Homeworld ships are 3D units
with separate moving parts and turrets. Despite a variety of different
weapons, the paper- scissor- rock relationship between Homeworld shipping
revolves around different hull classes and the formations and tactics
used when deploying them. There's no real life or death trumping; pretty
much everything can damage everything else, although more specialised
units will have an edge over their particular targets, and of course,
sheer size and speed will make all the difference. As a general rule,
the bigger a ship gets, the slower, less manoeuvrable and harder hitting
Armed ship classes are roughly grouped into three groups,
each with its own behaviour and tactics. Strikecraft
are small, lightly armed fighters that rely on speed and their small size
to stay out of trouble. You can arrange them into squadrons or loose clouds.
When attacking, they do attack runs on the target, converging on the target
and firing all at once before disappearing out of range to about turn
and attack again from a different vector. Corvettes
are bridge the gap between Strikecraft and the bigger vessels. They trump
Strikecraft with their heavier weapons and armour. While slower than fighters,
they can still inflict serious harm on them. Capital
Craft are the biggest ships in the game, and trump Corvettes with
their superior weapons and armour. While capital craft can take out corvettes,
their larger and more sluggish are hard pressed taming fighters. Fighters
in turn, are hard-pressed overpowering the big ships with their minimal
firepower, requiring a lot of help and a lot of time to work through those
As part of the pre-game promotion, Sierra
released a Unit
Viewer that allowed you to admire their spaceship designs as
rotating 3D models with some tantalising vital statistics. (However, in
order to see any ship models you had to download about two dozen separate(!)
.ship files...) Naturally enough, these were
seized upon and used in the first Homeworld fan sites.
The Mothership is your mobile command centre
and the heart of your fleet. In a regular real time strategy game
set on the ground, the Mothership would be a titanic building representing
your General Headquarters, Barracks, Factories, Farms and Houses,
all rolled into one. It's a completely self-sufficient mobile city-state,
and, like Total Annihilation's
Commander, the seed for all your forces and the point of focus for
your enemies. Quite simply, losing your Mothership usually costs you
the game, unless you've squirreled away a Carrier
or two somewhere for safety's sake. Even then, its usually all downhill
unless you can pull off some seriously clever strategy. This leviathan's
size is measured in kilometres, completely dwarfing all other units
around it. It provides all flight crews, resources and production
facilities until you start delegating some of those functions to other
shipping. In the single player campaign you can't move it all, but
in a multiplayer game it can be relocated, albeit extremely slowly,
anywhere on the map. It can often take the duration of an entire game
to cross the map. If you can expend sufficient Resource Units you
can actually hyperspace it and its fleets across the map in a single
The primary role of the Mothership is to manufacture
your and service your fleet. It receives resource shipments from
your harvesters, and its docking bays repair or refuel most spacecraft
Frigate sized or smaller. It is the only vessel that can produce
the biggest hull sizes in your build tree, the Super-Capital
Class ships: Destroyers, Battlecruisers
and Carriers. These heavy units emerge
from an impressive floating bay door on the Kushan Mothership. On
the Taiidan version they emerge underneath from a giant, open bay.
While titanic in size, the Mothership doesn't
seem to have the corresponding number of hit points to go with it
like other capital ships do. Your heavy hitters can take an amazing
amount of damage, but the vast Mothership seems to collapse at the
drop of a hat by comparison. It also has a woefully inadequate point
defences that are overwhelmed by anything greater than a small fighter
It can be quickly destroyed in a matter of moments by any serious
engagement. Even a modestly sized capital class fleet can severely
knock it around, so its vital that you protect it. While the Mothership
can repair itself, this process takes forever; and even repairs by
squadrons of Support Frigates can take ages.
This can be a real problem: if there's sufficient
attackers, they can safely ignore any defenders standing in the
way and just blast the Mothership out of existence before you even
slow them down. If you've let the enemy waltz up to your Mothership
in force, then you're a bit of a dill. This also presents Homeworld
newbies with a potential game stopper: there's a cheese strat where
you can simply hyperspace your entire fleet on top of someone else's
Mothership and demolish them before they can do anything to stop
you. Its the beginner nightmare in most RTS games: spending an hour
building up a beautiful fleet only to have some smart arse take
you out within the first minute of real combat.
