02 March 2016

Fine-tuning the Robigo run

The Asp Explorer-class smuggling vessel Brabant Ascot 
A much-travelled route in Elite Dangerous is the path from the civilised bubble out around 400 light years to the isolated outpost at Robigo Mines, owned by the mysterious CDE Corporation. Being so far from the rest of humanity, there's obviously demand for the usual accoutrements of modern life, but the main reason most commanders venture out to this particular base is for the lucrative Shadow Delivery contracts that exist, bringing 'certain wares' from Robigo to select systems back in the civilised worlds. The fact that those wares are either stolen or involve contraband human cargo - for Robigo appears to be an entrepot for fenced bullion and slaves - matters little to the credit-hungry commanders who flock to the crowded facility. The only catch: ships carrying the illicit cargo must not be scanned at any point before delivering their ill-gotten cargoes.

Most commanders outfit a Lakon Asp Explorer for the smuggling run, suited as it is to being stripped down for speed both through witchspace and when on the run from pirates and the law. Only the fastest pilots can hope to avoid being scanned and claim the highest delivery contracts - often several million credits per consignment.

My first three attempts at the Robigo Run have fine-tuned my approach to smuggling, which is quite necessary given my relative ineptitude as a pilot. With no weapons and stripped down for speed, the Asp can outrun nearly every other ship in the 'verse, but the trick is avoiding being scanned while entering patrolled main stations. A Docking Computer can really help by permitting the fastest possible approach to the station mailslot, with the computer taking over for the crash-avoiding deceleration to the landing pad. The rewards for a successful return trip can be phenomenal.

The first run in the Brabant Ascot involved stacking around 12 missions from both Open and Solo mode, half of which were Shadow Deliveries (each over MCr1) and half Data Deliveries (usually MCr0.25-0.50 each). My inexperience as a smuggler showed though, because halfway back to civilisation I was pounced by a clutch of Authority Viper interceptors, one of which pinged me with a scan. Missions Failed! Still, after completing the remaining Data Delivery missions I netted a cool profit of MCr5.0 in 82 minutes, a profit rate of MCr3.68 per hour. The main benefit was to my rankings - my trade rating climbed from Broker 74 to 80, my Imperial rank rose from Baron 30 to 35, and my Federation rank climbed a point to Lieutenant 55.

The second run went much more successfully. With only one Shadow Delivery mission failure, and that only due to a mysterious and impossible to achieve 13-minute deadline from Robigo, I delivered every other mission to its correct destination without being scanned. In 97 minutes I earned an enormous MCr18.6 at a rate of MCr11.5 per hour. There was a major rank boost too, as I reached Broker 98, Baron 42 and Lieutenant 60.

In my third and final Robigo run I took mainly Shadow Delivery missions, having decided that the last half hour of a smuggling run shouldn't be spent in boring shuttle runs dropping off paltry data contracts. The run itself proved the usual mix of heart-stopping near misses, pirate and authority interdictions, swift getaways, and in the Federation system of Beldarkri, a near catastrophe when my Asp was nearly stuck in the Johan Station entry mailslot while an authority scan started on me. Luckily I was able to free the ship with a dangerous boost inside the station, which left me with frazzled nerves but a few more ill-earned millions. This time the earnings were slightly lower at MCr17.4 in 66 minutes at a rate of MCr15.85 per hour. Dropping those signal missions proved to be the right move. And my rankings moved to Entrepreneur 5, Baron 54 and Lieutenant 65.

Heady stuff. But now I think it's time to move to the other side of the law and pay back my debt to society. I see the Czerny Terminal shipyard in Lalande 2450 has a nice new Federal Assault Ship with my name on it for a spot of pirate hunting!
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