SOLAR POWER PLANTS
Welcome to TD’s Guide to the world Solar Power Plants!
Hey folks! The 1.4 patch is out and changing the X-Universe. The guide has been completely updated, most noticeably in the Buying/Selling Transport section. The 1.4 patch may be the last X2 patch, but not the last update to this guide. I’ll be adding a new section to the guide soon, for signed scripts and how they can be used for your SPPs. Other than that, I’ll always be updating the guide when necessary, and of course from your feed back. Enjoy!
Noticeable Changes for SPPs in 1.4: (straight from 1.4 sticky)
- TPs are now more expensive
- TSs are given more cargo
- TSs are now faster
- Artificial Life Engine: AL plugins add atmosphere and life to the X Universe.
- Trading docks and Equipment docks can be bought at shipyards! You can run them like a factory. Goods are added by moving them to the station. Note that you can set only one price for each ware.
- Advanced players will be able to capture and pilot Khaak ships.
- Be aware of laser towers! They are much stronger and smarter now.
- Player-owned ships will not leave their home-base jump radius any longer. (Just a fix)
- AI has been buffed
ARTIFICIAL LIFE ENGINE:
Not only is the Universe even more alive, but safer too! There are new sector-to-sector patrolling fleets that will attack any baddies they see. That means less transport deaths, less cost, and less money spent on defense. Hey! And with the new patrols in Presidents End, this sector doesn’t look too bad anymore.
Energy not selling?
Try moving slow selling energy into your Trading Stations/Equipment Docks and sell from there! This also gives that SPP free space to produce E-Cells, instead of just sitting there waiting to sell. With Equipment docks, you can fill them with Energy to easily refuel your M6.
Capturing the Khaak
Try defending your SPP with a spare Khaak M3 or a couple M5s. They are extremely powerful ships, and should be able to defend it from most pirate swarms, no matter the class of ships used. These captures are kinda rare... so use at your own risk.
Bad sector? Need even more defense? Try a Laser Tower! These have gotten a good revamp in 1.4, and should be able to defend your station well. Even the Khaak should have a trickier time with them. One or two around the SPP should do it well.
Player owned ships won’t wander
Hey! No more wandering transport that goes off too far and ends up in president’s end, or that Xenon sector.
Watch the AI
X2’s AI has been upgraded, making everything a bit more deadly. This means it might be time to invest in some defense….
The major changes to the TP and TS will be in the “Crystal Buying ships”, and “Energy Selling ships” sections, as they are quite lengthy and fit the section best. This is the biggest update of the guide, and well worth it. Also the tutorial has been… paragraphed… a Table of contents has also been added.
Final 1.4 note- May the profitsss be with you!
TABLE -O- CONTENTS
Part I: Introduction/Setup
1. Beginning Questions
2. How a SPP works - The math and profit
3. Crystal Fabs and Trading Stations
4. How and Where to set up a SPP
5. Great SPP Locations
6. SPP Sector Ranking System
Part II: Getting your SPP working at it's best
7. Buying/Selling Prices - Profit Chart
8. Max jumps/Initial investment
9. Sun light
10. Crystal Buying ships
11. Energy Selling ships
12. Equipping your Transports
13. SPP protection/Eliminating the Competition
Part III: Advanced
14. Mini Tutorial: Setting up your first SPP
15. Advanced Factory Management (Pure Profit Loops)
To start off, a couple of questions must be asked.
Q: What’s up with X2’s Economy? I can only make good money with Solar Power Plants. Am I doing something wrong?
A: Nope not at all. I think pacific_wing said it best.
pacific_wing wrote:Before reading this, turn to page 33 of your manual to the economy pyramid. You will notice a visual description of a working economy. Low-level raw production resources are at the bottom, providing the economy with the materials needed for everything produced in the economy. Mid-Level products (refined resources) exist as a result of the effort to convert raw resources into usable resources. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, you have high-level resources, which consist of manufactured goods and finished products. This is a balanced economy on paper, where the top tier is the most profitable but also creates a demand for lower-level resources.
Unfortunately, the X2 economy does not operate in the way this pyramid indicates, as many of us have discovered. Having done the math (on another thread, listed below), we have discovered that in ideal circumstances the Solar Power Plant (a low-level "raw" resource) is the most profitable plant in the game. It is capable of producing a larger total value of resources faster than any other factory. I submit that this is an indication of a much larger problem.
Unfortunately, circumstances are not always ideal. If the demand for energy is too great (as it should be, since nearly everything requires it), then more SPP's are going to get produced by opportunists. As this happens, the demand for energy decreases and eventually the market will saturate. While this is natural behavior for any economy (and accurately reflected in the game), it presents an interesting problem. The aforementioned opportunists are forced to develop medium and high-level factories to create demand.
This is where the game is broken.
While the medium and high-level factories do successfully create demand for energy, they seem to serve no other purpose. As indicated by having calculated the production rate of most plants, building high-end factories is simply not profitable. The cost of maintenance and construction outweighs the production value. If you don't believe me, see the URL below for very detailed formulas on the subject.
