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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: A Tale of Two Tech Levels (05/28/21)

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Messages - Pushover

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Suggestions / Re: Trade is brokenly unbalanced
« on: April 14, 2021, 01:28:02 PM »
Good examples: solar lamps, cryosleepers and hypershunts all require a supply of 10 commodities, which all exceed the base market availability. In order to use them at all, you've got to either make your own endgame-level supply chain specifically to accommodate them or use cores to reduce-demand/increase-supply or some combination of the two. At the endgame-level... what is even the point? What could I possibly be doing in the endgame to need the minor boost that would justify the hassle of getting a working hypershunt?
I think colony economics has a lot of issues, but the systems are very different from trading, to the point that it deserves its own thread. Things like the supply/demand system for colonies not making real sense (how can 1 colony producing fuel supply 100 in-faction military bases? Why are my colonies exporting a good during a shortage?) or even money made from colonies (how does it make sense that I would face total economic collapse if I was the only faction in the game?), or prices of goods (if I'm now producing 50% of the sector's food from only a few colonies, how has the trading price not gone down?). I'd love to see colonies get better integrated with the trading systems, beyond 'having X structure deletes Y goods and generates Z goods each month'. Shouldn't I be able to profit if I'm able to source enough volatiles for a month of fuel production in my colony at below market price?

I think my thoughts on trading can be summarized as follows:
  • Trading on the open market should not be profitable under normal conditions
  • Trading on the open market, by either buying from an excess, or selling to a shortage, should, under most conditions, be profitable.
  • Trading on the black market should be more profitable if done in the same volume as trading on the open market.
  • Trading on the black market in high volume should come with significant risks or penalties with non-pirate factions
  • Trading on the black market in illegal commodities should be (more easily) profitable than other types of commodity trading, as there are risks to getting caught.
  • Significant trading with Pirates (and Pathers) should result in risks and/or penalties (beyond potentially getting attacked by them), even if done with the transponder off.

Currently, only (3) and (5) are really the case. (4) is not because the risks are fairly minor (only a little rep loss) unless you happen to get scanned while holding illegal cargo. Now that you have SP, scans are completely avoidable. There are only very minor risks to getting caught on (5). For (6), I'd love to see things beyond rep loss from trading with Pathers/Pirates. Load them up with heavy armaments? They launch a raid, Hegemony investigates where they got all these weapons and surprise... your name comes up.

Suggestions / Re: Trade is brokenly unbalanced
« on: April 13, 2021, 10:49:53 PM »
I also can't believe people are seriously arguing that trading needs to be MORE unprofitable.

Aside from drugs and guns, there are literally no commodities in the universe that regularly trade for profit that exceeds the 30% tariffs that you pay on buying AND selling, barring market-breaking shortages. Not a one. That is a scenario that is unprecedented in the entire history of humanity.

I can understand making trading more DANGEROUS. That's legit. There should be risk and reward. But nerfing trade into the ground like that just makes me think... why even HAVE a trading system? What's the design philosophy - hell... what's the point - of a game that's impossible to win?

Privateer nailed this aesthetic perfectly. Bounty hunting and merc work are very lucrative, but extremely dangerous and require significant investment in hardware, while trading gives modest returns that can go straight into the red if you run into a fight your trading ship can't handle.

I want to be Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds. I want to buy low and sell high. I want to dodge pirates and corrupt cops. I want to barely make enough profit to afford fuel and definitely not to afford regular maintenance. I want to survive on the bitter edge of a human civilization descending into madness.

The current system isn't that. The current system is either smuggling or nothing, with no room for an ethically-flexible band of gray-market misfits doing a mix of legit and questionable jobs as they come up.
I think the big issues are that
  • It's too easy to trade fully on the black market with minimal repercussions. You can dodge patrols on most planets if you have a reasonable burn speed. As long as you don't have illegal cargo, if you do get scanned it's only a loss of some rep, which can easily be offset by a few small fights with system bounties. Quantity doesn't seem to matter beyond a certain point. I liked Nexerelin's semi-solution to this, where funding a rebellion is very profitable, but severely hurts relations with the market owner.
  • 30% tariff is way too high. Doing any major amount of 'cover' trading to hide smuggling cuts into the profit by too much to be viable. Against a 30% tariff, you need an 86% price difference to even make a tiny profit. Given that the stated goal of the tariff is to avoid having players ship goods around when there's only a tiny price difference, the tariff doesn't need to be so high.
  • A few goods are almost never worth trading, Ore (and to a lesser extent, Food) because its value per unit (and potential profit per unit) is so rarely worth the cargo space. Metals because there is rarely a shortage (you'll trade in metals because you get it for free, not because you buy metals in any serious amount...)

