Skirmishing

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Introduction

The main objectives of skirmishing scout are:

  • to scan a few systems ahead of the main gang and help keep the gang out of harms way
  • to find targets for the gang

A skirmishing scout acts as the Fleet Commander's extra set of eyes in the next system in addition to catching targets for the gang. Such scout should be proficient with use of the ship scanner and able to find and warp to the target within 30 to 45 seconds of entering the system. The only way to reach this level, is to practice, practice, and practice some more until skirmishing and scouting become second nature to you. Taking on scouting duty for the gang as often as you can is the only way of becoming a fast and effective scout and skirmisher.

A skirmishing scout thinks on his own and anticipates FC's orders (this is something that will come to you when flying regularly with a particular FC). He or she does not wait for the FC's commands before making the next move, jumping into next system, scanning out a possible target, or tackling when opportunity arises. However, it also has to be kept in mind that FC has the final say on movements and actions of gang's scouts.

The importance of skirmishing scout in a gang is often underestimated. A gang with an outstanding FC and XO is merely a patrolling gang if they have a scout that isn't able to scan out a target and lock it down.

Scanning

Ship Scanner

The scanner can be accessed through Ctrl+F11. Quick summary on how to use ship scanner is as follows:

  • Open ship scanner and click on "Directional Scan" tab
  • Set range as required. For maximum range input 999999999999+ and click elsewhere. This will give you scan range of 14.4 AU.
  • Keep in mind that 1 AU is approximately 150 million km. You can set ship scanner manually to scan at different ranges.
  • Check on "Use Active Overview Settings". This will make your ship scanner results show only items that you also have visible on your overview. If you are scanning for interdictor warp disrupt probes or scan probes check this option off.
  • Use the Angle setting to narrow down where target ship is in system. Zoom out and click on your ship which will make a white box appear over it. This box is the exact center of scan. To scan something down at a narrow angle rotate your camera such that this box overlaps a belt or planet, set degrees to 30, 15, or 5 and click on scan.

Overview

Refer to the following article, Overview Setup, if you need a refresher on how to set up your overview. The overview and ship scanner of skirmishing scout have to be set up properly to enable him or her to enter system and localize targets within it in under a minute's time. Having the right overview set up is critical to avoid being flooded with information and unable to respond fast because you have to sort through it.

A good start is to make sevenal "scouting" overview tabs and use them when you are acting as skirmishing scout for your gang. Each scout will have their preferences, however, here are a few recommendations on how to set this up:

Create a general skirmishing tab that includes the following objects:

  • All ship types
  • Stations
  • Stargates
  • Mobile Warp Disruptors
  • Beacons (for cynosural fields)
  • Bombs (for those pesky stealth bombers who might try to bomb you)

Optional things to include are planets and control towers. Some people like to have them on while others prefer not to. Do not include asteroid belts and wrecks showing because they will just clutter your overview make it difficult for you to sort through results and localize targets.

Create a new overview tab and put on it only ships, wrecks, and cans. When you enter a new system click on this tab to make it be your active one and enable your ship scanner to use overview settings. Then do a 360 degree scan. If you pick up NPC wrecks on scan, it is quite possible that someone in the system is currently ratting or has been recently ratting (wrecks last 2 hours). Alternatively if you enter a system that has no wrecks but some people in local, it is likely that they are idling at POSes or engaging in other activities. This is how you know whether you should ignore asteroid belts and proceed directly to the next system en route or go out scanning. You can also switch to this tab whenever you are looting wrecks or picking up cans (which should be disabled from your general scouting tab).

Warning: Wrecks will also be generated by people doing complexes or missions. In general you are not interested in mission wrecks unless you have a scan prober around and gang is willing to sit there and wait for him to get a hit on the person running a plex or mission site. These wrecks however have distinctive names so you can easily tell them apart from belt wrecks. Mission/plex wrecks usually have pithi, coreli, corpi, gisti in their names instead of serpentis, guristas, sansha, or blood.

Create a third overview tab and put on it planets, asteroid belts, ships, stations, gates, and control towers. Use this tab whenever you are trying to pinpoint someone to a particular belt. This tab is also useful if you're trying to see how many belts there are in system.

Create a 4th 'variable' overview tab and apply filters to it is required. Some situations come up rarely but require you being able to see additional objects on the overview. In this case you can just switch filters on the 'variable' tab.

You should have the following two filters handy:

  • Drones. If you are a small ship like an interceptor or frigate, you might be requested to shoot down drones. In this case it helps to have them on overview to be able to lock them.
  • Fighters. Same thing as with drones. To have an easier time locking fighters, you can create a separate filter for them.


Overview columns: You want to have Type column turned on on your overview. In case you jump into a gate camp, you will be able to quickly look up ship types present on grid by looking at what's listed in this column. Another two columns that might come useful are velocity and size.


