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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Personal Contacts (08/13/20)

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Messages - HELMUT

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Blog Posts / Re: GIF Roundup
« on: April 11, 2020, 01:56:56 PM »
I really like the black smoke effect on those missiles and that... Lightning smoke launcher thing. It feels like the kind of weapon that shouldn't be possible, and somehow here it is. Encountering it for the first time is gonna be a quite freaky experience.

I also concur with Thaago about those weapons. Yes, they'll technically be difficult to obtain, but once the player get a few of those and a Paragon, they're set for the rest of the game and there's no reason to change. The Seeker solution isn't a bad idea to prevent this, i guess it'll depend on how powerful and practical those weird guns are.

As a Warhammer 40,000 fan i can only say one thing after seeing those gifs

Hmm. Perhaps not entirely unwarranted.

Courtesy of emwattnot :



Mods / Re: [0.9.1a] Hazard Mining Incorporated (Tweaks Ed., 0.2.2g)
« on: April 06, 2020, 02:29:42 AM »
I also forgot to mention something important considering the Junkers. The Rapid Repair system is i think their weakest point gameplay wise. It tends to completely invalidate EMP, flameouts and hullmods that are supposed to protect/repair against malfunctions. It's like a whole part of the game mechanics doesn't apply to them, which is a shame. I think they could become much more interesting with other systems, even simple ones like burn drive (which would help against kiting too). And it's not like they can't afford to add Automated Repair Unit to compensate for the loss of RR either.

The whole Junker fleet concept is fun, but the piloting is very similar from one ship to another because of RR (with a few exceptions), and it can become a bit boring after a while. I personally wish to see something more interesting in that regard.

Mods / Re: [0.9.1a] Hazard Mining Incorporated (Tweaks Ed., 0.2.2g)
« on: April 05, 2020, 02:24:40 PM »
I decided to play a HMI campaign with the beta version from the discord. I wanted to go with an Industry/Leadership focused playthrough, more focused on commanding a fleet than piloting. Because of the vast amount of content added by the mod, i preferred to focus exclusively on the Junker ships. I also disabled the sub-faction like Fang and Brighton because my PC is a also a junker. Anyway, here's how it went.

As i knew beforehand of the dubious quality of Junker ships, i started my campaign with the Nexerelin "small combat fleet" (Cockroach destroyer, Greasy and Shotglass frigates) start instead of going with just lone frigate. A few experiments in the simulator indeed confirmed my original thoughts about my new ships : they are junk. Slow, unshielded, unarmoured, with shoddy flux stats. The absence of proper shield or any defence system made the Junkers unable to fight for prolonged duration, and their lack of mobility left them extremely vulnerable to kiting. Even with their incredible amount of hull point, there was no way my ships would handle a long battle. All of those flaws ensured they would never survive in a fair fight.

Fortunately, Junkers neither need to fight fairly, nor to survive said fight.

There was a wise guy that once said that the best defence is a good offence. Another wise (?) guy also that said that quantity have a quality all its own. With this in mind, i went to build my warfleet. Every single ships were based on the idea of lobbing as many harpoons and sabots as possible, all in the purpose of maximising their alpha strike potential. The enemy can't shoot you if the enemy is dead. That's one way to resolve the survivability issue with Junkers.

Among the first few ships i got was the Shotglass. A frigate barely deserving of being crewed both for safety reasons and actual fighting ability. It's a piece of scrap, but it's a dirt cheap piece of scrap with a missile mount. If somehow you can't find a Kite laying around, the Shotglass will do. There's no magic trick that makes the Shotglass good, but it doesn't need to be "good", it just need to shoot at things sufficiently until they die. A few eliminate order, every weapons set to linked on the same weapon group... This is a good way to ensure your stuff will fire everything they've got before exploding. And when there's a few Shotglasses in the fleet just doing that, things start to die surprisingly fast, both on your side and the enemy's.

Thanks to their affordable price, i could buy a few more frigates before leaving for bounty hunting. The Snail was one of those frigate, and it is probably the most dangerous tool in the HMI roster. Even cheaper to deploy than a Vigilance, and with more missiles, it flies the same way the Shotglass does, recklessly and violently. With its ridiculous armament, it can burst through any frigates and even destroyers that get in range. It still needs to survive long enough to unleash its entire payload, but that was rarely an issue since my faster Shotglasses usually reach the frontline first to distract the enemy.

I also got myself a Streak. It's not as good as a Snail, but the medium missile hardpoint still makes the Streak an interesting addition in a fleet, and its numerous ballistic mounts gives it a very nasty bite if it can get close without exploding. It's also the best Safety Override frigate the Junkers have access to. With its numerous front facing mounts, it can pump out an absurdly high amount of DPS, enough to threaten even the biggest destroyers.

The Greasy works just like the Streak, although it trades firepower for resilience. There's not much to say here, the Greasy isn't as spectacular as the Snail or Streak at killing things, but it does a good enough job. It's not like i had a reason not to deploy as many ships as possible anyway, so every ship i could get my hands on were sent to the frontline.

The Cockroach destroyer was my first flagship. Like all Junker ships, the Cockroach tank hits with its hull, and it got a lot of hull, even more so with Reinforced Bulkhead and Blast Door, which are absolutely mandatory hullmods for Junkers by the way. It also got a very decent amount of missile mounts, and more than enough weapons to turn it into a Safety Override brute. Although at this point SO felt almost superfluous, since my fleet could end fights with missile saturation alone. There was no need to get close to actually fire my guns during early game, just sit at a reasonable distance and fire the missiles when appropriate.

