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Author Topic: How to accommodate carrier AI?  (Read 2558 times)

Jo Jo

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How to accommodate carrier AI?
« on: August 17, 2021, 05:01:00 PM »

I've received some very helpful advice regarding carrier AI with regards to the fighters / bombers they carry, and I've read through other threads discussing this topic.

Here is what I gather:

- Specialize your carrier into like fighters/bombers.
- The reason you don't mix fighters with bombers assuming you have a ship with at least two bays is because the current version of the carrier AI will recall the fighters (unlimited ammo) at the same time the bombers are coming back having used their ammo on a bombing run. This leads to your fighters being out of action for an unnecessary amount of time.

I can't wrap my head around how to make this work with bombers, since if my understanding is correct it means your best bet is to only go with ships that have one fighter / bomber bay. If you have two bays and you choose the exact same type of bomber in each bay, then wouldn't you be wasting a bay since undoubtedly one bomber fleet will release its payload and start the return cycle for both before the other bomber fleet releases its bombs?

What happens if one of the bomber fleets is destroyed and the other bomber fleet is out trying to bomb something? Does that fleet stop what it's doing and come back to be launched near the same time as the first fleet begins to regenerate?

I don't see that people are avoiding using carriers with more than one bay in their fleets, at least in the more recent 95a YouTube videos I've managed to find, so that suggests there is a way to use a carrier efficiently. I just don't know what loadouts will make them operate in a manner we would expect. Maybe I just watched too much Battlestar Galactica and have high expectations that both bomber wings will go out and do their thing?

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The Soldier

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2021, 05:39:12 PM »

The point of having fighters along with your bombers it to provide more targets for PD to shoot at, in the form of more fighters and flares to distract PD from the real threat of the bomber's payload. See: Broadsword. You might lose strike potential by replacing a bomber with a fighter, but it should make up for it with reliability, depending on the number of fighter bays the carrier has.

People can get pedantic about how carriers can be fitted, so I'll keep it brief, but the way I see it is 2-bay carriers should have either two fighters/interceptors or two bombers, and 3-bay carriers can mix. You do indeed lose a lot of strike potential if you take one fighter and one bomber on 2-bay carriers.

Carriers work fine, don't know why anyone would avoid them. Always good to have some support that can be anywhere in the battlespace.

As for the Battlestar Galactica thing, fighters don't act independently in Starsector, they take commands from their carrier of origin and pretty much follow them to the T. And neither the player nor the AI can micromanage individual wings, so all wings follow the same Engage or Regroup order, and leads to certain inefficiencies on part of the AI.
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Phenir

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2021, 05:46:55 PM »

I don't think I've ever seen a carrier pull its fighters back just because its bombers got done with a run (other than astral of course), usually they just leave them on engage.
Same thing with only bomber loadout, if they have a target then they will send them in and keep sending them in. It's actually good to mix up your bombers as well. Longbows are faster than most other bombers so they can crack shields before the rest of them start firing. You just need to account for the sabots slow speed.
All that said, nothing is stopping you from using the sim to test all of this and see for yourself.
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Thaago

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2021, 06:05:46 PM »

I've received some very helpful advice regarding carrier AI with regards to the fighters / bombers they carry, and I've read through other threads discussing this topic.

Here is what I gather:

- Specialize your carrier into like fighters/bombers.
- The reason you don't mix fighters with bombers assuming you have a ship with at least two bays is because the current version of the carrier AI will recall the fighters (unlimited ammo) at the same time the bombers are coming back having used their ammo on a bombing run. This leads to your fighters being out of action for an unnecessary amount of time.

...


While its true that specializing can be helpful, the reason is incorrect. The AI does not switch to recall right away when a bomber launches right away, and sometimes does not switch at all (if it is high on replacement, at high aggression, or if the fighters outnumber the bombers). In 50/50 cases the carrier often will recall the fighters a little bit after the bombers have launched, but thats more often than not the right call: a single wing is going to get chewed up and accomplish little in most cases other than not be ready for the next bomber strike.

