Killing those darn fighters

Fighters. I hate’em. Except when they’re mine and they’re killing the other guy’s ships. But when they’re somebody else’s they are always a pain. I wanted to make a thread to discuss how to kill them most effectively.

I typically do not like to carry anti-fighter weaponry on my capital ships. I like to keep all the modules on them directed towards killing other ships, with the hope of using my own fighters to kill the enemy fighters. This, however, does not work very well. Let’s look at the fighter-on-fighter scenario:

Cheap rocket fighters don’t have a prayer of hitting another fighter, especially if it is a fast fighter.

Laser fighters cannot effectively kill masses of enemy fighters, especially fast fighters (speed 3.0+). They’ll zip around blazing away not really hitting much of anything. They’ll kill slower fighters more effectively, but only crazy people send out a slow fighter design.

Rocket + Laser Painter fighters are somewhat effective at killing enemy fighters, however, they are more expensive, and you need LOTS of them to take down a laser fighter swarm or rocket fighter swarm in any reasonable amount of time.

So, I find that if the enemy is fielding large amounts of fighters, I usually have to load up some kind of anti-fighter weaponry on the capital ships. This is where it gets tricky integrating your AF defenses into your fleet. Dedicated AF ships escorting ship-killing ships? or give EVERY ship some AA capabilities? I’ve tried both, but never felt completely happy with either.

Supercharged tractor beams + pulse lasers seem to work nicely, and on frigates, FF tractor beams + ion cannons work nicely, although they take a painfully long time to kill a huge enemy fighter swarm, unless you mount multiple ones on every ship in your fleet. I haven’t played much of The Order yet, I’d like to hear what people think of the limpet mines.

Basically I’d like to hear other people describe what they have found to be the most effective and most satifying way of killing fighters. If there are any magic bullets I’d like to hear about those too, but I don’t think there really are.

I have tested a few designs and really I don’t think there is an easy way to kill fighters, especially those above speed 3.0.

The best way is certainly tractor beams, a good example is a Federation Panther Cruiser with 4 Defense Lasers and 4 Tractor Beams, combined with two squadrons of pulse or laser fighters, will usually whittle down opposing fighters in short order if they decide to charge you. Frigate tractor beams are good in theory but frigates will explode really really quickly to rocket fighters if they are targeted.

Send out hordes of cheap fighters of your own with orders to engage nothing but other fighters. It won’t necessarily kill the enemy fighters, but it will tie them up.

Anything with a laser, pulse or torpedo is 2.65 speed or slower, well in the hittable range of other pulse/laser fighters. The real difficulty is rockets or painters.

The world changes once you cross over the 2.65 barrier, but faster is not always better otherwise. Slow, tanky fighters (like the tribe heaven hull, or some double weapon fighters) can take down light laser fighters on an equal numbers basis, if you’re willing to pay the considerable expense of fielding them and risk decreased survivability vs other things.

Frigates are actually one of the better AA platforms (offensively), and the smaller ones are very resistant to any type of fighter armament that doesn’t involve a rocket.

For quickly taking down the fastest fighters, I find Painter fighters + Frigate AA missiles works really well. The painting effect bypasses the high missrate due to the small size of fighters.

While I have a (mostly) dedicated AA frigate design for pretty much every race, I don’t use them all that much anymore. My current can of Fighter-B-Gone is a Fed Tiger cruiser with tractor beams, one CDL, one pulse laser (possibly a bit more armament that I’m not remembering off the top of my head). I call them the Elitist-class.

While I wouldn’t call it unbeatable or any similar superlative term (because I’m crazy, but not stupid), I find that Elitists tend to reduce most fighter swarms to bits of charred tinfoil pretty quickly and efficiently. And the use of the pulse laser means they’re still armed at least marginally against capital ships (especially since the Elitists usually spend so much time running down fighters that by the time they join the rest of the fleet, there are shields down all over the place).

Not a perfect solution by any means, but they do seem to clean up the swarms pretty well.

I would be a liar if I said it didn’t work, because I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see how one Defense laser and one Pulse laser are going to kill fighters at any rate of speed other then dead slow. How many of these ‘Elitist’ class cruisers do you bring?

Especially since those lousy cruiser captains like to lock on 2-3 tractor beams per fighter.

EDIT: just tried out painter fighters + Anti-fighter Missiles. Worked pretty good. The poster below me is right about needing roughly equal numbers.

Do you use tractors in combo with the AA missiles yurch? I’ve kind of had mixed feeling results with the AA missiles alone. And the painter fighters… they do work kind of okay, but you need a 1 to 1 (or better!) ratio, which is hard to achieve when you’ve got a nasty swarm of the dirt cheap, fast rocket fighters.

I was trying out the limpet mines, but it was hard to tell if they were doing anything at all.

