Dienstag, 6. August 2013

Wormhole Exploration for Beginners

This will be a post aimed at new players, who want to have a go into wormhole space. I try to included some basic tips and fittings that even a player who is on day one of his Odyssey will be able to use and enjoy.

Disclaimer, you might die and get podded. Don't fly what you cant afford to loose, update the med clone.

First of, a bit how my start in exploration went. When I started to play EVE on my trial way back when in early 2012 (you can get a free 21 day trial with the link on the top-right) I soon realized, I wanted to explore, but I didn’t quite know how and what. Wormhole space sounded very interesting and also scary. I had done the tutorials, and after some problems learned how to scan a signature in about 20 minutes. My first one took way over 2 hours, so don’t despair if it seems all a bit hard at first. It will get easier with some practice. I found an wormhole in one system close to my home but I was to afraid to go in it. When I later found the courage to give it a go it was gone.

My fear at that time was more of the unknown, then about loosing a ship in there. I then read up on w-space a bit and found a good scanning tutorial. Since they changed scanning it should be even easier to get into it. My path strayed a bit after that, I mined for new ships, nearly quit because of the boredom then went and applied to eve university, had a blast there and later joined a wh corp.

For this I assume you know and did the basic scanning tutorial. Here is a short refresher: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Scanning

Equipment & Skills:
You could use any ship really for the first steps, even a noob frigate. It only needs to have a core probe launcher to find signatures. But the exploration frigates have a bonus and this will make scanning a whole lot easier. They are: Magnate, Heron, Imicus and Probe.
Depending on which race you started out with, you will already have one of these from the tutorials. A basic fit for the Magnate:

[Magnate, Basic Scanner]
Local Hull Conversion Nanofiber Structure I
Local Hull Conversion Nanofiber Structure I
Local Hull Conversion Nanofiber Structure I
Local Hull Conversion Nanofiber Structure I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Rangefinding Array I
Scan Rangefinding Array I

Core Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
[empty rig slot]

This fit will only require these skills: 

Amarr Frigate I (16 minutes, 40 seconds)
Hull Upgrades I (16 minutes, 40 seconds)
Afterburner I (8 minutes, 20 seconds)
Afterburner II (38 minutes, 50 seconds)
Afterburner III (3 hours, 39 minutes, 30 seconds)
High Speed Maneuvering I (41 minutes, 40 seconds)
Astrometrics I (25 minutes)
Mechanics III (3 hours, 39 minutes, 30 seconds)
Jury Rigging I (16 minutes, 40 seconds)
Astrometric Rangefinding I (1 hour, 6 minutes, 40 seconds)
Astrometric Rangefinding II (5 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds)
Total time: 16 hours, 19 minutes, 58 seconds

You should already have the Frigate, Afterburner and Astrometrics skill if you did the basic tutorials. Mechanics and Jury Rigging is needed to fit the rigs, which will give you a massive bonus to scanning. You can go without but finding signatures will be much harder. Last optional bit is the Scan Rangefinding Array I, it takes 6h to train, but it can help scanning. Have a look at the scanning tutorial I linked earlier for more skills and modules.

So if you go without rigs and the array you can fly the ship in 6h, with an afterburner even less. Be sure to buy extra core scanner probes, sometimes you can loose them and they are cheap. I usually carry 2-3 set extra. So if you really want to go after things fastest way possible, use the scanning frig, an afterburner and a probe launcher, it will work! Other races frigates might have a different slot layout but will work the same to fit.

The ship and modules should run you at about 1,25mil ISK. If the modules you find in the new player system are very expensive, check the market close by, nothing on this ship should be more expensive then 150000 ISK.

Basic Wormhole Mechanics:
So you have the ship and you know how to scan, but what is wormhole space like? It is quite different from the High Security Space you have been in so far. Before you undock, make sure you have everything fitted and working on the ship, you could also buy insurance if you feel like it. Make sure your clone is up to date and covers your skill points.
These are the four basic things you need to know about w-space.

First it has no concord, it is 0.0 security space. That means that everyone can shoot you and they won't get concorded or loose security status, like in High-sec. That means also that everyone will shoot you! Assume no one friendly. It also means Bubbles. Warp Disruption Bubbles are anchored/ launched/activated Spheres that prevent you from warping while you are inside them. If you get caught in one of these and enemies are close they will catch you easy.

