#11 - When designing a ship, be aware that the ship's rated firepower is not necessarily an accurate reflection of its offensive power, as the firepower rating does not take account of either the rate of fire of the ship's weapons or the effects of engagement range. An extreme example of this can be seen with Death Rays and fully-upgraded Titan Beams; it takes about 62 fully-upgraded Titan Beams (372 size) to match the rated firepower of a single Death Ray (140 size) but only about 10 fully-upgraded Titan Beams (60 size) to match the theoretical maximum DPS of that Death Ray.
Accuracy issues can further exacerbate such issues, especially in an extreme case such as with Death Rays and Titan Beams; the variance in expected time to kill a given target goes up as the damage gets concentrated into fewer shots, which can make high damage-per-shot low rate-of-fire weapons riskier than low damage-per-shot high rate-of-fire weapons of equal or similar damage per second.
#12 - Speaking of weapons: It appears as though whether or not a weapon is in firing range is determined by the instantaneous range between the ship carrying the weapon and the target at which the weapon will be fired, not by whether or not the weapon's projectile can reach the target, given the instantaneous range to the target and the current velocity of the target, prior to expiring due to passing beyond maximum weapon range. This is typically not an issue, though it can sometimes become one in chase scenarios with high-speed late-game vessels.
Similarly, I believe, though I am not positive of this, that the damage lost by a shot is determined by the total distance traveled from time of firing to time of impact, not by the instantaneous range from weapon to target. Thus, ships will deal more than the expected amount of damage for the range at time of firing during closing maneuvers, and the pursuing ship in a chase scenario will deal less damage per shot to the chase than the chase will to the pursuit when both vessels are armed with identical weapons.
#13 - When selecting the defenses of a ship, consider the types of weapons you expect to encounter. Armor is relatively expensive both per component and per unit size invested by comparison to shield generators, and so it is in general better to invest more heavily in shields than armor when choosing defenses unless your expected opponents make heavy use of weapons which bypass shields (i.e. railguns and gravity weapons) or unless your primary concern with the design is survivability against space monsters. I believe that gravity weapons only bypass armor in that they can damage any component on the ship regardless of whether or not armor is present rather than always damaging non-armor components, so armor may still provide some protection against gravity weapons to more valuable components, if only because of how the presence of the armor components affects the probability that any given component will be randomly selected to take damage from a hit from a gravity weapon, though I am not certain of this and, depending on how the component struck is selected, the effect may not be very large (for example, if the probability that a given component will be struck is weighted by its size relative to the total size of the ship, armor components will only marginally affect the likelihood that a given component will be hit unless very large numbers of armor components are used for the design).
It may also be worth considering expected engagement duration and frequency when choosing which shield generators to use; longer engagement durations and higher engagement frequencies, which might be expected when fighting comparable empires or powerful pirate factions, tend to favor shield regeneration rate over maximum shield strength, whereas shorter engagement durations and lower engagement frequencies, which might be expected when dealing with weak empires and minor pirate factions, tend to favor maximum shield strength over shield regeneration rate. Shield regeneration rate should also be favored over maximum shield strength if the ships are expected to enter into engagements shortly after completion.
#14 - When choosing engagement stances, note that 'all weapons' and 'standoff' are effectively the same if the longest- and shortest-ranged weapons on the ship have the same maximum range; if you want torpedo-armed ships to take advantage of their higher close-range DPS against weaker targets, you will either need to add at least one shorter-ranged weapon to the design or use the 'point blank' engagement stance instead of 'all weapons.'
The 'evade' stance considers only the range of the weapons carried by the targeted ship and does not care about the range of the weapons on your own vessel. This can result in ships set to 'evade' an enemy target closing with hostile vessels (which, in turn, can result in the hostiles being able to fire upon your ships due to the non-instantaneous nature of maneuvers), and it can also result in ships refusing to move into firing range of a target. The only types of warships which I would suggest considering the 'evade' stance for are bombardment ships and maybe carriers, both of which generally have poor ship-to-ship capabilities.
