Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Traveling in Dangerous Space



When you need to travel through dangerous space in New Eden, there a few tools you'll want to have in your tool box. Some of these techniques may work slightly differently (or may not be needed) depending on whether you're traveling through low sec, null-sec, wormhole space, or high sec. Nowhere is truly safe in EVE. Even high sec can be dangerous if there are suicide gankers about, or if your corporation is at war. However, it is possible to travel through dangerous space and get your ship through in one piece.

Pre-Flight: Fitting Your Ship


You can greatly increase your odds of success before you even undock. Consider your ship and its fittings. Depending on where you're going and why, you may want to use a "travel fit". Here are some options to consider:
  • Install a Cloaking Device. If you're flying a ship that can fit a Covert Ops Cloak, then by all means put one on. Even if it can't, a lesser cloaking device can be very helpful. If you're flying a larger, more cumbersome ship, you can always use the cloak+MWD trick when going into warp. Also, if things do get rough and you find yourself trapped in a system, it's always nice to be able to cloak up in your safe.
  • Fit Warp Core Stabilizers. You usually won't want to use these on a combat ship, but if you're going for a traveling fit, these can save your ass. It's best to fit two if you can, as two will protect your from a Warp Scrambler as well as a Warp Disruptor.
  • Fit for Agility. Modules like Nanofiber Internal Sructures and Low Friction Nozzle Joints increase your ship's agility, which will decrease the amount of time it takes you to get into warp. 
  • Use Dual Propulsion Modules. This refers to fitting an Afterburner and a Microwarpdrive. If you're being warp scrambled, an MWD won't work, but an AB will. This often won't be an option, but if it can fit on your ship, it's something to consider.
  • Get your Tank on! Ideally you should be avoiding fights all together if you're just trying to get from A to B, but if things go south, it's always nice to have good resists and EHP.

Scout Your Route


Once you undock, the best advantage you can give yourself is to have a scout jumping ahead of you. Your scout can let you know if the coast is clear. 

Whether or not you have a scout, make use of Local (if it's available) and your directional scanner. If local is empty or only blue, then you can warp gate-to-gate and not worry too much. However, if there are reds or neutrals in local, or if you're in wormhole space, you're going to want to use the below techniques.

In w-space, d-scan is your only friend as there is no local. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you to be hitting d-scan every few seconds. However, even in k-space d-scan can be very useful while traveling to get an idea of the types of ships around you. Just remember it has a 14 AU range, and anything beyond that range won't come up on d-scan. A quick look at an overview showing planets will let you know whether or not the entire system is within your scan range.


Tactical Bookmarks


This requires a bit of planning and foresight, but having good tactical bookmarks of the systems you'll be traveling through are a must. You'll want to make these ahead of time in a fast ship. The ideal ship for this is a Covert Ops ship since you can make them pretty quick and they can warp cloaked. Other good candidates are Interceptors and the newly balanced Attack Frigates. It's best to have a MWD so you can burn those distances as quickly as possible. You can find more information on making tactical bookmarks here. Ideally you'll have all the following tactical bookmarks set up ahead of time:
  • Stargate Perches. You'll want at least one bookmark that's on-grid with each side of every stargate on your route. These are usually 150-300 km off the gate. Never warp to a gate at 0 unless there are no hostiles in system. Rather, warp to your gate perch. From here you can see if there are any hostiles on the gate (as long as they're not cloaked). If the gate is clear, you can then warp to the gate and go through.
  • System Safes. You'll want at least one safe in each system. Ideally this safe will be more than 14 AU from any stargate or celestial body (so as to be out of d-scan range). In some systems this won't be possible. Also, you don't want your safe on the line of travel between any two gates or celestial objects. The easiest way to do this is two create two safes while warping between celestial objects, and then create a safe in-between the two in-line safes. If your corporation or alliance has a PoS in the system, this can be a great place to safe up. Just remember you'll be easy to find in the PoS.
  • Station Perches. Just as with the stargates, it's a good idea to have an on-grid perch outside every station. This perch needs to be greater than 150km away from the station, so you can warp directly from the perch to the station and dock.
  • Insta-Undocks. These bookmarks are useful if you're in a station with hostiles in-system. To make one of these bookmarks, exit the station in a fast ship, and don't touch any controls other than to turn on your MWD. You want to by flying on a straight vector from the station. Burn out 1500 km or so, until the station disappears from your overview. Make your bookmark. Now, when you exit the station, you can warp to this bookmark, and your ship will enter warp almost instantly. I find it helpful to have People & Places open with the Undock bookmark scrolled to the middle of the screen. It's a lot easier than dealing with the right-click menu in a tense situation. Once you get your bookmark made, test it to see how it works. Some stations can eject you in a few different vectors, so you may have to make a few of these before you get a good one.

