Thanks @KevinC, I haven’t really noticed a difference, either.
I have arrived! By which I mean I think I’ve made it over a bump in the power curve (well, the money curve). My ~20 or so miners just keep the money coming in, and after blowing 125 million or whatever on the fab facility, I got back up to 100 million pretty quick. Well, half of that was probably from some other things, such as:
Completed a mission to capture an Odysseus, which was challenging because it was in a task force with six other destroyers, a resupply ship, and other supporting craft. I pulled it off by managing to string them out into an ugly fight in the asteroid fields of Second Contact II and bringing in my own task force. (It helped that they seem to be underequipped in terms of number of missiles, given the number of missile turrets they had. So once those were out my forces were significantly stronger.) In addition to the 7 mil for the mission, I got to keep the Odysseus (which I wasn’t expecting, for some reason)
I also captured the resupply ship, which was probably a good 10-20 mil itself.*
A couple other captures, various frigates and fighters, about half of which I sold.
I took a building mission and built a tiny defense platform (7 million, probably 6 or 6.5 million after costs), and got together a fleet of a carrier, destroyer, and three frigates for about a 100% markup. (I just used the Argon’s own yards, which was a little strange–I could rationalize the part where I delivered them vastly underequipped by assuming that the government would outfit them after the fact, but really all that the mission consisted of was putting in orders and then running some hull parts around.)
*It’s really annoying that you have to strip down the ships for sale before selling them, otherwise you lose out on a bunch of money. Grr…
My defense platform is way stronger than it needs to be. (I think, I haven’t tested it against anything other than fighters.) But it is awesome to stand on the docks and see a fighter coming in and then watch an enormous sheet of flame reach up and pluck it out of the sky.
I also destroyed the two HOP defense platforms without any trouble at all. They didn’t have any missiles, despite having only plasma and missile turrets. And it seemed that only a couple plasma turrets could fire at my fleet at any given time–much worse fields of fire than what I remember the Argon platforms putting out.
Then I built an administrative center on my defense platform, and… Second Contact II Flashpoint is mine! Fwahahaha! (Of course the Argon have since built a defense platform with an admin center, but the sector is still outlined in green, so… finders keepers, I guess?)