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The scout is the eyes and ears of a fleet. Without them, fleets would get surprised and destroyed by enemy forces much more often, and they would have a hard time hunting down a good fight.
Anyone can scout. Your first day in EVE, you can undock a frigate and scout for a fleet. There are ships which are better, or even essential, for some particular kinds of scouting, such as interceptors or covops ships, but for basic fleet scouting, all you need is the ability to fly a ship, some basic know-how, and the ability to use a few tools linked in this article.
Since scouts are a fleet role, it is important to familiarize yourself with fleet operations beforehand. Read through the Rookie's Guide to Fleet Ops and that will get you started.
Scout Missions and Roles
There are two basic types of scout mission: route security and hunting. Route security simply means making sure the fleet's planned route of travel is free of hostile forces that should be avoided and preventing anyone from surprising the fleet. Hunting means finding good fights for the fleet. All scouts provide route security, all the time, on every operation. If the fleet is looking for a fight, scouts are also responsible for hunting down a good fight for the fleet.
With those two missions in mind, the following are the most common scout roles.
The most basic scout roles are the picket, the +1, and the hero tackle.
Pickets are the simplest (and most boring) of scout jobs, and some pilots do not consider it scouting at all. The picket's job is usually to sit at a gate and report specific types of ships coming into the system a fleet is operating in, or a nearby system. For example, incursion fleets use pickets to warn them of war targets. If all you are watching for is war targets, you can actually do this docked up safe in a station, since you can see them enter local. However, sitting 200 km + off a gate cloaked up is good, and allows you to report the details of ships coming into system.
+1s move one jump ahead of a the fleet to provide intel to the FC. If the fleet is simply traveling to a destination, then the scout's job is route security. You fly one jump ahead and warn the FC of war targets, gate camps, and any other possible dangers. In low-sec or null-sec space, individual ships may ask for a +1 to guide them into or out of dangerous areas.
When jumping into a new system, hold your cloak and immediately check three things. Check the grid on your overview for ships that might pose a threat to the fleet. Check local for war targets, flashy targets, criminals, etc. Finally, check D-Scan for ships sitting off grid. Report anything that might be a threat to the FC.
If the mission is finding good fights and there are other pilots in local, then the +1 will check out mission sites and asteroid belts with D-Scan to see if there are appropriate targets available.
Why move one jump ahead? If a fleet jumps into a system, it spikes local and everyone in the system will know a fleet has come in. That puts everyone on alert. The scout moves in alone so as to not alarm anyone in the system. The fleet doesn't move into the system until the scout finds a good fight or the scout and FC determine that there is nothing interesting and the fleet will move through.
Why not just roam? Why exactly 1 and only 1 system ahead? Even when looking for good fights, scouts are always performing a security role. A scout 1 system ahead prevents the fleet from being surprised. If you are two or more systems ahead and there is no +1, then another fleet can move in behind the scout and surprise the fleet when it jumps in.
Good ships for the +1 role are tackle frigates. When you can fly them, interceptors and covops ships are usually better.
The Hero Tackle
Hero tackle is an add-on role. Hero tackles are scouts already performing one of the other scout roles who find a target the FC wants to fight. With FC approval, and when the fleet is ready to jump into the scout's system, the hero tackle drops in on the target and tackles it in an attempt to hold it in place until the fleet can arrive to kill it. It is essential to communicate with the FC what is happening and to time the tackle to just before the fleet jumps into system. Have your fleet warp to you. Be mindful of the affects of mission sites; the fleet may have to warp to an acceleration gate first. Hero tackles often get blown up (hence the "hero" part), so interceptors and covops ships are not generally used for this purpose. Before you try to do this, read up on tackling and practice a bit with a fellow corpmate.
Other Scouting Roles
There are three somewhat less common roles for scouts: the roaming scout, the -1, and finding war targets.
Roaming scouts move several jumps ahead of a fleet to look for good fights. The fleet will have a +1 as well for route security. Large fleets may have two or more roaming scouts, in which case the +1 and roaming scouts may want their own channel so they can communicate without interrupting the FCs communications with the rest of the fleet. Roaming scouts generally should not try to take on the hero tackle role, although when the fleet is only one jump away that may be okay. Tackle frigates, interceptors, and covops ships are the standard for this role.
-1s follow one jump behind a fleet to protect it from forces stalking the fleet and enemy scouts. -1s are not commonly used, but there are cases when the FC suspects the fleet is being followed or there is a high danger of war targets attacking. -1s need to pay attention to local and notice any pilots who seem to be following the fleet. -1s generally do not report unless they find or suspect they have found someone following the fleet.
Finding War Targets: In any situation where a fleet can expect to encounter war targets or is actively looking for war targets, OOC scouts are very useful. They can move around freely without alerting enemy pilots that a war target is in system.
Basic Tools of the Trade
T2 Ships -- Interceptors: Interceptors are T2 versions of the T1 tackle frigates. They keep the tackling bonus and are much faster. They are immune to bubbles, which is important in null-sec scouting. Each race has two versions of the interceptor, and one of them has additional tackling bonuses, which usually makes them the better scout interceptor. That said, interceptors are expensive, so you should think twice before using yours as a hero tackle. Amarr: Malediction. Caldari: Crow. Gallente: Ares. Minmatar: Stiletto.