When there are multiple bombers in a carrier, they will consistently all fire their weapons, and they will maintain a staggered wing deployment depending on their type (value are in the fighter CSV file) that attempts to have them hit the enemy in a smart way. This staggering also works when there are fighters mixed in, usually with the fighters hitting the target ship first to try and drive up shield flux and distract point defense. The staggered wings of a flight group move at the speed of the slowest wing until they are within engagement distance of an enemy, in order to maintain formation, so mixing in a slow fighter can be very bad for overall flight group performance.

In terms of fighters, there are 3 main types:
1) Interceptors. They have high speed (>275, up to 450 for Thunders) and decent firepower, making them excellent at killing frigates and responding quickly. They have lower defenses that make them vulnerable to the gunfire of large concentrations of enemies. Suggested use: Bind 2 or more carriers into one action group (using the ctr-#'s) and use them to assassinate lone enemies with fighter strikes, OR to support a "duel" between 2 ships that you want your ship to win faster (accompany with an order for the ship to eliminate as well). I like 2+ condors with Thunders for these tasks. Interceptors should almost never be mixed with other groups: the other groups drag down their travel speed and expose them to more fire.

In my opinion interceptors are the most useful fighter type, but they require a player watching the battlefield and directing them to where the concentration of force they bring will do good, rather than just letting them do their thing.

2) Assault Fighters. These have lower speeds (200 or less), but tend to have strong defenses and many flares. They can better survive enemy gunfire than interceptors, but aren't fast enough to catch frigates or SO destroyers. Massed wings of assault fighters can grind down cruisers and normal destroyers mercilessly and can be very effective in providing support to your own ships. Assault fighters provide pressure to confuse and grind down the enemy. Warthogs are quite slow, but with their HE, toughness, and flares, can orbit slower ships and kill quick. Broadswords are the anti-shield assault fighter and have tons of flares so mix well with Warthogs, EMP ships (one of the few times to mix in an interceptor is Claw + Broadsword, though I like Claw + Gladius a little better usually), or bomber wings.

When broadswords are included in a mixed fighter/bomber wing, they will lead the way, fire anti-shield weapons (lmgs), and launch flares that stop the incoming bombs from being targeted.

3) Bombers. Even lower speeds and do single attack runs. Bombers are best used either in massed strikes of multiple carriers (again use ctr-# to attempt coordination) or against enemies that are high flux to start with. Most bombing runs will do no damage to their targets, but a successful one can very quickly deal heavy  anti-armor/hull damage. For bombers, flight speed is extremely important, as it both determines their duty cycle and how long they are exposed to enemy fire: mixing bombers of different types is usually fine, but beware the slow bomber making the whole group bad. Special mention goes to Longbows, because they fire anti-shield sabot missiles instead of anti-armor rockets/torpedoes: great for antishield, and they try to hit before the HE (currently rather unreliable, I think the distance in the file is set incorrectly), so mixing a Longbow + HE can be very good.

For 2 deck carriers I don't like mixing assault fighters and bombers because it leaves the bomber strike itself anemic - just have to try and direct the bombers to a vulnerable enemy. For 3 deck carriers with bombers, I like putting either 1 Broadsword or 1 Longbow and 2 Bombers, to give flare/kinetic support to the bomber strike while still having good 'punch'.

One thing that boosts carriers that might not be obvious at first glance: CR. High CR not only makes the flight decks more efficient, but it does apply its bonuses to the fighters! A 100% CR carrier has +10% offense, defense, speed for the fighters and better autoaim accuracy (very important for all of them!). Crew training for 15% CR is a MUST for carrier fleets (even though it also applies to warships, its a better carrier skill than the reduction in rebuild time alone!). Officers with the +15% CR industry skill are a big help for large carriers too (and the more obvious skills as well for those officers, but I wanted to highlight CR).

