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Explorer Guide

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What does the Explorer do?[edit | edit source]

Explorer
Icon job explorer.png
Type Ship Operations
Acquisition Contacts
Starting Captain
SKILLS
Primary Skill Explore
Secondary Skill Electronics
Tertiary Skill Tactics

As a proper Explorer, you shall be exploring the wilderness in search of the ever elusive Xeno Artifacts. As you can see in the image below, they can be sold for an absolutely ridiculous amount of credits, therefore exploration can be one of the most profitable jobs.

The method in which to get these artifacts is a simple matter of sailing to a planet with a Wild Zone and exploring it. When exploring in the wild, be mindful of the following:

  • Cache: A rating that reflects how safe your Stashes are from raids by hostile Contacts or discovery during Rumors.
  • Harvest: How suitable the zone is for harvesting operations.
  • Exploration: How valuable, rare and unique the zone's exploration results are.
  • Richness: How rich the zone is, in terms of Exploration and Harvesting.
  • Danger: How dangerous operating within this Zone is.

When you actually prepare to explore a zone, you will be doing the exploration card game, by which the results of exploring and exploration missions are determined. The captain will draw 5 cards which are determined by risk and reward factors. They then have the opportunity to modify their draw through the use of crew talents which allow them to redraw, remove or improve a card. Then one card will randomly be selected from the remaining cards providing either a negative, positive or neutral result. If a negative result is drawn it is possible that its results may be avoided by a test of certain captain and ship skills. All exploration actions consume time but not fuel.

Increasing ship Explore and Tactics Skill Pools should be a key priority. Explorers will also need to invest in Talents that will help them determine the results of the card game. Most of these are provided by Explorer and Exo-Scout crew members. In the early game, it is best to Explore often, checking the hand that is dealt at nearly every wild zone that can be visited and only playing those hands that give a reasonable chance of success versus possible negative outcomes. As a Captain's crew and ship develop, they will be able to engage in more extended explorations of the planet of their choice.
An incredible amount of Terrox Xeno Artifacts, the very resource you as an explorer shall always be chasing after.
Please be advised, that no build or template is foolproof or absolute for every player and every scenario. Do not follow this expecting perfect results, and do not bore yourself into not trying anything different.

Template[edit | edit source]

A) Skills - 10 Explore, 10 Tactics, 3 Command

  • Skills are 10 explore and 10 tactics because these skills are what give the explore skill better dice. Check out Dice Mechanics for more information on how increasing raw skills can make you have a better time in various aspects of the game. In that same vein, the aspect we are focusing on is exploration, and therefore we require an enormous amount of exploring and tactics.

B) Attributes - 14 strength, 14 quickness, 20 fortitude, 30 charisma, 30 wisdom, 14 resilience

  • This is a non-combat captain, therefore, you do not care at all about combat attributes, such as strength, quickness, and fortitude. I recommend just 20 fortitude as that is enough to survive the crew damage from ship combat and exploration.

C) Ship - Galtak Freighter

  • Ships are pretty fluid, and you can choose to run another one in the beginning; however, a freighter early on is logical so that you can haul both trade goods and things you discover via exploration around. The Galtak Freighter, especially, has an immense cargo hold (15 higher than the leading ships) and is extraordinarily durable for being so cheap. That is another important note: ships are ranked C in this template, therefore you do not have as much as if it were in A or B, but really there is no ship to be outright recommended over the Galktak in the beginning for exploration and trading, anyway.

D) Contacts - Retired Explorer, Fixer

  • Having the retired explorer is a must, as they will be your primary missions giver and allow you to recruit Exo-Scout crew members.
  • The fixer will give you Smuggler Missions which enable you to move cargo around, typically at lower legality levels, and earn good amounts of credits. Also, typically enables you to recruit other smugglers, but that varies based on the contact's traits, and they sell specialist gear.

E) Experience - Explorer (Key talents: Digging Deeper, Artifact Hunter)

  • You don't have to go explorer, seriously. I recommend it, but you don't have to. Bounty Hunter and Merchant would also work, just not as well, and you'd likely not follow this guide very closely.

