Chapter I: Intel & Information Management
(a) The Directional Scanner
The Directional Scanner is your most important tool and best friend in low security space. Let me say that again one more time to make sure you heard me right. The Directional Scanner is your most important tool and best friend in low security space. Learn how to use it well and use it a lot. For those who are not familiar with it, the scanner window can be opened by clicking the scanner button just left of the bottom center of the screen or by pressing ctrl-F11. Once the window is open, click on the middle tab that says "Directional Scanner".
You will see a few items on this tab. The "use overview settings" checkbox will be checked most of the time. This will filter your scanner results in the same manner as your current overview. In some situations you will un-check this so that everything including probes will display but in most situations it will stay checked.
The angle slider lets you set your scan area to 360, 180, 90, 60, 30, 15 or 5 degrees. What this is describing is the area around you that you are scanning. 360 degrees scans in EVERY direction. 180 degrees scans HALF the area around you. 90 degrees scans in a large cone. 60 in a smaller cone and so on. The direction you are scanning in is based on the CAMERA and has nothing to do with the oritentation of your ship.
Next to the angle slider is a box that lets you specify a scan range in kilometers. The maximum distance you can specify is around 2.14 billion kilometers, or around 14.3 AU (astronomical units). So if you put 9999999999 into the field it will automatically convert to the maximum value. Most of the time this will be left at max. The only time it ever really makes sense to change this value is when trying to determine if ship you are tracking is located at a safe spot that is just off grid of where you are (ie: a few thousand kilometers). In that case you can lower the scan range to 5000km and scan to see if the ship still shows up in the direction you are scanning.
Lastly, the results list. This list will give you information about objects around you and the most notable results are the object name and the object type. This list will be filtered by the same filtering options as your currently selected overview if the "use overview settings" checkbox has been selected. The results list will not usually give you a distance to the object and you cannot right click on an object to warp to it. The scanner only gives you information. It is up to you to use it and figure out how to find your opponent.
(b) Local Chat and Pilot Information
Local chat should always, always be displayed when you are in low security space. If you have not already, click and drag the local chat tab out into its own window and leave it there. Forever. Really. Now look at the pilots in local. You can right click anyones name and select "show info". This will display information on the pilot. The most interesting of the tabs in the resulting pop-up window are "Employment History" and "Notes". Employment History will show you what corporations the pilot has belonged to and will also indicate how old the account is. The Notes section is great for YOU because you can write down about where you have seen this pilot before, what they were piloting, how they behaved and anything else important. You might think "why bother... will I ever see most of these people again?" The answer is yes. You will notice the same people hanging out in the same systems and you may encounter some of them several times.
(c) The System Map
Press F11. If your Eve installation isn't hosed like mine, a series of maps will pop out of the right side of the screen. Most of these are useless except for the one on the bottom, the Solar System map. This map does a few things for you.
First of all, if lets you see a visual representation of the direction your camera is pointing and where the scanner is scanning. Open up your scanner and give it a try while the solar system map is visible and you will see what I mean. Second of all, this map allows you to see what warpable objects exist in the system and how they are arranged in relation to each other. It should help you quickly determine which spots are currently out of range of your scanner and where you can warp to get as much of the out-of-range stuff into range in a single warp. This is less important in systems you already know and have bookmarks in and much more important when you are in unfamiliar territory.
(d) Putting It All Together
So now we know how to use the directional scanner to find ships in space, we know how to use local to see who is in the system and their age and we know how to use the solar system map help us understand how unfamiliar systems are laid out. How do these things all tie together?
Intel and information about your targets, their location in space, their experience level and who they are with is all important. A lot of times you cannot tell these things for CERTAIN but you can make pretty good guesses based on what you glean from your intel tools. Let's run through an example of how a typical kill in a belt might go:
I jump into a system. I immediately look at local and notice that there are 2 other pilots than myself in this system. There are no stations in the system so I KNOW that they must be out in space somewhere. I open the scanner and do a 360 degree scan at max range and find no ships. This means that either they are out of range of 14.3 AU or they are cloaked. I press F11 to see what the system looks like and realize that the gate I'm at is almost 20 AU away from the sun and the main cluster of objects. I right click on the screen and look under the list of asteroid belts to see what belts are in this system. There are a bunch but more than half of them are listed as being in the "IX" cluster of objects, so I warp at 100km to the systems planet IX. I do a 360 degree scan again and this time I come up with two ships, a Slepnir and a Rifter. I right click on these scanner entries to see that the Slepnir is a big, bad command ship and that the Rifter is just a tech 1 frigate. I check the information on the pilots in local and notice that one has a -9.9 security rating, has been in a corp since 2005 and is currently in a pretty mean sounding corp. The other pilot is still in the starting newbie corp and has only been around one month.
At this point I know who is flying which ship (if they are not just unmanned and sitting out somewhere). I reduce my scanner angle to 90 degrees and scan all around me until i see the general direction of the Rifter. I again lower the scanner down to about 15 degrees and scan directly on top of the couple belts and planets that are in the same direction. I find that the Rifter appears to be at a belt and that there are two rat wrecks on scan as well. At this point we can make the likely determination that this pilot is a newbie in a Rifter who is ratting in a belt. I align and warp to the belt and toggle my defensive modules so they are ready as I land (ie: Damage Control). I land and the Rifter is only 18km away, attacking a rat. I target him as quickly as I can by holding Ctrl and clicking his name on the overview rapidly as I come out of warp. As soon as the target starts resolving, I hit the scrambler button and microwarpdrive directly at him. He is now trapped and about to die.
There are lots of other little things I don't detail here but this is the general idea for how you can quickly locate targets and engage them. With some practice you should be able to determine where the belts/planets in a system are and how you can scan them all with the least amount of movement. Once you get proficient at using the scanner and associated tools, you will find your targets and warp in on them before they ever even notice that local has increased by one pilot.
Tomorrow: Chapter II - Effective Ships for Newb Pirating.
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