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Gorn Basics
By: Chredon

This article is an old SFB tactics paper. I found it on the net some time ago. I have emailed the author based on the website I found it from but have recieved no response. Based on the age of the site it is possible that it is no longer upkept. As such I copied the article and placed it here. The article, as stated, was written for SFB. As such it included tactics for using Plasma Bolts and tips for tourny play. These have been removed for the creation of this page.

Welcome, humans, to the page of Gorn Tactics. On this page, you will learn how to use the ships of the Confederation to defeat almost anyone. I, Chredon, am a master with the Gorn, yet even I do not profess complete knowledge. If you know of a tactic that you wish to see included on this page, send it to me and I will add it to the knowledge base.

I will start with a general overview of Gorn ships, their strengths and weaknesses, and a general philosophy for Gorn strategy, then I will branch into specific tactics that are of general use. At the end, I will list my favorite tactics for tournament play against the various opponents.

This page will most likely ALWAYS be a work in progress. Tactics are like water: they constantly adapt to their surroundings.

Overview of Gorn Ships

Gorn cruisers can best be characterized as tough. They have a large section of center hull that protects their power systems from internal damage for quite some time. A volley of 20 internals is of no consequence to a Gorn cruiser. They can also be characterized as fast. Their low weapons holding cost usually affords them 4-6 more discretionary warp power than their opponents, which allows them to either move faster or employ that power to enhance their attack strategy. However, Gorn cruisers, and Gorn ships in general, are also poorly maneuverable, with turn modes that are almost always worse than their opponent's size class for size class. On the cruisers, however, this deficit is in some ways offset by the Gorn's wrap-around phaser arcs and broadside-mounted plasma torps. While the ships do have a forward centerline bias, they can keep enough weapons on you in almost any arc to be a deterrent, and a threat.
Smaller Gorn ships, from the Command Destroyer on down, are not as tough as their larger brethren. The HDD takes damage like a Klingon (4 forward hull, 8 rear), and the regular destroyers are even worse. (The Battle Destroyer line is a much superior ship to the regular DD.) In many cases, it is perferable to use an unrefitted CA when most players would use an HDD. For about the same price, you get more phaser-1s and a tougher ship, though less plasma.

And never forget that your Phaser-1s are your primary weapon! The purpose of plasma is to herd your opponent, and deliver the killing blow when the time arrives. The Phasers are there to do internals after the plasma has taken down the shield. A combined phaser barrage from a Gorn is often more damaging than the plasma. Phasers cannot be run away from.

An important feature of all Gorn ships, and one that is often overlooked, is the balcony and track system attached to the large shuttle bays. (Gorns have 50% more shuttles than most other ships! And some of those are 8-to-kill GAS shuttles, too!) With the balcony system, it is possible to launch all of your shuttles on the same impulse, which is useful for consolidating them, confusing enemy fire, or cutting through ESGs. In an emergency, a shuttle on the Balcony can also be taken as a hull hit, giving you up to six (on the cruiser) extra hull boxes at the expense of your shuttles. (Often a useful tactic against Andromedans, who are mostly immune to shuttle tricks.)

If Gorns have a weakness, it is their inability to defend against drones. Against drone users, too much of the Gorn phaser fire must be tasked to drone defense, leaving the plasma as the primary offensive weapon. It is therefore a good idea to develop anti-drone tactics that avoid the use of phasers as much as possible. Several are outlined below.

The Gorn fighters (G18s and G20s) are fairly strong, and their D torps are a decent weapon against most fighters and, if massed, against ships as well. But the prize of their attrition fleet is their Pteradactyl P/F. It is one of the strongest P/Fs in the game, with 3 phaser-1s and 4 f-torps. A Flotilla of these things can swallow a DN in one gulp. (6 F-torps = 120 backed up by 18 Ph-1s. BOOM!)

Overview of Gorn Tactics
Most players divide Gorn tactics into two categories: Anchor tactics and the Plasma Ballet. While this is a complete oversimplificaiton of the diversity of the ship's abilities, it does provide a good starting point for a tactical discussion, so I will cover these two extremes first.

