FTL: The Fatal Frontier – The Last Stand

Having a number one

These were the voyages of the Starship Moggy. Its eight-sector mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new weapons and new system upgrades, to boldly go somewhere no-one has come back alive from before (apart from save-scummers).

Sector 8. The end of the line.

Jump 1

OK, let’s appraise the situation. Full hull, plenty of fuel, two guns, three drones (can’t use ’em all at once, mind), six crew, final sector, the enemy flagship is five jumps away. ARE WE READY FOR THIS?

The immediate question is whether to make a beeline straight for the flagship, lest it get to close to Federation HQ while I’m noodling away on the other side of the sector, or jump around the immediate area trying to raise a few more supplies?

I rather think I’d like to avoid the inevitable for now, if it’s all the same to you.

We jump straight to a rebel ship, of course. No more running away this time. We fight or we die, as someone with a buzzcut once said.

I like this enemy ship’s compact layout, because I can target 5 rooms at once with my hull beam. Zapzapzapzapzap.

We take some hits, we win some scrap. Not enough of it to be useful – yet.

Jump 2

Straight to a repair yard, seeing as it’s so local. Free hull repairs! I would have killed for this in the last seven sectors.

Of course, the rebels will have taken this repair yard for their own nefarious, barely-explained purposes soon enough. Thanks for the assist, guys.

Jump 3

Another rebel, which is no surprise. They beam two invaders straight to our cockpit, but as they’re mere human fleshbags they’re no match for the mighty Security Officer Dengler. Sic ’em, boy.

These blighters have tier 3 shields again, which makes the fight more drawn-out than I’d like. Soon enough though, the babies are pleading for mercy.

They’re in my people’s home sector, slaughtering them, seeking to eradicate all they hold dear, and they ask for mercy? I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR.

We survive with no hits. Yay! Still not quite enough scrap for what I want, though. Not quite…

Jump 4

Another rebel, and this one’s got all the tricks. A level 4 shield, a couple of drones, a pair of invaders and it’s relentlessly and successfully trying to knock my weapons offline.

We’re locked in an awful stalemate, neither of us doing any damage. I could end this by fleeing, but I’m living on borrowed time as it is – I don’t want to heap any more shame upon myself than I need to.

I switch out my Defence Drone II (which uses 4 power) for my two attack drones (2 power each). It’s putting ourselves at risk, but effectively doubling our damage. Can we hit, and hard, before they take down our shields?

We can. I feel good. No running today.

The Rebel offers surrender. I grudgingly accept, cursing myself all the while, as it’s offering a generous amount of scrap in exchange for its life.

It’s enough: with it, I can buy two drone room upgrades and one reactor, meaning I can now push out one of my attack drones in addition to the defence one. I’m 10 scrap short of getting a second reactor upgrade, which means I’ll have to turn something off to power both drones. I think we can stand to lose 5% of evasion capability from the engine, can’t we? Er.

Jump 5

Nothing. Not a sausage. We’re in the middle of a galactic war and there’s nothing here. Bit creepy, really.

I could do with a bit more scrap, but the rebel flagship is now but two jumps from our homebase. We can delay no longer. We have to go and save the universe now. Uh. Have I got time for a coffee first? Or a holiday? A holiday would be lovely. No? OK.

Jump 6

We emerge into the shadow of a ship far, far larger than anything we’ve seen before. It has more rooms than Hugh Hefner, four of which are dedicated to weapons. It has a level 4 shield. It has All The Drones. It’s a behemoth. And I am terrified.

Attack drone + defence drone, go!
Ion blast vs shield, go!
Hull beam vs drone control, 1x weapon room, the camera room and an empty room, go!

It immediately goes into stealth, the fuck.

Still cloaked, with me unable to fire a shot, it lands a direct hit to my engines, followed by an ion blast to my shields. Hey, that’s my trick!

Time… slows. Becomes a sequence of still images. I blink and I’m in a different crisis. Blink again and the scene has changed, now with more fire, more breaches.