I feel like commodities getting sold to the black market should require some investment (a contact/fence on the market you are selling at?) if you are doing it in any serious quantity. That way you are tying yourself to a single market, and access to that market becomes very important. As is, if my relations with say... the Sindrian Diktat becomes Inhospitable due to the amount of smuggling I'm doing in Askonia (best place to buy/sell Volatiles in-system, Lobster is always profitable), I can just go elsewhere for only a little less profit/more time investment. The crew of Serenity lived based on their contact network, and I'm hoping that more contact interactions are coming in the future.

I put up my general thoughts on trade here:

Suggestions / Re: please add a debuff for max burn when cr is low
« on: April 10, 2021, 04:42:58 PM »
I think the Nexerelin scavenger solution makes a lot of sense for this, which is that you can engage ships who would stop you from taking the action, without having to actually chase them down. If they aren't looking for a fight, why are they trying to poke at your fleet? Alternatively, there maybe should be some way that you can screen your ships by spending CR (maybe supplies equal to the enemy fleet's DP?). I don't want to have to engage that single Glimmer that's preventing me from scavenging a research station, but I have to.

General Discussion / Re: How exactly global market works?
« on: April 09, 2021, 10:48:31 AM »
It does not really scale.

The way to make the most net income is to supply all of your demands in-faction, since that will reduce upkeep costs by 50%, and to get into all of the markets (produce everything).

The system is simpler than you think. In the base game, there's something like 223 units of demand for food from not from your faction, and each unit of demand adds 1000c to the global market. This means the most you could make, if you were the ONLY producer of food in the whole sector, is 223,000c/month from food. It doesn't matter who is supplying what, there's just an arbitrary global market for food that all food producers export to.

1) If you disrupt an enemy's production, you will be capturing a larger share of the market, so will make more money that way. Assuming everyone has 100% accessibility, if you have 5 colonies producing 5 food, and there's 5 other colonies producing 5 food as the only other food suppliers in the sector, you would have 50% of the market. If you disrupted farming on one of the other planets, you would get 55% of the market.

2) Where the demand is getting fulfilled doesn't matter. There's still a 'global export' economy from... somewhere... that determines how much money you make. Supplying in-faction only matters for upkeep costs.

General Discussion / Re: Let's talk about xiv ships
« on: April 09, 2021, 10:38:57 AM »
XIV also comes with additional OP, which means it has a bit more flexibility in the outfitting. Yeah, losing speed on a ship reliant on speed sucks, but the tradeoff is that the ship has better shields (from flux stats and extra OP) and armor. Eagle and Falcon are kind of meh when it comes to it, I find the base hull (and XIV) mediocre ships in general now (for 1 less DP than a Falcon you can have a Fury, and Eagle is facing competition from Champion/Dominator, which while heavier, fill a role in a larger fleet better).

XIV Legion and Onslaught are excellent ships (oh no... I lost 4 top speed!). XIV Enforcer and Dominator are both fine for what they are, which are armored bricks that potentially lack the DPS to really threaten things.

General Discussion / Re: How exactly global market works?
« on: April 09, 2021, 10:21:02 AM »
This is where the economy system starts to break down and not make a whole lot of sense, IMO.

Your colonies' demand does not count towards increasing the potential income you can make. That is to say, even if you have 1000 planets all demanding 5 food, and no other faction exists, you will be losing money because you can't export anything.

In your example, assuming no other faction exists, your planets with demand 7 and 8 will both be suffering a permanent food shortage of 1 and 2 units, respectively. The others will all be supplied 100% in-faction
Assuming the normal sector, those planets will get supplied 1 to 2 units through imports because there are vanilla colonies that produce at least 8 food.

Assuming infinite accessibility, only the highest supply matters, and is able to support an infinite number of planets' demand. If you have 1000 planets all demanding 5 food, and you have one planet that produces 5 food, all of your planets will be supplied in-faction. You could call supply and demand units logarithmic, but then the export value calculation should not be linear.

EDIT: In case it was not clear, in your second example, you will have a larger food shortage because only the world producing 5 really matters.

