Upgrading my shields seems to work pretty well against beam and laser weapons as well as against drones, but it doesn't do anything against enemy missiles. Those missiles can hit a critical system if I'm unlucky, and they slowly grind down my hull HP, forcing me to spend scraps on repairs.

What are effective ways of defending against missile weapons? I'm wondering especially about the earlier game where the options are pretty limited and the ship isn't upgraded very far.

4 Answers 4


There are three ways to avoid missiles, each with differing costs:

  1. Upgrade your engines (hard to do early game, but at least keep both the engines and piloting manned to boost chances of avoiding them).
  2. Cloak, if you cloak as soon as you see the shot you can avoid the missile. You'll need the ability to cloak, which you have to purchase from a shop.
  3. Defense Drones (and also Mark 2 ones) will destroy incoming missiles but you'll need a drone bay for your ship if you don't start with one and also find the right drone schematic.

1 is the easiest. 2 & 3 requires finding at least one shop, and 3 requires additional luck if you don't get the right drone schematic when you purchase the drone bay. Early game, unless your ship starts out with a drone bay, you may just have to take your lumps.

  • Upgrading your piloting in the first few sectors is a total waste unless you've had a crew-killing disaster and can't keep someone at the helm. No enemy will bother attacking your helm, and it doesn't improve your chances of dodging.
    – user2640
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:26
  • @JoeWreschnig you are right, what I meant to say was upgrade engines but keep both engines/piloting manned. I rarely upgrade my piloting even late game since I always prefer to keep them manned.
    – l I
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:27
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    One other way to avoid missiles is to damage the enemy's weapons system as soon as possible.
    – tugs
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:47
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    One thing to keep in mind is that crew gain engine/piloting XP per successful dodge, so upgrading your engines means they level faster as well.
    – Tacroy
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:51
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    that's true, but I like to 'train' up my crew whenever I meet a ship with only lasers that can't penetrate my shields. By sector 4-5 I usually have a crew with max in all skills except fighting and repair.
    – l I
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:57

Early in the game you should be focusing all your attacks on the enemy's weapon system, to shut it down as quickly as possible. If they can't shoot missiles, you don't have to defend against missiles.

Kestrel: For the entire first sector, and usually the second also, always target your Burst Laser at their weapons systems until they are red, and usually keep targeting after that unless they have drones. If the enemy has multiple missile launchers, fire your Artemis missiles at their weapons as well as your Burst Laser. But if they only have one, don't - keep your energy in the engine and conserve your missiles.

Torus: Alternate your ion shot between shields and weapons. Get a Defense I (or II) drone as soon as possible. This ship is just plain vulnerable at the start.

All Ships: Upgrade your engines quickly, to 3-4 bars at least. Prefer to keep an initial crew member in the engine room, not the shield or weapons rooms. (Usually I leave shields empty if I start with < 4 people in my crew.)

About drones: Drones are great for defense, eventually. But in the early game, they're more expensive than they are worth. A drone control system, a defense drone, and the energy to power it will cost you 170 scrap. If you're trying to reduce hull damage (which is a good first-approximation strategy), that kind of scrap is much better invested in shields (level 2 if you start with shields, the system per se if you're using the stealth cruiser) or engines (you can get up to level 5 and change).

Plus it's fundamentally unreliable - if you don't find a store with the right kit, this whole strategy falls apart. You'll have found that by sector 5-6 sure, but by then the cost of repairing hull damage is also comparatively less annoying - you need to make sure you don't start falling behind right away at sector 1, and drones just aren't feasible for that unless you're in a ship that starts with them.


In rough order of "how fast you can implement this".

  1. Don't get hit. Upgrading Engines (and staffing them along with Helm) increases your dodge change. Cloaking is great if you have it (pause when you see the missile launch for best use).
  2. Remove their ability to fight - target and destroy/ion their weapons. If they can't power the missiles, you can't be hit by them.
  3. Active defense - Drone system, a Defense I or II drone, and two/four points of power. (Plus a supply of drones). It's probably the most reliable once you have it running, but it takes more setup and ongoing resources. (Also worth noting that you can overwhelm missile defense by shooting enough missiles at once).

Drones. Get a drone control system and a Defense drone Mk 1 (They often come standard with a drone control system). A single drone will provide near-perfect defense against non-synchronized missiles. Launcher 2 Defense MK 1 drones may help deal with multiple simultaneous missiles, but it's a 50/50 chance some will get through, because drones aren't smart enough to not target the missiles that are already being intercepted by another drone. A drone recovery arm will save you a lot of scrap in the long run by refunding drones that weren't destroyed after you jump. Defense drones Mk 2 will also defend you from lasers, but there's a chance a harmless (harmless as in unable to penetrate your shield) laser would distract the drone from a dangerous missile.

Cloaking also works, and so does destroying the enemy's weapon control system with your weapons or boarders, or disabling it with ion weapons.

  • Getting a drone control system and a defense drone (even I, let alone II), plus the energy to support it, is money better spent on engine upgrades early in the game. (Unless you are playing the Torus or another ship that starts with drones.)
    – user2640
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:28
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    @JoeWreschnig I have to disagree, drones are a nearly perfect defense against missiles, while early evasion will, at best, give you a chance to avoid 1 missile out of 4. You'll want to get drones eventually, and the sooner you do the less scrap you'll have wasted on avoidable hull damage, giving you more scrap to work with overall.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:35
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    @JoeWreschnig I don't see how that has anything to do with the question, obviously shields are good.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:41
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    Admittedly, the question is how to defend against missile weapons in the early game. But if your "strategy" to defend against missile weapons just makes you take more damage from every other kind of weapon, that's not a good strategy.
    – user2640
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:42
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    @JoeWreschnig Defense Mk I's are pretty easy to come across in the wild, so you save some scrap there. Plus if you sell the (IMO) useless repair drone you get when buying the drone control you make back some of your initial investment. Also, you don't need to launch a drone every fight if you don't have Drone Recovery. Obviously don't launch against a ship with no missiles, but also try to launch them 'Just in Time' when there's already a missile on the way, just in case your weapons take out their weapon control before they fire a missile.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 4:21

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