Useless modules?

[edit]This post was originally written during beta, version 1.15. A lot of my gripes were fixed between then and release.[/edit]

Excellent game! I’ve finally beaten all the skirmish scenarios on all the difficulties. In so doing, I noticed that some modules seem to be there to tempt the noob into making his poor fleet less effective. Hopefully, this thread will be pounced on by wise admirals who can get some use out of these seeming white elephant modules. Also, feel free to bag on other modules that I didn’t mention.

Here’s a list of modules I can’t find any point in using and why:

10: Cruiser point defense
What it’s supposed to do – Kill enemy missiles

What it actually does – Makes the cruiser captain want to earn enough honor to unlock better missile defenses. By that token, it accomplishes the task beautifully.

9: Fighter target painter
What it’s supposed to do – Make all missiles ever fired hit.

What it actually does – Better fire those missiles quick, a fighter that spends its life painting a target is going to be dog food in a dog fight.
[edit]Fighters got some serious tuning at the end, unfortunately, this makes the Fighter target painter even worse because it still masses 25 tonnes! Yes, this thing is now heavier than a non-moving fighter with 5 armor modules.[/edit]

8: Frigate plasma
What it’s supposed to do – Prevent frigate captains from having plasma envy.

What it actually does – Fire every once in a while to great fanfare (awesome looking effect, travels fast, looks dangerous) whereon it promptly sails off into the void. The hit rate is something awful and frigates don’t get targeting assist modules. [edit]Retested in 1.17, I think I kinda like frigate plasma now. Dunno what changed, but it just works better.[/edit]

7: Frigate torpedo
What it’s supposed to do – Be a slow but sure way to punch down enemy shields.

What it does – Gets there after the battle is over.
[edit]I still prefer the disruptor bomb, but I concede this is a personal preference.[/edit]

6: Turbo shields
What it’s supposed to do – Give the noob something to look forward to. I mean, these days I can easily get 10,000 honor in a single fight, but at first the game is hard (I was averaging something pathetic like 300 honor per fight) and saving up 8000 seems like a serious task.

What it does – No self respecting frigate captain would allow this thing to be installed on his ship. It’s more expensive in all respects for an almost noticeable increase in shield resistance.

5: Camouflage shield
What it’s supposed to do – Allow a cruiser with nano-repair to cloak so that the repair bots can work.

What actually happens – I mean, it does work on the rare occasion. But it seems there is a culture of honor among cruiser captains not to use the cloaking shield to do anything but hide the launching of escape pods.

4: Fighter torpedo
What it’s supposed to do – Allow fighters to engage bigger ships with shields and armor and such.

What it does – Fire so rarely that a fighter with lasers can do the same damage just by the crit % chance. I suppose this is because the pilot has to find time to load his own missile bay, seeing as how he’s the only dude on the ship.
[edit]If the enemy brings frigates, the fighter torpedo will take them down much faster than lasers would. And the fighter torpedo is now so light and cost effective, you don’t need a power plant to use it! This means you’ll have the fastest darn fighter out there so you won’t be shot while you’re reloading your own torpedo tube.[/edit]

3: Fighter pulse laser
What it’s supposed to do – Be an alternative to the fighter laser

What it does – Fail to penetrate any armor at all, even fighter armor. Basically, the idea is to hope the enemy forgets to use any armor at all. Of course, the enemy might not be using armor on fighters, so maybe this one has a chance in some challenges, etc…
[edit]Thanks to the torpedo edits (see above) the odds of an enemy deploying an armor-free fighter are quite high. For taking those down, the pulse laser is a good bet.[/edit]

2: EMP / ECM shield.
What it’s supposed to do – Prevent your cruiser from sitting there with sparkles all over it whilest it gets pounded.

What it does – As near as I can tell, takes up a slot that could have gone to something useful like more armor. [edit] Apparently it will be fixed in version 1.17. [/edit]

1: Fighter armor.
What it’s supposed to do – Give the poor fighter pilot a second chance!

What it does – make the fighter squadron cost 50% more, reducing the squadrons which can be deployed in the scenario and make each fighter so slow that enemy fighters don’t need to use lasers to hit. The enemy could use bowling balls if they liked.
[edit]Fighter armor is now very lightweight. The tradeoff is now between fighter cost and fighter survivability. That said, I think the lightest armor possible + some repair bays are the best way to go.[/edit]

Good advice!

After a couple of battles i’d worked out that I wouldnt even use half the unlockable tech. It was a bit dissapointing and I think (although its late in the dev) there should be more useful modules with more balanced prices. That you should still be making choices about buying, even by the last mission on easy. Earning honour is pretty pointless once youve got it all.

