Pirates, Shipjackers and You
This page is currently being updated with new mechanics associated with the 3.6.X patches.
In Alpha 3.6.2, pirates and shipjackers are a serious threat to you and anyone carrying precious cargo from one destination to another.
Danger can come in various forms, all of which are important to be aware of and thereby be able to counter in most cases.
Shipjackers are a notable threat as they can, in one moment, cost you your ship and cargo. However, as much as they are dangerous, they can be mostly avoided with some simple precautions and situational awareness.
Shipjackers are lawless individuals that attempt to stow away in/on your ship or patiently wait for the opportunity to relieve you of your ship and any cargo you may have. Currently, players that engage in this form of piracy are able to sell your cargo for profit at junkyard vendors of ill repute in the Stanton system. While this may be horrible news for many traders, take solace in knowing that the bulk of their tactics rely on you to be inattentive to their presence AND leave your ship open or unlocked.
One of the ways a player may attempt to steal our ship might be to sneak aboard it at our point of origin. Since most ships spawn in a locked state, gaining access at these locations requires impeccable timing. The shipjacker needs to wait unseen, but very close to our ship in order to seize an opportunity when we open the cargo ramp. Many of our freighters offer a brief moment as we lower our cargo ramp for someone to sneak aboard. Being quick at boarding and being alert to our surroundings can minimize or even completely eliminate this opportunity.
Players may even find locations on the exterior of our ship to ride along unnoticed to our trade point. As we land at what appears to be an empty cargo pad, the shipjacker simply waits for the right moment to hop down off our ship and come aboard while we are inside conducting business. As soon as our ship is full, the player flies away with a freighter loaded with valuable commodities. Keeping our cargo haulers locked and closed while we are trading can eliminate most of this risk as long as we are able to quickly exit and seal the vessel before they can have a chance to enter.
At locations lacking an armistice zone, nefarious shipjackers may simply attempt to kill us as we open the ramp. One well placed sniper shot would leave our ship open and undefended. An example of this would be a Caterpillar going from Port Olisar to Tram & Meyers (a common trade route). The Cat spawns locked at Port Olisar, but a shipjacker would know there is a spot at the nose of our ship that he can EVA to and ride virtually undetected to our destination. Even if we scanned the ground and skies for other players, we could very well miss the aggressor under our very nose. As we move through your ship to get to the elevator, our adversary drops down and moves to meet us as we exit. A quick burst of fire as the elevator nears the ground leaves our freighter completely vulnerable. That said, this is usually the easiest tactic to avoid. We simply plan routes that have us land in armistice zones.
Another common tactic is for shipjackers to wait at frequently used trading locations for inattentive haulers. Arc Corp 141 on Daymar was a highly used trade point for quite some time. A potential ship thief could hang out among the cargo containers near to the landing pad and watch targets come and go. The first person that runs inside to trade and leaves their cargo ramp deployed or unlocked is the one that gets jacked. Although our ship is still vulnerable during that window when the cargo ramp deploys, they key to stopping this attack is the same as the others. Keep the ship locked. Keep our eyes open. Get in and out quickly.
If we finish our route at a zero gravity environment like Port Olisar, Grim Hex or the Rest Stops, we must be alert for attacks as we leave our ship. For example, I landed at Port Olisar once and took a little longer than usual to exit my ship. As I went back and lowered the ramp to exit, I noticed just a second too late that someone had EVA’d over to the top of my ship so they could drop down as I made my exit. Luckily, I was able to stop the ramp and reopened it in time to see the player double timing it for my cockpit. I followed my opponent forward to wait quietly in the room behind the cockpit. I watched as the shipjacker lifted off and immediately quantum traveled to Yela. As soon as the ship left Port Olisar’s armistice zone, I pulled out my rifle and shot him dead in the pilot’s seat. Since then I have stopped using the ramp on the Freelancer and now use the “one-at-a-time” ladder on the side. But even that is not completely safe. I know of at least one individual that was able to EVA into a 300i before the climbing animation for the ship’s owner even began.
This applies to all ships, but especially ships like the Starfarer that can’t be locked, spawn ships in hangers. They make things much more difficult for shipjackers. I’ll say it again, HANGARS!!! Gravity makes many of the tactics listed above difficult to impossible.
When we spawn inside a hanger, we control the single, open entry point to our ship. Even if we have a massive ramp or slow elevator like the 600i and someone camps our hangar, they still have to be super obvious and run up to that ramp/elevator with to board with us. As long as we beat them to the pilot seat, they can’t move the ship. Then we just wait for the ATC to store our ship.
Even if the player makes it to the cockpit before us, we can just hop in a copilot seat and turn the ship off. Copilot seats have been bugged for a long time now and they override pilot controls. The thief won’t be able to turn the ship on and ATC will eventually despawn it.
Also, if we don’t open the hanger, they can’t open the hangar for a ship they don’t own and eventually, guess what…despawn.
