Ships in Stellaris are both the muscle and exploratory arms of your empire. They are the primary method for locating new worlds to colonize and for meeting and establishing communications with other empires. Ships are typically built at starbases with shipyard modules.
Military and Civilian ships are the two main categories of ships in Stellaris. Military vessels are used to clear out threats, like space monsters, Pirates, or enemy fleets. Civilian ships are mainly used for exploration, expansion and research.
Military ships can be combined into fleets and act as one cohesive military unit. They are assigned home bases and can be both upgraded and repaired at the same time at any Shipyard, not just their own. During an FTL escape they will travel back to their home base no matter how far away it is from the battle. If battles are being fought a long way for a fleet’s home base it might be better to assign it to a shipyard closer to the front, assuming you can adequately defend that shipyard.
Fleets can be assigned Admirals, which gives them any bonuses their Admirals may have, like being able to engage in an FTL escape more quickly. Fleets can be assigned stances, either passive, which means they won’t attack enemy ships unless they move within range, or aggressive, meaning they will attack any enemy target that enters the system they are in.
You always start the game with a small fleet of Corvettes. Extremely small and mobile, they are perfect for dealing with Pirates and ships with large weapons that typically have low tracking ability. They are cheap and can be built very quickly, so they can fill in the gaps and slow down an enemy during a battle until a more powerful fleet can be built.
Corvettes excel at infighting and have a high rate of speed so they make excellent “First Responders” although empires using a lot of point defense weapons are one of their vulnerabilities.
Destroyers are a step up from Corvettes. They’re still fast, just not as fast as a Corvette, but they make up for this loss in speed with increased firepower. Destroyers can be used as front line ships in the early game but as more advanced, powerful ships emerge in Stellaris they can oftentimes be better used in a support role instead.
In the early game it’s a good idea to equip them with smaller weapons that have high tracking capability to effectively combat the Corvettes you’ll be facing. They also can excel at attacking enemy Starbases.
Cruisers are typically the next ship unlocked and are one of the more controversial ships in the game. They are designed to absorb enemy weapons fire while allowing other ships in the fleet to counterattack. Most player believe that these ships are only viable when they are first unlocked and that ships unlocked later in the game are better suited for combat.
Their strength is also their weakness. They are designed to be a well-rounded ship, meaning they excel at nothing. When Cruisers first become available they can help protect fleets of Corvettes but whenever Battleships are unlocked they quickly lose their usefulness.
Battleships make an immediate impression on the battlefield. Expensive as they are powerful, they can fight from a distance while allowing smaller, more nimble ships to engage in the close quarters combat. Smaller ships also act as screening vessels for Battleships since they are slow and make excellent targets for any ship that can get within striking distance of them. They are next in line to be unlocked after Cruisers.
Titans are larger than Battleships and are built at Citadels. They have low disengagement odds so they need adequate protection to survive. They have six large weapons slots and twelve defensive bays, plus they have the Perdition beam, which deals out an enormous amount of damage, but similar to the Juggernaut its greatest strength lies in its Auras. Since Auras don’t stack each Titan you build should have a different Aura.
It has the Shield Dampener, which reduces enemy shield strength by 20%.
The Quantum Destabilizer reduces an enemy fleet’s firing rate by 10%.
The Subspace Snare increases a hostile fleet’s FTL Jump Cooldown time by 100% and reduces its chances of disengaging from combat successfully by 20%. It forces hostile ships to engage in combat longer, ensuring you can inflict heavier losses on an enemy if you’re winning the battle.
Inspiring Prescence increases your ship’s firing rate by 5%.
Targeting Grid Increases your fleets tracking ability by 10%. Great if you’re fighting enemy fleets that are heavy with Corvettes and Destroyers.
Nanobot Cloud increases your ships Hull Regeneration by 1 point per day and Armor repairs by 3 points per day.
The Colossus specializes in one thing only, killing entire planets. It has an extremely high Hull Point rating ensuring that it can take a pounding, but it has little else for self-protection. It is limited to six defensive bays that can be used for either shielding or additional armor. It only has one offensive weapons bay and that’s designed specifically to either destroy all life on the planet, isolate it from the rest of the galaxy permanently or totally destroy the world. Other options become available as the game progresses or are automatically available for certain species. For example, an Aquatics species can build a Deluge Machine, which kills anything on a planet that does not have the Aquatic trait.
Juggernauts are essentially mobile Starbases. It has two shipyards automatically built into it and can repair and construct ships in forward locations, even behind enemy lines. It has two slots for Extra Large weapons, 6 hanger slots for fighter craft and five slots for medium sized weapons. Citadels and Battleships must be unlocked before the technology for one of these becomes available. You can only have one Juggernaut in your empire. It has twice the firepower of a Battleship.
It also has Auras, which provide unique bonuses to any fleets within range. Strike Command is a defensive Aura that provides allied ships that are within range a 20% bonus in Strike Craft Damage and a 20% increase in Strike Craft Speed.
The Targeting Acquisition Array. It gives an increased ship weapon range of 40%. Great for taking out fleets at extreme range.
The Subspace Amplifier provides a 40% decrease in Hyper Jump Charge time, Hyper Jump Cooldown time and Jump Drive Cooldown time. Makes you fleets better suited for hit and run tactics.
ECM Emitters reduce enemy ship’s Point Defense damage and Point Defense Firing Rate by 30%. Great in conjunction with fleets specializing in missile combat and Strike Craft combat.
The Munitions Plant increases Orbital Bombardment Damage by 30%. Good for attacking planets that have lots of defending ground forces.
This ship is equipped with the Star Cracker and it destroys stars instead of planets. When finished the star it targets becomes a black hole and anything within the system is destroyed. Great for empires who don’t like making friends and wanting to consume vast amounts of Dark Matter, which is essential if you’re the end-game crisis.
Stellaris Civilian Ships
Civilian ships can’t be designed or upgraded in the Ship Designer and Transports can’t even be built at a shipyard. Civilian ships are automatically available at the start of the game and can never be changed or upgraded manually.
Transport can’t be built at Shipyards, they are built automatically whenever an Army is embarked onto a ship. They have four core components, no armaments and only three defensive slots. The core components consist of Sensors, Thrusters, Jump Drives and Reactors. Unlike the other civilian ships, these components are automatically upgraded to the latest and greatest technology your empire has in those fields.
Stellaris Science Ships
Science Ships are essentially used for exploration and have no offensive firepower. They can be ordered to survey systems either automatically or manually, research anomalies they find, can be set to either an evasive or passive stance, can be ordered to assist a planet with research and can use Experimental Subspace navigation if it’s available.
Stellaris Construction Ships
Construction Ships are the builders in your empire. They also have no offensive firepower and are targets for any enemy fleets they happen to encounter. They can be ordered to build starbases (outposts), mining or research facilities, observation posts for monitoring primitive worlds or to build mega structures.
Stellaris Colony Ships
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Colony ships are how you get your empire’s inhabitants to those brave new worlds you want to colonize. Once they arrive they are disassembled for use by the colonists to help them survive and thrive on the new world.