This guide will review all combat professions in the game, explaining which talents to pick and which builds to assemble. It’ll also discuss the best ways to approach both crew combat & boarding process and the overall logic behind it all. Adjusted for Impossible difficulty, obviously.
1. Combat Basics
This guide is written for the impossible difficulty. The combat there is 100% ironman and absolutely lethal – if your character falls, he’s most likely dead. And the most important fights are boarding clashes where you’ll have to have three or four fights in a row without any chance for a breather. And it could be even more in cases of bigger ships. Therefore, all parties should be assembled from the viewpoint of defense and longevity. Glass cannons just don’t work – even if they shine in 9 combats out of 10, in that tenth they get instantly bursted and that’s that, say goodbye for your investment. Or they’ll wipe out their first boarding only they’ll arrive to the second one half-dead and will be promptly massacred. Needless to say, you want to have at least two hit point healers in your party and maybe even one morale healer (that one depends on your party composition as some classes have decent self-regeneration).
Skills are important but they are one of the lesser factors in career choices. That’s due to the inner works of this game’s systems. Any kind of aggressive action in this game is done in the odds check. There are strong dice and basic dice (in combat log the number of strong dice is depicted with “s” at the end, rest are basic) but basic dice are, to put it simply, half of a strong dice. So if your attack is (14S + 8), just read it as 18 attack (14 +8×0.5). For simplicity’s sake, I’ll be just using term “Dice” from now on. Their number gets compared to the amount of dice your enemy have – if they have 18 defense in total, then the odds are 18:18. Which is the same as 1:1, meaning 50% to 50% chances to either hit or miss.
The reason why skills don’t matter as much is the nature of this system. Now, surely you don’t want to have a rifleman who isn’t into rifling at all. But, say, you’re putting 10 of your skill points into your Rifle skill. Huge investment. Through it those aforementioned odds will become 28:18. Sounds cool but that’s only 60% to 40% odds, actually. So, previously, we’ve had 5 hits, 5 misses out of 10 shots. Now we have 6 hits, 4 misses. That’s a 20% increase in accuracy. Which is not that big. So a level 30 Soldier will have 25 Rifle skill, a level 30 Exo-Scout will have 14. Sounds like a colossal disadvantage but, in reality, it is not.
And while it doesn’t mean that combat Skills don’t matter at all, – you certainly need to have a necessary amount of them so your odds of success don’t fall below 50%, – this does mean that combat Skill bonuses are bringing less advantages than Attributes, Talents or even Traits. There are several exceptions but mostly those are Talents where effect is based on the skill number, stuff with simple and straightforward scaling. You should be taking that into account during recruitment and leveling up.
The combat attributes you need are Quickness and Wisdom, Fortitude and Strength. The first two are primary, Fortitude is secondary, Strength is tertiary. Every 2.66 points of either Wisdom or Quickness provide 1 point of Initiative. Which is used to define both the turn sequence and the amount of actions you’re taking per turn. The conversion ratio is just too efficient here and so no militant captain should be delving into the game without 30 of both. Your combat officers should also be having as much of them as humanely possible.
It should be noted that Initiative is probably the most important crew combat stat in the game. So anything that provides it is good. All the talents that boost it are great. Initiative boosting Special Gear is the best. When using heavy armor you, surprisingly enough, never want to be moving past Weapons Locker 3 or buying any from the contacts – defenses of the supposedly “better” stuff are not progressing that much whereas the Initiative penalties turn from mild to soul-crushing.
Initiative traits are the best and that’s why, if you want a team of real slayers, you’re starting as Steel Song Clan. Or, at the very least, you’re finding their planet and recruiting there. Traits are divided by the “character” groups. And each faction has several of this groups which are associated with them – meaning they have a highest chance to be getting a trait out of those. Steel Song are “Agile” and that’s a supremely bonkers group with lots of Initiative bonuses. When the game says that they make for best assassins and mercenaries it doesn’t lie.
Another key thing about Initiative is that going to zero and below ends your turn. However, as long as you do not go down to -10 points of it (or below), it doesn’t matter if you’re left with -1 or -9. Now if you’re in -10 or below, that’s trouble – it means you’ll be getting minimal Initiative on the next turn (seems to be 8). But up to -9 is fine. Which means you want to be planning your actions in a way that will let you squeeze the most out of your turns, just so you can get out as much of this potential 9 extra initiative as possible. It’s good to have a variance of differently priced attacks & skills for this purpose and it’s a must to have some cheap skills.
However, there’s another approach to this issue. No matter how deep you go below the threshold, the penalty is still the same. And, as long as you have at least 1 initiative, you can still use the most expensive actions possible. Best heavy weapons in the game will cost you from 14 to 18 initiative per attack. And there are special attacks which consume double initiative per action. So, as long as we have 1 initiative remaining, we can use those attacks, going as deep as the -35 Ini and yet receiving the same penalty.
That means that our first turn can be a whopping 50-60 Ini one. And even the next turn with its measly default 8 can still go under the limit, turning into yet another 30-40. Groovy. I call this style of fighting “slowpoke” as you will be constantly lazy and because even a character with minimal Ini can do well in this fashion.
Keep in mind that you can have 1, maybe two such party members. They’re not too fast (obviously) and the combat is quite brutal and random, meaning that a couple of unlucky misses (with average actual accuracy of 60-70% those will be too often) leaves you with your pants down for too long of a time. Slowpokes are also not too reliable as healers so they should never be your main one.
Returning to Wisdom and Quickness – they’re also giving you defense and attack but in a rather minor amount. 4 of these stats are basically the same as one point in an offensive or defensive skill. Which makes them to be more of a pleasant addition than anything else – if a Soldier has 20 Strength and 30 Quickness that doesn’t mean he should be sticking to Sniper Rifles, for example. Snipers are quite underpowered so he should still stick to strength-based weaponry.
Fortitude and Strength are important due to the RNG nature of the game. They provide more hit points and so they’ll hopefully prevent the worst from happening. Keep in mind that, in addition to basic Hit Points, Fortitude also boosts your armor absorption – to put it simply, one third of your Fortitude is added to armor absorption. And this bonus can never be negated by armor piercing. So a heavily armored 30 Fortitude character will resist 40 points of damage from every incoming hit. At the very least.
First two positions will want to be having more hit points than the last two. That’s because melee attacks can only land on the frontline and so, in such combats, they’ll be especially focused. They’ll need this extra stopgap.
1.1 Combat basics cont.
Armor absorption is tricky. In reality, it consists of two numbers. Say, 30-62. This means that you have 30 guaranteed absorption – this will get applied no matter what. And then you have 0-32 additional Deflection absorption – you’ll receive it only if your armor deflects. Basic chances are 50% to 50% and then they get modified by the Piercing & Deflection difference. So if your Piercing is 30% higher than enemy Deflection, their full absorption will only apply in 20% of cases. If their Deflection is 40% higher than your Piercing, then it’s only in 10% of cases that you’ll ignore their full absorption.
Generally speaking, boosting your Deflection high is not worth it – it takes a considerable investment and rewards are still random. Besides, you’ll never know whether you’ll be fighting massed pistoleers (which are easily countered by even the guaranteed absorption) or massed snipers (which are the hard counter to heavy armor and no deflection bonuses are changing that). Instead, focus on Damage buffs and debuffs.
