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Star Traders: Frontiers Prize Ship Patrol Guide
How to capture five Prize Ships in Ten Years.
SECTION 100 – Setup
110 – INTRODUCTION – Capturing Prize Ships is one of the most difficult – but also most rewarding – activities in Star Traders Frontiers. It requires several important elements:
- A fully upgraded ship designed to avoid enemy attacks and board the enemy.
- A high-level Combat Crew that can make quick work of enemy combatants.
- Military Ranks and Edicts with several friendly factions.
- Specialize Rank 15 Talents that allow for Prize Ship capture.
- Carefully monitoring Conflicts for the right opportunities.
Despite the challenge, Prize Ship capture strategies can be extremely lucrative. Each Prize Ship that you sell can net you a profit of $500K – $1M, meaning that capturing just a few Prize Ships can make you very rich in a short period of time.
120 – THE GOAL – By the start of Year 11 (221.01) capture at least five Prize Ships netting you +$3M in profit.
130 – STARTING TEMPLATE – For the first ~5 Years of the game you are going to follow the ZETTE FAEN FAST START GUIDE that I’ve previously written. This will get you started with a highly effective Combat Ship / Combat Crew and give you access to Max Level Specialist Gear:
Here are the adjustments I recommend to the ZETTE FAEN FAST START GUIDE. This build is for a Crew Combat Military Officer Captain who will serve as a Slot #3 Medic and Pistol-welder:
A – ATTRIBUTES
- Strength = 14
- Quickness = 14 + 16 = 30
- Fortitude = 14 + 16 = 30
- Charisma = 14
- Wisdom = 14 + 16 = 30
- Resilience = 14 + 4 = 18
B – SKILLS
- Doctor +10
- Pistol +5
C – CONTACTS
- #1 – Politician –Diplomatic Missions, Diplomat Recruits, Introductions
- #2 – FDF Commander – Military Missions, Military Officer Recruits, Introductions.
- #3 – Military Commander – Military Missions, Engineer Recruits, Introductions.
- #4 – Prince – Faction Rank, Edicts, Introductions.
- Your goal is to get Faction Rank 5 and Edict Level 1 with as many factions as possible. Therefore, it is advantageous if your starting Prince Contact aligns with a different Faction than your Starting Faction.
D – SHIP – Reach Vindex
E – EXPERIENCE – Military Officer
140 – LAUNCHING THE GAME – Use the following settings when launching your game:
- CHANGE MAP – Use any Map of your choice.
- CHANGE FACTION – For this build I recommend Cadar due to their fantastic faction-specific ship the Sword Cutter and the high likelihood of their recruits learning the Assertive trait which boosts Patrol rewards.
- CHANGE DIFFICULTY – Pick any difficulty of your choice. I typically play on HARD, because it allows for all Unlocks but is a bit more forgiving of minor mistakes than IMPOSSIBLE.
- Click “YES” for MANUALLY ASSIGN TALENTS.
- Skip the Intro if you want.
- Prepare your captain’s appearance however you want.
SECTION 200 – Ship, Crew, & Officers
210 – SHIP – Rather than going with the recommended ship – the Wolf Vector – this build works better with the Cadar-Specific Sword Cutter. The primary reason for the switch is that the Sword Cutter has an incredible 98% Max Craft Evasion while the Wolf Vector only has a 85% Max Craft Evasion. This is a big difference when your goal is to board enemy ships WITHOUT damaging their Hulls or Components. Damaged ships sell for less. Therefore, when going for a Prize Ship capture, your objective is to defeat the enemy crew through boarding battles and talents without firing an Ship Weapons on the target. This strategy requires that your ship have enough +Defense, Command, and Craft Evade to completely avoid all incoming attacks for several turns.
SWORD CUTTER (CADAR SPECIFIC)
- Cost: $485K (before applying discounts)
- Max Officers: 5
- Max Crew: 30
- Base Fuel: 70
- Small Components: 11
- Medium Components: 6
- Large Components: 2
Similar to the Wolf Vector described in the ZETTE FAEN FAST START GUIDE, your early-game upgrades will include:
- 6-7x Defense Pattern Matrix III’s
- Weapon Locker A6
- Any Engine of your choice
220 – CREW – Your Crew after five years will be exactly the same as described in the ZETTE FAEN FAST START GUIDE:
- 5x Crew Dogs
- 5x E-Tech
- 2x Mechanics (can be replaced with high-level Engineers)
- 10x Military Officers
- 2x Navigators
- 5x Pilots
230 – OFFICERS – Your ship will include a Crew Combat Captain, 3x Crew Combat Officers, and 1x Non-Combat Utility Officer:
1x Captain (SLOT 3) – Military Officer (5) / Doctor (5) / Combat Medic (X)
The Captain’s job is to keep everyone alive, inside and outside of battle. In Crew Combat the Captain should rapidly heal allies while de-buffing front-row enemies with Damning Aim. I recommend a hard-hitting Pistol and Heavy Armor.
- Tactical Edge (MO1) – Re-position Combat Crew.
- Damning Aim (MO5) – Pistol Attack.
