Archive:Ratting at NSC

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Killing pirate NPCs, or ratting as it is also called, is a way to earn ISK in New Eden. At the NSC it is mainly done in asteroid belts or in combat sites. While you face off against NPCs in the same manner as in missions, it is not considered the same; see Syndicate Mission Running for for more information about running missions at the NSC.

Since combat sites can be found by probing, ratting shares a small overlap with exploration, and ratters can benefit greatly by having a ship capable of scanning down signatures.

Why rat at the NSC?

Hunting and killing pirate NPCs (known as "rats") at asteroid belts or in combat sites is just one of many ways to earn ISK in EVE. Since the majority of ISK is gotten through loot drop, and since loot is dropped at random, the reward for ratting is rather irregular. Some days you can be lucky and get hundreds of millions or even billions worth of loot (if you are very lucky), and other days you will only get the standard bounty from the rats and the from salvage.

Still, this is a easy way to earn ISK, and the requirements for doing basic ratting can be very low.

Ratting can also be a source of minerals for small-scale industry. Large meta modules, such as those dropped by NPC battleships, can be reprocessed for decent quantities of minerals which may be hard to obtain in nullsec. For many modules, the reprocessed value is higher than the buy value of the module.

Types of ratting at the NSC

At the NSC there there are mainly two types of ratting:

  1. Clearing asteroid belts in a system
  2. Hunting down and completing combat sites

Combat sites can further be split into combat anomalies and combat signatures. More on these below.

Advantages of belt ratting:

  • Generally easier
  • Done in the same system, not so much traveling around

Advantages of combat sites:

  • Generally better ISK per tick
  • More variety in the PvE

While abyssal combat sites are also technically combat sites and can be done at the NSC, they have very different rules and are outside this article's scope.

Belt Ratting

The asteroid belts in system 5-DSFH. Clear them from top to bottom, from bottom to top, or whatever other order you want to use.
Short guide to chaining belts.

Belt ratting is the act of going from asteroid belt to asteroid belt, killing the pirate NPC ships that are found there, and then going on to the next asteroid belt and doing the same there. This is done to collect the bounty on the ships, as well as trying to get rare spawns and rare loot.

Picking a system

There are several factors to bear in mind when selecting a system for belt ratting.

Security Level

Ratting in asteroid belts is greatly affected by the "true-sec" of the system. Both the size of the bounties and the chance of rare spawns are affected by this, with lower true-sec giving better bounties and higher chance of rare spawns. One factor in choosing a system rat in is therefore the system's true-sec.

At the NSC, 5-DSFH is the best system to belt-rat in in true-sec terms. 5-D is also deep in the NSC pocket, and, as such, is slightly safer to be in if you pay attention to intel channels.

A complicating factor, however, is the game's bounty mechanic...

Dynamic Bounty System

Bounty payouts in a system are affected by the Dynamic Bounty System. Player deaths in a system increase that system's Bounty Risk Modifier, which acts as a multiplier on the base bounty rate for NPC kills in that system. NPC kills slowly cause that modifier to fall. Over time, the modifier will drift towards a equilibrium rate.

At NSC, PC9-AY typically has the highest Bounty Risk Modifier, due to it being the entrance to the NSC pocket, and (therefore) the site of most PvP engagements. Other systems in the pocket tend to hover around the equilibrium rate, or slightly lower. This means that the basic bounty payment for a rat will probably be higher in PC9, though the chances of rare and valuable rats are higher in 5-D. Pilots can weigh up consistently higher basic payments against a higher chance of good spawns.

Belt Counts

Rats in asteroid belts respawn after about 20 minutes, so you also want a system with enough belts.

Systems such as AK-QBU and T22-QI, which tend to have fewer belts, aren't as good as systems such as PC9-AY or 5-DSFH, which have more belts.

