This section contains detailed information about systems (and subsystems) and their benefits and tactics related to each. For basic information check the systems page.
A system functions at the level it's currently powered at (not necessarily the level you've upgraded to), so when you're upgrading a system, if you want to benefit from your upgrade you usually need to upgrade your reactor as well.
If a system is fully destroyed, either by boarders or fire, the ship takes 1 hull damage.
It's worthwhile to have systems be upgraded beyond the capacity you can power, as unpowered system levels can still soak damage, thus keeping the lower levels from getting powered down until the damage reaches the powered levels. This tactic is better for later sectors, when your reactor is nearly maxed; on early sectors you'll be better off not wasting excess scrap on additional system levels, until you think you can get better weaponry/equipment or worthwhile system levels.
A bar of system level does not stop functioning unless that level is fully destroyed (only applies to fire and boarder damage, these are the only forms that gradually wear down a system, and not outright destroy a bar of system level). All damage taken goes to the highest functioning (not necessarily powered) level bar of a system. In addition, mannable systems that take ion damage lose their manning bonuses temporarily.
The Reactor's sole purpose is to generate power for all your systems. It can provide 25 bars of power, and if you are lucky and want to generate the most power possible you can have 7 more (8 if you're not manning the helm during combat) with zoltan crewmembers, capping at 32 (with a pilot at the helm). In later stages of the game this is not enough to power everything. The only benefit of having more power available than is used by your systems is that in a plasma storm (reducing your reactor output by 50%) you can still allocate enough power to your systems to put up a fight.
You can micromanage your power distribution anytime you want, however there are some limitations to this, active systems (Cloaking, Teleporter, Mind Control, Hacking) with cooldown periods lock the power they were used with until the end of the cooldown period, systems that are hacked get their power locked for the duration of the hacking pulse. Ion damage also forcibly removes power from a system, and makes you unable to repower it for a time, the power pushed out this way can be redistributed anywhere else.
Zoltan Power has to be mentioned here as well, because they can bypass these limitations, Power provided by a Zoltan can not be pushed out by Ion damage (, so for example, if you have 2 Zoltan in the Shield room you can ensure 1 points of shield that cannot be disabled even by constant Ion weapon barrage), this means you can ensure that key systems are not fully disabled by Ion damage, by stationing a Zoltan there. Also, on Systems that have their power distribution locked (due to hacking pulse or cooldown), if the power was provided by a Zoltan, you can freely move the Zoltan to power something else, this way you can power down a system that you would otherwise be unable to.
These systems cannot be manually unpowered (there's no point in doing so either).
Piloting allows you to charge the FTL and dodge attacks. At level 1, it must be manned to use, and subsequent levels increase evasion while unmanned.
Don't underestimate the worth of evasion, as missiles and bombs bypass all shields - certain high damage beam weapons can also partially pierce low-level shields. This becomes especially crucial if you don't use defense drones, or you don't yet have a drone system.
Most ships start with level 1 sensors installed (Stealth Cruiser type A and B have level 2 sensors to begin with). Generally upgrading or installing this system is not high priority, but it can grant a decent amount of event options (especially in nebulae) and is a huge boon when killing crew or boarding ships.
As of the Advanced Edition, the sensors can be manned. Putting a crew member in the sensor room causes it to act as one level higher.
Even with no sensors, you can see a number of things, including:
- Enemy system damage levels - Shows three levels of damage: Green is fully functional, orange is damaged, red is destroyed.
- All details of rooms with your crew in it.
- System power levels, and damage dealt to them. As such, you can tell if there are boarders or fires in any given room.
- Overall oxygen percentage.
With level one sensors, you can see all details of your ship's rooms. With level two, you can see all details of enemy ship rooms, and with level three, you can see energy use of the enemy to the same level of detail as you can see your own.
First level sensors (the default for most ships) is good for tracking boarders, spread of fires, the state of oxygen in the ship, and information for other damage control duties.
