This post is here to offer some knowledge about fighting, developing a fighter career, tactics and basic guidelines as to how do you become a strong fighter pilot, and what can you do when you get there.
A lot of what i'll say here you would probably run across - put down in different words - in other manuals, or may be even the message boards, but i wanted this to be here close to home. Besides there are things you are not told in manuals.
First thing to know is: Being a fighter pilot does not mean piloting a ship loaded with guns.
The most important quality that a fighter pilot is measured by are his/her skills. A well skilled pilot flying an interceptor may very well rip appart an oponent flying a hawk with no skills.
Many pilots devote themselves to trading for a long time than kill a lot of dragons and inexperienced pirates and buy a hawk, and only than begin the real training.. an interceptor pilot that was flying around training skills can no doupt blast such a hawk out of the sky with the appropriate equipment.
This is also why it is important to select a ship fitting your skills and purposes. An advanced fighter in an inexperienced pilot's hands will only produce huge repair bills and not bring same results as a less advanced Model.
Many pilots strive to collect a lot of ribbons, and sometimes judge other pilots' skills based on the ribbons they have.. I have only this to say: When you get ripped appart by an oponent in a small cheap ship that can't possibly match your awesome ship and huge lasers, the ribbons will offer no consolation. 50 young dragon kills and 1000 young dragon kills are the same thing skillwise.. even with X-squads, the skill limits are attained long before the first ribbon is earned... Ribbons are a state of dedication, not a state of strength.
So the big question is: How do i know what ship to take, what guns to load and what beasts to kill? And what is it all good for?
To answer that, this guide will detail on skills, ships and battle tactics.
Skills - What are they. How best to gain them. What to use for that.
Ships - Every ship has advantages and weaknesses, as well as possible different usses.
Warfare & Tactics - How would eventualy things can be put into use.
In short about the fighter related skills and the meaning:
Tactics(TAC) - an allaround skill, it affects allmost everything but to a very small degree, the main factor for raising this skill is being shot at by worthy oponents.
Hit Accuracy(HA) - Well, kind of obvious what it does isn't it? Affects the chance to hit your target with laser fire, and respectivly increases when you attempt to hit such target.
Maneuvering(MAN) - This skill is the most significant one in the aspect of avoiding enemy laser fire, as well as some other benefits, and to a verry verry small degree to avoid missiles.
Weaponry(WEAP) - This skill will affect to a very slight degree the damage done by your weapons, you will notice that different foes (with same armor type) sometimes take a different amount of dmage from same lasers.. this would be the works of this skill.
Engineering(ENG) - Well this would be the counter skill to the weaponry skill, i don't know if it affects anything else.. i never saw any affect from it on the damage repaired by robots.. that is mostly the type of armor.
The skill that a fighter pilot is measured by is his/her HA Skill, the reason for that is simple: It's commonly the highest skill a fighter has. The reason for that is that HA raises every time you shoot at a worthy oponent, and with the existing design of weapons you often shoot much more than you are being shot at.
Skilling is a fun, but demanding process. The more advanced you are, the harder the foes you need to face to advance further. The process consumes a lot of credits for repairs, and initial equipment cost, and it is adviseable to combine staged skill training with trading in a large trade ship to secure your financial state for each stage.
I break the skills into five different levels (by HA), my breakdown is a bit different from the traditional 3 stage breakdown, but the reason for that is simple: more detailing.
1) 30 and less.
Well we all start somewhere. At first even the maggots may seem as a tough oponent, but eventualy with a rustfire or an interceptor, killing young space dragons and bio scavangers one might raise easily to a skill level that will make the small fights easier 20TAC 25HA 20MAN.
Any ship can be used to get to these skill levels, as they do not require fighting overly strong foes, and the fights are swift and not demanding.
A Rustfire with a couple of 1MW particle lasers or 5MW impulse lasers could master this easily.
After that is done, the next best step is the Space Worms, and Inexperienced Pirates
A couple of 1MW lasers can kill a worm, but this would probably require more than a single battle, and if you're flying a larger ship (rustfire size 60) you'd be taking quite some damage.
With a couple of 4MW lasers the worms become much easier prey, and would go down in less than 20 rounds most of the time.
Pirates would give about same gain as the worms but they are a bit more dangerous due to their missiles, especialy the experienced ones. With less than 30HA it's probably a good idea not to mess with the experienced pirates unless you are in a fighter class ship.
* This sort of skilling can usualy be well combined with ranking, you can find out more about that in the ranking manual.
Let the X-993 squad hunt begin!
They are the best foe to face in order to get through this stage of training. These guys pack 4 5MW impulse lasers, so you get shot at four times per round! Just remember to bring a big shield to minimize your repare costs, standart or larger.
There are different suggestions for setup to fight them:
The cheap setup - Zortium or Equal level Exotic armor. Three 4MW particle lasers. Ion drive. Standart Shield. This is more than enough to face them, will be harder at first, but will ease up a lot at ~35HA. This setup is good if you want to get through this stage of training and switch to a trade ship to save up for the next. A marauder with this setup would cost ~1.3 Million credits, which is a low price for a fighter ship.
