Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Brief thoughts at the eve of launch

After a long weekend away and at the eve of the launch day of Elite: Dangerouy, I do not have much time to contemplate about the game. I think I feel comfortable to let other players swoop around in the initial frantic land grabbing phase, where most players just think and stress about levelling up. Indeed, since gamma was launched, an IMO unhealthy amount of thoughts and discussions were just about that: game balance, equal credit earning for each possible activity, ships you want to level up to. And you know what; I was also indulging thoughts about this.

However, I also believe Elite is like a good wine. You enjoy each little sip, even if you are just sitting in a Sidewinder. So, I am not annoyed that my time is too scarce to do so right now. Instead I am looking forward to the moment when I can take my time to take a sip in all comfort.

My brief breaks in the evenings, I try to spend it in the multiplayer part of Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI) *cough* beta *cough*,which is almost as worse in terms of internet connectivity as Elite was in its deepest beta phase. So I sometimes just browse some videos either about Elite or DAI.
Judging from some videos, Bioware again nailed the character aspects of all the people you are going to encounter in its huge single player world. It is a pity that I find the plot a bit lackluster, though. In my old pen&paper RPG days, I preferred, as so many, the "chaotic good" alignment. Meaning, leading the Inquisition in Dragon Age, bearing the burden of law and order and managing a huge team of specialist is not a so much entertaining prospect for me. I got enough of this in real life.
Also, the romance options for a male protagonist never hook me since Baldur´s Gate has passed. The options for female protagonists always seem to be a bit more interesting, but I find it hard to get myself into female characters anymore. Must be because I am married nowadays.
There also seems to be a nice underlying elven centered backstory going on. At least one good reason to looking forward to playing this, one day, then.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Gamma 2.0

Yiphiehjay! Gamma 2.0 is out. And a new trailer with some incredible (literally...) fights. I wonder if some day, with the Oculus Rift, I will be able to maneuver in dogfights like this. At the Premiere Even, when I could test it, I had the distinct impression that so much more was possible when piloting with the Oculus Rift; almost like some extra senses of directions and control in my brain where suddenly put online.

While I am waiting for the slow download, first screenshots of the new ships pops up in the forum. The Adder seems to be a slightly bigger hauler, costing 87808 Credits:
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However, the Lakon Type 7, well, I think I am instantly in love; this ship looks so awesome! A pity it is so expensive, 17,5 million Credits!

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Another caveat, which is soon mentioned in the forum, is that this ship is too big to dock with an outpost. This basically means that my in-system trade route in Yakabugai has already maxed out its potential with my Type 6 (and its 102 tons max cargo capacity), and I would need to find a similar good one between two large stations in order to make use of the Type 7 (supposedly 230 tons max cargo capacity).

Unfortunately, loading the gamma2.0 client takes very long, so this evening I am cut short.
I am still at Boltzman Gateway, LTT 7548. The shipyard offers also an Adder, but not the Type 7. I also encounter the bug I read about in the forum; the Adder is gone from the menu when I look there a second time.

I take the Adder on a quicky test parcour, over to the other station which has a commodity market. This already takes a while, some 2000 ls to cross. It looks and feels and basically is a slightly upgraded hauler. Which is a bit disappointing. I think there are plenty of holes between the 130.000 Credit Cobra and the 1.000.000 Credit Type 6 and the 6.000.000 Credit Asp and the 23.000.000 Credit Clipper/Droppship. But not beween the price range of just 30.000 to 130.000 Credits. Also, the cockpit view is rather limited, same as the hauler, even though this one here is a two-seated version. Verdict: Useless ship. Sad. Maybe again worth looking at some point later when multi-crew ships are going to be introduced to the game?

My short flight is met by weirdness. First, I am attacked by Federal Fighters when I leave the dock. Why? Then I am interdicted and do not manage to evade; a system security Viper is red, scans me but does not attack but tells me to proceed. So, what now? Am I an enemy to the Federals or not? I guess I will have to wait some time to get this sorted out. Either bugs or some special meaning from actions in my past which I did not understand the consequences of. If the situation worsens, I will have to withdraw to Alliance or Empire space. And just come into Federal space for some vicious bounty hunting trips...

Despite those irritations and being underwhelmed of the Adder, I like the changes of Gamma2.0. Routefinder, a little display for the frameshift cooldown time, some more mission types and a better reputation overview layout/design. Keep it coming!

That´s already it for tonight.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Simple life of a freelancer

Frontier has now confirmed that there won´t be a wipe of your achievements anymore. Space life can now really start, I guess!

Serebrov Station, Yakabugai system. I already have a name here with some independend trading, mainly with metals and industrial stuff like superconductors. Right now, the bulletin board offers some supply contracts about food stuff, outsourced from some local authorities, which I do not bother about. I just know where I can get that stuff from and that´s why I am their man of the hour and that´s a good start as any. No sense to sit in a station bar being undecided of all the options on what to do.

As my Lakon Type 6 leaves the parking site, I curse my mindless eagerness. I could have speculated a bit with bringing some commodities for sale to Ackerman Market. But like this, the thing is pretty straightforward; load some grain, some coffee, some fish in Ackerman Market, and for synergies, accept some hauling contracts to Levi-Montalcini City in Yakabugai.

Back in Yakabugai, I am interdicted but I am sure that pilot does not know what he is himself getting into. I have a pair of brand new burst lasers installed, and, man, I know how to use them. The novice Cobra popping in behind me desperately circles but never gets to shoot at me; it is over rather quickly. Datalinks acknowlede a voucher of 6840 CR (I wonder how this slug of a pilot ever accumulated this sum).

I dock in Serebrov again, have to realize that the contracts´ small print determinded Levi-Montalcini City as place of delivery, so relaunch and head there. I heeded my lesson and filled my remaining cargo hold with superconductors. Unfortunately, the stocks over there are rating them tonight as medium demand, so my profits are only half of what they could be. My next routine trade route to Aristotle Gateway fares a bit better; I load from a high supply of Gallium, which sells at high demand over there. I throw in a retour with a load with high supply stocks of tantalum, but this again is rated only medium demand.

Having spent a while around, I have already gained some reputation, which has been officially acknowledged by the Pilots´ Federation as a "Merchant". The local authorities also seem to start to take note of my butt. Yakabugai Exchange is the faction which operates Levi-Montalcini City, and datalinks have just updated my rating with them as "friendly". Well, thank you! My counterpart partners at Aristotle Gateway are from the Allied Yakabugai Liberty Party, and they are still more catious with me, leaving my rating at "neutral".

I start noting a particularity about the contracts as offered on the various bulletin boards. Yakabugai Exchange maintains an official allied status with the Federation. They want food, and, worse, it seems as a charity. At least, it is frequently requested on the bulletin board. The Allied Yakabugai Liberty Party in Aristotle Gateway, on the other hand, seem to be up to something. They want weapons and stuff, and they say they pay nicely for it. Right now, I do not feel ready to step on anybodies´ toes, I mean more than I already did from a more "lively" past, involving some misplaced commodities and some misunderstandings of their origins. I always assumed, spoils to the victor when I disposed of some targets with a bounty on their ass.

Right now, and after some more trade runs and some unfortunate interdictors being greeted by burst lasers, (which makes me overall 1,7 million Credits rich), I think it is time to sniff around a bit more about the political power games in this part of the galaxy.

For example, I wonder, where could I make a business of those perma high supply stocks of computer components? Conversely, this systems seems to be a bit short on some high tech, like progenitor cells or semi-conductors. A high tech system with 19 mio population is 15,74 ly out there, LTT 7548. There might be some profit! But in order to reach this systems, I need a better frameshift drive. Mine makes only 12,65 (8,55 ly fully laden). I know from tech specs, the class A4 FSD would make 27,25 (18,41 ly fully laden), with a luxury price tag of 1,6 million Credits attached to it. This would leave me a bit too cash starved, since I still need some capital from my current 1,7 million of cash in order to actually buy commodities.

A Class B4 drive would be considerably cheaper, but only achieve 22,11 (15,07 ly fully laden). So, I go for the B4 one. I also know the neighbouring system, Eravate, rather well, and I know that Russel Ring has a trader who offers some. I again fly with an empty cargo hold and curse myself for not being a bit more present on the market. Every flight with an empty cargo hold is a lost opportunity.

The B4 drive has just enough juice to propel an empty Type 6 over to LTT 7548. There are three stations in this system and Boltzman Gateway is the closest with 1000 ls out. Not too convenient; time is cash and open long distances make you easy prey for the wolves out there. As it had to happen, a wolf which actually is an Eagle wants some spoils. My burst lasers tell him, no, and the Eagle dissipates, leaving his bounty voucher with me.

Boltzman Gateway´s shipyard has a rich prodict line. It has an Orca (48 mio), a Python (57 mio), a Dropship... all Fed ships (which exempts the Imperial Clipper, of course). Good to know! Some day, I will own you all! The commodity marked here is a bit diluted, though. Some high supplies which could be of interest (i.e. those whith a potential high profit span), but no real corresponding high demand. I think I should extend my datalink collection to the two other stations in LTT 7548.

