Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Elite Dangerous Outfitters - The Cobra

Greetings Space Cadets!
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the outfitters.
In this article, we'll be talking about the Faulcon DeLacy Cobra MKIII. Probably one of the most iconic ships in the Galaxy, the Cobra wins the Pilots Choice award for most versatile and flexible ships out there.  Anything smaller than a mighty Python has to take note when a Cobra jumps in, and even the big ships need to keep one eye on the Radar at all times.

I found the Cobra a fun ship to fly, and the nostalgia alone made it my first milestone ship. Despite how much I liked my ZP-Hauler that got me back in the game and the huge amount of fun I've had in a Sixer, I'm always going to be proud to own a Cobra. Its a good all rounder, has two small and two medium hardpoints and carries sixty tonnes if you max out the cargo racks.

A Combat Cobra is quite a fearsome opponent, and my own Orange Rattler has seen some action recently.  The Cobra is a great vessel packed with options that I'll try and talk through here. The cobra plays in a fight and you can draw heat from your wingmen while they recharge, cooldown, and get a good attack vector on the target.

A midpoint between the Adder and the Sixer, the Cobra has a reduced range over the long jumpers making it a tiny fraction slower at running rares but it can make 20Ly jumps so you won't notice the difference on many routes. While it might not pack as many shields as a Lakon Blockade Runner, your rare jumper Cobra is packed with safety features and armed to the teeth, making it an excellent choice for almost any occasion.

Other ships in this series:
Lakon-6 Blockade Runner
Outfitting an Adder
Solid Gold Viper

Asp Freighter

Today I'll just be talking about Trading and Rare-Running Long-Jumper Cobras, and talk a little about some combat configs I've tried.  I'm not going hardcore into combat builds - that'll take a whole article in itself, and mining is a separate topic too.

Shop Floor Cobra.
The basic cobra costs 380K and at that price point there is some stiff competition from Zorgon Peterson.
The ZP-Hauler, for under 380K spend gets you 16T of cargo racks, with an unbeatable 19.4 - 32.4 Ly Jump range.  More details on this build can be found on my Hauler Ship Focus Page.
Meanwhile if you fly a 380K Cobra straight off the forecourt you will find its 9.7-10.4 Ly Jump Range severely limiting and its stock 18T of cargo space is nothing to write home about.

Hands-down, the Hauler has the Cobra beat at this end of the price scale so I'd recommend you save up for a while and don't buy a Cobra on the first day you can afford it.  You'll need to spend a little before you start to see the benefits.


One Million Credits
At the one million Credits price point, you have left the Hauler behind and are competing with its bigger brother, the Adder, also from Zorgon Peterson.  For One Million Credits the adder is starting to look pretty good.
My One Million Credit Adder manages an 18T Capacity and an 18.3-23.3 Light Year Range. It has shields, weapons and scoops and is a competent and armed rare runner. However you end up with a lot of Class-C and Class-D components on it.


My love for the Sixer is well known. The smallest of the Lakons, the Type-6 comes in very cheaply at a tad over a million credits and can be outfitted for up to 112T if you care to which makes it a prime earner at this price point.  The ship you get isn't fast, but moves a lot of tonnage.

Outfitting a Cobra that beats the Adder or the Sixer at this price point is a challenge, because you are looking at some expensive upgrades.

Because we aren't going to be gunslinging high-power lasers at this price point, we know this is a low-power ship, we can drop to the 3C Reactor which gives the 10MW we need and more heat efficient than the 4D at the same price.
This reactor can't quite deliver, and your Frame Shift Drive will cut out when you deploy hardpoints - but you can't jump with them out anyway so this is no real disadvantage. Just remember to set module priority groups and you will be fine.

Otherwise a 1M Cobra is a Class-D refit on every component.  I've replaced the Discovery Scanner with a 2C Fuel Scoop, and upgraded the cargo too. I recommend a slimline Class-D refit in almost every build for the mass efficiency. 

The internal compartments are now the basis for every larger cobra we are going to consider.
4D: Shield Generator
4E: Cargo Rack (16T)
4E: Cargo Rack (16T)
2E: Cargo Rack (4T)
2E: Cargo Rack (4T)
2C: Fuel Scoop.

Safety First.
With just the internal components at the minimum level I've already spent around 620K and have plenty to spend on safety features. I already have a 4D Shield Generator, which isn't much but it'll keep us out of trouble.
Because of the weaker 3C Power Plant, I'm going to choose projectile weapons on my medium hardpoints because they take less energy than beam lasers and a matched pair of 2E Fixed Multi-Cannons will do the job nicely.
Two 1E Gimbal Beam lasers on the small hardpoints will be in my primary firing group and used to do as much damage to shields as I can before spinning up the big Multi-Cannons.

