After two successful runs and a bunch of failed ones, this HighFleet Beginners Guide will help the new gamers.
I will be talking about everything, even obvious stuff, just to clear out any possible pieces of misinformation and to make every system’s functioning crystal clear. However, even I am not all-knowing and when I have too little experience with something or have not come to a clear conclusion about how some game system or another functions for another reason, I will say so.
Strategic Layer – What’s on the map?
So, let’s start with the strategic layer.
This displays a map and a bunch of instruments surrounding it. Let’s start with explaining the stuff on the map.
The map shows cities occupied by the Gathering, roughly clustered into groups of cities surrounding one fleet HQ per cluster. The northernmost cluster surrounds Khiva, your ultimate goal. Every city has a garrison and a special perk. Some cities trigger random or story events when landing and some contain Tarkhans, who are potential allies.
Garrisons consist of a number of hostile ships that do not respawn. They will however repair any damage sustained, although very slowly. They have a low strategic range, which means that they cannot leave their city to pursue you across the map, but they will try to intercept you when your position is revealed close to the city. Garrisons get stronger the further north you go, but they (almost?) never contain ships with sensors, neither radar nor even infrared. This means that they notice you only when you enter visual range. Once they spot you, they try to raise the alarm, which takes some time. If you manage to attack them before they raise the alarm, you get a sudden strike. The probability of successfully performing a sudden strike is displayed on the lower right corner of the UI for the ships you have currently selected. You can flip a bunch of switches to calculate the chance of a sudden strike if the enemy has infrared or radar, but this is mostly pointless; The only way to successfully hit an enemy equipped with these advanced sensor is by using a very small and very fast ship. But since the only enemies equipped with advanced sensors are very powerful ones, you most likely can’t beat them with small and fast ships anyway.
A sudden strike means that, if you win the battle, the alarm is not raised and your position thus not revealed to all nearby enemy fleets and the enemy are landed at the beginning of combat. The latter is useful if you want to bomb them and if they have exposed topsides, but they start loading their weapons and shooting at you just as quickly as in a normal battle, so don’t get too cocky – you will have less than ten seconds of undisturbed shooting at them.
As I mentioned, every city has a special perk. These are: Fleet HQ, Fuel Depot, Faster Repairs, Rare Parts, Reinforcements, Intel. There are also Hidden Cities.
Fleet HQ: Conquering a fleet HQ and landing there for the first time creates a checkpoint that allows you to continue the campaign from there if you fail or abandon the run. Conquering a fleet HQ also always grants you a bunch of nuclear missiles which you can either use or, more likely, immediately sell for a huge windfall.
Fuel Depot: Fuel is cheaper here. To be precise: In a normal city, fuel costs about 1,3$, at a fuel depot only about 0,8$ (I will use the Dollar sign for convenience). You should always refuel your ships to the brim when at a fuel depot!
Faster Repairs: This city has a large amount of vastly better landing spots than a normal city. I will explain repairs later.
Rare Parts: This city has large amount of ship parts and, as the name suggests, rare ones as well. “Rare” here means everything but basic hull parts, chassis parts, armour, fuel tanks, engines, antennae and escape pods. So if you need electronic equipment, missiles of any kind, new fighters etc, you need to buy them here. You should carry a stock of rare parts on your flagship at all times (and basic parts as well).
Reinforcements: This city has ships for sale. You don’t automatically gain reinforcements when conquering it, just to make that clear.
Intel: Conquering this city grants 5 intel points. Intel points are stored in a city and can only be used when landed there. They regenerate over time up to the maximum of 5, which means that you can return to an Intel City later to use them again. I will explain Intel later.
Hidden Cities are not displayed on the map. They are, surprise, hidden somewhere in the desert. I have no idea how many there, but you get a few gifts when you get there and can hide from the enemy. You can either find them by using the ground radar (pretty much impossible without clues), or by asking a Tarkhan of the Hidden People about their location (explained later).
Danger levels: When staying at a city for too long, a yellow “Danger” sign starts flashing below its name. This means that there is now some risk of enemy informants in the city broadcasting your position. If and when this happens, you are notified by Pyotr. Over time, the flashing sign becomes red, which means that the risk is now even higher and eventually turns into a red flashing “hostile” sign, meaning it is now very likely that your position will be revealed. Danger levels do not decrease over time when you leave the city.
The last thing on the map are enemy flight groups. Every flight group has a callsign (name) and is either a Transport, Strike Group, Aircraft Carrier Group or Missile Carrier Group. They do not respawn (Transport possibly do, but I’m about 60% sure they don’t either).
Transport: A transport group consists of a transport ship and usually a few light escort ships. Destroying all escorts allows you to capture the transport ship. Bringing a captured transport ship to a city automatically sells it for about 10-20k$. Beware! Being attacked or attacking a garrison while having a captured transport in your group means the transport switches sides again! If you are attacked by fighters or cruise missiles with a transport in your group, the transport will not switch sides but will be a priority target and very likely get destroyed. The same applies to attacking an enemy transport group with fighters or cruise missiles yourself, so you better don’t do that. Transports are cheats, too, as they will always and immediately raise the alarm as soon as you enter visual range, no matter how small or fast your ships are. I hope this gets patched out someday, but who knows.
Transports move at varying speeds but no faster than 170km/h.
Strike Group: These are groups of three to five light to medium cruisers and there are five in total. They have a lot of firepower but are still far outclassed by the heavy Sevastopol cruiser. I have at some point become so good at the game that I started hunting them down myself, but you’re actually supposed to avoid them while they are hunting you. As soon as your position is revealed for some reason, every strike group within a certain distance (if I had to guess I’d say 2000km, but I really don’t know) starts moving there, but veeery slowly. Strike groups are always equipped with radar, infrared and elint systems and carry cruise missiles. They move at between 90 and 110 km/h.
Aircraft Carrier Group: A group of small to medium ships and one aircraft carrier. They can move around but usually stay in one city. Their fighters have an operational range of 2000km and they launch them at you as soon as your position is revealed. They replace lost fighters, I think, but relatively slowly. If you can catch them in battle, they are easily destroyed. The best defence against enemy fighters are anti-air missiles or fighters of your own. I will get to fighter combat later. I’m not sure about their electronic equipment, but they likely have at least elint and infrared sensors. They move at about 150km/h.
Missile Carrier Group: A group of small escorts and medium ships carrying cruise missiles. They mostly stay put, like AC Groups, but can move around as well. Like with AC groups, I’m not too sure about their electronics, but they likely have elint and radar and possibly infrared. They will launch missiles at you until they run out. They are very vulnerable in battle but quite fast and thus able to evade fighter-launched bombs and missiles. They probably move at speeds around 200km/h.
Strategic Layer – The UI
The map is surrounding by various UI elements. Let’s go through them clockwise – but start with another UI element on the map for the sake of completeness:
The blue circle around your currently selected flight group displays it’s maximum flight range!
Here’s a useful fact added by user Get: “Fuel circles don’t take into account the fact that you use a bit of fuel to take-off. That’s why parked ships sometimes seem to lose range, though the dev is patching this.”
