The quite excellent @NationOfLee asked me on Twitter this evening what I’d do to start a fleet for the incredibly awesome Battlefleet Gothic. As some of you read a day or so ago, I have an unbridled fondness for this game in just about every way you can for a tabletop wargame. The game is awesome, the models are awesome, the tactics are awesome. Generally, it’s awesome.
So what, I have been asked, should one consider when starting a Gothic fleet? Well, certain rules are pretty universal the first and foremost is, as with my post about collecting a Warhammer 40,000 army, you have to love the models. You have to look at the ships that will form the bulk of your fleet – Imperial Cruisers for example – and you have to get lost in the possibilities not just from the modelling and painting side of things but what it must be like to be aboard a kilometre long ship of war destined to sail into the void to face who knows what.
You have to love the models.
Next it’s probably advisable to establish a maximum fleet size. I didn’t do this and now I have a fleet so vast that I struggle to find an opponent with a fleet big enough I can use everything. Then again, thanks to the Games Workshop relegating Specialist Games to third world status I generally struggle to find an opponent at all.
But anyway, deciding the size of your fleet will help you focus and decide what you really want rather than succumbing to the impish voice in your head that screams ‘I want fucking everything!’ Okay, maybe not an impish voice…
After that the Galaxy is your oyster. I recommend studying the fleet lists thoroughly as seemingly pathetic escorts, when grouped together, can become the bane of even a battleship. They’re also a heck of a lot cheaper than cruisers. Sure they’ll die but you’ll make your points back and then some, providing you’re not foolish with them.
My approach to fleet building works on a simple principle which is one of narrative. If a small task force had been deployed what would it consist of? A battle cruiser, a lance equipped ship, a weapons battery equipped ship and something with fighter bays. And mucho torpedoes (I’m an Imperial player after all). Throw in a few Cobras and a couple of frigates and that’s an effective fighting force. Now, let’s expand upon that principle. A fleet is broken down into battle groups and task forces that are scattered across a region for patrol missions etc. So when the galactic shit hits the interstellar fan those groups are recalled back into the fleet. So essentially it becomes a case of replicating this principle, mixing it up a bit so a unit with Dauntless Light Cruisers for raider patrols etc.
The point is that a fleet needs to feel like a cohesive fighting force. You need to be able to look at your fleet and feel confident that all your bases are covered. Battleships need CAP (combat air patrol) and escort support. Cruisers need to work in concert to compensate short comings and vulnerabilities.
And finally, a word on tactics. You also have to be utterly fearless when it comes to Gothic or any space based game. Naval warfare is all about holding your nerve. Send out the first wave or torpedoes and hold fast. Don’t break, don’t blink, don’t hesitate because once the bastards are amongst you it’s the decisions you made long before you built your ships that will decide the outcome.