Question, when day tripping, at what point do you say “thanks but no thanks” to a hole? It seems that most holes spawning into High Sec space are occupied, regardless of how many sites left. They are positively littered with POSes and more often than not, ships.
I’ve been probing down with cov-ops, peeking inside and running a quick passive and d-scan. If ships are present I’ll pull out the probes. I then run back to high sec for the Drake if things look nice. I’ve been lucky so far, but after a close call a few days ago (got tackled by an assault frig with his friends in-bound.) I’m wondering what I can do to increase my security.
I feel like I’m being stretched 5 ways from Friday trying to keep an eye on the d-scan while running sites and keeping myself aligned to a celestial or safe spot, and I’m at loathe to run a cloak on the Drake since I’ve already got a probe launcher and salvager.
Really, really good question I'm probably going to answer poorly.
At what point do you say “thanks but no thanks” to a hole?
The short answer: "If there's any kind of activity."
That doesn't mean "if you see Towers", or "if you see ships". It means you see ships, and there's pilots in them, especially if they're doing stuff. (Really, the only way to tell if there's pilots in them is if you can tell they're moving around, or by getting on grid with them, which means finding their tower and looking at them. If the overview shows you a Drake in one column, but a player name in the other column, it's piloted. If it says the ship type in both columns, it's just floating there.)
The long answer: You should cancel your original plans of shooting sleepers if you see online pilots in system, for sure, although it's possible that you can make new plans that involve doing pointy things to the pilots. By yourself, you won't be able to do much, but mugging a lax miner or a badger out collecting planet goo is a fun change of pace, and maybe you'll scare him into logging off so you can shoot sleepers in peace. If you have a couple friends online, you might even be able to lure a guy into attacking you and ambushing him.
It seems that most holes spawning into High Sec space are occupied, regardless of how many sites left. They are positively littered with POSes and more often than not, ships.
I would say that at least 9 of every 10 wormholes I encounter are occupied to some degree, yes. Keep in mind I'm talking mostly about Class 2 and Class 1 systems, but given that Class 2s are the most numerous type, this is indicative.
With that said, "occupied" isn't the same thing as "active". A few minutes of poking around when you get into a system will tell you a lot about what's really going on there. If you do a passive scan (using your onboard scanner), do you see a lot of anomalies? If so, these guys either aren't terribly active, or they just aren't there for the Sleepers (they're doing gas reactions, or making tech3 cruisers or something).
You can also tell by the modules they have on their towers. Are there a lot of silos and coupling arrays? Then they're doing some kind of industry. Online ship assemblies (or ammo or drones or whatever)? Building stuff. Is it nothing but guns and a few hangars? They shoot stuff.
And as I said, just because you see a lot of ships doesn't mean anyone's online. Lots of people are very sloppy and just leave their stuff floating inside the tower shields. The only way to tell for sure is to get on-grid with the tower and look, and that means finding the tower first. More on that in a bit.
I’m wondering what I can do to increase my security.
Okay, so here's me, coming into a system for the first time. I'm not day-tripping, but aside from that, nothing is really different, nor should it be.
I'm outside the wormhole, cloaked. I bookmark it. I have the scanning window up, and I have the in-game browser open and minimized. The homepage of my browser is set to wormnav.com.
I approach the wormhole and jump.
I am on the other side. I have less than a minute before my the 'jump cloak' drops. I check my overview (which is currently set for basic PvP and tower-hunting) and hit both my ship's passive scanner and d-scan. I open the browser window and tell wormnav to update to my current position (something it can only do if it's open in your in-game browser).
Bookmark this side of the wormhole.
I now have data to analyze. Assuming no one is sitting immediately on the wormhole, I align to convenient celestial and immediately cloak. Maybe I jump somewhere to sit at a safe spot, or maybe I keep flying off in random directions while cloaked. Up to you. Time to analyze the data I have.
1. Passive scan: Least-important, but fastest to analyze. Are there anomalies here? "Few or none." means this system is actively occupied, or has very hungry visitors. "A half-dozen or so" means they occupants aren't very active, or they're very inactive and someone cleaned them out a few days ago. "Many" means they're inactive and haven't been visited recently. "OMG it's full of stars" means no one lives here. Jackpot.
