Hunting 101 - Combat Probing

Note: This is an unfinished guide, the basic principals are all here and valid. Its just not pretty.

Have you ever flown in a roam where the scout just can't seem to find anyone, you get an inital intel of Brutix on scan, then you sit waiting, and waiting. The FC gets impatient, the scout still hasn't got a warp in.

All too often people make very basic mistakes, which gives the target far too long to react, and more than enough time to get safe, and wait while your scout gets bored of looking. Or to get scared and  keep warping about making it almost impossible to catch them.

Combat scanning isn't an art, its a very basic technique, you should be able to roughly identify where your target is within 30 seconds of initially seeing them, you should be able to tell if they are POS'd or at a safe, or hopefully out in a belt, where you can tackle them.

Read my D-Scanner guide before even thinking about dropping probes.

Ok so quickly skipping over the basics, scanning 101, by this point in your EVE career I'd hope you'd be able to use the overview, the D-scanner, and understand the filters.
For fast scanning you'll want a couple of different overviews.
(These can obvious be used for normal combat too)
1. Only Ships, nothing else is needed/wanted. - This is your primary scanning overview. One click and you know if there is any targets within range (14au)
2. Ships + Drones + Wrecks + POS(+forcefield) - this allows you to see a missioning ship, and or to exclude pos trash from your hunting.
3. Ships + Gates + Belts + Planets + Stations + Sun- this is your searching overview, this enables you to quickly identify the location of the target, in cluttered systems you may want to dscan to 30degrees before you switch to this overview.
4."Check box remove overview filters" - obvious isn't it...

Ok, on entering a new system immediately check local count, press scan, if there is nobody in system and you get ships then you know instantly that these are pos trash / or left at safe spots.
Check your 2nd overview showing POS's just to confirm.

Note: If you see a ship on a POS but there isn't a forcefield active it means that there isn't a forcefield/modules active :) and you should go collect your free stuff!

Ok, so they are not in the planet clusters, you've checked the gates/comos beacons, and the sun. You've got them to 30deg and they are not at a celestial object. Time to drop probes?

No, keep the probes in just yet, we know what direction they are in, but how far are they?
Ideally your target will NEVER see your probes on his overview, even if he's looking for them!

You start off with a rough direction and knowing that he's within 14au, (the list at the bottom will give you the exact distances, but its enough to know that 1AU is approx 150,000,000 km). To get range reduce the initial distance by half, if they are still showing do it again, and again until you know to within 2au of how far they are from you. This is useful information, range and distance, most people just start by throwing out probes at large scanning range roughly in the right direction, and working inwards from there. Whislt that method does work, it usually takes several scans to get down to a warpable 100% hit. This is too long. Ideally you want to be able to place your probes within 2au first time, everytime. With practice, you can start scanning with 1au probes, or even 0.5 au probes, these give the highest chance of the golden 100% hit first scan.

Press the Tactical overlay button on your HUD. Look at the the lines of numbers rising in 4 cardinal directions from your ship, just like the cardinal lines on a compass. Well guess what! they are pinned to the solar system not your ship. You rotate your ship, and they stay fixed, and guess what they are fixed in the map mode too (F10). You can now know approximately the range and the direction based on the cardinal lines. These cardinal lines are the same on the Map screen [F10] however you need to manually orientate your view to match the outside view of your ship. (The dscanner also works in Map mode!). Using a point of reference such as a distant planet, or gate, to line up your map window with your main view, the d-scanner works in this screen too!

Ok its now almost time to drop probes, at this point you've been in the system a few minuites your target is likely to be a little spooked, if you drop probes he's going to be looking for them, and might go move/hide.

When dropping probes on a target many people make a massive mistake. They uncloak drop probes, recloak, then spend the next few miuites moving their probes about the target in an iron cross formation.You need this time to sset up your probe formation but it gives too much time for your target to get spooked.
You do need this time, there is no avoiding it, so how to do it without your target seeing it?

Is the system bigger than 14au? Can you drop your probes in a position more than 14au from him? If so fly there are launch your probes, now you can move them to your hearts content, until you press scan he won't see them on his overview.

If you can't drop them off scan then you can still minimise the time that he can see them, immediately after launching your probes go onto the map screen and move them at least 20au up off the map and press scan.
Your probes will fly up off his overview, you can now set up your formation there in a deep place off his overview.
This gives you all the time to set up your probes and your scanner patten (Iron Cross), and drop the range of your probes to 2AU or lower!

Now move your probes to the posistion on the map where you've scanned him, using the cardinal lines to acurate place your probes at 2au, with good skills you can get a 100% hit on a battleship first try.
If you do get a 100% hit, immediately recall your probes, bookmark the location and warp in for tackle.
If you don't get a 100% hit quickly drop the scanner range down move your probes if needed, and scan again, and scan again. by this point your probes have only been on his overview for a few seconds, he might not have seen them yet, or had time to react.

As you get better try dropping 0.5au probes, T3's can be caught very quickly with the right skills, and a bit of practice.

What to Train
Astrometics  - more probes in space
Astrometic Aquasistion - train to 4, better at 5
Astrometic Pinpointing - train to 4, better at 5

What to buy
T2 Covert Op's Frigate
Gravity Capacitor Rigs
Sisters Combat probes
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher

Practice makes perfect, highsec can be the ideal place as people are less likely to worry about seeing combat probes close to them.
Try scanning out miners and mission runners, then move onto lowsec and more nervous targets...

