How do I build a 3000 point fleet? Silver-ranked vren55 will attempt to explain the roles of different ship hulls, the roles a fleet can fulfil, and the general principles to designing a fleet.
Part 1 (Draft Complete): Ship Hulls
Part 2 (WIP): Fleet Roles
Part 3 (WIP): General Principles
Designing even one multiplayer fleet of 3000 points fleet in Nebulous tends to be very overwhelming for new players. There are also a number of theories/suggestions, people literally telling you exactly what to do in the community.
Lieutenant Commander Vren55 here will instead just give some general tips on how to design a 3000 point fleet. Mind you, these are his opinions, so you’ll probably find something different but I hope that these would help.
First of all though, let me go through the hulls that various fleets can use, what roles they can fulfil. In Part two of the guide (work in progress) I’ll go through the roles that various fleets can fulfil and why you should bring them. In Part three (work in progress), I’ll explain the general and very important principles one needs to consider when designing a fleet.
(Special thanks to Weeble kneeble who I bounced many ideas off of and pre-read the guide)
I would also strongly recommend people watch JDEE’s Video on Fleet Building as it covers much of the same points.
Part 1: Ship Hulls
Every ship hull has a purpose. In this section of the guide, I’ll introduce you to some basic ship hulls and their roles.
Sprinter – Corvette
- Fast – means you can use it as a scout, to capture control points, to locate the enemy, to close into the enemy to dump ordnance
- Small radar profile – means it won’t get detected too easily and helps you scout enemy ships
- Small – means when you get shot at by big guns such as 450mm and Rails, you won’t get as badly damaged
- Fragile – means that if you get hit by 250s HE-RPF, by 120mm guns, or by a Beam, you’re dead
- Limited – the corvette has very few module slots and weapon mounts which means that what it can do is limited. It can do a few things very well, but it’s not a Jack-of-all trades.
Why do you want to bring a Sprinter?
You bring a Sprinter for two reasons. You want to swarm sprinters, or you want to bring a scout ship. If you are swarming sprinters, you want to overwhelm the enemy with small targets so that you can kill them with either torpedoes at close range, with missiles at longer range, or with a horde of guns.
If you are bringing a sprinter in a heavier fleet, you want to equip it for scouting. This means you either fit it with a Spyglass for intelligence, or if you want to get fire control locks, a Bullseye. There are such things as point defense corvettes, but having a single fragile corvette act as point defense isn’t necessarily the best idea.
Raines – Frigate
- Cheap – Raines class ships are but 125 points, which makes them very cheap to bring, especially considering…
- Excellent Support Weapons Platform – Raines class frigates have four weapon slots which can mount a lot of support weapons. These include: point defense, Electronic warfare jammers, illuminators, pinard electronic intelligence modules, and fire control radar. They also have enough module slots to be equipped with Spyglass Radar while also carrying 120mm guns.
- Can Hold a Lot of Ordnance – Raines class frigates can mount VLS-16 and MLS2 launchers and if specialized properly, can carry a lot of missiles They also can be used to carry four 120mm gun turrets, and if one brings several of these frigates, that can be quite terrifying for lighter warships.
- Good speed – For what it can carry, Raines class frigates don’t need much modification to maintain and be fairly speedy.
- Limited Weapon Mount Size – While a Raines can carry a lot of missiles, it doesn’t have the ability to mount any gun over 120mm, which limits its ability to provide supporting gunfire. 120mms simply cannot deal with the armor of the Axford and Solomon capital ships.
- Fairly Fragile – Raines frigates are not designed to withstand damage. Do not get hit by 450 HE, by 250s and 120s will still hurt you.
Why Bring a Raines?
Raines are either brought as the primary ship to fleets, or as supporting ships.
If you want to build your fleet around multiple Raines frigates, you can specialize as missile players as the hull type allows you to bring a lot of missiles and fire them in salvoes from MLS 2 or VLS 16 mounts. You could also employ a gun frigate swarm with supporting Electronic Warfare turrets.
If you want to employ a Raines as a support ship, you’re typically using it to support heavier warships such as Vauxhall, Axfords and Solomons. Players usually bring Raines Frigates to add a little bit of Electronic Warfare, Scouting, a little bit of Point Defense or just something to deal with pesky corvettes. A properly equipped Raines class frigate can do all of that as it’s an excellent support ship.
