Updated Title Publisher
Updated Title Publisher
Updated Title
Published Title Score Editor's Choice
Published Title Score

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader

Best Ship Upgrades Build

Matt Chard

In Rogue Trader, you’ll be battling the enemies of the Expanse on foot and in space. As you progress through the game (around Chapter 2), you’ll earn experience for your ship, which will level it up. When you get a level, you’ll get a choice of Upgrades to select at each rank, with more choices becoming available the higher your level. These choices are important, especially on the higher difficulties, as your ship can get destroyed before you even get a turn. Read on to find out what the best ship upgrades are at each rank and dominate the galaxy with your new-found power.

Ship combat is a large part of Rogue Trader, so make sure you come prepared with the best upgrades.

Best Ship Build

Your ship has 12 ranks, and they’re displayed in the Upgrade section of the Voidship Management screen as a clock, starting at 12 and working their way clockwise. Each rank will give you two options: Abilities, Flagship Developments, or a combination of both. Abilities refer to the actions that are utilized in combat by one of the posts (crew), whereas Flagship Developments provide passive bonuses and effects, although the initial one will not be available until rank 5. Here is a list of upgrades we consider the best for each rank.

Rank Upgrade 1 Upgrade 2
1 Torpedo Control Reinforce Shields
2 Warp Wave Arc Augury
3 Shallow Jump Expeditious Reload
4 Focused Efforts Corpuscarii Chant
5 !Swing Run Rugged Repair
6 Premonition Empyrean Storm
7 Silent Running II Steady Hand
8 Maximum Overdrive Shield Pulse
9 Take it All! Steady Hand II
10 Strafe New Heading
11 Vulnerability Scan Sanctified Restart
12 All Hands on Deck Improved Ram

As you can see, the ship upgrade system is displayed like a clock with twelve ranks. Each rank will give you two options to select.

All Ship Upgrade Abilities and Flagship Developments

Here you’ll find a description of what these abilities do and some analysis of them.

Flagship Common Post Abilities

Swing Run

The flagship flies in a straight line, making a full U-turn at the end of its movement. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random. Can only be used during the acceleration phase.

!Swing Run is a useful skill as it allows you to move away from enemy ships before turning around to face them at the end, setting you up for your next turn. This isn’t needed, but it is nice to have.

Torpedo Control

Gives control of the nearest torpedo salvo, granting it 5 VMP. Only works on torpedo salvos that were launched on another turn. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

This is a must-have upgrade. It allows you to take control of your torpedoes in the next turn. You’ll be using this a lot to make complete use of your torpedoes, which can destroy the smaller ships in one attack.

Reinforce Shields

A chosen sector of the flagship’s void shields is reinforced until it suffers damage. The reinforced sector has an increased chance of absorbing enemy attacks and loses only half of its strength when absorbing damage. Using this ability removes any previous reinforcement. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

Another must-have upgrade. Use this on the most damaged shield section (up, down, right, left). Alternatively, put it on a section where you think the enemy will attack.

New Heading

While moving, the flagship may make its next turn at 90 degrees instead of the usual 45. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

Allows you to move your ship in smaller increments, but you will not need this at all. If anything, this is a quality-of-life improvement that allows you to aim your weapons more easily, but you really don’t need it.

Warp Wave

Flows of the Immaterium cause an enemy ship to immediately turn 45 or 90 degrees, depending on the ship’s maneuverability. If the enemy ship has suffered hull damage, this abrupt turn additionally deals damage equal to (from 15 to 20)% of the ship’s missing hull for a 45-degree turn and deals that damage twice for a 90-degree turn. Does not affect ships larger than cruisers. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

A strong upgrade that will turn any targeted ship around, which can be useful to expose their weaker shield section. It also deals a small amount of damage to smaller ships.

Arc Augury

The flagship’s next shot gains +2 extra range. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

There’s nothing special about Arc Augury, but it will give you more range on all your weapons. This means you can attack the enemy from a safer distance.

(1 of 3) This is the range on this specific weapon.

Advanced Abilities

Focused Efforts

Allows the use of both abilities of one selected post for one turn. If one or both abilities are on cooldown, their cooldown time is reduced by -1 turn. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

Focused Efforts is a strong ability. This allows you to use both abilities that your crew has access to in the same turn. For example, you could use Warp Wave and Shallow Jump in the same turn. A must-have upgrade.

Expeditious Reload

Reloads all macro-cannons that were fired during the acceleration phase. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random. ! Can only be used during the end phase.