Okay, let’s say we have an Avenger Titan in Levski Hangar 3. We weren’t thinking and we used our mobiGlas to call ATC to open the hangar doors on the way down to our ship. Then lets say we opened our ramp and spaced off as someone ran up and sprinted to the cockpit. This is no time to panic. We need to keep our wits about us because this still goes our way nine out of ten times. All we have to do is board our ship, walk up to the cockpit and watch him take off. Now we pay close attention because, in a couple of seconds we will hear the indicator that lets us know we’ve left the armistice zone. We immediately pull out our equipped weapon and execute him with extreme prejudice. If we do it quick enough, he won’t even have time to hit the self destruct button. And don’t worry about him shooting us, there is an exit animation that has to be completed before he can even pull out his weapon. If he gets through all that and still kill us, then we have more to worry about than losing a Titan full of cargo.
Remember, whenever we enter or leave our ship we must be wary of anyone trying to slip past us. When landing, we need to move quickly and use the third person view whilst in your pilot seat to check the space around our ship for any potential shipjackers that may be nearby. Spawn ships in hangars. Spawn ships that can be locked. Practice good ship denial tactics should someone make it to our cockpit and use single entry points to our ship whenever possible. Follow these guidelines and we will make ourselves hard targets for potential ship thieves.
You know what else helps? Hiring some Vanguardians from Security Wing. I mean, continue to practice what was discussed above, but adding a couple extra trained combatants to your crew and maybe an fighter escort or two; ain’t no shipjacker gonna want to mess with that!
Nine Tails is an NPC Outlaw/Pirate organization with a presence throughout the Stanton system. They are identified by their red and black ship liveries and have been implemented by CIG in various probability spaces across the system to test Quantum Disruption game play mechanics.
Quantum Disruption (occasionally referred to as an Interdiction) in Star Citizen is the mechanic by which your ship can be pulled out of Quantum Travel due to various events, such as:
As you Quantum Travel from one location to the next, you will pass through multiple probability spaces. As you enter each one, the game will perform a check to see if you trigger a quantum disruption involving one of these events. Currently, it is likely that these values are set by CIG for each space with no variation other than the particular value they assigned for a given area of space. However, in the future, these probabilities are likely to be dynamic and based on multiple factors such as security presence, player presence, cargo movement and value, etc.
For members of Frontier that are hauling cargo, QT disruptions involving the Nine Tails should typically be avoided. Lets take a look at them to determine the best course of action for each one.
- Distress Signal: During this type of Quantum Disruption, your ship will be pulled out to respond what is essentially an Emergency Communication Network (ECN) distress signal. This event will typically have Nine Tails ships actively engaging a non-hostile NPC freighter (such as a Caterpillar or Starfarer). Occasionally, the non-hostile NPC ship may be in a completely destroyed state. While most NPC’s are not terribly difficult to defeat, fighting them with cargo onboard your ship is inviting trouble. All it takes is for one of them to ram your ship or hit it in a spot that is not properly covered by your shields (a common bug) and you can lose all of your cargo.
The best course of action is to IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFY THE LOCATION OF ALL HOSTILES AND FRIENDLIES. The reason for identifying the locations of all contacts is because you may have to maneuver away from a hostile while your drive spools or to escape a Quantum Disruption field. I have seen multiple instances where a friendly or derelict ship was spawned directly in my path and I did not see it until my ship had plowed into it causing me to became part of the event. If there is no hostile ship jamming your Quantum drive to prevent you from escaping, clear and reset your route, spool and jump to safety as quickly as possible. Otherwise, quickly accelerate past the event until you are far enough away to be able to spool and jump to safety.
- Security vs Nine Tails: Similar to the Distress Signal event above, this type of Quantum Disruption will see your ship pulled out of QT to participate in an encounter between Nine Tails ships and Advocacy/Security ships. Typically the Advocacy/Security ship will be the ones running the Quantum Disruption device as they try to hold the Nine Tails NPCs long enough to destroy them. Unfortunately, that field will also prevent you from continuing your route. IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFY WHERE THESE SHIPS ARE ENGAGING EACH OTHER so you can avoid them. Then simply clear and reset your route as you completely ignore and accelerate past the NPCs. Once you are clear of the field, spool and jump to safety.
- Nine Tails Pirating Action: In this event, several Nine Tails ships will ]actively attempt to hold you in place with a Quantum Disruption field until they can destroy you and loot the remains of your ship. IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFY WHERE ALL THE HOSTILES ARE attacking from, accelerate past them, and ignore their parting shots as you head toward the edge of their disruption field. Clear/Reset your route and jump as soon as you are able.
& UNLAWFUL ORGS
In patch 3.6, we have seen the introduction of the Black Market economy. With the addition of stole goods fences in various junkyard locations around the system, pirating players now have a way to sell stolen cargo for profit. As such, we should expect to see a rise in the number of players looking to engage in this style of game play.
Successful pirate tactics will likely involve catching cargo ships entering or attempting to leave atmosphere on their way down or up from to ground side locations for trade. Cargo freighters are often at a disadvantage in space, but there are downright defenseless in atmosphere, outside of an armistice zone. Cargo pilots will often be asked to pay a fee to continue safely down to a location or risk being knocked out of the sky by EMP, distortion damage to engines or flat out destroyed.
Facing these choices, it is often better to pay the fee and salvage the cargo run than lose all the cargo. This should be a relatively safe proposition, since player pirates are not incentivised to take your money AND then kill you. If they did this, you would NEVER pay them in the future and they would have to resort to destroying your cargo every subsequent time they encountered you and make very little money in the process. In fact, they may even escort you to your destination to make sure you continue to do business there. If you make money, they make money. It’s simply an operating cost.