How to Build an Anti-Xeno Ship
Thargoid Hunting requires specialised ship builds as Thargoids have special resistances and deal special damage types that will typically cause issues on any standard combat build. As such, we have put together the following guide to help you make the correct decisions to lead you towards building the most effective vessel for hunting down alien ships. These ship builds are designed to give you a balance of firepower and survivability, while also being forgiving enough to make a few mistakes.
Firstly, note there are two main types of Thargoid: Thargoid Scouts and Thargoid Interceptors. Since these enemies have very different mechanics and abilities, we will typically need a different type of build for each one. This guide is broken into two sections:
Thargoid Interceptor Builds
Thargoid Interceptors are very tough and powerful enemies that will require equally strong ships to be able to stand a chance in combat. Due to the incredibly high damage output of Thargoid Interceptors, there are only a handful of different styles and methods you can use effectively.
These are the most common types of builds used for Anti-Xeno Combat.
Fast Shielded Builds - Ships with high speed and small shields that regenerate quickly (Beginner)
Fast Shieldless Builds - Fast ships that use no shield and cold-mechanics to evade damage. (Advanced)
Slow Shielded Builds - Slow ships with large shields, using reboots to regenerate shields periodically (Moderate/Advanced) These include the Federal Corvette and Anaconda, which are not recommended starter ships.
The most commonly recommended and best all-round AX ship for anyone interested in killing Thargoids, the Krait Mk.II has both enough firepower to kill the tougher interceptors while also having enough shields and hull to be able to recover from a few mistakes. A direct upgrade to the python and a very capable AX vessel.
Type: Fast Shielded Build
AX Krait Mk.II Review Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isamR6yLLMQ
The Alliance Chieftain, similar to the Krait Mk.II is a very capable AX Ship. The Chieftain has slightly lower overall firepower however it is able to equip a Thermal Vent Beam laser allowing pilots to begin to learn cold orbiting techniques. The Chieftain has the added bonus of also being much more agile than the Krait Mk.II. The Alliance Challenger is comparably similar to the Chieftain.
Type: Fast Shielded Build (Shieldless for Advanced Pilots)
Recommendation: Good upgrade path for confident pilots. More potential in the long run.
AX Chieftain Review Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipyvolMlX4E
If you prefer flying large ships the Imperial Cutter is the recommended ship to go with. Out of all the large ships, the Cutter is the only one capable of effectively outrunning most Thargoid Interceptors (with the exception of the Basilisk which is faster). The Cutter can make use of Prismatic shields to have the largest possible shields in the game but this requires a particular style of combat and cannot be flown the same as a Medium ship. If you intend to use the Cutter, we recommend reading the Anti-Xeno Large Ship Guide.
Type: Fast Shielded Build (Fast in a straight line but poor turning)
Recommendation: Different fighting style and generally very capable with weaker Interceptors. Becomes much harder for tougher variants.
More ship builds…
View more ship builds by visiting our AXI Ship Build Repository, a large collection of ship builds built by experienced AXI pilots, along with full stats, ratings and build links.
Many of these builds rely on advanced techniques and mechanics which are not recommended for new AX Pilots, we suggest starting with the builds above instead.
Interceptor Ship Building Theory
Building a ship for Anti-Xeno combat is unlike a ship for any other combat in the game. There are many simple rules that no longer apply and must be avoided to prevent making the fight harder for yourself. Here we will detail some of the underlying theory that influences these ship builds.
All components of an Anti-Xeno ship should be engineered for maximum performance. Thargoids are incredibly advanced and deal far more damage than any human NPC in the game. Not only this, but they have a slew of special attacks that can devastate a ship that is not properly prepared. An effective Anti-Xeno ship should be engineered to its fullest potential to give you your best chance at victory. If you are unable to engineer everything due to constraints, the bare minimum (although not recommended) is:
Power Plant (only if needed to reach the power requirement of the build)
However we strongly suggest you aim to engineer all components of a ship for the best possible outcome.
Shield types will vary from ship to ship, the basic theory here is:
Bi-Weave Shields: Medium and Small Ships
Prismatic Shields: Large Ships
Small and Medium ships are best equipped with Bi-Weave shields as Thargoid combat is mostly based around short attack windows - Most mediums and smalls have the ability to outrun the interceptors and simply regenerate their shields when needed.
Large ships can store insane amounts of shield strength through prismatic shields - as they are mostly unable to outrun interceptors, they are better suited to larger, tankier shields. These can also be regenerated by rebooting your ship, bringing them to 50%.
It is also possible to go without shields, however we recommend you make sure you understand how Cold Orbiting works before attempting this.
Simply having a large shield is not enough in Anti-Xeno combat. Thargoid weapons deal phasing damage which means that they will deal damage directly to your hull even if your shields are active and up. Phasing damage is absolute so any caustic resistances you have will be completely ignored.