This completes a One Million Cobra, getting us a 40T ship that jump 14.0 - 16.4 Light Years and costs 964K Credits. Wastage and Piracy aside, the Sixer earns more per hour than the Cobra but does not match it for style, sophistication or Nostalgia. Overall trying to build a Cobra on this budget is difficult and it's not going to be the ship of your dreams.

It doesn't handle as well as a Cobra might and a One Million Cobra doesn't really show it off in its best light. After a few pirate run-ins I found that the guns are a little too big for the shields.  Those big Fixed Forward Multi cannons do a lot of damage, but in a head-on lance you'll be taking your licks too so they rely on your piloting skills to get a good attack vector and stay out of the line of fire. If you are not an accomplished combat jock, I might recommend smaller main weapons and adding a Shield Bank.

Lastly, you could run lighter on weapons and put more into your Frame Shift Drive - especially if you are in a convoy the longer jump and safety in numbers might benefit you more.


Two Million Credits
With a larger budget of two Million to spend, the Adder and the Viper are the two closest alternatives to a Cobra.  You can build a Two-Million Credit Sixer too, and its a good earner, but I've talked about that enough in other articles.

The Adder has a great jump range at this price point. Its Class-B and Class-A across the board and gets you a 16T ship with about 16-20Ly range.  The Viper is a similar story, two million credits gets you Class A and B across the board because the Size-3 Upgrades are very cheap, and a fair choice of weapons too.

Two Million Credits in a Cobra sees a hodge-podge of class B,C and D components and too many options to say one is "the best build". Compared to the equivalent Adder or Viper that has premium components, the Cobra feels a little like its being left behind.  
However, I found that with the 40T armed Cobra that I build for 1M I had two real options and for two million credits you should nudge up the specs on the components you want the most.


The biggest gain at 2M is the extra spend you've got on a Frame Shift Drive.  I'm a real range junkie and will happily blow my budget on getting those long range jumps.  At 2M Cr, if you are doing rare runs then a Fuel Scoop and an large FSD is going to soak up all of your budget.


Its also worth revising your hardpoints - I found the Cannons more satisfying than the multicannons and at this price point its well worth thinking about.


Three Million Credits
At three million Credits the Budget Cobra is a nice ship to fly. I'm going to recommend the Class-A FSD so that you can jump with the best of them. This is a significant investment but gets you into the 20Ly range of a space hopper.
The slimline options keep a three million credit cobra running, and a 4D Power, 3D Life support and 3D Sensors are the starting point. These are reasonable upgrades, nothing that breaks the bank and helps keep the tonnage down and gives you that incredible jump range.
The Thrusters are upgraded to 4C, and a 3B Power Distributor keeps plenty of power available for engines and shields meaning you can move and boost if you feel the need the speed and its enough to keep weapons and shields topped up too. 4C Thrusters do feel a lot better than the weaker models, and I suspect an accomplished combat pilot would feel the difference.

So my internal components look something like this:
Power Plant: 4D

Life Support: 3D
Sensors: 3D
Thrusters: 4C
Power Couplings: 3B

The Internal compartments are pretty much the same as before, with 4C Shields and a 2C Scoop, leaving a 40T capacity made of 16+16+4+4 racks.

The Hardpoints have got 2D Cannons and those trusty 1E Gimbal Beam lasers make another appearance.  The Cannons cost 168K each so you can afford the pair of them without cutting into the budget, and at this point I'm fitting 1E Beams so frequently they might as well be fitted as standard. The 2D Cannons have a bit more kick in them than the 2E Multi Cannons of my earlier builds and they really pack a punch. My advice with cannons is to take a breath, and time your shot. They hit very hard and you can usually afford that extra second to aim up a direct hit.

I've added a Heat Sink launcher and Point Defence too, which start to give the ship its luxury feel.

The build has a range of 19.6-22.6 and comes in at 2,970K.  It felt a little artificial building a cobra exactly to a budget and I had to play around with a number of compromises to get it to fit the figures I wanted however I'm very happy with the ship.

The Class-A FSD is the biggest spend and the only premium upgrade. You can exchange it out for a Class-B or C and throw those extra credits into weapons and shields if you are a combat pilot, but I'm focusing on Rare Runners and Convoy ships today.


Five Million Credits
For the sum of five million, nothing can touch the Cobra. It's got the spaceways to itself and we are going to build a big ship with great stats.

Start with a pair of fixed forward 2A Frag Cannons, These do big damage to ships without shields and at point-blank range are deadly.  There are a straight upgrade from the Cannons in the 3M build and rely on getting a little closer to target but they will absolutely tear through exposed hulls when you do.
I've added two 1E Gimbal Beam lasers to the small hardpoints too, which is your primary attack to wear down shields.

A 4C power plant and 3C Power Couplings are needed to run all the systems and I've upgraded to 4C Thrusters too. If you find you need a bit more during combat (and who doesn't!) then go for the 3A Power Couplings first, and then the thrusters as you can afford them.

