Spend this afternoon doing some tests with a friend of mine. He tends to play Nids and I like IN and SM. He kept turning my ships into lifeless hulks in seconds during our games this week so I thought id ask him abit how he did this and if he would let me experiment a little. Turned out he had a fleet of mostly carriers because he cant alter it because his game keeps crashing. So I figured id setup some controlled scenarios to see actuall numbers here.
So first test I send out a IN light cruiser with 27 crew. He send a wave from 2 launch bays at it and reduced it to 5 crew. Which would mean that 1 assault boat does 11 points of crew damage. Ouch.
Ok I thought, thats pretty nasty. How quikly can they clear an IN cruiser of crewmembers? So I asked him to send 2 of these waves at the same time. They have a total crew of 36 so 2 waves should clear them out completly, and sure enough. 2 waves cleared the ship.
I hear from everyone on the forums who has been here before this week telling me that brace for impact makes you immume to ordnance so I figured I test that out. Same scenario, 1 cruiser beeing attacked by 2 waves of 2 assault boats, but this time with the ship on brace for impact. First wave got completly destroyed, but because the 2nd wave got send at the same time the 2nd one came in almost completly. Did almost 20 points of crew damage.
Fighters were fairly effective at shooting down a single wave of 2 assault boats but anything more was already a problem and things would easily come through. If he send fighters of his own everything came through.
We did some more testing but this was the only testing we did with regards to ordnance if memory serves.
Now dont get me wrong, im not against factions having strong weapons but this is abit silly. All this testing we did was with ships with 2 launch bays. The nids have acces to one with 4 launch bays and even one with 7 launch bays. That latter one (their most expensive ship, but still) could instantly strip a battleship of its crew if thes numbers hold up. Infact my buddy mentioned that he does this to people on a regular basis.
As far as I can tell assault boats have the same 'damage' to crew value as a normal boarding action does which is just insane considering the unlimited range. Yes, they can be countered but not if your opponent goes all in for launch bays and just strips your entire fleet of crew in a matter of seconds. Specially if they have the biggest carriers in the game. The only ones coming close to size are Orks and Tau protector fleet with 6 and 5 point carrier respectivly.
And lets not get started on some fleets which have little to no carriers of their own. They wouldnt stand a chance to protect themselves against this. Huddling together and massing turrets also only does so much and makes you completly vunerable to other tactics so id say that can work in a pinch but isent a complete solution to this.
And before people come with their 'well hur hur you can recrew your ships and the drawbacks are nothing'. Are they really? First of all your recrewed ship is back at 1 crewmember. Which it can lose when rammed, randomly shot at or whatever. You suffer pernament crit damage and a temporary crit damage for 0 effort and your shooting, skill etc go 20% slower. And best of all it took 0 effort for the nid player who can then pick off the next ship. And the next ship. And the next ship.
Back in the previous game Chaos carrier fleets were called out for beeing overpowered and this is ALOT stronger then what they brought to the table. Id say that assault boats are to strong for the range that they have and the number of assault boats that nids have.
But they also need alternatives and as far as I can tell they really dont have these either. I think they need work.