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.