Or - Making sense of all these changes: for the returning GSB veteran: ver 1.22
Maximum shield resistance:
Since shields are the first line of defense and are assisted via destroyers, be sure to distribute many types of high-penetration weapons in your fleet. Don’t depend on a few specialized ships!
Armor is all over the place and has to be done case by case for each hull, as number of slots, hull bonus, and stacking effectiveness are a factor. You can, for instance, achieve a 5.12 Mandela armored missile fighter due to it’s unusually small slot allocation. General rule of thumb:
Fighters < ~5 armor
Gunships < ~6 armor
Frigates < ~11 armor
Cruisers/Dreads < ~21 armor
Is is often not possible to hit the upper values without resorting to absolutely comical pricetags or bizarre loadouts. Surprisingly, dreads have high hull armor bonuses that merely counteract the effect of their high module count; they generally don’t go beyond cruiser resist values. Fighters/Gunships typically can’t achieve meaningful armor thresholds; it may be better to treat armor here instead as another health bar.
By using the thrust/weight ratios, you can figure out maximum theoretical speeds, before hull bonuses. Think empty hull powering a single engine. Obviously these aren’t useful designs (or even possible, since fighters require fuel) but knowing the absolute upper limits are a useful jumping off point:
Fighters: 12.33 (yootani), 10.0 all other races
Gunships: (without using “fighter” engines): 5.0, otherwise same as fighters
Frigates: 3.71 (yootani), 3.33 all other races
Destroyers: 3.71 (yootani), 2.15 other races
In practice most designs only achieve a fraction of the maximum, mainly determined by starting stats or how much other kit they carry. Gunships are allowed access to some exclusive heavier/higher hitpoint engines, but in many cases can achieve higher speeds by simply using some of the fighter engines.
Based on our understanding of the hit formula, if speed exceeds the tracking of a weapon, that weapon only has a ‘lucky hit’ (2-3%?) chance of striking the target.
Maximum tracking weapons (before hull bonuses, limpets, targeting beams or computers):
Fighter: 3.0 with the light pulse and dogfight missiles.
Gunships: 2.8 with pulse laser and yootani scimitar.
Destroyer/Frigate: 3.0 with antifighter laser.
Cruiser: 3.7 with defense laser.
Dread: 1.8 with pulse cannon. 1.85 with the Terran version.
Like in GSB1, it’s difficult to engage anything in the 3.0+ speed spectrum (which is now possible for a variety of fighter/gunship weapon types) without the assistance of specialty modules like limpets, tractors, painters or targeting computers, making it wise to include several in your fleet, and having unassisted free-roaming anti-fighter squads inadvisable. Fighters no longer have the laser pointers, so they’re reliant on larger ship classes for this. In absence of these, the best you can do is to have a high rate of fire and hope for lucky hits to the engines.
Weapons tend to fall into certain roles:
Pulse: good against hull, high dps, poor vs defenses
Plasma: good against defenses on slow targets, poor hull dps
Missiles: good against shields, average otherwise, can be intercepted, very good against fast targets with a painter, very low power requirements
Beams: good against armor, very poor vs shields
Notable hull class roles:
Fighters (typically) have one weapon and exclusive access to the dogfighter missile and light pulse laser. Very high damage/cost ratios.
Gunships can have two weapons, better starting power, access to the shield disruptor.
Frigates/destroyers have access to the flak cannon and the incredibly important laser pointer.
Destroyers are the exclusive carriers of the powerful assistance beam modules and the specialized point defenses.
Frigates have a higher resistance shield and more offensive armaments, notably the sniper beam, radiation cannon, and additional plasma options.
Cruisers have unique access to limpets, a long range disruptor, and all of the ECM (stun) options.
Dreads often have a very high hull bonus of some type, and some unique beams.
Notable weapons and tips
Don’t forget pulse weapons! It’s easy to go nuts on antishield weapons, but taking down targets quickly and efficiently almost requires pulse.
The cruiser heavy beam laser is a common beam that defeats all known armor with its 25 penetration. You should include a few in a fleet as a backup.
The fighter missile launcher is like the fighter rocket from GSB1. This lightweight weapon handily beats up on frigate and destroyer defenses.
The laser pointer gives a missile 100% chance to hit provided it can make it to the target. The effect is not retroactive for missiles in flight.
The fighter sniper laser fires much slower than regular fighter pulse but has an incredible 600 range. The added uptime on target due to the range makes this a fantastic supporting weapon.