Note that this was written from the perspective of a Rank 8 player. However it also covers the basics and is therefore suitable for all player ranks.
Fleet design drives Ship Design in that it determines the requirements for our ship designs. Depending on the architecture of the formation, the requirements of a ship's design is determined by its placement in the formation and therefore, its function.
A standard fleet fills a 3x3 grid, each location on this grid is called a stack, allowing for 9 stacks of no more than 3,000 ships. Therefore, a full fleet consists of no more than 27,000 ships. Each stack is limited to a single design and you cannot mix ship designs on the same stack; they must be uniform. Adjacent stacks may be completely different ships, however.
Within this formulation there are many possible architectural variations.
Components of a FleetEdit
- Note: This follows Fleet Design Documentation Conventions
A fleet has a leading edge or front. In these diagrams, the front is at the top. Other terminology is Rank and File, corresponding to rows and columns, with the first rank at the top and the first file being on the left. The in-game nomenclature for each position is a Stack and is limited to 3,000 ships. Ergo, a fleet can have a maximum of 27,000 ships (9 STacks of 3,000 ships each).
Position mapping of a fleet 1st File 2nd File 3rd File Attack Power 1st Rank Left shoulder Head Right Shoulder 100% 2nd Rank Left Flank Glasshouse Right Flank 90% 3rd Rank Left Rear Tail Right Rear 75%
First Rank (100% Attack Power)Edit
- Left Shoulder - First Rank, First File
- Head - First Rank, Second File - Optional Nose Gunner position
- Right Shoulder - First Rank, Third File
Second Rank (90% Attack Power)Edit
- Left Flank - Second Rank, First File
- Glasshouse - Second Rank, Second File - Most protected position, usually contains Glass Cannons but may also contain Flagships.
- Right Flank - Second Rank, Third File
Third Rank (75% Attack Power)Edit
- Left Rear - Third Rank, First File
- Tail - Third Rank, Second File - Second best protected position., vulnerable only to rear assaults. - Optional Tail Gunner position
- Right Rear - Third Rank, Third File
- The Glasshouse is the single best proteced position in any Phalanx.
- The second best protected position is the Tail Gunner position.
- Both Shoulders are equally the most vulnerable positions due to exposure to both frontal and flank assaults.
- Most critical position is the Head since it has second highest exposure to assault and has to protect the Glass Cannons or Flagships in the Glasshouse.
- In-game reference is the help reference(?) under "Military->Create Fleet"
Do you intend the fleet to assume an aggressive or defensive posture? Or something in-between? Fleet posture is determined by three things: Role, Composition and Orders
The very first thing you need to decide is the role a fleet is meant to play in the overall strategy during a battle. A list of possible roles (or any combination thereof) could include:
- Fleet is meant to withstand a specific weapon type, particularly strong enemy missiles and/or fighters.
- Fleet is a decoy, meant to draw enemy fire and absorb/reflect damage (or maybe even be expendable).
- Fleet is a death-dealing arsenal, bristling with weapons.
- Fleet is meant to engage in close combat / likely to come under flank attack.
- Fleet is meant to engage at long-range / susceptible mostly to frontal attack.
- Fleet is slow and lumbering or fast and nimble.
- Fleet is balanced, meant to handle itself well in diverse situations.
- Fleet is meant to drain enemy He3 reserves, or outlast enemy He3 reserves.
- Fleet is meant to minimize scatter damage effects.
Once you have decided what a fleet is meant to do, you can start thinking about composition, most effective formation, ship builds, etc.
Orders and CompositionEdit
Along with setting weapon range, there are 6 possible targeting command choices used to control fleets:
- max/min attack: Compares sum of MAX attack (not average or min attack), limited by effective stacks, decides which fleet has highest/lowest max attack. Note that the listed stats on the left when viewing a fleet have the sum of the min attack instead. Does NOT account for commander's accuracy, weapon ranks, etc.
- max/min durability: Counts BOTH structure and shields, on all ships in fleet (ignores negation and air-interception), listed as "struct" in fleet stats summary, but does count both struct and shields.
