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The Ship Designer (Hotkey F10) is where players may create, update and customize ship templates and defense stations. All designs created or edited apply only to new shipbuilding orders, not to ships already under construction or in the fleet. However, a fleet can be ordered to upgrade to the nearest spaceport in order to update its entire design. When it does so, each ship will upgrade to the latest existing design for its hull size that has a name identical to its current design name (e.g., a Victory class cruiser will upgrade to the most recent "Victory" cruiser design). If there is no such identically-named design, it will upgrade to the most recent design for its hull size, whatever the name.
Many naval strategies advise that their empires deploy several types of warships to fill different tactical roles and face different opponents, and it is convenient for these to have different class names. Ships can be converted to and from such specialized designs and have different names by first making sure there is no design with an identical name and then saving the design the ship should upgrade to under the desired new class name, bumping it at the top of the ship design list for its size.
Clicking the Auto-Generate box on the lower left of the menu orders computer designers to continually update ship designs based on the latest technology research. Note that they do not take account of the enemies that the fleet is facing or may face, so it might choose components that an opponent can counter instead of a less up-to-date component that has proven successful. For example, the computer might auto-generate a design with an advanced laser that is statistically superior although the current enemy has heavily invested in shield technology that will heavily impair laser weapons but is vulnerable to attacks with the existing missile weapons.
Direct involvement in ship design is optional. Since 1.3, an alert icon will appear if a ship design is obsolete, and a toggle enables automatic upgrading of components for player convenience. Stellaris can be played without touching this menu very often, but it is always advisable to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential enemies.
- 1 Construction cost & Power balance
- 2 Ship types
- 3 Subsystems
- 4 Weapon details
- 5 Utility Details
- 6 Design Ramifications
- 7 References
Construction cost & Power balance
Every Ship design has an associated mineral cost for construction. The amount required is determined by the ship size and every added component. More advanced components cost more minerals. Slots can be left unused if not needed.
In addition, ship designs also require power to support the various components. A design with a negative power balance can not be approved.
A ship with an over-positive power balance enjoys improved performance, proportionate to power required. This gives a percentile buff to Evasion, Combat Speed and Weapon Damage and can be seen on the respective tooltips in the designer. The formula is complicated and leads to diminishing returns towards a 10% bonus. A ship needing 10 power but having 20 would get +5% bonus. A ship with 10/70 Power has only +8%. And a ship with 10/100 has 9%.
Every ship also has a maintenance cost, in an amount of energy and minerals.
A ship's maintenance cost in minerals is 0.3% of its total minerals construction cost, while its maintenance cost in energy is 0.4% of its total minerals construction cost.
Note that both values depend solely on the construction cost of the ship, not on its energy systems.
The ship type determines the ship's base statistics. Different sections do not affect a ship's stats.
|Ship type||Hull points||Armor||Evasion||speed||Section||Base cost|
|Defense platform||5000||15 (15%)||-||0||2||80-100|
|Defense station||10000||30 (21%)||-||0||4||160-200|
Each ship is made up of sections. Corvettes, construction ships, and colony ships have a single section, destroyers and defense platforms have two sections, cruisers and battleships three sections and defense stations and fortresses have four. Each section has space for a variety of modules, including space for weapons, power generators and defenses. There is a range of section designs to choose from, and the display shows which sections support which types and sizes of modules.
Science, construction, colony and transport ships cannot be outfitted with weapons.
All sections of the same type have the same utility slots, with only the weapon slots being different. Weapon slots trade at a fixed ratio, with the following being equivalent:
Corvette Hull Modules
|Name||Weapon Slots||Utility Slots|
|Interceptor||3||3 2 1|
|Torpedo Boat||1 1||3 2 1|
Destroyer Hull Modules
Cruiser Hull Modules
|Name||Weapon Slots||Utility Slots|
|Artillery||1 1||3 2|
|Hangar||2 1||3 2|
|Torpedo||2 2||3 2|
Battleship Hull Modules
|Name||Weapon Slots||Utility Slots|
|Broadside||2 1 1||2 2|
|Hangar||1 2 1||2 2|
|Spinal Mount||1||2 2|
On the right side of the designer one can select options for different subsystems of the ship. Most of them are required and it is not possible to design a ship without some version of them, but few of them are optional, having the option to install no subsystem in its slot.
This subsystem is optional, although without an FTL drive the ship is incapable of moving between systems. See FTL for further information.
This component improves various performance, like accuracy, evasion, speed and damage, depending on ship class.
- Swarm: Ship will charge straight at enemies and try to deal as much damage as possible.
