What You Need
The addition of the Split have added some powerful ships, and the Cobra is the star of this show with a crew capacity of 26 it's the largest M ship crew allowing for plenty of Marines. I also picked a Dragon for my personal M ship, and use it for taking out turrets, engines, shields and then the hull. The build below is the basic, but feel free to customize.
- 1 Dragon- Medium Preset, then change the weapons and crew.
- 36x Thermal disintegrator (have started to use 6 of these, they ignore shields).
- 3 service crew and 3 marines.
- Cost 2.6M.
- 2 x Cobra - Medium Preset.
- Max out remaining crew space with Marines. should be 17 per ship.
- Cost 3.8M each.
This should give you 37 marines you can board with, which is enough for most SCA destroyers. and one gunship. You can give your Cobra pilots some training seminars if you'd like.
Select the 2 Cobra's and right click on your Dragon, assign them to Defend your Dragon to create a fleet. This will keep your ships together during your hunt.
Finding a Target
To preserve reputation and avoid having other ships interfere, we're going to target SCA destroyers. I have commonly found them in Silent Witness, Grand Exchange, & Profit Center Alpha. The SCA vessels only have the SCA tag while they are pirating, but you can identify them as they will have 'plunderer' in their name. For example, in Profit Center Alpha I found a destroyer labelled "TEL plunderer phoenix sentinel". I targetted him, and as soon as we engaged, his tag flipped to "SCA plunderer phoenix sentinel". I didn't lose any rep, and the Teladi military did not interfere.
To help with your search you can:
- Drop satellites around SCA pirate bases and in the area in general.
- Whenever one of your ships is asked to drop cargo, pause go check out the aggressor. If it's a destroyer you'd like to cap pick a vessel you're not controlling(the Dragon or one of the Cobra's) and order it to follow. Even if your sectors away, and it moves out of view, your vessel will continue to follow and eventually catch up.
- Load up some goods on your ship and fly around the sectors until a pirate scans you.
Now that you have your target, you need to fly up nice and close, to within 1km. You need to enter scan mode (shift+2) then, right click on the vessel and select 'scan'. This will give you information on the turrets and crew size which is important for boarding.
Note: Through all of this you will want to pause frequently.
1. Setting the Scene
Before starting the boarding, you will want to position your ship in close to the destroyer so you are in it's 'gravity well'(when you are close to it your movement is now tied to the ship, if it accelerates, turns or slows so do you). You will also want to pick a spot where you out of view for most of the turrets(select the ship, and hit 'home' to cycle through the turrets, engines and then shields. I love the Teladi phoenixes for this, their three large tail fins are perfect for hiding between. They also house the L turret, allowing you to take one out rapidly before they shoot you. From this safe place you will be targeting and eliminating turrets during the boarding phase. You will want to eliminate turrets in this order tracking turrets(any size), Large turrets, M turrets.
With your ship safely tucked against the destroyer, and your turret targets sorted it's time to start boarding. Right click the destroyer, and select board. It should automatically have your dragon + 2 subordinates available(at top left box). if not, then don't try yet. Wait for your Cobra's to get closer.
- Switch the 'target engine' to 'target turrets'.
- Add as many marines as you can, with higher experienced ones first.
- Stage 1 should be set to weak - you will need to eliminate most turrets before the board pods will launch.
- Stage 2 - I usually leave this on strong - you will need to bring the hull down to 80% before they attempt to breach.
- Stage 3 - Combat - check the number of marines vs. the enemy crew and marines. It will also indicate your likelihood of winning. If it's not good, leave it for now until you can get another Cobra. Go find a softer target.
- If it all looks good, click confirm.
3. Engaging the Enemy
Your Cobra's will now start to engage the destroyer. They might damage the turrets a little, but are mostly useless in this role. You should have your Cobra's two weapon types set to different hot keys(ie. 1 - all, 2 - TD's, 3- plasma). The plasma's do a tonne of damage but have a long cool down, so you will always open up with all your weapons, and immediately switch to just your Thermals. If the target is almost dead you can fire two volleys with your plasma's but this will overheat them which is a very long cool down, only do it if your safe from attacks.
- Pause the game.
- Use 'home' key to cycle through the turrets. Select your next target based off proximity and threat level.
- Unpause, fly or orient towards target (use WASD key, and a litle 'x' or 'z' as needed. hit 'backspace' to stop in place).
- Wait for targetting reticle to align on target and then fire. turn off plasma weapons and contrinue firing with Tau's until you can use plasma's again or target is destroyed.
- If completely safe from turrets, wait for your weapons to cooldown, and for shields to recover if needed.
- Pause the game, and repeat from step 2 until all turrets are eliminated.
Turrets will slowly repair, so intermittently throughout the battle, pause and use the 'home' key to check for turrets.
- If the turrets are all gone, your boarding pods should have launched.
- The destroyer has full engines, so it's unlikely your pods can catch up. Start targetting and destroying engines one at a time until your pods can catch up to the vessel. If you completely destroy them all, it will take a while to repair before you can fly your new destroyer to a shipyard.
- Once your pods can catch up, time to address the Hull.
Damaging the Hull
- Pause the game.
- Use 'End' key to cycle through the shields.
- There will be several L shields protecting the ship. Eliminating these will allow you to damage the hull to 80%. You can ignore the M shields.
- Systematically eliminate all L shields on the vessel.
- Don't forget to check for repaired turrets.
- When the L shields are destroyed just start firing into the ship to damage the hull. Use both weapons but don't let them overheat. When you get the hull to 80% you will receive an audio confirmation that they will begin to breach the hull.
Waiting During Combat
- Your marines will now fight their way through the ship. You can check on their progress by right clicking the ship, and selecting 'board' again.
- Keep an eye out for turrets that repair.
- The ship might also start dropping laser turrets, target and destroy these. Use pause if you need to prioritize targets or get your Cobra's to help.
- Eventually either all your marines or the enemy crew will be dead. Hopefully the latter and the ship will switch to your control.
Dealing with Your New Ship
You now have a banged up destroyer full of marines and no captain. You could just transfer your marines off, but the vessel is worth a lot more if you strip it down and then sell it.
- Right, click on your new ship. select 'information', select the 'crew' tab at the top. On this page there should be a button to promote the best pilot to be captain. Select that.
- Now order your vessel to the nearest Shipyard or Equipment Dock, you will have them 'upgrade/repair' their. Select the 'minimal -preset' and add one service crew member.
- When the upgrade is complete, promote the service crew member to captain.
- From property tab of the map, select your new vessel, and then right click on a Cobra, and transfer as many marines as you can.. repeat for the second Cobra, and your Dragon if needed.
- After the crew transfer is complete
- Replace any lost marines at the Wharf or Equipment Dock for your M vessels. Select your new L ship, right click on a shipyard and sell. All told I usually get 10-15M, so it pays for itself with one capture.. and now you have more experienced marines and can start investing in other areas.