To unlock Kestrel B, 2 out of the following 3 achievements are required. Full Arsenal: have a total of 11 systems installed; Tough Little Ship: go all the way down to 1 health and repair to full at a store; The United Federation: have six unique crew races on the ship. Full Arsenal is very easy but the other two have to be intentionally targeted. I'll have to watch for an opportunity to get Tough Little Ship (an asteroid field or other controllable damage next to a store while I have scrap to pay for the repair), or hope United Federation comes together with the right luck.
Sector 1: Very first fight was a slaver that gave a free Zoltan crew, awesome, then another gave another later in the sector too! Then I was able to use this ship for evasion training. I damaged its weapons, and when they were repaired, the two lasers were firing offset from each other so my shield would always recharge before the next laser hit. So I can sit here as long as I like to let enough enemy shots miss for my pilot and engineer to max out their evasion skill. There is some debate as to the ethicality of this, but the developers have long known about the trick and never changed anything, so I'm going with it. In game terms, training evasion like this is absolutely worth doing: adds a total of 10% evasion chance for absolutely free, a huge gain compared to the 80 scrap that two levels of engines and the reactor to power them would cost. Most often the evasion training happens with an enemy ship with two lasers once you get your second shield layer. Here I hadn't put the 50 scrap into shields yet because the previous fight had been at a environmental danger (sun beacon), but then I did right after this fight.
Sector 2: yeah picked Civilian over Abandoned. Saved up scrap, late store bought a Pike Beam, not my favorite beam but enough to know I'll have solid offense for the next two sectors, so upgraded weapons to 4 to use the Burst 2 + Pike together.
Sector 3: Engi Homeworlds over Abandoned again: Hermes Missile dropped, not worth using over the Artemis, just got sold. Store bought defense drone control and an Automated Re-loader, both nice. Hull Missile also dropped, also not worth using, sold at the next store.
Sector 4 Zoltan: always hate dealing with z-shields but should have enough firepower to manage, also upgraded weapons to 5 to use the Artemis as well. I got the Tough Little Ship achievement: At a fight that was adjacent to a store, I made sure to kill this enemy ship while a boarder was aboard mine. I then intentionally let him run around breaking systems until my ship was down to 1 hull, then jumped to the store to repair for the achievement. The same store also sold a Flak! I bought that and upgraded weapons to 6 to use the combo of Flak + Burst 2 + Pike Beam, so that plus the Artemis later should be enough to win.
Sector 5 Civilian: Slaver gave an Engi crew, needed that. Next slaver also a Mantis! Store bought Hacking and upgraded it to level 2, and actually the best use was usually to hack weapons, to buy me time for the first strike on enemy weapons which was usually all I needed. Although had one scary fight against an auto-scout with double Burst 2 and high cloaking who dealt about eight damage.
Sector 6 Zoltan again: Very belatedly got layer 3 shields. Store hoped for cloaking, didn't have it, but buying the backup battery still qualified for Full Arsenal. Instead of cloaking, spent the scrap on weapons level 7 to use the full package of Flak + Burst 2 + Pike + Artemis. My usual offensive plan: fire the Artemis at the piloting first to kill evasion for all the other projectiles, then rake with the Pike, winning most fights on the second Pike swipe.
Sector 7 Rebel Controlled: store again didn't have cloaking, so decided to pick up Mind Control, hate taking on the flagship without cloaking but at least MC can save the day by countering enemy MC on phase three.Sector 8: Joke was on me as a store here sold cloaking but it couldn't fit. Rebels took the nearby beacons quickly, only got one fight before the flagship, though also two repair nodes. Flagship phase one went as planned: hack shields, MC the pilot to make everything hit, gash with the Pike, the flagship's missile volley dealt no damage when the defense drone got one and two missed! Won on the second Pike swipe. Second phase (btw the Pike can reach all the way from piloting to drones) - got lucky when a laser shot happened to smack into the flagship's defense drone, letting me get an Artemis through on the missile weapon to break it before it fired! No damage taken again, won on the second Pike swipe just as the drone surge kicked in, also killed off a few crew between mind control and focusing my fire on the shields room (when that's hacked blocking its doors, everyone really bunches up in there!)
