Frigate AA with Ion Cannon and Tractor Beam

I’ve been experimenting with frigates which employ ion cannons rather than aa missiles or lasers. WIth the ‘tracking time’ of 2.0, the Ion cannon can hone in on an aircraft within the tractor beam. So, it’s a halfway decent aa platform. When it comes to other targets, the ion cannon isn’t half bad.

The ion cannon is pretty much the best frigate weapon in the game, hands down. As long as you have a few nearby cruisers with a couple tractor beams and a couple high-AP guns, the ion cannon will hit pretty much anything at a really high DPS.


agreed. i was so excited about unlocking the phasor cannon, but suddenly realised the ion cannon is superior in every way.

without tractor beam however, the ion cannon isn’t my first choice for aa weaponry.
but as you said, those frigates can fulfill several roles reliably.

hmmm, a special flak cannon with area of effect damage would be awesome… :slight_smile:


That’s a good idea. I may try that. I always lament using dedicated “anti-fighter” systems because it just means the fleet will suck if the enemy isn’t using fighters.

The only problem I see with it is that frigates are typically eaten alive by fighter swarms.

eaten alive and the remains are fed to the pigs! xD

I’m finding my escort frigates are hugely more survivable versus fighter swarms by using armor rather than shields. My FFE frigates are basically a tractor beam, + some combination of ion cannons and anti-fighter missiles, layered up with armor and provided with enough engines to match the speed of the ship they are escorting. Going with armor makes them surprisingly resilient versus the fighter hordes. They still die quickly if they get targeted by enemy capital ships, but keeping them one rank behind the cruiser tanks means they don’t get targeted often, but can still effectively and methodically wipe out the fighters.

I have to reply: I don’t see frigates in my army.

I personally like the 2 tractor + 6 pulse laser ships as they are fighter proof and can then be used to do decent dps.

Frigates or cruisers?


is there a frigate with 8 hardpoints in your game? (don’t say the imperial weapons platform, this layout is only possible without engines)

so, yeah, quite obvious answer, isn’t it?


be quiet!

I just got the game last night, and used full loads of AF missiles on my stationary cruisers. Attacking fighter swarms just kind of die fast when there are 30 anti fighter missile turrets targeting them. Added good shields and armor.

When the scenario called for engines, I just set all ships to escort one cruiser. They clustered into a ball and still chewed up the fighters pretty nice.

And then got raped by everything else.

Actually, the anti-fighter missile is halfway decent against cruisers/frigates with no shields. Of course, more often than not, that probably does add up to ‘raped’ as you say. But, the anti-fighter missile frigate can provide some adjunct firepower to a main fleet.

But should not be relied upon to over power Tribe Cruiser laser death-spitters.

Just played a nasty challenge with some super-fast rocket fighters, and no cruisers allowed. The problem with super-fast rocket fighters is that just employing fighters to shoot them down doesn’t work fast enough - superiority fighters with laser cannons just don’t score enough hits to kill them quickly before they’ve murdered enough of your frigates.

The only FFE I could design that effectively took them down had two tractors, the remaining open weapon modules as pulse lasers. AF missiles just don’t have the tracking speed or ROF to kill fast enough, the ion cannon is marginally better but the pulse lasers really seemed to do the job the best. I’m starting to think this is probably the ideal AA loadout for an FFE frigate.

Of course it is almost next to useless versus enemy frigates or capital ships though.

Cruiser pulse lasers have a shield penetration of 11 and armor penetration of ~31; the toughest frigate shield has a hardness of 10, meaning the pulse always hurts it. Once shields are down the ship is also useful for quickly beating down lower armor values.

However, the DPS may limit the usefulness against Tribal vessels.

He’s talking about frigate pulse, which has a shieldpen of 5 and a rather short range.

If you’re looking at AA weapons, take a look at the tracking and make sure it’s well above the speed of the craft you’re attacking.

2.9 tracking frigate pulse lasers are okay, but aren’t any more accurate than fighter cannons. Neither can hit 3.5+ speed single rocket fighters very well, as you’ve noticed.

The frigate AA missile is fine, but you have to be careful how it’s employed. If all your missiles are attacking the swarm from the same direction with cooperative orders or something similar, your fire is going to have lots of overlap. It’s heartwarming to see a fighter get smashed by 16 missiles at once, but it’s also not the best use of your launchers.

Does anyone have a challenge, featuring these 3.5 rocket fighters? (Together with a balanced fleet)

I’d like to test my current AA-setup against it:

  • Heavily armored AA-missile frigs
  • Some cruiser tractors
  • mix of 2xrocket and target painter fighters.