A cruiser or frigate immune to fighters

Recently I have created quite a nice fleet for 80k cost, I thought. Lots of long-range cruisers (Cruiser Missile Launchers, Multiphasic Shield, Reflective Shield and 2x Nanobot Repair System) backed by a few anti-figher cruisers with defense lasers only. Then I realized it may be beaten to death in a few minutes by 23k cost, 150 pilots fleet of Rebel fighters with 2x pulse cannon and orders: co-operative, last stand and retaliate. This is not what would one expect from 80k worth fleet. You may check it yourself - challenge #5102127.

However, when I deploy the same fleet of fighters against the enemy at The Rockwell Nebula, they don’t destroy any frigate or cruiser. I just get lots of “No Effect” [1] messages before being defeated. They are somewhat immune to my fighters. How do they do it? What kind of modules do they have? What is the secret? :wink:

cloud-3.steampowered.com/ugc/595 … 97A7B05AC/
cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/595 … C72BDF195/

I briefly played and replied to your posted fleet.

I noticed you have no armour on your cruisers.

This means the wimpy laser weapons a fighter carries can inflict damage to your cruisers (firing from under the shield bubble) faster than a repair unit can repair the ship. Although I did not play the Rockwell Nebula recently I can surmise that the units there were armoured so your laser fighters’ damage was deflected by the armour.

Also small frigates with really small shield bubbles makes it difficult for fighters to fire underneath… Best way to take out a frigate is use a rocket armed fighter.

My rule of thumb for cruisers is to ensure the average armour on my cruisers are at least a few hit-points above the armour piercing level of a fighter laser. Add a repair unit and this means for a while your cruiser will be immune to laser fighters. For frigates its a mixed bag - they will forever be the victim in a fighter heavy kerfufle.

Also using a tractor beam would help in your anti-fighter defences more so than defence lasers.

Thank you Berny for your reply. I wasn’t aware the shield does not work when firing from inside! Indeed, the health bar (green) was decreasing while the shield bar (blue) stayed 100%. Was wondering why… :slight_smile: So now I know the difference between a shield and an armor. And I know how “armor penetration” works. Laser fighters have 8, pulse fighters have 3.8. One Ultraheavy Armor gave me 8.53 average armor, will check if it’s enough. What do you prefer - Nanobot or Armor-repair only?

I was playing with tractor beams today and it didn’t work well. 8 defense lasers worked better than 4 lasers and tractors each. What is your experience, how do you usually use it?

I will check your challenge replies if I have some luck.

I personally prefer nano-bot then to armour repair units.
That’s me.
I am sure someone would disagree.

But now to answer your problem…
Whenever you view a challenge always hit the REFRESH problem. I have a very similar problem and I find it goes away as long as I refresh each time I view a challenge. Annoying. But workable.

Now to deal with my own GSB problems.

Just tried 300 fighters for ~25k. They did no damage to my anti-fighters with three Ultraheavy Armors. Will check with two or one tomorrow. Thank you.

FYI, I created a sandbox for testing anti-fighters, #3102601.

I played around with anti-fighter cruisers a while ago, against ~1000 fighter swarms of Rebel Icarus laser fighters at ~2.68 speed. For non-mod factions, excluding Parasites, Cruiser Defense Lasers (CDL) are about the best you can do, using 6-8 on a single cruiser, 1-3 repair modules which can fix armor, and 2 or 3 plates of armor (enough to get over 8 average; higher is better, of course, since it gives the repair more time to work) and a shield with enough resistance to bounce fighter lasers (shields do a considerable amount for cruiser survivability against anything). 5-7 Cruiser Pulse Lasers (CPL) with one or two tractor beams (TB) work next-best. Against those 1000-fighter swarms I was playing with, I’d see a victory with roughly 12 cruisers armed exclusively with CDLs, as compared to roughly 18 cruisers with CPLs or CPLs and TBs. Interestingly, against laser fighters the CDL cruisers performed less effectively when I added TBs. Not certain about the CPL cruisers, because it’s been a while since I tried it. Also note that the exact numbers of cruisers will change based on which races you play with and what weapon load-outs you choose.