Through the sequence of flagship fights, I followed this procedure which is a standard tactic. After phase 1, make sure you wait in place, to fight phase 2 at the base. Then jump to fight phase 3 away from the base, then when the rebel crew all boards you, jump back to base to kill them off in peace! I did that to get rid of four crew. Then restart phase three with much less rebel crew. I used my MC to counter enemy's, took 1 damage on the first missile volley, 2 on the second, then only 1 from the laser surge as my evasion held up, and won on the second pike swipe once past the super shield.
Final ship configuration, weapons, and victory stats. Actually fairly low score and scrap (5500 and 1700 is more typical on hard), though that scrap deficiency only really occurred in sector 8, and made up for it earlier by selling a lot of junk drops and not spending on cloaking or crew.
Achievements needed to unlock Engi B: Robotic Warfare: have 3 drones functioning at the same time; Hardly Lifted a Finger: kill an enemy ship using only drones and no weapons; The guns... They've stopped: have 4 enemy systems ioned at the same time. The first is easy and so usually is the second (any shieldless autoscout, or you can hack shields to help a combat drone); sometimes the last happens at a pulsar event.
I find that the best way to attack with Engi A is actually to autofire the ion blast at the WEAPONS. It actually works better to let the combat drone clear the shield for the ion blast rather than the other way around. One ion hit on weapons buys a lot of time: shuts a gun down for the 5 seconds of ioning, plus 10-15 seconds of recharging, plus whatever partial charge it lost when the ion first hit. That's enough time for the combat drone to score several hits meanwhile. FTL is not about killing the enemy ship, it is about rendering it unable to hurt you, and the way to do that is knock out weapons by any means possible.
Sector 1: Very first fight near disaster, this ship with two heavy lasers hit me several times, including a fire in the drones and then also in weapons! But after repairing that, I kept the ion firing at the weapons to buy time... and then the same ship flipped from a deadly danger into a harmless evasion trainer, when the lasers came back online but desynched from each other, so they would alternate fire into my single shield, just like my evasion trainer in the previous game, and even also got weapons training by firing the ion blast at shields the whole time too. Next jump gave a Rock crew from a distress beacon, nice, put him on piloting although we'll have to train him too when possible. Next jump, the fucking deadly unfair hack-your-shields event, with a beam drone even, but I got lucky when my combat drone shot the enemy drone control quickly, and my ion hit the weapons and I cleaned up from there. A Burst Laser 3 dropped! I'll take that! Weapons to 4 immediately to use it, and at the first store sold the ion garbage to buy a defense drone as well. Next 50 scrap went into shields layer 2, and that's both enough offense and defense (with the drone) for significant time to come.
Sector 2, Rebel over Zoltan, the BL3 isn't great at taking down a z-shield. Got the Hardly Lifted a Finger achievement on this auto-scout, which couldn't hurt me through two shields with just one laser and a beam drone; my combat drone could eventually do all the damage when it would occasionally fire twice in succession quickly enough to beat the shield recharge, and fortunately it damaged the shields on its second such hit and cleaned up from there. Fed base quest yielded both a Small Bomb and a Mantis crew, awesome!, weapons to 5 right away to use the bomb and as a damage buffer for the all-important BL3. Except I had dived past the exit for that quest, and then the Mantis died when ASB hit his room while he was fighting off a boarder.
Sector 3, Mantis Homeworlds over Engi, taking revenge for that dead Mantis. A Pegasus Missile dropped, not helpful compared to the small bomb, would get sold at the next store. An Anti-Personnel drone also dropped, might be worth keeping. Got a crew kill on this ship with the following procedure: let the first boarder (mantis) teleport back at low health, he can't heal with a clone bay, then make sure to kill the second boarder when he boards me, shoot out clone bay, and finally kill the mantis with a laser shot. Next store had to choose between hacking or flak, or could do both by selling both the med-bot dispersal and anti-personnel drone!, so did that.
