Just some basic tips from the designer, I’m sure people who play it a lot will have better ones:
#1 It helps to have weapons with fairly similar ranges on a ship, that way you can sit at a specific range and deliver grief from that point #2 Fighters can cause havoc from within an enemy ships shield bubble. you need escorting fighters or defensive lasers or armor, else you are open to serious fighter swarmage #3 Speed really matters. Slow fighters are doomed. Really fast fighters are a pain! #4 You need combinations of weapons for success. Some ships should be dedicated to taking down enemy shields, others to causing damage after the event. #5 cautious orders + repair modules are a good combination #6 ranges are from the turret, not the ship. Stick those beam weapons at the front #7 dummy missile launchers + megaton missiles hidden amongst them are very evil
I’ve given the very first mission about five tries at this point, and only once did I come even close to winning. I keep trying different approaches, but nothing seems to work. My ships completely ignore the torpedo cruisers that they have at their rear, so everything gets pounded to dust by torpedoes while they try to engage the rest of the fleet. I don’t really feel like I’m learning anything from the after-battle stats screen either. It shows me a bunch of numbers, but I don’t know what most of them mean, or what they’re saying I should do to improve things.
The post-battle stats screen, can be really useful. If you see that the weapons on your frigates are being absorbed or reflected a lot, then their likely undergunned or shooting too much at heavily armoured targets and you might need to change their priorities. Similarly the stats for your shields and armour can tell you if your ships are letting too much damage through. I don’t know what the initial stat regarding shots taken means though; could someone explain it?
I’ve found that it also helps to go for extremes: have a ship designed for sitting back and lobbing missiles and another for going toe-to-toe; instead of putting just one shield and armour module on a cruiser, maybe put two or three armour on and no shields so as to improve the rate of reflected shots; position is also important when the enemy has a weak flank put all your forces opposite it, and against their strong flank maybe a few very tough ships (lots of armour and shields) with anti-shield and ECM weaponry to stall them. Another tactic I like to use is to escort my heavy-hitting cruisers with a small frigate geared to taking down shields.
I can try and give you a rundown of the after-battle screen, if you like.
On the left, you have a list of all of your ships and squadrons involved in the battle, click on them to see the statistics of that ship or squadron.
On the right are the statistics that really matter.
Going from the top right down, you have:
Ship info - This tells you what type of ship it is, and what happened to it, as well as the amount of health it had left if it survived. Occasionally useful, but not hugely.
Attack Stats - This bit is very useful. It tells you what percentage of all shots fired from this ship actually HIT what they were fired at. If this stat is very low, you probably need to either adjust the ship’s targetting priorities, or stop things from shooting down your missiles. After the To-Hit, you get similar percentages for the amount of shots that were reflected by your target’s shields or armour (and so did nothing), absorbed by shields (which does shield damage, but that regenerates) or absorbed by armour (which eventually breaks the armour, unless they have self-repair drones). If you’re hitting a lot but they’re all reflected, you need bigger guns. If stuff is being absorbed that’s not so bad, it will break through eventually, if there’s enough of it.
Defense Stats - the counterpart to attack stats, applied instead to all bullets aimed AT the ship in question. You want these to be as high as possible, preferably most missing, the rest being reflected. If your shield recharge is high enough, shield-absorbtion can be a good damage sponge, likewise, if you have armour repair modules, absorbed by armour can also be mitigated.
Modules - this is just a damage readout of the various modules on the ship. I don’t find it particularly useful, as module damage is essentially random, and dead ships will be all blown up anyway. Perhaps if it showed the order in which modules died, that could be useful.
Targets Engaged - this shows all of the things that the ship in question targetted, and their eventual damage status. This is quite useful to check whether your big hitters aren’t wasting their firepower on fighters and the like, although if you engage at long range there will usually be a few sub-targets such as fighters or frigates in here even if the ship would rather target something else, just because those were the only things in range at the time.
I hope that helps!
Personally, I’ve had great success using a few shield-tanking battlecruisers up front, with a variety of beam lasers, and behind them, some big, slow ships PACKED with plasma cannons/plasma torpedoes, whatever the sparkly ball things are. I’m seriously wondering if plasma cannons aren’t a little overpowered, about the only thing they don’t absolutely annihilate are fighters, and you can make cruisers basically immune to fighters.
