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Author Topic: Starsector beginner guide  (Read 75788 times)

HELMUT

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Starsector beginner guide
« on: November 11, 2017, 06:22:43 AM »

Starsector beginner guide


Starsector is a hard game, especially when you have no idea what to do. Hence, i decided to write this little guide to show any new players the basic guidelines to get started with the game. While there's no wrong way to play, here i'll focus on what i think is the easiest career. Let's play as a scavenger, shall we?



0. Avoid mods for a first playthrough

Mods are great and all, but they usually increase the difficulty of the game, and may or may not cause issues depending on what you decide to download. The basic game is quite good as it is, you'll have plenty of time to try mods later.


1. Do the main menu Tutorials

Really, if you want to survive, you gotta play the tutorial.


2. Do some missions before starting a campaign

Not all of them of course, and you might not even win a single one. But it's a good way to get a feel on the various ships you'll fly and encounter.


3. Start campaign with the Wolf frigate and Shepherd freighter, use easy mode

No shame in using easy mode here, the game is still going to rough you up with it. As for the starting ships, The Wolf is a proper combat ship, and even as a scavenger you'll have to fight your way through. The Shepherd is equally capable of carrying your supplies as well as keeping its opponents busy in battle thanks to its Drones.


4. Do the campaign tutorial

It'll show you how the "overworld map" works, so don't skip it. It's also the occasion to gain some "free" ships at the beginning.


5. What skills should you choose?

Spoiler
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Technology tree -> Navigation up to level 3
Industry tree -> Field repairs and Recovery operations up to level 3

While those are not the "best" skills available, they'll help reduce the maintenance cost of your fleet. The other skills depends on your preference. Want to fight a lot? Combat skills might be handy for you. Want to field a large fleet and use Carriers? Leadership might be better. Want to salvage ships and explore things? Industry and Technology are good too.


6. Save often !

Bad things will happen, a lot. And you'll need to reload, a lot.


7. Mothball recovered ships

If you do not have a surplus of supplies and crew in your inventory, it's better to mothball your newly acquired ships to avoid the unnecessary supply drain. You can go to a station to un-mothball them and repair them more safely later.


8. Do not sell salvaged ships

Salvaged ships aren't worth much, even when repaired. You'd be better scuttling them for a few ressources or not recovering them in the first place.


9. Turning the transponder ON and OFF is important

The transponder is like your licence plate, you want it ON when you're in civilised space. You do not want to be seen and identified when you're in hyperspace and uninhabited systems though, unless of course you want to signal your position to every pirates in the Sector.


10. Avoid hyperspace storms

Storms will make your life miserable, avoid them at all cost. Turning off Sustained Burn to better maneuver around them is better than diving straight through them. Also, a simple trick to avoid being caught in deep hyperspace :

Spoiler
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11. Don't take a commission with any factions

Taking a commission with a faction will makes others groups hostile, preventing you from (officially) docking their stations. Commission are useful if you want to maximise your profits while bounty hunting, but in general, you'd rather want to keep it low and avoid annoying the big players in the sector.


12. Get a tanker

No matter what you're planning to do, you'll always need a tanker for hyperspace travel. The Dram tanker is the smallest, cheapest one, available pretty much anywhere. Get one of those.


13. Pick analyze derelict mission

In most station's comm directory, you can choose missions for a faction, you'll gain reputation and money from completing them. "Analyze derelicts" missions tends to be the easiest to do, and require you to travel in deep space to find a specific object to scan (it will appears with a "!" on it). Avoid taking missions where the target is located in the "outer reaches" of the system, finding those can be hell. Be sure to load on fuel before doing those, you don't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, don't you? You can activate the fuel range indicator in both the Map and Intel Map to see how far you can travel.

Spoiler

The inner ring shows how far you can go and have the fuel to come back to your starting point, it's recommended not to go too far beyond that limit
[close]


14. Avoid unnecessary battles

Fighting for the hell of it is going to cost you many supplies and leave you in difficulty later on. Only fight when you can't do otherwise (or when the target have a bounty on its head).


15. Avoid systems with a warning beacon

Yellow beacons with one ping are okay even at the beginning, orange and red ones (with two, and three pings respectively) are not.

Spoiler


Pictured here, not your friendly neighbourhood.
[close]


16. Keep a safe distance with the neutral Scavengers

Spoiler
[close]

In deep space, there's no law, and frustrated scavengers are quick to turn to piracy when the opportunity comes.


