STARFLEET COMMAND 2 Tactics Guide Version 0.2 (organisational update with a few new sections) What is the point of this guide? The Starfleet Command 2 manual provides an excellent tactical overview for each race. However, this overview is necessarily brief and assumes familiarity with the game. There are a couple of tactical guides for Starfleet Command 1, but none of them quite do what I'm trying do. The manual recommends that you make notes of successful/unsuccessful tactics as you play the game. This guide is, essentially, my notes. However, I welcome comments/criticisms (no flames, please) on email@example.com. You may also find me on-line under the names of PandaLord or GFL-I-Mediator. Ideally, I would like to develop this over time into a general tactical manual for SFC2, to serve as a guide for novice players and a source of ideas for veterans. If there is sufficient interest (ie mail me), I could set this up as a web site and include a forum for tactical discussions. Oh, and I must make it clear that at present this guide only really applies to the off-line portion of the game. The on-line game is very different as you are suddenly playing against real human beings with real battle plans and a real ability to work as a team. They will, during your early games, simply kill you as they simply killed me. Find a good partner, play 2-on-2 duels and STICK CLOSE TO YOUR WINGMAN (thanks go to GFL-I-KnightTime)! Further advice may follow if I get better at playing online. Index 1. Changelog 2. Introduction 2.1. Mindset 2.2. How it all began: the evolution of Energy Management 2.3. AI: the revolution of Energy Management 3. General 3.1. Winning the Game 3.2. Energy 3.3. Fighters 3.4. Pseudo-Fighters 3.5. Weapons 3.6. Shields 3.7. Electronic Warfare (ECM/ECCM) 3.8. Special Tactics 4. Federation 5. Gorn 6. Hydran 7. ISC 8. Klingon 9. Lyran 10. Mirak 11. Romulan 1. Changelog Version 0.1 Initial release 0.2 Added numbering Added initial section on Fusion Beams at 3.5.2 Added initial section on Missiles at 3.5.4 Added to the section on the ISC (7)now that I'm starting to play them properly Changes to general advice on Romulans (11) Expanded section on fighters Expanded section on Plasma Torpedoes 2. Introduction 2.1 Mindset The first piece of advice I would give to total novices (ie those who have played neither SFC1 nor SFB) is this: Starfleet Command 2 is a game of naval battles. It is not a top-down version of ... well, there are relatively few decent space combat games these days. Let's say Starlancer, or going back a little further, Wing Commander Prophecy or X-Wing: Alliance. This is a game of combat between capital ships, not starfighters. The scale is wholly different. To give another analogy, think of the battle at Endor. If this were Star Wars, we would be looking at the combat between the Corellian Frigates and Nebulon-Bs against Star Destroyers, rather than the X-wing versus Tie-Fighter duels (though those do play an important part in SFC2, especially for the Hydrans). In fact, since the game is two-dimensional, think combat between ship groups during World War II. This difference carries over into all aspects of gameplay. Although combat is in theory carried out at ludicrous speeds using high-tech weapons, the game as played deals with two (or more) ships, slowly jockeying for position, trying to stay out of range of the worst broadsides while being able to fire their own guns as often as possible. If you remember this fact, the style of the game will make far more sense and you will be more successful. 2.2 How it all began: the evolution of energy management The game is complex. It deals with use of shields, a wide variety of weapon systems, mines (standard or nuclear), tractor beams, cloaking devices, electronic warfare, transporters and boarding parties, shuttlecraft, fighters and PFs. Knowing how to use all of these is important. However, the single most important aspect of the game is the management of energy. Without energy you have almost no weapons, you can't reinforce your shields, can't use transporters or tractors. There is no point manouvering into an ideal position for an alpha strike if all your energy has been spent on shield reinforcement and engines and you cannot fire your weapons. A long, long, time ago, before some of you were born (the 1970s), there was a board game called Star Fleet Battles. It was designed to represent the kind of combat that fans saw in the Star Trek (Original Series) TV programme. It had everything - shields, weapons, the lot. And it had energy. In fact, the game was all about energy management, to such an extent that the plotting of each impulse was a complex task requiring you to juggle all the different power requirements of your ship in order to end up with the correct balance of speed, shield reinforcement and weapons available for firing. Then, over time, complexity was added. And the game was played by people all over America and, later, all over Europe (your humble author is a Brit). Amendments were made to the game and new 'modules' incorporating better ships, fighters, Pseudo- fighters, new races and the like were added. The game became very good, although it did perhaps suffer from an excess of rules and options. My next statement is controversial, and will doubtless lead to a great many flames, but I'll take the risk. Eventually, the game waned in popularity. People stopped buying it, so there were no new players. Then came Starfleet Command. A bizarre little company by the name of 14 Degrees East decided to do something radical. They took the board game and made it into a computer game. Some people cried "Boo!", thinking that translating the game to the computer would compromise its purity. Others cried "Hurrah", thinking that the computer would do the maths for them. 2.3 AI: the revolution of Energy Management What the little company that could, did, was far more radical. Instead of producing a safe, turn-based game that did the calculations for you and differed from the board game only in its pretty graphics, they made the whole thing real- time. This single change had far-reaching consequences. In particular, it was no longer possible for the player to calculate his energy requirements and allocation for each turn. This meant that the computer now had to do a large part of this work, it now had a system of priorities and allocated available energy to meet the player's requests according to its priorities. This meant that the player had a very different job to do. He had to plan ahead much more effectively and only request a reasonable amount of energy. Instead of sitting down and thinking: "My engines and warp drive provide a total of 16 points of energy. I shall charge weapon 'a' (which won't be ready till next turn), charge weapon 'b', move at speed 'c' and reinforce my front shield by 'd', which will leave 'e' points of energy free should I need them later in the turn" He now needed to think: "OK, there are 16 points of energy available. The computer is going to try to charge all weapons that are currently on-line, the current turn spped is 30 seconds per turn, I won't have weapon a available for another turn, but weapon b will be ready soon, the computer always tries to give me the speed I request, that will cost c energy, if I reinforce my front shield that will cost d energy and I should have e energy left over." In other words, he no longer has total control, which makes it far easier to request more energy than the engines can actually provide. The 2 points of energy that you have asked the computer to set aside for tractoring incoming missiles suddenly work very differently, as they may prevent the computer from allocating the energy you need to charge your disruptors for a final strike or, alternatively, if you've if you've set your energy priorities differently, they may simply not be available as the missiles hurtle in towards your already- weakened aft shield. Both situations are bad and it is therefore vital only to request the energy that you need. This, along with positioning and timing, is one of the three great skills required to win at SFC2. 