Manual:Gameplay Tactics

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Introduction

This page collects some of the information, tips and tricks for a better game play experience. It's a collection of interesting discussion points from the forums, mainly from the Gameplay Tactics Forum

Navigation & Orientation

The number of reachable systems is ~2K. This value will not likely change in order of magnitude when we get around to regenerating the universe description with a larger (~40K vs. ~4K) input set of known star data. You can do the same thing with 40K systems that you do with the bulk of the 4K systems - look at the pretty dots on the map (if you feel like it).

The Vega Strike universe is dynamic. That means that fleets and ships will move from system to system. However, what system links to what system will stay constant.

Useful key bindings:

  • "A" engages the auto-pilot
  • "Shift+A" engages the SPEC drive
  • "HOME" matches velocity
  • "Shift+M" toggles the navigation computer

Space Flight

Inertia is modeled quite well in this game. Mass has effect on the maneuverability of your ship. Anything in your cargo hold has it's mass added to your net mass so it affects your moment of inertia. Notice the difference flying empty versus full. Also the strength of your ship's thrusters determine how fast you can accelerate.

The problem with big heavy ships is Delta-V, or Delta-Velocity - an unfortunate reality of spaceflight. This doesn't mean the ship is unflyable. It should preferably be used for in-system interplanetary work, between planets close enough to get a bead on. Say an Ocean-Ice run. Give it all the engine upgrades it can take, especially for aftward thrust - it'll help cancel out the Delta-V. For further distances you must get close, unSPEC and decelerate - actually push your speed into the negatives - then, when stopped, get a better bead on your target. Just don't expect to turn an oil tanker around as easy as you could steer your car (or bike if you don't have one). And don't do corners. You are piloting (helming would be more accurate) a ship which weights upwards of 3000 metric tons.

Technically if you pilot anything with a moderate to ridiculous (note:capships) discrepancy between fore and aft acceleration and orthogonal acceleration (lateral and vertical if it's different), it's a good idea to kill your thrusters before attempting to turn. If you want to do it faster, kill your thrusters first, turn around 180 degrees, and proceed to fire afterburners (and set max speed, it might help) to decrease your velocity rapidly. Once your velocity is zero, turn and accelerate toward where you want to go. Switch on SPEC, switch to flight mode to achieve a moderate speed increase over your normal flight speed and switch back to normal flight mode when the SPEC multiplier starts climbing up.

Navigation Computer

You start with the system map, which can get awfully unreadable when there are many ships in the system.

There is an "Up" button in that mode, so you can see the sectors and systems, not the current system in detail. If you have difficulties reading, try swapping the axis, or the view mode from 2d to 3d. Sometimes you may figure out more then.

The nav map is a lot more helpful if you hit the 2D/3D/ortho button until your map is 2D (should take one click). You'll know it's 2D because if you click-drag it around, it looks like a flat map instead of rotating around a center point. (Also, it's a lot faster). Middle-click-hold and dragging the mouse up and down zooms in and out. Double-clicking on a node will center the map on that node. Hitting "down" to the system view, then "up" to the jump map, you'll automatically be re-centered on your current system. Scroll the map around until you find your intended destination system, or use the "systems" tab. Target your destination using the "target" button. Then hit the "path on/off/only" button until only your path shows (less confusing). Zoom around until you can see the next node in your path. Find that node in the current system using the targetting system ("n" and "N", don't use the system map). Aim for it, fly towards it, jump through it. Revisit your map, find your next jump target, and repeat the process.

Radar

The circle on the left is your forward radar, the one on the right is your aft radar.

Dots are all objects. Ships, planets, missiles, space stations... all have a dot. If you have a radar that support friend/foe, friends will be green, foes will be orange to red, and foes actively targeting you will be light blue. Neutral points like planets and jumps should be white or yellow.

It's actually more of a direction tracker. There's no distance indication, so a ship flying on your wing at less than 1000m looks the same as a ship 200km away in radar. You can only rely on the radar to give you angles to targets.

Dots will remain at the outer rim of one radar display when they move into the field of the other, e.g. when you pass a ship, it's dot will slide to the outside edge of your forward radar, then on the rear radar, you will see its dot move away from the edge.

