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Basic Beam Warship Tutorial

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Designing a Beam-armed Warship

Before we begin, make sure you are in SM Mode. This is a long section so prepare yourself

"Beam weapon" in Aurora refers to every weapon that isn't a missile weapon or CIWS (Close In Weapon System). At the moment that includes Lasers, Railguns, Torpedoes, Gauss Cannon, High Power Microwaves and Meson Cannon. For the purposes of this tutorial I'll use Lasers as an example and then cover the other beam weapons in the next tutorial.

Lasers are the yardstick for other beam weapons in Aurora and are reasonably good at everything. Larger lasers can be used as offensive weapons and have a good damage output. Small lasers can be used as dedicated point defence weapons, or slightly larger ones can be used in a dual point defence / anti-ship role. They can also be fitted in turrets. Lasers and other beam weapons are very short-ranged compared to missile weapons but they can do a lot of damage in a short space of time and they don't need ammunition. Beam-armed ships can be deadly when waiting in ambush at a jump point. Every ship suffers sensor and fire-control blindness after a jump for perhaps 30-60 seconds and a beam ship can do a lot of damage in that time, if it is experienced enough to respond to orders quickly.

Before we look at laser design, lets give ourselves some laser tech using the Instant button on the Research tab of the F2 Economics window. We have been using this Instant button quite a lot but you should get some free tech points at the start of a campaign. If you look under the list of Scientists you will see a text box entitled Starting RP. This shows how many free research points you have left. As you Instant something, the total will decrease. Once you have used them all the box will disappear and you should manually research from that point, although you can still go into SM Mode and Instant something if you want to override normal game play for some reason.

Change to Energy Weapons and Instant 12cm Laser Focal Size. Researching that technology makes 15cm Laser Focal Size available so Instant that as well. Next use Instant on Visible Light Laser and also the next tech in the series, Near Ultraviolet Laser. Now change to Power and Propulsion and use Instant on three technologies in the same series, Capacitor Recharge Rate 2, 3 and 4.

Now open the Create Research Project window and change the Project Type to Lasers. There are four background technologies for Lasers. Laser Focal Size determines how large the laser is, how much damage it causes, how much power it requires and the base range. Laser Wavelength modifies the range, with longer wavelength lasers having greater range. Capacitor Recharge Rate determines how fast the laser's power can be recharged and therefore determines its rate of fire. Reduced Size Laser technology, which we won't be examining in this tutorial, creates more compact lasers that have slower rates of fire. When you first select lasers, the program will select the best available background technology in each category, which should create a laser design that looks like this:

15cm C4 Near Ultraviolet Laser
Damage Output 6     Rate of Fire: 10 seconds     Range Modifier: 3
Max Range 180,000 km     Laser Size: 4 HS    Laser HTK: 2
Power Requirement: 6    Power Recharge per 5 Secs: 4
Cost: 29    Crew: 40
Materials Required: 5.8x Duranium  5.8x Boronide  17.4x Corundium
Development Cost for Project: 290RP

Lets go through some of the terminology. Damage Output is the maximum damage caused by the laser, usually at point blank range. The Rate of Fire is how often the laser fires, assuming sufficient power is provided to the weapon. Rate of Fire is always rounded up to the nearest 5 seconds as that it is smallest time increment in Aurora. Range Modifier is the wavelength of the weapon. Damage falls off with range and the Max Range is equal to the maximum damage multiplied by the Range Modifier multiplied by 10,000 km. In this case, 6 x 3 x 10,000 = 180,000 km. Laser Size is the physical size of the laser in hull spaces (1 hull space = 50 tons). Laser HTK is the hits-to-kill for this system. If it receives two points of damage it is automatically destroyed. If it receives one point of damage it has a fifty percent chance of bring destroyed. The Power Requirement is the amount of energy that must to be sent to the weapon by power reactors before it can fire. Power Recharge is the maximum amount of power that can be sent to the weapon in 5 seconds. The rest are similar to previous systems.

