Saturday, March 6, 2010

Low Security Space - Part 1

Low security space, or low sec, is the collective name of all systems with security status higher than 0.0 but lower than 0.5. Low sec gets a bad name for itself, but it can be extremely fun and rewarding. I can't stress highly enough the advantages of getting a taste of low security space early on. Even if you decide that you don't want to make your home there, you should at least get comfortable with passing through. There are a surprising number of players who have been in the game for months--even years--and have never left high sec. To hear them tell it, you would think that every gate is camped by pirates using smartbombs that not only destroy your ship, but also destroy all other assets you have in the game and give your character syphilis.

There are two primary dangers in low sec: gate camps and roaming pirates. if you're just passing through, then you will simply be warping gate to gate so you only have to worry about the former.

Avoiding Gate Camps:
By far the most heavily camped gates in low sec are the ones that border either high sec (0.5+) or null sec (0.0). Presumably, you won't be passing through null sec just yet, so the main system you need to worry about being killed in is the one you enter when you first leave high sec (more on why you don't need to worry so much about the low/hi border at the other end of the trip later).

The star map is your friend here. Press F10 to bring up the map. If you're in solar system mode, click the "toggle map" button on the map control panel to switch to galactic star map. If you've already set a destination, then your route should be highlighted, and the names and security status of the systems you'll be flying through should appear down the left hand side. Look for the first system en route that has a security status less than 0.5 and locate it on the map (you may find the "flatten map" button on the map control panel useful or not, depending on how good your 3d visualisation is). Now, in the control panel, click on the "star map" tab and then the "color stars by" subtab. In the "statistics" folder, select "Ships destroyed in the last hour". Obviously, if the system you're looking at flying into lights up like a carnival, you might want to reconsider your travel plans.

If you want a little more information, also check the "average pilots in space in the last 30 minutes" option. If there are no or few ships destroyed, but more than about ten people in space, you might want to consider the possibility that a gate camp is in the process of assembling. Likewise, if there were a ton of ships destroyed, but there are now only a few people in space, it's possible that a gatecamp has recently disbanded. Either that, or that a large fleet battle recently transpired and everyone is now licking their wounds (which can make for some really good ninja looting if you're bold).

Most of space is empty, but don't get too spooked just because there are a few people in the system you're passing through. A lot of them will just be minding their own business (or will be roaming pirates without the logistics to set up a gate camp). It takes generally at least three people to set up a decent gatecamp (one heavily tanked battleship to get aggro from the gate guns, one logistics ship to keep that tank ship alive, and at least one DPS ship). In practice, most gatecamps will have at least 7 or 8 people, because anything too minimal is just begging to be busted by an anti-pirate pvp fleet (a single logistics ship can be destroyed rather easily if you're well prepared), and after that the gate guns will help chew through the rest of the camp very quickly), so if there are fewer people than that in space you can feel relatively secure passing through.

If you decide to bypass a specific system, right click on the star in the map and choose "Avoid solar system". A new route will automatically be plotted for you. Keep in mind that the avoided system will stay on your nav computer avoid list until you remove it in the "avoided systems" tab, so you'll want to clean that out occasionally.

Still, despite your best efforts, you'll sometimes find yourself greeted by a dozen or so bright red bars on your overview when first entering the system. All is not lost.


  1. Ok, this blog is great. Please keep this going. Perfect for rookies, but even after playing a while, hearing things I've already heard written in such plain/real terms is still educational.

    Subscribed. :)

  2. A more frequent form of gate camp that I see is the multiple BC/BS camp. The idea there is when they agro, the guns will not shoot all of them at one. Megathrons do really well there. It's more of a "quick" gank camp though.

    The scariest thing I've ran into have been highly sensor booster heavy interdictors.

  3. Oh, definitely. But, in my experience, even then, the battleships will have some sort of remote rep. So, in a sense they are still a logistics ship, even if they aren't technically a "Logistics Ship." Gatecamps come in all shapes and sizes and I was trying to give more of a general archetype than a complete classification.

    And certainly there are low sec gatecamps that bear no resemblance to the one I've described at all. The two that come to mind immediately are the sniper alpha strike camp and the smartbomb camp. Fortunately, the sniper camps usually don't have fast enough locks to be a threat to frigate or destroyer sized hulls. And the smartbomb camps, while deadly to frigates, are pretty easy to avoid if you pay attention to the map. (I almost called out Rancer by name, but figured I'd leave it as an exercise to the reader.)

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