As a freighter pilot: it is fine.
I don’t get what is with all these salt threads lately. Here’s the 3 most common arguments and objections to them.
Bumping is Risk-Free
It is not. Any ship in space is at risk. Machariels are pretty damn expensive, you know, even after insurance. Did you know that bump Machariels are quite lightly tanked?
If you want to verify this, use a ship scanner on a Machariel doing a bump. Keep scanning until you catch the entire fit. It’s quite thin, you see? At least, thin for your average pirate BS tank.
Taking Advantage of Bumper Risk
Here’s an idea. Gank the ■■■■■■■ Machariel. It works pretty well. Remember Burn Jita? PL killed off some bumpers, forcing them to reship into stuff like Typhoons, which are vastly inferior bumping ships. Some of the Machariels even dropped a decent amount of loot too.
If you don’t have the pilots and dps to kill it (doesn’t take a lot, use Talos or Hecate) then you can even go suicide a tackle Daredevil into it or something to stop it in its tracks while the freighter catches a breath.
■■■■, even get a 500mn Stabber or something and bump the bumper if you’re super spacepoor. If you’re even poorer or newer than that and still want to help, see the Counterplay section.
Bump Risk Reduction
This is also a really ironic argument to make considering that bump and gank is basically the only way to catch and kill a freighter in highsec, especially for characters with low standing. In other words, it is one of the few sources of risk for freighter pilots. Don’t expect to be able to fly lazily through space and not be at risk.
The process of bumping and ganking typically begins long before. You can avoid bumping entirely. See Counterplay.
Bumping is Not Intended Gameplay
There is a lot of gameplay that is not intended, but clever use of mechanics that is allowed. In the end, players define what can and cannot be done, and short of exploits and frivolous lag generation (as a denial of service), what they do within legal bounds of game mechanics is fine. If CCP didn’t like it they would say so; all it takes is for them to post, “Exploit Notification: Repeated Ship Collision to Prevent Warp” and it’d all be doubtlessly wrong. Furthermore, you’re not CCP, so how do you presume to know the limits of their intent?
Intent also doesn’t matter. Players have augmented the game experience by taking advantage of intended game mechanics for unintended consequences. Examples of unintended gameplay:
Travelceptors and travelcates. Much of their uncatchability stems from the 1Hz server tick.
Higgs rigged rolling. Higgs rigs were intended for mining aligned. Instead they are used for rolling wormholes with their extra mass.
Pipebombing. Even though this is smartbombs being used for the intended purpose of doing damage, I’ll throw this one in there because I strongly doubt that CCP envisioned fleets of nothing but bombing battleships.
MWD-Cloak trick. Used for moving non-insta ships around with much lower risk. Takes advantage of velocity and warp mechanics.
Instawarp webbing. Don’t know what it is? See Counterplay.
Bumping Has No Counterplay
This is very very very wrong and I’m tired of having to explain this. Don’t be a ■■■■■■■ dumbass, freighter pilots, and you’ll die a lot less.
Active Bumping Counters
Let’s look at how bumping works.
In order for a ship to warp, the component of its velocity in the direction of its warp destination must be 75% of the ship’s max velocity.
The goal of bumping is to ensure this never happens. Ram the target so hard and in such a way that they cannot realign before you hit them again. Freighters are fat and have terrible speed so this isn’t too difficult.
The best way to avoid ganks altogether is to not be there. You can use the same mechanics as bumping to get a freighter to warp in 2-3 seconds. Essentially, webs reduce max velocity, so if you hit a freighter with enough webbing power, its max velocity drops to very low. The tiny amount of velocity it has already accumulated in the first second or two then becomes over 75% of its max, and it’s instantly off.
Generally the threshold is 3x T2/meta webs from a normal ship, or 2x from a well-skilled Serpentis ship. However long webs are generally prized over strong ones because freighters will often be out of range otherwise. The best ships for this in descending order are therefore the Rapier, Huginn, Loki, Hyena, Vigil Fleet, Ashimmu, Enforcer, Vigilant, Daredevil.
