Elite: Making my first million....
Lots of my tool writing for Elite is for market data, this is because I'd like to be able to easily turn a profit trading from the beginning, unfortunately in the year 3301 (when the game is set) they've clearly done away with any form of spreadsheet or useful market analysis... I mean, they give you a tab to check a price against a known other location, but you have to have bought the data and... argh it's all so annoying, when we today have tools to find the best buys why doesn't the Elite galaxy?.. Argh...
So, markets and trading aside, how would I go about making my first million?... Simple, here's how (takes a deep breath).
Start out in your Sidewinder, immediately start doing the short hop cargo & data delivery missions, until you have around 15,000. This can be anything from 10 to 15 missions, as they generally pay around a grand, importantly though run into and out of the same station over and over, so you build reputation with that station.
Once you have friendly status you will start to see "Can you be the hero" type missions, these are where you are tasked to fly out into space and find things lost to the faction, like "Black Box" recordings from destroyed ships, "Art work" from convoys intercepted on their way to the station, "Rebel Transmissions" from opposing factions.
Accept these missions with relish!
Undock and fly to Unknown signal sources, when you land within them you're either going to find opposing ships, the feds or just the cargo flating around.
Obviously, if it's the cargo, scoop it up and fly home, more about that later.
If it's opposing ships, you can slowly learn to fight back, I do fight and defeat upto Cobra Mk III in my sidewinder, more about my fitting later.
If it's the feds however, and this is important for docking, if you are carrying the cargo more often than not that cargo is listed as "stolen", so if the feds (or a station) scan you you will get fined... Don't get fines!... Run away from the feds as fast as you can, never submit to an interdiction with the cargo on board, and if there are feds around when the cargo is found, wait for them to fly away then collect it up.
For docking, come into the station from frameshift and stay at least 8km away, move around at this distance without approaching the station, and align with the docking entrance.
Then, full power to engines, and boost... Request docking permission... and hopefully as they accept you should be about 5km from the opening going pretty fast... Stay aligned, boost again and get through that opening, the moment you pass the blue power curtains you are inside, you can drop your throttle to zero, remove power to your engines and drop your landing gear... this way you shed your speed quickly... A hard pull up or push down on your controls to turn the ship will also shed the speed you built up.
Hopefully you should be inside and can dock now, handing in the cargo for the mission reward.
But importantly you also want to be running these missions out of a station with a Black Market, because if you're sent off for 2 rebel transmissions, but you find 6!... well you can sell the remaining 4 on the black market, and this makes you a LOT of money, more than the mission!
Ancient Artifacts, Black Boxes, Rebel Transmissions and Rare Artworks are the four main items I've been smuggling this way...
If you're forced to undock with these kinds of cargo on board, get as lined up but far from the opening as you can, accellerate and boost out of the power curtains, then boost again as soon as possible, to speed in a straight line away from the station and avoid getting scanned. Fed ships out there will be your main worry rather than the instant death of the station opening up on you.
Now, for my fitting, I run the sidewinder as purchased, but have:
1 Pulse Laser (primary fire group) - fixed
1 Cannon (secondary fire group) - gimballed
Removed Basic Discovery Scanner for 2 x Cargo space.
This gives me a total of 6 cargo spaces, and enough punch on the offensive. I use the laser to take shields down and then hammer targets with the cannon, with the cannon being a limited ammunition store also it forces me to go hand in my bounties and cargo sooner rather than when it's too late.
Other improvements to the ship have been a better set of power generators, power relays, life support, jump drive etc... everything has been slowly upgraded as I've found better, but my fire power has remained the same.
My engaging tactic is based on the shield status, if no shields I get behind the target and open up with the cannon and laser, if shielded I just lay on them with the laser until it's 1/3 of the way and then hammer them down.
An opponent Sidewinder will take (with no shields) maybe 5 cannon shells to go critical and explode. Eagles take as little as 3. Cobra's are harder nuts to crack - but I do crack them.
I can, running this set up, earn 100,000 credits in about 45 minutes, depending on how many bounties I hoover up, but just doing cargo one can easily make 16,000 per excusion.
The best trading run I found required me to have a Hauler (12 cargo slots) and 64,000 credits to buy metals and port them off to another station for 14,000 profits per run. But I was vulnerable to attack, and it was very boring. With this sidewinder driven approach, I got to experience a bit more of the universe, I experienced markets, black markets, missions and combat... Much more varied.
What was the rub?... Well, with the free sidewinder insurance I risked only my current haul of bounties and cargo each fight/docking... But even so the upgrades to rebuy the whole ship was very cheap, with a 15 light year jump range, a bunch of power and other best in class units my repurchase price is only 7,436 credits. More than affordable to enjoy and play the started game.
My next challenge is at what credit balance to make the jump to a viper or cobra?... I have my cool first million... I think the viper might be the way to go for this play style... And start kitting it out.