Blink. Engine and oxygen supply, hit and on fire. Steven and Dengler rush to the latter with fire extinguishers.

Blink. A breach in an empty room. Ohm heads over, arc welder in hand.

Blink. Drone room and weapon room partially damaged, yellow art. Hull beam is offline. Defence drone is offline. Steven and Dengler are on route, having dealt with the oxygen room fire.

Blink. There’s not been even a single a hit on the enemy yet. But our weapons are back online…

Blink. They’re down to one shield! We can do this!

Blink. A breach in our medbay. Air rushes out, the lights turn red.

Blink. A breach in our door control room.

Blink. A missile takes out our cameras. I can’t even see where the fires are now.

Blink. We’re down to 50% hull. We score a third hit on theirs. We can do this!

Blink. Dengler and Steven are burned alive while trying to extinguish a fire in the medbay. We don’t have time to grieve.

Blink. Our dones are all offline.

Blink. Our weapons are all offline.

Blink. The cockpit is on fire.

Blink. We get one attack drone back out there.

Blink. Our hull is at 5%. Our oxygen is at 20%.

Blink. Missiles incoming. Lasers incoming. Drones incoming. Everything is offline.

Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea!

Roll credits.


  1. Didero says:

    Yeah, you really need a teleporter for the boss fight, at least to take out the missile launcher.

    I never really succeeded in killing the crew, but taking out (a few of ) its main weapons makes the fight a LOT easier.

    I still only defeated the boss once, on Easy.

    • TNG says:

      Funny you should say that: the only two times I’ve managed to defeat the boss were without a teleporter (missiles straight to the shield generator while having engines upgraded to the max and dodging their missiles like a boss).

      If you are aiming at cleaning up the crew, a couple of missiles to the medbay will help considerably.

      • Smashbox says:

        But don’t kill the whole crew or it will have been wasted effort when the automated systems kick on. Leave one poor soul alive.

        • GrayFox2510 says:

          One day later…
          I happen to disagree. Sure, it’s not an instant-win, but if you have an attack crew, during the next fights you can send them in to easily destroy their shields (since they will be lacking Stealth) very quick and other systems (since they don’t have Improved Blast Doors anymore either).

          This allows you to easily hit their turrets with your weapons (I don’t believe much in Ion weapons) with 100% Accuracy if you take the cockpit down (right next to the shields!), and take down the Drone system for fight 2.

          But that’s just me.

      • Lev Astov says:

        That just gave me a dastardly idea. What would happen if you just focused missiles on their O2 supply and med bay? Don’t even try to damage the hull, just eliminate their oxygen until the whole crew dies. Would the game just end?

        Edit: Oh, it has automated systems? Cheating computers, can we never get away from that even in indie games?

        • Lprsti99 says:

          It’s actually a rather important point that AI takes over if you kill off the entire crew: It means that you can beat the flagship using only boarders or fire weapons and the like. If you have no way to do hull damage directly, you can still kill it by damaging subsystems down to 0. If the AI didn’t auto repair damage in the event of all humans being dead, there’d be no way to do damage if you relied on fire/boarders once you offlined everything.

          Now, why the AI doesn’t immediately vent the ship upon all friendly humans being dead….

          • Tacroy says:

            It can’t, the ship has no airlocks.

          • Slurpy says:

            Man, what a lousy design. Who built it, Ford?!

          • Baardago says:

            You guys are forgetting one easy workaround to the AI-mode activating after the entire crew is dead: you don’t need to kill the entire crew!

            Board the ship and kill the guy (and take out the system, obviously) in the missiles, the ion cannons and the beams, in this order, to eliminate the flagship’s offensive capabilities, THEN you kill off the rest of the crew… except for the guy in the lasers. (Second gun room, from left to right) Why the lasers? Because the ion and beam rooms will disappear through the 2nd and 3rd stages, and it’s too risky to leave the missiles up. The lasers are harmless – if you’ve been playing properly, they won’t ever stand a chance of taking your shields down and causing damage.

