More Frigate Deathbattle Goodness (big wall of text incoming)
10 Cobalts vs 1 Akkan (level 1 w/ colonize and a fighter squad)
This was amusing to watch because at first it seemed certain the Akkan would go down, it got to half health long before it killed the 5th frigate. However, with only a few hundred hull left, it managed to whittle the cobalts down to a tipping point at which their DPS could no longer overcome its passive hull and shield regeneration..... leading it to actually survive with about 400 hull, despite being down to 300 at one point.
12 Javelis vs 1 Akkan
This fight was much more predictable as the Javelis junked the poor Akkan with only 4 Javelis going down. Amusingly the capship's fighter squad killed another Javelis and got a lot of health off another before finally dying, but ofc in an actual match the Javelis would withdraw after killing their prey (or more likely, the Akkan would pre-emptively flee when the disparity in DPS became obvious).
The reasons for this can be seen in the damage tables where one can see that Anti-Medium does 75% to capitals but Anti-Heavy does only 50%. Combined with the lesser DPS per fleet supply (Cobalt have less damage despite being more fleet supply) the Cobalt group did not have nearly as much firepower. Notably this same chart lists "Anti-VeryLight" as doing 50% to capitals, the same as the Cobalt. Hmmmmmm....
12 Garda vs 1 Akkan
Sure enough the Gardas win the day, once again defeating a supposed "counter" through simple micro and attrition tactics. First of all this Akkan was loaded with a bomber squad which has slightly better numbers against Flak but still gets shredded instantly without doing really anything. This is one advantage of the Flak here, other ships will have strikecraft adding to the capital's DPS, Flak.... not so much. Anyways, the Flak targeting AI wigs out if you just let it auto-attack or order a manual attack and then let them sit, and most of them won't fire. However by ordering the Gardas to move "through" the Akkan, resulting in them going around it in a tight group back and forth, over and over, they will fire all banks consistently and keep up enough DPS to take it down rather easily. I had 7 Gardas left alive, two heavily damaged.... almost the same efficiency as the Javelis which are supposed to specialize in this area, and notably the opposite of how my Cobalts fared.
17 Shriken vs 1 Akkan
Fighters are the bane of Corvette so that already bodes ill. Corvette does get a slightly better damage modifier against capital armor than some other units though. As it turns out Corvettes end their embarrassing losing streak in a big way. The lone fighter squadron is melted instantly, and the capital follows suit with basically 13 full health corvettes left (one might have had some shield points missing). This is even more remaining fleet supply than the Javelis had.
My theory regarding this outcome is that the Akkan is a "tank" relative to the balls of frigates it is facing. It has a lot of durability compared to them and does not lose firepower as it takes damage, whereas the frigate balls have more total DPS but lose damage every time a certain chunk of their total health is depleted, eventually doing insignificant damage by the time they are almost dead. The other frigate balls have enough DPS to kill off Corvettes rapidly and reduce their damage below dangerous levels, while the Akkan with lesser firepower takes too long to kill just one Corvette, needing many volleys while a dozen light frigates need only two, maybe just one.
6 Cobalt vs 2 Percheron (loaded w/ fighters..... fighter and bomber seem to have the same damage multiplier vs LF, and fighters get 1 more craft, so, meh.....)
The Percherons are ordered to circle the gravity well in a 12-point pattern, but alas, they are too sluggish and easily hunted down by the swift LF. One of them is actually barely able to reach the first rally point before dying. This makes sense as Cobalt are supposed to counter these units. One cobalt dies and one is heavily damaged when the 2nd Percheron goes down, but by the time all the fighters actually die off, there are 3 full health cobalts and 1 left heavily damaged, 2 dead.
8 Javelis vs 2 Percheron (fighters)
The circling-running-away-technique actually completely fails here..... the Javelis, controlled only by the auto-attack AI with no micro from me, cruise behind the Percherons matching their speed and circular pattern while firing constantly. I think run-through micro would have been better and might have saved a Percheron. As it stands one died but the other lived with full health, all Javelis went down. An examination of the fighter's "Anti-Light" damage explains this outcome; this damage type has an absurd multiplier against Javelis, 2x damage, higher than any other multiplier seen in the game by far. Bombers are also classified as Light so this solidifies the role of fighters against them, but Javelis unfortunately fell into this same armor class.
