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Pirates are NPCs and players who attack other ships for their cargo for monetary gain as the primary goal.

Player pirates are partially smugglers, because they need to sell stolen cargo on the black market. The Crime & Punishment system affects PVP and piracy.

Playing as a pirate Edit

Pirates operate anywhere in the Elite universe, but low-security systems where system security and defenses are weak or absent are the most lucrative for pirates. Pirating is mostly seen in Anarchy systems, or systems where the minor faction in charge is an Anarchy Government. Most pirating takes places in Anarchy systems as it avoids the attacking pirate gaining a bounty, and avoids response from system security NPCs.

It's worth noting that if the last station you were docked is owned by a minor faction you have, or gain, a bounty with, you'll respawn at that station and have to pay that bounty off if you're destroyed. Thus keeping your last dock at a station in Anarchy space is preferred.

Pirating requires the use of several specific modules to operate successfully. Being able to track down targets between systems requires the use of a Wake Scanner. Pirates must also be able to force targets out of supercruise with the use of a Frame Shift Drive Interdictor. Next, a pirate must be able to ascertain what kind, if any, cargo the ship is carrying, requiring the use of a Cargo Scanner. Without a cargo scanner, a pirate has no way to tell whether a pilot is carrying anything of value, or telling the truth about the type and amount of cargo they are carrying. A pirate then has to be able to obtain the cargo, by force if necessary. This means directly damaging the target's cargo hatch, or using Hatch Breaker Limpets. Lastly, a pirate must have Cargo Racks equipped to hold any looted cargo; Collector Limpets may be used to more efficiently pick up dumped cargo. Being able to effectively do these tasks means the difference between being successful and making a profit, or becoming broke.

Proper ship choice is key to a pirate, as proper offensive and defensive capability is needed, high enough speed to not be outrun by typical cargo vessels is a necessity, and the internal space to carry all modules and cargo racks required is needed.

Pirating NPCs Edit

NPC ships entering and leaving stations carry cargo reflective of each station's Economy and its respective Imports and Exports. These NPC ships may also carry an array of expensive rare commodities such as Scientific Samples.[1] This means that players can choose to pirate the shipping lanes between wealthy stations and outposts that import or export expensive goods - sometimes even laying in wait just beyond No Fire Zones of stations or following the wakes of trade ships.

Piracy missions can be found on the Bulletin Board.

Pirating other players Edit

The philosophy of pirates in Elite is one of simplicity, and draws on the fear of total loss of ship and cargo from attacking players. Pilots either drop some of their cargo to meet the demands of the pirate, or risk death and complete loss of expensive cargo and a pricey insurance payment. Pirates may use any number of activities to assert dominance over the situation and persuade the target into cooperation, (i.e.- mass locking, proving faster speed, or showing superior firepower). Sometimes the simple presence of a large combat ship is enough to pressure a pilot into dumping some of their cargo. In Elite, most pirates only seek cargo and do not actively engage for PvP kills; though will not hesitate to attack if pilots do not cooperate.

Generally, pirates will leave players unharmed if their demands are satisfied, although some will still attack to kill afterwards. However, like any other flamboyant task, those who engage in piracy will start to become known among pilots and those who destroy their targets after receiving cargo will become known for doing so. These pirates will become known as "player killers," and pilots will be less likely to cooperate, instead attempting to escape to the death, leaving the pirate with nothing. It is therefore beneficial to long-term success as a pirate to be careful in what actions are taken and to hold to their word if a promise of no harm is made.

One of the most common methods of pirating involves staying in supercruise at a low speed around a Nav Beacon waiting for players to jump into a system, then using a Frame Shift Drive Interdictor to force targets out of supercruise. Once a target has been interdicted and their cargo scanned, the pirate has numerous options available to them. The pirate can start simply by directly talking to the player; the player may already know they can not out-run or out-gun the pirate and quickly hand over some cargo and move on. The pirate can choose to attack, damaging the cargo hatch until cargo is ejected. Once cargo begins to eject (module ~75-80% health), it is advised to stop shooting, as further damage will not change how much cargo the ship loses; once cargo stops, you can begin to attack the cargo hatch again. Hatch breaker limpets may be used on their own, or in tandem with attack on the cargo hatch - the time needed to hack the cargo hold is related to the health of the target's cargo hatch module. Traders may often jettison cheaper cargo first to draw attention away from themselves and attempt to jump to hyperspace before jettisoning more expensive cargo. A cargo scanner helps prevent this, and gives you more bargaining power by letting the player know you know what they are hauling and what you want ahead of time.

It's possible to pirate players without using Hatch Breaker Limpets, thus freeing a module slot for something else or using a ship with a more limited number of internals. This approach relies on the target manually ejecting some cargo after the pirate makes demands over the comms.

Shooting at players may send them into panic mode, especially if they have not encountered player piracy before. Try mass-locking and using comms first.

Give the ultimatum "Kill your engines or I'll kill you." before asking for cargo. Zeroing thrust is easier to do than dropping cargo, so they are more likely to do it. From there you have the time to talk it over.

Sometimes the target will not respond in comms, but still do as you demand. You still get what you want and can count it as a success.

If you can persuade the target to abandon cargo instead of jettisoning, you can sell it on the normal commodities market instead of the black market. Sometimes the target even asks which way you prefer.

Pick your targets. Since pirating requires some special modules, the ship has reduced offensive or defensive power. It can't fight equally well as the same ship outfitted for bounty hunting, for example. This means that pirating traders in smaller and slower ships is ideal. You can stay on their tail, mass-lock them and they can't kill you.

NPC Pirates Edit

NPC pirates are typically any non-player ship with a bounty attached to it. Typically they come in two varieties; random and event.

