Thargoid Cargo Reactions Revisited

Last updated 2nd August 2018

Heart Update:
It seems Thargoids now scoop up Thargoid Hearts, and the hearts have new graphics too. This is likely in place since 3.0

Note on Guardian Fittings: Thargoids will only react aggressively to Guardian Cargo in your hold, not Guardian fittings. To date (2 Aug 2018), there has been no definitive proof that Guardians will react aggressively to only Guardian fittings. Claims to the otherwise have either lacked any evidence to back it up, or have been explained by other issues (cargo which will trigger them, staying too close too long, collisions etc.). Nonetheless... if you can capture video showing a non-hostile Thargoid
  • (optional) get hyperdicted;
  • scanning you;
  • with nothing of note in your cargohold;
  • while staying outside of 500m from the Thargoid;
  • without shooting or colliding with it;
  • with Guardian fittings on your ship; and
  • the Thargoid becomes hostile after scanning
... then I'll happily update to reflect the circumstance. It's easy enough to stage that situation (having done it myself and triggered no hostile reaction), so you'll need to hit all those points in your video to get it verified.

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I recently made a post disputing the commonly-held knowledge about Thargoid reactions to various cargo types. Since then I've reliably reproduced these reactions on several occasions, enough that I'm satisfied of consistency in most of the results. I've also been thinking a fair whack about the various reactions, what the Thargoids scoop, and what it might mean... but before all that.

Different Thargoid reactions to scanning you with different cargo
1. No Cargo of interest



This reaction happens if you have no cargo, or you're holding any cargo that's not explicitly mentioned in the other videos in this post.

Notes:
  • While scanning and immediately after the scan, the Thargoid will hold distance to you at about 350m
  • About 6 seconds after the scan, the Thargoid will simply disengage and go on scanning/searching wrecks and cargo
  • Sound the Thargoid makes upon completing the scan is almost "bored" or "disappointed"

2. Thargoid Cargo on board

While the video shows only Thargoid Resin, I've verified Thargoids will react the same upon detection of any of the following in your hold:
  • Thargoid Sensor/Link/Probe
  • Thargoid Resin/Technology Samples/Biological Matter
  • Thargoid Cyclops/Basilisk/Medusa Tissue Samples
  • Thargoid Heart
Notes:
  • While scanning and immediately after the scan, the Thargoid will hold distance to you at about 350m
  • Upon completion of the scan, you have 25 seconds to drop all relevant cargo. During this time the Thargoid will maintain the 350m distance. If you fail to jettison all relevant cargo in the timeframe, it will release Thargons, flash red and become Hostile on your HUD and immediately engage.
  • The sound the Thargoid makes when completing the scan is the same as the noise it makes when you initially enter the NHSS instance and it begins to approach you. More on the noises later.

3. Thargoid reaction to Guardian cargo

Thargoid will react like shown in this video if you carry any of the following:
  • Ancient Orb
  • Ancient Casket
  • Ancient Totem
  • Ancient Tablet
  • Ancient Orb
  • Ancient Relic
Notes
  • While scanning and immediately after the scan, the Thargoid will hold distance to you at about 350m
  • Upon completion of the scan, you have 25 seconds to drop all relevant cargo. During this time the Thargoid will maintain the 350m distance, and will also flare red like it does in combat. If you fail to jettison all relevant cargo in the timeframe, it will release Thargons, become Hostile on your HUD and immediately engage.
  • The sound the Thargoid makes when completing the scan is the same as the noise it makes when get too close to it or "provoke" it in other ways (like stealing a Probe it was scooping, or countering an EMP blast from a nonhostile Thargoid e.g one which has hyperdicted you). More on the noises later.

4. Thargoid Reaction to Meta Alloys

The following reaction occurs only when you have meta-alloys in the cargo hold.

Notes:
  • While scanning and immediately after the scan, the Thargoid will hold distance to you at about 350m
  • Upon completion of the scan, you have 25 seconds to drop all the meta alloys. During this time the Thargoid will maintain the 350m distance. If you fail to jettison them in the timeframe, it will release Thargons, flare red, but not become hostile. It will also disengage from the 350m. If you get outside of 500m, it will stop flaring red, and after a short delay will go about it's normal behaviour. This is consistent with a warning given by a Thargoid when you are "too close" to it.
  • The sound the Thargoid makes is unique for Meta-alloys. It's almost an "excited" or even "longing" noise. In my opinion, it's almost comparable to both the noise the Thargoid makes when it destroys a ship (another CMDR or one of your fighters) and when the Thargoid dies. Again, more on sounds later.