The procedure is this:
Put your webber in fleet with the freighter, in command of it. Set the webber to not accept fleet warp. Start a duel if needed.
When you warp to a gate, both ships jump. Or you can make the freighter wait if you prefer checking first with the webber, and jump when it looks safe.
Webber reapproaches gate, turns on sensor boosters if it has any. Freighter does not move.
The webber selects the outbound gate, then switches to a dedicated overview tab with only blue freighters.
Pre-click all of the webs. Right click the outbound gate in the Selected Item dialog and select warp fleet. Then spam click at the very top of the overview.
The freighter will begin warp and decloak from the warp fleet command, and appear at the top of the overview where you are clicking. Because your webs are pre-activated, clicking on the freighter automatically begins the lock, and webs will apply as soon as the lock finishes.
Webs should hit almost immediately and your freighter will go into warp. If it is out of range (worst case) overheat and approach, spamming webs on. Then go train up for longer web range, scrub.
While in warp, remember to select “jump” on the freighter if you want it to jump on landing. Don’t forget to warp your webber (it will not follow the fleet warp) and it’ll have a weapons timer, so you may have to wait for that to expire in order to jump it through the next gate.
Note that webs are offensive. Your webber and your freighter must be able to shoot each other; this means you are in a 1-man friendly fire corp together, you duel (most common), or if you’re into it, a war between 1-man corps can work too. Always have duel auto-reject on the freighter, and use the freighter to duel the webber beforehand. Absolutely do not accept duels from randoms, like that “friendly” neighborhood hyena conveniently orbiting you.
The counter to web alts is having a suicide tackle (usually something like a Blackbird) lock faster than the webber and disrupt before it can go. You can get around this by having higher scan resolution than the tackle so you lock faster.
If you mess up and do get bumped, the webber is still helpful because it can help cut velocity at critical times during the bump to reduce effectiveness, or by burning forward for warpin. And even beyond safety considerations, webs are nice because they cut out a big portion of travel time–more hauling/hr for you.
Of note here is the Bowhead and Orca. Although it’s less safe, you can travel decently fast with a 500mn y-t8 microwarpdrive. When you warp, turn it on and off. When the cycle ends, you warp, so there’s only a 10s window to bump you. Other subcapitals can add a cloak for safety (google MWD-Cloak trick) but they’re usually not subject to bumps.
edit: Mechanics note. I may have gotten the underlying mechanic explanation wrong, although the observed effect is still an immediate warp!
What if you turn he game on its head so that the Mach is not bumping you away from where you want to go, but rather towards? The answer is that you warp off instantly. Thanks, Mr. Bumper!
A great way to do this is to have a whole bunch of bookmarks in every conceivable direction around common bump-gank gates. Getting bumped? No problem! Ctrl-space to cancel your warp. Just switch to Tactical view and look at the little blue arrow for your ship velocity. Which bookmark is it pointing close to? Try warping there. Even though freighters are slow, a buffer of several hundred km is more than enough to warp off before that Mach reaches you again. Bonus if you have extra layers of even deeper bookmarks in case it does. In lieu of bookmarks, you can also use celestials, other gates, and structures like stations–the latter two of which are great because you can generally jump/dock to safety. Honestly if the anti-ganking community had any collective money the best thing they could do would be to spam freeport raitarus in dead zones around gates, but mostly they seem to sit around and do cringy RP. Or welp T3s.
Note that this is countered by combat scanner probes. However, not a lot of bumpers have them on hand. Even if they do, it’s a pain to keep scanning and chasing you down, and if you have a webber alt, you can make it nearly impossible to hold you because you will have very low effective align time.
Edit: apparently a lot of Machs have them. Personally I’ve never been scanned down so maybe they’re just bad with them?
