Ship Combat Strategies

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Ship encounters are common in Star Traders: Frontiers. Whether you are a Merchant traveling on your trade routes for profit or a Bounty Hunter searching for your target, you will encounter ships of all types from various factions, even Xeno ships. Many times you will just pass by and continue on your journey, other times you will be thrust into battle. Or maybe, that's exactly what you wanted, and lay in wait or initiate it. Good luck Captain.

This section shares some Basic Strategies (general high level ideas and templates) and some Specific Strategies (specific Talent and move combinations to achieve for victory). While fairly long for one of our wiki's pages (not the norm), it will walk you through step-by-step for the common Ship Combat scenarios.

To study the rules of ship to ship engagement, see Ship Combat.

Basic Strategies[edit | edit source]

The following strategies give basic ideas on how to approach ship combat and the types of Talents and maneuvers you might use to find success as a Captain who avoids or embraces the risk of battle. As a Captain, you will develop your own strategies, based on job skills, talents, ship type and configuration, ship weapons and more.

Tips on Avoiding Ship Combat[edit | edit source]

If you do wish to completely avoid ship combat, consider the ECCM Module. It gives you a bonus to escape, but it does weigh more than other mods, so take that into account.

There are many talents that allow you to avoid ship combat. You should be able to easily get crew members or officers with the appropriate jobs to obtain these talents.

  • Military Officer (1):  Stiff Salute (versus Military Officers and Zealots) - When encountering a Military Officer or Zealot Captain, a respectful military salute automatically ends the encounter with a Draw; Reputation penalties may still apply
  • Merchant (5):  Jettison Cargo (versus Pirates) - Dumping one randomized type of our ship's cargo into space buys time to escape a Pirate before Ship Combat starts
  • Smuggler (5):  Forged Permit (versus Military Officers) - Well-forged documents can open doors; can be used to reduce the hostility of military ships encountered in travel
  • Pirate (5):  Terrifying Extortion (versus Merchants) - Frighten non-violent merchants into turning over their cargo in return for a promise of being unharmed at cost of Reputation loss
  • Pirate (8):  Faked Signature (versus Bounty Hunters) - Confusing or forged credentials are enough to throw even the most dogged pursuer; can be used to reduce the hostility of Bounty Hunters
  • Spy (8):  Faked Signature (verses Bounty Hunters) - Confusing or forged credentials are enough to throw even the most dogged pursuer; can be used to reduce the hostility of Bounty Hunters
  • Hyperwarp Navigator (11): Skip off the Void (versus Any) - Use a short-burst of the hyperwarp drive to 'bounce' a short distance and escape ship combat. Causes 30-70% Damage to the drive, mitigated by entire crew's Navigation Skill and burns Fuel equal to a hyperwarp jump

Particularly hostile encounters (such as when you have -1000 reputation with their faction) will not be mollified by reduced hostility. However, Stiff Salute, Jettison Cargo, and Skip off the Void will still avoid combat even when your foe is extremely hostile.

Immediate Escaping[edit | edit source]

Many times (especially early game), you'll encounter larger, more powerful ships and your best strategy is to escape from the encounter. Select Escape for your Movement Order, and a Talent that will help your chances of dis-engaging in battle. Talents such as Fast Getaway (Navigator Level 1) or Sharp Steering (Pilot Level 1) have buffs for Escape to improve your chances. And by all means, use your remaining Reactor Points to inflict some damage while you (hopefully) leave the battlefield with minimal damage. (Although if you are trying to keep your reputation loss from this encounter low, you might want to consider abstaining from weapons use. Typically, not firing weapons isn't a good idea though.)

As shown below, your ship is ready to attempt escaping from the battle. Escape (Reverse Movement) is selected, Sharp Steering is the enabled Talent, and 2 torpedoes are ready to fire. If you are unsuccessful on the first attempt, repeat again on Turn 2. Keep in mind that many ship combat talents last for several turns, so you can stack them on successive turns. So utilizing Fast Getaway on top of Sharp Steering on the second turn will most likely do the trick.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent pilot sharpsteering normal.png
Sharp Steering Pilot 1 SHIP COMBAT Buffs Ship with +15 Range Change, +10 Escape for next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

Escape buffs stack with Range Change to escape combat reliably.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent nav fastgetaway normal.png
Fast Getaway Hyperwarp Navigator 1 SHIP COMBAT Rapid Navigation calculations make for a quick escape. Buffs Ship with +5% Shield, +5% Armor, +20 Escape for next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

A good second round talent if you need it. Less total escape chance but some added armor to reduce damage right before escaping.