As for why I excluded Parasites: against a ‘true’ fighter swarm, the Parasite’s Flak Cannon is a wonder weapon. I mentioned that I needed 12 cruisers with 8 CDLs each to kill off 1000 Rebel Icarus laser fighters. Using the same hull (Physalia) and replacing seven of the CDLs with Flak Cannons and the last with either a Tractor Beam or a Supercharged Tractor Beam (I don’t remember which, though I suspect I used the standard version), I was able to win about 2 out of three attempts with just two such cruisers against the same ~1000 fighter swarm (this is true post-nerf for the Parasite Flak Cannon (CFC); pre-nerf, I wouldn’t have bothered with the TBs, and I think it would have been more like 100% of the time on the win-rate), though I usually lost one of the cruisers even in victory. Always remember when using Flak Cannons that you either need to keep a safe distance between your ships, or you need your ships to have enough armor that the splash isn’t killing them.

As for why I might choose any particular weapon over the others:
CFCs don’t play nicely with lightly-armored ships. This means that they can be a blessing against huge fighter swarms, but they can also be a curse when they start killing your own fighters and frigates, or your lightly armored or damaged cruisers. I prefer not to use them unless I know I’m going to see large numbers of fighters or frigates (preferably both) in the opposing fleet. If you want to use these as a primary fighter defense, you need to have tractor beams or you need to only need something to hold fighter groups down; the primary role for CFCs is either going to be as a frigate-killer, as a counter to true fighter swarms, or as an anti-ship weapon that also happens to kill close escort fighters around the primary target (and no, you can’t use these to clear the way for your own strafing groups unless you’re really careful with target priorities and very lucky, because the splash will kill your strafing groups at least as effectively as it kills close-escort fighters).

CPLs are primarily an anti-frigate weapon, with the potential to hurt cruisers once their shields go down (unless it’s a heavily-armored cruiser) or swat fighters more effectively than the heavy cruiser weapons can. As an anti-fighter defense, I prefer to use them on a one-per-cruiser or one-per-bait-cruiser basis, depending on fleet size and design. The minimum range on the CPL hurts its ability to defend the cruiser carrying it (in fact, if you want your cruisers to defend themselves, CFCs and CDLs are by far the better choice), but the maximum range means that a moderate or large cruiser group carrying these can bring a lot of fire to bear against fighters. Unfortunately, this same higher maximum range means that it’s more likely to have high-priority targets (meaning cruisers or frigates) in firing range, so it will shoot at those instead of the fighters swarming around the fleet. The CPL also needs to have support from TBs to be really effective as an anti-fighter weapon, though unless you feel like it you probably don’t need this to be a 1-1 ratio.

CDLs in my opinion are the best dedicated stand-alone cruiser-mounted anti-fighter weapon in the game for anything except excessive fighter swarms (for that, use CFCs). However, most frigates won’t be hurt by it as long as their shields are up (unless someone isn’t using shields and has a very lightly-armored or unarmored frigate), its short range makes it very unlikely to be able to contribute even to finishing a cruiser (and it certainly can’t hurt the majority of healthy cruisers), and it lacks sufficient range to support anything but a closely-packed fleet for group fighter defense. Still, for space efficiency it’s good - it doesn’t need a TB to become particularly effective, its lack of range helps keep it focused on fighters since those and fast frigates are the ship-types most likely to engage at very short ranges, and it’s relatively cheap. Unfortunately, there are also cruiser hulls which are large enough that the CDL can barely reach the other side of the shield bubble, so it might only be firing at fighters which are already strafing the hull.

