A Welcome Change Of Pace

The Wormwood’s Bane calls in at Simbad’s Refuge

And before you know it, it’s Buckyball week yet again! It’s race number 4 in the Magic 8 Buckyball series and this time it’s the On The Rocks Race. This race has been brought to us by the incomparable Cmdr Psykit (not that you can tell with all the marvellous pinky neon stuff). “But why is it called ‘On The Rocks’?” I hear you all cry. Well, lets go through the details and we’ll see if we can’t figure out the answer!

After all the derring-do of the last three races (docking with as many stations as you can within a time limit, rollving across SRV hostile terrain, squeezing a shield less ship through a tiny tunnel at stupid speeds) we have a little change of pace. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this race is more relaxed than the others. Shields? Yup! Refuelling at stops? Yup! Scooping? Yup! Repairs? Uh-huh. Just an old fashioned call in at five stations and distribute beer mats race. Oh! And pick up some water on the way back. Sound straight forward? Well, yes, actually, this time it is.

There is a small catch. If you do make a mistake (and on my first attempt I made a BIG one) then it’s a long, long way back to the start. You have to pick up five Buckball Beer Mats from Rebuy Prospect at Fullerene C60 and distribute one each at the following five stations – Big Pappa’s Base, Freeholm, Jack’s Town, Simbad’s Refuge and Lone Rock. Then, collecting 5tons of water from Jack’s Town on the way back to sell to Rebuy Prospect. The furthest station being almost 266ly from the start this is quite a journey. But, as you can see, it takes you to some pretty stunning locations.

One problem I encountered was that one of the stations is in the Artemis system and, trying to plot a course there, I plotted one to Artemis Lodge in the Celeano system by mistake. So that run was aborted. It was a very long way back to Fullerene C60! Serves me right. The next run went a lot better, although I kept spelling the names of the systems wrong in the galmap and wasting time. But, at least I managed to get a time down on my second attempt! Which is a record for me!

Dropping off beer mat number 2 at Freeholm

Before any attempt it’s a good idea to study the galmap around the systems you will be visiting. There are no rules regarding the order but logistics dictates that it will be easiest to visit Jack’s Town to pick up your five tons of water last. Therefore, after studying this particular area in space, consulting Psykit’s distance table which she so helpfully placed on the race forum page, and drawing a rough diagram, I decided the stations should be visited in this order:

  • Simbad’s Refuge
  • Freeholm
  • Lone Rock
  • Big Pappa’s Base
  • Jack’s Town

Simbad’s Refuge

A really stunning location! Set in a rich ring system surrounding an eye popping lava world. Just supercruise here although, because it’s in a ring system its best to approach from a 45 degree angle to the rings on the side of the planet the station is facing. Docking here went ok although I have a habit of over shooting the landing pad and have to fumble around on manoeuvring thrusters before the clamps take hold. Then I drop off a mat and relaunch back out to admire the view.

Freeholm

Run by the East India Company this is in the Artemis system and is 2000ls or so from the main star. So, takes a little while to supercruise out there. It’s in an asteroid belt this time so there’s no need for a special approach, just need to pay attention so that I don’t overshoot it and have to loop back to be able to drop out of supercruise next to the station (known by commanders as the “Loop Of Shame”).

Lone Rock, lit by the purple light of Othime

Lone Rock

The furthest station from the starting point we visit, this really is a beautiful place. It is set very close to the main star, Othime, which happens to be a brown dwarf. Everything is bathed in its ethereal, purple glow. I could sit out here for ages, mesmerized by the way the light makes everything look so dreamlike. I just couldn’t capture just quite how lovely it is here in the screenshot I’m afraid. You’ll just have to come here yourselves.

Big Pappa’s Base

Another stunning location! This is where it all started to go wrong though. After exiting Lone Rock I found myself forgetting how to spell the system name “Andhrimi” putting an “n” in where there should be an “m” and wondering why in the Great Braben’s Name the galmap couldn’t find it! Eventually, after rechecking my notes I found my error and, after cursing my ineptitude, managed to plot a course here. Another ring system surrounding a beautiful blue gas giant. Here, though I got confused as to which end of the station was which and wasted yet more time finding the slot. I should have gone with my first choice of end as it was there but just hidden a little because of my angle of approach. Got there in the end though.

Another glorious location!

Jack’s Town

Again, yet another beautiful place. No ring system, just a lowly station in a hollowed out asteroid that happens to be orbiting a beautiful, serene, Earth like world. No problems here. It’s time to drop off that last beer mat, collect the five tons of water, and make the long eight jump journey back to Rebuy Prospect. But yet again I couldn’t remember how to spell “Fullerene” to plot my way back to the start and wasted yet more valuable time trying to sort this out. But, eventually, the route was found and the journey back began.

Approaching Jack’s Town

The biggest problem with this race is that you are carrying a rare commodity. And there is a good change you will be interdicted. In a Cobra these can be easily shaken off but those interdictions cost time. Luckily though I didn’t get interdicted once. And a good thing too or my terrible time would have been even worse!

And there I am! Number 13, last, on the leaderboard. Again! It’s a bit of a long race though. The time barrier seems to be at the forty minute mark. I’m sure I can do a lot better, and, now the Rush Fleet is complete, I should have time to do at least one more run. And I know how to spell all the system names this time. So, all you Buckyball virgins out there, why not have a crack at this race? Beating 55:13 ought to be a cinch! Trust me, becoming a part of the Buckyballing community is highly recommended. They are a wonderful bunch of people and so friendly if you happen to bump into one during the race. You don’t have to use a regulation Cobra if you don’t want to. As always, there is an unlimited class too. Just go here to read up on the details and enter your time. You’ll visit some stunning places and have a lot of fun. And maybe, just maybe, you might be able to figure out why the race is called “On The Rocks”.

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