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X3 for Pacifists
by Apricotslice

According to Egosoft, X3 is first and foremost, a "Space Simulator".

Pull the other one, its got bells on ! :)

X3, is primarily a first person kill kill kill kill kill kill kill space combat game. At least, the majority of people seem to play it that way.

And yet, you dont have to.

There is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the trading and trade empire building in the game are supurb, and albiet with some minor frustrations, can provide long term game play on there own.

The bad news is that the game is programmed so that the bad guys just keep coming at you relentlessly. And some of them you simply cannot ignore. There is some luck involved in avoiding the worst, but also some skill in planning to avoid the worst.

So how does the dedicated Pacifist play X3 ?

In the vanilla, as-delivered game, with a lot of difficulty. Its just not possible to avoid being targetted by the bad guys and since speeds are a joke in the game, you cannot just turn tail and run. You can run to the nearest station and sit and wait for them to leave, but there are plenty of stories of how they didnt around. You can jump out, but the drive takes time to charge and your shields have to last the distance or your toast.

So lets get serious. Our Stated Intent : Harmless is how the game starts you with combat rank, and harmless is how we intend to stay.

The object of this exercise to avoid having to kill anything ourselves, and to limit how often we have to have any of our assets kill as well.

First, a few obvious DONTS :

Dont choose a slow ship to fly yourself. And dont forget to upgrade its speed to maximum. All your ships should be as fast as possible.
Dont fly without maximum shields. All ships - max out before you use them.
Dont go into the Pirate, Xenon or Khaak sectors. Preferably do not go there at all, so your ships wont know about them.
Dont go into sectors that always have red dots in them.
Dont put guns on your freighters. Or fight command software either.

Now a few Do's.

Always have a maxed out ship as far as speed and rudder is concerned.
Carry Drones to release as a diversion if attacked.
Buy a jump drive asap and always carry e-cells for it. All ships. When attacked, you release drones and jump them.
Keep your eyes on the scanner for red dots and be prepared to go hide if you need to.
Pay attention to the ship under attack warnings. Give them orders asap.
Pay attention to where your ships are. If they are too near a nasty bit of the universe, jump them back to safety.
All ships have triplex scanners, to get more warding of bad guy movements.
Put advanced satelites in all key sectors, and keep checking them for red dots. The more you know about bad guy movements, the better you can avoid them.

Freighters.

The safest thing to do with freighters is also the most expensive route, but safety costs money. Install Trade Software Mk3 on all freighters. At 500k a shot, tis expensive, but considering the best freighters are an investment of 2 mil anyway, what another .5mil ?

Why do we do this ? The Mk3 trade software installs a "real" pilot onboard. 'He' learns on the job and gains rank. The higher his rank, the smarter he gets at piloting your ship. The primary role is to learn to trade, but what we are really interested is the survival skills the pilots learn. They automatically buy and deploy combat drones for diversion while they jump to safety. Then they buy more drones.

Now, any upcoming trader magnate is going to need funds, so the first few freighters can be set to Sector Trade and then Universe trade. Empires Edge is a good place to start, but get there early before the god-engine starts to dismantle it and try to keep steady trade happening there all the time. When a pilot gets over level 10, set it to UT and set another freighter going on training as an ST. If all you have explored is the Argon sectors, NW Boron and the Paranid sectors between Empires Edge and CloudbaaseSW, then when your UT's start to move more distance, they will remain in explored space, where its relatively safe. I say relatively, because a Khaak battlegroup can jump in anywhere, and Ore Belt has a Pirate Base.

If you get a Khaak Battlegroup jump into a sector that UT's want to go through, there is a script in the Script and Modding forum at Egosoft (http://forum2.egosoft.com/viewforum.php?f=66) which allows you to place and rename satelites in a way that your UT's will avoid a sector that does not have a satelite. Its best to use this from beginning of game, because its a real pain to activate when you already have heaps of satelites. Its not an ideal solution, buts its one available.

Your Home Sector.

Choosing your home sector wisely is important. For a number of reasons.

First, resources. If you truely are going to become a Trading Magnate of universal renown, then you are going to need a lot of resourses and preferably all in the one place, at least for early game. As your complex's grow, they will chew through resourses rapidly, and demand more of them, so you need to choose a sector with high resourses and lots of them.

Basic requirements then : At minimum, a sector that has at least one each of greater than 50 yeild Ore and Silicon Asteroids capable of supporting a mine. Make a note, your only going to put L mines on them too (or XL mines if you get the Factories Mod).  In addition, 2 or 3 each of greater than 25 yeild roids, whcih can be later towed to your complex and added on for later on expension.

Thats resources, lets look at safety considerations.

Small sectors with large concentrations of roids are a hazard to fly through, try to avoid them for an HQ. Lifes hard enough without the rocks trying to kill you as well. At the least, you want an open place in the sector with nothing obstructing the flylanes from the gates, in which to concentrate your complex. Make sure the hub is always clear in all directions so ships dont kill themselves navigating to it.