Second level sensors have some use in ship-to-ship combat, and grant a lot of useful information for boarding. Knowing where the enemy crew is on board their ship, knowing what systems are manned, and what kinds of defense or repair drones they have can be key. Try to attack weaker, isolated crew (engi and zoltan) once medbays are down one way or another. Level 2 sensors also unlock many blue options, especially in nebulas.
As of Advanced Edition, the third level of the sensors reveal the charge level of enemy weapons. This can be helpful if you plan on disabling/destroying the enemy Weapons Control, for timing of Cloaking, or the use of a Backup Battery.
As of Advanced Edition the fourth level sensors - only attainable by manning a third level system - reveals the enemy System/Subsystem levels, power distribution, and damage/ion damage taken. This information can help gunships decide how to prioritize destroying/disabling enemy systems, and is especially crucial for ion-gunships to know how long each system will remain disabled. It is also very useful when boarding ships (for timing teleports in or out), if the enemy has Cloaking, and to know how hard it will be to destroy the enemy crew/boarding crucial systems.
A more important system than it seems, doors can control boarders, fire, and oxygen distribution. Higher levels of the system hold boarders and fire back for a longer period. A fully disabled door system makes you unable to manually control your doors (your crew can still pass through doors). Upgraded doors give you the following advantages:
- Controlling boarders - Either to hold them in systemless rooms so they cannot inflict damage until your crew arrives to keep them busy/defeat them, or until you can suffocate them by opening nearby airlocks.
- Controlling fire - Higher level doors both slow down fires when spreading between rooms, and can help vent the fires. Additionally, fires reduce the oxygen level in the room and quickly die when there is no oxygen, so by containing the fire you can extinguish it. This works best when you don't care if the fire burns for a while, such as in a systemless room or if the room is already destroyed and won't immediately help your battle.
- Oxygen distribution - By opening doors near a low-oxygen room, you can partially equalize oxygen levels, making the oxygen level safe in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, if you open airlocks, the attached room instantly drops to no oxygen. If you open every door, your ship will usually be entirely vented in a matter of seconds.
As of the Advanced Edition, the Door Controls can be manned. Putting a crew member in the Door Control room causes it to act as one level higher. At max rank, the doors become Super-Blast Doors, and hold fires/boarders at bay for even longer, easily allowing you time to move your crew and vent the oxygen, or focus on ship combat first.
Another benefit of being able to man the Doors system, is that even with a non-upgraded Doors system, you can have basic Blast Doors to control fires and invaders safely.
A fairly straightforward sub-system, it grants 2-4 bars of power for its duration. The power bars granted by it are allocated after regular reactor power, and have a distinctly different looking power bar, to show what will lose power when the duration ends.
Another notable feature is that power granted by it is not halved by plasma storm, so if you plan on, or are forced to enter several nebula sectors, but can't reliably avoid plasma storms, then this might be a worthwhile investment.
It has little use in early game, because generally you're better off with upgrading the reactors for a more reliable source of power.
These systems need to be powered. Not all systems can be powered at once if every system of your ship is at its highest level, since fully powering all systems would require 44 power (45 with the federation cruiser) - to see how much power you can provide, see above.
As of Advanced Edition each ship can have 8 primary system installed from a selection of 11, this results in a more flexible building of ships, allowing to tailor your ship to a preferred playstyle.
There are some more or less extreme cases where previous limitations no longer apply:
- Federation Cruiser - now can install Cloaking system.
- Stealth Cruiser (all layouts) - starts without Shield system, the system is not mandatory, can install a different 8th system.
- Slug Cruiser B - starts without Medbay/Clone bay system, the system is not mandatory, can install a different 8th system.
Each layer of shield can soak up 1 laser shot or reduce beam damage by 1. Ion weapons also hit active shields, dealing their ion damage to the shield system directly (while the shields are still up, ion weapons targeted at other systems will hit shields instead).
