Fancy a shorter trip? Take a look at the Club website for our other races (roughly every 3-4 weeks)!
What is it?
The A* Challenge is simple: Fly from Sol (or Wolf 359) to Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy, and record your time for doing so.
Of course, this being an endurance run there is a little bit of challenge in that, not least the troubles of plotting routes in the galactic core. The clock starts on launch from Galileo / Lomas Orbiter, and ends upon arrival at Sagittarius A*. The time recorded is total elapsed time, so that includes any breaks, time asleep, at work, whatever. The clock doesn't stop ticking when you're offline.
Some take the challenge as a means to push the limits and see just how fast it can be done. Others have a go at just getting the best time for their ship class. Yet others are more about giving a permanent record of completing the trip, regardless of time. All are welcome to the A* Challenge.
The start line is Galileo in Sol, or Lomas Orbiter in Wolf 359 for those who don't have access to Sol.
The finish line is at Sagittarius A*.
Warning: This is a long way. 25,900 light years, give or take. This is the marathon of the racing world, not a sprint - expect to spend upwards of 12 hours in the cockpit. Also, route plotting in the galactic core can be challenging, to say the least. This thread helps to explain why (NOTE: Route plotter improvements since 3.0 have mostly solved this problem, but if you do have problems plotting, then Esvandiary's algorithm it still the likely solution).
Entries will be accepted in three classes: Classic, Neutron and Unlimited.
Classic Class entries must abide by the following regulations:
- (Engineer-)modified modules are not permitted.
- Enhanced Performance Thrusters are not permitted.
- Items only available from technology brokers, including all modules based upon Guardian technology, are not permitted.
- The use of materials synthesis (e.g. FSD Injection or AFM refill) is not permitted.
- The use of FSD supercharging (from neutron stars or white dwarfs) is not permitted.
Neutron Class is for entries that do make use of FSD supercharging from neutron stars (or white dwarfs), but would otherwise be eligible for Classic class (i.e. no engineering or materials synthesis).
Unlimited Class is for entries that do make use of (engineer-)modified modules, Enhanced Thrusters, items from technology brokers and/or materials synthesis (e.g. FSD Injection).
Rules and regulations
- Starting point is either Galileo (orbiting the Moon) in Sol, or Lomas Orbiter in Wolf 359 for those who don't have access to Sol. Record the start with a screenshot of the station clock on the launch pad.
- Finish line is entry to the Sagittarius A* system. Record the finish with a screenshot of the galaxy map showing the time and date with current location as Sagittarius A*.
- Entries only accepted for runs completed in Open Play, in the main game universe (runs in the beta universe(s) don't count).
- The A* Challenge is open to any ship, and to players on any platform (PC, Mac, Xbox or PS4).
Back in early April 3301, Commander Anuranium turned up for Buckyball Run 7 after having only the week before conducted his own little private challenge. He'd posted a picture of his clock at Galileo station, and then posted another picture of himself at Sagittarius A* roughly 13 hours later. Many of the regular Buckyball crew were impressed by this, and it got us to thinking - would there be any demand for hosting this as a recorded race? It turns out the answer was yes...
This event started as the Buckyball Run A*, hosted by ElectricZ and Bucky. When that drew to a close after 3 months, we at the Buckyball Racing Club weren't prepared to let the challenge lie, so it has carried on ever since as The A* Challenge. Same rules (for Classic Class), same route, even the leaderboard was carried over, but sorry, no bumper stickers.
The A* Challenge was hosted magnificently from July 3301 to sometime in 3305 by Cmdr Samwell Drakhyr. In June 3305 Cmdr Drakhyr was declared missing, having been last contacted with his trusty Lakon Type-6 Explorer Deep Blue Yonder somewhere in Exteriores Australis.
In July 3305, I took over hosting the A* Challenge until such time as Cmdr Drakhyr returns, or his escape pod is recovered.
See below for a summary of notable feats in the A* Challenge, along with the history of the record times for each ship type.