Keystone – Destroyer
- Spinal Weapon Mount – The Keystones have a unique and very dangerous spinal weapon mount. You can either mount a very powerful Beam Cannon which can eviscerate ships at close range, or a long ranged Rail Gun that can damage even capital ships.
- Variable Utility – The Keystone’s spinal mount means that very few modules are required to support either its Beam cannon or Railgun, which allows Keystones to be refitted with less-power intensive support weapons such as missiles, or guns.
- Relatively Fragile Glass Cannons – Keystones are not particularly well-protected ships and even 120 HE-RPF rounds can damage them (with difficulty). They do well ambushing, attacking, or even defending around corners, but once they start taking damage from larger weapons, they drop quite quickly. In particular, a Keystones’ spinal mount’s frontal placement means it can be hit quite easily.
- Not built for speed – Keystones also not particularly fast. They have the same drive and reactor setup as a Raines Frigate but are heavier, which makes them very slow ships.
- Priority Targets – In particular because of how powerful Beam Keystones are, they are often the first target of more experienced players. Coupled with the glass-cannon attribute of a Keystone, this means that Keystones run the risk of being destroyed quite quickly in an extended engagement, especially if surprise is lost early.
Why bring a Keystone?
Keystones are either brought as core to a Keystone pack (usually of three or more Keystones) or to bring additional “oomph” to an existing heavy fleet. They are often supplemented with support ships of the Sprinter and Raines variety that bring either scouting intelligence, and/or Electronic Warfare capabilities that can be used to protect a Keystone pack and negate some of the vulnerabilities of the ship.
Typically the composition of Keystone-centered fleets are dictated by the spinal mount of the Keystone. A Keystone Railgum fleet would require a lot of spotters to assist the Keystones with firing their railguns or missiles (which rail Keystones often bring). A Keystone beam-missile fleet will often bring significant Electronic warfare through an additional frigate or sprinter to protect the Keystone pack as they close in for a beam attack.
Keystones, particularly beam Keystones, can also be used to augment Axford Heavy Cruiser fleets, providing the much needed alpha damage to take out capital grade targets that the Axford can’t take out.
Vauxhall – Light Cruiser
- Speed – The Vauxhall is the lightest ship that can be equipped with dual 200 and a 500 series drives, which means that you can get a Vauxhall so fast it can outrun Sprinter corvettes. This speed can protect a Vauxhall from fire by getting it into cover quickly and allow Vauxhalls to close into range for torpedo dumps. Furthermore, it allows players to reposition, reinforce and switch in and out with teammates under fire, giving the ship a lot of tactical flexibility. It also enables gun-armed Vauxhalls to pursue down lighter ships and rip them to shreds with its weapons. Speaking of…
- Weapon Mounts – The Vauxhall can field a wild variety of weapons. It has the ability to equip at its maximum, 6 either 250mm guns, 6 MLS2 missile launchers or 6 MLS3 torpedo launchers, which can allow the ship to be either absolutely deadly against lighter ships thanks to its 250s, haul a ton of missiles, or be very deadly against capital ships. Generally though, the Torpedo is a very tricky weapon to use and most people don’t mount the maximum 6 mounts. Furthermore, the rear mount of the Vauxhall is in a bit of an awkward position, leading most people to just mount 5 guns. The Vauxhall can also be equipped with Jammers, and a decent point defense field, making it one of the most variable ship types in the game.
- Surprisingly Durable – When bow-on to enemies, the Vauxhall can be a surprisingly durable ship as its angled armor enables it to, for a time, tank even 450 HE shots. With lighter guns such as 120s, the Vauxhall needs to be shot at with AP for any real damage to be done.
- Speed – The Vauxhall is so fast that it is one of the few ships that does not benefit from a Sprinter Corvette scout, mostly because it can outpace a Sprinter Corvette. This means that often Vauxhalls are simultaneously their own scouts, which means they’re often the first ships to be shot at because they’re the first ships to be seen.
- Not a Capital Ship – The Vauxhall may be surprisingly durable against lighter ships, but it’s not designed to go against capital ships such as Axford Heavy Cruisers and Solomon Battleships for extended periods of time. It’s meant to support heavier ships from the flanks and screen them, not go toe to toe with them.
