The PC game FTL: Faster Than Light has eight different races of aliens that can potentially join your crew, including humans as an alien race. Each one offers different advantages and disadvantages. Your starting ship always comes with a specific set of crew members, depending on the ship type. Usually your starting crew is somewhat synergistic to your starting ship. Besides the crew you start with, you can gain additional crew members from various events or by purchasing them from stores. The following guide to races in FTL: Faster Than Light will help you decide which type of crew members are best for your needs.
Humans – The starting ship, the Kestral, is equipped with three human crew members and this race is the most commonly available for purchase in stores throughout the game. Humans are the baseline stats in the game, in terms of health, movement speed, combat damage, and repair speed. Every other race is compared to them. While they may seem entirely vanilla, they do have one minor advantage. Humans gain experience for skills 10% faster than all other races do. This is particularly useful when you need to replace a crew member halfway through the game. You also generally want a human manning piloting and engines early in the game because those are the most important skill bonuses to learn quickly.
Engi – The Engi have a specific purpose. They repair at twice the rate of humans. The disadvantage of this race is that it deals half as much combat damage as a human. In general, you want to put an Engi in a room that is very close to a lot of systems. Engi tend to move around a lot, because they are constantly on repair duty, so avoid stationing an Engi in a room with a system that is critical to remain manned, like piloting or engines. Engi are particularly useful when assigned to shields or oxygen system, because these are the main systems that enemy ships tend to target.
Rockmen – Rockmen have half the movement speed of humans, but 50% higher health. They are also immune to fire damage. Since they are so slow, you generally want to put them in rooms where they don’t have to move much. Piloting is always a good choice for a Rockman, because you generally never want you pilot to leave the room. Other good choices depend on ship layout. Each ship layout is different and enemy boarders tend to focus on different rooms depending on the layout differences. Once you determine the main rooms that boarders attack for a given ship, station your Rockman in one of those rooms when not stationed in piloting.
Zoltan – Zoltan have only 70% of the health of a human, but they grant one power to whatever room the Zoltan is in. Effectively, a Zoltan is like a walking reactor. If you only have one Zoltan, you generally want to station it in your engine room. This pretty much assures that you can always charge your FTL, even when hit by a plasma storm. If you have two Zoltan crew members, place both of them in your shield room. This assures that you always have one bubble of shield available, even when being attacked by ion weapons.
Mantis – Mantis move 20% faster than humans and deal 50% more damage in combat, but only repair systems at half the rate. Preferably, you want them stationed at a system that is rarely attacked and not particularly critical. This will allow them to freely move around the ship and attack enemy boarders. Mantis crew members are also the type of crew you want to have when boarding enemy ships. If you have a teleporter, makes sure to acquire at least two Mantis crew members. On your ship, it is best to pair a Mantis with an Engi. The pair deals the same combat damage as two humans, but repairs more quickly.
Slug – Slugs are one of the more difficult races in the game to acquire. You can occasionally purchase them from stores in the slug nebula or gain one from a few specific encounters. In general, though, don’t expect to add one to your crew. If you can add one, they are remarkably useful. They can reveal adjacent rooms to them, even when your sensors are damaged or nullified by a nebula. They also reveal all rooms of enemy ships, even when sensors can’t. Furthermore, they are immune to mind control. Even taking into account that humans gain experience more quickly, Slugs are basically superior in all ways.
Crystal – A Crystal crew member is challenging to acquire. You first need to find the Damaged Stasis Pod and then need to unlock it at a Zoltan Research Facility. Assuming both of these events happen in order, you gain a Crystal crew member. Additionally, you can purchase more from stores if you continue to follow the event chain to reach the Hidden Crystal Worlds. A Crystal crew member moves at 80% of the speed of a human, but has 25% more health. Crystal crew members also take suffocation damage at half the rate of other races. Finally, they have an active ability that allows them to lock down the room they are in. The makes it impossible for anyone to enter or leave the room for a limited amount of time. This is useful for both offensive boarding and defending against boarders. The effort it takes to get a Crystal crew member is generally higher than the advantages, though.
Lanius – Lanius are an unusual race. They move at 80% the speed of humans and drain any room they are in of oxygen. Unsurprisingly, Lanius also do not require oxygen to survive. Since they can survive in a room without oxygen, the room they are in is always immune to fire. If you can manage to fill your ship with nothing but Lanius, you never need to power your oxygen system, your ship is immune to fire, and most enemy boarders will quickly die upon assaulting your ship. This is tricky, but worth it, especially against some of the nastier boarding enemies. If you do use this trick, upgrade your door system at least once to really keep any boarders in check.