For Home, Our Loved Ones, and the Almighty Credit: The TEC Loyalist Fleet
Combat mechanics favour the TEC fleet (before abilities are considered)
Let's start with looking at some basic ship combat mechanics. Ships in Sins have hull points and shield points. Once they are out of both, they explode. Damage is reduced by shield mitigation and armor.
Shield mitigation rises as a ship takes damage, falls over time, and is a straight percentage reduction to damage received that works even when the shields are reduced to 0.
Armor only comes into play once the shields are down (or penetrated by phase missiles) and uses a more complicated formula, but for relatively low armor values, it can be treated as a further 5% reduction in damage per unit of armor affecting the post-shield mitigation damage. High values of armor begin facing diminishing returns in a non-linear fashion, so while you can roughly guestimate that 10 armor will reduce damage about 50% (actually 45%), the value of higher amounts drops off rapidly. I haven't done all the calculations, but I did figure that 40 armor (which I don't think you'll ever see in unmodded Sins) only does 66% damage reduction. 90% reduction would require 180 armor. Anyway, that's all post-shield mitigation, so a 10 armor ship is only taking about 25% of incoming potential damage (assuming full mitigation).
(If you're a quick study, you should be able to deduce one of the major reasons why I like the Ankylon at this point, but we'll get to that.)
Improvements to Armor, Hull Points, and Shields increase durability non-linearly (to the ship's advantage this time) by granting more time for passive hull and shield regeneration to work, not least because the hull and shield upgrades increase the rate of that regeneration. There is also more time for active repair from support cruisers or structures to do their jobs.
The Advent have the best shields in the game and they can upgrade them to ungodly strength with increased mitigation and with their BattleBall fleet strategy they can get their effective shield regeneration to ridiculous levels, such that trying to inflict damage against a late game Advent fleet in a direct fashion with non-phase missile weapons is an exercise in futility (not to mention Suppression Aura on the Coronata). However, if the Advent shields can be neutralized somehow, they have the worst hull points, hull passive regeneration and armor. Meaning that shield-less Advent ships go POP at a most pleasing pace.
Vasari are second-best in every ship defence category. Second best armor, second best hull points, second best shields, and second best passive regeneration. They do have the best repair cruiser, though, with the Severun Overseer, and this and only this makes their fleet durability competitive with...
Ah, the TEC. Best hull, best armor, best passive hull regeneration (after research), weak shields. Fortunately, shields are less efficient than armor/hull regen as long as you have some (to get the mitigation). Armor and hull upgrades, of which the TEC have the most, act as stat bonus force multipliers for each other. To explain, each point of armor can be treated as functionally equivalent to 5% extra hull points, but that's not 5% extra base hull points, that's 5% extra total hull points. Every hull point upgrade improves the functional value of existing armor, just as each new point of armor improves the value of existing hull points. This is true for every faction, of course, but the TEC benefit the most since they have the best starting hull and armor values and more (and cheaper) researchable upgrades for them.
TEC gets +6 armor from research, +2 from their Armor Pact if they have an ally, +2 in owned gravity wells from Militia Armor if they are Loyalists. That's a potential +10 Armor on defence, but since armor protection improves with diminishing returns and even the lowly Cobalt starts with 2 Armor, it's reasonable to consider the highest tier of Armor research as highly optional and only for very late game after Hull Point and Shield research is done. In fact, when playing defensively and leaning heavily on starbases, capital ships, and the Ankylon, the diminishing returns means that for these ships/structures hull point upgrades are more efficient than armor upgrades in the early-mid game when resources may be scarce. Later on, TEC Loyalists don't have a resource problem, so they should research all the armor/hull upgrades eventually.
