Friday, 10 April 2015

Elite Dangerous Space Bar - Lakon Lessons.

Hey Space Cadets, what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the Space Bar.

In this article we'll be looking at the freighter offerings from Lakon Spaceways. This isn't a complete outfitters so I won't be promoting a particular build, but I do want to highlight some of the strengths of different loadouts.  Since the Asp is a versatile ship in its own right, I'm going to save that for another day and it deserves its own article so here I'm going to focus on The Big Three.

The entry level freighter from Lakon Spaceways is the Sixer. Its a great, reliable transport and the most versatile of the three offerings.
A hundred tonnes makes it the largest small ship, almost twice the capacity of the Cobra whose 60T maximum gives sits in second place and the 1.2 - 1.4M Cr range is an incredibly cheap investment for the Million-Credits-Per-Hour freighting profits it will give you.

Stripped to bare metal and given a Class-A FSD the Sixer costs just under three Million credits and gets you a 112T internal capacity with a 19.1 - 30.3 Ly jump range.

Principally a mid-range freighter, being able to jump 30Ly when empty makes it an interesting choice for a long range galaxy hopper, and a contender for a cheap explorer.  Getting the same range out of an Asp will cost between twelve and fifteen million credits, so this really is an easy way for a new pilot to start exploring. You'll need all of the usual explorer gear, auto-repair etc.. to do this in a Sixer, and its not the most glamorous way to see the galaxy but it'll get new pilots into the void for a rock bottom price.

At 112T unshielded the Sixer is the smallest and fastest freighter able to boost at 350 clicks, making it the fifth fastest ship in the game with the Cobra, Viper, Clipper and Orca all managing to outrun it. This means its one of the few freighters that can steer clear of trouble, and its 3A Power supply can keep 3A shield generator with three Class-A Shield Boosters running which should protect your hide before you make a jump to safety, or you can add chaff in there too.
The value of speed is not to be misunderestimated, as its two small hardpoints are not going to see off any trouble. If you are trading in a Wing and are expecting to fight together, then Beam Lasers might help and anything with a Gimbals will increase your dps. I'm a fan of seeker missiles on freighters - you are unlikely to tip the balance with little laser pointers, but if the enemy ships shields drop you can unleash those hurting bombs and gain the upper hand.

I really enjoyed flying the Sixer as a freighter, which is a funny thing to say because you spend a lot of time in supercruise flying in a straight line. But the fun of it was optimising the route - The ship is a little slow on the turn its not that bad and has got a lot of pep. Coming in hot and launching fast was a lot of fun and I did a lot of stopwatch runs trying to shave every second off my trip time and maximise my profit margins. I learnt a lot about instrumenting profitability during my long stint in a Sixer and one of the big Lakon Lessons here is to fly fast and enjoy the little things.

Its long range, high speed and low price make it a rare running option too. You can hop across the galaxy in a rares loop, wheeling and dealing with the best of them and you should be able to make as much or more on rares than you do with commodities.

The price difference between the Type-6 and the aspirational Asp is in the ten million range and at one million an hour you are likely to spend a long time in the Lakons spacious cockpit if you want to trade up to a better ship. Get used to it.

Lakon Spaceways entry into large-capacity trading is the Type-Seven transport.  The price break between the six and seven is huge and its twenty million price tag seems overwhelming at first.

The first Lakon Lesson from the T7 is that nobody buys one because they want to fly it. Its a huge investment that often results in pilots selling their smaller ships to afford it, and buyers remorse is more common that you think.  Bottom line, the middle-child of Lakon Spaceways is something you buy because you are saving for a Python, or one of the big Imperial or Federal ships.
Maybe you are doing it to fund a smaller ship, maybe you are a dedicated trader wanting to pilot a Type-9, but its very rare that the Type-7 is the end-goal for even a space truckers ambition.

