Ninja Salvaging and Stealing
The term "ninja salvaging" is used to describe the act of following unsuspecting people around, salvaging (and sometimes looting) their wrecks without knowledge or consent for your own profit. This is commonly done against mission runners in high security space. While game mechanics allow anybody to salvage a wreck without being flagged as a suspect, doing so is still considered theft by a significant portion of the EVE community.
Stealing, or "ninja looting", is taking items from a wreck without permission. This act requires you to have yellow safeties (partial) or red safeties (turned off) and will flag you as a suspect. With green safeties (full) you will simply not be able to take loot from someone else's can or wreck. While some people do steal things for the sole purpose of selling their spoils, this is more often done mainly for the purpose of becoming a suspect in an attempt to lure you into shooting them so they can shoot back without CONCORD interfering.
Related game mechanics
This article assumes you know the basics of the following game mechanics.
- Basic knowledge of timers and what they do (especially the suspect and limited engagement timer).
- The basics of salvaging and looting.
How ninja salvaging/looting works
A rough outline of the process of ninja salvaging/looting:
- The capsuleer looks for suitable targets running level 4 missions and gets a warp-in on one using combat scanner probes, often pre-scouted with the directional scanner to limit the time they have probes out in space (to minimize the risk of the mission runner spotting the probes).
- The capsuleer warps into the mission pocket in a fast and expendable ship (the Vigil, for example).
- If the capsuleer just wants to profit from salvage with no risk, he will simply salvage the wrecks while keeping an eye on you.
- Otherwise the capsuleer will loot the wrecks (and thus gain the suspect timer) to flag themself as a valid target to the mission-runner, often accompanied by taunts in local or through a private conversation in order to try to goad the mission-runner into engaging them. Stealing critical mission loot to this end, or to simply extort the mission-runner is also an option.
- If the mission-runner engages he or she will flag themself (through the limited engagement timer) allowing the capsuleer to hit them right back, which they often do right away or after having swapped to a more suitable combat ship. This is usually easy for the capsuleer, since they can take note of the rat type in the mission, the ship you're flying etc and make sure that they have all the right counters to easily defeat you.
- The capsuleer then scoops any valuable loot and possibly screencaps any mission-runner tears in local for posterity, possibly making a note of their name if they were exceptionally profitable, so they can revisit them in the future.
Some corporations or groups of players have taken ninja salvage and stealing to the next level. They form fleets of ships which move into a system, scan for missioners and then jump into the mission deadspace pocket for each missioner and ninja salvage or loot. The effect is similar to locust moving through the plains, in that it causes mass-grief for all missioners in the system. These fleets usually move on or get bored, so this activity is very rare.
How to avoid being griefed
There are several ways to both avoid and limit the threat or efficiency of ninja salvagers/looters. They are all based on either denying them wrecks or to make it more trouble than it's worth to grief you. Here are, in no particular order, some ways to achieve this:
Most missions are "gated" behind acceleration gates, meaning the ninja salvager/looter must come through the gate before actually being on grid with you. By setting your directional scanner to at least 100 - 200 000 km range and continuously hitting scan, you can get advanced warning before anyone actually comes ongrid with you. This will give you enough time to either warp out, kill the wrecks or take any other appropriate action.
The range of your directional scanner can be increased for more advanced warning (you can often increase it to 1 AU without problems), but the further out you scan, the more likely you'll start getting hits of things that aren't necessarily coming towards your pocket. You can easily adjust the range on the fly to suit your needs.
Simply ignore them
This is the most frustrating option, but it's also the safest. If you refuse to respond to a ninja salvager or looter, they can't attack you without being destroyed by CONCORD. The worst that will happen is that you will lose the loot and salvage for that mission, but you'll still get the mission reward, the Loyalty Points and bounties.
Since many ninja salvagers and looters are motivated by the potential of easy, consequence-free PvP in highsec, valuable loot from your ship and amusing tears from you in local, refusing to respond will probably bore them into finding someone else to pick on. If you're unlucky you'll have met a capsuleer who's doing it solely for profit, and in that case not responding may encourage them to repeatedly salvage your missions. If that is the case, see #shoot your wrecks below.
Bring a friend
Besides providing excellent social content, bringing along a fellow corporation member or out of corp friend to help salvage and loot will not only dissuade the ninja salvagers and looters, it (strength in numbers) might also make them think twice before trying to play suspect games.
