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The Advent Return
In Sins Of A Solar Empire, the Advent represent a off-shoot of human that was banished long ago, only to return more powerful than anyone could have imagined. The were originally exiled because they were considered a heretical cult. Now that they've returned, they're said to have strange psychic abilities. While those abilities shine most brightly in some of the Advent's capital ships, their main-line units also possess some psychic abilities in addition to numerous high-tech shields and weapons. Of all the races, they have some of the most unique frigates, and also some of the best support cruisers. On the downside, their ships are relatively fragile in terms of a hull strength.
This guide only covers combat units. Units like constructors and colonization ships are not included, but they are simple and don't vary much from one race to another.
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The Seeker Scout is basically the same as any other scout frigate. You won't be using these for combat, so the hull and weapon strength of the this vessel isn't important. This isn't to say scouts are useless, because gathering intelligence on enemy locations is crucial. Just keep the Seeker out of combat, as it won't last long. With research, the Seeker can be upgraded with the Martyrdom special, which sends the ship on a suicide run. This is useless however, as the amount of damage done is not even enough to destroy an enemy scout.
The Disciple is the Advent's baseline light frigate. Compared to the frigates of other races, it is less expensive, weaker, more fragile, and quicker. Disciples are very easy to crank out in large numbers, but they will be decimated in any fight where they don't hold a large numerical advantage. This fragility, combined with their spend, make them best at hit-and-run tactics. Later in the game, the Disciple can be upgraded with two very useful abilities, called Steal Antimatter and Transfer Antimatter. Antimatter is what all units need to use special abilities. Using Steal Antimatter, Disciples can render enemy ships incapable of using their special abilities, and they will also be able to transfer antimatter to friendly cruisers and capital ships that have run dry. Using these two abilities, Disciples can be used like antimatter batteries, sap up the energy of the enemy, storing it, and then feeding it to your own units when needed.
The Illuminator is the Advent's light missile frigate. Except it doesn't shoot missiles. Instead, it uses long-range beam weapons that can focus on multiple targets at a time. They fulfill largely the same role as missile frigates, in that they are great at clearing out large numbers of weaker vessels from a relatively safe distance. In comparison to, say, a TEC Javelis however, Illuminators have shorter range, are more expensive, do more damage, and are much tougher. The Illuminator also has the Illusion special ability, which creates doubles of the Illuminator. They are fairly robust, so they're useful to have around. The only downside to the Illuminator is how quickly it becomes overshadowed by the Advent carrier, which is useful against a wider range of targets than the Illuminator.
Nothing fancy here - the Purge vessel is the Advent planetary bombardment frigate. Like most such frigates, it is weak against anything in the sky. It is quicker than other bombardment frigates, however. The Purge Vessel has no special abilities.
The Defense Vessel is really more specific than it sounds, as it is actually meant only to defend against fighters. Like the Purge Vessel, the Defense Vessel is nearly the same as its counterparts among the other races, and it has no special abilities. It very tough, and very effective against fighters.
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Aeria Drone Host
Although all carriers do basically the same thing for every race, the Aeria Drone Host is a bit different. Although it is a carrier and performs the same function of bringing fighters and bombers into combat, it is cheaper and easier to research then the carriers of the other races, and it is also cheaper to build. On the downside, each Aeria Drone Host only brings one load of fighters or bombers - but cost-to-cost, building two Aeria Drone Hosts is about the same as building one carrier from the other races. Because the Aeria Drone Host can be had very early in the game, many Advent players will use an early carrier rush instead of trying to rush with Light Frigates or Illuminators.
A support cruiser, the main ability of the Iconis Guardian is a shield which can extend over other vessels, reducing incoming damage. This is fairly useful by itself. Research will unlock the Repulsion ability for the Guardian however. The Repulsion ability is a low-cost special which will scatter all enemy vessels in a large radius. This keeps the enemy disorganized, making it difficult to effectively counter your forces. This may sound only somewhat useful, but in practice it can steal victory from the jaws of defeat. With repulsion, you can keep enemy light frigates out of range, you can keep flak frigates scattered so that their fire is less effective against fighters, and you can even split enemy fleets in half, allowing you to divide and conquer. It can also be useful if your enemy attempts to retreat through your fleet, as you can simply repulse them back towards your planet and any defenses you have waiting there.
The Domina is another Advent support frigate. The Domina leaves the shipyard with the Suppression ability, which is not outstanding. It stops an enemy vessel from using its abilities and weapons, but the effect is short-lived, and keeping it up often requires more micro-management than it is worth, the exception being capital ships. With research, the Domina can gain the ability to repair friendly units. The repair rate is not enough to keep ships up against heavy fire, but it will keep your fleet fresh on long campaigns behind enemy lines.
The Destra is the Advent front-line cruiser. It is good against nearly every other unit in the game, with the most notable exception being fighters and bombers. Destra Crusaders are meant to be used as skirmishers, and are best at home on the front line, pounding away at enemy capital ships or tearing through formations of frigates that have come to close to the front. The Destra Crusader does have a special ability, called Ruthlessness. It is a large AOE that slowly does damage to all enemies. I can't recommend ever researching it however, as the amount of damage done per second is very small, and because the Destra is an expensive cruiser, you'll never be able to stack it enough to make it useful.