MORT stands for Manually Operated Remote Trader. It's just like a UT, except you control it instead of a script doing it for you. This guide'll tell you how to set up and run a MORT in an unmodified, 2.0.2-patched version of X³ with the Bonus Pack.
Why a MORT? Why not an ST/UT?
Well there's no reason you can't run both, but personally I much rather the MORT.
- The setup cost is a lot lower than with an ST/UT: No expensive software to buy.
- There's no running costs (except energy cells)
- They're more profitable because they (you!) make better decisions and can take more abstract reasoning into account.
- They live longer. A MORT will not go into enemy territory unless you either tell it to, or you don't provide it with enough energy to jump past the territory. However, a MORT will not automatically try and jump out if attacked - it's reliant on your intervention or you giving it better defense.
- You can give them escorts. Because you're controlling them personally, it's a trivial matter to keep their escorts topped up with energy.
- You can focus reputation increase. Unlike a Universe Trader, you can restrict a MORT to a single race's space, and unlike a Sector Trader, it'll cover more than one sector in that space.
- You can easily reassign MORTs to other tasks. Need an extra transport for that factory now? Just shunt a MORT over. You don't have to worry that it's carrying half a million credits' worth of software needlessly, because it's not.
- They don't need training. A MORT is as effective 5 minutes after you've set it up as it is 5 days after you've set it up.
- They give you something to do. I've seen a lot of people complain that they've not much to do while they're earning money in X. I blame this equally on SETA abuse and the ST/UT. A MORT engages you, requiring interaction. An ST/UT barely bothers you.
- They allow you to easily monitor the state of the economy across the universe. You'll spot trends early, fill gaps before anyone else and find station opportunities.
- They tend to keep your sector maps more up to date. Because you actually open the sector map while giving them commands, anything in the scanner range of any of your ships is mapped (eg, new or missing stations).
- You'll spot enemies sooner. Because you've opened the sector map, you'll see those tell-tale red-marked ships that mean there's a profit opportunity waiting for you.
- They don't muck your HQ's stock levels about by buying/selling without you wanting them to.
- They can make zero credit purchases at your stations - just transfer the goods over.
You mean other than wiring 1,000,000,000cr into my character's bank account and naming your first MORT "MORT esd 001" in my honour? Not really. MORTs aren't perfect, they do have their downsides too:
- They will not act on their own under any circumstances (except defending themselves if equipped). If they're attacked, they're reliant on your defending them by either jumping in and saving them, sending someone else to do so, or by giving them sufficient escorts.
- They will miss a deal if you're busy. If you don't answer that call because you're engaged in a XI, they'll just sit at the station. By the time you've got round to them, the deal they were there for may well be gone.
The absolute basics are the following:
- A ship. No, really. You can't MORT with a NavSat, not without some hefty scripting.
- Standard equipment (shields, guns, trade, nav, fight and special command software)
- Best Buys and Best Selling Price locators on the ship you are flying - not on the MORT unless you are playing Terran Conflict (which requires the equipment be on the MORT as well!). Otherwise you can't quickly scan sectors for the best buying/selling prices.
- Trading System Extension on the ship you are flying - not on the MORT. Otherwise you can't trade remotely or see prices on remote stations.
- A jumpdrive. A must for making long-range and/or fast trades.
- A transporter device. Good for transferring cargo between ships, either another MORT, one of it's escorts, your personal ship or another.
- Escorts. Protect your investment with as many ships as you think is worth it. There's no reason why you can't assign a destroyer or two to each MORT, though that's a bit overkill and will almost certainly slow things down a bit.
- Explorer software. Have it map those asteroids for you while it's in a dense sector.
- Ore Collector. Handy to have it hop over and help with Mobile Mining before returning to MORT duty.
- Triplex Scanner. Spot ships and sector changes more easily
Depends on what your priorities are. I tend to use Caimen Superfreighters to maximise profits. Trading energy in Queen's Space is extremely profitable if you can hold 10k of energy cells, and you can also empty most silicon mines.
Right, that's what I need, but how do I actually MORT?
It's virtually identical to trading in your personal ship. The first thing you want to do is go to the MORT's command console and set "Notify when order complete" to yes. This'll contact you each time it lands and provide an easy interface route to perform the trade.
Send it to a Solar Power Plant. Buy 500 EC, this'll give it jumpdrive fuel to go anywhere in the universe and back again, pretty much. You don't want to run out of energy on the buying leg of a run, it leaves the MORT at too much risk. If you have escorts, have them buy their energy afterwards (so you pay less for the bulk of it), or buy the escorts' energy with the MORT and transfer it over (cheaper, but more complicated).
Now you'll want to scout for it's first trade, unless you filled your cargo with energy at that SPP, in which case skip ahead to the selling. Open the ship's command console and find "Best buys". If you spot a good deal in the same sector as the MORT, order the MORT to that station.
If not, you need to scout further afield: Close the command console and open your property list. Find the MORT and highlight it, then press the comma key to open the Galaxy Map centered on the MORT. Start looking for deals (deployed satellites and scout ships help a lot here), then go back to the property screen, press C to communicate with the MORT and order it to "Jump and Dock At Station..." to the destination.
Now you need to wait until it gets there, so go do something else. After a while, you'll get an "Incoming message". Open the message log and there'll be the MORT saying it's arrived. Open the ship menu, then hit D to initiate the trade. Prices still good? Then buy.
Almost exactly the same as buying, but opposite!
Open the console and see if there's a good deal locally. If not, scout further afield and then order the ship to the best deal. Do something else while it travels, and when it messages you, open the ship menu, hit D to initiate the trade and if the price is still good - sell! If you're selling energy, always keep at least 200EC in reserve for JD fuel.
Now simply go back to Buying, rinse and repeat.
Is that it? Is there any more advanced MORTing?
That was merely the basics, padawan. Be patient and ye shall learn to become a MORT Master! Well... it's not really that complicated.
You can perform several buying trips before you have to sell, particularly if you're buying small amounts of something expensive. Squirrel away all the PPC's within 10 sectors of Paranid Prime, for example, and then head off to the TCHQ and sell the lot.
Monitor trends, maybe record them with a pen and paper, so you can maximise your profits. They're running low on Nostropol in PTNI? That'll effect the production of other goods. Nostropol isn't the most profitable deal to be found, so look around and see if you can fill the gaps (Crystals, Microchips, etc) that the Nostropol shortage is causing. Don't fill the Nostropol shortage until you've catered to everyone else!
Can MORTs help out my HQ?
Absolutely. As well as not mucking your stock levels about, you can easily stockpile cheap goods using your MORT, a jumpdrive and the HQ. Rastar Oil going dirt cheap in Family Pride? Grab it with your MORT, send the MORT to the HQ and stock up - you'll only use it to build ships with later. They're great at finding the harder-to-get resources for the PHQ too, such as Microchips and Crystals.
Have you missed anything? Is this all there is to it?
Well I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but there's always going to be something. If there is, I'm sure someone will mention it and I can edit it into this guide.
Isn't calling this a guide giving it a bit too much credit?
Probably, but I don't care!
*updated with TC info*