Let’s face the facts, one of the coolest things you get to do in Stellaris is create your own custom ships and wage war against an opponent. This begs the question, what is the best ship design in Stellaris?
When it comes to creating ships, the Stellaris community can often disagree on what is the best ship design. One thing everyone agrees on is that bespoke ships designed to counter your opponent’s strengths are always the best choice.
Redesigning and retrofitting vast fleets can be a micromanagement nightmare. For some people, this is heaven. For others, myself included, we need a simpler, less busy approach to creating the best ship designs.
Recommended Read: How to Increase Starbase Capacity in Stellaris
The approach is simple yet effective. Create a jack-of-all-trades ship that is effective against almost any ship design. This way, you can set your ship designs and rely on them for most of the game. This guide will cover these versatile ship designs for all classes of ships.
The best ship designs in Stellaris are ones that are bespoke and made to counter your opponent. This does come with a vast amount of tedious micromanagement. To avoid this, the best design then becomes the multi-talented ships that can carry their own against most ship combos.
Table of Contents
- Best Ship Designs in Stellaris
- Ship Design Tips
Best Ship Designs in Stellaris
When it comes to building the best ship designs in Stellaris, there are a few things you should know first.
First off, there is a best design for every class of ship. There are 6 classes of military ship in Stellaris. In size order these are: Corvette, Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, Battleship, and Titan.
Each class of ship comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Corvettes are fast, while Titans have huge weapons that can obliterate ships in a single blow.
If you are new to the game, ship design can seem like a complicated and daunting process. While it may be tempting to let the game create ship designs for you and forget about it, I would discourage this decision.
The auto-generated ship designs are very poor and will leave you with weak fleets. Instead, I encourage you to take time, and get to know the ship design system.
Pause the game, create a few different designs for each, and read the in-game tooltips. Creating ships, when you have a basic grasp of the ship design system, can be an engaging and fun activity all on its own.
When you understand the ship design process, this will unlock the superpower of creating the true best ships. That being bespoke fleets, that counter your enemy. This is a vital skill if you hope to have any chance against the end-game crisis.
With that in mind, the next sections of this guide will cover some ship designs that have a high power level, regardless of the opponent.
These designs will serve you well when you do not want to change your ships for every new war you get into.
Best Corvette Ship Design
Corvettes, they’re small, fast, cheap, and their build time is very short. People often assume corvettes are useless, but in the right hands, they can be a very powerful weapon indeed.
Their strength comes from their evasion potential, making them almost impossible to hit by larger ships and Starbases. This makes them great for hit-and-run style offensive maneuvers.
Their weakness lies in their low hit points, low damage output, and they are easy to counter with Destroyer ships.
This build keeps a fast attack in mind. Its purpose is to empower a large swarm of corvettes to get behind enemy lines, and make precision strikes. While they do this, your larger ships are used to engage your opponent’s fleets.
With your enemies’ main forces engaged, the corvettes can cause havoc to any systems cross.
This will speed up your path to victory. If they attract the attention of your foe’s fleets, they are fast enough to get away.
Corvettes only have one section, making them easy to design, and this build very simple. It uses one interceptor section outfitted with two missiles and one phase disruptor weapon.
For defenses, you want two armor pieces and one shield fitted. As for the sole component slot, it is, of course, afterburners. These will improve your speed and evasion chance.
Last choice is the combat computer. This is also an easy choice. Set your combat computer to swarm, further improving evasion and your fire rate.
Upgrade your components as the game goes on, and you should find that your corvette fleets lead your enemy on a merry game of cat and mouse.
Best Frigate Ship Design
Frigates, for the most part, are a lot like corvettes. They have only one section, excel in swarms, and are very cheap.
You may wonder why corvettes and frigates are two separate ship classes. From what I can gather, it is for balancing reasons.
Frigates are slower and have less evasion than baseline corvettes. This makes their efficacy in hit-and-run fights worse.
The build itself is simple and mirrors a lot of the aspects of the corvette build. If you wish, you can sprinkle a few of these into the corvette fleet I recommended in that build.
There is only one section choice for frigates, and that is the torpedo boat section. For the small weapon slot, you want a missile weapon.
For the torpedo slot, add a torpedo not a launcher, as they use up too much power.
Ship computer will be set to swarm stance. The utility slot is, of course, going to be afterburners again, as we want these frigates to be as fast as possible.
Defenses are interesting as you get one extra slot compared to the corvette. Most of the time, I would recommend an even split of shields and armor. That is not possible with a frigate unless we don’t take afterburners.
We don’t want to do this, as most of a frigate’s defense comes from its evasion potential, not its shields. Instead, take three armor pieces and one shield piece for defenses. This should keep you under the power limit.
I would recommend choosing corvettes over frigates in most situations. Corvettes have more evasion and are much more effective in their role as a fast attack guerilla fighter.
Best Destroyer Ship Design
Destroyers have struggled within the meta for a long time in Stellaris. They are too squishy to be front-line fighters and don’t hit hard enough to stand up to larger craft.
Unlike cruisers and corvettes, which can carry an empire. The best destroyer ship designs come from them carrying out a supplementary role.
Destroyers do have one powerful capability in their arsenal. They are the bane of corvette spam empires.
This build is a support ship to your larger ships, which can struggle against those ankle-biter corvettes.
