Imperial Navy Grand Cruiser
The Grand Cruiser is a warship type used by both the Imperial Navy and the Fleets of Chaos. Smaller than a Battleship, a Grand Cruiser was still heavily armored and shielded, could still mount Battleship-grade weaponry, and yet still be faster and more agile than those great behemoths. Lore-wise, a couple Grand Cruisers could duel a battleship and win. And given some of those Grand Cruisers are two-thirds the size of battleships with all the cost savings of that length and massive difference in volume would result in, you could probably build several for the cost of one Battleship. Or they should be, but somehow the Vengeance and its variants are almost the size of an Emperor-class battleship despite one ship missing one third of the other’s decks.
The designs of Grand Cruisers are ancient, with many of them predating the Great Crusade. With many of the complex systems that went into their construction now either lost or no longer easily replaced, the vast majority of Grand Cruisers have since been removed from active duty. Their place in Imperial fleets have instead been replaced by Battlecruisers, which are far easier to maintain.
Many however still serve in Reserve fleets, ready to return to front-line duty if the need is dire enough.
Like how the Endeavor-class and its variants are basically just one of the two weapon sections of a cruiser made into a ship, the Imperial grand cruiser classes are basically two of the three battleship weapon sections made into their own ship. Lego-tech is still proving its effectiveness.
Of course there are other Grand Cruiser classes out there, but those went over into the service of the Great Enemy. Those described below are the ones still known to be used by the Imperial Navy current era.
Grand Cruiser Classes
The class that the other Imperial Grand Cruisers are based on, the Vengeance was configured to take out its targets at extreme range. Armed with long-ranged Plasma macrocannon and heavy Lance broadsides as standard, the class has more than enough firepower to fend off a Cruiser or an Escort squadron.
Due to its lack of any prow and dorsal weaponry, the class is very vulnerable once any opponent manages to close the distance. It's particularly vulnerable to Attack Craft, as it doesn't have enough guns to defend itself from successive waves of attacks even though it has better shields than most Cruisers.
The ship design is now 10,000 or more years old and is being slowly phased out. The remaining Vengeance class ships are currently in reserve fleets or used to protect shipping lanes from pirates. They are very rarely used in full-scale engagements any more, due to being outclassed by newer designs, but only a fellow grand cruiser or a full battleship can hope to face its broadside one on one. The opposite of outclassed, but the Imperial Navy can’t abide common sense.
- Length: 7.5km
- Mass: 39 megatonnes; approx
- Crew: 105,000 crew; approx
- Acceleration: 2.1 gravities max sustainable acceleration; approx
The Furious-Class Grand Cruiser is an old type of Grand Cruiser used by the Imperial Navy and forces of Chaos.
The Furious Class vessels reached limited production at a time where the Repulsive-class Grand Cruisers reached the point at which Tech Priests of the Imperium had increasing difficulties maintaining their complex systems. At the same time, an idea caught on at the shipyards of Cypra Mundi to utilize the newly developed armored prow of a Battleship combined with a Grand Cruiser. This created a flagship for combined Cruiser fleets, which had the massive firepower of the earlier Repulsive design but enhanced command capabilities.
These ships were used primarily as portable firepower, upping the power of Imperial squadrons to almost Battleship levels thanks to its two Weapons Batteries, Lance battery, and Torpedo tubes. Tactically these ships were successful but suffered from the same engine issues as their Repulsive-class predecessors. As a result, a more thorough rebuild took place in M39 which reduced the weapon strength but added reliability. Following the Gothic War, a few remained in service, primarily with the fleets of Segmentum Obscurus and Segmentum Tempestus where their formidable firepower remains so valuable that the unreliable engines are overlooked.
- Length: 7.5km
- Mass: 40 megatonnes; approx
- Crew: 112,400 crew; approx
- Acceleration: 2.1 gravities max sustainable acceleration; approx
A modified Vengeance with Launch Bays replacing the usual Lance batteries, the Exorcist was designed for extended operations alone at the edges of Imperial space, and is still considered the best long-range patrol ship available. Rogue Traders in particular like its self-sufficiency.
Exorcists are also popular as a dual-purpose Colony Transport, where some of its flight bays are fitted to carry colonists and their equipment instead. Many colony convoys are thankful for the company of an Exorcist, as the Cruisers are able to outgun the raiders that would normally prey on such vulnerable vessels. Due to its dual-purpose nature, the Exorcist could swap out its components depending if it is trying to find new worlds to settle or bomb a battlefleet to oblivion; a mixture of Aquila Landers and Arvus Lighters for the former and Fury Interceptors, Faustus Interceptors, Starhawk Bombers and Shark Assault Boats for the latter. The Exorcist is mainly deployed to remote areas such as the Eastern Fringe, or the Galactic Halo, due to their ability to act independently of a support fleet for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, like the Vengeance, the Exorcist class has been viewed as obsolete, and many Admirals have switched to the Mars Class instead. Presumably because they’re stupid or prefer ships with retarded combinations of weapons.
So, what about replacing the gun decks with more launch bays?
- Length: 7.3km
- Mass: 37 megatonnes; approx
- Crew: 112,000 crew, 20,000 pilots and support personnel; approx
- Acceleration: 1.99 gravities max sustainable acceleration
Armed entirely with short-ranged Macro batteries, the Avenger was designed as a linebreaker, pure and simple. The usual tactics involved rushing the ship full-speed into the heart of an enemy fleet, and cause as much damage and disruption as possible, wherein following ships would finish off the survivors.