I haven’t done any solid tests, but I think decoys work pretty well. In the top left corner, put some cheapo ships with some anti-fighter stuff. Then in the bottom left, put your main force. This effectively splits the enemy’s fleet, allowing you to destroy the first half, and then take on the second half later. Even if fighters destroy your decoys, you gain some extra time for little money.
what is a effective fighter design? I’ve tried several different designs but it seems like all that happens is that my design gets chewed up by the other fighters and when checking the after battle stats they hit only like 4% of the time…
Oh, I don’t think you can get away with that. Not when there are separate “normal” and “drone” crew modules
Anyway, fighter designs - first, do NOT double stack torpedoes onto the two-weapon fighter chassis, that just does not work, they’re FAR too slow and as a result rarely hit anything, and get shredded before they arrive. I did that at first, and it was laughably bad.
The fighter rocket launcher works surprisingly well as an anti-ship bomber, although you need a couple of squadrons to really see it start to work. You should also be aware that the range ring for rockets is tiny, even though the maximum range is quite large - they only fire on things in this small ring, thus, they’ll never fire from inside the shields. For that, you’ll probably want laser cannon, which work well when swarming frigates. Cruisers tend to have the armour to just shrug them off until they take a few hits, but once they do, a swarm of laser cannon fighters can shred them really quickly. Maybe Vulture orders would help with that.
A module worth of armour is very good at stopping them being chewed up by other fighters quite so fast, but make them noticeably easier to hit with point defense weaponry and suchlike. In general, slowish fighters armed with rapid fire guns are best at defending your fleet as they’ll tend to lag behind enemies, shooting them several times. Fighter rockets tend to miss other fighters, torpedoes never hit fighters, and pulse lasers seem to work the best against enemy fighters, as they have the tracking speed to almost always hit. Laser cannon work also, but they seem to be a little more specialized at hitting ships, as their 8 armour penetration value lets them actually hurt most things except heavy armour cruisers.
My tips thus far would be to just use cruisers, and fill them to the brim with light plasma launchers. They honestly seem a little unbalanced compared to the other weapons. A setup like this seems to work
Six light plasma launchers, a cruiser pulse laser, a target booster II, two powered armors, two fast recharge shields, one crew module II, two power generator II, and two cruiser engine III. There is still a little spare energy, so you could change out the engines for supercharged engines if you have them unlocked and don’t care about the cost.
The cruiser pulse laser is mainly to defend against fighters. I find they do a much better job than cruiser defense lasers, as they still track quickly, and they have a much longer range. If you are putting your fleet close together, the pulse laser will shred an incoming fighter swawm, since multiple ships will be firing on the swarm at the same time.
You don’t have to use this same exact ship shell, but you get the idea. If you have one of the shells with 18 slots, you could throw in another engine, or some other gizmo.
The ship won’t move fast, but it will be tough to kill and pack a crapload of punch against pretty much anything. Just fill out your ship lineup with as many as you can.
My first mission was a loss (which surprised me, for some reason I thought I’d dance right through them on Easy) – I dominated the enemy frigates with ease, but those cruisers seemed to have Death Star shields. Admiral Ackbar was in my lead cruiser screaming, “All ships pull up!” but it was too late. It was also pretty awesome to watch. The damage effects are top notch.
I did win on my second try simply by reconfiguring my ships. I love that. I’m going to try some of these strategies and see if I can manage to win some harder fights, as I still don’t have a solid grasp on what kind of fleet makeup I want to use. I imagine there are dozens of powerful combinations.
The ship I posted above managed to beat every fight on every difficulty, including cliffski’s challenge, just by putting a bunch of them in a line. They were all set on co-op and vulture, with the max ranges for all ships set to 600. Light plasma launchers are currently very, very good.
I managed to beat almost all missions in Normal, as well as the last mission in Expert, with Ion Cannon Frigates. They’re too easily spammed and too powerful in numbers. In 4x time, my usual force can kill a cruiser in 3 seconds or so, and in that time maybe lose a frig or two. too many “ablative wounds” with comparably small loss in firepower. Fighters give them fits a bit, but just season to taste with a couple of anti-fighter squadrons and you’re good to go.
I seem to be able to beat an ion cannon/beam heavy frig swarm fleet by using heavily armoured ‘tank’ ships as a screen for softer long range firepower. I’m quite pleased as I was worried that one might have been broken, but, it’s not!