What is a safe spot?
A safe spot is a location in space away from any celestials that pilots warp to for purposes of evading hostiles or hiding their valuables (emergency jetcans of ammo, etc). It is important that safe spots not be located at or immediately near any celestials as hostiles can readily warp to those locations, and they can easily travel thousands of kilometers to reach pilots. Therefore, good safe spots are at least a few hundred thousand KM from any celestial, but are generally much farther away.
Since it is possible to occasionally see a ship sitting at a safe spot while warping around a system, safe spots need to be away from any travel path between any two celestials in the system.
Never warp to a moon for a safe spot.
Moons often have POS's, and in nullsec or lowsec they tend to be set to attack anyone they don't know. Warping to moons can easily get your ship destroyed, either by POS modules or by hostiles sitting there. Planets tend to be safer than moons, but a good hostile fleet will warp to a planet before anywhere else when trying to find you.
If warping near a celestial, always warp to 70-100 KM, never warp to 0.
Warping to a celestial at 0 KM in order to evade is a fast way to lose a ship. Hostiles will probably guess that you will be warping to 0 KM, and will likewise do the same. Some hostiles who are in fast ships may try warping to 30 KM or 50 KM, but the best bet is still that they will warp to 0 in search of you (unless they know you will warp to a different distance). Warping to 100 KM in a battleship may just give you enough time to avoid being tackled by a hostile interceptor that warped to 0 KM, which could save your ship.
How to use a safe spot
Safe spots are generally static bookmarks to empty locations in space. To be effective, it works best to have multiple safe spots per system, as hostiles can scan down a ship in 30 seconds or less. As such, it may be necessary to warp between safe spots in order to actually remain safe. A pilot who sits at a safe spot (uncloaked) for more than 30 seconds runs the risk of being located. Any safe spots used in evading hostiles should be deleted once the threat has passed, as hostiles will sometimes bookmark your safe spots and be ready to engage you there in the future.
In general, if you can identify a celestial nearest your safe spot, you should remain aligned to that celestial in case you need to warp to the SS. Once you have determined that it is time to warp out, warp to your safe spot, and align to your next target, whether it be another SS or back into combat. There's really nothing more to using a static SS than that.
Rolling safe spots
A rolling safe spot is a safe spot, designated by the fleet commander, to which a fast ship like an interceptor will warp to, and the rest of the fleet will follow. The fast ship will then burn at max speed in some random direction, and the rest of the fleet will follow. When the fast ship exceeds 150 KM (minimum warp range) from any pilot in the rolling safe spot, that pilot will warp to the fast ship, and continue trying to follow. This process is repeated as long as necessary.
This system works reasonably well because it takes a good scanner about 30 seconds to lock onto a player ship. During that 30 seconds, it is quite likely that the fast ship can travel more than the 150 KM necessary for fleet members to engage warp. Also, scanning down moving objects is more difficult than stationary objects. This system is not as ideal for larger ships, like battleships, since they are so much slower, but it can still be effective if the fast ship is fast enough, and the battleship is properly following (staying aligned).
Rolling safe spots are sometimes used by fleet commanders to provide some safety for all or a subset of a fleet's pilots to avoid hostiles. This is useful because it will probably be the case that not everyone in the fleet will have safe spots in a remote system. With this system, only a couple pilots need to have safe spot bookmarks, and the fleet can alternate between fast pilot rolling safe spots as necessary. Therefore, this is a good method for getting a fleet safe when in enemy territory.
Dual-Converging-Rolling safe spots
In fleets with two or more fast-ships to spare (A & B), a possible strategy is for each fast ship to head to a different safe spot, and, when in position, align to the next fast-ship (A->B, B->X, ... X->A). Each fast ship then burns at max. The fleet-mates can then warp to each safe spot, align to the next one, and warp when ready. Each time, the warp-in is new, but very distant from the last time. Also, since the fleet is always aligned to a moving safe spot.
(NOTE: Safe spots must be chosen such that they are sufficiently far away and so actual convergence is not a possibility in the time available, at least several AU.)
This tactic, though more complicated, can lessen risk since a) as a rolling safe, it's much harder to find, b) if found, it's likely that only a portion of the fleet is at the located point, c) the fleet always has a new safe spot aligned and ready to punch. Therefore, hot-drop risk is lessened even further from the rolling-safe. In this manner, even the slow ships can always warp to safety.
This is probably suited most to a withdraw-regroup tactic than a battle-staging tactic, but it might be sufficiently confusing on scanners to disorient a defensive scout.
How to create a static safe spot
Static SS bookmarks are created by building two bookmarks, one randomly along a line between two distant celestials, followed by a bookmark between that first bookmark and another celestial.
The figure shows an example solar system with four celestials: S(un), C(elestial)1, C2, and C3. Each of these objects can serve as a warp destination. To get a good feel for the layout and distances of your current solar system, use the F11 navigation panel. To build a safe spot, follow this process:
- Warp from C1 to C2, setting Bookmark 1 somewhere between the two (or in multiple locations);
- Warp from C2 to Bookmark 1;
- Warp from Bookmark 1 to C3, setting Safe Spot 1 bookmark along the way (or in multiple locations).
You now have a static safe spot bookmark (Safe Spot 1). Setting multiple bookmarks along the route from Bookmark 1 to C3 is useful because they are along the same vector. Assuming that you also created Safe Spot 2 and Safe Spot 3 directly after setting Safe Spot 1, then when arriving at Safe Spot 1 you need only align to C3 and you will be able to warp instantly to Safe Spot 2. The same holds for the trip from Safe Spot 2 to Safe Spot 3. This is called safe spot chaining.
The main reason for using an indirect bookmark for a safe spot is that pilots can often find you if you are parked directly between two celestials. The persistent enemy pilot can even track the exact spot after much effort (or luck). Therefore, good bookmarks are in open space that is not along the route from any two celestials in the system.
Keep in mind that you can use this process to create safe spots along many different vectors, among any three celestials.
Another easy method to creating safe spots is to use any available opportunity to create bookmarks:
- Run out of cap to make a long trip between gates? Bookmark it! You can even drain your cap to force this situation to occur.
- Found a gravimetric/ladar/magnetometric/wormhole/other site? Bookmark it! Those sites will despawn soon enough.
- Running an anomaly? Bookmark it!
- Someone in your fleet currently in warp? Warp to him, find yourself at an intermediate point where he was, and bookmark it!
- Logged back on in space at 1M KM from your last location? Bookmark it!
Perhaps the best bookmarks I have found so far are from scanning down fighters. Occasionally, a carrier pilot will be disconnected, or accidentally activate a cloak, while his fighters are out, and will lose control of those fighters. For some reason, fighters then like to warp off in random directions, and to great distances. In the process of scanning down lost fighters, I routinely find a fighter well outside of the outermost ring of the solar system, sometimes 40AU or farther from the nearest celestial. These are fantastic bookmarks.
The Tyrannis expansion eliminated the previous best safe spots called Poseidon bookmarks (not discussed here since they are no longer possible). Presently, the farthest location in any solar system at which you can create a bookmark is along a path from the central star, up to 20AU farther than the longest distance between the sun and any celestial. Essentially, if r is the distance from the central star to the farthest celestial (radius), then the farthest bookmark can be up to r + 20 AU from the sun. It's difficult to make any safe spots this far out anyway, so it's not too much of an issue.