FTL: Faster Than Light is categorized as a Rogue-like game, because events within the game are randomly generated and you start each game from scratch. At the start of each game, you choose from one of many available ships. Each ship has a different layout, different equipment, and different starting resources. The Zoltan Cruiser is an example of diplomacy through force. Every variant has a powerful supershield that can defend against anything for a few attacks and then disappears. You want to use this time to tear through the enemy quickly. Zoltan Cruisers are designed to be challenging for players that are looking for a more intense game. The following guide to the Zoltan Cruiser ship class in FTL: Faster Than Light will help you obtain each variant of this ship and use them efficiently.
Variant A: Abjudicator (16 Fuel, 12 Missiles, 2 Drone Parts) – The payload of this ship is actually quite impressive, since it starts with a Halberd Beam and a weapon control system that is upgraded enough to use it. Unfortunately, its other weapon is a Leto missile launcher, which is just a waste of weapon storage. This weapon will serve you well for the first two or three sectors, but you need to upgrade to get past two bubble shields. Your supershield should keep you from taking any damage during the first few sectors. Use the scrap you save on repairs to get a second weapon and upgrade your weapon control system. You also want to get a new crew member as quickly as possible. With only three Zoltan, you are wasting one Zoltan in piloting, where the extra power he provides your ship does nothing. The Halberd Beam is one of the few weapons that is useful for the entire game and the Zoltan Shield is equally useful, so this ship sets you up well for the final battle. It will still be a constant battle to move past the weakness of your crew when facing boarders and your almost complete inability to deal with fires on your ship. All of these problems can be fixed by scrap, but they all need to be resolved early. It is that need to get scrap quickly in early sectors that will make the Abjudicator tough to use.
Unlock – There are two ways to unlock the Abjudicator and both are rather easy. First, in a Zoltan controlled zone you might meet an unarmed ship. If you listen to the broadcast rather than attack, you will receive a quest that will have you meet a rebel ship. Hail that ship and talk of reconciliation and then talk of progress without bloodshed. This will earn you the Zoltan Cruiser. Alternately, if you defeat the rebel flagship with any Federation Cruiser, you earn this ship. The Federation Cruiser is very easy to defeat the rebel flagship with.
Variant B: Noether (16 Fuel, 2 Drone Parts) – The Abjudicator is easy compared to the Noether. This variant starts with only one level of shields, which means it doesn’t have a normal shield and it costs 100 scrap to build the second level. The Zoltan Shield is your only means of defense, other than evasion. You need to be aggressive and lucky with your Pike Beam and two Ion Blasts in order to defeat enemy ships. Do your best to target weapon systems because you need to prevent enemies from firing at your ship. The Pike Beam can’t break any level of shielding, so don’t use autofire with it. Upgrading your shields has to be your first priority. After that, you want to replace the mostly worthless Ion Blasts with better weapons and get an extra crew member so one of your Zoltan isn’t wasted in piloting. The only advantages of this ship over the Abjudicator is that it starts with a level 4 weapon control system and has a better layout for oxygen. Still, you will need to spend more scrap to make this ship capable of challenging the rebel flagship than you will for the previous variant, which means it doesn’t just have a harder starting situation, but it is also a worse ship overall.
Unlock – The Noether is unlocked by completing 2 of the 3 Zoltan Cruiser Achievements.
Variant C: Cerenkov (16 Fuel, 2 Missiles, 15 Drone Parts) – The Cerenkov will test all of your creative skills. The only attack it has capable of dealing hull damage is a Beam Drone, which attacks randomly and can’t damage an enemy through a shield. You have an Ion Charger that can be used to disable shields, but this means that you basically need to wait 18 seconds before firing it, in order to make it useful. If you are slick, you can then fire it 12 seconds later and 6 seconds later to keep shields on the enemy ship down for 30 seconds total. Hopefully this is enough time for the Beam Drone to do the job. This trick works fine in the first two sectors, but you need to upgrade your weaponry darn quickly. Like the other two Zoltan Cruisers, your entire crew is Zoltan, which means one is wasted at a piloting job and you are terrible against boarders. Your one advantage against boarders is that you use a clone bay instead of a medbay, but make sure not to power that with Zoltan crew members. Oddly, your ship also has a backup battery, so you have an immense amount of power available. The starting sectors are slightly easier with this ship than with the Noether, but later sectors get hard quickly as this combination has little late game potential.
Unlock – You need to reach sector 8 using a Noether to unlock this. If you can pull off that incredibly difficult feat, the Cerenkov is easy to use in comparison.
Zoltan Cruiser Achievement: Shields Holding – To earn this achievement, you need to destroy a ship before it breaks your Zoltan Shield. You basically only have a chance to pull this off in sector 1. Since the Halberd Beam can break through one level of shields, try to hit both the weapon system and shield system of the enemy with a single attack. Assuming the enemy can’t repair it too quickly, you should just barely get this achievement. You basically can’t get this against any enemy ship with attacking drones.
Zoltan Cruiser Achievement: Givin’ Her All She’s Got, Captain! – Arguably, this is one of the hardest achievements in the game. You need to have 29 power distributed to systems at the same time. Power from Zoltan crew members count, but your reactor can only grant 25 power and you only start with three crew members. Additionally, since the ship starts deficient in so many categories, it is hard to spare scrap to pay for reactor upgrades, an extra Zoltan crew member, and enough upgrades to systems that you can charge all of them at once. Try to get a Scrap Recovery Arm or two to help you get the scrap for this achievement.
Zoltan Cruiser Achievement: Manpower – This achievement is a lesson in power swapping. You need to reach sector 5 without ever upgrading your reactor. It is possible if you buy a few more Zoltan crew members and stick almost entirely to green sectors. Even then, you will need to micromanage your power very efficiently and run from a lot of battles. Entering sector 4 without two shield bubbles is practically suicide, even with a Zoltan Shield.