- Suboptimal point defense mounts – While the Vauxhall can mount a very powerful point defense from the front, the way it’s four point 2x2x2 mounts are placed means that missiles from above and in particular, from behind, stand a very good chance of hitting a Vauxhall and since the drive section is at the rear, this can be very bad for a Vauxhall
- Can’t evade detection without using proper Ewar – the Vauxhall is a small ship but it’s the smallest ship that CANNOT evade detection without Ewar. Any corvette or frigate with a spyglass will spot a Vauxhall at 11.5 km unless angled, but that only reduces the spotting range to 10.6km. This means that a Vauxhall has to use hard cover to evade detection.
Why bring a Vauxhall?
If you’re using a Vauxhall, you’re usually building a light cruiser pack with maybe a single Raines frigate for support. Vauxhall builds have generally become standardized, which means if you bring a Vauxhall fleet you’re bringing:
- A gun Vauxhall fleet that flits around the map, firing at vulnerable targets, destroying lighter Raines, Keystone and Sprinter class ships, and harassing with 250 AP, Axford or Solomon ships (without getting into extended fights with them)
- A gun-missile Vauxhall fleet firing at those lighter ships, while also dumping missiles at heavier targets
- An all missile Vauxhall fleet staying away from the enemy and launching ordnance at anything that moves
- A torpedo Vauxhall fleet that charges, or lies in wait, and then ambushes high priority enemy targets. Bring extra antennas for this fleet in case your in-built antennas get destroyed.
There is…a…very strange fleet though you could bring with a Vauxhall and I’ve seen it only once and that’s because I’m the only person I know who does it, but I’ll get into it when I talk about perhaps the strangest ship in the game in that it can be accompanied with basically anything.
Axford – Heavy Cruiser
Note: I’m an Axford main and I play a variety of Axford fleet types so keep in mind that my advice here is going to be more detailed than any other section because I’m a bit biased toward this hull.
- Surprisingly Good Point Defense – Contrary to the lore description, the Axford can mount a lot of point defense turrets which give it a strong point defense field. When coupled with a VLS 23 launcher and one or two supporting ships an Axford can become all but invulnerable to missile barrages.
- Highly Variable – After the Vauxhall, the Axford has one of the most variable hulls in the game. It has three large weapon mountings enabling for a variety of weapons to be equipped. I’ve seen Axfords equipped with a beam turret, railguns, 450s, missile launchers, and even torpedoes. The Axford also has smaller mounts that allow the equipping of jammers, illuminators, and bullseyes and if you so please, 120 guns. Whatever your fancy, the Axford can be customized to suit your playstyle or preferred weapon. Additionally, while not as fast as a Vauxhall, the Axford can be equipped with triple drives, allowing it to dash across the map.
- Excellent Flagship – The Axford is the ideal flagship that leads a small group of support ships due to its higher durability, large weapon mounts, and most importantly, its two in-built antennas which makes it harder to communication jam, and allows it to get radar intel from other ships. It’s also just cheap enough so that you can add supporting warships to bolster the Axford.
- Requires a Supporting Fleet – The key problem with the Axford is that you require usually lighter supporting ships to use one effectively. It’s a capital ship that is awesome at bolstering a supporting fleet, but horrible when caught out alone as it’s not as durable as a Solomon, lacks the pure alpha damage as a Destroyer, and doesn’t have the manoeuvrability of a Vauxhall.
- Complicated – As an Axford is primarily a flagship of a flotilla, when designing an Axford, a player has to build it with its fleet in mind. Thus the variety available to an Axford user makes it difficult to build one. A supporting fleet not designed to support its Axford will usually lead to poor results and an Axford without its supporting fleet is dead meat.
- High Visibility – Axfords are big and while not as visible as a Solomon battleship, they have got a pretty large radar signature. Expect to be shot at. This is also why you need that supporting fleet.
Why should you bring an Axford?
When a player brings an Axford, they’re committing to building an Axford fleet, which is a small group of ships supporting a heavy ship. As to what they want, that’s up to the weapons you decide to build on the Axford and its supporting fleet. This is because in my opinion, an Axford is primarily a heavy ship that benefits best supporting smaller ships, and from being supported by smaller ships.
