Saturday, May 23, 2015

A guide to ninja salvaging

Since I started publishing ninja salvaging series, I got quite few questions from people interested in engaging in this kind of activity. While there are some guides around the net, most of them are outdated. It doesn't mean there's nothing recent though. Before sharing my experience on the subject, I would like to provide reference to a good quality guide by Feyd that is still very much valid. Please do check it out as it contains a lot of information, especially for people starting out.

Guide to ninja salvaging by Feyd:
Related post about Ishkur fit:

When finished, you will know most stuff and will be quite knowledgeable about this activity. While it's always good to get a lot of information to have a jump start, you must find your own way. What works for one, might not always work for another. There is no one rule to win everything. Strategies are different based on many factors. In time you will learn to recognize them and adapt accordingly. In the mean time, here's my advice on how to set your mindset on your ninja salvaging journey.


Choosing the right system

When starting ninja salvaging, your first concern is the right system. If you are very new and just starting, consider choosing lvl1-3 mission hub system. Try to learn the ropes baiting cruisers and battlecruisers instead jumping to battleships from the beginning. For example Simela. A Sisters of EVE mission hub that have agents up to lvl3. Open a map and use Pirate ships destroyed statistic to see the hotspots or use Dotlan maps.

But be careful. Don't just jump to a system with most kills and pilots. Chances are, those systems will have more competition. Especially I would advise from settling in the system with agents present, but instead go for the next door one or 2 jumps out. Reason is that hubs have a lot of people that live there and engage in highsec pvp, by baiting and hunting other suspects (white knights and station baiters). Plus, if someone will shout for help, good chance there will be someone to respond. Not to mention in very populated local, you will not be able to see how many potential friend corpmates your target might have. You will also get a lot of "trash hits" when trying to scan a missioner. So find some semi quiet system, not too inactive, but not too active either. Also good advantage of settling a jump out from a system with agents is that you will often encounter missions with "rescue" objectives such as Damsel in distress or Worlds collide. Those type of missions are perfect for stealing objectives and getting best quality tears.

Choosing the right ship

When someone asks me what ship is best for ninja salvaging it is always hard to advise. Short answer: I always recommend Ishkur. I believe it's one of most versatile ships to use when ninja salvaging. But truth is, I have little to no experience about frigates of other races than Gallente. I know others have success with different type of frigates, for example a Hawk. So instead of spewing the answer, lets think what we need and let you choose fit and ship for yourself. For the sake of the argument, lets assume you do not have any logi support and no possibility to refit with Orca.

1mn afterburner - your tank is sig tank that you achieve by orbiting under the guns;
1 scrambler - need to keep carebears from using microwarpdrive or microjumpdrive;
1 salvager or set of salvaging drones - your goal is to salvage and loot to provoke aggression;
Guns/Drones - don't fit full a rack of only salvagers.

Highly recommended:
1 damage control - it adds a lot of tank and lets you live in those few lucky shots;
1 active tank - your only concern is to tank long enough to kill drones and active tank lasts longer;
1 neutralizer - Gives much better odds in breaking missioners tank;
Resist mods - more drones you have to fight, more tank you will need.

1 cap booster - If you run active tank and/or neutralizer, you will need it;
1 webifier - useful for killing drones faster and keeping carebear in place;
1 buffer tank - Sometimes buffer gives enough time to kill drones. Mostly applies to shield fits;
1 damage mod - gives more dps at expense of tank (for armor fits).

There you have it. Every mod has advantage and disadvantage. I would recommend storing 2+ fitted ships for different encounters. For example, if you ninja in Gallente region, chances are you will encounter mostly drone ships. Then your priority will be to tank many sets of drones so you will want to put more focus on armor resists and neutralizer. Do you ninja in Caldari space? Then drones will not be as big issue and you can fit extra damage mods/rigs. If you visit passive fit ships you can even trade neutralizer for a salvager and swap salvaging drones for the dps ones. If you are using a ship that can change ammo type then you can pay attention to mission rats and use ammo that exploits the resist hole, same goes for the drones.

Cruisers, t1-t2 frigates and other hulls for baiting

Some people use cruisers to bait. I used to bait in a Vexor too. On the good side, you can kill mtu very fast and thus trigger a reaction from a carebear. Downside is, that cruiser sized hulls look more dangerous and get less hits. When fitting cruiser sized hull, use same logic as for frigate. But usually you have more options as you have bigger tank, you can fit dual propulsion or point and scram while still orbiting under the guns quite well. Most hits get t1 frigates, however it is very difficult to kill a battleship in a t1 frigate. I had some success with Incursus, but mostly it was impossible to break battleship sized tanks. I found that t2 frigate has a best ratio between getting aggro and managing to kill a BS on its own. Faction frigates can work well too, but they do not have such good resists and are usually more expensive. 

