I love this race but man I can’t win a battle with them to save my life. I’ve tried about seven of the sac challenges with a variety of Empire builds. Tried beam builds, missile builds, rocket builds. Are these guys supposed to be tanks? I would assume so with all the shield boosting bonuses but their footprint on the map is so huge that they can’t be missed. I don’t want to try to make them fast either because I could never make such a huge ship fast enough to actually be missed by anything.
Far and away the most difficult side to get something competitive out of.
Empire hulls can generally be counted on to have more module space and starting power, which can be used for some particularly eccentric frigate designs. The generic shield strength bonus is not unique can be matched or exceeded by a few hulls from other races.
The race-specific Imperial Laser has some curious properties, notably a very large range and decent tracking. Damage is mediocre.
Unfortunately, the airforce is dead last in diversity, and the size penalty of their frigates cannot be understated. Swarm shares a bit of the same difficulty with obscenely large cruisers, but they at least have their fantastic frigates and fighters to fall back on.
In general, playing as Empire, you will get hit more, with their clumsy size also making them difficult to concentrate firepower with. I would hesitate to
call them shield tanks - the shield bonus may only offset their size penalties slightly.
A key to their survivability may the use of other defenses besides shields. Unfortunately both armor and cloaking modules are in a very weak position right now.
You mentioned tracking on the imperial laser. Not having the game in front of me right now, what is the range on tractor beams and is the tracking fast enough to destroy tractored fighters? Could this be a way to possibly engage and destroy swarms of fighters before they get in under the shield bubble?
When you mentioned swarm it made me think of something else. Would spamming an extremely cheap type of ship possibly be an area in which Empire could achieve victory? I’m thinking frigates here. If they are so easy to hit why try to avoid the hits, make so many of them that it doesnt really matter?
It’s a 1.27 tracking heavy beam. Default heavy beams like the CBL and the Proton have 1.02 and 0.64 respectively. In this aspect you’re trading damage and a bit of penetration for consistency against faster targets in the cruiser-frigate range.
What makes the imperial laser notable is the 860m range, which puts it past some missile weapons. In theory it’s good for fleetwide vulture ships looking to hit ships that have lost shields.
Empire frigates are downright strange. If you’re going for cheap spam designs, you’re probably just better off with another race. The increased hull power might help some, but it doesn’t seem like Empire has anything that explicitly favors this approach.
The one advantage of their hulls is the module count, but actually making use of those can result in stupidly expensive designs for little extra survivability. The shield size of the bigger ones means they don’t enjoy the typical near-immunity to laser fighters that most other frigates do, which is reason enough not to use them. The weapons platform is difficult to fully load with weapons while still remaining mobile or defended.
Against some SAC challenges, like the frequent ones armed with Fed Fusion beams, frigates of that size are going to get shredded unless they sit back at range or are cranked up to extreme speeds. Rockets are the least of your worries in the face of those.
A while back I suggested a changed passive cloaking module that empire frigs would share. I really do think they need something like that.
Empire ships do need something extra going for them. Their cruisers are extremely vulnerable to fighters due to the gigantic shield bubbles. Simple laser fighters will chew up cruisers with disturbing ease.
I would like to see the empire be able to overlap the shields, such that empire shields are able to block all incoming fire even if it is not directed at the ship in question, which means frigates can hide within the cruiser shield bubble and be protected by the cruiser’s shields.
Empire ships are very light on hardpoints, so empire ships tend to be expensive and lightly armed.
You can somewhat make up for this by making heavy use of EMP. EMP does not require a weapons hardpoint. Put 1 GS on the ship and the rest guns. Then put in 1 or 2 EMP on each cruiser. While your cruisers will never do as much damage as the cruisers of other races, you can at least level the playing field by using EMP to shut their ships down.
I’ve had good luck using weapons platforms as essentially mobile turrets linked to a cruiser. Each cruiser gets a weapons platform on escort. The weapons platform uses very long range weaponry. The idea is that the slower moving cruiser will be targeted preferentially by heavy guns, allowing the weapons platform to survive long enough to dish out enough damage to make it worthwhile. There’s no need to put shields on it. Just armor is fine, as frigate shields are useless anyways. All it needs to do is survive fighters long enough to spam a bunch of missiles are enemy cruisers and frigates, and by then its usually done its job. Expensive yes, but combine that with the EMP heavy cruisers shutting down enemy ships, and the weapons platforms live a surprisingly long time.
