It seems we've landed on a theme about "context" in the last few posts, which is appropriate given the events of the past few days. My original intention was to write a post about how to spot tarps in Eve. A process that is all about context. Funny how these things work themselves out.
Situational Awareness is a key component in playing Eve successfully. No matter what play-style you enjoy, mining, mission running, pvp, whatever you do - being aware of what is going on around you is critical. In fact, it could be argued that developing a "spider-sense" about your surroundings is quite possibly the most important non-game skill an Eve player can have. The point is, knowing and understanding and acting on context within New Eden is extremely important. It can make the difference between success and failure.
Forming a picture in your mind of your constantly changing and evolving environment is challenging. As a player it is in your hands to utilize the tools that are available to you to build as complete a picture as possible, so you can more accurately place yourself in that picture. Make no mistake, this ability is a skill that can be learned, developed, and improved upon. But it takes work, practice and knowledge. Sadly it cannot be injected.
All of which is well and good, but this post is about a specific component of that larger context - how to tell if you or your gang are about to get blobbed to death? There are some tell-tale signs that you can watch out for. And I'm going to be a really awesome guy and tell you some of them.
Clue: Off Scan Bits
A system that has parts off the d-scan radius is a prime location for hiding a back-up fleet, links, probers, and other nefarious things that can ruin your day. Do yourself a quick favor and warp over there to check it out before you do anything foolish. You might not see everything, but it will at least give you a tiny sliver of hope. Knowledge is power.
Bunch of ships on scan but you can't seem to pin them down to a specific location? More than likely they are all in a perch aligned to something, waiting to pounce on you. If it's one ship then he might be afk, but more than one makes that highly unlikely. It is possible they are running a Mission or something, so scan for wrecks. Mission runners leave lots of those around.
Clue: Aggression in Local
Ok so two dudes are in your local looking for a fight. You know this because they've probably said so in local chat. They are kinda being dicks about it. Despite the fact that you clearly have a better ship than them, or more guys in local than they do. It seems odd doesn't it? YES! Yes it does. That's because they know something you don't. And anytime the other guy knows something you don't it is bad news for you. More than likely they have a gang of 50 T3 Dessies on the gate behind them. Or something like that.
Clue: Quiet Systems
You have been cruising the neighborhood and you are starting to feel pissed off because system after system is totally empty, or everyone is docked up for some reason. What are all these people doing?! It can be frustrating, believe me, but it is also called Intel. Don't let your frustration blind you to the obvious. These systems are probably empty for a reason. And I know all those people are docked up for a reason. And that reason? More than likely the very next system you jump into will have a gate camp on it. And everyone is docked up because not two minutes ago a large fleet of guardians and battleships with links rode thru town. And they are just ahead of you, slowing down cause their FC has to take a potty break. See them now?
Clue: Frigate in a Medium
Frigates in Medium FW plex are not always bait. I'd say they are 79.5% always bait. Without prober thingies it can be hard to tell. So here is a free clue. The system is quiet, mostly because everyone else has already died to the Recon hiding in there. Or it could just be quiet. Ok, so there are three people in local. You, the Frigate, and this mysterious "other" person not on scan. And the Frigate is very young and the "other" pilot is older. That's a Bingo!
Clue: Was that a...?
Just for a second there on d-scan I coulda' swore I saw a Proteus. You did. It's a trap.
Clue: No one is fighting
There are potential targets everywhere in this System! But wait a gosh darn second, no one is fighting each other? That's odd. It isn't odd because they are all together! Either that or they all belong to the same faction, which is kinda the same thing. Bunch of targets? No one taking advantage? They all know each other.
Clue: POS Trash
I've seen people completely ignore ships in a POS, as if they can't just warp out of there and keel you. Cause they totally can. The only time you ignore ships in a POS is when there aren't any people in local. Ships in a POS? No one in Local? Then they are POS trash, not before.
By now you are probably getting the gist of this. Things are always what they seem, except when they are not. The difference between those two things is something that can't be taught however. It is a "spider-sense" that only develops when it is used. Listen to that little voice, it is usually trying to tell you something.
Be the hunter, not the hunted. And for goodness sake, have fun out there.