But not tonight anymore. Logging out for some healthy sleep.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A brief visit to the Empire

Levi-Montalcini City, Yakabugai system. My rank seems to have advanced during my last session; I am now "Merchant". But tonight, I want to put my hauling on hold. Actionnnn!

Initially, I want to buy a Viper, but it is not available here, so I go for the Eagle. As outfits, almost all components are here in "B" quality, plus an A3 shield! For weapons, I stick to my earned two loaned pulse lasers and the gimballed multicannon on top.

Launch, supercruise, aaand a first interdiction which I eagerly anticipate. Dropping out, deploying weapons, life support goes offline, along with thrusters and most other modules. WTF, I have a class B2 power plant! Yes, says my brain, but you also stuffed an probably powerhungry A3 shield and all those B want a sip of it, too... You really should have payed attention to the power readings in the outfitting screen, right, Mr. Noob?!

The Clipper destroys me moments after I figured out how to shut off enough modules. I even had to shut down a weapon to get me back online. As I then try to circle the Clipper, I am already at 30% hull and the Clipper immediately shows some advanced maneuvers, by entirely going into reverse thrust and firing away at me. I am baffled how fast those ships can sometimes flip around and kick into full reverse trust and how long it takes even with boost to pass them then. Anyways, with the first maneuver like this, the Clipper blasts my Eagle down to 7% hull integrity, then my boost carries me far away behind him, the Clipper must have thrusted forward again, then it flips and goes into reverse again, and before I even have a chance to get close or out of his firing position, my ship is done for.

I am very annoyed about my blunder with the power settings because, started on equal level, the Clipper would have provided for a really challenging fight, and I like challenges.

Next try. But interdictions are slow to come, and no Clipper. I also realize that I hesitate to go on bounty hunting, because I am still not sure about the reputation losses. I am still hostile with the Federation because I shot down "wanted" Federation ships. Probably a bug and of which I do not know if it has been fixed by now.

Instead, I decide to make use of my class B3 jump range of 14,42 / 13,82 ly and go to finally drop off my dusty old staple of Empire bounty vouchers in Liadin. This is a system which belongs to the Empire, with an extraction economy, set alone in the mid of Federation space. I wasn´t able to go there before, because some jumps to get there were out of scope for the starter frameshift drives.

On my second jump, my Eagle´s fuel tank is already half empty: Thankfully, the current system, LP 751-1, has stations, so I stop at Lamarr Ring to fuel up (my Eagle, being a small combat ship, has only room for an interdictor instead of a fuel scoop, and not even a d-scanner). There is also a black market. Commodities show that it is an agricultural system, with a high supply of all kinds of food and drink stuff, but a corresponding good "high demand" is entirely missing. So this station is useless for high profit trading.

Next stop: Chowei system, which has two brown dwarves next to the primary yellow star. Then another system which I do not bother about, then I am finally arriving at Liadin. There are three stations here, and I go for the closest, Kohl Terminal. The different welcome sound of the station menu and the logo make clear, this is Empire space. Security ships are called "Internal security", which gives me already the feeling of being host in a more opressive country. Roughly 20k CR of bounty vouchers  I can now finally cash in. The commodity market shows only a low supply/demand structure. I also buy all cartographic data in order to get a bit more aquainted with the galaxy, without having to have a d-scanner on board. I should do this more consistently in every system I pass by!

As I launch for checking out the other two stations, a Cobra of a CMDR zips by, and he hails me via voice comms. He is working on raising his reputation and we agree to meet at the sun´s nav point. I again forget that communication is cut as soon as I leave this instance, and I cannot see his ship in supercruise, so I hope that we are actually going to be rejoined at some point; I even forgot to write down his name!

As I enter supercruise, the hooting hailing sound from voice comm persists. I just can get rid of it by relaunching the game. After that, I travel towards the main star, but I do not see any nav point there. Weird. Some unidentified signals distract me. In the first, two "wanted" ships cruise about. I quickly destroy one, and as I make way for the other one, the security ships turn red on my scanner. I did not get where that came from, but I take my cue and frameshift away.

Another unidentified signal has a "wanted" Cobra, rated "dangerous". Could be a challenge! For a long time, the fight is just about circling and whittling it down. Then suddenly it happens, some kind of advanced maneuver with reverse thrust, and I get my ass handet to me. 7% hull seems to be the magic number for me, because this is again what is left after two such maneuvers from the opponent. I have no idea how to counter this. The opponent seems to turn on the spot while at the same time, I am not able to get any closer to him without a healthy boost (which usually also immedeately carries me well beyond close range), dodging fire seems also impossible even when applying maximum vertical thrust while shifting position to the opponents horizontal axis. Either I do not get something here or the maneuver is bugged. It sure feels like teleporting for me: For most times no problems to stick to him, and suddenly nothing is possible.

After this incident, I continue my plan to check for the two other stations in this system. Both have no sufficient demand/suppy structure, and most contracts from the bulletin board are off limits for my Eagle with only 2ton cargo capacity (I did not find yet a 4ton upgrade). Do I want now to raise my reputation with the Empire? If yes, how, if I cannot do most contracts for this purpose? Not sure what to do. The Eagle seems to be entirely unsuited for this plan. Not sure if catching "wanted" target would raise reputation; it should, but nothing is clear.

Out of curiousity; I check the close by Federal industrial hihg population system. Indeed, it is large, at least seven stations, a mix of agricultural and industrial dominated stations. I could probably try to look for a good trade route there, but no agricultural product comes close the the possible high profits of metals and minerals. My trade route in Yakubai remains unbeaten.

In the end, the best thing I can do is travel back to Yakubai, and either continue my grind there until I have an Asp. An Asp would allow me to both trade and fight, like a Cobra, but with a cargo capacity greater than a Type 6 and a total of six weapon mounts. After the Asp, there is a big "hole" concerning the next best ship; the Clipper at 21 million Credits seems to be the next big leap.

An unidentified signal close to the star of one of the many systems on my way back lures me in. It has only clean ships, no, wait, a "wanted" Orca at 5km out. This is something rare; passenger ships are usually not piloted by criminals. I make way towards it, but it is heading away from me and before I come within range, it jumps out. Before I can approach another "wanted" target, suddenly three red blips appear; Federation Fighters. They appear, as in, not turning from yellow to red. And there is some rather hostile sounding comm chatter. Don´t know if it is me or why I deserve this attention, as something like this did not happen yet. Since it is late and I do not want to antagonize Federation forces any further, I jump out.

Back in Yakubai, I do two more trade runs, but have to realize that the demand of tantalum has considerably lessened. I also spot a lot of CMDR ships, most of them haulers. Seems like more players learned to appreciate this system (or I have more readers of my blog than I believe...).

Leaving this session, I am a bit unsure about my course of action. Clearly, I should have a goal, which also gives enough room for emerging gameplay, like that exciting encounter with a Clipper which blew my canopy. I wish the game was a bit easier and more frequent on those assassination missions, or some escort missions; maybe I should start looking for conflict zones? Concerning the latter, I assume that the launch will kickstart lots of conflict zones, with the Empire background story emerging. Until then, I better get some more cash and have a good ship ready.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A trade route along 343 lightseconds

Serebrov Station, Yakabugai. I thought about a plan for today, but i fear that the trade route will drop low after some time and I better work it while it is still profitable. How right I am. My profit for superconductors is down to 82.300 CR, from ~120k CR. Zut alors. Oh well, tantalum is still in high supply/demand, so I guess it is worth trading a little bit more, even if profits have lessened by ~40k CR.

I guess there are some little green men which scan player behaviour and just throttle a trade route down over night once a player worked on it. Joke aside, I know it is supposed to be a "living" economy, however, the game mechanic effect is, that you have to better play one horridly long game session in order to really (ab)use a trading route which you spent already time on finding. Short sessions will be wasted by looking for trade routes, and once you come back next session, that work was almost in vain. I would therefore prefer either a less fast decline in supply/demand, or better even, a faster way to find a trade route. Slopey´s best price calculator with its automatic load of commodity data helped me a lot in beta1 to cut down chores by providing relief me from taking handwritten notes so that I could focus on zipping around. I still do not get over the fact that Frontier blocked that tool.

My piloting is sloppy today; I did not sleep well and am unconcentrated. I fear grinding more of this route will make me fall asleep. I would be happy for some team work, even if rudimentary. Consequently, a little show off when approaching Serebrov Station goes wrong. I approach on a vertical vector with boost, then go into FAoff, then change vector towards the docking entracne, switch FAon, boost. The vertical drift is too strong, which makes my ship go off-target by about 15 degrees, vertical thrust correction is too weak at this speed, and my ship crashes right into the station wall. CMDR Middlehoff Mcnulty in his hauler, who I wanted to race to the docking entrance, must have a good laugh by now. Only 12 % hull left. Repair cost: 45.351 CR. Gulp. There goes almost half of my profit. Still, I guess I am very luckyto not having lost everything.

