Guess I'll start this off. A blurb or two about each of the ships and how they handle for the Player and the AI. I'll start with my own findings and will edit as discussion unfolds.
Player: Piece of crap, really only useful if you're getting pounded on by odd hulls like Refractive or Neutron.
AI: Highly annoying but weak. It ignores missile turrets and snipers so once it's out of the main wave defenses it's got a free ride.
Player: Relatively weak. Primary use is to pop flagship line of starships. Armor Piercing is helpful if the AI has popped special ships with high armor or fighting Tank type units. There's better though.
AI: Relatively weak in AI's hands too unless you're overly dependent on starships or Hardened FFs.
Player: Can be useful, in particular as a support ship with starships. It's only use is support however.
AI: Incredibly annoying support unit, but not as annoying as the munitions booster.
Player: High survivability but nothing special. It's much more effective at higher grades when the armor goes up, but even then 6k isn't a lot. Basically good for anti-fighters, the dps is too low.
AI: Requires micro to help make sure your units/turrets don't get hung up pounding on these instead of killing actually scary units.
Player: Mixed bag. More useful when dealing with Exo-waves then standard game, because of the high armor golems and H/Ks. Need to micro to proper targets, but can be very effective when used that way. Decent DPS and health, but low cap.
AI: Worthless. Without micro they're just something else to absorb shots and to kill.
Player: Mixxed opinion. They're a specialty ship. They're cheap for a lot of damage, but one-shots. They can be useful for suicide raids to help neuter strong systems but can end up dead before they reach the target on a camped wormhole. Use Transports to get past camps.
AI: Incredibly annoying. They'll go for flagship line ships and anything else big enough to be worthy while the rest of the local defenders harass your fleet. They die easily enough but the AI can mob these things at you constantly. A wave of these can chew your defenses to pieces.
Player: Meh. The Cloaking helps you deep raid but they're only good for 1 or 2 guardposts before they're reduced to too few to be worthy. Shots and hull are weak but you get a ton of them. They tear down armor when used en-masse though so anything they're shooting at eventually dies a horrible death.
AI: Nothing special. A few tachyon turrets and they're dead meat. Mostly annoying because you have to research decloaker to hunt them down if they decide to hang around in systems so they won't auto-rebuild.
Description: A ship with a powerful beam weapon that can hit up to 9 ships in a line.
Player: An A+ ship in player hands, particularly when upgraded. They can cut through mobs of ships. When supported by other ships as a screening wall they can really chew into a line of ships (think traveling kills between wormholes). Also very handy on wormhole defense when the wave gets mobbed up during the opening stages. Can require a lot of micro to use at maximum efficiency.
AI: For waves, not a particularly dangerous ship, as most of your turrets will be out of reach. When attacking however they'll cause constant damage to the entire fleet, causing you to repair more often. Usually not enough of them to cause serious pain from the AI, it's more annoying then anything. Eventually they wear your fleet out in multi-system attacks.
Player: Another A+ ship. The constant spawns of blades can chew through entire planets. They pass FFs, smack snipers, and chew on guardians and guardposts alike. One of the most dangerous early/midgame ships. Late game they get overwhelmed by other units due to the low caps.
During Waves and/or defenses: Almost ignorable, they'll all spawn in range of your turrets and your grav turrets will shut down their blade attack.
Early Game: A significant problem. You will need ranged ships (snipers, zenith snipers, your own blade spawners, etc) to counter these in the early game or expect attrition rates of 25-50% while attacking a system.
Mid/Late Game: You'll have enough firepower that unless you're dealing with an over-alerted system that they'll just be an annoyance.
Player: Decent unit. Slow recycle on the shots can make them one-hit wonders, but with proper priority targetting they're solid. Their range also helps keep a lot of ships off your main fleet once you've cleared your entrance.
AI: A horrible nuisance, and nearly game-breaking. Walking into a reasonably defended system you will eat tons of these. The attrition rate on your heavy ships to these is painful. If you're fighting bombards you'll want long range craft that can hammer on these nuisances that won't come towards your main fleet. You'll usually have to FRD to catch all of them so they can't pound you to pieces as they all run away in different directions.
Description: A fighter with some extra bonuses. Of note is it is immune to most paralytical enemies, Ion Cannons (and all other insta-kills), and about 1/4 of the firepower used by fleet ships (Shell ammunition)
Player: Equivalent of an slightly overpowered fighter, but more expensive, so you pay for it. Having the same bonuses as the fighter, they can be particularly effective against Bomber waves, or any other polycrystal armored ship.