Generally, you want 2 layers of shields almost immediately. The upgrade is fairly inexpensive (50 scrap) and makes you immune to almost all enemies (besides those equipped with missiles or bombs) in the first two or three sectors - which will theoretically save you more scrap in potential repairs than its cost. The third layer should generally be bought in the third or fourth sector, when enemies start reliably piercing 2 layers of shields. A fourth layer is less than efficient for scrap cost, but if there's excess scrap to go around it's always a good choice, especially if you plan on defeating the Rebel Flagship.
These guidelines generally apply to ships without Zoltan shields/Shield Drone. Ships equipped with such gear can generally delay acquiring shield upgrades by a few sectors.-
As of Advanced Edition, Ion Weapons have a small chance of stunning crew in the room they hit, and there are dedicated stun weapons with minor Ion damage that guarantee a stun in the room they hit. When one such weapon hits the shields (and not the system room itself) it can stun the crew member manning the shields.
Engines grant extra dodge chance and FTL charge rate when powered. For the first few levels, it increases dodge by 5% an upgrade, then drops to 3% at level 6, while FTL charge rate improves by 25% for every level. Engines early on are cheap (10, 15, 30 and 40 scrap for levels 2 to 5), add a bit of luck-based defense, and can be extremely helpful for their cost. Later on, they become somewhat of a reliable defense, as a maxed pilot and maxed, manned engines gives over 50% dodge rate. It's a good idea to get level 3 engines almost immediately, and level 5 engines after a couple of sectors.
On Zoltan/Stealth ships that have a hard time upgrading their shields initially, it's extremely beneficial to upgrade the Engines, as it drastically increases survivability until they can upgrade their shields.
High level engines also can give you a few blue options in various situations, the cutoffs being level 4 and 6. Level 6 is fairly expensive for its lowered effect, but level 4 is a cheap and effective investment.
This increases the rate at which oxygen is generated/regenerated in your ship. The first level of this should be powered at all times to prevent mass suffocation. The higher levels are good for restoring oxygen faster to the ship after it's been vented (manually or through a breach). While it's best to keep this system on 1 power to prevent suffocation, in an emergency (fires, boarders or a powerful opponent) you can turn it off for a temporary energy boost. Higher levels are mostly for damage control: Level 2 can ensure atmosphere is sustained if the system is unexpectedly hit, and level 3 regenerates oxygen so fast it can counteract the drain from a single hull breach/Lanius crew and keep the room breathable, making the breach repairable without the danger of suffocation. However, in general, higher level oxygen is not very worthwhile and power is best put into more multi-purpose systems.
As of Advanced Edition, with the introduction of the Lanius, the oxygen system plays a much larger role:
- Hacking random events that would fully disable an non-upgraded oxygen system can now be countered if you have hacking installed
- With a Lanius crewmember you can safely repair in rooms with low oxygen. This is extremely helpful when the oxygen system itself is in such a state and is destroyed.
- Emergency Respirators allow regular crew to survive longer in low oxygen environments -Crystal crew extremely so, as their racial stacks with this effect-.
on the other hand:
- Sharing/passing through a room that is primarily occupied by a Lanius crew is hazardous for regular crew unless you use third level oxygen systems to keep the whole ship habitable for the rest of the races.
This heals crew that are inside it. Most of the time, this can remain unpowered, as it is usually only needed if crew are injured. In combat, it is generally only useful if boarders enter near or inside of the Medbay, or if you have Engi Medbot Dispersal (which does not provide any additional benefits through upgrading the Medbay). Outside of battle, generally you should fully heal all of your injured crew. Higher level Medbays make healing faster (especially useful in combat), and open a larger range of blue event options. A level 2 Medbay is definitely worth the 35 scrap, and should be an early investment. Level 3 Medbay is less useful event-wise, but has an incredible heal rate, which is very useful in heavily boarding-focused ships.