This is with this merry band of clunkers that i went hunting pirates, derelicts and the occasional remnants. Battles were finished very quickly, and casualties, mainly due to hugging exploding ships, could be salvaged safely after the encounter thanks to Reinforced Bulkhead. I went with the obvious route of Industry and Leaderships skills for this campaign, with a few Technology ones. Very rapidly, i amassed a large armada of D mods ridden junks, but it's okay, Junker ships love D mods! Each D mod (up to 4 i think?) does increase the OPs and reduce the repair costs. Combined with the Industry skills, those ships becomes very cheap to maintain and repair. Although each D mods also reduce the quality of the fighters, that's a trade off to keep in mind.

I rarely went back to the core worlds, only to resupply in fuel and crew. Yes, Junkers ships run on meat instead of supplies. Well, not literally, but even with the proper skills and Blast Doors, i kept losing large amounts of crewmen during battle. Hull tanking will do that to you. Supplies however are relatively plentiful in the outer rim, and you barely spend any on repair anyway.

As the campaign went on, i got my hands on more Junker ships. The Creep destroyer is probably the one i salvaged and used the most. It is the logical evolution of the Streak frigate, a fragile glass cannon with a hefty amount of missile mounts. Just like the Streak, the Creep can be built in one of the meanest SO destroyer. Which is exactly what i did. Junkers do struggle to catch faster ships. Using a lot of missiles and Safety Override tends to mitigate that weakness.

Also got a few Convict carriers. Unexpectedly expensive to deploy (as much as a Drover!), very fragile and slow. Because of D mods degrading the efficiency of fighters, it makes for a relatively poor carrier. It compensate by being an extremely heavily armed missile boat. if noticeably starved in OPs. My main issue was getting them to the frontline before the battle ended. To resolve that, i start the battle with an escort order on my carriers, forcing my fleet to deathball around them. Once the main bulk of the enemy's fleet is engaged, i can cancel the escort order and press the red button.


The red button. When you absolutely, positively got to kill everyone in the room, accept no substitutes.

Junkers love the red button, it's the signal that the leash is off and they can ignore trivial matters such as self preservation. Not a good idea to use from the get go, because you don't want your ships chasing that Hound on the edge of the map. That's also a good reason to start with the escort order to keep a close formation before the big brawl. Of course, after a time during big battles, your ships will inevitably disperse to chase something, but you can still force them to regroup for a moment, then repeat the process.

I also got my hands on the cruisers, the Roach King and Slugworth. Both are very similar, big bricks of armour plates welded together, with more weapons than good sense. The Roach King is the brawler, the one that is on the frontline, hugging that capital ship while choking on its guns flux. The Slugworth is the support, the one that is on the frontline, hugging that capital ship while choking on its guns flux. Except it also got fighters. Both got a lot of missiles, both were loaded in a way they could kill things as fast as possible with a blatant disregard for their own safety. And it worked! Backed by the rest of the fleet, my cruisers could dive deep in the enemy's formation, and kept going until they reached the other end of the battlefield, ignoring torpedoes and bombers trying to deplete their huge, fat sack of hullpoints. My crewmen didn't liked this tactic one bit, but hey, it "works".

A bit later, i acquired a Junk, the HMI combat superfreighter. As its title implies, the Junk is not really a combat ship, but just like a butcher knife isn't a weapon, it will still wreck anything that would think it little more than an armoured Atlas. The Pummerer cannon reach far, is accurate, have a high rate of fire, and hit surprisingly hard. Sadly i couldn't make good use of it as my battles always devolved into messy close combat brawls with constantly blocked line of sight. Regardless, the Junk is still a worthy acquisition, even if only for its gargantuan cargo hold, and you'll haul a lot of crap when playing HMI. Yes, it's slow as sin, but at this point in the campaign, i was daring everyone to try to engage for a fight, so i didn't cared much for its slowness. Oh i almost forgot, the Junk is also armed with an inexplicable build-in swarmer near its bridge., for some reason.

Early, mid and even some late game battle were handled fast enough that the lack of armour and shield weren't too much of an issue. Very late game however, proved to be more complicated. Drowning the enemy under an avalanche of missiles works only if you have the number advantage. This is why i eventually disabled the 30 ships limit in the player fleet, so i could see how far i could push it. Battles often devolved into a bloody meatgrinder, with extreme causalities on both sides, but i just need to win, if i win i can salvage back all i lost and keep going as if nothing happened. Moreover, if you play with Starship legends, Junkers are under-evaluated in term of power level, every fight will be counted as an uphill battle. The bonuses for winning such fight, even with 90% causalities, will often be positives. So yeah, 90% causality rate makes for an acceptable win for Junkers.

I did take a look at the fighters too. I was pretty underwhelmed by the Trapdoors bombers. Dirt cheap and fast but also extremely fragile and barely armed. I don't think they're worth it. Maybe if there were six of those per wing, maybe as a cheap alternative...

The Shell drones are similar, although not as bad. Cheap, and heavily armoured, but also barely armed and frustratingly slow. In theory they could be really annoying when massed, blobbing around a ship. However with their lack of mobility they would spend most of their time trying to chase a target, and anything slower than Shells usually have the firepower to rapidly burst through their heavy armour.

The Bombardment drone is a much more interesting one. It is simply a flying annihilator launcher. Unlike the Kopesh that fires all their missiles in one burst, the Bombardment function like the small annihilator launcher does. Yes that includes its hefty ammo capacity. That makes the Bombardment a very decent support bomber that rarely needs to reload, one that is best to keep at the ship's side as it keep firing volleys after volleys of rockets. It's also extremely cheap to mount, what's not to love? Arguably overpowered when used on a proper battlecarrier, a constant and unlimited stream of Annihilators for such a cheap price feels really damn strong. One thing of note, unlike conventional bombers running out of ammo, the Bombardment drone does not go back to resupply to the carrier when set in engage mode, it needs to be done manually by regrouping them. The Scale fighter also suffers from this issue.

Speaking of which, the Scale function in a nearly identical way as the Bombardment, although its is much more expensive, and its Mbecke rocket launcher is much weaker. But it also have much longer range. That long range makes the Scale a pretty incredibly fire support alternative to the Xyphos. Not really adapted to the fleet i used during this campaign, but something to keep in mind when playing another faction.

