Star Traders: Frontiers Spice-All

I decided to load this up this morning to poke around while drinking my coffee. How did I lose 9 hours? I haven't lost track of time while playing a game in a very long time. GOTY contender.

Aaron D. wrote:

Man Trese Bros. run their operation like a possessed demon.

God, I'd kill to have like 10% of their passion.

I'd kill to have their development environment. They are doing it right.

I picked this up over the long weekend and agree that it very much has the just on more turn vibe that suddenly eats three hours.

I like that it is deceptively simple, as in the core mechanics are easy enough to grasp while getting a handle on the nuances that will allow you to excel are harder to grasp. It allows for plenty of options and seemingly avoids there being an optimal path for character progression.

And it's still getting major updates, for free.

I've been playing and enjoying this. I think I may start a new game and pay less attention to the starting plotline; it's gotten me some decent money but there's also a run of systems in the middle of things where the locals all absolutely hate me and I can't even refuel. Maybe if I try again I can manage that a little better so I can have better trading opportunities. OTOH it does seem like missions pay much better than trading for a good long while. I'm a smuggler but have had terrible trouble finding black markets, so that may be my problem too.

I'd also like it if enemy ships that I just completely overmatch would run or surrender or something so I don't have to work the combat system just to blow some hapless pirate into dust bunnies.

New here, learned of the game and got enticed by all the discussion of it on the iOS Games catch-all. I'm on my first captain, level 11 Zenrin explorer, easy mode, 'executed' once, but now learning the systems and making a come-back.

I'm ambivalent about playing the game blind and beating my head against things by learning myself versus reading all the damned guides and things and essentially piloting my way through someone else's game. (For the same reason I bought, haven't yet played, and will not read any guides or strategies for Sunless Sea.)

iOS interface needs a bit of work. For instance, on the map tapping once executes movement while to get info you must long press. When you look at cards to explore, salvage, etc., the pullout window for different screens obscures the leftmost card's text.

I also bought it after reading about it n in the IOS thread - and then reading the rather glowing RPS review. I'm just starting but already dismayed that it doesn't seem to sync saves via iCloud? It's just about workable on the 8+ but would really shine on an iPad.

It also doesn't sync on my iCloud. This thread on Steam is about the mobile port and the devs are incredibly attentive to the community, so talking about that there and/or on the discord should get it under consideration to add to their to-do list:

I bought it this week also because of the talk in the iOS thread, but it looked too fiddly for mobile, so I bought on the PC. It's terrific.

I was also surprised to see they don't support Steam Cloud saves on PC. However, you can copy your save files out to a dropbox or other service and then copy them in on a second computer. Slightly annoying but works perfectly, even across platforms. I've been playing the same game on both PC desktop and Mac laptop.

I just double dipped and bought the PC version I won't play for probably years. It's to support the devs, be able to fully interact with the Steam community, and because the current sale is the lowest price the game has had on Steam.

Yeah, the devs are incredibly active the Steam forum.

It's a cool scene.

It's how they made their name in the mobile space. They're the People's Dev. Or something like that.

I debated over the iOS or Steam version and finally went with the iOS.

The game is amazing and am certainly considering a double dip to support these good guys.

They have to be using Agile methods. No other way they could keep the pace and also be responsive. I'm amazed at their ability to churn out updates on or near to schedule, for *years*, and not destroy their dev team...

My first captain reached level 14 before running into not one, but two Xeno ships in the same quadrant. First one annihilated me in ship combat, second one I let board my ship and they executed my captain. I was playing on one of the easier settings so no harm done. It just doesn't sit right me, surviving such catastrophic events.

So I started another captain, this time on hard and permadeath. Early days still, but I wonder how I could've avoided the Xeno ship, I couldn't escape it during combat and board or fight were the only options on the second ship, both leading to captain dying.

The ship combat could really use some work, it just takes too long and you have to drag it out even though the result is clear from the get go. I try to avoid it any way I can. Apparently they are working on auto-resolve which would go a long way.

On the steam thread the devs said that iCloud sync is out of the question but that they are looking into alternative solutions. I wouldn't think that using iCloud incurs any costs to the developer? I wonder what's the problem.

