Are Engines Totally Useless Like They Seem to Be?


I like GSB, I’ve been playing it for a couple of days. There’s things I like about it and things I don’t, but there is only one thing that really bothers me (other than a copy/paste key for deployments).

Engines on anything (except maybe fighters) are totally useless.

In all the missions, I build huge weapons platforms loaded up with shields, armor, and plasma cannons. Then I wait while on every level the enemy force comes to me. Since they foolishly have wasted slots on engines, I always have more shields/armor than they do. This slight advantage grinds itself out and I win.

Engines being useless also means I don’t need to worry about weight.

Also I for the most part don’t need to worry about orders. I set everything to co-op/vulture. Since my ships aren’t moving I have MUCH MORE CONTROL over the layout of my ships throughout the battle. Put the cruisers in front and the frigates behind them.

It seems to me that you’d have to make engines at least 4x better for them to offer any benefit.

So I guess my question is: am I missing something here?

Yeah. Thats a common complaint. I think it may be an exploit, but I could be wrong. Also, there are some battles that require ships to have engines.

I thought about your strategy and found it very easy. Your ships effectively act as stationary turrets and this allows you to dictate the battle with specific formations.

While it is easy, it is also boring, so I chose to go with engines.

  1. Immobile formations leaves you wide open to other people being able to trivially flank your formations and take your ships one at a time with long range weapons

  2. You are unable to choose the range at which the battle is fought.
    i.e. If you field a balanced fleet, an opponent could engage you entirely with range 1200 missiles. Or if you build a long ranged fleet, they can rush in and use short ranged weapons, smashing you with the vastly superior dps you get from those.

  3. Moving ships are harder to hit (to hit chance considers weapon tracking, target ship size, and current speed.)

Immobile ships work quite well versus the single player missions. Post up a challenge using immobile ships, and you’ll find it doesn’t perform so great against real opposition…

The weakness of that approach is I can load my ships up with one basic engine, and then use max range weapons with orders to stay at that range and unload on your stationary sitting ducks. Boom. That was the sound of inevitability… =) Vs a computer opponent, you wont see this, but vs a human opponent who will adjust his fleet to slay yours, it will most certainly happen. You COULD set up all your ships on top of each other and use max range weaponry yourself, but in that case I’ll go the other direction, get lots of fast ships with powerful short range weapons and pull you apart well within the minimum range of your weapons. You wont be able to fire on me, whilst I will chew you apart. I’ll also be close enough to wave as you explode in to nothingness, which is a bonus. =) If you choose to mix it up and have both short and long range weapons, I’ll stay at long range and outgun you. Without the ability to menouver into the required range(s) of your weapon(s), you’re as good as super-heated space dust vs a human player.

I really believe all ships should require at least ONE engine, or else how did they even get there? That being said, this is Gratuitous Space Battles, so explanations are not needed. It is enough that the ships are there and they have it in for each other. Maybe the engine-less ships were hauled in by giant tugs, or beamed in… Or maybe they used a giant space-catapult or something… Maybe they were built there on the spot. Doesn’t really matter how they got there, does it? =)

I’d like to see an engine requirement for ships, but perhaps a new station class of unit added.

In another thread I suggested adding a FTL drive requirement for some ships, but I realize this could be folded into the engines. Make some that are heavier, and use more power and are ALSO the FTL drives, and the lighter, more efficient ones could be sublight only—this is under the assumption that differeent scenarios become possible with one side as attacker, on defender, etc—alternate gratuitous battles instead of all scenarios being identical.

I dunno… I mean, isn’t it basically the same thing to just create a ship with no engine? Does it bother you that much that it doesn’t LOOK like a station? And who says in the future our stations won’t look just like our ships? =) (Do NOT bring physics into this! This is GSB, not real life!) =)


engines should just be more efficient.

while i can get a cruiser up to 0.30 speed for example, it requires A LOT of power and crew which i could also invest in shields/emp weapons/…

most of my cruisers are between 0.10 and 0.25 speed and i barely notice any difference. same goes with frigates, though they are a bit faster ofc.

using solely beam weapons or missiles is boring, but it’s hard to get the ships in range of lasers fast enough before they get blown apart or heavily damaged.

currently i see only fighters benefitting from speed.


