Hard mode troubles

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Hard mode troubles

Postby Firun » Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:48 am

So I've picked up FTL for iPad 2 weeks ago and played it a lot. I've unlocked every A ship and a few Bs on easy (which I almost always win) and did a game on normal, which I won without trouble.

However, hard mode seems impossible to me. I usually either come up against ships with too many shields or too high of a dodge chance too soon to reliably deal with them, or get wrecked by a ship with missiles and lucky hits. I've been trying several approaches and ships yet it all seems fruitless against the RNG. My last run ended when I was hit 5x in a row by that big missile launcher despite 45% evasion whilst the ship was a Zoltan and I had a volley of 5 shots (of which at most 3 seemed to connect at the same time).

What can I do to mitigate the influence of RNG? What should I generally upgrade or leave where it is? Which ship would you recommend? I'm a bit at a loss, never made it past sector 5. Is luck such a big factor on hard?
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Re: Hard mode troubles

Postby Twinge » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:14 pm

The good thing about hard is that luck is still not a major factor in determining victory -- good enough play will still win virtually every time. However, there's a lot less room for error, and you need to make very few mistakes to triumph.

A few thoughts would include buying a bit less power (you don't need to keep your Oxygen powered at all times - shift that over to Engines as appropriate) and learning various tricks (Zoltans stealing power from Cloaking/Tele/Hack/MC, depowering Shields against ion to keep Shields up, getting Hacks past Defense Drones, etc.)

The same ships that are strong on Normal are good on Hard -- you'll face very similar threats on both difficulties, but you'll have less scrap to do it with on Hard (and keep in mind boarding will be less effective against the Flagship). I'd suggest avoiding upgrading your Medbay pretty much ever (unless you're really desperate for crew and near a distress beacon, or possibly in Mantis Homeworlds), never upgrading Sensors (and likely not buying them if you don't have them), and not upgrading Oxygen until Sector 8 (or Sector 6-7 Slug Nebula). Make sure you drop 20 scrap on Piloting for a damage buffer before the Flagship fight (you can get it earlier, especially if exploring lots of nebulae), and always aim for a minimum of Tier 3 Shields + Level 5 Engines.
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Re: Hard mode troubles

Postby SelphieSelfie » Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:19 pm

Started playing about 5 days ago and so far 4 wins. 3 easy, 1 normal. All on Kestrel.

Trying some hard runs on Nesasio and Torus.
On the Torus, got as far as Sect 7 with like 1 health. Was really hoping for a shop but instead encountered a Mantis bomber on the first node.

For the Nesasio it was really pretty stupid. I managed to get a burst 2 pretty late (sect 3). Survived 1-4 by getting my cloak up to lv3 quickly. Had the money for the shield finally but neglected my fuel. Jumped at 1 fuel and 4 hull to the next sector. As soon as I got to sect 5 I waited and first thing that comes is a Mantis Bomber.
Managed to get the bastard's hull down to 1 as well in about 2 volleys of shots. Didn't notice the incoming hull missile even though my cloak was fully loaded.

I don't think I'm qualified yet to be giving advice but I'd have to say from my playthroughs and watched hard mode videos that you should really look for what you need at a given time. Where in easy and normal it'd be okay to just keep accepting bribes, in hard that extra 5 or 10 scrap could really mean the difference between life and death.
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Re: Hard mode troubles

Postby slattikarma » Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:35 am

I only play on Hard and win most of the time on easier ships, still struggling to get wins with the hardest difficulty ships like Stealth B, Fed C.

I have to say, the best advice for hard is first to master normal. Ie, get victories with all ships on normal. The tips and experience you pick up doing that will be invaluable for hard mode, because, as the above posters correctly say, there is so little room for error on Hard, a rookie mistake made out of lack of experience will be devastating on Hard, whereas on Normal you can mostly recover from a bad decision or strategy, learn from it and still win the game. Also, you will get experience with what event choices to make (unless you play with a wiki) as some events will always have a good choice and a bad choice, whereas others are random. You will also get experience with those horrible lose CREW events, and know when to take the risk in the future.

Plus you learn all the little micro-managing tricks that can be the difference between life and death on Hard. Like ways to switch power around to get the most out of your systems, ways to keep crew alive who are about to die, ways to maximise your cloak's effectiveness or your hacks effectiveness, ways to deal with boarders easy, ways to not have a boarding attack end in tears due to an enemies cloak or blast doors.... etc. Little tricks which just tilt things in your advantage, but add up massively over the journey.

The trick to Hard is making good choices about your scarce scrap, and always thinking ahead. In normal, you can get away with being shortsighted, and when you get to a sector where you realise you have a critical weakness, its normally not hard to get enough scrap together quickly to remove that weakness. With Hard, it's already too late.. if you get to a sector and suddenly realise your weapons are suddenly too weak, or your defense is too weak, you are pretty much stuffed because it will take too long to get enough scrap together. So you always need to be thinking ahead, ie you may have enough weapon power to destroy two shield enemies, but you need to start preparing early for when a three shield enemy comes along. You don't have the luxury to buy that nice augmentation, you need another weapon asap.

Also, always think hard about buying from shops, and especially weapon upgrades. Do you really need that weapon or augmentation? Is it critical? You also need to accept that you likely won't have a maxed out ship by the time you get to the end game, unless you got a scrap booster or two early. So again, careful thoughtful upgrades is essential.

The other thing is minimising scrap loss is essential. Getting damage and repairing is a major scrap drainer, which your really can't afford, so you either need to start developing a great defence early, or a super potent attack that will take out enemies weapon bay asap. Its ok to take damage early game because it only costs 2 scrap, but once it starts costing 3 or 4 to repair, that's a huge waste of scrap. I generally try to avoid paying for any repairs, and try and get all my repairs through quest rewards or trading for missiles. This is more luck based though. Also, you don't need to be 100 percent health.... I try to be between 50%-75%, but make sure I get back to 100% before the flagship.

Also knowing when you are hopelessly outgunned and running away. Missing out on 30 scrap is better than copping loads of damage. Sometimes Hard mode throws a ridiculously overpowered enemy at you, occasionally in the early game too, so you have to realise it and get the hell out of there. Or occasionally you get an enemy who just happens to have the ideal set-up to devastatingly exploit your only weakness, and again, you need to recognise this and get the hell out of there.

Finally, you always need to plan for end-game, how are you going to take down the three phases of the Flagship, including:
1) How am I going to deal with the triple missile launcher?
2) How am I going to impair the enemy crews ability to repair quickly? (hacking the shield room and locking those doors really screws with the crews ability to repair things quickly)
3) If I'm boarding, how am I going to deal with the medbay or the blast doors? (hint: hacking the shield room creates a good locked killing room to prevent people running off to the medbay)
4) Am I vulnerable to hacks? If so, how am I going to deal with it?
5) Am I vulnerable to drone surge? How am I going to deal with it?
6) Can I get through the zoltan shield in phase 3?
7) Can I counter the mind control in phase 3?
8) Can I deal with boarding attacks?

I found myself too scared to try Hard initially. But then I achieved 100% on Normal, and needed the extra challenge, and now Hard has become quite doable, I have forgotten what normal is like.

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