There are two roles that GS Reconnaissance fills: Intelligence Gathering, and Fleet Scouting. This guide attempts to educate on both subjects, but many of these tactics and skills can only be refined by practice, both in a friendly system, and while on the move in a hostile system.
In order to be a basic scout/recon gatherer, you should have more than just the bare minimum of skill that get you in the hull, and using the covops cloak. At a minimum, you should have the following skills before you realistically consider attempting either role. Note: The prerequisites for each of these skills can be found using EVEMon. Chances are, you have at least some of the prerequisites done already. It's highly recommended that you take these skills to IV, possibly even V, if you plan on spending a large amount of time in either role. You should also increase basic fitting skills to IV or V, as fitting modules on either hull type can be difficult without excellent skills.
As a minimum, you'll want to consider one of the following combinations of ship skills:
- Racial Frigate V
- Covert Ops III
- Covert Ops IV
- Recon Ships III
- Astrometrics IV
- Astrometric Pinpointing III
- Astrometric Rangefinding III
- Astrometric Acquisition III
- Cloaking IV
- Cynosural Field Theory III
- Any speed related skills (example: space ship command)
- Fitting skills (Engineering V, you will already have electronics V)
In order to fill the roles of fleet scout and/or reconnaissance gatherer, there are really only three types of hulls that you want to use: Covops & Force Recon & Stealthbomber, as they are the most effective ships for the rule which can use a Covops Cloaking Device II, which is essential to moving around without being killed. While it is possible to use other ships, it is highly recommended that you train into one of these hulls:
Covert Ops hulls are T2 frigates, with bonuses to fit the covops cloak, and to reduce scan time when using probes.
Stealthbomber hulls are T2 frigates, with bonuses to fit the covops cloak, torpedo damage and bomb damage. They can be configured to fit an Expanded Probe Launcher (required for Combat Probes).
Force Recon hulls are T2 cruisers, with varying bonuses aimed more at combat than intel gathering. Depending on your mission, you may want to consider leaving your Force Recon behind, and bringing the Covops: They're more costly, don't move as fast, and warp bubbles can be more deadly. However, they do have the capability of inflicting decent damage, so it may be beneficial to take one.
When fitting either hull for intel gathering or fleet scouting, the essential modules are a Covops Cloaking Device II, an MWD or Afterburner, and a Expanded Probe Launcher I. After these three things, you are generally looking for modules that help you move faster, scan quickly and accurately, or give you more utility. Great fittings can be found on the individual ship wiki pages, linked to above.
While acting as a scout for an op, the normal rules of Teamspeak don't always apply. Remember that you are the eyes and ears of the FC, and if you see or hear something, you need to report it to them immediately. This is important, so I'll explain it again:
If you see something important, say something over Teamspeak
You may or may not be using Command Chat, but you should set it up regardless, and read the TS wiki page to understand how to use it. If you are using command chat, those not in command chat will not hear you, so they might not know to shut up. If the situation warrants it, you may get to tell all of the faggots mucking up the channel to shut up. Be warned, however, that if it's not important, the FC might not like it. Use at your own discretion. I'll repeat for the TL;DR crowd:
If you're one jump ahead of the fleet, and run into a huge gatecamp, yet TS is being fagged up, tell everyone to shut the fuck up for a moment
Basic Tactics & Techniques
Gate Cloaking is something most of you should be aware of. For 30 seconds after you jump through a gate, you will have a cloak on you. This is a magic form of cloaking: you can't be decloaked by something coming within 2000m, you can't even be damaged. This cloak will remain until either the time runs out, or you begin to move. While the gatecloak is active, you cannot target anything, nor can you activate any modules (including a cloaking module).
Cloaking via a module requires the following conditions: You must not be in a gatecloak, nothing may be targeting you, and you must not be within 2500m of anything (Including Gas Clouds). While your module cloak is active, you cannot do the following: Use a gate, target anything, activate modules, dock. There are only 2 ways to break this cloak: Deactivate the module, be within 2500m of a gate, or get within 2000m of anything else.
Traversing a Gate
When you jump through a gate, you arrive on the other side of the gate in a gatecloak. Gather your bearings, assess the situation, and decide on which way you want to leave the area. Once this decision is made, start moving in the direction that you want to go, and immediately after, engage your cloak. This requires learning some timing, so it is recommended that you practice a few times in a friendly area.
