123's Comprehensive GSB Guide

I decided to write a guide on the basics of GSB, and a long one too. It’s probably going to be so long that people won’t read it. Anyway…




Introduction: The Basics
Chapter 1: Phases
Chapter 2: Fighters and Anti Fighters
Chapter 3: Lures and Tanks
Chapter 4: The Long Range War
Chapter 5: Rush
Chapter 6: Anti Rush
Chapter 7: Hard Counters
Chapter 8: Understanding EMP
Chapter 9: Challenges

Introduction: The Basics

This guide is intended to provide players with a better understanding in making competitive fleets when both side has the same amount of resources. Therefore


As a building principle, there is no such thing as a best fleet. A fleet can improve in efficiency up to a certain point. Beyond which anything added will be taken away somewhere else. Therefore, every fleet has some weaknesses.


First, try out these 6 weapons if you haven’t done so already. Knowing how they works will be important for understanding this guide.

Multiple Warhead Missile (MWM)
Cruiser Fast Missile
Cruiser Plasma
Cruiser Beam Laser
Cruiser Pulse Laser
Cruiser Laser

Next, let’s take a look at defensive modules


Shields have Shield Strength and Shield Resistance. Shield strength is the total damage it can absorb and shield resistance is immunity to damage with lower Shield Penetration.

When a ship has more than 1 shield
Shield Strength = Total Shield Strength * Penalty
Shield Resistance = The highest Shield Resistance of a functional Shield.

Therefore, only 1 shield with high resistance is needed.

The Frigate’s has 2 shield choice, the Shield 1 and Shield 2. Both of them provide resistance to laser fighters. While shield 2 is usually the better choice, some ships need to stay a bit faster than the rest of the fleet to prevent being targeted first, in which case dropping to shield 1 would be beneficial.

The Cruiser has 4 shield choices, they are

  1. Shield 2 - 24 Resistance, 255 Strength. The best primary shield, but running only shield 2 is a big risk.

  2. Reflective - 27 Resistance, 200 Strength. The 3 extra resistance allows Reflective to block Fed Fusion Beam and Proton Beam. This can be use over Shield 2 if DPS from Fusion or Proton exceeds 20.4%. Mathematically This can be seen as [1-((200155)/(255164))] = % of DPS.
    Mix some of this with shield 2, especially if you are using armor tank. Because the proton beam used against your tanks will also rip through shield 2.

  3. Multiphasic - 9 Resistance, 275 Strength. The best secondary shield.

  4. Light Shield - 16 resist, 100 Strength. This shield provides shield resistance against fighters. This is a good shield for Tribe to block aggressive fighters before the main battle starts.

FAQ: What about Fast Recharge Shield?

Intuition - Recharge is not important for online play because shields tend to get knockout too quickly.

Real regen rate = (0.2recharge rate)/0.42
the cost of fast recharge to shield 2 is 119.5%. To break even with the added cost, the shield need to recharge for [(255
1.195) - 262]/(0.2/0.42), or 89.7 seconds (or 22.4 seconds at 4x speed).


Armor, like shield, have Strength and Resistance. The exact mathematics are not important, as resistance are listed by checking ship stats under “Average Armor”. A few things to keep in mind are.

  1. Armor Resistance is reduced with more modules
  2. Armor diminishing return works for Armor Resistance as well
  3. Unlike shield, Armor Resistance is reduced as armor takes damage.
  4. Even if Armor Resistance > Weapon Armor Penetration, they still receive damage 3% of the time.

This is why “Just enough armor resistance” is not enough. We can look at this as

While Armor Resistance < Armor Penetration, damage absorb = armor strength
While Armor Resistance > Armor Penetration, damage absorb = 33.3*armor strength.

Therefore, it’s the extra armor that really matters.

Base on the weapon, here are a some armor value to remember

Armor > 8 = resistance to laser fighters
Armor > 12 = resistance to laser and rocket fighters
Armor > 15 = resistance to Cruiser Lasers/Ion Cannon
Armor > 52 = resistance to Missiles/Cruiser Plasmas
Armor > 73 = resistance to all

More on armor on Chapter 3

Repair Modules

The Best repair module is the Nano-Repair, or the Tribe Repair for Tribe.

The Nano-Repair works at roughly 5.24 HP * stack penalty per second. It should not be used without armor. Like shield recharge, repairing HP doesn’t work in tough battles when they are needed the most. They easily gets overloaded and usually have over half their supplies unused.

Repair becomes significantly better with armor. Armor give repair time to use it’s supplies, while repair keep armor resistance high.

FAQ: What about the Tribe Repair?

