Piracy is an indelicate art, but the more preparation and planning goes into it, the better results will be achieved, every time. Good pirates do their best to have every advantage possible tilted into their favor beforehand. What follows here is a checklist of best practices for new pirates looking to get set up in a particular solar system. By following the list (and adding your own ideas) you should be able to have a system prepped and as ready as you can make it.
While it may not be possible to fill every item on the checklist, getting as close to the ideal as possible is a good idea, especially if you customize the checklist to your own peculiar situation and PvP style.
Codifying your successful techniques is a good way to ensure that you keep succeeding.
Best Piracy Practices Checklist
- Combat Bookmarks
- Station Bookmarks
- Scanning Bookmarks
- Secondary Ammunition
- Spare Ship
- Giant Secure Container
- Escape Plan
- Map Of Vicinity
Making bookmarks at points 100km above and below each gate and station of interest is a good, sure. But making bookmarks that are somewhat farther away, at more random distances is better. Just so that you have options about where to position yourself, if you are in a hurry.
Another important aspect of this is having bookmarks that are exactly 100km away from a gate, in the direction of major locations, like other gates, stations, or nearby planets. If anybody is in a hurry and doesn't want to warp straight to the gate that you are lurking at, he may warp in at a hundred klicks.
More cautious souls will often warp to nearby planets, scan the gate for warp disruption spheres, and then warp in at a distance if they think it will give them an advantage. By having prepared bookmarks to the sites that are likely to be used, you can warp to their locations and land right on top of them.
A key aspect of this is that you need to be at least 150km away from your destination in order to warp. In order to bypass this limitation, you need bookmarks that are a bit farther away, and then warping to them at a distance. For example, if an enemy is 100km away, you cannot warp directly to a bookmark that is located near him. But you can warp to a bookmark that is 200km away. So warp to that bookmark at a distance of 100km, and you will end up right on top of your target.
Station instant docking bookmarks and instant undocking bookmarks are critical. You may need to dock in a hurry if things aren't working out, or some silly fellow might try to camp you into a station while you are dropping off loot or re-loading. Bookmarks are the cure.
Making an instant docking bookmark is very simple. Dock in your station of choice and then undock again. Make a bookmark on that very spot. Henceforth, instead of warping to a station for docking, which usually puts you at 2500m away from the station, you can warp directly to your bookmark, and end up within that station's docking radius. No slowly accelerating toward the station before being able to dock. Much safer.
In order to make an instant undocking bookmark, dock in your station of choice, then undock. Notice that your ship is automatically at maximum acceleration as it exits the station. It is also moving in a direction that is within fifteen degrees of the point of undock. The trick is to grab a fast ship, dock, undock, and then to use the station model to gauge how off-tilt your undock path is, and to correct it. Make a bookmark 200 or 300 kilometers out, along that path. Now, when you undock from that station, quickly warp to that bookmark, and you will enter warp nearly instantly, because you are already aligned nearly toward it, at top speed. Try not to make the bookmark at a round number like 200km or 500km, because others' may have done the same, and will try to catch you there.
Warp to each gate in your system of choice. As you are nearly exiting warp, but still about an AU away, make a bookmark. Now if you ever want to know what is at that gate, you can warp to that bookmark and use your directional scanner, instead of having to risk warping at 100km or warping to a nearby planet. Don't stay there too long, though, or you can be probed out.
Depending on your weapon, it may be advisable to have a second type of ammunition handy, to vary your damage profile or to change your optimal range.
Some guidelines: thermal damage is usually the hardest damage type to tank against, but also what most PvPers probably try to protect against. Explosive is bad against ships with a lot of shields, but EM is also pretty ineffective against tech two Minmatar ships, which are perhaps the most commonly encounter small-scale PvP ships.
If you are using missiles, it is a good idea to have a completely different damage type, just in case the target is tanked against whatever type you inflict (usually kinetic). It may also be a good idea to have some FoF (friend or foe) missiles, in case ECM is used against you. It is a rare situation where FoF saves the day, but larger missile ships still carry them. It's almost superstitious. But far be it from me to buck tradition!
If you are using projectiles and plan on relying on tech two ammunition, you may want to also carry a small cache of faction ammunition, in case your tech two ammunition turns out not to have enough tracking (Scorch M, I'm looking at you).
The less predictable your behavior, the safer you are.
In such cases, it is wise to have a backup ship ready to go. Everything but insurance should be set up, already. The faster you are able to get back into a fight, the more likely you can make a difference.
Giant Secure Container
I like having a giant secure container anchored in space, in between some planets (make a bookmark while warping). They cannot be probed out, and even if someone found one they would not be able to open it without the password (assuming you remember to set one).
The main advantage here is that you have somewhere to stash loot or pick up extra ammunition (or perhaps nanite repair paste) that is not a station, and so limits the chance that you could be camped in or ambushed. It also allows you to divest yourself of extra ammo if you think that you will probably get blown up.
Moving in and out of stations is predictable. Using a "GSC" is not. Predictability is bad. You do the math.
If you are camping a gate or what have you, you will eventually need to run, as a larger force of some kind moves through the area. Are you going to dock in a station? Are you going to warp between "safe spot" bookmarks that are between planets? Are you going to warp to a gate out? Are you going to warp to a location 600km above the gate? Work it out ahead of time, so that you don't need to waste time thinking when the time comes.
Map Of Vicinity
I like having a map of my area, so that I can be sure that I am not entering a dead end system or accidentally wandering into high-security space. I recommend Dotlan Eve Maps, but any other source is just as good. Printing it is nice, so that it can be market up and notes about inhabitants can be made.
Every area in EVE Online has some kind of intelligence channel. You may not have access to it, but it's the truth. Pirates in low-sec share intel with each other (sometimes), anti-pirates do the same. Different corporations that otherwise have very little to do with each other, and may not even have positive standings toward each other, will still exchange reports about enemy movements. If there is such a channel where you are, do your best to be in it. At the very least, make some friends in the area that will tip you off if there is something big happening, like null-sec war is spilling over into your low-sec hunting grounds.
If no intelligence is available, you may want to have a scout of some kind on the far side of your gate, so that you have some idea of who or what will jump into your trap. It can be another player, or a second EVE client open. Most PvPers probably use the latter.
Adding Your Own Ideas
Everybody has their own way to pre-game for piracy. Append your own ideas, make your own best practices checklist, and modify it as you see what works and what does not. On my personal list, I make a print-out with all the math of my ship setup on it, exact weapon ranges, expected damage per second against common ships, etc.. That's a bit complicated and in-depth for most people, so I omitted it from this list. But your own ideas are just as meritorious, and probably more useful. Keeping track of them makes it more likely that you will adhere to them.