3. General 3.1 Winning the game There are three primary skills required to win a game of SFC2: Positioning Timing Use of Energy The only way you can win the game (barring a few specialised scenarios) is by knocking down the enemy's shield and scoring enough internal damage to destroy his ship. Ideally, you should suffer no more than the minimum level of damage while doing this. How is this heroic act achieved? By balancing the three key elements, positioning, timing and energy 3.1.1 Positioning You must be in the right position to fire. You must fire against an enemy's weak shield while only presenting him with your strong shield. 3.1.2 Timing There is no point being in the right position at the wrong time. If you're not ready to fire yet, if your shield reinforcement hasn't come on line, if it's less than a turn since your phasers last fired, your damage potential will be lessened. Equally, it doesn't matter if your approach vector is perfect if you fire at range 4.01 rather than 3.99 and so reduce your damage. 3.1.3 Use of energy In order to time things correctly, you must make sensible use of the available energy. The weapons you want to fire must have enough energy to charge, there must be enough energy to achieve the shield reinforcement that will prevent you from taking serious damage, there must be enough energy to allow you to travel at the right speed to be in the right place at the right time ... energy is the key to the triangle and so merits further discussion. 3.2 Energy It is a given that unless you are commanding a Starbase (a respectable promotion for a starship captain, but not terribly interesting from the viewpoint of exploring the universe and getting into scraps), you will never have enough energy to do everything you want to (see How it All Began, above). You must always achieve a balance between the different systems which drain your engines. The most practical advice for a beginning player would be the following: if your speed is high, it is likely that you are not recharging your weapons at anything like an optimum rate. In fact, anything requiring more juice than a phaser may well not be recharging at all. 3.2.1 A little experiment Try the following. Take the basic Lyran ship (2 phaser-2s, 2 disruptors, 2 phaser-3s and an ESG). Get into a fight, preferably not with something that's going to destroy you on the first pass. Fire everything at your enemy. Then set your speed to 25. What is happening to your weapons? The phasers and ESG are probably recharging very slowly because both use a capacitor system. The disruptors, on the other hand, are not recharging at all. Occasionally the 'ready' bar will creep up slightly, but it will then probably drop back down again. Now set your speed to 10. Watch your disruptors race towards a full recharge (provided they are on 'normal' rather than 'overload'). In about one turn (30 seconds on the standard time setting), you are ready to fire again. Repeat the exercise, this time watching the 'energy' panel of the multi-function display in the top left very carefully. Play around with the priority settings, see which settings give you optimal performance for your ship. Do you want to prioritise your engines and ensure that your ship can always do any speed that you ask of it? Do you want to prioritise your weapons and ensure that they always recharge as quickly as possible, even if this means that sometimes your ship's acceleration is a little more sluggish than you'd like? Or is shield reinforcement top of your wish-list? Whatever your eventual strategy (which will almost certainly vary from ship to ship), you will want to spend some time playing around with settings and watching the energy panel to get a feel for the capabilities of different vessels. 3.3 Fighters Unfortnately, the manual does not list the different types of fighter and you're left simply assuming that more expensive = better. If anyone would like to submit a list of fighter types and armaments I'd be happy to include it. In the meantime, it's up to you to know the armaments of your fighters, and vary them. In many cases it will be better to have a couple of groups with close-attack weapons and one other that can attack from a greater distance. If a group has taken heavy damage, decide whether to leave it there to fight to the bitter end, or recall it. Remember that a lot of thetime you won't be in a convenient position to recall your fighters, but recalling it may well cause it to break off its attack, so not only will it be destoryed, it also won't be doing anything useful. DO NOT launch fighters on attack against ships armed with AMD. The results are most definitely not pretty and as a proud Hydran captain I have been caught out by this on a couple of occasions. This is perhaps an object lesson in why you should always use probes and know what an enemy ship is capable of before it gets anywhere near you. DO NOT recall fighters when there is a space mine directly between you and them. Again, this is not pretty. I've only seen it happen once, but that was enough. Surprisingly, the Federation has the best variety of fighter types. On the other hand, the Federation are not the Hydrans and most of their ships are not carriers... 3.4 Pseudo-fighters What a wonderful addition to the game. Anyone who has played Starfleet Battles will have bemoaned their absence from SFC1. Like fighters, they cost no energy to launch. Better still, they can provide the energy to recharge their own heavy weapons. Essentially, they are small, free-standing, armoured, zero-energy-cost cannons using a wide range of weaponry. However, they are not without their disadvantages, particularly in the campaign game. Firstly, while they do have shields, these are not overwhelmingly powerful. They will resist light phaser-fire, but if the enemy targets anything heavier on them he will quickly break through the shields and start causing internal damage. A couple of pseudo-fighters may bring down a small ship on their own, but don't launch them to keep a large ship off your back for an extended period and expect to get them all back. Also remember that it takes several seconds after launch for the pseudo- fighter's shields to come on line. I have, on more than one occasion, seen enemy ships take advantage of a PF's shield-less status to get in a couple of sneaky phaser shots. This means that if you are launching the PF's on your initial approach towards an enemy, it is best to launch them at a distance of 10 or more so that their shields are on-line before the enemy can do any significant damage. Let us consider the economics of the situation. The basic pseudo-fighter costs 110 prestige to replace. The loss of a PF+ is even more painful and will cost you most of the prestige gained during the encounter. Consider setting them to harass rather than attack, particularly when playing against a human enemy who will target them the minute you get too far away to pose a threat. Also, do remember to recall them for repair etc when their shields start to drop or if the enemy seems to be concentrating a little too much fire on them. When they are off-screen, watch their damage bars and call them back if anything is happening that you don't like. If you are feeling particularly protective, you may even wish to store them as targets in order to be able to obtain a quick update on their situation. Remember also that while pseudo-fighters are piloted quite intelligently, they are guided by the AI and are not privy to your tactical thinking. They will do their best, but their firepower is not directly under your control and may not be aimed as you would wish. Ultimately, however, a full complement of pseudo- fighters does allow you to attack from up to three directions at once and makes it much harder for the enemy to manoeuvre. Multiple ships armed with pseudo- fighters limit his opportunities even further. 