Tribe Repair works at roughly 7.14 HP * stack penalty per second. It can be use without armor providing that at least 50% of supplies get used up on average. How likely this happens depending on the following

  1. Total enemy DPS
    1a. Total credit of a map
    1b. Enemy fleet type
  2. The co-operate tag
  3. Amount of enemy fighters

In general, front line tends to take way too much focuses damage for repair to work properly. They tend to perform better for back line and anti fighter ships, where repair can use up their supplies.

Also in a rush fleet, where speed is crucial, repair should be skipped entirely. More on this in later chapters.


Generally, the best hull is the smallest hull. This is because

  1. Hit rate is affected by ship size.
  2. Size of shield increase with ship size, allowing more fighter hits to get through.
  3. Speed decrease exponentially with weight.

Therefore, stick to the smallest hull for anything other than Tanks. Those extra few % bonuses are not worth the size increase.

Chapter 1: Phases

This game is divided into 2 phase, long range and short range.

Long Range happens between 1160 - 950 (Between MWM and Cruiser Plasma)

Short Range happens at 550-490 range (Between Ion Cannon and Cruiser Laser)

FAQ: So why 2 phase? What about Mid Range?

Typically, other cruisers have reflective shield, so a phase cannot start until the first weapon with shield penetration > 27 fires.
The shorter the range of a weapon, the more engine needed to get in range.
Because mid range shield penetrating weapons (Fast Missiles, Rockets) are not significantly better than MWM in DPS, they are not worth the extra engines required. More on this on Chapter 4: The Long Range War.
Cruiser Laser and Ion Cannon on the other hand, have a significant enough DPS advantage over MWM to worth paying the engines for.
Therefore, we have 2 phase.

Because the game is divided into 2 phase, 2 strategy emerge

Pure Long Range, very little engines
Pure Short Range, many engines. (aka Rush)

However, as long as a Rush can get into range, it will easily win against a Pure Long Range. To combat this, a third strategy emerge

Mostly Long Range, very little engines, with 2 Cruiser Lasers per ship to stop a rush (aka Anti Rush)

The Anti Rush beats a Rush by out DPS in both phase. However, with little engine and credits wasted on 2 Cruiser Lasers, they will always get outgunned by a pure long range. Hence we now have a triangle.

Rush -> Long Range -> Anti Rush -> Rush

FAQ: I use Fast missile and it works, how does that fit into this triangle?

Fast missile have reduced capability in long range wars, but is superior in countering rush. So it can be regarded as an Anti Rush fleet with disadvantage vs long range and other Anti Rush fleets using MWM/CL

Chapter 2: Fighters and Anti Fighters

First, let’s look at the many different fighters

Laser Fighters - Excels in Dogfight and vs Cruisers
Example: Fighter Laser, Power 1, Engine 2

Rocket Fighters (single) - Excels in survivability
Example: Fighter Rocket, Engine 2

Rocket Fighters (dual) - Excels vs Frigates and non Shielded Tribe Cruisers
Example: 2x Fighter Rocket, Engine 2

Painter Fighters - Adds dogfight and vs Frigate to rocket fighters.
Example: Target Painter, Engine 2

Lure Fighters - Draws fire from fighters with high priority vs fighters without getting hit.
Example: Engine 1 (priority set to fighter 100%, 2000 range, no other command)

Hybrid - A special Dual weapon combination often seen in Tribe fleets.
3x Serenity Fighters with Pulse Laser, Fighter Rocket, Power 1, Engine 2
1x Serenity Fighters with Fighter Laser, Fighter Rocket, Power 1, Engine 2
1x Serenity Fighters with Target Painter, Fighter Rocket, Engine 2

Naturally, a fleet with many fighters tend to beat a fleet with neither fighters nor fighter defense. as represented by

Mass Fighters -> No Fighters/Fighter Defense

So let’s look at the Anti Fighters options.

Option 1 - Dogfight
Option 2 - Armor
Option 3 - Lure
Option 4 - Anti Fighter Weapons (Cruiser)

Option 1 is typically not very effective stand alone unless you are using Tribe.
Option 2 tends to cost so much credits it will cripple the fleet. No more than a few ships should have armors on them.
Option 3 is the cheapest anti fighter option, but tends to only work on the challenger side.
Option 4 is solid, and the typical way to beat fighters. (See Anti Fighter Weapons (Cruisers) for a complete list)

While Anti Fighter mechanisms beat Fighters credit by credit, it is a complete waste of credits if the other side have no fighters at all.

Therefore we have this triangle

Anti Fighter -> Mass Fighters -> No Fighters/Fighter Defense-> Anti Fighters

FAQ: So what if I have both Fighter and Anti Fighters in my fleet?

It will have a disadvantage vs a fleet with just Anti Fighters and no Fighters

FAQ: What about Carrier Bay?

Carrier Bay are great for lure fighters, bad for dogfights fighters, and useless against cruisers with tractors.