Another must-have ability. Expeditious Reload allows you to use your weapons in the acceleration phase, while also allowing you to use them again out of that phase. Effectively giving you four attacks in one turn.

Shield Pulse

Overloads the shields to disrupt the enemy’s defenses. If the enemy has shields, they are moved to the opposite side from where the attack hits. If the enemy has a holo-field, it loses several of its charges. The pulse can also negatively impact xenos technology. This overload expends 25% of the flagship’s shields. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

This is an average ability that would’ve been a must-have if it wasn’t for the reduction of your own shields. See, this ability is almost needed against the Drukhari ships due to all their shield abilities such as holo-field, but reducing your shield for this privilege isn’t worth it because your shields are normally the difference between a battle going your way or not.


The flagship fires up its maneuvering thrusters and slides a short distance to one side. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

Do you ever go to line up a shot and end up being one or two cells short of the enemy you’re trying to attack? Well, Strafe allows you to move a few cells horizontally on either side, thus allowing you to get that shot you might’ve missed. Once again, this is not a must-have upgrade, but it is useful.

Shallow Jump

The flagship makes a shallow warp jump in a forward direction. Range: 5 cells. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

Although not a must-have upgrade, Shallow Jump is extremely useful. Use this at the end of your turn to get away from an enemy.

Vulnerability Scan

The flagship’s augurs scan an enemy ship to highlight its weak points. All damage dealt to a weak point is increased by +30%. Only one weak point can be highlighted at a time. Cooldown: (from 1 to 3) rounds at random.

On paper, Vulnerability Scan sounds amazing, and it is…with one caveat. When you use this on an enemy, 90% of the time the weak point will be on the opposite side you want to attack, which makes it frustrating. If you plan your attacks around this ability, you may want to get it earlier than what’s in the build above.

(1 of 2) Vulnerability Scan will place a small marker on one of the enemy’s shields.

Vulnerability Scan will place a small marker on one of the enemy’s shields. (left), Strafe gives you the option to move in a horizontal line. This is useful when trying to make minor adjustments such as targeting the ship’s weak points. (right)

Ultimate Post Abilities

Boarding Party

The flagship launches a boarding party to infiltrate an enemy ship, starting internal fires and possibly causing engine damage that cripples the ship for 1 round. Can be used only once per round. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Persuasion skill.

For an “ultimate”, Boarding Party is underwhelming. It isn’t bad per se, it’s just that the other abilities are better. When it works (cripples the ship) it works well, but the damage over time effect (fire) isn’t high enough to rely on it.

All Hands on Deck

The flagship’s torpedo tubes are loaded with 3 torpedo salvos instead of 1. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Demolition skill.

In theory, this upgrade is strong as torpedoes are powerful, but this ability feels like it doesn’t work 90% of the time, leaving you with just one torpedo.

Corpuscarii Chant

At the end of each turn, the most damaged sector of the flagship’s shields restores up to 50% of its strength. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Tech-Use skill.

A must-have upgrade. Corpuscarii Chant does what it says on the tin, restores your most damaged shield by half of its strength. Considering your ship is toast if your shields go, anything that increases your shields is a must-have.

Maximum Overdrive

Until the end of combat, the flagship’s speed is increased by +2 and its maneuverability is increased by +1. The bonus damage dealt by Voidship Ram based on the distance traveled is increased by +100%. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Athletics skill.

A nice quality-of-life upgrade, mainly for the speed and maneuverability. You should never be ramming anything during a battle as it’ll damage your ship too, unless it’s the last ship of the encounter, and you have enough “health” to not die from it.

Empyrean Storm

The flagship makes 7 attacks, each of which targets a random enemy in an 8-cell range and deals (from 8 to 14) warp damage. Can be used only once per round. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Lore (Warp) skill.

This is a strong upgrade capable of dealing a lot of damage. Why isn’t it taken earlier, you ask? Well, all the damage this ability does is random over a large area, so it’s not reliable. When the RNG God is on your side, it’s great, however, when it hits each ship for about 10 damage, it isn’t.


The flagship’s augurs scan the area for favorable tactical positions. While the flagship is in such a position, its evasion is increased by +35%. Duration: +1 round for every 10 points in the post officer’s Awareness skill.

Premonition is a must-have ability because it gives you +35% evasion, making attacks against you a lot more difficult for them to hit. Any upgrade that negates damage against you is strong in Rogue Trader.

(1 of 2) Corpuscarii Chant is an ultimate post ability that will replenish your most damaged shield by 50% at the end of the turn.

