Aug 6 2009

Howto: Know if someone tries to scan you down

So you’re in low/nullsec and just a little paranoid? Good, paranoia is healthy in EVE in general. I recently had to run a few missions in lowsec, and it can be perfectly safe there in deadspace until someone scans you down and warps into your mission space. Mission runners usually know that feeling from highsec Ninja Salvagers that suddenly turn up out of thin air. In lowsec the motivation is a bit different though, so you want to know what’s going on – especially since scanning has grown a lot more popular lately.

The basics

First off, before jumping into the target lowsec system, check for a gate camp by opening your map (F10) then, in the world map control panel, go to “Star Map > Color Stars by > Statistics > Ships destroyed in the last hour”. Systems with ship kills will light up, and hovering over them with your cursor tells you how many ships were destroyed. One or two kills do not necessarily have to mean anything bad, so check for pod kills as well. Those invariably mean something is afoot. It may just be consensual PvP, but you are paranoid, remember?

No ship kills nor pod killings means it is pretty safe. You just need to be able to warp into the system and off into your deadspace area. If you do not want to leave anything to chance or want to confirm the target gate is clear, the next step is to scout out the system. Just use a shuttle, it is fast enough to avoid most trouble and does not make too big a dent in your wallet if you do get caught.

Spotting scanners

To detect someone scanning you, you need to know what tools they are using. With the new scanning system, you have to fit an Expanded Probe Launcher I, and use some Combat Scanner Probe I or Sisters Combat Scanner Probe I probes. Scanning down a ship is pretty much the same procedure as with scanning down a complex: you launch some probes, scan at the maximum range, and when you get a hit you incrementally reduce the scanning range of your probes until you get a 100% hit. To get a 100% hit on a ship, you usually need to go down to at least 2 AU scanning range depending on ship size. Ships like Exhumers or Freighters are very easy to scan down.

And that is the key: you know that to find your exact location, the pilot has to place some probes within at least 2 AU of your ship. From then on, it gets pretty easy: open the system scanner, set it to 360 degrees and 4 AU (598392000 km), untick the “Use Overview Settings” box and scan. If you see one or more combat scanner probes listed, it is time to think about leaving for a while or at least warp to the other side of the system to get the pilot off your trail. It takes a while to adjust the position of the probes from 4 AU until you get a 100% hit, so that should leave you enough time.

Note: If you see Core Scanner Probe I or Sisters Core Scanner Probe I in the list, do not panic. You cannot scan down ships with those, only complexes and the like. You are safe.

To sum up, the idea is to have the system scanner open, and periodically check for probes. Most of the time I have the system scanner set to the maximum scan range, and check if there are any probes in the system at all (no need to worry if no one is using combat probes). If there are, I reduce the range to 4 AU and wait to see if the probes appear at that range. It can but must not mean that someone is trying to find you, so just keep and eye on the scanner until they get closer and no doubt is possible anymore.

The good news is that there is NO OTHER way to find a ship in deadspace. Someone who scans you down can be in a cloaked ship, but a cloaked ship cannot find you without probing you down – just to eliminate some sticky rumours. Keep an eye open for probes and you’re almost as safe in lowsec than in highsec. Almost 🙂

[EDIT 20.08.09]: Make sure you also read Bel Amar’s comment below, he wrote about a technique some scanners use to try and hide their probing from their targets. It is good to know this technique exists, the big unknown is how many pilots have mastered it.

Understanding the mechanics

Scanning is a whole profession, so I can only encourage you to try it out for yourselves. It is not as profitable as mission running, but can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of tutorials and guides out there to learn how to use probes, and to do it yourself will give you an even better understanding of them. Even if the basics I told you here are quite enough to get by.

There is one additional tidbit that can be useful: To get a 100% hit on any object, you need at least 4 probes. So if you have your system scanner set to 4 AU and only have a single probe listed, you do not need to worry yet. The other pilot may be trying to scan something else down and one of his probes is in your area.

Fast range calculations

Google is your friend: you can convert almost any unit with the search engine. For example, to convert AU to kilometres to paste into the system scanner, search for “2 au in km“. Just change the “2” to whatever you need.

Additional reading on probing

Sidenote

Yay, even with a separate header this time o/ I found a pretty cool video when I was searching for info on smartbombs – someone tried to replicate the effect of a Doomsday with smartbombs, the result was quite disco 🙂


Jun 12 2009

Howto: Build a fast autopiloting ship

EVE Online’s world is quite vast, and as a result a lot of a Capsuleer’s life is spent jumping around the place to get where you need to be. More often than not you will need something that’s quite a few jumps off, like that module you need for your ship’s new fitting. I often find myself hopping around between regions as well, especially since most interesting contracts seem to be on the other end of the universe 🙂

In those cases, if your cargo does not require a cargohold bigger than about 130 m3 you should think about building yourself a ship specifically for those trips. You will be amazed at how much easier your life can get!

