Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Dark Arts: A Newbie's Handbook for Evil Shenanigans

Even Newbies can be Space Pirates
How to be a successful eve pirate with less than a million SP

Lately I have been seeing a lot of threads on the forums to the tune of "I'm a newbie and I want to be a pirate", and I've been thinking a lot about my own early days in the game. Before I had even finished the tutorials I heard that it was possible to pirate other players in this game, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. Then I fell in with a bad crowd (EVE University) who fooled me into thinking that the pirate lifestyle was either somehow morally wrong or that it took a lot of SP to do it right. The first argument is downright silly, but you will hear it a lot if you choose this lifestyle. EVE is a role playing game, and it is always fun to role play the bad guy. There is absolutely nothing that you can do in an in-game context that is immoral or unethical, so long as you are not breaching the EULA or Rules of Conduct. The second argument is also untrue - there is no SP requirement for being a pirate.

E-Uni also fooled me into subscribing to a fallacious notion of what an EVE pirate actually is. The myth that I bought into was that piracy consisted of living in lowsec, having -10 sec status, and tackling people and holding them for ransom. This is, indeed, one form of piracy, but it is far from the whole picture. I started my pirating career in low and nullsec, and found that while I was having fun there, I couldn't afford to support myself financially by criminal activity alone, so I made the move to pirating in highsec so that I could pay the bills without needing to resort to any sort of PVE or otherwise "legitimate" forms of making isk. This has worked out well, because highsec piracy is extremely lucrative compared to low or null.

I define EVE piracy, personally, as any act that involves blowing up other people's ships when they haven't consented to a PvP encounter, or making off with their isk or possessions either through theft, intimidation, or deception while flying imaginary spaceships. That covers a lot of ground, I know. Piracy, in all these forms, is a noble and rewarding occupation, and it is worth arguing that it is the exact thing which makes EVE special and distinguishes it from other games. As a new player, you can participate and theoretically be successful in any form of piracy that you can imagine. However, in my experience there are some forms of piracy that work quite well for new players and others which don't, which may lead you to get frustrated and give up on it. My focus here today will be to discuss what you can do with reasonable odds of success. With a little luck and perseverance, you should be able to swear off carebearing altogether and begin funding your EVE career solely off the tears of your victims.

A pirate is a higher class of EVE player than the common rabble. He talks smack in local with wit and coherence while the carebears are fuming and cursing at him. His success is often based on superior situational awareness and understanding of game mechanics as much as it is on SP. He has the correct frame of mind to be an EVE predator, understanding that his ships are disposable tools, and perhaps most importantly, the pirate has friends. The carebear, by way of caparison, may have a lot of SP and a large, shiny ship, but he is only dimly aware what is going on around him most of the time, and when he loses a ship he cries as if you had murdered a member of his family. He also has no friends, generally speaking, preferring to play EVE as a single player game. This is what makes him so vulnerable to attack. If you intend to succeed at this, it is important that you do some homework to prepare yourself. While this may seem boring, in the long run it will serve you well.

The overview is that big rectangular spreadsheet in the upper right corner of your screen that you can see when you are in space. It lists all sorts of information about the things around you. You can customize this to show only the information you need without a lot of distracting crap. Or, if you are lazy like me, you can download somebody else's customized overview settings. Lately I have been playing with Sarah's Overview Pack and like it very much. Read the instructions carefully and don't neglect to follow all the steps of the unfucking process. (I just had to use the word "unfucking", it is my favorite new word). Once you have your basic overview and start getting out there and commiting crimes, you can further customize it for your own specific needs.

Learn what this is and how to use it. The directional scanner is one of the pirate's most useful tools, and one gives us a huge advantage over the average care bear, who is only dimly aware that such a thing exists and has no idea what to do with it. Basically, dscan will show you what it going on around you in space that isn't close enough to see on your overview. This is how you hunt people down efficiently, and how you avoid being caught by people who are hunting you.

I'm not going to spell everything out for you - do your homework. Check out EVE University's Guide. Learn to love your dscanner. Keep it open all the time and spam the scan button constantly. Practice finding people when you are bored. Get comfortable with it.