-edit- aaaaah, I see now. Yes, tractors may not be necessary.

I almost never use tractors, actually. They’re expensive, slow, and usually involve a fair amount of inefficient overkill. I avoid vulture and cooperative orders on AA craft for a similar reason.

Tractors are useful for when you absolutely cannot field anything better… usually in survival missions where fighters/frigates can’t last as long.

anti fighter missiles on frigates are really really fun to use against unshielded cruisers :slight_smile:

and I guess fighters, in large groups when combined whit escorts.

Tractor beams are THE ULTIMATE weapon to counter fighters. Load up a few of the most powerful type (I forget their actual name) and you can cut through fighters with relative ease.

Depends on the scenario. They usually also have a squadron of escort fighters - either fast rocket fighters or laser fighters sometimes. Occasionally rocket/painters, but only if the mission budget supports it. For really high-budget missions (the typical 1000 pilots/100,000 point budget) I often use two escort squadrons. Probably should have mentioned the escorts earlier. Though I have used the Elitist without escorts and it works reasonably well. Please bear in mind that I have no problem with ships getting vaporized as long as they do their job - which in this case is shooting down and tying up enemy fighters.

It’s also possible in a few rare cases to make 2.9+ speed rocket fighters that are immune to frigate AA missiles with 6+ armor. Frigates will need tractors to kill those.

I wouldn’t recommend fighters like that, though. The price is outrageous for how little firepower you get.

How to kill fighters?
With boredom.
That’s it, ignoring them. Or giving them an obvious target they can not kill.

Yurch, I tried your suggestion in a few scenarios with the Alliance last night. With each cluster of 3-4 cruisers, I included a half squadron of painter fighters escorting an armoured AA frigate (4-5 AA Missile launchers, no tractor beams). I must say, that was an awesome solution to figher problems. Maybe it doesn’t work against faster fighters? But it felt downright decadent to quickly annihilate the fighters I encountered in those scenarios last night. Thanks for the scoop!

there’s a good weapon in the stargate tau’ri mod: the railgun. it fires quickly and is relatively accurate against fighters.

The Parasites’ flak cannon is devastating against fighters. I have 2 per 10000 credits in my fleet, and never worry about fighters.

One word: Flak

If you hate fighters, then choose to play as Parasites and NO fighter will be safe.

Otherwise keep a cruiser pulse laser as a standard weapon on your cruiser and keep a few cruisers with tractors handy. And provide your ships with an armour rating of at least 12 so you can ignore the laser fighters for a while.

Day 4 and my smurf tattoo looks like it has leprosy.

There’s an interesting challenge up right now that helps answer this question: #4931013 by Leutnant_Man. This is a pure fighter vs. fighter affair where you’re up against 18 full squadrons of Federation fighters. From what I can tell by looking at the .GSB file after the fact, it appears that it’s about 4 squadrons with no guns, just painters, and the rest with twin rockets, although at the time I thought they were all rocket/painters. Anyway, being new to the game and challenged by fighter combat, I took the opportunity to play this challenge many times with different combinations of fighters on my side. Because there’s about 300 fighters per side, you can get fairly good statistical results.

One note: Leutnant_Man’s fighters DO NOT “stick together”. I guess this is so the ones with the painters can get evenly mixed in with those without. I, however, always used the “stick together” order. I also had my guys on “last stand” orders so the cripples would continue to draw fire as long as possible, and I think the enemy did this as well although I’m not sure.

Anyway, first off, I tried what had been until that time my standard dogfighter, with a pulse laser. These lost about 2 to 1, much to my surprise. So I did that again and zoomed in close this time, which is when I noticed the rockets flying around. But I thought the flickering red lines were my own pulse lasers. See, I was using Federation hulls myself, so really couldn’t tell the difference between who was who. It wasn’t until I looked at the “by weapon” stats that I noticed I was facing rockets and painters.

Next I used my standard strafer, all speed and a laser cannon. I had more squadrons of these than the enemy because they’re so cheap. Despite their numbers, however, they got butchered while achieving very little. Hmmm, says I, these rockets are more effective than I’d been led to believe. I thought they were for killing ships, not dogfighting.

So at this point, I decided to make rocket/painters, which I’d never heard of before but which seemed to be invincible (not knowing I wasn’t fighting rocket/painters). And thinking that high speed was good, I played with the hulls of all races until I finally found the fastest possible rocket/painter, which used a Rebel hull. While this design was very much faster than the enemy, it proved a disappointment. In this fight, with equal total numbers and my guys sticking together, there was practically mutual destruction. The lead changed at every loss percentage and it looked like the winner would come down to a coin toss. However, when we were both down to about 15% I managed to hang onto a 2-3% edge until the end.

