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I don't have much experience with rougelikes. I suck at this game, never made a succesfull run, only once managed to get to the final boss fight. Worst case is, given the game randome nature every playthough, I have no idea on how to get better.

Whats your learning/improvement strategies and what ELI5 stuff should I know first?
Post edited September 18, 2015 by Dwuk
Dwuk: I don't have much experience with rougelikes. I suck at this game, never made a succesfull run, only once managed to get to the final boss fight. Worst case is, given the game randome nature every playthough, I have no idea on how to get better.

Whats your learning/improvement strategies and what ELI5 stuff should I know first?
There's no fixed winning strategy, it depends on the ship and the run. That said, here's some general tips: pause A LOT; micromanage your power, crew, weapons, etc... try to time your volleys, timing is of the utmost importance; try to get crew kills whenever possible; don't accept surrender unless the reward is really amazing or you're about to die; hit as many beacons per sector as possible and fight as many ships as possible.

A good way to improve your game is to watch playthroughs or streams done by good players; I recommend a streamer called Billy1Kirby, he's godlike at this game and he explains everything. He's also got a tutorial for the Kestrel A on his Youtube channel.

Hope this helps a bit.

P.S.- what does ELI5 mean?
Hey, thanks for pointing out that streamer :)

ELI5 - explain like I'm five. It's a popular subreddit where people get things explained simply.
To add something that Arturuxo said - experiment. :) I know it's quite vague, but this really depends on the run. Sometimes, for example, you will get nice rewards early on in scrap. With this, you can upgrade your ship to get better shields and energy for it. But it's also a good idea to save scrap because you never know where you will find a shop with Burst Mk. 2 <aka. one of the best weapons in the game>.
Try, observe and never give up. And yeah - maybe watch some stream - I get a bit of knowledge watching GeordyJones streams of FTL. And I'm REALLY bad with rougelikes.
The best thing you can do is to watch a complete let's play where someone comments on his run while beating the game. This is how you learn all the quirks and tricks you need to win, and how you pick up on strategy (long term planning, managing your economy, when to invest, how to change your plan depending on what happens next). You need to be VERY efficient to beat the game on normal, as in pausing the game with near perfect timing to issue complex orders. A common example is pausing the game just before an EMP attack is about to disable your shields. If the shields are not online, they can't be hit, so once the attack is over you can turn them on again without having to wait for the effect to wear off.

Best way to learn all this stuff is to watch someone else play while explaining what they are doing and why.
And "sucking" at the game is subjective, as you're never guaranteed to win. It's pretty much normal to die constantly until you've got it down, and even then...
You're not fleeing a rebel armada hellbent on destroying you, you are mining maps for scrap. Think of it like a business in the random encounter harvesting industry. The worst maps points are the ones that will cost you scrap. That means avoid tough fights. Run away when you see that they have the worst possible combination of systems/weapons. Sometimes this can be relatively wimpy ships that just happen to have your number for whatever reason.

For most non-stealth ships, upgrading to shields 2 by the beginning of map 2 can make a huge difference in mitigating scrap loss to nickling and diming from every encounter.

Increase your odds of getting positive blue choice encounters by maintaining a diverse crew and upgrading medbay, sensors, piloting and doors to at least level 2 early on.

Cloning negates a lot of crew-killing random choice events.

When you spot a store on the map, earn as much as you can ahead of the rebel wave before hopping in to see what items they have.

Mercenary delays are almost always worth it, but sometimes an early map scouting is better.

Boarding and suffocating earn the best loot.

Even when you know the game inside out, expect to lose 2/3.

The hacking module is insanely versatile and a great gap-filler/countermeasure when you really get the hang of all the nasty things you can do with.

The first Engi stealth cruiser is pretty easy to get and IMO probably the most well-rounded ship in the game once you get your stealth game down. Starting out with LR scanners negates its only weakness, asteroid fields.

Non-asteroid-field hazards are usually best avoided, even when you have a powerful build, pulsars in particular.

Avoid lengthy recharge super-weapons early on unless you have cloak. You need good D for those or you'll take too many hits before you can use them. Burst 2s are very nice early-game finds and quite nasty in multiples for the energy cost. Shield reducers + beams are the duh combo.

Don't use missiles/drones if you can get through the fight without taking a hit without them.

Pay close attention to Zoltan shielded ship systems before engaging, especially if you rely on teleport or bombs.

Augment, system and weapon combos that are amazing:

* Long range scanner - So cheap, loads of blue choice events and the next best thing to an early map reveal

* Weapon pre-igniter and anything that can get past their defenses - Always be on the lookout for one of these.

* Defense scrambler and missiles, drones, and the hacking module in particular - seriously if you spot a defense scrambler it's probably worth grabbing even if you don't have hack, drones or missiles yet. Also, hull missiles hurt if you target empty rooms.

* Cloaking, hacking module, beams - beams don't cancel cloak, hacking at 2 cancels shields up to 3. This with double glaive beams will one-shot the final boss but don't kill yourself trying to score two glaives or one too early.

* Reconstructive Teleport, cloning, teleport

* Drone Recovery arm, drones/hacking module - drones are pricey

* Any boarding build and mind control and/or hacking module

* Hell, hacking + mind control alone are downright nasty. Very easy to suffocate.

* Zoltan bypass and bombs - Zoltan shields + a nasty system combo can really ruin your day unless you have this

* A crystal crew member and teleporter