Any such effects are tremendous under this system. Let’s say your foe is doing 80 damage on the average. You have 40 absorption so the resulting damage is 40 per hit. Yikes. But then you apply a 25% damage debuff to them. So now their damage is 60 on the average and, after reduction, you’re taking 20 per hit. Hmm, the penalty is 25% but, actually, it cuts down the damage you receive in half! And if you apply another such penalty…
Same goes for damage boosters. Pistols are very fast but even the best of them don’t have high average damage. It’ll be something like 50 and so those 40 points of guaranteed armor absorption will absorb it almost fully. However, stack 50% of damage bonus on them (it’s not that hard, actually) and you’ll be raising the overall damage output from the pathetic 10 to more reasonable 35. Considering that pistols can easily shoot 4 times per turn, that’ll be enough to kill one human foe.
The overall combat strategy is heavily buff centric and that’s another reason why the initiative is so good. Buffs last for turns, not individual actions. So if you have Initiative 15 character and he’s getting buffed for 3 turns, that’s 15×3=45 Initiative worth of buffed actions. If he has 20 Initiative that’s 15 more Initiative worth of buffed actions – makes your buffs 33% as efficient!
Genetics are supremely important and you need to have a nice eugenical start. Most of your starting officers will be bad – either stat or profession-wise. So you’ll save their initial Talent point, you’ll traing them into Commander job as soon as they reach level 2 and then you’ll pick Discerning Glance talent. You’ll be using that ability by the cooldown on 2-3 officers so you can get best recruits possible. Hiring and firing people costs you nothing so you’ll be scrolling through large number of them until you get the Attribute, Trait and Skill combination that you’re content with. Just trading & questing in-between.
Genetics also mean that the majority of your combat builds will be based upon Soldiers, Pistoleers and Swordsmen. In the earliest (and toughest) part of the game, at the very least – special recruits cost 3500+ minimum and so you can’t scroll through them freely. It often takes 10 or so recruits to get to a decent one. And whatever the advantages they may have (combat build-wise) will be just wiped out by the supbar stats and traits.
You want at least 16 initiative on the average (that’s 42 quickness & wisdom combined) and at least 120 health. Sky is the limit here.
You want your parties to be either Heavy Armor or Dodge focused. Buffs and debuffs will define your combat strategy and you can apply only so many of them in the short period of time – combat is very intense so first turn defines a lot.
I’ll repeat myself a bit – in heavy armored parties, never upgrade weapons locker beyond tier-3. You can get better weapons at Weapons Dealer (have such a contact from the start) whereas the supposed armor “upgrades” will just cripple you. Their absorption progression is pathetic yet their initiative penalties are 2x-3x as much. Same goes for the pistol-based builds – higher-tier pistols are slower yet they don’t do enough damage to merit this change. 6 initiative pistols are the best ones.
Dodge combat is almost always stealth-based – stealth-armors will be having up to 7 Defense advantage over their basic versions. And, while there are diminishing returns and you’re never getting your average dodge rate higher than 60-70%, that will be good enough for you to survive. On the average, that is.
While Dodge builds are fun to experience, overall, Heavy Armor is slightly better. It’s just the mechanics of the game – 75% chance of Dodging is not too big and it means that you can easily be hit 3-4 times in a row, thus erasing your character. Now, that is negated by Dodge party mostly sticking to blades & pistols – swift, low-Initiative weaponry. It means that you’ll be having plenty of actions this way and that the enemies will never be acting too many times in a row. So you will be able to heal in-between these inevitable lucky hit chains. But that’s the lesser problem. The bigger problem is that Dodge is heavily skill-dependent and this means that you’re having less of a skill pool for everything else. Evasion & Blades do nothing outside of the combat. Stealth is only good if you’re heavily smuggling (which isn’t a bad strategy, though). The best Dodge skill is Tactics – it’s ranged-only but keep in mind that your back row positions can only ever get hit by ranged attacks. Doesn’t stack with the Stealth, though. Tactics is one of the most important skills in the game so I strongly suggest having a highly-tactical rearguard in such a party.
You fight with officers only – plain crewsmen have no chances to succeed on the high difficulty. They lack the gear, multiclassing and they receive less talents per level – too much of a handicap. If you don’t want to dedicate your officers to that, just play with either combat-avoiding or long-distance fighting captain.
Stalling the end of the combat is super-important – your basic strategy is to focus down all the dangerous foes, leaving the least dangerous enemy alive. Ideally, he’ll be out of morale so he’ll be missing lots of his turns. Then you’ll be just healing and resting until you’re back to full health & morale. And only then the combat must end. If your party won’t be able to do this, you won’t ever succeed at boarding.
Finally (and speaking about the game in general) do understand that you’ll never escape RNG in this one. Success odds higher than 75% are almost non-existent so don’t be surprised when things don’t go in your favor.
2. Job Reviews
I won’t be reviewing all the Talents – only the ones which are actually good. All the skills listed here are good and actually worth picking – you’ll have more than enough talents to have everything that your soul desires. Eventually. So the ranking here is more about priority of choices.
The number between the talent depicts the rank requirement of it.
1-Hitman Rush: 6/10. The buff itself is decent but your Assassin won’t get a decent stealth-skill until the rank 5. And this buff will never be applied on your first turn (which is the most important of turns). This is an excellent example of great late game booster that really shouldn’t be rushed.
1-First Blood. 5/10. Ditto. The rating here is lower because you don’t get to choose who gets debuffed, meaning you don’t control whether you’re applying this effect to the actually dangerous foe or to some chump.
1-Venomous Blade. 9/10. This skill may not look like much but it’s one of the best Blade attacks in the game. I mean, power-wise, Swordsmen have much better Blade skills than the assassins. But they’re all focused on self-buffing instead of damage. So, once the buffs are applied, they’re left with not all that much. And the in-built extra accuracy & damage here counts for a lot. Poison – less so as it is not quite reliable. But innate bonuses alone make this skill to be good.
5-Gliding Advance. 10/10. It’s a bit too expensive, to be honest, but it enables your Stealth critical bonuses which are the only reason you’re picking this class.
5-Fatal Blow. 4/10. It’s mostly an anti-armor and initiative exploit option. The problem is that critical is not so hot so, damage-wise, this thing won’t be that far ahead of the Venomous Blade. Only it costs 1.5x as much. And while debuff removal is great, swordsmen will give you the same skill only that one also doesn’t cost 1.5x as much. So yeah, you’ll pick this just to get down to the -9 initiative zone occasionally. But it’s nothing that’s truly great.
11-Death Among Shadows. 6/10. The skill itself is rather decent and flexible, it’s more about the fact that very, very few builds will actually want to have the Assassin ranked up so high – everything else that he has beyond rank 5 is just too sad. Once again, the only reason to get here is if you’re heavily into smuggling – there extra stealth levels will do more good than extra evasion from Swordsman levels.
Conclusion: Assassin is a great and almost inevitable addition to Swordsmen. Because both of their skill-sets are Dodge-centric, Swordsmen are bound to be using that defensive strategy and Assassin’s Gliding Advance pleasantly enables the superior stealth armors. And, well, it’s not like there are many blade-centric classes so it’s not like your swordsmen have much choice.
