Making the switch to hard mode

General discussion about the game.
Crouchy
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Making the switch to hard mode

Postby Crouchy » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:47 pm

I'm coming to the end of a challenge I set myself to win with every ship on normal mode. I've been through 25 of the 28 ships, in order, and got victories with all of them. I just have three left to go now - the Lanius B and the two Crystal ships.

I feel like I've finally nailed normal mode. Sometimes I've managed three or four wins in a row. Of course, the game also occasionally still dumps me on my backside in order to reassert its dominance over me again!

With the more solid ships, I can now win more often than not, although some of the more difficult ships can still take a few tries to get going on a decent start. In general, the victories are flowing now and therefore, once I've finished the last three ships I need to win with, I'm thinking of making the switch to hard mode.

I must confess, I'm a little intimidated and worried about making the switch to hard mode. To have become good at beating the game on normal has felt great! In general, I'm a bit rubbish at most computer games, so to be decent at normal mode has been a bit of a big deal for me!

Am I ready for hard mode? Can a mere mortal such as me still win on hard? :D

What are the differences between hard and normal mode? I know less scrap but how much less exactly? What else is different?

Are there any particular strategies that I'll need to learn or any bad habits that I'll have to drop when making the switch to hard difficulty?

I feel as though I'm quite good at coping with low scrap in normal mode and I've sometimes managed to win with quite low levels of scrap after a bad run. Hopefully this will transfer to hard mode quite well.

My play style is strongest when building up a strong array of weapons and using hacking. Unlike most, I don't really go mad for teleporters, although of course I will focus on boarding when I'm playing as a boarding ship. My favourite system by far is cloaking; I love it and look for it on every run. I just find it so effective to avoid damage using cloaking. It's the best defence, in my opinion. I also love flak weapons and hate the Chain Vulcan as I think it's a dirty trap! ;)

So am I ready for hard mode? Will I notice a lot of difference between hard and normal? Do you think it's realistic to set myself the goal of winning with all ships on hard difficulty?

Thanks everyone. I appreciate any advice!
SelphieSelfie
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby SelphieSelfie » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:20 pm

To be honest I think beat the game once with any difficulty and you're pretty much set for hard mode.
You know which decisions are good, which are risky but rewarding...stuff like that.

I've only beaten the game twice in hard mode to be honest (once in Engi C and once in Fed C) but I'm playing the game ONLY in hard mode now.

Currently working on the "bad ships", Simo-H and Zoltan C.

Twice I got to the final form of the Simo-H in pretty good shape but did not do too well with boarders but I know it's definitely possible.

The Zoltan C on the other hand, I was going for the brute force strategy which is 2x combat drones + strong weapons but didn't manage to obtain a drone recovery arm in any sector and by the time I got to the last form I didn't even get through his Zoltan shield because I was out of drones.

I just believe if you can beat the game on hard with the "bad" ships, you can beat the game with any ship. So when you transition to hard mode, go ahead and use the ships you're most uncomfortable with.
I know if I do a hard mode run with the overpowered ships (any of the Kestrels, Engi A) I can beat the game just like I'm playing normal.

Ship I'm struggling with the most right now is Mantis C. I just cannot seem to get a good start with it. Bulwark on the other hand, no matter what difficulty, you always run out of MISSles on that bitch. Damn that ship to oblivion.
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5thHorseman
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby 5thHorseman » Fri Dec 12, 2014 2:43 am

In general, I'd say just pay attention to WHY you die, every time you die. Don't fall into the "FTL screwed me over even though I played perfect" trap, that is very rarely true. Try to asses what went wrong and how you could have prevented it, and then play the next game with that in mind.

For mor specifics...

The main thing for me that got me going on hard mode, after being very good at normal mode for a long time (pre-AE) was to learn the importance (oddly) of not upgrading engines and shields too early. Also, not wasting scrap on most anything, especially early (Say, the first 4 sectors). And finally, living with what you have and not hoping for what you want.

So while in Normal I pretty staunchly stuck with my upgrade plan of engine-2, then shield-2, then engine-5, then shield-3, I frequently in Hard just let those go for a bit while I make sure I can power any weapons I find or pick up an augment or system that will really help my ship. I find a Defense Drone will help a lot more than a 3rd shield, though of course you have to find the drone (and system!) while you can upgrade your shields at any time.
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Crouchy
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby Crouchy » Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:12 pm

SelphieSelfie wrote:To be honest I think beat the game once with any difficulty and you're pretty much set for hard mode.
You know which decisions are good, which are risky but rewarding...stuff like that.


I don't know about that. I mean, I remember when I first started playing FTL and won on easy mode but then found that the jump up to normal was actually quite steep!