Sector 4: Mantis again over Slug Home Nebula of course. Did another crew kill like the previous one and got rewarded with a Burst 1. Switched to using Flak + Burst 1 + Small Bomb instead of the Burst 3, and used my next scrap for shields layer 3 instead of weapons level 6. Got yet another crew kill by shooting oxygen on a ship and getting lucky with more fires than the slow Mantis could counteract.
Sector 5: picked Pirate over Civilian, hoped to find some slavers for crew, that's my deficiency, though didn't get any. Store bought a Drone Recovery Arm that had dropped to buy Long-Ranged Scanners, always a big help. Got another crew kill by way of fire in the oxygen against a ship that couldn't hurt me (as long as the d-drone picked up every missile which it did until they ran out.) Started to accumulate more scrap with LRS and caught up on power bars, then L2 hacking.
Sector 6: only choice was Zoltan Homeworlds. Bought an Anti-Drone to use on flagship phase 2 and make sure to get the three-active-drones achievement. Racked up scrap with LRS. Offense was getting weak (still just Flak + Burst 1 + Small Bomb), even with shields hacking, so now I plunged weapons all the way to max level 8 to now use Flak + Burst 1 + Burst 3. 10 projectiles plus shields hacking will blow away any enemy weapons system in one volley.
Sector 7 Engi: Store bought a human crew, needed it. Got the Zoltan ship unlock quest that carried over from the previous sector, although only got the Zoltan envoy crew and not the Zoltan shield augment. Then a GLAIVE BEAM dropped!, and I decided to go with max max max weapon power as Burst 3 plus Glaive, sell the Flak and Burst 1 at the last store, to buy Cloaking finally, expecting that can buy the time that the Glaive needs. Yeah it's slow and unwieldy, but it's fucking diesel when it does hit.
Sector 8: Good scrap from four fights and a repair node (that was very important for the drone parts.) Phase one: turned out that the Glaive could JUST BARELY fire right before the flagship's second cloak! I hacked shields, cloaked past the first missile volley and broke it with the Glaive! And won on the second Glaive stroke. Phase two, I unwisely used my cloak when the missile weapon fired, and ended up eating about eight damage from the drone surge (synched with the triple laser), just before winning on the second Glaive swipe.
Phase three, I jumped away with rebel crew collected for killing at the base -- but fuck one of my own crew got killed while you can't control them during that half-second of jumping! It was my weapons guy, which was bad, but at least the Zoltan Envoy came with all skills maxed to take over. Phase three part two was touchy, still had three boarders to fend off but fortunately they landed in places easy to vent. I stripped the super shield with my first Burst 3 + Glaive volley plus a few shots from the combat drone. Touchy again as I took some damage from missiles -- the laser surge came early, had to cloak past that before the missile weapon's second launch, then that launch did hurt me some, but crucially no hits to weapons. Finally I got things under control when the Glaive finally charged to wreck everything - I hacked shields, and made the Glaive hit piloting first, so that all five Burst 3 shots would hit too. One more laser surge, where my cloak just barely recycled, and then one more Glaive stroke won.
Final ship configuration, weapons, and victory stats. 1600 scrap is slightly low again, even with LRS, but again made up for it with good value drops.
I hate this ship. The artillery beam SUCKS. Waiting for it to work is a losing endeavor, when you take five damage in the meantime from not-broken enemy weapons, that is NOT A WIN, it's a loss against the war of attrition. "IT PIERCES ALL SHIELDS" is bullshit when all it pierces into is three empty rooms and the med bay. It's the converse of win-more, "lose-less". It doesn't win runs, it stretches out losing runs for longer. If you're doing poorly enough to have to rely on the artillery, you're doing poorly enough to lose anyway. Particularly against the flagship, you will never last long enough through multiple power surges for the artillery beam to work. Upgrading it is a sucker newbie trap, to max it costs 250 scrap including the reactor power, and no you can't afford that on Hard, you can get way better combat capability for that price. Finally its fatal sin is consuming a system slot which locks out one of hacking or drones or cloaking, perhaps the only case where a ship is actually worse for one of its starting parts. I wish I could just rip out the artillery beam from that slot.
