FTL Game Ship Boarding Detailed Guide

FTL Game Ship Boarding Detailed Guide by Emperorzoltan

For those of you whom are curious about boarding, and are reluctant to try it for the first time, this guide is for you! Boarding is a high risk / reward method of playing, and I have found it to be extremely effective throughout the exploration stage, as well as highly useful for the final boss fight. This guide will explore the basics of boarding, race and ship overviews, and tactics to maximize your effectiveness.

xIx: What is boarding?
x2x: How do I get started with boarding?
x3x: Crew and ship selection
x4x Boarding 101: Getting ready to board
x5x: The final encounter: Rebel mothership
x6x: General boarding tips:
Still to come: Weapons breakdown, recommended upgrade path


xIx: What is boarding?
Boarding is the act of sending your crew over to another ship, where they can damage rooms and kill enemy crew members. Once the enemy crew is destroyed, the encounter is complete and the player is rewarded with a generally higher than average reward. As with all encounters, the rewards are randomly generated, however the act of a boarding victory presents rewards that are generally not provided had the player simply destroyed the enemy ship. The rewards for a boarding victory include possible crew additions, weapon or drone pickups, and ship upgrades such as scrap collector arms. However, boarding is also a much higher risk method, due to the fragility of your boarding crew members. Played poorly, you will find your crew dying quickly and your game over prematurely. So read on, and find out how to mitigate the risk and reap the rewards!

x2x: How do I get started with boarding?
There are two methods available to board: the purchase of a crew teleporter upgrade or the use of the drone control ship upgrade with boarding drones installed. Some ships come with these upgrades installed, but for those without either of these upgrades, a teleporter costs 75 scrap, and a drone control 80.
So, let’s identify the pros and cons of using boarding with the two available options

+ cheap: 75 scrap, single power unit requirement, upgrading to max only costs another 90 scrap and halves the use cooldown to 10 secs.
+ efficient: boarding can allow you to save on missile and drone use
+ reactor dynamic: for encounters which are not boarding friendly (such as unmanned drones), simply rededicate the power to another area.
+ dialogue: provides some random encounters with a blue teleporter option, which can greatly assist you in various ways.
+ crew experience: your crew members can level up and increase the damage they inflict by 10% per combat level. Having two dedicated combat crew members will make them more effective as time goes on, and makes events in which your ship is invaded significantly easier.
– risky: losing a crew member can be a serious blow.

Boarding drones:
+ cheap: a boarding drone only costs 2 power, and uses 1 drone / use.
+ risk free: avoids potential crew loss
+ breach: a boarding drone always inflicts breach in the room you select. This will slow down repair and tie up enemy crew, as well as creating oxygen issues.
+ strong: drones have 150hp, equal to a rockman.
– energy management: although cheap at 2 power units, in the endgame power is extremely scarce due to shield and weapon management. The drone slot can also be put to better use.
– luck reliant: boarding drones are extremely rare, and no ships start off with them. (require confirmation from unlocked variants).
– lower damage, no backup: a drone will not do as much damage as two crew members, and will lose a 2 on 1 fight 90% of the time.
– no experience upgrades: drones do not get stronger with time as crew members do
– drone bay damage: if your drone bay is damaged, the drone will go offline

It’s worth noting that there’s nothing stopping you from using both teleporters and boarding drones, however for most situations 2 boarding crew is ideal.

x3x: Crew and ship selection
Each ship can carry a maximum of 8 crew at a time. Some races make better boarders, however there are some very strong synergies worth exploring which will make your game much more effective

Rockmen: A+
Rockmen have 150hp. This HP bonus is massive, and makes all the difference for ensuring combat survival, the most important trait for boarders. Additionally, they are immune to fire, making them great when used in conjunction with certain weapons. The speed penalty is a pain if the ship you have selected has the teleporter and medbay, but not a deal breaker. Very strong repairers as well. The best boarders.

Mantis: A
Manti are exceptional boarders, due to their double damage bonus and 1.2x movement speed. A level 2 combat mantis is deadly and will cut down opponents and rooms like butter. They have 100hp, which unfortunately makes them a little fragile. They really suck at repairing tho, making their use at home limited.

Human: C
Humans have no bonuses or weaknesses. They have 100hp. They are common and uninteresting.

Slugmen: C
Having one is kinda sorta useful if you’re exploring a lot of nebula, but they make for average boarders due to a lack of any bonuses. It’s also pretty rare you find one.

Engi: D
Engi deal only 50% damage in combat. They make excellent repair men tho, as well as the exceptional pilots. Keep em at home.

Zoltan: F
With only 70hp, these guys suck as boarders and defenders. However, they make the best gunners, engineers and shieldguys, due to their 1 power bonus. Take as many of these as you can and stick them in one of those 3 slots, power is yummy!

