UPDATED VS 1.04
Here are the units that can stand up to Illums and win:
TEC: Scouts, Fighters, Flak (with hoshikos preferably), HC's, Starbases (with repair bays)
Vasari: Flak, Fighters, HC's(barely), Starbases
Advent: Scouts, Fighters, Flak, Illums, HC's, Starbases
To start, I want to be clear. I love this game, I am a seasoned veteran, and I love the Illuminator, and I do make fleets of them. However, I am by no means an Illum spammer. Spamming is a poor technique. By making a simple fleet, you make the job of countering your actions simple too.
v1.04 has brought new balance to the game, but Illum spammers are still here. Guess what! There's good news! There are counters now!
Instead of spamming, I make fleets of Scouts, light frigs, carriers, Illuminators and guardians because just an Illuminator spam is a flawed technique, although eventually the bulk ( as in 1/2 ) of my fleet is Illuminators purely for the amounts of damage they provide.
I am the guy who can send fleets of Illums at you and frustrate all the TEC players who try to fight Illums with Lrms, the guy who 9 times out of 10 will laugh at Assailants, and will make a fleet of Illums bigger than your fleet of Illums.
First off, I want to establish that long range frigates, as the game is currently configured, produce the highest general amounts of dps for an early game fleet. They are strong pretty much against anything. Even against very heavy armor, they do 75% of their statistical damage. This applies to LRMS and Assailants, not just Illuminators. Going purely by DPS and the best damage multipliers, LRF's are the early game work horse.
Any race can do an lrf spam, and each can do it effectively. Advent, however, do it best. Understand, I, along with many, do this stategy because the payoff of this strat is enormous. Most experienced players switch to Advent because it rewards experience. There's more payoff for microing and timing your use of abilities properly.
Before I continue, understand that when I compare Assailants, Illums, and Lrms, I will compare the stats of 3 lrms, 2 assailants, and 2 Illums. This is because lrms only take 4 ship slots, assailants and illums each take 6.
+ Damage Output
- in the very early stages of the game, a fleet of 20 Illums and the Mothership against anything will pretty much own. I don't really think there's anything else with any amount of resource management that produces a higher rate of overall damage output early than a fleet of Illums. Compare 20 Assailants and an Egg or 30 lrms and an Akkan, Advent simply has the upper hand.
This in general, however, is one of the advantages of Advent. They have no econ focus like TEC (credits) or Vasari (resources). Advent instead focuses on making the fleet stronger and something that can't be killed. The units are meant to synergize and when mixed together make a mighty fleet.
1. 2 Illums: 33.2
(In game the Illuminator is listed as 17 dps, I think the ship is really doing 16.6 ish dps)
2. 3 Lrms: 33
3. 2 Assailants: 26
+ Cap Ship Abilities
- Illums are already strong enough. They have capital ship abilities that make them stronger. The Mothership gives them malice and sheild regen. The Halcyon gives them an aura so they'll shoot faster. Animosity on the Battleship can pull you away from targeting the Illums so they're free to shoot. The point is Adventcaps bring the best support abilities in the game. Already deadly shps are more deadly.
- These are the ultimate compliments. The shield and repulse are both incredible additions to a fleet and I use both. It's worth noting that I hate repulse. Repulse shoves the ships I want to shoot away, meaning I'm not shooting them. The Illumintor helps minimize this problem however. Since it's a ranged frigate, it never stops shooting, but your opponent does, so this is an ungodly strong combo. Guardians + Illums can lead you to a lot of victories.
-Thankfully the game has been balanced. Guardians are no longer broken. Repulse isn't broken. It's wonderful.
+ The Side Beams
- Those side beams are lethal folks. Obviously, Lrms and Assailants don't have these. What makes them lethal is that now the fleet, and each ship, are taking out more targets at once. While TEC and Vasari must target each individual ship, Advent side beams chew through the enemy fleet. Illums are designed to take down huge fleets with many targets. Assailants and LRMS are not.
