A hotspot is a dangerous locale where PvP activity is unusually high. These areas stand in stark contrast to the swaths of space in EVE Online where seeing someone is rare, let alone getting in a fight with them.
EVE Online is a game of hesitant PvPers, whose most important strategic decision usually comes down to whether to fight, at all, or whether to run away. The four kinds of hotspots described in this article contain the most avid PvPers, the most gate camps, and the most roaming gankers. Whether you want to avoid them, or want to recklessly hurl your ships into them, knowing where these hotspots are is important to all players in EVE Online.
Chokepoint gates are great places to set up gate camps.
The first and most common kinds of hotspots are the choke points between regions, where traffic between major areas is only possible via travel through regional gates. These regional gates are few in number, and are often the only way in or out of a region that doesn't involve major detours, possibly along even more dangerous routes.
These regional gates are the perfect spot for ambushes. Get together a fleet of your friends, including some fast tacklers and damage-dealers, and wait for your prey.
In high-security areas of space, the best spots are those connecting major marketing hubs. For example, the gate connecting Kaaputenen (in The Forge) to Niarja (in Domain) gets a huge amount of traffic from ships traveling between Jita and Amarr. Spots like this are ideal locations to wait for war targets, as are the systems around Jita and the other hubs, more generally.
The regional jumpgates often differ from normal gates, in that they are much larger. When a ship jumps through one, there is a much larger potential area in which he may appear, making tackling and killing them a little trickier. For this reason, people often camp a little bit farther into a region, perhaps along a "pipe," as chains of star systems are sometimes called.
The absolute best kind of chokepoint is when a high-security system connects directly to null-security space, directly, without any intervening low-security systems. There are only a few such systems in the game, but all are camped by pirates almost constantly. Jumping into one of these systems without a scout is suicide. On the other hand, if you get a fleet together that can lick whoever is already camping it, you can probably bait them into starting a ruckus with you, and then jump in your reinforcements to mop up, for a guaranteed session of PvP.
Some tips for maintaining a camp on these gates:
- Always maintain a neutral scout on the empire side of the gate, to give a heads up on more powerful fleets moving in to break your camp.
- Use mobile warp disruptors and interdictors (or heavy interdictors) to take advantage of the game mechanics that are uniquely available in null-sec space. Even if you can't catch people jumping through the oversized gates, you can still use them to pull in ships that are headed into empire. Test warping to your camped gate from other gates, to ensure that they are properly placed.
- You will learn to recognize bait ships over time. It is important to recognize bait and assess whether you can kill it before any help arrives. The idea being that if you open fire you will not be able to use the gate to escape, and that if you are trying to tackle a ship you will almost assuredly be within range of its counter-tackle. The most common bait ship is, of course, the humble Drake battlecruiser. Be on the lookout for other ships that don't really do anything except tank, like the Prophecy, or that can field a wicked tank and tackle, like the Dominix or Raven.
- Be wary of Minmatar battleships. Because of the high, front-loaded volley damage of projectile turrets, some Tempest (and less commonly, Maelstrom) pilots will deliberately jump into gate camps kill a ship in one or two volleys, and then wait out their aggression timer and jump back into empire.
- Always have a plan to get the heck out of dodge. Good places to do this include bookmarks between celestial objects, or near the sun. You may also want an "on-grid" spot that is at least 400km away from the gate that you are camping --this will be invaluable to avoiding being trapped by whatever fleet eventually displaces your camp, because you will be able to see for yourself whether you can get to the gate or not, even without cloaks.
- Gate camps are for the laziest PvPers in EVE Online. You basically sit on a gate and fire your weapons at anybody stupid (or crafty) enough to wander into your kill zone. If you do this with good buddies, it can be a ton of fun. Crack open a beer, turn on some background music, and shoot the breeze for a few hours while racking up the kills.
- Some of the high-sec to null-sec systems are: HED-GP in Catch, EC-P8R in Pure Blind, PF-346 in Syndicate, and Y-MPWL and KBP7-G in Providence.
#2 War Zones
There are always wars going on in EVE Online, and I'm not talking about high-security war declaration. As I write this, there are at least two major, persistent centers of conflict in EVE Online. The first is the so-called Southern Coalition's invasion of the North, with most of the action currently taking place in Pure Blind. The second is the ongoing invasion of Fountain by Panda Team and now Pandemic Legion. Conflicts like these breed PvP opportunities and market possibilities.
First of all, traffic to areas that are currently subject to conflict will be much increased, meaning more potential targets in the form of stragglers or pilots trying to move ships into the area. Secondly, there will also be larger fleets and faster response times from the people involved, making persistent gate camps less feasible, and fast-moving gank squads a more effective choice.
style="font-style: italic;">Fast tacklers are important for gate camps in low-sec.
Any time there are wars, there are a ton of market opportunities, which means that there will be opportunists trying to capitalize on those opportunities, flying their industrial ships through systems that haven't been scouted, where you could potentially be waiting.
The tricky part is avoiding defense fleets from any of the involved parties, which usually means either being in elusive ships or having a well-placed spy.
#3 High Traffic Low-Security Space
Though low-sec is often derided as a barren wasteland, there are areas that have thriving portions of activity. They are, alas, often plagued by the most elite PvPers. I'm talking about the kind that run three clients at once with faction cruisers and remote repair modules. These areas are best avoided, even by serious PvPers. Even a seemingly winnable encounter usually ends up having a fleet of buddies appearing out of nowhere to tip the odds.
Areas like this include Amamake, which is sort of the informal pirate PvPer free for all system, in which people looking for an unfair fight will jump around the belts, usually with a ton of backup hidden in a safe spot or something similarly sneaky. Which can be interesting in a sort of sneaky contest of one-upmanship way, but probably isn't in the best interests of most EVE players.
Other areas include the stretch of low-sec between Jita and Rens, a well-known four-system "short-cut" that shaves ten jumps off the trip between them, but is perhaps the most heavily camped portion of low-sec in the game. This is with good reason. Every day, dozens of people assume that their odds of getting through are decent enough to be worth trying. Most of them are wrong.
In well-travelled low-sec systems, the best way to gank someone is usually to have a single tackler with an amazingly high sensor strength lock and tackle targets, with confederates waiting an AU or so away from the gate, aligned to it. When something juicy jumps in, the tackler snags it, the fleet warps in, they blow it up, and warp out before the sentry guns can cause too much trouble. This method avoids both the sentry guns, and limits their exposure to any fleets that roll through.
This last area is probably the most dangerous of all, because the only people likely to give a fight are those that very deliberately decide to engage you in combat, and are best-equipped with a skill set to defeat you. While the other zones offer opportunity, low-sec areas that get a lot of traffic are best viewed as a death trap.
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