So now we have medium and high-level factories that exist for the sole purpose of providing demand for low-level factories. They become a "foundation industry", because they exist solely to support another industry. So the pyramid on page 33 is actually flipped upside-down, with the high-level industries supporting the low-level (raw resource) industries.
Q: Wow, that’s messed up.
A: You bet it is.
Q: So SPPs are the most profitable, and pay off their initial costs in the least amount of time?
A: Yes. There isn’t another factory out there that can beat a SPP. Even when a SPP is only operating at above average, and the other factory is operating at max.
Q: So what kind of choice does that leave players?
A: Not much. By having SPPs make the most money and having all other factories make the same lousy profit, the player is basically forced to take the same path and make the same choices as every one else playing the game. The freedom of enterprise is completely taken away, even though this game is all about freedom and economics. You’re basically always stuck building a SPP empire. Well unless you go into manual minning or capturing for a living, and never build a factory.
Q: Alright then, how about we just make SPPs less profitable? That should fix it!
A: No, as that’s only half of the problem. SPPs profits should be much lower, but you can’t ignore that all other factories make barely anything. A wheat farm costs 779,000 credits, which is ridiculous, because it can only make a maximum profit of 19,500 credits an hour.
Q: What is this “Max Profit” you speak of?
A: Max profit is the most money a factory can possibly make an hour. This requires that the factory buys at the extreme low and sells at the extreme high. It’s up to players to get their factories producing as close to this figure as possible. Because X2’s economy is dynamic, it is almost impossible to get a station to operate at max profit. Usually a normal well placed factory will operate between it’s average and max profit. Although not always practical, the max profit still gives us a good idea on where a factories limits are, and how they compare with other factories.
Q: So what is the point of this guide?
A: Well, since most people will be dealing with SPPs the entire game, this guide is to help people get the most out of their SPPs!
Lets get started!
First, the math. This is basically how a SPP will work.
SOLAR POWER PLANT
(Placed at %150 sun)
CycleTime: 1:46 minutes (106 seconds)
ResourcesUsedPerCycle: 2 Crystals
Cost a Minimum= 2864
Cost a Average= 3368
Cost a Maximum= 3872
Low=(Sell@9, Buy@1936)= -47,192
Average=(Sell@16, Buy@1684)= 35,632cr an hour
High=(Sell@23, Buy@1432)= 118,456cr an hour
Maximum Profit: 118,456cr an hour
Real World Values
As you already know, X2’s economy is dynamic. You will never always operate at average or at maximum. However, Solar Power Plants are unique in one way. Their only product, Crystals, can always be bought for 1684cr at trading stations. (For more on why, see the next section, “Trading Stations and Crystal Fabs”) A SPP should never have to have buy crystals for any higher then 1684cr. So the only value that the player can really change is the selling price of Energy cells. With SPPs always buying at 1684, here is what the “average” real world profits will be for a SPPs, selling energy at different prices.
* credits per hour
Ok, the math is all done. Now lets get those SPPs operating at their best!
CRYSTAL FABS AND TRADING STATIONS
Crystal Fabs produce the much needed Crystals for your SPPs. Crystals are usually hard to find in large amounts, and Crystal Fabs are always near empty due to the large demand for them. Most of the time you will only find them in packs of 32 or less. However, this does not effect your buying price! From now on consider trading stations your best friend. A trading station will look for any available crystals on the market -no matter how high the price- and then they will sell them again in their station for only the average price of 1684cr! So, you should always buy from trading stations and never buy from crystal fabs unless they offer the crystals for less.
The Trading Station Glitch And How To Always Buy From Trading Stations
In order to make sure that your SPP always buys from trading stations at the average price of 1684, always set your SPPs buying price to 1684. Never any more then that! There is currently a glitch in the game that makes your transporters not look at trading stations for crystals if the SPP’s crystal buying price is any greater then 1684. So, just always remember to set your buying price at 1684. Easy enough!
HOW AND WHERE TO SET UP A SPP
Whenever you can, always try to buy a Split Solar Power Plant. Reason being is they are simply the cheapest. All races sell Solar Power Plants, but there are no differences between them except how they look and how much they cost.
Before you have better relations with Split, the Split SPP is not necessarilly going to be the cheapest to buy - simply because you're going to have to pay to transport it to where you want it, and the rates you pay for TL use seem to depend on your current reputation with each of the races. (Split TLs currently charge me 12,000 per gate!) - so you can save a lot of $$$ by planning in advance, rather than just going for the cheapest SPP, and hiring the local TL. -Section By CeeBod
When setting up a SPP, keep several things in mind.
1. Look for sectors that have a shortage of energy. Usually a sector with only 1 SPP in it.
2. Look for a sector that has several energy-dependent factories. This is because if a factory only requires energy, it does not have to worry about other resources and will continue consuming energy, instead of waiting until everything is in stock in order to resume producing.
3. Look for a sector that has several trading stations (in sector and nearby), that sell crystals. Also make sure there are crystal plants near by so the trading stations can buy from them.
4. Make sure there aren’t too many competing SPPs in surrounding sectors
5. If you have multiple SPPs, try to place them 1-3 sectors away from each other, unless the region has plenty of crystals to go around.