It is important to note that there are plenty of variations to this template and that you absolutely must do whatever you would enjoy, rather than what you have been told to do.

Captain[edit | edit source]

Again, this is a non-combat captain. This is interesting, however, in that you can focus on the three jobs on your captain entirely to making a profit and ship operations. Therefore, there are many different jobs you can consider.

Secondary and Tertiary Captain Jobs[edit | edit source]

  1. Exo-Scout is the obvious first choice here, as it offers more explorer skill save and wild zone exploration talents. Also, at level 11, Exo-Scout will give your captain an extra 11 Explore, which is incredible.
  2. Merchant enables you to trade everything you find from exploration with ease and fantastic profit. The especially completely wonderful and broken talent is 'Lucrative Wholesale', where when selling over $50,000 in goods you generate Intel Records up to your Negotiate skill. You very easily will be doing such large trades, even in the early to mid game, so consider abusing this.
  3. Smuggler, just like Merchant, enables you to sell your goods more easily; specifically, as a Smuggler, you will be able to access the Black Market more readily and maximize your profits with Xeno Artifacts.
  4. Given you shall be doing mostly patrol to garner reputation early on--and even throughout the game--you definitely should not look past the Military Officer.

If you absolutely want to send your captain into combat, consider:[edit | edit source]

A) Skills - 10 Explore, 5 Evasion, 5 Rifles, 3 Tactics

B) Attributes - 20 strength, 20 quickness, 20 fortitude, 24 charisma, 24 wisdom, 14 resilience

  • You will need to play around with stats more to your liking, as you are quite starved bringing an explorer into combat, considering you need high wisdom in order to be successful at the exploration card game.
  • It would also behoove you to get higher resilience at higher difficulties.
  • To increase these stats any further, you may put Attributes in A and Skills in B. Adjust accordingly.

C) Ship - Galtak Freighter

D) Contacts - Retired Explorer, Fixer

E) Experience - Explorer (Key talents: Digging Deeper, Artifact Hunter)

N.B.: Peruse the Explorer Reference to make any decisions or changes to stats as you see fit from the above.

Officers[edit | edit source]

Having an officer as a merchant to increase the sale of the goods through 'Righteous Profits' talent is handy. Just make sure your cargo hold is full of all the same good type. Leave stashes around until you can do that. You may also couple your merchant with a Diplomat if you manage to hit a 5 or a 6 on Negotiate. This could be incredible, as you could make use of Diplomat's 'Magnanimous Victory' talent, which blunts reputation losses from ship victories.

It is highly recommended having another Explorer as an officer, and likely with Exo-Scout to stack more of those wonderful talents. There is no "optimal stack" for how many Explorers and Exo-Scouts to have, but highly successful runs have been seen to have no fewer than three Explorers and two Exo-Scouts, at least. You easily might consider going as high as five of each. Your mileage may vary and just plan accordingly.

If you successfully get a very good combat-oriented Exo-Scout from your contacts, you absolutely may pair them with Explorer and can consider for their tertiary Soldier, Sniper, or even something such as Military Officer.

If your Doctor officer rolled well, then you might consider pairing them with Spy and Combat Medic. Doing so, it is recommended to level Combat Medic to 8, then Doctor to 5, while Spy is still at 1. Then, you can decide which talents you are specifically seeking. Help with spying could be immensely helpful, and if you are stacking Intel via the Merchant, you will have a tremendous profit stream. Coupling spying with exploration fully is quite difficult, however, and another guide will likely need to be written for any strange hybrid build.

If your Engineer rolled high on the Doctor skill, consider pairing them with Doctor and Commander This is a fantastic non-combat officer who covers a lot of bases, including but not limited to many skill saves you will need.

If any of your existing officers happened to roll high on initiative, blades, or evasion, consider pairing them with Swordsman and Zealot. You may also do just Swordsman and Commander, but two combat jobs are preferable, at least, on someone you are sending into crew combat.

Crew[edit | edit source]

Hiring some Exo-Scouts as crew members can help with your explore stat from the retired explorer contact.

When your gunners have Supremacy of Firepower talent, patrol in earnest to repair any reputation lost by early game missions. 

You can consider having a frontline Swordsman combatant. You can promote them if you desire.

A Diplomat could be useful for 'Magnanimous Victory' to avoid reputation loss.

Ship[edit | edit source]

The Galtek Freighter, your exploration vessel.
The Galtek Freighter, your exploration vessel.

You will find a lot of raw and refined resources out in the wild so a big cargo ship like the Galtak Freighter is ideal.

You will also need to patrol to keep all the factions friendly with you to keep pirates off your back, so ensure your ship isn't completely unfitted. Again, the Merchant talent Garner Favor can also help with reputation if you are selling big bundles of resources for over $5,000 in sales in foreign markets.

Increase your ship's maximum Navigation stat via Navigation Assist Modules to aid when fleeing combat, which early game you will have to.

Optimized Ship Strategy[edit | edit source]

Nearing maximum efficiency for exploration requires two ships and there is really no way around that. One ship should be fitted with all of the harvesting, mining, and Ship Components it can. The other ship should be fitted with escape modules, plenty of piloting, and at least four, if not five or six cargo holds.

Optimizing that even further, you will require another ship, if not two more, for a total of four. You will want your exploration ship, your cargo hauler, a ship purely for combat, and finally one for spying. This kind of setup is an absolute end game scenario, as you will be doing exploration, combat (both ship and crew), and spying all simultaneously--all the while maintaining your faction reputations, watching rumors, conflicts, and fighting off Xeno. Good luck!

Tips on Avoiding Ship Combat[edit | edit source]

If you do wish to completely avoid ship combat, consider the ECCM Module. It gives you a bonus to escape, but it does weigh more than other mods, so take that into account.

There are many talents that allow you to avoid ship combat. You should be able to easily get crew members or officers with the appropriate jobs to obtain these talents.

  • Military Officer (1):  Stiff Salute (Milt) - When encountering a Military Officer or Zealot Captain, a respectful military salute automatically ends the encounter with a Draw; Reputation penalties may still apply
  • Merchant (5):  Jettison Cargo (Rat) - Dumping one randomized type of our ship's cargo into space buys time to escape a Pirate before Ship Combat starts
  • Smuggler (5):  Forged Permit (Milt) - Well-forged documents can open doors; can be used to reduce the hostility of military ships encountered in travel
  • Pirate (5):  Terrifying Extortion (Merch) - Frighten non-violent merchants into turning over their cargo in return for a promise of being unharmed at cost of Reputation loss
  • Pirate (8):  Faked Signature (BHunt) - Confusing or forged credentials are enough to throw even the most dogged pursuer; can be used to reduce the hostility of Bounty Hunters
  • Spy (8):  Faked Signature (BHunt) - Confusing or forged credentials are enough to throw even the most dogged pursuer; can be used to reduce the hostility of Bounty Hunters

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Early Game[edit | edit source]

In-game exploration card game.
What the in-game exploration card game looks like. Note how there are + and - numbers on the top right of every card, and how on the bottom-left panel there are stats about rarities and chances.
Until you get to the point you can reliably find artifacts, you will want to quest from your retired explorer contact and do some trading for early credits.

Follow the story missions and actively try to get more Contacts. Of the contacts you do have, see who they shall introduce you to and see if they are an ex-bounty hunter or another similar contact. If you manage to get an ex-bounty hunter, take missions that require you to go explore wilderness zones for fugitives; these missions can be very lucrative and level you quickly.

Also, take missions that require spying if you have a spy in your ranks, which is recommended.

The entire purpose of early game as an explorer is to try and get out of the early game. You are not really capable of exploring actively as your primary job and you cannot make much in the way of money or resources from it. Therefore, you need to do everything but explore so that you can get to mid game, where the real magic happens.

You will also need to patrol to keep all the factions friendly with you to keep pirates off your back; as such, it is recommended to have a Military Officer in your officer ranks.

Finding a wilderness zone near a planet with low trade law is a good idea to mark as a place to keep your stashed illegal cargo and artifacts.

Mid Game[edit | edit source]

Once you have quite a few explore card reroll talents, you may begin exploring in earnest. However, just because you can go explore and do nothing but, that does not mean you ought. Instead, you should be doing cycles of exploration and mission runs.

Whenever you can afford it, it is strongly recommended getting the Exo-Crawler for your ship and ensure you bring it with you even on missions. This way, you can do exploration even while on the way to and from missions, leaving caches of wealth scattered across various quadrants.

Finding a wilderness zone near a planet with low trade law is a good idea to mark as a place to keep your stashed illegal cargo and artifacts.
Always pay attention to rumors! They can be life or death in some instances.
As you are seeking places to explore, it is definitely worth mentioning to pay close attention to Rumors. There are some rumors, such as Artifact Find, which improve your chances of retrieving Xeno Artifacts; in the scenario of this particular rumor, it would behoove you to engage the Smugglers to get their Artifacts.

While you are doing exploration, you also do not need to be concerned whatsoever with moving what you find on your ship and bringing it with you immediately. This is a common misconception and will lead to a much more difficult experience in several ways. Please consider the following:

  • When you explore, sometimes weeks pass from just a run or two.
  • You then may find the all powerful and all wonderful Xeno Artifacts you have been after.
  • If you explore enough to fill your ship's cargo, then take the Artifacts aboard your ship and head to sell them, that is even more time spent micromanaging inventory when you could instead be doing something else for immediate profit and experience to maintain your momentum.
  • It is highly recommended that you instead create several caches across the galaxy filled with your Artifacts and when you have downtime between missions you then take another cargo freighter and move the Artifacts to the Black Market or low-security exchanges.

Some of these ideas are leading into late game strategies. Specifically, as a proper explorer, you will want to utilize multiple ships, even as many as four. Once you obtain a second ship, you certainly have reached late game, so congratulations!

Late Game[edit | edit source]

From this point, you likely have a handle on how to explore, the card game, how to pay attention to rumors, and even how to handle yourself in combat, both ship and crew. Given this, the only real strategies left to focus on moving vast amounts of Xeno Artifacts around the galaxy and, if you'd like, even dive into hunting Xeno themselves. Hunting Xeno is as simple as reaching the last Eras of the game, as well as following rumors.

While doing missions, whether they are for spying, exploration, or even bounty hunting, as you should be more than capable in nearly any field, you want to always be exploring every wild zone you come across. Explore every zone to exhausting along the way to and from missions, but always careful of your deadlines.

Ensure you are still leaving Artifacts and resources behind on the zones, as you will retrieve your cargo hauler later and go back to the stashes and then sell them at Black Markets and other exchanges.

Remember: the more expensive, rare, and/or illegal (very low legality) goods make your ship have a higher signature as long as they are onboard. Higher signature means more ship encounters and also increases your chance of encountering pirates. Xeno Artifacts, as well, can draw Xeno themselves to your ship.

Final Thoughts[edit | edit source]

Always be willing to walk away from any hand. Hitting that -6 Xeno can end your game before you even got it started.

Always be willing to walk away from any hand.

Do not begin exploring too early. Do not explore too late.

Do missions, trading, and even things such as patrolling early.

Pay attention to your contacts.

Get an Exo-Crawler and thank Cory later.

Do not waste time trying to sell things you find immediately; that is simply not how the game mechanic works in your favor. Abuse the system for how it was designed, instead of trying to brute-force short-term profits.

Get multiple ships--in mid-game, work to getting at least a second. One for exploration, with all of your tools and mods, and the other for hauling your stashed goods to exchanges.

Pay attention to rumors.

Utilize the entirety of a mission's deadline, so that you can exhaust every wild zone you come across.

Join the official Trese Discord if you have any questions.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Let's Play Star Traders Frontiers on Impossible! The Explorer, Pindiana Pones

Noct's Template Guides

Xeno Hunting Discussion

Promotional Content