Love the game though, it's pretty amazing.

That probably means they'll use something like Dropbox, which unlike iCloud will mean not just cross-device saves but also cross-platform.

I'm having a great time with this, though I am curious to start a second game and see how much of what I'm doing is pre-determined and how much is actually self-determined.

I also don't understand crew combat at all (though my ship is apparently nigh-unhittable ).

Crew combat is the usual "snipers and healers in back, tanks in front, dps in the middle" format. Let the computer choose your team, if you don't want to get involved managing them, then note those names and keep building them up. Maybe build up an alternate or two in case of injury as well. Oh, and special skills are timed, so figure out which ones to use up front and which to hold in reserve. It's not hard, just fun.

Suvanto wrote:

My first captain reached level 14 before running into not one, but two Xeno ships in the same quadrant. First one annihilated me in ship combat, second one I let board my ship and they executed my captain. I was playing on one of the easier settings so no harm done. It just doesn't sit right me, surviving such catastrophic events.

So I started another captain, this time on hard and permadeath. Early days still, but I wonder how I could've avoided the Xeno ship, I couldn't escape it during combat and board or fight were the only options on the second ship, both leading to captain dying.

The ship combat could really use some work, it just takes too long and you have to drag it out even though the result is clear from the get go. I try to avoid it any way I can. Apparently they are working on auto-resolve which would go a long way.

On the steam thread the devs said that iCloud sync is out of the question but that they are looking into alternative solutions. I wouldn't think that using iCloud incurs any costs to the developer? I wonder what's the problem.

Love the game though, it's pretty amazing.

Regarding xeno ships watch your rumors for quadrants that have the xeno presence (or somesuch) to avoid them if you can.

Also, one strategy is to rig your initial ship for escaping. There are guides that walk through this, but the short of it is start with a high speed ship, and swap out components (mostly weapons since your plan is to not fight) to increase your navigation dice pool for the ship.

Garrcia wrote:

Regarding xeno ships watch your rumors for quadrants that have the xeno presence (or somesuch) to avoid them if you can.

That's good advice, in the first game I really paid no attention to the constant stream of rumours and events - I guess that they become more relevant in the later stages or harder difficulties.

It's early days yet for my new captain but I'm already noticing that it's much harder to keep the crew happy, it seems on every stop I need recruits even though I don't think I've seen any notification of desertion or crew getting killed.

Oh sure, NOW this thread shows up in my searches after I bump the other one. I need to remember to favourite threads so this doesn't happen.

There’s another one?

Keithustus wrote:

There’s another one?

He means the Space Sims/Strategy Games Catch-All.

Actually it was Robear's non-Spice All thread of the same name.

Might as well just repost here and continue in the proper thread.

Robear wrote:

As to point 3, maybe I misunderstood what you said, but you actually can pick the four combatants from the list of your soldiers, officers and captain.

What I was referring to is the post-boarding action followup debuffs you can impose on the enemy ship. The default two are to incite panic and sabotage one piece of equipment. All of the other debuffs are talent based and some of them are from classes without combat skills, those crew can't join a boarding party unless they are officers. However if you perform a range 1 boarding action it works like your entire ship is docked onto the enemy ship and you can use any debuff talent from your entire crew instead of just the 4 in combat.

Robear wrote:

Do you folks level jobs equally, or take one to a certain level and then work on the next? I’m trying the first strategy, but with 3 jobs for my captain, I worry that he’ll slowly drop behind his opponents, somehow.

General consensus as far as I can tell is powerlevel your classes in order of talent importance. So if you want one specific gamechanging talent at level 11 you do that first, then you get the level 8 talent on another class and so on. Everything in the game besides your starting class and stats is quite flexible so captain/crew talent builds and the order you choose talents are more or less the only way people differentiate "builds".

tboon wrote:

It is not an efficient way to play, I don't think, but I don't care all that much, I am here for stories of my space captain and his sometimes-lovable crew.

Yeah I'm definitely in favour of themed runs, progress in this game is additive and you can unlock stuff for future runs that gives you more tools to create a story for your captain.

