Although smaller in capacity that other vessels of its type, the Falchion's impressive defences make it a perfect support vessel. Able to fill the area around it with Fighters and Interceptors to protect the Fleet while its broadsides make the enemy think twice about flanking attacks, the Falchion keeps the other vessels safe from enemy aggression so that they can focus on dealing out devastating volleys.
Everyone gets a carrier and we get the Falchion, a pure brick of a model that has the endurance of a light battleship and is costed as one of the cheapest in the game. The Dindrenzi Carrier is a min-maxed tool that must be employed carefully to get the best effect. The Falchion can either feel underwhelming or extremely powerful, as wings can be in this game. With careful practice however, you will find they more than suitably complement the Dindrenzi playstyle by there slightly offbeat execution which relies more on clever target priority than focused Fore Fixed bombardments.
As stated in pretty much the opening paragraph, the Falchion is tough. WIth 8HP and the highest CR of any of the Battleships, it can take some shock attacks and even a few concerted heavier blows in stride. The great thing about this defensive setup is that your opponent needs to either commit to multilpe rounds of nickle and dime attacks, or go all out for a series of heavy hits or criticals. In the opening rounds of the game, a balanced force that contains a number of RB1-3 focused ships are going to really take advantage of this.
It brings a full set of wings to the table. Something true for all Carriers and while it doesnt bring them in exceptional numbers like the Aquan, Terran or Ryushi can, its still pretty damn impressive how much damage a full wing of Bombers can do. In this game, if you can run a Carrier alongside even a moderately damaged battleship or dreadnought a six strong token of bombers will devastate them quickly. Carriers and their wings are defeated often one of two ways: Hard Counters to the offensive wings, or the destruction of the carrier. As stated above, the high endurance of the Carrier will force an opponent to lean more on dealing with the wings. This is where the Deck Crews Upgrade kicks in, further enhancing this models ability to attrition an opponent.
Taking some time out to talk about wings, the way that you can configure this model will be different based on whether or not you take the Wing Hardpoint upgrade or not. A squadron that can bring a Wing squadron to maximum strength is alot more valuable than one that cannot. I will go through my favourite configurations when covering the upgarde options later.
The Forward torpedoes on this ship are a nice little add-on. 10AD isnt too shabby when paired with some Cruisers and its a nice little indirect threat to tag an enemy Tier 3 squadron with some early damage. Doubled up with linked firepower with the Cruisers, this squadron hits for a Battleship threatening 15AD in RB2. But the squadron also keeps a higher than average amount of dice to use from the 24-48" bracket to use if you play it slow. Remember, though that the main function of the Falchion is to deliver its wings to the fight and so sticking back and playing the long game isnt going to be a good way to spend the near 300pts you might be spending on a set of Cruisers and a Carrier.
The final and most notable advantage of the Falchion is how potent its attachment squadrons are. From Bucklers to Gladius, a Falchion squadron can be scaled up or down into a real powerhouse. Since starting this topic, I have extended my experience with these models to include tests involving both Gladius Gunships and Secutor Cruisers in my games. The potential attained from this union is pretty outstanding, for starters. A Falchion squadron with a pair of Gladius are able to output terrifying firepower on a broadsides rather than a fore fixed attack. This is fairly unique among the Dindrenzi and it gives you a powerful squadron than can find targets easily. When backed up with a flight of Bombers, this formation can manage to throw out more dice than any other squadron in the Dindrenzi arsenal!
For all that is good about the Falchion though, it carries with it some unfortunate drawbacks that makes it unfortunate among Carriers. For starters:
The Falchion lacks any special protection outside of its high HP and CR. WIthout Cloak, access to shields of any sort, defensive MARs or even high DR its a damage sponge for middling attacks that should be able to find purchase on this model throughout the game. This means that while a Falchion cant be finished off quickly, it can take some hits very quickly.
Terribly low AD values combined with inflexible weapons means that it loses its relevance to direct battles very quickly. Its two broadsides weapon systems will degrade twice as fast and its highest AD value is a pretty measly 6AD in RB2. Three points of damage in and the Falchion hits like a wet fish, this is one of the reasons why attachments are such a good idea for this guy. Its also worth mentioning that unlike a pure Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Battle Cruiser or Battleship squadron, the Falchion has a hard time using its mines offensively.
Also, the Falchion unlike every other Carrier in the game so far, has a option to pick only a single hardpoint. These options I will cover later but the total impact this decision has on the model doesn't really shake it up too much and you will find that game after game the Falchion will be serving you as a mid range Brawling Carrier that leans on its wings for its contributions.
