Superheavy Fighters

I’ve been experimenting with dedicated anti-fighter frigates and cruisers, with the idea of creating a super heavy fighter, able to combat enemy fighters on a point for point basis.

It seems like frigate types are generally incapable of surviving in a dogfight with fighters. Armor does help, but the hitpoints generally aren’t there. The main exceptions are the tribal frigate types with their double hit points, and the Imperial Weapons platform with its 8 weapons type. Generally though, it doesn’t seem cost-effective to employ frigates against fighters.

I’ve had more success with a Tribal cruiser as a super heavy fighter. Costing etween 1000 to 2000 points, a cruiser can be fielded with 7 or 8 autocannons. With its 3.7 tracking time and rapid fire, this weapon can deal with most fighters. Going against 100-point fighters, a 1500-point ‘super heavy fighter (cruiser)’ would need to account for 15 opposing fighters.

Some of the success of this tactic has to do with the positioning of the ships at the start of the battle. If these super fighters are massed and catch the main of the opposing fighter force, they have a better chance of success than if they’re spread out and are attacked piecemeal by the same fighters.

As well as being dedicated anti-fighter, these ships can participate in pursuit of opposing cruisers and frigates. The autocannons are very good against frigates, and have some effect upon cruisers; but a pure autocannon cruiser can’t - on its own - generally expected to go toe to to with other cruisers. There have to be heavier weapons present when it comes to the pitched, close-in battles against cruisers.

Against fighters though, the autocannon cruiser is effective.

Other races can employ cruiser defense laser cruisers in a super heavy fighter role. The problem is, that with their reduced hitpoints, the dedicated aa cruisers don’t hold up as well in a slugfest against incoming fighters. Of course, shields will greatly mitigate the effectiveness of opposing rocket fighter swarms, so the only concern becomes laser and torpedo fighters. Armor might help against lasers.

Anyway, a tribal cruiser with 8 autocannons is a great super heavy fighter. And again, against other cruisers the same lacks any ultimate punch.

I find that one tribal design which does decently against fighters, and is able to close and destroy cruisers has say 3 autocannons, 3 cruiser lasers, and an proton beam. Loaded up with engines it can reach speeds of around .30.

This design does ok against medium fighter attacks; but not heavy fighter swarms. With a speed of around .30, it can readily close with most main battle fleets.

The cruiser lasers and proton beams can score hits on the slower fighters. In close to cruisers, the lasers and beams are capable of holding their own against many cruiser designs.

It would be great to see an anti-fighter rocket for cruisers, like the 12.7 tracking rocket already available to frigates.

I got good results flying a moderate number of heavily armored rebel frigates against a rocket-fighter swarm. The critical point was piling enough armor onto them to defeat the fighter rocket’s armor penetration.

I think I released that fleet as a challenge, too.

When in doubt, Post challenges for it.

I’ve just unleashed a series of challenges demonstrating my most common anti-fighter frigates, as well as a fairly standard set of Rocket fighters.

Posted: 12/21/09
Map name: Fighter Arena
Author: Thunder

It is a large map set for 1000 Pilots and 54,000 points. Given that the cheapest rocket fighter is the Imperial one at 54 points each, You can fill the map to capacity every time and be sure that both sides are balanced point wise.


i can agree to everything you said.
especially frigates, while having the only capable aa weapon in the aa missile launcher, are just too weak as platform for aa duty, and can’t counter fighters cost-effective.

btw, what do you mean with “superheavy fighter”? is it “fighter” as in fast, little, interception aircraft piloted by one man?
because then i wouldn’t call a cruiser with aa weapons a super heavy fighter, since…well, it’s a cruiser with aa weapons.


Armored frigates can hack most fighters. Torpedo fighters can counter the ones I posted, but that just spawned a new generation of armored frigate design.


Which fail to be able to deal with the previous rocket fighters…

And Tribe is the Devil. Their double HP for fighters allows them to crit their way through armored frigates faster then they can be killed.

The simplest, easiest way to deal with fighters is 1) do not use frigates 2) scatter tractor beams around your fleet.