Although the big bubbles make them vulnerable to laser fighters, Empire has the least issues stacking armor on top of shields. You don’t have to do this for all the cruisers, just the bait ships…On that note. The Empire can come closest to omni-tanking - a Praetorian hull can fit 3-4 shield modules, a good amount of armor, and some self repair. It’s amazingly expensive, but it can offer good performance at the front of a fleet.
I also find that one of the more effective empire designs is kitting out one of the smaller frigate hulls with high speed (0.5 - 0.6). Unlike most races, these hulls have enough modules to still maintain some defenses.
Yeah, the huge module count means you dont suffer much from using candy modules like EMP cannons/EMP shields/target boosters/etc. So make the most of em.
One thing I’ve noticed from modding is that empire designs benefit greatly from being able to mount Point Defense in standard module slots. Between their limited hardpoints and their huge size, they normally suffer against missiles…
I’ve lately been using Empire missile cruisers and have had very good luck with them.
1 GS, 3-4 multiwarhead missiles, 1 painter, 1 EMP. 3 shields, 2 pieces of armor, and a repair bay. The ships are very slow but thats fine. The missiles have such a long range they can still do damage even at extreme ranges.
Escorting each missile cruiser is a heavily armored anti-fighter frigate. I use the weapons platform hull and load it with armor, anti-fighter missiles, and a tractor beam. Usually fighters end up rushing ahead of the main fleet, which means the fighters will be engaged on their own. This means there is a combination of target painters, tractor beams, and anti-fighter missiles all firing at the same targets. It eats up the fighters very quickly. Once the initial rush of fighters is over any stragglers that come by are easily handled.
The cruisers are ordered to engage at long range to make the most of their long range weaponry and to keep the escort frigates safe. Anything that gets close is perma-stunned by the EMP and then nuked into oblivion with the target painters ensuring perfect accuracy of the missiles.
In the interests of testing, I threw together a fleet of ships combining the ideas from this thread. The fleet had six elements:
EMP/scrambler heavy tank cruisers.
Missile or plasma DPS cruisers, depending on the foe, in formation behind #1.
Torpedo and beam weapons platforms, in close formation behind #1.
Fast (.8!) ion-cannon-armed or (.87!!) rapid-fire laser armed skirmish frigates, independent from the rest of the fleet.
Tractor beam/AF missile frigates in support of the main body of the fleet.
Laser fighters on long escort over the main body of the fleet.
I only had time to test it against a bog-standard gun-and-CL Tribe fleet, and so the skirmish frigates got slaughtered (I expect they’d do much better against a missile or plasma fleet, or possibly they’d do better with torpedoes and a Keep At Range order). I tried again, focusing on the weapons platforms, and to my surprise that fleet acquitted itself admirably. The weapons platforms each ran about 1000, which meant I could get ~3 of them for the price of a DPS cruiser, and at that point the math seemed to work out in favor of the platforms (I kept the DPS cruisers around because they were much more durable, the weapons platforms relying on the propensity of opponents to shoot for the cruisers first, and much more capable as shieldbreakers) in terms of damage.
Eventually I’ll test and refine against a fast CL fleet (although I continue to maintain that the CL needs something done to it to temper its effectiveness) and missile and plasma fleets.
I managed to get my torpedo skirmish frigates to a speed of 1.02. At that speed they’re very well-defended against cruiser weapons; two torpedo skirmish frigates and two squadrons of fighters managed to kill three frigates and distract a cruiser (which ended up crippled and retreating) for the entire battle.
Cruiser design depends on map for me. But in general I prefer Fast Missile Cruisers the most and have them heavily shielded. Maybe 4-5 shield generators or so on the front line cruisers. The diminishing returns are largely eliminated due to 16% shield boost so I take advantage of being able to use 1 or 2 more shield generators then any other race. If the map allows it I use no armor at all when possible.
I use large swarms of rocket and painter fighters as escorts. I dislike other fighter types. They are too slow. The interesting thing about fast missiles is that they can be used to shoot down fighters if you have painters or tractor beams nearby. Not to mention that fast missiles provide some of the best dps you can get from missile weapons. Due to their accuracy and frequency they are the most reliable of missile weapons which in the end makes them do the most damage I have found.
