This page contains community strategies for various ships in FTL; your mileage may vary.
Layout A Edit
The starting weapons are some of the best in the game. In the early game, the Burst Laser II alone will obliterate most ships. Since you don't start with many missiles, it's best to conserve them for dangerous battles at environmental hazards, or when you start facing enemies with two layers of shields. The ship's initial offensive capabilities are very strong, so early upgrades should be focused on improving defense.
The Burst Laser II will continue to be a great weapon throughout the entire game. The Artemis becomes less useful in later sectors, but only requires one power, so it remains acceptable as a complementary weapon unless you need to make room for something better. Ideally it would eventually be replaced by a more reliable shield removal tool, such as flak or ion weapons. The ship is geared towards a gunship build, so adding beam or more burst weapons is also an excellent idea. Cloaking, defensive drones, and a hacking module are generally the most useful system upgrades, since the ship doesn't have any initial equipment or crew that give it advantages in boarding.
Layout B Edit
The Basic Laser doesn't pack much of a punch individually, but four of them are very effective for early and even mid game. Over the course of the game, you will need to replace the Basic Lasers with better weapons, but be prepared for how this will change your offensive speed. The Basic Laser does 1 damage with 10 second cooldown -- this is good. But if you replace one with a weapon that has a 15 second cooldown, each remaining basic laser is now giving you 1 damage with a 15 second cooldown (assuming you fire all your weapons in a salvo) -- this is inefficient. For that reason, it's best to either replace all of your lasers at the same time, or replace them gradually with weapons that have similarly low cooldown rates.
In the early game, your lasers charge fast enough that you can usually neutralize enemies' weapons/drones before they can do much harm to you, so your early priority should be upgrading shields to minimize damage taken.
You should switch the engines crewmember and the weapons crewmember. The weapons crewmember will level up very quickly due to the constant recharge and firing rate, and the bonus from being human. If you need to send your Zoltan to repair a system, fight off boarders, put out a fire, etc., it's better to lose 1 power in your engines than 1 power in your weapons, since that might cause a weapon to go offline. Starting with a Mantis crewmember gives you the flexibility to pursue a boarding strategy if you can find a teleporter and some other items that help with boarding (a bomb weapon or a second combat-oriented crewmember), but this ship will usually be more effective as a gunship.
Stacking lasers is a very cost-effective way to progress through sectors, and their fast charge speed will prevent you from taking much damage, so you will accumulate scrap, drones, and missiles fairly easily. If you find a drone system or bomb/missile weapon late in the game, you can use it against the Rebel Flagship without needing to worry much about your inventory.
Layout C Edit
The ion stunner prevents enemy crew from repairing the system they're in. If combined with hacking or mind control, they may be unable to repair their shield, allowing you to focus fire on their weapons. It's also devastating in combination with a weapon that creates fire or hull breaches often, as they will not be able to go to the health bay, douse the fire, and/or repair the breach. A teleporter is also nice for any Lanius crew, but just be sure not to stun them while they're in the room which you're ioning. Its layout is amazing for dealing with boarders, though try to have crew located in the weapons room along with level 2+ doors, and then it should be smooth sailing. Send in your Lanius if you need to distract any boarders or drain the oxygen faster, though be sure to temporarily power off the oxygen system in order to speed up this process. If you've got an important fight coming up and you've got a crew with low health (and a Clone Bay), it is usually wise to kill them from suffocation (or fire if currently present), in order that they won't get killed at an inopportune time.
Layout A Edit
This ship presents an unusual challenge, as it starts without Shields built-in, but if you compensate for this by the careful use of your built-in cloak, it should be manageable. Cloaking as soon as the enemy fires their first salvo should allow you to make it far enough to get shields, as the opponents shots will likely be evaded, and additionally, in the time you are cloaked, you can prepare to fire the weapons in a devastating salvo, ensuring a victory. From your starting weapons, the Dual Lasers come in handy with taking away the enemy's shield layers, the Mini Beam coming in handy at this point (despite its short beam), having the fastest charge time of beam weapons, and doing approximately 3-4 damage (varying on the opponents ship layout). By targeting these at the enemy ship's weapons, you'll usually be able to prevent any return of fire. Upgrading the cloak should be one of the first priorities for early game, along with obtaining a penetrating weapon (not another beam) and acquiring the actual Shield system (which is sold in some stores for 125 scrap). If you can make it through the first couple sectors in one piece, you'll likely find yourself in a great position.
It is also possible to beat the game without shields, but then you need to compensate with other means of disrupting enemy fire - Bombs, Hacking and Defense Drones in the main. Anti-drones will be essential as enemy Combat drones represent the greatest threat to a ship without shields.