A cruiser with 1 tractor beam and 5-7 other guns is a lot like a cruiser with 6-8 anti-fighter guns.

I’ve found that a AA cruiser + frigate combo works best for anti-fighter duty, since it’s capable of dealing with swarms despite using lesser points.

My cruiser is equipped with pulse lasers, a scrambler and at minimum 2 supercharged tractors. Alternatively I can flip it to have multiple tractors but 2 pulse lasers. The AA frigates each have 1 tractor beam, one Ion cannon and one Anti-fighter missile launcher at minimum, with the fourth weapon either another Ion cannon, point defense or a pulse laser. Usually how it’s put out is the cruiser is in front, taking the brunt of fighter damage while the frigates are behind it. This lets the cruiser snag incoming fighters and even hit torpedoes that are going for the frigates behind it. Even one of the cruisers on it’s own does a great deal of good especially if you stick it with a bit of armor and shields - pulse lasers are death to fighters in many ways, while still doing reasonable damage against frigates and cruisers.

The easiest way to deal with fighters is to ignore them.

The more I play, the more I seem to agree that the best solution is cruiser + repair + basic shield and just ignore the fighters for the most part. Though its also quite useful to have a tightly formation of anti-fighter stuff sit in the back and slowly whittle down the horde of fighters.

Until Torpedo fighters are thrown in the mix. It tends to take effort to clear a path for them, but if enough of them hit a cruiser it’s going down, No matter how much shields and armor the cruiser has. On the other hand, It tends to take a custom map to make this practical, need the extra pilots.

Only once have I lost ships purely to just fighters. This caused me to take 2 actions.

  1. I created a new fleet support frigate with one or two anti-fighter modules. (This alone solves the problem for me.)
  2. If need be I’ll create squads of around 5 fighters to escort each of my cruisers.

I found ships purely dedicated towards anti fighter is a waste.
I’ve also found using too many fighters myself is a waste.
I’ve designed a few cruisers that use a tractor beam but I’ve found its not that useful if I have even just one support frig.

They may not be as popular, but pulse laser fighters do about 50% more damage to unarmored targets than regular laser fighters and will do far more straight up damage than torpedoes or rockets can ever hope for. They do the same DPS individually as cruiser beam pulse lasers, in fact, which is not something you want to ignore.

On the bright side, they can’t be brainlessly used as fire-and-forget weapons without some way to break armor.

–I found ships purely dedicated towards anti fighter is a waste.–

I’m starting to think the same thing. It appears that fighters are the ‘best’ antidote to other fighters. Dedicated anti-fighter cruisers can be effective against fighters. However, once the opposing fighters are gone, these ‘superheavy fighter’ (aa cruisers) tend not to have much to contribute in the fight against remaining cruisers.

One thing I’ve definitely stopped doing, is putting any anti-fighter weapons on say, rocket or missile ships. Even with ‘attack fighters’ set at 1% priority,and ‘attack cruisers’ set at 100%, these kinds of cruisers have a poor tendency to go off chasing free-flying (non-escorting) fighters, instead of approaching the main enemy fleet.

So, with heavy weapons cruisers; brandishing weapons that aren’t good against fighters; I tend to leave off the ‘attack fighters’ order altogether.

A player can generally field something like 30 fighters, compared to a single 2400 point dedicated anti-fighter cruiser. (80-point fighters) At this point, the fighters appear to be more effective.

If pilots are at a premium, cruisers lined with anti fighter turrets are relevant. Obviously just spamming fighters yourself is cheaper in terms of cash, but cash isn’t the only limited resource.

My current anti-fighter approach is to scatter some tractor beams among my cruisers and escort them with a small number of high speed rocket fighters. The enemy fighters generally first go after the rocket fighters which take some time to kill because of their high speed. In the meantime the tractors whittle them down. This usually keeps the enemy fighters off my cruisers long enough to allow them to kill the enemy cruisers. If they have too many fighters or especially effective fighters I add more Rocket fighters, some Painter fighters and/or some dedicated anti-fighter Cruisers. I don’t use frigates.