how to win ftl

How to win ftl

Hello everyone. I’ve played FTL for 35 hours now and I have learnt a lot about the game and it’s mechanics, and can reliably finish the game on Normal as long as I don’t make silly mistakes (like blowing up a ship with my boarding crew still on it).

I would like to share with you my strategies. This is intended for the player who has now grasped the fundamentals of the game, but need that extra edge to become a complete player.

Part 1: Item reviews
With so many weapons, mods, upgrades etc. in the game, it’s hard to know what to get first and second. This will be the most important thing to understand in the game – what to prioritize. Strategies vary a little from ship to ship, but the general principle is the same:

a) Upgrade priorities and power management

From the start of the game, priority will be to get a diverse crew ASAP and maximize ‘blue option’ dialogue options.
Important upgrades that give ‘blue-options’: Level 2 autopilot (high level weapon in nebula ion storms), Level 2 Medbay, and level 2 Scanners.
If I am able to find a nearby Store beacon surrounded by other beacons (i.e. I am confident that I can farm up 75 scrap before I get to the Store) then I will save up for Level 1 teleport and go ‘blue-option’ hunting for free crew from ‘Damaged Federation Ship’ events in Nebulae, then proceed to gain more scrap through combat with a boarding crew.
Starting weapons usually will suffice without any upgrades (to either system or weaponry) until Sector 3.

Special note regarding early Long-range scanner or the Stealth ship: Since you can pick hostiles every beacon, instead of going for blue options, you can gain more scrap by going for combat upgrades/early boarding crew. Read the section on Augmentations below for details.

Rules of thumb:
Level 4 shields before starting Sector 3
Level 6 shields before starting Sector 6
Level 8 shields during sector 8.

Upgrade engines to Level 5 (upgrade once every two sectors) and then leave it there. 45% evasion with max-exp pilot/engine operator, 105% evasion with cloak (can power down to level 4 engines for 100% evasion).

Calculating power requirements:
Your shields, weapons, and level 1 oxygen always require power
Engines, drones, med bay, cloak and teleporter have no charge-up time, so halve their power-requirement when calculating how much power bars you should have.

b) Weaponry Guide
– In general, more expensive weapons are NOT better than cheaper ones. Shield-penetration to Energy requirement ratio is the name of the game here.

God tier: Ion weapons – One ‘ion blast II’ or two ‘ion blast I’ can reliably tear down shields of any strength given enough time. Can only be soft-countered by high evasion/cloaking.
Avoid ‘Heavy ion’ weapon – it’s 13 second cooldown ruins the point of ion weapons (Ion weapons ‘refresh’ and stack ion damage to shields as long as you hit every 5 seconds. Staggering two ‘ion blast I’ to fire every 4 seconds will drain all shields as long as you don’t miss often.
Ion bomb/small bomb/breach bomb – Only soft-countered by high evasion, and can damage shields enough to allow penetration by other weapons. Extremely useful for ninja takedowns of enemy medbays for a succesful boarding attempt.

High tier: Laser weapons – Take your pick from Basic lasers, dual lasers, burst lasers II, and heavy laser I. Has generally good penetration for energy ratio. Avoid other lasers which are energy inefficient.
Make sure to wait until all lasers are charged before firing at the same time, to maximize shield penetration.

Mid tier: Beam weapons – Beam weapons are only good if you already have enough weaponry to penetrate the shield (even if briefly; i.e. with concentrated laser fire); but as long as you can do so, they are great weapons (due to instant projectile time, you can guarantee system/hull damage even if the enemy shields are down for 1 second).

Specific weapon notes:
Glaive beam needs too much power and you might run into trouble against higher shield enemies, where you lack the weaponry or power bars to break through the shield.

Do not underestimate the mini-beam, which the Stealth ship starts with. Against normal enemies (non-autobot ships), you can guarantee 3 rooms of damage by cutting through corners, even though the length of the beam is tiny. For one power, it is extremely efficient.

Lower tier: Missiles – Good in the early-game when one missile to fry shields is enough; but by mid/end-game enemy ships will have several counters (Defense Drone, High evasion, Cloaking) and the enormous ammo requirements will drain your Scrap fund too much. Try to replace your missile weapons with higher tier weaponry as you go along.