Fed A also has a bad physical layout, with the loooong ship highly prone to missile hits that a faraway defense drone won't reach in time, particularly on the weapons room, and everything important you need to repair is so far apart. It's not garbage in terms of power level, just the starting Burst Laser 2 bumps any ship to somewhere near average and it does come with good crew, but I still never want to play it.
Achievements needed to unlock Fed B: Master of Patience: use only the Artillery Beam to destroy an enemy ship while taking no hull damage; Diplomatic Immunity: use your crew in four special blue events by sector 5; Artillery Mastery: get to sector 5 without upgrading your weapons system. The first is easy as soon as you find any ship that can't damage you, most often two lasers vs your two shields. Artillery Mastery sucks hard, the only way I would even try to get through sectors 3 and 4 on the starting weaponry is to get hacking to use against shields every time. That leaves Diplomatic Immunity, which is mostly luck, though can be influenced by choosing the right sector types.
Sector 1: First 50 scrap, shields to layer 2. An Ion Blast 1 dropped, nice gun, not for the ion effect but just to get past 1 shield on 1 power, upgraded weapons right away to use it with the Burst 2. Got my evasion trainer, also weapons training with the ion blast, also picked up the Master of Patience achievement here and never used the arty beam again. Exit node sold 15 missiles (where'd I get those?) for 37 scrap for a significant boost.
Sector 2: Mantis over Zoltan, upgraded doors now. Got a lot of scrap, enough for Cloaking at a store halfway through the sector. An Ion Bomb dropped, thought about using it, but got a better option at the next store so just sold it. Cloaking means you can risk diving past the exit for more beacons, then when you return to the exit, dodge one ASB with cloaking and get out. Got one crew blue event thanks to the extra distress beacon, still need more but that's a start.
Sector 3: Engi Homeworlds over Rock, um yes definitely. Store had a Flak, of course yes, and weapons to 5 to use ion + flak + burst 2 together, and another store even added Hacking with just enough scrap after a few big event payouts.
Sector 4 Mantis Homeworlds: got the Kazaaakplethkilik event, don't have the stuff to finish it to unlock the mantis ship, but the event does count as blue. Actually bought a Distraction Buoys, the sweet spot where I can spare the scrap for the moment until it will pay back during the three most lucrative sectors, then sell it later. Ugh, lost my weapons crewman in a totally avoidable oxygen related accident that was entirely my own fault.
Presently I realized another annoying part about this ship. It's bad to put the guns in the order you want. I always want my guns arranged 1-2-3-4 in the order that they fire, ions/flak then bursts then beams. But on the Fed ship, slots 1 and 2 are so far to the left side of the ship that it takes a stupid long time for slow projectiles to actually get across the screen. To do this the right way, I have to put the flak in slot 3 on the right side of the ship, then the laser in slot 1 on the left side where its faster projectiles can catch up.
Sector 5 Civilian: Got an Engi crew from a slaver, much needed, then a Rock from another, super nice. But no blue events through the whole sector ("by sector 5" means by the end of it), so this run will fail the achievements to unlock Fed B.
Sector 6 Civilian over Zoltan: Store hoped to buy a weapon but none on sale, did buy a second Automated Re-loader. Store late in the sector had a lousy selection, best was a 4-shot charge laser, but that is not good enough to buy, might fit with slower weapons like a Halberd but not with this fast rack. A Hull Missile dropped, not great but usable, did take weapons to 7 for it.