When launching probes, you should find an isolated place to do so. Planets tend to be empty most of the time, and launching probes in safespots can be dangerous, as the enemy can probe out your safespots via your probes. Get up to maximum speed, break cloak, launch your probes quickly, and use your MWD/Afterburner. As soon as you clear the 2500m, re-engage your cloak, and start your scan.
There are several ways to gather intelligence on hostiles within a system: Through the local channel, from the scanner, or from your overview.
- Local Channel
- Shows all hostiles in local
- Instant updating, requires relatively low skill to utilize
- With the portrait pack installed, identification of hostiles is extremely quick
- Shows everyone in local, meaning more clutter, and that the enemy can use it as well
- Only shows player names, inability to extract enemy fleet composition
- No locations, and hostiles can be docked, AFK.
- Does not work in W-Space
- Shows ship types
- Can discern fleet composition
- Information does not disappear until you scan again
- Does not show player names (except for those who forgot to rename their ships)
- Shows empty ships, can fool you into thinking there's a larger fleet that what's there
- Ability to link player names to ship types
- Eyes on, can tell if ships are aligned, if they're active
- Gives the ability to call primaries before your fleet warps in
- Most Dangerous, though still relatively safe if you're cloaked
After identifying the hostiles, it is important to provide a clear, concise report on what you've found. The basic information that should be relayed is:
- System name
- Number of hostiles
- (Hostiles' alliance)
- Ship types
- (Pilots of note)
- Location within the system
- Situation (What are they doing?)
You should also relay "no eyes" if they are not on your overview, and you are relaying information from scanning, or local chat. As for pilots of note, most FC's don't want the names of everyone in a 40 man hostile fleet. Good names to pass on are Cap Ship Pilots, Dictor Pilots, and anything else that would make a good kill (Or they ask for specifically).
- "RYC, 15 BoB, no eyes"
- "3 LV in XV-. DoctorFaggot, BlueNose, ChowDowns, no eyes"
- "5E-, 10 LV on the 1V- gate, Malediction, 2x Thorax, Stabber, Rupture, Crow, Flycatcher, Drake, Brutix, Dominix"
Reporting Ship Types
When reporting hostiles, you will often times be asked for the composition of the enemy fleet. Below are six overview presets that will help you categorize the enemy fleet, to quickly report back to your FC. There are two fairly effective ways of identifying shiptypes, so that you can report them: Via the overview, or via the directional scanner.
|Capsule||Assault Ship||Carrier||Heavy Interdictor||Battlecruiser||Command Ship|
|Mining Barge||Rookie||Titan||Stealth Bomber|
|Transport Ship||Black Ops Battleship|
This will allow you to select a preset, and immediately tell how many of what role are in the enemy fleet. This does not account for comedy fittings, such as the Battle Badger, etc.
The directional scanner will show shiptypes of anything that is in the results. This does not allow you to match names to shiptypes reliably, so if the FC requires this, you will have to use the overview.
After identifying and reporting hostiles, the next step is often to locate the hostiles. This is most often done by scanning. What do you do after you find the hostiles though? Creating warp-ins allow the friendly force to warp at specific distances from the enemy, engaging at ranges that the enemy force is unprepared for. There are two basic ways to create a warp-in:
The first method is fairly risk free to friendly forces, but is slow, and smart hostile forces will continually move to make it hard to set up a warp-in on them. 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. When the friendly force warps to you at the distance that seperates 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 closer is better.
The second method is much quicker than the first, but has limited application, and is riskier. For this method to work, the hostile force must be using a warp-in that was made by warping directly from a celestial object to another celestial object at a specific distance. If you can identify the two celestial objects, and the distance at which the hostile force jumped, the friendly fleet can do the same. The risk involved comes from the hostile force potentially having ships near the celestial object that was warped from.
Navigating Bubble Camps
The first thing you should do upon entering a system is to take note of your situation and surroundings. You have 30 seconds from the time you enter system until the gatecloak wears off, and freaking out will not help if you happen to land in a bubble. If you jump into a warp bubble, you need to plot a course that will quickly get you out of the bubble, but more importantly, won't bring you within 2500m of anything. Once you have selected your route deactivate your gate cloak by double clicking the appropriate direction, activate your cloak and then immediately (overheat and) activate your MWD. Your cloak and MWD will cycle simultaneously, giving you ten seconds of boosted speed before you start to slow down. If you're lucky, either no one will see where you decloaked, or there will not be anything fast enough to catch you. If this is not the case, watch for the direction that the ships are coming from, and set your heading to 90 in any direction from that. The fast ships will continue along their previous trajectory, and you will be flying away from them. You will only get one activation from your speed mod, but it's still very helpful, especially if it's a MWD.