But first off, let’s look at what makes the difference when jumping around (ordered by importance, assuming you’re on autopilot):

1) Warp speed
2) Turn rate
3) Base speed

The warp speed is the most important part, as you spend most of your time flying through systems on your way to the next stargate. Many systems are pretty big, meaning you will have to warp 100+ AU. If you want to speed things up, warp speed is key. Turn rate makes you initiate warp faster after jumping through a gate, and the base speed will reduce the time your ship spends on the 15 kms the autopilot uses as a safe warp zone.

There are a few ship classes in EVE that have increased warp speed, I have compiled a short overview:

As you can see, the fastest warping ships are frigate-sized specialty ships with 13.5 AU per second. Every race has them, so you will not have to cross-train to get the fastest one out there. But let’s take a better look at the selection of ships that gives us:

Covert Ops:

Anathema: 282 m/s
Buzzard: 306 m/s
Helios: 320 m/s
Cheetah: 381 m/s

Interceptors:

Malediction: 435 m/s
Raptor: 415 m/s
Ares: 450 m/s
Stiletto: 435 m/s

Covert ops have the big advantage of being able to fit cloaking devices so you can move around undetected with your valuable cargo, but personally I prefer the comfort of the interceptors – but the choice is yours, both work pretty well even if interceptors are quite a bit faster base speed wise. Let’s have a look at how to fit one of these beauties to make the most of it. I will take the Malediction as example, as that’s the one I use.

High Slots:
Whatever you like / can fit

Med Slots:
Any Microwarpdrive you can fit
Anything else you like / can fit

Low Slots:
Inertia Stabilizers II
Overdrive Injector System II
Overdrive Injector System II

Rigs
Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I
Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I

This fit gives you 19.4 warp speed, about 680 m/s base speed and around 4.500 m/s with the Microwarpdrive (depending on skills). There are a lot of variations to this fitting, the key being the two rigs. If you need more cargo space, replace or remove the overdrives as they greatly reduce your cargo space.

You might ask what the Microwarpdrive is for, well there’s a little trick I use 🙂 Put the module on one of the F1-F12 keys, and then once the autopilot is engaged, press the microwarpdrive key and block it with something so it stays pressed. That way, when the module can be activated (when approaching a stargate), it will automatically be activated and one burst usually gets you to the stargate in a jiffy. Another use is if you autopilot semi-afk and occasionally engage the microwarpdrive to speed things up.

With a ship like that, hopping between regions becomes almost bearable 🙂


Apr 17 2009

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.


Dec 10 2008

An introduction to logistics

“EVE Online’s cheat mode”

Of course there is no such thing. Or is there? I am starting to think that logistics ships are indeed EVE’s god mode. I recently ran the level 4 mission “The Assault” against the Serpentis, and even though the first room does not have to be cleared I was more than happy to clear it anyway because of all the nice bounties. I have to admit that I am pretty lazy though, so I logged Loreena on and she joined Aeon’s Abaddon in her Oneiros. Her logistics skills are all maxed out now, for remote armor, shield and capacitor support. Boldly Aeon got full agro of the room, and the combined on-board armor repairer plus Loreena’s three tech 2 remote armor repairers took on the whole room’s damage.

It was not the first time I ran this mission with Loreena along, but this time I actually marveled at the list of ships in the overview. Aeon was merrily tanking 12 battleships at one point, as well as a heap of battlecruisers, cruisers and frigates (“small fry” as some pilots call them). On his own he would have lost the ship a few times over already, and this was just with the three remote armor repairers – for emergencies she also has five armor repair drones on board.

You might argue that taking a logistics ship as support to one of the best tanking battleships out there is way overkill, and I would tend to agree with you. For some mysterious reason it feels incredibly good though… For my defense I have to say that using lasers is not exactly the best weaponry against serpentis, so clearing the room takes a long time – during which Aeon has to sustain a lot of damage. Taking Loreena along makes the whole thing a whole lot safer and enjoyable. It’s not that I don’t like the occasional adrenaline rush – but I am a carebear that likes a cosy cave after all 🙂

Here is a quick comparison of the logistics ships in the game (bonuses take into account the race Cruiser V requirement):

Guardian (Amarr)
750% bonus to Energy Transfer Array range
750% bonus to Remote Armor Repair System range
100% bonus to Armor Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-65% power need for Remote Armor Repair Systems
-50% power need for Energy Transfer Arrays
15% reduction in Energy Transfer Array capacitor use per level
15% reduction in Remote Armor Repair system capacitor use per level
Fitting: 6 / 2 / 5
Dronebay: 25 m3
Speed: 209 m/s

