Trifler's Small Fighter Upgrade

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Updated: January 3, 2008

This is intended to be a quick introduction to creating a unit. For this example, I will demonstrate an upgrade to the Small Fighter you start with while still using starting components. This is not the most powerful unit you can make. After you finish this guide I expect you to use what you learned to make a tank, another fighter, or try your hand at creating a new engine. This guide assumes that you have discovered and fully studied at least one mineral.

First of all, the original Small Fighter's specs:

Hull: Fighter —> Light —> Interceptor I
Size: 70
Hitpoints: 20
Weapon 1: Light Cannon - Front
Radar: Beginning Radar - Front
Engine: Beginning Engine - Left, Right, and Rear
Cargo: 7 Cargo Space - Right
Armor Front: 8
Armor Left: 6
Armor Right: 6
Armor Rear: 3

You will be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't think this design could stand some improvement. Since the Light Cannon, the Medium Cannon, and the Heavy Cannon all use 1 Hull Space, then you could replace the Light Cannon with a Heavy Cannon. However, we can do better.

First however, we must know the requirements for the Beginning Engine and Beginning Radar. Here are their specs:

Beginning Engine
Power: 40
Thrust: 100
Speed: 25
Maneuverability: 10
Size: 23
Credits: 933

Beginning Radar
Weapon Accuracy: 50
Optimum Range: 50
Size: 10
Power Consumption: 19
Credits: 520,572

From these specs we can see that the Beginning Engine generates 40 Power. The Beginning Radar uses 19 power. A unit without a radar cannot fire, so we have to have one. That leaves 21 power to work with. 100 Thrust means that the Speed and Maneuverability listed for the engine will apply for Hulls up to size 100. If you put this engine in a Hull larger than 100, the Speed and Maneuverability will be decreased accordingly. Roughly speaking, you can expect the Speed and Maneuverability to be halved if you use this engine in a Hull with a size of 200. The size of the Engine and Radar tells you how much space you have to allocate in your Hull design for these components. If you don't leave enough space, you won't be able to add them and you'll have to start over.

Currently the specs for the three starting weapons are:

Light Cannon

Damage: Impact 0-2
Rate of Fire: 2
Range: 30
Accuracy: 80
Hull Consumption: 1
Power Consumption: 8
Credits: 67,839

Medium Cannon

Damage: Impact 0-4
Rate of Fire: 4
Range: 30
Accuracy: 80
Hull Consumption: 1
Power Consumption: 11
Credits: 363,663

Heavy Cannon

Damage: Impact 0-6
Rate of Fire: 6
Range: 30
Accuracy: 80
Hull Consumption: 1
Power Consumption: 14
Credits: 545,494

Here we go. First select one of your Research Facilities and click on the Build button. Then click on the Hull button. In the "Select a Frame" box, where it says "Escort Ship", click the right arrow until it says "Fighter". On the third line down it should now say "Cicada". Click the right arrow on this line until it says "Interceptor I". This is the same Hull used by the Small Fighter you start the game with. In the "Frame Base Attributes" box we can see that the allowable hull sizes for this Hull are 54 through 90. Since the Beginning Engine we're using has 100 thrust, set the hull size to its maximum of 90. Set the Material to something you have, preferably one of the common minerals (Aluminum, Copper, Iron, Titanium, Uranium) since they're, well… more common. Set the Hitpoints to 90. You can experiment with the Hitpoints if you wish. As of this writing having the hitpoints match the hull size is the least expensive so that's what I'm using for this guide.

On the right you should notice a rule that says your fighter is limited to 2 weapon slots, which means two weapon groups, or two weapons. You only have 21 power to work with so you're pretty limited. You might think one Heavy Cannon would be best, but take a look at that six second rate of fire. That means it only fires once every six seconds. To calculate the Damage Per Second (DPS) you take the average damage (minimum damage plus the maximum damage, divided by two), and divide it by the rate of fire. Thus: (0 + 6) / 2 / 6 = 0.5 DPS. If you do the same for the Medium Cannon and the Light Cannon you'll find that they all have a DPS of 0.5. You may be saying, "DPS isn't everything!" This is true, but in this case, the 6 damage the Heavy Cannon does isn't enough to one-shot kill anything and armor resistances reduce damage by percentages. Some games have armor that has Deflection, where it subtracts that number from the incoming damage, and Resistances, where it subtracts a percentage from the incoming damage. If the armor had some Deflection, then you would want the higher max damage per shot to help deal with it. Since there is no armor Deflection in this game, that isn't an issue. What does all this mean? All three weapons cause the same amount of damage until something changes.