Since I am not content with neither the lowered profit nor the boring flight times (since that incident with the Clipper, I evade now interdictions in my Type 6), it is time to look what has changed with prices in Montalcini-City. For starters, a low demand of superconductors. Not good. But tantalum from Aristotle would sell at high demand for 950 CR per unit here, too. I bring gold to Aristotle Gateway, just to not have an empty cargo hold and check for things I could bring back. Gallium is a good tip, but also weird. There is no supply or demand listed in Aristotle, but apparently, you can sell it there anyways, and the profit span, bringing it in from Montalcini, is 939 CR per unit. Ok, do not look a gift horse into the mouth, this route is better now and my flight time is cut in half, with only 343 ls distance. A round trip takes about 10 minutes, and less interdictions because of shorter travel time.

There is a CMDR Deviant Imp in a Sidewinder zooming about in supercruise, and he pops a question to me, how I got to the Type 6. I have to tell him, take notes of high supply/demand and trade away. But basically I should have told him to do some bounty hunting first, I think this gives a slightly faster kickstart. At least, it is some more action than this, and you are going to be better prepared for those pesky interdictions.

In the ED forum, a guy showed off his wealth: 71 million Credits. If you assume you can do 6 routes per hour with ~200k CR profit, equals ~1,2 million per hour, this is still an awful lot of grind of 60 hours doing that route. Maybe he did an exploit, who knows. Well, profit will double after buying and outfitting an Asp, after about 10 hours. Then assuming 220 tons load, would be still 25 hours to go. Not sure if an upgrade to a Dropship will give cargo space for more profit, again, though. If I now just knew whether there would be a wipe or not!

If I was playing the X-series, I would now set the Type 6 on autopilot, buy one or two Eagles as escort and let it grind away while I moved on. Wrong game. Which makes me think whether the idea of persistent commodity amounts for all players does have drawbacks. Otherwise, Frontier could just limit commodities to fewer numbers so that a long grind on one single route would not happen at all.

Some routes later, there is another Type 6 with CMDR Locutos arriving first at Aristotle Gateway and I consequently get the docking permission denied; there is only one medium landing pad on outposts. So I have to stand the line and watch him doing his landing maneuver, unload/load, and start again. It is interesting to finally see a Type 6 in action from outside. He also encounters the same bug as me, when an NPC ship has occupied the landing platform before you; the first cleared docking does not work as the landing pad does not react to your presence, when you then cancel and re-request, the required landing direction is then always inversed.

At some point, I look into the outfitting offers of Montalcini-City, and to my surprise, I find almost all class A outfits for the Type 6, except for the frameshift drive. And, yes, I do have the cash to fit everything, including two railguns! Wow! Now I want an opponent for testing! An unidentified signal fits nicely. An Eagle has wanted status. Deploy railguns, fire! Instead of dissolving the Eagle into a blue energy cloud, my guns just hum and do nothing except for sucking my weapon capacitor (3 pips!) dry. Damn. Some testing, but nothing I do makes them fire. I should probably log a ticket. I have had this bug in beta1, but the reason at that time, a double setting of mouse2, is not the reason now. I make away before the "wanted" Eagle scans and attacks me

At the next occasion I switch out the rail guns for gimballed beam lasers. Then I do another test with a Sidewinder, which foolishly interdicts me. But those beams behave more like strawberry goo. I was much more accurate and faster and did more damage with my loaned pulse lasers! The Sidewinder escapes with 28% hull, while I was firing almost exclusively close range and with 3 pips in weapon energy (and a class A power coupling!). I want my loaned pulse lasers back!

Well, the evening has passed and it does not make much sense to start a new project tonight. I should plan a bit where I want to be until release. Now after two nights of trading, one night of tedious taking notes, I crave again for some more action - despite some exciting close encounters during my last trading session.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Trading can be an experience

Blekinsop Landing, LHS 3479. Going to worlds with more population and being richer means better options for trading. Getting there requires a better frameshift drive (FSD). Getting a better FSD means having more money. Having more money means more trading. There we are. So back to Yakabugai and do some superconductor-cobalt trading.

Unfortunately, demand has considerably fallen in Levi-Montalcini, so that this route is nowhere near a profit of 1000 CR per unit. Trying Aristotle Gateway, I am lucky, 1237 CR per superconductor, for a total of 59k CR. Route back: 274 CR per cobalt. After a while I realize that tantalum is in high supply at Aristotle and check for profit at Serebrov. Strange, it has a sell price which indicates a high profit of 957 CR per unit, but there are no figures on supply or demand. Bug? I decide to test it with one unit. Aaand, yes, my sought good trade route has been all along in front of my nose! 54428 CR +42548 CR = 96977 CR for a round trip of total 2000 ls in a Cobra, 44 tons cargo capacity.

One thing I learn very well during those trips: How to brake in supercruise. Planets are gravity wells and slow your FSD down, so the best way so far for me is to approach the station in an arc and when close to the planet initiate a circle. The goal is to spend the most of your deceleration time in close vicinity to a gravity well. The longer your time close to the planet the stronger the deceleration effect. Like this, I manage to stick with my speed to the "upper blue range", which would make me dramatically overshoot on a direct approach, thereby arriving a bit quicker. I just need one large loop when closing in to the planet, and a smaller one closing in to the station.

This route offers fast profits and I wonder already if I should now aim for a fully outfitted Cobra or "level up" to a Type 6 instead and multiply my profits again by roughly 2,2? However, what comes after the Type 6?

My thoughts are rudely interrupted by one of those interdictions. They became a bit rarer since I improved my approach piloting. Usually, when they happen, I let them happen and profit from the additional bounty I get. But this time, I face an Imperial Clipper! One without shields, rated harmless. This is why I decide to take my chances and engage, which evolves into a very tough fight. Well, by hindsight, I probably would have had no chances hitting boost and trying to escape, anyways...

 - tough as nail, those Clippers

With a high engines power setting, rest on weapons, I manage well to outcircle it and land frequent hits. That thing has the thick skin of a rhinoceros. What feels like 100 hits, its hull has just lowered to about 80%. Then it happens, the Clipper launches an advanced maneuver, going into reverse speed and thereby getting a firing solution. Some powerful guns gently stroke my shields and they happily dissolve. Hitting boost dissolves the situation, but then I am too far away, which gives the Clipper a second chance to fire away. Pooof, suddenly my canopy gets sucked into the void, along with large part of my HUD. Breathing helmet shows, along with a warning of my oxygen supply being worth 5 minutes. Ohlala. And the Clipper still has over 50% hull! Somehow, I stay cool and continue my assault. A lot of switching of the power settings, so that my shields come back up faster, my weapon capacitors stay available and my maneuverability is optimal. At 40%, I note additional blips on my radar. Cavallery has arrived in the form of three security ships, thanks to "reporting crimes on me" in the rightmenu. Man, never have I been more happy to see those kill stealers on my scanner!!!

The Clipper decides it is enough and flees. With my two loaned pulse lasers, no chance to stop him, and I do not mind. The Clipper had a bounty of only 2100 CR in it. Plus, my oxigen is at 3:40.

Supercruising to the station is a bit trick; I cannot see it on my HUD, except on the upper outer part of it. The feeling is incredible. Sounds are muffled, the canopy not there, I am exposed to open space. With under one minute left on my oxygen timer, I finally set down on the landing pad. Who said trading was boring???

- a little bit, uhm, draughty?

This episode makes me think about upgrading my loaned pulse lasers into some class 2 weaponry. But when I see the prices, 300.000 CR upwards for one of them, I reconsider.

On my next trips; I still dare and let myself interdict when I happens. From the ensuing fights I learn mainly two things: First, do not put fixed weaponry on a Cobra´s class 1 weapon mounts; they are so far spaced apart that even another Cobra can lazily dive through between them. Second; apparently, when your wealth rises, also the quality of the enemies. No more Sidewinders or Eagles, here are Vipers and Cobras, and, as I had to learn, even the occasional Clipper.

After a while, I have passed the 1.000.000 CR mark. My trading rank as shown in the rightmenu is now "Dealer". Consequently´, I should now upgrade to a Type 6. Or do I have enough and finally go to having a full class "A" Eagle? How would it fly, compared to a Cobra or Viper? But then, I would not be able to trade anymore. It is true, the Cobra is the best ship if you want to be a Jack-of-all-Trade. Maybe the Asp later would fill this multi-purpose, too, like it did for me in the last beta.

After a long time being the only human player in this system, besides CMDR Wheeljakk on my friends list, I encounter one other CMDR Mancoon Crest in a hauler and also CMDR Calibban in an Eagle appears on suprecruise scanner. The former welcomes me in German; I guess my name is a pointer! However, I did not realize that you loose communication when dropping out of supercruise, so my first chat attempt was rudely interrupted by this. Even taking him on my friends list does not help; he appears, but with a loading wheel. Yes, I know this bug already. Ah, well, I have nothing but trading today on my list, so no need for team work, anyways.