Other weaponry options are usually sub-optimal, as they either cost too much power or not have enough shield penetration, or lack versatility (e.g. firebombs against auto-ships are useless).

c) Drone Guide:
Only two drones worth mentioning, but boy are they great. You can get away with leaving drone system on 2/3 power all game, as drones can be activated/deactivated on demand as they have no ‘charge up’ time.

Anti-Ship Drone I – Deceivingly energy-efficient and high damage potential if enemy shields can be penetrated. Has no ‘charge up’ time like regular weapons, so you can simply leave it deactivated until the one second where enemy shields are down. You can then turn off power from Oxygen/Engines and let the Drone activate for a couple of shots before switching back O2/engines again.

Defense Drone I – Again, exceptionally energy efficient as you can simply turn it on whenever a missile fires, then turn it off again. For two power, you have essentially hard-countered missiles. Stupidly good.

Other drones have niches, but are usually better being sold for scrap to upgrade better things.

d) Augmentations guide

God tier
– Long range scanner – extremely great for picking what events/hostiles you want and avoiding hazards. Only 30 scrap price in stores.

If you can pick up this aug early (or have the stealth ship that starts with this), it actually changes your entire game strategy, since you can pick and choose hostile encounters every single beacon. Instead of upgrading for blue-options, just maximise your combat systems (teleporter, shields, weapons, engines) and pick hostiles every single jump if you can. This will give you a huge advantage in scrap generation; and you will have enough scrap to upgrade almost all systems to max; even on normal.

– Scrap recovery arm – worthy investment. Stackable and gives ‘blue option’.
– Unique racial augs: Engi medbots is a great aug, and you can sometimes get it through giving 40 scrap/2 missiles/2 fuel to engi ship in trouble.
Zoltan shield is great early game, but wears off in effectiveness as game progresses. Consider selling other racial augs (Rock plating, titanium plating, slug gel, pheromones) for a quick 50 scrap boost if there is something in the store worth buying (e.g. early teleporter for boarding potential)

Other mentions
– Automatic reloader and shield charger are okay if you have spare aug slots.
– Pre-igniter, drone recovery, and stealth weapons are useful in niche situations/strategies. Not as reliable for all ships as ones mentioned above.

e) End-game Crew Makeup
Max 8 crew.
One each stationed at Weapons, Shield, Engine, and Helm (preferably not Mantis)
Two personnel (either Mantis, Rock, or Crystal) dedicated to boarding
Two ‘roaming’ repairers (preferably not Mantis/Zoltan)

f) Sector guide:
Look for:
– Any homeworld planet, for special quests
– Nebulae, high chance of blue-option events, and slower rebel fleet allows better farming opportunities.

Friendly sectors/Hostile sectors – Depends on how much fuel/combat capability you have.

How to win ftl Hello everyone. I’ve played FTL for 35 hours now and I have learnt a lot about the game and it’s mechanics, and can reliably finish the game on Normal as long as I don’t make silly

The Rebel Flagship

The Rebel Flagship is by far the most powerful vessel in the Rebel Fleet, and serves as the game’s final boss, located in The Last Stand sector.

At The Last Stand, the silhouette of the Rebel Flagship is visible hovering around a beacon, marking its location. Every two jumps you make, it will jump closer to the Federation base, taking a total of 6 or occasionally more turns to reach the base. If it remains at the base for 3 consecutive turns, the Flagship will destroy the base and end the game in a Rebel victory.

Your goal is to intercept the Flagship, fighting through three stages to destroy it and ensure a Federation victory. With each stage that you beat, the Flagship will jump away, nearing the Rebel fleet. It will wait for one turn before jumping back to assault the Federation base.


  • 1 Global behavior
  • 2 Flagship variation
  • 3 1st Stage
    • 3.1 General
    • 3.2 Weapons
    • 3.3 Systems
    • 3.4 Dodge Rate
  • 4 2nd stage
    • 4.1 General
    • 4.2 Weapons
    • 4.3 Drones
    • 4.4 Systems
    • 4.5 Power Surge
    • 4.6 Dodge rate
  • 5 Final stage
    • 5.1 General
    • 5.2 Weapons
    • 5.3 Systems
    • 5.4 Power Surge
    • 5.5 Dodge rate
  • 6 Victory!
  • 7 Recommended upgrades
  • 8 General strategy
    • 8.1 Handling phase 1 hacking
    • 8.2 Handling phase 2 drones
    • 8.3 Handling phase 3 boarders
  • 9 Boarding strategy (Easy and Normal)
  • 10 Hard mode strategy

Global behavior [ edit | edit source ]

At the end of the first and second stage, the Flagship will lose a part of its hull along with the rooms, systems, and weapons in the corresponding location. Other systems will be installed on the next stage, changing its behavior dramatically.