There’s not a single reason to be taking more than 5 ranks of this Job, though. All later skills are just bad, being either too expensive or having too long of a cooldown. And while Stealth skill growth boosts your critical bonus (and thus overall damage), the progress is quite slow and not worth it that much. So go there only if you really, really, really need Stealth skill pool for your economy (i.e., smuggler party).
b. Bounty Hunter
1-Steadfast Aim. 8/10. This is more of a buff than an attack, meaning that you want to be using it once every two turns. This also means that Bounty hunters, when combined with other classes, will want to be using fast rifles, i.e. SMGs. Just so applying all the self-buffs (the usual combo is with exo-scouts who have two more such skills) does not take too much time.
5-Hunter’s Challenge. 3/10. This is a great stalling skill – once all dangerous foes are defeated you want to keep the lone survivor alive so you can push your party back to full health. And it’s much easier when that foe is on zero morale, losing lots of actions and thus dealing the minimal amount of damage possible. That is what this skill is about. Mind you that it gets useless once the foe is actually alone so you’ll need to be applying it somewhat earlier, you’ll need to setup carefully. But it may help you a lot. This is a supplementary thing, though – it’s expensive so even with 10 starting Intimidation you’ll never have enough of the skill to dismorale your opponents aggressively. You know, not after you’ve already won the combat but before that, to actually win the combat. Besides, dismorale’s maximum chance is 65% meaning that it’s a bit too random to be using it against actually strong foes. And xeno don’t really care about the morale so depressive strategies are a no-go.
5-Unfaltering Ire. 10/10. Probably the best that this class has to offer – astounding combat potential reduction. For two foes at once. With the laughable initiative cost. And it removes all their buffs! What is there more to say? Keep in mind that while the debuff parts here look to be similar, due to the math this is much stronger for the Heavy Armor builds than for the Dodge ones. But then, the mass-dispel component makes it to be so strong that almost any squad would welcome this.
8-Sustained Fire. 1/10. It’s only usable if you have two Pistol-users in your party – those can use a bit of Armor Reduction. Otherwise, there are much better attacks to be made.
8-Resolute Hound. 10/10. Another reason why this class is Armored. 25% of armor is a lot, especially when supplemented by the Ire. 80 damage vs 40 armor turns into 60 damage vs 50 armor. That’s -10 per hit. Lol. And then there’s the self-healing part. Needless to say, this is one of the cases where skills matter a lot – you absolutely want your BH to have some amount of Intimidate bonus.
11-Shredding Shots. 8/10. It’s not a good attack, it’s just that you go into rank 11 of this job mostly due to economical reasons, meaning you’re running a greedy build and you may not have anything better. In which case this is a perfectly fine pick.
Conclusion: chief issue with BH is that he’s a relatively late bloomer. Until rank 5 he’s almost useless. And it’s only at rank 8 where he gets crazy. So, whereas the majority of the builds love to be developing widely, your need to focus on this profession heavily if you wish to have a useful character. His damage output is hardly amazing but his tanking potential is great – this is probably the only Rifle build that feels good at the position 2.
Despite rank 11 being relatively lame, some builds will want to go there. See, quite often your BH will be made out of initial Quartermaster and will be a BH/Zealot/Quarter hybrid. All these classes major Intimidation so, by class level 10, you can already have a dozen of it. With the initial 5-6 bonus (which is probably what makes you go for such build) that means 22-23 self-healing per action. Not too bad for a heavily economical character.
Keep in mind that 1 Rank here is worth almost nothing – self-buffs are nice but there are better 1-rank professions for this. But, if you don’t focus on BH exclusively, your Resolute Hound will not be strong enough. So it’s either 5 or 11 profession. And it’s especially good when you’re having a valid reason to use a high-intimidation char – like smuggling or blockading actively.
c. Combat Medic
1-E-Suture. 4/10. You see, it’s a great skill. Well, it becomes one. Eventually. It’s very demanding to the Doctor skill so you want to be having a nice starting chunk of it and you want to be developing into it steadily. Unlike the Doctor, which can be splashed onto many combative builds, Medic is a highly focused profession. Then, in the second half of the game, it will become supreme. But second half is not coming too soon, obviously, so there’s little reason to rush this one. It’s also better in the armored squads. It’s just that Dodge ones don’t tend to be taking evenly spread damage – instead, it’s the one unlucky ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ that keeps failing his saves so you have to attend him personally.
1-Cleansing Purge. 8/10. Just like the previous one, you need to build up your skill before it truly shines. But this gets pretty cool much faster – it’ll get highly usable at the 15 Doctor skill threshold and higher. It’s quite expensive (for a heal) so you’ll rarely use it over Field Surgery. During the actual fighting, that is. Once the combat is won and you’re stalling, this becomes an incredibly tool for the party regeneration.
5-Bio-Poison Grenade. 7/10. Ok, this one is very, very special so read carefully – grenades, surprisingly enough, are counted as melee attacks. So the only way you’re using them successfully is by pretty much building entire character around that. Something like Swordsman/Assassin/C. Medic – under those bad boys’ self-buffs, this thing will land much more reliably while dealing a solid amount of damage. And grenades are using your highest attack skill so, after having 1 level of Swordsman and 5 levels of Assassin, you’ll be able to progress as Medic, receiving higher and higher Doctor skill (that this class is useless without). Grenades are also profiting more from Quickness than your average weapon (twice as much) so try to be having that one max out on such character. Under such a build, this baby will be worth the labor – an ok-ish amount of damage plus a strong strike against the opposing Dodge, thus making them easier to finish for the rest of your squad.
5-Vaccination Patch. 1/10. Poison is not that frequent and the amount of buffed armor is rather small. But Combat Medic builds tend to be greedy and somewhat limited in their abilities – it’s a necessary sacrifice to keep your healing strong. So, for the time when everyone is healthy and you have nothing better to do, you can be picking this one up.
8-Lifeline. 10/10. Somewhat expensive initiative-wise but it partially pays for itself by channeling that initiative into other party members. And the healing here is very, very strong. This skill is a bit unique in a sense that this is the only Medic skill that’s good without having extreme amounts of Doctor skill. Which means that this is the only Medic healing skill that a truly hybrid build will want.
Conclusion: because Lifeline is blooming so late, truly hybrid Medics (the ones that you expect to be doing some damage in non-grenade way) are somewhat annoying to build. You have to go straight into them and even then until level 9 you are not really a healer. So you should never rely on such a build to be your primary healer and I think that the easiest way is to just hire a pistoleer and let him linger amidst your crew. Then, once he is level 9 or, better even, 10, you make up some officer space, you promote him and then you play with your cold storage toy.
The wait is probably worth it as Bio-Agent is a rather solid boarding tool, even if the cooldown is atrocious. Still, that character would be a secondary healer – keep that in mind. To make a primary healer out of this class more dedication is required – you need to have lots of initial Doctor skill so you’ll be needing to go deep either into this class or into pure Doctor. The choice is made mostly on the positioning – for example, position 1 Medic will want to spam Close-Range Barrage so he’ll need the pistol ranks, thus staying in profession. Position 4 medic won’t be getting any use out of his pistol so he’ll rather stick to Doctor instead.
1-Rallying Aura. 8/10. Predictably, Commander wants to have some Command skill from the get-go. Heavy bonus is strongly advised. Then this becomes great healing skill and a bit of a buff – it’s very rarely that you get into combat while being at full morale. Adventuring maladies or enemy ship fire are almost bound to shake your crew’s resolve if only a little. So we’re instantly putting them back into good spirits while also preventing a bit of harm from falling upon them. It’s one of the cheaper morale skills (rank-wise) that you can get and that’s pretty valuable, to be honest.
