This page is one of a 10 part tutorial. The tutorial is designed to be read in order.
You may follow this tutorial directly from the previous, which ended docked at Genesis, Moon. Alternatively, start a new character. Most of what follows is the same regardless of where you are.
Trade and Cargo
Log On (from launch bays, Centcom–Logon). The in-station display is similar to the Tactical/Logistix display in your ship. Navitron, Miscon and Commlink screens will all be familiar. The Engineering screen looks similar to that on the your ship’s Logistix and the general function is the same, but it uses station resources to conduct repairs. The Tradcom is a station-specific screen. As the name suggests, you can buy and sell cargo here. You can sell anything in the cargo bay of the ship you docked with (in this case, your battlecruiser). You can buy anything the station has in stock, so long as you have the money and appropriate cargo space free. The Tradecom screen also has a submenu called Info. This gives information about the local planet and its economy – this will be explained further in the context of trading.
What to buy
Trade items can roughly be divided into expendables (used in the normal operation of your ships), repair materials, replacement parts, upgrades and everything else (assorted trade goods). The two essential expendables are:
- Nutripaks: Food served onboard battlecruiser. 3 per day per man (about 350 per day with default crew).
- Radine (mineral): Powers battlecruiser’s nuclear reactor. Used by hyperjump engines and in routine reactor operation.
Other expenables you are very likely to need are:
- Combat Kits: ‘Prep’ marines. Also feeds teams on planets (1 per man per 8 hours).
- Iridium (mineral): Powers battlecruiser cloak.
- Plutonium (mineral): Powers battlecruiser shield.
- Radiation Control Unit: Clears radiation from one deck (following a radiation leak).
- Vacpak: Treat infectious disease among crew.
- Medpaks: Treat injured crew.
In addition, weapons (missiles and mines) and probes may be expended during normal operations. Radine and Nutripaks are the only two you absolutely must have to keep your ship operational. Others are clearly required to conduct specific operations or deal with certain emergencies.
Repair materials encompass general purpose repair minerals, general purpose spare parts such as Droids, Tools or repair kits, and specific subcomponent spare parts such as an AI Interface. These are often used to patch up light damage, and are commonly used for deep-space running repairs. The spare parts list on the Tradcom also whole replacement systems and vehicles, such as a new Bridgeviewer or ATV. Some of these ‘whole system’ replacement parts are primarily of interest as upgrades – ‘better’ battlecruiser reactor, engine, shield and armor (these are covered in more depth below).
Fillin’ her up
Battlecruiser storage is not unlimited. You may note from the Tradcom screen that you have 2 cargo bays and 2 weapons bays. Each item type may only be placed in one specific bay: If one bay is full, it does not follow that you will be able to start placing excess items in another bay. Fuel is stored separately – up to 25,000 Radine (reactor/hyperdrive), 10,000 Plutonium (shield) and 1,000 Iridium (cloak). Shuttles have additional cargo space, some of which is taken up by ATVs and Drones by default. Shuttle space cannot be accessed in-station unless you docked with the shuttle itself. Once in space, cargo and vehicles can be swapped around between vessels, to optimise cargo space depending on how you wish to use those vessels. More on shuttles later…
If you have continued this tutorial straight on from the previous one, you may be starting to run out of Radine. Ensure you have at least 100 units of Radine to avoid reactor… problems 😉 . Buy some more if needed. All that joy-riding comes at a price.
Launch and de-activate the autopilot.
Your battlecruiser has two sources of power – nuclear and solar reactors. These are shown as NRE and SRE on the left hand side of the bridge view. The nuclear reactor is the primary source of power, and cannot be turned off. To gain full power from the solar reactor, you must align your ship to the main star in the system (in this case, the sun) – pitch, yaw and rotate the battlecruiser until the SRE gauge on the bridge view is close to full – the solar panels are on the top of your ship. It is impractical to realign the ship in this way whilst travelling or in battle. The solar reactor is therefore primarily a backup system, useful for when you want to have absolutely *every* system operating or when the nuclear reactor is damaged.
Open the Logistix screen (ALT+E or Command Menu–Systems–Logistix), and then select Power. The left-hand side of the screen shows current power outputs and requirements. The right-hand side allows you to change the power allocated to specific systems. Aim to redistribute up to 100 units of power (the output of the nuclear reactor) between systems. This is conventionally done by reducing the power to the systems you use the least. For now turn the cloning module off (you will rarely need to clone anyone) and reducing solar reactor power slightly (it’s a backup system that you do not need at the moment). Increase the Engine to full power. Further fine-tuning will generally only be required if the nuclear reactor becomes damaged.
Use the Galcom menu to move to the Tactical screen, and select Crew. No crew are required for basic operation of the battlecruiser. However, if you want to be able to respond to emergencies onboard or use other craft, you will need your crew. Regular crewmen are described in detail by chapter 19 of the manual. Here is a short summary of their primary roles:
- Pilots: Fly interceptors.
- Systems Engineers: Heavy engineering and repairs.
- Flight Engineering: Ready interceptors.
- Medics: Anything health related.
- Marines: One-to-one ground/’deck’ combat.
