Elite: Dangerous Blog

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Tips for beginners: Shipyard and Outfitting

elite_noob

Building a ship is complicated and expensive, so it's helpful to know what all the modules of a ship are for and what is involved in assembling them into the ship you want.

All players are created equal, but depending on how much you play Elite and how fast you gain experience on the almost-vertical learning curve, very few Commanders stay that way.

Surprisingly the Sidewinder is a highly adaptable multi-role ship, with a very respectable 24Ly light range when upgraded, but most players want to move on from the “start ship” as soon as they can.

So what ship will you choose and how will you equip it? That depends on budget entirely. However, the principle budget requirements are the same; as a rule, whatever the basic hull of a ship costs, the cash needed to outfit the ship will at least equal that cost again. You will likely need to spend 300K CR outfitting a 300K CR Cobra once you've bought it and have enough cash left over for rebuy of the resulting build.

An “A Rated” Cobra can cost over 8M CR, so don’t get carried away on your first build!

One other, final consideration, is the size of your ship. Outposts only have Small and Medium landing pads, so the moment you upgrade to a Large pad ship, you rule out visiting outpost locations. You'll never dock your Type-7 or Anaconda at Hutton Orbital!

Where to shop

Not all stations sell ships or parts. Stock of both varies around the galaxy. Most outposts won’t even have a shipyard. You need to find a system where you can buy the ship you want AND have a decent enough outfitting stock, that you can equip you ship well.

Why does that matter? Early on in the game I went to a system and bought a Viper Mk III and sold my Sidewinder. I then found the station outfitting only sold E rated Frame Shift Drives (same as I had), so there I was, in a system 9Lyr from the next system in a ship with 7.9Lyr jump range and no option (even with the credits) to buy a better FSD. Don’t get stranded like I did.

Find a suitable system in the galaxy map. In the galaxy map, select the View TAB, pick Economy view; select Refinery and High Tech, and opt to filter by population, raising the minimum to past the half-way point. A high tech, high population system will ensure the stations will be well stocked.

You can cheat by looking on www.eddb.io and searching for stations that stock the ship you desire. Also check the availability of FSD drives that are A-D rated, for the reason I already stated – you don’t want to get marooned in your new ship.

CMDR Echologi on Reddit reminded me that all stations in the control of Li Yong-Rui offer a 15% discount on Ships and Modules. That can save a ton of cash! Also, anyone who has reached Elite rank can visit Jameson Memorial station in Shinrarta Dezhra which always has every ship and module and a 10% discount on everything.

Head to the system and station of your choice to get started.

Sell or store?

You’ve got a sack of cash and you’re sitting in the showroom, but do you part-exchange the old bucket of bolts, or keep it and opt for fleet expansion? That’s down to personal preference and budget. If you’ve got the money, why the hell not? But it is very easy to become a ship hoarder. Take it from someone that owned every ship in the game until recently, you can just end up keeping ships for the sake of it. Bragging rights aside, do you need it? Will you use it? Have you got the money? If the answer is no to any of those questions, sell.

Remember: When you sell modules, you get back what you paid. BUT when you sell the ship, you lose 10%, so downgrade every core module to E rated and sell all hardpoints, utility modules and optional internals before you sell the ships hull. That will reduce your losses. Also consider storing any hard-to-get modules or weapons, if they can be fitted to your new vessel.

Into the Shipyard you go

You’ve made your choice, spent your credits and purchased a new ship hull. What next? Well, all ships come in a (just) flyable state, but they are poorly equipped with only core internal modules and no optional equipment. The first stop you must make is station outfitting.

Class and efficiency

No, I'm not talking about butlers! All modules in Elite: Dangerous are rated to a class number (size) and (heat efficiency) letter.

Class 1 is the smallest, to Class 8 the largest. E rated is worst heat efficiency and A rated is the best. With the letter rating for internal modules D rated is always lightweight, being the lowest weight in class and B rated is always armoured, making it the heaviest and toughest in each class.

For a trade-ship or exploration ship, you'll want D rated internals for low weight giving the best possible jump range. However, a combat build would want the best means of heat dispersal and maximum power distribution, so you'd A rate all the internals on your combat ship.

Do not make the mistake of buying a module that is a class below the one required by the ship. What do I mean? If your Cobra needs a Class 4 Power Plant, while a Class 2 or 3 plant can be fitted and will be a lot cheaper and lighter and maybe even A rated, it is below specification for your ship. It would suck if, on take-off your ship lacks the power for more than life-support and you float over the pad until the station kills you for loitering. Using lower-classed modules can be done and can add advantages for weight and cost, but you need to have a good understanding of power management and the ship’s limitations before you try this.

Hardpoints

Turret, Gimbal or fixed? While weapon mounts are (to a degree) down to preference, the optimum mount to use depends on the agility of the ship, the experience of the commander and the role of the ship.

Fixed weapons offer the highest damage per second (DPS) and lowest power consumption, but you need dead-on aim to hit your target.

 Gimbal mount weapons consume more power and have a lower DPS, they offer the option of target tracking (auto-aim) within a defined area of the pilot view. While they may not hit as hard, you are more likely to hit the target.

 Turret mount weapons have a similar or slightly higher power consumption than gimbal, but have full target tracking and automatic fire (in two modes – target-only & fire-at-will). Once you fire at a target, the turret weapon will continue to fire until the target is out of range or killed. What’s more, the turret can fire 360 degrees around it’s hardpoint, so can shoot at targets out of the pilot’s view.

Fixed weapons produce a line of fire, Gimbal weapons produce a cone of fire and Turret weapons produce a dome of fire. Fixed are always the cheapest and Turrets the most expensive. Not all weapons are available in Turret or Gimbal mounts.

For different weapon types, read my detailed article “Guns and ammo”.

Utility mounts

The ship’s utility mounts are used to fit scanners and counter-measures.

Chaff and Electronic Counter Measures are explained in detail in the “Guns and Ammo” article referenced above.

Heat Sink Launcher

In space, keeping cool is problem. Because your ship is in a vacuum, you cannot use conduction or convection to disperse heat, so you can only radiate heat (hence the giant heat vents on all ships).
The heat sink is a utility mount item that drains the ship’s hot coolant into a metal disc shaped like a hockey puck and fires it into space, replacing the old hot coolant with new cold liquid. Quite literally throwing the ship’s heat away into space.
While the Heat Sink is a form of counter measure for heat seeking missiles, it is also an essential tool for keeping the ship cool in extreme circumstances.

Explorers use them for when their ship drops out of hyperspace too close to very hot large star (or twin stars) and the ship is so hot, a frame shift jump would destroy the ship. By using a heat sink while the FSD charges, the temperature is kept below dangerous levels.

Combat pilots use them (not just as countermeasure) but also to reduce heat in combat, especially when utilising Shield Cells which produce a great deal of heat when operated.

Scanners

The Kill Warrant Scanner is used in bounty hunting and searches the target “wanted” ship’s registry in galactic police database and adds any bounty vouchers from outside the current system onto the amount already shown. This can increase the bounty rewards by as much as double.

The Cargo Scanner is used by pirates to determine what cargo a ship is carrying. No point getting into a fight over bio-waste!

The Frame Shift Wake Scanner is a means to collect data from low and high wakes left behind when a ship jumps to super-cruise or hyper-space respectively. Bounty hunters use them to track which system a target ship has gone when they jump to hyper-space, putting the destination in their navigation computer, allowing the bounty hunter to give chase into the next star system.

Core internals

All ships have the same core systems. They just vary in size and cost. The big ones cost a lot! A Class 1A Shield Generator costs 79,268 CR, while a Class 8A costs 146,327,841 CR.

