Welcome to Part 2 of my explanation blog! Today we’re looking at the experimental changes to UCM and Scourge.
- Siphon Power: Change to; When the St Petersburg fires a single Burn-through Laser, you may choose to add one additional Attack dice. If you do this, the weapon also gains Bloom until the end of the turn.
The St Petersburg was always one of those ships that, on the surface, looked amazing. Two Burn-Through Lasers? And one’s on its head, like some kind of deadly space-unicorn? That ship must be awesome!! Then we began playing with it, and we quickly realised that it was nigh-on impossible to go Weapons Free with two Front (N) weapons, as it was just so, so easy for your opponent to avoid that. The previous version of Siphon Power was a much-needed step in the right direction, increasing the Burn-Through cap to (8) when you only fired one of the Cobra lasers. Some players began to dabble with taking it, but it just didn’t quite give the St Pete enough of a boost.
We have reduced the cap back to (6), but went for giving the St Pete an extra Attack dice for the cost of Bloom when one Laser is fired. This makes the St Pete play like a more reliable, slightly slower and tougher Berlin, much more likely to hit that sweet Critical Hit run of dice on a Burn-Through roll, and more likely to reach the cap (6) for hits or crits. It of course comes with the penalty of taking a Minor Spike. We felt this added more tactical layers of choice, and hopefully incentivises UCM players to try the St Pete as a cheaper version of the Avalon/ Perth, with more reliable damage output than a Berlin or New Cairo.
- Linked UF-4200s: All UCM ships with two or more UF-4200 weapon profiles gain Linked-1 for those weapon profiles.
UF-4200s are the secondary weapon of choice for many UCM ships. Unfortunately, having a low number of Attacks and only Lock 4+ meant that these weapons were very situational. The San Francisco in particular relies on its ‘42s, as apart from CAW, they are its only offensive weapons. And San Frans are extremely unlikely to go Weapons Free just to gain two extra Lock 4+ shots! Berlins occasionally have need to use their ‘42s, if the opponent is hiding out of range of the Front (N) arc, and the New York especially feels toothless as a Battleship as it can only fire four Lock 4+ shots when you put aside its Launch capability.
Giving all 42s Linked-1 made a lot of sense and is an easy change to make. The main beneficiaries are the Berlin, the San Francisco and the New York, the latter two of which are the most in need of some boosting.
- San Francisco: Change Barracuda Missile Bays (Attack 2) to Shark Missile Bays (Attack D6+1).
More love for the San Frans! UCM players in our group have regularly bemoaned the ineffectiveness of San Franciscos (I always point out that Scourge players suck it up with Chimeras being way more fragile, but hey-ho), so they get a special rules boost all to themselves! For some reason, the San Francisco only had the same CAW profile as the Frigates. Buffing them up to the same CAW profile as all other Cruisers makes them more effective at snipping out enemy Frigates that are getting a bit too close (if they roll well for number of Attacks). It’s unlikely that UCM players will be putting two San Franciscos in the same Battlegroup, so there’s little chance of them being used inappropriately as aggressive CAW groups. Trying to use a San Francisco to attack an enemy cruiser with CAW is still unlikely to get past the superior Point Defence, just as it should be.
- Santiago: Stingray Missile Bays gain Calibre (L).
Back when the game was in its early stages, there were rules for Corvettes, but not models. As we played the game without Corvettes, we quickly realised Strike Carriers were really hard to remove once they were safely ensconced in Atmosphere! Corvettes made a big difference when we first started using them, but we also quickly realised Santiagos were a little underwhelming at the job they were supposed to be designed for. Three Santiagos have nine 4+ Lock CAW shots, which isn’t quite enough to comfortably account for a Strike Carrier a turn, something three Corvettes really should be able to.
Giving them Calibre (L) works well on a couple of levels. It specialises the Santiagos for their actual job: destroying Strike Carriers and other Frigates, as well as duelling enemy Corvettes. It doesn’t make them any better at attacking Cruisers and ships of larger tonnage, which they would be if we raised the number of Attacks, or lowered their Lock to 3+. With Calibre (L), players could gamble on taking just two Santiagos as a small Group attached to other Strike Carriers, and have a half chance of crippling Strike Carriers. Taking three becomes much more a guarantee of success. Boosting Santiagos also helps to counter any prevalence of Strike Carrier spam.
- Corruptor: If a ship suffers critical hit damage from at least one torpedo with the Corruptor special rule, after resolving all damage, roll a number of dice equal to the remaining hull value of the targeted ship. For every 4+ rolled, the ship suffers a Fire crippling result.