- Mixed: Ship will have a balanced approach between offense and defense.
- Artillery: Ship will stay at range and fire its long range weapons on the target.
The sublight thrusters determine how fast the ship maneuvers within a star system. They also increase the chance to evade enemy attacks in combat.
Sensors determine the ship's detection range on the galaxy map. They also increase tracking of all weapon systems, which is related to accuracy. While ship-mounted sensors and stations-based sensors have different names and fall in different categories in game, their performances are still the same.
|Available only with the Leviathans DLC enabled.|
Science labs are crucial components equipped to science ships by default. While the basic science lab provides no bonuses there are two alternatives that gives bonuses on survey available after an empire has encountered and communicated with a Curator Enclave.
- Science lab (default): No bonuses
- Curator Exploration Lab: +25% Survey speed.
- Curator Archaeology Lab: -5% Anomaly fail risk; +5% anomaly discovery chance; +25% anomaly research speed.
Military Station Aura Systems
These are optional systems that give wide aura effects to the ships within their range. Each defense platform or defense stations has one aura slot, while fortress can have up to two aura slots.
Defensive Auras: These auras have positive effects on friendly ships.
- Nanobot Cloud: +5% monthly hull regen.
- Capacitor Fields: +20% monthly shield regen. Requires Capacitor Fields technology.
Offensive Auras: These auras have negative effects on hostile ships.
- Shield Dampener: -25% shield HP and -5% monthly shield regen.
- Quantum Destabilizer: -15% fire rate. Requires Quantum Destabilizer technology.
- Enigmatic Disruption Field: -10% monthly shield regen and -20% fire rate. Can only be installed on fortress. Available through Enigmatic Fortress event chain.
- Subspace Snare: +400% jump charge time, -50% sublight speed and +100% emergency FTL jump cooldown. Incoming hostile fleets are forcibly redirected to this station.
- Proximity Mines: hostile ships within the minefield have a daily 20% chance to take 5 - 15 damage ignoring 75% of the armor. This damage can be dodged.
NOTE: The column Average scales the DPS of the weapon by its accuracy.
The following table describes the general characteristics of the various weapon types. These attributes are constant across technology tiers. For example, the entry for Laser applies to Red Laser, Blue Laser, X-Ray Laser, etc. For more details, including attributes that vary by tech tier, see the tables farther below. Note: the windup is the time it takes until the weapon can fire. In-game, the 'cooldown' of a weapon is the windup and cooldown combined into one value.
Legend: E - Energy, X - eXplosive, K - Kinetic, S - Support.
|Laser||E||0.2||2.3||2.5||3.75||-20% Shield damage|
|Energy Lance||E||2.2||3.5||6.0||8.85||+90% Armor||-33% Shield damage|
|Plasma||E||0.2||2.5||3.0||4.35||-20% Shield damage|
||-100% Shield damage|
|Disruptor||E||0.2||2.0||2.5||3.6||+200% Shield damage|
|Energy Torpedo||E||0.2||2.3||20.0||21.25||+200% Shield damage|
|ED Matter Disintegrator||E||0.2||2.5||2.5||3.85||
|Mining Drone Laser||E||0.2||2.5||3.0||4.35||+100% Armor|
|Cloud Void Lightning||E||0.2||2.5||3.0||4.35||+50% Armor||-25% Shield damage|
|Energy Siphon||E||0.2||2.0||2.5||3.6||+100% Shield damage|
|Missile||X||2.0||3.0||3.0||5.5||5 Missile speed|
|Swarmer Missile||X||0.2||0.8||1.6||2.1||6 Missile speed|
||5 Missile speed|
|Mass Driver||K||0.2||1.8||2.5||3.5||+33% Shield damage|
|Kinetic Artillery||K||0.2||1.8||7.0||8.0||+20% Armor||+33% Shield damage|
|Point-Defense||K||0.1||0.1||1.9||2.0||Can attack missiles/strike-crafts|
|Flak Battery||K||0.2||1.8||1.8||2.8||Can attack missiles/strike-crafts|
|Crystalline Entity weapons are no longer available to players as corresponding techs are not valid for reverse engineering anymore.|
(As of Patch 1.3, the Armors and Shields of all Explosive Weapons are zero, and there is no way to increase them in game, although they have been defined in /common/component_templates)
|Stats shown are for each of the eight Strike Craft housed in a single Hangar (Amoeba Flagella is an exception, containing only four Strike Craft).|
There are 4 classes of Utility modules: Reactors, Armor, Shields and Auxiliary components. Reactors are used to power all other components. Armor provides a % damage reduction. Shields provide "extra" Hull Points. Auxiliary components have their own slots and grant various bonuses to a ship.
