Safety Tips for Operating in Low Sec
Most players start their EVE careers in high security space (high-sec). They learn the basics of flying and fitting ships as well as how to fight NPCs effectively. However, at some point every capsuleer will venture into low security space (low-sec). Maybe they are going because an agent has given them a mission. Maybe they have been seduced by the short cuts offered between areas of high-sec. Maybe they have read about the vast amounts of isk that can be made by doing Planetary Interaction in low-sec. Whatever the reason, most first timers in low-sec are quickly spotted by player pirates and blown up. This leaves many players with the impression that low-sec is very dangerous and they assume anyone who goes there just wants to have their ship blown up. They swear never to return.
To a certain extent, they are right. Low-sec is dangerous and you will lose ships there. However, low-sec is not nearly as dangerous as most player’s initial experience leads them to believe. In high-sec, CONCORD protects players from each other. Therefore, players whose experience is limited to high-sec have developed a mindset that allows them to ignore other players. Further, many of the features of the game that are popular in high-sec will lead to a quick and fiery death in low-sec. A change of mindset is required to operate in low-sec safely. This guide is your first step to learning that new mindset.
Leave your shiny ships in high-sec (for now)
In many ways, operating in low-sec is like going hiking in a remote wilderness full of predators. Flying billion isk faction battle ships in low-sec is like hanging a huge piece of raw meat around your neck. Start with small (and cheap) ships and work your way up. The predators will still attack you from time to time, but there is no reason to attract every pirate within 10 jumps.
Basically, never fly anything you cannot afford to lose.
Replace routine with seeking opportunities
In high-sec, players tend to decide on some activity to pursue such as mining and then conduct it in the relative comfort and safety of CONCORD protection. In low-sec, it is more fruitful to assess your circumstance before taking action, adopting a risk management mindset where you weight your potential gain against the loss of your time/ship/implants.
There is safety in numbers. Remember, pirates will generally only attack when they think they can win. A bunch of friends will tend to scare away most of the small pirate gangs. Just be careful though, if your fleet is too large or too shiny, the big pirate fleets will become interested in you.
Also, you can save yourself (and your fleet) from a huge amount of trouble by having a ship scouting ahead of you. Cheap T1 fast frigates can do this fairly well, but T2 Covert Ops ships are best.
Have an escape plan at all times
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You should always have an “out” planned in your head before you need it. What this plan will be is determined by what you are doing and where you are doing it (i.e. mining vs. hauling vs. mission running vs. pirate hunting). Taking 5 seconds to pre-plan your escape route will get you out of more trouble than anything else in this guide.
Never use your Auto Pilot to fly anywhere for any reason
Your auto pilot will warp you to a point 15km away from your target (Station or Gate) then slow boat you to the target. During that time, any pirate at the station/gate will probably kill you. Even if you were at your computer, the time it takes to align to a new destination and accelerate to warp will usually prove fatal.
There is no rule six
Never go AFK in space
This should be obvious. Never leave your computer while you are in space, always dock up. The only possible exception to this is if you are using a cloaking device, but even then it is not a good idea.
Never warp to 0 when destination is unknown
If you are going to rescue a friend, you want to warp to your weapons optimal range. If you are going to an asteroid belt or similar location, you want to warp in a long way off (60km+ at least) so you can see what is waiting there for you before you are close enough to engage. If you are losing a fight and warp away, any half skilled pirate will be able to figure out where you have gone and warp after you. They will warp to 0 hoping to catch you. The only time you might want to warp to 0 is when you are warping to a gate or docking at a station so you can jump/dock right away. Be careful, though, when warping to a gate -- a properly positioned and fit battleship can use smart bombs to kill small ships (like frigates) as they warp in. This can happen often in the areas of low sec that act as short cuts from from one part of high sec to another. If you are not sure that the gate you are jumping to is safe, warp to it at a far distance (or a tactical bookmark: see next tip) and check it out first. If it is clear, warp to somewhere else then back to the gate at 0 and jump.
Have good bookmarks in any low sec system you frequent
Whenever you enter a new low sec system and are planning to stay longer than it takes to get to the next gate, or you are planning travel through the system frequently create at least a minimal set of bookmarks. You should always have the following bookmarked in any system you frequent. Tactical bookmarks (or off-grid observation bookmarks if you know how use the d-scan) for every gate and station. A minimum of three (five is better) safe locations that are near nothing and are not in a direct line between any two other things in the system. An instant undock bookmark for each station you use. If you are planning on doing Planetary Interaction in the system, you will need tactical bookmarks for the customs offices that you use. If you planning to mine or kill belt rats, you should have tactical bookmarks on all the asteroid belts.
Read the Bookmarks article for more information about the different types of bookmarks and how to create and use them.
