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Julien's Faster than Light Blog

wal = walk percentage con = contact percentage pow = power percentage

Updated: 2016-10-20T06:55:36.590-04:00


Final Rankings


(Until changed.)

Tier 1
1. Lanius B
2. Crystal B

Tier 2
3. Mantis B
4. Kestrel B
5. Mantis C
6. Zoltan A
7. Engi A
8. Zoltan B
9. Engi C

Tier 3
10. Zoltan C
11. Slug C
12. Stealth A
13. Lanius A
14. Rock C
15. Mantis A
16. Slug A

Tier 4
17. Crystal A
18. Kestrel C
19. Kestrel A
20. Slug B
21. Federation A
22. Rock B

Tier 5
23. Federation B
24. Stealth B
25. Federation C
26. Rock A
27. Stealth C
28. Engi B

Rankings are chance to win Advanced Edition, hard.

Previous rankings.

Top 28 ships, revised


The last list was wrong. Here is the new list.1. Lanius B - It starts dominating immediately and keeps dominating until the end of the game.2. Crystal B - I accept all arguments that this one is most powerful, because they're true.3. Mantis B - 4-teleporter and Defense Drone 1. Much worse than #2, and much better than the rest.4. Mantis C - 4-teleporter and a great crew.5. Engi A - Drones, Med-bots, Engi, and the best weapon in the game.6. Kestrel B - Destroyer out of the gate, strong with any build, good crew.7. Zoltan B - Zoltan shields and 2 Ion Blasts make every build powerful.8. Slug A - Best starting weaponry hauls in cash by killing target crew without destroying ship.9. Kestrel C - Dual Lasers, Ion Stunner, and a Lanius on a Kestrel.10. Slug C -  Oxygen hack for crew death.11. Zoltan C -  Zoltan shields and drones make a strong late game.12. Zoltan A - Zoltan shields and Halberd Beam take you far.13. Stealth A - No shields, but cloaking, Long-range Scanners, and Dual Lasers are powerful. 14. Lanius A - It's good but it's tough to get going.15. Crystal A - Good crew and weapons.16. Mantis A - Good crew and teleport.17. Kestrel A - Burst Laser 2 on a Kestrel.18. Engi C - Dual Lasers, Drones, Hacking, and a Lanius. Poor synergy but powerul builds.19. Federation A - Burst Laser 2, good crew, and artillery end value.20. Rock C - Good crew. Can kill things early, but soon will need upgrades.21. Rock B - Good crew and Fire Bomb is great if you get teleport.22. Stealth B - Get the Pre-igniter.23. Federation B - Dual Lasers, a Zoltan crewmember, and Artillery Beam, but a difficult start.24. Federation C - Lots of potential but very difficult.25. Slug B - Tough start but it can be good.26. Stealth C - Drones and Long-range scanners are good, but no shields and no cloaking is bad.27. Rock A - Missiles do not combine well with missiles.28. Engi B - 1 crewmember is very bad. Still fun though because you can restart if you don't get crew.Kestrels gained a lot here, and the Federations lost a lot. Slug A also gets recognized. Basically I considered start value instead of just end combinations.[...]

