Originally Posted by kennfusion
I have found some interesting ways to use frigates so far, and I tend to have more of them in a battle than anything else. Frigates are best at specialized roles, and you have to give them detailed orders. So for instance I have a frigate Shield Breaker ship. Long Range shield breaker missiles set to assist other ships that are attacking, and because I have them with only long range weapons, I can order them to stay at max distance of their firing range. I also like EMP frigates who are also ordered to stay at their max range, but primary role is to attack any ships firing on my cruisers.
I'll add that the frigate's ion cannon is an utterly devastating weapon. It just needs a little help busting through tough armour, maybe exceptionally tough shields, and it will absolutely shred a cruiser to pieces.
Also, if you go rebel, you can build radically fast frigates which are very difficult to hit. They won't have as much punch or durability as other frigates, but against the right target they can dance around enemy fire and whittle them down by attrition.
Really, specialized roles are pretty much the way to go for any ship class. I typically deploy two kinds of cruiser, a linebacker to absorb lots of punishment and slug things out close range and a glass cannon that keeps well back from the fray and bombards long range. For fighters I deploy either ultra-fast nuisances which are too fast to be killed without a tractor beam but don't do much damage or interceptors optimized to neutralize enemy fighters (I've tried, but never successfully deployed torpedo bombers).
You can build a versatile ship in order to save yourself design time, but a fleet of generalists will lose to a fleet of specialists, and when design is the point of the game, why avoid it?