- closest: min squares distance (non-diagonal), unknown in ties
- commander: highest star rank commander of fleets in range
The enemy uses these same command choices. Thus it is possible to compose and give orders to your fleets in such a way that they either
- fulfill two or more of these criteria.
- fulfill none of them.
That way you can know beforehand with a large degree of certainty if a fleet is likely to come under attack or not, which will in turn affect the fleet's formation and the ships you decide to use.
However, fleets which fulfill none of the criteria but are the only fleet in range will still be targeted by ships with targeting set to other fields than closest.
Example: You are forming 6 fleets. One fleet contains 3 stacks of tanks, fulfilling the min attack and durability criteria. One fleet contains 9 stacks of tanks and glass cannons, fulfilling the max attack and durability criteria. Each of these fleets is set to fire from minimum range. The other four fleets are composed of glass cannons in such a way that they neither have the minimum durability nor maximum attack, and are set to fire from long range.
In the ensuing battle, the two tank fleets move in close to the enemy, while the 4 other fleets engage from a distance. The enemy has no way to target the 4 glass cannon fleets, since they fulfill none of the available 6 criteria, thus as long as the tank fleets don't get destroyed, the 4 other fleets are unlikely to ever come under fire.
Most encounters in battle will be head-on, somewhat less on the flanks, and few on the rear. Given simple circumstances, an attack on a stack will not effect the stack behind it. However, technology research complicates things by enabling scattering and penetration damage. An adjacent stack can receive as much as 30% of the damage of the attacked stack via scattering damage.
The main factor in the firepower available to the fleet is the Effective Stack and that is controlled strictly by the hull type and the fleet Commander's rank. Details may be had via the Effective Stack page. Suffice it to say, the attack power of a stack is limited by this number. The standard values are:
A fleet is not considered fully combat ready unless each stack is equal to its Effective Stack value. In the instance of Battleships, this means that each battleship stack has at least 900 ships in it. The percentage of Combat Readiness for each stack would be;
- Note: Remember to include the bonuses given by a Star Commander in your Effective Stack value (there is no star bonus with Common Commanders).
- Note: The game will not let you mix different ship designs in the same stack.
There are only four general types of weapons in the game.
- Do not mix weapons types in a ship.
- Do not mix weapons types within a fleet.
The above rules are obvious when you consider the different ranges of the weapons types. One weapon type or the other will never fire during a normal engagement.
That said, one can mix different modules of the same weapons type to your hearts content, in-game. However, that still isn't wise. For maximum effect, ships should only mount identical modules of the same weapon.
- AKA Ballistic Weapons, augmented by Ballistics Science. These are weapons with short range, no Cool Down; basically, cannons and other artillery.
- AKA Directional Weapons, augmented by Directional Science. These are weapons with medium range, 1-2 Cool Down; basically, lasers and other directed energy weapons.
- Missile Weapons, augmented by Missile Science are self-guided munitions with longer range, 3-4 Cool Down; basically, rockets and other self-guided munitions.
- AKA Ship-Based Weapons, augmented by Ship-Based Science. These are weapons with maximum range, high Cool Down; basically, fighters and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs; Predator drones on steroids).
Defense, on the other hand can use the total shields and struct of every ship in the stack.
A fleet is not considered fully Battle Ready unless each stack is fully populated. The percentage of Defense Readiness for each stack would be;
- Battle Readiness = Number of ships in stack / 3000
Note: Battle Readiness includes Combat Readiness.
Fleet Battle speedEdit
No fleet will move faster than the slowest vessel. Ships with a MOV value of 7 will move no faster than the ship with a MOV of 3, if it is in the same fleet. This is a particular consideration when buying ships from the Trading Center (also known as the Auction House) and/or the Corporate Mall. Those faster ships are wasting Volume Units that would be better spent for shields and weapons.
That said, there are distinct advantages to having fleets with high MOV values but gaining those values will cost in terms of defense or weapons power. The important thing is to pick a standard speed (5-8 recommended for Player Ranks less than 4 and 10 or more for Rank 5 and above) and build all of your ships to that specification.
Ratings and other Figures of MeritEdit
With all of the variations, fleets are difficult to rate on merit. The game lists ATK power, struct, shields, and storage but that isn't the whole story. The better data would be Readiness and that's more an internal measurement that is less useful for determining relative values that could compare two fleets.