Well I guess it would change things if I weren’t loaded down with missiles, and the enemy ships where smart enough to try to pick my fleet off at a distance.

However, after watching the AI play all the missions, I don’t think they are.

Also, the AI is not smart enough to keep ships in tight formation when approaching my battle platforms, so I pick them off one at a time with focused fire. Maybe GSB needs some sort of sliding scale shield resistance like Sins of a Solar Empire has to mitigate the effectiveness of focus fire (shield resistance increases when your ship is taking high DPS).

The argument that “if you do X, I’ll do Y” doesn’t make a ton of sense in this game - it’s basically rock/paper/scissors. My point is that from a game design point of view, it’s not good design to have a whole class of basic modules (engines) that are useless in all but niche scenarios.

That being said, I think my floating island of pain would nuke any run-and-gun fleet you send it’s way. I’ve been beating all the missions with 97% of my force left (losing fighters). I found an insectoid cruiser design that is only 1x1, so you can stack them literally on top of each other, making it impossible for a ship not to come into range of at least several of them at once.

No, it won’t. Easily demonstrated, post your deployment up as a challenge.

You’re limiting your view of the game, to the basic single player missions. Think of the single player ‘campaign’ as a tutorial that leads you into the challenges placed by other players. Even the easiest challenges posted by human players have a tendency to be more challenging than the single player missions. Using engineless ships I beat pretty much the whole campaign on expert first time through. The same deployment wouldn’t stand a chance versus some of the fleets I’ve seen in challenges.

Oh gawds, don’t mention the Sins of Solar empire shield thing, that annoys me so much. Shield’s that get more effective the more damage they take, wtf?

I agree with the idea that engines need to be more efficient. The only reason I put two is just for aesthetic reasons, I like symetry and don’t want to put engines in spaces that don’t look like engine pods. But I’ve tried making a fast crusier and even with four engines it’s clunky slow and the energy and crew requirements eat up valuable guns and defense space, as you said.

P.S. Yes, I under stand what Sin’s reasoning behind the shield boosting is, I just don’t agree with it. Mass concentrated fire is a logical doctrine and it’s dumb IMHO to penalize for it.


that’s exactly what i am thinking.
don’t know, maybe i’m a bit conservative here, but i keep telling me that a cruiser needs engines and that they have to be in the rear part of the ship, mounted symmetrically.

however i refuse to accept that engines are that worthless and i use up to four on some cruisers :slight_smile:

main reason is, it’s fun to experiment with engines/low range weapons and quite satisfying when you finally found a design that works. i don’t want to play gsb as tower defense with stationary ships



Have you tried any of the challenges yet? There are numerous ways to defeat non-moving ships. My personal favorite is simply swamping them with frigates loaded with two ion cannons and one frigate beam laser, and then have a group of torpedo frigates sitting in the back pummeling ships with their torpedoes. You don’t quite realize how effective frigates can be until you send a fleet of them against stationary “tank” cruisers. The sheer weight of fire of that many frigates decimates cruisers no matter how many shield or armor modules they have.

Really though if you want to play the real GSB you have to play the challenges.

Going to try some of those challenges tonight.

To the people mentioning that Frigate swarming counters Cruisers though: wouldn’t your argument apply to any Cruiser? Even if they had engines? In fact, your argument would apply moreso, because those ships necessarily have less armor/shields/weapons. It seems impossible to get the Cruisers to go fast enough that there is any difference between a speed of 0 and whatever speed you get when you bolt 4 engines onto the things… Right?

Put four decent engines (I like the lightweight engine, but the supercharged isn’t a bad option either) on an unarmoured cruiser and it’ll be going faster than most people’s frigates do.

The argument about frigate swarms defeating engineless cruisers, is because engineless cruisers have to have an emphasis on long ranged (and thus lower dps) weaponry, because they are simply unable to bring short ranged weapons to bear. Fast ships can thus stack up on short ranged weapons (such as frigate ion cannons, or the cruiser laser) and rush into short range to ‘out dps’ those towers. If the towers mount enough short range weapons to defeat this strategy, then they will be deficient in long range weapons, thus trivially beaten by a slow long range fleet (which will likely 100% them…)