And yes, the Kushan Mothership does look like a
big banana. The Taiidan one is sometimes called The
This is an unarmed, modular vessel/station that lurks by the Mothership.
Science Vessels are made up of six symmetrical
modules that automatically join together to form a circular space
station, although its rare you'll ever need to make enough for a complete
ship in the course of a typical Homeworld netgame, unless you have
resources coming out of your ears. Each separate component allows
you to pursue a single line of research, so having several modules
lets you research several streams at once, or pool their expertise
to research a single line of technology faster.
Its as simple as that: Homeworld's tech tree isn't sophisticated at all. Science
Vessels look sort of interesting when the parts dock together,
but the only thing that this feature really offers you is a bit
of extra speed in gaining those valuable tech's. This really only
helps in fast games on smaller maps. On huge maps most players accumulate
everything they need (if not hit their population cap a few times
over) by the time they get down to the serious mid to end game battles.
The other major use for a Science Vessel is as bullet soak: some
people fly these unarmed craft into the middle of a map to distract
fire away from their fighters or resourcers.
only two resourcing units: the Resource Collector and the Resource
Resource Collectors follow the tried and
trusted formula you might have first seen all those years ago in Command
& Conquer's Harvester. Its a large, unarmed loner with a far bit
of armour that roams the map, automatically seeking out edible asteroids
and dust clouds, returning to base with a full load before setting
off again. Once given the Harvest command, these ships run
entirely automatically, although letting the default AI do all the
work is rarely a wise thing to do. Collectors base their next harvesting
decision on the resource nearest to them, regardless of how valuable or how dangerous it is.
Its not unlikely that a nearly full Collector will wander off
to chase pebbles at the distant fringes of the map instead of richer pickings nearby your current base of operations. Or worse, they'll blunder into hostile territory and get picked off by a roving wolf
The Resource Controller is
the equivalent of a regular RTS game's Mine or Woodsman's Hut - except it can move. Resource Harvesters will unload their mineral hauls at a Controller rather than wasting time trucking all the way back to
the Mothership. The best move is to station Resource Controllers
near rich points on the map, and then micromanage your Harvesters
to mine those rich points.
Controllers can also refuel and repair Corvettes
and Strikecraft like a Support
Frigate, but on a far smaller and slower scale. They usually
form the heart of a mobile expansion, covered by Support Frigates,
a few Capital Class vessels and a standing squadrons of Corvettes
and Strikecraft to keep the enemy at bay. Some players order their
Controllers to Guard one or two Harvesters, so they will follow them all over the map, and then guard the Controller
with armed vessels. This is okay, if you don't mind surrendering
your command decisions to the game AI.
These civilian units are both unarmed and highly
strategic targets. Losing them won't cost you your store of RU's but
will seriously hit your economy. Its no surprise to find in many multiplayer
games, small raids on enemy resourcing quickly escalate into ongoing
battles that dominate the game.
||Without any doubt the most useful ships in the game are those that
support your fleet. Support vessels in Homeworld come in two sizes:
the Repair Corvette and the Support
Frigate. Repair Corvettes can service and repair a single fighter
or corvette or focus a repair beam on a damaged target and slowly restore
its armour points. Support Frigates can service
up to ten Strikecraft and four Corvettes
simultaneously, wield a far more powerful repair beam and also pack
a single turret. Both ship types can repair capital class vessels.
Best of all, when assigned to guard a group of other ships, they will initiate any
repairs automatically. This alone makes them one of the most
valuable assets in any fleet, and many players will fire on support first before attacking the rest of the fleet. Their usefulness is their biggest drawback: these ships are simply too useful and too
dangerous to ignore, so they invariably die first. Certainly the
game AI seems to prioritise them first during a fight, regardless
of how many other ships there are in the battle. Keep them heavily
guarded and at the rear.