Now that I actually understand how the skill system works I'm going to restart and ignore all of the default starting builds. My plan is to make a merchant prince sort of character with high stats who then multiclasses as Diplomat and Smuggler down the road. The intention is to be buddies with all factions and make as much money as I can by trading, then use that to purchase whatever else I need. Why get your hands dirty when you can hire the best to do it for you? Uncivilized things such as space combat are to be avoided, and when that is not possible I will stylishly hammer enemies to pieces with top of the line gold-trimmed torpedo spam. Ground combat and the occasional honour duel will be delegated to my well paid professionals while I sip wine in my captain's chair and twirl my moustache.

That's the plan anyway, will see how it turns out soon.

Another idea for a themed build I want to try later is an 40k Ordo Xenos sort of Inquisitor character who actively seeks out and destroys aliens wherever they can be found, while plundering their stuff for fun and profit on the side. That would mean starting off as a Xeno Hunter, and this time around I want to use my captain as a main combatant. Since xeno hunters use rifles in combat I'm thinking of multiclassing him as a sniper to make him a big game hunter with an elephant rifle. Not sure what I would use for my third class but the rest of the crew will be entirely focused on combat of both types. I've only met a xeno ship once so far and it melted my face. I haven't met any xenos on the ground yet but I'm pretty sure they could melt my face too.

Wow, it's like you just showed me a giant room in my own home that I've never seen before.

Okay after puttering around a lot, several abortive starts and a LOT of wiki reading I think I now have a decent grasp on crew management. Every character has attributes, skills, a job, talents and traits. At first it seems overwhelmingly complicated that you have to manage these things for 30 different people, but only your captain and officers use the full set.

1. Attributes are the basic stats that more or less follow the DnD setup and range from 8-30. Strength and Charisma are the same. Dexterity becomes Quickness while Constitution becomes Fortitude. Wisdom is unchanged and indicates perception and problem solving. Intelligence has been replaced by Resilience which indicates "mental and emotional toughness". There is no attribute for "pure" intellect and logical thinking.

How important attributes are depends on the rank and job of each crew. The most important is for your Captain since you are in command and the public face of your ship, there are a lot of things that only you can do and those skill checks will be opposed by your personal stats. Stats do not grow and change over time so giving your captain high stats at the start of the game will pay off in the long run even if it means starting in a smaller ship. For everyone else it depends on job and since crew are expendable/replaceable you don't need to worry about minmaxing them.

Fortitude determines HP and is important for everyone because hits taken in ship combat can hurt anyone on the crew even if they don't participate in ground battles. For the same reason everyone needs Resilience because it determines maximum morale and will saves against death.

Strength and Quickness only apply in combat, having both helps but combat characters will typically focus on one or the other. Swordsmen and Soldiers need high strength to use swords and rifles. Snipers and pistol-based classes need high Quickness instead. Both of these stats are essentially useless to non-combat characters because the only time they show up in combat is when you get boarded by an enemy ship and all of your soldiers are already dead or incapacitated.

Wisdom and Charisma are only used for personal skill checks, soldiers don't need them at all and support crew/officers only need them if their specific talents require it.

2. Each character also has skills that determine what jobs they are good at. There is a wide array of skills and it sounds really complicated until you realize that crew get skills FROM jobs as they level up. Since levels in a job provide the skills needed to use it you don't have to micromanage or minmax anything in this regard, especially for enlisted crew who only have one job. Things are slightly more complicated for the captain who can purchase an increase in base skill rating at character creation (at the cost of something else).

The captain and officers can have up to three jobs and have a higher job rank level cap compared to enlisted crew. The skill bonus you get from jobs has diminishing returns so a multi-classed character will always be more powerful. If you pick three classes with the same primary skill like Negotiation and get 10 ranks in each you will have betters skills than a rank 30 Merchant with the single class.

The skills of the entire crew are pooled together in order to run a ship, the skills of your captain and officers are pooled for mission and event based skill checks, only your captain's skills are used for personal interactions.

3. Talents are perks crew get as they level up. Enlisted can have up to 8 talents at max level, while officers can have 16. Talents are spread among several categories and only affect one aspect of gameplay such as space combat or exploration. Most talents are "flat rate" and the bonus they give is static, but others scale their effects off of the crewman's skills and stats. hence it is important to have the right talents on your skilled officers because they have a higher skill cap.