- 21 July 3301: Buckyball Run A* comes to an end, and The A* Challenge begins. At this point the overall record is 8 hours, 43 minutes and 43 seconds, set by Cmdr Alot in the Anaconda Rhonda, following close competition with Cmdr Kligg's Rub Tub. Second place was held by Cmdr Rusticolus with a time of 9 hours, 17 minutes and 30 seconds in the Asp Explorer My Bare Asp.
- 2 August 3301: Cmdr Savanik became the 100th commander to complete the challenge, in the Asp Explorer We Made It.
- 16 August 3301: Cmdr Farge secured the bottom rung of the leaderboard with a time of 104 days, 13 hours and 21 minutes in the Orca Explorca.
- 8 November 3301: Cmdr StokeMeAClipper finally breaks Cmdr Alot's overall record after a little over five months, setting a time of 8 hours, 21 minutes and 13 seconds in the Anaconda Pinpoint 8. This marked the start of the very top competitors running without stellar body scanners in order to absolutely maximise jump range.
- 6 December 3301: Cmdr Alot regains the top spot in Rhonda with a time of 8 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds.
- 24 January 3302: Despite already holding the top spot, Cmdr Alot decided that he was nonetheless determined to set a better time. With the first attempt not quite achieving the target, Alot self-destructed and started again. After two complete runs within 24 hours, Cmdr Alot became the first commander to break the eight-hour barrier, setting a record time of 7 hours, 56 minutes and 41 seconds. This remains the overall record for a ship not using engineer modifications or boosted jumps (from FSD injection or neutron stars).
- 25 February 3302: Cmdr Takaru Minari completes the challenge in the Anaconda Dawnbringer as the first leg of a fast trip to Beagle Point, reaching the far side of the galaxy in 25 and a half hours.
- 20 March 3302: Cmdr Asier's run in the Diamondback Explorer A-D Zirconium is the first run completed in virtual reality, using the Oculus Rift (as well as setting a ship type record).
- 17 June 3302: Cmdr Luke3107 became the 150th commander to complete the challenge, and the first to do so on Xbox One, in the Asp Explorer Insert Name Here.
- 26 June 3302: Unlimited class commences, with the first run in an engineer modified ship. Cmdr Up2d4t3's Anaconda Goldie sets a new overall record of 6 hours, 24 minutes and 32 seconds.
- 29 June 3302: Times in unlimited class start tumbling, as Cmdr Allitnil in the engineered Anaconda Paradox Drive breaks Up2d4t3's record after only three days, with a time of 5 hours, 29 minutes and 35 seconds.
- 10 August 3302: Having previously proven to be a contender in Standard class (see entry from 8 Nov 3301), Cmdr StokeMeAClipper returns with an engineered Anaconda, Blacknight, to improve the Unlimited class record to 5 hours, 19 minutes and 22 seconds.
- 4 September 3302: The competition in Unlimited class continues, with Cmdr Up2d4t3 returning for another run in Goldie, bringing the record time down to 3 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds. This remains the fastest time without making use of supercharged jumps from neutron stars.
- 30 October 3302: While it had appeared that Cmdr Farge had an immovable grip on the bottom of the leaderboard, that proved not to be the case as Cmdr Matokla reported in, having finally reached Sagittarius A* after 218 days of travelling in the Asp Explorer Apollo 13.
- 24 March 3303: Cmdr Allitnil returned for another Unlimited class run in Paradox Drive, using a new route and approach. The use of the neutron star superhighway (with its supercharged jumps) proved spectacularly successful, setting a new unlimited class (and overall) record time of 2 hours, 45 minutes and 39 seconds.
- 25 June 3303: Cmdr Allitnil extends his proof of the use of neutron star supercharging to unengineered ships, making a point that the Hauler could get a significant benefit from this approach. The successful run in Highly Strung marks the start of the Neutron class with an impressive time of 6 hours, 27 minutes and 39 seconds.