Also note that the game only considers the rated firepower of the vessel and its target in their current conditions when determining whether something is 'stronger' or 'weaker;' the way range affects the ships' damage profiles, the rates of fire of the ships' weapons systems, and the strength of the defenses of the ships are not considered. While this is probably for the best from a computational complexity (and thus game performance) perspective, it also means that the engagement stance settings of a design may sometimes result in ships choosing poorly when selecting their desired engagement ranges.
#15 - Speaking of stances, note that the engagement range that a ship in a fleet action attempts to maintain appears to be determined relative to a single target, and that it appears as though that target will not be changed until the target is destroyed, the ship is given another order, or the ship is forced to flee from the engagement. This can cause issues for standoff-only designs (most or all of the armament consists of missiles and fighters) in engagements involving more than one hostile ship, as there is no guarantee that ship B, having been selected by ship A as ship A's target, will choose ship A as its target, nor is there any guarantee that ship A's maneuvers to remain at standoff range relative to ship B will keep it at standoff range relative to some hostile ship C.
#16 - Death Rays and Super Lasers are not necessarily worth the design cost and are probably best avoided, despite the impressive names and extremely high rated per-shot damage. They (in particular the Super Laser) have rather extreme size requirements which, especially earlier in the game, can make it difficult to create a design with adequate speed and defensive capabilities; on top of that, the superweapons' combination of high energy per shot and low time-average power requirements means that superweapon-armed ships can often have excess reactor outputs significantly higher than they can reasonably make use of, which may create a temptation to spend more size on power-hungry weapon and sublight drive components than is perhaps wise, which further increases the risk of making the ship too thin-skinned to be effective. The high size per component, high rated damage per shot, and low rate of fire of Death Rays and Super Lasers also conspire to create a very high variance in expected DPS (and therefore time to kill a given target) compared to other weapon systems, which can make designs which invest in Death Rays and Super Lasers very luck-dependent or necessitate a more significant investment into defenses to increase the probability that the ship will survive long enough to destroy its target. Super Lasers have the added issue that ships armed with them are capable of destroying planets, and destroying planets can cause issues for your empire's reputation and remove things from the game which you might have preferred to take over - e.g. Korrabian Spice, one of the ruin wonders, or those 300 elite ground units you just had your invasion transports drop on the planet a second ago - so I would suggest that if you have access to and want to use Super Lasers, you only use them on purpose-built planet-killers and you be very careful about what you target with them.
There have also been suggestions that Death Rays have inherently lower accuracy than standard blasters. I personally regard this as unlikely, though as I have not done any statistical analysis or data collection to test the hypothesis I cannot say with certainty that it is false. Regardless, I suspect that the nature of the weapon (its impressive name, large and arguably very visible projectile sprite, and high rated damage) conspire to make it more noticeable - and more memorable - when the weapon misses, as the observer, consciously or not, likely has higher expectations for each shot from the weapon than for shots from standard weapons. On top of that, the significantly greater volume and rate of fire of standard blasters as compared to Death Rays is in my opinion likely to make it difficult for a casual observer (i.e. one not carefully tracking the number of hits and total number of shots by each weapon system) to accurately judge the relative accuracy of the two weapon systems, especially in
On the plus side for Death Rays and Super Lasers, it's rather unlikely that any ship equipped with them will encounter anything that counts as 'stronger' until fairly late in the game (in fact, I'd expect most designs to regard themselves as 'weaker' if they engage something equipped with a Death Ray; a ship armed with just one Death Ray and nothing else will be considered 'stronger' than any ship with less than 1385 firepower, if the information in the game manual is accurate, which is roughly 48 fully-upgraded Titan Beams or 28 fully-upgraded Plasma Thunderbolts, which is a level of armament that I would not expect to see on a custom design of my own which was smaller than perhaps size-1000, and would more likely be found only on designs in excess of size-1200). I also wouldn't be terribly surprised to learn that rated firepower counted more heavily towards rated empire military power than any other combat-related ship statistic, and Super Lasers offer by far the greatest firepower per size of any weapon system (nearly four times that of Death Rays, which themselves have nearly 50% more firepower per size invested than the weapon system with the next-highest score), so if you want to develop a paper tiger military that makes the computer think you're too scary to go to war with, Death Rays and Super Lasers do a good job of inflating that score (granted, 'paper tiger' might not be a perfect descriptor for a space navy which has a large number of Super Laser-equipped ships; such vessels are unlikely to be particularly good at engaging other warships, but if you can blow up the planets of the enemy empire rapidly enough that doesn't really matter). That being said, I would not recommend the use of either Death Rays or Super Lasers on your primary warships. Special-use ships and things that might be better served by looking scary than by actually being scary, maybe, but not the mainstays of the fleet.
