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Newbie Guide to Making Money Through Trading

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 00:54
by Creston
Well, now that I've done the initial trading routine twice, I think I've gotten the hang of it, and in order to share my findings, I figured I'd write a guide on the topic.

PLEASE NOTE : This guide was written before patch 1.4 was introduced and made some rather massive changes. The biggest change is that you can no longer use a Manta to sell Silicon! Only TS ships will now allow you to do so!
Playing with 1.4, I would either use the Mercury given to you in mission two to do the initial trading, or buy a dolphin AND a jumpdrive, and immediately go to the satellite / jumpdrive part of trading. Unless you're a really patient person, and don't mind flying around at 120m/s... :o

Starting the game, it can be quite hard to make yourself some money with which you can finally begin to set up your trade Empire, or even buy yourself a decent ship with which you can start capturing other ships. I've found that trading is the best bridge between your start and your first million.
(I've tried mining, and while it's a nice bit of income, in my opinion it pales when compared to efficient trading. I spent two hours completely emptying Seizewell of all asteroids, with two AI ships to haul all my loot away, and found I'd made a little over a million credits. Once your trading routes are firmly established, you can pretty much double that, and there aren't that many profitable asteroid sectors to be found (initially) anyways.)

I'm sure that some of the experts here will disagree on the issue of trading vs mining, but let's keep that for other discussions, shall we? :)

Anyways, without further ado, let's get started.

Starting up

The first thing you need to do is get yourself a ship that will allow you to trade in a decent volume. Trying to trade in your Argon Discoverer is an excercise in sheer futility, so please don't do that. To get enough money to get started, you can follow several paths

1) Use the famous "Sell Stuff From The Express In Mission 2" method, which will set you up nicely with a good ship and cash to trade with. I won't go into details on how this work, use the search function and you'll find thousands of posts on the topic.

2) Run some BBS missions. This is very slow, but it works.

3) Search for packages. If you start on X-Treme difficulty, this is pretty much the only thing that will work (at least until you get to mission 2), but surprisingly it can gather you a reasonable amount of credits in a short amount of time, if you know where to sell certain items. (Hint : Spaceflies, Space Fuel and Space Weed can all be sold to the Pirate Base which is about 50km North of the North gate in Ore Belt). It's totally random what you will get from a package, it's usually energy, but you'll often get 10 spaceflies or something, which you can sell for about 38K.

I would recommend hunting for some packages until you have 30 cargo space in your discoverer, then going off to do Terracorp's missions, and selling the loot from the Express. Once that's done, you should have approximately 400k in credits.

Now, don't run off and dump this into an SPP just yet. We're talking about trading, remember?

Your Trading Vessel

Once you have your money (200k will do, in which case you'd get an Argon Mercury), fly up to Kingdom End, which is in the extreme NorthWestern corner of the Galaxy map, and dock with the Boron Drydock. Buy yourself an S version of the Boron Manta, and upgrade its speed fully. It already comes with a cargobay of 1000 units, and can haul XL cargo. Fully upgraded, it will fly at a reasonable 216m/s, which makes flying around the spacelanes at least tolerable. Don't worry about any weapons or shields (although the S version comes with a 1MW shield), you aren't going to fight, and if anyone wants any trouble, you can always just run away. Don't sell your Disco. (we'll need it later)[/b]

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 00:55
by Creston
What to Trade?

Really, there is only one commodity worth trading in the X2 universe. Silicon. While many people will proclaim that hauling Energy out of The Wall makes you a lot of money, I find hauling energy to be a complete waste of time. I'll give you some mathematic proof of that statement.

A Boron Manta, if we conveniently ignore the few bits of cargo space we lose due to some equipment, can haul 1000 units of energy in a single session of trading. Bought at the extreme low price of 9, and sold at the extreme high price of 23, this nets you 14 credits profit per Unit of Volume (UV).

That same Boron Manta can haul 200 units of Silicon (silicon is an XL cargo, and takes up 5 units of cargo space per unit), which can be bought for an extreme low of 227 credits and sold for an extreme high of 781 credits. 781-227=554 credits profit per unit of Silicon, divided by 5 units of cargo space = 110.8 credits profit per Unit of Volume!

As you can see, trading Silicon is almost TEN TIMES more profitable than hauling Energy.
This number is diluted somewhat because Energy is far easier to obtain and sell than Silicon, and so trading Silicon will take you longer per full load than Energy would, but even so there is simply no comparison.