You can equip lots of toys on your cruisers as well so I take advantage of that as well. Usually guidance scramblers, emp cannons, ECM, or nano-repair bots.
I find the Empire to be complete crap, or at least, beyond my abilities to field effectively.
If you must play them, build frigates with EMP missiles, disruptor bombs and AA, and set them to tailgate the cruisers at a 1:1 ratio. Rocket fighters to distract your opponents’ fighters can also help.
Huh. I must be doing something very right (or very wrong) because Empire is my favorite race. A ship with massive shields and just enough armor to render laser fighters irrelevant can survive for a long time at the front lines. Their weapons platforms pump out ridiculous amounts of fire for their point cost, you just have to squander a a hardpoint or two to bump their armor above “edible by rocket fighters” levels. I find that a couple platforms loaded out with AA missiles and supported by target painter fighters will annihilate any fighters that blunder into their range, and if you keep them to the rear of your fleet they’ll typically survive the battle unscathed. Similarly, weapons platforms filled to the brim with torpedoes are a nice addition to a missile fleet. Don’t be fooled by the shield bonus, shields on your frigates are a waste of money. Give them enough armor to survive whatever fighters might come their way (which means no armor at all for some scenarios) and have them sit at long range tossing torpedoes, plasma, and EMP missiles.
I’ve never really noticed my ships taking much more hits than other types, mostly because my Empire fleets tend to be massive missile lines. A cruiser that’s parked and stationary is pretty much going to be hit by anything with a viable tracking speed, regardless of size - or so it seems, anyways. I haven’t exactly reverse-engineered the odds.
I use fighters as a defensive screen. The fighters escort the cruisers.
Also if the fleet you’re going against has a huge pile of missile defenses you can pretty reliably swap in plasma for your missiles. Plasma spam is still quite effective. Usually only takes a single focused volley to drop shields on a cruiser, then one more to cripple or kill it.
Just the regular plasma. You could put on a target booster if you wanted to, but the gains from it seem rather minimal. You definitely want to use cooperative so you get massive, devastating volleys of plasma that tear through shields, armor, and hull.
Downside to this is that fast frigates are hard to hit. Empire luckily has an extremely long beam weapon, so you could put say 1 beam weapon on each cruiser to catch any frigates that get too close. Frigate shields are a joke, and the beam weapons will make short work of them. You want to keep your cruisers massed so they can cover each other with PD and GS, and also so that the fighter screen can keep their vulnerable shield bubbles free of enemy fighters. To assist with this you can escort each cruiser with 1 weapons platform. Give it some anti-fighter missiles if you’re worried about fighters, or maybe a long range plasma gun to assist with shooting cruisers. The weapons platforms are entirely expendable, but their armor should last long enough for the anti-fighter missiles and your fighters to tear up their fighters. Its basically just a decoy. Also you can put a tractor beam on them. This would give you a large number of tractor beams, rocket fighters, and anti-fighter missiles all in close proximity to each other. Enemy fighter swarms are doomed.
But it just comes down to plain old plasma spam. Not fancy, but it works.
Guidance scramblers can be overwhelmed. I usually partner each of my missile cruisers with a torpedo frigate with a couple EMP missile launchers. With the frigate providing extra projectiles to help tie up the enemy scramblers, it’s inevitable that an EMP missile will get through. Once that happens, their scramblers are shut down and they disintegrate under a hail of laser-guided missile death. I also put EMP cannons on my front-line warships - all the guidance scramblers in the world won’t stop those. Swarm smart bombs are trickier, but subject to the same tactics. If the enemy goes absolutely crazy with anti-missile defenses, then I ditch missiles entirely and go for plasma spam or cruiser-laser fleets.
I use 3 types of Empire fighters, all using the smallest, cheapest hull (Phalanx? Too lazy to look it up.) If the enemy has poor anti-fighter defenses, I use rocket fighters to snipe his frigates. Otherwise, I use target-painter fighters escorting my main fleet in conjunction with AA-missile armed platforms to shred any fighter waves he sends my way. Sometimes I accompany them with laser fighters or rocket fighters to keep enemy fighters off my target painters and to help take down the enemy fighters. Fighters don’t need to be super-fantastic to be viable. Empire fighters might not be great at the sort of deep-strike frigate mauling that other races can pull off, but they can still be used to shut down an enemy’s own fighter wings and to punish an opponent who neglected his own anti-fighter measures.