I have been playing GC3 B4 a lot lately and tested the "Battleviewer" and fleet combat in general.
For that matter I would like to share my ideas, how to still keep it simple but make it better in general.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Starship size vs. value for the fleet (Size does not matter enough)
At its current state the difference between the different starship hull sizes does not matter enough.
Even though bigger ships have more HP and available space the difference is not significant enough.
In my opinion each ship size should double the effective firepower and defense capabilities.
This will make the higher hull class four times stronger than its predecessor.
As an example:
A small ship with a tier one shield and a laser would have 20hp / 12 attack / 20 shield
While a large ship with the same equipment would have 80hp / 48 attack / 80 shield
Of course you can also fit more on the bigger ship, due to more space on it, making it even stronger.
The values below are only meant as a simple example and would of course need tweaking and balancing.
Tiny 10hp 10 space offense x1 defense x1
small x2 hp 20 space offense x2 defense x2
medium x4 hp 40 space offense x4 defense x4
large x8 hp 80 space offense x8 defenes x8
huge x16 hp 160 space offense x16 defense x16
Station x32 hp Modules offense x32 defense x32
2. Ship Roles
I like the idea of ship roles. (Assault, Escort, Support, Carrier, Fighter, Bomber)
I have seen some role descriptions on ships, but i believe they are not actively used for anything yet.
Below a short summary of the roles how they should be.
Bomber could be replaced by "Assault".
Its funktion is focus on the biggest ship stick to it until it is destroyed.
Priority should be on biggest enemy assault role or carrier. Then go to the next lower hull size.
Fighter could be replaced by "Escort".
Its function is to protect the fleet from enemy bombers. After the enemy bombers are destroyed focus on fighters > small > medium > large and so on.
Escort role should protect the bigger ships aka attack smaller ships in the assault role first, but stay close to the ships you protect.
Escort roles should get weapon modifiers for higher rate of fire, but less dmg per shot. It should also be possible to spread damage over multiple targets if the firepower allows to destroy more than one target per turn.
Add a modifier that increases weapon damage and range, at the cost of rate of fire.
The ships in this role are good at hitting the biggest enemy ships but need protection against smaller targets.
Stay behind and use ECM/ECCM, Jammer, Support modules.
Stay behind and launch fighters and/or bombers to support the fleet as needed.
To keep it simple in ship design you should be able to build two kinds of carrier modules.
Assault Carrier module for bombers, 1 wing of bombers per module (3 bombers)
Escort Carrier module for fighters, 1 wing of fighters per module (5 fighters)
I understand that currently carrier modules spawn tiny ships with the most recent development in shield and laser technology.
The idea is good, because it takes away the micromanagement from the player or AI to fit individual ships and reproduce them in large quantities like it used to be for Sword of the Stars 2.
However the current implementation is overpowered, because the fighters fit one weapon of the same firepower as any other ship in the fleet.
With the implmentation of the proposed changes in Nr.1 the fighters would still be valuable, but could not inflict as much damage against larger targets.
This task should fall to bombers or assault role craft of any larger size.
I am sure that most have a picture of a carrier with lots of fighter craft in mind. Currently every carrier module supports 5 fighters I believe.
With multiple carriers in battle it can quickly overwhelm the engine.
My proposal would be to create a wing of 5 fighters per carrier module as opposed to 5 individual ships. It is a representation in the battleviewer anyway.
Also to make it feel more realistic you could make the fighter craft return to the carrier after each attack run for reloads. (Look at the fighters/bombers like a weapon system not as ships).
I believe from what I saw in the battleviewer each ship is able to only shoot at one target per turn.
Bigger ships need to be able to shoot at multiple targets (could also add a modifier to the roles eg. escort can hit 4 targets, assault only one).
Currently if you watch one carrier vs. one cruiser you see the cruiser shooting at one fighter per turn. That is also the reason why 10 fighters easily destroy a cruiser.
There is no bleed through of damage vs. defense.
In the example carrier vs. cruiser; the cruiser only shots at one fighter with multiple lasers.
The fighters shields absorbs all damage. Afterwards the shields show a negative value instead of 0.
In my opinion the damage that exceeds the shield should damage the ship immediately, destroying the fighter with one shot.
With the current implementation the cruiser defeats the defense of the fighter in one round and then needs a second round to destroy the target.
However it should also be possible to spread damage over multiple targets if the firepower allows to destroy more than one target per turn.
4. Fleet creation and Fleet size
Only an idea, but have you ever thought of a fleet creation screen where you could drag ships into role fields?
At creation of the fleet you can assign a fleet name and a role to all the ships participating in the fleet.
For example even if you have two of the same ship you can assign one to the escort and one to the assault role.
This way the roles are not depending on design but on what I want them to do.
The roles are meant only as a behaviour routine and as a combat modifier, simple but efficient.
This would add alot of flexibility without the micromanagement needs.
Please feel free to add comments and ideas.