Where to start?
A couple of things I would like to state before getting into it. This is my first attempt at a start out guide for X3: Terran Conflict & Albion Prelude. This is my opinion of how to get a leg up and learn about the game when first starting. I do not claim that this is the only way, or even the best way. By all means; comment, suggest and add to this to help those new to these games…
Another thing for the newbies… Try & Try again. Over the last 8-10 years of playing these games I have started and restarted hundreds of times. I have tried different Race starts, Pirate starts, Aims of gaming such as Building, Missions and Fighting. All of this added to my education about the games. And I am still learning.
I almost exclusively use key shortcuts – I find that this is much fast than mousing through the menus, I will try to make my instructions clear and occasionally include a mousing hint.
For this guide I will recommend the Argon Merchant Start.
Firstly once loaded make some game setup changes, pressing ‘Esc’ will get you to the setup options, goto “Game Play” and change the “SETA” value from 6x to 10x. SETA is a form of TIMELAPSE – essential in this game of slow moving ships and vast distances.
Other options here include; Show Warp tunnel (If you warp a lot this will take up a lot of your time), Auto save while docked (always a good idea to have on – but can be a pain in the butt when first starting out, being a one ship empire means you will be docking ALOT, and this option can delay getting to it), Confirmation on Eject (think about it) & Run game in background (This option is debatable, leaving your game running could get you some good credits but at the same time could also be considered making the game too easy).
This start will place you in a well built up area with plenty of opportunities. It will allocate you a Trading vessel and a scout. As a merchant you have the right and ability to involve yourself in the different aspects of the game at will.
When the game starts, in front of you there is an argon flight school Buster (m4 fighter), now for those really fresh players it may well be a good idea to target it ( ‘ T ’ or ‘ . ’ For the sector map, scroll/mouse to it and select as target) and contact it ( ‘ C ’ for Comms ) then follow his instructions to learn your basic flight commands. But to be able to finish this training, you might have to dock at the Equipment Dock, get in your scout ship, and purchase a small laser. Then you will be able to kill the debris the in-game tutorial directs you to. Then when you are done, get back into your hauler.
For your scout ship to follow you as you trade, use the Sector map key ‘ . ’ to select your scout and order it to follow you, either from the quick commands listed there or once selected press: C (commands), 1 (nav) and then the “follow me” command. He will simply tag along until you give him a new order.
Once you’re gliding through the dark expanses of space and think you can get to it; it’s time to start making some money.
At this stage you are piloting a tin can with windows, the Mercury Trader you start in is a decent little tug, but you will need to start outfitting it with different upgrades and software accessories to make it more user friendly.
As with all trading, the idea is to buy low and sell high. At this starting point in your adventures you will have no idea what is a good price, this you will learn over time. But for this guide I will outline a few hints to help you along.
Ore, Silicon and Food.
Being out in the cold expanse you will notice asteroids floating around. In these games the asteroids range from massive mineral bearing rocks to smaller debris fields of collectable resources.
As plenty of the tech and weapon stations need Ore to manufacture then this resource is a good place to start.
In the starting sector of Herron’s Nebula there are several Ore Mines, each of these is owned by an NPC (non player character) and their operation is automated much the same as you will one day setup in your own factories.
Using the sector map ( ‘ . ’ ) select each mine and look at their ‘Info’ – Without specialized software upgrades you will not be able to see what prices the stations are offering on their Ore / Products, but there is a hint that can help you make your first purchases.
Each line of product or resource will have a grey or silver stock level bar. If that bar is full, then you can expect a good price to buy at, if that bar is low, the price may be 2-3 times what you want to pick up these products for.
See example pictures with a Solar Station, and the Un-known Prices from Info (left) & then the Known Prices once docked. (below)
Cheap Ore will sell for between 50-60 credits. You can on-sell this to a factory for 150-190 credits per item and make a fantastic profit.
Target the station with the fullest silver bar of Ore stock and dock at it (once targeted, press ‘ Shift-A or Shift-D), Pressing ‘ J ’ will active SETA (time-lapse) and your auto pilot with get you there in a matter of seconds/minutes. Buy as much Ore as you can, with the measly starting credits you won’t get much, but you’ll be able to triple your money quickly.