The power of two - advantages of an alt

Ninja salvaging is not very newbie friendly activity. While you can do quite well against cruisers and battlecruisers in a solo t1 frigate, it can be quite difficult to kill battleships. A t2 frigate can probably deal with most cases, however, when I was new and started ninja salvaging, creating a scanning alt was best decision I have ever made. I used following setup:

1. Main baits in a pvp frigate
2. Alt scans out targets and fleet warps main to different carebears. This allows me to visit a lot of carebears very fast without a need to swap between baiting and scanning ship.

Scan alt has also trained logi skills, so when my main gets aggro and needs support, my scan alt can quickly swap for a logi and come to assistance. The beauty of this setup is not only efficiency. Consider following scenario. A carebear attacks, you tackle him, but can't break his tank. You bring in logi and repair while flagging yourself suspect. Carebear seeing he can't kill your main, tries to take a shot at your logi. Receiving engagement rights with your logi, now you have extra drone dps. Plus, you can always swap a ship while keeping tackle with your logi, assuming it is not deep in mission and 5 minutes is enough time.

Also consider joining Ninja Dojo channel and get in touch with fellow ninjas. Find a partner or a group of people and do ninja activities close to each other while giving support for your friend when he gets aggro. Can also have a fleet and ask for warfare link bonuses from older ninjas. If you do not have an alt and do not want one, having a partner is next best thing. Optimal is having an alt and a partner. My best days as ninja was doing together with a friend. Our combined force multiplier let us take on on any group of missioners. Not to mention having a company is way more fun.

Baiting theory - tips and tricks

So you chose your system and got yourself a baiting ship. Now to the fun part - getting aggro. Being a ninja requires immense amount of patience. There will be days were you will get no reaction at all and there will be busy days where it will seem everyone is in a shooty mood.

Here is how I approach my ninja activities. Some of this information might be new as I haven't seen this stressed in any other guides.

1. Background check

First step, after I loot and salvage first wreck, I check out the pilot. I got employment history to get a good grasp how old the pilot is. I also take a look if he is in NPC or player corp. You try to get a feel of the guy. Did he spend most of the time in NPC corp? If he is in a player corp, what kind of corp is it? Is it a small one with less than 20 people? A medium sized of around 50 or a larger one over a 100?

In time you start getting a feeling. If it's 0-2 years old pilot, in a small or npc corp, he might be more likely to be annoyed by you looting and salvaging his wrecks. You might want to put more attention to him and stick around for 15 or more minutes.

If he is a long time veteran player, in somewhat that seems well established corp of medium/large size you take precautions. You check killboard of the pilot and the corp. Is it bunch of industrialists with no notable activity and mostly losses? Then he might be less dangerous and likely to shoot and be a good target. Or is it a corp with teeth and has kills under the belt? Does the pilot have any kills? Are they around the area? Perhaps it's far in lowsec or nullsec. If guy or his corp look fairly active, try to quickly add his corp to negative standing and see how many are there in local. This mostly applies if you are being targeted or a player looks quite scary. You try to avoid any surprises and prepare for the worst. Last thing you wanna do is provide free kills to missioners with pvp fit. One high-sec kill record on killboard will say a lot.

Another thing I always do is profiling. I add notes in EVE character information. Every single carebear I visit has some notes about him. In time. while operating in the same system, you will be visiting same carebears. They will remember you, but you will most likely not. Adding notes is a perfect way to keep records of precious information you had from previous encounters. Here's how some of my notes look:

I have encountered Raven Seldon few times in different days. His first reaction was to shoot wrecks. Then after I looted his mission objective he couldn't resist not making any remarks in local. Plus, while I was salvaging with his objective stolen he just stood there with no reaction. Next day I've met him he made remark about a post he was featured in. If you are reading this, - hi Raven, you are on TV again! Hope all is well.

So what can I make of this information? For starters, I know he knows me well. He knows what I am doing and what's up. If I would get aggro I would have to be extremely careful and take precautions. Most likely he would try to get me in a pvp fit ship or use MJD to take a pot shot from afar and align and warp out before I was half way. My approach to him will be much different compared if it was our first encounter.

I use this method to build profiles and based on reactions I get, it depends how much time I will use trying to bait them, or what kind of method. It can vary from 5 minutes to 1 hour. On average, I probably spend 10-15 minutes baiting before moving on to the next target.

If you are in high-sec it does not mean you should not use d-scan. On the contrary, when ninja salvaging I use d-scan more than in low-sec. I use a short range scan to be aware if there's help incoming.

Is it a mission with multiple gates? How deep are you in the pocket? It's very important if you have a partner and might need help. There is nothing worse, but being past 3-4 acceleration gates, trying to bait a ship you might have trouble tanking. In such situations either you prewarp your logi to a mission or have to tank solo.