TBs are interesting for anti-fighter purposes - they don’t kill fighters on their own, but if they catch a fighter, they can slow it to the point that even main battery cruiser weapons are not terribly less effective than CPLs, CDLs, or CFCs (the low fire rate on most main battery weapons, however, still means that the CPLs, CDLs, and CFCs are generally superior, and the higher tracking for these three weapons also helps as long as the fighter is only slowed rather than stopped). This means you need another weapon system to pair with your TBs. This could be escort fighters (even unpainted rockets will work against fighters caught by TBs), cruisers with CDLs/CPLs/CFCs/Quantum Blasters, or similar, frigates with Frigate Pulse Lasers or Antifighter Missiles or Ion Cannons, or an ‘ignore until main battery has nothing better to shoot at’ policy (best paired with armor and repair), or something else. I personally feel like squadrons of escort fighters are the best pairing, because nothing else gets you as many guns for the same cost (fighters are roughly 1 gun per 80 credits, most cruisers and frigates are more like one gun per 200-300 credits), and on top of that fighters have some of the fastest-firing weapons available, though if you’re going to go in for an escort squadron for every cruiser you might as well just try for fighter superiority on the map. After that would be a mix of CPLs or perhaps CFCs on some cruisers and TBs on other cruisers. CDLs often lack the range to pair with TBs on other ships, and besides which are effective enough against fighters without TBs.

Some Anti-fighter Tactics:
Bait Fighters - fast fighters intended to lure enemy fighters off to who knows where. Only works if your opponent has set fighters to engage other fighters, and depending on ranges and other orders (e.g. rescuer) may also need to have a higher priority for attacking fighters than for attacking frigates or cruisers. These can be unarmed, but if they don’t carry a real weapon they will often be ignored in favor of something more dangerous, so rockets tend to do well here.

Dogfighters - if you think you can get a better fighter force than the enemy has without hurting the rest of your fleet, you might as well obtain fighter superiority or supremacy on the map unless you want to spare the budget. This can be local, in which case you want to use escort orders, preferably on something that can contribute a little to the dogfight and which is likely to draw enemy fighters to it, or global, in which case you’ll be allowing your fighters to range freely across the map (note that attempting global fighter dominance is unwise if you’re on the posting side of a challenge - you can always figure out a way to exploit the targeting or driving AI, or come up with a better group of fighters, or set up traps when you have the advantage of being the one attempting a challenge, and a large fighter force that can be drawn off or broken easily is a significant investment that will likely do nothing for you). This might turn into your own fighter swarm, however, and if it does you need to make certain that your fighters are the better fighters.

Anti-fighter Tanks - basically a heavily-armored cruiser or frigate intended to simply endure fighter attack. Best to include shields to reduce the number of hits on armor, which reduces the frequency of ‘lucky’ hits which hurt armor. Also should include something that can repair armor, and a weapon so that the attacking fighters don’t lose interest. Often good as a core ship for local fighter dominance strategies, in which case you might also play with carrier modules (though I’d rather spend the credits on more weapons or more fighters).

AA Ships - ships with lots of anti-fighter weapons. Work best if they can draw enemy fighters to them. These are also good for the core ship for local fighter dominance strategies. These are what I was playing with in the tests described in the first section of this post. Frigates with anti-fighter missiles work well in this role, especially when TBs or painter fighters are involved, as AFMs have the range to support most of the fleet. Note that AA ships either need range or numbers if they can’t draw fighters to themselves, and should probably be deployed in areas of the fleet where they can protect as much of the fleet as possible (this can be off to the side of the fleet, if they can draw the enemy fighters off in that direction, or it can be in the center of the fleet so that their guns cover several nearby ships).

AA Weapon per X Ships - spreads out your AA, making it less likely for you to have a significant loss of coverage, but also making your fighter defenses less capable of dealing with any one ship being swarmed. I usually use some variation of this.

Fighter Escorts - cheap fighters deployed to shoot at strafing fighters and given orders which keep them close to important ships. This can be a local-superiority dogfighter defense, but usually for me it’s more of a ‘draw some of the enemy fighters’ fire and try to kill a few while doing so’ kind of thing. Rockets work if you have painters or TBs or don’t care how quickly enemy fighters die as long as they aren’t shooting up your cruisers (probably meaning you went for the ‘draw enemy fire’ variant of the escort fighter), lasers or painted rockets are somewhat better but cost more than just rockets. Painters work if you’re using a missile for anti-fighter duty (meaning you have anti-fighter frigates or rocket fighters in your fleet, excluding mods), but like lasers and painted rockets tend to cost more than pure rockets.