Second, there is no local chat list with players in system. So you never know who is around and watching you. Local chat only gets active if you speak in it, you will reveal yourself to everyone but you still wont see anyone there, so don’t do it if you want to be hidden.
Thirdly, wormholes work different then gates to travel through them. There are some important rules you need to remember, the first is to bookmark the wormhole on each side. So bookmark the one you found on the outside. Then you need to click it on the overview and open up info on it.It will tell you about its status. 
Wormholes have a limit on time and mass. If time is up, it will close, also if big ships with mass jumped through them, they will collapse and close. Avoid these wormhole keywords if you seem them in the description: “Critical" or "reaching the end of its natural lifetime". Critical means there is very little mass left on the wormhole and even a frigate might collapse it. A cruiser most certainly will. 

Reaching the end of its natural lifetime means, that there are 4 hours or less (the less part is important) of life on the connection. It might collapse any minute. They also look different in space, they wobble faster and look shaky.
If you see a wormhole with these it is a risk to enter and you might need to find another way out.
So the next thing you can see from the description, it will give you a number, like k162 or c125.
These descriptions tell you about the destination a wormhole leads to. A k162 is the most common, because it is the exit of another wormhole. So its always k162 on one side, it also means someone opened that wormhole from the other side. 

Here is a website that lets you identify the wormhole class and static:

You can type in the static there, for example c125 and it will tell you the wormhole connections time and mass and system where it leads to, go and try it out for c125.
Back? So you now know that a c125 is a class 2 wormhole connection with 16h time and 1 million mass. Wormholes have different classes. A higher class means more mass and time and usually harder sleepers. Sleepers? Yes, sleepers. The npc rats of wormhole space are very dangerous and in every anomaly. Even mining grav sites can have them. They will kill your frigate easy. They wont pod you and they wont be on wormholes, so that’s something.

Have you noticed the description also gives away a bit more? If you see a k162 you don’t know where it leads to from wormnav, but the description will say something like unknown parts of space. This means it leads to a class 1,2 or 3 wormhole. Dangerous unknown is 4 and 5. deadly unknown is a class 6 wormhole. And sometimes wormholes just lead to lowsec or another highsec system or even a nullsec system.

Here is a more in-depth article about wormholes: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Wormholes

The forth item you need to remember is the wormhole timer. A wormhole will only let you jump through twice, then you have to wait 5 minutes until you can jump again through the same wormhole. This can be used to catch you for example. If you are in w-space and enter a wormhole, see enemies, jump back then you are polarized, meaning you can not jump back into this wormhole for the 5 minutes, so you are stuck on the other side if you get warp disrupted. The 5 minute timer is called polarity.

There is no aggression timer on wormholes, so you can be shot on one side, jump and they can shoot you on the other side right then and there. On gates they have to wait 1 minute until they can do that.

Many times the timer is said to be 4 minutes for jumping wormholes. But that is false. It is actually 5 minutes. You already take a few seconds of that timer when you jump and load grid, waiting out the session change timer etc. So it looks like less then 5 minutes.

What can we do in w-space:
The basic things you can do in w-space, if you are brand new is explore, you can scan sites and other wormholes, look for inhabitants and enjoy the scenery, wormhole space is quite beautiful:

You can also do risky stuff, like I did in my other story, steal wrecks for example. All you need is some will and blatant disregard for your ship ;)

Remember a frigate is quite hard to catch, you are by far faster then anything into warp and speed. So you can outrun enemies, if they are in bigger ships. It is however also fragile so dont hesitate to warp off or run away. Its like a rabbit, hard to catch easy to kill.
There is one important tool I need to tell you about before you jump into the wormhole (finally! Ugh, wont Kara stop blabbering on!)

Dscan as we call it. The directional scanner is your way to success and keeps you safe. And your enemies worried! :) Every ship has a dscan and it works like a sonar in space, pinging a whole sphere around your ship for other ships or stuff. It works together with the overview. Open it up with Alt-d. It is right next to the probe scanner window.
It will look something like this:

You can scan like I did there in all directions, or you can narrow it like a cone (ice-cream, I should eat ice-cream) to scan almost anything down. It wont show you cloaky ships, but everything else will be there, with the limit of 14,4au. Together with the map of the solar system it is a powerful tool. Here is a good guide how to use it, play a bit with it in highsec and see if you can find miners at belts, watch a station undock etc: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Directional_Scanner_Guide

So you jumped into the wormhole and bookmarked it. I hope you did? Do it, make it a habit.
Don’t move! If you don’t move or activate a module you get 1 minute invulnerability to check what is going on. So for a bit you are perfectly safe.

