October 12th 2016
The United Empire of Earth’s newest light capital ship is here, and you’re welcome aboard! The hotly anticipated RSI Polaris premiered at CitizenCon 2946 and today we’re happy to continue the Q&A series by answering your burning Polaris questions. Have a question about the Polaris that doesn’t appear here? You can post it to this thread and we’ll consider it for Friday’s Q&A!
The Polaris is a nimble corvette-class capital ship that packs a powerful punch with a full armament of turrets and torpedoes. Intended for use as both a naval patrol ship and to serve as the flagship of militia operations, Polaris has the capacity to perform search and rescue operations, light strike missions and general security patrols. The Polaris includes the facilities to repair, rearm and refuel a single fighter, light bomber or support ship.
Special thanks to Steven Turberfield for taking the time to answer these questions for us.
No snub craft is included with the Polaris, and this is mainly due to the fact that the hangar is designed with a small fighter in mind. Obviously though there is nothing stopping you from using this to house a snub if you wish. And in theory yes, anything smaller than a Sabre should fit, so 2 Merlins should be able to fit with some very precise landing.
Torpedoes will essentially have the same gameplay functionality as Missiles, with the Retaliator being an example. The main difference will be the properties of the Torpedo itself, being a larger scale you can expect it to have a lower top speed and maneuverability, but packing more damage per hit on a larger radius. Just as with missiles, other properties will vary as well, including lock time, reliability, and countermeasure resistance depending on the make and model of the torpedo along with the quality of the launching ship’s avionics. Torpedoes are generally intended for use against large targets like capital ships or installations; while you could theoretically use them against a smaller ship, like a fighter, bomber, or utility ship, they’d be much easier for those small ships to evade, with or without the use of countermeasures.
We can confirm that the Polaris is 155m. The Stats page has been adjusted accordingly.
Generally speaking, the Polaris is an ideal ship for taking on small/medium sized cap ships, and tactically should be used to get in quick, deliver the torpedo payload and get out. The turrets will also be utilized to fend off any small fighters who attempt to make chase. The torpedoes can also inflict significant damage against larger capital ships and provide enough firepower to crack fortifications or powerful static defenses (think sieges or base attacks). The question as to exactly how much is a matter of game balance and something we’ll be exploring together over time. It’s a ship designed for and dedicated to combat; faster than larger capital ships and tougher than smaller ships, and as such, like any ship, it performs better or worse depending on whether you appreciate its characteristics and employ them accordingly.
For example, the Polaris may find itself the target of torpedoes and large-caliber ship guns. Going toe-to-toe with a destroyer or cruiser, and staying exposed to its guns for an extended period, is not be the best way to use this ship. On the plus side, being a capital ship, the Polaris’ static defenses make it difficult to greatly harm with fighter-scale weapons. Between its shields, armor, and turrets, fighters will be hard-pressed to do it much damage to a Polaris without suffering sever consequences themselves. However, watch out for Gladiators and other bombers. While the Polaris wouldn’t be defenseless against those types of light bombers, a Polaris captain should usually be much more wary of them than most dogfighters.
Due to its speed, the Polaris is first and foremost a military ship, so its design is based around combat scenarios. It is ideal as a patrol ship, or as a lead ship for a capital ship fleet. That said, as with most other ships, there is nothing stopping anyone from using it for cargo runs or general transportation. Bear in mind that in the real world, warships generally don’t make money – they are incredibly expensive and represent a massive drain on the resources of the nation that fields them. They pay for themselves by projecting influence and providing deterrence for the nation that operates it, making the area safer for maritime and commercial activity that otherwise wouldn’t be safe or practical for the benefit of that nation’s economy, as well as providing strength in negotiations with other countries. Star Citizen is, of course, meant to be a game and we don’t intend to make the costs of operating a capital ship as prohibitive to players as it would be in real life. They’re attainable and we want you to have fun with them. It does mean, however, that you don’t deploy or use capital ships, even corvettes, as casually as you would an Aurora, Starfarer, or other personal-scale ship where you can tool around space on a whim and cover your operating expenses with casual profits.