Top 28 ships


1. The ShrikeWith teleport and mind control, the Lanius B Cruiser is a killer out of the gate, stealing and murdering the enemy crew. Its own crew is fantastic, with 2 Lanius and an Engi, and it even has one of the best weapons in the game, the Advanced Flak Gun. All it really needs to win is a good defense, which it will easily pick up as it lays waste to every sector in its path.2. CarnelianThis could also be number 1. The Crystal B Cruiser has a 4-crew teleporter and cloaking, and tops it off with a fantastic crew. The reason it's not the top is it has no weapons, which can be a problem at the start, but it's barely worth mentioning because weapons are so easy to get.3. The BasiliskWith a 4-crew teleporter, a boarding drone, and a defense drone, the Mantis B Cruiser is ready for domination. With no weapons and only 2 crew members, though, there area immediate problems to solve. Once it solves them it crushes.4. The TheseusNo surpise here, the 3rd 4-crew teleporter is the 4th ship overall. The crew of the Mantis C Cruiser is fantastic, with extra fun from the Crystal Lockdown Bomb and Stun Bomb. Most games will be victories.5. CerenkovSwitching gears, we have the Zoltan ships. All 3 Zoltan ships are great, because they have the incredible defense of their Zoltan shields, and the incredible power production of their Zoltan crew members. The Zoltan C Cruiser is slightly better than the other 2 because it has drones.6. NoetherThe Zoltan B Cruiser has Zoltan shields and Zoltan crew members, and is slightly better than the next Zoltan because it has 2 Ion Blasts.7. The AdjudicatorThe Zoltan A Cruiser has Zoltan shields and Zoltan crew members, and decent weapons, which it will eventually have to replace. It has level 2 doors, which are nice, as well.8. AriolimaxThis is a controversial pick, but the Slug C Cruiser has mind control and hacking, so all it needs is a teleporter to start destroying. The slug sense and the level 2 doors are nice as well. Its weapon isn't great but at least it has one.9. The FregatidaeThe Federation C Cruiser has the powerful Flak Artillery, a fantastic crew, and a teleporter, so all it needs to beat the boss is defense. Drones are a straightforward win.10. The TorusI love this ship. It doesn't seem that great, but the Combat Drone 1 and Ion Blast 2 are just enough to beat everything it comes across in the early game. Every time I play the Engi A Cruiser I win easily, it seems. The Med-bot Dispersal with Engi repair skill are great synergy, and that Ion Blast 2 is fantastic.11. NisosThe Federation B Cruiser has a great crew, the best laser weapon in the game (Dual Lasers), and the Artillery Beam as the finisher. Much like the Federation C, it only needs defense to win. It's more flexible with its builds than the C as well.12. The OspreyMuch like the Zoltans, the Federation ships have great crews and a powerful theme that makes them all effective, in this case the artillery weapon. It's a beam again this time, and it combines with a great laser, the Burst Laser 2, to slowly destroy all enemies.13. BravaisThe names are pretty good in this game. The Crystal A Cruiser is a straightforward ship with a fantastic crew and powerful weapons. The Crystal Burst 1 and Heavy Crystal 1 just wreck. That's all it's got, but it's plenty. A number of directions can win.14. DA-SR 12So much for the names. The Stealth ships have no shields, so it's dicey. But this Stealth B Cruiser has a Glaive Beam, a Zoltan, level 2 cloaking, and long-range scanners, so it's got a lot to build on. Just get those shields together. It has a Glaive Beam.15. The Gila MonsterI had this a lot lower, but it has a really great crew and a teleporter, so I had to move it up. The Mantis A Cruiser has bad weapons, so it needs a lot of work, but they're good enough to start with, and there's a lot of power here.16. TetragonDual Lasers, drones, a great crew, and hacking give the Engi C Cruiser a lot of possibility, even if it's not so strong to start with. One good anything makes it powerful[...]

Top Ten Animes


Movies and shows are mashed together.

1. Everything by Miyazaki

Miyazaki is the fucking winner here. It ain't even close. I can't believe you said that.

2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The feels. So beautiful. I cried. Legit.

3. Fist of the North Star

I fucking love that shit. I was tripping on acid though.

4. Space Battleship Yamato (original)

So good. And so many butts. Best intro ever.

5. Space Battleship Yamato (remake)

The butts get out of control here.

6. Death Note

Appeals to the 14 yo boy in you.

7. Kamisama Hajimemashita

Just found this, and I'm loving it.

8. The Legend of Korra

It's anime, fuckers. Don't be a dick.

9. World Conquest Zvezda Plot

8 yo girl tries to take over Japan. As awesome as it sounds.

10. Akira

Fuck you, it's good.

