The Sunder is a midline destroyer with a large energy hardpoint. It is the only destroyer capable of mounting a large weapon. Several options exist for the large hardpoint, each with its own strengths and weaknesses:
Autopulse Laser: Low OP cost (for a large weapon), fairly versatile but limited effectiveness against armored targets.
High Intensity Laser: Low OP cost, high flux and HE damage output, good range. Has all the strengths and weaknesses of beam weapons. Best used as support for a kinetics-armed ship.
Plasma Cannon: High OP cost, very powerful but flux-intensive, making it a high risk high reward choice.
Tachyon Lance: Fairly high OP cost, good damage and range, quite flux-intensive. EMP effect can be devastating. Needs support against shielded targets; kinetic weapons can run up target's hard flux and allow EMP arcs to penetrat
The Sunder is a unique ship, earning itself the title of the smallest hull capable of equipping a large energy weapon. The large energy mount on this ship is exceptionally powerful, especially used in combination with the ship’s system High Energy Focus, but players will need to consider how difficult it will be to get a large energy weapon early in their campaigns. Most new players will claim a commission with The Hegemony and normally this is a very good idea, they are generally the easiest and most consistently profitable faction to align oneself with. However, in the scope of equipping a Sunder, it presents several problems. The first of which is that large energy weapons are expensive, often equal if not higher in price than the ship itself, and Hegemony markets do not sell large energy weapons very often, meaning players are forced to “take what they can get.” That isn’t a total loss, however, because the profile of the Sunder combined with the High Energy Focus ship system means it is one of the most adaptable hulls imaginable, capable of easily matching the requirements of whatever weapon players put in its trademark hardpoint. For this reason, this guide will go into building the ship in reference to the weapon installed in the large energy hardpoint, with a few extra examples of what to do if there is no large energy weapon available.
The first and possibly most iconic sunder build involves the High Intensity Laser. At 500 High Explosive DPS and 1000 range, this beam weapon will allow the Sunder to easily rip apart the armor of enemy vessels. For this build, range and persistence are paramount. Your first priority is to find additional beam weapons to fit into the medium mounts, preferably beams that match the 1000 range of the High Intensity Laser. Gravitron Beams are popular, and Ion Beams work as well. Keep in mind, however, beam weapons are unreliable if you cannot fire them for extended periods of time at an enemy target. In order to ensure this is possible, the next step is to improve the vent rate of the ship enough to allow it to fire these beams indefinitely, meaning the passive vent rate is equal or above the cost of firing the weapons (if you can’t match it, get as close as you can - consider the value of choosing a gravitron beam over an ion beam if it means you can reach this goal easier.) Next we improve the range of the ship so that it can fire at targets easier. Hullmods are required for this, though some officer and player skills can help as well. Integrated Targeting Unit and Advanced Optics both help greatly, allowing the Sunder to fire beyond the weapon range of most of its opponents. Finally, as this build will naturally result in a “support” Sunder, the missile slots can best be used for missiles that fit this role such as Salamanders, or you can choose Sabots to allow the ship to overload targets it wouldn’t otherwise be able to, allowing its High Intensity Laser to make quick work of the vulnerable opponent. Point defense on this build is useful, but not critical, as the ship will generally be fighting from longer ranges and only Salamanders will be a common threat. Feel free to ignore the ballistic turrets, or even install railguns for some shield punching ability.
The next build is similar, and it relies on the Tachyon Lance. This is one of the rarest energy weapons, however it has a profile similar to the High Intensity Laser and therefore creates a similar baseline to build off of. 1000 range beams work well, though persistence is no longer as necessary since the tachyon lance relies on bursts of damage rather than long periods of DPS. For this build, it is common to use ion beams as they are more powerful than gravitron beams, and we are less worried about maintaining a minimal amount of flux. In general, if choosing to use more beams in the medium slots, the same ideas of the High Intensity Laser build apply. However, for players who wish to deploy more aggressive ships, it can be rewarding to install pulse lasers or other high DPS energy weapons to allow the sunder to move in, overload enemy ships, then fire the tachyon lance into bare hull. For this weapon profile, consider instead giving the sunder improved flux capacity and movement speed, allowing it to brawl up close and sustain damage without risk, then to move away quickly and vent off hard flux. Missiles for this more aggressive approach can be offensive or defensive, sabots are once again a great suggestion to offset the lowered efficiency against shields. Again, like the High Intensity Laser build, point defense is less than critical, so feel free to put offensive weapons in the turrets.
