Advanced Tips

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Advanced Tips

Postby Darthcaboose » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:29 am

geldonyetich's post has the basics down, let's focus on some more advanced fun stuff that you can do in FTL! (Note: All this might change in a single patch, this post is current as of v 1.00)

Recognizing Enemy Weapons:

At the start of a fight, take a look at the enemy armaments and try and figure out what the enemy ship has. Don't worry if you're just starting out, you'll quickly pick up what all the different weapons look like. Adjust your ship's power accordingly based on the threats you see.

Example: Suppose the enemy ship you are fighting has a single fire laser and a beam weapon that cannot penetrate shields. You would need at most 2 shields to keep your ships safe; more than that is not necessary and that power could be used in other systems! You could actually do alright with just 1 shield provided the beam weapon does not fire after the laser takes your shield down.

Recognize Enemy Firing Patterns:

The enemy AI will fire its weapons at you as quickly as they can charge them. In some instances this can be to your advantage! An enemy ship with a Burst Mark 1 (fires two lasers) and a Basic Laser (fires one laser) will be able to overwhelm a ship with two shields. However, as the Basic Laser charges faster than the Burst Mark 1, the firing sequence will become spread out, and the number of "volleys" that could overwhelm your shields will only come in long intervals as opposed to every time the ship fires.

In this situation, the best time to cloak would be right before such a volley!

Anti-Ship I Drones:

Usually you can count on Anti-Ship I drones as taking out 1 shield at a time (i.e. it fires as fast as it takes for your shields to recharge. However, there is a very slight chance (usually when it is around the right side of your ship) where it moves and fires in quick succession. I've seen the anti-ship I drone fire three times in a row, leaving my poor shields with little chance of recharging fast enough between shots! Keep this in mind when figuring out the enemy's weapon strength.

Cloak Engaged (Timing it Right):

Cloaking is just an incredible advantage in this game. Consider the benefits:

1. The +60% evasion chance. With a base of +40% evasion (which can be achieved with a master in piloting and engines and just 4 bars in engines), you'll hit the magic 100% number!

2. The enemy's weapons stop charging during the cloak period.

3. Your weapons will continue to recharge (provided the enemy ship doesn't cloak at the same time)!

To get the maximum benefit out of your cloak, try to use it right after the enemy ship fires (so you can dodge the incoming shots) and right after you fire your own weapons! With a high enough cloak, you can usually fire another volley right when you leave cloak! The Stealth Weapons augment allows you to not have to worry about Part #3, since you can still fire your weapons without draining your cloak each time.

Ion Weapons:

Ion weapons can be awful if the enemy has an accompanying beam or laser weapon that could do significant damage to your ship. To avoid getting your shields hit by the ion weapon, you can toggle the shields on and off quickly before the ion particle lands and usually get the shields back up in time to absorb the damage caused by the beam/lasers. It takes a bit of practice to get used to, but it can save your ship from taking needless damage if you get it down right!

Of course, there is always a chance that, even in pulling off this trick, that the ion particle will still hit your shields system! However, the odds of that happening are considerably lower than if they were to hit the shield bubble itself.

Crew Positioning

When you move crew around, FTL will fill crew member from the top left of the room you are moving to and fill then in horizontally until the row is filled before moving back to the first column. Let's suppose we fill our 4-space (2x2 room) Weapons system with 4 crew members (call them A, B, C and D) to take on some enemy boarders. We individually click on each crew member in turn and then command them to move into the Weapons room. Here's how they would fill it out.

A : Top left
B : Top right
C : Bottom left
D : Bottom right

The two enemy crew members, when they moved into the weapons room, most likely (but not always) took the top left and top right position. As such, you'd want to send your strongest/hardiest crew members to fight them directly, and possibly position your weaker crew members, like Engi or Zoltans to help support them.

This leads to an interesting tactic...

Do the Crew Shuffle

Crew combat is interesting in this game. A friendly and enemy crew member in combat will punch/compute/slash/ROCKMAN SMASH/zap/telepathically-mess-with/whatever-the-heck-the-secret-race-does-in-combat the enemy crew member and only deal damage to each other. Friendly or enemy crew members sitting in the same room as an enemy but not engaged in hand-to-hand combat will fire randomly at a crew member each time it attacks. You can use this to your advantage to spread out or limit the damage as you feel is necessary. One awesome technique is what I like to call the Crew Shuffle.

Let's look at our previous example again involving our brave redshirts A, B, C and D:

Suppose you're engaged in a fight with some crazy Mantis enemies and crew member A is getting low on health. You'd like to have him run off, but you are worried that the Mantis now on the top-left corner will get a few shots at not just C and D, but even B (who, at this time, is worried about the other Mantis he is fighting against in the top-right corner). If only there were some way to swap crew members C (who is still at full health and sitting back to enjoy the view) with crew member A.

As a matter of fact, there is! Here's how you do it (most likely, while the game is paused).

1. Select crew member A.
2. Move him outside of the Weapons room.
3. Select crew member C.
4. Move him outside of the Weapons room as well.
5. With crew member C still selected, move him back into the Weapons room.
6. Select crew member A and move him back into the Weapons room.

