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

Author Topic: New Player's Quick Review  (Read 546 times)


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New Player's Quick Review
« on: February 16, 2020, 12:10:04 AM »

Hi folks.
This review is mainly about game difficulty and learning curve. There's a tr;dl with suggestions at the end.

I learned about Starsector in through a review of the gaming magazine Gamestar, which I have never read, but it popped up in the news feed of my phone. Personalized advertising ftw.
I have enjoyed games such as Stellaris, Mount and Blade Warband, Elite Dangerous, etc, so I guessed Starsector was impossible to fail for me and bought it.
I've sunk something between 30-40 hours in it now and am in my 4th run (although one run was like 3 minutes long, so).

When I first fired up the game, I naturally clicked tutorial first. I've had a medium stressful week of work after me and was a bit overwhelmed, but the combat mechanics and information I had to process were manageable with a cup of coffee by my side.
I started a campaign, ignoring the missions.
I set the difficulty to Normal and enabled Ironman right away and kind of expected to fail. I didn't fail as quickly as I thought, though.

The tutorial seemed viable to introduce some important out of combat mechanics to me as a player, although I had to Alt+Tab out a few times to read up on stuff in this forum or on reddit. I got through it no problem with my starting fleet. I had picked the explorer quick start, so I had an Apogee cruiser, a Hammerhead and some smaller stuff. Seriously I do not understand what problems people have with the tutorial difficulty (I found some related threads on reddit on that matter). It is easily manageable and quite rewarding. I did have to keep a close eye on supplies through it, but that's kinda the point I guess.

I ran out of supplies quickly after the tutorial, so I naturally began selling harvested organs to pirate black markets forthwith. Bounties seemed good too, so I did a few of those. The rewards seemed balanced, I was making money, albeit slowly. Supplies were never a problem, really. They seem expensive but once you realize 10.000 credits is 100 supplies and keep tabs on that when calculating deployment cost versus reward, you're good. The stipend helped. Don't delete the stipend. Maybe as a hardcore feature, but not by default.

I then attacked a pirate base for 160.000 credits which was too big for me and died. End of play 1.

Play 2 was 3 minutes long, because I got a call an had to go.

Play 3 was about as long as play 1 and I stopped when I ran out of money. In this playthrough, I did the tutorial again (for free ships) and built a better fleet with 4 officers. I did better against pirates and never had any problems with fuel or supplies, but I eventually ran out of money.
This is when I Alt Tab'ed real hard and decided to figure out economics a bit more in depth. I read about colonies and exploring and out some time between me and the game.

I'm currently in Play 4 and have set up my first colony on a terran world. Stipend is still going for a year or so. I did most of my money through exploration, maybe 70% exploration and 30% bounties. I set up my colony when I had 1.000.000 credits stored, since that is what I read in multiple threads. It's a size 4 by the time I write this and creates me a steady income of around 30.000 credits per month. Nice. (I have been ignoring the "Easy" difficulty, because +50% loot feels like cheating. There is enough loot. I'd love to get the -25% dmg to my fleet without the +50% loot setting!)

Pirates raided me, but that raid failed somehow. Idk, someone else must have mauled them since I was losing supplies orbiting a black hole or jumping into a neutron star system wrong at the time the raid happened, I wasn't there. I focused my colony on defence first and when the second raid happened, I was on my way back, bought a few ships from my insane AI core and black market exploration data money and crushed them and their base.
So far, so good.

I'm still having trouble with combat. Ironman is cool and all, but I admit, I had to quit many battles (which does not autosave, so not really Ironman) or shut down the game manually to avoid conflicts and jump back to my last save. Had I not been so dedicated towards Starsector, I would have probably ragequitted at some point. It's difficult to see which fleets you can take on and which will destroy you, although a good indicator is whether they run from you or run for you. I want to be better at combat, but at this point I mostly click full assault and see what happens. My fleet composition is also trash, I suppose.
I did some missions, but they didn't really teach me stuff, so I'll go back to tutorials and vids on the matter to get better at it I suppose.

Combat and fleet composition is such an important mechanic in the game, I think that's what needs to be made more accessible. I figure since this game has had a dedicated community, there's too many 'elite' players around handling combat too easily, but new guys like me are totally lost ;D. When I type in 'combat help' I usually find a thread saying 'oh simply field two XY ships with ZY mods and three YX ships with ZY mods and you're good'. Perhaps a more in depth tutorial on the matter would be good and a tooltip which suggests good fleet combos that the AI can handle well.

