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Your Fighter and You, an Owner's Manual

For X3:Reunion, X3:Terran Conflict & X3:Albion Prelude

Table of Contents
How to Read this Guide:............................................................................................................................3
Statement of Purpose:................................................................................................................................4
Disclaimer:.................................................................................................................................................5
The Big 3 Fighters:.................................................................................................................................7
The Argon M4 Buster.......................................................................................................................8
The Argon M5 Discoverer:...............................................................................................................9
The Argon M3 Nova.......................................................................................................................10
The Advanced Fighter:....................................................................................................................11
To Recap:........................................................................................................................................12
The Typical Guns of Fighter-Class Craft:................................................................................................13
The Typical Missiles of Fighter-Class Craft:...........................................................................................14
Drones and you, what they do and how they work:.................................................................................15
Software, Ship Upgrades and Useful Wares:...........................................................................................16
Combat Strategy:......................................................................................................................................18
Combat Tips:............................................................................................................................................19
In Closing.................................................................................................................................................20

How to Read this Guide:


My Story: When I first purchased X3:Reunion, I got home from my local electronics store, fired it up only to
quickly give up because I found X3:Reunion boring. I didn't feel like remapping all of the controls, learning a whole
much of seemingly random pieces of information, etc. My copy of X3:Reunion, if I recall correctly, sat on top of my
desk where I used it as a coaster for several months. One day out of the blue I felt like learning how to play regardless
of the cost. Through sheer determination I navigated badly organized menus, found cryptic key names ( SETA,
wha...?) and read a badly written manual. Finally I managed to move my ship in an intelligent manner. Still being
VERY new to the game I believe I explored 20+ sectors in my Argon Buster without full engine tunings, shields, etc.
but I was hooked. I had finally learned enough to be able to find the information I required. The game itself was no
longer a hindrance to being able to play the game. This is entirely my goal for you, the reader.
This guide contains an enormous amount of information for a new player. Don't try to simply read it on your
computer screen and go. There's just too much information. I organized and wrote this guide to be referenced first,
then read later. If you find yourself in an Argon Buster, read the section titled M4 Argon Buster. Then, using the
information you glean from that read the sections on the other ships, then the weapons, drones, etc.
There is quite a bit of downtime in X3 so print this manual and set it near your computer. When your waiting
for something, going somewhere or just have random time to do nothing, grab this guide & thumb through it. Slowly
but surely you will learn that the X-Series are indeed very good games, despite the vertical learning curve.
I hope you enjoy yourself and enjoy one of my favorite toys, X3.

Statement of Purpose:
I have authored this guide with the hopes of dispelling some of the confusion
new players experience with the X3 series of games. The scope of this guide is to
broadly cover M3 through M5 fighter craft in X3:Reunion, X3:Terran Conflict and
X3:Albion Prelude. If the reader is not already aware all games in the X-series build
on their predecessor's mechanics. Therefor many ships, weapons, stations, sectors, etc.
that were present in a previous version of the game can also be found in newer
versions.
When a differentiation between games is required, please see the associated
annotation on the bottom of the page. It is generally true that anything in X3:Reunion
will be applicable to X3:Terran Conflict and anything available in X3:Terran Conflict
will also be applicable in X3:Albion Prelude. This guide will attempt to categorize
objects in the X3 series but as items are later added this system will not always work
precisely.
This guide will exclusively cover the basics of M3~M5 class fighter craft,
their most often utilized armaments, software, etc. The overriding goal is to keep
things simple through systematization & categorization to allow players a context for
comparison. If a player draws a conclusion similar to The PAC1 is the basis for
comparing all M4-class fighter guns. then this guide has succeeded.

Particle Accelerator Cannon, see section FIGHTER GUNS for more information.

Disclaimer:
This guide attempts to keep the mystery of discovery open by not revealing all information about objects in
the X3-series. I believe this is important for the enjoyment of the series for many players. As such this guide is not an
attempt at a comprehensive listing of all possible configurations, derivatives, etc. I have intentionally omitted much
information that is largely irrelevant to a newer player in keeping with this line of thinking.
With regards to X3:Reunion, most of the guns come in
an Alpha, Beta & Gamma variety.

