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Pixels and Space Dust Episode VI – Surviving gate camps

Pixels and Space Dust Episode VI 

During our travels in Eve Online we move through hundreds of solar systems. Most of these trip will be pretty uneventful but you won’t always be that lucky. Once you undock in Eve Online you consent to any kind of PVP. Even in hi-sec you can get attacked by PVP pilots. Your survival is dependent on how you act in those situations. This blog post is dedicated to some of the dangers of low-sec and null-sec gate camps that you can come across during your journey in New Eden.

Episode VI – Surviving gate camps

Never fly what you cannot afford to loose, it’s the standard catchphrase I learn all my new members. Danger lurks behind every gate, planet or asteroid field. New Eden is a beautiful, but cruel and unforgiving mistress. We’re going to go over some notable ways that PVP players use. Gate camps, smart bombs and warp disruption spheres, all will be reviewed.

Prepare yourself

The first rule of survival however is to be prepared and to know what’s on your travel route. Websites like DOTLAN, Eve Gate Check and zKill are essential tools for any New Eden capsuleer.
Dotlan shows a lot of info, like the number of pilots that have jumped into the system, and the number of people killed in the system.
Eve Gate Check show you the number of pilots killed on gates along the route you plan in, giving a clear view of any hostile activity. zKill can show you all the loss mails in a system, giving you good intel on what kind of hostile ships you might encounter.

Also, please do not auto-pilot through low-sec or null-sec, you’re most likely going to get shot down. Trying to take freighters or Orcas (or any other slow aligning ship) through low-sec without proper intel, or without a scout, can also end in flames and disaster. 

Gate camps

Probably the first thing you will encounter as a new player are regular gate camps. When a group of pilots occupy and hold on a jump gate it is considered a gate camp. There are several forms of gate camps, but it essentially all comes down to same thing. Gate camps are often seen in low-sec and null-sec, and occasionally also in hi-sec during a wardec.

Regular gate camps

Gate camps

Low-sec gate camp

A regular gate camp is a group of pilots consisting of a combination of high DPS ships, logistic repair ships and ‘fast tackle’ (ships that warp disrupt/scramble). On low-sec gates you’ll mostly find cruiser size (and upward) ships. In low-sec, shooting at a target will mostly get you targeted and attacked by the gate guns. That’s why frigates and destroyers will mostly be absent here. 
In null-sec, there are no gate guns, so frigates and destroyers will most likely be present, to provide fast tackle.

A Heavy Interdictor can also be present, and can load scripts into its warp disruption module. If a script is loaded, there will be no warp disruption sphere present. The module however will function as a ultra long range warp scram, which disallows the use of any propulsion module. You also won’t be able to use an afterburner module. 
When boosted by remote sensor boosters a Heavy Interdictor can have a really fast lock speed, and can instantly grab you.

How to survive

When you know what kind of ships you will encounter then you can take the appropriate ship to get to the destination. You might want to consider warping off as soon as you land into the gate camp. They have already seen that you entered the system, by the ‘gate flash’ animation, so you can delay a little bit, but it won’t really matter that much. When you are tackled then the best course of action is to fly back to the gate as fast as you can. Your attackers will have an aggression timer and cannot use the gate for some time.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to use the gate to jump back to the previous system. Once there immediately warp to a random location in space, like a planet or asteroid field, at a random range (like 50 – 100km off). If you are able to dock up somewhere, do so and please stay there, until the route get safer.

When you are in a combat ship and unable to get back to the gate, killing the tackle is priority number one. Pre align yourself to a station, or other celestial, so you can immediately warp off once you are no longer tackled. After that either kill or target disrupt (with electronic warfare modules/drones) the ships that is tackling you. ECM modules and sensor dampeners can be very useful here. When you are no longer warp disrupted/scrammed warp yourself to safety.

Smart bomb gate camps

Gate camps

Two smart bombing Machariels

Some gate camps do not rely on other ships to ‘tackle’ targets. They don’t even rely on targeting ships at all… Smart bombs are weapons that deal area of effect damage. The range on large smart bombs is 7500m, and enemy pilots will position themselves on the know warp-in points on a gate. These gate camps are particularly dangerous to shuttles, frigates and destroyers. Cruiser size ships and up generally have enough hitpoints to survive a smart bomb gate camp.

The weapon of choice for a well set up smart bomb gate camp is the Machariel battleship. It’s impressive hi-slot layout can fit 8 large smart bombs, which can destroy your ship even when you are manual piloting. The Rokh battleship is also often used for smart bombing.

How to survive

It all depends how many ships are smart bombing, but any shuttle of frigate will most likely die. Your pod will also die pretty quickly after that. A frigate with around 5000 EHP or more can survive the smart bombs. The best course of action when you do successfully activate the gate is to dock up and repair the ship. You can’t do much against this kind of gate camping, you’re just going to have to be lucky.
Personally, I find these one of the most dangerous gate camps you’ll come across in New Eden. 

