Header Art by Redline XIII
Burn Jita has become a staple of the High-Sec calendar, in a yearly, coordinated massacre of freighters, jump freighters, and anything else valuable. The awesome struggle to build and fit thousands of ships, each with the sole purpose of being thrown towards a freighter until it splits open and any surviving cargo can be stolen, is respectable to some and immoral to others.
The people who undertake this struggle are the Ministry of Love, Goonswarm’s High-Sec ganking group. Over a Burn Jita weekend, they will lose many thousands of ships to CONCORD, who often arrive too late to the crime and will only succeed in punishing these gankers after a ship has died. Considering the inability of CONCORD to stop the Capsuleer terror throughout High-Security space, who else but other Capsuleers can step up to fight the hordes of gankers?
For every Capsuleer who wants to see death and destruction throughout known space, there are at least two who refuse to bow down. The Anti-Ganking effort was formed in an attempt to stop the senseless ganking of miners, and to assist freighters in need. Burn Jita does not change that mission. Every year, Anti-Ganking and the High-Sec Militia step up to the plate during events like Burn Jita. These Capsuleers fly unarmed ships to apply on-site repairs to ships in distress, or utilise the ganker’s own tools against them by taking battleships to counter-bump freighters towards safety. Those pilots stare death in the face and laugh. This year was no different.
The Militia has fleets that form out of nowhere, intent on getting to the places where a gank is being prepared. All of these fleet members have the same goal – stop the ganks and save the freighters. I had the ability and privilege to fly in one of these fleets providing counter-bumps to freighters. At times, the freighters can seem like a ping-pong ball, pushed between battleships whose pilots are trying to out-fly and outsmart the other. But when you get a good push, you can be rewarded by seeing the warp engines spool up as the freighter moves to their destination, which is usually a citadel or station where they can dock up for safety.
When you aren’t able to perform such a “Hero Bump” with your battleship, you wait for the gank fleet to come in. When the fleet is close enough, the gankers’ bumper typically hugs the freighter, providing a warp in point as close as possible to the freighter. This works in your favor as much as your enemy’s, though. If you can time a bump right, the freighter can be pushed away from the gank fleet while they are firing, and if this is done properly, and with a little helping of luck, the freighter is sometimes pushed out of the gankers’ range.
It isn’t entirely foolproof, as stealth bombers can be be used to counter your efforts. If this happens, then an escalation occurs, as the Militia counters the bombers with ECM, logistics support, and more bumping. Speed, patience, and timing are all required. If the freighter is moving fast enough, with logi on grid, then much of the damage dealt by the gank fleet can be mitigated, even if they are using torpedoes.
Being just one of several pilots who volunteered to assist the Militia in their anti-ganking this year, I was often moving from location to location to spot pre-gank bumps and try to stop them. As a result, I only saw snippets of the action, so I asked Thomas en Chasteaux if he would talk to me about his Burn Jita experience this year. Thomas, for those who don’t know, is a very well respected member of the High-Sec Militia. To my amazement, he said yes.
Shalishaska Laoch: How did you start out Anti-Ganking?
Thomas en Chasteaux: Early on, out in Verge Vendor, I decided to go mine far away from the starting area. I ended up in a system next door to the Low-Sec area where the Tuskers fought and played. One of them would come out to High Sec, proclaim herself the Queen of the system, and gank miners. Saw it happen across the belt from me, and learned quickly to not be “that guy” who just exploded. I can’t quite remember the specifics, but I stumbled across the AG community in one way or another. I moved out toward the major trade pipes, and started hunting gankers in an ECM fit Nemesis, alongside Gorilla Vengaza.
SL: How do you save a freighter against so many ships?
TeC: Aside from neutralizing the bumper… it’s a math problem. Incoming DPS needs to be reduced by jams, or mitigated with incoming HP reps. You just need that last 1hp of hull left to survive, just need to add a few precious seconds until concord arrives. The challenge is to tip the scales ever so slightly, just enough, to have the smoke clear and see a freighter hull left in intact. Often turned inside out and into Swiss cheese, but holding.
TeC: It’s not easy. It’s quite a challenge to be in the right place, at the right time, in the right ship, and pull it off, against the odds. Which is why it’s rewarding…. it’s damn hard, and damn satisfying when you succeed.
SL: Why do you do what you do? Why is Anti Ganking so imporant in New Eden? Most just ignore those in need, why don’t you?
