Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Intelligence Gathering 102: Defensive Scouting

Welcome to part two of my EVE intelligence gathering operation. In this segment I will talk about how intelligence plays a role in not just scanning but when a corp runs an Operation as well.

Mastering the techniques I've talked about in 101 will help here in 102. You should know right now that defensive scouting is INCREDIBLY boring. However, it is an absolute necessity for the security of your fleet when running various ops whether they are combat or mining oriented.

Be sure your corporation pays for this job. Some give an equal cut, others do not. If you don't have anything to do it is easy money. However they will be happy they gave you a cut the minute you give early warning and the fleets gets away safely.

In my opinion, an Op that is not scouted is destined to fail. Maybe not now, or tomorrow, but eventually it will end in tears. You should never assume you are safe. In fact, assume the opposite. Even when you are running sites and have 6 or 7 ships, never assume you are safe in the anom shooting sleepers.

What you learned in IG101 holds true for IG102. Rule 1 - You are never safe; this will hold true even when you have a fleet. If you haven't read IG101, go back and do that now.

Basic Techniques

Defensive scouting isn't a difficult job. Most corporations simply don't do it, assuming they will be just fine. These corporations are often on the receiving end of death and free trips to K-space. If you don't want this to be you, then pay attention.

Defensive scouting is based on a very simple premise of covering the system. To PVP effectively requires certain ships. The majority of these ships don't warp cloaked meaning you'll see them coming on d-scan. Secondly, even warp-while-cloaked ships will reveal themselves at the choke point. The trick is to be there at the choke point to catch them and give the early warning.

Overlap D-Scan

Remember D-scan will only reach out 14 AU and some change. By positioning scouts in system so that the entire system is on D-scan allows you early warning when an unknown drops probes. Corporations who don't do this will be happily doing an op on one side of the system while on the other, unmonitored side a bogey is dropping probes or getting a fleet in; all while the targets have no idea what is about to go down.

Overlapping D-scan allows the corp to know exactly what is going on and when in system. It allows for understanding movements and rally points. But it is not an early warning system. Chance are good if the bad guys show up on D-scan, it is already too late.

Eyes and Ears

Make sure you put a scout in a cov-ops ship on each hole deemed “unsafe”. “Unsafe” holes are generally wormholes that:

  • are not end of natural life (EONL)
  • are not on the verge of collapse due to mass
  • don't link to your system

What I mean by don't link to your system is the hole you came from. Most corporations when not running sites in their home system will often go to a neighboring system via their static hole and do those. Therefore the WH you entered into system in (the static hole) is the one that links to your home system.

These three are generalizations and should taken as such. Remember rule number 1. Since you are never safe you should never assume you are safe either. A daring fleet could take the chance with and EONL or “on verge of collapse” holes and still attack you. A hostile fleet could roll through your home system into the very hole that you came into and gank.

Generally, however, most people won't mess with the first two, and you'd hope that people left in the home system would catch a fleet rolling through the home system. I don't normally place scouts on these unless I have extra people around. Your mileage my vary.

Scouts placed on holes have two important jobs. 1. Watch the hole and 2. Listen for activations. They should also not forget they have a D-Scan and should be actively using it as well.

Remember when a ship enters a wormhole, it will “flash” much like a gate activation. If you are the scout, this is your cue to pay attention. Watch what and who comes in the hole. Get ready to click on the overview when the ship appears and show info. Relay that information to the fleet.

When a ship goes through a wormhole it will also make a sound. Be sure to watch for the flash and listen for the activation. That means as a scout you better have the game sound up and not be banging the Thong Song or you might miss it. The sound is helpful since watching the wormhole gets really really boring after 2 minutes. As long as the sound is up you can browse the net on the in game browser and not be focusing on the hole itself.

That being said, you should always have the overview in sight so if someone jumps from your side to the other you know who and what direction they went through the hole. Assume trouble as necessary.


Signature Verification

There are corps that do those two things and still get caught and blown up. The third and final piece of defensive scouting is signature verification.

