A Commander’s Year: 3303

Another year passes and it’s been a pretty good one... well for me at least! Consolidation is probably the best word to sum up the year with a number aims being met and even slightly surpassed. With the pilot federation ranks completed in 3302, the main focus for the year fell to two main goals — earning credits and finishing off the navy ranks progression. The credits aim was simply to become a little more secure with cash and have less of the hand to mouth existence of the last couple of years. Now with a reasonable slush fund in place, it’s just a matter of careful spending and keeping the pot topped up. The navy ranks part was purely about getting to the top ranks in the Imperial and federal navies. Mission runs enabled a gradual climb from Duke (a rank i’d held for well over a year!) and Rear Admiral (achieved to get the Corvette) but it was the donation missions that i found really made the difference. How much i handed over is anyone’s guess but it certainly sped up the process of ranking up. What exactly is to be gained from the ‘King’ and ‘Admiral’ ranks remains to be seen.

Moving station in late 3302 from Shinrarta Dezhra to a new home in Assellus Primus paid off nicely and i’m pleased with my current home station. The system remains in a good location for moving around the galaxy and also is close to many of the engineers. It remains a safe system with a well established economy that is busy enough with pilots so that a CMDR doesn’t feel too alone in space. Beagle 2 Landing station continues to serve as the main base but in 3304 will share with that role with Irkutsk in the Alioth System which has been used more over the last six months. 3304 looks as though it’s finally the year the Alliance will come to the fore as a true political power, possibly even challenging the dominance of the Federation and Empire. I certainly hope so. The Alliance ships (just images so far but two great designs — the Chieftain and Krait seem very popular) are due to arrive soon and indicates a long overdue rise in fortunes for the quiet political giant.

January 3303 started slowly but built up to become quite lucrative with the long range missions paying very well indeed. Missions have really taken over from the trading as a ways of making money this year. Even the passenger missions can be rewarding though i prefer the cargo runs because they are less ‘demanding’ than moving people. Finding a lucrative trade route is not easy — the markets change so quickly — and missions can provide a good return, if you know where to look. The boost in cash helped me purchase my second Anaconda that was fitted out for long range jumps — light and fast. Much of the first couple of months was spent running the long range mission routes or running mission around Eravate. This first stage of boosting the bank account ended by the spring when many of the long range mission runs finally dried up. Time to return to the regular source of income, mission running around Eravate. April, however, would bring an major event that divided commander opinion and would test the various CMDR groups located across the galaxy to the maximum. Salome.

The Salome event in late April will be remembered for a long time. It involved a CMDR called Salome making a dash to safety with important highly secret data she aimed to release to the galaxy. It mobilised a great number of CMDRs who either wanted to protect or eliminate — largely depending on which power they favoured — but pretty much polarised CMDR opinion. I decided not to leave the safety of the hanger (some winged up CMDR groups decided on a no questions asked shoot to kill policy) and watched the various feeds from CMDR groups located along her suspected route. Many were there to provide escort but never saw the elusive Salome due to poor intelligence regarding her route and location. The event brought out the good and bad with some CMDR groups working together and others just trying to control systems using a stupid shoot to kill policy on ANY armed ship they came across. The event didn’t feel that welcoming to the ordinary commander though. In the end Salome ended up being killed by an infamous killer CMDR just six jumps from safety. Salome’s death was probably inevitable but that it happened at the hands of such a notorious CMDR soured the event for many.

The Summer months saw more credit raising via missions and an interesting trip out to scan the Guardian ruins. This involved around a week of work and resulted in 101 million credit payout — slightly lower than i’d thought as the bonus payment had been reduced. Sadly there had been no word of this on Galnet! Research before the trip was essential and there were plenty of information out there to assist with finding and scanning the tablets. It was an enjoyable and atmospheric experience and made me wonder what the Guardians will provide in future. Do we still have things to find out in the black? Weapons using Guardian technology are rumoured to be on the way and could help swing the tide of battle against the Thargoids. Hopefully it will not just be in the weapons department that we see guardian tech making an appearance. What more the Guardians have to offer is anyone’s guess. Are they the key to fighting and beating the Thargoid threat? They just might be.