Bulkheads

The ship’s bulkheads make up the primary armour that protects the ship’s systems (and you) from damage when the shields are down. The basic armour is designated Lightweight Alloy and is just a standard hull. Reinforced Alloy in much heavier and offers better protection from explosive and kinetic damage (bombs & bullets). Military Grade Composite is almost twice as heavy as Reinforced and increased hull integrity.

Finally, there are two types of specialist bulkhead. Mirrored Surface Composite and Reactive Surface Composite. These two options trade off thermal resistance for kinetic protection (and vice versa) to offer specific protection. In simple terms Mirrored is laser resistant and Reactive is bullet resistant.

Reactor Bay

The power plant is the heart of the ship. Without power, you die. When selecting your power plant, it is advisable to pick this module before anything else. Then you can see, as you add other modules and (critically) weapons, if your power plant can supply the Mega Watts (MW) you require.

Thruster Mounting

Your thrusters don’t just decide how fast your ship travels in normal space, but also its agility. The speed of roll, pitch and yaw will improve (or worsen) depending on the thrusters you’ve equipped.

Always be careful to make sure your thrusters capable of lifting the weight of your ship, laden and unladen, especially if using lower class modules or you’ll buy one ton of cargo and be unable to take off!

FSD Housing

By use of the Frame Shift Drive, you ship can enter super-cruise allowing faster-than-light space travel. It can also open a hyperspace window into a realm called witch-space, which permits your ship to make interstellar journeys of tens of light years in as many seconds. The witch-space realm was thought to be the home of the Thargoids, at least only they have been known to travel in witch-space and hyperdict ships (arrest a frameshift jump).

The size of the Frame Shift Drive and its efficiency rating determine your ship’s jump range and how hot your ship gets when charging for a jump. Jump range is affected by ship weight. Cargo, extra bulkheads; even a full tank of fuel will lower the distance your ship jumps.

Overloading your Frame Shift Drive with a heavy ship will turn your craft into a shuttle. You won’t jump anywhere!

Also, the further you jump in a single go, the more fuel you use. You can travel many times further using short “economic” jumps than in long jumps using the same fuel.

Which FSD should you buy? The best one you can afford. Just make sure your power plant is up to the task.

Environment Control

Life support is quite important. It’s the device than keeps you alive. It also has an “emergency mode” when your canopy is blown out. When that happens, the better rated your Life Support, the longer the oxygen will keep flowing. A basic E rated Life Support system gives 5 minutes oxygen while the A rated module gives 25 minutes.

If you are taking a ship into combat (especially a Vulture, which has a fragile canopy) the A rated Life Support would be recommended.

Power Coupling

The Power Distributor is the buffer (and often the bottleneck) between your power plant and the ships systems, weapons and thrusters. The higher rated your distributor, the larger the power capacitance of the three power systems and the faster they recharge.

I will explain about power balance and module priority later on, but the key feature of any power supply is that the power stays on when you need it to be there and the juice is coming fast enough for your purposes, so if that is combat, you need A rated power plants.

Sensor Suite

Ships sensors are used for scanning whatever object you target. Apart from stars and planets which can be scanned from a larger distance due to their size, most objects in space must be within a set distance and in front of the ships target reticule in order to scan the. For an A rated sensor the scan range is 6.94km, while the E rated module only starts working at 4.64km – unless they’ve been engineered.

For traders, explorers and miners, you probably want the D rated sensors as weight will be the biggest consideration. For combat ships, the A rated might be favourable, as if “you see them before they see you” then you’ve got an advantage. However, high rated modules use more power, which makes it a choice between seeing them sooner, or shooting them for longer.

Fuel Store

The fuel tank holds the hydrogen fuel that runs your power plant and fuels the Frame Shift Drive. Extra tanks can be added to the optional internals, but initially the size of your core fuel tank will dictate how many jumps your ship can make between stations. At least until you equip a Fuel Scoop.

Optional internals

These modules will vary depending on the size of your ship and your intended career path in the game.

Types of optional internal module

Module Name Description

Auto-field maintenance unit

This module will carry out repairs on your ship on systems not in use, including your canopy. The one exception is your power plant, as you cannot turn that off to repair it without dying.

Cargo racks

These hold cargo canisters. Cargo space is also used to hold limpet drones for your limpet controllers.

FSD Interdictor

The Frame Shift Drive Interdictor is a type of jamming device that when used on another target ship in super-cruise will cause their drive to fail and the ship to drop back to normal space where they are then vulnerable to attack.

Fuel tanks

Each ship comes with a basic fuel tank, but additional tanks can be added to increase the overall range of the ship between refuelling stops.

Fuel Scoop

A Fuel Scoop is a very useful module that allows your ship to collect hydrogen fuel from the corona of some stars if you fly close enough. The bigger the scoop, the faster it collects fuel.

Fighter Hangar

Fighter Hangars hold one or two one-man deployable ships. These can be flown by you while the helm is on autopilot, or can be flow by crew you employ, or by other CMDRs in multicrew.

Planetary Vehicle Hangar

This module is your Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle bay and is needed if you want to leave your ship on planet surfaces.

Collector limpet controller

Something which saves a lot of tedious manual cargo-scooping. The controller dispatches drones, called limpets, which fly out of your ship, collect mined ore, or cargo canisters and return them to your cargo scoop.
Handy tip: if you have a ship large enough, you can have multiple controllers.

Fuel transfer limpet controller

Rather than collect something, this controller will dispatch a limpet with 1T of fuel from your own ship and deliver it to a target ship. This is used to rescue ships in distress and other CMDRs who have run out of fuel. The tool of choice for a Fuel Rat!

Hatch breaker limpet controller

If you destroy a ship, you may (if very lucky) find some cargo in the remains, but if you have a hatch breaker limpet controller, you can send drones at the target ship to pop open their cargo hold – at which point, the bounty will come falling out.

Prospector limpet controller

You can, when mining shoot anything and the rock will produce ore or not. And the ore produced could be anything (within the chemical ranges of that solar system).
However, a prospecting limpet controller will tell you what is in a rock, how much is there, how much you’ve mined already AND increase the yield.
If you are mining and have the space, this is an essential tool.

Economy class cabins

Like the Japanese pod hotels, these are functional but far from salubrious accommodations when being transported. But it does pack ‘em in!

Business class cabins

These cabins are how the corporate types like to travel. While you’ll take fewer bodies, they pay a lot better.

First class cabins

First class cabins are the top-end of cabins that can be fitted to standard ships. First class passengers can pay a lot, but also demand a great deal.

Luxury class cabins

Luxury class cabins can only be fitted to purpose-made passenger vessels, which currently are the Dolphin, Orca and Beluga.

Luxury class passengers offer the highest rewards, but frequently demand changes of destination and side-trips. You can lose cash if they get upset.

Refinery

The refinery is the module that grinds ore and stores minerals in bins (or hoppers). When each bin hits 100% of a particular metal or mineral, it is transferred to the cargo racks as 1T of cargo.
If your bins are all used, but not 100% full, refining can stop. More bins are better, but the size of the refinery is dictated by the module Class sizes available on your ship.

Shield generator

Don’t leave dock without one. Yes, you can fly without shields, but what is that cargo rack going to be worth when you’re dead?
Shields are mass-rated, so you can fly lower class shields that the maximum your ship will take (e.g. A Cobra could use 3D shields for trade or exploration, but would need 4A shields for combat).

Bi-weave shield generator

Bi-weave shields are only available in a C rated module. This means they are never as strong as standard shields. However, the bi-weave module charges faster, so a damaged shield will return to three rings and an collapsed shield will restore 1.5x faster with this type of shield.

Prismatic shield generator

These are only available to rank 3 power player members of Aisling Duval’s faction after four weeks. Prismatic shields are 20% stronger than standard, but draw a lot more power and weigh more. They are like a shield with an A rated booster built-in.