Now, the upper right hand side has the comm system. Click on the “InterCom” button to see all your allies and ask them for favors. I will go into more detail later. Below the intercom is a temperature scale, which serves no gameplay purpose. Next to these two is the clock, which shows the time (say what?). It also turns red whenever the alarm has been raised by the enemy. The alarm will go down when the end of the red “alarm time” has been reached. As long as the alarm is raised, you cannot perform sudden strikes. All enemies, including garrisons, will immediately raise the alarm when you enter visual range and take off. You can’t even surprise them on the ground with fighters.
Next up is the missile control system. It shows the currently selected type of missile. You can switch to other equipped types with the wheel. The switches are used to arm the missiles, at which point you need to aim them on the map, which conveniently displays the missiles’ max range. Once you armed and aimed them, use the big red “Launch” button to launch them. They will not launch all at once but one by one, so overwhelming enemy defences with a large volley is not possible.
Below the MCS is the fleet display. This shows your currently selected ships and a rough display of their current repair status on a small monitor. On the monitor, you can see the amount of Anti-Ship-Missiles (ASM) and Anti-Air-Missiles (AAM) carried by your selection, the amount of crew members as a percentage of the minimum required for all systems to operate normally, the currently selected ships’ average morale (or lowest, not sure right now?), their rest status and, lastly, the max speed (SPD) and range (RNG) of the current selection of ships. Morale and rest will be explained later. Below this monitor is the “detachment fuel stock” in percent. The buttons below are the “Fueling Control” used to quickly set the desired amount to 100% or 50%, while the wheel to the right is used to fine-tune the desired amount. If the whole flight group does not have enough fuel to fill the selected detachment up to the desired amount, the fuel stock will display the maximum amount possible when you click “100%”.
Below is a list of all the ships in the currently selected flight group. Click individual ships here to create detachments by LEFT clicking on the map with the desired ship(s) selected. On the map you will see two yellow circles whenever you select indivual (groups) of ships. The outer circle is the detachment’s maximum flight range, the inner circle shows at which point they will have used half their fuel, which would allow them to return to wherever they currently are.
Below every ship listing, there’s a little light with the word “morale” next to it. If a ship’s morale is below 5 or 6, this glows yellow. If it’s below 3 or 4, this glows red.
In the lowest right-hand corner displays the current selection’s sudden strike probability if the enemy are relying on visual identification or, if you flip the different switches, if they rely on radar (short or long range, this depends on their hardware) or infrared sensors (IRST). I explained sudden strikes above.
Next up are flight controls. The big red lever labeled “Thrust” controls your flight speed and height. By default it’s set to max thrust and altitude, which allows for the highest speed at the lowest fuel usage. If the lever is all the way down, you have landed. Everything in between has your ships flying closer to the ground, which means they are harder to detect but also slower and using more fuel per distance travelled.
Next to the lever is a physical display of your current flight speed and purely cosmetic display showing your turbines’ rounds-per-minute. There’s also a green light which says that you’re in the air or a red light which says you have landed.
Below these is a large handle that opens the hatch. This only works if you are currently in a town and landed and allows you to actually land your ship(s) and enter the town.
Next to this hatch is a tiny display showing the coordinates at your mouse cursors current position. I failed to notice this until well into my third or fourth game …
The lowest part of the UI shows your fuel. The indicator labelled “fuel stock” shows how full your tanks are. Below are two warning lights that tell you that you are currently refuelling and/or that your fuel is low. Both are also accompanied by annoying warning sounds. The left part of the fuel display shows you how far you can go with your current fuel stock (blue) and how far you will be able to go once all the fuel currently being pumped into your ship(s) is inside the tanks (yellow). If you have more fuel than tank capacity at your current location, this will actually be faulty and overestimate your eventual maximum flight range.
To the right of the fuel lights is a plate that says “Aircraft Group” and a button with an arrow on it. I will explain this when I talk about fighters.
The next element is the green thingy showing your funds and repair parts. Funds are self-explanatory, but repair parts are used to speed up repairs. I don’t know by how much or how quickly they are used up. You get them by asking your allies for them or by disassembling the hull when butchering downed ships.
Above are your drawing tools. Use the eraser to erase stuff, the pencil to mark points and create notes, the ruler to draw straight lines and the divider to draw circles around a point. The ruler comes with a distance measurement but displays this only while drawing. The divider shows distances permanently. You should also use a sheet and pencil in real life to take notes of any enemy callsigns you come across and a little note about which type of flight group it is (if you know).
Next up are the electronic warfare tools.
Strategic Layer – Electronic Warfare – Part 1: The Radio
Alright, let’s dive in. First a little overview. The different available tools are:
– IRST aka Infrared
The radio has it’s own interface which is opened by clicking on the receiver dangling around next to the radar display. Whenever a radio signal is picked up, the game automatically pauses, selects the flight group that picked the signal up, an alarm sounds and the red light on the receiver starts blinking. So let’s open the radio interface.
The topmost UI element shows you how much time is left to intercept the message before loosing the signal. This occasionally jumps around for unclear reasons. Below is the tuning tool. First, you select the bandwidth using one of the three buttons. The correct one has a blinking light for your convenience. Next, you use the dial (with your mousewheel) to fine tune the frequency until your radio is tuned to the same frequency as the message. The number below the wheel displays your exact current frequency, but this is of secondary importance. The small gauge telling you the signal strength right next to it is far more important, as the signal strength goes up the closer you get to the correct frequency. Once you have are tuned in to the correct frequency, the direction finder starts beeping and flashing a blue light.
Now, you need to rotate your antenna into the right direction with the strange wheel that says “bearing” above it. The gauge next to it shows you the signal strength and once you got it right, the blue light below the “save” button starts glowing. Click the save button and the message is shown. Now, here’s something I failed to notice when first playing the game: The current bearing of your antenna is displayed on the map and this is extremely important for knowing where the signal is coming from. You can pick up radio signals at a distance of about 2000km and when you draw a straight line from your position in the direction of the signal, you will eventually hit a city and therefore know the sender’s current position, even if you can’t tell it from the intercepted message.
If you’re lazy, you can alternatively use the “auto intercept” button to skip all this, but as it says on a red warning ground next to it, part of the message will be lost – and you also won’t be able to tell where the message is coming from!
So you intercepted a message – now what? Let’s analyse different messages’ contents. There’s essentially two types of messages. First, those sent by the enemy, second, those sent by Tarkhans. The second one always says “Son of Sayadi wishes to meet with you” and tells you that a potential ally is waiting for you to meet them in the city from which the signal originated. If you auto-intercept this, all you know is that there’s a Tarkhan in a city within 2000km, but if you rotated your antenna in the right direction, you now know exactly where to go.
The messages sent by the enemy are more interesting. They all follow the same pattern:
MESSAGE MESSAGE MESSAGE MESSAGE
The most important piece of information is who the sender is, because, since you dilligently took note of all enemy callsigns and the type of enemy behind them on a sheet of paper, you can tell if the message was sent by a transport, a strike group or a carrier group. This immediately tells you to avoid or visit an area.
You can also tell from the message which type of flight group sent it and thus note it on your sheet. Transports usually talk about cargo they carry while battle groups send out warnings about your current position. Both broadcast the routes they will take and ask for fuel, water or repairs, so you can’t tell which type of flight group it is from that. Sometimes, the sender will tell the receiver where they are going and that they attempt to rendezvous, so you now know the location of both the sender and the receiver. Messages frequently contain either an ETA (“will be in XYZ in 8h”) or the sender’s travel speed (“going at 110”) which allows you to calculate where they will be at a certain time. Using the ETA, you can calculate the sender’s speed, too, allowing you to identify them as a specific type of flight group, as different types have different max speeds.