Shoot your wrecks
Blowing up your own wrecks can sometimes be a valid strategy to stop a ninja salvager, since it effectively denies them any spoils. With no wrecks to salvage, they might decide to simply leave you alone (if their goal is to profit from ninja salvaging).
While this, especially combined with ignoring them, can be a strong statement that you're not worth bothering, it is possible that the ninja salvager might take this as an opportunity to turn ninja looter, or simply decide to put more effort into griefing you.
Leave the site
Warp out of the site and leave them to it. By warping out, any remaining NPC rats will switch to attacking the ninja salvager. Normally this isn't much use as any half-awake player will notice that you've gone and realise what's going to happen, but just like shooting wrecks, it will require more effort for the ninja salvager and they might leave you alone in favour of easier prey.
In some missions with well-defined orders of waves which are triggered when you destroy particular ships in previous waves (like The Blockade and Gone Berserk) you have a slightly better chance to get them killed, because you can stimulate the arrival of more rats. Especially if you can spawn a wave of warp scrambling frigates on them.
In order to avoid getting caught by the new wave, you'll need to plan accordingly:
- Identify a trigger ship.
- Check that no rats are tackling you.
- Align to a celestial so that you're ready to warp near-instantly.
- Blow up the trigger ship.
- Immediately warp out.
Provided you pre-aligned you should warp out instantly, meaning the next wave won't have a chance to lock you, so if it has warp scramblers they won't be able to pin you down but go for any remaining ships in the pocket, which would be the ninja salvager. This obviously works best against inexperienced ninjas without a firm grasp of game mechanics.
Some missions have a complex combination of warp-in, trigger and proximity aggro (some rooms in Worlds Collide, for example) and it's possible for them to be attacked by rats in these. These missions are harder to control than ones which consist of sequentially triggered waves.
Move to a different area
Perhaps not the best or most efficient way if you're already in an isolated area, far from normal mission and trade hubs. But if you're missioning close to trade hubs, close to common mission hubs where a lot of other people run missions, moving can easily lessen the risk of being visited by ninja salvagers/looters.
The reason for this is that a lot of them gravitate towards heavily populated areas, as more people missioning means more people to grief and more profit to be made.
Fly less obvious missioning ships
Certain ships will draw more attention than others. Flying Marauders, Strategic Cruisers or any of the pirate faction battleships will paint more of a target on you than flying something else. Since these ships are also the most effectively ones, this will obviously limit or lessen the effectiveness of your missioning fit, so perhaps not always a good choice, but a choice nonetheless.
Use less expensive faction/deadspace modules
It's not uncommon for griefers to ship scan mission runners, especially if they are more interested in trying to goad you into taking a fight. If you've fit expensive faction or deadspace modules, you can easily become a highly valuable target both for suspect-baiting ... or worse, if you're putting way too much bling on your ships, suicide gankers.
To lessen this, simply consider just how much ISK you're throwing at you ship in order to make it run faster. Find a good balance between efficiency and overblinging, so as not to be too much of a loot piñata, as that will inevitably make you far more likely to be griefed.
EVE University doesn't have any official procedures for responding to ninja looters, but in general you can assume the ninja looter is both prepared and willing to fight you back. In most cases, you will be at a severe disadvantage, no matter how things may seem at first glance.
That said, sometimes you will face an inexperienced ninja looter, or you're simply feeling adventurous that day wanting to see if you can outplay them.
If you do decide to engage them, remember this:
- Be prepared to lose whatever ship(s) you put at risk, and be prepared for unpleasant surprises.
- Seriously consider changing to a properly PvP-fit ship before engaging, as they are most likely more than prepared to deal with your mission-running ship, plus you might want to jump into a cheaper ship if you're flying expensive fits or hulls.
- Just because the character is new doesn't mean it's a new player behind the controls. Especially after the introduction of skill injectors, a brand new character can easily surprise you with both player and ingame skills far beyond what you might expect.
- They can easily have friends on standby, ready to back them up in case you engage.
- Out of corp friends or alts in remote repairing ships (they'll go suspect too, but that won't stop them from repping).
- Out of corp Orca pilots nearby for quick reshipping or refitting.
So even if you decide to engage them on your own, it is recommended that you at the very least warp out and get a PvP ship. This means a ship which you can afford to lose, with a purposeful PvP-fit.