Don't build more capital ships than you need. A common mistake by newer players (myself included) is to build a crapton of capital ships, however this is a bad idea as they are expensive, and the more capital ships you have in your fleet, the more xp has to be divided up, so the slower they level up. Remember the primary reason that you build a capital ship is for its abilities, shield/hull strength and firepower are a secondary concern. Capital ships are actually not worth the money you invest in them until higher levels, so you want to be able to get them there ASAP. I will rarely have more than 5 capital ships and a Titan in my fleet, as you really don't need more than this most of the time.
Don't just blindly Titan rush. Titans are cool, and very powerful, but they are an enormous investment early game, and your primary concern should be expanding to boost your economy early game, so that you can build enough ships to compete with your enemies.
Don't feed the enemy Titan. You should NEVER attempt to engage an enemy Titan unless you are certain you have the forces you need to completely destroy it. The reason for this is that Titans level up, and the more ships they destroy, the faster they level up. It is almost impossible to destroy a max level Titan that is used skillfully, unless you have a massive number of bombers, your own level 10 Titan, or in some cases both. Unlike Capital Ships, Titans RETAIN their levels after being destroyed, so you don't want to give it more xp than you have to.
Get trade ports up as early as possible. This goes for every faction, though each faction gets them with a different number of civic labs, TEC get them the earliest. Trade ports are absolutely the #1 biggest source of credit income you can get, as they scale infinitely. To maximize your trade income early on, only build trade ports along your best trade route, you can see what this is by hovering your mouse over your credit amount, it will be highlighted by a white line, it seems mostly to follow a straight line, and it does not seem to be able to run parallel with itself, so keep this in mind. For every trade port you build along this trade route, each trade port on the route will get a bonus to income, which stacks infinitely. Don't build trade ports at the expense of colonizing however, as tax income is your bigger income generator early on, and you need more planets to generate more trade income. Also remember to place starbases in neutral gravity wells where you can extend your trade route, as all factions get a trade port upgrade for their starbases (TEC gets the most powerful one though).
Take most capital ship and Titan abilities off autocast and use them yourself. The AI is really dumb about when to use these, you can do much better in most cases.
Rely mostly on Hangar Defenses and Repair platforms for defense. You should have a few turrets, but Hangar Defenses can strike at anything in the gravity well with their strike craft, and all of them have unique handy abilities. Also, group your defenses together on the most likely avenue of attack. It may seem like a good idea to spread them out, but your enemy is going to have to deal with your defenses one way or another if they want to take the planet, and its best if their effects are maximized.
Generally on dwarfs and asteroids i'll have 2 repair platforms, 3 hangar defenses, sometimes phase jump inhibitors and special faction unique structures, and the rest will be turrets. (note these numbers will not be the same for advent, as they can get a +10 tactical slot tech). On anything else that isn't a Desert planet, I'll have 4-5 (sometimes even 6) hangar defenses, 3 repair platforms, etc etc. Desert planets get the most logistic and tactical slots, and if you can find a high security protocol or weapons testing site on a desert planet, you can make very powerful fortifications indeed.
Starbases should be used sparingly, and to defend key choke points. Group them with your other defenses, to discourage direct attacking of them, as a fully upgraded starbase is a opponent for even a level 10 Titan, the weakness being that they are very expensive, and a starbase supported by a fully maxed out defense is suicidal to attack for anything but bomber spam, or massive fleets. I will cover specifics on good upgrades to have for each faction's starbase in their respective sections. Also remember you can deploy 4 starbases in a star's gravity well, which does not seem to be stated anywhere in game. (TEC Loyalists can deploy up to 5 with the Twin Fortresses tech), generally you'll want to get lots of strike craft in this case, since it allows the starbases to attack anything within the massive gravity well (this is less of an issue with the Orkulus, since it can move, but you should probably still do it anyway).
And yes, Revan, most of your strategy is sound, especially the colony cap first, and carrier second, this is the build order I use almost invariably. Personally I find starbases unnecessary quite as early as you use them, but I can definitely see where they would help.
