jeebz Sep 28, 2012 @ 10:55pm
Item and Strategy Guide: How to Beat FTL
Hello everyone. I've played FTL for 35 hours now and I have learnt a lot about the game and it's mechanics, and can reliably finish the game on Normal as long as I don't make silly mistakes (like blowing up a ship with my boarding crew still on it).

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=100466355

I would like to share with you my strategies. This is intended for the player who has now grasped the fundamentals of the game, but need that extra edge to become a complete player.

Part 1: Item reviews
With so many weapons, mods, upgrades etc. in the game, it's hard to know what to get first and second. This will be the most important thing to understand in the game - what to prioritize. Strategies vary a little from ship to ship, but the general principle is the same:

a) Upgrade priorities and power management

From the start of the game, priority will be to get a diverse crew ASAP and maximize 'blue option' dialogue options.
Important upgrades that give 'blue-options': Level 2 autopilot (high level weapon in nebula ion storms), Level 2 Medbay, and level 2 Scanners.
If I am able to find a nearby Store beacon surrounded by other beacons (i.e. I am confident that I can farm up 75 scrap before I get to the Store) then I will save up for Level 1 teleport and go 'blue-option' hunting for free crew from 'Damaged Federation Ship' events in Nebulae, then proceed to gain more scrap through combat with a boarding crew.
Starting weapons usually will suffice without any upgrades (to either system or weaponry) until Sector 3.

Special note regarding early Long-range scanner or the Stealth ship: Since you can pick hostiles every beacon, instead of going for blue options, you can gain more scrap by going for combat upgrades/early boarding crew. Read the section on Augmentations below for details.

Rules of thumb:
Level 4 shields before starting Sector 3
Level 6 shields before starting Sector 6
Level 8 shields during sector 8.

Upgrade engines to Level 5 (upgrade once every two sectors) and then leave it there. 45% evasion with max-exp pilot/engine operator, 105% evasion with cloak (can power down to level 4 engines for 100% evasion).

Calculating power requirements:
Your shields, weapons, and level 1 oxygen always require power
Engines, drones, med bay, cloak and teleporter have no charge-up time, so halve their power-requirement when calculating how much power bars you should have.


b) Weaponry Guide
- In general, more expensive weapons are NOT better than cheaper ones. Shield-penetration to Energy requirement ratio is the name of the game here.

God tier: Ion weapons - One 'ion blast II' or two 'ion blast I' can reliably tear down shields of any strength given enough time. Can only be soft-countered by high evasion/cloaking.
Avoid 'Heavy ion' weapon - it's 13 second cooldown ruins the point of ion weapons (Ion weapons 'refresh' and stack ion damage to shields as long as you hit every 5 seconds. Staggering two 'ion blast I' to fire every 4 seconds will drain all shields as long as you don't miss often.
Ion bomb/small bomb/breach bomb - Only soft-countered by high evasion, and can damage shields enough to allow penetration by other weapons. Extremely useful for ninja takedowns of enemy medbays for a succesful boarding attempt.


High tier: Laser weapons - Take your pick from Basic lasers, dual lasers, burst lasers II, and heavy laser I. Has generally good penetration for energy ratio. Avoid other lasers which are energy inefficient.
Make sure to wait until all lasers are charged before firing at the same time, to maximize shield penetration.


Mid tier: Beam weapons - Beam weapons are only good if you already have enough weaponry to penetrate the shield (even if briefly; i.e. with concentrated laser fire); but as long as you can do so, they are great weapons (due to instant projectile time, you can guarantee system/hull damage even if the enemy shields are down for 1 second).

Specific weapon notes:
Glaive beam needs too much power and you might run into trouble against higher shield enemies, where you lack the weaponry or power bars to break through the shield.

Do not underestimate the mini-beam, which the Stealth ship starts with. Against normal enemies (non-autobot ships), you can guarantee 3 rooms of damage by cutting through corners, even though the length of the beam is tiny. For one power, it is extremely efficient.

Lower tier: Missiles - Good in the early-game when one missile to fry shields is enough; but by mid/end-game enemy ships will have several counters (Defense Drone, High evasion, Cloaking) and the enormous ammo requirements will drain your Scrap fund too much. Try to replace your missile weapons with higher tier weaponry as you go along.

