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Half the people I know are playing FTL, and the other half are loudly asking "What the hell is FTL?"
— Matt Colville

FTL is a video game streamed on Twitch by Matt Colville. Matt originally played on his Youtube channel shortly after its release in September 2012, and began streaming in March 2019 following his ascension in NetHack.

FTL sees the player in the position of a starship commander who must battle their way through dangerous star systems while upgrading their ship. Like NetHack, which Matt has also streamed, FTL is considered a roguelike, a challenging type of game in which players lose all progress when defeated and cannot re-load from save game to continue from a defeat or to undo mistakes.

Playthroughs[]

Matt says he intends to complete the FTL at least once before going back to NetHack.

The Kirk[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Brock, Fryda, Phil

Matt's original two-part playthrough took place on Youtube[1][2]. It scored 805 points.

Taarna[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel B, "Red-Tail"
  • Starting crew: Ashpo, Lord Durok, Regan, Pesho

Matt's Twitch stream of FTL began in March 2019 following Matt's success at the NetHack stream[3]. The ship is named for Taarna, Matt's valkyrie character in NetHack. The starting crew is named for subscribers in Twitch chat.

The Red-Tail ship layout has four Basic Lasers instead of the Burst Laser II and Artemis Missile, preventing the early strategy of using a missile to take out enemy shields (as shields do not stop missiles). It has four crew (two Human, one Zoltan, one Mantis), making it versatile and defensible against boarding.

Matt purchased an expensive and powerful Glaive Beam, generally considered a mistake since the Red-Tail had no missiles to take out enemy shields prior to attack, and the ship had insufficient power to use the beam alongside other weapons. Matt replaced it with a more economical Burst Laser II.

In the second stream, Captain Ashpo was killed in a freak accident after an enemy boarded the ship and attacked the bridge. Wounded and running for the medbay, Ashpo was killed by a stray shot which hit the O2 room just as they happened to be walking through it. The ship was destroyed in the battle, with the run scoring 1,618 points.

Taarna II[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Ashpo, Lord Durok, Stephen

Stephen was killed immediately on an away mission. The crew returned to 3 with the purchase of an Engi slave named Jake, but shortly afterward Durok carelessly suffocated while repairing a hull breach.

The remaining two crew, Ashpo and Jake, survived a boarding attempt by venting oxygen from most of the ship and forcing the invaders to fight in the medbay, which continually heals the crew. Matt quit to go and play Traveler.

Next session, Matt rescued human Redsky and appointed them to shields, hired rockman Steve as chief engineer, and rescued rockman Kaerie after purchasing Mind Control. This new tech allowed the capture of a Mantis ship, but the ship ran out of missiles in the encounter.

Matt sold the missile launcher to buy Burst Laser II, only to notice that the ship's weapons lacked the necessary power to equip the second laser, making it impossible to damage any three-shield ship. A subsequent encounter with a three-shield drone resulted in defeat, with the run ending on a score of 1,767 points.

Taarna III[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: SteveV, Caskej, Anzu93

This run started with a dangerous encounter with a Zoltan cruiser that cost a third of hull. In zone 1 Matt bought the powerful Weapon Pre-Igniter, and later bought Drone Control with Defense I on the premise that he has never beaten the game without Drone Control.

The first weapon upgrade was Flak 1, and the crew's first addition was a rescued rockman slave named NerdSim. Next, he turned down a Cloaking Device in favor of Mind Control and a Zoltan crewman, on the reasoning that "The Zoltan can power the Mind Control". The Zoltan was named Dexton and assigned to shields, with NerdSim on sensors.

Next session, Matt mind-controls an enemy boarder, who starts repairing the broken O2 system. Caskej died in the next battle which left the ship badly damaged. A rebel ship handed over a human crewman who became chief engineer DirtyD. Unfortunately, the ship was unable to locate a store-io for repairs, and the ship was destroyed with a final score of 2,082 points.

Somnium Tenebris[]

"Don't mind the slime. You just gotta get used to it, there's slime everywhere."
  • Ship layout: Slug A, "Man of War"
  • Starting crew: FairWind, Quattro

Matt took the unusual decision of playing a Slug ship with two crew: pilot Fairwind and engineer Quattro. The ship's unorthodox loadout was disorienting and the first battle went poorly, with 30% hull damage and no victory.