As I mentioned, enemy strike groups broadcast warnings about your position – which you can in turn use to determine the enemy’s position. If the enemy message says, for example “unknown ship detected, bearing 90 range 800”, you now know that relative to them, you are at 90° at a distance of 800km. This means that you are straight east of them – they, in turn, are obviously straight west of you at a distance of 800km, which might be convenient to know to send a bunch of fighters or missiles their way or to make a sudden change in direction so they will lose you.
At some point, the enemy will start encrypting their messages and occasionally change ciphers again. You will notice this by Pyotr telling you and also from the sudden mumbo-jumbo in intercepted messages. The encryption they use is thankfully extremely basic and can easily be decoded with your convenient sheet of all encountered callsigns.
To decrypt enemy messages, use the four wheels in the radio interface labelled “Decryptor”.
Turning on the of the four wheels shifts the letters in the encrypted message up or down the alphabet. So let’s say the message is supposed to say “MATTOFRANK”. Every fourth letter is linked to one of the wheels, so the first wheel controls “M***O***N*”, the second wheel controls “*A***F***K” and so on. Which letters are linked to the wheel you are currently manipulating is shown in the message (the letters turn red). Now, let’s say, for simplicity’s sake that the cipher used is 001-002-003-004, which means that the letters linked to the first wheel are shifted by 1 (A becomes B, M becomes N), the letters linked to the second by 2 (A becomes C, M becomes O) and so on. Instead of “MATTOFRANK” the message now reads “NCWXPHUEOM”. Dialing the decryptor to 001-002-003-004 would make the message readible again, but how do you know the cypher? Well, either you search radio rooms on downed enemy ships and find parts of cyphers, that eventually add up to the whole thing (you access a tool for sorting the burned cypher-sheet fragments by clicking “Cipher Key” next to the decryptor-wheels, after that it’s pretty self-explanatory). Or you take a look at your convenient callsign sheet and start guessing. The receiver of the message is, let’s say, a four-letter-word? One look at my callsign sheet tells me that the only four-letter-callsigns I encountered are AMUR, EMIR, KEDR, RUBY, URAL and VEGA, but VEGA and KEDR have long been destroyed. So now I start turning the decryptor wheels until the receiver is AMUR. The rest of the message is still nonsensical, so I continue to EMIR. Same problem. I skip KEDR, since it has been destroyed and try RUBY. Tada, the message is now clear and I cracked the code without having to search a radio room!
Strategic Layer – Electronic Warfare – Part 2: Infrared & Radar
Next up are sensor systems. Surrounding every on of your flight groups is a yellow circle. This is your tracking range, meaning every enemy object entering this circle is immediately identified and displayed on the map. Not all sensor systems can track, however, but let’s go through them.
Let’s start with the most basic one – vision. Visual range is 100km during the day, 80km at night. Everything that enters visual range is immediately identified and tracked. This works both ways, though, but I talked about that in the part about sudden strikes above.
Next up is IRST or Infrared Search and Track. This is a pretty cheap sensor and undetectable by enemy ELINT, but with limited range and a very limited amount of information.
The module that grants you infrared capability is the “IRS-1 MARS IRST” at 2000$ a piece. It’s max range is 300km.
The IRST interface is located in the lower left-hand corner of the UI. The red flickering circle shows all heat signals picked up all around you. The triangular element shows you which area of your surroundings is projected onto the little monitor above it which can track heat signatures over time. As soon as an extraordinarily strong signals is picked up, the little blue “contact” light starts blinking, the game pauses and you get a warning. When you look carefully at the flickering red circle, you will now notice a heat spike somewhere, which tells you the direction of the contact. Tune your triangle-cone-thing onto this spike with the wheel to the right and unpause the game. You will now see a line of bright red dots on the rectangular monitor. This is the contact relative to you over time. If the line is straight, you and the infrared contact have the same bearing or are exactly reversed, or, in other words, you are following it exactly or it’s coming straight at you. If the line is crooked, you can defer the contact’s direction by taking a closer look at it. Let’s say, for convenience, that your IRST is tuned to 0° to 40°. The dots first appeared at 0° and are moving towards 40° on the rectangular monitor. This tells you that your contact is moving southeast relative to you and you’re moving northwest relative to it. If you change direction towards the contact and adjust your course every so often, you will eventually be able to catch them using the IRST alone.
You can also tell what kind of an object has been picked up by how fast the contact moves. You will immediately know the difference between a flight group and fighter group or missile by the very obvious difference in speed.
Now to radar. There are actually two types of radar, long range search radars and short range fire control radars. Both grant you radar capability, but only fire control radars (F.C.R.) increase your tracking range (the yellow circle, to remind you) and are also required to use anti-air-missiles (AAM). The two options for fire control radars are the MR-2M at an affordable 1000$ with a max range of 300km or the larger MR12 at 3000$ with a max range of 400km. The MR-2M allows for one AAM in the air at a time, the MR12 allows for two – I think. You can add as many F.C.R. to a ship as you want to increase the amount of AAM you can fire at once – I think. The two kinds of long range search radars are the MR-500 at 4000$ and the MR-700 at 10000$ with a max range of 500 and 750 (!) km respectively but no tracking capability, as I mentioned.
But how does radar work and why are there so many buttons? The radar UI consists most prominently of a large orange circle divided into sectors which are replicated on the map around your fleet. When a radar picks up a signal, you get a warning, the game pauses and the blue contact light next to the radar interface starts blinking. You will notice a signal displayed as a bright line on the orange radar display popping up whenever the circling line passes it. The size of the line tells you roughly how strong the signal is and allows you to tell the difference between a missile, a transport or a strike group, but not much more than that. You will also know where the contact is if you compare its position on the radar display with the radar overlay on the map and mark it with the pencil. The best way to further identify the contact now is to wait for half an hour and take a look at where the signal has moved. You can then draw a line between the two contacts on the map, measure the distance between them and calculate the speed at which the object travels. That’s the basics of the radar.
Onwards to the buttons. Above the contact light is a switch allowing you to go from air to ground radar. The ground radar displays hills, roads and cities and I suppose it’s used to find hidden cities. The air radar shows anything in the air, which is rather more useful. The red buttons allow you to perform one single radar sweep, turn on continuous radar sweeping or, by not selecting either, turn the radar off. Next to the red buttons is the sector search interface. Here you can switch from an allround 360° sweep to a more focused cone-sweep in a specific direction. This only sends your radar signal in a single direction and also increases the sweep interval, which is useful for tracking very fast targets. The wheel is used to adjust the search sector.
Now the radar is a very convenient and long-range sensor, but unfortunately it’s also very easily detected, which brings us to ELINT.
Strategic Layer – Electronic Warfare – Part 3: ELINT & Jammer
ELINT, aka Electronic Intelligence, is used to detect radar emissions. The ELINT interface is next to the radio receiver and consists of an innermost circle comprised of two alarm lights, an outer half-circle divided into five parts and an outermost circle showing the potential contact’s relative location.