What to expect

The pirate faction encountered at the NSC is the Serpentis. They commonly deal Thermal and Kinetic damage, and have lower resists against Kinetic and Thermal damage. Expect to face sensor damping from Serpentis Guardian-type cruisers and battlecruisers. This can reduce your targeting distance drastically: depending on your sensor skills a group all damping can get you to 5,000m or less. Some Serpentis rats, usually frigates, also scram. Kill these first to ensure you can move to safety if hostiles enter the system.

You can expect to find battlecruisers as the most common enemy in most systems, with battleships being quite common as well, and destroyers used to "fill in" groups with battleships. Each system will have a few static group spawn types that are the most common, and you will rapidly learn which groups you can expect to see.

Rare spawns will sometimes be their own kind of spawn group, but can also occur when an elite spawn replaces a normal ship in a typical group (see below; or, for example, a Shadow Serpentis battleship replacing one of the two high admirals in a group of two high admirals and two destroyers). Elite spawns may widen their bag of tricks beyond damping to webbing, warp scramming, and other EWAR types.

Belt ratting is safest done in cruiser hulls, which can avoid damage from the battleship rats using their relatively small size and speed, but can also muster enough DPS. The commonest T1 cruiser used for ratting at NSC is the Vexor, and the campus often has some ratting Vexors fitted out for new characters available on affordable contracts.

Clearing vs. Chaining the Belts

Should you kill all rats in a belt and clear it completely or should you "chain" the belt? Chaining refers to killing battleships but not the other rats in the same spawn, prompting more battleships to appear. Chaining the belts gives more ISK over time, though it might not generate as much ISK in a short ratting session.

When you partly destroy a group of NPC rats and then leave the belt, the whole group will respawn. This means that you can keep killing battleships over and over for their high bounty. Kill only the rat battleships and leave the smaller ships. If there is a spawn without battleships, kill all of the rats to "re-roll" the spawn for battleships. This will make it so that all asteroid belts will contain the battleship rat groups and these can keep being exploited.

This also means that the special rats, like Shadow Serpentis ships, can't spawn, but it will still give more ISK over time.

Rare Spawns

Several types of rare and valuable rat can spawn in NSC pocket systems.

Faction Spawns: Shadow Serpentis

These are elite versions of the normal rats with the prefix "Shadow" in front of their name. These ships are slightly harder to kill, but have a much bigger bounty and can drop Shadow Serpentis faction modules. These can also spawn in combat anomalies.

Capital Spawns: Serpentis Dreadnoughts

Dreadnoughts and Shadow Serpentis Dreadnoughts are capital pirate ships. If you warp to a belt and see a dreadnought there, you should warp out immediately! These ships are very powerful. If you linger on grid with one, it will probably destroy you.

Once you have escaped, report the presence of a dreadnought, including system, planet and belt numbers, in the chat channel for the NCS standing fleet (which you should be part of!) and ideally also on Mumble if you have a microphone.

The NSC uses Dread Vexors to kill NPC Dreadnoughts, in a specific tactic which other members will be able to explain to you. If you can't fly a Dread Vexor, you can still help, because one player needs to use their pod to provide a warp-in for the fleet (NPC rats will not fire on pods).

Killing a rat dreadnought can be lucrative:

  • Serpentis Dreadnought: 60,000,000 ISK bounty
  • Shadow Serpentis Dreadnought: 120,000,000 ISK bounty

These can also spawn in combat anomalies.

NPC Hauler Spawns

There are NPC freighters that can spawn in belts. These ships can drop more than 100,000,000 ISK in ores, and you want a hauler docked nearby so that you can loot the ores. If you lack a hauler, ask for assistance on comms. Remember to bookmark the wreck when you switch into your hauler.

NPC hauler spawns are not the same as the NPC mining fleets.

NPC Mining Fleets

Main article: NPC Mining Operations

The NPC mining fleets are NPC mining ships and industrial haulers that operate in the asteroid belts. When attacked, they will warp off and call in a response fleet to attack whoever aggressed them.

