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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hyperspace Topography (10/12/22)

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Messages - Delta_of_Isaire

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Actually the real problem of the Drover is how it compares to the Heron. Even if you assume the Drover's ship system is fixed, that system will not be better than Targeting Feed. Meanwhile, the Heron is both faster (80 vs 75 speed) and has more fighter bays per DP (6.67 vs 7.5 DP per bay). So fixing Reserve Deployment alone is not enough - the Drover also needs 5-10 more speed and have its deployment cost reduced back to 12.

As for the Heron: it is currently the uncontested best carrier thanks to its combination of speed, DP per fighter bay and Targeting Feed. Yeah it doesn't have enough OP to fit guns, aside from a bit of PD. But that is necessary to balance its advantages. The Heron is, currently, a pure carrier. And that's fine. If you want to give more OP to the Heron so that it can fit real weapons, then you'd also have to bump its deployment cost up to like 22-24, and nobody wants that.

Suggestions / Re: List of minor improvements for major increase in quality
« on: September 04, 2022, 12:57:08 AM »
Can we please just have the ship sprites rotated instead?

It is quite possible we are in violent agreement.  So... Want to guess which way that rotated Bliss is facing? :)

Considering I have a 50% chance to be correct purely by chance, the outcome of my guess would only constitute weak evidence that wouldn't fully convince you anyway. Much more importantly though, it's a Mod ship. Catering to mods is well and good up to a point, but in this case I think it's the mod author's responsibility to design a ship that isn't fully symmetrical. If nothing else, the sprite should have engines painted on it, which tend to be in the rear.

Hey, I'll concede. The current arrow doesn't need to go away. We can have both sprite rotation and an arrow to indicate direction.

I strongly oppose the suggestion about the command view, currently enemy ship face down and friendly ship face up in the command screen, with the arrow indicating direction in the battle scape, in my opinon this is an easier way to quickly identify the alliegance of ships (is that a friendly omen or a hostile omen? et cetera). For me this kind of pattern recognition is easier and faster than colour recognition, especially when colourblindedness is thrown into the mix.*
Friendlies are outlined by a green square. Enemies are outlined by a red diamond. That's a pretty solid difference. I can see how red/green isn't the best color scheme, but the solution there is providing the option of alternative colors.

Regarding slipstreams, they appear and disappear at fixed times (fading in July and December, IIRC) so you can schedule around that.
Personally I never liked to check the calendar for the monsoon season before going out on an expedition, but maybe I'll try actually doing it a few times.
Yeah. And half the year slipstreams tend to blow east, and half the year they blow west. Theoretically you can plan around that. In practice however I find the player doesn't have enough control over the target location of bounties and missions to make it work. There aren't enough different missions or bounties available to be picky about which ones to take.

And missions have time limits - both for their completion and for how long they are available. So if you see a good opportunity to chain 4-5 missions together then you cannot loiter for 2 months for the season to be correct.

The inverse already exists in the form of the search and destroy command applied to all ships you want to ignore automatic assignment.  Which admittedly is a lot more clicking than your proposal - although it is more fine tuned in that you can leave some ships to automatically reassign if you wish.
That's kind of my point. It isn't that it is impossible to get the correct behavior - it's that it takes a lot of work to do that. As soon as you give one command to one ship, you then also have to give commands to every other ship in your fleet lest they do something unintended. That all-or-nothing nature of commands is what bugs me.

[Ship AI target selection]
Alex seems to always be making tweaks to the AI to try and improve edge cases, but I feel like you're simplifying quite a bit here.  I'm not sure it actually is low-hanging fruit.  Do you have a nice criteria that should be applied via algorithm that can show how it's easy to handle?  Keeping in mind it also has to work reasonably well with mod ships, mod weapons, as well as unusual fits (i.e. Onslaught with no PD weapons...).  Can you handle the situation with a Kite with 2 reapers.  Or a Tempest with an Ion beam?  Or how about some mod ship with modded weapons which have significant script based damage?  Maybe there is a simple universally applicable algorithm for prioritizing what a capital should be engaging, and would love to hear it if there is.
I would give each enemy ship a rating based on its proximity to the AI's ship, (maximum) speed compared to the AI's ship, and remaining hull integrity (as % of total). More points for being proximate; more points for being slower than the AI's ship but negative points for being faster than the AI's ship; and more points for being low on hull. Then make the AI target whichever enemy ship gets the highest rating.

Of course this is just a guess. And without the ability to test it, I cannot say if proximity/speed/hull is enough information, or how heavily each factor should be weighed.