Your most immediate source of intel is always your local chat. Unless you are in a wormhole, your local chat window will list the names of all the pilots in system with you. Separate this chat window from all the others and keep it open at all times. There are a number of other tools that the game gives you to for gathering intel. Play around with the features of the in-game map (press F10), and you will be amazed how much information it will give you. You also have a watchlist and locator agents to help you hunt specific individuals. There are great out-of-game tools as well, like Dotlan and Eve-Kill. This is just scratching the surface of what is out there.

We all need a friend sometimes...

The last thing that I would argue is necessary to being a successful pirate at an early age is friends. I'm not saying that it is impossible to go it completely alone, just that it is much more difficult and probably less fun. Much of what you will be doing here is coldly dicking over other players and corporations. Pretty much all of EVE will soon be fair game for you - but nonetheless, I urge you to find a group of people who are cool with you being a dirty criminal, and to be honest and straightforward with those guys. A lot of the acts of piracy we are going to talk about are really meant to be done in a group. Your friends could be a corporation or alliance, or it could be an informal community like James 315's New Order or the Belligerent Undesirables.

If you are looking at corporations and unsure which one is for you, my suggestion would be Brave Newbies Inc, for those of you who are truly new characters looking to start a career in piracy. They are easy to join (just click apply), have pretty much no rules, and have a great community with more than enough people to accomplish anything you want to attempt. There are other options out there too. I'm told Fweddit is pretty good if you want to do some faction warfare too and if you post on reddit. Many of the null sec blocs are very supportive of their newbros causing mayhem in the galaxy as well, if you happen to have an in with them. RvB is also fine.

A good group can help you by providing the manpower and support that you need to pull these things off. They can also give you advice and information that will be useful as you go along. They'll teach you how to fit your ships competently and direct you to lots of out-of-game tools and resources. They'll teach you how to survive and get around in low, null, and holes. Just beware if they start saying things like "You can't..." or "You shouldn't..." If you start hearing things like that very often, cross them off your list of friends and start looking for any corp assets laying around that you can steal or destroy.

Evil Shenanigans and Wanton Bad Behavior

Easy Mode

Ninja Looting/Baiting
Ninja looting is the practice of scanning down highsec mission-runners with combat scanner probes and warping into their mission pockets to steal the loot and/or salvage the wrecks. It is a traditional form of piracy with a long history in EVE, and can be quite lucrative. The carebears also hate it, which makes for lively local chat and bounty mails in your inbox. Ninja baiting is an extension of this, which some individuals have elevated to an art. It is the act whereby you taunt the mission runners into shooting at you, which creates a limited engagement and allows you to shoot back without getting CONCORDed. Then you kill them or hold their ship for ransom. Or both.

Suicide Ganking
Suicide ganking is another pretty easy way to ruin another player's day for fun and profit in highsec. It is easy, anyway, if you have a realistic sense of what you want to do and enough people to pull it off. The execution is simple - you find a target and blow it up before CONCORD can show up and destroy you, then you have another character loot the wrecks and run off with the loot. As easy as this is, a lot of people screw it up when they first attempt it. You basically just have to understand the math behind it. If you look up the info about your ship, you can see your rate of fire and damage per volley. You then look up CONCORD response times for the system you are in and calculate how many volleys you will get. If your total damage exceeds the EHP of the target ship, then you know you will win. Or if you are lazy, let Psychotic Monk do the math for you.

If you are doing this for pure profit, then you best bet will be to target haulers, or alternately to hunt mission-runners and incursion runners. For years, miner ganking was a fun and profitable way to pass an afternoon playing EVE. Unfortunately, the game developers hate it when people have fun, so they tweaked the game mechanics in order to make it pretty difficult to actually turn a profit from ganking miners. Then along came James 315, the Savior of Highsec. He reimburses your losses from miner ganking, making it once again a profitable occupation. Check out his website at for more info. Click the "Gank" tab to get info about how to train your Catalyst pilot and how to get involved in his movement.

Slightly Harder

Corporate Infiltration
I call this a "slightly harder" activity, but it can either be very easy or very hard, depending on your specific marks and the goals that you set for yourself. The basic idea is simple - join a corporation with the intention of doing them harm. This can mean going on a wanton killing spree of your corp-mates, protected by the game mechanic which allows you to shoot your corpmates in highsec without getting CONCORDed. This is called "going on Safari," or "AWOXing". Other possibilities are corporate theft or abusing their trust to scam the members out of their isk and assets. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the extent of your own evil nature. And as you are playing a role-playing game, there is no reason to allow your conscience to limit you.