Insofar as fighters are

concerned there are generally only two, Alpha and Beta. Please
check the chart to the right for more information on their
relative strengths and weaknesses. That being said, an Alpha
PAC is still a PAC and of an entirely different class than
HEPTs2 or IREs3 so both Alpha and Beta are identified
collectively by their type (ex: PAC, IRE, etc.) for this guide.
This guide will only thoroughly cover three ships
which were chosen due to their abundance in Argon Space and the fact that they form a base line for comparison
among all other ships of their class. The player will generally lack both the Racial Reputation 4 and the credits to
purchase these ships immediately, they are commonly encountered throughout Argon space and beyond. This means
that I highly encourage new players to choose an Argonian as their race the intention is to apply the lessons learned
here.

2
3
4

High Energy Plasma Thrower, see section Fighter-Guns for more information.
Impulse Ray Emitter, see section Fighter-Guns for more information.
The Player's standing with a particular race, raised through the completion of missions, trading and elimination of that race's enemies.

Register with Egosoft and


download the Bonus Pack. Each game
has a different version but the Bonus
Pack adds features like Mosquito
Defense, the Commercial Agent, etc.
that are very helpful not just for
fighters but also for enhancing the
game as a whole. This guide assumes
the player has the most updated version
of their respective X3 game and the
bonus

pack

correctly

installed.

Lastly, some explanation of


how my charts are derived is called for. Essentially no statistic in X3 has meaning except relative to other statistics.
For example, a Buster at 176 m/s 5 is fast only relative to a Nova at 150 m/s while being painfully slow relative to a
Discoverer at 346 m/s. How these numbers and many others relate are the core of what this guide is about. As such, I
have attempted to use percentages of base to compare disparate data sets.
For example, to build a normative speed for the Argon
M3 Nova, including its subtypes requires adding the speed
values for all 5 subtypes of ship, dividing that value by 5
(mean), then producing an offset for how fast a particular
subtype is relative to the normative value, shown as a percent.
The standard Argon M3 Nova has a maximized speed of 150
m/s whereas the Argon M3 Nova Raider travels at 191 m/s. This is a 27% increase (or 127% of mean) which displays
on a graph much more clearly than an additional 41 m/s.

Meters-per-Second, standard measure of speed in the X-series.

The Big 3 Fighters:


In the X3 series, there are three primary Argonian ships that occupy the three tiers of fighters. They are the
M5 Discoverer (Scout), the M4 Argon Buster (Interceptor) and the M3 Argon Nova (Superiority). These are the three
ships that this guide will discuss at length to convey systemic ideas about how to outfit, arm and control fighters-class
ships.
These three ships where chosen as they represent the baseline against which all other fighter-class ships can
be compared. The Boran M5 Octopus is fast & heavily-armed though lightly-shielded. The implicit understanding is
that this is relative to the Discoverer. This type of understanding will hopefully allow the player the make wellinformed decisions about which ships to purchase, which to battle and which to leave alone.
Additionally, many fighter-classes also have sub classes. The versions are standard (nothing follows the
name), Raider (fastest), Vanguard (faster than standard & usually better shielding), Sentinel (usually more shielding,
but slower) and Hauler (largest cargo bay). Each of the subtypes are slightly different from one another and more
specialized for a particular role. A mission
requiring a ship with a larger cargo bay
would be best served with a Hauler
subtype whereas a mission requiring a faster
ship would be best served with the Raider
version.
Note: The Vanguard appears to be about
10% better than all other versions when
everything is taken into account.

The Argon M4 Buster


This is the ship against which all other ships,
including the other two I will go into, are compared. The
Buster is neither fast nor slow, not heavily or lightly armed.
The same is true for shielding, cargo capacity, etc. If there
where to be a ship that defined the X-Series, it would be
the Argon Buster.
The Argon Buster is the ship most players either
start out in or quickly upgrade to. Sadly, this
ship has been outclassed by many other
additions to the X-Series and is no longer
viewed as combat capable.

That being

said there are certainly roles for the Buster,


especially its subtypes like the Vanguard and
the Raider. Chasing down fighters, harassing
enemies and transporting wares quickly are
all still duties the Buster can be reasonably
expected

to

accomplish.

With

the

introduction and mass production of M4+6


designs this ship has become very unpopular
as a player choice for all but the most niche
situations (or because they cannot afford a better ship).

X3:Terran Conflict & Albion Prelude, names like Solano, Elite, etc.