ELINT modules come in two variants, the MP21 for 2000$ with a max range of 1050km and the MP404 for 4000$ with a max range of 1500km.
The alarm lights of the innermost circle say “Alert” and “Danger Close”. The alert light starts glowing as soon as a radar emission is detected, which also causes an alarm sound to go off and the game to pause, while the danger close light starts glowing as soon as a contact comes very close – although it’s unclear to me how close exactly this is. User Get suggests that “Danger Close” lights up as soon as you are pinged by the enemy (you enter tracking range), but I don’t know if this is actually the case. Could well be, though. The half-circle divided into five sectors gives you a rough estimation about how close the signal is, between max range (only one of the sectors glows yellow) and some other range (all of the sectors glow yellow) which I suspect is either 500km or half the ELINT’s max range, but definitely not one fifth of the max range. To explain this more clearly (if my theory is correct), let’s say your max ELINT range is 1000km and you just picked up a radar emission. One sector is now glowing, the enemy is 1000km away. After one hour, the second sector starts glowing, the enemy is now less than 900km away. Then the third sector starts glowin, meaning the enemy is now less than 800km away and so on, until all sectors are glowing and the enemy is less than 600km away. Danger Close starts glowing, so the enemy is now less than 500km away. At less than 500km, the assumption is probably that whatever ship has an ELINT installed will now be able to see the enemy on the also installed radar system, which is why the gauge is so weird. The outermost circle shows roughly where the radar emission is coming from. You can also pick up several emissions at once, which leads to several direction lights glowing, but the distance shown is always the closest emission.
ELINT is the reason you may want to turn off your radar (so are anti-radar missiles, but more on that later) or turn on the sector search and turn your radar away from enemy ELINT systems. The enemy never turn off their radar, btw, so if you have an ELINT yourself, you will always get an advance warning about advanced enemy ships approaching.
Lastly, the Jammer, also known as Electronic Counter Measures or ECM. If you have one installed, a button appears next to the ELINT interface allowing you to turn it on or off. Turning it on floods all enemy radar within 4000km with signals, thus obscuring the exact position and size of anything between the jammer and those radars. Unfortunately, any radar can roughly tell where the signal is coming from and ELINT’s will go off like crazy, so you just turned yourself into a very bright target. Which is possibly what you want, in order to lure an enemy strike group away from your main fleet. A jammer also confuses the hell out of enemy cruise missiles and they won’t be able to target you anymore – except if they’re anti-radar missiles, in which case they will home straight in and hit you.
Strategic Layer – Morale, Diplomacy & Intel
Enough with the complicated stuff. As promised, I will now explain morale and diplomacy in more detail.
Morale is linked to individual ships and can vary between 0 and 10. If morale is 0, the ship’s crew will not enter battle. That’s it, there is no other effect to morale.
Morale goes down when entering or restarting battle. It goes up again by resting, which is what the “rest” thing below the morale display with the percentage next to it shows. Just being landed in a city automatically counts as resting. When 100% are reached, morale goes up by one and the counter restarts. If you take off while morale is being regenerated, the percentage value freezes and you can continue resting the next time you land.
Morale can go up and down for all ships at once through certain events and decisions as well.
Diplomacy is a bit more complicated. Whenever you meet a Tarkhan and you want to recruit them, a mini-game of cards begins. You play for five rounds, the goal is to gain at least one or better yet up to four stars with them before you run out of time. You can say specific things or grant gifts. You gain points by saying things the Tarkhan likes and the more things you say in a row that they like, the better a bonus you get (this is what “Good Speech” means). What a specific Tarkhan likes or dislikes is unknown to you when the talks begin, but you can tell a bit from their appearance and their short introduction scene. You can also look it up online or use your experience from previous runs.
Every round, you get a random amount and set of cards, each of which allows you to make a specific point. Every time you say something, the Tarkhan will gain or lose one or two points of sympathy, depending on whether they like or dislike what they hear, and you will gain or loose certain personal values. If you played a specific card (said something) before, the next time you say it, the Tarkhan will be less impressed, but you can safely do this again and again anyway to keep up your “Good Speech”! Granting a gift automatically adds one round (on addition to the round in which you granted the gift, which you can use again, too), whether the Tarkhan likes the gift or not. Whether they like it or not just adds or removes sympathy and can continue or break your “Good Speech”. Every gift corresponds to a specific value. The empire cross is liked by Romani sympathizers, the Gerat banner by Elaim sympathizers. The bronze icon is liked by the faithful, the golden elephant by those that value wealth. The gilded dagger is a symbol of force.
Now saying specific things changes your personal values (and those of your crew), but this doesn’t really matter. I tried to go full on Faith, Order and Gerat in a run, saying only positive stuff about these topics, even at the cost of allies, and taking decisions that increased those values even more. I had all of them at between 2 and 5, yet all they are good for is increasing or decreasing global morale if you take certain decisions (which happens about 2-3 times total) or increasing or decreasing global morale if you fail an RNG test during a speech which you can base off different values. But even though I had Faith 4, i still had only a 50% chance of success when doing the faith-speech, sooo … Your values have no bearing on how effective your cards are or how much Tarkhans may like or dislike you from the start. Currently, the system is almost wholly pointless.
Okay, back to diplomacy. Once the talks end, you need to have the Tarkhan on at least one star for them to join you otherwise they will either leave or stay there so you can try again (which was/is a bug I’m sure). If they join you, you will gain a free ship, a little money and a new ally to call on with the InterCom.
The InterCom in more detail: When selecting the InterCom, all your allies and your standing with them is displayed. Through certain events, some of the characters displayed there can gain or lose stars, but most of them have the stars they join you with and that’s it. For every star, you can ask them for one favor, which differs from ally to ally. For every star left when you reach Khiva, each ally will grant you a free ship for the final showdown, but since you are flooded with free allied ships wherever you go at that point anyway, you shouldn’t focus too much on that.
The different favors are:
Ask for Support: Increase global morale by 5.
Ask for Reinforcements: One or two free ships spawned into your currently selected flight group!!!
Ask for Intel: Gain 5 intel points in the city your currently selected flight group is landed. You need to be landed for this to work.
Ask for Shelter: Reveals a Hidden City nearby
Ask for Faster Repairs: Gain about 300 or so repair parts.
Now for Intel.
You can use intel points to reveal enemy flight groups on the map. Revealing a transport costs 1 point, revealing a tactical group (aircraft and missile carrier groups) costs 2 and revealing a strike group costs 3 points. If you click the specific button and nothing happens, there are no flight groups of the selected type close enough to reveal (or even none left on the map if you’re really combative). When a flight group is revealed, you get the following information about them:
Type, callsign, current location, current speed, current bearing and maybe their planned route. Use this information to intercept or avoid the enemy and to fill out your convenient callsign sheet.
Strategic Layer – Missiles & Fighters
Finally the time has come for some explosives. Let me explain strategic missiles and fighter aircraft.
There are four types of strategic missiles, although you will encounter only three of them in the actual game. The fourth one is the R-3 ballistic missile carried by the big bad missile carriers of the end game, but since them launching one means the end of the game, there’s little point in talking about them here.
Alright, so there are three types of strategic missiles!