Note that the rate of fire is 10 seconds because only four power can be sent to the weapon every 5 seconds and it needs 6 power. If your capacitor recharge rate technology was 6 instead of 4, you could build a 15cm laser that fired every 5 seconds. We are wasting power a little here as we are using a capacitor that allows 8 power to the laser every 10 seconds and we only need 6. If you change the capacitor recharge rate dropdown to 3 instead of 4 then the laser will still fire every 10 seconds but it will be a little cheaper to manufacture.

Press Create for the laser then change the focal size to 10cm. Now you have a laser that should appear as below. This 10cm laser only does half the damage of the 15cm per shot but fires every 5 seconds so the overall damage output over time is the same as the 15cm. Its damage output per hull space over time is actually greater as it is only 75% of the HS.. Because it only has half the range, an equal speed or faster ship equipped with a 15cm weapon would stay out of range and the 15cm has more crunch effect as hits from that weapon will penetrate more armour. The 15cm is superior as an anti-ship weapon. However, fast firing beam weapons make good point defence weapons. In the case of point defence, overall rate of fire becomes more important than damage per hit. Therefore press Create for this weapon too so we have two different lasers. Go to the Research tab of the Economics window and Instant our new weapons.

10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser
Damage Output 3     Rate of Fire: 5 seconds     Range Modifier: 3
Max Range 90,000 km     Laser Size: 3 HS    Laser HTK: 1
Power Requirement: 3    Power Recharge per 5 Secs: 3
Cost: 15    Crew: 30
Materials Required: 3x Duranium  3x Boronide  9x Corundium
Development Cost for Project: 150RP

Fire Control Systems

Next, we will create some beam fire control systems. Once again we need to Instant some technology before we begin the design process. Go to the Research tab and give yourself Beam Fire Control Range 16,000 km, Beam Fire Control Range 24,000 km, Fire Control Speed Rating 2000 km/s and Fire Control Speed Rating 3000 km/s. Now open the Create Research Project window and select Beam Fire Control. There are seven different parameters, although we don't need to bother with the last three for now. The first two will show the best available technology for beam fire control range and tracking speed and there is no need to change these. Most of the decision making for standard ship-based fire control systems is in the third and fourth dropdowns. At the moment the beam fire control should appear as below.

Fire Control S01 24-3000
50% Accuracy at Range: 24,000 km     Tracking Speed: 3000 km/s
Size: 1 HS    HTK: 1    Cost: 11    Crew: 5
Chance of destruction by electronic damage: 100%
Materials Required: 2.75x Duranium  8.25x Uridium
Development Cost for Project: 110RP

The 50% Accuracy at Range at 24,000 km simply means that any beam weapon linked to this fire control will have a base chance to hit of 50% at 24,000 km. At shorter ranges the base chance to hit will increase at a linear rate, reaching 100% at 0 km. At longer ranges the chance to hit will decrease at a linear rate, reaching zero at twice the 50% range, in this case 48,000 km. In effect, every beam fire control you design will have its own to hit chart which is shown when you add the fire control to a class design. Our 15cm Laser has a max range of 180,000 km but linked to this fire control as it currently stands, it would be ineffective beyond 48,000 km because it wouldn’t be able to hit anything. The Tracking Speed of 3000 km/s means that the fire control will be able to track any target moving at 3000 km/s or less without any penalty to the base to hit chance. Against targets moving faster than 3000 km/s, the base chance to hit is modified by (Tracking Speed / Target Speed). For example, against a target moving at 4000 km/s, the base chance to hit would be modified by 3000/4000 or 0.75.

At the moment the fire control is only 1 hull space. By using the third dropdown, Fire Control Size vs Range, we can increase the range of the fire control by increasing its size. Change this dropdown to read "Fire Control 2x Size 2x Range". The fire control is now two hull spaces and the 50% accuracy at range has doubled to 48,000 km. Change it to "Fire Control 4x Size 4x Range", so it appears as below. With a 50% range of 96,000 km, the max range is 192,000 km so it will match up with our 15cm Laser. Change the name if you like and Create this fire control system.