Shield cell bank

Shield cells are like a battery for quick-charging your shields. If you have every discharged a battery quickly, you’ll know it makes a lot of heat, and shield cells are just the same. In simple terms, if shields are a balloon, shield cells are small tanks of helium.

Hull reinforcement package

These modules provide bulkhead reinforcement, adding to the armour and total integrity of your ship.

Module reinforcement package

Module reinforcement packages add to the total integrity of your ships modules, making them resistant to more damage.

Docking computer

Apart from playing “The Blue Danube” the docking computer will fly your ship into a station automatically from the moment you request landing permission. The downside is it takes up a module slot and can make mistakes. Use it if you must, but don’t rely on it.

Advanced discovery scanner

When you arrive in a new system, this scanner (when mapped to a fire group) will scan the entire system.

Intermediate discovery scanner

The intermediate scanner works in the same way, but is limited to a range of 1,000Ls from the ship. Anything further out, will not be scanned.

Basic discovery scanner

The basic scanner is limited to a range of just 500Ls from the ship. Anything further out, will not be scanned.

Detailed surface scanner

For real earnings from exploration you need this planetary surface scanner. This collects the really valuable cartographic data.

 

Career specific choices

Many of the modules available at stations are mysterious items you never use. Why? Because they are for a specific purpose that is not required in your chosen line of work. A trader won’t ever need a refinery. No self-respecting honest pilot would be seen dead carrying a manifest scanner – the pirate’s tool of choice. Explorers have little use for Frame Shift Interdictors.

Here is the shopping list for each career path when ship building.

Mining

Mining is all about patience and free money. After all, you’re fishing for gold and what you pick up for nothing, when sold is pure profit.

You will want: Mining Laser(s), Cargo rack(s), Refinery, Collector Limpet Controller(s), Limpets and optionally a Prospecting Limpet Controller.

Bounty hunting

Being a bounty hunter is combat on the right side of the law. Profitable and exciting! See the galaxy and shoot people.

You will want: Mixed weapons, Kill Warrant Scanner, Frame Shift Wake Scanner, Frame Shift Interdictor, Shield Cell Bank(s), Heat Sink(s) and A Rated core internals.

Piracy

Yar, ‘tis a pirate’s life for you! Living in lawless systems and taking bounty from traders who cross ye path.

You will want: Mixed weapons, Manifest Scanner, Frame Shift Interdictor, Cargo rack(s), Shield Cell Bank(s), Heat Sink(s), Hatch Breaker Limpet Controller, Limpets and A Rated core internals.

Exploration

To visit new worlds and boldly get your name on the “first discovered” tag of as many worlds as possible.

You will want: Heat Sink(s), Advanced Discovery Scanner, Detailed Surface Scanner, Automated Module Repair Unit(s), Fuel Scoop, D rated internal modules with A rated Frame Shift Drive. Optionally you may want to add a Planetary Vehicle Hangar and SRV.

Trade

Buying and selling goods across the galaxy. The gold paint-jobs were added for traders!

You will want: Cargo rack(s), Smallest shields safely possible, D rated internal modules with A rated Frame Shift Drive. Weapons are optional, while you might want to consider a Fuel Scoop – it makes long-range trades non-stop and more profitable.

Tourism

Visiting tourist beacons and flying to Colonia and back. Cargo that talks back. A highly profitable line of work.

You will want: Passenger Cabin(s), Fuel Scoop, D rated internal modules with A rated Frame Shift Drive for the best possible jump range. Weapons are optional, but most passenger get upset when you get into a fight instead of getting them to safety.

Or… don’t specialise!

Ships like the Cobra, Python and Anaconda are classed as multi-role for a reason. If you don’t want to get stuck in a “gaming rut” switch it up. Have a passenger cabin and a cargo rack or two and a Kill Warrant scanner. Take cargo to a system, hit the Nav Beacon for a few bounties, then on to the station to cash in and collect a passenger mission. The game is what you make it.

I have the POWER!

This final section is about balancing power. When building a ship, the number of Mega Watts needed can easily exceed the about your best A rated power plant can push out. What to do? Prioritise.

How do you prioritise power?

Well, your FrameShift drive uses a lot of power, but only when it’s on. Your weapons need a lot of power, but only when your hard-points are deployed in combat. This means you can use that power for one set of systems or the other; the ship assumes you want it all at once, but in fact you never will. You see in outfitting a “Retracted” and a “Deployed” usage figure.

A neat little feature of module management is power priority. What you need to do is set those modules you won’t use in combat to a lower priority than the rest of your systems. Your ship’s computer is very smart, so when power gets low, the lower priority items get switched off first.

In practice

I have a Sidewinder (no, really I do) which has 6.4MW power output. I want to put some modules on the ship that will overload the power supply (demand more than 6.4). How far over that amount can I go?

In the Modules TAB of the systems panel, you can see I have changed the Planetary Vehicle hangar to priority 2 and the Frame Shift Drive to priority 3. All my other systems including weapons are still priority 1.

From the station outfitting I can find out how much power each of those modules uses.

The FSD uses 0.16MW and the hangar uses a whopping 0.75MW. If I add those figures to my current maximum of 6.4, then my actual deployed maximum is in fact (with these modules prioritised out) 7.31MW.

If I pop a couple of beam lasers on there, a Class 2A FSD and some Class 2C Bi-Weave shields, although the outfitting screen says I’ve exceeded the maximum of my power plant, I’m laughing because the total (7.15) is less than my new limit of 7.31MW.

Is there a downside? Yes. If you are fighting and losing and your Frameshift is offline due to power prioritisation, then folding your hardpoints will turn it back on, but there will be a time-lag before the FSD can be used. That might make the difference between getting away or getting spaced.

Tips for Beginners: Combat and bounty hunting

CMDR David Waywell on Twitter asked for a guide to Combat and Bounty hunting in the game, so here goes.

Okay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

First, you might want to read my “Shields and Armour” and “Guns and Ammo” articles – you don’t want to leave the station unprepared.

Arm up

In addition to a mix of energy and kinetic weapons, depending on your budget, you need a Kill Warrant Scanner. This can often double the pay out on any bounty. It looks up the target ship in the galactic police database and flags bounties in other jurisdictions. If the pirate has been bad in this system, chances are they’ve been just as naughty elsewhere.

Obviously as you get more credits, some can be used to tough up your ship with better shields, armour, reinforced bulkheads and reinforced modules. You may also unlock some Engineers and have them polish your guns and systems making improvements.

Another couple of handy equipment items are shield cells and shield boosters. I've explained how they work in another article, but in simple terms if your shield is a balloon, boosters make the balloon thicker and shield cells are like cans of helium to re-inflate the shield in an emergency.

Taking out another ship – first principles

In combat, you want to kill the other ship as quickly as possible, leaving them little opportunity to recover or strike back. However, you need to do things in the right order.

First, scan the ship (i.e. get them in your cross-hairs for 10 seconds). This will establish if they are “wanted” or “clean”. You don’t want to shoot the wrong ship obviously.

THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT: Until you have minimally scanned the target ship and established they are wanted, do not shoot them, or you will become wanted yourself!

Second, you want to scan the ship with your Kill Warrant Scanner.
Bind this to your secondary fire, or on another fire-group you can quickly switch to.
The scan has a progress meter and says “complete” when finished. If you look in the Contacts TAB, you’ll see the bounty on the target ship increase when this is done.

Thirdly and finally, kill ‘em dead.

Use (primarily) your energy weapon(s) to take down their shields, then switch to kinetic (e.g. Multi-cannon, missiles, etc.) to destroy their hull. If your weapons capacitor can take the strain, hit ‘em with everything or if not, alternate. When their hull reaches zero, boom!

