Saturday, 31 January 2015

Elite Dangerous New Beginnings - The little ship that could

Starting again

Following the terminal disaster of reset-button proportions that lost me my Type-7, I've had time to reflect on the mechanics of Elite, spent more time thinking about small ships, and the surprising amount of gameplay options.

Waking up at LHS 3447 in a sidewinder with a fistfull of credits is a sobering experience for a freighter pilot drunk on gold, and I traded straight up to a Zorgon Peterson Hauler to run rares and regain my lost wealth. The details of this, and The Game Plan, can be found in previous articles.

This little ZP Hauler has been a great runner, and the build cost me around 300K initially. It's a bare metal refit, with a Class-A FSD so its really optimised for maximum range. I've tried both the 2A and 3A fuel scoop now, and while the reduced scooping time of the 3A is amazing it costs you 4T of space so its value for money is questionable. I think I'd recommend the 2A option for anybody trying this build, and if you frequently have the excess space then consider the larger scoop.

Enter the Adder

But Zorgon Peterson has more to offer in the shape of the haulers bigger brother, the Adder.  The Zorgon Peterson Adder is an upgrade from the Hauler in every direction. It carries more weight so has a slightly reduced range, but the hull is stronger and you can fit 22T with a 2A scoop and still make 18Ly jumps.
At face value this isn't much of an upgrade from the ZP-H, that can manage 18T at 18.5Ly with the same 2A scoop fitted but the Adder opens up a lot of options.

Dropping to 18T - equal to the ZP-H - the Adder can fit shields and while it'll cost you some of your jump range the Adder has two small and one medium hardpoint, compared to the single hardpoint of the Hauler.  Essentially the Adder is a straight upgrade to the ZP-Hauler, maintaining the same range and capacity but equipping shields and hardpoint options.

In my Ship Focus articles on the Hauler and Adder, I didn't really focus on a side by side comparison. Reviewing each ship in isolation has a lot of value, but now I'm counting the credits I'm finding that I'm putting a lot more thought into the practical utility of each and every upgrade.

Convoy

This week I flew convoy with a Combat Cobra. Its jump range was slightly lower than a maxed out ZP-Hauler and it was the only ship with guns and shields so the Cobra Pilot had to play Navigator, XO and CAG while the Little Ship that Could tagged alongside like a sidecar.

In a convoy, the Adder is a far superior ship to the Hauler and having guns and shields makes it combat ready and able to contribute rather than feeling like its tagging on for the ride.  On its own the shields will protect it from minor knocks and give me the seconds I need to boost and jump from any serious threat.

However, convoys are made by big hulls, and the Lakon Type-6 Transporter is a strong contender. In my Lakon-6 Focus, one of the build options I presented was the Long Jumper.  With an A4 FSD, the Type-6 has a long jump range and even carrying a dozen tonnes of rares you can get a 29Ly Jumps out of it. However a budget Type-6 costs a similar amount to a pimped Adder, and makes guaranteed big returns hauling Gold and Local cargo in its huge 112T racks, breaking the Million Credits per hours barrier and having room to spare.

But this is a tribute - and possibly a goodbye - to the ZP Hauler. The little ship that could has raised me from the ashes of disaster to the roses of success and given me some flexible purchasing and upgrade options for my next ship.
For now, I'm closing the chapter on my ZP-Hauler, and putting it into dock instead of selling it so that - should I ever need a little runabout - I have the ZP that saved me waiting at home.

Thankyou Zorgon Peterson, and farewell to my trusty Hauler.  I'm looking forward to putting its big brother through its paces. Enter the Adder.

Fly Casual everybody.