Sid Meier’s Starships: A Reference Guide

Introduction

This guide provides an overview of the game’s basic systems as well as reference materials for the different leaders, planets, and bonuses you will encounter during your game.

This guide is also available on Steam | CivFanatics

Table of Contents

Setting Up

  • Sponsor Options
  • Affinity Options
  • Other Options
  • Victory Conditions

Galactic Layer

  • Resources
  • Planet Types
  • Planet Bonuses
  • Influence
  • Morale
  • Improvements
  • Wonders

Technologies
Your Ships

  • Modules
  • Ranks
  • Classes

Mission Layer

  • The Bridge
  • Maps
  • Battle Cards

Integration with Beyond Earth

  • Starships rewards from playing Beyond Earth
  • Beyond Earth rewards from playing Starships

Setting Up

When setting up your game, you have two major decisions to make: your sponsor and your affinity. Each one provides you a different bonus, but each one is also permanent for the entirety of the game.

Sponsor Options

  • Barre (Benevolent) – reduces city cost by 25%
  • Bolivar (Warrior) – starts with one extra starship
  • Elodie (Charismatic) – increases crew morale by 10%
  • Fielding (Economist) – generates 50 credits per city each turn
  • Hutama (Diplomat) – always gets a “first contact” influence bonus
  • Kavitha (Humanitarian) – starts with one extra city
  • Kozlov (Industrialist) – increases metal production by 25%
  • Sochua (Progressive) – starts with two random tech upgrades

Affinity Options

  • Harmony – starship repairs cost 50% less
  • Purity – mission resource rewards are doubled
  • Supremacy – start the game with a random wonder already built

Other Options

On the right hand side of your screen you will see options for map size, difficulty, number of opponents, and victory conditions.

If you own Beyond Earth, you have the option of “continuing” your Beyond Earth game into Starships. When you are able to do so you will see an option at the bottom of your screen to Load from Beyond Earth. In order to do, however, you need to open Beyond Earth, open a save, and then open the menu from within your game and select the Continue in Starships option. Only after that is done will you be able to continue the game in Starships.

Once your game begins, there are two layers: the “galactic” layer and the “mission” layer. We will review the galactic layer first as this is the first thing you see once your game begins.

Victory Conditions

You can select a single victory condition or all of the victory conditions for the game. There are four:

  • Population: Have 51% of galaxy’s population in your federation
  • Wonder: Build 9 wonders
  • Technology: Upgrade 3 techs to level 6
  • Domination: Capture all faction homeworlds

Galactic Layer

Every civilization starts with a home world (as do the Pirate and Marauder factions). Each world is in range of a random assortment of other planets, which then open up new planets for exploration. Each planet will have a mission above it, city count to the left, and a bonus below it. You can see other sponsors’ fleets move around in this layer on their turns, keep track of your resources, and access the other screens in the game.

Resources

At the top of your screen you will find your resources. These include:

  • Energy – used to upgrade, repair, or expand your fleet
  • Metal – used to purchase planetary improvements, defenses, and wonders
  • Science – used to research techs
  • Food – used to purchase new cities on planets
  • Credits – used to purchase other resources or to buy planetary influence

Energy, metal, science, and food are all earned by planets. The amount varies based on the planet type, planet bonus, planetary improvements, and number of cities. Credits are earned through missions or by trading resources. If you play as Suzanne Fielding, you automatically earn credits every turn.

Planet Types

There are several different types of planets, each of which is best for a specific resource. You can hover over each planet to find out what type it is, although each type also has a unique look which you will learn to recognize at a glance.

  • Volcanic: +50% energy
  • Arid: +50% metals
  • Earth-like: +50% food
  • Icy: +50% science
  • Dark Matter: technically not a planet as you cannot build anything on it or “own” it, but you gain a battlecard every time you move here

Planet Bonuses

In addition to the planet type, each planet also provides a specific bonus, listed underneath it.

  • Engines: engine modules cheaper
  • Shields: shield modules cheaper
  • Lasers: laser modules cheaper
  • Cannons: cannon modules cheaper
  • Armor: armor modules cheaper
  • Torpedoes: torpedo modules cheaper
  • Sensors: sensor modules cheaper
  • Stealth: stealth modules cheaper
  • Fighters: fighter modules cheaper
  • Blaze: energy yields on this planet are doubled
  • Structure: metal yields on this planet are doubled
  • Knowledge: science yields on this planet are doubled
  • Harvest: food yields on this planet are doubled
  • Repair: reduces repair costs by 33%
  • Generosity: mission rewards doubled on this planet
  • Barter: buying and selling on the market does not cause the price to change
  • Politicos: +1 influence whenever you gain influence on this planet
  • Designers: reduces new starships cost by 33%
  • Workbots: planetary improvements 50% cheaper
  • Network: technologies 25% cheaper
  • Defenders: control an additional ship when defending the planet
  • Wonders: reduces wonder costs on this planet
  • Verdant: cities 50% cheaper on this planet
  • Primal: population increases by 500M per turn on this planet
  • Marauder: defeat the fleet around this huge planet to bring it into your empire
  • Pirate: defeat the fleet around this large planet to bring it into your empire

Bonuses that do not say “on this planet” can be accessed on any planet in your warp network once the planet has been connected.

