Working the background simulation. Guide by Turlorn.

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This guide aims to cover all the basics for the BGS and also shows you how to support your personal faction and help them gaining stations and even systems.
This guide is brought to you by the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps (AEDC). Doing the dirty work for the Alliance.
1. States
1.1 What are states?
The human inhabited bubble consists of over 10.000 star-systems. Each system is home to several minor factions. These minor factions have influence in the systems they are in.
Depending of how influence values shift through player interaction, different states can be triggered. There is a total of ten different states in game.
Each minor faction can only have one state at any time, even when it is present in more than one system.

Here is a table of all the states with a quick explanation:

Expansion A minor faction has seen a huge growth in influence and is now in the process of expanding to another star-system.
War A minor faction from this system and a minor faction that expanded to this system are in conflict.
Civil War Two minor factions from the same system are in conflict.
Election Two minor factions with the same government type are in peaceful conflict.
Boom This minor faction has been doing exceptionally good economically.
Bust This minor faction faces economical hardship.
Civil Unrest The followers of this faction are not amused about the security their faction provides.
Famine This faction is in dire need of food.
Outbreak This faction is in dire need of medicine.
Lockdown This faction failed to uphold law and order.
1.2 Where to look for states
States of minor factions can be found on the system map. All minor factions of this system are listed here with their states and influence values.
1.3 Pending states
Pending states are states that are about to become active soon. They can be found in your right hand info panel under "status" when scrolling one page to the right (standard-key: D).
More on the duration of pending states in the following topic.
1.4 The duration of states
All states have a specific duration for going from pending to active and a specific duration for cool down. Active states can last for up to four weeks.

Here is a table with all the durations measured in days:

  Count down Min length Max length Cool down
Expansion 5 3 5 2
War 3 3 28 0
Civil War 3 3 28 0
Election 3 3 5 2
Boom 2 3 28 3
Bust 2 3 28 3
Civil Unrest 1 3 7 3
Famine 3 3 28 25
Outbreak 4 3 28 7
Lockdown 1 3 14 1

Data provided by Michael Brookes from Frontier Development

2. Ways of affecting influence
As we have already heard, states heavily depend on the manipulation of influence values. This can be achieved by all the activities in Elite Dangerous.
2.1 Missions
When accepting missions you might have wondered what the meaning of this influence (low, medium, high) is. This comes to play in the BGS. Missions are a good way for manipulating influence values and seeing some of the surounding systems.
Doing missions is a must when a faction doesn't have its own station yet.
2.2 Trading/Mining
As soon as your faction has its own station you can use other means of supporting them. You can use your trading ship and trade with the station of your faction.
Selling them goods with a good profit results in an increase of influence. Important to note here is that rare goods don't count towards the BGS.

Alternatively you can fly your mining ship to the nearest pristine metallic ring and mine for valuable ores and minerals. Selling these (coupled with mining missions if possible) gives this faction also an increase in influence.

2.3 Bounty hunting
If your faction of choice is the ruling faction of a system, you can support them by "arresting" bad guys. Simply fly to location that is frequented by wanted ships and collect their bounty.
Afterwards cash the bounty in at the nearest station controlled by the faction you want to support. Only bounty issued by your faction helps them gain influence.
Cashing in other bounties might be advantageous for other factions.
2.4 Combat
When two factions are in a state of war or civil war, you can hop into their conflict zones and fight for one faction. Make sure to switch to this faction in your funtions tab.
Cashing in combat bonds at the nearest station helps this faction in their war effort and might provide them with a new station.
2.5 Exploration
Even when scanning systems outside the bubble or simply honking undiscovered systems inside the bubble, you can still support your faction by selling your exploration data at their station. Be carefull not to sell too much at once since you might waste influence. Limit yourself to a maximum of 10 million in exploration data per day and per faction.