On the second and third stage, the Flagship has a special ability called “Power Surge” which will be triggered periodically and cannot be disabled by the player, much like Environmental Hazards.

Hull and system damage of the Rebel Flagship will be repaired on the next stage. Breach and fire will also be cleared. Only the crew is persistent through each stage; crew members killed are not replaced on the next stage. If the player jumps away from the Flagship before completing a stage, the same applies, with one exception: the crew is fully replaced if the player retreats during the first stage.

Unlike other battles, killing the entire enemy crew won’t defeat the Flagship. Instead, a message will pop up pointing out the AI took control of the ship. The Flagship will then behave like an automated ships: undamaged systems are treated as manned (even those that are hacked), and damaged systems are all progressively repaired at a set rate, except those with fire or a breach in their room.

The Flagship’s “weapons” are artillery systems, each located in its own room. They cannot be manned, despite containing crew. These rooms are also isolated from the main structure of the ship (with an exception on hard mode).

Although the Flagship uses a missile launcher, it does not consume any missiles and will therefore never run out of ammunition.

After the Flagship jumps away, the player will receive a small amount of scrap, fuel, drone parts, and/or missiles. There is also a slight chance for a random weapon or augment being dropped.

Flagship variation [ edit | edit source ]

On Easy mode with Advanced Edition Content disabled, the Flagship only has 3 layers of shield instead of the usual 4 (which means the shield system level is 6 instead of 8). This applies for all three stages.

On Hard mode, two additional rooms link the Laser and Missile ones to the main section of the ship. This makes it more difficult to stop the enemy repairing them.

1st Stage [ edit | edit source ]

General [ edit | edit source ]

The Final Boss, 1st stage (transparent rooms only exist on Hard mode)

The Final Boss, 1st stage

Hull: 20

  • Reactor: 42
  • Crew: 11 Humans
  • Drone parts: 10
  • Like any other ship, the Flagship consumes 1 drone part to deploy its hacking drone. This means it is possible (yet difficult) to avoid being hacked entirely by shooting down 10 hacking drones in a row with a Defense Drone.

    Weapons [ edit | edit source ]

    Numbers in parenthesis are system levels.

    Systems [ edit | edit source ]

    • Piloting (3)
    • Shields (8)
    • Door (3)
    • Cloaking (2)
    • Medbay (3)
    • Engines (2)
    • Oxygen (2)
    • Hacking (3) [Advanced Edition]

    Dodge Rate [ edit | edit source ]

    Assuming cockpit and engines are unharmed and the engines are fully powered. Based off system health of the engines and cockpit.

    • Base Dodge rate: 10%
    • While fully manned: 20% (Enemy crew is unskilled regardless of difficulty)
    • If unmanned and Piloting room is empty: 8%
    • If controlled by AI: 20%

    2nd stage [ edit | edit source ]

    The Final Boss, 2nd stage (transparent rooms only exist on Hard mode)

    The Final Boss, 2nd stage

    With its cloaking (and hacking) gone, the boss now relies on its drone system along with its power surge, which spawns more drones.

    General [ edit | edit source ]

    • Hull: 22
    • Reactor: 44
    • Crew: The remaining crew from the previous stage (Minus the one in the Ion room if left alive).
    • Drone parts: 10

    Like on the previous stage, it is possible to avoid being boarded entirely by shooting down the Boarding Drone until the Flagship runs out of drone parts. Since it uses 4 drones at once, this can happen quite quickly.

    Note that drones from the Power Surge don’t consume drone parts.

    Weapons [ edit | edit source ]

    Numbers in parenthesis are system levels.

    The Boss Ion was lost during the previous battle.