Influence

As you journey to each planet and complete missions, you will build up influence points around each planet. Here are the influence levels:

  • 1 influence – planetary line-of-sight
  • 2 influence – you receive 50% of the planet’s resources
  • 3 influence – you receive 75% of the planet’s resources
  • 4 influence – the planet joins your federation

How do you gain influence? I’m glad you asked.

  • First Contact: +1 influence
  • Green (easy) Mission: +1 influence
  • Orange (moderate) Mission: +2 influence
  • Red (hard) Mission: +3 influence
  • Shore Leave (ending your turn with your fleet at the planet): +1 influence

Morale

As you fly around completing missions, you’ll notice that your crew morale meter in the bottom left turns from green to red. You start with 10 morale each turn. Each jump to a new planet costs 1 morale, and each mission costs 2. Once you’re down to zero, you have to end the turn.

Additionally, low crew morale impacts the effectiveness of your ships. Low morale will decrease the range and power of actions taken during a mission.

Improvements

Once you’ve gained majority influence on a planet, you can begin improving the planet in two ways: improvements and cities. Cities are bought with food, and increase the population of the planet as well as every resource yield. Improvements cost metal, and there are several which can be built:

  • Biofuel Plant: +50% energy
  • Autoplant: +50% metals
  • Cryptolab: +50% science
  • Aquifer: +50% food
  • Warp Nexus: connects to adjacent warp system
  • Megabots: provides additional defence forces

The Warp Nexus will connect the planet to your warp system, which allows your ship to travel between connected worlds without losing morale. Megabots can only be built on a planet once they are part of your federation (4 influence).

Wonders

Each planet can also build a single, pre-determined wonder once they enter your federation. There are 14, and each provides a unique and powerful bonus. Each wonder can only be built once.

  • Warp Control: wormholes are no longer random
  • Intelli-Shields: shields provide full 360 degree protection
  • Dual Command: you may fire your weapon and take another action or take two actions per turn in addition to movement (note: you cannot fire twice)
  • Naval Tradition: low morale does not decrease crew effectiveness
  • Great Shipyard: reduces repair costs by 50%
  • Stealth Torpedo: torpedoes are undetectable after launch
  • Damage Control: you no longer take critical hits
  • Repulsors: narrow passages are always open to your ships
  • Hyperlaunch: your fighters have full initial movement on launch
  • Glide Path: Impulse power now provides 3 moves instead of 1
  • Redundant Systems: your ships automatically repair 50% damage per turn
  • Convergent Light: lasers have longer range
  • Naval College: you receive 3 battle cards at a time
  • Reactive Armor: your ships no longer take damage from torpedoes
  • Torpedo Boosters: your torpedoes move faster
  • Cloaking: stealth modules are always active
  • Jump Start: you move first in all battles
  • Tight Squeeze: your fighters can move through asteroids

Technologies

There are nine technologies in Starships, and each one can be research up to six times, with each level increasing the bonus received from the tech.

  • Ion Drive: +25% engine speed
  • Field Theory: +25% shield absorption
  • Xeno Materials: +10 armor HP
  • Nano Electronics: +25% laser dmg
  • Ion Energy: +25% cannon dmg
  • Thermal Compression: +25% torpedo dmg
  • Quantum Cognition: +25% sensor effectiveness
  • Quantum Suppression: +25% stealth effectiveness
  • Artificial Intelligence: fighters gain 1 random module

Unlike Civilization, where you research technologies over time, techs in Starships are purchased instantly from your science reserves. In essence, all resources (including science) behave like gold or energy from the Civilization series.

Your Ships

Modules

You can customize your ships at any time given you have the energy necessary. There are muliple modules on you ship, and you can buy or sell them at will (i.e. you ship design is not permanent and can be changed to fit the situation).