All in all, the game is difficult to access for a new player, but manageable. You need to have some time and nerves on your hands, but then it is rewarding. Economy, colony management (so far), missions and moving around space is easily understood and doable. Combat and building your fleet is hard, but I suppose it's meant that way. So far, good game, 10/10 would buy again.


  • Tutorial good
  • Add more info on ingame mechanics in game (no Alt+Tab for casual players!)
  • Difficulty okay (maybe a setting where you get the -25 dmg to fleet but not the +50% loot, loot is FINE as it is)
  • Ingame suggestions which ships suit which role, fleet composition is the most difficult feature rn
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 12:18:59 AM by aeriagloris »


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Re: New Player's Quick Review
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2020, 07:18:32 AM »

Generally combat becomes easier the more you internalise knowledge about the game.
General rule of thumb is, you want to win the "flux war" - So that means a healthy amount of Kinetic-damage weapons (The majority of which are Ballistics), and a mixture of ships that can deal it and easily disengage to vent, and those that can out-shoot and force the retreat of most things.
Frigates heavy on HE (Anti-Armour), Frag (Anti-hull) and/or EMP weaponry can deliver those damage more easily against capital ships by way of their mobility; the better you can overwhelm or fix the target, the better they are at doing so.
It's also prudent to consider the types of fleets you're going up against at a given time period; Pirates and Pathers are much more susceptible to HE and Frag damage as they field many unshielded ships.
Hegemony ships' shields and flux will buckle under sustained Kinetic attack, but their typically heavier-armoured ships demand a good balance between KE and HE, with some frag thrown in there for finishing them off.
Tri-Tac ships are generally high mobility, high-damage-output and low flux tolerance - High volumes of KE weaponry and flux efficiency of your own ships to force them into retreat when they engage, missiles to bloody their noses when they overextend and get overloaded, a few frag weapons to twist the knife in those proverbial wounds. Hardened Subsystems to help your ships outlast theirs is important against their phase-cloakers and skimmers.
Diktat, League and Independents are somewhere between the two, and demand the most balanced mixture of damage types - or having a mix of different specialised ships to deploy as you're able.


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Re: New Player's Quick Review
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2020, 10:36:15 AM »

Just wanted to say hi, and welcome to the forum! Also, thank you for your feedback.

As far as combat specifically - hmm. Ironman probably makes this more difficult since it's harder to retry things, but there are outside-the-campaign "Missions" - in the main menu of the game that you see when it loads - that are meant to be sort of an escalating, post-tutorial introduction to fleet combat. I'm not sure if you're aware of these; if not, I'd recommend playing them through, as you'll definitely pick up some knowledge and skills, and it won't be at the expense of ending a playthrough if something doesn't work out.

("Run simulation" in the refit screen can serve a sort of similar function in letting you try things in a low-stakes environment.)


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Re: New Player's Quick Review
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2020, 10:43:56 AM »

Okay, I got the hang of it (for now).

I didn't play any missions, but I used the simulator more and tried around. Figuring out what the AI can handle is important for fleet building. Also in which order you deploy your ships, that seems to be 80% of the job. Having your own ship production at colonies is a game changer, really. You can field the ships you want and not the ones you find.

I'm planning my 6th colony atm. My fleet is made of a tank vanguard of Dominators with Mjolnir Cannons and Missile Finishers as main, Apogee Cruisers with Plasma Cannons and Squall for early pressure. Herons provide Fighters (Heavy + Bombers) and Pilum Missiles for more pressure. Sunder Destroyers with Phase Lance and two Tactical Lasers obliterate everything. It's fun to watch, really. They snipe some frigates and smaller stuff one shot and provide the necessary damage to larger ships which have been weakened by my frontline.

Atlas, Prometheus (with Augmented Drive Field) and an Ox make sure I can still easily do my exploration business with the fleet and don't use up my maximum ship count with smaller support vessels.

For balancing issues, I think the random delivery contracts are too valuable, although they really accelerate the player's progress. It's pleasing to get delivery contracts to your own colonies, but like I said, 200.000 for delivering some fuel seems OP.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 10:54:15 AM by aeriagloris »