Season Two has officially arrived, and with it: Trade Routes!
Trade Routes offer a new way for merchants of the sea to gain reputation with the Merchant Alliance Trading Company. Merchant Alliance Emissaries looking to climb the ranks can now purchase and sell commodities between Outposts for a profit.
While Merchant Alliance Emissaries have the most to gain, other Emissaries might want to keep a weather eye on these Trade Routes, too—as Trade Routes could yield a rather profitable steal.
What are Trade Routes?
If you’ve ever felt the Merchant Alliance seemed a bit persnickety, you’re not alone. Not only are they sticklers for time management, they also seem to predominantly traffic in finery: luxurious silks, exotic spices, and the like.
They may be persnickety, but they won’t turn a blind eye to profit. Thus, it seems the Merchant Alliance has recently begun to trade in some additional, rougher commodities.
Perhaps they’ll permit more in the future, but for now the Merchant Alliance has begun trading the following seven new commodities: Unsorted Silks, Unfiltered Minerals, Unclassified Gemstones, Ungraded Tea, Unrefined Spices, Raw Sugar, and Broken Stones.
The basic idea is that pirates can purchase these commodities from one Outpost and sell them at another.
However—as with any trade—you won’t make much of a profit buying and reselling the same item, unless and until you factor in supply and demand.
The Merchant Alliance shrewdly keeps track of their inventory.
Inevitably each Outpost ends up with extra of some things and not enough of others. They list these as “Surplus” and “Sought After” commodities, respectively.
Purchasing items where they are in “Surplus” and ferrying them over to where they are “Sought After” will net pirates their greatest profits. This, in turn, potentially creates Trade Routes.
How do Trade Routes work?
Each week, the Merchant Alliance will post the Commodity Demand for each Outpost.
Every Outpost will have one Surplus commodity and one Sought After commodity.
There are seven commodities and seven Outposts. So, as you might expect, the “Surplus” and “Sought After” commodities are different for each Outpost.
So, for example, only one Outpost will have a Surplus of Unsorted Silks, and only one Outpost will be seeking Broken Stones.
After one real-world week, the Merchant Alliance will review their inventories, and post a new Commodity Demand—changing which outposts sell and seek which items.
Where do you find these Commodity Demands?
Sitting on a pile of wooden crates next to each Merchant Alliance Representative, you will now see a new Merchant Alliance Outpost Inventory book.
This book will list each Outpost’s needs and excesses.
Okay, but what if you’re out at sea with some commodities to sell? It would be rather inefficient to sail to an Outpost just to read the inventory book and find out that you need to sail to another Outpost.
Fear not, dear pirates. Just pull out your trusty interactive SoT Companion map. Aye, we’ve added a new feature to your handy interactive map.
Current Trade Routes
On your map, by default, you’ll now see each week’s Trade Route information hovering above each Outpost. On the left, under a plus sign, you’ll see what the outpost has in Surplus. On the right, under the minus sign, you’ll see what the Outpost is seeking.
You’ll also find a shiny new button on the side of your map. Click that button, and you’ll open up a new Trade Route panel. There you’ll see a table with the most recent Commodity Demands for every Outpost, as well as a key to the map icons.
If you’d like, you also have the option to turn off the Trade Route map icons.
They’re on by default, at least for now, in part because—even if you have no intention to buy these traded goods—you might want to sell them.
This brings us to Emissaries.
Emissaries and the Trade Routes
Before you can buy any commodity, you must first vote to raise your Merchant Alliance Emissary Flag.
Not only does this provide yet another incentive for pirates to raise that Merchant Alliance Flag, but also you do not need to be a Merchant Alliance Emissary to sell this new loot.
You might be thinking, “Well, if I only have to raise my Emissary Flag to buy the commodities, couldn’t I just lower it right after?”
Technically, sure, but you would be forfeiting the entire tempting reason to do these Trade Routes.
As a Merchant Alliance Emissary, for each commodity you sell you will raise your Emissary Grade. If you sell at a few Outposts—and touch a few ambient merchant crates along the way—you’ll likely reach Grade 5 quite quickly.
With the Emissary Grade’s multiplier effect, not only will selling “Sought After” commodities become a much more lucrative endeavor, you’ll also be raising your rank on those Emissary leaderboards!
If you’re a Reaper’s Bones Emissary, looking to maximize your profits, you could sell your trading route plunder, at their respective “Sought After” Outposts—or you could sell at the Reaper’s Hideout.
The Reapers are not seeking any trading route items. So, you’ll be selling at the commodity’s base value—but you’ll also get the multiplier effect of your Reaper’s Bones Emissary Grade.
Then again, these crates are likely not what you covet most from a sunken Merchant Alliance Emissary ship. The real prize is that flag!
Alright, pirates, if you’ve decided to embrace the ticklishly targeted sensation that will assuredly come with raising that Merchant Alliance flag, let’s buy out the Outposts!
Now that you’re a Merchant Alliance Emissary, speak with the Merchant Alliance representative. They now provide the option to browse their Resources and Commodities. Select browse, then select the commodities section. There you’ll see each item the Outpost is carrying and its price.