Because of their role, the Avenger has two decks of weapons batteries that are hugely powerful, but short-ranged. It is also equipped with four squadrons of Attack Craft to deal with targets at a greater distance.
As the tactical doctrines of the Imperial Navy changed from close range firepower to long-range duels, the Avenger lost its only role. This meant that the class was re-assigned to reserve fleets and patrol duties. Not many Avengers survive into the present-day Imperium, but those that do are looked upon fondly by both Navy personnel and the public-at-large as reliable and faithful warships.
Even though the 41st millennium’s Imperial Navy focuses mostly on charging in for close-range brawls and giving it a triple-armored prow wouldn’t be difficult.
- Length: 7.5km
- Mass: 40 megatonnes; approx
- Crew: 141,000 crew; approx
- Acceleration: 2.2 gravities max sustainable acceleration
In Battlefleet Gothic
Grand Cruisers are what one gets when a player needs the guns of a Battleship, but a bit tougher than a standard Battlecruiser, for just about the same point cost. Grand Cruisers are still just as fast and maneuverable as their smaller cousins, though with the lack of an Armored Prow they're much more vulnerable from attacks coming from the front, and obviously not as effective for Ramming.
The class does lack for a dedicated Lance-boat (in-universe, it's because said Lance-boat design went over to Chaos), so the Vengeance fills in for it somewhat, despite its macros having a longer range.
In Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 1 & 2
Grand Cruisers were built for a different time, and it shows, playing very differently from other Imperial Navy vessels. There are no armoured prows, torpedoes or Nova Cannons here - indeed, no actual prow weapons. Instead, what you have are vessels built purely for duelling, slugging it out with ferocious broadsides which can rival battleships' output. For some players, this is a deal-breaker, as the reduced prow armour make them twice as fragile when charging into enemy formations and the lack of weapons there reduces the ability to pull off skilled micro moves like smaller cruisers' torpedo/ram combo. However, other players appreciate the lack of micro involved, as once you've chosen a target and set engagement distance and side, there isn't really much else to consider, meaning you can focus elsewhere.
The Vengeance is your basic grand cruiser, sporting powerful long-range plasma macrobatteries and lances; in this regard it's basically an up-gunned Lunar, though lacking the armoured prow and torps. Unfortunately, your lances lack some of the range of battlecruisers' lance turrets. This means it's harder to withdraw to long range and poke at damaged enemies with accurate fire, and shares the generalist weakness of never being able to bring its batteries against a single target efficiently.
It's nonetheless a strong option, and can actually open up some interesting possibilities. When paired with the longer-ranged battlecruisers, its mobility and enhanced resilience can be used to screen them from return fire; when paired with shorter-ranged ships, it can operate efficiently from behind the lines. And though it strictly lacks prow weapons, it does still have the powered spur for extra ramming damage - with all the weight of a grand cruiser behind it.
The Avenger is your close-range brawler. The lack of an armoured prow really hurts here; with nothing but macro broadsides you have no option but to charge straight in, soaking fire all the way. When you get there, the lack of lances can be frustrating, and worse, your macrobatteries are actually the light versions, meaning that although it pumps out a lot of shots, the damage output is somewhat lower than you might expect.
If you want a grand cruiser to do grand cruiser things, the Vengeance is usually better; however, as a line-breaker the Avenger still does its job admirably. With the weight of the class behind a powered spur, accelerating to ramming speed will break apart enemy formations and careless enemy ships very quickly, allowing your lances to get to work from afar while the enemy is forced to deal with a ship every bit as resilient as you'd expect from a grand cruiser in the middle of their formation.
The final advantage the Avenger has in this regard is that it's astonishingly cheap, and so surprisingly expendable in its suicide-charge role. It's so affordable, in fact, that even though it's stuck with light macrobatteries, the Avenger actually has the second-highest broadside DPS per point in the entire Imperial Navy roster, beaten only by the Endeavour light cruiser (and even then, beaten very narrowly). Take the armour-piercing ammo upgrade to reduce enemy admirals to tears and ships to scrap.
The Exorcist is your carrier option, and shares the Tyrant's issue of short-ranged macrobatteries. This means it needs to engage at a far lower distance than it really wants to if it's to contribute to the fight after scrambling strike craft. Worse, the Emperor-class isn't really that much more expensive and has weapons which allow it to actually engage at carrier range. Plus, despite having two sets of launch bays, it groups all squadrons into a single blob, meaning you can't scramble fighters for point defence AND bombers for offence at the same time.
So - if it's almost the price of an Emperor while lacking its improved hull integrity and weapons, and less flexible than a couple of Defiants, why bother with the Exorcist? The answer is simple; it absolutely shits out strike craft. Point for point, this is your most efficient source of squadrons, and those squadrons are so large that scrambling bombers can reduce even heavier enemy ships to scrap in shockingly short order. Plus, the way squadrons are handled means that if even a single model survives to return, the whole squadron is replenished, and since you can only carry a limited number this can drastically increase how many times you can launch in longer battles.
Versus the Emperor, you're losing out on the improved sensor suite and turrets, but gaining significantly improved mobility while being just as threatening as an actual carrier. Versus two Defiants, you're trading the flexibility of being in two places at once and having two types of squadrons at once for a much tougher hull and more resilient strike craft. Overall, there isn't a clear winner, as what will serve you best depends on your playstyle; but if you just want to fill the skies with the navy's finest pilots, want to wield a proud relic of humanity's last golden age, or just love Battlestar Galactica, the Exorcist is a venerable and noble addition to your fleet.