HighFleet

HighFleet

178 ratings
Shipbuilding in Highfleet
By newageofpower and 2 collaborators
Warning! Big changes coming for 1.13! Some of the techniques used here are confirmed to have been made impossible in the beta! Stay tuned for further updates...

Massively Updated on August 21st.

Minor Updates on September 25th by CodeNemesis

Learn how to build ships that have better performance and higher cost-efficiency than built-ins!
5
9
3
6
3
9
3
3
   
Award
Favorite
Favorited
Unfavorite
Introduction
(Initially created August 5th 2021 for game version 1.1)

Building effective ships in Highfleet can be extremely frustrating to new players; but is a very rewarding task. Player ships can significantly out-class built-ins in terms of cost-performance and efficiency.

This guide is oriented towards players who are not cheating or have not racked up a giant score for new game mode. While the guide can help players who don’t care about fuel expense or cost efficiency, these items are an important consideration in the guide.

Ship Editor Basics:

Hopefully someday Konstantine will explain this ingame... I've had to tell dozens of players how to place multiple parts without going back to the parts menu every step...

-You can hold shift whilst placing parts (left click) to retain that piece on your cursor, so that you can place another immediately.

-You can create a disconnected segment of a ship, band-box select it, then right click lift the entire piece. You can place/rotate the entire piece… including shift-placement for very fast construction. As of 1.13 multiple selected components can no longer be rotated.


Fig.1


Fig.2 Incidentally, I discovered a placement bug with the antenna...

-If your editor seems to have locked up, drag select your main hull (the piece of ship containing the Bridge) and right click to attach to your cursor. Place it somewhere empty and your game should be responsive again. This is assuming you are building a sane ship under 200k of cost, ofc...

-If your components seem terribly messed up in orientation, there is a high chance the hull orientation is glitched and the game would treat a non-downward direction as downward. To fix it, detach your bridge, try rotate the bridge (no visual indication) to attempt to correct the bridge orientation, then right click the entire rest of the build to attach to the bridge.
Selected Q&A
-engineerferret: "One question. While testing the "Armor-Reinforced Hull Interlaced Triangles" theory, I found the components behind the Armo-Hull layer often get damaged by prox-fuze (or maybe some mid-caliber?). Is this kind of layout offer less protection against AOE damage? And, how is the cannon dmg works in this game, do they also mitigate/spread like explosion dmg?"

Answer: Yes, composite or any kind of many-small-pieces layout will suffer more from splash. pretty much every weapon other than 37mm & 57mm seems to have an AOE radius.

-Grozovsky: I think it's (side-mounted static thrusters) a glitch because you can't turn stationary thrusters without attaching it to the struct. And this is OP as hell. I've copied your's tanker ship and by adding a few thrusters on both sides i've manage to have 700+ km/h speed.

Answer: I disagree, it's not very good in tactical as the efficiency of static engines isn't enough to compensate for the fact you need 4x as many engines to have mobility in all directions, and structural mass for them too adds up rather quickly. Powerful for strategic builds, but you can just use ultralight techniques to attach lots of static engines at a slight increase in weight compared to side-mounting them; I have a Wasp MkIII/a with 1000+ kph cruise speed and 23 D-30S, none of which are side mounted.

Answer by co-author: I agree, as developers have officially patched it out in 1.13. The sideway thrusters takes way less power than a gimbal thruster and could respond immediately to directional maneuvering orders as opposed to gimbal thruster needing to rotate in position to maneuver which the efficiency is highly affected by power status. Four glitched static thrusters outperform four gimbal thrusters in every aspect.

-Fe^Fi-Fo_Fum=(: "R-6 missile? nowhere to be found they delete that? also saw 305x2 for 180x6 in ship file god I want that."

Answer: R-6 can be found off the Gladiator and in-campaign shops. If your ship designs require Nadirs you can load up the Gladiator, remove everything else (other than the bridge and missiles) and use that as a starting point.

The weapon named 305x2 is actually implemented as 180x6.

-Insidious: Thoughts on bringing jammer(s) on AAW? Decent odds to disable SARH/ARH strategic weaponry and will directly attract radar-seeking weaponry into the teeth of sprints and prox'y fuses. Also wondering if you've noticed Palash systems having any effects towards mitigating damage from conventional cruise missiles?

Answer: Jammers don't disable missiles; they just halve the effective radius of radars, including those carried on missiles.

This works out well if your battlegroup is actively evading on the strategic map, to make dodging their seeker cones easier, but isn't going to help if your fleet is charging straight at the enemy (my most common scenario where I get pelted by missiles). As for baiting ARMs, the FCS radar on your AAW ship should do that just fine.

If your fleet has a different doctrine maybe Jammer will be stronger on your AAW build.

Regarding APS; I've seen 2x Palash on the same side fail to shoot down a Zenith which has 5HP and is *alot* slower than a strategic missile; and strategic missiles range from 10-30HP. I would not want to rely on Palash against those.

Then there is the question of efficiency; say we mounted 2x APS in each approach angle (4 initial air defense approach vectors) - that would cost $12000 for the Palashes alone which is *huge* considering my example AAW frigate only costs $29030.

-Lewich: Speaking of Palash: it can fire over armor using elevation (similar to fixed engines). But it can only occupy two out of four slots in elevated 4x4 block, and if "zero level" block is occupied with anything, it had to be slots further from zero level/edge of the ship.
And, after briefly testing square brick with 24 (12 on each vertical side) Palash,they're useless. High caliber rounds fragment way before Palash can do anything, and 57/100mm guns have too many projectiles per magazine to effectively stop all of them.


Answer: If the 2x2 block housing the APS is facing a gimbal mount (turret, gear, engine) then the Palash will be able to squeeze in, allowing full usage of their mounting block. However, if facing turret or engine the Palash mounting block will need -another- layer of elevation (so the other blocks touching the Palash block must be elevated at least once) because turrets and engines cause (even partial notched/triangle 2x2s) the blocks they are mounted on to elevate by 1.


Fig2a1, mass intensive, but you get full volume efficiency

And they're not meant to stop salvos, APS is effective when you are dodging and/or using defensive fires to neutralize most of the enemy shells. In that case, assuming you are mitigating 90% of enemy fire, the Palash will reduce the effectiveness of the next 10%, on a fraction of the weight of armor or even reinforced steel.

Over the course of a campaign, APS can mitigate huge amounts of damage without destroying your fuel budget.

Co-author Answer:
Palash for player is only great at defending against enemy aircraft attacks. The palash can one-shot the aircraft bombs in an AoE which in most cases nullify an entire wave of bombs. They are otherwise not useful for their price tag since they don't recharge for players and cannot intercept proximity and AP rounds, which are way more dangerous that HE.
Highfleet Ship Design Theory
Hybrids suck. Do not build hybrids. Some may find this controversial, but this seems really obvious, and quite a few other players agree with me on this. Tactical Ships (that are designed to duke it out in ship vs ship combat) and Strategic/Support/Auxiliary ships should be built very differently.

(Other than AAW pickets, but they are a special case and the angles your opponents will start from in Air Defense Mode are far more limited than in Ship vs Ship)

Reasoning?

-In ship vs ship combat, you get to pick which ships on your team get to appear. Thus, unless you screw up badly, there is no reason for your tanker, missile carrier or sensor ship to ever have to get shot at by cannons.

