Onboard AA/point defense vs dedicated support frigates

I’ve been using dedicated antifighter and antimissile frigates (one frigate design loaded with only antifighter weapons and ordered to attack only fighters, another loaded with only point defense systems and given no attack orders) to escort my cruisers into battle. It seems to work pretty well, and frees my cruisers’ weapon slots for dishing out pain to opposing fleets. I was just wondering if this is the norm, and if there’s anyone who puts their antifighter protection and antimissile protection on the cruisers themselves.

I don’t feel like it’s cost-effective to use frigates as your AA platform, because for a given number of frigates there’s a critical mass of fighters that will just overwhelm them without too heavy losses. I prefer to put tractor beams on some of my cruisers and escort them with laser fighters - this will kill pretty much any number of enemy fighters given enough time.

I’m unenthusiastic about mounting any actual antifighter guns on my cruisers, because it feels like a big waste of hardpoints.


i find the most effective aa frigate weapon is the anti-fighter rocketlauncher.
i use special aa frigates with 3 launchers and 1 tractor beam, and they seem to work very well, but i wouldn’t rely on them without additional fighters.

as for cruisers, i agree with alexander: i have a dedicated aa cruiser, but i’ve got the feeling it’s very ineffective cost-wise.
i’ve tried it with several weapons: rapid fire laser, defence laser, even rocketlauncher, all in combination with 2 tractor beams,
but for less money i got the same kill count with frigates in a more mobile form.

of course a cruiser has it’s advantages, it’s more versatile and can’t be overwhelmed that fast, but i’ll stick with frigates and fighters.


While that’s undoubtedly true, I haven’t seen any giant fighter blobs yet. Plus, the pilots in fighter squadrons add up fast, and if you field a bunch of them it seriously crimps your ability to field frigates and cruisers. I normally have one AA frigate and one PD frigate escorting each cruiser, so you’d need a lot of fighters.

Cruiser laser / Cruiser pulse laser. Both of these weapons kill more fighters than is reasonable and both of these weapons are quite capable anti-captital ship weapons. The pulse laser is especially good if you also face enemy frigates or Tribe cruisers.

If you go with cruiser lasers, a tractor beam or two can be really handy. I like to put the tractor beams on frigates to save on cruiser hardpoints. Tractor beams plus escorting laser fighters will put the hurt on enemy fighters as well, but the cost is considerable. I do this when the enemy is a Rebel fleet with lots of fighters. I figure I can spend more to counter what Rebels are great at because I won’t need as much cash to kill Rebel tin-plated cruisers.

As for anti-missile, the guidance scrambler beam cruiser module is all you need. One per cruiser when dealing with a missile spam fleet, one per front-line / fast cruiser when making more balanced fleet. If your ships can’t kill the enemy fast enough with the sheer number of missiles that the single scrambler is redirecting, then you’re not doing enough damage and need a different weapons loadout, or maybe faster ships if you’re using short-range weapons. I find it to be overkill to try and scramble all of the incoming missiles. I just try and buy enough time to deal some pain of my own.

Cruiser laser has a fast fire rate, but a hit rate of about 0.5% against rebel fighters. This will not protect you against a fighter blob.
Pulse laser has a hit rate of about 1.5% against the same. That’s a bit better.

My tests, with the benefit of Tribe HP, yes sheilds, but no armour, has a cruiser laser fleet barely able to defend successfully against a spend of about 1/3 of it’s value on fighters. Pulse laser was more effective, could probably handle about half it’s spend.

i.e. they aren’t good enough alone - since your opponent isn’t likely to leave that leftover 1/2 to 2/3 of their points unspent.

Very true. Throw in one tractor beam on each ship and suddenly that 0.5% hit rate rises extremely sharply… Instead of barely surviving those comparisons, you start getting 90%+ victories. You need plenty of tractors across the fleet though - all too often you’ll see your cruisers busily focussing their fire on moving ships, while fighters caught in the beams patiently wait for a safe release.

Be wary of relying on frigates for your antifighter (be it the tractor beams that let your other ships hit fighters, or antifighter missiles to seal the deal alone) because it’s no big deal for the enemy to set their fighters to target frigates first… And if they do this, your frigates won’t last long at all, unless you’ve invested heavily in frigate armour (in which case you may have got better value paying for cruiser tractor beams instead.)

Hakkonen: You don’t tend to see very many fighter blobs in challenges, because they’re easily countered if you know they’ll be coming for you… It’s more of an issue when designing your own challenges - since being wiped out by a inexpensive fighter blob is quite an embarrassing way to be defeated :wink: I love defeating people’s challenges using carefully deployed fighters alone.

