A new way of dealing with fighters?

I was noobing around sending myself challenges with fighter swarms, rockets and lasers, to try to work out the best way to neutralise fighters and I stumbled upon this idea which worked pretty well when I put it up against a random fighter heavy fleet.

In a group I used three frigates loaded with two AA missles each and a ton of armour but no shields and a squadron of target painter fighters (exactly like a rocket fighter but with a target painter). This comination seems to be able to beat the same point cost worth of fighters easily. The downside is that after the fighter clean up the figates are pretty useless but on the other hand when the one that the target painter fighters are escorting pops it releases a swarm of very hard to hit target painters onto the enemy fleet that make your missile cruisers more effective.

The frigates dount need much engines either since you put them at the front of the fleet and let the swarm come to you.

I also tried with an AA suppot cruiser with three target painters and two tractors but this is of course a much mroe expensive option.


One thing about painter fighters is that as long as you make them REALLY fast (3+ speed) and have a carrier around, you can get away with half- or quarter-squadrons, which really helps with the pilot cap.


i really like the idea, will try that myself (and i will now try a combination of target painters and rocket fighters).

however, i think the counter depends on how you place these frigates and how much damage they really can absorb.
that said, what would happen if my fighters (with rockets) ignore the painters and go for the frigates directly,
since this strategy implies that the units dishing out the damage (= the frigates) stay unharmed long enough to finish my fighters.

so putting them on the front maybe isn’t always a good idea, since there is no need for the enemy fighters to come to you…


edit: i’ve tested it and i’m not satisfied. the combination of rocketfighters and target painters was epic fail.
the combination of frigates and target painters worked slightly better.
but i’ve encountered one big problem: all target painters concentrate on the same single fighter. and, thanks to murphy’s law, it’s of course the fighter which gets ignored by the aa weapons.
i thought i could get around this by making more squadrons with less fighters, but this didn’t help much.
plus, half of the fighters are not in range of the frigates while painted, rendering the support fighters useless.

I tested the rocket fighter/target painter combo but found that rocket fighter rockets simply can’t catch up to most fighter, no matter how well they are painted.

In my test, I ordered the attacking swarm to go after frigates just like you would in a real fleet. The AA frigates had three or four armour modules each, and that was enoguh alone to protect them against a large number of rocket fighters long enough to be effective.

That combo is supposed to take out enemy frigates, and it works so well it should be banned. :smiley:

I dealt with fighters in a recent anti-tribe* challenge by having fighters of my own to slow the loss of frigates and cruisers but made my own cruisers fast (4-engines per) so I could kill all enemy cruisers before dying by fighters. Very Ender’s Game sort of approach.

*order fighters to kill frigates and cruisers, and only then other fighters for an anti-tribe config.

Target painters aren’t supposed to help fighter rockets. They are best used (IMO) to dramatically increase the effectiveness of long-range missile cruisers, because misses with missiles are incredibly expensive (the missile has to spin out before a new one can be launched).

Yeah, which is a massive flaw in the game, imo. I don’t really see why the ship shouldn’t be allowed to fire again after the missile has missed. It’s not like the missiles ever manage to curve all the way around and hit after the miss. It just doesn’t make sense.

I guess it’s a big plus for fast missiles - since when they miss, at least they ‘finish missing’ a lot faster xD

I actually had a lot of fun with with a target painter/rocket setup on a single fighter as an alternative style of superiority fighter, which is just hilarious to watch. You can get the Achilles to a disgusting 2.72 speed with both equipped, although it costs a good 40% more than a laser fighter.

In a quick test, it appears they’re soundly beating the 2.65 speed laser Icarus pilot-for-pilot.

Uh oh.

And yet, they do. Bonus for the target painter! Yes, I would think that to a fighter, a frigate should be about as easy to hit as a barn from the inside, but watch carefully and you’ll see plenty of rocket fighter v. frigate clean misses. Target paint that frigate and watch it crumble under rocket fusillade.

And just when I thought I had this game figured out too. Now I’m going to have to log another 40 hours testing all the different races for rocket + painter combos v. laser fighters.

2.72? Are you sure? I can only get that one up to 2.67. Still a very fast fighter, but every little bit of speed helps!

Fighter Target Painter
Fighter Rocket Launcher
Two FIghter Engine 2 (72% effectiveness)

4.3 out of 4.8 power consumed, with a cost of 139 each

It’s the fuel stat, which isn’t showing up in game for me today, but is in the module files. Not sure if the speed of the missile affects how quickly this stat is used up, but in general faster missiles have less fuel anyways.

As for the use of missed missiles, They do tend to distract point defense a little bit, but the value of that vs actually hitting is trivial.

I think this is why guidance scramblers are so effective. Not only do they generate a miss, They should slow down opposing fire. Should be able to test this if I mod a missile for lots of extra fuel and…

Yeah, Just use an engine 3 and leave the last slot blank.

nod That did it. Thanks.