Wow that turned into a text wall! Happy starsectoring!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2021, 06:10:40 PM by Thaago »
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2021, 07:59:37 PM »

Very helpful information. Thanks to everyone! I'm a little over middle-age so reading a WOT is "normal" since I also read books. ;)

Work and family life have prevented me from being able to play and to experiment (so far), so what I can do is watch YT videos a few minutes at a time and ask questions when I see something or read something on the forum that causes confusion. Thanks for being there to help me develop a better understanding of game mechanics.

Most of what I just read I'll have to study and compare with info available in the Wiki. Thanks for the strike craft combo tips, too. What I absolutely was not aware of is that the carrier launches the fighters / bombers from its bays and tries to keep them together. I thought the carriers would send the interceptors after enemy interceptors and let the bombers attack the closest target. If all the wings do fly together or close enough at least until engagement range, then it really does makes sense to consider the speed of the slowest craft housed in the carrier bays (if multiple bays) and also the special characteristics that may complement an interceptor / heavy fighter combo.

I have seen many tutorial videos on this game including those on the combat interface, though I've never seen someone use control groups or instruct a carrier to go after a target. Control groups in RTS are usually set up by first shift-left clicking on several units, then once all are selected hitting the ctrl+# key. Is it that way in this game?

Regarding sending commands that would result in a carrier's interceptors attacking a lone frigate, what commands would be used? Once in a control group, would you simply hit the # corresponding to the CV control group to select the ships and then tell them to target the lone frigate, or would you use the control group to select the ships and then use the command on the right that only appears when carriers are selected, allowing the player to direct strike craft to perform a task (attack, escort, move here, etc.), leaving the carriers where they are? What I have seen in some of the playthroughs and the tutorials is that players will select their non-combat carriers and send them to a waypoint at the back of the battle and leave them there along with their strike craft allowing the carriers to make all decisions on strike craft use. I have yet to find any video where a player directs their strike craft anywhere or gives them any specific tasks using the available strike craft menu on the right.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2021, 09:31:30 PM »

The game isn't really designed to be played like an RTS, you can order carriers to attack the same target, but they treat orders more like general guidance rather than hard and fast rules, and prioritize protecting themselves over following orders. You don't have enough control over positioning and timing with orders to meaningfully coordinate attacks.

I personally don't like using bombers on smaller carriers because the AI doesn't coordinate strikes with other carriers, so you will end up with bombers going in 2 at a time and not achieving much. If I use bombers, I like to use big ships with lots of wings because all the wings from the same carrier will strike at the same time. I use smaller (2 bay) carriers primarily as interceptor/fighter platforms.

I honestly haven't used carrier much on this patch because other stuff feels better, but I still think they are viable.
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Thaago

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2021, 09:58:46 AM »

...

I have seen many tutorial videos on this game including those on the combat interface, though I've never seen someone use control groups or instruct a carrier to go after a target. Control groups in RTS are usually set up by first shift-left clicking on several units, then once all are selected hitting the ctrl+# key. Is it that way in this game?

Yup, exactly! The groups can be set either in a real battle or a simulator, and will persist across battles. They can also be used in the deployment mini-screen.

Quote
Regarding sending commands that would result in a carrier's interceptors attacking a lone frigate, what commands would be used? Once in a control group, would you simply hit the # corresponding to the CV control group to select the ships and then tell them to target the lone frigate, or would you use the control group to select the ships and then use the command on the right that only appears when carriers are selected, allowing the player to direct strike craft to perform a task (attack, escort, move here, etc.), leaving the carriers where they are? What I have seen in some of the playthroughs and the tutorials is that players will select their non-combat carriers and send them to a waypoint at the back of the battle and leave them there along with their strike craft allowing the carriers to make all decisions on strike craft use. I have yet to find any video where a player directs their strike craft anywhere or gives them any specific tasks using the available strike craft menu on the right.

