1. Introduction
2. What you will need
3. What to fly
4. The Setup: Finding a Target
5. The Execution
6. Scenarios
7. Conclusions
8. The Reversal
9. Closing Comments
10. Summary of terms

1. Introduction

This guide speaks about the process of "can flipping" in the MMORPG, EVE Online.

Can flipping is a practice executed in High Sec systems, whereby you move the contents of cargo containers used by miners who are jet can mining (see explanation in summary of terms), from their container into your own.  This use of game mechanics will flag you character as "red" to the target miner, allowing them to engage you in combat without the consequence of being attacked by CONCORD.  Once engaged in combat, you are free to retaliate without consequence as well.

Why would you do this?

Well, this is a method to engage players in PvP in High Sec regions.  This would either be to "encourage" them into combat, or to initiate a 1v1 fight.

For further information of the terms used in this article, please see the summary of terms at the end of the article

2. What you will need

To execute this practice, you will need:

  • A ship with guns and a warp scrambler
  • Patience
  • Imagination
  • A hint of "in character" ruthlessness

The last requirement, ruthlessness, is simply because this practice is often referred to as "griefing".  A term used to describe an activity that primarily serves the purpose of deliberately annoying or goading someone into an activity they do not want to participate in.  Two things to remember.  Firstly, this is a game.  Secondly, the beauty of EVE is that you can choose to play any role you like, and this should not be considered a direct indication of you RL character.  Though you will be told over and over again that it is by your victims :-)  The fact is, you are encouraging someone to attack you from stealing their hard earned ore, for the benefit of your gain - that being often one sided combat.  If you're fine with that in the context of the game, continue to read on.

3. What to fly

For the most part, you are most likely going to be in a frigate.  Certainly if you are new to the game as you'll mainly be targeting people of a similar level of training and most likely in frigates themselves.   If you can fly a frigate and can arm it with guns, you are able to overcome a miner in combat.

Should you be zooming around belts in a Battle Cruiser or Battle Ship flipping cans you are much less likely to get a fight, which is the desired outcome.

4. The Setup: Finding a target

So you have your ship, you've strapped on some guns and a warp scrambler, and you're fully prepared to ruin someone's day.  Miners can be found in belts, so you'll need to be zooming around looking for cargo containers.

Note: Lots of new characters to the game will choose a path of mining from the introduction tutorials. This will put them in a relatively weak ship, with no weapons, and actively encourage them into belts.  So a good place to look for targets, is new player starter systems.

Cargo containers are the item jettison when you eject your cargo load, and will remain open for you to access and continue to fill.   They will be in one of the following states:

  • A can YOU have jettison will appear WHITE.  This means you can access it, and should you be a member of a player corporation, your corp members will be able to also. 
  • A can ejected by SOMEONE ELSE will appear YELLOW to YOU.  This means that the can does not belong to you, though you are still able to access the contents.  Once you try to do so you will receive a warning that the action is considered stealing, and you will go "red" to the container owner (and their player corp if they are in one) for 15 minutes.  These are the ones we are looking for. 
  • Cans can also be found in BLUE, meaning that the player who owned it has abandoned it and ANYONE can access it without CONCORD reacting.

So ideally, what you are looking for when searching asteroid belts are players actively mining that have a yellow can belonging to them.  You can tell if the can belongs to them by right clicking on it and selecting show info.  The description will include an image of the pilot that owns the can which you can also click.  This should match the player mining.  If it does, check their employment history which will show his character age.  This is important should they warp off after you've stolen their ore, and then return to fight.  If the can does not match your target miner, identify the owner and determine their age - if possible also the ship they are flying if they are active in the local system.  If you stole from this can, that player would be eligible to attack you freely so you need to make sure that should they return to their can and find you flashing red to them, that you would be able to overcome them.

It's not only new players that make viable targets.  There's a lot you can tell from observing someone mining.  For example, if you see two distinct mining laser beams coming from their hull and you know (or can find out) that particular ship only has the capacity for two turret slots and no missile bays...well, they have no guns so no matter how long it takes as long as you have enough ammo you'll be able to wear them down.  Some exceptions might be ships that have a strong enough tank that you won't be able to break them, but you won't be killed trying so... go for it :-)

What can go wrong?