Fire Control S04 96-3000 
50% Accuracy at Range: 96,000 km     Tracking Speed: 3000 km/s
Size: 4 HS    HTK: 1    Cost: 43    Crew: 20
Chance of destruction by electronic damage: 100%
Materials Required: 10.75x Duranium  32.25x Uridium
Development Cost for Project: 430RP

The 10cm laser is intended for use against missiles so the 3000 km/s tracking speed of the above fire control will be of no use to us. Even against a missile travelling at just 15,000 km/s the base chance to hit will be divided by 5 (3000/15000 = 0.2). Therefore we need to increase the tracking speed considerably. You can do this in the similar way to increasing the range. Change the Fire Control Size vs Tracking Speed to "Fire Control 4x Size 4x Tracking Speed". Now we have a problem. Although the tracking speed is 12,000 km/s, which is much better, the fire control is now 16 HS, which is huge. This is because the multipliers for size and range are cumulative. However, as this fire control is intended to engage missiles at very close range, we no longer need the range multiplier so reduce that to the original "Normal Size Normal Range" setting. Our beam fire control should now look like this:

Fire Control S04 24-12000
50% Accuracy at Range: 24,000 km     Tracking Speed: 12000 km/s
Size: 4 HS    HTK: 1    Cost: 43    Crew: 20
Chance of destruction by electronic damage: 100%
Materials Required: 10.75x Duranium  32.25x Uridium
Development Cost for Project: 430RP

The tracking speed of 12,000 km still isn't enough to avoid any penalty to the base to hit chance if you are shooting at a 15,000 km missile, but as you will likely engage missiles at a range of 10,000 km, just before they strike the ship, the base chance to hit will be fairly high anyway. To build a faster tracking fire control, you would need to research the next level of fire control tracking technology. Go to the Research tab of the Economics window and Instant our new fire control systems.

Time to get started on our warship design. Open the F5 Class Design window and press New. Add one each of the two lasers and two fire control systems. Your design should appear as below.

Ark Royal class Cruiser    1050 tons     133 Crew     177 BP      TCS 21  TH 0  EM 0
1 km/s     Armour 1-9     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 7
Annual Failure Rate: 8%    IFR: 0.1%    Maintenance Capacity 105 MSP    Max Repair 43 MSP

Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range N/A

15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 6 6 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 90,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 3-3     RM 3    ROF 5        3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

Before I go into detail on the information, change to the Full Summary tab. For the lasers the information presented includes the name, how many of that system are in the design, the range, the tracking speed, the power requirements in terms of power to fire and power required per 5 sec, the range modifier, the rate of fire and the damage output in 10,000 km steps. We'll get back to why weapons (as well as fire controls) have a tracking speed in a moment. The fire control information includes the name, how many of the system are in the design, the maximum range, the tracking speed and the chance to hit in 10,000 km steps. On the right hand side of the Full Summary tab there is a section called Range Bands. If you change the Range Band to 20,000 km then the ten damage steps following each of the lasers and the ten to-hit chances following the fire controls will change from 10,000 km steps to 20,000 km steps. Compare the following to the original above.

15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 4 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 90,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 3-3     RM 3    ROF 5        3 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     58 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

If you choose other range bands, the damage and to-hit chances will change accordingly. Underneath Range Bands is Target Speed. If you change Target Speed it will affect the to-hit chances of the fire control systems. For 1000 km/s, 2000 km/s and 3000 km/s there should be no change as the both fire controls can handle those target speeds. the 5000 and 10,000 km/s steps should change the to-hit chances for the S04 96-3000 fire control as that is only designed to handle targets up to 3000 km/s but the faster tracking fire control will be unaffected. At 20,000 km/s the other fire control is affected too because its max tracking speed is only 12,000 km/s. The Range Bands and Target Speed settings allow you to check how your weapon and fire control designs would perform against targets at different ranges and different speeds.

