February 11, 2013
Ok this is my 4th version of "Smart Trading". Before I start let me build some credibility for myself. I have played SM(R) for over 12 years and have been apart of all changes that have been incorporated to the game. I can honestly say out of the 12 years I have played I have only died 1-2 times trading. I am not saying I am the best trader in the game, there are far better ones than me but I feel comfortable enough trading to be able to advise some newer or even older players how to effectively and safely trade. In the guide below we will go through just about every aspect of trading.
First and foremost deciding on a ship to get. Now the most trade efficient ship might not be the best ship for you.Freighter is probably one of the most effective trade ships with 10 turns per hour(tph) and 250 turns but it is fragile with only 300 shields, 300 armor and NO FORCES. Even myself flying this ship I do not feel all that comfortable. As a hunter seeing someone in a ship that has no forces usually means easy target. A great ship that is comparable and has room for error is the planetary trader because it has forces and we will get to why forces are important.
If you're trading a jump route meaning if your route is > 15 sectors long usually a jump ship will be most effective to trade. Of course the Advanced Courier Vessel (ACV) is the best choice for raw efficiency but it as well does not have any forces. This will lead many players who like to not die to get a Inter-Stellar Trader (IST) because the IST has forces.
Choosing your route(s) is the next important thing. Trading is all about getting that experience and money. I suggest you get familiar with the 3rd party program called MGU which can be found here: (http://smrcnn.smrealms.de/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=10970) Once you get familiar with how to use MGU you can select your routes. MGU will show the routes that will yield the most experience and most money for your race and any race you have peace with.
Now picking a route is something you have to think about. Sometimes the best route is not the best route for you. As a hunter myself, usually the first place I go to search for people trading is the top route in the galaxy because most people trade it. So for you as a trader the top route could attract more hunters and the supply/demand could be low meaning you might have to waste turns/time replenishing the goods. When looking at routes see how close they're to fed. Closer the route to fed means faster you can escape and less turns you have to waste going out to your route. Have a plan before you trade for example have multiple routes memorized and ready to trade. If your main route is drained you can quickly go to your 2nd route without having to pop up MGU and figure out where to trade. The longer you're in open space the greater your risk of getting podded is.
Now that you're out there ready to trade you must get familiar with moving. Local map is KEY when trading. You should never have to move without local map. Local map lets you see any enemies close to you. Most hunters will sit 1 sector outside of the port sector and wait for a trader to enter. If you have local map up you can see the enemy hunter and can run before they can attack you. This means you need to MEMORIZE your route from end to end. Do not use plot-course. It is ok to use it once or twice but after that you should not need it unless you have a extremely long route. If this is the case move by local map a few sectors before plotting. This goes for your route back to fed. Sometimes if hunters cannot find you while you're trading they might mine a sector around fed hoping you will run into it. If you are moving via local map then you will see the enemy and any forces the enemy put down.
Speed is very important while trading you should aim to be in and out of a port sector within 4-5 seconds. To do this as you are making the trade a little tip is to hit the Enter/Return button on your keyboard as soon as you see the "Bargain" screen. Since you most likely have max relations there is no reason to even look at this screen because you will get max money/max experience by hitting enter. This way your mouse placement will be ready for your next movement and you can get into a routine. For Example a movement would be "Enter port by local --> click on port via local--> Click Sell" --> Hit Enter --> Click Buy --> Hit Enter --> As soon as you hit "Enter" on the bargain screen it will give you the "Current Sector" screen and the trade is complete.
Now we will talk about "Green Sector" this since is a important life saving tip that everyone should know about. Notice now that you're staring at the Current Sector screen the sector you just came from is highlighted bright green. This is called your "Green Sector" this is key because if a enemy comes in sector with you and drops mine(s) as long as you hit the Green Sector then you will not hit those mines that are in sector with you. If you hit any other sector then you will hit the mines and momentarily be stuck in sector. So follow the previous paragraph's move-route routine after you hit enter and see current sector click on your green sector immediately then hit local map and continue moving. You may be asking "Why you said always move by local?" this is the one exception. When you're going through the Sell/Buy screens you're blind and if a enemy comes in sector (IS) then a lot of times you will be in routine and hit local map before you move sectors. Believe me this has happened to me many times and almost has gotten me killed. So use your routine to immediately hit your green sector right after you hit enter from buying a good.
For running away as well if you ever happen to hit enemy mines ALWAYS back up using your green sector. If you move sectors and hit stack of mines if you try to keep going forward you will hit the mines again. Sometimes it is better to take the long ways around instead of plowing through mines.