I usually counter fighter blobs with other fighters. I tried putting my aa on frigates that are armed with the anti fighter rockets, but as a previous poster mentioned there’s a critical mass balance that needs to be achieved otherwise the frigates will get chewed up quickly and then if you have too many frigates, they never do enough damage to anything with shields to be useful after the fighters have been cleared out.

I also don’t like burning up cruiser hardpoints with aa, especially since I don’t feel like the cruiser aa defenses are very effective unless also combined with another setup such as tractor beams. Which means burning up a pair of hardpoints.

While we’re on the subject I also just find it slightly disappointing that fighters equipped with dogfight weapons are able to chew through cruisers so effectively. Usually in most of my challenges or the game battles, whenever I add fighters to counter, either its too many or too few. If I get too many (even when matching ship to ship) the other side’s fighters get blown up and then my fighters start chewing through the enemy cruisers so much so that I feel it’s redundant to even have any cruisers at all. If I get too few then the opposite happens to me.

I don’t mind fighters being effective if they’re actually equipped with anti-frigate/cruiser torpedoes to make bombers but when I’m countering fighter to fighter and then have those dogfighters effectively tear apart the opposing cruiser fleet, it feels unsatisfactory. Lately I just avoid any fights involving any kind of fighter involvement because of this.

The Tribal cruiser autocannon is a very good anti-fighter weapon. With 2 or 3 of these on every cruiser, certain of the fighter blobs encountered, can be dealt with. A cruiser with 8 of these autocannons matches up fairly well with the same amount of points spent on fighters. As with anti-fighter frigates, the deal is to have just the right amount of autocannons; too many autocannons and your cruisers aren’t as able to deal with opposing cruisers; not enough autocannons and the opponent’s fighter blob has its way with your fleet.

The cruiser autocannon does fall off in performance against speedy rocket fighters. Against the slower fighters, the autocannon rocks.

The problem with fighters is that they can basically project themselves onto any target they wish at any time, at any concentration. The only way to prevent that from causing losses is to either have concentrated enough AA to kill many fighters at once, or to use resistance based immunities (shields, armor) to block the swarm.

Either way is a… significant fleetwide investment.

In general point defense needs to be more effective, IMO. I’ve been experimenting with a mod that has longer engagement ranges, and more powerful missiles. PD needed to be increased to deal with the improved lethality so that it takes a saturation attack—though ships with no PD get creamed.

Fighters are one of the primary reasons why rockets/missiles/torpedoes need an ammo limit.

The problem with rocket fighters is that every single rocket should have a weight that slows them down. The idea that the very fastest fighters happen to carry an infinite number of rockets is absurd (not gratuitous).

In the short term the fix for rocket fighters is to have the fire interval set very low, the salvo_interval set VERY high (say 999999), and then have several available, each with a different, linear increase in rockets carried (salvo_size), weight, and cost.

A fighter with 2 rockets might indeed be the fastest, heck even with 6 as a minimum, but the module with a salvo size of 12 should be twice as heavy, and if it has 18, 3 times as heavy (and costly). Quickly fast rocket fighters become the special case they should be. What we need is for repair in a hanger to reset the salvo_interval, and for any fighter that has not fired a shot in X time units to RTB as if damaged.

Slowing the fighters down a little would go a long way, as would having them shoot, then RTB for more ammo (since they’d be on ingress or egress most of the time as they should be.

I too use escort and defense frigates whit a vareity of point defense, rapid fire lasers and antifighter missiles
then I set them to escort or formation, to provide that little bit of extra cover for cruisers.

Idea: if you have a certain concentration of fighters they start running into each other. This would force the fighters to disperse, massively reducing the effectiveness of “lol I’m going to make 12 squadrons of laser fighters” vs shielded cruisers.

If I see large amounts of fighters, I usually intersperse some anti-fighter frigates (three anti-fighter rockets, a tractor beam and a point defence) between my cruisers, and load up on high-speed interceptors. I also make absolutely sure that none of my cruisers have shields or armour below the penetration ratings of fighter rockets - this way I can generally mop up a large amount of them with the firgates and fighters, and don’t need to worry about any of my cruisers taking damage before the actual battle begins.

Armouring Frigates to properly counter fighters is difficult, but it can be done if you can squeeze some powered armour in there and minimize nonessential modules.

Indeed… I’ve definitely encoutered frigates which withstood fighter attacks, better than some of the cruisers (including a lot of my own cruiser designs).

Has everyone forgotten the fact that frigates died in 3.415 seconds?

Maybe It’s just my designs ;]

On a unrelated note, do you have “standard equipment” that you put on every type of cruiser?

For me, it is:
Target booster 2, nanobot repair system (tribe auto-repair if I’m playing as them) engines, (normally very slow ones, I have fielded cruisers with a max speed of 0.07!) =}