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Author Topic: Galactic Starfighter: Intermediate Pilot's Guide to Components  (Read 805 times)

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Offline Iaera

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Introduction

This guide assumes that you have some basic familiarity with how to fly in GSF without hitting an asteroid! This is aimed at those who have played somewhere around 10-20 matches, or are scoring around 10,000 damage in an average match. For a crash-course in GSF basics, check out my guide here, or for a more thorough and in-depth series of tutorials, Derrad's excellent guide here.

By now, you should have some Requisition to play with and may have bought a new ship or two. Great! So the question is... how do you equip those ships? What do you do with that Requisition?

Upgrades for your existing components are important, but you may also be considering different component options, such as a different set of lasers, a different engine module, or a different system ability. This is an important part of GSF - two NovaDives can be configured completely differently from one another, and used in very different roles to suit different playstyles. You are encouraged to experiment, but it can be tough to spend hard-earned Requsition on components you're not sure about. This guide aims to provide a non-exhaustive list of many common components for Scouts and Strike Fighters, how to use them, and a few caveats to understand before purchasing them.



Primary Weapons

Your choice of lasers can have a big impact on your performance. They handle very differently from one another, especially at low levels, and have different strengths and weaknesses that are important to understand. Derrad's guide (linked above) goes into more detail on these mechanics, while this guide focuses on simple at-a-glance utility. Most lasers are easy to understand (with two exceptions), following a fairly linear progression from short-range/high-tracking, to long-range/low-tracking.

Rapid-fire Lasers - The default option on several ships, these are unfortunately very niche, situational weapons that do not handle well without considerable skill. They are the shortest-range laser in the game, but also have the best tracking - meaning they are ideal for high-speed, point-blank deflection shooting. Their only real use is in tight, frenetic, turning dogfights, where they have the best chance of hitting your opponent as you both attempt to jockey for position around one another. Outside of this situation, their damage output and range is abysmal, and I do not recommend them for all-purpose use as a primary weapon.

Light Lasers - A step up from Rapid-fire Lasers, these lasers are a little more viable for general combat. They are still short range weapons, but their damage output is significantly better than Rapid-fires in 99% of circumstances. This makes them an ideal choice if you want a close-range dogfighting laser, because they have most of the advantages of Rapid-fires while still being viable weapons outside of tight turning duels.

(Standard) Laser Cannons - I often refer to these as Standard Lasers, as they represent the middle ground of the laser options - they have no particular strength or weakness, and are all-around decent lasers in any situation. They have good range, good rate of fire, good damage, good tracking, and good power efficiency. I highly recommend these lasers if you are struggling with the lighter laser types. Other than their lack of specialisation and lower damage output than Quad Lasers, there's very little to complain about here.

Quad Lasers - The Laser Cannon's bigger brother, the Quad Laser handles almost identically. The chief difference is its significantly higher power drain in exchange for higher damage output - if you use Quads, you will frequently find yourself depleting your weapon power pool in short order, and this can result in unfortunate scenarios where you can't quite finish off an opponent. However, these are still very good all-purpose lasers.

Heavy Lasers - At the top end of the laser spectrum, these lasers have the highest damage and range, but the slowest rate of fire. They are also virtually useless in close-range turning fights, thanks to their abysmal tracking and firing arc. With that said, these are solid lasers in most situations, and have some unique upgrade possibilities that make these very punchy and very nasty lasers to sling around if you prefer long-range damage output.

Ion Cannons - One of two odd ducks, the Ion Cannon is a niche, situational weapon. It does massive damage to shields but is useless against the underlying hull, so obviously this weapon requires a bit of finesse! It is thus mostly relegated to specific, specialist ship builds, and is poorly suited for general-purpose use.

Burst Laser Cannon - The other odd duck, the Burst Laser is essentially the shotgun of the laser options. It does very high damage at close range, but is not very useful outside of that. This makes it something of a gimmick weapon, as it will kill most targets in only 2 or 3 shots, but don't expect your opponents to respect you much for doing it... (cf., any first-person shooter which includes shotguns)



Secondary Weapons

Secondary weapons vary wildly even between Scouts and Strike Fighters, but most of the Scout/Strike options are some form of lock-on missile. These are crucial to success in GSF, comparable to the missiles and bombs on a modern-day fighter aircraft - while you can absolutely kill things with your guns, it's much easier to do it with the help of your missiles! Similar to lasers, you can think of several of the missiles as belonging to a "spectrum," from light, short-range weapons to heavy, long-range weapons. There are thus three basic categories to understand:

  • Cluster Missiles - the lightest, with the fastest lock time and wide arc
  • (Standard) Missiles - the middleground, with a moderate lock time and medium-sized arc
  • Torpedoes - the heaviest, with a slow lock time and tiny arc

Cluster Missiles - These are the only type of missile from the first (eponymous) category. Although relatively short range, their range is still comparable to that of lasers. With their extremely fast lock time and wide locking arc, these are the premier dogfighting option. They do low damage per hit, but the cooldown is so short that you can begin locking your target again almost immediately after firing the previous volley. This makes them the only missile that can reliably hit Scouts, who can otherwise easily evade missile locks.

