Question: shouldn't Ion cannons have the Env
And I do not just mean from popular culture, if we look at the tech tree, we see that there are distinct classical 3 weapon types but energy weapons are broken up into furhter subcategories (just like missiles):
1. Laser/Turbolaser/Primary Beam (base energy weapon with the most modifiers available)
2. Ion Cannons
3. Disruptor/Neutron Beam (Lth modifier)
4. Plasma Cannon/Helbores (Env modifier)
You can instantly notice that the Ion cannons are directly competing with the basic laser branch but at the same time is the pre-reuisite for the plasma tech branch from where Disruptor and Plasma bases guns originate
So why not have Ion cannons be directy in the Plasma branch and be the ones that start it off?
Technically this would make sense as plasma is nothing more than atoms having their number of default electrons modified this of course including the stripping of all electrons which results into plasma (plasma is mostly just ionized gas)
By having Ion cannons be part of the plasma branch, they could also logically recieve the Env modifier per default
This would have numerous game-benefits:
1. Ion cannons would not need to compete with Laser weapons (to which they quickly become inferior before the player even has time to produce a ship with them)
2. They would be a perfect solution for countering early to mid-game shield spam making shields less OP and thus less of an obvious choice (more armor could in some cases be more effective when facing off Ion guns).
3. Currently where are no Light and Medium mount options for Env weaponry unless we count Leech missiles but these are only available much later in the game. There is the option of coilguns but these merely bypass shields, they do not help any other fleet assets to take down the target faster. Having small vessels with this modifier can greatly increase their usefulness against mid and large ships and offer more tactical options during battle
4. The current plasma tech branch would be expanded and progression made logical for players who are not intimately familiar with the tree and or are just looking at the list instead of the tree as plasma=Env (should use these against shield
5. By having Env weapons be more common on the battlefield, the shield rotation exploit would naturally loose most of its applicability
It makes sense for new tech to override the old and offer a more effective weapon outclassing the old version but Ion cannons are obviously meant as a separate branch of the tree and should not have to compete directly with another branch to which they are almost always inferior to
Another alternative would be to give Ion cannons the EMP
This would of course also validate their existence and is in line with pop-culture stereotpyes but would have a somewhat different effect of gameplay then the above.
It would ceartanly benefit marauder tactics and make the weapon much more effective against unshielded weapons (making the tech a huge priority during early game) but would not affect the current shield mechanic in any way which in my opinion is OP mostly due to the way firing direction matter (rotation exploit also feeds from this mechanic)
Overall I think that Ion Cannons would ceartanly benefit from a reclassification from laser to plasma tech, and would serve the game mechanics better with an additional Env modifier then an EMP mod, though the later would also be benefitial over the current state overall