M-E-A’s Guide to Life in Lowsec: Part 3 – Finding and Avoiding Fights – The Dscanner

Introduction

The most useful tool in obtaining or avoiding fights in low security space is intelligence. The two most important tools in your intelligence toolbox are the local channel and the directional scanner. The use of local to gather intelligence has been covered in a previous guide. This guide will focus on the use of the directional scanner.

It should be noted that proper and purposive use of the directional scanner is heavily influenced by overview settings. It will be presumed for the purposes of this guide that the reader has set up his overview in a proper manner and will, at the very least, have both ships and combat scanner probes on their overview.

The Directional Scanner: A “Basic” Guide

The directional scanner allows the user to obtain information as to what objects are in local space around the user’s ship. The directional scanner has three interactive parts – range, angle and a choice as to whether or not to use active overview settings.

Use of the directional scanner is easy to master, but complicated to explain. M-E-A recommends regular use and practice with the directional scanner until such time as practitioners have a proper understanding of what objects will be included in their scan depending upon range, angle and camera view.

The directional scanner operates on a “cone of scanning” basis emanating from your ship. Dependent upon the angle chosen by the user, the cone widens and eventually becomes (at 360 degrees) a sphere around your ship.

The length and extent of the cone is dependent upon the range and angle set by the user. The projected direction of the scan is dependent upon the direction in which the user’s camera is pointing (not the direction in which your ship is facing). The objects which will be picked up by the scan depends upon the user’s active overview settings (tab dependant) or, in the event that the user chooses to uncheck the “use active overview settings” box, all objects.

It is important to note that without understanding how the direction of your scan is dictated, your scanning will be fruitless. As stated above, direction is controlled directly by your onboard camera showing the third person view of your ship. At 360 degrees, the scanner emanates from and returns information to your ship in every direction around your ship. At 180 degrees, the scanner emanates from and returns information to your ship to and from every point in the direction to which the user’s camera is pointing (well beyond the edges of your 3rd party screen). Take note that as the angle of a scan is narrowed, the precise direction in which the scanners camera is pointing becomes more and more important to the extent that when scanning at a 5 degree angle, it is necessary to zoom out substantially and use your ship as a crosshair to accurately scan particular areas of space.

Some examples provided for the purposes of illustration:

A scan in which the angle of the scanner is set to 360 degrees and range is set to 1000 km will provide a list of objects within 1000km of the user’s ship, regardless of direction of the objects and regardless of the direction of the user’s onboard camera.

A scan in which the angle of the scanner is set to 30 degrees and range is set at maximum will provide a list of objects within 14.3 AU of the user’s ship, within 30 degrees of the centre point shown on the camera of the scanner, in the direction of view of the user’s camera.

A scan in which the angle of scanner is set to 5 degrees, whilst the user’s camera is centered over and pointing at a celestial object (such as an asteroid belt) will provide a list of objects located at or very close to that celestial, depending upon the user’s distance from that celestial.

As stated above, M-E-A recommends regular use and practice with the direction scanner. Once understood, the directional scanner becomes an invaluable tool in locating ships to engage or spotting ships or dangers to avoid.

Using the D-scanner to Avoid Fights

Firstly, ensure that your overview is set up to show all ships and both combat scanner and ordinary probes. Once this is done, ensure that your directional scanner is open at all times and that scans are regularly run.

For the overly paranoid, in low security space, if you are not the only person in local, you may presume that other persons in local are likely to attempt to kill you. If a potentially hostile ship appears on scan, you should, if you are intent on avoiding any and / or all confrontation,  take immediate evasive action to avoid a fight such as warping your ship to a safespot, leaving the system in question or docking up.

However, it should be noted that even if your ship is located at a safespot, it may be found using combat scanner probes. It is therefore important, even if you are safed up, to maintain a regular scan at maximum range in order to ascertain whether or not you are being actively hunted. If you spot combat scanner probes on scan (again, check your overview settings), it is advisable to keep warping (continuously) between a variety of safes to avoid being probed out. Depending on the number of safespots available to you and or your ship type, it may be advisable to either leave the system or dock up.

For the less paranoid, a few useful tricks may be used to ensure your safety even when in a busy system:

Prior to warping directly to a celestial which is within 14.3 AU of your ship, a quick scan of the celestial in question at a narrow angle will inform you as to whether or not any potential hostiles may be lying in wait.

Whilst in warp, a scan of the celestial to which you are warping will inform you as to any potential danger you may face upon landing at the celestial and may help you prepare for being attacked.

Whilst at a celestial or safespot, a shorter range scan (150 000 000 or 1 au) will inform you as to any ships that are nearby and / or warping to you.

Using the D-scanner to Find Fights

In order to establish whether a viable target is located in a system, proper use of the directional scanner is required. A solo capsuleer may, by means of a few quick scans, determine what type of targets are available in local space and pinpoint the location of any particular viable target.

One of the primary methods of finding fights in low security space is by using the directional scanner to narrow down the location of any ships in local space to a celestial object to which you can warp. Obviously, once you have narrowed down the location of any particular ship you will be able to warp to the celestial in question and launch your attack.

In order to locate a target’s position, first run a scan at 360 degrees and maximum range. If you notice that viable targets are within range, quickly narrow the angle of your scan to 180 degrees and run a second scan. If the target does not appear on the 180 degree scan (it may also be necessary to point your camera directly up or down, depending upon the location of the celestials in system), turn your onboard camera to face in the opposite direction and run a further 180 degree scan. If the target still appears on the scan, you may, by pointing the camera directly at clusters of celestials and narrowing your scan angle to 90, 60 and / or 30 degrees, determine at which celestial cluster the target is located.