Random pirates can be found anywhere in supercruise, inside Resource Extraction sites and Nav Beacons, and overwhelmingly inhabit Compromised Nav Beacons. When scanning any ship these can usually be identified by the bounty they will have as all NPC pirates have some sort of bounty, which scales depending on their ship and rank. Random pirates in supercruise will attempt to interdict the player if they get close and will commonly happen outside Nav Beacons regardless if the player has cargo or not. Strangely if a player interdicts a pirate they will not fight back immediately and will instead merely scan the player for cargo, then supercruise away if they have none. These pirates can also appear in certain Unidentified Signal Sources and will very frequently be in a Wing. In salvaging sources they will usually leave the player alone if they don't see them take the cargo. Be careful as sometimes wings will be very deceptive; it's very common for a ship as weak as an Eagle or Sidewinder to be in a wing with an Anaconda or Fer-de-Lance so take caution.

Event Pirates are more predictable and very common for traders. There are two kinds; ones chasing your cargo and assassins hired to kill you. The former can be generated any time you enter Supercruise or jump to a new system and can be easily identified as they will always hail the player about their large cargo hold before interdiction. Cargo delivery missions will also sometimes generate them and you will often be told by your employer that they are coming. These pirates are always scaled to the player they are hunting; a Sidewinder will be attacked by other Sidewinders, Eagles and occasional Adders and their rank will always be one or two levels higher than yours. Assassins function mostly the same however are much more dangerous. For one they do not care for your cargo and will attack as soon as they interdict. They will also generally fly better ships than typical NPC pirates. These can be spawned during a mission and you will receive a message about their arrival and attack and will gain a bonus if you can eliminate them. They will spawn on rare occasions for delivering data and other legal non-cargo missions. Like other pirates, they will always have a bounty and it will scale with their rank and ship.

Supply runs, where you source a designated amount of cargo, have a rather deadly quirk; unlike assassins, these missions will very commonly spawn pirates, around a 70% chance per mission. Furthermore, these pirates will be even higher level than assassins. For example, a Type-9 normally encounters ships such as Vipers and on very rare occasions Pythons; while pirates for these missions very commonly fly Anacondas and they also have very high rank, becoming Elite while the player is as low as Competent. It is advised to take serious caution on these missions due to this and not to take them in bulk. Note that the wing mission version does not have this issue.

Pirates other than assassins will always demand a certain amount of cargo when they scan you; if you have any, otherwise they will leave disgruntled. Complying will satisfy them and it's a good idea to have the Jettison all cargo command bound to a button for emergencies. Beware that in some cases pirates can start chasing the player again immediately after receiving the cargo so this is only advisable if escape or fighting back are not options.

Playing against pirates Edit

Avoiding becoming a victim of piracy and maintain ownership of all your cargo is helped by knowing how pirates operate, using defensive techniques, and a bit of luck:

  • Avoiding high risk systems.
  • Traveling in wings.
  • Using mines to deter pursuing ships.
  • Using chaff.
  • Using ECM.
  • Becoming efficient in breaking frame shift interdiction, knowing the mechanics of the game (i.e.- submitting to interdiction means a faster FSD cooldown time then failing to avoid interdiction).
  • Utilizing developed PvP techniques and tricks to try and circumvent and outmaneuver pirates.

Dealing with NPC pirates Edit

  • If you dump a small amount of cargo they will stop to pick it up.
  • If a pirate NPC is in a better ship than you, run.

Dealing with player pirates Edit

  • Pirates are often accused of being griefers. While the victim of any pirate attack may view such actions as griefing, the pirate(s) will view the same situation as a legitimate way to play the game.
  • Keep an eye on the comms to see demands made by the pirate.
  • There's such a thing as a good pirate. He isn't a good person, but he's good at what he does. If he talks to you: listen, if you run or shoot first, you will likely die.
  • Losing a portion of cargo might seem very bad, but is a small loss compared to the cost of total haul plus ship rebuy, in case you try resisting the pirate and die.
  • A good pirate knows that if he kills you after you have given up cargo, you will likely add him to his ignore list. That is bad for his long term profits so he shouldn't kill you if you give up cargo.
  • If it's a player in a better, faster ship they will know the tricks to not letting you get away and will likely blow your rear off. Better to meet their demands (or run anyway if they are the shoot first kind).
  • Combat Logging to avoid getting killed will get you reported and your account warned and possibly name-shamed on public sites.

Trivia Edit

As of Patch 1.5, Pirating in Elite was overhauled and the definition of "piracy" broadened. Previously, the term "Pirate" was normally reserved only for players who would actively seek out and prey on other CMDRs hauling valuable cargo, as well as the generic term for any Wanted NPCs that interdict players and that populate Nav Beacons, R.E.S., USS sites, and other locations. After the changes implemented in 1.5, NPC ships entering and leaving stations now carry cargo more reflective of each station's Economy and its respective Imports and Exports. These NPC ships may also carry an array of expensive rare commodities such as Scientific Samples.[1] This means that players can now choose to pirate the shipping lanes between wealthy stations and outposts that import or export expensive goods - sometimes even laying in wait just beyond No Fire Zones of stations or following the wakes of trade ships. New and updated piracy missions were also added to the Bulletin Board. These changes provided a more open-ended path with more choices for players choosing piracy. Players can now engage in a form of piracy that is reliable, lucrative, and well-paying without having to rely on only attacking other players directly; this also had a secondary effect of lessening the social stigma and impact of the term "Pirate." As it's possible to carry out the activities of a pirate without having to attack other players many are more likely openly admit to pirating, leading to open discussion about the profession between players and helping to further piracy as a career. Piracy has become a more lucrative career choice with the potential for a much larger income less reliant on PvP than it had been previously.[2][3]

Videos Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://imgur.com/zZOHoOp
  2. https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=199470
  3. https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=201170