I probably missed something.

Dear Proleague:


Clocks are not bombs.



You shouldn't do the same thing every time. You should sometimes do widow mine drops. If you're Maru, you should always do widow mine drops. If you don't do widow mine drops, I recommend the following:

CC First! I'm on record as hating reapers. You should sometimes build reapers. But this is a CC First build. After your CC First you're gonna go 3 Rax. This is the Bomber build that Flash now likes.

It's up to you how you wanna deal with stalkers. I recommend scouting, and turtling on suspicion, but you could also ignore or build bunkers straight up. If you're not turtling, build a 3rd CC.

Your 3rd CC is gonna be a planetary, so take 4 gas and get an EBay, then tech up.

What is going on? Let me explain. Terran's inherent edge against Protoss is the ability to outmacro, by expanding faster and using MULEs.

In the beginning, Protoss has the macro edge, due to Chronoboost. So it's valuable to reach a state of macro advantage, and one way to do that is to build 3 CCs.

The Planetary is because all you care about is maintaining that 3rd CC. That Planetary, plus whatever Marines and Marauders you got, will hold off just about anything. In fact, I recommend building a second Ebay and researching HiSec, because it makes Planetaries twice as good! You don't need to build an Orbital because 2 MULEs is enough. You can build more Orbitals later for the Scan energy.

Then you deny their 3rd until they're dead. If you need to build a 4th base, it should also be a Planetary. Just wear them down until they're dead. Play them like Zerg plays you. And you will win.



The lowest-cost Protoss unit is 100 minerals. That's twice the cost of a Marine, and four times the cost of a Zergling, though Zerglings also cost Larvae, a resource other races don't use.

This is a fundamental flaw, which affects Protoss's entire game. It's part of the reason the Mothership Core is necessary. The Mothership Core is an unfortunate byproduct of a bad design.

The base Protoss Unit should cost no more than 75 minerals. And I think it should be a flying saucer! It would get crushed by Marines and be positionally useful in warding off Zerglings. Also it could scout.

I think the Zealot should be a late-game unit. I think they should come with Charge. I think they should be enabled by the Twilight Council or enabled by researching Charge. They should be more expensive, faster, and more damaging.

I think all Protoss buildings should be balls of energy, and thus have all of their hit points in shields. I think Photon Overcharge should be a feature of all Nexus, should cost minerals as well as energy, and should increase shield recharge rate. I think Pylons should heal (friendly) Protoss units, and I don't think Pylons should allow unit warp-ins.


I think Time Warp should be a power of High Templars, or maybe Tempests. I think recall should be a power of Carriers, and there should be no Mothership. A Protoss Mothership would cover the entire board! That's the only way Protoss makes sense.