T2 Ships -- Covops: Covert Operations ships are frigates that can fit a Covert Operations Cloaking Device, a T2 module that allows the ship full maneuverability while cloaked, including warping. Cloaked ships do not show up on D-Scan, which allows them to sneak up on other ships. In addition, each race has one version of a Covops ship which is the T2 version of their exploration frigate. These ships can use combat scanning probes to find ships and provide a warp-in to them. All of these abilities make the Covops ship an excellent choice for fleet scouts. However, Covops ships are somewhat fragile, so you should avoid using them for hero tackling.
D-Scan: This is an absolutely essential tool for scouts. You will use this constantly to find ships that are not on grid, to hunt down ships, and to report fleet compositions to your FC. If you are just starting out in EVE or a new scout, take the time to read the linked article and practice on your own.
Dotlan: This set of maps is essential for route-finding. If you use EVE in windowed mode, you can have this open in a browser and bring it up whenever you need it.
aDashboard: In either local or D-Scan, you can select all, copy, and then paste the data into aDashboard. It will analyze the data, give you a report, and give you a link you can post in fleet chat for your FC. This is a quick way to report fleet composition, war targets in local, etc.
So You Want to Be a Dedicated Scout
If you really enjoy scouting and want to get good at it, the best way is to do it often. In addition, you will want to start doing the following.
Route Preparation: Find out what routes FCs like to take and spend some time setting up Bookmarks in those systems. You will want bookmarks on gates, instadocks and undocks on the top and bottom stations, a location about 1 AU off the sun, and some safes. At first, a mid-safe between two gates will be enough, but having a deep safe out of D-Scan range of pretty much everything in the system will be very useful when the fleet needs to extract itself from a fight gone wrong. Set up some bookmarks that let you observe gates, mission sites, and asteroid belts from a reasonably safe distance. If you really want to be prepared, you might fit out some scout ships and leave them in stations along the route in case you get to play the hero tackle and need to reship. The more of this sort of thing you do, the more your FCs will love you.
Ship Recognition: The more you know about the various ships in EVE, the better intel you will give to your FC.
A Primer on Covops Scouting
Editor's Note: The following is an excellent primer on scouting in a Covert Operations ship written by another author. It also has some very good general advice on scouting. I will be going through and editing this to fit into the more comprehensive style of the current article as I have time.
What does/doesn't this cover
This page concentrates on covops scouting - that is with covops ships which are able to warp while cloaked (Tech 2 covops frigates and force recons with proper tech 2 covops cloaks. Those wanting to get a feel for scouting may start in frigates with tech 1 cloaks - these allow for sitting still cloaked and are OK for picketing gates (ie. sitting still watching a gate) but little beyond that, and this page does not really cover their use. Anything larger (recon ships, black ops, etc) is out of scope of this document.
This page also covers high/low-sec scouting only - points in here may or may not apply to 0.0 or Wormhole space. Bubbles, lack of a "local" comms channel, and other things will change how you scout in 0.0 or Wormhole space, but we assume that you've had some experience in high and low sec before venturing into them.
Finally, this page focuses on fleet scouting, and doesn't cover general intel, except in as much as intel crosses over with scouting.
A Quick Note on How to Not Die
If you've read this far you're probably a scout, or interested in scouting, and have or will soon have the covops cloaking device that is the signature tool of the scout. After you have read this guide, and before you take your CovOps ship out into a war zone, please take some time (preferably a lot of time) to go out in space and practice maneuvering while cloaked. The vast, vast majority of CovOps losses occur at the gate, right after you have first jumped into the system. Here are a few quick tips:
- Practice the cloak timing! There is a brief lag delay between the time you take an action to break the "gate-cloak" you have upon jumping into a system, and the time when you can activate your covops cloak, and the time your ship completes cloaking. You NEED to be able to break gate-cloak and recloak within 0.2 to 0.5 seconds. Any slower and an interceptor will be able to lock you and prevent you from cloaking.
- The safest thing to do is warp away. When you enter the system, simply pick a planet or safespot, press warp-to, and cloak. If you don't mess up the cloak timing, and don't get bumped (which is terribly unlucky) you will get away every time. This also gives you a chance to drop probes from the relative safety of a safespot.
- Always warp away and come back at range to observe a gate that has hostile ships on it. It only takes a few seconds to do, and greatly increases your chances of survival. Dead scouts can't scout anything!
- The "MWD/Cloak Trick" you've probably heard about is
not particularly usefulcompletely pointless if you have a covops cloak fitted. Its main purpose is to simulate a covops cloak for ships that can't use them, but it may also be used to quickly move out of a warp disruptor bubble in nullsec or wormhole space.
So - practice, practice, practice those cloak timings, and remember to always warp away.
Fittings for covops frigates are generally fairly straight-forward. The highlights are:
- Covops cloak - a tech 2 cloak so you can warp while cloaked.
- Microwarpdrive - this is used for "bursting" in bubbles and getting back to a gate.
