Some (probably stupid) questions to which I couldn't find answers

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MeiSooHaityu

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I never really ally with a faction. There are some advantages, but overall it limits the number of contracts you qualify for since other factions won't like you, plus normally a faction only has one or two special faction stores with goodies. Most factions (the main House Govs anyway) have a Flashpoint specific to you becoming an ally, but that is really the biggest benefit IMO.

I find it better to be nice to the pirates and buy into the Black Market. It is like having "Faction Stores" everywhere and you don't need to ally with the pirates. That way you can still be on good terms with everyone and your pool of contracts stays plentiful.

It means you need to balance your rep which can be a little tricky, but making the Local Government the OpFor when possible, a long with taking certain Flashpoints at certain times helps you work to make everyone happy with you.
 

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Don't ally with the pirates. They don't have a special mission (flashpoint) and everyone else will hate you. The other factions do have a special flashpoint when you ally, and allow access to their faction store.

Is the faction store better than the Black Market?

I don't have any DLC and the wiki seems a bit... odd in its layout and organization when I try to look stuff up on it.
 

Jade_Rook

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The general consensus is that the faction stores are weaker than the black market. They generally have a very limited selection of faction appropriate equipment. High quality, but I don't think they have the lostech that shows up in the black market.

The biggest reason to ally with a faction is to get their alliance mission.
 
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Harmon Ward

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Hmm, that post went up before I was finished.

I did have an additional question, though: Is there any point in actually allying with any faction? Even the pirates?

The in-game text mentions special contracts only available to allies. But are these every worth it? I could ally with the pirates right now, but I would lose discounts with a few other factions. And I do sometimes buy stuff from non-pirates. And I grab contracts from everyone.
Agreed, never become allies with the Pirates. The Faction Stores, if you ally with one of the Great Houses, can be useful as noted above. Each Faction Store specializes in one group of weapons (Lasers, Autocannons) or Equipment that can give you a huge tech advantage real fast.
However, you need constant access to good contracts to keep improving, and becoming enemies with other great houses really cuts down on your contract options.
 
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Secret Master

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However, you need constant access to good contracts to keep improving, and becoming enemies with other great houses really cuts down on your contract options.

That's what I thought.