The Gorn Anchor
The Gorn Anchor is the consummate tractor tactic. Since the primary defenses against plasma are A) speed and B) wild weasels, the anchor was developed to counter both. Basically, you get close to an opposing ship, tractor it, then launch plasma. While under tractor, the ship cannot launch shuttles, thus thwarting the weasel, and of course, pseudo speeds will not allow it to run from the plasma. This tactic is, however, not easily employed simply because most players know it and are looking out for it. It is best employed on disruptor-armed ships, since it is possible to get close to them while still relatively undamaged owing to the low damage output of the disruptor and the fact that they cannot be held. This gives the diruptor player little reserve for anti-tractor work unless he leaves his disruptors uncharged. It can also be employed on other races during their recharging turn. But I do not advise trying it against any race with a high close-range direct fire capability, such as the Hydrans or Feds. While the anchor can be performed over a turn break, it is best performed such that the close, anchor, launch, and impact all occur during the same turn, giving your opponent no chance to realign his power to deal with the tractor.
The problem with the Gorn Anchor is that it requires you to be able to close with your opponent, tractor him, hold plasma, and defend yourself against his weapons, all at once. Against disruptor races, you can use your phasers to cut through drones (Kzin, Klingon) or your shuttles to nose through an ESG (Lyran). Against other races, it is best to catch them during the off turn for their heavy weapons. Also, remember that you can still launch your plasma up to 8 impulses after they are destroyed. So even if you take a few internals on the way in, you can still win as long as you have a tractor left and enough power to use it.

Which brings up another problem. Gorn cruisers have only two tractors, so it is possible to lose them to Mizia attacks on the approach. Make sure your opponent doesn't get them both, and always guard them against hit-and-run raids.

The Plasma Ballet

The Plasma Ballet is almost the opposite of the Gorn Anchor. This tactic uses your ship's extra power in an attempt to keep range open between you and your enemy while using medium-range plasma to weaken shields until he had none left. The idea is to stay at ranges of 12-15 while launching one or maybe two plasmas per turn, then re-arming while your opponent deals with the plasma you launched. Judicious use of pseudo-plasma can run the tactic out for many, many turns, making for a very long game. This tactic is good to use against ships with lot of close-in crunch power, especially the Feds. It does not work well against the Hydrans because their Gatlings will just chew through a medium-range torp and they will keep coming. But if you can stay at range and hit with enough plasma to weaken their shields sufficiently, then you can go in and kill them with phasers.
The difficulty in employing the Ballet is threefold. One, the board is only so big, so there is only so far that you can run. Two, your ship is not very maneuverable, and your opponent may be able to predict where you need to go in order to get your armed torps on him, and use that against you. Three, it takes a long time to fully re-arm a plasma, so you may not have enough time to get reloaded before you need it.

Some things that help in these regards are a carful analysis of turn modes and speed changes, to make your turns a little quicker. Likewise, if you launch plasma near the end of a turn, it will be back quicker. (A plasma launched on impulse 32 will be back in 65 impulses, whereas one launched on impulse 1 will be back in 96 impulses.) You can also fast-load your heavy torps to get something on the board a little faster, if absolutely necessary.

This tactic does not work well against disruptor races, since they can plink at long range very well, and their drones will wear down your power curve with phaser fire, making it more difficult for you to maintain range. They also have the option of dropping their disruptors for a turn and putting all their power into catching you. It works most poorly against the Tholians, since they can catch your torp in a Web and run around it to get to you.

Anchor vs Ballet: Analysis
As stated above, the choice of whether to anchor or dance Bolshoi depends upon your opponent and his capabilities, and other factors of the game. In some cases, you make a decision to anchor and just go for it, regardless of all else. (This is a good idea against disruptor races.) In other cases, you ballet until shields are weak, then perhaps go in on an anchor attempt or a phaser overrun. I have found the Ballet to be useful in the early game, but I have never won a game on the ballet alone. There will come a time when the opportunity presents itself to close and hose, and you have to be aware of that timing and take that opportunity. Especially in tourney games, you don't have enough time, power, or room to string the ballet out long enough to win the game. However, you can string it out long enough to lull your opponent into a false sense of security, or to make him drop power to his Weasels in order to better catch you. When you turn in and come gunning for him, it might be the (last) surprise of his life.

Other Tactics

When to Envelope: Enveloping plasma torps can be quite useful. They generally frighten less experienced players into running away, or coerce more experienced player into running right through them. In any case, the time to envelop is a critical decision. If you are going for an Anchor kill, never envelop. After all, you want all of your damage concentrated on one shield, not spread out. If you have gone for a ballet-style game, the use of envelopers early can weaken all your opponents shields for a later phaser overrun. On the other hand, you might use normal torps until a shield is weak, then envelop to make sure you get some damage on the weak shields. You can also use an enveloper to herd your opponent into a corner. Envelopers are very effective against Andromedans if you can hit with them, and even if you can't, they scare the pants off of Andys. Watch 'em run!

