Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

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Aegis
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:12 pm

Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Aegis » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:43 pm

Saunderson wrote:I've been playing this game for a couple of days now, and I love it. The only thing is, EVERY one of my games basically ends the first time I get boarded. Doesn't matter how many people I have in my crew, these encounters either end my game or end with me jumping with only 1-2 crew members on low health.

There's probably a really simple trick to beating them (I'm assuming, since I can't seem to find another thread on this), but I can't get it. I've tried dispatching my entire crew to fight them (which usually ends with all but 1-2 of my guys killed off), and i've tried sending my entire crew to another part of the ship and trying to suffocate the intruders (which usually ends with the boarders utterly destroying my ship, and THEN killing off everyone).

Like I said, I love this game, but literally every round ends for me as soon as baddies get on. Any strategies/tips/ideas?




1.0 - Strategic Considerations
The primary strategic considerations for a boarding action will boil down to the composition of forces and the location of the battle. The sections below articulate these concerns and provide assumptions necessary to consider the defensive strategy you should employ as commander.

1.1 - Composition of Forces
With FTL it is likely that you will outnumber your opponents if you are boarded during ship to ship combat. If you receive boarding during a random encounter (while in a nebula or other location for that matter) your advantage in numbers will be eroded or eliminated. If you are boarded in action, can you afford to pull crew off critical stations? It is therefore safe to assume as a strategic condition that you will always be outnumbered; hence your defense must anticipate this. Further, the assault team will at a minimum be humans - more likely mantis. You will have a mixed crew including Engies and possibly (ideally) Zoltan. The second assumption your defense should include is that you will have troops which are substantially less suited to combat than the attacking force.

1.2 – The Field of Battle
As the great master said, the victorious captain is one who forces the enemy to fight on the ground of his choosing. Given the tactical considerations of the battle you must select a site which affords the most advantage to your combatants and confers the greatest weakness on your enemies. Rooms aboard your spacecraft are rarely large enough to allow for more than four combatants. If you were facing only two attackers with four defenders in a room your chances of success are drastically better. However, given the disposition of forces articulated in 1.1 overwhelming your opponent through weight of arms is a dubious strategy. It is therefore essential to stack the odds further in your favor. More explicitly, you must funnel your opponent to an area where your own crew is given the most advantage irrespective of composition - your medical bay. Even the baseline crew healing rate of the level one medical bay is enough to hand bloody victory to an Engy fighting a mantis. If you choose to fight outside this ground a crushing defeat or pyrrhic victory is almost assured.
Further, your ship is large and there are multiple strategic objectives located throughout the craft (critical systems and subsystems). You cannot defend them all – nor should you try – with the forces available to you. The wise commander will use the largesse of his territory to his advantage. These considerations of terrain and force composition lead naturally to the establishment of a defense in depth.

2.0 – Defense in Depth
“Defense in depth (also known as deep or elastic defense) is a military strategy; it seeks to delay rather than prevent the advance of an attacker, buying time and causing additional casualties by yielding space. Rather than defeating an attacker with a single, strong defensive line, defense in depth relies on the tendency of an attack to lose momentum over a period of time or as it covers a larger area. A defender can thus yield lightly defended territory in an effort to stress an attacker's logistics or spread out a numerically superior attacking force.” A defense in depth plays for time and the two subsystems which afford you this time – Doors and Oxygen – are therefore points critical to your defense. You cannot afford to have them captured by your attacker.

2.1 – Doors and Blast Doors
Blast doors are the number one most critical defensive item for dealing with a boarding action. Specifically – tactical control of your doors is the key which enables victory. Hence, your door control room is the most critical strategic point on your ship – do not lose control of it or your defense will surely falter. Given that level 2 doors cost less than 30 scrap there is no excuse to not obtain this upgrade immediately upon entering sector 2. Level 3 doors are only 50!

2.2 – Oxygen
While it may not readily be apparent from the discussion so far, the tactics articulated below will prove the necessity of this subsystem. Given its low durability it is imperative that it have at least the second upgrade. A loss of life support and door control with a partially vented vessel is game ending in nearly every case.

3.0 – Tactics
The tactics of the battle evolve from the questions raised by our strategic considerations to wit: How do we get our opponent to fight in only the sickbay? Must we move him to us? How can we defend both the doors and life support without enough men? How do you deal with boarders teleporting in to a random room? Can this work under fire?

3.1 – The Enemy
The enemy, when he lands, will have several objectives dependent upon the tactical considerations of the battle. If you are in action, he will be looking to cripple or disable your shields and weapons first. If you encounter him outside of direct action, he will seek to disable your life support and gain control of you ship – with your doors. Once the enemy has secured your doors he has free reign. You must force him to modify his objectives. This requires giving him a motivation far more powerful than victory. Boarding parties don’t wear environmental gear. This is their failing – they desire oxygen more than they desire your ship.