Earlier I mentioned that weapons have a tracking speed as well. While the fire control tracking speed is mainly concerned with tracking the target and calculating where to fire the weapons, the weapon tracking speed is the capability of the weapon to fire instantly in that direction when ordered to do so by the fire control. The base weapon tracking speed is equal to either the speed of the ship or your Empire's best Fire Control Speed Rating tech, whichever is greater. Your best Fire Control Speed Rating is 3000 km/s at the moment and as that is higher than the current ship speed of 1 km/s (it has no engines), then 3000 km/s is the weapon tracking speed. Try adding eight of our nuclear thermal engines to the class (remember to use the military version). It should appear as below. Note that because the ship speed is now 3174 km/s, that is higher than the Empire's Fire Control Speed Rating of 3000 km/s so the weapon tracking speed is now 3174 km/s. In essence, a faster ship has a better chance of quickly pointing its weapons in the right direction.

Ark Royal class Cruiser    3150 tons     333 Crew     283 BP      TCS 63  TH 200  EM 0
3174 km/s     Armour 1-19     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 7
Annual Failure Rate: 79%    IFR: 1.1%    Maintenance Capacity 56 MSP    Max Repair 43 MSP

Nuclear Thermal Engine E10 (8)    Power 25    Fuel Use 100%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 28.6 billion km   (104 days at full power)

15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3174 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 4 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 90,000km     TS: 3174 km/s     Power 3-3     RM 3    ROF 5        3 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     58 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

When a fire control tries to direct a weapon, the lowest tracking speed of the fire control or the weapon is used to calculate the chance to hit the target. In other words, it is no use having a fast fire control tracking speed if the weapon can't point in the right direction quickly enough and it is no use having a fast weapon tracking speed if the fire control can't make use of it. You need to match weapons with appropriate fire control systems as part of your class design process.

Turrets

You might be asking, why have I just created a 12,000 km/s fire control system then if this bucket of bolts has no chance of going at anything like that speed? Good question! That is why we have turreted weapons. A weapon mounted in a turret has a tracking speed equal to the tracking speed of the turret rather than the speed of the ship. So we had better put our 10cm laser in a turret. Open the F2 window, go to the Research tab and select Energy Weapons. Instant the tech for Turret Tracking Speed 2000 km/s and Turret Tracking Speed 3000 km/s. Now click the Turrets button in the row of buttons along the bottom of the window.

The top right of the Turret Design Window shows the best technology available for both fire control speed rating and turret tracking speed. The Turret Calibre and Type section allows us to choose the type of beam weapon and whether this will be a single, dual, triple or quad turret. The Turret Components section allows us to choose the desired tracking speed of the turret and any armour for the turret. We won't bother with armour for this turret but we do want to change the tracking speed. Before we do so, note that the Rotation Gear % is 33%. This is how much space is required for the turret itself rather than the weapons it will mount. Better Turret Tracking Speed technology will reduce this percentage. A turret will require rotation gear of 10% if the Desired Tracking Speed is equal to the Turret Tracking Speed technology. Because the desired turret tracking speed is currently set to 10,000 km/s, which is 3.3x the turret tracking technology speed of 3000 km/s, the percentage is also multiplied by 3.3x and therefore becomes 33%. Change the desired tracking speed to 12,000 km/s so it will match the fire control system we designed earlier. Note the rotation gear percentage increases to 40% (because 12000/3000 x 10% = 40%). You don't need to remember the formulae. Just remember that higher desired tracking speed = more turret rotation gear and that improving the turret tracking tech will reduce the amount of rotation gear you need. Once the desired tracking speed is changed our turret should look like this:

