December 2008



Are you flying a Federation ship? Federation ships have fewer drone racks than Klingons or Kzintis, so you need to pay attention to the drone game or it will eat your ships alive. Things get worse in multi-ship battles, where the drone advantage of the enemy ships escalates astronomically.

You are going to be forced to use your drones defensively most of the time. If the enemy does not launch on the first turn, take advantage of the opportunity to use your drones offensively. Sure, the enemy will probably destroy them, but that means weapons (of whatever sort) are not targeted on your ships. Count how many drones you can launch, divide by two (assume half of them won't get through), and multiply by 12 (warhead points per drone). Then compare the result to the box count of your possible targets, and pick one that you can cripple (one with about twice as many boxes, or three times as many victory points). Launch all of your drones targeted on this ship.

When your enemy launches drones at your ships, you cannot counter-launch until the next impulse. Use the time to count drones and analyze targets. You can have any of your ships launch counter-drones, and you can judiciously gamble that phasers, anti-drones, tractors, and shields will keep your ships undamaged. Whatever drones you have left, launch ALL of them at ONE of his frigates or destroyers.

In defending your ships which are targeted by enemy drones, analyze how the drones are spread out and what weapons you can use against them. A ship launching its own drone as a counter-weapon has a guaranteed kill against an incoming drone. Phasers have a high chance of a kill, as do anti-drones. The law of averages will usually kill the incoming drones, but leakers can be stopped by anti-drones or tractors or - at worst case - shields. If you are an SFB player, you need to learn some new realities very quickly. In Federation Commander, anti-drones can only be fired by the ship which is the target, and only on the impulse of impact. Anti-drones cannot protect other ships, and you cannot fire multiple shots at a single drone.

The enemy may treat your drones with disdain. (Why would he? They have the same twelve warhead points and four damage points as his own drones.) In this case you can teach him a lesson, even using more of your drones offensively. He will eventually wise up and target your drones, diverting some of his other weapons.

It must be noted that you, the Federation player, have a much better drone game at fleet scale, where your ships keep their single racks and the enemy ships lose half of their racks.