I have been playing GSB for a few days now and been having a blast. However, I do see things that needle my brain a bit when I think about them. I am going to spill them all here, where it may do some good.
Add waypoint path orders
I want to set down a path for a ship to follow, either once during a battle or in a loop.
I figure it would make faster ships more attractive, being able to pull off complex maneuvers will definitely add value to engines beyond “harder to hit” for cruisers and frigates. I think there would be sliders for it, similar to the “Attack X” orders. One slider for waypoint priority, whether it will choose to chase an enemy versus follow the waypoints. And then maybe a slider for number of circuits, how long it is expected to follow the waypoints. You could set it for a long (but not infinite) time, or a short 'just follow it once" time. I say make it limited to avoid a situation where the last two ships are doing waypoints miles apart. Eventually, they will finish the loops and start moving toward each other.
Make Fighter Torpedo disrupt shields
This seems the most obvious buff for a weapon that slows down fighters so much.
The damage just isn’t worth the loss of survivability due to being so gosh darn slow. It’s always better to pack more laser fighters than to waste pilots in bombers.
Making Fighter Torpedoes disrupt shields will add value to it and make shield disruption more visible a mechanic. I am unsure as to how disruption is calculated, but as a sort of rule of thumb, I think 6 to 8 torpedoes to bring down a cruisers shields, and 2 to 3 to bring down the shields of a frigate, would be a fair trade for a fighter laser.
That was going to be a suggestion, but since you’re already on top of that, let me give some suggestions I have come up with based on what I have read on the forums about Galactic Conquest.
Make the AI follow some sort of rules
Basically, make the AI controlled factions limited somehow, in a manner similar (but not necessarily exactly) like the player.
Now, it’s probably too demanding to write a whole strategic level AI that considers all the elements the players do, but that’s no excuse to make the AI follow almost no rules at all. At least something basic to give the illusion you’re fighting an enemy with the same resource constraints as the player.
My suggestion, is make an AI faction download 2 sizes of fleets for his side. Small, cheap fleets, and Gratuitously large fleets.The small fleets cost 1 the big ones cost 3. Then make each planet owned by the AI generate 1 point per turn for the AI. At the start of the game, all the AI planets bordering uninhabited or player planets get a Small, 1 cost fleet. Then the AI Accumulates points. What happens afterward as the player destroys fleets, the AI replaces them by buying size 1 fleets, and if it attacks, it purchases a size 3 fleet in an undefended planet from the AI savings, and sends the Size 1 fleet to attack, then moves the size 3 fleet into position, to attack soon after. I know there is a lot of implied behavior in that, like factions, Defining borders, and determining the size of fleets. However, if you really want to sell the Galactic conquest mode, it has to feel like a conquest, and not “series of random challenges”
Make fighters require a cruiser with a carrier module to move around the map.
I would go further than that even, you can only bring two flights of fighters per carrier module in the fleet. Makes a dedicated carrier ship a viable creation, even beyond saving money on repair costs for fighters.
Nodes of empty space between planets
Basically, all the screen shots show straight lines between planets. I would prefer nodes of empty space between planets, that take up the “moves” of a fleet. These empty space nodes all have the same “Spatial Anomaly”. The “All ships require engines to reach this place” anomaly. This would again make engines more important, and limit engine-less ships to planetary defense.
Also note that you can make branches at Nodes, making interesting tactical situations where controlling 1 node might be important since it connects to a few planets.
Let fleets move more than 1 planet/node a turn, based on their engine speed
This is related to the Node idea above. Make fleets move multiple spaces, based on the slowest ship in the fleet. I would make every “0.10” of ship speed translate into 1 point of map movement, with 1 move at a minimum. This would make fast attack ships, that can swoop in and finish off a damaged fleet trying to flee, a viable setup for a fleet.
Thank you for reading my ramblings.