The Falchion starts of cheap, and even after selecting its upgrades, hardpoints and wings this model remains quite cost effective averaging around 160 pts. all told. Speaking of upgrades, its hard not to go past Deck Crews. It probaly will only get you 10pts of wings back on the table on average game after game, but that is often enough to keep your options open for who you want to hit and what results you can get. The extension of this style of attrition is valuable, especially when the Carrier can last so long it is an essential pick that still leaves the Falchion cheaper than many carriers are BEFORE they purchase there upgrades. In short, always get this upgrade unless you really need those 10pts somewhere else.
Next we have hardpoints. Mostly this is going to be a toss up between Wings and Ablative removal. The removal of Ablative armor just adds that little extra insurance against the late game forcing an extra attack/activation to finish you off which can easily be worth the 10pts if you play your carrier aggressively. On the flipside, the modest increase of Wings +2 is enough to open up a new support squadron to the table which I will discuss in detail below. Movement is on the cards as well, but I have had not enough experience with it to say whether or not this discount purchase can leverage its worth in a game just yet.
Now what follows is just some general advice about wings and can be applied to any faction however it matters a great deal to the Falchion so I will paste it below:
The capacity, speed and endurance of the Carrier in question is always important when determining what you need and when building a force. Speaking for the vast majority of such models, you will be gaining something between 3 to 12 wings depending on which model or upgrade you are using. Some types of Wings function better with larger squadrons than others while others experience diminishing returns as they get larger and larger.
Fighters, Bombers and Assaulters are better in larger numbers. A fighters and Bombers lose their offensive value when reduced to size of two or lower. 4 to 6 AD isnt that useful against anything but Frigates and certain Cruisers and therefore you should avoid placing these Wing types in squadrons that start at three or lower. Assaulters also will face an uphill battle when dealing with most worthy targets that you will find have an AP value of 3 or even higher. This is even without the concern that low wing count models might even be driven off by non-interceptor point defence attacks. Without Deck Crews or other wing replenishing tech on hand, a wing attritioned to this point will probaly cease to be relevant after a few attack runs.
Fortunately, many of the rules favour the attackers in this instance, and if you plan your targets and attack route carefully, a wing can be exposed to minimal loses save for some sour luck. In the end, only a 6 will destroy a Wing from any point defence attack and if you can endure the storm long enough you will find that you can make a fair showing with your attack runs. Remember to be aggressive and move your Carrier close enough to take advantage of any opportunities you make. You can be a bit more creative if you have access to the Quick Launch MAR, this feature adds a significant threat extension to any Wing formation you deploy.
Meanwhile Support Shuttles and Interceptors do not need to have large squadron sizes. A Support Shuttle can be a life saver in the middle of a turn when a bad critical disables shields, movement or firepower. Regardless of how many Support Shuttles are present in the token, at most only a single repair roll can be made. Such a repair roll will always fail on a roll of a 1 and therefore only at most a wing size of 3 is nessasary to get the best chance of success. In some extreme cases you might need to take advantage of a full set of support shuttles however in most instances a more modest complement is nessasary. Interceptors and Support Shuttles by there nature are defensive tools, they can help you not lose a game but they wont make you win it.
With these two facts in mind, consider what you want out of the wing capacity you have on hand. For instance, a Eliminator with its single un-upgraded wing value makes a poor choice for either a bomber or fighter wing. Too low AD to get any meaningful effect, too fragile to do any meaningful damage and provides less PD than a single Interceptor could. Even a single support shuttle gives you a 50/50 chance to clear a menancing critical effect before its effect kicks in.
Expanding this example to an upgraded Eliminator or even a base Nexus or Maelstrom Battleship. A wing value of 3 gives you some options. For starters the Interceptors triple in efficency and even roll enough dice to drive off wing sized four or lower on average dice rolls. A boost of 6 PD is enough to stonewall even concerted torpedo attacks in the vicinity and the Support Shuttles now are providing the best chance at repair and roll enough D6 when performing a medical run that you can recover from hard poundings or persistant Biohazard attacks over time. In the same vein, you now can start to consider Bombers, Fighters or Assaults but perhaps only the latter is worth serious consideration depending on what synergies you bring. A wing size of 3 will be at the mercy of any half decent PD wall that can muster a just a single kill, they will never be able to reliably critical a battleship and of course a token of just two Interceptors will probaly drive them off. Still, for 15pts, a trio of Fighters can pick off or plink damage onto a Frigate squadron skirting the edges of RB2 while the flexibility of a potential 9AD in an attack run might be fine if you are already flush with PD through escorts or simply having racial access to good shields or PD like Ryushi.
