The FGS knew full well that, as the coming war developed, they would need command ships that could efficiently coordinate their battle groups whilst far from operational bases. With this in mind they commissioned the design and production of the formidable Praetorian Class Battleship. To best fulfil this role, a vessel with a high degree of self-sufficiency was created. Whilst lacking some of the direct firepower that has made the Nausicaa infamous, the Praetorian supplements it' still impressive weaponry with a host of other systems. Twinned torpedo batteries provide flexible long range support fire, while powerful gun racks can put out a punishing barrage as close quarter defence. A modest hangar can support a complement of light craft; either for defence, maintenance or aggressive use depending on the nature of its mission. However, it is the Praetorian's state-of-the-art command centre which truly sets the vessel apart, supplying the Fleet Commander and operations team with comprehensive data and permitting clear communication with the other vessels in the fleet, even under the most challenging circumstances.
The Praetorian Class Battleship is a completely different beast to anything else within the Federations arsenal. Its also one of the more tricky ones to use and must be handled with respect if you expect to be triumphant against your foes.
Built as a command ship, that also encompasses a complement of SRS tokens as well as improved broadsides, turn limit, open arc torpedoes and finally it has a competent boarding complement that aids it in both offensive and defensive boarding actions Naturally coming with so many of its weaknesses being augmented along with bonus features, the Praetorian pays for these features in both its increased points cost, and diluting of its natural strengths. Its RB2 Fore Fixed Railgun has had a non-trivial reduction of 2AD making this weapon system often inferior to its rivals primary weapons. Its ability to lay mines has also been completely stripped as an option for this ship as well, preventing some of the squadron devastating antics that the Nausicaa is capable of. The Praetorian is also slower than the Nausicaa or many other ships for that matter with no hardpoint options available to increase its speed.
In short, the Praetorian is more well rounded and equipped with tools to tackle almost any task, however lacks the brutality of its rival and its sheer cost effectiveness. Maximizing each feature of the Praetorian in every engagement is the best way to get the most out of this truly devastating model. Let's start by looking at its options.
For hardpoints, it can choose between:
• +3 Wings
• +2 AP
• Ops Centre
• Launch Tubes
• Ablative Armor Removal.
The Upgrades available are also equally compelling.
• Deck Crews
• High Energy
• Split Fire
• Assault Blitz
Finally, it has the option of attaching Bucklers/Retarius to its squadron, along with other Zenian Escorts which so far only includes the Siren Class Escort, a natural ally and good friend to the Dindrenzi Federation.
Again, while players are free to make up their own mind with how they choose to upgrade their ships, I will list one of my preferred builds alnog with others I have used predominately in the following makeup.
The Praetorian gets far better use out of the Ablative Armor removal upgrade than the Nausicaa does. With both better Torps, an indirect and non-degrading weapon to go along with the damage independant SRS who can recover from their loses over time with Deck Crews. The Praetorian for me is one of the ships I rarely don't remove the Ablative Armor on. It is a real shame because that hardpoint could easily be used on Ops Centre (Always helpful) and Launch Tubes (For synergy), but as with my recommendations for this upgrade above. It is something that I often feel compelled to take. My next two upgrades are for Wings and AP, each improving these systems to a highly competitive level. This transforms the Praetorian into a Hybrid, Battleship/Assault Carrier/Battle Carrier, in that it can mix up its functions between these roles. Its already high AP is boosted to a level where it should not be concerned with anything outside of an overwhelming assault and with access to Assault Blitz, you can launch yourself against lightly damged targets with the expectation of success. Finally of course is the wings upgrade. Its the whole reason to field the Praetorian is the fact it bring a decent amount of SRS to the field. Taking one without its Wings upgrade is missing out on a very large dimension of this model.
Upgrades for me are fairly simple. I tend to take all of them but if points get tight and I need to go on a budget, the first two that get sacrificed are Split Fire and Assault Blitz in that order. Assault Blitz is extremely valuable against hard boarding targets. While it halves the amount of PD an affected boarding target gets to make, you could achieve the same results over time by simply wearing away the targets PD with old fashion attrition. The Split Fire MAR is great if the Praetorian is pristine or close to full health, however after three or four points of damage, splitting any of the remaining AD on the Praetorian becomes a bit of a gamble, but not a big one at 5pts.
