Monday, February 7, 2011

SW:EAW: Forces of Corruption - Zann Consortium Space Units

Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption - Zann Consortium Space Units
This is a hint / walkthrough for units in Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. The index of all our guides for Empire at War: Forces of Corruption is here.

I like to run space battles with no unit losses (unless they are "free" units that are from, for example, space station garrisons), so you won't see tips like "keep calling for reinforcements".
Forces of Corruptions lets you select the first unit to show up, and you can bring in the rest yourself. As there is very little wait time for space reinforcements, this works out quite well for lining up your ships.

In the Forces of Corruption Campaign, as planets become available, some cannot be Corrupted immediately, or you do not have the prerequisites yet for the Corruption you may like. Because you cannot Corrupt a planet you already control, you may have to wait if you want all planets to benefit from some sort of Corruption.

You don't get space units that have staying power until much later in the campaign (after Mission 14, "Cloud City Conflict"; and after Mission 15, "Baiting the Hook", when you get all your high end units and jump to Tech Level 5). If you don't mind losing units, this is not relevant. If, like me, you do hate losing units in battle, then you will have to wait for better ship options before you start building a fleet and clearing enemy fleets.
I therefore did not have an early game fleet, but instead built no ships other than a Tartan Patrol Cruiser for additional support against fighters. Later, when the Vengeance-Class Frigates, Broadside Cruisers, and Marauder Corvettes became available, I put together a fleet of five Vengeance Frigates and five Marauders. When Keldabe-Class Battleships became available, I skipped the flashy Aggressor-Class Destroyers and arranged fleets of four Battleships supported by four Marauders.
Although the Crusader-Class Corvettes can be upgraded to have the interesting point-defense power that can destroy incoming missiles, I still found them too fragile to bring and instead opted to rely on the staying power of very large ships and long-range support fire from missile ships.

When defending against enemy fleets, you can often defend with just strong Space Stations. At planets you really want to keep, you should have the strongest possible Station. In combat, get all the upgrades you can, and spend your free reinforcements like water because only destroyed units are replaced. As long as your station is free of enemy bombers, use suicide runs to destroy long-range bombardment ships like Broadside Cruisers or Marauders and then focus on larger ships when they are in station weapon range to take them down as quickly as possible.

When attacking enemy fleets, seize the ground first if you can, using heroes and Defilers (all of which can ignore fleets in orbit and directly attack the planet). You don't get Bombing Runs, but if you succeed you will destroy the enemy space station as well (like a Rebellion Raid Fleet).

In addition to the Zann Consortium ships, you can build the following ships, but they do not share the ability of all pirate ships to safely enter and hide in asteroid fields:

Starviper-Class Attack Platform
You get the Buzz Droids ability for free at the start of the campaign. The use of this is tricky as the effective radius is small and the enemy tends to immediately move out anyway. Probably best used if you can have enough Starvipers lay down a carpet to protect an area. You cannot, however, target an area on which there is another vessel (such as your own space station). You could try putting it in the way of a committed bombing run, but usually bombers will have fired their payload before actually getting very close to the target.

GAT-12 Skipray Blastboat
The Sensor Jamming ability theoretically lets it be ignored by the enemy and protects it from missiles, but I have yet to notice a discernible different in battle. Also, missiles tend to explode in a dangerous blast radius that can take down whole clouds of fighters and bombers easily even if they haven't been directly hit.
Like all bombers, however, enough of them can be deadly to any large vessel.

Interceptor IV Frigate
The standard pirate Frigate. It has okay firepower but lacks the staying power to really use it unless you have a lot of distracting support to spread out enemy fire (the AI does not generally concentrate on one ship at a time).

The Full Salvo upgrade fires a stream of concussion missiles from the bow, but does so straight out of the ship in the direction it is facing, rather than at whatever it has been set to target--The Interceptor will not turn to face its target first, so for best effect you need to make sure it is facing the right way.

Crusader-Class Corvette
You have access to this ship design after Mission 11 (Visions of the Past), whereupon you get one free ship. It works as a basic anti-fighter corvette. Although the Tartan Patrol Cruiser has the Boost Weapon Power, you might want to switch them all for Crusaders as only pirate ships have the ability to hide in an asteroid field. Also, Tartans do not benefit from Zann Consortium space station upgrades.

