Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Elite Dangerous Space Bar - Economic Armaments

Hey space cadets what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the space bar.

This is just a quick update about the Economic Armaments community goal at Hamilton Gateway that has been lighting up Galnet.

At the time of writing, the goal has just passed Tier Two and the rewards are starting to rack up, with a 3% Diamondback discount already waiting for me there is every incentive to keep farming the metals and bringing home the bacon.

As the Community Goal is still relatively new, it was very quick to get up into the top 15% but as the tiers progress it'll take some serious trading to hang in there ... but I don't see this goal lasting a full nine more days from today and a second trading session should be enough to get a foothold in the higher reward brackets.

The sporty looking diamondback is the latest offering from Lakon Spaceways, and is set to be a fine addition to any pilots collection. Speculation is running wild - I'm hoping for a mid sized blockade runner in the fifty million range with enough hardpoints for it to be taken seriously.
I talked about building a blockade runner from a Lakon Sixer in my Lakon Type-6 outfitters article, and I really like the idea of a dedicated multipurpose ship - kind of like a big brother to the Asp.

Are you a fan of community goals? Is the look of the new diamondback enough to capture your interest or do you have another ship in mind?  Is a 3% discount enough to make you join in? How much would it take?

I've been Cmdr TwingTwang, reporting from Hamilton Gateway in Wolf 406 where things are heating up. Fly Casual, pilots.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Elite Dangerous Outfitters - Vulture Revisited

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

Today we'll be talking about the Vulture again. The Vulture is a space superiority starfighter that offers great performance and manoeuvrability.  Ballparking at around twenty million credits once equipped the Vulture also boasts incredible value for money in combat providing unparalleled bang for the buck.

In my first Vulture Outfitters article I gave my first impressions of the ship and  I had time to return to the vulture after a long time flying other ships and I've got to say I'm still impressed. The vulture turns on a dime, and while it's not super fast on the straight it is no slouch when it comes to holding position in combat. Most recently I've also been flying a sidewinder and a lot of the lessons I learned in the Vulture helped me in the sidewinder, and vice-versa.

General Loadout
I'm going to assume at this point that you have a Vulture to hand and enough money to fit Class-A Power Plant, Distributor, Thrusters and Shields.  My sensors and life support are D to save power and the Frame Shift is in power group 2, so inactive during combat.

This means you should look something like this before you start outfitting:

BH: 1I Lightweight Alloy
RB: 4A Power Plant
TM: 5A Thrusters
FH: 4A Frame Shift Drive
EC: 3D Life Support
PC: 5A Power Distributor
SS: 4D Sensors
FS: 3C Fuel Tank (Capacity: 8)

That build is going to total just under fifteen million, and leave you plenty of spending money for shields, weapons and toys.

Power Management
Like the viper - or any other fighter - the Vulture is really limited by its power plant. Even the 4A only gives you 15.6 MW to play with so you have to balance your priorities carefully but since your FSD can safely power down when the hardpoints deploy you can use the full 15.6 on your combat loadout. It only saves you an extra 0.45 but every little helps.

This Vulture build was designed with some of the community goal conflict zones in mind, so I've chosen a Class-D Life Support that runs all the time, instead of a Class-A that gets shut off when the hardpoints deploy.  An escort fighter can deal with the short flight time caused by the life support cutting out but a warship needs to stay in the fight a lot longer.

Hard choices in hard points
In my previous vulture outfits, I've been using paired C3 Gimbal Beams, dual E3 Gimbal Burst and dual E3 Gimbal Pulse Lasers.  Going back to the sidewinder has taught me to fly with fixed lasers again, and after trying several loadouts I flew my sidewinder with a fixed beam and gimbal cannon and had a lot of success with that combo.  The fixed beam allows you to track your target and ignore chaff, and the cannon allows you to start really tearing into the hull once the shields go down.

The dual gimbal burst lasers I used before are a quality compromise, and don't have the punch of the beams but only draw 1.65MW each - still a massive 3.3MW energy budget for weapons.

