Ships of the ... EA (Third Age)

Democratus

Mongoose
Ships of the EA (Third Age)

Nothing is more iconic of the Babylon 5 universe than the ships of Earth Alliance. This Fleet represents an Earthforce reborn from the ashes of the Earth-Minbari war and battle tested in the fires of the EA Civil War.

This is a greatly different fleet from the Early Years, with much larger ships taking over the offensive burden and the Starfury fighter series truly coming into its own. It is also a fleet that is quickly learning and adapting to the nature of starship combat, with an inherent boost to initiative reflecting this experience and some of the best command vessels in space.

The Best Defense...
Earthforce believes in keeping its ships and crews safe. To this end they have installed interceptors on every ship in the fleet, from the venerable Hermes to the newest Warlock. Most ships also have Anti-Fighter as well, which is a good thing since there are no escorts. These defenses are needed as EA ships fight best with enemies on all quarters.

Top Gun
The Fleet has a real winner in the Starfury line of fighters. Knowing this they like to flood space with Auroras, Badgers, and Thunderbolts until superiority is guaranteed. All ships from Raid level up carry fighters and Earthforce boasts two fleet carriers. The fighter wings of Earthforce can be used as a support element or as a primary strike force.

Looks Like a Fish, Steers Like a Cow
Earth ships are notorious for being unwieldy and lumbering. Above Skirmish level only the Hyperion and Warlock lack the Lumbering trait. This encourages EA fleets to fly in mutually supporting formations to cover all angles because they will not be able to quickly change direction in response to a threat.

Crossing the T
Many EA ships have excellent secondary guns firing Port and Starboard. For some ships it is their primary arc of engagement. This is part tactical doctrine and part compensation for the generally poor maneuverability of Human ships. Thus EA fleets do best when they can come to close grips with the enemy and utilize as many arcs of fire as possible.

Twin Linking
In the Third Age the Fleet has moved away from plasma weapons in favor of pulse weaponry. Capital ships from the Nova up to the Warlock have Twin-Linked weapons as their broadsides batteries. This is largely a disadvantage as the same effect can be had from Scouts or CF orders and a different trait would "stack" with this. Keep in mind which ships are best targets for these batteries (low hull) and which are better left for laser duty.

EA Ships:
Earthforce ships are designed to be flexible enough to handle most situations. They are, excepting the specialist classes, balanced combat generalists.

Auxiliary Craft:
Breaching Pod
Earthforce uses the "agile" variety of Breaching Pod, thus it is less survivable against Anti-Fighter. If you plan on using these, be sure to pack them in numbers or attack a ship with no means of defense.

Badger Starfury
This is a good dual role fighter, with the Dogfighting capability of the Aurora combined with some of the long range fire of the Thunderbolt. The price it pays is in speed.

Aurora Starfury
The very symbol of Earthforce, the Aurora is an excellent fighter. It has high speed, a tough frame, and above average Dogfighting trait. When expecting enemy fighters, this is the one to take. Once all enemy fighters are gone, they can either go on the offense as mediocre attack craft or can serve as makeshift interceptors.

Thunderbolt Starfury
An excellent attack fighter. It has good speed, toughness, and a standoff weapon to engage beyond Anti-Fighter range. A bonus is the Atmospheric capability, which can be invaluable when assaulting a planet.

Patrol Ships:
In the Third Age, Earthforce has moved away from smaller ships and only has a single Patrol vessel remaining.

Hermes Transport
This is a decent ship at the patrol level. It has a missile rack to inflict the occasional critical hit and carries a flight of Starfuries. The pulse cannons exist so that this ship can operate under CBD while attacking with the missiles.

Skirmish Ships:
Again, here, we notice fewer ships than during the Early Years.

Artemis Heavy Frigate
This solid little ship carries an impressive punch for its size. The AP/DD guns that fire in all directions can be greatly enhanced with the assistance of a Scout (or a Concentrate Firepower! action for a single target). Consider it a "pocket Nova" and you can't go far wrong.

Hyperion Assault Cruiser
Being a stripped-down Hyperion, this is a very tough Skirmish ship. It lacks the beam weaponry of its big brother but still has a decent fore and broadside array with the help of Scouts or CF Action. The extra troops provide opportunities for capturing the occasional unlucky enemy.

Olympus Corvette
This ship's strength lies in its turret weapons, a long range missile rack and a railgun battery. I have found the missile rack lends itself well to special option missiles like the Anti-Fighter missile and the HARM missile. Otherwise the Olympus is middle of the road for defenses and maneuverability.