The miners and haulers can then be scanned down with combat probes and killed. The response fleet uses advanced A.I. tactics, such as dedicated logi ships to heal incoming damage. The loot is gotten from the haulers, and the response fleet gives no loot of their own.

While these fleets can be killed solo (usually in T3D), they are best undertaken in a small fleet. If you are solo ratting, the best thing to do is often just to ignore them.

Combat Sites

Main article: Guide to combat sites
Main article: Combat sites
The scanner window, with a combat Anomaly and a combat signature halfway scanned down.

At the NSC, either in addition or instead of ratting in belts, you can also complete combat sites. These sites can be divided into anomalies, signatures, escalations and static complexes.

  • Cosmic anomalies:
    • Visible in probe window without scanner
    • The easiest of the bunch
    • Low chance to either spawn Shadow Serpentis faction rats or Dreadnought capital rats (like in belts)
    • Can escalate into DED sites or Expeditions
  • Cosmic signatures:
    • Can either be gotten as an escalation from clearing an combat anomaly, or be found in system (where it needs to be scanned down with probes)
    • Unrated Complexes have moderate chances for faction spawn and low chance to escalate into a new combat site
    • DED combat sites have guaranteed faction spawns that can drop DED modules and can under some circumstances escalate into a new DED site
  • Expeditions:
    • Escalates from anomalies and unrated signatures
    • And as such cannot be found, but must be gotten from other combat sites
    • They usually consist of many parts, and expeditions can escalation into new expeditions in new systems

The system security (not true-sec) determines the level of the sites that spawn, while the region determines what pirate faction sites spawn. Since the NSC is located in Syndicate, we get Serpentis pirate spawns, with the occasional rogue drones combat sites as well.

At the NSC, there is the possibility of 22 different versions of combat anomalies to spawn. Ranging from Class 4, level 2 sites (Serpentis Hidden Den), to the Class 10 site (Serpentis Sanctum).

Serpentis combat anomalies are usually worth your time doing, while the rogue drone combat sites are generally of questionable worth.

Unrated combat sites, DED combat sites and Expeditions are generally more challenging and need preparations or to be done in a group, but also offer higher rewards. It is important to know that, while higher classes of combat anomalies mean harder combat, the difficulty of Unrated Complexes, DED Complexes or Expeditions does not 100% correlate with their class. CCP haven't been great at balancing these combat sites, so look any site up online before tackling it for the first time.

Tips

Combat anomalies consist of one ungated pocket, with some rats already there and more spawning in waves when previous ships get destroyed. To avoid being overrun, you should look up the wave trigger, and kill that ship last.

Once you enter a combat anomaly, burn away from the warp-in and make sure that you don't fly directly towards the rats, as this makes you far to easy to kill. Once you are a bit away form the warp-in, drop down a Mobile Tractor Unit(MTU) and orbit it at about 20 km. The reason to get away from the warp-in, is so you aren't too close to it if hostile players warps to it. The MTU is not a must, but it makes looting and salvaging wrecks far easier. Just remember to bookmark it in case you have to run.

Combat signatures and Expeditions are far more varied, and therefor harder to advise on in general terms. They usually consists of a couple of gated deadspace pockets. This means that hostile players cannot warp directly to you, but have to scan you down and take the gates to reach you. This makes you far harder to catch while running, but remember to keep an eye on intel.

The higher difficulty of combat sites means that you want better ships than for belt ratting. Consider flying more advanced ships such as the Gila or Praxis. Talk to other NSC members: some are experienced site runners and can offer good advice on fits and ships; they might also be able to walk you through some practical site runs.

Staying safe from other players

The NSC is located in null security space and players can therefore kill other players without repercussions. Ships used for PvE are often expensive, and hunting these ships can be a fun and sometimes even lucrative endeavor for players (NSC members can try their hand at hunting other corporation's PvE ships!). It is therefore vital for anyone ratting at the NSC to stay safe.