Dual C3 Gimbal Beams are only a fraction higher at 3.56MW, but drain the banks faster and overheat more readily.  In a long fight, your overheating beams will cut out and reduce your damage output so it might be that the lower rated burst lasers actually fare better. In addition, you'll have to reduce your shields or thrusters to find the power to run them.

The higher damage per second means the C3 Fixed beams cost a fraction more energy, and since the Vulture has no trouble staying on target they are a good contender, however having at least one gimbal really helps you target submodules for power plant takedowns so I've moved to asymmetric options.

The next option is the high power Beam+Plasma option. Costing 3.75MW it's not much more expensive than dual beams, and really does the damage. I found that heat problems upset me here, and while I dished out a lot of damage I also took quite a lashing as I had to use a lower-grade shield. Overall I didn't feel as comfortable using plasma - smaller targets were literally hit or miss, too often miss... Meanwhile against bigger ships like anacondas I found the my ship got super hot, and thermal overload shut down both weapons leaving me sitting duck in my reduced power shields.

Flying the vulture with a C3 Gimbal Beam and a C3 Gimbal Cannon worked out really well for me, and it's a tough call to say if I preferred it to dual burst lasers. Your beam laser is slower at slicing through shields, but the gimbal really helps it lock on to ship modules and get power-plants quickly too. The Gimbal Cannon is great at wrecking hulls, and can try to target modules too. This combo takes only 2.53MW which is a huge advantage and saves you an extra MW to for other systems.

I found the gimbal frag cannon pretty good too. Its damage output at point blank range is scary good and its at that range you can afford the fixed-forward, which I think uses a lot less power. The gimbal cannon felt like it hit ship submodules, while the fragger doesn't really do anything that precise. Again this is a fairly low power combo at 2.8MW but I think I just preferred the straight cannon on the Vulture.

A note on the Gimbal beam is that it can struggle to track, especially against chaffing cobras. Just untarget the ship and it'll revert to fixed-forward, allowing you to line up your shot and keep dealing damage until the chaff expires.  I found the cannon doesn't suffer from this so much, as you will only shoot when you have a clear line of fire and by the time you open up the cannon your quarry will often have burned through their chaff. You can often just wait for the chaff to expire too, and use the chance to refill your laser banks and let your smoking guns cool down.

Lastly, if you are building an escort fighter or bounty hunter for a wing then a Class-A life support that powers down when the hardpoints deploy should be fine as you'll be returning to the station to collect the bounty anyway.  In a ship like this, I'l might pick the fragger instead of the cannon, as you will have time to reload and want to maximise your damage per second.

Soaking up a massive 6MW, the 5A thrusters eat your energy budget for breakfast and while you can save about 0.5MW for each grade you drop down I didn't fare as well with 5B thrusters so wasn't encouraged to fly with the 5Cs. It may be a placebo effect, and I've not done any serious instrumentation on their performance but even with the smidgeon of extra power you can throw into weapons or shields I found that Manoeuvring with the 5A was just that much better, so I'm going to keep recommending them.
I tend to divert power to engines to top the capacitor ready for a boost but rarely fly with more than one pip in engines, better power management helps.

I'd be interested in doing some instrumented tests on the difference between the 5B and 5A thrusters, because if the difference is slight, then the extra power may be better used elsewhere, but I ~felt~ better with the 5A which is all I've got to go on so far.

Shield Options
One trick I developed from flying a sidewinder recently is that you can afford to have an extra shield booster (or two) in power group 2. They will be powered down when your guns are out but you can stow your hardpoints and get an extra 20% shields strength (or more). This is super useful if you are trying to get out of the line of fire, or if you know you won't need to shoot for five seconds.

I tried a build without Shield Banks, which is a difficult decision.  In the vulture I'm rarely getting tagged so their main use is to increase your income by staying in the fight non-stop.  However I'm not flying the Vulture for the income, so don't mind holding my position for a minute and letting the shields restore before I get back into the fray. If you are a big PVP player, then you'll have more use for the shield bank, but I'll leave that discussion for another day. If you do want it, then add your shield bank into power group 2 or 3 as you won't have the juice for it during combat.