The 4A Frame Shift Drive gives this ship its 19.7-22.8 Light Year Jump range, assuming you are building a ship for long-jumping rares. If you are playing as a short range fighter then fit a smaller FSD and spend the money on Thruster upgrades and Shield banks.

Lastly the Sensors and Life Support are left at Class-D, because thats all we need right now.

The internal Compartments read like this.
4A: Shield Generator
4E: Cargo Rack (16T)
4E: Cargo Rack (16T)
2E: Cargo Rack (4T)
2E: Cargo Rack (4T)
2A: Fuel Scoop.

This gives the Five Million Credit Cobra a huge cargo hold, a great jump range, Class-A Shields, big guns and all the extras.  I've added a Heat Sink Launcher to one of the Utility Points for good measure and the build comes in at 4,980K Credits.

My Five Million Credit Cobra is built for long range runs, and protecting a convoy, and like the smaller spends there is definitely a side-grade option to focus on a short range fighter thats stronger ship-to-ship by allocating funds in that direction instead.  At this price point a Combat Cobra is a tough customer indeed.


Seven Million Credits.
Once you have seven million credits you'll be casting your eye at the Asp, but there is life in the Cobra yet.  The Seven Million Cobra is based on the five million build and we've only upgraded a few options.
The Power plant is upgraded to a the 4B model because we need a little more juice.  At this price point and with the energy available the 4A Thrusters and 3A Power Couplings are a must.
I've also upgraded the Life Support and Sensors to both to the 3C model.  To finish the build I've added a Point Defence to the last utility mount.

This 40T Cobra with a 19.1 - 22.0 jump range has great thrusters and couplings in addition to the weapons we gave it before.  Its a real threat as a space superiority starfighter able to bring those big cannons into play easily. 

You can drop the Life Support and Sensors down to a Class-D and fit a half sized fuel tank if you are trying to trip down the ship for maximum jumps.

For the same price, the Asp gets only 14.8-16.1 Light years and its stock 38T capacity, and is basically a shop-floor model with a 5D Frame Shift and some extra lasers.  At Seven Million Credits the Cobra remains untouchable in the skies.

Its worth mentioning that for 7M you could have a shop-floor Asp with fully maxed out cargo racks, giving you a total of 128T of cargo space.  There is no way the cobra can match this for capacity, but the Asps 10.5-13.8 Jump range isn't great, and it has no shields and just a pair of pulse lasers - it isn't a serious contender.


Nine Million Credits.
At the Big Nine, the Cobra is pretty much fully equipped. You can afford Class-A Components across the board. You don't quite have your choice of guns, and if you want to fit those power hungry Plasma Accelerators then you are going to have to make compromises.

A Pair of 2C fixed-forward plasma accelerators will give this build some serious sting, and if you drop the Sensors to Class-B and Life Support to Class-D you can afford this.  Its worth mentioning that you can manage this with Class-A sensors if you don't mind your frame shift powering down when you pull the big guns out.
Adding the Class-A Life Support is a matter of taste. The Class-D works just fine, while the Class-A powers down when you deploy hardpoints giving you a 25 minute countdown to finish your prey. However with a pair of gimbal beams and two plasma accelerators, the battle isn't going to last twenty five minutes and you will never practically run out of air.

If power management concerns you, The 2A Frag Cannon is cheap with a very low power use, or 2B Seeker Missiles are a snap at 500K each.

You can push this build up to eleven million with turret Beams on the small hardpoints, Military Alloys and an extra 4A Shield Bank.  Out of these, I'd recommend the Shield Bank if you can find power for it (again, your Life support will power down if you've gone for plasma)  and this peak build will reduce your jump range to around 18.0-19.5 with a 24T capacity.

Once you hit eleven Million credits, the Asp really becomes an attractive prospect, not only for its increases hardpoint and utility options but for its increased cargo capacity too.  Once your budget exceeds this and hits the fifteen million range, the Asp does start to dominate but we'll discuss that in more detail in an Asp Outfitters later on.

The Premium Cobre still has quite a long jump range, but you've gained some serious teeth. No small ship will meet you in the void and live long enough to tell the tale.


Final thoughts
In this article I've hardly scratched the surface of the amazing versatility of the Cobra.  We could have focused on Missiles and Shields for a high damage output slugger that will lance into other ships like an express train.

I've not even touched on refinery and mining lasers, or the amount of exploration you can do with that 20Ly range and a couple of discovery scanners.

The Cobra handles well in a fight and this build is biased slightly toward big guns. You should probably invest more in the thrusters and power couplings early on if you are a Viper Pilot looking for something with a bit more sting and staying power.

Have any thoughts, experiences or questions on the building cobras? Leave a comment.
If you have a ship focus you'd like to see, a pilot academy article, or more rules of acquisition then let me know. Please like, favourite, share, and subscribe.
As always, fly casual.