Klingon Tactics


A Klingon Tactical Primer
Or, everything I've learned about Klingon ships.

Ti'jey Har'batlh, IKS Khamlet

I. The Vessels of the Klingon Fleet

I have two particular opinions about Klingon ships. First, the Klingon fleet has no dramatic issues. There is a good reason to take nearly every ship, with the debatable exception of the [base model] D7 vs the D5.

A. The Thin Green Line: Battlecruisers of the Line

These vessels have in common the strength of their disruptor array (4), their maneuverability (Turn 4 Agile), their drone loadout (2 drones each), and their phaser array (3-5 phaser-1s available in F,P, and S arcs, and at least 4 total secondary phasers distributed around the A, P, and S arcs). Their shields range from 18-20, they take 12-14 hull damage to cripple and an additional 6-8 to destroy, for a total of 38-42 hits to take down at once (more like 56-64 from the front arc), and they range from 150-200 points.

It is not strange for a Klingon fleet found in the field to be drawn entirely from this class of ships.

D6: The D7 minus a few things

What's good about the D6? The D6 has one overriding virtue: Being inexpensive. As an inexpensive vessel out of a class, it is the most efficient system for delivering disruptor fire in the Klingon fleet (outside the Klingon fleet, the Kzinti Light Cruiser also carries 4 disruptors for 150 points, and has superior arcs for them), and tied for second most efficient in terms of points paid per drones delivered in the Klingon fleet. Fielding a lot of D6s is optimizing your long-range firepower.

What's bad about the D6? It has the worst overall capabilities of any main-line Klingon ship. If you have 15 or more points remaining from your points cap, and a D6 in your fleet, you should have traded the D6 up for something better. And even aside from the point-filling factor, it lacks in phasers. The same points in D6s will bring fewer phasers to the board than other battlecruisers, and phasers are very useful.

D7: The standard Klingon battlecruiser. For ever and ever.

What's good about the D7? It adds a pair of turret-mounted phaser-2s and +2/1 damage points - that's one more damage before becoming crippled, and one more damage to destroy from crippled. The D7 has better phaser efficiency than the D6 or D5, and can put 5 phasers anywhere in the whole sweep of its front arc, which the D5 can't do. This means it's a slightly more efficient choice in terms of plasma defense, especially in groups or in an all-arcs furball.

What's bad about the D7? Twenty five points is a lot to pay for two turret-mounted phaser-2s and +2/1 damage. The biggest problem is that the D5 is cheaper by ten points. It's hard to justify taking the D7 over the D5; plasma defense is the main boost here. If the base D7 had ADD 2, and the D7 series had 20 instead of 18 shields, then you'd still have reasons to take D5s or D5Ws over D7s. The more I think about this, the worse the D7 looks - it's playable, but it doesn't feel like it's worth more than the D5.

D5: The "war era" discount Klingon battlecruiser.

What's good about the D5? It has 20 shields, allowing it to regenerate twice as much as the D6 and various D7s, and four phaser-1s, giving it superior offensive firepower. It also has an anti-drone rating of 2, which gives it critical survivability against Kzinti and drone-heavy Federation opponents. Also, it has front half arc disruptors, which means that you can cut a wider loop around your opponent while harassing them. It's a very sweet package.

What's bad about the D5? If you happen to be in a scenario where Labs score matters, it's not great, and it doesn't score high in overall phaser efficiency. The aft phasers have been downgraded to phaser-3s, which usually doesn't matter, but opponents can take advantage of that sometimes.

D5W: The upgraded D5

What's good about the D5W? It has everything - ten phasers, half-arc disruptors, anti-drone 2, 22 hull, 20 shields. It is, one for one, the best choice of standard battlecruiser in most situations.

What's bad about the D5W? Like the D5, it has a lousy Labs rating; and, point for point, delivers fewer disruptors and drones to the table than the other choices. The downside of the D5W is that you might not be able to afford as many of them. It's an expensive choice, in other words.

D7C: Command variant of the D7.

What's good about the D7C? It is an agile Turn 4 command vessel for only 205 points. As an upgrade of the D7, it is a solid value - command and an extra point of anti-drone rating and uprating its turret to phaser-1s? That's worth 30 points. Command variants are usually priced at least at +25 points. This is the only choice of command vessel that can keep up with the thin green line, and it does so admirably.

