Drone/Fighter/Bomber Balance


My concern with having normal fighters be "the cheap ones" is that it means they are almost always a poor choice. The only time you actually want to pick them is when you absolutely can't afford something better. This also means they will be sold off and upgraded to another fighter type as soon as possible, and have no late game use. Most players will probably just wait and buy bolter drones.

Having laser drones excel at shield damage makes sense, but it has a problem. Right now shield damage isn't useful. Enemy ships have very low shields at all difficulties, and enemy missiles and fighters only have hull. If you want shield weapons to be more important, you don't need to make them stronger yet. Instead I suggest making certain enemy races (celestial and schillae?) have significantly more shields. I think it would also be really cool if the missiles from the photon launcher required shield damage to shoot down. After shield damage has been made useful with a change like this, then it starts to be important to balance modules doing shield damage. Right now the only way laser drones can ever be more effective than bolter drones is if they do more hull damage, which would be silly. Increasing enemy shields will also make missiles a more attractive option again. Right now they aren't as great as other weapons because it is so easy to remove an enemy's shields.


One thought I heard before was to apply anti-Shield damage vs Missiles instead of Hull.

The idea would be that missiles are not armored but shielded instead. That actually logically could make more sense anyways since increasing mass with armor would greatly impact a rocket's manueverability especially in space where there is no airstream or friction. A small shield module could be lighter and more effective.

In game terms, this would greatly increase laser capability against missiles and rockets (and photon torpedoes maybe), and increase their usage.
Gatling guns would thusly be more relegated to dealing with Fighters and hull damage at close range.

Note: one good use for bolt fighters is that they are large and take up space. As such they tend to body-block enemy attacks better. :-)


You think bolter fighters are a better defensive choice than bolter drones?


I have not exactly exhaustively tested it, but that was one observation. Those fighters are HUGE and always seem to soak up the hits. The nimble bolters are much better offensively but the bumbling fighters do have a niche...sort of. :-)

I would like to see Laser Drones have their own separate knockoff: Laser Balls! No seriously... the drones would be a nimble offensive type ship, whereas the balls would be larger, slower, more heavily armored and float around the carrier like a pseudo-shield formation...unless ordered to attack of course.



Hmm, they may have a niche at body blocking damage. I'm not sure their strength should be getting shot though haha. It would be really cool to see some kind of almost stationary defense drone that wasn't for repair. That would actually be pretty awesome. Maybe they project shields around themselves and just help to soak up incoming fire? Lots of neat directions that could be taken.


My experience matches Joesl512, I prefer the fighters for defense *because* of their larger hit box. They don't just defend against missiles (any point defense can do that) they also defend you against plasma, projectiles, and energy bolts. Only beam weapons can push through a solid wall of Bolter Fighters.

Now, I won't say that's how it *should* be, but it is where we are now.


If people using fighters as a missile sponge is unintended and unwanted, the easy way to solve that is to have rebuilding extra ships beyond one cost a tiny amount of scrap. (To never leave a player totally defenseless.)

I like the idea of shield drones, though, being used intentionally as a missile sponge. I wouldn't want them to take much damage - fighters and drones seem to soak 100 HP now, and any shield drone should form up into wall dense enough to be difficult to penetrate, but I don't think they should absorb more than 10 or 20 HP. There are few weapons that shouldn't destroy them with one hit.

Beefing up fighters would help their usefulness, I think. Give bolter and plasma fighters 200 or 250 HP, then see how they shake out in a simulated battle or five. Missile fighters already seem decently balanced, I think, though I haven't tested them extensively.

I hate suggesting nerfs, but bolter fighters may need them. My first thought is build rate. Drone-heavy builds often get underwhelming fast when you hit a fleet with good fighter control. Once they've winnowed down your drones numbers, there is no coming back from that unless you can finish the battle conventionally, or run away to rebuild your drone fleet in your hangar. If those aren't possible, you have to jump out of the sector to rebuild yoru drone fleet.


Note: This perspective comes from trying a LOT of tactics, beating the game on easy and getting to the middle of level 3 on hard on an android.

Drones: When it comes to drones, it feels like laser drones are just a bit better than bolter drones as destroying missiles. However, it's offset by bolter drones being significantly better at everything else, so it doesn't really matter. Maybe try to accentuate that difference by making laser drones more maneuverable and therefore better at killing missiles/rockets.

Bombers: Plasma bombers feel really good right now. If used en masse (4 bays or more), they slaughter enemy capital ships and aren’t bad against fighters. Missile bombers are like plasma bombers with shorter range, fewer ships, and their shots can get shot down. Basically worthless. The other issue is that the carriers are really fragile, and can be nearly dead by the time the bombers start doing their work on higher hard levels.

Bolter fighters feel exceptionally worthless right now. Drones and bombers are better at everything. Fighters take a long time to line up for a shot and as a result, are extremely low damage in practice. Maybe they could have a single, slowish-firing, mid-range turret and extra HP. That way, drones are better at point defense, and fighters are better as offensive meat-shields for bombers, with some decent anti-fighter capability.


This is from the perspective of a player who mostly play carrier fleets

Drones vs Fighters seems to be a heavy subject here on the forums since it's obvious when going for a carrier strategy strength in numbers is important and to be honest usually the carrier fleet that can sustain a squadron for the longest wins I have actually only won the game with a carrier fleet which says something about how my experience is with this

Drones have a lower respawn time but seem to die faster too now I don't know the actually numbers but it seems like the drones have less health than the fighters and they tend to be vulnerable to a larger lack of speed

fighters have a longer respawn time but they seem to be better at maneuvering and dog fighting and their ability to get the burst upgrade allows them to be better at targeting missiles than drones

from the perspective of a person driven by the idea of role-play and caring for your characters in the game the choice between using fighters and drones comes down to the ethical question do you want to sacrifice human lives? I often find the fighters to be a more valuable purchase because of the cheaper cost and the better dig fighting capabilities but it feels awkward that I send pilots into their deaths

Missile vs Plasma bombers is also a often concidered subject that I find to be dominated by the missile bombers because of how floaty the plasma bombers are they often don't correct their course and go out of effective combat range but if they actually do keep in range they get too close and get obliterated by the point defenses from the alien ships


Last night I played an all carrier, all plasma bomber fleet and it demolished everything with ease. If I have any complaint it's that they were too good vs fighters. I'd expect them to clean house on capitol ships, but the burst damage made them a match for enemy bolter fighters too. They were too good. I will probably use bolter fighters for the first map, but once I've got some spare scrap and upgrade I'm convinced plasma bombers are my new go-to for everything.

With missile bombers I've found they synergize with a missile fleet very well. The bomber missiles aren't just there to do damage, they also soak up point defense fire increasing the odds that your own rockets and missiles will get through. It's a lot easier to land a nuke or two when there's 50 other missiles on screen. On a side note, missile fleets have the bonus advantage of missiles absorbing projectile fire that would have landed on your command ship.

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