I think this is more an issue of 'small energy weapons are extremely mediocre' rather than 'Burst PD is terrible'

What are the similar weapons in the Small Energy slot? PD Laser, LR PD Laser, Tactical Laser, Mining Laser (I'd argue that IR Pulse, Antimatter, and Ion Cannons are all quite different, and I'm not going to talk about them until the end).

Mining Laser is practically useless. 600 range, which is more than the PD laser, but only 30 DPS makes it ineffective at stopping all but the worst missiles, and completely ineffective at anything with armor.
PD Laser (4 OP) offers 75 DPS, but short (400) range usually means that it will not be able to intercept many missiles without a lot of overlapping fire. Salamanders can be quite problematic if you are relying on a PD laser to shoot it down.
LR PD Laser (5 OP) only has 50 DPS, but a slightly lower flux cost and twice the range (800).
Tactical Laser (4 OP) has 75 DPS and long (1000) range, but has a 1:1 flux cost and requires the IPDAI to function as anti-missile PD. It also doesn't have the fastest turret traversal, meaning it can struggle to hit a salamander or fighter with a high radial velocity.
Burst PD Laser (7 OP) has 64 DPS under sustained fire, so more than a LR PD Laser, but also suffers from short (500) range like the PD laser. However, the higher burst damage can help pierce any armor on a fighter, and it has high initial DPS with the 3 charges to potentially delete a fighter wing.

Basically, my thoughts are as follows:
Mining lasers aren't worth it.
PD Lasers are good at dealing with harassing fighters, but aren't great at shooting down missiles before they impact your ship.
LR PD Lasers are good at dealing with missiles, but lack the DPS to kill fighters particularly quickly.
Tactical Lasers require a specific setup (and therefore extra OP) to deal with missiles, but are quite effective vs fighters if they aren't swarming you.
Burst PD Lasers offer a mix of ability to defend vs missiles and fighters, but only offers solid protection for a very limited time. Therefore, it struggles against a lot of pressure systems like Annihilators or Squalls, or heavy fighter strikes such as strikes involving a Khopesh Wing, or even a Piranha Wing. That said, they struggle against Broadswords due to the flares

For me, I go with Burst PD on most larger ships, as if you need better screening, you have escorts.

The other small weapons are all somewhat specialized (IR Pulse laser for hard flux DPS, AM Blaster for burst, Ion for EMP)

I do use HBLs on Astrals as they are not good as a frontline carrier, despite the Advanced Optics, and the alternative is to put Burst PDs. HBLs are quite underwhelming in most cases, especially compared to the ballistic counterpart of Dual Flak (or even Flak).

General Discussion / Re: Misguided Difficulty
« on: April 06, 2021, 02:08:08 AM »
The 90% ecm in those fleets is almost all coming from frigates with gunnery implants officers (6% ecm per officered frigate). Once that issue is resolved (Alex has already said he's making the ecm part elite so the AI will be much less likely to have it.), the situation should be much more manageable.

Hopefully he does the same with the +25% sensor range part of the Sensors skill since it makes most stealth-reliant missions a pain and some literally impossible.
I think the biggest problem comes from sensor arrays in-system providing a massive boost to sensor range that you can't really do anything about. I think the suggestion that I liked was having hacking the sensor array remove the buff from the other factions when it comes to sensor range. If that's the case, going dark with phase ships would make your detection range quite small.

General Discussion / Re: Commission welfare
« on: April 05, 2021, 03:54:13 AM »
Commissions are completely unnecessary if you just take a bit of time to go trading. I was able to make ~10m within the first year, starting from a Wolf start just by trading, mostly shipping supplies, armaments, and drugs to pirates and pathers. I'm willing to bet that trading earns 10x whatever your commission would earn, and IMO trading is too strong right now.