As of Advanced Edition, the third level of Medbay can be safely neglected by boarding ships in most cases, because of the introduction of the Reconstructive Teleport.
This system is the Advanced Edition alternative to the Medbay, and will replace the Medbay if you have one when you purchase a Clone Bay. It cannot heal crew in the same way that the medbay can, but it can effectively render all your crew immortal as long as it remains powered. Should a crew member die while the system is broken down, or should it be destroyed in the midst of cloning a crew member, that crew member can still die. Cloning a dead crew member causes them to lose some of their skills, but will keep them from being killed by most random events as well as boarders or enemy shots. Crew that die whilst on an enemy ship will still be cloned and restored to life, making the Clone Bay an invaluable tool for a boarding-based ship. The Clone Bay will also heal your crew a little each time you jump to a new beacon.
Starting at level 1, the Clone Bay will take 14 seconds to clone a dead crew member, which is reduced to 9 and then 7 seconds by level 2 and 3 upgrades. Do note that purchasing a Clone Bay from a store will give you the same level Clone Bay as your previous Medbay (i.e., purchasing a Clone Bay with a level 2 Medbay already installed will replace it with a level 2 Clone Bay). Each upgrade to the Clone Bay will also increase the healing that takes place upon jumping, although this is passive and will heal your crew according to the level of your Clone Bay system without regard to how much power you provide it. It is a good idea to upgrade this system to at least level 2 when you have enough spare scrap, as it will keep your crew members alive more effectively if it can take a bit of a beating before shutting down completely.
This system is only in the Advanced Edition, and takes up a slot shared by several other potential systems including Cloaking and Mind Control.
Hacking can have up to three power. If it's powered, you can expend a drone-part to launch a hacking drone onto any room on an enemy ship. The hacking drone will not launch if a super shield is present, it must be depleted first. Once attached, you can see the details of the room and system or subsystem it's attached to (e.g., you can see how charged the weapons are if it's attached to the weapons system). You can then click the button for the Hacking system (the same way you could for cloaking), which will both disrupt that system (similar to ion damage) for 5 (1 power), 7 (2 power), or 10 (3 power) seconds. During that time, the system will also be drained. For weapons, this means reducing the amount charged, but it can also drain the oxygen from the entire enemy ship if attached to the oxygen, prevent active cloning (killing the crew member in question) if attached to a clone bay, completely end cloaking (if used immediately after the enemy begins cloaking. devastating vs the Rebel Flagship), reverse the healing effect of the medbay (ie damage any crew caught inside), or reduce the enemy evade chance to zero (and drain FTL Charge if they're charging it).
Only one system can be hacked at a time, and certain events involving the enemy hacking you can be countered with your own hacking.
You can not hack a destroyed system, so consider attaching it to something you're not immediately planning to destroy.
This teleports crew onto enemy ships. Higher levels of this system grant faster cooldown, which can allow boarding of auto ships and less risk when recovering boarders. Only power if you plan on boarding, for obvious reasons. Once activated, you cannot withdraw the energy used to power the teleporter until it has finished cooling down.
Most ships start without a teleporter, and can obtain only a 2 person teleporter. The teleporter is a great asset as it grants you the ability to defeat opponents without destroying them, generally granting better rewards. You can still destroy enemy ships via boarding, because fully destroying a system of a ship does 1 hull damage, so be careful with it if you don't want to lose your boarders. Notably, returning boarders automatically returns all boarders in the chosen room; if they don't fit in the teleporter room, they are moved to adjacent rooms.
The shorter cooldown of teleporters becomes important when the opposing ship has one or more of the features listed below.
- Lots of crew -If you have only a 2 person teleporter, your crew can be quickly overwhelmed if you cannot send in reinforcements quickly enough or cannot pull them out fast enough.
