Ships of the ISA

Karhedron

Mongoose
The Interstallar Alliance (or The Hammer and Anvil)
The ISA has one of the most advanced fleet's in the game and is probably the most trait-heavy too. The ships fall into 2 distinct categories, the fast hammer ship with most of their weapons in the Forward arc (Blue Stars, White Stars and Gunships) and the slow anvil ships with all-round guns (Victories, Carriers, Tara'Lins and Nolo'Tars). Although it should be noted that even the Anvil units are faster and more manouvrable than the equivelents in many other fleets.

It is not necessary to have both types of ship in a fleet. Particularly in smaller games, a perfectly good fleet can be constructed purely from hammer ships. These ships work best when used en-masse. Identify your opponent's weakest arc and use your speed and manouvrabilty to come in from that direction and hammer him. Sweep though his fleet and do a sharp U-turn to hammer him from the opposite side and keep repeating until his fleet is a floating mass of wreckage.

In practice it is never that easy. Firstly you must be careful to avoid becoming caught in the middle of the enemy fleet. White stars are tough but not that tough. Try to keep them together and on one side of the enemy formation. Speed can be as effective a weapon as a Neutron laser if used well and denying fire arcs to your opponent critical. This is particularly important against brawler fleets like Narn and EA who like to sail into the middle of an enemy formation and open up with all weapon arcs at once.

On the other side there are other races who can nearly keep with the ISA such as Drazi, Centauri wolf packs and to some extent Vree and the First ones. Keeping fast ships like Vorchans and fighters off the tails of your White Stars is a challenge and this is where your anvil ships often have a role to play. Tough and with multiple file arcs, they can usually provide rear cover your your white stars while often still hitting the enemy with their longer ranged guns. It is hard to imagine a fleet composed purely of anvil ships as most are War or Armageddon level (except perhaps the Nolo'tar) but they do add serious resiliance to a fleet and can effectively cover many of it's blind spots.

Fighters are particularly problematic for the ISA as most of their hammer ships have poor anti-fighter and no rear or side weapons. This means that without some defence, enemy fighters can attack with impunity. The simplest option is take some fighters of your own and the ISA is almost spoiled for choice in this area (see below). If you don't want to dilute the hitting power of your hammer ships, a more complex option is to arrange the ships so that they cover the ones in front. Most White Stars have accurate weapons and so can clear fighters off the backs of their partners if so arranged. This is not always easy to arrange though and can leave the rear ships out of range of their primary targets. Blue Stars can work well in this role, especially in larger battles where your opponent may tend to ignore them as they lack the firepower to seriously harm larger ships.

Once option is to take allies with e-mine weaponry to help clear enemy fighters (more on this later). This is a good option but be careful to fire well clear of you own ships as e-mines will negate the dodge that you own ships rely on for protection.

Lastly, it is worth giving consideration to fighters of your own. White Stars are already very tough and adding a fighter or 2 to each one to provide pseudo-interceptors can make them even tougher. They can also provide protection against accurate weapons which would otherwise negate their Dodge trait. I will look at this in more detail later.

Campaigns
The ISA is particularly strong in Campaigns where the Self-repair Trait on the White Stars means you will not have to spend many points on repairs between games. Also the +1 bonus to CQ scores means you will need fewer dice to boost your CQ. This will allow you more rolls on the various tables. One thing to remember is to try and keep your ships alive rather than letting damaged ships go down in a blaze of glory. With their speed, even running a white star off the table edge is a useful way to exit the battle.


Auxiliary Craft:
The ISA is somewhat spoiled when it comes to fighters have access to both EA and Minbari designs as well as their own home-grown Whitestar fighters. To my mind, only the EA designs are worth buying as separate flights. The Minbari and WS fighters are too expensive to be bought on their own although those carried onboard your ships are a worthwhile bonus.

Aurora Starfury
The same as the EA version, this is an economical dogfighter. While outshone by Nials, Shials and WS Fighters, you get twice as many bases for a patrol point and remain a worthwhile choice, particularly if you have a Fleet Carrier in the list to boost their dogfight and help recycle them. They work best protecting your white stars from enemy fighters and acting as interceptors against non-beam weapons.


Thunderbolt Starfury
A decent bomber, this design is best against races with few or poor fighters of their own. Most importantly, the range of their missiles allows them to attack capital ships from outside Anti-fighter range. This can be particularly useful for whittling down enemy Interceptors as a preulde to opening up with more deadly molecular pulsar fire.