3.2 – Denial as Defense
As soon as you see where those bastards land pause your game. Assess the layout of your rooms in relation to the location of the assault team. Recognize that he will always take the shortest – or easiest – path to his objectives. If the enemy is closer to your sickbay than your weapons or shields, immediately issue a move order for your strongest troops to hold the sickbay. Likely, this will be three of your crew (or perhaps your whole crew). If your whole crew can’t fit in the medical bay put them somewhere farther away than the boarders from the metical bay and keep their room sealed. Vent the ship to space, excepting those areas where your crew is stationed. Disable your environmental systems. The enemy will initially attempt to attain his objectives now that he is free to move. However, once that oxygen drops his new objective becomes breaking into the nearest available compartment with air thereby denying the enemy their objective.

3.3 – Controlling The Flow
Use your blast doors to channel the enemy to the killing field. Close them all around him. Restrict his movement to corridors you desire. Suffocate him and burst his organs. If he is ardent and tenacious he may breach your sickbay, but you are ready – ready with a repowered oxygen system and sickbay. Ready with pipes, chains, bottles, knives, teeth, fists and a dose of rage. And you are healing while he is bleeding. If the enemy captain cares about his men, and he is on his game, he may attempt to recall his boarding party. Cloak your ship. Deny him his men. Destroy his crew and his hopes for their future.

3.3.1 – Advanced Control
If by chance or design you have Crystal Men as members of your crew, a new set of options is available to the commander both in terms of battlespace management site selection - Lockdown. Lockdown denies entry or exit from a room for the duration of the ability. It is possible to entrap the enemy within an evacuated room or, in the event you have lost your door control, hold him at bay long enough to effect repairs. Furthermore, the Crystal possess an innate resistance to the ravages of vacuum and an overall durability in excess of all but the Rock Men. These advantages make them an ideal defensive combatant and support element in the most trying scenarios – they may be your only hope of recovery from a fully vented ship with inoperative doors.

3.4 – Boarding In Action
The particular tactical considerations of an attempted boarding in action will often force you to fight on less than ideal ground. Control and denial are still the chief tools the prudent commander will use but the choice may come down to keeping a critical station manned, or unmanning it and hoping for the best. If boarders land in your shield room or weapons while engaged you may be forced to vent the room and withdraw to safer ground. Alternatively, if you are feeling lucky you may send your counterforce to attempt to hold the objective. The same strategic considerations apply however, and in an evenly matched engagement it may be better to simply suffer the loss of ground – loss of trained crew is a crippling long-term blow. Loss of scrap value in repair is more easily recoverable. If however, you can outnumber your opponent then those strategic considerations may be tipped in your favor - especially if you have hurt them with a dose of hard vacuum.

4.0 – Conclusions
Maintain and upgrade your doors. Upgrade your life support. Deny the enemy access to both. Control the movements of your enemy and force him to fight on your terms. Strip him of his advantage in numbers, skill, and equipment. Do these things and your victory is assured. Above all, do not waste the lives and skills of your crew carelessly or needlessly. You will need all their efforts and experience to defeat the enemy’s flagship.
Last edited by Aegis on Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Clearing the airspace.
Saunderson
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:31 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commanders Manual

Postby Saunderson » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:57 pm

Wow. Thanks.
Aerowind
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commanders Manual

Postby Aerowind » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:33 pm

Boarders are pretty easy with level 3 blast doors (or a crystal being to barricade the door). Just vent every room (if you're fighting a ship, start venting non-essential areas around your airlocks before they teleport. After they become oxygen deprived (there will be an orange outline surrounding rooms you'll take suffocation damage in), lock all the doors and turn off oxygen. They'll be dead before you know it. Just don't forget to turn the O2 back on after they die.
Aegis
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:12 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Aegis » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:53 pm

I suppose I should add, assuming this gets stickied, I'll keep this as a living document to update with appropriate further analysis should such be suggested in this thread.
Clearing the airspace.
Eta Carinae
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Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Eta Carinae » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:07 am

I've done fine with a much simpler strategy. I just tag-team them. Send at least four crew to fight. Put as many crew as will fit in the room with them, and the rest nearby. When the health of the first wave gets low, send them to the sickbay and send in the second wave. If the second wave are low on health, possibly the first wave is ready to send back, or failing that, just retreat and let them pound on your ship for a while until you're ready to return.

