The Bulk Cruiser is available to the majority of factions, and yet, it seems mot people snub their noses at it. Today I am here to present to you why you should reconsider this hidden gem.
The major issue (and really only weakness) I see with the Cruiser is how weak its shields and hull are. Sometimes it feels like you can sneeze at the thing and have it fall apart. The closest ship to this is the Aclamator, with much more firepower, more snub fighters, and much better shields. It would be a logical claim that the Acclimator is the objectively better ship. And I would agree, if your using both in a front-line cruiser role.
However, once you ignore the name of cruiser and use it as a carrier, the Bulk meets its full potential. "But the Acclimator has more total snub fighters, so its a better carrier too" I hear you say. My counter argument to that is the QUALITY of the Bulk fighters outlasts the total QUANTITY of the Acclimators.
The Acclimator has an armament of 2 turbo lazers, 2 quad turbo lazers, and 2 pron torpedo launchers with a load-out of 3 tie fighters and 1 tie bomber (with about 2 ties fighters and 1 tie bomber in reserve). These are great as micro star destroyers and are highly cost effective.
The Bulk has 3 turbo lazer batters (one being a quad if the animation is correct), two ion cannons, and two lazer cannons. Both are about the same price point (1500 credits). Examining the fighters though is where things get interesting...
The bulk contains 1 bomber, and 2 (for lack of a better term) elite fighters.
The Zinj bulk has 2 tie rapotors
The Maldrood Bulk has 2 tie avengers
NR, 2 X Wings
CSA 2 T Wings
So basically, NR and CSA Bulk comes with 3 bombers and Zinj/Maldrood comes with 2 space superiority fighters that are really hard to kill. Because of the cheap cost of Bulks, they operate best in packs of 3 or more, hiding behind front-line ships, providing supporting fire, zapping shields with the ion cannons, and shooting down fighters with the lazer cannons. This gives you acess to either 9 bombers, or 3 bombers and 6 interceptors that CHEW through most snub fighters. VS an Aclimator with the (lets be honest) garbage ties that would get destroyed by the quality the Bulks bring in.
In my experience, early game fleets composed of maybe 1 or 2 capital ships (or really tanky cruisers) supported by a swarm of Bulks and a handful of AA gunships (Correlian Corvette/IPV/ect) are one of the most cost effective fleets that can be run until your economy can support more specialized vessels.
Typically, I use the AA as a pathfinder, then deploy the tanks in front (they don't need to be good on the offense, just GREAT defense), with the Bulks about a ship length or two behind them, and the AA on the flanks, behind the tanks. The fighter swarms deploy, and they bonzai rush any AA the enemy has (usually a swarm of bombers takes it out in one strafe with minimal losses), then destroy the shield generator, engines, and hanger bays (in that order) of the biggest threat ships. From there, the bombers continue to attack the high threat ships while the fighters focus on taking out the enemy star-fighters. If any enemy bombers get through, they are destroyed by all the lazers from the Bulks and AA. The Bulks also are great at taking out the suicidal enemy AA that like to rush your lines. By the time the enemy exchanges shots with my tanks, there crippled with no shields. Once appropriate, I move up the Bulks with 'power to weapons for the finishing blows. Any losses (usually there are none) are also super cheap to replace.
I highly recommend trying this fleet out to see for yourself. Ill also bet that a fleet of even numbers using the same tactic with Acclimaotrs against the same Bulk fleet would lose due to the previous argument of QALITY vs QUANTITY. I've cheesed through a CSA, NR, and ZINJ campaign mainly using this fleet on Admiral difficulty with great success (although I have yet to try 'cruel AI')
Bulks suck as front line cruisers, but are surprisingly good multi-role carriers.
Thoughts? Comments? Obligatory flame wars over ships?