Ok as some of you might know I wrote a guide for capturing in Xtension. I said I would do the same for X2 and i've finally done it. Have a read if you want some tips, give feedback on what you think.
Ship Capturing Guide for X2
So you want to capture? Are you ready to begin the pirates life of stealing ships from anyone who gets in your way? If so you've come to the right place.
There are many different tactics for capturing and I don't aim to cover them all. Here are 2 basic tutorials on capturing. The first is for capturing in an M5 ideal for people just starting off and wanting to try something other than trading, taxi missions and container hunting. The second is more advanced and is aimed at those who have an M4 or better.
Capturing Part 1: Capturing in an M5
For this I'm going to assume you are in the Discoverer or Disco for short. This is the ship you start X2 with and despite what some people think, the Disco can make a good basic capturing ship. After all its down to the pilot and not the ship. A good pilot can work wonders in a Disco, a bad pilot wont last more than a few seconds
Take the Disco and max out its shields and lasers (Gamma IREs). Also get some wasp missiles too if you can. Max speed and a boost extension is a must. Combat mk2 software is a must as well (auto aim helper thingy).
Head to the Goner Temple and buy several salvage insurance. This allows you to save in space so you can save the game before starting an attack. Capturing in a Disco has a painful learning curve and hence the need for salvage insurance.
First thing to note is that you need to know how to read the target ships stats. If you have a ship targeted the blue bar on the right of the right of the reticule is the shield strength and the green on the left is the hull. These are the most important thing you need to watch during a capture attempt.
Fly to the pirate sectors, my favourite hunting ground near the start is Elenas Fortune. What you want to find is a lone Bayamon or Mandalay. If you can find one great if not try Bala Gi's Joy. Failing this you're going to have to pick one off a convoy. To do this get in close and pick a ship from the rear of the convoy and ensure you dont hit anything else, especially the lead ship as then they'll all turn on you. But I'll come back to this in a minute.
First thing to do is either dock with a nearby station and save normally or use salvage insurance by pressing Shift + S while in space. This ensures that you can reload close to the targets should you get wasted and believe me this is going to happen frequently until you manage to refine your technique.
If you've got a lone target the theory is simple. If you are going to use just lasers, get behind it and reasonably close and match speed. I prefer about 300m but as you become used to capturing you'll find something that suits you.
The alternative is to pick a ship off a pirate convoy (only works on pirates, Xenon ships will all attack at once). This is more tricky due to there being multiple ships. Select one from the rear of the group and try and get an angle where you can ensure that no stray shots are going to hit any other ships. Once you start hitting it, its going to turn and come at you. Be prepared to dodge out of the way of both the ship and the incoming laser shots.
Now open fire and try and get the shields down on the first attack. This isn't always possible as they can turn quickly. Now the most important thing is to stay alive. A couple of blasts from a Bayamon and you'll be reloading. As the ship turns you need to get in behind it and continue firing to get the shields down. If you dont get behind the target you will get a nasty surprise. They will only fire missiles at you while coming towards you. Add this to the laser fire thats guaranteed and you've probably seen your last space fly. Once you manage this you have to do some damage to the hull. No pilot will even bail out if his hull is in perfect condition. The magic number you are aiming for is 87% or below but remember that the higher the hull value the more its worth!
The other method is to use wasp missiles. They do 5MW of shield damage each (perhaps a little more) so you need one for a Mandalay and 2 for a Bayamon. Once you have the shields down you need to ensure that the hull is at or below 87%. Use your lasers for this if required.
Once you have this you can break off and let the shields recharge. At this point turn back in and try again. You want to try and not do further damage to the hull if possible so try and restrict your shots to only what is needed to take the shields down. Once the shields are down there is a random chance the pilot will bail out. If this happens you will get a message first saying something like "no ship is worth a Split life" or "You've just put me out of business" etc. The target reticule (in the middle of your screen) will turn from red to blue. This is the time to stop firing. Any further shots will only damage your new ship and at best make it worth less but you can destroy it too.
When I capture a ship I normally break off and boost to full speed out of the pack. I order the captured ship to dock at either a nearby shipyard or a local station. Either way you want it to get the hell out of the fight as sooner or later its going to take some stray shots or an enemy might find it more interesting that you. If you are just starting I'd recommend saving after each successful capture as you don't want to lose your newly acquired ship.
In 1.4 this is even more critical than before. If you are attacking multiple enemies at once and you capture one of them, the others that are not actively attacking you will target your new ship and as they normally have no shields it only takes a couple of shots to destroy it. However there are a couple of things you can do.
Firstly try and keep all the enemies interested in you. Best way it to hit them all a few times but make sure you avoid using PSGs as this is likely to result in blowing up your captured ship. If you spot someone breaking off towards the captured ship, attack them asap to get their attention back on you.
Secondly if you have a ship thats equipped with a transporter device you can its freight transfer option to beam across one or more shields to your new ship. Note that if you are using the cursors to navigate the menus DONT accidently select "transporter device" or you'll be beamed to the pilots seat of your captured ship and as they generally dont have shields or weapons this is a bad idea!
With a little luck and some one or both of the above tactics your new ship will exit the battle area and dock at a station.
My best advice is to go for Bayamons. A good condition one will sell for about 100k without shields and lasers. But more importantly than this, it is the best ship for capturing IMHO. So if you capture one and dont immediately need the cash, keep it as a personal ship and once its upgraded use this instead of the M5.
You can target Pirate ships and IIRC 7 wasps are the best way to get the shields down and do hull damage. Dont fire from behind or even fly behind it as they have turrets and this will almost certainly mean the end of you. I found the biggest problem with taking out pirate ships is keeping the shields down low and evading the rear turret. It can be done but I recommend leaving them alone for now.