Concussion Missiles - The 'standard,' direct-damage option in the Missile category. It does what it says on the tin - locks onto target and blows it up. It's a good all-purpose, versatile weapon effective against all targets - it can even hit Scouts now and then. Its range surpasses lasers, making it good for longer-range combat before closing into laser range, while still being lockable enough to use in a dogfight. A good choice if you prefer being a jack-of-all-trades rather than a specialist.

EMP Missiles - In the Missile category, this weapon sacrifices damage in exchange for utility. This is a situational weapon, and its primary use is for disrupting those annoying bomber-nests - one hit from the EMP missile will nuke all mines in the area and damage and disable drones. That's about the extent of its usefulness - don't rely on this as a primary weapon. Use it to support your team in a specialist-built ship.

Ion Missiles - Also in the Missile category, this weapon is similar to the Ion Cannon but with some added utility. Like the Ion Cannon, it is really only effective against shields and does very little damage to the hull. However, it also drains some energy from the target, which can be further enhanced with upgrades, making this a niche albeit intriguing option for specific builds.

Sabotage Probe - In the Missile category, this is a rather strange utility/support option. It doesn't do much damage, but it is supremely annoying for anyone hit by it, since it locks out control for several seconds and renders them a sitting duck. While I'm not a fan, I know several pilots who swear by it, so it may be worth considering if you like alternatives to direct damage.

Proton Torpedoes - The 'standard,' direct-damage option in the Torpedo category. Like Concussion Missiles, their use is pretty straightforward - lock target, watch target explode. As a Torpedo, however, it is utterly unsuited to dogfighting situations, and is useful only in a stand-off interception role. It will not reliably hit Scouts or even Strike Fighters, and is best used against Bombers or Gunships who you know have just expended their Barrel Roll. With that said, it does extremely high damage, and can even 1-shot some ships if you manage to score a hit.

Thermite Torpedoes - In the Torpedo category, this is essentially a Proton Torpedo with less direct damage, but with a large DoT and debuff in its place. Its primary use is bomber-killing, since the debuff will make the Bomber in question very susceptible to follow-up damage from your lasers or other missiles, in addition to the long-duration DoT. As with other Torpedoes, it has some limited use against Gunships and Strike Fighters if you can hold the lock and their evasive manoeuvre is on cooldown.

Rocket Pods - Finally, in their own little category we have the humble Rocket Pods. Unlike all other missile options, these are unguided, dumb-fired direct-fire weapons. They behave exactly like lasers albeit with less firing arc and tracking, making them well-suited to combo with your lasers for direct, targeted DPS. They don't do well in turning fights (they are useless outside of the direct centre of the screen), but against slow-moving or stationary targets (such as oblivious Gunships!) you can keep centred, these are excellent weapons. They're also the ideal weapon for satellite assaults - the added DPS allows you to swiftly knock out defense turrets before they can hurt you much.



Engine Abilities

There are some non-standard engine abilities with unusual features, but for now I'm focusing on the primary use of the engine component - evasive manoeuvres. These abilities all have the same mechanical effect of breaking active missile locks on you, but they behave slightly differently in practice, which has some important ramifications.

Barrel Roll - The default on many ships, Barrel Roll propels you directly forward at high speed. You will actually travel considerable distance using this! It slaughters newbies, who frequently use it to collide into asteroids, so be careful where you're pointing with this one. At 30 seconds, it also has the highest cooldown, making it the least suitable for sustained combat. Because of its long-distance boosting, it has some secondary utility for crossing large sections of the map rapidly.

Koiogran Turn - Arguably one of the easiest to handle, Koiogran simply Immelmanns you around 180 degrees, facing the way you came. It has a moderate 20 second cooldown like most of the other options, only a limited risk of slamming into an obstacle, and the added utility of being a fast way to change direction and escape a bad situation.

Snap Turn - Similar to Koiogran, but it turns you laterally rather than performing a tight vertical loop, meaning a slightly higher risk of dying from asteroid poisoning, depending on your positioning. 20 second cooldown.

Power Dive - This propels you downward in a 90-degree turn. Riskier than Koiogran or Snap Turn, Power Dive requires a little more finesse to avoid crashing. However, because it accelerates you similarly to Barrel Roll, with some careful positioning you can use it to propel yourself forward at considerable speed. Power Dive is particularly notable for having only a 15 second cooldown, making it an extremely attractive option if you find yourself getting hounded by missile locks.

Retro Thrusters - I see this one a lot, and to be honest I'm not a fan - It's the evasive manoeuvre that most reliably nets me a kill after my target uses it. It propels you backward, and then you zoom forward again - placing you pretty much exactly where you were when you started. Perhaps it fools rookies, but an experienced pilot need only exercise patience before dusting the soon-to-reappear target. 20 second cooldown.