The battle controls in the game are a bit weird from the perspective of other games. A summary: If you click on an enemy unit or a place on the map with left click then select one of the options for orders at the bottom right, one of the ships in your fleet will automatically be assigned to deal with that task. If the assigned ship dies or if it runs into heavy resistance, more ships are automatically assigned to that task, and the order will persist. You can remove orders for free, though putting them down is semi-limited.

If you click on an allied unit or units (shift click or press a # to select a control group of units), you can issue them direct orders via right clicking. If clicked on an objective, they attempt to capture the objective. If clicked on a place, they will rally to that place. And if clicked on an enemy, they will either try and 'eliminate' them (a very strong order that can get ships in trouble) or 'fighter strike' if they are carriers. No new ships are automatically assigned to a direct order.

So, to order carriers in general to attack a target, you can select an enemy and then hit 'fighter strike'. For carriers I don't like this as much as giving direct orders, as the automatically assigned carriers might not be the correct ones/in the correct position.

Instead, as you guessed, you can just select the control group with the #, then right click on the enemy, giving a direct order for the carriers to 'fighter strike' that particular target. If the ship you are attacking is in a duel with one of your own, you can also select that allied ship and right click them onto the target: that will preserve the fighter strike order and tell the ship to go after the target hard. Which might be wanted, might not, depends on situation.
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2021, 07:10:20 PM »

The game isn't really designed to be played like an RTS, you can order carriers to attack the same target, but they treat orders more like general guidance rather than hard and fast rules, and prioritize protecting themselves over following orders. You don't have enough control over positioning and timing with orders to meaningfully coordinate attacks.

I personally don't like using bombers on smaller carriers because the AI doesn't coordinate strikes with other carriers, so you will end up with bombers going in 2 at a time and not achieving much. If I use bombers, I like to use big ships with lots of wings because all the wings from the same carrier will strike at the same time. I use smaller (2 bay) carriers primarily as interceptor/fighter platforms.

I honestly haven't used carrier much on this patch because other stuff feels better, but I still think they are viable.

Thanks for the help. Makes sense from what I saw on YT the last couple days. Strange and complicated game. I was able to buy it today and I anticipate being able to experiment a bit this weekend maybe. I also saw some built in scenarios which allow me to refit ships and try different wing combinations. Looks like a good way to learn more about the game AI.
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2021, 07:19:18 PM »

...

I have seen many tutorial videos on this game including those on the combat interface, though I've never seen someone use control groups or instruct a carrier to go after a target. Control groups in RTS are usually set up by first shift-left clicking on several units, then once all are selected hitting the ctrl+# key. Is it that way in this game?

Yup, exactly! The groups can be set either in a real battle or a simulator, and will persist across battles. They can also be used in the deployment mini-screen.

Quote
Regarding sending commands that would result in a carrier's interceptors attacking a lone frigate, what commands would be used? Once in a control group, would you simply hit the # corresponding to the CV control group to select the ships and then tell them to target the lone frigate, or would you use the control group to select the ships and then use the command on the right that only appears when carriers are selected, allowing the player to direct strike craft to perform a task (attack, escort, move here, etc.), leaving the carriers where they are? What I have seen in some of the playthroughs and the tutorials is that players will select their non-combat carriers and send them to a waypoint at the back of the battle and leave them there along with their strike craft allowing the carriers to make all decisions on strike craft use. I have yet to find any video where a player directs their strike craft anywhere or gives them any specific tasks using the available strike craft menu on the right.

The battle controls in the game are a bit weird from the perspective of other games. A summary: If you click on an enemy unit or a place on the map with left click then select one of the options for orders at the bottom right, one of the ships in your fleet will automatically be assigned to deal with that task. If the assigned ship dies or if it runs into heavy resistance, more ships are automatically assigned to that task, and the order will persist. You can remove orders for free, though putting them down is semi-limited.