Layout B Edit
If you're a risk-taker at heart, the Layout B Stealth Cruiser can be a great ship for taking on the higher difficulty sectors: you may die a few times in Sector 1 or 2 upon getting started, but if you can make it past the beginning, you'll likely be in superb shape. This is because you start with not only a Cloak system, but one of the most powerful weapons in the game, the Glaive Beam. You'll be somewhat vulnerable during the extensive 25 seconds it takes to charge, and its 4 reactor power requirement means that early on, any hit to your weapons will interrupt and drain the charge, likely leaving you attempting to beat a hasty retreat. However, the Glaive Beam can do 9-15 damage (3 damage per room × 3-5 rooms) from a single ray (depending on the enemy ship layout), which can obliterate the majority of ships found within the first 2-3 sectors. Early on, you’ll need to rely on your cloak to avoid damage; depending on the tactical situation, you have the choice to cloak immediately at the beginning of battle to keep enemy weapons from charging, asteroids from hitting, or delaying boarders. You can also cloak when the enemy ship launches its first volley (considerably the wiser choice of the two), usually causing it to miss and thus gaining even more time. If you can find enough time for your Glaive Beam to fire, you usually won't take any damage after this as long as you target intelligently, hitting crucial systems or just packed clusters of empty rooms. For ships that have shield strength one, start your beam in their shield room; the subsequent rooms will take full damage as the shields become disabled. This should be taken into consideration when using other beam weapons as well. Your Cloak starts at level 2 and should be upgraded to level 3 as soon as possible, giving you significantly longer to get your Glaive Beam charged while taking little to no damage. Once you get through the first couple sectors, focus on finding new ways to take down enemy shields; the Glaive Beam can handle the job alone. Once you're in the clear, try to build up a reserve of 125 Scrap so that you can pick up Shields at a store, as this system is by far one of the most important to have during battle. Note that the engines only have 2 bars. Hacking is also a valuable asset, as it can easily drain up to 4 layers of shield, leaving the enemy defenseless against the force of the legendary Glaive Beam. Equipping the weapon pre-igniter will give you a significant advantage at the start of combat, as you can instantly fire the glaive beam along with any penetrating weapons, taking down some enemy ships instantly.
Layout C Edit
The vulnerability of this layout belies its potential strength. Unique to Layout C is a power efficient version of the Shield Overcharger, being one of the only ships other than the Zoltan to have alike. Being the only non-Engi ship to possess a 3 space drone bay, this gives much greater versatility for Drones to be activated, either defensively or offensively. Indeed, combining this specialized Shield Overcharger with 2 Defense Drones Mark II (for a total of 8 power - the max) could render a normal shield system practically useless - granting near-invulnerability to Hacking, non-event boarding, and a vast number of projectiles (such as those from the dreaded Flak II), provided that your drones are up as soon as battle starts, and enemy weapon systems are targeted first. This in turn costs massive amounts of drone parts to maintain, or requires the Drone Recovery Arm. In Certain cases, this is not recommended as some rooms are vulnerable to Hacking despite Drone use.
Furthermore, a slightly improved version of the Laser Charger (S) gives versatility in early combat - important with only 3 weapons spaces. This hints at the strength of charger weapons in general. Storing multiple charges allows for a focused fire to punch through defence, at which point single charge shots can be used to chip away at the enemies systems (shoot weapons first).
This all comes at the cost of the Cloak however, meaning the early game is significantly harder until suitable defences are acquired and upgraded.
This Layout does still keep its Long-Range Scanners - and these will be vital early on to avoid dangerous environments, of which asteroid fields are by far the most deadly. However, once you've obtained suitable defences to the main dangers FTL has to offer it might be wise to trade this augment in for something more useful in direct combat.
It's highly suggested to install the Cloaking system, as this will add energy to generating layers of the super shield and building up weapon charges, and give some further defense against Ion weapons, leaving just beam weapons and drones as threats, which can be mitigated by either a hacking device or a skilled boarding team.
As this build is so drone-heavy, acquire a Drone Recovery Arm - and your defenses become free! It can easily be swapped out towards the end of the game (Sector 6+) when you should have stockpiled a large number of drones.
Layout A Edit
The Mantis Cruiser is one of the few ships that have no starting Sensors on board, which makes getting information of your ship status difficult. It is possible to buy a Sensor system if you find one in a store.
With 3 mantis, an engi, and a teleporter, it is hard to mess up in the beginning, annihilating enemy crew. However, because of tiresome balance, it has no sensor, the starting weapons are weak, and you can only have one activated at a time. When facing AI ships, use the Small Bomb on the shields, then peck at it with the basic laser. With Zoltan ships, take down the Zoltan shield with the basic laser, then proceed as normal i.e. killing the enemy crew.
Later on, you'll need stronger weapons, but that isn't too hard with your increased scrap gains. Go for peaceful areas for easier pickings, then upgrade your weapons until teleporting and weapons work together. Alternatively, get drones and boarding drones to completely dominate boarding.
Layout B Edit
With 2 shields, it's unlikely that many enemies early on will be much trouble, but the piloting and engines only have one bar. Focus on getting level 2 piloting and engines A.S.A.P. to have any dodge chance. It is also important to purchase either two more mantis or rock crew members, the former being better as they are faster and deal with boarders more quickly, as they will be useful for boarding other ships. You should also purchase an engi crew member to act as a mechanic, as mantis crew members repair systems slower. If the enemy has missiles, use the defense drone if you send your entire crew over. However, you don't need to worry about your crew being stranded, as if the teleporter is damaged and there's nobody there to repair it you'll get an event about taking a shuttle back to your ship. For AI and zoltan-shielded encounters, just pop a defense drone if needed, or use a zoltan shield bypass augment to get past the shield in advanced edition. and wait until you can jump away (or get level 2 teleporters to chip away at systems). This is why it is also important to obtain weapons for your ship as early as possible because this ship starts with no weapons. It is best to invest in strong weapons as this ship only allows up to three weapon slots as opposed to the usual four. If your ship is outfitted with emergency respirators then that will make damaging AI ships easier as you can send boarding parties to attack the ship without fear of suffocation. Taking them on with boarding drones is impractical and not worth it early on, unless it is the AI variant with doors linking the 5 rooms. Focus on getting crew and weapons as early as possible, so that AI and manned ships are nothing to you. This ship is extremely powerful later in the game if you chose to board frequently. Just be careful not to lose 4 crew members to a fleeing ship or forgetting to turn off your cannons. Since this ship lends itself to a dedicated boarding strategy, a Mind Control is a superb additional system to purchase, however, this in turn requires the last slot available, and makes your ship more vulnerable to Automated ships, Slugs, or battles where cloaking is generally standard.