TeC: It feels good to snatch victory from the certain jaws of defeat, The challenge of cloaky hunting the hunter, figuring out the location of their next target, and nailing it. Humorous when the ganker had no idea you were there. The shared celebration as the freighter lives, and the pilot takes a moment to change his pants, then fist pump in celebration and relief.
TeC: There are moments along the way that make it memorable, the odd and strange situations that arise, and the sweet victories. Of course there are failures, of course there are explosions. But I’m pretty stubborn and determined. Those are just lessons learned. You take it and do better next time.
TeC: Someone has to be the first-responder. Someone has to be the first to arrive on scene. When other see that, they are more likely to lend a hand. Otherwise, everyone just stands and watches, wondering, who will take the first step toward the victim.
SL: With Burn Jita being more or less an annual event in New Eden, how many have you attended?
TeC: 3, as far as I can recall
SL: Do you know how many Anti-Ganking fleets were formed this year for Burn Jita?
TeC: Seemed to be 3 or 4 that were active throughout that I recognized, usually small teams.
SL: If you had to wager a guess, how many freighters were saved this year?
TeC: By the reports from the field and witnessed, 3 that were attacked, survived, repped, and escaped that I was personally involved in, and around 20 that were not attacked, but were counter bumped or heavily surrounded by logi, thus delaying the attack, and given the time and opportunity to escape.
SL: How would you rate the Gankers’ effectiveness this year compared to other years?
TeC: Well, there’s 2 angles to that.
SL: How so?
TeC: 1) How effectively did they interdict all freighter traffic to/from Jita, which is just not possible to know. Who can tell what percentage of isk they intercepted and exploded, out of all traffic, and what they may have suppressed, in those who choose not to fly because they were aware of the event.
TeC: 2) They can only be as effective as their bumpers. Once the freighter is pinned, and held hostage on grid, it’s nearly impossible to fail with a fleet of 150+ coercers. That’s where the challenge lays, for those who seek to do the “impossible” – save a freighter.
SL: But as you said, 20 or more were either saved or bumped to safety.
TeC: With those, the tactic was to neutralize the bumper, through legal means, by denying him the ability to control the situation. Whether the gank fleet is talos, catalysts, coercers or a madlad nereus, if the freighter is bumped out of optimal range, you can drop blobs all you want and miss. Which is why the counter-bumpers eventually are targeted and ganked themselves. Last year, the bumpers were ganked, which achieves the same goal, just through different means.
SL: That still doesnt really answer the question. Let me rephrase it a little. Compared to other years with various massive fleets, was this Burn Jita a real “Burn” or more of a fizzle?
TeC: I didn’t see a lot of Jump Freighters this time around, like prior years. So I expect the ISK total to be lower. Also, CODE. was largely absent, and was not operating a parallel event in the Uedama and Niarja pipe. The Goons had 2 separate fleets running throughout, that I was aware of. They combined at least once, on a freighter we were heavily repping.
TeC: But I did get the sense there were dry spells, and they had to fish further afield from Jita. I believe they took the time to gank an ice mining Orca, in an ice belt, if that was any indication of dip in viable targets. I assume the total isk will be in the hundreds of billions. But I suspect it may not reach 700B, as [it has] in prior years. I have not seen any tally yet.
SL: Do you have any idea why they organize events like Burn Jita?
TeC: I seem to recall it was once said it marked an anniversary of some sort. But as the date has been a bit flexible, it only ever felt more an event for the lineman, a 3 ring circus and spectacle to entertain the Empire’s Bees. Sport and Spectacle. Come see the explosions, and bearded lady capsuleers.
SL: If capsuleers are interested in Anti-Ganking, how and where would you suggest they start out?
TeC: I’d be happy if they just set up their own “neighborhood watch”, organizing and getting their locals and neighbors to act as scouts, providing intel, with some learning the fine art of cloaking, hunting and jamming gankers. Protect your home and neighborhood, it will serve you well. For those more adventurous, there’s always the part time, or career, in hunting miner gankers all across New Eden, or keeping logi on standby near the major trade lanes. Plus, there’s Burn Jita. Start training those logi skills now.
TeC: It’s trial by fire. You quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.
SL: That is the nature of Eve.
That last comment is possibly the most fitting way to end our discussion. The nature of New Eden is unforgiving, but learning from your mistakes is how we all progress and improve ourselves. We can’t stop every crime, or be perfect in every way, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. As it is, we do what we can simply because we can, and that is why Anti-Gankers do what they do every day, and twice on Burn Jita.