Tools of the Trade

Ombey's Vaga Brings the Pain

tldr; Choosing a weapon system or two and skilling those up to T2 will lead to vast improvements in your combat efficiency.

So you’ve got this ninja thing down. You’ve learned what to steal and how to go about it with ruthless efficiency. Now it’s time to get your pew pew on. But what should you be shooting with? You’ve probably got a smidgen of combat skills already, but I’m not sure I’d commit to those railguns or heavy missiles as your ninja weapon of choice without thinking a few things through.

Make no mistake about it, we don’t really roll into fair fights as ninjas, or at least not very many of them. That may sound underhanded and dishonorable, but think about it, most of our encounters start off when some enraged mission runner attacks a relatively defenseless frigate with a ship-of-the-line battleship. No one in this little drama is really looking for nor expecting a fair fight. So as a ninja ganker, we view gank ships and the weapons they fit a bit differently than the larger PVP community.

Missiles

Whooosh...........BOOM!

Many ninjas, particularly those who’ve dabbled in PVE, begin their ganking career with missiles and it’s true, missiles do have numerous benefits. Since your primary target will be battleship hulls and the odd battlecruiser hull, your choices here are really the heavy assault missile (HAMs) and the torpedo. Forget about cruise and heavy missiles as they’re not really suited to ninja ganking (there are a few exceptions). Missiles benefit from selective damage type, provide good DPS, and need no capacitor to keep on firing should you face a neut. They are quite easy to train since the skill tree is not as demanding as say, T2 medium auto cannons. For exploiting a resist hole, it’s really hard to beat missiles. Additionally, when it comes to battleship-busting, or shooting at any large, nigh-motionless target, torpedoes are among the best weapon choice in the game.

With the good comes some bad, missiles are a bit slow to apply their DPS and faster hulls with small signatures can usually outrun or at least mitigate the incoming missile damage. Committing to missiles as a primary weapon will lock you into a few hulls; Drake, Raven, Sacrilege, Typhoon, Legion and Loki. So, if you’re not really enamored with those ships and Caldari ships on the whole, missiles probably aren’t going to be your cup of tea. Other more skill intensive ships apply here as well, but for your first year of ganking mission runners, those ships and their related hulls, will be what you’re working with. There’s nothing wrong with those ships, and in fact, the Torp Raven and Torp Typhoon are devastatingly effective. Many Missile boats will be limited in their ability to destroy enemy drones, which may be more of an issue for the smaller hulls mentioned above.  While torpedoes produce staggering DPS numbers, they really only apply that DPS to “easy to hit” targets”. HAMs on the other hand produce only modest DPS when compared to some of the other systems available to you. For most of the PVP that ninjas participate in, missiles will really only come into their own with battle cruiser hulls and above. Other than the T3 hulls and the Sac, you’re probably going to struggle against mission ships with a missile-equipped cruiser hull.

A Word on Gunnery

There are basically 3 gun families in EVE; projectiles, lasers, and hybrids. Each family has a sniping gun and a face-melter. For what we do as ninjas, it’s the latter that we’ll use to battle the Mission Bear Scourge. It can be a fine thing to have some skill with the sniping weapons though, particularly if you see yourself doing any suicide ganking. The sniping weapons simply provide more volley damage while also applying DPS at range a bit more effectively. Gunnery support skills apply across these gun families, so the pilot who is deadly with auto cannons can add lasers with only a little effort, and still enjoy the skill points previously spent in support of your auto cannons.

Auto Cannons

King of the Dakka Dakka

The Minmatar weapon of choice, training these guns is a fine way to start off your ninja career. Auto cannons give you fair range, becoming excellent once you acquire T2 guns, good DPS, and the ability to swap to a particular damage type. Like missiles, they use no cap and thus, work well with cap warfare strategies. They are such outstanding PVP weapons that many “un-bonused ships”, can be fitted with ACs for superior DPS performance rather than its racial weapon. Auto cannons have a higher fall off range than other guns and can be used to gain advantage over blaster fit ships, or in a situation where one pilot can fit Barrage (the T2 AC ammo) and the other cannot. Many of the most dangerous (and infamous really) PVP ships in the game are AC boats. If you like the Rifter, Rupture, Dramiel, Hurricane, Loki and Sleipnir, you’ll surely want to train up T2 auto cannons.

