One of the more exciting colony mods available in Starsector is the planetary shield. Interestingly, the mission to acquire this mod is available relatively early in the game concerning the rest of the story. The catch is that this mission will certainly test early and even midgame fleets, given the AI fleet that defends the technology. Here’s what you should know!
Finding The Red Planet Mission
You’ll stumble across the mission if you visit various bars in the core worlds. Eventually, you will come across a ‘veteran spacer staring intensely at you. In-game you will get a dialogue option (possibly in green text), asking if you’d like to ask the spacer what they are looking at. They will give a disarming reply that will make you think the encounter is nothing. Instead of leaving, buy them a drink and you’ll be treated to a nice long story about the spacer’s brush with death. Long story short, the spacer was a salvage fleet captain who came across a glowing red planet with some non-offensive tech. However, the fleet that guarded it was ‘unnatural’ with advanced weaponry. A little more chit-chat and the spacer give you the location.
Essentially every playthrough will have this mission way out on the far reaches of the map. This will require you to have quite a bit of fuel and resources in order to make your way out there and back safely. It is also recommended that you take extra crew members in case a few of your ships are lost in the battle. Troops are not needed in this mission so you can store them at one of the empty mining stations in the core worlds.
Battle of the Red Planet
However, the fight for the planetary shield will be difficult thanks to an AI/Remnant fleet anchored by the only Remnant capital ship in the game, the Radiant!
As with most Remnant fleets, a decent player fleet will have little trouble handling what this fleet is composed of outside the Radiant. Since the Radiant is the biggest threat and probably one of the more difficult ships to take down, this battle is brutal. The key is to have a couple of ‘anchor’ ships that can face off with the Radiant for a prolonged time while other ships apply most of the damage. This is because of the Radiant’s ability to teleport into and out of battle (often at the most inopportune time). Also, the Radiant has a lot of armor to go with a ton of health to go with a ton of weapon systems.
The Radiant has 5 large slots, 4 medium slots, and 10 small energy slots! Toss in 320 points to add weapons, mods, capacitors, and vents and you have an aggressive capital ship assassin!
The one saving grace to facing this ship is that it only has a 270-degree arc shield system. If you can surround and outflank this ship when it is focused on something, you can chip away at its massive 20,000-point hull capacity. Using a strong fleet with kinetic weapons (since they do the most shield damage) is key to forcing the Radiant to drop its shields. At that point, you can finally chip away at the Radiant’s hull and armor.
The other strategy skilled pilots can and have used is to attack it with well-outfitted phase ships. Dooms and Harbingers can apply a lot of pressure and eventually bypass the shields of basically any ship if used correctly. Of course, the danger is once the phase coils are off, are you taking the full brunt of a Radiant’s aggression or not.
Using multiple Monitors to distract the Radiant while you clean up the rest of the fleet may help but probably not for very long. Monitors even fall quickly to Radiants. Even carrier fleets don’t work well as the various small weapon mounts and the teleportation often negate the ability of fighters to deal any significant damage to a Radiant when it has a support fleet.
Whatever the case, taking on a Radiant without high damage dealing weapons is not recommended. Even then, you must have a strategy in place to assure those weapons have an opportunity to hit and not miss their target due to a well-timed teleport. Long battles will cost you a large portion of your fleet, given the attention the Radiant deserves. With that in mind, anything that assists in salvaging lost ships (extra crew, salvage mod on a ship, salvage skill) will help you not get stuck out in the far reaches of the core worlds!
A genuinely skilled player will also come prepared with the Automated Ships skill selected as well. This skill allows you to salvage Remnant AI ships to include in your fleet! If you are fortunate enough, you’ll be able to salvage the Radiant ship after your battle or find it as a derelict ship at the end of the battle. While you won’t be able to pilot this ship yourself, you will be able to equip the domesticated Radiant with a Gamma, Beta, or Alpha core. Quick tip if you have a Radiant in your fleet. In order to avoid having permanently low combat readiness due to limitations of the ‘Automated Ships’ skill, only use a Beta core with your Radiant if you decide to add it to your fleet.
Once your battle against the infamous Radiant ship is complete, you are treated to several high tech blueprints, including the planetary shield blueprint.
Using The Planetary Shield
This structure, which means it won’t count as a colony planet’s industry, increases the ground defense value of the colony. You’ll need to drop three-quarters of a million credits to build it. Also, don’t bother attaching a gamma AI core as there is no commodity demand to operate the shield. Instead, save an Alpha core to use here as it will further increase the ground defense modifier and reduce the monthly upkeep value.
In the end, this mission is best taken on once you have a group of colonies established and profitable. This structure is helpful for the colonies that regularly are attacked by the other factions as it increases their ability to withstand ground invasions. If you are brave enough to take this mission on before you have an accomplished group of colonies, it may be the most straightforward battle you have against a Radiant. Unfortunately, it is not a guarantee that you’ll be able to salvage the ship afterward.
Check out our colony guide for more info and tips on colony building!
Read on: Our Starsector Guide to Combat Ships