Tactics in Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock [Part One]24 Aug 2017 2
We’re a week out from the launch of Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock, the upcoming simultaneous turn-based space tactics game from Slitherine Ltd & Star Hammer's Black Lab Games. Set during the First Cylon War (as imagined by the 2004 TV Show), you are put in charge of the fledgling Colonial Fleet as you try and hold back the tide of an all-out Cylon invasion of the Twelve Colonies.
We’ve been playing the game’s beta since it dropped a few weeks ago, and we’ve been very impressed with what we’ve played so far. If there’s one thing Black Labs does well it’s their combat engine and as the bread-and-butter of a game like Deadlock, it’s comforting to see the time and effort going into those systems.
When (if) you buy the game a week from now, you’re going to be thrust into the heart of the action pretty much from the get go. A lot of things will take some getting used to, especially at the campaign level, but we figured it might be useful to pen a Quick-Start guide to some of the tactics of the game, so at least you know what you’re doing there. In Part One, we will be going over some general principles and concepts integral to the strategies you need to employ. All information is correct as of Version 1.0.
Fighters are King
As of the current build of the game, fighters are generally quite powerful. Two/three squadrons of Vipers can tear through the armour of most ships, and can also do a scary amount of hull damage. In fact, a legitimate tactic could be to simply hold off at a distance while you let your fighters take things out one-by-one, although the game is generally more rewarding the more you get involved. Cylon raiders are generally weaker than Vipers, although if you leave them alone they will still do some damage to your fleet before being taken out.
While every ship can attack fighters (with the lighter guns being more effective than heavier weaponry), there’s no designated ‘Anti-Fighter’ ship class within the make-up of either the Colonial Fleet, nor the Cylon forces (which you can choose to play as in either Skirmish or Multiplayer). This means you’ll want your own Squadrons attacking the enemy squadrons first, before moving on to the ships themselves.
Once the enemy fighter screen is clear, there are a couple of different strategies you can pursue:
- Attack the smaller/weaker ships first.
- Go after ships that have retreated to the back line.
- Pick off enemy ships that your main fleet has softened up, allowing you to focus on other targets.
Generally, you want all your squadrons attacking the same enemy for maximum effect, but even one squadron can prove deadly, given enough time.
Exception: On the Colonial side, The Artemis & Jupiter-class Battlestars have the ‘Flak’ ability, which allows them to put up a Flak screen either on their left or right side. Not only is this an effective anti-missile tactic, it also destroys fighter squadrons in seconds. Note that It can also hit your own squadrons, so use with caution (and the fighters launched from this ships will be silly enough to fly back to their mothership, regardless if it means certain death).
Quantity vs. Quality
It’s important to learn as soon as you can that Deadlock is, more or less, a numbers game. The more ships you have, the better. There are a lot of factors within this given the range of ship-types available, but from play-testing so far things seem to be skewed towards favouring large formations of lighter ships, than smaller formations of heavier capital ships.
On the Colonial side, apart from the introductory missions, you don’t get access to Jupiter-class Battlestars until late in the campaign. Prior to that, your main flagship of choice is probably going to be the Artemis-class which is a smaller, weaker version of the iconic ship.
These two vessels can pack quite a punch on their own, but they’re more vulnerable than you may initially appreciate. A dedicated flotilla of Nemesis ships (see part 2) can hack either of these vessels into oblivion. If you don’t protect against fighters, they will eventually chew through the armour and into the hull, and even some of the lighter ships like Talons (a low-tier Cylon carrier vessel similar to the Colonial Adamant-class) will do a lot of damage very quickly in larger numbers.
Don’t get seduced by the fact that it’s a Battlestar – always support your capital ships with smaller vessels. Regardless of the point limit you're working with, a fleet can have no more than seven ships contained within it. In Skirmish you simply choose which points limit you want (4000, 8000 etc...) while in the campaign you have Fleet Officers who can 'level up' and increase the point cap of the fleet they command. If you're working with a lower cap, favour multiple smaller ships. With the larger caps, by all means tag a Battlestar but make sure it's got back-up.
Posture, Weapon Placement & Facing
Every ship has a different array of weapon load-outs – most of the larger ships can fire in several directions across their various weapon points, but certain ships, like the Manticore-class or the Adamant-class, are more limited to fixed avenues of attack. Attack vectors goes beyond simply what side of the ship a weapon is on, however. Deadlock is a fully 3D tactical environment, with up/down also being a factor that you need to consider.
For example, on Minotaur-class vessels, the Port/Starboard areas are lined with a row of guns. But these sit atop the chassis and are not built in to these sections of the ship – that means these weapons can only target opponents either side of them at an elevated angle, or above them. They can’t shoot at targets below. As a result, you’ll want Minotaurs to be slightly under their intended target so they can fire to maximum effect.
Every ship will have concerns like this, and it's important to learn where all the guns are on a specific class so that you can then determine the optimum angle of attack that brings the most amount of weaponry to bear.
Coupled with this is a feature called ‘Posture’ – you set this ship by ship, and it is a slider that goes either towards Attack or Defence. Moving it up either track reduces your manoeuvrability, and then depending which side you go will buff/debuff specific groupings of sub-systems. Obviously, going full ATK will increase your firepower and accuracy, but will diminish your ability to resist hacking, for example, and vice versa.
You’ll want to carefully manage when you move into these various stances, but generally going full ATK and trying to get kills as quickly as possible is a workable strategy, switching only into high DEF when a ship is specifically being targeted by the enemy. Given what we’ve said above, the less ships standing that can fire back, the better, so going in for the kill quickly is advised.
In the Part Two, we take these general principles and apply them to some strategies that should see you through the early campaign. Battlestar Galactic Deadlock will release on PC & Steam on August 31st, 2017. This article covers a game developed and/or published by members of the Slitherine Group. For more information, please consult the About Us page.