Among the Stars: Hauling Dangerously

2015-11-12

Eve is complex. Really complex. And to a new player, almost mind bogglingly so. When you come from other MMOs, where the primary source of equipment is killing something for it and looting the corpse, it seems impossible that the market is primarily made up of items that another player built. Ships, modules, rigs, ammunition, even implants can all be built by someone with the proper skills and the drive to do so. The thing most players forget, especially when they start, is that most of these items weren’t built in the trade hub they were listed in. Someone had to bring them there, in some cases from a long way off in lawless space. This article is about how to safely move your cargo into and out of empire, particularly through lower security areas.

Credit goes to capsuleer Pokealot for asking for a dangerous space hauling guide. May your Prowler always prowl in safety!

The Why

Eve is all about the risk/reward ratio. Low and nullsec activities can make you a lot of ISK, or give you a place to lose it all. Highsec will yield much smaller amounts, but the chance of losing a ship is very slim to anything but bad decisions. So too with all the goods on the market. Everything sells for higher prices deep in NPC Null or Low Sec space due to the higher loss rate. How can you put that to work for you as a budding industrialist? Simple: find a need in dangerous space, and fill it. Lowsec guys always want faction ammunition, and you can sell it for a lot more there than in Jita; no one wants to go 25 jumps just to reload. Null dwellers are always willing to pay more than Jita price for a taxi Interceptor to run through bubbles on their way home after a fight went badly.

Find the niche, fill it and profit. What niche specifically is for you to sort out. This guide will tell you how to get your goods there in as safe a way as possible.

Industrials in Space: Hauling with Attitude

This section covers the most nervous activity I have ever done: taking an industrial into lawless space. First, some background. I am assuming that you are only using one account for your hauling. Scout alts are nice, so you can stay ahead of your expensive cargo ship and see what’s on the other side of the next gate, but not necessary. I do it solo all the time with very few losses. I’ll also assume you have trained up a racial industrial to IV, and are working toward (or have) transport ships, the T2 industrial. Those come in two varieties.

Deep Space Transports:

They haul more cargo, and have better tank than anything else outside of a freighter. They also need it, because they are some of the slowest ships in space. The only saving grace is they have +2 warp core strength built in, and can use a Micro Jump Drive to jump 100km away from their position, hopefully evading tackle.

Blockade Runners:

These have slightly less cargo capacity than T1 industrial ships, but are much faster, and can use the Covert Ops Cloaking Device. This handy module lets them warp while cloaked. Very hard to catch, blockade runners are the workhorses of dangerous hauling. Catching one, even in a bubble, is extremely difficult.

For a lot of hauling, the expense of a Transport isn’t necessary. A short run into lowsec is easily accomplished with a T1 Industrial, and its loss will be much easier on the wallet. I prefer the inertia-bonused haulers, such as the Minmatar Wreathe, because the shorter align times are worth the lower cargo capacity to me. A second spent aligning can be the difference between a story to tell, and a story with a lossmail.

Fittings are up to personal choice, but I place emphasis on speed and buffer in mine, and always fit a Damage Control — a large part of an industrial’s tank is in hull hitpoints. The other mandatory item is an Improved Cloaking Device II, for its use with getting into warp faster; among other things. A Prototype Cloaking Device will work, but not as well; more on that later.

I also fit a 50MN Microwarpdrive, so you have the option to crash back to the gate and jump to your last system while any aggressor is stuck on the other side with a weapon timer. The last part of the fitting puzzle is whether to fit Warp Core Stabilizers or Cargo Expanders. WCS give you 1 point of warp core strength each, which will nullify a regular Warp Disruptor. Two WCS will prevent a Warp Scrambler from stopping your warp, but it will still disable your Microwarpdrive. Cargo Expanders give you a percentage bonus to cargo space, but decrease your hull hitpoints greatly. And since an Industrial uses hull as a buffer, they are an anti-tanking module which will speed your demise if caught. My usual fit includes a Damage Control II, 2 WCS, and any other low slots go to Inertial Stabilizers, Warp Speed Accelerators, or Expanded Cargoholds if you really need them. I also don’t armor tank, since speed and fast alignment are what keeps you safe in hostile space, and armor slows you down if you fit for buffer.

