Depends, really - the point of defenses is to allow you to survive to reach close quarters. If you’re facing heavy fighter opposition on a large map, you’re going to need armor and repair systems or you’ll get butchered well before contact with the enemy capital ships. Otherwise, you’ll want shields to absorb ranged fire as you’re closing the final gap.
It needs to close to range FAST, so armour is a no (it’s heavy!)
Oh, and… It needs to close to range FAST, so you’ll need plenty of engines… And a CQC ship isn’t worth much without heavy firepower… So that doesn’t leave room for much else.
My close quarters cruisers usually have no armour, relatively light sheilding (two fast regen generators, if I remember right), and FIVE engines. Fighters are dealt with by the combination of my own fighter screen, and similarly fast antifighter frigates. If the enemy fighters are going for cruisers first, I might lose one or two on a big map, before my defenses wipe them out. If the enemy fighters go for the frigates or fighters first, then even if that part of the battle goes badly, it’ll still easily tie them up long enough for my cruisers to finish their own engagement first. In a typical battle with my rush fleet, I’ll lose one or two cruisers as I approach, then the tables quickly flip as my ships come into range.
EDIT: Well, there is another type of CQC ship… The slow variant that just parks in front of your ‘arty’. This one would have very heavy sheilds or armour. I rarely try for both on the same ship any more… Sheilds are either light, mainly to block fighters, or extremely heavy in an attempt to actually stay up for the duration… Armour is either light to block fighters, or extremely heavy (needs to be huge if you want to reflect cruiser beam lasers…) It’s not easy to get both on the same ship and still have any more than trivial firepower (a single target painter each on a line of extremely heavy tanks placed in front of missile ships can be amusing though.)
but without a minimum of defense you don’t get the cruisers in range before ithey are damaged or destroyed, no matter how fast they are (and more than 5 engines aren’t that effective, since the powergens you’ll need slow you down).
i like the idea of close combat cruisers aswell, but as i said in another thread, the engines in general need to be buffed.
as for the question: i prefer shields over armor, because shields can regenerate while you approach the target, but armor is damaged (unless you sacrifice space for repair modules) when you finally enter combat.
plus, i’m thinking that once your shields are down and you are so close to the enemy, that little bit of armor would just delay the inevitable.
it depends on the overall build, but with close combat cruisers i don’t leave home with at least 3 shields and 1 armor, sometimes it’s 4:2
Well… I used to agree with you about the engines, until I put together my rush fleet, although perhaps engines are only good enough at the moment because the short ranged cruiser laser is so much more powerfull (at killing cruisers, anyway) than any other weapon.
Check out the challenge I put up on 10/27/09 “Aggressive Rebel fleet…” under the username “Dogthinker”. The cruisers in that fleet have only one shield, and no armour… Yet it’s standing at 63:596 - it takes people an average of 9.5 attempts before they manage to defeat it… And I’ve improved my cruiser and fighter designs since I posted that fleet. It’s clear proof of my statement that speed is a reasonable substitute for defense for short ranged ships.
In a mixed fleet, I can see why toughening them up would be more valuable though - no point having only a fraction of your fleet in range at a time, so it’d make sense for them to be a little closer to the speed of your slower ships, but able to soak more fire.
Kaoseth’s “non serious attempt…” fleet is probably the best rush fleet I’ve seen so far. He deploys dozens of cheap armorless 2-gun frigates that will drown any defense in disgusting levels of firepower. You simply cannot take them out fast enough. Good luck taking that fleet on without using rocket fighters… I’ve been trying with that handicap all morning.
Speed gives an evasion bonus, so a fast army can be very survivable.
i should mention that i play mainly federation and am just starting to experiment with rebels.
while i see that speedy frigates can be really effective, they aren’t that easy to create for other races without the omnipresent speed bonus the rebels get.
at least that’s what i think, you may correct me if i’m wrong
(cruiser) Shields are good for deflecting the armor piercing weapons on your approach, but most close range weapons are the high shieldpen, low AP type. Shields never last long against those types of weapons, and they fire very quickly.
If all ship fights were 1v1 I’d be stacking armor behind a single deflection shield that only needs to stay up until I’m in minimum range of beams. Of course, it’s rarely 1v1 happening out there.
Use a bunch of laser fighters ordered to only attack Cruisers. That fleet will die quickly and nigh-painlessly. I only lost my first attempt, very narrowly (8% to 26%), because I bothered to allow my fighters to engage your fighters. Correcting fighter orders switched it to roughly an 80%-20% rout. With no armor, those cruisers go down extremely hard to laser fighter swarm.
Yeah, it’s a superb frigate-based fleet… but, like 90% of frigate fleets, it still dies hardcore to rocket fighters. Beating it without using rocket fighters is much like beating a plasma fleet without using engines - yes, it’s going to own you when you deny yourself use of the counter.
Also, interestingly, one of the reasons that his fleet is so nasty is because his frigates DO mount shields - it gives them the necessary edge against laser fighters and other frigate swarms.
Yeah, the version I use to take on other challenges has matured a lot since that design. I still maintain though, that you get better value by investing in anti-fighter cruisers/frigates than you do when you compromise speed and firepower by putting two armour on every cruiser. That particular version of the fleet is very, very light on anti-fighter.
Lately I’ve been thinking sprinkling in a mix of dedicated antifighter cruisers and frigates, and swapping out half of more of the interceptors for rocket or torpedo bearing fighters instead, since the fighters don’t really do a great job. Putting two or three heavily armoured antifighter cruisers in front of the swarm should negate a fighter assault quite efficiently.
It might be worthwhile to anchor the ends, and perhaps the middle, of your line with armored cruisers that can absorb fighter swarm. They don’t even have to be anti-fighter, per se, just armored enough to not die while your other ships kill off the enemy fleet (which usually means investing at least 3 slots - two into armor, one into nano-repair to repair critical hits).
I’d like to see a more focused antifighter build on your terms though. Only in glacially-slow fleets have I seen effective firepower-based counters to fighters (often because they mount armor as well as tons of anti-fighter weapons at the expense of speed). Actually, in slow fleets, I’ve seen remarkably effective frigate-based fighter counters.
Dogthinker is absolutely right, engines are more important than shields, I’ve won engagements with a 4-engine 2-shield rebel cruiser design. My current builds have 4-5 engines, 3-4 shields always more engines than shields, just enough armor not to 'splode when pinged by a laser fighter. Based on some comments I’ve read on these forums, I’m thinking of going with no armor and using a nano-repair bay to just fix what the fighters break on my way in.
Back that up with frigates tuned to be the same speed but start a short ways behind, those carry anti-fighter missiles and a tractor beam each. No, they can’t kill the fighters “in time” but they do keep the fighters busy – something about being tractor’d and shot out of space seems to piss off fighters enough that they focus on the frigates.
I find that this allows me to at least reach close quarters in pretty much any engagement. Won’t always win, there are counters to this sort of tactic but at least I don’t get mauled at a distance.
Beating it without using rocket fighters is much like beating a plasma fleet without using engines - yes, it’s going to own you when you deny yourself use of the counter.
Well, part of me is/was hoping that fighter spam is a counter instead of the counter.
I find fighters finicky things, with the normal outcomes being either spectacular success or failure - it’d be good to have another option to fall back on, if possible.
Doesn’t hurt to try, no.
Well, one counter to any rush fleet… Is the same fleet but with less engines (i.e. the same weapons… Just more of them, since your opponent has been obliging enough as to close to range for you… Hence why it’s simply impossible to make an unbeatable rush fleet.) It’s a lame counter though, of course, since slow short ranged ships are useless against anything except a rush fleet.