Highsec ganking demystified

Updated 17.02.2013: Updated with new Orca changes.
Updated 17.05.2012: Updated the info according to current standards.

One of the constants in New Eden is anguish. Whether you are transporting all your virtual life’s worth around in your cargo hold or are flying a shiny beast of a ship worth more than a luxurious planetoid, danger always seems to be omnipresent. Unless you are far enough off field to be all alone in a system, I can guarantee that the danger is real.

For those of you that are following Aeon’s adventures through the captain’s log, it should be clear by now that I am a highsec-hugging carebear. Even after over two years of more or less successful ventures into the harsh reaches of New Eden I still feel the anguish myself. Since Loreena bought her Orca “Tatonka”, I have been obsessing over how feasible it is to gank a ship like that in highsec, as well as any other ship for that matter. A very interesting talk with a pirate friend familiar with highsec ganking managed to answer most of my questions, which I thought I’d share.

I have rewritten the topics we discussed in FAQ style:

Q: First off, what is a highsec gank?
A: It is a lightning suicide attack usually involving several attackers to take down a ship before Concord succeeds in destroying their own ships. The aim invariably is to steal the victim’s cargo or fitted modules, exert revenge, or for the sheer heck of it.

Q: And that behavior is allowed?
A: Last time I checked, there was not much that is NOT allowed in EVE 🙂 Jokes aside, it is indeed part of the game mechanics. High security systems do make this a pricey sport however, so chances are you are safe in your T2 fitted frigate or cruiser (unless you chance upon a bored or mad pilot, which cannot be entirely excluded).

Q: How much does my cargo have to be worth to make me “gankworthy”?
A: As a rule of thumb, anything worth about 250 million and upwards is interesting (200 million is a bare minimum if the gankers have to split the rewards). Multiply that figure by the amount of pilots required to take down your type of ship in time, and you get the maximum value you should be hauling in that ship to avoid being ganked.

As a quick reference:
Orca: ~ 6 BS ~ 1.2+ billion
Freighter: ~ 20 BS ~ 4+ billion

Q: How do gankers determine the worth of a target?
A: Usually they will scan your ship with a ship scanner and a cargo scanner for a list of fitted modules and rigs as well as all the items you transport. From there, a quick glance appraises the total worth of the lot with a few items being key triggers, like implants or faction POS towers to name a few.

Q: How long does a gank take?
A: Not more than half a minute, usually more about 20 seconds. First they determine what you’re worth (see above), then they coordinate the attack. Depending on your type of ship and the amount of gankers the time to take you down will vary a little, but as soon as Concord is on site even a battleship will not survive longer than approx. 14 seconds – or 12 seconds for, say, a Brutix with an 800mm armor plate.

Q: What do you need to gank an Orca?
A: About 6 battleships.

Q: What do you need to gank a freighter?
A: About 20 battleships, a bare minimum of 14 if they are built for alpha strikes. Needless to say such a gathering is not easy to organize logistically.

Q: What is the single most effective way not to get ganked?
A: Do not haul things AFK if you are not prepared to lose them! Warp to 0 is your best friend.

Q: Is warp to 0 a safe way to avoid being ganked?
A: It is near impossible to catch anything that is not AFK.

Q: I am transporting some valuable researched BPOs, won’t that make me a prime target?
A: Possibly. Since CCP changed blueprints so you can easily tell copies from originals apart, it has become more dangerous to transport originals. But there’s an easy solution here: use a fast, cloakable ship to transport blueprints (like a Covert Ops frigate). In highsec you will be virtually uncatchable, and since blueprints do not take up much space at all cargo space is not an issue.

Q: So what are the safest highsec haulers?
A: Almost any transport ship or an Orca. Also see below.

Q: Which ship would you ideally recommend for transporting highly valuable goods?
A: A transport ship. Each race has their own, and they come in two flavors: a larger one with a bonus to warp core strength, and a smaller on with the ability to fit a covert ops cloaking device. The key is that they are both unscannable: anything you put in them will not be scannable with any ship scanning equipment. They also have quite good defensive capabilities, which goes a long way for survivability in case you should not be able to avoid a gank. The downside being that anyone flying a transport ship these days is automatically classified as transporting valuabe goods by gankers.

Q: Can a cargo scanner scan all cargo spaces of an Orca?
A: Yes. Back when Orcas had corporate hangars those were not scannable, but since they have been replaced by the fleet hangar a cargo scanner will show everything, including ships stored in the maintenance hangar. However, it is still impossible to tell rigged and packaged ships apart, or to find out what modules fitted ships have fitted. There is a nice writeup on cargo scanning in the EVELopedia.

Q: I want to transport some officer modules worth billions. How do I best do that?
A: If your route is highsec only, a small frigate-sized ship is your best bet. You will be initiating warp faster from gate to gate than potential gankers can scan you and decide whether you’re worth ganking. If you are able to fly a cloaked ship, the best choice will be a covert ops frigate. For bigger items, the next choice is a transport ship, then an Orca.

Note: If you are in an Orca, fit the modules to a ship, and store that in the Orca’s ship maintenance hangar. There will be no way to see that you are in fact transporting those modules, as the cargo scanner makes no distinction between packaged or rigged ships.

Q: I want to maximize my chances. Do you have a tip for fitting my Orca?
A: Yes. You have a lot of hitpoints on that ship, so the best way to foil ganks is to make it harder to kill you in the timeframe until the cavalry arrives. Besides, if the gankers see you have those modules fitted they might just rethink the whole affair. This is my survival fit:

[Orca, Survival]
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Damage Control II

Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Improved Cloaking Device II

Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I

If you cannot fit some of the T2 module variants don’t worry, the T1 variants will be quite okay as well. With my skills, this fit gives me 287k hitpoints, which would take a small army to take down in highsec. By comparison, a freighter like the Fenrir with maxed out skills only has around 170k hp. Granted, you will feel like flying a freighter – but this is about as safe as you can make an Orca in highsec.

That’s about it! Feel free to add any questions you may have, I will try to answer them. Also, if you have more insights please just post them here and I will update the FAQ.


3 Responses to “Highsec ganking demystified”

  • Bob Says:

    You’re so very wrong about orcas…

    A. You can’t scan corp hangars
    B. Damage control and reinforced bulkheads in lows
    C. Shield tank and 100mn MWD in mids – 10 sec warp

  • AeonOfTime Says:

    Hi Bob, thanks for the comment. It made me realize that I had not updated this post in ages.

    A: Indeed you cannot (you could back when I wrote this, not long after the Orca was introduced)
    B+C: I will test that myself and update the guide.

  • Marco P Says:

    There has been major changes to the Orca bays, and is now scannable, and also, and instead now, in the T2 transport ships, one has unscannable cargo. I’m sure you know this already, I just thought that if a new player jumps here and read it, they should be aware this info is a little dated now.

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