Quattro was killed by boarders when Matt took the fight to Medbay and vented the rest of the ship to space, only for a boarder to open the medbay door. He was replaced with human Ma Fan, who served as engineer.

A battle at a pulsar impaired the ship and it was destroyed, and the run ending on a record low of 167 points.

Taarna IV[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Mostly, MazMaz, FlapJack

After an hour of chatting with the TimeRider, Matt begins a new game. He turns down a Heavy Laser at a shop due to lacking the infrastructure, but is coincidentally gifted Heavy Laser I in an event. In combination with the Kestrel's Burst Laser II, this is highly effective.

He recruits a Zoltan, Helios and upgrades his weapons systems to power the Artemis Missile and both lasers. With incredible luck, he stumbles upon a free Swarm Missiles, Breach Bomb Mark II, and Hermes Missile, considerably more than he can equip.

The ship encounters a Zoltan monolith and Helios leaves the ship to transcend physical existence. Matt sells the Breach Bomb and Hermes Missile and spends the money upgrading the weapons system and buying Drone Control. A slaver ship surrenders by offering a new Zoltan crewmember, Mackles.

Incredibly, Matt finds another free weapon, Ion Blast. In a difficult battle against a cloaked enemy, the Taarna IV is reduced to three Hull but succeeds when the enemy burns up due to fire, acquires a Backup DNA Bank and System Repair Drone. He spends all his money repairing at the next shop.

Unfortunately, the fleet caught up to Matt as he left a sector, and Matt made the mistake of attempting to fight rather than charge FTL and flee. Mackles died while putting out a fire in Shields, and the Taarna IV was reduced to 2 Hull. Following a jump, the crew nearly died after failing to prioritize repairing the O2. Thinking quickly, Matt saved the crew by holing them up in Medbay, then upgrading Medbay, allowing the crew to survive without oxygen until the System Repair Drone fixed O2. The stream ended with the ship fully repaired at a shop in sector 5.

Next session, he recovered insane hermit mantis IceB thanks to the Improved Medbay. Continuing his luck he recovered yet another weapon, Healing Beam. An enemy drone ship with cloaking and bombs took the Taarna IV down to half Hull, taking O2 and several other systems offline. Carelessly, a failure to account for the O2 shortage kills three of the four crew: Mostly, Helios and IceB. FlapJack is the only one left alive, but dies in the next battle. The run ends on 2,042 points.

Taarna V[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel B, "Red-Tail"
  • Starting crew: Rory, Blues, MoonB, BigSpoon

The Red-Tail starts with four Basic Lasers. Blues is nearly killed when Engineering takes a direct hit. The ship acquires a useful Hull Repair drone, so soon buys Drone Control. In Pirate sector, he is boarded and fights in Medbay. He finds a Heavy Laser Mark II, and sells a lot of stuff to buy Weapon Pre-Igniter.

He rescues Ovatch, and Engi who he puts on doors, and finds a Chain Ion weapon, upgrades to the weapons system to bring a third laser online. He takes the risk to board a station, and recruits human WanderD who is assigned to sensors, bringing the crew to 6. Upgrading his weapon power, the Taarna V can now bring online all four weapons: Heavy Laser II and three Basic Lasers.

A daring rescue recovered a seventh crewmember, the Mantis Usuola. A completed quest grants Titanium System Casing, and after much deliberation, Matt buys Defense I drone and upgrades Engines. Next, in a Slug Nebula he acquires the slug crewman Trogaf, and at a shop he recruits the Rockma CaelR to complete the achievement for having six species on the ship, dismissing human WanderD. He sells the Hull Repair drone and System Casing to additionally afford the Crew Teleporter, which with his two mantis crew as a boarding party quickly proves effective.

Next session, he finds a Pike Beam, but a virus dissolves the Engi crewmember Ovatch, only to reform as the hyper-skilled entity named Virus. The ship Great windfalls of cash from lucky events and capturing Engi ships with a two-Mantis boarding party, and allow the ship to upgrade to 3 shields and buy level 2 Mind Control. This decision fills his last ship slot and locks the Taarna V out of buying Cloaking later.

He finds a shield drone, but sells it for a boarding drone. He receives a Reverse Ion Field augment from a Lanius ship, and makes it to the final zone. He has no cloaking device or missiles. He upgrades drone control and medbay.

