Yesterday Oleksiy Kirsenko was written about UCM Battlefleet starter set from the point of view of the new player. He take a look at what kind of ships you can build from that box, as well as provide some recommendations. You can view this document as a bit of a guide for new players just getting into the game, although I suppose some points might be interesting for more experienced UCM commanders as well. You can read it here.
Today Oleksiy give some his general thoughts about UCM and it strategy.
Let’s first take a quick look at what UCM is as a faction. If you haven’t committed to buying this Battlefleet yet, I would strongly recommend to consider its strengths and weaknesses.
So, UCM is one of the main factions in the game, if not THE main one. Similar to Imperium in 40k, the story of the game is being told from the POV of this faction. Their military designs are simple and utilitarian, built to serve one specific role, and they are strong believers that it’s better to have many good-enough ships than a few perfect ones. Crunch-wise, this has several consequences. Firstly, they are very easy for a new player to start playing with. UCM doesn’t have any unique rules, and only a couple of generic special rules that no one else currently utilizes. The flip side is, though UCM is easy to PLAY with, it’s pretty hard to WIN with them. While their ships are described generally as middle-of-the-road designs without glaring strengths or weaknesses, in practice this means that in almost all key areas (firepower, armour, speed, scan etc.) UCM ships are the worst or the second worst in the game. There are a few exceptions, like bombardment, but they require some experience and practice to use effectively. In general, UCM in-game tactics demands you to adhere to their fluff mentality – prepare a battle plan, focus on your objectives and remember about the mission at all times. UCM is fighting a war to reconquer their lost worlds, and their fleet’s main role is to serve as a bridge between colonies and cradle worlds. Unlike factions like Shaltari or Scourge, destruction of enemy ships should not be your main priority on its own, since your firepower resources are limited. Instead, you should focus on those targets that advance your main mission – getting foothold on the ground. But when you do – hit them with everything you have. If you can embrace this mission focused mentality, and accept that you are going to be outgunned pretty much all the time, UCM will be an interesting faction for you.
Let’s do a quick summary of pros and cons:
Why you should play UCM:
– You dig the fluff, design of the ships, and whole “Humanity FY!” vibe around this faction
– You like to build your fleets as coherent military machines, where every cog serves its purpose, and power of the whole exceeds sum of its parts
– You don’t like spamming and prefer balanced approach to list building.
– You’re up to a bit of challenge 😉
When you shouldn’t play UCM:
– You like to blow shi…ps up 😉 UCM, in general, has less direct firepower than other factions
– You want to have a lot of cool unique special rules for your fleet. UCM is pretty bland in this area. It’s simple, cheap and reliable – like an entrenching shovel.
– You like when your faction has the most firepower, fastest ships or better armour than anyone else.
Mind you, this is not a list of relative strengths and weaknesses of UCM’s ships – we will look at those later. It’s, rather, a general “feel” of the faction, what you expect to experience playing it. If, after reading this, you still want to put on an admiral’s cap, then welcome, commander, and let’s see what our shipwrights have prepared for us.
Tactics in general is a huge topic, which we’ll be better discussing in separate document (since this one is already dragging for too long and I wonder if anyone has read it up to this point ), however I’d like to point out some hints which will be useful for new player.
- I’ve already pointed this out, but want to repeat again: if you are playing against Shaltari or Scourge – DO NOT GO CHARGE INTO THEM HEAD ON. You’ll never be able to win direct frontal-to-frontal arc firefight with them. Debris and asteroid fields are UCM’s best friends. Hide behind them until you’re sure that your opponent is in range, and try to fight side-to-side with him. Obviously, against PHR you’ll want to be in their frontal arc instead. Your main task is to not get caught under weapons free order – your ships will melt very quickly in such case. Most dangerous Shaltari and Scourge ships require WF order to function properly, if you manage to avoid that – you get the upper hand. Also, UCM can go weapons free on any target in 270* arc, so try to utilize that.
- Don’t try to catch enemy strike carriers in space – this is usually not worth it, hard to pull off and you might lose more than you gain. Wait until they drop to atmo and attack them with corvettes there.
- If you want to achieve second turn drop or bombardment of centre line clusters with Friscos/Madrids, you can go max thrust in first turn and hide behind solid debris fields within 14″ of target sector. You can do similar thing with Strike Carriers if you want to reach small clusters on turn 2 as well, just make sure to activate them first in next turn.
- General rule of a thumb for light units, is that you want to hide them behind obstacles until the end of the turn in which you’re able to open fire, and then activate them first in next round. This way you’ll be able to achieve at least two solid volleys before enemy focuses you.
- Don’t be afraid of moving troopships or bombardment vessels out of their target cluster, if they are under threat of massed enemy fire. It’s better to lose one or two turns of bomb/drop but keep your ship than loose it in one round of shooting.
- When approaching clusters in first turn, try to go in such way that next turn you’ll be able to choose between several potential clusters. This would force your opponent to guess where to send his forces to counter you. It’s especially useful with Madrids, since you want opponent to commit his drop assets to the cluster you are about to bombard. Your opponent can counter this by keeping his strike carriers in small group and holding their activation, but you force him to go earlier if you have something that can engage his carriers from distance. A small group of Toulons can be especially useful for this.
- If you are sending your bombers for a strike, combine them to hit one target, especially if it is beyond immediate strike distance. Bomber strength will be reduced by obstacles, enemy manoeuvres and PD, so the more you send the higher chance there’ll be to deal damage. Against any healthy target above frigate size, just send all your launch assets – it’s better to overkill than to risk another round of shooting.
Well, this concludes our lengthy introduction into UCM. Hopefully this read was useful to you, and feel free to discuss this topic in FB group or on official Hawk forums – it’s always interesting to hear other commanders’ thoughts on our tactics.