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Everything You Wanted to Know About Bubbles - But Were Afraid to Ask

By Miyamoto Isoruku

As the name implies, almost anything caught within a warp disruption field is prevented from warping.i There are three kinds of bubbles. The first comes from interdictors, which can periodically fire a warp disrupt probe that lasts for about two minutes. The second comes from HICtors, which can generate a bubble centered on their ship using their Warp Disruption Field Generator. Finally, players can anchor bubbles. Anchorable bubbles come in small, medium, and large sizes, each of which has an enhanced T2 variant. Anchorable bubbles can be locked and destroyed, although they tend to have a considerable amount of HP, and HICtor bubbles obviously shut off if the HICtor is destroyed, or if it is neuted dry. Interdictor bubbles are not lockable—they stay in space until their timer runs out.

One of the nastiest properties of bubbles is their ability to pull ships out of warp away from their intended destination. The way this works is somewhat complicated, and best explained with the aid of a diagram (see below). Essentially, if the line along which you warp (the warp vector) intersects with the bubble (i.e., if the line falls within the red part of the diagram), and your destination is within 100km of the bubble, you will drop out of warp at the edge of the bubble rather than your intended destination. Bubbles can also sometimes suck ships out of warp if they are further than 100km from the warp destination. If, however, your warp vector does not intersect with the bubble (i.e., if the line falls within the green part of the diagram), it will not have any effect on you—you will drop out of warp at your intended destination.

Safe and Unsafe Warp Vectors Through a Single Destination

Bubbles positioned to take advantage of this effect are known as suck bubbles, because they suck ships out of warp away from their intended destination. [I find this hilarious. I've always heard them called drag, sling, or draw bubbles. I would love to hear a TS conversation with lots of people talking about “suck bubbles” -ed] This has become especially common since CCP introduced the larger regional gates, as regional gates are too large to cover with a single bubble. They are typically used in nullsec gate camps to catch ships warping in to the camped gate from another gate (or station) in system. If you suspect a gate has a suck bubble, you should warp to a celestial object or a safespot away from any lines between your destination and other stargates or stations in system. Assuming you managed to pick a warp vector that did not intersect any bubbles, this should bring you out of warp safely at your destination.

There are a few other miscellaneous details about bubbles which are worth mentioning. First, bubble effects are calculated when you enter warp, not when you leave. This means that if a suck bubble will have no effect if it comes online while you are in warp. It also means that if your destination is bubbled while you are in warp, rather than coming out at the edge of the bubble, you will come out smack dab inside of it. This also allows some devilishly clever tactics with HICtors. If a HICtor moves towards a ship in warp with its bubble on, its prey will drop out of warp where the edge of the bubble was when it entered warp, rather than where the edge of the bubble is when it leaves warp. So, rather than dropping out just at the edge of the bubble, a pilot could find himself dropping out of warp several km inside the bubble.

So now that we've got a brief overview of how bubbles work, let's talk about some of the ways they can be used. On the alliance warfare level, massive numbers of bubbles are sometimes anchored around besieged POSes and stations, such as during GoonSwarm's crippling month-long camp of KenZoku in the PR- station during the opening phases of the Second Delve War earlier this year. Dictors and HICtors form an essential part of the support fleets in large capital engagements, trapping large fleets far more effectively than individual tackle could. On a smaller level, bubbles are an essential part of 0.0 gate camps. Although it is impractical for a roaming gang to carry enough bubbles to completely surround one of the larger regional gates, a single hictor or large bubble can cover a regular gate fairly easily. Furthermore, as noted earlier, it is fairly common for gate campers to use suck bubbles to capture traffic warping to the gate from within system.

Bubbles can also be used to slow hostile pursuers. A roaming nullsec gang that includes interdictors can have the dictor pilots drop suck bubbles behind the fleet to slow any pursuing gang. Often, dictors in roaming gangs will fit two warp disruption probe launchers so that they can bubble twice as often. Another important detail is that, since bubbles are not targeted weapons, they do not need to worry about targeting time. This means that HICtors and dictors make extremely effective initial tackle, as they can catch their target the instant they turn on or deploy their bubble, without having to lock it, making them ideal for catching jumpy ratters and targets bouncing between safe spots. This also means that HICtors and dictors can fit cloaking devices without compromising their effectiveness in their primary combat role.

This is only a small sample of the things a clever pilot can do with bubbles. They are among the most versatile tools in nullsec, and any aspiring 0.0 pilot would do well to learn not just how to avoid them, but how to use them.

i The only exception are T3 cruisers with the Interdiction Nullifiers Propulsion Subsystem, which can safely ignore bubbles. However, they are still vulnerable to regular points and the HICtor infinite point.


21 Feb 2013, 00:22
Fantastic review!
24 Sep 2014, 13:25
Just a heads up, the information on this is a bit out of date/incorrect. Warp disruption bubbles will sling you in from any distance on grid, as long as they are properly aligned. There is no 100km hard limit. I tested this out today.
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