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Which ship is the best to begin the game with?

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@YiJiang: I feel like your edit subtly changes the meaning - it now reads more like "What is the best ship for a beginner?" rather than "What is the beginning state with the best final outcomes?" –  user2640 Oct 7 '12 at 22:35
    
@JoeWreschnig I was quite sure that was what the question was originally asking for, but if you feel that's the case please do edit it to what you think the OP was trying to ask for. –  Private Pansy Oct 7 '12 at 22:44
    
My own interpretation is the same as Joe Wresching's, FWIW. –  peacedog Oct 7 '12 at 23:00
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Strictly speaking, the Kestrel is the only ship you can start with –  Landric Oct 7 '12 at 23:11
    
Well, the question was pretty clear before it got edited IMO. Bad close. –  peacedog Oct 8 '12 at 0:45
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closed as not a real question by dbemerlin, kotekzot, Mark Trapp, jmfsg Oct 8 '12 at 0:30

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2 Answers

You can beat the game about as reliably with with any ship, so the differentiator for "best ship" is going to be entirely based on score. Score is influenced by how many beacons you visit, how many ships you destroy, and how much scrap you get. Scrap isn't influenced by ship, so that can be ignored. The stealth ship may be able to visit more beacons since you can more reliably navigate nebulas out the gate, which will slow down the rebel fleet. But that only applies in a rare situation, and it pays for it by having to run away sometimes until you can find shields.

So what you want is a ship that can blow up everything.

For this, I'd recommend:

  • Red-Tail: The Type B Kestrel, this ship starts with four lasers on a 10 second charge. Aside from being easy to manage, inexhaustible, and easy to upgrade piecemeal, this means your weapons operator will level up very quickly.
  • Bulwark: The Type A rock vessel. This thing packs a ton of firepower early on assuming you can keep finding missiles. You'll never have to run during the first 2-3 sectors.
  • Osprey or Nisos: The cruisers you get for beating the game. It's weak on weapons but the Artillery Beam makes sure you can destroy anything, even in the late game, if you just keep your defense up.

For similar reasons, I would recommend against the engi and zoltan ships. The engi ship can easily find itself in a position where it can't do much damage (I ran into an early Defense II drone and neither side could damage the other), and the zoltan ship's strength is being able to wait out damage rather than dish it out.

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the first 2 times I've beaten the game was with the engi ship. It makes for a great all around ship with ions and drones. The best part, however, by far the nanobots. It comes in real handy by the end game not having to pull low health units away from critical functions and to defend the ship. It also makes for a pretty good boarding platform as the teleporter is right next to the medibay. –  z - Oct 9 '12 at 14:57
    
I haven't had the no-damage problem with the Engi (well, once, and that's because I was stupid and bought a Beam instead of an Anti-Ship, so that's my fault). –  Allen Gould Oct 9 '12 at 21:15
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This game can be beaten? Really? –  DavidYell Jan 14 '13 at 16:34
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That's a somewhat subjective question. Still, the following ship shave strong starts IMO:

  1. Kestrel - both versions of the Kestrel are good starting ships. The Red Tail has more crew (with 2 really useful crew in a Zoltyan and Mantis and more initial damage output, but the Type A starts with a Mk II Blaster, which is one of the best weapons in-game. These ships can also get cloaking.

  2. Fed Cruiser - both layouts are pretty strong, honestly. The Type A gets 4 crew with 2 being excellent for boarding actions (Mantis, Rockman) if you get an early teleporter (this will really allow your scrap intake to steam roll). The Nisos (Type B) only has 3 crew but gets a rank 2 Artillery and the Dual Laser is exceptional.

Despite the lack of cloaking the Fed Cruiser is super strong overall.

I would probably rank those to ships the best of what I have used.

Zoltan - never used the Type B. But the Type A gets a Halberd beam which will immediately cut through any sector 1 and most sector 2 shields. While bad for boarding, Zoltan are otherwise exceptional crew member supplying free power. The Zoltan shield is excellent and will mitigate quite a bit of of damage. I don't think this is quite as good as the Fed, as it needs a little more to come into it's own.

Slug Cruiser (no experience with the type B). It does have dual lasers and a Bio Beam which are really strong (and you can use both off the right bat). It also has doors 2. Still, I would rank it just behind the best ships due to only 2 starting crew.

I don't have experience with the stealth or Crystal ship. I'm new to the Bulwark and don't feel I can adequately comment there.

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One downside of the Fed Cruiser is that you have to beat the game to unlock it, which means you probably don't need help beating the game. :) –  Allen Gould Oct 15 '12 at 16:33
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