            This way, you keep one of the crew alive ’till the final stage, meaning that the AI won’t take over, but his room is not connected to the rest of the ship at all, so he can’t go there to do something about your boarders. The rest of the crew neither, ’cause they’re… well… dead!

            Should be easy to take the flagship down, then.

            Why haven’t I succeded, yet? Well… it’s tricky to kill off the entire bloody crew outside when they keep running back to the medbay (which doesn’t stay down long enough for my boarders to kill them)! The battle just becomes one boring stalemate at stage 1!

        • Phasma Felis says:

          That works pretty well on ships other than autodrones and the boss, though.

    • Klonopin says:

      Easiest win I had was engi ship with ion bomb and two halberd beams. Once I knocked down the shields I could carve the ship up incredibly quickly.

      • JCD says:

        It’s amazing how many different strategies will work in this game. I’ve had an easy win with an Engi Type A like you mentioned (no cloak, no teleporter) and another with a completely different Federation Cruiser Type A. Other times I get whooped before the third sector. There is no single system, subsystem or weapon type in this game that you need to win.

        • Groove says:

          Yeah, people will claim that you need exact weapons to beat the final boss but you really don’t need anything specific. It’s true that if you’ve limped through the game and can only barely beat regular late-game ships then you’ll have a lot of trouble, but that’s to be expected frankly.

    • wisnoskij says:

      That is the best and necessary for general builds, any two crew beamed over will take care of the devastating missiles, and if you have full shields/engines then the rest are not too bad. Knock out a second weapon and it does will not really have enough firepower to knock through your shields.

      Funnily, you actually do not want to kill all the crew from what I hear, it as a brutally efficient auto repair feature then.

      • Chizu says:

        Yeah, my last run on the flagship, I left one enemy crew member, however, I carelessly left the one in the laser beam room, and after the second attack on the flagship, that wing got blown off. Leaving me to deal with an autoship.
        And then it ruined me, and everyone on my ship suffocated.

      • jalf says:

        Hmm, I killed off all the crew, and didn’t really have too much trouble with the automatic thing. It couldn’t kill my boarders, so they were still free to stomp around wrecking systems, and it couldn’t repair fast enough to make a difference

    • Grey Ganado says:

      I once had two Mark II Burst Lasers and two Mark I Burst Lasers and was able to power all of them at the same time, you wouldn’t believe how fast that flagship went down.

    • Carra says:

      “You need a teleporter” or “you need the stealth system” or “you need a defense drone” to beat him.

      I finished it only once on normal mode with neither. I used the engi ship with 2 ion blasters + 1 laser + 3 attack lvl 1 drones and some 50% evasion, 3 shield points. With all that firepower it went down very fast.

      Haven’t managed to finish it since though :(

    • Continuity says:

      Its not so bad, I’ve done it on easy and normal, with no teleporter (in fact I’ve never installed one). Just need missiles and an ion gun, plus a decent laser. Oh and two defence drones and a fully upgraded ship.

      Thats all.

  2. Faldrath says:

    Poor Moggy and its valiant crew.

    But yes, if you can’t take out the triple missile launcher, you’re pretty much screwed against the flagship.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Surely we all saw it coming and were grieving in advance. FTL is nothing if not “Get Squished By Boss: The Game”. On Easy the rest of the game is trivial but the boss is essentially unbeatable unless you’ve had a really, really lucky run. I haven’t bothered to try Normal in case the boss is even harder.

      link to quickmeme.com

  3. Sidion says:

    Hahahaha, that sounds like my first encounter with the boss.

    Poor Dengler.

    • Lemming says:

      My first encounter was a bit more of a FAIL. I managed to take it out in phase 1 without too much trouble, then stupidly decided I could just go swanning around the sector looking for scrap to repair with not realising it’s game over the minute it jumps to the Fed base. :(

  4. jonfitt says:

    Aw, nice try. Bravo and all that. I’ve still not beaten the boss on Easy.

