- Hailstorm A: Countermeasures are always important. The lower size countermeasures have the most number of shots per ton, so even high level builds will sometimes sneak these in.
- Drac Armor D2-E, D2-V: These armors are some of the most useful light armors. You can never have too much evade, and never too much speed.
- Forsaken Plate Armor 1: Although the higher level armors protect better, sometimes these are all that will fit. I think Ballistic is the most useful of these (on all three levels), and Penetrative the least. Explosive is also nice for taking the edge off of splash damage.
- Hailstorm B, Phalanx 1: See above. Hail B adds 5% explosive resistance. Phalanx are critical for Drac Bases, Forsaken Missions, and High level mines.
- Drac Armor D3-E: D3 is a great value for build time. The E is much more useful than the T, N, and U on this tier.
- Forsaken Plate Armor 2: Useful, especially with ships that have good resist already.
- Hailstorm C, Phalanx 2: See above. Hail C is controversial, since it is double the weight of the Hail B, but adds only one more shot. But if you need the very best protection... can't beat it. Don't forget the extra Explosive Resist.
- Drac Armor D4-M, C, X: Use D4 on the big ships when you need the protection. No E armor is available on this tier. You could go for the U if you're willing to wait.
- Compound Panels E: Decent on your front line base turrets
- Countermeasure 3: I love countermeasure ships. I might do an article explaining why someday soon.
- Shielded Electronics 3: Shrug off disrupters and such.
- Alloy Armor MC-3, CX-3, MX-3: Use MC-3 on Creeper & Drac base fleets, CX-3 on Blitz base fleets, and MX-3 on base guards (if no heavy plating).
- Depleted Uranium Shells 3: For that Javelin you are getting.
- Impulse Launcher D92U: ALWAYS GET THE NEW STUFF. These are going to be really useful - Missile range without a special, Shockwave damage. Mark my words - if you don't get these, you will be sad in 1 week. Even if you can't reach Tier 5... pick these up and put them on a Triton or Sawfish or something.
- Javelin: Yes, you want to join the Javelin club.
- Combustion System: Useful for mortar base guard ships.
- Maelstrom V: If you missed out on Infernos, these are next best.
- Forsaken Plate Armor 3: These skipped right over tier 3... sneaky Kixeye. Great armor for the weight and build time. Combine it with ships that have good resistances already. Maybe not the best value for the points though.
- Speed System 3: You might put this on every ship you build once you get it.
- Strike System 3: Exception to the above for missile hulls (MCX, Mercury)
- Phalanx 3: Controversial because the whole shots/weight thing, but the higher level Phalanx have higher accuracy. Pair em up with Countermeasures & Strike System, and you will shoot down so many incoming missiles.
- Vulture / Halo: not as sexy as the Javelin, but both of these base turrets have their place. Halos are obsolete compared to Brimstones, but if you don't have the Brimstone, the Halo is generally a step up from VMs. Vultures might be used to take advantage of the fact that many Hellstrike builds skimp on missile defense. Pair with Priority Targeting.
- Interdictor: Great FvF/Anti-sub ship even before the retrofits came out. Hasn't been as popular as the Stingray lately, but these can often hold their own against Rays. Load them with Assault B torps.
- Strike Cruiser: I still use a fleet of these, but I'm in the minority. The refits are exactly what this hull needed for explosives. Maybe only get these if you can afford the rep points for retrofits.
- Nuclear Cruiser: ALWAYS GET THE NEW STUFF. These are a great all around hull. Don't skip the Impulse Launcher if you get this hull... you will be REALLY SAD in 1 week. I think these will be as powerful as MCX were when they were first released.
- Vanguard: These are useful in the right situation, but you won't build many Vanguards. Fleet builds are often tricky, since you have to match the Vanguard with other ship types. If you don't already have a use in mind for this hull, it may not be your best choice. I would certainly recommend the Nuke & Impulse combo over the Vanguard.
If you have all that stuff above, well, get whatever you want... don't let me stop you, but I suggest you stay away from:
- S rockets: (EDIT: It was pointed out to me that these are actually more effective per ton than their sister rockets, and that they are worth it. After rechecking my numbers, I agree for the Assault Rocket S and the Siege Rocket S)
Although their stats are better than their sister versions, S rockets weigh twice as much too. Not worth it.
- Arc Missiles: When I hit a base, and I see Arc Missiles, the first thing I think is "This base is gonna die." I'm always right.
- Assault & Siege Torpedoes: What you really want is the Assault Torpedo B from Forsaken Missions. Take the Assault V only if you're desperate. Every time I use my Cat 3/Siege Torp Spectres, I wish I had them refit with Assault B.
- Blitz Drone Modules: Piranha Drones have their place, so do Siege Drones. I'm not sure what to do with these.
Me? I'm going for the Nuke Cruiser and the Impulse Launcher. After that I'm torn between Explosive Plate 3 and the Vulture.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!