- Medical Staff (D1) – DOCTOR Skill Save.
- Life Saver (D5) – Live Saving Talent.
- First Aid (CM1) – DOCTOR Skill Save.
- Cleaning Purge (CM1) – Healing Talent.
- Flatline (CM8) – Healing Talent.
- Lifeline (CM8) – Healing Talent.
2x Melee Combat Officers (SLOT 1 & 2) – Soldier (2) / Zealot (15) / Swordsman (X)
Why Rank 2 Soldier on a Melee Build? The answer is simple – with Military Rank 5 in your Starting Faction Calagan Faen offers up Level 18 Soldiers very early in the game. Recruit three of them with good stats and convert two of them to Zealot/Swordsmen. Push Zealot to Rank 15 first, unlocking the Fanatical Court talent to allow for Prize Ship capturing. Then advance Swordsman to Rank 5 to get access to some powerful Melee attacks. Lastly, put an extra point into Soldier for +2 Evasion before dumping all further ranks into Swordsman. Equip them with your best Blades and Heavy Armor.
- Famous Fury (Z1) – INTIMIDATE Skill Save.
- Obsessive Defense (Z5) – Patrolling -> Pirate reward card.
- Fanatical Court (Z15) – Capture a Prize Ship (Pay 60% of Value).
- Rash Courage (Sw1) – Melee Buff.
- Strength of Steel (Sw5) – Healing Talent.
- Flash Fury (Sw5) – Blade Attack.
- Balance Blade (Sw1) – Blade Attack + Buff.
- Sharp Counter (Sw1) – Blade Attack + Counter.
1x Ranged Combat Officer (SLOT 4) – Soldier (X) / Xeno Hunter (8) / Bounty Hunter (5)
Classic back-row Xeno Hunter / Bounty Hunter build. I prefer to equip this build with Standard Armor and a Sniper Rifle for quick killing. Blood Game is a perfect fit for your Boarding Strategy. Unfaltering Ire is great and Irid-Laced Resolve is a must-have against Xeno.
- Irid-Laced Resolve (XH1) – Group ON INIT Buff when fighting Xeno.
- Unfailing Stand (XH5) – Healing Talent.
- Death Haunt (XH8) – Healing Talent.
- Blood Game (BH1) – Boarding Talent.
- Steadfast Aim (BH1) – Rifle Attack.
- Unfaltering Ire (BH5) – Debuff Talent.
1x Utility Officer – <<OTHER>> / Gunner (5) / Pirate (15)
Recruit any high-level officer of your choice and raise them to Rank 15 Pirate to get Murderous Tribute. This is the best (i.e., cheapest) Prize Ship capture talent in the game. Prize Ship capture talents have VERY long cooldowns, so it’s important you have multiple talents available when you start hunting for Prize Ships in the early game. The next step is to put five Ranks into Gunner to add another Boarding Talent and a Patrolling Risk Removal Talent. You can add future Ranks to whatever Job you want.
- Boarding Assault (G1) – Boarding Talent.
- Supremacy of Firepower (G5) – Patrolling -> Remove Risk.
- Corsair’s Eye (P1) – Blockade -> Merchant reward card.
- Blackheart Fraud (P8) – Reduce Bounty Hunter Hostility.
- Murderous Tribute (P15) – Capture a Prize Ship (Pay 30% of Value).
SECTION 300 – How to Capture a Prize Ship
310 – REQUIREMENTS – Capturing a Prize Ship is NOT an easy task. It requires numerous conditions to be met:
- You encounter an enemy ship.
- That ship’s Faction is involved in a Solar War, Trade War, or Spy War.
- The Opposing Faction in the Conflict has a zone in that Quadrant with a Dry Dock (Starport >6).
- You have the appropriate Military Rank or Edict with the Opposing Faction (see below).
- The enemy ship is the appropriate Ship Type based on the type of conflict.
- You defeat the enemy ship in ship combat without destroying it.
- You have enough cash on hand to pay the required fee to capture the ship using a Prize Ship capture talent.
320 – CONFLICT TYPES – Prize Ships can only be captured when two factions are in the middle of a Solar War, a Trade War, or a Spy War. These Conflicts happen randomly throughout the game, so keep a close eye out for when they begin and end. Here are the conditions for each type of War Conflict:
321 – SOLAR WAR
- You can capture Pirates, Zealots, Military Officers, or Bounty Hunters.
- You need Military Rank 5 with the Opposing Faction.
322 – TRADE WAR
- You can capture Pirates, Merchants, or Smugglers.
- You need Military Rank 5 with the Opposing Faction.
323 – SPY WAR
- You can capture Pirates, Spies, or Zealots.
- You need Edict 1 with the Opposing Faction.
330 – MILITARY RANK & EDICTS – To be prepared for any possible Conflict you’ll want to have Military Rank 5 and Edict 1 with as many factions as possible. To do this, you’ll need to court favor with Contacts from different factions. Notably, Prince Contacts offer both Military Rank 5+ and Edict 1+ once you gain Personal and Faction Reputation with them. Here’s the best way to get access to the Contacts that you need:
- STARTING FACTION – This one is easy. Calagan Faen and some of your Starting Contacts will offer you Military Rank and Edicts for your Starting Faction.