Other weaponry options are usually sub-optimal, as they either cost too much power or not have enough shield penetration, or lack versatility (e.g. firebombs against auto-ships are useless).

c) Drone Guide:
Only two drones worth mentioning, but boy are they great. You can get away with leaving drone system on 2/3 power all game, as drones can be activated/deactivated on demand as they have no 'charge up' time.

Anti-Ship Drone I - Deceivingly energy-efficient and high damage potential if enemy shields can be penetrated. Has no 'charge up' time like regular weapons, so you can simply leave it deactivated until the one second where enemy shields are down. You can then turn off power from Oxygen/Engines and let the Drone activate for a couple of shots before switching back O2/engines again.

Defense Drone I - Again, exceptionally energy efficient as you can simply turn it on whenever a missile fires, then turn it off again. For two power, you have essentially hard-countered missiles. Stupidly good.

Other drones have niches, but are usually better being sold for scrap to upgrade better things.



d) Augmentations guide

God tier
- Long range scanner - extremely great for picking what events/hostiles you want and avoiding hazards. Only 30 scrap price in stores.

If you can pick up this aug early (or have the stealth ship that starts with this), it actually changes your entire game strategy, since you can pick and choose hostile encounters every single beacon. Instead of upgrading for blue-options, just maximise your combat systems (teleporter, shields, weapons, engines) and pick hostiles every single jump if you can. This will give you a huge advantage in scrap generation; and you will have enough scrap to upgrade almost all systems to max; even on normal.

- Scrap recovery arm - worthy investment. Stackable and gives 'blue option'.
- Unique racial augs: Engi medbots is a great aug, and you can sometimes get it through giving 40 scrap/2 missiles/2 fuel to engi ship in trouble.
Zoltan shield is great early game, but wears off in effectiveness as game progresses. Consider selling other racial augs (Rock plating, titanium plating, slug gel, pheromones) for a quick 50 scrap boost if there is something in the store worth buying (e.g. early teleporter for boarding potential)

Other mentions
- Automatic reloader and shield charger are okay if you have spare aug slots.
- Pre-igniter, drone recovery, and stealth weapons are useful in niche situations/strategies. Not as reliable for all ships as ones mentioned above.




e) End-game Crew Makeup
Max 8 crew.
One each stationed at Weapons, Shield, Engine, and Helm (preferably not Mantis)
Two personnel (either Mantis, Rock, or Crystal) dedicated to boarding
Two 'roaming' repairers (preferably not Mantis/Zoltan)

f) Sector guide:
Look for:
- Any homeworld planet, for special quests
- Nebulae, high chance of blue-option events, and slower rebel fleet allows better farming opportunities.

Friendly sectors/Hostile sectors - Depends on how much fuel/combat capability you have.


g) Event choices guide
In a roguelike game like FTL, half the fun comes from experimenting with the diverse options and learning from mistakes.
However, if you've already had your fun developing a feel for the game, and just want to learn to beat the game consistently, there is no shame in going to http://ftl.wikia.com/wiki/Random_Events and http://ftl.wikia.com/wiki/Sectors and looking up what you are heading into before you make an event decision.
The most frustrating thing that can happen is losing a max-exp crew member to a seemingly innocuous event, late into the game.
Last edited by jeebz; Oct 2, 2012 @ 10:17pm
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jeebz Sep 28, 2012 @ 10:56pm 
Part 2

a) Boarding guide
Adapted from http://blackrabbit2999.blogspot.com/2012/09/ftl-game-ship-boarding-detailed-guide.html

Requirements
2 boarders (Mantis or Rock), preferably with combat EXP.
Level 2 teleporter (15 seconds cooldown is sufficient for your boarding party to get back while still alive)

General strategy
1. Disable enemy med-bay, and keep it down. Enemy AI will retreat to med-bay when hurt unless medbay is destroyed.
2. Teleport boarders to a size 2 room, so only 2 enemies will be able to engage them. Even better if the 2 size room is the med-bay, as your boarders will prevent repairs.
3. Make sure enemy cloak or door controls are disabled so your boarding party can be teleported back safely.
4. To guarantee a safe retreat, cloak immediately after teleporting your party back to your ship so stray missiles will not kill your already hurt boarding party.


