My understanding of canonical space combat simplified theory is:
Cruisers kill frigates by superior firepower and defenses. However, cruisers’ weapons are heavy and powerful but too slow to target individual fighters. Thus, they employ frigates, to protect from smaller enemies. Frigates’ weapons are perfectly fit to target fighters and their superior firepower and defense let them do so.
In this game, fighters are too fast for most frigate weapons, but even if they weren’t it wouldn’t be very important, as two fighter units can destroy a frigate in a couple of seconds before moving to the next.
Try it. I don’t remember my fighter config right now (I’ll post it later), but it’s a simple combination of “fastest laser” with speed around 2.6. I don’t remember if I managed to put a shield or a second laser.
Anyway, by just deploying all possible fighters (spending almost all pilots), one cheap fighter-killing cruiser and the rest in instances of the cruiser you like most (2 or 3 of them). In a lot of challenges (and most of the single player campaign) the cloud of fighters just goes ahead and clears the screen, leaving some scraps for the cruisers.
I think there should be better antifighter weapons and defenses for frigates. For example:
A - Extremely weak and short ranged lasers but with RoF under 100 and a targetting speed of 4, or so.
B - Some kind of shield module that completely stops most fighter attacks but are useless against other frigates or cruisers.
With that change, the number of allowed pilots could be larger, as players would have to protect somehow their fighters.
Seems to me you’ve just got your rock-paper-scissors the wrong way round. It doesn’t work that way in GSB (even if it logically should).
Cruisers counter fighters, since they simply have the defensive power to withstand their attacks for ages, and the hardpoints to mount silly amounts of flak.
Fighters counter frigates, since frigates defences have little mitigation so massed fighter fire tears through them like paper.
Frigates counter cruisers to some extent, since for the price of one cruiser you can deploy multiple frigates, which will dodge a large proportion of cruiser weapons fire.
Actually I find a pack of fast frigates with Ion Cannons or similar are incredibly cheap and able to quickly kill a cruiser before moving onto the next. Only missiles seem to be able to hit them before they get into range.
Frigates are supposed to screen the larger ships against threats too small for the larger ships to engage. Thats the entire point of frigates in any real world/logical context. Theyre picket ships, they provide screening and point defence. Its what theyre for… except in GSB.
I submit that it isnt real life thats got it wrong, its GSB.
Turns out applying naval trivia to a 2D space game with extremely flexible loadouts doesn’t work too well? Ideally frigates would be able to be effective in many roles, but the way the game stands now this isn’t really the case.
I find frigates to really only be useful at very long range (missiles or beams) or as ablative armour for cruisers (load up with shields and send them in first). They can’t fight fighters and they die to cruisers quickly regardless what you do. I still find this effective; it means you can concievably have weaker cruisers with more guns … but the OP example of ‘cruisers + pile of fighters’ is effective, easy to set up, and destroys the single-player game.
I agree with your general sentiment. It seems like frigates should be effective as fighter/bomber screening forces, but there’s no reason to force the issue by denying anti-fighter weapons to cruisers. Just because it’s a big ship doesn’t mean you can’t mount a bunch of small weapons on it.
One of the main reasons real-world military forces employ picket/screening forces is that their maneuverability significantly aids them in carrying out their purpose - a faster destroyer or PT boat can do a better job of locating, pursuing, and engaging submarines and small enemy ships than a large, plodding battleship can, since they can cover a larger area in a search pattern, run faster to catch a target, and evade enemy fire more effectively. It’s not like you couldn’t mount lots of sonar, depth charges, torpedo launchers, etc. on a battleship, it’s just a dumb thing to do.
Ideally, we’ll see GSB evolve so that frigates can better fill various roles. Maybe that will include anti-fighter work, maybe not. Whatever the case, I’d like to see it happen as a result of well-designed fundamental gameplay mechanics, not arbitrary restrictions on what ship classes can carry certain module types.
A flak cruiser will counter about its value in fighters, but its coverage will extend across several other cruisers, screening them too. The other cruiser is not “quickly crushed” by fighters unless it’s been given inadequate defence, other cruisers are eventually crushed by fighters through inability to fight back.
I’ve had quite a lot of luck swarming with fast ion cannon frigates too. Slower tracking weapons (not just plasma) has difficulty with them. The damage from that many ion cannons stacks up fast to overwhelm cruisers.
I do agree with the sentiment that ships should deal with their smaller counterpart (and fighters deal with cruisers) though. It’d make more sense for sure.
However I have a great deal of trouble with the current orders stopping them running off by themselves. I ended up designing intentionally slow ones, but they are very vulnerable and I’d rather they ‘kept moving’ at higher speed by stayed in front and near the cruisers. Oh well.
I found out about it by accident; the first ship I designed was a shield-heavy frigate. They’re very cheap, too, which helps.
Am I the only person that makes tractor equipped flak cruisers? Seriously, a cruiser with some pulse lasers, a couple of tractor beams and even basic armour + armour regen simply annihilates fighter swarms.
I tried something similar at one point, but I found it took far too long to kill the fighter. Maybe your build is different? It probably also helps that 1.13/1.14 changed the Engine III power so that laser cannon fighters can only manage about 2.4 speed.
My biggest problem with this tactic was that turrets didn’t usually shoot the fighters that were in the tractor beams, so the tractor beams didn’t actually help much. I think if that were fixed, even a single tractor beam and pulse laser could quickly devastate a swarm of fighters.
What frigates have is firepower and mobility. A combined frigate/cruiser fleet will have greater firepower than a pure cruiser fleet. But you have to set it up so the cruisers are taking the hits and the frigates arn’t. Or you could uber spam frigates and overwhelm the other guy with sheer firepower. That can work, heh. Another point in the favor of frigates is that they’re practically immune to ecm shock - it’s not a big deal when one gets hit, and because of their high speed they don’t get hit much.
The vulnerability of frigates to fighters varies drastically with hull size. Small frigates are extremely difficult to strafe with laser cannons, so long as they have shields. Armored frigates (12+) are also virtually immune to laser fire, and armored frigates are more viable with the across the board boost to frigate armor.
Imperal frigates with their giant hulls and shield emphasis are absurdly vulnerable to fighters. To be fair they can heavily armor tank but this costs uber $$$.
The new antifighter missiles just butcher unarmored fighters… and do a pretty good job on most armored fighters too. They might even be too strong. xD