Auto cannons do spend considerable amounts of ammo, a situation made even worse via RoF rigs or hardwirings. Given their popularity, kitting out a cargo hold full of the necessary ammo to do your “work” can be surprisingly expensive (pro tip; use republic fleet ammo for your PVP ships, incremental advantages are crucial). Although one can do fine with the thermal, explosive and EM varients of projectile ammo, the kinetic variety is a bit underwhelming and there are occasions where a more powerful kinetic option would be handy.

Pulse Lasers

Death Incarnate

The Amarr specialty gun is greatly, and on some level unfairly, maligned by the l33t PVP crowd. For a ninja though, one could hardly ask for a more effective weapon since pulse lasers are so brutally effective at shredding shield tankers. Pulse Lasers offer excellent effective range due to the insta-swapping nature of crystals. On paper, only blasters exceed pulse lasers in DPS. In practice, you will likely find that they yield exceptional DPS, melting EM hole in shields at an alarming rate. The optimal range versus falloff dynamic for pulse lasers is actually the opposite of auto cannons with pulse lasers enjoying a substantial optimal and relatively miniscule falloff. This allows laser boats to fight at a bit more range than other ships, all while delivering substantial pain. A much-heralded benefit of lasers is the lack of ammo, but in practice, you’ll find yourself popping Scorch and Faction crystals from time to time. On the other hand, the standard crystals last indefinitely and to this end, it’s no surprise that the Amarr BS is the PoS buster of choice (usually the Armageddon).

Lasers in general are greedy weapons and you’ll find that managing your cap is a juggling act. Most Amarr ships have generous capacitors, but even then, a cap booster, CCC rigs, etc. are almost always going to be necessary to run your active mods. This also limits the amount of neuting that you can do to the enemy. Pulse lasers don’t really transition very well to the ships of other races and so, there are only a select number of laser boats that you’ll be limited to. In fact, these ships are often better suited for gang PVP work rather than ninja ganking, so you may find your choice of pew pew ships somewhat limiting. Pulse lasers are also a weapon system that gets better as it scales up in size. As a new, inexperienced ninja, you’re probably not going to be doing much work with them, until you get to the medium and large varieties. You’ll probably find that the better platforms for fitting lasers are quite pricey and there’s just not a Rifter or Rupture type hull (low cost T1 frig or cruiser gunboat) that is all that attractive. For example, the Bleeder Punisher is a fine T1 PVP frigate, but most pilots find that it performs at a much better rate when fit with ACs. Finally, and most obviously, lasers are limited to EM/Therm damage. This is greatly beneficial against most shield tankers, but it puts them at considerable disadvantage in some encounters, T2 Minmatar ships being the most obvious example.

Blasters

At the Top of the Frigate Food Chain

These guys are the ultimate face-melter, swapping range for pure DPS. While they throw a lot of ammo, you don’t need to spend that much ISK when you gear up since you’ll probably only be using Caldari Navy Antimatter (and Null I guess when you get kited). While the kinetic/thermal combo isn’t the greatest in the world (unless you’re shooting Gurista) it’s a fine generic round that makes up for any drawback via superb DPS. The major benefit being that outside of Gurista mission spaces, few ships will plug their kinetic hole. Blasters work very well across a number of hull types, from frigates to battleships in both the Gallente and Caldari line. Though the auto cannon fit Dramiel gets all the press and raves, its the blaster-fit Daredevil that is likely the final word in frigate PVP hulls. Blasters are a blunt instrument and offer a simplicity often lacking in other weapon choices. Get in close, activate your scram and web, and then melt face.  Many pilots find this approach particularly appealing.

Like lasers, blasters are capacitor-dependent, though less so than pulse lasers. Lacking the excellent range of pulse lasers, blaster boats can find themselves both kitted and possibly neuted out. In fact, that spectacular DPS that EFT tells you your blasters are capable of, is in practice, difficult to apply if you can’t hold really tight range. You’re probably going to be fitting a stasis webifier on most blaster fits since controlling range is of paramount importance.

Drones

Kiting You, Neuting You, Killing You

There’s just no getting around the utility of drones in EVE combat. At some point, every combat pilot will need to acquire T2 drone skills at least through medium drones, possibly up to heavies if the Geddon or Phoon are attractive options as a gank ship for you (down the road of course). If you’re going to fly the Amarr recons or virtually any Gallente ships, drones are going to be at least your secondary weapon system. In truth, this is a very fine place to spend some of your skill points since almost every ship you fly in EVE will benefit from good drone skills.