The Advent are a race who have a collective consciousness (note: not the same thing as a hive mind), and as such they rely heavily on synergy in their fleets. The Advent have the weakest economy overall, but have the strongest culture (the loyalists blow everyone else away in this category). A fully developed and properly micro managed Advent "battle-ball" fleet, with all its abilities working together in synergy, is a truly fearsome opponent. However, to achieve its full effects, the Advent need a great deal of micromanagement, meaning there is a very large difference between how well a skilled advent player will fare vs a less skilled Advent player.
Perhaps the most notable non capital ship in the Advent fleet is the Iconus Guardian. This unique support ship has two very different, but also important abilities. One is shared damage, or something like that, i forget the name, but what it does is to redirect a percentage of the damage that nearby friendly ships take to the Guardian itself. Used properly, this can give a significant advantage to an Advent fleet, but you will want to rotate your guardians that use this ability, as this ability tends to do a great deal of damage to them in a large battle. The second is Repulsion, a very unique ability that literally pushes all enemy ships (with the exception of strike craft) away from the ship using the telekinetic powers of the Psintegrat aboard the ship. (note: this INCLUDES capital ships and Titans) They will be pushed to the outer most edge of the ability's radius, and will be pushed back if they attempt to enter the area again if the ability is still active. This ability requires an enormous amount of micromanagement, but used properly, and in combination with the Halcyon Carrier's Telekinetic Push ability (which performs a similar function, except for Strike Craft), this ability can easily turn the tide of a battle. For instance, one can cycle their Guardians so that the enemy fleet will consistently stay out of range, affording a skilled Advent player complete control over the battle. Alternatively, it can be used to keep a fleet in a certain area, or even keep them from reaching the point in the gravity well where they can phase jump, allowing you to turn a minor victory into a devastating defeat for your enemies. Be careful though, as the Guardian is not a capital ship, and thus will be very quickly destroyed by a fleet focusing fire on them, and a smart player (note: the AI is not smart) will know how powerful the Guardians are and will prioritize them.
For your progenitor motherships, USE SHIELD RESTORATION, this ability greatly increases the shield restoration/sec of all friendly ships within a certain range. It is the best thing ever early game and allows you to take on large militias with much smaller forces than would normally be possible.Please note however that it is chanelled, so do not issue any orders to the Progenitor while it is active or the ability will be cancelled prematurely.
Malice is another handy ability to have, and basically turns every attack into a weak AoE. Late game it is often a good idea to build a second Progenitor which will be focused entirely on combat abilities, rather than having some points in colonize, to amplify its already powerful effects. Note however that the restoration rate of 2 or more shield restoration abilities do not stack, so instead of using them at the same time, stagger them so that you have one activating when another shuts off, provided your fleet needs the extra shield power, that is.
I'm not really sure how its XP transfer ability works, but with a well developed Advent "battle ball" you will rarely need it provided you micromanage properly. If you do get it, I suggest leaving it on autocast... since I don't really know how it works.
The Advent Titans generally tend to be the most agile out of the Titans. They ,like the entire advent faction, rely primarily on Shields for defense. However the roles of the Loyalist and Rebel Titans are quite different.
Loyalist: Coronata Titan.
This Titan functions best in a support/damage dealing role with a large fleet supporting it. It has weak armor, but is fairly agile for a Titan and has some unique abilities to help it compensate for its weaknesses. Its abilities, in no particular order are:
Subjugation- This ability is a unique ability among ships, when activated, it reduces the overall damage output of the Titan as well as as draining antimatter with each shot. In exchange for this penalty, it gains a chance to convert enemy frigates (frigates and cruisers are both considered frigates by the game) with its weapons fire. As you level it up, the stat penalties on the Titan become smaller and smaller, allowing the Coronata to retain more and more of its combat prowess while subjugation is active. This ability can allow you to steal ships to fill gaps in your fleet, for instance you can steal the Vasari's powerful Serevun Overseer repair cruisers to use as replacements for the lackluster Domina Subjugator which the Advent use as their repair ship. Note that this ability DOES allow you to go over your fleet supply cap, so you may have to scuttle some of them if you want to expand your fleet using your own ships. Also of note is the fact that many of the ships' abilities may be missing, as the converted ship will use your research upgrades, rather than those of its native faction, which can sometimes alter the role and combat power of the ship. For this reason, the ability is probably most powerful when used against other Advent, as they will be able to retain most or all of their original combat prowess.
