I think it was fine how ICs basically annihilated any ships that fall under their mark level (they used to have a refire time of ~1 second?)
Yes, it was 1 second per shot, but that was with a standard mkI triangle ship cap of 196. Now with that cap (playing on high caps) it fires every 2 seconds (every 4 on normal caps, every 8 on low). So in theory they should be about half as dangerous as they used to be. In practice they seem to be a lot less dangerous than that.
I think I'll go with the same reload times but have it do 4 shots per salvo, and we'll see how much pain that causes
That will probably be sufficient to make AI Ions painful again, but doesn't really help the mkI/II spirecraft ions since you don't see a lot of pitched battles against mkI/II AI ships by the time you're in midgame. That's the main reason I want to give them some kind of useful role against higher-mark stuff. And honestly the AI Ions don't need that as long as they're dangerous enough as insta-kill. Though that doesn't address ion cannons not being very useful to humans.
Maybe an IC under human control should be able to kill its mark level +1 so humans want to capture ICs.
That would be very icky to code.
Or maybe give IC shots a small AOE that might not instakill but will at least kill engines.
That would be possibly but probably difficult to balance and would encourage a lot of micro on the player's part to not get so much splash-engine-damage.
Pretty sure the automated ship targeting AI targets ships that will take the most damage, so I am pretty sure ION cannons shoot higher marks by default.
It's not actually that simple, ions actually have a separate targeting branch that tries to prioritize the most expensive targets that they can insta-kill. So in practice, yea.