It is possible to rat and run sites safely in nullsec, especially when supported by NSC's intel systems, but you must be rigorous, and on occasion willing to pause what you're doing.

Nullsec, unlike highsec, has the great virtue that threats are obvious: any player not in or allied with EVE University—any "neutral" or "neut" as they're called locally—is a potential threat. As a general rule, if you are in PvE combat and any neutral pilot enters the system, you should abandon what you're doing and move to a structure or an NPC station.

Even a safespot bookmark is better than nothing, and gives you a moment to pause and plan your next move. Remember that ships at safe spots can be located and warped-to by scanning them down with combat probes: a safe spot is a step towards safety, but is not 100% safe. If you are at a safe spot and see probes on your D-Scan, it is high time to dock up. Nothing in system to dock up at? Begin bouncing between multiple safe spots.

Nsc mission 9.png


By responding like this immediately on finding a neutral in-system, you safeguard your (possibly expensively-fitted) PvE ship. Docking in a station or structure means that if you want to, you can also reship to a PvP ship and prepare to enjoy Content. If a potentially-hostile pilot is in system, do not wait for them to appear on grid with you or on the directional scanner (cloaked ships and Combat Recons won't show up there anyway). Safeguard your ship at once.

Safety Precautions

There are a number of particular precautions a member of the NSC should take to increase their chances of survival greatly:

  • Be in fleet
    • Fleet members can warp to any other fleet member's location. Being in fleet makes it much easier for help to get to you quickly.
  • Be in the intel channel, and have it open and visible.
    • All members of the NSC report in this channel on any neutral pilots they see in or approaching NSC's pocket. The intel channel can offer you vital minutes or seconds of warning
  • Keep an eye on Local chat to see if neutral or hostile player enters your system.
    • Local is an excellent warning system, and if possibly-hostile pilots slip past Intel, you will learn about them when they enter the system and appear in Local's member list. Safeguard your ship immediately on seeing a neutral in Local.
    • Many pilots find it useful to run Local vertically at one side of their screen so they can see a maximum-length member list and spot new people entering it.
    • If you select the member list and press ctrl-A, you'll select all pilots currently in system. Any new pilots entering will then be obvious, as they will not be highlighted.
  • Be on Mumble in the general NSC channel.
    • Being on Mumble makes it much easier for you to call for help quickly and clearly.
  • Be aware of the geopolitical and warfare situation. If there's a structure under assault in the system or another major combat op happening, you can easily find yourself a helpless target of opportunity to a war fleet.
  • Once you enter a combat site or an asteroid belt, burn away from the warp-in point. The distance a hunter has to travel from the warp-in point to you can sometimes save you.
  • Create and use multiple safespot bookmarks in each system where you do PvE.
  • Within the limitations of the piloting necessary to avoid excessive damage from rats (don't burn directly at NPC battleships), fight aligned or near-aligned to a celestial to which you can warp out at the first sign of trouble.
    • Try not to use gates as your warp-out points. Hostiles might be at them if they've just entered systems.

The idea is to be in fleet, in the Intel channel, watching Local, and on comms, so that you can be warned in advance if there are hostile players in the neighboring systems. Plus, by reporting any neutral pilots you see in Local yourself to Intel, you can help out your fellow NSC members.

If you get caught

If one or more hostile ships land on grid while you're ratting, and you are unable to escape before being tackled, try to stay calm. There are still things you can do.

Being in fleet and on comms also allows you to call for help if you should be caught.

