Notice: The 0.14.5 update has significantly changed many aspects of Cosmoteer. I will update this guide once I figure out what I have to update and how I will go about it. In the meantime, I have marked the sections that have been compromised or are now missing parts. Thank you.
Author - 0neye
Co-Author - Fort Master Gustav (helped a lot with the ship types section)
Videos (coming soon) - Cosmopyr
And to all the other people on the discord thank you for the help, it would have taken a LOT longer without your help.
1. Ship design basics
2. Power theory
3. Weapon guide
4. Ship type guide
5. Ship design advanced
6. Other peoples tips and guides
So, the Cosmoteer community has a bit of lingo that we use to make it easier to communicate ideas when talking. Here is a list if you don't already know them:
CR = control room
FE = fire extinguisher
PD = point defense
EB = electro bolt
LC = large cannon
ROD = ring of death in MP
MP = multiplayer
When building any ship, no matter what the shape the reactors should be at least 2 squares apart (with armor in between). This helps prevent chain reactions that will cripple your ship. If your ship seems explosive first space the reactors out and add armor in between them, then cut down on them (covered more in the power theory section). Also, note that a reactors explosion can start fires so make sure you have enough FE in your ship.
Internal armor/CR protection:
Always make sure your ship uses internal armor to protect its sensitive components (reactors and control rooms). Just one layer of armor in front of a reactor will help a lot to protect it, although feel free to make it a pain in the ass to get to them.
You will want about 2-3 layers in front of your control rooms (CRs), as well as putting them in the most protected parts of your ship you can while still spreading them out. Putting an FE close may help against fires.
Modules (or something like them) are THE MAIN thing that will make your ships better, modules are a collection of parts that run on one reactor. A module that runs on more than one reactor will still be called a module but won't work as well as one that only has 1 reactor due to crew tasking. Modules will help improve efficiency, are easy to copy and paste (makes building faster), and help create confusion in your opponent by increasing the order of a ship and making it hard for them to distinguish a more important part from the rest.
Interconnected ships that still have sections can still be good if done right (see Veranias ships).
- Don’t use too many corridors, corridor should only be used when it is necessary to increase efficiency, and not as a space filler. If you have extra space in your ship and all parts of your ships are attached leave the extra space as it is, or use it to put the dead-zones of internal thrusters.
- Don’t fill all door spaces with doors. Doors are actually very costly and are the only way fire can spread through different rooms, if you have extras that you don’t need (you can find that out by watching which routes the crew take) get rid of them, you could be using that money on armor, or crew etc.
- Always protect your shield generators with at least one layer of armor, it will protect them from penetrating cannon shots and just give more general protection. 80% of the time you will want to put your shield generators behind your weapons, it saves space, and protects the shield (plus reactor behind the shield or shields) from damage. Also, remember to make sure the shield is projected over the turret and not just the square area.
Internal thrusters are a great way to use up extra space in your ship and help protect the thrusters themselves. Structure lines can also fill this space and help keep your ship from being split by focused fire.
Don’t block point defense (PD), PD are like weapons, they also have a firing arc. So if you block that firing arc they won't be able to shoot down missiles, and you don’t want that.
Power and crew bars:
In the bottom right are the power and crew bars, don’t trust them. Crew should be around the recommended but not over, and power should be in the yellow (about ¾ to the recommended) but never over. Although this varies with the type of ship you are making. I go in-depth about this is the power theory section.
90% of the time they are useless, power storage is the most useful of them because it does not explode although it is still only useful in certain circumstances. Missile and ammo storages will only be used in VERY special circumstances, for more on storage usefulness (since I’ve never used them) talk to Verania.
The basic theory:
The “theory” is that more under-powered weapons are better than less fully-powered weapons because more weapons = more weapons to destroy even if they aren’t always firing. More weapons also create a bigger alpha strike, and since battles are generally won within the first 30 seconds a good alpha strike contributes a fair amount (but not completely) to a winning battle. But be sure that an alpha strike is not all you have; your weapons should be able to still fire almost consistently.
Reactors are the most expensive part for the size, and they are the most expensive mandatory part. Building good ships centers heavily on balancing firepower for the cost, and a good way to cut down on cost is to reduce the number of reactors. The fewer reactors you have means more money you can spend on weapons, armor, shields, crew, etc.