AI: Waves of these are usually no worse then waves of fighters, unless you're overdependent on basic turrets alone. In particular they're easy to build up a secondary fleet of if you have teleporting leeches, as they can't shoot themselves so anything you reclaim will live through the defense (barring starships killing them). In standard fleet combat they're not much of a threat in AI hands.
Description: A bomber unit that cloaks when it's not moving.
Player: They're basically bigger, more expensive bombers. Of particular note is they will almost always get their alpha strikes off against inbound waves, being in range and cloaked during the entry of the enemy. After that the hidden strike mechanic isn't very important.
AI: Annoying because they'll hide in your systems once the wave is 'almost' dead, forcing you to grab a decloaker and hunt them down.
Player: A cheap melee ship with poor lifespan and dps. Heals itself and can cut through any armor, but hurts itself with each attack. I'm personally not a fan but haven't used them much.
AI: Annoying, because it seems like your ships constantly target other things and you just keep hearing them scratching on the armor. Of concern because they can bypass the cmd station FFs and chew up your toys.
Player: A decent ship with excellent range and reasonable speed. Not very strong but cheap. Theoretically reduces laser fire but not a lot of AI ships have laser fire.
AI: Will nerf the anti-starship laser turrets you've setup on your whipping boys until destroyed.
Player: B class ship, mostly used for mob control. There's a cap on how many will fire within a system inside of its reload time, but that's based on marks so upgrades won't lower their firepower. It punches through all armor, but it's really an attrition weapon. Only useful as part of a fleet.
AI: Annoying little creatures. Will eventually wear down entire fleets doing long distance traveling. Generally a nuisance, not a threat.
Player: Bomber's big daddy, just with a low cap. Expensive, slow, and you might as well just cap bombers. In particular they seem to get easily concentrated on and killed in the early game and won't show their strength until the late game when a strong econ can quickly replace them. If you're facing bombards or another similar long range, hard hitting ship they'll be nothing but cannon fodder.
AI: OW. These things can tear into you because of the random placement choices for reinforcements and lack of cap from the AI. They're not so dangerous on wave defenses but it's when they're world defenders they become nasty.
Player: Decent little fighter wannabe with excellent speed that can hold enemies outside of their cloaking range (now). Excellent for running up to squads of enemies, letting them tractor, and hauling back a small chunk of enemies to your fleet. Requires micro to work well, otherwise they're just a ship in the fleet.
AI: Annoying. They'll grab your ships and run like heck to other system, firing up threat and getting those ships killed in the meanwhile. Luckily they're relatively weak.
Player: Think Raid Starship with a cloak. They're slower and a specialized unit. You take these if you want to concentrate on raiding outside of your primary fleet. Decent harassers and a specialized units. 1/2 caps compared to triangle ships, you'll want to upgrade them to be able to deep-strike harass. Be aware of alerting tons of planets with them.
AI: OW. These are an A class threat. They cloak past your defenses, ignore your forcefields, and have a real taste for command centers. You will need tachyon detection in depth, grav turrets, and anything else you can get your hands on if the AI starts using these. They also ignore missiles and snipers, which account for all of your longer range turrets. Make sure to keep a few basic/lasers near all your command stations.
Description: Low ship cap (24 normal) with a small-size force-field. Their primary purpose is being a mobile force-field for your units that doesn't affect damage.
Player: A cap of these is enough to protect a fraction of our fleet from harm in the starting stages of battle. Use group-move with a separate group if you really want to emphasise the utility of the ship. When entering hostile wormholes, send these in at the head of an invading fleet to absorb the initial alpha-strike from defenders. Also useful to cover your command stations and fabricators in an emergency when FFs are failing. A set of markI + markIIs with a small strong fleet can be an incredibly effective force. Also useful to cover shards during Fallen Spire campaigns.
AI: Annoying to fight against as you're constantly beating down extra forcefields to get at enemy damage dealers. Not a threat in their own right except in large waves that take forever to kill. If you have FF bypassing ships you probably won't feel the pain nearly as much during offense.
Special mention because it's not an unlockable but requires some smart play and they're expensive K wise.
Player: Incredibly useful besides the obvious in two cases.
First is for exo defense. Creating a gauntlet of worlds to your main defenses with one or two each of these will allow them to heavily whittle down the incoming forces. Back them up with snipers to kill off polycrystal (read: bomber) armors that peel off the main unit.
Second is in K-Raiding. While incredibly expensive to build, they'll practically guarantee a successful K-Raid on all but the highest AI tiers if backed up with sniper turrets.