On high Energy and Deck Crews however, I cannot understate how important they are to the overall function of this ship. At 5pts each, the synergy they have with both boarding and the wings complement is essential. The Praetorian should deploy its wings against medium and soft targets and avoid PD nests or enemy Interceptors at all costs. If you can keep the loses low, then Deck Crews should be able to keep you flying a squadron at full or near full health. With my Praetorian I either go for a mixed support sh (x3 Interceptors with x2 Support Shuttles), a small/medium hunter squadron (x5 Fighters) or a sledgehammer style anti-capital ship approach (x5 Bombers/Assaulters, leaning towards Assaulters). Dont underestimate how being a wing down from the full 6 affects how much risk you can put on your SRS squadrons. High Energy of course is very cheap, but the synergy it has with the high boarding potential is not something to be ignored. At worst, it can do nothing and you wasted 5pts. Often it will affect 1 maybe 2CP off a target vesel but on great days, between Decompression Criticals and the odd unlucky rolls of 1, it can strip 4 or 6 points of CP off a target enemy Large before you reach boarding range. This is rare and a bit luck dependent, but no other vessel in the Dindrenzi so far is as well equipped to deal with this set of circumstances than the Praetorian.
Finally Escorts. Take some, you are probaly going to end up with a squadron that costs up to 300pts but the cumulative effect of these ships are not to be underestimated. Also, the Buckler can throw in its single AP to further sweeten the deal when it comes to assaults.
When deploying the Praetorian, you probably are going to be taking it a bit more forward than you would a Nausicaa or Retribution. Its not fast and dawdling upfield just to keep using its 14AD railgun is a waste of all those extra points you spent on it. If at all possible, deploy it in formation with other high priority targets. Nothing helps a battleship like the Praetorian more than threat saturation. Also dont be afraid to deploy it into a terrain heavy environment. Between its upgraded torps, free ranging SRS wings and upgraded broadsides it can handle these things better than a Nausicaa or Retribution might. Finally and perhaps most importantly of all, pick a job for your Praetorian.
That job will hinge on what upgrades, hardpoints and SRS wings you choose. Where as the Retribution and Nausicaa often have single target fixation, the Praetorian can often do a bit more.
Mid range skirmisher: (Ablative, Wings, Launch Tubes, Deck Crews, Assault Blitz, Split Fire, Bucklers): The Praetorian approaches the battle from the flank (or even with flank deployment) and runs alongside one element of the enemies lines while focusing its forward weapons on another. Launch tubes give an extended boarding range so you can maintain RB2 and still capture or damage enemy prey with boarding assaults while the Bucklers link with broadsides to throw out some high level firepower. Split Fire gunrack and torpedos clean up enemy small squadrons while the Fore Fixed also snipes lonely enemy vessels)
Overcome Hard Target (Ablative, Wings, AP, Deck Crews, Assault Blitz, High Energy, Bucklers): Pick an enemy target you know you can beat easily and run them down. Rely on high CR and HP along with the constant assault of wngs and the attrition bought to you by High Energy hazard markers, long term bombing runs and then finally a knock out blow from a boarding assault to carry the day. The Praetorian is expensive, but if setting its sights on weaker prey, you can probaly manage to not only capture or destroy it, but deal a decent amount of damage to the enemy fleet on the way with broadsides and SRS attack runs. Dont bite off more than you can chew however, some targets like a Judgement packing Special Forces and heaps of Punishers will be able to deflect the attacks of the Praetorian quite easily for instance and for cheaper. Therefore pick your prey carefully.
Medium Crusher: (Ablative, Wings, Ops Centre, High Energy, Deck Crews, Fighters, Bucklers) With 9AD forward torps and 14AD on the fore gun, the Praetorian still has the right equipment to consistently critical enemy medium ships. A Praetorian will fair much better against a squadron of heavy Cruisers than a regular Battleship would and it has the weapons and abiltiies to carry that fight if it needs to. With its extreme CR, especially from the sides and its wings to help it out. The Praetorian can strike hard against distant targets and waste less firepower than a Nausicaa would. The Ops Centre is a valuable upgrade here as you wont need the overwhelming AP to deal with enemy mediums here. Its all about the right tool for the right job.