We’re going. We’re going, we’re going, we’re going.
2 and half years after starting his great EVE adventure (ignoring some galaxy-sized time gaps) Maxi Foyle, Space Null Avoider, is finally going to null-sec and he’s going right now. We have no Corporation to meet, no mission to run, no trade to haul, we’re just going because we can. Months of mining, trading, ratting and missioning were nought but procrastination really, let’s be honest. It was the first goal on Maxi’s list, but the last to get done. It’s time he went.
A wee null-sec recap for the uninitiated: EVE Online’s universe is split into hundreds of solar systems connected by stargates. As capsuleers pootle from one system to the next each one has a security rating from 0.0, 0.1, 0.2…up to 1.0. In high security (hi-sec) space (0.6-1.0) systems are patrolled by CONCORD, the galactic police force. Attack another player here without permission and CONCORD will come rushing in and pop your shiny spaceship before you can say “Arrrr” (because I’m assuming you’re a pirate if you’re doing this) thus keeping a vague level of safety and security in an otherwise hostile universe (this doesn’t stop the suicide gankers, mind).
Lo-sec (0.1-0.5) has greatly reduced CONCORD presence, only visible around stargates and stations, who will stand idly by whilst players blast chunks out of each other as long as you are out of turret range.
And finally null-sec (0.0) has no security presence at all. No security presence means players can do whatever the hell they like and no one (no non-players, anyway) can do anything to stop them. This, brilliantly, makes null-sec far and away the most dangerous place in the EVE universe. It is its wild west. It’s the scene of sweeping gang warfare as Alliances battle for control over systems, resources and stations (which are almost all owned by player run corporations, so even docking can be impossible in most systems). This perpetual state of warfare means anyone unknown, regardless of standings, will be podded without question. Any tourists caught up in the collateral damage shouldn’t have been there in the first place. And this is why Maxi has never been. To get a handle on what to expect I’ve read articles and forum posts like this, this and this. It sounds like a whole other game.
Null-sec is the thing that is always there, always baiting you and waiting for you when you’re playing EVE. “You haven’t been to null-sec yet” is the thought I’ve had most when playing and writing about this game. Null-sec was why I wanted to get into EVE in the first place, but it’s become this incredibly scary thing in the time I’ve been enjoying the easy hi-sec life. It’s turned Maxi Foyle soft, and we need to put it right.
Here’s the plan: We’ve got a cheap frigate, so as not to be too disappointed if it gets destroyed. Nothing fancy but it needed to be fast. Gallente’s fastest (standard) frigate? The mighty Atron of course. That’ll do nicely. Next, I need a way to not die the moment I arrive, and maybe, just maybe, I’ve found the very key: The Cloak Trick. It’s not a party trick involving people’s medieval clothing, it’s a supposedly fool-proof method of aligning to a destination whilst cloaked and then almost instantaneously jump to that destination when you de-cloak (which you have to do to activate warp). This is essential because it only takes a moment for someone to lock and warp-scramble you, disabling your ability to jump away from the danger they pose. I’m not worried about Maxi defending himself, fighting is for another day, we just want to get in, look around and get out. All being well we can do that without anyone locking on to our fragile little ship.
Maxi has been practising the cloak trick jumping around hi-sec in our trusty Atron, the Moldy Apron, kitted out with speed enhancing rigs, a cloak device and a micro-warpdrive (giving us a top speed of 3560 m/s). Think he’s got the hang of it now. Next we need a route. Using the maps handy statistics options I’ve started scouring for systems with no ships destroyed in the last hour, as few active players as possible and as few ships destroyed in the last 24 hours as well. Systems on the border of null and hi-sec seem to be the worst, probably due to gate campers waiting for unsuspecting carebears to jump through to null, or try and jump out with precious loot. Checking again now one system has 18 kills in an hour. In an HOUR! Think we’ll avoid that one.
OK. Here’s a promising one. Ten jumps, a gentle curve through low-sec systems before the final jump to null. No kills in the last hour. 6 active capsuleers in the entry system. That’s the route. Now’s the time.
Maxi! Unto the breach, dear friend!
Undocked our first task is getting to lo-sec. We practice cloak-tricking out way from stargate to stargate, probably much to the bemusement of anyone who notices our overly cautious commute.
