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 Uses of mass fighters (stacks)

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PostSubject: Uses of mass fighters (stacks)   Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:27 am

Using a Fighter Stack


Abstract: This guide aims to provide an indepth view and analysis of the construction, maintenance and use of a fighter stack in AstroEmpires.

Introductory Q/As:
Q: What the fuck is a figher stack?
A: Building basically only fighters. I consider such a fleet one of the more intermediate types in terms of difficulty to use

Q: What the fuck is a fighter?
A: I think it should be fairly obvious. Fighters are hangar units with base stats of 2/2/0 and basically zero tech and shipyard requirements. They are the second easiest production unit to produce (second only to goods).
In a normal fleet fighters perform the double role of clearing small ships and serving as meat shields in nearly any attack. In a large fighter stack not only does one have enough fighters to clear a real shitload of meat, they can also clear some compositions of fleet entirely or almost entirely for very good ratios.

Q: Whats the point of a fighter stack?
A: Fighters are really awesome - from clearing meat when you're small-medium sized to clearing entire fleets (even HC and up) when you are large in size. If you are even remotely experienced in the game you would know fighters are essential in clearing other meatshields from a fleet in order to open the fleet up for finishing by a cruiser or frigate stack. Fighter stack do that really well, and can go even a step further and do the finishing as well.

Advantages of a fighter stack:
- It has alot of fighters
- No tech or shipyard requirement

Disadvantages of a fighter stack:
- very easy derbs against the right enemy fleet (HCs, BSs, Levis spring to mind)
- needs size to function
- mediocore recycler protection

How to construct a fighter stack quickly:
16 shipyards on all bases for fleet carriers and fighters, and get to work. Fighter fleets are even easier to build than cruiser fleets.

Maintaining a fighter Stack:
When you are full in hangars, build fleet carriers. When you are not full in hangars, build fighters. When you need the occasional recycler, build it. That's it really.

Other Components of a Fighters Stack:
Although fighters are the only main ship you will be building, some players may elect to build a few of the following in order to enable their fleet to be a little bit more versatile or a little bit more defensible:
- Corvettes/Destroyers for Recycler protection
- Frigates/Cruisers for finishing/pshield killing
- Heavy Cruisers/Battleships for big ship protection
- Heavy Bombers for clearing medium shielded units (especially HCs)

I recommend to only build 1 to 2 out of the above seven choices in pocket sized quantities that are barely enough for what you'll aim to accomplish with it.

Current Cruiser Stack mandate:

FT: 300k

FC: 750 OR CA 6k


Optional: Some HC/CR/BS/FR (pick only 1 to build if you choose to do so; only build upto 10% of total fleet)

(Don't forget your 3k min recyclers per 1m fleet and optional HBs if you want)
(Don't forget its a ratio, not a goal, so for every 300k fighters you build, you also build 750 FCs, etc.)

Ok, I've got a sizable stack now, what can I do with it?
Considering fighters have always been one of the most versatile units in the game, you can do alot of things with a fighter stack:
- Preform multiple drops of unshielded units
- Kill fleets with many cruisers/carriers [second only to capital rape, if it can be done](need a medium-large stack)
- Kill small-medium capital fleets for a very good ratio for the best ratio (need a medium-large stack)
- Kill bases, especially those with low PS count for the best ratio (need a medium-large stack)
- Kill very well defended, multiple ringed and shielded bases for the best ratio (need a very large stack)
- Kill small-medium sized HC/BS/FC stacks (need a very large stack)

As you can see, fighters can destroy nearly everything, usually at the best ratio. However, you need atleast a medium-large stack to make use of most of the functions and that is why the fleet mandate advocates building only fighters.

Ok, got that, so what can't I do with a fighter stack?
Basically, the only things you can't do are:
- Go past a jump gate with 10+CCs after you've dropped the unshielded (get shit ratio)
- Kill Large HC/BS/Capital stacks
- Also without a very large stack, you can't take out any well defended base nor can you kill most HC/BS/FC fleets for a good ratio.

Ok, that's fine. What will my stack get souped by?
- Large Levi stacks
- Large HC/BS stacks
The second is an especially large weakness. It can either be solved by building some HC to deter HC rapage or simply be vigilant of large HC stacks. They will easily get 1:7 or so on your fleet if you don't see them coming.
As for levis, they are usually too slow to pose a threat so they really are a secondary concern compared to HCs. HCs are a bane to fighter stacks.