6. The more sun the better!!!
7. Good AI sector defense
Here are some already great locations for SPPs
1. Kingdom End / Rolk’s Drift (One of the Best Locations there is)
2. Red Light
3. Lucky Planets
4. Heron’s Nebula
5. Reservoir of Tranquillity / Barren Shores
7. Emperor’s Mines
8. Patriarch’s Keep / Cho’s Defeat
9. Omicron Lyrae
10. Ocean of Fantasy
12. Pontifex's Realm
13. PTNI Headquarters
14. Company Pride
15. Akeela's Beacon (Best sunlight in the game)
Post your good SPP locations that aren’t on the list in this topic, and I will check them out and add them here!
Sector Ranking System
Idea for this section goes to BFWibble
Kingdoms End -By BFWibble
Security - 10/10
Capital Ships are floating around the sector, and all nearby sectors seem very secure, there are no major danger sectors around.
Buyers – 10/10
No real competition for energy as the sector is light on Solar Power Plants, there are tons of structures nearby that eat up energy cells and there are many mines in the sector to the East and many Bio Gas Factories, they all use energy nice and quick.
Crystals – 10/10
There are trading stations in every nearby sector, many crystal factories and many crystal support factories like Silicon Mines and BoFu factories.
Overall – 10/10
This is an awesome sector, I wish this was my first choice for a SPP, I cannot think of a single negative factor.
Herron’s Nebula -By BFWibble
Security - 8/10
At present there is a Colossus in this sector with me, when a cluster attacked the Colossus launched an array of Novas, which annihilated the Khaak, this is the only sector defence and it’s slow. If the Khaak spawns in the opposite end of the sector you can still get into trouble.
Buyers – 9/10
A nice range of buyers around, Argon Prime is just below and the nearby sectors seem to have a healthy need for energy.
Crystals – 8/10
Crystal industry is nearby and trading stations are in the nearby sectors, you need to manage the jump setting correctly or you can end up stealing crystals from your Red Light or Kingdoms End Solar Power Plants.
Overall – 8.3/10
No problems with this sector so far.
Red Light -By BFWibble
Security – 6/10
Khaak are spawning occasionally, Red Light is fairly secure but I rate it low on security because Presidents End is nearby and Ore Belt is a danger.
Buyers – 8/10
Never had any problems selling crystals but many of the factories rely on other materials, they are normally short on these materials so they don’t use up energy until they get stocked up.
Crystals – 7/10
Crystals are not too bad but you cant set your maximum jump setting too high because your transports will enter Presidents End, I have been relying on the trading stations in the sectors next door.
Overall – 7/10
Your SPP will make lots of money here but you always need to keep an eye on the sector and make sure your ships don’t stray into Presidents End.
Rolks Drift -By BoomAM
Security – 9/10
Theres a Boran Ray on patrol around here. Takes care of pirate and khaak clusters when they very rarely appear. Bit slow to intercept them though.
Buyers – 9/10
Not too bad. Slow at first. But with jumps at 3, theres loads and loads of buyers at your disposal. Theres also alot of in sector factorys/stations that`ll be happy to buy off you.
Crystals – 7/10
Plenty of trading station and crystal fabs in neighboring sectors, but until you get a decent buying ship, then its pretty slow business. But when you do, its smooth sailing from then onwards.
Overall – 8/10
A great sector, My SPP there is (was...) making a bucket load. I could wait 3-4 hours, and it`d have made 600-700k!. Great first SPP location.
Siezewell -By CGrand
Security – 10/10
It's the captical so it well defened never had a ship taken out their
Buyers – 8/10
Not so great, but not horrible, can be more profitable if you combine it with powering other factroies in the area, specifically mines
Crystals – 8/10
Shed loads of them
Overall – 8/10
Not a great starting location, but the only location i use for teladi, it's nice and close to split space though allowing you to use their cheap stations and nice fast ships
Lucky Planets -littlej999
Security - 8/10
I am yet to be attacked. Lucky Planets has a Boron Shark patrolling and Rolk's Legacy is protected by two Hydras however khaak clusters sometimes spawn in some of the other neighbouring sectors.
Buyers – 10/10
What can i say? Lucky Planets has no ai SPP and there's 9 factories demanding energy. My transports hardly ever leave the sector.
Crystals – 6/10
A poor supply... often the nearest source is 5/6 jumps away. I regularly have to re-stock it myself.
Overall - 8/10
You'll sell your energy as fast as you produce it... but you might have to keep an eye on the crystal supply.
Trinity Sanctum -By CGrand
Security – 6/10
Not so good, the system itself is protected, but the neighbours are all those pirates in bad debt!
Buyers – 7/10
Ok ish, but its getting to them thats the problem
Crystals – 8/10
Shed loads of them
Overall – 8/10
Not a great location, i placed it their orginally to improve my relations with the paranid, but i ran the maths and it was costing more in replacment ships that it earn't, so i left it to run entierly on AI (no buyer or seller) and its not the quickest plant on the planet but it makes cash
Paranid Prime -By BoomAM
Pretty good. A Paranid M1 (or was it M2?) is around here, and with it being the capital system of the Paranid, almost no pirates or khaak will trouble you or your propety. Same goes for surrounding system.