Layout C Edit
This ship has trouble earlier on in the game (especially with A.I. Ships). Having no damaging weapons can be a problem. However, you have a lanius, crew teleporter AND a stun bomb. You can teleport a lanius and some mantis over to a four-room system, wait for your stun bomb to charge and get your mantis out of there and stun the heck out of the room the lanius is in. Nothing will be able to attack it, and the oxygen will slowly get drained away in that room, killing off the possibly 4 enemy crew members in there while your mantis wrecks other systems. It is recommended to get some sort of weapon that can actually deal hull damage, so that you don't have to send your Lanius on repeated suicide missions (every time a system breaks the ship will take 1 hull damage, allowing a Lanius to slowly dismantle unmanned ships). The Stun Bomb is very effective against Zoltan Shields, so make sure to use them against enemies that have them. The Reconstructive Teleport is a good augment to have, especially with a clone bay.
Layout A Edit
With shields and a non-lethal weapon, if you happen to find yourself up against a non-threatening (carrying only a non-piercing beam weapon, or one single-shot laser) target in the early game, you can easily train your crew member's skills, if you're so inclined.
Set your Ion Blast Mark II to autofire into the enemy ship, position your crew members in the room you'd like them to gain skill in, and walk away. This is suitable for almost all ships that can't pierce your shields, and if you get bored, fire Ion on enemy oxygen to have extra fun and benefits.
It is possible to completely level all your crew members in all disciplines but repairing and combat (weapons, shields, engine, and piloting) this way. The bonuses that high skill levels offer are huge and potentionally gamebreaking benefits.
A key addition to this ship are bomb-type weapons. Ion Bombs are great later in the game against enemies with more than 2 shields, including the Rebel Flagship. The Ion blast and bombs can keep the shields down while your drones go to work on the hull. A Small Bomb or other type of launcher can selectively take out systems as needed. With good timing, beam weapons can be used to deadly effect by firing at the split-second moment that the enemy's first layer of shield is still regenerating. A Drone Recovery Arm is great, too, because it allows you to use your drones unfettered. Upgrade doors because Engi are weak at hand-to-hand combat, and if you have the opportunity to get Rock or Mantis crew, do so. The Teleporter is not advised on this ship, unless you are getting the system for blue storyline options.
It's worth noting how ridiculously powerful multiple attack drones can be. Early on, two attack drones will bring down shields and slaughter ship hull, while later, upgrading one attack drone to Mark II or getting three can take down even 4 layer shields. Add your own weapons and the enemy will start crying. A combination of a cloaking field, a defense drone, and 2 ship combat drones can be a powerful strategy for defeating the flagship. By switching drones from offence to defense when needed and using cloak to avoid heavy attacks, you can avoid the majority of the Rebel Flagship's salvos.
Layout B Edit
The initial armaments are decent and cover all angles in the beginning, but the ship gets hard to use quickly. The layout of the ship is one of its advantages, it's tightly packed so it's easy to reach any point of the ship, and that can make it easily manned later on, the teleporter and medbay are next to each other so you can make this a decent boarding ship, though as only the airlocks are empty rooms any hit that gets through the shields will most likely hit something important. The starting crew is mostly stuck at the helm, you have to use your drones to repair systems and to fend off boarders, and your starting weapons are barely enough to get you by the first 2 sectors. It's a good idea to have most of the ship vented, and investing in lvl2 blast doors to lock the boarders in the vented areas (only the helm and medbay and the room in between need oxygen) until you get more crew, and as soon as you start to get more crew, it's wise to swap most of the on board drones out to more offensive ones (and thus rendering the initial augment of the ship mostly useless so you may as well sell it), unless you get really lucky weapon drops/shops early on, as it's easy to fill the maximum of 8 power sockets with 3 powerful/decent weapons. If you can't get crew, better weapons, or offensive drones fast enough (the more of these the better) you'll have a really hard time beyond sector 2 where you cannot find opponents with less than 2 points of shields. In the end this ship has a rough start so if you want some extra challenge from the game, fly this ship for fun.
Layout C Edit
Starting with a Defense Scrambler and a Beam Drone, this ship depends on removing the enemy shields via hacking and the Dual Lasers. Drone parts are often a major concern, and you are unable to shoot through level 2 shields without using some. Upgrading hacking early-on helps you keep down the enemy ships' shields much longer, so your beam drone can wreak havoc and damage the enemy ship. It may also be a good idea to swap the default Lanius pilot for one of the Engi crew you start with, otherwise all new crew you gain will take some damage (since they'll spawn in the oxygen deprived cockpit) .
As the door subsystem is located next to the piloting seat, you don't need to upgrade doors as much as you have to with the Layout A or B. Therefore, you may spend your early scrap on getting another layer of shields, and some bonus evasion. Getting some more offensive drones is also recommended, as they synergize very well with the hacking. A drone Recovery Arm is particularly useful early-on
Later, this ship usually relies on its hacking and massive drone army to destroy the enemy ship. Due to the Defense Scrambler, Anti-Combat drones should not be a problem, and the drones destroy Zoltan shields pretty easily. However, without upgrading weapons, this ship cannot take out specific systems/subsystems, so having Mind Control, Teleportation and/or some advanced weaponry is highly advised against the Rebel Flagship.