-Tactical ships want to minimize cross-section, to minimize probability of getting hit and mass required for a given armor thickness. Lots of fuel tanks *greatly* increases cross section, mass, and engine count required to achieve a given design speed, making them inferior in combat.

-(Good) Tactical ships should use mostly gimballed engines to have maneuverability in combat. This means they are less fuel efficient for a given mass of ship and design speed.

-Electronics (Search Radar, ELINT, FCS Radar, IRST) do not function behind armor. They have reduced function through structure too, so don’t get too fancy with structural cages.

-Jammer can be placed on elevated hull and can function behind armor if properly elevated. However, the same space can be otherwise occupied by another Zenith, another FSS or another can of fuel for better combat ability, so it's still generally discouraged to do so.

-Support ships want to use as many static engines as possible, to maximize their fuel efficiency (as well as cruise speed for a given budget).

It is my experience that a fleet of optimized tactical ships and optimized support craft is both deadlier/more durable in combat and more fuel efficient than a fleet of hybrids.
Fundamentals of Tactical Ship Design
Ships need to consider how they will fight, what class of targets they will be optimized against, and how they will protect themselves. Players must also consider their own limitations; saying “speed is overpowered and the best defense” might be true, but most players are not 11 Honor Lightning Pilots and therefore should probably not try to fight cruiser fleets in an ultralight. Similarly, if your aim is bad, pick weapon systems with faster reloading speeds and larger magazine sizes, and maybe pack more missiles.

Thrusters should be placed towards the extremities of a tactical ship, for example, the corners on a boxy design. Thrusters high up above the center of mass of a ship generally improves stability, placing them below center of mass decreases stability. Increased stability makes landing easier, while decreased stability allows for doing backflips and other tricks while dodging.

As stated earlier, tactical ships want to be as compact as possible for a given amount of capability (generally measured by speed/weapons/defense), being smaller makes you harder to hit and lighter/cheaper to protect with passive defenses. I consider a reasonable fuel load for Attack Frigates to be 750-1000km range; excess weight will decrease your TWR and make you easier to hit as well as making you bigger (and all the other consequences that come with being a big target).

Unless you are the greatest pilot of all time, you will find yourself getting hit eventually. Losing your bridge = dead ship; losing the ammo usually results in an explosion that (depending on amount of ammo and size of ship) may instantly kill it, and having fuel tanks get hit may cause fires.

Obviously getting hit in power, engines or weapons is bad and will lead to a decrease in the ability of your ship to fight, but they are less instantly fatal than an ammo explosion. Therefore, you want to protect your ammo and bridge as much as possible, then fuel, crew and generators. Generators and crew compartments also have more hitpoints than fuel or ammo, which makes them a decent way to protect your explodey bits.

While losing the bridge is an instant kill on that ship, it’s fairly durable and less prone to sudden death than ammo. Thus on small ships you protect the ammo even more than the bridge; i.e. hide ammo from expected direction of fire behind the bridge.

For ships with relatively few and light weapons, it is possible to spread out your ammo so that some of it exploding does not cause a chain reaction. For ships with lots of heavy weapons, that becomes impractical and the optimal strategy is to centralize your ammunition and bury it as deep as possible behind other components.


Fig2b, examples of what -not- to do.

TLDR cram components as close to each other as possible, make ship smol as possible for same number of stuff. Put thrusters near the edges/corners for better turning. Put critical components behind less important parts to die as slowly as possible, the order of importance is Ammo & Bridge > Fuel > Crew > Generators > Everything else
Basic Tactical Combatant Challenge
Alright, put the above information into practice. Go build a simple ship with following (additional, make sure you incorporate the lessons learned so far) specifications:

Cheap as possible
4x AK-100
Solid top armor
Line of 2x1 Reinforced structure on each side
Thrust-Weight Ratio at least 3
2 static thrusters
No fuel tanks or ammo directly exposed
Range at least 750km

You should have something that looks like this:


Fig.3 Ugly, and poorly optimized, but that can be fixed!

This is a cheap and basic frigate sized bottom-fighter, one of the more powerful archetypes in Highfleet. Even with this crappy hull you can probably (with decent aiming/dodging) clear Difficulty 3/Small Tester with negligible internal damage…

But your ship is nowhere near it’s potential. Heck, it can’t even land! How to improve this? Well, get ready to read alot of words and stare at lots of pictures… First we’ll overview the parts that go into tactical ships before we swing around to advanced design methods…
Turret Statistics
There is no such thing as best weapon, only best weapon for a given situation for a given player. Thus players will have to decide what weapons to fit to what design.


Fig3b, from left to right: 2A37, AK-725, AK-100, D-80, MK-1, MK-2, A-220, MK-6

n
2A37
AK-725
AK-100
D-80
MK-1
MK-2
MK-6
A-220
Cal
37mm
57mm
100mm
130mm
180mm
180mm
180mm
220mmR
Mag
50
14
4
4
1
2
6
6
RoF (burst length)
2000 (1.51)
350 (2.4)
400 (0.6)
240
(1)
N/A
180
(0.66)
180
(2)
120 (3)
Reload (per second)
20
(2.5)
10
(1.4)
7
(0.57)
10
(0.4)
6
(0.16)
10
(0.2)
7
(0.85)
20
(0.3)
Turret Speed
Normal
Normal
Normal
Normal
Slow
Slow
Very Slow
Normal
$$$
3000
1500
2000
4000
4000
6000
24000
4000
Size
1
1
1
1
1
1
4
1
Ammo Req
1
1
1
1
2
4
8
4
Power Req
0.7
0.7
1
1
1.8
2.4
6
3
Crew Req
6
6
6
6
12
24
50
5
Turrets Analyze
In terms of damage per shot (and anti-armor performance when using non-AP munitions), the weapons efficiency is:

37mm < 57mm < 100mm < 130mm < 220mmR* < 180mm

*Rocket launchers are very effective when they connect, but their rocket rounds start out slow, then accelerate, requiring a different lead reflex compared to firing guns. Their rockets are also easier to shoot down/dodge than cannon shells.

2A37
With good aim, the CIWS can be extremely potent against lightly protected opponents with it’s 2000 RPM and 50 round magazine. However, it takes 20 (!) seconds to reload it’s magazine, meaning once the readied rounds are depleted, holding down the trigger only fires 2.5 shots per second! Therefore if your aim is bad, it is recommended you open fire only when you have maneuvered into point blank range.

(The 2A37 also my recommended weapon of choice for Air Defense ships and a good secondary battery for larger tactical ships to shoot down incoming shells and missiles)
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary

AK-725
Commonly regarded as a mediocre weapon, the 57mm lacks the stopping power of 100mm+ weapons, or the ability of the 37mm to saturate the local airspace. However, it is the cheapest gun mount, and actually fairly strong in large numbers (8+) due to it’s large magazine size (14) and great reload rate (10 seconds, or 1.4 rounds per second), extremely friendly for gunners without a disciplined trigger finger.

It's quite versatile once you have a large number, can smash light ships, perform OK point defense (with far better uptime due to short reload), chew through armor faster than 2A37...
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary

AK-100
On paper, the AK-100 is inferior to the D-80; both have the same magazine size and logistical footprint but the other is higher caliber and does more damage, right?

Yet the AK-100 is a fan favorite. For one, the AK-100 fills it’s 4 round magazine in 7 seconds, while the D-80 needs 10. Next, AK-100 has a fire rate of of 400 RPM compared to the D-80’s 240, meaning a shot-cluster from the AK-100 is fired almost twice as fast as that from the D-80. This leads to a higher sustained DPS.