Warp disruption spheres

Gate camps

Interdictor warp disruption spheres on a gate

Warp disruption spheres, also called bubbles, come in several shapes and sizes, and can only be used in null-sec. A proper set up gatecamp will consist of multiple anchored mobile warp disruption spheres. It’s also possible that pilots only use the Interdictor class ships like the Sabre and Flycatcher. These ships launch interdiction sphere probes, that have a limited life but multiple can be launched into space at once.
Heavy Interdictors like the Onyx have an activated module that generates a warp disruption sphere, that stays around the ship even while it moves.

How to survive

Shuttles are passively nullified to interdiction spheres, so they will travel trough them automatically. The Interdiction Nullifier module can be fitted to Interceptors, Deep Space Transports, Blockade Runners, Strategic Cruisers, Covert Ops, Industrial ships and the Victorious Luxury Yacht. Using this module can get you safely past a ‘bubbled gate’. More info on how this module works can be found here.

If you however fly into a bubble on accident, you need to find a way to get out as fast as possible. If your ship has a cloaking module, activate this as soon as possible. The enemy pilots have already seen where you came into the bubble. Your best chance of survival is to get out and warp to a safe location.
If you do not have a cloak, activate your propulsion module as soon as possible and start moving out of the bubble and get safe. If you start flying into the direction of a celestial you can warp there as soon as you exit the bubble.

Containers/wrecks/drones on gate camps

Gate camps

Containters positioned around a gate

On rare occasions, pilots scatter anchored containers around gates. These containers are set up in a way that your ship decloaks automatically when you jump into the system. They sometimes also prevent you from having a clear path to the next gate, increasing align time. Drones can also be either flying around the gate, or can be strategically abandoned in space. Any ship that has been destroyed leaves a wreck and perhaps also a corpse. Al these items in space will form a cluster of objects that will box you in and decrease your survival.

Combine this with warp disruption spheres, and you are caught in a beautiful but deadly ‘work of art’. Your cloaky ship will get decloaked in seconds, and with all the stuff around you it’s difficult to find a clear ‘exit’ out of the disruption sphere.

How to survive

Without spheres you need to be very lucky that you are spawned on the other side of the gate with a clear path to either the next gate, or a random celestial in space. If there is a disruption sphere up, and you have no cloak or interdiction nullifier module then get back to the gate as fast as you can. 
If you can cloak or have an interdiction nullifier, use these and try to warp off.

There is always the possibility of getting to close to an object, or bumping into one, so you have to rely on luck as well. It takes some time to set up a gate camp like this, and some capsuleers are masters in building these death traps. Do whatever you can, but be prepared to have the journey end here.

Hi-sec gate camps

Gate camps

Small hi-sec gate camp

We’re gonna talk about regular hi-sec gate camps. Ganking (purposely suicide killing other ships) will be discussed in a later article. A notable thing to point out, is that hi-sec gate camps work a lot like low-sec. The exception here is that during a wardec, any war target is a valid target and Concord and the gate guns will not intervene. So any kind of ship, from frigate to battleship, is able to be present. Frigates and destroyers have a particularly fast lock speed, so these ships can easily tackle you, while the bigger ships take you down.

Warp disruption spheres are not allowed in hi-sec, so you don’t need to fear these. Smart bombs are not allowed but can be activated. This is a criminal offence, and Concord will warp in and kill the one that activated the smart bomb. It’s highly unlikely a regular gate camp in hi-sec will use smart bombs. Because it’s relatively ‘safe’ to have a hi-sec gate camp set up (only the wardecced party can attack you legally) it’s quite possible to see multiple battleships and t2 cruisers present. These kind of gate camps often catch traveling capsuleers or people hauling assets.

How to survive

The first thing to check is whether or not your corporation/alliance has been wardecced. You then need to do some research on the attacking party. What kind of ships they fly and what are their ‘hunting grounds’. The best advice I can give you, is to use another character to take over the hauling, mining and missioning for the duration of the wardec. If this is not possible, then always travel manually, and use cloaky haulers (like the Crane or Prorator) to haul assets. Travel either in shuttles or frigates, they have a fast align time are a low signature radius.

If you are caught in a gate camp, go back to the gate as quickly as you can, jump through and dock up. You will either need to find another route to travel through, or continue with your plans another day.

Verdict

The art of surviving a gate camp all comes down to your knowledge of the conditions of the route you’re taking. If you know there is a gate camp currently set up, try to find a different route. Also try to be in a ship that can survive a gate camp. Like I said, don’t expect an Orca to survive a trip through 5 lowsec systems.
Scouting ahead is also a good idea, either with the help of a friend or another one of your characters. 

Every gate camp is survivable, but it all comes down to planning, your knowledge of ingame mechanics, how you react to the situation presented to you and a big dose of luck.

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