Layout A Edit
The Artillery Beam ignores shields and does a lot of damage, so it is a good idea to strengthen the defenses (shields/engines) and let it do the work. This needs patience, but is worth the wait. If possible, destroy the enemy's missiles promptly (or get defense drones), as they bypass shields and hence pose a threat to the hull.
The Artillery Beam's path follows a specific algorithm. It finds the centers of two rooms and forms a path between them, with no limit on the length between them. It bypasses all shields and does one damage to each room hit.
Given the starting crew, a teleporter is a very useful purchase, although keep in mind that the Artillery Beam may hit your own boarders. For this reason, it is recommended that you do not purchase a teleporter until you have all of your other affairs in order (i.e. good augmentations, clone bay, systems that can still function well independent of an officer on that system, etc.). If you do plan to get a teleporter, make sure you either get a Clone Bay or you upgrade your teleportation systems in accordance with the Artillery.
Your airlocks are significantly more spread out compared to other ships, meaning that either upgraded door systems or a combat-ready crew are high priorities. Early on, Missile Based weapons are almost redundant, considering the Artillery Beam also penetrates shields. But, at the end of the game, if you evolved into more of a boarding-based ship, it might be worth considering getting a missile weapon, even if it means selling something else. Since the Artillery Beam doesn't destroy all systems, having something with the same effect can be pretty helpful.
But, if you apply the above strategy, and end up using boarding as the primary means of, well, winning, then the Zoltan Shield Bypass is nothing shy of IMPERATIVE when it comes to defeating the Flagship. On the first stage of the flagship, you can teleport in and destroy the weapons, and then just sit back and let the Artillery Beam do the work. On the second stage, you have to do something about drones. This is where it is valuable to get Missiles. While your missiles take care of the drones, you can eliminate the weaponry. Then, at the final stage, you will be very screwed without the Zoltan Shield Bypass. If you don't have it, it is recommended to have Cloaking, defensive drones, shields, and a fully upgraded artillery beam. With that strong of a defense, you can probably forge through the constant stream of fire, and let your artillery beam get through the super shield. Just know that if you do that, you will need all of your systems running. Again: To Make This Work, All Systems Must Be Functioning. So, Mind Control is going to mess you up, along with the invaders from the Flagship. Due to the spacing, it is hard to just flood out one section. Therefore, it is good to consider putting all your crew in empty rooms (except the pilot and possibly doors) and to upgrade your door system to the maximum. But, without the correct means to get rid of the weaponry on the flagship, you will struggle.
The starting weapon on this ship is able to get you through even late sectors, like 6 and 7, with proper upgrading of the Artillery Beam, engines, and shields. But, remember that you will be in for a rude shock when the flagship tears through you because you can't get through four shields. So, the moral of the story is you can procrastinate your upgrading of weapons, but you will have to upgrade weapons at some point in time if you want to win the game.
In Advanced Edition, the Federation Cruiser can get Cloaking, which is extremely powerful on this ship. Without it, defensive drones are a high priority for fighting the final boss.
I've heard that the Federation Cruiser is a ship that can focus entirely on defense because its offense is taken care of by the Artillery Beam but this isn't entirely true. While it is true that the Fed ships, when played correctly, will be lighter on weaponry and weapon power than other ships there are still one or two key weapons neccessary for success. The best defense is a good offense as they say. Shields and drones and evasion can protect you from harm but the best way to to avoid harm from other ships is to get them to stop firing at you.
To this end, a bomb or missile launcher trained on the enemy's weapon station is all that is needed to defend your ship while being much cheaper than getting drones running and without taking a subsystem slot. Shields can take care of lasers so that you don't need to waste missiles, and the missiles, along with upgraded evasion, can counter other missile users, and then it's just a wait for your Artillery Beam to slowly take out the opposing ship. This is the appeal of the Fed B which comes with a missile launcher, however I feel that the puny Leto missiles just don't cut it at end game, and the Fed A comes with Burst Laser 2 which is better than Dual Lasers.
Eventually a single laser gun will become mostly useless, but it helps you build up missiles in early game, and in late game when you can afford to upgrade to run your missile weapon and laser at the same time it can get your missiles past the Flag Ship's Defense Drone 2. It can also take down Zoltan Shields with no missile cost, which is especially helpful against the Flag Ship's regenerating Zoltan Shield. It is prudent to upgrade your Artillery Beam as the enemy will be constantly repairing their weapons and this will save missiles. it will also help to out DPS the Flag Ship who can eventually punch through your defenses.
It is arguable whether a Zoltan Bypass is desirable when fighting the Flag Ship. Missiles will see no benefit from it, and while Small Bombs can take out weapons early, if you have sold your 40 scrap laser to help pay for the bomb and it is your only weapon then it can't be used against the Zoltan Shield itself, reducing the Artillery Beam's effectiveness in the final battle.
Without drones you have two subsystems to help round out your defenses, although they don't become necessary until end game. I recommend Mind Control to counter other mind controllers and to slow down enemy weapon repairs, and Cloaking to dodge missiles and the Flag Ship's super weapon.
Layout B Edit
Layout B is functionally very similar to Layout A. It has the same modules, only 50 scrap worth of differences in upgrades, and both ships' weapons fire at the same rate for the same damage. The main differences are its smaller, different crew and a very different layout. As with before, defenses are very useful with this ship.
The basic two-shot laser you start out with is weak, but very power efficient and will likely last you for the full run. It goes well with the Leto missile launcher, which can take out the shields or cockpit first. However, as the Leto does only one point of damage yet uses a full bar of power, its usefulness drops later on. Because of this, the suggested strategy is to use missiles regularly early on, then focus on energy weapons only for the rest of the game.
