Monday, September 30, 2013

Many Connections

Sunday.  The weekend.  The weekend in wspace is always exciting.  There is more activity in general, which means more sites moving around, and more potential for new wormhole connections.  Today has been no different.

Earlier, I logged on in the morning and flew to the old static.  I often just fly to our old wormhole bookmarks as a way to check if they are there or not, and if still there, their EOL and disruption status.  Lo and behold, it was there, even though I had thought it was due to be gone.  Not even EOL.  I have seen this before; very rarely a wormhole will be placed exactly where an older one was, so that the bookmark does not change.  I don't know why it happens; my suspicion is that it is something related to downtime.  Perhaps if a hole expires during downtime there is a bug?  Anyway, seeing as the wormhole was not EOL I transited it and looked.  New system.  Lots of sigs.  I searched it down.

Lowsec static.  This frustrated my plan to get some new stuff into my system from Jita.  Oh well.  There is a second C4 connected, though EOL.  I go in and quickly activate all its sites, and leave.

Throughout the day I am in and out of C3a and two connecting wormholes.  One is a C2: nobody home.  The C4 expires.  Some time after noon, a new C5 connection is made.  I go in to look; they appear to be Russian.  I guess I miss them, though; the system is quiet.  Still, this makes me not very keen to run sites in C3a.  At least not until bedtime in Russia.

I see a couple of explorers, coming from I am not sure where.  Perhaps the C2, though it has gone EOL.  I uncloak to try to kill a Buzzard at the wormhole to lowsec, but he is paying attention and exits.

My Jita alt needs to get up to wspace to move around PI goods.  So I fly him up in a frigate while sitting and watching nothing happen in C3a.  He makes it across lowsec no problem, enters, and -- while traversing from C3 to C4 -- sees a Proteus.  Uh oh.  He warps safely to our tower; the Proteus does not try to lock.  There is a new signature; I infer there is a new wormhole.  I bring in VK to look for it, and scan it down rapidly.  Then I warp to it at 20, to be safe.  There it is: dangerous wspace.  It's reddish, so that means C5.  Hmm, I doubt I'll win any fights with a C5 corp by myself.  Maybe I can ambush them, but then we don't connect anywhere useful.  I notice the wormhole is disrupted.  Hmm.  I am sitting thinking about what that might mean, when the wormhole noise happens.  A battleship comes through, and returns -- and the wormhole collapses.

Jita alt does his PI safely, and leaves.

Later, about 2:30, I think it's late enough in Russia.  So I go in and solo two gas sites in a Drake.  Then I salvage them in Venture (great light salvagers, these).  Nobody attacks me, and I have to leave the computer again.

Evening.  Once again there's a new sig in our system.  Again I find it, and warp to it.  It's a K162, and I think from the look of it, it's a C2.  I am excited: C2s with statics to C4 have highsec as their other connection.  So I go through to see.  Yes, says staticmapper, it is C2.  I don't see anything on dscan; just a few dead towers.  There is only one anom, an ore site, and just three sigs.  It should be easy to find the highsec exit.  So I fire probes and throw them out of the system, while I go to look around.  Warping to the outer planet, I dscan and I see a Venture and an Orca.  OK, that is nice.  Where are they?  There's a tower.  Are the ships occupied?  The planet has 16 moons, so I spin dscan around and quickly narrow it down to one.  Dscan shows only the Orca is there: the Venture must be out in space somewhere!  Target!!  I look around again, but it is not at the ore site and I cannot find it.  So I warp to the tower.  The Venture is there, and an Orca.  Both are manned.  I look at the Venture up close to see where it came from.  Hard to tell -- then I realize I can turn on the new Odyssey "show anoms in space" overlay.  I turn it on: the Venture is pointed directly away from the ore anom.  I must have caught the Venture just returning.  Maybe he will go back?  Or did he notice the wormhole via the black magic of the discovery scanner?

I alert Jayne.  The Orca is a sign that they may be going to try to collapse our connection.  (Although if this is so, why did they instantiate it in the first place?)  So, we prepare for that.  Jayne gets a couple stealth bombers ready to go, sitting at our side of the C2/C4 wormhole.  If the Orca comes through, we will jump on it.  It will go back through the hole, at which point it will be polarized; then we'll see what happens.  Right now it appears to be just two characters, probably one guy playing two alts.