Damage reduction percentage is proportional to armor value, and then modified by ship size multiplier. When the damage reduction reaches 75%, each point of armor is 50% less effective as previously. Damage reduction cannot exceed 90% regardless of ship size and armor value.
The formula for damage reduction is:
- Below 75%:
- Above 75%:
- Critical value of armor is determined by ship size:
- Maximum value of armor is determined by ship size:
Ship sizes of corvette, destroyer, cruiser and battleship are 1, 2, 4 and 8 respectively. Sizes of defense platform, defense station and fortress are 4, 8, 16 respectively. All civilian ships have size of 1, while all civilian stations have size of 4. Repaired dreadnought (size 20) is the largest ship player could obtain in game. Any ship larger than size 11 is considered as 11 for armor calculation.
|Ship size|| Critical armor
75% damage reduction
| Maximum armor|
90% damage reduction
Armor penetration from weapons is applied as a multiplier directly to the damage reduction percentage, not the ship's numerical armor points. This means no matter the number of armor points a ship has, if it has 90% damage reduction, and is attacked by a 50% armor penetration weapon, it would have an effective 45% damage reduction. This concept can be expressed as the formula:
Where armor damage reduction is the value calculated from the above damage reduction formula, and all variables are written as decimal percentages (E.G: 90% is 0.9).
Above are the values, but what do they mean in the context of the game? What is a good ship? What is a good counter to that ship?
There are 4 basic military ship classes in the game; 3 of them have to be researched and unlocked in sequence. They go from the small Corvette to the incredibly big and expensive Battleship. As of 1.1, Upgrade times were dropped drastically, making most upgrading of big ships and fleets several orders of magnitude quicker. However it is clearly based on the Mineral cost for the upgrade now, meaning big fleets with considerable updates can still cost corresponding amounts of time.
Corvettes are the first ship type available and can be mass-produced quickly. Their role drastically changed with 1.3. Their primary defense is their high evasion stat, their secondary is the speed with which they close the distance. The choice of combat computer reinforces both. In turn, their layouts are highly limited: either 3 small weapons or 1 small and a Torpedo Launcher. They lost the (pre-1.3) ability to field point defense. Due to their Weapon choices they are poor at defeating spaceports early on, unless fielded in considerable masses (30+) and even then, casualties have to be expected. The corvette can be produced by any spaceport, costs little and is made quickly (2 months with a T1 port). The corvettes are quick and can be very effective against large enemy battleships and cruisers that lack weapons with good tracking, such as missiles. Corvettes have low armor and shields so caution is advised.
These are the first larger vessels and the first true military ships, but they can still be mass-produced effectively later on (only needing a T3-T4 spaceport). With exception of extra large weapons, Torpedoes and Hangars, they can carry every weapon size in the game making them highly useful and variable. The bow and stern sections allow for a variety of weapon slots. Early on they can offer the only access to large and medium slots as well as point defense. Their combat computer favors a balanced approach between artillery and swarm.
Destroyers get an extra bonus to tracking, which makes them an ideal counter to the quick and evasive corvette. This combined with their point defenses allows the destroyer to be a ship that can fit in every situation, be it to protect large battleships or additional firepower in the early games' mass corvette fleets. Due to their versatility and relative low cost they will likely be the most numerous ship in any fleet once cruisers are available.
Historical cruisers were a category of ship classes such as frigates suitable for independent operations or to lead a flotilla of small ships, as well as for scouting, relaying fleet messages, support of ground troops, and as secondary participants in major battles between opposing lines of battleships. Given how they were used, they often focused on firepower and/or speed at the expense of defense. Cruisers are designed to have similar roles in game, able to accomplish independent missions such as destroying enemy mining or research stations, chasing weak enemy ships, or being a substitute for larger ships when firepower or a strike craft force is needed but a battleship is not necessary or available. The cruiser combat computer boosts fire rate and accuracy, which allows it to deal large amounts of damage. Defensively they face trade-offs with their low evasion chance . Cruiser defense benefit substantially from both armor and shields. Shields and HP regeneration can greatly boost endurance in enemy territory, but at expense of direct battle survivability. It also has access to all but the very largest weapons. This in combination with their damage increasing combat computer lets cruisers output considerable damage, where 2 cruisers can outclass a battleship in damage values. The available sections are a fore, center, and aft section. The center section can also be changed to a hangar core, allowing for strike craft to be equipped.
