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Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Life of a Trader

I decided to move to a new system: Zaragas. It is 23.74 light years from Eravate. In the end there were two desires that won out over all the rest in the decision to move or not move. The first was I wanted more profit per trade run than I was getting within Eravate. Eravate was good to me, but there was a limit to how much I could make because all commodities are kept within a range of prices. More on this in a bit. The second desire was better ship upgrades. In Eravate the best ship tech was centered around rating D. Also, the classes tended to be for smaller ships. As the Cobra Mark III has seven class 4 internal bays, Eravate wasn't going to work long-term.  It really requires a high-tech system to get the really good stuff.

Zaragas wasn't the first High Tech system I tried though. Initially I went to GD 219, also known as Gliese 755.1. An Eravate mission had sent me there once so I was familiar with the system. There is but a single station: McKee Ring.

In fact, the white dwarf primary of that system cooked me good - to the tune of nearly 6000 credits in repairs. Ouch! It really drove home the need to pay attention to the star type when I'm traveling to a new system. Though white dwarf stars are small, they are extremely hot. The nav beacon is set relative to the star's surface, so they are not necessarily further away just because the star is a small stellar remnant like GD 219 A. GD 219 A burns at 24,703 kelvin. Compare that to an average G type star like Sol which burns at 5,778 kelvin at the surface. Or the Eravate class K star which has a surface temperature of 4,077 kelvin. To say your ship will cook five times faster after dropping out of Hyperdrive in front of a white dwarf is committing an understatement. Just don't get complacent about turning away from the large glowing ball of super hot plasma when you come out of Hyperdrive. It could be an expensive moment of wonder. To aid you in knowing what you're about to jump into, I present the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720"]Hertzsprung–Russell diagram Hertzsprung–Russell diagram with 22,000 stars plotted from the Hipparcos Catalogue and 1,000 from the Gliese Catalogue of nearby stars.[/caption]

Even an unexplored system will give you the stellar class of its star(s.) You can cross reference that with the top of this diagram to know how hot it is if the system is unexplored. You can also find web sites that will give you exact characteristics for all the subcategories, but I'll leave that up to you to discover.

Now back to trading. The routes into and out of GD 219 just aren't that great. There are good candidate trading systems in Ross and Ekuru, but the margins are for shinola. Besides, it turns out GD 219 was closer to Sol and I don't want to be closer to Sol. I'll visit humanity's birth place after I'm rich and famous. So I went the other way, toward the great unknown. That suits me better. So I ended up staying a spell in Zaragas.

This system has a really good Consumer Technology run from Jenner Hub to Gidzenko Ring in LTT 7453 at an average of 780 credits a ton. The return run of produce isn't all that great, though you'll still make around 280 credits a ton. Still, the 2.05 light year jump between the systems makes it a fast run that doesn't consume a lot of fuel. Just taking it easy I can get in six runs an hour easily. That's ((780 credits x 36) + (280 credits x 36)) x 6 runs/hour = 228, 960 credits/hour. I've watched many YouTube video guides for how to make money in Elite: Dangerous, and that's close to what I've been seeing as the average earnings of 300,000 credits per hour regardless of what low risk endeavor you pursue. It I squeeze in just one more run that ups my take to a comparable 267,120 credits an hour.

But you don't want to just fly back and forth. You need to pay attention to the Bulletin Board, and that's going to slow you down some. But there is an excellent reason for this. Rare goods are not the only way to double your money on any particular run. You don't need to go live in a rare goods system with every other Tom, Dick and Harry to reap big payouts. You just need to wait for the right job.

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Here is one such job. You can see the buy price on the left, and the completion reward on the right (click to embiggen.) That's more than doubling your money, and it left me with 27 tons of space for Consumer Technology at 780 credits profit a ton. On the return run I got a similar deal, though the overall prices and rewards involved were smaller because Coffee just isn't as expensive as Robotics.

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This is, again, substantially more than doubling your money, though the overall profit is less due to the lower commodity price. Nevertheless, a quick perusal of a rare commodities list tells me they may be highly profitable, but their cost - and therefore the profit per ton - is no different from standard commodities when these sorts of jobs come up on the Bulletin Board. Here's a representative sample: Lavian Brandy (Max:7, Supply: 4t-7t, 3,543 Cr); Orrerian Vicious Brew (Max:16, Supply: 6t-10t, 533 Cr); Leestian Evil Juice (Max:14, Supply: 1t-9t, 462 Cr); Azure Milk (Max:7, Supply: 2t-7t, 4,164 Cr); Uszaian Tree Grub (Max:14, Supply: 3t-11t, 965 Cr); Diso Ma Corn (Max:15, Supply: 1t-10t, 340 Cr.) As you can see, they have set prices and limited quantities - just like the jobs above.

The one question remaining for me to answer is how often these sorts of jobs come up. The Bulletin Board updates every five minutes. But that doesn't mean the Bulletin Board is faster. Just because the board updates doesn't mean you'll get one of these high profit jobs. I've yet to puzzle out their frequency and if there are any other parameters, like a high and unfulfilled demand, which triggers them. On the other side of the equation, I've read that rare items can take up to 15 minutes to reappear. Some in the forums say it's longer. Some say it can be less. I'll say there is an algorithm for everything and I'll just go with the 15 minute consensus. One thing that may get in the way of my research is the supply and demand equation. If you look at the Gidzenko Ring commodity list above, you'll see the supplies of the most profit producing commodities are dismally low. This may force me to move on in search of better routes.

To that end, I continue to upgrade my Cobra Mark III. I've dropped in an A rated Power Distribution system and upgraded my Frame Shift Drive to a C rated system. My current laden jump range is 12.84 light years... and that makes a big difference. There are more upgrades I want to purchase before I move on. I'm still running the E rated Shield Generator. I've a bit over a megawatt of power left to distribute, so upgrading the Shield Generator won't be an issue when I have the credits.

And as a final note, I present a comparison between last week and this week's balance sheet. It shows an overall increase in net value of about a third across the board in one-third of my previous play time (I am not including my 10 vacation days.) I can assure you my weekly play time hasn't increased. I'm just starting to find my stride is all. Cheers!

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Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.