I finally decide to go for the Type 6. Now I am very thankful for the notes from my very boring last session. I do not need to search long and can just look up that Giszenko Ring in Chamunda offers a Type 6. I jump over there and equip immediately two 32ton racks, for an overall capacity of 82 tons. I do not have enough cash left to fill it with superconductors, but any number above

Arriving with a load of 53 units at Aristotle Gateway, my docking requiest is denied. Oh noes! Is this an outpost which does not have landing pads for the bigger Type 6? I totally forgot about this! Thank god I am persistent and try it 5 or 6 times, and asI have almost given up, I finally get the blue light. Uff. It would have sucked to not be able to work this trade route with a Type 6. By they way, Frontier seems to have improved the graphics on this ship; when decelerating, I can see now the engine´s fire left and right from my cockpit. A little detail, maybe, but it makes piloting a space craft all the more immersive!

- finally, I get assigned a landing vector on Aristotle Gateway; it is those views which make even mindless hauling an experience

After a while, the bug in the comm system disappears and I can finally start a chat with CMDR Mancoon Crest. Turns out he is doing haul contracts. I give him the tip to try trading with a good route and point him towards the "tobacco route" in Eravate. I do not need that route anymore, so why not share it.

After four more trips, I have enough cash to finally upgrade the Type 6 to its fullest cargo capacity at Gitzenko Ring, Chamunda. First, I want a shieldless Type 6, as I think I am good enough at avoiding interdictions. But then I realize the difference is only 8 tons, and I still remember how difficult it was in beta2 to again find a shield generator of the proper classification. So 100 tons is now my Type 6´s capacity. My superconductor-tantalum trade route now brings me a profit of 123.700 CR + 96.700 CR = 193.400 CR. Five trips make a million. I can already see the next big thing, the Asp, affordable soon. 

Getting a bit sloppy, the last trip would have almost ended in a loss of  100 tons of tantalum... An interdiction goes wrong, I don´t see the escape vector and the Viper has my ass pulled out really quickly. I starts firing almost immediately and I try to run for it. However, the cooldown of my frame shift drive is too long. I am at 11% as I have to break and try to outmaneuver him. Slowing to blue speed, after those repeated boosts before, confuses the Viper pilot, but not before I have to swallow another salvo of multicannons. With some healthy portion of luck, my shields come back online right in this moment, and at 7% hull, I finally get out of his firing position. Lucky again, I manage to stay out of his gunsight until my frameshift drive finally kicks in. Looks like keeping that shield generator was the right call! Whew. This was a pointer. Time to get out of this game session!

 - a very close encounter; 7% hull left as the shields finally kick back in

The overall tremendous trading success tonight makes me see this corner of the galaxy in a more friendly moot. I am owner of a Lakon Type 6 Freighter and have 1.009.300 CR cash. Whereas until now I felt like being in a backwater place with no possibilities, the same quality makes it now my secret trade place. Feeling compensated for the last, boring, session, I am content as I now log out at the end of my game session.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Boring. Only for later reference.

This session was, well, boring.

I bought a Cobra and looked for a good trade route and did not find any.

Exectuing my plan from the end of my last session, I sell my hauler at Ackerman Market in Eravate. Then I realize all that mapping of equipment was basically only for my hauler, which needs class 2 outfits. The Eagle, however, needs class 3 shields, frameshift drive and thrusters. This just incentivizes me further to sell it and go on a trade/data collection rampage with a Cobra. A little bit of regret, as I wanted to know how a perfectly outfitted Eagle flies like; but I can still do this later.

 - last landing for my hauler; the Lakon Type 9 there is stuck in the entrance cage

As a nice discovery, Russel Ring has Class A3 (500k CR) and B3 (160k CR) frameshift drives. But, a Cobra it is now. I get it one of the free paint jobs from last black friday and choose the "orange rattler". Somehow, orange is a leading colour theme in Elite: Dangerous, anyways. Then I check outfitting. Of course, the cargo racks need upgrade to maximum capacity; I leave the shield generator on board, I still want some combat capacity, so the maximum cargo capacity is not 44 tons, a bit more than double that of the hauler. The rest of my remaining cash I need for actually being able to trade commodities.
But I note that here are also class A4 (1.610.080 CR) and B4 (536.693 CR) frameshift drives ("FSD") here. Current jump range is 10,55 (8,99) ly. B4 would propel me 18,51 (15,84) ly, A4 22,71 (19,37) ly. Also available: A4 and B4 power plants (same prices as FSD) and an A3 sensor with 6 km optimal range for 158.331 CR. Now, off I go for some double as fast as before commodity trading!

Noting the prices here, they have shifted quite a bit again; for the worse. Power generators are the same high supply still, though. I should have taken the time to note the prices in Ackerman Market, too. Now my profit is a bit dependend on speculation. Well, 10.000 CR for the full batch is not bad.

I do not like routes under at least 1000 CR per unit, so I have to do my research. Checking Serebrov Station, Yakabugai again, bringing some Coffee, and one tobacco. I know they are illegal there, let´s see what the black market yields for this.
Outifts: B3 thrusters and FSD (169.304 CR),  A3 power plant (507.912 CR) , A3 power distributor and scanner (each 158.331 CR), B3+A3 life support.
I then leave for the next station without having checked for a black market, damn. Montalcini City, next stop in system, has none. Superconductors sell >1000 CR per unit, and copper can be brought back for around 400 CR per unit. An ok trade route, but I want to look for better options still.

Next stop Aristotle Gateway. I can bring power couplings back to Serebrov Station for a good profit. And the black market yields only 4735 CR for the tobacco, which would translate in only 300 CR profit. Not worth the risk! The bulletin board gives two fetch missions for 60k+30k CR. For this money, I do travel 110.000 ls to Yaping Enterprise, LHS 3447, where both coltan and betrantide are listed according to my notes.

 - feels really far out there

Finally arriving at Yaping Enterprise, I check outfits and find A3 thrusters (507.912 CR), C4 thrusters ad shield generators (each 178.898 CR), buy 12 coltan and 12 betrantide for the contracts and leave again. Back at Serebrov Station in Yakabugai, I realize that the contracts were in fact not really worth it. Better is trade route between here and the 800ls away Levi-Montalcini City (superconductors for 955 CR / unit, retour cobalt for 355 CR / unit). But, where is my dream >1000 CR route? I guess I will have to move on in order to find it!

Next stop: Giztenko Ring, Chamunda system. 2500 ls out. Shipyard has a Python for 59 million CR and a Dropship for 38 million CR. Cobra, Type 6. Outfits show some FSD of various classes. Only a few commodities on low/med supply. Not suited for trade routes.

LHS 3479 looks at first untinteresting, but the only commodity trade outpost there allegidly exports gold. Worth to check out, I guess. Uh, maybe not... it is 9,94 ly away. I cannot cross this distance yet with cargo in my hold. However, same result; not suited for trade routes. Then I realize I forgot about my earlier efforts on beta3 to analyse the galaxy map: poor=low population is not good for trade. So I guess it is time for studying the galaxy map once more, to find systems which have high population, a good mix of all economies and are close to each other.

After some musing but no real breakthrough, the evening runs late. This was a not very satisfying evening, as I had a larger cargo capacity but did not put it really to use as I was, unsuccessfully, looking forbetter trade routes.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Rare commodities

Interesting info from comm chatter (ED forum). There are rare commodities, which represent products which can only be created in one specific star system.

Bast - White Hart Lane - Bast Snake Gin

Chi Eridani - Steve Masters station - Chi Eridani Marine Paste

Delta Phoenicis - Trade Port - Delta Phoenicis Palms

Eranin - Azeban City - Eranin Whiskey

Ethgreze - Bloch Station - Ethgreze Tea Buds

Hecate - RJH1972 - Hecate Live Sea Worms

Heike - Brunel City - Ceremonial Heike Tea

Lave - Lave Station - Lavian Brandy

Thrutis - Kingsbury Dock - Thrutis Cream

Toxandji - Tsunenaga Orbital - Toxandji Virocide

Xihe - Zhen Dock - Xihe Biomorphic Companions

Apparently, their value increases in direct relation to the distance from that system, maxing out at aroun 20.000 CR per unit. I will for sure look out for them, but I won´t go specifically hunting those which are already on the list in this thread; chances are that a lot of CMDRs are already treading this mill. But good as a fall back option the information is valuable.

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This is a nice example which confirms my "ethical" stance on "secret" information; do not keep it secret. Instead, get your share and then pass it on, like a chalice of excellent wine you want to pass around the table. Herne protect us. You might loose a bit of the profit at hand, but the community as a whole profits and you might be repayed a thousandfold when many others act the same way.

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Short range trading

Ackerman Station, Eravate system. The hauler´s cockpit feels claustrophobic after having been so long with the Eagle´s panorama view. There is a mission for 13k CR, but I rather bet on commodity trading. Spending some time updating the prices here in my notes, I buy 5 tobacco and the rest fish. More cash I do not have at this point. The next few tours are meant to update my notes and then to decide whether trading here is still worth it.

The travel to Cleve Hub is eventless, just 200 ls to cover; the most boring part is waiting for acceleration to finally kick my ship up to speed. Over there, I have to realize that  the prices have shifted to the worse; I make only half the profit I used to have a few days ago. Since I only have few high price tobacco, the profit is just overal 3000 CR. Hmpf. And yes, Cleve Hub offers an A1 sensor for 20195 CR. This would boost my scanner´s detection range from 4km to 6km, a 50% increase! And not only this, I also find a class A2 frameshift drive whohoo! For a small fee of 160224 CR, that is. But I could sell  the power plant from my Eagle and take the FSD, in order to finally get ahead and around a bit in this galaxy...

