FTL Game Ship Boarding Comprehensive Guide by Aufklarer
This article is written with the intent of covering all aspects of boarding actions, both defensive and offensive.
What is boarding?
Boarding another vessel is made with the intent of damaging, killing or disabling crew and ship components in order to capture the vessel or gain a battle winning advantage.
To board an enemy vessel you must have two components. Firstly you must possess a teleport subsystem which for the most part you will have to buy from a store at an approx cost of 75 scrap. Some ships come pre-fitted with a teleport subsystem from the word go. These are:
Mantis Type A
Mantis Type B
Slug Type B
Crystal Type B
The second component to boarding is the shock troops. These are the guys who will don the battle gear, pick up the weapons and fight in close quarters with the enemy. Some races make better fighters than others.
Who should fight?
There are 7 different races in the game and some have unique traits. These traits often lend themselves to close combat actions, however it must be said that even though your crew may not be the best suited to close combat, it does not mean that they are not able to contribute to your combat effectiveness as a boarding action or indeed as a defending force.
Humans are the most basic race in game and consequently are a good all rounder, they have no major advantages or disadvantages in boarding actions.
Engi are the weakest race for direct combat but can still add to your combat power and should not be left idle during defensive actions unless they are performing a more important task. All damage inflicted is halved but they still contribute to combat well as supporting troops (see below). The increase in repair speed has no bearing on combat.
Mantis are the most capable of dealing damage in combat doing double the normal amount. If that was not good enough they also are able to move quickly on enemy ships and even quicker on their own due to Mantis Pheromones. They have a poor ability to repair but again this has no effect on combat. Your shock teams should contain as many mantis as possible.
Zoltans are effectively as competent as humans in the combat side of things, but are actually more valuable. During boarding actions especially defensive they are the best choice to man your subsystems due to their innate ability to provide one power to the subsystem they are manning.
Slugs again are as effective as a human for combat purposes. In my experience they are rare to come across and I have not used them extensively in defensive or offensive actions. The telepathic ability to observe what is in adjacent rooms is helpful in some cases such as sensor outage or ion storms.
Rockmen are incredibly resilient with additional 50hp and actually have a real part to play in boarding actions. Offensively they perform the role of a delaying boarding team brilliantly. Once upgraded in combat they outlast a stock mantis. They have the ability to teleport to AI ships with no O2 and survive a teleport recharge cycle. Lastly they bath in fire, emerging unscathed. This has great implications for us. If we are able to obtain fire bombs or fire beams we can set alight areas we are fighting in. By engaging in combat and then fire bombing your own shock troops the fight is conducted amidst a fiery inferno damaging everyone but our rockmen. Rockmen have a movement penalty of 50% but this penalty is a great trade off for all these positives.
Through your travels you may also encounter Crystals. Crystals share similar traits to rockmen in the fact they are resilient granting them a 25hp increase and are encumbered with a slowing effect of 20%.
Additionally they have the Lock-down ability. This is a crystal ability which charges as soon as you leave faster than light travel. When ready, you can activate his ability by mousing over his crew icon on the left hand side of the screen. Lock-down creates a wall of crystal around the outside of the room it is activated in. It will slowly degrade but is impervious to fire and also will stop the movement of enemy. Use him to impede the movement of enemy troops defensively or block off enemy crew running back to the med bay offensively, allowing you to slaughter them at will as they try to run. Additionally crystals take half damage from asphyxiation (O2) and consequently are able to board unmanned ships or operate within areas of your ship you have depressurised more effectively.
Type of combatant
It is worth noting that your shock troops engage enemy crew in a one on one basis. Troops participating in combat in this way should be known as main combatants. Any shock troop that has a numerical advantage and is not already a main combatant will then engage in combat by means of a ranged attack providing that the room has enough space to enter. These ranged combatants should be known as supporting troops. Supporting troops will receive no damage from combat while there are an equal number of main combatants engaged in combat, although they will still contribute to the overall combat by dealing damage. This is the way we should utilize our weaker combat troops in boarding actions. To ensure your selected crew member will enter battle as a supporting troop have him enter the fight after main combatants have already engaged.
Boarding Priorities and Types of Boarding
It is important to understand that boarding actions take a different priority depending on whether you are attacking or defending. Additionally the objectives of a boarding action can differ.
Defensive boarding actions are always a high priority. If left unchecked enemy shock troops can run riot inside your vessel and damage critical subsystems. The AI usually does not attack subsystems logically to give itself the advantage in the ongoing ship battle, which we can use to our advantage. It also rarely splits its combat power, preferring to attack as one unit. During defensive actions you must analyze the enemy weapon systems and make a judgement call on which systems must be critically maintained to withstand the enemy vessels firepower. Luckily an enemy vessel armed with shock troops generally does not also have a huge amount of ship to ship weapon systems. Once you have manned the subsystems that are critical to you, the remaining crew left will comprise your defensive force.
Offensive boarding actions generally speaking are of a low priority during encounters. This is due to the fact that you first have to win the firefight with an enemy vessel. I typically will not entertain boarding another vessel until the enemy weapon systems are neutralized and the defending crew have been wounded enough to make the assault viable. There will be occasions where an offensive boarding action will come high on your priority. This is usually due to the fact you have no way of damaging enemy weapon systems by beating his shields, although other scenarios can dictate the need for boarding quickly.