This leaves me with a 5A Shield bank and three Class-B Shield Boosters. One used the extra MW I freed up from my hardpoints and two of the boosters are in the secondary power group so don't activate during combat, but thats OK.  I found that with the weapons overheating I had to take breaks and anecdotally stowing the hardpoints helps them cool down so I was putting my guns away even for a five second break between ships and getting the benefit from the extra protection too.

For the technically minded, (or those on a budget) the Class-5C shield generator with a Class-B shield booster gives you better protection than a Class-A shield on its own, for a smidgeon less power consumption and about a tenth the purchase price. (600K instead of 5M Credits) I had to do a lot of value-for-money comparisons building a sidewinder on a budget, and a lot of lessons like this transfer across to the larger ships.  Your real currency is the power consumption in the vulture, not the purchase price, but it's a point of interest nonetheless.

The last note on shields, is that I'm probably being over protective here.  The shields on my vulture hardly ever get taken down, and while that could be attributed to the extra shield booster, the nimble turning circle of the ship does a lot of work for you. Its just as viable to put less energy into the shields if you do want to run two high energy weapons however every now and then you get sandwiched between two anacondas and the extra shields really pay off.

Closing thoughts
Overall, my Vulture build came to about 23M Credits so the insurance is a little over a million and I had a few million in the bank for insurance so wasn't much worried about wrecking a few in combat trying out different loadouts. A Vulture on a Budget can be had from about 16.5M by fitting Class-B Thrusters and Shields, and the insurance there is going to be a little over 850K, but the ship isn't quite as strong.

It's a competent ship with plenty of options but I found the biggest problem was those overheating lasers. Beam and Cannon was the most fun, and didn't drain the banks as much as the dual laser combinations, so I'm going to keep those for a while.

I've not talked about colours yet ... I'm flying mine orange to match the Orion Arm Privateers who I'm flying with these days but I'm really coming round to the look of the blue vulture. Which scheme do you think looks best? Which paint style from another ship would you like to see on the vulture?

I hope these thoughts on the Vulture help you get the most from your ship.  Coming back to the vulture after flying small ships again has really given me a fresh perspective on it. What has been your favourite loadout - are you a beams or a burst pilot?

Friday, 8 May 2015

Elite Dangerous Outfitters - Lakon Type 9 Transport.

Hey space cadets what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the outfitters

In this article we'll be talking about the Lakon Type Nine Transport, while I've written a little about the smaller ships I realised I've neglected the big ole Fat-9 for outfitting.

As a first-time buyer, trading up to the Fat9 represents a huge investment in time and money compared to the T7 or Python a lot of people come from. Firstly you will have saved up the 76M purchase price, which its difficult to do by accident, and secondly you will be buying the ultimate space truck from Lakon and the only vessel - at time of writing - that breaks the five-hundred tonne capacity so its understandable you want to get the most out of the ship.

The shop floor Fat9 is a snap at 76M Credits, getting you a 220T ship with a 6.62 to 7.71 Light Year range but before you fly it off the forecourt with those specs we're going to take a while now and talk about the minimum practical configuration for a money-making Fat9.

Jump Range
If you are a dedicated space trucker, you'll have your favorite route that maximises your Cr/H profit in your smaller ship. The same route might not work so well with the reduced jump range of a Type-9 if it takes several additional jumps to get from end to end, which is going to take time and cut into your profits.
Before buying the big ole beast, you need to have a profitable route ready to go - it'll be super annoying if you bought the ship and then had to search for a route. Thankfully you can easily buy a disposable sidewinder for 32K at one end of your route and equip it for a similar jump range to the Fat9. Browse the galaxy map with this ship and see what the routes look like.  You are after the highest profit route with the fewest jumps, which might result in a different journey to your regular route.