Single 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret
Damage Output 3x1      Rate of Fire: 5 seconds     Range Modifier: 3
Max Range 90,000 km    Turret Size: 5    Armour: 0    Turret HTK: 1
Power Requirement: 3    Power Recharge per 5 Secs: 3
Cost: 25    Crew: 30
Maximum Tracking Speed: 12000km/s
Materials Required: 13x Duranium  3x Corbomite  9x Corundium  
Development Cost for Project: 250RP

Most of this information is similar to that for a normal laser, except for turret size and max tracking speed. Also the damage output has 3x1, with the 1 representing a single weapon in this turret. Note that the turret is 5 HS (hull spaces) compared to only 3 HS for the standard 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser. This 5 HS comprises the 3 HS for the laser and 1.2 HS for the turret rotation gear (3HS x 40%), rounded up to 5 HS. Try changing this to a twin turret. It should appear as below:

Twin 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret
Damage Output 3x2      Rate of Fire: 5 seconds     Range Modifier: 3
Max Range 90,000 km    Turret Size: 9    Armour: 0    Turret HTK: 2
Power Requirement: 6    Power Recharge per 5 Secs: 6
Cost: 45    Crew: 60
Maximum Tracking Speed: 12000km/s
Materials Required: 21x Duranium  6x Corbomite  18x Corundium  
Development Cost for Project: 450RP

The damage output is now 3x2 because there are two lasers in the turret each capable of 3 damage. The power requirement has also doubled to 6. However, because there are 2 lasers, each with its own C3 capacitor, the power recharge per 5 seconds is also 6. The size is 9 HS. This comprises 6 HS for the two lasers plus 2.4 HS for the turret gear (6 x 40%), rounded up to nine. Which means the twin turret is more efficient in terms of size because two single turrets would total 10 HS. Check the options for triple and quad turrets and you will find they are 13 HS and 17 HS respectively. They are slightly more efficient in terms of size but 17 HS is a large system so not quite as flexible when trying to fit everything into a ship design. Go back to the twin option.

We still have some wasted space in this twin turret design as the rotation gear plus weapons only adds up to 8.4 HS and is being rounded up to 9 HS, Is there anything we can do with the 0.6 HS? Actually, there is. If you increase the tracking speed to 15,000 km/s, the gear required will be 3 HS instead of 2.4 HS. The turret will still only be 9 HS and it will cost the same but it will include some future-proofing for free. When our new warship design eventually gets out of date, you could perhaps refit it with an improved fire control system based on more advanced technology. The turret will already be capable of matching up with a fire control that has a tracking speed of up to 15,000 km/s. Use Create to accept our new twin turret and use Instant on the Research tab under energy weapons. Go back to the class design window, change to the Design View tab, remove the existing 10cm laser and replace it with our new twin turret. The ship should now look like this:

Ark Royal class Cruiser    3500 tons     363 Crew     314.5 BP      TCS 70  TH 200  EM 0
2857 km/s     Armour 1-20     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 13
Annual Failure Rate: 98%    IFR: 1.4%    Maintenance Capacity 56 MSP    Max Repair 45 MSP

Nuclear Thermal Engine E10 (8)    Power 25    Fuel Use 100%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 25.7 billion km   (104 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret (1x2)    Range 90,000km     TS: 15000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 3    ROF 5        3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (1)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 6 6 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

As you can see the turret has a tracking speed of 15,000 km/s so it can easily handle the fire control with the 12,000 km/s tracking speed. Also note that because we just increased the size of the ship, the speed has dropped to 2857 km/s. The tracking speed for the 15cm Laser (which isn't turret-mounted) has therefore reverted to the Empire's best tracking speed technology of 3000 km/s. Lets add a second 10cm twin turret and a second 15cm laser. When we get to combat I will explain how to link weapon systems to fire controls. For now we are happy that this design has some long ranged 15cm lasers and a long-ranged fire control plus two anti-missile turrets with a suitable fast-tracking fire control.