We sit a while.  We sit some more.  Eventually the Venture moves.  It is headed out to... no.  It is going over to the ship maintenance array.  It hits it, bounces, turns around, and then stops.  And it sits.  And sits.  I assume it is going to refit -- maybe to a battleship?  For popping the hole?

No.  It refits to a Retriever.  OK... is he really stupid enough to mine?  The Orca is for fleet-boosting -- except that after Odyssey 1.1, that does not work.  Maybe he does not know that.  Now he sits some more.  We wait.

Sorta looked like this
Finally the Retriever moves.  He is aligning -- I have the camera right on him -- yes, aligning to the ore anom.  We laugh in anticipation.  Jayne swaps a stealth bomber for a dictor with bubbles; he wants a pod.  The Retriever pilot warps, and then I warp to 100km to the site right behind him.  I glide out of warp, and he is there about 70km from me.  I am unnervingly close to some asteroids, but not decloaked.  OK... I pull back the zoom and check out the geometry of our situation.  There is a monster asteroid which, together with the Retriever, is in close to a straight line with a nearby planet.  So, I bookmark the 'roid, warp the planet, and then warp back to the 'roid at what my eyeball asserts is 50km.  50km is just right; I drop out of warp about 12km from the retriever.  It has started mining on a tiny little asteroid.  I move in; Jayne is ready to go.  He crosses the wormhole (which is in dscan range of the ore) and warps to me.

I am still moving in.  I am waiting for any sign that the pilot has seen Jayne.  No sign.  I have been planning to orbit the Retriever, and I have to stop so that it won't decloak me, because I am that close.  Finally after what seems like forever, but is really just a few seconds, I see Jayne landing on grid.  I decloak, and wait for my target locking to recalibrate.  The retriever is caught and scrambled, and pounded.  I notice the warp bubble effect just before we kill him; Jayne has fired it.  Thus the pod is caught and helpless.  We lock and kill it.  Then I loot the wreck (the loot fairy was stingy), and get away, and cloak.

I forgot the corpse.  After consulting with dscan and seeing that nothing obvious is incoming, I move over and grab it.  Then I warp to the tower.  The Orca is gone.

Later, reflecting on the kill, it appears that the player was not really trying for operational security.  The retriever was cheap (though a procurer would have been better), and the pod had no implants at all.  And the pilot's history shows he's probably done this before: he's lost four Retrievers in his system this year, and a Venture, and two pods.  (And also some PI ships.)  Given the highsec access, and the fact that it is, after all, only four Retrievers (and one Venture), I guess the player just considers it a cost of business.  One wonders how much mining time he has gotten in unmolested per loss.

I scan down the system.  I find the highsec static and am eager to get logistics moving from Jita -- but no.  It's highsec, but in Solitude, which is across a long bridge of lowsec and 30 jumps to Jita.  No, thanks.

Our night whimpers out.  There is nothing to do at home, no pilots to hunt here, and the C3 has gone EOL.  Oh well, sometimes EVE is boring but it's all worth it.  Jayne heads to bed.  I go out into lowsec to explore.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rubicon Ruminations

Ruminations -- I am sure someone else has already thought of it for the alliteration.  But still, I have not seen what they wrote.  I have read, so far, only the leaked info on TMC, and then Ali Aras' article.  Go read that now.  Anyway, without further self-congratulatory ado: Von, what think you of EVE Rubicon?

First off: in general, I like it a lot.  It is nothing earthshaking, that is true.  But then I have only played for a year plus.  So I have never seen a really big change in any release, and I don't expect it.  (Y'all bittervets with your Apocrypha etc. are spoiled.)

