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Research has types of effect which apply only to warships' components, but which are very important in warship design (covered later) and which are mentioned briefly in the description of the relevant technologies. Explaining these concepts here will make it much easier for you to understand the tech descriptions.

Since some sub-classes of these effects relate to how damage is done in combat, this will be summarized first.

How damage is done in combat[edit]

A well-equipped warship has up to 4 parts:

  • Shields reduce the damage of every beam/warhead the ship is hit with, by a static amount(this effect applies to all damage taken, no matter if the shields have been depleted), and absorb further damage until they are depleted. A ship's shields have 4 sides, and only the side that is hit takes damage (except enveloping beams or MIRV missiles, which hit each side once).
  • Armor absorbs damage once the shields have been depleted, until it is destroyed.
  • After the shields and armor have been taken down, damage is usually done to the target's structure and the target is destroyed when its structural integrity is reduced to zero.
  • Enemy fire can also hit the internal systems, instead of the structure. Hits on a ship's engines can immobilize it or even cause the engines to explode, which destroys the ship and does severe damage to any other object in close range.

The strength of a ship's shields depends on their tech level and on the ship's size class:

  1. Frigate ("small")
  2. Destroyer ("medium")
  3. Cruiser ("large")
  4. Battleship ("huge")
  5. Titan
  6. Doomstar

Miniaturization[edit]

After you research a particular warship component, researching each of the next 5 levels in the same subject reduce the component's cost (PP) and size, so that you can include more combat-related equipment in each size of warship. The effects are dramatic, for example the 5th level of miniaturization usually reduces a component's size and cost to about 25% of their initial values.

But there are a few types of component that are not miniaturized, for example Heavy Armor.

Note that miniaturization works even if the next few techs you research in the same subject are not combat-related, so it's available to non-Creative and Uncreative empires as well as to Creatives. But generally miniaturization happens by doing research, not via techs thet you gain by trading or conquest. The exception is that if trading or conquest gives you the last tech at a level, you get all the miniaturization associated with that level. If you get by trade or conquest a higher-level tech than you've researched in that subject, it stays at its initial space and cost values until you research beyond the level that contains that tech.

After you have researched all the techs in a subject, you can research "Hyper Advanced" levels of that subject. These do not provide any new techs, but enable you to miniaturize the game's most advanced warship components. Most competitive games never reach this level, but in single-player games against AI opponents it can be fun to produce the Warship From Hell, stuffed with a huge number of very advanced weapons plus a collection of special systems that increase their effectiveness.

The detailed ratios of miniaturization are:

Level Space (shields & weapons, except torpedoes and special weapons) Space (other components, including torpedoes and special weapons) Production cost
1 .80 .80 .75
2 .65 .70 .55
3 .50 .60 .40
4 .35 .50 .30
5 or more .25 .40 .25

Weapon modifications[edit]

Every weapons has a range of possible modifications, of which some are available initially and others become available after 1 or 2 levels of miniaturization. These modifications are often referred to a "mods", but this guide will not use the abbreviation as it is also widely used to describe adaptations of the rules of many games, including MOO II.

All weapons allow some modifications, but hardly any allow all types of modification.

"Beam" weapons[edit]

This includes the "machine-gun" weapons Mass Driver and Gauss Cannon. All hit their targets instantly (if they hit).

Level 0 modifications[edit]

These are available immediately:

Heavy mount (HV)

All beams have HV versions which have 50% greater damage, 100% longer range, and the range penalties for dissipation and accuracy are reduced by 50%, but cost twice as much and use twice as much space. Although this appears poor value, HV weapons have 2 important uses: increasing your range and penetrating through shields. Increased range is particularly important in the early game when warships are very slow in combat; without increased range ships with "beam" weapons would often be destroyed by missiles before they could fire a shot. Note: HV weapons cannot target small objects such as missiles and fighters.

Point defense (PD)

PD weapons have half the cost, size, range and firepower of normal weapons, but they have a 25% bonus to accuracy(beam attack) and therefore the most effective against small objects such as missiles and fighters.