Once you have Vengeance Frigates and either Broadside Cruisers or Marauder Corvettes, you can try dropping these corvettes out of your navy: The Vengeance Frigate mass drivers are reasonably good anti-fighter weapons; and if allowed to fire freely, the exploding missiles from Broadside Cruiser and Marauder Corvette can take out whole wings of fighters.

Vengeance-Class Frigate
You have access to this ship design after Mission 14 (Cloud City Conflict), whereupon you get one free ship. At the time, your Tech Level is 3, but the Cloaking Device Tech Level is 4, and it will cost you over 30000 credits to purchase it at Tech Level 3 (less if you control more than one Black Market). Don't build more than one fleet for Mission 15, as shortly after you will get Aggressor Destroyers and Keldabe Battleships.

The Vengeance suffers from the big problem of not having shields. It has staying power, but without shields it starts to lose hardpoints (usually the Engines) very early in the battle. Still, at the time it appears, it is the toughest ship in your navy, and you can field (at 25 points) 5 Vengeance Frigates to shield 5 Broadside Cruisers or Marauder Corvettes.
In such a fleet, the Vengeance does double duty in keeping fighters and corvettes away from your missile barrage ships, and to add their firepower against larger cruisers making suicide runs to get at those missile ships. You are basically holding the line as far away as you can from a space station while allowing your Broadsides or Marauders to continue firing. Your goal is to hit their weapons until they turn to flee, then hit their engines so they can't escape the continuous missile barrage. You will need to retreat heavily damaged Vengeance Frigates, but they are helpfully quite sturdy.

Theoretically the cloaking device can help you sneak close and sight the enemy for long-range bombardment with your Broadsides or Marauders, but the enemy will usually make suicide runs on those anyway, and your Vengeance Frigates are better used to keep them at bay and let the missile barrage continue.

Aggressor-Class Destroyer

You get your first Aggressor in Mission 15 -- Tyber Zann's flagship, the "Merciless". Be careful about it making wide turns because an allied vessel is in the way. You need to more or less point its bow at an enemy ship in order for it to fire its special twin gun or its special charged-up blast, and those swinging turns can mess that up. At the same time, it's not entirely clear how to get it to turn back to its original heading.

One of the main weaknesses of the Aggressor is that it does not have a lot of weapon hardpoints, so it is primarily an anti-cruiser ship using its big gun to help your fleet. Each time the red pulse hits, a chunk of hull is taken off. If you compare it to how much the guns on a Keldabe Battleship can do, it can be about the same.
The initial ion cannon blast can strip off the shield from a powerful vessel quickly, but after that, it really doesn't do anything. Finally, both bolts travel quite slowly, so against even a cruiser that is moving, if you aim for something at the bow or stern, you can actually miss because the vessel has moved or turned by the time the projectile reaches the target.

Note that the main gun will not fire at all unless you manually select a target.

The Self-Destruct power has hardly any radius to it: You practically have to be on top of something to affect it. Otherwise, it will probably just take out some fighters flying over the ship's hull at the time you blow it up.

Keldabe-Class Battleship

You get this after Mission 15 (Baiting the Hook) from Piracy on Mandalore. It is a capital ship and can only be built on certain planets, including Shola, which you can hopefully hold on to during the repeated attacks after meeting Thrawn over Carida.

The Keldabe does not have a flashy main gun, but it has a lot more weapon hardpoints and so is less likely to end up toothless on the battlefield. In the meantime, as you approach a large ship, you can leave it to choose its own targets and spread fire all around to small ships like corvettes and fighters. It is a very poor shot against against fighters despite the mass drivers, so it will need to be supported somehow.

The Leech Shields upgrade is remarkably effective at taking down a shield. How much the weapons are boosted, however, is debatable. You cannot use it on a target without shields up, but otherwise, everything is fair game. Great against space stations so you don't have to waste time taking out the Shield Generator.

Leech Shields is theoretically lousy against the Imperials who like to maximize weapon power at the expense of their own shields, but if you leave the ability on Autofire (i.e., computer controlled), it can fire quickly enough to leech the shields from a reinforcement vessel as it hyperspaces in. A ship hyperspaces in usually at the edge of the map, and then flies very quickly to its designated location (you can watch this on the minimap). With this ability on autofire, as soon as a ship is in range, even if it is in this sort of coming-out-of-hyperspace transit, it can be targeted by the Keldabe Battleship.

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