For ratting in null sec, Gaff told me that the Tengu is unparalleled. And so my Tengu strategic cruiser, which had been sitting in my hanger since early 2010, got shipped out to 0.0 space. It was time to blow off the dust and actually use it.
Ratting, the hunting of NPC pirates (rats, which distinguishes them from actual player pirates) in space, has changed some since I last pursued it. In fact, the last time ratting was an activity I pursued in and of itself was probably back when I started playing EVE (back in 2006) as a way to make a bit of money with my second post-Ibis frigate.
My first post-Ibis frigate was destroyed when the very first mission I drew was the tier 1 version of Worlds Collide, which turned out to be a quick death for my ship.
Back then it was simply a matter of jumping around between asteroid belts looking for rats, then killing and looting them. And that is still a viable plan, especially in null sec, where a belt rat spawn will occasionally include a special ship that will drop faction items.
The downside of belt rats is that the spawn rate can be slow, there are only so many asteroid belts in any given star system, a lot of the spawns can be tiny crap, and even one ship can usually blow through all the belts before anything respawns, so if there are two or more people looking to rat to get that special drop, it can be a slow way to accomplish anything.
So at some point… I forget the expansion… CCP put in anomalies. I most likely do not remember when because I ignored them. I was running missions, mining, building stuff, and doing tech II research. I didn’t need anomalies.
Now, however, they are of interest.
Anomalies are essentially concentrations of pirate NPCs in a star system that you can find with your ship’s scanner. The size and quality of such concentrations depends on the quality and level to which a system, in null sec at least, has been upgraded. (I do not understand the whole “upgrade” thing, but that is for another day.)
These concentrations are in regular space, unlike some missions which occur in deadspace, which is instanced, and are effectively mini-missions. You scan, you select one from the list your scanner shows (and they come in multiple flavors… though foresaken hubs are the best bang for the buck I am told, if you have the right ship), warp to the one you picked, and then say hello to your new friends.
Of course, they have been sitting around waiting for something to do, so are probably happy to see you.