in strength once a ship slows down. At 100% strength the holofield decreases the accuracy of enemy macro weapons by 80% and provides a flat damage reduction against lances. While this sounds good on paper the fact of the matter is that most ships put out so many shots that statistically a few are going to get through every time. Because Eldar ships lack the regenerating shields of the other races, and due to the fact that they have lower hull points and a racial ability that increase the chance for enemy ships to land a critical hit on them, their staying power is greatly reduced compared to the other races, as pretty much every salvo fired against them is going to cause lasting damage. It also means they are always vulnerable to boarding actions.
- The second is that Eldar ships mount all of their weapons on the front of their ship. This means you have to be facing the enemy to actually do damage, which greatly reduces your maneuvering options. There are upgrades that increase the firing arc of Starcannons to 270 degrees, but only for a limited time. Suddenly space Napoleonic navy doesn't seem so dumb anymore.
The other major problem is that Eldar, as in most of their vidja game incarnations, are a very ability/micro heavy fleet. Except that they don’t actually start with very many abilities, which means that until you can buy some Eldar ships are fairly underpowered. But because they are underpowered you can’t win fights, which means you don’t get renown, which means you can’t buy abilities. Its catch 22. IN SPACCCEEEE.
Having said all that, once you do get some upgrades the Eldar become downright scary. Eldar have the highest damage potential bar none in the game making them the definition of "glass cannon". They have the best fighters, the best ordinance and their basic weapons can decimate ships in a matter of seconds with the right upgrades. They are faster than any other faction by a fair amount which allows them to pick where the fight is gonna happen as well as zip around objectives like mosquitos.
There are a number of ways to build your fleet, but to start with it’s really recommended you go play against some bots on the lowest difficulty setting. Don’t take that as a comment on you or your skills, Eldar just play so differently it takes a while to adjust, and if you are losing every other battle more likely than not you will give up and go play Orks. The first thing you are going to want to grab are Stasis Bombs, probes and Augur Disruptors. Use the bombs to break up the enemy fleet so you only have to deal with one ship at a time, the probes so you can pick priority targets (that’s carriers and assault boats) and the disruptor so that whatever ship is left can’t detect anything. Try to fight near gas clouds so once you do hit something with the disruptor you can have your ships go stealthy without needing to use the running silent ability. Just keep moving, as the Aces High song says, run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die, fire your pulsars at convenient rates or get ships with launch bays so you don't have to maneuver your ships to target the enemy. Don't let yourself get caught or you are done. Remember to keep mashing the solar sails button, and that you don't have high energy turns or broadside weapons- so feel free to sail right past the enemy ships, and turn around in their rear arc before playing chicken over and over again. Don't get hit, and don’t forget the Eldar weaknesses: Bombers and Lightning Strikes ignore holofields, so having a bunch of fighters escorting your ships may be a good upgrade, Nova Cannons and plasma bombs/stasis bombs, etc will pulverize you so avoid getting in their path. Players will target your generators since without it's holofields an Eldar ship will crumple with a few shots from any weapon. Eldar ships have an upgrade to give them a free fighter squadron to make up for their painful vulnerability to bombers, be careful of torpedoes which may draw those fighters.
Don’t be afraid as well for your first couple of fights to take out one ship and then leg it. You need abilities more than anyone else, and until you get them you probably aren’t winning a fair fight, and a destroyed ship is a drain on your resources.
Alternate take: Eldar have by far the best alpha strike in the game. When combined with their superior maneuverability, speed, and stealth, they are capable of isolating and instantly crippling, if not outright destroying, anything up to a cruiser. They can then disengage and repeat the maneuver. This applies to ranked and higher point games, where you have access to battlecruisers at minimum. The only counter to focused pulsar fire is the shield overcharge ability, and its cooldown is significantly longer than that of pulsars. Add to this the sustained harassment of eldar bombers, and the eldar are a fragile but dangerous faction, and if they catch a player off guard, they can destroy their ships frighteningly quickly. None of this applies to Eldar vs Eldar, which is a degenerate escort fight due to holofields.