- Expanded Probe Launcher - part of a scout's job is sometimes probing down the enemy, and these ships get bonuses to probing, so best to equip for it in case you need it. Bring combat and core scanner probes.
- No guns. Covops ships don't fight - the first rule of scouting in a covops is "if you're not cloaked, you're doing it wrong". Note, there are some exceptions to this rule (as to any) and there are some tackling covops fits out there, specifically for gang action - but again, it is assumed that by the time you're flying something like that, you know what you're doing.
- Lots of cap - the more cap you have, the further you can warp in a single jump.
- Fast cap recharge - means you can jump again a little more quickly if you're bouncing around a system.
Beyond that, the fit will be somewhat determined by your ship. For example fits, see (these are just the best from battleclinic for each ship at point of writing):
Tools of the Trade
The items listed here should be setup prior to your going out to scout.
The overview requirements for a scout are different than for normal fliers. Your job is to see as much as possible, rather than only the enemies. First of all, switch brackets on - that gives you a clearer view of things like gate guns that are otherwise tricky to see. Include neutrals and war targets - neutral may be out of corp repairers or alt scouts. Take your corp mates out, but everything else should show.
Create a second tab that just shows war targets also, so you can quickly and easily identify all war targets and get that information out to your FC, in case a fleet is travelling past you.
Varius Arcturus' Overview Guide has more information on general overview settings and how to set things up as per above.
You may also want to consider creating an overview profile per ship class (frigate, cruiser etc) to use with your directional scanner. This will allow you to select an overview profile with which to filter the scan results based on reliable intelligence as to what ship your target is flying; resulting in faster and more accurate deployment of probes.
You should have one overview tab that shows everything that can decloak you: asteroids, corpses, cans, ships, everything.
Your local window is one of the most important tools you work with as a scout - more on exactly how later. Before you're out scouting, however, you want to move your local window to one side of the screen, squash it width-wise as much as possible, pull the slider across to the left so you can see pilots and not chat, and stretch it length-wise as much as possible. Setting local to show compact member list helps as well. This is to allow for quick recognition of targets in local.
You may also want a global command key. The difference between these two keys pertains to who will receive your command broadcast.
'standard command key' will only broadcast to the Channel Commanders in YOUR current channel.
'global command key' will broadcast to ALL Channel Commanders Server wide.
You use the global command channel as long as you are the only fleet out (so Intel can listen in and advise).
With multiple fleets out not all fleet command communications can be broadcasted over global command. Use global command for strategic information (e.g. "global command, this is Sto Lo's fleet, we are now moving from Jita to Aldrat through Rancer lowsec" [but not "... we are jumping from Aldrat into Eygfe"] or "global command, this is Sto Lo's fleet, big pirate camp in Hagilur, 12 BS Amarr heavy, we need reinforcements" [but not "... flashy rifter 150 km up off the Evati gate"] and questions to Intel (e.g. "global command, NewbieCom1's fleet, Intel, we have two standard squads and the possibility to engage 12 flashy BS on the Evati gate. Any advise?"). Use your local command for tactical information regarding your fleet only (e.g. "local command, Sneaky1, I have a warpin on a flashy Drake at a safespot at 10"
When you talk on any command channel make sure to use the protocol: "Global/Local command", "Your name", ("recipient"), "Information". E.g.: "Global Command, Ubercado, primary is Veldspar".
- Each time you're fleeting up - when you enter the channel move yourself to the "command channel". Once you're done with the fleet remember to leave the channel, or you'll be assumed to be a spai.
Scouting is much easier with a second monitor. If you don't have that, then best to set your client to play in windowed mode (for Mac users, <apple>-<enter> will do that I believe).
For maps, I use
Ombey's - http://www.ombeve.co.uk/ Note: As of 2013, Ombeve.co.uk is no longer active. See this forum post for more. Be aware it is not 100% accurate - there are one or two strange little miss-linkages in there, but they're infrequent. Ombey's will let you at a glance see where you're going and what the layout is like near you - it's great for working out potential alternate paths, looking for nearby low-sec pockets, that sort of thing.
DotLan is also a useful tool - http://evemaps.dotlan.net/ This will show you the same information as Ombey's (although I prefer Ombey's format). This will also show you lots more useful stats about the systems you're headed to, like kills per hour, etc.
For practice, when travelling around unfleeted out of war, always check your route on those maps, and think about where you're headed and how you're getting there. I sometimes travel without autopilot set also, navigating by map to get more used to finding my way quickly.
If you have access to an A3 printer, you can download PDF versions of the maps and print them. These can be extremely handy for pencilling routes and quickly identifying alternate paths or escape routes, especially if you only have a single monitor.
https://adashboard.info/ is a quick and simple way to share intel with your fleet. You can do a quick dscan, copy the dscan results, and paste them to this site. It categorizes the results into an easily readable format.
Many people use screenshot sharing services like push or sharex to take screenshots of the enemy to share with their fleet.
Congratulations! First thing to note - undocking is dangerous to everyone, and especially dangerous when there are war targets in local. So the easy answer is never undock. If you're in a covops ship and intend to fly it repeatedly, consider logging out in space while cloaked.
