The release of Corvettes for Dropfleet Commander saw an extra level of depth added to the game as effective atmospheric combat became an option. No longer could frigates lurk in the safety of atmosphere, nigh untouchable from attacks from higher orbital layers or other frigates. Hawk Andrew, US Operations, has thought deeply about their potential and has written an article to share his findings with you.
PHR Echo class corvette escorts a Medea frigate group.
Since I first got hold of Dropfleet Commander I have played around with multiple ship types, leaning towards Battlecruisers to inflict major amounts of damage and a balance of strike carriers and troopships to score the objectives. One thing however that I knew could swing battles in my favour was taking down my opponents strike carriers before they could launch too many troops, and for that I turned to the fragile yet super-fast corvettes!
Corvettes have a few things going for them as they are the fastest ships in their respective fleets, they can go into atmosphere chasing after those pesky frigates and they are pretty cheap to boot. The downsides are based mainly around the fact that it takes very little to destroy them. So, with that in mind here are a few thoughts to help you get the most out of your corvettes:
- Think carefully about the Battlegroups they are in. Do you want a group of 3-4 on their own so they get the drop on almost everything else in the game, or do you want them attached to a larger Battlegroup so you are moving more for the same activation?
- Make use of the 'double-tap'. By this I mean use a low Strategy Rating Battlegroup to take the last action of one turn and guarantee the first action of the next. Effectively getting 2 rounds of moving and shooting before anyone on the board can react!
- Have a plan. It sounds simple but rarely is. Do you want to dominate a flank? Just tip each cluster in your favour? I prefer sending the corvettes on a flank where I have a small number of drops to make. If I can keep the enemy at bay or better destroy them then I may win the cluster with just 1 frigate. That leaves all my other troop carriers to overwhelm the forces elsewhere.
- Avoid minimum sized groups. The benefit of being affordable is lost if the 1 or 2 ships you do take can’t push any damage through. 3-4 can be far more effective and still not cost too many points. Larger groups of 6 or even multiple groups together can be a fantastic scare tactic and they will destroy most frigates in front of them but it comes at a price…
- Be careful not to overcommit your group. It can be very tempting to get the drop on your opponent and race past the centre line destroying a strike frigate before they have activated. Try waiting a bit… Let them come to you, after all they must go for the clusters to score. If you let them get closer you will still be in the safer half of the table to take some shots before they get chance to drop anyway.
- Don't forget what the mission is. Sometimes, even if you know you will lose your corvettes the next turn you must target the enemy strike frigates. Keeping yourself alive until the last few turns is a secondary consideration to stopping the enemy from dropping assets before the scoring turns.
A group of Nickar class corvettes range ahead of the encroaching Scourge fleet.
Santiagos are a good all-round corvette. At 22 points each you can afford to have them in groups of at least 4. Any less than that and they struggle to kill frigates in one go. A swarm of 6 is a real threat, a threat which if wielded well can distract the enemy away from the strongest of plans to chase after them.
Nickars are also 22 points each. The key to these guys is their 16” thrust value combined with a D6 close action weapon. The enemy will not know how big a threat they are until it’s too late. Even 2 of them left in group can take a frigate down if they get some luck. Just be careful of their tissue thin armour.
At 30 points the Echo is the most expensive corvette by far. But it is almost as tough as most other faction’s frigates. The good armour and the extra scan range make them hard to deal with easily. They are slow by corvette standards but this is more than made up for with the extra guns.
As the name suggests the Glass break easily, but at just 18 points each you can afford to have them in large groups. Their 5 dice close action weapons will make a mockery of most things they target. Don’t forget their main prey of strike frigates and enemy corvettes will have very low PD to save them!