Unlike Layout A, your starting crewmembers are hopeless at fighting. Fortunately, the ship's excellent layout makes it easy to suffocate boarders, as every room is close to an airlock, and enemies rarely try to attack the door control room. Additionally, a purchased cloak module will be placed next to the engine room, so the starting Zoltan should always stay as the engineer (and move between both rooms as needed) to save purchasing an extra power bar.
Because the two layouts are so similar, the commonly asked question is "Which layout is better?". This depends entirely on your preferred playstyle. Layout A has a larger crew specialised towards boarding and starting weapons that don't require missiles. Layout B starts with 50 scrap worth of upgrades, performs better in the early game, a better layout, and has a Zoltan (that can effectively provide two power bars with a Cloak).
Layout C Edit
Layout C is, for the most part, a suicidal boarding ship. It has an Artillery Flak Gun instead of an Artillery Beam, which can be used to shred a Zoltan supershield, for instance, before beaming in on your teleporter.
Due to the Clone Bay installed and the addition of Zoltans exploding upon death, this ship requires you to suicide bomb the opponent. As a result, a Level 3 Cloning Bay and a Level 3 teleporter go well together. Zoltan ships are not as much of an issue as they are to other ships, since the Flak Gun will punch straight through them, and you can suicide bomb Drones to submission.
Note however, that the Artillery Flak Gun lacks the shield-piercing capacities of the Artillery beam, meaning that it's essentially a slower-cooldown or more power-hungry version of the Flak Gun II. It still has its uses, as investing just 1 power can result in a punch-through burst later in a fight when combined with your other weapons, but unlike Layouts A and B it's simply not viable to rely purely on Artillery.
An alternative option is to level up the weapons system and rely on beam weapons and the Flak Artillery later on (the Flak Artillery, when fully powered on it's maximum rank has the same cooldown time as a Expert-manned Glaive Beam). This way, you can remove enemy shields with the Flak, and immediately follow up with up to 4 different beam weapons, leading to devastatingly high damage.
Layout A Edit
You begin with the Anti-Bio Beam, which usually takes 2 hits to kill an enemy crew member, 3 if the enemy crew member is a Rockman or Crystal since the weapon does 60 Crew damage. Later on, if you can deal some damage with normal weapons or boarders, you can reduce Rockman, Crystal and Zoltan hits by 1 fairly easily.
There are no sensors aboard this ship. However, Slugs can see the rooms they are adjacent to, and the locations of enemies onboard their vessel.
The weapon systems equipped on the default Slug Cruiser are designed to kill enemy ship crews. The Breach Bomb (which uses a missile) does good crew damage and damages systems but does no hull damage. The Anti-Bio Beam does heavy damage to crew but none to hull or shields. The Dual Laser should be used to temporarily disable shields, with the Anti-Bio Beam being fired immediately afterwards. This will allow the Anti-Bio Beam to bypass shields without having to destroy the enemy Shield room first. If both Dual Laser shots hit, you can successfully engage ships with two shields with the default weapon loadout. Ion weapons can be a good supplement to the Slug's arsenal. Caution is advised, however - this strategy doesn't aim at either the helm (to reduce their mobility) or weapons (to reduce their offensive power). Patience and a decent shield will be your best weapon with this strategy.
Try to stick to slug only members, so you have 100% immunity against mind control. Viable systems are hacking for taking down shields, mind control for weakening enemy crew, and teleporters if your other weapons aren't cutting it.
As for the flagship: board the missiles, hack the shields, mind control the pilot, to nullify their dodge chance, and the crew members can't do anything about it, since hacking disables their doors, thus it'll take time for them to get another pilot. Be sure to also take down their shields with something like a breach bomb, which will render their ship useless ,(this also works for hard mode, so you'll slow them from repairing the missiles/lasers)
It is extremely useful to try and acquire Mind Control and a Zoltan Shield/ Shield Overcharger of any type as boarding parties are extremely dangerous, especially if it is a Mantis and Rockman. Mind Control is useful if there is a powerful crew-member unlike the others i.e. human, human, rock, to cause some chaos in the enemy ship. Zoltan Shield/ Shield Overcharger is useful in case of a missile weapon of the enemy. Since the Man Of War starts with no drone parts, it is wise to take into careful consideration when to use the Overcharger.
Layout B Edit
Initially lacking both a medbay and sensors, plus only missile-utilizing weaponry, this ship can be very difficult to manage, and is more a challenge for the experienced than a realistically balanced beginning ship. The focus early-on should be on conserving missiles and scrap, for otherwise you'll end up expending both very quickly. Fortunately, the starting teleporter can give you an edge, especially when used in conjunction with the Healing Burst, if used with precision. Artemis missiles should only be expended if the enemy ship's weapons are particularly threatening, or if they have a medbay.
If you play your cards right and get frequent stores, the securing of ammo-less weaponry and your own medbay system ensures a much smoother ride. As a slug ship, you need no longer fear nebula systems, and by aiming for them, you earn yourself bonus time to explore, thus earning more scrap with which to upgrade in preparation for the endgame. Also, with five airlocks and pre-upgraded blast doors, ship defense, most common in nebulas, is a breeze.
Layout C Edit
One of the most versatile starting ships and the only ship to start with both Mind Control and Hacking, this ship has many different and powerful builds, especially with a starting Chain Burst Laser. Early-on you can easily make enemy crew suffocate by hacking then destroying the enemy ships' Oxygen system, and then Mind Controlling the enemy crew trying to repair it. Should they still be able to repair it, you can reactivate hacking to drain it further more, and destroy it with another volley of your starting Laser. This way, you can have increased rewards in the early sectors, which can give you an edge later if you invest in more shield layers, increased evasion and/or more powerful weapons.