What's bad about the D7C? It still only has 18 shields, which limits its regeneration to 1d6 points of shields a turn. It's a fairly easy target to destroy, in other words, should your opponent focus on it (or if your opponent gets even one ship out of its front arc and in range), which means you must position it where it's less likely to be shot than your other battlecruisers. Also, while well-priced as a command vessel, command doesn't stack, and so multiple D7Cs is just not worth it in an engagement.

B. The Specialists: Battlecruisers off the Line

There are two particular unusual battlecruisers which, although clearly battlecruisers, don't fit the mold of the standard Klingon battlecruiser the way that the five standard battlecruisers do: The C7 and FD7. These do not share in the common set of uniform battlecruiser characteristics.

FD7: The FD7 is essentially a D7 that has traded two disruptors for two phasers, increased its anti-drone rating by 1, and added the characteristic Fast, for a net cost of +20 points. Because of errata to the D7, it has slightly different arcs for its secondary phaser array (which means that it lines up forward bores for alpha strikes with its secondary phasers). The question you should be asking is whether or not Fast and +1 ADD is worth 20 points. It very often is.

What's good about the FD7? Fast ships can move a blistering 21" using All Power to Engines. Since APE is a power-draining activity, you have the choice between firing a single weapons system and firing only phasers; the latter is generally good for the FD7, because it (as is generally the case with the fast cruisers) has uprated phaser armaments and light non-phaser armaments.

The FD7, unlike every other fast ship in the ACTA:SF rulebook, is also Agile. It would be a horrible Klingon battlecruiser if it were not agile, but this means that the FD7 is the single most mobile ship in the entire game, at least for now. It's a great pick for scenarios in which quickly crossing or exiting the board is important, such as "We come in peace / Shoot to kill," where you're collecting scattered objectives.

Also, since it carries the most phasers of anything short of the [non-agile] C7/C8, and has an anti-drone rating of 2, it is a solid ship for fending off drones with.

What's bad about the FD7? It doesn't have many disruptors. While it can fly circles around a Federation fleet, it can't cause a lot of damage at long range, and if you're not using its superior speed to full advantage, you're paying a hefty price for being fast.

C7: The C7 is supposedly built on the same basic hull as the D7 and D6, but feels and acts like a heavier ship.

What's good about the C7? It's a command ship. It has solid phaser firepower, even for its high points cost, and in spite of the cost of command, it remains even after the errata the most efficient drone delivery system in the Klingon fleet. If you want a command ship that will contribute its fair share of firepower, the C7 is your best choice of a command ship.

What's bad about the C7? Although it retains Turn 4, it is not agile. It has an anti-drone rating of only 1, which is disappointing for a war-era ship after we've seen the D5 and D5W. Its disruptor firepower is no better than a D5. Obviously, it would be extremely amazing, but the difficulty that even a Turn 4 non-agile ship has with keeping up with a highly mobile Klingon fleet is a reason to have reservations about taking the C7, and with the 30 point boost that this ship has received along with its command rating, you will probably not want to take more than one in your fleet.

C. The oddities: Things that are not battlecruisers.

Out of the ten Klingon ships in the ACTA:SF list, seven are battlecruisers. Three are strange unusual things other than battlecruisers. As such, I use them sparingly. They have clear although sometimes peculiar uses.

E4 and F5: These are both light ships with turn 3, and carry the shorter ranged 15" disruptors.

What's good about the frigates? The E4 at 75 points is the second-cheapest warship in the rulebook (just over the Tholian corvette), although there are cheaper civilian vessels. As such, it has some popularity as an initiative sink. The F5 at 100 points is significantly more expensive, but remains still less expensive than many other warships. They are actually surprisingly durable for their cost if you can point them facing the enemy, so using them as fire magnets is not a terrible idea. The presence of units significantly smaller than battlecruisers in the list also helps make sure you have a good "filler" unit to eat up that last slot that turned out not to be quite enough for one last D6.

What's bad about the frigates? They do not deliver more firepower per point than a battlecruiser, and the firepower that they do deliver is shorter-ranged. The 15" light disruptors are my least favorite weapons in the Klingon arsenal. Also, being Turn 3 Agile just doesn't help them that much compared to Turn 4 Agile competitors in the battlecruiser range; and in general, the fact that the enemy can make sure of a kill on them means that they may die in situations a battlecruiser would be able to live, regenerate its shields, and keep shooting for an extra turn or two.

C8: This is the dreadnought; the one truly heavy Klingon ship.

