Fuel, travel and trading part 2

Right – an early start this morning, commanders. I have had a few conversations in the station bar about past copies of my briefings and yes, some of them are dated from a while back. They’re still pertinent, so don’t ignore them.

Onward to fuel, travel and advanced trading.

Before we start, the caffeine, as usual is in the corner. Mine’s an Earl Grey tea with a dash of milk if you’re making.

Frontier have now put limits on our fuel – previously, we had enough to get us anywhere we wanted but now they’ve given us digital readouts and the ability to refuel at stations.

The good news is that after a few refuelling incidents at the Romanenko Estate, the refuelling rigs now seal correctly and don’t barbecue the station staff.

If you look at your cockpit there is now a fuel readout in the bottom right of your view. It shows how much you’re burning and how quickly, how much is left.

Your fuel is split into two tanks – the stuff you’re burning right now, and the stuff you use to jump around the galaxy like a frog in a sock.

If you go to the galaxy map – yes, that’s the one on the left that makes your engines stop and you to go “whoah” when it zooms in, you can now see dotty lines all over the place from where you are.

Your fuel, funnily enough, limits where you can travel to. It also depends on what drive is fitted to your ship and how chubby you are.

If you have a Viper with a full weapon loadout, lots of equipment and a hold full of lead, you can just about make it off the landing pad.

If you have an empty Cobra with no guns, you’ll feel like you’re a parkour superstar on Elite:Tube.

If you explore the options on the galaxy map screen, you’ll see a little slider that will change the dotty lines depending on how much cargo you expect to have.

Let’s say for instance that you jumpe out from system A with an empty hold, ready to bring in a haul of cargo for a mission. You get there, you laugh at the interdictions, you dock without becoming part of the scenery, you buy up all your cargo and then go to jump. However, all of a sudden, your list of destinations has shrunk.

Funny that – the frame shift drive works by hurling your mass around like a slingshot firing a ping pong ball in a bubble. If your mass goes up and you become a golf ball, the slingshot won’t fire it as far. Your bubble won’t be man enough. It would pop. It’s the same size, but it would burst the bubble, things would get soapy and your ship will stay at relativistic speeds. OK, you won’t enter hyperspace. You can enter supercruise and burn fuel like an undergrowth clearing crew.

The good news is that even if you can’t make it in one jump, you can be kind to your soapy bubble and make it in little insy winsy jumps. Tentatively jump to one system, then straight to another until you reach your destination.

For one second, let’s say you’ve been a muppet and having loaded up your stuff and gone to the screen and there are NO other destinations. You have two options.

1. Sell your guns
I wouldn’t recommend this as it leaves you prone to becoming debris
2. Take less cargo
A good idea, you make less money but at least you aren’t stuck looking at the station interior and feeling depressed

You could change your ship – though that seems a little drastic and isn’t always an option at certain stations – Morgor being one. They don’t sell ships. Or guns. It’s a good example though.

In a Cobra, you can jump from there to LP+fourty something and onward to Wyrd. In a tooled up Viper, you can only go to Dahan. That’s not entirely a bad thing if you’re a combat hound.

What to do if you run out of fuel?

The kind people at Frontier give you two options
1. Call for help and someone will charge you extortionate amounts of money for a drizzle of low grade fuel
2. Blow your ship up in disgust and get a free ride home

For the uninitiated, or those lacking in curiosity, those options are in the right hand panels. The Self Destruct one has one of those big red buttons that says “do not push”. If you get boarded by a guy with a wooden leg, a hook for a hand and an eyepatch, threatening him with the big red button tends to leave you both floating in space looking at each other an ineffectually swearing across the void. You then get a free ride home strapped into a chair next to him. He smells of fish and alcohol.

All the testers are waiting on the release of new drives, improved fuel and improvements to the route planning software. The manufacturer of the navigation software has also been contacted about (and I quote) the software being a “flaming liar”.

Their software has also been on drugs. You can click a button to show trading routes. At this point, it all goes a little disco lights on the screen. If you’re zoomed out, it’s a mess. If you’re colourblind it is a complex puzzle that takes a while to sort out.

The colourful arcs are the expected trading routes between systems. However, if you’ve been paying attention, you shouldn’t need them. Agricultural planets make cows and need tractors. Extraction planets need heat proof suits and stimulants. Refineries need raw materials and rich places need eyebrow pencils and massage oil.

There is no substitute for a pencil and paper and I’ve said it before, don’t take a liquid filled pen. They make a mess. When you arrive somewhere, pay attention, take notes. If supply is HIGH and there is lots of stock and the price is below the Galactic Average, you might consider buying it. If when you arrive at your destination, demand is high and there’s no supply, it might be an idea selling it.

As a footnote to this briefing, I’ve seen a lot of comment in the station bar about docking jockeys, lost cargo, explosions in the docking bay entrance and the like.

There is no excuse. Use your eyes. Use your scanner. Slow down. Lights on.

If the docking entrance is clear, there are no pips on radar, go for it at speed and feel heroic. If you’re in a busy station and the radar is a mass of colour, you might want to exercise caution. Pull your tobacco out of your dressing gown pocket, roll yourself a smoke, open a copy of Commander’s Weekly, make a coffee, take a look and wait for it to be clear before proceeding. If you don’t smoke, chew gum. If you don’t have any gum, read a book. If you don’t have a book…. Re read these briefing notes, because you DID take a copy with you, didn’t you?

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