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Starsector Skills

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Aug 10th, 2019
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  1. The officially unofficial tier list of skills for Starsector 0.9, before they're streamlined out of existence.
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  3. Value of a skill is based on how much/how often it comes into play. The more situational or fringe it is, the less valuable I consider it. I also consider "Lose Less" skills to be inherently less valuable since they're only there to bail you out when you fuck up. Balance assumed to be vanilla.
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  5. The analysis of these skills are my subjective opinions, which are objectively better than anyone elses.
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  7. COMBAT
  8. Much the same as what the old list already states; tons of 1 point wonders and only something you spec heavily into if you really know or really don't know what you're doing. ESPECIALLY since a good chunk of the trees have highly situational second level skills. I PERSONALLY preferr to dump my points into other trees and let my pilots get all of these, but then I haven't done any runs focused around combat and bounty hunting, either.
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  12. COMBAT ENDURANCE
  13. 1 - Always online but doesn't get used often outside of long, drawn-out slugfests where neither side can strike a decisive victory. Overall decent, but becomes mandatory on any overdriven ships since it lets them fight much longer before they start losing CR.
  14. 2 - Incredibly situational RNG softener that gets you reamed less when super low on CR. Comes in useful only when you're on your last legs due to fighting too long, getting jumped multiple times in a row or using cheese tactics, in which case you don't need this list. Overall bad.
  15. 3 - Fantastic. CR boosts practically every stat, and is doubly useful for overdriven pilots since it lets them operate nominally for so much longer before they have to withdraw. Overall amazing.
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  17. MISSILE SPECIALIZATION
  18. 1 - Generally useful and surprisingly good with long range missiles that want to run circles around the enemy like the Salamander or short range missiles that just want to line up perfectly before blowing like the Sabot. Also gives you a free mod, but in this version those can be found or bought pretty ubiquitously. Overall good, but obviously this and the following skills are useless on ships that don't use missiles, and become dead weight while you're out of ammo or reloading.
  19. 2 - Situationally useful. The increased health obviously allows you to squeak more munitions past PD and into shields/hull, but that shouldn't be necessary if you're properly using your fighters, frigates and active flare launchers to soak up PD, or placing your bombs in the path of already moving ships so they can't maneuver out of the way - like you SHOULD be doing. Also doesn't help if you blow your load on flares. Another free mod on top of it all. Overall okay.
  20. 3 - A straight numbers buff to damage dealt. Always useful, always online, only way to fuck it up is to miss. Overall good, but becomes mandatory on any ship with majority missiles as their weaponry.
  21. (Note that 1 and 3 only state they improve on missiles, while 2 specifies "missiles, rockets, bombs and torpedoes" - keep this in mind when deciding what to skill, as a 1-drop into this would be a wasted point if the ship's running reapers. I honestly don't know whether mines count as bombs or not.)
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  23. ORDNANCE EXPERTISE
  24. 1 - Straight numbers buff that's generally useful. Fantastic on offensive and defensive ships alike since it helps with both leading your shots on enemies and PD dumping munitions into incoming rockets. Note that beam weapons obviously aren't affected. Overall great.
  25. 2 - Another straight numbers buff that's always online, this one to health. Not much to say. Overall okay, but becomes much, MUCH more valuable when used on a ship that lacks any shields, since they have to either rely on allies to soak up fire, tank/dodge hits themselves, or overwhelm the enemy before they can return fire.
  26. 3 - Starting to see a pattern here? Straight numb- Holy FUCK, a buff to ALL WEAPON DAMAGE? Works on every weapon on your ship and stacks with missile specialization 3, but doesn't affect fighters. Overall the best skill in the entire aptitude, simply because it's impossible to fuck up. EVEN THEN, it's much less useful on carriers since it doesn't help fighters, and useless on support carriers that don't join the fight. Also less useful on low damage, high rate of fire weapons due to rounding on damage numbers.
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  28. TARGET ANALYSIS
  29. 1 - A good buff to damage that's generally useful - You have to be past shields and be actively hitting hull for this to come into effect, unless you're using a weapon that skirts around or hits through shields, not to mention when fighting stuff without shields. Drop a point on this and marvel at how useful your salamanders and energy lances suddenly become. Overall good.