What's good about the C8? It's the single most powerful, and in particular single most durable, Klingon ship. In a protracted battle, it is the only Klingon ship able to regenerate 3d6 shields per turn, and it's really the only Klingon ship suitable for parking. It's a reasonable pick for missions in which there's a fixed objective that people will want to park next to, such as "Explore a Strange New World," or missions where you start with a single ship on the table, like Towering Inferno.

What's bad about the C8? It's Turn 6 and not agile. It cannot maneuver with the larger fleet. Frankly, it doesn't bring very good firepower for its points value; and its enormous pile of hull points is all too often undercut by the large number of critical hits it accumulates. The C8 just has not impressed me, as much as I like putting the model on the table - you have to be very careful about how you use it.

II. The use of the ships

A. A brief word on formations

Triangular formations, where your forward ships' AP and AS bores are lined up with your rearward ships' FP and FS bores, are good for defensive fire purposes for most Klingon ships due to the secondary weapons that are AP/AS/APS.

Offensively, if you find yourself in close range, it's sometimes worth lining up a FP or FS bore on an enemy (make sure the rest of the F arc is pointed towards the enemy fleet in general). Agility makes it easy to control your facing, which makes it very precious to Klingon ships. The FD7 has a shared forward bore with its phaser-2 mounts, which makes it different in this regard. The C7 can apply maximal firepower on any of the three forward-arc bores, which makes it flexible.

B. Movement: Use it!

The way to use Klingon battlecruisers is simple, but sometimes difficult. Although a brave warrior who fears nothing - otherwise, you would be hiding behind piles of shields and/or cloaking devices - you need to cautiously maintain your distance. Dance around the edge of the ring; you have a light punch but a very good reach.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, your heavy weapons are drones and disruptors, which are long range weapons. Thus, you are at an advantage at long ranges against plasma and photon torpedo based fleets, which is to say most of them. Second, you want to keep your forward arc facing the enemy, which is easier the farther away the enemy is - if your enemy isn't in your front arc, your ships are, point for point, the most fragile by a wide margin.

Specifically, Klingon ships are outgunned within 8". Since speed is generally 12", this means that any enemy ship with live torpedoes (or a very good phaser array) starting within 20" of a ship you have already moved this round has the ability to close to an advantageous position.

Since many enemies are not agile, flying past them and banking towards the rear is sometimes a good idea - you have aft/port and aft/starboard Phaser-2s and Phaser-3s for just these cases, so pay attention to how much rear firepower your opponent is packing. Fly away from the enemy, or at least tangent to them; fly past the enemy; or back up while boosting shields; or just keep scooting along the edge of the board. All are often good moves to make. Lunging toward an enemy to come to grips with it? Resist that temptation. It's generally a bad idea.

C. Defensive Fire and other special actions:

Intensify Defensive Fire is one of the few Special Actions that doesn't drain power. It also dramatically improves the number of drones and plasmas you can knock down on their way in. Remember those "useless" AP and AS phasers? Here's another time when they become useful. They're not only useful in shooting down enemy fire at yourself from those precious non-Front arcs, but even when your whole fleet has their whole fleet in front arcs, you can still use these phasers to help shoot down missiles! Remember, when providing friendly defensive fire, the arc used is the arc pointed at your own ship.

For example, if you have a line of three D6 cruisers, for example, in a 90 degree wedge pointed at the enemy, all with IDF active, any focused attack on one cruiser has to face 12-13 screening phasers instead of 3. Finally, remember, when allocating defensive fire in a heavy-fire situation where you know you don't have enough, prioritize flanks for defensive fire - enemies will try to take your shields down from outside the front arc. Deliberately taking a few hits on your front shields in order to save defensive fire for later is not always a bad idea for Klingons.

Also remember - this is easy to forget - that you can use your drones to shoot down enemy drones, one for one, including drones on ships that are supplying IDF. In the example above, the D6s can use all six of their drones to screen enemy drones.

If you know exactly what ship is going to be targeted, though, Boost Shields! (on D5/D5Ws, this is much better than on most Klingon ships), or Take Evasive Action! (particularly if you have Crew Quality 5-6 or XP dice in campaign play). Note that TEA requires you move less than 6", while BS is power draining.

The Overload Weapons! special action is one that you should be careful about using. Disruptors can be overloaded. Most likely, this is going to happen when you are deliberately sacrificing a ship, or your opponent just fired all his or her torpedoes (and thus is now low on short-ranged firepower), and it can turn the tables rather suddenly. An overload puts an extra expected 4.4-5.1 damage on the table.

