How Wormholes Work in EVE Online


Wormholes are a fascinating concept in real life theoretical physics and especially useful for solving distance issues in sci-fi settings, alongside warp drives, hyperdrives, jump/star-gates, etc. In EVE online, the game mechanics revolving around wormholes were introduced more than 10 years ago, in the Apocrypha Expansion (2009). The basic idea is that there is an entire separate “galaxy” comprised of approximately 2600 systems, that are accessible only through wormholes. These celestial entities act like “natural” star gates, which due to their shifting behavior provide an ever-changing random connection landscape within this wormhole galaxy, also called “j-space” (because every system name starts with a “J”), wspace or simply Anoikis.

Counter-intuitive to the above notions, EVE Online players have actually found a way to actually live in these systems.

There is a lot of room for excitement and opportunities here, but also for threats. J-space life is very different from other types of EVE gameplay options. It requires constant awareness of your surroundings through the use of the Directional Scanner, Cosmic Signature monitoring via the probe scanner, connection map maintenance and, the most important of them all, being a team-player!

In this article, you will learn a few of the basics about living in wormhole space!


Basic Safety Concerns

No local chat! But more window space, right?

One of the most important gameplay aspects that will shape your behavior is that the local chat does not constantly reflect who is actually in the j-system, in comparison with k-space. Wormhole space uses what is known as “delayed local”.
This means that the local chat list is not updated immediately as players come and go from the system. More specific, you will show up only when you write in local chat, according to the following rules:

  • People present in the system at the moment you wrote in local chat will see you for around 15min, whether you leave the system or not.
  • You will not appear anymore to people that jump out and back in .
  • You will not appear for new people jumping in after you spoke there.

!!! Never speak in local unless the enemy already knows who you are. Otherwise you would just be giving free intel !!!

Say “Hello!” to your newest shortcut spam: the D-scanner button

Unless you are scouting/hunting/fleet commanding, the majority of EVE players generally don’t often use the onboard directional scanner in k-space.
The lack of local chat in j-space means that the only chance you have to detect someone is through the use of your directional scanner, which can tell if anyone is uncloaked and less than 14 AU from you (with the exception of Combat Recon ships which are d-scan immune).

!!! Whenever undocked, you need to make constant D-scanning a priority. It will become a reflex, so spam that button like it’s your second nature !!!

Where’s the station with all my stuff?

Another very important aspect of wormhole living is that there is no asset safety here. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, you can find more details here.
A quick summary is this: if a station is destroyed in wormhole space, all your stuff will be ejected into a can in space, to either be picked up or simply be vaporized by the enemy.

In a similar manner as the ground zero rule for sanity conservation in EVE online that states: “never fly what you can’t afford to lose“, there is an extension/variation available for wormhole living (also in order to preserve sanity) : “whatever you bring in the hole, you should consider it already lost“.

In other words, don’t bring everything you own from k-space! Just seed your hangar with the ships and stuff you need in order to function. You can find more information about the mininum ships and skills you need in the “New Recruit” page.

Is there a doctor in here?

The quick answer would be “No!”. At least not a medical one. But a jump clone technician, if you view it like that.
In other words, medical clones are not available for use in w-space (except Thera). For this reason, you need to be aware of the following consequence: if you get podded, you will practically be ejected from w-space!

In terms of jump clone mechanics, with the exception of Thera, in regular wormhole space you can only clone-jump in the same structure! This offers the possibility to switch clones without cooldown!


Connection types

Each wormhole system has static connections. You will see the static connections and class type in pathfinder.

EVE Online Wormhole Static Connections
Static connections marked with red box

When a static wormhole closes, a new wormhole will spawn to a same class wormhole. For example if our C4 static wormhole closes we will get a new C4 wormhole to a random C4 class system.

In addition to static wormholes we may have additional holes that are either incoming static holes from other systems (which will be always designated as K162) or wandering holes (non-K162 wormholes that randomly spawn in our system). When these are closed they don’t re-spawn.


Polarization and You

When you go through a wormhole you will be polarized for 5 minutes. While polarized, you will not be able to jump through that wormhole in the same direction before the polarization ends. Both sides/directions of the wormhole are polarized separately.

It’s crucial to know your polarizations when in PvP combat. Not being able to jump through a wormhole because of the polarization can either get yourself killed or let the enemy escape.


Special wormhole systems

Alongside the standard C1-C6 wormhole systems, there are 2 more distinct categories of j-space systems. These are the shattered systems and the drifter systems.

Shattered systems

The name comes from one of their features, which is that the planets in such a system are all “shattered” (PI unavailable) and without moons (no POSes).

