Goblins in Space!
Okay, not really. But in the interest of providing quality content and getting you ready for tomorrow’s really big idea post, here’s a link to an interesting and long discussion on war in space over at perfidy.
The exception to much of the mass considerations discussed above is the nuclear pulse, or Orion drive. This concept involves building a very large ship with a heavy base plate attached to the back of the ship by some very serious shock absorbers. Then, you light off a small nuke behind the ship. Repeat as necessary. This is an over-the-top propulsion scheme. With this, you could accelerate very large masses very quickly. Ships using an Orion drive would simply have to be big just to make the acceleration survivable. Since you need a big ship; adding armor, huge power plants, or anything else you want is not such a big deal. An Orion powered warship would be a huge hulking brute. It would not be subtle, and stealth would be a lost cause.
No other type of spaceship (based on current technology) could match the Orion for speed and payload. It will be in a class by itself until and unless someone invents fusion or antimatter drives. Meanwhile, the inherent limitations of the other propulsion types will limit the kinds of warships that can be built around them. (As will the existence of Orion powered warships.)