Combat with Intent to Kill[edit | edit source]

Here is where your creativity starts. Every captain will develop their own play-style, so this is just one way to approach. In this instance, the ship is an upgraded Guardian Interceptor, with 4 Level 7 torpedoes, which use 2 Reactor Points each. We engage with another Steel Song scoundrel, and this time we are going to blast him to smithereens. Instead of using Reactor Points on movement, we are going to spend all of them on the Long Range weapons equipped on the ship.

Turn 1: We prepare to launch all 4 torpedoes, and use Vigilant Scanners Talent. Yep, see that 3 week cooldown? Not a bad idea to have 2 or 3 of these talents in your holster if you are in hostile territory.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent elo vigilantscanners normal.png
Vigilant Scanners Electronics Tech 8 SHIP COMBAT Buffs Ship with +25% Accuracy, +25% Defense for next 2 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

More accuracy, more defense. Great first move.


Turn 2: We will use all the torpedoes again, and add Coordinated Fire talent. Note that the Vigilant Scanners talent is still active, so the talents are stacking.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent commander coordinatedfire normal.png
Coordinated Fire Commander 11 SHIP COMBAT Buffs Ship with +10% to Hit Craft, +35% Dmg, +25% Critical for next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

Adds more damage, greater chance for critical damage.


Turn 3: Next, we fire all 4 torps again, and add the Bombardment Talent, which is a de-buff to the enemy if we are successful.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent gunner bombardment normal.png
Bombardment Gunner 1 SHIP COMBAT Under continual attack an enemy ship struggles to return fire. If any ship weapons hit, this Crippling Attack causes -15% Accuracy, -10% to Hit Craft, -10% Dmg, -5% Armor for the next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

If we hit their weapons with any one of our 4 torpedo volleys, their accuracy, potential to return damage to us, and their armor reduces. Awesome. Check out how we are weakening their hull.


Turn 4: Fire all Torps, and add the Firing Orders talent.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent gunner firinglock normal.png
Firing Orders Gunner 11 SHIP COMBAT Buffs Ship with +35% Accuracy, +35% Dmg for next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

More Accuracy, more damage. Steel Song Toast. Grab the marshmallows.


Their hull ruptures, and all that is left is floating debris. Be sure to check the Talents section (Ship Combat talents have a small space craft in the upper left corner of the icon. Ship Combat talents vary from boosting shields, increasing accuracy and damage, to de-buffing your enemy's ability to escape. Get creative and stack those talents!


Combat with Intent to Board[edit | edit source]

If you have a strong combat team, boarding an enemy vessel can be a successful strategy for disabling their ship.

Certain missions will require that a person or cargo be captured from a vessel, so boarding an enemy ship (vs. destroying the ship) will be critical to mission success. While you can disable a ship by using ship weapons to complete the mission (knocking out their engines, for example), there is risk that you puncture their hull, or kill the target you intended to capture, so you'll want to consider boarding as your preferred solution. In our example, we will show you the basics, then put your creativity and game experience caps on and have fun learning new ways to board enemies.

We have come upon an independent Pirate, and we decide that we are going to board the vessel. We still have our Guardian Interceptor from the above example, with all long range weapons, so once we are Range 3 or closer, we will be unable to shoot the enemy vessel. Certainly not the ideal ship configuration, but we have some talents up our sleeve, and decide it's worth the chance (note that the Pirate is Level 9 vs our Level 22 Captain in the image below). Even with the odds in our favor, a lucky shot could end our amazing adventure. Damn the Torpedoes!

Turn 1: We use the Move Order to Advance, prepare to launch 2 torpedoes (which will use all 8 of our Reactor Points), and use the Twitch Surge talent.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent pilot twitchsurge normal.png
Twitch Surge Pilot 5 SHIP COMBAT Guarantees successful movement to closer range; 10% + Quickness chance to advance 2 positions 3 weeks Cooldown

Twitch Surge will ensure that we move forward 1 or 2 ranges closer to the enemy. Let's take our chances.


Turn 2: We were only able to move to Range 4, but let's keep moving forward. We'll use our Move Order to Advance, keep using the remaining Reactor Points on torpedoes, and use our Perfect Approach talent.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

This talent will give us more shields and add to our range change dice rolls for 2 turns. Twitch Surge already guaranteed that we reached Range 4 and now our Range Change bonus will help us maintain it (by defeating enemy attempts to change range) as well as help enable us to keep advancing successfully.


