Elite Dangerous - how to smuggle goods and get started with piracy

You don't have to be nice to get ahead in Elite Dangerous. From smuggling to piracy, we've got the low-down on the darker side of the game.

Sometimes you'll either want or need a way of selling goods you've acquired illicitly - perhaps through blowing someone up, or perhaps just because you want to make a little bit of profit on the Black Market. You'll most commonly find these special markets in systems designated as Anarchy systems, rather than belonging to a faction. Find the Black Market option under Contacts in Station Services after you've docked.

Smuggling goods in Elite Dangerous

To increase both your profits and your odds of survival, we recommend transporting a small number of extremely valuable goods in a very zippy ship. The Cobra is a great choice once you can afford it, and you should upgrade your Power Supply as a priority. This will reduce your heat signature, which makes it easier to sneak around space without the authorities rumbling you (see the section on silent-running further down the page).

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Be aware that if you are caught smuggling illicit goods, you will suffer damage to both your faction reputation, and to your bank balance in the form of fines. If you value a particular faction highly, be very careful about operating in an area under that faction's control, as making up lost reputation can be a real pain in the neck.

Here are some sources of goods you might like to smuggle for fun and profit.

Black Market - some goods are illegal in one part of space, but legal in another. Take the item from the latter to the former (see the section below on silent-running for some advice on making it into the selling Station in one piece).

Missions - keep your eyes peeled for Bulletin Board missions that have you transporting Slaves for profit. Again, be aware of faction reputation risks, and make sure you've mastered silent-running before being caught with - ahem - human resources in your hold.

Unidentified Signal Source - head to these locations in space with a Cargo Scanner equipped and see if there are any traders carrying juicy goodies. Blow 'em up, take their stuff, then sell it at a Station once you've sneaked inside.

Putting your ship in silent-running mode

A successful smuggler must master the art of silent-running. You can restrict your sales to Outposts, where you won't be scanned, but you'll find more developed markets at the big orbital Stations sprinkled all over the universe. The thing is, you need to sneak in there without the authorities scanning your cargo hold and blowing you up. This is where silent-running comes in.

When you put your ship in silent-running mode, you're preventing heat from dissipating from it, which means you can't be detected by targeting systems. Approach the Station you plan to dock at, lock the target, and then request docking. When you're still three or four kilometres away from the entrance, hit the Delete key by default to switch on silent-running.

Your final task is to coast inside the station, but as long as you have silent-running active, your heat levels will rise higher and higher - keep an eye on the heat percentage reading on your radar screen. If you leave silent-running on for too long, you'll do damage to your hull and eventually destroy your ship. Thankfully you can safely deactivate the mode when you get close to your landing pad. At this point, the heat levels will start coming down. Phew!

A guide to Interdictions

Interdiction is the art of dragging a pilot out of Supercruise mode as they travel from one part of a star system to another. Once pulled out of this travelling mode, the pilot is free to target their prey and scan for Bounties, or just blow them up for the goods contained in their cargo hold. Note that both other players and non-playable characters are capable of instigating an interdiction against you.

How to interdict other players- If you want to drag someone out of travel mode in order to have your wicked way with them, you'll have to fit an FSD Interdictor to your ship. Once you've plugged it in, get out into space, get behind your target and activate your device when you're close enough. Your job is to keep the player in your sights until the blue bar on your left has filled up completely. If you manage that, you'll be able to engage them however you wish within a local area of space. If you're looking for targets, try following someone as they leave a Station, or move on from a system star after arriving in a system.

How to avoid interdictions - If you want to escape the clutches of your assailant, you'll likewise need to keep your ship aligned with the blue interdiction reticule until the left-hand bar has filled up completely. You'll be shaken about all over the place while this is going on, so make sure your throttle is resting within the blue zone to grant your ship maximum agility, and just keep aligning yourself with the escape vector.

A beginner's guide to Piracy in Elite Dangerous

Closely connected to the art of interdicting other players is the profession of piracy. Once you've got someone - a trader perhaps - out of Supercruise and in your sights, it's time to make them sweat a little for fun and profit.

To minimise the financial cost of this activity, go looking for prey in a system that's designated as Anarchy, rather than belonging to a specific faction. This way you'll have access to Black Markets to sell your goods on, while avoiding the attention of the law as you're stocking up.

Take your time while you learn the art of piracy, and stick to Haulers or Lakon transport vehicles when scoping out targets. Head to a Nav Beacon to catch them on their travels, blow them to smithereens, gather up the most valuable goods you can, then get out of there as quickly as possible. The process for scooping up their goods is the same as that described in our mining guide.

Our guide concludes with an introduction to buying and equipping ships.

Head back to the first page of this article for the rest of our Elite Dangerous guide.

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About the author

John Bedford

John Bedford


John is a freelance writer based in West Sussex.


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