The minimum configuration Fat9 is going to have a Class-E Frame Shift Drive.  Don't upgrade this unless it reduces the number of jumps in your route - for example I needed to make an 11.4LY jump, which meant the Class-E,D,C,B drives fell short and only the A could make it.  There was no reason to buy anything in the middle and I upgraded straight from the E to the A when I could afford it. Likewise, you should buy the smallest you need for your route - we'll talk about how to spend if you are flush with cash later.

On the first day that you buy a Fat9, you should increase the internal capacity as high as you want to go but as long as its higher than your previous ship then you are set to make money faster so the purchase was worth it.

I'm going to talk about the three real options here:

  1. Defended Size-6 shields and 468T of cargo
  2. Reccomended Size-5 shields and 500T of cargo
  3. Baremetal with 532T of cargo

Defended Build
The defended build makes a lot of sense. The 6A shields give you about 29% more protection than the 5A option, and will keep you safer for longer while you make the jump to supercruise and escape from trouble.
The downside here is that the 6A shields cost sixteen million credits and they cost you 64T of cargo space - which equates to a net loss of about half a million credits per hour compared to the baremetal 532T option.
The Defended Build is ONLY worth it if you are spending the extra million on shield boosters.  Four Class-A shield boosters will cost under 1.2M Credits and make the world of difference - the 6A by itself has little value, as you could afford a 5A with boosters for a third the price and get better protection.

Recommend Build
The pilots choice award goes to the best size five shields you can afford. I actually did my first run with a 372T capacity using Size-5 shields as I didn't quite have enough money for the full cargo hold plus insurance so my Internal compartments looked like this:

8: 7E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 128)
7: 7E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 128)
6: 6E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 64)
5: 5E Shield Generator
4: 4E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 16)
4: 4E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 16)
3: 3E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 8)
3: 3E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 8)
2: 2E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 4)

As you can see, the 5E shields are a cheap starting point, and the 7E cargo rack in the Size-8 Compartment is at least enough to get you flying and makes more profit than than any of the smaller ships.
The 5A shield with a cheap 280K Shield booster will give about the same protection as a 6A shield, and only cost a fraction of the price.  Keep adding those Shield Boosters - you can afford them very quickly with a big earner like this.

Barmetal Build
If you don't have shields, you can fit a 532 tonnes of cargo into the Fat9. And I played like this for a while to benefit from the extra income it provides over the 500T build with shields.

I ran the numbers and while you can take a few bumps and scrapes docking and launching, the extra profits cover this so 532 Tonnes make more money than 500T even paying for small repairs. Its only earning an extra quarter of a million an hour than a shielded ship so you have to be really pinching the pennies and in a hurry for cash to run this ship.

In all honesty, and having done both, I'm going to recommend the 500T with shields build over the baremetal option. While the occasional docking scrape costs you less than the extra profit you make, you only have to get tagged once and you have a five-million credit insurance payout to cover.

Internal Components
Since the Class-A FSD costs fifteen million credits, it's worth doing everything else you can to decrease your tonnage and increase your range. So I'm going to recommend a Class-D refit across the board. This isn't super needed, but I do recommend it. It's possible that a smaller FSD will suit you, and I'll leave that you your trading and planning skills.

Its worth mentioning that the 5A power plant costs five million - ten times as much as the 6D but has more power, excellent heat efficiency, and weighs less. Its a good choice for a Fat9 freighter and has enough power for 5A shields and four Class-A shield boosters too.

A reasonable Type-9 Lakon starts leaves you with a 500T capacity is going to increase your purchase price to about 108 Million Credits providing a 12.8 - 18.1 Ly range. The full loadout starts to look like this:

M: 1F/F Pulse Laser
M: 1F/F Pulse Laser
U: 0A Shield Booster
U: 0A Shield Booster
U: 0A Shield Booster
U: 0A Shield Booster

BH: 1I Lightweight Alloy
RB: 5A Power Plant
TM: 7D Thrusters
FH: 6A Frame Shift Drive
EC: 5D Life Support
PC: 6D Power Distributor
SS: 4D Sensors
FS: 6C Fuel Tank (Capacity: 64)