When you do this you get warped off to a semi-random place in the system. When you log back in you'll be de-cloaked, but will immediately warp back to where you were. During this warp you have time to re-engage your cloak.
Suggested places to logout are mid-way through a warp to a safe spot, or at a safe spot. Don't do this near anything as you run the risk of fumbling and appearing uncloaked near someone who can see you. Doing this near a gate, for instance, also means that people may see you warp off, put two and two together, and scan you down in the grace period - so only ever do this from a safe spot.
One other point on this - when you logout, close anything non-essential. In particular do not leave a market window open, or any other window that takes a while to refresh. This is because you'll have a moment of frozen client while these refresh as you login and that's frankly terrifying.
I've been decloaked, what happened?!
There are a number of ways you can be forcefully decloaked.
- If you get within 2Km of anything you'll lose your cloak. This means don't get too close to other ships and don't hang around at a warp-in point (ed: one of my most terrifying moments was sitting on a 100Km warp-in on a gate and having a larger ship warp in exactly 3Km ahead of me).
- Stations have a range around them that's nominally 2Km, but can be deceptive due to "pointy bits", so be very careful near stations.
- Cargo cans will decloak you and are sometimes easily missed. Gate guns are extremely dangerous - they're very small, usually not in your overview, and scattered around the gates. Very easy to run into by accident - be aware of them. There are some notes on overview settings below.
- Passing ships can decloak you if they're coming out of warp near you. It's not something that happens often, but for safety's sake (and for general sneakiness) any time you warp in you want to move either up or down off the plane of movement, to be well out of the way of traffic.
|This page should be updated due to game changes. Reason: Changes to grid sizes.|
Bookmarks are a significant part of what scouting and covops is about - at least in areas where you can bookmark. You'll slowly collect a large number of bookmarks around any system you frequent and they are your lifeblood - the difference between scouting a system with no bookmarks and scouting one you know your way around is immense, and will change how you operate.
So, what to bookmark? There's a handful you'll want:
A bookmark at warp distance off a gate. You want a few bookmarks that are more than 150Km and less than grid size off each gate in each system you go through. You want to be further than 150Km because you want to be able to warp in and that's the minimum distance. Further away is better so long as you can still see ships coming through the gate. You'll spend a lot of your life at these bookmarks watching gate traffic.
There's two ways to get these. The first is to warp to 100Km off a gate then turn in a random away-from-the-gate direction and move (while cloaked) until you're out far enough. This is a great thing to do if you're doing other things, like watching traffic through the gate, or talking with FC.
Alternately, warp to 100, bookmark that, then warp to something else at 100 and bookmark that. Then warp back to your first bookmark _at 100_. Presto, you have a spot close to 200Km off the gate. If you do this still move a bit to be off the plane, and don't do your two warp-ins in-line with each other. Also, don't jump between gates to do this, as gates are the most likely place other people will warp from.
Incidentally, note that when you come through a gate you come out at 15Km away from the gate - 150Km is your minimum warp distance, so your bookmarks should ideally be more than 165Km away, 170Km+ to be safe. Some gates also have larger radii, so if you have time (before you rely on it) try warping back and forward to make sure each direction will allow a warp. Cut it too fine, and you'll end up not having the "warp to" option sometimes, which is dangerous if you're relying on it.
Try to move off the plane once you have your spot - that's directly up or down - as that'll make you less likely to be found.
Note, bookmarks are dropped when you hit the final "OK" after naming, not when you first hit the "bookmark" button.
Note also, if you can, try and make sure that multiple bookmarks around a gate are far enough away from each other that you can warp between them - that makes hunting down an enemy for a warp-in point much faster (more on that below). If you're making multiple bookmarks, try and put some on the side, and some at the back - that will help you potentially warp from an angle to the side of the gate, bypassing any bubbles, then to the back where you can approach the gate from as far away from any potential gate camp as possible.
A small tip: If you hit "F10" and toggle the map to the local solar system view, you'll be able to see the layout of the celestial bodies. If you can get your bookmark on the "outside" of the gate (ie. put the gate between you and the sun), then your field of view should encompass many of the planets, moons, and stations. This will make working out where pilots are heading to when they warp away much easier.
Same rationale as the gate bookmarks, same basic practice - try and put them "behind" the station, so you can see people warp off.
You want these to be as non-obvious and non-easy-to-find as possible. Between objects (ie. inline from gate to station) is bad but better than nothing (and can have some uses as they're deceptive to an enemy watching you warp out, assuming you're not moving cloaked). Out at scanned down locations - cosmic anomalies and the like - can be good once they're empty. Use safe spots to generate new safe spots by dropping bookmarks mid-warp between them. Keep creating new safe spots - if you or any of your fleet members turn up in them uncloaked you may burn them and have to throw them away.
Note, if you're closer than ship scanner range to other celestial objects you may be spotted (if uncloaked) by any ship using their shipboard scanner. This can happen very quickly so don't assume that just because the fleet stopped in your safe spot for only 60 seconds it hasn't been scanned down. Ship scanners have a range of 14.4AU, so that far from the nearest celestial would be great.