Faster magazine filling speed and higher ROF also make it decent in point defense, when using Proximity shells.

And of course, it is half the price of the D-80 (including special ammo cost!)
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Armor Piercing

D-80 "Molot"
For all the advantages of the AK-100, the D-80 offers non-trivially more burst damage up front and better anti-armor performance, as well as a larger proximity shell that has a bigger splash area.

Furthermore, 130mm shells are the fastest in the game, giving the opponent less time to dodge. They also disperse less at long range. This is bad for players who need dispersion for shotgun tactics, but great for cross-map sniping.

If you are a very good marksman and can reliably hit a ship zooming around while flying fast yourself, the D-80 will simply kill the opponent faster on the same logistical footprint. For this reason, many veteran players prefer 130mm.
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Armor Piercing, Laser Guided

MK-1
The first thing you’ll notice when using Big Guns is the reduced turret speed. It just rotates slower than other weapons, making it worse at high speed close range combat. It also requires more power and crew than the standard guns.

Unpopular with most players due to it’s single-shot nature and lower DPS than the former two guns, but in veteran hands it can make a light corvette sink a cruiser easily with AP shells.
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Armor Piercing, Laser Guided

MK-2 "Sarmat"
Quite potent against enemy cruisers with Armor Piercing Ammunition, the MK-2 does cost the same amount as 4 AK-100s and uses more than twice the crew of 4 AK-100s, and uses almost the same power as 2 AK-100s… While there are arguments for not mounting the weight of 4x AK100, the 180mm guns are simply less flexible when not fighting heavy ships.

There is some debate whether players should use 4x MK2 or 1x MK6… it depends on your aiming skills. If you are very confident of your marksmanship then 4x MK2 can be superior.

Co-author comment: However, Mk2 is worse than 2 x Mk1 in terms of DPS per ammo. Mk2 takes 10 seconds to fire two rounds while Mk1s only take 6 seconds. Mk2 is the 180mm with the smallest logistic footprint per ammo but also the lowest DPS per ammo, making it extremely niche imo.

Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Armor Piercing, Laser Guided

MK-6 "Squall"
At the cost of a decent frigate before you even factor in logistical footprint, the MK-6 has a higher cost than it’s paper stats show; 8x Ammo requires another 4MW in power and 40 crew to operate… and those crew quarters require power too… and the power generators require more crew.

Altogether a MK-6 costs about 30,000 Gold and adds over 2000 tons of mass to a ship. This is before you consider how many more engines (and fuel and crew and power and armor to protect the huge volume!) it takes to keep the same design speed with that extra mass! To top it off, the MK-6 has the same rotational speed issues as the MK-1 and 2, but worse. Opening fire also causes white flashes and shakes to appear on your screen, making aiming more difficult.

That being said, with good aim and proper ammunition selection you can obliterate an enemy cruiser in a few salvos. Extremely destructive armament, suitable for use on capital ships to fight other capital ships.
Ammo Types: HE, Incendiary, Proximity, Armor Piercing, Laser Guided

A-220
The only ship-based rocket launcher in game, the A-220 offers excellent burst firepower on a relatively low logistical footprint. However, due to difficulty of leading targets, increased ease of dodging and vulnerability of your attack to point-defense, it’s fairly unpopular with players.

Co-author comment: It has the highest DPS per ammo on paper, but due to lack of AP and proximity rounds, the assault potential is quite limited. However, it does have a niche utility that the rockets can soak a bunch of proximity rounds, making it surprisingly effective against SG.
Ammo Types: I don’t actually know all the ammo types you can fit to Rocket Launchers.

TLDR: Big guns only cost efficient vs big ships (unless you are Simo Hayha II). AK-100 generally adequate vs everything and can change ammo to be better at whatever it’s facing. Use A-220 if you are a hipster.
Landing Gear Design & Propulsion Selection
Landing Gear

Landing gear (“Legs”) require at least 2 parts for good articulation. They don’t have names as of 1.1, so I will arbitrarily label them:


Fig.4a Types A, B, C, D from left to right

n
Type A
Type B
Type C
Type D
$$$
400
200
100
50
Power Req
0.4 MW
0.2 MW
0.1 MW
0.07 MW (*)
Mass
238t
80t
18t
3t
*Estimate

When piloting a very light ship (say, under 750t) and with good control, you can just use skids to land. But generally most ships should use landing gear, tactical ships to gain an edge in repair speed, strategic missile/aircraft carriers for faster reloading of expended missiles/replacement of destroyed aircraft. I even put legs on my tankers and spyships; ships without the ability to land just don’t make sense in this world.

However, especially on smaller ships, you want the lightest possible legs to avoid excessive thrust/power wastage.

For brevity’s sake I’ll just show the types of legs I find appropriate for a given tonnage of ship, though if you are very gentle (zero horizontal motion, less than 9km/h touchdown) with landing you can make do with legs that aren’t quite up to par to save mass/power.

Fig.4b Ultralight


Fig.4c “Corvette Legs” 1x Type C + 1x Type D, suitable for ships up to ~2000t mass


Fig.4d “Frigate Legs” 2x Type C, suitable for ships up to ~4000t mass

Ships above 4000t should add claws to their landing gear.


Fig.4e 1x Type B + 1x Type C, suitable for ships up to 8000t


Fig.4f 2x Type B, suitable for ships up to 12000t


Fig.4g 1x Type A + Type B, suitable for ships up to 16000t


Fig.4h 2x Type A, suitable for ships up to 20000t

If your ship is over 4000t you should strongly consider adding claws.

Small claws are generally adequate to 12000t, though if you use multiple leg sets then they continue to function even on 40000t designs.


Fig.4i Claw Designs

The heavier the ship, the closer the first limb should be to parallel to the ground; this dissipates shock better at the cost of reducing ground clearance.

For ships that are more massive than this chart, you can use more than 1 pair of legs to compensate, or just land *very* gently. Multiple sets of lighter landing gear can safely land ships with a lower mass penalty than huge landing gear, but do consume more volume.

Do not use type B landing gear for claws; they're unnecessary even out to 60,000t of ship and greatly inflate ship mass, unnecessarily decreasing fuel efficiency/range/speed/agility.

Propulsion

The RD series are significantly more fuel efficient but require Large Hull sections. Due to their sheer mass of Large Hull sections it becomes inefficient to build small ships with RD series engines, and very expensive to build fast ships (even if large) with them.

Faster, smaller ships will use D-30, NK-25 and D-30S engines for propulsion. Larger, slower ships should use the RD-59 and RD-51. As stated before, tactical ships will want to use mostly gimballed engines and support ships should use mostly static engines.

While it is possible to propel a large ship with small engines, the large ship will have extreme fuel consumption for its mass and design speed, not recommended when fuel is one of your biggest expenses in the campaign.

TLDR: Use small engines for small ships, strongly consider switching to big engines around 6000t of ship.
Defenses
Reinforced Hull
Reinforced hull has the same hitpoint total as an armor block, but less than 10% of the weight. It’s not perfect, though, because it doesn’t have the damage resistance of armor; you can see this when interlaced armor/reinforced structure triangles get hit by a missile; the structure triangles go deep red or die immediately, whilst the armor triangles (that didn’t fall off from the missing structure) go pink/light red.

