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Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 4:29 am
by Cry of the Wind
So I posted a fairly long reply to someone here regarding why I think they can leave their Lima at home and use other frigates in its place. Most of what follows is a cut and paste from that post and is applicable to any UCM list. I have seen many people swear by the Lima as the saviour of the UCM faction and my personal feeling is that this is a lie. UCM is the cheap everything faction not just the Active Scan Burnthrough faction. As a UCM Admiral first and foremost my experience is that we have more ships for cheaper able to do almost as much as our alien opponents (those PHR scum can't claim to be human anymore) and we don't need tricks to win. The Lima is a valuable tool in our box but not the be all and end all of UCM fleet design.

So onto my real purpose. Lets look at the common triple New Cairo/Saratoga Battlegroup.

What Orders will you need with a New Cairo/Saratoga Battlegroup? Will a Saratoga ever want to Weapons Free? No, it doesn't have multiple guns to shoot. So what will it do? Turn 1 you may think about going Max Thrust but if you do that you cannot shoot so a Lima spiking doesn't help this turn. In response the enemy may activate that group first and remove that spike before you giant SR16 unit can fire. Now you've wasted the Lima spike completely and your ships are spiked and closer to the enemy. Doesn't sound too good.

What is more likely to happen is going Standard or Silent running on turn 1. Will a single Lima spike help with either of those orders? Standard no since you could issue an Active Scan order as the Saratoga will be going standard anyway. For Silent Running again same problem as the Max Thrust. You cannot shoot to benefit and your target will likely clear the spike before you shoot.

Ok lets get to turn 2/3. What orders are the Saratoga likely to take? Well they are going to want to shoot so that knocks out Max Thrust and Silent Running. It's early in the game still so your target is probably not on top of you so there is Station Keeping not required. Course Change is a possible desire but if your target is more than 45 degrees away your deployment is questionable in my opinion (you should have an idea of what you want 3 Cobras to point at when you are making your first couple moves!). So what are we left with...Standard and Active Scan. Well if that is the case what good is a Lima doing that a Jakarata/New Orleans can't already? If a Saratoga has a shot lined up it can Active Scan as well as the Jakarata to get a major if needed and if not the Saratoga on Standard while the Jakarta Active Scans is the exact same result as using a Lima but for 5pts cheaper and giving a boost to the PD of the Saratoga Group at the same time! If you wanted 2 Lima well again that's where you take 1 Jakarta and 1 New Orleans, now the 2 frigates make separate Active Scans while the Saratoga go Standard and fire with a major spike boost.

OK so now we hit turn 3-5 and somehow our Saratoga/New Cairo haven't been killed yet. What good will the Lima be doing now? You might say that you need Course Change as your order for the Battlegroup since the initial target(s) is(are) dead. Very right but now we are entering mid game. Most targets are going to be near the middle (which is why you need Course Change to get to them) and they have been doing their own orders for a few turns now. What this means is that you probably don't even need a spike to hit them anymore and if so they may have spiked themselves. Again making the Lima redundant while a Jakarta could still provide PD help and a New Orleans would be free to help any Cluster you need an extra tank on.

The Avalon/Perth is a little different since it has decent Weapons Free firepower to add. However I find more often than not it won't be in a position to do so early game as most people don't leave ships parked in front of a Viper if there is any chance the laser will have range to fire. So 90% of the time it follows the same rules as the Saratoga/New Cairo will, and on the happy day you can Weapons Free for full effect again there is likely already a target saturated environment midfield that has other spikes generated already (or you just lose a pot shot with on side battery which is on 4 4+ dice so nothing to be too sad on losing).

To end this lets look at the Moscow/Atlantis and maybe a Beijing/Tokyo. There are some ships that want to Weapons Free all the time to get the most out of all those guns they paid for. With huge arcs of fire they don't need to turn really as your first move will like be on the table lined up to where they want to end up and maybe dropping to Low Orbit if needed. From turn 2 (maybe later for a Tokyo) on wards they want to fire away as much as possible to reduce fire coming back at them/your fleet. Chances are they will need spikes to hit targets that early in the game. This is where the Lima shines. Now I have 2 Lima on Active Scan while there is a Moscow or 2 firing on Weapons free. Getting a volley like that off on turn 2 can be devastating just as much as not being able to fire until turn 4 with no spike help will be for you.