These are like the warp-ins for gates and stations, but just off-grid. Off-grid means far enough away from the location in question to not be able to see ships on the overview (typically near the 500Km mark from your location). These are useful for a couple of things - they're great hiding places and they're very close, so if you want to (for instance) setup an ambush, you can bring a fleet to the off-grid position then move yourself closer to watch the gate or station, get a warp-in point, and bring the fleet in quickly. See below for more info on getting warp-in points on targets.
To get these, you can either warp and drop a bookmark while warping (this can get you out 1AU or so if you can time it right) or you can simply point away from the station and travel - if you do this at a gate, switch brackets on and watch the gate guns - when they disappear, you're off-grid for ships (which means you can't see ships and they can't see you, but you can still see the larger structures). A little further will take you off-grid for the gate itself.
It may also be useful to have a warp-in point about 1AU off a station, if you're watching that system often, that you can warp to, drop probes, and warp away - this will allow for quick placement of a probe near a station for monitoring.
Quick note on warping in - some bookmarks, particularly safe spots, you may want to warp to at 100 or 70 or similar every so often just so you're not always coming in at the same place. Some bookmarks this can be dangerous for - if you have a bookmark at 160Km on a station and you warp to it at 100Km from the other side of the station, you place yourself at 60Km from the station, which if it's camped may not be what you wanted. Always think about where the bookmarks are in the system - use the map (F10) to get a feel for this.
There's also an excellent article on bookmarking on The Altruist
As you build up your bookmarks, organisation of them will become important. You can leave them all in the main folder, but that folder will take longer and longer to load - and a delay on getting to your bookmarks may be an issue.
A better approach is to create the following folders: stargates, stations, celestial objects, POSes, safe spots, people - that's six folders. Then, as you bookmark, move the bookmark into the relevant folder (I use the "people" folder for bookmarks near other people's warp-in points or supposed safe spots). That way, your right-click drop-down of bookmarks has a nice organisation and is easy to quickly get what you want - it will only ever present you bookmarks in your system anyway. This scheme also means that bookmarks you want to treat as temporary, you can just leave unfoldered and clean up later.
Note, however, that while bookmarks are stored server-side, the folders are stored client-side. At some point during your career, you are very likely to lose your folders - at which point everything reverts to one big mess. So, in your naming scheme, include a marker for each type of bookmark - SS for safespot, SSD for safespots that are more then 15AU from celestials, SG for stargate, GO for gate observation, GOG for off-grid gate, STO and STOG for station observation, etc. That way, if/when you do lose your folders, you can re-create them.
Incidentally, a folder per system looks appealing initially, but it suffers similar problems to not foldering at all - there's too many systems out there, your main folder ends up cluttered. Because the right-click drop-down menu already filters for you on system, it's also a bit redundant.
Come up with a naming convention that suits you - something that makes it clear where the bookmark is and what it's for. Ideally also include some info about how far the bookmark is from other objects of interest. One example is "GO Eygfe High 200km", which would be a gate observation bookmark on the Eygfe stargate 200km above the gate. Keep your bookmark names to within 24 characters, for readability.
Backup and protect your bookmark organization by doing a Client Preferences and Settings Backup.
Obviously, your goal is always to stay cloaked, but to position yourself where you can see what's going on with your potential enemies or "neutrals". To that end, it's worth understanding how grids and on and off-grid positioning work - there's a nice write-up that goes through the more in-depth mechanics of "grid fu" at http://will.neoprimitive.net/grids/gridfumanual2.pdf - very useful to understand when you find yourself 100Km off a station but unable to see anyone.
Moving through gates rates a mention - if you are fitted with MWD's, there's a sequence of "double click a direction, hit the cloak, hit the MWD" that gives you a short burst of speed while still cloaking. This can be useful for putting some space between you and the gate or any watchful eyes. If you use this, it's best to also change direction once you've triggered the cloak, just to be sure the prying eyes aren't able to work out where you've gone. Note, however, the caveat near the top on "how not to die" - this process is best for getting out of bubbles, not so necessary for high-sec or low-sec travel. I'd argue that it's good to practice for when you need it, but YMMV.
While you're on fleet operations, sometimes your fleet commander may ask you to check stations to see if a war target is docked up. If they ask, tell them no. There's too much chance you'll dock, see a war target, they'll see you, undock with you, and pop you. It also gives you away as a scout. The FC can find a small fast cheap frigate to check stations.
Fleet Ops - X'ing up
Uni policy is that scouts do not X up with the rest of the fleet. If you see a fleet forming, directly convo the FC and ask if they want a scout, Nine times out of ten, they will, and they'll drop you into a separate wing so you don't get ninja warped around with everyone else . Likewise, scouts don't get listed on AAR's. Secrecy is important to being a good scout - if people know your name, they'll notice you in local easily.
If you're in a covops ship and a fleet is around, or you've logged in after fleet has formed, don't be afraid to convo the FC and ask if they'd like another scout - scouts are about the only type of pilots that can usefully join a fleet mid-op depending on where the fleet is and where you are. I figure it's better to offer and be turned down than not.