Suppresion Aura- This is considered by many to be the Coronata's most powerful ability, and with good reason. This ability is a passive that applies a max speed and weapons cooldown debuff to all enemy ships within its radius. The effect naturally becomes more powerful the more points you put in it. This means the Coronata weakens enemy ships simply by being present in the middle of a fight, which amplifies the already powerful fleet synergy of the Advent faction. This ability is always active once points are put in it (unknown currently if the Ankylon's disruption matrix will disable it, however it is a passive so it is quite possible it will not).
Unity Mass- This is a single target, channeled "beam of hatred" attack. This attack was made significantly more powerful in the recent 1.04 update. The way this ability works is that for each nearby friendly ship, the "hatred" of the enemy builds, increasing the damage of the attack for each friendly ship near the Coronata, up to a certain target cap, which is fairly high, after this target cap has been reached, no more damage will be added by additional friendly ships. This ability is a very powerful attack, best reserved for high priority targets like enemy capital ships, titans, or starbases. At high levels, this ability is very competitive with the longer ranged Snipe ability of the TEC Rebel's Ragnarov, which until it was buffed in 1.04, was considered to be the better ability. This ability performs better in the middle of a heated battle than Snipe, due to the extra damage from friendly ships partially making up for damage taken off by shield mitigation.
Repossesion- This ability is, well, unique. This level 6 ultimate ability allows the Coronata to instantly capture a hostile world, provided it is not a capital planet or artifact world. Planetary upgrades are not retained, but the fact that you do not have to bomb the planet is of extreme importance. Most importantly, this ability allows you to bypass the colonization loss prevention upgrades on starbases, and also allows you to colonize a planet regardless of enemy culture being present. The second rank lowers the cost somewhat, as well as adding a cost reduction to planetary upgrades for a certain period of time, similar to the Progenitor's colonize ability.
As with all Titans, the Coronata also has purchasable ranks which will increase its health/shield/armor, weapon damage, and ability cooldown/cost. These should be below the abilities in priority when upgrading, however.
Rebel: Eradica Titan
This Titan, as you had probably guessed from its name, is meant to eradicate the enemies of your Empire. To this end, it has a powerful array of offensive weaponry and abilities. Speed and armor/ health wise it is similar to the Coronata. The first thing you will probably notice about the Eradica in combat is its impressive number of beam weapons. The Eradica can target up to 10 ships at a time with these, allowing it to, well, eradicate frigates with ease. This Titan, unlike the Coronata, is not a support ship at all.
Its first ability is called Purification- this ability will destroy a single owned frigate, but in doing so will also absorb its remaining health/shields and antimatter. Upgrades reduce the cost, cooldown time, and increase the range. This ability synergizes well with its Strength of the Fallen ability, which we'll get to in a bit.
Up next is Chastic Burst. This is considered by many to be the most powerful Titan AoE (area of effect) ability in the game, and with good reason. This ability manifests itself as a burst of light, centered on the target ship. Every ship within range of the target ship will suffer a flat amount of damage, which is reduced by mitigation. There is no target cap on this ability, meaning it will affect an infinite amount of ships within range. At level 4, this ability deals a whopping 1115 damage to each target, before shield mitigation and armor. This combined with its fairly short cooldown allows a high level Eradica to annihilate an entire fleet of frigates with just a few uses, while also dealing respectable damage to capital ships and other more powerful units. Further, the Eradica does NOT have to be facing its target to use this ability, which means it can and will strike without warning. Used in combination with the Progenitor's Malice ability, the ability can cause even more damage to some of the targets. You should prioritize this ability for upgrades before all others, as it is extremely powerful.