While one carrier bay might be needed due to the new auto retreat feature. Typically adding the caution tag tends to hurt more then help because

  1. Takes fighters away in the middle of a battle, causing a cascading effect.
  2. Fighters will fly to the left wall when carrier supply ran out

Experiments has been done involving two identical fighter fleets, except one side have caution/bay and the other doesn’t. The side without bay consistent wins by a significant amount.

Anti Fighter Weapons (Cruisers)

Cruiser Tractor Beams - The backbone of a cruiser anti fighter defense. The normal tractor beam tends to be used over super tractor.

Pulse Lasers - The weapon of choice to combine with Cruiser Tractor. Most importantly they are multi-purpose and are good against frigates as well.

Defense Laser - While this weapon is slightly better against Pulse Laser against fighters, they serve no other purpose. Use this only if Pulse Laser isn’t providing enough fighter defense.

Limpet Launcher - A Order only air defense. It’s high cost/low reduction is somewhat offset by it’s rate of fire. This can be use in a Rad Rush to quickly slow down all enemy fighters, allowing your own laser fighters to dominate. Though neither Rad Rush nor Limpet are very practical at this point.

Chapter 3: Lures and Tanks

Lures and Tanks can give huge advantages. While some only works on the challenger’s side, others can work for the challenge maker as well. Let’s start by defining what they are.

Lures are cheap ships that draws enemy to certain locations.

Tanks are expensive ships that draw attentions and enemy fires for an extended period of time.

Using lures and tanks successfully will require knowing something about how the AI behaves.

Here are some general rules

  1. Ship tends to set drive coordinate to move toward to closest ship with weapons at the start of the game.
  2. Once the target is set, they will not switch target without special condition (such as the retaliate/rescuer command) or if the ship is destroyed.
  3. While priority setting can be used to override firing, they are not very good at overriding drive behaviors.

This means that

  1. Fighters will influence initial driving behaviors unless the cruiser remove fighter priority entirely.
  2. Since most fleets do remove fighter priority from their cruisers, fighter lures therefore tends to only draw aggro from other fighters.
  3. Frigate is typically good enough as a moving lure on the challenger’s side, as people do set priority to them. For a challenge maker however, this might get countered by someone who remove priority frigate entirely. Therefore, when designing challenges with lure, use one that is the same type as the majority of your ships, so enemy cannot afford to remove priority.
  4. Tanks are advised to have 1 weapon (preferably long range) to maintain aggro.

FAQ: I want to know more, where can I find more information on ship behaviors?

A much more in depth guide can be found here. I don’t want to rewrite what someone else have already written so well.

Lure Examples

Ships are drawn to ships with weapons in the front line. Therefore, the lure need to have at least one weapon (such as the decoy launcher)

A 2 part Lure is constructed with a “Pull” and a “Drag”. Pull is the direction where you want enemy ship to go, Drag is the lure that attracts enemies.

A sample of it is

Pull - 1 engine 2, 1 micro crew
Drag - 1 lightweight engine, 1 micro crew, 1 decoy launcher

We then remove all commands on them and use the escort and formation to link each other. The escort ship will try to close in to the formation ship, but the formation ship will try to keep it’s distance, creating controlled movement.

You can also use a tank as the pull to keep enemy ships to it’s destination for a prolong period of time.

Here is a real example of how it can be used. As a MWM spammer I want to pull a rush into the left corners as I fire at them with MWM, here’s how I can do it.

With Lures and their placement, the possibilities is limited only by your imagination. Here I will list some challenges that make good use of lures.

4619283 (ZGeneral)

Counter Lure

So you are tired of getting pull by lures, here are 2 tricks you can use

  1. Formation Release - Set your entire fleet to formation with a very low HP ship in the front. When formation breaks ship reselect it’s coordinate. Unfortunately formation and keep moving cannot coexist.

  2. Offensive Fighters - if the lure is in front, you may try to kill it with offensive fighters and lures. (Credit to Angry Redhead and JoeCairo for pulling this off)

Tank Examples

With Tanks, they are heavily armored, so they tend to be very slow. Their placement is fairly simple, throw them where you need damage absorbed.

Here are a few examples of tanks.

  1. Universal Armored Tank - They have 70+ armor which allows them to tank all types of damage in this game.

Order Temple Cruiser
9x Ultraheavy Armor, nano-repair, micro crew, engine 2, cruiser missile

Nomad Hareeb Cruiser
8x Ultraheavy Armor, nano-repair, micro crew, engine 1, MWM

Alliance Shark Cruiser
7x Ultraheavy Armor, nano-repair, micro crew, engine 2, cruiser missile

Fed Tiger Cruiser
10x Ultraheavy Armor, nano-repair, crew1, engine 3, power 1, cruiser plasma

Imperial Praetorian Cruiser
10x Ultraheavy Armor, nano-repair, micro crew, engine 3, MWM

  1. Anti Fighter Tank - By combining armor, multiple repair, small hull, and a shield, they can tank a huge amount of fighter damage for a very long time. To draw fighter aggro to this ship while maintaining safe distance from enemy cruisers, simply escort a lure fighter to it with max escort range.