17. Don't hesitate to explore systems

Even after completing your Analysis mission, it's not a bad idea to stay in the system a bit to explore with your Active Sensor Burst. Inhabited systems usually have a bunch of derelicts drifting around, some full of expensive loot.


18. Dump metal and other cheap commodities in priority

There's only so much stuff your fleet can carry, and being overcapacity (both in crew and ressources) will drain more supplies than usual. Be ready to throw away the cheap stuff (metal, ore, organics, volatiles, etc) to make room for more interesting ressources.


19. Use the black market

Law abiding citizens get the short end of the stick in Starsector, don't be a law abiding citizen when you don't have a reason to. Black markets usually offer interesting ships and weapons for sale, and the reputation penalty for buying there is usually small enough that you can get away with it. A good compromise is to buy at both the open and black market to reduce the reputation hit.


20. Get officers whenever possible

You can hire officers in the comm directory of stations/planets. Officers will level up as they fight and greatly improve the capabilities of your ships. Officers have personalities that modify their behaviour in combat, in order, try to hire officers in that way : (Steady>Cautious>Agressive>Timid>Reckless)


There! You're good to go now! Of course, there's more than this, derelict analysis missions will sustain your fleet for a bit, but you can later on switch to different careers depending on what you want. There's probably a few things i missed as well, but if you have questions, the Starsector's discord usually have quite a few people active willing to answer those questions.

http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=11488.0

Hopefully you'll enjoy your first campaign. And if you still want more, well, then i'll direct you to this thread instead :

http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=11462.0
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 11:36:22 AM by HELMUT »
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Midnight Kitsune

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 07:05:37 AM »

I would mention HOW to get officers and also stuff like turn on the tutorial tooltips and about mousing over your OP bar in the refit screen to see the current ship stats
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00lewnor

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 07:57:37 AM »

Firstly piracy not piratery regarding the neutral scavengers.

Secondly I agree that you probably don't want to add any faction mods to your first game but there are some mods that may be desirable, primarily auto save and Steiner Foundation, possibly common radar and combat chatter and possibly audio and graphics updates.

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Megas

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 08:04:22 AM »

Quote
Want to fight a lot? Combat skills might be handy for you.
I disagree with this.  Most of the best combat skills are in Leadership and Technology.  In some cases, it is more efficient to get Officer Management and level up two more officers than spend your points on skills they can take.  Even so, few Combat skills are good for the player.  Combat Endurance 1 is great for more peak performance for any ship you pilot (and you will need it), and if the player wants to pilot a carrier often, then Helmsmanship 3 is a must.

Also for skills...
* Fleet Logistics is great at all levels (except maybe 1 due to the bug of 100% getting halved to 50% with destroyed ships).  2 is good for cutting down supply use in campaign, at least for those who do not fight much; and 3 is one of the best perks for a blood knight who fights much (or for anyone prone to mistakes on the map that cost CR).  CR is life.

* Electronic Warfare 1 is a must by late-game.  Significant number of faction fleets (that you hopefully do not fight until you are ready) will have ECM, and automatically losing 10% to 20% to shot range will hurt your gunships significantly.

* Loadout Design 3 is gold.  You never have enough OP, but carriers are especially OP hungry.  That said, if you avoid combat, getting this can be delayed, but you will want this eventually.

* All of Fighter Doctrine is gold, if any ships in your fleet use fighters.  It affects your whole fleet, and 2 is the easiest way to obtain Converted Hangar hullmod (assuming game with no mods).  As with Loadout Design 3, get it only when you are ready to fight.

* If you always deploy many ships in battle, Coordinated Maneuvers 1 is very convenient.  No need to capture Nav objectives if you have enough ships to max your Nav relay bonus right from the start.

Other tip...
* Carriers tend to be more powerful than gunships.  However, depending what fighters your AI ships have, they may not use them optimally due to their... quirks.  It is a good idea to mix gunships and carriers.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 08:10:36 AM by Megas »
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mehgamer

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 09:18:30 AM »

Quote
Want to fight a lot? Combat skills might be handy for you.
I disagree with this.  Most of the best combat skills are in Leadership and Technology.  In some cases, it is more efficient to get Officer Management and level up two more officers than spend your points on skills they can take.  Even so, few Combat skills are good for the player.  Combat Endurance 1 is great for more peak performance for any ship you pilot (and you will need it), and if the player wants to pilot a carrier often, then Helmsmanship 3 is a must.

