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Author Topic: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players  (Read 14895 times)

DaviBones

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Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« on: October 02, 2019, 05:46:34 AM »

Preface

Are you a new player frustrated by your supplies constantly dwindling? Don't worry, you're not alone. Supplies and Combat Readiness (CR for short) are complex and interwoven topics, and it's easy to find yourself far from what's left of civilization, with your crew and captains nagging you with complaints of "We went and ate all our snacks last week, now we're starving!" and "We ran out of duct tape so the ship exploded!"

But with a full understanding of the mechanics and some careful planning, I promise that you can convince your unruly crew to ration their cheese puffs and superglue.

(Said more seriously, this is a guide all about Supplies and CR, and how you can make sure you never see that dreaded, orange "no supplies" text in the bottom left of your screen.)


Supplies: An Overview

Supplies are a cargo item, with a base value of 100 credits. While they can be traded for a profit, their main use for the player is fleet maintenance and repair. You don't want to run out of supplies, ever. Doing so will result in Bad Thingsā„¢. I will elaborate more on running out of supplies, and what to do in that situation, in the final section of the guide.

Because supplies are one of the most important logistical resources in the game, they are displayed in the UI at all times just below your credit total, along with their current consumption rate. There's also a tooltip if you hover the mouse there, and if you hit F1 while the tooltip is showing, you'll get a very handy readout showing you exactly where all your supplies are going.

The following things consume supplies:

  • Each ship has a maintenance fee, requiring a certain number of supplies per month.
  • Ships use supplies to recover CR, which can be lost in combat, or in hazards (coronas, hyperspace storms, pulsar beams, and black holes).
  • Ships additionally use supplies to repair armor & hull damage, which can be lost in combat or hyperspace storms.
  • You will lose additional supplies at a very rapid rate if you are over-capacity for cargo, crew, or fuel.
Lets look at each of these in more detail.


Fleet Maintenance

Each ship uses some supplies every month. A good sized early game fleet might run about 1 supply per day, or 30 supplies per month; you could maintain this fleet for more than 3 months with 100 supplies, which would fit inside most frigate-sized freighters, and run you about 10,000 credits... That is, if you never had to recover CR or repair damage. This maintenance fee is a actually not very high; most fleets will pay more for crew/officer wages.

There are exceptions of course. If you use ships with d-mods, watch out for the "increased maintenance" d-mod: It will make the affected ship cost twice as many supplies in upkeep. Not much if it's just on a single low-maintenance ship, but otherwise, it can add up quickly. Additionally, larger ships cost more supplies per month, as do many high-tech ships. You can check a ship's maintenance cost in its info panel -- Always consider this when deciding whether a ship is worth adding to your fleet.

Lastly, note that you can completely negate an individual ship's maintenance cost by mothballing it. However, this will cause it to no longer be usable in combat, and it won't contribute its cargo space, crew quarters, or fuel storage, while still consuming fuel in hyperspace. It also comes with the downside that you can no longer emergency burn (or transverse jump, if you've unlocked it). Still, it is incredibly useful in certain situations, such as towing large recovered ships back to storage early in the game.

A very common misconception, especially for new players, is overestimating this expense. Unless you avoid combat to an extreme (to the tune of less than one combat per month), the majority of supplies will go to CR recovery and ship repairs. For a player who engages in combat regularly, maintenance probably only accounts for something like 20% of your supply usage.

CR Recovery & Hull/Armor Repairs

All repairs and CR recovery cost supplies. Navigating the fleet through a hazard such as a star's corona will reduce every ship's CR, while deploying a ship in combat will reduce that individual ship's CR, possibly inflicting hull and/or armor damage as well. Getting hit by a hyperspace storm strike will immediately damage a random ship's CR and hull/armor, with the amount of damage scaling with the size of the fleet.

This means that you should carefully consider which ships are necessary to deploy, as each ship has a flat supply cost to deploy. Also, notice that keeping a ship in after it's Peak Performance Time has run out and its CR is degrading will cost additional supplies too. As you get better at combat, you will start being able to deploy less ships than the enemy and still win, resulting in a net gain in supplies. Conversely, being forced to retreat will mean no access to post-battle salvage, which leaves you with the entire supply bill for the ships you deployed, which can be a huge setback.

Luckily, as the fleet commander, you also have the very useful ability to toggle CR recovery and repairs on a per-ship basis. This has many implications; for instance, if you are attacked and need every ship to fight, but the deployment screen says that will cost 50 supplies and you know you only have about 30 supplies left, you can still safely do it: Even if you have to retreat and therefore don't win any supplies for your efforts, you can toggle off repairs until you get your hands on more supplies. Of course, it's a trade-off, as being at lowered combat readiness makes your fleet much more vulnerable if you're attacked several times in a row, so be careful.


How to avoid running out of supplies

Preparation is incredibly important in Starsector. Always keep more supplies than you think you will need, in case of major setbacks, like jumping into a system and finding yourself in a neutron star's beam, or getting into a fight and being forced to retreat. I like to use my daily ship maintenance cost as a yardstick, keeping at least 100 days of supplies with me when traveling around the core systems, and at least 150 days worth with me when going outside the core, and at least 200 days worth if going on a major expedition. Of course, each situation is different, so make your decision based on your circumstances -- if you haven't gotten the hang of combat yet, bring extra so you can deploy more ships during combat and more easily absorb losses. If you know for a fact you'll be scavenging lots of easy supplies from a survey ship, you might be able to get away with less.

Don't cheap out on supplies, it's far better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.


I've run out of supplies... Now what?

We've all been there. Whether due to greed, or inattentiveness, or unexpected circumstances, you're low on supplies, or worse, completely out. What should you do?

