Cruisers are the third ship type unlocked. They are meant to absorb a lot of punishment so other ships in your fleets can survive longer.
In the current state of the game (2.5.1, Shelley) most experienced players believe cruisers are not worthwhile except when they are first available and are definitely of little to no value after battleships become available.
What’s Wrong With Cruisers?
The problem is that they have no area they excel at although they are good ships to have in the early part of the game, at least until battleships come along, simply because there is nothing that can match up with them if they are properly equipped. While cruisers are versatile and can perform many functions there are reasons that sill make them subpar:
- As missile platforms Corvettes are better
- Destroyers do a better job at picket duty
- Battleships make better carriers and artillery platforms
- Even Destroyers are better at artillery since they have the same capabilities and have more evasion.
When cruisers first come on-line, before most of the high-end weapons systems are available, they can be reasonably useful in a couple of configurations. They can be used to draw fire from corvette fleets and are able to withstand most of the incoming fire better than the Corvettes.
They also make decent disruptor ships. While inferior to battleships they can be deployed faster and are sturdy enough to survive a firefight. Their best characteristic in any application is their survivability.
If you’re fighting an enemy specializing in shields and no point defense, they also make decent counter ships if outfitted with missiles.
Read more about Stellaris ships on the Battleships, Corvettes, Destroyers, Titans and Colossus pages. Need any ideas on how to use them to the best of their abilities? Check out our Beginner’s Tips page, 101 tips in all.
Stellaris Cruiser Build
A good design to use after the cruiser is first unlocked is to use a Broadside Bow, Broadside Core, and Gunship Stern. Stick with medium and small weapons since you’ll mostly be facing small ships with high evasion at this stage of the game. Keep a good balance of weaponry and defense until you need to change the design to counter a specific threat. Outfit the Auxiliary slots with auxiliary fire control computers instead of wasting them on additional evasion.
If you do use Cruisers in the late game, there are a couple of usable designs. You can go with an Artillery Bow and Core plus a Broadside Stern and equip them with kinetic weapons. Once again, unless countering a specific fleet, keep a balance between shields and armor and install auxiliary fire control computers since added evasion won’t provide very much benefit. You can use either a line computer, or preferably, use an artillery computer as the combat computer.
If you’re more interested in taking out an enemy’s armor use the same configuration above except install plasma and energy weaponry. Use a line computer for the combat computer for this one due to the limited range of some of the weapons.
How To Get Cruisers
Destroyers must be researched before the Cruiser technology becomes available for research. Also, Cruisers are a tier 3 research so to unlock them 6 tier 2 projects must be completed first. Adding a Voidcraft scientist to the Engineering research will improve the odds of getting Cruiser research if all the prerequisites have been met. So how do you know what’s a tier 1 project, tier 2 item, and so on.? This is very vague in the game and there is not a good “rule of thumb” to go by in my opinion. Looking at the tech costs as a guideline isn’t too much help since some tier 1 tech costs are more than or the same as some tier 3 tech costs. Even the research icons can be misleading. Advanced railguns with the Roman numeral IV on them are not a tier 4 technology, they are actually tier 3. One reliable method to determine what tier a research item belongs to is to go to the Stellaris Engineering Research Wiki page and look it up. Not the most convenient thing to do but probably the most reliable.
Ship upkeep costs energy credits and alloys. A basic explanation about upkeep cost can be found on the page about destroyers. A typical upkeep cost for a destroyer with 1 large mass driver, 3 medium mass drivers, 1 medium red laser, 4 shields and 4 armor, a fission reactor, hyperdrive, ion thrusters, and subspace sensors costs 3.8 energy credits per month and .87 alloys per month.
Cruisers come in 3 sections, Bow, Core, and Stern. By using a Bow and Core artillery section they can field 2 large weapons and 1 medium weapon but if facing fleets of corvettes these are not good options. The low tracking the large weapons have will result in them missing their targets most of the time while the low evasion rating of the Cruiser will make them great for enemy target practice and not much else.
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Using a Broadside Bow, Broadside Core, and Gunship Stern is one of the most effective combinations for a Cruiser. It allows it to deploy a high number of medium and small weapons that can be tailored to combat the types of fleets encountered in the early to mid game.