10 Arcova vs 5 Javelis
This is one that I've been wanting to try. It's unconventional yes but can you guess what damage type scouts have? That's right..... Anti-Light. The Arcovas in their numbers can actually burn down a Javelis surprisingly fast and win the fight with 4 left alive. Of course they are still not as effective of a counter as Flak, but hilariously they do counter the Javelis quite well on a per-supply basis and therefore far outperform the supposed "counter" of LRF, the corvettes. Arcovas do much more damage to structures than corvettes as well, with a certain upgrade!..... Of course they are cannon fodder against anything else, but it's amusing nonetheless. Given that they don't require research and are dumb cheap you really could pump out a dozen or two to fight enemy LRFs in an earlygame pinch situation (SP at least, no MP experience).
9 Shriken vs 2 Percheron (fighters)
Shriken can hit back against the fighters unlike most so I'm expecting a Corvette win here despite fighters doing good damage to them. It's going to be somewhat of a battle of attrition, if at least half the Corvettes are still alive after reducing the carriers to just making one fighter at a time with all the starting ones dead, it should be pretty sealed up. After running the test Corvettes have let me down again. 4 fighter squads has a "critical mass" of DPS to down a Corvette in just two passes, and the Corvettes are splitting their weapons fire between SC and the carriers themselves so they don't manage to take down even one squad of fighters, only a few individual craft. One Percheron loses his shields but has basically full health when the last Corvette dies. You might have more success ordering Corvettes to target the strikecraft squadrons manually, since they likely focus the carriers when left to auto-attack, but you certainly can't win this by going after the carriers so if it's not a winning proposition they can withdraw in relative safety, meaning Corvette remain ineffective.
8 Gardas vs 2 Percheron (bombers)
What do you think? The bombers only manage to off a single garda before they're all melted. After this point there's no use in the carriers being in the gravity well as any rebuilt strike craft are instantly killed. In one sense though, Cobalt may be more desirable since they are more adept at chasing and actually killing the carriers, forcing them to leave the grav well or risk permanent losses. Garda render them ineffective, basically disabling their weapons, and take longer to kill them, but will definitely wear down the carriers if they stay around. Both work, the Cobalts take more losses in the process, but may be more effective if you're just looking to trade fleet supply for the enemy carriers themselves.
4 Percheron (2 fighters, 6 bombers) vs 1 Akkan
I didn't realize until it was nearly over that the fighters on the Percheron side were stupidly attacking the Akkan and ignoring its fighter squadron, this likely would have been even more lopsided if I had ordered them to do what they were there for. This was still a curb stomp though. One Percheron did go down to the Akkan but run-through followed by run-away-as-far-as-possible micro is very effective in playing keep-away with the sluggish capital, with a little practice I could probably do it without losing any carriers.
All food for thought regarding small size fleet engagements. And another myth perpetuated by the Anti-Flak lobby successfully debunked (that capitalships somehow "counter" Flak..... certain capitals could beat them, more than likely, but this would likely be due to abilities that just make them powerful against any type of frigates, or against anything in general, like the Kortul's incredibly dumb self-healing abilities that make it unkillable in very small size fleets like these).
Quoting WJC3688, reply 17 Flak actually breaks any semblance of balance between these ship types and demands to be built
Who prohibits you in doing that?
Anyway, interesting tests, good to know in many situations flak are better than previously expected.
Even if these tests show flak is strong, still I fail to see any proof that flak is overpowered, and this is your main statement in this thread. You yourself wrote your opponent can at least trade ships with you, does not sound like your opponent can only face heavy losses and will surely lose if you start building only flak.
Or do we define what is OP this radically different?
What is OP in your opinion? this question is in me for a long time now.
By the definition that you cannot even trade with your opponent, and will always face heavy losses if the strategy in question is used, no strategy or unit could be OP..... because you can always adopt the exact same strategy as your opponent and, at worst, trade with him. By this reasoning, for example, even if Light Frigates had 4x their current health and damage and all other attributes left the same, they would not be "OP." Even though there would be little point in ever building anything but LF, the proper response is to just build your own LF spam which will trade with the equally powerful LF of the opponent. Therefore LFs are "not OP" by your line of reasoning in this situation..... even though this hypothetical LF actually somewhat describes Flak in the current version of the game, not to the same extreme extent, but testing has proven that Flak will trade efficiently with or curb stomp all other units (heavy cruisers might end up being the exception, further testing is ahead, of course).