Lowsec: Inglourious Bustards

So now you’re loaded with cargo to sell in your selected market, you have a well-fit Industrial, and are sitting on the highsec side of a gate leading to orange systems on your route planner. You checked the map to make sure there weren’t a bunch of ships killed in the last hour on your route, and are off the peak time for the local’s timezone. The nerves start as you jump, and when you load grid, you see… Nothing.

Truth be told, most of low sec has nothing on the gate. Gate guns hit hard, and most low sec players won’t shoot at you on a gate unless they can tank forever, or kill you in one shot. In particular, watch out for Talos and Tornado Battlecruisers, as they can splatter your hull across a stargate in one hit. The other major threat is frigates fit with faction Warp Scramblers. They can have enough points to lock you down, and have a fast enough lock time to get a lock before you get into warp. Otherwise, its relatively safe.

Your best friend is the directional scanner, or dscan. When you jump into system, hold your gate cloak (the blue triangle in a circle timer in the top left), and do a max range 360° scan. If you have nothing on it, and your system isn’t too full of people, warp to zero to the next gate, and while en-route, click your dscan down to 15°, put your destination gate in the middle of the screen, and scan all the way to the gate. It will show any ships at your destination, and give you some planning time. If there is a ship there, either jump, or hit Ctrl+Space to stop your ship before you do. I only stop my jump if I see the enemy ship use the gate before I do. Then I slam the brakes on, get to the nearest station, and grab a beverage to aid future decisions. If you jump, fight down the adrenaline and get ready to run.

The MWD + Cloak trick is your friend

However it happened, you just came through a gate, and someone is there. Your gate cloak is holding, so you evaluate your options, their location and/or orbit, and the neighborhood. You decide to time his orbit so he’s on the far side of the gate when you peel out of there. Then immediately select the object you want to warp to, click align, and in quick succession activate your cloak, then MWD. When the MWD is almost done with its first cycle, deactivate the cloak and click warp. This should leave you warping right away.

It’s a solid trick, but really works best on the haulers with an inertia bonus. You will be visible twice for less than a second, so its very hard to catch you. I bounced theough the Crielere gate to Rancer with it camped by around 10 ships. They jumped right as i did, and all they got to do was paint my hull with tears and empty threats of reporting me. Very satisfying to earn that level of rage in a cargo ship.

Living in a Bubble

Nullsec flies much the same as Low, but with more people, no gate guns, and the addition of bubbles. Warp Disruption fields appear as a sphere of blue energy that looks an awful lot like a wobbly soap bubble. They are, in addition to being pretty, able to stop any ship from warping or jumping as long as it’s inside the area of effect. So all a ganker needs to do is anchor a bubble on a gate and wait for someone to come through, web them, and then rain fire while their victim tries to flee a bubble at 36m/s. Not a pretty picture, to be sure, but one that can generally be avoided by following a few simple rules.

Don’t warp gate to gate in nullsec. It will get you killed, since bubbles are usually placed between a pair of gates to catch the unwary or impatient. Instead, warp to a celestial object that is not in line with your destination, and from there warp to your gate. If they had an inline bubble, you just bypassed it. Bubbled gates are harder, but you can always warp off, get a ways off some celestial, and cloak up to wait. Which brings us to our next point.

Travel at off-peak times. If you’re flying through areas commonly camped by Germans, for example, time a run for 3AM in their time zone. You might have anchored bubbles to deal with, but usually there won’t be anyone guarding them. Downtime is also your friend. I do my cargo runs on either side of downtime regularly, and it really helps. Especially logging off at a perch just before the server goes offline, then logging back in as soon as it’s back up can make chronically camped gates passable.

Perches are another tool you have in your box of tricks. Create a bookmark at a warpable distance from a gate you travel regularly. That way you can warp to your perch instead of the gate, see how things look, then warp directly to the gate and jump. It can help save you from an embarrassing loss.

That’s all for today! As always, I look forward to comments and feedback, so feel free to write. You can reach me in the comments, on Twitter @Verdis_deMosays, or in game with a mail to Verdis deMosays. Tell me what you want to know more about, and I will do my best to help.

See you among the stars!

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Verdis.

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