RE: 4) fighter torpedo
The torpedo has a higher minimum range than the default range that fighters try to fight at. Change their orders to fight at the correct range, and fighter torpedos get a lot more dangerous.

I still prefer beams (lighter weight = faster fighter = not dead) but I’m new and suspect I may possibly still find a use for fighter torps one day. They could probably do with a bit of a buff (reduce the weight should do it.)

RE: 9) fighter target painter
Doesn’t matter that you don’t shoot - you should have escort fighters for this task. The real problem is that it’s so heavy the fighter becomes too easy a target. If this component weighed much much less it would be a viable option. Target painters are awesome, but even cruiser target painters have a max range of 720, much further than a ‘stand off’ fleet would like - significantly shorter than many common direct fire weapons. If fighter painters were less… Death attracting… then they would become a viable choice to help you reach out and touch someone.

On that note… The better fighter power plants and engines ought to come down in weight, closer (or preferably the same as) to they basic counterparts. Mostly when I’m building fighters, the speed boost I can get by improving the engine (and needing to improve the power plant to support that) is tiny or sometimes even negative.

Also the Heavy Fighters should be able to mount 2 engines and 2 lasers. Even with another slot, the power plants are not enough for this. For now stick with the small fighters.

Yeah, light and fast is the order of the day for dogfighting.

However, the heavy fighters are usable as an attack ship - if you put a rocket pod and a laser on, then they rip through frigates like butter. Of course, fast fighters don’t do too bad at that either (and, perversely, do better against shielded cruisers.)

Fighters definately need some work, to make the armour useful, and to make rockets and torps more functional for what they were intended for (and even the better power plants and engines need some tweaking - you tend to find yourself going slower after you put on a plant big enough to power the ‘better’ engines :smiley: )

I have been setting the small fighter’s range to the lowest 100, and that has been killing both cruisers and frigates as its inside their shields. (except against other fighters, I max weapons range that)

10: It does have a significantly longer range than the automated pd, but yeah the unlockable one is better and I’ve never been hard up enough on fitting to need these.

9: The reason I see this as being useless is it’s a utility module that requires one, maybe two to be safe, to be fired. Equip a fighter with it any you get 16, perhaps if we ever get the ability to designate squadron composition it’ll be more useful.

8: Nothing wrong with frigate plasma. For the price of a single plasma cruiser you can get half a dozen plasma frigates. When you’re spewing that much plasma accuracy really doesn’t matter (I personally don’t like plasma much, but I’ve used it to pretty awesome effect).

7: Yeah I don’t see much point here either. I’d sooner use the closer range anti shield weaponry or use all round missiles.

  1. Yeah, pointless. Not enough gain to justify it.

  2. Agreed, utterly pointless. Cloaking needs its own set of AI orders to be effective.

  3. Nothing wrong with fighter torpedoes at all. Rockets all hit enemy shields (which they won’t bring down even after hell freezes over) and a significant proportion of laser fire hits shields too. A single good volley of torpedoes will wipe enemy shields out, another volley will tear through armour. That’s their point, they’re the only penetrative weapon fighters have. A squadron or two of heavy torpedo bombers will open up cruisers for the kill by fighters.

  4. The problem with these is that their fitting is quite significantly higher than a regular laser, for little gain. Still, if I can fit them I do.

  5. Agreed.

  6. Pilots are the limiting factor for squadron deployment, not money. And have you ever seen a squadron of armoured fighters take on unarmoured cheap ones? The cheap fighters won’t even get through the others’ armour. The reduced speed makes little difference, you still won’t be hit by anything but anti fighter weapons, the difference is with enough armour anti fighter weapons can shoot for ages without doing much. Fighter armour is a mainstay of my squadrons and will remain so.

Good points. Is there a specific fighter type that does well with torpedos? I might reconsider trying to get one of the rebel fighter builds to work with them since the rebel craft are naturally faster. So far, I haven’t been able to get a torp fighter build that kills more frigates than laser fighters and laser fighters also kill other fighters

I bag on fighter armor because of the pain. I fielded armored fighter squadron after armored fighter squadron to have them chopped down. Then I fielded alliance fighters with no armor against armored rebel fighters (rebel’s being near universally acknowledged to have better fighters). It was kinda funny. The rebels couldn’t hit my zippy little tin-cans. I had to hit each rebel fighter 3 times, but it wasn’t a problem hitting those slow moving pig-fighters. That’ll teach me not to zoom in close to look at what a fighter squadron is actually doing!

I’ve discovered that Fighter speed works a lot like shield resistance or armor value, a weapon with too low of “tracking speed” just plain won’t hit. Imagine if cruisers had two kinds of shields, one with a resistance of 40 but a strength of 200 and another with a resistance of 10 but a strength of 400. So far so good, but now imagine if the 40 resistance shield was FREE but the resistance 10 shield cost 1000 credits. Given the speed penalty, (and the tiny size) fighter armor should be darn close to free, since the balancing act is between speed and survivability; cost shouldn’t enter into it.