Oracle Scout Cruiser
This is one of my favorite scouts in the game. All its systems are designed to compliment its role. It is fast and maneuverable (for an EA ship), able to get out of harm's way quickly. It has a missile that allows it to stay at long range while contributing to the fight. And its secondary weapons are pathetic, further encouraging the ship to stay the heck away from combat. Defenses are above average with 3 Anti-Fighter, 2 Interceptors, and a bit of Stealth. The only real weakness is its poor hull rating.

Raid Ships:
Once the real strength of the EA fleet resided in this class. The Fleet has now changed its focus to larger, more capable ships. They only kept the most proven and essential Raid ships for this new age.

Avenger Heavy Carrier
The Avenger is a very similar ship to the Cenaturi Balvarin. It carries a large wing of fighters and also provides fleet carrier support for them. It is the smallest EA vessel with the Command trait. Like other specialty ships the Avenger is equipped to do its job and little else. Keep out of the thickest fighting but close enough to recover and repair fighter flights as needed. The ship is relatively tough so it is okay to take some risks with it if it serves the mission.

Explorer Survey Ship
The Explorer is either the largest scout or the smallest base in the galaxy. It is a command ship and a scout with an insane number of damage points, rolled up in a fragile hull. Most likely this ship will be stripped useless by criticals long before it is destroyed. Its compliment of fighters is a plus. The slow speed makes this ship more of a terrain feature than a mobile asset.

Hyperion Heavy Cruiser
The classic EA cruiser is still with us. It embodies the "jack of all trades" philosophy perfectly, making it the workhorse of the fleet. It has a good primary weapon in the heavy laser and decent all-around firepower once inside enemy formations. Interceptors, Anti-Fighter, and the Aurora flight provide good defense for a ship this size. The Hyperion is a solid performer that isn't outstanding in any one category but will always pull its own weight.

Nova Dreadnought
In the Third Age, this ship's bark is worse than its bite. As an Early Years ship it was quite impressive with its AP/DD guns. Scouts and CF actions could make a broadside from a Nova quite powerful. But the switch to TL has left it nowhere to go. While 14 AD looks impressive on paper it is really only good against weaker hulls. The fighter compliment is good and may even be enough to compensate, though it will take a couple of turns to get them all deployed.

Tantalus Assault Cruiser
A new addition to Earthforce, this is a solid assault ship on par with the T'Loth. Best used for planetary assault missions, though it has a fairly decent broadside.

Battle Ships:
Earthforce has come out swinging with its two entrants in this class.

Omega Destroyer
The Omega made the EA a force to be feared, even by the older powers. It stands up well in comparison with its primary opponents (G'Quan, Primus, Tinashi, etc.) and is among the strongest in the class. The powerful battle laser can wreak serious damage at range, and should be utilized for as long as possible. The broadside is less impressive though the mini beams will ignore the toughness of enemy hulls. Defensively, it is a monster with hull 6, 3 Interceptors, and 6(!) Anti-Fighter. Enemy fleets without beam weapons will have a difficult time dealing with the Omega. Once the enemy closes, don't forget the aft laser - something the Primus and G'Quan do not have.

Omega Pulse Destroyer
This is the ship that I believe the Nova was intended to be. It is tough as nails and sports a massive 20 AD broadside. Get this into the thick of the enemy and fire all weapons that bear. This ship is best used against enemies with weaker hulls and no active defenses. It can also devastate fighter wings that get too close.

War Ships:
These powerful ships will form the core of any significant task force. All of them are excellent choices for their chosen role.

Omega Command Destroyer
Like the Omega...only more and meaner. Once the enemy has closed range, look for opportunities to line up both fore and aft lasers. The unbeatable command rating will give a strong boost to initiative and the fighter wing is nearly the equal of an Avenger. It's hard to go wrong with with this ship in nearly any tactical situation.

Poseidon Super Carrier
When you absolutely, positively have to have space superiority...accept no substitutes. This ship brings a veritable swarm of the excellent Starfury fighters, along with fleet carrier support and the best command rating of any ship in the game. Don't be afraid to get in the mix with this ship. It has lots of damage points, superb active defenses and good broadsides at point blank range. Decide where you want to be when you deploy this beast, as it is only slightly more maneuverable than the Explorer.

Warlock Advanced Destroyer
The final word on long range firepower. While the Warlock can handle itself decently in close quarters it is best utilized at mid to long range where it can tear up enemy ships with its particle cannon and missiles. Load up Thunderbolts in the bays for even more stand-off offensive firepower. This is the only ship with a significant missile battery. If you know what you will be facing in battle, review all options to choose the optimal missile type.