  • Engines: increase movement range. Other modules will lower speed by a small percent, so sometimes you may need to make a decision between high speed/low damage or low speed/high damage.
    • + Speed
    • + 5 HP
  • Shields: shields absorb incoming damage, but do not entirely remove it. Shields protect the front and sides of your ship, but do not protect the rear, so position your ships carefully.
    • – Speed
    • + 5 HP
  • Armor: increases your ship HP, so you can take more damage.
    • – Speed
    • + 30 HP (+ 10*Xeno Materials level)
  • Lasers: more effective at long range. Unlimited ammo.
    • – Speed
    • + 5 HP
  • Cannons: more effective at close range. Unlimited ammo.
    • – Speed
    • + 5 HP
  • Torpedos: flying bomb. You cannot detonate on the turn your fire. On subsequent turns you can choose between detonation or continuing to fly. Does massive area damage but can be dodged. Each module provides one torpedo.
    • – Speed
  • Sensors: activate to scan for cloaked ships in sensor range. Upgrades increase range.
  • Stealth: activate to cloak until the beginning of your next turn. Be careful, as only hides you from enemies beyond the detection range, so it will not save you from an enemy plasma cannon sitting in your face.
  • Fighters: can be launched and controlled as an additional ship during a mission. Fragile but powerful. Have limited movement on the turn they are launched. Each upgrade allows you to launch one fighter.
    • – Speed
    • + 10 HP

Ranks

As you complete missions and kill enemies, your starships gain experience and increase in effectiveness. There are four ranks you can achieve:

  • Rookie: no increased crew effectiveness
  • Regular: +10% crew effectiveness
  • Veteran: +15% crew effectiveness
  • Elite: +20% crew effectiveness

Classes

My tests indicate that the starship class (Corvette, Destroyer, Cruiser, Battleship) is directly tied to its HP, while the prefixes (Fast, Assault) are calculated differently.

  • Corvette Class: Default class, minimum 40 HP
  • Destroyer Class: 90-100 HP
  • Cruiser Class: 150-180 HP
  • Battleship Class: 210-255 HP
  • “Fast” Prefix: Speed >= 4-5
  • “Assault” Prefix: Focus on Armor & Cannon over Shields & Lasers

Note 1: The numbers given are ranges because the exact threshold seems to change based on either the difficulty level or map size.
Note 2: The “Fast” Prefix seems to be bugged on Cruisers and Battleships as they will gain the prefix if enough modules are placed on the ships even with only 2 speed.
Note 3: The “Assault” Prefix is even more fluid than the others, as you can combine Shields/Lasers with Armor/Cannon to a certain extent, but too many Shields/Lasers will remove the prefix, even if you have more Armor/Cannon.

Mission Layer

The Bridge

When you initiate a mission, you will be taken to the bridge of your command vessel to review some information and decide whether or not you actually want to continue with the engagement. There are four “advisors” you can consult on your bridge:

  • Tell me more about [planet name]: this advisor will tell you a strategic detail about the map you are about to play on. For example, you might find out that the asteroid fields are highly reflective and your lasers won’t be as effective, or that micro-debris will cause 2 damage per move. It is highly recommended to check this as you can then customize your ships to specific circumstances.
  • Provide me with some advice/Negotiate with [faction]: there are two possible options here – tactical advice or diplomacy. The tactical advice is pretty basic stuff which you should learn very quickly. If you are fighting another faction, the diplomacy option will replace the tactical advice, where you can attempt to negotiate peace.
  • Tell me more about the enemy vessels: this will give you a detailed breakdown of all the enemy ships, their modules, and if any reinforcements will be coming in later turns.
  • Build/Repair Starships: this will allow you to customize your ships before the battle based on information you find out from the other advisors (as long as you have the Energy to do so).

Maps

The tactical map consists of a hex grid and various types of terrain. Keep in mind that the enemy will always move first unless you have the Jump Start wonder or your advisor tells you that the system has been “fully mapped”. Each moveable hex costs 1 movement point and there is no zone of control.

  • Open Space: This is a clear hex on the tactical map that allows for free movement and has no defensive bonuses associated with it.
  • Asteroids: Hexes with asteroids in them are completely impassible except by empires with certain wonders built. In addition, firing through a hex of asteroid terrain will apply a significant reduction to your damage, possibly reducing it to zero. Asteroids that are closer to you block your shots less than asteroids that are farther away.
  • Narrow Passages: These hexes are either open for travel (shown by a broken green circle), or blocked (shown by a sold red circle), and the state of the hex changes randomly from turn to turn. Provides a minor defensive bonus when in or behind this terrain.
  • Jump Gates: Jump gates are strewn throughout the tactical map. When a ship moves into one of these hexes, they will instantly be transported to a jump gate at a different location.
  • Warp Portal: Hexes with a warp portal are considered open terrain but are key to the successful completion of some missions.
  • Planet: A planet (usually at the center of the map) is a completely impassible obstacle which cannot be fired through by any type of weapon.