The Argon M5 Discoverer:


This ship is the scout of the Argon Navy. It is about
twice as fast as the Buster with about a fifth the shielding. This
class of ship excels at scouting for enemies, exploring new
sectors and the like. This ship is very fragile and cannot take
more than a hit or two from most weapons without being
destroyed.
Even more than the Buster, there are always reasons to
utilize the M5 class of fighters in general and
Discoverers in particular.
For one thing the M5 class of scout ship is
extremely difficult to hit. Also, they make excellent
scouts with the proper software and finally they are
fast enough to transfer wares quickly from one point
to another. The Discoverer in particular has a cargo
bay that can hold larger-sized cargo 7 than most other
M5 class ships which allows it to carry both
Satellites and the Triplex scanner.

Both are

extremely important for reconnaissance duties of


which the Argon Discoverer is particularly suited.

Cargo not only takes up units of space but also has a size requirement ranging from Small to Medium to Large to eXtra Large.

The Argon M3 Nova

This fighter class is the opposite of the M5 series. The


M3 Argon Nova is a heavy-fighter. It is slow but heavily
shielded, well armed and possesses a decent to huge cargo bay.
It can carry (generally) any of the weapons from either M5s or
M4s in addition to heavier weapons that are specific to M3s.
The M3 class of ships, by default, will not be able to escape
fighters but generally there is not a reason to do so.
For most players, acquiring one of these ships
generally indicates that the player is becoming stable in their
pursuits of fame and fortune in the X-Series. This ship also costs
about twenty times as much as a M5-class ship while each of it's
weapons (one of the nine carried by the Argon Nova) can also cost
more than a M5 as well.
The Argon M3 Nova is truly a heavy-fighter.

In

X3:Reunion this ship and its subtypes were generally seen as near
the top of the line for superiority but in X3:Terran Conflict and
even more so in X3:Albion Prelude this ship's age is beginning to
show. It can still hold it's own against other ships but not to the
same extent that it could previously since the introduction and
mass production of the M3+8 class of ships.

Advanced M3 designs, like Eclipse, Skate, etc.

The Advanced Fighter:


All three classes of ship, the M3, M4 and
M5 also have advanced versions available as well.
They are generally much more powerful versions of
the standard class of ships. For example, the Argon
M3+ Eclipse is significantly better-shielded at
200Mj than it's standard brethren, the Argon M3
Nova with only 75Mj.
These details are not present on the Sector
Map interface, in the ship's name, etc. The only way
to know is from memory.
These ships are far superior in general to
their standard counterparts in most
areas and the player is well-served in
upgrading

to

one

of

them.

Unfortunately only experience makes


knowing

whether

ship

is

an

advanced9 version possible.


Lastly, these advanced ships
generally can carry more weaponry and
are generally equipped with a turret
that should be avoided.

Not to be confused with the advanced designation for one time special ships.

To Recap:
We have discussed the categories of fighters present in the X-Series, from the small M5 Scout to the M4
Interceptor and up to the M3 Heavy-fighter. All things being equal the previous class should have little chance against
the next class. With a skilled player flying a Buster could handle a Nova but this would be very time-consuming
and require that all other threats had already been destroyed (so the player doesn't get shot while avoiding a Nova).
M5s are fast, lightly shielded and
carry the weakest weapons. M3s carry far
heavier weapons and have far superior
shielding but at the expense of speed and
acceleration.

M4s are somewhere in

between. This basic idea holds true for all


races' ships and is useful in making quick
comparisons of ship types.
We have also briefly covered the advanced versions of the M4 and M3, the M4+ and M3+ respectively and
how they are to be given a wide berth when encountered. Unfortunately only experience will inform the player as to
whether they are engaging one of these advanced ships or not.

The Typical Guns of Fighter-Class Craft:


In the X3 series, there are really is only one basic question
about which weapon to carry. Am I aiming at a slow, easy to hit
target or a small, fast and hard to hit target?. The answer to this
question will define what type of weapons are needed.
Nearly every ship in X3 can carry more than one type of
gun,10 and due to the differences in ship weapon compatibilities, play
styles, etc., you will have to determine the answer for yourself.
However, all is not lost as most fighters can carry 6~10 guns
in their frontal (main) mounts. For dealing with fast, hard to
hit targets, you want weapons that fire projectiles that travel
extremely quickly. Examples would be the Impulse Ray
Emitter and the Phased Repeater Gun.11
As the following two charts demonstrate, weapons
like IREs, PRGs and to a lesser degree PACs are quite
capable of dealing with faster targets but they do not do as
much damage as quickly as HEPTs or EBCGs.
This means an ideal setup would involve two sets of
weapons. A good setup on a fighter that can mount eight
weapons

might

be

something

like

4xRPG

and

4xEBCG/HEPT. That being said, 8xPAC can be almost as


devastating without having to rotate weapons mid-fight.