#1 That depends on rng of excess and shortages occuring
#2 You are still depending on the 1st of 3 years of free money
#3 You are doing nothing but trading for 1 year
#4 That is a specific playstyle that doesn't do missions or anything else inbetween
#5 It sounds like you are talking about the last version of the game and not .95a, the market is more stable now reducing profits... making this entire post based on out of date information and not "right now"
#1 is a guarantee with certain markets. Pathers will have a constant shortage of supplies and other goods, allowing you to sell for no less than ~160 per supply (low access due to hostilities with other factions means that they cannot import enough of anything really). Any trade disruption or pirate activity will raise the price further. I was maybe a bit lucky to have Pirate activity in the Pather's system for several months. Pirate trade fleets are far and away the most common trade fleet to die, meaning pirates are most likely to run into trade shortages. Umbra in particular struggles a lot with trade fleets due to the number of Diktat patrols in Askonia. Easy money buying excess volatiles and selling to the (near constant) shortage in Sindria. Even if there isn't a shortage, you are usually buying the excess Volatiles at 100 per, and selling at 200, for a quick cash in. Lobster is also quick cash, as any place facing a luxury good shortage will generally buy them at 200+, when you buy them for 80-120 after tariffs (worth picking up the ones on the open market).
#2 The total stipend is 12 * 15000 = 180k. That's not a lot in the scheme of things. Yeah, it's helpful getting going in the first month so you can get your first Buffalo. I did do a little bit of combat at the beginning, fighting Pirates around Garnir with the initial Corvus system bounty, but after I had enough to get a Buffalo, it was time to head out with a pile of stuff (IIRC I loaded up on Supplies and Marines, and ended up burning a SP to disengage from some Pathers who got aggressive when I tried to sell them stuff). After your first 'real' trade, you are usually sitting on like 50k or so, which is enough to start covering a lot of shortages.
#3 Sure, except I'm also shopping for weapons and ships (by the end of it I had a bunch of cash, a fair bit less than 10m, but 2 Conquests, an Atlas, 3 Collosuses, an Eagle, a XIV Falcon, 2 Tempests, a Prometheus, a Phaeton and an Apogee, and some random destroyers, plus an acceptable collection of weapons (shopping for HVDs, Maulers, Needlers, etc). Basically, I just skipped all the early combat and moved straight into the 'early capital ships' stage.
#4 I mean... what missions are you talking about? I'd take advantage of procurement and hauling missions, and various bar events for ships (bought the Eagle and Atlas, raided for the Falcon)
#5 The market is hardly more stable. I was on RC11 or RC12 for that particular game. As mentioned before, there are guaranteed shortages of supplies, fuel, marines, and drugs on Chalcedon due to insufficient access. You could call it a bug, but it's the system performing as written. Pirates and Pathers face high access penalties due to being hostile to most of the sector. This means that they can't import/export enough stuff, so they face shortages and excesses everywhere.

General Discussion / Re: Essay and thoughs on missions.
« on: April 05, 2021, 12:12:04 AM »
I have seen trade contracts as simple as getting small numbers of an item every month, cover numbers into over a million credits.
Those are not procurement missions, they are colony supply missions. You have to have a colony producing x amount of resources per month to complete them (I thought the same thing when I first saw them). Most of them are not completable until you have a quite large colony with the correct industry. I felt like they pay pretty poorly for the investment required most of the time. The millions of credit ones would require admin + alpha core + exploration item + story point boosted industries on a max size colony sometimes.
I think the biggest issue I have is that these missions aren't really something you will 'work towards' or 'work on'. It's generally a binary 'do I fulfill this already/will I have it in 2 years, so it's literally free money, or do I decline?' The reward is not high enough to promote going out of my normal colony building to try and set up the industry. I can't help but feel like economy system needs another change, to actually make supplying... supply an amount of goods rather than up to a certain demand on an infinite number of planets. That way, a contract to supply a person with X amount of goods means that you will actually be giving up those goods, if those are used in areas like 'supplying the patrol HQ' or similar. In a similar vein, while not exactly a 'mission', continuous shortages at several locations can effectively be a monthly 'procurement mission' for the quantity equal to the shortage. Pirates and Pathers should not end up with continuous shortages because they have low access on most of their colonies, as these are super exploitable for absurd amounts of cash. This also gets compounded with procurement missions getting offered from places that already have a shortage, offering crazy sums.

Larger procurement missions also frequently place the good on the market, which can mean a sudden 'excess' of whatever good you brought, so you can get paid once for the mission, then get paid again when you buy back whatever you just sold at a massive discount.

General Discussion / Re: High Scatter Amp Discussion
« on: April 04, 2021, 01:48:34 PM »
I'm curious if there's some sort of SO Sunder build that works with HSA. 500 range isn't much more than 450, so you only lose a bit.

General Discussion / Re: Commission welfare
« on: April 04, 2021, 12:18:11 PM »
Commissions are completely unnecessary if you just take a bit of time to go trading. I was able to make ~10m within the first year, starting from a Wolf start just by trading, mostly shipping supplies, armaments, and drugs to pirates and pathers. I'm willing to bet that trading earns 10x whatever your commission would earn, and IMO trading is too strong right now.