Other tactics to use; bigger ships are harder to kill, but a less agile than smaller ships. A Cobra can waste an Elite Anaconda, simply by staying behind/below the ship and avoiding its line of fire. Don’t go head-to-head with a ship with bigger guns. Keep moving, use Chaff and try and get behind them as much as possible.
Remember that your ship turns fastest with the throttle at 50% and using manoeuvring thrusters speeds your rate of turn.
If the other ship's shields are going back up and the shields are pulsing, then they are using shield cells. Shields (even with shield cells) charge poorly if under attack, so don’t let up. Also, shield cells make a lot of heat, so if you add to that with lasers, they might just overheat their ship and blow up! Worst case, their modules might start to fail and weapons go offline.

Big ships like Anacondas can have a LOT of hull to destroy, but they also have a weakness. Their power plant. If you target their Power Generator module, you can take this to zero well before the ships hull is gone.
To target sub-systems, open your Target Panel and view the Sub Targets TAB (with the enemy ship targeted) and scroll down (or up) to "Power Plant". When you do this, the sub-system's health indicator is added to the target view. You will see a red square target reticle added to the HUD on your target ship. Aim for this to inflict maximum module damage.

Worst case scenario is they are left floating dead in space for you to kill at leisure, in many cases the chain reaction causes the whole ship to explode.

If you are in a [LOW] or [HIGH] RES with police around, you can "assist" them with their kills. Always be careful not to shoot the cops, but any ships you tag give you the full bounty, even if its the police that finish them off. For a lone player or a player in a relatively weak ship, it is a good way to make some easy kills, using the police as your Wing.

Where to find people to shoot

While combat can occur anywhere, you’ll have better luck going to the right places if you want to claim bounties on those pirates.

For bounty hunting, you can always find a few likely targets at the Nav Beacon in any inhabited system - this is "combat light" as there are mostly going to be clean ships just passing through and only a few targets will be wanted. It's a good place for a new CMDR to learn the basics of bounty hunting and also for any player to "test fire" their weapons in a low risk situation.

The really rich picking are always to be found in Resource Extraction sites, which come in four flavours. The basic RES is much like a Nav Beacon, then you graduate to a [LOW] RES which will have small ships and police presence, a [HIGH] RES which will have larger ships and more frequent bandits and a small police presence and finally the [HAZARDOUS] RES where there are no police - you are on your own here - and ships up to Anacondas can (any mostly will) be hostile. This is Wing and Battlecruiser territory. Unless your ship is highly equipped for combat, the player experienced or you are in a Wing with a group of CMDRs who will watch each other's backs, then don't venture into these locations.

Where do you find RES sites? They exist in rocky and icy rings around planets (where mining is to be found). Simple check a system map for a planet with rings. When you get to within 1,000ls of the planet, the Resource Extraction Sites will be shown on your Target Panel Navigation TAB.

Combat Zones are two-factions war zones in systems in a war/civil war state and kills here reward the player with Combat Vouchers, not bounty. It can be profitable, but the rewards are fixed rate, not variable so generally Combat Zones pay less.

Don’t risk what you cannot afford to lose

Never a truer phrase was coined than "Never fly without rebuy!". If you have only a small amount of Credits, little more than your ship rebuy cost, then you should not fly into combat. Sooner or later in combat, somebody will come along and kill you. Be prepared. If you can't take that heat, stay out of the kitchen.

With that in mind, before you fly out to that RES and risk it all on the turn of a laser, dock at the nearest station to the RES. That way, if you DO die, your ship will be returned somewhere local when you rebuy.

You also want to return to station to cash in your bounties. It's no good making millions, only to lose them before you can cash in.

Too many commanders spend all their spare credits (even their rebuy) on shiny new lasers or armour then get killed and are left back in a Sidewinder. Don't be one of them!

Look before you leap

So you are just about to open up all guns on that Eagle you just scanned, when you notice something. The ship is in a Wing. Now if it is a Wing of two Sidewinders and you are in a Python, then "meh, so what?". But if you are in a Cobra and the Eagle is escorting a Federal Gunship with fighter and second Eagle escort, picking a fight with them could be suicide.

So check the ship is not in a wing and if they are, make very sure the size and aspect of the other ships in the Wing or risk having the tiger by the tail. You'll simply get mobbed and destroyed in fast order.

Brave, brave Sir Robin knew a thing or two about combat

Sometimes or maybe often, you will get your behind kicked. At this point discretion is the better part of valour. As Sir Robin would say, "run away!".

If your shields are down, don't ignore it. Fly away from the threat and wait for them to recharge. Failing that, if you are pursued or outnumbered, fold your hard-points, boost like crazy and jump to super cruise.

Live to fight another day.

I shot the Sheriff

There you are happily plugging pirates in a RES when all of sudden all the green ships on the radar turn red and EVERY ship in sight is attacking. You are wanted!

How'd that happen? You probably shot a cop, or a clean commander accidentally. Or maybe you got gung-ho and shot someone before the basic scan was complete. Trouble is, they don't distinguish between accidents and deliberate attacks, so "friendly fire" is an immediate death sentence, either way you are now public enemy number 1. Again, run away!

If you just clipped them, then you must leave the star system and come back after 10 minutes. See the countdown in your Target panel Transactions TAB. When the status turns from minutes to "On H-Jump" the wanted status will have cleared and you can go back to the system you were in and pay your fine at the station. If you kill someone, then the situation will be more dire. You can't go back and there will a price on your head for a week. If that happens, you need to relocate your bounty-hunting to another system.

Collecting the cash

Periodically, you should return to the station and hand in the bounty you've collected. When you're running low on multi-cannon ammo is a good indicator!

In the station services, select Contacts and go to the Bounty section to hand in your vouchers and collect those credits.

If you've been using your Kill Warrant Scanner as directed, you see in your transactions TAB on the Targets Panel, that you've got bounty outside your area; for example if you are in the Federation, you'll see Alliance and Empire bounty listed as unclaimed. You can either fly to a station held by these factions and claim it or find a Broker (in some stations) who will cash these voucher in with a 25% cut for them.

 

Good luck and happy hunting CMDRs!

Tips for Beginners: Community Goals

Community Goals pop up every week, sometimes several at once. So what? Well, they are a pretty easy way to make money. Lots of money.

If ever there was a get-rich-quick scheme that was legitimate to play in Elite: Dangerous, Community Goals would be it!

Community Goals are effectively a mission that can be worked on as a collective project by all players, usually running for a week starting on a Thursday. They have tiers (target amounts like a cash-o-meter on a telethon) which if met, increase the end pay out. If the time limit is hit or the final tier reached, the mission ends.

As a player makes contributions to a goal, their efforts are rated from top 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%. 10% and Top 10 Commanders (the best of the best!). Rewards are paid from the minimum at the top 100% to the maximum for those at the top 10%, the Top 10 CMDRs getting the largest pay out of all.

Types of community goal

  • Bounty hunting – killing ships wanted in a system and handing in Bounty Vouchers
  • Building capital ships or starports – supplying one of more commodities for construction
  • Exploration – handing in cartographic data
  • Piracy – stealing illegal goods from ships
  • Trade – supplying one of more commodities
  • Wars – killing ships in Conflict Zones

All community goals are not made equal. Some are trade-related and some are combat related. They are open to everyone, but the amount of money you can make is very much dependant on the ship you own. For example a commander flying a Sidewinder with a 4T cargo capacity shipping goods to a station will have to make a LOT of trips to catch up with the CMDR flying an Imperial Cutter with a 734T cargo capacity.

Again a CMDR in a basic Type-6 trader will fare poorly in a Combat Zone compared to a CMDR flying a fully engineer Federal Corvette.

