Sunday, November 6, 2016

Advanced List building: Bump those Groups!

I AM SO CONFUZZLED! Why are there two types of groups!

Yes. I made a word up and it is a combination of Confused and Fuzzy. Yes they are near enough the same thing. 

Ok, for those of you still here. This post is all about how Groups work in Dropfleet Commander. I will be going over the Stat Group and the Group Rule. There is a difference, I promise so bear with my special kind of crazy for a little longer.

Stat Group? Group Rule? What Shaltnanigans is this! 
(Thank you Sting Wing for that word. . . makes me chuckle every time)

Yes, this is all Shaltnanigans. In the beta there was Group the stat that you see on a ship profile. Now its time for a horribly pieced together paint image!

I warned you. So the three ship profiles I have here are the PHR Ganymede-class Assault Troopship which has a group stat of 1, a Scourge Harpy-class Frigate which has a group stat of 2-4, and lastly an Shaltari Azurite-class Light Cruiser which has a group of 2-3. This means that when you build a battlegroup (which you can now do via DFlist beta , all hail Matti for his great work!) and put a ship in one of the three slots available to you, you use the Group Stat as the minimum and maximum number of ships for just that slot. You can add that group a second time but it will take up a second slot.

So for instance, using the above picture, in the Line Battlegroup, you can take the previously mentioned Azurite-class Light Cruiser in a group of two and if you wanted two more you would need to take a second group which would take up two of your three available slots. 

What is the Group Rule?

Now for the difference between the Group Stat and the Group Rule. The Group Stat ONLY matters for list building purposes. After that the Battlegroup will fall under the Group rule. What the Group Rule does is it creates a "squadron". . . Hmmmm I guess Flotilla is a better word but still not quite. . . Division is the best word! (Thank you Geeks of New England!)

So let us look at that Line Battlegroup we created earlier. Right now it looks something like this.

So that is what the Battlegroup looks like, but due to the Group Rule, these four ships actually create a "Division" (yea, I like that, I am sticking with it!) and so they now have to maintain Coherency, and activate all as one Group for the game. This means they would have to be within 6" of a fellow ship in this battlegroup.

Now, you may be asking yourself "Why is this useful to know?". Well, Divisions of ships under the Group Rule attack and move as one, so you roll all attacks targeting the same target at the same time. Lets look at a Close Action Group to get a better feeling of this.

Here we have a Division of 12 Scourge Djinn-class Frigates. This is two Groups that would cost 516 points (so not for a 1500 point game). They have a weapon called the Plasma Storm that rolls d6+2 to determine the number of shots it will get. Now a group of ships attacks a ship with Close Action Weapons, you pool that entire groups attack into one attack if they are targeting the same ship. So in this case you could have this Division of ships rolling 12d6+24 dice to determine how many shots it will get (hint, it is a LOT! roughly 66 dice on average). All of these would hit that one ship and it only gets a single Point Defense save and then its standard armor save.

Pros and Cons of a Division:

The use of a Division has a few benefits. The first is that it allows Close Action Weapons to mass their firepower thus making it easier to overwhelm an opponents Point Defense. Another is that it provides a VERY scary force for your opponent to encounter. While the strategy rating gets extremely high for ships above the Light Tonnage fast, Divisions feel made for Light Ships. This turns these normally weaker ships into units of carnage!

Something to watch for, Carriers when using Launch Assets do so by Battlegroup. So if your opponent has three Carriers spread out in between three Battlegroups, and you have three carriers in a single battlegroup, you will have to decide to use your Carriers for mass bombers, mass fighters, or potentially mix fighters and bombers all at one time while your opponent can choose three different times.

Another consideration is that ships that are apart of a Division need to maintain Coherency. This means that those Troopships will have to be no more than 6" from each other and so will have to focus on just one sector. The PHR get around this sort of with the fact that they have two different troopships, but even then, they have to be at 12" or suffer a penalty to their Strategy Rating.

Ship explosions are another consideration. Due to the nature of the Crippling Chart, it is quite possible to watch your Division of Frigates go up like fireworks, one popping after another when they explode from the Catastrophic Damage table. This can be mitigated however with a bit of cunning. When ships explode due to the Catastrophic Damage table, you roll a d6 and the explosion travels that far out in inches, for Frigates it is d3 inches, this explosion only affects ships on the same layer. What you can do to mitigate this for Frigates is to have your ships 2" from each other and every other one at a different layer. So, the first ship is in High Orbit, the second is 2" away from the first and is in Low Orbit, the third is 2" away from the second and 4" from the third. . . You know what. . .tis image time!

So its not the greatest picture out there but give me some credit, I did do some work on it. . . There is a direct downside to this type of setup. The ships not on the same orbital layer as their target increase their Lock Value by 1. So those lovely 3+ shots are now 4+. This does not constitute as a separate attack however so for Point Defense purposes, Shield Booster, and maybe some future abilities, it is still the same attack, just different "to hit" values.


Creating Divisions can be a a two edge sword. Test what works out for you. See what does not. As I love to say, don't take my word for it. Test, test, test!

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Remember, the enemy's base is always down.


  1. Has this been confirmed by Hawk (and where?) or is this just your interpretation??

    1. Has what been confirmed? It states it in the rules, that all ships of the same class in a battlegroup form a single Group.

      First you build your list, and as Damion said, you use the Group Stat and the Battlegroup limits to determine how many Groups of how many ships you take in that BG. Then in the game, all of the ships of the same class in the same BG form a functioning Group.

      It's not immediately intuitive, and they don't go into a whole lot of reinforcing the idea as to why they do this in-game, but it's pretty clear from the rules that this is what happens. Kinda sucks that they have an "illegal" example, should've dropped one of the cruisers out of that picture, but it still conveys/reinforces what happens with all of the ships of the same class.

  2. Great article. I'm finding a battlegroup with two groups of Amethysts, which naturally combine into one group during game play once list building is done, to be very effective. It's a very deadly fast reaction or alpha strike force.

    1. They are VERY effective. Once your opponents learn that you are using these more often and are not sure where to go, recommend Gun frigates to counteract them.