They also cost more money and time to repair, and worst of all (unlike hits on armor) hits on structure trigger a “bullet holes on your screen” graphical effect. Very distracting.

Still, we expect Reinforced Hull's weight to increase or Armor to be buffed in upcoming patches...

Armor
Armor is very massive, but offers damage resistance (i.e. many 37mm bullets will do less damage to armor than they would hull) and is cheap to repair. Larger armor sections also offer additional blast mitigation. I go over ways of applying armor (and Reinforced Hull) in Advanced Construction Techniques.

Flares
With a small amount of speed and some flares, you can just tell infrared-guided missiles to not hit you. Each launcher comes with 30 flares preloaded, but buying more isn’t doesn’t extend the capacity as all your flare launchers will fire a flare whenever you order a launch.

Generally you want to push flares into a direction you are moving away from, but on larger ships you can just fit 4-8 flare launchers and put them in every facing.

Active Protection System
Extremely expensive at $1500, the Palash APS has 2 shots and takes 20 seconds to reload. EDIT: Apparently, they only reload for the AI. Boo. They also have a RoF of 400/m (or 6 per second) so they can be overwhelmed or run out of defense charges very quickly.

That being said, it’s one of the few defense systems that doesn’t require the player to micromanage to function, and they can fire from behind one layer of armor. If you abuse elevation mechanics (will be covered in a following section) you can fire over multiple layers of armor, very handy for staying alive.

They also come with the capability of one-shot killing bombs in an AoE, including aircraft bombs and FAB-1000. This makes them have an extremely niche usage of air raid defense, as one single palash can detonate an entire squad's dive bomb.
Assorted tips for Crew, Power, Ammunition and Emergency Systems
-EXTRA AMMO DOES NOT IMPROVE RELOAD RATES, DO NOT USE EXCESS AMMO

-Fire suppressors have a limited range. On bigger ships try to spread out your fire suppression systems to cover more blocks; I believe they have a range of 4. Very small ships don’t have the room for more than 1, and frigate-scale ships can be protected with a handful. If an (well designed) attack frigate has to suppress fires 5 times, it's probably more than halfway destroyed and should have evacuated a while ago.

-Notice how the Auxiliary Generator costs $150 and produces 2.8MW, whilst the full-size Generator costs $200 and produces 6MW. Usually you should use 0-1 Auxiliary generators if you care about cost efficiency. However, Aux generators have less weight per power generated, consider using them instead on ultralight designs.

-For Ammunition, the half-size 2x1 parts have half the capability/capacity; but two half-size parts weigh about 30% more. Due to the Gimbal-Triangle building technique (explained in the following section) you can get more volumetric capacity in your ship by squeezing in 1x2 blocks, but your weight efficiency will decrease. Can be worth using if armored (and already have optimized on other squeezing techniques) due the the extreme weight of armor.

-As of current patch, a 2x1 small crew quarters (25 crew) masses more than a 2x2 Standard Crew Quarters (50 crew)... try not to use small quarters.

-Escape Pods do not require power or to be connected to the ship’s interior. Simply put a structural triangle and an escape pod somewhere.
Tactical Missiles
Missiles that can be launched in Tactical Combat come in three varieties:

n
R-5 Zenith
R-6 Nadir
R-9 Sprint
$$$
600
1200
300*
Size
2x1
2x1
1x1
Damage
200
400
100
Anti-Ship?
Y
Y
N
Speed
300
300
400
Agility
10
5
5

They each require 2 crew (presumably for maintenance) and must be connected via hull segments.

R-5 Zenith
The bread and butter tactical missile, it requires no aiming/leading/or any manual input after launch (other than not flying straight into it) and can reliably hit a slow target. However, it’s not cheap (compared to the free HE round replicator that comes free on our flagship) and can be dodged pretty easily by small ships, and shot down by bigger ships. On the other hand, it can 1-shot smaller ships if they get hit in a vulnerable area. They offer a way for very quick/lightly built fast ships to deal lots of damage in a short timeframe at a steep monetary cost.

R-6 Nadir
Twice the damage at twice the cost, the Nadir has a few major downsides: only half the agility of the Zenith (not that it matters vs larger ships), same missile hitpoint total (meaning they are just as easily shot down) and are unavailable from Main Menu Shipworks (must unlock a Gladiator then shift-place Nadirs from it).

Still, twice the damage potential in the same space can be an attractive proposition.

R-9 Sprint
The only Radar-Guided missile that you can fire in tactical, the Sprint requires a Fire Control Radar to fire, and you can only have as many in the air as you have guidance channels; so the low price is actually kind of deceptive.

It cannot target enemy ships, which is a shame because it’s speed would make it a great light ship hunter and also give tactical ships a reason to fit electronics. It’s damage versus cruise missiles is questionable, but you should fire at least one immediately during air defense missions as the exhaust trail will immediately point out which direction the missiles are coming from; much easier to defend yourself when you have an extra second of warning time to fire your guns/dodge.

Sprints are fired in the order you place them, and are treated as unobstructed by the block hosting it. It is possible to stack two layers of Sprint as long as you place them in the correct order.

Sprints can not be elevated: even if they show unobstructed in shipwork, they would detonate within your hull regardless.
Advanced Construction Techniques
There are advanced construction techniques that you may have realized already; to extract more performance than the simple design process done earlier. They do conflict with each other, at least partially, and thus a player will have to pick what to prioritize in their ship.
Advanced Construction Techniques - Weight Reduction
Advanced Armor Schemes

Armor-Armor Interlaced Triangles
(As of 1.1) Armor triangles have the same health as a 1x1 armor block, yet only occupy half the space and a quarter of weight. You can then interlace 2 armor triangles in the same spot for twice the hitpoints. This is extremely strong, but doesn’t double your hitpoints in all scenarios; for one you’ll be eating more blast damage as the blast AOE will affect more triangles, and for another some of the triangles will be attached only to other armor triangles, and thus fall off without having used up their hitpoints. Finally, it is quite a bit more expensive to use.


Fig5c

Armor-Reinforced Hull Triangle Composite
Reinforced hull takes significantly more damage from low caliber bullets and missile blasts than armor, but is significantly lighter in terms of weight. This technique allows one to have most of the benefits of armor vs bullets (and less bullet-hole-in-screen glitches) while using far less mass than solid armor.

This armor is even more vulnerable to blast/AoE than Armor-Armor triangle design.


Fig5d

To mitigate triangular armor's weakness to blast effects, one can add 2x1 plates on top. This is extremely massive obviously, but something I found worth doing on light cruiser-sized ships or the top face of my attack frigates.


Fig5d1, Plate-on-Composite

Ultralight Design
Go to Shipworks (or save your current design then Reset if already in Shipworks). Place a standard hull section, the brown square of the same size as your bridge.

Now do it again, but use a triangle. See this mass difference? The aluminum 2x2 squares are 26 tons, yet the triangles are 12, while both can mount gimbals.

The objective of Ultralight Design is to minimize mass and use the lightest possible hull structure to support a given set of components. The advantages are pretty obvious, especially for smaller ships, but having less connections between sections of hull means that it is easier for your ship to fall apart from damage.

Most support ships will prefer prioritizing Ultralight Design to maximize fuel economy, but Sensor ships may wish to maximize usage of compact volume techniques instead to reduce their volume and therefore sensor signature, allowing them to see the enemy without being seen themselves.