Talents all have different cooldowns measured in 3-18 weeks. 3 weeks is fairly short in game time, depending on the speed of your ship it could take much longer just to fly from one planet to another. For more powerful talents with long cooldowns or common talents you want to use multiple times in a short period you will need to take multiple copies. Enlisted crew provide the bulk of your talent options and work best with talents that don't scale to skill or attributes.

4. Traits are a random bonus or penalty applied to each character. At the start of the game they can be hidden but as you progress you will reveal them over time at a rate based on your captain's charisma. There are also talents that can reveal hidden traits over time as well as when you hire a new crewman.

Having a negative trait is not necessarily a dealbreaker because you can pay doctors to remove negative traits and traits may change or "mutate" over time depending on the experience of the crewman in question. Nearly getting killed might make them paranoid going forward for instance.


So to sum things up this game appears to be quite overwhelming at first with a bewildering array of options for dozens of crewmen. Once you understand the mechanics that drive everything you can quickly pare things down to what actually matters.

Things to keep in mind:

1. Your captain. The class/skills/jobs of your captain is the only thing you can't customize down the road, so have a plan in mind when you start and built you character around it. The starting class you pick grants you a unique bonus but you don't have to max out that class, you can for instance make a level 1 diplomat and then level merchant to 30 instead.
2. Your officers. Your officers can always be replaced later but the initial set tends to have higher stats and you will likely be using them for a while, if not the entire game. The same thing applies here, build your officers around the captain to supply the skills and talents that he needs to do his primary job.
3. Multiclassing your command staff is fine, using three jobs of the same type to minmax the skill of a character is just as viable as taking three completely different jobs. The one exception to this is ground combat on higher difficulties with permadeath, any combat characters should be fully specialized for that role. (this is especially true if your captain is a combat character) Some non-combat classes like Commander have skills and buffs that can only be used in combat if the character is an officer.
4. As you upgrade to bigger ships you will gain more space for officers up to a maximum of 7 (including the captain). To fill an officer slot you can hire an officer from a contact or promote an enlisted, so it's worth keeping an eye out for crew with high stats in the right categories and tag them for future promotion. If you know what three jobs you want to give a future officer you can promote an enlisted with any of the three which resets their job level to 1 and allows you to add two more careers.
5. Crew under level 10 are effectively disposable in this game, later on you gain access to contacts to hire crew at a base level of 8 instead of 1. You can also stack faction bonuses on top of this, like having a high military rank to boost the level of soldier recruits up to 10 or even higher. There are talents that improve the stats of recruits you hire but you won't have them at the start of the game. So if your ship needs more gunnery skill just hire some more gunners at the nearest spice hall and worry about hiring the BEST gunner later on when you have the money and contacts to do so.

Okay I need to make a small correction. Crew skills are always added together for skill checks for everyone including both officers and enlisted (with officers including the captain). So more is always better. However there is also a distinction between skills and skill bonuses. Skills are gained from job ranks, if you are a level 10 diplomat you will have 10 negotiate and 5 intimidate. Skill bonuses on the other hand are unique to each character and range from +0-10. You can add skill bonuses to your captain at character creation, for everyone else skill bonuses are random and might be affected by traits. The thing I missed is that skill bonuses only apply for officers. If an enlisted crew has a skill bonus of +5 negotiate he can't use that because he is not in a command position, so when you look at his crew bio his skill bonuses will be listed in parentheses because it's the potential bonus he would have IF he was an officer. Are you confused yet because I certainly was.

It continues to amaze me how often they patch this game. I made a suggestion that they should make it easier to see if a ship already has enough talents of a specific type like auto skill saves. The talent screen for each character will tell you if any other characters of that class have the same exact talent, but not if a character with a different class has a talent that works the same way. The developer responded within hours and said that he already had something planned. That turned out to be a talent manifest screen that lets you see the talents of your entire crew in aggregate so you can see what you have too much of and what is currently missing.

From some of the dev comments I've seen, it's clear they are using a Continuous Development methodology (Scrum or something else). They are unbelievably productive as well as responsive. I am in awe of what I've seen of their methods.

