Any use for frigates?

I am playing for about 2 weeks now and i can handle Cruisers and Cruisers+Fighters Fleets (Playing Rebels as i like their Hulls), but what concerns me now is use for frigates. I have a problem even with last “Training Mission” ([Battle Above Edyai IX]) because it does not allow Cruisers, having only 60 pilots available at the same time (this mission is 100% frigate dependant). I finished all other Trainings in all three difficukty setting and i can not finish this one on Normal.
Does Any of You have any good idea about Anti-frigate Frigate?
There is more. In few guides i read that frigate is very versatile ship as it can be used both as Anti-fighter as Anti-frigate or cruiser-distract ship, but niether of them works for me (not only Rebels but same with Alliance and Empire - i just don’t like Feds). I can build pretty Useful Fleets as long as i avoid any frigates use. The only thing i get from using Frigates is Very fast drop from 100% to 70% without scratching enemy (or just by killing few fighters). So is there any Use for frigates? Could they be really useful? And if answer is YES could anyone give me somee tips on how to build them effective way?

Frigates can be useful sometimes. For killing other frigates, try Frigate Smallbeam Lasers, Frigate Beam Lasers, Ion Cannons, Phasor Cannon Mk IIs, or Rapid Fire Lasers (incidentally, these are the same weapons that I would recommend for use on Frigates intended to be used against cruisers, with the exception that against cruisers the Disruptor Bomb and EMP II missile are also useful). All of these weapons will penetrate any Frigate shields, as well as the most common levels of frigate armor (especially the Frigate Beam Laser - it is very, very difficult to get a Frigate to have 49 or more average armor, and even if it does, it’ll be extremely slow and underarmed, and die to cruisers). The majority of these weapons will work reasonably well against fast frigates, since the tracking speeds are usually higher than I would expect the speed of a usable Frigate design to be. If the opposing fleet has a lot of fighters in it, try to give your frigates an average armor of 12 or more (to protect against fighter rockets) and go in with a fighter screen to distract and kill aforementioned enemy fighters. Painter fighters and antifighter missile frigates can provide fairly effective antifighter defense, but you might be better off going for some form of armed fighter and a frigate more inclined to killing other frigates.

Alternatively, if there are no cruisers allowed, you could try creating a massive fleet of rocket, rocket/rocket, or rocket/painter fighters and telling them to prioritize killing frigates, and watch as the enemy frigates crumble beneath massed rocket fire. Painter/rocket fighters will perform better in dogfights against other fighters, rocket/rocket fighters will (probably) kill frigates faster, single-rocket fighters will (probably) survive longer by virtue of being faster.

As general advice, frigates are mostly useful as fast-moving harassment forces in the absence of fighters, or slow-moving heavily armored support ships for cruisers in the presence of fighters. Ion Cannons tend to be favored weapons for frigates, because Ion Cannons are one of the better Frigate weapons for taking out cruiser shields, and don’t perform that badly against other frigates or fighters (reasonable performance, not great performance).

I would not recommend the use of any frigate missile weapons except for EMP IIs (good for temporarily disabling enemy ships, and if brought in sufficient quantity can keep a fair number of enemies out of action), Frigate Torpedoes (for bringing down shields, though you’re probably better off with something else), and Disruptor Bombs (also bring down shields, but have the potential to do so much more quickly than almost any other weapon in the game, especially if you face one of the rare shield tanks). Ion Cannons are generally better against cruisers than either Phasor Cannon IIs or Rapid Fire Lasers because Phasor Cannon IIs will bounce off of Cruiser Reflective Shields and Rapid Fire Lasers deal less damage while having more difficulty penetrating armor. Smallbeam Lasers are, I think, more prevalent than Beam Lasers, because of their greater range, but Beam Lasers do somewhat more damage and penetrate armor more easily, so it’s a bit of a toss-up here based on your preferences. I would not bother with the Frigate Pulse Laser because of its very short range (though this may be useful if you think someone skimped on armor and you want a frigate to sit inside of a cruiser’s shield bubble to shoot at the cruiser). Antifighter missiles are alright at their namesake job, but a tractor beam and regular weapons (or your own fighters) can be at least as effective.