b) Flagship strategy
Adapted from http://blackrabbit2999.blogspot.com/2012/09/ftl-game-rebel-flagship-final-boss-guide.html

A word on how the flagship works.
First form
- 4 weapons. From left to right, tri-ions, tri-laser, tri-rocket, beam.
- No special abilities

Second form
- Begins with boarding drone
- No tri-ion cannon, no cloak
- Special ability - spawns many attack drones every so often (has same cooldown as your cloak, so you should be able to dodge all the waves).

Third form
- Begins with 10hp zoltan shield
- No beam, no ion.
- Surviving crew attempts to teleport to your ship
- Special ability - shoots 10 lasers or regenerates zoltan shield.

Each new form regenerates systems and hulls, but surviving crew is carried over.
If ALL the enemy crew is killed, flagship will turn into an auto-ship, and can repair itself.

General strategy
First form
- This is where all the hard work is done. If this is done properly, the other two forms are a breeze.
- Begin by sending boarding parties, one after the other, to the rocket, ion cannon, and beam compartments. Leave the tri-laser alone (2nd weapon from the left), you want to keep that crew member alive so the flagship doesn't become an auto-ship.
- Dedicate all your power to turtling - maximize shields, engines, and cloak while waiting for your boarders to disable all the weapons.

Once all weapons are disabled except lasers, you can shut off all defense except 3 bars of shield, which is sufficient to prevent all damage.

Dedicate all power to weapons - focus on minimizing hull damage dealt while disabling shields and med-bay. S-bomb or ion bomb can ninja down the med-bay without needling to take down the shields.

Recall your boarding crew, get them healed, and prepare them to board the main ship.
Time your boarding so that:
1) You board just before cloak is going to happen
2) The medbay is kept disabled while you are boarding.

Eventually, all the crew except the single guy operating the lasers will be dead. Proceed to destroy the flagship.

Second form
- Send boarding party to disable drone controls so the boarding drone won't do any damage.
- Disable all weapons except laser again, with either boarders or your own weapons
- During 'power surges', wait until all the drones have appeared on your screen before hitting level 1 cloak to dodge.
- Once weapons and drone control are disabled, proceed to destroy the ship.

Third form
- Wear down the zoltan shield by any means, send boarders in to disable weapons/shields, then proceed to destroy the ship.
- Dodge power surge lasers with level 1 cloak.

Congrats, you are winnar.
Last edited by jeebz; Sep 30, 2012 @ 12:43am
Sli Fi Sep 28, 2012 @ 11:14pm 
IMO it's best to specifically go for ship encounters/hostile sectors if you can - it gives more score and scrap, and never leaves you with a non-event.
jeebz Sep 28, 2012 @ 11:28pm 
If your ship has sufficient combat capabilities already, then by all means actively seek ships to fight, as long as you don't expend too many resources (hull repair, ammo).
I usually start doing this once I have an effective boarding crew as it increases rewards.
Night Sep 29, 2012 @ 2:14am 
I agree that due to ammo consumption, it's usually unwise to use missiles for primary weapons, but they can help a ton when you don't have the laser power to take down shields.

Little mention of bomb weapons, which are extremely useful due to penetration. A single Breach Bomb (esp. II) has a major effect in combat when you can selectively knock out systems like shields, weapons, and O2. I'll take punching holes in an enemy ship over the ion bomb lockdown. :)

A lot of the weapons are more situational. You probably won't use heal bombs and bio beams unless you're into boarding, for example. If you have ion blasts, beams can be very useful. The glaive does use 4 power, but will shred any unshielded ships, as it can hit up to 5 rooms with 3 damage.
Biz Sep 29, 2012 @ 4:15am 
preigniter is probably the surest route to victory.

getting preigniter is the greater challenge.