5-Barked Order. 6/10. It’s really expensive for what it does but it’s a very useful tool. Commander is mostly a healer so what does he do when there’s nothing to heal? Or not much to heal, at the very least? Why, you could prevent the future damage. And it’s just another source of such effect – since stacking of them is so strong, it’s nice to be having access to multiple kinds
8-Bolster. 2/10. It’s not a bad skill but Commander is a very busy class, talent-wise. You’ll want to get lots and lots of them and the amount you can have is quite limited. So this one, while being decent, gets relegated onto the back shelf simply because it doesn’t do anything unique. Debuff removal is plentiful and Rallying Aura already heals stress well enough.
11-Scorn. 6/10. This skill “pays off” for itself in just one turn. So it’s not a bad investment. But you have to mind the synergies – there are parties which are intent on annihilating the enemy frontline swiftly (Full Auto-centered ones) and there are parties which neuter that frontline with debuffs (this one plus BH’s Ire would totally kick the brawn out of it) so they can take care of the back ranks first. It’s obviously in the latter ones where you need skills like these.
Conclusion: Commander should be played as a buff- and heal-bot, always in heavily armored mode. He doesn’t have any accuracy and his skills, while being good, are expensive. Meaning that building up weapon skills will be wasteful as he won’t be having much time for their usage anyways. He also requires lots of Command to be efficient. It’s not too bad since this is one of the best skills in the game and it’s also difficult to stack – it’s great to have a crew member who builds up lots of Command by leveling. And even 1 rank of Commander is really strong as it brings 3-4 incredible ship fighting talents with it.
But builds like that rarely focus on one class alone so you’ll most likely get the full 11 ranks of him, the question is more about the order of leveling. He tends to be paired with other heal/buff/debuff-bots – Doctor, Military Officer, Bounty Hunter. But not Combat Medic there’s too much of a skill priority conflict (Command vs Doctor). One other important notice – Commander/Doctor hybrids are common but neither of these classes is considered to be combat. Meaning that if you’re something like Commander/Doctor/Quartermaster, you won’t be able to use heavy armor. Third profession in such a build has to be militant.
1-Field Surgery. 10/10. Doctor has only one skill and that’s the most efficient healing talent in the game. It also is very good on a low-skill character. Yeah, apparently it doesn’t take much training to perform field surgery, just read couple of manuals and you’re good to go. Poor patients of these guys… Anyways, restoring 23 life for 6 initiative is awesome. It means you can be bringing someone from zero to full in just one turn.
Well, most likely you will be staunchly keeping them alive while the enemy tries to focus them down but that’s another unique strength of this build – cheap initiative cost means that you can (and will) be interrupting rows of enemy strikes with this one. On Impossible I just don’t see how you really survive without having at least 2 of these in your squad. Outside of something like 2x Sword, 2x BH party where everyone self-heals a lot. But even then you’ll need one, just for the extra push.
Conclusion: Doctor has but one combat talent. But that one is great and very non-demanding. Meaning that you’ll be mostly using him as a 1 rank job. It’s the best way of getting a decent side-healer in your team.
1-Bio-Agent Flechette. 10/10. Usually this is the Exo-Scout’s first action in battle. Crippling attacks of this kind are really, really good. You’re still doing decent damage and yet the opponent’s efficiency is severely degraded. It buys you enough time to be applying all the self-buffs. And I’m not even taking the poisoning part into account – tbh, the impossible difficulty enemies seem to be having god-tier resistances and stats so they’re taking chip damage from that stuff. Damage debuff alone is worth it, however. It’s mostly about armored parties, of course.
1-Aggressive Advance. 9/10. Initiative and accuracy combo is just too sweet. Also a reason why they generally work in pairs – just so they can use these in succession, buffing and then returning themselves into correct order. This is more of a buff than attack so, after it is applied, you’d rather be using other stuff.
1-Steady Mobility. 7/10. This has a lower priority than the above one as Dodge chance isn’t that important to the majority of Exo builds. That’s if they have lots of Exo levels, of course. If you’re instead going for this class as a one of in Sniper or Soldier build, it’s gonna get something like 9/10 as 25% Dodge bonus becomes amazing in that case. And in armored builds this one is still worth picking as 25% Damage is nothing to scoff at. And, coupled with the Advance, you’ll be having 50% extra armor piercing – meaning that your SMG will shred through the armor exactly like a Sniper Rifle. Only twice as faster. Since you need to apply all these self-buff/attack hybrids rapidly, you never wish to be using any slow weaponry as this class.
5-Burrowing Shots. 4/10. Xeno are the sturdiest enemies in the game so bringing them down fast isn’t much of an option. And if you’re having a high-ranked exo-scout in your squad, you will be fighting xeno a lot – you’re taking them when exploring heavily and that’s what mostly happens during that. Even so, this is not that of a high priority skill – applying all the buffs and debuffs comes first and, by the time it’s all done, there won’t always be need or time for further debuffing. But, once you have the talents to spare, it can be considered as an option.
8-Know Thy Enemy. 4/10. Actually, you will be needing to have at least one of these as Xeno love to shuffle your party a lot so having skills that can be used from any position is really important. Whereas the previous one is more about stalling, this is the focusing one. I guess you just look on your party build and then you decide which one will you need more. Exo needs lots of talents so it’s difficult to have both.
8-E-Shock Grenade. 9/10. This is a really strong grenade but, once again, grenade mechanics are whacky. So this is more of a swordsman-exo-assassin build with nominal melee buffs and then it’s all the way into exo. Lots of quickness too. Then this thing will be hitting rather reliably. It’s main strength lies in the ultra-heavy debuff of the enemy frontline so you probably want to have Bounty Hunter nearby, just to press them down even harder. In your average Exo build it’s probably not needed.
11-Plas-Charge Slugs. 2/10. Exo have mostly buffing and debuffing attacks so they don’t have plain damage boosted skills (like the Sniper’s Bullet Trace, for example). And once all the stuff is applied, you’d really love to start using some. Therefore, if you have some kind of a greedy build that doesn’t have the access to those (for example, Exo-Explorer-Doctor or Exo-Military-Doctor), this is your only option. It’s not the best one but, well, the idea is that you have no choice.
Conclusion: as you can see, Exo-Scout gets most of his good stuff from the rank 1 so you will be often using them as an addition to evasive Soldier or Sniper builds. You want to have as much of these +25% Dodge as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that heavy investment in this class is not worth it – while not bringing much killing power, it gives you a ton of economy. At the end of the day, Soldier is only 20%, maybe 25% better fighter than Exo.
But the latter one’s numerous Exploration ranks will give you more than 20% additional exploration profits. And that’s before Resolute Hunter and Persistent Search kick in. Search is rank-1 skill but it’s a bit of a luxury so you’re getting it much later, once your fighting core is done. This is another reason why full-time Exos work in pairs or even in triples (two shooters, 1 grenadier) – wanting one means you’re choosing Exploration as your main source of profits and no other combat class would be giving you so much (or any) of it.
g. Military Officer
1-Tactical Edge. 10/10. If this skill gave Initiative alone it’d still be 10/10 as you’re just investing a little of it to be gaining much more over the course of combat. But, in addition to that, you’re getting great amount of damage, some armor and an opportunity to put your squad back into order if things somehow go south (hi, xeno!). You probably want the user of this on the position 3 – it’s a bit uncomfortable to cast this from 2 as the character will want to buff himself too and that’ll just move him into rank 1 which is a deadzone of this skill.