If you click on an allied unit or units (shift click or press a # to select a control group of units), you can issue them direct orders via right clicking. If clicked on an objective, they attempt to capture the objective. If clicked on a place, they will rally to that place. And if clicked on an enemy, they will either try and 'eliminate' them (a very strong order that can get ships in trouble) or 'fighter strike' if they are carriers. No new ships are automatically assigned to a direct order.

So, to order carriers in general to attack a target, you can select an enemy and then hit 'fighter strike'. For carriers I don't like this as much as giving direct orders, as the automatically assigned carriers might not be the correct ones/in the correct position.

Instead, as you guessed, you can just select the control group with the #, then right click on the enemy, giving a direct order for the carriers to 'fighter strike' that particular target. If the ship you are attacking is in a duel with one of your own, you can also select that allied ship and right click them onto the target: that will preserve the fighter strike order and tell the ship to go after the target hard. Which might be wanted, might not, depends on situation.

Thank you! Point well taken about the dangers of right clicking and ordering an attack. I was able to purchase the game today and I hope to have some time to experiment soon. BTW, wonderful description of the different types of orders available and how the AI works. I especially like the part about the game AI running into a stronger than expected force and allocating additional resources to accomplish the task. I'll have to learn to issue orders carefully. Also love the fact that the control groups are remembered across battles. That certainly saves on the micro and is a brilliant idea.

BTW, I assume that the urgency is below a right click "assault" if you select a friendly group and then designate a target by selecting an enemy and then "R?" From what I have seen online the "target" command simply tells a ship or a group of ships they should focus on that enemy ship, but doesn't instruct them to do so recklessly.
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Thaago

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2021, 10:33:20 AM »

Right, there are two levels of attack command that can be placed on enemy ships:

Engage: use this as a preferred target, but still fire and respond to other enemies.
Eliminate: go after this target as hard as possible and ignore other enemies.

Engage is a fairly 'soft' order that mainly keeps the fleet organized, but as enemies that are damage/high flux try and fall back to their own allies it ends up with ships shooting at lots of things as the battle evolves. Eliminate is a 'hard' order that can be really good... IF your ship(s) can win against the target and there isn't help for them around. Half the time I use it I end up cancelling the order when things don't pan out.
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2021, 05:01:57 PM »

Right, there are two levels of attack command that can be placed on enemy ships:

Engage: use this as a preferred target, but still fire and respond to other enemies.
Eliminate: go after this target as hard as possible and ignore other enemies.

Engage is a fairly 'soft' order that mainly keeps the fleet organized, but as enemies that are damage/high flux try and fall back to their own allies it ends up with ships shooting at lots of things as the battle evolves. Eliminate is a 'hard' order that can be really good... IF your ship(s) can win against the target and there isn't help for them around. Half the time I use it I end up cancelling the order when things don't pan out.

The last response about canceling Eliminate half the time is fascinating. I'll have to experiment a bit. Thanks!
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Kanjejou

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2021, 05:43:52 PM »

even if I am a fairly new player i will give my honest feeling adn advices

carrier should always get the recovery shuttle and extended crew perk even if it eat almost all the OP of the carrier (looking at you condor)

Don't forget to use tab to "set a target" (key is R) so all your wings try to coordinate to get on the same target if you need it dead.

Interceptor are good fast and can easily react and go left and right to cover or support and assault but often they are crew guzzler except if unmanned, they also wreack frigate and destroyer

Heavy fighter are always good but they are slow the middle fo the road they arent as good vs small and mobile targets but can pretty much attack anything

The bombers only work in group of 2+ so they satturate the place with bombs and the ennemy usually panic and can't dodge everythign or have to get in a bad spot...be carefullt hey can bomb your own guys...also extremely effectiv vs space stations and cruiser/capital that dont teleporte or phase

Torpedo bomber always work and are usually safe, watch out for friendly fire again...
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Brainwright

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2021, 06:28:54 PM »

The last response about canceling Eliminate half the time is fascinating. I'll have to experiment a bit. Thanks!