Cap Ship Deliveries

When you have delivery missions to capital ships, consider this: currently the ship has no idea that you are coming so it just goes about it's business unaware of you. There are a couple of new targeting keys that you might find useful:

  • "Ctrl+N" - cycles mission targets
  • "Alt+N" - reverses targetting of mission target
  • "Ctrl+0" - request docking clearance: if a neutral or friendly vessel is in SPEC, it will drop out of SPEC for 20 seconds upon a request to dock

Cap Ship Maneuvering

Tesla is one of the best handling and best equipped of the human cap ships. The trick to maneuvering the Tesla, or any big cap for that matter, is to remember the forward, aft, and orthogonal acceleration. For example, my Tesla makes 2.07g forward, 2.74g aft, and only 0.13g ortho... That means that getting up to speed, or slowing down is no problem. But, if you leave the thrusters on during a turn, or try to turn while you have a high velocity, you are accelerating along a second vector. Essentially, you are traveling in some given arc based on your previous velocity and your current thrust vector. The problem is, with such minimal sidewards thrust, the ship is not capable of righting this motion very quickly. Theoretically, if you knew the exact heading of your direction of travel, you could make steerage to that precise heading and use your forward or aft thrust capability to reduce that motion much more quickly. However, as there is currently no indicator of exact heading, and using the stars' position is not likely to help much, this is currently nearly impossible. Therefore, I've found the best way to maneuver a cap ship is to always reduce thrust to zero before making a steerage adjustment, unless it is a very small course correction, perhaps no more than a degree or two. Find your heading, presumably toward a point of interest which you have selected as a nav or combat target, then wait until your velocity approaches zero before reengaging the main thrusters. Don't get me wrong, its never going to handle like a Schroedinger, but with some thrust and inertia enhancement, it can be nimble for its size. And when you put those big LR Pminus MK IV's to work, its well worth it. 150 Kilometer range with staggeringly devastating damage will make quick work of light sub caps, and put major hurts on pretty much anything I've come across.

Merchandising

Cargo Trading

Is easy once you analyze the wants and needs of the system you are in. Try loading one item of everything you think that might be needed where you are going to trade. Make a list of all the merchandise you can buy and what it costs. Load a small amount of anything you think might sell at a station or mining base. Everyone needs food, that's a start. Go there sell your items and record your profit for each item. Selling lots of minor profit items balances selling just a few high profit items. Don't trust your instincts, research. Beyond that: never fly empty, three or four cornered trade pays better than there and back. Buy low, sell high, upgrade only when you have to.

An example would be buying something from the Oceanic planet in Cephid 17, and selling it to Serenity Mining Base. Here's what you can do for a start: Buy as much seafood as possible then fly to Serenity. I often get around $138 while it's only cost me about $50. On Serenity buy as much Tungsten as you can then go for Iron Ore. Nickel can be pretty good sometimes. Return to the Oceanic planet, then repeat. Also take mining equipment to Serenity. Incidentally, buy much of your starting gear like Jump Drives, Afterburners, and reactors at Serenity as it seems to be the cheapest. Make a few food runs to the military base as well. Don't purchase anything at the military base, instead make a quick trip back to the planet and do the whole food/mining gear thing and head back to Serenity.

Once you have enough money to fill your hold with cheap cargo, the interesting cargo becomes industrially manufactured good/construction, mining, and electronics. All of them are cheap at commerce centers, and medium priced at ocean planets. All of them are bought for high prices at mining bases. Ice planets and biosimple are useful, too. There are some big profit margins for some medical equipment, too.

Equipment Trading

Go to a station and to the shipyards. Then, go to Confed class and have a look what ships they have in. If there is a milspec dodo you are lucky. Buy one at a price of 50 000 credits, then sell each of its 8 heavy tractors at a price of 12 000-ish. Already you have made a profit and then sell the ship for a further 25 000, making an overall profit of 71 000 each time you do this. That trick can also be done with milspec Lancelots. Just make sure the base you're in sells reaper cannons.

Shipjacking

This way is more exciting. You need to buy a ship with tons of hold volume, e.g. the Ox. Kit it out with auto tracking tractor beams and a cloak. Then accept bounty and defend missions were there are loads of enemy ships involved. Go out to the ships as they fly through space unaware you are there (cloak), select an enemy in front of you and decloak. Once you tractor that enemy ship in, it will automatically select each ship (if not press H repeatedly)and in less than 15 seconds you will have an entire fleet of ships in your hold which you can later sell for a hansom price.