As we mentioned, there are seven new commodities. For each Outpost, one will be in Surplus, one will be Sought After, and five will simply be.
When it comes to purchasing commodities, the Outpost will offer three of the surplus commodity, and none of the item they seek. For the remaining five commodities, they’ll offer one a piece.
This leads to a total of eight offerings.
You can purchase all eight, if you’d like. You’re investing a nice chunk of gold, and you could lose those crates. So, how many you buy will be up to your risk preferences and your confidence that you can sell them all.
Much like Cargo Run crates or Animal crates, after you purchase, just remember to actually collect your purchases from the Merchant Alliance Representative.
Cooldowns and Limits
Yes, there is a cooldown period after you’ve bought out the Outpost. You can only purchase each offering once every three in-game days.
In the Sea of Thieves, 6am heralds the dawn of a new day.
This means, if you made your purchases at 3pm on the 17th, you could make these purchases again at 6am on the 20th.
So, depending on what time of day you bought out the Outpost, you’ll be looking at a cooldown somewhere between 48 and 72 minutes.
It is important to note: this limit applies to your crew—meaning anyone on your ship.
As such, if one pirate leaves the crew and a new pirate joins, that newcomer still can’t purchase the previously bought commodities until the cooldown period has ended.
It being tied to your crew also means that just because one crew bought all they could, that doesn’t prevent another crew from making those same purchases.
The cooldowns are also tied to each individual commodity. For example, you can purchase a Crate of Unsorted Silks on the 2nd and a Crate of Unfiltered Minerals on the 3rd, and the Unsorted Silks would become available a day before the Unfiltered Minerals would.
The cooldown does not, however, affect other Outposts. Even if you have completely cleaned out Golden Sands, you can still buy everything offered at Sanctuary.
Assuming you’ve made your purchases, what more might you want to know before you go about selling?
For starters, there are no refunds for buyer’s remorse. This means you can sell your commodities to any Outpost, except the Outpost where you bought the items.
So you’ll want to make sure you are committed to sailing to another Outpost to sell before you purchase any commodities.
If you sell a commodity at an Outpost where it is in surplus, you will earn less money than you spent purchasing it. So, you will actually lose money!
If you sell a commodity at an Outpost where it is neither in surplus nor sought after, you can expect a small profit, a few hundred Gold coins more than you spent to acquire the crate—plus any multiplier from your Emissary Grade.
It’s not bad if you just want to sell your remaining crates at the end of the night, but it’s certainly not why you began this endeavor.
If you sell a commodity at an Outpost where it is “Sought After,” you can expect to earn a handsome profit.
Currently, you can expect to earn double the amount you spent to purchase that commodity.
That might not sound like too much at first, but if you wait to sell at Emissary Grade Five you’ll also get your additional 2.5 multiplier. So, you’ll earn 5 times the amount of your purchase price.
If you’ve acquired three or more of those Sought-After commodities, selling them all at five times their purchase price, that will be quite the payout indeed!
With all of this in mind, let’s talk Trade Route strategy.
Trade Route Strategies
The simplest way to engage with these Trade Routes would likely be to purchase Surplus Commodities and sail them directly to the Outpost where they are Sought After.
However, you could likely make even better use of your time. You could, for instance, sail to each Outpost, purchasing every commodity available, and selling only the Sought After commodities.
Then again, more than Gold could influence your selling strategy.
When you sell commodities, you not only earn Gold, you also increase your Emissary Grade.
Importantly, we’ve found that, currently, our Emissary Grade increased the same amount whether we sell a commodity that is in surplus, sought after, or neither.
So, you could also sail to each Outpost and sell every commodity you have for the maximum increase to your Emissary Grade. Then you could purchase the commodities that Outpost has to offer and sail off to sell it all at the next Outpost.
That way your Grade and your multiplier on your earnings increases faster. Once you reach Grade 5, you can start selling only the Sought After commodities at each Outpost you visit.
Which strategy you employ will likely depend on risk preferences for having more crates on your boat to lose, how long you intend to trade along these routes, whether you intend to take on other Merchant Voyages to raise your Emissary Grade, how long you’re comfortable sailing around flaunting that high Emissary Grade flag, etc.
Nevertheless, hopefully those strategies give you some food for thought when planning your route.
Emissary Trade Route Commendations
Though the Gold might be reason enough to sail these Trade Routes, there are also new Emissary Trade Route Commendations for buying, selling, and even stealing these new Merchant Commodities.
Haggler of Surplus Stock – Purchase Merchant Commodities at a discounted price.
Profiteer of Sought Stock – Sell Merchant Commodities at an inflated price.
Taker of Stolen Stoke – Sell stolen Merchant Commodities at an inflated price.
Master of Shifted Stock – Make the most possible profit buying and selling Merchant Commodities.
Completing these commendations will allow you to unlock the new Merchant Alliance Hook and Merchant Alliance Eyepatch!
Purchasable Resource Crates
Commodities are not the only thing you can now purchase from the Merchant Alliance. You can now also purchase Resource Crates such as Cannonball Crates and Fruit Crates at Outposts for gold. For more about this new mechanic, you can check out our article that covers it all here.