Corvette captains, like large merchant captains, are on a mission, not just sightseeing, and will want to plan their itineraries intelligently. Large squadrons or organizations might use these capital ships analogously to how real-world nations use theirs – to enable freer transit for allied shipping by their very presence, provide leverage in or a show of force in negotiations or standoffs against other large entities, or to crack heavy installations (large numbers of hostile fighters or bombers usually still need some kind of base or mothership to operate from for refuel and repair, after all). Independent operators can provide those services to other entities for a fee as well – although this goes beyond the “standard” kind of escort mission. While you can use a Polaris for straightforward cargo runs or general transportation, in many cases it isn’t going to be anywhere near as cost-effective or lucrative as using a Hull series ship instead, unless it’s a valuable cargo and you’re getting a premium for armored security. As with most ships, we want to provide you with a lot of freedom in your choices, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to whether your ship is reasonably appropriate for the job you have in mind.
In a combat scenario, you will absolutely need a crew of some form to stand much of a chance. The main firepower comes from the Torpedo launch room, which has a station for a dedicated weapons officer. You can hire AI crew to man the stations, and bear in mind that they are not free and come with varying levels of skill. It’s generally not recommended to attempt to operate a capital ship with a skeleton crew if you expect to get into combat. Think about the USS Enterprise in Star Trek III: she typically operates with a crew of over 400. A crew of just 5 people can fly the Enterprise somewhere, but without a proper crew, she was punching far below her weight in battle. Generally speaking you will want to bring friends, hire AI crew, or both, because while you can operate with a skeleton crew, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
The Polaris can indeed land, and has landing gear built in. And while the Rover specs were not yet finalized while the Polaris was being designed, the cargo hold should be large enough to house a Rover without issues.
Generally speaking, the Polaris can indeed run with less than the maximum crew advertised. This is mainly because you generally would not expect crew members to work their stations 24 hours a day, and would take the helm or man their stations in shifts, therefore, the maximum crew advertised usually outnumbers the number of onboard stations. You can, of course, fill up to the maximum crew complement if you want with jobs like extra security personnel or mercs, and we also incorporate enough space to provide quarters to any crew members of the fighter or support ship stored in the hangar.
In short, the Polaris shields are not as strong as those found on the Idris and Javelin, but this is a trade off in return for its relative speed and firepower. Also in terms of scale, both the Javelin and Idris are quite a lot larger than the Polaris. It’s also worth remembering that shields need to be placed in the context of their deployment; the Idris and Javelin are both larger and slower, and so in general they’re going to be exposed to concentrated fire more often and more frequently than a Polaris – especially perhaps by capital-size weaponry. When ships are designed with actual components taking up internal volume, you can’t just fit a super-sized everything in the hull, so just as with real-world engineers designing warships, often you try to find an efficient and effective balance of equipment and bulk. Shields also require power from power plants in order to work, so you might get better results from running a smaller shield generator at peak efficiency rather than a larger shield generator with only a little juice. Since a corvette is smaller than larger capital ships, you can’t just pound for pound put the same reactor, generators, avionics, etc. as a larger ship across the board without bloating the design.
In theory, yes you can land inside without the platform being raised, but some ships will encounter issues with this. The Sabre being an example, as the landed state retracts its wings, so the raised platform allows the Sabre to reduce its width before being lowered into the hangar. When landing on the hangar platform, you can expect that you will need to match the Polaris’ velocity and bearing, as similar to how real-world mid-air refueling works on planes, it is a risky maneuver. You should generally expect good communication between the fighter pilot and the Polaris crew for a smooth procedure, or the safer option would be to either slow down or stop the Polaris. It will indeed be possible to take off while the Polaris is moving, but this is again done so at the fighter pilot’s own risk.