  30. 2 - Another damage buff complimentary to the former that's also generally useful - obviously this does nothing if the enemy doesn't HAVE a shield to hit, but straight damage is straight damage. Overall good.
  31. 3 - Surprisingly useful skill that's only actually active in that little window where you've gotten past the shields but still have to tear down the enemy armour values. Makes you absolutely SHRED armour with chainguns and beam weapons. Overall usefulness varies - the stronger the enemy, the better this is. Probably one of the best lategame skills.
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  33. DAMAGE CONTROL
  34. 1 - Takes the better halves each from Reinforced Bulkheads and Blast Doors and balls it up into a single skill. Overall bad - while both of these traits are useful, there are better and cheaper ways to get them.
  35. 2 - Lots of parts to this. the in-combat weapon and engine repairs are, much like TARGET ANALYSIS' buffs to health, situationally useful with much more use on shield-less ships. The automatic post-combat repairs are good, but are also only really that useful on a shield-less ship or if you're doing so much fighting that each combat leaves your ship ragged and reeling. Also gives you a free mod. Overall good, but highly situational.
  36. 3 - HUGE damage reduction to hull and a reduction to overload duration. Only actually comes into play when you're getting overhwelmed, trading blow for blow or actively losing. Overall bad, but can be very useful on ships with shit/no shields and/or ridiculous amounts of hull. Slap this on your Prometheus and never lose it when fleeing a pirate fleet.
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  38. IMPACT MITIGATION
  39. Honestly this entire tree can be summed up as "Bad, unless used with a ship with shit/no shields in which case it's basically mandatory." #3 notably gives you a mod, if you're into that.
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  41. DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS
  42. Is to high-tech ships what IMPACT MITIGATION is to low-tech ships. The writer of the last list suggested keeping these mutually exclusive on your pilots and I can't help but to agree, unless it's a ship with phase cloak.
  43. 1 - straight numbers buff that lets you keep shields up or stay cloaked for longer durations or while taking heavier fire. Also gives a mod. Can push energy consumption low enough that you can autofire with shields up and not build soft flux. Overall good, but better the better your cloak or shields are. Obviously this and the following skills are useless on ships without shield/cloak.
  44. 2 - basically gives you innate hardened shields that stack with hardened shields, or a huge chunk of cooldown reduction on your phasing. A fantastic skill for any for high-tech pilots. Overall great.
  45. 3 - Absolutely amazing for shields, slightly less amazing for cloakers. Gives you the best shield mod out there when you get it, too. Overall fantastic, though the shield buff is MUCH more powerful than the cloak buff. Whether you want this on a cloaker is down to personal preference.
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  47. ADVANCED COUNTERMEASURES
  48. 1 - A situationally useful skill that rewards strategic play and quick reactions, letting you bait enemies into wasting kinetic fire on split second shields and tanking it with your hull - probably better to slot on an AI pilot that knows what it's doing, eh? Overall okay, extra useful on shieldless ships.
  49. 2 - Same thing as the former skill, allows you to tank missiles with shields even better and rewarding play that baits the opponent into a bad move while being more ubiquitously useful. Overall good, but better the better your shields are, and obviously useless on shieldless ships.
  50. 3 - Straight damage upgrade against missiles and fighters, which is fantastic since spamming carriers and missiles is as close to meta as you can get in this game. Assuming the wording works like Missile Specialization you still have to look out for bombs, mines and torpedoes. Overall usefulness scales with how much point defense you're running, extra credit for running Point Defense AI.
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  52. EVASIVE ACTION
  53. 1 - One of the best 1-drops in the entire aptitude, lets your frigates strafe circles around slower ships and makes it so your big ships can actually turn around. Overall fantastic.
  54. 2 - Decent health buff that like any other weapons/engine buff shines more on ships that have to tank hits. Overall good, incredibly useful on shieldless clunkers.
  55. 3 - FIFTY PERCENT armor buff for damage reduction calculation. That's disgusting. Overall great, and usefulness scales higher and higher the more armour the ship has. Another skill that truly shines on shieldless ships. Overall great.
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  57. HELMSMANSHIP
  58. 1 - Another amazing 1-drop, useful on huge, slow destroyers and frigates that do a lot of dodging around alike. Overall great.