Other Components

GSF is dense with content and strategy, and this list doesn't even begin to cover all the different component options available, instead focusing on some of the common, primary options for Scouts and Strike Fighters. Of course, most ships also have semi-unique system abilities or oddball alternative options, but theorycrafting such things is beyond the scope of this simple guide!

Above all, you are encouraged to experiment - I have my opinions on many of the components listed above, but many people swear by things I hate, or can't stand the components I love, so YMMV! Ultimately, every GSF pilot has to figure out for himself or herself which components suit their playstyle. Hopefully, this guide gives you a few clues about where to start!
« Last Edit: 11/09/17, 09:17:19 PM by Iaera »
retired ~ ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Offline Wymarc

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As a member of the cult of the sabotage probe, I've a few comments on it:

1) While it doesn't do much direct damage, it does have 100% shield piercing. I like using it to finish off baddies after breaking away from a turning fight.

2) Upgrade! The base probe isn't great. Baddies can still boost, evade, and aren't probed for long. Upgrades will shut them down. Against scouts in particular the engine drain can be almost as good as the steering lock.

3) One of the problems with the probe is a high lock-on time. Don't try to use it in turning fights, save it for chase and interceptions. But what is always fun is scaring people with that lock-on tone. All but the most experienced pilots will start to panic if they see the little red triangle.

4) Kill Count: Don't use the probe if you want a high number of kills. It will get you assists, and tactical advantage over the baddies. I combine it with light lasers and Wingman in brawls to disrupt the enemy fighters, knock out shields, and buff my allies.
Jedi Master Telline - The Master of Shadows
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Offline TrickyNick87

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Bless you, @Iaera . I've made a point to at least start doing the GSF daily. One thing I quickly learned is, like when I got started in PvP WZs, 'gearing' has a tremendous impact on my performance as well. A thousand blessings to you for this guide. :)

Offline Niarra

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Iaera, this is a wonderful reference - thank you for writing it up! I had been saving components for later installments of my guide, but hadn't had the energy to get around to it since posting the first half - and now I don't need to, as I can just point people here!  :grin: I particularly like how you broke it down into terms that don't require arcane knowledge of GSF's mechanics to understand. Definitely a good reference for learning players.

In the interest of keeping informative discussion going, I wanted to add my two cents on a couple of components you highlighted. (Came back up here after finishing the rest of my post to sheepishly admit that, as usual, my "two cents" turned into more like "two thousand cents." Brevity, someday I will come to know you... but not today.)

(Standard) Laser Cannons - I often refer to these as Standard Lasers, as they represent the middle ground of the laser options - they have no particular strength or weakness, and are all-around decent lasers in any situation. They have good range, good rate of fire, good damage, good tracking, and good power efficiency. I highly recommend these lasers if you are struggling with the lighter laser types. Other than their lack of specialisation and lower damage output than Quad Lasers, there's very little to complain about here.

I am in accord with pretty much all the info you provided in this guide, but wanted to highlight this bit on Laser Cannons as particularly good for newer pilots. I agree with your assessment that there's very little to complain about with Laser Cannons, and I would probably recommend them as the best Primary Weapon choice for newer players. Once you've learned the feel of how LCs handle, it won't be a hard shift to then branch into experimenting with Rapids, Lights, or Quads. But the beauty of LCs is that, for most people, there's no need to branch into other components, really. If you're happy with your LCs, you'll continue to be effective in most circumstances.

Quad Lasers - The Laser Cannon's bigger brother, the Quad Laser handles almost identically. The chief difference is its significantly higher power drain in exchange for higher damage output - if you use Quads, you will frequently find yourself depleting your weapon power pool in short order, and this can result in unfortunate scenarios where you can't quite finish off an opponent. However, these are still very good all-purpose lasers.

Quads are my favorite, but they are a bit harder to master due in part to the higher power draw Iaera cites, but also due to the fact that they have lower accuracy and a lower rate of fire than standard LCs at max range. Basically what that means is it's a little harder to make shots with your Quads land, so you have to be more familiar with your range sweet spots and your aiming skills, in addition to managing your power more carefully - but if you are comfortable with that minutiae then Quads pack a stronger wallop. I personally like to stack my Quads with Frequency Capacitor to compensate for the lower rate of fire, which has the net effect of upping your DPS considerably but also even further accelerates the power draw and increases the risk of being left with no juice at all if your finger is too heavy on the trigger. For all of these not-rookie-friendly reasons, I personally wouldn't recommend them as a component to learn on, but they might be something to explore later on.

Heavy Lasers - At the top end of the laser spectrum, these lasers have the highest damage and range, but the slowest rate of fire. They are also virtually useless in close-range turning fights, thanks to their abysmal tracking and firing arc. With that said, these are solid lasers in most situations, and have some unique upgrade possibilities that make these very punchy and very nasty lasers to sling around if you prefer long-range damage output.

