The actual mechanics of how to find and engage a target are found in the article how to participate in combat, so no need to go over it again in this article.
While it can become obscenely expensive to excel at combat in CE, which pretty much can happen with any career here in CE, the starting requirements are quite modest because all you need is:
- A ship (you get one free when you start).
- A weapon.
- A scanner.
- A way to repair your ship after combat.
Pretty basic actually as you don't even need a shield to start. If you do the Jonas Hawk starter missions at your starting location Starbase-51 in Feris, and then do <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Gunny" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Gunny's</a> missions at <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/New_Orion" class="external text" rel="nofollow">New Orion</a> (a planet in the same system as Starbase-51), then you will have all the equipment and <very> basic skills and knowledge you need to at least start a combat career.
The very basic theory behind combat is to get maximum reward for minimal risk and cost. Please note I don't say no risk or no cost. More than most activities, combat in CE is inherently risky and costly. The trick is to minimize those while getting the best value for taking those risks and spending those credits. Towards that end, at lower, new player levels, you really don't want to be pushing the combat envelope. If you lose a combat or have to retreat, then you are going to lose XP, credits and cargo instead of gaining them. After you reach level 10, you will also start to lose fuel as well if either of those happen. Now retreats and losses will happen in combat but since your gains and losses will help/hurt you relatively more at lower levels, you don't really want to pick targets you THINK you can beat, you want to reasonably sure that you can. How to '”push the envelope” will be explained in detail in another article.
The ship you are given when you first start the game, the <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Marauder" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Marauder</a>, has 500 armor and 500 hull for a total of 1,000hp. There are ways to enhance those stats, including adding a shield, but for now we will just use the basic, unmodified stats of the ship and we will go ahead and add in a weapon that does 80 average damage per shot. If you insist on continually attacking ships that have stats that are the same, or even close, then you can expect to lose roughly half your combats. Whether that be through having to retreat or from receiving a hull breach makes little difference. You will lose things instead of gaining them. “Average Damage” is a misleading number in Core Exiles combat. There is enough randomness in the combat system that taking on an evenly matched ship is generally a losing proposition overall, since you can't count on doing the average damage every shot. There are misses, below average damage, your enemy doing above average damage, a whole list of things that can make a specific combat deviate wildly from the “average”. Which is why you will occasionally win a battle you should have lost and also, lose a battle that you should have won. It doesn't take much at all to turn an “even match” into a lopsided thrashing. Sometimes this works in your favor but it can't be counted on.
Better to leave yourself a buffer of some sort. Whether that is having more protection than your opponent or being able to do more damage makes no difference as it results in the same thing. Take the example above. Both ships evenly matched in protection and firepower except this time will give the opponent only 400 armor and 400 hull so he has only 800hp. Doesn't sound like a lot but all of a sudden you have a decent buffer. You can now kill him in 10 shots of “average” damage where he is still going to have to hit you 13 times at “average” damage to kill you. In theory, you could miss three times or absorb three missile shots that do twice his gun damage, and still win. You now have a way to account for deviations in the combat system. You do take a hit on XP and credits using this system, you get less, but that is not the point at this level. Before tweaking the system, you have to learn to survive the combat first. Any amount of XP and credits gained is better than losing them. And once you engage a ship in combat, one or the other is going to happen.
You do need to experiment a bit. At the lower levels, relying on the Green/Yellow/Red threat system is a fairly reliable guide to the ships you can engage and hope to beat but it is not foolproof. With lower combat skills and little, or no, ship enhancements, Green generally means it is a ship you can beat. Yellow, you may be able to beat it. Red, not a chance. But as stated, it is not foolproof. In the Green/Yellow spectrum, you can have ships that are over gunned for the protection they have making them more dangerous than their threat level indicates. In the Yellow/Red spectrum, you may have the opposite. Ships that are actually beatable because they are under gunned. So the threat level isn't the end all, be all of deciding to engage a target.
A mistake that happens a lot and the thing to avoid, is to get killed by the same ship type over and over simply because it is rated as a green threat. If it can kill you, and has killed you before, in 5 shots and it takes you 8 shots to kill it, you are going to lose. That it showed up as a green threat makes no difference.
And that is the basic idea behind combat in Core Exiles. Survival and Risk vs Reward: how to determine it and how to use it to your advantage. The particulars of how to take advantage of it are beyond the scope of this introduction and will be discussed in a later article.
One non-introductory issue that does need to be touched on here, at least briefly, is the point of combat. It is to advance your game by shooting ships. Your goal in combat is not to find a particular ship or a particular class of ship and shoot it. Those might be mission goals but the point of combat is to shoot ships. Shoot them efficiently and in as great a number as possible while using the least amount of time, fuel and credits as possible. Towards that end, don't waste scans unless you have an overriding reason to do so. You may be on a mission to shoot a certain amount of ship types in a particular location but it is easy to forget and get mission focused. If you scan, scan, scan....30 times to find a single mission ship before you shoot, you have wasted 10 ships. 30 scans = 10 combats. You use 1 fuel to scan with and 2 to fight. Collecting loot is fuel free. Eventually, the mission ships WILL show up on your scans. Don't waste half a days worth of fuel for the return of a few ships killed. If you are on a mission, scan, look for a mission ship, if you find one, shoot it. If you don't find one on that scan, shoot something anyway. XP, credits and loot are just there for the taking and they don't care that they came from a non-mission ship.
Types of Combat Missions
A brief list and description of the various combat missions.
- General combat: Not really a mission type. You just decide to do some shooting and go do it. Most common by far for career combat pilots.
- <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Galactic_Federation" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Gal-Fed</a>, <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Verec-Per_Honour_Bureau" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Verician</a>, <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Pirate" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Pirate</a>: Given to you by those factions. Go to “X” location and shoot “Y” ships. You gain some credits, XP and faction standing in addition to what you get for shooting the ships themselves.
- <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Confederation" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Con-Fed</a>, <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Alliance" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Alliance</a>: Same as Gal-Fed, Verecian, Pirate except they don't exist in the game yet even though your combat mission screen will show them. But if they did exist, they would work the same.
- <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Category:NPCs" class="external text" rel="nofollow">NPC</a> Bounty Missions: Theses come in three flavors and will get you some XP and credits and may get you Faction Standing and/or IP.
- Go to “X” location and shoot “Y” ships.
- Named Bounties. Find <NPC> and shoot them.
- “Find the Crates”. Entails you going to a location or system and finding a certain ship type. After killing the ship you scan for the mission crate which the ship may not be carrying even though it is the correct ship. Mission is to find a certain number of crates and return them to the NPC. [IMPORTANT NOTE: Collect the loot BEFORE scanning for the crate!!]
- <a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Alien_%28Faction%29" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Alien</a>/<a href="http://docs.core-exiles.co.uk/index.php/Expanse" class="external text" rel="nofollow">Expanse</a> Combat: Combat in the expanse. High level combat.
- Pirate RAIDs: Really big, really mean, stationary pirates. Mid-High level cooperative combat.