Support is absolutely critical in Homeworld, especially for refueling Strikecraft
and Corvettes. Without it,
your high speed fighter wings will eventually grind to
a halt, unable to escape any enemies. When you begin deploying squadrons
across a big map, you will need to establish forward supply bases made
up of Support Frigates and their defenders.
|| The other useful ship in Homeworld is the Salvage
Corvette. Salvage Corvettes can actually hijack enemy shipping
and return them to the Mothership or the nearest Carrier to be turned
to your side - or recycled for the RU's. The number of corvettes needed
to nab a ship depends on its hull size. Frigates
and Resource Collectors can be grabbed by
two Salvage Corvettes, while bigger classes need three or more. Even
Fighters and Corvettes
can be nabbed by a single Salvager, although it'll be extremely lucky
if it can chase one down. Motherships are simply too big to
Once snared, the enemy ship becomes supine
and ceases to resist, but until that point your corvettes are in grave
danger - the opposition can rescue any snared craft by zapping your
corvettes. A half grabbed ship will spin in slow circles, unable to
do anything until rescued.
Salvage Corvettes are great against unescorted
capital ships and especially potent stealing unattended Resource
Collectors, but being unarmed and unable to escape enemy fire, sassy
foes will blow them away first. At the very least they can be a
useful distraction but require considerable micromanagement and
covering fire. They can deprive your foes of their powerful capital
craft right when they least expect it, and at the very least, will
keep their major shipping out of the fight during the salvaging process.
There are three different classes of spotters in Homeworld, coming
in small, medium and large sizes, and each performs a particular role.
At its smallest, the Probe is a one shot
satellite that can extend your sensor coverage in small pockets and
let you keep a discrete eye on remote regions of the map. They're
cheap as chips, travel at very high speed and can give you a quick
overview of the map as soon as you start a game. However, once in
place they can never move again so they are prone to being shot to
bits by passing Scouts.
Far more useful is the medium sized Proximity
Sensor. This is a proper ship and not a one shot probe. Packed
with sensor gear, it can detect invisible units nearby and effectively
counters the Cloak Generator and Stealth Fighter. Its simply
an unarmed eye in the sky though, but its always wise to keep a few guarding your fleets, especially near support or resourcing
units. There's nothing worse than being sprung by a force of invisible
ships you can't shoot back at...
The ultimate radar system in the game is the giant Sensor
Array. This effectively lights up the whole map. Again, its unarmed
and extremely slow, so Arrays tend to be left hanging around the Mothership. While lacking any kind of defence, they are still incredibly tough. Some players use them as temporary bullet soaks for the Mothership to buy time against any attacks until help can arrive.
Strikecraft are the infantry of Homeworld:
small, fast, and highly manoeuvrable snub fighters that swarm and
dogfight their way in and out of trouble. En mass they are like a cloud of hornets: highly
mobile and with sufficient numbers, packing a substantial wallop.
Their drawbacks come back to their tiny, light size. Their manoeuvrability
and ability to get around the map is offset by the large amount of
micro management and support they frequently demand. They suffer high
attrition rates and frequently run out of fuel. At the start of any
Homeworld game they're usually the first units to get going, and are
often used to harass Resource Collectors
or field other fighter swarms. In large numbers, focus firing a cloud
of Strikecraft at a single target can be as effective as using capital
Strikecraft are organised similarly on both sides. The Scout
is the lightest fighting ship. You can churn these out the moment
the game starts, and in fact, large clouds of Scouts swarming the
map are not uncommon sights in many online Homeworld games. Scouts
sacrifices armour in favour of high speed and manoeuvrability to
check out the map and tackle anything in a hurry. In longer games
they tend to get replaced by Interceptors,
the standard issue fighter of Homeworld. Interceptors live longer
in a fight, and compromise speed for better firepower, armour and
refueling times. Large groups of Interceptors fill out most forces,
dealing with any gaps in your defences that bigger and slower ships
aren't best suited to deal with. Fighter screens also distract any
enemies by presenting dozens of hard to hit targets.