+ First Strike
- Also, Advent side beams (and the main beam) are instant hit, as per -Gambit-. His point is that Illums beams instantly hit the enemy ship, while TEC and Vasari missiles take time to get there. During that time, the beams have taken out at least one, possibly a few ships.
- High Amount of Hull/Shields
- The toughness of Illums is ridiculous. Before 1.04 they crushed HC's, and now, I'm willing to bet they still put up a good fight.
+ No Excess amounts of damage done to individual targets
- Missiles take forever to get to their targets. What happens a lot of the time is when a target only needs 30 missile volleys to destory it, your units will all aim at it and spend 60 missile volleys on it since the volleys take forever to get there.
Here's what happens. The first volley is fired but it was enough to kill. It takes forever to get there however, and during that time a second volley is fired. It goes to waste. SUCKS!!!!A lot of the potential damage of this fleet is lost. This doesn't happen with the Illuminator. Since the hit is instant, very little damage goes to waste like with missiles.
+ Relatively inexpensive (At least comparable to their counter-parts)
- Before you say anything, hear me out. Take a look at this.
Cost: 2 Illums: 760 Credits, 120 Metal, 110 Crystal
Cost: 2 Assailants: 800 Credits, 130 Metal, 90 Crystal
Cost: 3 Lrms: 825 Credits, 135 Metal, 75 Crystal
If you take away the base cost of 760 cred, 120 metal, and 75 crystal you get
Cost: 2 Illums: 35 Crystal (Crystal focus because it's Advent)
Cost: 2 Assailants: 40 Credits, 10 Metal, 15 Crystal (Oy, no break for the Vasari here)
Cost: 3 Lrms: 65 Credits, 15 metal (Credit focus b/c it's TEC, no suprise)
Illums are actually CHEAPER than Assailants and very close to the value of LRMS. Perhaps Illums are SLIGHTLY more expensive than LRMS, but what I'm trying to emphasize is that they're almost identical in impact on economy.
Many complain about the Illuminator. Many say it's unbalanced. I used to agree with that statement, but now I've come to a new conclusion. Believe it or not, this strategy has drawbacks.
Negatives (Well, there aren't too many)
- ADVENT CAN'T SEIGE ******V1.04 ADD-ON
-This is a big disadvantage to Advent play. They can't seige. Illum spammers rarely have more than 1 cap, so they can't knock out planets. There is no shame in stalling and building up a fleet while the Illum spammer slowly seiges. Just don't be too lenient and actually let him take the planet.
- 3rd Tier Tech
- It takes three labs to make the research available. The research is also very expensive early. Also, those labs gobble up precious slots when you only have your homeworld, a roid, and maybe a second. You don't have the option to do anything eco if you want to get Illums early ( as in the first 10 min ).
-THIS MUST BE EXPLOITED if the battle is to be won. An Illum spammer's eco sucks. He won't be able to replenish his fleet if you destroy it early.
- Despite all the beauties of the Illuminator, the range of this LRF is the smallest.
1. Lrms: 9800
2. Assailants: 7820
3. Illums: 5520
My gut says this is a negative and that this belongs here, but this can be construed as a positive. By making the Illum get close, it then can use its side beams, so I dunno, I'll count it as a negative. This limited range hurts when trying to use Illums to clear starbases. Not only can you only fire the front beam at a starbase, you're also close and within range of the starbase (which if it's a TEC starbase with self-destructing red button is bad news).
- Very Slow Start to the Economy
- The Illum spammer typically can't help their economy at all. They take the first roid with their capital ship alone and send in Illums peacemeal to help the Cap at the second planet, whatever that may be. They aren't constantly making Illums. The eco of an early game just doesn't support this ship. One of the ways you beat Illuminator spammers is by getting a strong econ early so you can overwhelm with ship numbers later.