The noncombat tree combat perks tend to rely on a better understanding of the game and do not function as direct stat buffs, aside from possibly Power Grid Modulation and Gunnery Implants.  If you want a ship to simply be "better", the combat tree does a better passive job of it and should be emphasized for newer players.

That being said yeah the guide already outlines leveling tech.  When in Rome...
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 09:30:12 AM by mehgamer »
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Megas

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2017, 10:08:50 AM »

The problem is most Combat boosts are weak enough that they do not let a combat-skilled ship outperform an unskilled ship enough to matter, with few exceptions.  I have built characters with all personal skills, and they do not perform significantly better than unskilled character.  Small ships still cannot outfight bigger ships, and big ships still cannot force fights - they just die a bit slower.  This is unlike before 0.8 when such a character can solo entire fleets with a single battleship (or possibly less).  Combat skills were generally balanced for officers.  Want better combat skill power?  Get more officers and maybe a bigger battle map size.  Want to solo everything as in the old days, get a carrier and all of the fighter and mobility skills.

Carriers are stronger than gunships, AI stupidity notwithstanding, and their skills are in Leadership (aside from game-changers Helmsmanship 3 and Loadout Design 3), not to mention that more CR impacts combat performance.  Combat has Combat Endurance 3 for one ship.  That is too expensive for the player if he does not care about Combat Endurance 2 (I do not, it is a junk perk); better for player to get Officer Management and use one or both officers to get the skill, then use his ship.  Fleet Logistics affects the whole fleet, and it is in Leadership.

Unskilled character is viable.  A beginner could take mostly campaign skills and few of the very best combat-focused skills, and most of the best combat-focused skills are not in Combat.  If player does not care to pilot a carrier, the only skill he really needs from Combat is Combat Endurance 1.  +25% to peak performance is great for anyone, and gives a newbie (or a veteran) more time to do things with his flagship should the cowardly AI be up to its old stalling tricks.

The best direct combat skills are in Technology.  Gunnery Implants 3 is must-have, unless you are married to a carrier flagship, then you are better off without it.  Power Grid Modulation is a luxury (I like to get it for Mjolnir spam, but I may not be able to afford it).  Loadout Design 3 is a generalist boost that can be used for much, like getting EMP resistance, more dissipation, even a hangar for ships that do not have one.  Loadout Design 3 competes with or is better than nearly every other Combat perk.  Then there is the equalizer Electronic Warfare 1.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 10:42:23 AM by Megas »
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HELMUT

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 11:48:38 AM »

I really wanted to avoid the whole "those are the skills you must get" thing for this guide. The few i suggested are just here to make things easier on the campaign layer, but that's all. I think it would be better for beginners to figure it out themselves or ask on the Discord if they truly want to optimize their fleet.

Same thing for carriers, i think they should see by themselves. This is a starter guide after all, they'll have plenty of time figuring out what really works once they'll get past the early learning curve.
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Soychi

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2017, 03:01:39 PM »

To your point about skills discussion and Megas's about carriers being the best for combat, I think it's important in a tutorial that comes out now to mention carriers are easier to win fights with right now. I would personally have to say that the combat skills are still useful, although having played for a long time, a lot of that's probably from experience, especially tanking HE on shields and Kinetics on armor. 

Buuuuut, for the skills you talk about, I think it's criminal not to recommend the right side of the Industry, salvage rating and surveying. They're cash cows if they take survey missions, and that cash cushion makes losing a fleet much more forgiving. 
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Megas

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2017, 04:10:52 PM »

The reason carriers are good is fighters.  They are like homing regenerating long-range missiles that can actually kill things, and they are generally fast enough to catch cowardly AI ships if they refuse to engage.  AI - on both sides - are dirty stinking cowards, because they try to position themselves at an ideal spot before they attack as a pack, but sometimes fail at it due to the other side attempting the same, resulting everyone trying to dance around each other.  Small ships that are fast enough are (generally) not powerful enough (even with combat skills) to outfight bigger ships, and big ships are too slow to keep up with small ships.  AI is very happy to stall until peak performance times out and CR decays to zero.  For those who play fighting games, imagine how annoying turtle players are.  This is how the AI fights in Starsector.  Anything that can break that nonsense is good.  The easiest counter to enemy cowardice is fighter power.