  5. Ateius says:

    Teleporter ideally; failing that, spam a lot of missiles or bombs. Once the weapons are down and the one-crew-per are dead, there’s no way for the flagship to get them online again.

    Mind, that still hasn’t helped me figure out that horrible, horrible drone stage …

    Anyway, great read, Alec. Loved the series. Encore?

    • greedow says:

      you cloak…it’s the best way to deal with that many drones…

    • Hematite says:

      It seems essential to take out the drone control quickly, and since they have huge shields and a defence drone the only way I’ve managed it is with some kind of bomb (since the drone shoots down missiles, but the bomb teleports straight in).

      I think it’s a bit of a flaw that I can’t see any way of making it through there without a bomb weapon. Perhaps multiple missiles launched simultaneously would be able to get past the defence drone?

      • Wisq says:

        I’m not 100% certain, but I think that taking out drone control only deals with the drones they send at you regularly, and does nothing to stop the drones they send during the power surge.

        Managed to beat it today using the Zoltan type B. Non-maxed engines (a few ticks from the top), maxed shields, and I even forgot to deal with the weapons in phase 2 (since the crew were still dead, but the systems got repaired between phases) and took a lot of damage that phase.

        My crew were never going to be able to board the main areas of the ship, so I just had to hit them with 2x ion blast, a pike beam, and a burst laser (level 1), the only weapon that didn’t come with the ship. The ions and burst were firing fast enough to take their shields down and damage the generator, and the beam did the rest. Never even had to use my defense drones 1 and 2. Granted, this was easy mode still.

        • sbs says:

          It’s true, even with a dead drone control, in the power surge the 10 drones will appear. However, it seems that even with a _functioning_ drone control, during the power surge that annoying defense drone isn’t there – so as soon as he does his power surge, your missiles will go through!

    • mouton says:

      One word: Cloak

      When you see the “power surge” warning and multiple drones appear, hit cloak. Even basic cloak will be enough. A defense drone can take out boarding drones, btw.

      If you don’t have cloak, you need shields at least at 3 to survive. Also, destroy enemy missiles and lasers ASAP or they will soften you up for the drones. You have your engine maxed, don’t you?

  6. Useful Dave says:

    Theme tune tiem!

    Its cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere,
    I’m all alone, more or less.
    Let me fly, far away from here,
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

    I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose,
    Drinking fresh, mango juice,
    Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes,
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

    I’ll pack my bags and head into hyperspace
    Where I’ll succeed at time-warp speed
    Spend my days in ultraviolet rays
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

    We’ll lock on course straight through the universe
    You and me and the galaxy
    Reach the stage where hyper-drive’s engaged
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
    Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

  7. Carbonated Dan says:

    I had a weird time with FTL

    first run, on easy, saw me dieing to the big boss

    second run, in the engi ship on normal difficult, I won

    and then it started abusing me; I’ve started half a hundred runs on normal by now, but only a dozen or so have lasted more than twenty minutes

    I think of it as a one armed bandit with a uniquely interesting arm. In space

  8. inthedarkarcade says:

    I second that – a wonderful read. And, dare I say, I felt a wee bit emotional as the curtain came down. I guess it’s testament to the game that you can come, so readily, to care about these crew-sprites – even when experiencing it with a degree of separation.

    • Caiman says:

      Yes, I have something in my eye right now. Ahem.

      This was perhaps the most fun series I’ve read on RPS actually. I also love FTL although I am terrible at it. My only encounter with the boss on Easy ended in an even more shameful fashion than The Moggy’s valiant attempt. I didn’t even scratch the thing, because after it decloaked it launched All The Weapons at my weapon bay, and after that I was just fighting fires and depressurisation.

    • McDan says:

      Emotional indeed. You flew, fought and died well. I’ll be getting this game and naming my crew in honour of you. Then going through the traumatic experience of them dying again. A great game diary once again.

  9. Coriolis says:

    Nah, you definetly don’t “need” a teleporter to take out the last boss, infact my first win on normal was in a torus without teleporter. But what I did have was a defensive drone that could shoot down (most) missiles, an ion bomb along with the ion gun to take out the shields, and and a single-shot heavy laser to take out their guns.

