Original forum post here: http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php?p=4634960#4634960
Many players think of 'piracy' as "blowing up ships and picking through the wreckage", but there's more to it, a far better option. Yes, shooting at a ship until it goes BOOM will often result in something left floating around awaiting recovery/clean-up (hey, all you're doing is cleaning up after that litterbug that was inconsiderate enough to scatter itself across the sector, right?), the quantity and quality of the loot will be very limited in the first place, and further so by your fight rank - which means that in the early game the best that you can hope for is a missile, or a bunch of ECs or agricultural produce that you may not even be able to carry (and worth little even then!) However, the entrepreneurial alternative shopper knows that it's actually about getting the transport pilot to understand just what a good idea it would be to part with some (or most, or all!) of his/her valuables. The procedure is precise, but very simple.
WHAT you need:
- A freight scanner: this is non-negotiable, as without this your odds of a successful "persuasion" drop to just about zero.
- A ship with a substantial cargo hold can be very useful - a TM is ideal for its toughness, speed, and ability to host you in your fighter, and so is highly recommended.
- The desire to have what the other guy has.
WHO is your target:
Any freighter or even a fighter-based trader/transporter is a valid target. Ideally, you will want to target weapons dealers, military supply transports, and tech traders - these are the guys that carry the most valuable cargoes. You will mostly be looking at TS, TM, and TP ships. It is not uncommon to knock over a shipment of flak artillery arrays, photon pulse cannons, or capital-grade shields, and walk away with several million credits after a few minutes of "work". Right, now that I have your attention...
In a broader sense, you will need to pick an enemy faction, as your depredations will not make you popular with them, unless you are prepared to grind for reputation repair in-between "shopping trips". Personally, I like to play on one of the ethno-political feuds in the game, so I might, for instance, align with Argon and go after Paranid weapons dealers (just doing my part for the war effort!) or vice versa, or likewise with Split and Boron.
WHERE do you pounce:
You will want to haunt a heavily trafficked area traversed by weapons shipments. One prime spot for such is Hatikvah's Faith, where weapons shipments of all races pass through, it being something of a crossroads, and outside any sovereign jurisdiction - it's quite possible to be kept so busy here with passing trade that it's hard to keep up with collecting all the dropped loot. There are several other good locations, some of them in sovereign space, in which cases that will be a factor influencing target selection.
Whoever you pick as your "supplier" race is not going to take kindly to your attentions no matter where you are at the time, but there are other factors - does pissing them off make someone else happy? If so, you can double up and supply yourself AND build rep with you benefactors' enemy. For example, let's say you choose to be a Duke's Buccaneer of sorts - a good place to operate is Third Redemption, as there is a lot of passing traffic here, and by attacking Argon vessels you get approving nods from the Paranids.
Ok, that's all good and well, but HOW:
The method itself is simplicity itself:
- Find a suitable "candidate", as per the notes above.
- If it is already hostile to you, deal with any escorts.
- Scan its cargo. At this point, the transport may release its drones. If your target is not yet hostile to you, neither are its drones, so you can decide whether it's not worth continuing (if the cargo is crap, for example), or whether to engage immediately, or wait for the drones to expire (this last option is only for the very patient - it takes a while and will likely have you following your target to another sector - so the haul had better be worth it!) If the target is already hostile then so are its drones, and you react accordingly. This cargo scan is essential - not only does it tell you what's there, but it also makes the freighter pilot more amenable to persuasion (I guess now they know that you know what they're carrying, and "these are not the mass drivers you are looking for" is not going to fly.)
- Decide whether this is cargo you want. If it's not valuable enough, it may be simpler to just move on - merchants will not follow you at first (with the exception of hostile TMs), so if you haven't whipped out your... "credit card" yet, then you can move on without consequence - and as a bonus, no reputation is lost yet (in case that's relevant.)
- If the cargo is worthwhile, then first deal with escorts unless you have already done so. Shoot the freighter until its shields are quite damaged, then hail the ship and suggest that they are overloaded and might do better if they jettison some of that unwieldy mass. (At this point, you will take a substantial reputation hit - for some reason, the factions take a dim view of dynamic businessmen who push the envelope...) Whether the pilot cooperates depends on some sort of morale check, perhaps similar to the bailing check but MUCH more likely to succeed. And, if at first you don't succeed... well, you know the rest. In fact, that applies even if you DO succeed - you can keep demanding cargo to be dropped (occasionally tapping on their shields, so that they don't lose sight of the gravity of the situation) until there's nothing more to be jettisoned (installed equipment will never be jettisoned, only cargo.)
- Denouement: it's up to you whether to be a principled pilferer and let the vict-... SUPPLIER go with an apology (this may only work if your race relations are still good enough), or whether you are a callous cutthroat who reneges on the implicit contract of a mugging by killing the victim even after it gave up its swag (perhaps in the hope that you end up getting the ship, too!)
This sort of play can be both lucrative and entertaining, without feeling "exploity" (even when you hit the jackpot and find yourself a shipment of PPCs or 1GJ/2GJ shields to intercept). The amount of challenge can vary, as some TS freighters fly without escorts, while on the other hand a TM can, in addition to its own resilience, also be home to up to four fighters, potentially even Novas packing flamethrowers, in which case you may be in for one helluva fight!
In addition to collecting loot to sell, it's entirely viable to equip your own ships gratis in this manner. Here are examples of commonly encountered wares:
- IREs (in large numbers, sometimes 100s at a time)
- PACs (often dozens at a time)
- MDs (usually 2-4)
- IonDs (typically 1-2 at a time)
- various missiles, some useful some less so, in varying numbers (you usually won't be able to pick up an entire Mosquito shipment, unless you have a TS along for such work)
- 1MJ shields (by the truckload)
- MD ammo (by the truckload)
Less common but more lucrative:
- PPCs (up to 4?)
- FAAs (up to 4 or 5?)
- GCs (up to 4?)
- 1GJ shields (up to ~6?)
- 2GJ shields (2-4?)
- 200MJ shields (several)
- 25MJ shields (several+)
- Just about any other gun, depending on how common it is. Some are shipped very rarely or perhaps even never.
Very occasionally, you may find a military supply transporter carrying NavSats or AdvSats - however, these will never be dropped, so the only way to acquire them is if the target abandons ship.
With a combination of the above method and ship captures, it is entirely possible to play a game where even your ship equipment (including command softwares and jumpdrives etc) is acquired "second hand" (I say this from experience - ship upgrading was done at an Anarchy Port, no ship equipment was bought from any non-pirate source; unfortunately, you will still have to SELL to non-pirates, as not everything can be fenced at pirate bases and anarchy ports; one possible workaround is to pack for-sale items into captured ships and sell them to the Yaki shipyard, but this is tedious.)
Happy hunting (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word!)
|Incidentally, in the X3AP sector-acquisition plot's mission where you are required to get some Black Crystals from the Pirate Salvage Crews in Maelstrom/Mercenaries Rift, this is actually what the quest-giver is referring to when she talks about "persuading the pirates to give up the crystals" - and this method works perfectly there, in that only a single Caravel needs to be dealt with in order to get all 5 (in fact, you can get 20 from one Caravel!) of the required crystals.|