Executing the strategy as discussed in my last post. Worked well.
1. Get into combat with your easy to replace starter ship.
The bulleting board in the stations were a mess; permanent inacessible and kicking me from the server.
"wild west"-thread in the ED forum, but somehow it got erased; I noted it was also erased in the forum thread and wonder what the copy&paste of a graphic via the left click menu actually does with a given graphic file; well, it is not there anymore and I am too lazy to look for a substitute
So, I just launched and went for a patrol through the I Bootis system. I tried to get a feeling for the new communication interface, but it feels clumsy, and once I am ready to contact another player (target ship, open console, start typing chat), the other ship has already passed by in supercruise.
I went through about 10 unidentified signals. I learned that these are apparently pings on the supercruise radar where some ships or mass is spotted. I encountered various things, a nice random generator:
- Security vessels scanning another ship, sometimes initiating combat with it; I joined wherever possible and gained one or two cheap bounty vouchers this way (learned later that you have to exchange the vouchers in the station of the same system where you earned them).
- Haulers and Lakon-type freighters, who apparently just dropped out of their supercruise and wait to re-engage; some of them have wanted status, so I shot those but never managed to destroy them before they warp away again. However, if you whittle them down far enough, they jettison their cargo. The third time I was super lucky and a Lakon-6 hauler jettisoned a dozen untis of personal weapons. I was sad that my cargo hold could only hold 4 of them, but those 4 already earned me 15.000 credits on the black market, which fortunately happens to be in the same system at Chango Dock. I tried to got back to the location and could not find a way to do so; apparently, unidentified signals get erased once you "accept to enter" one of them; this was annoying because sometimes I saw three of them, but after I finished the first zone, the other two unidentidied signals were gone and I had to look someplace else.
- Pirates. I even managed to kill an overconfident Sidewinder, but not without loosing some chunks of armor myself; this pirate was probably equipped with railguns, because I was into 73% hull already after two shots. The other pirates always got away from me into warp; very apparently, my starter Sidewinder ship has not enough pew-pew power.
- Neutral civilst or mercenarys, sometimes with "wanted"-status. Once I became over-confident and engaged a Cobra Mk3. After all, I had bested those ships already in the offline-combat mission ("Incursion"). However, this particular Cobra sported extra punch in the form of guided missiles; while I manged to stay close, the Cobra nevertheless managed to turn around, get a lock on me and launch a volley of six missiles from very close range. After the first volley I was already down into hull, and the second volley ejected me out of my exploding ship. I "wake up" back in Eranin and chose the starter-Sidewinder for free (there was another Sidewinder to choose for 1600 credits, no idea why I should choose that one). Hence, my strategy was right to stick to the PvE part while using the starter Sidewinder. I concluded that it was now probably time to shift to another play style and go to phase 2 of my strategy, to ...
Thanks to my "personal weapons"-raid, I had a nice financial cushion, which I bolstered with one or two more trade runs on the trade route I know well by now; I Bootis (fish) - Aulin (agri-medicine) - Eranin (grain) - Aulin (agri-medicine) - Eranin. Profits have dropped a bit since because more players find out about it. After some time, I had about 32.000 cr. It was time to buy a Hauler-class ship!
The Hauler allows me to quadruple my profit on each route; instead of 4 cargo slots, I have now 16. I spend the rest of the evening doing one or two runs on one route and then finding another one. It works well to check the high supply goods and use a bit of imagination which type of system could use this type of product.
Trying to also bring in the exploring element, I studied the galaxy map, trying to make sense of the colour codes and dotted lines out there, which are not connected to where I am. However, it seems that most systems which are farther away from the the "starter center" where I am, are poor or not very well mixed; in one corner there are three agricultural systems and one industrial, in another only extraction systems with one refinery system. I conclude that those areas are better left for explorers and soldiers of fortune only, but not for traders.
After some time trading around I realized that I was starting to scribble down notes about all high demand and high supply goods, in order to check each system for the best profit routes. This is when I remembered this thread in the forum.
Now, there are discussions about in how far external tools are considered good for a healthy gameplay and when do they remove gameplay by just doing everything for you. I myself also started a thread a while ago (which apparently got merged into another because I do not find it anymore) about "trading like in the middle age", and this topic has been reflected in several other threads (this one being with some nice humor about it). But one argument I found fairly convincing; if the tool just helps you taking down notes, then it is mere convenience and leaves the gameplay with you.
With this in mind, I downloaded and installed the .exe from Slopey (link is in the thread mentioned above). Now I had access to a fairly accurate analysis of supply and demand on each station, downloaded from all players who use this tool and updated whenever sb docks and opens the commodity menu.
- Hey, thanks, Slopey! Very much appreciated!
Currently docked in Asperus Prime, I immediately identified one of the probably maximum profit routes available, right going from here, saving me the travel time needed to Dahan just for writing down stuff and discovering it after comparing written notes; ah nice to live in the future and not the middle age! The trade route involves bringen catalysators to Dahan and Cobalt back to Asperus Prime, netting overall about 10.000 Cr in a one-jump round-about. Nice! This is how I spent the rest of my game session, with a nice cushion of about 50.000 Credits at its end.
Observation in between: Comparing the tool's output with the galaxy map, there obviously are more profitable runs out at the fringe from the "starter center", but they are single-route runs. There was e.g. one from an extraction to a refinery system, in a corner where you had only those two types of systems. I think I can do more profit here in the "starter center", because the return travel yields here some profit, too, which is not the case out there.
Aaand, now I go for the weekend! Summer party and travels, so my Elite ventures are on a small pause now.