It’s probably not often that the same player has not one but two of zKillboard’s six most valuable kills for a given week – solo. Yet that was the accomplishment enjoyed by Ataryx between 1 and 3 February, following his ganks of a 31b Nomad on 27 January and a 25b Anshar on 1 February. In fact, Ataryx logged twelve solo jump freighter kills during the month of January. For this installment of INN’s semi-regular “Awful Loss of the Day” series, Ataryx took a break from his busy schedule of drinking pubbie tears to join INN for an interview, portions of which have been edited for clarity.
INN: How long have you been ganking jump freighters, and how did you start?
Ataryx: About three years I’ve been hunting JFs. How I started – it’s funny. I was just having fun, and hit my JF alt, and killed it. So I tried to do it with other players – and it worked! I gave up gate-camping to hunt JFs, and after a few fails, I got my first JF kill. She was empty, but I got epic heart beating. It was a really big risk, and a lot of fun. And sometimes there’s a lot of good loot.
INN: What are some of the most valuable kills you can remember?
Ataryx: I think this [215b Anshar] is one of my biggest. But this was my first really fat JF. It dropped two Marshals and I sold them for 150b. The guy was crying two days, wanted to get his loot back.
INN: Do you ever feel bad when people cry like that?
Ataryx: I just ignore them.
INN: Do you remember any fights that were especially satisfying or especially dangerous?
Ataryx: There was this one, when people tried to kill me, but I lit a cyno too. About dangerous…any JF can be bait, and every jump is dangerous. About 3-4 times every week or two someone tries to bait me. I have one fun killmail; wormhole boys tried to tackle me, I jumped; they undocked a Heavy Interdictor Cruiser. I killed the bait JF and warped out. I think the HIC got lag, or panicked; he couldn’t tackle me.
INN: How can you tell which jump freighters are worth trying to kill?
Ataryx: I just try all of them. I only kill one out of every ten or fifteen of what I try. Everyone knows how to fly in low-sec now; the three-year JF pain train did their job. [Editor’s note: Asharyx is referring to player Tiky Mikk, who camped out in low-sec space and perfected the art of ganking jump freighters as they undocked to warp to the gate into high-sec.]
INN: Thanks so much for talking with me.
Ataryx: No problem. You’re only the first one I’m talking to. Soon everyone will know me.
Jump freighters are juicy targets for gankers, for several reasons:
- They’re expensive (around 10b apiece typically), and the cargo they haul is frequently worth several times that amount.
- They’re also unarmed. JFs have no high or mid slots or rigs; all they have are three low slots. The obvious choice for those low slots, the Expanded Cargohold module, carries with it an EHP penalty. In other words, the more your JF can carry, the weaker it will be.
- Because JFs have no high slots, they can’t light a cyno; there is zero risk of a JF pilot hot-dropping enemy dreadnoughts or supercarriers onto you.
- Since they cannot cyno into high-security space, most JFs will cyno into a low-sec system that borders high-sec and then take the gate; this predictability makes them comparatively easy to find.
However, as Ataryx pointed out, this juiciness makes them ideal bait; with EHP-increasing modules in the low slots, I was able to get a Rhea jump freighter over 600,000 EHP (compared with a base of 400,000, and just 286,000 with three EHP-reducing Cargohold Expanders). This is still not a lot, but it is vastly sturdier than a Rhea built for hauling cargo, and it might enable my Rhea to hold out against an enemy supercarrier long enough for that super be tackled and destroyed. Even if the bait ship were lost, it’s a 10b value, compared with a 20b-25b value for a PvP-fit super; the baiters may still break even or come out on top depending how generous the loot fairy is feeling that day.
Flying a jump freighter is dangerous business, and players who buy one should educate themselves about how to fly it properly, what dangers to look out for, and how to make oneself (reasonably) safe from ganking. If not… well, Ataryx may just find you.