Heavy Lasers are a dangerously underestimated component. These canons are only found on Strike Fighters and Bombers, and while most Strike Fighters will probably be trying (for good or ill) to dogfight and will probably be relying on a different Primary, Heavy Lasers on experienced Bombers is pretty much standard fare. It's important to remember that not only are Heavy Lasers the most accurate of all the Primary components (making them more deadly to Scouts in particular), but they also have the options to be specced into both shield piercing and 100% armor piercing upgrades - no other Primary component offers that combo, and it is deadly. (They don't actually have higher base damage than the other components - almost all of the Primary Components have higher base DPS numbers - but the armor piercing upgrade can magnify their ultimate damage output in the right circumstances.)

What all of that means to you as someone facing an opponent with Heavy Lasers is that you should not try to face tank them. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that a bomber sitting there shooting at you as you approach is just not going to be as deadly as a Scout or Strike doing the same, but if they are sitting there shooting at you with Heavy Lasers then you are just asking to die; be evasive, as the tradeoff Heavies make for their high penetration and excellent range is terrible tracking on a moving target.

What all of that means for you using Heavy Lasers is, as I mentioned in the Tracking Penalty lesson of my guide, that Heavies may be a good choice for you if like fighting at long range, and if your preferred strategy is to focus on picking off a ship currently engaged with another pilot. As Iaera mentioned they are virtually useless in close range dogfights, but if you like to take your shots from a safer distance then they may work well for you. Just be aware that, like Quads (although for different reasons), it's very important to make every shot you take with Heavies land because your rate of fire is so slow, so your manual aiming factors here significantly.

Burst Laser Cannon - The other odd duck, the Burst Laser is essentially the shotgun of the laser options. It does very high damage at close range, but is not very useful outside of that. This makes it something of a gimmick weapon, as it will kill most targets in only 2 or 3 shots, but don't expect your opponents to respect you much for doing it... (cf., any first-person shooter which includes shotguns)

This is the only point at which I might want to present a somewhat counter argument. While it's true that Burst Cannons are only really useful at very close ranges, I would argue that it is perhaps the most powerful cannons component in the game. So much so, in fact, that while I am generally very reluctant to throw around the too often abused term OP in games, this is the only component I might argue comes close. Almost without fail if someone is complaining about being (or feeling like they've been) one-shotted in a dogfight, it's because they were hit with BLCs.

There are some things I think are very important to consider regarding BLCs (much of what I'm referencing here might make more sense in conjunction with my lessons on Evasion & Armor Piercing and again on the Tracking Penalty):

1.) They have the best accuracy at very close range, and best tracking penalty (meaning higher accuracy when taking shots at the outside edge of your firing arc). Because of this, they are the indisputable champion at dogfighting on, under, and immediately around a satellite objective in Domination, for those pilots who are trying to both hug the sat (to either keep it neutral or keep it green) and clear enemies from that zone at the same time. No other weapon comes close for this task. (Note if you are firing on people on the sat from a position off the sat, then any other weapon might work better. But specifically for tight-turning dogfights, on or off a satellite, BLC is deadly.)

2.) BLCs are the only dogfighting Primary (excluding Heavies, for the aforementioned reason that those are not good for dogfighting) that offers the upgrade of 100% armor piercing. In fact, excluding missiles and pods, only three weapon components offer this upgrade: Burst Laser Cannons, Slug Railgun, and Heavy Lasers - and there is a very good reason that the first two in that list are the only weapons capable of genuinely one-shotting enemies. Armor piercing completely ignores any damage reduction provided by your ship's hull, which makes them particularly deadly to Strike Fighters and Bombers (and to a lesser degree Gunships) which all rely on damage reduction over Evasion as their damage mitigation default.

3.) Most pilots who use BLCs pair them with the Targeting Telemetry component (under Systems), for the massive boost to critical chance and critical magnitude. This means that a pilot often only needs to hit you once with BLCs with a very good chance to score a crit which, when coupled with BLCs' high base damage and armor penetration, means they are going to hit with a massive punch. Like Iaera said, it's the shotgun of space, and it's nasty.

4.) Scouts with BLCs equipped are second to none in clearing turrets off a satellite in Domination; they can typically one shot a turret (again because of that armor piercing) and thus fully clear all three turrets off a sat in a handful of seconds.

5.) BLCs are second only to Gunships' railguns in quickly killing Bombers. Again this is particularly important in Domination, where getting a bomber off a satellite is key.

6.) The two most frequently used Gunships (the Quarrel/Mangler and the Condor/Jurgoran) also have a BLC option, and many experienced Gunship pilots use it. This means that those gunships have the potential to be deadly in a dogfight as well as at range. While some gunship pilots never bother to learn anything beyond sniping, if you find yourself going up against a particularly wily gunship pilot who always seems to win even in a dogfight, consider that they might be using BLCs and perhaps adjust your range of engagement accordingly.