This is an example of where co-operation pays off. With a Wing of four players, while you still won’t hit big rewards in the trade goal itself, you also get 5% of the profit from your other wing-mates. Which could be 100,000CR per trip if one of them is flying a Cutter. A type-6 can score hits on ships in a combat zone, while his wing-mates in combat ships make the kill.

Where to find Community Goals

The Community Goals (or CGs) are listed at the top of the Mission Board in any station.

They are also shown as a yellow icon on the Galaxy Map.

Sign me up!

Rule number one is SIGN UP. Many a commander has handed in cargo or bounty, then realised they had not signed up to the goal FIRST and the effort was wasted. Go to the station running the Community Goal and sign up to the goal you want to play (there may be more than one) before doing anything else.

Your initial reward will be zero until you have made at least one contribution. Then, whatever happens, you will receive the minimum reward pay out. All the rewards increase at each completed tier, so the minimum reward can only get BIGGER!

Okay, so how do I get rich quick?

The typical minimum payout of one of the community goals in recent months has been somewhere around the 500,000CR mark. For a new player, getting half a million credits for shipping one ton of Grain or killing one Eagle in a Low risk Resource Extraction Site is a pretty easy way to get a rapid leg-up in the game.

This doesn't just apply to new players.

Wing up. If you and some buddies (or friendly strangers) wing up in a resource extraction site, you can pull down larger ships, watch each others backs and generally kill targets a heck of a lot faster than you could on your own. Even splitting the bounty four ways, the amounts you can make increase greatly because you dispatch ships so fast. Small ships can keep fighters off big ships. Big ships make killing those juicy Anacondas a breeze. The Wing is your friend.

But I'm a shut-in with no friends and only play in Solo mode. How do I get rich? Well, again it's easy, but you need to use the police as your Wing. This only works for Bounty Hunting CGs, but there are always a few happening, so you don't have to wait long for one to come up.
The tactic is simple. Go into a HIGH or LOW risk Resource Extraction Site (not Hazardous - they are not policed) and find and follow the police ships (green on your radar) and shoot whatever ships they are attacking. For minimum risk, go after targets with shields already down and hull under 50%. Shoot to get some hit damage, then move on. When the cops kill the target, you get paid the full bounty. Using this method a new CMDR in a Sidewinder can make 100K CR every few minutes. You only need to inflict damage to get paid.
You then hand in your bounty to the Community Goal and depending on how much time you put in over the week, you could easily get into the top 50% or even top 25%.

Imagine ending your first week in the game with 5-10CR Million!

Show me the money

Finally, don't forget to go back to the community goal station when the mission is complete and collect your rewards.


As you can see from my screenshot, pocketing 40M CR is perfectly possible! Yes, that shiny new ship or part will be yours! Mwhahahaahaha!!!

Tips for Beginners: Mining

To take up the career path of mining in Elite: Dangerous, you need some basic equipment on your ship and the location of a rocky or icy planetary ring. Having these, you can go and refine the chunks you blast off of asteroids into their base minerals or metals and sell them. Why is doing this better than buying and selling them between stations? Because there is no cost to the commodities you mine, which means every credit of their sale value is pure profit.

Mining; to some it’s the fishing of space, to others it is figuratively and actually, grinding rocks.

Equipping your ship

The absolute minimum equipment needed for mining is a refinery, some cargo racks and one or more mining lasers. This means the bar for entry into a mining career is pretty low. So what are these items for and what should I choose?

You can equip a Sidewinder with a Class 1E refinery and a single mining laser for 12,800 CR, while a single ton of Palladium can sell for over 13,000 CR, so there's money in them thar rocks!

Mining lasers

The mining lasers drill into asteroids and cause chunks containing minerals or metals to break off and float into space. You can then retrieve these chunks and pick them up in your cargo scoop to be refined. Mining lasers are fixed hard-point weapons and only come in Class 1 and Class 2 (small and medium) sizes. They are purely for mining and cannot be used to shoot other ships, so effectively remove those hard-points for defence. Unless you manage to obtain the PowerPlay reward weapons, the Mining Lance, which can function as both a mining laser and as a weapon.

For best results; two Class 2 mining lasers.

Refinery

The refinery is a specialist internal slot equipment item that takes ore from the cargo scoop, grinds it and extracts the valuable metals and minerals into bins. When these bins are 100% filled with a single commodity, they are emptied into a one ton cargo cannister and transferred to your ships cargo hold, freeing the bin for a new item (or more of the same).

The bigger and better a refinery, the more bins you get. A Class 1E refinery has one bin, while a Class 1A has four. The largest refinery is Class 4A and has ten bins. What this means is that the more bins you have, the more things you can refine at one time. If you only have two bins and find a asteroid that contains three metals, you will keep having to discard the hopper contents of the third commodity to manually "unblock" your refinery. This can be time consuming, so you must either get a refinery with enough bins to keep up with the different types of ore, otherwise you'll be throwing a lot of money into space.

The refined ore can be held in the refinery and is not considered cargo, so you can go back to mining at a later date and fill the other 50% of the bin with Gold to get that ton of cargo. Ships can also be stored with partially filled refineries.

Mining process

For best results; the biggest refinery you can afford to fit!

Cargo racks

It may seem obvious, but you do need a cargo hold to stick the refined metals and minerals into, when you have processed them. You should, for maximum profit, use all free internal slots for cargo space. The more you fill, the more credits you make.

For best results; it's all about the cargo space!

Scooping your brains out

When you are mining, you need to collect the ore into your cargo scoop. To do this manually, you must line up each fragment in your sights and click "target" then, with your cargo hatch deployed, scoop the ore from space. When the cargo scoop is deployed, your target reticule changes to a range-finder with a cross-hair. Keeping the targeted fragment in the middle of the cross-hair, slowly approach the object and it will pass below the nose of your ship and into your cargo scoop. With a clang!

Scooping

While scooping ore to fill the six ton cargo space on a Sidewinder is not too arduous, however drilling and scooping to fill a largeer cargo hold is exceedingly laborious. So, in 1.2 of Elite: Dangerous, Frontier introduced Limpets that do the work for you.

Limpets for the win

Limpets are autonomous drones that carry out tasks while under remote control from your ship. There are fuel limpets to transfer fuel, hatch-breaker limpets that help pirates break open other ships cargo hatches and (what we are interested in) collector limpets, which grab any ore, materials or canisters in range of you ship and return them to your cargo scoop.

To use collector limpets, you need a Collector Limpet Controller fitted to an internal slot on your ship. Collector Controllers come in odd number classes – 1, 3, 5 & 7. The larger the class, the more limpets you can control at once and the longer the limpets will last and the further their range. You can (unlike refineries) have multiple limpet controllers, so they stack.

My Anaconda is equipped for mining and has two Class 5 Collector Limpet Controllers, so the ship commands six limpets at once - when mining ore the limpets rapidly collect all the spoil as it leaves the asteroid.

Limpet controllers program limpet drones and these have to be purchased, like ammo, in a station. Limpets are purchased from “Restock” menu and take up one ton of cargo space per drone. How many should you buy? As a rule of thumb, you should fill your cargo hold to 50-60% capacity with drones before heading out to a resource extraction site. Since drones have a finite lifespan and can be destroyed in collisions with asteroid, there is a fairly rapid turnover of drones.

When using drones, do not target ore (or canisters or materials) as the drone that collects the targeted item will self-destruct on return to your ship. Don’t ask me why.

Prospecting

The last type of limpet controller not already mentioned is the Prospector Limpet Controller. These also come in odd (not even) class sizes (1, 3, 5 & 7). They control one or more prospector limpets. What prospector limpets do, is when fired into an asteroid, tell you what ore the asteroid contains, what percentage of ores the asteroid is composed of and finally, the percentage you have mined that asteroid.

The Prospector Limpet tells you what you’ll get, when you have depleted the asteroid of ore and the best part; the limpet increases the yield of ore you can obtain.