Destroyers make up of two sections. In the front section, install a gunship with whirlwind missiles on the M slot. The S slots want one laser weapon and one autocannon.
The missiles are for enemy destroyers, and the smaller weapons are for making quick work of corvettes.
The rear section wants to be an interceptor section, which comes with two more S-slot weapons. We want S-size weapons because of their tracking and accuracy potential. This renders corvette evasion bonuses worthless.
Add one autocannon and one laser weapon to the interceptor section.
Defenses want to be an even mix of shields and armor. Set the ship computer to picket. This will have them race ahead and meet the incoming corvettes.
With any luck, this will destroy them before they can reach your larger ships.
As for utility, accuracy is all we care about when battling corvettes. So install two Auxiliary Fire Control pieces.
Don’t make full fleets designed around destroyers. To be honest, avoid building these if you can. Only deploy them if the empire you are facing is using a lot of corvettes.
Best Cruiser Ship Design
Cruiser has carved itself out an almost permanent spot in the Stellaris meta at the moment. Against The Unbidden end-game crisis, the ship in this build is a literal cheat code.
Whilst being the bane of an end-game crisis faction is a great strength, the power this build brings against other empires is phenomenal.
Running full fleets composed only of this build is a viable tactic and one I have found success with when I am feeling lazy.
The build I am talking about is the missile cruiser. Cruisers have three sections, and you take only broadside sections in all three slots. Then fill all your weapon slots with whirlwind missiles. What could be easier than that?
Don’t mistake simplicity for weakness. This ship can go toe to toe with almost anything, and even if it loses, your opponent will have a bloody nose.
Defenses, you probably know by now, are an equal mix of shields and armor. Ship computer wants to be set to line for the increased fire rate. Utility slots are not too important here, but I advise a shield capacitor and an afterburner.
While powerful, this ship is far from invincible. Against AI opponents, this build will punish them hard. If you are playing PVP, your opponents are less likely to fall prey to a single-ship design spam.
This build is a feature of my best fleet composition guide. You should check that guide out as well. It contains a lot of other ship builds, which synergize with the best ship designs highlighted in this guide.
Best Battleship Design
Battleships are the workhorses of any end-game empire’s military. Huge fleets of battleships throwing massive lasers at each other until one side is no more is a common sight.
These bad boys have three sections, like the cruiser. Where it differs is the vast amount of choices the battleship has. This is the battleship’s greatest strength. It can fulfill any battlefield role.
When paired up with Titans and good support craft around them, battleships will rain death upon your enemies.
The build I have made is a front-line ship that can take a lot of punishment but dish it out too. It will be able to fire from the moment the engagement begins until the very last shot.
The three sections you need for this build are a Spinal Mount Bow in the front and two broadsides in the middle and rear.
The spinal mount is unique to the battleship and allows it to take extra large weapons. Install a focussed arc emitter on it. It fires slow and doesn’t do as much damage as the other weapons. But it has 100 percent accuracy and ignores shields and armor.
This leaves you with two large slots and four medium weapon slots to fill. In the large sections, add one laser and one autocannon. In all the medium slots, add four phase disruptors.
Defenses, equal mix of shields and armor. Utility is one afterburner, one shield capacitor, and one auxiliary fire control. Targeting computer should be set to line.
Designing battleships is some of the best fun to be had in Stellaris. When you get this far, feel free to experiment and see what cool combos you can make.
Best Titan Ship Design
The final ship to discuss is the Titan. Unlike their younger sibling, the battleship, which is hyper customizable. The Titan has no variation in what sections you can install onboard.
All three sections are special titan sections, meaning you can only take large weaponry to fight with. This does not render the titan useless, and it has another trick up its sleeve. It brings auras to the battle.
Auras can be offensive, which debuffs enemy fleets. Or defensive, which buff friendly fleets. The bow of titan ships comes with a special titan weapon, too, called the predition beam.
You have to take it. It is a beast of a weapon that can one-shot battleships if it hits, so you want it.
The Titan core and stern come with six large weapon slots to fill. Take an equal mix of gauss cannons and laser weaponry. This will allow your titan to stay at range and away from the danger.
Combat computer should be set to artillery. This improves weapons range, further minimizing the risk of getting caught in the trenches. Defenses should be an equal mix of shields and armor.
Lastly, only take auxiliary fire control sections for your three utility slots. This improves your titan’s chance to hit, and the better chances your predition beam has of hitting, the better.
As for the aura, I like the inspiring presence of the increased fire rate. But I would encourage you to experiment here and find a favorite of your own because they are all good.
Ship Design Tips
These are all the builds that I consider to be the best for a lot of situations in Stellaris. There is one point I should stress first.
These builds are not perfect, and using them will not result in an easy win for you. These builds can be countered with clever ship design, just like any ship design can.
If you are losing fights with these builds that you think you should be winning, investigate why. Check what setup your opponent is running, and if it counters your builds, you can and should edit your ships.
The best tip I can give you when it comes to ship designing it to read everything. Every weapon, defensive piece, and utility comes with a tooltip explaining exactly what it does.
Knowing what everything does, means you know the best way to use it. You will know not to put long-range weapons on corvettes and to not go over your power supply on your ships.
This is everything you need to know about the best ship designs in Stellaris
If you have any questions or suggestions for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. As always, have fun building the best ship designs in Stellaris