Partial Hull structures do not behave the same way as Full Hull with Z level mechanics, this can be useful or detrimental.

As tactical ships get bigger, however, especially if they mount lots of armor, the small reduction of hull mass becomes meaningless, while the penalty from fragile hulls grows.


♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, u/spectre_nz did an image guide on this. He has given me permission to post it here; massive kudos.







Fig5d2-5d8; once again hat tip to u/spectre_nz on Reddit
Advanced Construction Techniques - Z Level Management
Missiles on external pylons are a common feature on many stock ships, but you are forced into a “use-em or lose-em” scenario with how they are so exposed. Similarly, APS systems stopping the 180mm round from hitting you while your CIWS was reloading feels great, but don’t you wish those $1500 components were better protected? Large fuel tanks are extremely efficient, but it sure sucks that they block your gun’s line of sight. Would be nice if you could just shoot around them.


Fig5b1

There are a total of three types of elevation:

  • Square Active Elevate: fully surround 2X2 or 4X4 full square hull frames can actively elevate them. The new Z-level of the square block is the lowest Z-level of the surrounding blocks +1.
  • Passive Elevate: All 2X2 hull frames can be passively elevated by fully connecting the block. The new Z-level of the 2X2 frame is the lowest Z-level of the connecting blocks. 1X1 triangle hull blocks are also eligible for passive elevation.
  • Gimbal Magic Elevate: All 2X2 or 4X4 hull frames can be magically elevated by having at least one connection to an elevated block and hosting a gimbal component (Turrets excluding A-220, Maneuver Engines), it will get elevated to Z=1 (base Z=0) if it is not elevated yet.

At Z=1 or larger, you may place modules behind Z=0 modules including armor and the modules will still properly function, including static engine, palash, flare, Zenith missile and jammer. The exception is R-9 Sprint, which will detonate within your hull regardless of elevation.

Strategic missiles will turn 2x2 regular hull into silo blocks which cannot be elevated, however, you can use reinforced hull and it will be able to properly elevate the missile, allowing better protection for those precious warheads.

At Z=2 or larger, turrets are unobstructed by large fuel tanks.

At Z=3 or larger, static engines are unobstructed by large fuel tanks.
Advanced Construction Techniques - Triangle Compression
Gimbal-Triangle Volume Conservation
Gimbal components (Turrets, Landing Gear, Gimballed Thrusters) do not actually use the corners of their hull section. Therefore with some foresight one can pair notched hull sections or triangular hull sections and fill the gap using small 1x1 structure triangles, then fit a 2x1 component inside. This effectively “saves” 25% gimballed component’s volume, greatly benefiting the Rule of Compactness!


Fig 5a (Hat tip to u/Facehurt on Reddit!)

However, partial hull sections do not elevate the same way full hull sections do, so it may be difficult to always pair notched hull sections on a larger ship intending to abuse Z level elevation.

Furthermore, due to the way gimballed thrusters block other large components (turrets, other thrusters) it may not always be possible to have all thrusters in paired notched hull structure -and- full torque with all corners filled with thrusters.

Large Triangle-Gimbal Squeezing
This method allows you to squeeze a square 2x2 component such as ammunition box, generator or large quarters and a gimballed component into a 2x3 space, saving 25% of the volume like Triangle-Gimbal method. However, this method allows you to scrape 2 volume per gimbal instead of 1, allowing a higher percentage of your ship to be compressed. Furthermore 2x2 components are usually either lighter or more cost efficient for a given amount of resource.

There is the drawback of reduced connectivity/increased fragility from using this method, even more so than the basic small-triangle gimbal method.

The landing gear is the most permissive module that allows large-large squeezing with any other 2X2 module.


Fig5e

This method apparently applies to Strategic missiles too...


Fig5e1 Credit to u/Sutopia on Reddit/Discord
Adept Tactical Combatant Challenge
OK, now with the above techniques, while maintaining the earlier firepower/speed/thrust stats:
-Use Gimbal-Triangle layouts to squeeze few fuel tanks and FSS between your gimballed components
-Use Z-Level elevation to put 2 Zeniths inside your armor but able to fire
-Use interlaced Reinforced Hull/Armor Triangle layout on your sides, and under a solid top armor belt.
-Put in 5 Palash APS, 1 for top/left/right and the 2 top corners. Oh, and put a Flare launcher point at each corner.
-Put some armor triangles on the bottom. Do not fully block static thrusters - if they give warning signs then you have a problem.

Congratulations! Your ship should look like this!


Fig6, Tigon MkIII-class attack Frigate, available in Google Drive

Good pilots should be able to tackle Small/Medium 5 without any real internal damage, very nice for ~30,000 credits!

And now we move to the less exciting - but no less important - part of ship design, auxiliary ships.
Basic Support Ship Design/Challenge
Support ships want to be as fuel efficient as possible for their capability set (Electronic warfare, Fuel Tankage, Strategic Warfare such as Missile or Aircraft Carrier).

To reiterate what we have learned so far: this means minimizing mass not related to their mission, such as excess structure, and a thruster layout using almost purely static propulsion; retaining a perhaps 1-2 gimballed thrusters (above the centerline) for stability/landing.

Electronics have relatively little weight and can be added to non-tactical ships for the mass penalty of their power generation (may be a good fit for small tankers that have excess power).

Alright, time to design the bread and butter of your logistics - the tanker. Since our frigates that we’ve built so far have a bit over 300km/h cruise speed, go ahead and design a tanker to these specifications:

Fuel burn as low as possible
At least 80% fuel by mass
Cruise speed between 325-375km/h
Leg size appropriate to ship mass
Capital cost is equal to or less than 10% of your Frigate

You should have a ship that sorta looks like this


Fig7a, Butineuse-class tanker Frigate, available in Google Drive

Congratulations! You probably made a ship good enough for long term use; it’s difficult to improve something this simple. It can take care of a handful of fast frigates, extending their range and allowing you to assault multiple light garrisons simultaneously.

“NAOP! I’m tired of building boring tankers! I don’t want to read anymore walls of text! Let me get to building a Ulyanvosk MkXXXIII supercarrier-missile-cruiser!”

Alright, well, time for a tiny ship that can counter death stars (by calling in aid from Gondor a friendly TBM carrier, that is). A stealthy spy ship that can sit deep within an enemy battlegroup’s radar radius undetected, capable of keeping track of the enemy, but fast enough to flee even if chased by fast interceptors, such as the Lightning. Build a ship using both sets of passive sensors - ELINT and IRST, to the following specifications:

Radar Signature [RD Sign] as small as possible
Infrared Signature [IR Sign] as small as possible
Capital cost $10000 or less
Speed at least 700km/h
Unrefueled flight range at least 2500
1500km ELINT range
300km IRST range

Ideally, your result should look like this:


Fig7b, Shikuretto-class stealth reconnaissance Craft, available in Google Drive

The first step to winning strategic warfare is to know the enemy, and a couple of good spy ships are extremely handy for this task. Of course, knowing thyself is the other half of the battle, so more reading inbound...
Strategic Weapons
Aircraft
My favorite strategic weapon, aircraft can easily clean up early game garrisons, defend your fleet against cruise missile/enemy aircraft strikes, soften up tougher opponents, and even scout.

Aircraft (currently) come in 2 varieties, the LA-29 light fighter/bomber and the T-7 supersonic fighter/bomber. Though the T-7 is overall superior, it does occupy more flight deck space and costs more.

