Starsector: Best space combat nine years in the making - 0.95 out

Also, does anyone have tips for fleet composition? Any rule of thumb on a ratio of frigates/destroyers/cruisers/etc? I understand the answer to that might likely be “it depends”, just looking for a ballpark. I’m not really sure how to set up my fleet or how effectively use the different ships in combat yet. I’m also not manually controlling my ship yet because I’m terrible. :)

Fleet composition is a multi-page essay, but I’ll try to keep it short.

The character skills in the game suggest fleet compositions to try:

  • Wolfpack Tactics for a fleet of frigates
  • Phase Corps for a phase fleet
  • Derelict Contingent if you want a junker fleet (seriously this skill is funny)
  • A mix of skills if you want a “balanced” fleet

The other major limiter is officers. Ships with a fully levelled officer (and they level fast – make sure to mentor all your officers) are much stronger than ones without. You can have up to 8 or 10 officers depending on your skills, so shoot for using not too many more ships than that to start. Some ships definitely fare better than others without officers, but don’t worry about that for now.

The other major limit is deployment points in combat. With the default battle size (300), you can only deploy ~180 points of ships in a fight. There are a few skills that discourage you from having larger than a 180 point fleet, so use that as an upper bound.

With 180 points to work with, you’ll want a mix of big and small ships. 2 or 3 cap ships make a strong backbone. You want the little guys around to keep the big ones from being overwhelmed by numbers or flanked. They are also essential for the early race to capture control points. Frigate and destroyer officers should have Gunnery Implants to increase your fleet’s ECM rating.

I think a 2 to 1 ratio of big ship DP to small is good. So, for a 180 point fleet, 120 in capitals, 60 in frigates and destroyers. Make sure you put officers in frigates and destroyers that have Gunnery Implants for the aforementioned ECM bonus. If you have more ECM than the enemy, they lose range up to 20%, and vice versa if yours is lower.

Commissions are definitely your best bet. Military worlds like Jangala, Sindria, and Kazeron have pristine ships you can buy as you get more reputation with a faction. Keep in mind most of the cost of a ship is maintaining it since they all use supplies and fuel constantly.

Each faction has its own ships:

  • Hegemony has low tech ships: slow, heavy armor, shitty shields, and lots of dakka
  • Tri-Tachyon Corp has high tech: fast, great shielding, and heavily rely on energy weapons
  • Persean League and Sindrian Diktat have midline ships: kind of a mix between the two
  • Luddic Path have aggressive ships that almost all have Safety Overrides. They’re flown by religious fanatics who get in your face and gun you down up close
  • Pirates fly big fleets of shitty junkers, so if you’re mostly killing those, you’ll see more d-mods

The skill Field Repairs in the Industry tree gets you fewer d-mods when you salvage, and repairs d-mods for free every couple months! If you’re roleplaying a salvager, that or Derelict Contingent is a must.

Also, fight tougher fleets that don’t have as many d-mods in the first place. It’s tougher than beating up pirates, but if you can win, the salvage on average will be better.

On militarised subsystems, I understand every ship that has it goes towards your combat ship total (not a problem at the start but I guess will be if you want to max your point total with actual fighting ships).

Carriers are a fantastic class of ships and swarms of torpedo bearing fighters are terrifying - ordinarily they bump off shields but if just catch even a capital ship with its shields down or facing the wrong way to really ruin its day. So far, I’m thinking numbers of low tech bombers/heavier torpedos > fewer higher tech fighters/fancy blasters.

Fast frigates can grab one or two of the important objective points in the battle which will, if I am the smaller side, give me a sometimes huge bump in reinforcement points allowing me to bring in more ships immediately. Once these points are spent I can lose the objectives and go into the negative but that’s fine; I usually scramble to bring in an additional cruiser or two which makes all the difference.

edit: one other point is burn speed - keep in mind your entire fleet burns at the speed of your slowest ship. Something to think about before you grab that gigantic slow freighter.

Thanks for all the info! I’m thinking I might start a new playthrough with the things I’ve learned. Not that things are going poorly necessarily, but sometimes it’s nice starting with a clean slate once you’ve figured out a bit what you’re doing (and what not to do)!

I’ve been trying to use multiple carriers in my fleet in the mid-game but their effectiveness has been nerfed in this update to the point I am seriously considering dropping all but one of them. This seem to be the the result of two things. The dedicated carrier skills were removed from the skill tree, and some of the fighter craft themselves were nerfed. Add in a zillion AI officers in opposing fleets and this combination means carriers just aren’t very effective anymore except for the early game. I’m disappointed because I love carriers.

I’m not sure why the developer seems hell bent on narrowing the ways to play his game to the ‘proper way’.

Maybe the echo chamber of the vocal hardcore few.

I can’t speak for this game but it’s definitely a problem I’ve witnessed in a lot of games with long development. Warframe is an example of a game that to me used to be a lot more varied, but the hardcore just wanted speed speed speed for everything, because they just wanted to grind and rush everything. So now everything has to be hyperspeed all the time. There’s no stealth or working your way through levels anymore, it’s just sprinting everywhere and annihilating rooms of opponents at a time. They added a spaceship mode to the game which was a lot slower paced at first but once again due to complaints from the hardcore about it being slow, they’re revamping to be the same hyper speed as the rest of the game.