There's a tendency to advise players not to worry too much about researching the stat bonuses until later in the game and to focus on damage output over armor/hull/shield when one does. I don't know Vasari or Advent tech very well, so that may very well be very good advice for them, but it's absolutely backwards on both counts for TEC, especially the Loyalists. Fleet durability is the TEC's major fleet-wide starting military advantage and if not invested in, cannot be maintained. There's no damage output research TEC can do to match phase missiles, so dumping resources into that research path is minimizing the TEC strength and playing a game of catch-up that can't be won against the Vasari and can only be a tie with the Advent (and ultimately a loss as they increase their durability from their shield tech).
Small percentage increases in damage output are seriously reduced in effectiveness by the fact that the extra DPS still needs to pass through enemy shield mitigation and armor, meaning you don't get the improvement listed upfront, but only half that, at best. Whereas you get full value and then some for hull/armor/shield improvements, especially if your hull and armor values are already generally substantial, like the TEC's.
I always have the first tier of armor upgrades as a high priority. I may even research them before unlocking Hoshikos, if I don't have a pressing need for the repair cruisers. After that, I find it best to max out the hull research and then come back to the rest of the armor (mixing shield and antimatter regeneration research in as I feel like). As far as I'm concerned, the only damage output research that is essential for TEC Loyalists are the autogun upgrades, as this does have a noticeable impact on improving the performance of Garda Flak Frigates and Fighters, but you need the first tier armor upgrades to unlock the autogun research so...
The point being, even TEC cruisers and frigates don't die that easily once their hulls and armor are upgraded. Vasiri and Advent fleets depend upon support cruisers (Severun Overseers and Iconus Guardians, respectively), which aren't themselves terribly durable (and can be disabled), to maintain the durability of their fleets. In the early-mid game so do the TEC, but by the late game the Hoshikos can mostly be switched over to using Demo Bots: TEC ship durability becomes inherent with the right research.
TEC frigate and cruisers still underperform on a ship-to-ship basis in the late game, because they have lower DPS output in most cases, but they have (if you've done the research) really good survivability and interesting and useful abilities on the Cobalt, Hoshiko, and Cielo Command Cruiser and the Loyalist economy can support very large fleets and very rapid replacement of casualties, which means that even if the TEC fleets needs to effectively fight with 2:1 odds in their favour against the Advent, they can.
But what about the capital ships?
Yes, what about the capitals? I'll say upfront that I have no use for the Corsev. Which is a shame, because I like the concept, and the model (I'm one of the few) and I tried to love it, but I just can't. It's too micromanagement intensive to be anything more than a brick in a large battle and I've got better uses for my capital ships than to be a damage soak if the enemy shoots at it.
I also have trouble finding a role for the Sova in Rebellion, as I mentioned a couple posts ago. It's not a bad ship, and I like having them around, but every time I go to build a capital I think, "I'd like it, but I need x more, I'll get a Sova next time..." and I'll do that for a whole game and never build one. At level 10 it gets 8 strikecraft, but for close to the same fleet supply you can get 8 strikecraft from Percheron Light Carriers immediately without using capital ship crew or trying to keep them alive while levelling up. Are the Sova's other abilities enough to justify the difference? Well, Missile Batteries are nice, but in large battles they are irrelevant. Embargo is good in the very early game if you can get a Sova to the enemy homeworld, but in the late game Embargoing one enemy planet won't hurt him very much and you shouldn't need the stolen income. Heavy Strikecraft is very nice, but since it only applies to the Sova's own strikecraft it's inconsequential in battles with 50-100 strikecraft on a side. Rapid Manufacturing is a wonderful ability that the TEC Loyalists with all their research for faster construction and faster training (especially Counter-Deployment) don't need. If you've got multiple Sovas, you can use Rapid Manufacturing in a battle to rapidly switch your air power from fighters to bombers or vice versa, but that means you've invested in multiple Sovas and somehow gotten them all to level 6, not easy and arguably not the best use of capital ship crews.