add cloak + attack drones and most enemies die without being able to fire a shot
Red Spot Sep 29, 2012 @ 4:31am 
Not trying to be negative as the guide is pretty decent. However I played games knowing very well what I like in weapons, but I never find any but the most crappy of all.
And I always maximize my jumps, I sometimes even hold a ruler to my screen to messure how many jumps remain, the flagship will move 15mm each non-nebula jump..
Ahoge-dono Sep 29, 2012 @ 6:32am 
From my experience, you can get away with level 6 shields if you go max evasion.
Maxi Sep 29, 2012 @ 8:32am 
This guide is really helpful. Thank you for making it! :D
Twelvefield Sep 29, 2012 @ 3:41pm 
I don't think you can beat the fun factor of the fire beam. It is mostly ineffective, but once you get the chance to unleash that monster, woo-eee burn baby burn! It's like boarding without needing boarders, and with tons of flames. And speaking of boarding, I also have great affection for the boarding drone, who automatically creates a hull breach and is impervious to lack of oxygen.

Also, how come no mention of blast doors? For 20 scrap, I'd say that's one of the best defensive buys in the game.

Beyond that, the only other thing I can suggest is to move horizontally as far as you are able on the map if you are low on fuel. You can be saved if you run out of space gas, but it helps to be as far away from the Rebel fleet as you can get.
PerfectBlue Sep 29, 2012 @ 7:04pm 
How in the world do you have enough scrap to obtain level 4 shields by sector 3? I take as much time as possible exploring every area before the fleet reaches me, and I rarely have level 4 shields by sector 3.
FABIO Sep 29, 2012 @ 10:27pm 
Strongly disagree on ion weapons being god tier. They're only useful if you pick them up for free and have nothing else to use the power on. My motto is if you have to rely on ion weapons to get through shields, something went wrong along the way. Bombs, boarding parties, drone swarm, laser alpha strikes, all of those are better options.

We agree that the long cooldown ion guns are worthless, but the problem with the rapid fire ones is they take cloaking off the table as an option (unless you pick up cloak weapons aug). Without cloak you're forced to max shields and engines for the flagship (even then that doesn't cut it half the time). Forgoing cloak so you can stack ion guns usually puts you on the losing end of a slugfest against the flagship.
jeebz Sep 30, 2012 @ 12:18am 
Against flagship, the strategy should be to have two boarding parties to quickly shut down all weaponry except the tri-laser, which does no damage against 3 bars of shields. You shouldn't be firing any weapons in the early phase of the flagship battle; just turtling while your boarding parties shuts down the rocket, ion, and beam weaponry.

Besides, the main advantage of cloak is the 60 evasion that can be used to dodge a big wave of fire.

Also, higher levels of cloak eat up more bars of power for a longer time. It is still worth upgrading the cloak system to make it able to tank a few more hits, but I rarely use 2nd level or 3rd level of cloak in battle.

Another bonus is that ion damage cannot be repaired, which is useful against the big crew of the flagship.

Boarding drones are useful, but require you to upgrade your drone systems to cope with the power demand, and some ships only have 2 drone slots that may be better served with Anti-ship/Defense drones.

In my experience, ion weapons are very versatile, have no real hard counters.
Mr. Fibble Sep 30, 2012 @ 6:35am 
My ideal boarding party would be a pair of rocks, for the simple reason that they're immune to fire. Fire beam and those guys means you will be faster at taking out a crew even if the enemy has a medbay to heal them. Ion bomb and 2 rocks in the medbay to start does work well if the bomb neuters the bay.

Boarding drone has it's uses but for a fight like the flagship I dont use it. If we could target where it starts I might but at the moment no.

Power gets bounced between lesser systems like medbay cloak and teleport as needed.

If you're venting to put out fires or trying to kill boarders anything above the basic level1 of power in o2 will greatly reduce the venting process.
FABIO Sep 30, 2012 @ 11:46am 
Yeah ion damage can't be repaired in the traditional sense, but it wears off after a little while so there's very little practical difference between it and regular damage that gets repaired, and at least regular damage whittles down the hull.

If you need to disable systems then bombs and boarding parties are much surer bets that aren't prone to missing.

If ion guns were power cheap it would be a different story, but they're not.
jeebz Sep 30, 2012 @ 1:17pm 
ion blast costs 1 power
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Date Posted: Sep 28, 2012 @ 10:55pm
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