There is a lot of information out there about which drones to use against which target. If you’ve read my previous article on resist holes, you’ll probably have plenty of success by simply matching the proper drone to the proper damage susceptibility. I get a lot of questions about my use of Amarr drones, but I shoot a lot, no I mean a LOT of Ravens and Drakes. Gallente drones (Hammerheads and Hobgobs) would be fine here as well, but I like throwing damage into 0% resist holes.  Experience suggests that against Caldari mission runners and can flipping targets, it’s a brutally effective strategy. On the other hand, one could simplify things greatly by using Minmatar drones against armor tanks and Gallente drones for attacking shield tanks.

In addition to the advantage of damage type flexibility, drones can be swapped rapidly in most combat situations.  This means that you can deploy the extremely effective Minmatar drones to combat and kill the enemy drones, switch to a more efficacious drone for the enemy shields, even swapping once again once your opponent hits armor. Keyboard shortcuts are your friend here.

Drones are not without their disadvantages. They put out very nominal DPS and they are the only “weapon system” that the enemy can take out with his own weapons (let’s not count Defender missiles). In many ways, drones are ammunition-free, but when you do have to replace them, they’re quite pricey.

Making your choices

In truth, I think the best weapon for new ninjas to train will be the one that fits hand in glove with that first gank ship. That’s probably a battlecruiser, but, with good skill, it could also be a cruiser hull. So, choose a ship that you think would be fun to fly and then, set about skilling the weapon systems to T2. My advice would have you aiming for the following battlecruisers:

Hurricane, Harbinger, Myrmidon, Brutix, Drake

And yes, I’d recommend them to new ninjas in that order.

For a set of Cruisers you might look to, here are some choices that new ninjas might consider:

Cynabal, Navy Issue Omen, Rupture, Phantasm, Ashimmu, Navy Vexor, Gila, Vigilant

In my humble opinion those first two far exceed the others, but all of these hulls are deadly to mission runners in the hands of a competent ninja. The faction hulls in that list are certainly pricey, but you should always be able to bail if things go South or should an enemy corpmate appear on grid.  Remember, skilling the hulls up to level 3 at minimum (level 4 even better) is just as key as those T2 guns.

Now go make something explode for old Solomar.

EVEpics=AWESEOMEpics

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Fire in the Hole

Cynabal, accept no substitute

tl;dr Knowing the resist hole of your target gives the ninja a substantial advantage over an unprepared carebear opponent.

A very skilled PVP pilot once told me that after I “unlocked” T2 medium pulse lasers, I’d be spoiled and wouldn’t want to use anything else. One of the reasons is that the problem of shooting into the resist hole, or more accurately, knowing what that resist hole happens to be, gets removed from the equation. You simply point, shoot, and instantly swap to multifrequency once you’ve closed with the enemy. Blasters loaded with faction Antimatter ammo are in a similar vein, but their damage combination is slightly less attractive, though the shear amount of DPS can often make up for this.

Autocanons, missiles of all sorts, even drones make things a bit more complicated. The tradeoff however is that you’re much more capable of exploiting a resist hole and simply melting your opponent’s defenses.

But how do I know what ammo to load?

Ah, fear not. Old Solo is here to assist. You would of course like to know the enemy ship’s exact fitting and in what fashion he is tanking the NPCs. A ship scanner will accomplish this obviously, but after a bit of experience, you’ll see that most ships are consistently tanked as an armor or shield tanker, and they’re either passive or active. Take the common-as-dirt Raven for example. Most Raven pilots will have an active shield tank and it’s a reasonable bet that he has a tank to counter the NPCs in his mission. It wouldn’t do you any harm to become familiar with the common builds of the mission ships in your area and a quick trip to Battleclinic should sort that out for you.