I will come back here, soon. After updating my notes I get back to Ackerman Market;  but I have no routine anymore, as I forgot to load something and arrive with an empty cargo hold; what a waste. Next trip: Bring coffee to McMahon Dock.

The coffee tour to McMahon is also not optimal, only about 4000 CR; prices have been a bit shaken up indeed. If there is no opportunity here anymore, I might have to switch to contractual work again. Loading power generators, I fly back to Ackerman Market.

Next trip: Russel Ring, with tobacco again. Good, back to normal profit here, 1000 CR per units. There is also a A2 FSD and power core here. Back with power generators again to Ackerman Market; a full load, full price range brings me 5800 CR.

Next stop: Sylvester City, with tobacco. High profit again, but power generators to bring back to Ackerman Market are not so good to buy here. I go instead for marine equipment; low supply but still an even slightly better profit span than with high supply power generators, according to my notes. On my way there, I become complacent. While I happily type away on my blog notes, an interdiction happens and I am not fast enough to alt-tab back and evade it. I already had about three or four interdictions, but evading is really not difficult for me anymore. This time though, I am forced out and land into a Viper´s fangs. A Viper, versus me in a hauler, uh-oh.

Desperately I first try to boost away. Of course it does not work and the Viper happily gnaws at my shields. Then I engage the dog fight. I am lucky insofar that this Viper is rated "novice", and it does not fly with shields at all! Like this, I indeed am able, not to destroy, but to whittle it down to about 20% hull and thus to make it flee. I did not even loose my shields in the process, lucky I am.

Once I have about 80k CR cash again, the profit for a round trip is again back to 25k CR, travelling only overall 400-800 ls depending which station I choose. But I still do not know where I can find A2 thrusters, a very important outfit for my combat Eagle. And I am also pretty sure, there must be somewhere a round trip with >1000 CR profit / unit waiting for me and I should probably spend some time on finding it.

My next trip is therefore to Yakabugai. Two contracts from the bulletin board totalling about 20k CR lead me there, and I can collect commodity data. Before arriving at Serebrov Station over there, a Cobra tries to interdict me, but since I do a "loop" approach in supercruise, i.e. circling in at high speed, thereby changing vector very often, it does not get me in time before I arrive. I was aware of the Cobra´s interdiction attempts because it was zipping past me very closely repeatedly, and there would be no other motivation to do so than to interdict a hapless hauler.

I take two small transport contracts back to Eravate; shouldn´t have, they are to different stations and a waste of time, as I could have already loaded some better profit commodities. But first, the outfitting vendor offers: gimbal pulse lasers (finally) and a B1 power distributor. A B1 sensor for 8000 CR. And B2 thrusters and B2 shield generator for 53.408 CR, bingo, this will suffice for a better combat experience. Back to the money grab in order to be able to afford all this stuff.

The second station in Yakabugai, Levi-Montalcini, has an A1 power distributor for 20195 CR, but no commodities worth carrying back. I hurry to finish the contracts to Eravate, so I skip visiting the third station here, and head first to Ackerman Market, then McMahon. For synergy, I take some more tobacco onwards to McMahon. Once I am done and back in Ackerman Market, CMDR Wheeljakk is back online. He can already afford a Cobra. This makes me realize that I probably can do so, too, if I sold every asset. So far, in every iteration of beta, I always forgot about the Cobra. It is set in my mind right next to the Viper, as a combat ship, and not as a freighter, but in fact, with up to 56 tons cargo capacity, it is a huge improvement over the hauler´s 19 tons and therefore mandatory to take if you want to make cash with trading.

First, I locate a shipyard with a Cobra: This is in Russel Ring, Eravate, for 379.718 CR. Then I fly back to Ackerman Market and make my calculations: I have 207.114 CR cash, selling my Eagle for 269.270, selling my hauler for 67.000 CR, would be enough to start hauling with a Cobra, sporting about double my current ship´s cargo capacity. I could later rebuy my Eagle, with the downside that I would have to pass by a few stations before it is again properly outfitted. But right now, the larger cargo with the Cobra will definitely boost my profits and thus get me a fully pimped up Eagle much much faster! If I still want it after flying the formidable Cobra, that is.

Since it is late, I will ponder a bit about this decision until next game session.

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Wohler Terminal, Kremainn system. I have my A1 power coupling, but no cash to actually make use of all the new additional power. Cash... maybe I should do some traderuns on my "tobacco route" (if it is still profitable after patch)? 100k CR are quickly done like this. Hmmm... no... want a bit more of action. One more run into the ring!

Arriving at the extraction site, it takes a bit until I find a "wanted" Cobra, then I k-scan it and engage. Routine. What is not so routine, though, is that this one was heading directly towards a peaceful Anaconda, and as it of course had to happen, I miss a shot which promtly hits the Anaconda. Sigh; "wanted" again. But I just do not turn tails and run. Yet. I mean, a little I do, until some asteroids are between me, the Anaconda, and a bunch of additional, missile throwing ships. Then I note that the orginal target actually followed me, the rest not. Hehehehe.

Turn, boost to close the gap, attack. The Cobra launches some missiles at me, but they are unguided and easily dodged. Then we wrestle in circles. Moreso, this "master" Cobra pilots quite well (frequent and well executed "slow down and turn" maneuvers) and I really have to be on my toes to be not caught in its seeming endless missile stash; plus the lasers, of course. Then, a security Eagle joins the fray, also with missiles. And it is on the Cobra´s side; when two "wanted" ships fight each other, I seem to always be the priority target... Somehow, I still manage to dodge most of the fire and finally destroy the Cobra. It was worth the hazzle, as this particular Cobra had 11.000 CR on its head. Then it is time to head out, as I have no quarries with security (sometimes I ask myself why I do not, since I am marked "hostile" with the Federation, anyways...)

During the fight, CMDR Wheeljakk sends regards. I now reply the chat while I approach the station, almost forgetting to request docking. He wrote a threat on reddit because finally meeting a fellow commander was a good experience for him, too. However, before I can enter the station, I get scanned and immediately following, the mighty station guns open fire on me. Can´t even say "oops" and I have already landed on the insurance screen instead of on the landing pad! No idea why this happened; I am pretty sure I did not have any cargo on me. Since when does the station open fire on "wanted" ships? Or did my reputation finally dive below any threshold of tolerance?

Glad I still had 24.000 CR in my pockets, because the insurance wants 11.000 CR thereof. One more mishap like this and I will be washing space dishes.

In my chat with CMDR Wheeljakk, I commit to doing some teamplay, screw the cash grind. In my enthusiasm, I almost forget to cash in the 11.000 CR bounty for the Cobra; pays nicely for the loss of my ship! There is also something new, which I did not see before: I have a "dormant" bounty on me, and I cannot seem to pay this one off in the station´s contacts menu. It is only shown in the rightmenu under "reputation", but also not in the lower left overview; there it says "bounty: 0". No idea about this.

I launch and try to rendez-vous with CMDR Wheeljakk, but do not see him on my scanner. Explainable, since my scanner is very weak and short range. Before I can find him though, the station again opens fire and destroys me. WTF! What is this?

After this, I launch and make away from the station very quickly. Will have to inquire about this station agression in the ED forum. Unfortunately, CMDR Wheeljakk can neither be seen in supercruise, where there are no limits from weak scanners, even though I can chat to him all the time. We drop testwise and repeatedly into an extraction site, but no success. A victim appears and as I shoot it, another ship swoops  into my line of fire. Sigh. Wanted again, back to the station and hope it does not shoot me down again. It works, and after clearing my "wanted" status, the "dormant" bounty has also gone, finally. I should be save now again from the station, but I do not really want to test it!

I guess there is also a problem with the chat in general, because also another one from my friend list, CMDR Lazoreyes is shown in the comm menu, but there is a "-x-" next to his name and I cannot chat with him. Same happens now with CMDR Wheeljakk. First there is a loading wheel indicator, then a "-X-". It seems that I am alone again.

Some more time passes with some bounty hunting in the extraction site, only small bounties to be found, and  my fellow CMDR continues to stay tucked away in a different part of the multiverse. Pity. I should probably move on.

So I pack my stuff and move back to Eravate, Ackerman Market. The plan is to do some hauling and checking the new outfit options each station has gotten added by the gamma1.05 patch. But for starters, there seems to be nothing new at Ackerman Market. Still only the complete range of exploration scanners; good to know but not my priority right now.

There is a fetch contract for 4 silber, 30k CR. This is a quicky buck. I think Potriti had all metals, albeit in low supply. I take my chances and jump there. Yah, well, my memory was correct, but I had forgotten silver´s high price and the low supply thing. I pay 20k CR for the 4 tons of silver, slimming down my profit on this contract to a mere 10k CR. This venture was not worth so much, after all!