- Few caps
- Advent has to have capital ships to be effective. One mothership, though formidable, is not going to be able to support 50 illums alone, but that's what a lot of Illum spammers do. Make the mothership and then make nothing but Illums. Very very bad misuse of resources. Still a beast, but a much weaker beast.
- Can't focus on one target
- Since roughly half of the ships damage comes from the side beams, this ship is severely weakened when it is only shooting from the front. This comes into play in many instances, but primarily when attacking starbases.
So how do you counter it? I have these answers, but understand, what is key to countering the Illum spam is making sure you know your opponent is doing it. Keep your scouts in his planets. If you see 3 military labs in the first 10 min, you know he's going for Illums. A
For TEC, I primarily use scouts early on. They really do the job. I use scouts, and if I can afford them, I get some carriers. If you can get the guy to fight in your repair bays, you're in a good situation.
TEC doesn't have too hard a time with Illums. Obvoiusly, cobalts are cannon fodder for Illums, and unfortunately LRMS are to a large extent. LRMS can beat Illums, but you need to be damn good to do that. The armor on Lrms is just too light. It takes heavy mirco, and tbh only vets will probalby pull it off.
First, instead of making just cobalts early as your fleet, make some scouts to help your cap out. Scouts do anti-light damage, so consider the fact that for 200 credits, you get a unit that does 6 dps to LRM pirates and Seige Pirates, and later to Illums. Sure the scouts are useless against any other pirate ship, but you'll have scouts later when your opponent shows up with Illums.
3 TEC Scouts vs. 1 Illum
Cost: 600 credits vs. 380 Cred, 60 Metal, and 55 Crystal
Damage (With percentages calculated): 18 dps vs. 16.6 dps
Hull: 1350 vs. 620
Shields: 525 vs. 550 (Ok, it's advent, they should win this category)
I'd like for the Counter to a unit to be more apparant, like, it should be the scouts do twice the damage to Illums that Illums do to scouts, but hey, that's the evidence right there.
I do not advise continuing to just make scouts, however. A giant fleet of scouts is one of the easiest things in this game to counter. They do 50% of their damage against anything with medium armor and up. It's not a good idea to make a huge fleet of scouts, for you will destory nothing besides LRMS and other Scouts. They're also extremely vulnerable to fighters.
If your opponent is dumb enough to keep making the Illums though, CHURN OUT THE SCOUTS.
After your initial scout push (2 scouts made for your fleet for every 1 cobalt), your second fleet addition can be a fleet of scouts, flak, lrms, carriers, or heavy cruisers.
I have an addendum for flak. A fleet of flak can take a lot of punishment. The problem is flak don't do a lot of damage. They do 15.3 damage per second, but that's split amongst 4 guns on the ship, and you can only aim the front 25%. Their teeth are a little dull for my taste. They're not a bad option against LRF's, but they only do 75% of their damage. Also, if you make flak against me making Illums, I'm just gonna take out the frig factory, or maybe I'll just let the flak keep coming. I like the experience feed for my caps.
If you're on a map where the Illums got to you quick, which is most likely, the answer I like most is at least some scouts first, and then some lrms mixed in later once your opponent switches to something besides LRF's. Take a look at the statistics for 3 lrms vs. 2 Illums.
Lrms vs. Illum
Cost: See Above
Hull: 1500 vs. 1240
Hull Repair Rate: 1 vs. 1
Victor: Lrms (Because they have three ships regenerating, not two)
Armor: 1 vs. 2
Victor: LRMS (The Armor upgrade is mandatory as TEC, it's tier one and inexpensive. That gives LRMS the edge)
Shields: 840 vs. 1100
Shield Regen Rate: 1 vs. 1
Victor: LRMS (See Hull Repair Rate)
Construction Time: 66 vs. 52
DPS: 33 dps vs. 33.4
Victor: Illums, only by a little
Mix in carriers and hoshikos when you can. The fighters for anti-light damage and Hoshikos because they are critical to keeping a TEC fleet alive. Also, eventually mix in Heavy cruisers with hoshikos, carriers, and your surviving LRMS and you will mop the floor.
