Commander’s Briefing 6 1/2

Combat….. Defending yourself, hunting bounties, being a pirate…. all of these involve being able to effectively defend yourself, your cargo, your passengers and your reputation.

The first thing to remember is – there will always be someone out there with a better ship, tougher weapons, more skills, immersive pilot headsets, a wagglier flight control and many other things that will make life difficult for you.

I’m going to base this section of the briefing on you having a Sidewinder with a pair of gimballed lasers. It’s the kind of easily available load-out that will keep you alive. Yes, it makes you a little lazy; yes, you could use fixed lasers and exhibit more skill. Yes, you could take multi cannons and go cold. You could even take an Anaconda, but that’s like taking an RPG to a fistfight.

Go to Dahan. Look for the high intensity conflict zone. Arrive. Stop for a second – your radar will take a few seconds to react.

You’ll see lots of triangles flying around on your radar. There will probably be a huge hulk on fire.

In this zone, Eranin’s fighters are battling against the Federation. As soon as you choose sides, someone will start shooting you. If you’re parked next to an Anaconda and choose Eranin, you’ll instantly become a target.

Before you choose sides – and for this session, you WILL be choosing Eranin – flick through the targets using the top hat on your X52. Lakons, Fed Fighters, Anacondas, Eagles, Sidewinders and Cobras.

Choose one – target it. Bring them around to your front view. You’ll see that your ship display says “scanning”. A few seconds later and more information will appear on the ship.

Then. Practice flicking through the subsystems. I’d recommend taking the shield, that way they can’t raise it again once you’ve given them a partial spanking.

Highlight the feds in succession, get the info on them. This will speed things up later.

Then. Take a look at your power balance. Before you choose a side, you need to remember a few important things.

1. Make sure your engines are fully charged. Having a “boost” in your pocket – no, I don’t mean the chocolate bar, I mean a get out of jail free, scarper fast, chase down an enemy kind of boost means that even if you dump power away from the engines during combat, you’ve got some speed available when you most need it.

This is important. If between kills you don’t charge that bar back up again, you’re entering unprepared. It’s like going out on a date without taking protection with you. not the done thing and going to land you up in a world of pain one way or another.

2. Your shields
That bubble of safety around you. It’s what keeps you from a big repair bill. If someone’s shooting at you whilst charging from 3k out, particularly if they’re an Eagle or a Cobra, your shield will be down before they reach you and certainly their weapons will do more damage than yours in the same period.

Do not get into an **** kicking contest with a porcupine. Do not yank a bear’s whiskers and think you can wrestle it. You’ll end up full of holes, disembowelled and crying in the corner somewhere.

If someone is charging at you shooting and you’ve got less than 2 pips in your shield… You’re doing it wrong. If someone’s charging at you who is much bigger than you and you have less than 4 pips in your shield, he will eat your intestines for breakfast having eaten your eyeballs for a tasty snack.

With two gimballed pulse lasers, one bank of them before they overheat is sufficient to kill a fighter. For a Sidewinder, it will most likely drop their shields. On a cobra, it will make their shields turn red. On an Anaconda, it will get their attention and make them turn the cannons on you.

So – bearing this in mind. Taking notes. Listening hard.

Go prepared. Prepare to adjust your power balance as you go. If you’ve got him in your sights and he’s NOT pointing at you, dump power to the weapons and unload as much as you can into him. If he IS pointing at you, push power to shields and weapons so you (hopefully) don’t die. If he’s flying at you and you think you’ll get beaten in the joust – hit that boost button you’ve so cunningly saved up and shoot past him ready for a classic turning war.

Take a swig of whatever energy drink you’ve brought with you. You’ve listened so far. Hopefully someone hasn’t killed you whilst you’ve been faffing around with the controls.

Look at the targets around you. If they’re further away from you than 3k, you can’t hit them. If the number starts with a 2, you can hit them. In general, the closer you are, the more hitty your hitting will be.

Time to pick sides. Choose Eranin.

Flick through your targets using the hat. All of a sudden, the target computer will make a different noise and one will go red. Keep going until you see a Fed Fighter.

Splat the rat. Get within range and shoot it. It will explode after a few hits and you’ll be 500cr richer.

Easy. You shouldn’t need to change your power setup from “balance” for this.

Next, pick a Sidewinder. Shoot at it. If he’s not reading the Sunday papers, scratching his backside with both hands, completely wall-eyed or busy with something else, he will turn to attack you back.

You should unload your full weapon bank into him, making sure that at least 2 pips were in shields at this point. If you want, sacrifice a little from the engines.

As your weapons start to overheat, you should be right on top of him. Put some power to weapons and get ready for a turning war. If he’s running from you or banking, he’s not going to be damaging your shield much. As long as someone else isn’t shooting at you, keep a minimum of 2 pips in the shields.

Make sure your throttle is in the blue zone. Bank hard. Use vertical thrusters to tighten or widen the arc. If you want to dump power to the engines to give you more turning speed, feel free – as long as your weapons are recharging and your shields aren’t low.

“Why widen it?”

If it’s too tight, you’ll get him in view, get one or two shots and then he’ll disappear again. Use the downward thruster to widen the arc so it takes a little longer, but the target is further away when you reach him. Gives you more time to unload the weapons at him.

OK. You’re feeling brave and want to try something. He’s banking hard and above you.
Hit the “i” button on your left hand control.

Flight assist off.

He’ll drop into view. As soon as he’s in your viewport, poke it again.

Flight assist on.

Boost.

Shoot.

Try it. Try it again. Try it some more. Keep trying it. Once you’re used to it, you can leave glowing skidmarks anywhere out there OTHER than your underwear.

Go. Review your notes. Try it out. Next time we’ll look at using lateral thrusters in combat and how to kill an Anaconda. How to evade being shot.

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