Small ships tend to be a little insubstantial against Capital ships,
unless deployed in ridiculous numbers. Regular fighter swarms take
forever to bring down even a single Frigate,
and by the time they've worked their way through one target, help
has usually arrived or the attackers are seriously running low on
fuel. Attack Bombers get around this to some
They are specialised anti-capital ship assault ships that fire a single
"photon torpedo" or Plasma Bomb
against slow moving heavy targets. The Bombers' speed and agility
compared to their lumbering victims gives them an advantage, but these
specialists are eaten alive by Interceptors and any basic corvette
force, and a lot of online players regard them as effectively useless
in a typical netgame. Their powerful forward weapon shoots a relatively
slow, single bolt that rarely hits anything
smaller than a fighter. Attack Bombers are
used for special offensive missions rather than just thrown around everywhere
like Interceptors, and always require fire support. They've been radically
overhauled to be almost indispensable in Homeworld
Defenders on the other hand, are Strikecraft
that are little more than a slow moving Strikecraft with three modest
turrets. They're far too slow for attacks but used instead in small
clouds to defend capital ships and anything unarmed against fighter
raids. Defenders suffer alarming attrition rates, but they can be
thrown together in a flash for last ditch defences. Large numbers of them can
hose down small targets in a blaze of small arms fire.
Taiidan forces get a second specialised
defensive unit, the Defence Fighter. These
odd ships have no offensive weapon except a weird laser beam that
actually shoots bullets out of the sky. Scattering these fighters
through your Taiidan fleet cut down the amount of small arms damage
substantially. They're fantastic when mixed with Taiidan's lesser
Defender if you're fielding enemy fighter
swarms - but lacking any offensive weapons themselves, are utterly
useless on their own.
The Kushan get to use their own unique
Cloaked Fighter. This is essentially a
slower moving and less nimble Interceptor that can actually turn
invisible. They're much more expensive, run out of fuel a
little faster, and if spotted lose all their stealth advantages
and get blown clean out of the sky. As a result not many people
tend to use them unless your worthy foe has forgotten to build Proximity
Corvettes are small gunboats that bridge
the gap between the high speed Strikecraft
and lumbering Capital ships. In decent numbers
they can take on small forces of Capital ships like a school of piranhas.
They're not as nimble as Strikecraft, but they have adequate manoeuvrability
and can access to most parts of the battlefield in reasonable time.
Their versatility gives you a number of armed Corvettes, and the smaller
support units mentioned earlier: Repair Corvettes
and Salvage Corvettes.
Light Corvettes are the first you can
build once you've got the first Corvette tech under your belt. They're
often outclassed once the mid game gets underway, but in the opening
battles they comfortably outlast fighter battles simply because
of their heavier armour. In fact, Interceptors
have better firepower, but Light Corvettes demonstrate that better
armour can trump a Homeworld fighter battle - provided no bigger
ship classes have joined the fray.
Serious Corvette fans, though, get into either the Multi-Gun
Corvette or the Heavy Corvette. The
multi-gun version has six independently controlled turrets that are
fantastic for engaging fighter swarms while the heavy version is a
little less than half an Assault Frigate.
Heavy Corvettes tend to be clunkier and easier
to hit with Capital class units, but the good thing about them is
that they can take a great deal of punishment. They're an excellent
mid-level force and their presence generally makes life a little easier
for your other vessels. Their heavy armour will see them outlast other
Corvette classes and Strikecraft, covering smaller targets that Frigates
have difficulty reaching and adding some substantial and mobile backbone
for your Strikecraft.
The Multi-Gun Corvette tends to be a
little more popular online thanks to its versatility and slightly
faster rate of fire: you have the option of firing in all directions
against fighters at once or aiming everything at a single target.
Its lighter and faster, and while it shoots rather insubstantial
individual shots, bullet speed is almost instantaneous, guaranteeing
more hits. Numbers count: six high speed, omni-directional turrets
on a dozen Multi-Gun Corvettes stacks up quickly.
bring you to the small end of the Capital Ship classes. Everything
smaller than a Frigate needs refueling; but all Capital ships are
completely self-sufficient - barring battle damage of course. Assault
and Beam Frigates provide the mainstay
of much of your forces.
Assault Frigates are the fastest and most
agile of the Capital craft. They're your basic, medium sized brawler.