The key lesson here is that in many cases unless you have good reason to (maybe limited L slots) you can replace a Lima with a Jakarta or a New Orleans (or both for a pair of Limas) and will gain much more for your fleet at a cheaper cost. So hopefully at the end of this Lima tacitca you can see why they are not always required and where you can get the most out of these interesting frigates.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 7:49 am
by Lordprinceps
Very good post, and it's interesting to see thought that's such a departure from normal convention for the developing game, and I'm personally taking a good chunk of this into account for my future games! The one thing I did want to bring up, however, is a major advantage of the Lima that you forgot.

The Lima has Outlier.

It can sit at the backend of the field, for the ENTIRE game, or if you don't want to incur a strategy penalty, staying as far back behind their battlegroup as possible; a full 12" at minimum, and maybe more from any active threat depending on how you spread out the battlegroup.

Jakartas need to move with their battlegroup to stay useful, and as such that constant major spike from active scanning will quickly make them targets that can easily be taken out.
Likewise for the New Orleans; they're mission critical ships and are likely to be fired upon with a major spike, and seeing as how they can't active scan while in atmosphere, nor can they move into atmosphere while active scanning, using them for that purpose puts them in immense danger.

Lima's have the unique advantage of being perfectly able to hang as far back as they'd like without impacting their mission.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 9:50 am
by Orchaldor
I agree with Cry that the Lima is not always the best choice for spike generation, taking into account points cost and what the ship provides mid-game once spikes are less of an issue.

A "Weapons Free group" is indeed where they are most likely to shine, as no other ship in the game can Active Scan while its battlegroup is on a different order (which will often be the case for the heavyweight ships that need WF to justify their points cost).

That said, Lordprinceps is right to consider the value of Outlier, although the rule is better than he states - there is no penalty to Strategy Rating for an Outlier that is out of Battlegroup coherency. It must stick with the ships of its own Group (i.e. another Lima, if you bought a pair of them in one group), but is free to ignore the rest of the Battlegroup.

This basically means that you can keep your Limas safely out of the way (perhaps contributing to claiming backfield Critical Locations), fulfilling their mission without being overexposed to enemy fire.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:50 pm
by Nobody
One consideration I have is the idea of threatening a turn 2 major spike, especially on ships that'll need or want to spike then such as troopships, WF boats, or ships looking to course change, in order to dictate their behavior.

That said I've been looking at swapping Limas for Jakartas in my lists since Limas go down in value later in the game.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 3:07 pm
by Cry of the Wind
The back table camper is one of the good things for the Lima. However the New Orleans is even better for that job because of the drop ability and ability to hide in atmosphere after the need for spikes has passed. Remember this New Orleans is not a mission critical ship. You replaced a Lima with it, a ship that was never intended to drop anything. So it can sit in back and score critical locations just as well with the added bonus that it has the option to drop a tank later on and was cheaper in points! If the enemy wants to waste their fast strike units going after a New Orleans that you never intended to drop with in the first place then your real New Orleans will have an easier time which is another bonus for this ship instead of a Lima.

The Jakarta can also do this as well since the only penalty you'll get is 1 higher SR. Well on a group with SR16 or SR17 that one extra SR won't really matter. You still are under 20 so will get to shoot first on those twin heavy cruiser battlegroups. Of course if you picked the Jakarata then you likely wanted the extra PD anyway or you are using both Jakarta and New Orleans so the NO can take the back field while it goes up.

