1 - Introduction
2 - Specialization
3 - Technologies
4 - Units
5 - Unit Categories
- 5.1 Dropper Units
- 5.2 Meatshields
- 5.3 Finishing Units
- 5.4 Capital Units
- 5.5 Support Units
- 6.1 Dropper Fleets
- 6.2 Frigate Fleets
- 6.3 Cruiser Fleets
- 6.4 Heavy Cruiser Stack
- 6.5 Battleship Stack
- 6.6 Capital Fleets
8 - Conclusion
1 - Introduction
This guide comes from my personal experience that i got from being around for 2 years now. With the number of unit types it's fairly easy for a new player to get overwhelmed, and building all the wrong ships, at least I've come to notice that in the guilds I've been in. With this guide I intend to give the basic concepts of what to build and why, and some of the strategy behind each fleet composition.
I'm assuming that, reading this, you already have the proper understanding of what structures to build, and when, and a basic understanding of how combat works.
AE is a combat game, a lot of the profit and the point in playing is always centered around combat, and the first thing that a player as to understand is that when it comes to combat, AE is rock, paper, scissors. That means that for each unit there is a counter-unit. Another important point to understand is that AE is a team-centric game. Thus the need for specialization.
2 - Specialization
Specialization in this context is building only one type of fleet. Using the analogy i made earlier it is building either rock, paper or scissors. Doing this will make your fleet a lot more effective versus other fleets. And if you're worried about not being able to hit your counter-fleet, don't be, as i said it is a team-centric game.
Specializing on a fleet type will make your fleet deadly against it's opponent, it also will enable you to take out larger fleets (providing, of course, that your fleet type counters that of your enemy). However i can't quite put into words the importance of specialization. You'll have to trust me on this one, specializing in a certain type of fleet is the best thing you can do. Just look at the top fleets of the server, you'll always see that they are specialized in something.
This means that before starting to build fleet and research, you'll need to plan ahead and figure out which fleet type suits you more. Fleet types and techs needed will be covered in another chapter.
3 - Technologies
There are different types of offensive technology, different units require different technologies to boost their power. When specializing in a fleet type, it's always useful to boost the technology of the units it uses. The only technology that is useful with every unit is, without a doubt, armor. Plus, with a high armor you'll create more debris in your attacks, thus increasing your profit. So keeping armor up is always a good idea.
4 - Units
Units, in AE, have a simple rule, the cheaper the unit, the higher is the power/cost ratio. That means, for example, that 4 fighters (20 credits) are better than 1 corvette (20 credits) at equal techs, of course. However, some of the more expensive units have shields, that means they can absorb part of the power of the attacking unit, however, 1% of that power always leaks. That means if you have a heavy cruiser with 5 shields and 100 armor you'll need 4 power, you'll need 2500 fighters to effectively kill the HC, even though it has higher shield than the fighter power.
Shields are the sole reason to build heavier units. Now, i'd divide the units into 5 categories, dropper units, meat shields, finishing units and capital units and support, each have different functionalities and work on different ways. Some have very limited uses while others have a broad range of uses. I'll try to explain it in further detail in the next chapter.
5 - Unit Categories
5.1 - Dropper units:
This are units that are intended to be dropped. Dropping a fleet is sort of a slang with a broad meaning, but to sum it up, it refers to when you attack a fleet with only one type of unit. Generally it refers to hangar units, which are the most commonly dropped units. All of this units need a ship with hangar space to carry them around, being this their biggest disadvantage.
Please be aware that before dropping any unit except fighters or bombers you'll need to destroy your enemies fighters first, or else you'll end up with a bad surprise.
Fighters - The most used and commonly referred to as the best unit. When people say that, what they mean is that fighters have the highest power/cost ratio, however they have several disadvantages and it's fairly easy and profitable to destroy a fleet made of fighters, however, such fleet has huge power capabilities, and if used correctly, can have the best ratios. Requires 1 hangar. Depends on laser.
