Let individual gunships use multi-shot attacks when engaging certain unit types, targeting multiple units per combat round in exchange for reduced damage. This would improve their performance against basic jumpships (they're supposed to counter them, right?) and slightly improve high-tech gunships against low-tech planetary defenses without otherwise altering the playing field in any way. Jumpships would not have to be changed at all.
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Gunship | Current | Proposed Sirius | Gun R:5 D:60 | Gun R:7.5 D:60 / Multi-shot 2x R:5 D:15 Minotaur | Gun R:10 D:100 | Gun R:10 D:100 / Multi-shot 2x R:10 D:30 Hammerhead| Miss R:10 D:120 | Miss R:10 D:120 / Multi-miss 3x R:5 D:35 Cerberus | Gun R:10 D:75 | Gun R:10 D:75 / Multi-shot 3x R:10 D:20
Additionally it would improve the Sirius's currently pathetic performance due to short range and would give the missile-using Hammerhead a chance to actually do some damage to jumpships as long as the Hammerheads aren't overwhelmingly outnumbered. And hey, the Cerberus supposedly uses the TK10 Trident anyway, right?
Starcruisers can be made into a legitimately fearsome unit by giving them a "shield" ability that automatically reduces each individual incoming cannon-type attack by a fixed amount. This would move Starcruisers into a dedicated aggressive anti-gunship role, nerf explorer swarms, and make starcruisers less vulnerable to jumpship swarms (while still being unable to actually damage them). Starfrigates would slip into an anti-starcruiser/ anti-hypersonic or battlestation / general fire-support role without their stats having to be altered in any way! Jumpcruisers and battlestations would actually be worth building!
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Starfrigate | Per-attack cannon damage attenuation Victory | 30 Megathere | 50 Behemoth | 35 Typhon | 60
The nebular starcruisers live in a different tactical environment- they have shorter attack ranges, so they have to deal with defense cannons, and the low-tech nebular gunship uses strong missiles while the high-tech nebular gunship has a reduced-strength cannon. The low-TL starfrigate is also short-ranged. My suggestion would be to both give both classes enough attenuation to counter most or all defensive cannons; this which would also make the Behemoth totally immune to the Eldritch (unlike the Victory).
The Manta and Hammerhead already perform better than their starship counterparts against starcruisers (due to higher damage and missiles, respectively). With attenuation, the Cyclopses would be less effective against starcruisers since it has low damage, but would continue to excel against both gunship classes and be the only nebular ship with range>10. Consequently, starship and starcruiser roles would overlap more in nebulas and Hammerheads and Mantas would continue to be useful once the Cerberus and Cyclops become available.
Battlestation missiles should only be interceptable by starfrigate defenses. Jumpships and the Megathere shouldn't be able to intercept them (this isn't a big issue for jumpships anyway, since losing a few jumpships out of a big fleet to battlestation missiles isn't a big deal). Autocannon range should be increased to R:15 and armored constellation range should be increased to R:15 or R:20. Satellites should retain their current inability to fire on ships that are underneath them (orbiting at <R:5) and ships with high delta-vees should be more aggressive about trying to get underneath them and engage them from below.