Before moving into a wormhole system you need to make sure that you can cover all the ship type requirements to operate effectively in wormhole space. It is not necessarily the case that every pilot should be able to cover every ship type, but you should aim for at least some pilots who are able to cover most of the bases.
Scanning ScoutThe scanning scout role is the most important in wormhole space, for obvious reasons. Without scouts to scan signatures, you won't be able to move around in wormhole space at all. If you end up without a scout in your home system and the current links close, you will be unable to get back, and all of your assets will be lost. It is generally a good idea to have a couple of back-up characters that are rarely used positioned in your home system in case such an eventuality should occur.
Scanning scout is a key role that every pilot should be able to cover. The skills to get into a tech 1 scanning boat, some rudimentary scanning skills and the ability to fit a cloak take just a few days to train and provide more redundancy. I ensure that any character I intend to use in wormhole space has the ability to scan themselves out - or more importantly, to provide a route for other characters back in.
While a tech 1 scanning boat is the absolute minimum, ideally you should aim for a tech 2 covert ops scanning frigate for any character that is going to be consistently used for non-support purposes in the wormhole. While tech 1 scan frigates allow you to find your way around, tech 2 covert ops ships with the covert ops cloaking devices mean that you can do so with much less risk to yourself, and without opponents gaining valuable intelligence about your character. Any link that you scan down and warp to in a tech 1 frigate will result in any watchers present seeing your character and corporation; doing the same in a covert ops frigate will mean they are none the wiser - they only know that someone has had probes out.
Site RunningShips for running sites in wormhole space are only required if you intend to 'live off the land' - that is that the wormhole system (or those connected to it) will be providing your income and you won't be obtaining it from external sources.
The ships that you require for running sites will be dictated by the class of the wormhole system that you are in. It is a good idea to get some fits together prior to moving into wormhole space and test them by day tripping into wormhole systems, instead of moving in and finding yourself without an income source.
In general terms the ships required to run wormhole system combat sites are as follows;
- Class 1: a well-skilled cruiser pilot can use a well-fit tech 1 cruiser to run sites, although not necessarily quickly. More likely for new entrants to wormhole space to use is a pair of tech 1 cruisers so that sleeper NPCs split their fire between the ships and they can provide mutual support through remote repair systems. A single Battlecruiser can run all of the sites in a Class 1 system by itself, even with relatively poor skills.
- Class 2: outside of a few niche fits, basic cruisers are not really viable for running sites in Class 2 wormhole systems. Single Battlecruisers can run all of the sites but may require more skills and better fits for the tougher ones, including some of the relic and data sites. You will begin to see some Tech 3 strategic cruisers running sites in Class 2 space; this isn't something I advocate as the amount of site running required to pay for them vastly outweighs the gain in speed when gunning down NPCs.
- Class 3: some of the sites in Class 3 space can be run with single Battlecruisers, but the fits need to be thought through carefully and the pilots will need to be well skilled. It is much more frequent to see small groups of Battlecruisers running sites, single Tech 3 cruisers, or pilots using command ships or Heavy Assault Cruisers
- Class 4: multiple ships are all but required for running combat sites in Class 4 wormhole systems. While the sites can be run solo using a well fit Marauder, the skills and cost required mean I wouldn't recommend it for people moving into a wormhole system for the first time. Battlecruisers don't tend to have the damage projection or tank required to handle C4 sites easily; the damage applied and neuting mean that any ship relying on a local tank is going to be sorely tested. Spider tanks (where many combat ships all have remote repair systems in addition to weapons) or dedicated logistics are the safer approach to take to site-running.
MiningMining can provide an alternate income source for people living off the land in wormhole space; whether through harvesting gas or going for asteroids in the ore sites. It should be noted that Sleeper NPCs will spawn at these sites after some time and so if you want to harvest all of their resources you will need a combat capable pilot to clear the hostile NPCs out.