Also I need to mention [S-mods]
The whole point of story points was to be a rare resource that you're not swimming in by end game, unlike credits, so a credit to s-mod conversion completely misses the intended purpose of story points.  Now people may feel story points are too limiting for what they want to do at end game, but that's what they're intended to be.  An XP tied progression mechanic that's easier to gain at the beginning and harder to gain at the end.
Funny how I mention the credits-to-S-mods idea only to dismiss it while raising an alternative solution, and then everybody reacts to the credits thing regardless.

Buying storypoints with credits is a bad idea. The point is that some current uses of storypoints, like S-mods (but also colony improvements), should not require storypoints in the first place. Or at least not nearly as many. Why? because there is a mismatch between the scarcity of storypoints and the sheer number of S-mods (and colony improvements) that a player wants to get.

Suggestions / List of minor improvements for major increase in quality
« on: September 03, 2022, 12:46:14 AM »
There are a couple of quality of life issues in the current game that have annoyed me a few too many times. Fixing these shouldn't be too difficult but will improve playability quite a lot :)

Asteroids interrupting the burn-in sequence at the beginning of combat. In normal fights it is a minor inconvenience. But in pursuit battles, it makes the difference between successful pursuit and the targets getting away. So why does this feature even exist? It's not like asteroids impacting on armor do that much damage anyway.

Setting course to a (uncharted) starsystem (i.e. right-click on a star in the map) appears to consistently target the jump point / gravity well that is furthest away from the player's fleet, resulting in unnecessary fuel use and wasted playtime. Why does this happen?

Slipstreams disappear too often. They currently vanish 2x a year, but IMHO that should be no more than 1x a year. Too many times I've seen a slipstream and thought "hey, that will be useful for my return trip" only for it to disappear by the time I'm ready to go back.

Contact bounties target star systems, but do not point to a specific location within that star system, unlike public bounties. This can and does lead to needle-in-a-haystack scenarios. And yes I know that the time limit on the bounty doesn't expire once you've entered the system. Don't ask me how I found out. The point is that I shouldn't have needed to find out about that.

The command view in combat shows ship sprites always pointing up, with a tiny green arrow indicating the orientation of the ship. Can we please just have the ship sprites rotated instead? That would make the information much more readily apparent. In fact, the command view could use a number of touch-ups like this.

Speaking of commands: we need a way for orders to apply only to ships specifically assigned to them. Because automatic assignment of ships to orders causes more headaches than it solves. For example, if I want to order one ship to engage one particular target, that may lead to half the rest of my fleet also deciding that they should engage that target. Or, if I tell a Frigate to escort a bigger ship and then that Frigate dies, instead of the order disappearing some other Frigate might assign itself to that escort job. Which is usually not what I want.

Ship AI target selection. Best I can tell, in the absence of engage/eliminate orders, ships will tend to target the nearest enemy. Which is an overly simplistic rule that causes a lot of obvious suboptimal behavior. Most notably, slow ships attempting to chase fast Frigates; or ships with hardpoint weapons constantly rotating back-and-forth between two targets without ever properly lining up with one of them; or ships disengaging from an almost-dead target because a random different enemy suddenly became marginally more proximate. I know AI programming is difficult, but as far that goes, improving this particular behavior is low-hanging fruit in terms of the potential benefits.

Also I need to mention S-mods. A complicated topic, but I bring it up because the current state of affairs isn't quite ideal. The thing is, IMHO a large number of ships are so OP-starved that having 2-3 build-in hullmods is essential to make their loadouts work. Consequently, instead of of S-mods being an occasional bonus on a prominent ship, they end up being a mandatory storypoint sink for a large portion of your fleet. The easy fix would be implementing a way to get build-in hull mods with credits instead of SP. But that is boring. Instead, I would propose a method for your own Heavy Industry to construct custom variants of blueprints that have a specific hullmod build-in. And the creation of those blueprint variants could require storypoints. So for example: for 1 Storypoint, you can edit a Hammerhead blueprint to have build-in Hardened Shields. This approach would also fix the issue where S-modded ships are irrepleacable when lost in combat, forcing their recovery instead of building a new one with Heavy Industry.

Oh, and speaking of blueprints: please implement a way to buy or otherwise acquire blueprints from factions. Some non-hostile alternative to repeated raiding.

Blog Posts / Re: Hostile Activity
« on: September 02, 2022, 11:45:21 PM »
The coming update just crossed the threshold where it is so much more awesome than the current release that I can't play the current release anymore.