Now some serious hauling! Back to Ackerman Market. And then I realize, time is already up for this session. What a pity. Or maybe not; this game session was overall just riddled with annoying bugs, hampering any sound flow of the game for me. Well, ups and downs, I guess. Better playing something buggy than still having to wait for a game to be released at all, I guess.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Bounty hunt and space combat training

Wohler Terminal, Kremainn system. Gamma patch 1.05 has arrived and it has immediate effect; a class A1 powerplant is now available at this station. This is about the best piece of equipment which the short breathed Eagle requires for being a better combat ship! The only problem for me right now is: It costs 160.224 CR, and I just have about 100.000 CR. Well, I can remedy this soon. Launch for bounty hunt! (I know that trading might be faster when you have already figured out a profitable route, but I yearn for some action. With some luck, a good flow of bounty rewards will come in, too.)

Uhm... why is the station a red blip? Why am I hostile to the Federation, as my rightmenu shows? Oh man... I hate it when you have no idea about why and what. As a speculative idea, this might probably because of me two or three unsuccessful smuggler runs into this station from earlier. Oh my. I have no idea what this negative reputation is going to cause (maybe even the high cost for the power plant???), so I am a bit worried. If I cannot remedy that bad rep, I will be driven towards being an Empire or Alliance affiliated pilot...

Back at the Kremainn 2´s ring system, I soon spot a Cobra, wanted for ~5000 CR. It drops lots of cargo before obliteration. Atmosperic processors, they should be worth something. Before I can scoop one, a sidewinder loops out in front of me and snatches the cargo away. Wow, never saw this before an NPC ship doing! I scan it and it is "wanted". Two reasons now to blow him to bits, what I do in the next minute. Then back at the floating cargo units, shortly before I finally scoop the cargo, I am suddenly scanned by a security vessel. Uhm. Better not to scoop stuff then, if I want to continue my hunt!

- the ring looks like a veil at this distance; actually from an unidentified signal location shortly before entering the ring

Another "wanted" Cobra becomes my target, but I am rudely interrupted by two sidewinders who for whatever reasons choose to attack me. I focus on one, but get under heavy fire from the other one: railguns! Before I can break, my hull has mostly melted away to 18%! Then I get support from some security vessels. Before engaging, I had remembered a tip from the ED forum; on the rightmenu, there is an option "report crimes on me". I had taken it to "off", because I wanted to avoid security vessels to "steal my bounty"; but this might also be the reason why clean ships attacking me did not become "wanted" in the process, thereby causing me to be "wanted" once I returned fire. Very convoluted system. I had remembered to switch it back to "on" before I started my exploits here.

However, after I engage and destroy the second sidewinder, I am "wanted" anyway. First, an Eagle security vessel is a red blip, and as it opens fire on me, the whole rest of all ships around me turn red, too! I barely make it away. Actually I was very lucky, with my low hull. So, I still don´t get it and have to assume a bug.

There is a second extraction site, and I drop in despite my low hull. Call it risk affinity. CMDR Wheejakk in a Viper hunts in there, too. I attack a "wanted" Cobra and am "wanted" myself again; hrrrrrrrm.... Once I fled into supercruise, the "wanted" status is suddenly gone again. Back. One kill. Then next target, a stray shot of mine lands on a security vessel, which loops in right in front of my guns, and I am "wanted" again, this time for real. I break and finally take this occasion to supercruise back to Wohler Terminal. Costs: -2500 CR ammo -649 CR rep -300 CR "wanted" removal +17.000 CR bounties. Still a profit, but the loss of time flying here because of the "wanted" issue is annoying. As a side note: The cost relations for ammo and repairs seem to be a bit weird.

After quite a while of further bounty hunting, and running away again, I reencounter CMDR Wheejakk. We both quickly spot a "wanted" Anaconda, already in fierce battle with about 6 security ships, and smell the occasion. That Anaconda has a bounty of 51.000 CR on it! It takes quite a while to whittle down the opponent, and I let the other ships to all the work. My Eagle is far too squishy to survive a full salvo from an Anaconda´s turrets, and on top I have to note how this Anaconda turns and rolls very quickly. But my plan is thwarted; as the Anaconda is at 17% hull, it suddenly explodes. No idea what happened. CMDR Wheejakk said he got the bounty, so I assume he launched either a missile or torpedo or his hits were delayed by lag and registered finally all at once on my client. I also remember having seen this kind of early demise already earlier, always with Anacondas; maybe another bug?

- this "wanted" Anaconda is swarmed by security ships like by angy wasps...

- ... and here is the reason why I am part of that swarm: a 50.574 Credit bounty

The rest of the game session inperceptibly passes away while I slowly make my cash rise up to the required 160.000 CR for the A1 power plant.

It is interesting to note the flight patters of different skilled AI ships, and sometimes it seems rather irrational. For example, there are some Cobras who just seem to be eternally trying to outcircle me. This of course does not work on the more nimble Eagle. But if they just had rolled about or used flight assist off-turning techniques, I would have been in much more trouble. Some Cobras did so, infrequently and seeming independend from their skill rating. They would suddenly launch an advanved maneuver and thus surprise me and achieve a firing solution, inevitable bringing my shields and parts of my hull down on just one or two salvos, and then resume fruitless circling until destruction. (I will be so happy once I find - and can afford - a class A3 shield generator!)

The preceived advanced maneuvers mainly are:
- Fly on a vector and turn around with flight assist off. This almost always gives you at least a brief firing solution because it is very difficult for the opponent to timely realize this pattern. Only usefull if you do have superiour fire power, because there is almost no evasive vector possible during the turning. But Cobras indeed do have superiour fire power towards my Eagle.
- Roll about to make the opponent face the hand of your ship where your turretted guns are. So easy, but it seems the AI does not have this in its repertoire. Thank god.
- Use boost and immediately slow down to blue speed and turn around. If you are on edge, you can out-maneuver this with the more nimble Eagle. However, if the Cobra has sufficient distance, I got under heavy fire before I was able to close the gap again.
- Slow down to a stop to make the opponent overshoot (this was the most frequent additional maneuver I observed, but it is very easy to counter with an Eagle, as it has much better acceleration/deceleration capacity).
- Reverse flight and fire. The opponent can overtake you and get out of your firing solution, but it is harder and takes longer than normal. Downside: Your own evasion capacity is a bit weak like his.

On a related note, there are now and again questions in the forum on dogfighting tactics. I can only recommend this very nice webpage, as well as some general research into real life air combat school teachings (which are much more complex, but some basics apply also here, testament to a very well done space combat flight mechanics in this game).

Sometimes, there were "wanted" Anacondas, but those ships take an eternity to let them taken down by the NPC ships and soloing them in an Eagle, at least in my measly un-upgraded version, is simply not possible for me at this stage.

- these cracks in the canopy appear when you take on more than you can chew

CMDR Wheejakk and I did not hunt together. The fights were easy enough to manage solo and bounties are not shared, anyways. We both regretted this, and in hindsight, this would have been a good occasion to practice wing maneuvers. So, I have to chide myself, the only reason I did not do this was because I wanted to grind money for the A1 power plant. So you might see this case as a good example for those situations where emerging gameplay is smothered by a game´s grind mechanic, the main "sickness" of most modern MMO games.

All in all, I spent a bit too long in Kremainn´s ring systems, I indeed felt relieved of "the grind" at the end of my session. On the plus side I am now a happy owner of a A1 power plant. For the next sessions, I commit to look more for fun and will try to ignore the game´s "grind incentives"; money will come anyways in time, no need to rush it and loose fun moments because of rushing!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It´s a hard life of a bounty hunter

Hartsfield Plant, Potriti system. Comm chatter from the ED forum informed me that trying to look for either Wraak or Black Crow for those juicy assassination contracts could be a rather unsatisfying and unsuccessful effort. I should choose easier and less elusive prey in order to have fun.

4800 CR if I go to Volta Station in Kremainn and deliver 2 untis of scrap. Gladly so, dear sir. Done, next stop, Wohler Terminal in the same system. Outfits, maybe finally a better frameshift drive? Well, nope.

On my way, an unidentified signal. A wanted sidewinder and a clean viper. Goddamn Viper does a kill steal on me. Hmrp. To be fair, it opened fire first on that sidewinder, ah so what.

Then a visit to Kremainn´s rings. There should be extraction sites, maybe a good source for "wanted"ships? Well, that venture does not go well.

- the ring system looks a bit glitchy like this

First, I spot what you could call "phat loot", a Lakon Type 9 which is "wanted". I also k-scan it. Thing is, that ship is accompanied by two system security ships. But hey, they are the law, they won´t stand in the way of some rightful bounty hunt, right? Right.

- a "wanted" freighter with security ships, of all, as an escort? Right.

As I attack the freighter, those security ships indeed stay neutral. Satisfied, I wail away on the hapless freighter. But then I am hit by laser fire, and it is not coming from the freighter. Irritated, I check the radar. Two sidewinders opened fire on me. Probably some kind of additional protection service for the freighter? Right. I spin around and return fire. Bam, I am "wanted". Right.

