After playing at the Dropfleet Beta day, I wanted to talk about the one mechanic that I was most hesitant on before getting to the tables, the Planning Phase.
The Planning Phase is the first phase of each game round, and is played with battlegroup cards. Battlegroup Cards form your Strategy Deck and represent each Battlegroup of ships that you have in your list. The size and type of ships in a battlegroup give the group a strategy rating. While at the beta testing, these ratings ranged from 5 to 12.
With each card in hand during the planning phase, you organize your cards from top to bottom in the order you wish to activate them. When it's time to activate them, both players reveal their battlegroup card and the one with the lowest strategy rating goes first and activates the battlegroup listed on the card one squad at a time. Once complete, the second player does the same.
At first this was the mechanic I was most hesitant on, until that is, I actually played it. What it did, and what I can see it doing during list construction and game play, is make the game highly strategic. Smaller battlegroups with frigates will be much quicker to respond on the tabletop than one with several cruisers or larger ships.
Once the activations are done for the first set of strategy cards, the second cards in your deck are revealed and so on. This gives you a back and forth gameplay that is needed in any modern tabletop game, but also provides a deep underlying strategy on how quickly your fleet will respond to the enemy.
Since the beta, since we have rules to many ships from frigates to battleships, I find myself making several smaller quick battlegroups, followed by some heavy hitters to really try and control some of the back and forth against an opponent.
This one single key element in the game is basic in its rules, but very complex when it comes down to how you construct your fleet to do battle, and during gameplay.
Examples of ships and their tonnage that determines a battlegroups strategy rating...
2 Toulon Class Frigates give you rating 2 or 1 strategy rating each.
A single Cruiser type has a rating of 5, and larger ships can get up to 15 each!
So you can see very large battlegroups can add up quickly, where smaller light ones will be very quick to respond to a changing battlefield.