5-Damning Aim. 7/10. In pistols and blade-heavy parties mostly. Those can be very potent but really, really dislike armor. This skill is just a very efficient solution to that. And it just slows down the enemies somewhat. Not by a lot, but your whole team is already having +4 so the difference does become a bit staggering.
5-Leader in the Ranks. 8/10. Simply a rock solid morale regeneration skill. Those are a must have in many squads. You’ll need to have some Tactical bonus to get the most out of it so keep that in mind.
8-Steely Authority. 1/10. Heavy armored squads only. It’s mostly about getting your morale healed up, only you’re getting a bit of extra armor and lots of debuff resistance as the pleasant addition. I’d rate this one higher but this skill is not too flexible and Initiative cost is just too great.
11-Boarding Rush. 10/10. With the self-applied Tactical Edge you’ll be having a constant +8 from now on. That’s a lot of actions to do. And you’re giving a bit of boost to your Damning Aim. Which you probably do want to land.
Conclusion: Officer is one of the best buffbots and morale healers in the game. And he does that all while providing you with lots and lots of Command and Tactics – really useful skills for boarding strategies. And his ship combat and patrolling talents are also rather great. So, if you’re having a Pistoleer in your crew, you’ll be really tempted to make him into a 11 rank commander. And even if you’re despising that kind of weaponry, you still need rank 1 Commander for that delicious Edge. Or you can just couple your commander with combat medic and doctor and use him as a universal healbot.
1-Close Range Barrage. 9/10. With one notice – only armored parties want such a pistoleer. First, dodgy pistoleers will most likely be spies and so they’ll have nothing to do in position 1. Second, the weight of this debuff is much bigger there. So this is an absolute 0 for dodge professions. And you’ll probably need to make your build around this one – as I’ve already mentioned, a Combat Medic one. Other pistol-based professions don’t have much else to do in position 1.
1-Pinning Shot. 6/10. This one is quite universal and on most other characters it would be ranked higher than this. It’s just that pistoleer has a billion of things to get at the same time so there’s too much competition and even good stuff will have to wait. It’s a great “marking” tool that will soften the enemy so the rest of your team could murder him easily. Especially important in squads with mediocre accuracy, i.e. with lots of economical professions (spies, bounty hunters, exos).
1-Raining Steel. 10/10. It’s free and it’s raining the goodness all over you – more actions and a boatload of damage dealt. Which is something that’s especially important for pistol usage as you have to bypass that pesky armor somehow.
1-Fading Shot. 3/10. It’s somewhat useful in the armored builds but it is absolutely secondary to the Close Range Barrage. First, that one doesn’t disrupt your order – that’s often annoying and you won’t be fixing it easily until you get your Advancing Front. If you will be getting that at all. Second, it’s much more defensively reliable – this one prevents damage only if pistoleer himself gets hit. Barrage prevents damage in any case. 25% damage reduction is also much better than 25% armor. There’s an accuracy part here too, ofc, but that’s not something that this class is lacking. So this skill is more of a late game polishing self-buff than anything else.
1-Aimed Focus. 8/10. That’s another amazing one – really cheap, buffs all the necessarily stats and it heals ya. Have enough of these spread around and you don’t need a dedicated morale healer – lots of weight off your shoulders, actually. And the best part of it is that it’s not pistol only – any ranged weapon will benefit. And damage & critical will even spread to the melee weaponry. It’s just too universal.
5-Duelist’s Stance. 8/10. Despite the deflection boost, this is a Dodge party tool so this is for their usage only. Otherwise, this is a great survivability booster and debuff resistance is not a bad bonus on a top of that.
8-Terrifying Accuracy. 6/10. It’s just a second serving of Pinning Shot. I guess you can have a second position Pistoleer who is just using both, thus almost negating enemy evasion. Not a bad plan, tbh. The pistol is also very quick so DoT attacks work better with it. And bleeding seems to be a bit better than bio-poison. So you can actually stack a bunch of this stuff on some sturdy enemy.
8-Advancing Front. 3/10. The damage is not that bad but there are better pistol attacks out there. And while you can (and will) use this with Fading Shot, the overall output is not that amazing. A Spy spamming Shadowed Fire would probably do better damage on the average, you know.
Conclusion: Pistoleer has probably the strongest rank-1 in the game. Lots of goodness that’s applicable to almost any combat character. Many Swordsmen (as they’re dodge-based) will not mind against 2 ranks of this class – you’re getting lots of evasion and self-buffs that way. Exo-Scouts, Bounty Hunters and Snipers should presumably be built through 1 Rank of Soldiers, but no, they’ll profit more from 1 Rank of Pistoleer. Sure, you’re not getting the rifle skill but Aimed Focus negates that disadvantage easily and then Raining Steel just overcompensates. Aimed Focus also gives you some relatively crappy morale regeneration but that’s still accelerating your stalling greatly. Further job ranks are not as amazing and are only worth it in heavily dodging builds.
1-Bullet Trace. 6/10. Amazingly enough, rifles have lots of good self-buffs and debuffs but decent attacks with them are rather rare. I guess that the compensation of the fact that, unlike Swords & Pistols, they don’t really suffer against the armor. So even though this doesn’t have the highest efficiency in the game, this is your bread & butter skill nonetheless. Well, it does help you focus down targets so it’s definitely not disappointing. Just not as amazing as some other stuff can be.
1-Vanishing Act. 10/10. Stealth is the biggest pull into this job and so this is a Dodge-based character, no matter the build. You’ll want that stealthy armor and you’ll want lots of ranks in Evasion & Stealth. It’s mostly about Evasion, however – one rank in it is as efficient defensively-wise as four ranks in Stealth. On the other hand, Stealth has economical uses whereas Evasion is combat only. So whether to keep your sniper pure or to mix him with Soldier – it’ll depend on the financial needs of your party. Anyways, this boosts your Evasion greatly, enables best armors and your other self-buffs and even gives you a bit of critical damage. There’s no need to be going for Sniper if you’re not using this stuff.
1-Dominant Eye. 6/10. Lots of pleasant bonuses but you’re not in the hugest of hurries to get them. Sniper is mostly a hybrid characters so you’ll have lots of other priorities, many of which will be higher than this pleasant stuff. So it’s more of a middle-game thing.
1-Target Acquired. 4/10. Same as above only a bit worse because buffing yourself gives you more flexibility than debuffing some kind of a non-predictable foe. I mean, it’s always the frontline but you can never guarantee whether you’ll want to focus them fast or not, it’s too situational.
5-Eagle Eye. 2/10. TBH, the amount of buff here is too weak for this price. But Sniper’s attacks will be mostly expensive ones – unfortunately, Sniper Rifles themselves suck so you’ll stick to the 14 Initiative Heavy Machineguns. Some sniping tool that is. Nonetheless, you’ll need some cheaper skills to maneuver around the initiative thresholds carefully and this just might do the trick. Periodically – this will be something that you use only when opportunity arises and hence you’re not rushing it strongly.