The problem is that the Sova itself is relatively fragile and the addition of Titans in Rebellion means, for the TEC Loyalists who don't have a Titan dedicated to focused DPS, they need durable high-focused DPS capitals for counter-Titan use or capitals with great fleet support abilities and the Sova doesn't bring either option to the field. It does bring bombers, which can deal with Titans, but as mentioned before, if that's the only thing it brings, the Percherons bring bombers more efficiently.
I'd love a counter argument about the Sova (perhaps when fighting Vasari Loyalists the fact that Sovas can't be *&^#ing eaten would justify building a few instead of Percherons?), because I fondly recall loving the ship in Trinity, before Titans changed everything.
So what does that leave us with?
The Akkan Battlecruiser is indispensable. As the best colony capital, it jumpstarts the TEC economy with free extractors and temporary increased extraction rate when it colonizes. It's other abilities are why you keep it around, though (and build more, perhaps). Ion Bolt interrupts channelled abilities, and totally shuts a ship down for a few seconds. At the highest level it keeps a target shut down (and the target's passive regeneration disabled) for 50% of the time as long as antimatter reserves last to fire it.
Targeting Uplink increases range and chance to hit for all ships in a large area around the Akkan, it is this ability alone that makes the TEC have the best conventional answer to strike craft and corvettes, which depend upon a reduced chance to be hit for the bulk of their suvivability. Akkan + Garda Flak Frigates tear strikecraft and corvettes to pieces, even doing pretty well against bombers. Targeting uplink also allows Javelis LRM Frigates to outrange... well... pretty much everything. The Ogrov Torpedo Cruiser is the best anti-structure unit in the game, bar none, and should be used if you are in a hurry, but if not in a hurry, Javelis' + Akkan is a better investment since it can also target ships. Targeting Uplink also greatly improves the usefulness of static defences by granting them larger coverage, essential for getting the most out of flak turrets on hangers. In short, EVERY border world should have an Akkan, separate from the main fleet, with Targeting Uplink as soon as you can afford it, to supplement the range and accuracy of the static defences.
Finally, Ceasefire, on level 6+ Akkans is amazing. It renders ships, yours and the enemy's, invulnerable and negates jump drive inhibitors. It can be used to bypass enemy defences or to escape from a losing battle. When attacking a heavily defended gravity well that I may not be able to win quickly, I won't send my high level Akkan into the fight. It hangs back, at the edge of the origin gravity well, and only jumps in to use Ceasefire if needed or when the battle is winding down and I'm winning. I do this because once an Akkan is level 6, it doesn't need to get higher (it's nice, of course, but not necessary to level it up further) and even the AI, the AI!, is good at prioritizing fire against a level 6+ Akkan. I'll have a lower level Akkan with the fleet for basic Targeting Uplink support. Under normal conditions Ceasefire should be used to avoid losing other capital ships. TEC has an advantage in gaining and maintaining high level capitals because it can render them (and all the rest of the fleet) immune if they start getting near destruction. Due to this, I, and apparently even pro players who don't like TEC overall, regard Ceasefire as the best ultimate ability in the game. Use it.
The Dunov Battlecruiser is my new favourite capital ship. The Kol is my old favourite capital ship and still has a very warm place in my heart, but the Dunov is almost too useful to use to it's full potential. For a long time, as I played Trinity, I saw the Dunov as primarily being used for Shield Restore, and found it to be lacklustre. I used EMP Burst, too, of course, but I remember reading several people, pros, on this forum declaring that Magnetize was a useless ability, so I never used it. I should know better than to believe things I read on forums (except for what I write, I'm always correct! ). Shortly before I bought Rebellion I started to really use the Dunov more, for Magnetize (a freakin' excellent ability, by the way) and now with Rebellion everyone acknowledges that EMP Charge is essential for TEC to fight Titans.
Shield Restore is okay, but as detailed waaaaaay up at the beginning on this post, for TEC the most important part of shields is the mitigation and they don't need points for that to apply, so Shield Restore is only worth bothering with if there's nothing else for the Dunov to be spending antimatter on or if there's a ship that you absolutely need to keep alive (but that's why you have Ceasefire, right?). I usually put a point into it, then leave it for further upgrading to the end.
