Stars!-R-Us Article

Handeling ship design limits
By Jason Cawley

Kyle Langston wrote:
> I'm curious to know how each of you handles the 16-ship-design limit
> in Stars.
> Kyle Langston
> ______________________

        Good question, IMHO.


        There are some general principles I use and also some more particular limits, though even the latter are only rules of thumb and I'll break them in a pinch.

        General principles

         As few ships (let alone types) with poor engines as possible.  A poor engine is anything that won't go at least warp 8 (preferably warp 9) consistently.  So the fuel mizer or prop tech 7-9 or so before "committing" to any ship class in quantity.  Before that, build only what you need and expect to get rid of them before long. (This might not apply in tiny).

         For warships, go for breakpoints in weapons tech, and have other tech to compliment it, before building a new design.  Then get a decent overall design, rather than one highly specialized to deal e.g. with a single enemy ship class, and build them in quantity.  Some breakpoints are - weapons 8, weapons 12., weapons 16 (the biggie in many cases) and weapons 22 or 24.

         For moving things around, the large freighter with at least a warp 9 engine (and a warp 10 engine new type when that becomes available) is the prime mover.  Other movers are just a waste by comparison, especially in slot terms.  Sure, you'll use smaller ships earlier, but expect to scrap all of them once you have this one.  You can save a colony ship slot if you put a colony on these - you build more of them than you need, but you save a slot (and also get a little flexibility, which can be nice when e.g. taking territory to follow up an unexpectedly big victory).

         Rules of thumb

         Plan on 1/2 of your slots being warships, not more.  Will you always have 8 warship types?  Of course not.  But you will want to be able to build "countermeasure" ships to react to enemy designs, you will want beam and missle ships, you will probably have two generations of warships extent at any given point in time, you'll want difference classes for different roles (minesweeping, skirmishing, gatable reserve, etc).  So try to leave 8 slots for the "navy/warships".  Also, don't use more than half of these before you get cruiser hulls - there is no point.  And leave at least two for BBs before you get con 13 - that is, 4 warship types and 4 of these free before con 9, up to 6 warship types and 2 of these free before con 13 - or something like that.  You may well be able to get by with even fewer - then leave the extra warship- allocated slots free.  You will want them soon enough.

         Your other 1/2 or 8 slots are for special purpose/utility designs.  Try to get this down to one per role if possible - you'll often have "generation" issues that result in two types out for a single role, and that's OK, but don't let it happen in most cases or you will run out. Also try to get these down to "latest type" whenever you can.  Roles I include here are -

Movers - large freighter w/ good engine     Scouting - frigate with best penscan and cloaks         basic minelayer - frigate (for all but SD) tech transfer - scout (often need two types, because one still "on the way" when you start with the next - lost time otherwise)     Bombing - cherry minibombers and/or mixed B-17/52 with LBUs, other bomb type.         Fuel - fuelxport (or fuel transport for IS in some cases) Remote mining - two types at most if you can help it.  Wait for decent robots (ARs are an exception) - the early robots are worse than the planetary mines in most cases.     Other PRT goodie related things - e.g. energy dampener frigate, tachyon galleon, SD minelayers with different mine types, a CA adjuster ship, etc.

         And always try to have one slot free.  If you use the 16th, make sure it will be temporary (e.g. a second tech transfer type, or a replacement type for a class with relatively few ships in it).  Not all races will need all the special types (e.g. JOAT for special scout, or OBRM for miners), but most races will want too many anyway.  So one slot per role is the target.

         Obviously, there aren't enough slots :-)  But I find that if I let all the special role ship classes eat up slots, without leaving 1/2 for warships, the design/replacement cycle is just too tight for warfighting flexibility.

         When there are roles you can dispense with, do so.  Your fleet-building flexibility is a lot greater with 5 open slots than with 1.  If you aren't at war yet, you should have that many free.

         Now, obviously, there are times when you will have to bend these rules to deal with special situations, or to exploit a particular tactic/technique that you have come up with for your race, etc.  But having some sort of general plan/allocation can help a lot, since it controls the urge to build a new type just because you can  :-)

         Anyway, one man's way of dealing with this issue, for what it's worth.


                                                 Jason Cawley

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