AI: The recent hp reductions have made them easier to deal with. Raid Starships with proper targetting micro can usually get in and out without much damage to kill their local guardpost. If they're parked on a wormhole though you're in for it. You need polycrystal units (bombers) to kill these without taking inane losses. If you're stuck with one of these on your wormhole, you're looking at sending in bombers, killing the tachyon post, backing off, using cloaked transports to get your fleet into the system without dying, deploying outside it's range, peeling off the defenders, and THEN sending the bombers in for final strike. There's other options but that's your best method unless you've got supply on the planet to create a beachhead.
Description: A mobile Gravity Turret with a gun.
Player: These will almost completely shut down enemy blade spawners, and are almost a requirement if you're taking on an AI that starts with these early game. They'll also slow up autobombs and melees that will attempt to hammer your ships on suicide runs. Of limited use against fast-movers with range (raptors). Usage if not dealing with special requirements is usually as a suicide buffer between the enemy and your glass cannon ships with range (ie: zenith bombards).
AI: For Wave defenses these are ignorable. Treat like a high-hp fighter. When attacking systems however these can cause you tremendous pain when they're coupled with a few high-power guardians you just can't get near before they decimate your force. They're spawned in large numbers so you'll have to expect to just let your fleet take a beating anytime you're trying to even approach a forcefield or chase down a high power guardian. If you have them, snipers can be helpful here with them as priority, but it takes a while. There's no good counter except for ships that ignore gravity, and there's very few of those.
Description: Similar but weaker version of the Gravity Drain above. In particular it can only affect a number of targets at a time, as it has to shoot the enemy to cause the gravitation effect, and is shorter in area of effect.
Player: One of the few AoE ships available, this ship can be incredibly useful in high-density situations, such as wave defenses or threat baiting. They'll hit packs of 8 (+2 more for each mark incrase). In system offenses I find them less powerful. Long reload and weak damage tend to have me avoid this ship. (I'm well aware discussion on this may vary below, I'm all ears).
AI: Because you're usually a fleet-ball, this ship can be devastating to you. It's hard to space your fleet out well, but try if you're fighting these units, or use high-armor ships. Not overly dangerous in waves unless you've clustered your turrets very tightly.
Player: Specialty ship good against high energy targets. If you're facing Exos (Golem-Hard, Spire-Hard, Fallen Spire) they're a powerful ship in your arsenal. If you're not they're a specialty ship that you'll have to look for good opportunities to use. Try to concentrate them on guardians and starships. You'll have to micro.
AI: Not so dangerous in waves, but they'll chew up your fortresses and ffs pretty well. If you're running Fallen Spire be careful as they can chew up your spire fleet if they don't have a screening force. Otherwise just expect to replace your starships more often then usual.
I've never used them and I've only seen one AI play them, so no opinion. Initial opinion: Weak piece of trash.
Player: A sandpaper unit with incredibly high caps and very cheap. Low bonuses. AKA: Cannon Fodder. Use as a distraction before you send the real force in so they absorb the enemy's alpha strikes.
AI: They're target practice. Don't worry about the huge wave numbers, they die in droves. Shove your flaks and lightnings under the FF for these if you're getting waves of them. The AoE's worth keeping them alive.
Player: A good ship. Low DPS but its ability to swallow ships goes up by 50 for each MK. The only reason to upgrade is to get more of them because of the incredibly low caps. Very useful with smaller strike forces to keep the drifting defenders off the main fleet. Will help with attrition in larger fleets.
AI: Grade A threat when attacking systems. In bulk at high MKs they take forever to kill and are constantly swallowing the ships you're trying to kill them with. Just about everything but starships can be swallowed. Fight with Golems, Spirecraft, or Fallen Spire. If you're stuck fighting them, go to a starship based fleet.
They're huge, they're pretty, and they're economy wrecking. For the price of a few of these ships you could build a fortress. Only use these ships if your economy is maxxed out and you're looking for things to build. They can add a nice boost to your firepower and will reasonably survive with a screen of your weaker mark ships, but are an incredible investment to risk.
See Laser Gatlings. They're basically an improved version of this with minor tachyon detection and more reasonable bonuses. Still trash.
Player: Looking for players who have used this extensively. I dislike any suicide unit with a 3k cost, I don't care what damage it does.
AI: Starship wrecking !@#!#!!!!!!.... Use small numerous fleet ships to deal with these. Any kind of screening force you can get between them and whatever they want to hit. They punch through FFs and tractors, too, so make sure you've got grav turrets up for defense.