My typical fighter spam setup with rebels will be exclusively the Atlantis hull (expensive as hell, but massively more effective in the assault role than anything else). My fighters will have two laser cannons, an engine, a power plant, and armour (don’t go easy on weight, go for highest protection). Their speed is nothing special, but good enough. Either way, they have greater longevity than 90% of fighters they encounter and twice the firepower. My bombers pack two torpedo launchers, an engine and two armour plates. Slower still, but even fleets with heavy flak take ages to down them.

I deploy these squadrons in approximately a 3:1 ratio of fighters:bombers for the stock missions, obviously if you know you’re not up against much in the way of cruisers you can use less bombers. Bombers are ordered to ignore anything but cruisers under coop orders. Fighters go for anything they like, with coop and vulture orders.

The fighters move ahead of the bombers, engaging and destroying enemy squadrons first, then tearing into the nearest larger ships. Frigates might as well not be there at all for the resistance they put up. Cruiser shields and armour get annihilated by torpedoes, letting my swarm of fighters tear them apart. The empire always suffer badly against fighter swarms, but even heavily armoured rebel and alliance ships drop in no time to this.

Thanks! I’ll try it out. I’m curious, have you tried leaving the last slot blank for your laser fighters? I found that leaving that spot blank gets my fighters over the ‘hump’ to where they often avoid enemy anti-fighter flak and tractor beams, thus surviving longer against these defenses. Those weapons that do hit simply kill, but the hit rate drops precipitously with a speed of around 2. The bombers are already going to be too heavy so the armor’d Atlantis hull indeed sounds like the best option. Plus, the best way I’ve found to make my ships order themselves the way I like is to make the ones that are supposed to be at the rear slower than the ones at front. :smiley:

Been using a rebel Icarus class fighter myself. Fitted it with one laser cannon, a powerplant, an engine and an advanced ablative armor piece. For a bomber I use a basic Atlantis setup with two torpedo launchers and some armor + the necessary power/engine.

Re: 7) Frigate Torpedoes. I’ve been using them a lot and I actually really like them. I’m still new to the game so maybe I’m just suffering from playing easier missions where I can afford to squander points on them but they seem to be very helpful. I stick some on a frigate with an ECM missile launcher and park them in formation behind a cruiser set to cooperative and the seem to be the perfect compliment to the cruiser. Are frigate missiles that much better? I know they are faster and all, but the torpedoes seem to do good damage to shields, armor, and they fire fast to boot! Are there any people out there who can enlighten me on torpedoes?

My typical builds rely on cruisers to get through cruiser shields and cruiser armor, for Frigates I’m mostly looking at DPS, how fast can my Frigates set to “vulture” kill off a stripped cruiser, thereby minimizing the damage it does on the way out. After watching my frigate torps repeatedly disappear because they took so long to get there that the cruisers had just finished the job anyway, I switched to faster missiles. Ok, actually I switched to plasma, which looked really cool but seems to always miss. (BTW, with Target Assist II, cruiser plasma is quite usable; just a little nudge to give it a good hit ratio against other cruisers)

I just tested this out.

Fleet A: 9 squadrons of Atlantis fighters with 2 beams, best armour, engine, power plant. Cost 152.0 each, speed 1.29, 3.54 avg armour, 24.0 hit points.
Fleet B: 9 squadrons of Achilles fighters with 1 beam, engine. Cost 64.0 each, speed 3.42, 0.0 avg armour, 11.77 hit points.

Result: 70% victory for the fast fighters. Hit rate against the fast fighters was about 2%. Hit rate against the heavy fighters was closer to 30%. So not only did they cost less than half as much, they absolutely thrashed the heavy fighters, despite having half the firepower and a fraction of the hit points.

Out of curiosity I then removed the armour from the Atlantis fighters and ran the battle again… They did worse (78% victory for the fast fighters.) So the message here seems to be that armour has some benefit if you are already going to be slow. Speed becomes superior though, once you reach a certain point.