8: 8E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 256)
7: 7E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 128)
6: 6E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 64)
5: 5A Shield Generator
4: 4E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 16)
4: 4E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 16)
3: 3E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 8)
3: 3E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 8)
2: 2E Cargo Rack (Capacity: 4)

For the tweakers, you can drop the laser pointers, or replace them with a combination of chaff, mines, or turrets.  I've tried most combos, and generally once you are shielded and can jump to FSD your hardpoints aren't that significant.  Chaff and Mines are strongly recommended, although I have turret cannons on all five of my hardpoints just for the fun of being able to fire cannons.

This 108 Million build isn't the minimum profitable Fat9, but its a reasonably cheap build that maximises the ship well.  On top of the purchase you want about eleven million for twice the insurance and about the same again for cargo if you are shifting something costly like palladium so you need about a hundred and thirty million credits in assets before you take the plunge.

You can drop the shields, and FSD range to build a budget Fat9 and reduce your overheads to about 85M. You'll need the same twenty million on top of the to fly the ship, so the entry level for the ship is about 105M Cr. I really wouldn't recommend investing in a type nine with a penny less.

War Cow
For a few extra credits one could fit turrets in all the hardpoints and fill the ship with shields and shield banks. Its not graceful, nor does it pack a punch, but it's a fun and quirky way to rack up a couple of bounties - as long as you have a wingman or three to help you out before it gets too hot.

I have turret cannons on my Fat9 because I love the feeling of cannons. They never get fired except for fun, but a mix of fraggers and beams would add a little playful punch to this build and you could protect yourself against the riff raff, even in a combat zone.  Meanwhile you can always ram another ship and generally come out on top. Top-Tip... Fixed-Forward plasma helps soften up hulls as you approach them at ramming speed.

Closing thoughts
Lastly, it has to be said that the Lakon Spaceways Type Nine transport is a great earner. It'll net you 5M Cr/H trading local routes, and push 6 or 7 million if you have good nav locked jumps too. You won't get this from a smaller ship and this is one of the fastest ways to earn some spending cash. Other pilots will be happy to fly on your wing, as the trade bonds are a good enough incentive.

Outfitting the Fat9 isn't as tough as a space superiority starfighter, and you can pretty much have any configuration you want as long as you've got the cash available - and if you don't its a fast way to earn. For the most part its possible to buy a minimum configuration ship and trade up for the other bits you want.

That said it is an expensive ship to fly and you have to commit to a significant price tag, but the increased profits reduce the time you spend trading. This means you can spend time flying missions, and being a general space cowboy in your other ships.  For me this ship is a money-making enabler and a solid way to fund my gameplay, and I quickly hop back into the cockpit every week or two to grab an extra five or ten million to buy a shiny thing that has caught my eye.

Do you have any experiences flying the Fat9?  Are you about to trade up from a smaller ship and want some advice, or have a perspective from the other side as an anaconda pilot?
If you have any thoughts about the Fat9 then leave a comment, if there is an outfitters article or particular ship or build you'd like to hear about then let me know.

Keep on space trucking, and fly casual everybody.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Elite Dangerous Outfitters - Combat Sidewinder

Hey space cadets, what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the outfitters.

In this article we'll be looking at the ultimate underdog, the Sidewinder, and the upgrade choices I've made recently.  Since starting from scratch again I've flown the sidewinder for a lot longer than I did first time around, but its quite a system shock to be in the ship.

The shop floor sidewinder has class-E components across the board, dual pulse lasers and is a 4T vessel with a 6.96 - 7.56 Light year range.  While the ship was initially free, for fairness of comparison its got a purchase price of 32,000 Credits.

With only 1000 credits to my name I took this Class-E sidewinder out to a local conflict zone and shot up some bad guys to earn enough for upgrades.  I gave a review of the Class-E sidewinder in my first article and this will carry on from there.