Oh well. Back to romhacking Pokémon...

Guys guys guys. Lanchester's square law assumes all units are in range of each other (i.e. functionally infinite range) and have a clean line of fire to any enemy of their choice (i.e. no cover or hiding behind each other). Both assumptions are violated in Starsector combat.

Aside from that, the central point of the square law is describing the advantage of numerical superiority. Namely, that the strength of an army does not scale linearly with size, but rather faster-than-linear (approximately - but not exactly - quadratically). This contrasts with the strength of a single unit, which does scale linearly with that units firepower. For example:
  • 1 unit, given +30% firepower, becomes 1.3x as strong.
  • An army of 10 units, with each individual unit given +30% firepower, becomes 1.3x as strong.
  • An army of 10 units, reinforced with an additional 3 units (+30%), becomes 1.3^2 = 1.69x as strong.
Therefore, assuming the square law holds, using a linear measure like DP to balance the strength of ships doesn't work. Say for example that the Dominator at 25 DP is 25% stronger than the Eradicators at 20 DP. But for every 4 Dominators (100 DP) you can field not 4 but 5 Eradicators (5x20 DP = 100 DP). And 5 Eradicators are 1.25^2 = 1.56x as strong as 4 Eradicators. Which is a bigger jump in power than the 1.25x jump of 4 Dominators compared to 4 Eradicators.

Fortunately the square law does not hold, because as I said its assumptions are violated.

As for the Eradicator: my impression is that it is exceptionally good at punching down, but can struggle to punch up due to a lack of bigger-caliber weapons for armor-cracking, as it has no large guns or medium/large missiles, unlike the Champion and Dominator. Thus the Eradicator feels strong against pirate thrash and weakly-armored Remnants, but should struggle against more robust Lowtech or Midline fleets.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly the same situation the Eagle is in. Except the Eagle has it worse because its turrets are Energy rather than Ballistic and Energy weapons are crap.

General Discussion / Re: Coronal Hypershunt guardians early
« on: August 02, 2022, 02:58:02 AM »
I want to find and kill the guardians ASAP so that I can play around with their weapons during my playthrough(rather than leaving them until the end when it would be easy with a large, pimped out fleet but then there would be nothing left to do anyway).

What would be good early accessible fleet compositions for this?

As it happens that was the premise of my last playthrough. Speedrun the hypershunt battles, and then savescum them to try to get the weapons I wanted. (Result: the types of weapons dropped after the battle is largely fixed, however there is some randomness to the quantity of each weapon type dropped. So if you want multiple copies of a specific weapon, then savescumming can be worthwhile.)

The danger posed by Omega's is twofold: high damage output of the Tesseracts, and swarming  effect of the shards and fighters. To withstand the high damage output you want to use capital ships, and possibly Apogees and Monitors. Less tanky ships than those will get picked off and destroyed too easily. To deal with the swarming enemies I find Locust missiles to be particularly effective.

Getting an Alpha core Radiant is the single best thing you can do to prepare for these battles. You can reliably get an alpha core from the scientist's tech cache mission, and you can get an easy guaranteed Radiant encounter from the Red Planet mission (although you may have to savescum the fight for the Radiant to be recoverable). The best possible Radiant loadout in my experience is 3x Plasma Cannon + 2x Locusts + 4x Sabots, with some burst PD in the rear.

The other key ship to look at is the Conquest. Of all the capital ships the Conquest is by far the easiest to get, by buying it from the black market on Neutral, Diktat or League planets. It isn't the tankiest ship out there, however it brings a lot of firepower to the table including two important Locust mounts. Use a symmetrical weapon loadout with Locusts. For example, Mark IX + Mjolnir + Mauler + Dual Flak + Ion Beam on each side.

My fleet for the omega battles ended up being an alpha core Radiant, two Conquests with lvl 5 Officers, and player-piloted Paragon. All with 2 S-mods. Altogether I did close to 20 omega battles and won easily every time, only once or twice losing a ship. The strategy was ordering the Radiant + 1 Conquest to Engage one Tesseract, while the other Conquest and myself in the Paragon dealt with the second Tesseract. My overall impression is that this fight is actually easier than endgame Remnant fights. For one, I am honestly more scared of alpha core Radiants than I am of Tesseracts. For another, the absence of a dozen frigates and destroyers constantly flanking your ships helps a lot. Having just two enemies to worry about makes everything a lot easier, particularly for the AI, even if they are tough enemies.