If you do this all while the game is paused, when you unpause, crew members A and C will swap places. Crew member A can then sit back in relative safety throwing stuff at the enemy crew while C quickly assumes his new station as Mantis punching-bag!

N.B.: If your crew are not able to move out in Points #2 and #4, then you WON'T be able to do the shuffle. Notable examples include the Weapon systems of the final boss, where you can't move your crew outside of those 2x1 rooms.


Above all. Have fun!

Hope you enjoyed this, I'll be adding more to this as time permits. Feel free to add any crazy advanced tips of your own!

EDIT #1: Expanded the Cloaking section and fixed an error there.
Last edited by Darthcaboose on Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby geldonyetich » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:42 am

It occurred to me before reading this to edit in a mention about identifying enemy weapons and firing patterns, but that's much better elaborated here, and the rest is great bunch of new points! :mrgreen:
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby Innominate » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:14 am

Disclaimer: I haven't yet played the game, so this is just what I've gleaned from gameplay videos.

You won't win this game if you try to fight it as a series of battles. You need to consider what you will need to beat the final boss; how much scrap that will take, what weapons you will need, what crew, etc. With this in mind, imagine combat and other decisions in terms of scrap cost.

  • 1 point of hull damage (such as from a single system being destroyed or a systemless room being hit for 1 damage) is 4 scrap (I think; is that the cost to repair in a store?)
  • 1 crew member lost costs a variable amount of scrap. If it is one of your core crew - boarding parties, stationed crew - the cost can be extremely high. Non-core crew can be considered to cost about their value in a shop (45-65 scrap I think); opportunity cost is countered by the possibility of acquiring them cheaply from events. Extraneous crew - anything more than core crew + 2-4 - is of minimal value except as a replacement for other lost crew. Consider gained crew as essentially the opposite sign worth of scrap.
  • An equippable item is worth how much you can sell it for or how much other scrap cost it can mitigate. A drone that blocks missiles can be worth dozens (or more) of damage points in repairs if acquired early, and a weapon that lets you destroy enemies faster (or disable their weapon bay) lets you mitigate damage as well.
  • Every spent missile or drone is worth whatever their scrap cost is. There's no point in using a missile to destroy an enemy when you're at no risk of taking damage. And in another situation it's worth using your last missile if it means you take, say, 10 less hull damage.
  • Every jump costs the normal fuel amount. Like all other resources the value may be slightly less because of events and looting enemies.
  • Note that the relative worth of every resource (hull, fuel, missile, drone, scrap) goes up as you run lower, particularly if you are not sure you can get to a store soon. Try to keep up the amounts of any resources you need to survive. If you run out of a resource you may not be able to take advantage of an opportunity you discover, or you might be hit doubly hard by a danger. Also, if you don't need to use a resource (say, you have no drone centre nor plans to get one) then their worth is marginal; you can sell a limited number of them only in certain events.

Now consider the upgrades, shop purchases, and event choices in terms of how they can affect your scrap expenditure. If you have some way of avoiding damage from missiles (cloak, drones) then upgrading your shields a level can have incredible benefits. If it reduces the average amount of damage you take by even just 1 hull point a fight (about 4 scrap worth remember) you can get great savings. Engine upgrades let you dodge everything except boarding parties, solar flares, and beam weapons, so they're great too. If it costs, say, 80 scrap to get a 5% dodge increase it takes 20 extra dodged missile damage points - 400 missile damage points seen - to break even, but that's not counting avoiding non-missile damage (or damage that follows from a missile when your shields are down or from fires and the like) which is probably hard to quantify.

Should you jump away from a fight? Consider the costs involved: potential hull damage, loss of crew, loss of reward, loss of experience, possibly jumping into a new fight with your current ship damage. The costs you've sunk, importantly, are worthless; always evaluate the worth of a decision based solely on how it affects your likely end-game scrap count and not on how much you've invested already.

Remember that the more fights you jump away from the further behind the mark you fall. As you fall farther behind you will tend to take more damage in fights, which will require more repairs, which will greatly reduce your potential to catch up, and so on. On the other hand if you end up ahead of the scrap cost curve you will take less damage in a fight and so be in an even better position. In other words, the scrap cost curve has a positive feedback loop; losing begets losing and winning improves your chances of winning (and to a greater extent than, say, a season of sports). It may be worth taking an opportunity for a short-term benefit (like buying a good weapon that you don't intend to use for more than a few sectors) if it means you can reduce the other resource costs enough to make up for the expense.