Now you might be wondering why forces are so important? It is important to get scouts, mines and drones for many reasons.
Let's start by combat drones. Even if you buy 1 combat drone when a person is attacking you weapons are setup to attack Shields then combat drones then armor. For example if you have a ship that has 50 shields and 50 armor if a player has just a planetary pulse laser (150/150) then they must shoot at you twice because that planetary pulse laser only fires at you once per shot. So even if you have 1 combat drone a Nuke (0/300) will waste its hit on that 1 combat drone and save you 300 armor. (Note: Combat drones will not save you against mines the same way even if you have 400 combat drones and 50 armor, 3 mines can potentially kill you if you hit them)
Now for mines/scouts. The traders above i listed (PT and IST) both have scouts and mines. They do not have many but you don't need many. The most vulnerable spot you are is when you're at port. That is when majority of hunters will try to approach you. If you lay 1 scout and 1 mine in sector at each end of your port that will give you a head start to run if a enemy comes in sector of your port. You will receive a ping message (located upper right of your screen) if they come IS letting you know they're there. THERE IS NO REASON TO CLICK THE PING MESSAGE. Immediately run back to fed since you only have 1 scout and 1 mine at each end of your route. The mine is there is slow the enemy hunter down. Because their ship will get a screen that they hit a mine and this should give you extra time to run away. It is important to always pick up your forces when you're done trading. If you leave a scout there then enemies will know where you trade. You don't wanna leave any foot prints.
This also means keep a low armor weapon on you such as a laser (keep your attack rating under 3/). This is for shooting scouts. ALWAYS shoot any scouts you pass over. There is no reason to trade or move over scouts. You don't want to give your enemy any sort of advantage.
(m)IRC is a great tool used to talk communicate to your alliance mates. Use this while trading. Simple is go in chat and say "Hey is there any hunters around?" maybe someone in your alliance noticed someone in in your galaxy lurking. If someone does not make a turn movement in 10 minutes then they will fall off current player list meaning they're "lurking". Many hunters lurk in order to make traders feel safe enough to start trading. Do not be afraid to ask someone in your alliance to watch "Current Player List" (CPL) for you while you trade and have them message you in game if a enemy hunter appears on the CPL. This also means be aware of who hunts. This can easily be done by asking alliance mates and checking recent news to see who is hunting.
This is probably one of the most important aspect of trading that not everyone does. There is no reason to play your trip to use every last turn. Always SAVE 50-70 turns as emergency turns. I have gotten a lot of kills by mining around fed and waiting for a trader to come hit my mines and waste turns then run out of turns stuck in open. If they have saved 50-70 emergency turns then they would have lived. Who cares if you are 1-2k experience from being ranked that much higher. It is better to save those extra turns to properly get safe you're not losing those turns they will always be there.
This means have a plan. Remember how to get back to fed space and make sure you do NOT have any illegal goods on your ship as you will not be properly fedded (Slaves, Weapons, Narcotics).
There is no need to read this section or use these techniques unless you have massive experience and have a number of people constantly hunting you. (usually if you get around 300,000 experience it might be good to know this).
Easy way to throw off your enemies is to buy 5 less holds when you purchase your ship so if IST has 300 holds only purchase 295 holds. Experience is updated real time. Good hunters will "track" your experience gains to find your route. Having gains with 295 holds or some weird amount that no other ship has will severely throw off the hunter trying to track you
Change your route often. There is no reason to trade the same route all game especially if you have had hunters come after you before.
ALWAYS use them... there is no reason not to use forces as people might try to just 2v1 so you need every second you can get.
Go a couple sectors out and trade some crap route just to make your experience look like you're trading. This may make people pop on CPL that may be hiding close to your route.
Don't trade at the same time everyday. Don't trade only when you log-in. Everyone has a smart phone now log-in from your smart phone just so you appear on cpl and log-off. Sounds dumb but believe me there are many traders that trade as soon as they log-in and only log-in to trade. So as a hunter if I see someone like that i immediately get ready to trade.
Check cpl often as you trade. When I trade I get in habit of checking every couple trades in-between my ports. I have one of the hot keys set as CPL so I can check real quick
You don't have to always bank when you're done trading. A lot of hunters including myself will wait by bank because 95% of people go to bank as soon as they're done. Maybe bank at the beginning of your trade session and not at the end of it. Again be unpredictable.
You can cloak if you have a massive experience load over the next player.. It helps to get a less effective trade ship that has cloak. I HATE when traders have cloak and i can't see them. Makes it so freaking hard to kill them sometimes i don't even attempt them if they have cloak