First, let's talk about what not to do: don't just carry on and hope everything will be ok, unless you're only a few days out from a friendly port. Why? Because when you run out of supplies, your CR starts to degrade, rapidly. It will take 5-10 times as many supplies to recover this CR than you would've spent on routine maintenance, which is already pretty bad. What's worse, when CR is totally out, accidents will start to occur, killing crew and damaging ships. If any ship is brought to zero hull, it will be lost completely. Luckily there are ways to avoid this.

Let's start with the best-case scenario: You aren't completely out of supplies, but they are being consumed very rapidly. In this case, the first step is to hover the mouse over the supplies indicator and press F1 to see the expanded tooltip, and check where they're all going. If they're going toward CR recovery and repairs, simply go to the fleet screen and press 'Q' to stop all repairs and CR recovery. If they're going toward overfilled cargo/crew/fuel, start jettisoning. Once you've verified the only thing you're paying supplies for is maintenance, plot a course for civilization (and avoid hyperspace storms if you can do so in a reasonable time frame). If you don't make it....

You are completely out of supplies, but only just ran out. If you can get back before any of your ships run out of CR, without getting hit by hyperspace storms, then go for it (you can check how fast ships are losing CR in the fleet screen to help you decide). Otherwise, you need to take drastic measures and scuttle a ship. Scuttling a ship will give you supplies, potentially a lot if it's a large ship in good condition (which is why you're doing it now, before the ship in question runs out of CR). It may sound crazy, but it's better to choose a replaceable ship now than to lose your favorite ship to RNG later. Turn off CR recovery on your fleet, and scuttle (and mothball) ships until you feel you can make it home. Keep in mind that since you no longer have supplies, there's no penalty for being over-capacity for crew or fuel, though excess cargo with still drop your fleet's max burn speed. If you absolutely don't want sacrifice any ships, there is another option, read on.

Lastly... You are completely out of both supplies and CR. At this point, there's only one option. Beeline to a friendly port, keeping your burn as high as possible by scuttling ships with low burn (you can check this by hovering over the burn level indicator and pressing F1) and staying under cargo-capacity. Aim for hyperspace storms to get back faster, and mothball ships that get too low in hull. You can actually mothball your entire fleet at this point. The downside is that you have to jettison EVERYTHING to be able to move. That's right, everything, rare items included, making this a very nuclear option. Whatever you do, keep in mind that at this point, you are extremely vulnerable to being attacked, so steer clear of anyone who might do so. If you do make it home, get ready for the absurdly high cost of fixing all your ships back up -- you might want to do it a few at a time, keeping the rest in storage, if you're strapped for cash.

Hope this guide helped! If you have any comments, questions, or corrections, just post a reply!

Happy starfaring!  ;D

EDIT: Some small improvements, including Crimson Sky Guardian's and some redditors' suggestions. Thanks!
« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 03:47:03 PM by DaviBones »
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Yunru

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 06:28:26 AM »

Should note that, at worst, you can mothball your entire fleet.
Then all you have to worry about is running out of fuel, getting attacked, or storm damage.

SapphireSage

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2019, 05:13:39 PM »

This is a very nice guide! Great job!

Minor correction for the third paragraph of the 'Fleet Maintenance' section though. You can still Transverse jump into a system, which is great for avoiding patrols in-system. Also, if you have Safety Procedures 3, you can use E-burn with only fuel cost. Safety procedures 3 also allows you to use E-Burn with mothballed and 0 CR ships.
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bobucles

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 06:18:55 PM »

When your supplies are low, the first option is to suspend repairs. It's more expensive to repair a ship and run out of supplies than it is to stay at status quo. Don't run out of supplies to pay the daily tax!

Mothballed ships do offer several advantages over functional ships. They don't decay, they don't suffer explosive accidents(usually) and they don't have any crew requirements. The downside is that mothballing instantly nukes your CR, which you may as well keep around for as long as possible. Mothball any ship that reaches low CR, and emergency mothball any ships that run low on health. If you keep at least a fuel tanker active you can still try moving and spending the fuel, although going over limit on cargo/crew/fuel will kill your speed. You don't need crew and you don't need cargo so those can get thrown out the airlock. By rationing the last remaining resources of your dead fleet, you can end up going very far!

Scuttiling a ship is absolutely the last resort. Scuttle ships only when you are at risk of going bankrupt and can no longer even think about paying the upkeep. In most other situations you have a good chance of bringing the ships home.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 06:21:50 PM by bobucles »
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worldwidewizard

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2019, 09:07:39 PM »

I think a good rule of thumb is to keep at least 300-400 supplies on-hand for traveling (less for small fleets obv), and more if you intend to travel far. If you're going to a place where you know you'll be in for a fight, it's best to really load up, maybe like 3/4 of your cargo capacity for supplies. You never know when you'll get bum-rushed by pirate armadas left and right and have to chug through 150 supplies/day to fix all your busted ships real quick.
I can't tell you how many times I miscalculated how badly I would get corked by vengeance armadas and then have to ditch all my lovely ships to hobble back to a station because I just couldn't field them.
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Scaremeister

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2019, 01:04:41 AM »

You may want to include a bit about supply cost for surveying planets/survey module cost reductions etc.
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bobucles

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Re: Supplies (and CR) for dummies: A guide for new players
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2019, 05:51:47 AM »

I'm okay with keeping the supply guide simple. Knowing how many supplies to carry involves teaching the player about the various goals they can pursue in game:
- Exploration missions require supplies and heavy machines for surveys and long distance travel
- Combat requires heaps of supplies
- Trade requires very little in the core worlds, as long as you stay out of trouble