Elite Dangerous Engineers Guide by LocNor
Greetings! So, some folks that loved my mining guide, and a few have asked that I do one on Engineers. Let’s dive in and answer the question “Do I NEED Engineers?” (no, but you REALLY want them)
Note there will probably be changes to this as people get involved
First things first… let’s get organized and prepared.
Time to decide how you want to go about engineering.
- Option 1 (laser focus): You could fly your chosen ship around and find the blueprints you like and work toward them.
- Option 2 (shotgun approach): You could build an engineer runner and dedicate a relatively small amount of time to collecting materials and unlocking new engineers. Get them as high as you want, THEN build the ship of your dreams. This on the surface may sound like a grind but it’s actually one of the most diverse play options available.
Both are legit. Personally, I enjoy using a runner and shotgunning as I’m actively stocking for some future modifications while getting a chance to swap what I’m doing at any given time.
If you choose to focus on bulk gathering, you will be doing a lot of running around and needing access to a number of different capabilities while gathering your supplies. While you can run around in your favorite Vulture or FDL, if you’re buckling down to do some serious Engineer work you’re going to want a multi-class ship or at least something with a good base jump range and doesn’t fold at the mere sight of light combat. AspX, Python, Courier, DBX, you get the idea. The goal here is to get prepared, when it’s time for the big rolls you can bring your ship of choice.
If you don’t have the resources to have a separate runner ship that’s ok, while I recommend that if you have but one ship that you may want to consider switching to a multi class (if your sole ship isn’t one already), but it’s not required by any means.
The Outfitting Shopping list (for both options):
This is the equipment you need, running or not. A good runner will just equip all of these and just have them available.
Roughly a 3rd of everything you need will need to be collected from open space. Rating doesn’t matter much here as most of the time you’ll be collecting only a handful of materials the back to supercruise. Additionally, collectors have 2 modes of operations, and unlike mining, you will use both.
- Targeting Mode: Here you target a collectible, deploying a collector. The collector will go fetch that item then expire.
- Hunt Mode: Here you deploy a collect without targeting a collectible. In this mode it will sit just below your ship and wait to detect something in range to collect. Once it sees something it will go fetch it without any interaction or control from you.
Both modes have their uses. Hunt mode is perfect for dropping into an Unknown Signal Source (USS) and finding a bunch of mats there for the taking. Target mode is good for when you drop into a USS and it’s a field of illegal biowaste and there is a single worthy chemical manipulator in the mix. Since hunt mode will collect all that bio waste and eventually snag the manipulator, you can instead, target the manipulator, launch a collector, have it expire once the job is done, and you are on your way.
Planetary Vehicle Bay:
Either is fine. For those that aren’t familiar with the options, one weighs more, and the other uses more power. The lighter one is almost always the right choice. Don’t forget to also buy a SRV for it.
Higher the grade the more power it consumes and the farther it scans. If you are building a runner any will do. If you are working on something specific, buy the best one you can power, get the job done, and sell it back.
Discovery and Surface (optional) Scanners:
Discovery is recommended, Surface is optional. As of last patch made surface scanning show the materials, making mining a lot less labor intensive.
This is straightforward, however as a tip, get in the habit of storing all your ships with at least a little cargo space. Nothing more frustrating than to finally get all the mats for a build and go to get your favorite ship and, boom, can’t swap ships because no cargo space.
Shopping done? If so and your building a runner, it might look like this (sample only): AspX
Let’s move on.
How do engineers work?
Ok so you’re equipped for working with the Engineers. So let’s briefly talk about what to expect while working with them.
How to meet them:
Each engineer requires a few things.
- Hear about them: Some you will hear about just by playing, most require another engineer to tell you about them which you can unlock by leveling the previous engineer to roughly Grade 3.5 (G3.5).
- Requirements: Each has their own requirement before they will even talk with you, these are usually personal achievements like having traveled 5k from the start, or mined 500 ores.
- Toll: Pay some sort of toll. This might be rare goods, it might be rep with a certain faction.
All this is documented in many places but I recommend Inara.