Battle Cards

During every mission you receive one battle card (displayed on the left-hand side of your screen). These can provide significant advantages instantly, during the current turn, or for the duration of the mission. It is recommended to check you battle cards as soon as you start the mission as if it’s a mission-long bonus you should play it immediately.There are four levels of rarity (common, uncommon, rare, ultra-rare), and you can draw additional battle cards by visiting Dark Matter in the Galactic Layer.

  • Nanobots: repairs all critical hits instantly (common)
  • Warp Connect: +2 speed this turn (common)
  • Pattern Match: +1 shield level this mission (common)
  • Tight Pattern: +50% weapon range this mission (common)
  • Megabots: repairs 50% of starship damage instantly (uncommon)
  • Capacitor Overload: double firepower on next shot (uncommon)
  • Warp Meld: +2 speed this mission (uncommon)
  • Quick Time: +1 action this turn* (uncommon)
  • Hyperconductors: +50% firepower this mission (rare)
  • Space/Time Anomaly: creates a Jump Gate (rare)
  • Saboteurs: 25 HP damage to all enemy starships (rare)
  • Gravity Well: enemy starship speed reduced (rare)
  • Doppleganger: Clone this starship (ultra-rare)
  • Healing Surge: all starship damage reset (ultra-rare)
  • Power Rush: all starships increase engine power (ultra-rare)
  • Malware: enemy starships take critical power damage (ultra-rare)

Integration with Beyond Earth

Starships is connected to Civilization: Beyond Earth through a my2k account. You will need to log into both games to obtain the rewards. You can earn unlockables in each game by playing both of them.You can also “continue” Beyond Earth games in Starships. Continuing a game will transfer over the number of players, affinities of each player, faction leaders, and diplomatic relations. You can still customize the map size and victory conditions.

Starships rewards from playing Beyond Earth

  • Planet Type – Nirvana:
    • Bonus: +5% crew morale
    • Unlocked By: winning a Transcendence (Harmony) victory
  • Planet Type – Xanadu:
    • Bonus: +10% science
    • Unlocked By: winning a Promised Land (Purity) victory
  • Planet Type – Earth:
    • Bonus: +10% metal
    • Unlocked By: winning an Emancipation (Supremacy) victory
  • Planet Type – Observatory:
    • Bonus: open communications with all AI leaders
    • Unlocked By: winning a Contact Victory
  • Hybrid Affinity: Supremacy/Harmony
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Supremacy and level 4 Harmony
  • Hybrid Affinity: Supremacy/Purity
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Supremacy and level 4 Purity
  • Hybrid Affinity: Purity/Harmony
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Purity and level 4 Harmony
  • Hybrid Affinity: Purity/Supremacy
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Purity and level 4 Supremacy
  • Hybrid Affinity: Harmony/Supremacy
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Harmony and level 4 Supremacy
  • Hybrid Affinity: Harmony/Purity
    • Bonus: Allows you to use both affinity benefits (first one is primary affinity)
    • Unlocked By: reaching level 7 Harmony and level 4 Purity
  • Mission – New Jerusalem:
    • Description: protect the religious refugees
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Found an Outpost” quest
  • Mission – Assembly Required:
    • Description: protect the cargo transports
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Gifts from Home” quest
  • Mission – The Arena:
    • Description: battle without shields
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Hostile Takeover” quest

Beyond Earth rewards from playing Starships

  • Map – Tiny Islands
    • Bonus: new map type
    • Unlocked By: winning a game (or a Population victory, unclear right now)
  • Map – Inland Sea
    • Bonus: new map type
    • Unlocked By: winning a Domination victory
  • Colonist – Pioneers
    • Bonus: build colonists and explorers twice as fast
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Fleet Escape” mission
  • Colonist – Mercenaries
    • Bonus: all cities have +25 HP and all units have +10% combat and ranged strength in friendly territory
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Dark Star” mission
  • Spacecraft – Supply Module
    • Bonus: begin with 2 resource pods near your first city
    • Unlocked By: completing “Den of Thieves!” mission (Pirate homeworld)
  • Spacecraft – Electromagnetic Sensor
    • Bonus: reveal Artifacts on map
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Final Justice!” mission (Marauder homeworld)
  • Cargo – Cryotome
    • Bonus: begin with a free virtue
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Fragile” mission
  • Cargo – Xeno Management
    • Bonus: begin with an Ultrasonic Emitter unit (does 10 damage to all adjacent aliens)
    • Unlocked By: completing the “Death Craft Alpha” quest

Sid Meier’s Starships

Released: March 12, 2015 | Developer: Firaxis Games

Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS | On Steam