A Comprehensive Guide to Cynosural Fields and Jump Drives
Original text by Rells
Unlike most ships in the game, capital ships (with the exception of Jump Freighters) may not use stargates to move around. Although there is a lot of backstory around just why that is, the reality is that its that way because CCP says so. Therefore, it requires a bit of teamwork to move these ships. The movement is accomplished by a pilot dropping a cynosaural field for the capital pilot and the capital pilot engaging his jump drive to jump to that field. Once the capital pilot jumps, the behavior is similar to that of a stargate jump except for the fact that the capital pilot ends up somewhere randomly within 5km of the cynosaural field that was dropped. These are the basics of the system but the actual specifics get much more involved.
The Basics of Jump Drives and Jump Portals
A standard jump drive is a part build into the hull of a capital ship. It comes in carriers, dreadnoughts, jump freighters, capital industrial ships, titans and motherships. The black ops ships have a covert jump drive which is a little different than the ones in the capital ships. In addition titans can open jump portals and black ops ships can open covert jump portals. Finally, a POS with a jump bridge can be linked to another POS to create a semi-permanent jump portal between the two POSes.
A jump drive will instantly transport a ship from one system to another system whereas a jump portal will allow other ships to use the portal to accomplish the same effect as a jump drive. When you arrive in the other system, you will be within about 5km of the cynosaural field that was laid own by another pilot as opposed to being on the gate itself. This allows you to jump right to stations, POS structures and so on. The ship that drops the cynosural field fits a module to the ship and activates that module which creates the field. The field is represented by a big lightning storm in space centered on where it was dropped. Its important to remember two things about dropping a cynosural field; first of all the ship dropping the field will be frozen in place, unable to cloak, move, jump, warp or self-destruct for the duration of the field. Note that this includes logging off emergency warping -- you will not auto warp out. In addition, a normal cynosural field will be a beacon in the system that anyone can warp directly to if they choose to do so; however a covert cynosural field will not be broadcast as such a beacon. Finally, if the ship laying the cynosural field gets destroyed, the field will fail. You can not kill the field itself.
In order to accomplish this, the ship making the jump or creating the portal is required to have certain amounts of ice based fuel in its cargo hold at the time of the jump. Without sufficient fuel, the jump can't happen. Each race has a specific fuel that it needs to execute the jump or create the portal. In addition, the ship that is deploying the cynosaural field must have enough Liquid Ozone, another ice product, to drop the field. The amount of fuel needed to jump varies by ship type, distance and skill of the character. The amount of liquid ozone needed to deploy the cynosural field to varies by ship type and skill of the player. Although any ship can drop a regular cynosural field, some ships are more appropriate than others. We will discuss the differences in the next section. Finally, in order to drop a cynosural field, the player must have at least level 1 in Cynosural Field Theory.
Keep in mind that at the current time, only black ops battleships can use a covert cynosural field for jumping or creating a portal and they can not use a regular cynosural field. This is a strong limitation on the usefulness of those ships but it is, at the current time, the state of affairs.
Cynosural Field Placement and Dynamics
Since dropping of a cynosural field broadcasts its location and freezes the ship dropping it, its proper placement is of paramount importance. Improper placement can easily lead to the loss of a capital ship. Furthermore, selecting the right ship for dropping the field is essential.
Since the ship jumping into the cynosural field can appear anywhere on the sphere 5km in radius from the center of the field, it is essential to make sure that no part of that field crosses any ship model, station, structure or other models. If the capital ship appears on top of a station or structure, it will be forcibly ejected out of the structure and "bounce" off the station a long way. This will mean the ship will have to crawl back into range to dock. This is an extremely hazardous situation. In addition, if the capital ship appears where it is not in docking range then the ship can get webbed and bumped and blocked from docking. Your goal is to get the cynosural field placed precisely at the point where any point on that 5km sphere reads as 0m from the station and no point on that sphere crosses the model of the station or other structure.
The easiest way to accomplish the proper placement is to use a salvager module on your cyno ship. The salvager is placed online and the pilot opens his tactical display. Now by hovering over the salvager, the pilot will see a sphere that indicates the range of the salvager in space. Since all salvagers have a 5km range, this is a great tool for cyno placement. The pilot moves toward the station and then positions the ship in such a way that all areas covered by the bubble of the salvager are free of obstacles. Then the pilot makes sure that all points on the sphere will be within 0m of the station. If the pilot isnt sure, they should recruit the help of some friends to verify the spot while holding position at the proposed cyno spot. The other pilots fly to pints on the sphere at the direction of the cyno pilot and verify range to the station. Once the spot is established, it should be bookmarked for future reference. A marking syntax such as
[V-M2-SOE] CYNO for the Sisters of Eve station works just fine. To get back to that spot the best thing to do is to warp out and warp right back into the cyno spot. Approaching a bookmark always has some margin of error whereas warping is more reliable assuming you are only warping yourself.
Be aware that the appearance some station models is different between the classic and premium clients. Some stations have bits of the structure that are only visible in the premium client but will still "bounce" a ship in both clients. It is advised that any cyno spot be verified in BOTH clients to be certain that the cyno will be more that 5km from the station structure.
When placing a cynosural field at a POS keep in mind that you cant place it inside the shield of the POS. This means your ships will have to fly to get inside the safety of the POS. More fragile ships like jump freighters are problematic because they can potentially get killed before they can get inside the shield. For this reason you are probably better off placing the cyno field some distance off the POS but still within the POS's range and mini-warping the capital in. For example, if you place the cyno spot at 60km off the tower and then bookmark a spot on the opposite side of the tower 100km off, the ship jumping in will be able to mini-warp into the POS limiting its exposure to hostile fire. It goes without saying that you need to be careful of doing jump operations when there are numerous hostile ships in space.