One reactor can power a lot more than the power bar would lead you to believe. I will include a list of popular uses for 1 reactor in a module below:
- One reactor / 2 shields and some low-power parts + an optional EB (most used)
- One reactor / 2 shields, 2 small lasers, and 1 EB (under-powered)
- One reactor / 5 small lasers and 1 shield
- One reactor / 1 ion and 1 shield
- One reactor / 1 engine room and 6 connected large thrusters
- One reactor / 1 shield and 2 heavy lasers (under-powered)
- One reactor / 1 shield, 1 EB, and 2-3 small lasers
- One reactor / 11-12 accelerators of a railgun
- One reactor / 8-9 accelerators and 1 shield
Keep in mind that reactor efficiency also relies heavily on how distant the things that have to be powered are, and how much crew you have. Although you shouldn’t overkill on crew.
Warning: this section was impacted by 0.14.5, as a result the things listed may not be up to date.
There are currently 8 weapons in the game, 2 of which are just larger versions of another weapon. Each weapon has its own unique feature/trait, which is what keeps the game interesting. Learning what these weapons do, and how to combine them effectively will help you plan your ships better.
The small laser is the cheapest and most widely used weapon. Its wide firing arc allows it to fire completely to the side and some behind it. This, along with the fact that it only requires power makes it very versatile and useful on almost all cost of ship under 2mill.
The heavy laser is a larger version of the small one, it requires slightly more energy than 3 small lasers but takes up 2 surface area instead of 3. This surface area saving comes at a price though, the projectile speed is slower, and the firing arc is much less. Also has an alternate fire mode for it's 2 barrels.
Also known as EB, the electro bolt is the only weapon that can penetrate shields without taking them down. It is also currently the only weapon that can drain power from enemy systems, which is particularly useful versus shields. It has the same firing arc as the small laser but the shortest range in the game. Good vs stacked shields due to its ability to penetrate 2 shields and hit the last, draining power from all of them.
Standard cannon: (The factory to cannon ratio for standard is 1:2.)
The standard cannon, also known as the small cannon is the, well, the smallest of the cannons. It is a good source of DPS and only requires ammo to run, although ammo factories need power it is such a small amount it isn’t necessary to account for when building. Cannons and railguns can penetrate into a ship after the initial hit doing more damage and starting fires (this is what fire extinguishers are for!). Good for ships that rely more on thrusters than raw firepower, since it aims and fires faster than the large cannon (LC).
Large cannon: (The factory to cannon ratio for Large is 1:1.)
The large cannon is a larger version the standard cannon (hence the name), its shots do more damage but are a fair bit slower. They both have the same firing arc. Usually the best alpha strike weapon.
The ion beam is currently the only continuous damage weapon in the game. It fires in a fixed direction and can be protected easily by “burying” it behind shields and armor to increase its lifetime. You can also put small armor triangles in the "shaft" for even more protection. It has a hard time getting through shields by itself so I usually group them in groups of 3-4. Also having EB to take down the shields is a good idea.
Missile launcher: (The factory to launcher ratio is 1:1) (0.14.5 is 1:2)
Missiles are currently the only weapon that does AOE damage, this AOE can go through shields and damage parts behind it while the base damage still hits the shield. That is why it is sometimes good to have your shields slightly forward so they can stop missile AOE from damaging the weapons underneath. Missiles are also the only weapon that actively tracks its target and can be fired from the sides or back of a ship (it has a 270-degree firing arc). Missile launchers only require missile parts to work which means they are a low-power weapon like cannons.
Railgun: (The factory to rail ratio is 1:1)
Railguns are the only “modular” weapon in the game, meaning you build the weapon out of multiple pieces. Hovering over one part of the weapon will tell you how to make one. About 8 accelerators will get you through one shield, about 20 will get you through 2. Railguns really throw off the power bar, it will try to tell you that one reactor can only power 6 accelerators when it can really power 12 if you use moving walkways to move the crew around fast, railguns are one of the only times when they are useful, but only on single rails. Railguns can be protected the same way as ions, except you may want to cut down on the triangle pieces in the shaft.
Here is a list of many different weapon combos that are good together, and what ship types they are good on (see the ship type section for more info):
- EB and cannons are always a good combo, the EB helps take down the shields while the cannons do the
DPS. Good on walls and Vs.