Most Uni fleets will look for a forward scout and a rear scout, and any number of floating scouts. Forward and floating should be covops ships, rear can be a prototype cloak ship in a pinch, but covops preferred. You may also see or hear reference to "+1" and "+2" scouts, and sometimes "-1" - these are just another way to refer to forward scouts (staying 1 or 2 jumps ahead of the fleet), or rear scouts (one jump behind).
The forward scout's role is to check each gate before the fleet warps to it. As a forward scout, you want to be able to warp to a gate bookmark, check that the gate is clear and give the go-ahead, then warp to zero on the gate and jump through to check the other side. If you don't have bookmarks, this process gets tougher - you're reduced to either travelling uncloaked (bad), travelling cloaked to the gate (slow), or bouncing off a remote celestial to do a warp to zero when you want to go through the gate. So bookmarks are valuable here.
Rear scouts watch the back of the fleet, to make sure no-one's following. They'll typically stay one jump behind the fleet, and need to watch for neutrals or suspicious behaviour. This is arguably tougher than forward scout, as you'll need to be watching not only for obvious war targets, but also for neutrals who "happen" to be following or showing up often.
Floating scouts have a slightly freer job - depending on your FC, they'll either be carefully positioned by FC instruction to watch different gates and/or neighbouring systems, or they'll be free to move around and look for WT's. Floating and forward is pretty much interchangable depending on FC decisions.
Reporting war target sightings - do this as calmly as possible, and as clearly as possible. Good reporting would be, "Command, Darius. I have one Cerberus on the Korsiki gate in Osmon, jumping through to you now". Bad reporting would be, "Hey guys, there's a war target coming at you!". TS discipline, in the uni at least, is always lead with the channel name (that's "command" in the above example) and your name so the FC knows who's talking where, then provide the ship type and location, optionally war target name and any other details you might have.
A note on Mumble operation - as scout, you are perfectly within your rights to overtalk someone if something urgent comes up - typically you do that by saying "break break" in the command channel, people should then stop and listen. Obviously you would only use this for really urgent information, like a war target incoming to a fleet position.
What to Look For
While you're scouting, you're looking for certain things. First of all, valid targets or threats - during war that's any of our War Targets, outside of war it's anyone who's "red flashy" (sec status below -5). You're also looking for high concentrations of a single corp (particularly if you're hunting pirates and see a bunch of one pirate corp in channel), and/or anyone that appears to be an out-of-corp alt for a target or potential target (that's neutral pilots following you or hanging around on gates looking suspicious).
Your best tool is the local channel. Squash it width-wise, and extend it out length-wise on your screen - you usually don't care about what's said in local as much as you care about the list of people in there.
Be aware that the symbols (red minuses etc) will sometimes not show up in the local list. Ideally, you need to be checking info on pilots in local as you travel. A quick hint: Don't use the right-click drop-down for "show info", as the "start conversation" option is right next door. Instead, double-click people in local - it goes to info by default and is less risky.
Often you'll be asked to jump into a system and check what's there. Typically this will be jump in, move and cloak, and work your way through the people in local noting down any who are potential targets. Then report back the number of targets and whether you can actually see any or not (ie. are they all on the gate you just came through waiting ;) Typically, if there's anything of interest you'll then be asked to try and track them down - get eyes on them. That's a mix of jumping around the stations, and probing - covered elsewhere in this doc.
When you're looking through local, double-click on each member of local (if you can), and check their info. Typically you're looking at their sec status, their standing, their corp and/or alliance. You may also check their bio to see if they look like an idiot, and/or their employment history to check how old they are and whether they've recently left a war target corp. Any of this information will to toward your estimate of whether they're a threat or not.
Directional Scanner and Overview
Remember your directional scanner - it should be open and you should be using it when you come into a system if you think there may be bad guys near the gate but not on grid. Pulsing the directional scanner is a good habit to get into anyway.
On overview, you're looking for enemies nearby, particularly flashy reds. You're also looking for cyno fields - they'll show up anywhere in the system, and are a high priority to check out.
Scanning down the opponent
If you can fit an extended probe launcher, then it's well worth getting some practice at using probes. The Apocrypha scanning system makes one particular type of probing well worthwhile. It goes something like this:
- Warp to a safe spot, decloak and launch 4 probes. Cloak up again.
- Warp back to where you want to keep some eyes on. Be sure you're still cloaked - I've had issues with being decloaked as I warp off after launching probes.
- Hit F10, switch all your probes down to 0.5AU, and move them to a nice neat small circle around whatever you're monitoring - typically a gate or station.
The goal here is to provide enough scan strength in 0.5AU around the location to find any ships that have warped off-grid nearby. With half-decent skills, you should get a fix on anything cruiser and up pretty much straight away. So, you just keep hitting the scan button every so often. If you get a hit on something just away from your location, bookmark it, and warp to it at 100. You can then scope out the area, see if it's a worthwhile target, maybe get a warp-in point - all hopefully without your enemy knowing.
Note, this also works for bookmarking people's insta-undocks, and their safe spots around gates. That also means that if you're helping an uncloaked fleet around, be aware that even just off-grid they may be visible to enemy scouts now. Also, be aware that your probes show up on people's ship scanners, so if they suspect you're out there, they may pop their ship scanner, see your probes, and run.