Alternater take: DON'T PLAY FAIR! Your ships can't take it if anyone as much as looks at them funny, so do't let them. You have the fastest ships in the game and fastest turning speed and you can boost without being revealed to boot. Scout the enemy fleet, keep your distance, avoid torps and probes and zap anyone who comes uncomfortably close with an augur disruptor. And also bring nothing but carriers and upgrade your strike craft. At bigger battles, you can see cruisers melt under the weight of a concentrated bomber raid without as much as seeing you. Only get close if a ship gets separated from the pack, zap it's augurs, and pound the shit out of it with your glass canons.
Space marines and their space metal boxes are first DLC fleet added into game.
Compared to other fleets, SM are quite unique in a few aspects, most notably lacking any ship of battle cruiser class, but having access to two battleships (battle barge mark I and II) instead of just one in fights. Astartes ships are quite a sight, being moderately fast (somewhat faster than their navy counterparts but slower than most Chaos ships of the same weight class) and very well armoured. That however makes them expensive as well, and SM fleet will usually be ship or two behind in numbers (it’s actually not unusual to be out numbered 3 or 4 to one against Orks). Also, while SM ships have 75 armour all around they tend to have a lower HP total then other ships, which makes them very vulnerable to ordinance.
The thing you have to understand about the Space Marine fleet is that the same patch that introduced them to the game also tweaked the way assault actions worked to make them a bit more useful, and the SM fleet takes great advantage of this. All but a very few of their ships can launch Thunderhawks to provoke assault actions from a distance, and basically every ship has the option to upgrade their lightning strike action to roll three times for damage. They also have boarding torpedoes, which can lock on enemy ships, from unlimited range. You can take advantage of this by sending an escort ship while having the boarding torpedoes of the other ships in autocast and unleash salvo after salvo of attacks without risking any direct confrontation, good against fleets low on interceptors, not so much if your enemy has them. Finally, the SM racial ability lowers your opponent’s troop-value, making your assault actions more likely to succeed.
The major drawback of the fleet is that their guns tend to be a bit lacklustre, firing on average about half the number of shots of an equivalent Imperial Navy ship per salvo. A few of their ships do get access to a gun with a stupid high crit chance, but it fires very slowly. Also as mentioned above the SM fleet will often be outnumbered rather heavily, which combined with the low firing rate of their guns and cooldown time of their abilities, can often lead to them being swarmed over.
When it comes to favours, Astartes are again rather unique. Each specialization is incredibly powerful, but can only be mounted on a single vessel in the whole fleet. The favours are also actually the named character that fills that roll in the fluff, hence why they are unique. They also actually unlock that character as a crew member, and the special skills tied to them become more powerful the more points you put into them. The favours are:
- Chaplain: when active the ship becomes immune to assault actions for a short duration, which is excellent for trolling the Orks, but is otherwise the least useful of the four.
- Librarian: has a very large chance to trigger a mutiny on enemy ship, with the number of points put into the Librarian crew member decreasing their resistance to the effect. Again perfect against Orks, however can be countered with the Rally skill.
- Master of the Forge: Extra upgrade slots, one per level spent on the crew member, for the blingiest ship in entire segmentum.
- Chapter Master: Toggled ability. When off it passively buffs the special order for the entire fleet, when on it rises the troops value for the ship it is assigned to and decreases enemy ships troop value.
Do you like winning? Just pay to win!
Best guns in the game with the longest ranges. BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING.
Surprisingly, the Tau in fluff have an absolutely terrible navy. Their guns are more powerful for their size than Imperial weapons of the same size, but Imperial weapons fire shells the size of some Tau warships and come in dozens or hundreds of weapons batteries which each hold fifty or so of these weapons so...as you can imagine, in the fluff, the Tau die horribly in naval engagements which is the main reason the Damocles Crusade kicked so much ass before the Navy decided they were bored and left it to the Imperial Guard instead of blowing everyone up from orbit for the umpteenth time. The main reason they're a problem for Imperial worlds they invade is that the Imperium doesn't want to lay waste to the planet and knows the Tau will keep things intact enough that the Imperium can always just come back later and re-conquer the world when they feel like it.