If you need a bit of help though, here’s the Easy Button:

Blood & Sansha, Amarr-related NPCs
rats do em/therm
mission runner does therm or obviously em + therm if laser-fitted
MISSION SHIP RESIST HOLE
T1 Shd Tanker-Kin
T1 Armor Tanker-Expl
T2 Amarr-Kin
T2 Minmatar-Expl
T2 Caldari-Expl
T2 Gallente-Expl

Gurista  & Serpentis, Caldari-related and Gallente-related NPCs
rats do kin/therm
mission runner does therm or kin
MISSION SHIP RESIST HOLE
T1 Shd Tanker-EM
T1 Armor Tanker-Expl
T2 Amarr-EM
T2 Minmatar-Expl
T2 Caldari-EM
T2 Gallente-Expl

Angels & Minmatar-related NPCs
rats do All, mostly expl but some kin
mission runner does expl
MISSION SHIP RESIST HOLE
T1 Shd Tanker-EM or Therm
T1 Armor Tanker-Therm
T2 Amarr-Therm
T2 Minmatar-Therm
T2 Caldari-EM
T2 Gallente-Therm

Mercs & Rogue Drones
rats do all types dmg, Mercs are usually heavy kin/therm Drones are often heavy expl
mission runner does therm or possibly em vs Rogue Drones
MISSION SHIP RESIST HOLE
T1 Shd Tanker-EM (possibly Therm in a Rogue Drone mission)
T1 Armor Tanker-Expl (possibly Therm in a Rogue Drone mission)
T2 Amarr-Therm
T2 Minmatar-Expl
T2 Caldari-EM
T2 Gallente-Expl

Meccros, long time member of Suddenly Ninja, now with Misfit Toys

That’s a list compiled by myself and my good friend Meccros of Misfit Toys. It’s certainly not exhaustive, and in truth it may be a bit over-simplified, but it’s a good place to start I think. You can either bookmark this blog entry (yet another shameless attempt at self promotion) or, copy the list and save it as note in your notepad. You should note that Rogue Drones are really a mixed bag and it’s likely that the mission runner is omni-tanked to some degree. In a Rogue Drone mission, you might simply have a go at the enemy ship’s native resistance.

It’s worth noting that many experienced mission runners, and some who simply can’t be bothered to swap mods, will be omni-tanked. That means they’ve mounted an Adaptive armor mod or some flavor of Invulnerability Shield Hardener. This may result in you melting their defenses even quicker, or you’ll set there and watch distressingly as your damage is soaked with little effect. Change ammo and try a different resist.

You should also be aware of what sort of heat might be coming your way. Adjust accordingly if you’ve a resist hole which the mission runner might exploit either through PVP knowledge or blind luck. If you’re flying a shield-tanking gankship jumping into a Sansha or Blood deadspace, or if your target is a laser boat, prepare to see your shields insta-melt if you’ve not properly plugged your own resist hole. The same holds true for armor tankers when the mission runner is firing thermal or even worse, explosive. A good gankship should have that resist hole plugged either via a rig or a mod.

Lock and Load Baby!

But what if your target comes back in his PVP ship, what to expect then? Well, a very simple metric to hold to is that shield tankers are susceptible to EM damage and armor tankers are generally weak against Thermal. On any ship larger than a frigate or destroyer, it’s probably worth your effort to swap to explosive once you get into the armor of your target. The time it takes to swap will usually be offset considerably by that gaping explosive hole in your target’s armor. Amarr T2 ships are an entirely different story. They are ridiculously over-tanked against explosive damage. That’s because the T2 ships are natively tanked (ridiculously so in fact) against their “enemy faction”. This little bit of knowledge is beyond the scope of most casual pilots and since the conventional wisdom says “always use EM in PVP”, pilots flying T2 Minmatar ships hold a unique advantage over the uniformed.

On the other hand, one can simply load up with T2 Heavy Pulse L4Z0R5 and a rack full of Imperial Navy Heat Sinks and just melt face. There are merits to that approach as well. Now go shoot that Raven that just turned red to you.

Ninja Kitteh Wants Your Lootz

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Hunting Big Game with the Hurricane

Raven assplosions r best assplosions

tl;dr While there are certainly other ships that might fit the bill, no other ship will get you mission runner kills in the early part of your ninja career quite as easily as the Hurricane.

As you progress through your Apprentice stage as a ninja salvager, you’re going to want to start shooting back at mission runners and probably sooner rather than later. If you were smart, you’ve already trained up Minmatar Frigate to 4 or higher and Minmatar Cruiser at least high enough to get the Stabber. The Hurricane should really only be a few days away for you. Now, certainly, there is much to be said for the mighty Rupture and it is a fine T1, Tier 3 Cruiser. With really strong skills and the correct opponent, you can waylay mission runners with it, getting under their guns and pummeling them with autocannon firepower.

