A Modest Guide to Hunting
For those of us who enjoy the life of highsec wardecs, let’s call our occupation what it is. Most of the time this isn’t the kind of combat that most people would consider “PVP”. After all, the other guy never stood a chance. We aren’t out there space jousting or gate camping (well, a few people are sitting on trade hubs/routes waiting for targets to come to them, but I have some degree of disdain for such gameplay in highsec and as I’m the author here, I have the privilege to dismiss it out of hand) or engaging in noble sov-deciding battles with hundreds of identically-fitted ships. We’re hunting prey for sport. Never mind that our prey is human.
So you’ve read Monk’s article on selecting a good war target, the war’s about to go live, and you’re sitting there asking yourself “now what?” Well, hopefully this will get you started. I’m going to avoid “advanced” stuff like using neutral logi and boosters; however, I will also assume you know how to fight, how to use d-scan and scan probes, and that you have a friend or an alt in a neutral corp to provide scouting and scanning (I strongly suggest a covert ops pilot for this). This is about how to go from being hunted to being a semi-competent hunter. I’m new to this whole guide-writing thing, so I fully expect to miss some things. If I left something out or got something wrong, feel free to let me know.
Fly Your Ship
I’m not going to tell you what to fly into combat. In the Skunkworks, “fly your ship” means don’t ask us what to bring, just bring what you’re comfortable in that will do the job at hand. That said, here are some considerations:
- Some of your prey will be active tanked. If you don’t bring neuts or enough firepower to overcome that tank, you’ll end up in a rather embarrassing situation where they can’t leave and you can’t kill them.
- If you don’t bring reps, sooner or later you’ll regret it. Some of these carebear-looking corps have a lot of fight in them, and you could end up in a situation where they can take all the time they need to burn you down. Local or remote, just have some way of staying in the fight if it gets bigger than you expected.
- You’re going to be doing a lot of ganking on gates as they move from place to place. Long points are crucial here, as a scram will leave you out of range of two thirds of the gate’s spawn area. Webs will do a lot toward keeping them from being able to flee back to the gate they came through.
You’re choosing the timing on the wardec. There’s no reason you can’t be ready to go the moment the war goes live. Get your scout(s) near where they like to hang out. Move any ships you want to have available to a nearby system. Map routes from the system(s) you know they operate out of to various trade hubs so you know what routes they’re most likely to take. Use Dotlan’s maps to help you there.
Build a watch list. Don’t know how? Open your in-game browser and go to Evewho or eve-tools. Search for the corp or alliance you’re about to go to war with and you’ll get a reasonably-recent list of members. With Evewho, click the asterisk next to each name and you’ll get the character information window. Eve-tools lets you simply click the name. Add them as a contact from there and add them to your watch list. Now you know which targets are available for hunting in real time.
The advanced mode: Keep your neutral contact list empty. When you add a list, set each target to neutral. Once you’ve built the list, create a label for the group, apply it to the entire list (CTRL+A to select all). Now set your targets to bad or terrible standings as you see fit, clearing out your neutral list for the next set of targets. Add the target corps/alliances as contacts for any scouts so you can easily spot them in local.
There’s nothing like good intel.
- Infiltrate them. This is the holy grail of conducting a war. If you can get an alt in their corp, you can maintain a perfect watch list and use the map’s “corp members in space” option to get locations on any targets currently in space (warning: this information is not updated quickly, and should not be considered 100% accurate).
- Use scouts. At the very minimum, have one scout that can run a system or two ahead of you to look for war targets. Remember to set the target corp/alliance to red on your alt so you can spot them in local.
- Locator agents are your friends. If you can’t use locators yourself, the Locates Are Us channel is quite useful: for 5 million isk, someone with access to them can run a search for you. If you have the necessary standings, you can use Eve-Agents to find locators near you. When running a locate, always ensure the target is online (see watch list) and still in corp. If you’re a successful hunter, it doesn’t take long before the sheep scatter back into NPC corps, and you don’t want to waste time and money checking out people you can’t shoot.
