Bubbles and Warping
The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of warping, warp core stabilizers (WCS) and warp disruption fields (Bubbles) for new players or students that have not ventured into 0.0 space. This article is intended to be a primer, rather than a definitive guide to all warp disruption mechanics, providing enough information to de-mystify the subject.
There are three requirements to enter warp: Speed, Direction, and Capacitor.
Speed: In order to enter warp, your ships must accelerate to 75% of its sub-warp speed. On the ship's speedometer (beneath the capacitor display) there are three small notches indicating 25%, 50% and 75% of maximum speed. For the purposes of warping, 'maximum speed' includes the effects of all propulsion modifiers, including microwarpdrive, afterburner, overdrive, nanofiber, and rig bonuses as well as stasis webifier penalties. MWD's and AB's do NOT help you enter warp faster, but getting webbed often does, as it lowers your sub-warp speed making it easier to achieve 75% of it.
Direction: In order to warp to an object your ship must turn to a heading within 5 degrees of the destination. Until you are aligned, your ship will not enter warp even if moving above the 75% speed requirement. A potential method of preventing a ship from warping is to continuously bump the ship out of alignment. This can be practiced by small agile ships against larger slower targets (i.e. a HAC against a battleship).
Note: If your ship is not moving at all, the time to turn towards the destination is nil. Your ship simply accelerates in the direction you attempt to warp in. Hence the time to enter warp is only the time it takes to accelerate to 75% of max velocity. The way your ship model is facing is irrelevant and has no effect on how long it takes your ship to align towards a destination. This is because EVE doesn't quite work like real life and treats your ship as a symmetric ball that can be easily pushed in any direction, no matter which direction the ship model faces on your screen (i.e. there is no such thing as passive alignment).
Capacitor: In order to enter warp, a ship must have some capacitor left. Any amount above zero will get you into warp. However, to reach your destination, especially if its far away, you may need a significant amount of capacitor (this is dependent on skills and ship size). If you don't have enough, you'll enter warp but only travel part of the distance.
Note: By purposely draining capacitor, a scout can warp part way to get within scan range of a distant gate. This way he or she can check it out while simultaneously avoiding getting into any camps/bubbles at the gate.
In summary: The time it takes to enter warp is determined by the time it takes to turn to a heading within 5 degrees of the destination plus the time it takes to accelerate to 75% of its sub-warp speed.
Disruptors, Scramblers and Warp Core Stabilizers (WCS)
Almost all ships have a base warp core strength of 1. If their warp core strength ever drops below 1, the ship cannot enter warp. There are three modules that alter a ships warp core strength.
Warp disruptor: The warp disruptor, also called a point, is an offensive module that reduces a target's warp core strength by 1 point. This single warp disruption point is enough to prevent most ships from entering warp. Tech 1 warp distuptor has range of 20 km, tech 2 hits a little bit further - to 24 km. Be aware that there are several ships in game that receive a bonus to range of warp disruptors and scramblers. These ships include several interceptors, Gallente recon ships and electronic attack frigate. When you successfully apply a warp disruptor on a target, it is appropriate to call "point on <target>" over Ventrilo.
Warp Scrambler: The warp scrambler, also called a scram, is similar to warp disruptor in that it can also destabilize the warp core of a target and prevent it from warping. Warp scramblers have a range of about 8-10km and reduce a target's warp core strength by 2 points. They also have an additional functionality - they can disable microwarpdrives. Disabling a ship's microwarpdrive is often essential in preventing that ship from flying away to escape. The difficulty with scrams is their short range. Approaching to 8-10km takes time and it also puts you within the scram and web range of your target. Again, be aware that several interceptors and Gallente recon ships as well as EAF get ship bonuses to scram range. When you successfully apply a warp scrambler on a target, its appropriate to call "scram on <target>" over voice comms.
Warp Core Stabilizers: The counter-measure to warp disruptors and scramblers are warp core stabilizers, also known as stabs or WCSs. Every WCS you fit to your ship increases your warp core strength by one. As such, if you have 2 WCS on your ship, your effective warp core strength would be 1 base + 1 WCS + 1 WCS = 3 in total. To prevent you from entering warp, it would take three warp disruptors or two scramblers.
Note: Transport ships (Impel, Bustard, Occator, and Mastodon) and Skiff exhumer have a base warp core strength of 3, enabling them to resist 2 points of warp disruption. The Blockade Runner ship class (Viator, Crane, Prowler, and Prorator) do not receive this bonus, but instead receive a bonus to allow them to fit Covops Cloak II and thus warp while cloaked.
Heavy Interdictors (HICs)
Heavy Interdictors, the scourge (or heros - depending on your perspective!) of low-sec, are commonly referred to as HICs. Aside from their ability to carry a bubble about with them (see below), HICs can be fitted with an 'infinite point' warp disruptor, rendering any number of WCS useless. Combined with fast locking times, a HIC is capable of stopping any ship, including super-capitals, from entering warp.
Bubbles are a cornerstone element of 0.0 warfare. A bubble is the common name for a warp disruption field, which is seen as a large shiny sphere of between 5km (t1 small) and 40km (t2 large) in radius. There are several devices and ships that can create bubbles, but the bubbles themselves have mostly identical attributes regardless of the type. Bubbles perform two functions: First, ships cannot initiate warp if they are inside the bubble. Second, ships warping to objects near bubbles can be 'sucked' away from their intended destination (a gate for example) and into the bubble. These attributes are used to cause confusion and delay a victim's ability to escape by warping away, allowing the aggressor the time required to destroy the trapped ships.
In order for a bubble to catch a ship by pulling it out of warp, the following criteria must be met:
- The bubble must have been deployed before the ship initiated warp.
