In null-sec, ratting remains the most popular way to earn yourself a steady flow of ISK directly into your wallet. From PVP pilots earning their PLEX’s and ship replacements, to dedicated null bears ISBoxing their way to fortunes abundant, no red cross is safe.
With the growth in popularity of renting out space in sovereign null-sec, multitudes of newer players are finding their way into every corner of the unsecured universe. Many of them are looking at ratting as an ideal direction for income. For those new to null-sec, it is one of the best ways to get you started on the road to a good income.
With wealth, however, come great hordes of people bent on plunder and destruction. Cloaky campers, hot droppers, awoxers, interceptor gangs, BLOPs gangs and their ilk roam the corridors of sovereign space. They are not there for a fair fight; they are there to kill ratters in PVE ships, for income disruption, tears and shiny kill mails with which to pad their kill boards.
Eve Online is an MMO in a single shard universe. It is also a PVP centric game. It is not for any of us to argue with the games creators as to its nature. Whilst suggestions as to its improvement are likely to be appreciated, constantly complaining about the things you don’t like will win you no favours. The Eve universe is what it is and acceptance of the situation puts us on the path to improvement.
Therefore, ratters would be far better profited by spending their time learning how to avoid being ganked, rather than filling the cups of said gankers with their tears and rage both in local and on the forums.
Now, let’s just clarify a ratter’s position in the game. You are not under compulsion to be a juicy target. Whilst it is true that un-docking is consenting to PVP, it is also true that when gankers un-dock, they consent to their targets unalienable right to deny others their PVP. In Eve, there is a plethora of ways to deny gankers their kills and thus the universe balances itself.
Those who would rob a ratter of his pride and joy are after the low hanging fruit. What follows are ways to climb the tree, as it were, thus making someone else the more attractive target.
This article is designed to outline some basic procedures and principles that will make the ratting pilot much harder to gank. Applying these principles has seen many pilots avoiding losses. Indeed, wiser pilots have gone years without losing a PVE ship while ratting. Some of these things are considered very basic. Yet, the kill boards are replete with solid evidence that many do not practice them.
Pimping Your Ride
Efficiency in ratting is all about getting the best bang for your buck, so to speak. One important principle to utilise when looking at that lovely blue module that would look oh so good on your ship and is giving you the wants is this: factor into your decision on whether to buy and fit that shiny the very real prospect of getting it blown up.
Also, take the time to carefully peruse the compare tool (Show info > Variations > Compare) to evaluate the advantages this module will give you over others. Then compare these stats with the market price. Quite often, the best module is not the most expensive.
There is a price point at which most modules are not worth the ISK for a ratting ship. The amount of extra ISK your ship can earn simply doesn’t justify the expense. Nearly all officer modules fall into this category.
Another important thing to remember is that you don’t get paid to tank rats. It’s great to have a ratting BS that can tank a Haven for three hours solid and be cap stable. However, you don’t want to be in a Haven for three hours, do you?
The best principle is to start with a good, solid tank and then slowly replace cap and tank modules with DPS modules in the lows and things like tracking computers, target painters, omnidirectional tracking links and webs in the mid slots.
Remember, you are aiming for speed to gain ISK earning efficiency, the faster the rats die, the bigger the bounty tick, simple as that. Another guide to follow will discuss various ships, modules, rats and the way it all goes together to put ISK in your pocket.
So, how do you keep that ship as safe as practical?
Chat channels – the most vitally important chat channel is local. It should be separated and put vertically, on one side of your screen. The other priority channel is your local intel channel, which should either be separated or kept on top of your chat channel stack. The intel channel is your first line of defense, it can provide good advance warning of an approaching gang.
Comms – as a security tool, the pilots presence on TS3 or Mumble is a literal Godsend and here’s why. When someone reports a neut into the intel channel, they will have spent the time to get their ship into warp first, but they will probably have called it in comms as they did so. Therefore, the person who is on comms is getting word of the approaching ebildoers precious seconds earlier.
Flashy icons – via the overview settings, it is possible to set the standings icon next to a pilots name to blink in local. Once the red, orange and grey squares are set to blink, those unwanted visitors really stand out against the blue, green and purple non blinky ones.
Lovely highlights – If you click on a pilots name in local, it will be highlighted. If you then hit CTRL A, all the guys in local will be highlighted. When a newcomer enters, if he is a naughty boy, his blinking icon (you already did that bit, yeah?) coupled with the darker background, will stand out even more. If the new bloke is a friendly, just click any pilot in the list and CTRL A again.
Yeah, I got time – An interesting question is, if a hostile eludes the intel channel and suddenly appears in local, how much time do you actually have to get out? A test with an Armageddon revealed the time from seeing a neut in local, recalling drones, selecting the POS bookmark and the ship entering warp is, on average, 26 seconds.
How does the interceptor do, by way of comparison? Well, he has a few things against him. First up it has been established by testing that the maximum delay between a pilot clicking the jump button on a star-gate (in the USTZ) and him appearing in the destination local channel (in AUTZ) is no more than 5 seconds. Depending on your location and the hostile’s location to the server, it may be as low as 1.5 seconds.
