SO I purchased the game last night after reading about it, and played for about 5 hours (very addictive).
Am I doing it wrong? I finished the Fed campaign and unlocked all races, ships, and modules in about 5 hours. Was it supposed to go that quick? Tonight I am going to see how fast i can plow through the other three campaigns. Once I unlocked everything I really stacked on more ships in the deployment to finish the fights faster. Once i figured out how to get 15k honor per fight, it only took a few battles to unlock everything.
Anyways, my strategy (I looked for a strategy section on the forums, is there one?) after losing very very badly with my first several designs was to create a cruiser without engines and frigates without engines. I added 1200 meter range cruiser missiles to the cruisers, all 8 slots, lots of shields, and some armor.
With the frigates I did the exact same thing, with the exception of swapping out anti-fighter missiles for the weapon.
THen I stuck them in the bottom or top corner of each battle, like so:
Stacking them in the corner means that rather than hitting my battle line all at once, the enemy ends up getting strung out in a long curved line to approach me, which almost guarantees that my 1200 meter missiles will only have 1-2 targets to engage at any given moment.
I used fighters the first time, but after seeing how easily the 30-40 Frigate anti fighter missiles chewed up attacking fighters, I dropped them completely in favor of more honor. I set the frigates to only engage fighters. I set the cruisers to engage Frigates at 1200 meters with 80% attack, and to attack cruisers at 1200 meters with 50% attack and to ignore fighters. Once honor was no longer an issue, I added more stationary cruisers.
Even on expert mode this seemed to work quite well. There are some obvious weaknesses to this, primarily the orders prevent the cruisers form defending against fighters if all the frigates die. But the frigates are supposed to die in this battle, they act as a shield to the cruisers, in addition to pretty much obliterating attacking fighters. I suppose if an enemy used a lot of fighters with larger weapons, lots of speed, and sent them in to target frigates and to concentrate fire, it might overwhelm my Frigate defense line. However I have found that the number of anti fighter missile defense systems present on my frigates outstrips the allowed number of pilots in most (if not all ) scenarios. SO this may be a non-issue.
I did run into some issues where slower enemy cruisers were escorted by fighters, and by the time the cruisers and fighters were in range, all my frigates were destroyed, leaving my cruisers defenseless against the escort fighters. However this was usually too late in the battle for the fighters to make a difference.
The missile salvos from a cluster of cruisers is pretty awesome looking. As soon as frigates came within the 1200 meters, they almost invariably died in one salvo, or even half a salvo. Very satisfying watching two or three enemy Frigates go explody as soon as they hit range. Cruisers would take 2-3 salvos, unless several cruisers entered range simultaneously, then even with concentrated fire (note below) the cruisers would manage to last a lot longer against my salvos, but not so long that they were much of a threat.
When the scenario required mobile ships, I just swapped one missile launcher for one engine, and upgraded the power supply.
On the scenario with shields being ineffective, I used mobile cruisers (is a cruiser still a cruiser if it cannot cruise?) and stacked armor and tons of armor penetration lasers, but this was done before I started using stationary battle lines.
I didn’t really notice much of a difference between using vulture commands and concentrated fire commands and no extra commands.
The scenario was a LOT more effective when I ordered my cruisers to ignore enemy fighters and my frigates to ignore enemy capital ships.
One improvement I am thinking of is putting an additional two frigates behind my cluster of cruisers, to nail down those late to the party fighters.
So anyways I am going to have to upgrade to tribe, probably tonight, to see what kind of fun stuff it adds.