Standoff Cruisers


#1

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
etc.

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?


#2

Well, you built the exact opposite kind of Cruiser I built today. I built Skirmishers. Fast Hard, very expensive Cruisers designed to get close and halt the enemy fleet’s forward movement. Then my heavy support Cruisers, begin to slam missiles down on one target at a time. It’s very interesting to watch as the long range Cruisers hang very far back close to the way yours do, and proceed to pummel them.

Maybe you should have your Standoff’s in tight formations, and focus on the same target.


#3

One tactic to try to add some anti-missile/anti-fighter defense to your stand off cruisers is to add a dedicated defense frigate or two to each cruiser using the escort order. These ‘shieldmen’ are good at defense and ‘cheaper’ in pilots than assigning a fighter squadron to an escort mission.

TAZ


#4

Fighters with 1 rocket, 1 painter, would be extremely attractive for this type of fleet. It’s hard to cover them properly - if you escort them, your escorts will be as scattered as the fleet, so easy prey to ‘attack fighters’. If you give them an open leash to find the enemy fighters, they open themselves to an enemy formation deploying plenty of antifighter support. Of course, there’s always the fighter-free scenario…

The main problem with standoff orders is that your ships will never engage the enemy, if they don’t engage them first. This means you lose engineless challenges, slow challenges take forever, and you usually lose against massed missile fleets (since they hit you one at a time.)

If you give them ‘keep moving’ orders they’ll manage to engage… But it’ll be very random. Keep Moving, and range 2000, should have them moving around 2000-1000… But in practice turning circles will take them through a wider range of positions (more like 500-2000, given an approaching enemy)

I’ve had a challenge up for a fair while with my attempt at solving these problems :smiley: It manages to engage, then retreats as needed… Don’t try to play it with another cowardly fleet.

Looking forwards to ‘minimum range’ orders, if they ever get added…

A target booster would be a good module to fit with the missile version of these - you’re trying to stay out of painter range… But the extra .16 tracking really helps missiles so much.
Anything less than a 1150/1200 range retreating fleet, will get trivially beaten by a longer range retreating fleet, assuming they manage to engage :slight_smile:


#5

In my experience with these fleets… Its their inability to concentrate fire that is their downfall. I remember Slowly crossing the entire map a couple of times with a predominately beam laser/Cruiser Laser fleet mix to hunt these things down. In terms of firepower applied over time your cruisers beat me hands down. Main reason I won is because I’m a firm believer in anti missile modules, and eventually even the vaunted tribe repair systems run out of grey goo.

For the rebel version of the challenge I’m fairly sure I took one look at it and pulled out my Cruiser missile fleet. Same plodding maneuvers, but much more return fire.

Will have to experiment with the targeting booster. Makes sense in a game kinda way, but is counter intuitive to me.


#6

You need to know where something is, to hit it with a missile from a million km.

But then, if the ships are to scale with the battle, they’re only shooting from 1.2km at most :wink:

EDIT: actually… that gets me thinking… any chance of a ‘ship scale’ slider, I wonder. Then the ships could be made to appear to be fighting over suitably gratuitous distances :wink:


#7

At 1,000,000 kilometers you’re talking a 6 second lag for light speed weapons. (3 seconds for information to come to you, 3 more seconds for the laser to go back.) Missiles are vastly more accurate at that range because they carry their own targeting systems with them allowing them to find and home in on their targets. The level of “Knowing where something is” is vastly reduced with missiles.


#8

A touch ironic then, that they’re the least accurate weapon in the game unless you paint the target with a laser :wink:


#9

Depends on how fast you are moving. :wink:


#10

My favorite missile for these standoff cruisers is the multi-warhead missile. I’ve gotten decent volume of fire with 8 launchers on each ship; these missile ships following behind a formation of pursuit cruisers (mostly cruiser lasers, with some proton beams; maybe some autocannon if they’re tribe).

With 1180 range, the multiple missiles are nearly identical in that respect to the standard cruiser missile (1200 range). Employing the shorter range missile weapons seems to have the side effect of attracting all kinds of unwanted return fire upon these ‘standoff’ cruisers.

So, for this ‘standoff’ tactic, rockets never quite worked out. If they had 1180 or 1200 range, they would be more attractive. With their 220 minimum range, it seems as if rockets would almost work better as part of a pursuit ship design.

I’ve thought of attaching a squadron of torpedo fighters to each of these standoff cruisers, escorting at range 600; or maybe even a few pure painters. The idea of a small, attached torp/painter escort for each of these cruisers is to increase the chances of overwhelming opposing scramblers/point defense.