Next is Strength of the Fallen. For every friendly frigate in range that is destroyed, the Eradica gains a stacking bonus to weapon damage, to a maximum of 5 times. A fairly straightforward ability, and works together well with Purification.
The Eradica's ultimate level 6 ability is called Unyielding will. This is a passive, and every time the Eradica falls below a certain percentage of its maximum hull, it gains a stacking bonus to damage reduction, ability cooldown rates, and antimatter restoration. Further, when the Titan reaches 0 health, it is not destroyed. Instead, its "spirit" lingers in the gravity well for several minutes, completely invulnerable, and with dramatically lower ability cooldowns as well as almost instaneous antimatter restoration. Anything that stays in the gravity well with an Eradica in this state for the full duration WILL be destroyed. You should never really intend to use this function of the ability, and it should only be something that you use when you have no other choice. If an enemy Eradica is at least level 6, and is about to be destroyed, you should get your fleet into a good position to retreat from the gravity well before destroying it, so that you can escape before it brings its otherworldly vengeance upon you. After the duration expires, the Eradica will explode as normal and will have to be rebuilt.
The Vasari are a very mobile, offensively oriented race as a whole. Their strength generally tends to be in reducing the capability of their opponents to fight back, while simultaneously using a powerful offense to crush their opponents. Early game, the Vasari have the best resource income for two reasons. First is the fact that unlike other factions, their scout ships can capture neutral extractors, instead of the slow, lumbering colony frigates that other factions use. Further, their resource extraction increases are bundled into one tech, instead of separated into two like all other factions.
For your Jarrasul Evacuator colony ships, USE NANO DISASSEMBLER, it completely bypasses shields and shield mitigation and is great for taking out weaker militia ships early on, and remains very useful all the way up to the end of the game against Starbases, Titans, and other Capital ships, and can be quite devastating if used in combination with the Kortul Devastator's level 6 ability, volatile nanites, allowing you to deal a much larger amount of damage than normal. Gravity warhead is a great ability to turn a minor victory into a decisive rout, as it has a small AoE that will disable the phase jump of all ships within range for a period, as well as slowing them down. Drain Planet is a very powerful planet bombing ability, which also has an economic function. It will give you a very nice amount of resources per second when draining an enemy planet. The colonize ability on the Jarrasul isn't really very good compared to the others, especially the Akkan's, but lets you build up a little faster.
The Skirtana Carrier is basically a force multiplier type of ship, it focuses on keeping other ships alive and bringing more ships into the fight. Don't bother getting Microphasing Aura, it sucks, repair cloud and scramble bombers on the other hand are amazing and make the Skirtana quite possibly the best all around capital ship, especially early game. Further, replicate forces allows you to well, replicate some of your forces for a period, and having more ships is rarely a bad thing.
The TEC are a very economic faction. They are described as an "awakening giant" military power. Their ships are almost exclusively civillian vessels converted into warships, and for this reason tend to be slightly weaker than their Advent or Vasari counterparts. The TEC make up for this with the best credit income in the game, bar none, thanks to their tier 2 trade ports and the very powerful Pervasive Economy tech. Further, their ships on average tend to be cheaper, and late game they get a very very powerful and expensive tech called Industrial Juggernaut, which increases their ship build rate by FIFTY PERCENT at rank 3. Combined with other smaller ship production increases, this means the TEC can produce ships almost twice as fast as any other faction. This combined with their slightly weaker fleet means that the TEC generally win by attrition, simply overwhelming their opponents with massive numbers, supported by their powerful economy.
Get the Akkan's colonize up to rank 3 ASAP, this way you can get all three extractors at a planet for no cost instantly (there are some planets with 4, but this is rare), you only really need 1 rank of ion bolt, as it is not really a very good disable, and is instead invaluable for interrupting abilities or phase jump chargeups, you can then choose how to spend points in targeting uplink and armistice however you please.