Every other cargo in the Universe has a profit per Unit of Volume that's nowhere near to Silicon, so I won't go into them.

Now that we've established we're going to trade Silicon, we need something to help us find those bargains and those awesome sales, and this comes in the form of the Best Buy and Best Sell Locators.
You can buy these in Teladi Space, the easiest place to get them would be CEO's Buckzoid at the Teladi Equipment Station.

Your First Run

While the Best Buy and Best Sell locator work great for the sector you are in, you do not yet have the ability to check prices of other sectors. Just the sector you are in. Because of this, you'll need to run a manual route past a few good profitable sectors to do your trading.

Fly down to President's End (which is southeast of Argon Prime) and select the Best Buy locator. (shortcut key is "6")
Check on the price of Silicon. With a little bit of luck it should be in the low 200s. If it's not there, but still at least 100 below average, just buy it anyways, and it will be at 200 for our next run.
Now, we need to find a market for it. There are two good routes that you can take in order to sell your Silicon, I'll go over them one by one.

Route One : Fly up north into The Wall which unfortunately has no buyers for your Silicon. So just skip on through north into The Hole.

It has one buyer, so check your best sell locator (shortcut key "5") and see what Silicon sells for. It should sell for at least 750+, especially if you didn't buy it in the low 200s. If it does, great, target the station that's buying your silicon (You can do this from the best sell menu, just scroll down and hit "T" on the Silicon line), sell it, and fly back to President's End.
If it doesn't, go up North into Antigone Memorial.

Antigone Memorial has two potential buyers for your silicon, AND it also has two Silicon mines. Quite often you will find that you can sell your Silicon here for 700+ AND then buy a new load for around 250. :)
If you can sell your load here, great, do so, and check if you can buy some new Silicon. If you can't buy new Silicon for a good price, just go back to President's End. If you still have a full load of Silicon after Antigone Memorial, either on account of not having a buyer, or because you sold and then rebought, go West into Power Circle.

Power Circle has only one buyer, but it also has one Silicon Mine. Do the same routine as in Antigone Memorial. If you have a full Silicon load after this sector, fly West into Three Worlds.

However, if you do NOT have a load of Silicon after Power Circle, go South into Herron's Nebula. It has two Silicon Mines, and a good chance of getting you some more for a cheap price. If it doesn't, go South into Argon Prime, South into Home of Light, which has one Silicon Mine, before returning to President's End to the East.

By now, unless you are supremely unlucky, you should have been able to sell at least one full load of Silicon for around 400-500 credits profit. Considering the fact that you were hauling around close to 200 units of the stuff, that's 80K to 100K you've made, and on a decent computer at SETA ten, this trip so far should have only taken you about fifteen or so minutes.

If you still have some Silicon in your holds, you will go West from Power Circle into Three Worlds. It has only one buyer, so do a quick check to see if you can sell your stuff, and if not, move up North into Kingdom End.
If you can sell your silicon here, return to Herron's Nebula (East then South) and follow the route from there as described above.

Kingdom End has one buyer, and one Silicon Mine, so do a quick check, and if you can't sell, go East into Rolk's Drift, which has three potential buyers.
If you empty out your hold here, it's a bit of a gamble on where to go next, since you will not be able to refill your hold for another two to three jumps if you decide to go back, (back to Power Circle then South into Herron's Nebula) but at least then you'll be in the middle of sales territory.
Alternatively, you can jump East twice, landing you in Menelaus' Frontier, which offers two Silicon Mines. Buy something here, or go South into Rolk's Fate, which has another Silicon Mine.
If you get a cargo from either of these two sectors, I'd recommend going south to Atreus' Clouds, then West into the Hole, and following the route one again as described above.

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 00:56
by Creston
Once you've flown route one a few times, thereby probably exhausting the potential for 450-500 credit profits for a bit, go back to President's End (which should have another mine totally full for you), then take

Route Two : Fly West into Home of Light.

It has one Silicon Mine, but unfortunately no place to sell it in, but if the mine is full and you get a sale within the next two jumps or so, return here and buy the cargo, then continue on with route two. In Home of Light, go South into Ore Belt.

Ore Belt has two buyers. If you get a sale, return to either Home of Light (if it had some to buy) or President's end. If not, fly West into Cloudbase SouthWest.

Cloudbase Southwest has another two buyers. Return to Home of Light or President's End if you sell something, go North into Red Light if you don't.

