Today in our extensive HighFleet guide series the art of ship building. In this article we’ll give you a bunch of techniques, philosophies, concepts, and handy tricks on how to build the best ships. As we’ve covered in our complete beginner’s guide, the Shipworks aren’t the ideal place for beginners. If you have a solid understanding of how the game functions and what you need from a self-designed ship, this is a tutorial for you!
Everything we cover are things I test and apply in my own playthroughs, but I wouldn’t have been able to without the HighFleet Reddit and Newageofpower’s amazing Steam Community guide. With shout outs out of the way, let’s take off.
HighFleet Ship Building Guide
First, let’s talk design philosophy before we go into specific tips and tricks. HighFleet lets you build whatever you want, given that your creation has enough power and thrust-to-weight-ratio to fly. But the Shipworks are a sandbox; you can build whatever you want, but most of it is going to fall apart in seconds.
So as a preliminary HighFleet ship building guide to greatness: build ships with purpose in mind. Whatever you’re building must always be specialized, rarely a jack of all trades. Below you’ll find many examples of why this design philosophy is important.
The art of absence
I gave the example of a tanker in a previous article. It needs to carry a lot of fuel and not use much itself. So building a tanker does not require armor, guns, sensors, or other stuff. It doesn’t need to be maneuverable, preferably just quick.
Fighting ships also require you to really think of the application of it compared to its cost. A ship meant to take cities by surprise needs to be fast and small, so armor isn’t a priority. If a ship needs to be able to withstand some punishment, more armor, active countermeasures, weapons, and other jazz come into play.
Here’s are some examples of how not to do it: A fighter with sensors is super expensive because it’ll inevitably lose costly sensors in battle. So ideally your scanner ship never enters combat, therefore it doesn’t need armor or weapons. The opposite is also true; if a ship is meant to fight, it only needs modules to help it achieve air superiority.
Conversely, taking standard HighFleet designs and improving them can help you out immensely. For example, if you buy a Vokshod X2 or Yars Mk2 (seen below), notice how they carry unncessary crap. The Yars is a long range missile launcher, yet it has armor. It should never come close to damage.
The Vokshod is a recon support ship. Yet it has two low caliber machine guns, presumably to shoot down enemy missiles and planes. But it rarely comes to that, so it costs way to much to haul all that dead weight around.
So, the art of absence describes a thinking pattern where you only outfit a ship with things it actually needs. The striptease part works on existing ships that need to shed some pounds. A ship has one purpose, therefor everything else you put on there is a waste of money. Or worse, excess armor, guns, thrusters or fancy modules could inhibit its fighting capabilities. Strip a ship of everything it does not need.
Hierarchy of importance
Next, let’s dive into actual building. When designing a ship, say a fighter, you’ll want to think about where to put things, right? Every fighting ship needs a bridge, thrusters, fuel, power, ammo, and weapons. As we’ve explained in our HighFleet combat guide, ship building requires you to think about which parts are expendable, and which ones aren’t.
Because of the ‘2.5D’ combat design of HighFleet, you’ll know which parts will receive damage first; the ones on the outside. So obviously, any armor is stuck on the outside of the ship. Let’s work inwards now; which components should go where?
- The Bridge is the brain of the ship. Upon loss: Instant death
- Ammo is needed to fire your guns, but if exposed can lead to chain reactions and huge internal explosions. Upon loss: Critical damage
- Fuel can explode, but does so after a relatively long period of time of being on fire. This gives you plenty of time to extinguish fires. Upon loss: Potentially high damage
- Your crew mans every part of your ship, and Crew Quarters fill up those slots. Upon loss: Modules stop functioning. But bring enough crew, and nothing really happens when an entire squad gets blow to pieces.
- Generators power things like thrusters. They’re important to keep the ship running, but as with the Crew Quarters, if you bring enough power, you won’t crash to earth as soon as you lose one generator. Upon loss: Modules stop functioning
- Lastly, we’ve got hull, thrusters, sensors, rockets, guns, and other structural parts. They’re almost always expendable and thus should be positioned on the very outsides of ships. Upon loss: Well, you can’t use them anymore, but usually it’s no big deal at all.
So that leaves us with a basic ship design that applies to any aircraft that wil likely receive damage. It’s built in the following order (outside, moving inwards): Armor -> Hull, structural parts, sensors, escape pods etc. -> Thrusters, guns -> Generators -> Crew quarters -> Fuel -> Ammo -> Bridge.
Elevation on Z-axis
Another huge tip no HighFleet ship building guide could do without, is the use of smart elevation. While damage is registered over a 2D axis, there’s a third that comes into play when you fire projectiles. The Z-axis.
Some components like large fuel tanks block projectiles, thus creating dead angles. The standard Archangel (below) can’t fire both main guns simultaneously to the left or right, only up and down. By elevating a 2×2 hull part on the Z-axis, guns can fire over large fuel tanks. That can make all the difference in a fight, depending on your position. Here’s how you elevate a hull part:
Cramming more in less
Lastly, I briefly want to touch on placement of modules in a tight a space as possible. The less real estate you use, the smaller a target you are. You also weigh less, making you more maneuverable and cheaper to run in terms of fuel.
One technique to do so is by using little nooks and crannies that basic hull shapes leave behind. Just check out the image below. Shoutout to Newageofpower for finding this one. The original author is u/Facehurt but I couldn’t find him on Reddit. If you’re out there, you’ve made many of my builds significantly smaller!
Image credit: Microprose
Header image demonstration based on the Yevpatoria by u/Daniellecarth