8-Unseen Fear. 4/10. It’s mostly about applying dodging and initiative debuff to two targets at once. Dismorale aspect sounds nice but Sniper’s stealth just grows too slowly so it’ll be around 20-30 morale lost at its best. Not enough to make a real difference. And other stealth classes (Spy and Assassin) are not really giving anything to this one so even multi-classing won’t boost this farther. It’s a nice concept but it’s not a workable one.
Conclusion: unless your economy absolutely demands it, sniper works best (and only) as a one rank. You splice rank 1 on Pistoleer 5/Soldier Max and you’re getting lots of Evasion ranks that get boosted by +75% of total multiplier and the access to the +14 Dodge from best stealthy armor. Everything beyond that is just disappointing – weak, overpriced skills that just don’t do as much damage as their Soldier analogues. And even in economical builds I’d rather stick with the backrow Spy – their economy is just much, much better.
1-Ferocity. 5/10. It has some potential but it’s a highly situational skill. First, you never use it in Dodge-centric parties – the penalty is just too steep and risky. Since Soldier is primarily Dodge-based (with all that Evasion in skill progression it’s kind of a given), this alone is a huge limitation. Second, even in the armored builds you’ll often want to delay picking it until you secure your accuracy. And maybe even pick it up only if the character has some nice innate accuracy bonuses. It’s just that non-Dodge riflemen are Exo-Scouts & Bounty Hunters. And both of these classes are not having too hot of a weapon skill progression. Especially Bounties. So that 10% accuracy loss, while seeming small, begins to hurt like hell. You’ll need to accumulate some accuracy bonuses before you go into this one, hence the low rating. And even then, I’m not sure if Soldier 1 is something that those builds will want to be using.
1-Burst Fire. 6/10. This is another “exceptional” skill. In a sense that you’re using it in rarest of exceptions – generally speaking, Full Auto does the same only much better. So at best you’re sticking to this until you have that, then you’re just respeccing and forgetting that such skill exists. However, Full Auto doesn’t work on position 2. So if you wish to be doing these heavy burst from position 2, Burst is the way to go. That’ll probably be a bounty hunter build so you’ll have that tank that can do some damage too. Bounty’s Steadfast Aim would also help such a build – you’ll need lots of damage bonuses for this one so they overwrite the innate penalty, only then this skill will get good. And it’s a slowpoke strategy so be prepared for that.
1-Discipline. 7/10. Finally, something obvious. It’s mostly about Dodge-builds, though – the armor boost is too pathetic, it’s totally not worth the initiative cost. In armor builds, this is more of a 1/10.
1-Suppressing Fire. 10/10. Now this is a great Dodge tool – the lower your enemy’s accuracy falls, the higher your Dodge rises. And you want to see it pretty high. It calls for some tough choices, though. On one hand, backrow Soldiers love to go for Full Auto and thus they’re using heaviest guns possible. On the other, this one is better with SMGs and their faster shooting. Just so you can spread the love around, tagging each of enemies swiftly. So you’ll need to decide your priorities. And even in armored parties this is worth using – 25% accuracy alone is pretty good and, due to the nature of the game, accuracy penalty still will get useful. There, however, you just stick to your heavy guns as debuffing everyone is a pleasant bonus, not a necessity.
1-Roaring Barrels. 6/10. It’s much less about damage here and much more about buff removal. Enemies are using the same kind of stuff that you do and it’s equally as good for them. So you’d absolutely love to strip it down from them, if possible. Well, with this little toy it’s totally possible.
5-Blowback. 9/10. There are so many different Soldier builds, to be honest. This is the deepest job of the game. Which is probably good because it’s basic and so you’ll mostly have to rely on such recruits. Anyways, here we have plenty of stun with some extra damage mixed in-between – generally I dislike the bleeding as you need to be focusing enemies fast, not slowly draining them down. But they make more sense if the enemies are missing their turns so in this build (a grenadier one, actually) it is much better than usual.
8-Full Auto. 10/10. The dream of any slowpoke. With end of the line shotguns (surprisingly enough, they’re better at this than heavy machineguns) you’ll be mowing down two human frontliners at the same time, no questions asked (because dead people don’t ask them). Xeno are a bit tougher to bring down but even they will feel some serious pain. Full Auto characters generate tremendous damage and so the rest of the crew just needs to support them – buff, debuff, whatever. And while it supposedly penalizes you during the next turns, in practice that’s just a debuff. Any kind of a debuff removal, Soldier’s own Discipline included, will fix it. So it’s devastation over and over and over again.
8-Concussion Grenade. 10/10. Probably the best grenade in the game. It’s just that the others have too hybrid of a purpose (both damage & debuffs being attached) whereas this is very straightforward – nothing but strongest stun and initiative loss. Cripple the frontline so you can kill the rearguard in peace. And even morale damage helps greatly in the eventual and inevitable stalling phase. As always, this is a melee attack so some ranks in Swordsman are needed. But, since there’s no damage component here, Assassin is probably an overkill – just go for a doctor or maybe Pistoleer for that extra Dodge.
8-Frontline Brave. 8/10. A bit expensive but it more than pays for itself so it’s quite all right.
11-Fearsome Charge. 8/10. And yet another self-buff to make Full Auto to be truly worth it. Despite the diverse range, this is probably more of a rearguard skill – frontline Soldier is more about buffs & debuffs so it doesn’t profit from damage as much. On the other hand, if that frontline build is somehow moved this is just a way of getting back into position without wasting time. So even there it’s a solid pick, just with a slightly lower priority (7/10).
Conclusion: as you can see, Soldiers are densely packed. The only thing that’s weak about them is their rank-1 – outside of Suppressing Fire (which is limited to Dodgy rearguard), there’s nothing amazing in it. Rank-5 is not too hot either. As I’ve said before, if you need just one rank of a shooty job, you go Pistoleer. Being a Soldier means total commitment – prioritized rank 8-11 or it’s a waste of the job. Whether you move above that depends on your party – in Dodge ones you certainly do as those Evasion skillpoints are precious to you. In Armor ones – it’s quite the contrary. In terms of the builds – there’s either Full Auto rearguard or buffing/debuffing frontline, these are the major archetypes.
1-Disappearing Act. 10/10. No self-respecting Spy leaves his home without it. It’s the best Stealth-buff in the game – good protective bonuses, nice duration and fast availability. Even Snipers and Assassins may wish to splice into this job for this skill alone – their versions are just inferior. Whether you’re able to do it or not depends on your economy – do you need those Spy levels? i.e., do you plan on spying heavily? Or at all? Job ranks are precious so it’s a hard decision. Anyways, this class just doesn’t work without this so yeah, pick this up.
1-Shadowed Fire. 9/10. This thing is better than almost all Pistoleer skills – great damage and almost no stupid limitations. You can target anyone and you can shoot from 3 positions out of 4. Spies are not too survivable, though, so don’t expect heavy Spy builds to hold well on position 2. They’re more of a rearguard type of a character. Nonetheless, this skill is so good that almost every non-position 1 Pistoleer wants to be a rank 1 Spy. If only so you can focus down your foes efficiently.
8-Sneak Attack. 8/10. It’s a very nice utility to have. While losing stealth sucks and makes this skill to be more expensive than it seems to be, it’s a very heavy disable. And for you the purpose of the stealth is mostly defensive one. But if the enemy is stunned, maybe you don’t need as much defenses. And, since good pistol attacks are cheap, a highly initiatived Spy can just do several actions in a row, stunning and reapplying stealth without anyone getting the chance to strike at him. But the best part of this skill is that it just fixes the major weakness of pistols – they’re punching through heavy armor slowly so you just stun those ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s, so they’re as sluggish as your attempts to murder them are.