This is the final wild card available to Klingons; I recommend using it as a reactive move. You shouldn't be planning on overloading disruptors as often as possible; you should instead overload disruptors when your opponent has created a situation that you can take advantage of. Klingon tactics do not revolve around charging straight at your enemy and overloading disruptors.

D. Devil in the details: Firing order

When an opponent is unharmed, and you don't expect to take down their shields in your current barrage, fire phasers first. This is because you might roll a lucky shield crit or dilithium crit, which will reduce enemy shields; phasers have a higher ratio of through-shield critical hits to shield damage.

If you expect to take down enemy shields, fire phasers after disruptors.

Drones should in general be fired last. This is because prior damage might impair your enemy's ability to shoot them down. However, if you know your opponent is not going to shoot them down, it's sometimes worth using drones to strip off the shields before firing phasers, especially if you think you have a good chance of crippling or destroying the target by the time you're done firing. Devastating +1 deals as many critical hits as Precise +1, and concentrates them better, but Precise +1 also deals more hull damage - 20% more, or 25% more against an Armoured target.
TJHairball said:
Lunging toward an enemy to come to grips with it? Resist that temptation. It's generally a bad idea.

I think this is one of the key things that people more familiar with Franchise Klingons may have to re-consider when it comes to SFU Klingons.

The Deep Space Fleet in the SFU is designed to operate almost like a force of Mongol horse archers; using their superior maneuver to whittle down their opponents before closing for a killer blow.

For people used to the portrayals in the Franchise post-1979, this might take time to get used to; but, if a player really wants to fly a bunch of hairy disruptor-slingers who feel right at home getting up close and personal, the Lyran Star Empire may be a more natural fit in game terms once they make it into ACtA:SF.
To be honest I think that is probably another sacred cow that needs slaying. If you have to keep explaining it...
It probably doesn't help that the rulebook says "Klingons have a very direct approach to combat" when introducing the reinforced forward shields. And that they carry disruptors, which can be overloaded to deal double damage within 6". If I had never seen Star Trek in my life, and had just read that Klingons had a very direct approach to combat, and that disruptors, their main weapons, are designed to be overloaded, I'd assume that I was supposed to drive my Klingons straight forward, overload disruptors, and go to town nose-to-nose. Which is, generally speaking, a bad idea.

"Mongol horse archers" is probably a good analogy, Nerroth, one that a lot of history buffs should be able to pick up on.

The soldiers of the Khans were not necessarily bad at close combat; like any cavalry force, in fact, they had a fair share of lances. But the "Set lances and CHARGE!" special action, while available to the Mongols, wasn't how they won battles (and would have been a terrible idea against heavily armored opponents); it was by controlling maneuver, position, and long-range firepower. The Mongols were lightly armored, but mobile.
TJHairball said:
C8: This is the dreadnought; the one truly heavy Klingon ship.
You only say that because you have not yet seen the B10 battleship. If any starship could have testosterone, this would be it.
Very good treatise on klingon tactics . I like the example of IDF SA on the D6s some thing I need to consider when I fight the furballs again :lol:
Davros1 said:
Very good treatise on klingon tactics . I like the example of IDF SA on the D6s some thing I need to consider when I fight the furballs again :lol:

Remember that IDF is a crew check. When you Absolutely, Positively need that line of D6s to make it two of them will fail leaving the third one to be Drone fodder :twisted:

Still its a good point with the numbers of side Phasers the Klingon’s have

I fully agree that it makes no sense for the Klingon’s to close with an enemy except in one case. If terrain creates some sort of bottleneck and the best way to get behind an enemy is to overrun them then do just that. From the front a Klingon takes far more damage than they can otherwise take.

You may (or will) lose a ship but the rest can then turn into the rear of the Feds or Gorn and play pin the tail on the donkey with Drones, Disruptors and Phasers. Make sure you go past a bit first though otherwise some heroic Fed type will pull of a HET.

This is going to be a rare case though and otherwise any Klingon captain that feels the need to charge into point blank range with Disruptors should, as has been mentioned, be sent as a Liaison officer to the other Furballs :lol:

Otherwise the Klingon’s need to be facing the enemy (or use the FH Disruptor arcs on the ships that have them) while the firing is going on. No reason why you have to be in front of the enemy. You can in fact go round them at a distance and make one final turn towards them with your last turn so they are in arc and facing the main shield. Then next turn use Agility and turn mode 4 to move away a bit and circle more then use the third turn to face in again.