After a surprisingly long campaign, i finally met my end during a reckless incursion in Mansa. Overconfident, i charged headlong against three local fleets. I didn't expected those feeder drones to be a hard counter to my missile spam, and those high-tech ships are also pretty good at kiting. Oh well, that was a fun ride at least. I'm very sad that i never found a Fishkill carrier. The Junker Astral was all i could have wished for during this campaign, lot of missiles, lot of bombers, a truckload of hullpoints...  Still, i managed to go pretty far with just a swarm of scrapships. As for the overall balance of the ships, it's... Hardto tell. Junkers does not really function like vanilla, or any other mod faction really, as such the comparison is difficult to make. The brutal missile spam deleting things obscenely fast could make them appear overpowered, but that's also something that vanilla ships can do, although to a lesser extent.

On top of bounty hunting, i also did some exploration, and i have to say i did quite enjoy the content added by HMI, the writing too. Vanilla is pretty barebone in that regard, so it's always a plus. The Domain Resurgent, the Horrors and the Mess also respectively bring some welcome mid, late and very late game challenge.

In the end, i did quite enjoy this campaign. The Junkers do have the chance of offering a playstyle completely different from other mods that i know of. It's also the closest thing we currently have to Warhammer 40.000 Orks in Starsector. HMI feels like a worthy addition to the modlist, although from my perspective it did feels more demanding on performances than other mods, which makes sense given all the stuff it brings in the sector. I personally won't use all the time, but for people that like exploration and plethora of content in the sector, HMI  is a very good bet.

In my recent campaign, i decided to include the SOTF mod. While i already knew of the bits and interesting parts the mod adds, it really require a full campaign to properly appreciate it. So, in this post i'll take about the tactical expansion provided by the new objectives types.

Long story short, i now consider Secrets of the Frontier to be part of my must have mods. The ones with a permanently checked box in the mod manager window.

Now, to understand why i think so, we have to look into vanilla first. The current objectives types in Starsector are the sensor jammer, the nav buoy and the comm relay. Sadly, both sensor jammer and nav buoy can be completely ignored if you have the proper skills and one or two ships with ECM package and Nav Relay. They tend to have no, or almost no impact whatsoever on the battle. Comm relay is more useful, as it increase the command point generation. Alas, asides of some Operation Center shenanigans, CPs aren't that useful either. Basically, a whole part of the base game doesn't even really work, and as a result, it's no fun.

The two new objectives added by the mod are much more interesting, and there are good reasons to interact with those. The defence emplacement adds either a turret, a launch bay or a mine layer that can be captured to fight by your side. Turrets do have targeting supercomputer, so they can assist from pretty far away. Getting a Gauss turret with increased range to back you up can be pretty useful up to mid-game if you can order your fleet around it. Same for the launch bay and mine layer. They unfortunately do not scale very well into late game though. Once i had capital ships, i usually ignored the points and steamrolled over those the enemy captured.

Fun fact, the defensive emplacements are not static like space stations, they can be bumped and moved around! So far i haven't tried tugging around a turret for anything else than fun, but it's possible. Unfortunately, it's also possible to "lose" it by accidentally pushing it too far from its original point.

The second combat objective, and the most useful, is the Hyperwave Transmitter. Once captured, it will call in reinforcement from either derelicts or remnants. Capturing several Hyperwave Transmitter will increase the number of ships coming to your aid.

In my campaign, i played a lot with those, but not too much that it became a "must capture at all cost". In my post in the Legacy of Arkgneisis thread , i wrote about how i took on a pirate fleet much bigger than mine, and managed to sink their flagship by capturing the appropriate objectives.

This didn't happened in just one battle. More often than not, Ludd forgive me, my battles were fought side by side with derelicts and remnants. The Hyperwave Transmitter isn't guarded? Capture it! The enemy fleet is sitting on it? Let's ignore it for now. An allied AI craft is engaging the enemy's flagship, do i help it? Or do i sacrifice it to give me time to kill that isolated carrier over there? That derelict is trying to engage an Onslaught upfront, do i get behind it and advance while using its hull as a cover?

On the other hand, there were some occasions where my fleet was on the receiving end of a constant stream of flying toasters, charging me without regard for their safety, while i'm busy trying to handle the rest of the fleet.

Paradoxically, by "improving" the other combat objectives, the vanilla Comm Relay that increase CP generation became more attractive as well. Gotta need those CPs to capture and re-capture those objectives!

To summarise, it was fun, i enjoyed myself. I think SOTF is very important to Starsector in the same way that Combat Chatter, Nexerelin or Console command adds to the game. Those mods fills a hole in the base game, they bring something that Starsector should, but do not (yet?) have. In this case, interactive and interesting combat objectives. Still, SOTF is a pre-release, work in progress and all that, and it shows. I feel it could be much more. I have said earlier than Defensive emplacements tends to fall off later in the game, Hyperwave Transmitter too, although to a lesser extent. So it might all require some tweaking to make it work from the beginning to the end.

Here's some of the things i would like to see eventually :

- Reworked vanilla objectives. Maybe Alex will do it in the next release, maybe not. In the meantime, they don't really work all that well, and SOTF could change that.
- Skills affecting the new objectives. After all, why not? Plus it could be a way to make them scale better during late game too.
- Objectives that scale depending on the overall fleet point from both fleet? That way, the effects of the objectives can be directly tweaked depending on the number of ships, as to stay relevant for late game, but not too strong for early game.
- More objectives obviously! A large shield generator to cover a wide area, an automated supply depot to slow down the peak performance/CR degradation, pilum spawn from the nearby's planet defensive platforms... There are many possibilities to spice things up.

Yeah, i'm really liking this mod, i'm looking forward for what's next.

