After Action Report: the calamitous voyage of the Vagrant Badger, in FTL

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Jump ten. I have FINALLY reached the exit to the sector. I wait for my FTL drive to spool up and dive into a Zoltan sector. I'm told the Zoltan are busy bracing the region for the coming war. I can expect to face tougher ships soon.

Jump eleven. I encounter a planet populated by "small, brightly colored, six-legged, horse-like animals". I could take them aboard the ship and sell them off to slavers, but I still feel a bit guilty about letting Andy go. I choose to "communicate peacefully." One of them responds by nudging me towards a crashed ship, where I gain some much-needed fuel, a missile, more scrap and an Engi crewmember. Yes! The Engi are cybernetic beings that are rubbish at fighting, but excellent at repairing things. Let it never be said that the tiny horse dudes of Random Backwater Planet 28A aren't a gentle and honourable folk.

Jump twelve. For the love of all things flame-retardant, I have found a shop. I blow all of my scrap on repairs and then feel sad that I'm 150 scrap short of a useful cloaking module, and 75 short of the crew teleporter. I'm not in bad shape, exactly, but I should really have more weapons, and perhaps an extra shield segment by now. If I hadn't spent 90% of my time on fire, things might be different.

Jump thirteen. Ugh, an asteroid field. Here constant pebble bombardments whittle down shields in seconds, and can take out vital systems if you suffer an unlucky hit. "A pirate ship hiding behind one of the larger asteroids attacks you!" Of course it does. I lose a few points of hull health defeating the pirate scum, and suck up more scrap from the wreckage. I'm still poor, and the game seems to be taunting me by placing two stores right next to one another. If only I could raid them. Instead, I must move on.

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Jump fourteen. I detect a lone life form in a recently attacked colony. Magma worm? No, it's a lone survivor. I invite them to join my crew, and they gladly accept. I now have a crew of five. Not bad at all. Looking back, everything seems to have gotten better since Andy left. Sorry, Andy.

Jump fifteen. A slaver ship offers me the same choice as the one I encountered in sector one. Give up my crew, or be attacked. This time I have most of my health, four missiles, and five kick-ass crew members. I obliterate their weaponry with missiles and take them down to a sliver of health. They attempt to surrender, offering me a crew member for a moment of mercy. Instead I pick the "Surrender is not an option" option, and enjoy watching the slaver ship explode.

Jumps sixteen, seventeen and eighteen. A string of similar encounters follow. A rebel fighter confronts me, dealing a little damage to my hull. They try to surrender on the verge of destruction, but I say NOT TODAY, and destroy them for the extra scrap. Next, a rebel scout attempts to flee, but I missile his engine, then his shield generator, and dispatch him with a laser volley. On the third jump, I reach the exit, and plot a course into new a new sector, also owned by the mysterious Zoltan.

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Jump nineteen. I'm desperately underpowered. The Vagrant Badger has been brawling beyond its means for the past few fights. Missiles have sustained me until now, but that surely can't continue. I need to kill as manty things as I can before the difficulty curve escapes me.

Jump twenty. My ship is swamped by ads offering fuel for missiles. I pass, and jump on.

Jump twenty-one. I find a refuelling station offering fuel for scrap. I'm running low, so I buy some up. I jump on.

Jump twenty-two. I find a Zoltan shipyard and "admire the display of hundreds of glowing Zoltan performing delicate exterior work on a massive transport ship." There's nothing else to do here. I jump on.

Jump twenty-two. "There is nothing here, save for vast swirls of gas reflecting rays from a distant sun." What is going on? I seem to have found the most peaceful sector in all of FTL. It's a sector of beautiful views and merchants, and no evil bastards at all. I need conflict . I need scrap . I need weapons and more shields and a teleporter. I curse the beautiful reflective gas-ray things. I curse them and jump on.

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Jump twenty-three. I find a secret planet in a nebula. The surface boasts a "huge monolith visible even to the naked eye." This is weird. A Zoltan elder hails. "Through luck or intent, you have discovered the Great Eye. Look into its depths and receive your just dessert". This is really weird. I pull the ship in closer and a ship approaches. "And in the coming times, when the monolith speaks not with a man he has no future and must be left wanting." I have no idea what that means, but the ship has turned hostile. I fire off a few blasts at their shields, but they're an Energy Fighter. They have two barriers and a third shield with a bar that I have to whittle down before I can attack the hull. Before I even get started they disable my shields with an Ion blast, and then hammer me with the one thing I feared most: a really massive laser.

Things are on fire again. It's been a while since things were on fire, but my crew seem to know what to do. Sam battles the flames in the cockpit. Dengler does his part in the shield room. Chris and Charlie start mending the weapons bay. My shields are down. I can't shoot. I order Sam to the back of the ship to help out, but the neck of the ship is completely ablaze, and he dies on the journey. Editor down! Chris, Dengler, Charlie and my Engi repair as fast as their tiny forms allow, but it's too late. My hull is breached and the Vagrant Badger cracks apart. The voyage is over. It occurs to me that somewhere in this godforsaken galaxy Andy Kelly is probably still alive. Perhaps he is the real winner.

Bum. That's two losses from two After Action Reports so far. Maybe I'll have more luck with FTL Advanced goes live shortly.

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Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.