To my mind, the biggest change in Rubicon is the easiest one for CCP to implement: the highsec POCO change.  That is going to have huge ramifications on highsec.  I am 100% for it.  Wherever CCP can create property, they should, because valuable property in the absence of law means armed conflict.  Armed conflict in EVE means ship explosions, and that is good.  Highsec is no exception.  Let the race commence to command the biggest and baddest highsec marauder gang!  My prediction: a few alliances will end up controlling all POCOs in highsec.  Perhaps even just one alliance.  As the already established sovereign of highsec, I am hoping it is James 315, though it might be the CFC or perhaps it will be some new alliance as-yet obscure.  (I'll have to think on this more and write an article.)

Now let's talk specific changes.

A lot of this stuff does not affect me much or at all.  The highsec POCOs for one; I live in wspace.  Also in the "does not affect me much" category: the POS-siphon deployable, the local cyno-jammer deployable, the warp acceleration change, and ship rebalancing.  Though I will probably consider training to marauders, that's a long time in my future.

Some of the changes might or might not affect me.  Lack of information applies: the interdictor changes are not known.

The "space yurt" might make exploring a bit easier.  My exploration Buzzard might use scanning parts to increase scanning speed.  Then refit only when needed with a codebreaker or relic analyzer, and cargo scanner.  It depends on how much time it takes to deploy and un-deploy the yurt, and also how much cargo space it takes up.

I just changed my mind on the POS-siphon.  Rereading what Aras wrote, it may be possible to steal not just mining as such but also from reactors: "it takes stuff out, whether that's reaction products or mined moongoo."  There is no moon-mining in wspace.  But I often see towers with reactors, although I have no idea if they are running or not because it has never been important.  It may be possible to steal from them.  If so, and depending on the rate of siphoning, I might want to use POS-siphons.  Open a system; look for towers.  If there is an active reactor going and nobody home, go back and grab one (or more?) siphons.  Fly back, anchor them.  Come back and pick them up 3 hours later.  Profit.

One final big question mark happens around the new Sisters of EVE faction ships.  Given that they can fit a stealth cloak, there will almost certainly be some use for them, either as a buzzard-replacement explorer or a stealthy hunter where you don't lose experience when things go wrong.  But lacking details, I cannot say for sure how big of a change they might be.  I would welcome an exploration ship with abilities in between a Tengu and Buzzard.  I would also welcome a cloaky hunter that can fire combat probes, but is not as costly to lose as a T3 or as pitiful in DPS as a Falcon.

Now here are the changes most likely to change my game.

First, the "auto-tractor" deployable.  Even with pretty short range, I'd use it to supplement a Noctis in wspace sleeper harvesting.  The auto-tractor gets deployed immediately and probably orbitted (I already use a jetcan as an anchor much of the time).  It sucks in at least all of the frigate wrecks.  Depending on its range, maybe many or most cruiser wrecks.  If its range is sufficient to grab most wrecks, then we might change from a Noctis to some other ship as our salvager.  Indeed it may be possible to salvage as we go.  I imagine a Drake with two salvager IIs and one salvaging rig.

Second, the rapid heavy missile launcher.  Currently my corp uses mostly cruise missiles for sleeper killing.  Cruise missiles are great against sleeper battleships, and (with "precision" T2 missiles) tolerable against sleeper cruisers.  Heavies are better against cruisers (I think), and needed against frigates.  So this will allow us to dispense with a Drake or Tengu that we keep there to kill off pesky frigates.  If the DPS is better for rapid heavies than cruise, we might end up going all heavies on our C3 fleet, since C3 sleepers tend to appear close to the warp-in.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We Gank a Hulk

It's evening, and that means EVE.  I log in, and things look nice in my system.  No incident wormholes, and our static is almost certainly uninstantiated.  We're zipped up and ready for action.  Not much to do though, just a barracks and some gas sucking.  That's OK.  I suck gas while waiting for corp to arrive.  Jayne shows; our alts and mains clean out the gas lickety-split. Then Timmay arrives, so we turn to the barracks.  That too falls rapidly.

It's still early, and now it is time to hunt.  What will C3a hold?  We must find out.  I get into Artemis, my cloakly Tengu, and launch probes.  I resolve it; then warp to it.  Jayne is already there in his Hound.  We dive into the wormhole.

