PvP Piracy Guide

Yaar...you're a pirate!

Table of Contents

Elite Dangerous Piracy

The Code are the oldest and most infamous criminals in Elite Dangerous.  You will find them in all parts of the ED galaxy pillaging from various commanders in different systems.  If you seek adventure, infamy and have a predisposition for villainy, then pirating may be the thing for you.

Pirate Ship Considerations

Any ship can become a pirate ship, even the Keelback!  A few things must be taken into consideration before you spend precious materials in building a ship fit for successful pirating!

Mass Lock Factor 

Mass lock factor (MLF) is an effect that impacts a ship’s ability to low wake out of an instance, it does not impact high waking.  The higher the MLF, the more time you have in instance if a target decides to low wake. This is why stats on the Krait MK II (MLF 17) make for a good all-around piracy/PvP ship.  It has decent hardpoints to defend itself in PvP and it will mass lock a good number of mining ships, including the standard Type-9 (MLF 16).

Survivability Against Equal PvP Ships

Because you must give up precious optional internal slots for a piracy package, your ship lacks the staying power of hardened PvP vessels.  If equally skilled commanders engage in a 1v1 battle but the only difference is the ship loadout, the PvP ship will almost always win due to the lack of staying power and Damage Per Second (DPS). 

That is to say, a ship built for pirating must sacrifice hull/shield reinforcement, weapon DPS and utility slots in order to successfully pirate a commander. 

Standard Ship Piracy Package

Successful piracy means having the right equipment to do the job.  The following ship outfitting options are recommended for successful piracy.

Optional Internal:

Cargo Rack – Need to hold that loot and limpets!

Frame Shift Drive (FSD) Interdictor – This device allows a commander to pull another ship out of supercruise.

Hatch Breaker Limpet Controller – This is a type of limpet that will safely extract cargo from a targeted ship’s cargo hold.  This is often paired with collector limpets to gather cargo once jettisoned by the target.


2B/D Rocket Propelled FSD Disruptor (PP weapon from Yuri Grom [also known as a Grom Bomb]) – This weapon reboots the Frame Shift Drive (FSD) of your opponent and keeps it offline for 17 seconds.  When stacked with the FSD Interrupt experimental upgrade, the time increases to 19 seconds. This effect can only be applied every 29 seconds.


2B/D or 1B/D Dumbfire Missile Rack w/ the FSD interrupt experimental upgrade.  This experimental module only forces a reboot of the FSD drive which takes approximately 11 seconds to reboot.

Utility Mount:

Manifest Scanner—0D is sufficient for most piracy.  After interdiction, your target is right near your ship.  Having G5 fast scan changes scan time two seconds, therefore, you don’t need the range.  More information on engineering can be found here.

Example Ship Builds

Imperial Cutter

Krait MK II

Where to Pirate

Pirates typically reside in systems where there are high-value materials to hold in their cargo bay.  While most pirates do loiter in systems for selling minerals at high prices. Pirates do on occasion loiter in systems where rare trades happen.

Pirates use the same tools as miners/traders.  They watch the EliteMiners reddit, watch the miners tool and use both https://eddb.io/ and https://inara.cz for best sell location of both minerals and trading routes.  In-game routes are also useful, but third-party tools typically have a better interface to work from.

It is well known that pirates love to hang out at high sell systems.  However, the recent mining changes and the new mineral demand mechanic has given pirating commanders a buff.

A Brief Pirate Yarn

Before the changes there were many stations that sold minerals at around the same price, this meant that pirates had to pick a system to sit at and wait for incoming miners.  Most of the time it was at a system with the highest selling price and often pirates had to wait a long time in systems before a target would jump in. Some pirates chose the second or third highest-selling station in hopes that experienced miners in open would always avoid the top sell and be willing to lose a few thousand credits per ton to avoid the risk of piracy.

After the mining changes were introduced, the types of viable payout minerals changed from three (Void Opals, Painite, Low-Temperature Diamonds) to one (Low-Temperature Diamonds, or LTDs).  This change dramatically shifted how piracy is conducted.

Modern Piracy

With this knowledge in tow pirates now have a concentrated area to conduct their piracy based on the one to two stations that have top sell as all other top selling stations are hundreds of thousands of credits lower.  The risk vs. reward is now too great for miners to ignore, so most will take the risk of flying to the one or two high selling stations.