A gang of these guys can smash up just about anything, especially
when backed up with a few Beam Frigates.
Everything from Strikecraft, Corvettes
and even Destroyers think twice when running
into a wall of these guys. Granted, it takes time for them to nail
bigger ships or chase smaller ones down, but they're worth their weight
in gold. Assault Frigates get four medium size turrets,
and two forward facing Plasma Bomb launchers. Their
turrets can fire in most directions except backwards, and their Plasma
Bombs are upmarket versions of the Attack Bomber's. A large group
of these guys spells trouble, and they're definitely the Homeworld
all-weather, don't-leave-the-Mothership-without-one workhorse. They
counter Corvettes - even ones covered by Support
Ion Beam Frigates are the common companions
to Assault Frigates, and provide some extra heavy duty death ray action
to quickly polish off any heavy targets. Unlike most Capital ships,
they only have a single, forward facing weapon: the Ion
Beam. Ion Beams are the most powerful weapons in the game,
burning large amounts of damage into shipping with long, lingering
shots. The Ion Beam Frigate packs the smallest version of this fearsome
weapon, but they are slow, cumbersome ships that are little more than
a Cannon surrounded by an armoured shell with an engine tacked on
Even in smallish numbers they can melt large vessels
in short order, but their low manoeuvrability means they are helpless against Corvettes and Strikecraft. Certainly a pack
of them can deliver substantial damage to a target, and they're tough
enough to withstand a cloud of fighters long enough to do their
work. Other than their thick hide, they have no defences or any other
weapons. They're best used against the biggest targets on the field,
provided they are looked after.
There are a few unique
frigates for each side. The Kushan Drone Frigate
releases a spherical cloud of small floating gun turrets that can
blast away at a swarm of small targets like a formation of strike
craft or focus on a single one. They're excellent for mine clearing
and make for a good anti-Strikecraft unit, since the cloud can
shoot in all directions.
By contrast, the Taiidan Shield Frigate
emits a giant force field that helps reduce enemy fire.
It extends an invisible sphere around the ship, blocking something
like 80-90% of all incoming enemy fire except for Ion beams,
space mines and missiles. They're like a formation of Defence
Fighters, except without the messy micromanagement. Being
unarmed, they're vulnerable to heavy attack, but they make good
support for Carriers or lightly defended outposts. The field allows any out-going
small arms fire to pass through without being blocked, allowing the Taiidan defenders to return fire uninterrupted.
As the hull classes get
larger the number of unit types you can build drops sharply. Destroyers
belong in the Super Capital class, and
can only be produced by the Mothership.
Destroyers are Capital Class raptors,
designed expressly for savaging other Capital class ships. They're
huge but lean; powerful ships packing massive cannons and a pair
of huge ion beam turrets, all on a highly manoeuvrable chassis -
almost as nimble as a regular Assault Frigate. This is the second
most destructive vessel in the game. Destroyers are the equivalent
of two Assault Frigates and two Beam Frigates fused together at half
the price. You get the all-weather, multi-purpose brawler, but one
that can focus enormous amounts of firepower on a heavy target.
The only downside is the severe unit cap imposed on these powerful
units. Ironically, they are so effective and so dangerous in a fleet fight that they nearly always die first in spite of their power because they are simply too dangerous to be left alone.
The Missile Destroyer is another nasty piece
of work that packs four self-replenishing batteries of homing missiles
that can wipe out clouds of snub fighters or seriously dent other
Capital Ships. Missile Destroyers have an internal weapons factory
that replaces fired warheads, but this takes a little time. Initially
they launch two streams of self propelled death at their enemies until they run out ammo. Then their rate
of fire drops sharply to match the speed that they can make them.
This makes them substantial threats at the beginning of a big fight,
but as the missiles dribble away they end up as large bullet soaks,
becoming little more than a snub fighter harassment or a slow Salvage
Corvette repellant. Nevertheless, Missile Destroyers used in cross-fire
are utterly lethal to small ships, and a force to be reckoned with.
Give them a short breather and they're back in business again.
