A Fleet is a grouping of ships that you intend to use for a common goal. To create a Fleet, click the "Fleet Transfer" button, then "Create Fleet" while in the transfer window. You can also temporarily create a "fleet" of sorts by shift-left-clicking to select the ships you want and then giving them their orders, but doing so can get to be a hassle and misses out on the bonuses that using a Fleet grants:
- Ships in a Fleet share supplies. This way, you can keep all of the ships supplied and ready to fight, even deep in enemy territory, by including a "supply ship" with a Quantum Reactor, which will top off all the ships in the fleet at the end of the turn, or just a large number of Supply Storage and/or solar panels.
- Fleets can gain experience points through training facilities or through combat, and this experience is effectively added to each ship during combat. For example, a ship with 22% Experience in a Fleet with 20% Experience will fight as though it had 42% Experience. One trick to take advantage of this fact is to create several 1-ship Fleets and park them over a planet with a Fleet Training facility. Once one of these Fleets is maxxed out, you can send it off to wherever it's needed and add ships to it to immediately give them the benefit of all that training, regardless of the fact that they weren't actually there when the Fleet was being trained.
- Fleets will move together. If you use the shift-left-click method, the ships will stay together for one turn and then move at their own pace after that, which can be a Very Bad Thing if it leaves your vital Troop Transport or your hideously expensive Stellar Manipulation ship unguarded. The downside of this is that "together" also means "at the speed of the slowest ship", so should one of the Fleet's ships take damage to its engines, the entire fleet will be slowed until either the damage is repaired or the crippled ship is removed from the fleet.
- Fleets enter combat and fight in formation. While often a dubious benefit (especially given how horrible the default "Arrowhead" formation is), it is useful way to avoid tedious micromanagement during the first couple rounds of many engagements, and is essentially the only way available to influence the initial placement of your ships during a Warp Point ganking. Once the shooting starts though, it's best to have all of your ships break formation, as explained below.
- In multiplayer, other players can see your ships' names, but not the names of your Fleets. Oftentimes players will disguise the names of their ships in order to throw off the other players - after all, being vaporized by a half-dozen Wave Motion Guns can be a nasty shock to somebody expecting a mere "Totally Helpless Mine Sweeper mk. II" - but doing this keeps you from using ship names as reminders to yourself of a ship class's function. By renaming the Fleets that these somewhat misleading ships are in, you can keep track of them almost as easily as you could with ship names, but the enemy won't be able to see any difference. For that matter, the enemy can't even tell whether or not a group of ships is in a Fleet at all.
During combat, when the leader of a group moves, the rest of the group will automatically move to try to stay in formation. This is handy when closing the distance between you and an enemy force that's 30 squares away, but can become a major liability when the actual fighting begins. Should you decide to leave your ships in formation, they have the nasty tendancy to automatically move themselves out of weapons range - or right into the enemy's sights - when you try to manuver your flagship into a better position, and having the group leader turn around can make a complete mess of your fleet as all the ships try to switch sides.
For this reason, it's best to have your ships break formation sometime before the shooting starts. The safest way to do this is to set your fleet strategies to have all ships break formation, but any other way of doing so works just so long as all your ships break formation by the time you need to micromanage them.
Ideal Fleet Makeup
Repairs and Retrofitting
| Manual (SEIV)
Training and Experience