When to Shotgun: Almost never. It's not nearly as effective against fighters as some claim, since fighters have so many options on how to deal with them. The only effecitve shotgun tactic I've ever employed was to use them in multi-ship engagements. Two shotgunned S-torps will put 40 points of plasma on three ships, as opposed to 30 points of plasma on two. But heavy weapons are too expensive to use for drone defense, and too avoidable to use as fighter defense. Overall, I prefer to use other weapons as defense and use shotguns on offense, if at all.

Box him in the corner: In any closed-map game, holding the center of the board is like holding the high ground in a battle. This is doubly true for plasma. If you can take the center of the board and use plasma (preferably psuedo) to herd your opponent into a corner of the board, then you can trap him in 'the box.' The Box is an area of the board that he can't get out of without getting hit by plasma, bounded on two sides by the edge of the map and on the other two by rows of hexes that plasma can get to before he can. This forces your opponent to either eat the plasma or weasel it, either of which can give you an instant tactical advantage.

Back into combat
: One thing to note about the Gorn cruisers: They have just as many phasers fring aft as the do forward. If you've been in combat for a while and your forward shields are weak, stop, turn, and charge to the rear! Go into combat in reverse. Phaser arcs are exactly the same, and you don't lose too much from your plasma broadside, plus you have overlapping plasma arcs where your weak shields are.

Anti-Weasel Tricks

MERRY-GO-ROUND: If an opponent has stopped to weasel your plasma, launch more plasma such that the weasel is one hex in direction B or F in relation to the plasma, then shoot the weasel, stopping it. The second set of plasma, since it can never be forced to use its HET, will orbit the dead weasel until your opponent does something to void it. Always look for opportunities to employ the plasma merry-go-round to force your opponent to stay under weasel longer than he wanted, or to expend two weasels against one wave of plasma.
EAT THE WEASEL: If your opponent had weaseled to prevent you from tractoring him (which a lot of opponents will do when they can see that the anchor is coming), move into the weasel's hex, tractor it and drag it into your shuttle bay. This immediately voids the weasel. Next impulse, you can tractor him before he can get another shuttle out.

COMMANDO: Use Commandos to do a H&R raid on the weasel. 1/3 of the time, you'll void the weasel. Another 1/3 of the time, you'll destroy it. Either way, it's one less weasel, and it's a 33% chance of hitting with plasma or drawing another weasel. Of course, it requires having Commandos as a Commander's option, but one Commando squad can win the game for you. Take it.

Anti-Drone Tricks

Here are some suggestions of how to cut through drone waves. Because drone defense was not a high priority on Gorn ships, they have trouble with massive waves of drones, or even fairly large ones. This section lists several options of handling drones without severely depleting your tactical options.
T-BOMB: One of the preferred methods of drone defense. A single 4-point T-bomb can take out any number of drones. The simple threat of them is enough to get your opponent to string them out instead of stacking them.

SHUTTLE SWARM: Launch 3-4 shuttles into an area and drag the drones back through it, adding their phaser fire to your own.

SUICIDE: Use suicide shuttles to take out a couple. No need to use the 18-pointer you came in with. A cheap 6-pointer will do for most drones, and can be armed during the game.

THE TESUJI METHOD: It might be a little difficult to arrange, but in multi-ship engagements, blow up an opponent's ship while it's within range of a dozen drones. A massed phaser strike or a plasma bolt barrage can do this, killing any number of birds with one stone, so to speak.

: If you can force your opponent to weasel, he has to drop tracking to the drones.

TRACTOR: Tractor a couple of the drones before they hit you. Destroy them at your leisure. Rotate them behind you where you can kill them with rear-firing weapons.

4-14 WEASEL Arrange to have the drones close to you at the turn break, then use a beginning speed of 4 until the drones impact the weasel, then quickly speed up to 14. Limits your movement options for one turn, but you can use plasma to keep the bad guys off you while you gain speed. Can be used in concert with the Back Into Combat maneuver to both kill some drones and get you turned around.

D-TORPS: In larger games, bring in BDEs or Pteradactyl-Ds to provide D-torp drone defense. Or have one ship with the D-refit instead of the F refit to provide D torps for defense.

Notice that nowhere in this treatise did I mention using offensive phasers to shoot drones.


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