If you've been reading this blog consistently, you have learned about to fit solid PvP ships, basic tactics for engaging in PvP and how to plan for when things go wrong. In short, you know what to fly and should have a general idea of how to kill your prey when you find it.
But... how do you find targets in the first place?
There are a lot of answers to that question (for some of the crazier and more inventive ones, check out The Playbook series). But the vast majority of the targets I catch (157 and counting) aren't found through subtle schemes or elaborate traps. I find them by roaming a territory.
Roaming - moving systematically through a system before quickly moving on to the next - is effective and efficient because, at any given moment in EVE, there are a limited number of potential targets, and they are generally spread out. By covering a wide area as quickly as possible, you maximize your chances of finding as many viable targets as possible in a given span of time. Additionally, by keeping on the move, the reduce the chances of becoming a victim yourself as vengeful targets converge upon your hunting ground.
With the preliminaries out of the way, the following is my procedure for roaming low and nullsec.
1. CHOOSE A ROUTE - The first step at the start of any roam is to determine the route that you are going to cover. You ideally want a long string of connected systems with similar security status that are likely places that your targets-of-choice would be in. If you are looking for ratting cruisers, you want systems in the 0.0-0.3 range (since those contain the T4-6 anomalies that attract the best targets). You should avoid picking the same route day after day - you'll find that your targets are fewer and more skittish for a few days after a good roam, and you don't want your prey to learn your name. I like to set my route in autopilot, so that the next system is highlighted in my overview.
2. CHECK LOCAL - When you first enter the system, take a moment to check local and see if there are any available targets. If you are in lowsec and there are only 1-2 other pilots (or if the majority of the targets are Blue), go ahead and jump to the next system. If you are in nullsec and there are a dozen pilots in system, turn around and go a different route. Yes, you will miss an occasional target this way, but you'll find more targets/hour by skipping unlikely systems.
3. CHECK FOR SCOUT/INQUISITOR/DEADSPACE ANOMALIES - Even if you aren't specifically fit for killing ratters, these sites should ALWAYS be your first priority. I have NEVER gone to one and not gotten a kill. Either you will find a pilot already ratting the location, or you will be the first there and you can complete it yourself, walk off with millions in loot and wait there until an unwary pilot wanders in. I have managed to kill 5 pilots in one site just by sitting a waiting for them to come to me.
4. MAKE YOUR FIRST PASS - Once you've determined a system is worth your time, run through the most likely places that your ideal target would be. If your ship is designed to hunt ratters, go through the anomalies. If you are aiming to pop miners, hit the belts. It helps to set your overview to "Sort by Name" instead of "Sort by Distance" (otherwise, it is hard to avoid circling back to the same sites over and over).
5. IF UNFLAGGED, MOVE ON - Once you've run through all the anomalies (if hunting ratters) or belts (if hunting miners) move on if you didn't find something (and gain a criminal flag). Again, you MIGHT find some other targets by going through the sites you are less designed for, but your probability of finding good targets you can actually kill is better by moving on to the next system rather than sticking around in the same one.
6. IF YOU GOT FLAGGED, DIG DEEPER - However, if you DID get flagged, you are stuck in that system for the next 5 minutes (if you didn't get the kill) or 10 minutes (if you did). Rather than just sit wasting time, you might as well check the other sites in the system to see if you can find something. In order of priority, here is how I spend that time:
- Mission baiting - if you are in a mission system, ask in local if someone will fleet up to help you finish a story mission. If someone accepts, lure them to a remote corner of the system and tell them to warp to you. (See "The Damsel in Distress" for more info)
- Go through belts/anomalies - Whatever you didn't hit on your first pass, do that now. Even though you might not be setup to kill miners/ratters, you might catch some AFK/poorly fit enough to kill even with a less-than-ideal setup.
- Planet baiting - If you are in a system with a planet close enough to a gate or station to see the sentries from overview, and have an appropriate ship run the Planet Can Scam.
- Check the planets - You'd be amazed how often you will find pilots sitting right at the warp in for a planet, just sitting AFK. Even if you don't win that particular jackpot, you will often find cargo cans with planetary materials that you can steal for a healthy profit.
- Second pass through your preferred sites - If you are still waiting for your flag to pass (typically because you've gotten multiple kills in that system) go ahead and make another round through the belts/anomalies.
- "Safe spot" - If you have a cap-unstable fit, run your modules until you are almost out of capacitor and then warp to a distance location. Without enough energy to reach your destination, you will drop out of warp in between the two positions. Once you are in such a "safe spot" you are invincible - there is no way currently available in the game to locate you.
- Warp and Run - If you can't pull off the previous maneuver, the next best thing is to warp to 100km from a planet, turn on your MWD and run away from the planet at full speed. After a few seconds you will be hundreds of kilometers from the warp in point - far enough away that no one will be able to catch you.
SO... HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE ROAMING?
For obvious reasons, this is a hard question to answer and will vary immensely based on your build, your route, your success rate and, frankly your skill. However, in the past several weeks I have routinely pulled 30-110mil isk per 20 system roam in my Caracal Navy. If you move efficiently, and don't lose ships, that can start to become competitive with ratting or missions are a revenue source - and is considerably more fun.