The reason I mention Electronic Warfare 1 is not taking it is a hidden "Gotcha!" once the player is ready for commission and starts fighting enemy factions, or not take a commission and eventually encounter deserter fleets that are pirate in name only and an enemy faction fleet in all but name... perhaps after the player hits the level cap and has no more skill points left.  A while back, someone posted that enemy fleet with ECM was hurting him, but he was already max level and could not take Electronic Warfare 1.  Electronic Warfare 1 is really one of those must-take skills, and not because it is overpowered, but because the player needs it to play on a level playing field instead of with a permanent handicap against a significant number of enemy fleets (even if not a majority) near the end of the game.

As for right side of Industry, Salvaging and Surveying.  They are early-game crutch skills.  You sacrifice permanent power for an easier start.  But since this topic is meant to help beginners, those crutch skills can be very helpful for those having money problems early.

* Salvaging - Either max it or don't bother.  Level 1 unlocks habitats and some AI derelicts.  They yield nothing rare that cannot be found elsewhere.  Level 2 unlocks mining stations.  They can yield rare items that are hard to find elsewhere, but not very many.  The research stations require level 3, but salvaging them can yield several rare items which are very useful, plus other junk that is good for pocket change.  By rare items, I mean stuff that can be acquired only through commission or lucky drop from combat (against major or hidden factions).

* Surveying - Again, max or don't bother.  This lets players scan planets for datapads that can be sold for cash.  Someone can probably do a better job than me at explaining how to exploit surveying, since I do not really bother with it.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 04:20:03 PM by Megas »
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MattD

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2017, 05:36:33 PM »

This is great! Do you mind if I share some tips as well? Disclaimer that these are based on the playstyle I've developed as I've been learning the game, which may or may not be fun for others. And they're for version 0.8.1a--I don't know how future updates may change them.

Try to beat the "easy" missions (from the main menu) before beginning a campaign

Echoing HELMUT here. Personally I repeated the "easy" missions several times each, until I could beat them with some consistency. This gives practice with the controls, how the AI fights, group tactics and how to give orders, etc.


Try out different ships and loadouts to determine what best fits your playstyle

You might prefer fast and maneuverable, using techniques like hit-and-run and circle-strafing; or a slower, slug-it-out approach, either from up close or at range; or being a carrier commander, deploying fighters and bombers to attack and defend as needed; or even not piloting a combat ship at all. Different ships with different loadouts can play very differently, in isolation and in combination with other ships in a fleet; so try different variants until you find something that clicks with you, and then start building a fleet around that.

Using the main menu missions, and the simulator once you've begun a campaign, let you experiment with some of these options in a low-risk way.


You can build your fleet through recovering derelict ships

You may want to buy a tanker, such as a Dram, early on, rather than waiting to randomly recover one. But beyond that, you can build a very serviceable fleet in both quantity and quality through ship recovery--saving your money for trade goods, or for select, strategic ship purchases to get you over difficulty humps.

Because Corvus has both Hegemony and Pirate worlds, for example, you can often find derelicts within the system, or in hyperspace just outside, as the result of battles. Likewise with a few other nearby systems that have similar "built-in" faction conflicts. Recover a derelict, mothball it, return to a friendly base to refit it and buy any necessary resources to integrate it into the fleet, and then un-mothball it.

Also, be on the lookout for allies already in combat: often you can join a battle with less risk because of the allies, and then recover a ship or two at the end. (Or, if you don't want to risk combat, just wait nearby until the battle ends.) And when you feel ready, bounty missions become a great source of recoverable ships.


Buying storage lets you store ships as well as trade goods; put excess ships in storage

It's not completely obvious from the tutorial or the UI, but although you buy storage from the trade goods screen, once purchased you can store ships in that storage from the buy/sell ships screen.

(Note however that you shouldn't need to buy storage very often: be on the lookout for abandoned bases that will let you store trade goods and ships at no cost.)

Once you have storage, you don't need to bring all your ships with you, all the time. Especially early on, you may acquire ships that cost more resources than you can spare; soon, you'll start to outgrow certain low-end ships or those with many D-Mods. And later, you may want to customize your fleet for certain missions: one fleet composition for hauling goods, another for bounties, etc.

(Finally, in the unfortunate event that your active fleet is wiped out, having extra ships in storage is a good way to quickly get back on your feet.)


The missions that factions offer are based on your fleet composition

This is a loading screen tip that is is easy to miss. You'll be offered more procurement missions if your fleet includes freighters with a lot of cargo capacity. You'll get more missions to survey oddities in distant systems if your fleet includes tankers. Etc.