In this game, though, the Tau actually are dangerous.
But seriously the sheer amount of firepower Tau can send downrange is frightening. Due to the way their ships are designed, with a more wavy, flatter, organic thing going on than the Imperium’s METAL BAWKSES, Tau ships can generally bring ALL of their guns to bear on a target in their front or side firing arcs. Combine this with minimum ranges of 9000 for railguns (micro-weapons) and 6000 for ion cannon (lances) that can be increased to 12000 and 9000 respectively and it’s possible to wipe out enemy ships in a single round of shooting from outside their detection range. On top of that their torpedoes lock-on and track their targets. Launch a probe across the table, or send some sacrificial escorts, to identify enemy ships, fire ze missiles, and watch as your opponent’s ships explode out of nowhere.
In terms of ships the Tau tend to be fairly offensively minded, with many ships combining lots-o-gunz, launch bays and torps on a single frame, but besides that aren’t really noticeably different from the other races, with two major exceptions: Firstly, two of their escorts, the Warden class and the Nicassar Dhows, can’t be bought at the load out screen. Certain ships equipped with “Gravatic Hooks” will automatically bring two Wardens with them (or two Dhows with an upgrade), allegedly for free but not really since any ship with Gravatic Hooks costs 75% more then another ship of the same weight class. The second is that Tau don’t have a Battlecruiser section on their ships lists. Instead they have an Auxiliary section, which includes two Demiurg ships and the Kroot Warsphere. The Warsphere is derpy as hell, as it can’t change direction like a normal ship and instead has to use its entire boost gage to come to a new heading. It is also quite short-ranged (compared to everything else), which paired with it's glacial slow movement meant it would never fire on anything Chaos or Eldar. That being said it is tough as fuck and cheap as dirt, and with a right upgrades it could be a perfect spotter for scenarios in which you can afford to play defensively (leave it at home for extraction and convoy missions). The two Demiurg ships are different weight classes but otherwise play the same: Big beefy bastards riddled with micro-weapons at the front and lances on the sides. They also have a front mounted mining beam which functions almost identically to Eldar pulsars with one twist: it gains charges when the ship is in an asteroid field or there are wrecked ships nearby and fires a number of times equal to the charges it has. Its short ranged but devastating, and is capable of crippling even a battleship with full shields and health if you hit it will all the shots.
Downsides? Tau ships are universally as slow as molasses flowing uphill. Seriously get out and walk. It will be faster. Normal Tau ships also can’t use lightning strikes (although Auxiliary ships can). These two factors make them horrible at anything that isn’t a stand-up fight. Data recovery missions or planetary strike missions as the attacker are basically a write off. Their ships also have generally about the same HP as Eldar ships, which makes them vulnerable to similar things (bombers, torps etc). This, combined with slow movement, also means they are particularly at risk of being rammed, to the delight of Ork players everywhere.
However there is something you can do to go sanic fast, the Air Caste favor increases your line ships speed by 50 points, to put that in in perspective that makes your 150 speed line ships (not counting auxiliaries that can't take favors anyway) and turns them into 200 speed. Chaos line ships have a speed of 188, so yeah, fuck your augur disruptor vision game.
Imperial: Easily out-ranged. Tau and Chaos are perfect against them. Easily out-maneuvered, which makes Eldar and Orkz good against them, though Eldar get shot up quickly, and the orks lack manoeuvrability. With any other faction, just make sure you have more dakka as Imperial ships have retarded amounts of life. Be wary of their Nova Cannons and fetish for torpedoes, an IN cruiser spewing 6 torpedoes into your broadside at minimum activation range does 45 dam. x 6 = 270 damage, those things pierce armor, and they can fire as fast as once every 30 seconds, which is not long. Best way to counter torps. is with spacecraft-carriers with fighter screens.