Two ships, no matter even if only sidewinders, can give you a hell of a problem, and those two here are of that kind. I loose shields and large chunks of my hull (50%) before I can destroy the first of those two. The second follows quickly after. But in the meanwhile, the security ships apparently got wind of my "wanted" status and open fire, too.There are two security Eagles, and while I almost manage to destroy the first, down at 15 % hull myself, unfortunately, it is time to bail out. Only problem is, no asteroids close to find cover behind (I followed the freighter far out above the ring). And, it is actually three Eagles. Moments later, my ship is gone, as in, scrapped.

You know there are moments where I wonder when Frontier can finally get some game mechanics finally working without bugs? Unfair, I know, but this is just frustrating. This encounter was again so random and unpredictable that I hardly felt in control of what transpired. Yes, I am a bit annoyed.

 - dirty dustball and chunks of rock. Romantic, kind of.

Launch. I want a revanche. On my way to the planet´s ring, there is an unidentified signal. A nice yield awaits in there, a wanted Eagle, wanted Hauler, wanted Cobra. The last drops 5 units of marine equipment, which will sell for around 2000 CR each on the black market. I manage to destroy one container by noobish piloting, but my cargo hold can only fit four untits anyways.

On my way back to the station, shortly before docking, some security vessels come dangerously close. I want to activate silent running, but hit the landing gear button instead. Slowed down and non silent, the ship has an easy job scanning me.... yep, I had it coming this way. 18.000 CR fine for illegal goods in my hold. And I am "wanted" again. 5000 CR for bounty vouchers, 8.000 CR for the goods on the black market, minus 18.000 CR fine. I started this evening with roughly 100.000 CR, I am down to 88.000 CR. Sigh. Life in Elite is a bitch sometimes.

Plus, I cannot undo my "wanted" status in my contacts. A relog solves this and the "wanted" vanishes.

Another try. Goddamnit! And, finally, I am also lucky. One wanted Cobra after another appears, and the last one even drops some gold! Now it is only a matter of getting into that station without being fined...

 - finally, some happy fishing for "wanted" Cobras

On my approach in supercruise, I shut down every module not needed. I drop in, boost towards the station. Uh-oh, this does not look good. As I am almost at the docking entrance, security vessels appear on my radar, very close range already. It would be probably worth it to invest in a better scanner in order to time a better arrival. I hit silent running, but to no avail. Moments before I enter the hatch, I am scanned again.


22.000 Credits is the fine this time. There goes a large chunk of my profits. On the plus side there are bounties worth 32.000 CR and the loot for 10.000 CR. Minus, again, 4.000 CR for the ammo and repair costs. Overall not a minus business, but the unsucessful attempt at smuggling for sure hurts. I wonder what I could do better to sneack in here? Next time, I will try to wait until I am sure that the security ships are on the far other side!

Next time, that means, next session. Over and out.

Addendum: Finally, a very enlightening post from Frontier´s lead designer explains how and why some "wanted" situations appear so wrongly. Basically, you always need to have your target in scan position and wait until as if an initial scan has finished, even when the ship (wrongly) shows alreadyd and immediately as "wanted" because it shot you. Very helpful, thank you!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Meanest kill steal ever

Maine Hub. The outfit vendor sells top quality A1 (20.000 CR) and B1 (8.000 CR) power couplings. This increases power output for shields, weapon and engines; for my hauler, I do not really need the more expensive one so I settle with the B1 class.

Bringing basic medicines to Ackerman Market, the bulletin board over there offers a hauling contract of 16k CR to Portriti. Good occasion to check commodity prices over there. Which turns out to be disappointing; only low supply metals there. But at least I have found a supply of metals.

Kremainn is a few light years away and I extend my prices check to it. There is a high supply of most metals. Indium is at a very good price, and I can bring a full load back to Cleve Hub in Eravate, for around 1100 CR profit per unit. Cleve Hub offers a "fetch"-type contract for 48.000 CR. The cash temporarily blinds my logic and I accept it before I realize this mission requires "Indite", not the supply of "Indium" which I just have discovered in Kremainn. Screw!

Still cursing, I call up the galaxy map and look for systems marked as extraction economies. Indite is a mineral, coming from extraction, indium is a metal (probably smelted from indite...). There are two "red" = extraction systems; Apoyota, LHS 3479. However, the system map information I have to buy first for 100-250 CR. It then says that those systems in fact need to import indite? What is this? I don´t know how this bought data is supposed to work, this does not make sense, but I am also not in the mood anymore to explore those two systems. 

- another nice constellation, encountered during my travels in LHS 3447

Instead, I opt to go to my starting system, LHS 3447, as a lot of stations there seem to supply minerals; at least it is not stated that they import indite! Arriving there, I am reminded again why I left. The supercruise distances are excruciating! 110.000 ls is a minimum! No way I am gonna trade here! Systems like this, which could be a vital supply/demand markets (7 stations with commodity trading over there!), but so tedious to reach. This makes me want to leave this forsaken, end-of-the-world star system cluster a.s.a.p.! Not even one hightech system is reachable here. I wonder where I will ever find a better frameshift drive which could actually propel me out of here...

Finally, I find indite in LHS 3447, at Yaping Enterprise. I take the time to get data on thee more stations which are close, then I am done here. On my way back, to Eravate, I am interdicted. I am just in a hauler, but I already took down an Eagle and a Sidewinder with it, so I try my luck and let me pull out. Uh-oh, a bit overconfident: an Anaconda awaits me. I escape thanks to a better speed of my hauler, but it costs me a little bit of my hull integrity.

Finally my mistake of selecting a wrong mission corrected and fulfilled, I grab basic medicines and make way back to Ackerman Market, the main hub for Eravate. My cash is now at 199.000 CR. Having had enough of hauling, I want some action again. My cash should help me to have now a significantly upgraded Eagle.

Before I do so, I spot another juice fetch mission, for 38k CR (bertrantide). I know where... it is ...sigh... some 110.000 ls travel out there.... here I come. Since I took note of the commodity data, I know that animal meat is in high demand at Yaping Station, and it is at high supply here in Ackerman Market. Packing some animal meat, which yields me 600 CR profit per unit. Hauling back the 12 untis of bertrantide, I also cash in the 48k CR and then finally go back to flying an Eagle, which I buy at Ackerman Market. I keep my hauler stored there, since it is already upgraded with B1 power couplings and 8ton racks, aquired from two different stations.

Now it is time to upgrade my Eagle. I was content with a gimballed multicannon as a third gun, as it complements the loaned pulse lasers nicely. I can keep all three guns in one fire group and a short burst will only fire the lasers, while the multicannon needs some moments to ramp up. A full fire spread with unleash also the multicannon, which I do in a good firing position and when the shields are already down from my laser-only short bursts. Then, a new paint job from the Frontier shop. Shut up and take my money, I want this game to succeed and deliver everything they can´t at this point yet. I chose the artic blue camo design. Next, since I know that an A1 power couplings is available in Maine Hub, I make way there.

Interdiction. Oops, a Python! Rated "Novice". Of course, the Python attacks. My first reflex: Boost away. Then, I reconsider and accept the challenge! However, I am badly prepared: my firegroup is not set yet with the multicannon, and the k-scanner is not embedded into a firegroup. Try doing this while desperately dodging a quatruple laser fire spitting Python!

- a hell of a fight! a pity my shadowplay video capture does not work

I stick to his underside. No guns there. Twice he turns and shows his upper side towards me: two turrets happly wail away at my poor Eagle! But I manage somehow to get back on his underbelly´s side while we circle each other like crazy. Hull integrity at 87%. My saving grace is that the Python´s "novice" AI does not simply roll over while circling, to show me his turrets; I would be so dead. Turrets are too powerful for a light little fighter as the Eagle is.

Also, the Eagle´s capacitors are short breathed. Slowly and under very precise maneuvering to avoid the Pythons surprise twists and turns, I whittle the Python down. As I pause for a last moment to collect capacitor energy for a final sustained burst, suddenly lasers flash from upper-behind me, hit the Python and it exlodes. Stunned I stare at the screen. WTF.

WTF. This was the meanest goddamn killsteal I have had so far in this whole frakking game!! Holyshit am I pissed off. After about 10 minutes of desperate struggle, even managing to properly set my firegroups in-between and k-scanning him, some forsaken stupid security ships jump in and burn away its last sliver of hull integrity, right in front of my nose!?! Whaaaaaaaaaaa!

No idea about the bounty I would have gotten! And you know what, I do not want to know or I would probably chew on my keyboard. To add insult to the injury, I am again shown as "wanted" (did not realize when this again had happened) and the two security vessels who did this bloody killsteal also attack me!

- "wanted" myself, those kill-stealing corrupt security forces hunt me away like a rabid dog

I am without shield and so furious I would love to take them apart, screw by screw. But, no, cut your losses in time, I boost and some evasive maneuvers bring me finally back to supercruise. Docking at Maine Hub, and I need a goddamn drink after this one. ARRRRG! Cheers! Prost!

This should have been the time to go to bed, but no, the pro bounty hunter thinks he can drink and pilot afterwards all the better... So launch, I do again.