Rebel Fenrir Cruiser
6x Ultraheavy Armor, 3x nano-repair, reflective (or light) shield, crew 1, engine 1, power 1, defense laser

Tribe Utopia Cruiser
6x Ultraheavy Armor, 4x Tribe repair, light shield, crew 2, engine 1, power 1, defense laser

  1. Smart Bomb Tank - A swarm only tank that excels in absorbing missile damage. Allowing swarm to easily beat missile spams.

Swarm Sekhmet Cruiser
8x Ultraheavy Armor, Smart Bomb, power 1, 2x nano-repair, crew 1, disruptor.

  1. Quick Tank - 52+ armor and speed. They are used with CL rush in small quantity to absorb MWM/Plasma damage while closing in.

Rebel Valkyrie Cruiser
7x Ultraheavy Armor, power 1, reinforced crew, 4x Supercharge Engines, nano-repair, EMP Cannon.

Counter Tanks

Here are the list of counter tank weapons

Beam Lasers - The traditional anti tank weapon. This will be used as the anchor to compare with the other guns.

Proton Beam - Reduced range, reduced accuracy, reduced damage, for 24 shield penetration and 3 more points of armor penetration. Having just 1 in a fleet can help crack a universal tank to below 70 resistance for your beam lasers to finish up.

Rebel Fusion Beam - Reduced accuracy, reduced damage, but has 72 armor penetration and 800 range. When you want to fire at tanks without entering the range of beam lasers, this 30 range makes all the difference.

Nomadic Beam Laser - Reduced damage, but 800 range. Like Rebel Fusion Beam this can enjoy the comfort of firing without entering beam laser range.

Imperial Beam Laser - Reduced damage, but increase accuracy and 860 range. Too bad it only has 66 penetration.

Fed Fusion Beam - 24 shield penetration and 1.5 tracking. The down side is it’s 705 range and 60 armor penetration. You will need to mix in a few beam lasers to help crack tanks.

Chapter 4: The Long Range War

First, let’s begin by looking solely at MWM vs Plasma

MWM - 1160 range, can be scrambled
Plasma - 950 range, cannot be scrambled

Therefore in this simplified comparison, the outcome is dependent on how much of MWMs gets scrambled.


While MWMs can all fire at a single target, scramblers are limited by it’s range. Therefore

  1. The more MWM in raw number, the harder they are to scramble.
    1a. The higher credit count a map has, the stronger MWM is.
    1b. The race that can afford the most MWMs (Tribe) are harder to scramble.

  2. The more tightly packed a fleet is, the more scrambler can fire.
    2a. The smaller the hull, the better they are at scrambling.
    2b. The more even a formation, the better they are at scrambling.

Besides scrambler, another tool for stopping missile is the Swarm only Smart Bomb. By putting them on tanks, Swarm can absorb/dissipate missile damage better than any other race in the game.

FAQ: Can I mix missiles with plasmas?

Never mix missiles with plasmas as missile effectiveness is determine by their density. Having 1 or 2 missile per ship means they will all get scrambled.


Adding tanks makes a big difference in scrambler war because each ship destroyed leads to a reduction in MWM. By paying for tanks a fleet can maintain MWM density for an extended period of time. The cost however is the initial reduction in MWM density. Tanks can be somewhat countered by replacing the co-op command with retaliate or rescuer command, but doing so will make a fleet weaker vs other fleets without tanks.

They also cause “engagement range hazard”. Being in front of your MWM, enemy’s back line missile will be able to fire/focus first. Using tank then forces a player to set engagement range closer than maximum.

Long range/Anti Rush fleets tend not to be set to move into 770 range (beam laser). So long as you don’t set your long range tanks to move into 770, they only need defense above 52 (to tank cruiser plasmas).

Other Weapons

Aside from MWM and Cruiser Plasma, 3 other weapons can be used for long range wars, they are

Nomad Missiles - A Nomad only weapon. Though their DPS isn’t too good up close, they easily overload any scrambler systems, making them the best weapon for long range war.
Swarm Disruptor - A Swarm only weapon. It functions similar to plasma, with slightly less range but much better accuracy even against stationary targets.
Fast Missiles - Not the best for long range war, but significantly better in anti rushing. An anti rush fleet might mix this with MWM to increase their ability to counter rush.

If you would like to experiment with other missiles, a more in-depth guide to how missile works can be found here.

Pure Long Range Fleets

note - rating is determine solely in the ability to win long range wars.