2. D-scan. Any ships or towers? If ships AND towers, they're probably together. If ships and no towers, uncheck 'use my overview settings' and re-d-scan, looking for wrecks. If you see wrecks and ships, they're shooting sleepers. No wrecks might mean mining, gas harvesting, Planetary Interaction, space rugby, or ... hell, lots of stuff. If Tower and no ship, probably everyone's asleep. Make sure your overview is set to also show you force fields; if you see a tower but no forcefield, it's abandoned.
If you see no ships or towers, open your system map and see which planets with moons are more than 14AU from you. You will need to warp to those planets (NOT THE MOONS) and refresh d-scan in that area until you have d-scanned the whole system.
Do that even if you initially find a tower. There may be more.
Rule 0: there is a tower. There is always a tower.
3. Wormnav. This page will tell you lots of things about the system, but mostly you're looking for the readouts in the middle that tell you about recent jump activity (random, far-flung spikes indicates visitors-only; lots of consistent jumping means occupants that are active), NPC shooting in the last week or so (indicates activity), and PvP ship and POD kills.
If you see ship and pod kills, reconsider sticking around, unless you're looking for a fight.
If you see ship and pod kills, go to the bottom of wormnav and open up the battleclinic link for more details. Maybe it's the locals who get shot up all the time; that's not bad news.
If you see very little activity, then things are looking pretty good for you.
Let's have a look at that tower. (Or those towers.)
Directional scan is called that for a reason. At this point, it's time to figure out where the towers are and go look at them. Change the 'angle' of your d-scan down to about 15 degrees and swing your camera around so that a planetary cluster within d-scan range is dead-center, then scan.
Do you see the tower on the results? If yes, then the tower is at one of those planet's moons. Warp to that planet at some random distance (not 0 and not 100). If no, repeat this with each planet until you get a 'yes'.
Once in orbit around the planet, swing your camera around to point at each of the planet's moons, d-scanning each, until you figure out which moon is concurrent with the tower. That's your moon.
Make sure your d-scan is showing you EVERYTHING, then scan again, looking for a lot of secure containers, abandoned drones, or corpses, concurrent with mobile warp disruptor bubbles. Such things equal traps meant to snag and decloak you. Be wary.
Warp to the moon and check out the tower. See if the ships are piloted. "Show info" on the tower, check out the owning corp and alliance, and see what their corp info says. Look up the corp and alliance on the battleclinic kill boards. Google them. See if they have a website. Do your research.
Repeat this for every tower where you see ships.
Is everyone logged out? Are you alone?
You may deploy scanning probes.
Wormnav will tell you how many wormholes there should be in the system. Use your scanning probes and verify there aren't more than that, but don't visit them if you have the right number and want to keep the system quiet.
So: Are we cool? All things are right in the world?
Now you can go get your Drake. Hopefully, all of this hasn't taken more than an hour or so. If you're lucky, or you get good at it, it'll be about 20 minutes, top to bottom. (Yes, it takes a tedious amount of time. I've said as much. C'est la EvE.)
What if there isn't a tower?
There is always a tower.
If you really think there isn't, drop a single combat scanner probe, set it to 64 au, and scan the whole system.
If you don't get any hits but you, congratulations: You either just found your new home, or are about to make about 300 million isk or more from selling the system's location.
I feel like I’m being stretched 5 ways from Friday trying to keep an eye on the d-scan while running sites and keeping myself aligned to a celestial or safe spot.
You're doing it right, mostly. Solo, daytripping into a wormhole, you need to land on the site, align to a celestial, keep moving, and be ready to warp away to that celestial the moment you see anything weird on d-scan (which window should simply never be closed, and which you should be hitting every 10 to 15 seconds, at minimum.
Don't salvage on that Drake, though; not while you're solo and fighting (if you have friends with you, one of them can salvage as they fight, if they're very good at it, but don't expect them to watch d-scan). Bookmark a wreck as you keep moving and killing. When everything's dead, warp to another site and keep going, or warp away somewhere and wait, or warp home for a salvaging ship. In 20 minutes or less, the site will despawn. (You'll know it has if you try to warp to the wreck and DO NOT see the little pop-up message.) Don't salvage until it's despawned. Preferably, do it in a dedicated salvaging boat, because it's better to do it faster and get out, and frankly one salvager on a properly tanked Drake will take WAY too long.
The reason you wait for the despawn is because anyone in the world can find you with no probes in an active anomaly (they need only d-scan and the passive scanner), but in a despawned anomaly, they must use probes, and that gives you a layer of protection and a few more seconds of warning.
And if you have someone following behind you to salvage, try not to do what these guys did.
Hope that helps. More good questions and bad answers in the comments...