- Ions and cannons are a less common combo, usually used on cannon walls that have a few ions in the
- Lasers and cannons are usually used on hybrid triangles or walls that want the fast projectile speed and
good focus fire of lasers and the DPS of cannons.
- EB and ions are used almost exclusively on ion rammers or ion frigates (similar) or in combo with other
weapons, usually lasers.
- Railguns are usually left alone but are sometimes found with missiles on large ships (3mill and over).
- Lasers and EB go together quite nicely on triangles but not much else.
Warning: this section was impacted by 0.14.5, as a result the things listed may not be up to date.
There are MANY different ship types, the most common is the wall, but they each have their advantages and disadvantages. The first thing you should do when starting a new ship is chose what type you want it to be, this will help you pick what it should look like, what shape it should be, what weapons to use, and how much thrust it should have. Ship types aren't fixed though, there can be many combinations, for example, a diagonal wall, or a forward facing cannon V with missiles.
Walls are the most common ship type, they are versatile, semi-easy to build, and have a high piloting skill ceiling. A wall has all (or almost all) of its weapons on one side and is mostly flat, a wall can be slow or fast, but as long as it follows those criteria it is a wall. Walls with lots of thrusters will generally want them farther away from the center of mass to give more leverage when turning. Slow walls will want their thrusters spread out and lots of armor to withstand damage. Slow walls are hardly ever seen any more since the addition of the engine room made speed a very powerful “weapon” of its own. There are a few different sub-types of walls that open up different strategies, they will be listed below:
Similar to the wall designs, these special purpose walls are made to dodge the enemy’s shots by swinging from side to side, and catch any stray shots with their good shielding. they normally use standard cannons, since they aim and fire faster, and have great sideways + fowards/backwards thrust to be able to maneuver with ease. Weak to missiles, since they can home into their thruster system, railgun ships, since their rounds are too fast to dodge, and attacks to their backs.
Another variation of the “Wall” meta, these walls are more general purpose then most ships, they are most of the time a normal wall with good thrust power, that can be split into 2, or even 3 completely self-independent wall ships. These types of walls are great for flanking but easily killable due to having less firepower and, presumably, less CRs.
Triangles are an interesting way to use the small lasers firing arc, they are usually built diagonally and have a good amount of armor on the front to prevent splitting and destruction of any center CRs or thrusters. Triangles benefit from diagonal shield stacking which increases durability. Sadly the diagonal nature of triangles decreases movement speed which means that triangles tend to be slower than other ship types, but increases maneuverability. Triangles tend to be connected by structure on the inside and are great ships for pivoting and focus-fire with lasers. Their greatest weakness is walls ramming their sides and rendering their focus-fire useless.
Diagonal V Ships:
A development of the wall type of ship, they are diagonally built and focus on their greater surface area to be able to include more weaponry that can fire at the same time. Whilst they do benefit from the overlaying shields that diagonal ships render, a common problem is their sides being exposed due to their natural V shape which makes most of the ship vulnerable to flanking. Another problem commonly faced is the term called “Sandwiching”, which is when a V ship is broken near the junction point of its two arms, making the arms naturally gravitate towards each other, thus blocking each other’s firepower and rendering the whole ship useless. They also are weak to missiles, since the missiles naturally tend to strike the back of the ship, where it’s weakest.
- For Cannon Diagonal V ships, since they have the strongest alpha strike, one should almost always try and kill the enemy with its first volleys, if that doesn’t work, trying to use your long arms to arc the rounds into weak parts of the enemy ship or even pivoting with one of your arms is a good strat.
- For Laser Diagonal V ships, one should always try and focus fire at the enemy’s weaponry, reactors or CRs.
A variation of the V ships, they tend to have stronger armoring and focus mainly on forward thrust, the usual strategy is to do as their name indicates and cling to the side of a bigger ship, using your strong thrust power as a way to not let the enemy shake you off, whilst you use your weaponry, which is usually lasers, to drill into the enemy ship. They are prone to missiles, since they can attack their back, which generally isn’t very armored, and prone to heavy cannon alpha-strike on their weaponry. Keep in mind that walls are also good rammers.