Missile Substituations:
This isn't quite as important to Third Age fleets due to the decommissioning of the Sagittarius. Earthforce has three ships that can substitute their missile payload: Olympus, Oracle, and Warlock. And the two Skirmish ships have very few AD of missiles.

Standard Anti-Ship Missile
When you are in doubt about what you will be facing, this is an excellent choice. The traits of P/SAP mean that it has a good chance of inflicting critical hits, and the range allows a ship to do so while relatively safe from danger.

Flash Missile
This is the "middle ground" missile between heavy and standard. Use this against enemies with weaker hulls like the Vree, where the move from SAP to AP isn't as big a loss.

Fusion Missile
This turns any missile battery into a one-shot energy mine. I sometimes load them on Oracles when fighting against Minbari in order to get a single turn +2 bonus to break stealth (e-mine and scout channel). The Olympus can also make use of them for the same purpose. The single-shot limitation makes these a choice only for very specific situations.

Heavy Missile
This is useful in the special situation where damage is more important than criticals and the range is guaranteed to be close. Use these against Drazi (low damage points) or Abbai (to kill shields) or other enemies where these traits serve well.

Anti-Fighter Missile
This is essentially a 15" range Anti-Fighter weapon. I'm a big fan of mounting this missile on the Olympus since the craft will most likely be in the thick of things and will have opportunities to engage fighters at this range.

Long-Range Missile
The extra 10" of range afforded by this missile is generally not worth it, unless there is a special mission that changes the situation. I've seen it used in Blockade missions where the defender may have half its fleet on the far side of the board.

Multi-Warhead Missile
This weapon is of great use against enemies with Interceptors (Centauri, Gaim, other EA Fleets). They are particularly frustrating to the Centauri with their Guardian Array. I like to use this on the Oracle in order to give the single AD a better chance to pierce defenses and score a critical.

HARM Missile
This missile can occasionally turn the tide of a battle by rendering a key unit unable to fire on your own important ships. The Olympus is again a perfect ship for this system, as the low number of AD do not significantly impair their operation.

Special Actions:
Earthforce captains are trained to get the most out of their ships and their men. They know that the right order at the right moment can be the difference between victory and defeat.

All Hands on Deck!
Particularly large ships (Explorer, Poseidon, etc.) may find that criticals are far more dangerous to their operation than raw damage. In the course of a battle bringing several systems back on line can allow a ship to continue to fulfill its needed role.

All Power to Engines!
Ships of the fleet strive to come to grips with the enemy so they can use all bearing weapons. An extra turn spent closing with the enemy is an opportunity lost. If the opposing fleet doesn't have too many beam weapons at long range, you can rely on your interceptors to protect you while you close.

All Stop / All Stop And Pivot!
Some ships operate better at extreme range. These orders can keep you at range and help you bring weapons to bear against distant targets. Remember that this is a "free" order in the gravity well of a planet.

Close Blast Doors!
If you have only one weapon that can bear on an enemy this order can give you an edge in survival. It is most often used when engaging solely with the primary laser or missile system.

Come About!
Earthforce mounts powerful lasers on many ships, but they are always Boresight arc. This order can help get a weapon bearing on the enemy. Take care to know when this order is preferable to "Track That Target!", as they both have the same CQ roll.

Concentrate All Fire-power!
This order isn't as useful in the Third Age as it was in the Early Years. The switch to beams and twin-linked weapons has eliminated the need for CF orders. But ships with missiles and rail guns can still benefit from this.

Give me Ramming Speed!
EA is the fleet that made this order famous. It can allow you to hit a ship despite its stealth and to eliminate a threat before the Firing Phase. Know when this is a necessary evil and when it is just empty bravado.

Intensify Defensive Fire!
All EA ships have Interceptors and most have Anti-Fighter. There are times when this will save you more damage than CBD, depending on the types of weapons used against you. The Anti-Fighter capability of an Earth ship under this order is a terror to enemy fighter pilots.

Launch Breaching Pods and Shuttles!
EA ships tend to have average troops levels on their ships. But occasionally an opportunity will arise to capture a ship with few or no troops - or something will be silly enough to move slowly near a Tantalus. Keep an eye open for such an occasion. The GROPOs have to earn their pay, too!

