Space Engineers

Space Engineers

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The Pirate Handbook For Anti-Grief Survival
By Saxmo
A guide on how to survive from the eyes of a pirate, this is more than just a survival guide!

This is an all-in-one survival training handbook written from multiple points of view. I am a 17-year U.S. Army veteran with real-world survival training and combat experience. I am also a space professional with both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Spaceflight Operations. I am a Space Engineer with over 8600 hours of game play. I have extensively used those experiences to pirate and grief other players and have ran very successful pirate based factions. Now I will bring all this together to help you proactively play on a multiplayer server and defend against others of my kind.
   
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Introduction
Welcome to Space Engineers!

My name is Saxmo. As of January 21 2023, I have played over 8,996 hours on Space Engineers. In that time i have played survival solo, joined factions, and managed several factions myself. I currently own the Dread Pirate Guild (DPG) Faction, which has a chapter on every Keen NA Server. We are a pirate faction that operates in an "every man for themselves" tactic, employing the Pirate Code as our guiding principles. I fashion myself as "The Helpful Pirate" because I may grief engineers that have built up ships and bases when they are offline, but i also help new players when they are online. And no, I DO NOT grief the people i help, that's just bad business. I try to help new players during their early game, so that they can defend themselves in the late-game. This is in line with the second rule of the Pirate Code: "Befriend others wisely"

Check out the Dread Pirate Guild discord server here: https://discord.gg/b6ugbuVGTj

I am a 17-year U.S. Army Veteran with training in real-world survival and combat tactics, and have used that experience to gain an edge in-game against other players. But during much of my experience as a griefer I have come across players that clearly didn't know how to play the game. I got tired of seeing little starter bases that were already griefed before if go there. Not because i wanted the resources, but because i know that event probably lead to someone rage-quitting the game.

Aside from being a retired soldier, I am also an avid space enthusiast and professional, having earned a Masters Degree in Space Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Commercial Space Operations. I may play as a pirate, but my main goal with Space Engineers is for the community to grow. "Any space is good space." That motivation is why I am writing this guide, to pass on tricks I have learned during my extensive game play, real world experience in the military and space industries to players like you. So that hopefully more people have the tools to enjoy the PVP game, and less rage-quit all together.

I'm going to walk you threw PVP survival, teaching you the basics step by step with my personal insights. I hope that providing you with these perspectives will give you a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in playing on a multiplayer survival server as well as help you become an active, resilient, and proactive member of the Space Engineer community.

This handbook is written for the new player just entering an official Space Engineers Server with no mods, or as most in the community refer to as "Vanilla". If you plan on playing on any of the private servers, some with extensive modification requirements, some of the elements of this guide will still be valuable, but there may be some drastic differences in specific game play that this guide is not meant to address. Please refer to server-specific or mod-specific guides for those instances.
Know Your Enemy (A poem)
My attempt to define a Griefer -
A Griefer is a person that:
  • might honor the pirate code
  • might give you a warning
  • might teach others to defend themselves
  • might leave nothing left
  • might steal your stuff from under your nose
  • might wait for you to go offline
  • might fight you face to face
  • might be a long term member of an honorable faction
  • might grind everything down to bare frames and leave a cargo container full of the rest
  • might crash your ships into each other for the hell of it
  • might leave your ship fully intact just to see if you will return
  • might brag about their exploits global chat
  • might be a one and done tourist
A griefer may be unpredictable
but one thing is sure: they will try to cause you grief
- be prepared

My attempt to define pirates -
Pirates are people that:
  • will not be a one and done tourist
  • will not brag about their exploits in global chat
  • will not leave your ship fully intact just to see if you will return
  • will not crash your ships into each other for the hell of it
  • will not grind everything down to bare frames and leave a cargo container full of the rest
  • will be a long term member of pirate a faction
  • will fight you face to face
  • will also wait for you to go offline
  • will steal your stuff from under your nose
  • will leave nothing left
  • will teach other to defend themselves
  • ... might give you a warning
  • will honor the pirate code

Pirates are predictable
they will steal your stuff: with as much honor as possible
- be prepared
The Pirate Code
The Pirate Code,
Adapted from various online resources for the Keen Universe by the Dread Pirates
Saxmo, Jaarbear, CommanderCrypto, StealthyNinjas, etal.
Adopted by the Dread Pirates Guild of NA 11
Circ - 8th Anniversary, Before the Warfare II Hacker Supernova

1) Every Person For Themselves - If aid is not asked, aid is not rendered.

2) Befriend Others Wisely - Render aid to others, in the Guild or not, when it is asked.
Never exploit the trust of people we have aided.
Avoid Insider Threats - Keep your bay/kit set to "No Share". If you want another player to join
your exploits, build another kit and set it to their ownership.
Beware toxic factions, Not all pirates are honorable.
Only recruit those proven loyal and trustworthy.
Never set your faction to "accept all" unless you have safeguards in place to avoid insider threats.

3) Respect Fellow Pirates - One should render aid to other guild members if it is asked of them, this includes to partake in a raid. Knowingly targeting guild members and others openly following The Pirate Code is strictly forbidden.
Do not compromise Guild member locations.
Do not congregate in large groups, distance is our ally.

4) Finders Keepers - If it is found, it is free. Whoever first spotted the booty is named Raid Leader and has their first choice of Spoils.

5) The Right of Parlay - STOP raiding if the victim asks for parlay. It is the responsibility of the Raid Leader to agree to and honor the victim's requests. Raid Leader must inform the rest of the guild of the agreed upon terms.

6) Honor Among Thieves - Raid Leader must share the rest of the Spoils
with all other Raid and/or Guild members.
Pregame - Choosing a Server
Choosing A Server

When you are on the server selection screen, you are faced with your first choice "which server to choose?" there are 3 number stats to the far right of the screen that will help you with this decision.


The first stat on the left is Player count. this shows how many people are currently playing on each server with a maximum capacity of 16. Which server you want to play on depends on your prefered environment. Do you want a very chatty group an high population dencity? or do you want a quiet expierence with very fiew other players? Make sure you take time zone and time of day into consideration if this choice is important to you. There is usually high trafic after normal school/work hours. So a server you thought was very quiet in the morning might explode with traffic about 3-6 pm local time.