If a ship is crippled by a failed roll to repair these Fires, it cannot attempt to repair the new crippling result until the following turn’s damage repair phase.
Corruptor is for me a classic case of a fantastic idea executed poorly. I’ve been discussing on Facebook the idea of Torpedoes that do interesting and unique things (creating debris fields, area damage, Electro-Magnetic Charges, etc), and the Corruptor is kind of that, but with a specific Scourge twist. Previously, the Scourge torpedo was weaker in damage (4) compared to its counterparts, but had an additional, fluffy rule. Scourge torpedoes carry suspended racks of Razorworms, and if the torpedoes got critical hits on a target, they released Razorworms into the ship, leaving them free to tear into the helpless crew, destroying critical systems, chasing the Admiral around the bridge and generally spreading their particular breed of Scourge nastiness. Fantastically evocative!
Unfortunately, Torpedoes only had half a chance of registering critical damage, and the chances of Corruptor having a meaningful effect on the game were depressingly low. Now, as torpedoes always critical, if your Corruptor torpedo hits, it’s time to rock and roll. We also upped the impact of Corruptor to immediate, so you don’t have to remember to check and roll it every Damage Repair phase. I think changing the rule to rolling 4+ to create Fires for each remaining hull point represents the fluff of the Razorworms better: they would have a high destructive impact at first on the ship, but would slowly be killed and hunted down, meaning their effect would lessen over time.
I’ve tested this a few times in games now, and Corruptor feels threatening again, just as it should be! Hopefully it will make the Dragon and Manticore slightly more attractive choices. The Dragon in gameplay with these rules feels threatening, but not as much as a Diamond is immediately threatening. Just as it should be, seeing as the Diamond is 35 points more.
- Scald: Scald only reduces the armour save of the target if both the firing ship and the target are in the same layer.
Scald is a fantastic rule for Scourge. Imagine ferocious Scourge ships bearing down on you, firing rapid plasma burst, the pummelling strikes tearing through armour and overloading shields as the range is closed. Thus, armour saves are reduced by 1 when in Scan range. This is all very well, but Scald still worked even if you were in a different layer to the opposing ship… even though that ship was dozens of kilometres above/ below your Scourge ship.
So we went for removing the effect of Scald if the layers of firer and target are different. This has the added bonus of slightly reducing some of the more popular ships among Scourge players, like Basilisks and Djinn, which like to get up close and kill. This rule is open to debate and the opinion of the community, as we have had some feedback that it isn’t really necessary, so we may take this away from the final version of the experimental errata. To be honest using Scald on a ship in a different layer is quite situational and unlikely to be game-changing, so for my point of view it may as well be there, as it will not come up that often, and makes sense in the physical battle, given the description of Scald as only working when the ships are close together.
- Furnace Cannons: Change both Alt weapon profiles to Damage 2.
Rarely seen on the competitive scene, the Scourge Burn-Through Laser is an odd beast. It has two fire modes: Lock 4+, Attack 4, Cap 8, Scald; or Lock 2+, Attack 1, Cap 4, Scald and Flash. So the wide pattern is potentially more destructive but unpredictable, while the focussed pattern will do a small amount of damage more reliably and add a spike. I have always found both versions a bit underwhelming, and the community seems to agree, as rarely do we see the ships that use them: Ifrit, Raiju, Dragon, Daemon. Rolling four dice needing 4+ to hit always seemed like a big gamble that never paid off, as the laser tended to do a couple of hits before disappointingly petering out. Both versions are inferior to the UCM Lock 3+, Attack 2, Cap 6 and Flash.
So I did some dice-rolling, testing out moving both versions to Damage 2. In this way you are much more likely to actually reach that cap of (8), as each hit will become two hits immediately, and each crit becomes two crits. With this amendment you tend to average out at about 6 hits and 2 crits filling up the cap (8). This seems much better to me, but not overly destructive. Hopefully this will make the BTL-carrying Scourge ships make more appearances on the table-top, and give some competition to the Basilisk, Hydra and Djinn when players make their list choices.
- Nickar: Plasma Squall gains Calibre (L).
A similar story to the Santiago change here. This lets the Nickar hit on a 3+ against Corvettes and Frigates, specialising it for a certain job, but not giving it any bonuses against Cruiser classes and up. The Nickar of course still have the unpredictability of rolling D6 Attacks, which means Scourge players will probably want to direct two Nickar against a single Strike Carrier to return reliable odds of destroying it.
Thanks for reading. If you haven’t yet, take a read of Part 1. You can download the PDF of the RedWarSoc Experimental Rules Errata v1.21. Check back soon for Part 3, where we’ll be explaining our changes for the PHR and Shaltari.