Also, I'm skeptical of getting trade ports VERY early as TEC. Trade ports are critical for TEC, but you need to make a fleet first, because that's what the Advent player is doing. You will lose if you make an eco first and start a fleet, but you can get a fleet first and go eco after that, it's not forbidden.
I say you will lose because making tradeports early takes time and money, and by the time the network is established, ur Advent opponent is likely ready with a full fleet to come after you. Trade ports take too long to pay themself off. It takes 15 min for a trrade port to pay itself off. On a rush map that's bad.
You should also be microing with the Akkan and Ion bolt or Marza and Nuclear Bomb. Have the Akkan always firing at the enemy mothership. The second you see it fire up shield regen, you fire an ion bolt. You should be watching for this intently, ready to click the second it starts. This helps put Illuminators on par with LRMS and/or scouts.
Also, at some point you MUST make a second frig factory too, earlier the better. Probably after you've taken your 4th planet at the latest. With the discount you get, it's not much of a hit, but since 2 Illums are made quicker than 3 lrms, you have to make up for that. Keep 2 frig factories churning out LRMS or scouts constantly. Advent early game can't keep Illums churning out of 2 frig factories constantly.
If you're on a map where you don't think your opponent will get to you for a while, and I'm speaking for around 30 minutes, you can tech straight to Heavy Cruisers. This is not a bad tactic, considering Kodiaks are strong and a great counter to Illums. The drawback is you can get caught with your pants down when all you have is labs and his fleet shows up. It takes a good amount of finesse to pull of an HC spam and I only recommend it to experienced players, but it's a viable option. I like to make a large group of scouts as my starting fleet, and once I start making HC's, I send them with the Bomb ability into his backfield to get frigate factories and temples of hostility.
Pure fighters will beat pure illums. It's a fun tactic and it's effective. The problem is if you start making carriers, he's going to likely make the counter, flak, which will just obliterate your fighters. Just be observant.
I read my Vasari answer and wanted to puke. This game changed so much. Vasari has a tough time with Illums. There's no denying it. Starbases are pretty good now, but you want to know what I tend to do? Use scouts to stall ( you won't win with Vasari scouts, but you can stall ). Get carriers quick. Flak help too. Everything else pretty much loses in my opinion.
Vasari actually don't have too bad a time with Illums. If you want to stop an Advent player in his tracks whose spamming Illums, take out the opponent's capital ship.
One of the key elements of the early Illum fleet is it relies on the capital ship, whatever that may be. I would say 95% of the time it's the mothership, sometimes a newb will pick a Halcyon, but occassionally you'll run into the battleship guy or the seige cap guy, but I would like to say a fleet of Illums without a Halcyon or a mothership is considerably weaker and an easier beast to defeat. Take whatever this capital ship is out, you weaken the fleet considerably and put a big hurting on the Advent player to replace it.
Anyway, Vasari are easily the best race at eliminating the opponents cap early in a game. This requires picking the Space Whale, Space Egg, whatever you like calling it, the Evacuator as it is called. Put the upgrades in the Nanite bomb thingy. Also, you should be making Assailants with some flak mixed in later as a Vasari player against an Illum spammer.
There are two options: spam assailants to fight rock with rock, or spam fighters.
In general, an Advent Illum spammer picks someone to be their bitch that they'll rush. If it's you, just make Assailants. You WILL ( or at least should if you did it right) have more ships. Hopefully somewhere in the range of 6-8 more. Targeting his Illums is futile because of shield regen on the mothership. Target the cap first. (You should also have teched phase missiles). The nanite bomb lowers armor and does damage. This is a cap killing ability. Use it. You are at the least going to severely wound the capital ship. In general, you will destory the damn thing.
As mentioned by P5yy, you will lose some assailants during this process. But consider the fact that he's losing the force of a capital ship, you're losing maybe 4-5 assailants, but at the same time are feeding assailants into your fleet.