- 27 June 3303: Cmdr Alot returns to the course in the Anaconda Rhonda, this time in Unlimited class. With a route making full use of neutron star supercharging, Alot succeeds in improving the Unlimited class (and overall) record to 2 hours, 12 minutes and 13 seconds.
- 24 September 3303: With an improved neutron star boosted route (and a bit of practice), Cmdr Allitnil returns in the Anaconda Paradox Drive to retake the Unlimited class (and overall) record to an amazing 2 hours, zero minutes and 58 seconds.
- 3 March 3304: Following improvements to the benefits that can be gained from engineering modules, Cmdr Alot returned to the course in an upgraded Rhonda the Anaconda, breaking the two-hour mark to take the Unlimited class and overall record with a blistering time of one hour, fifty-five minutes and eleven seconds.
- 24 March 3304: Cmdr Darplata94 takes the Diamondback Explorer Atrox down the neutron superhighway to set a new record for an unengineered ship (Neutron class) of 5 hours, 55 minutes and 28 seconds.
- 20 September 3304: Reverse engineering of alien technology from the mysterious "Guardians" allows Cmdrs to achieve unprecedented jump ranges, Cmdr Up2d4t3 makes full use of these technological breakthroughs to take back the unlimited record once again in his Anaconda Goldie, with a time of one hour, fifty-three minutes and twenty-nine seconds.
- 15 August 3305: Cmdr Numerlor shaves a mere 26 seconds off the existing unlimited record, setting a new record time of one hour, fifty-three minutes and three seconds in his Anaconda Raia.
- 1 September 3305: Cmdr Up2d4t3 returned to the top of the table again in Goldie, arriving at Sgr A* 53 seconds faster than Numerlor, with a time of one hour, fifty-two minutes and ten seconds.
- 19 and 21 September 3305: Cmdr turkwinif breaks the unlimited record twice in two days the Anaconda Liberty One, bringing the best time down to one hour, forty-six minutes and thirty-two seconds.
- 23 September 3305: Cmdr Alot returns yet again in Rhonda to take back the unlimited record with a time of one hour, thirty-seven minutes and forty-seven seconds.
How to enter
- Read all of these notes before starting!
- Post your intent to race in this thread (optional, but should get you some good luck wishes and might lead to friend requests from others underway at the same time so you can track each other's progress). Include the following:
- Your commander's name
- Ship name
- Ship type
- When ready to make the run, get to Galileo in Sol or Lomas Orbiter in Wolf 359. Make repairs, fuel up, ensure the ship is configured exactly how you want it for the run - it's a long way back if you miss something!
- Open the Outfitting screen and capture screenshots (F10) of your ship's configuration. Note that for this challenge, sufficient screenshots are required to cover all core internal compartments and all optional internal compartments.
- Return to the surface and prepare for launch (it is strongly suggested that you plot the first leg of your route before capturing a start time!). Remember, Open Play only (Solo or Private Group times don't count).
- Hit F10 to take another screenshot, or start your video capture, showing your start location, date and time.
- Launch and get going!
- Navigate your way to Sagittarius A*.
- Upon arrival in the Sagittarius A*, open up the galaxy map and take another screenshot showing your current position (i.e. the fact that you are in the Sagittarius A* system!) plus the date and time. Congratulations, you made it!
- Send a PM to me (Raiko), or email raiko <at> buckyballracing <dot> org <dot> uk, with the following:
- Your commander's name
- Your ship's name
- Your ship type
- Your total race time
- Links to your screenshots: Outfitting, start time/location and finish time/location (if you've recorded video, please extract screenshots or short edited segments covering these three rather than just sending / linking to the entire video!)
- Please let me know if any special conditions apply (see below) *
- Having completed the 25,900LY run from Sol to Sag A*, you now have a wonderful opportunity: to turn around and fly all the way back again, by your own route and at your own pace. Enjoy!
* Special conditions include: runs made on Xbox One; runs made on PS4; runs made on Oculus (or other) VR; runs made while in a wing; use of supercharged jumps from neutron stars / white dwarfs.