3.5 Weapons 3.5.1 Expanding Sphere Generator The manual states that the delay between 'firing' the ESG and its actually coming on-line is short. This is more or less true, but if circumstances are appropriate to an offensive use of the ESG you are charging an enemy ship at speed 28, ready to ram them, do not activate the ESG at a range of 2 and expect it to be up in time for you to beat down the enemy's front shield. Worse still, don't fire it up as the Mirak ship launches 6 missiles from range 2 and hope that it's going to protect you. The activation delay is several seconds long, about five seconds on the standard game speed, so get a feel for when you should switch the ESG on. Be aware of the capacitor and range settings on your ESG. In particular, if you jump to another ship which has previously been controlled by the computer, be aware that the capacitor level may well be set to zero. There is nothing more frustrating (or dangerous) than trying to fire up an apparently-ready ESG only to realise that 'you dinna have the power'. Also beware the loud bleeping noise that the ESG makes just before coming on- line. As a rule it won't give your enemy enough warning to get out of the way, but it's always best not to activate it till he can't avoid it. 3.5.2 Fusion Cannons These were made to be overloaded. As the Orions are not officially a playable race, only the Hydran use of Fusions need be considered in depth. When playing against the Orions, it is simply worth knowing that they have a nasty habit of firing overloaded fusions on the first pass. As a rule, they then don't have the energy to recharge them for a very long time. This weapon is extremely short-ranged. So short-ranged in fact that there is almost no point in firing them on standard load. The standard load only does slightly more damage than a Ph-1 at range 0 and falls off quickly even at range 1. was designed to complement use of fighters - release your fighter swarm on harrass or attack and then swoop in, fire overloaded fusions at point blank range and watch your fighters pick up the pieces. While they're doing this, head off and recharge the fusions. 3.5.3 Hellbores Hellbores are wonderful weapons. They recharge relatively quickly, have a decent range and inflict damage on all shields while concentrating on the weakest shield. They also look very pretty as they swirl around an enemy ship and make for some great combat recordings. Better still, they are DIRECT FIRE weapons. There's a nasty thought for any cloaked ships ... What, therefore, is their weakness? Simply this: the high level of damage inflicted by the hellbore is spread across all shields, so inflicts a relatively low level of damage to each individual shield. If fired against an undamaged shield which is even all around, the hellbore will inflict one-sixth of its total damage on each shield. This is all very well, but does not greatly contribute towards the normal approach of weakening and destroying one shield and then scoring internal damage through the breach. Worse still, if the enemy is using a high level of general shield reinforcement, this may only knock down the reinforcement and do no harm to the shields themselves. However, if a shield is weaker than the others, the damage done by the hellbore will be concentrated on the weakest shield; in fact one-half of the damage will be done against the weakend shield with the other half being spread amongst the other shields. If facing an enemy with even shields, the solution to inflicting valuable damage is therefore obvious. Provided you are not so far away that your other weapons are simply not going to do any harm, fire one of your other weapons first. Even if it only does a little damage, that will be enough to establish a weaker shield and allow the hellbore to be more effective. It is worth noting that ships with uneven shield distributions (ie klingon vessels) are treated as having weaker shields, no actual damage needs to be inflicted. Of course, with the Klingons, all you will be doing is simply encouraging them to use their standard tactic of never turning their back to you Once one of the enemy's shields is down, however, the hellbore comes into its own. It continues to do some damage to all shields but now, no matter which angle you fire from, some damage is going to go through and hurt the ship. This is a truly useful ability, particularly when you remember that at range 8 a hellbore has a 72% chance to hit and does a total of 13 damage, ie 6.5 damage against the weakest shield. Is it worth overloading hellbores? Generally, unless you have more energy than you know what to do with, the answer appears to be no. Although it doesn't extend the loading time (which, to be honest, at two turns is pretty reasonable), it does require six points of energy which is pretty damn huge for any but the largest ships. If you must overload something, overload your fusion cannons instead. That's what they're there for. On the other hand, while overloading decreases the range, it doesn't decrease the chance to hit. If you've got the spare energy and intend to fire at close range (for example, to help your fighters as they swarm an ISC ship), it does pack an extra punch Equally, it may be worthwhile on your first pass against an incoming enemy ship. If you intend to close to less than range 8 and fire, and have the energy available, you may as well overload your hellbore and do a little extra damage with the first shot. To sum up, you won't often see a hellbore shot taking down an enemy ship (or at least, I don't see that too often and I enjoy playing the Hydrans)*, but it will help chip away at their shields. * I do have a couple of very pretty screenshot selections where it has happened, though. If only SFC2 offered the opportunity to save little animation sequences linked to a particular ship ... hellbore stirikes, its deadly coils race around the badly-weakened enemy ship to find its weakness, impact against the unprotected hull and the ship shudders once before tearing itself apart. I could watch it again and again ... 3.5.4 Missiles Missiles, like plasma torpedoes, are a complex weapon to use and can be frustrating for the novice when compared to the obvious effectiveness of the direct-fire weapons. You cannot choose how a missile approaches its target and you cannot choose which shield it will impact. Ships have lots of options for getting rid of missiles - mines, phasers set to point defence, tractor beams, speed (see below), wild weasels and fighters or PFs set to defend. However, the reason for the wide number of possible defences is that missiles are actually a very dangerous little weapon. One missile is rarely a problem, but four can start to pose serious difficulties - the enemy won't have enough tractor beams to catch them all and may not want to fire enough phasers to shoot them all down. So he will have to use one of his limited-charge options (ie wild weasel or space mine). The idea with missiles, unless you're firing at point-blank range, is usually to have more missiles in the air than the enemy can properly keep track of, let alone deal with. Having said that, the first thing you should do at the beginning of each scenario is set all of you missile launchers to single-fire. Putting out 6 or more missiles with each shot is very pretty and may make a novice adversary flinch, but if he keeps his wits about him it is unlikely that he will take too much damage (unless, of course, you are very close to him, in whch case it may constitute a rather fun surprise.) You can fire, for example, 6 missiles in rapid succession rather than firing six at once - this will increase your chances of doing damage. Essentially, if you want to behave like a scatterpack, use a scatterpack. One of the biggest problems for missile-armed players is that slow missiles travel at speed 16, even Medium missiles only travel at speed 24. This means that it is very hard to hurt a phaser-armed ship which is travelling at high speed. If you're playing during the late period, you'll get fast (speed 32) drones and this does help a great deal. If you're playing during the earlier periods, enemy ships are likely to have greater energy-management problems and if they're putting everything into speed to outrun your missiles, chances are that they're not arming their heavy weapons. 