What about risky manoeuvres? If there's a fire in your O2 room do you vent it, take one of your crew off their task to put it out, or leave it? Risk-reward analysis is pretty simple; the expected result of a decision is the sum, for each outcome, of the product of likelihood and magnitude.
If you leave it, chances are it will destroy your O2 room. You'll take 1 point of hull damage from that (possibly more ongoing damage from the fire? I don't know). In addition, if the fight goes on for a long time you might run out of oxygen and lose crew members (or lose time for them to do other tasks while they stand in the medbay).
If you send a crew member they will take a little damage (unless they're rock men) and will be unavailable for other tasks. If they're core crew that's a big deal; you may take a lot more damage without their normal roles. If they're non-core but helpful crew it only really matters if they'll end up too far away from other things (like fighting off a boarding party or repairing a more important room) and if they're extraneous crew you've got nothing to lose.
If you vent the room you have a few possible outcomes. 1. The fire goes out, nothing else happens, you close the door. 2. The fire destroys your O2 room, which is now without oxygen and will require your crew to asphyxiate when repairing it. 3. Your doors get destroyed as well and now the room can't be closed off at all unless you also repair the doors (and you could easily lose the whole ship in that time). How likely is each outcome? That's heavily dependent on context, so I have no ready answers.

With these possibilities in mind you can work out course of action that minimises your expected scrap cost. With the game paused you can take your time with this decision, too! I see so many rookie players immediately trying to repair non-essential systems with their core crew (or venting through a third of their ship to put out a fire in their door controls, which got destroyed anyway). If you attack, dodge, or block more you may be able to save substantial scrap by keeping your core crew at their jobs.

TL;DR: Consider how much scrap every decision you make will be expected to cost and choose the action that minimises that cost (unless you have a goal other than winning the game, in which case choose what helps that).

Edit: The most obvious place for this is considering accepting a surrender. You have several possibilities.
1. You accept their surrender. You get the value of whatever they're offering, cannot get what you would get from destroying them, and take no more expenses from combat. 100% certain, so may be good if you're in a vulnerable position even if it's not great otherwise.
2. You don't accept and you or they end up jumping out of there. You get no rewards whatsoever and take combat expenses to boot.
3. You don't accept and you get destroyed. Game over, obviously.
4. You don't accept and you destroy them. You get the random reward from destroying them, you take combat expenses.

Obviously you want to avoid options 2 and 3, so if you think either is particularly likely you should probably take the surrender. Otherwise work out how many combat expenses you'll probably have (how many missiles/drones used, how much damage taken) and subtract those from the salvage reward you may get. If the salvage is still preferable (keeping in mind all the factors mentioned in the list at the top; particularly the relative worth of resources you can't use and the ones you need desperately), take that option. Otherwise take the surrender.
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby Alex » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:17 am

The shuffle is a great idea.

Normally i do a Medbay-shuffle but that can be ineffective on larger ships or with smaller crews.

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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby xmakina » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:53 am

I just want to add on the last part about surrender versus destroy: you may get more (significantly so if you're destroying rather than boarding the ship) scrap & bonuses for accepting surrender than destroying them. I'd only go for the destruction option if you're killing their crew and only need scrap.
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby Gorlom » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:08 am

xmakina wrote:I just want to add on the last part about surrender versus destroy: you may get more (significantly so if you're destroying rather than boarding the ship) scrap & bonuses for accepting surrender than destroying them. I'd only go for the destruction option if you're killing their crew and only need scrap.

Usually you get more fuel, missiles and/or drones for accepting surrender, but more scrap for destroying.

Boarding usually gives better result still.
the Scientist
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby the Scientist » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:19 pm

turning off shields to avoid critical ion damage? thats BRILLIANT! why didnt i think about that already? great tips!
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby zarakon » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:22 pm

In addition to recognizing enemy weapons, you can also learn what their power-down order is. Enemy weapons power down from 4 to 1 when you damage their weapons system, just like your own ship. Weapons 1 and 3 are on the left side of the ship; 2 and 4 are on the right side. Which pair is in the middle varies from ship to ship though. Not something that's useful very often, but it can occasionally help to know whether doing 1 point of damage will knock out their Simple Laser or their Burst Mk3.

Shooting down enemy drones:
If your non-beam weapons (lasers, ions, missiles) hit an enemy drone, you can destroy it. This means with proper timing you can destroy an enemy anti-ship drone that wanders in front of your guns. Sometimes it takes a couple hits to do it though. If you're lucky, your lasers can also destroy enemy defense drones. Of course it goes both ways, and the enemy's weapons can destroy your drones if you're unlucky, so watch out for that so you can quickly replace them.
(Laser shots will also destroy missiles that they hit, and possibly other lasers. Too random to be useful, but it's nice to know why your shots sometimes just disappear.)

Defense Mk1 drones don't just shoot down missiles. They'll also shoot down enemy boarding drones, which can be incredibly helpful in phase 2 of the flagship fight.

Don't be afraid to shut off the O2 system briefly to help power your shields or engines. The oxygen level can get quite low before your crew start taking damage, and even a level 1 O2 system will recharge faster than it drains. When you don't have a defense drone, it's nice having an extra few % in evasion when the enemy launches a missile.

Thanks for the tip on how to shuffle crew within a room. That will be helpful :)
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby Createx » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:18 pm

Shooting down enemy drones is usually pretty pointless since the enemy will just launch another. They have plenty, never managed to wittle either their missile or drone parts down. Don't try to shoot the drones down, focus on the drone bay.
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Re: Advanced Tips

Postby actionhero112 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:24 pm

Crew shuffle will be very helpful. Was wondering how to do that.

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