I'm starting with #3 in this series because the first two are of limited usefulness, but I'll post them later after some updates. Like the other guides, this was written 3 months ago and there is new tech available to make the ships even MORE useful.Hidden Powers of Ancient Hulls #3: The Proto-Mastodon
There IS a much newer remote fire missile ship available. The Rhino has 15 weapon slots, only 40% damage falloff, 5 special slots, and 5 armor slots. What it doesn't have is 2300 more tons of weight capacity, 75% remote fire range, 45 mins less repair time, and a much larger Survival multiplier. The Proto-Mastodon will even add some Coldsnap missiles in.
The Proto-Mastodon is suitable for both long range traps, short range assault, and even tanking. The 1hr repair time gives it a great armor ratio and the high weight allowance allows 5 Ferrite armors to be used without using up all the available weight.
I prefer to use smaller, faster repair ships as spotters for remote fire, but you can even use another Proto-Mastodon as the spotter if you focus on tanking and let the other 4 in the back supply the offense.
A good tank build for the Proto-Mastodon is Ferrite COM armor in all 5 slots, Alloy COM armor special, Speed System VI, Guidance Scrambler III, and Frontline Countermeasure. Add a Phalanx IV for some anti-missile, and one Squall launcher to set range and spot for the other ships in the fleet. This gives over 500K base armor and Penetrating Survival of 340%. This gives an armor ratio around 630, and it can take 189,000 damage and still repair instantly. The standard Missile Cruiser makes a much better tank, but the Proto-Mastodon isn't a bad one. 5 Ferrite armors are a bit longer of a build, so you might prefer a smaller ship such as the standard Missile Cruiser for lower build time.
The Proto-Mastodon is best used for its indirect fire ability with minimal defense and a focus on damage and reload. Put the little D1-M zynthonite armor in all 5 slots, Alloy COM armor special, Speed System VI, Guided Missile System and a missile reload/damage special such as Carbon Fiber Casing. If you have the new D76-X assault missile you can fit 3 on for 180,000 damage. 8 Stingers will also fit for 71,000 damage if you don't have the new assault missile. This build won't die immediately if something gets to your ships in the back, but this build won't stand up long for prolonged short range assault.
A short range assault build that can take a beating and dish it out consists of 2 Ferrite COM armors, 3 D1-M zynthonite armors, Alloy COM armor special, Strike System V, and Carbon Fire Casing. You still have room for two D76-X assault missiles or 6 Stinger missiles. You will have 235,000 base armor and 253% Penetrating Survival and this one will last a bit longer in a scrap. It can of course also be used for remote fire as well, you'll have a bit more insurance in case ships blow past or kill your spotter.
Where do you get the Proto-Mastodon? It is the Mastery prize for the Snowfall campaign. It is a Limited print and you cannot get more than 5 unless you find another source such as a crate, but for the purposes of remote missile support you will only need 4.