I just got back into this game, and just finished that battle mission from a “fresh start”- no mods, no unlocked upgraded gears, just stock beginner modules/ships, and the beginner federation race.
I really like Caspian IV on hard- its a well orchestrated multiwave attack. I faced it with all my forces concentrated in the top corner, so this is how their battle planned out, from that approach:
Wave 1: the fighters single out your frigates, going for easy kills/ mismatch of forces early, and crippling any fast moving support you may have brought in them.
Wave 2: The Front line hits- the Cruisers and frigates, just powering into your force- EMP, lasers, the works. And if you overcome THAT…
Wave 3: The missile spam. Slow moving cruisers with lots of missiles arrive late, all lined up to punish any survivors of wave 2.
[note- its probably wise to start in the top corner so you dont get all 3 waves at once]
Now, My strategy may not be anything new/exciting. But it was effective.
14 fighter squadrons. simple gun, small engine, light armor. Nothing fancy
- fighter orders are deleted attack cruisers, Stick together, Cooperative, Vulture, Retaliate. The attack frigates range is set to lowest. (so they are more likely to strafe the frigates and get shots off inside their shields, rather than veer away and only plink the shields). I removed the Attack Cruisers order because it made them waste time on invulnerable cruisers, rather than peeling off to assault something somewhere else. These deal with Wave 1, and do some payback as well, hunting out all enemy fighters, then raiding frigates wherever they can be found.
10 Cruisers. Just big slow brawlers. It was a buffalo, and I think it had 3 cruiser lasers, 2 beam lasers, 1 heavy plasma, and a missile scrambler. Its shields were a mk2+ reflective (so it can simply reflect most laser hits), and its armor was the mk2, and 2 of them, with a repair module. This made it tough, slooow (only room for 1 engine), but did was it was designed to do: clumsilly lumber into cruiser laser range, surviving the trip, and rapid fire everything to oblivion in record time. It was good at this, and Even while being emp-ed the other 9 cruisers took that time to deal the real hurt in the midst of Wave 2.
26 frigates. I named them Plasma Barges. 4 plasmas, shields, double engines, and enough power to keep it all running. These are kinda cheesy, possibly, But I hold that they are a key element of war: the bombardment. 26 times 4 plasmas on each is… yeah, 104 plasma shots at once. These frigates were set to Keep Moving, and their attack frigate and cruiser ranges were set to 1100. (plasma is 950, but the 150 extra compensates the frigate’s maneuvering- it wont stay out of range). this keeps them at long range, and the bombardment just roars on in all game. In battle these hang back behind the cruisers, and dont get all suicidal rushing past them; they just hang back, slowly shifting left and right, and by mid-late battle are formed in a hemisphere around the enemy forces, lobbing plasma the whole time. The neverending hail of plasma DEATH assists in dropping shields, killing frigates, and more importantly; winning the end game long range battle with Wave 3.
All of these ships were crammed up in the top corner, cruisers up front, as small an area as possible.
And thats it! like I said, probably not the most original, but It worked just fine, leaving me roughly 65% at the end, and being 5000 honor points under to help unlock those extra goodies. And no upgrades/mods.
Hopefully explaining things out a bit gave you an idea on how you may want to try to tackle this battle. Good luck!