If you don't have a Paragon (I was lucky to have one), then I recommend piloting a Monitor to draw fire from one Tesseract while ~3 Conquests are shooting at it. So a fleet of Radiant + 4 Conquests + Monitor should do the trick.

Finally, do you need to be lvl 15 to do it? Well you don't need a lot of personal skills if you sit in a Monitor. You need to be lvl 10 to get the Red Planet mission though. Also reaching lvl 15 is really not that difficult if you optimize for it. Spend your story points on 100% bonus XP options to have constant double XP, and maximize your XP bonus by using a small fleet without officers. If you are a decent pilot you can solo a lot of battles. Early game with SO Hammerhead or SO Falcon, later on with a Conquest, Odyssey, SO Eagle, SO Aurora or Doom. Or indeed the Ziggurat which you can get extremely early if you know where to look, although I'm not a phase kind of person so I wouldn't know.

General Discussion / Re: How do you use battlecruisers properly?
« on: July 04, 2022, 08:16:36 AM »
Battlecruisers trade defensive capabilities for speed. The main thing to remember is that this makes battlecruisers unsuitable for 1v1 against ships of their own size, i.e. battleships. (Although the case of human-piloted battlecruiser vs AI-piloted battleship is somewhat of an exception because human piloting is a significant advantage.)

Battlecruisers fill two roles on the battlefield. The first is punching down, killing cruisers and other ships smaller than themselves through superior firepower. The second is flanking other capitals that are occupied by teammates. In other words, hammer-and-anvil tactics where the battlecruiser is the hammer and the anvil is a proper battleship like Onslaught or Paragon. So it's not like you cannot attack an Onslaught or Paragon with a Conquest, but you need that Onslaught or Paragon to be distracted by one of your teammates first.

The way I fly the Conquest is as a second-line ship behind a battleship, ready to jump in and provide fire support while also preventing cruisers and smaller ships from flanking the battleship. I don't use Escort orders - instead, as a Conquest pilot I'm the escort. And I take to that role loosely, flying around the battlefield supporting whichever of my ships needs support rather than sticking with one ship to protect. If the enemy fleet completely lacks capitals then you don't need to hide behind your own capitals, but can take a more aggressive approach killing ships left and right. A properly outfitted and piloted Conquest has unrivaled damage output and crowd control capabilities.

Compared to the Conquest, the Odyssey has less damage output and weapon range but significantly more speed and a better shield. The Odyssey isn't as good at crowd control, but is better at hit-and-run tactics and can outrun cruiser fleets that are large enough to overwhelm a Conquest. Some say the Odyssey's speed advantage makes it the better playership. I think that's true if you use it to solo things, however in the presence of a supporting fleet the Conquest is at least as good, just in a different way.

As for Conquest loadouts:
You can go with double Gauss Cannons + double Hurricanes (and double Harpoons). This makes for an excellent 2nd-line support ship that can also attempt to kite slow capitals, but has noticeably less DPS than a 900 range weapon loadout, which limits its overall damage output and crowd control ability.

The second option is an asymmetrical DPS-focused build that puts as many big guns as possible on one side of the ship, alongside missiles. This type of loadout is excellent for aggressively flanking capitals and 1v1-ing cruisers. This is the default build strategy for most people.

My favorite loadouts are symmetrical, which is best for crowd control and tactical flexibility, but less good at 1v1. I do find plenty of opportunities to fire both broadsides at once. And I like how when using only one broadside, the flux cost is lower than dissipation which means you can dissipate flux (especially with shields down) and still output damage at the same time. Which is quite useful if you can't risk venting (because venting disables your PD).

Suggestions / Re: The heavy mortar deserves a buff
« on: July 04, 2022, 06:13:10 AM »
It all comes down to weapon range. 700 range is not bad for a cheap weapon, but the lack of options to boost that range is what kills the viability of the Mortar, and IMHO the Arbalest and Thumper as well.
How do you mean lack of options? To boost those weapons you have access to ITU, Ballistic rangefinder, Gunnery implants and Ballistic mastery. And all of that stacks. And all of those 3 weapons are viable (hell I never touched 2 of them before the current patch), the point of the OP is the lack of a medium range option, albeit disguised in a weapon buff. It's not weird to feel that one weapon seems bad when you have only 2 points of comparison. But it doesn't feel right to buff a weapon and make it more expensive when it already has a defined role. I know I've been repeating myself a bit but I'm willing to die on this hill, we need a 800 range HE weapon.
Oh we definitely need an 800 range HE weapon. The point I was trying to make is that the Heavy Mortar could be that weapon if ballistic rangefinder would buff its range to 800 on ships without large ballistic mounts (and to 900 on ships with such mounts). When I said lack of options for range boosts I meant that (1) heavy mortar does not benefit from IPDAI + Elite Point Defense like small ballistics, and (2) receives less range buff from ballistic rangefinder compared to small ballistics.