The second stat is the "Ping" of the server. The higher the ping, the farther away from your physical location that server is. The farther that distance, the more lag you will experience during your game play. A list of server physical locations was kindly provided by Keen representative LiebesRitter in the Steam discussion forum Here

The third stat is the Mod number. This shows just how many modifications that server requires you to have loaded in order for you to play on that server. Note that if you choose a game with mods, it will automatically download thoes mods to your computer. this can be a very lengthy process and can both slowdown the speed of your game load time, and may also make the game you experience either unstable or laggy depending on what mods are running and your own computer's ability to handle the processing. For the purpose of this guide, I am going to assume you choose a vanilla server with no mods.

All servers are PVP
Tips For Survival:
All servers are PVP, you ARE being hunted. Basic Don’ts:

- "Don't Share" your kit/bay. When you build a new one "Share with
faction" is default. This allows other players to spawn at your grid.
- Don’t send your GPS in global chat. Whisper using "/w (player name)"
or go to the "K" menu, "Comms" tab, and click on the players name.
- Don’t build an antenna or beacon, they are useless except for putting a
target on you.
- Don’t use the hand grinder on other people’s stuff, you gain reputation
with the Space Pirates (SPRT) NPC faction (Ship grinders don't do this).
Green Rep with SPRT will spawn bounty contracts on you, giving
other players your GPS.
- Don’t stay near a “Strong Unknown Signal”. They spawn between 35
and 120 km from players. All players can see it and use it for hunting.
- Don’t set up your operations on/under planets/moons:
1) You spawn in jetpak range (~40km) of an NPC trade station
(a noob kill zone)
2) Any digging into the ground creates voxel deformations that can be
seen up to 20km away.
3) The game streams data when you are ~3.45km (render range) of
another grid.
4) Your grid can be seen ~3.45km away and they “sparkle” in contrast
to any background color.
5) Cockpit targeting can lock on a grid up to 2 km away, and even
lock onto grids that are 2km underground.
Pregame - Choosing a Faction
Faction Selection

When you finally choose a server to play on and your game loads, depending on the server you may first be greeted by the faction selection screen. This shows a list of all the factions on that server and gives you an option to join one. Note that some factions are immediately join-able, and others may require a leader of the faction to accept your request. It is highly suggested you play on your own for the first couple of days. Pay attention to global chat and whispers. Try to take note of any names and factions that make questionable comments and those that help others. Know what your getting yourself into before joining up with someone.

It is common for there to be a faction actively seeking new recruits. Some of these factions are honorable and legitimate. que the shameless plug for my own faction: After every server wipe, i try to get on as soon as possible to create a faction on every NA server. We are the Dread Pirate Guild (DPG) we mainly play as an "every pirate for themselves" style faction and strictly adhere to the pirate code. Others factions might be quite dubious in the player experience they provide. Here are three major types that most dishonorable factions share something in common with:-

The Ponsi Scheme
This faction is after two things: your time, and your PCU. PCU are Performance Cost Units. it is the limiting factor to how big you can build in the game. The red flag you should watch out for is them asking you to constantly build on their grid. Usually it's a massive build that requires several people to pitch in. They lure you in with a false sense of belonging and help, and probably promised they would be the best faction on the server, much like gangs IRL. 90% of the time the massive build gets stolen by either someone inside the faction or someone that learned its location.

The Warmongers
This faction likes to pic fights with anyone and everyone. They try to stir up trouble and talk down to anyone not willing to fight. Usually this is who ended up with the mega build from the ponsi scheme above. if you take them up on their offer to fight, it will almost guaranteed be a bait and switch. They might even agree to show you a medium sized ship that looks like it can hold its own. You show up for the fight and see a behemoth approaching form out of nowhere capable of taking on at least 5 ships of your size. If they recruit you, they will expect you to build a warship of your own, or contribute to said mega-build, in order to lure unsuspecting players into an ambush. Once you go down that path, your reputation on the server can take a major hit.

No Honor Among Thieves
This is a faction open to all who apply. They let you get built up a little bit, then grief you from within. if you join a faction that is open to all, don't leave your kit open to faction, this is an extremely easy exploit that lets others know your location regardless of their intentions.
ALL SPAWNERS (MEDICAL ROOM/SURVIVAL KIT) DEFAULT SETTING IS "SHARE WITH FACTION" CHANGE IT TO "NO-SHARE" IMMEDIATELY!
Pregame - Spawn Locations
Spawn Location

The next screen is the spawn location. There are a couple stats provided to you that differ between locations. it seems like a simple screen, but making a decision here without knowing the PVP implications can spell disaster.
  • Difficulty: This is a subjective "Easy", "Normal", "Hard" designation based on how heavy the gravity is, and how oxygen rich the atmosphere is. the assumption being that Earth is the easiest, and anything else gets progressively harder. This does not take into account the PVP aspect of the multiplayer game, and does not reflect the "population dencity" of each location.

  • Oxygen: This literally is the percentage of oxygen in the location's atmosphere. This determines if you are able to walk around safely without being in an pressurized ship/station. Note that "Oxygen" is not the same as "Atmosphere". Atmosphere determines if you are able to use wind turbines for power or atmospheric thrusters for movement later on. Alien, Earthlike, Pertam, Mars, Titan, and Triton all have an atmosphere that can run both wind turbines and atmospheric thrusters, while Moon, Europa, Space Pod, and Space Suit do not.

  • Gravity: This shows how much gravity a location has with 1 being equal to Earth, and higher/lower values being higher or lower than Earth's respectively. This matters because the higher the gravity, the more resource intensive leaving that location's gravity will be. This is very important because the less gravity at a location, the easier it is to move large ships there.
The description "You will spawn near other players on the planet or the moon." or "in space" is the first real hint of anything related to PVP. Even though it seems like a straight forward statement, it has a significant difference between planets, moons, and space.