Description: A long range low DPS unit that reflects most ammo types back on the attacker. Particularly succeptable to missile fire.
Player: An odd unit. Excellent range for picking at raptors and the like, and is primarily more useful in dying for you. The reflection capabilities will let you take on forces much larger then you'd usually expect, and well worth upgrading. Use as primary strike force and bring in your fleet after to deal with heavier structures that they can't damage without hurting themselves. Be ready to rebuild them often, as they're basically suicidal in their method of defeating large numbers of enemies.
AI: A royal pain. You need missile units, and you'll need them in bulk to fight these down. Take your Missile Frigs to MK III asap once you start having to fight these. Base your whipping boy defenses on LRM/MLRS/Sniper/Lightning because your shorter range turrets will basically kill themselves.
Player: A useful fleet ship, but very low caps which make its boosting only so good. Very useful in tandem with a starship primary build, or any other fleet ship with low caps and high dps (IE: Spire Stealth Battleships).
AI: Because the AI doesn't cap on unit count for system reinforcements, these things are a constant boost to the enemy. Expect much higher losses than normal once you start facing them. There's really no counter, you'll just have to grind them up.
Player: Low DPS but that's not the point. It tazers a limited number of enemy ships once every 8 seconds. These ships can completely shut down close range attackers in limited numbers. I don't usually care about limited numbers of close range attackers, thus an utterly useless ship to me.
AI: Annoying but easily defeatable. They need to be concentrated to have any real effect. I consider this a free kill when the AI gets a bonus ship of this type.
Player: If reclaiming ships wasn't such a hassle, these would be more useful in fleet combat. You'll have to bring a mobile repair base to get reclaims to get out of the fighting lines and heal up before they get flattened by accident. I've never had a lot of success using these.
AI: More annoying then anything, but be very careful against waves of these on defense, keep your fleet well clear. Zombie Guardians are more dangerous then these in the AIs hands.
Player: Another raiding ship, but high #s of weak shots. Their primary strength is their radar dampening, which they can fire further than, making them excellent for taking out powerful guard posts like the MLRS. Very limited in their usage however and there's better options. As a free ship you're either going to choose to use them as an indepent force or basically ignore them as cannon fodder.
AI: Like all AI cloakers they can be annoying to hunt down after a wave fight or taking a new system, but basically as ignorable as fighters as long as you've got some fleet handy.
Description: A ship with a boost against high armor targets only.
Player: Aside from fortresses which eat Polarizers, there arenot enough high-armored AI vessels to make a difference outside of Exo-Wave defenses. As an unlockable, pass this by. If you're stuck with it try to prioritize these against tank-type vessels in the AI's arsenel, or just concentrate them on guardians.
AI: Relatively harmless. It only cares about things with high armor so don't use a starship based build. Be careful for your fortresses.
Player: Just another ship, really. Decent range and good speed, weak hp.
AI: More targets, woot! They're a win when the AI gets them since it reinforces on ship count not cap count.
Player: Reading through this you'll notice I've mentioned raptors a few times. They're a nuisance. They can be very powerful with limited micro. They have a decent DPS but their power is in their range and speed. You cannot catch a raptor unless it wants to be caught, like a raid starship. They cloak and they try to keep out of reach of anything but Missile Frigate ranges. They get no bonuses against structures but these are amazing ships to use to aggravate and clean out AI systems. They are particularly powerful against Maws (one of my banes) because they can't be swallowed and dance out of range of their main guns.
AI: Dear lord what a PITA. Upgrade your Missile Frigates and keep them on hand, it's the only thing that can reach out and touch them. Get Mirrors, Laser Deflectors, or something else with high range and keep them with your fleet. If you can touch these craft they die easily. Waves of them die in droves.
Resistance Fighter Bombers and Frigates
You only get these under your control if you're playing with Rebel Colony Rebellions. They're very powerful, and I recommend capping them as soon as you're able.
Player: A slow moving sniper fire type of unit. Half the time their shots won't land because whatever they fired at a few seconds ago died. Mostly useful when dealing with longer range units that ignore sniper shots (mirrors, for example). I'd still take regular snipers over them if given the choice.
AI: ARGH. It's like fighting blade spawners. You're taking fire from 20 different directions constantly from ships you can't reach and will run when you close with them. Bring along your own snipers to counter, or very fast ships and FRD them with a priority for the sentinels. Die in droves if they show in a wave.