It takes some time to prep but if it saves you, it’s worth it. Also, anyone can help! By flying a fast frigate or well-positioned cloaky ship, you can become a living ping that a freighter can warp to. Players fresh out of the tutorial can even contribute in this way; get in the freighter’s fleet and just keep flying in the direction the freighter’s being bumped in with a microwarpdrive. It’s a common interceptor role in nullsec.
This isn’t so much a bump counter as a gank counter, but if you get a cheap ship (even a corvette will do) and tag along with the freighter, you can reduce the time window of the gank by a few critical seconds.
Set safety red. If you see a gank fleet landing or on very short dscan, just pop a shot off at the freighter. It’ll pull CONCORD on grid earlier or force a gank fleet to re-pull CONCORD. Of course you die, so dock up to reship and log onto another character on the account for the 15 minute criminal cycle so they can do the same thing. Since Corvettes are free and you can cycle free characters, this is a very cost-effective solution Combined with logi to rep up between failed ganks, you can stay alive like this.
JK, CONCORD is single-target. Not worth unless you’re dealing with very small gank groups, like triple cat. Thanks for the correction!
If you log off, you emergency warp 1m km off and disappear. Some freighter pilots elect to log off when bumped and it works sometimes, but you’re essentially at the mercy of the bumper and there’s plenty of counter to it. They can welp suicide corvettes into you to keep you timer’d up, and I think there’s even something about fleet tagging that prevents e-warp.
If you must do this, safelogging is the best way to do this. Stop your ship if you’re issuing a navigation command, and right click your capacitor > Log Off Safely (near the bottom). You’re still at the helm, and it’ll count down. At the end of which, you just disappear and I don’t think anyone can stop you. This process can be aborted by either suicide tagging or locking you. If you are being locked, you can’t do it. Log back in when it looks clearer.
Taking Advantage of Others’ Misery
Gank fleets have finite amount of power. If another freighter is being bumped off of gate and there’s no bumpers on the gate, well, just go through. They’re probably preoccupied with their target. Take advantage of the fact that someone less tanky and more expensive than you is about to be a target to make your getaway. ))
Gank Avoidance Begins In Station
What follows from here is basically Freighter Piloting 101 because not dying is pretty fundamental to getting things moved.
Even though CODE likes to roleplay about highsec domination, the fundamental driver of suicide ganking, like most activities in EVE is fun and profit. You can at least ensure it is not profitable to gank you. On a similar note, do not pay ransoms to bumpers; if you’re worth ganking, they have no incentive to honor the payment.
Limit your cargo. The value that drops is 50% of your cargo and fittings. Don’t fit or carry more than you can afford to lose. If you’re new to freighters and doing public courier contracts, an easy way to do this is to simply not have the isk to accept too much collateral. Send extras/profits to your alt or something so you won’t be tempted by that 5b contract you’re not ready for. I recommend new freighter pilots filter contracts that carry no more than they can while fit with 3x Type-D Restrained Reinforced Bulkheads (430k km3 for Obelisk IV, 470 km3 for Obelisk V), and limit their total collateral to 1.2 billion.
There are only three cases where value goes out the window.
Burn Jita. If you haul during BJ, make sure you’re right at downtime or in some backwoods system.
Don’t get on people’s ■■■■ lists, be nice. Remember that salt is a valuable commodity, don’t drop it.
Don’t be at war/suspect/facpo’d/permaflashy either because, spoilers, freighter vs anything, the freighter dies.
Tank yourself. Fit the greatest tank possible for the volume of cargo you carry. Every time I see a freighter with three cargo expanders die to 10 bombers while hauling a handful of blueprints, a part of me dies inside. Seriously it’s not ■■■■■■■ hard. There are a few main modules freighters should even consider fitting. Jump freighters have some more but if you’re into JFs you should know what you’re doing. Here are the modules in descending order of priority:
Reinforced Bulkhead II. These offer the greatest tank. They cut your cargo volume, but they’re your default fitting. A triple bulked freighter is much a harder target than a triple expander one.