Note: I have not tested reactions with mixtures of cargo. I expect a tiered response, where Meta Alloys overrides no cargo, but this is overriden by the Thargoid cargo reaction, which is likewise overriden by the Guardian reaction.

We also know that Thargoids have different reactions to cargo floating around the place.

Thargoid Interaction with uninteresting cargo.

This is fairly simple. The Thargoid ship will just scan the cargo and move on.

Thargoid Interaction with Humanoid cargo.

Humanoid cargo includes Occupied Escape Pods, Damaged Escape Pods, Slaves, Imperial Slaves, Master Chefs, and any other "Human" cargo" (e.g "Political Prisoners" from Powerplay ships). For this sort of cargo, the Thargoid ships will scan and "scoop" up the cargo. However, dropping large volumes of this cargo will not result in another Thargoid ship arriving.

Thargoid Interaction with Meta Alloys, Links, Sensors, Probes

Thargoids will also scan and scoop up Meta Alloys and Thargoid Links/Sensors/Probes. Dropping more than five of these items will result in a second Thargoid ship being called in to assist with scooping. As before, I'm unsure if it must be more five of one type of item, or if it can be a mix of items.

Thargoid Interaction with Guardian Items

Thargoids will scan any jettisoned Guardian Items (orbs, relics, caskets etc.) and after completing the scan will flare red and attack the item.

Other Interactions

There are some other "reactions" you can provoke that I've mentioned (i.e evading EMP blasts, getting too close) but they're not really relevant to what I want to discuss around cargo reactions.

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So most of this isn't really new... the meta-alloys reaction seems different to the current line of thinking which is that Thargoids will attack you for holding them. But especially with that change, I think there's a lot we can start to derive from these reactions... to the point where we might be able to understand their motives (which, in my opinion, aren't territorial or necessarily based on any previous aggression from us... Aegis may even be completely inconsequential to their motives).

For ease of discussion, I'm only going to talk about cargo types of mentioned above; i.e any sort of cargo that, in one form or another, will elicit some response from a Thargoid. Anything else we'll just assume they aren't interested.

Thinking about how they react to floating cargo.

This is a pretty tidy place to start. There's four categories of interactions that cargo falls into
  • Won't scoop; Thargoid Resin/Tech/Biological, Thargoid <variant> Tissue Samples
  • Will scoop; Humanoids
  • Will scoop and will call in help to scoop; Meta Alloys and Thargoid Links/Sensors/Probes, Thargoid Hearts
  • Will destroy; Guardian items
This has a sense of logic to it if you think about it a bit, and extrapolate some ideas.
  • The items listed as "Won't Scoop" are essentially Thargoid (Ship) "Body Parts"; junk, scrap. It's unlikely a Thargoid should be interested in that cargo at all.
  • Humanoids are something interesting, so the Thargoids scoop them, but they don't care enough to get their buddies in for them. It feels somewhat unnatural, almost as if it's just a convenience thing.
  • Meanwhile Meta-Alloys and Links/Probe/Sensors warrant bringing in a buddy to help grab them. The Links/Sensors/Probes have a logic to them... they're active pieces of tech which transmit signals. We know they work in conjunction to seemingly "activate" the Thargoid Structures. What doesn't have a logic is why Thargoids are now actively recovering them. We also know Thargoids have an interest in meta alloys by-extension through their interactions "sucking" something (energy? Energised meta-alloys?) from Barnacles, our source of meta alloys.
  • And lastly, Guardian items. This is possibly the most interesting reaction. We know placing guardian items in a Thargoid structure results in a violent reaction so it makes some sense that a Thargoid vessel reacts equally violently to the cargo. However, this is still a fairly extreme reaction. Generally, if something (person, cat, dog, whatever) see something that reminds you of an old enemy, or something that symbolising something which hurt you in the past, the reaction is generally not to immediately destroy that thing. The sort of things that trigger that kind of reaction are things or events which are deliberately provocative, pose an immediate threat or significantly interfere with your ability to go about your business/life. I think it's fair to say that the Thargoids don't just hate the Guardians, their technology puts fear into them.
Now, combine the reactions when this cargo is in your hold.