Very good. Paranid Prime and its surrounding systems have alot of factories that want ECs, and not many SPPs to get them from.
Almost allways at 300+ Crystals. Only a few fabs around, but theres alot of Silicon mines around to supply them.
Excellent location. Most SPPs take a few game hours to get running at max capacity, but this one was almost instant. Its taken over my 2nd top earner, which is Rolks Drift easyily. Prices are set at 21Cr bty.
Family Whi -By razorhead
Security – 10/10
Theres a split dragon and a python on patrol around there.
Buyers – 10/10
Its allways empty selling at 22cr
Overall – 8/10
A really good sector, i placed my first spp there
Hey! If you would like to rank some of the sectors above (or even new ones you think are good) post your review in this topic, and I'll add it above. Be sure to use BFWibble's format. Thanks!
JungleJim's SPP Rating Chart
Code: Select all
Rank Sector Avg Eco Sell Xtal Safe Sun 1 Reservoir of Tranquility 9.2 9.7 9.4 10.0 7.4 9.2 2 Shore of Inifinity 7.4 6.9 6.3 7.6 7.6 8.5 3 Kingdom's End 7.4 6.5 8.2 4.9 8.7 8.5 4 Trinity Sanctum 7.4 6.6 8.4 4.9 8.4 8.5 5 Paranid Prime 7.3 6.4 6.6 6.2 9.0 8.5 6 Ocean of Fantasy 7.0 5.8 5.4 6.2 8.9 8.5 7 Rolk's Drift 6.9 5.7 6.4 4.9 9.3 8.5 8 Emperor's Ridge 6.8 6.1 7.3 4.9 7.4 8.5 9 Family Whi 6.8 5.5 4.5 6.4 8.9 8.5 10 Cho's Defeat 6.3 5.4 5.9 4.9 6.9 8.5 11 Herron's Nebula 6.2 5.2 5.6 4.9 6.9 8.5 12 Rolk's Legacy 6.1 4.7 3.4 6.0 8.1 8.5 13 Profit Share 6.0 4.5 5.5 3.6 8.1 8.5 14 Rhy's Desire 5.9 4.5 5.5 3.6 7.6 8.5 15 Red Light 5.8 4.3 5.0 3.6 7.9 8.5 16 Omicron Lyrae 5.8 4.0 4.3 3.8 8.5 8.5 17 Rolk's Fate 5.7 4.8 8.5 1.1 6.7 7.6 18 Thuruk's Beard 5.7 4.7 4.6 4.9 6.6 7.6 19 Cardinal's Domain 5.7 4.5 4.2 4.9 6.3 8.5 20 PTNI Headquarters 5.6 3.7 3.9 3.6 9.1 7.6 21 Blue Profit 5.6 3.7 3.8 3.6 8.4 8.5 22 Home of Opportunity 5.5 4.1 5.9 2.2 6.9 8.5 23 Wastelands 5.5 3.5 3.4 3.6 8.4 8.5 24 Family Njy 5.4 4.2 4.8 3.6 6.1 8.5 25 Ianamus Zura 5.4 3.8 2.8 4.9 6.9 8.5 26 Rhonkar's Fire 5.4 4.2 4.9 3.6 6.6 7.6 27 Akeela's Beacon 4.9 2.3 1.3 3.3 7.8 10.0 28 Cloudbase Southeast 4.0 2.3 2.2 2.4 5.3 7.6 29 Brennan's Triumph 3.1 1.0 1.9 0.0 4.8 7.6 What the numbers mean: Avg <5 Less than desirable. Will have a significant infrastructure problem so only use these when you?re able to fill all gaps in the sector infrastructure (protection, crystals, etc.). 5-6 Secondary selections. May have a significant infrastructure problem so you should fill up all higher ranking locations before placing SPPs in these locations. >6 Prime locations. Any of these locations are great for stand-alone SPPs. Eco <3 Poor location. Only use these as a last resort. 3-4 Fair location. Count on fixing some problems in these areas. 4-5 Good location. Expect only occasional problems in these locations. 5+ Excellent location. Problems should be rare. Sell (with seller ship) <3 16 sell price 3-4 18 sell price 4-5 20 sell price >5 22 sell price Xtal <3.5 Constant crystal shortages 3.6-4.5 Frequent crystal shortages 4.5-6 Occasional crystal shortages >6 Rare crystal shortages Safe <6 Must supply own sector defense against Pirates, Xenon, and/or Khaak 6-9 May need sector defenders in this or adjacent sectors >9 No sector defense needed Sun 7.6 100% sun supplies ecells for 9.4 factories 8.5 150% sun supplies ecells for 10.4 factories 9.2 200% sun supplies ecells for 11.3 factories 10.0 450% sun supplies ecells for 12.3 factories
I personally don't mind but if you don't want to do this, just bump up the jumps setting a bit or live with the flashing yellow.
