The Earthling Cruiser is a vessel of happenstance. Humanity was brought into The Ur-Quan Slave War with almost no preparation. It was only their long history of proliferation that allowed this vessel to be so effective in the (ultimately losing) battle against the Ur-Quan Hierarchy. Unlike their decision regarding the Syreen Penetrators, the Ur-Quan destroyed the entire Cruiser fleet as well as every database for constructing the Cruisers. The notable exceptions to this destruction were the derelict Tobermoon drifting in Vela's Oort Cloud and copies of blueprint disks hidden by a former production assistant of the Detroit shipyards. It was these blueprint disks that allowed the recently formed New Alliance to manufacture Cruisers prior to the liberation of Earth.
The Cruiser is a rather slow ship with abhorrent acceleration that nonetheless somehow manages to spin like a top. The turn rate complements its weaponry well when pillboxing is the preferred tactic. If speed is needed, a healthy gravity whip can be a boon.
The Cruiser's primary weapon earned them quick respect in the Alliance. It's not terribly advanced, but with the number that were stored in Earth's Peace Vaults during (and before and after) Humanity's wars against itself they were a pleasant surprise to their allies and a devastating blow to their enemies. Based in part on the Peacekeeper missiles of the Cold War, the "Fire-and-forget" Nuclear Missile is a simple concept. Put the biggest explosive that a post-industrial nuclear society has on the end of vaguely competent tracking and navigation system; repeat several million times. This weapon has long range and can correct for significant variation in original trajectory and later enemy movement. Unless the weapon can be shot down (no mean task) or cunningly evaded, the power of the atom will be unleashed on the enemy crew. Each missile strike kills four crew members.
Use of the missile does carry a certain amount of risk. It is one of the few weapons in the game that can strike the ship that launched it. Fortunately, this is a rather rare occurrence.
The Cruiser's alternate weapon is a very short range point-defense laser system, killing one crew member per hit, based on mid-1980s SDI "Star Wars" missile defense technology. It fires lasers at all enemy ships, projectiles, asteroids, or anything else within a close radius to the Earthling ship. This system is highly effective against daughter ships like the Ur-Quan Dreadnought Fighter and Orz Nemesis Space Marine, as well as some weaker projectiles.
On occasions where both the primary and secondary buttons are pressed simultaneously, the point-defense laser can actually shoot down the Cruiser's own missile immediately upon launch.
The Cruiser is highly effective when used as a stand-off ship; it is capable of delivering punishing blows from great distances, and the auto-tracking aspect of its weapons makes aiming of secondary importance. The Cruiser can even defeat an Ur-Quan Dreadnought without taking a hit, as long as it can keep its distance. Its slow speed makes this easier said than done, however.
Unfortunately, the turning radius of the missiles can sometimes miss faster ships such as the Slylandro Probe. In some rare instances the missile can even go off course in such a way that it can hit the Cruiser that fired the missile. Very high-speed ships like the Pkunk Fury can deliberately take advantage of this, but not so easily as against a Mycon Podship
Against the Druuge Mauler, the Cruiser can exploit the Mauler's slow speed and turning rate, making it difficult for the Mauler to dodge the auto-tracking missiles. The same tactic also works when up against a VUX Intruder.