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)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Asp trade and some experimental action

Heff. A tough day at work, having to catch up on things. Afterwards, I did not feel like writing down stuff, but neither wanted to continue in Elite while not having documented my last session properly, so I instead gave Civilisation: Beyond Earth another chance.
Pan-Asian faction plus starting worker seems to be THE killer builder-build; at least I spot no equivalent-good alternative, which again makes the game pretty one sided in my book. I go for prosperity virtues straight into getting a free colonizer, then the free worker, and presto, I was miles ahead in the land-grabbing phase and super productive due to the many and fast land improvements. In order to be left alone by the opponent AI, just give them open borders for free, and they are mollified for most of the game.
I started my last quick save from around turn 150 and brought it to around turn 300, and finished with the "contact alien civilisation" victory, after a lot of dawdling and raising both supremacy and purity affinities in parallel to 10+. (I set the difficulty to "Vostok", a bit higher than the standard difficulty, but not up to the level where the AI opponents get to cheat). As a nice story-moody twist, the most advanced opponent was focusing on bringing earth settlers to this planet, while I concentrated in parallel to contact that mysterious alien civilisation. Due to my dawdling, both our last phases were pretty close to each other. A kind of interfactional cooperation as I would want it to happen for the sake of all humanity.
In the end, the victory is acknowledged by one measly pop up window, nothing explained, who we contact, how they reply, when why they were on the planet before, etc. Nothing. Well, that´s a bit too little, even for my imaginary mind. This game is such a joke for any decent player of the good old Alpha Centauri!

Move on citizen, nothing to see here, go back to reporting on my last sessions in Elite: Dangerous.

- no need for warm boots

The cash from my trading and the outfitting vendor in one of the many industrial systems around here allows me to quickly upgrade my Asp-class spaceship. She is a marvel of utility! A cargo hold of now 152 tons capacity boosted my profit per route to 170k Credits, which makes me feel like trading back in the "old days" during beta1. Next investment is a fuel scoop, because it is super fun to dive down into the furnace of a star and it makes my efficiency-kobolt within me cackle with joy, to even save fuel costs with this spectacle!

As I power onwards on my profitable short-range trade route between Alrai and LHS 140, I encounter several times the Cobra of CMDR Auzawandilaz. More competition? I guess this route can take it!

- close encounter in super cruise

After some more runs, I find and can upgrade to: a C4 scanner (6km range), a C5 powerplant (which drops ship heat now down to 38%), D5 thrusters. The nomenclature is a it confusing but easy once understood. The letter stands for the quality, with "A" being the best, while the number stands for the maximum size which the ship can fit and usually also requires in order to work properly.

Time is scarce and I have to leave the game for a while. Coming back for another session, re-engaging in my trade route, I notice that profits have dropped to 140k/150k. Hm, maybe the route cannot take so much competition after all? It is probably time to look for a new route. But not before I invest into new and better frameshift drives, reinvesting my profits as available: class D4 gives me a range of 16 ly empty / 12 ly fully laden.

Since profits dropped, I fire up again my spreadsheet-notes. Hmm... there is an option to sell Alrai´s gold also to LS 1446, Bosch Settlement. However, it is a bit of a tedious route, as Bosch Settlement is some 13.000 ls out from the main star, a white dwarf, around a seperate twin star system consisting of a a yellow star coupled with a brown dwarf. Exotic? Or not so, I think I remember having seen this kind of multi-star systems already several times on my travels.

 - Exotic, for a primitve earthling

On top, fuel scooping is not possible at the white star, so I will have to settle a longer period in Alrai´s yellow star´s atmosphere.

Doing the numbers, I conclude that the profit should be worth the extended travel time: Gold is in supply for 9002 Credits and sells for 10338 Credits/unit, to bring back superconductors for 6184 Credits/unit and sell it for 7496 Credits. A whopping profit of roughly 360.000 Credits for a round trip (@ 152 tons)!

