I want to go into much more detail about Swarm Frigate Rushes. I primarily use this type of fleet and can
beat almost any challenge with minor adjustments. The only opponent that really crushes a swarm frigate rush is
an opponent with overwhelming fighter superiority, especially fighters with two weapons.
Rocket Fighters are not the super-counter that 123stw implied; his solution is flawed.
Yes they hurt, but giving all the rushers +12 armor (two armor slots), escort fighters and properly deployed
anti-fighter frigates, all help to mitigate the effectiveness of this counter. If the opponent has a balanced fleet,
then usually all his ships are destroyed by the time the rockets take a large toll. Again if the opponent is using
almost all fighters he has a good chance of winning.
Set escort range to about 300 for best results. Why? Because if escort is 600 then fighters will get
engaged by enemy tractors and escort fighters before the frigates are in range. If escort range is set too low,
then they are less effective at engaging enemy fighters targeting the frigates. Fighters with 1 laser are
usually the best escorts as their survivability is high and they help against tanks. If fighters do not have
escort orders they are liable to go dogfight above the enemy cruiser tractor beams and get wiped out before the
frigate rush gets into range.
Anti Fighter Frigates (2 roles)
The Lure: An anti-fighter frigate whose goal is to lure enemy fighters needs to be in front of the fleet
and have have orders to move out of range of enemy ships. He also helps draw enemy ships toward the frigate rush
since they will not stop moving once the rushing frigates are in range. I always add the keep moving order. He
usually has fighters escorting him as well.
The Escort: An anti-fighter frigate whose goal is to protect the frigate rush against fighters needs to
have similar speed as the rushers, he is usually in the back rank with escort orders. He should have two tractor
beams, because the ion cannons of the rush fleet are effective against tractored fighters.
This class of frigate make up the first real rank (other than lures). He is armed primarily with ion
cannon. He needs some armor and shielding to take a punch while closing the range. He always has the keep
moving order. He is usually set to engage enemy frigates and cruisers at 200. Why? Because at 100 he takes more
damage from exploding ships, and sometimes comes to a halt when touching an enemy ship. At 200 he starts to turn
before touching an enemy ship which tends to cause a little bit of helpful anarchy for the ships following him.
By helpful anarchy I mean that rushing frigates will often end up moving past the enemy front rank into the rear
in a messy melee. I usually give vulture orders and seldom retaliate orders, because the goal is to destroy
enemy ships as fast as possible by concentrated fire and not waste ammo on tanks while weaker cruisers are in
This frigate has an EMP and rescuer orders. I’ve tried all sorts of variations, but the one I like the
best is similar to the charging frigate. Other than the EMP the rest of his weapons are ion cannons. He has
similar defense and movement orders as the charging frigate and can be in the front rank as well. Why? It is a
waste to put beams on a rescuer as the opponent’s shields are usually still up. It is also not good to stay at
the range of enemy beams, better to get inside the range as fast as possible. Often he will shoot the EMP at the
more distant ships in obedience to the rescuer command, while shooting the ion cannons at whatever is in range.
This frigate makes up the back rank of the rush and uses a beam laser or small beam laser and has vulture
orders. His goal is to destroy the enemy hull faster once the defences have been penetrated. This is more a
matter of range than of firepower. Thanks to the range, at least twice as many ships can be firing on a single
opponent with beams than is possible with ion cannons alone. While there are a numerous variations of the laser
frigate class, I prefer one as similar as possible to the charging frigate and disabling frigate I have outlined
above. That is to say, he has the orders to keep moving, engage at 200. He usually has 2 ion cannons and 1
small beam laser. Staying at long range not only means taking fire from enemy beams, it also means he will not
keep up with the wave of destruction as the frigate rush hopefully chews through the enemy. Shields are not
necessary in the back rank, but some armor is necessary or else rocket fighters will smash them in no time.
Speed of fleet
It is vital that all ships in a frigate rush move at nearly the same speed. A speed discrepancy of .03
is no big deal. A discrepancy much larger than that will cause the fleet to get seperated especially on larger
maps. It is usually a good idea to put the slightly faster ships behind the slightly slower ships.
I find that my swarm frigate fleets fall into two speed classes. Those that move at about .3 and those
that move at about .4. Both speed classes have similar armament and defences, the differences are engines, power
plants, and crew. The .3 class has considerably cheaper ships meaning it can bring greater numbers to bear.
This speed is fast enough that almost all the enemy missiles and plasma weapons will miss. The .4 class has the
advantage of closing the distance faster meaning less time exposed to enemy beams and less time to have to deal
with fighters while the bigger ships are still out of range.
Tanks not a real counter
Tanks are not a very effective counter against swarm frigate rushes. Keep moving and engage at 200 will
go around the tanks and engage the ships behind. Vulture order will help target ships other than the tank. EMP
will keep the tank from firing his weapons very often. Overwhelming firepower from ion cannons will eventually
get enough lucky shots to bring down the tank.
Lures can be an effective counter
A clever opponent can sometimes cause a swarm frigate rush to split in half using a lure. Defeating two
small frigate rushes is a lot easier than defeating one big one. Usually there is a way to change deployment
orders, sometimes using a formation, and find a way for the same swarm ships to win.
Tribe howitzers are a cheesy counter still not guaranteed.
Tribe howitzers have the highest damage per second and can potentially beat a swarm frigate rush, but not
very easily. The cheesiest counter will have minimal engines and just wait for the frigates to close the range,
obviously this cheese will lose to every other type of fleet because it will never get in range to use its
weapons. If the opponent does spend a fortune on engines, then he will have few ships with minimal defenses.
Against all short range cruiser weapons, the swarm’s response is EMP. A typical swarm frigate rush will have 1/3
of its frigates armed with EMP in any case and usually overcome a cruiser rush with ease.
Supercharged tractor beam is a partial counter
Supercharged tractor beam can bring frigates to a halt which allows missiles and plasma weapons to hit,
provided they are not outside the minimum range. I’ve never seen this be totally decisive, but a long range
fleet with supercharged tractors in front will deal more damage than one without.