Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday definition: Safe undock

And now, an EVE term definition for the newer EVE players.  You vets can move on to the next post.

For brand new EVE players, the physical characterisitcs of stations are rarely important except for how they look.  Each design has its "ooh" and "aah" factors.  My personal favorite is the Gallente hub-ring station design currently featured on the Retribution log-in screen.  But I'm sure you have your own favorite in terms of physical design.  They're all remarkably different, and each one physically appeals to different people.  However, sooner or later, you'll come to regard station design as important for reasons other than aesthetics.

When you move to low-sec or null-sec, or even earlier if you get involved in a high-sec war-dec, the docking properties of stations will become important.  In particular, you'll have to learn the difference between a station that is a "safe undock" and one that is a "kick-out".  The terms are descriptive of the station design and how it impacts ships that undock from that station.

Playing EVE, you'll quickly come to learn that your ship actually docks with a station when your displayed distance from the station drops to 0 meters.  However, most "warp-to"s of a station will place you at a range of between 0m and 2500m from the station.  If you are outside of the 0m "docking ring", then you'll have to maneuver your ship into position, or your ship will automatically move into docking range if you warped to it using the Dock button on the Selected Items dialogue or similar.  Similar mechanics operate when you undock from a station: you will nearly always undock within the 0m docking ring.  But your ship will undock at a speed about 50% greater than your ship's normal speed.  Eventually, this natural undocking speed, even as it slows to your ship's base speed, will carry you outside of the 0m docking ring.

If you can either bring your ship to a halt before this happens or you can dock at the station within the current 10 second session change timer after undocking, the station is called a safe undock.  If you cannot do either of these things, it is called a kick-out.  Obviously, this will vary somewhat based on base ship speed, and the maneuverability and inertia of a ship: fast ships like frigates will tend to drift out of docking range, as will ships with high inertia and low maneuveraiblity, like Rorquals.  But in general, a station that is called a safe undock is a safe undock for all types of ships.

The two most notorious types of safe undocks are the Caldari "administrative station" and the Gallente "station hub".  Both of these types of stations have enormous docking rings and these large docking rings extend in all three dimensions around the station.  In particular though, the undocks for these stations are reasonably centralized within the docking ring and as a result you have to travel a great distance to leave the docking ring, some 35km from the undock.  As a result, it is nearly impossible to leave docking range from these stations unless you directly choose to do so.

Conversely, the most notorious kick-out is the Minmatar "trade post".  Built as a central hub with extending arms in all directions, the undock extends further than any other projection on the X-axis.  As a result, most ship types will find themselves leaving docking radius within the ten second session change timer and will have too much inertia to stop themselves safely before drifting out of it.  That's the very definition of a kick-out and makes this type of station very dangerous to use in a hostile situation.

Safe undocks and kick-outs become important because (Clear Skies aside), there are no windows within the station for you to look out.  So if the current system is filled with hostiles -- either because you are in low-sec or null-sec, or because you're in the midst of a high-sec war-dec situation -- without "poking your nose outside", you're not going to have a clear picture of what you're facing in space.  This is where a safe undock station becomes critically important.  You can undock in a slower ship with relatively low inertia -- shield-tanking battleships are good -- and have a look outside.  The safest way is to immediately hit Ctrl-Space to kill your ship's velocity.  As long as you do not activate modules or take any other action other than stopping your ship, you'll have about 30 seconds of invulnerability to see what's outside the station, do a directional scan, and then safely dock up.

Meanwhile, if you're living in a kick-out, by the time you get your ship stopped, you may well be outside the 0m docking ring.  You will still have invulnerability, but the moment you take action or the invulnerability runs out, you won't be able to immediately dock back up.  Most often, the first action the hostiles will take will be to bump your ship further away from the docking ring.  This tactic doesn't work with safe undocks because of the large docking ring, but with a kick-out it's a relatively easy process.

Safe undocks are generally beloved for residents of them in low- and null-sec, and generally despised by those that don't live in that particular station.  A safe undock will allow a capital ship to undock and jump away if it chooses to without being tackled.  "Station games" involves a hostile ship with a large tank, usually a carrier or the like, undocking and then attacking hostiles outside the station or allowing themselves to be attacked outside the station.  This sort of thing is quite common in the larger safe undock stations because the pilot involved understands that it will be nearly impossible to bump him out of the docking ring.  Even those that bemoan station games, though, always choose safe undock stations to live in themselves for some reason...

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.


  1. That's some pretty useful infomation, and sheds some light why null groups perfer to use the spike gallente outpost as staging systems, those things have massive undocks and it's terribly difficult to catch a guy on one of those.

    On a related note, would it be possible to explain what kind of stations are good for lighting cynos at? I've heard people say to be extremely picky and careful when lighting cynos at a station/outpost for caps to be able to instantly dock and prevent bumping. Can you write a guide on that, or would comments suffice.