I have a love/hate relationship with Burst Laser Cannons. I avoided them for a long time because they were both seriously annoying to be on the receiving end of, and because my personal flight preferences don't jive well with the close-range requirements of their use. But despite my reluctance, it was impossible not to come around to the acceptance that they are leaps and bounds more effective at certain tasks than any other weapon in game. There's a very good reason that you will see pilots who rely heavily on BLCs (with the experience to use them well) regularly topping the leaderboard in high kill counts. There are plenty of days when I would be just as happy to see BLCs removed from the game entirely (or at least to have their armor piercing upgrade option removed), but the game is it what it is, and BLCs are a real threat it would behoove pilots to keep an awareness of.

Cluster Missiles - These are the only type of missile from the first (eponymous) category. Although relatively short range, their range is still comparable to that of lasers. With their extremely fast lock time and wide locking arc, these are the premier dogfighting option. They do low damage per hit, but the cooldown is so short that you can begin locking your target again almost immediately after firing the previous volley. This makes them the only missile that can reliably hit Scouts, who can otherwise easily evade missile locks.

Yep yep! All of the reasons Iaera cited (in addition to their having the widest - and therefore most rookie friendly - firing arc of all missiles) go into why I would strongly recommend Cluster Missiles as the ideal component for newer players to learn on. I, like many players, struggled for a long time in the beginning to understand just why my missiles didn't seem to "work." That's because lots of factors can go into a failed missile lock, almost none of which are easy to see, and therefore very hard to understand. Cluster Missiles give you the best chance to get a successful shot off, and building experience with them can be a key foundation to building skill and comfort level for other trickier missile components in future.

EMP Missiles - In the Missile category, this weapon sacrifices damage in exchange for utility. This is a situational weapon, and its primary use is for disrupting those annoying bomber-nests - one hit from the EMP missile will nuke all mines in the area and damage and disable drones. That's about the extent of its usefulness - don't rely on this as a primary weapon. Use it to support your team in a specialist-built ship.

I love EMP Missiles in theory, but I think it's important to note that in actual practice they are not as effective as they seem on paper. The sad truth is that the EMP field put out by this missile is not in fact large enough to encapsulate an entire satellite and all its immediate environs - meaning that it almost never actually clears out an entire bomber nest. To most effectively leverage EMP Missiles you have to have a very solid grasp of positioning and choose the target (generally a stationary turret, mine, or drone) that you know will most centrally position the epicenter of your EMP field detonation to capture the most mines and drones within it. This can be extremely hard to calculate in the middle of a frenetic battle.

In my delusional dreams, someday the range of the EMP field will be expanded to 5000 meters, which would instantly increase their effectiveness by many orders of magnitude. I will happily turn back to the EMP Missile dream on that day.  :grin: But as it currently stands, I personally have only ever seen two pilots who truly leverage EMP Missiles well; as with all things, someone who's taken the time to master something can prove all naysayers wrong, but generally speaking I personally would not recommend that newer pilots take the promise of this missile's tooltip too much to heart. Sadly. :(

Proton Torpedoes - The 'standard,' direct-damage option in the Torpedo category. Like Concussion Missiles, their use is pretty straightforward - lock target, watch target explode. As a Torpedo, however, it is utterly unsuited to dogfighting situations, and is useful only in a stand-off interception role. It will not reliably hit Scouts or even Strike Fighters, and is best used against Bombers or Gunships who you know have just expended their Barrel Roll. With that said, it does extremely high damage, and can even 1-shot some ships if you manage to score a hit.

Fundamentally, and particularly as a newer pilot's experience is concerned, I fully agree with all of this on Protons. That being said, once you've achieved a better comfort level with missile locks I think Protons can be very effective. As with most things in GSF this comes down in large part to learning what your optimal ranges are. You are not going to score a Proton hit on someone you are dogfighting with; you need to target ships engaged with other targets, or which are more stationary like Bombers (in the open) as Iaera mentioned. But remember that the lock-on time for a Proton is still shorter than the cooldown time on most missile-breaks, which means that a pilot who is watching you and well positioned for this shot has a very good chance of shoving a Proton up your exhaust pipe.

Basically, while Protons are more difficult to use effectively, the tradeoff for the struggle involved in getting a successful lock is a massive punch - primarily because Protons are the only weapon in the game with 100% shield piercing. Coupled with their 100% armor piercing means that pretty much none of your defenses matter. If you get hit by a Proton, you are SOL.

Thermite Torpedoes - In the Torpedo category, this is essentially a Proton Torpedo with less direct damage, but with a large DoT and debuff in its place. Its primary use is bomber-killing, since the debuff will make the Bomber in question very susceptible to follow-up damage from your lasers or other missiles, in addition to the long-duration DoT. As with other Torpedoes, it has some limited use against Gunships and Strike Fighters if you can hold the lock and their evasive manoeuvre is on cooldown.