If you look at the design errors box in the bottom right you will see a message for insufficient life support. Check the Life Support section near the centre of the left hand edge and you will see Required Crew is 463 and Life Support is 250. Add a crew quarters to correct the life support problem. We'll have to keep an eye on this as we still have a few systems to add and the required crew is very likely going to rise above 500.

Power

Our next task is to provide some power for those lasers. We have two 15cm lasers, each with a power of 6-3 and two twin 10cm turrets, each with a power of 6-6. The first number is the total power required to fire and the second is the power required per 5 seconds. That second figure is the one for which we need to provide power as power plants (also known as reactors) are rated in the amount of power they produce per 5 seconds. So the total power we need to provide is 18 (3 each for two 15cm lasers, 6 each for two turrets). Open up the Research tab of the Economics window and give yourself the Pebble Bed Reactor Technology. We already have Pressurised Water Reactors but we should have plenty of Starting RP remaining so lets go for a better model. Once Pebble Bed Reactors are available, that opens up the next engine technology and the third reactor technology. Leave those for now but remember that each new engine tech will have a pre-requisite reactor tech.

Use the Design button to open up the Create Research project window and select Power Plants. The Power vs Efficiency dropdown is for a line of tech that can increase reactor output at the cost of an increased chance of secondary explosion if the reactor is hit. We haven't researched anything in that tech line, or any internal armour, so leave those alone for now. Choose a Size of 1. Any system below 1 HS has a HTK of 0 so if it takes damage the system is destroyed and the damage is also applied against another system. Our power plant design should appear as below. Note the Power Output of 3. Use Create and Instant then return to the class design window.

Pebble Bed Reactor
Power Output: 3     Internal Armour: 0     Explosion Chance: 5
Reactor Size: 1 HS    Reactor HTK: 1
Cost: 9    Crew: 5
Materials Required: 2.25x Duranium  0x Neutronium  6.75x Boronide
Development Cost for Project: 90RP

The Pebble Bed Reactor should be on the list of available components. As we need 18 power and the reactor produces 3, add six of them to the design. If you look at the Power Systems section at the centre left, you can see that Reactor Power is 18 and Power required is also 18. For some designs it might be worth including extra reactors for redundancy in case of damage. If you lose a reactor it will reduce the total power available and increase the time required to recharge weapons.

Sensors

Although the beam weapons are short-ranged compared to missiles, the ship will need to find and target its enemies so we need one or more active sensors. We already designed an active sensor with a twenty million kilometer range for our geological survey ship so lets add one of those. That sensor won't be suitable for detecting missiles though so we will need a second sensor with a resolution of zero. By the way, if you have no idea what I am talking about at this point then please review the active sensor portion of Part 4: Basic Ship Creation. If you are familiar with active sensors and resolutions then open up the Create Research Project window and select Active Sensors / Missile Fire Control. Change to an Antenna Size of 1 HS and leave the resolution as Zero. This sensor only has a 100,000 km range but as our 10cm lasers can't fire at targets more than 90,000 km away that is sufficient. Create and Instant this sensor then add it to the design. You will also need a third crew quarters due to increasing crew requirements. Our warship should now look like this:

Ark Royal class Cruiser    4700 tons     518 Crew     500 BP      TCS 94  TH 200  EM 0
2127 km/s     Armour 1-24     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 26
Annual Failure Rate: 176%    IFR: 2.5%    Maintenance Capacity 66 MSP    Max Repair 45 MSP

Nuclear Thermal Engine E10 (8)    Power 25    Fuel Use 100%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 19.1 billion km   (104 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret (2x2)    Range 90,000km     TS: 15000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 3    ROF 5        3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (2)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 6 6 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pebble Bed Reactor (6)     Total Power Output 18    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor S10-R1 (1)     GPS 10     Range 100k km    Resolution 1
Active Search Sensor S20-R100 (1)     GPS 2000     Range 20.0m km    Resolution 100