10
11

For this guide, the Argon M5 Discoverer is the exception


Phased Repeater Gun not present in X3:Reunion.

The Typical Missiles of Fighter-Class Craft:


Missiles in X3 are just as varied as Guns. There are quite a few and it can be off putting initially to have too
many choices. However, in the spirit of this guide only a select few missiles will be over viewed as they are
applicable to the new player. The five missiles are as follows:
We are discussing
missiles fired BY the player,
not AT the player. For the
novice player, these are the
only missiles that need be
employed

by

the

player

against an enemy.12

There

are many more missiles in X3 and they have their uses but for a new player, we will limit our discussion to these 5.
Mosquito Missiles and Fight Command Software MkII enable the player to activate the Missile Defense
system which launches a missile automatically when an incoming missile is detected. 13
Wasp & Hurricane Missiles are ideal for taking down M5-class scouts and/or, in numbers, M4-class
interceptors. They are fast enough to catch nearly all fighters but do have a big enough warhead to significantly
damage a heavily-shielded fighter.
Tempest & Thunderbolt Missiles are great for taking out slower M3/M3+ class fighters. Most standard M3
fighters will either be destroyed or nearly so by a single hit from one of these missiles but they are not fast enough to
catch a M5-class scout or a swift M4-class interceptor.

12
13

See Combat Tactics Missiles for more information about how to deal missiles fired at the player.
See Software, Ship Upgrades and Useful Wares Fight Command MkII section for more on this.

Drones and you, what they do and how they work:


Originally this section was a sub heading of another section but in retrospect it was decided to give a fullfledged page for outlining how and why to deploy Fighter Drones.
Fighter Drones in the X-Series are designed to be used as distractions and as
offensive weapons. They come in two versions, the MkI and MkII. 14
The Mark I version is useful in providing a distraction. At 400 m/s they
are difficult to hit but can take a hit or two (unlike most missiles). They also
carry 1 Impulse Ray Emitter which is useful for getting the enemy's attention
but little more unless used in very large numbers.
The Mark II version is useful for doing real damage to the enemy. At
200 m/s they are significantly slower than the MkI but carry 2 Particle
Accelerator Cannons. These drones have a difficult time dealing with fast M5s but a handful can
quickly destroy a standard M3.
A typical use of the fighter drone would be to deploy them at range
(say 5~20 Km), order them to attack the enemy and follow them in, allowing
them to take the hits (or evade being hit). This would be tailored to the
individual ship as the Argon M3 Nova Raider (195 m/s) can almost keep up
with the Fighter Drone MkII.
The great thing about drones is that they continue fighting for long
periods of time. Whereas a missile either hit's its target, misses the target or is
destroyed, the Fighter Drone continues to fight as enemy ships are being
destroyed. They are as close to fire and forget as the X-Series gets and do this at a reasonable cost.

14

Fighter-Drones MkII not available in X3:Reunion

Software, Ship Upgrades and Useful Wares:

Shields

It goes without saying that the ship should have as many of the heaviest shields as possible. 15

Engine/Rudder tuning:
Again, upgrade these as quickly as possible for maximum performance from your fighter.

Jump Drive

Allows the player to nearly-instantaneously move from one


location to another via jump gates. Requires M (medium)
cargo size and energy cells.

Duplex/Triplex Scanner

No Scanner = 10 km scan range = 4,200 km.


Duplex Scanner = 20 km scan range = 33,510 km.
Triplex Scanner = 30 km scan range = 113,097 km.

Fight Command Software MkI


Allows auto computation for gunnery to predict lead automatically. You simply aim your ship in at the
targeting reticule & the computer will compute lead, distance, time to target, etc. Substantially increases hit
accuracy for most players.

15

The heaviest shields that particular ship can equip


1Mj < 5Mj < 25Mj < 200Mj < 1Gj < 2Gj

Fight Command Software MkII


Allows the activation of Missile Defense Mosquito which will
automatically fire the Mosquito missiles at incoming missiles and
drones. Very helpful for dealing quickly with enemy missiles.

