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Modular fleet design

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There is a strong temptation to build massive battleships early in the game, because Bigger Is Better, right? So you design and order a few 40,000-ton behemoths that consume massive amounts of money and minerals and take forever to get built. Then you realize that their systems were outdated by the time they were launched and you don't have maintenance facilities capable of supporting them. The following approach might work better:

Think of each ship as a module of a battlefleet. For example:

  • destroyers, adding mostly offensive missile capability
  • frigates, adding mostly defensive missile capability
  • escorts with beam point defense
  • a jump-capable tender to move your fleet across jump points
  • tankers
  • ammunition colliers
  • ships having specialized sensors, like very large thermals or active sensors designed to detect fighters
  • even small carriers can add long-range scouts for tactical reconnaissance or fighter defense

A warship class might have a mixture of launchers, so even a single frigate can have a little offensive capability.

Do not waste lots of mass on redundancy. If your jump-tender stays out of trouble, your warships don't need to be jump-capable themselves. One large active or thermal sensor per task group detects as much as five. Large magazines can be put on colliers.

If you find that your fleets' capabilities are lacking in some respects, add more modules: tankers extend your range, frigates and escorts help to defend your ships, destroyers add punch, colliers add ammo depth etc.

Smaller ships are easier to build, can be built in smaller shipyards, can be maintained at smaller colonies, give you more strategic flexibility and are easier and cheaper to refit with new tech.