The later part of the summer was focused around completing community goals as well as looking at my ship deployments. Many dated back to former CG events or trading runs that were out of date or no longer viable. A handful of systems had a special emotional attachment to them having been important as i progress as a Commander. A good example was the Maridal system that had a lot of memories but was just no longer relevant at this time. During my first year as a Commander, Maridal acted as a great system to trade to and from in my trusty Asp. Over the last year i realised that it no longer being used and needed to go. Time to pack up and move on. It wasn’t the only station to lose out in the reshuffle but it was one of the oldest. While some stations lost out, other gained like Alioth which has seen an increase in my ships stored there and will probably share home base duties during 3304. Overall my ship deployment is much better now in the Federation and Alliance systems but i’ll have to make a few more small changes during 3004 in the Empire.

3303 has been the year of the Thargoid. January 3303 saw the first appearance of the enigmatic Thargoids whose ships would immobilise a ship, scan and then fly off. Over the year, the ships have become bigger and the behaviour has become increasingly more confident and aggressive. The exact nature of the recent attacks on stations and mega ships is still open to speculation. Is Aegis just the target or is the bubble itself in the Thargoid sights? So far the attacks seem to be localised and largely Aegis targeted but 3304 could be the year that sees the bubble, or at least the edge of the bubble, finally come under attack. Personally i’m still unsure about the intent of the Thargoids. Hopefully things will start to become clearer over 3304 but a large attack may not come just yet. This conflict will have no easy solutions and the potential to last years. What does concern me is the speed at which some Commanders want to start a war even though we have only seen the small glimpse of the Thargoid threat and no real idea of what they intend to do.

So what will the Thargoids next move be? Personally i believe that Colonia could be the next area that comes under attack in the coming weeks and months. Attacking the edges of our space colonisation is where we are most venerable. It greatly depends on what the Thargoids want to achieve and the resources at their disposal. Is the Thargoid aim retribution against Aegis, a containment of humanity within the bubble or the worst scenario of all — the elimination of humanity itself? Maybe 3304 will be the year we find out! I do expect to see larger Thargoid ships — even a mothership maybe — make an appearance that will create further problems combating them. The new Type 10 is a start but new ship designs need to arrive quickly to keep pace with the technical dominance that favours the Thargoids. Currently we are keeping up with the pace but the initiative lies with our potential alien enemy. Aegis, while helping with weapon development, have a very shadowy past that may come back to haunt us. I trust them about as far as i trust the Thargoids.

The final months of 3303 were largely about mission runs, opening up new engineers and dealing with Thargoid station attacks. Sadly I do expect to be involved in more missions regarding the evacuation of refugees from stations and maybe even ground facilities in 3304. Passenger modules have been stored, ready to be put onto a ship at short notice in case of more attacks that are pretty much inevitable. So far i haven’t tried to take down a Thargoid vessel but it may just be a matter of time before i have to depending on how close they get to penetrating the bubble. Currently a couple of ships have been modified for anti -Thargoid operations — a Type 10 and an Anaconda. More ships may be converted to that role if the situation deteriorates over the coming year. It’s a waiting game at the moment, but I think we’ll be hearing from them again quite soon. 3303 has been rather slow for events reaching a climax so my hope for 3304 is that the pace picks up and that we start to get some answers to what the Thargoids have planned for us — even if that is annihilation. Aegis also have some questions that need answering!

Looking forward to 3304, the first task i have is replenishing the material stocks used up engineering the Type 10 and Anaconda. Most of the material i need will come from signal sources so may take some time to gather together — a job for the Cobra i think. Not always the easiest of tasks when it come to hunting down a few elusive components. It’ll also be good to get materials ready for the arrival of the Alliance ships. Exploration is something i’d like to return later in the year after over a year away from the peace and quiet of deep space. It greatly depends on what the situation is like within the bubble over the next year.

A small dilemma i also have concerns MacKenzie Relay in the Ciemeiss system which has been my home port in Empire territory for the last couple of years. Recent changes to the station economy have meant its lost some of its usefulness as a hub close the Achenar. I’m still weighing up the options and deciding on where to locate to a new system close by. I may just decide to stay if i can’t find a location i like.

So that has been my 3303. Plenty to look forward to in 3304.

We all have our own path to follow and story to tell — it’s one of the strengths of Elite Dangerous. I’m not sure what 3304 holds for me. I’ll have to see where the solar winds take me. Hopefully there will be more adventures over the coming year that i can write about here.

As for all the commanders out there, I have certainly enjoyed hearing about your adventures via Twitter, Youtube, etc. If you see me out there in the galaxy… say hello!

Fly safe Cmdrs :)

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