Sunday, 18 January 2015

Elite Dangerous Pilot Academy - Shields

So this might be a no-brainier question for a lot of pilots but I'm going to run the basics here to start with and the question I'm posing is "So what are shields for anyway?"

The stock answer is that shields are there to protect your ship but that's partially a myth that I'm going to contest here.

When I'm carrying freight, I tend to strip the shields to maximise tonnage.  Running rares will make a lot more money in a fast ship so I usually strip those ships down to bare metal too but shields are a really useful thing to have aren't they?

The strength of shields is determined by two factors - the class of shields and the mass they are protecting.
Like the other upgrades, shields are rated in five categories from A-E inclusive which I typically refer to as:
Class-E : Shop-Floor
Class-D : Slimline
Class-C : Budget
Class-B : Performance
Class-A : Premium

The Shop-Floor shields will be on your ship when you buy it, they will protect you from the occasional knock and bump. They aren't up to much and won't protect you in a fight, and I'd always prefer the Class-D model just to save weight.

Secondly the effectiveness of shields is determined by your mass. If you ship is equal or below the shields stated "Optimal Mass" then you will be well protected.  As your mass increases above the optimum limit the protection from the shields drops, and they are limited by the Maximum Mass value.  There are ships that can run with shields in different size categories, but if you actually care about maximum protection then you'll run big shields to cover your ship.

And if you actually need shields, the you are going to settle for nothing less than the Class-A model, and probably have a Class-A shield Bank too.  This is the Double-A standard and you shouldn't settle for anything less.

Class-B and C shields are the illusion of safety. Class-C shields are only going to do any good if your carrying so many more guns than the other guy that you can tear through his Double-As before your own second-rate shields are depleted.

I've got a Combat Cobra with Double-A shields and Military alloys too. Its also got a Plasma Accelerator, and so far it does fairly well against ships that think Budget Class-C shields are going to protect them from anything.

So, to go back to the question - what are shields for?  Well, if your shields are for fighting then choose the Premium Double-A standard.  Otherwise you are clutching a comfort blanket and hoping you don't run into me when my coffee mug is empty.

If you are carrying freight, then maybe - just maybe - you have Class-D shields because you are coming in so hot the repairs are too expensive otherwise, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that if you are that sloppy on your landings you'd make more money slowing down two seconds and taking the extra profits from carrying more cargo instead of equipping shields.

And lastly, its quite possible you have Budget or Performance shields to aid your escape when you run into trouble. And that's kind of an acceptable answer. It's the third use case that I don't really believe in, but I vaguely accept as an excuse. It keeps those fighters off your hull while you boost and jump away. But come on - The Class-A shields are better for that anyway so realistically, shields are Premium or nothing. Its Double-A or bare metal all the way.

[Edit:
It *is* worth mentioning that the Bs or Cs in your size class are only 10-20% worse than the As and the gap between shields isn't that much. The gap between nothing and E is a huge one, and the slimline D shields are lightweight and cheap so appropriate as a token gesture. But remember, the combat-equipped ship attacking you will have Class-As and if you want to fight back you should bring the same.]


Agree, disagree or have experiences that to add? Do you find shields get in the way or would you never fly without them? If you have a ship focus you'd like to see, a pilot academy article, or more rules of acquisition leave a comment below. Please like, favorite, share, and subscribe.

As always, fly safe.