When Thargoids attack a station there are three ways for players to respond:
- Rescuing civilians, their belongings, and other materials
- Fighting them in AX Conflict Zones
- Delivering commodities to the stations when they have stopped burning to restore station services.
This article covers the first option, rescuing civilians. It contains a walk-through of the process, suggestions for engineering rescue ships, hints, and tips for more efficient rescues and where to get more help.
When stations are attacked it begins just after the regular Thursday morning maintenance cycle. The attacked stations burn for a week until the following Thursday’s maintenance cycle, then stop burning and go into a state of repair. New stations may or may not be attacked at this time. For this reason, the weekly maintenance cycle has been nicknamed “Thargoid Thursday”.
Rescue ships appear nearby every burning station, to hand in items and passengers. They have mission boards, passenger boards, module transfer and limited outfitting (but notably no shipyard).
The system goes into a state of Incursion, spawning AX Conflict Zones. When the zones have been eliminated the system will return to one of the more normal states—none, boom, etc.
When the Incursion is defeated the mission boards on rescue ships will close. The passenger boards remain open until the next maintenance cycle.
Illogical as it seems, docking permission is still required to enter a burning station so don’t go in without it. Beware of floating debris and explosions inside. You can be knocked around into other debris or over unassigned landing pads, giving you a fine if you do not move away fast enough. Fines will prevent you from picking up passengers until you have paid them at the rescue ship.
Autodock is disabled in burning stations so a manual landing will be necessary. Only Economy Cabins are needed for rescues, and you can take as many Passenger Missions as you have space for. Unlike Luxury, First and Business Class Cabins people in Economy Cabins don’t mind sharing, so fill up all your spaces with jobs from the Passenger Board and get to the rescue ship without delay.
Also inside the burning station are Occupied Escape Pods, Damaged Escape Pods, Personal Effects, Wreckage Components, Encrypted Correspondence, and Black Boxes, along with some manufactured materials. The items can be handed in at the mission board on the rescue ship for credits and reputation. The materials are worth picking up for engineering or trading. Collecting them all will be covered in the next section—ships and engineering.
The mission and passenger boards at the rescue ships are an excellent way to quickly gain reputation with the Federation or Empire even if there is only one faction there. Do this by handing in several missions at a time and taking the reputation reward for each. To gain reputation in the fastest possible way possible, take the small jobs first since a mission with 20 passengers gives the same reputation reward as one with three.
Ships and Engineering
Any ship with a few heat sinks can land, pick up passengers and leave with minimal or no damage. Firing a heat sink before landing and another after launch is usually sufficient with a few extra in case you are delayed or knocked off course by explosions and debris.
An easy upgrade for is to go to Ram Tah and engineer the heat sinks for extra ammo. With enough heat sinks, you can sit inside the station, collect the items and materials first then land and pick up passengers.
Note: Picking up the passengers first, then collecting materials will cause the passengers to get even more impatient than they already are.
To collect the items you need cargo space and collector limpets. A 32t cargo bay is sufficient to pick up all the items. A class 3 collector limpet controller offers 2 active limpets; generally, this would be the minimum number of limpets needed.
For those who wish to further engineer their ships the upgrades to go for are Low Emissions Power Plant and Clean Drive Thrusters. These will extend the time between firing heat sinks and in some cases remove the need for them altogether.
Example 1 – A Python with Grade 5 Low Emissions, Grade 5 Clean Drives, both with Thermal Spread, can last almost 2 minutes between heat sinks.
Example 2 – A Federal Corvette with Grade 3 Low Emissions, Grade 3 Clean Drives, Thermal Spread on the Power Plant and Drag Drives on the Thrusters can sit in a burning station and stay at 64-67% heat. It needs no heat sinks.
The materials you find in burning stations are most of the ones you need for the first few levels of Low Emissions and Clean Drives. While it is likely more efficient to gather materials using these methods, if you are there with collectors go ahead and grab them.
You’ll notice that all builds are shieldless to carry more passengers, compensated for by having armor and hull reinforcements where the ship allows them. Resistances are unimportant, only collision damage is taken inside a station so they are engineered for maximum hull points.
Editor's note: Generally, traveling without shields is risky. Your ship can be severely damaged by explosions, which also force your ship into debris. It is recommended to equip shields, at least until you're more familiar with how the inside of a damaged station acts.
Hints and Tips
AX Conflict Zones
The AX Conflict Zones are normally dealt with quickly, usually by the end of the weekend. To make the most of the mission boards on rescue ships use them in the first two days in case the Incursion is defeated early. Remember, once this happens the mission board will close and only the passenger board will stay open until the station stops burning. You can hand in items to the Search and Rescue Contact but the payout and rep increase is much smaller.
Passengers are an impatient lot. They start messaging you almost immediately. Ignore the messages. You can’t get to the rescue ship any faster than you’re already going and the messages will vanish once the passengers are handed in.
While the animation plays to return you to the surface and launch, target the rescue ship or burning station in the nav panel so you can just take off and go. Filter by stations to make this faster.
Mission Board Refresh Timer
With any ship capable of carrying 150 or more passengers, it is possible to empty the passenger board of a burning station within a few trips. The board will slowly refresh over the next 10-15 minutes, during which you can do one of 2 things;
Go to another system and empty the board there, by which time the board at the original system will usually be replenished.
- Swap the passenger cabins for a cargo bay and collector limpets to gather the items and materials.
- Some people like to collect the items first then land and pick up passengers but it is more productive and efficient to alternate between passengers and items.
- Before doing your first rescues dock at the rescue ship and transfer any collectors and cargo racks you need. While the passenger board on the burning station is refreshing itself use the mission board on the rescue ship. Take the jobs requiring escape pods etc. then as you collect them in the burning station you will be notified when you have enough to hand in.
Suggested Rescue Ship
The Corvette is the king of rescue ships. It needs no heat sinks, carries up to 212 passengers: its agility is very useful in the tight spaces of a burning station. Ironic considering that many people use burning station rescues to quickly grind the ranks for a Corvette. Those who stay on to do rescues end up buying two.
Assistance from PDES
The PDES (Post Disaster Evacuation Service) is a dedicated rescue squadron. We are always happy to welcome and help players who are new to this activity. We have the tools in place such as submission forms, weekly tables and a plugin for EDMC to automatically track your rescues, courtesy of Squadron Leader Nimmo.
Thanks to CMDR Phill P, Squadron Coordinator for PDES for contributing this guide. Join the PDES Discord for assistance from Post Disaster Evacuation Service.