TvZ, part 2


We've established that Reapers suck and Hellions suck. What's next?Let's talk about Zerg.Zerg is at maximum power when it gets to 3 bases. This is because bases, for Zerg, are collection facilities and production facilities. You can mine from 3 bases before supply gets you. Thus, 3 bases. Also, the more units you build, the more return you're getting on your tech building, which is a 1-time investment.MULEs do not make up for this. When Zerg maintains 3 mining bases, Zerg can out-macro Terran, and eventually win the game through superior numbers. Terran must do damage to win.You can nitpick what I'm saying, but don't: Zerg is better at macro than Terran, and unless Terran does something about it, Terran is ceding an advantage.What can you do about it? There's the Proxy 2-Rax attack, which is good and should be used, but it's beaten by pool first openings, which Zerg really should use more. Up to them.There's CC-First, which is also good, allowing a strong attack, but Zerg can scout and go 3-Hatch, and oops they have 3 bases. Also, Pool First can kill the SCV, delaying the CC.So there's gotta be something else. That something else is generally the Reaper Expand, which avoids the problems of the other 2 builds, and relies on Hellions and Reapers to balance the tempo.Right, Hellions and Reapers suck! It still should be used sometimes, as should the simple Barracks expand, but the fact remains that Terran has no good, "go-to" build against Zerg, just a bunch of stuff that's worth mixing in.Here is your go-to build. I'm gonna preface this by saying that I realize no one does this, and the fact that no one does this probably means there's a problem with it. If so, hopefully posting this will tell me what the problem is. But I also have legitimate reasons for why it's not used, which we can get into. But first, the build.What is the build? It's a 1-1-1, with drops, followed by expand. You can also allin sometimes, and should. The drops bring Marines and Hellions, and target Queens when possible, or occasionally Hatcheries, and whatever else you can get. Then you have done real damage, and can continue the game.I thought you said Hellions suck? Well, you gotta build something out of your Factories, and the drops prevent one of the main problems with Hellions, which is Zergling surrounds. You just pick em up, then drop again for more area-of-effect.I really think this build is the ticket, and should be used about 50% of the time. Zerg is bad against drops early, and killing Queens reduces both anti-air defense and production. And the other stuff Queens do. Also, if you kill a Hatchery, you pretty much win.If Zerg attacks you first, you have units. If you're in transit, things can get hairy, but you have options. Other builds should be used to keep Zerg honest, but this is the main one.Why doesn't it get used? One reason, I think, is people think Terran must macro. Terran out-macros Protoss, which gives the impression that macro builds are good. But Terran does not out-macro Zerg, so strategy vs. Zerg must be completely different from strategy vs. Protoss, unlike other races, which take the same general approach regardless of opponent.Yes, I know, mirror matches. Pipe down.The other thing, I think, is the idea that harassment is something different and special. Reapers, it is argued, can harass, giving extra value somehow. Hellion run-bys are tried, but Hellion run-bys aren't good against top opponents.Harassment is attacking, people. Attacks that do little damage have little effect. Attacks that do a lot of damage have a lot of effect. Attacks that do no damage are failures. A big attack is more likely to do damage than a little attack. So I'm going with the big attack.If anyone has experience, I'd love to see replays.[...]

Tulowitzki for Reyes


This is the right time to trade Tulo. He's got a lot of money left on a massive contract, including all of the expensive years, and he's exactly at the age where decline gets sharp. He's already showing decline in patience, contact, and power this season, and those are Colorado numbers.

In exchange the Rockies got a contract reduction named Jose Reyes. Reyes is old too, but he's not that much of a dropoff from Tulowitzki. The money saved alone is worth it.

But that's not all they got. They also got 3 prospects. Jeff Hoffman is a first-round pick who's already pitching in double-A in his first professional season. Miguel Castro is 20 years old and has already pitched in the majors, and Jesus Tinoco, also 20, is in single-A and may or may not make it.

Toronto also got LaTroy Hawkins, who has been doing the same thing for 3,000 years (pitching very well), and somehow is only making 2.25 million this season. It doesn't make up for the prospect hemorrhage.

The Blue Jays are stupid.



We're gonna talk about strategy. Like baseball, Starcraft is most interesting at the highest level, so we're gonna talk about that. Also, series are more interesting than single games, so we're talking about series. Starcraft series strategy between high-level opponents. In this case, TvZ.

The first thing I have to say is hellions suck. Actually, I was gonna say Zerg is better at macro, but listen: hellions suck. They're good against Terran, and they have uses against Protoss, but against Zerg, there is a massive value misunderstanding.

A lot of it relates to our first paragraph. Hellions are popular because they wreck less-talented players. They get in there, in the mineral line, and roast Drones for days. But we're not talking about less-talented players. We're talking about top players. And against top players, Hellions are not good. Let's examine this.