- No oxygen - Only Lanius, Rock and Crystal crew can survive without oxygen long enough to get teleported back, and even then Rockmen get quite near death. If you happen to have respirator augment, you should almost always be able to teleport back before death. Level 2 boarders allow all but Zoltan to board somewhat safely.
- Medbay - A higher level teleporter means that a large boarding crew can take turns fighting enemies with a Medbay, thus slowly whittling down health.
- Blast Doors - Limits your crew movement, trapping crew at low health. Fast teleport recharge can remove risk involved with this.
- Cloaking - When the enemy ship is cloaked, you cannot teleport boarders out or in, your weapons stop charging, and the enemy gets a +60% chance to dodge. Having wounded soldiers on a cloaked ship is an easy way to lose the away team.
To make your boarders' lives easier, some of these features can be negated if the related system is destroyed. If you have Healing Burst weapon, you can heal your boarders remotely (by moving allies through a room that is already full, you can heal more than four at once). However, unless you've disabled the opponent's engines or piloting, Healing Burst can miss, so don't rely explicitly on it.
Simply having teleporters (even unpowered) grants many blue options, so it can be a worthwhile investment even when not boarding.
Cloaking increases dodge by 60% and causes opposing weapons to stop charging. The duration of the cloaking is reduced by a few seconds every time you fire a non-Beam weapon while cloaked, unless you have the Stealth Weapons augmentation. If this system takes damage while cloaked the cloak duration will be reduced by 5 second per damage, and ion damage received during the cooldown period will increase the cooldown timer.
This system has two obvious uses, and some other utility.
- While cloaked, the opposing ships weapons don't charge, thus delaying any attacks by the length of the cloak.
- The cloak grants +60% evasion (even if the helm is disabled/not manned), thus any weapon that has been fired at you will have greatly reduced chance to hit you. Boarding Drones cannot land while you're cloaked, and Anti-Ship drones will not fire (but will continue to orbit your ship), and your enemy cannot teleport boarders in or out of your ship.
Higher levels of the system have longer duration and cooldown, in some cases this makes using lower levels preferable, as it allows for more frequent use.
- Using level 1 is preferable if you use it primarily for the evasion boost. (Also this level lines up nicely with the Power Surges of the rebel flagship, allowing you to avoid the majority of the damage there)
- Using higher levels is preferable if you use it to delay your enemies and/or try to buy time for your own armaments to charge.
While cloaked the view of the enemy ship interior disappears. If you have boarders on the enemy ship, the rooms your boarders are in stay visible. If you had weapons ready you can still target/fire them, but you'll have to overcome the increased evasion of the target. You can fire beam weapons as normal.
All the ships start with at least level 1 of this system, but some have higher cost for the first upgrade of this system, and some don't get any starting weapons. Weapons range from 1-4 required power to function. This system can be upgraded to level 8, and most ships have 4 weapon slots. This means most ships cannot power all four weapon slots with high-power weapons.
Careful consideration is required in what kind of weaponry you use, as some weapons complement each other better than others. Ion Lasers and Burst Lasers are very good at disabling shields, while beams, hull lasers, and heavy lasers deal high hull and system damage, while rockets and bombs can damage anything while piercing shields. Generally, you want a way to get rid of or pierce shields and a way to deal damage.
Most ships start without a drone control system, and most ships have 2 drone slots (with a few drone based ships using 3). This system can supply up to 8 power. There are 2 main types of drones: On-board drones and orbiting drones, with offensive and defensive versions of each. Drones range from 1-4 power required to function. Similar to weapons, the drones have the same issue with higher level variants (the few that exists), as higher level variants are more efficient in drone parts (unless you have a Drone Recovery Arm), but less power efficient. However, it's less of an issue as most ships can support only 2 drones, so even outfitted with the highest power consumption drones you can be able to power them all. Drones are arguably situational, and most of them don't need to be powered all the time. You can own more drones than you can fit in the slots, as some are useable/worthwhile out of combat.