Commander Status: Ships with this status are more defensively built and are able to call a limited number of allies when under attack. There may only be a single Commander ship in a sector. These allies come in gradually, similar to how ships called via Distress Signals do.
How this could affect Drones: Commander status is rare in all Drones, especially Phase/Shock Drones and Deathseekers. A Commander Drone is only able to call for allies of its own class or lower, such as Marauders being able to call all Bandit Drone types while Clunkers being able to only call other Clunkers. Additionally, Commander Drones could have an extremely low chance of calling in a Drone Overseer in addition to their standard reinforcements. Each Drone 'Faction' and the 'rank' of each Commander also has different chances for drawing a drone with a specific modifier. Ex. Clunker Commanders are more likely to get Vulnerable or Corrupted Drones while Marauder Commanders are more likely to get Swift or Silent Drones. Drone reinforcements could also have the possibility of receiving an Infected Drone or Fighter for their reinforcements at extremely high Chaos levels.
How this could affect Regular Ships: Commander status is less rare in manned ships than in Drones, but is still not commonly seen. Commander ships will generally have less reinforcements in total because of how much more dangerous they are than Drones, but will also focus more on disabling your reactor and weaponry than if they weren't Commanders. Commander ships can have their reinforcements be comprised of both Drones and other ships, but will always receive at least 1 manned ship and will never receive a Drone Overseer. Drones reinforcing a manned ship can be of any rank of their manned ship's faction and are more likely to get a 'Faction specific' modifier, such as CU Drones being more likely to get the Secure or Frozen modifiers.
How this could affect Missions: Certain missions can be made more interesting/challenging if their ships were to always be made Commanders. A few I can think of are hunting the Nebula Creeper, hunting The Umbra, Defending the Roland, and Steal WD Prototype.
How this could affect the Infected: All Infected Carriers should be considered Commanders, however they also can end up receiving as little as 1 ship in reinforcements. Because of how tough Infected Carriers already are, they should only be able to call in Infected Drones and Infected Fighters, both of which can still be affected by Drone Modifiers, being more likely to have a unique form of the Corrupted Modifier whereas they will never attack other Infected. Additionally, having an Infected Carrier very rarely drop a component that allows the Player Crew to call in more Infected Ships once per sector jump could be an interesting reward.
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Thanks for the suggestion! We've actually had similar ideas to this in the past with drones dropping distress beacons before being destroyed, but having that ability attached to a particular ship with a commander status definitely adds another layer of strategy. We agree that something like this could be an interesting feature, but it unfortunately hasn't made it into the game as of yet. Right now, it's not something we can guarantee we'll add, but we'll keep this suggestion in mind if we add more enemy types! Thank you!