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

Notice that the speed is dropping and the Annual Failure Rate is rising. We will need to address these at some point. For now let's complete our sensor suite by adding some passive sensors. Go back to the Create Research Project Window and select Thermal Sensors. This is nice and simple with only three dropdowns. The first one just shows our current thermal sensor tech, which is 5, and the last one is for hardening against electronic damage, which we won't bother with for now as we don't have that tech line. Change the Antenna Size to 2 HS. The Thermal Sensor Sensitivity for this sensor is now 10 as we have the base tech of 5 multiplied by 2 HS. The thermal sensitivity of this sensor will determine at what range it can detect a given thermal signature. Lets assume it was detecting our own ship. Check the right hand end of the top line of the class summary and you will see TH 200. This is the thermal signature of this class at top speed and is derived from the total power output of the engines (8 x 25). To find the range at which this sensor (sensitivity 10) can detect this ship (signature 200), multiply them together and multiply the result by 1000 to get the range in kilometers. 200 x 10 x 1000 is two million kilometers. A ship with a thermal signature of 1000 would be detected at 1000 x 10 x 1000 = ten million kilometers.

A population also has a thermal signature. Check the Summary tab of the Economics window and if this is the tutorial the thermal signature (toward the bottom right) of our population is 11897. So this would be detected at 11897 x 10 x 1000 = almost one hundred and twenty million kilometers. Create and Instant this sensor and add it to our design. You will see that the summary will give you the detection range for a signature of 1000 so you can extrapolate from that if necessary. Or you can open the System Map and switch to the Sensors sidebar view. Click the Show Passive Sensor Ranges checkbox. As you drag the slider, the range of any passive sensors against the signature strength set by that slider will show as a blue circle on the system map. The most obvious one will be the circle surrounding Earth, which has deep space sensors with very high thermal sensitivity. The Show Passive Sensor Range can be used for both Thermal and EM (which we cover in a moment) sensors as their detection formulae against a given signature size are the same.

Now go back to the Create Research Project window and select EM Detection Sensors. EM, which is short for electromagnetic, sensors will detect shield emissions but are primarily used to detect the emissions of active sensors, which I will cover in a moment. Create/Instant a 2 HS EM Sensor and add it to your class design. The design should now appear as follows:

Ark Royal class Cruiser    4950 tons     538 Crew     521 BP      TCS 99  TH 200  EM 0
2020 km/s     Armour 1-25     Shields 0-0     Sensors 10/10/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 26
Annual Failure Rate: 196%    IFR: 2.7%    Maintenance Capacity 66 MSP    Max Repair 45 MSP

Nuclear Thermal Engine E10 (8)    Power 25    Fuel Use 100%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 18.2 billion km   (104 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret (2x2)    Range 90,000km     TS: 15000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 3    ROF 5        3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (2)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 6 6 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pebble Bed Reactor (6)     Total Power Output 18    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor S10-R1 (1)     GPS 10     Range 100k km    Resolution 1
Active Search Sensor S20-R100 (1)     GPS 2000     Range 20.0m km    Resolution 100
Thermal Sensor TH2-10 (1)     Sensitivity 10     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km
EM Detection Sensor EM2-10 (1)     Sensitivity 10     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

The EM Detection Sensor has a sensitivity of 10, the same as the thermal sensor. For the purposes of detecting active sensor emissions, the strength of an active sensor's signature is its GPS (grav pulse strength) value. On our own ship design the two active sensors have GPS values of 10 and 2000. The GPS value is calculated from strength x resolution (but you don't need to remember that). EM detection works with exactly the same formula as Thermal detection. So our own EM Sensor, with sensitivity 10, could detect our large search sensor, with its GPS of 2000, at 2000 x 10 x 1000 = 20 million kilometers. If that EM Sensor had a sensitivity of 12, the detection range would be 24 million and a ship with this EM Sensor would therefore detect the emissions from the above active sensor (if it was switched on) before the ship with the active sensor could detect the ship mounting the EM sensor. Bear in mind that engaging active sensors might give away your position to EM Sensors. Imagine how far away planetary EM sensors could detect you. Lets check and find out. Go back to the sensor tab on the system map sidebar, make sure Show Passive Sensor Ranges is checked and also choose the x10 option. Now drag the slider until it has a value of approximately 2000. Look for the blue circle surrounding Earth (you might have to zoom out). If the ship above engaged its active sensor anywhere in that circle, those sensor emissions would be detected by the planetary sensors on Earth. The sensitivity per HS of thermal and EM sensors ship-based sensors can be increased through research. You can also increase planetary sensor strength by researching (oddly enough) Planetary Sensor Strength.

