The original map of EVE was generated one evening by an Icelandic developer who could scarcely have known he was deciding the fates of thousands of gamers for years to come. New systems have been added to the game over the years, and a few manual changes have been made to the stargate network, but most of the universe has remained the same for over a decade. In all that time, a few solar systems have stood out as brazen bastions of bastardly behaviour and made their marks on EVE's history.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I run down a list of the top five most dangerous solar systems in EVE's long history and delve into why each has earned its reputation as a no-fly-zone for newbies.
Rancer: Home of the pirates
Located in the Sinq Liason region, the lowsec system of Rancer is arguably the most pirated solar system in all of EVE's history. Amamake and Egghelende have always been similar dens of piracy, but Rancer holds a special place in EVE's history as an important trade shortcut between Caldari and Minmatar space. Dodging through the Rancer gatecamps can turn a safe 19-jump journey between trade hubs Jita and Hek into a much shorter 9-jump trip, and the system used to frequently appear on autopilot routes from one side of EVE to the other.
Holding a permanent gatecamp on the system provides a constant stream of helpless ships on autopilot and impatient traders laden with goods, making it a highly contested system among pirates. Wars were fought for dominance of this corner of space, with famous pirates like Miz Cenuij camping in the area and The United living in the system for over five years. CCP eventually alleviated some of the autopilot issue by adding new stargates in the nearby Hagilur system to provide a second route through the contested systems, and the advent of jump freighters removed the need to manually haul through the system. Rancer remains a hotbed of piracy to this day but may never quite live up to its legendary status again.
PF-346: The last untamed wilderness
The nullsec system of PF-346 has become an almost legendary locale in EVE, being one of the most aggressively camped systems in the game for over a decade. Its special status comes from the fact that it's in nullsec but is situated just one jump from the busy high-security system of Orvolle. There are only a few direct links between highsec and nullsec, and all of them have been targets of rampant piracy over the years. EC-P8R is a similar contender for most dangerous system in EVE, but I'd say PF-346 edges it out by a clear margin today due to being a real wilderness system with no stations or sovereignty.
Life in nullsec today is more like renting in a luxury condo by the beach than venturing into a dangerous wilderness. Hundreds of safe player-owned outposts dot the landscape, and large alliances rent out unused real estate to smaller groups. But PF-346 is in the NPC-owned region of Syndicate, so players can't officially claim the system or build their own outpost there. Syndicate is also filled with Serpentis stations that will let anyone dock, making it a real no-man's-land and a potentially profitable opportunity for lone players and small alliances that are just starting out. This attraction drives regular traffic through the PF-346 chokepoint, which is usually camped by transient groups of pirates. Camps tend to form on the FD-MLJ gate today as the regional gate into Orvolle is now much larger and harder to successfully camp.
Tama: Faction warfare meets piracy
Found one jump from high-security system Nourvukaiken in The Citadel region, the lowsec system of Tama has always been famous for its high levels of piracy. The stargate into highsec was almost permanently camped in EVE's early years, and pirates frequently hunted for targets in nearby solar systems. It wasn't until faction warfare was introduced in 2008's the Empyrean Age expansion that Tama was transformed from a Rancer-style high-traffic gatecamp into one of the biggest hotbeds of daily PvP in EVE. When faction warfare began, players signing up to the Caldari militia unanimously selected Nourvukaiken as their preferred staging point in high-security space.
Overnight, Tama became a key launching point into the contested territories for faction warfare fleets. Pirates initially reveled in the idea of hundreds of PvP newbies charging into Tama to their deaths but quickly found themselves overwhelmed. The Caldari and Gallente militias frequently clashed in Tama and Old Man Star with fleets of hundreds of ships, and both sides shot pirates to pieces. Pirate corporations came to learn the power of hordes of newbies in this solar system, and it has seen the death of many overconfident capital ship pilots. Some pirates even joined up with one of the local militias to access guaranteed PvP opportunities. With many in the faction warfare militias now shooting neutral targets as well as war targets, Tama remains a danger zone that travelers should be very wary of.
HED-GP: Gateway to the south
Located in the Catch region of nullsec, HED-GP has forever been the most highly contested chokepoint into alliance territories. It connects directly with the high-security system of Keberz, making it appear to be the ideal trade route between empire space and the southern nullsec regions. The system was always heavily pirated by opportunistic corporations and patrolled by local alliances, and it was also the site of a massive capital ship battle last month. Players looking for a safe way to check out nullsec frequently made the mistake of popping their heads through the Keberz gate, only to be vapourised by ruthless gatecamps.
In EVE's early years, when Catch was locked in a cold war before the ISS and IAC came to blows, HED-GP was considered too contentious for any one alliance to hold onto. All alliances in the south relied on the system as a vital supply route, and any alliance attempting to claim it for itself was quickly slammed into the ground. Alliances in the south used to gather their pilots to protect convoys of freighters carrying materials and supplies to and from empire, leading to some interesting PvP opportunities. This all changed with the advent of Jump Freighters and player-built Jump Bridges, which made the chokepoints into nullsec unnecessary for logistics. HED-GP is still a frequently camped system, but it now contains an outpost and belongs to alliance Against All Authorities.
Jita: The safest system in EVE?
It's said that you're never truly safe in EVE Online, even when minding your own business in high-security space under the watchful gaze of CONCORD patrols. Innocuous professions like trading and manufacturing ultimately revolve around conflict and competition that could end with your ship under fire from some very nasty characters. Jita is EVE Online's primary trade hub, so it's no surprise that it's attracted some rather unsavoury characters. Co-ordinated suicide attacks are common both inside Jita and on the stargates leading into it, so be sure not to make yourself a tempting target by carrying a lot of valuables in a flimsy industrial ship.
Jita consistently ranks as one of the most violent systems in the game by number of ship and pod kills, which is due in part to suicide attacks but owes more to empire corporation wars. Several war corporations exist solely to declare war on smaller industrial or social corporations in the hopes of getting a few easy kills. Since most people get their ships and supplies in Jita, it's a pretty safe bet that you'll run into a few wartargets if you hang out in the system long enough. Some players also steal items from containers in front of the main station to deliberately flag themselves as criminal suspects. Don't take the bait and attack them; they're either wasting your time and will simply dock or tank you when they come under fire, or they plan to return and kill you before the timer wears off. Jita is perfectly safe as long as you don't make yourself an easy target.
Even trade hub system Jita remains one of the most violent places in the game thanks to its sheer density of players, becoming the focus of empire wars and suicide attacks that typify EVE's ruthless emergent gameplay. The systems listed above are five of EVE's most popular PvP flashpoints and the most camped systems in the game. While you'll probably want to avoid stepping into those meatgrinders, don't be afraid to venture into low-security space and nullsec on your travels. There are 7,499 solar systems out there to see, and you can't let a little danger get in your way.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.