Un-dock and head south on your map (if you get turned around, just target anything south of your ship, then fly past it), with the limited range of your sensors you may not be able to select the South Jump-Gate yet but if you manage to see it, just head straight for it at best speed and press ‘J’ (SETA) to get close enough to target it – then dock with it (press ‘ Shift-A/D ‘).
The sector you come to is Argon Prime, kinda like the Capitol Sector of the Argon.
As mentioned before your sensors have a very limited range at this stage, once you are in the sector you still have no idea what is in there. I find at this early stage of exploration the best bet is to set your ship to fly around idle for a few minutes to map the locations of a few factories & stations to trade with. Press: ‘ Shift-C ‘ (ship control) – ‘ 1 ‘ (nav) – ‘ 2 ‘ (idle) , this will tell your ship to cruise around on autopilot, thus mapping objects as it goes. Instruct your scout ship, the Discovery to do the same, it will double up the exploration rate of the sector.
Once your sector map has a few options of stations listed, start looking through their INFO’s to see which of these factories has a low Ore Stock bar – look for one that is under a third of its level and dock there. As soon as you dock, Trade with the station (press D) and sell all the Ore you have to them. You will earn a fairly good profit with this, repeat the process a few times; from ore mines in Herron’s Nebula to the factories in Argon Prime, until you have a bit of cash to play with.
Even though you’re not rolling in the credits, this is a good time to do some basic upgrades that will make your trading process, and the opportunities you can take advantage of much greater.
In Argon Prime, there is a station called an Equipment Dock. Dock your trader to it ( Shift -A/D) and trade . At this station you can upgrade your ship, giving it more flexibility and potential. At this point don’t worry about weapons or missiles. For a cheap set of upgrades that will make a world of difference purchase the:
Trading system extension – this will allow you to actually see the prices in stations, in the sector you are in.
Duplex Scanner – Not the best scanner, but it’s a massive improvement on what you already have, you will be able to scan/see stations from a much greater range.
Boost extension – this is like an after burner, speeding your ship up to its top speed much quicker.
Navigation Command MK1 – gives you a few more navigation commands.
Trade Command MK2 – MK1 is built into your ship, this upgrade give you more automated trading commands.
Special Command Software – this will add another option to your Commands menu, allowing you to order special automated commands, like Collect ware – random crates floating around in space, like energy, weapons and missiles – always good to pick up after someone else’s battle and sell for a tidy profit.
Other software you can collect over time, these listed above will make your immediate trading options easier and faster to complete.
Also in the equipment dock are ship upgrades;
Engine Tuning – makes your ship faster
Rudder Optimization – makes your ship turn faster.
Cargo Bay Extension – Increase your cargo space.
Now that you have the basics, spend your time trading for some good profit and build up your capitol.
Other wares to trade for good profit as mentioned above are;
Silicon Wafers – buy at under 400 and sell for over 5-700.
Food: Meatsteaks – buy for around 40 and sell for above 70.
Energy – E-cells are an easy profit, but only provide a small profit when traded in small numbers – in other words stay away from them unless you want to help get a factory producing or can trade in greater numbers in a bigger trading ship.
I’ll finish this guide at this point with just a few more tips.
Keep trading, until such time as you own multiple factories and have trained multiple employed traders, one of the best paths to making money is picking up the cheap wares and knowing where to sell them.
Explore, if you see a jump gate – go through it! The more sectors you visit, the more opportunities you will come across.
Place Navigation Satellites & Advanced Satellites so you can read station prices from different sectors – these can be bought at some sector trading stations or from the SAT factories (like: Cloud Base Southwest)
Once you think you are trading competently buy a second trading vessel, and control it remotely. Pressing ‘ R ‘ will bring up your “Property Owned” menu, guide you’re other ships to make the trades remotely.
further info & example pictures on my guide at: www.X3AP.com
Cheers – Daniel. www.X3AP.COM