I then went a bit further, and faced off some of these imbalanced Achilles fighters (cheap hull, speed boost, and no need for the weight and cost of a powerplant?!) against an armoured variant, with two of the strongest armour modules added. Their speed went down to 2.37 but they went to 8.13 armour - enough to reflect some laser cannon fire. They got beaten too, 65% to 35%. Their hit ratio on the fast fighters was about 2%, but against them about 10%. So you can see that the difference between speed 3.42 and speed 2.37 is the ability to dodge about 80% of the shots that would’ve otherwise hit. Beats armour on damage avoidance, nevermind the cost saving…

Finally… Just to get a comparison between the heavy fighter and something other than the obscene Achilles, I built a Icarus fighter - laser, generator II, engine III. Speed 2.65, no armour, 19 hit points. This also smashed the Atlantis, with a 50% victory. They only took about 4% of the fire that came their way. With an armour III added, they slowed to 2.37, and were only barely able to defeat the Atlantis, with a 16% victory, taking 10% of the fire that came their way.

Looks like the break point where speed trumps armour is somewhere around speed 2.4. And if you can get to around speed 3.0 or above your ships start to get absurdly hard to kill (it can be funny to use unarmed, speed ~7.5 fighters as a sort of smokescreen - they usually draw a ton of enemy fire, but are virtually impossible to hit.)

IMO, fighter hulls should weigh a bit more, and all the components that go on them should weigh a bit less. Flatten out the speeds a bit - get rid of the ridiculously fast ships and also make the heavier ones a bit more competitive.

The absurdly fast unarmed fighter drawing fire is actually a bug, I think. There is (I believe) already code to prevent a ship from selecting an unarmed frigate or cruiser unless it is the only thing left. This code should also apply to fighters.

I also did a test. First I fielded a bunch of laser only fighters against a balanced mix of fighters, frigates and cruisers (a stock “expert” mission). Then I tried mixing in some bombers. The laser only fighters kill everything faster. In spite of not having enough armor penetration, it is as I suspected, the raw crit % chance plus firing really fast beats having armor penetration but being a slow pig that only fires once / 5 seconds. I tried making my bombers faster by removing armor but they just died faster. Below a speed of 2, armor is absolutely critical. Above 2, faster is better. Rebel fighters routinely get over 2.4 if stripped down to bare essentials and do phenomenally better than other races with stripped down fighters in the 2.0 range. Not only were the laser fighters just better, I saved enough cash to field 5 fully loaded cruisers for “support” not that they actually got to the fight in time to do anything.

The sickest part? In the bomber / fighter mix, I could afford 1 cruiser. That cruiser went down. All my bombers went down. I won anyway because 196 laser fighters turned out to be enough. (256 laser fighters seems to be a kind of critical mass for sick damage potential)

So, does this also mean frigates and cruisers need rebalancing? No. I then posted the laser fighters as a challenge, and fielded a fleet of frigates with tractor beams (and decent armor) against them. With the code changes of 1.16 and 1.17, the frigates calmly snatched fighter after fighter right out of space. Of course, I wasn’t using speed 6 fighters, but I think a fighter rebalance would probably take care of that anyway.

The problem, as always, is a combination of super speed (this is really only applicable to the Achilies, since it’s the only fighter hull that doesn’t need a heavy generator to use a laser) and crit code. If the code can’t be changed, then what about substantially slowing down fighter rate of fire? They could get a boost to weapon tracking and damage to allow them to still kill other fighters and lightly armored targets, but they’d be less capable of critting everything to death.

A balanced rebel fleet using the Achilles fighter has a serious advantage. I don’t think it was intended to have a fighter that can fly and shoot without a power-plant. If this was in fact intentional, then fighters need a weapon that can track fast enough to actually do something about it. Perhaps a fighter mounted anti-fighter missile that could be combined with the fighter target painter. The missile would need an absolutely sick “real” speed, like 10 (to allow it to catch up to speed 6-7 no-weapon fighters), but its official “tracking” speed could be low if the desire is to force the use of both the target painter and the launcher.

  1. Which point defense module is the best one right now anyway? Automated or Rapid Fire? The higher fire rate from the rapid fire PD would seem to make it superior assuming all PD does the same amount of “damage” to missiles.

  2. Frigate plasma actually seems like a decent weapon considering it’s DPS and high projectile speed since your frigates tend to be survive better as long range support units. All the long range frigate options seem to be in the same DPS area, though maybe I’m missing something if the missiles and torpedoes have more than one projectile per shot. Armor penetration is a bit lackluster like all frigate weapons, though it is a good weapon for killing other frigates. Of course you can give your frigates Ion Cannons and get five times the DPS, but you’ll have to work harder to keep them from being vaporized.

  3. Have torpedoes gotten a speed boost since this post? They don’t seem that bad to me, though they are still a little on the slow side. If you can put up with that though, they seem like a useful weapon for knocking down enemy shields from a safe distance and they have slightly higher DPS than frigate plasma. I’m not sure if torpedoes are helped by cruiser target painters. If they are, they’d be very useful indeed. They do seem to be hurt by the guidance jamming module though.

As the first post now says, frigate plasma seems to have been changed in a patch.