Ships Are these ships utterly useless, or am I missing something here?

Strictly speaking Morays are eels, not snakes, so that should be ok! :) Not that you had a choice. You got a Cobra Mk3 and that was all you could fly. Interesting to see that all the current ship construction companies are mentioned with the exception of the Federal Core Dynamics and Imperial Gutamaya. Saud Kruger made the Shuttle, Zorgon Petersen the Fer De Lance, Lakon the Transporter and Faulcon delacy the Sidewinder and Krait.
The Empire and the Federation had already appeared on the Frontier (EliteII).
The Empire and the Federation had already appeared on the Frontier (EliteII).
The link I posted was to the original 1984 Elite and as you correctly stated the Empire and Federation appeared in Elite II at which time ships like the Eagle and Imperial Courier appeared and you had a greater choice of ships to fly.
Just wanted to say, make an almost non engineered Keelback. 4 turret cannons and a SLF and already loving it. Can't wait to try it out when i've engineered it more.

I run my Keelback with a C2 corrosive multi and C2 scramble pulse, both turrets, and two small long range rails. With my long-serving NPC stripping shields in a fixed beam Taipan she’s a little beast! Get yourself some dirty drag drives for the proper Firefly feels and some sickness-inducing roll rates.
Keelback - cheapest ship with SLF ...better miner than type-6 because enough hardpoints. Fancy animation on the thrusters
Adder - cheapest mult-icrew and multipurpose ship. With enhanced thrusters it's real pleasure to fly it despite the claustrophobic cockpit. Engine sounds are amazing, hats down!

FDS - is a pass
FGS - damn that's an overflow of daka-daka (put all MCs and try it)
Type-10 - is just chunky type-9 ....if you are not for the extra cargo it is better option for every application of type-9. Note: for combat it is a common noobtrap
Alliance Challenger is very useful ship but you talk about Crusader because of the SLF. So yeah, the only purpose for this is if you want the look of alliance ships and want an SLF

I am surprised you missed the Asp Scout.... I was shocked when I saw an actual commander flying this useless ship in Open
Cmdrs in asp scouts terrify me. In general, the crappier the ship, the better the player. I fear sidewinders and both vipers and DBS.

I don't hesitate to interdict FDLs and vultures and kraits. Most of them are piloted by extremely new players.

Huge edit to clarify that the DBS is NOT a crappy ship. It is objectively the best ship in the game.
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