There are five factions in Star Dancer each with their own collection of fighters, bombers, cruisers and capital ship classes.
The five factions all share the same base characteristics for flight and defense however their weaponry is quite different from faction to faction - this is what separates the different factions from one another.
Each of the factions has different advantages and disadvantages based on their weaponry. I will detail these below.
Of the fighters, Mars Colony has the most powerful fighters in the game. Their fighters carry easily the heaviest weapon for a small ship and often prove the most difficult enemy to take down late in the campaign. You will often find if you are struggling to defeat Mars Colony that it is their fighters that are proving the most challenging to defeat.
By contrast the Outlander fighter is the weakest of the fighters in the game. It sports a tiny pea shooter that does very little damage, however it does have an extremely high rate of fire and low power drain.
The other fighters vary in their effectiveness only marginally. The AioSenti fighter is very damaging at short range and less so at long range. EarthHope's fighter is the default 'average' kind of fighter, it will be outclassed by Mars Colony but hold its own against most of the other fighters.
Once again, Mars Colony has the most powerful bombers in the game, They carry both an anti capital weapon in the form of a powerful set of rockets and a heavy Plasma Cannon for taking down enemy ships. They are a much upgraded version of the Mars Colony fighter and apart from their lack of speed are once again the enemy that will prove the most difficult during the campaign usually.
The Outlander Bomber is also the weakest of the bombers although it does carry a rear mounted weapon which is a nasty surprise for ships that pursue it. It is really no more than a heavier Outlander Fighter class ship - its weaponry is almost identical to the Figher but is simply supported by a heavier chassis.
The other bombers vary only a little in effectiveness. The Hushami Corp fighters and bombers each carry a series of burst rockets for long range duels with limited ammunition. Typically however they are of similar if not slightly greater effectiveness than the other factions AioSenti and EarthHope.
The Mars Colony cruisers are some of the most ineffective cruisers in the game. They carry very heavy weaponry, a mix of short and long range but with extremely low rate of fire really find it difficult to hold their own against enemy vessels of similar size.
The Outlander cruisers are the most deadly cruisers in the game. They carry two long EMP Cannons which are capable of dealing death to both small and large vessels alike. These cruisers can defend themselves against smaller vessels quite well and can take down enemy vessels quite quickly if they can bring their guns to bear.
The Earth Hope cruiser carries the best beam weapon for a smaller capital ship in the game. It does however lack any firepower against smaller vessels so is only of use in a fight against other capital ships - at which it excels at.
AioSenti cruisers carry one of the weakest beam weapons in the game - but at least they have one. Otherwise they have a set of short range forward facing weapons which are very damaging to anything that gets close. Their mix of weapons makes them a general all purpose larger vessel capable of taking on both large and small vessels although they are outclassed by Earth Hope and Outlander Cruisers in a firefight.
Hushami Corp cruisers carry a very weak beam weapon although they also carry a very powerful limited ammunition cannon. They do however have the ability to limit the enemy's firepower with their experimental energy draining weapons.
The Mars Colony capital is the most ineffective capital ship in the game. It carries a mix of weaponry, likes its smaller cruiser brother but its weapons are too low rate of fire to be of much use against most other enemy capital ships. Should it hit a smaller target the target will be vapourised but with such a low rate of fire is highly unlikely to do so.
The Outlander Capital ship is the supreme capital ship in the game. It carries the second most powerful beam cannon in the game that also drains enemy power. It also carries a series of EMP Cannons which can take out small and large vessels. The Outlander's capital class ships and cruisers make up for the fact that their fighters and bombers are so outclassed. All their technological efforts have gone into their larger ship classes.
The AioSenti Capital carries the most powerful beam cannon in the game. It has no other weapons however and will struggle against a host of smaller vessels. The beam cannon will tear through enemy capitals in very short order.
The EarthHope Capital is a general all purpose capital class ship. It carries flak cannons along its length that help it deal with enemy fighters and bombers but it also unfortunately has the distinction of carrying the weakest beam weapon in the game. The EarthHope beam cannon is unlikely to cause any kills but it will help keep enemy cruisers honest. EarthHope relies on its combined arms efforts to win battles and needs its smaller vessels to support its cruisers and capital to defeat an opponent.
Hushami Corp's Capital class cruiser is a bit of an unusual beast. It carries a fairly low effectiveness beam cannon but has the ability to disrupt enemy power generation which offsets the low power of the beam itself. Hushami Corp relies also on a combined arms approach with all ships needing to contribute to find itself victorious.
My own personal preference in the game (as designer) is to play as the Outlanders. I don't mind the fact that the fighters and bombers are low effectiveness because their capital and cruiser class ships more than make up for this. If I had to pick a second team I'd probably pick AioSenti since I simply love the ship designs but they are also a tough one to win battles with against certain opponents depending on the stage of the game. I haven't played enough battles as Mars Colony to have an opinion on them but their low effectiveness capital ships don't really fit my play style.