A Planet
Spawning on a planet (Alien, Earthlike, Mars, Titan, and Pertam) usually places you within jet-pack distance (plus a hydrogen bottle) of 1 Non-Player-Character (NPC) trade station (20-30km). You can find the Global Positioning System grid coordinate of your closest station in the seat/cockpit and the Hydrogen bottle in the H2/O2 generator of your spawn pod. These stations don't pose a threat themselves, and can be very helpful with converting components, resources, and Space Credits. The threat comes from other players. If you are in jet-pack distance to the local trade station, that means that any other player at that spawn location could also be within the same distance. This essentially places you in a "noob kill zone". Thankfully planets are so large that if a griefer chose a planet for their hunting grounds they would most likely be using a noticeable ship to scout multiple locations.

Mars can fall between the two kill zone types of the size of a planet and the size of a moon because of it's low-ish gravity. it's not 1, but it's not .25 either. Keep in mind that a person jet-packing on Mars may have access to 2 or 3 trade station spawn areas on one hydrogen bottle.

A Moon
Spawning on a moon (Moon, Europa, Titan) is another animal. Moons are so small and gravity is so low that you spawn within jet-pack distance of the entire surface and orbit including all the trade stations around that location. This makes the moons prime hunting ground for griefers looking to prey on new players.

In Space (Pod)
Spawning in space is unique. It does not stay to the normal convention of placing you near a trade station. instead, you are placed within 50km of another player. This player can be online and actively playing, or offline in a cryo chamber or bed. Either situation basically turns that player into the focus of your spawn. This can be a blessing and a curse. If you are a vanilla player not looking to grief, being within 50km of another vanilla player in the middle of no-where is not that big a deal and you will probably never cross paths. On the other hand. A hunter has tricks and tactics to find nearbye players, even at 50km, but they may take time and a lot of dedication. Most griefers stick to moons and planets, but if there are only 2 people on a server, it is very easy to keep spawning and saving GPS points for someone to zero in on your location. This is why most seasoned players prefer to build a mobile base and jump to a new location every couple days, to prevent someone from Space Spawn Spam hunting their location.

Space Suit
Worse than walking the plank. You spawn in a random location in deep space with only your tools. you only hope is to either backspace and re-spawn, or hope someone answers your pleas for help in global chat and picks you up before you run out of power. (...Unlikely...)
Pregame - Spawn Grids
Wile cycling between the spawn locations, you may notice that there are 3 different spawn ship types. The two spawn pods and a space pod. The Two Spawn pods are small grids, while the space pod is a large grid. It is important to note that the Spawn grids are temporary ships by default. if you log out or re-spawn in another spawn grid, the previous one you had will be deleted along with anything you built onto it. The traditional way of dealing with this temporary flag problem is to use your spawn grid for a very short time until you can establish another grid, either a ship or a station, that makes use of (or can store) all the components of your spawn grid.


Drop Pod
The drop pod is the standard spawn for almost all the planets and moons. It is a very limited capacity small grid ship with the appearance of an emergency escape pod. it has a very limited hydrogen, battery, and cargo capacity. At the bare minimum to make the drop pod maneuverable you need to add a gyroscope and a remote control block. it would also be suggested to reorient the atmospheric thrsuters so you have more control. Because of all the extra work required to make the drop pod maneuverable, most people don't even try. They attempt to build a base at ground fall. If you explore the surface of any planet or moon, you will find several small outposts where someone tried to use only the materials from their drop pod, and gave up or got raided.

Drop Pod (Moon Rover)
The Moon Drop Pod is a converted version of the above description that has an added gyroscope, conveyor junction, cockpit, and 4 wheels. combined with the low gravity of the moon, this rover is versatile. it has an un-used parachute and atmospheric thrusters which would allow it to land on almost any planet or moon. with correct wheel and gyro settings, I have survived 104 m/s impacts on the moon with zero damage in this spawn grid (although it has been known to disintegrate during a majority of the attempts). Here are the settings you want to change:

  • Increase Wheel power, strength, speed, and friction to max
  • Decrease Wheel height to lowest (-)
  • Increase Gyro power to max
  • Lower hydrogen thruster override to zero, and turn it on.

It will fly like a helicopter with wheels! lol.

Space Pod
The Space Pod is unique for two major reasons. First, it spawns you in space rather than within jet pack distance of an NPC station. Second, the Space Pod is a large grid. This means it has much more power available from its batteries, it can take a bit more of a beating, and it can be converted into a station and back to a ship. This craft can maneuver on the Moon and Europa quiet well, but falls like a rock when it hits atmosphere. Perhaps the best part of the Space Pod is the fact that it comes with 8 Ion Thrusters. Each ion thruster alone holds 80 thruster components, this small package is a quick gold mine worth of credits if you can manage to get it to a trade station that buys ship components.

Regardless of what grid you decide to start in, the most important blocks on any grid you will ever build are your power source and your survival kit. The survival kit acts as your spawn point for you to return to that location if you die or log out. it is also a refinery that can convert stone that you drill from the ground into resources as well as an assembler that converts those resources into components to build with. if your grid looses power, or your survival kit is turned off or ground down, you cannot spawn back at that point and must get there some other way or completely abandon it and start again. when moving your supplies from the temporary ship to your permanent settlement, make sure both grids have power at the very least, and then transfer your kit as soon as possible. then finish grinding the rest of the spawn grid.
Removing the Spawn Grid Temporary Flag
The problem with the traditional play style of grinding down your spawn grid and recycling the components into completely new grid is that it can take too long for some people to complete in one sitting. They log out of the game because life happens, and come back to find everything they did either lost power or was de-spawned because it was temporary. To avoid this frustration i have a couple tricks to keep your spawn grid permanent. There are two primary methods (with some variation) of removing the temporary flag from the spawn grid. Note that these require the use of merge blocks that might not yet be available due to progression. if that is the case go to the G menu and click on the Progression tab to see what the prerequisite blocks are. All of the materials needed are available on the original grid without any mining or refining, you would just need to either partially or fully grind other blocks down to get the components.

Beam/Blob Method (small and large grids)
I have only tried this method once, only to test and confirm that it does indeed work. First, build a beam or blob of blocks extending from the Spawn grid making sure that the the beam/blob of armor frames has more blocks than the spawn grid itself (number of blocks can be view in the K menu, Info tab) (the blocks of the beam do not need to be fully built, just frames will work). Next, grind off the block that connects the spawn grid to the beam. The temporary flag will stay on the grid that has more blocks. From here simply grind down the beam and your done.

