On a piloted ship, damaging (orange color, not red) the piloting section of a ship cancels the ship’s ability to dodge without a pilot (or reduces it, if it was level 3 piloting) but makes less of a difference if it is manned. The difference that remains is the pilot is forced to repair instead of granting their personal +5, +7 or +10 dodge bonus.
However, automated ships have no crew to begin with, and yet are clearly able to dodge even when they only have level 1 piloting. My question is, can anyone verify whether damaging (or making orange) a level 2 piloting system on an automated ship has any impact on the ship’s ability to dodge?
I would like to think that it does, but without examining source code, reading developer discussion, or producing a large body of statistical evidence, I simply don’t know for sure.
This answer should be the same for advanced edition or the base game, even though the pilot-less piloting values are different (because we are dealing with the special case of automated ships.)
Having just used Marius’ strategy to detect the evasion of an automated vessel, I discovered something very interesting about automated ships and their evasion with regard to their piloting section!
I used a hacking drone on Engines but didn’t activate it. This allowed me to check the dodge chance for the automated foe. I also did not damage its engine system. I then used a beam weapon that dealt one damage each time to hit their piloting to see what effect it would have:
Undamaged piloting (gray) : 30% 1 Damage to piloting (orange) : 25% 2 Damage to piloting (orange) : 25% 3 Damage to piloting (red) : 0%
Interestingly, this shows that automated vessels gain a +5% bonus to dodge from their piloting when it is undamaged, and lose that bonus whenever it is injured. This is equivalent to having an unskilled pilot switch from manning the subsystem to repairing the subsystem. Further damage does not affect the subsystem until it is destroyed! This makes some sense because automated vessels do automatically repair damaged systems/subsystems.
The primary strategic takeaway is only slightly enlightening, as it doesn’t occur often: If you can only deal 1 or 2 points of damage to a subsystem, don’t prioritize piloting too greatly. You are probably better off focusing on shields/weapons/drones, as you aren’t dropping the dodge by very much. Note that this is only relevant with level 2/3 piloting.
Note that this was done on a sector 7 automated vessel on EASY. Thus, I suspect it is possible for NORMAL or HARD versions to lose 7% or 10% evasion if it is true that automated vessels are considered to be skilled, or masterful with their “invisible crew”.