It is best to put your best marines (Mantis, Rock) in the second wave, so that they can score the kills. You can also look to cloak just before their weakest boarder goes below 25 health, so that they can't avoid death by teleporting back to their ship.

Using this, I've won about half a dozen times (only on 'easy'), never vented my ship in response to boarders, seldom lost crew to boarders, and usually don't upgrade my doors until the mid-game (about sector 5.)

However, your post is very interesting, and I'll try some of your suggestions.
Aegis
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:12 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Aegis » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:06 pm

Eta Carinae wrote:I've done fine with a much simpler strategy. I just tag-team them.... Using this, I've won about half a dozen times (only on 'easy'), never vented my ship in response to boarders, seldom lost crew to boarders, and usually don't upgrade my doors until the mid-game (about sector 5.)

However, your post is very interesting, and I'll try some of your suggestions.


Indeed, I don't discount your techniques, the above analysis is based on a set of assumptions which may not be valid for you given that you can pull a large amount of your crew into the fight. IF you can bring superior numbers then by all means do. In any campaign and any battle doctrinal response is a predicable response thus the superior commander must adapt to shifting conditions and opportunities to synthesize an appropriate response.

Or course things do indeed get more difficult on Normal mode. Let me know which elements you incorporate and which works better!

Also, because this may be relevant, Emperorzoltan has a beginners guide to offensive boarding:
http://www.ftlgame.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2510

Other guides people have written on the subject:
http://www.ftlgame.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2448
http://www.ftlgame.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2376
Last edited by Aegis on Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Clearing the airspace.
ScrapBanker
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:52 am

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby ScrapBanker » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:21 pm

Aegis wrote:
Eta Carinae wrote:I've done fine with a much simpler strategy. I just tag-team them.... Using this, I've won about half a dozen times (only on 'easy'), never vented my ship in response to boarders, seldom lost crew to boarders, and usually don't upgrade my doors until the mid-game (about sector 5.)

However, your post is very interesting, and I'll try some of your suggestions.


Indeed, I don't discount your techniques, the above analysis is based on a set of assumptions which may not be valid for you given that you can pull a large amount of your crew into the fight. IF you can bring superior numbers then by all means do. In any campaign and any battle doctrinal response is a predicable response thus the superior commander must adapt to shifting conditions and opportunities to synthesize an appropriate response.

Or course things do indeed get more difficult on Normal mode. Let me know which elements you incorporate and which works better!

Also, because this may be relevant, Emperorzoltan has a beginners guide to offesnive boarding:
http://www.ftlgame.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2510


Aegis, may I ask if you are in the military? You speak like a field grade officer.
Aegis
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:12 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Aegis » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:34 pm

ScrapBanker wrote:Aegis, may I ask if you are in the military? You speak like a field grade officer.


If I had taken a different path in graduate school I most likely would have been. As is, I'm GG-13 so I suppose there is some parity. That and the particular responsibilities of my employment tended to put me in briefing rooms with them on a regular basis.
Clearing the airspace.
dalolorn
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Location: R.S. Dominator

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby dalolorn » Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:31 am

I am sorry to say that you are misinformed. The boarding parties go for the nearest system or subsystem, NOT some preset priority. You are however right that venting the atmosphere will easily herd them into a more suitable area for your troops to fight in. Also, I don't really waste my scrap on blast doors. I never need them :lol:
Eji1700
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:26 pm

Re: Boarding Defense - A Commander's Manual

Postby Eji1700 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:30 pm

Pretty awesome writeup.

On almost every ship I've played i've almost never felt the need for anything more complicated than the following-
Upgrade blast doors to level 2(I've almost never bothered with lvl 3).
Intruders flow chart-
Can i just flat out murder them where they stand(superior numbers, fighting in med bay, i have 2 mantis they sent a human and a zoltan, etc)? If so do that.
If no then pause, vent the ship strategically and route them to the med bay with men in it. If i really cant spare to move the men you can seriously harm people with intelligent micro of the blast doors and venting. It's hard to explain in text, especially since it changes from ship to ship, but there's 3 rules.

1. Make sure any crucial system rooms are void just in case(o2, doors, sensors, cloak, and possibly teleporter can't be manned and can cause major issue if destroyed)
2. Vent the room they're in and watch them wail on the door. Open it BEFORE they destroy it and let them in. This actually does more damage to them in the long run since you lose door control when it breaks and thus it can actually help save them some oxygen. Using clever micro of the doors from here you can basically let your ship kill them off without needing to lift a finger.

Exception to the rule-
Slug A and possibly stealth B so far have such awful venting patterns that you might just want an away team ready to deal with it. You can still do it, but you'll almost certainly have to pull men off of vital stations which defeats the whole purpose, and certain rooms really really hurt to lose.

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