Ok then, in writing this short guide to the chaos fleet I will be assuming you have read the core rules of the game, maybe even had a look at the various ship stats also included in the rulebook. If not you can download the rulebook here:http://www.specialist-games.com/battlefleetgothic/tlr.asp
Right then, since you now know roughly what I mean when I talk about arcs of fire, special orders, weapons batteries, lances etc, I will continue. To my mind the Chaos fleet has 3 core strengths: Speed, range and massed weapons batteries. For this section I will mostly be using the Imperial fleet for comparison purposes.
Overall, chaos ships tend to be 5-10cm faster than their Imperial counterparts. If you are looking for extreme examples consider this; a Chaos Desolator class battleship is faster than almost any Imperial cruiser, also, a chaos Slaughter class cruiser is faster than all but 1 Imperial escort. This great speed provides the chaos fleet with the means to close with the enemy very quickly to use their massed weapons batteries to even deadlier effect.
Its no secret, if you look at the numbers you will immediately notice that the Chaos fleet has the longest ranged guns. 60cm range WBís and lances are very common and provide a huge advantage. The ability to cause serious damage to enemy ships whilst suffering little or no retaliation in the first and maybe even second turns is a big plus without question.
This is perhaps what distinguishes the Chaos fleet from the Imperial fleet the most.
Where Imperial ships tend to rely upon large torpedo salvos and short ranged lance/WB fire to cause damage, the Chaos fleet places its trust in massive broadsides (and they are massive
). For example, a Chaos Carnage class cruiser (a fairly standard line ship), by combining one side and its dorsal WBís can deliver a crippling FP16 broadside at 45cm or FP10 at 60cm. Big deal you may ask, well at 45cm thatís more weapons batteries than an Imperial Retribution class battleship. Happy now?
Despite this you have to remember that the Chaos fleet does not have very many ships that can fire torpedoes (only 4 spring to mind and one of those can only do it by purchasing the ability). So do not rely on torpedo's, they are not the fleets strength. Also, the Chaos fleet lacks any so-called 'wonder weapons' like nova cannons on its standard ships. In addition they lack the 6+ prow armour that most Imperial ships are equipped with (which I suppose is designed to make up for their lack of speed). Despite this the 5+ save of the chaos ships is nothing to sniff at, its not brilliant but its not bad either.
So it would seem that the Chaos fleet has no obvious disadvantages. This is true upto a point. The fleet is capable and versatile enough to be as accessible to a novice as it is interesting and powerful to a veteran. Good stuff then. Ok, lets look at the fleet itself.
There are two Chaos fleet lists to pick your forces from. They are almost identical, but the second is the Black Crusade fleet list which you will find in BFG Armada or here:http://www.specialist-games.com/battleflee...Chaos_Fleet.pdf
Do not worry, the list is exactly the same as the Ďofficialí version that appears in Armada.
The Black Crusade list is, in my opinion the better one. Go for it.
Ok then, when picking your fleet it is important to remember the restrictions placed upon ship selection (such as needing 3 cruisers or heavy cruisers per battleship). Iím not going to go into detail on this point as you can read the rules yourselves. Onto the ships then..
Thought Iíd start with the big boys first. These are by no means essential although you may want to consider getting one when your fleet starts going over the 1500 mark.
CHAOS DESPOILER CLASS BATTLESHIP:
At 400 points this is not a cheap ship. It is however the largest carrier a standard Chaos fleet has access to. With a massive 8 launch bays it is the equivalent of its Imperial counterpart, the Emperor class. Although more expensive than the Imperial ship, the Despoiler is faster (20cm) and has long range weaponry. This means it is more suited to a stand-off role, using its attack craft to engage the enemy along with its longer ranged lances and weapon batteries. One of the peculiarities of this ship is that it has a strength 4 prow lance battery that has a short range of 30cm. This can however, be exchanged for 10 pts for a strength 8 torpedo launcher which is more befitting its long range role. Due to its cost, the Despoiler is a real love it/hate it ship which may be suited to some players more than others.
CHAOS DESOLATOR CLASS BATTLESHIP:
This is by far one of the cheapest battleships out there at only 300 pts. At first glance it can appear somewhat under gunned. Donít let this fool you as the Desolator is a very capable ship. It is fast, at 25cm it has the speed to keep up with its supporting cruisers rather than slowing them down as the Despoiler can. Its modest dorsal weapons batteries are complemented by a strength 4 lance battery on either side. All its guns have a 60cm range and these are joined by a strength 9 torpedo launcher in the prow. These are reasonably priced, formidable ships and one of these should be on your shopping list if you want to build a larger fleet with an emphasis on big guns rather than attack craft.
++THE GRAND CRUISERS++
These should be thought of as being midway between the battleships and cruisers/heavy cruisers although they have the same selection restrictions as battleships They have 10 hull points, decent armament and are very reasonably priced. Their downsides are that their weapons tend to be shorter ranged than the rest of the Chaos fleet and with a speed of only 20cm, they are slower (although just as fast as most standard Imperial cruisers). What they are good at is being used as pocket battleships in smaller games. Their heavy firepower in a smaller, cheaper package means that they are a popular choice for many players.
CHAOS REPULSIVE CLASS GRAND CRUISER:
This is probably the best of the grand cruisers. In fact itís a bloody marvelous ship. At 230 pts it is a bargain, with strength 14 weapons batteries on either side with a range of 45cm it can deliver a fearsome broadside. Added to this is a strength 3 dorsal lance battery, the range of which can be upped to 45cm for a modest 10 pts. The ship also has a strength 6 torpedo launcher in the prow which can also prove useful. The ship only has 2 shields although I have a feeling that a recent FAQ stated that this could be upgraded to 3 for a certain amount of points (but I cant remember exactly). All this combined with its 10 hull points makes for a dangerous proposition for any opponent. A pair of Repulsives in a large fleet can be a real intimidation factor.
CHAOS VENGEANCE CLASS GRAND CRUISER:
This ship is available to both Chaos and Imperial fleets and should be thought of as a real workhorse. Its has long range guns with a decent strength 10 weapons battery and a pair of lances on either side. It is the same price as the Repulsive though perhaps not as flexible as it has no forward firing weapons. Like the following grand cruisers it is slower but well shielded with a decent turret value. All in all, a very reasonable ship that wont overshadow your fleet flagship.
CHAOS EXECUTOR CLASS GRAND CRUISER:
This is an inexpensive ship for what it can do. At 210 pts it is easily affordable but requires some careful thought as to how you will use it in conjunction with the rest of your fleet. The reason; it is an all-lance armed vessel. These lances are all short range and mounted in port and starboard batteries so do not count on this ship to add its weight of fire when closing with the enemy. With its 3 shields and 10 hits it is highly survivable and its lance armament can do serious damage to any high armoured enemy like necrons or space marines. The key is to support this ship with something that can knock down the enemy shields first with massed weapons batteries (like a carnage class, or a squadron of escorts) so the Executors heavy lance armament can take its toll. All in all, an inexpensive, tough ship that requires careful use to get the best from it.
CHAOS RETALIATOR CLASS GRAND CRUISER:
An odd one this. The Retaliator is best thought of as a beefier Styx class with less launch bays and shorter range weapons. At 275 pts It is slightly cheaper than the Styx but is still a very expensive ship whoís role can be easily filled by less expensive ships such as the Devastation class cruiser. Again it is as tough as the Executor but it is of limited use and is not a very popular ship due to its obsolescence. However, if you are looking for something different then the Retaliator makes for an interesting choice for any Chaos fleet commander.
++THE HEAVY CRUISERS++
These are of the same size as standard cruisers but are often fitted with a heavier armament and usually have a better turret rating. You need 2 standard cruisers for every heavy cruiser in your fleet. Other than that, all 3 of the Chaos heavy cruisers are excellent ships in their own right.
CHAOS STYX CLASS HEAVY CRUISER:
The strengths of this vessel are obvious on paper. With 6 launch bays and modest though very long ranged weaponry it has no real equivalent in the Imperial fleet. The Styx is a very capable carrier that can launch large waves of attack craft from a distance. The downside of this ship is its cost. At 290 pts it is almost in battleship territory, this often forces the Styx into the role of fleet flagship, something for which it is not suited due to its cruiser standard hull and shield rating. When using the Styx keep it supported by another vessel with heavy firepower as the Styx cannot endure one on one gunnery duels.
CHAOS HADES CLASS HEAVY CRUISER:
This vessel is an good ship when closing with the enemy. It has a very heavy, long ranged lance armament that can deliver punishing blows once the enemy shields are down. It is best though of as the Murder classes bigger, meaner brother and should be used in a similar way. At 200 pts it is inexpensive for its capabilities and when paired with a Carnage class cruiser, these two become a force to be reckoned with. Pairing it with a second Hades gives you a squadron that can produce 8 60cm lances in the forward arc of fire, or 4 to the left and right. This combined with the ships not inconsiderable port and starboard weapons batteries makes for a brutal long range duelist.
CHAOS ACHERON CLASS HEAVY CRUISER:
The Acheron has a decent lance output which combined with its dorsal weapons batteries can contribute effectively to any firefight. It has a fine turret rating but is still somewhat under gunned for a ship of its type. It works best when abeam to the enemy, enabling the chaos player to make use of its side lances as well. This can lead to 6 WBís followed up by 4 lances at 45cm. Not too bad. Other than that it is not a very spectacular ship and if I had to recommend 1 heavy cruiser it would be the superb Hades class.
These will obviously be the mainstay of any chaos fleet which is great as chaos cruisers are truly superb. There are no deadweights among the chaos cruiser class, each ship being good at its assigned role.
CHAOS MURDER CLASS CRUISER:
The Murder has a pair of very long range prow lances which are decent when closing, and some respectable weapons batteries on its port and starboard sides. In many ways it can be thought of in similar terms to the Imperial Lunar class; in that to get the best out of them they should be used in pairs. At 170 pts it is an affordable workhorse which has the capabilities to tackle anything when paired with a second ship of the same type.
CHAOS SLAUGHTER CLASS CRUISER:
This ship is very cheap, heavily armed and fast. On that note it is perhaps a little too fast. With a speed of 30cm this cruiser can outrun Imperial Sword class frigates, its just a shame it doesnít have the maneuverability to match. This combined with its very short ranged weaponry can make it tricky to use effectively. Too many people send it straight down the throat of the enemy only to have it crippled and out-maneuvered. The Slaughter class is perhaps best placed at the rear of your fleet and use it in a counter-attacking role where its speed and firepower can be better used. Its fast pace can also allow it to pounce upon crippled enemy vessels in the closing stages of any engagement.
CHAOS CARNAGE CLASS CRUISER:
This ship, in my mind, embodies the greatest strengths of the Chaos fleet. It has decent speed and lots of long range weapons batteries. When the ship is abeam to the enemy it can dole out a strength 10 broadside at 60cm by combining its side and dorsal weapons batteries. This rises to 16 at 45 cm or less. If you are going to be fighting Eldar or any other low armoured fleet then at least two of theses should be mandatory. They donít do as well against fleets with 6+ armour but the sheer amount of dice you will be rolling can still take its toll and the psychological factor of receiving such a huge broadside can make inexperienced players want to Ďbrace for impactí where it might not be necessary. If you really want to exploit the benefits of this ship then take a squadron of 3, set them up abeam to the enemy and enjoy the fireworks.
CHAOS DEVASTATION CLASS CRUISER:
A truly excellent carrier, a pair of devastations can provide plenty of fighter cover for even larger fleets. The ship is inexpensive for its power and has a pair of long range lances on wother side. Its modest, short ranged weapons batteties mean that like the styx, it cannot be relied upon in one on one gunnery duels. All in all, a great cruiser and if you actually have the balls to go for an all-carrier fleet, this is the place to start.
