M-E-A’s Guide to Life in Lowsec: Part 1 – Getting Around

INTRODUCTION

Travelling through low security space can be a daunting task. Pirates and gatecamps are some of newer pilots’ biggest fears and according to common wisdom, there really is no reason to travel through or into lowsec in the first place.

M-E-A places the above in dispute. There are a number of good reasons to travel through or into lowsec. Firstly, routes from highsec to highsec, through lowsec, can be substantially quicker and in New Eden, time is money. Secondly, there are a number of opportunities present in lowsec which are simply not present in highsec: non perma-camped DED sites, exploration sites, complexes, high paying agents, rats with good bounties, better ore etc etc etc. Last, but not least, if your looking for cheap, low commitment pvp to cut your teeth on, lowsec is the place to be.

Although M-E-A is a PvP orientated corporation, this guide is written for the new pilot who wishes to travel through lowsec and wishes to avoid pvp combat. We offer this guide to such pilots in the hope that during their travels through lowsec, they will come to realise that it really isn’t such a scary place and that with proper preparation and fitting, knowledge of low security mechanics, knowledge of the dangers posed in lowsec and the knowledge of how to avoid such, there really is no need to fear travelling through low security space.

We must also confess a hope that once these new pilots are more comfortable in lowsec, they may become opportunistic pvp pilots and will come to realise the driving force behind new eden – simple, unabashed combat.

PREPARATION

There are really only three dangers in lowsec: Being caught in a gate camp, being attacked by a pirate or pirates and being attacked by an opportunist. All of these dangers are avoidable through proper preparation.

Route Preparation

Prior to setting out on a journey through low security space, set your destination and check your onboard map. Your map provides you with invaluable information in the form of statistics. Although these statistics can be somewhat delayed or inaccurate, they will still give you a reasonable idea of what you may expect upon your journey.

Check the following statistics in respect of each system on your route:

  • Number of jumps in the last hour. This statistic indicates whether or not the route you are taking is frequented by many pilots. The more pilots there are in any given system, the more likely you are to encounter one.
  • Number of kills in the last 24 hours. Although this may simply be an indication of a large fleet fight having taken place recently, if you see a large number of kills in any system on your route, you are likely travelling through an area in which there is frequent pvp. The more pvp there is in an area, the more likely you are to encounter it.
  • Number of kills in the last hour. Although this information may, again, represent that a large fleet battle has taken place in the system in question, or that the system is one frequented by pvp pilots, it may also indicate that a gate camp is present. If you see a large number of kills on a highsec / lowsec border system, be warned that the gate between the systems is likely camped.
  • Number of pod kills in the last hour. A high number of pod kills, combined with a high number of kills in the last hour is very strong evidence of a gate camp. More importantly, the gate camp is likely well set up and will include sensor boost ships or ships with extremely quick lock times. Such gate camps are frequently set up on high / lowsec borders, especially on routes between trade hubs. Avoid travelling through such a system from the highsec border unless you are confident that your warp time is quicker than a pod (i.e. never).

Having gleaned the above information, it is time to re-consider your route, especially if you wish to avoid pvp or are concerned regarding gate camps. For this purpose, it is worth having a set of 2-d maps which can be examined. Check the 2d maps for any pipes, dead end systems and high / low security pockets.

Scouting and Safespots

A good set of safespots are invaluable to any person travelling through lowsec and it may well be worth your while to pre-travel your intended route in a cheap, fast aligning ship such as a shuttle prior to setting out on your main journey. Our guide to scouting and the creation of safespots in lowsec will be published soon.

Fitting

When fitting your ship for lowsec travel, consider what your objective will be once you are in lowsec.

If your objective is simply to travel through lowsec from gate to gate and survive, you should have two consequent objectives when fitting your ship – reducing align time and reducing signature radius.

In this regard, the longer your align time, the more likely you are to be caught in any gate camps which you may encounter and the higher your signature radius, the more quickly your ship will be locked up and scrambled. Having a relatively quick align time will not assist you if you can be locked up and scrambled before you enter warp. Having a tiny signature radius will not help you if your ship still takes 10 seconds to align and enter warp.

Bear in mind the following:

  • Virtually any module or rig which has a positive effect upon your shields increases signature radius.
  • Microwarpdrives, when turned on, not only boost your signature radius significantly but also hugely increase the mass of your ship, increasing your align time. Although afterburners do not increase your signature radius, they also increase your ship mass and reduce your align time.
  • Inertia stabilisers and nanofiber internal structures both reduce your align time (though inertia stabilisers do increase your signature radius).

If your objective is to engage in some form of pve in lowsec, you should have three consequent fitting objectives – reducing signature radius and align time and ensuring your ship is capable of engaging in the pve which you have planned.

Bear in mind the following:

  • Whatever it is that you are doing in lowsec, whether it be exploration, ded sites or even mining (yes, this is actually possible, although not very profitable) there is always the chance that you will be regarded as a target and attacked. In consideration of such, it is always advisable to ensure thatyour ship is able to align quickly and warp away as soon as an enemy is spotted. Having a low signature radius will never hurt you, especially when attacked by a ship which has scanned you down and warped to you whilst cloaked… you may only have a few seconds warning of the impending attack. A low signature radius will increase your chances of warping out before you are locked up.