In my opinion, this is where it gets really interesting. Seeing how thargoids react to different cargo floating around is one consideration, and seeing how they react to stuff in your hold is a separate thing... but when you consider them both in conjunction you start to get much deeper understanding. Throwing it into a table...

Reaction\ScoopingWon't scoopWill scoopWill scoop
+get help
Destroy
No InterestHumanoids
Meta AlloysMeta Alloys
Thargoid Cargo
(Hostile)
Resin/Tech/Bio/
Tissues
HeartLink/Sensor/Probe
Guardian Cargo
(Hostile)
All Guardian Items


It doesn't add much info, but it helps visualise reactions against their interest in scooping the cargo. Specifically, it kinda puts up the case that Thargoids really aren't that interested in humanoids, though they pick them up for a reason, which may be a secondary or even tertiary concern. Basically, there's five categories of what I'll coin "Interest" by the Thargoids in an item.

  • Humanoids: They don't care if you have them... but if they happen to be "floating around" they'll grab them. The "lack of care" is also indicative because we aren't attacked on sight.
  • Meta-Alloys: They want them really badly (see next para about their noises)... but won't fight you for them. The behaviour is almost like that of a beggar... they might want your money and ask you for it, but they (usually) won't punch you in the street for it. There's almost a sense of desparation to it.
  • Resin/tech/bio/tissues/heart: They are concerned if you possess it, and are willing to fight you for it if you don't abandon it. However, they have no interest in collecting or keeping it, their only interest is in you not possessing it.
  • Links/Sensors/Probes: These are valuable to Thargoids, and they're willing to fight you for it. Like the Tissue Samples etc. though, it's muted aggression, thus they don't flare up red initially. It's almost like an appeal to your senses... combined with the fact they make the same sort of "cautionary" noise when you first enter an NHSS when they detect any Thargoid cargo on board, it's almost as if they're saying "Do the right thing, don't make me hurt you".
  • Guardian tech: This reaction is just outright aggression, possibly from significant fear or legitimate concern for safety. The fact they flare up red when they detect guardian cargo on board is almost suggesting a "This is going to end in destruction; whether it's you or the cargo".
Thargoid Noises

Just wanted to briefly go over the noises Thargoids make in response to the different cargoes also. This bit is applying somewhat "human" emotion to the noises which is fraught, but there's an element of consistency when you consider other contexts for the noises.

The "No interesting cargo" sound is kind of bored, disappointed or just uninterested. This is reinforced by the fact the Thargoid moves on so quickly. Ultimately, you're not of interest and have nothing to offer the Thargoid.

When you have Thargoid cargo on board, it's really important to note the noise is the same as the one when you first enter an NHSS, before the Thargoid approaches to scan you. Now, I don't know about you, but when I unexpectedly hear a ship jump in to a USS or a planets surface or what not, my first instinct is a defensive "Who's that? What're you doing here?" and I'm cautious until I work out if it's a cop, a pirate, or something else. I believe the Thargoid's noise when you jump into the NHSS is one of caution, "Halt, who goes there" if you will. This is why I think their reaction to Thargoid cargo on board your ship is one of "muted caution", not forcing a hostile resolution, but equally telling you you're in the wrong and giving an opportunity to resolve it.

Meanwhile, the Guardian Cargo sound is similar to the sound a Thargoid makes when initiating combat (sometimes) or when you provoke it by getting it too close. Guardian cargo is clearly invokes a provocative, negative reaction from Thargoids. Why this is the case is best left for the Guardian's thread, but nonetheless, it's very obviously one of aggression and inciting conflict.

Lastly, the Meta Alloy reaction sound is, in my opinion, the most interesting. While I can't find anything where the same reaction is used, I find it has similarities between when a hostile Thargoid destroys an aggressor, and when a Thargoid dies. In the case of destroying an aggressor, it's a form of elation or celebration, while the death is, well, death. In that regard, I can't help but think like it's a "desperate happiness", like the Thargoids don't just want Meta Alloys, they need Meta Alloys, but they're not prepared to trample anything in their path to take them.

So what's the point of all this?
So, I'm not part of the "conspiracy theory" camp. It's all too tropey for Aegis to be secretly causing all the Thargoid attacks, or attacking their own stations with Thargoid weaponry to "frame" the Thargoids. But they are unknowingly provoking the Thargoids one way or another. We know Aegis and almost every superpower has been in the game of harvesting meta-alloys, and I'd suggest the Thargoids need them. But casual observation's shown the only things Thargoids will aggress for are Guardian items or Thargoid items. We also know Aegis has collected some of them for the development of AX weapons, so there's a reason enough for Thargoids to attack.

