Also, once you're done with designing and start building LOTS of ships. Do you keep all of them in fleets? I am discovering that it is really really hard to manage individual ships, especially if they are on their own and not in a fleet. Is it just widespread, standard practice to always have a ship in a fleet for easier management?
Aside from resupply ships, I put all of the ships that I'm going to actively control, and many of the ships that I'm not going to actively control, into fleets. Sometimes I'll have a cheap escort design that I'll just build lots of and leave automated and unfleeted for the computer to play with, though that rapidly gets annoying in wartime; the computer's quite good at sending lone escorts on suicide raids.
Based on the responses, looks like in Distant Worlds Universe it is much better to have generalised ships instead of highly specialised ones. This is very different from my previous RTS experience of having to manage a ton of different specialised units. Lots to get used to! And I guess if my designs are generalised I'll also be able to avoid the problem of having multiple designs under the same role? I did observe that if I try to have a bit of everything I tend to easily max out my ship sizes for every design/role.
I wouldn't look at it as a lack of specialization so much as it being a different kind of specialization. A capture fleet, for example, is going to want a rather different kind of ship than a battle fleet would; capture fleets want just enough firepower to take out the shields but not enough firepower to risk seriously damaging the target, whereas battle fleets are not terribly concerned about preserving the target (and, in fact, preserving the target can easily be seen as being diametrically opposed to the purpose of the battle fleet - the battle fleet is arguably there to destroy the target, or at least drive it off). Thus, a capture ship might carry ion cannons (to degrade the target's ability to fight back without damaging it), tractor beams (to keep the target in close proximity), and jump inhibitors (to prevent the target from running), and might be relatively fast or heavily shielded but with a somewhat light armament. A battleship, on the other hand, might use graviton beams to pin the target and degrade its performance rather than a mix ion cannons and tractor beams like the capture ship did, and it might not bother with jump inhibitors - if you take the position that a battle fleet's job is to secure control of local space, making the other guy run away fulfills the requirements, probably reduces the threat to your fleet more rapidly than destroying the other guy does (though it probably takes longer to completely eliminate the threat), and allows you to concentrate your fleet's fire more rapidly (because less targets are in the area at any given time), and dropping the jump inhibitor frees up space for additional weapons or defenses. A hunter-killer, debatably unlike a battleship, probably wants the jump inhibitors to keep the enemy from running, but it doesn't really want the ion cannons and boarding pods of the capture ships, and graviton beams may be adequate for pinning the target; the hunter-killer may also sacrifice some of its defensive strength for greater speed to better catch its targets, as hunter-killers aren't really intended for fair fights (unlike battleships, which want to be able to go toe to toe with ships in their own weight class, and also unlike capture ships, which want the target to survive the engagement and so are more likely to sacrifice firepower for staying power and speed than staying power for firepower and speed). The game's generic bombardment weapons are either completely useless in fleet actions (Nuclear Devastators and Exterminators) or perhaps not as good as other anti-ship weapons at their tech level (Heavy and Massive Railguns), and on top of that need to be used in great numbers if they're to have an effect on a mid-size or larger colony in a relatively short time frame, which suggests the creation of dedicated monitors rather than the addition of a bombardment weapon or two on the larger ship designs; since the monitors will be of limited use in fleet actions, this further suggests creating special bombardment squadrons (both for convenience - the monitors can be given separate target orders from the battle fleet - and to help keep the monitors safe), much as is the case with troop transports.
< Message edited by Aeson -- 5/29/2015 7:00:16 PM >