Just got this game - and I am very, very confused.

I got through the first two missions easy using the starter ships, and I decided to try my hand at building my own.

All of them were miserable failures.

I was wondering if there was a beginner’s guide, or some templates for basic ship designs anywhere?

thanks! this game looks like a lot of fun

One of the most important concepts to understand in GSB is the balance of weapon penetration and defensive resistance.

It’s often a good idea to have a mixture of weapons with a high shield penetration (such as plasma launchers and some missiles) and armour penetration (such as beams). If you want to destroy enemy ships you will have to have weapons with enough shield penetration to first get through those, so don’t load up on a bunch of beam weapons, which are very cool-looking and deal a ton of damage, but do virtually nothing against shields.

That said, you want to load up your cruisers with at least one reflective shield, which means the difference between certain enemy weapons either bouncing off of them or punching right on through. It doesn’t matter what other shield modules you have - as long as you have one reflective shield, the shields of said ship will have its reflectivity.

Armour is not as effective as shielding for warding off attacks but it is vital for keeping your ships safe from fighters. The more modules you have, the lower the strength of armour (not the hitpoints of it) will be - armour absorbs the same amount of damage regardless of the number of modules, but it can deflect less and less depending on how many modules it must cover. Try to keep your armour strength above the penetration ratings of fighter weapons if you want to keep them from getting swarmed, though the “lucky shot” mechanic ensures that no armour is absolutely impenetrable.

It’s also good to have a general role in mind for what each ship design is doing. I tend to avoid making jack-of-all-trade ships and try instead to make each suit a role depending on its bonuses and other stats - for example, using ships with speed bonuses as fast-strike craft armed with deadly but short-ranged cruiser lasers, or making a carrier that holds anti-fighter weaponry (for warding off enemy fighters chasing yours!).

Those are just a few general pointers, and things I tended to have difficulty with. What sort of problems are you having?

Something I used to do early on was cram reflective shields and beam lasers on everything, and only having a single engine and no armor. Then I learned that beams have poor shield penetration, speed affects accuracy, and fighters can fly under your shield bubble.
Just look at the module stats and you should be fine.

Also keep in mind you will nearly never have a perfect battle, ie a portion of your ships WILL be destroyed. Try this strategy to start yourself out.

This is placing a huge cruiser up front in your formation with no weapons, but a load of armour/shields and a single engine. So long as this ship stays in front of your other cruisers, it will be targeted first, and will absorb fire while your other cruisers deal out the damage.

I made a tank for federation a bit ago. It did have weapons, but it was mostly armor. Don’t worry about shields for this kinds of things, just makes them next to useless on maps with no or reduced shields.

I tried the same approach to the demo just using the stock ships and fiddling around. After realizing my ships were largely ineffective I went into the ship builder. At first my prototypes also failed horribly. Slowly but surely though as I experimented with some of the basic weapons and modules they started to do better. Eventually they began to do extremely well and with some extra fleet orders I was able to do the first few missions with extremely high efficiency and get some honor going.