Battleships are large, powerful, expensive ships, intended to fight ships, bases or monsters of comparable strength or to bombard planets and rarely seen out of port otherwise in order to save on maintenance costs. They have three sections and can be designed as carriers with 1-3 possible strike craft hangars or as long-range weapons platforms. Both approaches serve the purpose of keeping the enemy at long range. Breaking off an unsuccessful battle in time for battleships to survive is always a consideration for a fleet admiral because replacing battleships can become very costly very fast. While swarms of Corvettes or Destroyers can be raised in a year by using every available spaceport in a large empire, and a mid-level port can turn out some cruisers as well, often only a fraction of an empire's ports can build battleships and even with a wealth of Minerals they can take a year and more to build so building, or rebuilding, a battleship fleet can take a span of years. Their combat computer boosts plain damage. Defensively they gain the most from armor, as their high HP benefits more from damage mitigation percentages and they start with a considerable amount of free (built-in) armor as well. Shields can be added when the diminishing returns of armor value becomes too much. However, their first defense is the long reach of their weapons. Long-range firepower and screening ships keep the enemy at a distance. Battleships are built to provide sustained damage and survive to fight again. This is helped by having smaller screening ships such as destroyers fight and sustain damage that would've otherwise gone to the battleship. A battleship is most effective when it is placed in the back of a battle, where it can keep shooting without having to turn. The battleships large amount of hull points can be used as meat shield in situations where an enemies' damage is not enough to destroy it, but enough to destroy other smaller ships.
All sections of a particular ship class have exactly the same amount and size of Utility and Auxiliary Slots. Utility slots provide various bonus to the performance of a ship. In the small, medium and large slots, the challenge is to reach a balance between power generation, shields and armor values most optimal for the current situation. Against an enemy using only energy weapons, shields are invaluable, but not having a healthy balance in armor/shields can catch a fleet off-guard. The auxiliary slot can be filled with various components, such as the afterburner to increase non-FTL speed. As of 1.3, Battleships can no longer carry Aura support modules. Only stations may use them.
Most weapons can use one or more of the following size slots: small, medium or large. The larger a slot a weapon is placed in, the more damage and range and the less accuracy and tracking it will have. For different sized weapons developed from same technology, the cost of minerals and energy for small, medium and large size weapons are usually 1:2:4. There are also weapons that can't fit in the regular slots. They might go either into torpedo, point defense or extra large slots. While normalized weapons slot can be found on almost all sectors of ships and stations, special slots as well as hangar slots are only available on selected sections.
Weapon sizes are not related to weapon types. Flak Battery and Point Defense use medium and slots respectively, but both are point-defense kinetic weapons. Proton Torpedo and Space Torpedo share torpedo slot, while the former one is energy weapon and the latter one is an explosive weapon with missile-like behaviors (having HP, evasion and speed).
Extra large weapons have some other restrictions. They can only be mounted on a battleship's bow with Spinal Mount selected. These weapons outperform any other weapons with incomparable average damage per time and long range. However, they have a firing arc and minimum range which limit their area of effect. So these weapons are only effective when engaging enemies in front of the ship at medium-long range. Typically, they are effective against large targets like battleships as well as besieging enemy stations, but almost useless when swarmed by corvettes or strike craft. An interesting fact is every large Fallen Empire ship is equipped with two extra large weapons. Some guardians also have powerful beam attacks using the xl slot with limited firing arc and minimum range.
Point Defenses and Flak Battery are necessary against strike craft and missiles. They have very short range and high rates of fire, shooting down incoming strike craft and missiles when they approach the ship. Due to their low damage and range, they are not a reliable source of damage but they can significantly increase a ship's survivability.
This weapon class has by far the best armor penetration, with quite respectable range and accuracy. It also offers the widest range of weapon types. It comes in 6 basic categories:
- Lasers: Small lasers have notable accuracy with short range, while large lasers have more than twice the range and are quite effective against armored enemies. However, lasers are not good at crushing shields.
- Plasma: Plasma weapons have similar behavior to lasers at the same cost. They have slightly longer range and higher armor penetration than comparable lasers, but damage and accuracy are lower. Meanwhile, they also have a -20% penalty when hitting shields.
- Disruptor: Disruptors are specialized against shields. At same level of cost, their average damage is about 1/4 to 1/3 less than corresponding lasers. Unlike lasers and plasma weapons, they have +200% damage bonuses against shields. A good combination of disruptors and lasers can totally break through enemy defenses.
- Energy Torpedoes: Although having torpedo in their name, they don't have HP, speed and evasion like other missile and torpedo weapons. Similar to disruptors, they are designed to disable enemy shields with +200% damage. Each shot of energy torpedoes can deal huge amount of damage but the cooldown time is also much longer, resulting in a comparable average damage to large disruptors.