There are a total of 100 shattered systems (+Thera) divided into 2 groups : “Standard” and “Small Ship” (also known as C13 class). They share a pool of common features such as:

  • High number of J-space anomalies and signatures (sometimes 100+)
  • Only one Shattered Debris Field – a very rich ore anomaly containing high-yield asteroid types.
  • Only one Shattered Ice Field – a very rich ice mining anomaly (the only ice belt available in J-space)
  • Structure anchoring not permitted

The difference between the 2 groups can be seen in the table that follows:

Standard Shattered J-SystemsSmall Ship Shattered J-Systems
Number of systems7525
Class typeAny class (C1-C6)C13
J-system effectAny effect with
same class magnitude
C6 Wolf Rayet effect only
Combat anomaly/signature
difficulty
Same class, one class higher or one class lowerBetween C1 and C3
Wormhole connection
jump mass limits
Any typeSmall ship size only
Wormhole staticsInherent class statics
+1 K-space static
Nullsec static
+ 1 or 2 j-space statics
Wandering wormholes possible?YesNo

Besides all of the above characteristics, shattered wormholes possess landmarks that serve as lore beacons within the EVE universe.

Drifter systems

There are a total of 5 drifter systems, that are basically C2 shattered systems, but with a twist. Each of them features a different wormhole system effect (C2 magnitude) alongside 5 unique combat anomalies and a special Hive combat site.

The drifter systems are connected to w-space through a C2 static (D382) wormhole and don’t receive wandering wormholes. They also only have between 3 and 5 k-space connections, that behave differently from regular wormholes:

J-space sideK-space side
K162 wormhole typeUnique wormhole type
Deadspace pocket
(warp lands you 80km away from the wormhole)
“Unidentified Wormhole” beacon
(visible directly from the overview)

The k-space connections on both sides (and the Jove Observatories within the connected k-space systems) are frequently guarded by Drifters, which can be very dangerous!

The following table lists the system effects and k-space wormhole types associated with each of the 5 drifter systems. All k-space drifter wormholes have a 16h lifetime, permit large ship sizes and have a total jump mass of 750,000,000 kg (+/- 10%)

Drifter System NameWormhole typeJ-SystemSystem Effect
VidetteV928J164710Magnetar
RedoubtR259J174618Wolf-Rayet
SentinelS877J055520Red Giant
BarbicanB735J110145Cataclysmic Variable
ConfluxC414J200727Pulsar

Thera – the shattered k-space system

There is a solar system in EVE that occupies a special place in the wormhole hierarchy, and that is without a doubt Thera. The quickest description would be that it’s a shattered wormhole with a few known space features.

Shattered wormholeKnown space system
“Delayed” local chat
NPC stations
Regular medical/jump clone mechanics
No Citadels/POSes
-1.0 system security
Planetary Interaction unavailable
Increased connectivity to K-space

Thera’s increased connectivity translates into 9 k-space statics (3 null, 3 low, 3 highsec) , alongside a lot of other wandering and K162 connections. The final result is that Thera is inclined to be more connected to K-space than to W-space. Also worth mentioning that capital ships can’t be build in the NPC stations and aren’t allowed to enter Thera (with the exception of freighters).

Although Thera is mainly viewed as a big subcap pvp arena (342AU in diameter), it can also be a great shortcut nexus. In order to actually enter Thera from k-space, you can either scan down a wormhole entry for yourself or you can make use of a public shared bookmark folder, that is available in the “EVE-Scout” ingame channel. To find entry/exit systems, you can visit their website or you can use Pathfinder’s Thera module.

EVE-Scout is a group dedicated to scanning Thera connections and maintaining the bookmark folder for everyone to use. It’s a great EVE community effort and you might want to donate a few ISK in their way, if you ever find yourself going through Thera.
They are also the ones that maintain the EVE-Scout Rescue programs for capsuleers that find themselves stranded in a wormhole system.


Wormhole spawning

The mechanics and calculations surrounding the spawning behavior of wormholes is pretty much shrouded in mystery. In the graph below you will find a visual description of the only certified relations (CCP approved) that we have regarding wormhole spawn mechanics.
As of this point in time, it is unknown how long it takes before a wormhole signature (that nobody warped to) auto-opens. This is due to the fact that it’s virtually impossible to test and evaluate this, given that you can never have perfect information about who is actually present in the system and whether or not someone warped to a wormhole signature.

In the end, it is believed that wormhole signatures behave somewhat like any other signature/anomaly to which nobody warps to:

  • they don’t physically exist in the solar system
  • they only appear on the probe scanner window in order to be scanned
  • they will disappear after a set amount time (unknown for wormholes)