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Ships are the focus of Aurora, with the player commanding ships arranged into task groups. Ships are designed using Components, both core components and player designed components. After being designed, ships are produced at a shipyard.
Depending on their components, ships are broadly classed as either commercial or military ships. Most useful or high-powered equipment will earn a ship a military classification, requiring it to undergo regular maintenance while moored or underway. Commercial vessels may also be built at commercial shipyards, which are generally cheaper to build and maintain than their naval counterparts.
Basic Design Theory
Ships have three counterbalancing factors in their construction - Speed, Capability and Economy.
- Speed allows ships to cross distances quickly, dictate range in combat and perform more tasks during their deployment time.
- Capability is anything else the ship can do, such as fight, carry cargo, carry extra fuel to increase range, etc.
- Economy is the time and resources needed to construct the ship as well as the constant upkeep in fuel and maintenance it incurs.
For any ship, two of these factors may be chosen at a penalty to the other. A fast and cheap ship will sacrifice range and capability, a capable and cheap ship will not move quickly, and a ship which is both fast and capable will cost substantially more to build and outfit.
For a step-by-step overview of the ship design process, please see Basic Ship Creation.
In Aurora the player has great flexibility as a designer when building ships. Ship roles, ship size and fleet composition varies depending on the nature of each navy and its primary mission. There are no predefined roles for ships built into Aurora aside from a few size-based classifications expanded on in the next section, and what your empire technology, economy and infrastructure can support.
The following list gives a few general roles that tend to occur naturally in fleet design but is by no means comprehensive or definitive.
These ships are armed with offensive weaponry, although the ship and its weapons may be employed in offensive or defensive roles. These military designs are typically faster and more agile than other ships of the same size.
These are small, fast, short-range craft that cannot operate independently, and must be carried into battle by larger ships or deployed from planetary defense hangars.
- Fighters - Defined by the game as 500 tons or less, fighters are a produced in fighter factories rather than shipyards. They are stocked to carrier ships that have hangar space and deployed in the field from a mobile platform. While fast and cheap, they normally have minimal weaponry or are used as a way to deploy box launchers en masse.
- Fast Attack Craft - Commonly shortened to FAC, a fast attack craft is any ship between 500 and 1000 tons. While they must be constructed at a shipyard like larger ships, any ship under 1000 tons is not required to have a Bridge, which frees up space for extra weaponry or engine power. FACs are commonly deployed from carriers or planetary bases to limit the amount of fuel they must carry.
These are the smallest independently operating ships in the fleet, commonly used for reconnaissance, incursion and escort missions. Although individually weak when compared to capital ships, they are inexpensive to build and can become quite potent in large numbers. They can use their speed to harass the heavier capital ships while protecting their own from enemy escorts attempting to do the same.
- Frigate - Normally a light, quick and maneuverable multi-role warship, capable as scouts, skirmishers and anti-fighter escorts. As scouts, they are designed small and fast with extra range and a reduced thermal signature. Skirmishers designed to counter enemy fighters, bombers and escorts will require a speed and range advantage to split off from a main force and make their catch.
- Destroyer - A ship carrying specialized weaponry to combat specific threats. Destroyers are relatively heavily armed warships for their size, but commensurately ill-defended and with poor independent range. The actual vessels vary greatly between navies, but are usually designed to engage multiple small, fast enemies (typically fighters and missile swarms) or are loaded with Point Defense batteries. They may also have some anti-ship capability, but are not generally designed to go up against capital ships except as part of a larger force.
- Cruiser - A medium-sized vessel, able to operate independently. Cruisers have the firepower and speed to be used for almost any sort of duty, including patrols, blockades, raids, and straight-up firefights. Cruisers are divided into many sub-types depending on their role, such as combat, fast response or fleet support.
These are among the largest warships and the true power of any navy. Whether due to their heavy armament and protection or carrying capacity for smaller spacecraft, capital ships allow you to bring the most firepower and durability to a fight. Capable of force projection and independent operation, they can control entire systems but are usually escorted by a large supporting fleet. Additionally, some assign a security marine detachment to these high value vessels.
- Battleship - A large heavily armed, armored and or shielded warship. Battleships are considered the backbone of any military fleet.