They're good against light units, and they get into mineral lines, so their strengths, it would seem, are against Zerglings and Drones. But Zerglings are so cheap that killing them essentially doesn't matter. And Zerglings with speed are faster than Hellions, so they can surround and overwhelm, reversing the Hellions' advantage. As for Drones, Zerg, due to their Special Awesome Zerg Powers, can make as many as they want at a time, assuming resources and Larvae, so killing them doesn't make much difference either. You have to kill a ton for it to matter. And we're playing top players, so you're unlikely to do that. Effectively, you're rolling the dice, with very bad odds.

What else is bad? Reapers. That's right: I said it. The most common opening, in Terran vs. Zerg, is bad. Reapers are bad across the board, and I'm gonna tell you why.

What are Reapers good for? They're good for scouting. I was excited about this when they came out. The idea of a unit that scouts is a good one, as scouting is key to the game. But Reapers are too expensive to be scouts. If you're spending that much gas, your unit better kill shit. And Reapers don't kill shit.

Sure, technically they do nonzero damage, and they wreck weak players. But we're not talking about weak players: we're talking about top players. And top players do not lose units to Reapers. So that leaves Reapers as scouts. And the problem, when you scout with a Reaper, is you also scout yourself for your opponent. They know what you did: you built a Reaper. It's too expensive for you to have done anything else.

So that's why I think Reapers are bad in all matchups. And when I see Reapers and Hellions fight Queens, I throw up a little in my mouth.



TASTELESS: I'm gonna say something that's controversial, but true.

WOLF: Lay it on me Tasteless.

TASTELESS: Starcraft is bad for you.

Number 1 Artosis Joke


Jim builds a Stargate at IEM Shenzhen.

ARTOSIS: I say Phoenix. What do you say?

APOLLO: I'm gonna flip this fan. Pink will be Oracle and Blue will be Phoenix.

APOLLO: Blue! I say Phoenix.

Jim builds a Phoenix.

APOLLO: We were right!

ARTOSIS: I guess that's your number 1 fan.

Reverse Alphabetical Analysis


I don't know Starcraft as well as I know baseball, but I do have theories. I'm a Protoss but I think mostly about Terran because it's the most interesting and best-designed. I think about Zerg too.

1. Zerg

In many ways, Zerg is the most pure design. The smoothest, most straightforward design. The most powerful macro, the best unit flexibility, and units for every purpose. The best unit is the Queen, and the best building is the Hatchery.

The Hatchery is the best building in the game.

What is Zerg's weakness? The units themselves, especially in the air. And defense, though the economy powers a lot of units to defend with.

2. Terran

Terran has the most interesting design, the most interesting strategic choices. That's what I mean by "best". So my description before was redundant.

It has the right amount of unit flexibility to make unit composition choices interesting. And it has many viable unit compositions, so matching a unit strategy to an opponent is a satisfying challenge.

It has the most interesting units, and the most interesting buildings. Because the buildings make the unit choices interesting, with the add-ons.

If I were to redesign Starcraft, I'd change Terran the least, Zerg a little more, and I would redesign Protoss from the ground up.

3. Protoss

Protoss has the best units. Those best units are all power units though so it has trouble with support, for which it ends up using Stalkers, which have low damage and low health for the cost, but have the best ability in the game when upgraded with Blink. The power units have weaknesses, but are complimented by other power units, so the general result is a ball of power units, with stalkers.

Protoss has shitty macro and shitty buildings. The macro is better than Terran at the very beginning, because of chronoboost, but this is balanced by the shittiness of the early units before they are upgraded.

Except for Force Fields, which are the most broken thing in the game.

Force Fields are no fun because they stop you from doing things. Games are fun when you can do things. Protoss is all about being no fun. But Force Fields are necessary in so many situations, to stop the enemy masses and protect fragile Protoss units.

Storm is also pretty broken.

So you've got a lot of power units with a lot of micro requirements and they're all used at the same time.

That's Protoss.

On the subject of High Templars, Feedback is pretty sweet too. It's like Terran EMP, but it also does damage. But it doesn't do area of effect. But EMP's area of effect is pretty small.

