And now, an EVE term definition for the newer EVE players. You vets can move on to the next post.
In the modern EVE PvP battlefield, getting the other guy to engage your fleet is sometimes tricky. Catching a single or a small group of ships that are determined to avoid you is trickier still. To solve these problems, a lot of guys will resort to a tactic called the log-in trap.
The basic premise behind a log-in trap is to hide your fleet's numbers and location by having most or all of the fleet members log out of the game in a spot where it is known that the enemy might shortly appear. This will cause the fleet members to perform a log-off emergency warp one million kilometers from the point where they logged out. Then, right before the enemy appears in that spot, you have everyone log back in. As they are doing so, their ships will warp the one million kilometers back to their previous location, hopefully with one or more enemy ships in their midst when they land.
Log-in traps are almost universally regarded as a cheap tactic... but are they actively considered an exploit?
During one of the interstitial interviews on EVE TV between Fanfest sessions, CCP Guard and CCP Sunset interviewed one of the senior GMs. One of the things the GM said was that while they usually get to non-emergency petitions within a few days, at that particular moment in time, they were about two weeks behind. This made me smile because I was one of the ones waiting for a response to a petition.
About a month ago, a bunch of us in Rote Kapelle decided to take out an armor battleship gang. And we decided to take it into the heart of NC Reloaded space, right into NC-DOT, RaidenDOT, and Ev0ke's back yard. Yes, alcohol was a factor. ;-) Very surprisingly, we didn't get hot-dropped out of existence. Much less surprisingly, we did of course get blobbed out of existence. Don't drink and fly, kids. Anyway, we managed to extract a good portion of the fleet, and log them out in a couple of neighboring systems. Scouts were then dispatched to get them out later that evening. I was one of those affected.
Sure enough, very late that evening, I hooked up with a scout and we started for home. It took about two jumps before my battleship was being chased by seven ships. Five jumps further on, I was forced to log out a second time. I logged out for about a half-hour in a system with no stations and the scout left to pull other battleships out via another route. The scout then returned and reported that the system was empty save for one character in a neutral corp. I logged back in and instantly, the scout reported there were now eight people in system. The first of the hunters landed where I had logged out before I did.
This is a classic log-in trap. It also struck me as a really charming opportunity to petition the loss, just to see what CCP's script on this says these days.
So mechanically, that's the first common type of log-in trap: have a probe ship scan down a logging-out ship and warp to its emergency warp point. Then have the rest of the fleet warp to the same point. Have everyone log-out except the probe ship. Bring in a neutral alt and have the alt warp to a safe-spot. Then have the probe ship log out. Have the entire fleet log back into the game, but hold at the final character selection screen. Then wait. And wait. And wait. When and if the alt reports the prey has logged back in, everyone else logs in at once and there you go.
The second very common type of log-in trap is the gate trap. This one's more common in high-sec but also has a lot of utility against enemy roaming gangs in low- and null-sec. These gangs nearly always operate with a scout. In a pipe system, have an alt spot the scout coming in. A jump or two further on, have your fleet log out at the "in-gate": the gate the enemy fleet will have to jump through to pass through the pipe. Have the alt keep an eye on the gang's scout and eventually, the alt can follow the scout, inserting himself between the scout and the enemy gang. This will allow the alt to confirm the gang's numbers. When the enemy scout passes the in-gate where your gang is logged off, he'll report the system is empty and move on. When the scout reaches the out-gate in the pipe, have the gang log back in, almost certainly just in time to catch the enemy gang jumping into the now decidedly-not-empty system. The enemy fleet will scatter in a panic and you can score a number of easy kills.
Expect to get called a lot of names if you use log-in traps, but some people just don't care.
But is the tactic legal? Despite what you may be told, the answer is "yes", it is. Using a log-in trap is not an exploit, and while a GM will be sympathetic, CCP's official position on this is "logging into the game is not an exploit, and losses due to this tactic are not in and of themselves petitionable." Surprisingly, though, despite the arguments on-going about this tactic going back at least six years, CCP's GMs don't appear to have a "standard script" for responses to this sort of thing. You'd think there would be some sort of FAQ for frequent petitions, but if there is, I wasn't pointed to it...
So there you have it, guys: despite what anyone may tell you, CCP says log-in traps are a perfectly legitimate combat tactic.
Occasionally on Sundays, I will be defining a common EVE term for those who might not have heard it. If you have a suggestion for such a term, please drop it into the comments.