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How can I beat the final boss in faster than light? I can beat the first form, but the second form just obliterates me regardless what I try.

I have tried using nothing but missiles, a combination of every single weapon I can find, and stealth. I have not tried using drones because of the amount of scrap and luck of the draw it takes to get them up and running on the stock ship. I have also been playing on easy.

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Well, what have you tried? And are you playing on easy? –  Frank Aug 19 '12 at 22:40
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@fbueckert updated to include what I have tried. –  Halfwarr Aug 19 '12 at 23:19
    
I have beaten the boss with engi ship: 6 crew, attack and Def & drone MK1, the starting weapon, the missile that breaches the Hull. 4shieds, alot of engine upg, cloak but no cloak weapons. –  BlueTrin Nov 16 '12 at 8:13
    
An important piece of advice that's missing in the answers is that FTL is a game that you have to be playing for the final boss. From sector one, you have to take into account that you'll have to be fighting that guy, and consider how your choices in weapons and augments are helping you with it. –  Jack M Apr 20 at 20:40
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10 Answers

up vote 50 down vote accepted

I have beaten him 5 or 6 times now, all on easy. General strategy is:

  1. 4 points in shields, duh.

  2. a dodge around 40%. This takes 4 power to engines and having both the engine crew and pilot crew be maxed out in their skills (actually, that's about 37-39% I think?).

  3. Some good, old fashioned luck.

  4. Plenty of spare crew. You'll need the usual party of Rogers and Hammerstien men to run around and punch intruders and also provide back up repairing. Don't underestimate that last part. Racing to get systems back to health ASAP can really help.

There's nothing fancy about how you attack. You throw every single thing you have at him, try to overwhelm the shields, and then do damage. My preferred strategy is beam heavy, but I will use launchers depending on what I find along the way. Since he's got excellent dodge and 4 shields, you've got to alpha strike every time you hit him (that is, fire everything or nearly everything). Once you damage his shields enough that you can get to critical systems easily, you still need to periodically attack the shields because they'll get repaired.

Another good trick I learned is do not fire your weapons as soon as it comes up. Wait till you can fire all your weapons at once for the first barrage. This will help overwhelm the shields helping you bring them down and damage them. Once the shields are down feel free to fire at will.

Now, ideally I would have something like Blaster mark III (5 shots, 1 damage each, 4 power), blaster mark 2 (3x1, 2 power) and maybe a heavy laser (2x2, 2 power). Or a small bomb launcher (underrated, it does 2 system damage). But really any number of things can work. I think I just beat him with the Kestrel using a Blaster Mk II, Heavy Laser, Halberd Beam, and Small Bomb Launcher. Obviously a crew member with maxed weapons skill is really important. Barring an accident, you should have that no problem. If you have less than 6 points of active weapons, you are probably going to have a rougher time of it. I prefer to have 7 or 8.

I will say this, I believe I have observed that e.g. the Heavy Laster (shoots twice, 2 damage each) will only eat 2 shield points up if it hits both times. I always like to have a blaster in my arsenal, but fate won't always help there.

There are two augments that, other things equal, really help in this fight:

  1. The "decrease weapon recharge time" augment. Nuff said. This is always the augment I hope to get first unless I'm going early cloaking.

  2. The "when you warp in all weapons are charged". You might think this one won't matter as much but do not under-estimate it. It's a free volley to open the fight!

With the first augment and a great gunner you'll be attacking every 13-14s at most I think. From there, it's back to luck. If he rolls exceptionally well on dodges (and you don't), it can go south and there's nothing you can do about it. I've lost to him with a number of promising ships for this reason. Tip your cap and go have a drink.

Cloaking is really powerful for ships who can get it, e.g. the kestrel. My poor federation cruiser is no longer cloaking eligible, but I have beaten the last guy several times with cloaking + cloak weapons. For form 1, the weapon on the inner-right side of the boss ship (actually, this one is always there but see below) is a freaking Gatling missile launcher. It shoots 3 missiles and it's super scary. I prefer to cloak when this is fired (and hopefully he'll be shooting other stuff too). Ditto for form 2. Form 3 will be something you have to discover on your own. Obviously if you run cloaking stealth weapons is a huge priority. But the 100% dodge you get from cloaking is really useful in the fight, so not having stealth weapons is not the end of the world. If I have cloaking I always try to get it to 3 points, but I consider 2 the minimum. That can buy you a lot of time to repair systems or deal with borders.

Doors 3 is really useful starting on form 2 of this fight (and really useful in the last few sectors!). I usually save that upgrade for late though.

Andrzej Doyle is absolutely right that boarders can be really useful in this fight. It's important to keep in mind that there is no one path to victory. After the beta update that took away cloaking Fed cruisers, I managed a few more wins. Mostly beam-heavy stuff but I made great use of bombs in two cases (I love small bombs because they only eat up 1 power but do 2 damage). I had a mixed-arms game (using some boarders) go really well until I ran out of places to repair and then lost in the second form.