Long term setup - Level 3/4 Exotic armor. Mixture of 4MW lasers and exotic weapons of same level. Standart shield. Ion drive. This setup is way stronger and more expensive than it takes to get through this stage of training, but it will allow you to progress to the next one without upgrading.
A Marauder or Mercury with this setup would cost 3-4 Million credits.. Depending on the exotic equipment type.
Power skilling setup - Level 3 exotic armor. Set of 1MW particle lasers. Standart or Medium Shielld. Ion drive. This setup has one purpose: Get as much skillgain from a single foe as possible. Due to the low damage dealt by your weapons the fight will last longer and will include more exchange of fire. That means the skills gained from killing a single foe would be much greater. The exotic armor and larger shield would significantly decrease the repair costs.
X-993 battlecruisers are also a nice foe to face (with about 35HA) just watch out for the missiles, since ECM is not part of the suggested setup for the squads who lack missiles. The battlecruisers have a bit higher skill limits so when the squads skill gains drop, they can offer some more boosts. Towards the 40-ish skills the squads can be easily taken out in a single 20 round battle with 4MW lasers.
Here comes the part where you fly around chasing your dreams The foes you would face for this srage of training are not ones who stay in fixed locations, they appear randomly in different sectors across the clusters they dwell in.
These foes belong to two different life form categories: EM energy-bees and sparklers. Organic Medusa swarmlings and Medusas (watch out for the missiles on the big Medusas!!!).
It's best to concentrate on a single category and get geared up approprietly.
In the OPC sectors in UNRC (Union North Rashkir Core) the energy creatures are more common. The Medusas are mostly found in the southern parts of the galaxy.
The energy beasts are a bit easier to fight than the Organic ones, but also have lower skill limits.
A Marauder or Mercury would be able to face these with appropriate armor (exotic level 3 or higher) ORG vs the organic beasts, EM vs the EM beasts. Although the better suited ship for this purpose would be a Hawk.
No need to mention that you'll want the strongest shield you can get for this purpose to lower your repair costs as much as possible.
While this beasts can still be faced with 4MW lasers, it would be the same affect as using 1MW lasers on the x-993 squads. More suitable guns may be in order: 120MT cannons against the medusas, or BioSpore arrays/EndoPlasms against the bees and sparklers. I'd suggest putting two exotic weapons combined with three (or 1 if you're not in a hawk) conventional weapon, preferably a 4MW or 20MW laser. 4MW would be better for skill gains and repair costs.
A ship cost like that could jump well over 4 millions - 1.5 millions fpr a level 4 exotic armor. ~400k for an endoplasm cannon. ~950k for 120MT or Bio spore array. along with the pirce of the hawk itself: 1.7M.
Due to the dangerous retreat blocks these foes are known for, carrying robots on board is adviseable for in-battle armor repairs.
Usualy to get to this stage pilots save up money flying a trade ship for a while.
The sweet ASP aera. ASP - Advanced skill points. Think they are meaningless? Think again, they can strengthen your ship damage capacity by over 50%, which with the Union defensive technology is a VERY significant factor. Not to mention the Defensive/Offensive combat modes and other benefits.
At this, the longest stage of training, the best fight you will find are the the Z-15 ships found in the neutral zones. The repair costs are high and an ECM becomes a "must have".
Small fighter ships are what it takes, since a big ship's repair bills would simply drain your credits before you blink. The best ship option for the union pilots is still a Hawk (the ultimate training vessel) - more lasers means higher HA gain, means more avaiability to trade them in for the ASP.
The Chiltin is rather large for this purpose, chiltins would stand little chance to avoid the Z-15 missiles.
Any sort of Exotic armor would come in handy to halve the damage taken since these foes use conventional weapons. Robots are a big big "must have" in these battles since they can easily hold you 3 times for 8-12 rounds, which is a lot of potential damage.
The 60-ies are about the average fighter skills, since it's the tradeout point of skills<->ASPs and are relativly easy to get to for a dedicated fighter.
5) 80 and more.
Well here the Z-ies fighters and pads are still a nice gain for a while.
Z-16 ships have a bit higher skill limit, but you should start looking towards the pardus cluster, with it's unique foes. The skill gains become much much smaller and harder to get.
Lucidy squads are a nice target to go for, but this really requires a high skill and carefull approach due to their insanely strong weapons.
True to the date this manual is written - At this stage you can consider your training over, you are now one of the elite. Even though there are pilots with 100+ skills in paralile universes, from this point on you wouldn't be an easy target for anyone ever again, rule out the guys piloting cubes
Skills in pardus however are capped by the pilot's experience... A pilot who just works on skilling without gaining any experiense will lose skills if they are too high for his experiense.
A formula for HA for example is: HA Skill=42+0.000131*EXP.
This for example would mean that with 100k experience you would be capped to about 55HA skill.
Keep that in mind when skilling - Sometimes you need to take a break to kill dragons/pirates or other beasts that give exp and die fast in order to not go over your head with skills.
Last edited by Orak on Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:51 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : fixing)