Turn 3: We made it to Range 3. Do you remember how this ship is only equipped with long-range weapons? They only work in Ranges 4 and 5, so we are now weaponless (gulp!). On the other hand, one goal we have is to NOT destroy the vessel, hence we are going through the actions to board. Our hull is still untouched, so let's try and boost our shields and close in to board. We'll use our Move Order to Advance again, and use our Boosted Shields talent.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent elo boostedshields normal.png
Boosted Shields Electronics Tech 11 SHIP COMBAT Buffs Ship with +10% Shield, +50 Radiation Resist, +50 Void Resist for next 3 Turns 3 weeks Cooldown

Boosted Shields will increase our shield power, and also Radiation and Void resist buffs to protect our ship from various weapons. See Ship Damage Types for more detailed information on these.


Turn 4: We are now at Range 2. We'll again use 2 Reactor Points on our Move Order to Advance. Again, our weapons can't be fired from this range. But we have a great Talent that will allow us to attempt to board from Range 3 or closer, called Boarding Assault.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent gunner boardingassault normal.png
Boarding Assault Gunner 1 SHIP COMBAT In Ship Combat, allows a boarding attempt from range 3 or below as gunners give heavy covering fire to assault shuttle 6 weeks Cooldown

Since we are at Range 2, with a little bit of luck, we'll be able to board the enemy vessel after this turn.


Success! We've made it on board the ship. This screen should look familiar; it's a crew combat screen. So yes, we are going to select 4 of our crew to go into crew combat. See Crew Combat for more details on how to fight and defeat the enemy.


Once we've defeated the enemy, you will be presented with a Ship Battle Resolution Screen (in this case, Victory Screen), and available options. Take a look at the pic below, and we'll go through the decisions to make.


So defeating the enemy crew allows us to take some actions (and could be different, depending on your scenario). In this case, we could Sabotage a section of the ship, such as damaging the weapons. Decimate is another option, where we might be able to put the crew into a panic. You'll be able to explore the various options once you reach this point such as:

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent boarding cm biobomb normal.png
Bio-Agent Bomb Combat Medic 5 BOARDING After a successful Boarding, release deadly bio-agents into the enemy ship's ventilation; +10 Morale Dmg/Turn, +25 Crew Dmg/Turn for next 4 Turns 9 weeks Cooldown

Talent boarding mech wrench normal.png
Thrown Wrench Mechanic 5 BOARDING After a successful Boarding, sabotage sets off a chain reaction of damage and death, causing Repair Skill damage to 1 component; -2 Reactor Pts, +35 Component Dmg/Turn, +10 Crew Dmg/Turn for next 4 Turns 9 weeks Cooldown

After each successful boarding, you may choose a total of 2 boarding actions. These actions include:

  • Depart. You may always choose to leave this screen without doing any further harm. This returns to the ship combat main screen, ends the current ship combat turn, and begins the next turn.
  • Sabotage 1 component. 1 enemy component is randomly chosen each time you board.
    • It may be undamaged (0%), still working (< 60%), disabled (exactly 60% or more), or completely damaged (100%).
    • Your sabotage will instantly apply a random amount of additional damage, as stated in this option's text. If this damage brings the component to 60% or more damage, the component is disabled until it is repaired.
    • Your boarding die roll determines the significance of this component.[1] In the best case, you may sabotage the enemy ship's Engine, which gives you the chance of an instant win by engine failure. (Or, you may have attacked the enemy Bridge, which forces the enemy Captain to fight in crew combat, in which case you just killed him or her to get to this screen, and you have already won the ship combat by (near-)fatal wound. Further damage only lowers the ship's salvage or ransom value, so you could Depart with no other action.)
  • Panic Enemy Crew. This applies the Crippling Dread debuff for 5 turns (including this turn).
    • It has a random chance to also apply a bonus debuff of Engine Failure for 4 turns (including this turn).
    • Note that these debuffs do not apply to this turn's boarding/range change/escape die rolls, since those die rolls have already been made before you fought this boarding crew combat.
  • Any Boarding or Crew Combat Victory talents. You may choose any of your Boarding talents from some or all of your crew. You may choose talents from:
    • Surviving members of your 4-person boarding assault team, always (from range 1 to range 5). Note that a Wing Commando pilot of a small craft assault shuttle is automatically part of your boarding team, so she is already covered by this part of the rule.
    • Members of your entire crew, even if they didn't participate in boarding, iff:
      • you board from range 1 (including via a small craft assault shuttle), and the enemy failed to retreat to range 2; or
      • you board from range 2, and you successfully closed range from range 2 to range 1 this turn
    • Crew combat Victory talents are also eligible post-boarding, as if they were Boarding talents. Currently, only 1 such talent exists:
      • Xeno Hunter T5 Macabre Harvest, after successfully boarding a xeno ship, or being boarded by a xeno ship(!), and winning the crew combat vs. xeno. Your ship must have sufficient unused Cargo capacity to hold your harvested goods, or this option disables itself when selected (which does not consume your Macabre Harvest talent).