Nomad Missile Spam with Tanks
Rating: 5
It will beat the Tribe MWMs, but it can’t handle the fighters. So it needs a lot of fighter defense.

Alliance 100% Tanks with Plasmas
Rating: 4.5
Using the Alligator Hull with 6x Ultraheavy Armor, engine 3, crew 1, power 1, nano-repair, and 4 guns (such as plasma), this fleet focus on getting every ships to 55.78 defense. This fleet will lose to beam lasers, but fortunately most long range wars doesn’t happen at 770 range.

Tribe MWM Spam
Rating: 4.5
2x HP + reduce defense cost + small hull = lots of MWMs and scrambling power.
Make sure your front line has 7 MWM. All others need at least 6. Mixing anything else to this will significantly reduce it’s long range effectiveness.

Tribe Plasma Spam
Rating: 4
2x HP + reduce defense cost + small hull = lots of plasmas and scrambling power. Unlike other plasma spams, this one does not use armor tank. Take advantage of this by maximizing the amount of beam lasers. For the cost of 180 range it can deal 3x the damage of plasma after weighting in accuracy.

Swarm Plasma Spam with Smart Bomb Tanks
Rating: 3.5
The Smart Bomb Tanks can dissipate so much missile damage that it can win against any missile spams. Unfortunately they are not the best when it comes to plasma vs plasma.

Order MWM with Tanks
Rating: 3
Order has the best Tank in the game, so they can put up a fight against the toughest of MWM spams. But their MWM density is too low to handle even an average plasma spam.

Chapter 5: Rush

After looking at all the long range, let’s look at the easily counter to kill them all.

Cruiser rush doesn’t mean as fast as possible, it means just enough speed to get past the long range, and pack as many guns as possible. Two reason for this are

  1. To avoid getting outgunned by a missile spam up close
  2. To avoid getting outgunned by another rush

Because slower means more guns, when two cruiser rush faces each other, the slower rush has the advantage.

The scrambler is typically not used in a rush. Have another engine to close in the gap sooner is better against the meanest missile spams.

Frigate rush however is very different. They can achieve speed high enough to avoid most cruiser weapons, as such achieving high speed can be more important than DPS.

Rush cannot afford to have tractors on them as any extra weight reduces movement speed. So for fighter defense they need fighters of their own. You will want to outspend you opponent to have the best possible fighters you can afford. Also, as your fleet move into pulse laser/defense laser range, they draw fire away from your fighters, allowing them to deal direct damage so long as they can win the dog fight. In many cases the fighters are what deals the most damage.

Rush Fleets

Tribe CL Rush with Beam Lasers
Rating: 5
Tribe is easily the best Cruiser Laser Rusher with 2x HP. Being able to cheap out on armors and shields, it has

  1. More speed
  2. More guns
  3. Less cost
  4. More survivability

Important make sure your beam laser cruisers are faster than your CL cruisers, so they don’t get targeted as much.

This rush is solid and doesn’t have much weakness. Can easily knock out most pure long range in the game. While more beam lasers mean breaking tanks faster, it will create a disadvantage vs other rush fleet as cruiser laser have significantly more DPS than beam lasers do. One way to give beam laser ships more coverage is the use of rescuer on beam ships.

Depending on situations, this rush might have either 0 or 1 shields. Pulse laser may also be added to counter frigate spams.

Nomad Armored Frigate Rush
Rating: 4
Since 1.48 where frigate gets a serious armor buff, the armored frigate has became a serious force. Combining the Makki Hull with Nomad Engines, frigate can now achieve 15+ armors with 0.8+ speed. The result? A frigate that can dodge over 90% of the damage while being highly resistant to rocket fighters, cruiser lasers, and ion cannon.

Even beam laser cannot handle this unless seriously massed. Fed fusion beam and pulse laser are the 2 best counters against this fleet. Target painter also works well when combined with missiles. Dual rocket/painter will still work so long as your have armor tanks to outlast them.

Swarm Frigate Rush
Rating: 4
This rush relies on stun-lock/ion cannon/beam lasers to win. Set the Frigate to rescuer so they can spread the EMP. It can also be combined with aggressive laser fighters/hybrid fighters.
Unlike the Tribe CL Rush it has quite a few weaknesses.

  1. It is extremely weak versus rocket fighters
  2. Frigate Beam Laser is incompetent in knocking out tanks.
  3. Frigate are weak vs beam lasers/pulse lasers.
  4. Aggressive fighters can be dealt with using Tractor/Limpet or Lure.
    As such, an pure long range fleet with tanks can defend against this by adding dual rocket fighters and target painters to their fleet. The Tank will outlast the frigates as the fighters kill them. Any Tribe fleet using sufficient amount of Serenity Hybrid should also beat this quite easily.

