Hedgehog ships in challenges

I’d seen the term ‘tank’ ship bandied about here and there, and considered it to be a heavily armoured ship, but light in the way of weapons or much of anything else. I’d never actually encountered quite such a thing until a recent challenge on the big map (300 pilots, 80,000 points).

The battle started in typical fashion, with my steadily moving cruisers closing on an enemy formation; itself apparently very light in the engines. Whenever a battle opens like that - with my ships sailing toward a bunch of fairly motionless opponents - somewhere the thought arrives that I’ve spent money on engines where my opponent has not.

The battle actually opened well, with my formation closing in on one end of the other line, and beginning to execute the classic, ‘crossed t.’

There was a certain ship though; after 4 or 5 of the others on their left end had melted away, this particular ship was taking a pounding and not exhibiting any symptoms of real damage. So there it was: ‘the mythical tank ship!’ Or was it? To me, it seemed like a giant hedgehog.

Whatever you want to call it, the thing served to soak up volleys of my ineffectual fire before the rest of his fleet closed and engaged, relatively unscathed.

That was a great tactic. I don’t know what other people call that sort of ship, but ‘hedgehog’ seems like a good name for it. In that particular setup, the hedgehog ships (one on each end of the overall formation) were pretty much the only ones moving with any real sort of speed. So, their apparent assignment was to close with my fleet, and soak up damage while their much slower sister ships could close in and seal the deal. I think it was brilliant! I’m going to have to watch for that in the future; and perhaps find ways to employ it myself.


i’ve encountered this once, was some imperial cruiser.
one or two beam weapons, apparently one engine. i think it took my frigates and fighters about 5 minutes to destroy it.
however, the rest of his fleet was long gone at that time…

i like that idea and i’m just testing some “tank” designs myself and it works somehow, but i’m not entirely satisfied.
especially because i don’t like to abandon engines for armor or firepower.
i don’t know, about half of the challenges consist of those “look you engine fetishist, when i don’t use engines i can use more plasma/rockets to kill you since you have to come to me anyway” fleets. which gets annoying.

well, in theory i would counter those tanks with the vulture order, since my ships would concentrate on the most damaged enemies. not quite sure if it works though.
i’m investigating.


A great way to counter such ships are the “retaliate” and “rescuer” orders. Your ships will naturally gravitate towards the enemies who are actually shooting at them with more than token weaponry.

I generally think “aha, my opponent is going to let me pick the range of the engagement.” After a few missteps with badly designed fast ships, I discovered that engines are not the automatic waste of money that they’d first appear. They have loads of hit points and when combined with nanorepair serve as a kind of armor once you’re at fighting range.

I call mine “chew toy” – I use it for just the purpose you describe, initially as a way to beat the “expert” difficulty on the single player game.

I use what I simply call Shield Cruisers. They’re ECM/ECCM punching bags. They’ve got Cruiser targeting beams to help with outgoing fire, missile scramblers and point defence systems to deal with incoming missiles, a ton of shields to absorb incoming fire and an anti-emp systems to keep it working. Sit them out in front of my fleet to absorb in coming fire. I also have Frigates with a similar set-up to protect my other cruisers.

I usually name them “Distractor” or “Jinker” – their mission is to be a combination of tough and fast and set to “Keep Moving” so that they can utilize their speed to dodge as many hits as possible while the rest of my fleet has time to close in. I feel like that’s more reliable than “tanks” that are slow but tough because tanks tend to melt under plasma fire whereas fast ships can dodge a lot of it.

I always fit 1 gun to them just to deal with what Corbeau said – setting your ships to “Retaliate” or “Rescue” will generally result in them ignoring a weaponless ship, so always fit 1 weapon to my ‘hedgehogs’. (I generally fit an EMP weapon.)

Actually, I think that any ship without weapons gets ignored by the default AI. I’ve certainly had fleets without such orders completely ignore poorly built (no weapon) tank ships.