The most important lesson I learnt from the T7 was to save money for insurance. When I first hit twenty million I sunk it into this ship and headed for the stars.  My first trip out was fine, and paid for a couple of ship upgrades that meant the second trip was under the insurance bracket - but its such a big earner I didn't mind.  Sadly, I lost the lot and had to start the game from a Sidewinder again.

So really the Type seven taught me patience. I had to play from nothing back up to everything, and every moment aware at the credits that I'd lost.  After crashing a Type Seven, I learnt patience and just a little humility.

But the T7 picks up where the Sixer left off and a bare metal refit provides you with a 232T vessel that'll make an impressive 17.4 - 25.8 Ly and cost you a slice over 23M Cr.

Allocating 1.2M for insurance (twice) and 9K/T cargo costs you'll need to have a clean 28M Cr to your name before you buy a T7. You can just about get by on 26M if you run a smaller cargo hold and only hold one insurance claim in cash - but if you claim it you are left flying without insurance which can end badly.

Four small hardpoints and size-5 shields can give the T7 some protection as part of a convoy, and I'd like to draw your attention to quad-linked dumbfire missiles.  I've you've ever been tickled by dumbfires you'll know what it feels like and can turn the tide in a fight if you can get a good line of fire. Otherwise, quad-beams aren't so bad, and gimbals are a snap at 75K each. Turrets will cost you half a million each, and two million feels expensive given your plan is to never fire them, but if I was re-equipping a T7 now, I'd be considering the big guns.

The T7 doesn't have the speed of the Sixer and you can't outrun trouble. It's going to hit about 300 clicks on the boost and there are LOTS of ships that will carve their name in your thrusters as you try to escape.  Adding chaff and mines will help your cause, and your best bet is to submit to the interdiction and jump system.

The first rule of acquisition is maximise your profit-per-hour and the big Fat-9 from Lakon is the king of the spaceways when it comes to shifting cargo.

Unlike the T7, the big Fat-9 feels less like a temporary ship and more like a way of life. Its a flying space-slug, for sure. It only flies in a straight line and doesn't do that very quickly.  In fact, there is little to like about the Fat-9.

From the Type-9 I learned that I can push my way in - or out - of the mail slot at a station and everybody else just has to get out of my way.  When it comes to momentum, size does matter and you can dock when you want to dock... just slowly.  Apologies to the Cmdrs that I scraped, and my heart goes out to the NPC sidewinder that was trying to launch and I just pushed back into the station.  the Type-9 is an elephant in many senses of the word.

A true workhorse of the shipping lanes, Lakon have provided us with a huge vessel that maxes out at 532T and will give you 12 - 16.9 Ly at this capacity for just over 96 Million Credits.  Add an extra 10M for twice the insurance and 5M for cargo costs and you are looking at a minimum spend of 110M before you are flying.

You can buy a 532T Fat-9 with a 9.8Ly range for just a smidgeon under 100M credits, by skimping on the frame shift drive, and reduce that to 95T if you only hold enough for one insurance payout.

The total spend on the ship comes to 250M Cr. if you decide to Class-A everything, and a ship this size has no shortage of upgrade options. I'm only scratching the surface, but find myself buying the odd piece here and there.

Which brings us to the Last Lakon Lesson Learned. While true for the smaller two ships, the type-nine has really taught me that there is no shortage of upgrades to buy, and you can spend a long time at the outfitters clocking up an expensive loadout bill.  In all things moderation - for the Fat-9 like the T7 and Sixer before it I'd recommend starting off by only buying upgrades that increase your income, and leaving the rest in the bank.

I haven't flown my T9 with less than twice the insurance cost yet, and don't intend to. Its a ship I'll put a few hours in here and there to fund my other jaunts - but now I've got it my days as a freighter captain are entering a new twilight phase.

What have you learnt most from the ships you fly? Did you power through the Lakons are have you chosen to remain a fighter or explorer for now?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang, and this has been a trip to the Space Bar. Like, share, subscribe and Fly Casual!