I made this guide because there is little information on the web concerning Distant Worlds ship design, something which confused me a little at first, so maybe this will help some who are having difficulties making good ships. I am by no means an expert on the subject, so any additional advice offered would be greatly appreciated and I will add it into this post. If you spot something I got wrong let me know and I will change it accordingly. This guide may not reflect everyones different views, but I believe it to be a good idea of general guidelines, the only real limit is your imagination.
I will start with some additional information about the ship design window that could have either been missed in the manual, added in a patch, or generally overlooked. I will start at the top left and describe the windows individually going right, then down.
Tip: The above ship slightly does not meet my recommendation for energy output, energy seems to be allocated in the following order Basic Power > Engines > Weapons, however, every now and then one torpedo not firing does not merit the space for another reactor on this small torpedo ship. Torpedos seem to be more lenient on energy than lasers do, this may be due to their slower rate of fire. Regardless, this ship preforms fine.
Role and Battle Tactics Panel (A)
Heres where you specify the type and size of the ship, and what actions it will take during combat. I generally use Standoff for stronger and weaker opponents, with the exception of ships that I want to use as "Tanks", if you are unfamiliar with what a tank is in RPG lingo it basically means a ship that it meant to take the damage that would otherwise go to some more important ship. This is an important section because if you designate a ship to attack a space port, and have it set to All Weapons, it may venture into the space ports firing range and get tore up by their sometimes limitless laser blasters, if you are going to assault a spaceport, bring some standoff type ships, maybe some tanks to clear up the riffraff, but I would leave them behind when attacking a port or well armed base. All Weapons causes the ship to stay within range of all its weapons, Anything I create with this setting I like to add additional shields and lasers, these are the only types of ships I put extra lasers on. Point Blank range does exactly that, charges at the enemy full blast, starbases and space ports also have Point Blank as their default setting, though I do not think it affects their behaviour anyhow if you change it. I have yet to use this setting thoroughly, but I can speculate that more vector engines wouldn't hurt, sometimes even using All Weapons my defensive ships bypass the enemy and must turn around. A Point Blank ship loaded up with engines and wave weapons makes for a nasty tank, especially if its followed by torpedo escorts. The invasion drop down box will tell your ships when to invade, its pretty self explanitory, though, if someone knows the exact specifications of Invade When Clear, tell me and I will add it, I have assumed that it means to invade when there are no enemies in the general vicinity, but it could mean the entire system. The Flee When box determines if you want your ships to try and escape or not, if it is a slow ship, I usually leave it on Never. If you are going to make armed explorers or constructors, be sure to switch this to your prefered setting so they don't run from a pirate with a peashooter.
Warning Panel (B)
Pretty much sells itself, keep in mind though, it will not tell you if you do not have enough energy for your weapons and engines to operate effectively. The information you need for that is at the bottom in the weapons tab. If anything here is red, you will not be able to use the ship, if its yellow, you can but you may not be able to build it, or it may be underpowered.
Energy Panel (C)
Despite being one of the smallest panels, this is one of the most important. Energy Collection is the amount of energy brought in by Energy Collectors, the things that look like solar panels, they will help you conserve fuel by providing energy for your ships during downtime, but only while within a system with a star, and varies as you get closer to the star. Reactor Power Output is the total amount of energy your reactors provide, and Static Energy Use is the amount of power the ship needs for basic operation, this is just what you need to turn the ignition key, not to engage in combat. Excess Energy Output is the amount of energy your ship produces in excess of its basic operations, it is important because in order for your ship to fight to its fullest, this number must be greater than both "Maximum Weapons Energy use per second" in the Weapons tab, AND the energy cost of "Sprint" in your Movement tab, this is one of the things that confused me at first and caused me to make ineffective ships, I would like to thank the people of the matrix games dw forum for clearing this up for me. The way ships function in battle is that when they close into range of an enemy, they will fire an initial blast of everything they can, then begin firing more sparatically, this is why you want your energy output and storage to be more than what you weapons require, if your ship cannot hold enough energy for this initial burst, you need to add more reactors, otherwise the ship will use all of its energy and do nothing except move around and fire the occasional laser. At first you may be attracted to the number by your Firepower, but energy is much more important. This panel will also display your ships Fuel specifications and storage capacity below the reactor information. Fuel units per energy units is your fuel efficiency, this is how much fuel it takes to make 1000 units of energy, this value increases slightly as your progress in reactor technology. In future patches It would be nice to have the Weapons Energy Usage and Engines Energy Usage here below Static Energy Usage, maybe they will add it.
Availible Components Panel (D)
This panel lists all of your availible components to install onto a ship, I believe there is a minor flaw in this panel, it hides all older components of a particular line when the Only Show Latest Components box is checked, while this is exactly what it says it does, some previous technologies are superior in certain aspects, such as Velocity Shards having signifigantly better range than Epsilon Torpedos, so be sure to keep that in mind when designing range based ships. I can't remember if it hides HyperDeny / Wave weapons as well, i'll check that and change this accordingly. You can also click Show Component Guide to receive information about that component line, click the arrows to go back and forth in the technology tree and it also shows what resources are required to manufacture that component.
Design Components Panel (E)
This is the list of components in your current design, nothing much to it. Click Show Construction Summary to get a list of components and required resources for the ship. Add and remove components with the arrows to the left. One thing that bothers me about these two windows is that they will auto center putting the selected component at the top, annoying when dealing with multiples. I would love it if in the next patch they simplified this with a "Group Multple Components" checkbox. Because of this be sure to click on the bottom most component when removing, otherwise you may unintentionally remove something you wanted.
