FTL Balance Mod Light by Mike Hopley

Balance Mod Light is my custom version of Twinge’s Balance Mod. It reverts some changes for an experience that is closer to Vanilla FTL. I’ve erred towards making the game harder rather than easier.

To be perfectly honest, I think Twinge’s Balance Mod may be the best version of FTL, and I’d recommend it instead of this. I’m currently playing vanilla. Make of that what you will!

Installation

Download: Balance Mod Light 1.0

This is not a standalone mod. In Slipstream Mod Manager, you need both mods enabled, and Balance Mod Light must be loaded after Twinge’s Balance Mod.

The current version is designed for Balance Mod 3.6.2, but should work fine with other versions too.

Motivation

Why Balance Mod?

What I want from Balance Mod is a more enjoyable, varied, and nuanced version of FTL.

Balance Mod makes trash items more usable, often just by reducing their cost. Importantly, this also reduces sale value.

Increased Flak 1 and Halberd rarity means they carry fewer runs. Increased hacking costs and removal of the bypass make hacking a less complete “win button”.

Balance Mod also applies polish, care, and craftsmanship. I appreciate the small details.

Why Balance Mod Light?

What I don’t want from Balance Mod are changes designed to make the game less harsh or reduce the effect of RNG. When I play a win streak, I want to feel sure I’ve earned it.

This mod was prompted by some changes in Balance Mod 3.6. When an endgame Auto-scout runs out of ammo after firing twin Letos three times, I feel there has been too much meddling.

In other words: I’m something of a purist, but I enjoy Balance Mod. This mod is my attempt at squaring that circle.

Bug fixes and graphical changes

My bug fixes are also available in a standalone mod.

Balance Mod already incorporates my Heavy Ion Stunner graphic, and my graphical fixes for the Hull Beam, Beam Drone 2, and Zoltan C’s reactor bar.

In addition, I fixed the Rebel Defector event, so you can never tell whether it’s a trap.

Changes from Balance Mod

Explanations are visible, for more context.

Unless otherwise noted, every change is a reversion to Vanilla behaviour.

Non-Vanilla changes are marked like this, to highlight my cheaty hax.

Sector 1

Auto-assaults can appear in sector 1.

It seems overkill to exclude an entire class of ships, just to help Stealth B/C.

The Rebel Shield Hack event is the same as Vanilla:

Yes, the event is utter RNG trash. But that’s part of variety and I like having a scare from time to time. Rebel Sectors on the other hand don’t need a nerf.

“Neutral” and “nothing” events returned to Vanilla distributions.

That means a slightly higher chance of encountering dead beacons. Balance Mod makes similar slight tweaks (up or down) in other sector types, to make sector selection more nuanced. Sector 1 isn’t a choice, so it doesn’t need balancing against other sectors.

Events

Zoltan Border Police are fully staffed again (+1 boarder).

Don’t mess with the border police. This is supposed to be a scary event.

The default crew kill reward set is the same as Vanilla.

It feels bad for crew kills to have a 40% chance (up from 33%) of being identical to destroying the ship. Shifting the low scrap/free crew reward into medium/high scrap means more scrap in total. These numbers are fundamental and should not be altered lightly.

Systems

Drone system cost returned to 60 (from 50).

Getting a Defence Drone for 75 feels a little too cheap. Drones are fine in Vanilla, just underrated by many expert players. It’s okay for drones to be less powerful than hacking; an important aspect of skilled play is making a “dull” or defensive choice when it’s strategically correct.

Mind control system cost returned to 75 (from 80).

Early mind control is an interesting pickup. It’s versatile but “indirect” compared to other systems and unclear how much it will help. This is another reason not to make drone control too cheap.

Hacking system cost reduced to 120 (from 130, Vanilla is 80).

It can be important to buy hacking early, especially for Stealth B. Pushing the initial price too high moves it strategically closer to cloaking, which is usually too expensive to afford in the early–mid game. This is even more relevant for some of the hardest challenge runs. Having it priced the same as shields feels about right.

Weapons

Heavy Ion Stunner charge time returned to 13 (from 12).

It can’t self-stack without a Reloader, for an authentic Engi B experience. Enemy Heavy Ion + Halberd is a much more precise dodge.

Heavy Ion Stunner stun increased to 10 seconds (from 7, Vanilla is 3).

The stun gives it more personality and clever uses. Stun is underused, and giving a strong stun to an otherwise weak weapon is interesting.