11-Killer’s Aim. 8/10. More initiative and a ton of Critical. With all this stuff your Shadowed Fire will have what, 75% critical bonus? That’s gonna make for some nice damage dealing.
Conclusion: while pure Spy has some amazing skills, keep in mind that this is a difficult character to play. Their skills are mostly non-combatant with no Evasion and minimal Pistol progression. Sure, skills mostly don’t matter but not to the point where you can afford not having them at all. So full Spies, despite their nature, are heavy armored characters. It wastes their +25% Dodge a bit but they’ll compensate for that with great damage dealing. And they 100% require to have an innate pistol bonus – they won’t hit much without it. Profession-wise, they need to have side levels of Pistoleer and then either Military Commander or Combat Medic – if only for the sake of accuracy. And even so they will be clumsy glass cannons. You’re taking them for their great economy, however – they’re amazing at, well, spying and smuggling. And these two often go hand in hand – you need lots of intel to get great access to each Black Market around the galaxy. If you don’t need this economical side, just stick to one rank of the job – you get amazing attack for your Pistoleers and ability to wear stealth-armor.
1-Rash Courage. 8/10. A tons of highly relevant damage and accuracy for the low initiative cost and irrelevant armor price tag. Swordsmen always play from Dodge – they’re getting tons of Evasion and Blade skill counts as both Defense and Offense in melee combat. So their armor would be crappy anyways and they just won’t care about measly 10%. It’s also the longest self-buff in the game which just increases all the efficiency.
1-Bravery Line. 10/10. The only thing that’s better than a great buff is a great buff that you receive for free. All the relevant stats being gained without any hindrances.
1-Balanced Blade. 6/10. Self-buffs unending. This one is still great, only it doesn’t provide as much goodness as the first two and Swordsman is a busy profession. So it’ll have to wait for a little.
1-Slashing Retreat. 9/10. This job just can’t get enough of this stuff. I think that this one is a bit more relevant than the other paid ones as it boosts your Dodge – something that’s very important for your continuous survival. Frontliners tend to get especially focused so they need all the extra layers of protection they’ll be able to muster.
5-Strength of Steel. 10/10. Boosts your Dodge to the level where you start to pity enemy melee fighters, protects from debuffs, negligible cost and heavy universal healing. This thing is major reason why Swordsmen don’t really want to be splicing into other classes too much. And they tend to enjoy any starting Blade skill bonuses as it just provides too much for them – attack, defense, healing.
5-Devastating Charge. 8/10. It is somewhat marred by positioning issues but, to be honest, the best way to run pure swordsmen is to be running a couple of them. Then you’re having a rock solid frontline that doesn’t really care about the incoming damage and you can always guarantee that somebody will be on the second position to be applying this one. And a great one it is – despite the 1.5x cost, the actual price is still cheap as blades are pretty fast. Best sword in the game is 7 initiative only and there’s even an option to make a pure defender/debuffer by giving him a 6 Initiative Kukri. So this is much cheaper than other heavy stuns. And the function is quite the same – neuter the weak enemy so it’s easier to focus down all the strong ones and then move into profitable stalling.
5-Flash Fury. 7/10. This one is the strongest damaging attack that a swordsman can do. And, tbh, by the standards of attack skills it’s not exactly strong. But it removes buffs which is a solid positive. Most likely, you’ll be using this for dispelling purpose alone and all your damage will come from either Assassin or Zealot skills.
8-Bladesman Rally. 2/10. The effect is not that strong, considering that Strength of Steel already negates all your morale problem. But it’s very cheap so it’s just useful to keep around as sometimes combat will demand it. It’s a luxury so it’s rated as such.
Conclusion: despite Swordsmen getting the best out of their profession at ranks 1 and 5, in most cases you’ll want to max them out. They need the addition of 5 levels of Assassin so they can have some nice attacking skills and their third profession will be a rank of Doctor. Just for the healing. Or, if you have some excellent candidate among non-combatant crew, you can just make them into such a pure fighter. One other option is to go Pistoleer – more evasion & self-buffs that way.
1-Unstoppable Force. 8/10. One of the best armor buffs in the game, the always useful morale restoration & strong debuff resistance. For its price this thing is doing more than enough.
5-Bloodletting Blow. 0/10. This is a strong enough attack skill – swords are fast so you can stack lots of bleeding in no time at all. And bleeding seems to be a bit better than poison so, depending on your stats & buffs, this may even be better than the Assassin’s stuff. The problem is that, despite some blade skills, Zealot isn’t really a blade class. So I’m not seeing what build needs this. Maybe if they add another swordsman variant…
8-Fervor. 10/10. Cheap, gives tons of initiative, restores morale, removes debuffs. So much value in such a convenient package.
11-Infliction Rage. 10/10. The ever precious Initiative. Lots of armor. Plenty of damage. One of the best self-buffs in the game. Too bad that it’s given out on such a weird non-combat platform.
Conclusion: Zealot is the strangest class of them all. He’s supposed to be a bladed combatant but he should never be used in that fashion. Swordsmen absolutely rely on the highest blade skill possible and here this stuff is tertiary. At rank 11 (you don’t want to be neither above or below that) zealot gets a whopping 4! Also, one of the stronger sides of this class is its ability to have +50% Armor buff. But Swordsmen use light armor which almost doesn’t benefit at all. So it’s easier to ignore/semi-ignore this bonus and pair it with some other stuff.
The easiest choice seems to be the combination of Pistoleer and Combat Medic. Pistoleer will provide another 25% armor buff (the more the merrier) and Combat Medic will provide even more pistol skill. So you can hit something, you know. Since the overall skill value still will be low, Zealots must have at least 5-6 points of initial pistol bonus. And the blade skill just allows you to use kukri for extra protection. Another option is to pair it with Bounty Hunter for all the Intimidate stacking. But that’s a limited build in a sense that, contacts aside, it can only be done from either your captain or starting officers. Doctor or Quartermaster would do. I guess it’s something to do if your quartermaster has too good of a stats or something.
3. Example Builds
- Swordsman 1 > Doctor 1 > Assassin 5 > Swordsman Max = secondary healer tank/DD hybrid.
- Swordsman 1 > Doctor 1 > Swordsman 5 > Doctor 11 > Zealot 11 > Swordsman 11 = healer tank with Command stacking.
- Swordsman 2 > Pistoleer 2 > Swordsman 5 > Assassin Max = economical damage dealer for smuggling squads.
- Swordsman 5 > Pistoleer 2 > Spy 1 > Swordsman Max = dodgy 2-nd position damage dealer.
- Swordsman 2 > Soldier 8 > Pistoleer 2 > Soldier Max = evasive stunner.
- Swordsman 2 > Combat Medic 5 > Doctor 2 > Combat Medic Max = healer/bomber.
- Swordsman 2 > Combat Medic 5 > Assassin 5 > Swordsman Max = tank/damage dealer.
- Swordsman 2 > Exo-Scout 8 > Bounty Hunter Max = stunner/damage dealer.
- Pistoleer 2 > Doctor 1 > Spy 1 > Pistoleer Max = evasive damage dealer / secondary healer.