You want to build well away from the normal ship flylanes. The Pirates use these too, and if your in range of their scanners, a percentage of them will consider you a target. Dont be a target. If you paint a bullseye on yourself, someone will try to score, and then you have to defend yourself and thats exactly what we dont want to have to do.

Avoid sectors adjacent to danger zones. The bad guys always overspill a sector or 2 and we are talking bullseye again.

If you are careful, you can establish in somewhere like Ore Belt, which has a Pirate Base. As long as you stay well outside the triangle formed by the 3 gates, and well away from the pirate base and the flylanes from the Pirate Base to the Gates, you will not attract too much attention from Pirates.

Your HQ Complex.

You have chosen your sector, and a place to build within the sector. If you have a tractor beam, drag the main roids you want to use over to your building site first, before doing anything else. Concentrate on being self-sufficent. Silicon roid first.

Put in a closed loop energy complex first. If you can afford to, since we are going for big-time trading magnate status here, go straight to an XL SPP, and start building to supply it for all its food and crystal requirments. Once its up and running, then decide what you really want to make. But think big up front, or later on, you will be regretting it. If your a newbie to the game, build a M version first to get the hang of things, but position so that it can be absorbed into a larger complex later.

Dont bother building pretty nice neatly laid out complexes. The ones that look like spagetti have an inbuilt defense mechanism, in so far as a proportion of attacking ships will kill themselves on the internal connection tubes. Them suiciding because they cant fly is not our problem and doesn't count on our kill list.

Ships for your complex.

While building your complex, ignore its needs. Let your UT's make money for you and spend it on, firstly more UT's, and then on building the complex to closed loop level. Between times, do some smart trading yourself.

Ideally, you aim to build a complex that does not require ships. The fewer ships you have the less likely you will lose any and the easier it is to keep tabs on them.

But the bigger your complex grows and the more mistakes you make building it, the more likelihood there will be for opportunities to arise where a ship is needed for selling. Some of your choices can require a ship as well. For example, many products will not attract NPC traders, so you will need to deliver them to customers. You need to research this yourself before choosing what you make.

So, what ships do we use for our complex ?

Why, our UT's of course ! When your complex really is functioning well enough to demand a selling ship to keep it from being fully stocked, then the ship being used as a UT will often make more in dedicated shipping of your product. I had a complex where I inadvertantly added too many Cahoona factories and was generating a huge surplus. My UT was not performing too well at that point (the god engine had been relentless), and so I jumped it home and set it to selling cahoonas. It make heaps more this way.

Why the UT's as ordinary freighters ? Once the pilot is trained, even though turning off the UT command lobotomises them, they do retain their survival skills. So a UT trained ship will still jump clear of any attack, and will depoy drones to distract while it does so, and handsdown is far more survival savvy than any other ship. As I said before, its expensive, but it pays off by having freighters that can survive.

Choose UT's with high ranks for the experience, and continue to train the others in preparation for later becoming complex transports.

In Sector Defenses.

Well obviously, we would prefer not to have any.

However, the developers decided to ensure that no matter where you go, you are likely to be attacked, so defense is a requirement.

In defense though, we start killing by default. So at this point we are beginning to stray from the objective. We need to place enough defenses to be secure, but not so much that we become aggressive.

My personal preference is LaserTowers, and lots of them. These are a defensive platform, with a sheild and a gun, placed specifically and then forgotten about.

The idea is that they provide a deterant. You place 50 or 60 around a gate, or in a grid pattern around a gate, and anything enemy that jumps into that gate is targetted immediately. In theory, having such defenses would get around and act as a deterant to anything less than a full scale assault. The game doesn't have full scale assaults and it blindly just sends Pirate patrols and odd Xenon and Khaak ships at you willy nilly. So the deterant factor is mute. Nothing we can do about this. Its a design factor in the game that works against the "I dont want to kill" philosophy. The games makes us. Likewise, the game doesnt have wounded ships retreating very often. most of them are suicidal and they keep attacking you until they die. Just a fact of life in X.

Lasertowers. Placed around each gate to defend in sector. Then another set in the sector the gate emerges from, so that anything enemy approaching the gate will be fired upon at maximum range and either killed or damaged before they can get into your sector. If damaged and they come on, the in sector defenses should finsh them. In large sectors, you will probably want to place some between the gates and the complex, so that any enemies that get through can still be picked off before coming in range of your complex.

If ships suicide on your fixed defenses, this is their choice and not your problem.

If enemies make it through and they dont come near your complex, let them go.

If one does fire upon your complex, you have a decison to make. You may have to go in there and kill it yourself, or you may have to send another ship in to do it. Either way, you are choosing to kill, and this is not good. If the ship is an M5, leave it go. It cannot dent your complex sheilds anyway, so let it amuse itself, and likely it will hit a connector and die anyway.

Personally, I would prefer complex based defense platforms which only fire if the complex is hit, but they dont exist as yet. but keep your eye out for mods that have them. 