Sufficient Armor - put enough armor on your ships to make them stand up to strafing for a while and hope for the best. This can mean a focus on killing the other guy’s cruisers and frigates fast enough that you win before the fighters break the armor on enough ships to matter, and is a good idea with any form of anti-fighter strategy. If you’re going for the ‘ignore fighters and hope for the best’ variation of this, it’s better to bring ship armor up to around 20 average (perhaps higher) to give your ships a bit of leeway before lucky shots break the armor. This variation leaves you vulnerable to fighters and fast frigates (since fast frigates are mostly countered by the same weapons that you’d use against fighters), but depending on opponent fleet composition could allow you to destroy the main portion of the enemy fleet quickly enough to claim victory without needing to deal with the enemy fighters. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. All of the other anti-fighter strategies should be combined with some minimal form of this just to avoid module effectiveness losses due to strafing damage, even if it isn’t enough armor to bounce fighter lasers.

Like Berny, I also prefer Nanobot Repair units to (Advanced) Armor Repair units, since Nanobots are still useful once the armor is gone (assuming they haven’t used up their supplies) and work faster. If I’m particularly concerned about fighter attack, I might try for a 1-1 ratio of repair units to armor modules since that makes the armor nearly impervious to lucky hits. However, I will only rarely carry more than three armor plates on anything but a dedicated armor tank, which means it’s not that much of a sacrifice to have two or three repair modules.

I prefer to mix tractor beams with escort squadrons, particularly if the race I’m playing has poor fighters (Empire, Alliance) or the race I’m facing has good fighters (Tribe, Rebels, Swarm). I also usually find that I’d sooner have one defense laser or one pulse laser on each cruiser than one tractor beam and an escort group or a tractor beam and an anti-fighter weapon of some kind. Usually I also won’t have dedicated anti-fighter ships because they tend to get out of position or are too vulnerable to enemy fire. Also, a 1-1 ratio is a bit excessive - at best, any weapon shooting at a fighter has a ~50% hit chance, so I would never go for more than 1 tractor beam per two anti-fighter weapons. If I’m using tractors, I’d rather go something more like one tractor per three or four anti-fighter weapons. With anti-fighter frigates and tractor beams, I’d usually have one frigate tractor beam and then fill the other hardpoints with a mix of Anti-Fighter Missiles and Frigate Pulse Lasers (mostly AFMs - probably fit one Frigate Pulse Laser and two or three AFMs, or perhaps leave out the Pulse Laser, but I like to have an alternative in case of ECM or ‘better’ targets). Tractor Beams on cruisers usually mean I’m leaving anti-fighter duties to escorting fighters or frigates, am making a collective anti-fighter umbrella with Cruiser Pulse Lasers or Cruiser Flak Cannons, or am making a fighter trap.

Also, I generally use standard tractor beams instead of supercharged tractor beams on cruisers - supercharged tractors just don’t really seem like that much of an improvement, and the standard version is cheaper.

The game manual includes this information, though the actual statement is somewhat misleading, and is only a sentence or two - if I remember correctly, it implies that only fighters can achieve hits from beneath the shields. However, depending on your weapon load-outs, orders, and the vagaries of battle, you can have frigates and cruisers achieving hits from beneath the shields of their targets. Note that the whole ship does not need to be under the shield - only the turret (or more accurately the point of origin of the weapon which is used for determining whether or not the target is in range) needs to be under the shields of the target vessel - you can fire from beneath a vessel’s shields, but if you’re targeting its neighbor and are still outside the shields of that neighbor, the strikes will still hit shields rather than hull. For anything except fighters, this is too unreliable to count on as a good way around enemy shields, and even for fighters it can be unreliable against frigates or small cruisers, and I don’t think that any base-game ship is large enough that you could pull this off with fighter torpedoes or fighter rockets. My rough estimate for whether or not a weapon can be fired from within a ship’s shield bubble is that the minimum range of the weapon needs to be less than two-thirds the length of the target ship, though I have not done any testing to check that ratio.