- STARTING CONTACT – Hopefully, your #4 Starting Contact – a Prince – spawns under a different faction than your starting faction.
- ARBITER MISSIONS – In the early game the Arbiter will offer you missions to unlock Princes from three factions – Cadar, Moklumnue, and Zenrin. These missions will also earn you Personal and Faction Rep with these Princes, making it easy to purchase Military Rank 5 and Edict 1 from these factions.
- TALENTS – At Rank 8 teach each of your E-Techs the talent Listening Post. Selectively land on planets of a specific faction, triggering the discovery of Contacts from that faction. After a few attempts you’ll come across Contacts who offer Military Rank and Edicts.
SECTION 400 – Perfecting Your Prize Ship Strategy
410 – GETTING STARTED – You’re ready to start you Prize Ship runs. You have a well-prepared Boarding Ship and Combat Crew. You have Military Rank 5 and Edict 1 with several factions. There’s an active War Conflict that includes one of your favored factions. And you have +$1M in the bank, so you have afford to purchase your Prize Ship after combat. What do you do next?
420 – LOCATION – You want to travel to a Quadrant controlled by the Enemy Faction where at least one Zone with Starport >6 is controlled by the Friendly Faction. Ideally, you’d preferred to have a Pirate Fleet rumor taking place in that Quadrant or a Pirate rumor taking place on that Planet as well. Orbit the Friendly Faction Zone and being your Patrolling Runs.
430 – PATROLLING – Encountering the right vessel for Prize Ship capture – of both the right faction and vessel type – ultimately comes down to luck. You want to Patrol as much possible, triggering dozens of ship encounters. Here are some talents that will help turn the odds in your favor:
- 1x Supremacy of Firepower (Gunner Rank 5 / 3 Week Cooldown) – This talent removes a Risk Card while Patrolling. During your Patrolling runs you’ll occasionally see cards that say “Marauding Military Ship” or “Marauding Pirate Ship”. THESE ARE THE BEST CARDS IN THE GAME. If you draw one of these cards, it will guarantee a battle against a ship of the right faction and type for Prize Ship capture. To maximize your chance of drawing these cards, use Supremacy of Firepower to remove a DIFFERENT Risk Card from the hand. That will increase the chance of drawing these great cards from 1-in-5 (20%) to 1-in-4 (25%).
- 2x Obsessive Defense (Zealot Rank 5 / 3 Week Cooldown) – Pirates are great because they are eligible Prize Ship capture during any type of War Conflict. Use the Obsessive Defense talent to convert one Risk Card to a Pirate Reward Card. Unfortunately, even if you draw the Pirate Reward Card it isn’t guaranteed to be the right faction. That said, I still recommend using this talent on cooldown.
- 10x Commanding Sweep (Military Officer Rank 5 / 3 Week Cooldown) – This talent doesn’t help you encounter Prize Ship capture targets. However, it can help you eliminate unwanted Risk Cards while providing a significant boost to your faction rep. It pairs well with a Military Officer Captain, crew with the Assertive Trait, and Militant Patrol talents.
440 – SHIP COMBAT – Avoid Ship Combat until you encounter a ship that is eligible for Prize Ship capture. The key to maximizing your financial returns on captured ships is to leave them undamaged during combat. DO NOT FIRE YOUR WEAPONS ON THE TARGET SHIP. Instead, close distance as quickly as possible and start your boarding runs. Use talents to raise your Ships Defense and improve its Range Change. Use Blood Game and Board Assault to board from Ranges 3 and 2. Watch out for Carriers with Small Craft – you’ll need to defeat them quickly before they deal real damage to your ship.
SECTION 500 – End-Game Ship
510 – CASHING IN – After you capture a ship you can either A) keep it and upgrade it, or B) sell it for profit. Depending on the Ship Model and the Capture Talent that you use, the typical profit is between $500K – $1M. This can add up quickly, funding further upgrades to your ship. Here’s what I recommend for an End-Game Ship designed for boarding and Prize Ship hunting. This ship is nearly impossible to hit with Ship Weapons or Craft, making it unstoppable in Ship Combat!
511 – LARGE COMPONENTS
- Any Engine of your choice
- Fuel-Cargo Hold 5 (De Valtos specific) – $314K
512 – MEDIUM COMPONENTS
- Any Hyperwarp Drive of your choice
- Battle Barracks 4 – $388K
- 2x Tactician’s Annex (Thulun specific) – $284K/each
- 2x Any component of your choice
513 – SMALL COMPONENTS
- Scout-Vanguard Bridge 5 (Steel Song specific) – $1,237K
- 2x C-Tak Interceptor System 4 (Zenrin specific) – $317K/each
- Weapons Locker A6 – $344K
- 5x Defense Pattern Matrix 4 (Javat specific) – $154K/each
- 1x Any component of your choice
- 1x Mass Modulator/Dampener as needed
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