And there you have it. there is much more to capturing once you get a better ship but this should be enough to get you started.
Capturing Part 2 : Capturing as a way of life
This is how I have chosen to play my current game. I have a couple of factories (funded by capturing) but capturing is my main income and has just bought me a Paranid TL with approx 33 million left over!
So you know the basics, and you want to make some serious money. What you need is a ship that can mount Ion Disruptors (Ions). I personally use a Bayamon, originally a super one from Mission 2 but now after much action its extra engine tunings have been destroyed. It's a great ship and the only downside is a max of 10MW of shields. It can mount 4 weapons and fire up to Dragonfly missiles (but I don't use missiles ever).
This section is going to be based on a Bayamon but you can use any ship that's capable of mounting Ions.
So you've got the ship and want to start earning money. There are 4 ways of finding targets.
1. Hunt in the sectors near pirate bases for pirate convoys.
2. Take on transport missions with a Xenon threat.
3. Take on bounty hunter missions
4. Attack a pirate base (my personal favourite!)
The theory is like that for the M5 capturing but there are subtle differences. I never use missiles. Ions are the best weapon by far for draining your targets shields. I use 2 x Ions and 2 x Beta PAC (but any low power laser will do).
The method is the same regardless of how you find your targets.
I always target the heaviest ships first, so either Orinocos or Xenon Ls. Once targetted I usually slow down to about 100 m/s unless it's a very slow target in which case I drop to about 70 m/s. Get the target in range (~1.6km for Ions) and fire long enough to strip the shields using dual Ions. If you are using Ions with other lasers you can continue firing so that the low power laser causes hull damage. You will get a feel for what 87% looks like on the hull indicator but its very quick and easy to press "i" to see the exact damage. Once your target is below 87% then leave it and move onto the next. Repeat this process for all ships you are going to capture. I normally destroy Pirate Mandalays and Xenon Ns to reduce the number of ships I have to deal with. They are also not worth much and can be a pain while trying to capture the other ships due to their high speed.
Once you have got all target ships below 87% switch off the other lasers and only have the 2 Ions mounted. Depending on your style of play there are 2 ways to continue. You can fly like a deranged idiot between all the target ships continually targetting ships and blasting Ions all over the place (my method) or you can fly away from the group and then turn and run back through them blasting Ions. If you have the patience you can capture every ship, every time but this can take a long time. 30 minutes of continual fighting is not uncommon.
There are several things I have noticed during my capturing. The ship you have targetted is more likely to bail out that one that isn't. This is perhaps just due to more fire being directed at it but anyway it does appear to happen. Secondly ships are more likely to bail when their hull is being damaged. I have sometimes turned on ships that refused to bail using just Ions, with PACs and find they bail almost immediately. Of course the downside is that you are damaging the hull with each shot and if you capture them, they are worth less.
If you are using the Bounty hunter or transport with Xenon threat missions its important to note that the higher your combat rating is the more enemies (potential targets) that will be spawned. Also they will be of a higher calibre. As Admiral you can expect only M4s on Bounty hunting missions but going to Ace 3rd grade will get you an M3. For the Xenon missions you'll get a higher number of L's as your rank increases. One final note about the Xenon missions is that they are best done in sectors without cap ships for obvious reasons. Sector defence ships can be a pain but if they join my fight they do so at their own risk. If they get hit by my Ions arching and get mad then they just join the potential captures. If you can help it never kill these ships or the ejected pilot as this will trigger a pretty severe race rank drop. The same applies to any ejected pilots from bounty hunter missions or from race owned ships.
What can I capture?
This is a very common question to everyone who is new to capturing. You can capture all of the race, pirate and Xenon M3-M5s, TS and TP ships so this is what you can base you're empire on.
From a profitability point of view the best ship to capture is a Split Mamba. A basic hull at around 85% with no lasers or shields will still fetch around 600,000 credits. Personally I keep everything I capture, even M5s that I didn't intend to capture but bailed out anyway. Its all money in the bank!
And thats just about but not quite. For those who are at a reasonable combat rank there are another couple of possibilites......
Once you get to the combat rank where assassination missions spawn one or more M6s as escorts (i.e. NOT the M6 that the mark docks with) then you can capture them. But this is not like normal capturing as they are extremely unlikely to bail. Figures from myself and others suggest something in the region of 1-2% is about right. It seems that a small percentage of them are spawned with the ability to be captured, the rest are not. There is no way to tell which can be captured so you just have to try. I personally stopped trying to capture them and just went for the kill in a Nova. This seems to give them time to bail if they are going to. Be warned this could drive you nuts. I finally captured my first after killing approx 80 M6s in these missions, and then my 2nd only 2 missions later.
For those without a LOT of patience it might be best to just buy you own and leave capturing of these M6s to stubborn gits like me
Xenon K (M2 class)
Once you get to Ace of Aces 1st class combat rank you will get Xenon Ks spawned in the transport missions with the Xenon threat. These are capturable just like normal ships if you have the weapons to get the shields down!!!
Due to a bug in 1.4 you can capture Khaak ships in the normal way from the beginning until you complete the plot and then buy the Khaak specs from the BBS. At this point you will need to be at Ace of Aces 3rd grade and have luck on your side before you capture more.
I personally dont like this bug and apart from a single KM3, I dont keep any Khaak ships that I capture. Once I've bought the Khaak specs the this will change but I've not done that yet.
Have fun and good luck, you're going to need it
If you have any comments (good or bad) feel free to post them.