After seeing some cringeworthy decisions made by "pro" Vasari players in some replays posted here, I'm going to share my bits of knowledge experimentation in fighting with and against the Orky. I posted a bit of this in the giant mythbusters thread, but I think a separate thread is worthwhile for the Vasari mainstay weapon.
Upgrades and tanking capability
What we know (I've numbered the paragraphs so we can more easily refer to them in the subsequent discussion if necessary; feel free to post your own experiments filling any gaps, especially at the high end of the upgrade spectrum):
U1) An upgraded Orky can handle 30 Disciples (survives a bit with under 1000 hp), but dies to a flock of 40 with 24-28 Disciples surviving.
U2) An Orky with one health upgrade (6K hull, 3.5K shield) survives with around 2500 hull left vs 40 Disciples. It dies however to 50 with 22-24 Disciples remaining, and to 60 with 33-40 Disciples remaining.
U3) An Orky with one health upgrade and one gun upgrade (the purple anti-structure beams) can handle 50 Disciples with 1.3K hp remaining, but dies to 60 with about 28 Disciples surviving.
U4) An Orky with two health upgrades (9K hull, 5K shield) and no gun upgrades can handle 60 Disciples with ~3.8K hp left, but dies to 70 with about 28 Disciples surviving it. (The last part surprised me a fair bit, I might have to retest that one.)
Anyway, from U3 and U4 you can see that if the enemy fleet is going to be a concern, the purple beams are a pretty bad investment, unless you have tons of money and you built it somewhere where the enemy has a ton of expensive structures (certainly way more than 3 extractors and one turret, which is what I've seen a "pro" buy this upgrade to deal with, only be short of funds soon thereafter and lose another Orky in a nearby system for lack of any upgrades.) The two hull upgrades improve anti-shipping capability a lot more than the purple beams do.
U5) An Orky with two health upgrades, no gun upgrades and two levels of general hull upgrade research (10% or so resulting in a bit over 10K hull for the Orky -- this costs extra less than half of another full health upgrade) still dies to 70 Disciples but with only about 12 of them remaining.
U6) An Orky with three health upgrades (12K hull, 6.5K shield, but more notably an armor of 15 [from 12 at the previous level]) and no gun upgrades can handle 80 Disciples, although its health dips under 1K hull during the fight. (For those not so well versed in the damage equation, an armor of 15 means only 10% damage taken post-full-mitigation and post-armor, whereas an armor of 12 takes 16% real damage in the same circumstances, so the 12 to 15 armor increase reduces actual damage taken by about a third...)
U7) An Orky with all 4 health upgrades (including the ultimate/1.5x-costly one, so more like 4.5 upgrades), plus two ranks in the general hull research, so at 18.5K hull, 8.75K shield, armor 19.5 (!!) still dies to 120 Disciples, which I've upgraded to +20% lasers, +20% shields and +10% hull (stuff you can buy with 2 labs), as to be more realistic for an early mid-game stage. About 60-62 Disciples survive. If instead you buy 3 health upgrades and two in weapons (so you get the phase missile launchers, with a total cost comparable to the uberhull tested previously) it still dies to 120 upgraded Disciples and about 69-72 of them survive. So these two combos (4.5+ hull or 3/2 hull/weapons) are about equally [in]effective vs. a fleet. A tighter bound on the survivable number of Disciples is yet to be determined experimentally for these mid-level Orky's, but I guess it's less than 100 upgraded Disciples.
U9) Finally: 7 upgrades with 2 ultimate ones (health & weapons, so at the cost of 8 standard upgrades) trounces the 120 semi-souped-up Disciples, and the Orky's health only dips under 5K hull. (We need a test with only 6-6.5 upgrades as well, so I left a gap on purpose in the numbering.)
Maneuvers guide (preliminary)
Please refer to the 3rd post https://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/454588/page/1/#3469171 for now.
To be continued...