Null space is a different beast than W-space, and requires another mindset.
I brought out an interceptor last night and headed out into null, in the prowl for money and excitement. It’s hard to combine the two (if things are exciting you’re probably about to lose money), but I find exploration does just that.
Everyone’s familiar with known space, k-space. You’ve got your high security systems, your low security systems, and your null security systems. I’ve just moved into w-space, wormhole space, but before that I spent a lot of time there, and when doing my thing there I tend to worry about other things than when I move through null security. Last night I found myself constantly about to bookmark a stargate as I exited it; as is the process when exiting a wormhole (when in w-space always bookmark your exits kids!).
The big difference, a huge difference, is the local channel. Everyone that’s in the system is neatly listed, at all times. That means: you cannot really be surprised. There are no sudden appearances, klaxons screaming, your eyes filling with tears as your ship gets torn apart. Well, there is all that… but there are no sudden appearances, as long as you keep your wits about.
Knowing I’m alone in a system, actually knowing, makes hacking a site a relaxing minigame. If someone enters the system I can do a number of things, but my default setting is to assume the new arrival has the site scanned down from an earlier visit and is already in warp towards me, hoping to catch an explorer off guard.
These aren’t exactly trade secrets, and I’m sure there are better, safer, faster, methods out there. But this is how I go about it. Usually.
Assuming I haven’t been in the region before and don’t already have a bunch of bookmarks set up, this is how I go about it, starting from entering a system:
- Create a safe.
- I create a safe by warping towards a celestial (a planet at random) and mid-flight I drop a bookmark. That saves a location in between two fixed points in space (usually between the stargate and a planet).
- I warp to that bookmark. I then warp to another celestial and drop a second bookmark mid-flight. That second bookmark is my safe.
- Once I’m at my safe I launch probes if I haven’t already and cloak.
- I scan down all the signatures and add them to Tripwire.
- Anything worth hacking? I hack it.
- Before I leave the system I create perches at all the stargates.
- A perch is a position near an object that allows observation of that object, without being immediately accessible by anyone at the object in question.
- Always starting from my safe I warp towards a stargate and I drop a bookmark maybe 100k or so from it. That becomes my perch.
What are perches used for? Well, I worry about gatecamps. Specifically I worry about someone setting up a smartbomber at a stargate, in a position that is aligned between that stargate and another one. They keep those bombs going, an intrepid interceptor comes flying, interceptor flies through the field of a smartbomb and boom. Interceptor dead 😦
A perch, with suitable distance, and unaligned from any celestials, gives me a vantage point. When I travel through null I never warp from stargate to stargate, even if I’m alone in the system. I’ve done that, and the feeling of dread when someone enters the system while you’re in a long warp, ick.
So, from entering a system I’ve been in before I warp to (one of) my safespots. If I’m moving along I then warp to the perch of stargate I want to exit through. And from the perch I warp to the gate. This is so that if there are others in the system I can make sure there are no smarty bombers at the gate before I warp to it.
All of the above should of course be combined with a rather excessive and compulsive use of your ship’s directional scanner.
Need for speed
The process is a tedious one, first time going through a region. But it gets faster once your bookmarks are in place. And faster it has to be. There are a lot of other players out there, hunting the same signatures that you are. You need to get to them before they do, and you need to get out of there before they find you.
It’s a treasure hunt and a race. And you need to be willing to let things go when it gets too dangerous. The risks you take must be in proportion to how much you’re already carrying, and how easy or difficult it is for you to replace the ship you’re flying. The old adage still holds true: never fly what you cannot afford to lose.
In the end, all of the above is nonsense and bullshit. Are you having fun? Then you’re doing all right.