At the big end of the build tree, there's only two units available
to you: the monstrous Battlecruiser and the
Where Destroyers are Number Two in the
destruction stakes, Battlecruisers are
quite clearly Number One. They're as subtle as a brick to the head:
nothing else matches these monstrous dreadnoughts for sheer, blundering
firepower. A cruiser is somewhere between two and three times more
powerful than a Destroyer, but only as
fast and nimble as an iceberg. They pack six huge kinetic turrets
and two twin Ion Beams. Battlecruisers
absorb and deliver extraordinary amounts of fire while remaining
at full fighting strength right until the bitter end. The two drawbacks
to using a Battlecruiser is the sheer amount of time and resources
needed to build one, and their glacial speed. Once built though,
they are a serious obstacle that cannot be ignored. On their own
can easily demolish a Mothership and seriously
wreak havoc on the backbone of an opposing fleet.
Focus fire can bring them down too, so don't make the mistake
of thinking they're indestructible. Like all prized naval assets, they need their
escorts and you need to keep an eye on them. Something you've invested so much time and expense in really
has to be looked after, and these bad boys take forever to repair.
For best results, keep escorts nearby to handle the lighter targets
so it can focus on what it does best: demolishing big targets like
itself, helping to swing the battle in your favour.
This Super Capital ship's colossal guns and ponderous moves make it
completely impractical for killing Strikecraft.
You might score some lucky head shots on some Corvettes,
but using these huge vessels against small ships is extremely inefficient.
There's nothing more annoying than watching a big monster getting
completely distracted by a single corvette running rings around it.
Battlecruisers, like all capital ships are even vulnerable to massed
Fighter swarms - but I mean, massed.
If your micro management skills and graphics card can handle flying
a hundred fighters in a swarm - and I'm assuming you've turned off
Unit Capping in your game settings so you
can actually do this - then surprising amounts of damage can be unleashed
against even the biggest targets.
Carriers are smaller versions of the Mothership and act as self-sufficient mobile bases. They have all the Mothership's
functionality, except they can't store as many ships and only produce
Frigates or smaller. They have anti-fighter point defences,
but these are fairly pissy, like the Mothership's. Carriers are expensive,
sitting near the very end of the build tree and requiring a lot of
resources and time to produce. If you want to establish a forward
resourcing base, you're better off sending off a Resource
Controller covered by Support Frigates
and escorts. Carriers are really only useful in long games on large
maps, where travel times of replacement forces is an issue or you
think your Mothership is about to get destroyed. They're far more
useful and better implemented in Homeworld2.
In a small skirmish map you'll either never get enough resources together
or the game will have been resolved long before you get to them.
Most Homeworld players never seemed to want to use them; the amount of micromanagement
required switching between your production shipping and sorting
out all your docked ships in multiple places made them awkward and
clumsy to use.
You can opt to remove Motherships from a netgame entirely by playing
a Carrier Only game. Hull sizes are thus
limited to Frigates or smaller, and unless
the map includes some extra big ships at the start, all your eggs
are placed in one basket: your Carrier is your one and only factory.
There are two weird and powerful weapons available to both sides.
The Gravwell Generator is a strange contraption
that emits a powerful gravity well that completely incapacitates Strikecraft
and Corvettes. Once switched on, any enemy
Fighters or Corvettes that have strayed into its operational range
become trapped, unable to move, steer or shoot. Tumbling helplessly,
they become cannon fodder for even the slowest of your forces. Generators
use up a battery charge when switched on and only run for a short
time before needing some serious recharging time. The nice thing about
a Gravwell, is that there is no counter to it, save for it running
out of juice or having a squad of Capital ships on hand to bludgeon
through its armour.
The other is more tricky but not as potent: the Cloak
Generator. Anything friendly within a Cloak Generator's radius
becomes completely invisible. Having one or two Cloaks guarding
a fleet can prove devastating, since it becomes difficult for the
enemy to select anything to shoot at if there's nothing to be seen.
Weapons seem to fire from empty space and it becomes eminently possible
to sneak a sizeable force up to their unsuspecting victims. Like
the Gravwell Generator, they have a short battery life and need
plenty of recharge time. Cloak Generators are not as popular
as Gravwells, because they are so easily countered by Proximity