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. If you enjoy using boarding parties, Mantis Cruiser class ships are the best ships you can find. All three ships start with crew teleporters and two of them can’t even damage enemy ships without using boarding tactics. This latter makes the Mantis Cruiser particularly weak against unmanned drone ships. The following guide to the Mantis Cruiser ship class in FTL: Faster Than Light will help you obtain each variant of this ship and use them efficiently.
Variant A: Gila Monster (16 Fuel, 16 Missiles) – The Gila Monster comes equipped with a Basic Laser and a Small Bomb. Since the laser is not powerful enough to tear through a shield alone, you need to sabotage enemy shields for it to be any use. Generally this means bombing the shield system, teleporting two Mantis crew members into that room to keep it damaged, and firing the laser at enemy weapons. This strategy would be a lot more effective if this ship had any sensors to start off. It doesn’t, so be prepared to fight blind a lot. Besides stationing your Rockman crew member in piloting to begin, your early priority should be buying a sensor system. You can afford to fight blind early, but you need to see enemies to use the Small Bomb efficiently in most battles. Even with Mantis warriors, it is easy to lose crew when teleporting to an enemy ship that you don’t know anything about. Also, keep in mind that you are limited to only three weapons on this ship, which means your basically need to teleport in every battle in order to make up for the lack of ship weapons. Comparatively, this ship is more of a hybrid between weapons and boarding than the next two, which makes it good for practicing the art of boarding enemy ships.
Unlock – There are two ways to unlock this ship. The ever so slightly easier way is to defeat the rebel flagship with a Zoltan Cruiser. The Abjudicator is the easiest of the three for this effort, though in no way easy. The second way is to encounter a legendary thief in the Mantis Homeworlds sector. You need to have both a teleporter and a level 2 medbay or clone bay when you get to this encounter. Then you have to kill the enemy crew without destroying the ship. If you do, you will have a chance to teleport to the enemy ship and then teleport the ship captain back to your ship. If everything goes right, you unlock the Gila Monster.
Variant B: Basilisk (16 Fuel, 15 Drone Parts) – The good news about the Basilisk is that you basically can’t be destroyed by any enemy ship in the first two sectors. You start with two shield bubbles, which is enough to defend from any early enemy. Unfortunately, this ship is almost entirely incapable of destroying an unmanned drone ship, because is has no weapons capable of dealing hull damage and it only starts with two crew members, both Mantis. The main strategy with this ship is almost insane. You transport both crew members to the enemy ship along with a boarding drone. You deploy a defense drone as well if you the enemy ship can fire missiles. You then let your shields protect your ship while you ravage the enemy ship with three boarders. You have to be incredibly careful about keeping your crew alive and you will run through drone parts at an alarming rate. You can defeat unmanned drones by sending over a boarding drone, but don’t send Mantis, because they will die from lack of oxygen. You need to earn scrap quickly to get more crew members and at least one option that doesn’t force you to burn through drone parts. You also want to upgrade your medbay early. Since you can teleport up to four crew members at a time, you can potentially send super deadly boarding teams. This is pretty much your goal for using the Basilisk.
Unlock – The Basilisk is unlocked by completing 2 of the 3 Federation Cruiser Achievements.
Variant C: Theseus (16 Fuel, 20 Missiles) – Theseus has a level 2 clone bay and starts you with a Mantis, a Lanius, and an Engi. Effectively, the purpose of this ship is to send kamikaze soldiers over to the enemy. You also start with a Lock Bomb and a Stun Bomb to support your suicide runs. The Lock Bomb is particularly good for allowing the Lanius to empty a room of oxygen before any defenders enter the room and the Stun Bomb easily gives your Mantis an edge in any battle. You can usually save missiles, though, by simply relying on your clone bay to revive your crew members. In general, it is best to keep your Engi in the clone bay to assure that it doesn’t get destroyed and you really want to get the Backup DNA augmentation if you can. Get a few more crew members early and focus on defense with a drone control module and Defense Drones if you can, shields if you can’t. You should be able to overwhelm almost any crew given enough time.
Unlock – You need to reach sector 8 using a Basilisk to unlock this. Assuming you can survive past sector 3, you shouldn’t have a hard time reaching sector 8, unless your drone supply runs out. Spend scrap to buy extra drone parts whenever you can. This isn’t a strategy for beating the rebel flagship, but it will get you to sector 8.
Mantis Cruiser Achievement: Take No Prisoners – You need to kill the entire crew of at least 20 ships by sector 6. This basically just means you need to fight 20 ships by sector 6, since destroying crew is pretty much the main way you win battles. Unmanned ships are basically the only real problem you may run into. If you are behind pace at around sector 4, just restart and hope for better luck next time.
Mantis Cruiser Achievement: Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs! – This achievement is incredibly difficult. You need to kill five enemy crew members in a single battle without taking any hull damage or losing any of your crew members. Most ships in the game don’t even have five crew members, which means you can’t complete this until roughly sector 7. Additionally, just about the only way to avoid all hull damage is to have maxed out shields and a drone control system with two Defense Drones. This is a lot easier to pull off with the Basilisk than the Gila Monster, but you need to complete two achievements to get the Basilisk.
Mantis Cruiser Achievement: Battle Royale – If you don’t mind losing the game, this achievement is very easy. You need to kill the last crew member of an enemy ship when you are down to only one crew member. To do this easily, find an enemy ship with very few crew members. This isn’t hard in sector 1. Kill all but one crew member and teleport your crew back to your ship. Then kill all but one of your crew members with Small Bombs. Teleport your last crew member to the enemy ship. You Mantis should be able to defeat any enemy crew member in the game in a one-on-one battle. Since you killed off the rest of your crew, you basically can’t win the game, but you earned an easy achievement.