About Ship Design SuggestionsEdit
- The very first thing you should consider when reading this is that there is no one "perfect" design. There are several that work, and a near infinite number of designs that, for one reason or other, just don't work. What you need to come up with is a design that works for you, and for what you want it to do.
- The next thing is to review Fleet Design
The best two ways in game to learn what does and does not work are to do instances and league matches.
With Instances, you can see results right away, against opponents that you can find out everything about (such as hull type, installed modules and basic stats like shields and movement) through the corps mall (currently, almost all regular instance ships are available through the corps mall. If your corps does not have access to higher level mall ships, you can still preview the ships). Do note, however, that most corps mall ships have modules installed that go against the rules of normal, player designed ships (example: Mall 6 ship Encratos-A has Team Combat Engine x3, while a normal player can only fit one of these modules on any given hull).
With League Matches, you can see how other people design their ships. This is a little more tricky than with instances as you can't see everything that is in the hull, but you should be able to see, at a minimum, what weapons and shields the opponents ships have. Counting how far they move in a round should give you a rough guess of how many engines the ships have (there are two issues with this, one being that they may not move all of their movement for the duration of the battle, or the ships may have Team Combat or Anti-Matter Engines installed). If you attack your opponent with missiles or Ship-Based weapons, you can see what anti-air defenses, if any, are installed, and should you break down their shields you can see what armors, if any, are installed. In between each combat hover your mouse over the opponents fleets and see how they are setup for combat, you are looking specifically at what range (Min or Max) and what target (Closest, Max Attack, Min Durability, etc.) they are set for. Assuming that the fleets are not all set to "Min Range/Closest Target" (default fleet setting, and in my experience, the most common setting in league matches), you can begin to see a picture of how others use their ships in combat.
Lastly, spend some time in this wiki, learn the strengths and weaknesses of the different hulls and modules, and decide for yourself how to best use this information.
Using What You Have Learned:Edit
The first thing that you should do when you go to design your ships is have a plan. There is no one right answer to the question, "What do I want this ship to do, and how do I get it to do that?"; however, there are several right answers.
We will try to break this down into smaller, easily managable chunks: Mission, Armor Type and Size, Movement, Defenses, and Weapons. With the exception of Defenses and Weapons, this is the order of how you should consider your future builds, including installing modules.
As far as Mission (the "What do I want this ship to do" portion) goes, you really have two basic options: Player vs. Player (PvP, attacking neighbors, league matches, etc.) and Player vs. Environment (PvE, instances). Every single Player on your server will have a different setup and combination of ships, weapons, shields, etc. so should lead you to more rounded defense style and very specific weapons types for PvP. This means shields that work to fix the weaknesses of your armor because you never know for sure what will hit you, and very specific weapons types (such as missile or ballistics) that can punch through anything because you never know what you'd be up against. PvE is a different story, as you can research what ships are in each instance, find out what damage their weapons do and their defenses block, and design ships specifically to take them out. With proper ship design and fleet management, you can tell your ships what to attack and which ships attack them. Note: it is possible to design a ship that can do well in PvP and PvE.
Once you have a Mission, you need to pick out which hull (this is the begining of "How do I get it to do that?"; and is the Armor and Size section). will best accomplish your goal. While any of the three ship classes (Frigate, Cruiser, or Battleship) is good for any design, typically one of the three will stand out as better than the other two. There are also upsides and downsides to each hull type to consider. Frigates come out-of-the-box with at least +1 to movement and +1% to critical chance but are limited to two armor types while Battleships have more armor types to choose from and more room for modules, but have no movement bonus (there are exceptions to these generalizations, the FleetFoot Frigate comes wih +2 movement, the Hedgehog Frigate +3% to critical attack, and the RV766 The Explorer Battleship comes with +1 movement, to name but a few). For each hull type, you should consider the stacking efficiency, or the maximum number of ships in a stack that will use weapons. The number increases when using non-common commanders, and as the star level of those commanders increases (it is further complicated when you take into account skill, super and legendary commanders, but for the duration of this I will assume that you only have Common Commanders available). This number can be found when hovering the mouse over a ship design on the Build Ships interface, and is listed as "Ships: #"; the number is listed for a Common Commander. For Frigates the number is 1100, Cruisers 1000 and Battleships 900. Having more ships in a stack than the number listed, using a Common Commander, will not give you more firepower; however, you should not notice a decrease in firepower until the stack is reduced to below that number. Defenses (shields, armor, etc.) do stack to the full limit of the ship stack in a fleet, and a max stack of 3000 ships will have shield strength of the base ship x 3000 ships.