To go through the varieties of the different Axford fleets out there would take forever, I have spent hours designing and tweaking a series of flotillas that all perform differently but I will make a few comments on the common builds.
Dual Axfords – common build type where two Axfords are deployed with 450 cannons. They can be quite tanky and have good point defense, but suffer heavily to Ewar and a lack of intelligence due to the fact they have to be deployed together. This allows a single jammer frigate to completely blind the two Axfords. Use this build only when your team has adequate and coordinated scouting.
Dual Axfords + scout corvette – This somewhat uncommon build type rectifies the key problem with the Dual Axford with a single scout corvette. You wouldn’t think that this would make a large difference, but it really does as it counters the weakness of the lack of intelligence and scouting ability of the former. However, this build leads to both Axfords being VERY under-built and so often requires a Dual Axford + scout corvette player to have one ship be the Cannon Axford, and the other being an under-built Rail Axford.
Rail Axford with scouts– This common build features a single fully kitted out Railgun Axford with a very fast reload that relies on supporting Raines or Sprinter scouts to lock onto enemies, usually around three. It’s a very common and powerful build as it offers more scouting than a rail Solomon + scout build and a Rail Axford is much fast compared to a Solomon, enabling better firing angles.
Hybrid Axford with support ships– The actual armament and build of a hybrid Axford with support ships varies and can have a lot of variety. An example of such hybrid builds can include:
a. A missile-beam Axford with supporting frigates and/or destroyers
b. A beam-rail Axford with jammers and point defense.
Cannon Axford with support ships– The 450 cannons are a weapon that naturally gravitates to an Axford, as the weapons are cheaper on the power and point requirements, which enables more points to be devoted to point defense, supporting ships and manoeuvrability. The sheer variety of support ships that can accompany a cannon Axford are insane, and I almost exclusively specialize in this field. The builds I have run are:
a. Cannon Axford, Gun Frigate, Jammer Frigate, Point Defense Corvette, Scout Corvette with Bullseye
b. Cannon Axford, Beam Destroyer, Jammer Frigate, Scout Corvette with Bullseye
c. Cannon Axford, Gun Light Cruiser both with Jammers, Scout Corvette with Bullseye
Solomon – Battleship
- Biggest Guns – the Solomon can sport the largest numbers of Railguns, Beam Turrets, and 450 gun cannons of any chassis, which allows it to output a lot of firepower. This is a little less so for cannon 450 Solomons, but they can make up for it by adding missiles or using the extra points to add to the ship’s speed. Beam Solomons and in particular Rail Solomons are horrifyingly powerful in the right situation and with the right support.
- Can be Very Durable – the Solomon has a 40% Damage Reduction to its hull. That means the armor on ship, which covers every external pattern is protected. In effect, you cannot use 250 RPF to s*rip off radar panels on a Solomon and 120s would have absolutely no effect. In essence, don’t expect light ships such as Raines frigates to do any damage to a Solomon and Vauxhalls will need a lot of 250 AP shot at a Solomon to do any kind of meaningful damage. In addition, the Solomon has quite a lot of weapon mounts where Point Defense turrets can be mounted.
- Easier* to Micro – Due to the 3000 point limit in most multiplayer matches, the Solomon is often part of a two ship or three ship fleet that requires less micro-coordination. With only a single Solomon to coordinate, one can focus on angling the ship, positioning it properly and getting its weapons on target. I say this with a HUGE asterisk though because while a Solomon is easier to micro, there are a lot of cons to a Solomon.
- Not recommended for new players – I flat out do not recommend the Solomon for new players. While easier to micro, it has several significant cons that mean it’s a horrible choice for those getting into Nebulous Fleet Command.
- Expensive – The Solomon is the most expensive ship hull in the game at this point, and also requires the most components to kit out, which makes it a huge point investment. This means you can’t really spend a lot of ship points on critical scouting ships, or electronic warfare. It also means that the loss of one Solomon for a team is a loss of a lot of firepower and points.
