Cake
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    • Hey guys, I posted a while back about how much I liked Starsector, and I decided that since I have had so much fun playing it, let's play it together... on Cake!

      In this series I'll be playing through Starsector and updating with how things are going. In the beginning, I'll start out with some more detail on how things work.

      If you want to skip straight to the first combat, click here.

      If you are looking for part 2, here is a link.

      Background

      Starsector is a sandboxed space game where you fly around a sector of the galaxy between systems trading, hunting bounties, helping factions, exploring, and maybe even a little pirating. You start with a couple of ships and eventually work your way up to having a massive fleet and eventually starting your own faction and governing a colony.

      There are two primary modes when you play, campaign mode, and combat mode. When in campaign mode you fly around the galaxy and handle high level things like customizing your ships, going on missions, and interacting with various ports and factions. When you encounter pirates or some other nefarious fleet captain things can get heated and you end up in combat mode. In combat mode you run a tactical battle map and can either turn all your ships to autopilot, or captain a single ship by yourself. You can also give commands to your fleet if you want them to do something specific, but we'll get more into that later.

      Anyways, we'll discuss some of this as we go along, but for now, let's get started by setting up our character.

    • The first thing we're going to need to do is set up the game. I've named myself Xorius of course, and turned on Iron Man mode to keep myself honest (no loading saves). I've left the defaults for galaxy size and system makeup.

    • Xorius was a former scientific researcher who got kicked out of his research fellowship because all he wanted to do was tinker on ships instead of doing what he was supposed to do. He decided to strike it out on his own and be a ship captain, putting his passion to good use. Wanting to pilot more advanced ships, he ended up scrounging enough money to afford a Wolf frigate and set out to make the galaxy a better place by taking down pirates.

      We're going to pick #1 here.

    • One of the first things we realized is that it's going to be pretty tough goin out there all by ourselves. We bought a second support ship, a Kite, and hired a childhood friend who happens to be a skilled pilot who was looking for work (we'll find out their name later).

    • We'll pick normal mode, because the challenge needs to be real! Easy mode gives some handicaps like 30% less damage taken.

    • There is an awesome tutorial if you are new to the game, but since I have played this a bit I'll skip it.

    • Character Screen

      This is our first look at the experience and leveling system in the game. We start out with 3 points to spend at level 1. You get 1 more point each level, with a max level of 50.

      There are 4 different tracks, combat, leadership, technology, and industry.

      Combat: These skills are focused around personal expertise in combat, giving bonuses to how your ship performs.

      Leadership: These skills help with your overall fleet performance, and several personal skills for handling fighters if your ship has them.

      Technology: This is a mixed bag, but things are focused around ability to improve loadouts on your ship, and sensors / navigation on the campaign map.

      Industry: These skills are focused around scavenging and running a colony.

      Each skill has 3 possible points, which are restricted by how many points you have in the number to the left of the track. So if you have 1 point on the left for a track, each skill in that track can be leveled up to a maximum of 1 point. That means spreading yourself too thin across all tracks, you end up wasting points that could have been otherwise spent on individual skills.

      Thematically, our character is technically focused, so we'll pick the technology track to start with. I also happen to really like this track and think it's a lot of fun. You can see in the image that we have put 1 of our starting 3 points in the technology track limit, and 1 point in Navigation. Navigation is strictly a campeign mode focused skill, and will be really useful for moving around the map. Level 1 will reduce the penalty for moving through nebulas, but what we are really after is level 3 which increases max burn rate. This will govern our ability to both catch (and run away from) enemies, very useful for a bounty hunter!

    • Ok we are finally done with character creation, whew. Below is our first look at the campaign map.

      Where are we?

      We are in Hegemony space in the Corvus Start System. We started near a nice blue terran planet which has an orbiting space station, and we are the little grey circle in the center of the screen. We look pretty puny compared to the Hegemony patrol fleet next to use, but that will change soon enough.

    • The Fleet
      You can see that we have a Wolf piloted by our character Xorius, and a Kite, piloted by our dear childhood friend Lieutenant Io Pham. She is a steady level 1 pilot with skills in Damage Control and Impact Mitigation.

    • The Wolf is a pretty sweet ship, and one of my favorites. It is a fast ship that favors hit and run tactics and has a pretty strong weapons loadout for such a small ship. Its special ability allows you to phase through space and "hop" in the direction you are traveling. This can be tricky to use well because it can change the orientation of your ship and lowers your shield.

    • Our Kite is a smaller shuttle style ship that has a couple of missile mounts and a gun. It packs a lot of firepower for how small it is and is pretty survivable because of its swiveling omni-shield. It can be really strong against very small ships, and is a really good distraction against larger ones.

    • Great, we have a fleet. But what are we going to do with it?

      Hunting Pirates

      Well, we are a bounty hunter after all, so let's go track down some pirates. Below you can see the in-system map which shows the world we are next to (Jangala) in orange. There is a pirate station in red called Garnia which seems like a pretty promising place to look for pirates. We'll head there.