I look forward to hearing the experts expound on this subject myself because I with you: I can’t find any good use for frigates. But, I’ve already discovered that there are no hard-and-fast rules in GSB and often there are ways around most problems, but they’re non-obvious, so I expect to hear some stuff that never occurred to me. So, here’s where my thoughts have led me so far, and I eagerly await enlightenment.

To me, the only decisive factor in battles is the strength of your cruisers (or dreadnoughts, if you have any). Cruisers can obliterate frigates and fighters without trying too hard. Cruisers are the only ships capable of trading punches with their opposite numbers with any hope of still being useful afterwards. So, the battle boils down to a contest between cruiser masses. Everything else is must either enhance the power of your cruisers in the decisive engagement with the enemy cruisers, or stay at home.

So, where do frigates fit into this? They are extremely vulnerable to all cruiser, almost all frigate, and even common fighter weapons. They thus cannot stand up to even the secondary battery of a cruiser, cannot duel enemy frigates and hope to still be viable afterwards, and can’t survive on their own in the presence of most enemy fighters. So, whatever you want frigates to do, they must either remain behind the battle line but still under its AA umbrella, or be assigned their own escorting fighter squadrons. This placement dictates 2 general types of role for them: support and independent.

Supporting roles can be direct (contributing weapons fire to the decisive cruiser engagement) or indirect (shield-boosting, AA, or point defense, etc.). All roles are overshadowed by the extreme fragility of the frigates. Always remember that frigates only continue to exist because the enemy has bigger fish to fry. If that ever changes, even for a couple of seconds, your frigates are toast.

The usefulness of direct support is limited by 1) the very few weapons you can fit into a frigate, and 2) the generally shorter range of all by a few frigate weapons when combined with the necessity of placing the frigates behind the cruisers. Of the available weapons options, fast missiles are probably the most effective, followed by plasma and EMP. But for frigates to make a significant difference in the cruise slugfest, you need to buy several frigates. That costs as much as a cruiser and the cruiser will survive much longer, so I’d buy another cruiser instead.

Apart from the Empire’s shield-booster, frigates aren’t much good for indirect support, either, for the same reasons as above combine with the limitations of the frigate modules. In the AA role, the Anti-Fighter Missile is virtually useless at all times and completely useless once attacking fighters go into their “whirligig beetle” attack dance. This leaves the Frigate Pulse Laser, but it lacks the range to provide much coverage to the cruiser mass when fired from the rear rank, and it has a huge minimum range so can’t defend the frigate itself. This means that the cruisers have to carry their own AA weapons to cover the frigate, which defeats the purpose of having the AA frigate in the first place. As for anti-missile work, frigate modules can’t provide fleet coverage unless you buy a lot of them and spread them out, nor can frigates carry the gizmos that improve point defense effectiveness. So again, you’d be better served to have a dedicated AA/anti-missile cruiser, or give each regular cruiser its own defenses.

This leaves independent roles, such as harassing the flanks and trying to get in a sucker punch once in a while. As already mentioned, this sort of job takes the frigate out from under the fleet air defense umbrella so, if there are any enemy fighters about, your frigate will need a fighter escort. The escort will cost 1.5 to 2 times the value of the frigate, so when combined, you’ve spent as much as a cruiser. And what do you get for that? Just something that MIGHT cause a very brief distraction before being vaporized. Better to put the money into another cruiser for the decisive part of the battle, IMHO.

So, having taken a look at Battle Above Edyai IX, I would strongly recommend some form of fighter fleet. Everything in that scenario is designed to kill frigates (at least on the easiest difficulty), with an abundance of frigate Smallbeam Lasers, Ion Cannons, and Frigate Missiles. Also, the opposing fighter forces are primarily (maybe entirely) rocket fighters, which are perhaps the best fighter-type in the game for killing average frigates. On my end, the Scenario has a pilot limit of 80, but it doesn’t matter as I could beat it with three squadrons (48 fighters) of basic fighters (I was using Swarm at the time, your results may differ somewhat). Depending on your chosen race for the attempt, you may have different results. Laser fighters should also work, but I would avoid torpedo fighters - virtually every weapon used in the scenario except for the frigate missiles should have a greater than minimum chance of hitting a slow-moving torpedo fighter, and torpedoes tend to have some difficulties hitting moving frigates (and are almost hopeless against fighters). If you do want to make a frigate fleet to fight out that scenario, then I would recommend trying for an average armor of at least 40 (for temporary immunity to the Smallbeam lasers) or go for Imperial Weapon Platforms armed with as many Smallbeam Lasers as possible with heavy fighter escort to keep the opposing rocket fighters from killing your gunships. Frigates with 12-39 average armor would be alright if it weren’t for the presence of all the Smallbeam laser-armed frigates which should enter range of your frigates shortly after the enemy fighters close the range, which is a recipe for disaster (i.e., the smallbeams break your armor and the fighters rapidly shred your frigates). Frigates with enough armor to temporarily ignore the Smallbeams (at least until some lucky hits reduce your armor) are likely to have so little firepower that they won’t kill anything before their armor goes down, and besides that will be extremely slow (and still probably require a fighter escort to properly deal with the enemy fighter presence).