    It’s a great game, but I think allowing you to reliably buy whatever you want from the shops would make it alot less random, while still fun.

  10. Apolloin says:

    I killed all the crew with the use of profligate firebombs. Spoiler alert: The Flagship doesn’t need a crew, so a fire based offensive will fail. Badly.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      Trick there is that you leave ONE of the middle 2 weapon pods untouched.

      • sbs says:

        Is he weaker with one guuy alive than on AI Control?
        I found out the hard way that the bosses weapons repair themselves, at least on his third stage.

        • KDR_11k says:

          AI ships autorepair. As long as one guy is alive the ship isn’t run by an AI and cannot autorepair.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Preferably the laser since a triple laser isn’t going to go through your shields.

  11. Oh Tyrone says:

    That “slow-mo” (or whatever the text equivalent is) part is exactly the type of thing this ought to be playing in the background for.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Yes! I had the exact same thought. :D

    • urughak says:

      Up late and already a bit twisted up. Wish I hadn’t clicked that link just right now. That was a horrifying time. Us Americans have been finding it easy to push thoughts of that day and the following months out of our minds because its just too painful, but we should force ourselves to remember once in a while. We will never forget. Thank you for the link.

  12. MythArcana says:

    Sorry to cut in again, but NEO Scavenger is in the new Be Mine 5 Bundle starting at $1! If you like FTL, you’ll probably love NEO, too.

    Check out groupees.com for details.

    • B1A4 says:

      Thanks! I’d totally miss it otherwise!

      And I liked NEO S way more than FTL.

      Thanks again

    • mwoody says:

      Hunh, looks right up my alley. Worth the minimal investment of $5, considering the site sells it starting at $10. Pity I can’t choose where my money goes, as it’s the only part of that bundle I want.

  13. Fox89 says:

    Yeah it’s the shields that do it. Takes too long to get ’em down conventionally as the damn thing launches 6 billion missiles at you. I’ve beaten it on normal twice, and each time I had something that could do massive damage direct to the flagship systems. Breach bomb I think it was when I was Engi. Then as Federation it was the easiest thing ever because I had an automatic unstoppable laser beam of fiery death.

  14. Tyshalle says:

    The first time I beat this was a great moment for me. I was on my last hit point, but he only had three himself. I had full shields while his were down. I fired everything I had, and just before the final missile hit he managed to get off a final barrage. We took him down, but his final volley took us out too. We destroyed him first, though, and so the game recognized that as us “Winning.”

    The interesting thing is that when you win, the credits commend your ship and crew by name. This served as an inspiring memorial.

    It was a pretty awesome moment, though. Even though I died, I still felt like I won. My crew knew it was a one-way trip from the getgo, and it was. But we accomplished our mission, and saved the galaxy. Or something.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:


    *fights the tears*

    • oldfart says:

      We’re off in outer space
      Protecting Mother Earth
      To save the human race
      Our Star Blazers

      Danger lurking everywhere
      But we know we’ve got to dare
      Evil men with evil schemes
      They can’t destroy all our dreams

      We must be strong and brave
      Our home we’ve got to save
      We must make the fighting cease
      So Mother Earth will be at peace

      Through all the fire and the smoke
      We will never give up hope
      If we can win the Earth will survive
      We’ll keep peace alive
      With our Star Blazers

  16. greedow says:

    We will always remember the great crew of the Spaceship Moggy!
    Who gave their lives trying to stop the rebel flagship…

    even though they completely failed at it…XD

  17. Lambchops says:


    Great diary Alec. I have to admit I was expecting (and looking forward to) this being written by Adam (but then he abandoned his Crusader Kinds 2 diary, the big abandon-er!) but you’ve done a great job of summing up the awesomeness and at times futility of the game.

    Poor Steven, I almost feel bad for mocking his anticipated death earlier on.

  18. The Tupper says:

    I’ve been playing this game for bloody HOURS. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s like a job. A job in SPACE! I love it.