There's an excellent guide to scanning generally at http://forum.eveuniversity.org/viewtopic.php?t=15856 There's also a wiki page on Scanning & Probing
Be aware that if you're doing this, anyone clever (anyone using their ship scanners) will notice the probes and high-tail it out quickly. But if you can catch their warp-in or warp-out points, it may help you track them down next time they warp through the area.
Probing like this may also be a distraction - I've had fleet commanders that specifically ask for the scout to probe down targets for them, and I've had fleet commanders that would rather keep you on the move, so it will depend on the type of fleet, purpose of fleet, and whim of the FC as to whether this is a serious part of your duties. It's worth getting some practice in on, imnsho, as it does get asked for, and some FC's will assume you are capable of doing this.
Quick small note - if you're looking for a POS, remember that POSes must be on-grid with moons, so if you stay cloaked and warp from moon to moon, you may find POSes faster than if you try and scan for them (they'll show up in overview when you warp in) - assuming there's not too many moons in system. Beware of warping into the POS, though.
When you try to probe down a ship, the ship ID you see on the probing interface stays the same for each ship within each system but changes with the system and after downtime (as well as repackaging the ship). E.g. Ubercado's Ibis has the ID ABC-123 in Aldrat and the ID FF-42 in Eygfe (even after docking or jumping out and in again); After downtime the IDs will change. So a common tactic is to get the ship ID when a target is at a known location (like undocking from a station) and then have an easier way to find that ID in open space (like in a mission area). Making a list with the ship IDs of your targets in each system helps when hunting WTs that keep flying around.
You'll sometimes be asked by your FC to try and get a warp-in point on a target. This basically means staying cloaked, and maneuvering into a position that's a warp-in distance away from the target (ie. a number that appears on the "warp to at..." drop-down) and also in-line with somewhere the fleet can be. In other words, you ideally want something like this:
Fleet ------- Target -- You
Where the fleet is some distance away, out of sight, and you're about 50-100Km away on the other side of the target. Distance from enemy is at your discretion, you ideally want it to match up with the warp-in distances so the fleet can drop directly on top of the enemy (or at appropriate range - that bit's up to the FC to organise ). You don't want the fleet to have to warp through the target, is the only note here, as that gives the target time to see them and run.
This is one of the trickier things to do, mainly because the target will often keep moving. One tip, if the target's warping in and out: Note the distance to the target, note your move speed, and double-click right near them to move toward them. If they warp out, keep moving - time yourself to try and position roughly where you want to be (remembering it's better to be too far away, than right on top of their warp-in point, otherwise they may decloak you). Drop lots of bookmarks while doing this, you can always go clean them up later, and they mean you can warp out and back and resume where you left off.
If you do find an enemies' safe spot, or a warp-in point for a popular location for an enemy, make sure you've bookmarked it - they're valuable so long as the enemy doesn't realise you've got it.
One other small note on this: If you're scouting for a sniper-heavy fleet, you may actually sit between the target and the fleet - the idea is if you're 30Km from the target toward the fleet, the fleet can then warp to you at 50Km and they're perfect sniping distance away. Depends a lot on the situation though, and not likely to be done in a Uni fleet.
Punting is one of the terms used for a scout to warp his unit (e.g. wing warp) directly to the probing solution.
The Punter has be in a ship with an expanded probe launcher and needs a probing solution.
Unit warp (aka Punt)
As a Punter you will initiate a unit warp command (e.g. "warp wing"), so you need to be the commander of a unit (SC/WC/FC). You will only warp your unit (squad, wing, fleet). To issue a unit warp command, you need to be in a warpable distance to the target. This means you have to be at least 150 km away from the target. Only those of your unit that are in warpable distance to the target themselve will be warped by your unit warp, so they need to be at least 150 km away from the target as well. Only those of your unit members that are on grid with you will get the unit warp command. They must have broken their gate cloak.
You should announce the punt including the distance before you initiate the unit warp command so those that do not want to get punted can abort that command (ctrl + space).
Usually the Punter will abort the warp command himself so he does not land on the target with his unit. Make sure to not be aligned to the target when you do not want to get warped.
Checklist for Punting
- Punter is a unit leader in a fleet
- Punter on grid with unit
- Punter as well as unit > 150 km away from the target
- Unit broke gate cloak
- Unit informed of Punting beforehand
Tips on Punting
- Make sure to always cancel your warp (default CTRL + SPACE) once you punt. You do not want to land at zero on a target.
- Add Control Towers to your ship filter (in the scanner menu). This will give you an indication whether the target might be inside a POS shield. If you do not do this, you might punt your whole unit in a POS shield where it dies a horrible death.
- Quite often a punter will initiate two punts: The first punt will unit warp to zero to the target, the second punt will be at range (e.g. 50km). This will allow snipers, Ewar, Logistics and such to stay out of harms way. You should announce your intention for multiple punts before so people can prepare to abort the first punt if they want to land at range. Some may even want to abort the 2nd punt as well and warp in later at their preferred distance. It's often useful for only fast frigates and interceptors to take the first punt at zero to avoid slower fleet warps with larger ships that may alert the target to an incoming fleet.
