Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy


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Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date. For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now. Javascript is not enabled in your browser. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. Many peoples throughout history have fought pirates, writes Alfred Bradford in Flying the Black Flag. Some have lost and some have won. We should learn from their experience.

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It details, for example, how the Illyrians used pirate vessels to try to wrest control of the Adriatic Coast from the mighty Romans, as well as how the intrepid Vikings went from pirate raids to the conquest of parts of Western Europe. Moving into the 17th century and to the New World, Bradford depicts the golden age of the pirates.

Here are the Spanish Buccaneers and the fabled Caribbean stronghold of Tortuga. Here are Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, and their fearsome counterparts. But piracy was hardly just a Western phenomenon.

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It reveals the lessons of a war conducted across a great distance against a nebulous enemy, a war in which victory was achieved only by going after the pirates' sponsor. As intriguing as these tales of the past are in and of themselves, the stories and their swashbuckling villains hold lessons for us even today. Piracy is a role that involves stealing Commodities from other ships and then selling the goods for profit. When stolen Commodities need to be sold on the Black Market , piracy also overlaps with smuggling.


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Conventional pirates leverage their superior firepower into quick and easy financial rewards by intimidating traders and miners , who acquire their cargo at their own expense and often forego weapons and defenses for the sake of cargo space or mining tools, into giving up a portion or all of their cargo in exchange for being allowed to leave the scene intact.

However, many pirates also destroy their victims while robbing them, either in self-defense or out of malice, which draws the attention of local security forces and bounty hunters. A pirate can be considered successful when they make more credits than they expend on maintaining and upgrading their ship.

Topical Navigation

Pirates can operate anywhere in the galaxy , but low-security systems are the most lucrative. Piracy is prevalent in Anarchy systems and systems with a ruling anarchy minor faction. Pirates don't gain a bounty and there's no NPC security in anarchy systems. It's worth noting that if the last station you were docked is owned by a minor faction you have, or gain, a bounty with, you'll respawn at that station and have to pay that bounty off if your ship is destroyed. Thus it's beneficial to keep your last dock at a station in Anarchy space. Piracy requires the use of several specific modules to operate successfully.

Being able to track down targets between systems requires a Frame Shift Wake Scanner. Pirates must force targets out of supercruise with a Frame Shift Drive Interdictor. Next, a pirate must be able to ascertain what kind, if any, cargo the ship is carrying. This requires a Manifest Scanner.

Without that a pirate has no way to tell whether a pilot has value cargo or the type and amount of cargo. Then a pirate must obtain the cargo, by force if necessary. Lastly, a pirate's ship must be equipped with Cargo Racks to hold the looted cargo. Collector Limpets can be used to more efficiently pick up disposed cargo. Doing these tasks effectively determines whether you make profit. Proper ship choice is key to a pirate. Proper offensive and defensive capabilities are needed. Sufficient speed is necessary to not be outrun by haulers and other vessels. The ship must have enough internal space to carry all modules and cargo racks.

NPC ships that enter and leave stations carry cargo reflective of the station's economy. The respective imports and exports are based on the system state and the background simulation.


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The NPC ships may also carry an array of expensive rare commodities. Such as wait just beyond No Fire Zones of stations or follow the wakes of haulers.

Piracy missions can be found on the Bulletin Board. The philosophy of pirates in Elite is one of simplicity. It draws on the fear of total loss of a ship and cargo by the attacking pirate. Pilots either drop some of their cargo to meet the demands of the pirate, or risk destruction and the total loss of their cargo with a pricey insurance payment. Pirates may use any number of activities to assert dominance over the situation and persuade the target into cooperation, e. Sometimes the simple presence of a large combat ship is enough to pressure a pilot into dumping some of their cargo. In Elite, most pirates only seek cargo and do not actively engage for PvP kills; though will attack if pilots don't cooperate.

Generally, pirates will leave players unharmed if their demands are satisfied. Some will still attack to kill afterwards. However, like any other flamboyant task, those who engage in piracy will start to become known among pilots and those who destroy their targets after receiving cargo will become infamous. Such pirates are known as "player killers," and pilots are less likely to cooperate. Instead, they'll attempt to escape or die fighting which leaves the pirate with nothing. It is therefore beneficial to the long-term success as a pirate to be careful with actions and to keep their promise of no harm if they drop cargo.

One of the most common methods of piracy involves staying in supercruise at a low speed around a Nav Beacon while waiting for players to jump into a system, then use a Frame Shift Drive Interdictor to force targets out of supercruise. Once a target has been interdicted and their cargo is scanned, the pirate has numerous options. The pirate can start simply by directly talking to the player with the Comms Panel or a microphone. The target player may already realize they cannot outrun or outgun the pirate and quickly hand over some cargo before moving on.

The pirate can choose to attack, damage the cargo hatch until cargo is ejected. Once cargo stops, you can attack the cargo hatch again. Hatch breaker limpets can be used separately or while attacking the cargo hatch. The time needed to hack the cargo hold is related to the health of the target's cargo hatch module.

Traders may jettison cheaper cargo first to draw attention away from themselves and attempt to jump to hyperspace before jettisoning more expensive cargo. A Manifest Scanner helps to prevent this and it gives you more bargaining power by telling the player that you know what they have and what your demands are ahead of time.

It's possible to pirate players without using Hatch Breaker Limpets. This frees a module slot for something else or use a ship with a more limited number of internals. This approach relies on the target manually ejecting some cargo after the pirate makes demands over the Comms. Shooting at players may send them into panic mode, especially if they have not encountered player piracy before. Try mass-locking and using Comms first.

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Did You Know the Golden Age of Piracy Spread Across Two Oceans?

Give the ultimatum "Stop your engines or I'll kill you. Zeroing thrust is easier to do than dropping cargo, so they are more likely to do that. From there, you have the time to talk with the target.

Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy
Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy
Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy
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