  19. Hybrid says:

    “And as the sun appeared, up in the sky,
    I saw another day, that’s drifting by.
    I saw my people cry, a million tears,
    Into eternity they disappeared.”

    Gamma Ray – Somewhere Out In Space

  20. skyorrichegg says:

    I just beat the boss on normal without shields with the stealth ship… that was fun. I will be putting up the playthrough in 3 parts on my youtube channel if anyone is interested (part 1 of my second run where I was successful is up).

  21. Wulf says:

    Not relevant to FTL (which is admittedly a great game) but… I really don’t understand why save scumming is an okay term. It’s pretty horrible, I think. If save functionality is put in a game, is one somehow lesser for not using it? Or is it that they’re merely less ‘hardcore,’ and that this is another way for hardcore gamers to make themselves feel self-important?

    I really don’t understand why saving and loading is bad in a game that allows for saving and loading. And if it is bad, then the functionality should be removed entirely, it shouldn’t be allowed if the designer feels that it goes against the design of the game. But even then, why would it go against the design of the game? Isn’t that just padding and artificially prolonging an experience?

    I just find the whole idea of ‘save scumming’ to be questionable at best. Again, it doesn’t feel like it’s a real thing, but rather something that someone just invented to inflate their self-importance, and then that got around, as things do.

    • Mithent says:

      FTL, like most roguelikes, doesn’t allow you to save and load freely though – it allows you to save when you quit, and then to resume from that save, but it’s never possible to go back to a previous save once you’ve continued. That is, unless you manipulate the save files from outside of the game.

      So, saving and loading isn’t “supposed” to be allowed in the manner that “save scumming” uses. I do think that playing the game as the developer intended adds to the sense of your existence being precarious in a hostile universe, but it’s a single-player game, so if you find that frustrating and would rather go back when the random number generator gives you a bad hand or your strategy turns out to be flawed, that’s fine too.

      • LionsPhil says:

        One of SMAC/later Civ’s nicer touches is to save the PRNG state in the savegame, so you can’t use savegames to re-roll, only to retry with different strategies.

        (Of course, if you’re determined, you can “burn” random numbers by doing things in a different order.)

    • Chris D says:

      As I understand it save-scumming is used specifically in reference to games that don’t allow saving/loading at will as standard so a player who does it isn’t playing the game as intended. It’s roughly on a level with using a cheat code.

      It’s not a particularly big deal, if you’re playing a single player game then it’s no skin off my nose what you do, although it might be another matter if someone is doing it to get to the top of a high score table or something.

      Edit: I see Mithent has already said this both faster and better than I have. I shgould probably get some sleep.

    • blackjackshelak says:

      I think the idea of “save scumming” has a lot more to do with save “abuse” than simply utilizing an included feature. In games that rely heavily on random or unrevealed elements (eg loot generation & unit concealment) being able to save and restart quickly means you can effectively cheat the RNG or give your troops clairvoyance.

      It removes much of the challenge from a game when people use saves as workarounds in this way, and that’s where the bad attitude towards it comes from. When someone is using saves as a tool to specifically reduce game difficulty or reverse an intentional mistake, then they are not using saves as intended. Save Scumming basically translates to “Save States as an Exploit”.

    • Wisq says:

      Nobody will ever criticise you for using the save feature as it was intended to be used — save and quit, come back later, load and auto-delete your save. That’s the intended use of the feature.

      To be honest, so many games today are quicksave- or checkpoint-based that I find games enforcing roguelike save+quit / load+delete to be refreshing. When you’re in a bad spot, you’re freed from the notion that you have to just sit there loading your game over and over until you get it exactly right. Or worse, that you have to reload and redo missions over and over until you get them exactly right, or else you won’t have enough resources to do the later missions. You just die, get a high score on the charts, and get to start over again with new knowledge and new opportunities.