    1. When a capital ship jumps to a cyno, the center of the capital ship (i.e. where the bracket icon appears on it) is going to land at a randomly chosen spot that's 5km away from the cyno. There's two potential problems that can happen:

      First, if the cyno is positioned too close to the station, a capital might appear with part of its ship clipping into the station geometry... and it'll instantly bump off the station. This is horribly bad for two reasons:

      * The station has huge mass, so the capital is going to fly a very long distance. (50-70km isn't uncommon.)
      * Since you just jumped, you're going to be low on capacitor, so you probably won't have enough cap to jump right back out again -- unless you are 100% travelfit.

      Bumping into station with hostiles present generally means a dead capital, assuming said hostiles are competent.

      (This is pretty sensitive to the size of the capital, obviously. A cyno spot that's safe for a Chimera may be risky for an Archon, and suicide for a Nyx. Ideally you want to get a cyno spot that's safe for any capital.)

      The second type of fail is that the cyno is too far away from station, and part of the 5km radius ends up being outside of the station's dock range. If it appears out there, a capital would have to slowboat into dock range, taking fire the entire time and being at risk for tackling/bumping.

      Obviously, you shouldn't light a cyno on a kick-out station. But, even on a safe station, you have to pick a good cyno location. Nearly every station has a couple of good spots that will keep any incoming capitals at a safe non-bumping distance from the station, but still firmly within dock range.

    2. From what I have been told, the cyno has to be 3.5km away from the nearest part of the station model - but on some stations this point is still within the "0 m" docking radius (like on top-exiting Amarrian stations).

      Of course it's possible that I was trolled, so take this with a rock of salt.

  2. We prefer to live in a kick-out. Insta-undock bookmarks, and you can get out safely. Visitors who want to play station games? Not so much.

  3. Nice article but you could make it better by adding instadock and instant undock bookmarks.

    Instadock bms are withing the docking range of station. Instead of warping docking to station, you warp to the bookmark and spam dock/activate autopilot with the station as dest. Thus leaving no time for anyone to get on you.

    Instant undock bms are those that you can warp direcly after undocking. If the station is not bubled. Get a fast frigate with a mwd. Start travelling in the direction the station undocks. For better results, manualy aim at centerfirst since the station undocks with a 15 degrees variation. After you have left grid you can create the bookmark. The further the better. After undocking you can warp to that bm and your ship will enter warp in no time. Exept for evading dangers, this is also neat for undocking heavy ships(like orca, freighters) from populated stations like Jita 4-4. No bumps while trying to warp at another gate!

    I dont mean that you dont know them Jester but those 2 points are very helpful conserning stations. Hope i helped someone!

  4. Great post, I learnt a new thing, and quite important one.

  5. Require : station windows.

    I mean, come on! Some sort of aggregated info should be conveivable.

    Not a 360° panorama rendered in real-time. But some cool "radar" type render of the situation around undock should be within the parameters of TQ.

    How can it be handled by TQ ? Because it only needs to be compiled once, regardless of the number of people watching.

    What would it contain ? Maybe some sort of radar around undock. With overview type info about the ships and pilots. Maybe, too, which modules are active.

    And all that projected onto my captain's quarter's wall TV and the undock console.

    Maybe as an upgrade for FW and sov ?

  6. It would be an awesome appendix to this post if you could find images of all station types, and more specifically identify which ones are safe and which are not. You've explained the concept well enough for anyone to understand, but a new player will still have a hard time doing the research to know exactly where the concept applies.

  7. "docks with a station when your displayed distance from the station drops to 0 meters"

    Actually, I believe it is 500 meters.

    1. No, docking happens either at 0m or (more rarely, if you're going fast enough) if you will hit 0m in the next one second.

    2. This didn't sound right, so I just checked it in-game. Docking will happen instantly within 250m of a station, even if your speed is 0 and the ship you're flying couldn't accelerate fast enough to get to the station within one second.

  8. A station observation deck, with windows, would be entertaining.

    Is there any way to pop outside, run some d-scans, maybe even run some ship scans, hustle back into the station and then review the data I just collected? I feel like there is no reviewing of previous scan data available and pretty much nothing interesting available once you are docked.

    1. Ummm, I have seen mention of a utility that allows you to cut and paste your dscan results into another window and display them for an FC. Also, for ship scans and so on, try making screen shots. Undock in the safe dock station, lock on, scan ship, screen shot, rinse, repeat. Once your time is up, dock back and you can look at the screen shots all day long.

  9. I support the Idea of a U-Boat Periscope in your nifty "Walking in Stations"....Just imagine a Periscope descending from the ceiling and your character sitting there like Jurgen Prochnow in Das Boot looking out the station....

  10. Is there a list somewhere, preferably with pictures, of safe versus kick-out stations?

  11. i'd read this blog but it seems youre wrong about so much stuff now, its hardly worth my time to sift...

    1. You made this comment on the wrong blog post, mate.


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