January 8, 2012

How to Make Gatecampers Cry

Say you're traveling from Rens to Amarr, aiming to sell some Firetail blueprints you got really cheap at a marked-up price in Amarr. Since time is money, you decide to take the lowsec route, and fly your combat Rupture, to maybe get a fight on the way back. You get past Amamake safely (since you're smart enough to be careful there), but just as you jump into Kamela from Kourmonen... You see them.

You see a Broadsword, a couple Lokis, and some Hurricanes all sitting on the gate. It dawns on you: this is a gatecamp. You are so dead.

They kill you horribly, you lose your temper, cuss them out in local, then post a thread in the Features & Ideas discussion board about a silly anti-camper module you want to have for your ship. Then, you calm down and think what you could have done differently. Is there a way to evade camps like this?

Why, yes! It's called...

The Cloak-Microwarpdrive Trick

Often, this is also known as the "Microwarpdrive-Cloak" trick, but this is a better mnemonic. It requires two modules: a microwarpdrive (MWD), and a cloak. It also requires practice, and good coordination. It will also get you past most gate camps -- it requires a lot of skill, luck, and a very fast ship to be able to catch someone pulling a Cloak-MWD trick. This works with almost any ship that can fit these two modules -- even some battleships can do this!

How do I do it?

So you jump into a system, and find yourself amidst a bunch of hostile ships that are just waiting for you to decloak to kill you. Here's how to escape:

  1. Pick a celestial object (or other warp-to spot) that is not in the direction of any enemy; you don't want do decloak yourself by running into anyone
  2. In very fast succession
    1. Start aligning to the object (not warping)
    2. Turn on your cloak
    3. Turn on your MWD
  3. Deactivate your MWD; you should only need let it run for a single cycle
  4. Glide along until the MWD is about to finish its cycle; keep your fingers crossed that nobody decloaks you during this time
  5. Just as the MWD's cycle runs out, do these in very fast succession:
    1. Deactivate your cloak
    2. Spam the warp command like there is no tomorrow
  6. Laugh at the gatecampers being sad for not catching you when you instantly warped away upon decloaking.


There are a few conditions you need to satisfy for this to work:
  • You need to have a microwarpdrive appropriate for your ship's size
  • You need to have a T2 cloak; that is, an Improved Cloaking Device II. Using a T1 cloak is possible, but very difficult, and might not work on bigger ships.
  • This works in 0.0, but you can't be inside a warp disruption field when you try to warp (duh). If you do end up inside a bubble, don't decloak, and just try to drift out undetected.
So... How does it work?

Warp drives are peculiar things. When you warp someplace, and it appears to take forever to align, you are actually mostly waiting for your ship to accelerate (or decelerate) to the appropriate velocity to activate the warp drive. 

The combination of the MWD and the cloak has a weird effect on this. The MWD increases your top speed to 500% of its regular speed, and the cloak (not being a covert-ops cloak) decreases your top speed to 25%. This means that for the one cycle that you can have your MWD active at the same time as the cloak (before it deactivates itself), your top speed is 125% your regular top speed. 

The 10 seconds that your MWD is active are usually not enough to get you all the way there, though. Especially with bigger ships, you will only accelerate to about 75%-80% of your regular top speed.

... Which turns out is the velocity envelope for warp drive activation that I mentioned in the first place.When you deactivate both the cloak and the MWD, you are aligned, and already at the right speed to warp -- which means you can warp before almost anything can lock you.

Addendum: as someone on Reddit wisely pointed out, this is best called the "Cloak-MWD" trick rather than the "MWD-Cloak" trick because of the order it is best to activate the modules in. After activating the cloak, there is a split second when you can activate the MWD without your ship complaining. Activating the MWD in that split second saves you from the fast locking times of enemies because of the MWD bloating your signature radius.

How can I counter the MWD-Cloak trick? 

Hello, Mr. Gatecamper. One solution would be to stop doing this grubbing for easy targets and go challenge yourself for once. I suppose, though, that catching a MWD-Cloak ship is a challenge, so I guess I'll help.

Catching a MWD-Cloak ship is all about decloaking it. Remember it's not very fast when it does this, but is moving at a reasonable speed. Try to burn full-speed into the vicinity of where it popped up for a split second before cloaking. With some luck, you will pass 2 km from it, decloaking it before its time is due. Its MWD will be active, so you can target it very quickly.

Other than that general method, some tips:
  • Be in a gang; more people means a higher chance for decloak
  • Use interceptors; they are very fast, and target very quickly, so are perfect for the job
  • Assign drones to assist any fast ships aiming for decloak; a ship with a cloud of drones following it has far better chances to decloak things
  • Don't camp big gates (like the one above). Your gang will get too spread out, and you won't be able to decloak the target in time
This is a good job to give to newbies in Rifters or other frigates, actually.

Like the MWD-Cloak trick itself, countering it requires practice, and a bit of luck. But... at least you don't have a chance to lose your ship if you fail, because you're such a "pro" pilot that you minimized all risk involved in putting green on your corporation's killboard, right?


  1. Kourm - Auga gate is a regional gate.

    It is pretty much impossible to camp. I have never seen anyone bother.

  2. Oops. Corrected so it talks about an actual local gate, not a regional gate.

  3. There is also an advanced version of this trick for heavily plated ships or Deep Space transports that can't quite get up to 70% of their top speed in the 10 second time frame. Those pilots, if they're very fast, can actually cloak-overload-MWD to give themselves the extra boost to speed they need to be able to warp immediately upon decloaking. I use this trick in my Occator when navigating lowsec.

    My personal technique is to move the camera so that I can double-click in space near the celestial I want to align to while keeping the mouse near my modules in the HUD. Then I hit the hotkey for my cloak (F1) while overloading the MWD with the mouse, then click its icon to activate it.

  4. Note that you can overheat with the keyboard, as well. If the cloak is F1 and the MWD is F2, you can do F1, Shift-F2, F2 for the same effect.

  5. I believe CCP recently changed so that drones can't decloak you anymore. So the swarm idea of assigning drones to a fast frigate doesn't work anymore.

  6. Hmm, that requires testing. I will do so when I get a chance, and perhaps update this. Thanks!