      Save-scumming undoes all of that. Like most cheats, it’s a good way to see what the game is capable of throwing at you, or just to have fun exploring the very limits of what’s possible. But it’s not the way the game is meant to be played, and (for example) I wouldn’t trust a review of a game if the reviewer told me they’d been repeatedly loading saves. Their idea of how the game plays is going to be drastically different than how the authors intended, and how I’ll end up playing it.

      (That’s not to say I always trust the game designer’s decisions about game mechanics. I’ve been known to memory-hack games purely to remove tedious aspects, to adjust the difficulty curve, or because I fundamentally disagree with a particular design decision and I have the means to undo it. But I consider permadeath to be a pretty fundamental aspect of these sorts of games, so I don’t try to mess with it.)

      • LionsPhil says:

        You just die, get a high score on the charts, and get to start over again with new knowledge and new opportunities.

        This works if and only if the risk of losing your game state is inversely proportional to the amount of time invested into that gamestate. When you die on dlvl 1 in Nethack, it’s just funny, because there’s no long chargen or anything; mere minutes of effort lost. When you die on dlvl 10, it’s more annoying because you’d picked up some neat stuff and skills, but that stuff and those skills should also have given you more ways to avoid dying. If you were playing Fallout: New Vegas iron-man style and were L25 and most of the way through the world, though, you might not be particularly inclined to start over if entering a random cave (through the Oblivion engine’s crap teleporter doors) gives you a fatal facefull of deathclaw claws.

        • Wisq says:

          Yeah, which basically sums up the aspects of roguelikes, and separates them from just “playing a normal non-roguelike game with an ironman challenge”:

          1. permadeath, save-to-quit only
          2. short(ish) gaming sessions, so you don’t feel like you’ve lost weeks of progress

          and also

          3. the “push factor”, something that keeps you going deeper and increasing the risk, rather than puttering around until the next area is as easy as the current one (which is how you achieve #2)

          The “push factor” in Nethack (at least early on) is, if you don’t go deeper and keep fighting stuff, you’re gonna run out of stuff to eat. (Although there are some ways around that, like converting rocks to meat.)

          ADOM used both food and the “corruption” factor, as i recall.

          FTL of course has a very literal one, with the rebel fleet right behind you.

          I don’t recall finding that Nethack made it easier to avoid death as you went deeper, because the challenges did always seem to scale to meet you. I guess once you assembled the classic “Ascension Kit”, it did reach the point where (generally) the only way you’d die is if your attention lapsed and you made a bad decision.

          But then, I also was never particularly upset about dying no matter how deep I got, because getting up on that high score list showed me I’d gotten further than ever before, and I could be proud of that. And because part of the appeal is trying out a lot of things (as the RNG supplies them) rather than building up a particular character like in most RPGs these days.

          (I never did ascend even once without cheats, mind you. Even with all the spoilers in the world.)

          The lack of #2 (and possibly #3?) in things like Diablo 3’s hardcore mode is why I consider them just a tool for bragging rather than a true roguelike, and wouldn’t really want to play them in that mode.

    • Grygus says:

      It is nothing more or less than people judging others based on differences of opinion. Nothing to lose sleep over.

    • Yosharian says:

      Roguelike veterans love to tell other people how to play their games. It makes them feel special and relevant.

  22. Ansob says:

    Don’t extinguish fires, Alec; vent them!

    • Picklesworth says:

      The trouble with venting fires is, if the enemy takes out your door system, you’re even more completely screwed than before.

      • JuJuCam says:

        The other problem is certain fire-causing situations (some fire heavy enemies or a sun for example) can possibly do enough damage to your systems that they destroy you entirely. Every level of power usage that is taken by a fire takes a bit of hull with it.

        • Wisq says:

          I believe it only takes hull if it actually finishes destroying that system, not for every power level it takes.

          As for repairing door control if it’s devoid of O2, all you really need is either

          1. a medbay with oxygen in it, so you can cycle repair guys in and out, or
          2. a medbay level 2 or higher, so you can heal them even if there’s no O2 in the entire ship (level 1 can only keep them stable), and cycle repair guys in and out.