On the other side, the view is clear from the wormhole.  There are six sigs and one ore anom.  I remember to bookmark the wormhole, then start warping around the system to see if there are any wrecks or obvious targets.  Unfortunately it is a large system and it will take three warps to see it all.  So: where I am, nobody, no tower.  Outer planet right: nothing.  Outer planet left: nothing.  Inner system: Hulk.  Aroo!  But probably at a tower though.  I dscan to find the tower.  I find the tower.

Hulk not at tower.  Hulk smash!

There is that one ore anom, so that's the obvious place for it.  And it is.  I announce on coms; Jayne tells Timmay to get in his bomber and come in.  I warp to the anom at 100.  There it is: a Hulk about 150km from me.  I make a perch for the guys, then I zoom out my view so I can see where stuff is.  There is a monster asteroid sitting 170km from me in the right direction.  I zoom back in and check the line; it appears to be clear.  So I warp in at 30, arriving at 15000m from the Hulk.  Strangely, it is neither mining nor moving.  Just sitting there.  Hmm.  I start towards it.

Meanwhile Tim is crossing the wormhole, and getting ready to warp.  I tell the guys to warp to me, since I am close enough for their warp disruptors.  I am at 10000km.

Is this an ambush?  The use of a Hulk says no: it's too expensive for bait.  It's just a clueless player.  But who uses a Hulk to mine solo?  It's ludicrous.  It seems too clueless.

Suddenly the Hulk moves.  I think the pilot has seen something on dscan (though in retrospect I am not sure what).  Or perhaps he noted the new signature from our wormhole via the evil magic of the discover scanner.  In any case, I think he is aligning.  I had been going to wait for the stealth bombers, because they are cheap and Artemis is not.  But now there's no time to wait.

I uncloak, and head at the Hulk.  I am slightly out of range of my scrambler right now, but I will have the range in a few seconds.  I start trying for the lock.  My decloak timer expires and I start locking.  I get the warp scrambler active, then the assault missiles.  Seconds pass, and I lock the Hulk.  My assault missiles start up.  Jayne has also uncloaked and locked him, so things go very fast.  (Timmay also got in on it, though I did not notice that.)

Boom, Hulk down.  Now we go for the pod, and surprisingly, lock that too.  (Timmay has a sebo.)  Pop.  We get our first pod as a small gang.

The verdict is now in: no trap, just clueless.  I swoop in and loot the wreck, getting 16m in various mining crystals, a strip miner, and other stuff.  Then I move away, cloak, and warp off to fire probes.  We look at the killmail: ugh.  An awful fit.

With the excitement over, I scan down the system.  There is one gas site.  Five of the six signatures are wormholes.  Ours, an EOL C4, two nullsec, the lowsec static.  Yo Ingvar, if you're reading this: before doing anything like that again, zip it up.

With no sites to run, and the evening yet young, we pop the wormhole to try again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shuttle's Bane

We have run a site in our system.  It's the only one, so we open our static and see what C3 system is there today.  I take in my cloaky Tengu... a tower, nothing happening.  Lowsec static.  I fire probes and start scanning.  A gas site.  Then another wormhole... I resolve it and warp to it.  "Dangerous unknown"... so, C4 or C5.  I viddy it, and it's C4.  (C4s are easy to tell from C5s.  They are yellowish and not reddish.)  Jayne warps to me in a bomber to go in and look.

He finds a totally clean system.  No anoms.  One sig.  Nobody home.  Oh well.  I am done in C3a, so I pop out into lowsec to get the entrance.  Guys might want in later.

All in all, dull dull dull.  Jayne says he's leaving.  We almost get off coms when... someone spots a new sig in our own home system.  Oooh.  Probably means wormhole.  We come back from C3, and get probes out.  Yes, it's a wormhole.  We get a cloaky on each wormhole, the C3 one and the new one, which turns out to be another dangerous (and clearly C5).  As I am sitting on the C3, I see a covert ops uncloak 55km from me, and fire core probes.  Well, no surprise is happening on either side.  He has probably seen several of our ships sitting at the POS.  We've seen him.  Still, we get the Onyx ready just in case.

