Basics EditTrade occurs between markets, each of which can be a planet, a station, or a planet and its associated station. Different markets produce different commodities such as food, fuel, ore, metals and machinery, which are then exported to other markets that need them. Each market has a specified population, which determines the magnitude of its supply and demand for commodities, and a stability value that represents the amount of factors such as development and law and order on the planet. More stable markets have higher prices and fewer items on the black market.
The player can easily use markets to purchase needed supplies, fuel, ships and other items, and similarly sell acquired loot there, but buying goods from one market to sell at another is generally unprofitable. This is because every market imposes a 30% tariff on items bought or sold by the player, making buying more expensive and reducing the gains from selling them. The design intent is to prevent players from finding a single profitable trade route and then farming it continuously. To get around this, the player must take advantage of events, or make use of the black market.
The per-unit price of a good will rise as more items are bought in a batch, and fall as more items are sold. This is particularly marked if the number of units sold exceeds the market's local demand. Depending on the commodity in question, demand may be zero; e.g. many minor markets won't buy metals.
The items available on a market are refreshed every 30 days.
Each credit of profit from trading gives 0.25 experience points.
Events such as trade disruptions will sometimes occur, raising or lowering the price of commodities at a market by a large amount. During this period, it is economical for the player to trade in the affected goods. News of events propagates along the communications network; the player can install sniffers on comm relays or cultivate a close relationship with factions to get an increased level of information not normally available. Events on minor markets may not be reported at distant locations due to not being considered newsworthy.
As of version 0.65.1a there are two event types that directly affect trade.
This is a general shortage or surplus of goods, usually caused by trade fleets being attacked or otherwise failing to arrive at their destinations. The price of goods imported through the affected route(s) goes up, while exported good prices go down. The trade routes may eventually shift to a new trade partner, or a long-term shortage may result at the affected market.
This occurs when food supplies are depleted for whatever reason. A set amount of food needs to be sold to the market to end the shortage. Selling food during a shortage raises reputation with the affected faction.
Food shortages cause significant market destabilization, which can partly persist after the event ends unless it was resolved quickly. Selling food on the black market during a shortage will also destabilize the market after the shortage ends.
A non-unfriendly market may sometimes organize a relief fleet to send aid to the affected market. The shortage will end if the fleet reaches its destination; attacking the fleet and forcing it to turn back or destroying it will aggravate the event. Food shortages can also end on their own without intervention after long enough.
Military market Edit
Some markets have a military base, which will trade with the player if their reputation with the faction in question is high enough. Military bases will sell ships and weapons not found on the open market, with a higher reputation unlocking more items. They will also buy goods that are illegal on the open market.
A faction commission is required to purchase any item that also requires a Welcoming or higher reputation level, if the faction issues commissions.
Black market Edit
The black market charges no tariffs, making it more profitable than the open market. The black market also carries illegal items and military-grade ships and weapons not normally found on the open market. A lower stability value will make more items available on the black market.
Smuggling (i.e. trading on the black market) will destabilize the local market, with selling illegal goods into the market having a greater effect. Suspicions of smuggling will cause the player to lose reputation with the faction operating the market, and can attract attention from nearby patrols who will search for contraband or suspiciously large volumes of supplies, crew or fuel. Having ships with Shielded Cargo Holds reduces the chance of contraband being detected. Trading on the open market at the same time as smuggling, or docking with the transponder off, will reduce smuggling suspicion. The suspicion level is visible as a tooltip on the black market button. Free ports do not care about smuggling activity and will not receive a stability penalty from it.
Smuggling raises reputation with the pirates, but not when done on pirate bases. Players can trade with the black market regardless of current reputation with the pirates.
Unlike the open and military submarkets, the black market does not require the player to dock with their transponder active.
Faction relations Edit
Trading with a faction will raise the player's reputation with that faction, but lower it with any enemies of the faction (other than pirates) that are present in the star system.
A higher reputation with a faction will reduce the chances of contraband detection and criminal investigations a player is subjected to, while a lower reputation has the opposite effect.
A faction at "inhospitable" relationship status will refuse to trade with the player or even allow docking for refits/repairs. However, a fleet with its transponder off and undetected by any patrols can sneak in and trade on the black market. Independent and pirate markets will also allow open market trading if the transponder is off.
Intel screen Edit
The intel screen contains a log and map of current events, including trade events. It can also be set to display information about currently known prices.