A Ship's role defines the behavior of a starship during combat, including its targeting priorities, defending priorities (where applicable), and where it will spawn in battle. The player can specify the role of a ship as part of its design. By default, the role is determined from the ship's hull and its relative values of , Threat and Fortitude. Value
Each ship component has a specific value for , Threat or Fortitude, depending on its type. Weapon systems ( ValueBeam weapon, Kinetic weapon, Missile weapon) confer , defenses ( ThreatShields, Armor, Point defense) confer , and other systems (such as FortitudeInterstellar drive, Life support and Sensor) confer . Along with the Valuehull, the total attribute values in the design determine the default role of the ship, according to the following table:
|Attribute||Tiny Hull||Small Hull||Medium Hull||Large Hull||Huge Hull|
- A Medium Hull ship that is primarily will act as a capital ship if its Threat is 2 or above. Value
Depending on its role, a ship will either attack, defend or remain stationary at the rear. Stationary ships will only advance when only stationary ships are present in the battle. Support ships are stationary, guardians and escorts defend, and the other roles attack. Each role has a prioritized list of ships that it will attack and defend.
An attacking ship will always move towards its highest priority target and, as it moves, it will attack the highest priority target that is within range. The player can see which enemy ship is considered their target by hovering over the ship icon in the lower part of the screen while in the battle viewer or by selecting the ship on the battle map. A ship will stop firing on an already damaged enemy in favor of its higher target priority ship coming into range, even if the previously damaged enemy is near destruction. For example, interceptors that have a guardian as their primary target will fire upon enemy interceptors while they pass each other, but will continue moving towards the entire time and eventually start firing on the guardians.
Guardians and escorts stay near to the ship they are defending. If the ship it is defending has started moving forward, so does the ship defending it. For example, because of the defend priority, a guardian will not move forward and join the battle until its support ship starts to move forward. It will however attack any enemies that come into range. An escort will move forward and attack enemies if it is defending a capital ship. An escort that is defending a support ship however will remain in the back out of combat, similar to the guardian as described above, and the escort ship will only move forward once the support ship starts to do so.
Note that the in-game battle viewer (as of patch 1.03) shows all ships as moving forward towards the center of battle, so it may appear as though support ships as well as ships that are defending those support ships are moving forward, but if you select the ship and view it, you will see that its speed is zero, and the ship is not really moving. This causes a discrepancy between where the ships appear in the battle viewer versus where they really are on the battle map.
Each ship's position at the start of a battle is determined by the ship's role. The higher the starting position number, the more forward the ship will be located. Additionally thrusters will alter the starting position, bringing the ship to the front.
|Name||Type||Target priority||Defend priority||Starting location*||Description|
||None||1600||In battle, Interceptors will try to seek out and destroy High Value, Low Fortitude targets, with the primary goal of taking out enemy Support ships as quickly as possible.|
||None||1500||In battle, Assault craft are your sword. Their goal is to dive into the heart of a battle and take out the High Value, High Threat targets, such as Capital ships.|
||1600||In battle, Escorts will try to defend High Value ships like Capital and Support ships. If they have no assets to defend, they will target enemy ships, preferring Medium Threat ships like Assault craft.|
||None||1400||In battle, Capital ships are the steel heart of your fleet. They will target any ship that comes in range, with the primary goal of cutting to the heart of the enemy fleet.|
||1200||In battle, Guardians will try to defend Low Fortitude, High Value targets such as Support ships. They will never surrender this duty as long as their charges remain.|
||None||1200||In battle, Support ships will attempt to stay out of combat. If armed, they will target any nearby threats, with a preference for Low Fortitude targets such as Interceptors.|
A few things to think about when you are assigning ship roles:
- Remember that the ship role determines how far out in front the ship will be at the beginning of the battle. If you have only short range weapons, starting in the very back of the battle may not be a good idea. On the other hand, if you have all long range weapons, starting in the back and letting the enemy come to you would be a valid strategy.
- Having different types of ship roles can lead to some serious disadvantages. For example, if you have a fleet consisting of half interceptors and half support ships, the interceptors will fly straight into the enemy fleet while your support ships stay back out of range. This effectively means you have split your fleet into 2 forces, which will likely lead you to have heavy losses.
Defenders & Attackers doctrine
A fleet can become more resource effective and take fewer losses if some ships specialize in defense and others in offense. In a regular fleet, the defenses are spread out on each ship; in the Defenders & Attackers doctrine, the defenses are concentrated on one or more ships at the very front of the fleet, so that an enemy must cut through all the defenses first before they can kill any damage specializing ships. This allows a fleet to take a lot of damage without losing its momentum. Damaged defenders can be swapped out for fresh ones after battle, and if the enemy switches to different weapons, just change the defender design to counter it.
The defender ships need a lot of defenses of course. But don't forget about jamming (and consider one or more support role ship(s) that adds extra jamming too). Self-repair is less helpful because the incoming fire will be concentrated.
There are 2 role combinations that work for this doctrine:
- Escort (defenders) + Capital (attackers)
- Guardians (defenders) + Support (attackers) as long as there are no assault, interceptor, or capital ships also in the fleet
Note that Escorts (defenders) + Support (attackers) would also work (as long as there are no assault, interceptor, or capital ships also in the fleet) in terms of forcing all defenders to be killed before the attacks can start being damaged, the escorts have a starting position too far in front of the support ships for this combination to be effective.
A variation of the Defenders & Attackers doctrine is Capital or Support ships equipped with Assault drones (Escort role, small hull, mixed weapons and mixed defenses). The special thing with drones is that they are both offense and defense rolled into one, and the more drones a fleet has, the more protected it is. Lost drones are replenished over time, and this doesn't seem to cost anything, and carrier modules have a very low maintenance cost considering the weapons and defenses it brings. The cargo hull has a pre-made carrier design, which becomes a beast when it can equip two carrier modules for only five logistical points. To make a carrier fleet even stronger, consider adding supportive jamming modules. The Interceptor drones (Interceptor, tiny, beam) will not protect their motherships, and Guardian drones (Guardian, tiny, kinetic) do too little damage, so the Assault drones seem the more effective alternative.