Finally, says I, if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em. So, I changed back to Federation, made 18 squadrons of rocket/painters, and gave that a go. I figured this would surely be mutual destruction, given that the sides were the same (or so I thought at the time). And things WERE pretty much equal until we were both down to about 60%, at which point I started building up a lead that reached about 25% by the time I won. This happened consistently.

So, a few lessons here, although they’re situational due to the different orders.

  1. Lots of twin rockets with a few unarmed painters, and everybody flying around at random, beats all laser-armed fighters sticking together.

  2. This enemy also does well against formed rocket/painters, not losing by much.

  3. Contrary to what I’d been led to believe, the slower I was compared to the enemy, the better I did. Here are the comparative speeds:

My Federation rocket/painters (which I was so sure needed a power plant to power the painter, I didn’t even notice at the time that it really doesn’t)
Engine 3 + power plant = 2.11 (with no power and Engine 2, you can get 2.51)

My Rebel Achilles rocket/painter (engine 3, no power): 2.73

Enemy Federation rocket/rocket (engine 2): 2.93
Enemy Federation painter (engine 2): 3.40

So, why did all this happen? At 1st blush, you’d think this enemy would have been self-defeating in that, with each fighter going its own way and the enemy getting spread from edge to edge of the map, there’d have soon been blindspots in their coverage. But that didn’t seem to have happened. You’d also think that by luck of the draw, sometimes I’d have taken out most of the painters early on and then it would have been a rout in my favor. And I atleast also assumed that by keeping my guys together, I would have numerical superiority at the point of attack and ground the enemy down that way. But none of these things happened. Instead, contrary to the (admittedly little) wisdom I’ve so far received, the key difference in outcomes seems to be that the slower the launch platform compared to the target, the more accurate rockets are. Why?

As you can tell, I haven’t had much success dogfighting so far. Thus, my ships have had to fend for themselves. When I’m not a Parasite (damn, flak cannons are PURE EVIL), I’ve had pretty good luck with putting 2x CDLs, 2x ultraheavy armor, and an advanced armor repair on each cruiser. The nanobots keep the fighters from getting through the armor long enough for the 2x CDLs to take them out. But then I keep my cruisers packed as tightly together as possible to spam the enemy, and thus their defenses overlap.

I haven’t had any good experiences with tractor beams. Because my CAs are packed and cooperating, they usually tractor the same fighters instead of each his own. Also, I find the tractor option cost-prohibitive in most ways. It works out like this:

2x CDLs = 2 hardpoints, 14KW, $192
1x UHA = 1 space, 0KW, $162

Total: 2 hardpoints, 1 space, 14KW, $354 (I always get an advanced armor repair anyway)

1x SCTB = 1 hardpoint, 15KW, $142
2x CPL = 2 hardpoints, 14KW, $246

Total: 3 hardpoints (of which I always want more), 29 KW (which might required a bigger generator so more $$$), and $388 (higher base price)

Bullethead, that’s an outstanding post. It’s a pleasure to see a new name around here put his best foot forward with such informative style. Very well done! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the welcome, your Erzhertzogness ;).

I’m really liking GSB so far. Too much, actually. It’s kept me up until 0300 the last couple nights… The whole rock-paper-scissors thing is fascinating, and besides, the ONLY reason I ever suffered through founding and building colonies in space empire games was to FINALLY be able, many hours in, to fight epic space battles. It’s SO much better to avoid all that tedium :).

Yesterday, however, I was beginning to perceive a lack of rock-paper-scissors after unlocking everything in no time with the pure plasma spam (it had been the plasma-missile spam until I ran into the Parasites). Nothing to it, I’ll just plasma-spam my way across the universe in the campaign. Or so I thought. Just now, however, in my very 1st battle, I ran into a phalanx of 3 Alliance Alligators {“Cocodries” as we say down here) that were just blocks of solid armor, no shields. My plasma balls just bounced off harmlessly while they picked me apart with theirs. So now I have to fit either lasers or missiles into my designs again. Yay! Variety and complexity are there in there :).

Thing is, however, after this battle, I tried to replicate the design myself. I found that with 2 medium plasmas, a supercharged engine, a minimal power plant, and a small crew module, and all the rest superheavy armor, I could a ship with a higher average armor than the armor penetration of any weapon in the game. IOW, the ship is indestructable barring a huge number of “lucky hits”. So then I tried to make a similar thing for each race and ALMOST could. The poor Tribe of course has no hope and I don’t think the Order can QUITE manage it but comes very close. The Parasite Bulletmagnet is especially detestable because it’s got flak and a revenge scrambler :). So what happens in a campaign battle when both sides have indestructable ships?

Anyway, this is getting off topic. Back to killing fighters. Why is it that slow rocket/painters are more effective than fast rocket/painters, at least when staying together and the enemy fighters aren’t?