I was wondering what details do you get about the enemy fleet and if the details you get can vary from battle to battle. By details, I mean ship position, ship turrets, number of ships, types of ships, etc.
Tactically, the defenders would be able to detect and prepare their armies for an incoming armada while attackers may know the size or composition of the enemy fleet but maybe not the positioning of it and they have to set their ships positions before attacking.
Currently what you get is a visual representation of the fleet, so you know roughly how many fighters, cruisers and frigates and their deployment formation. You don’t know how many weapons each has, or what type, until you try your first fleet against them though…
There is definitely scope to expand upon the design to vary the amount of pre-battle information though.
The notion of Tactical Intelligence is a real balancing act for gameplay. If it’s too watered-down, it’s just a useless bit of color copy that adds to the flavour of the game without materially impacting events. Too much, and the game tips over in favour of reading the enemy’s mail and sniffing his network packets instead of frying him via, well, gratuitous space battles.
Perhaps some of the enemy’s module choices could become known via either prolonged observation prior to engaging in battle, or maybe a limited-availability Scout (“Science”?) module could be purchased to make one ship per side better at Tac Intel. Such a Scoutship could hang back behind the first line of battle and relay its findings from a position of relative safety. I could see the use of a Scout module being the gateway for tweaking the amount of pre-battle data, as cliffski mused on above. Combinations of multiple modules per ship, or multiple ships with one module each, would shape the way you’d deploy your fleet - both to take advantage of the data accrued, as well as allocating defense craft to guard the precious Scoutships.
This may be too disruptive, but I adore the notion of a Scoutship doing a prolonged scan of one enemy ship of choice and probing its shields until it finds a weak spot. If that is achieved, the next attack on that enemy unit does double damage. Or all further attacks on it consistently hit for 110% normal damage instead? Many possible ways to execute this idea, if it’s ever added at all!