Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fingerbob's guide to Elite Dangerous Trading, Part Four

Hi! Welcome to the fourth  fifth post in my short series on trading in Elite Dangerous. This time out, I'm going to dig into the bigger ships a bit. The next post will be about finding the best trade routes - I was going to cover them both in one go but they deserve their own focus.

Bigger ships, more money

If you've been following along at home, I'd expect you've probably ground out a few normal trade routes, got the basics down, and (hopefully) tried your hand at some rare trading. If you're still hauling around semiconductors in a Cobra or a Type 6, then might I strongly suggest you read the post about rare trading and give the Lave / Witchhaul route a couple of runs - I'm confident that your income will be massively higher and you'll see a lot more of the galaxy than you've seen to this point.

Once you've got a Cobra, you can make over 1 Million credits an hour. Running the same route in a Type 6, with a little luck can get you close to 1.5 million an hour. I'll be giving some details in another post of a more optimal route in the Type 6 which lets you run with a mostly full hold and gets close to 2 million an hour without much hanging around.

At some point though, you'll start tiring of grinding the credits on someone else's route and you'll get the lust for a larger ship. After all, even at 2 million an hour you're looking at a lot of rare runs to get that Anaconda.

How can you speed it up? Rares don't really scale terribly well because of the caps on items. Even if you get incredibly lucky and get full allocations every time you dock, there's still a maximum return just because of the sheer amount of travel involved.

This is the point you'll likely look at upgrading your ship and cargo space and head out to find a lucrative short haul route. Let's take a look at what you could be flying.

(Please note, as of 2016 this is nearly a year out of date now! There's more ship choice and the game has changed pretty radically since I originally wrote this post.)


Lakon Type 7

A measly 17.5 Million credits will buy you a Type 7. This is the obvious upgrade from a Type 6. It's slower, uglier and fully upgraded can reach around 17LY when full of cargo, which will be a bank-breaking 216 tons (or 212 if you decide to plump for a docking computer).

The Type 7 is a large class ship - it can only dock on large bays which stops you from being able to use outposts. Bear this in mind when you're working out your routes.

Of course, to run decent trading routes you'll want to pimp it. You're recommended to wait until you've got around 23.5 million before you switch - you'll need around  20 million to get a nearly-top-notch version plus you're looking at another 3.2 million to buy a full cargo hold. If you then want to get the class A FSD that's another 3.5 million upgrade which adds around 3.5LY to your jump range.

Lakon Type 9 Heavy

Once you've got 76.5 million in the bank, you can afford the Lakon Type 9. The Type 9 is currently the ultimate hauler, with space for 532 cargo if you're insane and fly with only cargo bays. Most sane pilots will keep at least a class 5 shield giving you 500 cargo space (496 with a docking computer). On a good route, you can be making a million credits every run. You'll also start seriously impacting the local economy with the huge amount of cargo you move around.

Even larger than the Type 7, you're also constrained to docking only on large bays. Assuming you traded up from a Type 7, you'll be used to that by now.

How much should you keep aside to actually buy it? a round 100 million will be a good start - and add another 10 million to that for the 6A FSD. Here's a 97 million build but you'll need to fill it with cargo too.

Multipurpose ships


If you liked the Cobra, you'll love the Asp. At 6.6 million credits, It's a multi-role ship in the same style as the Cobra - slightly larger, slightly slower, slightly less manouverable. It has an enormous jump range, which means it's the perfect ship to start pushing out into the galaxy - and it's not too shabby at trading either, given that you can push the cargo space to 96 tons while keeping the stock shield. It's tricky to downgrade the shield class in an Asp - the 3A will just about stop you from damaging the hull if you graze a station but not much more. You can use shield boosters to give you a bit more protection.

Why would you buy this as an upgrade to a Type 6? Because it's beautiful and deadly. You can also outfit it for other roles (like taking a sightseeing trip, or mining, or a bit of pirating if you fancy). The Asp is more than capable in every role. It might not pay for itself quickly but you'll love the ride.

Another fantastic multi-role ship. at 57 million credits for shipyard spec, you can push this beauty past 250 tons of cargo space if you want, while retaining decent combat capability. If you are bored of the grind and closing on the "Type 9 or not Type 9" decision, this may be the ship for you.


You've reached the pinnacle of ships, both in cost (at a piffling 147 million with no upgrades) and capability. Of course the Anaconda can trade well (with well over 400 tons of capacity even when combat ready), but once you've bought one, unless you've gotta catch em all, you're likely going to be doing something else other than crashing economies. I've not come anywhere near my Anaconda budget yet. If you have one, try not to crash it!


The Imperial Clipper, at 22 million, is a great cargo hauler - nearly as capacious as the Type 7, but handles better. If you have the reputation, check it out. You'll need the reputation first though!

The Orca, at 48.5 million, looks pretty but it's basically a skybus. Until there's a motive to fly your superconductors in style, you're not going to benefit from picking the Orca above any other large capacity hauler.

The Federal Dropship, at 37 million, isn't great at anything other than making you feel like Bishop at the end of Aliens (or Ferro at the beginning). Not recommended for cargo hauling.

None of the other ships will gracefully carry more than a Type 6. That's not to say they're not fantastic - just that you'll be better doing something else than hauling eggs in them.

If you're looking for more details on the ships and recommended loadouts, then you should take a look at Broncho Saurus' ship progression guide.

Recommended upgrades (and downgrades)

Cargo bays

You want as much cargo space as possible, because that's where your income is coming from. More cargo is more profit. Get the largest bays you can in every slot. You might have trouble buying the larger bays, so you should be looking at High Tech systems. I've seen recommendations for Aulin, Styx and Asellus Primus. 


You might be tempted to reduce your shields where possible to fit in extra cargo bays. As always, you can run a ship with no shields at all - and you might even get away with it, but any large hauler is going to be slow as molasses and hard to dock. You're also going to run the risk of someone else flying into you while docking and you won't have much control over that scenario - I'd recommend always having at least some form of shields to take the brunt. Losing a Type 9 and your 500 tons of cargo is not going to make your evening.

Here's a link to some calculations on shield performance - look up your ship and see whether it's worth downgrading your class while upgrading the rating, often you'll get just as good protection from a lower class A rated shield than you do from the shipyard stock. Feel free to read up on the research if you want.

Power plant

In all the cases I can see, a class A rated power plant in a class one lower than spec is a great upgrade as long as you're looking for good performance and mass. They are definitely more expensive than the equivalent D of the stock class but they outperform in every other aspect (mass, heat rating, maximum power). If you want to get the absolute maximum power, then go for a stock class A.

Fuel costs

Before 10th March, fuel in large ships used to cost much more than smaller ships - but after 11th March all fuel costs have been set to the same value per ton. Bonus!

Now, all you need to worry about is whether to buy it at a station or whether to scoop it. You can work that out based on your scoop performance and your fuel consumption. I'll put some accurate formula here shortly.

Wrapping it up

Look out for the next post where I'm going to go into detail on finding trade routes (both inside and outside the game) and how to make the most profit without succumbing to the grind.

Part five - Commodities, economies and route planning


  1. Fantastic read from start to finish. And i learnt a lot. Thanks for taking the time to post all your guides

  2. I decided to check out trading and thought I'd do a quick google search. This was the first guide I found. Imagine my surprise when I worked out who the author was...

    1. Hope you found it useful, Mr Trowers ;) Let's catch up in a short while!

  3. This needs updated with the new ships and rebalances. For 17 million the federal dropship might not be as bad for trading but should still go for the t7 with that money.

    1. Yup, I need to get some time to play again! Hopefully I'll be able to do some updates to this series shortly.