- Energy Lances: These extra large lance weapons have higher damage than any other energy weapons and ignore most enemy armor, but their accuracy and performance against shields are quite poor.
- Arc Emitters: With absolute accuracy and absolute disregard of enemy defenses, arc emitters can deliver 100% numerical damage onto the hull. However, the range of minimum to maximum damage is so large that the results of fighting with arc emitters are likely to be a game of luck.
Some other energy weapon designs can be obtained via reverse engineering or special projects. Cutting lasers, cloud lightning and energy siphon require analysis of the mining drone, void cloud and tiyanki respectively. These are open to research in the early game and these components are fairly cheap. Their damage stats are not as high as those lasers, but some unique attributes like 100% armor penetration, absolute accuracy and +100% shield damage are very rare in early game and can be a surprise to certain enemies.
Matter disintegrators can be only found on debris of extradimensional invaders. With 50% armor penetration and 50% shield penetration, they are effective against every kind of enemy regardless of their defenses. The large matter disintegrator has unusual high damage which is almost comparable to extra large weapons. Since its cost is simply half that of extra large weapons, matter disintegrators have the best cost/performance among all weapons. The only problem is matter disintegrators have the worst accuracy among all energy weapons and only better than a few kinetic mass drivers, which makes them difficult to fight hordes of corvettes.
Missile weapons are rather different from other weapon types. They have a 100% accuracy and varying tracking values, but in turn can be shot down by Point Defenses (equipped only by destroyers and above with corresponding sections).
- Missiles have the best base range of all weapons. They also have equally high tracking for all slot sizes, giving any ship a good counter to corvettes.
- Conventional Torpedoes have the ability to skip right past shields, making them especially dangerous to shield-reliant foes, but their weakness is that they lack tracking and are only available for the special torpedo slot.
- Swarmer missiles are medium slot, shorter ranged missiles that split up with the goal of overwhelming enemy defenses in a saturation attack. Their evasion is so high they can not be shot down.
While they have good range, overall they lack in the short range department. Salvaged technology or research into other areas has to make up for that. Their efficiency is also highly dependent on how well the PD and Fighters operate in any given game patch.
Projectile weapons have high DPS and bonus damage against shields, but their accuracy, especially in larger slots, is meager. They come in three types:
- the average Mass drivers whose range even exceeds early energy weapons. Starting with Medium Slot size they also have Armor penetration.
- the shorter ranged but much faster firing Autocannons. These have higher DPS and stronger Armor Penetration, but lack the bonus against shields.
- the max range Kinetic Artillery.
It is notable that all point defense weapons are considered Kinetic weapons and the Flak Artillery - a special kind of medium slot Point Defense - is only available through this weapon line.
Fighters/Bombers work like missiles or mobile point defense that can only be replenished out of combat. That would in theory make them suitable for hit and run, but in practice is not a good idea for large ships (due to the high cost of emergency FTL damage). However, Carrier wings can quickly be changed without any cost/upgrade time, as both Bomber and Fighter on the same tier cost the same. That means among the big ships carriers are the best at quickly being retrofitted to changing realities of conflict especially with the changes to retrofitting in 1.1.
The Titan Laser is a unique type of weapon that is only used by their namesake Titans and a handful of Guardians. Between the base damage in the thousands and the passive bonuses the enemy will have, any battleship design can be effectively one-shotted by the Titan Laser. However it does suffer all the usual weaknesses of Lances, including Windup time, Weak Tracking, limited firing arc and relative weakness to shields (with heavy shield focus a BB might be there for a 2nd shot).
Energy weapons in general work best burning through armor (Battleships, Armor Cruisers, spaceborne aliens) and are countered by shields, with the notable Exceptions of ED Matter Disintegrator, Energy Torpedo and Disruptor. Each of those weapons has its own set of trade-offs. Missiles make by far the best early long-range and big slot weaponry, with torpedoes in particular countering shield heavy designs and missiles countering corvettes. They are countered very effectively by PD and somewhat by armor and by every other weapon group with late long range weapons too. Kinetic weapons can shred through shields on decent range from the start, due to their high DPS. Strong armor mitigation counters them. As such they can be mostly adaptable. Fighters can counter missile and bomber heavy designs, if normal PD can not keep up. Bombers in turn counter any big ship, due to skipping both shields and armor. They do not work that well against small targets like corvettes. A well-rounded force will not be caught off-guard, but outfitting a fleet to counter a specific enemy may result in a swift and cheap victory.