The Art of Bouncing


Everyone knows that bouncing is what tiggers do best, and you'd be well-advised to take a play from their book. Bouncing refers to warping to an intermediary celestial between stargates (or wormholes). You don't want to travel directly from gate to gate (or hole to hole) if you know (or suspect) hostiles are in system. One reason is because it's predictable and telegraphs your destination, making it easy for hostiles to bomb you when you arrive at the new gate. Also, in null-sec and wormhole space, hostiles can deploy warp disruption bubbles along this path. This will pull you out of warp, and you'll often have a very unfriendly welcoming party waiting for you. 

You avoid all this by bouncing. Warp to a planet or moon in between each gate (the sun is usually a bad idea, it's obvious and you may find unsavory types waiting for you). Don't warp to the planet at 0, and don't warp to it at 100, as these are the most common choices. The best thing to do is to set your "Warp To" button to a non-default distance. Do this by right-clicking the button, and then inputting a value that isn't one of the default possibilities. Just remember the change if you do this. If you want to warp to something at 0, you'll have to use the right-click menu. This is especially useful when used in conjunction with the cloak+mwd trick, as you can spam the warp button and not land at 0. It's also nice to have if you ever lose your ship, because you can spam that warp button and 9 times out of 10 get your pod out (unless you're in a bubble).

Ideally you want to warp to a celestial that is in a different part of the system from the gate you're heading to. The idea is to come at that gate on a different vector than you'd be on if you were coming from the original gate. This way, if there are any bubbles, you'll miss them.

Putting it All Together


Examples are really helpful, so here's an example to illustrate. Let's say we're leaving a station in system A, travelling through system B, and then docking up in system C. The sequence of events might look something like this:
  1. Check local. We see that there are hostiles in local, so we need to be careful.
  2. Open People & Places, and get the InstaUndock bookmark within easy reach. Click the undock button, and as soon as you load the grid, right click on the InstaUndock bm and warp to it.
  3. Warp to your perch on the B gate. Look for reds on or near the gate. If the gate is red, warp to a safe, try another route, or warp to the station perch and then dock. If the gate is green, warp to the gate at 0 and jump through.
  4. Let the grid load and don't move. You have 30 seconds of invulnerability after coming through the gate. Use this time to assess your situation. Are there reds on grid? If so, how many and what type of ships? Are you in a bubble? Are there reds in local? You can use d-scan without breaking your cloak. 
  5. If local is clear you can warp immediately to the next gate. If there are reds in local, warp to a planet at a random distance (not 0 or 100). If there are reds nearby, use the MWD or MWD+cloak trick if you're in a slow-to-align ship. 
  6. Once you land near the planet, warp to your perch for gate C. Check the gate, if it's clear, warp to the gate at 0 and jump through.
  7. Assess your situation. If local is clear you can warp right to the station and dock. Otherwise, warp to a random planet at a random distance. 
  8. Warp to your station perch. Check the station for hostiles.
  9. If the station is clear, warp to the station at 0 and dock.


Conclusion


I hope this guide will be helpful to you, especially to the newer EVE players or those just beginning to venture out of high sec. As is often true in this game, I have only been able to scratch the surface here. If you have any questions please leave a comment. If you have any suggestions of better or different methods, or if you disagree with something in this guide, please leave a comment. 

I learn something new in this game every time I play. I don't pretend to know everything. When I first started playing EVE, I got a LOT of help from my friends in AIEU. My goal in writing these guides is to provide a resource for players who may not always have someone on hand to ask questions.

If these guides have helped you, let me know. Feel free to message me in game, or holler at me if you see me in local. And to all my readers, thank you for reading!

Fly smart.