Guide to Building a Fleet
The first thing to know about fleets is the importance of your Fleet Commander knowledge. How much you have defines how large your fleet can be. Each ship size has a cost for including it, and the total cost of your fleet may not go over your Fleet Commander. Here are the size costs:
- Shuttle: 2
- Yacht: 3
- Corvette: 5
- Frigate: 10
- Cruiser: 20
- Dreadnought: 40
You earn Fleet Commander points by killing ships whose level is above yours, while you have a fleet. Mercenaries count as having a fleet, but do not require Fleet Commander to hire - they are an easy way to get started. The points and kills are not a 1-1 ratio; Think of it rather as a separate level bar, that only gains experience from these kills. At first you will earn points quickly, but then it will slow down and you will need more and more kills to advance it.
Like all knowledge your Fleet Commander is capped at your level, maxing out at 50. However you can earn bonus points. Bonus points do not count towards the cap, and can go over it, but grant you the full bonuses as if they were a normal point. There are 3 ways to get bonus points: Perks, skills, and ship bonuses.
There are currently 2 perks that can grant you bonus Fleet Commander:
The Command experience perk grants 2 bonus Fleet Commander points - enough to start your fleet with a shuttle, and skip mercs entirely.
The White Collar background perk grants 3 bonus Fleet Commander points - enough for an extra yacht, and to skip requiring mercs.
The Syndicate ship's faction bonus includes 2 bonus Fleet Commander points. This means that simply flying a Syndicate ship gives enough points to add a shuttle to your fleet.
Finally there is the Leadership skill. This skill grants bonus Fleet Commander points, equal to your base Fleet Commander. It is the most effective way to increase your fleet size, once you have started - it alone allows you to get to 100 points, enough to have 2 dreadnoughts in your fleet.
Ships in your fleet are, of course, AI controlled. This means a few things to keep in mind:
- They can be very stupid.
- They don't get your skills or perks.
- Energy control is always set at 100% for everything.
- Not everything is useful to them.
Your ship's AI is dependent on the skills of the captain. How well he flies depends on his Pilot skill, and his accuracy is based on his Gunner accuracy. Note that his accuracy does not affect gunner-controlled turrets - those are still based on the gunner. Getting a good pilot/gunner to fly it is one of the most important, and difficult, challenges in adding a ship to your fleet.
They do not get the bonuses from your skills and perks. Any extra shield, damage, speed - nothing like that. There is one, slight, kind-of exception: Inventory. Unlike your ship, AIs don't unequip things when it goes over the max - so bonuses to cargo, equip and weapon space effect them.
Often you find yourself tweaking the energy control bars, changing what % they are at. AI's don't do this - they always leave it at 100%. This can be quite a change in stats if you aren't expecting it, and means that when prepping a ship for your fleet members, it's a good idea to set the energy to 100% yourself so you will have a better idea of the stats they'll be dealing with.
Not all equipment is meaningful to the AIs. You've probably noticed that they never spawn with integrated health recovery equipment - neither will they use it or cloaking if you give it to them. Additionally they don't need scanners or warp drives, as they don't need to see like you do, and they get to teleport to you whenever you warp.
Tips and Tricks
Here's just a few helpful little tips and tricks I've come across. Feel free to tell me if you have found any others.
- Larger AI ships fly poorly without inertial stabilizers - they don't know how to use them properly. Large ships also have some troubles with docking, but there isn't much you can do about that at the moment.
- Smaller AI ships, especially with good pilots, benefit greatly from lateral thrusters - when the pilot is skilled enough they know how to strafe and dodge.
- If they are having trouble drawing fire, you can give them missiles - they will buy ammo as they need it, from your money. Using AIs entirely as missile-boats is a very plausible strategy when you prefer to be the tank, or if they just aren't good enough to survive direct combat.
And lastly, there is one bug/feature that you may not be aware of with your fleet. Being AI controlled, they treat equipment like other AIs - mostly, they don't need it. While engines and gyros are needed, AIs get built-in speed boosters - they can boost even if you didn't give them any. Additionally, they only use energy for energy weapons - shields, engines, and such-like operate at 100% efficiency ignoring energy. So if you use ammo weapons you can get a shielded, fully-operational fleet ship with no generators. Be aware this is considered to be a bug, and if you choose to use it, your fleet will be crippled when it is fixed.