Dark Templars are pretty crappy. Terran has flying Dark Templars, and Dark Templars with range that cast spells. But Dark Templars must be used, because they're the only Protoss cloaked attack (without Mothership), and because all threats must be real.

They're pretty effective against Terran, because they force out Scans, and Scans mean fewer MULEs, and Ravens are easy for Protoss to kill. In certain situations you can maintain a steady rate of Dark Templar production, prohibiting MULEs to maintain an economic as well as material advantage, while a finishing attack is structured.

Better Choices for AL MVP than Mike Trout


1. José Altuve
2. Víctor Martínez
3. Michael Brantley
4. Adrián Beltré
5. Robinson Canó
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. José Bautista



The solution, in my opinion, is to eliminate the "error" statistic. Call them hits.

Bud Selig, Commissioner of Death


Major League Baseball is a horrible, disgusting monster that eats pitchers.

The irony is it's possible to throw without injury, with a delivery more effective than the one currently forced on young people.

It makes sense. Why would the best delivery be one that tears ligaments? It would probably be the one that builds strength.

The problem is Bud Selig.

Writers Snub Biggio to Aggrandize Themselves


If you don't wanna vote for Bonds, fine. Don't vote for Bonds. But get over yourselves.

Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Craig Biggio.

Craig Biggio came in as a catcher, and displayed an intelligent approach at the plate, an intelligent approach on the bases, and an ability to make contact. A few years later he switched to second base, and continued to improve his offensive production. He developed power, increased his volume and percentages on the basepaths, and did everything he could to get on base, as reflected in his fantastic HBP totals. He provided value in every way possible.

There are very few players who have added more wins to their team in their career than Craig Biggio. At the plate, he was patient, he got on base, and he hit for power. He was a challenge for any pitcher, and he rarely even grounded into double plays. In the field, he played catcher, middle infield, and center field. Those are the most important places to play. On the bases, he was a constant threat, and a very rare out. That is the theme that keeps coming up. He didn't make outs. Not making outs is how you win.

Second base is one of the 4 important defensive positions. If I were to choose a second baseman, I might choose Craig Biggio, and I might choose Joe Morgan. Writers have historically overlooked second-basemen, and in this case they snubbed one of the greatest.

In other news, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White, and Hank O'Day made the hall. Who the fuck are they? I don't know.

Ortiz gets 26 Million for Two Years


This is incorrect.

Chris Young, Heath Bell, Money


A's get production in center field for a year, Diamondbacks get a closer and a backup infielder, and the Miami Marlins get salary relief.

The prospect doesn't matter.

You may think Chris Young is done, but he's had bad batting average luck. Similarly, Heath Bell has had bad ERA luck, but he's not the killer he once was. Good luck the year before masked decline and got him paid.

Yordy Cabrera
Cliff Pennington

Derek Jeter ties Willie Mays


Derek Jeter has the same number of hits as Willie Mays.

Jeter said I care about winning, but this is an honor yada yada yada.

What he should have said: Willie Mays overcame cultural obstacles to make the majors, and he missed two seasons to war. If he had played those seasons, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It wouldn't be close, and Hank Aaron would have been second place when he passed Babe Ruth.

MLB won't let Nationals pay for Metro service


Solution: don't attend MLB games.

Stephen Strasburg


Congratulations to the Nationals for valuing the health of their pitcher!

There are certain irresponsible columnists who have questioned Washington's decision. In so doing, they demonstrate their support for pitcher injuries.



I have rated prospects in the past, and most of my mistakes have come from believing that players will learn patience. The key example is Alex Rios. He's got talent, but he's not the world-crusher he could have been.

Jeff Francoeur is even more extreme. Baseball is a game. Games require strategy. Strategy requires intelligence. Creativity. Trickiness. It doesn't seem like something that can be developed.

Jurickson Profar


This kid is special.

He's got every skill: patience, contact, power, fielding, and baserunning. He's gonna go far.

He's quite possibly the best 19-year-old in the majors.