  59. 2 - Makes you go faster. Gets better the faster the ship is. Overall great, but kind of wasted on slow ships.
  60. 3 - Lets you zip around at top speed while your shields are up but not being hit, while you're firing weapons with a flux cost below dissipation rate and while your fighters aren't resupplying. Useful in a ton of different situations on basically any ship. Overall fantastic.
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  64. LEADERSHIP
  65. Mix of fleet-wide buffs of varying usefulness with a distinct bent towards carriers, as well as a mixture of utility skills that mainly shine out of combat or with colonization. Rewards heavy investment and specialization way more than COMBAT. PERSONALLY my favorite aptitude of the bunch.
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  69. COMMAND & CONTROL
  70. 1 & 2 - Purely based around Command Points, a mechanic that a player can make multiple playthroughs without ever touching. Usefulness completely depends on personal preference and playstyle, ranging between no use whatsoever and mandatory to your strategy. Personally I drop a single point here occasionally since I tend to use command points a lot, but do so in swathes of orders that don't require the point regeneration of #2
  71. 3 - An odd way to cap off the tree, something that's only tangentially related to Command Points. It's only useful if you've built your playstyle around it and 3 points for another 5% is a pretty steep cost. Overall bad unless built around, in which case I'd only consider it okay.
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  73. OFFICER MANAGEMENT
  74. Entire tree is simply more officers, capping off at more than twice as many. Once again completely dependant on a users playstyle and like the previous list mentioned, becomes less and less useful the smaller battles your computer can handle. An entire fleet of level 20 officers is a terrifying sight to behold, though.
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  76. FLEET LOGISTICS
  77. 1 - It's the good half of DAMAGE CONTROL, except it applies to every single piloted ship. Also buffs your governed colonies. ALSO gives you a free mod. Overall good, but becomes even better the more points you drop into OFFICER MANAGEMENT and/or COLONY MANAGEMENT plus how many colonies you own.
  78. 2 - Makes every ship you own cheaper, all the time, without any need for further engagement. Another colony buff is the icing on the cake. Overall fantastic, but mileage may vary. The supply part is free money and that's fantastic, but at some point you'll become so rich it doesn't matter if your profit margins grow a little wider. The colony part is the same as ever.
  79. 3 - The reason you take this tree in the first place. The combat readiness of COMBAT ENDURANCE 3 but to every single ship in your fleet. Also makes your colony patrols huge, increasing security and profits in the system. Overall fantastic.
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  81. COORDINATED MANEUVERS
  82. 1 - HELMSMANSHIP 2 but to every single ship in your fleet, assuming you field enough of them. One of those 1-drops you literally can't go wrong with. Overall fantastic.
  83. 2 & 3 - A teeny tiny increase in top percentages for two character points. Overall usefulness varies between playstyles, but I personally don't consider it worth it at all.
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  85. FIGHTER DOCTRINE
  86. 1 - Basically becomes more and more useful the bigger the battle and the more fighters you lose. Crew tends to be cheap and easy to come by though, especially if you're carrying a surplus in troop carriers for ground operations or surveying. It gives you a free mod, but it does the same thing as the skill. Overall okay.
  87. 2 - A very useful skill that gives a decent buff to all your fighters, letting them stay in the thick of it for much longer and hog PD longer so your bombers can do their work, not to mention a mod that gives you more carriers on top of that. Overall great.
  88. 3 - Another very useful skill since it basically just gives you more fighters. Much like #1 it becomes more useful the bigger and more dangerous the ongoing fight is. Overall great.
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  90. CARRIER COMMAND
  91. Does the exact same thing as FIGHTER DOCTRINE so go read that entry. Since it's a personal pilot skill it's stronger and stacks with the bonuses from FIGHTER DOCTRINE. Doesn't give any mods, though.
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  93. WING COMMANDER
  94. 1 - Incredibly useful skill for all carriers, no matter their fighter type. Probably the best 1-drop there is for a carrier pilot. Overall fantastic.
  95. 2 - Slightly less useful since it basically only applies to interceptors and fighters, but it's still a straight numbers buff that makes them better at everything they do. Overall great.