Bombers - This unit is somewhat useful, mainly because it is the only unit that can be dropped without taking out the enemy fighters first. Usually it is dropped alongside with fighters, and it does a rather good job when taking out enemy cruisers. Requires 1 hangar. Depends on missile.
Heavy Bombers – This unit has great ratios against cruisers and heavy cruisers, it makes it really useful in cruiser fleets (since they have the same tech dependencies) and it's a must have when attacking fleets under command centers. Requires 2 hangar. Depends on plasma.
Ion Bombers – Though in theory this unit is good against cruisers, heavy cruisers and above, heavy bombers do a better job against cruisers and heavy cruisers, so the only real use for this unit is killing capital ships. This is a huge limitation, since there are other units that perform this job as good as this one along with lots of others, and don't require hangar. Requires 2 hangar. Depends on ion.
This roughly covers the dropper units. I can't, obviously, explain in detail all the uses and situations for each unit (would take way more than this page) but you get the picture. It isn't that hard to understand how to use here.
5.2 - Meat shields
Meat shields are mainly intended to increase the ratio in a fight. Though they have other uses as well. This are mainly used by cruiser fleets, however they can be used in other situations. They are also pretty popular in the guerrilla tactic.
Corvettes – They are a really fast ship, they are great at sniping recyclers and hitting cruisers. They are good meat shields on cruiser fleets and can also perform that task in frigate fleets, though I don't personally advise doing so. Depends on laser.
Destroyers – This unit as awesome ratios against cruisers, it is also the most popular meat shield in a cruiser fleet. Depends on plasma.
5.3 - Finishing units
These are units designed to totally destroy the most armored units and defenses of your opponent. They have to be used with care, and most of them need meat shields like fighters, corvettes, destroyers, or other finishing units to be used. All of these units have hangar spaces that can be used to transport dropper units.
Frigates – Being the finishing unit with the highest power/cost ratio, and the highest hangar/cost ratio, the advantages of this unit are obvious. However since it has no shield it also brings some disadvantages. Has 4 hangar. Depends on missiles.
Ion Frigates – Like it's younger brother the ion bomber, ion frigates have limited uses that can be performed by other units with a wider range of functionality. Has 4 hangar.
Cruisers – By far the most popular finishing unit, it's shields and high power makes this unit useful in a lot of different situations and can attack other fleets without destroying all of their fighters first. Thus, they are commonly known as a jack of all trades however, master of none. Has 4 hangar. Depends on plasma.
Heavy cruiser – This is an extremely useful unit, not for it's finishing powers in particular but because it's shields are bigger than the fighters attack power. That means it can “shield rape” fighter fleets with relative ease. It's also popular against some capital units like titans and leviathans (though they are not the best). Has 8 hangar. Depends on plasma.
Battleship – This is the heavier finishing fleet it can shield rape destroyers and below, making it a good unit against dropper fleets, it's also commonly used to take out capital ships. They don't have as many uses as cruisers, but it's still a good unit, when correctly used. Has 40 hangar. Depends on ion.
5.4 - Capital units
These are the units with the least uses, however, and I understand that, they are also the units more attractive to a newer player. With the right use and a bit of luck, they can destroy millions in fleet without losses, however those moments aren't as common as one would expect, and their usefulness is limited to jump gate crashes and in the case of leviathans disruptor defended bases.
Dreadnought – It's very popular due to it's defensive capabilities. However it has limited uses when it comes to offense. Has 200 hangar. Depends on photon.
Titan – This unit loses almost all of it's uses in end-game. If you can get it early in the game, however, it's pretty good. There are people who use them for defense, but dreadnought will always perform a better job at it. Has 1000 hangar. Depends on disruptor.
Leviathan – This is the most used, and the most useful of the capital ships. Can shield rape everything up to heavy cruisers, and in jump gate crashes it's fairly deadly. It can also be used to rape disruptor defended bases. Has 4k hangar. Depends on Photon.
Death Star – Unfortunately it's the most useless of the capital ships, mainly because it cannot use jump gates. I say unfortunately because of all the units, this has the most epic name. Has 10k hangar. Depends on disruptor.