We also know some mega-ship logs refer to bringing "things" on board which possibly provoke Thargoid attacks; this could either be Guardian or Thargoid technology given their reactions.

But it doesn't really explain the escalation. It's entirely possible that the Thargoids are getting desperate enough for Meta-Alloys to start launching large-scale attacks for them... but there's also no evidence they'd do that. Either way, this hopefully sheds some more light on potential Thargoid motivations.
 
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Good work. I wonder if we'll ever get enough info on the why of the reactions.

One thing I wasn't sure about ...
- Resin/tech/bio/tissues/heart: They are concerned if you possess it, and are willing to fight you for it if you don't abandon it. However, they have no interest in collecting or keeping it, their only interest is in you not possessing it.
It might be that they're not fighting you for it. Maybe they are seeing you as an enemy given that you're effectively carrying around the scalps of other thargoids, and if you drop them they take that as an apology/indication you came by them by non violent means.

I still think the direct interactions with the thargoids are really well done.
 
What's the most Guardian cargo you've ever seen a Thargoid blow up?

I've had a couple of goes at trying to shoot the ancient relic the Thargoid is shooting, and both times the Thargoid has turned on me after blowing up two relics. The first time I didn't even get a shot off, and the second time I was shooting the wrong relic.

The Thargoid seems much quicker to start attacking me if Guardian items are floating around. Not enough data to tell if the blow up two and then go after me is a pattern yet.
 
Good work. I wonder if we'll ever get enough info on the why of the reactions.

One thing I wasn't sure about ...

It might be that they're not fighting you for it. Maybe they are seeing you as an enemy given that you're effectively carrying around the scalps of other thargoids, and if you drop them they take that as an apology/indication you came by them by non violent means.

I still think the direct interactions with the thargoids are really well done.
Yeah, I might change the wording on this... it was getting late :(

What's the most Guardian cargo you've ever seen a Thargoid blow up?

I've had a couple of goes at trying to shoot the ancient relic the Thargoid is shooting, and both times the Thargoid has turned on me after blowing up two relics. The first time I didn't even get a shot off, and the second time I was shooting the wrong relic.

The Thargoid seems much quicker to start attacking me if Guardian items are floating around. Not enough data to tell if the blow up two and then go after me is a pattern yet.
I once dumped about 25t of Guardian relics, it got through maybe five or six items then I *think* it turned on me. It was hard to tell. It warrants repeating and observing closer
 
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That's one well-made analysis. Thanks for posting it!

A thought about the meta-alloy reactions: to me, a hostage situation came to mind. Namely that the MA pod is valuable enough for the Thargoids that they don't want to risk harming them by attacking your ship. So they'll ask(?) you to let it go, but won't try to force you to do so. For all we know, they might actually be horrified when they discover that you have stolen meta-alloys on board.
 
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I once dumped about 25t of Guardian relics, it got through maybe five or six items then I *think* it turned on me. It was hard to tell. It warrants repeating and observing closer
I wonder if the Silent running technique from the Tissue collection might be worth seeing how many they will collect.
 
I wonder if the Silent running technique from the Tissue collection might be worth seeing how many they will collect.
They shooting guardian stuff, not picking up.

Great post. I wanna add some more. Altogether the reaction to destroyed cargo is also interesting. We know, if we dump meta-alloys, probe/link/sensor and those explode by time, or we shoot it, they going mad like "hell no, you destroyed my stuff, now I destroy you"

A thought about the meta-alloy reactions: to me, a hostage situation came to mind. Namely that the MA pod is valuable enough for the Thargoids that they don't want to risk harming them by attacking your ship. So they'll ask(?) you to let it go, but won't try to force you to do so. For all we know, they might actually be horrified when they discover that you have stolen meta-alloys on board.
It's fits this. They not attacking you if on board, call for help if dumped more, and going mad if you ram/shoot one, or the canister self destruct.

On other thing, people. They don't bother if on board, they picks up if dumped but not calling help. And just tested for science: I shoot down a Slave canister from the "tractor beam" (hell, 3 gimballed multicannon cant hit a canister below 1km...) and she just turned around silently and went back scanning the wrecks. Like " oh well, I tried"
 
That's one well-made analysis. Thanks for posting it!