In order to gain better ranks you need to advance your progress with each engineer. There are are couple ways this can be done.
- Make stuff: The primary and fastest method is to simply use their services, build stuff. For every “at level” roll you make you get roughly 33% meaning it takes 3 “at level” rolls to get to the next level. For every level away, it gives a sharp decrease in progress. It was once 1/4th the progress you would have made “at level” (so a G3 build at G3 is 33%, a G2 would be 1/4 of 33% or ~8%) but I’ve seen some weird behavior with it so there may be another mechanic at play (diminishing returns on a single recipe, etc).
- “Buy” progress: The second way is that some have the ability to turn in discovery data, bounties, or trade. This way can be useful if you happen to have 2mil in cartographic data hanging around. Either way, this method give seriously diminishing returns after G3 and it not terribly efficient given how easy blueprints are.
Actually building something.
Fortunately this is pretty straight forward, pick what you want, have the materials, roll and see. Rerolls count towards progress. As the builds get into the higher grades, they require more and more rare materials.
Note: Certain recipes spawn additional adjustments to the build. That can be an experimental weapon effect or an adjustment to a stat not even present on the build (Mass for example, may be adjusted at random in a build even though it wasn’t on the blueprint.) As for, what each stat does or means in each recipe is too large a topic for this guide.
- For high value rolls, consider any other ships you might own before re-rolling. Eg. Getting a mediocre G5 FSD roll on your AspX can be re-rolled or swapped into you Python and rolled again, fresh.
These apply to weapons only and can fundamentally change the way the weapon works. They are normally a percentage chance, although you can force an effect by sacrificing 2 grades with the engineer.
- Given the time investment of getting to G5, I highly recommend that you not use this option till blueprint roll itself is rather appealing. Nothing like getting that favored effect on a sub par roll and having to work your way back up to G5 to try again.
Where to start?
Farseer or Martuuk
Now that you are all set for starting your engineering and you have a rough idea of what that entails, time to get down to business. I won’t cover the pros and cons of each engineer. However I WILL recommend heavily that the first thing you do is get cozy with either of the two ladies of FSD. Even the most basic FSD range upgrade will dramatically increase your quality of life.
Your target goal is G4 or (Grade 4) for a couple reasons.
- First, G4 is about as good as G5 and can often times be better. G5 is for rolling the dice on a “max”.
- Second after roughly G3.5 you’ll get some more engineer invites.
Who you pick is up to you. Farseer has a better selection of blueprints but Martuuk gets you access to other useful (but ultimately redundant) engineers faster (though you need to pass through the deeply subpar, Qwent, to get to Palin (the best drives)).
Now we get to the meat of it. Blueprint requirements come in 3 types, each with their own inventory. Some are very common and some require a dark ritual and a goat. Overall, again, I would recommend Inara. which compiles a work from a number of community members and gives you the best shot at understanding where to find each.
These are easy. They are cargo, stored in, well, cargo.
How to acquire: All can be earned in missions. The vast majority of these can be bought from stations. Some can only be earned in missions.
Notes: Due to the fact that once you have cargo every pirate is emailed your current location, I recommend waiting to get these until you are working on something specific. The one exception is those mission only ones. Those are some times a tremendous pain to track down in the moment.
Those mission only ones are: Neofabric Insulation, Micro-Weave Cooling Hoses, Articulation Motors, Modular Terminals, Nanobreakers, Telemetry Suite
- The only real tip I can offer here is the advantage of joining a player group for commodities. Everything about commodities benefits from having aligned players. From something as simple as scoping out stations for specific types to player trading. Some larger groups have a shared account that acts as a bank which makes these super easy.
- Raw (anything that belongs on a periodic table)
- Manufactured (anything not raw)
These are stores under the “Materials” section of your inventory. You do not lose these on death.
How to acquire: Mining (surface or ring), Missions in small quantities.
- Ring Mining: Ring mining tips can be found in my mining guide.