Prospector limpets are well worth the cost, as they help you mine asteroids for the ore you want and give you a better volume of material.

The perfect mining ship

The ideal ship for mining should have both a Collector and Prospector Limpet Controller, two Class 2 mining lasers and all remaining internal racks converted to cargo space - half full of limpets.

Show me the money!

Okay, now you have your shiny new mining ship all set, where do you go?

You can mine in asteroid belts. These are usually found between the primary star and planets. The content of asteroid belts is determined by the type of star they orbit.

You can also mine for ore at any planetary ring, but there are three types of ring and each type will contain a different variety of ores.

  • Rocky rings - These contain Bauxite, Bertrandite, Cobalt, Coltan, Gallite, Indite, Lepidolite, Rutile and Uraninite.
  • Icy rings - These contain Bromellite, Hydrogen Peroxide, Lithium Hydroxide, Liquid Oxygen, Low Temperature Diamonds, Methane Clathrate, Methanol Monohydrate Crystals and Water.
  • Metal rich rings - These contain Bertrandite, Coltan, Gallite, Gold, Indite, Lepidolite, Osmium, Painite, Praseodymium, Samarium, Silver and Uraninite
  • Metallic rings - These contain Bertrandite, Gallite, Gold, Indite, Osmium, Painite, Palladium, Platinum, Praseodymium, Samarium and Silver

How do you know which is which? On the system map, selecting the second info TAB, you will see the ring type displayed. Which is best? Depends what ore or mineral you are seeking. The rare metals are only available in asteroids and are quite valuable. The most valuable items are Low Temperature Diamonds, but they are exceedingly rare, so in a time versus profit exercise, the metals will always win out.

Ring states

Another factor to be aware of is the ring state. How mined out are they?

Rings will start Pristine and then decrease in worth to Major, Common, Low and finally Depleted. Obviously you want the Pristine rings if you can find them, as they will give the highest yields.

A bit of time spent on the galaxy map finding systems with ringed worlds and then checking which are metallic and pristine, before you set out, will save you a lot of time and make you a lot more credits.

Now you have found a nice juicy pristine metallic ring and your ship is launch, where do you start?

Sauron is not the only one with ring trouble

The Resource Extraction Sites (Low, High and Hazardous) are obvious targets to head for when mining, but they attract both undesirable NPCs, police ships and other players. Not only have you got competition for resources, but also a high chance of attack. Now while these sites tend to have better ore content, they also carry higher risk. So you either want a wingman to guard your back or (after 2.2 hits) a deployable fighter. Some extra guns and armour can’t hurt – but you’re two hard-points down because of the mining lasers, so a hired gun is a better option.

The alternative is to just drop into a ring anywhere, at least 2000km from the nearest RES site. There may be a slightly lower yield of ore, but it is all yours and there will be nobody there to bother you or compete with.

If you decide to log off and resume mining later, leave the ring in super-cruise first! If you log off, then respawn in a ring, the game spawns a few NPCs around you and one of them will almost certainly be hostile.

Selling your cargo

Once you filled your hold (or run out of limpets) you then want to head to the nearest refinery economy station. These station economies tend to pay better rates for metals and minerals.

A number of Engineers require commodities for upgrades that can only be obtained from mining, so you have the opportunity to barter these items with other players who don't have a mining ship or don't want to pursue a career in the rock business. Even if you don’t have Horizons, you can still mine materials and ores that Horizons players need.

Another thing to be aware of, especially in refinery economy stations, is the mission board. You will often see mining missions that pay out thousands or even hundreds of thousands of credits for just a few tons of Painite or Palladium.

Always check the mission board BEFORE selling your cargo. You can pick up these high-value mining missions even if you already have the required commodity on board, so picking a couple of missions could easily multiply the value of your cargo a dozen times over!

 

 

The road to Thargoids: What we know so far

TTV 2Not everyone is fully up on where Elite:Dangerous is now with its ongoing saga of hunting for alien life, or the rich history behind it.

Alien 101

Back in 1984 when Elite hit the BBC Micro, the “bad guys” were an alien race known as the Thargoids. Beyond that, very little was known.  They flew octagonal saucer ships and would drag unsuspecting commanders out of the hyperspace tunnel (also called “witchspace”) and attack the commander in the deep black gulf of space between stars, where no help was available. Unless you were quick to fight or flee, it was certain death for most ships. The sight of their saucers was feared across the galaxy!

A decade or so later, in Frontier and Frontier 2 the lore of this race expanded and we found out that the Thargoids were an insectoid race with six limbs, resembling a praying mantis.

Since the release of Elite: Dangerous, and even before going right back to the 2012 KickStarter, the community has been speculating how and when the Thargoids might appear in the game.

Early signs

In March 2015, with the release of 1.2, Unknown Artefacts began to appear. These were being carried by Type-9 ships in a convoy in Strong Signal Sources. The NPC chatter was all about the "strange cargo" they carried. We also began to see them floating in space and they made a peculiar noise. You could pick them up in your ship's cargo scoop, but commanders found that their ship became rapidly damaged by holding one of these objects.

What did the noise mean?

There were two signals the UAs made. One was Morse code, which spelled out the system they were located. The other was a mystery until CMDR Mike Juliet Kilo realised the signal was co-ordinates and when plotted, drew his ship - a Vulture!

Throughout 1.3 the UAs kept making these same noises, but began to be found in space always pointing towards the Merope system...

Blistering Barnacles!

In January 2016, after the 2.0 release of the Horizons expansion, explorers found alien structures on the planet Merope 5C. These objects resembled barnacles or some kind of ocean shell, with crystalline spikes appearing to grow out of the ground around them. The spikes could be blasted into fragments with the SRV turret and one spike would yield a large emerald-like crystal, that when harvested using the SRV cargo scoop was revealed to be a meta material.

Meta materials and UA bombing

Commanders who noticed that the Unknown Artefacts damaged their ship, tried various things to avoid having their ship destroyed while hanging on to the UA they'd discovered. However, the side-effect of their sheltering inside a station, was that the station itself took damage and station services would shut down. Enterprising CMDRs then found that by delivering and selling multiple UAs to a single station could shut it down and thus "UA Bombing" was born. Deliberate sabotage of stations using UAs as a weapon.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the Meta Materials harvested from so-called "Barnacles" could repair UA-Bombed stations.

More and more barnacles have been discovered in the systems around Merope and seem to favour systems inside nebulas.

Unknown probe

Unknown Probe

In May 2016, Horizons 2.1 shipped and explorers began to discover smaller unknown artefacts, which were named Unknown Probes. These objects were active rather than passive, like their predecessors. When scanned with a discovery scanner they would emit an electro-magnetic pulse, disabling nearby ships and then play a data signal.

The signal was decoded in June by CMDR Muetdhiver and CMDR Wace. When fed through a spectrum analyser the audio produced a hazy diagram.

Probe signal

When cleaned up, the signal is clearly some kind of iconography.

Clean signal

General consensus is that the diagram represents some kind of address, but no definitive meaning has yet been found.

UPDATE: The guys on the Canonn Research Thread (#8) have noticed that the Unknown Probes appear to be seeking ammonia based worlds.

GamesCon hints

During GamesCom in early August, Frontier's live streams were "interrupted" by alien signals, which were overlaid with binary and ASCII messages.

Once again, the guys at Canonn Research put their collective brains to the problem and solved the puzzle and this week - CMDR Nochtrach, CMDR BALALAIKAX3 and CMDR Ihazevich found the clues Frontier gave led to an alien wreck site on the moon of Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4,
Planet 9A at co-ordinates -26,3772°, 97,6982°.

Alien wreck site

The wreck is very reminiscent of Ridley Scott/H.R. Gieger's Alien spacecraft. A bio-mechanical craft, laying in the bottom of a valley. The craft was huge – far bigger than any human ship in the game.