---------------------- Original version follows.

Combat Probing

WORK IN PROGRESS.... Contact Anabaric for changes and suggestions.
First read this guide on Directional scanning Then watch this video on basic scanning techniques
Ok if you have read the guide on the DScanner you will have a good understanding of the layout of the solar systems, and the how to locate a ship if its at a planet/moon/station etc. Now we need to find the ones that are hiding at safe spots and strike points.


First things first.

Don't launch any probes! Probes have a tendancy to make people nervous, some pilots will instantly move as soon as they see combat probes, some will shorten their scan range to 4au (the usual maximum 100% hit range) and some will start to bounce off safe spots, all these make probing them out harder. You want your probes in space for as little time as possible.

Enter the system (cloak if you can) and warp to your scanning spot, now get a rough fix on your target using the D-scanner. Once you have them at 30degrees and you've confirmed they are not at a planet or warpable object, its time to start thinking about probing them.
The idea is to know where you want to place your probes before you launch them. We do this by using the range function on the d-scanner to determin a rough range from you. Keeping your view screen alligned to them, decrease the range on your scanner by half, keep halfing/increasing the range, until you know how far they are from you within 1au.

(1)49,598,000 km 1 AU    Keep this list handy!
(2)99,196,000 km 2 AU
(4)48,794,000 km 3 AU
(5)98,392,000 km 4 AU
(7)47,990,000 km 5 AU
(8)97,588,000 km 6 AU
(10)47,186,000 km 7 AU
(11)96,784,000 km 8 AU
(13)46,382,000 km 9 AU
(14)95,980,000 km 10 AU
(16)45,578,000 km 11 AU
(17)95,176,000 km 12 AU
(19)44,774,000 km 13 AU
(20)94,372,000 km 14 AU

You only need an approximate range, so only change the first two numbers (20)94372000 km
[IMG - tac overlay icon]
The Tactical Overlay, this is one of the most important tools for probing. It is your friend! The distance lines that radiate from your ship are pinned to the solar system like the points of a compass. These are the same directions in both the scanning map, and the main combat view.

These combined with the rough direction and elevation should allow you to drop your probes on the target first time.
[IMG - Lining up overviews]

Now its time to deploy your probes. On the scanning map, arrange your probes in formation* starting with 4au range, once you get comfortable with this you can start the scan with 2au ranges. Now using the combat overview distance lines move your probes to the target. And press scan. As soon as you press scan the race is on, your probes are now visible to the target on his scanner. If its a battlecruiser or larger ship and you have resonable skills you may get a 100% warpable hit straight away, if this is the case immediately retract your probes.
Formation of probes
There is no perfect way to do this, basically you want an overlap between all probes, at resonable skills you will be able to control 6 probes in space. Put 4 probes in a square so that there is an overlap between them. Now put one above and one below, making sure that the centre area is overlapped by all probes. Anything in this centre area should be detected with a strong signal.
Some people suggest having one probe set at a larger range, to cover ALL the other probes, this can be useful if you are usure of the location, and are scanning on spec, however having the probes at smaller ranges increases their strength.
[IMG - probe formations]
Notes.
System Size matters
Is the system bigger than 14au? if so move away from your target so they are not in scan range, drop your probes and quickly warp back to your scan spot. ideally they will not have seen either you decloaked, or your probes in the air. If it smaller than 14au no matter where you drop the probes they can be seen, however to minimise exposure move as far as possible from the target, at your safe spot drop all the probes and recloak immediately from the scanner window, move all the probes together (don't worry about setting up a formation) and scan a spot in space at least 20au above the map, this immediately moves your probes out of scanner range. You can now take your time and set up your formations prior to scanning.

Can you see your target?

Some pirates like to sit 300km above a gate, usually these spots are used by fast ships that can burn away from the gates, or by sniper battleships, slow boating after them cloaked can be a pain, and they will usually warp off if they see a threat heading towards them.
One solution is to use probes, move away to a safe spot (ideally over 14au away) drop your probes, and line them on the smallest setting (0.5au?) and arrange them on the gate. You should get a 100% warpable hit straight away, bookmark the result and immediately recall the probes. If you are set as squad leader you can warp your tacklers directly ontop of the pirate. Otherwise you will have to warp to 10km and then move into optimum position for the rest of the team to warp to you.
T3 ships can be setup to be unprobable* (Edit Almost unprobable)
This is a fact, and is a combination of sensor strength vs signature. However their drones are not, has he deployed drones?
Mission Space
Makes things harder to probe, you will also arrive at a gate, and normally your MWD will not work.
What ship should you fly? You can use recon cruisers for probing and in smaller gangs, the extra DPS and Ewar support they provide can turn the battle. However the best probing ship is the T2 Covert Ops frigates, with 10% increase to scan strength of probes per level makes probing much faster/easier.
The other advantage of the frigate is the speed, once you have scanned the target, if you warp in to 10-20km away you can use your speed to quickly line up behind the target allowing your fleet to warp to you at 10km and land on top of the target.

What to Train
Astrometics
Astrometic Aquasistion
Astrometic Pinpointing

What to buy
Gravity Capacitor Rigs
Sisters Combat probes
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher
Practice makes perfect, highsec is the ideal place as people are less likely to worry about seeing combat probes close to them. Try scanning out miners and mission runners.