Tribe Frigate Rush
Rating: 4
While Swarm has the best shield frigate to credit, Tribe frigates last a bit longer and has the best dual weapon fighters. Fleet that focus solely on frigates will find themselves overrun by fighters in the end. Since Tribe lacks the speed bonus to handle 3 weapons per frigate, this tactic is best with EMP skipped.

Swarm CL Rush with Beam and Smart Bomb.
Rating: 3.5
The alternative to Tribe against missile spams. It’s not as solid, but it gets the job done. It also performs better against radiation and immune to dual rocket fighters.

Order Rad Rush
Rating: 2.5
The Rad Rush uses Radiation Gun instead of Cruiser Lasers. It’s sole purpose is to kill Tribe and doesn’t do much against other race. Though it’s effectiveness vs Tribe drops significantly with just 1 shield.

Chapter 6: Anti Rush

Anti Rush is really just a spin-off from Long Range. The only difference is that they add in some short range weapons to defend against a Rush up close.

While they stand no chance against their pure long range counterpart, they still want to maximize their long range to fight against another Anti Rush fleet. Refer to Chapter 4 for more long range information.

Note Fast missile can be use to replace MWM for anti rushing, at a cost of reduced long range.

Anti Rush Weapons

Note - While these guns help beat a rush, the goal is to use as little of them as possible, allowing for more long range to beat other Anti Rush fleets.

Cruiser Target Painter - This allow MWMs to hit targets of any speed. While having some is crucial, having more is unnecessary since MWM can focus quite well. Around 2 - 5 per fleet should be enough.

Beam Laser - This armor breaker can act as effective Anti Rush. Good with Plasma, not so much with MWM.

Pulse Laser - This Anti Fighter gun also double as Anti Rush.

Cruiser Laser - Fight Short Range with Short Range. Add this only if the utility guns isn’t enough.

Rad Gun - A Order Only Weapon. Not very useful except against Tribe Rush.

Anti Rush Fleets

Tribe MWM Spam with Cruiser Lasers/Beams
Rating: 5
The 2x HP give them a significant edge in tanking damage up close. Most reliable anti rush in the game.

Order MWM with Tanks with Rad and Dual Rocket Fighters.
Rating: 4
Order has the best Tank in the game. Combine that with the Rad Gun for anti Tribe CL Rush, and dual rocket for anti Frigate Spam, and you have a solid anti rush fleet.

Tribe Plasma Spam with Cruiser Lasers/Beams
Rating: 4
While plasma isn’t good at hitting moving targets. They can still beat a rush with Cruiser Laser/Beams.

Alliance 100% Tanks with Plasmas/CL/Beam
Rating: 3.5
Using the Alligator Hull with 6x Ultraheavy Armor, engine 3, crew 1, power 1, nano-repair, and 4 guns, this fleet focus on getting every ships to 55.78 defense. In this case you are fighting a fleet up close, so it’s no longer possible to rely on AI to stay out of beam laser’s range. Fortunately it can do wonders against a frigate spam with some rocket fighters. And most CL spam don’t come with that much beam lasers. While it has one obvious counter, this fleet retains a high rating because even with anti rush setup, it can still knock out some pure long range fleets.

Nomad Missile Spam with Cruiser Lasers
Rating: 3
Almost the same as Order, except it uses Cruiser Lasers. The lack of a good dual weapon fighter makes Nomad worst at anti rushing than Order does.

Swarm Disruptor/Plasma/Beam with Smart Bomb Tanks
Rating: 2.5
It’s not very good stand alone. But it can be combine with a frigate spam in some occasions to create a hybrid fleet.

Chapter 7: Hard Counters

Hard Counters are fleets that serve no other purpose than to beat one specific fleet. This is what makes posting fleet so much harder than beating one. While I avoid using them because I find them rather “distasteful”, here is a list for a few common fleet types along with their hard counter.

  1. CL Rush
    Counter with near stationary fleet loaded with CL and Beam.
    Why buy engines for engagement range when the other side already does that for you?

  2. Frigate Rush
    Counter with 50+ armor, pulse laser, beam laser, tractors, dual rocket fighters, painter fighters.
    Out last the frigates with armor resistance, kills fighters, kills any armored frigate attempts, dual rocket fighters.

  3. Missile Spams
    Counter with Swarm 55 Armor Tank with Smart Bomb + Plasma in back
    Dissipate 99% of the missiles.

  4. Non Swarm Plasma Spams
    Counter with 100% MWM with around 0.2 speed set to 2000 engage cruisers.
    Plasma Spam aren’t very fast. So as long as your MWM can retreat at a faster rate, they can’t do anything about it. Add a few armor tank if you are not using Tribe to ease up the turn around time.

  5. Armored Tanks
    Counter with Beam Laser + Proton Beam + Plasma
    Beam Laser kills armors. Add a few Proton Beam to get the job done faster, and some plasma for shields.