Now things get interesting. We’re into low-sec, getting off the beaten track. Stargates are no longer ringed by CONCORD Battleships and the steady flow of haulers and missioners dies down to a trickle. The chatter on local ends. The sky looks blacker.
Onwards Maxi, onwards.
And so we reach the threshold. Here’s our entrance to null-sec. One last jump. There’s a mere 4 other people on local, a tiny amount compared to the hustle and bustle of the Amarr trading hub I’ve called home for the last week. The scanner doesn’t pick up any of them near the gate. That’s good, they’re not sat here scouting for anyone entering null-sec and reporting back to a Corp of gate campers on the other side. Or if they are they’re not being so blatant as to sit at the gate, anyway. Oh god. Here goes. Jump.
There it is. The sky is darker, isn’t it? Or am I going mad. No time to ponder. We hit the scanner, nothing nearby. We check local, there’s 6 people here. Too many. Too risky. Let’s go deeper. This time Maxi traverses the system by cloak-trick jumping to a random asteroid field, and following more scanning and checking, jumping again to the next gate. Making a straight jump from gate to gate is apparently the perfect way to get caught in warp bubbles and picked off by waiting pirates lurking by their trap. We make it the next gate. It’s all going well. Jump.
Oh, hello! Speak of the devil, what do we have here? Jumping into the next system the gate is surrounded by warp bubbles. Easily avoided when you can see them, but jumping to this gate from the other side of the system could prove tricky. There’s 7 local residents showing. Possibly lurking just out of sight of these bubbles. Let’s keep moving. We carefully skip across the system via a couple of planets to avoid the bubbles and jump again. How deep can we go?
This is better. 1 other pilot in this system, who promptly disappears from local when we arrive. Did we scare them off? Can they hide from local? Better keep scanning. We jump around to see some sights, I don’t like hanging around the gates too long. Even tucked away behind a random planet I feel the need to cloak, in case someone is looking for us. You can just about make out the cloaked Moldy Apron in the shot above.
That other capsuleer reappears on local. Perhaps they did run and feel it’s safer to return now. Perhaps they’ve come back tooled up for a fight. Better tread carefully. We hop to a couple of asteroid belts (making sure we warp 100k from them so we’re not warping into the middle of any potential hornet’s nests). EVERY belt has rats in it. Big rats at that. Schools of Battlecruisers and Battleships patrol, ready for a fight. Their bounty’s are a million ISK and rising. No wonder people say null-sec ratting is so profitable. Could I sneak my Myrmidon in to take these guys on? Time to stop daydreaming, that pilot could be hunting us as we speak, it’s time to go. We jump to the gate and are through. Still no sign of anything on scanner the otherside. Lets just go, the sooner we’re out the better. Jump straight to the gate, Maxi.
Balls. Balls. Balls. Forgot about the warp bubbles surrounding that gate. We’re ripped out of warp on our way across system. We’re 200k from the gate, a huge gap if those 6 pilots are sat here waiting for me. Too late to cloak, we hit the microwarpdrive and watch our approach to the precious stargate tease up to our top speed 3500+ m/s. There’s no lock yet, and we’re eating up the space but my god this is tense, any moment we could be locked. Stupid idiot, why didn’t we jump via some planets again. Come on! I start hammering the jump button long before we’re in range, as if it might push the ship that little bit faster. A quick scan, there’s some stuff here but I’m too paniked to even register whether it’s ships or just those warp-bubbles. COME ON!
Jumping. Those beautiful words appear. The screen swings out to look down the apex of the gate and WOOOSH we’re through the gate. No locks. No shots. No need to panic. My heart returns to a mere double it’s resting rate. One more system to (relative) low-sec safety.
We make a very cautious hop across the system, there’s more pilots here than last time, and as we warp to our exit gate it becomes clear why. A full blown scrap is taking place around the gate, green lasers spew out of wibbly, warp-scrambled ships. We leap through the middle, like a mouse scuttling through the legs of warring cats, and jump through the gate scar free. That was a stroke of luck, that fight might have been started by some unwitting traveller jumping to the gate moments before me. If I’d left any earlier that could have been Maxi scrambled on the edge of null-sec.
Phew, that was fun. Maxi’s alive but no more fond of null-sec than he was before. I think a few more visits are needed to settle into the heightened level of tension it brings. In the meantime we dock at the nearest station for a well earned drink. See you when the hangover’s warn off.
Fly safe o7