The problem however is that Ravens, Drakes and the like, won’t care about your tight orbit. In fact, they’re probably happy that you’re sacrificing some of your top end speed. You’ll probably find that your Ruppy gets all but shredded as you maneuver into AC range, and then, disaster may strike if he happens to have a web fitted and knows enough to swap to armor-melting explosive ammo. Not the way you had it planned… not so much.

The Hurricane is simply more forgiving, has more firepower, excellent neuting power, and enough tank to keep you in the fight against most mission ships. Most players jump into hulls before they can fit it with T2 mods. This is only human nature and your first Cane will likely be no different. It’s common knowledge that T2 autocannons are very flexible and powerful guns for PVP. Without them, you can’t fight out to Barrage range (critical for a Ruppy who stumbles into a Web and needs to gain range and continue the fight) and you lose a substantial amount of damage from Medium AC Specialization. On the other hand, even a Hurricane kitted out with META 2 and 3 mods is pretty damn dangerous, even more so once the pair of medium neuts have started spinning.

A  Suggested Build for Low SP Ninjas
LOWS
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
N-Type Adaptive Nano Membrane I X2
Gyrostabilizer II X2
Damage Control II
MIDS
10MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Warp Disruptor I
Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Cap Booster 800
HIGHS
220mm Medium ‘Scout’ Autocannon I, Republic Fleet EMP M X6
50W Infectious Power System Malfunction X2
RIGS
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I X2
Medium Projectile Burst Aerator I
DRONES
Valkyrie I x1
Warrior I x4

OK, so it’s not entirely T1, but come on, if you’re gonna shoot at people in BCs and BS, at least give yourself a fighting chance by skilling up Weapons Upgrades to get the T2 mods and the T2 suitcase. Be patient and train those. Don’t even buy a Hurricane until you have BC trained to Level 3 (really a good rule of thumb for everything you fly) and get BC to 4 as soon as you can manage it.

Most folks slap on the 3rd trimark rig, but the stacking penalty nerfs it to the point, that you’re probably better off with some more DPS in that slot or plugging your Explosive Hole (debatable since the vast majority of your victims won’t be savvy enough to switch to Explosive). Additionally, 3X Trimarks seem wasteful in terms of utilizing your calibration points. YMMV here.

What Kind of Mission Ships Can I Shoot at with This

Dakka Dakka Dakka

Pretty much all but the toughest of tanks will be threatened by this beast.  At low SP, I’d be hesitant to rumble with the following ships; Marauders, Faction Battleships, and Command Ships. Everyone else is on the chopping block. You will soon find that the neuts alone will compromise most active MR tanks and your friends the NPC pirates will add to your somewhat underwhelming DPS. Neuts are the straw that stirs the drink at the Mission Runner Ganking Party. You can certainly run those neuts without the cap booster, but they’ll run for the length of the engagement along with your AB and that could make the difference. Switch it out if you feel you must, but I think it pairs up nicely with all that neuting power.

Kill His Drones

While your Low SP Hurricane isn’t exactly a glass cannon, you’ll usually benefit greatly from killing the enemy drones on the approach. Your 220s can typically insta-pop one or two enemy drones as their transversal drops to 0 on the approach. After that, web them and sick your own drones on them. For that reason, I would probably always fit Minmatar drones for the low SP fitting. They’re excellent at killing drones and by the time you get your MR into armor, they’ll provide a nice DPS boost as well. By all means, start assigning and using keyboard shortcuts for your drones. You’ve already got a good bit of stuff to manage during a fight, so simplifying things with those shortcuts is a Good Thing.

Stagger Your Neuts

You don’t want your neuts running together and in fact, you’d be well advised, to wait until the first neut is about ½ way through its cycle before triggering the other one. This will more effectively combat your victim’s recharge rate and theoretically, collapse his active tank. One of the things that you have to come to grips with is that some MR ships are passive tanks. The Drake is the perfect example and against such an opponent, you’re probably well-advised to swap the neuts and cap booster out for more efficacious modules. Essentially, the engagement becomes a DPS race so consider a pair of HAMs in your high slots and 2 racial ECM mods in the place of the cap booster and web.

Taking it up a Notch

The Hurricane is a wonderful ship and it is arguably the most flexible hull in the game short of the strategic cruisers. With this build or something similar, you’ve still a considerable amount of growing to do. But on which skills should you focus your training time? I believe you should get those T2 guns and Gunnery Support skills rolling along, and then move to T2 drones. This will increase your DPS substantially and the T2 drones will be beneficial on most every ship you fly for the life of your current ‘Toon.