- Surface Mining: This has recently become a lot easier. If you detail scan a landable body, the materials you can find on said body can be seen in the system map. Alternatively you can just use EDDB Bodies. Once you locate your desired material, land on the planet and break out the SRV. Here you use the SRV wave scanner (generally speaking, signals on the lower half are materials, upper half are human made). The best signal, that for metallic meteorite, is two bars at the bottom that DOESN’T sound like a Geiger counter. Metallics are your best bet for the rarer materials. Once you stock up on the more common stuff, metallics will be your sole target.
- Expand your radar (default on PC is pgup/pgdown), rocks don’t register any farther on the radar but you have a much better view of the surrounding terrain.
- As of last patch, the rarer materials net you 3 mats per scooped rock.
- Focus on noticing the sounds of each type of rock, sound is a far better tool for this than the scanner itself.
- Once you switch to just looking for rare mats, I’ve found that my metallic consumption rate increased dramatically by landing on a low grav plain, preferably in an area that it slightly differently colored than the rest of the world, and BOOKING it in a straight line, flying most of the way. By this time you’re ears should be tuned to what a metallic signal sounds like and you can pick out the sound out of any background noise, and long before the wave signal is of use. The idea here is that you are covering a lot more ground than you would be in more difficult terrain. Your mileage may vary.
These are more diverse in acquisition than the raw materials.
How to acquire: Missions, Combat (drops on ship destruction), Unknown Signals
This is pretty self explanatory. Defeat a ship, collect the bits with your collector or scooping. There is compelling evidence that the type of ship, the state of the system, and the size of the ship are all factors in what drops. Inara, is a solid referance of the sum total of player knowledge to date.
Notes: Nearly all combat situations work here. Interdictions, Czs, USS (Weapons fired, etc), bounty hunting, etc. The one that doesn’t is surface combat, for whatever reason destroying a ship on the planet surface does not seem to spawn anything.
- Anarchy systems are your friends here. If you are interdicting or dropping into a Seeking Weapons for loads of “free” T9 level drops, doing it in anarchy systems has very little if any consequences.
- The CZ wing method. This is great for filling up on some solid mid-level mats. In a wing, head to a CZ, one or more declare and do what you do in a CZ. The others do not declare and deploy collector limpets into hunt mode and just follow them around for GOBS of risk free collecting.
Unknown Signal Sources (USS):
This is a large bulk of your time in collecting materials. Fly around, wait for one to pop up, and scan it. You are primarily looking for anything with the word “Emissions.” There are some new types as well (High security, combat aftermath, etc.)
Notes: These are occasionally ambushes, be ready to run/fight. Some of these have an item called “data beacon” these aren’t for collecting they are for scanning (which we’ll cover in the next section).
- Location matters, again, Inara.
- Learn to use the contact menu on the left in conjunction with the two different collector modes to ensure you aren’t picking up a lot of garbage.
Here we get to the more complex collectibles in that they require different actions to collect. Here I tried to break it down into the actions needed and what you can expect from said actions. These are stored in the “Data” section of your inventory and are also not lost on death.
Unknown Signal Sources:
Expect to find: A grab bag of random types of data, including “firmwares.”
Much like for materials you are looking for “Emission” USSs and finding “data beacons” to scan.
Expect to find: Anything with the words “data”, “shield”, or “scan”
This require nearly no effort, just get into the habit of targeting as scanning ships passively. That’s all it takes. In supercruise, at a station, bounty hunting, etc. It’s literally just targeting and aiming your ship at the target till the scan completes. If you get into this habit while doing other things, you will never need to do this intentionally.
Expect to find: Anything with the words “wake”, “FSD”
Whichever approach you are using this is best done in bulk at a high traffic port. Surface ports are especially good here. Just sit 9k or so off the port and scan all the wakes with your wake scanner. A 30min run has a decent chance of getting enough of most if not all needs for a few rolls for all but the highest grade blueprints.
Expect to find: Firmware (all types), grab bag of other stuff
Surface bases. Ok, these take a little practice but they are quite fun and engaging once you get them down. The goal here is to clear out a base of its defenses then play a mini-game of “scan the data points before time runs out”. Highly recommended that you get comfortable with your SRV controls before attempting these.
