But enough rambling: What are good countermeasures for a joint disciple/drone host army for the Vasari?
I have been working on this question for quite a long time now. You can see numerous posts by me (and others) on it, and even a few tests I've run where I've tried various counters (flak, lf, etc) and posted results. One of my posts you might want to track down is "an attempt at countering carriers without using carriers" or someting like that.
The bottom line is, to this day I have never been able to counter anybody's carriers, ever, without building carriers of my own. Now, maybe it's possible (in other words, maybe I just suck), but I haven't been able to do it thus far. Also, if it's true that only carriers can truly counter carriers, I'm not saying that's a bad game design. Maybe it's good, or maybe it sucks - I'm offering no comment there. I'm simply saying I've never had success countering carriers without building carriers. This still doesn't stop me from trying, though. Most games, I build zero carriers. This means I either kill the other guy before he makes carriers, or I lose. But at least I can say I did it... *my* way.
has anyone actually ever considered building adequate amounts of flak to counter carriers?
Yes, see one of my posts on this where I tested and posted results.
One problem I have in a game against a "real person" is that it is simply damn hard to make flak in numbers adequate enough to counter carriers. In a game tonight, for instance, I literally scouted the guy's system and hand-counted how many carriers he had. I wanted 2 flak per carrier. I had multiple frig factories pumping continuously. Did I ever get to the number? No. He could build carriers faster than I could build twice as much flak. I strongly suspect that the amount of time it takes to build a flak needs to be reduced, but I haven't looked at the number.
and...OMG...sending in the flak first?
Yes. Makes for nice stats at the end - your strikecraft kills are through the roof. Doesn't do much else though, as far as I can tell.
So, in essence, fighters? How about jam weapons thrown in? Is that an effective ability versus strikecraft, for example, could it allow a fleet of strikecraft half as small to defeat such a strikecraft army?
See my post here on using telekentic push for the advent halcyon carrier: https://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/340003/page/3
Please note that telekenetic push is considered one of the "better" anti-strikecraft abilities, while the kortul jam weapons is considered the worst.
However, feel free to take all of what I say here with a grain of salt, if not a truckload. The "pros" claim that countering carriers is no big deal, its a piece of cake. You're just some stupid newb if you can't do it, you see. "Howdididothat" is a main proponent of this view - check out some of his posts and see what he has to say. He is also a proponent of using capital ships to counter strikecraft.