I spent most of the day circling around the Cubeo system and its neighbours, combining up REP+ jobs for Imperial factions.
I started the day in my Beluga as I'd intended to run REP missions but as I started to combine missions to get multiple drops at destination starports, I found myself dumping passenger cabins for more cargo holds and before I knew it I was running cargo in the Beluga.
This held me back a little even with cargo capacity up to 295, and suitable rank-up missions kept passing me by as I had no combat ability, largo space or was limited by landing pad size.
Because I was amassing REP so fast, I wasn't able to see how missions were affecting gains; my bar was constantly at 100% after rankup.
After taking on the mission for Squire and closing off items on the board with little time remaining, I took a break to have a think about whether to change tactics.
I vaguely considered buying a small ship to deal with the issues and decided that this wasn't feasible; the Beluga does actually have a pretty decent cargo capacity. Removing the shield takes it from 295 to 370, and standing & fighting wasn't an option anyway.
So I considered whether to swap to a Python to allow me more variety in missions, or to continue in the Beluga.
I decided to continue in the Beluga and continue to operate a "run away" policy. Maybe further down the line I'll consider uprating it for weapons and better defence.
After 10-20 more missions, I'd located some more D-rated modules on the journey and fitted Collector Limpets, so had the ship running at a comfortable 30ly jump range, was able to complete a Salvage mission for the Imperial Navy, and ranked further up to Squire. Again I was already at 100% towards the next level, so I logged and flipped the board to try and get a rank up mission. Sadly after 20 minutes everything seemed static so I moved on to my next trading outpost, Tange Vision at Pangilagara.
I managed to obtain a mission there to level me to Knight, taking Reactive Armour to Beker. Suspecting attack due to my already-brimming hold, I upgraded the Beluga with 5 x 0A Shield Boosters.
This caused some power issues but I have the Overcharged Power Plant mod pinned for just such occasions so a little tweaking had her back from 108% to 89.7% again at Level 2.
Onwards to Beker and I ranked up to Knight. Finally not at 100%, I'm 23% on the way to the next rank so I can now get a handle on how to balance REP and mission rewards. I had 5-6 deliveries bundled up for 2 destinations so the next step was to collect the remaining goods and then drop off the items, noting the increase to rank based off REP.
Frustratingly, Bradshaw Works at Beker sold several items I required but inventory space was already limited. So I took some return missions to reduce the blow of collecting these later.
3 NPC interdictions on my route to Mbegua's Cummings Vision and I submitted to 1, got caught on 1, and survived both well with the shield boosters, the second I only had 1 ring when I got naptured.
I'd installed Chaff in the initial build but didn't get a chance to deploy it due to having it duplicated in its Fire Group. So survivability seems to be improving, and I vowed to put on MilSpec armour at the minimum on my next stop, Cummings Vision.
At this stop I monitored my REP drops from Knight 23%:
REP+4 28% REP+4 33% REP+2 36%
So approximately 1.3% from each point of REP.
As I had about 75m left over, I dumped a few million into REP missions and got my Knight rank up to 40%, picking up some Cobalt for a drop further down the line.
I didn't have all the goods in hand for my next drop of 7 missions at Gunter Port with around 250 tons of mixed goods, so I planned the buying stints next, with a view to also picking up some 7D thrusters which weren't available at Cummings - although I upgraded the Beluga to Reinforced Alloy bulkheads. Max jump range is still 39ly so not too heavy a price to pay.
So I found a system selling both the Wine I needed and 7D Thrusters, in AislingSpace, and plotted a course for Cubeo.
Unfortunately I then realized I'd miscalculated and bought goods destined for another station. So I took the risk of shelving the shields and increasing cargo capacity, and picked up the last 2 sets of items I needed for the HIP 5623 delivery; Liquor and Mineral Extractors.
Sadly they sold out while I was planning this, so I put the shields back on and went to find them both at another system; luckily both were available in Cubeo, so I headed to Adelman Station.
I was then able to drop the shields for cargo capacity and fill up for my next delivery.
Heart in mouth, I was ready to take 7 loads and 3 bundles of data to Gunter Station without shields.
This load suffered from an interdiction which I thankfully escaped; I then reapplied the shields. It was at this point I noticed the ship was now exhibiting the well-known overheating issues many others have reported with its full load of Shield Boosters and the overcharged power plant.
I'd need to deal with this later, as I was running out of time on my last two drops: Chelomy Orbital and Tange Vision (where a tenacious pirate is waiting). I had to visit Tange to get the goods for Chelomy, frustratingly; but evaded the pirate and made the Chelomy Drop of another 6 loads, taking my Knight rank up to 70%.
I'd noted at this stage that REP+++++ missions were largely massacres. Thinking this might be good practice, I shipped my Fer de Lance to Shen Orbital to switch up to some of these instead.
Finished up with my last delivery of 300 tonnes of varying goods to Tange, where the pirate was waiting and successfully avoided.
10 points more to REP took me to 80% on the journey from Knight to Lord.
I took a break to consider whether to just shelve or sell the Beluga as a costly exercise - with outfitting and rebuys as I got the hand of it, plus outfitting the passenger Python "Pythenger Thip" I am down from 100m to barely 10m now.
Its definitely time to move onto something else.
Next session I may:
Decided to start keeping a logbook in the spirit of getting the most out of this game. I've lost interest in most other gaming these days but something about the complexity and vastness of Elite, coupled with nostalgia from having loved the BBC version and missed everything in between, captivates me.
I don't know if anybody will ever read this but I decided to start it with a summary of my achievements so far:
I was suddenly able to do 7.5m trade runs, which allowed me to start outfitting my T9. I was avoiding interdictions and learning to escape if I had been. Slowly I built the T9 into a real beast, capable of fighting off most pirates below Master. I still really wanted to get into combat and bought a FDL, with the goal to engineer it in the background.
So as of June 2019 I'm all synced up with Inara and EDSM, the Fatherhood are doing well in BGS and trade rank and I'm proud to have played a decent part in both goals.
My game goals are now as follows; I know this will take a long time but I'm enjoying having a plan and chipping away at it.
Once these goals are accomplished I'm not sure what further the game will offer. I look forward to finding out. I'm sure there will be more updates and content to come and expect these goals to take a year or two.