5.5 - Support units
These are essential units, but they don't play any direct role in a battle. Carriers and fleet carrier, are essential units, which one you should build depends on your strategy. They are the ships with the higher hangar/cost ratio, and they are needed in every fleet type, except perhaps capital fleets.
Recycler – They recycle, if you don't have this, your fleet is useless.
Scout ship – It's cheap and it's the fastest ship in the game. Useful to scout.
Outpost ship – They build colonies.
Carrier – It's the fastest carrier, but has the lowest hangar/cost ratio out of the two carrier types. Has 60 hangar.
Fleet carrier – It's slower than the carrier, but has a higher hangar/cost ratio. Also their shields give them limited uses against small units. Has 400 hangar.
And this finishes the chapter on units. Now for which of them to build.
6 - Fleet types
As stated earlier having a fleet type and building only that type of fleet is essential for being good at this game. Fleet types are played differently, some are casual friendly, some are not, others are newbie friendly, others are not. I will try to explain that in detail here. The only unit that you'll have to build in every type are recyclers, up to 30% of your mobile.
There are 6 different fleet types, and lots of combinations within those types. And those are dropper fleets, frigate fleets, cruiser fleets, heavy cruiser stacks, battleships stacks and capital fleets.
6.1 - Dropper fleets
This is the most useful fleet type, and it's also the most team-centric type, since unless you have a really big fleet, you'll have difficulty finding targets for yourself. However, and as I've previously stated, ae is a team centric game. Since fighters can be dropped separately, this type of fleet is ideal for new players in an old server, or players with small fleets, because 20 or 30k fighters are a LOT more useful than 1000 frigates in a jump gate crash, or any other guild activity.
The goal of this fleet is to overwhelm the target with fighters in some cases, other is to drop the right amount of fighters to kill the target's fighters, thus opening space for finisher fleets to end it. Though tricky, it's fairly easy to understand the concept behind this fleet type.
You'll want to build fighters as a primary attack force and fleet carriers as your primary carriers. If you feel confident enough you can also add in some heavy bombers for those fleets under lots of command centers.
As an addition to what you already have, some players also build heavy cruisers. This are extremely useful in some situations, and will prevent you from getting killed by battleship stacks, titans and levis. However do limit the amount of heavy cruisers you build, out of personal experience I'd build 1k heavy cruisers for each 500k fighters.
So, to sum it up a dropper fleet will look like this:
FT/RC/FC or FT/HB/RC/FC with or without HCs.
The techs you'll have to research are armor, laser, plasma and shielding if you have those HCs.
6.2 - Frigate fleets
This have many variations, all have their pros and cons. This fleet is really vulnerable, so it's directed at more experienced players, and it's not casual friendly, because since it can easily be slaughtered everyone will be after it.
As the name said it's finisher unit are frigates, and that gives this fleet plenty of advantages. In relation to other fleets, this one has the highest attack power/cost ratio, this is because frigates have the highest hangar/cost ratio. So frigate fleets are all about increasing your effectiveness.
This type of fleet is clearly targeted at hitting other fleets. Depending on the layout it can pretty much counter every other fleet type except dropper. There are several different variants to this type, all revolving around frigates.
Fighter, frigate, carrier/fleet carrier – The combination of this 3 units is deadly. Personally I don't find the need for adding other units other than this ones, but they are valid tactics. You can either use carriers or fleet carriers depending if you want to jeopardize hangar/cost ratio in favor of speed. With carriers this is the fastest fleet type, but personally I don't find the speed that important. And besides, fleet carriers will make your fleet more impervious to fighter drops.
I commonly use this ratio - 600 fighters to 50 frigates to 1 fleet carrier.
And if you're asking, yeah, bigger fighter fleet than frigate fleet. Fighters are awesome!
Fighter, frigate, Heavy cruiser, fleet carrier or Fighter, frigate, fleet carrier, battleship – Frigates can be meatshields to heavy cruisers and battleships. That means you can effectively attack with frigates and heavy cruisers at the same time. Also, having heavy cruisers or battleships on your fleet gives you some protection against capital ships. It's a valid tactic, since heavy cruisers are rather useful when soloing (most of my base hits were hc drops) and battleships also have their uses. Using this type there is no point in building carriers, since you'll be limited by the battleships or HC speed, you might just build fleet carriers.