Sector 7 Engi: Then a Burst Laser 1 dropped, perfect to slot in place of the hull missile. Now winning every fight by hacking evasion to pound all my projectiles into weapons. Which was very fast between max weapons skill and two automated reloaders! I didn't even want to hack shields - that's way slower to wait for the draining, better was to hit weapons fast fast fast by evasion hacking. Last store sold the distraction buoys and other junk to buy a HALBERD BEAM, for a loadout of Ion 1 + Burst 2 + Flak 1 + Halberd, and that's way more than enough to win, also now upgraded hacking because now we would use it on shields for the Halberd (hack shields, break piloting with the beam, for all the other projectiles to hit.) Then a Heavy Laser 1 also dropped, perfect to slot that in instead of the ion.
Sector 8: Got no fights (but two repair nodes) before the flagship, but didn't need more scrap, had the ship well upgraded. Without defense drones, decided engines as high as I could get (7) was most important. Phase one, fucking SHREDDED the flagship as planned. Phase two, fucking SHREDDED the flagship before the drone surge even launched, including killing off some crew with an assload of damage onto the shields room. Phase three, decided to cloak past the first missile volley, to make sure I got off my own volley before the laser surge. Did take some damage from the second missile volley and the laser surge itself (including stunning my pilot so I couldn't jump away), but won on the second Halberd swipe, pretty much before I even had to worry about any of the boarders who hadn't broken through any doors yet.
Stats show 1900 scrap which is nicely high plus included a lot of sold drops, so I easily had more than enough juice to win, probably could have beaten like six flagships with that arsenal.
After turning Fed A into a rampaging beast (I'll build my own beam machine way better than the artillery), I was up for a harder challenge, so let's get this one out of the way.
Sector 1: Very first store had a BURST LASER 2, sell the ion and drone booster garbage to buy it! The ship's one not-terrible aspect is starting with 3 weapon system power, and Burst 2 + Heavy 1 is five damage on that three power, a massive punch in sector 1. And a slaver gave a Rock crew, beautifully perfect, that's the new pilot and my Engi moved to engines where they both belong. Uh, thanks for a duplicate drone?
Sector 2: picked Zoltan over uncharted nebula, because low on fuel, and I think my weapons are enough to deal with z-shields. Shields to layer 2. Got a map reveal for free at an event, though sector 2 is the least important for that to happen. Got a crew kill on a ship like so: two crew, each of which teleported to me once, teleported back when low on health and I could kill with laser shots -- and that crew kill was important to drop an additional Heavy Laser! Got my evasion trainer, that one laser and one beam can never beat my shields, although that single laser took over 30 minutes to get enough evasions. Store sold one each of the anti-personnel and system repair drones in order to buy a defense drone.
BTW, the most irritating thing about this ship is waiting for the anti-personnel drone to repair to full health after each time it's used. I skipped doing that a couple times, but then it got killed while trying to fend off the next boarder at low health, and that's a leak of drone parts you can't afford.
Sector 3: picked Rebel over Zoltan: A Burst Laser 1 dropped, beautiful, weapons to 5 and swap that in for one of the heavy lasers. Sold that laser at the next store, unfortunately was short on scrap to buy any crew, but did pick up much-needed fuel and repairs.
Sector 4, only choice is Rock Controlled, but at least I have a d-drone. Got the heart-stopping "red wire or blue wire" event, I think it's the only one where you can be forced to lose a crew member with no other option, but whew blue wire is best wire. Got several fights leading up to a store, saved up enough to buy Cloaking, that should help a lot. Particularly in cases where one enemy missile will launch, but I can break the weapons before the second, which is a waste of a drone part for a defense drone to stop only one missile, but cloaking can handle that. Next store bought a human crew with weapons skill, still hate blowing scrap on crew but it's necessary, if I'd pay 40 for a 10% auto-reloader of course I'd pay 45 for 15% weapons skill who is also a crewman. Still had solid offense (7 laser damage on 5 weapons system power) but shaky on defense, even with d-drone and cloaking, still hadn't gotten either shields or engines beyond 2, what worried me was that cloaking evasion was only 90%.