Nothing meaningful to add here. Just wanted to chirp up about how much I love my Thermites.  :grin: As one of only three weapons in the entire wide array of the game's components that has a DoT (and a potent one at that), they have the nasty side benefit of a confusion and panic factor on top of everything else. If you've ever died at the hands of a pilot you know was nowhere near you at the time and were wondering what happened, most probably (and obviously excluding gunship sniper fire) they hit you with a Thermite and you slowly burned to death at a later time.

Rocket Pods - Finally, in their own little category we have the humble Rocket Pods. Unlike all other missile options, these are unguided, dumb-fired direct-fire weapons. They behave exactly like lasers albeit with less firing arc and tracking, making them well-suited to combo with your lasers for direct, targeted DPS. They don't do well in turning fights (they are useless outside of the direct centre of the screen), but against slow-moving or stationary targets (such as oblivious Gunships!) you can keep centred, these are excellent weapons. They're also the ideal weapon for satellite assaults - the added DPS allows you to swiftly knock out defense turrets before they can hurt you much.

I would argue that BLCs are the superior weapon for satellite assaults, but there's no doubt that Pods are very useful in this capacity as well. One of their downsides, though, in addition the things Iaera already cited above, is that you can blow through your munitions load of pods very, very fast (due to their almost instant rate of fire, which makes them a bit of a trap for newer pilots who are anxiously heavy on the trigger) and quickly be left with no secondary weapon to speak of. This should not necessarily discourage people from using pods, but it's something important to keep in mind. If you enjoy using Rocket Pods, I recommend choosing someone in your Crew selection who increases munitions capacity.

Barrel Roll - The default on many ships, Barrel Roll propels you directly forward at high speed. You will actually travel considerable distance using this! It slaughters newbies, who frequently use it to collide into asteroids, so be careful where you're pointing with this one. At 30 seconds, it also has the highest cooldown, making it the least suitable for sustained combat. Because of its long-distance boosting, it has some secondary utility for crossing large sections of the map rapidly.

Wanted to chime in to comment on using Barrel Roll to cover large distances. This is particularly handy, especially if you're in a Strike Fighter or the Flashfire/Sting (which has less engine oomph than the other scouts). But as Iaera mentioned Barrel Roll has a high cool down, and also a high engine pool point cost to activate, which means if you are burning your BR to get somewhere you may find yourself out of a missile lock once you arrive and engage in your fight. For this reason I most frequently pair BR with the Distortion Field component (Systems category), because Distortion Field (in addition to being a fundamentally powerful component for its Evasion boost) also can break missile locks once upgraded to the highest tier. That gives you two missile breaks you can juggle, and opens up BR for travel purposes.

Power Dive - This propels you downward in a 90-degree turn. Riskier than Koiogran or Snap Turn, Power Dive requires a little more finesse to avoid crashing. However, because it accelerates you similarly to Barrel Roll, with some careful positioning you can use it to propel yourself forward at considerable speed. Power Dive is particularly notable for having only a 15 second cooldown, making it an extremely attractive option if you find yourself getting hounded by missile locks.

In my personal experience, Power Dive is one of the most difficult of all engine maneuvers to master. It has been given the moniker Power Die by many GSFers, and for good reason; I have self-destructed more often using Power Dive than with all the other engine components combined. But Power Dive has some pretty powerful benefits that might make it worth learning to use, one of which is the low cooldown Iaera mentioned (that can be lowered even further down to just 10 seconds with upgrades), and the other crucial one being that with the very first upgrade reducing power cost Power Dive is essentially free to execute, making it the only engine maneuver missile break you can use while stranded with low engine power.

Retro Thrusters - I see this one a lot, and to be honest I'm not a fan - It's the evasive manoeuvre that most reliably nets me a kill after my target uses it. It propels you backward, and then you zoom forward again - placing you pretty much exactly where you were when you started. Perhaps it fools rookies, but an experienced pilot need only exercise patience before dusting the soon-to-reappear target. 20 second cooldown

Retro Thrusters are one of those components/tricks that is hard to master and easy to fail at, but extremely strong in the hands of someone who has put in the blood, sweat, tears, and innumerable self destructs to achieve comfort with. But my personal opinion is that this engine maneuver is really only suited to jousting - head on one-on-one shooting fights where the aim is to tank damage and see who can kill faster. The reason it works so well in jousts is because it boosts your Evasion (increasing your enemy's miss chance), and that it can break a missile lock while allowing you to never stop shooting your opponent. Couple this with some other component tricks of the trade and you can "eat" a truly astonishing amount of damage while still wailing on an enemy. But of course, there's no guarantee that your enemy might not just dish out more damage than you do; that's the risk and thrill of a joust, after all.

All of that being said, there's no denying that if you're on the outside of a joust looking in, no engine maneuver is more predictable than a Retro, as Iaera mentioned. If you are flanking a Retro using pilot, they've made it very easy for you to keep them firmly tracked.