You can't really go wrong with what you choose for the Sova carrier, missile battery is essentially an extra Javelis LRM with a little less range and no mobility, but its free and can be deployed instantly. Heavy Strike Craft is a nice ability that allows your Strike Craft to compete with the more powerful Vasari Strike craft, as well as still maintaining their numbers advantage (Note that it counts ingame as a frigate, as such all upgrades will affect it). Embargo is a very powerful ability if used correctly, and before the introduction of Titans, a Sova Carrier rush with the 2nd rank of Embargo was considered extremely OP, since it could financially cripple your opponent, removing their ability to fight back effectively.
One thing you should never ever do is build a Kol Battleship. Despite its being the only dedicated warship in the TEC arsenal, it's pretty lackluster. It's durable, but not so much more durable as to make it a good ship, especially compared to the fearsome Vasari Kortul Devastator, which can hold its own against even upgraded Starbases. The chief problem with the Kol is that its abilities eat a crapload of antimatter, gauss rail gun, while dealing high damage, eats antimatter very quickly thanks to its short cooldown, adaptive forcefield isn't particularly good either until you get it to high ranks, and even then it still does nothing to help your fleet. Flak Burst is a decent ability in theory, but in practice against bomber swarms, the fact that it does damage uniformly means that it's only going to destroy large swarms of strike craft if you perfectly coordinate 2 or 3 kols using it at the same time. Finest Hour is a great ability, but it comes in very late, and you actually have to get the Kol to level 6 to even use it, and until then the Kol is just dead weight in your fleet. Finally, the Kol has very low DPS without its Gauss Rail Gun, it's clearly meant to be a tank, but its low firepower and lack of support abilities means that only the AI are ever going to attack it first.
On the Defensive, the TEC Loyals have it best. Militia armor and weapons are both quite powerful, and when combined with properly placed Twin Fortresses, a TEC Loyal planet is almost unassailable when fully developed. The "big red button" as it is called, or its proper name, Last Resort, is a VERY powerful ability available to the Argonev Starbase, which activates a self destruct on your starbase, destroying it, but also dealing immense damage to anything caught in the explosion. If you get this, get the second rank, as it vastly increases the range and damage. You should get this upgrade on worlds where you expect large enemy fleets to attack, so you can detonate the starbase after it has fought the enemy fleet for a while. Used properly, this ability can completely annihilate an entire fleet of ships, though at the cost of your starbase, for this reason it should be used wisely. Also of note is the fact that this ability damages your ships and structures as well, so again, use it wisely. (Generally, I'd take this off autocast, though I've found that the AI doesn't detonate immediately, and instead waits for health to get low, as it should). As with all starbases its a good idea to get at least 1 or 2 ranks of the health/shield/armor increase, generally I shoot for three. The Argonev can get 2 ranks of a trade port, as well as an antimatter/repair function which I have yet to use much, planning to start experimenting with it to see how good it is. Further, the Argonev has a completely unique function unlike any other ship or starbase, it can actually serve as a frigate factory. The first upgrade grants 75% frigate construction speed as compared to a frigate factory, and the next rank increases this to 175%.
Loyalist:Ankylon Titan- The Ankylon is difficult to destroy. VERY difficult to destroy. Unlike all other Titans, the Ankylon is focused more on supporting friendly forces than it is with annihilating the enemy (the Kultorask is supposedly a support ship, but it's not). As a result, the Ankylon packs considerably less punch than most Titans. Its weapons are still pretty powerful, but they are spread out along its hull, meaning the Ankylon does the most damage sitting in the middle of an enemy fleet, but this also means it suffers heavily against single targets. It lacks powerful offensive AoEs like most other Titans have, so it instead relies largely on the rest of your fleet to destroy the enemy. The Ankylon is very good at supporting that fleet however, with all but one of its abilities being dedicated to helping friendly ships survive, whether it be by hampering the enemy, boosting the effectiveness of friendly ships, or in the case of its ultimate ability, both. Despite this, the Ankylon is generally regarded as the weakest Titan, as most believe its relative uselessness early on (due to its abilities being weak until higher levels) combined with the fact that it takes so long to level up due to its low damage output makes it weak. Personally, I agree with this, though I still like the ship and think it is a good support vessel at higher levels, though not as good as I think it should be.