Level 1 modifications[edit]

These are available after 1 level of miniaturization and apply in varying combinations to some weapons:

Armor Piercing (AP)

The weapon's fire passes right through armor and hits the targets structure or systems, once its shields have been penetrated (see below). This effect is blocked by Heavy Armor and by the exotic Xentronium Armor, which you cannot research and can only gain by defeating Orion's Guardian or by capturing and scrapping an Antaran ship (both very difficult) - or by espionage or conquest, if another empire got Xentronium Armor the hard way. AP increases a weapon's size and cost by 50% of the current standard value (after miniaturization), which makes it useless, since without Heavy Armor, armor is only 25% or less of the ship's durability and with Heavy Armor the effect is blocked.

Continuous Fire (CO)

This prevents a "beam" weapon from overheating and thus allows it to fire for a longer period, allowing the ship's targeting computer to adjust its aim and therefore increasing the chance of hitting by 25%. This is particularly useful if you do not have advanced targeting computers, or against opponents with a Ship Defense bonus. CO increases a weapon's size and cost by 50% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

No Range Dissipation (NR)

Most "beam" weapons do reduced damage at longer ranges. NR eliminates this, but is availabe for very few weapons. It increases a weapon's size and cost by 25% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Shield Piercing (SP)

The weapon's fire passes right through the target's shields, including the shield's damage reduction effect. This effect is blocked by the Hard Shields special system. SP increases a weapon's size and cost by 50% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Level 2 modifications[edit]

These are available after 2 levels of miniaturization and apply in varying combinations to some weapons:

Auto-Fire (AF)

Allows a beam weapon to fire 3 separate times in rapid succession, each time with a 20% penalty to its accuracy. Note that if the first or second shot destroys the target, the remaining shots are lost. This modification increases the size and cost of the weapon by 50% and is not applicable until the intended weapon has undergone 2 levels of miniaturization.

Enveloping (ENV)

Allows a beam to do damage 4 times. If the target is a ship with shields, then each shield facing is hit once. Note that the damage is not simply quadrupled but applied 4x, which for missiles means that an ENV beam can kill up to four missiles per cannon and not only one. ENV increases a weapon's size and cost by 100% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

"Homing" weapons[edit]

This section covers both missiles and torpedoes. Although these are very different in some ways, both must physically close the distance to hit their targets but have unlimited range and (early on) greater accuracy than beam weapons. However both weapon types can be "jammed" causing them to miss and many defensive technologies can shoot down or destroy missiles before they hit their target. Torpedoes cannot be shot down by beams, anti-missile rockets, pulsars, spatial compressors or ship explosions. They are affected by Lightning Fields. Missile speed is affected by drive technology, while Torpedo speed isn't.

All missiles (but not torpedoes) can have a miniaturization-independent modification granted by a separately researched technology: Emissions Guidance (EMG) makes all missiles that penetrate a ship's anti-missile defenses and shields do all their damage to its engines, either immobilizing it or making it explode. EMG quadruples a missile's size and cost. It provides no advantage against Star Bases and planet-based defenses.

Level 0 modifications[edit]

None.

Level 1 modifications[edit]

These are available after 1 level of miniaturization and can be applied in varying combinations:

Heavily Armored (ARM) [missiles only]

Missile base hitpoints are not affected by armor technology (in-game description is wrong). Heavily armored missiles have twice as many hitpoints. ARM increases a missile's size and cost by 25% of the current standard value (after miniaturization). Base Hitpoints:

  • Nuclear - 4 hp
  • Merculite - 8 hp
  • Pulson - 12 hp
  • Zeon - 16 hp
Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) [missiles and torpedoes]

This halves the evasion bonus granted by the target's Jammer (if any). If no jammer is present, there is no effect. ECCM increases a missile rack's size and cost by 25% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Fast (FST) [missiles and torpedoes]