Red Light is the BEST sector for selling Silicon, as it has a staggering four buyers awaiting your cargo. Unfortunately, they ALL seem to peak at the same time, so it's not really a case of the sector constantly having a 700+ buyer awaiting your arrival, but I've probably sold more Silicon in Red Light than anywhere else. Red Light also has a Silicon Mine, so stock up if you need to and can, then continue on North into Ringo Moon, which has another buyer. If you empty your hold here, keep going. If you don't, keep going as well. :)

Go North into Cloudbase Northwest, which is a bit of a useless sector, then either go North if you still have Silicon, or East if you need to buy some more in Herron's Nebula.
From this point on, continue on as described in Route One.

These two trading routes should easily net you about 200-400k of profit in an hour, and since you're flying about, it gives the mines and the buyers time to refill before you visit again.

You Said We'd Make A Million Or More!

Yes I did. However, right now you're not at the part of efficient trading yet. Lumbering around space like the paltry Boron and Teladi is NOT the hallmark of the Trading Tycoon, my friends. For that, we need the Jumpdrive.

Once you have amassed around 500.000 credits, it's time to take the trading route to the next level. First off, fly towards Cloudbase Southwest, and visit the Goner Temple (alternatively, go to Home of Light and visit Terracorp HQ), and buy yourself a Jumpdrive for a measly 100K (and believe me, this is the BEST 100K you will ever spend in the game). Check your "6" for a place to buy some Energy, and buy 100 or so units.
Once you have the Energy, hit "Shift+J" to activate the JumpDrive. Jump to Kingdom End, and visit the Boron Dry Dock Alpha.

Trade in your Manta for a Dolphin. The Dolphin is much slower than the Manta, but since we now have a Jumpdrive, we'll be flying around approximately 70-80% less than we did before, and the Dolphin can hold so much more cargo it's not even funny. Plus, if you were to use the Jumpdrive in your Manta, the space for the Energy would take up space you could otherwise be hauling Silicon in.

Make sure to upgrade your cargo bay in the Dolphin to around 1400 or so, and every now and then upgrade it a bit. Once you have it to about 1800 it should be good. Buy Energy until you have about 1100 cargo space left, which is more than any one Silicon mine can fill, then check how much money you have left. If you did it right, you should have about 100k left, 25k of which you'll need to buy a new load of Silicon.

Now, we have a Jumpdrive, but are still sorta stuck in going from sector to sector, which isn't the way to go. We need to buy some Navigation Satellites. I'd go with the plain standard ones, since the improved ones only are useful if you run the Khaak Warning ASEWS script, and it's presumed that the Khaak have not invaded your galaxy yet. (if they have, President's End is no longer available).

You can buy Satellites from Red Light, which has both a factory, and the trading station sells them as well. Get as many as you can. Now just drop a satellite in every sector you have a lot of customers (either buying or selling) in. You won't be able to do them all in one go, but after another half hour or so, you should be able to get a refill on those satellites. Remember that I told you to keep your Disco? Load the satellites up, fly to the sectors you want them in, and just eject them from your cargo hold. (Yes, you could do this with your Dolphin as well, but it would take longer).

Now then. Get back in your Dolphin, and hit the Universe Map key. ("<") The sectors in which you have a satellite will show up with a green outline. Hit enter on a sector to go into the sector map, hit enter again on the satellite (should always be the first option in the list, unless you have a ship there), and then hit 6. Voila!

You can now check on prices around the galaxy from wherever you are, courtesy of your satellites. If you see a sector that sells silicon for 227, Jumpdrive to it, buy the Silicon, and start checking your sectors for a place to sell it at 750+.

It will take a bit of time to get enough satellites to fill up a nice amount of sectors, but once you do, you should be able to jump around at least ten times an hour, buying for 227 and selling for 750+. And there is your million credits an hour.

Now, there is another trick you can do with the Dolphin which is pretty cool, and nets you some nice extra profits. You will notice that once you start hauling Silicon around in your Dolphin, your hold will begin to slowly fill up with extra Silicon, because you can buy more Silicon from a full mine (208) then you can sell at most places (usually between 198-204) when they are totally empty. This extra Silicon comes in handy though.