Cargo Scooping

You can find most of the cargo after battles. Go there equipped with tractor beams and scoop it up in order to sell it.

Enslaving

Whenever you destroy something a little pod comes out called a pilot. If you beam pilots in with your tractor beam then they are counted as contraband cargo and you have to sell/dump/eject them (or you can kill them with your lazors, blast em, drop em in to the sun, sell them, even sell yourself after loosing a ship if you're short of cash, keep them as kill marks (risky), play with them..., i.e pull them around with your tractor, set them free (they turn into hitchhikers)).

Missions

Rescue Missions

Rescue missions are easy. Take any fast ship with a tractor. Aim for the pilot immediately on arrival & vacuum it up. Hit flight mode & exit for the drop point. You do not need to kill anything. Any attempt to kill anything uses up pilot oxygen. Grab the pilot first and then, if you still want to kill the local ships, then you can chase them without the time limit hanging over you.

Exploration

The Way to Sol

Starting from Crucible/Cephid 17 follow Crucible/Stirling > Crucible/Agea > Crucible/War > Magellan/Steakley > Magellan/Theta Ant > Magellan/Tcsc 1613 > Sol/Hhrass > Sol/Ktrk pah > Sol/Prithivi mata > Sol/Rudras > Sol/Cairo > Sol/Ogawa > Sol/Alpha Canis Majoris > Sol/Sol

Alternative route (OR shows still another alternative): 1. Crucible: Cephid_17 2. Crucible: 17-or OR Crucible: Oldziey 3. Redemption: Quetal OR Beckett: Goddard 4. Solace: Netheemaah OR Beckett: Marie 5. Solace: Mami OR Sol: Saterne 6. Torkelsen: Tartarus OR Sol: Aeolus 7. Torkelsen: Euterpe OR Torkelsen: Euterpe 8. Vega: Laocoon 9. Sol: Lerna 10. Sol: LP_36-181 11. Sol: Lycus 12. Sol: Laius 13. Sol: Minotaur 14. Sol: Theta_Ursa_Majoris 15. Sol: Surya 16. Sol: Agni 17. Sol: Ogawa 18. Sol: Telamon OR Sol: Alpha_Canis_Majoris 19. Sol: Sol Sol: Sol

Combat

Key Bindings

Some useful keys (Shift+KEY reverses the cycling direction):

  • "T" targets just everything
  • "N" cycles through "natural" targets, like planets, jump points. That ships got selected as well is not the way it should be and a bug I think.
  • "U" cycles through "unnatural" targets, like ships
  • "H" cycles through "hostile" targets, whatever they are (I forgot this one, handy if you want to engage the cap ship behind the fighters first)
  • "K" cycles friendly ships, Shift+K gets nearest station, Ctrl+K gets nearest planet, Alt+K gets nearest jump point
  • "P" is also quite useful, since it targets the item that is closest to your target cross, so you can "aim" at the target you want to select and then hit "P". Also selects a target for your turret.
  • "HOME" match speed with target
  • "Ctrl+R" targets the nearest hostile, "Ctrl+Shift+R" targets the most dangerous (both capabilities are not in the stable 0.4.3 release, only from version 0.5.0 on)
  • "O" turns the turret AI on/off; "]" puts you in the turret for manual control

See full listing on Manual:Targeting

Combat Recommendations

Learning to fight in Vega Strike is mostly just a matter of practice. You can fight well even with the Llama. Though, get yourself some upgrades before. Generally buying auto tracking is highly recommended (even helps the accuracy of dumbfires, which gives you lots of bang for the buck).

First, try taking Bounty or Patrol or Clean Sweep missions instead of Defend. These missions will give you more time to accomplish your task. Try training in a more maneuverable fighter.

Use caution when engaging military vessels. A Llama is poorly matched against Aeran military ships, even against smallest, as their tech is quite advanced. An Andolian Goddard may kick quite a few Aeran ships' butts, but then again, it's a heavy bomber of recent manufacture. Piloting a light fighter is generally seen as much more fun than piloting a cap ship. Try the Rlaan Taizong or the Confed Dostoevsky.