Player: Grade A ship. A full cap of these upgraded with a transport and a cloaker can trash a system by themselves, and not need supply. Defensive, offensive, range, and solid DPS with high bonuses for certain hulls. What more could you ask for? Oh, yeah, a higher cap. At MK IV you still won't be able to build as many of these as you can sniper turret Is.
AI: Gyeah. see Sentinel above, it's just a little easier to defend against. Build Scout Starships with their sniper flares and bring them along with your main fleet. It'll keep most of the pain away but you'll have to keep your fleet ball tight.
Player: A low DPS ship built to do engine damage. Meh range and low cap. AKA: Cannon Fodder.
AI: Will degrade your fleet by forcing you to leave units behind after nerfing worlds. Best defense is actually Engineer III's to come in and do repairs after facing them to get your fleet moving again. Not overly dangerous in the long run.
Player: Need advice, never used.
AI: Annoying, powerful, and because of the lack of the cap they can really ruin your day. Prepare for heavy anti-starship bouts if the AI pulls these. Each one is a mini-fortress. With Radar Dampening. And Cloak.
Player: An overarmored Bomber. Useful anywhere polycrystal is (Fortress Baron, for example, with his umpteen fortresses). Not generally a strong ship in player hands.
AI: Can be aggravating to kill, but not too badly. Schizo waves with these can drive you crazy but they're basically bombers. Lack of caps can make reinforcement defenses a bit painful if you're overly succeptable to bombers (heavy on frigate/starship usage).
Player: Commit these to helping on wave defenses and leave behind. Utterly useless for fleet battles. They can definately build up a reserve force of random ships however if they're left for wave defense and you have a rally point for the reclaims.
AI: About as annoying as the parasite, but make sure you've got TIII Logistics CMD Centers to shut down the teleports on the whipping boy. If they get through they can cause all sorts of hassle.
Player: A secondary, almost separate fleet. They need to be micro'd or they break off the fleet ball even in group move and get themselves wrecked. Battlestations are better if you have to make the choice because of AI Eyes. A lot of things you'd want to raid are immune to Minor Electric so their versatility is low. Primarily useful if you're dealing with a lot of range units (snipers, blade spawners, raptors, etc).
AI: Logistics III or die. Once these break past your outer defenses into the backfield they will tear your econ to shreds and eventually you'll end up chasing them across half the galaxy. They die easily enough... if you can catch them.
Tractor Platform AKA Honeycomb
Player: Requires a lot of micro to use well. Very low caps make their versatility low, they die too quickly in places where you want to be able to drag a subsection of ships from, like a camped wormhole.
AI: Bane of my existance. They'll grab 50-100 of your ships, are a pain to actually lay waste to when there's 10+ of them at MK III/IV dragging your fleet all over the universe, and will light up threat throughout the known galaxy. Bombers, more bombers, and then more bombers. Starship builds will help combat them as well, since they can't be tractored. Of particular use against them are Maws.
Player: Another close combat ship that heals itself as it does damage. Decent bonuses and regen time. Ignores FFs.
AI: Annoying little buggers, but mostly dangerous in waves. Without grav wells they'll blow right into your command center and burst it, then pass through to chew up anything else. Make sure to protect any outlying fabricators and the like as well with gravity, as they find them tasty and will beeline for them.
Player: If you've got the energy, they've got the will. Similar to the vampire, but instead of healing these little babies multiply. An A class ship if used well. Their replication abilities are per planet, so you can easily blow past your caps with these. Split 'em in half and bring some along for a fight, send half back to the Whipping Boy and repeat. They'll lay waste to your energy supply if you're not careful though.
AI: Primary targets. They die easily enough if you concentrate on them, but if you don't they can easily get out of hand and do way more damage then they should have. Also, watch for waves of them because like any other melee, they can get under your FFs and chew through anything you really wanted to protect. Gravity is your best bet.
Player: Younglings (Command, Nanoswarm, Tiger, Vulture, and Weasel) really could have a dissertation. They're suicide ships with incredibly low costs to their power, but they constantly degrade over 4 minutes till they die. You can build support structures for them to regenerate them but that's the only way they heal outside of level II transports. Used as a 'streaming offense' if you've got a strong econ, they can sandpaper away just about any system. As a standard fleet ship they leave a lot to be desired and in most cases should be left on the whipping boy.
AI: Bwahahaha, yeah, right. They're really only threats when they're launched in reaction to something (certain AIs get special fabricators) or as the roaming enclaves. I'm not even sure the AI can get these as a standard fleet ship.
That about covers all the standard fleet ships you can pull out as per the ShipDataFull I pulled off 5.021. I'm looking forward to the discussion.