Cleve Hub should have the 4ton cargo rack and maybe some more stuff to complement my Eagle´s outfit. On my way there, an unidentified signal (US) pops up and I drop in. In there, a lone "wanted" Cobra circles lazily. I start to k-scan it, but it goes for range, even with boost I cannot get near enough to complete it. This should have warned me that a higher skilled AI is at work here.

I shoot to make it start evade so I can come close. Works. And almost immediately, the ship drops its cargo. No way, friend, you are dead! One cargo pops against my cockpit, bang. Unfortunate, hope it was not too valuable. Then another. And another. My shields are down and I am dumbfounded and drunk. Two more bangs and my ship explodes. Another long stunned stare at the screen.

This must have been mines. So, why does my scanner show them as white blips as if they were cargo??? I cannot believe this. Twice now, I have been given a big fat giant finger by the gods of randomness and unpredicability. I am so glad I grinded some money before this disaster... or I would be back to zero by now. Stay sharp, this is the best advice I can give to anyone I guess. Well, at least I learned something important about mines!

An insignificant (compared to my wealth now) insurance fee later, I roam the vast void again in order to finally make it to Cleve Hub. Almost there, I notice CMDR Toraque´s Cobra doing a weird dance in supercruise. Then I see a second faery close to him dancing with him. Ah, an interdiction. I decide to help out.

It takes a bit to turn around, get away from the planet´s gravity well, but when I arrive at the low energy wakes left in supercruise, I can still target one of those and thus drop into the same location. CMD Toraque is still fighting the enemy Cobra. I textcomm "help has arrived!" and swoop with extended claws down on the Cobra.

However, as I open fire on the enemy, it ceases all activity and just sits there. I don´t ask or discuss and destroy it quickly for 2000 CR bounty. CMDR Toraque has seen this strange behaviour too but has no explanation. A bug, most probably.
After a brief chat, the colleague then asks me about a good trade route. Hm, this is a bit like asking for the amount of my salary, you know. Besides, you have even more cash than me, riding a Cobra! But, so what, I have my policy of transparency, so tell him about the tobacco route. I am gone from here anyways as soon as I find a better frameshift drive. After a quick thanks, he is gone and I cannot chat to him anymore. Maybe he logged off? The comm system works weird sometimes.

In Cleve Hub, I find a 4ton cargo rack, but nothing else useful. I also realize that my last encounter had a double bounty. One with the faction here, one with another faction. So I have to fly to a station owned by the other one to get the second bounty. On my way to Sylvester City I am interdicted by a Cobra. This one delivers a tough fight, but in the end it succumbs, and also drops some natural fabrics. Unfortunately, Sylvester City does not have a black market, so I do the tour back to Ackerman Market after cashing in the bounty.

- another interdiction on my way, with an agressive Viper as a host, is no problem to handle

Over there, the bulleting board finally shows up again a kill contract. Has been a while! It is about an old acquaintance: Wraak. Let´s see if I find him this time! Somehow I broke a dam. While I supercruise through different systems in search of Wraak, I find "wanted" ships galore, and my interdictor gets plenty of work. The improved power coupling works wonders during fights, yielding much more endurance for weapon capacitors, speed and shield regeneration.

After some more while, I am entirely content with the exciting many dogfights I have had today and the game session has to end.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

From bounties to commodities

Ackerman Market, Eravate. My first bounty hunt today went well. I had complemented my Eagle with an interdictor, as well as a kill warrant scanner. On my supercruise out, I sighted a "wanted" Cobra, headed for this station. Some defect prevented the interdictor to fire, even though interdiction range was around 2Mm. As the Cobra dropped into norm space at the station, I managed to scan it, which caused the Cobra to take evasive action. Like this, it would not get anymore into the station´s anti-fire perimeter and I was able to score a kill. Tough bastards, those Cobras, though. In the end, it tried to bargain for its hull integrity by dropping off some cargo. Its destruction yielded me 1987 CR, and gleefully I also scooped in some high value smuggleware - personal weapons for another 4180 CR. A pity though that my cargo racks can only hold 2 tons, as there were 5 out there. They decayed quickly, though, probably rigged with some self-destruction detonators.

I think I should repeat some runs in order to find out about the magnitude of the interdictors defects. Launch!

Another Cobra, but superficial scans show it as clean, so I do not bother. Then a Viper appears on my warp scan. It is wanted. As I approach it, the colleague over there seems to do the same; this results in some pseudo dogfighting while both of us obviously try to get to a firing sollution for our interdictors. At least I can identify the problem which made my interdictor not fire; it was a faulty fire group setting.
Once I realize the Viper´s eagerness to interdict, I let it happen. The disadvantage like this is that he starts in with a firing solution and I have to first outmaneuver him. With an Eagle, though, it is not so much a problem to deal with.

 - "competent" Viper, no problem, as it does not use its advantage of superiour speed

After it is over, I am 4625 DR richer. Unfortunately, some electronic defect marks me as wanted. Back to base, have to correct this quickly. Before I can do so, an Eagle security vessel jumps in and scans me. The resulting chase is a close one. Thankfully, my shields hold, with barely a sliver though, and I am away.
On my way to base, I am tempted by an unidentified signal (US). Lots of ships in there. My first k-scan of a Viper reveals only a clean slate. As I turn towards the next, I get scanned by it in return. This is when I realize that it does not make much sense to go hunting for bounties while with a bounty yourself. The Viper attacks me, but I cannot shoot back as I am the "criminal" in this bugged case. So, jump out, thankfully unharmed.

The wanted fee is 293 CR. The loss of time and effort is more annoying, though. I clear the bounty, at least I think I do, but when I launch I am still wanted. Sigh. Quickly out, loop back in.

Since I somehow made this system to my hunting grounds, I might as well get aquainted with all stations in here. Set course for Cleve Hub. Always scanning for victims, of course, but this time my flight time is eventless.^The most interesting thing to know is the available outfits, of course. As I hate inefficiency, some noting of high supply or demand commodities does not hurt.

 - Maine Hub is a small outpost, and they to like tobacco over there 

Bingo. A cargo rack with 4 tons is ready available here. Finally. And that´s it.  Now that I have access to a good range of cargo racks, given all those lucrative haul contracts, I deside to exchange my Eagle for a Hauler. Commodity analysis already indicates some good potential profits, too. But first, I want to continue my analysis. Russel Ring. A Sidewinder tries to interdict me but fails. Mcmahon Dock.  Silverster City. Maine Hub. After this, my first route, plus some fetch missions ( 4 fish, 6 grain), is from Ackerman Market to Maine Hub (both have a black market, too). Should make good profit, bringing Fish or Coffee to Maine Hub.´The only problem is: What is the round trip? No high demand items are eyecatching, so I have to look for medium commodities, too.

I am interrupted by an inderdiction. Did not see it coming, should pay more attention. The Sidewinder starts in firing position and with worries I see my shields going down too quickly in order to make it away. So I engage. The sidewinder will now experience what it is to try a hauler piloted by a former bounty hunter! After a short dance, the sidewinder joins the void, and I happily scoop the two cans of liquor which it lost. Conveniently, Ackerman Market has a black market.

Docking there at high speed in order to avoid scans for my liquor. They pay nicely for repairs. I fill up my 18 ton cargo capacity and launch. In my haste to undock, I forget to analyse the market for a round trip. So it will stay a single trip, but maybe I should take time for an indepth look, now that I know most of the markets in Eravate.

- Ackerman Market, Eravate, is the main trading hub

Which makes me discover a 1100 CR profit if I bring tobacco from Ackerman Market to Maine Hub. On my way back, I am interdicted again. This time, it is an Eagle. That might make things difficult. I figure there are no chances to really get away from a nimble ship like this, so I engage. I works well enough, the Eagle pilot is in for a surprise. However, I panick when that ship suddenly launches missiles; boost! This boost carries me out of close range, at the same time reducing maneuverability of my hauler to near zero, thereby giving the nimble plenty of opportunity to line up his guns. My shields are fried and hull down to 80% after this mistake. Then I am back in the dogfight and can finally nail the bastard. The bounty is just 427 CR, but at least enough to pay for the repairs...

Some more runs between Ackerman Market (load tobacco) and Maine Hub (load basic medicines). In my sloppy routine, I do not read a contract properly and mix up agri-medicinces with basic medicines. No freaking system in range sells agri-medecines, I am screwed with that contract. But why should I care, since I just do commodity trading, anyways. It is probably time to look for trans-system routes, as this one is not good enough if I want high profit also on the round trip.

The trips are tense. I evade two more interdictions, and I still have all my wealth invested into tobacco. 13 units and 149 CR left in my pocket. You do not want to be interdicted and shot down in this situation...

After five or six runs, I have enough capital to afford a full load of tobacco. This gives me 18.000 CR profit for a short trip of 290 ls, a sum which would be very time consuming and difficult to earn as a mere bounty hunter in this early stage of the game. However, more is possible, e.g. a round trip with >1000 CR profit each. It will take some time to find one, but it is worth it in the long run.

Next session, as this one has to end. With 109.971 CR, I leave the game rather content.