Advent and TEC have to go through the shields first, then the hull with mitigation shields. Vasari can bypass this and go straight after the hull.
1. The nanite bomb does 30 dps to the hull
2. The nanite bomb lowers the armor of the ship, making it a better target for everything else
3. Vasari have phase missiles, which bypass mitigaiton shields alltogether
Lure the enemy capital ship towards the planet and away from the edge. Like, pretend your hugging a repair bay. If he comes after your or starts seiging your planet, you've got the cap where you want it and can destory it. Once the cap is out of the picture, you have a fleet of unsupported illums to micro away. They're still beasts, and you'll need a decent sized fleet of Assailants.
Once the cap is gone, send the Assailants after the Illums. Sit your assailants far away and exploit your superior range. If he moves the illums close so he can use his side beams, move the Assailants and turn them around again. You don't want to be in side beam usage territory.
Remember this: Illums are much weaker without their capital ships.
Also, the Vasari have their own answer to sheild regen. The carrier has that wonderul health cloud that heals ships at a very rapid pace. It's like a hoshiko cloud that lasts for 10 seconds. In general, Illuminators are hitting more than 1 target at a time (side beams), so the repair cloud helps negate the side beam effectiveness, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Illum spam. The carrier is now my second cap 50% of the time because of this abililty.
At some point, say after you've made your 30-40 assailants, start making flak. They will help dramatically with an Illum spam. About roughly 2 assailants per every flak will do the job. The flak get up close and absorb the side beam damage.
That's my answer with Vasari. Against a late game Illum spammer, Heavy Cruisers and fighters are a good answer. The HC's can absorb damage and the fighters can slowly pick 'em off one by one.
If there are guardians with repel, though, you better have assailants. Fighters and Bombers don't do enough damage to them. Assailants can sit outside of the range of the stationary ship and kill it.
It's also worth noting that since Vasari fighters are tough little bastards, I encourage using them. They use phase missiles too, and can take a hit or two from a Halcyon if one shows up.
My answer is scouts now. You can fight rock with rock, and frankly it's not a bad option, but some people don't like that answer. Going HC rush isn't really going to work in my opinion. The Illum spammer will have Illums down your throat before you have HC's rolling out in a decent numbers.
I recommend starting out like I said with TEC. Build scouts and a few light frigs, primarily scouts. Add carriers to the group slowly. About 1 fighter squadron per every 3 scouts. The scouts are the meat shield, the carriers are the work horse. It's really not a bad option, just be careful with your carriers. Make sure he's not micro targeting to take them out.
What's great about using scouts, disciples, and Fighters is that ALL use the laser, which can be cheaply upgraded for damage. You can get +20% damage output quickly and cheaply. It's a great option. What's key is reacting to your opponent and whatever he makes AFTER the Illums.
Guardians with repulse are great too to support carriers. They can keep everything from getting to the carrier.
I know I jumped all over the place here. Advent have a lot of options. Scouts are the best one. Fighters can work. Flak too. HC's as well. Repulse too. I prefer scouts though. Cheapest and simplest answer.
If you decide to fight rock with rock:
This really comes down to outwitting your opponent. First and foremost, I recommend the scout strategy mentioned in TEC. The figures are very similar.
In general, whoever gets Guardians first is going to win this battle. To beat an Illum spammer, keep the sheilds on your ships higher than his, have more ships obviously, but most of all, try to make a better composed fleet than his. Get the Guardians and Halcyons before he does (Guardians first).
Also, repel will annoy an Illum spammer. An Illuminator's range is just about the same as the distance repel effects. The ship won't constantly fire. Also, repel can split the fleet of illums so you can destory one half while the guardians keep the other half away.
I accept both positive and negative criticism, as I know there are other options out there to counter Illums. This in general is what I've seen that works against human opponents. Emphasis on WORKS.