Okay time for a little post mortem on my merchant run. I restarted the run a couple times because I would focus on learning a couple things at a time while ignoring everything else. For instance this is how I managed to get to level 18 without ever upgrading my cabin to add a 5th officer, oops.

Some things I learned along the way:

- The Faen storyline is a bad idea for a pacifist run. Merchants thrive on being friends with everyone but getting involved in cutthroat politics makes that rather difficult. Also Prince Faen (the initial contact everyone gets) tends to have really bad influence because of all his enemies trying to bring him down, without influence he is totally useless because he can't get you military ranks and trade permits. The initial run of quests is good for some quick credits but I jump ship once the actual war starts to pursue my own goals.

Now the second major story beat is the Arbiter trying to form a new galactic coalition, and since my character is built as a negotiator without peer that actually sounds right up my alley.

- I upgraded my ship way too early. I went from a 5000 ton Galtek Freighter directly to an 8000 ton Aegis freighter, which is the biggest freighter in the game second only to the generic 9000 ton "titan" type of ship. I have a bunch of discount talents on my engineer including one that reduces the cost of buying a new ship. That plus the discount I had from contacts on that planet made the price of an Aegis just 600k instead of the original 1 million. This was a mistake in hindsight, but it taught me a lot about how ships work.

The biggest lesson was that ships are INSANELY expensive to run. Owning a vehicle in some games is a lot like owning a house which needs new parts and regular maintenance. Owning a ship in Star Traders is like buying a city block. Just upgrading a single component to max quality can cost you more than you paid for the ship and everything in it! You are not allowed to leave slots empty either, so by switching to a bigger ship I got one that was slower, more expensive to run and no more capable at trading than my previous ship. The smart thing to do is retrospect was to only upgrade to a new ship when I had about as much cash as 4-5 times the base cost. When you go to buy that city block you must have enough money left over to built a house on every lot or it will not function properly.

Purchased ships will go into drydock and you can swap back and forth at will, so it's entirely possible and almost necessary to maintain different ships for different jobs. When upgrading a ship in drydock it will simply queue up your upgrades instead of advancing time (which can take months of work), you can then fly off in your other ship make money while you wait for the work to complete. The only thing that stops from wearing your ship like a second skin is the hard cap on crew numbers inherent to smaller ships. You can jump from a small ship to a large one, but not back again unless you fire any crew above the maximum. Ships of 2400 tons are the smallest you can get with crews of 24, ships of 3400-6000 tons support crews of 30 and 7000-9000 support 36 and 42. Typically only very specialized players like bounty hunters will be using 2400 ton ships, most players will stick to 3400-6000 ton ships until they are ready to graduate to an endgame capital ship and not look back.

Bigger ships are not necessarily better. What matters the most is the slots on the ship, higher end expensive ships have more slots for the same tonnage. Every slot on a ship must be filled by something, but the cheapest component like a level 1 cargo bay still adds mass. To counter this on ships with many slots there are components that do nothing but grant the ship negative mass. It's pretty much impossible to fill all of the slots on your ship without using at least one mass reducer unless you have one of the cheap beginner ships. So for instance if you buy a better ship with 7 more medium slots compared to your old one you can install three high grade mass reducers which frees up 1200 tons of mass above the base cap and allows you to mount 4 additional items at 300 tons each. This gives your ship 4 more usable slots compared to the cheaper ship of the same tonnage, but at a very high price. Until you can afford to pay that price you might as well stick with the cheaper ship because it will have similar performance.

Core ship components increase in size with ship mass, the bigger components occupy bigger slots. So a ship simply having more slots doesn't necessarily mean you can use them all. A Galtak Freighter is a cheap but reliable cargo hauler at 5000 tons (one of the starter ships.) The Galtak has 4 large slots, one of which is taken up by it's engine. The Aegis Freighter is the best freighter in the game with 7 large slots, but three of those are occupied by the engine, bridge and hyperdrive. So the Aegis "only" has 1 extra usable large slot despite being 3000 tons heavier than the Galtak. Of course all of those extra medium and small slots on the Aegis can hold cargo too, but you can see how the slot dynamics change as ships get heavier.