3.5.5 Phasers The manual states that you should not neglect phasers. This is not sufficiently strong. What it should say is that YOU SHOULD NOT NEGLECT PHASERS! Unfortunately, phasers (with the exception of the Hydran phaser-g, which is moderately interesting, and the phaser 4 which is just nasty) are the plain vanilla-flavoured standard weapon of SFC2. This often leads people to under- rate them and use them as secondary weapons. This is a huge mistake. Phasers are amongst the most versatile weapons in your arsenal, have one of the fastest recharge times and use very little energy. They may not be the most powerful arms available to you, but they should not be seen simply as a weapon of last resort, or as something that you fire while waiting for your real damage- inflicters to recharge. However, if you want to do any real damage, their range is quite limited. Ranges 0-2 are ideal for phaser-3s and 1-4 for phaser-1s. A ship armed solely with a large number of phaser-1s (and a decent energy source) would be limited in its tactical applications, but would be very dangerous at close-medium range. One of the early ISC ships (which?) is in fact solely armed with phasers. Its shields are unfortunately not too good, but it is otherwise a surprisingly dangerous ship for its class. Equally the smaller Hydran ships, even those without fighters, can take down a shield with their phaser-Gs. Phasers have two great advantages - low recharge time (only disruptors can match them) and low energy cost. Many people distinguish between phasers and heavy weapons; this is flawed thinking and could lead to problems, it suggests that 'heavy' weapons will do more damage than phasers in most circumstances. It would be more accurate to think of phasers and 'special' weapons, capable of doing increased damage in certain situations. 3.5.6 Photon Torpedoes When you play the Federation for the first time, you will find yourself asking how on earth the UFP ever survived so long while using these as their primary special weapons. They don't always hit, they take two turns to fire and they 'only' do 8 points of damage. What's the point? As is so often the case with the Federation, the point is versatility. Ordinary photon torpedoes are (percentage) accurate up to a range of (check range). If the enemy is too far away (and you don't want to get any closer), you can set the torpedoes to proximity fuses. If it's a knife fight and you can spare the energy (unlikely, but you never know), you can overload the torpedoes and surprise your opponent with a quick 16-point shield-breaker. In fact, it will often be worthwhile, in close-range combat, taking other weapons off-line to achieve overloaded photons as they are likely to simply remove an enemy shield and leave you with some excellent firing opportunities. There's also the fact that a photon torpedo does constant damage. As long as it hits, range has no effect, a proximity torpedo does the same damage at range 30 as at range 10. It may not be the biggest damage-causer in the game, but it's more than most weapons at that range. Remember that photon torpedoes are extremely sensitive to electronic warfare and always check the electronic warfare MFD before firing if at all possible. Many players complaining about the reliability of their photons don't realise that 1 unopposed point of ECM is enough to seriously restrict their chances to hit. 3.5.7 Plasma Torpedoes When you first look at them, plasma torpedoes are lovely weapons. Against relatively stupid AI players and novice human players, they are devastatingly effective. Large amounts of seeking damage home in on your enemy and often take down a shield with one hit. But they are subject to the same problems as missiles and also suffer from two additional problems of their own. You cannot often choose which shield you will impact against and wild weasels are staggeringly effective and highly annoying (see Missiles, above). In addition, plasma torpedoes degrade with distance, doing progressively less damage. This means that plasma torpedoes are of limited effectiveness against a fast enemy (unless he is heading straight towards you and turns like a Gorn). Finally, ECM does not reduce the torpedo's chance of hitting but instead reduces the damage of your torpedo. Fortunately, torpedoes automatically have 3 points of built-in ECCM and will also take advantage of any ECCM generated by your ship. Always make use of your pseudo-plasma torpedoes, but never in a repetitive manner. If your enemy knows that you always fire a fake torpedo and then a real one, he will have no hesitation in ignoring the first torpedo and shooting down the second. Of course, if you follow this pattern twice and then reverse it, firing the real torpedo first, you may well catch him out. Psuedo-plasmas rely heavily on having a psychological advantage over your opponent. This is particularly true on-line but also seems to work against the computer. Never fire a plasma torpedo against someone heading away from you at high speed. The reason should be obvious. Small Ships If you are fighting a ship of equal size and your enemy has not spent all of his energy on shield reinforcement, it is likely that your single torpedo, fired at close range, will take down one of his shields and perhaps even do a little damage beyond that. Your next step will of course depend on what race you are playing, but your aim should be to cause as much damage as possible through the breach you have just created. If you have other weapons that you can conveniently fire, so much the better. However, there are a number of other manoeuvres that you may wish to use. You have just punched a hole in your enemy's defences, right at the start of the game, and you're still at close range. If you are in your enemy's forward arc, it is probable that your forward shield has also taken some damage. You will not be able to use plasma again for a while and you may have already fired your other weapons or wish to keep them in reserve (particularly if your opponent also has seeking weapons). How do you hurt your enemy further? With secondary systems, namely transporters and mines. A mine could do serious damage to a small ship without its shield. If you are prepared to drop a shield you could teleport one into your enemy's path Otherwise, you can drop a mine from your bay, remembering that you need to be at a range of 2 before it will activate. Equally, does your enemy have a weapon that is likely to cause you difficulty (eg a single heavy weapon)? If so, given that he has probably already fired and cannot hurt your further, now is most likely an ideal time to beam a few marines aboard his ship and take the system out. With it being a hit-and-run raid, you might even get at least some of the marines back. It must be remembered, though, that unlike in SFC1, marines on board a ship now automatically act as guards, so this is less likely to be successful than it was in the first game. Whatever the size of your ship, remember that a plasma torpedo is not like a missile or a photon torpedo; the damage of a plasma torpedo degrades with distance travelled. Firing at ships which are far away or travelling in the wrong direction is therefore likely to be a bad idea, as if the torpedo catches them at all it will do much less damage. 3.6 Shields Set up a skirmish game. Give yourself the biggest, most powerful ship you can find. Set the enemy up with the weakest and most pathetic frigate available (or the ship that his race starts the campaign game with, for amusement value). Charge all of your weapons, fly close to the small ship (ignoring its fire) and alpha strike it. Its shield will go down and it will die. It will not have succeeded in damaging you. This is the only time at which you can show such blatant disregard for shields. In any kind of real fight, you must always pay attention to relative facings. 