Corporate infiltration can be done in high, low, or nullsec, or in wormholes. Wormhole corporations in particular are quite vulnerable to it, as they are forced to live out of, and store all their assets in, Player Owned Starbases (POSes), which tend to be vulnerable to in-corp thefts.

Psychotic Monk recently wrote an excellent guide to Safariing highsec carebear corps which is well worth a read.

Reverse AWOXing
Hey there, new recruit...

Closely related to the above, this is another particularly evil stunt that can make you lots of isk, get you lots of kills, and earn you lots of pretty much harmless enemies. Train the skill Corporation Management to 1, and form your own corporation. Give it a name and description that will be appealing to your chosen class of targets. All this should cost an initial investment of 1.6 million isk or so.

Say, for example, you want to target miners. So you fit yourself out a nice destroyer to do your killing, you form your corp and name it something like "AWOX Industries". Then you write a corp description that says something along the lines of "We are a young corp focused on Mining, PVE, and PVP. We run weekly mining ops. Currently recruiting miners, as well as Orca and freighter pilots." Then you pitch the corp a bit until somebody applies. When they do, make up a bullshit mining op or something to lure them in, then tackle them, kill their drones if they have them, and hold their ship for ransom. Then kill them and loot/salvage the wreck. And repeat. 

A great trick is to give them a corporate role, which prevents them from leaving the corp without waiting for a 24 hour timer to run out first. Then you can try to get them to pay you to boot them from the corporation. Until they pay, you follow them around and kill them every time they undock. The carebears will love this, trust me.

You can also use this tactic in a low sec or nullsec context to great effect. "Sure, I'll light a cyno for you, buddy, just give me a few minutes (to batphone my friends...)" You may have to look a little harder to find a target for that sort of thing, but it can be well worth it.

Moderately Difficult

Fishing for Bears
This is lowsec piracy at it's finest, and can be adapted to be done in null or wormholes as well. To pull this off requires a bit of patience, but it can be fun and rewarding. The basic idea is that you find a pocket of lowsec where there is PVE activity happening, and not a lot of competition from other pirates.

Move to the area, get to know it, make lots of bookmarks. Then you wait patiently for a carebear to come along to run a mission or to pick up his planetary materials, and you use dscan and combat scanner probes to hunt them down. When you find him, warp in on them with a combat ship, tackle them and try to extract ransom. A single newbie in a competently fit frigate or destroyer should be able to kill cruisers and battlecruisers this way - remember that most of them will be fit for PVE, not PVP, so it is easier than you might think. Two or three newbies in frigates or dessies can take on most battleships.

I expect that when the Odyssey expansion is released in June we will see an uptick in the number of Bears coming to lowsec to run exploration sites. We should all be prepared to feast upon their tears. Exploration ships often use covops cloaking devices and can be slippery, but they do need to drop their cloaks to actually run sites, so that is where you need to catch them. One way to potentially speed up the process is to proactively scan down and bookmark all the exploration signatures in the system you are working when you first set up for the day, so that you can find these Bears quickly when you get your window of opportunity.

Here is a link to another article I wrote that talks about this in some more detail.

Incidentally, you can also fish for bears in this manner in wormholes or nullsec. It may be a bit more challenging due to the fact that many of your targets will be more situationally aware, but can be more rewarding as well.

This can be done in low or null, and even in highsec under wardecs. For the purposes of this article, I'm mainly thinking of lowsec, though. Gatecamping is simply the practice of camping out in combat ships on a gate, preferably on a trade route or chokepoint in the region and waiting for targets to walk right into you, then blow them up. 

The thing that makes lowsec gatecamping difficult for newbies is the sentry guns. Every gate is surrounded by sentry guns that will shoot at you if you aggress someone who is not considered a valid target (outlaw or wartarget) within 150km of them. If you are in a frigate or destroyer, they will pop you almost instantly. In a tanked cruiser, you should have enough time to warp away before you die. If you warp away, then warp right back, you can resume combat with the same target without taking more gate gun fire.