A very easy boost to DPS can be achieved by skilling up T2 Projectile Rigs. They are a bit pricey at around 20 mil, but they offer a substantial boost to your firepower.  As with faction and deadspace mods, I would advise that you get some degree of competency through actual flight time before taking the plunge, but I believe you’ll find that they are well worth the splurge. It’s easy to overlook, but incremental advantages really do add up and the more of them you can pile on, the more fights you’ll likely win. Hardwires also fall into this category and you should take a serious look at the MX2 (5% boost to medium projectile damage) and when you can afford it, the Lancer G1 or G2 Delta for increased Rate of Fire.

Now, go get that Bear young ninja.

Come on, you know you want one

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Opportunity Knocks: Snatching Mission Objectives

tl;dr There’s a great deal of coin to be had if you realize when you’ve got a chance to snag a valuable mission objective. Knowing the Ins and Outs of certain missions can turn you a tidy profit.

I can haz your Damsel

I think I went many months of play as a ninja without having a clue about the missions I was pilfering. Don’t be that ninja. An informed ninja soon becomes a wealthy ninja, and later on, with some PVP skills, a dangerous ninja.

Now, be aware, mission runners really, are a timid bunch. There are exceptions of course, but very few of them actually shoot. Most of those that do, will then go dock up until their agro counter expires. In truth, the idea of avoiding PVP with a skillful opponent isn’t a bad idea so, you can’t really blame them. Still, there are enough hapless mission runners that do fall to ninjas that it instills in the majority of Carebears a degree of caution when confronted by a “shiny red” ninja, no matter what his age.

Things are however, a bit different in these missions, and kudos to the GMs for presenting the sandbox with these sorts of game changers every now and then. When you nick one of these mission objectives, you can expect to draw some heat, and often some epic tears.

THE DAMSEL

Ur new girlfriend

The Damsel in Distress is arguably the most lucrative mission objective that you’ll stumble upon. She may not sell immediately, but you can expect her to fetch over 20 million ISK, perhaps as high as 30 million. Take some time to read through the EVE-Survival entry HERE. They’re even considerate enough to provide a video there that you can watch (and you probably should).

Remember, the Damsel does not drop until the correct Pleasure Dome is destroyed and when it does, if you’re there in a frigate…  well, you’re probably going to end up in your pod. This is yet another reason to simply fly a Stabber, but I digress. After it blows up, you’ll see 2 cans there; one holds narcotics, the other The Damsel. An experienced mission runner will probably have an Alt sitting near the spot to snag the OBJ, but many will not. Primarily because they’re still dealing with a few angry Mercs who are ignoring you and shooting the poor sap in the Battleship.

Aside from the mission OBJ, there are a good number of large mercenary wrecks. Things haven’t quite settled down with Tyrannis so I’m not sure how things sit in this particular mission. At times, you get the Pre-Tyrannis drops, which means good ISK in the large guns and other mods, in spite of the frequent metal scraps. Occasionally though, the loot is simply lousy. Always take a peek at the Zor wreck. If there’s a single hardwire in there, it’s junk, maybe 2000 ISK or so on the MKT. If you see a pair of hardwires in there, you’re in business. That second one should fetch you close to 20 mil or so on contract.

SHIP’S CREW

Dudes in a Heron

This objective is found in the Damage Heron which is located in the 2nd room of World’s Collide. You can (and should) check out the specific entry on EVE Survival HERE. This is a very easy mission to spot as it is to my knowledge, the only Lv 4 with a pair of gates, and 2 separate groups guarding them. Quite often, mission runners will kill only one group of the guards and deal with the others later, jumping right through to the first room.

Be warned, that first room is notoriously hairy and the NPCs in that room seem to be as devious as Sleepers, often changing agro to the weakest ship in the room (that would likely be you gentle reader). Should you warp in to a room with only NPCs, scan quickly. Mission Runners botch agro and lose ships in here so there may be an opportunity to snag some choice mods from a Mission Runner wreck.