Every ship has an engine and ship engines are rated by tonnage, so all ships of a certain tonnage also share the same speed profile. Engines come in different types depending on what you want to specialized in. The default balanced engine works just fine, but traveller engines have higher top speeds at the cost of fuel efficiency. Engines meant for combat can have a lower speed in return for higher agility (which helps in dogfighting), and combat focused engines give you more reactor points to fire weapons and do other things at the cost of reliability. Generally speaking you will pick the one that fits your mission profile and stick with it as engines of all types are very expensive. When I bought my Aegis I found myself having to do missions to make ends meet, and large ships are terrible for missions because of their lower speeds. My old Galtak could comfortably do a speed of 19 in it's stock configuration, but on the Aegis I was forced to install the faster traveller engine. This boosted me up to a speed of 15 but also came with an eye watering fuel consumption of 5 per AU that forced me to install two large fuel tanks at the cost of cargo space if I wanted to jump more than 1 system at a time without having to land and refuel.

- Xenos are horribly deadly. I've had a few victorious encounters with them that made me complacent, but only the smaller ships that I outgunned. Recently I got into a fight with one of equal tonnage and I won the fight just barely with 124 ship health remaining. He was pounding my ship to scrap for 500 damage a turn but I managed to kill his crew fast enough to render his weapons ineffective before he got that last shot off. At least my reward was 64 xenos artifacts, which is an insane haul because the only other way to get them is exploration and you might only find 4 at a time.

- My initial plan was to test how effective per-officer minmaxing was by maximizing one skill on an officer and then give them talents from 3 classes that base their effect off of that one skill. For instance Merchants have talents that work off of X+Negotiate % effect so my Captain is a Merchant/Diplomat/Smugger. Because skill gain has diminishing returns a character with 11 levels in 3 classes will have a higher primary skill than a level 33 crew of one class, usually something like 27 vs 22. I also made a E-Tech/Spy, a Pilot/Navigator and so on in an attempt to minmax Electronics, Navigation and other crew skills.

There are a couple problems with this plan however. First off it takes a very long time to level everyone. The level cap is 40 but things slow down dramatically at 20+. So realistically speaking you should plan your build around level 20 crew, achieving that ideal 11+11+11 ranks in three different jobs will take you decades of in-game time. Officers can get up to 16 talents at once, but at level 20 they will only have half of that. A level 20 regular crewmen has 5 talents, so if you put two regular crew together they will offer more utility than a single officer. The only person you should bother minmaxing this way is your captain because they are the only permanent member of the crew who might actually make it to level 40 someday.

Secondly the additional effect of a few % is worth less than simply having more copies of the same talent. The game appears to be smart enough to pick the person with the highest skill when a talent activates, but the difference between a minmaxed character and a regular one is slight and you often need to activate these talents 2-3 times in a row. So while it IS worth having one "ace" character that's good at something specific (the captain), most of your problems will be solved by just throwing more crew it.

So what are officers actually good it? Combat. The simple fact that they can have talents from different classes or more than 8 talents on one class makes them vastly superior to enlisted crew. Some non-combat classes like Doctor and Commander have abilities that can only be used by officers. Unlike in space battles you can't safely run from a ground fight so having an elite combat crew is essential even for pacifist runs, especially those fights against xeno.

- Again crew are DISPOSABLE, that includes your officers. The only thing that you can't change at will is your captain and one of the main pitfalls for new players is sticking to their starting officers even if they're not especially good. It is perfectly viable to keep some nameless redshirt crew around just for proc talents that don't scale to stats and when you need to fit into a smaller ship or make room for someone more useful you can just fire them. Contacts allow you to hire crew up to level 10 and offer crew types that don't appear in regular hiring hauls, cultivating these sources is what allows you to swap crew in and out as needed. Operating with a smaller crew also increases experience gain per person.

There are also questlines that involve adding an NPC to your crew, some of whom count as officers. So it's not a bad idea to keep a slot open or designate one officer/crewman as surplus.