- Check their killboard regularly. This might show you information you couldn’t get elsewhere, such as PVP roams, wormhole operations, and possible destinations.
Subtlety is hard for those out for blood. They want to smash down the gates and slaughter everything inside. But that often costs you more kills that it gains you.
- Be careful with your alts. Once a scout is identified, it becomes a lot harder to find targets. Don’t risk exposing that alt to bump a retriever out of aligning; save it for a more interesting kill. Also, don’t log multiple accounts in and out at the same time. That NPC corp member that moved into the system a week ago and always seems to log in ten minutes before you arrive? Yeah, that gets suspicious. I log some of my alts in at times when I can’t actually play the game, just to establish them as being on a completely different time frame than I am.
- Camping someone in a station is a waste of time. In 18 months of highsec warfare, I’ve had maybe five kills from hanging on the undock of a station hoping that guy will make a run for it. It’s a recipe for wasted time, and for clever wartargets it’s a good way to keep you occupied while the rest of the corp goes about its business. If they play docking games or just sit in the station for more than five minutes, move on.
- Don’t ever, ever, EVER log out or idle in the wartarget’s home system(s) or on trade lanes. This can ruin hunting opportunities for your corpmates and spook your targets into docking if you log in and they’re in system. Instead, get out of view a few jumps out of the way where they won’t notice you unless they specifically go looking for you. Unless they live in Jita, you won’t have to go but 3 or 4 jumps to find a quiet system where they won’t stumble across you as you plot your next move.
- If you’ve got a target running missions and they’re two rooms into the deadspace, don’t try to go in. Be patient and get in the system you think they’ll go to next. If you jump into system and have to make three warp jumps to get to them, that’s probably a full minute for them to see you, align, and warp to a safe, station, or gate. Exception: As you get to know the habits of your targets, you might find that the only time to get them is at the end of their normal game time. Go ahead and make a run at them if you’re reasonably certain you won’t get another shot.
A Day in the Life
So, let’s put it all together, based on some of my own recent experiences. You’ve declared war on someone, built a watch list, and moved your gear in place. They live in a level 4 mission station with an ice belt in the next system. They’ve got a 6-jump pipe to Amarr and you’re sitting a jump off that pipeline in a rookie system with your scout 1 jump out from you so you are alerted to their presence. You’ve just had someone run locates on 4 members; three of them are in space in the ice belt system and one is docked in their “home” system, which you’ll have to pass through.
Leading with your scout, you proceed to the the home system. Your scout docks to confirm that target is still there while you sit on the gate one jump back. You go ahead and take your scout to the next system. You hit the ice belt first, and find two of them mining in Mackinaws. The third is nowhere to be seen.
Now comes the decision: you’ve got to charge through their home system and hope the one that is docked up is afk. You jump and warp immediately to the next gate, jumping on contact. You then warp to 0 on the ice belt, finding both the mackinaws still mining. You point the one that starts aligning first and start shooting the other, approaching it to give it a bump before it can align. You kill it, then turn and kill the other. There’s still that third guy in system, though. On a whim, you warp back to the gate to their home system. Sure enough, you land just in time to see Target #3 jump through in a Myrmidon. You follow and tackle him before he can get away from the gate.
It doesn’t always go like this. Some days you get nothing; all your targets are offline or docked up or 35 jumps away and you just can’t be bothered to go that far to hunt down what is most likely a T1 cruiser. Some days your targets are paying attention and you miss every shot you take, landing on grid just in time to see them warp away. And there’s the rare occasion where you’re the prey, when they show up with a fleet of 15 whatever-they-had-in-the-hangar and either kill you, or push you off the field. But then there are days where you roll from target to take, killing everything you go after and provoking them into putting together a fleet to come after you. We endure the slow times and the blue balls for those epic fights and glorious trophy kills. We are, after all, hunters.