Flight Feel
The sidewinder is the eternal underdog, and starting from Class-E doesn't help, but you have to fly it to its advantages - little as they are.  You have to get into point blank range to stay out of fire arcs, which is a dangerous place to be when it goes wrong but you can't outgun or outshield other ships to repeated lancing attacks are never going to go in your favour.
Corkscrewing around your enemy at point blank means vary carefully matching speed, tapping flight assist on and off when you need it and making boosts if you have to. You'll spend your whole time staring at a ships top surface or underbelly that will near fill your view but that's just peachy. Larger ships with turrets will tear you a new canopy, and I haven't found a way to deal with that yet but tight turns with fixed forward pulse lasers will do the damage against everything else.
Because of the way angular velocity works, if you are close enough you should be able to stay in the sweet spot for long periods of time. As you increase your distance you'll find they can turn quickly enough to level weapons at you, and your only response to getting shot at is to get closer.

Power Distributor
The first problem I has was my laser banks empting, so upgrades went into the power distributor to try and get more bank for the buck. Each grade above Class-E gets you about 10% more, with the Class-A getting you 40% more capacity and a 50% higher recharge rate to weapons and costing 20,000 credits.  The extra power to engines and shields is a well received bonus here - The class-E shields aren't enough to keep you safe if you get tagged, and its impossible to boost to safety with the shop-floor ship.

Even with a Class-A power distributor, and flying like I was in a vulture, I found that I still got hit in combat zones. Sometimes you'll approach a ship that you didn't expect to have turrets, or take hits from a second ship on your six. In these cases, you've lost your proactive stance and have to read the situation and react.
The Class-E shields are rated at 52MJ, and you get an extra +4 out of each class upgrade. Its not that significant but every little helps.  The Class-D is a snap at 6000Cr, and even the Class-C is affordable at just under 18000Cr.  The step up to the Class-B shields is a massive 53KCr... So here comes the science bit...
The Class-C shields with a OD Shield booster in your utility slot will cost 40K, and get you a 64.8MJ shield strength compared to the 53K you have to pay for the same protection from the Class-B shields on its own. The same goes for adding a second Class-D shield booster - cheaper and better protection that those big old Class-B shields.
However, You'll need to upgrade your Power Plant to Class-D for an extra Six Thousand Credits to be able to run the C-Shield and D-Booster combo. But its still cheaper and well worth it.

Mathmatical Madness?
I know it looks like I was overthinking the Sidewinder outfit, but I had plenty of time to think. Every few kills I scored, I'd get scratched up and it only takes getting destroyed and loosing your earnings a couple of times before you realise you need to dock, repair, and spend your pittance finding the most cost effective next upgrade.
My Power Distributor and shield setup is a 90K ship, and I viewed each purchase as the most important next thing to buy. Your experience may vary, but this is what mattered to me.

Obviously I'd love to spend the money on top-spec shields, but that spend comes in at about a million credits - ten times as much as my current bank balance, although I suspect even a top spec sidewinder is going to be a difficult ship to keep safe.

For the record, a Class-A sindewinder isn't going to cost much more than a million credits as the shields and power systems are going to be your biggest purchase. I know 1M sounds like pocket change to experienced pilots, but when you start out it's a daunting milestone.

Internal Systems
I found myself buying other ship systems one at a time as I could afford them, and not worrying too much about the exact build. The importance of the Power, Shields and Weapons took priority over everything else, and had I really focused on shields it would have cost every credit I earned.

The dual laser pointer setup of the stock sidewinder quickly gets tiring, but the other options aren't super inspiring either.
The gimbal pulse lasers have the same power consumption as the fixed-forward, and although my fire arc wasn't a problem they do make it easier to target subsystems and take a little pressure off of the turn.
The fixed forward beams cost about 37K each - half as much as the gimbal beams and after getting used to pulse lasers for so long the extra damage output is really appreciated and you've just about got the energy to run them.
My biggest problem with the pair of small hardpoints was the lack in killing blow. The dual beams will take down shields - maybe slower than you are used to but they manage it. The problem is they take several sustained bursts to slice through all but the smallest hulls and I found a number of enemy ships fleeing the battle and making the frame shift jump.
Fitting one beam and one cannon or frag cannon is a problem in the sidey, as the projectile weapons require different target leading to the laser. Even at point blank range this can still make a difference, and for this reason I'm going to recommend one gimbal and one fixed if you don't want them both on gimbals.  I found that a fixed beam and gimbal cannon felt pretty good.
The beams cost 37K for fixed and 74K Gimbal.
Cannons come in at 21K for fixed and 42K for the gimbals
The 1E Fraggers are 36K and 54K for the Gimbals.