Each of these comes as a normal and nuclear version, but both versions behave the same until detonating. They are fired from the strategic map and the view switches to tactical once they find a target, at which point they can be shot down with AAM or projectile weapons (37mm minigun or 57mm autocannon are best suited) or very rarely even evaded.
The A-100 has a range of only 400km and has no in-built targeting system, so it relies on a nearby fire control radar to guide it to the target. It also moves with more than 4000km/h and will thus very much instantly hit the target, whether that is the enemy or you. Don’t try to evade it – turn on the jammer, fire off a whole lot of AAM or brace for impact. Since they are guided with an F.C.R., they can probably be used to shoot down enemy fighter squadrons or other cruise missiles, although I have not tried it.
The Kh-15 and Kh-15P have a range of 1600km and move at 900km/h.
The Kh-15 has its own built-in radar which it uses to home in on any target it finds. It detects enemy flight groups both on the ground and in the air but cannot hit anything if affected by a jammer.
The Kh-15P is the opposite; it detects radar emissions and homes in on them. It can thus only be used to target enemies with a radar, which means mostly enemy strike groups. This missile is also the reason that turning on a jammer as soon as a missile is detected might backfire, since the Kh-15P will simply home in on the jammer. Except if you want that, as it might actually be a legit diversion tactic. An essential piece of information is that you need to turn off your own radar and jammer or the missile may turn around and hit you! If the enemy in turn is targeting you with a Kh-15P, you can simply turn off your radar (and jammer) and it will fly around confused until it runs out of fuel and crashes into the desert. There is no way of knowing if you are being targeted by a Kh-15 or the P-variant beforehand, though.
Another essential piece of information is that both of these missiles only activate their targeting systems once they get within 100km of the point you launched them at. This is to allow them to bypass other potential targets between you and their intended goal, I suppose, but it also means that you either need to aim them way short or know rather precisely where the enemy is before targeting them or they will go to waste.
Any strategic missile has enough explosive power to instantly destroy a small ship and severely damage a medium to large one. I highly recommend using them against enemy strike groups.
Nuclear missiles obviously have absurd explosive power, but using them means the enemy will start using them as well, which means you’re ♥♥♥♥♥♥. So don’t do that before you destroyed the enemy’s strategic missile capabilities, at which point you will have little use for nukes anyway as the enemy is pretty much beaten, but oh well. They are sort of fun.
Onwards to fighters.
Fighter aircraft come in two variants, the LA-29 at 2000$ and the vastly superior in every way T-7 at 2500$.
You launch either of them from your carriers by clicking on the aforementioned arrow-marked button next to the plate saying “Aircraft Group” around the lower right-hand corner of the UI. This opens a far too large extra-UI with room for about a dozen elements which never contains more than three tiny elements in reality. Here, your aircraft are listed, sorted into LA-29, T-7 and craft currently being refueled, no matter their actual type. If you want to send a fighter, click the desired type (T-7, obviously), select the desired armament and send it to its destination on the map. You may send as many fighters as you have with as diverse an armament as you want and of both types all at once, but I recommend sending them in groups of three. The reason is that in actual battle, they attack in squadrons of three and the rest just bum around all over the map waiting to get shot down.
You can also launch fighters during a battle if your carrier is being attacked by pushing the X button on your keyboard. They will use their default autocannons or missiles, if you have any. Maybe also bombs, but I have never seen that. However, you should really avoid going into close combat with your carriers.
Both types of fighters have an operational range of 4000km, which means that they can strike out at a distance of 2000km and return to their carrier or fly around closer to their carrier for a really long time. You can use them to attack the enemy directly, to intercept enemy fighters or missiles (although they actually suck at destroying missiles for some reason) or as scouts. There is a range of weapons available for fighters which you need to buy in cities (where you buy and sell other types of ammo as well). Here’s the list:
37mm Autocannon: Unlimited ammo but limited use. Used in dogfights to limited effect, used against ships to even more limited effect.
Air-to-Air-Missiles: Theoretically useful against strategic missiles but somehow sort of bad against those, but extremely powerful against enemy aircraft. It releases a shotgun blast in front of the enemy which destroys 2-3 fighters in one shot.
Air-to-“Ground”-Missiles: Very effective against grounded and large targets, also usable against somewhat evasive medium targets but still too slow to hit agile ships. The heavier variant has more boom but the lighter variant is carried and fired in larger numbers, which makes them pretty much equal.
Bombs: Very effective against grounded and large targets, rather useless against evading enemies. Potentially deadly because they hit the topside of their target which is often extremely vulnerable. Like with missiles, the heavier variant has more boom but the smaller variant is dropped in greater numbers, so the effect is almost the same.
Now what’s the difference between the LA-29 and the T-7? The LA-29 moves at a creeping 800km/h, while the T-7 thunders ahead with a whopping 1250km/h. This means that the T-7 can evade enemy LA-29s if desired and reaches its target sooner, which means that it returns sooner and can start refueling sooner. This also matters in battle, because the LA-29 gets hammered with AA-fire even before dropping its load, while the T-7 rushes in, blows everything up and leaves before the enemy even start firing. The T-7 is also more durable, which means that overall it has a way better survival rate than the lousy LA-29. To add insult to injury, the T-7 can carry any weapon and in greater amounts, while the LA-29 can’t even use AAM … One advantage the LA-29 has is that it takes up less space on a carrier, so you could fit 8 of these on a Longbow Carrier while only 5 or 6 T-7 will fit, but since the LA-29s get swatted like flies and you won’t be able to replace them at that rate, this doesn’t really matter. All in all – sell all your LA-29s and buy T-7s for the money …
Tactical Combat – Anti-Aircraft, Basics and the UI
I will now continue with the tactical battle aspect of the game and start off with a short apropos about anti-aircraft combat, as that didn’t fit into the last paragraph (there’s a sign-limit for some reason).
If you are attacked by enemy fighters, your best option is to fire as many AA-Missiles as quickly as possible. The next-best and alway additional option is to pepper them with minigun or autocannon fire, ideally with a full volley while they dive towards you, as they can most easily be hit at that moment. Once they dropped their payload, wait a moment, then start firing again once they take off into the skies again. Use the moments as they pass you by laterally to reload, you won’t hit them anyway. That way you can destroy the greatest number of enemy aircraft.
A very important thing to keep in mind: The point of close range air defence is not to keep the enemy from successfully bombing you – “the bomber always get’s through” is what you need to accept. The point is to harm the bombers so badly that they won’t be able to return for another hit the next day (or ever).
The only thing that really helps against enemy fighters is to intercept them before they reach your ships with your own fighters or shoot some of them down with AAM as they approach your ships. Otherwise, you need thick top-side plating. Quite possibly, an active protection system (the Palash) installed on top of your ship will destroy bombs and missiles before they hit you, so that might be a nice idea, but I have pretty much no experience with APS, so I don’t really know.
Right, back to the big guns.
The very basics are that you enter tactical combat whenever one of your flight groups collides with a hostile flight group. In this context, fighter squadrons and strategic missiles count as flight groups, but whatever happens with those has already been described. You win combat by destroying all enemy ships and you lose combat by losing or retreating all your ships. A ship is destroyed when its bridge is destroyed, which can either happen through direct damage or by the ship’s ammo stores blowing up and taking the bridge with it. You will always control only one ship in combat, while the enemy controls up to four ships, although I think cruisers count as two ships here, so you will only ever face two enemy cruisers at once. Ships of a flight group enter battle in a pre-determined order which you can decide for your own side. Taking note of the enemy’s order of battle might influence which ships you pick in which order.