When selecting ships for mining in wormhole space I would always err on the disposable side of the fence. Pilots with no implants should be used, and ships fitted as cheaply and lightly as possible. They will be lost, so you should seek to reduce your exposure to risk. It is possible to reduce the risk itself, through vigilance in watching the directional scanner and the system scanner, but mining and gas harvesting are not the most thrilling of pass-times and at some point attention will inevitably wander. And that is the point at which an interdictor will land in the middle of your mining operation.
Ventures are a really good choice for disposable ships, and the corp can bring in a fixed number of them with a standard fit to avoid a ton of them cluttering up the hangar.
CombatWhether or not you want to go looking for fights in wormhole space, eventually you will find one - or one will find you. Larger groups will often leave you alone at a strategic level - or even offer you assistance - if you give them good fights, so it's a good idea for your long term safety to have some combat ships available, even if you don't feel you are particularly competent in them.
Firstly, the type of ships that you bring into the wormhole for PvP should be dictated by your wallet and your experience level. If you're new, don't put all your ISK into a blinged-out Tech 3 Strategic Cruiser; you are going to lose your first few engagements when you attack a bait ship or jump through a wormhole into a camp, so it's better to get the lie of the land in something more disposable. Battlecruisers are still a reasonable choice for wormhole PvP, and on the cheaper end Vexors can do nicely. As covered by other posts on this blog, lighter, kiting ships don't generally fare as well in wormhole space - although if you are looking to fly purely defensively in your own wormhole system a lot of their shortcomings are mitigated.
For newer pilots HAM Drakes, Myrmidons, Brutixes and Cyclones are great ships to bring in for PvP. They are all simple to fly, tanky, and do reasonable damage.
For more experienced pilots, Heavy Assault Cruisers can work wonders, but Tech 3 cruisers are the go-to ship class for most low end wormhole combat. Just make sure you can afford the ship, and the skill loss. I'd also recommend against blinging almost anything on the first few you
TackleIf you're looking to go on the offensive and hunt for targets, things can get a bit messier. Because of the high damage output and stern tank on most Sleeper NPCs, any ships that you're looking to gank running wormhole system sites can actually kick out quite a bit of hurt. This means that there are a few main routes available to you in order to tackle targets;
- Hope they're really dumb. This isn't a great idea, but it's surprising how many people just forget about d-scan after a while and act all surprised when a ship lands out of warp next to them. You'll need another ship to scan them down and get you a good warp in, or they'll just skedaddle. You can use any combat ship if you want to try this 'plan'.
- Disposable frigates. You can use alternate accounts to warp in fast and hold people down for long enough for some heavy hitters to arrive and lock them down properly. There are two main downsides to this; the first is that you really do need spare accounts to do this in, as being "the guy who always explodes" isn't awesome fun for people and siterunning fits need to be able to deal with Sleeper NPC frigates. The second is that people can actually get away quite a bit of the time, because they can nuke the frigate and warp off before heavier tackle appears on the scene. Interdictors can last a little longer and do a better job of holding them down, but they're a lot more expensive to lose. You're not going to tackle more than a single siterunner in one.
- Heavy Interdictors. Expensive, and they can be seen in warp if people are fast on d-scan. On the plus side, they don't need a lock in order to stop a target from warping off and then can hold down multiple targets.
- Tackle T3s. Very expensive but their tanks mean that they can withstand a lot of firepower before backup arrives. Covert ops cloaks mean that they can get into an ideal tackling position before springing the trap, and if you are that way inclined an interdiction nullifier can allow them to scarper from quite a variety of counter-ambushes.
- Arazu / Lachesis. The long tackle range is great, and damping can allow you to avoid fire, but more than one siterunner can cause severe headaches, and Sleeper NPCs can force you off of the field surprisingly quickly.
HaulingYou're going to need ships to bring in fuel and ammo, and you're probably going to want ships to cart Planetary Interaction materials around. Dirt cheap ships with warp core stabilizers and nanofiber internal structures are the way to go; scouting is your real safety, don't try to tank them.
Slightly more complicated is how you're going to get Sleeper loot out. It's not massively high volume, so I'd actually suggest using a T3 or other heavily tanked ship - if you're scouted out of wormhole space then your main threat is actually hi-sec gankers. Just don't use a T1 hauler.