Also I really don't recommend building in the last 3 of these locations unless you're prepared to provide significant infrastructure in the form of crystal fabs & OOSD to support them. This basically means that they are not Stand-Alone. However, these locations are good from the point of view that they won't interfere with other SPPs suggested by this guide.
GETTING YOUR SOLAR POWER PLANT OPERATING AT ITS BEST
Everyone wants their factories to do their best. Here is how to get the most out of your SPPs.
Remember; never set your crystal-buying price over 1684 so that your transporters will look at trading stations when buying crystals. Also if a crystal fab is selling them for less then 1684, your transporter will buy from them as well. Overall, not much to say but keep it a 1684, the average buying price.
For selling energy I don’t recommend selling them for anything less then 18 a pop. Because energy cells have such a large market, they are more likely to go for top dollar. When thinking of what to set your selling price, keep this chart in mind:
(Always buying crystals at average price)
Selling Energy@16= 35,632*
Selling Energy@17= 45,016*
Selling Energy@18= 54,400*
Selling Energy@19= 63,784*
Selling Energy@20= 73,168*
Selling Energy@21= 82,552*
Selling Energy@22= 91,936*
Selling Energy@23= 101,320*
*Credits an hour
A good amount of money to place in your factory to get them started is 150,000. If your low on cash you can invest 100,000 in them and they will do fine, but anything lower then that and your factory may take a while to start up.
2-3 is good. Never more then 5. Also make sure that the sector range doesn’t go through Presidents end or any of the Xenon sectors.
A sector's sunlight only changes the production time of your SPP.
100% Sunlight = CycleTime: 1:58 minutes
150% Sunlight = CycleTime: 1:46 minutes
200% Sunlight = CycleTime: 1:38 minutes
450% Sunlight = CycleTime: 1:30 minutes
**UPDATED FOR 1.4**
With the release of the 1.4 patch, things have definitely changed in the X-Universe! Particularly in the area of TPs and TSs! Although the TP size change from a XL to a L doesn't effect Solar Power Plants (as the largest material are crystals, size M), the prices for ships, both TP and TSs have been changed around, along with increased TS speed and starting cargo hold. TPs are struggling to keep up the business in patch 1.4. Read on to find out how!
Crystal Buying Transport
The number one thing you need on a buying ship is speed. The most important thing to a SPP is its crystals. Without a steady supply, there is no money to be made. Speed is needed for two things. One, it allows your ship to scoop up all available crystals on the market at Trading Stations before other ships beat you to it. The second deals with crystal availability. Occasionally, there may be Crystal droughts in the nearby sectors, due to Khaak attacks, weakened economy and whatnot. A fast ship is needed to go get Crystals from far away trading stations, while still making it back in time before local crystals go up for sale, or the station runs out. With this in mind, we begin our look at selling ships.
No longer is the Split Iguana the best choice out there. With the huge change in TP price, many other ships are now in range to compete! The new best ship out there is actually an M4, the Split Scorpion. It has a low price of 187,806 for a basic small. Compare that to an Iguana, of 278,950 for just a small.
The Scorpion is extremely fast, beating even the Iguana out in speed, with 329m/s. Another advantage for this craft is that it can be purchased at all Split Shipyard/Docks. Unlike the TP, which can only be found in some select split sectors. In other words, replacing the M4 craft isn't a hassle. It does have two downsides. The first is that it has extremely weak shields of only 1x5mw. The second is that it can only carry up to 36 Crystals. (Without shields). But, it more than makes up for it in Price and speed. Another note is that Crystals are usually not found in large groups, more in spots of 8, 16, 24, 32, 40. Very few times will you find crystals in-groups larger than 30. This is because Trading stations buy crystals as soon as they're available, only allowing the select Crystal Fab a few cycles of production before the stock of Crystals are bought.
The 1x5mws aren't a problem for me, as the speed completely makes up for it. (Plus, my theory is, if it's gonna blow up, let it blow up cheap. The Khaak are so deadly now they can eat through 25mw shields in no time, especially if the ship is slower)
Here is how I would go about buying my Scorpion.
- Buy the M class size ship (this way you get the 5mw)
- Sell it's weapons
- Max Engine Tunings
- Max Cargo Bay
- Buy Software (Both Trade)
And it's good to go! The final cost will be around 300k. Not bad, considering the Split Iguana would cost much more.
Surprisingly, another good buying ship would be the Pirate Bayamon! Since you can't buy these directly, you'll have to capture them. They are medium fast (206m/s) but have a larger cargo bay and shield bay for those who prefer them. They also can be much much cheaper than anything out there, depending on hull damage, and what they have left after their capture. So other times, it might cost you more. Not to mention they are a bit hard to replace, considering you can't just buy them. Unless you have stocks of Bayamon, your SPP is going to have some major downtime.
