So onto the cruiser. These are the red headed stepchild of the fleet. They don't fit in, yet they have their place and uses.
So what do they do.....?
Well lets have a look at them from a fleet perspective. We have a capital class ship in an FSA fleet with no ordnance RB4 attack. So it cannot sit back and blast away with its main gun. The main gun, like all FSA is very powerful up close, is good at RB2 so cannot be discounted as a plus. ( As a capital class ship RB1 is misleading as you hit on a 5+) What about the rocket attack? Well we do have that but it is lost if we change its configuration and the Princeton gunship is better at it than the Lexington, main gun and rocket barrage. But what we do have is a very versatile ship, it can potter about shooting or it can be the attack dog of the fleet.
Lets see... put a shield on it and we have a ship that that should be able to take a bit more grief. The problem comes in that when the big boys attack it the CR will be breached and even with a shield it will still go down. Especially when you only need 2 criticals to kill it. But it does have a high HP so is well defended from boarding and one use is to use the shield to protect the cruiser and get in there and board them. With a group of 3 that is 18 AP. These guys have the highest AP of the FSA surface fleet. Show those sausage eating krauts how to do it! Hooorah.
So that leaves us with putting a Kinetic generator on the cruiser and have an 8"+1d6 motorboat. This in effect gives us something that is a fast troop carrier. Zoom in and unload the troops into a prize target. It still allows the cruiser to use it's guns on the smaller ships and bigger ships have something to fear. You could also spring for sharpshooters to try and whittle them down some more. But.... this is random movement so you could be left high and dry if your rolling is poor, always a problem.
The cruiser has lots of uses, the problem is that other ships in the fleet do them better. Gunships for shooting, Battleships are better at close actions and flying robots for punching those smug limey Brittanian's ships to bits. The AA and CC are average and the DR is good so it is not a bad ship but struggles to find a place. However I still find a place for them in my list as they rarely let me down but they rarely excel either and I love the models. I usually run them with the least efficient choice of rockets as people just don't like being attacked at long range and if they survive late well it is a nice end game bonus. The most effective use is the kinetic generator as it allows the cruiser to attack fast but that is not the way I play and have never got the most out of it. Again I will end that is my opinion and experience, please tell me yours.