    Drones [ edit | edit source ]

    • Combat Drone Mark I (2)
    • Anti-Ship Beam Drone I (2)
    • Defense Drone Mark I (2)
    • Boarding Drone (Boss) (2)

    Systems [ edit | edit source ]

    • Piloting (3)
    • Shields (8)
    • Medbay (3)
    • Engines (3)
    • Oxygen (2)
    • Drone (8)

    The Hacking, Door and Cloaking systems were lost in the previous battle.

    Power Surge [ edit | edit source ]

    The Flagship deploys extra drones (randomly split between Beam and Combat) for approximately 5 seconds. The number of extra drones depends on difficulty: 4 on Easy, 6 on Normal, and 7 on Hard. The cooldown of the Power Surge is rolled at the start of the battle and will be a number between 21 and 26 seconds.

    These drones appear even if the drone control system has been destroyed. Hacking the drone system does not stun the power surge drones (even when the system is online).

    Dodge rate [ edit | edit source ]

    Assuming cockpit and engines are unharmed and the engines are fully powered. Based off system health of the engines and cockpit.

    • Base Dodge rate: 15%
    • If fully manned 25% (Enemy crew is unskilled regardless of difficulty)
    • If unmanned and Piloting room is empty: 12%
    • If controlled by AI: 25%

    Final stage [ edit | edit source ]

    The Final Boss, 3rd stage (transparent rooms only exist on Hard mode)

    The Final Boss, 3rd stage

    With its drones gone, the Flagship now relies on its Zoltan shield, power surges, and boarding crew to overcome the player.

    General [ edit | edit source ]

    • Hull: 20
    • Reactor: 32
    • Crew: The remaining crew from the previous stage (Minus the one in the Beam room if left alive).

    The Flagship’s Zoltan Shield has 12 health points.

    Weapons [ edit | edit source ]

    Numbers in parenthesis are system levels.

    The Boss Beam was lost during the previous battle.

    Systems [ edit | edit source ]

    • Piloting (3)
    • Shields (8)
    • Teleporter (2)
    • Medbay (3)
    • Engines (6)
    • Oxygen (2)
    • Mind Control (3) [Advanced Edition]

    The Drone system was lost in the previous battle.

    Power Surge [ edit | edit source ]

    • Shoots 7 laser shots simultaneously, or.
    • Brings its Zoltan shield back online

    After every 3 laser Power Surges, the 4th will instead fully restore the Zoltan Shield. Even here the cooldown of the Power Surge is rolled at the start of the battle and will be a number between 21 and 26 seconds.

    If any of your crew are on board when the Zoltan shield comes back on, they will be stuck and can’t be teleported back until the shield is broken again (unless you have Zoltan Shield Bypass).

    Dodge rate [ edit | edit source ]

    Assuming cockpit and engines are unharmed and the engines are fully powered. Based off system health of the engines and cockpit.

    • Base Dodge rate: 28%
    • If fully manned: 38% (Enemy crew is unskilled regardless of difficulty)
    • If unmanned and Piloting room is empty: 22%
    • If controlled by AI: 38%

    Victory! [ edit | edit source ]

    The Big Bad Boss finally bites the inter-planetary dust.

    After this long struggle, the victory screen appears. It has the name of your ship as well as the names of every crew member that survived the encounter (excluding those who were on board the Flagship when it was destroyed in the final phase). If your ship is destroyed at the same time you destroy the Flagship, it will count as Victory as well.

    You will also have the words “Victory” if your ship is a new high score.

    Recommended upgrades [ edit | edit source ]

    The Flagship has high damage output, especially in phases 2 and 3. Good defences will make the fight much safer:

    • Aim for level 5 engines and 4 shields (3 shields minimum).
    • Cloaking is very useful, for dodging missiles and power surges.
    • Defence drones are less effective, but still useful.
    • Mind control and upgraded doors are helpful against phase 3 boarders.
    • Level 2 oxygen stops a phase 1 oxygen hack killing your crew.
    • Level 2 piloting stops a single hit knocking out all your evasion.

    Consider damage buffers to other critical systems too (upgrading them one extra bar, for resilience against a single hit). Good candidates are shields, cloaking, mind control, and weapons.

