Let's take a trip back to elementary school. How to make a profit? Buy high, sell low!... erm. Sorry. The other way round.
But for this to happen in Elite we need INFORMATION about the prices at various locations. Then other considerations like distances in lightyears or how far the station is away from a jump point or other non-obvious factors (station close to a planet or other objects that slow down and always get in the way e.g.) come into play.
I use these tools:
To gather data, this screenshot based OCR tool is used:
A general guide where to buy/sell what:
Thrudd's tool is web based and the data often 18-54 days outdated, some systems have no stations entered yet. But you get a general idea where to go. The big drawback: The very best deals are never listed for some reason. Basically, I notice a station 38ly away buys X for 1.8K more than the station selling it and the return route also has a good that makes 900k profit per ton e.g..
Slopey's seems to have gained momentum and more accurate data atm, but I don't use it often - I prefer the simplicity of Thrudds.
BOTH rely on player input and data collection. I am a bit afraid less active Elite players after months (the first 1-2 months of massive player influx are over) and ever more tools using separate databases will render the tools very ineffective over time.
So I like to go by rules of thumb like the image shown above.
Imperial Slaves <-> Metals like Gold, Palladium.
Consumer Technology <-> Metals
Progenitor Cells or Performance Enhancers <-> Metals
Tobacco <-> Slaves
Marine Equipment <-> Slaves/Tea
Are examples for some of my favorite routes.
Map Filters help when searching for good trade routes yourself. But they are curse and blessing: There are many agricultural listed systems that have several extraction stations. These seem to get ignored by players due to the filter... go figure. Excellent metal prices there.
Gliese 868 (Reilly Enterprise) Palladium → Wolf 906 (Herbert Dock)
Wolf 906 (Herbert Dock) Consumer Technology → Gliese 868 (Reilly Enterprise)
or many other extraction stations like Braun Station in Gliese for example work out nicely. I found also some even better triangle trades in the rural South of the galaxy.
If you have trading tricks, advice, other favorite tools or even dare to share routes, feel free to comment. :)
P.S. the route shown below is outdated.
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