Voxel-Merge Method (large grid only)
The second method is to merge the spawn grid with a station. Only a large grid can be converted to a station, and placing a large grid into the voxels (the ground of a planet/moon/asteroid) automatically converts it to a station. The most popular way of removing the temporary flag form a spawn grid is to build a merge block into an asteroid with the "forks" pointing out, and another merge block on your spawn grid pointing out. the materials needed for the 2 merge blocks are available by grinding down the air vent above the control seat, and the catwalk above that, and 2 ion thrusters (this will most likely be too much for your engineer to carry, so you will need to drop off excess supplies in the cargo container. You don't need to grind the entire thruster, you just need the large steel tubes. Anything extra should fit int the cargo container, or can be welded back into the thruster after welding the large steel tubes to the merge blocks. Once you build the merge blocks, move your spawn grid so it's merge bock's forks are touching the forks of the voxel merge block. The merge blocks will attract each other and eventually "snap" together, making 1 grid and converting your spawn grid into a station, removing the temporary flag. From here you can turn off either or both merge blocks, convert your ship back to a ship, and grind the merge block that is in voxels, This method is the most popular, but is also risky because there is a possibility of merging a bit of your ship into the voxels. if that happens, it cannot be converted back into a ship unless all of the converging voxels are drilled away or all the converging blocks are ground down. Note that blocks that don't visually take an entire block worth of space, have an entire block worth of a "hit box". this is the space that that block can interact with. items such as lights, cat walks, and control panels all have this invisible space that can "merge" into voxels even tho they are not visually touching.

Station-Merge-Method (large grids only)
This is a method I use every game and I consider the quickest. instead of placing the "station" merge block into a voxel, you place a merge block floating by itself in space, careful not to bump it, build a control panel on it, use that to access the K menu Info tab and click the "convert to station" button (the merge block does not need power to convert to a station, nor to merge to another grid). Then, snap the ship and station together as explained above. This has the added bonus that you just need to convert the entire grid to a ship and your good to go. This method also eliminates the possibility of accidentally merging your ship into voxel.

Middle-Man Method (variation specifically for moon rover)
Because a small grid cannot be converted into a station, it was long thought that the above merge methods would not work, and the small grid drop pods were doomed to deletion. Thankfully, I have discovered a method that can quickly remove the temporary flag of the small grid. it works similarly to the Voxel-Merge method, but requires a 'middle-man' grid conversion from large grid to small grid. First, you place a large grid armor block into the ground, and place a rotor facing sideways on top of that. Next completely build a control panel on that grid (you do not need to completely build the armor block and rotor, just frames will work). *Carefully* grind off the rotor head. Access the K menu and Control Panel tab. On the left side select the rotor from the list of blocks. In the middle screen, scroll down to "add small rotor head". This creates the middle man between the large grid station, and the small grid drop pod. here it would be helpful to toggle the "lock rotor" check box as well to keep the merge block's magnetic trait from rotating them out of alignment later. Next place about 3 small grid armor blocks on the small rotor head and then completely build a small grid merge block at the end of the armor blocks with the forks facing out and a merge block on your small drop pod. you will need small steel tubes from the suspension (don't grind it completely, it will still work half-built) and computers from the ore detector and antenna. Just like the Space Pod, maneuver your drop pod so the merge blocks snap.

Obviously the Middle-Man method requires your drop pod be able to maneuver to the merge block/rotor combination. For this reason, it is usually easier to use this method with the Moon Rover version of the drop pod. Sometimes you can get lucky and place the blocks "just so" that your able to merge the drop pod immediately with the rotor middle man, but this is usually not the case. i have also tested and successfully converted the non-rover drop pod into a functioning ship using a gyroscope and a remote control block, but this might require repositioning the thrusters to have more attitue control. Again, more time and resource intensive where the Beam Method would have probably been faster and less stressful. because of this, I don't personally save any of my non-rover variants. I either play exclusively from the moon rover drop pod, or the space pod.
Military tools in your survival belt
Here are some tactics, techniques, and procedures from the military world that absolutely apply to game play. The better you understand them, the more of a chance you have of not just surviving, but dominating your survival game.

COMSEC - Communications Security - Turn off your spawn pod's and suit antenna immediately this should be step one in any survival PVP game. I believe i have come across some grids where the game accidentally turned on an antenna or beacon where it was originally turned off before a server restart. To prevent this, simply grind your antenna and beacon as soon as possible. All an antenna or beacon do is put a target on you unless you absolutely want people that span the spectrum of good and bad intentions to find you.

OPSEC - Operational Security - "Loose lips sink ships" Keep your GPS location a closely guarded secret, even to the extent of not sharing it with fellow faction members. Here are a couple ways others can get a hold of your GPS location:
  • Global Chat: Do not post your location in global chat. Griefers like myself and others diligently watch global chat when people are being particular chatty about "needing assistance, supplies, or a taxi ride" to see if someone accidentally posts a GPS coordinate. if one is dropped in global chat, it temporarily shows up in the K menu GPS tab as a grayed-out point at the bottom of the GPS point list. all they have to do is double click that point and now it is a part of their list of saved points, and can even jump to you.
  • Bounty Contracts: Avoid hand-grinding other peoples grids as much as possible. You'll notice when you hand grind a grid that does not belong to you, you will get a red text on your screen of a negetive reputation with the players faction (only if they are in a faction) and a positive green text for reputation with "SPRT" (This does not happen when using the small and large grid ship grinder blocks). SPRT is the game's NPC Space Pirate Faction. You can check your faction reputation in the K menu Faction tab, filter to "non-player factions" and selecting SPRT faction. By default your red (unfriendly) with SPRT. But the more you hand grind others grids, the more you gain rep. You need to be careful because if you get into the green (friendly) reputation with SPRT, the game spawns Bounty contracts on you at the NPC trade stations. Other players can accept those contracts. For an hour, that player gets your exact GPS location, updated every couple of minutes. If you find out that you have a bounty contract on your head, avoid any of your expensive assets like the plague. There are 2 methods to lowering your SPRT reputation:

    First, you can accept an escort contract at any orbital/space based NPC trade station. When the game spawns a ship to be escorted, you can just jet-pack with it. The escortee sits at it's spawn location for a couple minutes to give you a chance to manuver close to it and get ready to move with it. Once it starts flying, you can follow it. A minute or 2 into the flight, you will see SPRT raider small grid ships spawn ahead of you. if your neutral or friendly with SPRT, they will not fire at you, only at the escorted ship. You can jetpack rite up to them and hand-grind them, lowering your SPRT reputation (and getting some free supplies in the process).

