Fleet must-haves

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yurch
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Fleet must-haves

Postby yurch » Sun May 31, 2015 4:49 am

I'd like to talk about modules that are so good that fleets should not be without them. This isn't a nerf thread; in fact it's the opposite: I think more stuff like this should be encouraged.

GSB(1 & 2) has always had a problem with hard counter modules. Are you up against a fleet with no fighters?
1) Copy it verbatim.
2) Remove all anti-fighter units and modules.
3) Use the saved money to buy anything else.
4) Guaranteed win through better spending.

Since fighters aren't completely integral for any given strategy or effect, they become interchangeable with other classes. Interceptor fighters, limpets or tractors become risky investments and potential deadweight for your fleet if your opponent opts out. This type of rock-paper-scissors isn't entirely healthy or satisfying.

However, there are some very powerful effects that prompt interesting fleet ecosystems in their wake.

The most obvious is the Shield Support Beam (SSB). This module is powerful enough to make entire fleet arrangements obsolete; The Kraugerisk version is so good that going up against their SSB arrangements without some sort of concession is virtual suicide. If you don't use these, you're missing out.

Why this is good: The first obvious weak point of every fleet is now the destroyer. A emerging niche of destroyer assassination is now available, and opting out of using destroyers to make this a waste is not a great idea. An admiral can freely budget for low-penetration units and modules with the intention of sniping out destroyers, because there's an insurance plan - if your opponent turns out not to be using destroyers, you get SSB's and he doesn't.


Another such module is the Cruiser EMP missile. This excellently ranged weapon has such harm-reduction potential for your fleet - 3s of stopping fire is the next best thing to outright blowing up a ship. This weapon exerts pressure away from having just a few, powerfully defended ships, as significant percentages of a fleet can be locked down otherwise.

Why this is good: It's a missile. The insurance plan here is point defense.

Other effects: Due to the nature of point defense, EMP encourages the use of additional missiles (to mask the shots), and may be partially responsible for why we haven't seen many plasma-centric fleets take off. Most point defense is centered on destroyers so many of the dynamics introduced by SSB's are further cemented by the need for the overextended destroyer to be present on both the front and rear lines.

I actually think EMP missiles should be made better, either in the form of extended payload or having EMP interrupt effects like holoprojectors, tractors, and SSB's. It'd also be great if the earsplitting noise involved was... different.


What we're looking for here is stuff that is so good, that you should expect your opponent to either have them, or to be at a severe disadvantage. Can anyone think of anything else? Should we encourage more?


Potential new avenues:
Carriers: I've been exploring untethered fighter "cavalry charge" deployments for a while. Since there (thankfully) isn't a fighter defense in the game that can stop a whole mess of fighters quickly, there will always be some shock value in dumping a lot of fighters with a lot of guns on top of a very small area at the same time.

I'm hoping the upcoming torpedo change helps open up this as an option for all races. Rocket fighter rushes are already attractive if not risky; but I'm still noticing a disappointing lack of carriers in fleets that I come across.

Frigates: Frigates are completely without a niche right now, as high-speed destroyer assassination is too dangerous for them and near everything else they're capable of is better performed by a cruiser, despite the price difference. Their saving grace may be the fact they just aren't destroyers - most fleets at this point are just outright ignoring them as they are almost killed by accident.

I wonder if increasing their defensive values isn't warranted, so they could range away from the fleet without the need for as much protection. They could have a role in skirmishing against destroyers or blunting fighter rushes if only they could be made to move more intelligently.

aiven
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Re: Fleet must-haves

Postby aiven » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:12 pm

Holo-projectors have worked out well for me. The same has the sledgehammer pulse cannon and the multi-head missiles. Even after the nerf, the SPC seems like the best weapon in most if not all cases. I tried swapping out pulse cannons for less shield-penetrating weapons for a mission without shields. In theory, the other weapon's lack of shield penetration should mean it does more damage, right? No such luck. I struggled a lot, until I just swapped back to the good ol' SPC. I have not done any hard maths on why, but I suspect that it's advantage is it's burst. Other weapons may have equal DPS over one minute, but the SPC can often deal out enough burst to just kill a ship in seconds, then recharge to get ready for the next ship in range.

I think the SPC is unbalanced and I belive the Kraugerisk shield support beam is, though I have not played without it for the last months, so can't tell how that is.

aiven
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Re: Fleet must-haves

Postby aiven » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:04 pm

(I know the SPC is more expensive than most weapons, but in this no-shield scenario using SPC allowed 6 cruisers to succeed where 8 had failed without it, so more efficiency for less cost)

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Sable Phoenix
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Re: Fleet must-haves

Postby Sable Phoenix » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:41 pm

Yeah, pretty much your must-have weaponry is missiles (multi-warhead and fast are about equal now), sniper beams, and pulse cannons, the Sledgehammer if you're Kraugerisk and regular ones if you aren't. None of the other weapons are necessary or even particularly useful. The ECM missiles are pretty good but they won't win you the battle if you don't have some of the other weapons too; they're definitely not must-have.

I'm not sure what happened between GSB1 and GSB2, but the weapon selection doesn't feel anywhere near as varied and useful. In GSB1 most weapons were viable, even if many were clearly situational. I'm sure we all remember how devastating a massed Plasma fleet could be in GSB1. Does anyone use plasma weapons in GSB2 at all? The question is rhetorical. Despite having more weapon modules in sheer number in GSB2, the actual variety feels a lot lower because certain weapons are just obviously better in most or all important ways than anything else in their category.

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Sable Phoenix
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Re: Fleet must-haves

Postby Sable Phoenix » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:32 pm

Just another thought; you CAN make some pretty varied loadout combos, but they all kind of depend on one of the weapons I've listed above being the cornerstone of your strategy.

For example, I've found that the Heavy Plasma Cannon (and only the Heavy, that 1200 range is critical to making the weapon useful, 950 range on the regular ones just doesn't cut it) can actually be quite effective if you pair it with the Sniper Laser. I made a cruiser design carrying four of each, and a massed fleet of the design will shred opposition quite effectively, even through heavy shield support beams.

However, the only reason that plasma cannons are effective is because they're used as shield-cracking support for the sniper beams, which is where the real damage output comes from (it's incredible how quickly unshielded ships melt when they're hit by 30 laser beams at once). This type of fleet has a niche role, however... you'll find it to be great for breaking an enemy fleet that is heavy on missile scramblers, but if they don't have countermeasures, it's still more efficient to use missiles for the job of cracking shields.


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