Elite Dangerous Surviving Pirates Guide
Elite Dangerous Surviving Pirates Guide by foofad
There’s been some negative drama recently over griefers and pirates, so I wanted to put together a short guide for traders and anyone else on things you should and shouldn’t do in order to survive an encounter with someone who wants your cargo or your life.
First, I want to define a couple of things. There’s a huge difference between a pirate, a griefer, and someone who just wants to PvP.
Pirates (or privateers in some cases, as they may prefer to be called if they’re state sanctioned; like anti-slavers, trade CG disruptors, etc) are motivated by money, fun, and roleplay. Not necessarily in that order. An encounter with a pirate is the most survivable of the three kinds of players you might bump into that want to do you some kind of harm. When you blow up, so too does your cargo, and a pirate wants your cargo. Therefore it’s 100% in the pirate’s best interest for you not to explode, and making you explode is a tactic of last resort: The only real reason to blow you up is to impress upon you and everyone else that there is a tradeoff in ignoring their request to cargo. It’s a bargaining tool. A shooty, violent one – but not the end goal.
PvPers are motivated by fun, roleplay, and explosions. The more explosions the better. Some care who explodes, some don’t. Most do so in good cheer, as it’s more about the good time than anything else. Sidewinder fightclubs, organized fleet battles, system police, and so forth like player competition becuase it’s fun. I also place player bounty hunters in this category – the money on a particularly nasty bountyhead can be good, but it’s more about the thrill of punishing the wicked than it is the limited paydays that are few and far between. Ultimately though, an encounter with a PvPer is going to end in an explosion because explosions are the end goal. An encounter with a PvPer may be survivable depending on context – have a 200cr bounty from accidental friendly fire? You’ll survive encounters with some bounty hunters but not others.
Griefers are motivated by fun, explosions, and tears. Station rammers, gankers, and the like. An encounter with a griefer is the least survivable of any, because they care about nothing other than driving you crazy and blowing stuff up. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
With all of that said, let’s talk tactics!
Starting with the interdiction: The odds of you evading the interdiction against anything other than an Anaconda are pretty slim, so generally speaking the best way to survive is to lower your FSD cooldown as much as possible. The way you do that is by submitting. To do so, simply throttle all the way down and you will drop out of the interdiction into normal space with a tremendously reduced FSD cooldown.
The number one rule post-interdiction: Never, ever fly in a straight line. A pirate’s overriding priority is to knock out your drives, and if you fly in a straight line all you’re doing is providing them the best, most stable target possible. Taking down your drives means the pirate has gotten complete advantage in the situation and you no longer have any reasonable hope of escape without being destroyed or complying with their cargo demands. Maneuvering dramatically increases your chance of survival whether or not you can outrun the pirate. However, running from a pirate – especially if they’ve told you to stop or be destroyed – is a gamble. But it’s a much better gamble than running in a straight line.
The number two rule post-interdiction: For the love of God, say something. Anything. It doesn’t need to be complicated: Hello, what do you want? is all you need. This is incredibly important because it establishes to the pirate that you’re A Talker. This appeals to the fun and roleplay aspects of piracy on the one hand, but increases your chance of survival as well. This is because now that the pirate knows that you’ll talk (it’s stunning how many encounters go by silently, no matter how much you say to them), it opens up the option of negotiation. The pirate needs you alive to get your cargo, so being blown up helps no one. If the pirate’s demand for 40 tons of cargo is outrageous, haggle with them. “40 tons would bankrupt me, I’ll give you 25.” They might pop you a few times for that. “Okay, 30!” Now you’re talking. You drop the cargo, they start scooping, and you haul ass.
The number three rule post-interdiction: If you want to survive, don’t be an asshole. Telling someone who has a gun to your head that they’re the scum of the earth isn’t going to win you any favors, and you may end up getting blown up purely out of spite. The goal of the encounter is to form a working rapport with the pirate so that you can both come to an agreeable compromise. Some days, compromise is going to be unloading your entire hold so you keep your ship. Other days the pirate may let you go for a pittance. If you keep the encounter fun and interesting, chances are good that everything will work out. You might even be able to cut a deal, or make the pirate a paid escort – and that makes a much better story to tell than “I called him a dick and he blew me up.”
A few words of warning… Not every pirate is going to let you go after he takes your cargo. Those guys are bad pirates; the goal is to encourage cooperation, and killing people either way doesn’t do that. To be as safe as possible, dump your cargo and immediately start evading while charging your FSD. Most pirates will be more concerned about getting paid than chasing you down to finish you off. Also, jumping to a system as opposed to jumping to supercruise avoids masslock from player ships, so it’s much faster. I suspect that this is either a bug or otherwise unintended gameplay, so don’t get too attached to it.
Shady tactics: Did that pirate refuse your offer of 30 tons and demand more? Go ahead and agree… then drop 30 anyway. Chances are good that he won’t take the time to count the cannisters on his contacts list. Just remember that he can count how many tons are in his hold, and if he finds out you swindled him you may be in for retribution. Similarly, if the pirate doesn’t specify which cargo to drop from your mixed load, then by all means go ahead and drop the food, not the gold. Depending on your ship, it may also be a good idea to go ahead and arm yourself – very few pirates in Cobras are ballsy enough to go after a Python that is clearly armed. If you’re trading in an Asp, you may very well be able to go toe to toe with a Cobra.
That covers pirates, what about everyone else? All three rules still apply. Don’t fly in a straight line, say something to them, and don’t be rude. This can get you out of trouble with bounty hunters and PvPers, and it may save you against a griefer too.
Ultimately, you should not fear Open Play as a trader. Getting pirated can be an entertaining diversion on an otherwise incredibly tedious trade run. Yes, you’ll lose profit, but any endeavor with zero risk is pretty boring. Plus, no one cares about that time you made a lot of money in solo. That time you outsmarted a pirate is a much more compelling narrative.
Let me know if you have any questions.