Crew management and training
There are a range of benefits to having officers on-station which vary by officer. Typically crew under their supervision will act faster, and you will get better information reports alerting you to potential problems.
It is important to realise that you start the game with a ship-load of rookies. Note their low artificial intelligence (AI) ratings. Early in the game they will take longer to act, and have a greater chance of messing things up when they do act.
You can micromanage every last crewman if you wish. Chances are you will end up doing that quite a lot anyway. Some functions will be ordered by your officers if they are on-station. For example, when intruders beam aboard your ship, your combat officer may assign fresh marines to search the ship looking for them. Crewmen also have minds of their own, and if they get too fatigued, may go off-duty to rest.
Calling all engineers
Bring all the Systems Engineers on-station by selecting Tactical–Crew–Systems Engineers, viewing assignment, and changing the assignment of those engineers that are currently Off Duty to On-Station. Since the Tactical screen is frozen in time, they will not act until you return to a real time screen such as the bridge. Log Off back to the bridge, and then use the Perscan (ALT+P or Command Menu–Systems–Perscan) to watch these Systems Engineers. You should see them move through different locations on the ship, eventually arriving at Engineering. Note that it takes a minute or two from the time you changed their assignment to them actually arriving at their designated station.
Why have we got all those engineers on station? Because we’re about to inflict some damage upon ourselves >:) . Target the nearest station (probably Starpath) and manually fly towards it. Aim to hit it at full thrust. Try to inflict some light damage on the battlecruiser by bouncing off the station a few times. (Occasionally collisions will throw your ship off at almost infinite speed. If this happens, select a target in Tacscan, assign it the Flight Path Designator (press F) and activate autopilot. This will reduce your speed to zero before jumping back. If you drift off the ‘edge of the map’ (which will happen if you do not act quickly), you will enter Nullspace. Nullspace contains a flux field back to real space (the last area you were in) – target that instead and jump back through it like a jump point.)
Once some damage has been inflicted (it is almost certain that a few systems will be sustain light damaged after a few bumps), go to the Logistix screen, select Crafts, and then BC. Now examine each deck looking for damaged systems: The relevant percentage will be below 100%. Light damage is still displayed in green as fully operational. Medium damage is displayed in yellow, and heavy damage in red. Click on the system and you will see the option to Repair, along with a list of repair materials. The repair may not need all materials on the list, just those shown with Need above 0, highlighted in yellow. Find a damaged system that you have the materials to repair. Click on the bar labelled Repair. Now assign engineers to the job using the small arrows. When you return to a real-time screen, repairs will start. Some systems may be replaced rather than repaired. Sometimes replacement is quicker, although may require more expensive materials. In some cases the system will have been destroyed and replacement will be the only option. You can keep a rough eye on repair progress by showing the Damage Status in the bridge view’s CVD (bottom right) – this does not show all systems, just the most important ones. For precise detail, examine the Logistix screens again, but remember that the game is paused whilst in that screen, so no progress will be made on the repair while you are watching.
Such repairs require repair materials to be available on the ship, and Systems Engineers to undertake the work. An alternative is to dock at a station and let the station undertake the repairs using its own staff and supplies. At most stations you will need to pay for this service. At Galcom HQ such repairs are free. Depending on the circumstances, Galcom HQ may be a long journey or may even be temporarily destroyed; so one cannot always rely on it. In all cases, station repairs take time to complete. During this time your crew will continue to operate, and may become quite fatigued if repairs take several hours. There are solutions to this problem, including sending them off-duty or to the Medibay before docking. However, the time delay due to repairs is also commonly used to help crews gain experience from being on-station without you having to play those hours yourself. Appropriate techniques are discussed in the context of Advancing time, below.
The same technique used for repairs can be used for upgrades. Only reactor, engine, shield and armor can be upgraded with standard equipment. In ACM mode you will also find artifacts, including upgrade other systems such as weaponry and cloak. Upgrades are listed from worst to best (the starting ship already has the worst, so don’t bother to ‘upgrade’ from worst to worst 😉 ):
- Reactor: Lattis/NB, Megatron, Lattex/NB, Tanis Spec, Eyestar, Trellis, (artifact – Karanian Mark IV).
- Engine: Starcry/S, Crumicron, Diringer, Omicron/1, Numega.
- Shield: Spectrum/A, Linear Spec II, Linear Spec III, Linear Spec IV, (artifact – Tacyon Anagram).
- Armor: Titanium Level II, Titanium Level III, Titanium Level IV, Titanium Level V.
Standard upgrades variously improve your defenses and reduce fuel requirements. The primary advantages of upgrading are:
- Reactor: Less Radine use in jumps (Lattis/NB uses 30, Trellis uses 5). Less Radine used in regular operation (Lattis/NB uses about 1 per minute, Trellis uses about half as much).
- Engine: Less Radine use in jumps (Starcry/S uses 25, Numega uses 5).
- Shield: Increased total shield strength (Spectrum/A gives 1500, Linear Spec IV gives 3750). Less Plutonium used in regular operation (Spectrum/A uses about 0.5 per minute, Linear Spec IV uses about half that).
- Armor: Increase total armor strength (Titanium Level II gives 1000, Titanium Level IV gives 2500).