Now all of this talk isn't to say that Limas are a bad choice. Just not an automatic one when there are cheaper and more flexible options in the roster. There will always be those times when having a Lima instead of one of the others will make a bigger difference. I just think that unless you have an actual plan and reason for needing the Lima it should not be an auto include as most UCM players seem to think.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 8:21 am
by J.D. Welch
With this discussion in mind, I leave you this 1,500 point list, a variation of the one I took to our last Dropfleet tournament (one in the 3-way tie for 3rd Place):

UCM 1500 - 04-310 - 1497pts
UCM - 0 launch assets

SR20 Vanguard battlegroup (371pts)
1 x Avalon - 195pts - H
   + UCM Commodore (40pts, 3AV)
2 x New Cairo - 176pts - M

SR12 Line battlegroup (279pts)
2 x Berlin - 210pts - M
1 x Lima - 37pts - L
1 x Jakarta - 32pts - L

SR8 Line battlegroup (207pts)
1 x San Francisco - 111pts - M
1 x Jakarta - 32pts - L
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L

SR14 Line battlegroup (256pts)
2 x Madrid - 158pts - M
1 x Jakarta - 32pts - L
3 x Santiago - 66pts - L

SR6 Pathfinder battlegroup (152pts)
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
2 x Santiago - 44pts - L
2 x Santiago - 44pts - L

SR6 Pathfinder battlegroup (192pts)
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
2 x New Orleans - 64pts - L
------------- -------------

I swapped one Lima for a Jakarta in the Berlin's BG. One Lima can still be useful, and the Jakarta can roam wherever he pleases for a mere +1 SR to his BG, and can also Active Scan if the Berlin's don't need to Course Change.

Then I dropped one San Fran in favor of two New Orleans, another Jakarta (to run with the Madrids), and 1 more Santiago, giving me a 4x and a 3x Santiago hit teams.

I just don't find the San Fran a satisfying ship to take, and taking two together at the last event just meant that my opponent knew where to concentrate his firepower. If I take 2 in the future, I'll pair each of them up with a Madrid, a pair of which are also bullet magnets, so splitting them up and putting one San Fran with a Madrid (and a Jakarta) should cause my opponent to make hard decisions about which of those two BGs to go after.


Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 6:11 pm
by Cry of the Wind
While I was hoping to keep this about tactics for using or not using Lima's rather than be yet another fleet list critque thread this list does give some examples of how/when you need them.

First off you don't have the points for making that Jakarta into a Lima and nothing will really benefit from the 5pts you'd save for switching the Lima to a New Orleans. So in this case there isn't much harm in leaving that group as it is.

The Avalon/New Cairo group is an example of a place where the Lima could shine again. Since you only have 1 L slot in that Battlegroup you cannot get a Major Spike unless you use a pair of Limas (as the F(N) guns will want to Standard Order most likely not Active Scan themselves). This list doesn't use them there but if you are using this kind of Battlegroup on turn 1 you may need those 2 spikes to get the most of it. I'm guessing that this list expects this group to come on turn 2 at the earliest in missions where the whole fleet is not going on turn 1 so it isn't a big deal but if you want them turn 1 to kill anything consider the Lima pair.

The Jakaratas spread throughout this fleet may also get some chances to Active Scan as well. If they were Lima's they wouldn't add much to their Battlegroup but as a Jakarta they can boost the PD while operating in Battlegroups that will rarely go off Standard Orders. So here is another example of how to get some spikes without the Lima being needed.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 3:07 am
by J.D. Welch
Thanks, but I wasn't looking for a critique, I was leaving that list as an example to illustrate your earlier points. ;)

I'm planning on using this list this Friday. Just need to get two New Orleans, one Jakarta and one Santiago built. I should be able to do that after work and before my opponent shows up.

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 3:13 am
by Cry of the Wind
I see how you mean that on second read but it had a lot of non Lima talk which made it sound like your asking opinions on the list not the tactics :)

That said my other comments stand as examples of how you can both ignore and yet still find use for Limas in the same list. It is a great example for this concept!

Re: Leaving the Lima Crutch

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:53 am
by J.D. Welch

Yeah, was looking for opinions, but not necessarily a critique of how to use the Jakartas in place of Limas -- a fuzzy distinction, I guess, upon re-reading my post myself. LOL. :D