Two stacks of identical battleships are in a fleet, one at 900 ships and one at 2000 ships. Assuming a perfect shot, both stacks will do the same damage this round. A few rounds later the fleet has taken some damage and both stacks have been reduced to 654 and 1230, respectively. The smaller stack will do less damage than it did at its full strength while the larger one will show no change.
As far as Armor goes, Frigates use Neutralizing or Nano; Cruisers Regen or Chrome; and Battleships any of the four armors.
As for Size, along with the amount of space that the hull type has for modules, you have to consider He3 storage capacity as well. Frigates have the least, while Battleships have the most. Ballistic and Directional Battleships will last a very long time in combat (He3 wise) while a ship-based Frigate will only last a few rounds.
Once you have your desired hull figured out for your mission, you need to determine how fast you want it to go in combat. The basic Super Transmission Engine (STE) takes up the most space for the least movement points, but will have to carry you and your ships along until you can get the more advanced Team Combat (TCE) and Anti-Matter (AME) Engines. You can load up to 8 STEs provided your hull has the room, but are limited to one each of the TCE and AME. Typically, you should not need a movement of more than 6 in PvE and 4-5 in PvP, but like always, there are exceptions to that.
Now on to Defenses. For PvP (or PvE "generalized specialty" ships) you should focus on hardening your soft defenses, meaning adding shields that absorb damage that your hull is weak against. For PvE your shields should have some of this ability, however they should focus on absorbing damage from what is intended to be firing at these ships. Keep in mind the more Defenses you add in the less Weapons you can add in later. For both PvE and PvP, once you have the Eos Phase Shift Shield, you should use the Eos to replace most of the shields, using one or two of the shields that were for the design's mission (ex: use 5 Eos and 2 Detonator shields on a Howler-III to add extra protection against Explosives, one of the two weaknesses for its Chrome Armor).
In PvP ships, some form of anti-missile and anti-fighter defenses should be included. Try to remember that one is always better than none, and whatever makes it through the defenses will be absorbed by your shields. Remember that each anti-air module can attempt to block only one missile or ship-based weapon, so getting the "total" intercept rate to 100% does not mean total protection, merely enough to block 1-2 weapons. Keep in mind that the Anti-Aircraft Cannon and Powered Pulse Cannon increase intercept rate for both missiles and fighters. The PPC is therefore usually better than its type-specific counterparts, in spite of only a 55% rather than 65% intercept rate - unless you are certain of only being attacked by one of the two types of air attacks.
In PvE, the ships that are meant to get hit by missiles or fighters should be defended as such. In normal instances, Missile fleets will attack your fleet(s) with Max Attack and Ship-Based fleets will attack your fleet(s) with Max Durability.
For PvP, eventually you will run ito weapons that do damage to your hull regardless of what kind or how many shields you have. To help counter this, add in some armor modules. Also, if you'd rather use armor instead of, or in addition to, your shields in PvE, there's nothing saying that you can't.
Weapons are the meat and potatoes of your chosen Mission. You don't have to add in any at all, or can add in as many as would fit in your hull. Its all up to you. However, the most successful designs tend to have only one type of weapon on board, meaning that your ship should be all ballistics or all ship based. You can mix and match weapon typess for a very specialized hull design, but I would highly recommend against this. If you do go down this path, definately do not mix more than two types on a hull, you will lose effectiveness in your weapons. You can (and in some circumstances, should) mix weapons of the same type. This will give you the ability to deal damage to more kinds of armor for a given weapon type (ex: mix heat and kinetic ballistics weapons to increase effectiveness vs both heat weak and kinetic weak armors) but will lower your effectiveness overall against one or the other.
Before you finalize that design there are a few other things to consider, and that is basically other modules, such as Agility, ECM, Hull Maintenance, Shield Regen, etc., etc., etc. Anything that makes your ship live longer and kill faster should be added, but should be balanced with the mission in mind and available space.
Instance 17 Specialty Ship Design Example:Edit
What do I want it to do? Kill the Cerberus fleets in i17, then assist in cleaning up other fleets.
How do I get it to do that?:
I know that the Cerberus fleets in i17 use Magnetic weapons, and Neutralizing armor is perfect to mitigate that damage. I don't have any ship BPs past i16, so the best Hull that I have with Neutralizing armor is the Diaz (much too outdated for what I need) the FleetFoot and the Sparrow. Since Frigates do more damage vs. Battleships, this eliminates the Diaz as a contender. The Sparrow has more room for guns, but I don't have the Sparrow-III research finished yet and I want to get past i17 before that research is finished, so I go with the older but extremely viable FleetFoot.