  • Calmly and clearly call out for help on mumble and in fleet chat. Observe good protocol, call "Break, Break" or "Check, Check" and (ideally) frame your message like this:
    • Refer to your character in the third person, or say "This is [character name]," so people know who their warp-in is. If you have multiple characters at NSC, make sure you're naming the right one.
    • Say where you are, what ship caught you, and what ship you're flying.
    • Give the system, or its common short form, and the belt name and number, so help can quickly warp to you.
    • If you are in fleet your fleetmates can use the "warp to member" command, which is one excellent reason to be in the standing fleet at all times.
    • An idealized message might go something like "Break, break. A hostile Stiletto has pointed Uryence's Vexor at PC9 Planet 8 Belt 5, please help. Nothing else is on grid. Your warp-in is Uryence, U-R-Y, at PC9 belt 8-5."
  • Stay aligned, so that you can warp off if the hunter loses their point or scram.
  • Attack the hunter with any weapons on your ship and any drones you have. You may drive them off, and at the very least giving them something to worry about may save your pod by forcing them to pay attention to their own modules and piloting rather than hovering their cursor over the lock target button for the moment when your pod is targetable.
  • Overheat your modules to wring more performance out of them; if you survive, you can always repair them for free at one of the NSC player-owned structures. Your order of priority for overheating is:
    1. Your propulsion module, if it's not scrammed: this will increase your chance of shaking the enemy's tackle off.
    2. Your defensive modules: overheating these will help you tank more damage, increasing the time for help to arrive. Active hardeners can be overheated, as well as armor repairers and shield boosters.
    3. Your offensive modules: putting more DPS on the enemy will heighten their combat stress, making them more likely to make mistakes. With luck you might even present a threat to them!
    • Many modules overheating at once might risk burning out something important... but if in doubt and working in your own combat stress, just overheat everything! Worrying about repairs can come after you survive.
  • If there is help coming, wait for it and update if the situation changes.
  • Thank your rescuer(s)! Or, if things went south, thank your avengers.

Hopefully, you didn't lose your ship. Stay docked and wait for the intel on when the hunter leaves the pocket or is defeated. Combat situation permitting, if you have appropriate PvP ships ready, then you can consider undocking to join the response.

These precautions dramatically cut the chances of you losing your ship. They do not eliminate all risks: the most paranoid pilot can be undone by a sudden distraction outside of the game, for instance. Ultimately, any ship in EVE has a limited lifespan. In these situations, it is important to review what happened and see what you have learned, so that you can do better next time.

Preparing your ship

The NSC is located in Serpentis space, and the rats you will face while ratting are Serpentis NPCs and sometimes rogue drones. This makes it easy to prepare both the tank of your ship, as well as the type of damage you should deal.

The type of ships used for ratting at the NSC range from beginner ships like the Algos or the Vexor, to intermediate ships like the Gila or the Praxis, and up to very strong ships like the Ishtar or Tengu, and even the Rattlesnake.
These ships are mostly "drone boats", that sometimes have secondary weapons as well. The reason for this is the versatility that drones brings to PvE. Other popular weapon against Serpentis rats are missiles and hybrid turrets. You want to avoid weapon types like Laser turrets and projectile turrets for PvE at the NSC, their damage type aren't great against the weakness of Serpentis ships.

Below you will find a table with what kind for damage your ship should deal out, and what your ship should resist:

Faction Damage to deal Damage to resist Electronic Warfare
Serpentis Kinetic / Thermal Thermal (55%) / Kinetic (45%) Sensor Dampener
Rogue Drones EM/Thermal (varies)

As you see, against Serpentis rats, you should deal kinetic damage, and needs to tank both thermal and kinetic damage. Against rogue drones, it can vary a bit more, but you can just avoid rogue drone combat sites if you are unsure.

No matter what you fly in and how you fit it, you want to pilot the ship correctly. Never to fly directly towards NPC battleships, as this makes you far too easy to hit, and boosts their chance of dealing critical hits. In combat anomalies, drop down your mobile tractor unit and orbit it at about 20 km. In belts and combat signatures, manually steer your ship so that you can approach the rats to the side. You might find the tactical overlay useful. Practicing good basic manual piloting around rats is a good ground-level introduction for skills useful in PvP.