Speaking of choice mods, there is a chance that an Overseer (a Commander rat) will spawn in this 1st room. In fact, it’s possible for the Overseer to spawn even after the room has been cleared. Should you find the room full of wrecks and no Mission Runner, it’s worth considering doing a few jumps In and Out. There are conflicting reports about whether or not this will spawn the Overseer, but worth doing if for some reason, the Ship’s Crew have already been picked up.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised at how relatively easy the Ship’s Crew are to snag. Most mission runners are smart enough to set on the can, but they don’t all realize that the can becomes unlocked before the room is cleared in its entirety. Many of these dolts will be moving around, chasing an NPC here or there as you casually fly up and rescue the crew. The can itself is white so stealing the item doesn’t grant kill rights, which is pretty funny when you think about it.

PORT ROLETTE RESIDENTS

Agro Magnets

These guys are very easy to steal and can be had, pretty much, right from the jump of the mission. The problem for the mission runner is that he’s in a slow Battleship while you can simply fly up (and the can is above you), speed-tanking the agro and grab the OBJ from the white can. If it weren’t so profitable, one might say that it’s unfair.

This objective is found in the Enemies Abound 1/5 mission which is a common faction mission in Caldari space. You can read about it on EVE Survival here. If the mission objective weren’t enough to get you stoked, bear in mind that this is a “tag mission” so the loot, or at least the faction tags, are very valuable to the mission runner. If you’re looking to draw agro in Caldari space, these sort of missions, and this one in particular rarely disappoints.

Nothing really special to watch out for here, just be advised that the can itself will require you to bump along through some of the plentiful asteroids. You may even get hung up along the way giving the MR an easy kill if you’re already red to him and his corp. The Residents are slow sellers compared to the previous entries, but they should net you a cool 15-20 mil with some patience.

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A Hunting We Will Go

We iz goin' huntin' boys

In last week’s installment I talked about using mapping tools and web resources to help you find a new system for your ninja salvaging activities. I should also point out that Tyrranis has brought some fundamental changes to the location of Level 4 missions as mission runners are now being sent to a neighboring system from the buisier hubs. In the past, Umokka for example was a hotbed for Caldari Navy missions, but many of those, perhaps as many as 2/3rd of the missions, seem to be happening in Ruvas now. Again, Dotlan maps are your friend here and serve as a beacon for ninjas. Simply check out the system with the most NPC kills and you’ll most likely find those carebears.

TL;DR You may find success hunting trigger-happy mission runners in less-populated systems. Find the Level 4 training systems that mission runners go to in their first few weeks of stepping up from Level 3 missions and try your luck.

This week though, what I’d like to touch on is another tactic and that’s stalking and destroying mission runner ships. After enduring several months of being fired upon, listening to continuous crying and mouthing off in local by whiny mission runners, most young ninjas are eager to start harvesting a few carebear boats as soon as they can jump into a battelcruiser. This is the natural order of things and represents a new stage in your career, a new stone along the path. If you’ve not already starting doing a bit of PVP in your spare time, I highly recommend you do so before throwing down in battelcruiser on battleship tussles. More on that next week.

Clearly one could go to Agrallarier and simply throw your hat in the ring with the other Big Boy Ninjas™, but on some level, for the beginner, that might not be your best move. You’ll find that many of the mission runners here have already been popped a time or too and are hesitant to shoot, or their bling tanks are so impressive that a welterweight ninja in his Hurricane poses very little threat to them. Here’s where your research comes in. With a bit of work, you can find some hidden action that other less studious ninjas might be missing. In every faction of EVE there is typically a corporation that draws the mission runners in droves. In Caldari space for instance, it’s Caldari Navy. Once you’ve determined, the corporation you’ll be targeting, you’re going to want to find those divisions that commonly dole out Kill Missions. You can find this out at the Evelopedia Mission Guide page. As for the rest, hey I’m not gonna spell it out entirely for you, so go do some research.

Caldari Navy is Da Best!

Now, imagine you’re a young carebear. You’re blazing through those Level 3s and now, lo and behold, you’ve got the magic corporate standing for that crappy Quality -18 Level 4 agent over there in Gooberland. Time to grab that fail-fit Raven and turn on the ISK faucet. You see many, if not most, mission runners will be jumping into Level 4s probably 2 weeks ahead of when they really should (ninjas do this in their pew pew ships, but again, next week…). In many instances, they’ve never even seen a ninja, but rest assured, they know all about you and they don’t like you one teeny bit. These guys are ripe for the picking, but there is a catch. These systems typically have much lower numbers than the bigger hubs. So the Baby Bear is harder to scan down, even if he stays in the mission space considerably longer than he will once he mastered a few more PVE skills. As a bonus, you’re probably the only ninja in the system