Base Assaults 101: Lets cover what a “base” is. These are surface installations that are not “landable” and are categorized in two ways, size(+,++,+++) and security (high, medium, low).
- Size is the largest factor for how many data resources you will receive and the number of data points you need to scan, + is the smallest, +++ is the largest.
- Security is the largest factor for the type/rarity of data resources you will receive and the overall difficulty of the assault and scan mini game. Low is almost a walkin closet of data. High can be an all out war that is difficult to do solo, up to and including on station security vipers.
Thus a +Low can be scouted and cleaned out without a shot, and a +++High could involve a multi pronged wing attack.
When selecting a base to attack note the size/security and your own interest and needs. If you are solo you CAN solo every +++High out there, but until you get really good at these it’ll often just be a trip to the nearest station for a new SRV. Second thing to note is who owns the base. Assaulting a base will make you wanted. If you are doing this in an anarchy system this is less an issue. If not, you want to ensure that it is NOT owned by the controlling faction of the system. This is the difference of becoming locally wanted or wanted in the system with the cops showing up and bounties being issued. DON’T attack bases owned by the controlling faction. All this can be determined from the system map.
Once the defenses are down you are looking for a few things.
- The “Money beam.” If you see a green beam shooting into the sky, go scan that first. This has nothing to do with engineers and everything to do with it being worth 500k-1mil at any station.
- You are looking for orange “data points.” My advice is to, while clearing out the base, scan one (for those new, this is done in “turret mode” by targeting the data point when close to it, and using your scanner on it. This is normally bound to secondary fire, but you may have to hunt for it in options). This will start the timer and tell you how many the base has. Don’t worry about collecting them now you can try again later. What you are after is knowing how many you are looking for.
- Once you’ve located all of them, plot a route to hit them all efficiently. After scanning the last one, watch the data roll in. Similar to the rare raw materials, many of these mats will now grant you 3 in inventory for every one received.
Final general note: Once you’ve completed a base (data points and money beam) you cannot do it again and must find another. Lastly, get familiar with SRV synthesis. The hull repair one in particular. The repair is instant and you can cheese your way out of sticky situations by liberally repairing yourself mid combat.
Special Note: These are a blast in wings. Some in the air, some on the ground helping each other out. Ship folks can destroy ground targets (over sights only, can’t target anything from a ship) or keep the security ship off the SRVs and the SRVs can take out the larger anti-ship defenses from the inside by destroying generators or scanning certain nodes in the base. Once clear, everyone has their own instance of the data points and money beam, so everyone has to run it but everyone gets paid. In the Prismatic Imperium, we have group events to hits 3-4 at a time (called Pub Crawls). Its great fun.
- DO NOT RAM SENTRIES WITH YOUR SHIP. Fdev is on to your shenanigans and the only faster way to a 33mil cutter rebuy is to open fire inside a station.
- Spend time scoping out the base before starting the assault. Low and Medium security can be largely scouted by SRV (the exclusion zone is MUCH larger for ships). Highs will have a perimeter fence so you’ll be going in blind. Letting them fire first will often give you a few second to get to a better position before the assault starts.
- Get familiar with the more advanced SRV synth recipes. They matter here.
- Base defenses will respawn on a long timer so don’t afk in a base.
- Get in the habit of 4 pips to sys before deploying your srv. If you parked in sight of the base defenses they will open up on your ship. This give you a higher chance of it surviving once you are notified its being attacked. You can normally dismiss it before any real damage is done.
There is a lot to learn and discover with the engineering process and I fully invite you to experiment. Hopefully this guide removes a lot of the mystery of the process and gives you the tools you need to dive in. Know that the recent revamp of the blueprints makes getting involved really easy. Most G1 blueprints require but a single, easy to acquire resource. So give it a try!
I think that’s a wrap. Thank you to all the people who continue to support my guides (and others like it), those that support the community at large in their own way, and especially your kind PMs. This community is great!
Fly safe. o7Other Elite Dangerous Articles
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