ast week, I had the opportunity to face Traders for the first time. Mad Mac scratch built an entire Trader Fleet, mostly by kit-bashing old Terran models. Most impressively, he scratch-built a Trader Reformer Class Battlestation, which looks exactly like the old renders for the Supermax Prison.
We played a simple Border Clash, with terrain somewhat haphazardly placed on the table around a large central debris field... which would eventually become my bane. Mad Mac wanted to play a 1000 point fleet, so he could try every Trader unit. I used my normal Dindrenzi Core of a Praetorian, Heavy Cruisers, and two Frigate Squadrons. Because I'd be facing an unkillable Dreadnought... I mean a Battlestation, I also brought a Battlecruiser Squadron.
Here are some photos after deployment. I placed the Battlecruisers and both Frigate squadrons in Reserve, Mad Mac placed his Carrier Squadron with Cruisers in Reserve.
I tried to take advantage of the Trader Cruiser Squadron placement, and destroyed 1 and almost destroyed a second one. Going into Turn 2, my Battlecruisers decided to show up... too early. What I should have done is brought them in with the rest of the fleet on my right side. Instead, I brought them in on the opposite side of the board, near the Battlestation and both Trader Frigate Squadrons.
The Traders had initiative Turn 2, so I advised Mad Mac hide his Cruisers in the central Debris Field. With Torpedos as main weapons, and a LOT of CP for their class, Traders have very little risk for staying within a Debris Field. In addition, with large Squadron size and high PD, they are generally good at shooting down enemy Torps as well.
Basically, all my Direct firepower was now useless.
The Trader Reserves arrived, and I was now in a very bad spot, with Carriers behind my Praetorian, and my Battlecruisers surrounded. Every Activation was tense, and I took a lot of damage this Turn while inflicting very little damage. Fortunately, my Battlecruisers barely survived Turn 3.
Knowing they would not survive the game, I made the most of it and dropped two Mines. One enveloped the Cruiser Squadron hiding in the Debris, the other engulfed a Frigate Squadron. Also, I realized it was imperative to kill the Cruisers in the Carrier Squadron so my busted Praetorian could FSD Escape. Turn 4 saw the death of my Battlecruisers and a Heavy Cruiser (Carrier Bombers, Primaries, and Torps all inflicted Crits for a one Activation kill), while I killed 5-6 Frigates and 4 Cruisers.
Game End Analysis
Not much else happened at the end of the game. The Battlestation was able to kill a Frigate, but not before I finally killed his last Frigate and Cruiser. My Heavy Cruiser and the Trader Carriers spiraled towards each other, ineffective. The final score was 2/5 to the Traders.
Unsurpisingly, the Dreadnought mislabeled as a Battlestation (ALWAYS Upgrade it to a 6" move) is a real beast. With 3 Shields, I was never able to get a Crit, and many large dice pools barely even inflicted a point of damage. While the 5 damage I inflicted didn't give me Battlelog, they did degrade its firepower from a max of 2x12 or 1x18 to a more survivable 2x7 or 1x10.
The Carrier Squadron has an insane amount of offense, but it quickly degrades as Bombers take damage and it loses the Cruiser Accompanyments.
The Cruiser Squadron didn't have a chance to do much, other than get shot... but with 4/6, maybe 1 Shield, and 3HP, they are very squishy. I suggest placing them in Reserve when possible, so they can have one turn with maximum firepower (2x9 or 1x15 plus 15AD Torps).
The Frigates are annoying with high CP, PD, and Squadron size 6... but they're fairly limited with only Torps to 24". Granted, 14-17AD Torps is potent, but one Token can shut that down. If you can find a handy Debris Field to hide them in, they can be a serious problem for your opponent.
As for the Battlecruisers... I need more practice with them. Generally, I need to discipline myself and only enter from the short board edge. With no PD and only Direct FF firepower, they are pretty limited, but potent.
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014