Due to the current state of Anti-Xeno weapons, the Guardian Gauss Cannon is a clear winner and the only recommended weapon for AX combat. The damage-per-second, armour penetration, hitscan, precision and range makes this a significantly superior weapon to all other Anti-Xeno weapons which currently suffer severe drawbacks that make them sub-optimal and very difficult to use.
Almost all Anti-Xeno builds will use as many Guardian Gauss Cannons as possible within the 4-weapon limit.
The recommended ships are also chosen based on their optimal convergence (Ability to have all weapons on target simultaneously).
Thargoid weapons ignore all resistances (besides caustic resistance) thus you should be aiming to have all armour and shields engineered for maximum raw hull/shield MJ.
Thargoids are fast and agile, hence top speed and maneuverability heavily influences our ship recommendations. An AX ship should be able to boost over 450m/s minimum, with any extra speed being an added bonus, ideally you will want to be able to achieve over 500m/s to be able to handle Basilisk Variant Interceptors more easily.
It is a common misconception that A-rated sensors detect Thargoid Interceptors further away, but that is not the case.
A-rated sensors provide better 'Typical Emissions Range' but identical 'Maximum Emissions Range' to all other sensors of the same size.
Thargoid Interceptors have massive signatures and are always detected at the Maximum range. This means that D-rated sensors engineered for long range are always the best option for an AX-vessel, as they provide the highest range with the lowest weight and very low power usage.
Avoid making any of these common mistakes listed here.
Some ships are commonly mistaken as good ships for a particular task, however we would rather new players avoid the time wasted working on any of these builds as they are hopelessly ineffective or require decent skill and understanding to utilise in AX combat.
Type 6,7,9,10: These ships are terrible in AX Combat, they are too slow to effectively evade attacks and have terrible convergence that makes most of their hardpoints useless.
Anaconda: The Anaconda is outperformed by both of its large counterparts in AX combat, it can only be effectively flown with special builds and a strong understanding of AX combat. Not recommended for a new AX pilot.
Imperial Clipper: All four hardpoints are too far apart for any two of them to be able to hit a Heart simultaneously.
Mamba: Hardpoints are too far apart, not very maneuverable and weak internals.
Alliance Crusader: The worst of the Alliance series, it is slow and the Chieftain and Challenger both significantly outperform it.
All small Ships: Almost all small ships are ill-equipped to be used in AX Combat. These can only be used with very good understanding of cold-orbiting techniques and are very unforgiving.
Some ships are decent and can become very effective in the right hands with plenty of experience, but we do not recommend them as starters.
Python: A straight downgrade to the Krait Mk.II in AX combat, less maneuverable and slower.
Federal Corvette: Slow and must utilise special techniques to be used effectively in AX Combat. Not recommended for a new AX pilot.
Federal Dropship, Gunship: Too slow to comfortably outrun Interceptors
Fer-de-Lance: Smaller distributor than Krait MK II, worse internals. Requires a lot of pip-management.
Federal Assault Ship: Like the FDL, can become very effective in the right hands, but there are better starter alternatives (Chieftain)
Thargoid Scout Builds
Hunting scouts is a very efficient method to increase combat rank. This is because all scouts are considered elite targets and will give the best possible experience per kill. Due to the 77% resistance to human weapons it is very inefficient to use normal weapons against them. Due to the unpredictable flight nature of scouts, we strongly recommend the use of Large Turreted Anti-Xeno Multi-Cannons as the most effective weapon for hunting scouts.
These are best suited as they are not affected by the 77% resistance, can actively stay on target with scouts and are very ammo-efficient. Keep in mind that there is a limit of 4 Weapons per vessel.
Extra Modules Suggested
Decontamination Limpet Controller (and Cargo Racks) - For when hit by caustic missiles.
Xeno Scanner (optional) - Lets you see scout health %.
Hull Reinforcements - Scouts deal phasing damage which will damage you through shields, you will require both heavy Shields AND Hull.
Ultimately, due to the simple nature of scout hunting, almost any ship can be retrofitted for the task quite easily. A simple rule of thumb is….
Lots of AX Multi-Cannons
And you’re good to go!
Can fit all 4x AX Multi-Cannons in large hardpoints
Has good angles for turreted Multi-Cannons
Can be fitted with large shields and boosters for worry-free farming
Can fit 3x AX Multi-Cannons in large hardpoints and 1x AX Multi-Cannon in a medium slot
Alternatively can fit 2x AX Multi-Cannons in large hardpoints, and 2x Guardian Gauss Cannons in the medium hardpoints (allows for Gauss aim practice and becomes more effective once the user is proficient with Gauss)
High mobility to keep targets in range or disengage.
Mobility allows for use of Bi-Weave shields, disengaging for shield regen.