EVE Evolved title image
I originally planned to put together updated ship setups for EVE Online's newly revamped Caldari, Minmatar, and Amarr Tech 1 cruisers this week, but I've honestly been having far too much fun baiting people in highsec with last week's Vexor setup. I'm having such hilarious fun doing it that I just had to dedicate this week's column to the dirty art of the bait-and-gank! There's absolutely nothing more amusing in EVE than baiting a ship twice the size of yours into attacking you for an "easy kill" and then turning it into a very expensive smoking wreck.

The basic idea of baiting is simple: Get yourself flagged as a suspect by committing a minor crime like theft, fly around waiting for someone to attack you, and then tear him to bits. Before Retribution, you were flagged as a valid target only to the individual people you stole from, but once they attacked, you were safe to engage. Now you're flagged to the whole of EVE, making it easier to get a bite but also a whole lot riskier to engage in a crowded area. It's hard to pick and choose your fights when the whole universe is gunning for you, but when you get a good bite, there are some insanely fun fights to be had.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I give some top tips on how to safely bait players in high-security space, where to find the best targets, and what ships are most effective.

EVE Evolved side imageThe best tool for the job

An interesting debate sprung up in last week's comments about whether Tech 2 cruisers are now worth flying compared to Tech 1. Tech 2 ships are still more powerful in almost every way despite the Retribution expansion's extensive ship overhauls, but the best tool for a given job isn't always the most powerful. The goal of baiting is to convince random passers-by that they can easily kill you, and you won't do that by flying the biggest and baddest ship on the market. The best tools for the job are small, unassuming ships that are traditionally used by newer players: Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers.

The newly revamped cruisers are ideal, as people still think of them as small and weak. Since Retribution, every cruiser can fit a tank, and some of them can be set up to deal insane damage. The new destroyers are flimsy but can similarly punch well above their weights. To take down large prey, you'll need an unexpected trick or two up your sleeve. Dishing out more damage than the average battleship is one way to turn the battle in your favour, but in one-on-one combat, a little electronic warfare goes a long way. My personal favourite to use is a gank Vexor with two multispectral ECM jammers, but a fast ship with several sensor dampeners could be even more effective.

EVE Evolved side imageChoosing your prey

Even though anyone can attack you when you're flagged as a Suspect, I've found three very effective methods for baiting targets that give you more control over who you fight. The first is to steal loot in front of a large crowd like the gathering outside Jita 4-4 and then make a break for it and see who chases. Pursuers will often chase you right into a low-traffic system where they won't get any help from passers-by, and then you've got them all to yourself. You can use the directional scanner to see what ships are pursuing and can always just dock and wait out your flag if you attract too much attention.

My favourite method is to go into public PvE areas like the static COSMOS complexes and steal loot right in front of someone I'd like to kill. Most people will just ignore you, but the ones who don't will learn a harsh lesson when you turn their ships inside-out. That said, the most effective trick I've found is to plant a shipwreck or cargo container about 30km from a well-traveled stargate and park myself at it. Passers-by will think you stole loot from the wreck or container just as they warped in and will often seize the opportunity to engage without thinking.

EVE Evolved side imageA few lessons learned the hard way

I've been baiting people in highsec like this for a while now and have picked up a couple of interesting tricks. Having a friend in a frigate orbit you with a warp disruptor will make it look as if you're in trouble and have just been caught. Other people will often think there's a free kill to be had and will pile on even if they aren't fit for PvP. Also, if it looks as though you're not going to kill anyone, there's no shame in trying to extract yourself from the fight. This is one of the reasons I prefer an ECM setup; a lucky jam will often let you escape a fight that's not going your way.

Reaction times are extremely important. You'll be taking on ships bigger than your own or even small groups, so delaying even by a few seconds could cost you a kill and your ship. I've found it useful to immediately engage as soon as anyone attacks me, regardless of his ship size. Not only can I later try to extract using the ECM jammers but the assailant could have an awful ship setup or could be gank-fit and will melt in seconds.

Finally, remember that tankier ships can disengage to wait out the 30-second weapon timer and jump or dock if they're near a stargate or station. If possible, bait those ships into warping to planets or other system landmarks. I lost a Proteus kill on a stargate to this a few days ago, but I would have had plenty of time to warp to a COSMOS complex while he was approaching me to strike.

EVE Evolved title image
I've done a lot in my almost nine years in EVE Online, but baiting people in highsec has to be the most hilarious activity I've ever come across. Retribution's new Suspect flagging system and cruiser revamps have turned baiting from a dodgy way to kill newbies into a thrilling game of cat and mouse played with every overconfident PvPer in New Eden.

There are times when you narrowly miss a kill or lose a ship to a group of players, but it's all made up for by the spectacular victories. There's just nothing more fun than turning a ship five times as expensive as yours into molten slag and being able to say, "Well, you fired first!"

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.