Basics of Scanning

Upon entering a system take a peek at local. If local is empty or friendly, proceed directly to the next destination gate.

If you see some neutrals in system and you are scouting, peek at the grid, do a 360 scan to see if you can pick up any ships on it, and let your FC know about your findings. Assess how it would be best to pinpoint location of any targets within system. Remember, scouting is all about speed, and speed is about scanning as much of the system as possible within the shortest period of time.

You may want to open solar system mini-map by pressing F11. If you're playing on Mac Os, F11ing might not be an option. In this case right click anywhere in space in system and pick "Show Solar System In Map Browser". This will open a mini-map of the solar system on right hand side for you.

Step 1: Situation Assessment

Take a look at your overview, and if required press F11 to get a quick overview of the system again on the mini-map. For example, I am scouting in Hemin and have just jumped through the Jorund gate, there are several neuts in local. Grid is empty (not camps). A quick peek of my overview shows the following:

 Shipscan2.JPG


This tells me the following:

  • A 360 scan from my position will provide results up to and including Planet VI.
  • Planet VII, IX, both stations and RMOC gate are beyond my scan range. This means I will need to warp to an object close to these objects to be able to scan their vicinity.

Step 2: Initial Scan

After hitting the scan button, my directional scanner comes back with the following:

 Shipscan1.JPG

From this scan I can tell the following:

  • There is an Apocalypse on scan. It is somewhere within 14AU of me.
  • The wrecks on overview are clearly wrecks of mission rats, not belts rats.
  • It is likely that this Apocalypse is doing a mission, so I cannot tackle it but will inform FC about the situation.

Step 3: Next Steps

Scanning down a ship boils down to one simple concept: you are attempting to get a scan result showing the ship and one celestial object. If you are successful, the ship is more than likely at the celestial returned to which you can warp and report the situation to FC. However there is always a chance he's in open space sitting in a safespot near the celestial. This can be resolved by changing distance settings on your scanner. In general, you will have to change the following settings to narrow down a target:

  • Setting range: Changing angle is a quicker way to pinpoint targets but sometimes changing range is also of use.
  • Changing your overview settings: Sometimes you will want your overview to include more details when you're in process of scanning a target down. For this purpose you may want to set up different overview tabs to quickly switch between overview settings.
  • Setting angle: When you enter system first do a quick 360 scan. You may then do 180 or 90 degree scans to see which half/quarter of the system the target is in. Eventually your goal is to do 5-10 degree scans to pinpoint it down to a single celestial object.

A 360 degree scan scans as a bubble around your ship. All other scans scan as a cone. Since EVE is 3D, if you are on a 60 degree scan, you need to be aware of the vertical plane. Most EVE systems are on a flat plane, however there are a few exceptions to the rule, usually stargates. Now, the angle of the scan is based upon which way your camera is facing, not where your ship is facing. If you open solar system mini-map by pressing F11, you can see how your screen's field of view (FOV) and the Ship Scanner correlates:

  • The ship scanner angle has been set to 90 degrees
  • The white cone on the F11 panel shows my screen's field of view
  • The green cone on the F11 panel shows what my scanner's field of view
  • If I were to rescan with a reduced angle, the results would only include those objects within the green cone
 Shipscan3.JPG

Step 4: Wrapping up

Think of scanning as cutting up a pizza. On the pizza is a single anchovy, and we are at the exact center of the pizza. The initial 360 scan shows that we have a hit on the anchovy. My next step is to usually immediately drop to a 90 degree scan and perform 4 scans (1 north, 1 west, 1 south, 1 east), i.e. I have divided the pizza into 4 slices. If the anchovy shows on the southern slice, I reassess what other celestials are returned.

If there is only a single celestial on scan, I have probably found my target. If it returns a single planet and 10 asteriods, I will warp to the planet so I can better scan the asteriods. It's a simple process of elimination, and every pilot has their own preferences. The key is to be as quick as possible, and it comes best with practice.

Main thing is keep it simple and efficient, start scanning at a higher number of degrees and when you gain experience you will notice that you go down fast, i usually start off at 360, then 90, 30 or 15 and end up at 5 or sometime not even bother with 5 degrees. It all depends on the system layout and the space in between Belts etc etc.

Practice practice and practice some more.

Summary of Key Scanning Keys:

  • F11: This will open the System Overview, focus only on the bottom most box the System Display
  • CTRL+F11: Opens up the Ship Scanner
  • ALT: Press and hold this key, it will give you a sort of Cross Hair square in the middle of your ship which represents the scanning centre of your ship (i.e. helps you establish where the center of scanning cone is). It will also show the Moons in space.