Another build, one of the most “balanced” of the bunch, is the autopulse cannon sunder. These sunders are used in pirate fleets, so they may be the more likely approach for newer campaigns that are still extracting bounty money from the less than legals around Persean. The autopulse cannon is a powerful offensive tool, capable of very high DPS for short periods of time, quickly burdening the flux systems of whatever ship uses it however. For this build, there are very few “wrong” approaches, popular ones being expanded magazines and upgraded flux vents and capacity in order to maximize the damage potential of the autopulse cannon without making the sunder too vulnerable as a result. Hardened shields may be useful as well, as the sunder has a relatively inefficient shield for a high tech ship. The balanced efficiency of the autopulse cannon means that nearly any weapon works in the missile and medium energy slots, thus it is suggested to test for feeling in simulations. Point defense is advisable, because on this build flux management is far more important than previous sunder builds, making it important to have a defense against missiles that may surprise you and tax your already struggling flux systems. You should have plenty of killing power in the autopulse cannon and its tertiary mediums, and using a flux heavy offensive weapon in the front turrets will be just as likely to push you over the limit as it will improve your lethality. Consider risk versus reward when outfitting this build.
The next sunder build is a personal favorite of mine, the plasma cannon sunder. Taking the ideas of risk versus reward to the extreme, this build is equipped with a weapon that costs more than the ship itself, capable of overtaxing its flux capacitors in a single burst, and more than enough overkill to finish ships its size and below without having to fire twice. The plasma cannon has the highest OP cost of any large energy weapon, constricting the options available for players hoping to give their sunder this build. For this build, speed and flux management are absolutely critical. Unlike the earlier builds where you may find yourself at high flux for short durations, and generally far enough away to use the support of allies, the plasma cannon should be flown with the idea that it is a lone wolf, made to eliminate targets of opportunity the moment they present themselves. Conventionally, this is a Safety Override Build. Granting the ship a major speed boost as well as doubling the flux vent rate, this comes at the cost of restricting the weapon ranges massively. Killing things quickly is the name of the game, so beams and other lower DPS weapons are to be ignored, while the higher DPS options are too flux inefficient to be usable even if the plasma cannon wasn’t reducing the available OP. Therefore, consider the plasma cannon your only weapon. Point defense would be nice, but in all likelihood at the ranges you’ll be fighting, if a missile is able to hit your hull you’re already dead - invest instead in hardened shields or simply a higher flux capacity to absorb the damage of those harpoons. When you see sabots, run. Do not use this build unless you are willing to die, it is best done with industry skills and possibly reinforced bulkheads (if you can spare the OP, which is an achievement in itself).
Finally, in the event of having no large energy weapons available, equipping 3 medium energies instead is always an option. The most conservative possibility is triple pulse lasers, though their low per-hit means the sunder will struggle against armored opponents. Heavy blasters can be used in place of pulse lasers, however they are far more flux inefficient and taxing on flux reserves, meaning it is a good idea to combine the two weapons as you see fit. Phase Lances can also be used as a cheap and effective armor ripper, though they are nearly useless against shields. Mining blasters, however, can be used against both, though their low efficiency and rate of fire makes them functionally similar to a missile as a selective fire opportunity weapon. Finally, ion pulsers have incredible DPS, the highest of all medium energies, but come at the cost of equivalent flux costs. Use them in a faster, more floaty ship with some flux durability. Overall, using a medium instead of a large energy weapon will also free up some Ordinance Points, allowing you to go hog-wild with the rest of your weapon mounts or get an extra hullmod or two.