Crystal: B+
With 125 HP and the lockdown ability to shut doors and make the room to damage, these guys make great defenders. However the only way to get them is via the rare stasis pod event or starting with the crystal ship. I’d avoid using them as boarders as they can really help out on the ship.

I wont go over all the ships here, as this initial choice is somewhat unimportant in the long run. However there are some clear winners if you’re going after a boarding ship build.
Rockmen ship: The bulwark. A+
Starting off with 3 rockmen ensures you have the strongest possible lineup possible right from the getgo.

Zoltan ship: Adjudicator. A+
Starting off with 3 zolan provides you with a massive 3 power bonus. This allows for even more loadout options, which really counts for the final fight. The ship is more luck reliant s you will need to find strong crew members to do the boarding for you.

Mantis ship: The gila monster. C
3 mantis and an engi starting crew and a free teleporter from the getgo sounds great on paper, but unfortunately the weapon loadout on this ship is pathetic. A basic laser won’t get through any kind of shield, and the small bomb will chew through your missile stock rapidly. Add to that the fact that the most populous enemies you fight in the starting zone are unmanned drones, which under no circumstances should be boarded, and you’ll find starting with this ship extremely frustrating.

Human ship: The torus. B
2 engi and a human ensure you’ve got a decent starting crew for manning the stations, and starting with an ion blast mk2, the best ion weapon, makes this ship a great boarding choice. You’ll just need to start boarding a little later on. Also, the free passive healing due to the engi medbot dispersal augmentation really helps as well.

x4x Boarding 101: Getting ready to board

Before you’re ready to board, you need a couple of things in place. First and foremost is damage mitigation; before even purchasing the teleporter, you’ll need the ensure you have sufficient shielding. Ensure you have at least 1 higher shield point than the enemies you face in that area; getting level 2 shielding should only cost about 90 scrap total (2 shield points and 2 reactor points) for most ships, and is vital to ensure you keep repair costs down. This should be the first thing purchased for any ship, regardless of build. Next, we want to ensure that you can avoid as much incoming ship damage as possible. In this case the best defence is a good offence; knock out the enemies’ weapon control room as quickly as possible, ensuring that no nasty missiles can get through your shielding. I’d highly recommend ion weapons for this task; they’re cheap and efficient, and don’t use ammunition. Missiles and bombs work well too, but beware your diminishing ammo levels. Once the above is in place, and you are able to approach a standard battle without risk of too much damage, it’s time to start investing in your teleporter for boarding. Buy a teleporter and the level 2 sensor upgrade, so you can see the enemy ships interior. Decide on two crew members whom you want to be your boarders (preferably 2 rockmen, but manti work well also). Then you’re good to get started!

There are 3 cardinal rules to combat with boarding. Break them at your own risk!
1) Don’t shoot at rooms your men are in. Your guys will take damage! This does not apply to ion weapons.
2) Turn off autofire if you’re not using ion weapons. Blowing a ship up with your crew onboard will lose those boarders!
3) Run and heal! If your crew is below 50% and it doesn’t look like they are going to kill the enemy, teleport them home, heal up, and come back swinging when they are rested up.

The most important aspect of boarding is ensuring a guaranteed safe combat environment; no matter what ship you board, your boarders must have a 100% chance of coming back alive. This means that your boarders must be able to survive long enough for your teleporter’s cooldown to reset, so you can get them to the medbay. Initially this risk level can be very hard to judge, so I’d recommend purchasing the more advanced teleporter upgrades sooner rather than later if you’re new to this, so as to provide yourself with a safety net.

They key to successfully winning via boarding is identifying the enemy ship’s crew makeup and room distribution. If you’re outnumbered, be prepared to teleport your guys home for a heal, and never fight in large 2×2 rooms where you can get outgunned. The AI will prioritise rooms such as the piloting, medbay and engines, and will always reinforce these rooms with as many crew as the room can hold at the time. Sending your crew into the weapons bay is usually a safe bet, and allows you with a quick 2v1 fight in your favour. However this can be risky if you’re using damage weapons, which will hurt you guys.

Although damage dealt in combat is slightly random, it’s best to assume that if you’re going up against a rockman or manti, you’re going to lose. Play it safe and soften them up a bit with weapons fire before sending your guys in If you’re fighting anything else, just make sure you keep an eye on how many enemies are inside the ship at the time, as the AI will sometimes swap them out.

As a general rule of thumb, any ship with has a medbay is a risky target for boarding as you’ll need to manage disrupting the standard shields / weapons as well as the medbay. Keeping all 3 rooms supressed is difficult and will often lead to your ship taking more damage than usual. Enemy crew fighting in their working medbay are invincible; never do it.

