My take on GSB Balance

(Copying my post from the Blog to here for possible discussion)

I have found that fighters seem to suck pretty bad, both in terms of not having enough pilots to use them and not being very powerful.

Changes that need to balance fighters IMO:

Split them into 2 groups: Fighters and Bombers

Bombers can have extremely powerful bombs but you have to get close to use them. When you use them the bombers then have to go back to a support ship to rearm. They should be a large part of breaking down shields fast. They should also be comparatively slow and needing an escort of fighters.

Fighters should be fast, agile, and great at shooting down other fighters and shooting down Bombers. They should also have the ability to damage/destroy the “anti-fighter” weapons on capital ships.

The anti-fighter capital ship weapons should be made less effective against fighters, and more effective against bombers.

Orders for bombers and fighters should have various options.

Fighter Orders to add:

Escort Bomber (Escorts the Bomber wherever it goes)
Search & Destroy (Searches out Enemy Fighters and Enemy Capital Ships with anti-fighter weaponry)
Fighter Interception (Intercept incoming enemy fighters)
Bomber Interception (Intercept incoming enemy bombers)

Bomber Orders to add:

Target priority — Shields/Hull/Weapons/Engines (Thinking about this, that could be more of the loadout of the weapons on the bombers.
Positron Bomb: Damages Hulls Only
Electron Bomb: Damages Shields Only
EMP: If shields are down damages targeting systems

Attack Orders where you can set your Positron Bomb equipped bombers to not attack until shields fail, then to launch an immediate attack. Vice-Versa for Electron Bomb equipped. They go out immediately and then pull back/switch targets when a shield goes out.

Also the ability to setup an order that when a fighter group loses X of their initial 18 complement they fall back. Then when further fighter groups fall back they can form back up into a full 18 fighter wing and go back on the offensive/defensive

As for capital ships:

There needs to be a way for an undamaged capital ship to “step in between” a crippled friendly and the enemy to take some of the fire while shields regenerate. Some sort of smarter AI for protection. Right now I hate seeing ships getting damaged down far and being unable to protect itself behind one of its friends.

On top of that:

Fighter missiles should have a limited number, but also have the ability to rearm like bombers. From what I read Fighters pretty much always hit, so giving them a limited number of missiles will allow you to have the very accurate missiles and add in some less accurate lasers.

Admittedly I haven’t done a really in depth test of them, but I’m getting pretty good mileage from my interceptor fighters - Federation Leopard hull - 1x fighter pulse laser, power gen III, 1x fighter engine mk 1, 1x fighter engine mk 2

The hull has a natural speed boost of 12 % and hull integrity boost of 10 %
Fighter speed: 2.36 cost: 101.00

At that speed the fighters generally seem pretty hard to hit and finish off most standard opposition fighters, i.e. non-challange ones, after that they go for the frigates and cruisers and a swarm generally does a lot of damage.

I also have a bomber design using fighter torpedos and the fed falcon hull. That’s pretty slow unfortunately and can take out frigates pretty well but generally gets twatted too easily, even with 2x armour. The problem is that basically the torps are too heavy.

I wouldn’t say they’re totally useless though.
I agree they could definately do with better fighter/bomber orders, for example, bombers should have hit and run orders to fire torpedoes then retreat while they reload which would help with the speed problem.

Most Fighter hulls are worthless with the bonuses being largely meaningless (power bonuses should at least allow 1 change of component in the setup vs a non-bonus hull).

However I find that the good fighter hulls are excellent. I have fought many of the later missions with fighters escorting one or two cruisers only (gives time kill enemy fighters first before before swarming the bigger ships). Once the shields are breached the Cruisers melt while making little impression on the fighters (takes a little time though).

Tip: they also distact the big guns on enemy ships now and again which reduces their overall DPS (like they are going to hit a fighter with those plasma bolts).

The improvements you suggest are interesting, however thay could also covered in many ways by existing mechanics. Targeting shields or Armour should be sown to weapon module (lets have some more fighter modules please!). Anti Fighter woks now if you delete frigates and Cruisers.

One very useful addition you mention is escorting other fighter units - which I would love to see for the reasons you say.