EVE Evolved: Three top tips for staying safe from gankers in EVE Online

EVE Online is renowned for its cold, harsh universe and relatively few rules, and we’ve all heard the horror stories over the years of players losing everything they own to one ill-fated encounter with pirates or suicide gankers. There are whole corporations dedicated to ganking miners minding their own business, and the trade hub station in Jita is a hotbed for suicide attacks. If you’re planning to give EVE a try when the new free-to-play upgrades arrive on December 5th, or if you’ve already signed up to get a head-start on the competition, you might be worried about this happening to you.

The fact is that most players will never experience a suicide gank, and it’s relatively easy to avoid becoming the target of one. Bookmarks can be used creatively to give even the most persistent gankers the slip, for example, and the Weapon Safety system can prevent you from accidentally committing a crime and opening yourself up to attack from ordinary players. Remember, though, that managing risk is a core part of EVE, and with that in mind there are some common sense rules that can help you to minimise the risk of attack or the degree of loss should an attack occur.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give three top tips for staying safe in EVE Online that should help even if you’re completely new to the game.

Tip #1: Keep your Weapon Safety on green

In years gone by, if you didn’t know the exact aggression mechanics, then you could be tricked or baited into stealing loot or shooting the wrong thing and then you’d be flagged as a criminal or suspect and anyone could gank you. CCP added the Weapon Safety system several years ago to counteract this, and it’s become one of the most important tools for preventing yourself from being ganked. The Safety can be set to one of three settings:

  • Green / Enable Safety: Your ship will automatically prevent you from taking any actions that would give you a Suspect or Criminal aggression timer.
  • Orange / Partial Safety: Your ship will prevent you from taking actions that would give you a Criminal aggression timer but allow actions that would make you a Suspect such as stealing loot.
  • Red / Disable Safety: Completely disables the weapon safety, allowing you to perform any criminal actions you like.

While the weapon safety won’t stop other people from attacking you, it will stop you from accidentally doing something that will get you killed in high-security space. Always keep your safety on Green unless you’re planning to steal loot in highsec or lowsec, and only set it to red if you intend to engage in lowsec piracy or suicide ganking in highsec. Remember that a green safety will only stop you from performing an action if it would be a crime, so you’ll still be able to defend yourself, attack someone with a suspect timer, fight anyone in nullsec and wormhole space, and steal loot in nullsec and wormhole space.


Tip #2: Using bookmarks to stay safe in Jita

When you warp to a station, you might land a few kilometres from the station’s docking range and your ship will then have to fly forward for a few seconds before it can safely dock. That’s more than enough time for an attentive suicide ganker to attack, something that happens frequently in the Jita trade hub station. The same thing can happen when you exit the station and begin warping somewhere because it will take your ship a few seconds to align in the direction you’re heading and get enough speed to enter warp.

The solution to both problems is to prepare some useful bookmarks ahead of time. Open the People & Places window and click the Add Location button to make a bookmark of your ship’s exact location. Add a bookmark several kilometers inside the station’s docking range and warp to that instead of the station, and you’ll always be able to dock right after you land. Since ships are invulnerable for a few seconds after exiting warp as long as they don’t move, you’ll never be attacked before you dock.

To protect yourself while undocking, set up a bookmark several hundred kilometres directly ahead of the undock point so that when you undock you’re already pointing in that direction and at 100% speed. This way you can warp to the bookmark immediately after undocking and you’ll instantly enter warp and be carried outside the range of any gankers waiting at the undock point. As with warping, your ship is untargettable for a few seconds after undocking as long as you don’t move.


Tip #3: The Golden Rule

From as far back as I can remember, the number one golden rule of EVE has always been “never fly anything you can’t afford to lose.” Every time you see a high-profile gank in which someone loses a ship worth tens of billions of ISK or a freighter containing everything of value they own, remember that the victim chose to fly that ship and carry that cargo. As tempting as it may be to keep investing all of your ISK into one ship, always remember that ships and items in EVE are disposable assets and you could lose them at any time.

The only place your ships are truly safe is docked in a station. Before you undock to do something, consider the risks that are involved and how much ISK you’re willing to bet on that risk. A tricked-out battleship with faction modules may be relatively safe running missions in highsec, but take something cheaper if you’re heading into low-security space for some exploration. Don’t let the risks put you off trying dangerous gameplay, just choose to risk cheaper ships that you can afford to replace several times over.

One of the most important things for new players to grasp in EVE is that it’s up to the individual player to determine how much he or she wants to risk at any one time. It’s tempting to try to stay perfectly safe all the time and keep your expensive ships docked up, but some of the game’s richest rewards will always require taking some risk.

When I see someone recommend that new players should stay in high-security space rather than suggest they just take cheaper ships when they go anywhere dangerous, I’m always reminded of the famous John A. Shedd quote: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!
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