Federation Ship Analysis


Common Complaints

Some of my friends who play SFC II continually bash the Federation because of the usual reasons-no power, dismal hit rates for photons, lack of good shielding (especially in earlier years and lighter ships), and abysmal turn modes. I'll take each of these objections in order. Note that some of these tactics are only useful against the AI in single player.

1) Power Woes: This actually has some basis in fact-Federation ships usually don't have a lot of power, and photon torpedoes guzzle energy like California. You can't afford to waste it, and with the new patch out, things begin to get ugly (who ever heard of SS and WW holding costs!?!?). However, learn to manage those sliders and the Fed ship becomes quite dangerous.

First of all, the usual Federation ship is equipped with some nasty weapons. With a large load of phaser-1s and phaser-3s, your phaser-based damage can be really high. Plus, you have the photon torpedo for some extra damage. As SFCShadow says in his strategy guide, "Your phasers should be your first line of attack." I couldn't agree more. To get those phasers to charge (plus the occasional photon), however, you really need to manage your power carefully. First, set your phaser capacitor to 25-50%. That will free up a LOT of energy that you'll need for speed or charging photons. If your ship has two or more photons, turn half of them offline as well, getting you even more warp power to charge the other half. Once that half is complete, switch the others online. You've just freed up a bunch of power for your weapons systems.

2) To Hit or Not to Hit: Photon torpedoes are renowned for their ability NOT to hit the target, but this is really only partially true. If used properly, they are one of the better weapons in the game. And before you start laughing at me, remember this-the damage they do does not degrade over range. If you're really lucky, you can deliver a 32-point strike with photons alone at range 55 in a Federation destroyer. However…most of the time, you're not really lucky

There are three types of photons-normal, overloaded, and proximity. Normal photons suck really badly. Don't use them unless you plan to close the range to at least 15, and even then, you might not hit (depending on whether you're firing into an ECM shift). Overloaded torpedoes should only be used in 0-1 range alpha strikes, when you're absolutely positive the enemy is crippled. With 16 potential points of damage, use them wisely-they love to eat your power. Personally, I think the true power of the photon lies in the proximity torpedo. They have awesome chances to hit even at long ranges, and can be used by a skilled captain much like a Klingon uses his disruptors to saber dance. Eventually, your torpedoes will wear down a shield and then you close for the kill. The difference between the saber dance and the method of firing photons at range 55 is that your opponent can't hurt you with the latter, while he can in the former.

3) Our Screens Aren't Holding, Captain: If you manage your photons correctly, you won't ever need to close with your opponent except when he's badly damaged or nearly so. Add this to the Federation's ability to regenerate shields very quickly, their heavy armor plating and sturdy internal structure and you have a ship that can take a big hit and still be a decent fighting machine. The problem is that photons are hard to manage correctly.

4) Sulu, Turn the Damned Ship!: Yep, this is one of the major annoyances of playing as Federation. Use your HET wisely-smaller ships can have two before percentage drops under 100%, larger ships only have one or even 0. If they get behind you, HET and nail them with your weapons. Then get the hell out of there. Seriously.

So you see, if the Federation ship is managed properly, you've got a lethal weapon in your hands-use it!

Weapons Strategies

The Federation probably has the biggest (and cheapest) selection of weapons, much more than any other race. Because of its special trade relations with the Hydran Star Kingdoms and the Gorn Confederation (fancy way of saying: I give you one dollar, you give me plasma torpedo, yes?), the Federation mounts the: phaser-1, phaser-2, phaser-3, phaser-G, photon torpedo, drone racks, AMD missile defense, and plasma torpedo. A bit pathetic, but I firmly believe that if the Federation does not overwhelm plasma races with plasma or out-gatling the Hydrans, the Feds should be able to use those weapons. A few strategies for weapons tactics:

1) What Do I Do With a Laser Anyways?: Phaser. Phaser. <Hits himself on the head> In the wonderful strategy guide, SFCShadow gives three phaser drills to get yourself ready to use the phaser-blow up a cruiser with your cruiser using phasers ONLY, blow up a cruiser with your cruiser using heavy weapons to open up a shield but phasers to kill him, and blow up a cruiser with your cruiser using phasers to knock down a shield but heavy weapons to kill. These are great tactics to practice with phasers, and I recommend trying them at Admiral with a nasty Klingon D7D on your back with a few scatterpacks that he'll be happy to force-feed you. Ouch.

