Guide / Tutorial Piracy Guide - Crime pays (up to 170 mil per hour)

Hello CMDRs,

Since the april update piracy is a worthwhile endeavor, not only in payouts, but also in regard to gameplay mechanics. Since I've been asked how to do it, here is my guide to become a wealthy criminal:

The possible payout first (This was a T-9 full of LTDs):

Step 1: Know where and who you're hunting
The most important question is, where are the traders/victims? Generally You can find in most systems the "Private Courier" as a semi-rare NPC spawn, this is always a good target and if you are lucky, they carry illegal goods, which will hinder them calling the cops (needs a manifest scan first).
The following is not fully verified since the January update. There are still LTD miners. The most interesting hunting grounds as of now are industrial or high tech systems. The miners (ships carrying a mining laser) have at least a good change to carry LTDs. You can roughly expect the following number of carried tons (these have also changed since January and are generally lower):

Diamondback (Scout and Explorer): ~16 tons
Asps, Keelback: ~22 tons
T-6, Krait Phantom: ~40 tons
Krait MK2, Python: ~65 tons
T-7: ~80 tons
T-9: ~200 tons (!)

As you see, the T-9 is the absolute jackpot for any aspiring pirate lord, but there is even good money in interdicting several Asps. Also important is the experience level of your victim, everything below "competent" is usually easy to subdue. Above "competent" the loadout of the ships usually becomes more dangerous and you should expect at least mines, turrets and point defence. Every pirate should expect a dangerous victim, so get those shieldboosters and engineer them (This is especially true for high sec and med sec systems)! Supercruise the system and scan every ship you come across, if you find one of the above, interdict it.
Important Addition: As of the data our squadron the crimson privateers collected [big thanks to Captain Pugwash_64!] it looks as if the trade and combat rank influences the spawn of trader NPC's in-game, while we don't know the exact numbers there seems to be a considerable difference even between Tycoon and Elite. There is one thing that can help those still below Elite: Hunting together, while the netcode has some difficulties when hunting the same trader, the chance of good prey massively improves when an experienced CMDR joins. So if you are having difficulties with finding traders, think about joining the crimson privateers (infos below)!

Step 2:Take what you can, give nothing back

The interdicted NPCs will start running as soon as you arive in realspace and will often be far less shaken than you are, so hit boost to turn your ship towards your victim and get the cannons ready! Your ship should at least get to a boost speed of 370 m/s. Everything below that won't be able to follow the faster NPCs. Now that you're sticking to the heels of your victim, shoot the shield down however you want, but be careful not to wreck the ship at this point. Lasers in general are great for this. The shield is down and your victim probably wants to start the frameshift drive to get away. That's where the more specialised weapons come to play. Target the drives of your victim, because there is no way to jump without drives. The easiest way to disable the drives are seeker missiles, but they can also destroy an unshielded Asp or Keelback quite quickly, so don't use every weapon on board, just two seeker racks is enough. Four missiles will disable almost all of the ships above.

Unfortunately your victim is now adrift in space and keeps his original velocity until something stops the ship. Since simply ramming the ship, will at this point (4 seeker hits) destroy the ship and all the LTDs on board, this has to be done carefully. You should wait for the shields of your victim to regenerate, to give him a chance of survival and yourself a chance to plunder. While the shields regenerate carefully match the speed of the victims ship. Try to do this without boosting first, if you can only follow the ship while boosting the following manouver is still possible, but more difficult. Now both you and your victim are speeding through the void, maybe his turrets are still shooting at you or he keeps spewing mines (remember the shieldboosters?). Very carefully try to overtake your victim and get in front of his ship and brake by throttling to zero (FA On is important here, because it will slowly slow you down). Since you nearly matched the velocity of the other ship, the "crash" won't do much damage, but your victim will start tumbling around at a reduced velocity. This manouver has to be repeated until the ship has a velocity that is below 30 m/s, otherwise your limpets will hate you.

This is the moment you worked for, get your hatchbreakers and collector limpet out and drain that cargohold dry.


The whole manouver takes roughly ten minutes, strongly depending on your skills. In theory this also works with players, but most will know how to reboot or simply combat log (Frameshift reboot dumbfires are also necessary).

Step 3: Call upon your inner Han Solo

You will now be the target of NPC pirates and depending on the mode you are playing, you are also the target of other players(me for example, those hatchbreaker modules are a dead giveaway). Find yourself a spot to rest and go to to look for your long range smuggling target. If you sell the diamonds somewhere near, you can usually expect half a million per ton, but if you choose the station carefully (with a black market!), payouts of 900.000 per ton are possible, but there will be a long range smuggling run necessary.

Some final notes:

Pirate ships are multirole ships, you can forget the mamba or fer-de-lance. Get an Asp, Cobra, Python, Krait or one of the big three. Get yourself good shields and shieldboosters. High sec and medium sec systems are only good for piracy if you are either sitting in one of the big three, or you fly with a wing.

PS: Play in open - piracy shouldn't be safe ;-).
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I am too much of a goody toe-shoes to perform acts of plunder and piracy, but I enjoyed this post.