    • Aha! We've spotted some pirates on our way to the station. There are 3 small frigates against our 2, and each of them has very significant damage to their ship (the orange bars). They are so confident that they can beat our fleet that they are actually chasing us down.

      We'll cut our burn drive and let them catch us, I think we're more than a match.

      Little do they know that they are picking a fight with the wrong captain!

    • When our fleets meet we can see a more detailed view of the upcoming engagement. We see that it is what we are expecting and its a 2 vs 3 fight. Our ships are in much better condition than theirs, so let's go for it.

      Move in to engage...

    • When we enter into combat mode we can pick which ships from our fleet to deploy. Each ship has a deployment cost associated with it that will take resources to replenish. We need both of our ships for this one, but when we have a much larger fleeting facing a smaller fleet it will be better to keep some in reserve. You can always reinforce later if you need to.

    • This is the command view of the battle map. You can see the space around our ships surrounded by fog of war. Our Kite is on the left and the Wolf is on the right.

      This view is useful for clicking ships and telling them to attack a particular enemy, capture a relay, or some other battle action. For now we don't really want to do anything special, we just want to get in and pilot our ship. So we'll unpause and drop in.

    • Here is our first taste of the enemy. You can see our Wolf and Kite at the bottom of the screen. The enemy pirates have nicely split their forces and each of their hounds are trying to flank our fleet to either side. Their 3rd ship is slow and lagging slightly behind.

      Our kite can handle himself and our Wolf is strong enough to take a single hound alone while trying to keep distance on the 3rd ship.

    • You can see here that we ended up circling around the hound, and their third ship, a Cerberus is trying to come in behind.

      Now is a good time to talk about combat basics. There are 3 basic properties to ships that need to be managed:

      Flux: This is a measure of how much damage your shields can take, and how much damage your weapons can dish out. You can see our flux is about halfway full, which means that we have either been taking shield damage or dishing out a lot of punishment. If your Flux bar fills all the way up, your ship is disabled until the flux can come back down naturally. This means no weapons or shields and your shift just drifts helplessly. None of the ships we are fighting have any shield capability.

      Armor: Each part of a ship has a certain amount of armor on it that needs to be depleted before hull starts taking damage. In the image you can see that the enemy only has a small amount of armor left, which is shown in the bottom right of the targetting info. Only a little bit of orange is left.

      Hull: After there are no shields or armor in the way, your ship starts taking hull damage. Once hull is depleted, it's game over.

    • Kablam! We made short work of that hound. Bask in the light of that sweet explosion.

      We were able to take out the hound without taking much damage ourselves or using too many of our missiles. Time to take on the cerberus.

    • We've turned around and are letting loose with our swarmer missiles. These are great against something like the cerberus since they do extra damage against armor and weak damage against shields. We'll also move in closer and hit with our pulse laser too, which is good against all damage types.

    • The cerberus takes a bit more damage than the hound did, so we need to back off and get our flux down before we overload and become disabled.

      You can see we have moved out of range and are manually venting flux, which is why there is a purple animation around the Wolf. Don't worry, we'll be right back pirates!

    • Kapow! Finished the job. Get out of our Starsector pirates.

      Time to go checkout what our Kite is doing.

    • The kite did a good job distracting the other hound while we took care of business. Unfortunately the enemy has decided that we are too much for them and the last hound has decided to run away. Our ships are fast, but hounds are even faster so we won't be able to catch it before it flees the game map. Good riddance!

    • Here is the aftermath battle screen. We can see the two ships we destroyed and the one that got away. I'm not confident that we will be able to catch the hound, so lets just let it go for now instead of trying to pursue.

    • Here is our loot screen. We found 9 supplies, 9 fuel and 20 metal in the wreckage of the battle.

      There are 3 kinds of storage space we have in our fleet:

      Cargo: This is the white meter in the bottom left, and accounts for generic resources your are carrying including supplies, goods (like metal), weapons, and other miscellaneous items. You can see we have 80/80 cargo in the bottom left, so we will have to go over capacity if we want to take anything else on. If we go over the max we will burn more supplies for maintenance.

      Crew: How many crew members you have. Each ship has a skeleton crew as a minimum, and a maximum amount that you can hold. Troop transports tend to have a high max and a low minimum so that you can carry crew around. If your total crew is over the maximum for your fleet you will burn extra supplies, and if it is lower than the minimum your ship combat readiness will degrade. You can see the green bar we have 50, our minimum is 17, and our max is 60.

      Fuel: This is the orange bar on the bottom, you can see we have 25/35. You burn fuel when you travel through hyperspace, but not in local space, so we haven't used any yet. If you run out you are dead in the water. If you go over your max, you guessed it, we burn more supplies for maintenance.

      In general I prefer not to go over limits because supplies are expensive, so we'll take some fuel and leave the supplies / metal. We don't really have anything right now that is worth dumping for supplies right now.