Targeting priorities: Shields are first priority, obviously.

  • Form 1 I like to go after the Gatling launcher next. Then it depends. Weapons or engines.
  • Form 2 I go for the drone bay before the Gatling launcher usually. The ship will throw a lot of drones at you. This helps alleviate that.
  • Form 3 Back to targeting weapons.

Lastly, it takes more luck. Sometimes you'll prepare to do this series of fights and have repair nodes/stores near by that you can use to stay fresh. Sometimes you won't. I have lost promising ships that way too - a node got swallowed while fighting the first or second form and I was too beat up to finish him. Them's the breaks.

It took me a number of tries to beat him, and it can get frustrating. Stick with it. You'll break through eventually.

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I should note I have beaten him lots more since I wrote this. However, not once since the game was released :) –  peacedog Sep 17 '12 at 19:26
    
Good advice. Beat it on Normal last night, and if anything, the boss fight seems easier than it used to (though I find it harder to get there in the first place). The key for me was a teleporter to take out their weapon systems (particularly missiles!), having ~40% dodge, and 4 shields. Weapons were less important... I did it with a single hull missile launcher (with ~50 missiles) and a Burst Laser 3 (which spent the entire fight disabled, except for dropping super shields in phase 3). That said, it got pretty tense in phase 2, since I didn't have a reliable way of keeping their drones down. –  Sterno Sep 17 '12 at 19:36
    
Nothing but anecdotes here - I didn't pay that that much attention to the updates during beta - but I think the final boss use to dodge more. And that there is less scrap available getting to him ( to the tunes of hundreds of scrap by the Last Stand). I would agree he's easier now but harder to get to. –  peacedog Sep 17 '12 at 19:55
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If I remember correctly, you can pause at any time if you feel overwhelmed, assign some tasks, and then continue. –  nevets1219 May 8 '13 at 22:36
    
This answer is dated; I'm going to revisit it in the next few days. –  peacedog Apr 8 at 19:36
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In addition to peacedog's excellent write-up above, I find boarding parties can make things much easier. Each of the boss' weapon systems is in a standalone room, manned by a single human - which means two of anything should be able to beat him in combat, then destroy the weapon.

It does reduce the crew you have available for repairs and boarder-repelling, but it's also a "free" destruction of a weapons system every 45-60 seconds or so. This can make the incoming damage much easier to take, especially if you take out the most troublesome system first (Gatling missiles, I would say!). If you have a full complement, it shouldn't be too hard to keep things under control with 6 people back on your ship.

(Or of course, a single Mantis, Rock, or combat-trained human/slug should be able to take the gunner out, so in reality you could manage this with seven back on your own ship - if you don't mind the destruction of the weapon taking a few seconds longer.)

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Yep boarders can be very useful in this one. –  peacedog Sep 17 '12 at 18:01
    
Agreed; attacking the enemy boss ship's weapons rooms with boarders is probably the single biggest thing you can do to tip the odds in your favor. Assuming you have a Teleporter and sufficient crew, it's an easy strategy to execute -- you get an automatic 2v1 situation vs an enemy crew member -- and it very quickly and effectively cuts into the enemy boss's ability to damage your ship with its weapons. –  Jon Schneider Jan 5 '13 at 1:46
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NOTE: Leave at least one enemy alive on the ship; if you kill all its crew the AI takes over and it can repair all systems simultaneously. –  Shadur Feb 16 '13 at 11:23
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As for which enemy to leave alive, I recommend the guy who mans the laser, second from the left at the top. Why? You want to kill the crew in the main rooms so you can use boarders to destroy cloaking, shields, and drones. The crew manning the ion and beam weapons on the left and right will automatically die after the first and second phases, so you can’t count on them staying. And the third crewmember from the left mans the missiles, which are a much greater threat than the lasers. –  Rory O'Kane May 18 '13 at 22:35
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@kyralessa Are you sure that's true? I beat the boss last night (with Advanced Mode content turned on), and the layout seemed to be the same as ever. The boss has hacking drones and mind control now, but the laser and missile rooms were still standalone for me... –  Andrzej Doyle Apr 9 at 7:26
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What makes a good boss? A boss fight should be representative of the rest of the game, only harder. The FTL boss is a great boss fight. So like the rest of the game, there are many strategies.

However, I think boarding gives us a real edge over the flagship. I've yet to beat the boss with firepower alone.

Boarding

Each of the flagship's four weapon bays are isolated, making them easy targets for teleporter away teams. I like to destroy the missile launcher first.

