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 battle against the Ur-Quan Hierarchy, as well as the massive Earthling industrial base centered on the Detroit Shipyards, which turned the Earthling Cruiser from a mere annoyance in the early days of the war to the Ur-Quan Heirarchy, into the ship of the line or "Backbone" of the Free Stars fleet 1. Unlike their decision regarding the Syreen, the Ur-Quan destroyed the entire Human fleet as well as every database used for constructing 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's poor acceleration and top speed leave much to be desired. However, this ship turns very quickly.
The Cruiser's primary weapon earned humanity quick respect during the War. These long range "fire-and-forget" nuclear missiles were based on the Peacekeeper missiles of the Cold War. While these weapons are quite primitive by Ur-Quan standards, the number that were stored in Earth's Peace Vaults after Humanity's various wars nevertheless came as a pleasant surprise to the Alliance. Nuclear missiles can travel over a very long distance and correct their trajectory to follow enemy movement. Unless the weapon can be shot down or cunningly evaded, the power of the atom will be unleashed on the enemy ship. Each missile strike inflicts four damage.
The Cruiser's alternate weapon is a short range point-defense laser system that is based on mid-1980s SDI "Star Wars" missile defense technology. It fires a laser at each enemy ship, projectile, asteroid, or other object within close proximity to the Earthling ship. Each laser hits for a single point of damage. The point-defense laser suffers from a long firing delay, making it a poor choice for short range combat. It is a situational utility weapon more than anything else.
The Cruiser was made to fight at long range. It is a slow ship, but in most circumstances the limited mobility which it does possess should be used to maintain distance for as long as possible. The Leyland Gravity Whip can often be of tremendous help when stalling for time. The Cruiser's rapid turn rate allows it to Pillbox effectively. Pillboxing is most beneficial against high mobility, low firepower adversaries. It is otherwise better to be on the run if the opponent does not meet that description.
A nuclear missile can potentially whirl back around and hit the Cruiser that launched it while seeking a hostile craft. Incoming friendly fire is fortunately quite rare and can be prevented by the point-defense laser. Aside from that, missiles do not require much aim or forethought to use effectively.
The point-defense laser's most common purpose is to shoot down asteroids in the Cruiser's flight path. Because the Cruiser has such terrible acceleration, it usually cannot afford to be knocked off course by one of these. The laser is also effective at wiping out subsidiary enemy craft and can provide a limited degree of protection against smaller projectiles.
- If the point-defense laser and nuclear missile launcher are activated at the same time, a missile will launch without being shot at by the laser. However, the Cruiser's energy banks will drain as if both weapons had been used. The laser will shoot down outgoing missiles if activated immediately after a missile has launched.
- The point-defense laser will always consume four energy regardless of how many targets it fires upon.
- 1 - Star Control: Scenario description for "Target Earth" from the Genesis port
"The Earthlings, at first a minor annoyance for the Hierarchy, have become an increasingly serious threat. Mass-produced Cruisers deployed from the Detroit ship yards have become the backbone of the Alliance fleet."