It’s really turned me off on the game at this point as the “turn it to 11” approach 100% of the time gets stale really fast for me. In any case, given how long Starsector has been in development and how relatively isolated it has probably been (being sold directly on the website and not Steam for an infusion of new users), I could see how much of the feedback would be coming from a subset of the hardcore.

I ended up with multiple carriers in my fleet not by design but just by chance. They didn’t seem very effective to me but I chalked that up to me being new to the game and not understanding how to use them well.

I don’t think this is the case for this game. Few Redditors or forum members call for these kinds of nerfs because it’s a single player game. There are quite a few who express similar opinions as here.

What is the case is that the dev has a ruthless eye towards nerfing any type of “cheese”. Over the years, this has included:

  • Frigate kiting (the whole CR system was implemented to combat kiting)
  • Cap ship spam
  • Carrier spam
  • Drover spam (these guys were absolutely gutted in this patch)
  • Pilum spam
  • …and so on

It’s tricky because mass carriers were way too good in the previous patch. However, there’s game balancing, and there’s what we have now where the number of ways to play the game continues to narrow.

You sand all the edges off the game design you stand a good chance by 1.0 of making something rather boring and tedious to play.

Since I only ever play SP I’ve no interest in balance. I’m much more concerned whether I’ve got interesting decisions to make.

Agreed. Much of the reason both MOO and MOM are classics that I still enjoy are those edges are fun to explore and try to base a strategy around. Sanding those edges may make a more realistic simulation, while at the same time making a less fun strategy game. I think this is why Im not enjoying recent updates to those games as much as I would otherwise have expected. The goal for me is fun and interesting choices, not ‘more realistic’ or even ‘less cheese’. Finding cheese is great fun. For me.

I agree. I think rather than preventing cap ship, carrier or drover spam, he’d be better served simply programming the AI to do it, too. That way people could play how they like and the AI could throw some of that same OP crap right back at you. If he’d done that he probably would have reached version 1.0 by now and we’d have plenty of interesting play options.

I mean, if building a fleet of all carriers is always the best choice, which it unquestionably was last patch, that doesn’t seem like a super interesting “choice” to me.

I guess you could choose to make the game harder for yourself and go against the meta. I also understand it’s fun to find the new cheese in any given patch. But there is definitely some cheese in this patch to find.

If you want to argue that he over-nerfed carriers I don’t really have a strong opinion about that at this time. But I don’t really see how making something not obviously the best results in a sanded down game without choices to make.

Having never built a fleet of any single ship, I’ve no idea how effective it was or wasn’t. But I do know that game development that spends years refining out of existence what the player base finds effective or entertaining to build is an interesting approach to game development.

It’s not so much in pursuit of a design vision as reacting over the space of 8 years to what your players did with it.

If what pops out the other side as 1.0 proves an entertaining game then I guess I’ll be proven wrong on how backwards I view this approach.

Maybe it’s just because I play with mods but carriers still seem effective to me. Just not the automatic go-to. But maybe in vanilla they completely suck? Like I said he may have over-nerfed them and I realize it isn’t fun to have your preferred playstyle nerfed for most people.

But I don’t know why anyone would play this game vanilla, it is way better with mods.

Last patch (and this patch) I liked to have about 4 to 5 carriers total in my fleet. Two destroyer size, two cruiser size and one capital cruiser. I deploy 2 to 3 of those depending on the battle and available DP. Last patch that was pretty effective. This patch it’s not.

For me, I’ve never liked the idea of a full carrier fleet but there must be a better way of dealing with it rather than to make me take them out of my fleet altogether because they suck. As I said, they’re pretty good in the early game but get worse and worse as the game goes on.

I’m a noob so could be completely wrong, but it seems like when your carrier has to face off against an opponent that has officers (and that seems like almost every engagement after a certain point?) most of them have uber PD and your strike craft just get annihilated. That may just be me not knowing what I’m doing, for sure.

@MisterMourning, what mods do you recommend?

I seem to be running carriers fine but I’m deploying battle carriers for the most part ie carriers that double up as cruisers. A pure carrier fleet previously would still get chewed up if the enemy ran enough PD although it was generally OP. I do feel it’s better now.

I also feel that frigate survivability and utility has improved; maybe it was just me but frigates of every nature seemed to melt before my cruisers/battleships all the time. Now they are super annoying and point capping with frigates is almost an absolute necessity.

No, I think that’s exactly right. You can have a max of 8 officers (10 with the high level leadership skill). The AI can have 20 and it’s a killer right now. I’ve been running only bombers with torpedoes on my carriers since interceptors and fighters dies like flies now (Broadswords seem to survive the best). At least with torpedoes the bombers can release them and fly back before they get slaughtered.

Yeah, with the new combat skills frigate spam may be the next meta.