A look at Elite: Dangerous – Powerplay

Powerplay is the latest version of Elite: Dangerous, that adds mechanics which deal with ownership of Systems.

I’ve been waiting for this Patch, as E:D had turned to be a bit dull lately, and the basic ideas seem to promise some conflict and even maybe some PVP.

Having seen that it was released yesterday i decided that I’d spend a few hours, and see if/how it works

So, when i logged in, i located the Powerplay menus quick enough and had a hard decision to make.. to what Power would i pledge my allegiance – now I’m holding the Knight Rank within the Empire, so picking one of the Empire Powers seemed the right thing to do, as it would go well with my reputation / rank progression – or so i thought. So which of the Empire factions? Basically i ended with what i felt was a tough choice – a woman who is supposed to increase bounties & payouts – so far my only income source, OR some dude who lower the prices for high tech weapons – something i have to throw a lot of money on because my ship currently has only two pulse lasers. Well, i decided for the income.

Both had the benefit that two of their 3 activities are combat, so I did expect a lot of combat missions.

At the time of pledging, however i was still outside of the influence sphere of A Lavigny-Duval, but the system was in a status where i could have started a preparation – at least thats what the Powerplay missions screen told me. For that i was supposed to get some documents proving corruption.
Well, ok, it didn’t really tell me where to get those – or i missed it, but i thought “well, why not, I guess i have to shoot up a few local officials, and will get those documents” – well all it gave me was some local bounty, so after a while i decided to dock a last time, upgrade my FSD and the cheapest fuel scoop i could find with my last money (my wallet was at ~450 after that), and head towards one of those controlled systems..

14 jumps later i had made the following experiences:

  • spending a lot of time orbiting a sun to scoop fuel
  • spending a lot of time in jump animations
  • being intercepted by 2 eagles who belong to the new Powerplay pirate faction.. as it turns out one gave me nothing, and the otherone 420 credits in a local voucher – which i decided not to collect seeing that the station was 28k light seconds away.

So, after flying about 2k ls to the station in the controlled system i finally looked at the Powerplay missions screen again. So.. it tells me i can’t do fortifying because i don’t bring any goods for that. Hum so more hauling crap. It also tells me that it accepts vouchers from expansion fights, so yay fighting things.

Oh, and it also offered me to get 10 of those corruption papers that i would have had needed for in the system that i started in – so thats how you get them.

A quick look at the map shows me the next expansion system (of which there are three in total) is about 26 jumps away.

26 boring, mindnumbing nothing-happening jumps (including extended scooping periods orbiting around nameless suns) later, I arrive at a location where i can do “Crime Sweeps” – the expansion-action within this faction, so now a bit excited, hoping that it would turn this into fun i drop into one of those crime sweep signatures.
I’m constantly under fire by several quite heavy ships, I’m getting euphoric, thinking it would be my lucky day. The ships within that signature seem a bit tougher than the ones in the usual conflict zones, so one of the anacondas that i’m working on taking down actually manages to burn through my shield on various occassions, and take me down to 36% hull – but in the end I’m the victor.

After cutting through 3 anacondas, 2 pythons, 2 viper, and 2 eagles i feel I should have earned quite a bit and should get my rewards, maybe repair the ship and upgrade it a bit. A quick look into my list of rewards shocks me though – rather than having something saying “Powerplay Rewards 1000000 Credits”, it says “Powerplay: 9” so, it lists basically a reward of 1 Powerplay per killed ship.

Mh, Somehow that seems weird, as the anacondas should give a lot more reward than an eagle, right? So i’m thinking “maybe they just screwed up display, and it will all resolve in cash-cash-cash once i turn ’em in.

Theres a station 3ls away from where i am, so a quick docking maneuver later i learn that this station will not offer me an option to give the vouchers to them. So i figure “well i guess i have to go back into one of the systems in the influence-sphere of my power”, and pick the closest system within the bubble thats describing said sphere.
8 boring jump-n-fuelscoops later, the 36% of my ship that still move and me make it to a system that is “exploited” by the power i’m working for – and as it turns out, exploited systems are not good enough for turning in the vouchers either.
So back to jump-n-fuelscooping, for another 13 jumps. Finally arriving in a “controlled” system again i head to my powers contact – and finally get my reward for all this..

9 merrits (one per voucher), and 900(!) credits – not even enough to repair my vulture.

So what can i do with the 9 merrits? Maybe there is some money in that?
Well after some research:

Merrits are basically something that helps you “rank” within your powers rating system.
Right now I’m in Rating 1, thats the one i entered with.

What does Rating 1 give me?

  • 1000 credits per week
  • 0 Preparation Nominations (those allow you to take influence on which system should be tried to taken over next)
  • 10 Power commodity allocation every half hour (whats that you ask? well those corruption documents? thats the cap on how many you can get, in my rating maximum 10 per 30 minutes)

so basically no real reward either.

At 100 Merrits, i would get Rating 2, which gives

  • 50 000 Credits
  • 2 Preparation Nominations
  • 15 commodity allocation per 30 min
  • 20% more bounties in controlled/exploited systems (the first real benefit)

Rating 3 at 750 merrits is barely worth talking about, 500k credits a week, 5 nominations, and 20 power commodity per 30min

However, the real rewards would be on rating 4, where you start to have weekly income of 5000000 Credits, and rating 5 where you get 50mio credits weekly and double the bounty in controlled/exploited systems
the catch with that is that you need 1500 merrits for rating 4 and 10 000 for rating 5.

Now if that all still seems reasonable to you because “oh, but you get quite high passive income, even though when you will lose money at first” – well but its not that either, let me quote from the rating screen of my power “To Maintain your rating you must earn enough Merits to unlock it again this week”.

When playing Powerplay,
for killing one ship, no matter what size you get 1 Merrit, and 100 credits, to make it worth your while you need to at least get it to Rating 4, which means 1500 dead ships. Per Week. so, lets just for the fun of it assume you manage to get the easiest ship to kill that i saw – the eagle constantly supplied, and you need a minute to take each eagle down, then you have to constantly grind 25 hours to get to Rating 4. But killing 60 ships an hour is quite unrealistic, its more likely that you do 20 to 30 in an hour.

I assume (i haven’t tried, as i have no cargo hold) that delivering the power commodities (the corruption papers) yields 1 Merrit per Paper, which would while in rank 1 put you in about the same speed of making merrits than the guy shooting ships, and when in rating 3 at about 1.5 times the speed (and in rank 5 you’d reach 100 merrits an hour) – but thats pure speculation (but If I’m wrong it would mean that once again the hauling/trading profession got the advantage – which is kinda odd for a combat expansion).

Powerplay’s basic idea is a good one, having contant conflicts driven by factions, and various ways to contribute to those efforts seems a good idea to keep people from getting too bored – however the idea of cost (+risk)  vs reward is so far of in this that there is (at least for myself) simply no point in playing it. 


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