Against certain very light blue fleets, their ships are so fast, that any eliminate order would be trumped by the ship simply folding back into the fleet and the other ships directly blocking fire against the vulnerable ships.  Your own ship is typically destroyed when two fresh ships replace the one you placed the order on, so you can change orders to match these tactics if you've selected skills that let you regenerate command points.
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2021, 02:05:24 PM »

even if I am a fairly new player i will give my honest feeling adn advices

carrier should always get the recovery shuttle and extended crew perk even if it eat almost all the OP of the carrier (looking at you condor)

Don't forget to use tab to "set a target" (key is R) so all your wings try to coordinate to get on the same target if you need it dead.

Interceptor are good fast and can easily react and go left and right to cover or support and assault but often they are crew guzzler except if unmanned, they also wreack frigate and destroyer

Heavy fighter are always good but they are slow the middle fo the road they arent as good vs small and mobile targets but can pretty much attack anything

The bombers only work in group of 2+ so they satturate the place with bombs and the ennemy usually panic and can't dodge everythign or have to get in a bad spot...be carefullt hey can bomb your own guys...also extremely effectiv vs space stations and cruiser/capital that dont teleporte or phase

Torpedo bomber always work and are usually safe, watch out for friendly fire again...

Great advice!

I was able to play the game for the first time this weekend and I feel you have some very wise words. I've never even considered recovery shuttles and the extended crew additions, though I'll certainly look into it. I also completely agree that it's hard to make a carrier work well in this version, and that you really have to design your carriers for specific purposes. I've had the most luck with the Thunderer Interceptors (450 speed) in the smaller carriers with two bays (all I have so far), and using them to kill phase ships and smaller ships. That's really all I'm seeing in the early game anyways. Boy do they get killed quickly and yes, they really eat crew. There are some skills I can get as I level up that will help mitigate the crew loss and get the ships back on the field faster.

I have had some luck with the slower Broadswords (200 speed) when some frigate gets close to my carriers, and so far I've no luck at all against any ships with 2 carriers with two wings each of the Warthog (130 speed). They are slower than the frigates, and the destroyers I've encountered have incredible point defense. I could set both ships up with a combination of Broadswords with their flares + one wing of bombers like the daggers and their guided torpedoes. It seems to me though that the two carriers have a very hard time staying together and coordinating any type of strike, which leaves me thinking that I'd need a carrier with three bays before I try bombers so that all arrive on point at the same time.
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Jo Jo

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Re: How to accommodate carrier AI?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2021, 02:12:24 PM »

The last response about canceling Eliminate half the time is fascinating. I'll have to experiment a bit. Thanks!

Against certain very light blue fleets, their ships are so fast, that any eliminate order would be trumped by the ship simply folding back into the fleet and the other ships directly blocking fire against the vulnerable ships.  Your own ship is typically destroyed when two fresh ships replace the one you placed the order on, so you can change orders to match these tactics if you've selected skills that let you regenerate command points.

Thanks! That's exactly the issue I'm running into in this early game. I'll be up against 6-8 frigates and a couple of destroyers, and those frigates run forward, get hit, and then melt back behind the lines, providing a barrier to any fighters I've sent after it and as you said simply ganging up on any pursuing frigates.

I have two destroyers, one phase ship, 3-4 frigates and a couple of shuttles at this early stage of the game, not including the two carriers. If I allow a free for all, my frigates die, the enemy frigates outrun my destroyers in an endless game of tag, and unless I use interceptors in the carriers they really don't add anything besides becoming big, fat, behind the lines targets for random enemy frigates and shuttles. I'm trying the escort role for my frigates /shuttles (2 for each destroyer) while allowing the phase ship to do it's thing, and I'm using the "fighter strike" command on enemy phase ships (anywhere) and frigates that have separated from the group. Good weapons are still a real issue for me, and my poor phase ship only has one AMB. ;)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 02:14:27 PM by Jo Jo »
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