CMDR Niamhy has even mocked up what the ship may have looked like before it crashed. Scary.

Alien ship

So, is it Thargoids?

Well truthfully, nobody outside Frontier knows. The ship doesn't resemble the earlier Thargoid ships. Are they friendly or not? Again, we don't yet know. What transpires next is anybody's guess and may be decided by who finds them first and who shoots first (or not).

Be careful out there. We are not alone...

 

Tips for Beginners: Fight or flight

beginnersSo you’re in a basic ship without all the toys of combat, or in a trade-ship that simply cannot manoeuvre or fight. What do you do? "Run away" sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than that.

You don't need to "GIT GUD" you just need to "GIT AWAY"

Interdiction

You are minding your own business when a ship flies in close behind you and locks on with a Frame Shift Interdictor. There are three possible options.

  • You submit immediately (cut throttle to zero).
  • You fight it and win.
  • You fight it and lose.

What then?

  • If you submit immediately, your Frame Shift Drive will cool down faster and you won’t go into a flat spin when you drop out of super-cruise.
  • If you fight and win, you can carry on your way, but it is a gamble.
  • Because if you fight and lose, you spin uncontrollably into normal space and your Frame Shift Drive will take a lot longer to cool down before being able to jump once more.

The best option for a guaranteed safe outcome is to submit immediately.

Power management

Having dropped out of super-cruise, you put all power to engines right? Wrong! Put all power to SYS. Your shields will last a lot longer with four "pips" set.

[edit] Your boost speed is no faster at four pips than at two & while your top speed & rate of recharge on the engine capacitor is slightly lower, the shield benefits are worth the trade off.

High wake

When you jump to super-cruise you leave behind a low-energy wake and when you jump to another system through hyperspace, you leave a high-energy wake. You are trying to get away, so does it matter if you jump to super-cruise in the same system or jump through hyperspace to another system? Yes.

If the other ships is bigger than you, it creates a mass-lock, preventing faster-than-light travel (super-cruise) so you cannot jump to super-cruise if your pursuer is close and in a larger ship.
You can however, jump to hyperspace, as this is not affected by mass lock!

As soon as you have been interdicted, get the enemy ships(s) in your rear radar view, hit full throttle, boost as well, then switch to the navigation panel and pick the nearest system in range. Once the ten second FSD cooldown is over, jump.

Run interference

You may have to last twenty five seconds or more between dropping out and jumping safely away.

Got any mines or shock mines? Feel free to share them while your FSD is cooling. They’ll leave a nice surprise in your wake as you run.

Any chaff or a heat-sink? Firing these makes you a harder target for gimballed weapons and missiles. ECM too if you have it.

Or…

If the ship that just interdicted you was an Eagle. On its own. And you are in pretty much any ship from a Viper up.

Kill it with fire and laugh. A lot.

Tips for beginners: Engineers

Who are they?

There are currently thirty engineers to be found. Each one has a face and their own small biography. The upgrades they offer reflect their interests or former professions.

See HERE for up to date information.


Below is an example of the Engineers screen. It's accessed from the Status TAB on the Systems panel.

What do they do?

They trade materials and data and commodities for ship upgrades. These may be faster FSD drives, longer jump range, stronger shields, faster engines, etc.

Some of them also sell upgraded modules directly. Farseer Inc. is where you can buy racing thrusters.

Where do you find them?

On planets. Depending on your progress in the game (your combat, exploration, trade and CQC ranks) you will have "introductions" hit your mailbox. Once invited by an engineer, not before, you can visit their base and if you can meet their initial requirements, may begin a barter relationship where you trade materials for upgrades.

Each engineer base location will appear as a point on the Galaxy Map once you have that engineer "Unlocked".

As you progress with an engineer, they will introduce you to other engineers. Also, progress in different fields in the game will unlock more. I’ll try and get the unlock information as the full list develops.

Upgrades and unlocks

The upgrades offered by each engineer depend on their area of expertise. Initially you start at level one (very minor upgrades) and as you buy more upgrades, your business relationship with engineer improves and more upgrades unlock. Upgrades go up to level five. Each engineer’s "special interest" may allow a faster path to higher levels. For example Felicity Farseer was an explorer, so will accept exploration data and the more you give her, the higher the level of upgrades become unlocked.

Blueprints

Each upgrade has a blueprint, like the one above for increased FSD range. This tells you what the upgrade will do and what the pros and cons of the modification might be. It also tells you what data, materials and commodities are required. Once the upgrade is unlocked you can “pin" the blueprint to refer back to when away from the engineer’s base. You can only “pin" one blueprint per engineer.

Where do I find materials?

Everywhere! However to find the specific materials you need, look at the blueprint you pinned and selecting the material needed will display a clue as to where the item should be found. This is in the form of a general location such as “at navigation beacons" rather than a specific planet or system.

How do I find data?

Different types of data are gained from different types of scanning. Normal basic scanning of ships in super-cruise and normal space will collect data. Also some data (such as Atypical Wake Echoes) will require a Frame Shift Wake scanner, which is a utility slot item.

Do materials take up cargo space?

No. They list in your inventory panel and (we must assume) fit in your flight-suit pockets as they remain with you, even if you swap ships or are destroyed. You don’t need cargo racks for any materials, however some engineer modification blueprints do require commodities which will need to be stored in your ship’s cargo rack.

Where can I get blueprint commodities I can't buy?

These are only available as mission rewards. Again, the tooltip will give you clue as to the type of mission you'll need to take in order to obtain the rare item you seek. You could also ask other commanders. A lot of bartering has already begun. This will only increase with time.

Tips for beginners: Guns and ammo

elite_noob

Whether you have the Federal Corvette bristling with hard-points or the lowly Hauler with its single small (lonely) hard-point, your choice of weapon is a life-and-death decision. Getting it wrong will most likely be your demise.

Best weapon?

There is no best weapon in Elite, just good combinations - the trick is finding the best combination for your ship and play style.

Thermal or kinetic?

Most energy weapons are thermal (they burn), while projectile weapons do damage by striking a ship’s hull (bullets, missiles, torpedoes and cannon shells), but there are the exceptions that do both (Plasma Accelerator bolts and Rail Gun shells).

Energy weapons do more damage to shields, while kinetic weapons do more damage to hull. That’s not to say a multi-cannon won’t take down shields, but they won’t be as effective as a beam laser of the same class. The reverse is also true. The same multi-cannon will turn a ship’s hull into Swiss cheese while the beam laser will burn away for ages before the enemy is destroyed.

It is worth mixing weapons types for a more effective attack.

Weapon mounting

Weapons come attached to your ship in three flavours. Each variant has strengths and weaknesses.

  • Fixed fires straight, must be aimed by ship’s nose position.
  • Gimballed weapon will track target within forward view.
  • Turret weapon will track all round and fires automatically when in range.

The amount of damage a weapon does decreases if they are gimballed or turreted, compared to the fixed version.

Fixed weapons fire in a straight line, so you can miss any moving target if you don’t anticipate, but equally your aim cannot be affected by countermeasures.

A gimballed weapon can auto-aim, so you’ll get more hits on the target.

The turret mount can fire behind you, or above you, even when you cannot see the target through the canopy. Turrets have three modes of fire:-

  • Fire Ahead, in which the turrets act as fixed hard-points.
  • Target Only, in which turrets will only fire on a target that you have selected and is hostile.
  • Fire at will, in which turrets will specifically look for any hostile target. I call this mode "attract trouble" as to shoot at many ships without killing them, just gathers a crowd who gang up and kill you!

Fixed weapons would be effective on a fast fighter, such as an Eagle or Vulture, but a multi-cannon turret would be more useful on a Type-6 trader to shoot the bad guys behind you while you make your escape!