Also, due to the simple and obvious fact that Retros move you in reverse into your blind spot, they are a terrible choice if spatial awareness and terrain memory are not your strong suits. 

GSF is dense with content and strategy, and this list doesn't even begin to cover all the different component options available, instead focusing on some of the common, primary options for Scouts and Strike Fighters. Of course, most ships also have semi-unique system abilities or oddball alternative options, but theorycrafting such things is beyond the scope of this simple guide!

I am very bad at keeping thing simple, as my responses here show.  :grin: I like to wallow in the weeds, perhaps too much. I plead the excuse of being starved for friendly GSF discourse (because the GSF discourse on the official forums can sometimes get way too elitist for my personal taste).

Above all, you are encouraged to experiment - I have my opinions on many of the components listed above, but many people swear by things I hate, or can't stand the components I love, so YMMV! Ultimately, every GSF pilot has to figure out for himself or herself which components suit their playstyle. Hopefully, this guide gives you a few clues about where to start!

Whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment! When I wrote my GSF guide I took a fair bit of time in the intro and in the lessons themselves to emphasize the fun factor and the individual playstyle factor, because sadly too often these basic building blocks of game enjoyment get bashed on by META enthusiasts.

While I fully understand and embrace the desire to want to be effective and to win your matches, there's just absolutely no point to try to force someone to use only META-approved components if they are not going to have fun with them. For some people having fun and winning are the same thing and inseparable, but for others they are not, and with a game with as steep a learning curve as GSF I think people first and foremost just need to be enjoying themselves enough to keep playing... so YMMV is indeed key.
« Last Edit: 12/29/16, 03:13:58 PM by Niarra »
Niarra Reymark, Jedi Master and Diplomat // Derrad Reymark, Starfighter Ace and Softie // Jheva, Padawan and Pattern Reader // Yatei, Jedi Knight // Zelek Arr, Corn Grower
Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
Erran Veshkgalaar, Mandalorian Accountant // Caustrin Neyvor, Dangerous Puppeteer // Ariza Fey, Psycho and Pyro // Kettur Vaen, Semi-Spook

Offline Iaera

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I mostly agree on BLCs - if I had my way, both BLCs and Gunships would be launched into a sun and banished from GSF for all time. In the hands of newbie or middling pilots they're merely annoying, but when someone who's highly skilled uses them in their upgraded forms (and frankly, someone that skilled at GSF can really afford to use other ships/components) they become an extraordinary menace that is extremely difficult even for other skilled pilots to deal with without also resorting to BLCs/Gunships - one of my "favourite" GSF videos is from a pilot claiming to show how easy it is to counter high-threat enemy Gunships... the entire video consisted of him also using a Gunship.

I try to keep such opinions out of these guides as much as I can, however, other than a polite suggestion that using BLCs might not be too sporting!
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Offline Sebrik

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Dunno what you guys mean with Burst Laser Cannons killing in 3 hits, or being OP.  Equipped them on the gunship and literally watched someone take 5 or 6 hits before speeding off, turning around (which none of my ships seem to be able to do) and kill me.


Offline Iaera

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Equipping "OP" or "broken" builds won't magically make you super-effective - in the hands of someone who hasn't yet learned how to handle them, they're merely an annoyance. I extra double triple trouble do not advise trying to learn GSF with them - they'll only teach you bad habits and won't significantly boost your effectiveness early on.

If you're having trouble with the manoeuvring aspect of GSF, consider trying a Bomber (equipped with Heavy Lasers, as Niarra suggests) - you can boat around behind the team, tanking hits, dropping mines, and pew-pewing into the fight.

Again, as I've said elsewhere, do not expect miraculous results right away. Stick with it! If you like, I'm happy to swap Imp-side (or whatever is easiest for you) for awhile and fly with you!
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Offline Niarra

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Dunno what you guys mean with Burst Laser Cannons killing in 3 hits, or being OP.  Equipped them on the gunship and literally watched someone take 5 or 6 hits before speeding off, turning around (which none of my ships seem to be able to do) and kill me.

BLCs are an interesting component in that, used less than optimally, they are terrible - worse than most other cannons. But used optimally they are brutal, hitting much harder than just about anything else in game. Perhaps this extreme spectrum is what the developers felt balanced it out in gameplay, but I would argue that (as is often the case in games) the developers themselves never clocked as much time with it as the players did, and player experience tells a different story.

Although I obviously didn't see the exchange you're talking about, if I were to hazard a guess it would be that you might have been firing at your target as soon as they came within range of your weapon and the reticules turned red at 4000m or thereabouts. If that's the case, then you were contending with the extreme penalties BLCs suffer at that max range: their damage is reduced to a paltry 495 DPS (almost 50% what they do at optimal range) and their accuracy is an abysmal 70%, meaning that in fact each shot you fire has 30% chance to miss outright regardless of how well you are aiming (and that's before the enemy's Evasion score is even applied, which could make that miss chance even higher - it's exactly like Accuracy and Defense in ground game).