General Discussion / Re: Eagle + HSA decent?
« on: July 03, 2022, 03:30:51 PM »
Ah yes, the Eagle. I really want to like the Eagle but it feels underwhelming, even with the flux buffs. I tried some devmode SIM battles with it just now to check its performance, and it feels like all good builds boil down to the same recipe: 2 ballistic kinetic guns + 1 ballistic HE gun + 1-2 Ion Beams + 1-2 Graviton beams + burst PD. For a supposedly 'jack of all trades' ship that is remarkably limited build variety. The main cause of this is the lack of  energy weapon options suitable for the Eagle. Energy lacks hard-flux kinetic weapons, which pidgeonholes the ballistic mounts into kinetic. At the same time Energy lacks anti-armor options with range matching the ballistic guns, which makes EMP from an Ion Beam the optimal choice, alongside relying on a mauler or heavy mortar for anti-armor.

On paper the Eagle has the strongest shields of any midline ship (noticeably better than Champion and Conquest), but somewhat underwhelming armor and hull integrity. That means it wants to move in and out of the line of battle to dissipate flux. However, the Eagle is simply not fast enough to disengage from other cruisers with base 60 speed, much less the Eradicator at base 70. While Maneuvering Jets boosts its maneuverability, its base 50 speed is on the low end. Maneuvering Jets compensates for that speed gap, but not enough to let the Eagle disengage reliably. Heck, the Eagle under AI control cannot even disengage from a Dominator that is aggressively using burn drive to chase it.

The combination of sub-par armor and lack of extra flux-free DPS from missiles means the Eagle tends to lose in 1v1 brawls against Dominator and Champion. Combined with the inability to retreat effectively, the result is mediocrity. The Eagle really does need a speed buff. If it cannot be a ship-of-the-line like heavy cruisers, then let it be a fast cruiser. Faster speed should also help enable some niche builds using short-range energy weapons.

General Discussion / Re: Legion is too underwhelming?
« on: July 03, 2022, 12:14:43 PM »
One trick I've learned recently on Enforcers with Reapers is to put the Reapers in 2 groups, each one composed of the reapers on one side of the ship, each in alternating mode. This bypasses the AI's tendency to fire 1 reaper, overload the target, and then not fire anymore because it switches to the other group to fire off another. I suspect there is some sort of anti-overkill timer on reapers that this kind of grouping can bypass to make the weapons more effective.

The AI doesn't like to fire the same STRIKE group in rapid succession; it's... basically an early move towards avoiding Reaper etc overkill/wasting all of them too quickly. It can also be extra punishing for the player when they're on the receiving end.

Wow, that explains a lot.

One of my gripes with AI missile usage is the AI is really trigger-happy against targets that are already almost dead, resulting in massive overkill wasteage. Particularly noticeable wit Sabots and Breach, where the AI refuses to spam those in appropriate situations, but as soon as the target is struggling (at which point Sabots and Breach are past the point of their main usefulness) the AI lets loose.

Heron would stomp an Eagle lmao, but that's not the point.
And for the funniest bit today,

(Reminder to please treat the other forum members with respect.)
I wasn't really offended. More amused because the concept of a Heron stomping an Eagle seems unrealistic to me. There is no way for a Heron with bombers to solo an Eagle. Maybe with 3 Lux fighters it could gradually wear the Eagle down, but that's only because the Eagle AI is bad at using Maneuvering Jets to chase the Heron. AI usage of MJ needs to be looked at IMHO. In player hands, the Eagle definitely can catch the Heron and proceed to 'stomp' it.

Suggestions / Re: The heavy mortar deserves a buff
« on: July 03, 2022, 11:15:13 AM »
It all comes down to weapon range. 700 range is not bad for a cheap weapon, but the lack of options to boost that range is what kills the viability of the Mortar, and IMHO the Arbalest and Thumper as well.

Ballistic Rangefinder pushes small weapons to 800 / 900 range. That matches the HAC: 800 unboosted and 900 with rangefinder + large mounts on the ship. In contrast, the Mortar, Arbalest and Thumper are stuck at 700 / 800 range.