Commanders are very important to a fleet. While a commander's star ranking and its impact on Effective Stack may stand prominent as the obvious reason for having a Star Commander, their skill level is also important and is not inconsequential.
The salient skill levels depend on the composition of the fleet be it Battleships, Cruisers, or Frigates. The Commander must be at least a B skill level (Driver's License, if you will) for each vessel type used in the fleet. A B skill level is neutral, with neither bonus or detriment to the fleet.
Flagships, based on Battleship hulls like the Black Hole or any Humaroid Flagship, are best commanded with high Battleship Skills. The Independence, currently the only Flagship based on a Cruiser, is better commanded with high skills in Cruisers. If both ship types are used in the same fleet then the minimally competent commander is one that is rated at least B in both Cruisers and Battleships.
Equally important are skills with the weapons type assigned to the fleet, be it Guns, Beams, Missiles, or Fighters. As with the driver's license, a rating of B or better is desired. However, unlike the driver's license, multiple weapons types, even in the same fleet are strongly deprecated (discouraged), due to mutual exclusion issues. Ergo, only a single skill level, depending on the fleet weapons type, is required.
You can use an existing Commander that is normally deficient in such skill ratings by enhancing that commander with gems. Notably, Battleship and Cruiser Diamonds of level III or better, with a weapons diamond of levels III or better. Even Common Commanders may be assigned Diamonds.
However, skill diamonds are expensive. The only way to get them in-game is to buy them with Mall Points and it takes 256 skill diamonds to merge into a Level V diamond. It is considered to be more cost-effective to have a set of the approriate level III-V diamonds assigned to each fleet, which you assign to the Commander during commissioning.
That said, Commanders may only have a maximum of three diamonds. Practically, this would limit a fleet design to two ship types and a single weapons type, unless the commander already has a relevent ship or weapons rating of B or better. In which case another skill diamond may be substituted, such as an additional ship type rating (Frigate or even an EXP diamond).
While Commanders may have other skills and attributes, they are considered incidental to this discussion.
- Fills all 9 stacks. Used when you are trying to concentrate as much firepower into one fleet as possible. Also provides the most choices for defensive formations. Susceptible to scatter effects from all weapon types.
- The central stack and the 3 or 4 adjacent stacks are filled. Used when you wish to protect the central stack from likely flank and rear attacks but need to economize on numbers of ships. This formation is also less vulnerable to scatter damage from ballistic and directional science than the Phalanx.
- Only the first and second ranks are filled. Maximizes firepower by concentrating all your ships into the rows that get 100% and 90% bonuses, respectively. Best used when it is fairly certain enemy attacks will be coming from the front. Reduces or eliminates vulnerability to scatter damage from ballistic and directional science.
- 3 stacks are used, each occupying its own rank and file. While reducing overall firepower, the fleet is no longer susceptible to flank or rear attacks. Used with either Tank or Core designs when a decoy fleet is needed to draw enemy fire with a minimum of ships, and it is likely attacks will come from all directions. Eliminates scatter damage from both directional and ballistics sciences.
- Concentates firepower in the front rank and central file and reduces vulnerability to enemy flank attack. Also produces a Core-Shooter Formation effect.
- A variation of a Battle Line, with added defensive ships to the left or right to protect that flank. A specialized formation useful when you know sustained enemy attacks are likely from a specific flank.
- Involves deploying your tanks in the back rows. This formation is rarely advantageous compared to the other fleets already mentioned, except in the special case when enemy attacks from the rear are most likely. Also useful if your fleet is generally running away from enemies during cooldown times.
- Stronghold - A variation on the Phalanx
Ship Design typesEdit
- Meat Shield - No offence, pure defense
- Tanks - low offence, heavy defense
- Head - The Flagship, Nose Gunner, or heavy Tank stack
- Core - General combat, balanced offence and defense
- Glass Cannon - Maximum offence, minimal defense.
- Tail - More bias towards ATK but more DEF than a Glass Cannon.
- Deadly Scouts - No offence, no defense, little movement