All of which is to say that when using BLCs at their max range, they are terrible. It's at their optimal close range that they shine: with 971 damage and 115% accuracy, and an extremely wide and forgiving firing arc. The difficulty with fully leveraging BLCs, though, is that that optimal close range is very close indeed: 500m. That's practically sitting on an enemy ship's hull. This is why they are completely brutal at extremely close dogfight under satellites.

But to use them in more open spaces, such as when hunting a gunship, what is required is extreme patience and nerves of steel to hold your fire (and not alert them with a missile lock) until you are literally right on top of an enemy. Usually this means the target has to be engaged with someone else and not paying attention to you. The BLC scout is like a Rogue with a Backstab ability; you gotta be restrained, patient, and stealthy enough to sneak up on someone, but if you manage to pull off that bushwack then someone is going to feel serious pain.

That 500m close range optimal zone also means that if you're just not comfortable fighting super up close and personal (and that's the range at which it becomes almost impossible to track someone who has moved out of your field of vision), it's possibly not a good component choice for you.

Personally, I have a hard time with BLCs, because I am not patient. I like to open fire at max range. I like having more space in which to maneuver and re-position. My greater experience with other weapon components like Quads has me leaning on the trigger button much harder and longer than is good for BLCs. All of these contribute to why it took me so long to warm up to them; they were some of the absolute last components I learned how to use well, and even now I consider myself intermediate with them at best. I do, however, keep a Skybolt/Ocula with an alternate BLC build on my bar at all times, though, because if we're in a tough match and a satellite must at all costs be cleared and taken, there really is no better build for the job.
Niarra Reymark, Jedi Master and Diplomat // Derrad Reymark, Starfighter Ace and Softie // Jheva, Padawan and Pattern Reader // Yatei, Jedi Knight // Zelek Arr, Corn Grower
Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
Erran Veshkgalaar, Mandalorian Accountant // Caustrin Neyvor, Dangerous Puppeteer // Ariza Fey, Psycho and Pyro // Kettur Vaen, Semi-Spook

Offline Sebrik

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Dunno what you guys mean with Burst Laser Cannons killing in 3 hits, or being OP.  Equipped them on the gunship and literally watched someone take 5 or 6 hits before speeding off, turning around (which none of my ships seem to be able to do) and kill me.

BLCs are an interesting component in that, used less than optimally, they are terrible - worse than most other cannons. But used optimally they are brutal, hitting much harder than just about anything else in game. Perhaps this extreme spectrum is what the developers felt balanced it out in gameplay, but I would argue that (as is often the case in games) the developers themselves never clocked as much time with it as the players did, and player experience tells a different story.

Although I obviously didn't see the exchange you're talking about, if I were to hazard a guess it would be that you might have been firing at your target as soon as they came within range of your weapon and the reticules turned red at 4000m or thereabouts. If that's the case, then you were contending with the extreme penalties BLCs suffer at that max range: their damage is reduced to a paltry 495 DPS (almost 50% what they do at optimal range) and their accuracy is an abysmal 70%, meaning that in fact each shot you fire has 30% chance to miss outright regardless of how well you are aiming (and that's before the enemy's Evasion score is even applied, which could make that miss chance even higher - it's exactly like Accuracy and Defense in ground game).

All of which is to say that when using BLCs at their max range, they are terrible. It's at their optimal close range that they shine: with 971 damage and 115% accuracy, and an extremely wide and forgiving firing arc. The difficulty with fully leveraging BLCs, though, is that that optimal close range is very close indeed: 500m. That's practically sitting on an enemy ship's hull. This is why they are completely brutal at extremely close dogfight under satellites.

But to use them in more open spaces, such as when hunting a gunship, what is required is extreme patience and nerves of steel to hold your fire (and not alert them with a missile lock) until you are literally right on top of an enemy. Usually this means the target has to be engaged with someone else and not paying attention to you. The BLC scout is like a Rogue with a Backstab ability; you gotta be restrained, patient, and stealthy enough to sneak up on someone, but if you manage to pull off that bushwack then someone is going to feel serious pain.

That 500m close range optimal zone also means that if you're just not comfortable fighting super up close and personal (and that's the range at which it becomes almost impossible to track someone who has moved out of your field of vision), it's possibly not a good component choice for you.

Personally, I have a hard time with BLCs, because I am not patient. I like to open fire at max range. I like having more space in which to maneuver and re-position. My greater experience with other weapon components like Quads has me leaning on the trigger button much harder and longer than is good for BLCs. All of these contribute to why it took me so long to warm up to them; they were some of the absolute last components I learned how to use well, and even now I consider myself intermediate with them at best. I do, however, keep a Skybolt/Ocula with an alternate BLC build on my bar at all times, though, because if we're in a tough match and a satellite must at all costs be cleared and taken, there really is no better build for the job.



Was so close I could smell the other pilot.  Not exaggerating.