          If you cycle a new guy in, wait for him to start repairing, then cycle the old guy out, you don’t interrupt the repair process. Thus, it works even for the slow-repairing mantis dudes.

          Also if door control is working but O2 is broken and decompressed, you can repair O2 so long as you have (3.) enough pressurised rooms that you can open all doors (except airlocks and rooms with hull breaches) and let air pressure equalise across all rooms.

          If O2 is broken and has a hull breach, you need the same as above (#1 or #2). Once the breach is fixed, you can use #3.

  23. Velko says:

    Little by little the night turns around
    Counting the leaves which tremble at dawn
    Lotuses lean on each other in yearning
    Under the eaves the swallow is resting

    Set the controls for the heart of the sun

    Over the mountain watching the watcher
    Breaking the darkness, waking the grapevine
    One inch of love is one inch of shadow
    Love is the shadow that ripens the wine

    Set the controls for the heart of the sun
    The heart of the sun, the heart of the sun

    Witness the man who raves at the wall
    Making the shape of his questions to Heaven
    Whether the sun will fall in the evening
    Will he remember the lesson of giving?

    Set the controls for the heart of the sun
    The heart of the sun, the heart of the sun

  24. spectone says:

    The RNG in this game hates me. The only way I can get to the last sector is by playing on easy. Even then I can’t get to the boss.

  25. JamesTheNumberless says:

    This is exactly what happens to me with the Engi ship – a fairly easy ride to the boss and then disaster. I’ve only been able to beat it by having lots of missiles and a couple of mantis boarders to target its systems.

  26. Silvador says:

    Italian Job reference FTW!

    Awesome read.

  27. JayeRandom says:

    *sniff*. DAMN YOU IAIN M. BANKS!

    • Ravenholme says:

      D-does this mean that I am not the only one who gets major Culture vibes from this whole thing for some reason?

      The journey is a bit Consider Phlebas-esque… And I’d love to see more content with some of it being a subtle nod to the Culture-verse, since it’s one of the best sci-fi verses out there.

      • Yosharian says:

        Er. What? Just because it’s a journey ending up in death it’s reminiscent of Iain Banks?

        I don’t get that…

  28. Ceorl says:

    Enjoyable articles which caused me to go and buy the game. It’s very good and I’ve managed to beat it four times now: once on easy, three times on normal. For awhile I thought you had actually a plan, but ahh well congrats on a good run.

    Btw, I love the music for the final levels. Most of the pieces are fairly sedate which fit with the gameplay progression until, bam, its game time. Put up or shut up.

  29. Neurotic says:

    Curse you Meer, I almost cried at the end.

  30. ironwolf says:


  31. Darkmega11 says:

    My best run was all luck. Don’t ask me why, but the game decided to give me several events of free stuff.
    Ship: Kestral layout 1 A
    First beacon: The mantis were scrapping a ship and you interrupted them in the middle of it. You get scrap and a burst lazer mark 2.
    Second beacon: Holy crap! A weapon is floating in space! You get scrap and another burst lazer mark 2.
    Third beacon: A federacy loyalist gives you stuff. You get scrap and ANOTHER burst lazer mark 2.
    Fourth beacon: “We know we shouldn’t know anything about your mission, but here’s some stuff.” You get even more scrap and a burst lazer mark 1.
    And I kept getting burst lazers.
    I sold several and when I came to the the last stand, I had this:
    Fully repaired hull
    Scrap recovery arm
    Weapon Pre-igniter
    Long-range scanners
    Fully upgraded reactor
    Level 2 medbay and oxygen systems (half powered)
    Level 8 shields (Fully powered)
    Level 8 engines (Fully powered)
    Level 7 weapons (Fully powered)
    Level 2 sensors, blast doors, and navigation system
    20-30 missles
    2 drone parts
    11 fuel
    And finally:
    3 burst lazer mark 2 and an artimus
    Full crew that have mastered engines, shields, weapons, and navigation.
    The rebel ship died easily. And on normal mode. It was glorious.