The solution is simple: let Ballistic Rangefinder boost medium weapons the same amount as small weapons, up to the existing maxima of 800 and 900. In other words, 700 > 800 range on ships without large mounts, and 700 > 900 on ships with large mounts.

Suggestions / Re: Ships and weapons turning off target
« on: July 03, 2022, 09:48:02 AM »
Yeah the current AI is not optimized for slow-turning ships and slow-turning weapons. Its biggest mistake is switching between targets too often, which I think is caused by the AI wanting to attack ships that threaten to flank it. That's where 'looping between targets' behavior comes from.

Solving this is not easy though.

General Discussion / Re: Legion is too underwhelming?
« on: June 30, 2022, 03:04:09 AM »
The Legion is not a battleship. Stop comparing it to Onslaught - it isn't designed to go toe-to-toe with it. Would you expect a Mora to solo a Dominator? Would you expect a Heron to solo an Eagle?

"Ah but the Legion is a battle-carrier so it should do well in battle!!1!" Against cruisers, yes - Legion can do everything a Dominator can do, even while its four fighter wings are off killing a Frigate or Destroyer. But expecting the Legion to be competitive with Onslaught is silly. Doubly so because the Onslaught has the best point-defense potential of all ships in the game. Nothing is more difficult to kill with fighters/bombers than a properly build Onslaught.

The two large missiles on XIV Legion outperform most missile options for the base Legion. Double Hurricanes is better than 5 Harpoons; double Squall is better than Sabots (due to range) and arguably at least equal to 5 Annihilators (because kinetic pressure > HE pressure); 2x Locust is better than any number of PCLs (because of tracking); and 2x Cyclone Reaper has almost the same number of reapers per salvo compared to 5 Typhoons (4 vs 5) while carrying significantly more ammo (40 vs 25). That leaves 5x Pilum, however the coming update will add large-mount Pilum launchers so that advantage is about to vanish as well.

Now this should not be a surprise - the large missile advantage is the whole reason why XIV Legion is often considered to be more competitive than base Legion.

The advantages of the base Legion are twofold: access to Large Ballistics, and (consequently) better scaling on Ballistic Rangefinder. Is that enough? Clearly not or we wouldn't be having this discussion.

A good Legion build I find is 2x Hellbores, 4x Railguns in the front smalls + Ballistic Rangefinder, 2x (dual) flak in the front and 2x HMG in the sides; with up to 40 DP worth of fighters (I like 4x Lux). with the figher slots empty it can dominate SIM Dominators, and with the fighters it can win (eventually) against SIM Conquest. With skills it is much better - OE gives it enough flux to keep those weapons going and it gets a lot of mileage out of Elite Point Defense.

As noted the flux capacity is abysmal - about on par with the SIM Dominators - but S-modding ITU and Ballistic Rangefinder gives enough room for extra caps.

Much more notable I think is how changing the medium hybrids to medium ballistics would be a straight upgrade, as it allows them to fit extra Railguns or Vulcans. Or enable HACs to get 900 range from ballistic rangefinder.

General Discussion / Re: Balance of cruiser and capitals
« on: June 07, 2022, 04:18:56 AM »
It all depends on the weapon type.

For ballistic anti-armor weapons the most important stat is damage per shot, which tends to be higher for larger weapons. So you always want the largest possible HE guns.

For ballistic anti-shield the opposite is true. With ballistic rangefinder, Railguns and other small kinetics are better than Mark IXs or HACs. The exception is long-range guns. Any ship that can fit Gauss Cannons generally wants to do that over picking HVDs. The extra 200 range and armor penetration are worth the extra flux consumption.

For ballistic PD, Vulcans are simply the best and Dual Flak can be a useful supplement, but Devastators are terrible against anything besides massed bombers.

For energy weapons, larger = better across the board. On paper this includes PD, but in practice most ships with energy weapon slots need their large and medium slots for their main guns and cannot afford to use them for PD. And a lot of high tech ships either don't need PD or cannot afford the OP cost of more than 2-3 small PD guns.

General Discussion / Re: Safety overrides is a drug
« on: June 07, 2022, 03:54:31 AM »
SO is early-game easy mode and can carry into the mid-game if you commit to it, but against the bigger enemies the lack of range really hurts.

OP complains about Frigates, and indeed those can be a serious annoyance. For that reason any good fleet needs a dedicated counter to frigates. Non-SO solutions are fast frigates of your own (Tempest / Afflictor), Interceptor fighters (Thunders), Locust missile batteries (Conquest, Legion XIV, Radiant) or Tachyon Lances (Sunder, Paragon).

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