The enemy follow a fixed set of actions. They maneuver, start loading their weapons (the ammo-symbol above their ship appears, which also indicates what type of barrage awaits you), start aiming (an alarm goes off and red aiming-lines appear), fire a volley – rinse repeat. They will never shoot without warning, will never attempt to fire continously and will never fire more than one Anti-Ship-Missile (ASM) at once (per ship). I don’t know the exact pattern in which they fire off their ASM, but they definitely take ages to empty their stock. That’s it for enemy behaviour, let’s explore the UI.
The UI consists of the main battle screen, two little screens at the left and right lower corners and some indicators in the top left corner. Let’s start with the latter.
The ammo indicator shows you if your weapons are being loaded, which you will also notice by the rather loud reloading sound, or if they are fully loaded, which you will also notice by the absence of the reloading sound. If you have different sorts of ammunition available, a little light with a symbol above the ammo indicator shows you which type is currently selected. No light means standard HE-ammo. Next to the ammo indicator are two alarm lights, one warning you about low fuel (less than 30% left) and one warning you about incoming missiles. Both are accompanied by lovely and unique alarm sounds as well.
The lower left window shows your own ship and its status, while the lower right window shows your current target and its status. They are identical in the information they provide. Clockwise, starting at the bottom it states the ships name and current speed, some rapidly changing numbers labelled TADS that I hope serve no actual purpose, a set of three lines saying ASM, AAM and GPB with numbers and another set of three lines saying FUEL, EVAC and FSS, again with accompanying numbers. The abbreviations stand for and count the amount of remaining:
– remaining fuel
– evacuation pods
All I have to say about the fuel is that once a ship runs out of fuel, its engines turn off and it drops to the ground like the big piece of junk it is, which usually causes it to explode. I have rarely managed to beat an enemy by causing them to run out of fuel, but I did manage it.
The most important ones to watch for in the enemy are ASM, AAM and FSS. Once the enemy runs out of ASM, you can relax a bit, which is always nice. I also tend to start battle with an agile ship or one specialised in destroying enemy missiles and exchange these for a big fat powerhouse of a ship once all enemy missiles are used up, as big ships are generally very vulnerable to missiles relative to the threat posed by smaller calibre guns. If the enemy is out of or has no AAM, you are clear to launch your own ASM. If the enemy is on fire (a yellow sign flashes on their little windows saying “On Fire” and, you know, their ship is visibly on fire) and they are out of FSS, you can pretty much ignore them and focus on other ships. They have no way of extinguishing the fire, which will soon reach their ammo depot or bridge, destroying the ship. If you in turn are out of FSS and for some reason catch fire, you have to win very quickly or retreat, or your ship will be lost. To estimate how long you have before your ship is destroyed by a fire, check for orange-flashing modules. Those are on fire and the flames will spread from there – if the fire is still far away from ammo depots or the bridge, you are relatively safe. If not, retreat.
Which brings me to the most obvious and dominant UI-element of the little window – the ship’s status. Here you can see all the modules and their state of repair. The redder a module is, the more badly it is damaged. Once destroyed, it disappears. Don’t worry about some modules starting out a little red. Those are slightly damaged modules that were not worth repairing or replacing the last time your ship was in dry dock, but it shouldn’t really matter. Most modules are gray and so is the bridge, which makes the latter hard to locate, but there are also three other colours present. White modules are armour, blue modules are fuel tanks, yellow modules are ammunition depots. Armour takes a lot of damage to destroy, fuel tanks start burning when hit and are generally very fragile and ammo depots explode spectacularly, destroying a large part of the ship (which for all but the biggest ships means instant obliteration).
Tactical Combat – More UI, Guns & Ammo
There are also some UI elements on the main part of the screen. Missiles are overlayed with a small symbol, there are one or several arrows showing you where your guns currently point and the aiming reticle controlled by your mouse which shows where your guns are attempting to rotate to. There’s also a rectangle around the currently targeted enemy, possibly some green curved bars around the enemy, which indicate enemy APS capability (according to user TheSquirrel390), and often the aforementioned symbol indicating that the enemy is loading their guns. Then there are little triangles indicating launched evac pods that vainly try to take off into the sky (Why into the sky, btw? Shouldn’t they be trying to reach the ground?) while getting obliterated by the immense fireworks going off all around them. Additionally, you have a strange thing at the top of the screen saying “Honor”. This is your current ship’s XP bar. It fills up with every kill and every time you reach a star your ship levels up. All previous levels are also displayed.
That’s all I have to say about the UI. I will now go into what you need to know about the actual combat.
There are 8 different guns in the game. They can be categorized as follows:
– 2A37 (minigun)
– AK-725 Vympel (autocannon)
– AK-100 ( light cannon)
– D-80 Molot (heavy cannon)
– A-220 (rocket launcher)
– MK-1-180 (battleship artillery)
– MK-2-180 Sarmat (two barreled 180)
– MK-6-180 Squall (six barreled 180)
The light guns are fit for point-defence, meaning defence against missiles or fighters and good against light ships. The medium guns are all different. The heavy guns are all the same with escalating amounts of barrels per tower and are your best bet against armored targets. To go into the indivual weapons in more detail:
The 2A37 is a small calibre minigun. It has a large magazine size and insane fire rate, which lends it perfectly to volley firing, but high spread, so it’s a close-quarters weapon. Only shoot if a target of opportunity presents, have it reload the rest of the time. I repeat, do not fire unless you can definitely do real damage. Good targets are close-by unarmoured ships or the exposed top or bottom of a heavier ship. You can also quite easily destroy missiles with this and it’s a good choice against fighters as well. You can even destroy incoming heavy shells with this! You will be pretty helpless against armour if this is your only armament, but with several you can whittle enemy armour down over time, although it’s quite arduous. All in all, this is mainly a point-defence weapon.
The AK-725 Vympel is a light autocannon with a good fire rate and a medium sized magazine. Like the minigun, it’s pretty useless against armor but good against unarmored targets and also useful against missiles. Against fighters, I find it even better than the minigun, as one or two hits will destroy an aircraft! Overall it’s used similarly to the minigun. Although every single shot has more of a punch, you can’t unleash the same kind of insane leadstorm on an enemy’s weakpoint within seconds, but I think for a beginner this gun might actually be a better choice. It’s also the cheapest gun.
The AK-100 is a light rapid-fire cannon with a very small magazine. Thus, it lends itself to occasional potshots. If you score a few hits into the right spot, you can very quickly destroy light ships with this. It doesn’t perform well against armor, though, so aim for exposed parts. Pretty good choice for a light and fast ship.
The D-80 Molot is a heavy cannon. It has a small magazine but also a low fire rate. Against bigger targets, you can feel free to just roughly aim in their direction and keep the trigger pulled, sending a shell their way every few seconds. The Molot’s shells travel rather slowly, so when facing smaller targets, its better to wait for the magazine to get full and shoot a whole volley to get a hit, or even better, get in close to make sure you hit them. You can destroy the smallest enemy corvettes with two or three hits from this gun and it’s also powerful enough to make a proper dent in armour.