Always fight aligned when ratting or mining
When you doing anything that requires you to stay in one place for more than a few seconds (eg ratting or mining), there is always the chance that a player pirate will find you and warp in on you. Remember, the bigger your ship the longer it takes to align and warp out. You should always be ready to warp out at the first hint of danger. It is not always necessary to run away, but you should ALWAYS be ready to.
Use your Directional Scanner
There is a special art to using the Directional Scanner (d-scan) to hunt people that takes time and a lot of practice to master. It requires almost no skill, however, to use the d-scan to see if you are in danger. Simply set the angle to 360 and distance to maximum. Click the scan button every few seconds. If you see a ship appear in the d-scan that you don’t know, be ready to have a visitor. If you see Combat Scanner Probes, then someone is looking for you, be ready to have a visitor. If you are in an exploration site and you see Core Scanner Probes someone is looking for exploration sites, be ready to have a visitor.
Although the information above is useful for keeping you safe, the d-scan is an important tool for any low sec pilot to master, especially if they plan to hunt pirates. Please read the Directional Scanner Guide to learn more about the ins and outs of using the d-scan like a pro.
Watch local closely
Always, always, always have your local chat window open and tall enough to see all players in the local system. Whenever someone enters the system, they will appear in the list. Right click on their name and “show info” on them. You are looking for two pieces of information: their security status and corporation/alliance. If their security status is -5.0 or less, you should assume they are going to attack you (if they find you and think they can win the fight). If their security status is higher than -5.0, they might attack you so it is safest to assume they will until you know the area better. If you spend enough time in same area of low sec, you will soon learn the local players and corporations and how they will react to your being in the system. From that, you will have better idea of who to watch out for and when someone new is in the area.
Always fit your ship to handle PVP
This is one of the most difficult subjects to describe to players new to PVP. The difficulty stems from the fact that while every ship can be fitted for PVP, the best PVP fit for each ship will be different based on specific skills of the character, the play style of the player and what you are doing with your ship. Here are some basic principles that will help guide in fitting your ship to handle PVP, but remember there always exceptions to every rule, even these.
Capacitor is Life
If your capacitor is drained to zero, active defensive modules will be turned off as well as most weapon systems. In short, if you run out of capacitor during a fight, you are going to lose the ship. Be very aware of how much capacitor your ship has with its modules on and plan accordingly.
Use a propulsion module (i.e. afterburner or micro warp drive)
These will give you the speed to maneuver, dictate range and run away during a fight. Remember, however, that these modules use a lot of capacitor, so use them sparingly.
You should always try to use a Damage Control Module (unless you know you don't need one)
These will give you resists to your hull as well as boost your resists on Armor and Shields. Many of the smaller ships (frigates, destroyers, and some cruisers) with few mid or low slots, will often have a Damage Control as their only “tank” module.
These require a Low slot in your fit and sometimes your ship benefits more by using that slot for something else. As a general rule, you should use one until you know enough about PvP ship fitting to know you don't need one.
Use the right tank for your ship
One of the most tricky things that you can do when fitting a ship is getting your tank correct. It is also one of the most debated subjects in the area of "proper" ship fitting. Many ships benefit most from passive buffer tanks. Some ships give bonuses to active repair modules so may be better suited to the active tank. Other ships are best fitted with speed tanks that use only modules that affect agility and top speed to avoid damage. Read these articles on ship tanking to get a feel for the philosophy of ship tanking-then do what will work best for your ship with your skills.
Never rely on someone else’s fit.
You can get PVP fits from the Internet, other players, even blogs and wikis. While these can be useful to study, always remember they are tailored to the pilot who created them and will probably not work for you without modification.
If you are in E-Uni, you can always get help in the chat channels and Mumble.
Never go GCC by a gate or station while in a small ship
If you attack a neutral player (anyone with a security status higher than -5 and that your corporation is not at war with) you will be tagged as a criminal for 15 minutes. Everyone will be able to attack you without repercussions. If you are within 150k of a gate or station, the sentry guns will open fire on you. Small ships (frigates, destroyers, most cruisers) will evaporate under those guns in seconds.
Always have the Auto Target Back feature turned off
The auto target back feature is one that seems like a good idea but, in practice, is a very bad one. You should always manually lock your targets, so you always know exactly what you have targeted. Often times, pirates will target you to try and get you to fire on them first. If you have auto target back turned on, you are much more likely to do this accidently. Further, the auto target back will work on any ship that targets you, including friends. In the middle of a battle, you don’t want to kill a friendly support ship that locks you in order to use their “helper” modules (remote repair, remote sensor boosters, energy transfers, etc…).
To turn this off:
- Press the escape key to bring up the Options window
- Select the "General Settings" tab
- In the middle column near the bottom, set the "Auto Target Back" entry to "0 targets"