AI War:Starships

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Starships are large centerpieces that you can build your fleet around. A single starship has vastly more health and damage dealing potential than a single fleet ship. Most Starships have extra abilities to boost your fleet or increase your strategic options.

Most Starships are available to both Humans and AI players, but some are reserved to one or the other.

For human players, they are built at a Starship Constructor, they use a dedicated intragalactic warpgate and they need a captured Advanced Starship Constructor to be built up to MkIV (provided the MkIII has been unlocked with Knowledge). Their ship cap is usually 2 per mark (some have 1 and some have up to 5).

Overall Strategy

Players start with only 4 fleet ships (3 basic and 1 bonus, unless the bonus is a starship) but with 10 starships (not counting the fleet and starship scouts). Also, many starships have rare perks and offer many strategic options to either deal with nasty things found in AI territory or support a fleet. Dedicated starship's pages detail their strengths and uses, but overall starter starships can be seen as a large toolbox.

Regular

These starships are available from the beginning of each game for both AI and Humans. (Some just require a bit of Knowledge to unlock their MkI.)

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Flagship
Boosts the strength of nearby ships, and is a respectable combatant in its own right.
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Heavy Bomber Starship
Very fast starship that inflicts very high damage on any one target at close range. Great against anything with high health.
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Leech Starship
Fires fairly powerful shots that do reclamation damage (more to targets of a lower mark, and vice versa). An enemy ship with reclamation damage equal to or greater than half its max health will be reclaimed when destroyed. The newly-reclaimed ship will have health = total reclamation damage it had taken.
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Plasma Siege Starship
This starship is basically built around a large plasma siege cannon. It is excellent against starships, guard posts, guardians, fortresses, forcefields, most turrets, and other large ships like golems or spirecraft. When the plasma projectile explodes, it also damages several nearby units for reduced damage.
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Raid Starship
Small, lightning-fast starship with powerful lasers. Excellent for long-range raiding. Can pass/shoot through force fields, and is exceptional at destroying ships with a high armor rating.
This starship has minor differences between its Human and its AI versions.
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Riot Control Starship
Specializes in disabling and destroying large numbers of weaker disturbances to the peace. Has several points that mount a number of different weapons and modules.
This starship is only used in the Special Forces by the AI.
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Spire Starship
A formidable combat starship built using technology based on alien artifacts discovered years ago. Mounts a single photon lance (sustained fire beam weapon).
The MkI version costs some Knowledge.
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Zenith Starship
A powerful combat starship reverse-engineered from scavenged Zenith technology. Mounts many medium-range missile launchers.
The MkI version costs some Knowledge.

Human Reserved

These starships are available from start to all Human players but are never used by the AI. They have no available MkV versions as the AI has no Core Starship Fabricators of them.

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Cloaker Starship
Starship that cloaks some other ships near it, even if those ships normally do not have cloaking. Also provides counter-sniper and counter-dark-matter protection to all ships near it.
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Neinzul Enclave Starship
Periodically while enemies are present, this ship produces a group of special short-lived "drone" attack ships.
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Scout Starship
No combat value, but is cloaked, emits tachyon beams, provides counter-sniper coverage, and acts as a scout.

Locked

These starships aren't available from start. They can be selected as first bonus ship in the lobby, unlocked by AIs at start or as AIP increases, and sometimes hacked for.

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Lightning Starship
A starship-class unit built around an enormous generator that fires electric bolts into up to 200 nearby enemy ships. Can concentrate full power against any group (of eligible targets) larger than 40. Against groups smaller than 40, some of the power is wasted.
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Neinzul Combat Carrier
While enemies are present, this ship periodically produces a group of special short-lived "drone" attack ships. Rather than the Enclave Starship's Needler, Laser, MLRS, and Missle drones, the Combat Carrier produces Beam, Rail, Spider, and Grav drones.
The AI never uses this starship, despite having Core Starship Fabricators of it.
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Protector Starship
Small Starship-class modular vessel designed to defend other ships via passive and active defense systems.
The AI never uses this starship, despite having Core Starship Fabricators of it.
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Spire Corvette
A starship-sized vessel developed by retrofitting the smallest Imperial Spire combat design with human technology. Has a moderately powerful photon lance, but can also mount a small number of modules.
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Translocator Starship
A starship-class unit equipped with multiple medium-ranged railguns that displace targets further away.
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Zenith Devastator
A powerful starship designed by the Zenith during their ancient wars against the Spire (who heavily rely on shields). Its shots completely ignore forcefields (though the devastator itself does not ignore forcefields). Cannot target small ships.

Experimental

These starships are rare and can only be available to Human players through hacking. From a lore standpoint, they are considered AI's new designs that humans can steal; from a technical standpoint, they are considered mostly harmful for the game's balance and only rarely available (and always in mid-late game). The AI itself only rarely use them. Only their MkV versions are available.

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Beam Starship
Fires very powerful high-range beam weapons that strike up to 9 enemy ships in a line.
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Warbird Starship
Extremely fast starship with cloaking and a huge multi-targeting energy burst system. Great for clearing out hordes of enemy ships.

Starshipness

There are many units in the game that are considered "starships" by the rules but that Humans can never control. Guardians are equivalent in size (and mostly in power) but have a special role, the Hunter/Killer is an immensely powerful AI-only starship-like and used only in specific cases, the Core Starship isn't available to Human players despite being called Starship, etc.

Several effects affect only starships or only fleet ships (some big guns can only target starships, some swallowers only swallow one or the other, etc), and the game lacks a clear "size" rating, but the rule of thumb often works: if it's big and there is few, it's probably considered more or less "starship" (or bigger).