- Pistoleer 2 > Spy 1 > Soldier 2 > Pistoleer Max = fully evasive damage dealer.
- Pistoleer 2 > Sniper 1 > Spy Max = economical damage dealer, 3-4 position only. Can trade sniper for doctor – less DD but some secondary healing.
- Pistoleer 2 > Spy 1 > Military Officer Max = commanding damage dealer, 3-4 position.
- Pistoleer 2 > Doctor 1 > Combat Medic max = healbot / damage dealer.
- Military Officer 1 > Doctor 1 > Combat Medic 2 > Military Officer 11 > Doctor Max = commanding healer/damage dealer for Captain or starting Doctor officer.
- Pistoleer 2 > Military Officer 11 > Zealot 11 > Military Officer Max = commanding damage dealer, starting Pistol bonus is required.
- Pistoleer 1 > Swordsman 1 > Military Officer Max = a highly initiatived 2nd position commanding damage dealer.
- Pistoleer 1 > Exo-Scout 1 > Soldier Max = rearguard damage dealer/debuffer.
- Pistoleer 1 > Doctor 1 > Soldier Max = rearguard damage dealer with heavier full auto focus.
- Soldier 1 > Pistoleer 2 > Swordsman 2 > Soldier Max = 1st position evasive damage dealer/debuffer.
- Pistoleer 1 > Doctor 1 > Exo-Scout Max = fully economical Exo. Doctor may be replaced with either Bounty Hunter, Swordsman or Sniper for more buffs.
- Soldier 1 > Bounty Hunter 8 > Zealot 11 > Bounty Hunter Max = 2nd position tank/damage dealer.
- Soldier 1 > Pistoleer 1 > Bounty Hunter 8 > Soldier Max = 2nd position dodgy damage dealer / semi-tank.
Military Officer 1 > Doctor 1 > Commander 11 > Doctor 11 > Military Officer 11 = buffs / debuffs / morale & health healing. Can also be done as Doctor Max instead of Officer 11.
4. Boarding Mini-Guide
Crew Combat is all fun and dandy but it won’t really happen unless you board enemy first. Well, there’s exploration too, but that’s about earning money – some quests just demand that you do some ship fighting.
So, we have two objectives here. We need to avoid enemy fire and to minimize the consequences of incoming hits – we don’t want pyrrhic victories with half of our crew being dead and whatnot. This means high defenses and good rating of armor & shielding.
Defenses are primarily composed at your Speed & Agility (depends on the range – 4-5 is Speed, 1-3 is Agility) and Piloting (at any range). Their full value gets added here. Then you get half value of your Electronic skills & Command. But!!!
The most important part to understand here is that each ship has its limitations in terms of effective skills. If you open Ship menu, you’ll see scales and Pilot 52/53, for example. With percentages nearby. That 53 number is not only the number of Piloting that’s required for your ship, but also a number of the maximum amount of Piloting that you’ll be able to use fully. While you can raise it up to 200%, that wording is misleading – after your maximum and up to 200%, only half of your value gets added. So 50/50 piloting at 100% is 50 Defense. 60/30 piloting at 200% is only 45 Defense.
That’s the point of stuff like “Pilot Assist Module” or “Defense Pattern Matrix”. They’re not here to replace your crew by providing you free skills (as it may seem) – they’re here so you have some space for the crew to work in. They provide it with job. So if your ship is not properly equipped, any additional crew is wasted.
These modules come in small variety only so this means that you want to be getting as much of them as possible. All or most of your other worries will have to be solved by medium and above modules – cargo, armor & shielding, officer housing, etc. Your small modules are for this stuff only. That’s the ideal, at the very least. The funny thing here is that admit it – as you first appraise the ships, you’re really paying attention to medium & large modules. Like, they’re medium and large, they’re supposed to be good! But no, it’s the amount of small ones that defines the quality of the ship.
Armor is also very important. While you do everything to avoid being hit, that still is, well, rather unavoidable. At the same time, you want to be spending the smallest amount of modules possible on armor & shielding upgrades – they’re taking precious space and they’re not too efficient. So, in addition to the number of modules, base armor & shielding play a tremendous role – they’re absolutely not easy to fix! You want the sum of them to be at least 20.
So, with this in mind, these ships seem to be more or less adequate:
Aeternum Vindex (you can have 70 basic piloting at that one).
Dart Jammer (it’s not as much of a rust bucket as it seems to be).
Bolt Raptor (the crew on this one & Vindex is low but they have Scout Bridge which is, like, +2 Small modules for the ship; that changes a lot).
Vrax Hauler (10 small components only but you’ll be able to dedicate them all to the pilot boosting).
Vengeance Class (the only exception to the armor rule – it’s somewhat survivable here, too much big & medium slots).
Sword Battlecruiser (the only capital that’s actually good).
At the same time, we’re mostly ignoring the hull value – defense just takes the priority. You can’t take much of hull damage anyways as this translates into inner damage and that’s hit points and morale lost to the crew. Once again, we’re not wanting pyrrhic victories.
Now, the problem with all this stuff is that it makes combat to be incredibly expensive. Armored barracks for the team – 200k. One of those Pilot modules? Another 100. And you’re needing like, what, 8 of them? Engine & bridge upgrades? Half a million easily. You must understand that a capable combat ship is not the initial 300-400k payment – it’s about 2 millions.
So what do we do before that? We search for Commanders & Military Officers. You see, Command skill is the big exception here – it’s not limited by the ship’s equipment. So you can have lots and lots of it. Level 13 commander is, like, 10 Command given to you. That’s +5 defense. Have six of them? Sweet, a +30 modifier. And buying 6 will cost you only about 30-40k (depending on their starting level). That’s also how bigger ships (like that Vengeance Class & Battlecruiser) compensate for their not so bigger amount of small modules. Just put that 36-42 crew size into action! But, most importantly, it’s just a cheap way to get into fighting. The only problem is, there’s no easy way of doing them – basic contacts provide neither of these. Well, finding them is a matter of time so don’t worry too much.
Now, in addition to avoiding enemy shots, you also need to get closer to them. You’ll need Navigation for this. Speed/Agility also play significant role at their appropriate ranges. Still, there are lots of Approach talents and the biggest of them guarantees that you’ll get at least some movement. Here, command helps the same way, but also the Tactics. Well, commanders have some of that too. So this part is a bit easier.
So yeah, build your ships correctly, crew them correctly and there won’t be much problem in getting to that boarding range.
What about guns, btw? Oh, you don’t need them. Literally. On bigger ships, you may afford 1 or 2 medium or big-sized ones. But nothing small! Those modules are required for much better needs – pilot boosting! You can easily gutter a ship with assault only. Also, don’t bother with gunnery – pick short-ranged guns (lances or grav-cannons) and, on that short range, piloting skill is much more important. It provides 1 attack per skill point whereas gunnery provides only a half. So with 1-2 cannons you’ll need 1-2 gunners tops. And they’re nice to have anyways if only for they swifter boarding talent. But that’s on big ones. On smaller you just charge into battle while avoiding the guns. As Obi Van have said – so uncivilized.
Boarding itself also requires a check – but it’s Pilot & Skill & Command & Tactics based. Plus Range Change bonuses from skills with apply (+15 range change is like +15 Pilot for this purpose). Now you see why we’re maxing out piloting?