3.6.1 Your shields You must never present a weakened shield to the enemy unless the damage you can inflict on him in so doing outweighs by far the damage he can do to you. Even then you should always try to reinforce the shield in question if at all possible. Remember to click on the reinforce button when reinforcing shields, otherwise you have not actually done anything. If one of your side shields has been weakened, always turn in that direction relative to the other player, eg if your front left shield has been weakened then always turn left relative to the other ship as this will present him with your undamaged right side. 3.6.2 Their shields Never fire without having an eye on the diagram showing the targeted enemy ship on the bottom left of the screen. It is a much clearer indication than the main screen. If there is a weaker shield, you should always try to fire when you are lined up with this. To be continued 3.7 Electronic Warfare (ECM/ECCM) Again, a lot of novice players simply ignore EW. There is a lot to concentrate on in SFC2 and this particular area tends to slide. When you consider, however, the effect that a few points of ECM can have on the chance to hit or the damage done by heavy weapons, it becomes obvious that EW is a vital consideration. There is no point husbanding the energy to fire your photon torpedoes if the enemy has 4 points of electronic warfare in play and they are horribly unlikely to hit. This is a complex subject and will be developed in a later version of this FAQ when I have the figures to hand. For now, it is worth bearing in mind that ECM/ECCM come low down on the list of 'power priorites' for a starship, so it is almost certainly always worth sticking points into them at the start of each game. Much of the time, you won't have the spare energy for them to be activated, but they will not harm you by drawing power from more immediately vital systems. Them when you do have the energy, they will be ready. 3.8 Special Tactics 3.8.1 Dealing with cloaked ships The flash-cube Cloaked ships are a real pain. You can't target seeking weapons on them, your direct-fire weapons suffer a large penalty unless you're prepared to spend a silly amount of energy on ECCM and while your enemy is cloaked he's recharging his shields and weapons. Worse still, the only ships that can cloak are Klingon and Romulan. Both of these races produce fast, manoeuverable vessels which are capable of decloaking behind you, firing all weapons and recloaking again. How do you deal with this problem? Well, you keep your weapons charged and make sure that cloaked ships spend all of their time in your main firing arc. Then, when they decloak, you hit them with everything while they're vulnerable. This is much harder, however, when you're facing multiple ships. Wouldn't it be helpful if you could force a cloaked ship to decloak at your convenience? Fortunately, you can. A cloaked ship caught in the radius of an exploding spacemine will become visible and, more importantly, target-able for a short space of time. This is known as the flash-cube effect. You can then fire your seeking/heavy weapons and do lots of damage. Your enemy will recloak again, of course, but at least he will be hurt. Once your weapons are ready to fire again, if he still refuses to decloak, repeat the process. Of course, it is important not to get so caught up in waiting for an opportunity to flash-cube that you fail to notice him decloaking off your front starboard shield, weapons primed. Rather than firing, you could take the opportunity provided by the flash-cube to tractor the enemy ship, as a tractored ship cannot (re-) cloak. This is all very well, but don't do it to a Romulan ship with twin plasma torpedoes ready for firing. The author has, and it's not pretty. I still won, but it was a lot more difficult after losing all of the weapons on the left side of the ship. Thank god for pseudo-fighters. When using this technique against a single ship, it is worth remembering that cloaked ships cannot fire and that it is therefore not dangerous to drop one of your shields in order to beam out a mine. 4. Federation 4.1 General tactics 4.1.1 The problem The Federation are the basic race in SFC2, the standard by which the others are judged. As such, they are good all-rounders. They have better staying power than the Mirak (though who doesn't), turn faster than the Gorn (!), have better shields than the Romulans and Klingons ... they really are the middle of the road. This does not mean that a Federation battleship is not something to be feared, simply that a Federation captain has to be much more careful about his use of weapons. The combat that we see so often in the TV series, where Federation ships destroy their opponents with one or two phaser shots and a volley of photon torpedoes, is somewhat misleading if you're using anything less than a constitution-class. To give an example, let us consider a simply battle against an Orion pirate ship armed with a single bank of phaser-1s and a missile launcher. Now let us imagine that a small Gorn vessel has been dispatched to deal with this menace to civilisation. The Gorn vessel will have at least a plasma-f, he can therefore adopt very simple tactics. He reinforces his front shield and flies straight towards the other ship, giving his plasma torpedo time to charge, then fires everything he has at the enemy's front shield. The enemy loses his front shield, takes some internal damage, the Gorn player sails over him, doubtless having nearly lost his facing shield, carries on a bit, turns and comes back, firing his phasers. As his manoevraibility is low, he may attack the enemy's rear shield or he may try to get round to the front again using, for example, an HET. The federation player probably has a couple of photon torpedo tubes and a mixture of phaser-1s and phaser-2s. This means that he lacks the 20-point punch of the Gorn's heavy weapon. Worse still, his torpedoes are not guaranteed to hit. Assuming that he goes for a frontal assault, he may well not break down the enemy's shield. On the positive side, his torpedoes recharge more quickly than the Gorn's plasma. He is going to have to move much faster than the Gorn ship and snipe. He can head round to the rear of the enemy ship and fire all of his weapons at close range, knowing that if he's not using too much energy elsewhere he will soon have another shot. As long as he is patient and reinforces his facing shield, he will wear the enemy down and start scoring internals. Ultimately, the Federation aren't the most exciting of races to play. They have no cool weapons/devices and lack the stopping power of most of the other races. However, they have extremely efficient ships. They have a reasonable amount of energy, can as a rule fire all of their weapons fairly frequently. They have decent shields, can bring damaged shields back up quite quickly (they often have four or more labs, which allows them to regenerate damaged shields at 2 points per turn rather than 1), and have perfectly good turn rates. They have no particular weaknesses but, equally, no great strengths. 4.1.2 The solution Versatility. Versatility. Versatility. The Federation player must always adapt his tactics to the situation. While a number of the other races are limited in their tactical options by the very nature of their ships, the Federation player is extremely flexible. No matter which opponent you are facing, you will always be better than him at something. The other races tend to have a particular strength that they must always play to - speed for the Klingons, missile barrages for the Mirak, fighters for the Hydrans and so on. The Federation does things differently; they are reasonably competent at everything. This means that no matter what enemy you face, either your weapons will recharge faster, or your shields will be better, or your ship will be more manouverable. The Federation player, perhaps more than any other, must know his enemy and play to his relative strengths. You are not going to outmanoever a Klingon, but you have better shields and longer-range special weapons. You are not going to outblast a Gorn at close range, but you are much more manoeuvrable, so he need never get to close range. 