Look around for a place that offers to pay 781 credits for Silicon. Jump there, and sell the full load of Silicon to them. Now, check the bulletin board. More often than not, the station will have a BBS mission in which they ask you to get them around 40 silicon, will pay 781 for it, and will give you a bonus usually around 30-40K. Once you've sold your silicon, the mission stays on the bulletin board until you leave the station!
So, sell the full load of Silicon normally for 781, dropping the price back down to 227, then take the bulletin board mission. Leave the station once you've accepted, turn around, fly straight back in, and you can sell an additional 40 or so Silicon for 781 AND get a nice cash bonus to boot. Pure profits.

Be sure NOT to take the mission BEFORE selling the full load of Silicon, however. If you complete the mission, the station will only take 40 or so Silicon, but it will still drop the price down to 550 or so credits, which is an utter waste of money. :roll:

And that's pretty much it. If you've read this far, you really deserve a cookie. Thanks for reading, I hope it helps some of you new players out in making your first million.
I ran this trade route for about five to six hours or so yesterday, and it netted me enough to buy an L Argon Nova, Two SPPs, Six Freighters and 12 25MW shields.

It's not as fast as capping, but if you have trouble capping (like I did) or enjoy trading, this is in my opinion the best money you can make.

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 00:57
by Creston
Now, once you've gotten to the Jumpdrive section, you might want to use the list below. It shows the sectors where you can Buy Silicon and where you can Sell it, followed by the number of Buyers or Silicon Mines, and the Gate which is generally closest so you don't have to fly as far in your Slow As Crap Dolphin.

Buy Silicon

President's End - 3 - West Gate (note, only until the Khaak invade!)
Menelaus' Frontier - 2 - East Gate
Antigone Memorial - 2 - West Gate
Herron's Nebula - 2 - West Gate
CEO's Buckzoid - 1 - West Gate
Rolk's Fate - 1 - North Gate
Power Circle - 1 - West Gate
Kingdom End - 1 - South Gate
Red Light - 1 - North Gate
Home of Light - 1 - North Gate
Profit Share - 1 - South Gate
Spaceweed Drift - 1 - East Gate
Blue Profit - 1 - South Gate
Company Pride - 1 - North Gate

Sell Silicon

Red Light - 4 - East Gate
Rolk's Drift - 3 - West Gate
Cloudbase Southwest - 2 - East Gate
CEO's Buckzoid - 2 - South Gate
Antigone Memorial - 2 - South Gate
Ore Belt - 2 - East Gate
Greater Profit - 2 - West Gate
Kingdom End - 1 - South Gate
Queen's Space - 1 - West Gate
The Hole - 1 - South Gate
Power Circle - 1 - West Gate
Three Worlds - 1 - North Gate
Atreus' Clouds - 1 - South Gate
Ringo Moon - 1 - South Gate
Teladi Gain - 1 - West Gate
Seizewell - 1 - West Gate
Blue Profit - 1 - South Gate
CEO's Sprite - 1 - North Gate
President's End - 1 - West Gate (Only until the Khaak invade!)

Edit : Btw, here's a few more areas where it's good to sell silicon if you have a jumpdrive:

Paranid Prime (2)
Empire's Edge (2)
Preacher's Void (2)
Reservoir of Tranquility (5)
Great Reef (3)
Light Water (3)
Greater Profit (2)
CEO's Buckzoid (2)
Thuruk's Beard (2)
Family Pride (2)
Priest Refuge (2)
Friar's Retreat (2)
Pontifex's Seclusion (2)

Note 1 : the Best gates will differ depending on whether you are buying or selling.

Note 2 : I've only made mention of the initial three races available to you for trading, the Argon, Boron and Teladi, and then only their initial sectors located in the Northwestern quadrant. I find that if you start jumping halfway across the galaxy to do this, you're wasting a lot of energy, putting up a ton of satellites which slow down your game, and just make it hard to oversee. With these systems I've rarely run out of trades to make, and if I did, I'd just do a few BBS missions which can make you an easy 50-100k if you fly a TS (like the Dolphin).
However, if you have the Paranid back up to friendly status so you can dock with their factories, I'd definitely make mention of a great place to buy

Emperor's Mines - 3 - North Gate

Also, if you can trade with the Paranid, buy a docking computer. With it you can just hit D at 5km away from a space station and you will dock automatically. No more monkeying around with the autopilot.

Note 3 : Sometimes you'll see a system sitting at a sale price of 650-680 or so, and figure that if you just wait for a little bit longer, it will go up to 700+. Be sure to CHECK that fab and see if it's not out of one of its resources. I've had several times where I figured I could wait just a little longer for the factory to use just a little more Silicon so the price would go up, only to find out later that it had been out of something else, and an NPC trader happily came in and sold for 680, dropping the price back to 330. :headbang:
Once you start jumpdriving, I'd be a little less concerned about how MUCH profit you make as opposed to making sure that YOU are making it.

