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In EVE, the combination of directional scanning, rapid entry to warp for many ships, and (in some types of space) Local chat and secure neutral stations makes it easy to avoid fights. Baiting is one way to convince opponents to commit to a fight, generating content but avoiding the hassle of hunting someone down.

Baiting involves sending out a bait ship (or bait fleet) ahead of the main fleet. The bait must seem an easy or at least plausible kill, lure an attacker into combat, and then hold the engagement long enough for the rest of the fleet to arrive. Because Local chat displays the presence of all active pilots in-system in most types of space, the rest of the fleet is usually located in a different system.

Baiting does not have to be a group activity: a solo pilot can also bait as a way of generating solo PvP. This entails looking like an easy target (a ratter, miner, mission-runner, explorer, or oblivious traveller) while actually fitting for combat. Solo baiting can be particularly effective if a larger ship such as a cruiser or battlecruiser baits smaller ships such as assault frigates and interceptors, which can be especially vulnerable to surprise webs and energy neutralizers.

E-UNI Emblem.png Caveat: this article is about baiting legitimate targets within EVE University's rules of engagement. It is not about hi-sec "griefer" baiting, in which a pilot seeks to trick another into taking an aggressive action, so that the victim can be ganked without CONCORD intervention. University members are not allowed to engage in this type of baiting using their University characters.

Choosing a bait ship

The most important question to consider is "What does the bait ship offer the attacker"? Some attackers are happy with any killmail, regardless of whether it's a shuttle or a T2 black ops battleship fitted with officer modules. Others hope to gank particularly valuable ships (for the impressive killmails), or to loot valuable cargo or equipment.

It is also worth thinking about the context: what type of space will you be baiting in, and what could your bait ship plausibly be doing there? An exploration hull works well as bait in systems where there is an exploration event generating lucrative hacking or relic sites, and in some types of wormhole, for instance. A transport ship or a battleship hull associated with PvE combat (e.g. the Raven) might plausibly be travelling through a lowsec short-cut that shaves 10 jumps off a journey between two hisec destinations.

In every case, the goal of the bait ship is to look like an easy kill. Cheaper ships which are known for having a high tank-to-gank ratio generally make poor bait, as they are unlikely to be a quick kill and their frequent use as bait makes them more obvious. The Maller or Drake, for instance, are relatively cheap for their size, have high effective hit points ("EHP"), and are often used as bait. These ships will often either scare attackers off, or encourage them to set up a counter-trap; they are better suited to starting more-or-less consensual fights.

In contrast, a mining ship or hauler that has been fitted to maximise its tank can be quite effective, because the attacker won't realise how many EHP they need to get through until after he has engaged. Make sure that the bait ship you select could plausibly be killed by the type of enemy you wish to fight.

Fitting bait

Your bait ship must be able to do two things:

  • Tackle a target, or even multiple targets
  • Tank damage until the fleet arrives to back it up

With that in mind you need a substantial tank, as well as one warp scrambler or disruptor at a very minimum. If the bait ship is likely to be slower than or only as fast as its potential attackers, warp scramblers rather than disruptors can be a good idea, as they can shut a ship's MWD down and leave it far slower; webs can be useful for the same reason. Both scrams and webs, however, will need enemies to come quite close.

Bait ships are typically buffer tanked. An armour tank is often an advantage, as it frees up mid slots for tackle and utility. Some ships with many mid slots—such as the Badger—can fit a little tackle and a decent shield tank which will benefit from shields' innate passive recharge rate.

Depending on the slots, powergrid and CPU available once a good tank and viable tackle have been fitted, you can also consider other useful aspects of a fit:

  • Energy neutralizers, to disrupt enemy ships and limit incoming DPS from capacitor-dependant ships.
    • These will suit larger bait ships (heavy neuts are lethal to most frigates), and will increase the load on your own capacitor, possibly requiring a capacitor booster.
  • Energy nosferatus, to sustain your capacitor (and therefore your tackle and any active hardeners helping your tank) under enemy neut pressure.
  • EWAR modules and/or ECM drones to limit incoming DPS.

Setting the bait

"People looking for killmails are the best target audience."

Azual Skoll, Agony Unleashed

You've found an area that might have hostile pilots. You've chosen your bait ship. Now you just need a bite.

The first rule of baiting is: try not to look like bait.

If you're hanging around where you don't really belong, doing nothing in particular, then hostiles are going to suspect you're bait. This has a few disadvantages:

  • Foes might try to scout out the rest of the fleet.
  • Foes might try to gather their own fleet, to ensure a kill.
  • Foes might decide it's not worth the risk.

This sort of baiting can still work. Enemy pilots might be overconfident, spoiling for a fight, or just figure it's worth the risk. They might assume you're overconfident, or spoiling for a fight, or just a bit dim.

However, if you can make your presence look like an accident, or if you're doing some sort of legitimate PvE activity such as ratting or mining, then foes are less likely to be cautious. For even better results, you can add some time pressure, such as a vulnerable ship dropping out of warp and crawling to the gate (on "autopilot"), or a heavy ship wandering into a gate camp and quickly trying to warp off. If opponents feels that they must attack now before a juicy target gets away, they're more likely to make a hasty decision.

The location at which you bait the enemy is also very important if you need to make a quick getaway, if you/your FC decide that the enemy fleet is too strong for your fleet to take on. Slowboating to a stargate from 15km, or getting into a gatecamp can be very convincing, but can be a certain deathtrap if backup does not arrive soon. On the flip side, baiting on zero at a stargate, or station is very safe, but it is much less convincing to an enemy fleet. Ideally, you will use some combination of intel, scouting, and your own directional scanning to assess the enemy fleet first, before you bait.

Springing the trap

You found a juicy enemy fleet that is ripe for your to destroy, and they just took your bait!

  • Don't panic. By being attacked, you have achieved an important objective. Your fleet will arrive soon.
  • Overheat any active components of your tank (e.g. shield or armour hardeners) to increase your EHP.
    • Keep an eye on heat damage, and be prepared to turn the heat off rather than burning these out.
  • Get tackle on the most expensive stuff first.
  • Call in Mumble that you have been engaged, and give the opposing fleet comp, if not already known.
    • Refer to your character in the third person, to help allies remember who their warp-in is.
  • X-up in fleet, so that members have an easy character link to warp to.
  • Watch as your fleet tears apart the enemy fleet (hopefully).

Your fleet can't handle the enemy?

  • You are most likely dead, but...
  • Start burning away from the enemy, and try to kill or neut out any fast tackle that come.
  • Get your podsaver tab ready

Further Reading

  • Timers: Details about aggression timers, which are fundamental to baiting near gates or stations.
  • Intelligence & Counter-Intelligence: Azual Skoll on manipulating intel and picking fights. Though game mechanics have changed since this was written, the principles remain useful.