Moving to null-sec from high-sec can make for something of a cultural shock. Things are different in so many ways, with changes to game mechanics, player perspective, and more. Unfortunately, the nature of the null-sec beast is such that alliances rarely want to teach new members about living there.
Instead, such alliances usually try to recruit members that already know what they are doing, or just sort of leave their members to fend for themselves. The result is that even players that have lived in null-sec for several months can sometimes have gaps in their knowledge. This guide contains ten points intended to help acclimate newbies to life in null-sec, and will hopefully see use by corporations looking to help players make that transition.
1. The World Is Your Enemy
Never trust a neutral pilot.
Over time, the vast majority of NRDS alliances have been pruned from the intergalactic garden. In practice, even the few modern groups that are NRDS still shoot most neutrals. In the specific case of CVA alliance and associated parties, for example, being in a NBSI alliance is grounds for being shot. Since literally every other null-sec alliance of any significance at all is NBSI, the result is much the same.
2. Getting There Is The Easy Part
The easiest way to get to your null-sec destination of choice is to join whatever corporation you have selected, dock in a station with medical facilities, make sure your clone is good enough to save all your skill points, set your clone location to an office in your null-sec location (your corporation does have an office out there, right?), undock, and self-destruct your pod. When you wake up in your null-sec location, upgrade your clone immediately so that you don't forget. This process is sometimes called 'pod-jumping'.
Flying out to your new null-sec home is basically a crap shoot, especially if you do not have a second account available to scout for you. The route might or might not be safe. You might or might not be able to get some friends to convoy out with you. Many people just find it simpler and safer to pod jump out and buy things that are already out there.
3. Getting Your Stuff There Is Harder
Unlike your clones, moving ships and materials to null-sec can be a big pain. If your null-sec home is close to high-sec then it can be a bit easier to get things out there, but even then the connecting gates are often camped with pirates. If your null-sec home is at a more remote location, you may be reliant on people using jump freighters to import things.
When living adjacent to empire, it may be a good idea to have some fully-fit combat ships and/or fully-loaded industrials in the closest station to your null-sec jump off point. Then, any time you notice that the pertinent gates are camped by friendlies, you can start moving your stuff over. This will usually be much cheaper than buying locally produced or imported goods, and more likely to allow you to fully-fit your ship without making any compromises.
4. Alliances Have Advantages
Being in an alliance with sovereignty has its advantages. Some of these potentially include:
- Jump Bridges: Private stargates that can be anchored at POS, these are one of the best things about controlling space because they offer speedy travel with more safety.
- Pirate Detection Arrays: By far the most popular space upgrade, these allow more anomalies to spawn in a system so that more people can make ISK there at the same time. Due to a recent change, the sites resulting from this are linked to how low a given solar system's security status is.
- Intel Channels: Every alliance worth its salt will have in-game channels to join for reporting hostile activity. Most will also have forums of some sort for coordinating long-term plans. Make full use of all of these.
- Knowledge Base: EVE Online is a huge game, with so many complexities that it is impossible to learn and master everything. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask your alliance-mates questions. Most players are happy to answer and show off how smart they are.
5. Docking Is Not A Given
This is a little thing that just might not be obvious to some players. Most of null-sec space is conquerable, meaning it is controlled by players rather than non-player characters. If a corporation that controls a given station doesn't like you (usually because of the corporation you belong to) then you can't dock in their stations. This is totally different from high-sec and one of the key differences between it and null-sec, but players still make this mistake and have it ruin their days.
Note that for various reasons some corporations will fiddle with their station settings to keep even some friendly people out. This might be because they want to make that system more exclusive, or some other reason.
6. Not All Is As It Seems
PvP in EVE Online consists of luck, player training, good fittings, having a good plan, and assessing how dangerous a situation is on the fly. This last is most critical in null-sec PvP. Much of the PvP that happens in null-sec relies on bait. The bait might be a tough ship that fights while allies log in or jump through a gate, or it might be something more insidious like a cynosural field or stealth cynosural field, that can allow an entire fleet to teleport to that location, even from several solar systems away.
The use of the two kinds of 'cynos' is becoming more common over time, and essentially means that no PvP encounter is completely safe or predictable. Common bait ships include the arazu, apocalypse, ravens, and (of course) drakes. The summoned backup can be a fleet of any kind of ships, supercarriers, capital ships (usually carriers), black ops battleships, and perhaps most commonly, fleets of stealth bombers.
The worst part of losing an alliance war is having your stuff get stuck in hostile stations.
It is important that players moving to null-sec try to leave a light material footprint. By this I mean that it is best not to keep much more than you need on-site in null-sec. Materials in a conquerable station can be trapped there if the station changes hands or you get kicked out of your corporation, with the result being you are unable to dock and retrieve or effectively manage your stuff. For most players, I would recommend not having more than a ship to make ISK with and two or three combat ships. For industrialists it can be a challenge to minimize materials kept on-hand, but I nevertheless exhort you to try. Nobody wants to be stuck in high-sec with billions of ISK in assets scattered across someone else's null-sec region.
8. Learn The Lay Of The Land
Go to a site like Dotlan's EVE maps and print out a map of your region. Highlight or circle important systems, and pencil on jump bridge links. Learn where enemies tend to enter your space from, and how they tend to move within your region.
Another important thing to do is make bookmarks. Bookmark jump bridges and 'perch' spots above gates that you might fight on. Bookmark safe POS. Bookmark any planetary customs that you use. Make bookmarks when in warp between gates, so that you have a safe spot to hide at. Keep all of these bookmarks well organized, with consistent labels, so that you can make good use of them.
9. One Neutral Is A Dealbreaker
This is one of those mistakes that you only need to make once, to have the resulting lesson burned into your mind. One neutral pilot in your system means that, barring trickery on your part, you need to stop killing NPC pirates and either cloak or get somewhere safe.
This is true no matter how long the neutral has been there. A common ganker practice is as follows: sneak into a solar system with a lot of activity, and cloak, then go get lunch or do whatever for a few hours, until the locals decide to ignore you. Then find a target and kill it. This is pretty frustrating because it means that you never know whether the neutral ship is active or not, and whether it's safe to undock. The best way to counter this is to not stay in an overpopulated system or one that is easily accessed. Instead, find a system a bit off the beaten track and earn your ISK there.
10. Your Alliance Expects Things From You
Unless your corporation is explicitly carebear-friendly, and often even then, your corporation and alliance are going to want things from you. Usually, it is some combination of the following:
- Attend 'call to arms' fleet operations, usually to defend your space.
- Constant activity, be it PvP kills on the corporate killboard or tax revenue from killing NPCs.
- Many (though by no means all) charge a monthly fee for membership.
- Respect agreements with other entities. Don't kill friendly ships, do kill hostile ships, and don't make ISK in your allies' space. It is your duty to know where you do and do not have permission to kill NPCs, explore, or mine.
- As long as you are active in-game and social with others in your corporation, you should be all right.