It's pretty common to either find a place that is buying 800 drugs for 300+, with you able to buy them for ~200 each, resulting in a 80,000 profit for that run at minimum. Under more extreme shortages (such as Chalcedon dealing with pirate activity, or losing a shipment), colonies can have shortages on the order of 2500 supplies at over 300(!) (~250k profit), or 800-1200 drugs at prices up to 600(!), ~400 heavy armaments for over 1000, ~300 marines for 500, etc. Luxury goods sometimes also reach around 200 credits per unit, with around 1000 in shortages. There's tons of opportunities to make huge amounts of money. Occasional bar contracts or larger hauling missions can also earn thousands.

Later on, having a commission hurts your colony value, since hostilities reduce access. But at that point, it barely matters since you can be swimming in cash from trading, or even simply losing 10% of 100k each month is not *that* bad.

General Discussion / Re: [Uber-Spoilers] Hypershunt Tap Acquisition
« on: April 01, 2021, 04:13:03 PM »
There's an item that you can salvage, just like all the other lost tech stuff (like nanoforges).

Adds demand for 10 units of Transplutonics. If met, +1 max industries, must be within 10 LY of the Hypershunt. (installed in population + infrastructure).

But yeah, it could be clearer.

General Discussion / Re: Complaints about CR and game design
« on: April 01, 2021, 04:01:41 PM »
I think deploying your massive battleship to kill 1 frigate loses its fun value very quickly. You can do some 'fun' things once or twice, even if it isn't optimal, but while I smirk when my Paragon absolutely deletes a Kite, the game would not be better if that's all you did -- chew up outmatched opponents.

If you don't find it fun, then don't do it? That's no reason to support taking it away from people who do enjoy it. This right here would be the "screw you, I got mine" attitude I mentioned.
I mean... nothing stops you from doing it other than the supply cost. If you have the supplies to do it... just do it? There's plenty of 'fun' things in games that are not exactly optimal. Committing crimes in TES games like Skyrim? Probably not optimal, but plenty of fun. Is that what the game is about? No.

The game wants you to accurately estimate what it will take to win a battle. If you want to spend a bit more for a more secure victory, you can do that. To use a RL example, the US does not deploy a carrier group to deal with piracy off the African coast, when a few ships will do the job.

I know, but that's exactly my complaint. That's the one playstyle the game pushes you into. If you happen to like that playstyle, good for you, but the game could be so much more than just this.

Not to mention that it's not actually possible to make that estimation accurately due to the dumb AI and lack of command points issues I mentioned.
There's been a lot of mitigation around the cost of losing a ship so that even if you guess wrong, the punishment isn't so severe. Ability to passively remove D-mods, ability to build your own ships, more ability to recover own ships, etc. Yeah, I'd love if the AI was a bit smarter at times, but fixing that issue is a very difficult problem. The punishment for losing a ship is not nearly as bad as it used to be. Is good now? Debatable.

"Nothing stops you, unless something does." Good one. ;) More to the point, there is indeed something that stops you, deployment points. Since you don't get your DP back when you retreat a ship, there's a hard cap on how many ships you can deploy. And in that case it's better to deploy them all at once.
This is just wrong, you get DP back when you retreat a ship.

Yes, I suppose you can still do that, but if the dev's comments on it are any indication, the nerf bat is rapidly approaching this particular strategy's face.
Yes, but at that point you run into this issue here:
Yeah, but at this point, it's no longer in the scope of this discussion and more about 'what issues still exist in Starsector?'. Late game balance isn't great right now. I agree there. The junker strategy needs better balance than "here's some unkillable ships because reasons." But CR and spending supplies is not really a lategame problem unless you want to talk about chain battles, which seems to be a Nexerelin issue more than a vanilla one (how many times do you really get forced into more than 2 back to back battles in vanilla?)

At the end of the day, you are always going to want more features, more options, more everything, but there's only so much that can be done, especially with such a small team.

General Discussion / Re: Complaints about CR and game design
« on: April 01, 2021, 12:34:58 PM »

It's bad game design to have an optimal strategy that's boring, and then expect players to not do the optimal strategy. Sid Meyers also mentions that "one of the responsibilities of designers is to protect the player from themselves". The optimal strategy should be fun.

That's my point exactly. "I should hold back because deploying my awesome big battleship will eat too many supplies" may be optimal but it's not fun. I worked hard to get that battleship, dammit! Being able to curb stomp some small fry with it is part of the reward for all that effort, but the game discourages it because it's not optimal.
I think deploying your massive battleship to kill 1 frigate loses its fun value very quickly. You can do some 'fun' things once or twice, even if it isn't optimal, but while I smirk when my Paragon absolutely deletes a Kite, the game would not be better if that's all you did -- chew up outmatched opponents.

