Layout How to unlock
Type B Layout Get two of the three achievements for any ship.
Type C Layout Get to Sector 8 with type B of a ship with advanced edition content on.
Destroy an enemy's weapons to save your own health, then take out their shields when you are ready to defeat them. Fire at their engines to prevent them from escaping.
When you have a weapon that is unable to damage an enemy ship's hull and are safe, keep firing at it to increase your crew's experience. Disable your opponent's engines first to maximize the time you can fire at them. Enable your cloaking device when your enemy shoots, whether they can damage you or not. This will allow you to gain skill by dodging. Carefully time and cycle your shields during combat to increase experience for the crew member operating the shields. If you are attacked by an enemy that cannot penetrate your shield, do not destroy them. Remain idle to gain experience for your engine, pilot and shield crew. If you enter combat in an asteroid field, do not jump out after destroying the enemy ship. Remove your pilot to drop your evasion to 0% and allow the asteroids to hit your shield. This will increase the crew member operating the shields to gain experience.
Note: This can only be done in the unpatched version of the game. Power off the shield's subsystem then power it back up during an enemy battle. You will gain shield experience each time the shield powers on.
Keeping Ion Shields intact
When you are being attacked by an Ion weapon, drop your shields to prevent them from losing power. Hopefully the shot will hit a less essential or empty area.
Ship How to unlock
Crystal Cruiser Get the "Damaged Stasis Pod" augmentation as a reward by completing a random encounter in Pirate Sectors, Engi Sectors.
Engi Cruiser Reach Sector 5 with the Kestral.
Federation Cruiser Find a "Huge Rebel Shipyard" in a Rebel Stronghold sector, look around, then win the subsequent battle.
Lanius Cruiser Unlock four ships besides the Kestral.
Mantis Cruiser Complete a quest involving a famous thief in a Mantis Homeworld sector. Requires a Mantis crew member and a teleport.
Rock Cruiser Complete a quest in a Rock Homeworld sector where one node involves a Rock ship insulting you.
Slug Cruiser Complete a quest in a Slug Home Nebula sector. Requires level 2 sensors or a Slug crew member.
Stealth Cruiser Complete a quest involving stolen blueprints in an Engi Homeworld sector. Requires an Engi crew member.
Zoltan Cruiser In a Zoltan Homeworld sector, when approached by a ship claiming to be an unarmed peace envoy choose the "Hear them out" option.
Due to the random nature of the game, upgrades to not have to be planned in advance. Always upgrade your weapons constantly, then upgrade everything else at an even rate.