As describe above, if you don't take the time to view the can owner you could put yourself in a position where you have stolen from someone out of your target range, and they return... and kill you.

Additionally, be wary of players that are mining and have combat drones out.  Typically drones and frigates don't mix, and they might cause you problems.  If you do decide to run the flip on them, lock the target down and scramble them so they can't escape, then target the drones and work through them first.  Once they are done, if you are still alive you can take your time with their ship.

Further preparation

If you find a juicy looking target, or you've been here many times and the belt is usually bearing fruit, then you might consider making a "perch bookmark".  Basically, fly away from the belt (in the direction of another celestial is probably good practice) for approximately 200km.  Once at that range, make a bookmark and name it something along the lines of "Planet V Belt III - Perch" (belt details will be different of course).  The reason to do this will become apparent, but as long as you are over 150km away from a celestial object, you are able to warp to it.  In the context of can flipping, you could wait at this spot to see if the target tries to steal their ore back thinking you are too far away to reach them - when in fact you could warp there in seconds.  But,we're getting ahead of ourselves...

5. The Execution

So you've found a possible target in the belt, you've looked up his character info and determined you could overcome them if they want to fight, and they have nice yellow can next to them starting to get full of ore.  These are the steps you should now take:

  • Make a bookmark right next to the targets can.  We might end up using this later.
  • Jettison an item from your cargo (ammo, ore, anything), thus creating your own WHITE can (ensuring this is right next to their YELLOW can)
  • Open the targets can
  • Click "ok" to the warning informing you this is stealing.  Take note that the 15 minute aggression timer has started - you are now "red" to the target
  • Move the full contents of their YELLOW can to your WHITE can

Their can will now quietly explode, leaving only yours remaining.  Everything is set up now, you've got their ore/contents, now appear flashy red to your victim, and it's their turn to make a move...

6. Scenarios

The following are possible outcomes from your can flip:

  • Your victim will quite simply flee, considering their ore lost.  In this scenario the worst case is that you now have a load of ore to potentially sell :-)
  • Your victim will dock at a station.  This means either they are docking to wait out your aggression timer which serves the purpose that the theft is then over and perhaps you'll leave them to it.  Or, more hopefully, it means that they are swapping into a combat ship ready to take you on!
  • Your victim will stay at the scene, dumbfounded.  It's possible they do not understand what has happened, and may even open up a dialogue with you to ask the purpose of the theft.  This is your opportunity to "talk them into combat" (to be covered below).
  • Your victim attempts to take back their ore.  Big mistake, this flags them as "red" to you and you can start stripping them down with your guns.  All's fair in the eyes of the law.
  • Your victim may remain at the scene and call for back up.  As you are now "red" to their entire corp, they might be biding time while the cavalry arrives.  If you get the feeling that nothing has happened for too long, head to a safe spot or your perch bookmark.  From here you will be able to see if any other ships arrive on the scene and determine whether if they engaged you could take them. 
  • Your victim attacks!  This may initially be unexpected, particularly if they were happily mining and you didn't think they had any weapons onboard, but really this is the desired effect and most likely their setup is compromised from fitting at least some mining lasers.  Have at them and hope your research paid off.
  • Your victim warps off and comes back in a hauler.  This is one of those occasions where your perch will come in handy.  Warp off and keep an eye on the player.  If they suddenly go "red" to you get back there fast and try to catch them before they escape.  You could wait at the scene to see what they do, some players might attempt to take the ore back and hope they can slip you before you kill them, but for the most part expect them to be scared off and maybe keep warping off and returning.  Be patient, and try to snag them - their obviously desperate to get their stuff back!

Typically, the most likely outcomes will be: the victim attempts to loot their ore back, or that they leave to return in a combat ship.  Both are excellent results, but don't be fooled - a high percentage of "flips" will simply end in the victim leaving the scene never to return.