Corpuscarii Chant is an ultimate post ability that will replenish your most damaged shield by 50% at the end of the turn. (left), Meanwhile, Premonition makes you harder to attack by increasing your evasion. Both of these abilities are important in staying alive. (right)

Flagship Developments

Improved Ram

Voidship Ram deals twice the additional damage for each extra tile traveled.

A good ability if you like to use Ram, but why are you using Ram? It’s not worth the damage it does to your ship, even with this passive.

Sanctified Restart

Restart Shields now inflicts only -2 speed reduction and no firing range penalty.

Useful, but not really needed. You’ll barely notice the penalties when you’re using Restart Shields, so you don’t need it. It’s still worth getting late on but make it one of the last you get.

Silent Running

When approaching an enemy, the flagship shuts down non-essential systems and starts to drift, unnoticed, past enemy ships. As a result, in most encounters, larger enemy vessels (frigates and larger) are surprised and act later.

The best Flagship Development Upgrade in the game, well, apart from its upgrade below. If you don’t get these two upgrades, you will go last in the turn order 90% of the time. With this, you will get your turn a lot quicker, meaning you won’t have to play each battle with half health.

Silent Running II

Silent Running now makes the flagship act before all enemies in most encounters.

This improves the original upgrade by making you go first in the turn order outside of specific story battles.

Take it All!

The flagship now collects +10% more scrap from destroyed ships.

A nice passive, more scrap is always nice, but 10% is a bit stingy. You will want this, but don’t make it a priority.

Rugged Repair

Repairing the voidship requires 50% less scrap.

A must-have upgrade. Repairing your ship costs a lot of scrap, which then stops you from having enough scrap to upgrade your hull and abilities. As this makes all repairs 50% cheaper, you’ll be swimming in scrap once you get this upgrade.

Steady Hand

When using post abilities, there is a 20% chance its cooldown will be 1 round shorter.

A good passive to get, your post abilities are strong, and this gives you a chance to reduce their cooldown.

Steady Hand II

When using post abilities, there is a 50% chance its cooldown will be 1 round shorter.

More of the same here, just a more respectable chance of this passive activating. You either get both of these upgrades or none.

There you have it, a build that will make the difficult space battles a lot more manageable, as well as all ship upgrades analyzed. In short, any upgrade that allows you to take fewer hits, whether that be from evading the attacks or boosting your shields to absorb more damage, is a must-have. Both the Silent Runnings will help with this due to them giving your turn sooner, thus allowing you to not start the turn at half health. Note, although this isn’t related to the build, you can get an extra ship (which acts as fodder for the enemies) by completing one of these Dargonus Projects: "Shield of the Emperor (Project)" iconShield of the Emperor (Project), and "Filth of the Expanse" iconFilth of the Expanse.

No Comments
Guide Information
  • Publisher
    Owlcat Games
  • Platforms,
    PS5, Steam, XB X|S
  • Genre
  • Guide Release
    23 November 2023
  • Last Updated
    16 June 2024
    Version History
  • Guide Author

Share this free guide:

In the grim dark future of the 41st millennium, there is only war. The Imperium of Man, ruled by God-Emperor of Mankind from atop his Golden Throne, is a vast interstellar empire with countless armies. Despite the Imperium’s apparent strength, however, its enemies are even more numerous and threats to mankind both surround the Imperium and gnaw at it from within. Where the constantly strained military might of the Imperium can’t reach, humanity must find other champions, and blessed with holy Warrants of Trade, Rogue Traders have almost unlimited authority to operate in the unconquered reaches of the galaxy beyond the Imperium’s direct influence. After unexpectedly inheriting the title of Rogue Trader von Valancius, you’ll have to secure your holdings in the Koronus Expanse, establish and develop new colonies, investigate the conspiracy that led to your ascension and fend off threats, internal and externals, humans, xenos and worse…

This guide will provide the following information:

  • Tips and info about various gameplay mechanics, including injuries and trauma, veil degradation, momentum, resolve, heroic acts, weapon types and space exploration.
  • Recruitment guides and builds for every companion in the game.
  • Walkthroughs for main quests, boss battle strategies and the effects your choices have.
  • Complete chapter overviews.
  • Best weapons lists for each chapter.
  • Guides for optional dungeons, side quests, errands and solutions to puzzles.
  • Colony guides, including colony projects and their rewards.
  • A vast database of weapons, armor, accessories, abilities, talents and more!

Get a Gamer Guides Premium account: