Tips & Tricks
Take it easy[edit | edit source]
Failure on your first captain is just the beginning. Each new captain gives you a chance to explore different builds and strategies, and you will likely start over many times.
Start with Demanding difficulty or below. At Hard difficulty and above, your Captain is no longer invincible.
Mistakes can be costly and frustrating. Don't just blame the dice, learn how to stack the rolls in your favor and be prepared for failure.
Don't rush through and hope for the best. It's important to make wise choices, so take the time to read and understand what is going on.
You almost always have options. Even when it looks bleak, there still might be a way out. Digging your way out of a challenging situation can be very rewarding.
Pay attention[edit | edit source]
Factions are a crucial part of the game and may be confusing at first. Check the Faction Politics screen to stay current on alliances and conflicts. Keep faction relationships in mind when planning your future. Choose your allies and enemies carefully. You won't make friends with everyone, but try not to make enemies through carelessness. Independents don’t keep track of reputation, so their stations can be a valuable source of materials and services when far from home.
Time keeps moving. Each turn is 16 hours. (You don't need to memorize this.) The game world continues to get more difficult the longer you survive. Pay close attention to the time cost of Healing or Spicing your crew and Repairing or Upgrading your ship. Healing a full crew can take weeks, while upgrading your ship's core components can take months, especially at more primitive starports. Remember that hyperjumps take time too, as they instantly jump the clock forward. While a year might sound like a generous mission deadline, the galaxy is huge and unexpected interruptions can take weeks or months.
Each captain is a new opportunity to choose your own adventure in a progressing sandbox. While you have freedom to make your own choices, each decision has weight and you cannot go back. You can ignore the story but you will still be affected by it. You will be impacted by the Faction conflicts whether you choose to take part or not. Reputation matters much more than you think.
Know the basics[edit | edit source]
You are a Star Trader, and trade is a vital part of your heritage. Carry cargo with you even while traveling for other reasons, and learn the important supply routes by heart. If you can get Trade Permits with multiple factions, your trading possibilities will be significantly improved. With a L3 or L4 Trade Permit you can make serious profits in restricted goods, but you will need a good understanding of Trade Law and trade flow, as well as mapping out the ever-changing trade routes and staying on top of ongoing Rumors and events.
The patrolling, blockading, spying, and exploring activities are a central part of the game and come with different types of risks and rewards. Learn your way around all of them, and be sure to look for Talents that help you succeed in the activities your prefer. Pay attention to Rumors and Events as they can temporarily affect the difficulty and rewards of an operation. Drawing a hand of cards costs you next to nothing, so get in the habit of checking the cards whenever you visit a new zone. You can always leave and come back later, so don't commit unless you are prepared for the consequences.
Upgrade steadily. Increasing your Military Ranks, Edicts and Trade Permits will result in better mission rewards, while increasing the mission difficulty. Level up your ranks gradually, ensuring your ship and crew are prepared to handle the challenge. Modify your ship to meet the needs of your evolving crew, not the other way around. If you upgrade your ship too quickly, you may lack the necessary skills to handle it effectively. Ship skills should never fall under 100%, and if they go over 200% you might want to think about an upgrade. Story missions and conflict missions (the center column of the "request mission" screen) often give the best rewards, but will likely result in negative reputation from the opposing faction.
Dealing with ships[edit | edit source]
Avoiding unnecessary combat will keep your crew healthy and happy. If you are at least +10 reputation with the ship owner's faction, you can often "acknowledge" them and move on. If you have no cargo, or are prepared to lose it, surrendering to pirates will prevent a fight and still result in some experience. You can always retreat from explorers, smugglers, and merchants with no penalty, despite in-game text. Military Officers and Bounty Hunters can be pacified by certain Talents, and experienced Navigators can help to escape any situation at the cost of some fuel and ship damage with the "Skip Off the Void" talent. Gaining ranks in Trade, Military, and Edicts also grants improved relations with some encounters. They can also protect you from having certain loot stolen from you when inspected. Until then, you may need to pay the bribes and retreat. Don't let your pride get the best of you, live to fly another day.
When engaged in ship combat, note your ship's weapon ranges. Each weapon's range is shown by some stars at the bottom of the picture, which indicate the positions it can be fired from. Red stars are optimal, and firing from another position incurs an accuracy penalty. Each weapon uses a certain amount of Reactor Points (RP) as does advancing or retreating a range level. RPs reset every turn, and can be increased or decreased by some talents. Ship Speed matters at ranges 4 and 5, while Ship Agility matters for ranges 3,2, and 1. You can choose one Talent per combat turn, Talents do not use RP but have multi-week cool-down timers. All ship buffs and debuffs stack. Try to cripple ships and not destroy them, or you will suffer Reputation loss; unless they're Indies, then blow them away without fear of reprisal.
Watch your Morale during flights and after ship encounters. When looking at the crew manifest (Hotkey T), the injured filter can quickly show low morale and physically injured personnel. Some Traits will also affect your crew's morale. You cannot heal your crew effectively from the ship, you will need to go to a starport. When landing, Spice and Pay your crew first, then Heal or complete missions, leaving Repair and Refuel for last.
Flexibility is survival[edit | edit source]
Each Officer (captain included) can max out to 3 jobs. It is recommended that you only focus on 2 jobs to begin with, and get those to minimum level 5 asap. Don't take your third job for any Officer right away as you may need skills from a certain job type later and it pays to have flexibility.
Your crew all have different attributes, skills, and traits that make them unique. Pay attention to negative aspects and determine if they are a good fit for the team. While your starting crew and Officers usually start off above average, you hold ultimate control over their employment. You can dismiss crew from any urban zone, and most ports have some basic recruits available, while specialized recruits are only available from certain contacts. Higher influence with a contact enables recruiting higher-level crew members.
Talents come in many different types and interact with almost every aspect of the game. Once you are familiar with the basics, it's highly recommended to choose your crew's starting talents manually (select option in difficulty menu). You can always retrain Talents later on. Skill save Talents are great for the early game, as they will help to pass skills tests with an inexperienced crew. However, you do not gain experience from failed tests that were passed by a skill save.
Ship Combat, Ship Repair, and Crew Combat talents are restricted to certain positions, so be sure to take the character or ship's preferred position into account. Manipulation talents that re-roll, remove, or replace cards during Patrol, Spy, Blockading and Exploration are extremely helpful for those activities. Try to strike a balance between talents that reinforce your specialty while keeping good coverage across a wide variety of disciplines. You never know what's going to come up next and it pays to have an answer for anything.
Builds and concepts[edit | edit source]
You can start with an archetypal build as refined by the alpha testers and devs or you can build your own template. Many players also like to share builds within the Trese Brothers community. Links for the Star Traders Forums, Steam group, and Discord are available all throughout this Wiki.
Building a template gives you access to a wide array of character choices, from the starting ship and career options to your initial skill levels and a number of influential contacts. It can be daunting at first but don't give up.
High attributes can lead to better normal skill check rolls as you progress through the galaxy. You also receive bonus attribute points at the highest rank.
High skills also give you much better chances to succeed at specific types of skill checks. Bonus skill levels are given for higher ranks.
The highest ship rank gives you the most starting cash with which to choose any of the starting ships, with the ability to take a sliver of the difference between the ship and your total budget when choosing a less expensive and smaller ship.
Having the highest experience will net you the benefit of starting at a higher level with more unlocked talents for your jobs.
Finally, highest contact ranks give you access to 8 contacts with very high initial personal reputation and influence in the starting faction you chose as well as some outside of your starting faction. (The first 3 contacts are always within your starting quadrant. The remainder will be outside of that quadrant.)
Map and difficulty[edit | edit source]
Obviously, a quick look through the map generation system will show you that there are different scales for size and density. All maps are procedurally generated at the beginning of any new game where the map parameters are chosen. It uses a database of names and more are currently being added by the developers. Size and density are pretty well described as you move up and down each scale.
It is highly recommended to use the default map until you understand the game better.
Of course, there are many other maps that have been shared by the community members and can be found in their respective networks (see below). You can easily share your map seeds with other players there too.
Manually pick your Crew Talents.
Veterans of similar games and alpha testers will tell you that letting the computer pick your starting talents is a gamble. By picking your talents, you can customize your play style and make sure you have good talents to help you early on.
Talents are contextual abilities of crew members and are present a lot of variety; covering skill checks to combat abilities which can give you the upper hand.
Respeccing crew is a short-term gain, long-term pain method of adapting on the fly and should only be a last resort.
Leave room for flexibility[edit | edit source]
The first year of a chosen career will lead to your Captain, Officers, and crew leveling up and gaining Talents often. Especially if you take your time, avoid as much combat as possible, and focus on light missions. Please note that all non-officer crew can only have one job and those jobs are spread out among most of the basic ship operations. The early game focus should be on Skill Check talents and card manipulation Talents for the Patrol/Spy/Explore/Blockade mini-games.
Your Captain and Officers can have up to 3 career fields with all of the skill bonuses per level and Talents that come with them. These prestigious personnel can also train in jobs that are typically not possible with starting crew. Like Exo-Scouts, brave Explorers that use heavy weapons to take care of deadly planetary flora for example.
It is recommended that you pick only 2 jobs for each Officer (including your Captain) and level those up for the first few years. Your play-style might change and you want the flexibility to adapt to skills and talents needed.
Never forget that you can fire crew and officers as needed, and can also modify the ship with another officer cabin to replace a junior crew or 2 with an officer.
Focus on missions to level up early[edit | edit source]
Get to know your starting Contacts very well as some will be able to provide various types and difficulties of missions. This will help you build Reputation, Influence, Credits, and more early on. The experience you get from completing the missions and the more mundane tasks along the way will help your crew grow in the first few years. They can also gain you other types of benefits like using the reputation you are growing with a contact to buy recruits with specialized jobs, weaponry, introductions to new contacts, and buy better trade permits which can net you higher profits and unlock better value commodities to trade in.
Longer missions that require multiple steps and/or locations can also allow you to take part in other activities along the way to completing the missions like Trading, Patrolling, and Spying; just to name a few. You are not required to play any story missions, but the results can still affect your game-play.
Story missions can also net you major experience boosts for all of your crew. Steam users should also take note of the arrow and hotkeys. They help your game along with the hovering tool-tips.
Take time to read everything and pay close attention to your time and money.
This is still a turn based game, but note that missions all have time limits. Finishing a mission late will incur lower payment and possibly lower Reputation.
Regarding crew health and Morale: As you cannot heal everyone constantly on the ship, you need to keep your crew healthy and happy. Morale can be even tougher to manage, so making port relatively often can allow your crew to blow off steam in a Spice hall and be seen at a doctor to treat any wounds.
You can easily make mistakes by not slowing down and reading the time limits on things. I have made the mistake of being on a mission with a few steps and a nice payout with plenty of time to finish it only to get attacked and not pay attention to the repair time. I was a quadrant away with about 6 weeks to go and because I shot through the star-port repair and refuel screens, i did not notice that it took 3 months to repair. It left me with about 5K credits and a very angry crew that hadn't been paid in 3 months. That spiraled out of control with diminishing returns on the mission, the crew that left for better ventures, and crew that became crippled after their wounds weren't addressed in time. Do not gamble with anything in the early game.
Pay attention to rumors and events[edit | edit source]
Rumors help keep you informed as you fly around the galaxy defending your chosen Faction, Exploring wild planets, Trading commodities, etc. You will gain Talents that allow you to gain these rumors and the severity and types of rumors vary greatly. From Trade Bans and Embargoes between factions which prevent trade and even prices in exchanges to Quadrant wide Radiation storm which can cause havoc on ships and their crew flying between Zones.