Not an 'essential' component of a chaos fleet in the sense that they are not required legally
, though at least one squadron should be taken to guard the rear/ flanks of your fleet. That said, the cruisers are the main strength of a Chaos fleet so don't go overboard on escorts.
CHAOS INFIDEL CLASS RAIDER:
The standard torpedo armed escort in the chaos fleet. Although more expensive than the Imperial cobra it is better armoured and has twice as much Weapons batteries (2 instead of 1..). 40 pts and it's a good all rounder. Like most escorts it is best used to loiter behind your cruisers, protecting their flanks and rear. Useful also in that it is one of only a few escorts that can launch boarding torpedoes which aside from their obvious role can also be used to intercept other ordnance in an emergency.
CHAOS IDOLATOR CLASS RAIDER:
An oddity this one, reasonably pricy at 45pts but makes up for it by having 45cm range weapons batteries with a L/F/R fire arc. In addition to this the Idolator is equipped with a special targetting system that means it does not suffer negative a column shift on the gunnery table when firing over 30cm. This combined with a single 30cm lance and a decent turret rating makes the Idolator a good choice for those leaving the torpedoes at home.
CHAOS ICONOCLAST DESTROYER:
The poor mans chaos escort, with only 4+ armour and a single turret do not expect these to last long in any situation. They are redeemed somewhat by their low cost (only 30 pts) and decent amount of firepower (3 WB's with a L/F/R arfc of fire). Not a hugely popular choice among chaos players, though they can be useful for getting in the way of torpedoes/ bombers in an emergency.
Unique vessels you may ask? Yes of course, the Chaos fleet is home to 3 (well two ships and one space station) vessels that can be considered one-offs (though it is possible to take more than one Blackstone Fortress in a scenario).
These are the 'Planet Killer', 'Terminus Est' and the Blackstone Fortresses.
THE PLANET KILLER:
As it's name implies this ship is equipped with a weapon that can destroy planets, Death Star style. Aside from the fearsome armageddon gun, the PK is equipped with many long-range weapons batteries, lances and torpedoes. It is a very large ship with 14 hits and 5 turrets. It also has a resonable pace of 20cm, not too shabby for the size of the thing. In the running for the most powerful ship in the game,a title quite fitting seeing as it is the flagship of Abaddon the Despoiler. To be honest, the PK should really only be used in special scenarios as very often it will be the whole reason for a battle. Its expensive, but use with care, back it up with carriers and it is lethal.
THE 'TERMINUS EST':
This is the flagship of the Plague Fleet of Typhus and in my opinion is the most powerful attack carrier out there. The TE can launch an unrivalled 9 attack craft squadrons, making it all but invulnerable to ordnance attacks. This combined with its fearsome close-up armament (8 L/F/R lances, thats 8 count 'em) makes this ship a real bruiser when things get up close and personal. The ship should be thought of as a more powerful Despoiler class with shorter range weapons. This dictates that the TE 'get in there' as it were, but that is where the Mk Nurgle come in: an extra hull point and immunity to boarding. A real sledgehammer of a ship that is lots of fun to use (and horrible for the enemy).
The Blackstone Fortresses are ancient Eldar constructions that have been captured and perverted to that causes of Chaos. These are a defence and are bought as such in some scenarios. They are hugely expensive and very slow but are armed with 8 warp cannons. These are effectively lances with a 90cm range but they ingnore shields, holofields, shadowfields etc, etc, there is no real defence against them. Add to this a monstrous 16 hull points, 6+ armour and 6 shields and they are all but invulnerable to conventional gunnery. They have no turrets and so are vulnerbale to attack craft and torpedoes, though these can be countered by keeping a couple of Devastations nearby. A really interesting vessel with a great model, though like the PK it is really only appropriate to see them in special scenarios rather than ordinary fleet engagements.
Well then, thats that. If you feel you have any comments or anything to add then by all means do so. Any questions will be taken at the Captains Table.