    Strong offence is equally useful. There is no perfect defence against the power surges in phases 2 and 3, so given enough time the Flagship will eventually destroy you. Ending the fight quickly will limit the damage you take. Look for some of the following:

    • Strong weapons that can deal damage through 4 shields, even with several misses
    • Hacking to remove the Flagship’s shields or evasion
    • A teleporter to disable the Flagship’s isolated weapons
    • A way to kill the main crew in phase 1
    • A way to get through the Zoltan Shield quickly in phase 3

    The Zoltan Shield in phase 3 has 12 hit points. It can be taken down more quickly with ion or beam weapons, or combat or beam drones. A Beam Drone Mark II does 2 damage with each hit. Zoltan Shield Bypass can be useful when boarding.

    Your offence should not rely heavily on missile weapons, since the defence drone in phase 2 will shoot them down (unless you have a Defense Scrambler). It cannot stop you using hacking, however.

    General strategy [ edit | edit source ]

    With a good setup and strategy, it’s possible to defeat the Flagship while taking no damage.

    Always have a plan for the Flagship, and upgrade your ship accordingly. As you get closer to the end of the game, imagine how your current ship will handle the final battles. Are your defences adequate? Do you plan to kill the crew slowly in phase 1, or will you use powerful weapons to end the fight quickly?

    Try to enter the Flagship fight in good shape. You get 10 free repairs upon entering sector 8, and Repair Beacons can patch up your hull for free. Your ship should not be taking much (if any) damage from regular fights in sector 8.

    In all phases, the Flagship’s missiles are a major threat, so have a plan for dealing with them. Your plan could be as simple as “use weapons to destroy the missiles”! The other weapons are much less dangerous, but can be deadly when they sync up with the power surges.

    Cloaking can be used to dodge the missiles or power surge attacks. The timing of power surges varies, and cloaking will not always be ready for dodging the next one. Unlike the Flagship weapons, power surges are not delayed by cloaking, so it’s often desirable to end your cloak immediately after the surge. This can be done using a level 1 cloak, or firing your (non-beam) weapons to disrupt a longer cloak.

    Higher-level cloaking can also be used to dodge both the missiles and a power surge. For example, in phase 3, a level 3 cloak can dodge the first missile volley and power surge (example), while also delaying the next missile volley by 15 seconds. This is not guaranteed, due to the variable surge timing.

    With good defences, the missiles are often more dangerous than the power surges. 4 shields and 5 engines is a solid defence against the surges.

    Handling phase 1 hacking [ edit | edit source ]

    Phase 1 will use level 3 hacking against you. This can range from trivial to deadly, depending on which system it hacks. The system is randomised each time, so it may be wise to jump away if the Flagship hacks a critical system. Do not jump away if you only have 1 turn remaining before the Flagship destroys the base!

    The worst hack targets are usually weapons or shields. Beware using a defence drone to shoot down the hack; this rarely stops all the hacking drones, but it does change the hack timing. If you allow the hack to land immediately, then a shields hack will end before the Flagship can fire its laser or beam weapons.

    Perhaps more importantly, an immediate weapons hack will mostly overlap with the Flagship’s 10-second cloak. Delaying the hack changes this timing, with the result that you may be prevented from ever firing your weapons! You will not encounter this elsewhere in the game, since no other enemies have both hacking and cloaking.

    It’s sometimes possible to use a defence drone to selectively block hacks. You can watch where the drone is aiming, and then unpower if it looks like the hack is heading for an unimportant system. This could result in a delayed weapons or shields hack, however!

    Handling phase 2 drones [ edit | edit source ]

    You can use a defense drone to shoot down the Boarding Drone. Otherwise, it can be helpful to open internal doors and power your oxygen system to level 2: this will keep oxygen in the room, so your crew can fight it more easily.

    If you damage the Flagship’s drone system, the Boarding Drone is the first drone to go down. Further damage will take the regular combat and beam drones offline (not the power surge drones), and finally the defense drone.

    The power surge drones can potentially deal enormous damage, especially in later surges where the laser weapon may fire at the same time. In addition to good general defences, it’s useful to have fully-trained shields crew and a Shield Charge Booster. With these defences, you will usually take no damage from the power surge.

    Handling phase 3 boarders [ edit | edit source ]

    Unless you kill the crew in earlier phases, phase 3 will board you with most of their remaining crew. The Flagship will also use its level 3 mind control against you. These threats combined can be highly disruptive.

    You can counter their mind control with your own (level 1 is enough). Bear in mind that enemy boarders will always try to join your mind-controlled crew, and this can be used to your advantage. They will single-mindedly bash down blast doors without fighting your crew, so follow them around the ship for easy crew fights. Even if you have mind-control, you may want to delay using it for this reason.