Sector 5 Rebel Stronghold picked over Zoltan Homeworlds, here we go, this sector is make or break. Finally did get engines to 4, then shields to layer 3. Found the flagship construction event -- and holy crap, I realized that as long as I played correctly, it could not damage me at all! The missile weapon fired slow enough that my cloaking could recharge every time! And the triple laser couldn't beat my three shields. The boarders were a minor concern but I fended them off well enough. I eventually hit the missile weapon with my heavy laser, and the 2 damage broke it completely, which demonstrates what was going on: the artillery system had only 2 power, that's why it charged slower; the prototype flagship's systems do vary in power based on which sector you encounter it, and this sector 5 is the earliest and weakest possible. The weapon drop was a Pegasus missile, too slow, better to just sell. With that scrap I felt confident enough to buy two more crew (up to 5 total) at the next store. Exit beacon picked up a Mantis for a super cheap price.
Sector 6, picked Civilian over Engi; Engi ships can be tough to break on defense with a d-drone mark 2. My offense of 6 projectiles was getting quite weak against ships with 3 shields and high evasion, like half my volleys would whiff entirely inflicting no damage. Two stores had no help on weapons, I resorted to buying a Combat Drone just to get past one shield, swapping out (but keeping on hand) the system repair drone. This is super rare when I resort to this event, but this is the right situation, I'm high on scrap and low on weapons and worst case is garbage to sell at the next store (while in sector 6 there most likely still will be a last store.) It turned out to be a Hermes Missile... nah, can't really use that since it means swapping out one of the projectiles, and useless against an enemy d-drone.
Sector 7 Rebel Controlled: Wasn't super happy about it, but I bought a Hull Laser 2 (the 3-shot one) to upgrade from the heavy laser, need some kind of offense upgrade somehow and that was the only one available. Then got a map reveal, showing an absolute asston of fights and scrap to come but no more stores, so this is all we got from here on out.
Sector 8: Or we could find a store after all. It had a Hull Beam, interesting. I decided, yes, go with that and the Automated Re-loader. Offense of Combat Drone + Burst 2 + Hull 2 is 7 projectile shots that /should/ be enough to clear the way for the hull beam. BTW, the map had the flagship needing *five* jumps to reach base, I don't remember ever seeing that before, three is normal, four is unusual.
Flagship phase one, my volley worked, cloaked past the first missile volley and it recycled just in time for the second after having damaged it with the beam. But then I took some damage when all the other weapons worked together, all three ions hit and the beam and laser got through my last shield. But importantly the hull beam is pretty good against the flagship, killing it one volley sooner with all those empty rooms here. Then I was actually able to jump back to the store for repairs between fights! Phase two I followed my own advice, pre-cloak for 5 seconds, damage the missile weapon with a fast attack (hull beam is fast enough), and then your cloak will recycle just in time to dodge the missile volley and drone surge at the same time.
Phase three: hah the flagship killed its own boarder with its own missile, hah hah. Fortunately the MC hit my mantis parked in med bay so no threat there. Cloaked past the second missile volley and the laser surge at the same time, although the laser surge smashed my defense drone. Anyway I liked how this was going, fighting off crew easily enough, didn't need to jump back to base to handle that. Third missile volley, I heard a boom-boom-boom sound effect where there shouldn't have been any -- my own lasers shot the enemy missiles coming in from the same direction!!! Cloaking recycled for the second laser surge and then my hull beam did finish things off.
Solidly average run all around, average availability of average weapons, average offense, average defense, average scrap, average drops. This is the sort of average run that good play should be able to win almost all the time on Hard.
My only regret is that the best ship in the game comes and goes so early in this series.