Manuver to Shield Them!
Ships with good defenses for their class, such as the Hyperion Assault Cruiser, can put this to good use by running interference for larger or more important ships. Though it can be embarrassing to see an Omega hiding behind an Explorer for cover.

Run Silent!
Occasionally this is a good order for the Oracle scout. Terrain may also make this appropriate for some missions. Otherwise there are nearly always better thing to do than have your crew behave like the cast of "Das Boot".

Scarmble! Scramble!
Starfurys are some of the best fighters in space. Get them out there to do their duty. Some ships like the Nova and Omega need this order to effectively use their fighter compliment. Earlier is better unless the enemy has e-mines.

Track that Target!
This can be useful to get a Hyperion or Omega heavy laser to bear on a target. Know when it is preferable to "Come About!".
 

nightshade

Mongoose
These are very nice. Maybe I'll go back and collect them all into PDF form, if you don't mind? I'll post it somewhere when it's completed.

"... either the largest scout or the smallest base in the galaxy."

This got quite a chuckle out of me.
 

AdrianH

Mongoose
Earth's fighters are probably the best in terms of value for FAP. When playing Army of Light I have the choice of various races' fighters and pretty well always use EA fighters when I buy them independently.

EA's main weakness is also supposed to be one of its strengths - interceptors. Damage ratings are lower than those of ships of similar PL from some other races to balance out the effect of interceptors, but interceptors do nothing against beams, minibeams or e-mines.

The Olympus is a nice little ship to play with. A mixture of long, medium and short range, plus Earth's choice of missiles, makes it very versatile - it can lurk in the background as an init sink and lob the occasional missile, or it can close in to use railguns and maybe pulse cannons. And both its best weapons are turret arc, so it doesn't care where the enemy is so long as it's in range.

The Hyperion is one of the few ships to appear in all three EA fleet lists - the only thing that can replace a Hyperion is another Hyperion. Most ship which survived from Early Years to Third Age traded in all their plasma guns for pulse cannons but the Hyperion's forward arc got pulse cannons in addition to its plasma guns, making it possibly the only ship which actually gained firepower. Like the Omega it has fore and aft boresight lasers, but unlike the Omega it can make two turns, giving it a better chance of achieving a double boresight. It's also one of my favourite ships for appearance - shortly after I started playing ACTA I bought one purely for looks!

As I only have models of ships which appeared on screen, I miss out on some of the useful ships in the fleet. In particular, the only EA scout I can use is the Explorer, and very useful it is too. Low speed isn't a problem for a ship which probably wants to spend the whole battle hiding as far away from the combat as possible, preferably behind an asteroid field - speed 4 means it can stay there without needing to use "All Stop" all the time. On the other hand, if it does manage to get to the action, it's a wonderful ship for "Stand Down And Prepare To Be Boarded" because if it's still active, it probably has plenty of damage points to back up such a demand. Even more amusing, try to ram something. :) Scout, Command and half a dozen fighters - what's not to like?

The Omega has nice firepower but, with only 48 damage, is a bit fragile. Interceptors won't help it in a beam duel, neither will hull 6. Still, a 6AD long range beam is useful, for as long as it lasts.

The Warlock is definitely a long range specialist. Side pulse cannon batteries aren't much better than the Omega's, and it doesn't have the Omega's minibeams - or an aft laser.
 

TimoftheC2

Mongoose
wow, great post Democratus, especially as I just took delivery of my first B5 ships - EA Dawn of the Third Age as it happens :).

Very useful for me this one.

Tim
 

locarno24

Cosmic Mongoose
Well written, as ever. My one comment?


Once all enemy fighters are gone, they can either go on the offense as mediocre attack craft or can serve as makeshift interceptors.

Generally go on the offensive: their gun-power isn't bad - not discernably worse than the Frazi when you throw Twin-Linked into the mix - whereas adding one or two interceptors to ships that usually already have two or more interceptors of their own is pretty irrelevant.

The only time I'd use fighters to fly interceptor escort is if an important ship had lost its interceptors trait due to criticals, or else the AF environment was so utterly lethal that it'd be pointless sending them in. The most common occurence of the latter, though, is Minbari - so they still can't help as interceptors!
 

Democratus

Mongoose
You're right about that. In campaign play, you sometimes just have to let your fighters sit out of the battle alltogether because there is just nothing useful they can do. When playing a pick-up game, fighters that you brought on ships (so no VP loss) are expendible and easier to justify as extraneous interceptors or suicide attackers in a hostile AF environment.

As a frequent opponent of the EA it's generally my goal to give the Starfurys nothing important to do without taking undue risks.
 
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