Missile barges come in a few different flavors, some are one-sided, while others run on batteries and rely on firepower to win before the armor is eaten through. A general layout includes a big section of armor on the front, missiles on the sides (as many as you can fit while still leaving $ for thrust), and thrust on the back. Some missile barges are diagonal which allows greater protection for the missiles and allows missiles to hit your enemy at an angle where PD is less effective, however, because it is diagonal it will lack speed for kiting. Another branch of the missile barge is the missile skeleton. A skeleton trades thrust for sheer missile firepower and usually uses battery-powered missile sections with lots of armor. The best missile module for a missile skeleton is one with a factory and launcher pair, a storage, a crew quarters and bunk.
These ships focus solely on ions for damage, usually having a layout with very good thrust capabilities, and ions embedded on a heavily shielded “hole”, which usually goes in the middle of the ship, coupled together with heavy armoring on the sides to protect said shielding, also feature good PD protection on the sides and back, may also have EBs and lasers together with the ions. The main strat is ramming the enemy’s ship, using your EBs to disable weapons and shields and drilling a hole with your ions, while your armored sides protect from the enemy’s firepower. Its main weakness is anything with a great amount of EBs, since all its defenses are energy-based. Another weakness is anything with a alpha-strike great enough to pass through your shielding, it’s also worth mentioning that, in most cases, if the enemy can get to your ions, you’re most likely dead.
A railgun barge is a ship that has almost exclusively railguns, a group of 2 is most common being easier to power, armor, and shield. They usually have a 2 square space in between the rails to put armor and reactors for powering the rails into. Good pd and thrust will allow your rail barge to kite-strafe (to not back into the ROD), and protect vs missiles.
Equipped with multiple railguns(the longer a railgun is, the less effective it is to put more accelerators on it), they use turn-and-shoot strategy to get multiple railguns hit the same place for better penetration. Normally they have a lot of thrusters to make them maneuverable and turns faster (for the strategy it uses), but also plenty of armor on the front between the rails for protection.
There are a few different things you can do with small ships, I will list the different types of them below.
- Flankers are small support ships that ram the weak spot (or spots) of an enemy, normally has great
maneuverability and large cannons for good penetration.
- Swarmers are a group of small flankers or small ion ships that overwhelm an enemy on all sides if piloted
There are a few advanced building tips that will help decrease your ships cost, increase its resistance to focused fire, and so on.
There are 3 main things that you can cut down on that aren’t reactors. One is crew, the others are doors and corridors.
First, auto-fire your modules to see if you can cut down on crew, all of your crew should be active when firing all weapons, even if you have shields.
Second, see if there are any single corridors that can be removed, doing so will save you 300 credits per corridor removed, that's enough for an armor block. Added up single corridors and extra doors can cost you a control room or a few needed PD.
If you’ve ever tried to build something with armor you must have noticed that there are two options on solid blocks, a 1x1 and a 1x2, though the 1x2 seems useless and makes ships a bit more time consuming to make, using them strategically can improve your ship’s armoring up to 50% against focus fire.
If you organize the 1x2 armor blocks in a similar way that bricks are organized in a wall (one’s middle goes on top of the edges of the two bicks below it) it’ll form what’s called a Interlaced Armor Design.
Using this type of armor layout will help a lot if a ship tries to focus fire with any weapon, aiming at something past the armor. The route that the enemy’s projectiles will go to have to pass through more armor, since they strike the edges of the 1x2 armor block (which essentially has two times more health than a 1x1). As such, the damage gets more distributed in its structure, and, theoretically, it can tank up to 50% more damage until the projectiles get past the armor. It’s greatest benefit is that it’s completely free from additional costs.
“Quality of life” improvements:
Adding a 1 square wide pillar of armor to your ion tunnel can help provide extra protection for your ions and -
help prevent EB from wrecking your shield layout.
When building diagonals keep in mind the angle at which your enemy will be focus-firing from and make sure
you have armor there to help prevent it.
You can put blocks of armor to the sides of heavy lasers, their firing arc won’t be affected enough to be
noticed and it gives extra protection for the turret.
Peoples tips (from dos, and don'ts)
I think @Oneye 's ships are of the most interesting & efficient - I have learned so much from him - he is also the only player I requested ships to use in competitive MP games.
