Ganking is the act of killing other players in online games, typically in a ‘gang’ (hence gang kill, or gank) or with the use of other surprise tactics to secure an advantage. Gankers set out to hunt and consistently kill vulnerable - often solo - players, and rarely pick ‘fair’ fights. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you don’t want to be caught by ‘em. In EVE Online, thanks to the long arm of CONCORD, K-space - and Highsec in particular - is billed as the safest kind. Some players, known as ‘carebears’, rarely leave the safe confines of this policed space. But in EVE, no one is safe. Even carebears have been spending most their lives living in a gankers’ paradise.
Few lessons are more valuable in EVE than learning how to avoid a ganking - it usually happens when you’re off-guard and potentially travelling with a full cargo hold - so we figured there was no better topic to put to our community of EVE veterans, which includes both gankers and ganked. You can find their hard-earned wisdom below.
Lesson #1: Accept reality
Nobody is gank-proof. Fact. This sentiment was echoed by a multitude of entrants, including @GamerGrrls (Kshal Aideron) who said: “First and foremost, accept the fact that no place is safe. If you undock, you’re killable.” But it’s not all grim tidings, they continue: “you can, however, still absolutely minimise the risk of being taken unaware.”
The more you understand the options available to you, the more you’ll understand how much control you have over the dangers of space.
Lesson #2: Don’t be a target
“How do you avoid getting ganked? Simple! Don’t be worth shooting in the first place.” @EVEILOnline
The best way to do that is to travel light. @RixxJavix warns against ever carrying PLEX or ship skins in your cargo. Why take the risk of hauling PLEX when it can be transported via the PLEX Vault or contracts? Though there’s no vault for skins, there’s still no need to haul them - they can be activated from anywhere.
Much as you wouldn’t want to walk through dark alleyways shining your iPhone 14 at your Rolex, you also don’t want to fly around space in your shiniest ship. EVEIL reminds players of the EVE mantra ‘don’t fly what you can’t replace’, and explains that the best way to prevent “the more discerning gankers from taking potshots at you” is by being a low-value target.
“This doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to flying bad ships, but if a T2 fitted Marauder can do the job, why put a target on your back by fitting blingy modules?”
Of course, this isn’t foolproof; remember lesson #1. EVEIL makes that point abundantly clear:
“Some people just log in and decide they’re going to make something explode, regardless of the loot it drops. One day, that explosion will be your ship.”
Lesson #3: Fit up; be smart
Kshal Aideron points out that sometimes you simply have to transport high-value cargo or whack out your Incursion ship and “fly something blingy through space”. If that’s the case, there are still best practices to employ.
Kshal’s advice is to ‘brick tank’ - doubling up your tank to essentially turn yourself into a giant floating space turtle - and to “carry your shiny modules separately in a fast, aligned ship.” EVEIL agrees, adding the following advice:
“Always fit the biggest tank you can. Passive is best. Ganks happen so fast that a shield booster isn’t going to do you any good. Also, avoid modules that decrease your tank, such as cargo expanders. They appear useful up until the point that your ship dies, and your loot fills someone else’s cargo.”
As EVEIL points out, there’s an alternative to being a space turtle: being a space ghost. “If you’re flying something that can cloak, use it. Gankers have scouts that scan ships, but they can’t scan what they can’t see.”
EVEIL’s final piece of advice for gank-avoiding ship choices is to pilot a ship that can align in less than two seconds. They say that this is almost as good as a cloak because “it makes it impossible for all but the most specialised of ships to lock you, and they can’t shoot what they can’t lock.”
When it gets down to the finer details, EVE is a game of exceptions. And @JAKEL33T presents an advanced technique that breaks many of the rules above. Miners using alts who wish to warp their entire fleet home to safety can forget turtling and, contrary to EVEIL’s advice, should equip expanded cargo holds. It’s done using a combination of Higgs anchors, bookmarks, scrupulous fleet formation, and coordinated warp speeds. Sound confusing? Jake explains it well: Lesson #4: Bookmarking and alignment
Many ganks happen when ships are docking or undocking. When warping to a station, there’s always a chance that you will land outside of the safety of the docking radius. You may only be seconds away, but as EVEIL notes, “it only takes a few seconds to lose your ship.”
This is where bookmarks come in. For the uninitiated, bookmarks are saved locations in space to which your ship can warp. Rather than warping directly to the station, set up your own ‘insta-docking’ bookmarks well within its docking radius. By warping to those, you don’t need to rely on the ‘dock’ command.
One person who doesn’t mess around when it comes to bookmarks is Rixx Javix, who has over 25,000 in his library, and that doesn’t even include his corp bookmarks. “Setting up bookmarks is easy and there are plenty of guides to help you learn. Bookmarks are extremely useful. You need to start your own library.”
Undocking comes with its own ganking risks. EVEIL recommends bookmarking a spot a few hundred kilometres straight out of the station and warping to it “instead of having to align”. If you can align, however, you should. Here’s Rixx:
“Be aligned, when possible. Being aligned means your ship is pointed towards an object in warp range: a station, a planet, a customs office, or anything your ship can warp to. Aligned ships warp off faster than non-aligned ships, which makes sense since you are already pointing in that direction. If someone lands near you, you can simply warp away. If your propulsion module is off, you will warp even faster.”