At the furthest extreme, there is nothing more agile than a Dostoevsky (and the "Dosto" has its loyal following). I usually use a heavy interceptor for anything smaller than a Goddard. Lancelot has a very good top speed, but cannot accelerate or corner nearly as fast as many other fighters.

If you still have a hard time, then you can use the settings program to slow the game down while you get the knack of it.

If you are flying a ship equipped with turrets, turn them on.

When dealing with large groups, taunt them out one at a time and then thin out the group before diving in. Use a cloaking device as well when dealing with a swarm of fighters of twenty or more since they tend to swarm on you after you take out the mission targets. On large ships (like a corvette) if you take out its turrets with missiles and knock out its guns and propulsion, you can come back with something bigger and haul it off to market. One tip is to take out the subunit or the radar and the ECM, so the ship stays as blind as porcupine that you can pull out its quills one by one.

All the hulls of the cap ships have a weak point. Unfortunately it is also on the nasty side of their biggest guns or at a point to where you will be sliced and diced in a matter of milliseconds. But that it the basic design of a heavy capital ship. Carriers on the other hand are another issue. They are well armored all the way around but, like a hornets nest, if you stir one up you will be up to your arse in fighter cover in short order. Carriers need an EMP hit in order to neutralize its sensors before you lay into it. And work fast before they repair and launch their squadrons. Currently, you cannot destroy the launching bay.

Wingmen

The massive cargo hold of a capital ship can be used to turn it into a carrier. Eject star ships out as normal cargo and they'll be your wingmen. Just remember to tractor them back in at the end of the fight.

Ships

For description of ships and classes head over to database Vessels & Installations.

Those forum threads are recommended for discussion on ship selection:

Where do you find your new ship? Same as with advanced upgrades, you can try military bases, star fortresses, factories, or commerce centers. In addition, military capital ships or Trantor class planets might have stock. Although they are not always available you may try checking back from time to time on stock replenishment.

You can own one ship of each name, where milspec and stock ships are seen by the game to have different names (because they actually *do* have different names). Thus, you could potentially have 3 Llama (llama.begin, llama, llama.stock) but only 1 Clydesdale (only the milspec Clydesdale currently exists). If you wish to have 3 Lancelot fighters then you must create at least one new ship with another name even if it is only a duplicate of your existing Lancelot. The initial Llama (llama.begin) can't be sold, it's hardwired into the game. Think of it as a backup ship, if you get blasted out of your shiny new space craft.

If you want to use a ship that you already own, go and buy it under "My Fleet" and it will be *shipped* to your current location for free (if you are in the same system as the ship you want) or for a small fee of 6000 (if that ship is in another system).

In practice, a Plowshare is the best cargo value for the dollar. A Mule is as big as you need to trade the entire production of the worlds that you visit. If you want to haul home some captured capships, you might need an Ox. A Clydesdale is really too big to serve much purpose. It is only really useful for when you have run out of things to buy.

The Llama is good general purpose ship. First increase the capacity of the reactor to power everything. Shields can also be upgraded and installing auto-tracking on all mounts is recommended.

Upgrades

Where to find those juicy milspec (military specification) ships? You can usually find the milspec variant at military bases or star fortresses. Sometime even at factories or commerce centers. The problem with milspec ships is that most of the components are hardwired and unchangeable.

Currently there is no storage room implemented. But you can 'store' other weapons on other ships. For exchanging the weapons on your ship, sell the weapons you want to get rid of for now, transport your other ship to the base, sell the weapons you want (and buy up the ones you just sold in the process), transport your original ship back and buy the weapons from the other ship into the weapon mounts you want.

Weapons

Beams are superior as light/medium weapons. With heavy weapons, there are a few very good guns (i.e. confed milspec ones). The beams are both good (though heavy ion isn't so great against fighters), and the rest of the heavy guns appear to suck badly (except maybe neutron guns).

However... When you look at beam weapons, take two things into account: 1) beam attenuation rate and 2) beam stability and re-fire rate. From what I've seen, damage per second for beams is *not* for a second of continuously firing on a ship, but for a second of continuous beam operation... So a beam with 0.5 second stability, 0.5 second re-fire time, and 2000 MJ/s damage is only going to impart 1000 MJ per second of firing. Furthermore, if it has 10% beam attenuation per kilometer and a range of 4.5 kilometers, it may be able to reach out and damage an enemy 4 km away but it will be 40% less damaging at that distance.