4.2 Small ships The comments above on the middle-of-the-roadness of Federation vessels generally applies particularly strongly to small Federation ships - they definitely lack punch. Most of them are without missiles or plasma launchers and must rely on at most a couple of photon torpedo tubes and a number of phaser-1s backed up by phaser-3s. This means that your initial campaign battles will be particularly hard as even an Orion can give you a run for your money. He can't beat you, but he may well seriously damage a couple of shields. You cannot, in most cases, simply stand and fight. Your shields will go down and then you will die. You need to take advantage of your relative strengths: If fighting a slow enemy, manoeuvre around (and away from!) them. Head off to recharge, avoid dangerous firing arcs, run away from plasma torpedoes (using HET or Wild Weasels if necessary - a single hit could do you a lot of damage so don't be shy about using resources) and snipe at them. If you are familiar with their firing arcs, you could perhaps try to take down the shields covering their heavy weapon firing arcs first, so that in order to launch anything nasty at you they have to leave themselves open to serious damage. If you don't want to get too close, remember that photons can be set to proximity and that doing a little less damage per hit doesn't matter if it means not losing one of your own shields to a single shot. If fighting a fast enemy, take advantage of his weaker shields. Try to keep your distance if at all possible, and don't give him the opportunity to get repeated shots against your weaker shields. Only close with him when you're charged and ready to do damage, but be careful not to make suicide runs against his heaviest armament. Equally, don't fire your photon torpedoes from too far away - you want to be almost guaranteed a hit. Ifyou can overload your photons for the first pass of the combat and lose him a shield, so much the better. In both cases, remember that energy management is vital. Most of your weapons don't take too much energy, so there's no excuse for not making use of electronic warfare or shield reinforcement. If fighting a missile race, always have at least one tractor beam set to catch incoming missiles, and keep your phaser-3s to shoot them down if at all possible. Similarly, if fighting the Hydrans, keep your phaser-3s (or your phaser-1s, but not both) in reserve to take out his fighters. Also remember that your photon torpedoes are, as mentioned above, versatile. If you're far enough away from your enemy, they should probably be set to overload for the first pass in order to do extra damage. If you're enemy stays at a distance, consider setting them to proximity fuses. 5. Gorn 5.1 General tactics 5.1.1 Turn speed Your turn speed really is not good. Gorn ships are cumbersome. You need to bear this in mind. Romulan and Klingon craft can fly circles around you, and pretty much everyone else is more manoeuvrable than you are. This makes it particularly difficult to use your most terrifying weapon (multiple plasma launchers) as these frequently have a narrow arc of fire. How do you deal with this? See "Use of Phasers" below and "Fighters/PFs" above. 5.1.2 Use of phasers Gorn plasma torpedoes are wonderful. However, they are of course subject to serious limitations, primarily their long recharge time and their damage which degrades over distance. The Gorns, unlike the Romulans, have no other heavy weapons. They are also without gimmicks (cloaking device, ESG etc). However, most Gorn ships have mutliple banks of phasers with excellent firing arcs. As mentioned under the "General-Weapons-Phasers", phasers are a much-maligned weapon in SFC2, but the Gorn player, like the Federation player, will find himself relying on them heavily. Your phasers have, for the most part, an excellent angle of fire which will help to compensate for your terrible turning speed. Your phasers can be used in a much wider variety of circumstances than your torpedoes. A few suggestions are listed below: To take shots at a longer distance than your plasma-Fs. If you fire a torpedo hoping to hit a weakened/downed shield, but the opposing ship turns before impact to present a new shield, you can fire your phasers immediately to maximise the damage You can use your phasers to protect your flanks/rear. As followup to your plasmas. Your plasmas will frequently knock down a shield, but will then require a long recharge time. In the meanwhile, you can get several shots through the breach with your phasers and hopefully score some internal damage. 5.1.3 Anti-Wild Weasel As with the Miraks, the Gorns are a seeking-weapon-heavy race. Unlike the Mirak, the Gorns do not need to spend all of their prestige points buying new seeking weapons between each encounter. Because the Gorn rely so heavily on their plasma torpedoes, you must pay close attention to the enemy's use of wild weasel shuttles. It is often tempting to fire off all of your torpedoes at once as the result is usually one downed shield plus internal damage. However, if the enemy is far enough away to stop and launch a wild weasel, your torpedoes will instead be wasted against this and you will be left with only your phasers. Not only is this embarassing, you will also be forced to head off and recharge. If, instead, you fire a single torpedo at a time, this will suffice to destroy the shuttle, and your enemy will be left moving very slowly, an easy target for your other torpedoes ... Equally, remember your pseudo-plasmas. A full salvo of pseudo-plasmas may seem wasteful, but if that doesn't encourage your opponent to drop a wild weasel, nothing will. You then have the choice of firing a single torpedo to destroy the wild weasel while your opponent is stationary or waiting for him to accelerate beyond a speed of 4/move beyond a range of 30 and lose the protection of the weasel. Either way, he has used up a valuable resource and you haven't wasted your firepower. 5.2 Small Ship It is probable that at the lower BPVs your ship has a single plasma torpedo and a few banks of phaser 2s/phaser 3s. It is therefore obvious that most of your firepower is concentrated into that single plasma launcher (see "Plasma torpedoes - small ships"). It is important, however, that you should not neglect your phasers. You are likely to have a number of phaser banks with wide firing arcs. You should group these separately to give yourself as much flexibility as possible. 5.3 Mid-range Assuming that your ship relies on the standard Gorn construction model, ie forward-firing plasma torpedoes backed up by a large number of wide-arc phaser banks, the most effective tactic against an enemy of equivalent size is to sail in close, fire all the plasma torpedoes you've got, fire half your banks of phasers (keeping two wide-angle mounts in case of missiles) and either bank and turn or sail right on over him depending on how much damage you take on the approach. Structurally, the Gorn ships are very tough, and they tend to have good forward shields, all of which makes this particular tactic far more survivable than it would be for, say, the Romulans. It is certainly, nonetheless, worth reinforcing your front and rear shields before this kind of pass. You then go far enough away to mostly recharge and finally turn and head back in. Repeat until enemy dies. Of course, if you're being swarmed by multiple smaller ships it's less effective. However, unlike certain other races, the Gorns can afford - if they have enough plasma banks- to attack a number of smaller ships at the same time rather than concentrating on one until it dies. When faced with a swarm of small ships (but not fighters), you have three options. You could slightly modify the standard technique of taking on one ship at a time. Target a full plasma battery against each ship in turn. This should cause significant damage and give you some breathing room. You can follow up with phasers if an opportunity presents itself, but you may well prefer to keep them to deal with the other ships. That way, while you are recharging, you still have phasers shots in case another ship gets too bold. Equally, you could split up your plasma batteries and fire off individual torpedoes at ships that get too close. This should encourage them to back off. Once you've breached their shields, follow up with phasers. The advantage of this method is that one or more plasma banks can be recharging while