If EVE is all about risk vs reward, then Elite: Dangerous is all about time management. In the absence of any overall structure, players are left to define their own goals. There are no vast player empires to defend or conquer. There are no hidden pockets of space for an industrialist to build powerful armadas from. There are a few things for truly dedicated players to do that contribute towards shaping the game. However, most players just aren’t that interested in finding the edge of known space to get their name on it for exploring it first, or moving massive quantities of materials to get the naming rights on a capital ship. To casual players, there isn’t much to relieve the credit grind.
All is not lost. Powerplay promises to change everything, and in anticipation of the release it may be a good idea for players to amass as big a pile of funds and resources as they can. Assuming that Frontier Developments makes good on the plans for players having a much more direct effect on how the universe develops, those players who want to really get into the mix will want to have resources available to buy those fancy new faction space ships and arm them to the teeth.
But how is a casual player to prepare for Powerplay without taking a week or two off of work and living on their PC? Most casual players have found a fairly reliable short distance trade route and are playing space trucker while saving towards their next bigger space truck but that just wont cut it with only a little while remaining.
There is another way however. Instead of many short trips to make a million credits, a player can spend one hour a day and only have to make one trip to earn a couple million in profit.
Frontier Developments put out the message Thursday that the Powerplay beta will be slightly delayed so players who haven’t been doing so may still have time if they get started now. So let’s explore the Rare Commodity trade, and how you can make vast amounts from it.
A profitable 20-minute flight from the Lave Cluster in an Asp
NUTS AND BOLTS
The mechanics behind trading in rare commodities are pretty simple. Rare goods are supplied at only one station in the whole universe. The commodities are then restocked every 10 to 12 minutes in quantities that vary from station to station up to a maximum capacity. Rare commodities can be sold at any station with a goods exchange, with the resell value of each commodity going up the further away you take it from the source system.
There is a fair amount of detailed math that goes into finding how far to transport each item for maximum profit at the least possible distance. As a for a basic rule-of-thumb, goods need to be at least 160 LY from their point of origin to return twice their purchase cost.
Anyone can start trading rare commodities at any point in their career, but it is inadvisable to jump into it in your Sidewinder. There are several limiting factors, such as your ship’s jump distance and fuel capacity. The more times that a ship must stop for fuel, the longer each trip will take and, as a result the lower the efficiency and time value of the trip. Having a reasonable amount of cargo space is important too, and really motivated players can make a little extra profit by selling at a station they’ve got a good reputation at.
To that end, it is recommended that beginning players choose a home station and trade or run missions for that faction until they are able to fly a Cobra. While an upgraded Hauler can manage some profitable trading in rare commodities, it will require more jumps and more stops, even with a fully-upgraded frame shift drive. The Cobra has sufficient range and cargo capacity to let a pilot begin trading between a couple rare stations efficiently and make a steady profit. Plus, the extra reputation with local and global factions may be helpful when Powerplay goes live.
The Asp is considered the best ship for dedicated trading in rare commodities. With a full set of upgrades it can carry in excess of 100 tons while still keeping a shield and having a very respectable jump range with a full hold. Add on a class A fuel scoop (42 units/sec intake), and a fully laden Asp can make 200+ ly transits one one tank of fuel by doing a high speed lap or two around each star before jumping to the next system.
LAVE IS THE NEW JITA
There are three basic schools of thought on how to go about trading rare commodities. The first method is to utilize the Lave cluster. For those not familiar with Elite history Lave, was the starting point of all the previous Elite games. In Elite: Dangerous, there are 6 Stations all within 9LY of Lave that have rare commodities for sale. This hub of stations can supply approximately 80 tons of rares at their max supply levels. This abundance allows a player to quickly fill their cargo hold without waiting on stations to resupply. From there, players can haul the goods back to a home station where the player has high standing at maximum range for their ship.
The upside to this plan is that it allows a pilot with a reduced jump range to fill up on cargo within a relatively small pocket of space before making one long trip to sell at home. There are a few downsides to this method, however.
Given the long distances involved, it is desirable to have an empty hold to on the way to the Lave cluster, which speeds the journey up by requiring fewer jumps, but no profit. Secondly, Lave is about as close as you can come to Jita in Elite: Dangerous. The universe of is full of empty space and few players, but Lave is a very recognisable location and is much more likely to have player regular traffic – especially since many players in the area will be running rare goods.
For the more risk adverse, this can be negated by playing the game in solo mode, but where is the fun in that? Just keep in mind that the solo world and the open one have linked markets, so it is very hard to know how many invisible players are also competing for each resupply.
NO DEAD LEGS
The next method is to pick two rare suppliers at opposite ends of the universe and just trade directly between those two stations. The lower volume of cargo allows for reduced number of total jumps between stations, but means less profit at either end. One way to mitigate this for a player who has the time (or something else to do) would be to check back several times as the station restocks and buy the supplies up until their holds are full. This is especially appealing to the really casual player as it only needs a few moments of attention followed by a single flight after getting their cargo hold filled.
AROUND THE GREAT LOOP
The great loop is an approximate 2526 light years round trip
The last and arguably best method is flying the great loop. The E:D community has created several tools for pilots to find and optimize ideal trade routes. An optimized loop has been developed for all the known (or shared) rare commodities in the universe. By using this loop, pilots can make the most out of the second method as they are always moving from one rare station to the next without a dead leg. For more active players, this also reduces the need to sit in a station and wait for supplies before heading out again.
The optimized list also includes suggested stations to sell the commodities in big groups for highest profits. However, as with the Lave cluster, the great loop is much more likely to have hostile players lying in wait due to its notoriety.
HIGH SCORES AND PREPARATION
Elite is expected to change in a big way with the Powerplay expansion. In the lead up to its release players should be carefully considering how best to prepare and gather resources that will allow them to take full advantage of the new mechanics. Even if the expansion is a complete let-down, what better metric is there for a trade-focused player to be measured by than their profits?
Rare trading can help provide a means of making large sums of cash with minimal time investment. Additionally it can provide a challenge for players who want a bit more exciting interaction with real people. Regardless it is a great way to tour the universe and get a real idea of just how huge Elite Dangerous really is from end to end.
NOTE: This article was originally published by Froggy Storm over at themittani.com