So first attempt at the campaign, results in brief: Each scenario defeated on the first try, no capital ships lost.
In more detail: So I knew something about how the set-up worked and so I decided I’d try it with a fleet design that I don’t find particularly fun to watch but which I know to be effective at keeping ships alive. Lots of missile capital ships with some support. I didn’t bother building any designs specially for the campaign but went with a fleet. The fleet had 3 Dreadnoughts of a class I call ‘Siege Tower’. Purely artillery and lots of it. I had 3 cruiser class carriers each with two small fighter bays. These ships also featured clocking fields and extra engines. My typical procedure is to give each a few sets of fighters, some with pulse lasers for dog fighting, others with torpedoes for tearing up larger craft but to set all of the fighters to escort them so that they don’t rush in ahead of the rest of everything (max length escort but escort still) The cruisers are fast enough to dodge somewhat well with cloaking and has lockdown weapons and act as being the closest equivalent to the GSB1 cruiser laser bruiser cruisers I liked to make (cruisers designed to get on top of other capital ships and tear them apart with close ranged weapons). The fighters all were built as light/cheap/fast as possible and as they’d be staying near the cruisers they had small fuel tanks. I filled in the rest of my fleet with beefy armored missile platform style cruisers I call Hailstorm and a few destroyers to lend point defense, shield beams, and anti fighter cover.
I saw that the first level presented few enemies so I figured my priority was to keep my fighters from dying. I put my carriers right in the back and used minimum length escort. It proved to be completely unnecessary as the enemy fighters were completely incapable of dogfighting mine when several swarms with ‘stick together’ were gated tightly on top of each other. I lost a single of the torpedo fighters as my only casualty for the entire level as the rest of the enemies melted under the hail of missile fire, smart bombs and all. The smart bombs bought them quite a bit of time but they simply weren’t dealing enough damage (as in hardly any) for it to matter.
The rest of the campaign was mostly much the same. There were only a few hiccups that seemed remotely threatening. The first was when the enemy and their swarm of what I expect were missile fighters (smartly) went after my destroyers instead of my fighters. Well they quickly beat down my shields and somewhat more slowly beat through my armor and did indeed destroy all the destroyers. They were however completely incapable of doing anything to my cruisers and my own fighters were in a different area. After I destroyed the rest of the ships in the fleet the still swarming fighters surrendered. The second hiccup was a mission where there were no shields. At first this concerned me, then I realized the enemy had no fighters so I decided to take a risk and to skip on the escort command on my still largely intact fighter fleet. The entire enemy fleet evaporated before my capital ships even got into missile range. The maps and enemy fleets kept getting smaller and smaller but save for the loss of a few more torpedo fighters my fleet remained unchanged from the time the destroyers vanished. The final thing that was even remotely disturbing was running into the last mission where enemies attacked from multiple angles. As the vast majority of my weapons were forward mounted this might have been a problem but it proved to be trivial as I could position so that my forward arc caught the only enemy dreadnought and I positioned my carriers near the ships behind me which evaporated quite rapidly.
Feeling a bit underwhelmed I started another one just to check and make sure that the missions would remain unchanged and there was that same first fleet again (or at least one that looked identical to what I remember) staring back at me.
To be honest, compared to the galactic conquest mode of GSB1 this felt dead to me. In my mind the purpose of the campaign was that it pitted you against an endless variety of fleets and forced you to adapt which you could over the course of the campaign. Sure you could build a fleet that would not take too much damage against most enemies but you’d almost certainly run into one that would force you to switch tactics at least briefly. You could also run fleets that would take more damage as long as they were cheap to replace and took down enemies quickly. With this, even if it was harder (and I felt that it should be harder) that would only force you to run a more specific style of fleet every time.
I suppose that the point is supposed to be to see how small an initial fleet you can get away with but honestly, that’s not what I’m interested in. I don’t care about the points and I’d rather swing with everything given me against a challenge scaled for it. Deliberately not using resources just to intentionally make things harder isn’t particularly fun for me.