They *are* expensive to operate - our HE replicator only makes cannon shells and so we must spend our precious hard-earned ransom money on AAMs, Rockets and Bombs for the aircraft to do anything other than shoot at the target with a pathetic peashooter. Worse, they have a fairly long maintenance/rearm time.

I recommend using 122mm rockets vs light enemy ships, as the sheer amount an aircraft can fire lets them get hits even against evasive craft. Use the higher caliber rockets when attacking Frigates. Bombs are good against both ground targets and Cruisers, but if a bunch of ships with 37mm CIWS are alert expect to lose half your aircraft.

A pair of T-7s armed with AAMs (in my experience) has a 50% chance to pop a cruise missile, which will greatly thin out the number of telephone poles coming towards your AAW picket. Hopefully you brought one of those.

6-8x T-7s with AAMs can demolish a slightly larger enemy aircraft wave with minimal losses. It’s pretty obvious which airframe I prefer, but the LA-29 is still efficient for attacking weak garrison forces. However if you’ve read my guide you should be able to *dominate* those with efficiently built attack ships... So why bring LA-29?

(T-7 Masterrace. Boycott inferior LA-29)

Missiles
Missiles are less flexible than aircraft as you can’t (directly) issue them new orders, they make really poor scouts and are awful at air defense (at least, the non-nuclear versions are)... but they are much cheaper than aircraft, can be worth using against alert groups that would delete half your aircraft, and can be reloaded *much* faster than aircraft can rearm.

The A-100, KH-15 and KH-15P can be used against moving targets. The R-3 is useful when intel tells you of an enemy strike group trying to refuel at a local town. You will need a FCS radar to use the A-100/KH-15 and KH-15P in SARH mode. A friendly platform with FCS radar (like an AAW frigate!) can help paint fast targets trying to evade being beamed by your slower platforms.

A-100 has a short range but extremely high speed, making it hard to dodge. The KH-15 and it’s ARM variant have decent range. Another excellent guide by calacorm will tell you which is useful in what situation, their quirks and how to maximize effectiveness. Since they all occupy the same VLS silo space it’s entirely up to you to decide how to arm your missile ship.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2563638005

EDIT/ADDENDUM:
One thing I noticed missing from Calacorm's guide was missile health; this is very important. A-100 and R-3 have 10hp, twice as much as an Zenith or Nadir AShM. Kh-15 (and it's P variant) have 30hp, which makes them six times as durable as a tactical missile!

Nuclear Missiles
On the strategic map, they behave the same as their conventional variants, but in tactical they can outright delete entire fleets. The only drawback to firing them is the opponent will then shoot nukes back at you. That and the chance of accidentally committing war crimes.

Minor Spoiler: I recommend not bringing nuclear missiles except the A-100N, and only load those up before reaching Khiva.

Spoiler (major?) by co-author: If you're confident in your intel gathering ability, I recommend bringing only KH-15N or KH-15PN. A-100N is only used to counter enemy nuke, but dead enemies can't use nukes. KH-15 series provide 3X HP comparing to A-100, harder for enemy to intercept and have higher chance of dealing severe damage to enemy fleets.

Though there were aircraft-carried nuclear weapons in the game’s preview, they are currently not available in the release version. Hopefully that will change.
Electronics
Radars

The most powerful of the sensor systems available to the player, radars have the unfortunate side effect of being detectable from extreme distances - significantly longer than Radar range - to ELINT systems.

n
MR-700
MR-500
MR-12
MR-2M
Search Radius (Search Area)
750km (1,770,000km2)
500km (785,400km2)
400km (503,000km2)
250km (196,000km2)
Tracking
N
N
Y
Y
Guidance Channels
N/A
N/A
2
1
Power Draw
6MW
2MW
2MW
1MW
$$$
10000
4000
3000
1000

Search Radars have enormous surveillance area, but have problems in discovering targets with small signatures at their full range, and do require the player use pencil/protractor/etc to manually figure out the vector and speed of a given contact.

Fire Control Radars, in addition to being useful when firing off Sprints or directing strategic missiles in SARH mode, have tracking capability. Tracking means they automatically put detected contacts on the plot. No room for pencils and no mistakes.

The number of Guidance Channels available will limit how many missiles you can have in the air at the same time. From the above chart, it becomes clear that for self-defense purposes, i.e. AAW frigate with no strategic missiles, that one should mount at most 1x MR-12 and then if they need additional guidance channels, they can add more MR-2Ms for a 33% discount on additional defensive interceptors they can launch at the same time.

(Personally, I find that there is little difference in intercept rate between firing 3x Sprints and 4x Sprints, and almost no difference between firing 6 and 8. I think 2-3x guidance channels is more than enough for AAW frigates)

In my own usage, the MR-500 is almost useless as it does not offer the tremendous search volume of the MR-700, while the MR-12 - ubiquitous in my doctrine - provide high quality search and track at medium ranges for a lower investment, in addition to their combat capabilties.

Be aware radar ranges are considerably reduced while on the ground; Search Radars lose ~40% of their range and FCS Radars ~20% (I may be wrong about the exact number, have not done extensive testing). High Ground offers better fields of view, after all.

Passive Sensors

Passive sensors are far more conditional than Radar; ELINT needs the opponent to be emitting radio waves and IRST has a very short range. However, as purely passive systems, using them doesn't make you more vulnerable than not using them.

MP-404 costs $4000, weighs in at 44t, draws 2MW and occupies a non-trivial footprint, but offers 2x amplification to enemy radar range if unobstructed.

MP-21 costs $2000, is a much lighter 9t, also draws 2MW and uses half the surface area for 1.4x amplification to enemy radar range if unobstructed.

There is no reason to use MP-21 if MP-404 is available, providing 2.5x distance between ELINT 1 and ELINT danger.

IRS-1 also costs $2000, masses 13t, draws 1MW of power and uses the same footprint as the MP404, and has 300km range. However, it's considerably more compact by vertical measurement, meaning it contributes less to your radar signature. Also, unlike the ELINT systems IRST is -not- omnidirectional, manually turn your knob to find where the opponent's thermal signature is.

Side note: Despite IRST standing for InfraRed Search and Track the ingame IRST systems do -not- offer Tracking function either. Use the power of deduction and manually draw lines on the map with a pencil, Comrade!

Passive sensors have pretty good synergy with each other. When ELINT goes off you know the general direction of an enemy radar and that it's probably about 1500km away. Use that information to point your IRST that way. When the IRST goes off you know it's 300km (or less if you blocked it with structure) away.

Passive sensors require in-depth knowledge of enemies to use effectively. A 1500km ELINT does NOT detect any radar at 1500km. Rather, they amplify enemy radar by 2X. If an SG doesn't have a nomad, you can at most detect it at 1000km (Gryphon, Borey, Negev); If an SG only contains Kormorans, it can surprise you at 366 km (obstructed MR-2M, only 183km range). Similarly, an unobstructed IRST does not guarantee detecting enemy at 300km. Lone trade ships often has only about 100km IR range which allows them to surprise passive scouts easily.

Lastly we have the STA-4 Antenna; the description says it is a high-frequency radio antenna. As the description indicates, it lets you receive transmissions and intercept radio communiques (that may trigger the decoding game). At $10 most players consider them doodads and put at least one down on each ship to break up the monotony, but be careful putting them on the very top of tiny spy ships as they can actually increase your radar cross-section.