Although it may seem nice, having 2 teams of boarders is something I tend to shy away from; the crew capacity is better spent on zoltan and engi, whom provide much needed support on the ship. And with a 10 sec CD, your teleporter will be better used getting the one team to healing as necessary.

As the game progresses, you’re going to want to focus on alternating upgrades on your weapons and shields, and ignore engines. If you’re got the zoltan on board, a drone bay is definitely worth the investment, but without them you cant muster the power for max everything. Getting cloaking will help greatly in stage 2 of the final fight, the most deadly encounter in the game, but it’s not compulsory.

x5x: The final encounter: Rebel mothership
So, you’ve made it this far. Hopefully by now you’ve maxxed our your weapons, shields, and have cloaking. A drone bay with 4 power slots and an advanced defence drone will also assist greatly. A combination of ion, bomb and beam weapons are ideal for this fight, as you’ll want to whittle the shields down with your ion weapons and bombs, and strike with the beam when the shields are depleted. You will be making surgical strikes with your boarders, whom make this fight much easier if used well.

Fight 1: slow and steady
This fight is rather simple, the enemy ship will only attack with its 4 main guns and has no overcharge attacks. You’ll notice that the 4 guns each have their own weapon control room directly underneath the gun which is manned by a single lonely trooper; your goal in this phase should be to take down each of those rooms one at a time with your boarders, then finish the main ship off. Although the mothership repairs systems damage after each fight, it does not replace lost crew; taking down these crewmembers now will make destroying the same weapon rooms in the next phase that much faster, which is important as we will go into later.

Start by sending your boarders to the triple missile launcher, which is the 3rd from the left. If left alone, this turrent will ruin your day with fires and room suppression. The other 3 aren’t too bad, and the far left can be completely ignored as it will be destroyed permanently when you finish this phase. Do not send boarders into the main ship area; they will get outnumbered and destroyed. Unlike every other fight in the game, killing the enemy crew does not result in victory here; the ship AI will take over and start repairing every room. Not cool.
Meanwhile, your guns should be focused on supressing the shields. When all 4 shields are down, strike with your beam weapon for maximum damage.

The enemy stealth shouldn’t effect you too much this fight, however note that while the enemy ship is stealthed you cannot teleport your crew to or from the ship. Be careful if you’re sending boarders over with less that full health.
Make sure to heal everyone up and extinguish all the leftover fires, then chase the mothership again for phase 2.

Fight 2: owwie
This fight is hands down the most challenging encounter in the game; not only does the ship send waves of drones at you constantly, you will be constantly assaulted by a boarding drone! As soon as you get the warning about an incoming power surge, slap 3 points of power into your stealth and turn it on; you won’t be able to avoid every wave, but the first is the most important given that all the enemy ships guns are up. If they get through, expect to lose 1/3 of your ships hull HP, as well as tons of fires and system damage. Not fun.

Having a defensive drone here helps greatly with intercepting the incoming weapons fire and invading drone. If you haven’t got a defense drone, or the enemy drone breaks through, get ready for the hurt. Should the enemy drone invader has landed in a corridor, ignore it; as soon as you destroy the drone, another will be deployed almost immediately, up to a maximum of 7. Unless the drone is directly attacking a vital room, you’re best just ignoring it.
Meanwhile, follow the same process with your boarders as in phase 1; start with the missile launcher, work on the other guns next. Keep your guns pointed at the shiel, beam as many rooms as possible when the shields are down.

Fight 3: die already!
This fight easier than the last, however don’t get cocky. The boss gets 2 overcharge moves; a zoltan shield which must be taken down before you can teleport again, and a wave of green laser bolts that are easily avoided by stealth. Enemy troops will also invade your ship via the teleporter, so be prepared from some fighting. Try to lure them to the medbay and fight them there, if possible.

Follow the same damage strategy as above, and you should reign victorious!

x6x: General boarding tips:
– Never, ever, EVER under any circumstances board an unmanned drone. These ships have no oxygen inside and will kill your boarders quickly due to oxygen deprivation.
– Ion weapons have great synergy with boarders. My favourite weapons layout for a boarding ship is 2 x heavy ion + 2 x Halberd beam; this provides great ion suppression of the weapons room and shields, as well as huge hitting power if I need to destroy a ship instead of boarding it.
– When the enemy ship is cloaked, you cannot teleport to or from the enemy ship. This does not apply if your ship is cloaked.
– When in a nebula, keep an eye on the opening and closing doors on the enemy ships. You can infer which rooms are occupied. There will always be 1 crew inside the bridge, but the AI will always send backup to the bridge.
– Don’t ever fight the giant spiders. You will not win. You will lose a guy. It will make you cry.
– Always board slaver ships; if they do not surrender and offer you a crew member, there’s still a good chance that if you did no ship damage that a slave will survive and join you.

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