Tools:
Always have a battle calc with you when using a fighter stack. Make it a habit to scout out your enemy's techs and fleet makeup before hand and fiddle with the battle calc to determine the best course of action. Nowadays battle calcs are usually about 99% accurate so get in the habit of abusing it to nazi your ratios as much as possible.

How to attack:
There is only two ways to attack with a fighter stack - dropping and swarming - but each method of attack has many subcategories that you will be familiar with by the end of this section.
a) Fighter dropping
Fighter dropping is a precise art involving dropping a precise number of fighters to achieve one of three things - i) kill all cyclers, ii) kill all unshielded except fighters, iii) kill all fighters
i) Kill all cyclers only -
To do i) requires guesstimation skills acquired with time. Use Kahar's calculator and fiddle with it until you get the right number. A good general estimate to start is that for every cycler there is, you need about 3 fighters if there are no corvettes/destroyers, and 5 fighters if there are enough corvettes/destroyers to spread damage from the recyclers.
i) is done for profit mongering an inactive jump gate, to deny enemy recycling capabilities, and to generally be a pain in the ass. It's not a manly way of destroying/making profit, but it works very well.

ii) Kill all unshielded except fighters
To do ii) requires guesstimation skills also. Use Kahar's calculator until you get the right number where the enemy fleet only has fighters and 2 shielded ships and up remaining. A good general estimate is 1 fig for every enemy recycler, 2 fig for every corvette, 4 fig for every destroyer, 6 fig for every frigate, and times the number by about 1.5x to start of as your initial number and work from there.
ii) is done for dropping a jump gate in order to set up for HBs, or for dropping a fleet to set up a FT/CR attempt. Generally do this when you want to play the assist man.

iii) Kill all unshielded
Copy paste pre-battle screen on Kahar's calculator, right click the attacker, click 'Fighter Drop', and drop the # it says to drop (assuming you uploaded your tech previously). An estimate would be
If you don't have Kahar's a good estimate is around 1 fig for every enemy recycler or fighter, 2 fig for every corvette, 4 fig for every destroyer, 6 fig for every frigate, and times the number by about 1.25x
Always use Kahar if you can help it though.

Its the easiest drop to preform and sets up for the cleaner types of finishes - ft/cv/de/cr or ft/fr or for clearing small amounts fighters on CCed bases that would otherwise give a negative ratio when fighter swarming.

b) Fighter Swarming
This is the type that gets everyone saying "hey look at Dizz, maybe I should've gotten a fig stack too!" But its actually pretty complicated to preform, and requires a few conditions in place in order to do optimally. I think most people read this guide for this part so I'll try to elaborate on what I can. Fighter swarming in general means slamming as many fighters as you can get into a fleet or a base. The more the merrier and the higher the profit / lower the loss until you arrive at the ideal situation where you can one shot.
i) Cruiser Fleets
Here's the guideline: If the enemy fleet has only 2 shielded units or below (or very few high shielded units), you can one shot 99% of the time as long as you have more in fighters than they have in fleet. The average cruiser stack off-base gives around 1:3. The average frigate stack actually only gives 1:2. If the fleet contains only cruisers and carriers you can expect 1:5 to 1:6 easily.
Archaic Example where a mostly cruiser composed fleet gave 1:5 : http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?13dd806f1e82bd0fa111d92a1afeb454
Some of you may remember from the age old E28 days Razz I have around 600k-1mil fighters at any time now.

It is also possible to fighter swarm cruiser fleets sitting on CCs. However, if the CC amount is anywhere above 10, you are probably better off dropping all unshielded and letting someone bomb the cruisers instead.
In any case, make sure you drop all the fighters first though, 7.5/5 fighters (10CCs) on 5/5 fighters is 1.5:1, and you don't want any of that. So drop it for the slight loss instead so you can swarm the cruisers (Exception: You don't need to drop anything if its under 3-4 CCs).
Here's an age old example where it actually worked because of low # of CCs: http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?33c192a4c5e4534a10a0f8176afd7d1d

ii) Capitals
You need 350k or so fighters to one shot a leviathan, and about 90k to one shot a titan. 120k and 40k respectively is enough to make it worth it compared to using ft+cv+de+bo+hc.
So calculate using the minimum values of 120k and 40k for the enemy capital fleet. If you have that, then go for the fighter swarm, if not, then someone else is probably better off taking it. Notice you need around 600k in fighters (1.35m Fighters+Carriers) to profitably take out one leviathan, that's why fighter swarms are limited to small-medium capital stacks generally.