    The second method only works if your on a server that has SPRT faction NPC trade stations. Simply accpet contracts, and fail them. This will lower your SPRT reputation.

  • Another way someone can get your GPS location is by the "tracking device" method. This is a trick with the contracts block. The "tracking device" is a small grid block that can be easily powered and hidden. All that's needed is a Magnetic plate, a small 1x1x1 battery, and a control panel. access the control panel so you know what the grid is named. Then attach it to the target. The way the "Search" or "Repair" contracts work is that if you own a grid, and it is powered, you can create a contract that will give you its GPS location just like the Bounty contract above.

PHYSEC-Physical Security- This is the concept of preventing unauthorized access to your grids.
Passive Physical Secuirty-
  • Armor and Doors- At the very basic, this involves using Armor and Doors to physically deny access to the internal functional areas of your grid. Even if you think it is a waste of time since they can be ground threw, that also forces the foe to manage their own SPRT rep much more closely when taking on your grid by hand.
  • Share With- Make sure you know who you want to have access to what blocks and when. This can be done in the K menu, Control Panel Tab. Most functional blocks have a "Share With" setting allowing you to select who can use it with the options being "No Share", "Share With My Faction" and "Share With All". The most important blocks this applies to is your doors, spawners (Medical Room, Survival Kit), controlers (Flight seat, Helm, Control Seat, etc...), and connectors. My favorite ships to steal is when the victim made my job much easier by making either one or all of these "Share with all". A tell tale sign of a spawner being open to all is it showing up in the spawn menu. if you see a spawn menu option that has an owner, and your not the owner... someone made a big mistake. All I got do to is spawn there, avoid/grind any interior turrets, sit in a control seat, and jump the ship away with very minimal grinding or hacking required. You would be surprised, but I've actually stolen a faction's mega without grinding a single block, (it was understandable why they did it tho, they were a collection of factions working on one build, so they wanted everyone to have access).
  • Connectors- Connectors are the worst! There is a method of connecting a ship to another gird you don't own using a connector. All the attacker needs to do is change their own connector ownership to "Nobody" and they can connect to any connector that is on, regardless of the victim's "Share" setting on their own connector WHEN USING CONNECTORS, PLEASE TURN THEM OFF WHEN NOT IN USE! turning off the connector prevents it from being able to connect, even using the above method.
  • Safe Zones- The ultimate passive physical security in the game is Safe Zones. They have filters that allow specifically what players, factions, grids, and activities you allow inside your safe zone. but be weary of them, Safe Zones are not exploit-proof and can be abused, leading anyone using one into a false sense of security. Safe Zones require Zone Chips to operate (1 zone chip = 1 hour of operation)

Active Physical Security - Here gets the good stuff... Turrets.
The key to using turrets is understanding their uses and limitations. Placing a turret is much more than just a "firing arc" as some sci-fi/naval combat games might make you think.

Online Vs. Offline

Settings

Ammo Supply

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Solar Power
I use a solar panel and battery backup power system on ALL my grids. The reasoning is simple: you always have power, no matter what else is happening on your gird. Here are some Solar power tips and tricks i have learned over the years:

- Sandwiched solar panels still produce power. You can literally place 2 solar panels back to back and face one of them toward the sun. They will BOTH generate power. this can potentially double the output of any solar array.

- The sun rotates around the Y axis of the solar system's core.
Sun Track GPS points below. Each of these points can be created by
going to the "K" menu, "GPS" tab and pressing the "New" button. Default
is 0,0,0 for the earth/solar system core. Then add a +1000000000 or
-1000000000 to each axis as shown below:

(Heading North/South on a planet/moon will lead you to the ice caps)

(#FFFFFF00 is the hexadecimal color code for Yellow)

GPS:Core:0:0:0:#FFFFFF00:

GPS:North Pole:0:1000000000:0:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:South Pole:0:-1000000000:0:#FFFFFF00:

GPS:+X:1000000000:0:0:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:+X, +Z:1000000000:0:1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:+X, -Z:1000000000:0:-1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:+Z:0:0:1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:-X:-1000000000:0:0:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:-X, +Z:-1000000000:0:1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:-X,-Z:-1000000000:0:-1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
GPS:-Z:0:0:-1000000000:#FFFFFF00:
Tips and tricks
GPS Location Tricks

Never use a beacon or antenna, they give away your location too easily to local players. Alwayse save locations using the GPS marker. And don't post a GPS location in local chat people I me will save that location and start hunting you down.

Finding Lost Grids Trick:
Imagine a situation where you lost your ship. Either you jet packed too far away from it and forgot to create a GPS location because of the above tip, or your spawn kit does for some reason and you couldn't respawn back at your base, and didn't save the GPS, or a pirate liberated it *cough cough*. For what ever reason, you can't turn your grid. You can easily locate it by creating either a repair or a search contract at your owned contract block, and then accepting your own contract. This will give you the GPS of your lost grid as long as it is powered (never had to do this to an unpowered grid, because all mine had power, so I don't know if it works on an unpowered grid).

Note to pirates: the above trick is a good reason to not just "steal" grids, but to grind them as soon as possible, because with the above lost grids trick, that new found ship (no matter how cool it looks) is now a tracking device leading its owner back to you. You can jump a target grid away to a salvage area, but don't take it to your home location, it just became a poison pill.

Tracking Device Trick:
Say you found a target parked at a trade station or lingering at a faction area of operations, and you want to track where they are going. You can weapknize the above "finding lost grids" trick by intentionally placing a small grid tracker on the target ship. All you need is a power source, a means to attach it to the target grid, and a name for your tracking device grid. Then you can use the contract block to create a search or repair contract (repair requires unfinished blocks) and it will give you the GPS location of your grid, and by extension, the target grid.