  96. 3 - Generally useful since your fighters need to actually hit the missiles to stop them, and is surprisingly useful on bombers with dumb-fire torpedoes. Overall great, but useless on certain fighters that don't need to lead with their weaponry (guided missiles, beams, etc.)
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  98. STRIKE COMMANDER
  99. 1 & 2 - MISSILE SPECIALIZATION but for your bombers, so go read that entry. #1 still only applies to missiles and not bombers.
  100. 3 - More like ORDNANCE SPECIALIZATION 3 since it's a 20% increase to ALL damage, but only when hitting large ships, so it doesn't apply to smaller ships, fighters, missiles, etc. I don't know whether the bonus damage applies to stations. Overall great, but useless if you're not using this to fight Destroyers.
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  102. PLANETARY OPERATIONS
  103. 1 & 2 - Suddenly, skills that have nothing to do with carriers. The first two skills in the tree are just number buffs to ground operations (raiding, bombing, etc.) and buffs to defenses AGAINST ground operations carried out against colonies you govern by enemies. You can achieve the same effect by investing into more marines/defenses. Overall usefulness varies, but for most players this will likely be useless.
  104. 3 - The redeeming feature of the tree - a straight number buff that improves everything about your colonies. Overall good, but becomes more useful with points in COLONY MANAGEMENT.
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  108. TECHNOLOGY
  109. Big-ass grab-bag of stuff that varies extremely widely in what it does. Combat skills, out of combat skills, navigational skills, etc. Another tree that rewards heavy specialization much more than dropping 1 point here and there, and probably the only tree considered "mandatory" to max by a majority players due to certain skills in it. A close second behind LEADERSHIP for my favorite aptitude.
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  113. GUNNERY IMPLANTS
  114. 1 - Useful but situational skill. Only really good for super fast firing weaponry with terrible accuracy, especially ballistic point defense. Does jack shit to missiles, beams, or anything with a slow rate of fire. Overall okay.
  115. 2 - Similarly to the first one, a highly useful skill that only really helps ballistic point defence with a massive kick. There are ship mods that do the same thing, too. Overall okay.
  116. 3 - Straight numbers upgrade for all weapons but missiles. Overall fantastic.
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  118. POWER GRID MODULATION
  119. 1 - Universally useful on everything. Overall fantastic.
  120. 2 - Situationally useful, but a big numbers buff. Does nothing for overdriven ships. Overall good.
  121. 3 - Another number boost that's good on literally everything. Overall fantastic.
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  123. ELECTRONIC WARFARE
  124. A slightly different flavour of COORDINATED MANEUVERS. Gives a slightly weaker GUNNERY IMPLANTS 3 to your entire fleet, assuming you field enough ships for the bonus. Just like COORDINATED MANEUVERS it's an amazing 1-drop and the level 2-3 grants a higher bonus which is generally only for niche playstyles.
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  126. LOADOUT DESIGN
  127. 1 & 2 - Useful for specific ship builds when you want to meme with overdrive or slap every shield mod on something that literally can't die. Overall great.
  128. 3 - It's bullshit. Lets you slot bigger guns, more mods, and more vents/capacitors on your combat ships while also letting you slot utility mods on utility vehicles to increase base burn or carrying capacity. OBJECTIVELY the best combat AND utility skill in the game. Most people will tell you it's mandatory, and more than half of players probably take TECH 3 just for this. Overall fantastic.
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  130. SENSORS
  131. 1 - Gives you nothing but an active ability that takes resources to use and that gives false readings half the time. Comes in clutch when you're looking for a derelict or survey vessel in the far reaches of a system that has nothing but a star, but isn't good for much else. Overall bad, but has its uses.
  132. 2 - Big numbers buff in general and to an active ability. Can push your Sensor profile into single digits with a specialized fleet, and easily gets you to double digits with a medium-sized one. Overall fantastic for smugglers who want to hit up a hegemony market without transponders and scavengers who are too slow to outrun [REDACTED], pirates or hostile scavengers, but useless to anyone else.
  133. 3 - Another number buff but this time to detection range, also lets you move around while scanning shit. Another godsend when looking for stuff in far reaches of a system, and coupled with #2 generally lets you see a threat before it sees you. Overall great, since its usefulness is more ubiquitous.