As a final note on placement, when you do finally deploy the field, also make sure that there are no ships in the range of the cynosural field to prevent any mishaps.
Selecting a Cyno Ship
As we said before, any ship with a high slot can be used to place a cynosural field so long as it can hold sufficient liquid ozone. However, certain types of ships are preferred for the operation for various reasons. The tech 1 frigate or destroyer is often used as a disposable ship but has the drawback of requiring a lot of fuel, being pinned by the cynosural field for 10 minutes and being extremely fragile. By contrast, the larger ships such as a drake are more able to survive the onslaught of people who see a cyno ship as a free kill but still has the fuel and time requirements of a tech 1 frigate. Remote repair devices can be adequately employed against battlecruisers and battleships ship to keep them alive. Finally, the Recon ships are the cream of the crop for dropping cynosural fields. Despite their heritage of being EWAR ships, they can be set up to be very tough and they can also benefit from the fact that they consume much less fuel and are only pinned in position for 5 minutes. A properly set up Falcon will have over 100k effective HP, high resists, 300 DPS passive regeneration of shields and consume only 60 liquid ozone at Recon Ships 4 Cynosural Field Theory 4. Cynosural recon ships are a powerful force and can be easily tanked by the carriers coming in.
If you can't fly a cynosural recon ship, don't immediately jump for the tech 1 frigate. Think about a tanking drake or another tanking battlecruiser. A broadsword or another HIC with a heavy tank can do well at cynosural work. In addition, your tech 1 frigate will last seconds in a large fight whereas the larger ships can do better at "hot drops" (dropping capitals into a hot combat situation). When dropping a cynosural field at a POS, survivability is not as much of a question as liquid ozone fuel consumption.
Packing for Carrier and Rorqual Logistics
When packing for logistics with capital ships there are some important rules you need to consider. First of all, there can only be items of the type "charges" in your cargo hold. This includes ammo, cap boosters, scan probes, warp disrupt probes and so on. Note that drones can be in the drone bay but not in the cargo bay. The reasoning for these restrictions lies in CCP's futile attempt to push people into not using carriers for logistics. Unfortunately Jump freighters are too expensive, slow, fragile and problematic to use in hostile situations so the carrier is still the primary means of deep space logistical operations. The Rorqual has a high cargo capacity but can only hold barges and industrials (with the same restrictions mentioned above) in its ship maintenance bay. Therefore carriers are primarily used to move ships and Rorquals for bulk items. Since a Rorqual can't compress minerals, only ore, minerals are largely constructed into objects and then refined back out at the destination. Ships moved in carrier ship maintenance bays must be assembled. You should check with your corporation on naming policies in order to make sure your shipment doesn't get lost. In AGONY, pilots name their ship with their pilot name and its destination. Courier contracts work well for moving items other than ships and adding a bonus tip for moving your stuff to the contract is nice.
You should consider the carrier's cargo hold as off limits when calculating how much you can move because the carrier will need that space for fuel for jumps. Knowing what kind of fuel your carrier pilot needs and volunteering to move some of it for your corporation will make you valuable to the corporation.
Deploying a Cynosural Field and Executing a Jump
There are distinct differences between dropping a cynosural field for logistics and combat.
Dropping for Logistics
When dropping a cyno for a logistic jump you should follow the following checklist:
- Cyno Pilot and Capital pilot say who they are and what squad they are in.
- Is Local chat clear or at an acceptable level of risk?
- Is the spot for the cyno at the correct location and not touching any structure?
- Are all friendly ships clear of the jump zone?
- Do you possess enough fuel to make the cyno.
- Are you in a gang with the people that intend to jump to you (you can only jump to a gang mate)
- Is the Capital pilot ready to jump?
Once this list is verified, you pop the cyno and wait for the jump. The capital pilot will appear near you and have a 30 second session change timer in which to wait for docking. During that time, if you are in a tankable cyno ship and taking hostile fire, the capital will likely try to lay remote repairers on your ship. However, you should keep in mind that the capital pilot's first priority is to the capital ship and they will dock and lose the cyno ship rather than risk losing the capital.
Dropping for Combat
When dropping a cynosural field for combat, the situation is different. Because you will be exposed and right on top of hostile ships, the possibility of using a frigate for the field is gone. Instead you should focus on a good remote tank. A remote tank is one whereby you focus on boosting your resistances and hit points and trust the remote repairers to repair incoming damage, generally its a waste to have a repairer on a remote tanked ship. Cynosural Recon Ships and Battlecruisers work well for this. Your goal is to keep the cyno open, not die 2 seconds after you hit the button.
When dropping ships into combat make sure the capital pilots are appraised of the situation and know their primary targets and remote repair targets before they jump. Also make sure they dont' ricochet off POS structures, gates or stations with proper cyno field placement.
Warping a Capital Ship
The last issue we will talk about is how to support the warping of a capital ship. There are a number of ways a good support pilot can assist this task. Since capital pilots are slow they require a lot of help to warp. One of the easiest ways is to have friendly ships able to web the capital ship. A single hugin with 3 or 4 tech 2 webs or even a hyena can be a huge asset. As with all other ships warping, the capital must be pointed at its target and accelerated to nearly full speed to warp. With the webs, the top speed of a ship can drop to nearly 0, instigating much faster warping. In fact it works so well that there is nothing better for a battleship in a gate camp than a Hugin pilot that jumps the gun and snaps on the webs before the warp disruptors can get on the target. If you are jumping in at a POS and using a miniwarping technique or you are combat hot dropping or undocking a capital, have some webbing ships standing by ready to assist.