- Highly Visible Priority Target – Because Solomons are so dangerous, they’re almost always priority targets for the enemy team. Whether Rail, Cannon or even Beam Solomons, people will focus the Solomon down with all their weapons. To make matters worse, a Solomon has such a large radar signature that not only are you going to be seen first before even seeing the scout that saw you, anti-missile Chaff decoys are not as effective. Yes, Solomons are so big the high-visibility Chaff supposed to confuse missiles doesn’t work as well. You literally need to manually (Shift + Z is hotkey) to deploy a huge Chaff cloud to confuse missiles targeted at a Solomon, or dedicate a lot of your smaller points to Point Defense turrets. If that wasn’t enough of a problem:
- Slow – The Solomon is a battleship, so it’s obviously going to be slow. The issue being that because it’s so slow, you have more difficulty getting to a place where you can shoot the enemy, you can’t escape from fire easily, and once you get into trouble, getting out is not as easy. It also means that a Solomon player has to plan their moves out in advance or be able to use the map very well. Unless you specifically build for speed in a Solomon, which will lead you to sacrificing other things such as point defense and damage potential. This leads to the biggest con of the Solomon which is:
- Unforgiving – The Solomon is hands-down the most unforgiving ship type in the game. It may be easier to micro, it may have the biggest guns, but it requires such a high degree of strategic skill and knowledge to employ that only the most skilled players can use it to greatest effect. And even for the most skilled players, their Solomon can be utterly destroyed if a pair of corvettes filled with torpedoes ambushes them in the wrong spot. I’m not even discussing in detail how hard it is to build a Solomon with all its component slots and modules. Moreover, unlike an Axford, you can’t even bring a support fleet to assist the Solomon, only maybe a single support frigate or a pair of scout corvettes.
So why bring a Solomon?
To bring a Solomon is to gamble. If you bring a Solomon you are gambling hard that you are the one to bring the most powerful ship frame in Nebulous Fleet Command and do insane amounts of damage. A well-employed Solomon supported by its team will rack up a ludicrous amount of damage, tank hundreds of hits, and utterly devastate an enemy fleet. Even a moderately well-employed Solomon with its scout frigate or corvettes can land hit after hit of Railgun, Beams, or Cannons, ripping apart enemy Axford cruisers, which no matter their variety, must treat Solomons with great care.
On the flipside of the coin, if a player brings a Solomon, they also run the risk of being the target of an ambush, focused down, blinded by Ewar, missile-barraged to death, and utterly destroyed before they can even get 10K damage. I have seen so many Solomons who barely break 3k in damage done. This is because everybody knows how dangerous you are, and if they can see you, which they have a good chance of because of your huge radar signature, they will shoot at you.
This is also whyRail Solomons with Scouts is one of the most common and usually most effective build in this version of Nebulous, at least in 3k battles. These builds use the Solomon hull’s strength, its ability to have a lot of heavy railguns, and have them stay out of sight by employing the Railguns massive range. Of course, if a player’s Rail Solomon is found, then they’ll get focused down by Railguns or Missile-barraged.
The Gun Solomon with Scouts or Jammer ship is also common and on the surface, it has some benefits. By virtue of the only Solomon able to use quadruple drives, it is more manoeuvrable and flexible than a Rail Solomon. However, it suffers from the fact that it does the least amount of damage compared to all the other Solomon builds and it also still the priority target due to its visibility.
The Beam Solomon with Scouts or Jammer ship is another common build, sacrificing range for an insane amount of close range firepower. Battleshorting is commonly used in these builds to fire the beams of this ship at close range, and most fleets will die when encountering a Beam Solomon at close range. The problem with this build however is that get caught in the open, or even seen charging to make your attack, and you will get shredded and focused down.
Hybrid Solomons, usually beam-rail Solomon builds are also employed frequently in Nebulous, but they tend to be quite situational. This is because if you are found as a Railgun Solomon… you’re not really doing your job as rail artillery very well. Sacrificing that extra rail gun might not be the best idea, but having a close in beam available can also be useful against a corvette swarm.
Make sure to always bring a scout ship or jammer ship when bringing Solomon. It already lacks the manoeuvrability, Electronic Warfare to gain intelligence, you do not want to blind yourself by having no scout ship.
That’s all for Part 1 of this guide. Part 2, Fleet Roles is still in progress. Leave a comment if you think I’m wrong, or if you think I’m right. This game is very deep and things might change in the future.
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