M4 - Split Scorpion
Speed: 329.86 m/s
Cargo: 108 units (36 Crystals)
-No Shields: 250k
-W/ Shields: 300k
M4 - Pirate Bayamon
Speed: 206.12 m/s
Cargo: 158 units (52 Crystals)
-Depends- this ship must be captured and repaired
TP - Split Iguana
Speed: 308.01 m/s
Cargo: 450 units (150 Crystals)
-No Shields: 325k
-W/ M Shields: 425k
-W/ L Shields: 700k
TD's Choice: I'll go with the Scorpion. It has decent shields, excellent speed, although it's cargo bay is a bit iffy. But in a close second, I'd probably choose the Iguana again- only for that extra cargo room. With the Iguana, It would go unshielded, that way it's not too expensive. Shields don't mean much to the Khaak. However... with the M4 I might try the shields, just because it's so cheap. If the shields sacrifice too much space for crystals, I might let it go unshielded. 250k is as cheap as it gets. The Bayamon I might use every now and then as a backup.
Energy Selling Transport
Once again the 1.4 patch has mixed things up a bit. The manta, which for many was their primary selling ship(s), have been jacked up in price. Just an empty small now costs 400k! The dolphin, with boosted speed and cargo is starting to look much better... in fact; there's no question that the Boron TS is the best buy.
TS - Boron Dolphin
Cargo: 2000/3000 units
-W/ S Shields: 200k (just with ETs and Software added)
-W/ M Shields: 300-350k
-W/ L Shields: 700k
TP - Boron Manta
Cargo: 1000 units
-W/ S Shields: 400k (just with ETs and Software added)
-W/ M Shields: 500k
-W/ L Shields: 700k-800k
The only advantage the Manta has now is the speed. Even then, it's only 1.8 times faster. (and the engine tunnings for the manta cost a little more) And for that extra 96m/s boost in speed, you get a huge price tag, less shields, and less cargo. The Dolphin now has an excellent starting cargo (2000), thanks to the patch, meaning you don't even have to buy any Cargo Bay extensions for it to work great. And if 2000 still isn't enough, pop a few extensions in there, and it'll STILL be cheaper than the manta.
1000 extra units = 500k
750 extra units = 300k
500 extra units = 130k
250 extra units = 34k
(*All full cargobay extensions for all the TS class ships cost approx. 500k. Each ship's cargobay extension is worth the same average price.)
The boron dolphin is now a mean energy-selling machine. With an affordable 2.5 times the cargo space of the manta, an extra 25mw shield, a cheaper price, and with only the sacrifice of 96m/s, I think we have a new winner!
!!WARNING!! Having multiple ships sell Energy
Not the best idea. There is a big problem when using multiple ships to sell products. Both ships will go to the station to sell. Whichever one gets there first will drop off its energy, lowering the demand and cost for energy at that station. The second transport won’t realize this, and when it arrives at the station, it will sell its energy for the much lower price. Try to only have one ship doing the selling. 2-3 isn’t bad, but over that, you’re losing good money. The boron dolphins huge cargo bay takes care of this.
Before the 1.4
The old technique was having several mantas selling. This was also close to having a fixed up Boron dolphin. Each had its disadvantages. Now, with the insane price of the Manta, buying multiple mantas will end up costing you a fortune. Just 2 of them will cost you over 800k right there, minimum. Better grab the dolphin for only 300k, which will hold it's own against the 2 mantas easily- and more if it's fitted with low cost extensions. This means Dolphins are cheaper to replace as well! Before 1.4, the manta clearly had that advantage.
TD's choice: Definitely the Dolphin. When selling ECs, the key is to sell as many at once for the highest price. The dolphin can do this easily, while staying safer and more affordable to replace than the manta. Although the 96m/s loss in Manta speed isn't good, the benefits outweigh this lone disadvantage clearly. Thanks 1.4 patch! Boosting the Dolphin's speed and cargo did it some good!
Now if you’re just starting off, and you’re buying you’re first SPP:
Use the Mercury you get in the second mission to sell energy, and buy an Argon Express to buy the Crystals. This is a cheap and cost effective in the beginning. (But make sure you repair that mercury’s hull and max it’s speed! And a few cargo bay extensions wouldn’t hurt)
If you just don’t have enough money:
Then forget buying a selling transport! Actually you really don’t need one. Stations will send transports to your factory to buy from you. And if you’ve set a good price and the SPP is in a good place they will come in droves. A good example is a SPP in Kingdom End. It does plenty well without one! Also check out the mercury for a bit cheaper selling transport.
Several fans have asked about the Mercury, Express and Vulture as buying/selling ships. So here they are, along with an analysis.
TP - Argon Express
Speed: 216 m/s
Cargo: 750 units
- S = 250k
- M = 380k
- L = 800k
Overall, a good crystal buying ship. It has a decent speed of that compared to the Bayamon. It's cargo bay is a bit overkill for crystals, as you will very extremely rarely see crystals above groups of 40 (120 units). The Express is able to hold 250 crystals. Three shield slots are always a plus. The small class is as cheap as the M4 Scorpion. After the S class things start getting a little expensive. (In the end, an M size is going to cost you around 400k) If you’re dealing tons in argon space, and prefer shields with a larger cargo for multitasking your ships, the Express might be the right one for you. The cost for the small Express is the same as the small M4, so it's all up to your personal preference- and experience on which ship should get the crystals.