For newbies to be successful gatecamping, you need to have a fairly large group, generally, and primarily be in cruisers. Warp disruptors are good for the added useful range, stasis webifiers are good to prevent your targets from just burning back to the gate and jumping back through, ECM is great for making sure they don't shoot back at you, and sensor boosters are awesome for making sure that you can lock and tackle them before they can warp off. Your goal in most cases is to blow them up as quickly as you can, not wasting time on ransom, because they may use that time to get back to the gate and run away. As newbies, you should all be in cruisers, with everybody shooting at the targets and warping away then bouncing back as you start taking gate gun damage. A well set up gate camp will also have a cloaked scout sitting on the other side to tell you what will be coming through, so you can get yourselves ready or run away as the situation requires.

Camping in nullsec is also very doable for newbies. In some ways it is better, actually, because you don't need to worry about gate guns, so you can bring out your fast tackle frigates. You can also set up mobile warp disruptors to prevent people from warping off, or catch people warping into your camp from your own system. The drawback is that you seem to catch less random jackoffs from highsec when you are camping in null, and more PvP fleets.

Fucking Hard (for newbies, anyway)

Some people have made an art of aggressive war declarations as a form of piracy. Wardec somebody, and you can blow up or ransom their ships at will in high security space. Or hold their corp for ransom and get them to pay up to drop the wardec. I've tried running these sorts of wardecs myself while leading a corp full of newbies and haven't had any real success with it, hence the classification of "fucking hard". If you find the right targets, this could potentially be a gold mine, but it has some pretty big drawbacks where new players are concerned.

First, to declare war, you need to have your own corporation. That isn't particularly hard or expensive, but then you come to the wardec fee. It starts at 50 million isk per week and scales up with larger corporations. So just to break even you need to take in that much profit each week. That wouldn't be so bad if, having found a juicy target corp and declared war, you could then be sure of getting kills. Unfortunately, though, the defender needs to consent to actually participate in the war. If they say, "Nah...don't feel like a war this week..." then they can just disband and reform their corp to opt out of the whole thing.

All that said, highsec wardecs are a long standing tradition of EVE piracy. You, too, can participate in these and turn a profit if you are bold, clever, and determined. Here is some more reading on the subject. And some more.

Random screenshot, cuz EVE is so pretty...

The life of an EVE pirate is, perhaps, the only worthwhile life in this internet spaceship game we all love. Or, at any rate, it it better than pretty much everything else you could do. Too many EVE players fall into the traps that carebears lay for them, being sucked down the road of doing PVE for their isk and turning up their noses at "unethical gameplay" or "abusing broken game mechanics to grief people". These are just the things that useless carebears say and do to make themselves feel special. You all want to be pirates. I want you all to be pirates. I even believe that CCP wants you all to be pirates - if they actually gave a crap about PVE then the Bears wouldn't still be repeating the same couple dozen missions over and over again, CCP would have given them some new ones sometime in the last i-don't-know-how-many years.

The conventional wisdom has long been that piracy wasn't something new players could do, but I reject that. Others have said that you can do it, but that you need an isk-generating alt running missions or mining to pay for your combat losses. I reject that as well. By starting with the activities I have talked about and not limiting yourself to one zone of space or one narrow definition of piracy, you should be able to make 100% of the isk you need from theft, extortion, and imaginary spaceship violence without any real difficulty. All you need is a little bit of initiative, a little bit of luck, a little bit of imagination, and a willingness to gleefully fuck over other players in every way that you can.

Good luck, newbies, and fly boldly.


  1. Reverse AWOXing : First paragraph is repeated twice

    Other than that good reading :)

    1. Oops, don't know how I missed that. Fixed it, thanks bro.

  2. This is a fantastic guide, bookmarked, read and reread. Thank you.

    My favourite hobby of the last month or so has been a combination of suicide ganking and ninja looting, or what I like to call "sumo looting".

    Scan down a Noctis, warp in with a T2 Cat (or a couple of T1 metas), pop that baby like the Christmas cracker it so closely resembles and see what falls out.

    It's fun because not only do you get to make things go kablooey but you also get to pillage all the loot and salvage that someone else has been painstakingly gathering from mission sites.

    1. That's what we call emergent gameplay. I've been meaning to do some Noctis ganking for some time - sounds like fun.

  3. Well written, accurate guide. Bravo

  4. How is it I've only just found this blog?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Haedonism Bot, brilliant guide - and nice resources too, its a shame so many guides have fallen out of date.

    I love the idea of reverse AWOXing - And may have to try this =]

    1. Thanks for the feedback, I recently came back to EVE after a break, and at some point soon I'll see about updating these guides.