EMP Charge is overpowered. There, I said it. It is. Okay, maybe not if you only have one Dunov, but who only has one Dunov? I never have less than three with my battle fleet once I can afford them. EMP Charge drains antimatter and strips shields... over an area of effect. Talk about ruining an Advent fleets' day. In Trinity, this became my secondary ability on the Dunov, in Rebellion it's the primary and always first to get an upgrade point, because it is essential for combating Titans (and Advent fleets). One Dunov is not sufficient, but three mid-level or two high-level ones can keep a Titan drained. By the way, a Dunov will use this ability by default on whatever target it is attacking, so once you have the Dunovs in range of the enemy Titan, tell them to attack it then set EMP Charge to autocast (and then reissue the attack order if you don't want a brief delay) and you can ignore them for the rest of the battle (unless you want to use other abilities or spread the EMP love around a bit).
Magnetize is NOT an anti-strikecraft ability. It's actually a capital ship (AND starbase) ability disable that just happens to drag enemy strikecraft out of the 'air' and slam them into the target ship as a nice secondary benefit. At level 3, Magnetize's cooldown is the same length as the effect, which means that as long as the Dunov has antimatter, it will keep the target's abilities locked down. It doesn't work on Titans, sadly, but it's still very useful for breaking enemy ability synergies, which is important for TEC fleets to have a fighting chance. One of my Dunovs always prioritizes Magnetize over EMP Charge, and it's the secondary ability I work on for the others. Love this ability, and you don't need the fourth level, so if you get a Dunov high enough to take it, don't... use the point on something else.
Flux Field is the answer to the most pressing of the TEC factions weaknesses. By reducing antimatter costs for non-ultimate abilities in an area of effect by 300% ... okay, stop right there... someone really needs to have a word with Ironclad about how percentages work, seriously. Obviously it doesn't reduce the cost of abilities by anything that a normal person would consider to be 300% (excepting maybe some of the folks I grew up with in rural Indiana who couldn't understand percentages to save their lives). Suffice to say that it makes abilities cost a LOT less antimatter to use. This makes abilities like the Kol's Gauss Rail Gun or the Akkan's Ion Bolt or the Dunov's own abilities, able to be used again and again without running out of antimatter while the Flux Field is in effect. At level one, it lasts a full minute, but takes three minutes to recharge. Good thing you have three Dunovs, right? And because you have multiple Dunovs, which should all be levelling up at the same rate, once you get the ability on all of them, you don't need to use the upgrade point to make it level two, which just makes the effect last longer. That's another point that can go something else.
Ideally a level 10 Dunov ends up with 4 levels of EMP Burst, 3 levels of Magnetize, 2 levels of Shield Restore, and 1 level of Flux Field.
A brief aside
Before discussing the Kol, Marza, and Ankylon, I want to mention that one of the advantages of playing TEC Loyalists defensively and emphasizing culture research is that culture research increases the rate of antimatter regeneration inside your own culture. Even without Flux Field, you should not experience an antimatter shortage when fighting on your home turf. This is especially true with Twin Fortresses, as at least one of your two defensive starbases (if not both) should have two upgrades committed to Docking Booms, which is an ability for the Argonev that lets it repair ships and refill antimatter in a large area of effect WITH NO TARGET CAP. Every ship, starbase, and structure in the area of effect gets the benefit and the repair rate stacks with Hoshikos, Repair Bays, and the other starbases' Docking Booms (if applicable). This keeps repair bay and hanger antimatter filled, keeps ships using their special abilities, and helps everything stay alive longer. Two starbases with docking booms, plus a repair bay and a hoshiko repairing a target can achieve an incredible 90 hull points repaired/second. You can't kill a starbase, gauss turret, repair bay, or capital ship that is experiencing that. If it happens to be the Ankylon, and it's using Furious Defense, it can go from nearly dead to full health again so fast it'll take your breath away (a Kol using Finest Hour is almost as impressive).