Signature verification is done usually by a scout you are already paying to watch a hole. The basics are simply launch a single probe, filter out all the sigs you already scanned (should be all of them) and occasionally scan every minute or so just to check for new sigs.

Just like D-Scans, you need to be sure there is coverage of the system. Core Scanning Probes have a max of 32 AU. If that isn't big enough to cover the entire system, then launch as many as needed to obtain coverage. Remember signatures don't appear in deep space, so coverage is less important there. Just be sure to have a wide berth around each planet in system. Truly (and correctly) paranoid people will be sure the entire system is covered and leave nothing to chance.

If you were paying attention in IG101, you should have some record of the sigs in the target system. Always fully scan a system before running ops there. By filtering those out you will know immediately when a new sig appears in system. But why is this important?

If you have a new sig, chances are pretty good that it is a wormhole. And more importantly, if it wasn't scanned down the first time, it generally means that wormhole that just spawned is a k162; meaning someone just scanned it down on the other side. Which in turn means someone is active. Which could mean a fleet is coming now or soon to gank.

Immediately let your fleet commander know you have a new sig on scan. Let him make the call if its time to go or stay. As the scout, you need to now scan that new sig down as quickly as possible and get eyes on it if it is indeed a wormhole. After all, it could be a new radar/mag/grav/lad site that just spawned.

Hints and Tips

Couple of things to look out for. Only one scout should be doing signature verification with as few probes as necessary. That way if someone falls asleep and misses the enemy scout coming into the hole, or he was already there, if probes appear on scan, everyone will know they aren't the sig verification probes.

Second, avoid using alt accounts to do any scouting unless you are running a dual monitor setup and can watch both windows at the same time. It is too easy to be distracted by the operation and forget about watching or scanning. In addition, I recommend the two monitor setup because alt tabbing is bad. Both accounts need to have focus and you have to see or hear that wormhole activation to be effective.

And for the love of your ship, don't allow the guy doing the logistics work be the alt that is scouting. I'd rather have his focus on the Op so my ship doesn't blow up then trying to watch a hole and my ship.

Generally I try to avoid “book-ending” the system. Usually just having scouts watching holes on the side you are running the Op is good enough. If you have extra you could put them on the other side of the hole and have even earlier warning in case the locals are massing on the hole to jump in and mess up your day. However that usually just takes either too much manpower or just not worth the time. The one running the Op will have to make that call, depending on how active that system is.


The three of these techniques combined together will insure you are never caught off guard. And stuff like the following never happens:

Now, this is just one of I'm sure several mining ship ganks in wormhole space. I could list several more but really, once you have seen one gank, you have seen them all. I like this video because of the ease of which the gank was completed. Look at the sheer number of ships! If this op was scouted with even the barest minimum it wouldn't end like this.

Let's face it. Even if the hulks were johnny-on-the-spot with the D-scan chances are good it wouldn't have mattered. Remember what I said about if you see them on the D-scan it is often too late? Hulks take a while to get into warp, even if they start aligned. I suspect that either these guys had a ship already on grid with the hulks and pointed them early, or the hulks were just doing a terrible job of D-scan.

Don't think that only miners get ganked. If you somehow think the sleepers will discourage people from jumping in and messing up your face, think again. This video involves a hurricane and two drakes. Notice how few sleepers there are. The scout providing the warp in made sure the combat ships were either A) almost done with the site or B) almost done with the wave. In either case the few sleepers that were left were not enough to upset the gankers even if the sleepers decided to shoot them.

Again, notice the number of ships. A fleet that size does not just materialize out of thin air. They had to come in somewhere, and some very simple scouting techniques would have sent the hurricane and two drakes off to the POS before this fleet even had a chance to warp to the scout.

I will leave you with one final video to study. This is a higher class sig with logistics and battleships. Notice the ease in which the gank is completed. Watch for how they combat the logistics as well as the sleepers. Then think if these poor bastards had done the correct defensive scouting that this situation would have never happened.


  1. Dang straight! Dude, we gotta pick up where we left off with our little idea! WTF happened to the time!? Let's be in touch!

    Great series!

  2. Simple outstanding entry! Have shared this with FB!
    Signature Verification Form