I just bought the game (I love this game) and I am in need of dire help! My cruisers and frigates suck! No matter how I make them they all die in like 1 minute. Any good cruiser or frigate builds?

Need a bit of info.

Which mission? What’s killing you? What’s hard for you to kill?

Yeah, some info would definitely help.

That said, a few general strategies are pretty universal:

One thing that should always be in the forefront of your mind when designing a ship is what role it’s going to play; particularly, what range you want it to engage at. For example, if you’re building a ship with close-range weapons, you should probably make sure it’s got enough speed and defensive capability to be able to reach it’s target before getting evaporated. Don’t be afraid to use a weapon hardpoint for a defensive module if needs be.

Short-range weapons are wasted on back-line artillery.

Make sure that you’ve got plenty of weapons to take down shields (high shield penetration), then different weapons to do maximum damage once the shields are down. I like beam lasers for the second task, but there are plenty of options. Missiles and plasma are good multi-role weapons because they are good against both shields and armour, but they do have accuracy issues: you can get over this by spamming them, equipping fast missiles (if they miss it’s less time till the next one is fired), adding target boosters or a combination of these strategies.

Make sure your engagement ranges and targetting priorities are always set according to your ships’ roles - assault ships should be closing with the enemy so that they can get all their weapons firing. Consider setting at least some of your fighters to engage enemy frigates first.

Consider removing orders: I remove the attack fighter order from all of my cruisers (except dedicated anti-fighter vessels) to prevent them chasing around the map. They’ll still fire on fighters if they are within range though.

Use co-operative orders to ensure your ships work together. Vulture is handy too.

Keep your ships close enough that they can create ‘killzones’ of concentrated fire. Using formations can be a great way to do this; also, when you’re deploying make sure that your ships’ different speeds won’t pull your fleet apart. This is particularly important with frigates: a group of frigs charging towards the enemy without cruiser support is usually going to get toasted within seconds. If you can keep them alive until the main engagement starts though they can be a great way of bringing some cheap and effective firepower to the party.

Make sure your armour is at least 10 to stop enemy fighters chewing you up. A repair module will heal any critical hits until supplies run out. Other worthwhile anti-fighter defenses are tractor beams, frigate anti-fighter missiles, escort fighters or ideally a combination of these.

Watch the battles closely. See what’s killing you, and plan your next engagement accordingly.

And finally - Experiment! That’s what the game’s about, after all.

Good luck!