Combat is turn based. When your ships first enter combat they will appear on the left in a line (or lines) and your opponents ships will appear on the right. On your turn there are various actions that can be performed.
Initially, one of your ships is selected, if it is not you can simply click on a ship to select it at any time during a battle. A basic scan of your ship will appear in the lower left corner of the screen. If you mouse over your opponents ship(s) you will receive the same basic information about their ships as well. The information provided in the basic scan indicates the experience level, as shown by the number of stars in the upper left-hand corner, the ship size and shielding (shown graphically), and the remaining armor and hull. The blue bar indicates the armor, and the red and yellow bar indicates the hull/systems. Generally speaking, damage will usually be applied to shields first (if any), then to armor, and then to the hull and systems. Mousing over an enemy ship will display this same information in the lower right corner.
To the left of the basic scan information is the weapons list, this can be switched to show special systems as well. If a weapon is displayed in green text indicates the weapon is ready to fire. By clicking once on a particular weapon set you set only that weapon to fire. Clicking again on that weapon will turn it red, indicating that weapon will not fire.
The maximum number of ships that can appear in combat is 100.
Next to the weapons/specials box is a number of commands as follows:
- Auto: Gives control of your fleet to the computer. If victory is clear, clicking this button will resolve the battle very quickly, however, if it is clicked by mistake, simply clicking again anywhere on the screen will cancel the auto command.
- Board: Allows your ship to either raid or attempt to capture an enemy ship. Raiding damages ship systems and weapons. Unless one is telepathic or certain technology is developed, the ship to be boarded must have their shields down and have been immobilized, and the ship commencing the boarding action must be nearby.
- Wait: Selects the next active ship, but does not end that current ships turn.
- Scan: Gives detailed information on the weapons, armor, shields, systems, and bonus of a ship. It is recommended that you do this to enemy ships before moving or firing.
- Retreat: Gives the selected ship the retreat order. This will attempt to withdraw them from combat on the next move (so plan ahead). If the battle is lost, any ships that successfully retreated will move to the nearest star system, but will not use warp points. If the battle is won they will remain with the fleet.
- Done: Pressing this button indicates that the current ship has finished moving. This must be done for each ship to end your combat turn.
- Options: Allows the changing of graphical options for the battle.
Select a ship by left clicking. Depending on your level of technology, your ships will be able to move to a location by left clicking in front of your ship. The better your ship's drive, the further you can move. You can rotate a ship by right clicking anywhere on the screen or on an enemy ship, and your ship will rotate towards your mouse. If you are attempting to rotate toward an enemy ship, right clicking on the enemy ship is the best way to do this, as it will then rotate your ship to face directly at the enemy.
Select a ship if it is not already selected. Simply left click on an enemy ship to fire all available weapons. If you wish to fire less than all available weapons, simply select the ones you wish to fire (or de-select the ones you do not wish to fire), and then left click on the enemy ship. You may want to do this if you have more than enough firepower to kill a ship, and you would like to fire different groups of weapons at different ships. For missile weapons, this can be especially helpful, for without certain technology, they will not then re-target other ships. Beam weapons on the other hand, will not fire any leftover shots after destroying a target, but you may still want to de-select some beam weapons, such as point defense weapons from firing, so that you can aim at incoming missiles or fighters rather than firing your entire complement.
Ending a turn
When all ships have moved and fired their weapons to your satisfaction, simply press the done button on each ship, and the turn will end. If you were unable to fire some of your weapons, you might not be in range. Don't worry though, simply move up further, or if you are unable to do so, simply end this turn and move up again on the next turn.
While the computer will occasionally make fatal errors (usually involving torpedoes), for the most part, it is incredibly efficient with the usage of weapons, especially missiles, rarely wasting a shot. Until you are sufficiently experienced, it is recommended that you allow the computer to control combat.