Talking your way INTO a fight

There are other ways to coax players into the actions you want them to take.  If they open up a dialogue with you and are not sure what's happening, use their naivity to convince them to take the ore back - perhaps offering the whole swap as a genuine mistake.  This is where you can be creative.

separately, there are additional methods aside from flipping that might achieve the same end and again you can show some imagination here too.  For example, you could run a play whereby you've found a miner in a belt, opened up a conversation with them, and informed them that you've got to log suddenly and have a cargo full of ore you don't have time to drop off.  Jet it out next to their can, and say it's all there's.  Bookmark the spot fast, then immediately warp off, closing the chat window - usually to a "thanks!".  Again, with a lot of this can flipping business it's a lottery whether they'll take the bait, but warp to a safe spot that's in scan range of the targets belt (not a perch, they'll see you), and make sure cargo containers are visible on your scanner output.  On your scanner you should see the belt, the target, and a container.  Keep mashing scan until you don't see a cargo container, then quickly warp back to your bookmark and hopefully find them there flashing red to you.  Attack.  Win.

7. Conclusions

Can flipping can be an amusing use of time, but be prepared to run many many attempts and ALWAYS keep track of your own cans that you're swapping into.  As long as they are in space and not abandoned, someone else looking for PvP in this fashion could steal your contents seeking aggression.  Be careful not to gleefully engage simply because they have gone "red" to you, make sure you do show info on them and determine the potential success of an engagement.  If everything looks good, then you just earnt yourself two separate fights from one can drop, well done.

Be prepared for your victim to convo you and either be upset that you tricked them or angry and trash talk you.  Remember, even though these are real people at the end of these in game characters, this is all well within the confines of game mechanics and your better knowledge of the system has afforded you a kill.  In these cases, you have earnt the abuse but be respectful, explain to them what steps they took to enable this scenario, and try to advise them how to be safer about it in the future.  This way, you get a kill, you helped someone become a stronger player, and perhaps you'll sleep better ;-)

8. The Reversal

I've included this as a step to consider if (a) you're not getting any luck can flipping, or (b) you fancy a change.

Essentially, you play the victim.  Here are the steps:

  • Fit up a combat ship and leave it in the station
  • Fit up a mining ship, and head to a belt
  • Begin mining and jettison your cargo to create a cargo container.  This will appear YELLOW to other players
  • Wait for someone to flip your can into theirs
  • Bookmark your location
  • Warp back to the station and swap into your combat ship
  • Warp back to your bookmark where hopefully your attacker remains (or if not, he may return when you do)
  • They will be "red" to you as he stole from your can, so teach him a lesson.  With guns!

Again, once you get flipped you'll need to check out the players ship type and age and determine whether you will get a good fight, and hopefully overcome them.  But this strategy has the benefit of YOU being able to make a call on the engagement.  With the standard method you're not sure what victim will do, fight or leave.  With the reversal method your target has already gone "red" to you, so now you can fight if you want or leave if he's stronger.

9. Closing comments

So there we have it, a complete guide to can flipping.  Hope you enjoyed it, and here's hoping your grab someone with tech II components that wasn't suitably prepared to defend themselves :-)  Good luck.

10. Summary of terms

  • Can - Cargo Container
  • Jet Can Mining - This practice is used to allow miners to extract ore from asteroid belts, without the need to make multiple trips back to a station to empty their hull.  You simply jettison your cargo into space, creating a can that you can access to store more ore.  This ore can then be hauled back to a station when convenient.
  • PvP - Simply means Player Vs Player.  It's a term to describe combat outside of the core material provided by the game developers as content (refered to as PvE or Player Vs Environment) and can be considered consensual or non-consensual in it's nature.  It is essentially combat directly between players.
  • CONCORD - The in-game NPC police (Non Player Characters).  They are abundant in high sec systems, and have some presence in low sec systems in the form of gate/station guns.  They are designed to "protect" players in high sec from other characters exploiting the security system and attacking other them without consent.  The punishment for attacking a player in high sec without reason is almost instant loss of your ship.  Designed such, that there is no way to survive it.
  • High Sec/Low Sec/Null Sec - High Security, Low Security, No security (Lawless Space) respectively.
  • 1v1 - 1 player Vs 1 player.  Essentially, a fight between two players only.
  • Being "red" - There are a few reasons you might appear red in the overview to other players, but for the sake of this guide you will appear red because you have stolen from them.  Being in this state means that the target player from whom you have stolen, can legally attack you without interference from CONCORD.
  • MMORPG - Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
  • RL - Real Life