you wait to fire the others. Weaken their shields with close-range phaser fire. Only use plasma at close range against weakened shields. This should mean that you are never without charged weapons for very long. Your shields are sufficiently strong, and your weapons sufficiently frightening, that the other ships should not be able to swarm you. 5.4 Cloaked ships and the Gorn Cloaked ships are a pain at the best of times, and even more so for the Gorn. Your only heavy weapon is a seeking weapon and so, of course, cannot lock onto a cloaked ship. Given that your ship probably has a large number of phasers, patient use of these at very close range should eventually wear down one of your enemy's shields and allow you to score internal damage. Standard anti-cloaked- ship tactics also apply (tractors, preventative hit-run raids - see the section "Dealing with cloaked ships"). However, when your plasma batteries are fully charged and the Romulan/Klingon refuses to decloak and allow you to wipe that sneaky grin off his face, you are likely to want to use the Flash-cube trick. As explained under "Dealing with cloaked ships", this consists of placing a mine in the path of a cloaked ship. When the ship triggers the mine, not only will it take damage, it will also become visible for a short time, enabling you to get a lock-on. This presents a particular problem for Gorn ships due to their very slow turn ratio. Your plasma batteries mostly only fire forward and your turn speed is dreadful. This simply means that you must plan ahead and only use the flash- cube when you are already facing towards the enemy ship. 6. Hydran 6.1 General The Hydran player often faces one significant psychological problem. He doesn't want to send his fighters out into the cold hard universe in case they get blown up. This is an odd attitude; if a Mirak refused to use his missiles everyone would agree that he was wasting one of his most powerful weapons. Fighters ARE disposable. This doesn't mean that you should throw your fighters away, but if you're not using them, you are wasting a large part of your offensive and defensive capacity. Fighters serve a dual purpose, they can both attack the enemy and protect their mothership. It is important to treat fighters as a resource which is expended then bought back with prestige, rather than as something to be hoarded. Send 'em out, watch 'em blow up and then replace 'em. Otherwise you're just reducing your fighting power. Admittedly, this means that you will spend a little more on maintenance than most other races, but at least you'll be alive to repair and re-arm. In fact, provided that you use your fighters judiciously, other ships should do you much less harm and as a result you will spend less on repairs to your own ship. 7. ISC 7.1 General At the lower end of the BPV range, most ISC ships do not come equipped with PPDs but instead rely on plasma torpedoes as their heavy weapons. This is unfortunate when starting a campaign as may of these torpedoes only fire to the rear (see below). ISC ships also tend to have fairly heavy shields for their size. 7.2 Weapons 7.2.1 Plasma Torpedoes The manual explains that the ISC's rear-firing torpedoes were introduced as an anti-fighter measure. This is understandable to a certain extent, given the ISC's general lack of rear-firing weapons, but there are plenty of ships of other races who simply have to improvise and turn to bring other weapons to bear. In addition, the plasma-fs that most ISC ships appear to be fitted with are of relatively little use against large groups of fighters as they cannot shotgun. This must be seen as a strength rather than a weakness - most races have no rear-firing heavy weapons. There are two ways to use these banks. Either: You can weaken two banks of shields rather than one. Fly over your enemy, fire phasers at his front facing shields and then, once past him, fire your plasma at his rear facing shields. There are now two sides that he will be reluctant to turn to you, this seriously hampers his mobility. Or: Fire your phasers at the front facing shield. Take any necessary shots to your reinforced front shield. Then high-energy turn and fire your plasma at (hopefully) the same facing shield. Any further shots the enemy takes will be made against a fresh shield. Obviously, due to the limitations of high-energy turns this cannot be used too often, but it can be highly effective. However, after the first pass, a small-medium ship will often find that it does not have enough energy to charge all of its plasma banks as often as it would like. In this case, it may be better to take the rear banks off-line (unless you're primarily running away from your opponent, in which case they continue to be very useful and you should instead disable other systems). Remember, plasma takes energy to charge and hold, and this energy may well be more valuable elsewhere if you aren't going to get the opportunity to fully charge and fire. 7.2.2 PPDs These are lovely weapons, especially if all 4 pulses hit. However, they do take an age to charge, even on mid-range ships of 160-200 BPVs, simply because the energy balance of ISC ships strongly suggests that you will rarely have enough energy to charge them. It is more common to see an ISC ship whittle his enemy down with repeated ph-1 fire interspersed with a very occasional PPD shot than to see him regularly firing this particular heavy weapon. Range, as with so many weapons, is vital. PPDs change their firing characteristics at various ranges. I seem to recall that they cannot fire at range 3, so this is most definitely a range to avoid. Unfortunately I'm writing this at work and cannot check this, so confirmation will be given in version 0.3 :-) 7.3 Fighters Don't forget that ISC ships come with fighters. ISC carriers are available from about 130 BPV upwards and, although they lack the specialised fighter-support weapons available to the Hydrans, ie Fusion Beams and Hellbores, they're pretty darned effective with plasma torpedoes (note to self - check whether any ISC carriers also have PPDs. This would be a fun combination). 7.4 Small ships The combination of good shields, decent turning and plasma launchers means that low-BPV ISC ships are comparatively powerful, but they do not recharge quickly. Staying out of range while recharging (or "running away") is going to be important. Fortunately, since your only plasma launchers are likely to be rear- firing, this is not a problem. Use pseudos to keep your enemy guessing, or fire only one torpedo at a time, keeping the other in reserve. If you can weaken your enemy's front shield with your phasers on your initial pass and leave him thinking that you have at least one torpedo left, he is unlikely to wish to follow you. This gives you a lot of room to manoeuvre and you can either continue with phasers or wait and pick your moment to turn around and launch the remaining torpedo. 8. Klingon 8.1 General Turn Speed Klingons have, on average, the best turn speeds in the game. 8.2 Shields Oh dear. The Klingons do not believe in defence. Worse still, they believe that you can only be shot in the back while running away. It is clear that the writers of Klingon military doctrine have never been in anything other than a one-to-one duel. Out in space, on convoy patrol or while trying to defend a shipyard, even if the numbers of ships are even on both sides, it is all too common to find yourself facing off against two or even three enemies at a given moment. Or a ship breaking off from a dogfight with one of your companions may find itself with an opportune shot against one of your weak rear shields. If there is a solution to this, it is simply to keep your distance. Be aware of as many of the enemy ships as possible and try to avoid having your back to them. Failing that, reinforce your rear shields and to hell with the High Command. Just make sure to keep enough energy to fire your disruptors. 8.3 Weapons 8.3.1 Disruptors These are the fastest-firing special weapons in the game. Their effective range is extremely limited, but they can get off shot after shot and are perfect for the highly-manouverable Klingon ships. Dart in, fire, dart out, recharge quickly, repeat. You are fast enough that you should be able to launch your disruptors frequently against the shield of your choice. 