Type-D Restrained Reinforced Bulkhead. These offer the next best tank but cut your cargo capacity less. If you need a touch more cargo, consider swapping an RB2 for one of these.
Adaptive Nano Plating. True Sansha/Dark Blood if you can, Refuge or T2 if you can’t. Increases armor belt resists, so better tank. Not as good of a tank bonus as bulkheads, but no cargo penalty.
Type-D Restrained Expanded Cargohold. Moderate tank penalty, but expands capacity.
Expanded Cargohold II. Greatest capacity bonus and greatest tank loss. If you fit these you better be sure about it.
Carry a small freight container with 3x of each. Fit the combination that maximizes your tank for the capacity you must carry. You may have to mix and match bulkheads, expanders, and plating; note that there are some fits that are strictly inferior to others (less tank and less cargo). Because I’m a tryhard I made an in-game fit for every possible combination of fit and listed them by their cargo capacity and ehp, so whenever I need to expand I can just look up the optimal combination. This is not necessary but makes refitting easier and more accurate.
But an easy rule. Need more cargo? Move a fitting down a grade. Have more than enough cargo? Try move a fitting up a grade. Eventually you arrive at something satisfactory.
Train tank skills. Mechanics is a big one. Your armor belt is next best, so skills like Hull Upgrades and the compensation skills are great. The Masteries tab for a freighter is pretty on-point if you need more of a guide.
If you’re flying an Amarr freighter or JF, one option is a deadspace plating fit with high-grade slaves. Costly, but you get Bulkheaded levels of tank with no cargo reduction. This however is a special exception.
A note on travel fits:
Do not fit nanos. If you fit nanos to your freighter you’re dumb and it deserved to die. Nanos kill hull tank, which is your main tank.
If you’re looking for autopiloting speed (which is unadvisable) then the most optimal combination is 1x Inertial Stabilizer II and 2x Overdrive Injector System II. Neither of them kills your tank, and Overdrives cut your cargo, but you shouldn’t be hauling much if anything while autopilot-speed fit. If you’re at the keyboard, have no webber, and just want to move, 3x Inertial Stabilizer fit is your best bet. Warp gate to gate and don’t stop. Personally though I don’t care about speed and if I need my freighter moved empty somewhere, I go with 3x Bulkhead and autopilot while I go do something entertaining. I know the risk and I accept it, and I would rather go replace a freighter than babysit it for the very small chance it dies.
Plan your route. Keep in mind that safe planning includes making a safe route. Do not expect to go safely through ■■■■■■■ lowsec or null/wh in a freighter, unless it is your space and you have immediate backup. If you do so and die, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Always assume that you have been scanned. That everyone and their mother knows your fit and cargo. Use insta-undocks and webbers to reduce your chances, but fly like everyone knows.
Make multiple trips if you have to. The annoyance is less than that of losing a fully loaded freighter.
Keep an eye out for 0.5/0.6 systems on your route, especially around Niarja and Uedama. Don’t be afraid to go the long way around or wait until it’s less risky. Watch the killboard and note not only the day’s killboard activity, but also the time on previous days. If you have a good idea of when certain bumpers/gank groups/gank multiboxers are active it helps. You can also get easy intel by creating an alpha account with characters parked permanently in systems of interest; just log off the freighter and log in the eyes whenever you want to check.
If you’re not there, you can’t be bumped or ganked.
A note on citadels:
Also worth mentioning here is citadel couriers. If you’re thinking of taking a courier contract with collateral and one of the endpoints is a citadel:
Dock at a source citadel before accepting contracts from it.
Make sure you absolutely, without a shade of doubt, trust the desto. Check the owner every time to make sure it isn’t an imposter, and check the services to make sure it isn’t closed to docking.
tl;dr bumping is fine, git gud
edit: oh yeah, safelogging is a thing, derp. Thank you all for contributing.