Early Game Transport
This is a companion piece to the one on missile boats.
Early game transports want to be frigates, so that you can
build them anywhere.
The most convenient size of ground force in the early game
is an experienced corps. Therefore, you want a pair of these
frigates to have four tport pods between them (each transport
pod carries 4 units, and an experienced corps is 16 units
A ground force smaller than a corps is generally insufficient
to take out even the militia on a reasonably new enemy colony
with any surety.
The cost savings for stripping off armor may look attractive,
but it is not. When one of these ships blows up, you lose
the production cost of the troops on board, as well. So, when
designing transports, put on your best defenses; heaviest
armor, large shield generator if you have it.
Speed provides some additional defensive advantages, but
you'd rather have a large shield generator. A speed of 250
Early in the game, fighters are the chief threat to your
transports, other than missile bases. You're probably better
off with point defense guns, rockets or interceptors than
with speed. A single point defense volley can be extremely
useful, but be careful not to order your transports to fire
it at the enemy planet (because they will).
If you put decent armor on them and can convince the AI not
to sit around while enemy fighters grind the tports to powder,
they are fairly survivable. However, an enemy planetary missile
volley will always reduce one of your task forces. Therefore,
you should ALWAYS bring an extra tport taskforce, beyond the
number you need, when attacking an enemy planet.
I generally wait to get some physical sciences before I actually
attack someone, but if I were going to start gearing up on
turn 1 this is what I'd field:
Zortrium Light Armor
2 Troop Pods
6 Point Defense Nuclear Warheads
combat speed: 250