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SpaceStations Police Combat Missiles


Space Stations and Docking

Plenty has been said, in various places, about the best way to dock. The easiest is to buy a docking computer, but that sometimes tries to fly you through anything in the way, including the space station. The tape version had a very nice docking computer - as soon as you were in the safety zone and pressed "C" you would dock. The major problem with docking computers is that by the time you can afford them you are pretty good at docking manually anyway.

Manual docking has some advantages. Firstly, you don't have to spend money on a docking computer. Secondly, it's usually quicker. Thirdly, you have more control over what you are doing. The docking method recommended by the Elite pages author is as follows:
When you first sight the station, it will probably be to one side of the planet (or above, below, etcetera). Position yourself so that the planet is to the left of your laser sights and the station to the right (or vice versa). Fly on in a straight line. Keep an eye on the side views for the space station. When you are looking straight at the entrance with a side view, rotate round until you are facing it. Try to dock at full speed. You are not left guessing the angle of the entrance at the last minute by doing this. With some practice it becomes far easier than going in slowly.

As well as being difficult to dock with, space stations are also well known for launching fleets of Vipers after you as soon as you transgress in the safety zone. Transgression can be anything from firing a single shot at an innocent ship, and even ramming it. The door will be shut on you (fly out of the safety zone and back again). Ramming a Transporter is the biggest offence, and results in immediate promotion to Fugitive status.

So, whoever controls the space station seems quite happy to send out forces after anyone attacking it, but what do they do to defend poor 'Harmless' traders who are attacked within its realm of jurisdiction? Precious little, in fact. The only aid offered is immunity to missiles. Instead of simply using the station's ECM they are jammed and sent flying off towards the planet, where they explode. No consideration seems to be made for the poor inhabitants below.

Finally, all space stations have ECM systems, and will lend it to their Vipers.

The Galactic Police Force

The police can become a serious nuisance, although they are rarely lethal. It might be borne in mind that whatever the manual suggests the Viper is the most manoeuvrable ship in the game.

Attacking the space station and wiping out the Vipers launched to deal with you can provide a few minutes of entertainment for the more psychotic amongst you, but should have little practical effect on game progress. Perhaps more serious is the fact that if you carry illegal cargo sooner or later Vipers start appearing outside the safety zone. Unless you are a Fugitive they will ignore you and fly off towards the planet. This will obviously prevent you from jumping, but attacking the police to get them out of the way is not wise. The legal status jumps to Fugitive, and before long Vipers are appearing as quickly as you can destroy them. This time they do not all have ECM systems, and act like pirates in that they won't appear in the safety zone. If, however, you should stray into the zone whilst battling GalCop the door will be shut on you and station-based Vipers will be launched.

[Cobra and Vipers]


Surviving combat is almost entirely down to practice (and having a well equipped ship). Knowing when to run is a good idea, which is most of the time for inexperienced traders and hardly ever for those of us rated Elite (or so we claim!). The most obvious way to avoid major losses due to being blown to smithereens is to save your position regularly. Escape capsules are only useful if you have done a lot since your last save. Most of the time the loss of 1000cr and cargo is not worth it, and going back to your last save makes sense.

The ideal situation is not to be destroyed in the first place. Single ships never pose much of a threat - even those in missions can be tackled with confidence once you know what you are doing. Missiles are best saved for groups of enemies. Any enemies are at their most dangerous on their initial attack run when they are all flying straight towards you and all firing at the same time. If your shields are in good condition it is best to charge them to split the pack up as soon as possible, although take care to avoid collisions. Once ships are all over the place, it is down to practice and experience to take them out. This usually means targeting one ship and firing on just that one until it is destroyed. If enemy fire starts becoming a nuisance, try flying all over the place for a bit to shake them off.


Missiles can sometimes turn out to be a major headache, and as you have probably discovered by now the ECM is a very useful piece of equipment. If you don't have an Extra Energy Unit the ECM can quickly down your energy, and during heavy fighting it can be difficult to get the energy back up to above Unit 3 (shields will not start to recharge below this).

There is still the problem of what to do if you don't own an ECM. Shooting down missiles is possible if you are in the right position, but not a very reliable method. The advice given in the ArcElite manual is the best - have a missile locked on a ship with an ECM. If someone missiles you, hit 'M' and have your missile, along with the one after you, taken out by the ECM. This leaves just two problems: (1) How do you know which ships have ECMs, and (2) what happens if the ship you fire the missile at is innocent? The answer to the second question is simple - take care who you target your missile at, otherwise you'll have another ship after you. Traders often have ECMs, pirates rarely, Thargoids always and so on. See also the section on space stations.

Knowing when to use missiles is rather helpful. They are generally most useful in large battles when the missile can be off after one target whilst you are gunning down another. Locking a missile on one of the approaching ships at the start of a battle can save you time later one when you might otherwise be struggling to target it.


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