The A220 is a rocket launcher which I have never used myself. Like all other guns, it has unlimited HE-ammo, just to make that clear. It fires a bunch of dumb-fire rockets that move faster than ASM but still slow enough to evade, and even in the rare cases in which I got hit, the rockets didn’t seem to cause as much damage as I would expect from a 220mm weapon. That is all.
Last but very much not least are the battleship-sized MK-X-180 artillery cannons. The MK-1 is the basic single barrel version of this gun, while the MK-2 has two barrels and looks bigger, although it still fits into an ordinary gunport. The massive six-barrelled MK-6 takes up more space, though, and requires a large hull part for a base. So all in all, what we are talking about here is a 180mm gun. The slow-travelling but precise shells blown out from this are absolutely devastating. Even armour melts away after a few hits. A single hit to any part of the ship can cripple a light corvette, although it’s not easy hitting them with this. These guns are an absolute must-have when facing enemy cruisers. Just home in on them and launch a continous stream of heavy artillery. Whoever has the best armour and especially the most guns will win the exchange, it’s mostly as simple as that. The Palash APS is supposed to help against these, I think.
Now for a brief tour of the special kinds of ammunition available. My main advice is to sell all special ammo you find and never buy any except for your fighters, as this stuff is way too expensive. But if you want to use it, here’s what I know:
Incendiary ammo is available for all guns except the Vympel if I’m not mistaken. It causes fires on hit, except against armour, which can’t burn, and is way too good at it, too. I find this ammo grossly overpowered and thus not fun to use.
Amour-Piercing shells are available for medium and heavy guns but not for the rocket launcher. They go through armour and hit the modules behind it, but almost don’t touch the armour itself. If you run out of AP at some point, you will have to use your HE ammo to chew through the armour anyway.
Proximity-Fuse ammo, available for all guns that can use AP as well, explodes into a shower of fragments when close to a target. It is therefore harder to evade the shots and you can even use high-calibre cannons against missiles and fighters. The downside is that they cause less damage and are weaker against armour. These shells appear blue in flight.
The last type of special ammo are Laser-Guided shells. I’m not sure which guns can use them but they are definitely available for the MK-X-180s. When shooting one of these babys, a laserbeam appears at your targeting reticle. The shells will adjust their trajectory in-flight to hit the spot you point the laser at, which allows for extreme precision. I would love these if they weren’t so damn expensive!
Tactical Combat – Missiles, Bombs & Defensive Systems.
Apart from guns, you can also use missiles and bombs to destroy your enemies.
The R-5 Zenith Anti-Ship-Missile is the only one of its type in the game. It needs to be launched from a position on the edge of your ship, either a holding bay or a scaffold attached to the ship’s armour. It is important to keep in mind that these are easily destroyed, in flight or when still on your ship! For this reason, consider firing all your missiles relatively early in battle unless they are well protected from enemy fire. Once launched, an ASM will move away from your ship a bit and then engage its thrusters to speed towards its target. Whatever enemy you targeted when launching the missile is that missile’s target, so you can go through one enemy after another and fire one or two missiles each to hit several enemies at once. You don’t have to keep the intended target in your sights while the missile is in flight. An ASM will only find its target if it is in front of the missile, so once evaded the Zenith will not turn around but rather continue in its current direction until it explodes in the air. Its destructive potential is quite good. Three or four of these hitting the same spot in a row can destroy a light cruiser. One is often enough to destroy a smaller unarmoured ship.
The FAB-1000 General Purpose Bomb is a heavy impact bomb carried by ships. You use by holding the middle mouse button, which initiates targeting. The bomb’s trajectory depends on the carrying ship’s flight path and velocity and is conveniently calculated in realtime. Once you are happy with where the bomb is calculated to land, release the middle mouse button and the FAB starts plummetting pretty slowly towards the ground. You can only really hit grounded targets or large cruisers with this. The explosive power is impressive, but you need a direct hit to cause damage. The bombs are very vulnerable to enemy fire while still attached to your hull, so if a ship carrying bombs goes into combat, get rid of them immediately. They can theoretically be shot down while in the air, I think, but it seems to be far harder than shooting down missiles.
Now that you know how to tear your enemy apart, let’s take a look at available defensive measures.
I have already talked about Anti-Air-Missiles, but just to prevent any confusion: The R-9 Sprint is the only AAM in the game. It requires a fire control radar to function or it won’t know where to go. You release an AAM with the C key and it automatically targets an enemy missile or fighter. It never targets your own missiles. AAMs are faster and more maneuverable than ASM missiles, but if an incoming missile is already too close, an AAM might not be able to intercept it in time.
Another protection system against missiles is the ASO-75 Decoy Flare Dispenser. It fires when you hit F and creates hot glowing fireworks around your ship that confuse ASM because they home in on heat-sources. It is not guaranteed that the incoming missile(s) will go for the decoys instead of your ship, but it is highly likely. The best idea is to not remain static after popping the flares but rather to move away from them to definitely avoid impact. I don’t know if they reload after battle or if a 800$ flare system is single use only. As I have assumed the latter so far, I never use them.
Another system I assumed to be single-use is the Palash-1 Active Protection System (APS), mysteriously described in-game as “protecting against artillery shelling”. You don’t have to activate it, it triggers automatically when a 180mm shell is coming near it and explodes outward to destroy the incoming projectile before it can hit the hull. This is apparently what the bended green bars occassionally appearing around enemy’s represents. According to The Squirrel390, a single Palash is good for three uses during a battle, but I have never tested this. As I assumed them to break on use like flares, I never used them. Another weakness of theirs is that they trigger even when you would evade the incoming shell anyway. As I mentioned far above, I believe them to be triggered by bombs as well, which would make them useful on top of large ships that are vulnerable to aircraft-bombing.
The simplest and most obvious defensive system is, of course, armour plating. It comes in two levels of thickness, but you can also just stack thin plates on top of each other. Armour is relatively cheap and immensely useful to protect your ship, but also very heavy, slowing your ship down in battle and on the map, as well as increasing fuel usage, and you need to leave gaps for protruding thrusters, missiles, etc.
Another low-tech solution is evasion. What doesn’t hit you doesn’t hurt you! This is not an option for big ships that are always going to be slow. The advantage of defending through evasion is that you can lower your repair cost and time (even armour plates need to be replaced if damaged enough) by avoiding getting hit at all. If this is your only defensive strategy, a single hit may cause catastrophic damage, however. You can always restart the battle (if your morale allows) but it is annoying. Avoiding enemy fire becomes more difficult the more enemies you face and the more firepower they bring, too. Not only is constantly evading enemy fire very stressful, you may also not get a chance to go on the offensive yourself. Another downside is that really effective, high-speed evasion burns through your fuel pretty fast. And then there’s the G-force problem: When you accelerate or change direction too fast, your crew will black out, causing your screen to go dark. You will still see your own ship as a symbol and enemy shells as green dots, but it is considerably harder to navigate without seeing the battlefield. Time also slows down, but that might be caused by my GPU getting overwhelmed by a poorly-implemented blackout-effect. If it is intentional, it is something between very useful for evasion and sort of annoying because everything takes ages.
