The Andromeda-Class is a unique ship – a carrier with a capacity of one in the frigate-denomination – no other fleet has a comparable ship. It is also among my traditional go-to ships that I often field – I will in this post go into a bit more detail about why I like the Andromeda.
How do I use it
I normally run groups of 3 or 4, and run them very fast into the center of the table (or at least, center of the action), as I want them to get within the 12″ of relevant targets so the bombers are resolved in the launch assets phase, rather than after the targets next activation, which comes with all sorts of negative sideeffects.
This exposes them to enemy fire, but my experience is that they are low on the priority list of most opponents and in two-thirds of the games where I bought a group, at most one has been killed at the end of the game. Ships with guns seems more threatening, I guess.
A silent carrier
Most carriers suffers from the problem, that launching in itself gives you a minor spike. So unless you run standard orders every turn, you quickly end up in a situation, where you have a major spike all the time. This is especially true if you also have weapon systems you try to use and hence need to course change or station keep in order to keep them in firing arch.
However, the Andromeda-class is “blessed” with no weapon system besides the puny mosquito drones, so there really is no need to to take any special orders to accomodate that. This means, that if you manage to keep close to multiple targets early on, there is rarely need for anything but standard orders keeping your spikes down so you have a signature of 3″ or 9″ throughout most of the match where a cruiser-size carrier is more likely to end up with 12″ or 18″ signature.
This makes it easier for you to go close with the Andromedas without attracting all enemy fire in turn making it easier to get same-turn bombings instead of giving your opponent the option for using active defence modes.
Keeping your distance – vertically, at least
Another defence mechanism they can employ very effectively is to divide across layers. This can both minimize chain reactions from explosions and can in general make it more difficult for your opponent to shoot at your ships while only giving you a minor loss of effectiveness on your mosquito drones (which – to be honest – hardly even qualifies as icing on the cake in terms of usage).
Maximizing launch assets
The Andromeda also gives the PHR the possibility of maximizing launch assets easily, if need be – an option that the other fleets do not have. Sure, Scourge have it easy as well (their standard carrier giving increments of 5 meaning they can easily hit 10-15-20), unless they want to bring torpedoes but that is about it. UCM and Shaltari have a somewhat more difficult job of getting to maximize launch assets expect for some very special circumstances.
If this is really important depends on the strategy you are running – maximizing launch assets might not neccessarily be a good thing (I am no fan of extreme strategies and builds), but being able to adjust gradually can still have value in some situations – even if you are not aiming for the 10-15-20.
PHR has no fewer than four ships with launch capabilities (the most of all the fleets currently), so it does seem like there is a lot of competition.
Comparing solely for launch, the Bellerophon pays 45 points per launch whereas the Andromeda pays 42. The Bellerophon does get something extra for those additional points, the primary being the possibility of firing that nice twin supernova laser. However, for both speed and durability four Andromedas perform better. The Bellerophon also tends to keep its distance a bit since the Twin Supernovas is harder to aim correctly up close, its thrust is lower and it is often the flagship, making you want to protect it. For these reasons, the Andromedas tend to get more bombers in at short range where they really work their magic. These two ships have almost non-comparable approaches to the carrier role.
I have yet to field the Priam, so my experience is limited and hence comparison difficult. The speed and the weapon systems of the Priam makes it a good candidate for usage not that much different from the Andromedas but it does pay more than 10 points extra for each launch asset. For this it gets a nice linked light broadside but not much else. Speed and durability is comparable to a group of four Andromedas, which also have the same launch capability. I think the Priam is a nice ship that has its use, but for pure launching fun, four Andromedas perform better.
The Ikarus pays more than 15 points more per launch asset than the Andromedas does, but it does come with increased durability compared to two Andromedas (not factoring in the ability to spread across layers and the typically lower signature of the Andromeda) and half a cruisers armament. I regard the Ikarus somewhat like an Europa bundled with two Andromedas making it a fairly versatile and useful ship, I think. This – like the Bellerophon – approaches the carrier role in a different manner than the Andromeda.
The Andromeda class is cheap launch asset that has a better possibility than most of getting within short launch range and with good ways of protecting itself. They add some nice flexibility to the PHR fleet both in fleet building and on the battlefield, and if your need is pure launch, this is your real go-to place as a PHR player, though all the other carriers have their use as well and all bring something else to the table.