Combat[edit | edit source]
If you are new to STF, then it will be tempting to get out in space and start fighting to some captains. This is very inadvisable early on as it will cost you dearly. At basic difficulty, your captain will not die and your officers will probably never die or mutiny, but you will still lose money and crew. Poor mistakes of fighting everyone you come across early on can end in tears and your career, especially if you do not know how to dig your way out.
Fighting early on in difficulties from Hard plus, and you will most likely die within a month or so of game time. Combat in STF comes in two forms, with ship combat in the Void to crew combat, wherever it is possible. While already pretty robust, the combat will only continue to grow and gain more options, tactics, and strategies. Small fighters and more varied ship components will add even more tools for captains looking to dominate the Void.
The best advice is to level up your crew, Talents, personal weapons from the locker; and maybe even ship components before seriously contemplating any combat.
Pay very close attention to Initiative and the cost that Talents use as going to -10 or lower in Initiative by using an action/Talent will pout your fighter into Penalty. This will cause your next turn Initiative roll to be much less than you would normally have.
Knowing your basic activities[edit | edit source]
So, how does a new captain get started and continue to honor their families' charter? Through trading and basic activities.
Once you have visited a zone, you can refer to your star atlas and galactic map to gain more detailed information. Please note that any zone that has an exchange will feature the last known or general supply and demand prices and that those prices are for single item sales, not bulk sales.
You can stash caches of commodities in any wilderness zone and refer to those stashes later via the status>ship>cargo>caches tab.
Pay close attention to trade linking zones, some items from industrial sell well in farms and population centers. Also see the Forums, Steam, and Discord for additional information. Also, note that selling in bulk will net you the biggest profits. You do not always have to buy trade permits, but you will have access to more commodities to trade in and higher profits by advancing through the TP ranks. Just do not move too fast doing it. A word to the wise: Do what you can to buy Trade permits, even simple level 1 permits, with other factions beyond your home faction. Not only will this allow you less hassle traveling through one of their systems, but it can help your rep overall. No captain wants to be hated by nearly every faction out in the Void. That being said, you cannot friend everyone. Just do your best to try and limit the number of factions you are negative with.
How do you grow reputation with a faction? You can do it by Patrolling over a system they own, taking part in Conflicts they are in and scoring a positive card for their side in the conflict, trade with them in their exchanges with the right Talents, and so much more.
Sometimes you will get cards that allow you to gain positive rep. You can also assist in any ongoing political agenda they are working on and also from faction Contacts. Also, note a few things about ship encounters. Indies don't matter and you can always retreat from them. Acknowledge whenever possible. You can get this from being friendly, or at least 10 reputation with the faction. You can surrender to pirates when you have no cargo to prevent a fight or death and still gain some experience. You can typically surrender peacefully to smugglers and merchants and risk the loss of only illegal cargo. There are Talents which help with MO and BH. Plus, the higher your ranks with trade, military, and edicts can mitigate things. Bribe down to nearly 0 and then retreat or surrender is always good too. Also, Victory Talents are boss!
Blockading prevents and interrupts traffic in a system. It can be used to help grow the reputation and gain combat chances as this is considered an aggressive military move. ➞Spying can net you Intel which can be used to help buy rep and influence while you make a little money for sharing those records. Exploring allows you to brave the hostile wilderness in search of loot. You will face dangers that can kill crew or even face crew combat with scavengers, pirates, or worst still: Xeno. Best of all, assuming you can find places to sell your finds, you will make a profit. With the right Talent choices, you can also gain rumors and contacts from any of these activities. Just be wary of the card games. Pay very close attention to the ratings provided by these zones before you play them. Use card manipulation Talents to change or even remove risk cards. You will also notice that other crew abilities can still be activated during these games, so it is best to pay close attention to what you are doing and what your choices are. Don't get greedy and don't forget to make port after suffering bad morale, crew damaging events.