Engineering & Fuel

Right, lets get back to our class design. We have weapons, power, fire controls and sensors so its time to do a little housekeeping. The failure rate is very high so lets add a couple of Engineering Spaces. These decrease the failure rate and increase the maintenance capacity. The range is limited so add a second Fuel Storage system. Warships are not much use if they are easily destroyed so we need to increase our armour. Firstly, review the armour section in Part 4: Basic Class Design if you are uncertain about the armour system in Aurora. Then increase the armour to 3. Note that this increases ship size from 5100 tons to 5650 tons. If you had better armour tech you could add the same protection using less hull space. Now the speed has fallen all the way down to 1769 km/s so add a couple more engines to take us above 2000 km/s. The ship should now look like this:

Ark Royal class Cruiser    6200 tons     611 Crew     639 BP      TCS 124  TH 250  EM 0
2016 km/s     Armour 3-30     Shields 0-0     Sensors 10/10/0/0     Damage Control Rating 3     PPV 26
Annual Failure Rate: 102%    IFR: 1.4%    Maintenance Capacity 193 MSP    Max Repair 45 MSP

Nuclear Thermal Engine E10 (10)    Power 25    Fuel Use 100%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 29.0 billion km   (166 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser Turret (2x2)    Range 90,000km     TS: 15000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 3    ROF 5        3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 0
15cm C3 Near Ultraviolet Laser (2)    Range 180,000km     TS: 3000 km/s     Power 6-3     RM 3    ROF 10        6 6 6 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
Fire Control S04 96-3000 (1)    Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 3000 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Fire Control S04 24-12000 (1)    Max Range: 48,000 km   TS: 12000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pebble Bed Reactor (6)     Total Power Output 18    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor S10-R1 (1)     GPS 10     Range 100k km    Resolution 1
Active Search Sensor S20-R100 (1)     GPS 2000     Range 20.0m km    Resolution 100
Thermal Sensor TH2-10 (1)     Sensitivity 10     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km
EM Detection Sensor EM2-10 (1)     Sensitivity 10     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km

This design is classed as a military vessel for maintenance purposes

Since we added engineering and fuel, the failure rate has gone up again and the fuel range came down due to the increased size from extra armour and engines. At some point though we just have to accept the figures or we will be adding systems forever. So we have finally completed the design for our first warship. This design was intended as a tutorial so don't accept it as a great design. Different players would modify it in different ways to suit their own style and the tech levels of different components vary considerably. It has much better fire control and weapon tech than armour, engine and sensor tech for example. It is intended for education and, as you play, you will find your own experiences in the game will guide future ship design. Different people will have different experiences and consequently will often develop different views on design, just like real life.

This is probably a good point to look at the Component Summary tab on the Class Design window. This lists all of the components in your design, along with the amount of each component and their size, cost, crew and HTK. You can sort on any of these using the buttons on the right and use this information to analyze your design. For example, in this case 40.3% of the hull space and 18.8% of the cost is dedicated to engines while the Engineering Spaces are just 2.4% of the space and 1.6% of the cost. This section is just for reference but it can be enlightening when looking at just where your money is going.

Open the Fast OB Creation window from the SpaceMaster menu, select Battle Task Group and your new design. Enter 3 in the number field and press Add. Congratulations, you are no longer totally defenceless.