Besides the zoltan shield, Zoltan A is god tier for coming with the best weapon in the game. That is the Halberd Beam, not the often-cited Flak or Burst Laser 2. They are good but the Halberd is king. The Halberd deals typically eight unmissable damage at reasonable speed and power usage. Virtually no ship ever recovers from that beating, and the Halberd almost always kills on its second stroke. Forget ions and fire and any other complicated crap; the Halberd just kills and wins in the space that any of those other setups take to get going with their schtick. I feel like I never lose a run with a Halberd. (The similar-looking Glaive Beam is really substantially worse; it still takes two strokes to kill, but consumes far more power and time, giving the enemy one or even two extra volleys before it fires.)
Achievements needed to unlock Zoltan B: Shields Holding: Destroy a ship before it gets through the Zoltan Shield; Givin' her all she's got: have 29 power in systems at the same time; Manpower: get to sector 5 without upgrading your reactor. The first is easy; the last is not something you want to try on a run that needs to win; the 29-power achievement is the necessary but tricky one.
Sector 1: First fight was in an asteroid field, second had a combat drone, but both times the z-shield held until the first Halberd stroke and that was that. Also a shieldless autoscout gave me the Shields Holding achievement. First 50 scrap into shields. Exit beacon gave a free Engi crew (the six-legged-creatures event), great, put him on piloting to put the zoltan's power on a real system.
Sector 2 picked Zoltan over Abandoned, might not with most ships, but the Halberd is great at stripping a z-shield and my zoltans are squishy against boarders. Got my evasion trainer here, one beam and one ion can't ever pass my shields, although a single slow gun at 15% took forever (35 minutes) to max the evasion. Man, then this ship could have done the evasion more than twice as fast, although the good news is it was a slaver who gave me a crew, a Slug. Bypassed two stores when I didn't have enough scrap to buy anything worthwhile, then got more scrap towards the end of the sector.
Sector 3 picked Nebula over Zoltan: FUCK took a pounding in a plasma-storm fight from a ship with a missile -- fatal mistake was not realizing it powered up a second shield and I wasted a halberd stroke at that - and my weapons crewman got killed when a missile hit his room while he was at low health from fires! Next fight I almost couldn't damage - it had two shields, and my Leto to damage the shields got repaired before the Halberd could charge - but I got lucky when the second Leto inflicted a fire (with the Slug crew could see the crew images doing firefighting) and the third inflicted a breach. Next store, hah, Beams R Us, but I already got a better one. But then could do this, sell junk to buy drone control (a defense drone had dropped earlier), sell the junk sys-repair drone that comes with it, leaving enough to buy Hacking to consistently clear the way for the Halberd. Then got ANOTHER Zoltan crew killed, at a sun flare fight, when a flare set his room on fire and a flare damaged my defense drone system which would have intercepted a huge 4-damage missile that then hit his room and killed him! Man I'm playing like ass, this is not my best game at all.
Sector 4: Whew at least the next event gave me another crew, human this time. And I got the Backup Battery, which all by itself (when upgraded to 4 power) can account for enough for the 29-power achievement, although getting 29 levels worth of systems to put power into may be a challenge.
Sector 5 Mantis over Slug fuck um yeah: Offense hurting now; against 3-shield ships, every time the only thing I could do was hack shields for the Halberd, but that did keep working, the z-shield is very forgiving and also I had the Leto to jab down weapons too when needed. Bad sector, had lots of blank empty beacons, little scrap income, did put shields to layer 3 which turned out to be just before the only store so I skipped that with nothing to spend. Risked diving past the exit for two extra beacons, slight net positive, got an extra 40 scrap but took 6 damage in the ASB fight when the first one hit my piloting.
Sector 6 Zoltan over Slug, not happy about either, but Zoltans give out more free scrap encounters which is kinda more what I need right now, even the almighty Zoltan A can fall behind the power curve. Store bought a Burst Laser 1, not great but I need it, weapons to 5 to use that plus Halberd. Next store had a *second* Burst 1, also not great and will take a while to upgrade weapons to use it, but going to need it so buy it now, and also decided I needed to buy one more crew.
