Gate camping is a time honored, if not so ‘leet’, tradition among many PVP subsets – particularly so among pirates. The first notable execution of a gate camp came just a month after Eve’s release, way back in June 2003. m0o corp operated in what I still consider these days to be my pirating ‘home’, though I’m now in Gallente space. They locked down the gates in Mara, creating massive disruptions to trade lanes in Lonetrek (Caldari) space.
The science of gate camping has seen some improvements but little true evolution since then, as it is a simple premise: people must use gates to traverse Eve; the unwary and uneducated will use lowsec as a shortcut; and pirates will catch them. I became a pirate about two and a half years ago and one of my first pirating staples was the gatecamp. Back then, me and Professor Terror (on different characters) would actually camp the gates in Dantumi in our T1 cruisers, often warping out after popping a hauler in structure (or just dying to the gate guns).
But as with any concept in Eve, while simple the gate camp can be executed in such a way as to guarantee failure for the pirate and many easy kills for the other, bigger fish in the sea. This guide is an attempt to prevent the young pirate from falling victim to bad habits and as such will not cover ‘advanced’ gate camping (like getting together a dozen smartbombing battleships and permatanking the sentries). Rules listed behind the break:
RULE ONE: Don’t Sit at Zero
Some pirates may be tempted to sit at zero on the gate, merrily running their sensor boosters in an attempt to catch every little thing that comes through the gate. While this may, in certain systems, net you many kills, it also telegraphs your presence (and your lack of experience) to every competent PVP presence in your area. This in turn will inevitably lead to you dying in a fire.
RULE TWO: Don’t Use On-Grid Perches
Very well, the young pirate thinks upon hearing Rule One, I will set up a bookmark 200km off the gate so I can see what jumps through and warp to it quickly. Don’t do this. Being on-grid means that you will still be visible to every single pilot that comes through the gate and thus still telegraph your presence around.
This does provide a shred more safety than sitting at zero, but a halfway competent pilot will be able to ‘steal’ your perch, even if you leave (as all they have to do is burn in the direction of your perch and stop at the distance they saw you sitting at before you ran away).
RULE THREE: Do Use Off-Grid Perches
The key to protecting yourself in a gatecamp is to use very close bookmarks that are off-grid from the gate in question. Right about 1000km to 1200km is ideal, but no one will fault you for having one 2000km or more from the gate. Just make it close, so you can warp down easily and quickly, but not so close that people can see you on their overview when they are at the gate.
RULE FOUR: Use ‘Eyes’
Well now, if I’m not on grid with the gate how will I ever manage to catch anything?, the young pirate asks. Simple. Have someone in your fleet (or you yourself if you have a second account and the ability to run two clients on your machine) set an alt on the other side of the gate and keep an eye out.
Cloaky alts are preferred, but this can be done even with a noob alt in an ibis if you have no alternatives. This will give you the proper lead time to warp your fleet down to the gate and prepare to catch things coming through. It also has the added benefit of telling you whether there is a massive fleet waiting on the other side, waiting for you to attack their bait drake/maller/etc.
RULE FIVE: Watch For Probes
The off-grid perch is great for a lot of reasons, but it does have its downsides. One of these is the fact that any halfway competent pilot with probes will be able to find your off-grid perch in about 15 seconds. This means that pilots must constantly be vigilant for the presence of probes on directional scanner. When in doubt, assume that probes belong to a massive fleet come to kick you in the teeth and take appropriate action (prepare to run or prepare to fight).
RULE SIX: Watch For Local Spike
This is more of a general PVPing rule, but is particularly applicable to gate camping. Attacking something on a gate means incurring the wrath of sentry guns, making you particularly vulnerable to outside interference. It needn’t be a 10 man fleet come to gank your gate camping Drake to cause you to lose – you can be killed by a 3 day old character in a Rifter with a warp scrambler. All they need to do is point you and avoid your damage as best they can, while the 300 omni-dps of the gate guns does the work for it.
So watch out for sudden influxes of people into your system, particularly when you are actively attacking something on a gate. Discretion is the better part of valor in a gate camp, so if necessary let the Badger go free and gtfo.
RULE SEVEN: Stay Aligned
Another general PVP rule that becomes particularly important in gate camping, for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost is your ability to catch whatever your eyes on the other side of the gate see. When in your off-grid perch, you must stay aligned to the gate you are camping so that when your ‘eyes’ spy something to kill, you simply hit ‘Warp To’ and you are there. If you sit still, it will take time for your lumbering battlecruiser to get up to warp speed and potentially cost you the kill.
The other obvious point of staying aligned is so that when you eventually get your safe busted, you can simply hit ‘Warp To’ when the hostiles show up on your overview and skedaddle on out of there.
RULE EIGHT: Prepare To Die
Anytime you undock a ship in lowsec, you should be prepared for it to die in an inglorious fashion. This is particularly so with a gatecamp (in my opinion). The nature of the activity lends itself to kicking back, having a few cold ones and bullshitting with your mates on comms. This in turn leads to complacency, which when mixed with the fact that you will be relatively stationary in your system as well as purposely exposing yourself to gate gun fire, will almost certainly lead you to a horrible and fiery death.
So use cheap ships – Drakes fill the role admirably – and just know that when you gate camp, haulers and newbs won’t be the only things likely to die. You probably will too.