Floating GPS Trick:
You can have a GPS location follow your ship no matter where it is as long as it has power and a contract block. You create a hauling contract. In the creation of that contract, you select which of your contract blocks you want that hauling contract to end at. The end grid does not need to be a station, it just hast to be a contract block. Even better, you can use the same contract block as the destination to create the contract in the first place, making this trick only requiring one contract block. It might get a little annoying having a GPS point saying "deliver item here" on your ship constantly, but it's better than having a lost ship or broadcasting your location constantly.

Ore Locations Across Servers:
Ore asteroid locations are the same across all Keen star systems servers. So if you started a game 50 different times at different locations across different Keen servers, the asteroid ore locations are all the same. This is NOT true for planet and moon ore locations, those are randomly dispersed every time the server is wiped/regenerated. I have a Google doc with over a thousand different ore GPS locations from all the different spawn and survey iterations I've done, and confirmed I was able to find those same ore locations across multiple servers. Even ice roids (massive asteroids made of nothing but ice) are at the same location across servers. I will be posting a link to that Google doc eventually.

Self-Triggered Timer Blocks:

You can set up a timer block to start it's own timer, or trigger itself, as long as it has power. Some uses for this:
  • A connector constantly trying to auto lock
  • A rotor constantly trying to attach a rotor head
  • A spawner being periodically turned on or off.

Spawn Menue Tricks:

Getting back to the spawn menue even tho you have spawn kits and/or medical rooms available can be done by 1 of 2 ways.
  • Pressing "Backspace" and suiciding yourself a couple times, this will get you back to the spawn screen while keeping your spawner active.
  • using the timer block method listed above, turn off your spawner and have the timer block turn it back on after a certain amount of time. I prefer 420 seconds (7 minutes). This is usually a long enough time to keep your kit off, and be able to do something else. Before it turns your kit back on.

Note to people that have multiple spawner locations:
Keen has attempted to mitigate abuse of the spawn feature by only allowing you to spawn at the closest active spawner, regardless of how many you have. This means even if you have multiple spawners active and available, it will only let you spawn at the closest one to your death location.

Abusing Spawn Grids:

If you remember back in the section about removing the temporary flag from a spawn grid, you might ask... "Doesn't that mean I can get more of these?" And the answer is a resounding YES! Infact, that is one of my standard operating procedures. One NA server (I won't say which one) I have listening posts that were all once space spawn pods strewn across the solar system. If your able to spawn a space spawn pods close to a planet or moon, and know the GPS location of a trade station that buyship parts, you can easily strip down a spawn pods and sell it for credits to buy another ship from the trade station. What's more, when you finally get a jump drive built, you can literally spawn a spawn pods, merge it to remove the flag, set up a timer block to turn on the kit after you leave, turn off the kit and respawn back at your jump ship, and jump back to your spawn pods and grind it down for parts.

Note: after abusing spawn pods for so long, I have realized that just knowing where all the resources are near a moon basically let you jumpstart your early game without having to abuse spawn grids and flying them hundreds of Kilometers to the closest trade station. Just playing the game normally will yield you a lot of resources to use or sell.

Grid Ownership Hack
Say you stole someone else's ship, but don't like the color, can't hand grind anything without gaining SPRT reputation, or you want to convert it to a ship/station but can't because your not the owner. This is a mis conception: all of these things happen because you are not the "majority owner" of the grid. The key here is block count. If you were to merge your own grid that has just 1 block more than the target grid, you become the majority owner. Suddenly, you can recolor the grid, hand grind and hack without worry of gaining SPRT reputation, and can convert the grid to a station/ship at your will. I'm not sure, but I think it also prevents the original owner from using the contract block to find the grid as well, because now they are not the majority owner of the block count. (But I may be wrong on that assumption)

Stealing Escort Ships:
If you have ever accepted an escort contract for. An NPC trade station, you know the drill. The game spawns a ship for you to escort from a starting point to an end point, and you have to prevent it from getting almost any damage, or else it explodes and you fail the contract. If you succeed, the ship jumps away and your left with all the SPRT debris as added bonus rewards. You might have even tried to grind the ship to see if you could steal components off of it. Which you can, but it drops your reputation with that NPC faction and increases your rep with SPRT. Plus, you could cause yourself to fail the contract just by grinding the ship. BUT you can use the above "grid ownership hack" to override the Remote control block of the escort ship. Just make sure you pull it into the safezone, because sometimes the SPRT drones can spawn pretty close to the station and actually start attacking you there. The key to this trick is to complete the merge process BEFORE the escorted ship begins it's run. If you do it after, your ship will disappear with the target when the contract is over Bye bye ship!




Black Magic Engineering (Banable Exploits, read at your own risk!)
So... in the years I have been playing space engineers, I have stumbled upon some... "questionable techniques" to solving certain problems in the game. These would be considered Banable exploits: builds and uses of grids that give a player an extremely unfair advantage against other players. That don't know about these options. I am not teaching you how to do them to say "go break the rules and ask for forgiveness later". I'm teaching you these tools to help you avoid them when they come up, and recognize them when you see other players using them.

From my expierence, the legitimacy of using these exploits very between server moderators and their personal preferences. One mod said "it's ok, just don't do it near high traffic areas" meaning planets and moons... To "I will ban anyone I catch doing 'this'" without 'this' being listed in the servers explicit message of the day rules of things NOT to do. This could lead to some ambiguity and unclear guidance on what the rules are for vanilla servers, let alone private servers. I emplor you, DO NOT use these tricks on vanilla servers as they can lead to bans and/or server crashes.

The Free Safe Zone Exploit:
I start off this section by letting you know that I have directly talked to 2 different server moderators on 2 different servers and got the above ambiguity: "keep it away from high traffic areas"/"permanent grid deletion and player ban" so I just warn you kids... Don't try this at home. The first grid most players come across is an NPC trade station. These are grids either on a planet/moon surface, in "orbit" of a planet/moon, or in deep space. And one of the first disappointments you may come across is realizing that the connector to the station has a time limit of 15 minutes. When I saw this, I saw a challenge. My goal for almost a year, was to devise a way to "take over" an NPC safezone. I even found a world on the steam workshop that has the entire collection of NPC trade station blueprints in one map, so I could test different methods. I have developed 3 methods to attaching a grid to an NPC station, and literally creating a station inside the safezone.

