Help with Fighter Usage

Basically, I am failing at this game, so I decided to start from square 1 and try to understand one type of ship (fighters, the simplest) before moving on.

I had managed to fail my way to Battle for Mexallon II, with its 150 pilot limit, and unlocked all fighter equipment and Federation designs (so Leopard, Falcon and Hawk). The five fighter weapons seemed pretty straightforward to me at first glance: Laser Cannon and Pulse Laser are for attacking other fighters, Rockets are for Frigates, Torpedoes for Cruisers, and Target Painters for support. I also made a cheap Rabbit Cruiser with a Hanger to repair the fighters. My Fighter designs are:

Rocket Fighter: Federation Leopard (Rocket Launcher, Advanced Ablative Armour, two Engine Is, speed of 3.58)
Laser Fighter: Federation Falcon (Laser Cannon, Power Generator I, two Engine Is, speed of 2.24)
Torpedo Bomber: Federation Leopard (Torpedo Launcher, Advanced Ablative Armour, Engine II, Engine I)

I’ve monkeyed around for a while and these seem to be the fastest designs I can come up with (minus Ablative Armour of course)…is it possible to be faster then these?

I have been able to defeat Battle for Mexallon II with 100% fighters but it appears to have been a fluke as now I am having MORE trouble using the Rabbit Carrier to win, not less…

What keeps happening is: the enemy sends two groups of Rocket Fighters my way. My Laser Fighters attack them as they are set to attack Fighters at 100%. The enemy Rocket Fighters cannot hurt my Cruiser anyways, but my Laser Fighters take FOREVER to defeat them (I used 5 squadrons once and the time did not change much). This means that my Torpedo Bombers get ripped apart by the guard fighters around the enemy Cruisers, as well as by the Cruiser defense weapons. You can’t set a Fighter squad to guard another Fighter Squad as far as I can see, so there is no way to get them to protect the Torpedo Bombers :frowning:

Also Torpedo Bombers seem to be really, really vulnerable and don’t do much damage to compensate, since they seem to miss all the time even against Cruisers. Also, they are so very slow due to the Torpedo Launcher mass. The only way I found to compensate is to use Target Painters, which means I need to bring my Carrier in close or put a Target Painter on a Fighter hull. I have tried a Target Painter Hawk with a little success, but they are useless once the bombers die, and if I try to put a Painter and a Torpedo Launcher on the Leopard Hull, it slows them down even more!

Different orders don’t seem to help either. I have tried Cooperative, Vulture, and Cooperative + Vulture (no appreciable difference between the three either) and if I set my Bombers to escort the Carrier they either remain out of range until the enemy Cruisers can close (if I set the Rabbit Carrier to max range), or the Rabbit Carrier runs in and dies (if I set a normal range).

So, am I doing it wrong? Should I go back to trying all three ship types at the same time? Is this a bad level to try all-Fighter on?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

First up, use a faster fighter:
Laser Fighter: Leopard, laser, power generator, engine II
This is speed 2.54, much better.

Second… Only one of the ships on this mission has enough armour to slow a laser fighter down for long, so you can skip the torpedos… The frigates aren’t loaded out for anti-fighter, so you don’t need rocket fighters either.

Just put down 150 fighters and you’ll win this mission (make sure you set their engagement range versus cruiser to 100, so they get within the sheilds.) I set orders:
Attack Fighters 100%, 100
Attack Frigates 50%, 100
Attack Cruisers 1%, 100

They ended up spending a minute or so on the armour tank cruiser, but the enemy antifighter loadout is very weak on this mission, so it really didn’t matter at all.

In terms of tactics for using mixes of fighters… You can use position to help - use a slower torpedo design (maybe with 2 torps), and deploy that in the corner, with the intercepters up close. You can also use supporting craft, like deploying a few anti-fighter frigates, or a cruiser or two stacked with cruiser defence lasers and tractor beams, to help speed up killing that first wave.

One trick to have your ships attack in order, is to have a ‘trigger’ ship. Have the bombers in formation with the trigger, a fair way behind it. Have the fighters escort the trigger. Your fighters will fight the enemy fighters that come to attack them, and when the main part of the enemy fleet gets close enough to the trigger (a fragile cruiser is usually best) the trigger gets killed and your torpedo ships will break formation and join the fray.

I’m not so sure fighters are the most straightforward. They might be in terms of design, but getting around their orders and the odd counters they have is a bit of a hassle.

Somewhat. The role of the damage lasers is a bit counterintuitive due to their tracking. They actually fit more of a general damage role. If you look at the damage and reload rates of the fighter weapons, the king of absolute killing power is actually the pulse laser by a very wide margin. The advantages of the other weapon systems come from their ability to defeat shields or armor. If they aren’t necessary, go with a laser instead.

However, a general rule of thumb is you need the tracking speed of your weapon to be higher - much higher, preferably - than the speed of the targets you are attacking. Since it’s possible to get the rocket fighters well over 3.5 speeds, this can make them unfeasibly difficult targets to down with 2.9 tracking fighter lasers. I can’t comment on the specific challenge you’re playing as I don’t know if those fighters are that fast, but this is a problem you will eventually run into later.

We’ve been getting around that tracking problem to some degree by combining target painters with rockets on the same hull. It’s still going to take a while to down fast fighters even with those… because it’s a bit like swatting flies with a Buick.