A warning about placing LT's too close to your complex. They can and do fire directly into your stations and can damage them. Stupid gun, bad gun ! Make sure you place them out of range of your won stations. Shooting yourself in the foot isnt a requirement of the game.

Basic Tactics.

See an enemy, run like hell !

If you cannot run, or run fast enough, you dock asap.

If you cannot run and cannot or do not want to dock, jump.

If you cannot do anything because if you dont an asset will be destroyed, learn the lesson of it being in the wrong place and dont go back there.

If you really must protect the asset, then do what you have to do and action the next section immediately.

If what you defended was a fixed asset, build it some fixed defenses.

If you have to fight, capping is preferable to killing. Let the Pilot go, and salvage the ship for profit.

Shock, Horror ! I had to kill, I'm not "harmless" anymore !!!

Its not always possible to avoid killing. The devs made it this way. Sometimes you have to.

For pennance, you must immediately jump to the Goner Temple.

Dock.

Turn Seta on maximum.

Stay in isolated retreat until your combat rank drops back to Harmless.

Not being aggressive does not mean being a doormat !

When retreating and running is not an option, sometimes you have to fight.

So, in the spirit of deterent, choose a ship that can really bite if if it needs to. Something that says "Dont mess with me".

If someone does, thats their bad luck, you shoot to kill. If they retreat, let them go. But like a rabid or teminally ill animal, you put attackers down as fast as possible. Your ship should allow you to do this. Its not our fault, the game was written without deterent built in. So lets have the spirit of it alive in our game and forgive the devs for making us kill.

Then you go do your pennance.

Scripting and Modding.

The scripting and Modding Forum has a lot of useful stuff in there. Likewise, learning to script and mod allows you to make some changes to your game to allow you to be more defensive.

There is an upgrade script for Lasertowers, that allows you to put 125mj sheilds in them. Personally, I took that script and changed it to1gj shields and modded the LT specs to allow this. This way, they are fixed defenses, not targets in a shooting gallery.

The Gunbus/Camel Mod,
is the Mod I made to give myself a decent trading ship. http://CircleofAtlantis.com/games/X3/apricot.html

These are standard M6 ships, with expanded cargo bays, more speed, bigger sheilds, more gun options. There are definitely an unbalancing factor on the game, but these ships are designed to be able to get out of harms way, or kick-ar*se if you cant. The script for UT is modifed to allow an M6 to be a UT, so you can use these as standard freighters. Its up to you how far you upgrade these ships, but they are designed for the Trader who isnt interested in being target practice for anyone.

In all the time I've run a Gunbus as a UT, it has never been attacked. I'm not sure why, but its partly its speed, and partly because it is not an easy target to take out for an average attack group.

I recommend looking at the mods and scripts on a regular basis, as within them, are often things that make a defensive game easier.

Learn how to mod. Speed is the key, and if your faster than anyone else, you control the combat situations. How you balance that is up to you if you even want to, which I dont. Upping the shields is also easy and makes all the difference in survivability. Just a tip though, create a new ship. If you modify the Nova, all Nova's in the game are modified. If you modify the Pirate Nova, then you make things a lot more difficult.

Another thing to do is mod things more in your favour. Find the Pirate, Xenon and Khaak ships and remove some guns, slow them down, lower the range of the Kyrons and increase the range of your own guns. (be careful again !).

Very few ships in the game use PBE's. I find them a wonderful gun, but underranged. So I upped the range ! If you also then reduce the power of all other guns in the game, you create a less damage oriented game with more ability to survive until you escape.

Its up to you how far you break the "rules" in order to be able to not kill.

Khaak Battlegroups.

These are the one force in the game that can ruin your whole day, even when you deliberately play to avoid trouble. They will jump in to sectors randomly. When they do, that sector is toast. And it remains toast until the Player takes them out.

If they jump into your home sector, well away from your LT grids, then you have a serious problem, and you must kill them. They are smart enough to stay away from massed LT's.

The only decent answer for the combat inept, is the PPC gun in a rear turrent, usually of a TL. They have slightly longer range than the Khaak Kyons, so if you play chicken with a KM2 or KM1, and just stay out of its range, while keeping it following you, then you can kill it with the rear turrent.

If you have an M2, then you have a better chance of taking them out, but its still a game of chicken, since the Kyons hit harder and more often if you stray into range.

The Gunbus and Camel will carry them also, so if your using them, you can call your UT's back for defense purposes. Be careful though, the Kyons are still lethal if they stray in range.

The other hope is "unidentified" missiles you collect from battle sites. You fire these without a target lock, and they will slip through the Khaak defenses. Several will take out a capital ship easily, but make sure you are no-where near it when it goes off your toast too. Likewise, ensure your not under fire when you fire it, one hit on the missile as you fire it and your gone.

Within the game, the Battlegroups are the hardest thngs to get rid of, and the ones you should be least bothered by killing. Again, the devs designed the game this way, and if they hit your system, you either kill them or start again from scratch somewhere else. Your choice. If you decide to kill, your going to need a lot of pennance done after.

Go to it, good luck.