Does anyone know what factors contribute to a pirate making the decision to attack you after they scan your ship in Elite: Dangerous, as opposed to when they just leave you alone with a comment like "my mistake"? I realize everyone is a target in E:D, but I'm talking about what makes an AI decide whether or not you're worth attacking.

A couple factors seem to make a difference, these are what I consider them to be, from my own personal experience, ordered by most influentual to least influentual:

  • Amount of cargo
    • I've been chased for carrying 50 limpets, which are incredibly not valuable, even in that quantity
  • Value of cargo
    • I've been chased for 1 ton painite, whereas I was ignored for 13 limpets a few seconds before
  • Combat Rank
    • This was suggested in comments as a possible factor, and I agree. I'd also be interested to know if a high Trade rank makes you more of a target too.
  • Armament
    • Meaning your complete lack of weapons, or your huge arsenal, whichever the case may be, also your shields and hull reinforcement packages, basically your defense and offense as one factor. For all I know it could be split into several types of gear comparisons.
  • Ship type
    • I swear freight haulers are targeted, but I don't know. I feel like I got scanned in a Cobra Mk III as much as I do in my Type 7, but I get chased a hell of a lot more in the Type 7, even with low or cheap cargo.

I think these are generally correct but I've seen a lot in my mining days, and every rule there has its exceptions in my experience.

I've also wondered what role your system-reputation, affiliated power, or wanted level might play when being considered as a target for murder / robbery, or going even further, things like fuel level, or proximity to mass-unlock distance could have an effect, but maybe I'm over thinking it, and its just a comparison of your defenses to their offenses.

Anyone know of any resources that can confirm or deny any of this? Like much of E:D, at least when it comes to mining, there isn't a lot of authoritative information around.

  • 1
    you login. that makes you a target.
    – Rapitor
    Oct 27, 2015 at 1:52
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    @Rapitor I did kind of walk into that one. Edited for clarity :)
    – Dpeif
    Oct 27, 2015 at 1:55
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    I don't have any references to back it up, but I think your combat rank and the NPC's combat rank factor in, too. Oct 27, 2015 at 17:51
  • @CmdrFreiheit agreed, will add that in too
    – Dpeif
    Oct 27, 2015 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


Amount of cargo

Value of cargo

Combat Rank

They all increases your possibilities to be a target for a pirate.

See it as a coefficient that increases every time that some requirement is met. Remeber that you can still be a target, even if you have no cargo and low combat rank.

Ship type means little (it's not rare to see an Eagle interdicting an Anaconda)


I believe there's a random element to it as I've been scanned for cargo when using a ship with no cargo bays. I've never really been allied with pirate factions so couldn't say if allegience makes a difference or not.

For supercruise/interdiction, I've noticed I'm less likely to be pulled over by pirates when flying a combat-focussed ship and more likely when I'm on smuggling missions.

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    Definitely agree that there's some randomness involved in whether or not you get scanned, but I'm asking more about after the scan, what makes them decide to attack or not
    – Dpeif
    Oct 28, 2015 at 16:05

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