Starting with a level 2 Doors subsystem and a Mind Control, this ship is quite strong against early boarding parties. Be careful, though, as Mind-controlled enemies can pass through your doors just as if they were friends!
Later, this ship can be enhanced a couple of ways. Due to hacking, both Drones and Beam Weapons are a great addition to its arsenal, as Hacking can remove enemy shields. Alternatively, you can acquire weapons cabable of firing many shots, and disable the enemies' helm or engines, leading to a guaranteed hit on all your shots. Bombs synergize very well with your Oxygen-denying capabilities, and Teleporting is also a welcomed addition, as you have Mind Control to turn the battles' tides, and Hacking, which can serve as a weaker Lockdown.
Layout A Edit
With the two missile launchers you start out with, you can easily penetrate shields, removing the difficulty of having to disable shields before damaging systems. Try to conserve the missiles as much as you can; 28 might seem like a lot to start out with, but it goes fast when you fight tough enemies. If the enemy ship has four hull left, instead of using two artemis missiles, conserve by using one hull missile instead; in fact, it may even be worthwhile, especially if they have slow repairman, to first knock out enemies' weapons with the artemis, then maximize damage by only targeting empty rooms with hull missiles for the remainder of the fight. All of the doors and empty rooms allow for you to suffocate enemies easily. The rockets make fighting ships with Defense Drones hard, but firing both at once forces the drone to shoot only one. The rock plating allows you to worry less about shields up until around sector 3 or 4, when the enemies start leveling up their shields.
Because this ship relies heavily on missiles, you must make it a priority to go to a store and purchase a weapon that doesn't require ammo. Ideally, you should have a different weapon by the end of Sector 1; if you have not taken much damage consider saving scrap and not upgrading until you have done so.
Note that the internal layout of the various rooms allows for very effective venting against boarders and internal fires. With the addition of a large number of rockmen crew to start with, fire fighting can be done with ease.
Layout B Edit
The pierce laser makes this ship more than a match for most early enemies you encounter. There are many ways to play this ship, but making use of the fire bombs is especially fun. They are ridiculously powerful when used correctly. To do this, you'll need a teleporter ASAP. Once you have the teleporter, firebomb a high-priority room, and once the charge goes off, teleport 2 rock crewmembers into the burning room. If your enemies aren't rock people, they will take damage from the fire while you fight them, as well as the system in the room. Systems cannot be repaired if they are on fire, and fires cannot be put out if your crew is there. When you start encountering ships with med bays, these will be top priority. Enemies exhibit very strange behaviors sometimes when their ship is on fire. As a result, the achievement for killing a burning enemy crew member can be extremely difficult to get, although the crystal lockdown ability makes this easier. Another way that you can get this achievement is by mind controlling the people in that room, making no need for a teleport. Make sure that you target a high health enemy, like a Rockman.
Conserving a hull breach in a systemless room may prove useful as it can be used to vent rooms. Use with caution!
Be careful when using firebombs with Rockmen boarders. Fire doesn't affect Rockmen, but on detonation, the firebomb outputs a bit of damage that can kill low health Rockmen. It is advised to launch a firebomb before beaming your Rockmen aboard, or moving them out of the room, firing a bomb, then moving them back in.
Layout C Edit
The Heavy Crystal and the Swarm missiles can make early sectors quite easy, as you can penetrate a layer of shields without any problem, therefore you can focus your funds on defense early-on. Selling the starting augment is a great option, especially on higher difficulty levels, as you have drastically reduced scrap rewards there.
Note that the first shot of the Swarm missile charges faster than almost any other weapon; if you immediately target the enemy's weapon system, you may be able to avoid any damage in early battles. The Heavy Crystal weapon is objectively terrible; like a missile, it can be targeted by defense drones, but unlike a missile, it only pierces one shield. It also has a relatively long charge time. You should replace it at the earliest opportunity.
This ship's greatest advantage is its Crystal crewmember, who can make defending against boarders much easier, and can be a valuable asset should you invest into boarding. If you activate the lockdown ability just as the Crystal crewmember is leaving a room (the key is to activate it while the Crystal crewmember is still in the original room but the door to the next room has already opened), you can lock enemies into a room while leaving your Crystal crewmember free.
It is also much easier to unlock the Crystal Cruiser with this ship, as you needn't get the pod and find a Zoltan Research station to get a Crystalline Being.
Later, you should replace your rockets with some non-missile weapons, and get some stronger armaments to be able to destroy the enemies, or invest in boarding, either with a Mantis or Rockman and your Crystal crewmember. Crystalline Beings are also great when paired with Lanius, as they can lock enemies into Oxygenless rooms, while themselves suffer only reduced suffocation damage.
Layout A Edit
Proper use of the Halberd Beam makes the first two sectors of the game fairly straightforward, because most enemies will have only one shield level. Just remember to try to strike as many rooms as possible: begin at the tip of one room and cut corners of as many other rooms as possible. If you strike the enemy shield room, and knock out their shield, damage to any further rooms is doubled. For this reason, it is best to begin your beam sweep in a shield room, all other things being equal. Sometimes it is better to maximize the number of rooms you sweep, even if you end up hitting empty rooms; at other times it is better to take out key systems.
Once you start encountering enemies with two or more shield levels, you may want to use missiles to take out their shields or use an ion weapon. It is best to time your beam shots precisely when the enemy shield is hit, rather than putting your beam weapon on auto-fire.