But of course, I disagree with a lot of rules here:
• You can clump reactors in small or large ships (maybe not so much in medium ones).
Just do not build long "reactor-chains" going all through your ship!
• You can use storage if you want to have a flyby ship that reloads while in the loop.
• Compartments I think are a matter of taste - they have some advantages but also disadvantages.
+ can be protected by armor well; fire does not spread; good for "spread out" ship designs and thus against splash damage.
- every compartment needs its own power source, fire extinguisher
AND Crew; sometimes get separated from control rooms early.
(Personally, I never built ships divided by compartments so far.)
The riskiest design choice from 0neye certainly is: Ships having too few control rooms!
Although this is also not always true I used to say:
One control room is never enough!
Cosmoteer is certainly already complex enough to always build a counter to any ship!
So if you think something is overpowered - think again! (all current miss-balances considered.)
Allround ships are the hardest to build - but still worth trying!
And lastly, try to be creative and bend rules as much as possible!
(credits to @Dalas120 who excels in the latter!)
Personal no go: Control room placed in reactors "explosion/fire-radius".
•Protect the control rooms and be sure to have enough of them on large ships that they aren't a vulnerability.
•Don't put ammo, missile factories, power plants far away from the things they supply. Crew are really slow, inefficient and costly at moving things any further than about 2 tiles.
•Do put turning thrusters as far from the center of the ships as possible so they have more leverage (faster turn with less thrust). This, of course, can conflict with ensuring they aren't really vulnerable.
•Do be aware how long a ship takes to 'power up'. A ship that is reliant on power storage can be vulnerable a long time in a multiplier game if the game is set to have them start empty.
•Design ships with a role/combat tactic in mind. A ship that tries to do everything will almost always do nothing well.
•Expendable parts (crew compartments cough) can be used as pseudo armor.
•Be aware of where the doors are. An important door that is missing can greatly weaken shields or slow cannon rate of fire. It is also easy to have unnecessary doors.
•Don't rely solely on compartments. This game is a work in progress and anything could change.
Don't be a slave to the guidelines. There are situations where almost any of them can be wrong.
1) Sometimes when not building flat, boring walls you have to clump reactors to adequately serve curling shields.
2) I've never found a use case for missile storage, but I also haven't tried to dense pack missile launchers. They may be useful for the same reason as ammo storage.
3) I have found ammo storage useful to split up long hauling tasks. Used in this way they aren't explosive because they're always nearly empty. One storage can be used to feed ammo from multiple factories farther back that can't be forward due to door placement constraints or by using storages one broadsides worth of factories can serve guns on both sides of a broadsider.
4) The gun barrels aren't the problem, the turrets are. If it's not in thick black outline on interior view it doesn't have a hitbox. All cases of this not related to the semicircular parts of cannons derive from a longstanding bug that was finally fixed relatively recently.
5) Focusing on forwards thrust is how you counter some designs.
6) Yeah, space-filling armor is pretty much pointless.
7) The most recent change relating to compartments was to make them not break irretrievably when the ship is repaired in bounty mode. If they do stop working it's an excuse to design more ships.
8) Sometimes you need to block corridors to fit things, and what equipment is unnecessary depends on the purpose of the ship.
1) Except on small ships, where there simply isn't room for internal armor.
2) Except when your primary concern is missiles, which will destroy stuff in front of shields through them.
3) Except on small ships.
4) Except that the recommended energy bar assumes you aren't being hit by electro bolts and assumes you have no low energy use compartments (like cannon compartments or missile compartments) that have a reactor generating power you can't use.
They're generally right, but if you never try violating them you'll never learn their limits.
-Tip: When using laser weapons, DON"T PUT REACTORS behind them. Most of the laser weapons have low health, or require so much armor to protect them, you might as well get another ship.
-Tip 2: Are your reactors being continuously used when a power storage is right in front of it? Make a doorway that is only connected to the reactor and storage. Make sure the storage has a door to a walkway, and only the storage.
-Tip 3: If your Heavy Cannons are running out of ammo a lot and you already have an ammo factory connected to it, Connect another and add some extra crew. It will load twice as fast and it almost never stops firing!!
Tip. When filling empty spaces with corridors, divide the spaces into sections using armor. This can help contain fires, delay your ship from being cut in half and overall, provides greater internal support as well as a sort of frame.