Mods / Re: [0.9.1a] Legacy of Arkgneisis 1.7.0 [2/27/20]
« on: March 20, 2020, 09:21:46 AM »
I was curious what those cool blue ships could do, so i went for an ARS campaign and see for myself. My first attempt went pretty bad, the large fleet size start with Nexerelin put me in charge of a King cruiser and a few escort frigates. The king isn't a very good starter ship, and from my experience with this campaign, not a very good ship at all. I didn't knew what to expect from ARS ships, but i got unceremoniously trounced right off the bat.

Let's start again, from the beginning this time.

Nexerelin start with a single ship, a Reid this time. Now things went muuuuch better. The Reid is a fast skirmisher very similar to the Lasher. Its system "Electromagnetic Overload" give a speed boost as well as spawning some nearby EMP electric arcs, targeting missiles, fighters and other ships. A very powerful system coupled with a strong frigate make the Reid an ideal starter for this campaign.

And just like the Lasher, Safety Override turn it into a little devil of death and destruction. It doesn't quite have the damage potential of the Lasher, but EO (Electromagnetic Overload) adds much needed EMP and mobility to compensate for that. For a very long while, i kept the Reid as my flagship, it was perfect to hunt down other frigates and even some destroyers. One thing i liked to do with the Reid : ramming opponents. Not much for damage, but to isolate them from the rest of the fleet. Jump in, machines guns blazing to force the target to lower its shield, Electro Overload disabling its engine, it can then be pushed away from its allies to be safely finished.

It's strong, very strong, but at the same time, with nearly the same cost a Tempest, i expect something pretty damn good. For a good part of early game, my fleet was mainly build around a pack of Reid, roaming around the battlefield, hunting for anything left alone.

To that pack of predator was added a few Welsh class frigates. Their medium hybrid and built-in siege cannons made them a good choice for long-range fire support. It's not like they could do anything else, the Walsh (and pretty much any other ARS ship for that matter) is made of paper. Weak hull, weak armor, weak shield, weak flux stats, an ARS ship caught with its pants down is a dead ARS ship. And at 130 speed, it isn't even that fast either. The Walsh's system Omni Loader drastically increase its firepower, but also build hard-flux over time, and with its tiny flux capacity... Yeah, the Walsh is as safe to fly as a Talon, and my Walshes died in drove despite their long range loadouts.

My early game fleet also included a few Foxes frigates. Tiny, cheap, harmless, fragile (more so than a Kite!), the Fox was not very... Useful? With EO, it could increase its speed sufficiently to run away from nearly anything, but that's all. A slight frown of an enemy ship could instantly destroy it, and its reduced weapon package limited its use. For a wingman, the kite is cheaper and more useful thanks to its pair of missile mounts. Still, i managed to somewhat find a use for the Fox a bit later on in my campaign. I'm also playing the  Secrets of the Frontier mod that add new combat objectives to capture during battle (it's also a pretty good mod, you should try it), this is where the Fox can shine. At only 3 DP, the Fox is an ideal candidate to quickly capture those new useful strategic points, i would then order then to sit on the edges of the map, ready to re-capture the objective if needed.

With my Reid pack doing a good job for early bounty hunting, i earned enough money to afford a few destroyers. My first one was a Thatcher, it didn't last long. The Thatcher is a light-destroyer, cheap, exceedingly fragile. On its own, even frigates will rip it apart, so don't even think about sending it against a Hammerhead. In theory, its Omni Loader give it decent firepower, in practice, it will overload itself in no time because of its inadequate flux stats. Okay, alright, i need something else.

My next destroyer addition was the Victoria. More expensive to field, but better in nearly every aspects compared to the Thatcher. Sadly, it share the same fragility common to most ARS ship, that made the Victoria a recurring causality during engagements. At least, it doesn't choke on its own flux so i got that going for me. The Victoria feels like an upsized Walsh, and as such feels more at home being a long range fire-support. Its weapon package is not very impressive, but its Structural Analyzer, identical to the Afflictor Entropy Amplifier, allow the rest of the fleet to deal 50% more damage, cementing further its status of support ship. Still, the Structural Analyser require the Victoria to get dangerously close to its target, and an ARS ship that gets into weapon range of the enemy rarely live long enough to tell the tale.

This is when i decided to get myself a bunch of Sherman frigates to keep my destroyers in one piece. Long story short, the Sherman is a blue Centurion and perform identically. It tanks hits with Damper Field and annoy the enemy by refusing to die. There's not much more to say about it, its doing its job.

At this point, i was entering mid-game and the pirates i was encountering started to field big guys. My Reids were still doing the heavy lifting, but their small mounts started to struggle against armoured destroyers and cruisers. Proper amount of dakka was required, and the Burke class destroyer eyed me with its large turret mount. I expected an ARS Sunder, i got a Mudskipper MK.III.


Alright, i'm exaggerating a bit, but only a little bit. Granted, the Burke is a cheaper weapon platform than the Sunder, and its built-in Gravimetric Targeting Mast increase range by 40% compared to 20% for destroyers with ITU, and it got actually pretty good armor for an ARS ship. But it is slow, and its pitiful flux stats ensure it will overload at the slightest nudge on its shield. My Shermans were trying really hard to protect it, but slow as it is, it couldn't keep up with the rest of my fleet. ARS being a kitting faction, not being able to keep up with the rest of the pack is a death sentence. Still, i sorta managed to make the Burke work, armed with a Gauss cannon and a Converted Hangar, the Burke could sit sufficiently far from the frontline and do its work. Still, many Burkes were harmed in the making of this campaign.