NPC also plays a role here. There are pockets where you will be webbed and take a lot of aggro from small ships. If you know you won't have chance of tanking in unfortunate circumstances, it might be more wise to leave and return instead of trying to scram and then leave. This way, you may get a 2nd chance.

It is important if mission has an objective. In such cases you can choose to stick around and snap an objective. You can also try to play with triggers in hard missions. but with most carebears using MJD it is not so relevant anymore as npc aggro switch will probably backfire. Though it is always good idea to kill some npc to unlock mission objective, such as opening Heron in worlds collide, assuming carebear warps out or just sits afk waiting for you to leave.

4. Carebear types

There are different types of carebears you will encounter. Here's how I deal with most popular ones:

A " I will warp out" carebear
A carebear warps out hoping you will leave and never return or by an off chance get killed by npc. You do exactly opposite. Make a bookmark, put a note and frequently visit him. It takes you just few seconds to warp around in your fast frigate. For him, he will need to move his slow ass battleship through the gates again. You will make them waste a lot of time and maybe piss them off enough to get aggro.

A "I will shoot my wrecks" carebear
A carebear that shoots wrecks tries to announce that there's nothing to see and you will not get any profit by staying. Since you do not really care about profit, you stick around until every wreck is gone. Then you can leave visit other missioners and come back in some minutes for him to shoot all new wrecks.

A "I will blue my wrecks" carebear
A carebear that will blue his wrecks as soon as you come. By doing so he is trying to declare "I don't give a shit" or genuinely trying to be helpful to a poor newbie salvager trying to make a living. In such cases I come back with an mtu in either transport ship or a frigate. I drop mtu and do some salvaging without burning from wreck to wreck.

A "I will go afk" carebear
A carebear that stops shooting npc and just goes afk. It usually can tank dps and can stay forever. In those cases I usually salvage what is available and come back later for new wrecks, similar to a warp out carebear. If I have other interesting things to do, I sometimes go semi afk myself, by reading news, chatting with friends, or doing something else on another EVE client. Though a carebear usually has an upper hand in this. While you do waste his time, you can't go completely afk as he can shoot you at any time.

A "I will yellowbox" carebear
A carebear that targets you and gets you excited, but never really shoots. One side of this is that you expect to get shot at, but it never really happens. Other side is that carebear has you locked and thus he might shoot you by accident. I had this happen few times. If he is sloppy in focusing new target he might fire upon you and no green safety will help him. From experience, carebears that yellowbox are most inclined to shoot sooner or later. When I get yellowboxed, I make sure my logi ships and support, if needed, are on standby

A "I will take a pot shot from 100km" carebear
A carebear that Micro jumps 100k off and shoots at you. In such cases I just burn to them at normal speed, but keeping my transversal, by burning a little bit sideways rather than straight for him. There's nothing much you can do to stop him from warping out, but if you read my blog, you know that quite few such cases go sour for the carebears. When I pass 50km off, I then overheat my afterburner and point and go straight for him. Sometimes they are not aligned and  when they try to warp out it takes too long.

Some do manage to warp out, but then warp back to mission without waiting out 5 minute engagement timer. Some warp to a planet instead of a gate or a station. That is why you always pay attention and try to follow. If he do manages to get to safety, you can visit him again with special fit to catch it, by fitting MWD and a point along with some buffer.

A "I will mission in a PVP fit" carebear
A carebear that missions in pvp fit likes to get easy kills from ninjas. That means he knows the game and is perfectly fine doing missions in a pvp fit while waiting for ninjas to bait him. Meeting such carebear is a most certain death. Good news? You can very easily see his intentions by checking killboard activity. Make notes and even add negative standing to such players/corps. That doesn't mean that you have to ignore him though. If you have logistics support, have it wait for you on acceleration gate. Fit a cap booster and resists to his damage type. In the end, he is risking expensive battleship and you only risk a frigate. Bring ninja friends.

A "I will shit talk about you in local" carebear
A carebear that calls you out in local. Either tries to laugh at your petty actions or goes full head on with flaming. In any case, your best play is always to keep quiet. Becoming a star of the system is bad for business. Do not link your kills, do not respond or entertain whoever screams at you. Those types usually provide best quality tears. Proper way to collect them is via private conversation and not in local chat. It can also turn into your elaborate scheme to get aggro. See social engineering next.

In general, best thing you can do is try different things and see what works for you. The more unique you try to be, the more success you will have. Baiting is an art. Be an artist and improvise.

5. Social engineering

Some people will make remarks in local or convo you for a chat. There are different situations. Some flame and want to vent their anger on you in verbal form. Some are clueless and are interested in what are you doing and why. There are different ways to go about such situations. I will not go in details, but will just mention few.