He begins the boss fight, and his teleporter is immediately hacked, impairing his boarding strategy. His boarding drone takes out one of the enemy weapons and his boarding party eventually takes out the missile weapon. In a difficult battle, they defeat the first stage of the boss, but lose both Mantis boarders in the fight and the ship is badly damaged.

Mackles the zoltan is killed by a missile. In the next encounter with the boss, Matt attempts to use boarding to take out the enemy missiles, but is hit with the power surge weapon and soon destroyed. With his final act, Matt beams his two boarders back so that they can die bravely on their own ship, shortly before it was destroyed. The final score is 4,078.

Taarna VI[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: WyldA (H), Prof Oo (H), Scott (H)

The Taarna VI rescued Murasaur (H) from slavers, FDEvery (E) from a destroyed Federation ship, and HAZGARN (M) from a distress beacon.

Forced into a nebula sector, he de-powers O2 and engines in a risky tactic to keep the Burst Laser powered, which pays off in a battle. He picks up a Charge Laser 1 and finds a Combat Drone Mark I. In a store, he passes up Drone Control and Cloaking Device and instead spends his money upgrading to 2 Shield.

He recruits Mikhael (E) and puts him in Medbay. After upgrading weapons, he later buys a second Burst Laser II and sells a Combat Drone to power both lasers and missile.

Matt buys the extremely powerful Glaive Beam, but takes some time to afford the fully upgraded weapons system necessary to bring it online, which costs another 265 scrap plus 75 scrap for system power. It's insanely effective to an enemy whose shields are down, regularly dealing 3 damage across 4 rooms for 12 damage.

In the final sector, Matt buys Mind Control but predicts that the win is doomed to failure, since he lacks both Crew Teleport and Drone Control. The first phase of the boss goes well, but the ship takes heavy damage in the second phrase, and FDEvery dies to lack of oxygen.

Jumping to the store to repair, he needs 92 scrap to repair all. He has exactly 92 scrap, and declares it to be fate.McdmMattSquee.png

Matt's strategy is to Mind Control the enemy pilot to cut the boss ship's evasion, and eschew the use of missiles, since the burst lasers make six hits. Unfortunately, boss stage 3's Zoltan overshield blocks Mind Control, and the boss uses its Mind Control to take out the Taarna IV's pilot.

The Taarna VI is quickly battered by enemy weapons and destroyed, and the run ends on a score of 3917.

Taarna VII[]

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Dirty (H), Swag (H), Flare (H)

Matt finds Heal Bomb, Pegasus Missile and Hull Smasher Laser in zone 1. He recruits shield officer Hungry (E), who immediately proves useful by allowing a blue option, and nearly dies repairing shields in a nebula. Acquiring Flak I, Matt decides to jump out of the zone earlier than necessary to avoid spending more time in a nebula.

Hungry, Swag and Flare die when the ship is boarded and an enemy beam takes out medbay, foiling the usual fight-in-medbay plan. The only surviving crewman is Dirty. The ship is badly damaged, but by using Zoltan philosophy acquires GnomeTech (Z). Docking to rescue, the ship is reduced to 1 hull. Thanks to a stream cameo from TinyCat, they quickly encounter a shop, and Matt is able to fully repair the ship.

At a store in Engi sector, Matt spends a huge chunk of cash buying three crew: a Zoltan who dies almost immediately in the next encounter, and two humans. Despite a fuel shortage, he trades 2 fuel for a Pike Beam, runs out of fuel, sells the Pike Beam to buy Mind Control.

In the next fight, the Taarna VII takes a beating. A Zoltan ship with ion cannon, missiles and mind control is able to take out engines and thus prevent both dodge and the option to escape, reducing the freshly-repaired ship to only 4 hull. Matt foresees failure.

Following a quest marker into a nebula, three wounded crewmen make a rush into a destroyed medbay only to discover that it's on fire. The ship soon explodes, and the run ends on 2,115 points.

Taarna VIII[]

"Is it Taarna 8 or Taarna 9? I think it's 8, because I don't remember typing 'III'."