One thing i did to help increase the survival rate of my Burke and the rest of the fleet was the addition of an Edith AWACS frigate. The sole purpose of the Edith is to boost the range of the fleet with its AWACS system, any ships in range can now shoot farther, and an ARS ship with a range advantage is one that survive. My Edith was outfitted with reinforced bulkhead, heavy armor, blastdoors... Anything to make it survive the engagement. Weapons? Nah, here's your AWACS thing, that's the only gun i'll allow you to have, and stay away from the frontline. There's no reason not to have at least one Edith, a fleet without one of those will fight on the same terms as the enemy, and the ARS can't do that. The built-in ECM Package and Nav Relay? Cool bonus too. It is a very expensive frigate to field though, 10 DP, as much as a Hammerhead, but the power multiplier is vastly greater than just one more destroyer in my opinion. I don't know by how much the AWACS does boost range though, is it a flat range bonus? Or a percentage?

One thing i was lacking so far was a proper carrier. The illusive Caswell was still out of stock, so i went for a Hawke drone carrier, a cruiser. I wasn't overly impressed by the Hawke, it did lack the firepower i desperately needed and its built-in drones weren't all that impressive either, although i haven't tested it for very long, so perhaps i missed something. Still, for 15 DP, i can't complain much, the Hawke is dirt cheap, surprisingly mobile, and its stats, while still inferiors to vanilla ships had to offer, weren't that inferiors. I mean, that thing, as unremarkable as it is, somehow managed to survive the entire campaign without exploding and i'm not sure why. Maybe it got an experimental stealth field that hide from both its enemies and its commander? Go figure. Still, the quest for more dakka continue.

Not much later, i finally got my hands on a Caswell carrier. I already had an idea of what it could do, and i was pretty happy to find one. The Caswell by itself is a fairly unremarkable destroyer sized carrier. What makes it interesting? Its mine launcher. Just like the Doom can spawn mines, the Caswell can deploy Flak mines on the battlefield. The flak mines aren't as powerful, but their large radius still make them a threat to anything with stripped armour. With my Reid, i loved to ram my enemy and push them into mines. A very good support addition to my fleet, one that i carefully guarded with Shermans as it appeared to be quite a rare ship in this campaign. I had hoped to find some much needed bombers to got with it, alas, there's no such a thing in the ARS roster. The Earl strike fighter somewhat fits the bill, but it wasn't even close to what i needed to breach heavy armour.

At this point i pushed my luck a bit too far, and committed the risky endeavour of engaging a pirate bounty with a capital ship. The enemy flagship was a Renegade battlecruiser from SWP. Not that much of a threat by itself, but given my cruel lack of firepower, engaging that thing was a reckless move. After a long and gruesome battle, i managed to bring the beast down and retreat the rest of my CR starved fleet. Assassinating the enemy's flagship then retreating became a recurring thing in my mid-game campaign, since i had no way of taking on several heavily armoured vessels. In the case of the Renegade, i was lucky to have a few Hyperwave Transmitter objectives on the battlefield thanks to Secrets of the Frontier. Hyperwave Transmitter, when captured, can call in allied derelicts or remnant ships to help. A derelict craft isn't much, but when everything is suffering from low CR malfunctions, a triple chaingun Berseker suddenly become much more terrifying. That battlecruiser, EMP'd by my Reids, didn't saw it coming.

After this long and exhausting battle, i Hyperwarp jumped straight into an Hegemony invasion fleet. Oops.

Alright, back to (almost) scratch.

Fortunately for me, the RNG blessed me with plenty good ships. One of the those is the Osmond. An expensive, but powerful heavy destroyer, one with a large turret, i needed that. The Osmond is not only a pretty decent frontliner, it's also a formidable support ship. What really distinguish the Osmond is that it's also a minelayer, it can deploy EMP mines to spread chaos. Because the RNG was very generous this time around, i got several Osmonds available, meaning a lot of mines, meaning a lot of chaos.


No engine is safe.

Sadly, it also mean a lot of friendly fire, especially for my Reids that were operating behind the enemy. Still, with the Osmond, my campaign strategy for ARS started to form. I'm going to make a deathball. A compact formation of destroyers shielding my carriers and my Edith, shelling the enemy from afar, and punishing any aggression with a barrage of mines. In some aspect, ARS is very similar to old school Interstellar Imperium, but without the armour. Stay in formation, punish anything that comes too close, and slowly grind the enemy to pulp. I was also playing with the commissioned crew mod. It does adds bonus depending on the faction the player is affiliated to, in this case, Society Riggers for ARS ships, which reduce the amount of low CR malfunction, and repair them faster. Given the endurance, defensive playstyle i'm planning to do, CR is going to be an issue, and this will thankfully reduce the effect.

With those new ships, i also got myself a King cruiser. I saw the large turret and thought "yeah, that's gonna be useful". Unfortunately for me, it also got Omni Loader, which is very good to increase the firepower, but very bad for survival. Every time i looked at it in battle, the King was perpetually overflowing with flux, unable to do anything. I though that maybe the weapons i gave it were too flux intensive for it? Nope, Hellbore, autocannons, point defenses... And just like every ships cursed with Omni Loader, it died, a lot. Perhaps with further testing i could have made it work, but at this point i didn't bothered, and did set my sights on something new and shinier.

No long after forming my new fleet, i had the chance to get myself a Macnamara heavy cruiser. My quest for dakka is finally being rewarded! Take a Reid, give it enough sun, water it regularly, and one day, it will grow into a Macnamara, the highlight of the ARS fleet. Its little cousin, the Reid, eat frigates for breakfast. The Mac prefer instead a cruiser and destroyer based diet, and sometimes an occasional capital ship with some proper flanking manoeuvres. Its large array of medium turrets allows it many potential builds, but really, the Macnamara shines when its build as a Skirmisher just like the Reid. Chainguns and Safety Override turns it into a fast brute that can rampage through the enemy's rear line, or frontline, or anywhere really. Well, maybe not in front of that Onslaught then. Also, be careful of those Salamanders, as the Mac's engines are extremely vulnerable to flameout. Every times i got caught, it was because of a sudden flameout.