A thought about the meta-alloy reactions: to me, a hostage situation came to mind. Namely that the MA pod is valuable enough for the Thargoids that they don't want to risk harming them by attacking your ship. So they'll ask(?) you to let it go, but won't try to force you to do so. For all we know, they might actually be horrified when they discover that you have stolen meta-alloys on board.
Yup. This is why I suggested the term "desperate happiness" for the sound they make, and compared it to both the sound when they kill a ship, and also the sound of their death. It's a mixed reaction, but more positive than the other reactions to other cargoes. There's a whole host of possibilities for what the sound could mean, but I personally wouldn't dare to try and pinpoint one and say "that's it".

Great post. I wanna add some more. Altogether the reaction to destroyed cargo is also interesting. We know, if we dump meta-alloys, probe/link/sensor and those explode by time, or we shoot it, they going mad like "hell no, you destroyed my stuff, now I destroy you"
So I haven't looked closely at their reactions to destroying things yet. I know:
- They've gotten angry when I scoop something they are scooping. I haven't experienced if that's just proximity anger, or anger due to my theft, or if it results in outright hostilities.
- I have had a Thargoid react with hostility due to me destroying <something>, but i believe this was a result of splash damage. I'm intrigued that there may be different reactions to destroying different things.

Again, keen to get out and do some more research :)
 
Interesting to figure out how Thargoids react in groups. Yesterday I was hyperdicted and definitely had 75 tons of Meta-Alloy aboard. One Thargoid approached my ship from behind, scanned, then immediately jumped away while my systems were coming back online. A second approached right around that time, but by then I had started boosting away to get some distance so I could jump. I saw the HUD symbology that indicated it had deployed Tharglets, and while my FSD was spooling up it decided to jump away itself.
 
On other thing, people. They don't bother if on board, they picks up if dumped but not calling help. And just tested for science: I shoot down a Slave canister from the "tractor beam" (hell, 3 gimballed multicannon cant hit a canister below 1km...) and she just turned around silently and went back scanning the wrecks. Like " oh well, I tried"
I think more people would rather hear the words... "conscripted test subject"
 
I think there's an extremely high chance that the Thargoid attacks on stations are a direct response to AEGIS stockpiling and researching Guardian artifacts in their labs.
 
Great summary, cheers.

I gave a Cyclops a heart and could have sworn it picked it up before getting angry, but perhaps not then.


Interesting that we had a Galnet hint that they were not intending to destroy the stations:

https://community.elitedangerous.com/en/galnet/uid/5a328aebaac37e273a5d4ea8

“It’s like they wanted to cripple us rather than destroy us outright.”


Implies a level of care in their actions, and that they do hold human life to be valuable in some regard. They could be entirely indifferent, but are not.


Could it be that they needed to obtain the quantities of MAs or other items stored in the labs, and it was their only means of obtaining it? Could it even be that they're trying to help us, by dispersing these items before they attract the attention of more openly hostile Thargoids?


Also worth noting that every station with an Aegis lab under attack or repair develops a black market shortly afterwards. I initially assumed that this was the case before the attack, but Factabulous observed via eddb.io or similar that in fact the black market is added afterwards...
 
Are you planning on doing any testing of combinations? I still hold out hope that Frontier put in a mechanism for us to "make friends" with the Thargoids.
 
So the tharg seems to be "longing" for Meta Alloys?
Like a dog for a treat?
Do they eat that stuff?
Or do they "mate" with the originators of the MA?
 
I once dumped about 25t of Guardian relics, it got through maybe five or six items then I *think* it turned on me. It was hard to tell. It warrants repeating and observing closer
Seems no change, treats each relic individually, vs noticing a group of Thargoid relics

[video=youtube_share;tndu_qk6PU4]https://youtu.be/tndu_qk6PU4[/video]
 
Could it be Meta Alloys are Thargoid food which is why they harvest it and are elated when you have it? Or could they be something much more sinister like Thargoid hatchling's?
 
Could it be Meta Alloys are Thargoid food which is why they harvest it and are elated when you have it? Or could they be something much more sinister like Thargoid hatchling's?
My pet theory is it's the Thargoid equivalent of Onionhead.

Though maybe they need meta-alloys to stop the Mycoid fungus eating them.
 
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