With the Federation especially, the phaser is your killing weapon. Sure, photons can be helpful (try that second drill using proximity photons to whittle down a shield and then close in for the kill), but they take second place when faced with the phaser. And since the Federation mounts a lot of phaser-1s, you've got a lot of striking power using those lasers…erm, phasers…of yours.

2) Stop Missing, F#@*# Things!: Photons don't really have the best hit rates in the world, I'll say that much. But once again, I need to reiterate-USE THOSE PROXIMITY TORPEDOES! 'Nuff said.

Now, specific tactics. The first and foremost, as was mentioned, is to knock down a shield with proximity torpedoes and then close with an overloaded alpha and Mizia with phasers. That will cut 'em down to size pretty soon (and first presented as the photon dance in the strategy guide). Another (original!) tactic is to dump your overloaded photons into their rear shield, following with a tractor and a SS into their open back (once again, works in SP only). Yet another (original!) tactic, effective especially against Klingons, is to continuously pound any and all shields with your photons until they've got nothing left but a few red bars of shielding left. Close the distance and KO them with your phasers. If you've got any more, DMAL.

3) The Drones Are Coming, The Drones Are Coming!: Have you ever tried to play as the ISC against a fully-loaded Mirak battleship wondering who insulted its mama on the subspace channel and seeing YOUR ship in the sector? Chances are that you've ended up hurting as sixteen missiles impact on that back shield of yours. And though the Feds don't have as many drones as the Mirak or the Klingons, they've still got a decent lot of missiles to tie up weapons.

Because of the advent of the plasma-D, you've got to be very careful in launching those missiles of yours. Remember, you have a limited number of drones and they've got a LOT of plasma-Ds. I really don't have any tactics for Federation use of missiles, since I don't use them much. However, what seems to work against the AI is to fire all of your missiles at them and hope to god that they'll waste their phasers on them.

4) Let the Bitching Begin: To compound it all, the Federation ships can get plasma torpedoes (the BCF comes to mind). These tiny F-torpedoes nevertheless pack a huge punch if used correctly. The Gorn Anchor tactic (tractor him, alpha strike, run away) works well with the plasma-F and a few overloaded photons, and follow up with your drones while his weapons are stunned. That will hurt him badly.

With its magnificent weapons selection, the Federation is really a force to reckon with. Now, Mr. Romulan, let's make a deal…I pay you one dollar, you give me cloaking device? No? Two dollar? (Last words of Federation trade representative)

The Fighter Factor

Federation fighters are some of the best in the game at engaging starships. Here's a list on some of the fighters, and my comments on specific tactics:


Hawk I
First Year Available: 2239
Maximum Speed: 26
Damage Points to Destroy: 11
Weapons: 2xPh3, Arc: FH
Comments: THESE SUCK. The Hawk I is only good for point defense. Don't buy them-get a different kind of fighter.

Jay I
First Year Available: 2267
Maximum Speed: 29
Damage Points to Destroy: 10
Weapons: 2xPh3, Arc: FH
Comments: The Hawk I, but weaker. Sure, can fly fast, but since when do you need a point-D force to fly fast?

Vulture I
First Year Available: 2267
Maximum Speed: 25
Damage Points to Destroy: 12
Weapons: 2xPh3 Arc: FH; 1xPhoton, Arc: FH, Shots 1
Comments: Ahh, things are starting to get better! The Vulture is an awesome fighter if you want some extra photons in the air. Try it in early era-goes well with roast Ravens.

Raven I
First Year Available: 2268
Maximum Speed: 25
Damage Points to Destroy: 12
Weapons: 2xPh2 Arc: FH, 1xPh3 Arc: ALL
Comments: A fighter for point-D. I still recommend the Vulture I, since it has more striking power with that photon. However, the Raven will become the Federation's best fighter in later years. Don't discount it yet.


Hawk II
First Year Available: 2268
Maximum Speed: 28
Damage Points to Destroy : 12
Weapons: 3xPh3 Arc: FH
Comments: The point-D fighter in a shiny new package. USELESS-I think of it as a fancy administrative shuttle.