Hit dscan, if there are no ships you are good to go for now. Jump range for wormholes is 5km. So if you are under 5km you can enter it, gates are 2,5km and stations 500m.
If you are unlucky and there is someone right there with you, just jump back to highsec, you can wait on the wormhole and see if she/he follows. They cant do anything to you in HS. Just don’t jump right back in, or you get polarity and might get killed.

So if no one seems to be there and dscan shows no ships you are pretty save. Well relatively, there might be cloakys watching you :) but that is half the fun.

We will now make a midway safe-spot. Pick a planet far away and warp to it at 100km. While in warp open the bookmark system (maybe you have it still open from saving the wormhole?) with alt-e and places → add location. It will pop up a window, just hit submit. Congrats, you just made yourself a save-spot no one can warp to but you for now.

If it didn’t quite work the first time, try it again warping to other planets. Avoid Moons and signatures, I will tell you later why.

So if you got the safe-spot, warp to it. Keep watching dscan. If you see combat scanner probes, warp off to another safe-spot further away. Or you can keep moving in your frigate with the mwd. It will be very hard at 3km/s to warp right on top of you and catch you in time.

So now that we are reasonable safe we can scan signatures in the wormhole, maybe there are more wormholes to explore, higher class wormholes or nullsec systems to find. Or maybe you find a ladar site to gas mine later with a venture and the whole system is so quiet you can risk it. This can be quite profitable. I know the gas mine skill book costs an arm and a leg when you start, but it will yield much more isk then any mining you can do. Also some gas sites are in HS, so go look for those also. Since wormhole anomalies are so different to HS ones you can check here what you will encounter: http://eve-survival.org/wikka.php?wakka=WormholeSpace

So you see even a normal grav site will have bad sleepers that kill you... But a secret, ladar sites will spawn the rats after 15 minutes. So you can suck gas for a bit and when they appear just warp away. Beware of those with sentrys, they will spawn right away.
Most times you have time enough to warp out with a frigate if you land and warp off right away. I wouldn’t bet on it tho.

Warping to a site at range (100km) is also ok, but sleepers have also quite the range, so be careful. They will go after you. And even the frigates pack a punch. You can kill easy wormhole sites in a very well tanked cruiser or better a battlecruiser. Frigates and Destroyers will die.

So we have established Sleepers bad! Why are moons bad then? Moons can have a POS, a Player Owned Starbase. This is where wormhole dwellers like me live, because there are no stations in wormhole space. So we bring our own stations, complete with ship hangars, module bays, guns, warp disruptors, shield and even pleasure deck. I also have a corpse collection there...

They look like this, maybe you have seen one in HS at a moon:

Here I am watching a POS from some wormhole corp. You can see it has guns around it and someone is inside. The POS can shoot you and lock you with warp disruptors in w-space.
They can also do that in NS or LS, so be careful not to warp to one with your fragile frigate. In HS you will be fine tho, you can have a look around and explore them.

Later on with a cloaked ship you are able to watch a POS in any space safely, and see what people do there.

Fly a bit around in the wormhole, explore and go sightseeing, there are some nice planets in w-space and you can even dare to try to warp at range to sites and bugger off after a very quick look. Might also work at POSes, but you have been warned, more then land, and right away warp off is not a good idea. Better to watch them from afar with dscan. :)

So this concludes a first introduction to exploration in wormholes, next time I will tell you a bit how to make isk in w-space. This will also be for a bit more advanced players, but I will included a training program to get you there.

In the meantime, don’t be afraid, like I was, poke around and try mad stuff, you will learn a lot and many skill that is applicable in every day eve life. If you know how to scan and dscan, you can be a valuable scout for pretty much any fleet for example. Many skills in EVE are not character based, learning the mechanics and workings will keep you safe and help you have fun.

For questions and comments either pm me in game, or write me here on my blog.
Have fun!

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