Ah... the Marza Dreadnaught and the Kol Battleship. Let's start with the one everybody likes: the Marza Dreadnaught. Well first, let's put it out there, without considering abilities the Marza has more focus fire damage potential than the Kol. It's a killer. The weak point is that, among the TEC capital ships, it's fairly fragile. It has less armor, hull points, and shields than the Kol and any player worth their salt, and even the AI, will focus fire on it as a top priority. It can be hard to keep a Marza alive in a pitched battle. That said, it's still a TEC ship and with the armor and hull upgrades you should be doing, it loses a lot of its fragility as the research gets done. I've seen pros talk a lot about the benefits of Raze Planet and the uselessness of Incendiary Shells, let's consider the abilities and see if we come to same conclusion, shall we?
First up, Radiation Bomb. The in-game description lies. The effect lasts 25 seconds, not 5. What happens is the area of effect is refreshed every five seconds in an area around the original target, so other ships can escape (or wander into) the AoE. The AoE damage is reduced by shield mitigation and armor, but it's still 'free' damage. It does higher initial damage to the target ship, not as high as Gauss Rail Gun on the Kol, but you get the area effect damage over time to compensate. It's a good ability, I don't think anyone would argue.
Raze Planet. Yes, it will destroy a planet pretty quickly. However, if you haven't already figured out, I advocate for the TEC Loyalists to defend for much of the game and then go on the offence with a large fleet containing many capital ships. A half dozen capital ships + the Ankylon, or more, will bomb a planet to oblivion pretty quickly without needing this ability. So this ability isn't really that useful. For TEC Rebels it may be a different story, but for Loyalists it's superfluous in my opinion. The only endorsement that could be made is that it's more useful than Incendiary Shells. I've seen this opinion expressed several times, but is it true?
Incendiary Shells. Well, the listed damage/second is awfully low, only 6.9/second at level four. So I suppose folks could be forgiven for thinking it's weak. In actual fact, the damage inflicted ignores shield mitigation and armor and stacks up to three times. That means that, at level four, this ability inflicts 6.9x3x15 damage with no reduction. That's 310.5 bonus damage over 15 seconds. Given how the Marza's guns are laid out, it will end up applying to two targets, so 621 bonus damage, split over two targets. And it's a passive ability - no antimatter cost. And of course it stacks with Radiation Bomb. Gee, that really doesn't sound useless to me, but maybe I'm a noob and don't know it.
Missile Barrage. Rebellion nerfed this ability. The range was reduced and the damage done for the first level was reduced by 20%. It's still a really nice ability though, and why the TEC Loyalists don't feel the lack of a great damage Area of Effect ability on the Ankylon. Some people complain that they still have to rely on the Marza. I suggest that the Ankylon doesn't have a super AoE effect precisely because TEC Loyalists already have the Marza. 120 damage every second to every target in range for 25 seconds (150 damage at level two) makes this the king of capital ship area of effects. It does immobilize the Marza and it can be interrupted or run away from. Interruption is the big concern, running away not so much, since a fleet that's moving is a fleet that isn't shooting much or well and gives the rest of your own fleet time to get free shots in. I have a habit of NOT phase jumping my Marzas in with the rest of my fleet to a battle. I let the furball begin before bringing in the Marzas, make them fire Radiation bombs and then hit Missile Barrage. This gives my Dunovs time to EMP all the shields down and/or Magnetize any ships that could interrupt the Marza's channelling with their own abilities. Note, I said Marzas, not Marza. This ability really, really, really shines if you can double up on it.
I don't train Marzas early, which is sacrilege, I know, but I personally feel it's better to get the Dunovs first. TEC Loyalists can afford to buy levels up to level 4, which makes it pretty quick to level up to 6. One big battle should do it and then there isn't a frigate/cruiser fleet that can resist your onslaught.
