FTL Advanced Edition: Hard Mode Victory

Ship Selection and General Pre-Boss Battle Strategy: Lanius B (The Shrike)

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 11.40.13When choosing a ship, I had two important criteria: 1) There needed to be at least one Lanius aboard, and 2) I needed a teleporter.  Out of all of the ships, only two fit that bill, and of the two the Shrike felt like the better option because of the two Laniuses (the other ship option only had one).

The overall strategy for battles i used was one of Lanius boarding.  Laniuses are strong as boarders because they slowly suck the oxygen out of whatever room they’re occupying and don’t need oxygen themselves.  This makes the health of enemy crewmembers go down much more rapidly, and it also makes it easy to make enemy rooms “off limits” for enemy crew because they won’t enter a room that has no oxygen in it if they’re at critical health.

So battle strategy generally goes like this:

  • Teleport Lanius crew into the oxygen bay.  Mind-control one of the two enemy crew once both enter the room to delay combat damage.  Once all of the crew are at critical health, kill the oxygen system.  Any room that is then deprived of oxygen never gets it back, and since the oxygen room itself is deprived of oxygen, the enemy crew (all of which should now be at critical health) won’t go in there.
  • Once that’s done, any room that the Lanius move into will soon lose its oxygen.  If a room isn’t oxygen free, the enemy crew will move to engage, and then run away when the oxygen is gone.  Kill and/or deprive of oxygen any other rooms with critical systems, such as the pilot room or the clone bay, and then pick off the crew until they’re all dead.
  • In the meantime, point weapons towards the enemy weapon rooms and med bay/clone rooms.  Use the weapons to cripple the ship but not destroy it, and don’t bring the ship down to critical health level if you can help it; you want to kill all of the crew rather than destroy the ship.  (it’s fine if you deprive the piloting room of oxygen when everyone is at critical health.)

The reason to approach it this way is twofold.  First, killing off the crew and minimizing the hull damage to the enemy ship makes the “enemy ship is charging their FTL to escape” less likely to happen.  Second, killing off crew tends to give greater rewards than destroying the enemy ship, particularly in random events where slave crew are involved.

There are a few variants of this strategy depending on individual battle situations:

  • If the enemy ship has a level 1 med-bay, teleport into that room first.  In a room deprived of oxygen and two laniuses at full health, you’ll be able to kill the first two crew members with no problems (and they won’t leave at critical health because they’re trying to rely upon being healed by the med bay).  This doesn’t work with a level 2+ med bay, so you have to rely upon weapons fire to cripple and/or take it out, or do some other creative boarding tactics.  Once that’s done, head for the Oxygen Room and kill it.
  • If the enemy ship has a teleporter, delay or nix your own teleportation depending on how many crew you have. Assign one crew to the door system if it’s at level 1.  Avoid engaging the intruders if possible; instead, find some way to vent the room that they’re attacking of oxygen and let that lack of oxygen follow them until it hits a room with one of your crew.  If you can intercept it with lanius crew, all the better.  If not, time the closing of previously opened doors in a way that the room where the battle happens doesn’t lose its oxygen.  If you have enough crew to deal with the threat, you can still teleport your Lanius on to the enemy ship.
  • If the enemy ship has a mind control room, don’t mind-control the enemy but rather negate the effect of the mind control of your own crew.

Building/Upgrading the Ship

In order to make the Rebel Flagship fight even remotely winnable, I try to build the ship towards the following end-goal:

  • Maximum shields
  • Close to maximum engine
  • Scrap Recovery Arm
  • Sensors Level 2
  • Drone System with Defense I and Defense II.  I generally only buy a Drone System if it comes with a Defense I.

I tried to install two Defense II drones once and discovered that not to be effective; both defense IIs always go after the same enemy projectile, and one hits and one misses.  So with the Rebel Flagship, two defense IIs would usually only hit one of the three-missile volleys and occasionally two whereas a defense I and defense II would hit two of those volleys and occasionally three.

Weapons are a crapshoot, but if i ever have the opportunity to buy an Ion blast II or a Vulcan laser, i try to take it.  I also keep my Adv. Flak and would also keep Chain Burst laser if it dropped randomly.  Any other weapon or drone with the occasional exception of a dropped System Repair Drone or missile weapon early on i sell as soon as possible because the scrap is much more important than those items.

Getting battery backup is nice but not essential.  One of the main reasons to get it is less about it being useful and more about giving the Rebel Flagship Stage 1 an area to randomly hack that is non-essential.  Out of all of the systems that the Rebel Flagship could choose to hack, battery backup and the oxygen room are the ones that you’re hoping will get hit.  Having sensors get hit is okay but not ideal as that makes it much tougher to do the Mind Control Exploit described on Page 3.

The order in which I upgrade prioritizes ship engines and shield first, clone bay level 2 second (to act as a buffer in the event that the clone bay is ever damaged), drone system third, and weapons and sensors last.  More specifically, in the opening of the game, i almost always upgrade my engine to 3, then upgrade to two shields, then upgrade my clone bay to 2.  At some random point i upgrade my doors, and then at another random point i upgrade my piloting.

If i’m lucky enough to have any leftover scrap towards the end of the game, i start upgrading all systems to one level higher than what i need so that i can buffer against damage to those rooms.  Weapons and Drones take priority on that one, then anything else at level 1, then engines.

Gameplay Strategy

Sector Travel: The basic travel strategy I use is to always choose a sector pathway that a) avoids the Abandoned sector or any Zoltan sector, and b) prefers any Uncharted Nebula.  Abandoned sectors make it hard to exploit the Lanius Oxygen advantage since most of the ships in that sector are Lanius ships.  Zoltan sectors make it difficult to board because of the Zoltan shields.  Uncharted Nebulae make the pursuit of the rebels happen more slowly, and that means more encounters – and it’s important to have as many encounters as possible to reap maximum rewards.

Within sectors, i tried to choose pathways that would expose as many new jump points in a single hit as possible so that I could expose as many distress beacons as possible which i always prioritize.  That’s balanced with navigating in such a way that i would hit as many jump points as possible within a single sector to maximize my encounters and potential rewards.

Spending/Trading Principles: Even with the Scrap Recovery Arm, scrap is something to hoard rather than waste, so there are certain key principles i use for spending:

  • I only ever repair my hull back to 75%.  Generally if your ship is outclassed and going to be destroyed there’s not much difference between 75% vs 100% hull health, and using scrap to always be at 100% wastes random events that will repair your hull for you.
  • I never buy missiles or drone parts.  That’s a given since those drop all of the time and can never be sold back to shops.
  • I try to only buy the minimum amount of fuel necessary to stay ahead of the Rebel Fleet, and would prefer to run out of fuel and get fuel for free/cheap by waiting rather than overbuy fuel.  This can sometimes be a tricky balance, but it’s not too difficult.
  • I never buy crew, weapons, drone parts, or augments with the noted exceptions above.

In random encounters, i never buy anything.   I always trade missiles for drone parts, fuel, or scrap, sometimes trade drone parts for fuel or scrap depending on how early in the game it is, and only accept bribes or offers if i’m at a critical point of fuel supply and fuel was offered in those bribes/offers.

Employing all of these tactics got me to close to victory numerous times before getting railed by either stage 1 or 2 of the Rebel Flagship.  There were multiple instances where the randomness of the run would make me ill-equipped to handle even stage 1 – i would only have level 3 shields, i’d have two paltry weapons, etc.

The actual Victory Run was a series of fortunate occurrences throughout.

Mendel Lee

I'm a composer, musician, and music educator residing in New Orleans, LA.

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