I haven't tested the Lyon a lot. Its unimpressive weapon package and Magnetized Plating (damper field) didn't quite fit in my new combat doctrine. Still, i got one of those out of curiosity. It is certainly pretty difficult to take down, but at this point, if the enemy was on me, it meant i was doing something very wrong. Perhaps i'm judging wrongly the Lyon, and probably should see it primarily as a carrier than can somewhat fight rather than a proper combat cruiser. Unfortunately, it eventually died, and i didn't bothered to replace it and test it further.

Finally, as i was now well into late game, i got my hands on the big boy, the Alastair battlecruiser. The Alastair isn't a bruiser like the Onslaught, nor an artillery powerhouse like the Conquest, neither an oversized skirmisher like the Odyssey, it's not quite like the Legion as well. Let's call it a souped up Osmond, a decent frontliner and a very good support ship. Like the Osmond, it can spawn EMP mines, disrupting the enemy's fleet. Its weapon package is also notably upgraded, and it got some fighters too. All in all, the Alastaire would become the ideal anchor for my deathball. By the way, did i mentioned i fell in love the Heavy Plasma Driver? It fits so well on the Alastair, on the Osmond too. Its armor penetration isn't all that great, but the long range, hitscan rapid ROF with pinpoint accuracy make it perfect for taking potshots at anything that lower its shield. A single Plasma driver won't do much, but a whole fleet with those? The punishment for getting in range is immediate and merciless. Perfect for a deathball.


Pew pew

Plasma drivers won't go through some of the heavily protected brutes i was encountering though. But for those, i had an answer too. Those two flight decks on the Alastair i didn't knew how to use? Let's put some Cobras in those, and unleash them when the enemy is helplessly paralysed by the EMP mine spam. I could get surprisingly far into the game with this tactic. Only the super long range monsters (Siegfrieds, Paragons...) were giving me trouble, the deathball does not work when the enemy can shoot farther than me!

In the end, that was a pretty fun campaign. Early game is extremely rough without a Reid, and from my experience, it's better to stick with a bunch of fast frigates (Only Reids, really) for early game with the ARS. Unlike vanilla or other mod factions, upgrading to destroyers as quickly as possible is a mistake here, as the bigger ships only begin to show their qualities when part of a large fleet. It's pretty contre-intuitive, and further add to the difficulty of playing the faction. Yeah, it's a difficult faction to play with, a bit like ORA or SCY, where early game is extremely unforgiving. Perhaps the thread's OP should have written in big red letters "Glass cannons, handle with care".

There's just a few outliers like the Thatcher and Burke that feels off, i couldn't make them work properly. Also Omni Loader that felt like a death trap in battle. Haven't looked in depth into the fighters. The Jack drones were what i used the most, since they were plentiful and i liked their ability to spam rockets. The Duke gunboats too were pretty good as long range fire support. Others like the Monodrone however, could have been deprived of weapons and they would still be as useful as they currently are. I guess they do cost 0 OPs to mount though.

Oh also, i "accidentally" scrapped the Champion. I feel i shouldn't have done that.

Suggestions / Re: Bring Plasma Cannon Back
« on: May 08, 2019, 03:09:51 AM »
I also miss the old plasma cannon. Although the new one is arguably better, more efficient, more reliable, safer. But firing what is basically a heavy pulse laser doesn't quite have the panache of the space BFG of old.

One of my most vivid Starsector memory was the first time i encountered a quad Plasma cannon Paragon. It was with Dynasector since variant randomisation wasn't a thing yet. I was used to bully standard Paragons variants with an Onslaught. And that day, i faced it, with its four big guns, slowly turning to face me.

"I think i should be able to take it, i'll go close to it and... Yeah, yeah, nope, no, definitely not! Change of tactics! Oh @$%& this isn't going as planned!"

It's not often when getting fired upon by a gun was a cathartic as firing it. Despite my nostalgia for the old BFG, i'm pretty okay if the new one stay. Moreover, if i'm really craving for something big, expensive, unwieldy that shoot death, some mods added their own plasma cannon variants that also scratch that same itch.

Mods / Re: Starship Legends - Personality for Your Ships and Crew
« on: May 03, 2019, 12:12:20 PM »
One on hand, this seems like a refined version of the Extra Systems mod, and i really want to try that.

On the other hand, i should probably wait for the inevitable others gameplay-change mods you'll release after this one before playing. I mean, this is your fourth one, you won't stop there right?

Joke aside, i'm not super sure with the way negative traits are gained depending on hull damage either. Yes, i do fly my ships like a Pather, and no, i won't compromise my reckless piloting for something as trivial as self-preservation.

But the bonuses! I want them! Although i admit i'm not sure what would be the solution either... I am against the solution of "repetition until mastered" like Trei suggested. I spent too much time in Skyrim afk-hitting a mammoth with a stick to increase my one-handed skill already.

Maybe the gained traits can depends on a battle end-result? Coming out of a fight half-alive at the top of a mountain of your foe's skulls would probably net you better traits than coming out half-alive without firing a single shot.

The combat analytics mod by Nick allow for some pretty impressive stat recording during battle. Perhaps something similar could be exploited to determine the traits one ship can gain depending on its performance? That way i could still behave like a glory hound while spacing half of my crew.

I don't think the nebula effect was removed because the AI couldn't exploit it, but rather because it wasn't fun.

In theory, using the battlefield to your advantage to beat an opponent is a good thing, it's fun, even if it means another handicap to the AI. In practice, it's too random and complicated to pull it off in the campaign.  The only time i managed to exploit and get a noticeable advantage from the environnement was during missions, thanks to their handcrafted environnement that suits the battle. But i never managed to do it with noticeable effect in the campaign.