As you may have guessed, I tend to put two levels in Missile Barrage and four each in Incendiary Shells and Radiation Bomb, completely missing out on Raze Planet. Iconoclast, I know. It gets worse...
Ah, my beloved Kol Battleship, much maligned and misunderstood. I stand by the belief that there's a reason the Kol is the official mascot of Sins of a Solar Empire, gracing the cover of the original game. Even the people who put it down will say things like, "Well, it's great after it gains some levels, but early on it's useless, don't build it." Excuse me? What TEC capital ship, other than the Akkan or maybe the Sova, isn't nearly 'useless' at level 1? That's why you can buy levels.
The Kol is incredibly durable, even without Adaptive Forcefield, and if you have been investing in the hull point and armor upgrades, it becomes extremely difficult to kill. That is perhaps the understatement of the year. It becomes so difficult to kill, in fact, that I often don't bother to use Adaptive Forcefield, which is a significant savings on antimatter. It can shoot in all directions and target several independent targets. My Kols are always in the thick of the fight. Yes, that's right. Kols. Plural. More than any other ship the Kol benefits from having multiple copies on the field, creating a wall of death and interlocking fire and absolutely devastatingly murderous focus fire on hard targets. Especially if backed up by a couple Marzas and preceded by the Dunov's EMP Charges. Throw in some Cielo Command Cruisers and 50 Javelis LRF Frigates and you'll be saying, "Hey, wasn't there a Titan/Starbase/Bunch of capital ships there a moment ago?" Who says the Advent are the masters of synergy?
Okay, with a little less hyperbole. TEC have a damage output problem. The Rebels get around this spectacularly with the Ragnarov Titan, but the Loyalists don't get that. As already pointed out, the Marza has great, possibly even underrated, damage potential even without Missile Barrage, but the damage from Radiation Bomb and Incendiary Shells are damage over time and sometimes you need to kill something fast, either to stop your target from inflicting damage on your own fleet, to kill it before it recharges an ability, or to overcome a high repair/regeneration rate. Gauss Rail Gun is the answer.
Gauss Rail Gun. Yes, the damage is reduced by shield mitigation and armor. Yes, it sucks antimatter. Yes, the Kol has an antimatter problem. All that admitted, at level 2 (which is what a level 3/4 Kol, ie. a 'fresh' Kol, can have) it supplements the Kol's already impressive firepower by 670 every 6 seconds. By the time Kols are joining the fleet, at least some of the antimatter research upgrades should have been done, the armor and hull point research should be well on its way (so you can do without Adaptive Forcefield), and the cultural research should have been done, increasing antimatter regen in your own culture. With luck, you also have a Dunov with Flux Field. The point is, at home, the Kol should not run out of antimatter, even chain-firing Gauss Rail Gun. On the attack, it should still be able to fire it quite a few times. Multiple Kols focusing on one target, using this ability, will tear anything apart quickly. VERY quickly if a Cielo is Designating Target (and Cielos should be joining the fleet in numbers about the same time as Kols). THIS (plus EMP Charge, of course) is the TEC Loyalist answer to enemy Titans, not the Ankylon (although it should be there, too, doing what it does).
Flak Burst. Suffers from opportunity cost, levels put into it are levels not put into something else. Fortunately, while the first level isn't that impressive, since I recommend having three or four Kols in the late game fleet, they can all take the first level and collectively clear the skies very easily. Strictly speaking, though, TEC has no shortage of solutions to strikecraft spam. As already mentioned Gardas supported by an Akkan are great (and since they also do decent damage to long range frigates and support cruisers, it's a good idea to charge a bunch of them into the middle of the enemy fleet, they're durable and they will prioritize enemy strikecraft, but when they have free guns they'll tear up support cruisers) and the Dunov's Magnetize ability, which you should be using on something in the enemy fleet most of the time, will also do its part (and has the advantage of inflicting 25 damage for every strikecraft it makes slam into the target, by the way). Finally, every TEC fleet should have CAP - that's combat air patrol, ie. fighter strikecraft of it's own. With all the capitals, there's a lot of room for fighters there, and having a flotilla of Percheron Light Carriers loaded with fighters is always a good idea. I know this is the discussion of Flak Burst, but I can hear readers saying, "But Bombers are better than Fighters!". Maybe, but the TEC bomber is a bit of a dud. It's more important to protect your own fleet from enemy bombers, you have other ways of killing things. Like all the Kols we're discussing.