I've only beaten the game twice in hard mode to be honest (once in Engi C and once in Fed C) but I'm playing the game ONLY in hard mode now.


Once I've got victories with all of the ships on normal (just the two Crystal ships to go now), I think I may well play only in hard mode from that point onwards. Feeling kind of intimidated by hard mode at the moment though! :)

I just believe if you can beat the game on hard with the "bad" ships, you can beat the game with any ship. So when you transition to hard mode, go ahead and use the ships you're most uncomfortable with.
I know if I do a hard mode run with the overpowered ships (any of the Kestrels, Engi A) I can beat the game just like I'm playing normal.


Well, to be honest, I'll probably just start from scratch when I switch to hard and begin with The Kestrel again. I actually found going through the ships 'in order' was really useful in terms of learning and experience whilst running through my normal mode play through. It felt like a nice learning experience and the difficulty curve went up and down quite well to give variation.

I think if I just focused on the more difficult ships all of the time, I'd go crazy. It's nice to do well sometimes! :D
Crouchy
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby Crouchy » Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:16 pm

5thHorseman wrote:In general, I'd say just pay attention to WHY you die, every time you die. Don't fall into the "FTL screwed me over even though I played perfect" trap, that is very rarely true. Try to asses what went wrong and how you could have prevented it, and then play the next game with that in mind.


This is really good advice for anyone playing the game. I totally agree.

In general, I know that it's my fault 99.9% of the time. I'm usually able to work out why and it's usually down to a bad overall strategy or some poor decision making. Of course, the game also does dump you on your backside sometimes, just to reassert its dominance over you!

The main thing for me that got me going on hard mode, after being very good at normal mode for a long time (pre-AE) was to learn the importance (oddly) of not upgrading engines and shields too early. Also, not wasting scrap on most anything, especially early (Say, the first 4 sectors). And finally, living with what you have and not hoping for what you want.


Again, good advice, especially the last line. Although, I have to say I find shields is usually an important early upgrade and one I personally wouldn't want to skip on. But I definitely see your overall point.
The Captain
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby The Captain » Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:28 pm

Be afraid. Be very afraid. :shock: /obligatory

But seriously, don't let that stop you from trying Hard mode. It's very challenging and frustrating, but when you win, the satisfaction is even greater.

The scarcity of scrap is really tough to deal with, especially early. You really have to think hard about what you want to upgrade. If it's not a major system (Shields, Engines, Weapons), then it's going to have a lower priority. I have learned that even reactor upgrades can take a backseat to upgrading a major system. (Getting better at power juggling will really help.) Upgrades for Doors, Piloting, O2, etc are even lower. And saving up for a weapon or system purchase is more challenging than before.

Generally speaking, for most ships I am probably first upgrading Shields to L3 & 4, for that second layer. But Stealth B is getting max Cloak first. Ships with only L1 Engines might get L2 first.
SelphieSelfie
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby SelphieSelfie » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:40 am

Crouchy wrote:In general, I know that it's my fault 99.9% of the time...


I'm going to have to say more like 40% of the time.
About 40% of the nodes are basically death traps (Zoltan w/ Miss, AI with mind, AI with 2 drones and 2 lasers, Cutesy Interceptors with Glaive beams, Suns and Asteroid fields with 3 weapon Mantis/Rock/AI with drones and Mind). You could potentially escape these traps but the hull damage you'll sustain will leave you on life support now that you're better off restarting. That leaves you with 60% 'normal enemies' that have pretty high chances themselves of disabling hitting doors + causing fire elsewhere. No matter how good of a player you are it's not really your fault if this happens.
Ray Robertson
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby Ray Robertson » Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:39 am

No, on normal difficulty 99.9% of games are winnable. If you lose it is your fault.
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stylesrj
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby stylesrj » Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:45 am

Ray Robertson wrote:No, on normal difficulty 99.9% of games are winnable. If you lose it is your fault.


Yes it's my fault I launched my Crystal B into a solar flare on the very first jump and it just so happens there was an AI ship with mind control and a missile launcher waiting for me.

There are some games you just can't win and it's not your fault.
The Captain
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Re: Making the switch to hard mode

Postby The Captain » Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:35 am

You had Crystal dudes and a teleporter. Did you even try to board the ship and take out its weapons?

I recently had a game where my Kestrel C got boarded in the 1st or 2nd sector, Lanius & a Human died in the fighting. No problem, I got a Clone Bay, right? Well, it got hit and set on fire - two fires, actually. And since my last Human was wounded, I couldn't save anybody. I actually won the battle. Had to wait until the fires used up the oxygen before going in to fix the Clone Bay and make other repairs. I had less than 50% HP and an Engineer-turned-Pilot. Did I restart? No, even though I knew that in many cases I might not last much longer. In this particular case I went on to get my first hard win in this ship type.

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