As already mentioned, these independently operating cruisers are difficult to provide with fighter escort. The torpedo fighters would probably do best in a situation of fighter supremacy. Otherwise, they’re going to be easily shot down by opposing fighter swarms.

Of course, it’s all tradeoffs. A missile cruiser type with some decent engines and 7 or 8 launchers can work well against an opposing laser cruiser type. On the other hand, if the other cruiser types has 6 or missile 7 launchers, and 1 scrambler beam per ship, it will might stand a chance of winning out in the ‘long range cruiser combat’ portion of the overall battle.


#11

You’re on to something that I’ve been moving towards lately. I’ve been doing the same thing, but with only 1-2 ships. I put them dead center as close to the enemy as possible and everybody else behind him. The goal is for the ship to be chosen as the first target. This target then takes the enemy fleet on a wild goose chase. It’s got no weapons of its own, but enough armor, shields, and repair modules to hold off 5 large squads of fighters all while taking the occasional hit from enemy frigates and cruisers. The rest of my fleet are long range attackers who just unleash cooperative hell on the enemy. At least that’s the plan. I’m still working on the perfect ship designs for this.

Nuke…


#12

The idea of ‘decoy cruisers’ is interesting.

I’ve begun employing missile standoff cruisers, just a few to an average size battle, behind a lineup of pursuit cruisers. Against certain fleets, the standoff cruisers give a bit of extra firepower from afar, as the pursuit ships chug into the center of the battle. Against certain other fleet compositions, any kind of missile ship is pretty much dead meat.

I’ve seen tribal fleets with missile scramblers and repair units to such an extent that these long range missile cruisers really didn’t end up cutting it in any capacity, either as a main force, or in support.

GSB; it’s an interesting game. I won’t claim to be an expert but it does seem like there’s a counter to everything.

It would be really cool to lay out a large map, with 54,000 points and 1000 pilots, so a tournament player could field 1000 Imperial fighters if they wanted. Anyway, get 8 players together and each on puts up any kind of 54,000 point challenge they want. Play it round robin style, so each contestant has 7 matchups; 1 against each of the other players. It would be interesting to see what kind of fleet setup could plow its way through 7 other contestants.

I would give max kudos to anyone who could win a contest like this, employing some kind of Empire fleet. I would expect that the winner would have a Tribal fleet of some sort.

Anyway, that’s an interesting idea for a decoy cruiser. For the most part, I’ve relegated missile cruisers to a limted role.

My latest model is something like speed .19. It packs 8 multi-warhead missile tubes, and 2 damage control units. The rest is power supply, crew compartments, and engines. It also has a shield to negate rocket fighters. That’s a tribal missile cruiser. The intention is to sit back behind a general melee and contribute batches of missiles here and there. Sometimes they contribute mightily; other times they’re ineffective, and tracked down and wiped out one by one.

I’ve been experimenting with packing Imperial and Alliance cruisers with cheap, micro crew compartments (50 points, 75 hit points) as a sort of low-budget armored protection.


#13

Posted that map. “Fighter Arena” Think the only anomaly might be “Must have engines”


#14

Decoy cruisers/frigates are fantastic for sabotaging fighter rushes in particular. Speed isn’t necessarily that important, but toughness sure is. For example, my Tribe rush fleet usually deploys two to three armoured cruisers armed with defence lasers, space out appropriately to catch any initial fighter rush. If the enemy does have a fighter rush… These cruisers usually end up dueling with the fighters for quite some time, falling behind the main fleet. If the enemy doesn’t rush, then they end up hitting the enemy fleet marginally ahead of the rest of my ships and are a bit wasted, as they just get slaughtered (but at least soak a fair bit of fire thanks to all the armour and repair modules.)

That’s pretty nice, quite a good cost to hp ratio.

Camoflage sheild has the best cost/hp ratio, I think, at 440hp for 220 cost (+ the power cost)

Shields will beat both. Not sure which shield is most cost effective, and at what point the diminishing returns would make micro crew or camoflage modules a cheaper option in terms of raw HP for your spend.

Tribe can make individual ships with over 10,000 hp in this way! I think one of my Tribe challenges deploys one ship with over 9000hp (and a few thousand hp worth of repair supplies available) … Sometimes the enemy fleet fails to kill this tank before they are wiped out.


#15

‘Hedgehog’ or ‘tank’ cruisers are definitely effective in a number of situations.

As for the ‘standoff’ cruiser. I’ve been looking at frigates with torpedos as an alternative; another variation on a ship which hangs out at maximum range and lobs decent ordnance from a distance as the pursuit fleet moves forward.