I didn't try multicannons, and while I know they are favourites of some pilots I've never really got on with them. The choice here starts to become a personal one, although I usually recommend frag cannons for escort fighters and cannons for conflict zones.
The cheapest option, 37K fixed beam and 42K Gimbal cannon, works surprisingly well and I liked that a lot - and not just because of my limited funds. I found most ships that fire chaff do so fairly early, so the gimbal beams lost track early and slowed down the initial fight. This pilots choice award goes to the beam+frag combo rather than the straight cannon because I liked the additional damage per second and didn't mind the trips back to the station to re-arm as I could claim some bounties.
The downside of the extra time taken to break down shields can be a problem

With its fragile hull the combat sidewinder is a dangerous way to earn a living, but you can still pick up bounties as long as you don't overcommit. Conflict zones are a lot more dangerous than single bounties because you aren't equipped to deal with more than one ship at once and the sidewinder gets outnumbered quickly. Unlike the larger fighters, life in a sidewinder can switch instantly from full shields to punching your ejector seat so I'd recommend cashing in bounties frequently and repairing even small scratches in your hull - overconfidence doesn't just cost you your insurance payout, but you lose bounties which is the larger tragedy.

The sidewinder is a much more competent ship that I'd previously given it credit for and while it's no match for a vulture you can still deal the damage if you can stay out of trouble.  The insurance cost is very low although repairs, insurance and ammunition do add up when you are on the poverty line.

I've more than answered the question "why does anybody fly a sidewinder?" although I'm very unlikely to switch back to one once I have the couple of million needed to buy and outfit a Viper. I'm not sure if I'm going to stay in my trusty sidey until then or switch up to the Eagle and repeat the process.  I suspect the Eagle is going to earn money faster than the sidey, and with a bounty hunting community goal this week every it'll pay to take every advantage I can get.

Any other thoughts from dedicated sidewinder pilots? Have you every gone back to the Sidey for a bit if wing-and-a-prayer space-flight?  Which loadout did you settle on?  If you have any outfitters articles you'd like to see, thoughts feedback or comments then let me know.

Don't forget to like, share, favourite, follow and subscribe. I'll be back soon with a review of that Eagle. Until then, fly casual.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Elite Dangerous Second Account - from riches to rags.

Hey space cadets what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the space bar. 

In the first part I tried to give an honest appraisal of the sidewinder and the first leg of my journey from the ground up. In this article I'm going to spare the details on combat or trading and talk a little more about the philosophy and mentality of the second account.

A good fraction of my playing time has been social in ad-hoc groups or combat and trade wings and I've never wanted to give that up so didn't go exploring. Because I fly with the fleet at least once a week, there wasn't any easy way to go exploring however I want to get my explorer rank up and decided now was the time.

Why Exploring? I don't really know. The plan was always to get a trade ship and use that to fund exploration and combat endeavours, and sticking to this plan gave me a playing experience sponsored by Lakon Spaceways, sprinkled with some combat experience in various ships along the way. Right now its time for something different and sending my main ship exploring will leave my secondary account fighting in conflict zones.

Purchase Price
Its probably quite possible to fit some short range exploration in and still be back each week in time for some social gameplay, but really the only option is two accounts.  The extra purchase costs £39.99, which isn't cheap but isn't outside the realms of affordable either. The financial cost is a once-off payment and being reasonable the cost of the game is worth less than the cost of my playing time if I'm going to play seriously.
If you are thinking of buying a second account, then consider how much time you are going to spend in it and if it counts as value for money. However you roll the dice, forty quid is a lot of money for a sidewinder though.