I also like that piracy CAN be profitable in the game. I am a relatively new player and had gotten the impression (from reddit and forums) that it just wasn't viable. Your screenshot at the top of the post shows that to be really inaccurate information!
An addition to the guide:

I've noticed that piracy is actually far easier done in secured systems than I originally thought it to be. The small detail making this possible is the fact that authority ship calls are actually automatic, localized (!) and only happen once within an attack. This means that disabling a traders drives while speeding after him, will move your ship away from the point where the police arrives. This coupled with the high speed of the chase can be improved by running silent, so that the police never realizes what happens and you can actually rob a whole t-7 inside a secured system:


I emptied this ship while being in the medium security system Tchernobog, because the authority ships never found the crime scene.

And a small call-to-arms for those who might be interested: With the help of another experienced CMDR, I created the Squadron "Crimson Privateers". We are in the process of organising and planning a slightly covert aproach to the bgs and piracy (PvE and PvP). If you are interested in joining a Squadron of pirates, earning big money in the progress and have no problems with creating some havoc on the way (in open) give us a call. [CRPR] (an Inara membership is needed for coordination and we are on PC). We need pirates, smugglers and every other type of galactic scum.
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I've checked out some Agri systems in boom with decent size populations, anarchy & high security systems & not having much luck finding ships with mining lazers. Am i doing something wrong?

edit: fount some, but have trouble interdicting them, they seem to always be to close to a planet i think
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Perhaps you're in a PP control system? I've seen those PP ships essentially overwriting the spawn of other trade ships.
Otherwise there might be an other state affecting the spawn? It can take some time until a ship spawns, that's essentially random, but you can force a respawn by going into realspace and then into supercruise again.
yeah i think i was, was hunting in an alliance system, was seeing tons of alliance ambassadors. I think every 1 in 10 was a mining ship, tricky to interdict since they'll always sort of near the mining belts. I've pulled out of that system now, & trying an anarchy one instead since the security was a bit to much then i expected. Thank will try resetting the NPC spawns with what you mentioned. I'm hoping this anarchy system my be ok. its Orrere (Sharon Free Market) got a black market there too. Apparently it is 'booming' & a 'agri' system, can see a few resource extraction sites too where i suspect they might spawn from, couldn't see much last time so tried a high security system just make sure the dev hadn't patched it out or something. now come back to Orrere retry my luck here. Not sure if Orrere is a PP system, should be independent too.
Thanks for this guide & help, making quite a bit dough while having some fun. Do have trouble sometimes getting them to stop or slow them down & sometimes even though i've shot out their drives they still sometimes managed to jump away even without rebooting, so not sure if the NPC are outright cheating there or not. But thanks for the great guide & help dude.
I'm happy to help. If I can help with details, you can also contact me ingame (same name).
sometimes even though i've shot out their drives they still sometimes managed to jump away even without rebooting
This has happened to me only with other CMDRs present. I think it's a network bug.
I'm happy to help. If I can help with details, you can also contact me ingame (same name).

This has happened to me only with other CMDRs present. I think it's a network bug.
ah i see, dang it, doesn't happen to often, most of time they leave a sprawling mess of diamonds in their wake stretched out over 10 km or so. Managed to bait them a couple of times so that they will turn around & fight, but not got it nailed down as a proven science or what i need to do to get it work all the time yet.

Yeah at the weekends me & my buddy, i showed him your guide, he was buzzing for pulling these heist off, the guy absolute detest trading, so it was a great way to get him into game. Thanks man
Hi, I'm interested in giving this a try but as a newbie I don't really know what ship and which modules I will need. Any suggestions would be welcome. I'm looking for beginner as well as advanced builds so I can get a better idea of how to further optimize my build once I have more money to spare.
The best starter ship would certainly be a Cobra or if you want to upgrade later for combat capabilities a Chieftain. Both ships have enough space for some cargo and enough speed and weaponry to stop a ship. My squadrons starting piracy vessel for those new to the game is this one:
It can be upgraded into a PvP or PvE ship later and the loadout works with an unaltered powerplant. There are certainly more effective builds, but for starting with a single ship and not much engineering done, this ship can grow with it's pilot.
Thanks for the guide. I tried it out last night and it was great :)

How do I go about finding a black market with a good price for LTD though? is the easiest place. Otherwise systems with boom, investement and piracy attack states will give good prices.

I've also updated the guide, as agriculture systems in boom is a good rule of thumb, but not entirely accurate.
Since the most recent update, I have noticed that ships with refineries spawning in Agricultural systems in boom are no longer guaranteed to carry LTDs. I searched for about 2 hours yesterday and found none. Can anyone confirm? Where are they spawning now?
At this point it seems there is no reliable way of finding LTDs. Another somewhat profitable target are the private couriers, which sometimes appear all systems.
Some members of my squad have been doing some experiments and they report that LTD miners now seem to spawn in systems (regardless of economy or state) in which LTDs are in high demand. I have not confirmed.
The experiments are going well at least, since we are finding them. For me this feels like a realism buff as gut feeling is that they're turning up in places where you'd realistically expect to see high value stuff imported (e.g. tourism and high-tech). Boom state seems to be important as well still and as mentioned, demand seems to be important as it may affect the number of ships with refineries coming through a system.

Very early days and I cant emphasise 'gut feeling' enough in what I've seen, so I'm open to being proven wrong here (in fact, please do go ahead and try as we'll at least be closer to the right answer).
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