Metal X (okay fine. Chemical X. Stupid Powerpuff Girls) transforms into anything you want. Perhaps it’s the life-blood of replicators. By molding it, you can create anything from fuel to food, from a starfighter to an engine room. You’ll be able to harvest it directly from various sources, or scrounge it from debris.
You’ll be able to build your own ship, starting with just a command center. Build an engine room, and off you go. Add barracks for additional crew (they help out in building time, repairs), weaponry to blast enemies, hangar decks to house fighters, subsystems, harvesters. Tile by tile, you’ll slowly transform your small two-tile fighter into a capital warship.
Tiles will give (dis)advantages to surrounding tiles. Engines stack. But can overheat nearby rooms. Hull acts as a shield between the enemy and your precious innards. Subsystems benefit any touching tile, but must connect to other subsystems and your central command. Tiles near barracks get repaired faster than others.
Hopefully you’ll be able to recreate famous ships. Right now I’ve got Galactica in my head. Weapons up front. Hangars on the sides. Engines in back. Command Center smack dab in the middle. Launch the fighters to protect the harvesters. Call them all back. Jump the ship.
Should each tile be as-is? A weapons room is a weapons room. Add more for more pew-pewing. Or should building two weapons next to each other create one bigger weapon? A 4×4 weapon room could turn into a slow-moving missile launcher. 2×8 for nuclear warheads.
Schematics for additional supplies? Perhaps enemies drop schematics, and then you can use Metal X to build whatever it is. Radar, warheads, giant laser beam. Or maybe it’s like Minecraft crafting. Set up a weapon, hangar deck, and engine room, and you get a handful of fighters. Weapon and engine gets a missile. Weapon, subsytem, engine get a guided missile. Weapon, engine, engine? Faster missile. A single weapon room surrounded by engine rooms produces a teleporting bomb. Two subsystem rooms turn into a radar dish. A radar dish and an engine room turns into a drone. Etc etc.
I’m actually attempting this one. So far I have a 3×3 grid. The center tile is a “Command Center”. It’s black. Click on a tile, and you can turn it into an “Engine Room”. Red! Fancy stuff, huh? Up next, I’ll have it so if you have an engine room connected to your command center, and you launch the ship, you can fly your two-tile craft around. Neat-o.