Flying A Bait Raven In PvP
The raven is a famously effective ship when it comes to running missions or killing NPCs in belts or complexes. When it comes to PvP, though, the raven is assumed to be the providence of the dilettante. The conventional wisdom is that only the most carebear of players will try to field the raven against other players, and this because he has not trained for other, more effective weapon systems. This is excellent for PvP purposes, because anybody that sees you will generally assume that you are completely incompetent.
This article is intended to show newer players how conventional PvP advice can be turned on its head, and how other players' expectations can be used against them, even if they are fairly advanced players. Even if you don't have the fancy skills and modules needed to fly a raven perfectly, you should still take away an idea of how wily PvP pilots can be in EVE Online.
For advice on flying a raven for PvE, see our previous guide.
The raven can be a ganker as well as a gank-receiver.
Every "just in case" PvP module fit on a raven is one less slot for a Salvager I or shield tank module, meaning that the raven makes ISK slower. For understandable reasons, most pilots prefer to bank on not getting ganked, even in fairly dangerous areas of space like low-sec or NPC null-sec. Because of this overwhelmingly non-PvP fitting trend, most pirates see a raven and think "juicy target." Your goal as a raven PvP pilot is to produce an embarrassing "reverse gank" killmail.
The way to do this is to have surprises prepared that the ganker did not expect. The manner in which you do this changes pretty dramatically based on what you are expecting to fight. Rather than just list a single fitting, I am going to explain tricks and methods for using a raven under various PvP situations.
Against Big Ships In Low-Sec
If you are cruising around low-sec gates, the odds are good that you will end up fighting larger ships that can field a tank capable of withstanding gate guns. Against ships like Drakes, Harbingers, Tempests, and so forth, you should use Siege Missile Launchers loaded with torpedoes. Hopefully torpedoes that do the right kind of damage for whatever you are shooting at. Like any torpedo pilot, you should use Crash Boosters to make more of your damage stick.
Getting people to engage you in low-sec is a bit easier than in other places since most of the people there in combat ships are looking for fights, rather than to avoid them. Just set your autopilot to prefer less secure systems, and plot a course between two low-sec systems that are a good distance apart. Anybody that finds you on a gate will likely assume that you are taking an ill-advised short-cut, or otherwise unready for combat. Some tips:
ÂWhen fighting on gates, do not make the mistake of locking a ship that you want to fight as soon as you can. You want to look like you're afraid to fight, and hope that the target falls for it. Align to another gate or station in-system as though you were about to warp, or start heading back to the gate that you jumped through. With any luck, the ship will lock you, and start shooting you, thus earning the ire of the sentry guns, instead of you.
ÂUse faction ammunition, Crash boosters, and a Target Painter module (with Signature Focusing IV trained) to get the most from your considerable torpedo damage.
ÂTech two "Rage" torpedoes may be worth considering if you expect to be fighting only large ships under ideal conditions.
ÂThe key to not dying is to avoid any coordinated pirate fleets moving through. This is a combination of luck, experience, and familiarity with the local inhabitants of the area you are moving through.
ÂOne of the nasty tricks that pro players like to pull for getting out of a sticky situation takes advantage of a very marginal game mechanic to log out without remaining in space for more than a minute, despite recently being involved in combat --this normally would mean that when you log out, your ship would remain in space for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is more than long enough for a probing-capable fleet to find and destroy you, but a minute is generally not. The way to do this very simple: jump through a gate, then log off without moving or otherwise breaking your jump cloak. That's it. Jumping into a new system clears that timer. Of course, in order to jump through a gate, you need to not take offensive action for a full minute --no easy feat if you're going down in flames.
ÂUsing a heavy energy neutralizer is an excellent idea in low-sec, where many ships rely on their capacitor to fuel an active tank. Even better than just one, is a second neutralizer. Fitting a second large neutralizer requires using a low-slot for a Reactor Control Unit, though, and may hinder your ability to use a MicrowarpDrive, which most PvPers dislike.
Ganking Little Ships In Null-Sec
The kind of ganking that takes place in null-sec is generally very different from low-sec. At least, on the gates in low-sec. The ships involved are usually heavy assault cruisers or recons, that use a combination of speed, cloaking, and high damage or electronic warfare to blow you out of the sky. Raven-ganking is an entire field of study for these people, and it's a science that they have well-mastered.