Fighters/bombers/frigates/carrier-fleet carrier – Also works. Since bombers have the same missile need as frigates, a good frigate player will probably keep the bomber power at a level close to the double of his fighters power. And since bombers can be dropped along with fighters, it will increase you ratio killing cruisers. I find this a good idea and all, but I personally rather have the extra fighters instead of the bombers.
300 fighters to 300 bombers to 50 frigates to 1 fleet carrier is the most common build.
Depends on: Missile and plasma or ion, should you chose to build either battleships or heavy cruisers.
6.3 - Cruiser fleets
Cruisers are by far the most popular finishing unit, and there is a reason for that. They are the ownage. Their high power (capable of shredding the shielded units and defenses most commonly used), shielding (that makes them really tough against fighter attacks) makes this unit (in combination with fighter, corvettes and/or destroyers) really destructive. That being said, this fleet type is perfect for both casual players, who like to farm bases every once in a while, and pro's that can't stop playing.
Fighters/cruisers/carriers or fleet carriers – This is pretty much the standard fleet. Unlike frigates, where you need to effectively remove all of the enemies fighters before attacking, with cruisers you don't need to be as thorough, which makes this a both easy and versatile fleet type.
Fighters/corvettes and/or destroyers/cruisers/carriers or fleet carriers – Lot's of unit types here, but it works. Unlike the other fleet combination when using this type you will have to effectively remove all enemy fighters. However I see only but advantages with building them:
1 – You can always leave your corvettes and/or destroyers back at home and go with only your cruisers and fighters.
2 – When the need to destroy another cruiser fleet comes, you'll need your destroyers and corvettes.
Unfortunately, I never used cruiser fleets (had some when I started, but I decided to go with frigs) so I cannot give away any specific ratio. Also, some people like to build some sort of anti-capital unit type, like heavy cruisers or battleships. And though, as everyone knows, battleships are fairly better than heavy cruisers at killing capital ships, heavy cruisers have the same weapon type (plasma) so it would save your tech needs.
Depends on: Shielding, plasma or ion
6.4 - Heavy cruiser stacks
This are great in the beginning of the game, are also great for farming bases (with fighters and disruptor as defenses). When hitting fleets however there aren't many you can hit, only dropper type fleets and capital fleets. Most people end up building cruisers to broad their target range. But If you need to read this guide, you probably don't want to build this.
6.5 - Battleship stacks
This are the best fleet type against capital fleets. They are also good against dropper fleets. However if you don't build any other ships this are pretty much everything you can hit. With the exception of poorly defended bases and perhaps fighter and disruptor defended bases. Again, build this only if know what you are doing.
6.6 - Capital fleets
Last, but not least, capital fleets. This is the “omg look at that ratios, I want that” fleet, however you only get really good hits once a month at best, because this are really slow ships, and you can't really attack well defended bases (too much losses), so not only are few targets, they also have a long time to run away. Also to build this fleet you really need to know what you're doing when it comes to bases. So if you need to read this to know which fleet types there are and what to build, this is not the fleet for you.
7 - The rock - paper - scissors game
This being said, all that's left to explain is what kills what.
Dropper fleet: kills frigates and cruiser fleets.
Frigate fleets: Kills other frigate fleets of smaller size, cruiser, heavy cruiser and battleship fleets.
Cruiser fleets: Other cruiser fleets of smaller size, heavy cruiser, and battleship fleets.
Heavy cruiser fleets: Dropper fleets, battleship fleets and capital fleets.
Battleship fleets: Dropper fleets and capital fleets.
8 - Conclusion
Please understand that this aren't fixed rules, players use other fleet types successfully in lots of situations, this is merely to be considered guidelines for newer players on how to build and use their internetspaceships. SAY NO TO RAINBOW FLEETS.
Please feel free to constructive criticism, or just the usual brainless flaming/hating of this forums.