The problem with autoresolve is that it promotes skipping the 'fun' part of Starsector, the combat. You already have autoresolve for pursuits (which generally does better than actually playing it out, I find...), which prevents the classic autoresolve issue of 'your invincible unit randomly decided to commit suicide in this battle... somehow', or Total War's 'higher difficulty = super imbalanced autoresolve so it's a trap to press the button'. Starsector is still heavily a space combat game. The space combat is IMO the best part about Starsector. It doesn't make too much sense to promote skipping the space combat in Starsector.

Forcing the player to fight battles also promotes fighting fairer battles. Instead of just picking smaller fleets to constantly autoresolve against, it promotes actually finding more challenging battles, since it's a better use of time.

Eh... combat is the main source of fun in Starsector, that's true, but that doesn't mean every battle is fun or worth fighting manually. Starsector tries to get around that with the CR and supply mechanic, by pushing you toward making those fights more challenging for yourself. But that kinda makes it feel like a self-imposed challenge rather than overcoming a real challenge, and a lot of people (myself included, obviously) aren't into that. So they don't do it, take the CR hit, and then complain that CR is annoying. You could say that that's my own fault and that I'm playing the game wrong, and I'd respond that the dev failed in his responsibility to protect me from myself as per Sid Meier's words.

There's this weird incongruity that is difficult to put into words. It's as if the game doesn't know whether it wants to be stat-based or skill-based. Where does player power come from in Starsector, stats or skills? The management aspects of the game point toward stat-based: you scavenge and trade to get cash, you establish colonies, you accrue a large fleet, outfit it with big guns, staff it with officers, etc. When it comes to deployment, the game discourages you from using the power you've accumulated and instead pushes you to fight on equal footing, as if it were skill-based. But when it comes to the actual battle itself, most of your power is in AI ships that you have very little control over compared to more conventional strategy games, so the game has switched to stat-based again. Except you don't have your stats, because you held back in deployment. The game discourages you from using your stats to win (because if you do, you waste CR), and it doesn't allow you to use your skills either (because you can barely control other ships, and your own keels over and dies after a few minutes). The dev doesn't understand what fantasy the game caters to; being able to assemble a large fleet of awesome warships is a power fantasy, but then the game punishes you for using that power and tries to make you struggle and scrape by anyway as if it's some kind of survival game.
The game wants you to accurately estimate what it will take to win a battle. If you want to spend a bit more for a more secure victory, you can do that. To use a RL example, the US does not deploy a carrier group to deal with piracy off the African coast, when a few ships will do the job.

As far as player vs fleet ability, this is where skills, officers, and all the other stuff combines to (hopefully) make interesting choices. Nothing stops you from going with a chain flagship strategy, if it still works, where you deploy 1 ship until it starts running out of CR, then you deploy the next and transfer command, etc. You can also go with the other side of it now, with Derelict Contingent and try to flood the field with crappy ships that have relatively low supply costs to maintain. If you have actually reached the point where you have a big fleet with officers, then you are probably also at the point where an extra 100 supplies per battle is no longer a serious concern, especially now that you can back your fleet up with a strong economic base from colonies. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of how the skills are set up now, but the ideas are there. Combat = you are stronger, Leadership = Officers are stronger (and it seems carriers as well?), Technology = Ships are stronger, Industry = You have more stuff/your campaign layer is stronger.

I think Alex understands his game and setting very well. The Hegemony and Persean League are not first rate powers, having the latest and greatest in technology, with well defined fleet doctrines and strategies. Instead, they are just the biggest fish in the pond, clinging to the scraps of what the Domain left behind. Everyone is just trying to get ships together that work.
As a player, you are trying to assemble your super awesome fleet, but there's significant hurdles in your way, which is the game. It's perfectly achievable, it's rather trivial to set up 3-4 colonies to earn 500k+/month. Once you have that, you basically don't have to care about CR, just take like 2 Atlases and 2 Prometheis full of supplies and fuel, since the credit cost is immaterial at that point. However, the game is IMO best when taking the journey to reach the 'optimal' fleet, not when you actually achieve it.

Project Ironclads was the TC mod that catered more towards the idea of what you mention, and it did a good job of it. But it was different from Starsector, which is why it was best as a TC.

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