There are 3 main types of offensive boarding action and they can be described as follows:
-Surgical strikes –
These are the aggressive boarding actions used early on in an encounter. Surgical strikes are best used when you determine that a particular subsystem on the enemy ship is of significant threat (Drone Subsystem on the mother ship in phase 2 springs to mind). The objective being to get into the desired subsystem and do enough damage before the crew retaliates. This is in order to disable the subsystem quickly enough to allow your own ship to gain the advantage in the ship to ship firefight. Your shock troops are then returned to your own ship at the earliest opportunity. This type of action is especially effective with a teleport subsystem that allows the movement of 4 shock troops at a time.
This is the most common objective when boarding. Your going to the enemy vessel and your there to stay! Occupation is achieved by killing all enemy crew members. (Think storm troopers in star wars taking the rebel cruiser in a new hope) This is best achieved mid fight, once you have subdued the enemy weapon systems and their crew is busy repairing. I tend to send my boarding party in to damaged subsystems I have hammered for a while which will serve two purposes. Firstly the defenders will be wounded from repairing a room under direct fire. Secondly it stops that system from being repaired while the fight is in progress.
Delaying actions are similar to surgical strike actions but are used not to destroy an enemy subsystem but to delay the enemy crew from repairing it. As soon as you burst into that room and engage them in close combat they down tools and defend themselves. Rockmen are particularly effective at delaying actions due to their high health. Again once you have gained the advantage your crew are returned to your ship for tea and medals.
How to conduct an offensive boarding action
Once you have decided who will form your shock troops and what type of objective you wish to complete you will need to que you troops in the teleport room. Once positioned you need to click on the teleport button which is located to the right of your teleport subsystem icon in the bottom left. There are two possible choices teleport out and recover, the uppermost icon is teleport out. Once you have done this you now need to select your desired teleport location on the enemy ship. Remember there is a cool down dependent on your teleport subsystem upgrade, so once you send your troops they will be in contact with the enemy until the teleport is functional again. It is worth mentioning that this applies for both teleporting out and also bringing your troops back, the cool down is shared and you must manage the delivery of your troops as well as the recovery. This is especially prevalent when using a 2 man teleport subsystem.
To recover your troops you need to click the recover teleport icon and then select the room on the enemy ship you wish to recover from. Be aware that the teleport will only recover friendly troops from a single room that you select. If your team is split you will either need to recover them individually or group them and do it as one. It is possible to recover up to 4 shock troops with your 2 man teleporter. Once an enemy ship is captured be sure to make recovery your first priority, as enemy ships may still succumb to fires, weapons fire or even asteroids. Having survived the brutal close quarter combat and seizure of an enemy vessel it would be a shame to loose your shock troops to negligence.
In defence blast doors slow enemies considerably and impede the speed that fire spreads. Dont like fighting when the enemy have superior numbers? then let them out of the 4 man room and into a 2 man room. Lock the bulkheads behind them and kill the 2 you let in while the other enemy try to bust down the door. This gives you the advantage when numerically outnumbered. Additionally airlocks can be used with the asphyxiation technique in defence. Treat the enemy like a fire and blast all their oxygen into space along with their lifeless bodies! Remember the harder the blast doors the longer it takes for them to bust down.
During occupation missions be sure to stop all firing once you have gained the upper hand, if the enemy are fighting for their lives noone is going to repair their weapons, so stop hammering them. All you will achieve is putting your troops in danger and wasting your drones/missiles.
It goes without saying that fighting in your own med bay is a great tactic. You will out heal the damage and even weak races can beat stronger enemy while fighting in the med bay. As much as it is a strong defensive technique be sure to not be overly defensive and wait for the enemy to trash your whole ship just so you can fight them in the med bay. The situation might become untenable if you let them damage your shields and weapons etc. Remember your still fighting a ship to ship battle too!
Fighting on an offensive boarding action against a crew with a med bay can be tricky. You have 2 main options although there are other unique situations where med bays can be overcome, but generally they are either to overwhelm the crew in the med bay which is difficult or disable it in some way. It is a good target for a surgical strike if you going to go for the disable. If you want to overwhelm the enemy i would not recommend it unless you have a 4 man shock team of mantis/rockmen.
-Being Forced back-
Crew are hard to come by, so loosing one can be a real blow. Especially if it was your lead combat mantis or rockman hero. Its better to fall back before sending more troops in if you have troops que’d. Nothing is going to stop you from pulling out, opening up with all your ship weapons while your team heals and gets ready to go back again. While your healing, the enemy crew will be healing up themselves (if able) and then setting about getting their ship back in fighting order. By the time your going back in for the second assault they will at best only be back to basic functionality. If they do not have a med bay you will overwhelm them eventually.
Extracting a team that is in danger of being killed is a real possibility especially if you get a random weapons hit or asteroid hit for example in the room your fighting in. If you need to keep your shock troops alive while you wait for the teleport cool down then run your team around the enemy ship. You wont be causing much havoc but you will not be taking damage either unless your team is particularly slow or gets caught in a dead end.
If a surgical strike does not go to plan consider cutting your losses and either destroying the enemy ship or FTL the hell out of dodge to fight another day. It pains me to leave precious loot behind but the life of a boarder is a lucrative one.
The system itself has a cooldown depending on the upgrade. Take this into account when planning assaults and recoveries.
A boarding action cannot be achieved while an enemy vessel has zoltan shields up. Knock them down and you will be free to teleport. Although you can teleport through your own.
Hopefully I have given a decent incite into boarding and the mechanics/tactics involved. All information has been gained by personal experience and if anyone wishes to contribute something to this thread I would be glad to include it in my guide. I wanted to write this because when I started playing I had no idea how to board successfully but now I cant stop myself from taking what I want!