Types of weapon

Pulse laser

steady fire rate. Does equal damage to shields and hull. Low power consumption. Low heat output.

Burst laser

faster fire in short bursts. Does more damage than pulse, but uses more power and produces more heat.

Beam laser

most dangerous laser. Pours on the damage like a hose. Burns through your WEP capacitor quickly and produces damaging amounts of heat with larger classes.

Mining laser

for breaking ore fragments from asteroids. This type of laser cannot be used to damage other ships, but is essential for mining operations. The better your mining laser, the large the ore fragments will be and the higher the frequecy at which they break off the rock being mined.

Multi-cannon

very effective against ship hull. Rapid fire. Doesn’t use much power. Very low heat. Runs out of ammo in sustained combat.

Cannon

slow to fire, but causes a lot of damage. Next to no heat. Causes “splash” damage – it doesn’t just damage where it hits, but spreads the pain around! Very good at killing modules.

Fragment cannon

slow to fire. Low heat. Very short range, but does a lot of damage when close. Often described as “space shotgun”.

Plasma Accelerator

fires low speed projectiles. Does a LOT of damage. Huge power drain and produces almost as much heat as beam lasers.

Rail Gun

super-fast projectile. Does lots of damage. Big power drain and makes lots of heat. Very slow to fire (over a second) so needs practice to use.

Missile rack (dumb fire)

very damaging kinetic weapon. Good range. Power use and heat are high.

Missile rack (seeking)

like their “dumb” counterparts, seeking missiles have the same strengths and weaknesses, but will lock on to a target and follow it, so are much harder to evade.

Torpedo pylon

fires a single heavy yield kinetic projectile.

Mine launcher

these can drop proximity mines that cause explosive damage, but also shock-mines which do very little damage, but throw a ship off course.

Energy weapons as primary and kinetic as secondary is a good tactic

weapons

Countermeasures

Combat can be an elaborate game of “rock, paper, scissors” with ships having different weapons, armour and shields. But for every weapon, there is some kind of countermeasure.

Heatsinks

these drain your ship coolant into a hockey-puck projectile and fire it from the ship, making your ship cold. How is that a countermeasure? Now your ship is (for a short while) radar invisible, while the heatsink is a radar blip. Fire one, change direction and escape.

Chaff

this firework display from your ship scatters the aim of gimbals and turrets.

ECM

electronic counter-measures will deflect the tracking of an incoming torpedo or seeking missile.

Point defence

this is a tiny auto-cannon that will attempt to shoot down any incoming missile or mine.

 

With the exception of point defence, all these countermeasures are totally useless against an enemy with a fixed weapon and a good aim!

Tips for beginners: Shields and Armour

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

 

When you fly around in a ship in Elite: Dangerous there are two things saving you from the bullets and lasers of those pesky pirates. Shields and hull armour. Your shields are a semi-visible barrier that blocks energy and matter from hitting your ship, preventing most damage. Your hull starts with a basic level of armour that prevents incoming weapons from damaging your ship. Better armour can take more damage.

Shields

Your shield is an energy bubble that protects you from a fixed amount of damage (measured in Mega Jules "MJ") from weapons fire. When it isn’t being hit, it will recharge at the rate of 1.6MJ per second from your "SYS" systems power capacitor. If the shields are drained, they collapse and the hull will start taking damage. You see your shields displayed as three blue rings around your ship hologram on the Heads Up Display (HUD).

Ship power systems

When your shields have collapsed, they must be recharged to half their total capacity before they come back up. This means the bigger your shields the longer they last, but the longer you are without them once they collapse. This means you have a choice of keeping them light with a faster recharge or “tanking” and hoping to outlast an opponent by having the bigger shields.

The exception are Bi-Weave shield generators. These come only in C rating in all class sizes. They have the same resistance as standard shields, but recharge at 2.4MJ/s (roughly 1.5 times faster).

There is also one other type of shield currently. Prismatic shields. These are only available to rank 3 power player members of Aisling Duval’s faction after four weeks. Prismatic shields are 20% stronger than standard, but draw a lot more power and weigh more. They are like a shield with an A rated booster built-in. Why use them? They free up a utility slot on your ship if you are short, to add more shield boosters or other things, like Chaff launchers or Kill Warrant Scanners.

Shields often come in one class size that is the default for your ship, but a higher class may be fitted (or lower if weight and power are an issue) but the caviat for this is the shields only work for a maximum hull mass, so like other modules, if you fit shields too small for your ship, they will not function. You cannot fit multiple shield generators. Sorry.

The examples below are of one model of each shield type fitted to a Cobra Mk III (the most common ship in the game).

Shield types

Hull armour

Your basic ship hull comes with lightweight armour. This has a “Hit Point” value, which indicates the amount of damage it can take before it fails. Buying better armour (or Hull Reinforcement modules) will raise this value. There are also two derivatives of the top-end armour that make your hull more resistant to thermal damage (lasers) or kinetic damage (bullets).

The examples below are of one model of each bulkhead type fitted to a Cobra Mk III.

Armour types

Armour is expensive. Military grade composite will cost as much as the ship you are fitting onto! Another thing to be aware of, is weight. The extra hull will reduce your jump range, which is why most fighters can’t jump very far.

Hull Reinforcement

Armour is a way of making your ship tougher, but hull has to be repaired when damaged (unlike shields which recharge) and is one of the things you can only fix at a station. You can also add armour into module slots with "Hull Reinforcement Packages". This upgrades are not as effective as bulkheads, but add a lot of armour and can be used to fill any free internal slot with armour. What difference does this make? Well if you've got some cash to splash on it, a lot. Spend 3M CR and you'll get a pretty tough ship. See below.

Upgrades

Both ships look the same from the outside, but it's clear who will last longer in any conflict.

Obviously you don't have to add these upgrades all at once, but as you can see there is a large scope for incremental improvement of your ships hull and shields. No ship can be made indestructible, but you only have to be a bit tougher than the other guy. A bit of extra shield or hull might mean the difference between making the jump to hyperspace or being slain by those pirates.

Tips for beginners: When a map is more than a map

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

The Galaxy Map is not just a "you are here" diagram of the Milky Way. You can do a lot more than just plot routes. It shows the location of stored ships, mission related destinations, friends online and gives you the ability to search for systems by economy, population, star type and allegiance.

I want to find a high tech station

galaxy_map_filterThere are third-party websites (such as eddb.io) that use crowd-sourced data to show where ships and modules may be found, but the Galaxy Map gives you the ability in the game, to a lesser degree. It can’t tell you that a station has a particular module or ship in stock, but you can find the most likely candidate systems in short order.

To do this, you open the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. This offers a selection of categories to map. We want "Economy" here. This shows the different types of economy in the galaxy. We want to select just "High Tech" and "Refinery". Below the list is another filter option, select "Population" here and slide the "minimum" selector past half-way. You should now only see star systems of High Tech and Refinery economies with large populations. And well stocked Shipyards and outfitting…

galaxy_map_economy

Running low on fuel? Find scoop-able stars!

Again, open the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. This offers a selection of categories to map. We want "Star Type" here. This shows the different types of star in the galaxy. We want to select just types "A, B, F, O, G, K and M". You should now only see stars you can fuel scoop. Very handing for panic refuelling on a long route, when you cannot make the next plotted jump, but there’s a nearer scoop-able star.

galaxy_map_star_class

Have bounty from Alliance and you’re in Federation space?

In the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. Select the allegiance category and only select the faction you want to find. You should now only see systems they control. You can then plot a route to the nearest and hand in that 300,000CR that has been burning a hole in your Transactions TAB for a week!

So you can see, without me demonstrating every use, that the Galaxy Map is a vital source of in-game information.