Killing the crew in the main section of the ship is much harder because of their number and the deluxe medbay. Still, if you have the opportunity (while the flagship's weapons are disabled) it's worthwhile to decimate the rebel crew to put them at a disadvantage in the next engagement.

Caveat lector: Do not exterminate the flagship crew, else the dangerously competent AI takes control, quickly repairing the ship.

Cloaking

Cloaking is really useful to evade the flagship's "power surge" attacks. A 1 power cloak is sufficient—if you're smart you can cloak in sync with the power surges.

Defence

The flagship's triple missiles are deadly. I've found that two defence mark I drones protect better than a single mark II drone, because the mark II drones are distracted by lasers, sometimes letting missiles pass.

Prep

The boss is much tougher than the rest of the game. If you limped through the penultimate sector with a skeleton crew, you're already finished. You need to arrive at the admiralty with a 30 power, 8 crew, star destroyer. How to do that is a question for another post. You'll need to collect a lot of scrap.


Edit: Beat the boss on normal for the first time! This was in the Mantis ship with the size 4 teleporter bay. I used the strategies above.

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The AI also repairs /all/ of the systems simultaneously -- even the weapons systems that the regular crew can't get at. –  Shadur Oct 10 '12 at 15:19
    
That answers my question whether eliminating the crew would skip the other to encounters... –  Zommuter Jan 13 '13 at 19:34
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Killing the crew isn't such a big problem, it means your boarding party have free-range on the ship to keep all the systems down and do 1 hull damage each time they are repaired. Just don't kill the O2 unit! –  Nick Feb 19 '13 at 17:34
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My usual boss-killing build tends to be roughly this:

Ship

  • five points in Dodge (that's the tipping point to diminishing returns)
  • at least three bubbles of shields, preferably four if you had the cash.
  • a Cloaking Device (with one point of energy - upgrade if you got the cash)
  • Transporter with two or three levels (two is kinda minimum)
  • all the crew you can find (preferably a couple combat guys, but that's just gravy)
  • upgraded subsystems (particularly doors!)
  • enough weapons/drones to punch through for 5+ damage. (The boss has four bubbles of shields, so you need to get through that.) Obviously the specific weapons depend on what the RNG gods bestow.

Overarching Rule

For every other fight in the game, you auto-win if you kill all the crew. That isn't true here. If you kill the entire crew, a robotic AI takes over and the fight gets harder. So you need to keep one guy alive - usually it's the guy manning the lasers since he's trapped and rather ineffective once you take out the other weapons.

Tactics - stage one

  1. ASAP: get two guys over to the missile launcher (third weapon from the left). That's the scary gun, and it needs to go away ASAP. Once that's dead, beam back, heal during the transporter recharge, then get over to the other weapons (I usually hit the beam on the far right next, then the ion on the far left). Remember to leave the lasers alone (that's the second weapon from the left)
  2. Meanwhile, watch for the missiles to launch. When they do, cloak. You really don't want to get tagged by those.
  3. All other weapons start punching down shields. Once you're getting through, you can target other systems or whatever works best with your weapon loadout.
  4. Stage one boss has it's own cloak (and a disgustingly high dodge), but other than letting the shields recharge and getting in some healing, it's not that bad. Try to make sure your boarders are on the ship when it cloaks - they'll keep the beats going.
  5. Once you've cleared the weapons, it's time to clear out the rest of the crew. I usually try to beat the shields down a couple points, then switch to the medbay. Once you've got it destroyed, beam the boarders to that room, start picking off crew. (Obviously, if you've got fire weapons or anti-personnel drones, keep that fun coming as well!). The goal is to kill all the crew (excepting Mr. Laser) before you destroy the ship.

Once you beat down the ship, the left chunk (holding the ions and blessedly the shields) will break away, and it'll jump. (Do make sure your guys weren't on the boat at that point - you'll lose them!). Make your repairs, heal up your boarders, and follow to encounter...

Boss - stage 2

The bad news is that it's completely repaired (excepting the lost chunk) and it's realized it has drones (and lots of 'em!). The good news is that the crew doesn't regenerate, so all that's on board is Mr. Laser. 1. Again, get the boarders over to the missile launcher and take it out ASAP. Then the beam. Then, start taking out main systems (shields first to bring your weapons into play). Again, remember to get off the boat before it blows up. 2. You'll probably need to cloak for the first missile salvo, but after that what you're watching for is the big red WARNING message. Don't cloak yet!. Wait for the moment when you see the big swarm of drones, pause, then cloak. You only want one point of energy in cloak here - it's enough to cover the swarm (which will beat the holy hell out of you), but the shortened cloak means you'll have just recharged in time for the next assault. (Unfortunately, taking out the drone control system doesn't stop the swarms).