Your job is to throw wrenches into the ganker's plans.
ÂThe key is to fit a raven with PvP modules that the target won't expect. One or two neutralizers is a good call, and will often make some gankers immediately try to escape. Vagabonds and Zealots, in particular, go about their business by paying careful attention to their range to avoid Stasis Webifiers and Warp Scramblers, which could be used to shut of their microwarpdrive.
ÂUsing cruise missiles is a necessity against these ships, as their speed and size will avoid most of any damage torpedoes would deal, assuming that the torpedoes can even catch up to them. The tech two anti-small ship "Precision" cruise missiles might be worth looking into, if you have Cruise Missile Specialization IV trained.
ÂMost gankers will assume that their targets are fit with the local NPC population in mind. If you live Sansha pirate space, for example, they will avoid dealing EM damage to you, and tank against the same, with the expectation that you are more worried about the local NPC population than gankers. A good trick for making them remain confident that you're an unwary victim is to have one or two of your missile launchers be loaded with the local NPC's flavor of ammo, and the rest filled with your PvP ammo of choice. Use your anti-NPC chump-ammo-filled launchers to shoot any NPCs nearby. The missiles are color coded while traveling, and a cloaked ganker will notice if you are using the wrong kind of ammunition for fighting those NPCS, and seeing that you are using the correct ones will put him at ease.
ÂFor that matter, using any module that has an active effect may be noticed and be a consideration in a ganker's decision to engage you or not. If you have something suspicious like a Sensor Booster effect active, it may spook the ganker.
ÂWatch out for NPC spawns that can complement a ganker's damage. A triple-battleship spawn in a belt can make short work of poorly-fit ravens even if there isn't a ganker there, and a PvP-fit raven probably qualifies.
ÂMost NPC-killing ravens do not have microwarpdrives fit, because they waste capacitor and cannot be used in many complexes. Fitting one might allow you to get close enough to an unwary ganker to use a stasis webifier or scrambler on him.
ÂThe extra range gained with tackling modules by overloading them via the Thermodynamics skill is absolutely critical when fighting cruiser-sized gankers. One cycle with a Warp Scrambler II is enough, because once you have a ship that usually microwarpdrives within range, it is unlikely to leave that range again, except in a pod.
ÂThe biggest surprise fitting that you can put on a bait raven is a faction stasis webifier or warp scrambler that has an unusually long range. Depending on what you are fighting, the extra 1-2000km, plus 20% from overloading the module, can spell death for the ship in question.
ÂIf you have multiple energy neutralizers, as I generally recommend, be sure not to activate them at the same time. If you zap a ship that doesn't have capacitor with a second neutralizer, that cycle of the module goes to waste. Wait until your first neutralizer is halfway to being ready to use again, and then activate the second neutralizer.
ÂIf you really are worried about your odds of fighting a ganker, have a fleet of buddies ready to undock and back you up once you have a tackle on the ganker. You know he'd do it to you, if he could.
A Nice Pep Talk
Even with the perfect plan you will still die, periodically. Maybe the ganker has a Covert Ops Cynosural Field Generator fit, and is going to drop a fleet of black ops battleships on you. Maybe the ganker is just getting a tackle while his fleet of ten buddies waits for the signal, a jump out. The more information you have about your area, the less likely this is to happen to you. And the more you know about a particular ganker, the better you can assess the danger of trying to bait him. Once you reveal your hand against a particular ganker, he is unlikely to fall for your tricks again. That's all part of the bait game. He may try to play with your expectations in turn, by ganking solo in your area for a week, then on the eighth day have a fleet back him up. All's fair in love, war, and EVE Online.
As always: if worst comes to worst and you get blown up, review what you could have done differently to survive. Did you push your luck? Were you using a module that didn't help as much as you thought it would? Were you somehow unprepared? If you don't know what to do differently, ask someone that knows more about EVE to take a look at your lossmail and provide some feedback. Baiting isn't for everyone, either, it takes patience and luck to do it right. But believe me when I tell you this: those reverse-gank killmails with a vagabond killed by a single raven are among the most satisfying killmails a player can get. Good luck out there!