In all cases, your secondary objective in fitting your ships should be to make your ship semi-pvp capable or survivable. For this purpose, it is suggested that you always consider fitting a propulsion mod, stasis webifiers, warp scramblers, guns and tank, if only for the purpose of shutting down the microwarp drive of your attacker (warp scrambler), slowing them down significantly (web) and surviving for long enough (tank) to get yourself out of range (propulsion mod) of their warp scrambler or disruptor so that you can warp away. Bear in mind that sometimes, you will simply be pinned down and will not be able to get out. This is when your guns, combined with overheating everything can, at least, increase the chances of your attacker incurring a substantial repair bill.

TRAVELLING

You have fitted your ship correctly, you have set your destination and checked (and where necessary, altered) your route. Now what?

Actual travel through lowsec is simply a matter of warping from gate to gate and ensuring you are not tackled on your way. As set out above, this is mainly a matter of preparation – if you are in a fast aligning ship (for example a frigate) and have checked your route, you should be fine. Only the finest gate camps will catch a frigate set up for fast alignment…

Of course, there is always the chance that you will be locked up by an opportunistic pilot or find yourself in a newly formed gate camp. This is mainly a matter of luck and timing. However, there are a few tools which you can take to minimise the risk involved.

Local

Whenever you arrive in a lowsec system, check local. If you are the only person in local, immediately warp to the out gate and jump into the next system. Unless you are in an extremely slow aligning ship, you will not be caught.

If there are others in local, always proceed with caution. If you have time, check the security status, bio’s and employment history of the pilots in system. This should give you some indication of their purpose and capabilities.

Directional Scanner

Proper use of the directional scanner will be covered in a seperate article. For now, know that the directional scanner is the single most useful tool in lowsec – by changing the angle of your directional scanner and scanning for ships, you can (but for the presence of cloaked ships) safely move around lowsec and choose where to warp to. The directional scanner can also tell you if you are being probed out by combat scanner probes.

A very important tip to note now and to start wrapping your head around is that the DScan can be filtered using your overview filter. This will help you locate not only risks but also opportunities.

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9 responses to “M-E-A’s Guide to Life in Lowsec: Part 1 – Getting Around

  1. As a dastardly pirate myself, I have one additional tip; avoid auto-pilot generated routes if at all possible. Have a look on dotlan to see if their are alternative hi-sec/low-sec entrances nearby especially. Most pirates know the area they operate in extremely well and this includes knowing the auto-pilot routes through ‘their’ space. Meaning that if you follow those predicting your path and notifying a friend down your route of your imminent arrival is fairly easy.

  2. There is a useful trick you can utilize when traveling through lowsec. Fit a cloak and a MWD or AB. If you jump into a gate camp, don’t panic. Do the following as swiftly as you can.

    align
    hit mwd or ab
    cloak
    wait for align time to end
    uncloak
    warp

    I’ve used this trick to escape gatecamps before. The idea is to setup your warp align while being untargetable, and by the time the campers can target you’re long gone.

    Of course, this doesn’t work if the gate campers use a bubble, but you won’t encounter those in lowsec.

    • You don’t need a covert ops cloak to do this – cloaking 1 and a prototype cloaking device is all you need.

      • The technique works well because sometimes you need a burst of speed prior to your cloak to prevent the campers from manually flying straight at you and uncloaking you as well as when you are in a big heavy ship like a hauler or mining vessel.

        The pay-off is that your align time slows down substantially and your time to warp therefore increases.

        I prefer a quick align and not allowing people the luxury of targeting me but it depends on the camp itself.

        In my experience, it is usually better to just hit warp and instantly hit cloak, so in that regard you are right, if you have a covops cloak on.

        However, when you are in a ship with a slow align time (like 7 seconds or more) there is a sweet trick to know about.

        You always warp when you reach a 2 thirds of your max sub warp speed after you have aligned. In a hauler, for example, you can hit warp to, then spam your MWD (turn it on then immediately off) and you will warp when the MWD turns off, not when you complete your align/acceleration, because you have already accelerated past the 2 thirds.

        If you are in a small ship with a fast align, MWD’s are essential and wonderful for the creation of tactical and insta-undock safe spots.

        -Volstruis

  3. What they mean is meant for none cloaky ships;

    The sequence of events goes like this. After you jump and while gate cloaked, hit “align to” where ever you are going (gate or station), then hit your MWD, and then hit your cloak. You will align quickly, and be accelerating towards your warp point. As your MWD is about 75% complete in it’s cycle, turn off your cloak, and start spamming the warp button.
    So what does that do? Ok well, the MWD does two things. It helps you align really quickly, and it builds your speed up, and you’ll be at about half speed with your MWD when you hit the warp controls. However, when your MWD turns off at the end of the cycle, because your MWD isn’t on anymore (you activated the cloak after all shutting it down), your speed is now somewhere between 75% and 200% of top speed. Thus….Insta Warp.

    (practice a bit in hi-sec it takes some training getting the timing right)

  4. Regarding sig radius: Serious gate camps will be sensor boosted up the gazoo for almost instant lock times, and survival is more a matter of being able to survive the trip back to the gate. So: buffer and agility/speed mods. I wouldn’t recommend for instance fitting against your ship’s bonuses just to avoid using shields to keep sig radius down.

    Nice post, working my way through the series.

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