The Ankylon's first ability is called Disruption Matrix. This ability does a small amount of damage per second to all enemy ships in range for the duration, but this is not its main purpose. This ability's primary function is to disable the abilities of ALL enemy ships in range. As of 1.04, this even includes Titans, making the Ankylon the only ship in the game capable of directly disabling Titan abilities without draining their antimatter. Unfortunately, this does not disable the Kultorask's powerful Nano-Leech if it is already active (since it is not channeled), though I have pointed this out and I am hoping to see it changed in a future patch. This ability can help your fleet survive in a myriad of ways, as well as disabling powerful enemy defensive abilities to allow your ships to destroy them. This also synergizes well with the Ankylon's Group shield when both are at level 4, which I will get to later.
Next is the Ankylon's only non support ability, Furious Defense. This ability is quite simple, it raises the Ankylon's weapon damage and increases hull repair rates by a certain number depending on level. The effect is also considerably enhanced in its owners' own gravity wells, meaning the Ankylon is a much more dangerous opponent on its own territory, especially when combined with the Loyalist's Militia Armor and Militia Weapons techs. This ability more than anything else gives the Ankylon its reputation for being incredibly hard to destroy.
No 3 is Group Shield. This ability targets a single friendly ship in range, and then shields will spread out from that point to all other friendly ships within range, reducing the amount of incoming damage they take for the duration. Note that the tooltip for this ability is extraordinarily misleading. For example, rank 4 says it gives an 82% damage reduction, this is false. Instead, it allows friendly ships to survive for about 82% longer, the actual damage reduction is ~41%, which is still very powerful, but not nearly as much as it leads you to believe. Further, when at level 4, this ability lasts 45 seconds, and is usable again 15 seconds after that 45 seconds expires. Given that Disruption Matrix lasts for 15 seconds at rank 4, this means with some good timing, you can disable enemy abilities between group shields, which is particularly useful against AoE heavy ships like the Marza Dreadnaught or Eradica Titan, as it does not allow them to use their AoEs when group shield is down.
Finally, there is the Titan's ultimate ability, Inspire and Impair. This is an extremely powerful support ability which increases the fire rate of all friendly ships (excluding Titans, but including Starbases) in the gravity well as well as significantly lowering that of the enemy. This can quite easily turn the tide of the battle, allowing a small force to match a much larger one in terms of firepower. I do not know if this uses the same misleading percentage figures as Group Shield, but it is quite possible it does. Regardless, this ability is very powerful either way and should be used whenever it is prudent.
Again, as with all Titans, the Ankylon has upgrades to weapons, armor/hull/shield, and ability cooldown/ antimatter restore/etc.
Rebel:Ragnarov Titan- One word can sum up this Titan; firepower. The Ragnarov has the appearance of a giant gun in space with more guns attached to it, and this is likely not far from the truth. Even without its abilities, this powerful warship easily outguns any other ship in terms of raw firepower. The Ragnarov is not fast, maneuverable, or particularly durable (not for a Titan anyway, it is still much more durable than any capital ship). The Ragnarov focuses instead on destroying all opposition before the opposition can destroy it. Armed with a slow firing but extremely powerful rail gun as its main weapon (which does 1000 base damage per shot, though its damage per second, which is what Sins displays, is much lower due to its fire rate), it also boasts powerful Gauss cannons which do much less damage per shot, but fire much more quickly, most face forward but a few also face backward. It also has very powerful banks of autocannons which face to either side of the ship, as well as missile batteries and flak cannons on the rear of the ship.
Edit: Added info about TEC Titans, will finish Ragnarov some other time. I should probably separate this into mulitiple posts....