Chapter 8: Understanding EMP


So when should we use EMP? And how much? This can be seen mathematically from basic intuitions.

First, the trade-off of an EMP is another gun. So for EMP to pay off

EMPBenefit = Damage Prevented by EMP
EMPCost = Damage Forgo for EMP

EMPBenefit >= EMPCost

Next, breakup EMPBenefit and EMPCost

StunRate = duration/rate of fire
EMP to Enemy Ratio = #EMP/#Enemy Cruisers + Frigates
Redundancy = As number of EMP increase relative to enemy ships, redundancy increase = f(#EMP, #Enemy Cruisers)
Chance to hit = f(#EMP) for EMP cannon, f(#EMP/Scrambler) for EMP Missiles.
Ship To Fighter DPS Ratio = % Damage From Enemy Cruiser + Frigates/% Damage From Fighters.


EMPBenefit = StunRate * EMP to Enemy Ratio * Redundancy * Chance to hit * Ship To Fighter DPS Ratio.

EMPCost = # EMP/Total Hardpoint (for weapons)

#EMP/Total Hardpoint Used For Weapons <= StunRate * EMP to Enemy Ratio * Redundancy * Chance to hit * Ship To Fighter DPS Ratio.

With some algebra we find that

(#Enemy Ship/Total Hardpoint Used For Weapons) <= StunRate * Redundancy * Chance to hit * Ship To Fighter DPS Ratio


So what to draw from the above equations?

For Cruisers
EMP Cannon is great in 1 cruiser vs 1 cruiser duel.
As the battles get bigger, the chance of redundancy (2 EMP firing at the same ship) increases.
As the number of EMPs increase, the chance of redundancy also increases.
As the number of enemy fighters increase, the effectiveness of EMP decreases.

Therefore, while having a few EMP cannons can be beneficial, They should be kept at a small numbers as they suffer huge diminishing returns.

For Frigates
In general, frigates comes in much larger number than cruisers.
EMP Missiles can be scrambled, while increasing EMP missiles cause increase in redundancy, it increase chance to hit.
Frigate takes disproportional amount of damage from rocket fighters.

Therefore, Frigate EMP is an all or nothing approach. They must come in large enough quantity to overcome scramblers. In environment with little or no rocket fighters, massing EMP can lead to stunlock win. In environment with some rocket fighters, EMP should be skipped entirely.

Chapter 9: Challenges

So far, this guide has been “all talk, no show”. Here I will post some fleets so you can see how they work yourself. This section will be periodically updated as I make better challenges.

Long Range

Tribe Pure MWM With Fighters And Lures - 4634858
Nomad Missiles With Counter Lure - 4634886
Alliance Armored Plasma - 4636215


Tribe CL Rush With Fighters And Lures - 4631839
Tribe Hybrid With Counter Lure - 4629466
Tribe Frigate Rush - 4631226
Rebel CL Rush With Quick Tank - 4636209
Swarm Frigate Rush - 4636213
Nomad Frigate Rush - 4636220

Anti Rush

Tribe MWM With Fighters And Lures - 4627833
Tribe Plasma With Lure And Counter Lure - 4629041
Order MWM with Tank - 4636212
Swarm Disruptor with Smart Bomb - 4636250

To be Continue.

I run a mid range Fast Missile fleet, and against most non tribe, non fast Cruiser Laser fleets. Long range from in a formation can actually hinder you, as they have a larger minumum range. So you tend to keep your enemy in your engagement envelope longer.

Just my observations from VERY heavy play of missile fleets
(That said: my modded missiles are heavily drawn from both MWM’s and Fast Missile’s)

Remember we talked about this before. If you use Fast missiles you have to pay for engines or lose to mass MWM. The same credits you pay for engine can just be thrown into Cruiser Laser to counter a Rush, while maintaining superior range with MWM.

That, and Fast missile spam tends to lose to Plasma Spam.

I’ve found energy spam (plasma or CL) tends to beat missiles, regardless of the type. Once i get GSB for mac’s via STEAM i’ll drop you a challenge ingame to see what i’m talking about. My fleet’s designed to beat missile fleets using a wall of battle concept. Although i’ve been playing around with what i’ve done, and might end up going to a Cruiser Missile fleet again, simply because of the range issue.

Sure, I added how Fast Missile fits into the equation. Mainly that they have advantage against rush but disadvantage vs the other 2 long range (MWM and Plasma).

MWM also have roughly 2x the DPS as a Cruiser Missile, so MWM is worth the engine 1 to cover that 40 range.

From my experience that’s only true against an enemy without heavy PD. An enemy with heavy PD will have enough to knock out all the warheads of the MWM’s if it’s the target, and if it’s NOT then it’s even more true

Heavy Scrambler is what typically refer to as the long range war, which all those Tribe long range/anti rush fleet has 1 on every ship.