As for a bubble camp in the same system as you, on a gate you'd like to use: The best advice is to find a way around that gate, via the mapbrowser. Should this not be a possibility, attempt to warp to the gate at maximum, from a non standard point. This way, if you do get pulled into the bubble, you won't be in the obvious position where people may be placed to decloak you. From here, slowboat to the gate, then warp through, satisfied that if they're not paying attention, they'll think the gate activation is someone coming through from the other side.
If you absolutely, positively have to make it through a bubble camp safely, or get eyes on it, get within an AU or so of it, then use an imprecise probe like Spook or Fathom to pick up the ships at the camp. Find a result near the gate (same distance from you as the gate) with a large deviation value and warp to it. This will (hopefully) land you on the gate grid, but far away from the gate. From there you can bookmark that spot for future reference and navigate through the camp at your leisure.
To create a bookmark, open up your "People & Places" window, and click "Add Bookmark" at the bottom of the screen. A dialog box will pop up, asking you to label the bookmark, and add notes if you wish. The placement of the bookmark is the spot where your ship is when you click "Ok" in this box.
Bookmarks are useful for a few things: Safespots, observation points, and warpins
Safespots are bookmarks that are not on the same grid as any celestial object. While most of the normal rules of safespotting will not apply to you (as you have a cloak), knowing how to make an effective one quickly for the fleet to hide at momentarily is invaluable.
You will often be tasked with watching a target in a system, and with the possibility of warp bubbles being placed near the target at any time, your cloak will not always help you. Observation points help with avoiding being sucked into a bubble, yet still getting close enough to observe the gate, either through scanning or the overview.
The first type of observation point you can create is one that is off grid, either by warping to the object while you know the hostile presence is low, and creating a bookmark when you are between 1500km and 1au away from the gate, or warping to a celestial object that is near the target, and burning away from it a good distance.
The second type of observation point you can set up is one that is on the same grid as the target. The key to doing this is to make a safespot that, no matter where you jump from in system, you will not be in-line with the target, and thus not inline with a potential warp bubble. You should aim to make this safespot at least 150km from the target, as this will help you avoid getting decloaked by others warping 100km from the target, as well as allow you to warp directly to the target if needed (Gates, Stations, etc).
It can be useful to bookmark often used hostile sniper spots, as well as spots that can be used as friendly sniper spots, around any area that might see action. Gates, Stations, and POSes are all viable targets. Depending on how often an area sees combat, 1 spot might be sufficient. For areas that see heavy combat, 6-12 spots may be what is required. Use your own best judgment.
It is vital that you have a good grasp on the concepts of scanning, and that you be able to scan out a target in a reasonable amount of time. There is a good guide on how to go about Scouting for POSes.
Advanced Tactics & Techniques
Warp Partial Distance
If you need to warp close to, but not all the way to, an object that is too far for your directional scanner to work, here's what to do:
- Start moving your ship in a direction away from your target
- Initiate warp towards your target (or even better, some other object even further away) -- this will drain part of your capacitor. The only way to do this effectively is to select the warp target in the overview and use the quick link to warp to it in the tool bar above the overview. The right click menu can take too long for small warps.
- Immediately spam Ctrl-Space to stop your ship
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you're out of cap -- note how much each aborted warp drains your capacitor.
- Start moving away from your target again
- Let your cap recharge to close, but not enough to warp to your target, as per step 4
- Initiate warp to your target -- you should get a message telling you that you don't have enough cap to warp the whole way -- if you don't, spam Ctrl-Space
- Drop out of warp within scan range of your target
Parid's Slingshot Technique
- Get close enough to the battle that units are measured in km, not au, but stay off grid.
- Get gang lead, wing lead or squad lead, and have your group of tacklers on grid with you. (Interceptors and Interdictors are key here). Don't just send one ship, they die too quick. Your DPS needs someone to warp to. Have a group to send.
- When the hostile snipers arrive at the battle, run a scan probe.
- Sort the results by distance. The sniper ships (megas, apocs, tempests, eagles, ect) should be a different distance than the main groups of ships.
- Initiate gang/wing/squad warp. Cancel the warp before you enter warp, watch as your tacklers warp directly onto the hostile snipers.
- Pew Pew
The biggest key to this technique is practice, followed closely by a very fast scan time. The Covops Ship skill, Signal Aquisition, and Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I rigs all reduce scan probe time, and can be used to drop the time down to 21 seconds.