Having looked into the bottom of the barrel Level 4 Kill Mission agent, you may find that you’re get mixed results. Your next goal then is to find those stop over agents that mission runners use on their way to the cream of the crop agents; the Qlty 14 and above agents sitting in Penirgman, Ichoriya, Motsu, etc. These agents are often hovering around Quality 0 or so and you’ll find that it is a similar situation, if not better, than the bottom feeders detailed above. In both instances, you’ll find mission runners who still very much value their loot and the mission salvage and very few competing ninjas. They are typically quite trigger happy, and what’s better, it’s a transitional system. Few mission runners are gonna be happy staying here when there are better paying agents just a few standing points increases away.  This leads to a scenario where every few weeks, you get a new batch of up and comers, ready to yellow box you. With some bit of luck, you can easily find yourself bouncing only a very few systems over to the primo hunting ground, then returning to these quiet backwaters as the mood hits you. It’s good to be a ninja.

Vroom, Vroom!

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Where Do I Go Now? Choosing a New System for Fun and Profit

Your Target

TL;DR Check out the in game map (F10) coloring the stars to NPCs killed, in addition to the more informative Dotlan Maps and EVE-Agents. Ombey maps are still a very cool resource.

So, you’re ready to break some new ground, find a new place to bedevil the carebears and you’re a bit uncertain where you should go next. Certainly, if you’re new to scanning, you’ll want to hit one of the massive hubs like Dodixie or Motsu. Beginning ninjas will find scanning hits much easier to acquire here and though you may also find a lot of angry, wreck-shooting mission runners, both systems are fine places to get started.

Let’s say you’re wanting to find a secondary hub though, just for arguments sake. Maybe you’re planning on moving to Amarr to work those lovely Sanshas and Blood wreck fields, and for ISK-hungry ninjas this is certainly a sound plan of action. The easiest thing one might do is simply go to your map (F10) and in the star map filters, color the stars by NPCs killed in the past 24 hours. A mission hub like Motsu or Ichoriya will simply glow, standing out like a jewel among the lesser systems. Be warned though, these are busy areas and there will likely be a considerable amount of competition here, along with angry, non-cooperative mission runners. [NINJA EDIT] Well, that was up until Tyrranis hit and the GMs started spreading mission runners away from the agent’s system. You’ll find that a neighboring system, typically right next door is now where the action is. Simply take a look at Dotlan as mentioned below and you should find the mission runners again. Now go make mischief.

DOTLAN, embracing the Post Modern Flowchart Aesthetic

Another resource at your disposal is Dotlan EVE Maps. This online map site is reasonably up-to-date and though the interface and graphics are somewhat rudimentary, it is an exceptional resource for capsuleers of all stripes. As a bonus, it evens works on the In Game Browser. The API provides the data and using the same “NPCs killed” filter, you can now more easily see the secondary mission hubs. These hubs are often overlooked and though they may be a bit tougher to scan, the rewards can be well worth your effort. Here you’ll find lesser Quality agents, but there will still be mission runners present, and they often behave quite differently than those in the busier hubs.

If you’re like me, and gosh I know I sure am, you probably stare in wild wonder at the in game maps. They’re very pretty to look at, all colorful and whatnot, but for most players, they simply don’t make a lot of sense. Maybe I’m just a throwback, but I want something I can print out and make notes on as I spread terror and mayhem throughout the galaxy. While the Dotlan Maps site is a fine addition to your toolbox, don’t forget the old school Ombey Maps. Download those HERE. I print out copies of regions that I frequent, making notes as needed which helps me to be more efficacious (ninja word of the day) with my pillaging and plundering.

Where I Keeps Me Ninjer Maps

So now, you’ve found a likely target, a secondary hub that you can have to yourself (relatively-speaking of course), what now? Well, before you go zooming off to riches and glory, spend a little time with EVE-Agents. This is one of many gifts to the EVE Community provided by the venerable Chribba and ever ninja should add it to your IGB bookmarks. What you should do here is simply enter the system in question into the search field and let her rip. You can be more discerning if you wish by limiting the search to say, Level 4 agents since that’s where the big ISK will be made. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see that, a clever ninja (that would be you, the guy reading this far down into the post) can isolate a popular faction, say Caldari Navy, and find pockets of mission runners throughout  New Eden. More on that with the next post. Now go fly it like you stole it.

Ninja Tools, I Gotz

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