So if you want missions of a certain type, make sure your fleet looks capable of taking on those missions.


Procurement missions are a good way to become familiar with the core systems

I often begin a campaign with procurement missions. They offer a steady ramp-up of income, they provide a good introduction to the core worlds, and they have some safety-net because of the patrols against pirates in the core systems.

This doesn't mean you'll avoid combat by doing procurement missions, but you may have more options: you'll often have help available if you can pull pirates toward a friendly patrol; you may be able to avoid combat by giving up the goods to the pirates; and you'll have more nearby systems to run to, if necessary.


Pay attention to what is available where, and at what prices

When you're asked to procure goods, you don't want to waste time and resources traveling around looking for a good supplier of them. So as you do missions to other systems, pay attention to what is offered where, and where the best prices are.

Indeed, once I feel like I have a reliable cash flow and a good handle on the economy's normal prices, I'll often buy trade goods in bulk whenever I see them at low prices, and then bring them back to a storage location, so that I have them on-hand when a procurement mission requesting them comes up.

And of course you'll want to know for your own fleet where you can reliably buy fuel, supplies, and crew at good prices.


Vanilla bounties aren't listed as missions, but rather in the Intel screen

If you're wondering where all the bounties are that other players are talking about--you'll find them in the Intel screen, in a "Bounties" sublist separate from "Missions."


If you do want to give modding a try...

A few mods that can make the vanilla game more comprehensible for a new player are:

Common Radar: adds a radar in combat
Leading Pip: can help with aiming
Lightshow: color-codes different weapon types to help you recognize when they're being used
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King Alfonzo

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2017, 10:47:27 PM »

This is great! Do you mind if I share some tips as well? Disclaimer that these are based on the playstyle I've developed as I've been learning the game, which may or may not be fun for others. And they're for version 0.8.1a--I don't know how future updates may change them.

You can build your fleet through recovering derelict ships

...
Also, be on the lookout for allies already in combat: often you can join a battle with less risk because of the allies, and then recover a ship or two at the end. (Or, if you don't want to risk combat, just wait nearby until the battle ends.) And when you feel ready, bounty missions become a great source of recoverable ships.
...


This cannot be stressed enough. A really, really good way to get loot is to hang around a battle while it's in progress, and you're sure that any hostile fleet will lose. If you plan on salvaging the debris field from the batlle, I suggest that you only do it once the battle is over. The best way to describe it is the debris field is like a ripening fruit - if you harvest early, then you'll only get a small bonus, and because you've plundered the debris field according to the game, you won't be able to get ALL the salvage. If you wait until the battle is over and then salvage, you'll salvage the goods from the entire battle.

2_Wycked

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2017, 03:46:19 AM »


The missions that factions offer are based on your fleet composition

This is a loading screen tip that is is easy to miss. You'll be offered more procurement missions if your fleet includes freighters with a lot of cargo capacity. You'll get more missions to survey oddities in distant systems if your fleet includes tankers. Etc.

So if you want missions of a certain type, make sure your fleet looks capable of taking on those missions.

Wow, I probably have like 200 hours in this game and I never noticed this.
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FreedomFighter

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 03:47:30 AM »

I want to add that Moth-ball ship forbid you from using Traverse Jump. You need to un-moth it first. Just a bit of extra busy work.
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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 09:20:11 PM »

Since we're referencing this as the go-to guide for beginners, I'll add a few things for beginners that I think were missed:

  • High Tech Ships - These are a noob trap IMO, their maintenance and recovery costs as well as repair costs are brutal. Don't get these until you have a lot of income or are a great pilot and don't get beat up.
  • Get an Enforcer Destroyer - Tough as nails, and cheap to field with more than enough fire power to kill almost anything.  Outfit with 4 reapers, 2 heavy maulers, 2 flak cannons, 1 heavy needler and max vents and you have a solid general purpose smashing machine.
  • Get 5 Enforcer Destroyers - Just like above

You can use the more exotic and difficult ships that reward piloting mastery when you really understand what the mechanics are of surviving combat AND making money while doing it.  But until then, focus on Hegemony ships and build your fleet around Enforcers.

AxleMC131

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Re: Starsector beginner guide
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2018, 11:12:24 PM »

Personally I'd suggest the Hammerhead over the Enforcer. The Enforcer is an utter brick, yes, and can take waaaay more punishment, but nothing beats a Hammerhead for simplicity, versatility, reliability and being downright cheap to maintain.
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