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Fairly good weaponry and stats, comparable to Imperial vessels really. The big change, other than the really handy blast marker movement/cutting beam thing, is the automation. They start at Ld10 or Ld9 (depending on which ship you're using), and this is dropped along with their hit points down to a min of 5. Now, a Ld5 on a capital ship is TERRIBLE. You won't get any special orders out of them, really. This disabled their attack craft & torpedo abilities, their potential speed and turning, and their ability to resist further damage by bracing. And on top of that, if you're using them in a non-Tau fleet, they will attempt to disengage from battle when they're crippled. I've seen them used a couple of times and they tend to work good on first contact, but then they fall apart the instant they start taking damage. On one hand, they have good armor and decent shields/turrets to defend themselves with, but on the other they cost a lot of points for such a risky investment. A single good salvo of torpedoes could make them turn tail and run!
I'd suggest only using them in Tau fleets where they won't flee, and then only the cruiser-sized vessel. The battleship is too expensive for the potential drop in effectiveness.
Now as I'm a noob to BGF myself, please take this with a grain of salt.
mEGLOMANIAC: I think you have it a little off, actually the rules for Demiurg disengaging are: if in a Demiurg only fleet or fighting against Ork's. They'll still run on Tau. If one of these are the case however, they cost more points per ship to counterbalance this fact. So It doesn't really matter, best I can tell, who they fight for.
My best reading of the rules involved for them didn't suggest how one would go about building a Demiurg only fleet or adding them to a non-Tau navy, but they suggest that it's possable.
The basic mechanic works as mEGLOMANIAC said with exception of who they autodisengage on.
However I have to completly disagree on wich one to use: the battleship is not many points more than the cruiser sized one, has far better shields, can fire both torpedos/bording torpedos & fighters/bombers. Rather than choose wich to fire in a turn. Also it has better guns aside from the cutting beam (wich is the same for both ships) For only a few points it has a lot more firepower & survivablility.
I've proxied it a few times (in my tau proxy games) and used it to great effect. The blast marker scooping is awsome (expecially the not being slowed down by them part, the extra power to the cutting beams is kinda hit & miss) Also for tau, their own "Battleship" is an excelent carrier, but can't slugg it toe to toe with other fleets. (what other battleship in the game has only 1 shield!?!) The demiurg ship fills this hole in the tau fleet nicely. Should I choose tau for my fleet to collect, I'm definitly going to get one of the Demurg battleships.
Votewar MKV 2nd place. . .
Back from internet limbo, and glad to be here.