The Klingon’s also have a significant advantage in that the bulk of them have 24" disruptors and 36" Drones. So you can spread your ships out a bit and still concentrate fire on a single enemy.

If your enemy stays in a tight group you are laughing, it’s when they split up and have ships getting behind parts of your fleet that the problems start. Learn to hate the Kzinti and Drone heavy Fed fleets for this reason, they can get behind you at silly ranges and hammer at the side and rear shields. :wink:
I honestly don't see how anyone else has a good time against a drone-heavy fleet except another drone-heavy fleet. Klingon ships fall between 60 points per drone to 100 points per drone (i.e., as good as it gets outside the Kzinti fleet, with the exception of the rather cheap and ridiculous DWD), generally have AD1-AD2, and have the best maneuverability of any fleet.

If Klingons struggle with a drone-heavy fleet - and I haven't actually played one yet, but it seems likely to me from looking at the numbers and looking at how important drones are in my matches against the Federation - then it means that drones need to be fixed, because massing drones is a strategy that works against just about everyone and is only countered by going drone-heavy yourself. The two options are Federation counter-drone madness or joining the Kzinti horde at that point.

Best advice I can offer at this point to a Klingon player running up against Kzinti: Against a drone-heavy fleet, you shouldn't take D6s (unless it's unavoidable) or base model D7s (seriously, both D7 variants have AD2, why doesn't the base model have it?). A C7, which is strong in drone-fu, is not a bad idea against a drone-heavy opponent, even if it's only AD1.

You're pretty much going to want to constantly IDF (Folks, remember that you can use your own drones to shoot down their drones with IDF), and if they scatter, you'll probably want to just take a number of hits on forward shields (possibly using your tractors on them - that way, you're guaranteed to use your tractors - but otherwise saving your resources for the flank hits you expect to come your way).
So; now that I've done some monkeying around looking at whether or not ships are under- or over- pointed, I find it worthwhile to go back over this and add a couple addenda.

1.) Now that I've run calculations showing that the dreadnought seems to be overpriced by about fifty points, it makes a great deal of sense that it's been a lackluster performer in my games. There are still situations where you would want to take it even for the official point value, like Towering Inferno, where you start with a single ship on the board - you want that single ship to be as powerful as possible - and even at a more accurate point value [say, 295 points], it's still something you should be cautious about taking.

2.) The calculations suggest the C7 heavy battlecruiser is underpointed by about twenty points, a quantity that means that at its pre-errata point value of 210 points, it was very good. I have generally been impressed with its firepower on the few occasions I've taken it, and this doesn't surprise me much. My only caveat is that it isn't agile, and I like agility. It's not quite as good a point value as the Kirov, but I've probably been underrating it. I probably should have taken this plus a frigate (or this and upgraded several of my battlecruisers) half the times I took a C8.

3.) The calculations agree with the very obvious point that the D7 seems slightly inferior to, rather than slightly superior to, the D5. I'm going to stick by my statement that the main reason you would want to take a D7 over a D5 is that you feel the extra anti-plasma defensive fire will be crucial. A D5 will typically be a better choice against Kzinti, Federation, Orion, Tholian, and fellow Klingon opponents, and you may still want to save the five points when fighting Gorn or Romulans.

4.) The calculations round to within 5 points of the official values otherwise, which is a good sign both for my calculations and for those official values.
Updated. Have a little more to say about overloading disruptors and adjusted the point value references to the new errata'd value of the D7 (it went back up to 175).
I don't know how I missed pointing this out, but the D5W has a front bore that's almost always better than its diagonal bore for offensive purposes. You get 6 phaser-1s; on the off-bore you get 4 phaser-1s, 2 phaser-2s, and 2 phaser-3s.
Greg Smith said:
Rerednaw said:
Something to add about timing weapons. Drones hit in the End Phase.

No. They don't.

Wow. I really have hit J. C. with a big stick. First he says centerlining isn't legal and now drones are end phase. I thought having a game with a playtester was a good idea :mrgreen:
Both of those rules were in earlier drafts of the playtest rules. Sounds as though he needs to have a read of the rulebook and make sure he's up to date. :mrgreen:
Rerednaw said:
Greg Smith said:
Rerednaw said:
Something to add about timing weapons. Drones hit in the End Phase.

No. They don't.

Wow. I really have hit J. C. with a big stick. First he says centerlining isn't legal and now drones are end phase. I thought having a game with a playtester was a good idea :mrgreen:

It may have been more helpful if he had been play testing ACTA-SF. :twisted: