Santiago – this is very useful ship class, that shines in certain matchups. If your opponent have few strike carriers these can be easy taken care of early in the game. However in most situations, even after Adepticon errata, these can hardly pay their points back, though if used correctly this class can be useful regardless of opponent’s fleet composition. Often destroyed ships are bad indicator of ship’s effectiveness as there is no need to hunt all opponent’s strike carriers. Corvettes can be a good deterrent to prevent the use of strike carries over cluster or two, which can win the ground game there. If opponent is dropping tokens on clusters you are not going to fight for anyway, the number of tokens there does not matter. Additionally this class with the addition of Squadron rule is very useful in orbital late game. If you keep your corvettes from your opponent’s fleet sight using their low sig, low reliance on special orders and 20” effective range (16” when jumping out from atmosphere) these 9/12+d6 4+ CAW attacks can finish even larger badly damaged ships. Additionally most weapon systems are ridiculously overpowered when targeting ships of this class. With careful positioning you may force your opponent to either ignore a group of Santiagos or shoot them with weapons that would be able to down a cruiser. It is worth mentioning that this class can be very effectively used against non-strike carrier assets in atmosphere, especially when fighting Scourge, as they have much better potential damage to points ratio that Kiev class. Santiago class main drawback is that you’d like to use a group of 4 for both greater reliability of Squadron rule and the fact that against most atmospheric assets 3 ships are an overkill and 1 is too little, so it takes up 2 L slots.
New Orleans – this ship class will be in almost every fleet in quite large numbers. Strike Carriers can hide in atmosphere while dropping troops and can drop Armour tokens which makes them really useful. The only places one wants to put Infantry tokens with them are stations and sectors that could be bombarded/fired upon by the opponent and would most certainly not see any fighting. In many cases the most prudent approach is to send your New Orleans into the atmosphere as soon as possible. But if you have enough of these it is good to keep a couple in reserve to react to opponent’s moves or bad dice rolls. This is even more useful, as one of the biggest strengths of UCM are cruisers/destroyers with good damage output on standard orders combined with two classes with 4 hull, group 1-3 and costing 32 points. The Osakas/New Cairos/Kievs/Berlins/Rios + single Jakarta + single New Orleans are great, as frigates can active scan targets for combat ships in turns 2(1)-3 and then do something useful.
Jakarta – as was stated in New Orleans entry this is a great supplementary scanning ship class. The Aegis is useful mainly as a deterrent against bomber attacks, but can also save the ship from utter destruction when faced with CAW. The additional merit of using it as a scan ship is that it will have major spike, which makes it easily targetable. It is good to keep some low value targets visible, as that would give your opponents something to shoot at. If no such target existed he may try to create one from more important ships in your fleet.
Lima – while talking about scan ships this class must come up. Interestingly this is the least useful scanning ship class in UCM arsenal. Its main drawbacks are higher point cost and being nearly useless in turns 4+. This class is used either by beginners or very good players. The first group uses them as a crutch as they are extremely easy to use. The second group has a plan behind their use that would justify their cost. Usually this class should be attached to H and S ships that can use their full firepower early in game, as Vanguard and Line battlegroups permit only a single L group, although a Madrid + New Orleans combo can be used as an alternative in Vanguard battlegroup. Still, if you can light opponent’s ships up with other groups, not using Limas is preferable, as Active Scan order is usually only useful in turn 2 (sometimes also 3, but that depends on your opponent’s fleet and playstyle).
Toulon – it is good to have 3 ships of this class at hand, as they are the most probable choice when playing Strength in Numbers command card. This class is very good list filler, as it provides mobile volume of fire to kill other frigates or finish off larger ships and damaged strike carriers in atmosphere. As ships of this class retain their firepower on most special orders they can be added to other ships freely. It is worth mentioning that Moscow + 3-4 Toulons battlegroup is utterly lethal with Mass Driver Volley command card and can cripple a battleship. The reason these ships are most often brought up with card is their speed that enables them to take part in battle as soon as they arrive as well as greater firepower then Rio.
Tai-Pei – this class can be either great or completely useless, depending on your personality. Their great amount of dice is especially useful against Shaltari. Also as they have negligible non-CAW firepower it is easy to hide them – almost no-one would use Active scan order to first knock down Silent Running order and then lighting your frigate up if there are other pressing targets that are easier to target. Their problem is that this class is too costly for being one-shot weapon. The second attack run can be achieved in number of ways. First is careful positioning that would greatly limit return fire, but with large games with low number of debris fields that can be hard. The second is putting them in low SR battlegroup and making double activation, but that forces you to move this group first in turn 3/4 which can be a hard choice. The last one is using chain explosions as a weapon itself. If you put all Tai-Peis in group in the single spot, so one explosion would always hit all others and then move them less than 1” from one of your opponent’s ships and attacking some other ship you can almost always gain a second attack (usually in form of chain explosion) or more. If their target blows up and kills them, they will probably blow the second ship in return. If opponent would activate the ship Tai-Peis are next to usually after it moves it would not be able to shoot them and trying to kill them before that would likely result in that ship’s demise.
Istanbul – this class looks very interesting. With 2 modes of shooting, both with good damage and bombardment in 10” ships of this class can be used to tip balance in sectors you have lost due to bad dice rolls and when you roll reasonably they can still contribute to orbital game. Their main problem is low speed coupled with inability to use Max Thrust order – bombardment of central sectors can happen after four turns of flying forward! This means you have to bring them on turn 1, which greatly limits their possible battlegroups. Still Monitor rule frees them to active scan every turn so they are of some use in early turns anyway.
Vienna – ships of this class are a bit odd, but still provide reliable damage with additional Aegis. Their low speed means that Mamba laser would rarely be used to light up the target for battleship, but as BTL(3) with 2 3+ attack dice is reliable they can be great at finishing of threats. This means you can spread your firepower more fishing for spikes, while keeping something in your sleeve, as there is no more reliable way of removing a threat than destroying it. They are also good scanning ships due to their low point cost.
Kiev – this class is great. Very strong gun combined with good armour and low point cost makes this ship one of the best candidates for spam lists. The problem is that they can be hard to use to gain most of the package. Without Weapons Free order shooting a strike carrier with one is a gamble, with 2 it’s a waste of resources. On the other hand going Weapons Free will light them up as proverbial Christmas tree and make them a huge easy target for your opponent’s ships. The use of debris field is crucial here, but you should not forget about the deterrent factor, similar to the Santiogo class. Kiev class has great orbital damage potential, so can be used to completely secure clusters from any kind of drop.
Vancouver – this class is useful in 2 aspects – it is another scan ship class with additional functionality. It is especially useful for securing your backfield as bombers do not care for arcs. The other use is being a “pass” in bomber game enabling better distribution of your launch assets. If you have few points to spare upgrading Jakarta or two to Vancouver is great.
Havana – this class can be considered CAW ship class which plays completely different from Tai-Peis, but not because of Light Torpedoes, but rather 6 hull. The main reason to take them are Light Torpedoes that are hard counter against ships with Stealth rule that like to be on Weapons Free order. Their speed enables first turn torpedo launches, but the usefulness of this tactic varies. After expending their torpedo payload the became a bit weaker Tai-Pei. This comes from both lower number of CAW and non-CAW attacks, but also from hull points that prevent chain explosions. This means that they cannot be shoved into opponent’s fleet face, but rather should skim the edges and attack targets of opportunity while keeping low profile. Do not be disappointed by L:2 rule on Light Torpedoes. 4 2+ attack dice are way above this class point cost and 2 turns of such shooting would probably be maximum amount anyway.
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