I’ve been experimenting with cruisers which are set to engage at range 2000, loaded with some variant of missile; missile, fast missile, multiple warhead missile, megaton missile, rocket, etc. With the combat ranges set to 2000, these ships will more often than not, stay away from the center of the battle.
With the shorter range missiles like rockets, the max engagement range probably should be set to 1500.
The problem with these ships is that; while they can avoid the main battle, sometimes it’s tough for them to get any damage in.
The design tradeoffs include how many missile launchers, whether or not to have a missile disruptor or point defense, or perhaps a laser painter; and number and type of engines.
These cruisers can be as slow as .20 and effectively give a low inensity, drawn out retreating fight. If they’re faster, up into the .30s and beyond; they tend to be a lot more active in the battle; dipping in and out of extreme range of the main enemy force for the duration of the engagement.
On large maps these faster standoff cruisers are known to spread out around the entire map, even making their way around the flanks of the opponent’s main force, should it be advancing up the middle of the map. The slower cruisers have fairly good fighting withdrawal capability, but generally don’t achieve the flanking action that the faster ones get.
The best of these designs, combined with the right engagement distance orders will leave them just out of enemy beam weapon range (~700 meters). That is at least, until the standoff cruiser is trapped in a corner of the map.
Once the battle starts, there are some random moves. Sometimes cruisers with 2000 meter orders will hurl themselves into the center of the battle. It’s tough to tell what exactly sets them off. Other cruisers will stay out of combat range for long periods of time.
When employing the slower missile standoff cruisers, expect to be tracked down and engaged by a faster enemy fleet.
With fast cruisers, expect a running engagement.
With cruisers so dedicated to missile spam, there is no room for anti-fighter capabilities.
If fighters ever get through against these standoff missile cruisers, kiss the cruisers good-bye.
If these cruisers have a target painter, sometimes it’s worth giving them an engage fighters order. The key is to figure out a way to allow fighter engagement, without it taking your missile fire away from frigate/cruiser targets. It’s one thing to engage fighters using missiles while no opposing frigates or cruisers are in range. Once those larger ships are engaged with missiles, it becomes a waste of fire to be attacking fighters.
You can have any combination of fighter support:
cruiser with painter/dual-rocket fighters
cruiser with painter/single-rocket fighters
cruiser with no painter, extra launcher/rocket/painter fighters
You could field a fleet of laser fighters as your air umberella.
----No matter what else, the standoff missile cruiser fleet definity requires being free of enemy fighter interdiction.----
If you build slower standoff ships, you’ll typically field more missiles per ship, or the cost of the ship will be less. The best missile spammer in quality may not be the best in quality. You can design a really nice spamming cruiser; speed in the .30s, with upwards of 6 missile launchers, with scramblers and painters, but the most quality design could could over 3,000 points. Maybe it’s better to go with lower-quality ships, at 2,000 points apiece.
The thing I’ve not really found, is a standoff ship which puts out enormous amounts of missiles. I’m starting to think that rocket cruisers, set to max engagement of ~1500 meters might be the way to go. Rockets have a high firing rate, and are fast, and cheap.
It might even be best to create a speed .15 or .20 standoff cruiser. It wouldn’t be able to outrun many fleets, but it would be in constant retreat, and on the periphery of the action so as to sustain damage more slowly. You might be able to create a fleet which has substantially more launchers per hit point of ship construction, but at a real cost in overall speed. The thing with the slower cruisers given long range engagement orders; is that they will typically have to be able to take more punishment than the faster ones which are able to run away (at least for awhile).
Again, the key is fighter cover. If your missile fleet is attacked by fighters; forget it.
One ‘super fighter’ I’ve been experimenting with is a frigate, loaded with the 2.8 response time frigate pulse laser. Put 3 of those on a light frigate, with just a single engine for speed .24, and it’s an aa escort ship for the cruiser fleet.
The thing is, can a 450+ point aa frigate take on say 6, 80 point fighters?
It would be really cool if frigates could go toe to toe equally with fighters in terms of points spent/casualty rates in most combats… but that’s another thread.
Anyway, I’ve made some cruisers that are fun to watch - if you’re into long drawn out battles fought over the entire map - but haven’t arrived at a standoff cruiser that has the necessary firepower for all situations; some, but not all situations.
For example, the Tribal heavy cruiser fleet with the cruiser lasers bearing down on these types of rebel standoff missile cruisers is a constant menace. I find that rebel standoff missile cruisers will eventually be hunted down and destroyed by a fleet of tribal close-in cruisers.
The rebel missile standoff cruisers simply cannot put out the necessary firepower at any point during the drawn out, ultimately losing engagement.
With the Tribe variation of this cruiser, the damage repair module is nearly always included. With a rebel or alliance variant, the guidance scrambler is usually employed. Regardless of race employed, it is possible to field a 2nd cruiser type, with painters and scramblers only, to move about amongst, and assist with the missile-only ships. Against an enemy missile spam fleet, loading a cruiser up with 5 or more scramblers and a painter or 2, and driving it into the heart of the opposing fleet, while your missile ships skirt the edges; can be fun.
Anyway, the main question remains; how to get more firepower out of the standoff cruisers. I really like the combat variation these cruisers give to the game, where on the larger maps the battle spreads out over the entire map. But whilst being hounded relentlessly by certain heavy assault ships, these missile cruisers fail to give good account; because they lack the ability to deal large amounts of quick, long-range damage during the chase.
They’re fun to watch, but not generally effective.
So, does anyone have ideas on increased survivability, concentrated fire and the likes, wrt to the standoff missile cruiser?