Part of a series on
My First Fleet Op
The practice of sending out characters in fast, survivable ships to strategically assess the areas around a fleet or location. At its most basic level, it is usually a newer player in a fast frigate staying a jump or two ahead of a larger fleet in order to give advance notice of hostile contact. At its more advanced levels, it involves players in cloaked ships assessing and locating enemy fleets, or evaluating the state of enemy POS.
Fleet commanders will often ask for newbies to volunteer to scout. This usually involves staying one jump ahead of the main fleet; you warp to the next gate, and as soon as your fleet enter local you jump through to the next system. When you jump into a local filled with hostile pilots, you should calmly assess your situation for a moment: are you inside of a warp disruption "bubble"? How many people are in the local window, and are any of them friendly? Are you amidst a hostile gatecamp?
Because you are in a fast frigate, it is relatively easy to "hold cloak", that is, not move or do anything other than use your scanner so that you remain cloaked, wait thirty or so seconds until your session timer expires (without this pause, the gate will not let you back through it), microwarpdrive back to the gate you came through, and jump out to escape. It is unlikely that the enemy will be able to even lock you, let alone kill you, when you have properly executed this maneuver.
In order to be more efficient at escaping gatecamps, you can turn on a session change timer by hitting escape, selecting the General Settings tab, and selecting the "Show Session-Change Timer" option. Do not "break cloak" that is, move after jumping into a gate camp, until after the session change timer is elapsed. Note that you may remain "jump cloaked" for up to a minute, and that you are completely invulnerable while so doing --even titan doomsdays will not affect you.
Note that you must be on teamspeak in order to be an effective scout, text-based relaying is too slow.
Assessing Enemy Fleet Size
Saying that there is "a huge enemy fleet" is unhelpfully ambiguous. Huge has been used by newbies to refer to fleets with less than ten pilots, or more than a hundred. Thus, the following is a good rule of thumb:
- Small = 1-10 ships.
- Medium = 10-30 ships.
- Large = 30-100 ships.
- Huge = 100+ ships.
A more precise count is always desirable, but adhering to the above when in a hurry is all right, too.
Assessing Enemy Fleet Capabilities
Under normal scouting circumstances, the most important things to notice are the size of an enemy gang, whether he has a "warp bubble" set up, whether any interdictors are present, and how many battleships are present. A good way to do this if the enemy gang is within scan range, is to open your scanner and take a 360 degree scan. The list of ships that appears will remain until you scan again or close the window, even if you leave the system. The ships that a newbie scout should especially note are as follows:
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3|
More advanced scouting will involve using a ship that can warp while cloaked, such as a Covert Ops, Force Recon, or Stealth Bomber to more accurately assess an enemy fleet's composition and location. This will often involve following the gang, dodging death at every turn, in order to maintain an accurate assessment of the enemy fleet's activities.
Other things than an advanced scout might be asked to do include probing out hidden enemy fleets in a system, skimming the list of enemy pilots for likely enemy fleet commanders, or obtaining "warp-ins". Probing is more complicated than I can well explain here, and so I leave that for another article.
Enemy fleet commanders are high-value targets, because killing them will often disrupt an enemy gang's ability to function effectively. Unfortunately, the potential lists of enemy fleet commanders vary depending on whom we are fighting and are based largely on a scout's personal experience with that foe.
Warp-ins are when you locate yourself in relation to the enemy fleet so that your allies may warp to you at a distance and be ideally positioned in relation to the enemy. To achieve a warp-in on a hostile force, position yourself a specific distance from the hostiles (generally 15-20km), and put the hostile force directly between you, and a specified celestial object (usually the gate from which the friendly fleet will be entering the system, or a moon-based POS at which the friendly force is waiting). When the friendly force warps to you at the distance that separates you from the hostile force, they will warp in directly on top of them. Long range friendlies will be able to warp at maximum 100km minus the distance between you and the hostile force, so the closer you are to the enemy fleet (without being decloaked), the better.
In the given diagram, the 10km distance may be replaced based on the needs of your fleet. For example, you may be asked to provide a "grid-load" spot, something like 300km away from the enemy fleet. The fleet members then warp to the grid-loading spot until their computers have rendered the grid, and then warp to the enemy.
With the introduction of cov-ops cloak-using stealth bombers (that can warp while cloaked), some scouts may also elect to perform bombing runs to harass the enemy. As of this writing, this is not a standard scout operation, but it does seem to be a promising development.
An effective scout is not idle unless ordered by the FC to watch something. If the FC is not having you do anything at any given time, here are some things you can quietly do in the background:
- Search for Capital ships in vulnerable positions, such as carriers repairing POS structures or Capitals bumped away from the shields after jumping to a cynosural field (aka cyno).
- Probe for logged off or "safe-spotted" ships in space.
- Look for significant enemy fleet activity or changes in enemy fleet behavior such as beginning to align or warping to another location.
- Look for the Enemy fleet FC and his scout(s) (if known) and get details of their ship and relevant habits, their movements will probably predict the movements of the main fleet body.
- Look at cynos as they occur.
- Look for changes in POS configurations, such as the addition of modules or un-anchoring POS.
- Update the POS app regarding enemy POS.
- Periodically recheck things you looked at previously to ensure that their status has not changed.
If you find something significant or vulnerable, you will have no shortage of bloodthirsty goons to kill your find for you. Use your judgment, however, don't blurt out a warpin to the fleet right as the FC is in the middle of something. Ask your FC if he wishes to engage your target using a private communication method in this situation, especially regarding capital ships.
The Scout's Lexicon
- Gang: A fleet with less than fifty people. Outdated due to game changes, but sometimes used by older players.
- Gate Camp: A group of enemy pilots have set up around a gate in order to attack anybody that comes through.
- Grid: A section of space that the eve server considers to be one area, in which all ships may see each other. If you fly off a grid, you will no longer be able to see things from the previous grid in space or on your overview. A typical grid is probably about 300km cubed.
- Hostile System: The system in question contains a significant enemy presence.
- POS: Player-owned starbase.
- Tower: see POS.