This has also given rise to piracy heists.  Now that core mining is no longer as profitable as it used to be, this leaves commanders with only laser mining being the most effective for credits per hour.  Painite used to be the best for this in terms of credits/hr, now it is only LTDs. Again, using the tools at our disposal, there is only one viable location for LTD mining and that is the triple overlap in the Borann system at Planet/Ring A2 ring B. 

This now allows pirates to follow low wakes into the ring system and stay out of sensor range (most mining ships are geared towards FSD jump range and speed which means a D rated sensor engineered for Lightweight) long enough for the miner to collect a few tons of materials.

Piracy as a Trade

Pirating really only works if commanders are watching their comms panel (See below).

It is important to note that this is usually the only way to communicate with commanders.  Failure to watch the comms panel will most likely result in a destroyed ship. Also, remember that the goal of the pirate is to grab loot while keeping the commander alive.  

Pirating always starts with the identification of a target.  When a target enters the system, a pirate will quickly scan the ship to determine its role.  Trading and mining ships are what pirates are typically looking for.

The next step is up to the pirate.  Most pirates will move immediately to interdiction.  Some will send comms then interdict, but the goal is always to pull a target out of supercruise.

If interdiction is successful (either target submittal, or full interdiction) sending a communication to the target is key to express intent and engage in negotiations.  This usually follows along the lines of “Yarr. This is The Code. Stop yer engines for a cargo scan. Flee and ye shall walk the plank!”.

From here, there is a sequence of steps of action/reaction with the targeted commander.

Scan target – If something is in their hold, negotiate with the commander for cargo.  If nothing, let them go. Some pirates like to role-play here, like having their target tell a joke in exchange for no cargo.

If the target runs—Send comms to both local and to target.  Some commanders who are pulled panic and go engines full away from the pirate.  A typical pirate will give one or two warnings before sending a sterner message.  If a target does stop, negotiate and move on. If not, the pirate should escalate.

Escalation steps:

  • Engage in comms again and/or deploy hatch breaker limpets.  Fire FSD interrupts to stop low/high wake. The target can walk the plank depending on the pirate if the ship is not stopped.
  • Fire a warning shot and/or hatch breaker limpets.  Fire FSD interrupts to stop low/high wake. The target can walk the plank depending on the pirate if the ship is not stopped.
  • Target walks the plank.

If a target stops—negotiations begin, and it’s up to the pirate.  The typical ask is 10% of what is in their cargo hold. When negotiations are complete, send the target off with a “Free to go o?, fly safe CMDR” message.

There are many times when targets do get away.  Such is the life of a pirate.

Other Comm Options For the Pirate

For those that have Voice Attack, you can send messages using voice commands.  You can modify what is sent by doing the following:

  • Say “protocol override, customize my settings”
  • Click on the “Comms Messages” button
  • Select the Target tab
  • Enter your macro

To execute your target macro simply say “Standard target <number 1-10>”  This will open your comms panel in elite and send your macro.

The Roleplay of the Pirate

Playing the outlaw, while exciting, is not for everyone.  If a commander chooses to be a pirate, they become a target for NPC’s, other commanders and squadrons.  Having notoriety means that you can’t dock at certain stations, are restricted from various markets and are often pulled by bounty hunters and lawful cops. 

Piracy also has a credit impact. For example, if a pirate holds jettisoned booty, then they can only sell that loot at a station with a black market.  Often, the highest-selling systems do not have black markets…and even then a pirate takes a 25% hit on the sale of their booty.

It must be noted that not all pirates follow the same creed or pattern of escalation.  As one of the larger pirate squadrons in the galaxy, The Code has strict rules of engagement with a target of high value, such as a cargo ship.  That is, if a Code pirate engages in negotiations with a commander and demands a ransom, the pirate will always honor the ransom and the target will be allowed to leave.

One exception to this rule is if a bounty hunter or lawful commander interferes with negotiations.  If this happens, the pirate will almost always destroy the trader’s ship to demonstrate that lawful/bounty hunter interference resulted in a needless death.

On the flip side, if you wish to have a bit more adventure in your life, take up the mantle of a pirate and give it a try.  Be aware of other pirate groups though, you may become a target for hunting on their turf!

Special Thanks

CMDR Andon – For allowing me to capture this photo of him mining in Borann with no prior notice

CMDR ShippyMcShipFace – For contributing to this document

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The Code