1) The Padlock Method - this literally is turning your ship into a padlock, and locking it onto an exposed section of station that makes a solid connection like a loop, strut, support beam, armor hole, anything you can use as an anchor point. Then you build a device on your ship that literally merges 2 bits of your ships structure around that anchor point. And tada, you have a grid literally locked to the stations structure. A problem with this method: if you use a piston or a rotor for one of the sides of the lock, impact damage can still dislodge/clip your mobile grid threw the station grid, and even cause an explosion that destroys the lock mechanism. This can be negated by making the final lock be an entire frame connected by 4 merge blocks literally making the pad lock all one grid.

2) The Connector + Timer Block Leap frog method - this version is a bit more technical, and requires a grid purpose built to take align with 2 or more connectors of the station. Because the connectors time out after 15 minutes, this method simply connects 2 connectors to the station at different times, so when one is timed out, the other is locked. The connectors only turn off for a minute. You could use a timer block to basically force the connector to automatically lock when the lock is available. So the connectors leapfrog eachother in locking to the station. Problem: I challenged the players of a server to prove they could dislodge my grid using this method. It is possible to force the grid to bend slowly, and eventually loose the connection using a wedge connected to a piston. But it is a very long process, and you would probably log in and be able to stop the process before they were successful in peeling your grid from the station. What got me caught by admins with this method: a player complained he couldn't complete the contracts with the station because he couldn't connect to the connectirs (Mind you there was another 2 open connectors on the station... but what ever, cry babies will be cry babies.) i had an admin repratedlhncut and paste my grid a hundred KM away from the moon multiple times because I kept using this method at one particular trade station that had 2 connectors on 1 landing pad (the design with the closest 2 connectors used by keen's economy system).

3) Merge Block Method- this version is so simple, and so easy to do, I dare say I don't think it should not be a banable offence, just the natural progression of problem solving. But it is. This method requires 2 grids, both with merge blocks. You convert one grid to a station outside the safezone with the merge block's forks facing the safezone. The second grid you maneuver to the first from inside the safezone, and merge it and there you station. Now you have station inside a safezone. You can further complicate this by leapfrogging the 2 grids deeper into the safezone, converting one to a station, and merging one to the other so they both take advantage of the invulnerable characteristics inside. I first discovered this method as I was using the connector leapfrog method, and was given a hint by a game tester.

I had an epic a faction mate and I built on NA 1 before a server wipe where I used all 3 methods. It was an entire frame designed to fit snugly around the target station and merge them together, then I had 2 connectors leapfrogging their locks back and forth, then I merged the entire grid with a ship I converted to a station from outside the safezone via a third beam grid. Some might remember the "ball" that looked like a gyroscope around a trade station... That was me! Lol.

Under-voxel Building Exploit:
I HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM MULTIPLE SERVERS FOR USING THIS
You might notice, when building on a planet/moon/asteroid that part of your grid goes underground. The "ground" in space engineers is called a voxel. You might see exploits in other games where someone is able to 'clip' threw walls or the ground, or even notice that earth has a nasty reputation of swallowing rovers in space engineers. This is an artifact of the programming environment Varge that keen uses to build the game in. Well... There is an exploit to actually build into the voxels. Most of the time you'll see that you can't build certain blocks too far into the ground. This is because they are trying to prevent what I'm about to teach you. I found out this exploit by accident when I was playing on a server that had a "small" medical pack block as part od a mod pack for the server. Literally it was a respawn point the size of a light or a control panel in the game. And it allowed you to place it facing all different directions, including... In voxels. You guessed it... This allowed you to backspace and actually spawn under voxels. What's more, when your there, you have access to inventory ports on grids like the cargo container and others. And you can weld/grind/build. This was my standard way of playing the game for almost a year. I'd have only a connector peaking just barely at the surface, and an entire production plant below the surface. Powered by solar panels and reactors. The only problem with this method, is that sometimes your grid would render before the ground did. So you could see my base before you saw the mountain it was built in. And yes, I have had a base at the core of the Moon and the core of the Earth. The major draw back to this exploit: it can cause massive server lag and even crashes. "It's all fun and games until you kill the server" needless to say, this is an immediate banable offence if someone is found exploiting this phenomenon. The bad thing about it: it is easy to do accidentally with the new survival kit. Put that thing in a cave or under a large grid facing voxels, and pop, your dropping to the center of the Earth at 110 m/s.
Ore Location Tricks
This section is under construction. Please visit us later for updates.
Ranges Cheat Sheet
There are some ranges that come in very handy when both choosing a security halt location/rally point (temporary base), as well as hunting for other players. Some of these ranges are approximate, and are determined by individual server settings.

2000km: this is the maximum range a single jump drive can jump a grid if it is not over encumbered. i forget the weight, but i did testing. i think it is 25 million kg. grids that reach that mass and/or their cargo sores amass that much start to lower the range of a jump drive. this is important to know because if you spot a grid with jump drives, you can estimate how far it is from home, or how far the player operates it based off how many jump drives it has. most people don't want to sit and wait for their jump drives to charge for too long, so they only base themselves as far as it takes to jump their grid in one go. this is also a key point in why you want to keep your jump drives hidden from potential observers, to keep from giving them any hints to your home location if they were to spot your grid from afar.

500km: Space Pawn Pod Range- a space spawn pod says in it's description that it spawns you "close" to another player. from my experience. if you spawn in 2 or more space spawn pods (and merge them to save them as described in the previous sections) and those spawn points are within 500km of each other, your spawns are being anchored to that area by another player. that player does not need to be active, they can be offline but their avatar can be active in a bed or in a cryo chamber. these blocks cause the game to calculate your player's location grid, power/oxygen, and drone activities while your offline. it also forces the game to consider your location when spawning space spawn players near you. i have used this hunting technique to find 5 players, all of them were offline when i found them. this is why it is important to move your grid every time you log in, no matter how protected you think you are, you don't want your location known and having wolves waiting for you to slip up. The void and movement are your allies. This is the primary reason leaving your player in a cryo pod is not advisable. even if you have a hide out that take 18 jumps to get there, your engineer anchors spawn pods to you.

