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ShipLimit

The ship limit is one of the most contentious restrictions in the game. It was originally set at 500 ships, presumably to conserve memory (when this game was written, PCs had only 1 or 2 MB RAM!). Modern host programs allow up to 999 ships, but this has not been extended further (perhaps because most client programs allow only 3 digits for a ship ID).

The ship limit fundamentally changes the way the game is played.

Imagine that one of your starbases has enough resources to build a small ship, but not enough to build a large ship. Imagine also that in a turn or two some freighters will arrive with more resources, which would enable you to build the large ship. If you build the small ship now, you still won't be able to build the large ship when the freighters arrive, because you will have used up some of the resources - but if you wait, then you will.

This kind of resource management decision is fundamental to any 4X game. The existence of the ship limit massively skews the decision towards the building of smaller ships - because every ship you build is one less ship any other race can build. So waiting to build larger ships is strategically unsound.

Once the ship limit is reached (around turn 25-30 for 500 ships in a full game), the exact opposite occurs. Opportunities to build ships are suddenly extremely precious, and you should always build the largest ship you can. Because you will have to wait for an opportunity to build a ship, you have plenty of time to gather the resources to build your largest ship. So the game is suddenly skewed in favour of races with larger ships to build. There are various build queue mechanisms which attempt to solve this imbalance, but it would be much better to have no ship limit at all.

Perhaps in a future host version there will be no ship limit.

In contrast, it must be said that managing large numbers of ships is extremely time consuming. Towards the end of the game, leading players will have over 100 ships each (if the limit is 999 ships, leading players will have over 200 ships). Until some sort of fleet management is introduced on the client side, many people will remain thankful for the ship limit.

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Page last modified on December 23, 2006, at 11:38 AM