Nial
Curiously, this fighter has worse armour than it's equivelent in the Minbari fleet-list (although this has been rectified in PnP). A superb dog-fighter it excels at dealing with enemy fighters. It's stealth and high dodge value make it almost invulnerable to long-range fire. Watch out for anti-fighter and Energy Mines though as they will negate both traits. Also beware of engaging enemy fighters near Escorts. Probably not worth buying in separate flights but the ones carried aboard the White Star 2s will make a useful addition to you fleet and are best used to keep enemy fighters off the tails of your Capital ships.

Shial
Similar to the Nial but trading one point of AD for an extra point of stealth. Treat them as a Nial-variant as the same basic comments apply.

Minbari Flyers
I struggle to find a use for these. They are numerous and very good defensively but mediocre dog-fighters. They are also vulnerable to Anti-fighter like the Nials if they try to attack enemy capital ships.

White Star Fighters
The dog-fighting ability of a Nial, the toughness of a Thunderbolt, the firepower of a bluestar and the cost of a small planet. If you want to use these fighters, they work best in numbers and that usually means buying a White Star carrier. This will help maximise your investment by boosting their dogfight and recycling them when things do not go their way.

If dealing with enemy fighters the best tactic is often not to engage at all but shoot them from close range with those accurate molecular pulsars. In order for this tactic to work reliably though, you will really need the Command boost provided by a Tara'Lin or Victory to ensure you have the initiative and can force the enemy to move first. This means that they are really most useful in very large games where you can afford to bring multiple battle-level ships to the fray.

Patrol
Blue Star
A lovely little ship with enough firepower to hurt the enemy and enough defensive traits to keep alive a decent time. Even though the current rules have spelt the end of the "Blue Star jump-point-bomb-of-doom" fleet they are still a very worthwhile addition to your fleet. In low priority games you can make the bulk of your fleet up from them and even in larger games it is worth bringing a handful along. They make good initiative sinks and will often be ignored over high-priority targets. Used defensively they can run behind your larger ships to cover their rear arcs from fighters with their accurate guns. Offensively they are best used en-masse. Try not to split them up as your enemy will be happy to pop shots at them from his own rear arcs if you give him the opportunity. Safety in numbers is the key as you do not want to put ships in more of your opponent's arcs than you can help (see above).

Skirmish
Nolo'Tar Frigate
A useful ship with a decent set of stats. Its turretted fusion cannons also mean it is one of the few ISA ships that can cover it's own back. It is the only Escort in the ISA fleet and on paper looks like a good antidote to fighters harassing the rear of your White Stars. The problem with this is that it is slower and less manouvrable than the White Stars meaning you will have to spend much of your time running to keep up. If you are playing defensively you can castle your ships up around the Nolo'Tars to some extent but that dilutes the speed and manouvrabilty of the fleet. My advice is to use them as a flexible ship and treat the Escort trait as a bonus if it works sometimes. Trying to use it to provide reliable anti-fighter for your White Stars will just hamper them more than it helps.

Liandra Battle Frigate
On paper it looks like a variant of the Nolo'Tar trading Escort and Anti-fighter for Scout and a point of armour for heavier weapons. It can make an interesting flag-ship for Patrol and Skirmish games.

Raid
White Star
The signature ship of the fleet and pretty strong for a Raid level ship. The PnP updates tones it down slightly by moderating the range of the neutron laser but it is still a good ship. The Scout trait is very useful for providing rerolls for all those attack dice since the ISA does not have many twin-linked guns. These will probably be the core of your fleet in any game of Raid level and above. Cluster your fast ships together as described above and attack your enemy from one direction to deny him multiple fire arcs. Just remember to have something to cover your tail from fighters.

White Star 2
As above but trading Scout and 1" of speed for a flight of Nials. It is a pretty even trade and depends largely upon personal preferences and the amount of fighters provided by the rest of your fleet. I normally field a roughly even mix of WS 1s and 2s. Against stealth-heavy opponent's like Minbari, stick to the original White Star.

Battle
White Star Gunship
This ship has very nearly the stats of 2 White stars stuck together. In most cases I would rather field 2 White stars than this ship unless playing with PnP where the longer effective range of the gunship brings it close to parity. The other case where it can be useful is in very high priority games where splitting the points down will not get you twice as many White Stars as guships. The White Star fighters it carries are handy, particularly if you also have a WS carrier in your fleet to buff them.