Jammer
Unlike the other systems here, jammers don't help you figure out where the opponent is. Instead, they reduce the effectiveness of radar systems within their jamming range. However, it also triggers ELINT, so even if the opponent does not know your precise location, they get a fuzzy idea of where you are (if they have ELINT).

Each Jammer adds 23t of mass and draws a 1MW of power.

Jamming and changing direction can be a powerful move in an SARH-range missile duel, but be careful for the Kh-15Ps. Your jammer will act like a serenade to them, drawing them directly to you!
Basic Aircraft Carrier Challenge
"Finally! I get to create strategic combatants!"

Alright, go ahead and build a very basic escort carrier with the following specifications

-Airwing 8x T-7
-Design Speed ~600kph
-Range at least 2500km
-At least 1 gimballed engine
-Make sure is landable
-Minimize fuel burn and capital cost

You should get something that looks like this:


Fig8a, Wasp MkIIa carrier Frigate available via Google Drive

By now, with your current design skills you should have realized this was very, very easy. Almost trivial, in fact. "NAOP this was too simple, surely we can add some self defense weapons and armor and stuff right so it doesn't explode when hit by a cruise missile or attacked by a corvette, right?"

OK. Go ahead with the following modifications:
-Add 2x 2A37 and 2x AK100
-Separate flight deck from fuel and ammunition with at least 2 grid distance (small hull square distance) via Reinforced Hull.
-Use Light Composite (interlaced reinforced hull/armor triangles) to fully protect the bottom and sides; you will need to either swap to all gimballed engines or use Z elevation (and full 2x2 hull squares to mount) for this.
-Add propulsion to keep design speed at least 450kph
-Add fuel to keep range at least 1500km

Now, show me your design. Post it to imgur/link in the comments section (1). What is your fuel burn? What is the capital cost? What happens to the aircraft (2) if someone sprays your flight deck deck with a bunch of 100mm shells or a missile hits it? Do you think this is half as good in ship-vs-ship as the significantly cheaper attack frigate you built in the Adept Challenge?

Is it worth it for a ship that - as long as you don't screw up - never has to go into tactical, and thus never need the armor or guns?

1) Wow. Nobody tried this? Everyone took me at my word? The Church of Hybrids Suxor rules forever?

2) While you can cheese and bury your aircraft under armor, but then you can't launch them in ship vs ship combat. They do actually distract the opponent in tactical, not to mention that this - and other exploits - might get patched out in the future.
Basic Missile Carrier Challenge
The general construction rules for a strategic Missile Carrier are the same for Aircraft Carriers; you want to minimize waste mass and fuel consumption for a given level of capability.

However unlike aircraft carriers, due to the wide variety in missiles and the ways they can be used, there is significantly more variance in execution. You can construct a stealthy A-100N carrier designed to be undetected well within an enemy's radar bubble, or build a 900+ speed Kh-15 carrier, able to pound an opponent with long range missiles then scoot out of range faster than their own missiles can come after you. Heck, you can even add on 1200+ speed to run away faster than T-7 attack jets can come after you...

But we'll start with a general purpose jack-of-all trades. I personally like a unit that is a bit faster than my attack frigate squadrons so that it can zoom in front of it and rejoin when necessary, and it needs a bit more range for semi-independent operations. You don't need an FCS for ARH shots, but sometimes SARH can come in real handy to paste that Tarantula harassing you at strategic range.

So build a ship to the following specifications:
-Use all applicable campaign-legal ship building methods
-8x bottom VLS filled with 6x Kh-15 and 2x Kh-15P
-Minimize fuel burn
-At least 400 Speed
-At least 2000 Range
-Completely unblocked MR-12 (Optional)
-Landing gear so you can set down and reload your missiles faster


Fig9, the Lyudmila MkIa strategic missile frigate, available via Google Drive

So in this example, I used Large Triangle-Notched Hull to compactly place my missiles, Z-level elevation to stack more D-30S for efficient strategic movement, and some forms of ultralight construction to reduce hull mass.

Once it fires off it's ammunition, the Lyudmila reaches 972 kph, allowing it to outrun Kh-15s at all ranges (as long as it is airborne before they are fired, that is) and even dodge airstrikes at extended range. The radar cross section is too large for it to be performing any Sneeki Breeki ninja moves, but that's something you can build with a smaller missile load and less speed/radar/etc

Notice how 6x Kh-15 + 2x Kh-15P costs $12000, and the FCS another $3000 - the rest of the ship only runs ~$4000. Missile bombardment is even more expensive than aircraft carrier operation, as long as you are not losing your aircraft, that is. However, missile bombardment can be very cost efficient at breaking targets that would cause unacceptable casualties to your aircraft; a bunch of R-3s pasting a landed SG's air defense ships and removing their Sprints from the table makes follow up attacks much easier.

Now, you may be wondering "Ok, since it already has an FCS can I put some Sprints on it, add guns and armor, and make it an air defense ship? I heard A-100s are good for air defense!"

Sort-of. A-100s are actually pretty poor in air defense, imho, they're pretty bad against aircraft squadrons and their intercept rate vs enemy cruise missiles is <50% in my experience, a terrible choice when they cost the same and occupy the same VLS hardpoints. However, it's very nice for your air defense ship to be able to destroy an enemy missile carrier on it's own, and A-100Ns are great at air defense, *cough* spoiler *cough*... but first we must look at what makes a good Air Defense ship tick.

EDIT: After a ton of experimentation, due to the way sensor cones interact with hull and the difficulty of protecting them as I do with my AAW Frigate design it's pretty difficult to build a good AAW picket/missile carrier that is actually better than a pure AAW picket + pure missile carrier without jumping towards cruiser scale vessels, which are too valuable and few in number to be used as AAW pickets...

RIP.

Co-author addend:
KH-15 can use SARH using ANY source of tracking at ANY distance. This means you can send a fast scout with MR-12 forward to target paint the enemy for your missile carrier over 1kkm away to home the missile right in. Planes' yellow circle also count as active tracking, however, you'll need to keep an eye on their fuel (shown as range) if you don't want to crash them on their way back.
Anatomy of Air Defense & AAW Theory
Generally, air attacks are very predictable; aircraft always start from the corners (a wing of up to 3 aircraft will try to dive bomb or dive-rocket you), and strategic missiles generally come from the sides or above you, diving down. However, when combat starts, due to the tiny screen, you can't be sure which corner or side they're attacking from, which is a problem, given you have about 2 seconds before you get hit with a ton of firepower.


Fig10. Red marks danger from both missiles and aircraft, orange marks danger from missiles. Aircraft that survive their first attack run can come in from any angle, but your AAW ship's job is to prevent that.

Actually, aircraft can come in from steeper angles than the red zone indicates, but generally speaking Fig10 is correct about the geometry of an air defense engagement. This means we can protect our FCS radar fairly well (from air attack and somewhat well from missiles) by hiding it underneath our ship, yet still allow it to function at full capacity! Oh, and we want to angle our Sprints at the corners, placed in alternating pairs (missiles launch in order they are placed) to increase probability Sprint will achieve head-on-intercept.