Jay II
First Year Available: 2271
Maximum Speed: 31
Damage Points to Destroy: 12
Weapons: 2xPh3 Arc: FX
Comments: I still like the Hawk better than the Jay. Hawk's got more phasers but less speed. Don't waste your hard-earned prestige on this piece of junk.

Vulture II
First Year Available: 2271
Maximum Speed: 27
Damage Points to Destroy: 14
Weapons: 1xMissile Rack VI, 4 missiles; 1xPhoton, Arc FH, Shots 2
Comments: Ooh, ooh, ooh! The best of the II series fighters. The Vulture II is an assault ship, through and through, with some nasty missiles and of course, that photon.

Raven II
First Year Available: 2272
Maximum Speed: 27
Damage Points to Destroy: 14
Weapons: 3xPh3 Arc: FH; 1xPhoton, Arc FH Shots 2; 1xPh3 Arc: RX
Comments: Much better than that crappy Jay II fighter. Comes with more phasers and a photon too. I prefer a squad of Raven II and one of Vulture II in mid-era.


Hawk III
First Year Available: 2273
Maximum Speed: 28
Damage Points to Destroy : 12
Weapons: 1xPhG, Arc: FH; 1xMissile Rack I, 2 missiles
Comments: A scrappy little ship. I like it! The G is good for either close-in point-D or some extra firepower in a pinch, and the missile can't hurt either.

First Year Available: 2273
Maximum Speed: 31
Damage Points to Destroy: 12
Weapons: 1xPhG, Arc: FH; 1xMissile Rack I, 2 missiles
Comments: I've been bashing the Jay series for too long. Compared to the Hawk III, the Jay is much faster. Nice.

Vulture III
First Year Available: 2275
Maximum Speed: 27
Damage Points to Destroy: 15
Weapons: 1xPhG, Arc: FH; 1xPh2, Arc: FH; 1xPhoton, Arc: FH, Shots 2
Comments: Don't tangle with this ship. The photon hurts, and it has the phaser equivalent of 4 phaser-3s and a phaser-2.

Raven III
First Year Available: 2277
Maximum Speed: 27
Damage Points to Destroy: 14
Weapons: 1xPhG, Arc: FH; 1xPhoton, Arc: FX, Shots 2; 1xMissile Rack I, 4 missiles
Comments: THE BEST FIGHTER!!!! Seriously. The Raven III has the best balance of phasers and offensive weapons.

Now, fighter tactics.

Against the Romulans, Mirak, and Klingons, I prefer to have half of my fighters to be Vultures and the other half to be Ravens. I find that their balance of good defense (Vultures are really good with point-D) and good offense (the photon and missile will give them something to worry about for the time being) is really worth having. And if the Romulan cloaks, send your fighters in to overrun him with their phasers.

Vs. the ISC, any fighter armed with missiles is fine. Stay out of the range of their Plasma-I and Plasma-D torpedoes (using the harass order) and you should be all right, forcing them to waste their phasers on the fighters/drones.

When fighting the Hydrans, use your phaser-armed fighters with a few photons as well. The phasers should be able to knock out a fighter squad or two, and the photon is nice as a last-ditch assault against the Hydran carrier itself. Of course, missiles are useless against the Hydrans because of their phaser-G.

Against the Lyrans or a fellow Fed, photons are VERY, VERY helpful. Both of these races usually do not have power to spare for ECM, and the photons should help in doing damage while you fire your own proximities at that same shield. Keep them out of ESG/AMD range and you have a very large chance of doing damage.

In SFCShadow's strategy guide, one tactic he recommends tractoring all your fighter squadrons and using them for point-D. Unfortunately, you can't tractor more than one object-it was a correction in the patch. The next best thing is to send all of them out on point-D, wait until the foe has fired his weapons, and then tell them to either harass or attack the target, while your ship follows them in. Against most races, this gives you an average of two turns to blast away freely with both your phasers and your fighters' phasers.

Please drop off any more tactics here-I'm always looking for improvements to my Federation carrier techniques.

That's the end of Part One. I'm working on an overview of the ships themselves-that will probably be posted in one to three days.

Captain S'Tasik, XenoCorp Special Task Force
NCC-1982 Valiant