A video on the use of the Directional Scanner is now available on Agony's Youtube page. Introduction to the Directional Scanner

Skirmishing

Finding the target is only the first step. The next step is to get the tackle and hold it until your gang mates arrive. Some key concepts to this process are:

Tackle

Your target, if it is not stupid, will have one to several anti-tackle defenses. These defenses may include any one of the following:

  • Warp Scrambler - This modules deactivate microwarpdrives. Its max range is 9km, a bit further if overheated, and 18km on Arazu/Lachesis.
  • Stasis webifiers - These reduce ships's maximum velocity by 50-60%.
  • Small T2 drones - Typically Warrior II's that do explosive damage.
  • Energy neutralizer - Neutralizers eat up ship's capacitor making it unable to run microwarpdrive and warp disruptor. Once you warp disruptor drops the target warps out. Heavy neutralizers reach to about 25km, medium ones to about 10km.
  • Agility - Agility has been boosted since Quantum Rise patch. If your target is aligned, it will simply warp out as you land in the belt.
  • Cloak - many ratters will fit cloaks on their ships and cloak up as soon as they spot you in local. Their speed while cloaked is very slow, so if you have seen where the ship has cloaked you may approach the location to try to decloak it.

Some planning and thought needs to be given to your fittings to counter the above mentioned defenses. Your fitting decisions will also in part be based upon the purpose of the gang. Here are a few considerations to hold in mind:

  • Warp Disruptors are critical for placing a point on target from extended ranges. If you fit a warp scrambler, often you will not be able to close the gap to 10km fast enough and the target will warp out. Use scramblers as auxiliary to warp disruptors.
  • Warp Scramblers are critical to slow down fast targets, including those trying to burn back to a gate. You need to slow down the target enough for slower ships in your gang to pick up the tackle, so that even if you die in process you will be rewarded with a kill in return.
  • Webs compliment Scrams nicely. However if you have to pick, deactivating the MWD is more effective than a webifier, unless your target has an AB. In 0.0, many cruiser-sized ships fit MWD, however, AB's are common on AF's and Frigs.
  • AB vs MWD. The biggest penalty about MWD is the sig radius boost, however, interceptors now get a ship bonus to reduce this penalty. There are a few viable uses for an AB inty but this does significantly reduce the ability of the pilot to get points on targets.

Communication

Communicate to your FC as clearly and concisely as possible. Spend an extra few seconds to consolidate the data you wish to communicate. If there are 50 ships sitting on the gate you just came through, spamming vent with each and every ship type when you are in a 5 man frig gang is not necessary. A summarized "50 man HAC / battleship gang" report is quite sufficient. The FC has a lot of intel to process. Help him out with this by being as succinct as possible.

Remember that scouting and skirmishing is about speed. Relay all the important information to your FC but do not let intel reports delay your own movements. If you see a target, place a point on it, don't sit there telling your FC that you're going to place a point on it while it warps off.

Intel Reports

Two key things to remember about giving intel reports:

  • Always start with: "Recon:" <pause> "your character's name in x system on x celestial". In other words: "Recon", wait a second for Vent chatter to clear, "Secluse in X-7 on the LT gate got a point on Harbinger". It is difficult for FC to keep track of all incoming information and he or she might believe that you are in a different system or on a different gate. FC can then make the wrong decision and warp the gang into the very massively huge blob fleet you are trying to provide intel on. So make sure to always clearly state where you are in your recon report.
  • Try summarize the report clearly as outlined above. Then in the words of my mentor "try sound bored giving your report". It helps remove inflections in the voice to provide a clear report that can be understood.

Target Assessment

In recon reports, scouts and skirmishers should perform a risk assessment and feed FC with key data about composition of enemy fleet. Help your FC in decision making process by by calling out key tactical targets, for example:

  • If there are HICs, Dictors or mobile warp disruptors on scan
  • Recons - Curses, Rapiers, Arazu's, Falcons, etc.
  • Logistics ships - Basilisk, Guardian, Scrimitar, Oneiros
  • Other key strategic targets (high value or high risk, such as capitals, T2 battleships, etc.)

When going against another gang try to get as many targets tackled as possible. Be aware who else in your gang has disruptors, scramblers, and webs fitted. When FC calls primary target and other gang members have it locked and tackled move on to tackle the next available target.