Movement Panel (F)
A nice little display telling you about the propulsion of your ship and its energy requirements, pay attention to this when adding reactors as you can easily overlook adding enough energy for your ship to move like it wants, this energy information is not included in Static Energy Usage. Impulse is the speed of your ship when its out of fuel, Cruise is its normal speed when moving around or doing small tasks, Sprint is how fast your ship moves when intercepting enemies or running away, Hyper is its speed when preforming a hyperspace jump, it does not increase with more hyperdrives. Acceleration increases with the number of engines and Turn Rate increases with more vector thrusters, all values in this panel will decrease as the size of your ship goes up, with exception to the energy requirements, which will change as you add or remove engines. For most medium sized ships, I try to keep the cruise at 15-20, some like to make them faster, the sky is the limit on speed specialist ships, depending on how small and fast you can make them while still being effective. When redesigning colony ships, be sure to give it enough engines, if you strip it down, it can take an eternity to move the small distance from its jump destination to the planet. You can make defensive ships with a speed of 1 to patrol important locations, but keep in mind they may jump across the system for one reason or another, with no hope of catching any invasion ships.
Industry Panel (G)
Displays logistical information about your ship or base. If someone is more knowledgable on manufacturing components let me know and I will put it here, the Galactopedia says to put 1 of each type of manufacturing component per construction yard. Other values here are pretty self explanitory, if I discover anymore useful information i'll add it here.
Component Detail Panel (H)
Information on the currently selected component, gives much of the same information that can be found by clicking the Show Component Guide button.
Weapons Panel (I)
Lists all of the weapons you have installed onto your ship, to the right it will tell you the total firepower of your ship, its shortest and longest ranges, and additional offensive values and modifiers. Shortest range does not mean your ship cannot attack within that range, it is simply the max range of your shortest range weapon. Targeting is the value of your ships computer modifier. Be sure to add enough reactors to cover the Maximum Weapons Energy use per second value. One troop equals 100 units.
Defense Panel (J)
Shield and Armor values are self explanitory, recharge rate is affected by the number of shields you have installed and the level of technology you have achieved in shielding components, this value also stacks with additional shield components. Reactive armor strength is the amount of damage your armor can nullify, additional damage will affect your ships armor, unlike shields, reactive armor values do not stack and are solely dependant on your armor technology. Countermeasures is the value of your ships ECM. Stealth Visibility Range is a topic that is thoroughly explained in the Galactopedia, the basic formula is "Visibility Range = ( Stealth Rating / Ship Size ) X 50%", I won't go into the details as its already pretty well explained, but basically it depends on the size of your ship and the level of your stealth component, stealth values do not stack. Damage Reduction and Repair Component are the values for your Damage Control and Repair Bots components respectively, Damage Control values do not stack.
General Tips and Guidelines
- Always make sure you provide enough energy for your design.
- Solar Collectors will help you conserve fuel for ships that have a lot of downtime, this varies due to the distance from a star, if your ship is not near a star, no energy is collected.
- Smaller ships turn much faster and move much quicker.
- Torpedo ships will help you destroy space ports and defensive bases, among other things.
- Carry bombardment weapons on ships that also carry troops, if a planet has too many troops for you to handle, nuke em! Everyone will hate you, but you will have a better 4th of july.
- Mount weapons on your valuable constructors and exploration ships to avoid having to build seperate combat ships to cover them, or having to run away from an 8 firepower pirate ship.
- Civilian ships can only carry one weapon, make it a torpedo and give it some engines.
- Be sure to give colony ships, cargo transports, and constructors enough movement for normal space travel.
- Don't overlook the vectoring thrusters, as your ships will first charge straight to their desired range then attempt to turn.
- Ships will Alpha Strike with everything they can when they come within range, give them enough energy production and storage to do this properly.
- The generally accepted "best" ship seems to be a fast torpedo ship. Same as most 4x space strats, on a side note, the Soviet Navy also put its faith in this concept (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osa_class_missile_boat)
- It may be profitable to strip the games default small space port to just the basics with a few docks so cargo ships will collect more valuable resources cheap.
- Build an Industrial Base, a station with the sole purpose of industrial research to make bigger ships faster, this could double as your military shipyard, if a black hole or research boosting special is nearby, it pays to build your labs here.
- Maintenance costs will kill you if you let it, as I get more tips on maintenance I will post them here
- Pirates will copy your ship designs up to the Destroyer class.
- Escorts default AI will cause them to... well, escort. Automated, they will escort other ships and not leave the system to attack enemies, unlike the other combat ship roles.
- Make some heavily shielded troop ships to do nothing but raid enemy planets, if you are successful, you will take control of any enemy spaceports or bases still orbiting the planet.
- As of patch 18.104.22.168, I do not believe resupply ships will resupply anything, apparently this will be fixed in the next patch.
Eventually I will post some designs I like here, or others designs I will copy and paste to this first post if it gets stickied, for now though, im done writing.
ES7 LR6 (The above ship)
Basic slow granny torpedo escort with sensors, if the AI made these, the game would be little more challenging, pirates will though.
1x Combat Computer
1x Command Center
1x Prox Array
2x Hab Module
2x Life Support
6x Epsilon Torpedo
4x Fuel Cell
4x Thrust Vector
Same as ES7 LR6, except speed/range based for dealing with faster ships, fishmans recommendation. Engines doubled, torpedos halved. Keep one handy in case you need to buttorp the klingon armada. All jokes aside, speed is a very important factor in torpedo ships.
1x Combat Computer
1x Command Center
1x Prox Array
2x Hab Module
2x Life Support
3x Velocity Shard
4x Fuel Cell
4x Thrust Vector
Thanks to Fishman, Erik Rutins, exelsiar, VarekRaith, and Astorax for bringing me up to speed on the energy systems of ships as well as some other info.
Have fun and happy hunting.
< Message edited by RSF777 -- 5/14/2010 10:05:39 AM >