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  135. NAVIGATION
  136. 1 - Lets you go through debris, nebulae, deep space storms, etc. faster. Pure utility that speeds the game up a bit. Overall okay.
  137. 2 - Straight numbers buff that makes everything you do outside of systems cheaper. The FLEET LOGISTICS of the TECH tree but without the added colony buff. Usefulness is similar in that it's amazing earlygame but peters off when you could afford to buy a stations fuel supply fifty times over with your monthly salary.
  138. 3 - Useful at pretty much all times, and lets you hit that 20 slow burn with a 9 burn ship. That means you can slap Militarized Subsystems and Augmented Hyper Drive on your 6 speed tankers and freighters and still travel around at max speed outside of space storms without the need for an army of Oxen. Overall fantastic, and another quality of life skill that most people will sink their points into since they get TECH 3 for LOADOUT DESIGN anyways.
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  142. INDUSTRY
  143. Pretty much completely revamped from the previous version with the exception of a few skills, much like next version will axe the entirety of this skill system. Still has to do with surveying and Scavenging, but now has a colony bent since colonies have been introduced. The aptitude that I have the least experience with, partially due to the rework.
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  147. SAFETY PROCEDURES
  148. 1 - Less crew lost when you lose crew. Crew is cheap and easy enough to get that it isn't as big a deal as fuel or supplies. Overall okay.
  149. 2 - Highly situational effects. Only really useful if you're trying to stall out CR in a Corona or using a specialized safety override fleet, and if you're doing that you're probably cheesing and don't need to read this list. Also gives that mod for crybabies who can't handle Space Storms. Overall Okay.
  150. 3 - Two-part combo with one alright and one fantastic effect. The first part lets you run a scrap armada and the second part lets you chase down or flee enemies without worrying about lost CR and repair costs. Overall great, and becomes more useful the more damaged pieces of shit you field.
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  152. RECOVERY OPERATIONS
  153. One of the two "More free shit for playing the game" trees of this aptitude, with usefulness varying wildly depending on playstyle. Better to use the more dangerous your enemies are, since you can take their ships and their weapons for your own. Note that #3 is a general modifier that applies to ALL scavenging where you can get fuel, not just post-combat rummaging. Suffers from the same issue as any other "more resources" skill since it does nothing once you're in the lategame and have everything you want.
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  155. FIELD REPAIRS
  156. 1 - MASSIVE cost reduction in supplies for scavenging ships, and is useful as long as you're actively scavenging ships. Overall okay.
  157. 2 - Saves a little bit of Supplies, and lets you fight more battles in a row with less losses. Overall okay.
  158. 3 - Two-parter with varying usefulness. The repair improvement doesn't make repairs cheaper, and thus is only really useful when doing a lot of consecutive skirmishes such as when hunting a specific faction or trying to stop a raid. The second part is a HUGE cost reduction and coupled with RECOVERY OPERATIONS makes for dirt cheap armadas of ships about to fall apart. Overall okay, only really useful for gimmick runs and early game.
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  160. SALVAGING
  161. The second "More free shit" tree. This one is hilariously powerful and if you max it first by levelling up in the starting system and then checking all the core ruins you can easily get your hands on AI cores, nanoforges and synchotrons before ever leaving the core. As usual it falls off when you have all the shit you need, but can you really ever have enough Omega cores and pristine forges?
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  163. COLONY MANAGEMENT
  164. OFFICER MANAGEMENT but for colonies. Completely situational and dependant on playstyle if you want it. Usefulness scales with how many other colony-boosting skills you have, such as FLEET LOGISTICS, PLANETARY OPERATIONS, etc.
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  166. INDUSTRIAL PLANNING
  167. 1 - straight number improvement that reduces cost of all colony upkeep. "Free shit", lategame, etc. Overall great.
  168. 2 - Gives you the same production bonus as a decent AI core, but to everything. More useful the more colonies and industries you have. Overall fantastic.
  169. 3 - Another straight number improvement, this time to income instead. Rules and Regulatons apply. Overall great.
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  173. And remember, everything is subjective, even the worst stuff here still has its uses, and if you unironically adhere to "tierlists" or "meta" without experimentation or your own ideas you're a fucking sheep.
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