Halberd Beam charge time returned to 17 seconds (from 18).

3 power is enough to separate Halberd from Pike and Hull. Slower Halberds mostly harm enemies, not the player.

Burst Laser 3 charge time returned to 19 seconds (from 18).

Honestly, I just think it’s cool that you can cloak two unmanned volleys in a row. I’m only using this weapon when desperate anyway (or with a pre-igniter), so -1 second charge is not going to change decisions.

Hull Laser 2 speed returned to 90 (from 75).

I can time my weapons, it’s not that hard. The faster speed gives this weapon just a touch more personality.

Flak 1 radius returned to 42 (from 49).

Nerfing multiple Flak 1 setups isn’t necessary when the rarity is higher. Reduced Flak 1 accuracy makes Flak 2 less distinct. Inaccurate flak harms enemies more than the player; flak and Swarm are the only enemy weapons that can land multiple shots in the same room.

Adv. Flak radius returned to 40 (from 45), and charge time to 8 (from 9).

The changes are ineffective at nerfing Lanius B, and it’s fun to have the weapon be more distinct.

Augments

Adv. FTL Navigation and Hacking Stun reinstated.

Adv. FTL nav has occasional use for diving and a fun blue option. Hacking Stun is rarely useful but sometimes fun.

Adv. FTL Navigation and Hacking Stun cost 20 (50 and 60 in vanilla).

Make them cheap so at least you might keep a free one.

Long-Ranged Scanners cost 40 (50 in Balance Mod, 30 in Vanilla).

At 30 scrap it’s great value, but not the auto-buy people think. At 50 scrap I almost never buy it. 40 scrap means I will buy it sometimes. Note that LRS blue options are slightly weaker in Balance Mod.

Player ships

Federation C no longer has a Repair Burst.

This change makes me a little sad, but it’s necessary for the spirit of this mod. Instant system repairs in sector 1 make you a lot safer.

Federation C starts with Adv. FTL Navigation.

With Respirators selling for 10 and no Repair Burst, I need to give it some scrap (it now has 5 scrap less than Vanilla).

Engi B starts with a Lifeform Scanner and Adv. FTL Navigation.

Selling the drone stuff gets you 72 scrap in Vanilla, but only 44 in Balance Mod. -28 scrap is a severe nerf for a ship whose only saving grace is the trash it can sell. These two augments sell for 20 scrap combined, giving it 8 scrap less than Vanilla.

Lanius A starts with Hacking Stun.

This gives it 5 scrap less than in Vanilla, and a chance to discover some uses for Hacking Stun. Maybe. I remain hopeful.

Stealth B cloaking room is below sensors.

Moving the cloaking room above sensors was a pure anti-RNG change, specifically for Mini Beam and Beam Drone 2. It made the combination of repairs, <50% venting, sensor dashes, and power-stealing awkward; and also made it harder to judge whether enemy drones were targeting a critical room.

Enemy ships

Enemy ship missile stocks returned to Vanilla amounts.

Reducing the stock of missiles on several ships from 10 to 6 is a significant anti-RNG change.

Enemy ship names restored (Lanius Scout, Federation Bomber).

The name changes were a consequence of the missile stock changes. Changing “Energy” to “Zoltan” is good though, so I kept that.

Some enemies can occasionally have 5 shields.

This also means they can get 2 shields in sector 2, or 3 shields in sector 3. That’s a problem. I like the game giving me problems.

Slug Instigators can have 7 crew.

Why not? It’s more variety.

Lanius Bomber engines and cloaking increased to Vanilla strength.

Lanius Bombers are scary. I like that.

Rock Aggressors can have level 2 cloaking.

Long cloaks and missiles are rough, but that’s part of the game.

Small Zoltan ships’ hull returned to 7 (from 6).

This change seemed unnecessary. It could cause Stealth B rather silly problems, as this enemy can run at 4 hull.

Shieldless Auto-scouts/surveyors can occur at any point in the game.

While it’s reasonable to make late-game enemies slightly harder, I think it’s more fun to keep the variety.

Auto-scout/surveyor weapons max at 9 (from 8, Vanilla is 8 too).

They might not have shields, but they can sure have a lot of guns and dodge. Who doesn’t enjoy shieldless Auto-scouts with max-cloaking, 45% evasion, and bonkers weapons? Preferably in an asteroid field.

Smaller enemy ships can appear in later sectors.

Cutting out these layouts early is one way to make the late-game slightly harder, but I prefer more variety.