Bookmarking won’t only help save you from station gankers, but gate gankers too. Here’s Rixx again:
“Imagine warping to a spot 200km off a gate and then noticing the camp you need to avoid, as opposed to discovering the gatecamp once you’ve warped to the gate at zero. You can drop a bookmark mid-warp to give yourself an instant safe spot that you can return to anytime.”
Lesson #5: Use all the tools at your disposal
Anything can be an intel tool. Let’s start with the map, or as Rixx describes it: “a treasure trove of intel if you know how to use it.” Explore and experiment with all of its settings. You’ll be able to find priceless data like the number of kills in different systems within specified time periods. And as the Space Pope says, data becomes information that becomes knowledge and wisdom. Use it to find the lowest-risk place to do your business.
Next up, we have a more obvious tool: the directional scanner, more commonly known as the d-scan. Kshal’s advice on this is clear: “d-scan, d-scan, d-scan. ‘V’ is the default hotkey. Make it a habit to press it all of the time.” Rixx gives the d-scanner just as much import:
“Everyone who plays EVE should learn to master the directional scanner. It’s the single most critical tool at your disposal. There are tons of guides available to help you master this tool, but you should be constantly aware of your surroundings and rely on the d-scan to inform you of what’s going on in a 14au sphere around your ship. This is critical.”
Even your contacts list can be a valuable tool. Kshal advises players to set known ganking alliances, corps, and individuals to red in their contacts. The most important of those are the ganker scouts looking for targets. Once marked, you’ll see them as soon as you or they enter a system.
Lesson #6: Stay vigilant
As CCP Hellmar confirmed in his interview with us, local chat is just as much an intel tool as it is a communications channel. Rixx Javix advises players to always have their local window open, ideally large enough to see everyone entering your system.
“Pay attention to those pilots. Make sure to note any changes in local. Make a mental note of those with negative security status and consider starting to assign standing to those that may be worrisome - it is a lot easier to see pilots you’ve marked orange in local.”
Kshal sees local as most helpful when combined with the other tools we’ve mentioned above. “Watch local. If someone looks suspicious, you can always run them in zkill. Gankers don’t always connect, but sometimes they do.”
They go on to note that if you’re going to be out in space, mining or performing missions, then you should click on someone in local and then press ‘ctrl’ + ‘A’. Doing so will highlight everyone in the system. Newcomers, however, will not be highlighted. You therefore have a method of detecting anyone new to a K-space system.
Staying vigilant against gankers also means never going AFK in space. Rixx warns against anyone planning to step away from their computer without docking first, adding “trust me on this, we have probes”. Similarly, in their video shown below in lesson #8, our resident ganker-in-chief @macgybo warns against autopiloting, which they describe as a “ganker’s dream”, noting that they have had their own account “PLEXed for years thanks to people autopiloting.”
Our final note on vigilance comes from Rixx Javix. Just as gankers have scouts looking for easy prey, if you’re carrying precious cargo, then bring along friends to act as your own scouts if you can.
Lesson #7: Combating gate bumping
Gate bumping is a tactic often used by gankers. It involves delaying slow-to-align ships from entering warp, thereby buying critical moments to give them a good hard ganking.
Kshal advises pilots to avoid flying gate-to-gate altogether, but it can be done, if you must; in his video Anti-Gank Tactic - Jump Freighter Gate Bumping, JAKEL33T showcases a tactic involving many of the lessons we’ve covered such as alignment, bookmarking, scouting, and d-scanning. It utilises the element of surprise to take larger ships from gate to gate.
To beat the ganker, one must think like a ganker. Kshal preaches the virtues of studying gank mechanics:
“Once you’ve learned the mechanics, you can spot a gank from a mile away. For example, learn how to recognise when CONCORD was pulled or how much time you have after a gank happens until the gankers are active again. Knowledge is power.”
Learning to recognise ganking behaviour and identify gankers is equally important. Here’s Kshal again: “If you see them dock up, you can either log off for a while or jump in a corvette and go find them. As soon as they get blown up, you’re likely safe to move.”
But let’s say you followed all of the lessons in this gank-avoidance masterclass and still got ganked. Kshal recommends reaching out to the ganker and asking them why they targeted you: “Maybe you let your guard down or you shook your tail feathers and presented a target that was just too tempting. Be prepared to hear that they were just bored though. EVE will EVE.”
But while we’re asking gankers for their take, we’d be fools to overlook the wisdom of Just About EVE’s master-ganker MacGybo. In their video below, they share ten priceless tips for avoiding gankers. We’ve covered many of their lessons above, but we recommend watching the video anyway to see things from the ganker’s perspective. They finish the video with one important lesson that we haven’t covered: “do not put the words ‘trade’ or ‘Jita’ in your pilot name.”
We’ll leave you with the words of EVEIL:
“Finally, always ask yourself ‘does this feel safe?’ Trust your gut. If you find yourself hoping that there are no gankers around, you’ve probably messed up one of the lessons above. Fly safe.”
Some text has been edited for brevity. You can find the original wording at the bounty post