TS - Argon Mercury
Speed: 150 m/s
Cargo: 900/1800 units
- S = 150k
- M = 250k
- L = 800k
Another decent selling ship. Compared to the Dolphin you get a nice little boost in speed (120-150 m/s) and a 50k cheaper price in all sizes. However- it's major downside is its cargo room. With only 900 as it's starting cargo- compared to the Dolphin's 2000 - some cargo bay extensions are needed. Even for a small, with only half of the Dolphin's cargo bay added, it will still cost you the same as a small dolphin in the end, 200k. So, it's small mercury versus small dolphin, prices both the same. If you want a boost in speed, and half the cargo, go for the Mercury. If you'd prefer double the cargo but a small loss in speed, go for the dolphin. Both ships work nicely, so it's all up to you.
TS - Teladi Vulture
Speed: 123 m/s
Cargo: 1600/2500 units
- S = 150k
- M = 230k
- L = 500k
The Vulture's stats kinda look like a nerfed Dolphin. For 1 less shield, 400 units less starting cargo (extra 100k to upgrade it to 2000 - making the S really 250k to compare it with the Dolphin), 50k less price and a 3m/s boost in speed, one must ask if they are really worth it. Overall... not really. You might as well get the Dolphin, which for the very small price of being 3m/s slower, the dolphin gets an extra shield bay, 400 extra cargo room to start, 500 extra units to end, and nearly identical pricing. Vultures might be good if you're strapped for cash and need a quick replacement- without upgrading to 2000 units. Still, it's no Dolphin.
TS - Split Caiman
Speed: 190 m/s
Cargo: 600/1500 units
- S = 150k
- M = 260k
- L = 500k
The split Caiman is the fastest of the TSs. However it's drawbacks are the extremely small starting cargo. It's price is average, it's sheilds are average. It's cargo space extremely low. Unless your willing to put in some cargo bay extensions to fix it up a little bit, the Caiman wouldn't be your best bet for selling. Buying crystals it could do well, as it is fast, and has decent sheilds for those who perfer them. This ship can hold 200 crystals at max, making ocasionally large crystal purchases easy. So if your looking for a ship that can carry a ton of crystals, make out with a good speed, and have decent sheilding, the Caiman just might be right for you. It is a little on the expesive side however.
TS - Paranid Demeter
Speed: 175 m/s
Cargo: 999/1665 units
- S = 110k
- M = 250k
- L = 670k
Might as well add this ship in too. If your looking for a ship to replace your manta's, this might be the closest thing yet. Although it's speed is a bit slower than the manta, it has nearly the same cargo space and sheilds. It is also one of the cheapest (s) TS's! Add a few cargo bay extensions to fit your gear, and away you go, with that 1000 units again. Like I said, the only disadvantage is it's speed, athough it is the second fastest TS. This ship would work ok for either buying or selling at your SPP. Especially if you need something cheap, replaceable, and reliable.
The end! Will add more to this section from feed back.
What To Equip Your Transporters With:
If a transporter gets destroyed, it’s gonna cost you. The best way to prevent the cost is to make the transport’s cost as low as possible. Buying expensive shields or big guns will not save your ship from a Khaak M3, and will more then likely it will just end up costing you more. Here is what I usually equip each of my Transports with:
1-3 1Mw Shields
Full Engine Tunings
Trade cmd Software Mk I
Trade cmd Software Mk II
Full Cargo Bay extensions (depending on the situation, the ship and the cost)
Yep that’s it. That’s all a transport really needs to do its job.
NEVER and I repeat NEVER equip your transports with Weapons or the Fight cmd software! If you do, your ships will not run from the enemy, but turn and fight them! 95% percent of the time, your transporters will lose the fight and just cost you more money. If you’re really worried about your transporter's safety, and know the sector’s it’s going to be operating in aren’t always safe, try this layout.
Full Engine Tunings
Trade cmd Software Mk I
Trade cmd Software Mk II
Some Cargo Bay extensions (depending on the situation, the ship and the cost)
1-3 5MW shields
10 Fighter Drones
Fighter drones are a shipsaver. As soon as your ship is attacked, they will launch and distract the enemy, so that your ship can quickly get the heck out of there. Fighter drones are hard to come by and annoying to replace, but try to equip your ships with them when you can.
Are Solar Power Plant Factories worth protecting? Not really. You don’t need a 2 million-dollar nova to protect a 300k factory. Anything smaller then a nova is a waste, because whatever is risking the Solar Power Plant’s well being is going to be able to easily deal with a nova or Persus. An M6 is so large and costly that it’s a joke to have it protect a single SPP, unless you’re using the SPP as a base to store your captured ships and expensive wares. : )
1.4 Update on Protection
Well, with the Sector patrols your ships are now a bit safer. However, the AI has been beefed up, meaning more danger as well. If your looking for some defense, check out laser towers! They've been beefed up and rotate faster, giving them the edge over most ships. One or two well placed towers should give most Khaak some trouble, and take out any pirate gangs that try to raid your fort. If you've got a spare khaak M3 or a bunch of M5s, give them a shot at defending and see how they do. The M3 is the most powerful in the game- which will give you the edge over all pirates and some Khaak.
