Today’s Dev Diary will be about Fleet Combat and the different things affecting it. Like always it is important for you to remember that things are subject to change.
In Stellaris we have a number of different types of weapons that the player may choose to equip his/her ships with. All weapons can be grouped into either energy, projectiles (kinetic), missiles, point-defenses and strike craft. Their individual effects and stats vary somewhat, so let’s bring up a few examples. One type of energy-weapon is the laser, using focused beams to penetrate the armor of a target dealing a medium amount of damage. Mass Drivers and Autocannons are both projectile-weapons with high damage output and fast attack-speed, but quite low armor-penetration. This makes them ideal for chewing through shields and unarmored ships quickly, but are far worse against heavily armored targets. Missiles weapons are space-to-space missiles armed with nuclear warheads. Missiles have excellent range, but they are vulnerable to interception by point-defense systems. There’s of course far more weapons in the game than these mentioned, but it should give you a notion of what to expect.
Strike crafts are different from the other weapon types since they are actually smaller ships that leave their mothership. Cruisers and Battleships can in some cases have a Hangar weapon slot available, in which you may place a type of strike craft. Currently, we have two types of craft; fighters and bombers. Fighters will fire upon ships, missiles and other strike craft. Bombers however may not fire on other strike craft or missiles, but they will do more damage than fighters against capital ships. Point-defense weapons can detect incoming missiles and strike-crafts and shoot them down. These weapons may also damage hostile ships, if they are close enough, but will do significantly less damage against those.
When it comes to defenses, you may increase the durability of your fleet in combat by placing armor and shield components in the utility slots on your ships. Armor components will reduce the incoming damage and can’t be depleted during combat. Shields work much more like an extra health bar to your ships and will be depleted if they take too much damage. Shields will automatically regenerate after combat, unless you have certain components that allow your shields to regenerate during combat. Both shields and armor can have their efficiency reduced if the enemy uses armor and/or shield penetrating weapons.
The different components you place on your ships will also affect certain other key combat values:… Hull points is a value corresponding to the “hit points” or health of your ship. Evasion affects the chance for your ship to evade a weapon firing at it. You may also affect the overall stats (values) of your fleet by assigning an Admiral to it. The stats of your fleet will both be affected by the skill and the traits of your leader. But be aware that traits will not always have a positive effect. I would recommend everyone to always have good admirals assigned to their military fleets since they can really improve your stats, like +20% fire rate and +10% evasion.
Once the combat has begun, you very few options to control what happens, much like it works in our other grand strategy games. For this reason it is really important not to engage in a battle that you are not ready for. As a fallback, it is possible to order a full retreat through the “Emergency FTL Jump” option, this will basically cause your fleet to attempt to jump to the closest system. However, during the windup for the EFTL jump your ships will not be able fire back at the hostile ships, so you put yourself in an exposed situation. Depending on what type of fleet you have, you might want them to always engage in combat or always try to avoid it; for this purpose we have different fleet stances. The evasive stance will try to avoid combat and the fleet will leave a system if a hostile arrives. Civilian fleets have this stance on per default. Aggressive stance will actively make your fleet attempt to attack any hostile that enters the same system as them. Passive stance will, like the name suggest, make your fleet only engage in combat when enemies are within weapon range.
The combat might be off-hand, but you can still indirectly affect how each individual ship will behave. When you design your ship you may specify what combat computer to use on the ship. These computers range from making your ship super aggressive, and basically charge the enemy, or be really defensive and keep formation. At the start of the game only the default combat computer is available, but more are unlocked through normal research or reverse engineering.
It is very possible that your fleet might end up in combat with multiple fleets. This means that you can have a combat with three different empires that are all hostile to each other. To help you keep track of everything that happens we have a combat view, which will appear as soon as a combat is initiated. This view will list you (and any other friendlies or neutrals) on the left side and every hostile on the right side. The combat view is currently being reworked, so you will get to see that interface at a later date, but the idea is to provide you with crucial feedback on how effective your weapons and defenses are.
Once the battle is over, you may want to investigate any debris left from destroyed vessels. If you weren’t the one being wiped out, perhaps you can salvage something?
Sadly, neither the “Picard Maneuver” nor the “Crazy Ivan” are currently possible in the game, but who knows what the future might hold…
Stellaris Dev Diary #19 - Diplomacy & Trade