- As a lot of targets check Dscan regularly, it helps to move in your probes into the Dscan range of the target as late as possible. For example, if you intend to probe down a potential target, drop your probes at a location off d-scan range with the target. Quickly move your probes high above or well below the ecliptic plane and initiate scan. This will move your probes outside of all celestial d-scan range and give you valuable time to locate your target. Once you have a general location for the target from d-scan, prepare your fleet for punting and position your probes in the area you've located the target with the smallest scan range that effectively covers your targets estimated position. Have your fleet align towards the nearest celestial as you initiate scan. Give a countdown for the punt, and when the scan is finished quickly select your target and fleet/wing/squad warp for the punt. Give a second punt if required and quickly recall your probes or position them off d-scan as before.
- Some ships are nearly impossible to scan down, e.g. some boosting T3 or ECCM'ed Guardians which have a low signature radius. Do not plan to punt your unit onto these targets, you will most likely not get a probing solution.
- When the targets are kiting, Punting is of limited use unless you have long range or fast tackle or enough snipers. Even when your probes are on grid and your unit is ready to warp, you need a couple of seconds for your probes to get a solution and your unit needs a couple of seconds in warp. This is usually enough time for kiters to move 30 km or so away. One solution to kiting is to place the fleet members (wing or squad) that will be punted in-front of the kiting ship at a relatively close off-grid tactical. If the punt is fast enough and at range, there is a chance for tacklers to land just in-front of the kiting ship and potentially land a scram and web. This works best if the kiting ship still has other fleet members on-grid masking your intentions to intercept. NOTE: This is difficult and takes practice and cunning, if done incorrectly the scout may land some very vulnerable ships within perfect sniping range of the kiting target.
- If you are combat probing, it sometimes helps to get a scan on your fleet first and ignore your fleet's results in your probing window. Note that the ship IDs change with the system so you need to do this for every system at least once. Repackaging a ship changes the ID of the ships as well. This will help to not confuse your fleet member's ships with the target's.
- If you want to punt regularly it helps to have at least Leadership 5 to pass bonuses to your squad.
- Punting is a good tactic vs. snipers and stationary targets. Punting is not so good vs. small targets as you will have a hard time getting a probing solution on those. Punting is also not great vs. fast moving targets as they are out of their initial warp to point once your unit lands. Plan accordingly.
- In big fleet fights it can be nice to have a punt squad ready. It is very good vs. snipers and Falcons. In long fleet fights (POS bashes) it is not unlikely for people to disconnect. They will automatically warp to a random point within 1.000.000 km so they are within the 0.5 AU of your probes. Even though they might get their ship replaced by CCP when they loose it to a disconnect, it takes a ship out of the fight when a fast punt squad kills that ship.
Freedom and Rules
There is some personal style that comes in here, as scouting can be a freer role than some others in fleet - personal judgements need to be made about what you're watching when. However, two things are important: If the FC tells you to be somewhere, get there, and if you see something that needs investigating and move off your last instruction, clearly inform the FC you're about to do that. The FC cannot make good decisions on faulty intel, make sure they understand the environment around them as best you can - that includes making sure they're not assuming you're somewhere you're not.
I've personally found a combination of both command channel on TS and a text chat channel in game provides a good balance - if your FC + WCs + other scouts are in a text chat channel, low priority notes can go there without interrupting voice chat. I've also had a few fleets where the scouts have setup a channel amongst themselves only, to discuss where they are and what's happening - that can also be useful, think of it as squad chat for scouts.
Well, that's pretty much it for now. Best thing to do is get out there in your scout ship and practice, set up bookmarks around gates and stations in your common hunting areas, and don't be afraid to volunteer to scout for fleets as they setup - everyone loves an extra scout.
- Scanning down your bait ship or own fleet. It happens to the best of us starting out - always pay attention to the starmap and where your fleet is, and where other celestials are, when you're probing. In my case, our fleet had positioned a bait battlecruiser at the gate just inside a system while I was trying to probe down an enemy. I found a sig, narrowed down on it, getting progressively more excited, until I got a bookmark and warped in to find it was one of our fleet - the baitship.
- Lost probes. Probes when launched last around an hour. It's very easy to forget this in the heat of scanning, and suddenly your probes are leaving the system one by one, and you find yourself having to uncloak and reload. Particularly painful if you have sisters probes at 1M ISK per probe.
- Warp and don't move. Always, always move when you hit the end of your warp. Otherwise, someone else will warp in on top of you.
- Location, location, location. While leading a fleet, if you have no bookmarks and the fleet is hot on your heels, do not warp to 100 on the next gate. Sure, it gives you a decent view of the gate, but you've then got to either slowboat the 100Km (approximately 3 and a half minutes), or bounce out and back (much faster, but still not fast enough to beat the fleet).
A short list of all the things linked to from this page:
- Varius Arcturus' Overview Guide
- Ombey's maps
- The Altruist guide on bookmarking
- scanning and probing forum thread
- Scanning & Probing
- Goons grid-fu manual