Chaos: They can only be out-shot by Tau. Get close quickly with every other faction, ram them to shit (unless you are Eldar). Orks may be the best rammers, but they get shot up fairly quickly. Don't let them get into nebulae, they will make your life hell. If they have augur disruptors, they're going to make you chip your teeth grinding them in frustration as they blank your sensors then run silent and start tearing into you at near-point-blank range with impunity while your ships stumble around uselessly.
Eldar: Very weak against ordnance and boarding. They can be rammed by other Eldar ships while trying to do their faggoty fairy dance zoom-arounds, which can make games hilariously short. Or you can just sit back and watch them get shot to hell by your cluster of stationary ships. Really, you don't have to do much to win. Just circle the wagons and watch them fail at life. If you're playing Space Marines it's even easier because you can drown them in boarding actions while they struggle to scratch you. Someone remind the space fairies to go home and let the adults handle the manly shit like void warfare.
Orks: DO NOT GET CLOSE. Or for God-Emperor's sake, don't get in front of them, at least. Shoot them up from afar, and from behind. That's it really. They can be out-manoeuvred by every faction, given their worst attack is in a straight line and all you have to do is move away slightly. If you have quick ships, fuck them up the ass.
Space Marines: dangerous up close, try to out-range them. Tau and Chaos are the best against them (or other Marines). Pretty much useless to board, don't bother. Slow as hell. Shields are mediocre, HP is very low, but they're armored like god-damned Land Raiders in spess. In other words, lances. Lances everywhere, all day, every day. Pew pew.
Tau: given that Tau ships are fairly weak, the best option is ramming (unless you are Eldar). This makes orks very effective against them, given that Tau ships are slow. You can not out-gun or out-range them (perhaps with Chaos, who can increase their lances to 15.000, but given your max range is 12.000 and the ships manouvre to this distance, it is pretty much worthless). They are fairly bad against boarding. DO NOT LET YOUR STRONGHOLDSHIP GET BELOW 30% LIFE. It will leave mid-battle and you are fucked (though if you have MWJ you just use that to prevent the mercenary train from triggerin). A fun tactic with the SMurfs is to use a fully beefed-up librarian to trigger a mutiny. Then watch their most powerful warship leave. Bring at least a couple carriers for fighters, because their homing torpedoes will plink away your ships' HP before even their main guns get into range. If you're Imperial, Nova Cannons, torpedoes, and/or ramming. Your prow is armored for a reason; let the armor take the brunt, go for the biggest ship face-first and let your broadsides and boarding assaults do some work on the smaller ships on the way in, try to circle the biggest ships as quickly as you can and tell your crews to aim for their shields. Orkz laugh at the Tau, if you're an Orky type and you're losing to Tau, just...turn your game off, go do something else. Space Marines with bombardment cannons, with their heavy armor, will make Tau cry the saltiest of johns. Eldar...well, as usual, if you're Eldar, you're fucked, dude.
UPDATE: Release pushed back to Jan 24th according to steam to allow for extra polish. Lame, but at least they aren't doing a rush job. Here is the [latest release trailer] narrated by the Metal Troll himself to tide you over :
- The wiki, currently under construction, help is welcome!
- The official forums, feel free to fill it with complains about how your fav faction needs insane buffs.
- A most excellent profile editor which allows you to max out your singleplayer admirals so you don't have to grind through skirmish to get all the goodies.
- Imperial Navy trailer, killing heretics and xenos for the Emprah!
- Chaos trailer, for the ruinous powers! Marks for all gods!
- Da orks trailur, we iz gona krump dem good! Featuring, ork pirate songs!
- Eldar trailer, they don't seem to like ork songs!
- The launch trailer, featuring imperial manliness unleashed and Abaddon talking about people failing.
- Space Marines trailer, seems like Spire knows something about the Dark Angels THAT WE ARE TOTALLY SUPER-LOYAL IN ALL 40K ITERATIONS INCLUDING THIS ONE
- The Tau come to bring death from afar and space communism
- The game's soundtrack in all it's grimdark glory