The wiki says this is the hardest stage, but I've never personally had a problem with it. YMMV. Once you've destroyed it, it'll lose the right side and jump away. Heal and repair, and if you have spare blocks, divert power from transporters (but leave the guys in the bay) as you follow and encounter...

Boss - stage three

This version only has the missile launcher and the laser, but it'll send boarders all over the place. (Luckily, you pre-killed the crew, so you only have the odd boarding drone to deal with.) On the downside it starts with one of those Zoltan shields, so you can't board at the start. This version does a beam-spam attack (again, you'll get the WARNING before it fires). 1. Knock the Zoltan shield down ASAP. Preferably you'd like to knock the missile launcher out of commission before the beam spam starts. 2. The moment the Zoltan shield is down, push power back to the transporters and take out the missile launcher. After that, your targets are shields and drone control - the boarding drones will continually spawn until that system is destroyed. 3. The beam spam is remarkably slow - you can wait until you see the ship fire before pausing and cloaking. Early on, if you have to choose between dodging the missiles or the beams, dodge the missiles - I find they have a lot more punch. (The beams will probably damage a bunch of systems a little, but not enough to get you in real trouble). 4. The boarding drones can be troublesome depending on where they land. If you've got triple-strength doors, you can let them bang away for a while in empty rooms. Otherwise you'll have to detail some bodies to take them out (and fix the breaches). Again, depending on what crew you got, you may need to pull your boarders back to help out. On the plus side, you can pull your weapons and shields guys to help out. 5. Every so often, instead of beam spam the Zoltan shield will recharge. But since you should have knocked out the weapons by that point it's more an annoyance than anything else. Just shoot them down again and continue.

Again, make sure your guys are off the ship before it explodes (unless you're in the mood for heroic sacrifices), and you're a winner!

Variations

  • With a four-bay teleporter with a fast recharge, you can get remarkably far without heavy weapons at all - just send the initial groups over in twos to take out the weapons, and then send them four-at-a-time to do beatdowns. (You need that fast recharge though to make sure everyone stays alive).
  • Alternatively, if you lucked out and got some good guns (say, a couple ions or a mess of Burst Lasers), you can skip the boarding entirely and just boom through the shields. Some Defense drones can take the sting out of the missiles, for instance.
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great post, this is pretty much the same way I approach the final boss. Boarding really does make the fight so much easier as long as you know the trick of leaving 1 alive. I'd +1 you but I'm out of vote for today though. –  z - May 28 '13 at 17:18
    
Aside: Thanks to Theodore for catching my handed-ness error. –  Allen Gould May 28 '13 at 19:27
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To supplement other answers: If you can get one, running a Defense drone -- even a simple Mark 1 will do -- will give you a significant edge:

  1. It will stop some incoming missiles. (Taking out the enemy ship's capability of firing missiles at you should be a top priority, but the defense drone will help until you can get that accomplished.)
  2. It will destroy (most) incoming Boarding drones before they can breach your hull and board your ship. (This is a very useful "undocumented feature" of the Defense drone!)
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If you really want to do the fight with weapons only, I recommend a hull laser and two Burst Laser Mk.III's. Go for the drone control first because the drones have been my bane on that fight many times.Then autofire at least one on the teleporter.Then you have two options; either focus on the weapons of the shields.I usually go for the shields.

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It's easier than it seems. Just disable its shields as fast as you can (having ion bombs helps here), then go for his weapons: If you have a lot of evasion, disable his lasers first. Or, if you have maxed shields then disable his missiles first.

To disable the weapons, send a boarding team to one and attack another while you keep a weapon at the shields so they don't come up. Once it has a couple weapons disabled he shouldn't pose much risk and have just a few life left.

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Always go for the missiles first. –  ChargingPun Mar 13 at 18:58
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I've just completed my first run on easy. No teleporter, no cloaking, no fancy stuff. 6 crew members (3 humans, 3 engi), 3 shields.

Pretty crappy ship, huh?

Luckily I had gotten two anti-ship I droids which helped bring down the shields, along with 4 weapons (Artemis, Blaster I, Blaster II and Hull Blaster I). At the end of Form 3 I was nearly dead with all the boarders and breaches popping up in my ship, but I kept on whacking the shields with everything I had and it went down at last.

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I actually beat it with the kestrel and 3 crew members with no teleporter. basically, i had max lvl cloak, hermes, artemis and burst laser. i spammed shield system on all 3 fights

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Three words: Hull. Repair. Drones.

These bad boys give you 3-5 hull reparation for two points of power and a drone part. They're absolutely fantastic when your hull takes a dive mid-combat, or you need to repair out-of-combat. I've personally found them to be a bit rarer on the RNG scales, but they're absolutely amazing little buggers.

If you've got other drone schematics in your cargo hold, you might consider swapping them out when you leave combat in order to repair -- it's more or less free, instant hull repair at that point anyway.

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