Starting from scratch
Having a second account isn't the same as having a second pilot on your main account. There is no safety net, no shared credit balance and no easy option to transfer money between ships. Its not like having a roster of ships to fly, and earning money in one account provides no transferable benefit to the other.
This is why I'm going exploring on my main account - I'll receive the accolades, rank, credits and the reputation for the effort. The secondary account will get nothing, and in fact anything it does earn will be throwaway, valueless to me overall.

Friends and groups
My friends list is cleared and I'm not in any private groups, which feels oddly harsh and makes space a lonely place for a sidewinder.  I've added a couple of Alliance pilots that know me, and was able to get some trade bonds as well as serve as a Nav Lock beacon. (yey) but I don't want to make new friends, and don't want to divide my friends between accounts either.
This was a big reason to go exploring with the second account, and keep flying space planes with my friends.

Shake it up
If I just wanted a change of pace in my gameplay, I could go exploring in my main account. I can afford a few weeks in the void and to be honest its no big deal.  If you are thinking about exploring because its something different, or you want to be the first to discover something, then save up the money you need and just go for a jaunt across the galaxy.
I wouldn't recommend buying a second account just so you can do two things at once. Overall I'm aware that its a luxury item that really isn't needed for the enjoyment of the game, and its just as good to stay with one account  - better if the ranks and earnings matter to you - and do these things as the mood takes you.

Sock Puppet
There is a short crossover between my new account arriving and my main one leaving, and I shamelessly logged in to both at once so that my sidewinder could earn trade bonds from my type nine as it saved up for the Asp explorer.
This felt pretty lame, but its a tax on the game for not providing me a better way to do this. I want to transfer twenty million to my second account so I can get setup with a Vulture and keep on fighting while I'm off exploring and there are no options here. (ab)using the second account like this isn't a great reason to buy one but the maths are interesting to consider. The nav-locked jumps speed up my trading by about a million credits per hour, or twenty percent of your takings if you are in a smaller ship, plus I get around 150K/Hour deposited in the secondary account by way of trade bonds. Again expect lower figure if your main trade ship is smaller.
Forty pounds gets me an extra million per hour - its almost like a bribe, I mean, backer benefit all over again.

Colour Coded
As well as missing my in-game purchases, the second account doesn't have access to the out-of-game purchases I've made - paint jobs. So I've gone from a majestic stella peacock to flying stock ships like a space scrub.
This doesn't matter much, but it is a difference that's allowed me to reevaluate how important the look of my ship is.  I suspect my second account won't get any perks or extras for a long time - if ever. It feels like they are being thrown away as "I can't take them with me" and when I switch back to my main account it'll all be forgotten.

Captains Blog
I also wanted to go exploring and write a bit about it, but didn't want to sacrifice the ability to discuss ships and outfits. These are mutually exclusive tasks, and unresolvable without a second account.  A hiatus or worse, a rather dull "This one time, at the nebula..." monologue would be about as interesting to write as it would to read and starting from a sidewinder in the second account has given me plenty to write home about.

Overall, starting a second account was clean and painless. I think I had to use two different email addresses to sign up with, but that no real problem in this day and age. I used a gaming aliases I've had in the past so it should be easy to remember.

The £40 luxury spend on a second account just so I can explore the galaxy is an expensive spend that I wouldn't recommend overall. For me, the purchase price is smaller than the cost of my time and I don't overly object to paying it but for most gamers this extra exploration tax is going to be too high to represent value for money - You don't get anything you didn't already have, but pay for the privilege.

Despite pointing out all the negatives, starting a second account isn't the wrong move for me and I've got less buyers remorse now than I did when I bought my Type-7 Transport.  Its going to enhance my gaming experience, I've enjoyed the first baby steps in the Sidewinder, and I'm going to enjoy being able to explore as well as fly locally over these next six weeks.