Now that I’ve moved on to the awesome looking Rebel ships and figured out how to consistently beat the computer with a line of cruisers guarding a massive double line of cheap (in both senses of the word) long range frigates, I’ve gone back and started to do some more interesting and satisfying designing. I’m working my way down the Federation list, making one ship for every hull. Here are all of my thoughts so far from that project.
Backspace works in the design name field (and thank you for that, by the way), but Delete does not.
The various armours use the British English spelling in the names, but the American English spelling in the descriptions and in the “Average Armor” readout at the bottom of the screen. And yes, my spell check just flagged one of the words in that last sentence as wrong.
Why list the hit points on armour? It’s always 0.00.
The Fighter Target Painter seems pretty useless. It’s as expensive, heavy and slow to reload as the Fighter Torpedo launcher, so you can either be painting a target, or hitting it with sixteen (or thirty-two!) lovely cap-killing explod-amatrons in the same amount of time. Either way, your fighter is painfully slow, even with two type III engines, so you only get one, maybe two passes most of the time.
The Fighter Pulse Laser is nice, and I love using it for its fighter-killing goodness, but it’s a real pain to fit in a fighter. The extra weight and power draw makes for a slower, dumpier fighter in two separate ways, meaning that a fighter armed with it can’t chase other fighters particularly well. Your general purpose anti-ship gun goes in the faster interceptors, and the specific anti-fighter gun goes in the slower fighters. It’s kind of backward. I’m not sure if the (very slightly) faster tracking speed and increased damage is really worth the extra cost, weight, power, decreased range, and significantly weaker penetration.
Also, the backwardness of the fighters continues with the rocket fighters being so much faster than the laser fighters. It’s easy to make a very fast (3.0 or faster) rocket fighter, but almost impossible to do with lasers. Rockets are not very effective against other fighters, so you have fast anti-ship bombers and slow dogfighters. That’s just not right.
The limited number of slots, the high power draw on most weapons, and the very basic module selection for fighters means that there just isn’t much variety in fighters. Unlike the larger ships, where customization is the order of the day, there are only maybe a half dozen or so viable fighter designs that you would actually want to spend you precious pilot allotment on to bring to battle.
There are five different flavours of fighter armour, and I don’t think I’ve used any of them but the Advanced Ablative Armour. It’s all just too heavy! And that’s assuming that there’s even a slot left for armour at all. I’d much rather have a second engine, even two smaller engines for the same power, rather than lose any of that precious speed.
The 12% power output bonus on the Federation Falcon is not applied to the base power of 3.0. If it were, you’d end up with 3.36 power, enough to run a type III engine and a rocket launcher “for free”, with two slots left over for some armour. I went with a generator and two type III engines instead, which did give me the bonus power I needed to run the rocket launcher, but it would be nice to have the bonus work in both cases equally.
Frigate crew modules are too small. A very thrifty design can be done with one type II, but pretty much everything else needs two separate crew modules. And there are not a lot of slots on those frigates! The crew should start at 58, with a second at 74 and a third at 98, for the same cost as now, but in one slot only. The micro is only good for padding out the primary crew module – it can only run one basic weapon and one type I engine on it’s own, which is not much of a frigate at all.
On the other hand, the frigate generators make too much power. You get enough to run a fighter for free, and the first generator triples that. I have a lot of frigates that run on around 20 power, with ten surplus…a third of the output wasted. I’d put in bigger engines or shields, but I’m usually right up on the limit of two full slots of crew already. If I take something out and put in another crew module, power use drops and I don’t need the extra crew any longer. Either way, one of the two resources is massively wasted.
It’s difficult to defend a frigate, in much the same way that it’s difficult to defend a fighter. You can usually defend them against annoying fighter fire, but anything more than that and they end up being very slow. Even the slowest cruiser weapons start at 0.60 tracking speed, and it’s difficult to get a frigate going that fast. I have one design that goes exactly that fast, but it’s down a third of it’s weapon hardpoints, has no shield and only just has enough armour to stop fighter laser beam fire. It costs as much as ten basic fighters. I’d rather have the fighters, honestly. At least I don’t have to worry about them taking a heavy plasma hit to the face.
No rocket love for frigates? Everyone else gets some. Some short range, fast firing, low power weapons would be exactly the right thing to load a frigate with, but you don’t get that option.
The Federation Gazelle hull looks unfinished. It is the only Federation hull of any size to not have the distinctive glowing engines or the little blue or orange glowing dots. Every time I see one in combat, I scream ‘how can your engines be crippled already!’ at it.
The Federation Fox is a pointless hull. For exactly the same price, you can get a Puma with an extra point of power and the same slots. All you get in exchange for lost power is ten extra metres of length and the second clunkiest looking Federation silhouette, behind the Eagle.
Federation frigates in general are pretty same-y. Compared to the other races, the range of slot loadouts and bonuses are very limited. The only difference between a Wolf and any other Federation frigate is plus or minus on point of power, one hardpoint, or five percent armour bonus. There is almost no reason to choose one hull over another, except for the aforementioned Fox thing.
More to follow when I make a Puma design (intentionally as different as possible from the Fox design I just finished) and move on cruisers.
Oh, and the “Main Menu” button on the deployment screen takes you to the level select screen, which itself has a (slightly longer) “Main Menu” button that actually does go to the main menu. …god, I sound like such a nitpicking Mac user.