The first thing that would come to mind would be "buff the environnement!" to compensate for the lackluster impact of nebulas. But buff it too much, and you end up getting a feature the player can abuse like those that Megas listed above. It would force the player to exploit it over and over to get that big impact, which would inevitably reduce the potential amount of "fun". Moreover, trying to find the proper balance for something randomly generated in the campaign would take a lot of trial and error testing.

Hence, the reason i suppose Alex dropped it. Not worth the effort to keep, nor the effort to balance it this late in the development.

I wouldn't mind seeing a modder take a shot at it though...

Suggestions / Re: General Feedback / Thoughts
« on: April 25, 2019, 12:32:26 PM »
I would really like for the ability to target friendly ships through the battle command UI.

That little guy here :

Why? Because i noticed that it's possible to send fighters to escort a targeted ally. Fighter range usually reach beyond the limit of the screen, especially for long range fighters like Thunders. Hence the wish for targeting allies from the command UI.

Technically, it's possible to do that using the "show video feed" option then manually targeting the ship, but the clunky-ness of doing it that way start to show after the twentieth time or so.

Another request would be to leave unchecked by default the "Upgrade weapons using extra OPs" option in the autofit menu. I'm fairly sure i'm not the only one being caught by surprise that way.

General Discussion / Re: Soloing the Remnant Battlestation (Updated)
« on: March 10, 2019, 10:13:52 AM »
With the 0.9 update, came some new fancy death engines from Alex and David to slay. I hesitated for a while, thinking if making this post was worth the effort. But it's sunday and i have nothing better to do, so let's just do it.

After defeating the 0.8 final boss, i wanted to try something a bit harder. Stronger than the Remnant Nexus, we now have Star Fortresses, bigger, badder, tougher. Let's go monster hunting. The rules are the same as before, the only ship allowed is the SWP Excelsior (with a new, shiny sprite by Tartiflette!). The skills used are pretty much the same as before, the ship loadout is different though, the EMP vent trick doesn't seems to work against the new space stations, so i'll have to fight with my guns only.


A few tweaks here and there depending on what opponent i faced, but the main idea is here.

I'll also talk a bit more about the how and why of the battle, but let's begin with the first opponent : the Jangala mid-tech Star fortress !

A tough one, whose main strength is its ability to unleash a storm of missiles after me. Both a blessing and a curse, i can use its excessive firepower to power the Excelsior, but using the phase shunt (the projectile absorber) at the wrong moment will guarantee an overload, and depending on my positioning, a sudden drop in my life-expectancy.

The star fortress taught me a few things about flying the Excelsior, about how to pick my targets. There are three things i look for when facing an opponent : What is dangerous to me? What is Useless to me? What is important to me?
From that, i know which targets i have to pick first, in that order : Dangerous>Useless>Important.

For exemple, what is "dangerous" is what can kill me easily (duh), what is "useless" is what i can't make use of, what is "important" is what i must use to power my ship.

Unfortunately, what is "dangerous" also tends to be what is "important", since things that can kill me can also be exploited by the phase shunt. In the case of this Star Fortress, the dangerous targets are the side modules with the Trebuchets LRMs that are the most likely to overload and kill me, but are also invaluable as they provide a large and reliable amount of flux. Therefore, i have to leave them for the last, so they can power me for the entire duration of the fight.

The useless here, is the carrier module. It doesn't have enough firepower to keep me going, and it also must die in order to defeat the space station. Also come with a hint of dangerous, while the Warthogs are too slow and lack sufficient alpha strike to threaten me. The Kopeshes are more problematic, and will relentlessly hound me. Their tendency to go straight at me, with the Trebuchets LRMs swirling around macross style, don't leave me much room to manœuvrer. This one must go down first.

As seen in the video, the Reapers are not used to kill, but to strip armor. The Excelsior's guns exceptional DPS lack armor penetration, hence the use of torpedoes to lay the hull bare for my Flux Shunt Cannons. So far the only way i found to kill a star fortress quick enough before running out of CR. I have to be quick, or i won't be able to drill through all those armor modules, but too eager, and i'll get boxed-in by Trebuchets, Kopeshes and mines.

Speaking of mines, some might have noticed some weird explosions on the station without my intervention. I noticed that the Mid-tech Star fortress's mines tends to slowly drift in the last position of the target. By flying very close to the station, the mines will have the tendency to drop toward it, and with some luck, damaging it. Sometimes, it's not a bad idea to fly next to a close one to voluntarily trigger it and cause friendly fire on the station.

Once the carrier module is gone, the main battery platform is next. The Mjolnirs with their fast, accurate projectiles are too dangerous to be left last, i need to kill it now by exploiting the two remaining missiles modules. Being the toughest module, it takes a while to bring it down. Once it is done, the two side pods are relatively "easy" to take on, just need some patience.

And now for opponent number 2 : The Eochus Bres High-tech Star fortress.

This one is a weird beast. A total glass cannon compared to its mid-tech sibling, it make up for it with its ability to spam an ungodly amount of mines. The first few seconds of the battle, despite looking relatively peaceful, are probably where i died the most. The Star Fortress have no qualms about spawning mines straight on top of my ship, and each mine is a one-hit kill. And if i overload, all the modules will go crazy with the mines, surrounding me with up to a dozen mines!

Fortunately, mines are long range only weapons, and the station won't (usually) spawn them if i'm sticking close to it. The Gargoyles drones are roughly delimiting the no man's land, beyond that, death is assured. Close range isn't exactly a safe zone either, fighting that closely to something with Autopulses can be quite perilous as well, but less unfair at least.

From the get go, i'm sniping the citadel module, the dangerous one, with torpedoes, exploiting the splash damage to weaken the weapon platform hiding behind it. Once it is done, i can follow in with the carrier module (the useless one) that doesn't offer me enough flux. Plus i was very nervous flying around a bunch of Cobras, it was unlikely they could hit me, but they certainly could overload me, better getting rid of this one quickly.