War
Tara'Lin
An interesting variant of a Sharlin, this is a very useful ship indeed. Some players could be forgiven for looking at the forward neutron laser's modest 4AD and concluding that the Tara'Lin is a nerfed version of the regular Sharlin. Nothing could be further from the truth. With it's all-round firepower, it is more apt to compare it to the Sharoos and suddenly you start to realise the strengths of this vessel. Compared to the Sharoos it has -2AD to the fore and aft neutron lasers but otherwise identical stats.

Given that the ISA list is brimming with Neutron lasers from Raid-level upwards, this is not too much of a hindrance so let's look at what we get over a Sharoos in return for those 2ADs. First and foremost you get a whopping +3 Command bonus. The ISA only has an initiative of 2+ so this bonus really is huge and helps to get the most out of the rest of your fleet. This is closely followed by 4 flights of Shials and a flight of flyers to protect those White Stars.

If you want a flagship without going to cost of a Victory then the Tara'Lin is it!

White Star Carrier
A bit of an oddball ship, it seems to straddle the line between hammers and anvils. It has the firepower of a WS Gunship (at slightly better range) and broadside weapons as well but still a blind arc to the rear. It is a fleet carrier which is always useful but unlike most other Fleet Carriers it does not provide a command bonus. The real teeth of this ship are the fighters it carries, unfortunately you really a command bonus to get the best out of them.

For this reason I think the Carrier is not as useful as the Tara'Lin and I would really only take one in very large games where I had already had a Tara'Lin or Victory to provide a Command bonus. It is slightly better in campaign games due to the Self-repair.

Armageddon
Victory-class Destroyer
A misclassed ship in my oppinion due to JMS's persistent belief that Destoyers are larger than Cruisers. Nomenclature aside, the Victory is everything you could want in an Armageddon ship. Hugely tough, carrying a small fleet of fighters, bristling with guns and not shabby on the speed front either. Toss in a 3+ Command bonus and what more could you want?

Well maybe a little more punch from the forward neutron lasers. The main weaponry is slightly understated compared to the other Armageddon ships in the game. Arguably this is to compensate for the massive Lightning Cannon. The trouble is that the Lightning Cannon neuters the ship for 2 turns. In most caes you will cause more damage with 2 turns of conventional firing than with 1 shot from the Lightning Cannon. Delivering the occasional coup-de-grace near the end of the game is the most common use although there will always be the odd occasion where a particular target has to die abso-fragging-lutely now! ;)

Allies
As if it's own ships were not formidable enough, the ISA has the luxury of spending up to one point (or one battle point in campaign games) on ships from it's member races. The possibilities are vast, far too many for me to go through here. What I will do instead is to list the 2 ships that I feel offer the most to the ISA.

Minbari: Leshath Scout
Without doubt the finest Scout in the game. Not only does this ship ignore the normal 36" range on it's Scout trait but when reducing enemy stealth, it reduces it to just 1+! The benefits are bound to be situational but there is a lot to be said for having access to the best Scout in the game when you need it.

Gaim: Stueeka Carrier
This is without the best allied ship available to ISA. End of story!

No, seriously!

Alright, you want reasons?

OK, the reason this is the best allied ship for the ISA is that it single-handedly covers every weakness in the ISA list. Need fighter cover? This ship brings 24 bases of reasonable fighters to the fray as well as providing a Fleet Carrier bonus for all fighters in your fleet! As if that were not enough, it also sports 3 turretted e-mine weapons for further fighter clearance or Stealth-busting. If you are not facing a fighter-heavy opponent, put some fighters on your White Stars to act as interceptors and turn the rest into guided missiles. And as if all that were not enough you have 4 breaching pods full of the most deadly bio-engineered assault drones in the game. And all that for a Raid-level ship! :shock:

Oh and don't forget that in campaign games the Stuteeka will regenerate it's full compliment of 24 fighters between games without costing you a single RR point. :twisted:

The only possible excuse for not bringing one of these bad boys to every game at Raid-level or over is that the models are seriously hard to find now. :(
 
Hi

What do you think of the 2nd ed ISA Fleet Box? This gives you a 5 points battle fleet. I have the ISA Fleet Box plus some extra White Stars and Blue Stars.

I am not totally sold on the looks of the WS Gunship. I think I would prefer 4 White Stars instead of the 2 WS Gunships in games at battle level (I know in games of War level I can understand that worth taking WS Gunships because of the way that points are divided).

So at 5 points battle I would be looking at:
8 White Stars / WS2's
4 Blue Stars
either 2 more Blue Stars or 2 flights of WS Fighters

How does that sound?

Thanks

James
 

basaint

Mongoose
Well, yes if you play official events but its anyone choice outside of that. I actually prefer 2ed FAP structure.
 