Basilisk (Caldari)
750% bonus to Shield Transport range
750% bonus to Energy Transfer Array range
100% bonus to Shield Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-50% CPU need for Shield Transporters
-50% power need for Energy Transfer Arrays
15% reduction in Shield Transport Array capacitor use per level
15% reduction in Energy Transport Array capacitor use per level
Fitting: 6 / 5 / 2
Dronebay: 25 m3
Speed: 192 m/s

Oneiros (Gallente)
750% bonus to Remote Armor Repair System range
750% bonus to Tracking Link range
100% bonus to Armor Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-65% power need for Remote Armor Repair Systems
15% reduction in Remote Armor Repair System capacitor use per level
10% bonus to Tracking Link efficiency per level
Fitting: 4 / 5 / 4
Dronebay: 50 m3
Speed: 214 m/s

Scimitar (Minmatar)
750% bonus to Shield Transport range
750% bonus to Tracking Link range
100% bonus to Shield Maintenance Bot transport amount
-50% CPU need for Shield Transporters
15% reduction in Shield Transport capacitor use per level
10% bonus to Tracking Link efficiency per level
Fitting: 4 / 5 / 4
Dronebay: 45 m3
Speed: 253 m/s

If you look at these ships, you will see that there are two ships in each support category – The Oneiros and Guardian for armor support, the Basilisk and Scimitar for shield support. The Guardian and Basilisk focus on armor/shield and energy support whereas the Oneiros and Scimitar focus on armor/shield and tracking support. Tracking support is less commonly used, so the most popular ships in this list are the Guardian and Basilisk. Bonuswise these ships are all the same though, there is not one that is “the best” for armor or shield support, it depends solely on the role you need the ship to play. Loreena for example flies an Oneiros because it has a goodly dronebay, is fast and can be armor tanked.

Now let’s have a look at what skills you need to fly a logistics cruiser (I’m assuming you want to go for T2 modules).

Ship skills
Electronics II
Spaceship Command III
– (Race) Cruiser V
Long Range Targeting V
Signature Analysis V
Logistics I

Armor support
Mechanic III
Repair Systems II
Remote Armor Repair Systems IV

Shield support
Science II
Engineering III
Shield Emission Systems IV

Tracking support
Electronics III
Sensor Linking IV

Granted, especially the ship skills are not exactly cheap timewise, but then again they can’t hurt to have. I never regretted training Loreena for logistics, and that Elite certificate she has now sure looks good 🙂

So what can you expect to get from all this? Taking the Oneiros as an example, I can easily permarun 4 x T2 Medium Remote Armor Repairers, which represent 4 x 192 HP every 4.5 seconds (768 HP total). I have not come accross a single level 4 mission where I had to use all four repairers, which is why I put a salvager in the fourth high slot. With a range of 51 km on the repairers, Loreena can go salvaging even in the heat of the mission. Even if she gets targeted, with an AB speed of 660 m/s and a small armor tank she can even sustain quite a bit of damage herself. Even tanked Hoborak Moon once while she was webbing him…

As a conclusion, logistics are a good investement whether you mission solo and have the luxury of a second account or want to take on a prized role within your corp. Comments welcome as always, also check out the loadout on battleclinic for Loreena’s Oneiros.

[EDIT] Updated the links to the item database, updated the Oneiros loadout.
[EDIT] Updated with new tags and inline ship info


Jan 10 2007

Market escrows explained

EVE Online market escrowsWhen I started playing EVE Online, the market interface reminded me of the first time I started 3D Studio Max: it was overwhelming. I have gotten used to it now, but market escrows is something I did not understand completely until lately. The problem was that I simply did not understand the word, and my english-french dictionary did not help much as the french description was just as cryptic. A few questions in the corp and help channels did not yield much info either.

So what is a market escrow? In fact it’s very simple. When you place a buy order, the money required to buy the item(s) is removed from your wallet and placed in a market “escrow” account to ensure the required cash will still be there when someone takes your buy order. Quick example: I recently placed a buy order for an implant for 15 Mil. I had 20 Mil in my wallet, so the 15 Mil went to the market escrow and I had 5 Mil left in my wallet. This way I cannot accidentally spend too much ISK and not be able to afford the buy order anymore.

You can see how much ISK you have in market escrow by opening the market and switching to the “My Orders” tab. At the bottom, there is a summary containing your total ISK in escrow. If you cancel your buy order, the ISK from the escrow is transferred back to your wallet (minus the broker fees of course). If you do not have enough ISK in your wallet to complete a buy order, you will be able to see the additional ISK required to complete it in your orders summary.