And then, the second gun battery module (the important one), i screwed up my first attempt at killing it, forcing me to wait in a long, awkward pause for the shield opening to come back.

You'll notice i mainly used the mines to power up the Excelsior here. Baiting the station by getting a bit too far, just enough for it to spawn two or three mines to eat, and going back in. Once i got the trick, the high-tech star fortress proved to be surprisingly easy-ish.

For the third opponent, the Coatl battle station :

Wait, that's not star fortress! Well, yeah, i know, i know... But this one is probably the toughest of the three, and after a few attempts to take down the Chicomoztoc low-tech Star fortress... Yeah, nah, not gonna bother. fundamentally, it's the same as the battle station, just with more armor, which is the problem.

(mind you, i'm fairly sure it is possible to beat it, just ridiculously hard)

The low-tech battle station is a battle of endurance. Its heavy armor make it incredibly difficult to take down, and where the other two space stations only have four modules to destroy to win, this one have six! This is a race against the clock, no time for caution, every seconds must not be wasted.

So, what is dangerous here? The citadel module with Mjolnirs/Gauss, while not deadly, is definitely an annoying because of its wide side coverage, the Gauss will be bothersome when i'll try to fight the carrier modules. Fortunately not too important to power up my ship either.

What is useless? The PD modules, nothing but flaks, vulcans and salamanders, not useful to me, and fortunately extremely vulnerable. They must go down first and quickly, the citadel will be second to give me room to breath.

What is important? The carrier modules are quite useful with their Piranhas and Pilums, but the main gun battery give me more flux. I decided to take down the carrier modules first, although i would use them to weaken the combat module before. After nearly 9 minutes of punching through that hunk of metal, it finally goes down.

Phew, alright, that's enough of that goddamn soul-sucking ship for now. I guess i can get back to playing normal Starsector for once.

Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.9.1a (In-Dev) Patch Notes
« on: February 01, 2019, 10:26:54 AM »
  • Ships with "Militarized Subsystems" no longer get increased maintenance from capacity-increasing logistics hullmods
    • And can have Safety Overrides

RIDE THE LIGHTNING I am actually against this change. As much as i want to field a stampede of SO Buffalo MK.II, allowing SO with Militarized Subsystems make it a no-brainer for freighters/tankers. The massive speed boost make it invaluable in retreat scenarios. A Tarsus can fit both MS and SO, allowing it to fly at a blazing 125 su, faster than a Lasher! And that's without counting the burn drive. Not all civilian ships have the OPs available for those two hullmods though, only the tankers , the Tarsus, the Valkyrie... Haven't checked them all.

But yeah, i think it's too good, civilians ships's survivability would be vastly increased with this combo.

  • Harbinger: changed 3 medium hardpoints to "energy" (was: "synergy")

The beast is dead! Like Serenitis, i kinda expected it to keep one synergy to allow for some variety. I think the Harbinger would now move more into a support role with its three energy hardpoints, with something like Ion Pulsers to annoy bigger threats, or heavy blasters to hunt smaller targets. The triple AM Blaster boat is another idea, an easier, but more expensive variant of the blaster Afflictor.

Overall, i really like all the listed changes, 0.9.1 is going to feel much smoother to play.

Mods / Re: [0.9a] Underworld 1.3.0b
« on: February 01, 2019, 09:33:29 AM »
that makes me really upset

Sounds like it's working as intended.

What's the real problem with it though? The Cabal always have been trying to steal the player's most precious stuff. In your exemple it doesn't seems all that different from usual. And it's not like you can't fight or run.

For me, a "true" full phase fleet wasn't a fun experience. You'll bleed supplies at an alarming rate, and only the Shade is really useful when fielded in higher number (the Doom too, technically, but it's not like you'll be able to afford it for several battle in a row). Worst, you'll end up stuck piloting a Typhoon Harbinger, forever and ever. It's just too good compared to everything else.

As for other unusual strategies, it's something i like to do from time to time, so here's what i did and what i found fun.

- Hardcore salvaging : recover every single ships you come across, with the ship limit removed (to keep it fun for late game). Throwing a swarm of barely functional, under-equipped junk ships into the meatgrinder is unexpectedly joyful.

- Autopilot only : you'll have to rely only on orders to influence the battle. I wrote a little bit about it. Extremely difficult early on though, it's probably better to start normal then go for this mode after acquiring a few ships.

- Shieldless run : Require the Ship and Weapon Pack mod. The mod add a "Shield Bypass" hullmod that removes shields but improved the flux dissipation depending on the original shield upkeep (i think?). Obviously a bit tricky to play, for me it did encourage a more agressive playstyle as a shieldless fleet cannot win an endurance battle.

- Pather run : mandatory Safety Override for everything, force you to play aggressive and smart, as you'll need to set the proper elimination orders to finish quickly a battle. Combine it with the Hardcore Salvaging strat if you're looking for absolute chaos (and shieldless run if you're that kind of sicko).

- Stampede : Buffalo MK.II only. You can add the Mongrel and Amalgam with SWP Edit : the Underworld mod (thanks Retry) if you want (Underworld isn't updated yet, but a new version shouldn't take too long to come out now). It is exactly as you would expect it.

- Excelsior run : Also require SWP. Turn Starsector into an arcade game at the cost of your sanity.

Your new sprites are so damn pretty.

I do not use Safety Override on Harbinger.  Harbinger's peak performance is already short enough without it.

You should try, the huge mobility boost is really nice, and the improved flux dissipation makes things easier during tricky situations where you have to cloak/de-cloak under fire. And it's not like you need that much peak performance to fire your 5 (10) shots into whatever you want dead then retreat.

I kinda like Histidine's suggestion about a stronger Interdictor Array. Although being stalked by an AI Harbinger that want to make your life miserable might get frustrating, especially if it's a guaranteed flameout.

I'm curious about that phase tanking idea too, like some kind of cloaked damper field.

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