How do Trade Routes Work in Sea of Thieves?
Image via Microsoft/Rare

Back in the olden days, trade routes were a vital means of not just conveying products and finery between cities and nations, but a means of mixing and mingling cultures. It was through the trade routes that many fields of study were spread to the four corners of the Earth. Also bacteria, there was a lot of bacteria. While you may be a pirate in Sea of Thieves, there’s no reason not to occasionally rent your vessel out to make a quick buck. So, how do trade routes work in Sea of Thieves?

With the advent of season 2, the Merchant Alliance trading company has begun to set up their own trade routes, through which they can buy and sell all manner of valuable commodities like gems, spices, silk, and all that other valuable old-timey stuff. If you become an Emissary to the Merchant Alliance, you can join in on the commerce, buying up commodities from one end of the ocean and selling them off on the other. If you don’t mind long, potentially hazardous voyages, it’s a great way to pick up some cash, not to mention raise your Emissary Grade and place on the leaderboards.

How do Trade Routes Work in Sea of Thieves?

Trading isn’t that complicated in practice. You’ll first need to raise your Merchant Alliance Emissary Flag so they’ll give you the time of day, then you can speak to the Merchant Alliance vendor, where you can browse their current stock of Commodity Crates. Just like with real-life trading, it’s a matter of buy low, sell high. When an outpost has a surplus of a particular commodity, let’s say spice, the price for spice Commodity Crates goes down, which makes it easier to buy in bulk. If you take those crates to another outpost where spice is more scarce and, by extension, more expensive, you can sell off your Commodity Crates for a net profit. 

A couple of things to keep in mind: first, as a ship carrying commodities, you’ll be a natural target for other pirates looking to turn a profit themselves, so make sure you guard those crates with your life. Secondly, Commodity Crates are available in limited quantities; if you buy up an outpost’s entire stock, you’ll need to wait until it refreshes, which takes about three in-game days, or one real-life hour. Finally, remember that trading trends are fickle and won’t last forever. The balance of supply and demand will shift at the beginning of every real-life week, so if you have a big stash of valuable commodities, make sure to sell them before they’re worthless.