#17 - The jump initiation time statistic is arguably more important than the rated hyperspeed of a hyperdrive for ships intended for protecting the system in which they're stationed and perhaps also nearby systems; ships equipped with Kaldos Hyperdrives can reach points within about 0.2 sectors of the starting point of the jump before ships equipped with Equinox Jumpdrives can, and are also capable of completing jumps to points within the starting system before ships equipped with Equinox Jumpdrives finish initiating their jumps. Granted, especially out near 0.2 sectors from the origin of the jump, the difference in response time can be pretty small.
#10 - Ships can use multiple hyperdrive components to get "the best of both worlds".
Eg; a ship fitted with both a kaldos AND and equinox drive will use the short initiation of the kaldos to start its jump, but will then use the higher top speed of the equinox to travel.
However, this does not seem to apply to power consumption as the highest demand takes priority. So the calista-dal drive is still largely useless.
Another corollary to this is that there is arguably a reason to develop the final upgrade of the Kaldos Hyperdrive; mixing a fully-upgraded Kaldos Hyperdrive with a full-upgraded Torrent Drive produces a hyperdrive with a jump initiation time of 4 seconds, a hyperspeed of 36250, and a power requirement of 125. I think it's a bit questionable whether reducing the jump initiation time from 5 seconds to 4 is worth the higher power requirement and the additional research costs, however.
Also, even if mixed hyperdrives had the power requirement of the hyperdrive with the lowest power requirement or of the hyperdrive which provided the hyperspeed, I'd question whether mixing the Calista-Dal Warp Drive and Kaldos Hyperdrive would be better than mixing the Kaldos Hyperdrive and Equinox Jumpdrive as the gain in fuel efficiency just isn't that high, after factoring in the effect of the ship's static energy requirement; Calista-Dal + Equinox would probably also lose out over just the Equinox, as increased fuel economy and a marginal reduction in jump initiation time probably isn't worth the 9 size spent on the additional hyperdrive. I think, for the Calista-Dal to really become competitive with the Equinox and Kaldos drives, it would need at least one of three things: 1. It could be more of a true middle option between the Kaldos and Equinox Drives, for which it'd need a shorter jump initiation time (its hyperspeed is already okay for this). 2. It could have a higher hyperspeed so that its lower power requirement has a more useful impact on fuel economy, after static power requirements are accounted for. 3. It could be made into an unusually small hyperdrive, which could make it more competitive in single-hyperdrive setups and might make it the preferred second hyperdrive for dual-hyperdrive setups (an extreme option related to this would be to rework it into a backup or emergency hyperdrive - make it slow enough that you'd never use it as the primary, but if it were, say, size-3 it might be worth putting one onto high-value ships to make it less likely that those ships will lose their ability to jump to safety - though if that were done I'd be inclined to remove the requirement that it be developed before the Torrent Drive can be developed).
< Message edited by Aeson -- 12/8/2016 12:39:59 AM >