- Dreadnought - A heavy battleship with colossal amounts of armament, heavy armor and or shields, these ships represent the ultimate projection of naval power and are considered the pride of most naval fleets which incorporate them. Dreadnoughts usually serve as the flagship for the Task Force Commander of the Fleet, though this is not always necessarily the case.
- Carrier - A dedicated ship designed to hold, deploy and support smaller craft. Carriers can carry large squadrons of fighters, FACs and other small craft, as well as providing the fleet with ship repair functionality while underway. They usually lack substantial armaments, instead relying on large numbers of fighters or fleet escorts to protect them. Their spacecraft can strike targets from far outside the range of most fire controls.
These ships are designed to operate in many roles, supporting combatant ships and civilian operations. Auxiliaries are not primary combatants although some may have limited combat capacity, usually for basic self-defense.
Exploration and Research
These vessels are employed to provide a better understanding of your operating environment. They typically come with jump engines, large Fuel Storage for ships of their size, and are fitted with various sensors.
- Recon Ship - Scout ship, used to explore new systems and seeking out colonizable planets early on, and being used to acquire intelligence on enemy actions and other points of interest throughout the game. Intended for interstellar and long distance flight, they are designed with jump drives and sometimes cloaking or reduced thermal signature.
- Gravsurvey Ship - Deep-space exploration craft, configured to conduct a Gravitational Survey to map systems' jump points. Designed with Gravitational Survey Sensors.
- Geosurvey Ship - Planetary surveyor, configured to conduct an orbital Geological Survey of planets to reveal their mineral composition. Designed with Geological Survey Sensors.
These vessels or platforms are used for logistics and infrastructure. Typically employing commercial designs, they are slow and cumbersome. Used both by the military and the civilian sector.
- Freighter - Configured to provide large-scale hauling capabilities, used to transport installations and minerals from one planet to another.
- Colony Ship - Configured to carry colonists to new worlds, or to supplement civilian efforts on existing ones. Designed with facilities for Cryogenic Transport.
- Sorium Harvester - Configured for Sorium harvesting, these ships or platforms operate in orbit of Sorium rich gas giants and refine fuel directly from the planet.
- Asteroid Miner - Configured for Asteroid mining these ships or platforms operate in orbit of mineral rich asteroids and mine them.
- Terraformer - These ships or platforms act as orbital terraforming installations to aid in a Terraforming project.
These vessels are focused on assisting other ships transiting though or out of the system, or for bringing supplies on and off of other ships.
- Tug - Configured to provide mobility to platforms and vessels with limited or no movement capability. Designed with a tractor beam.
- Jump Tender - Configured to tender ships across jump points, either as part of military task force or as a temporary stand-in until a Jump Gate can be constructed.
- Jump Gate Constructors - These ships are equipped with at Jump Gate Construction Module, allowing them to build jump gates at jump points.
- Salvager - Configured for salvage operations of floating ship debris in space. Designed with Salvage Module, and possibly a cargo component.
- Tanker - Configured to transport and provide fuel for other ships, used to support extended fleet operations. Designed with large Fuel Storage capacity.
- Collier - Configured to carry ammunition, usually for missile warships. Designed with large magazines.
- Supply Ship - Configured to carry maintenance supplies, to support ship maintenance and repair while underway. Designed with large maintenance storage bays.
- Hospital Ship, configured with extra crew berths, to accommodate combat survivors without overcrowding combat ships. Designed with Cryogenic Transport capabilities.
Any ship design can be designated as Tankers, supply ships, and colliers in Class Design, which will change the ruleset of the design. Designs are not limited to one of those classes.
- Tanker; When a class is marked as a tanker, other ships see this as a valid location to refuel via orders and conditions. Task forces containing tanker-flagged ships can also be ordered to refuel other task forces and load and unload fuel. Tankers built with only 10% fuel loaded.
- Collier; Other ships see this class as a valid location to restock ammunition via orders and conditions. When another ship has run out of ammo and this ship is in the task group, magazines can be reloaded from this ships magazines if valid missile series are present.
- Supply Ship; Other ships see this as a valid location to resupply maintenance supply via orders and conditions.