Also note that the Zoltan Shield does not require the normal shield to be powered. So, while it is, feel free to take all your power out of your shields. If you improve engines, you can put the power saved from shields into the engine, which means you'll take fewer hits to that shield. As a general rule, when faced with a choice of buying a system upgrade versus extra power in the main reactor, it is usually a good idea to upgrade a system even if it cannot be powered continuously. This gives you more room to juggle power distribution and meet particular demands.
Other strategic points: The Weapons Pre-Igniter is incredibly valuable, especially for weapons with a long loading time like the Halberd Beam. Once you get a fourth crew member, move him or her into the pilot's chair so your former pilot's Zoltan energy can power one of the systems. (It's wasted in the captain's chair.) As with other ships, for the final battle it is advisable to have level 3 Shields, a Defense Drone Mk II, and a minimum evasion of 45%.
Layout B Edit
With no shields, this is one of the most time-dependent ships that exists. Until you get 100 scrap for Level 2 Shields, you have to fight as fast as you can. Ionize shields and weapons (if you have Level 2 or better Shields and you are fighting a two-shield ship, just shields) to unleash the full potential of the Pike Beam. Consider finding other ion weapons or Automated Reloaders to speed enemy shield depletion. Once you get past the 100 scrap barrier, this becomes an extremely respectable build. Properly used, the starting weapon combo can devastate most ships you'll encounter until the late game. Upgrade the weapon system a point or two and add a low-power multi-shot weapon like a flak gun or a burst laser to take down a third layer of shield, and you'll encounter few threats you can't take down with ease.
Layout C Edit
4 zoltans, a rank 2 Backup Battery and clone bay should fulfil all your zoltan-related needs late into the game. Your initial combo will be utilising the Ion Charger to disable shields while your drone obliterates the opponents ship, likely powering the drone with the backup battery.
Indeed, so reactor un-intensive is this ship that Ion storms, weapons and pulsar planets will pose little to no problem to you early on, giving a tactical edge against enemies.
You shouldn't waste power allocated to the shield initially, as it won't be hit until after the Super-shield is taken down, instead allocate to engines to preserve the Super-Shield longer.
The Battery Charger is the go-to augmentation to acquire for this particular ship. Getting one early will give you a distinct advantage.
Purchase system upgrades, but go easy on reactor upgrades. Give yourself room to allocate power according to the situation. Power engines while the Zoltan Shield is up. Power shields when it's down. Turn off oxygen when the battery is on recharge, refill quickly when it's up. Cloning bay only needs to be on if someone dies. This will save you oodles of scrap early on, so you'll have plenty to spend later on to fill out your power needs.
Layout A Edit
This cruiser starts with crystal weapons that act much like lasers, except they completely ignore one - and only one - shield and pass right through it. This is one of your biggest advantages: since you don't need to take down the last shield to damage an enemy ship, all enemy ships have their shields effectively reduced by one. This will even make fighting almost any ship (including the flagship) a lot easier. That said, don't get complacent and start thinking that the entire game will be easy: crystal weapons can and will be shot down by defense drones, and you must still supplement the crystals with other weapons if you want them to stay effective in later sectors. Avoid the temptation to spend your money on useless things or you will find yourself unable to fight ships in sector 6 and above. If you manage to get a missile weapon and a laser (at least dual lasers), you should be offensively fine, even in the very late game. A crew teleporter is a very good investment since the ship starts with 2 crystal crew members, along with their racial lockdown powers. The Crystal Vengeance augmentation the ship comes with has a 10% chance to fire a single Crystal projectile at the enemy whenever your ship is damaged: unlike ordinary crystal weapons, the Crystal Vengeance cannot be dodged, and penetrates ALL shields. While it can definitely turn the tide of a battle, it's not desirable for a boarding strategy. If you do go for a boarding build, it's best to sell this augmentation to avoid accidentally killing your boarding crew. It costs 40 scrap.
The room arrangement is, simply put, very odd: there are several natural bottlenecks that can be useful in the event the ship is boarded, but the arrangement is far from the best for constantly shuffling your own crew around in battle or putting out fires. For that reason, Rock crew maybe desired for their durability and immunity to fire, Otherwise, you should probably lean towards human crew since they are the most multi-functional race.
NOTE: This is a very strong ship with many strategies, but is only advised for experienced players, due to it's strange room arrangement.
Layout B Edit
The only thing you can do is board enemy ships at the start, and this strategy continues to be the ship's best throughout the game. However, at the start, you can't get past Zoltan shields and AI ships are almost unbeatable without sacrificing a crewmember (The Crystal racial ability of reduced suffocation damage allows your crew time to damage and destroy systems without life support even with level 1 teleporters. The final, killing point of damage must be done with the Crystal Vengeance.) To do boarding without taking damage, you have to be fast. Beam 2 of your crew into the enemies' weapons room and lock it down with your Crystal Being power before the enemy crew enters the room. To get more time, use your stealth as soon as the enemy ship fires its weapons. You should be able to take down their weapon systems without taking any damage and beam in your third crew member to combat the enemy crew. The Crystal B is probably the easiest ship to board The Rebel Flagship with since there are three Crystal crew to lockdown the med-bay with and that gives you time to smash the med-bay, or pick off the crew one by one as they can't flee there. It's a good idea to purchase a mantis crew member for boarding purposes. Crystal crew already have an increase to their health so having a mantis crew member when boarding will provide valuable damage per second to systems and crew members. At least one more crew member should be purchased as well to be a pilot while your three crystal crew members and your mantis crew member board the enemy ship.