One other interesting feature of the ability to damage a ship from beneath the shields is that shield bubbles remain intact even if the generator is destroyed, but the generator will no longer recharge its part of the shield, and if it was the last operational generator the shield will lose all its resistance.

8.53 average is sufficient in some cases, but not in all. 8.53 works for normal fleet actions, especially if you include some other form of fighter defense, but won’t do well against a swarm of laser or pulse laser fighters. Pulse laser fighters perform slightly better in the strafing role than laser fighters, but are slower and more expensive, and are therefore more vulnerable to anti-fighter weapons and defending fighters. Fighter torpedoes look like they should be the pre-eminent fighter-borne anti-cruiser weapon, but because of how slow and expensive torpedo fighters are that title falls to laser or pulse laser fighters, but they can work as a sort of extra missile battery for your cruisers (I’d sooner use rockets, though - they’re much cheaper, generally more survivable, and messes up enemy ECM just as well, and probably wouldn’t be doing much to healthy enemy cruisers anyways).

Also, sorry for the double-post, but I only noticed some of the questions on re-reading the thread and wanted to have the quotes in place to indicate what I was replying to.

Aeson, thank you very much for your thorough response. That’s a whole lot of knowledge. It will take me days to try everything out. :slight_smile:

I recently took on a challenge by Berny_74 in which the cruisers were very nearly immune to all weapons fire. Their armour resistance is higher than any weapon available in the game, meaning that only “lucky hits” can actually damage the armour at all.

Although this is not technically cheating, it does strike me as being against the spirit of the game, since it means that even if you can destroy the ship, it means waiting around for hours for your vessels to score enough lucky hits to finally bring the armour down, after which the enemy ship quickly crumbles, due to low hull strength. This basically equates to spending ages staring at “no effect” messages, instead of the explosions and flying debris you would expect from a large-scale battle.

“True dat”…

But - if you are faced with an armoured tank cruiser - you can be assured it has minimal weapons and in that case your relatively fast nomadic ships should have come right in to knife range… Most charged up and stopped flat at far missile range - which are rendered relatively questionable when faced with scramble beams or in the case of the Parasites - Revenge scramble beam.

Appropriate orders will cause your fleet to shoot over the tanks in ‘retaliation’ into the other offending ships. Also - faster weapons, like cruiser lasers will by their nature accrue more lucky hits and whittle the armour down quickly to a point where Beam Lasers can get through. The average armour is approx 75, just slightly over the armour abilities of a beam laser.

Every fleet has a counter.

Sent you a non-armoured challenge for your benefit.

Much appreciated.

One thing I thought was quite clever was that the armoured cruisers were protected by fighters which seemed able to avoid all weapons fire unless slowed by a tractor beam. Combined with heavy armour, this is a good way to render a cruiser almost invulnerable to fighters. Note that the armour has to be very heavy to repel fighter torpedoes, although this problem can be solved using anti-missile defences.

Anti-fighter defences do not have to all be on a single cruiser to protect it from fighters. Deploying ships nearby armed with tractor beams and guidance scramblers can stop even the most determined fighter assault.

If you search on the forums there are topics about tactics to employ…

Especially the use of a decoy fighter - fast cheap and designed to be no more than a method to distract your fighters from the real target.
In your case the decoys were at the armour point and I believe that I had the armoured rocket/painter fighters were pinned on a ship behind to sucker punch your fighters, far back enough to stay out of laser range and to flee easily to an awaiting carrier.

Removing the ‘Attack Fighter’ orders will allow your fighters to ignore other fighters and concentrate solely on Cruisers and Frigates thereby rendering decoy fighters ineffective. And personally I would avoid the Torpedo armed fighter as it is nothing more than a stone albatross. The rate of fire means that a laser fighter actually will do more damage in the same set of time and its low speed make it vulnerable to weapons that otherwise would always miss.

Still awaiting a retaliation…