Sector 7 Rebel Controlled over Rock Homeworlds, of fucking course, really need some scrap income here. Store bought Long-Ranged Scanners, even if late, still pays for itself with just one additional fight. Had to upgrade hacking to max to deal with 4-shield ships. Finally got first weapon drop of the game, though it was a Pegasus Missile, not really useful. Here's a real oddity: an evasion trainer as late as sector 7! Those are two 2-shot hull lasers. I damaged the weapons to desynch them, and so the two 2-shot lasers alternated without any chance to drill through my shields, so I could finally swap my Slug onto piloting (can't be MCed) (and free up the engi for repairing.) But did take a 6-damage pounding from an autoscout that was threatening to run away and had cloaking so I had to hit both piloting and cloaking instead of the weapons.
Sector 8: Not at all confident but gotta go with what we got. Finally took weapons to 7 to use Burst 1 + Burst 1 + Halberd, then after a few fights also went to 8 to use the Leto. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, that is the WORST location for repair nodes EVER. But holy crap this is a lifesaver, a STORE by the base. Not much on sale, the system repair drone did look like cheap and useful insurance, but really the important part was repairing hull to full.
Phase one: always hate going up against the flagship without cloaking, but hopefully hacking shields plus Halberd is enough to win, it usually is. The triple laser HIT MY DEFENSE DRONE, what the fuck, though at least the z-shield will hold vs the first missile volley and then it can respawn. But that clearing let the flagship hack, which hit oxygen, that can actually be a problem, decided I had to aim part of my first volley at the hacking to neuter it, using my usual plan for this, hack shields, Halberd hits piloting first to make everything else hit, including the Leto currently in flight at the missile launcher. Hitting cloaking is also important, buys me back the flagship's stolen 10 seconds. Won on the second Halberd stroke, no damage taken. Phase two: crap, on the second volley, 3/4 of my lasers missed so no halberd damage! And a missile hit my shields, fuck took one hell of a pounding from the drone surge before the hacking recycled again to make the halberd win. And unfortunately that store just got overtaken, can't return for repairs.
Phase three: had scrap to max doors, may need that. Smartly put nonessential personnel in med bay as targets for MC. Laser surge whacked me for 5 damage, only option was to run back to base to clean up damage and boarders. Second time, way better luck on the laser surge, whiffed completely! Next laser surge, hit me for two. Fatal problem when I aimed the Halberd plus one of the burst lasers at the missile weapon, but BOTH BURST LASERS MISSED to fail to break it. The missile weapon fired again, I'm at 2 health, the defense drone got one of the missiles, but the other two went past my shield, that is guaranteed death... but HOLY FUCK FUCK FUCKING YES YES YES I CAN'T EVEN WRITE THIS IN BIG ENOUGH LETTERS on that VERY LAST VOLLEY at the ABSOLUTELY VERY LAST FUCKING INSTANT as I ALREADY DIED when the flagship had NINE health my HALBERD BEAM hit for EIGHT more damage and ALL FOUR OF MY BURST PROJECTILES HIT THE THREE SHIELDS AND FOR THAT LAST POINT OF DAMAGE I NEEDED EVERY ONE OF THOSE! I do believe that was my first ever simultaneous death and win HOLY FUCK!
1618 scrap is low but not terrible. I had a much more difficult time than I should with this dominant ship, Zoltan A should have no business getting anywhere near death, never mind actually dying simultaneously. Lesson is YOU FUCKING NEED CLOAKING VS THE FLAGSHIP, there is nothing else to deal with the drone and laser surges, the missile weapon deals survivable scratches, the surges are what deal fatal gashes. I played like ass in getting two crew killed, but the game did me little favor to help make back up for that. I had so little luck with drops and weapon acquisition and never finding cloaking -- but if there's any ship that can overcome that, it's the almighty god tier Zoltan A and his begotten son the Halberd Beam.
Finally, I came nowhere near the 29-power achievement so didn't unlock Zoltan B, so I'll have to redo Zoltan A later for the achievement, but if there's any ship I don't mind redoing it's this one.