I ask myself, should I talk about this route in my blog after all? And risk that too much competion will arive from avid blog readers? Yes! I hate this business secret things. In real life and thus especially also in a game. Yes, keeping things for yourself will give you an edge. But it will also harm progress as a whole. In my experience, the society/the community does evolve better and faster when you share things. Even your short term edge over others fades in comparision when everybody shares his knowledge, therefore leading for greater progress of everybody involved. A little analogy is car traffic: In the 70s, here in Germany car traffic was about beeing a faster and stronger driver, not taking much care about other participants. Nowadays, professional or daily drivers realize that they fare better when contributing to a good flow of the traffic, even when it means to let others pass and not get ahead no matter the cost (you do realize this, do you!?!). Real life businesses like Elon Musk´s Tesla and Google have understood this. This is the 21st century, the age of open source. And guess what, it is not communism and competition still is possible and necessary.

 - station eclipse

Uhm, ok, where was I? Right. New trade route, 14,9 ly distance. A tiny obstacle is my D4 frameshift drive, which allows only 12 ly fully laden. If I can only go via a two-jump route I would rather stay with my current trade route. After some search and trading, I find and can affort a C5 drive. This gives me 20 ly / 14 ly. A fracture too less for a one-jump route. Less weight, and I get less weight by downgrading the fuel tank from 32 to 16 tons. Hrm, still 0,2 ly missing. Ok, kick out those so far unnecessary loaned pulse lasors. Yep, now my Asp´s range is 14,92 ly fully laden, great!

The long supercruise in LS 1446 gives me time to contemplate, cross-check my spreadsheet, or write down some notes for this blog. And the view. Did I mention already that the current colour scheme for the milky way suits perfectly? Dear Frontier, just a little bit more flaryness and a finer resolution, please!

After some time on my new trade route (I have to admit, it feels like hours, a bit grindy), I am able to afford a C5 drive (25 / 18,4 ly). And a new better fuel scope; fuel draw is considerable at this jump distance and the time spent to refuel rather long. A new D2 fuelscoop enables me to sit in the star´s atmosphere at constant 94% heat while at the same time scooping 50 units of fuel per second. Much, much better!

 - sun bathing

On my travels also happens the odd interdiction, but always only security vessels and I almost always manage to escape the interdiction attempt. Time spent in supercruise or at the star makes me check my spreadsheet for another alternative: LHS 215, but in the end I realize that my current route between Alrai and LFT 1446 still is the best so far.

After some more time, I finally get bored and consider to have a sufficient financial cushion of 2 million Credits. I wouldn´t want to spend the next four game sessions grinding this route just to be able to upgrade to the next big thing in town; the Impereal Clipper (22 mio Credits). Maybe another time, as I yearn now for some change, a little bit more action!

So I start dabbling in armaments: The Asp has four class 1 and two class 2 weapon mounts. At first I try a "railgun-only" outfit, but my ship´s powergrid is not able to support this, even when putting all non-combat-essential modules on second priority. A total of 129% load on my powergrid. So I switch them out for 2 x C2beams and 4 x E1gimbal multicannons. I also buy all available "action-tools" - which are almost too many already: cargo, kill warrant, frameshift wake scanners plus hatch breaker (not to forget buying "limpets"/ammo for the the latter), frameshiftdrive interdictor. This accounts all in all for 106% load on the power grid. I can deal with this load by setting priorities for the modules in the ship´s rightmenu.

So I think, until I have to realise in my first engagements that the module prioritisation resets every drop from supercruise. How annoying is this! My first test against a "wanted" hauler goes nevertheless well after this initial confusion; imagine you deploy weapons and just to find yourself emergency locked in your airsuit and your ship drifting about without control. Also, having to fit three scanners plus hatchbreaker plus two weapon types into firegroups presents some challenge; it gets easy to confuse the current firegroup and difficult to memorize which mouse button activates which toy in each firegroup (the HUD display and left/righ mouse button do sometimes not converge, but you cannot control where is displayed what in the HUD). I would be happy if Frontier would reduce/merge the scanner types and streamline the HUD a bit. Thus, my first own interdiction fires off by accident. I was just lucky that the poor hauler which I had testwise in target was actually wanted!