Eventually, our guy on the C5 wormhole sees him leave.  We warp there but he is sure to be gone.  We enter C5a in a Falcon and then my Tengu.  The Falcon reports a large number of ships on dscan.  I dscan, and he is right.  Lots of rookie ships, shuttles, and ventures, with a sprinkling of other ships.  I spin around dscan, and quickly find them all at a POS at planet VI.  It has two moons, so I guess Moon #1, and warp to the wrong one.  Then the right one by elimination, and I can see.

All of the ships are empty, except one: a shuttle.  It's pilot Birdman, or something like that.  And, as I watch, I see a self-destruct message.  What is happening?  Boom.  Shuttle gone.  Pod.  He gets in a new shuttle, and I see another self-destruct message.  Then he cancels it.  But he starts again.  Is he trying to say Hi?

those poor shuttles!
He seems busy, so I warp around.  The system is otherwise empty of targets.  So I return to sit and watch.  The pilot blows up a few more shuttles.  Each one takes at least 2 minutes, and sometimes they are cancelled, or he sits in his pod for a while.  But he never does anything very interesting.

I call it a wrap on our night, and send the guys off.  We're getting nothing here.  I do my normal PI, all while sitting and watching.  The pilot seems to have wandered off; he's just sitting in his pod.  Now it's late for me, too, and I am ready to go. So I warp back to the wormhole home, cross, and log out.

What was he doing?  Only the Birdman knows.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Faction Surveillance

Normal operations today.  Reconnoitering the latest C3a to come my way.  Some Tengus at a tower, so maybe that would be interesting.  Meanwhile, I resolve the static and pop out into highsec to bookmark the highsec side.  And I see this:
Faction surveillance watching me cloak
 OK, I have never seen that before.  Faction surveillance ships sitting near a wormhole.

Notes on PI

Local PI Base
My corp moved into our current system some four months ago.  I blogged at the time some of my calculations on how to run low-work PI.  After that we set up our actual PI, and have been running it.  Having learned a few things (and taken some pictures), it's time to share.

First, what does my setup look like?  Well, there are two setups I use.  One is for "local" characters -- those who live where they can easily get to the PI system, to move stuff up and down to the customs offices.  In the case of wspace, "local" means in the same system.  Out in kspace, it might be up to a few jumps.

The second setup is for "remote" characters -- those who cannot just fly to the system whenever they want.  My Jita market alt does PI in my wspace system, but only flies up once per week or so.  The setup for remote is very similar to that of local, but it has a second launchpad.  

In both cases, there is an extractor that I place right next to the control center so that it is easy to find.  The extractor outputs to a storage.  The storage is drawn upon by 6 BIFs, which then output P1s to a launchpad.  It is possible with very high concentrations to put a 7th BIF in the gap in the middle of the design.  The launchpad outputs to three AIFs which are making P2 goods.  (These are shown at the bottom of the local base, in the lower right on the remote base.)  The AIFs route back to their adjacent launchpad.

Remote PI Base
To run the thing, you bring 34000 P1s every 12 days.  Place 17000 on the planet for the AIFs to use.  Let it run for 6 days.  Then put down the other 17000 (you must be local to do this), and let it run some more.  Every 12 days you have to come by in an Epithal and drop off more goods, and take away the goods created.

My system has some planets with very high concentrations of the resources I am extracting.  Others, not as high.  Also, on large planets links cost enough that you cannot get quite as much stuff, and our particular gas giants have mediocre concentrations of resources.  So, this means there is substantial mismatch between the rate at which we make some goods as versus other complementary goods.  We have addressed this in several ways. 

One way to get a bit more of a resource that has a low concentration is to remove one of the BIFs, and instead add an extra extractor head.  Each BIF can process up to 144000 P0s per day.  So, when you are getting below  720000 per day, you won't keep more than five busy.  Of course, if you are already running all 10 extractor heads, you cannot gain anything here.

A second way to deal with resource extraction rate mismatches is to import stuff.  P1s are pretty cheap, and given that we are running a fair amount of goods outbound anyway, there are return trips that we might as well fill up. 

A third way to deal with lower concentrations is to just extract more, using extra characters that we were not planning to do PI with.  Our worst planets still get about 650000 R0s per day.  The highest keep 6 BIFs busy -- so more than 864000 per day.  It does not take a lot of extra extraction to make up the amount.