9. Lyran 9.1 General These can be a hard race to play for a beginner, particulary with the less powerful ships. The ESG is impressive and has the largest area of effect of any weapon in the game, but can be very hard to use. A lot of novice players fire up their sphere generator, hoping to charge another ship and crush his shield, but instead wander through space without touching anything as their enemy accelerates to speed 31. And without the ESG, what weapons does the Lyran have? Disruptors and phaser-2s, like a watered-down Klingon. Lots of phaser-2s, admittedly, but the lack of horrible megadeath weaponry can put the Lyran player at a psychological disadvantage 9.2 Weapons 9.2.1 ESG The ESG is not (just) a battering ram. If you are playing against a Gorn, or a Romulan, or a Mirak, or a Klingon, or any vessel of any race that uses any number of seeking weapons, you are going to want this as an additional shield. Historically, the ESG was developed to counteract traditional Mirak tactics, ie the use of an overwheliming number of missiles. This holds good against any and all seeking weapons - the ESG is your best friend. When playing as a fleet, remember that the ESG is an area-effect weapon. Anything trying to pass through it must first interact with it. In the case of Hellbores this is likely to be bad news, but with regards to other weapons, it means that the ESG can also be used to protect other ships. If one of your companion ships is being pursued by a missile/plasma torpedo/fighter/PF, you may well be able to interpose the ESG and deal with the threat. You won't always want to do this, but it has saved the author's fleet from serious harm on several occasions. One other weakness of the ESG is that it is often poorly-protected. Lose a shield and you will often lose the ESG. Without, unless you've got PFs, you're left with ph-2s and Disruptors as mentioned just above. This is not necessarily a losing combination but can be hard to use effectively given the lack of ph- 1s.. 9.3 Pseudo-fighters The Lyrans were the first race to develop pseudo-fighters. Better still, they are also the inventors of the mechanical link, a system which allows relatively small ships to transport the relatively large pseudo-fighters. These mean that a low-BPV vessel (name) costing only (?) prestige at the shipyard comes equipped with 2 basic pseudo-fighters which can be upgraded to pretty damn lethal killing machines. Remember, however, that those 2 fighters represent a significant proportion of the ship's damage-capacity. Once they are gone, you are suddenly flying a slightly underpowered, underarmed smallish ship. When fighting the Mirak, also remember that a pseudo-fighter set to defence may well shoot down an incoming missile or two. Given the Mirak's propensity to have at least 6 missiles in the air at any one time, this could well be a good thing. If you're feeling truly paranoid, 2 PFs set to defence, plus a fully- charge 0-range ESG, should deal with most missile salvos, leaving your convential weaponry free to shoot large holes in the filthy feline's shields. This means that the Lyrans, unlike a great many other races, can actually wait for the Mirak to run out of missiles. 10. Mirak 10.1 General The Mirak are a lovely race to play. They do take a lot of getting used to as you have to learn how to use missiles as your primary weapon (though a number of their ships are also armed with good secondary weapon systems), but the investment of time is well worthwhile. Apart from their other advantages, Miraks almost always have enough energy to keep those weapons which do require energy charged, since their primary weapons need none. It's good to know that your disruptors and phasers will always be ready (or that you'll have those extra points you need to reinforce your front shield. Take your pick). 10.2 Weapons 10.2.1 Missiles Much of this section will be repetition of what was said under the section on weapons-missiles, but it is worth repeating for the Mirak. Even more so than the other missile-using races, you must learn not to waste missiles. Once they're gone, you've lost one of your primary weapons. Most important of all, you must learn to fire single missiles at regular intervals rather than firing all six at once. As was said above, the first thing you should do at the beginning of each scenario is set all of you missile launchers to single-fire. There simply is no point firing a group of missiles all at once. You can fire just as many missiles at short intervals and greatly increase your chance of actually hurting something. The speed of your missiles is probably a more important consideration than the damage that they do - there's no point having a high-impact warhead if it never hits the target. Missiles can travel a surprisingly long way (if you don't believe me, fire a salvo of missiles at range 30 ... provided that your target isn't heading directly away from you at speed 31, they'll get to him.) but slower missiles will go less far before they use up their fuel. They will also turn less well and may, in many cases, simply not catch up with their target. This is not to say that slow missiles don't have their uses. A number of missiles following a player round will make him decidedly nervous and affect his concentration. It is likely that sooner or later, one of them will catch up with him. If the range is not too long, they may well overwhelm his defences as all of his phasers fire and all of his tractor beams are used, leaving you with a clear field of fire for that one extra shot. They may still force a computer- controlled player to use one of his wild weasels. Fast missiles are expensive, but it's almost always worth upgrading at least to medium speed. It's better to have one reload of missiles that will hit than two reloads of missiles that won't. 10.3 Fighting the Lyrans A difficult proposition, but far from impossible. The problem when fighting the Lyrans is posed by their PFs and their ESGs. It is probably better to deal with the PFs first. 11. Romulan 11.1 General There are two views on how the Romulans should be played. While I tend to the former view, I will list both: 1. If SFC2 is a game of naval battles, the Romulans are a fleet of submarines. Your ships and shields are weaker, their damage potential is less constant, you are forced to rely heavily on your plasma torpedoes and these are very slow to recharge given your less-than-optimal energy configuration. So be patient. Fire. Cloak. Wait. Decloak. Fire. Cloak. Wait ... the procedure is simple. Unless you are desparately short of energy there is no reason to be decloaked unless you are about to fire/ have just fired. 2. The cloak is a waste of time in a fight. It may be a great plot device for the television series, but it should not be used in ship-to-ship encounters. Charging weapons while cloaked limits you to a maximum speed of 12 and given that speed is vital to survival in SFC2, this is simply not acceptable. Don't cloak, run. 11.2 Small ships Your cloak should provide you with a huge advantage against enemy ships of equivalent size. You have plasma torpedoes, so simply hide until you are ready to fire them. Then glide in , decloak and fire. Then get out of the way and cloak again. Remember, however, that a single miscalculation on decloaking could cost you your ship. Cloaking/Decloaking leaves your ship extremely vulnerable and you must take great care. Always approach a ship along one of its rear shield facings if at all possible. Alternatively, decloak a little further away than usual with a reinforced front shield, fire a pseudo torpedo, watch your enemy waste phasers trying to shoot it down, move in closer and fire the real torpedo. Then recloak. Watch your enemy grind his teeth. Do not, as I have seen several inexperienced Romulan players do, become so intent on the ship you are attacking that you decloak within close range of a second enemy ship. Its captain will bless the fates and alpha-strike you.