Sprints, while able to obliterate any aircraft or missile when they hit, have a pretty abysmal hit rate against missiles; ~50% or so in my experience; firing 2 raises it to maybe 60-70%; I've missed after firing 4 before, so you don't want to rely too heavily on them. However, they are insanely valuable because they will seek the enemy target before your tiny field of vision shows them; buying you an extra second to aim your guns! Always always fire at least 1x Sprint at the beginning of Air Defense, then point your guns at the smoke trail.

Glancing back at the Turrets section for gun load rates, it becomes pretty obvious that Everready is a game-changer. Many of my readers have told me they have had great success stripping the FCS and missiles off an AAW design, beating up early game corvette garrisons with it until it gets the Everready promotion, then reverting it back into AAW-mode. I have not yet failed a single air defense mission with an Everready AAW frigate.

In my experience 2A37 (with Everready) and AK-100 with Proximity are the best Air Defense guns. AK-725 and D-80 (with Proximity) are also workable, but their slow RoF can hurt against 30HP Kh-15s. This is why they don't really benefit from Everready either; their RoF means they don't put *that* many shells in the air even if Everready.

To summarize, for AAW duty:

(Everready) 2A37 > (Proximity) AK-100 > (Proximity) D-80 > AK-725 > 2A37 > AK-100 > D-80

Since only 1 missile will attack you per combat, and aircraft come in waves of 3, combined with the fact it is much easier to kill an aircraft or missile flying directly into your gunfire or Sprints, my doctrine emphasizes using a singleton AAW ship to block enemy missile or aircraft raids.

AAW Ship Design Challenge
OK. Time to build a basic AAW Frigate. Specifications:
-Faster than your attack frigates
-Bury ammunition deep enough to survive cruise missile hits from top and sides
-At least 1000km range for extended loiter
-Unblocked MR-12 ♥♥♥ on bottom
-At least 12x Sprint, pointed at the corners/red zone angles
-4x turrets, either AK-100 or 2A37


Fig11. Kagami MkII/a class AAW Frigate. Available in Google Drive

My understanding of AAW pickets are still in the middle of evolving; Composite was extremely valuable in the past as aircraft had infinite gun ammo, so it was useful to bounce their peashooters all day, but now that aircraft have been patched to have actual gun magazines... Composite is mediocre vs bombs and cruise missiles, and a bit dubious even against 122mm rocketry. Also, I'm not sure the ammo is actually buried deep enough to survive a direct Kh-15 hit to the side, though it will be OK vs a diving/top attack.

Some members on Discord demonstrated 400kph speed is sufficient to Sudden Strike 100% at noon, so I'm also considering escalating the design speed of my Attack Frigates to 400, which would require the escorting AAW ships (and their tankers and other strategic support vessels) to be have their speed increased as well.
Doctrines & My Personal Fleet Composition
Enemy Unit (ship/fleet) Specifications, player Ship Design, player Piloting Ability, Fleet Composition and Doctrine are interlaced.

Currently: Enemy battlegroups are almost painfully slow, their ships fairly fragile and poorly laid out, and their movement is relatively predictable.

This can be changed with mods. If you don’t want to use mods, it can also change in future balance updates!

I personally group up battle doctrines (and fleet compositions) in this manner:

Silent Hunter Doctrine
-Default things player is told to use on reddit; i.e. turn Radar off
-Dodge strategic missiles/aircraft attacks, use jammer when appropriate
-Try to attack garrisons at night with faster ships
-Try to avoid the enemy heavy fleets unless you can afford casualties and no other fleets are nearby.

Deep Battle Doctrine
-Place stealth reconnaissance craft 2000+ km in front of main fleets for early warning.
-Use attack frigate formations to hunt garrisons.
-Use very fast interceptors to hunt traders without alerting heavy enemy fleets.
-Use aircraft/missile carriers to soften up heavy enemy fleets, then send in heavy ships

Decisive Battle Doctrine
-Place stealth reconnaissance craft ~1000km in front of primary fleets
-Use aircraft to scout long range sensor signatures (i.e. ELINT pings, search radar blips)
-Leave radars on, attract enemy heavy fleets
-Trigger alarm with aircraft (+retreat) before attacking a garrison to alert the enemy
-Use attack frigates to hunt traders, attract enemy heavy fleets
-Detach solo aaw frigate to stand between missiles/aircraft and your battlegroup
-Use aircraft to stand in for aaw frigate when air defense missiles begin to run low
-2x optimized attack frigates melt early SG, minimal repair bill
-ARM + aircraft raids soften up late game SG, then attack frigates go in

Total War Doctrine [WIP]
-Nuclear warfare is hilariously dangerous
-Everything should be stealthy (smol) to avoid getting detected. Not detected = not nuked.
-Ship with 2 guns costs more than a nuclear missile

My Fleet (and downloads)
https://newageofpower.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/highfleet-flotilla-archive-september-14th-2021/
Advanced Tactical Ship Design [WIP]
Shaping

Component Placement

Armor Distribution

Active Defense Usage
< >
58 Comments
CodeNemesis  [author] Oct 22 @ 7:52pm 
The reload data is directly from the game's weapon definition files
CodeNemesis  [author] Oct 22 @ 7:51pm 
It has been covered in Advanced Construction Techniques - Z Level Management
jodavaho Oct 17 @ 1:26pm 
You may want to add the engine elevation tricks to the shipbuilding section. It allows fully enclosing engines with armor or framing.

See https://old.reddit.com/r/Highfleet/comments/qa2yy0/i_didnt_realize_you_could_enclose_static/
Noam Chomsky Oct 4 @ 8:29am 
Also, may I ask where the Reload data from guns comes from?
Noam Chomsky Sep 28 @ 9:12am 
LOVE this guide! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Will you consider doing a YT playthrough?
xkiarofl Sep 23 @ 7:07pm 
Will you be completing the Advanced Tactical Ship Design section?
This is an amazing guide, by the way. I feel much more confident in designing ships now.
Loregamorl Sep 21 @ 8:44am 
Ik the Total War Doctrine isnt finished but Id also like to add maybe having a single capital ship that trails behind your small ship fleet, the small ships clear out a path for the big ship, and if need be they fall back to the big ship.

And when there is a missile heading towards your fleet you can try scattering your ships too, just make sure the missile doesnt go for an irreplacable ship like your missile ships since losing a nuke is bad
CodeNemesis  [author] Sep 20 @ 5:08pm 
Hey NAOP time to sort out the "Glitched" section! 1.13 told us what is intended and what is not!
Ranamar Sep 19 @ 3:36pm 
After a bit of investigation, I'm convinced that, while the RD-51 is competitive with the D-30S on heavier ships, RD59 is only usable with the special Sevastopol large hull sections, if anything. The RD-59 is almost 200 tons heavier than the RD-51, and, even with the absurdly heavy large hull section required to mount them, that's a whopping 20-25% heavier. Add in the fact that it produces around 18% less thrust and you're sunk: Despite using half the fuel for slightly less than a third of the thrust output, the fact that a D-30 and its hardpoint weigh something like 10% as much makes the smaller thruster turn out to still be more fuel-efficient. (Admittedly, the hardware will cost twice as much.) Only being able to fit half the thrust into the 4x4 space doesn't matter because you undoubtedly have other 2x2 logistical footprint to scatter it through, and you may also be a little more compact overall with triangle packing.
BeltfedVendetta Sep 9 @ 10:26am 
"This is assuming you are building a sane ship under 200k of cost, ofc..."

So... Not my 800 meter long, 500,000 weight 1.4 million gold dreadnought?