Ultimately, we will select Depart, and return to our ship.


Ok, we are back on board, but not necessarily out of danger. Are your mission objectives accomplished? In this case, their ship is still functioning. Perhaps your Sabotage of the engines was unsuccessful, and all you have accomplished to this point was defeating 4 of their crew in combat. So you could attempt to board again, knowing that you'll have to fight another set of their crew. You could re-engage in ship battle, picking up where you left off. Or perhaps you've had enough for this day, and retreat from the battlefield. How would you choose? The choice is yours Captain.

For a Captain and crew that are built for boarding, it is important to have enough fighting men and women among your own crew to be able to successfully board the enemy multiple times. If you have only 4 fighting crew, they may suffer such injuries during ship combat and during your first boarding attempt that they become a liability to attempt to use in a repeat boarding. Therefore, having a secondary line of boarders -- perhaps 8 in total -- will ensure that you can board and board again. In this way, you can cut down the enemy ship's defensive fighters and then in your second boarding attempting hopefully reach their ship operations crew -- Pilots, Electronics Techs and more. By wiping out the enemy's ship operations crew you can defeat their ship in battle without needing to result to firing massively damaging ship weaponry, killing your targets or risking the precious cargo you are hoping to loot.

Specific Combat Strategies[edit | edit source]

The following specific strategies detail exact combinations of Talents, weapons, and maneuvers that Captains have used and found to be successful in ship to ship combat.

Skip Off the Void (Talent)[edit | edit source]

Not a combat strategy per se, but there is an advanced talent that helps you avoid combat altogether. While most ship encounters give you choices to engage or avoid facing each other in battle, a hostile vessel may be looking for a fight. As a captain, you may choose to order your navigator to mis-use the hyperwarp drive and give it a short burst, which will very quickly move you away from the other vessel, leaving them scratching their head and wondering where you went. Neat trick, but it damages your warp engines. A few uses and you won't be able to jump through the hypergate systems without significant repairs first, but it can save your crews' lives if you stumble into a Xeno Battle Cruiser and aren't prepared. Be sure your Senior Navigators are trained in this Level 11 talent.

Icon Name Job Required Rank Type Description Cooldown

Talent nav skipvoid normal.png
Skip Off the Void Hyperwarp Navigator 11 ENCOUNTER Uses a short-burst of the hyperwarp drive to 'bounce' a short distance and escape ship combat. Causes 30-60% Damage to the drive, mitigated by Navigation Skill and requires Fuel equal to a hyperwarp jump 9 weeks Cooldown

This Captain traveled through a Javat-controlled sector where he is a known criminal (-69 reputation). A Javat Smuggler passes nearby and is savoring the reputation boost he would get if he delivers justice to our small craft. His increased hostility is noticeable by his actions, and aggressively approaches our ship. Completely overpowered and no time for bribes, pleasantries or negotiation, we are faced with a dilema (Ship Combat Preamble Screen):


Fortunately, two of our Navigators are trained in the Warp Engine hack, and the Captain gives the order to escape using the Talent. Surely the Captain will need to land on a friendly landing zone soon for much needed repairs, but at least they will survive the encounter.

Boarding Strategies[edit | edit source]

One of the challenges with boarding is avoiding incoming fire while you close to range 3 to board. A simple, yet effective way to protect your ship while closing range is to use defensive talents.

Round one: We have engaged a hostile ship. Our orders for the first round will be to actives evasive maneuvers, move forward and spend the rest of our reactor points on torpedos.

Round 1.jpg


Round 2: We have avoided some of the incoming fire. To make our ship dodge the next volley we will want to apply some additional defense (dodge). The best talent for this is the pirate "Barell Roll". If we do not have that avaliable, we can just use another evasive manuvers to bring our ship up to 50 defense (dodge).


We are now able to dodge all incoming fire while our 2 defensive talents are up. Next round we can begin boarding and spending all our reactor points on weapon fire.

Related[edit | edit source]

Ship Combat