    As always with boarding defence, proper use of venting is crucial for controlling enemy crew movement and stacking the fight in your favour. You can also use venting to force your mind-controlled crew into a different system.

    One highly-effective strategy is to “kidnap” the enemy boarders:

    • After phase 1, wait at the base until the Flagship returns to you.
    • Fight phase 2 at the base, then follow the Flagship when it jumps away.
    • This ensures you have a safe escape beacon (the base) in phase 3.
    • Wait until several enemies have boarded your ship, then jump to the base and kill them at your leisure.

    Boarding strategy (Easy and Normal) [ edit | edit source ]

    On Easy and Normal difficulty, all the Flagship’s weapons are isolated and vulnerable to boarding. This makes a teleporter very effective.

    Phase 1 can be completely neutralised by boarding the weapons with two crew. Board the missile weapon first, then the ion weapon, then the beam weapon. Once these weapons are destroyed, the Flagship cannot damage your ship (assuming you have 3 shields).

    You can now take your time killing off the crew in the main compartment. Killing these crew means that the Flagship will have no defence against your boarders in phases 2 and 3, and you will not need to deal with boarders in phase 3.

    There are various ways to kill the Flagship crew. You will need to plan around their level-3 medbay:

    • Destroy the medbay with your weapons, then fight inside it.
    • Use your weapons to snipe low-health crew running to the medbay.
    • Hack the medbay to finish off hurt enemy crew.
    • Hack another room to prevent hurt enemies escaping to the medbay.
    • Mind-control enemies, then teleport them back to your ship and kill them there.
    • Set the shields room on fire, and hack the room or mind-control the crew.

    It may help to break down doors, giving your crew more freedom of movement. Once broken down, enemy doors will not shut (unless the room is breached).

    This strategy is much more effective if you do not kill the crew in the Flagship’s laser weapon. Leaving one crew alive means the Flagship will not activate its AI, so any broken systems will stay broken, and the Flagship will have less evasion (the AI gets manning bonuses).

    In phase 2, board the missiles immediately with two crew. This will prevent them from ever firing. In phase 3, take down the Zoltan Shield as soon as you can, then board the missiles; a Zoltan Shield Bypass lets you board immediately.

    Hard mode strategy [ edit | edit source ]

    On Hard difficulty, the laser and missile weapons are connected to the main body of the Flagship. This makes the above boarding strategy much less effective, since the Flagship crew can contest your boarding and repair damage to those weapons. It also means the main body has two extra crew.

    Killing the crew is still possible in phase 1, but you must balance this against the need to avoid taking excessive damage from the missile launcher.

    With cloaking, even a single point of damage to the missiles (including ion damage) will allow your cloak to recharge in time for the next volley. With both cloaking and hacking, hacking the missiles will allow you to cloak every volley.

    With hacking, cloaking, and a teleporter: hack and cloak missiles, while boarding the ion and beam weapons. This neutralises the Flagship’s offence. You can then board missiles and gradually kill off the enemy crew, who will have difficulty escaping to the medbay since hacking locks the doors.

    Hacking by itself can be an effective way to kill crew, depending on your weapons setup. Hacking shields hampers enemy movement, creates a kill zone, and makes it easier for your weapons to destroy the missiles. Once missiles are down, send some lasers into the shields room. This has a good chance to start fires. Naturally, the Fire Beam and Fire Bomb can be even more effective. Once fires spread, enemy crew will not be able to put them out and will all eventually die.

    You can also use mind control to kill enemy crew. Level 2 mind control in the shields room will eventually thin out most of the Flagship crew. Mind control is an effective way to prevent crew putting out fires in the shields, or to prevent them repairing the missile weapon.

    When killing the crew, you may prefer to leave one crew alive in the main body of the Flagship, since this prevents the AI from activating. The AI is mostly a minor nuisance, however, and you may also prefer to kill all the crew for uncontested boarding.

    The Rebel Flagship is by far the most powerful vessel in the Rebel Fleet, and serves as the game's final boss, located in The Last Stand sector. At The Last Stand, the silhouette of the Rebel Flagship is visible hovering around a beacon, marking its location. Every two jumps you make, it will…