- Orbital salvage is horribly deadly. In terms of risk the card games go something like Patrol-Blockading-Spying-Exploration-Salvage with salvage being vastly worse than the others. For instance one of the trap cards for salvage is a double xeno fight where you must kill two sets in a row. Other trap cards are things like "one of your contacts instantly dies" or "lose 40 reputation with the local faction". It's still worth doing salvage ops because there are unique rewards you can't find anywhere else, but you should always go into it armed to the teeth with tools and weapons.

- If you plan to run missions always have a few talent cards for each minigame, especially patrol/blockade/spy. Most missions types like "merchant" activities don't require you to do these things, but eventually you will get one that requires you to spy in orbit for a while, and if all you have is the base 20% chance of picking the right card out of a line of 5 it may take you dozens of attempts. One of the exploration classes has a talent that adds more mission success cards to the board, which doubles your chance to succeed each round. This is great because exploration is much more dangerous and not something you want to do for long unless your entire crew is built around it.

- At long ranges ship combat calculates your "dodge" rating using engine speed and navigation skill. At closer ranges of 3-1 it scales off of your engine agility and pilot skill. It's a good idea to specialize your ship for one or the other. Brawling ships and those that favour boarding assaults will want to stay close while carriers and "battleships" will typically want to stay further out. My pacifist merchant didn't have any weapons, so when combat threatened I either ran away or when a mission forced me to fight I rushed into boarding range as quickly as possible and attacked the crew until they surrendered (hopefully before the hull failed).

- This blew my mind a little but it turns out that hangar bays come in medium sizes as well as large, so any ship with medium slots can launch fighter support. Fighters are really powerful though not necessarily for direct damage to the enemy ship because of the time spent in flight, a weapon battery of equal tonnage may not do as much damage but can be fired each turn instead of only hitting once every 4 turns. Even the weakest low tech interceptor (which is all you have access to at the start of the game) can shoot down down one enemy torpedo or missile per turn. So a ship with a 3-4 man squadron flying defensive will make your ship practically immune to enemy fire at range 5-4. Currently the AI is not quite good enough to handle fighter craft but having the right talents to counter them and fighter craft of your own will be much more important in the future.

Your other two choices are wing bombers and wing commandos. Wing bombers do more direct hull damage than interceptors (who are armed with rockets) and they can apply all sorts of nasty debuffs in the process. Wing commandos allow you to board the enemy ship from a distance but you can only use the post-battle traits of anyone on the shuttle and not the whole ship, so it's like the other ranged boarding talents but it works from ranges higher than 3. If you launch a squadron of 5 boarding shuttles and they all hit you could potentially kill half or more of the enemy crew on the second turn depending on the size of the target.

Landing bays do have some restrictions. There is a hard cap on the number of craft you can support depending on the type of ship. Larger "titans" and carriers are the only ships that can support 5. Large slot hangar bays can store and launch one craft at a time. Medium slot hangars are divided into storage bays and launch bays (but weight half as much). So you can replicate the effect of a large hangar with two medium slots. You can also have one large hangar and use medium slots to store additional craft if you only plan to launch one at a time. Ideally speaking a dedicated carrier would want to have as many launch bays as craft because some have talent bonuses that activate on launch that affect both themselves and anything else that launches while the buff is active. Alpha striking all of your craft at once is always more efficient from a buff stack and cooldown perspective, it's also much more effective at piercing enemy defences since damage is spread over 5 craft.


I'm going to try again utilizing everything I have learned so far. Thankfully the game makes this easy as you can simply keep a save from early on in the game and revert to it whenever you want without having to generate a new galaxy map or captain.

Also special shout out to my swordmaster. I haven't talked much about ground combat yet but one thing you'll learn early on is that initiative is everything. Crew initiative is measured as an average of Quickness and Wisdom. So captains intended for combat should always take 30 points in both, otherwise your captain might die and end your run right there. Lysithea here has decent but average stats with low 20s across the board in the important stats, but she also has not one but THREE different initiative bonuses from her traits, this makes her terrifying in combat because the minimum (!) initiative she can roll is 18. With equipment and talent bonuses she can almost push 30 on a good roll, by comparison most combat crew will be lucky to roll a 20 and noncombat crew might be as low as 10.