Click on Weapons in the "Slot Palette" box and add three squares to the very front (top) of the blue part of the Hull. Blue is the front, purple the left, red the right, and green the rear. As you add the Weapon squares, notice that on the far right in the "Hull Allotments" box, there's a number for "Weapon Group 1". This number indicates the amount of hull space allocated to Weapon Group 1. With three squares this should be 1.48. This means that there is enough room to mount a weapon with a size of 1. In the bottom left it should show .49. This is the amount of space in one square on the hull diagram. If you count all the square in the hull diagram and divide the Hull Size (90 in this case) by the number of squares, you will get .49. In the Weapon Group box type in a "2" then add another three squares to the blue part of the Hull. The "Hull Allotments" box should show both a Weapon Group 1 and a Weapon Group 2.

Next select "Radar/Comms" from the Slot Palette box and add Radar squares to the front (blue) section of the hull diagram until it says "Radar/Comm: 10.4" in the Hull Allotments box on the right. We know we need 10 space for radar because the Beginning Radar has a size of 10. Anything less and it won't fit in our design. Don't add more than 10.4 because that's just wasted space that could be used for armor.

Add two squares of Cargo Hold to the Left (pink) and three squares to the Right (red).

The Beginning Engine takes up 23 hull space. Ideally you want to have the engine entirely in one section (one color) of the hull diagram. This is because if all of the armor gets taken out on a side that the engine is in, the engine can be damaged and destroyed. If the engine is only in the rear, and the fighter gets hit in the side, then the engine will not be damaged unless the whole fighter is destroyed. Unfortunately there is no way to get 23 Engine space in the rear section of this fighter. Now we could get 23 Engine space using the rear and one side section, but on this fighter that still leaves very little room for armor. So, add 14 squares of Engine to the Left, 13 squares on the Right, and 20 squares in the Rear. This should provide 23.2 Engine space according to the Hull Allotments box. It should also show 13.8 space available for armor on the front and each side, and 10.9 armor space available on the rear.

If you make any mistakes or if you want to move anything just to make it look better, you can return squares to blank using the "Reserve for Armor" selection in the Slot Palette box. Submit your design when ready.

When your Research Facility finishes with the Design, click View Details to see the pricing. If you are satisfied, go ahead an click "Research". When the Research phase is complete, it's time to design a Prototype.

In the Research Facility Build menu, click on the Prototype button. The first thing you want to do is select the fighter Hull you just created. Next, select Beginning Engine, Beginning Armor, and Beginning Radar in the appropriate drop-down menus. If you chose to design and research a better-than-starting Armor before doing this step, then use it instead. On the right is a box labeled "Weapons:". Set the Type to "Projectile", the Weapon to "Light Cannon" and leave the Group at "Primary". Now click the Place button and click on the 1s on the hull diagram. You have now added a Light Cannon to your fighter. Click the Place button again and click on the 2s in the hull diagram to add the second Light Cannon. Since they are located in the Front firing arc, they will fire at enemies the fighter is facing. Currently there is no way to do something like place a weapon on the side and have it fire towards the front. It would fire towards the side.

Go ahead and set all of the armor sliders to maximum. On larger Hulls you will rarely want to use all of the space available for armor, but this is a small fighter and 13 armor on each side isn't excessive in the slightest. When you're finished, go ahead and Submit. When the Prototype Design is complete, you may View Details to see the final costs, then click Research. Once research on the Prototype is complete, your new fighter will be available for production at your Spaceport. Unlike the starting designs, you do need to produce the components separately and ahead of time for designs of your own creation. So for this design you need to first create a Beginning Engine, a Beginning Radar, 2 Light Cannons, and a sufficient quantity of Armor before you add the actual fighter to the production queue.

Conclusion: So what was gained from all this? Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but compared with the original Small Fighter, it is a large improvement. First of all, the second Light Cannon doubles the damage. Next, the Hull has 4.5 times more hitpoints. Now with the original only having 20 HP that wasn't hard to do, but there it is. Third, there's more armor and it's allocated more evenly. The original only has 3 space for armor in the rear. The new one has 10. The front and sides are also increased. Best of all, these improvements were done without any engine performance reduction, and this design can be made as soon as you finish studying your first mineral.

~Trifler
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