Eliminating the Competition
If your rank is high, and your ship is powerful, feel free to "encourage the competition to retire". This is extremely useful and profitable in sectors you know you can make loads of cash in.... *cough* Reservoir of Tranquillity *cough*
MINI TUTORIAL: Setting up your first SPP
Ok, you’re at the beginning of the game, and you want to start up your first factory- the SPP. It’s a great idea to go through the beginning missions first and get that free Argon Mercury.
A SPP will cost you around 700,000 total, but they are totally worth it, and are a great starting factory. When you have the necessary funds, travel to Argon Prime and hire the TL (Argon Mammoth) there. Tell it to dock at the Argon Prime Shipyard and buy the SPP. The Solar Power plant should only cost you only 270,000 credits. Now tell the Argon Mammoth to head up to the sector Kingdoms End.
While it starts off on its journey, head over to the Argon Wharf and buy an Argon Mercury. Equip it with just the basics, 3 1MW shields, full engine tunings, Trading cmd software Mk I and Trading cmd software Mk II. Now tell your new Mercury to dock at the trading station in Kingdom End.
Follow it in your ship, and protect or temporarily change its course if it looks like it’s heading into trouble. You don’t need to worry about your hired TL, who should be chugging along to Kingdom End.
When you arrive, you may need to wait for your hired TL to arrive. While you wait, look for a good position to place your factory. You should always try to place your factories in the center of the map, or near other factories. Strength in numbers! If your in a group of other factories, you have a much lower chance of your factory coming under attack and a greater chance of the Sector Defense getting to the enemy first. (Oh and by the way, kingdom end is one of the safest sectors there is, so you should never have to really worry about your SPP.)
When the TL arrives instruct it to move to a position that is somewhat close to where you want to drop off your SPP, by using the keypad. Then when it moves to that position, tell it to drop your frieght, using the number keypad to move the cursor once again. If every thing checks out, the TL should drop off your first Solar Power Plant! Now to get it up and running.
Set the home base of your Express (which should be docked at the Trading Station) to your new solar power plant. (the home base setting is in the comm menu) Then tell it to return home, in the comm menu, under Navigation. Now for the settings in your SPP. First set the max buying price to 1684, and the max selling price to 19 (you can later change the selling price higher if you like). Then set the max jumps to “2” and put 150,000 credits into the stations account.
Ok, everything is set, all you need is for your transport to go get the crystals. Comm it again after it has docked with your station and tell it to “Buy wares for best price…” It should leave the station and go crystal hunting! Well that’s it. Your Solar Power Plant is all set up, and will start making money.
If you want, you can put your mercury to use and have it sell the energy, but Kingdom End is such a great sector to have a SPP in, you won’t really need a ship selling the energy.
Congratulations! You’ve set up your first Solar Power Plant!
Advanced Factory Management (Pure Profit Loops)
Now, I hate to say it, but by "looping" your SPPs and making free energy, doesn't really make you any more money. Maybe just a couple thousands here and there. Because all the factories use ratios to make and use stuff, the math works out that when you’re done the amount of energy you put into the other factories to make the crystals leaves you with just enough energy left over to make the same amount of money you'd have made with out the loop buying the crystals for average! (Give or take a couple thousand)
To run a pure profit loop, it requires 492 Energy cells for every 8 crystals made (or 1 crystal Fab cycle). 8 Crystals will make you 1104 Ecells.
1104 (Ecells made)
-492 (Ecells needed for loop)
612 (Ecells left over that you can sell outside the loop)
612 * 18 = 11,016 * (7.5) = 82,620cr an hour
Cycles Per hour
Max Profit with a SPP in a pure profit loop: 105,570
Is this worth it?
Lets look at the initial starting cost.
Crystal Fab: 629,000cr
Solar Power Plant: 250,000cr
Silicon Mine: 445,000cr
Bofu Lab: 990,000cr
Bio Gas Fab: 779,000cr
Total Cost: 4,293,000cr
(And then there is the risk factor... ships destroyed)
Time until you make any profit: 40 and up hours
Profit amount afterwards: 80,000-105,000 an hour
Err... I don't know about you guys, but I think I'll skip the profit loops for SPPs. They make about the same amount of money as a non-enclosed one. It's all due to these proportionate factory ratios.
I think it would be much better to help out the local economy (their SPPs don't need crystals) then to make your own mini economy. But I also only recommend you "fix" the local economy where they really need it, basically where your SPP is nearly always out of stock of crystals, and yet it's energy sells for top price constantly. Otherwise it would cost too much. More then always, Crystal Fabs will need the foodstuffs, as the Cycle times are a little off. However, if your thinking of fixing this, remember that the food stuff factories are not cheap.
Well, that concludes the guide. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope this has been helpful and worth the read. Feel free to add comments, suggestions, and ask any questions you might have. I’ll keep updating this post.
May the profitssss be with you!
Special Thanks goes to pacific_wing, Burianek, Mad Hatter, giskard, Darshu, Nanook, BFWibble and everyone one else that took part in the debates or had great ideas or suggested stuff here.