Local vs. Grid vs. Scan

There are 3 sources of Intel available to a skirmisher: 1) the all-seeing eye of local 2) what he can eyeball on his own grid 3) and what his ship scanner can eyeball beyond his grid and up to 14.4AU. Each source provides different intel:

  • Local: When entering a system give a short report of local, ex: "There are 8 neutrals in local". If there are more than 2-3 people in a 0.0 system without a station, it is possible that there is a small roaming gang in vicinity. Most definitely there is a gang in system if there are 10+ pilots in local and no outpost. You may potentially also want to check corp/alliance of those in local if this does not slow you down too much.
  • Grid: If vicinity of gate is clear report "gate is clear" or "grid is clear". Alternatively if there is a gang / camp on grid try to gather as much information about it as possible before making your way out - report things like size of gang, key ships (interdictors, HICs, falcons, etc.), if there is a bubble up and what kind, how the ships are positioned around the gate.
  • 360 Scan: Do a quick 360 scan of the area surrounding you. Report to FC ships you see on scan as well as if there are any POS towers in vicinity. If you're picking up a lot of ships and a few POS towers on 360 scan, it is very likely that those ships are sitting at a POS. In this case provide a concise report "picking up 4 ships on 360 and two control towers, one is a Raven". Shuttles and nooships don't need a mention.

In short, you are trying to summarize the information as much as possible, while still calling out strategic targets to help the FC calculate the risk / reward of proceeding further. Every FC will have a different style, but from my perspective a scout is only as good as his or her ability to communicate what he or she sees, and a skirmisher is only as good as his or her ability to tackle. Work on developing a communication style and you will only become a better skirmisher.

TAMS

There is a great document outlining this concept: Tactical Miniwarp.
To summarize the above article: Small fast ships are fantastic in allowing the larger fleet to move around quickly across the grid by mini-warping to the small fast ship. TAMs can be used offensively, as in making the fleet warp directly on top of the target. They can also be used defensively, as in helping the fleet escape some danger of avoid getting probed out.

Combat Interceptors, Skirmishers, and Covops

A roaming gang might encounter targets that are not within the reach of gang's skirmishers. For example, a gang enters system X and sends their skirmisher to a system Y, while a target ship is picked up on scanner entering system X from system Z. In this case it is good to have additional tacklers traveling with main fleet that will go ahead and try to tackle the target while the skirmishing scout is a system away.

Many targets will proceed to warp to safespots and try to wait out the gang. They know that many gangs do not bring scan probes with them. In such situation having a covops pilot in covops ship armed with scan probes can be invaluable.

Skirmisher: Skirmishing Scouts, covops scouts, and rear/front guards are there to provide intel, and to catch ships before they get to the main fleet, as well as provide an intel buffer that lets the FC know what's going on in the adjacent systems. The skirmishing scouts also have responsibility to catch and hold targets.

Combat Interceptor: The combat interceptors are tacklers of the main fleet. As such they travel with the fleet. They engage targets of opportunity that the fleet may encounters. They also function to drive off enemy interceptors and provide TAMs and TACs for the fleet.

Covert Ops: Covert ops ships are small and agile and can warp around cloaked. They have good chances of making it out of any hostile camp. In gangs they can be used as supplementary scouts, scouting systems and pockets that branch from gang's main route. Flying around cloaked they can provide intel on enemy without enemy knowing that they are on grid, observing. Main role of covops ships in gangs is scan probing safespotted ships. For this purpose they should always fit a Recon Probe Launcher.

Here is an example:

 SaS.png

Examples

Reporting Your Movements

Reporting should be short but should also contain as much useful info as possible.

  • "Scout, moving into LTS, friendly out". Make sure to report friendly gate activations.
  • "Scout, LTS local is clear moving to XYZ gate". Gang can/will then move into LTS system.
  • "Scout, XYZ has 2 in local, nothing on grid, nothing on 360." or "Scout, XYZ has 7 in local, nothing on grid, Vaga and Dominix on scan, one POS tower" and after some time checking their information "5 of those in local belong to Morsus Mihi alliance".

When a system has too many players in local than your gang can handle, your priority is getting the gang in and through that system safely. Go to a tactical off the gate and keep scanning the gate and reporting changes. When the gang jumps in you go to the next gate and keep scanning while you warp off, report changes. At the tactical off the next gate, report if it is clear or not. Depending on what is on the gate, proceed through the gate and report it by saying: "Scout moving into system M, friendly out" Once you and the gang are out of all imminent danger and have moved a few systems away, you can get back to the finding targets.

Reporting Potential Tackle

  • While already in warp to belt X-8: "Raven in belt X-8 warping to it". This report is to get the gang ready for action.
  • When Raven has been pointed: "Point on target, warp to Piwata Bee, warp to Piwata Bee". Your key role here it to keep a point on target until the gang arrives.
  • It is up to FC to order the gang to jump and either warp the gang or let them warp on their own towards you. Once the gang has arrived, your role as a skirmisher / scout is complete. At this point if your gang has multiple points on the target, you should usually disengage and get next system to provide intel or to catch the target if it escapes to the gate. Your role is to scout and catch, not to deal out damage or kill targets. The intel and ability to re-tackle targets that run back to the gate are more valuable than the 60 DPS you'll be adding.