To get your super-heavy beams legitimately, you can take your Clydesdale out for a spin and vacuum up a Tesla with your tractor beam. Then, sell the Tesla to a planet/base and purchase it into your fleet. Sell the guns off the ship and switch back to the Clydesdale. Sell the stripped Tesla and purchase the guns for your Clydesdale.

Cloaking Device

Activate it with the "C" key and be warned that certain Aera ships can sometimes see through it.

Cloaking devices are available from some Aera installations, especially fighter barracks and star fortresses. The Confed version of the cloak shows up for sale at Research Stations once in a blue moon. They are rare. I docked an Unadorned Ox and found a cloaking device (under "Experimental"), so I bought it. I have it equipped to my Uber-Llama. If you just want to fly cloaked, the Schroedinger (Scout) has a cloaking device (milspec only).

Repair Systems

There are 6 repair systems. In order of increasing effectiveness: 1. repair system 2. advanced repair system 3. repair droid 4. advanced repair droid 5. repair ai 6. advanced repair ai

Your ship will only use the best one available. There is no merit to keeping a lesser system on your ship. Repair systems will gradually repair damaged systems. The better the drone, the faster and more effective the repairs. If a device has been knocked out altogether, then you'll have to go to a shipyard - some things are beyond even the most sophisticated systems. If your shield generator's reactor has completely blown or your radar's ftl sensor array has fried, how do you propose the droid repairs it? Pull the replacement parts directly out of it's - I mean, generate them magically with little blue pixies? It will also not repair armor nor hull damage - just the critical hits to upgrade components.

Factions and Standings

The solution for most faction relation problems is shoot lots of Luddites as everyone hates them.

Secondly, if possible, find out the name of the faction/race that is trying to kill you in that system, then do certain types of missions with that race/faction and it should improve your friendship with them.

The initial system ownership is fixed, but ownership of particular systems can change during gameplay (read the news to hear about systems being taken over). Thus, a particular system, after some time has elapsed, may not have consistent ownership between two game instances. However, given the initial starting conditions being the same, the general direction of groups relative to each other (providing they have not been entirely conquered) is still valid (especially as there would have to be a few hundred systems changing hand before one has to worry about there just not _being_ any Aera, Rlaan, or Human systems).

Uln

Concentrate on Luddites for a while leave the pirates alone. That should start to reverse your fortunes with the Uln and the rest who have ties to the pirates. Fortunately, you can kill Uln without making anyone else angry, except Pirates, Luddites and Aera.

Any time you are targeted by the Uln hit the "F1" key till he stops shooting, then the next and the next. The "F1" basically is trying sending the message that you are harmless.

They are not really capable of any serious damage but still. They are like the cockroaches of the Universe. With a big enough ship, the Uln and Dgn avoid you like the plague.

LIHW

Once your relations with the LIHW start down the Confed start down as well.

The Ancients

The Ancients are a legendary race nobody in the current VS time frame knows anything about them except for certain artifacts that just prove their existence at some point. It is said that the Uln had certain activities with this mysterious race.

Campaigns

The campaign is a stub, unfortunately, and likely to remain in place for a while longer for a few key reasons:

  • We have an outline of how the large-scale actions in the VS universe should evolve, but not a convenient interface for causing them to happen as described (sufficient python hackery could do the trick, but rather tediously at the moment). Thus, the appropriate backdrop isn't going to be appearing for a while.
  • We're interested in offering the player character a meaningful set of options, so it's not just one plot we need to write, it's a directed-acyclic-graph of plot nodes that need to be drafted up and then content for each node and appropriate segue developed. Progress on this front has been very slow -- it's a lot of work and it hasn't been prioritized relative to getting the fundamental mechanics of the game working (which any storytelling will rely on anyway).
  • Once the latter is up to snuff, we'll still need to script everything. There has been a fair amount of work on a campaign editor to speed up this and any other mod scripting efforts, but the particulars of progress on that front are beyond my purview and have escaped from memory (dandandaman is in charge of said project).