Phew, that's about it. I know it got long, sorry about that. Any comments greatly appreciated, and if you found my guide helpful, please let me know. :)


Edit : Holgarth came up with an excellent idea to greatly speed up the process of finding a fab that buys your silicon for 700+. I've quoted the part below directly from his post. Thanks Holgarth!

I just wanted to add a neat trick I've been using to speed up the process.

Once you have enough money buy a silicon mine, set the maximum jumps to 50, add a little energy (only enough to produce a few wafers) and put a crap ship to work in it (needs XL transport capability and trade software but thats all). Once you've done this, each time you have a full load of silicon to sell from your dolphin simply tell the crap ship to sell for best price. it will pick up the wafers and head off to a station that is buying for 700+. At this point tell the crap ship to return home and head off to the station in your dolphin using the jump drive. This way the crap ship will look a all the buyers of silicons prices without you having to spend ages finding the best buyer!

I'm sure this will work the other way around for buying wafers too but you need a station with silicon wafers as its primary resource and send your crap ship on a best buy mission.

By this I'm not saying to waste a good station just make sure that when the station is up and running you keep a crap ship docked there with only a few wafers in it's hold and when you want to sell your wafers in your dolphin change the jump limit and send the crap ship out. while you are travelling from the jump gate to the station that's buying for lots - change the settings back.

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 01:23
by Rushyo
Whee an alternative to SPPs :D

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 14:54
by Maffu
Wow. Phenonenally detailed post and extremely useful. Thanksk for the major effort Creston.

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 14:55
by Rushyo
That's what I meant without the sucky-up ness :)


Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 15:01
by Maffu
Giving credit for something that someone has put a lot of time into and that you find helpful is NOT sucking up.
It's called being polite. It is a way of ensuring that people feel that their efforts are worthwhile and that they continue to make such efforts - all this "Yo dude" bull doesn't really mean anything does it?

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 15:01
by Al
Great posts.


Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 15:04
by Rushyo
Maffu wrote:Giving credit for something that someone has put a lot of time into and that you find helpful is NOT sucking up.
It's called being polite. It is a way of ensuring that people feel that their efforts are worthwhile and that they continue to make such efforts - all this "Yo dude" bull doesn't really mean anything does it?
Excuse me for being 16 and that happening to be the way I express gratitute :evil:

You don't have to be polite to be nice.

[And if you want to reply do it on PM]

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 15:08
by Maffu
Excuse me for being 16 and that happening to be the way I express gratitute
You are excused er... dude. :)

Sorry, I don't want to start an argument about the way that anyone speaks/writes but being called sucky for saying thanks really pisses me off. But each to his own I guess....

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 15:52
by 3iff
Nice post(s) Creston.

In my mining exploits, I'm making nearly 600k per hour. That's JUST mining although with the volumes I'm shipping, I find that selling silicon is a real problem as I can saturate a market very quickly. This is selling to a sector and all adjacent sectors (that want the produce).

The jumpdrive is vital though and navsats are extremely useful. I also use my disco to drop off navsats - it can cover a wide area very quickly - it's just a problem finding a supply of navsats!

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 16:07
by Edwin LLoyd-Jones
Nice post and well written :) Hadn't thought about upgrading to the dolphin class so soon cheers for that.

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 17:37
by CeeBod
Silicon trading is definately the most profitable, but personally I quite like trying to help out the AI - I have several TS & TP ships that I remote trade - leaving each one in a sector and trading absolutely anything that makes any profit at all before moving it on! - The returns are much smaller, but it tends to mean that a few factories get kick started into actually producing something that way! :D

Posted: Fri, 20. Feb 04, 17:59
by Creston
Glad to see that it helped some people out. :)

I've gained so much great tips and tricks from this forum I figured it'd be nice to give something back.

I'm currently actually trying to find some systems farther east where perhaps another trade run could be established.

3iff, I'll agree that you CAN make a lot of money with mining, especially in sectors rich with Asteroids, but it's a lot of manual work, whereas all you have to do when trading, really, is check some prices. :)

I still enjoy going out for a mining jaunt every now and then, and besides, killing off all those small useless 'Roids speeds your game up a little too. :D