In case you ever find a death star, its about 750k figs to one shot and 250k is about the minimum for the best possible ratio.

Similarly, it is also possible to own naked capital ships sitting on CCs. This time however, the profitable values do not change since the HC stack's ratio are adversely affected by the CCs in the same way.
Example part 1: http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?b8a8fe8d922482fd4dfedf226811c995
Example part 2: http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?285cf23026fb3ce911c2e4c15a0a48a7
Note the 1k fighters that I forgot to drop. This is because it was simply a neglible amount for me at the time so I didn't bother. You can see here that I've hit the optimal amount of fighters for a levi as well as a pring combined (which will be covered next), allowing me to soup the base at a very nice ratio.

iii) Bases
You will soon learn that pshields are your bane when fighter swarming a base. Use the following table.
Per Level Minimal One Shot Losses (before debris)
Ions <100 <300 <500
Photons 5k 16k 500
Disruptors 23k 65k 2000
Deflections 45k 130k 0
P-Shield 180k 520k 0
P-Ring 90k 260k 17k

If you have the minimal amount, you stand to lose less than the average ft+cv+de+cr mix. Losses are for optimal (one shot) amounts. Expect losses for minimal amounts to be about twice as much.

For common base defense fleet use the following table: (% = Profit)
Per Unit 0 CC 10 CC 20 CC
Fighters 1:1 (0) 1.5:1 (-17%) 2:1 (-25%)
Cruiser 1:4 (+150%) 1:3 (+100%) 1:2 (+50%)
Battleship 1:6 (+250%) 1:5 (+200%) 1:3 (+100%)
Dreadnought 1:8 (+350%) 1:6 (+250%) 1:4 (+150%)
Titan 1:11 (+500%) 1:7 (+300%) 1:5 (+200%)
Assumes one shot.

Example part 1: http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?1866196c5d13d900d7f614232c51a46e
Example part 2: http://ae.nullnetwork.net/reports/reportpaste.php?7c183cc9f054941affeb40a2029fa871
Shows how even using sub-optimal levels of fighters can bring unpresedentedly low levels of losses and high levels of profit when assaulting a base.

iv) High Shielded but none-capital Units
These are the trickest to fighter swarm, and usually requires the largest swarm to pull off. Even then you can only suceed in derbing the low-medium sized stacks as big stacks will devour fighters.
Notice the very high values for one shot compared to the fleet value of an individual HC or BS. There is also a comparatively high minimal level because Cruiser stacks get very passable ratios on HC and BS so fighters need to achieve very nearly a one shot kill to get a better ratio.
Note: Survive is for defense in order to determine if a fleet can sucessfully HC rape you. Just because you survive doesn't mean your ratio will be good.
HC: 2400 Fighters per HC to one shot, 1600 fighters minimum, 250 fighters to survive per HC
BS: 6500 fighters per BS to one shot, 4000 fighters minimum, 750 fighters to survive per BS

Due to the difficulty in finding naked BS/HC to shoot, I don't have examples at this point.

v) Mix of i/ii/iii/iv
Subtract the fleet value of the total fleet value of the enemy unshielded/2 shielded units from your fighter fleet size. Then add up the minimal values of everything else and see if you pass. Otherwise look for another way other than fighter swarming that fleet, because its probably too big or too dense with HC/BS.

How many fighters should I aim for:
The sky's the limit.


Fleet Carriers or Carriers comparison:


6.25 Carriers
1 Fleet Carrier

Cost:
2500
2500

Attack
75 base (missile)
64 base (ion)

Defense 150 base
96 base

Shields
2
8

Speed
4 base
3 base

Hangars
375
400

Tech Requirements
Minimal
Little

Shipyards Requirements
12 (minimal)
16 (moderate)

Best used when
Nothing bigger than cruisers
Nothing bigger than battleships



Carriers have the major weakness of getting hit for very bad ratios when getting dropped by enemy unshielded. Therefore, Fleet Carriers are the natural choice to best protect your hangar slots when you are dropping fighters.They both get HCed for around 1:7 so in the end, you sacriface speed for much needed protection in Fleet Carriers that I think should be mandatory.

Sum up:
Composition: alot of fighters + enough FC + enough RC
Ways of attack: Fighter dropping , Fighter swarming
Good against: Small fleets, unshielded, cruiser fleets
Bad against: large # of capitals / hc / bs fleets
Gets raped by: large # of capitals / hc / bs fleets
Can: Do mostly everything
Cannot: Rape HC/BS

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