This table shows you what kind of action is best used when certain states are active:

State Effect
Expansion All activities contribute
War Only combat actions and combat missions contribute
Civil War Only combat actions and combat missions contribute
Election Combat actions and combat missions do not contribute
Boom Trade contributes double in this state
Bust Trade double reduction of boom but no influence
Civil Unrest Collecting bounties has double the effect
Famine Combat actions and missions do not contribute but food has double the effect
Outbreak Combat actions and missions do not contribute but medicine has double the effect
Lockdown Activities have no effect for the duration

Data provided by Michael Brookes from Frontier Development

3. Working the BGS on your own
3.1 Finding the right system
With the information provided so far you might like to try it out for yourself. If so, the first thing you have to do is find a suitable system. You have to keep in mind that the more inhabitants a system has, the more work is required for changing the influence.
Systems with up to 1.5 million inhabitants should easily be managable by a single commander.
You also have to consider the amount of players that is active in a system since other players will negate your actions unintenionally. The number of players that enter a system can be found at each station.

Systems like Leesti see a huge amount of player activity, however there are systems that see no players in weeks. Such systems can be found at the outskirts of the bubble.
The Alliance Fringe Development Programme is happy to provide you with such systems if you like supporting Alliance minor factions.
3.2 Observing the system
As soon as you have found a good system you should observe its influence values and states. By doing so you can easily see if other commanders are active in this system.
Most importantly you can keep track of your own progress which is highly motivating and allows you to plan ahead.
This is best done with an Excel sheet.
3.3 Working the system
As soon as you are certain, that no other commanders are active in this system you can begin "working the BGS" in this system. Do a handfull of missions first (low and medium influence) and observe the increase of influence you cause with these missions.
The next day you could try all the other activities and observe the results.
Important to remember: the influence and states change once a day. This is currently around 11:30 Galactic Mean Time (GMT).
4. Working the BGS as a group
Working the BGS as a group has the advantage that even in high population systems influence can be shifted pretty quick. Additionally it is simply more fun in a group.
There is quite a number of player groups that are supporting at least one minor faction. These groups have powerful tools outside of Elite for tracking the influence values and states and for organising all the required activities.
If you find the BGS to be interesting, simply join such a group.
If you don't want to sign up at a player group just yet, you can always participate in an activity like the Alliance Fringe Development Programme.
5. Swinging the influence in your favour
The following is a basic strategy on how to gain control over a system with a minor faction that is on place three or below that and doesn't control a single station.
5.1 The way to conflict
So you picked a faction you would like to support but it is somewhere on the lower ranks in a system and doesn't control a station you can land at. You can change this with a little effort.

The first thing you want to do is push your faction into a conflict with another faction that controls a station. To do this simply accomplish some missions for your faction so you equalise influence.
If the nearest faction holding a station is below you, simply accomplish some missions for that faction.
As soon as both factions have the some influence values a conflict should be pending.

Critical to note here: if you fail multiple times to equalise and overshoot each time, one of the factions already has a conflict in a system nearby (20 LY away, max.).
Both factions also need to have at least 7.3% influence each.
5.2 Solving a conflict
As soon as a conflict goes pending you have three days to push further with missions. When the conflict goes active you can only influence the outcome with combat activities.

If you triggered a civil war you should create a difference of 5% between the two factions. In case you triggered a war, you should separate them at least by 15%. Only then a winner can be designated and a station changes ownership.
5.3 Pushing to expansion
Congratulations! You have helped a minor faction to gain control over a station. Now you can continue to support them with activities that require you to land a their station. You can now get into conflict will all the oter factions above you. And claim control over this system.

As soon as you are the controling faction you can push for expansion. Expansion triggers at 75% influence and lets your faction branch out to a nearby systems (20 LY max. distance).

In this new system you can now start the circle anew and gain control over stations and the system itself. But do not trigger an expansion in this new system or else you will lose overview very quickly.
5.4 Dealing with a boom state
When supporting a faction, espacially when the control a station, you can easily trigger a boom state with any activity. Getting rid of such a boom state is important when you want to queue an expansion.
You could do some pirating in order to remove the boom. However this will also reduce the influence of the faction, so it is not recommended.

Some players have reported that you can trade away a boom state simply by trading with this faction's station. This is not confirmed but worth a try if you can't do the following.
You can supersede a boom state simply by triggering a conflict (war, civil war or election) in another system your faction is in. If your faction hasn't expanded yet, you can try trading or waiting.

I hope this guide helped to provide you with a basic understanding of the background simulation.

If you want to read about more advanced stuff concerning the BGS, please rate and/or leave a comment below and I might write more guides on the BGS.

Right on, commander!
Hamster AEDC