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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24)

Author Topic: Lumens  (Read 886 times)

Lawrence Master-blaster

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« on: April 24, 2023, 12:42:39 AM »

Waiting for the patch I've been testing odd things in Starsector. One of said things is trying to use automated ships in my fleets because I would like to have a build that includes the skill. "Common knowledge" is that you use Automated Ships to get an Alpha core Radiant and that's it, but it costs 60 DP and I couldn't find a way to fit it into my fleet in the current patch.

So I went in the opposite direction: frigate spam.

Meet the Beta Beam Boy. Fielding ten(!) of those gives your fleet base +20%(max) nav rating and base +40% ECM rating, enough to put even Ordo fleets to shame. Total deployment cost is of course 40 DP, and with Wolfpack Tactics CR is not an issue[1]. Some notes about the fit: the +1 vent is not necessary to be flux neutral, and it will be even less necessary next patch because of the Tactical Laser buff(-30 weapon flux total) The fit will also gain +2 OP because cost of LR PD Laser will go down by 1. So you'll have an extra 3 OP to play with, which is a lot for a frigate, enough to put Solar Shielding in for example. On the other hand you'll probably have to let go of Shield Conversion - Front since it's getting nerfed. I don't think it would be that big of a deal though, at least not for beam Lumens.

Lumens were picked over Glimmers because of speed. I'm a "capture three objectives to get full DP" guy so I generally don't care for slow frigates, and Phase Skimmer with Systems Expertise dramatically increases effective ship speed. It also gets Lumens out of trouble which is important when dealing with the Reckless(Fearless) AI. That said you can replicate most of this with Glimmers if you don't care about capturing objectives(Especially since both Graviton Beam and Ion Beam are getting buffed)

Reckless AI is also why the Lumens have beams. Aggressive AI will move to the range of the shortest weapon on the ship, even PD. Reckless AI will do the same AND ignore threats other than the ship it's targeting. This is usually a recipe for disaster for anything smaller than a cruiser. By having the shortest range weapon on the ship have a range of 1000(LR PD + Advanced Optics) the AI will simply stay at that range negating both issues[2] IPDAI/PD combo is IMO not worth the cost.

Now the question of course is - okay, but can beam Lumens actually kill anything? The answer is, kind of. Obviously on the frontline they don't do much other than being a distraction(like most frigates) but if you need to get rid of some stragglers they can do it - you just have to send 2-3x as much of them as you normally would. The numerical advantage is important because no matter how weak beams are against shields, unless the enemy has 360 degree protection something is going to get burned. It takes a while though. In the initial objective rush you can send 8 Lumens to the third(assuming you send 1 to the nearest two) and yeah, 16 tactical lasers can absolutely overpower any frigates trying to contest it.

In practical tests, traditionally against a double Ordo, I first paired Lumens with Gryphons. 10 Lumens and 8 Gryphons adds up to exactly 200 DP(so initial deployment with BotB) and takes the default 8 officers. Honestly I absolutely loved this composition for many different reasons - even the offiers were super easy to roll because they had both Systems Expertise and Missile Specialization. Plus I was sure the Lumens won't end up getting into the Gryphon's line of fire since guided missiles pass through friendly ships.

Unfortunately my tests failed because I couldn't stop Gryphons from getting killed by Radiants. Ironically, it was a "suffering from success" kind of thing - The Gryphons would beat the double Ordo all the way to the top of the screen, and when the last few remaining Radiants entered the battle there's pretty much nothing I could do if one of them decided to have some tendies. I tried to stop Gryphons from coming too close to the edge with Defend orders, etc. but that caused other issues like smaller enemy ships breaking out of "containment". The Gryphon's borderline destroyer-level tank just can't take it, even with maxed capacitors and Hardened Shields. Though it should be pointed out, with Brilliants losing Active Flare Launcher(indirectly buffing missiles vs. Ordo) and Hardened Shields getting buffed next patch, perhaps the idea is worth revisiting later.

My next test was with 8 Apogees(I even gave them the medium energy hardpoint they'll get next patch) again cenered around that Squall spam. Here I ran into a weird issue where the Apogees would simply run out of missiles - I guess they just don't kill enemy ships fast enough? I tried Apogees both with HIL and Tachyons, didn't really made any difference, I actually think Tachyons were even slower. The problem I believe was that beams and Squalls are a poor combo since one is trivial to stop with a shield and the other fires in bursts(Gryphons had HVDs, with Ordnance Expertise no less, so they had more sustained pressure) On a side note my worries about Apogee becoming overpowered turned out to be unfounded, the OP is tight even with three S-mods so the fitting was like "solid tank/Advanced Optics/ECCM: pick one"

I didn't bother trying Lumens with four Conquests, I know that would work so all it would really do for my fleet is increase the fuel use.

And so the Beta Beam Boy gang idea was shelved. Next patch will introduce a medium energy kinetic weapon which will likely make Brawler TT really good, so I'll probably just use an Alpha core Radiant like a normal person.

[1] - I noticed that after a fight some Lumens would have lower CR than others. This led me to believe that when a ship uses the Phase Skimmer it actually loses CR faster(since it technically travels through phase space for a second) If that's true then it's a cool little detail.
[2] - There's a bit of weird AI behaviour where beam Lumens will sometimes try to get as close to overloaded ships as possible. I don't know if this is specific to Reckless/Fearless personality or a bug.


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Re: Lumens
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2023, 12:48:58 AM »

Part of the "Common knowledge" also includes Glimmer spam, that's almost the more popular path due to the sheer number of AI cores you can have. But I personally never went in that way since I'm not a fan of spamming SO frigates.
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Re: Lumens
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2023, 12:54:37 AM »

Spamming SO Glimmers is extremely powerful and easy, yeah, and they are very strong. Here is a build. I never went for Lumens since they seem to lack offensive power to justify their cost. Here is a basic build that far outperforms its DP cost and is fast and pretty durable due to the excellent shield.

Try spamming Ramparts, it is fun!
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Re: Lumens
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2023, 09:24:53 AM »

I actually found your Lumen to be helpful.  Exploiting the AI with Squall spam isn't the only way to deal with Ordos.

Beta Core Radiant, Aurora, Omens, and the Lumen.  Drop Target Analysis for Combat Endurance on the Lumen.

Instead of bottling the Remnants up, try spreading them out as much as possible with the Omens and Lumens.  The meager damage output from the Lumens is actually an advantage because you just want to distract and not kill until your Radiant has KIA'd all the Ordo Radiants.  It's only your Radiant that you want camping the enemy spawn zone until all of the Radiants are gone.  You might want a cruiser in support, if you're up against 4-6 Radiants.

The Lumen are vulnerable to strike craft; and so if there are a bunch of Scintillas, you probably need more Omens and fewer Lumens or at least to reconsider the front shield conversion.