In this thread I have started a guide on the scavenger class. The class is relatively new and I did not find a guide for it. Please help with your suggestions / corrections! There is an active thread on steam with more feedback:
It's certainly not necessary to unlock the scavenger class as your captain. Lots of starting setups will work; here is my favorite. Lots of people have their own favorites. Players on impossible level will probably want to follow guides for that instead.
Contacts B: first three are local: fixer, retired explorer, salvage broker. Then military commander (for engineers) and others according to your taste. I unlocked prospector, for explorers, and ex-spy, for spies.
Ship C: any of them are fine; I like to start out earning money with trade so I unlocked the Galtak Freighter. It starts with 75 cargo capacity.
Experience D: commander, to have at least some command dice.
For contacts, obviously you need a few with salvage recruits and salvage rumors. Salvage missions generate intel and gear to sell off, so a contact who sells (and buys) gear is helpful. The fixer has all those; retired explorer and salvage broker have most of them.
For starting officer jobs, take scavenger, military officer (for stiff salute), smuggler (for early missions, holdout is a must-have). Many people have a doctor-combat medic with a third weapon skill for the combat team.
For starting crew talents, get two skill saves for every ship area, one doctor, and either one command or one intimidate. If you have started as commander, you can get both command and intimidate.
Early crew leveling
As soon as your doctor levels, add combat medic and get a second doctor skill save. Try to get two command and two intimidate saves as soon as possible, via secondary jobs like pirate, military officer, or commander. This is basic advice for all builds.
Many classes have one or two talents that help at the scavenging (orbital) card mini-game. This mini-game has a lot of bad results, so you will need a lot of talents for it. The talents that improve yield are nice, but secondary. Look for: * Crew Dog: reroll at level 1 * Engineer (officer, or from your military commander contact): replace at level 8 * Gunner: remove at level 5 * Mechanic: replace at level 5 * Pirate: replace at level 8 * Scavenger: reroll at level 1, remove and replace at level 5, new hand at level 15 Other classes are less likely to contribute.
You will also want one solid combat crew with at least 2-3 secondary fighters as backups in case you get stuck with a double stack crew combat. There are many different opinions on how many combat officers you should have; I use two: the doctor/CM and a front line swordsman/assassin. Soldiers are a cheap but effective way to fill the middle slots and backups. Specialize some in slot 2 and some in slot 3 with the appropriate weapon for the slot.
Many classes also have talents that improve the number of rumors you hear. This can be a cheap way to find out about salvage locations.
I don't recommend rushing right into scavenging. For the first year I only leave the home system to drop off the arbiter. Do one or two local missions for each local contact, and pick trade items based on the destination. Get the level 1 trade permit soon. Round out your crew with at least two scavengers. Build up your reputation with your local contacts. Find a military 9 planet where you can get the A5 weapon locker upgrade. Find a trade law 2 indie planet to sell artifacts; for common map seeds, you can find locations on the steam forum. Make a note of any low law level indie planets where you will be able to sell rare trade goods.
Early ship upgrades
I get the A5 weapons locker as soon as I have enough credits. Depending on the starport and whether you have an engineer with Assisted Installation, this may be 70-110K credits, plus I would keep 20K as a reserve. This requires a military 9 planet, which you will usually come across during initial exploration. Then a nav assist 4 to escape, a second passenger cabin, and upgrade the barracks to have room for additional crew specialists. Some people may want to upgrade the barracks sooner to start leveling more specialists. I don't usually upgrade the starter ship apart from these; thereafter I keep almost my income to save for a good second ship. My suggestion for ship combat at this point is "run away". Pick escape with a pilot/nav talent to boost escape; fire torpedos if you want.
Your first scavenging mission
I suggest a good trigger to start scavenging is to have at least 8 talents for the orbital mini-game and the nav 4 assist. This may be around crew level 8-10. Invest 10K in a rumor from one of your starting contacts; hopefully your rep is high enough to get a good one which is not too far away. Then go scavenge!
The worst cards at this point will be xeno ship combat, xeno double or single crew combat, other double crew combat, and double death. For these, a reroll talent should be sufficient; it's possible, but unlikely that the reroll will be any worse. Keep using the remove and replace talents as available on the worst card in each round. Keep in mind that if there are two cards you want to avoid, replace is better than remove; the chances of getting the second bad card are higher if you remove one. Assuming you have at least 8 talents available, they should come off cooldown fast enough to keep up with the worst cards. Your nav assist 4 will help escape any ship combat cards you can't get rid of.
You will get contacts killed, so it is helpful to have a few extra contacts built up from the e-tech and navigator talents. Your reputation with the owning faction will go up and down by huge amounts, but you can't really control which faction this happens to; salvage events happen where they happen.
Crew gear results seem pretty common. Equip the best gear onto your combat officers, and any stat-boosting gear onto your non-combat officers.
Between scavenging missions
You will wind up with extra gear. Sell them at your gear contact.
Pick where you want to sell any intel you got. Your best bet is a contact who sells salvage rumors, and also buys intel, and also has high influence, and also has low personal rep. Intel gets less valuable as it ages, so make a point to keep selling it.
Don't forget to look for new stashes under the cargo tab after a scavenging run completes. These can contain a variety of rare trade goods. When a salvage ends, sometimes you will have to make long trips to retrieve these stashes and sell them at the indie planets you have discovered. It's nice to sell at high demand planets, but if it makes your trip shorter, you could sell some trade goods at indie planets despite demand F.
Get in the habit of looking in the news tab on the starport window once per landing, after you use the spice hall. It's easy to miss rumors scrolling by in the event log, but occasionally you will see a salvage rumor you can reach in time.
It's worthwhile to patrol to repair reputation to +20 and travel around to let your contact talents trigger. You may find steady income by doing passenger missions for your contacts. When you are ready, pay for the next salvage and repeat.
Your second ship
I usually set a goal to get one million credits on my starter ship, and then buy a fully upgraded midrange ship. Once you have this, you can decide if that ship should support ship combat. Building for that is covered in many other guides. Salvaging is based on a number of skill pools, including pilot and electronics, so you may want boosters that focus on those. Defense Matrix is a good suggestion, even if you weren't already including them for any combat build. The salvage bay doesn't count as cargo (you need another cargo hold somewhere) but this definitely increases your income from scavenging.
Later scavenging missions
If you have a combat ship, then you can really get a lot of ship combats fast when scavenging. Still be careful of xeno ships unless you know you can handle them, but definitely fight all the ships of factions where you have low rep anyway. Mechanics with Orchestrated Salvage will increase your income.
I find that with about 12 talent cards for the mini-game and a solid combat crew, you can stay indefinitely at the location; the cards come off cooldown fast enough. Your mileage may vary, especially based on death saves and your combat crew.