I’m finding the best anti-fighter weapon is a tractor beam and a cruiser laser. The cruiser laser does crazy high DPS, is very effective against other ships and, with the tractor beam, is as good or better against fighters than other actual anti-fighter weapons. Similarly for frigates, I’m liking the tractor beam and ion cannon combo better than anti-fighter missiles. The ion cannon doubles as a good anti-ship weapon too, so you’re ready if your challenge fleet goes against a fleet with no fighters.
Just in general, I find frigates to be lackluster in performance. Fighters absolutely mow them down. Laser fighters, rocket fighters, torpedo fighters, whatever, basically any moderate number of fighters with any kind of weapons set to priority target frigates can decimate your frigate population fast. Even ridiculous frigates set to use 1 gun and the rest shields and/or armor ends up melting pretty quick to even moderate numbers of fighters.
Torpedoes are too heavy and make torpedo fighters pretty worthless. They’re easy to pick off and don’t ever seem to do their money’s worth. Rocket fighters basically render frigates useless. Laser fighters can kill frigates and can at least force cruiser fleets to bring ample armor. IMO, laser fighters should be more of an anti-fighter role or a “Vulture” roll to finish off damaged ships. I think they’re way too good at stripping defenses, especially against frigates. Laser fighters are surprisingly poor performers against enemy fighters, though. If it’s meant to be an anti-fighter weapon it should probably be a beam.
What’s the deal with point defense anyway? The jammer is soooo much better. If the jammer fails to jam a missile, the point defense does not appear to shoot at it, which I thought was strange. Similarly, if a point defense fires at a missile and fails to kill it (which is most of the time) then the jammer won’t fire at it? You actually make your missile defense ability worse by equipping any point defense. Equip 1-2 jammers and be done with it.
That said, I don’t think jammers are overpowered. Even they, in all their glory, have a hard time dealing with true missile spam. (Although a plasma spam fleet with 1-2 jammers per ship will beat a missile spam fleet quite readily).
I feel like fast ships don’t get enough advantage to make up for the loss they’re taking by equipping extra engines. As people say, if you lose against a fleet, just do what he’s doing with fewer engines and you’ll win. Consequently, I feel like long range weapons are trumping short range weapons in general, as there’s an awful lot of plasma spam and missile spam fleets out there. We could talk about modifying plasma and missiles but I think the problem is more to do with engines not providing a good enough benefit.
Maybe one thing that could be tried is to just greatly reduce the crew and power requirements of engines, so that ships with lots of engines aren’t doubly screwed by having to double up on crew and power generators, leaving them with too few module slots for defense and weapons.
Not that I want to see short range fast ships become the new dominant type, just that I think they aren’t as competitive as they should be against the single engine long range spamming doorstop fleets we see so much of today.