My recommendation, if you come up against a problem like this in the future, is to try to identify the weapons being used by the opposing fleet and see if you have something available to you that can counter that weapon. Fleet of frigates? Try fast-moving rocket fighters (even if the frigates are using Antifighter Missiles - although if they do have a lot of Antifighter missiles, just go for a frigate with 12 or so average armor and a good antifrigate weapon or three).

Important weapon attributes to check when designing are:

  1. tracking speed (can I make a ship that is nearly immune to this by virtue of the ship’s speed being higher than the weapon’s tracking speed?)
  2. rate of fire and damage (can I make something with enough shields that this weapon won’t really give me any difficulties/put enough repair modules on that it won’t chew through the armor without help/etc)
  3. maximum and minimum range (can I make something that can destroy this from outside of its maximum range/inside its minimum range?)
  4. weapon type (EMP - is an EMP Shield worthwhile? Missile - can I get enough point defense without sacrificing too much firepower? Will adding one or two point defense weapons to my design take away enough enemy firepower to be worthwhile (try it anyways, you might be surprised - but not on this scenario)?)
  5. armor/shield penetration values (can I make something that is armored to the point that the enemy weapons will not hurt it (average armor greater than highest armor penetration of all enemy weapons) or find a shield generator which will bounce most or all of the enemy weapons (shield resistance greater than the highest or most common shield penetration value)? More importantly, can I make something which falls in between and negates a part of the enemy firepower for a long enough period of time for my ships to kill most of theirs? Shields are better for this second part than for the first part, unless you’re using cruisers and the enemy forgot to bring anything with 27 or more shield penetration (in case of a tie, I believe penetration wins, which is why proton beams will occasionally bring down cruiser shields))
  6. Weapon damage can also be a factor - maybe I can’t make something that outlasts the enemy, what if I try for something that will kill them faster than they can kill me?
  7. Maybe I can’t make a practical design that can do any of the above - will adding EMPs/Disruptors (and maybe shield regeneration beams, if you’re the Empire) help?
  8. If none of the above help for beating a given scenario, it’s time to try looking at another type of ship (or a combination of ship types - missiles become far more effective under most circumstances if you have something with a target painter and similar attack priorities as your missile ships do, and it doesn’t need to be on the same ship).

The above also applies when designing a ship to try to counter a ship your ships are having difficulty hurting - what weapons are you using that are/are not getting through the shields? Through the armor? Is the ship outlasting yours because you simply cannot do enough hull damage in a short enough time-frame?

Another consideration is whether or not you can design something that can fire from underneath the shields of some ship or another and still hit that ship - in the case of fighters versus anything, this is almost always “Yes!”, though with varying percentages of shots wasted by being fired from outside the shields while on the inbound and outbound legs of the strafing run; with frigates this is more difficult and you need to be more careful in your choice of weapons, as you need to check the minimum range of each weapon you consider for this purpose and also consider the hull size of the target ship (Cruiser? Yes, you can probably design a frigate that will sit under the cruiser’s shields and shoot it up. Frigate? Maybe if you’re up against a large frigate or find a frigate weapon with a particularly short minimum range, but I would not count on being able to do so); with a cruiser, well, it’s possible, but you have to have a fair amount of luck in enemy fleet orders, and I wouldn’t count on staying under the shields very long.

Works on all 3 levels.

Two squads of 8 each decoy fighters.
Simply Engine, Rocket. Orders retaliate and engage at 2000. Draws off the fighters.