It doesn’t matter rather or not a missile have decoy or all live. If you fire 100 warheads at them, and 25 of them gets knock out, you will lose 25% damage on average.

With MWM that’s obvious, you fire 100 live warhead, you lose 25.

With Cruiser Missile, if you launch 100 warheads, 25 of them will be live, an average of 6.25 of them will be knock out, so you still lose 25% damage.

MWM will always outperform Cruiser Missile credit to credit regardless of scramblers/PD. This can be easily tested by having 2 identical fleet with scrambler and an engine 1, pack one with MWMs and the other with Cruiser Missiles, and run them against each other.

I have a question about the MWM.
I know that with missiles, their fire rate is finnickey because even if they’re ready to fire again, they can’t if their missile is still in flight…with MWM, I’m use to one almost always missing out of the pack, delaying the turret to fire another volley…
I guess I always figured that made them less useful than missiles with a single warhead because of accuracy. (Unless tracers are being used)
Do you have any rough numbers or equations for this? I’m really eager to know how much longer MWM have to wait if one or more of their warheads miss…

Cliffski, please sticky this. It will be extremely helpful to new players.

During NEC1, I found that 2x Engine 1’s are more survivable, credit for credit than 1x engine (on tribe), combined with repair bays. YMMV.

I’m not sure if you would agree, but about option 4: it is MUCH better to specialize anti-fighter cruisers than to spread it out over all your cruisers. The reason being, is that you can easily stack up HP or armor repairs to make an individual ship almost impervious to fighters, and by doing so and by placing them in the back away from the main fight, your level of fighter defense can remain at 100% throughout the battle. Also, this allows you to frontload more DPS on your normal cruisers.

Example: Tribe cruiser with 6000 HP, reflecive shield, 2x tribe repairs, 4x tractor beams, 2x pulse lasers, 2x defense lasers, etc.

Also, defense lasers definitely deserve mention. They are not strictly weaker than pulse lasers.

One advantage of fast missiles over MWM is that when you kill a ship, all missiles that were targetting that ship selfdestruct. This means that potentially several volleys of MWM die midflight, while fewer Fast missile volleys will be in the air at any time.

Also, you aren’t as dependent on having your target painted with fast missiles, as they have a higher tracking speed.

Lol this is very much a Tribe thing. For other race the speed is better.

Yes and no. The ship tanking the fighter hits does not necessary need to be your anti fighter ship. You can dedicate 1 armored ship to tank all the fighter fires while your unarmored ship fires with pulse lasers/tractors. I intend to go into that as I expand the lure and tank section.

True, while pulse is more multi purpose, defense laser can be use in specific cases, as does Order’s limpet being better than tractor for a Rad Rush.

There’s still a lot of stuff I wanted to add to this.

MWMs are highly vulnerable to scramblers, in comparison to fast missiles. Whether plasma or fast missiles are better once you get to their range bracket depends on how many scramblers the enemy has, but fast missiles will perform better than MWMs under even very light scrambler use.

As I said, Fast missile is better once it gets in range, so they are better vs a rush. The problem is covering the 260 range to reach a MWM spammer.

This is dependent on how many MWM a ship has. MWM start to really overload scramblers when they have about 5 - 7 of them per ship.

Also once you put plasma spam into the equation, it really turns the battle one sided. MWM’s 210 range advantage is crucial against the Plasma Spam.

I will create a section on long range which hopefully will cover all these stuff in detail.

I will write a section specifically on the long range phase. It actually have a lot more dynamic to it. I just had to cover tank first because they can play a major role in long range wars.

I’m eager to learn more on long range, and tank as well.
I look forward to the next section of your helpful guide!

Proper fleet placement does a LOT to mitigate that
If my enemy’s bunched up in one place, you can game your formation to put them into an approach that’s basically at 90 degrees to your axis of approach, increasing the time they spend in your envelope

First draft of Chapter 4: The Long range War completed

No love for the Alliance 123? Their 9-hardpoint Python cruiser is pretty handy when it comes to missile fights.

Alligator tanks can be reasonably effective too.

No love for alliance…

The Python is big (230) which is a huge disadvantage in scrambler war.

The Alligator is also pretty bad as a generic tank. With only 8 power it cannot hold a engine 1, micro crew, nano-repair, and a weapon for aggro. The Shark actually makes a better tank with it’s 11 initial power. Shark using 7 Ultraheavy Armor, cruiser missile, engine 2, micro crew, and nano-repair has 77.5 defense and 0.07 speed.

The biggest issue is still that the Python is bigger than the Shark, when setting target priority the easiest target gets chosen, and the Python became the “big brother” rather than the tank.