- The bubble must be aligned with the point the ship is warping to. For example, if a ship is warping from one gate to another, in order to get caught by a bubble at the destination gate, that bubble needs to be lined up so a straight line drawn between the two gates would also pass through the bubble.
- The bubble needs to be on grid with the celestial, bookmark, can, wreck, or fleet member you warped to.
Important: These mechanics are subject to change. The mechanics have been changed a number of times in the past and may change again in the future.
For these reasons, a common trap is to locate a bubble around 50-70km in front of, or behind a gate - ensuring that anyone who warps to the gate at any distance will be pulled into the bubble. The main difference for placing the bubble behind the gate instead of in front is that the victim will then need to turn around, as well as 'drive' back to the gate to escape. (See picture below.)
Types of Bubble
Mobile Warp Disruptors
Mobile warp disruptors need to be anchored in space in order to activate. They can be carried in any ship's hold (assuming there's space - they are quite large) to the deployment location and recovered again for later use. They require varying levels of "Anchoring" and "Propulsion Jamming" skills to operate. They are quite hardy and take some significant effort to kill - but can be shot down by an enemy with time and willpower.
The effective range of small mobile warp disrupters is too short to be placed directly on a gate and capture pilots entering a system. For this reason they are typically placed in front of or behind gates to catch ships warping in.
Large mobile warp disrupters are often deployed centred on a jump gate so when a victim arrives in the system through the bubbled gate it must decloak inside the bubble. The ship won't be able to warp away until it has powered out of the bubble in the direction of a suitable warp destination, allowing time for the hostile forces to get warp disruptors and webs locked and activated. This is a classic form of gate camp.
Heavy Interdictors & Warp Disruption Field Generators
Heavy Interdictors (Onyx, Phobos, Broadsword and Devoter) can equip a Warp Disruption Field Generator. This clever device is a high-slot module which generates a warp disruption field around the ship without having to anchor anything. The bubble has a base radius of 16km for the T1 variant, or 19.2km for the T2; this range increases by 5% with each level of the Heavy Interdictor skill trained. Like other bubbles, it cannot be deployed in Empire space. Activating the warp disruption field has some unusual effects on the HIC. It reduces the ship's mass making it very agile, drastically reduces the Microwarp Drive and Afterburner speed bonus and prevents the Heavy Interdictor from receiving any remote support from his gang mates.
Interdictors & Warp Disruption Probes
The 'regular' interdictor is a tech 2 destroyer capable of fitting an Interdiction Sphere Launcher, which is a device used to deploy Warp Disruption Probes. When fired, these probes immediately create a warp disruption field with a 20km radius. The probes have a life of only two minutes, after which they explode with a distinctive pop. Training the Interdictor skill to higher levels allows the pilot to deploy probes in rapid succession, known as 'rolling bubbles', to continuously catch victims. The probe remains wherever it was deployed, as opposed to the Heavy Interdictor's warp field that is generated by a module on the ship itself. Regular interdictors have significant points of differentiation to heavy interdictors and both have distinctive useful roles on the battlefield.
Basic Evasion Techniques
The best way to deal with a bubble is to know its location before you encounter it. This means scouting valuable cargo, or slow ships, using ships that are capable of escaping should they go through a jump gate and find themselves in a bubble. The Covops frigates are the masters of this art. Using bookmarks to warp to a location on grid with a destination gate, but 200 to 300 kilometres away from the gate (and out of alignment from the previous gate) is another essential technique to avoiding being caught in a bubble when travelling. Of course this requires that the pilot already has bookmarks!
Finally, when travelling in unfamiliar or unbookmarked space, scanning gates before warping towards them allows pilots to determine whether there's a bubble on the gate. This is especially worth doing if there's a number of others in Local.
When warping into a bubble, a ship's warp is stopped at the edge of the bubble and its momentum carries it slightly inside. Light ships with low momentum won't penetrate far, and won't have far to fly in order to move back out of the warp disruption field. An alert interceptor pilot will be able to power out of a bubble and escape quickly, so long as he's quicker than the enemy's Energy Neutralizer or Stasis Web equipped ships. Larger ships will fall deeper into the bubble, take longer to turn and accelerate, and may be required to attempt to fight their way out. If the bubble is centred on the gate, it may be possible to power to the gate and jump through - but Detection and avoidance is far more important in ships of cruiser size and larger.
When jumping through a gate into a bubble, similar options apply. The size of the bubble will determine whether the quickest exit is outwards, or back towards the gate. The class of ship being flown dictates the options available to a large degree. Cloaks are certainly an option, although larger ships are very slow when cloaked and even a poorly skilled gang will be able to decloak a battleship that's caught in a bubble. Ships that can travel at speed while cloaked (Recon, Stealth Bombers and Covops) are far more likely to affect an escape, especially if fitted with an afterburner or microwarp drive - which can be engaged for a single cycle immediately before cloaking.
Bubble: Friendly name for less than friendly warp disruption field.
Bubble Up: Usually used by HICs, means the bubble's activated. Bubble down means deactivated.
Bubblecamp: Gate camp, or station camp, or any bunch of ships using a bubble to catch prey.
Bubbletrap: A bubble set up to trap people, usually by pulling them away from their intended warp destination.
Caught in a Bubble: Oops, I didn't scout this gate out first, now I'm about to get killed.
Dictor: Interdictor (Sabre, Flycatcher, Heretic, Eris)
Hictor, HIC: Heavy Interdictor (Onyx, Broadsword, Phobos, Devoter)
Pop a bubble: (Usually from an Interdictor) - Fire a warp disruption probe to create a bubble.
Holy [CENSORED] I'm [CENSORED] [CENSORED] by a [CENSORED]ing bubble!!!: Typical victim's reaction.