Aircraft are created in factories and used by pilots to find, bomb, and loot ore thief bases. Aircraft are also used for machines. A helicopter in the machines city gives access to another row of usable hexes, a search plane in the machines city allows you to see more data and a bomber allows you to drop bombs onto machines, damaging them.
Aircraft can only be created in factories, but can be bought and sold on the open market. To become a pilot you need 40 melds. You can fly up to melds/10 planes at a time, this means a 40 meld pilot can fly 4 planes.
Types of aircraft
There are three types of aircraft:
- Search Plane: 6 ore, 3500 components - Used to find the Ore Thieves Base.
- Bomber: 10 ore, 4000 components - Used to destroy the Base. Can carry up to 4 bombs.
- Helicopter: 8 ore, 7000 components - Used to recover Ore from the Base. Can take up to 4 ore.
Ore Thieves Base
When you mine Ore roughly 19/20 ore is stolen by the Ore Thieves. This ore doesn't just disappear, most of it is used to make the Ore Thieves Base, and the rest is stockpiled inside. The main use for aircraft is to find, destroy and loot the Ore Thieves' Base.
A pilot should be mindful at all times of the thieves' AA guns, and perhaps obtain a shield gadget to reduce the chances of being shot down by 40%. Pilots must first send out their search planes to locate the enemy base. At first the Base is extremely hard to find, but after each of the following steps it gets progressively easier:
- Not found: Very hard to discover.
- Found: Slightly easier to discover.
- Damaged: Pretty easy to find.
- Destroyed: Very easy to find.
- Flower: 1 Ore, 400 components - A small bomb.
- Thumper: 3 Ore, 400 components - A large bomb.
- Blu-82: Found in explosives mines.
Larger bombs do not take up any more room on the bombers, and do significantly more damage. A whetting stone gadget can be used to increase bomb power by 40%. It will take several bombing runs to destroy the enemy base, but once it has been completely destroyed the pilot is free to send in helicopters to recover the ore. Each helicopter has the capability of carrying up to 4 pieces of ore at a time. Once the ore has been completely depleted from the base, the process begins again by sending out the search planes in hopes of finding the next base - although it may be wise to wait, as the ore thieves base needs time to rebuild and grow.
When bombing the Ore Thieves' Base it is not as simple as just bombing it and retrieving the ore. On average it has taken about 12 thumpers, or 36 ore worth of bombs to damage the base. This means the bomber makes a considerable investment in just breaking the base, without considering the potential loss of bombers. While there is easily enough ore inside the base to make up for this the problem is that when the base is broken it is displayed on the front page. Some players specifically wait for this and with large fleets of helicopters take a lot of the ore before the bomber has a chance. After the base is destroyed, thieves will still utilize AA guns. Because of this, there is the potential to lose helicopters that are sent to recover the ore.
To profitably bomb the base it is best to work in a team with other pilots. You can pick a time when all your pilots are online, so you can bomb and strip the base before anyone else has a chance to react. This will greatly increase the profit for the bomber, meaning it is more practical to bomb the base.
You cannot just repeatedly bomb the base though, as you have to wait for more Ore to be stolen by the Ore Thieves first, making it a delicate balance of should I bomb now, or should I wait for more Ore to be stolen and risk someone else bombing it?