With the addition of Advanced Mode, this ship's position as one in of the best in the game is further solidified. At the expense of 50 scrap (or 10 if you sell the vengeance) a clone bay can be purchased, which eliminates the majority of weaknesses the original had.
AI ships can now be defeated by allowing one or more crystal crewmembers to land a killing blow - killing the crewmember but allowing them to be revived by the clone bay.
Any form of weapon to strip away Zoltan shields, or a zoltan shield bypass augment, and potentially a reconstructive teleporter augment (to heal the crystals without needing to resurrect them) and this ship can tackle any problem with minor expense. The only problem is it will take time, as damage can only be inflicted to systems by crew, and this does minor hull damage. Any weapon once the crystals have stripped the shields will expedite this.
Layout A Edit
This ship starts with 2 Lanius crew members and one human. Its starting weapons include the chain burst laser and the ion stunner. In the early sectors it is wise to wait the 16 seconds and fire the ion with the laser to achieve max penetration (ion first to down shield). Hacking is also a great asset, but use it sparingly in the early sectors as it is easy to do without it. Get a teleporter soon, as a Lanius pair makes for an excellent boarding team. Note that if you do get a teleporter hire crew to supplement your now unmanned systems. Try to switch out your weapons for better ones, as you will encounter problems as early as sector 3 or 4 where double shielded enemies appear. Perhaps get a burst laser 2 or Flak if possible. A rather brilliant strategy, if you have the patience, is to hack the oxygen then follow up with Lanius members occupying the oxygen room, who will then destroy the system. The enemy crew will die due to asphyxiation provided you take out the enemy's clone or medbay if they have any. The AI will avoid deoxygenated rooms (mostly) so your Lanius members could fight the enemy crew, and retreat back to the broken O2 room to speed up the process. Try to avoid Abandoned sectors as they detract from your major advantage: not needing oxygen, but the blue options, as well as the opportunity to take on more Lanius crewmen, can often be worth it.
Layout B Edit
Equipped with a Teleporter and Mindcontrol, this ship makes an excellent boarding ship. It also starts out with an Adv. Flak, which functions similar to the Flak I. in that it fires 3 projectiles and can be used to great effect in the early to mid sectors. Usually, you'll want to target their weapons with the Flak and send your crew (2 Lanius, 1 Engi to man the helm) to either the shields or the helm and mind control one of their crew. The Lanius ability to drain oxygen together with Mindcontrol is an effective way of taking out enemy crew. Since you start with a Clone bay, consider letting your boarding crew die on the ship to revive them with full health later. Alternatively, you can switch to a Medbay or get the Reconstructive Teleportation augmentation to heal your boarders.Focus on getting 2 Shield Layers early and hire additional crew members to man your other systems. Picking up a cloaking device is also a good idea.
A cheeky tactic that remains viable at all levels is to use mind control and teleport to abduct enemies to your ship, though you'll need sensors or a slug to pull this off without teleporting in yourself. For smaller crew this can be devastating, robbing someone of a pilot or other role at the start of battle. Time it with flak-cannon shots for greatest effect, abducting just before the projectiles hit!
The Lanius' inherent air-draining abilities combine well with breach weapons. If possible, it is highly recommended to use breach missiles or breach bombs on rooms that you plan to teleport the Lanius into, as it will cause air to drain from the room even more quickly, and tip any subsequent melee encounters in the Lanius' favour. Installing a drone system is not specifically recommended, as it can be argued that the ship would benefit more from using the available system slot to install a hacking or cloaking system instead. However, Boarding drones or Intruder drones can provide excellent support to a Lanius boarding team through causing an additional hull breach, directly attacking enemy crew members or stunning the enemy crew respectively.
You don't need a lot of weapons to effectively use this ship but to beat the Rebel Flagship you need either bombs or missiles to disable their Medbay, followed by a teleportation there immediately after so that they cannot repair it. Using a Breach bomb on the Medbay is extremely effective if you are using Lanius in your boarding crew, as this ensures that this system and any other you may choose to target will be permanently disabled. Unless you have a laser weapon with a high fire rate such as the Vulcan, attempting to pierce the Flagship's shields with brute force is rarely effective.
The combination of mind control and the Lanius' air-siphon from boarding can benefit from the addition of a Hacking system. Use the hacking drone to lock down any four-by-four room, then teleport the Lanius into the hacked room. Although your boarding party will be initially outnumbered, use your mind control ability on an enemy crew member, and your boarding team can potentially outnumber the enemy crew by effectively having a three-member team all in one room. Normally, the Lanius' air-drain will cause enemy crew to stop combat and vacate into adjacent rooms when the air supply runs out, but If the room's doors have been locked down by hacking systems, the enemy crew will often be forced to stay in combat with the Lanius boarding party until they succumb to the mixture of air-deprivation and melee combat. Furthermore, the mind-controlled enemy crew member will receive damage from asphyxiation while assisting your boarding party, meaning that they will prove less of a problem after the mind-control system wears off.
An effective way to deal with boarders of your own is to vent all the oxygen in the ship except for the bridge. The problem with this strategy is you have to leave most of your doors open, allowing boarders to move freely throughout your vessel. You can also just kill off your Engi if you don't need him.
If you choose to employ this strategy, after mind controlling an enemy crew member they may be teleported back aboard your (oxygenless) ship. There they will die quickly, though after the effect wears off they will head to the nearest oxygenated room.
That, as the Lanius do not require oxygen, it can be considered viable to teleport them onto rebel automated-ships, where they can destroy the auto-ship's systems with impunity before returning to your own ship.