The fuel of missiles is literally the number of pixels they will travel at defaualt (1.0) zoom before they expire.

This. Is. Awesome.

I’d thought about trying this, but never gave it a go until you said it worked well… And boy, it sure does.

I just tried having them fight 2.68 speed Icarus fighters point for point. 211 rocket/painter ships versus 300 laser ships. The lasers won, but it took a while for them to open up a gap.

I noticed some funny things happening… Like a laser fighter go shooting out of the pack, with 20 or 30 rocket fighters in pursuit - all the rockets running out of fuel since the laser fighter was travelling almost as fast. It’d end badly for him though, when he was forced to turn at the edge of the map.

The rocket fighter’s hit ratios at the end of the battle seemed to average about 10%. So 90% of the rockets must’ve ran out of fuel (or been fired at a ship that was killed, but I wasn’t using coop, so this shouldn’t have been too bad.

I then tested versus speed 2.99 rocket fighters, then speed 4.40 rocket fighters. They were capable of shooting them down, even when the 4.40 ones had orders to avoid them (range 2000)

EDIT: and a few challenges in, to see how they go… Honestly, I’m loving them. A bit more expensive than regular fighters, but that’s coming out of your fighter defense budget, since you can cut down on cruiser/frigate based antifighter. Frigate swarms really don’t like these fighters… They’re less helpfull against cruisers, but that’s what the rest of your fleet is for.

Well, considering the seizure inducing levels of target painters they throw around, you can find a secondary use for them after local superiority has been achieved (and during). My Alliance fleet is crying.

I just put up a fleet called ‘Rebel Rocket Riot’, if anyone wants to see these buggers in action.

A couple of other combinations for painters/rockets:

25% painter only fighters
75% one rocket fighters
1:3 painter:rocket

or, slower but with more firepower:
25% painter/rocket
75% two rockets

These seem to work very well against some of the fighter designs out there.

I’ve also wondered about the sort of combo presented in the Rebel Rocket Riot; painter fighters tagging opposing cruisers and frigates on behalf of friendly rocket/missile cruiser/frigate. There might be a nifty longer-range tactic available in there somewhere with that sort of combo.


against frigates, this combo is obviously the ultimate nemesis.

but my idea was to create a fighter group that could handle enemy fighters no matter how fast they were (rebels>>>>everyone else…), since the painter guarantees a hit and rockets do enough damage to own fighters, theoretically.
but it seems, the speed still decides if the rocket hits. or it has somethig to do with the movement arc of the fighter rockets (those friagte aa rockets seem to move different).
now i wonder if there’s a certain limit, where speed outperforms the 100% guarantee of the painter.


You can drop the word ‘theoretically’ from that statement. This approach works well. Rebel rocket+painter fighters own rebel laser fighters. They’re about even point for point, but greatly superior pilot for pilot. And personally, most of the time I’ve got more use for a fighter wing that counters frigates+fighters, than one that counters unarmoured cruisers+fighters.

Sort of true. When the fighter is moving directly away from the rocket, the fighters tend to get away. I think most of the hits come from oncoming fighters.

Speed definitely does not guarantee survival though, I tested with speed 7.0 fighters, and they still got nailed pretty quick. This is what makes this combo really nice - it’s reliable. It’ll smash up both slow and fast fighters. I don’t think it’s as quick at smashing torpedo fighters as lasers are, but they still go down pretty quick.

I’m not so sure about mrblitz’s suggestion of mixing up painter only, and rocket only fighters. The big appeal of having the painter and the rocket on the same ship, is that you’re not wasting any fire - the fighter paints it’s own target. A big problem with painters and tractor beams normally, is that so often a target is made vulnerable, but the damage dealers keep going for other targets so it gets away. It’s worth trying out though, to see if there’s a mix that comes out ahead in a big melee.

Longest escort range is 600m, so you would have to tether the fighters to an alternate craft if you want anything further.
Firepower is an issue. The (.28 speed) cruisers in that challenge are extremely low budget - slightly under 2100 credits, running on a single power/crew module. I decided to err on the side of firepower and use really cheap cruisers like that because cruiser rockets, even painted, have something like less than half of the sustained damage potential of a cruiser laser. Those tiny supplemental frigates are a bit more cost efficient and are small enough to be difficult targets for the likes of doorstop fleets - I see them bringing home the win in a lot of cases. The fleet is doing very well against stock race challenges, although I imagine Tribe just crushes the fleet through hitpoint saturation. I’m not aware of their capabilities yet.

With a minimum range order, I’d be a bit more comfortable using quality, high speed cruisers, possibly with carrier modules. Tether those fighters in a bit more and the cruiser can keep armored AA platforms at bay.

Sadly, some science needs to be done in this department - Alliance and Empire don’t have a double-weapon fighter hull. It’s an incredible pain - you get around half the firepower per pilot count, the two fighters become useless when not tethered together, and the slower design always seems like it gets targeted more.