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UCM ships and tactics

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UCM ships and tactics

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 8:12 pm

Today as guest on my blog Oleksiy Kirsenko – in complex tutorial about UCM battle fleet.

I take a look at what kind of ships you can build from that box, as well as provide some recommendations. You can view this document as a bit of a guide for new players just getting into the game, although I suppose some points might be interesting for more experienced UCM commanders as well.


Santiago-class Missile corvette. This is the only entry in Corvette-class ships in UCM fleet, and same goes for other factions. Santiago itself is a single-piece model which doesn't require any assembly - just cut out sprues on the front, glue in widget in the bottom hole and you’re good to go. I would suggest painting the ship before gluing the widget unless you're in a hurry to play - it's much easier to leave it transparent this way, but it's up to you.

As for tabletop, I like this ship very much. It's a solid, reliable and pretty cheap unit that provides a lot of tactical flexibility. They can hunt enemy strike carriers, protect your own against enemy corvettes, or even assault void ships when taken in sufficient numbers. Battlefleet box includes 3 of this ships, which is just enough to try their taste and see if you like them or not. In general, you need to have 3 corvettes shooting at a non-PHR frigate to take it down in one round, or 2 if you are firing at another corvette. Thus, if you take them, take at least 3 or don't bother at all.


This class of vessels is much wider, with 5 different ships available to UCM. You get a strike carrier, 2 support ships and 2 combat ships of different flavours. You can build up to 4 ships of one class from Battlefleet box, and up to 8 frigates in total. Let's take a look at what is available.

New Orleans-class Strike Carrier. This ship is a staple of UCM Reconquest fleets, and for good reason. It's one of only two ships that can get boots on the ground, and the only one that can drop tanks. In general, you want to have a healthy number of this ships in your list, regardless of its overall composition. So it's pretty much a no-brainer that 4 out of 8 possible frigates you should build as New Orleans. As for combat stats, 3 of the non-combat UCM frigates share same stat line, with one 4+ shot and two 4+ CAW attacks, making them one of the weakest ships in the game. However before you dismiss their firepower, remember that "maximum focus" mentality of UCM? Quite often, you'll find yourself in situation where you NEED to take those last 2 hit points off enemy Battleship. And in this case you will throw everything at it, literally EVERYTHING, including taking Strike Carriers from atmosphere. And you'll be surprised how often this anaemic single UF-2200 shot or 2 measly Barracuda torps plink off last HP from a mighty void ship.

Jakarta-class Aegis frigate. Jakarta is, currently, the only ship in game with in-built Aegis special rule, which allows it to add a Point Defence value of 6 to any ship on same orbital plane and within 4", including itself. This is a great ability, especially if you have more than one ship with this rule, since they stack together. Now, whether you need this or not depends on the enemy you are facing and your fleet composition, however it's still a cheapest frigate in UCM arsenal (together with New Orleans), which can be utilized in variety of ways - like holding critical locations, stations or scanning. I believe them to be most useful in fleet carrier battlegroups, where they can provide protection from inevitable bomber strikes or fast close action frigate incursions.

Lima-class SWACS frigate. This ship holds second (and last) rule which is currently unique to UCM - Detector. This rule allows it’s bearer to perform scanning order without usual restrictions - that only one ship in a group can scan and that other ships in battlegroup must follow standard orders. So, for example, you can put a pair of this ships in a battlegroup with two heavy cruisers, perform scanning with both frigates and go weapons free on heavy cruisers, all in one turn. This looks great on paper, however, in reality it's not that useful. Firstly, Detector, apart from lifting some restrictions of Active Scan order, does not improve actual scanning in any way. It's not going to detect stealth or silent running ships any better. So, unless you put it in a group that can actually benefit from both active scanning and other orders at the same time, Limas can be easily replaced with other frigates - like New Orleans or Jakarta. Secondly, this is the second most expensive UCM frigate. And unlike New Orleans or Jakarta, its special rule would benefit you only for 1-2 first turns. Finally, this ship is designed to build your strategy of first strike around it. Problem is, UCM is ill suited for this. Our ships are both slowest and have worst scan range in game. Achieving first strike is doable against Scourge, possible VS PHR and nigh-impossible against Shaltari. I wouldn't recommend this ship unless you know exactly what you are doing.

Toulon-class frigate. This is standard long-range gunboat of UCM. And "standard" for UCM means that it's not much to write home about. This frigate is armed with 3x UF-2200 mass driver turrets, which, like we already discussed, are the weakest guns in-game. However, due to their unthreatening nature and small signature size, this frigates will most likely be a low priority target for your opponent, and they will be able to plink away at enemy ships for most of the game. They also don't require weapons free order to use their full arsenal, so they can either scan for other ships, or just stay on standard orders to avoid detection. Also, they boast 270* firing arc on all their weapons, making them very manoeuvrable. There is a card in command deck that allows you to get three of this frigates for free, so it’s worth having them in your collection anyway.

Taipei-class Missile frigate. Now, this is an interesting ship. It's a close combat specialist, which was nicknamed "cruiser bruiser", and oh boy, was it rightly so! The sheer amount of firepower this tiny ship can unleash is staggering. While its missiles lack 3+ lock values of other close action ships or special rules like scald or microwave, the sheer volume of fire this frigates could put out makes them worthwhile. This ship is not an auto include though, as your fleet composition has to be compatible with it. Firstly, it’s slower than its Shaltari and Scourge counterparts, which is pretty critical for a CAW attack ship. Unlike Djinn, it can't hide in atmosphere, and unlike Amethyst, it has a scan range of only 6". Its effective threat range (move + attack) is only 16", which forces it to go dangerously close to the enemy before it can launch an attack. Thus, this ships can't be used like their alien counterparts - you can't just burn across the field as fast as you can towards the enemy. Caught in open field, this frigates will go pop like a box of firecrackers. Instead, Taipei should behave more like silent hunters, stalking their enemy and hiding behind obstacles until they can unleash their attack. If you can hide them behind a thick debris field and close to critical location, they can serve as great deterrent for the enemy. In general, this ships are hard to use, but very rewarding in case of success.

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