Note that depending upon your distance from the celestials in question, some celestial clusters will be appear close together on your onboard camera. It is likely therefore that you will have to warp closer to such objects in order to perform a more accurate scan. It is usually useful at this point to warp to one of the celestial objects (or a scan safe located nearby) within your scan in order to further narrow down the targets location.

Continue running scans at ever lessening angles to determine which celestial object the target is located at. Once you have narrowed down a target to a particular celestial at 5 degrees, it is highly likely that the target is located at or at least, very near to such celestial. However, bear in mind that locating a target to 5 degrees often takes some time and that it is, on occasion, simply worth warping to one of the celestials located in a larger degree scan simply to save time and to lessen the likelihood that the target will notice you in system before you can launch your attack.

It is worth repeating that the maximum range of the directional scanner is 14.3 AU. Some systems are, in their length or breadth, larger than 14.3 AU and it is possible that a single 360 degree scan from the in-gate will not pick up all viable targets. Proper use of the onboard system map and overview to determine which celestials are within scanning range and, more importantly, which are not within range will allow you to make a decision as to whether or not multiple scans are necessary. See our note on Scanspots.

The D-scanner is also useful to determine what the target might be doing by changing your overview tab or by unchecking the “use active overview settings” box. For example – if you notice a large amount of mission wrecks surrounding the target ship, it is likely that the target is running missions. If you notice that the ship is located near a number of other ships and, by checking local, you determine that there are a number of members of a single corporation or alliance in local space, it may be determined that the target ship is a member of a fleet or gang.

In addition to the above, the D-scanner may also be used in conjunction with combat scanner probes, the onboard scanner (which differs from the directional scanner) or even normal scanner probes to determine and pinpoint the location of a target ship. Use of the directional scanner for such purposes usually requires a solid understanding of range, angle and the various locations at which a ship may be placed, but can, when properly used, rapidly decrease the time spent scanning targets down.

Conclusion

Proper use of the directional scanner is difficult to master, but is critical to both avoiding and obtaining fights within low security (and other) space. As stated above, practice makes perfect. M-E-A recommends that all pilots interested in travelling through low security space, whatever their ultimate purpose, be fully acquainted with the directional scanner and its proper, accurate use.

M-E-A’s Guide to Life in Lowsec: Part 2 – Safespots and Bookmarks.

Introduction

Proper safespots and bookmarks are invaluable to operating in low security space. Four types of bookmarks are covered in this guide – Safespots, Insta Undocks, Scanspots and Tactical Safes.

Safespots
The purpose of warping to a Safespot is to place your ship in a position where it cannot be found and attacked without the use of combat scanner probes.

To create a basic safespot, simply warp from one celestial to another and create a bookmark whilst in warp. This really is as simple as it sounds. However, bearing the purpose of safespots in mind, you will probably want to create safespots that are difficult to pinpoint, even with combat scanner probes.

Ideally, a Safespot should be unaligned to any celestial (in other words, not a point on a line between any two celestials and should be more than 14.3 AU from any celestials. Such a safe will be harder to scan down because the scanning pilot will not be able to easily narrow down your position with the directional scanner. To create unaligned bookmarks, warp from bookmark to bookmark dropping safes inbetween, or to convert previously created bookmarks of scanned down items into safespots (for example, closed wormholes).

Be aware that despite its name, no safespot is truly “safe”. A competent combat scanner will find you (often very quickly) if you idle at one spot for too long.

Insta Undocks
The purpose of an insta undock is to allow you to safely undock and nearly instantly warp off, preventing any person from targeting and destroying your ship prior to you warping off.

In order to create an insta undock, simply undock from the relevant station in a fast ship (preferrably with a microwarpdrive to cut down on time spent flying). Travel in a straight line out of the station, making manual adjustments where necessary to your trajectory. Once you are satisfied that your trajectory is straight out of the station, turn on your mwd and burn off station substantially (any distance more than 150km from the station should allow you to warp – however, considering that undocking brings you out of the stationat speed, and often at distance, it is wise to keep your insta undocks at a minimum of over 300km). You may wish to make various insta undocks at various distances from the station.

Insta Undocks should be tested and corrected. To do so, undock in a slow, heavy or unweildy ship, zoom in on your ship and warp to your insta undock. If you see your ship aligning or if it takes time to warp away, your trajectory was not correct. Remake the safespot until even the heaviest ship you tend to fly warps nearly instantly.

Scanspots
The purpose of scanspots is to allow you, by use of the directional scanner, to scan an area of a particular system. The use of multiple scan spots and knowledge of the layout of a system allows a capsuleer or a fleet to quickly scan down and locate any opposing ships in system.

A scan spot is created in the same method as a safespot – simply by dropping a bookmark whilst in warp. However, bear in mind that placement is key. Depending on what you want to scan, you may wish to place the bookmark close to a cluster of planets, belts or other celestials (so that by narrow scanning, you can scan down ships at individual celestials) or in the middle of a system (to provide for wide scanning). Pay attention when creating scan safes to brackets in space and the possibility of having multiple warp to options once your scanning reaches 5 degrees.

Tactical Safes

The purpose of a tactical safe (TAC is to place your ship in a safe postion, from which it can quickly warp into an engagement at a particular celestial. Tactical safes can be created on or off grid of the celestial, depending on their purpose.

As a tactical safe is usually quite close to the celestial in question, tactical safes can be created simply by burning away from the celestial in a fast ship.

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.