Increases a missile's or torpedo's speed by 8 squares per combat turn. Missile speed is affected by drive technology, while Torpedo speed isn't. Missiles have a Beam Defense value based on their drive speed calculated exactly the same as for ships, thus FST also makes them harder to hit. Base (unmodified) torpedo speed is 18 for Anti-matter and 22 for Proton and Plasma. FST increases the weapon's size and cost by 25% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Not Reduced by Range (NR) [torpedoes only]

Applies only to Plasma Torpedoes, whose strength normally decreases for every combat turn between launch and impact. NR eliminates this reduction, but increases the weapon's size and cost by 25% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Level 2 modifications[edit]

These are available after 2 levels of miniaturization and apply in varying combinations to some weapons:

Enveloping (ENV) [torpedoes only]

Like the similar modification for "beams", this torpedo modification makes it hit at all 4 sides of the target simultaneously. If the weapon hits and the enemy has no shields or its shields are down, the damage is quadrupled. ENV increases the weapon's size and cost by 100% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

MIRV (MV) [missiles only]

MV missiles carry 4 full-strength warheads, and so quadruples the damage. MV increases the missile rack's size and cost by 100% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Overloaded (OV) [torpedoes only]

Applies only to torpedoes and increases the weapon's power by 50%. OV increases the weapon's size and cost by 50% of the current standard value (after miniaturization).

Fighters[edit]

Fighters are similar to Homing Weapons in that they have to close the distance to target to do damage. Fighter speed and hitpoints are increased respectively by your best drive and armor (the same as with ships). Their Beam Defense is its speed x5 (just like for ships) plus racial BD bonus/penalty and Fighter leader bonuses. Their Beam Attack is a base +50 plus the best targeting computer available, racial BA bonus/penalty, Weaponry and Fighter leader bonuses, and in the 1.50 patch also the Helmsman and Ordnance leader bonuses apply. Each sortie is comprised of 4 Ships that each attack once per round. If their target is destroyed and they have attacks left they target the nearest enemy.

Interceptors Assault Shuttles Bombers Heavy Fighters
Base Speed 8 4 6 6
Base Hitpoints 2 3 4 5
Attacks per Sortie 4 1 1 2
Beams per Attack 1 0 0 1
Bombs per Attack 0 0 1 1

Assault Shuttles will attempt to board and capture their target, regardless of drive status. Shuttles only get one sortie per battle. Interceptors, Bombers and Heavy Fighters will attempt to return to their ship after their sortie, and can then be re-launched. Any unit of 4 fighters that had at least 1 vessel destroyed cannot be re-launched. If the launching and target ships are close enough, fighters can attack every round. Fighters are equipped with the best beam that has the Point Defense modification. In classic 1.31/1.40 the damage done by each beam is equal to the beam's normal damage +1 (Mass Drivers being the exception) and in 1.50 this +1 damage can be removed with the config option 'fighter_beam_no_plus_one = 1'. Bombers and Heavy Fighters carry bombs, which is the only way to use bombs against other ships.

Fighter damage per beam (for version 1.31/1.40 and 1.50 respectively):

  • Laser Cannon .... | 5 | 4 |
  • Fusion Beam ..... | 7 | 6 |
  • Mass Driver ....... | 6 | 6 |
  • Phasor ............... | 21 | 20 |
  • Particle Beam ... | 31 | 30 |

Range for their attack is considered "0". Any of the target ship's unfired Pd weapons or Lightning Field get a chance to fire first and apply damage before the fighter's attack is resolved. Thus it can be advantageous to "pop" target defenses using a small volley of missiles just before your fighters hit home.

If you launch your fighters while the target is directly adjacent to the "side" of your ship (ie. range 0, not to the front), your fighters will immediately make their attack instead of waiting till the following round.

High Energy Focus, Structural Analyzer, and Achilles Targeting Unit don't apply to damage done by fighters. Fighters can be shot down by by beams (normal and Pd), pulsars, spatial compressors, ship explosions and enemy Interceptors. Lightning Field has a 50% chance to destroy incoming fighters every round.