After initial tests, for maximum efficiency, I want to combine scanning, interdicting and combat with some more missions in order to raise my reputation with the faction "Blue Creative One" (situated in Suri Park, Anlave system). So far, my standing did not move an inch.

In the end, this proves to be a bit too much to handle, too many new things at once. They say, "bring me 12 stolen computer components". So I look on the galaxy map´s trade view to see where the according trade streams come from or go to. I identify first and select LP 50 (?). (My notes are getting scetchy at this point - a sure sign of me getting tired and would have fared better to get some sleep. See in the following what happens instead...mostly a recollection from my memory.)

- landing; already looking forward towards "walking in station" feature

Leaving the station, I spot a "wanted" sidewinder. I scan it with my kill warrant scanner and attack it, as soon as we both have left the "no-fire"-zone. The sidewinder has no chance. That is, until it loops around and some stray fire from my gimballed multicannons apparently hit the station. Suddenly, I am surrounded by 5 additional red blips. And they flash very angryly. Uh-oh.

What was meant as a mere warm-up combat exercise hath wrought big trouble. I hit boost and engage frameshift. Shield flickers and dies under concentrated enemy fire. And the saving light of hyperspace - does not appear. Instead, something flashes red on my vision´s periphery; "Error. Frameshift drive could not engage." What is this? Checking modules, it indeed is slightly damaged, at 97%, but a total malfunction already??? Panicked, I hit the button repeatedly, but this is not the Millenium Falcon and I have no R2D2 aboard which is flicking some switch on in the bowels of my ship. (But my wife could for sure hear me shouting like Han Solo "NO, Noo, nonononono....not my fault!")

Very much fortunately, I had also invested in the meanwhile into a stronger power reactor and coupling, so I can boost almost permanently. This carries and keeps me out of firing range of that swarm of red flashy blips. I am caught in an endless race, and only a logout makes the red blips finally let me go. Whew.

It takes a while - and a short visit to the ED forums after logging out - to figure out the culprit. It is the galaxy map. That target system, LP 50 (?), is actually out of the allowed traversable bubble for this beta3 client. Switching my nav target lets me engage hyperjump without a problem. Facepalm!

After this episode, my search of a ship with a load of computer components does not get better. Instead I get repeatedly distracted by passing ships which have a wanted-status. Like that Cobra. It jumps away, so I can first time try out the frameshift wake scanner. Bling. Scan. Then, engage hyperjump while the wake is target. Does not work, have to aligned. I turn around again and align to the wake. Nothing. Ooh; I have to align to the target system which the scan reveiled! Which, oddly enough, is the completely opposite direction of which the Cobra actually jumped itself.... hm. Ok, this was not very obvious, and scratch one off on the dashboard of suspension of disbelief.

As I finally catch up, I arrive in Wolf 46, and the Cobra thankfully still cruises around in front of my nose. Interdiction hunt is exciting, then I got him to normspace and fire away. Agh, those firegroups, and did I already kill-warrant him? Quick, shoot him before he jumps away! Hectic, but he goes down. 5040 Credits bounty. At least, this will compensate me for the rep costs from the earlier episode.

Some more prowling at the station, then in supercruise around the station, but no ship with computer components. One interdiction attempt does not work, I am right at this hauler´s six, but the device does not fire. Does this thing need ammo? Forgot to check; so far it has fired without problems.

An unidentified signal distracts me. Maybe I can find a freighter with computer components in there? Drop in. No; just two security vessels, and two "clean" civil vessels. I start scanning one of them with the kill-warrant scanner; maybe he is not so clean after all? Whoops. Both civil ships suddenly turn red and shoot me at point blank! Shields die until I have again accumulated sufficient speed to evade fire.

My combat skills are a bit rusty, indeed, so I am very grateful for the two security vessels intervening on my behalf. For one of those two culprits, I manage to secure the kill and thus the bounty. Whew.

A lot of unexpected things, things not working as thought or just not working out as planned. I am tired now, and indeed, as I look on the watch, my engagement in this game session was overlong. Time to log off. Scratch that stolen-goods-mission! Next time I will want to not put too much on my plate.

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