75km: Strong Unknown Signal Spawn Range- Strong unknown signals are spawned on a server when ever there are 2 or more players actively playing online. An easy tactic is to jump close (but not too close) to a strong unknown signal, and see if there are any asteroids that are spawning much farther than normal from you. that is a dead give away you found the player that spawned that Strong Unknown Signal. This is another reason to never leave your engineer in a cryo pod, and let your engineer die, relying on a kit or medical room to spawn when you log back in.

35km: Planet/Moon Pod + Trade Station Spawn Range- when ever you spawn on a planet or moon and you have a data pad in your cockpit/seat with a GPS location of an NPC trade station, you are within 35km of that trade station. On Earthlike, this is just barely jet-pack distance as well. So you are literally spawning into a noob kill-zone. if you start mining the surface of the planet/moon, as shown below, you basically announced your presence to the entire server.

20km: Voxel Deformation Range - This is how far you can see changes to a planet/moon surface if that surface has been altered due to either mining operations, base building actions, or even a grid that crashed to the surface. it will appear as a massive crater from 20km, and will gradually smooth out to a small dent in the surface. but it is a sign of life that can be easily used to find players. This range is important not only for finding other players, but also useful in understanding why to avoid permanently building on a planet/moon surface. any mining you do is a dead give away of your presence. if you mine on a planet/moon surface, make sure it is a temporary operation and you don't linger for too long.

50km: Asteroid + Grid Render Range (currently testing this range)- This is how far an asteroid will render for other players if that asteroid has either had a voxel deformation, or has a grid within render range (explained below as 3.41km) of it. this means if an asteroid has been recently mined, or a player parks their grid within 3.41km of an asteroid, that asteroid now becomes a beacon visible much farther away.

15km: Standard Asteroid Render Range without any voxels deformation (mining/crashes) or grids located on/near it (3.41km). basically if an asteroid just popped into your view, it is probably about this far away. No asteroids should be spawning this close to a planet/moon surface. so if you can see an asteroid from a planet/moon surface, that means it is part of the above catagory: an asteroid that has voxel deformation / a grid nearby.

3.41km: "Operational Range" this range can be considered the golden zone. Several things happen here:
  • Grid Render Range - This is the closest distance you can expect to see a ship or station appear.
  • Streaming Range - A rendering grid causes the game to stream data from the server to your local game. that means, that any time you see "streaming" at the bottom of your screen with the space engineers concentric circular sprockets animation, it is extremely likely a grid just came into your render range.
  • Cockpit Tracking - If you are in a cockpit, this is the point that a grid will highlight on your heads up display with the broken white/green/red circle, indicating the location of a grid near you. WARNING: this also means that if the grid has an AI block set to trigger if their cockpit is locked onto, will also alert the player your targeting them. even if the player is not present, this could trigger AI, timer blocks and weapon systems.
  • Green Unknown Signal Spawn Range- the green colored unknown signals that spawn every once in a while spawn within this range. they will immediately trigger your streaming and cockpit tracking. these grids are SAFE and their beacon are ONLY viewable by YOU. other players cannot see green unknown signals spawned by another player.
  • Solo Grid Operational Range- this is an interesting one that can both hinder and help you. for one, a grid that is flying away from a player (not under an overridden thruster) will stop moving after leaving a players render range. similarly, a drone that is set to auto pilot to conduct an operation or follow a path will stop when not in the present of a player. so this means no GPS guided missiles to hit a target outside your render range. it also means if you die, and your grid is flying off into space without a spawner on board, it won't fly too far before it freezes.

2km: Railgun maximum lock and fire range- this is the maximum range you can reach out and touch someone with the longest range standard block purpose-built weapon in the game. you cannot affect someone's grid beyond this distance unless there are active players at both the launch and destination locations.

1km: if you are jumping your grid with your jump drive to a specific GPS location, and there is a grid at /near that gps location, your jumping ship will exit the jump about 1km away from that grid. This can be a problem with gravity, as jumping to a trade station that is outside a planet's gravity well has a chance to drop your ship out of the jump 1km inside gravity. if your thrusters are not equipped to manage gravity, or your ship's power supply is red-lined due to the jump drive's charging cycle, this could turn your ship into a new crater on that planet/moon's surface. a quick fix that a lot of new players don't realize, is you can turn off your jump drive temporarily to avoid it killing your ship's power, allowing you to maneuver out of gravity and to safety, then charge your jump drive.

24 Comments
Adamin Mar 22 @ 6:01am 
yeah i may have missed it but having a section for ideal base locations and best places to hide bases would be a good add-on
Saxmo  [author] Mar 20 @ 6:47pm 
@Adamin I believe I did address this, partially in the Black Magic Engineering section of building under Voxels, but ills probably need to create another section dedicated to base locations. I think it would be a good addon to the Military Tools section.
Adamin Mar 18 @ 4:07am 
Sorry for spelling lol vowel is voxel and hole is whole
Adamin Mar 18 @ 4:06am 
One good advice I would recommend if you haven't already is to not build bases underground. They are too hard to defend and easy to break in and like you said before you can see the vowel deformation from further away. Another thing I've found about this is that you can actually see the hole base through a camera from a distance before vowels load in properly so you can easily see where their stuff is.
Saxmo  [author] Mar 18 @ 3:35am 
Added "Black Magic Engineering" section, and more to "Tips and Tricks"
Saxmo  [author] Mar 18 @ 1:12am 
@Adamin thank you! Any other ideas you can recommend would be greatly appreciated.
Adamin Mar 17 @ 11:43pm 
Based advice the tips and tricks definetly remind me of when I lost one of my ships and did thr contract thing to get it. Taught that guy a lesson 😅. But yeah solid tips would recommend!
Saxmo  [author] Mar 13 @ 3:47am 
@BathBombViking, yes i do :)
BathBombViking Sep 17, 2023 @ 1:34pm 
wait you own the big bad Dread Pirate Guild?!
Saxmo  [author] May 26, 2023 @ 9:36am 
@Assassin_S2 Thank you! i'm glad to help.