FTL Game Defending Against Missiles Guide

FTL Game Defending Against Missiles Guide by NWade

Although FTL has a lot of randomness to it, there is also a lot of strategy involved! The situation you find yourself in will dictate which strategy you need to use. You really need to keep this in mind, and change your actions/strategies throughout the game. I see a lot of people posting about hull damage and dying early, and I think defending against missiles is one of the problems people run into. Beyond mere survival, better missile-defense means you spend less scrap on repairing your hull – and more scrap goes into ship upgrades (so you can survive in later sectors).

The first thing to understand is that your main shield never helps against missiles or bombs.

There are only three ways to defend against missiles:

  1. Dodge the Missile
  2. Have a Defense Drone (which will usually shoot down the incoming Missile)
  3. Prevent the enemy from firing its missiles

This knowledge can guide you to what you have to do, in order to maximize your missile defense.


The “Evade” skill is critical here. There are several ways you increase the chances you can evade a shot –

  • Improve your Engines (upgrade them and don’t forget to provide more power to them)
  • Put a crew-member at the Engine-room station (this provides an initial boost; and then it will get better as the crew-member levels-up their engine skill)
  • Put a crew-member at the Helm station (this provides an initial boost over the autopilot – even if you have upgraded the helm. The boost will also get better as the crew-member levels-up their piloting skill)


This is pretty straightforward. Getting a level 1 or level 2 defense-drone takes a lot of the “bite” out of enemies with missiles. The upside of having a defense drone is that you’ll hardly ever take a missile hit with one active. The downside is that drones require power and are a consumable item – so now you have to either get drone parts while exploring, or spend scrap to buy them at stores. You never run out of “evade”; but you can certainly run out of drones! Also, you need to pay attention to the drones during combat. They can occasionally fail, get destroyed, or lose power (because your drone room takes damage). When they’re working, they’re far more effective than relying on your evade skill; but they also take more effort to manage.


Since we’re talking about upgrading and powering your systems, let me also spend a minute talking about how to “improve” your defense by managing power during a battle. The key is to match your defensive systems with your enemy’s capabilities. The PAUSE feature is your friend – use it! Especially during the first moment you enter combat. Take a minute to examine the enemy ship. After your first few play-throughs you will learn to recognize which weapons are which. Set your strategy (tips provided below), change power levels, target weapons, and give crew orders… only un-pause after you’ve done all this.

If the enemy you’re fighting only has lasers/beam-weapons:

  • Make sure your shields are fully-powered. If you need to, remove some power from your medbay** and/or engines so that you can fully power your shields.
  • Have a good crew-member sitting at the shield-room console.
  • If you have excess crew, put one in the shields room so that they provide additional repair speed if the shields become damaged.
  • Unless they have a lot of lasers and you have a Mk II Defense drone (which can take out incoming laser-fire), do not waste a defense drone – save the parts. I recommend this, even in an asteroid field (drones can take out asteroids just like missiles, but the asteroids can take out your drone and then you’ve really wasted the parts)!

If the enemy you’re fighting can hurt you more with missiles/bombs than with lasers:

NOTE: This is more than just counting how many weapon systems the enemy has. You have to factor in your shield-level and the enemy’s power/charge-time of any lasers/beams, to understand how likely it is that the enemy can do hull/system damage with their lasers/beams.

  • Make sure your engines are fully-powered. If you need to, remove some power from your medbay** and/or 1 level of shields (which frees up 2 energy) so that you can fully power your engines. This maximizes your evade skill.
  • Have 1 good crew-member in both the engine-room and at the helm.
  • If you have excess crew, put one of them in the engine-room and/or the helm – so that they provide additional repair speed if these systems become damaged. If you only have 1 spare crew-member, I advocate putting them in the engine-room.
  • If you have defense drones, ignore the previous bullet-point and place at least 1 spare crew member (who’s good at repair) in the drone-control room. You want quick repairs so that the defense drone comes back online without too many missiles getting through while the system is damaged!

**BEWARE if the enemy has a Transporter. You may need to shift power back to the medbay if you get boarded


Deciding what part of an enemy ship to attack is a very complicated subject. Any advice I give here is going to be a general rule-of-thumb, not a directive to follow 100% of the time. But in general, if the enemy has missiles and/or bombs you want to take out their weapons systems as soon as possible. The less damage the enemy can do to you, the easier it’ll be for you to take your time in combat and whittle them down (or board them and kill their crew, if that’s how you roll).

  • The most effective way to do this is with your own missiles/bombs aimed at their weapons-room.
  • If you only have lasers/beams:
    1. Make sure autofire is on (yes, have it on despite what some people say about it – you’ll see why in a moment).
    2. Make sure your weapons are activated, but un-target all of them from anything (click on a weapon to get the targeting reticle, then right-click out in space to clear the target without powering the system down).
    3. The weapons will charge and turn green.
    4. As soon as all of your weapons have turned green, pause the game.
    5. Now select each of your lasers and target the enemy’s weapons-room.
    6. When you un-pause, all of your lasers will fire in unison and the volley should get through several layers of shields – hopefully damaging the weapons room.
    7. If you have any beam weapons, pause the game as soon as the lasers hit the enemy ship.
    8. Target the weapons-room with your beam(s).
    9. Then unpause and the beam should fire immediately (before the shields regenerate).
    10. Rinse and repeat this series of steps until the enemy missile/bomb systems are all offline.

Once you take down their weapons systems, you can often take a 1-2 rounds to target the enemy’s shields and try to damage those (so that future laser volleys do more hull damage). But be sure to come back to the weapons-systems and hit them again (even if they’re still red) – to ensure that the enemy doesn’t get their missiles/bombs back online.


The Rebel fleet only advances when you jump. So be *sure* to take some time after each combat/encounter to heal your crew, repair damage, let Oxygen levels recover to 100%, etc. Open your ship screen before you jump and decide if you want to spend scrap on upgrades, or re-arrange equipment. Only jump after doing these things.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things, but I’ll come back and edit this as I find things to add (or people remind me of items). Hopefully these tips and ideas will give you a better chance of surviving the dangerous Galaxies in FTL!

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