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Aisha (H), Duck (H), Schutze (H)

The Taarna VII rescues Aki (E), Chuck (H), Jones (H) and Xin Xin (E). Matt buys Drone Control and a lot of fuel, but mistakenly trades away 4 fuel for 1 drone part. He buys long range scanners and upgrades to Defense II drone.

The Taarna VIII is thoroughly beaten in a fateful encounter with the Black Raven, and the run ends on a score of 1,405 points.

HMS Balls[]

"We're not gonna win this one, spookytwenty. We need way too much stuff."

  • Ship layout: Mantis A, "The Gila Monster"
  • Starting crew: ChickenP (M), Levi (M), AriaF (M), GG145 (E)

The Mantis ship starts with S. Bomb, Basic Laser, boarding teleporters, and no sensors. Matt plays on Easy while eating crackers.

Matt buys a Clone Bay to ensure he keeps his crew. His second fight is an AI ship with no O2, which he boards anyway in the knowledge that Mantis will suffocate before they can be beamed back, but respawn using the Clone Bay. The ship only has enough weapons system to power either S.Bomb (uses 1 missile) or the very weak Basic Laser (only fires 1 shot). "pew"

The HMS Balls is reduced to 6 hull in the fourth fight, and Matt bemoans the decision to buy Clone Bay. The ship is destroyed in the following fight, and the run ends on 252 points.

The Kestrel[]

"Fuck it. Back to plan A."

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Magne (H), Williams (H), Starger (H)

Starger is eaten by cannibals. Matt notes that this isn't an insurmountable loss, saying, "You can always buy a guy. That's what old Starger used to say."

He buys Hacking. It's disabled in the next fight, but soon triggers two blue options in a row. He next buys a new human crewman, Valeriya (H), and spends the rest of his money on drone parts and missiles.

The ship rescues Nathan (E), buys Defense Drone II (banking on finding Drone Control later), and rescues Jones (M). He finds another drone, System Repair, and upgrades to Shields II. Matt finds Drone Control at the next shop, but cannot afford it after he carelessly buys full repair. He rescues Berko (M).

ASTROLICH![]

"What's a timber man want with being a choob?"

  • Ship layout: Kestrel A, "Kestrel Cruiser"
  • Starting crew: Durok, Pesto, Spoon

Strategy[]

  • Matt considers the Scrap Recovery Arm a poor purchase. It increases all scrap gains by 10%, but costs 50 in the first place, meaning that it doesn't break even until you recover 500 scrap.
  • The Halberd Beam and similar weapons are excellent, but require heavy investment in power, making them pointless to buy early on.
  • Matt has never beaten the game without both Crew Teleporter and Drone Control.
  • Nebulas are bad juju. "I know they delay the fleet, but awful shit happens in nebulas. We've died because half our systems were shut down."
  • Missiles are important to overcome enemy shields, particularly late game.
  • Mind Control the enemy pilot to cancel out their evasion.
  • When boarded, fight in medbay and vent air from the rest of the ship.
  • Weapons Preigniter is absurdly good.

Quotes[]

Gameplay[]

"Crew need air to live, woah~"
"It's called a miss-ile, not a hit-ile. That's the problem."
"'Our FTL system has gone haywire.' Do they have hay and wire in the future?"
"Listen! We've gotten out of tougher jams!" (shakes head, and mouths the words: "we haven't")
(After a lucky streak) "Did we eat a cat?"
"I don't like having to wait for weapons to charge. That is bogus. Like a fucking peasant."
"You can only repair hull at stores? But who needs to repair when you've got a fucking Glaive Beam?"
"They had so much hull, and none of it mattered. The Glaive Beam... it's the glaiviest of beams."
"We sold all our drones. We droned all our souls."
"I'm not going to take out their engines. I'm going to take out their ship!"
"Nebula slows rebels, but it also fucks us."

Chat[]

"A god is never really 'out of town'. There is never really 'out of town' enough for a god."
"I failed the first rule of the Dungeon Master, which is 'There has to be drama'. Should've called it the Drama Master."
"Han didn't fire first, because Han's the only one that shot."
"Rebellion. It's like the Silmarillion, except of rebels."
"What would you recommend to someone trying to get into the [video game] industry?"
"You're not going to like this. I would pick a different industry. There isn't really a demand for writing in video games. ... It's a hundred times easier to be a writer for Netflix than it is for video games."

References[]

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