Adaptive Forcefield is both very useful and superfluous. If you take levels in it and leave it on autocast, it will turn on any time the Kol takes even a small amount of damage. Unless the Kol is under heavy focus fire, this is a major waste of antimatter, and unnecessary because you've been doing the armor and hull point upgrades, right? It's still worth putting points into, however, because there are times when your Kol(s) may come under heavy fire from phase missiles, at which point it will save your ships. It also stacks with Group Shield from the Ankylon which can make for some interesting assassination raid options, allowing a group of Kols and the Ankylon to survive heavy engagements they have no right surviving. So not a useless ability, but something you want to give more thought to when to use than I think a lot of players do.
Finest Hour. Even critics of the Kol will often admit that this is one of the strongest abilities of any capital ship in the game. Hull repair, antimater regeneration, ability cooldown bonus, and splash damage on every weapon (with a 1000km splash area per primary target) for 60 seconds at level one, 75 seconds at level two. It restores twice the antimatter it costs, making it better than 'free', provided you can afford the initial activation. A single Kol with this ability active (and chain-firing Gauss Rail Gun) will tear almost any other capital ship in the game apart and do a fair amount of area effect damage all around itself. I advise having three or four Kols who should all hit level 6 at more or less the same time... Combine this with EMP Charge, Radiation Bomb, and Missile Barrage and enemy fleets evaporate.
In the final analysis, the Kol does have some research prerequisites (antimatter, hull, armor) to really shine, which makes it a late game ship, but what a ship! Also, if you're doing autogun upgrades to improve the Garda, like I suggested, they also substantially improve the Kol's already formidable damage. I firmly believe that the TEC fleet, and especially the Loyalist fleet, is designed to be large and full of capital ships in the late game, and Kols are the heavy hammer of that fleet. They have outrageous focused damage output (with Gauss Rail Gun) and are also capable of spreading the pain all around them, especially with Finest Hour. To top it off, they can supplement the fleet's strikecraft suppression ability. Deployed in numbers, they're scary effective.
This is where some of the pros may be inclined to howl, "But if you have too many capital ships they don't level up fast and higher level enemy caps will eat you for lunch, NOOB!" To which I have two responses:
First, a bunch of mid-level capital ships will defeat a small number of high-level capital ships, especially when at least half of those mid-level ships are battleship class (Kols and Marzas). Mid-level capitals can be purchased, and the TEC Loyalists can afford them. If the TEC Loyalist player is skilfully using his culture and his Novaliths to suppress his enemy's economy, then he can easily win the capital ship arms race over time.
Second, a question: how is the hypothetical enemy getting those higher level caps? I'm playing defensive, remember? They need combat experience to level up their ships, and to do that requires attacking me and attacking a good TEC Loyalist defence is suicidal. It'll level up MY ships; it will kill theirs. The reason being that between Ion Bolt, Gauss Rail Gun's movement debuff (did I forget to mention that... oops!), and the movement and turn rate debuffs from the Shriken Corvette (which I will bring into the fight at the midpoint) their important ships are not leaving my gravity well alive. If any do get out, my corvettes and possibly my Ankylon and Kols are going to follow them home and finish them off. If an enemy comes to a skilled defensive player's TEC Loyalist gravity well at any point after the early game they had best conquer or die.
Next (and final?) entry will consider the essentials of a good TEC Loyalist defence, total fleet composition, and the hagiography of the Ankylon. But I need to take a break and start with a clean slate, this entry is too long!