Almost even distribution between two frigates. Both are Nomad Ummur-class ships.
A)A fast Frigate armed with 2 Ion, Speed of .99, 1 shield. Power and crew to get you into the green.
B)A fast Frigate armed with 1 Ion, 1 Pulse, Speed of .99, 1 shield, Power and crew to get you into the green.

Placement is fairly random as long as the decoys run up ahead.
The frigates are fast enough that most weapons (even rockets) miss, and the decoys keep the fighters off the back of the frigates. Pulse lasers, short range, are decent AA weapons when a squad gets in the way.

I find fast frigates to have better chances to survive - but in most cases frigates die fast and hard.

Finished Argo.

It occurs to me that GSB is very analogous to real naval warfare circa 1890. In those days, there were 2 main types of fighting ships: predreadnought battleships and armored cruisers. These are represented in GSB by cruiser hulls with 17-18 and 15-16 slots, respectively. ACs were powerful enough to stand in the line of battle although expected to take a pounding doing it. The reason for having them was that they were, due to the then-current propulsion state of the art, the only ships capable of accompanying the battlefleet across the oceans while still being slightly faster than battleships so they could do some scouting. And despite being slightly weaker, they were still expected to stand in the battle line (although also expected to get shot to pieces).

Then there was the tragically misnamed “protected” cruiser, which really had no effective protection. The analog is the GSB frigate IMHO. These were small, weak ships, but they could be faster than armored cruisers if so desired. However, they were too small, wet, and short-legged to accompany the fleet across oceans or remain with it for very long on blockade. While their guns were a minor threat to the more lightly armored parts of battleships and armored cruisers, both opponents could blow them out of the water without breaking a sweat. Thus, at this point in time, they had no real fleet role other than relaying messages (this was in pre-radio days so fleets could only communicate with flags and blinking lights). The main job of protected cruisers, therefore, was conducting “cruiser warfare”. The protected cruisers of 1 side would attempt to capture enemy merchants and the protected cruisers of the other would try to stop them. So back on Earth, if you had a global empire, or expected to fight somebody who did, then you needed lots of protected cruisers. But otherwise, they were a waste of money.

Finally, there were the torpedoboats and the recently introduced destroyers, which were just slightly enlarged torpedoboats. IOW, GSB fighters. Given inadequate protection, (as in being caught at anchor at night without any picket boats or anti-torpedo nets out), torpedoboats were a serious threat. With adequate precautions, they were a non-issue. And in either case, they had neither the endurance (measured in hours) nor sea-keeping qualities to accompany the battlefleet at sea. IOW, they were a defensive weapon guarding your harbors against enemy blockades and/or invasions. Unless the attacking fleet was right across the English Channel, it wouldn’t have either TBs or DDS with it.

Anyway, that’s where I"m coming from in my thoughts on frigates: they’re GSB’s protected cruisers. So just as there was no battlefleet role for protected cruisers in real life, same goes with GSB. Now, if there was a non-gratuitous campaign going on, frigates would be essential to maintaining or attacking far-flung stellar empires. But with subspace communications and such things, they don’t have much place in fleet battle.

Or so it seems to me, but I’m a noob :slight_smile:

Right it did it with 4 squadrons of Pheonix fighters (3 with rockets 1 with lasers). Respectively with 76-7, 57-8 and 39-6.
Builds: (Medium Engine+Small Engine+Rockets+TP) x 48 - Attack frigates 100/450, Vulture, Co-op
(Medium Engine+Small Engine+Power Generator I+Fighter Laser) x 16 - Attack fighters 100/300, Vulture, Rescuer, Co-op

What to analogies: Game fleet divide is analogic to Homeworld except that we have o corvettes (though light Frigates like Loki fits that place).
Capital Ships -Cruisers
Frigates, Corvettes - Frigates
Fighters, Utility ships - Fighters.

Just make some with 2x ion cannon in the front and some more with 2x beam lasers in the back.

Or you can just kill them all with 80 fighters. Switch to rebel, put 2 rockets on 1 fighter, put 1 target painter on another. Spam them at a ratio of 4 to 1. AI wise have rocket fire in group and focus fire while setting painter on “rescuer”. Priority obviously set to max frigates. Always have last stand for every ship because you rather have disarm ship help tank another hit rather than wall hug on the left side.