Moving into Carrier territory. 5 to 6 Wings is where the Fighters and Bombers truely shine. Providing enough AD to kill a CR5-6 Frigate, Fighters make a good choice at this range if you are confident with your heavy hiitters. A Fighter wing moved aggressively can threaten 31" into the field on the top of turn 2 giving you the chance to start dealing quick and early. Even some battleships like the Nexus or Nausicaa are pretty weak against this sort of attack. Bombers similarly can swing for massive hits and will be able to frequently score critical hits on some of the more formidible models in the game. The same goes for Assaulters who should be able to threaten battleships with their high AP values and with enough persistance, critical hits or biohazard strikes you might eventually be able to capture or overcome them!. It would be an odd game that calls for that many Support Shuttles but truely massive engagements, you might find a use for a dedicated Interceptor vessel. A squadron of 5 to 6 Interceptors provides enough qualtity PD to be effective immunisation against Torpedo or Wing attacks. Any attack run made should be handily driven off with decent casualties to the enemy and skunk an activation. Hard counters when used right will give you a solid upper hand but be careful, the offensive initiative lies firmly with your opponent if they can out manuever your Interceptors their value will be undermined if they cant protect the right targets.
When we move into the Wings 6+ category for our Carriers, its probaly a good idea to go for a strong offensive wings backed up by a smaller defensive wing. 6/2, 5/3. are good splits for such arrangements and will let you perform multiple roles well. Remeber that you can only launch a single token regardless of size each turn. This means that if you go all out with offensive wings, you will create a bottle neck on the Carrier where you will be unable to project that same high offense in the coming turns. Even with this drawback, a one-two punch from 12 Bombers in a single turn has the potential to knock even an enemy Dreadnaught out of the fight in a single turn. Thats something that is worth considering.
Fighters: With 18" of movement, you have alot of leightway to drive around an enemy squadron and potentially avoid alot of point defence. Likewise, you can even drive through an enemy token while making an attack run to perform a Dog Fight. This is a great way to deal with smaller enemy wings or Support Shuttles. Buzzing the tower so to speak, you can hit these squadrons with some PD before performing your attack run on an enemy model.
Bombers: Pick targets wisely, a damaged capital ship is truely at the mercy of a full flight of Bombers. If you can see a situation where you can get dominance on an enemy model, take it and try to finish the fight before their home Carrier is lost. Also its possible to fly into Support Shuttles or other enemy wings if you see the advantage in it prior to performing your attack run.
Interceptors: Remember, you have control over the timing of your Interception movement. With PD dice against enemy wings counting as a hit on a 3+, it can be very easy to drive off enemy wings this way. However show some patience, wait until an enemy wing has been hit with any available PD during its attack run and wait until the last moment to perform your Intercept move. If you are lucky, the enemy wing might have lost a point or two and a drive off result will be made that much easier. Remember also that you must return to base if you end up outside of your Carriers command distance afterwards and therefore it might be nessasary to strike earlier if you want to keep your Interceptors on the board.
Assaulters: Best taken in fleets that are supplementing there support with CP reducing effects. Right now the DIrectorate are the kings of this strategy, a good Cyberwafare strike to shut down life support and a biohazard and hard pounding later and you might be able to prize an entire battleship off three points of damage. Its been done and its nasty, be mindful of the slow movement of these guys and be sure to be in the right spot to take advantage of these opportunties when they arise.
Support Shuttles: Remember that support shuttles are slow. With 8" of movement and the need to be in base to base with a model to perform their actions, make sure that you place them on the right side of an affected model if you want to chain there effects. Support Shuttles are also limited to affect models within the command distance of the Carrier as they cannot make attack runs. Careful placement is essential if you want them to be reactive to changing circumstances.
When playing as Dindrenzi, my typical Carrier loadout is going to be either 6 Bombers or 6 Fighters. When purchasing the Wing hardpoint which I am oft to do, that typically expands to a squadron of 6 Bombers with 2 Interceptors or a squadron of 5 Fighters and three Interceptors. The former is good for punching holes in enemy capital ships. The later is simply a great reactionary force, the Interceptors keep the pressure off the Carrier from torpedo attacks and the Fighters are an easy way to clean up enemy Tier 3's that arent worth the glory which is death by railgun. The Dindrenzi dont have too many synergies with boarding outside of High Energy but Assaulters are still a worthy alternative to any list.