Boost Extension
Triples the acceleration rate of any ship.

Freight Scanner
Could be useful if it had more than a 5 km range. Identifies items
carried by any other ship including weapons, shields, software,
tunings, etc. Some players utilize it, many do not.

Patrol Command Software


For M5s: Under Combat > Scout for enemies, ship will scout the sector for any hostile targets and upon
completion of a scan report back any findings
For M4 and M3s: Under Combat > Patrol Sector, ship will patrol and engage any hostile targets in the
sector.

Turbo Boost MkI


Substantially increases ship's speed. Requires energy cells and if not provided will use shield then weapon
energy to sustain speed. Great for chasing down fleeing enemies, fast targets or a swift escape.

Repair Laser:
You cannot equip this on your ship but it is by far one of the most important things you have. Instead of
paying a ship yard to repair your ship (which can cost as much as the ship), simply get out, aim at your ship &
fire away. Your laser is saving you credits. This is also true for claimed ships, repair them before you sell
them to increase your earnings.

Combat Strategy:
In the X-Series, there are many ways to skin a cat. At this point I hope the player has discovered that
destroying that enemy pirate ship can be accomplished with either the player-ship's main armaments, missiles, or
combat drones. This is just a small sampling of the complexity of the X-Series but there are generally preferred
methods of accomplishing a given task.
For the purposes of learning, imagine a
scenario.

You are using a M4 Argon Buster

Vanguard against 1 M3, 2 M4s and 1 M5 as


pictured.

You

want

your heavy

missiles

(Thunderbolt and Tempest) which have long


ranges but slow speeds to be launched early. Then,
once you've safety moved away from your own
missiles (so they don't blow you up), you can begin
firing lighter missiles (Wasp and Hurricane) and
deploying your own drones. For MkI drones, you
prioritize the enemy M3 (as they will chew up the
M5) and for MkII16 drones, you prioritize the M5
(as the MkIIs will chew up the M3). If your lucky,
one of your missiles has already destroyed an
opposing fighter so between you and your drones,
victory is not terribly difficult.
The scenario laid out is typical in the X-Series of games but not the only one. A few minutes to create a wellthought out battle plan will save the player countless credits.

16

Fighter-Drones MkII not available in X3:Reunion

Combat Tips:

Missiles

Bring up your freight bay. You are looking for Speed and Guidance Anything faster than 200 m/s
with guidance is a M5 killer (save the Mosquito and Thorn). Anything slower than 200 m/s with
guidance for less than 15,000 credits is an M3~M4 killer.

Do not use large missiles (usually sized M and slower than 200 m/s) while under fire. They will
destroy the player's ship if they are hit while leaving the ship.

Guns
Faster Targets = Get closer
Slower Targets = Stay farther away
Ammo Based weapons require more management but some are superior to their energy based cousins. A
good mix helps.

Enemies
M6, M7, M2, M1 and TL Will kill you, leave alone for now

Strafe
The player should always be strafing, preferably in two directions at once. The player should also vary
their direction of strafe to avoid incoming fire. This is less useful against fast, light weapons but essential
against larger, heavier weapons.

Jump Drive
Can be used to string out enemies. Close on an enemy formation, launch a missile & jump to the far
side of the sector. All ships will chase you at maximum speed. This means you will engage M5s first,
M4s second, and so on. Very useful for large formations of enemy ships.
Always keep energy cells on hand for speedy escapes.

In Closing
At this point you've potentially read this entire manual. I hope you've understood the ideas I have attempted
to convey. By this point you should recognize which ships are stronger than yours but not be intimidated by it.
Indeed, you should be able to engage them with a high degree of confidence in your ability to either destroy or capture
them.
Missiles are great additions to the armament of any ship but should be treated with due respect. Missiles can
really level a playing field between asymmetrical opponents but are just as dangerous to the launcher if not utilized
properly.
Drones are great for many things and are a force multiplier for the player. A drone really costs very little as a
fraction of what the player spent on a ship and are an economic method of leveling the playing field.
Weapons have a rhyme and reason to their naming. Additionally, nearly all weapons have a reason for
existing and a job they do better than any other.
Essentially, the X-Series has systems and rules like any other game. I hope I have helped explain how those
systems work for smaller craft so you can enjoy one of my favorite toys, X3.