I don't need the FleetFoot to go too terribly fast because the i17 Cerberus fleets will come to me, so I add in two STEs to bring its movement to 4.
I know that in larger numbers these ships may become the target of Missile or Ship Based enemy fleets in instances, including i17, so I add in 2 Powered Pulse Cannon-IIIs right off the bat. I also know that in i17 (and beyond) there are other fleets that will close in on the closest target and that this fleet may very well become that from time to time, so I add in 5 Eos Phase Shift Shield-IIIs, 2 Shield Regenerator-IIIs and 1 Hull Maintenance Mechanic-III (you know, just in case things get bad). Since missiles (if they decide to fire at these ships) are primarily explosive damage, and Explosive is the other strength of this hull, I'm not to terribly worried about taking too much damage from them in instances anymore. The only trouble I'd have would be from Ship Based, but they are even less likely to attack this ship/fleet than missile ships are so long as I manage the fleets' numbers properly.
The Cerberus (my target) also has Neutralizing armor, which is weak against kinetic damage, and since I'm using a smaller hull with less He3 storage than a Cruiser or Battleship, I go with the biggest ballistics weapon I have that deals kinetic damage, the "Blaze" Autocanon-III and fit 4 of them in the hull. As this is the strongest kinetic weapon available to me (I have all the ballistics weapons up to the Typhoon, which is heat, and the only other non-ballistics kinetic damage weapon I have is the Streamliner (ship-based)) that deals kinetic damage I am happily stuck using it.
This leaves me with 2 extra spaces that I fill in with Orbital Shields for the shield boost; since I really do not have any damage mitigation once the shields go down, I need all the shields I can get.
Finally, I name my ship, FFB-1 (for Frigate, Balistics, 1st Design) and set out to build a fleet of them. I know that they will be set for the Cerberus Fleets as their primary target so when it comes time to assemble the fleet I leave the default "Min Range/Closest Target" settings as is.
With my levels of research, in stacks of only 700 they rip through the Cerberus's like a hot knife through butter while the other two fleets I've put together previously go about their own jobs. A few of these new ships get lost to a stray fleet of Ghosties, but in the end they helped me pass the instance. I don't revisit the instance until I have the fleet at 11125 total ships, and now they don't even take damage from the Ghosty fleets.
Typical Specialty Designs:Edit
Meat: Ship designed with maximum defenses (shields, armor, etc.) and no weapons.
Tank: Similar to meat, but has defenses replaced by engines to keep its movement up with the fleet it is in and at least one, but seldom more than two, of the same weapon type as the rest of the fleet
Core: Also sometimes called Jack-of-All-Trades (or Jack). Defense and offense capabilities are well rounded. These ships are designed to do everything that their weapon type can do, but the lack of firepower makes them take longer, and the lower defenses makes them more susceptible to retaliatory attacks
Glass Cannons: the antithesis of the Tank: has huge amounts of firepower, but limited to no defenses. Best used in the rows behind the tanks, allowing the tanks to absorb a majority of the damage dealt to the fleet. Most Corps Mall ships are Glass Cannons.
Decoy: Ships built with the intent of slowing down enemy fleets, sacrificing themselves to allow the main fleets to arrive at the battle.
- Since this was written the number of types have been expanded and clarified. More information may be obtained from Ship Design Types section in Fleet Design.
Tips and Tricks:Edit
- Don't build or design a ship until you have level III of its research done, at least for a new designs. Building a ship with -I or -II research and replacing it with -III ships is wasteful of your resources.
- Always try to keep up on your research. No point in building missile ships without the research to make those ships awesome.
- If you do mix weapons types, such as missile and directional, make sure you take into account how they interact. Typically, though, this is not a very effective method of combat as one or the other weapon may not be used to its full potential.
- When loading weapons with Cool Down times, don't hesitate to add in one or two -II or -I level items if you have the room. It gives you the chance to not use them in one round and have them able to fire on the next, albeit at a lower damage than if they had fired with the -III level guns. For He3 conservation, load the weapons into your hull as weakest first (2 Magneto Bomb-II then 5 Magneto Bomb-III) (for ballistics, use the previous weapon's -III design instead, it has more firepower than the best weapon's -II design and you'll get the same effect) as the ships will only fire what they need to destroy a target. They will choose from the weapons as they were loaded into the hull, so a weak stack would get destroyed by your weaker weapons (saving precious He3) and let you fire the big guns at a stronger target next round (ballistics only get the He3 conservation part of this when it happens as they fire every round)
- Never hesitate to discuss your designs with your corpsmates, you might help someone out or they might help you out with a new design.