That’s right, when he appears all blinky in local (you really did do that, didn’t you?), he is NOT in system. He is busy playing Doctor Who. Then he will load grid. Then he will bring up his system scanner. Then he will pick an anomaly, click warp to, warp to the anomaly, load grid, approach you, lock you up and THEN! Only then does he have you.
So, how long does that take? Using a Crow, with a complete speed and agility fit, warping to the closest anomaly and exiting warp, not counting the time to get in range and lock your target; the best result gained was 23 seconds from the time it entered local (USTZ ‘ceptor, AUTZ BS).
So, with an absolute worst case latency situation (AUTZ sucks) the interceptor will have no more than three seconds to point you. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that that is an absolute best case scenario for the attacker.
Also factor in the chance of him going to your anomaly and your anomaly being the closest to the gate, we see that the diligent ratter doesn’t stand much chance of being caught.
Go ahead and jump! – For battleship ratters, the very best module for ensuring escape is without doubt the micro jump drive. With your battleship pointing at your safe warp out, it will take 12 seconds or less (skill dependent) to spool up. That’s eleven seconds less than the interceptor can even load grid with you. When you finish the jump, you are 100km from your original position and, critically, already at full speed. Thus, from there, you can insta-warp out.
If we factor in reaction time and good old latency, the interceptor pilot simply will not make it. As a bonus, rat frigates only use warp disruptors, which do not stop MJD’s from working. Another bonus, most interceptors will initially tackle with a warp disruptor until they get you in scram range, thus providing you with even more time.
Don’t warp to station! – So a neut jumps into local. You’re watching local, the nasty boy is flashing and not highlighted. You recall your drones, select the station and hit the dock button. Right? WRONG! There is a chance that hostile is in a dictor. If he is smart, he will warp to station and drop a bubble. You will land at station, in a bubble, 40KM away, while local is filling with flashing icons and is looking like a cheap disco.
Bear in mind, that if you are in warp to the station when he warps in, his bubble will not work, as it has to be deployed before you engage warp.
If you have a POS in system, which is likely, make a personal bookmark in the POS below or above the tower to avoid any bouncy action. Warp to the POS first before doing anything else. If there is no POS, use a safe spot for the same purpose.
Keep the fat boy safe – One particular ratting ship can still easily be caught before being able to warp out; the carrier. However, if you fit your carrier with a 100mn MWD, it will get into warp as quickly as a battleship. Just recall your drones and hit warp to your POS bookmark. Next, turn your MWD on and straight back off again. The resulting drop in your top speed when the MWD completes its cycle will put you very close to warp speed.
Forget the minions – Previously, recalling your drones was mentioned. By all means, do so. However, do NOT wait for them. You don’t want to lose your ship for the cost of a flight of lousy drones. The only really expensive drones, fighters, will follow your carrier in warp. The latest addition, Geckos, are popular and for good reason. But even a maximum flight of seven, flown from a carrier, will only be worth 140 million ISK, a lot less than a carrier.
The eyes have it – Not everyone can live in a dead end system with a two jump pipe to it and a populated junction at the other end. Many have to live in less desirable neighbourhoods, sometimes even busy pipe systems.
Get together with your corp-mates and check out which pipe systems have a good supply of eyes in them. Isolate the pipe systems that lay empty and organise for those with more than one account to put cloaky eyes above a gate in that system. I stand watch with both my characters whenever I’m writing, both windows overlapped to show the local channels on the very right of my left hand monitor.
Keep intel intelligent – a good intel channel is vital, clogging it up with inane chatter and trolling means people have to scroll through the dross to find the useful bits. When posting intel, stick to the well tried and tested formula as follows:
• Drag and drop the hostiles name from local
• Drag and drop the system name from the top left corner of your screen
• Type in a ship type if you have one or “nv” if you don’t.
• Always put in the ship type as “possible” unless you have physically seen it
• When the system is clear, report it as such
Be social in a social game – Try your best to keep good relationships going with your corp mates. Fostering a good social atmosphere works wonders in helping the corp to grow and learn, providing more scouts, more boosts and more on comms.
Show respect and courtesy to your alliance mates, too; if they don’t like you, they may just let that gang go through their system and into yours unreported.
Losing a ratting ship is counterproductive in so many ways. Your own income suffers, sometimes setting you back by weeks. Your corp-mates suffer, as a successful gank will bring more of the same. Your corp suffers, with alliance mates looking askance at the extra neuts in the region.
Applying these principles makes it that much harder for the guys looking for the easy kills. Making it harder for them makes them look at your system as a waste of their time. They don’t want a challenge, they want a kill.
It frustrates long term players to see newer guys losing their ratting ships, their income and, sadly, their enthusiasm for staying in null-sec. All that lost, for the want of a little caution.
Ask yourself this, how much is my ratting ship worth? How long will it take, usually in an inferior ship, to replace it? Compare that time to the time spent applying these principles.
I hope this may be of some assistance to the reader.
It’s all in the mind, you know.