Karhedron

Mongoose
Heads up folks, I have added a short section on allies too. 8)

wargame_insomniac said:
What do you think of the 2nd ed ISA Fleet Box? This gives you a 5 points battle fleet. I have the ISA Fleet Box plus some extra White Stars and Blue Stars.
Very good value. It contains all the really good stuff. You will only need to add to it really if you go to War level or above


wargame_insomniac said:
I am not totally sold on the looks of the WS Gunship. I think I would prefer 4 White Stars instead of the 2 WS Gunships in games at battle level (I know in games of War level I can understand that worth taking WS Gunships because of the way that points are divided).
You are right I generally prefer 2 WSs over a WSG until you get to the level where the 2:1 ratio breaks down. The model does not look as good as the original WS but it does not look as bad as most of the pics show IMHO. Mongoose used a shot where they forgot to stick the lower set of "wings" on the model. :roll: If finished properly it looks at least half-decent.


wargame_insomniac said:
So at 5 points battle I would be looking at:
8 White Stars / WS2's
4 Blue Stars
either 2 more Blue Stars or 2 flights of WS Fighters
For 2e that looks solid, in P&P you might be a bit out.

Personally I would be tempted to go for Starfuries over WS fighters since you get twice as many but YMMV. 8)
 

basaint

Mongoose
WI>
So at 5 points battle I would be looking at:
8 White Stars / WS2's
4 Blue Stars
either 2 more Blue Stars or 2 flights of WS Fighters
With that 'or' in there, he's short for 2ed (he's only got 6pts patrol-needs 2 more)
I think PnP he's ok

someone check us plz
 

Karhedron

Mongoose
Correct, in 2e a Battle point will buy you 8 Patrol ships/wings.

Rather than buying 8 Patrol ships, I would be tempted to 4 Patrol and 1 Raid. There are several decent Fleet Carriers at Raid level and this would provide you with fighters and bonuses. My personal preference would be the Stuteeka as outlined above but an Avenger would be decent enough.
 

Burger

Cosmic Mongoose
In both PnP and 2e you could get:
Point 1: 2 WS
Point 2: 2 WS
Point 3: 2 WS
Point 4: 1 WS, 1 skirmish, 2 BS
Point 5: 1 WS, 1 skirmish, 2 BS

That gives 8 WS, 4 BS, and 2 skirmish ships (Nolo'Tar, Liandra or some Gaim allies :twisted: ). Or if you just want WS and BS, each of points 4 and 5 can get you 1 WS and 3 BS (PnP) or 1 WS and 4 BS (2e).
 
Burger- thats exactly what I did. I have no ISA skirkmish ships and am not particularly taken with them. So using P&P I went for the option of one battle point giving me one raid and 3 patrol choices. (obviously do that twice and then 6 more raid choices for other 4 battle points).

It maximises the use of figures i already have, just leaving me with 1 spare bluestar and pair of WS Gunships for larger games or variety.

It will just leave with dilemna of how to pain those darned Whitestars. After my experience painting the Minbari i am not sure I ready for that yet.

Thanks

James
 

Stormrider

Mongoose
Also worth pointing out the Gaim carrier was heavily nerfed in P&P unless I'm missing something?

16 flights instead of 24
2 breaching pods instead of 4
AAF 6 to AF 6
loses flight computer and more importantly Fleet Carrier!!!
3 x 2AD turrets become 1 x 4AD turret

That's painful...

You can now only get a fleet carrier in Gaim at Battle or War level.
 

Greg Smith

Mongoose
wargame_insomniac said:
I am not totally sold on the looks of the WS Gunship. I think I would prefer 4 White Stars instead of the 2 WS Gunships

The WS gunships have 2 important advantages over WSs. The WS fighters, and the longer range beam.
 

AdrianH

Mongoose
A couple of the changes attributed above to P&P were actually publicised well before P&P. The ISA Nial's Hull was brought up to 4, in line with the normal Minbari one, in the FAQ. The entire Gaim fleet's new stats were first publicised in S&P 56.

The basic White Star has one advantage over the WS Gunship, namely the Scout trait. A White Star 2 has a Nial flight, not quite as nifty as a WS Fighter but still gives you some cover against enemy fighters. Pick your balance of WS and WS2 depending on how much fighter opposition you think you'll face. What the WS Gunship does give you is a Battle level ship, which is useful if you're using P&P FAP breakdown rules in a War level game. ;) And if you are using P&P, don't forget the WS Enforcer, which is basically an oversize WS - has Scout, doesn't have fighters.
 
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