Most common is to act helpless noob. Explain you are poor and you are in desperate need of isk and salvaging his hard earned loot is good income (even though it's not). Try to build a relationship. Once you are familiar with each other, you can tell him a story, how not everyone is so cool about stealing mission loot and how bad people shot and killed you in the past. And to deal with that you came up with very nice tanky fit, that you would just love to try. Problem is, you do not have anyone to test its tank. So you ask a carebear to help you out. Ask him to ungroup guns just to be sure. Once he shoots, you take off the mask and open your tear jars.

Another approach is to act cocky. Some people threatened me to convert my ship to wreck. I usually try pretend an idiot and tell them how they will get concorded or sometimes even call them out and joke that they couldn't do shit even if they wanted. Thank them for their loot and ask them stop wasting your time and shoot npc faster.

6. Know your limits

You can't win every fight. There will be situations where you can't tank enough or things are going south due to any other circumstances. If you see your tank is failing and feel there is good chance you won't survive, warp out. When having 30% armor, align to somewhere. Don't be afraid to cut your losses and leave with your ship intact. Chances are, carebear will still be there or next time you will be more prepared. Worst thing you can do is give a free kill for the carebear. Especially when starting out, you might bite more than you can chew. Being inexperienced, you might end up losing a lot of fights. Don't get yourself depressed by losing ships. Instead, think how you can trick him into shooting you again and be more prepared. Was your tank failing? Drop that damage mod. Did he bring friends? Get support from other ninjas. Fight smart!

The end game

To be a successful and efficient ninja in most cases owning 2 accounts is enough. Scan alt that swaps to logi support for your main is good combo. However to get those truly shiny kills that are very well tanked and/or fight groups of carebears at the same time, you need that extra muscle. 

Orca, as I like to call it, is a ninja's Swiss army knife. There are limits your t2 frigate can do. Especially when you happen to tackle a Marauder, you will see that you just can't break it. Marauder is an ultimate catch in high-sec, not counting overly pimped faction battleships ships. To break it, you will need to swap for another ship and that's where Orca comes in. Be it your alt, your friend, or a stranger, someone has to have it. If Marauder has attacked you and your logi, then it is easy. Just keep tackle with your logi ship, while waiting out timer with your main. If engagement is only with your main, then you need to disengage as soon as he enters bastion mode. Once timer is almost over, keep spamming scram module. If he gets scrammed, continue to apply dps and wait for new bastion cycle. If he doesn't get scrammed, congratulations he is in another cycle. Now you can swap ship without problem.

Usually carebears try to warp out after one cycle. Bastion timer is one minute and so is your weapons timer. If carebear pays attention, he will warp out before when you are in the middle of swapping. You can either try your luck and hope he delays warp out some seconds after bastion cycle is over or you can try bumping. That of course involves extra preparation and tools (bumping ship).

Baiting group of mission runners can be most challenging and most rewarding. Normally they feel much more confident to shoot you. If it's more than 2 drone ships, do not have any illusions. You probably will die before support can arrive. If targets are easily reachable, not too far out and you don't need multiple acceleration gates, consider warping back to station and swap for a battlecruiser or even a battleship. One time, I got aggro from 4 battleships. I managed to get to station, swap for a battleship, return and tackle them within 5 minute window. Otherwise, have your logi support sitting on acceleration gates to come on moments notice.

2 guys with 2 alts is what gives most bang for the buck. You both play solo, until one of you gets aggro. Now suddenly your partner can bring an extra logi and an Orca. There is nothing worse than having to let go a shiny ship because you can't handle it solo. With a partner, you will rarely be in situations above your head.


  1. Excellent read. As you said, most ninja guides are outdated, I mostly read stuff from years ago. Much appreciated.

    Just from my experience: if a carebear warps out, I check his background first. Some come back with a pvp fit in the same ship. Also I am careful when he places a mobile depot, he is most likely gonna refit.

    I do concur that spamming that dscan button, 360 degress, range 1au as long as I am suspect, saved my life. Or more like: not doing so got me killed. White knights or carebear's friends scan down poeple who are suspect flagged and kill them, be it in their save spots or in other poeples missions. Don't forget to include scanner probes in your DSCAN profile.

    Any tips on the logi ship and fit? Anything you use especially for ninjaing?

  2. That is good input and i agree with you. Logi i would advise augoror. Fit full tank in lows, scram, afterburner and cap recharger in mids. Cap tranfers and remote reps at top. Full ccc rigged. It has enough cap to perma run afterburner and up to 2 armor reps (solo). At the start you can use all 4

  3. Yep, excellent read and after a month of not playing eve or reading blogs stories like these are what triggers a return. (As soon as I get bored of civlization V & beyond earth...closing in on 1k hours played on those.)

  4. This is stated as the up to date blog of ninja salvaging in Ninja Dojo
    Seems very out of date to me.
    Maybe you should update or remove "up to date description"