Starsector is without a doubt one of the premiere tactical space battle RPGs on the market. With lots of different ship variety, there are few games that put you in the pilot seat of extremely tactical space battles.
As you play Starsector, you begin to notice hostile fleets getting bigger and bigger. Frequently, enemy fleets are even able to have and deploy many more capital ships than you are able to. As a result, the common question is ‘how do you get a bigger fleet in Starsector’ or ‘how do you increase your fleet size’. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to tackle these questions.
Increasing Your Fleet Size… without modding
In Starsector’s Fleet management screen, you will instantly notice that the maximum number of ships you can have in a fleet is 30. Unfortunately, nothing within the vanilla build of the game will change that.
Whether you have support ships or not, whatever is there counts towards that 30 ship limit. As a result, players constantly play around with ‘fleet composition’ to determine what the most efficient fleet is that can take down any foe.
Increasing Your Fleet Size… modding
If you are comfortable with playing around with the code of your favorite games, then modding is the way to go. Thankfully, in Starsector, modifying the maximum fleet size that a player can have is as simple as finding one line of code and changing the value. Thanks reddit!
Increasing Your Deployment Points
In Starsector, the fleet with the highest deployment point value is allowed to deploy a larger percentage of their fleet. Every ship is assigned a deployment point value regardless of the installed equipment. Capital ships will have the highest Deployment Point cost while frigates will have the smallest. Unfortunately, this means that regardless of how many capital ships and other combat ships you have, you’ll not be able to field them all at the beginning of battle. There are a couple of ways to address this.
CAPTURE COMM RELAY
There are often Comm relays, Nav Buoys, and Sensor Jammers in combat. If you capture the Nav Buoy, the speed of your fleet increases by 5%. Capture the Sensor Jammer and you increase the fleet’s ECM rating by 5%. Lastly, if you capture the Comm relays, you are gifted 25% of your deployment points and gain a boost to the speed you regenerate your Command Points.
CHANGE IN-GAMING SETTING FOR BATTLE SIZE
Another way to allow for more deployment points is to change the in-game default setting for Battle Size. This setting is meant to prevent performance issues as not all PCs can handle having 100+ ships in a battle. Increase this Battle Size number and you should see a jump in the amount of ships deployed at once.
How Big Should Your Fleet Be
In Starsector, just fielding 30 combat ships at all times is not an efficient use of your resources. Sometimes, speed and stealth is needed. Other times, during strictly exploration missions, just enough of a fleet to survey a planet or derelict ship is needed. Of course, when you are taking on a mission that fields multiple enemy fleets and a space station, maybe a good size fleet is needed (depending on your skill and technological prowess).
For example, a smuggling fleet would value speed, cargo space, and a low sensor profile. Since smuggling requires relatively low volumes of trade (100 units and less give or take), you don’t want big chunky cargo ships. In this case, you want ships with high ‘Maximum Burn’ values (9+), as well as a decent amount of cargo space.
A bounty hunter fleet all depends on the size of what you are attacking. Mid and late-game bounties often get ridiculous as some enemies will have and field 3 or more capital ships along with other support ships. Also, these fleets can be pretty distant from the core worlds so having the materials and fuel to strike and return can be a challenge. This is a formula that only experience can refine. Just be sure to not carry around a bunch of spare weaponry that isn’t installed as you adventure around.
An exploration fleet might only field a ship equipped with survey equipment (like an Apogee cruiser or a Shepherd frigate) and a few support ships (for fuel and cargo). This would give them the ability to reach far ends of the map, survey a planet or complete other exploration missions and return without the need for heavy combat. Mind you this would mean you’d need to avoid AI fleets and anything else wandering close that is hostile.
A small raid fleet is also an example of a fleet that should be small. Much like a smuggling fleet, you want to be able to have a high burn rate to outrun patrols as well as a low sensor profile. This allows you to leave the transponder off as you race towards a colony hitting the ‘dark mode’ when close by to avoid sensors. Of course, you’d need ships with decent crew sizes. Even shuttles have military raid equipment to increase your ground raid effectiveness. Ships like the Valkyrie, the Phantom (which has an advanced version), and the Colossus Mk. III. have the Ground Support Mod built-in. Other civilian ships with a high crew count and a low sensor profile can also do the trick.
In each of these situations, there is rarely a need for a full complement of 30 ships. Doing so would mean a high cost in fuel and materials due to the fact that each ship has a fuel and material cost that grows as you add more ships to the fleet.
Starsector punishes you for not being efficient with your fleet composition by costing you in material and fuel usage which can be very expensive. Late game usually assumes that you have high income from your colonies making the cost of large fleets a very small issue.
For a bit more explanation of each ship and their more common uses, check out our Starsector Guide to Combat Ships.