I have started playing GSB again after taking a year off due to frustration with the campaign. I don’t think things have improved.

I just lost a battle between a huge number of rebel fighters (mine) and two empire cruisers. I had 0 losses, and was chipping away at the empire cruisers when I lost. Winning was a matter of time for me, but the game decided otherwise. Stupid and frustrating.

Is there a way around this?

There is a draw timer that calls the battle if too much time has elapsed since the last ship took hull damage. Battles will be called in favor of the side with the higher percentage of their fleet strength remaining (whichever side has a green background behind its score percentage), but if one side has cruisers or frigates while the other side has only fighters, the side with only fighters will lose when the draw timer kicks in regardless of the score percentages.

There is also a special loss condition for fighter-only fleets: when a fighter-only fleet has only half the remaining strength percentage of the opposing fleet, the battle is usually declared a loss for the fighter fleet. This rule can sometimes also apply to mixed fleets, if all frigates and cruisers are destroyed before the last fighters are and the opposing fleet has sufficiently great remaining strength. Note that this rule does not always kick in, so on occasion you can have fighter fleets that cannot hurt an enemy fleet drop all the way to the 10% loss condition even if the opposing fleet remains at 100%.

Ways around this:

  1. Bring more fighters. More fighters means more critical hits, which means armor breaks faster, which means that you’re more likely to start dealing hull damage before the draw timer kicks in to call the battle. Also consider using pulse lasers on fighters which are dedicated to strafing cruisers. Pulse lasers are somewhat less effective at dogfighting than laser cannons are, but are much better at strafing cruisers and frigates. Also consider giving vulture orders to dedicated strafing squadrons, as this will encourage them to switch from targets they cannot hurt to targets that they can hurt, which helps you more even if you eventually have to retreat from the battle.
  2. Have a secondary fleet of cruisers or frigates to deal with high-armor opponents. Use your fighter swarms to clear enemy fighters and low-armor ships from the opposing fleet, and when you start seeing all your fighters pile up on ships that seem immune to your attacks, retreat. Then send in your cruiser or frigate fleet to pummel the well-armored enemy ships.
  3. Use a mixed fleet, at least until you can get a fighter swarm of 10 or more full squadrons going.
  4. Pay attention to how the battle is going. If you’ve been sitting there for a minute or two watching a cloud of “no effect” warnings stream off of enemy ships and still haven’t broken the armor, it’s time to withdraw your fleet and come back with something else.
  5. If you already have a large swarm of laser or pulse laser fighters, consider mixing in some torpedo squadrons (for Rebels, I’d suggest painter/torpedo/engine II/engine I/armor III or painter/torpedo/engine III/armor III/armor III Atlantis bombers - be warned that full squadrons of these cost more than some cruisers do, and if you already have painter fighters in your swarm you might drop the painter for a second torpedo or additional armor). However, if you mix these in you must make certain that you always have fighter supremacy and that the enemy fleet doesn’t have large amounts of high-tracking weapons, or your bomber squadrons will take severe losses. Nevertheless, these can strip the shields from cruisers and frigates, which makes your strafing laser fighters more able to hurt enemy ships, and can penetrate normal levels of armor on cruisers. Also expect to have to replace these frequently.

Edit: One more thing - if you lose a battle in campaign mode, and parts of your fleet remained alive at the end of the battle, you can expect to see your own ships mixed in with the survivors of the enemy fleet when you next engage the fleet you lost to. So if you lose a fighter swarm to an enemy cruiser group - congratulations! That cruiser group now has a large fighter screen, with whatever orders you had given your fighter swarm.

Thanks for the detailed explanation. Unfortunately, none of that makes the game more fun. When combine with the lack of a save/reload feature, and the fact that I keep losing ground to attackers who would lose without the timer, I uninstalled the game again out of frustration. I didn’t even know about the losing fighters to the enemy, which is just a further kick in the teeth.

I have had no trouble beating all of the stand-alone challenges the game ships with (not user-created ones, which are far harder), but cannot beat the campaign on the smallest map on the easy setting using the same tactics and designs I did for the challenges. You may want to tweak the easy mode, or make an easier one, when writing a GSB2. I am a casual gamer, and want a diversion that isn’t too hard to beat - if I wanted to be frustrated and stressed, I’d log back in to work in the evenings, not fire up a game!

But that’s how the Campaign is; the opponents are random and more-or-less suited to the size of your own fleet most of the time.

If you’re having trouble beating fleets that you seemingly cannot harm, this means that your ship and fleet designs are flawed. Yes there is a draw timer and if it’s 100% vs 100% you’ll lose. The enemy fleets are taken from online challenges, I think, and uploaded into the campaign, and Tank Lures and other Tank designs are popular out there. This means that unlike in the “normal” mode you will have to make sure that your fleet:

A) take down shields
B) take down armor
C) does not have its own shield and armor taken down

I have basically four fleet designs:

  1. fighter spam, 15+ squadrons of laser cannon cheap fighters (as quick as possible) - it is important to have this many to take down Tanks. If a minute or so go by without damage, I retreat.
  2. Multiple Warhead Missile spam with Anti-Rush and Anti-Fighter support, set to Formation. (usually at least 6 MWM and 3 AA)
  3. Cruiser assault spam. 0.20+ speed, 10+ armor, 500+ shield cruisers with 2/3 anti-shield weaponry and 2/3 anti-armor weaponry, set to Keep Moving etc
  4. Frigate assault spam. 0.50+ speed, armor not necessary but nice to save on repairs, 1 frigate shield II, with 2/3 anti-shield weaponry and 2/3 anti-armor weaponry, set to Keep Moving etc.

I also usually make a Frigate plasma+EMP spam with Anti-Rush and Anti-Fighter support set to Formation, but this is not more efficient than the 4 above. Mostly there for variation.

So what you are saying is that when you encounter a fleet that has a Tank or two, you don’t know what to do? Send in Assault Ships! Lasers! There’s a counter for everything and quite frankly just spamming with fighters would make a very boring game. It is efficient and will win you most battles alone, but sometimes you just encounter so much fighter-hate that it is pointless going on.

The timer must be there but it is annoying in some cases, where I knew I could win if just given enough time (they cannot harm my fighters) - but that’s the rules of the game. Not a reason to uninstall the game, really.