Misc. – Landing & City Screens
Something I haven’t talked about yet is what actually happens when you enter a settlement. If you land in a town for the first time, you are prompted to select one or several ships for the landing minigame. Very important public service announcement: You can completely skip this without any downsides whatsoever!
If you don’t select any ships and simply click “OK”, you will just enter the town. Here you may find a Tarkhan or ships for sale, depending on the type of city you are in. All cities have a shipyard and a supply depot, however. There is unlimited fuel for sale in the supply depot and to the right of the fuel screen is an ammo depot with varying types and amounts of special and aircraft ammunition for sale, differing from town to town.
The shipyard is where you repair and remodel your ships and also where you can sell unwanted parts and weapons in your inventory. You can right-click on individual modules on your ship to repair them (damaged modules have diminished function) but to replace lost ones, you need to either place them manually or use the repair-button (it has a wrench on it). If there are several iterations of your ship, you will be prompted so select which one you want the ship to be modelled after (usually you would select the latest one (on the right)). A bar will appear above your ship which you can click and drag to select how much it is going to be repaired (usually 100%). Then you click OK.
Now, what about that landing stuff? You can land any ship at any time from the shipyard screen! Just click “Put in Dock” on the right side of the repair-screen and the landing sequence is started. You don’t have to land your ships in order to repair them and when your landing gear or your engines are damaged, it’s even advisable to repair/replace those parts first before landing for the rest of your repairs. But why land at all? When in the landing minigame, you will see different landing spots with different numbers on them. Landing on such a spot (or several if you have a big ship, their effects will be added) grants this specific ship a repair speed bonus in percent equal to the number(s). “Faster Repairs” towns simply have (much) higher numbers on their landing spots. There is no bonus to the cost of replacement parts and only the landed ship will gain the bonus from where it is docked, it’s not cumulative or an average for the whole flight group.
Landing itself is quite simple, you just need to keep your ship under control and slow it down enough not to get destroyed on impact. You may also wish to select and go to an appropriate landing spot, but I’ll let you figure that out yourself. With most ships, you can remain in free fall for a long time, only slowing down close to the ground (if you can retain control of your ship). When a “MOVING TOO FAST” warning appears and sounds, you may want to slow down, but otherwise it’s very manageable. An exception are very big ships like the Sevastopol. You need to start breaking as soon as you enter the landing sequence with such a behemoth and will still require afterburners to slow it down enough for a soft landing. Speaking of soft landings: Try to land with a speed of -1 to -5 M/S in order to not damage your landing gear. The big fat Kormoran will even break its thrusters when landing with more than -5 M/S, as they will hit the ground when the landing gear buckles under the ship’s weight … Lighter ships can survive landing speeds of up to -20 M/S without damage, but your heart will skip a beat regardless.
Shipbuilding – A Few Observations
All that remains now are some shipbuilding aspects I’d like to talk about.
First, let’s talk about sensors. As it may confuse a lot of people, let me explain the yellow (or red) cones indicating something on sensors. Quite intuitively, you will understand that a yellow cone means an unobstructed sensor and a (partly or completely) red cone means obstruction from other elements on the ship. However: unlike what you might expect, this obstruction does not limit a sensor’s capability in specific directions! Rather, it simply reduces its range equal to the percentage of obstruction. So if one whole half of a radar’s radius is blocked, its range is exactly cut in half. You can alleviate this problem by adding a second radar at another spot facing the opposite direction unopposed and you will be back to 100% range! That’s why big ships like the Sevastopol have several sensors of the same type scattered all over the ship. To gain 100% effectiveness, all your sensors of one type need a completely unobstructed cone in either direction in total. So if you have four sensors and each one faces a different obstruction, you’re all good. If all four sensors are blocked in the same spot of their cone, you will get a range penalty. A fire control radar will guide AAM to their target anywhere on the battlefield, their cone is irrelevant for this.
It’s as simple as that.
Next up is obstruction of modules. Some modules need to be on the outside of the ship to function. These are landing gear, evac pods, fixed propulsion engines, missiles of any kind, flares, APS, jammers and sensors. Engines, jammers and sensors also need power to function, which means that even if you place them on top of armour plating, they need a connection to a generator through hull parts, as cables don’t go through armour.
Modules that are always unobstructed and can thus be placed “inside” the ship despite intuition telling us otherwise are maneuvering thrusters and guns.
The After Combat Crash Site Part of the Game
The last thing I want to talk about is the butchering of downed ships after combat. After a battle, your ships will land wherever the battle took place and you may now collect loot. You will see a crash site with numerous fires and smoke-plumes. Every smoke-plume represents one point of interest on the crash-site, which is also labelled and has a slowly emptying bar. When the bar is empty, the point of interest is burned and lost forever and the accompanying fire will die down. When the last fire goes out, you can take off or land in the city, if that’s where the fight took place. You can also just take off whenever, but all loot will be lost. You cannot enter a city will there is still loot on top of it.
The basic principles of this sort of minigame are that investigating a PoI takes the same time for all of them and is independent of how full or empty its countdown bar is. If you switch from one PoI to another before you are done, all progress is lost. Some PoIs have an “explosive” warning. When their bar is empty, they don’t just disappear but explode and take another random PoI with them. This may be one you are currently exploring (you will not lose any men) or another explosive one, which can cause a chain-reaction. Ammo depots, fuel tanks, missiles and bombs are explosive. Some PoIs have a skull symbol, which means they are dangerous. Which ones these are is randomized, but a PoI cannot be both dangerous and explosive (if I recall correctly). If you allow your ground crew to put on protective gear, all dangerous PoIs become normal again, but if you explore a dangerous spot without protection, there’s a 50% chance of an accident, which causes you to lose some crew and one morale globally (or maybe just on every ship of the current flight group?).
I will now list and explain all possible points of interest:
Ammo Storage: This contains some random special ammunition and explodes eventually.
Fuel Tanks: This contains fuel and explodes eventually. Exploring this spawns fuel on your current position, which your landed ships will immediately start pumping into their tanks. It’s time efficient to start off with exploring the fuel tanks and you should do this unless something is more urgent.
Crew Quarters: Contains one random item for use during diplomacy talks.
Radio Room: Contains one number of the currently used encryption cypher.
Captain’s Room: Contains one piece of correspondence telling you the approximate position of a Tarkhan. A quest objective-like hint will appear in your interface if this is the first you heard about this specific Tarkhan. If nothing changes you either already met them or you already have other, better clues about them.
Rescue Survivors: Has a 50% chance of adding some survivors to your crew. If you don’t investigate this in time, a doom bell sounds, the game tells you how many wounded men you just condemned to die and you lose one point of kindness. Useful if you are for some reason short on men, but in reality, you never are. Otherwise only do this if you want to roleplay as a kind ruler, I guess.
Crew Protection: “Investigate” to put on protective gear, as I mentioned.
Weapons or Other Pieces of Equipment: Will be added to your inventory when investigated. There’s a coin-shaped visualisation of the value currently on fire at every such spot above the equipment’s name. These are the main reason I go around attacking everyone right and left – you can make really good money from salvage.
Disassemble Hull: Yields repair parts for faster repairs (as stated far above).
Okay, that’s it, can’t think of anything else. Hope this is helpful and have fun in the exploding skies!
We would like to thank MattoFrank. He is the one behind this wonderful guide.