All of the discussion above relates to the vast majority of planets, those which are extracting P0s and turning them into P1s and then P2s.  In addition, we also run a handful of "factory" planets where we make P3s.  There don't need to be a lot of these planets, but the size reduction for making P3s is considerable and thus well worth doing.  A factory planet can do some basic extraction and processing to make some P1s.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Almost Witness a Traffic Accident

It's evening, and I am alone in the house.  Let's see what's up in EVE wspace.  I log in, and there are two sigs in my system.  My corpie Jayne is on, scanning already.  So I sit around while I log on my market alt to mine ice in the Forge.

There are two sigs in our system.  Both are wormholes.  The C3 has numerous anoms and sigs, and a lowsec exit.  They appear to play on Euro time, so might be a good night to do PVE.  The other sig is a C5, which tends to be active on USA time.  Er, not so good.  They are not there now, though.

Jayne makes a few bookmarks, then he has to go for two hours.  I am left on by myself.  I want to get set up for some PVE later, so first things first, I pop the wormhole to C5.  This is a bit dicey at the end, as the error bars on the potential mass remaining were still pretty wide.  But I got it done.

With my rear secured, I get into my cloaky Tengu and head into C3a to start scanning.  Before running sites, you want to know where every live tower is, and every live wormhole.  Also, knowing the sites themselves is often worthwhile, in case a target happens to show up.  There are 11 sigs, and I start scanning.  Numerous gas, two relics (which I am keen to do after discovering that the minigames are easy in C3), one data, and two wormholes.

As I scan, I am warping around the system dscanning, looking for towers or targets.  There are none in the inner system, although there is one lost Hobgoblin I out in space somewhere.  In the outer system, though, I am excited to see 15 (!) ships.  That is until I look at their types: most are rookie ships.  Still, a few are not; a Noctis, a covert ops, a cruiser.  I expect they are sitting empty at a POS, but maybe a few are manned.  There are four moons, so I warp to #1 (not it), and dscan the others.  The POS is at moon #2.  I warp in, and have a look.  Too bad -- all of the ships are empty.  These people have a Ship Maintenance Array, so I have no idea why they have bothered to park little dinky ships out on the lawn.

I check out the wormholes next.  Both are lowsec.  One system has one guy in it, the other has several.  Neither have probes.  So they look pretty safe.  All in all, a pretty good system to run sites in.

Nothing to do but wait.  I consider running some sites by myself, but I don't really need the money that badly and so decide not to.  I figure there is some chance that someone will appear at the tower, so I should be ready.  I go back to the tower, and sit there cloaked.

Nothing is happening.  I dscan from time to time.  Usually nothing, but now I see a pod on dscan.  Huh?  Then he zips into the tower, and sits for a minute.  I watch him.  Maybe he will get a ship and do something.  But, no.  He warps back out towards the inner system.  I warp into the inner system, but he is gone.  Evidently logged in and left.  Well, what was that about?  Maybe he was doing PI?

Bored again.  Wife comes home, so I decide to go AFK for a while to say hi and act like a human being.

When I come back, there is a surprise.  There's a new wreck floating about 100km from me.  It's a Caldari industrial.  What happened here?  

The name of the wreck is "X's Badger II", so it is likely to have been owned by character X.  But I am sure I have just seen that name X -- and I have.  One of the rookie ships is named "X's Reaper".  Did X get ganked outside of his force field?  Why would he be out there?  He's not even near any POS modules; he is much further out.  I get info on the wreck, and sure enough, X was its last pilot.  I get info on X.  X has just, within the last day, joined a new corp.  His old corp is the owner of the POS.

So now I guess what happened.  It appears that X was trying to fly into the POS, perhaps to get his stuff.  Obviously he thought he was permitted to enter the force field, but he was not.  Not being in the corp, he was bounced out of the force field at high speed.  And not being in the corp, he was just another target that the POS was programmed to attack.  Evidently he got warp scrambled and blown up, before he could get away.

EVE never ceases to create the unexpected.

The wreck has lootses, and I wants it, oh yes precious.  But not in a Tengu -- too costly if I screw up and get killed by the tower.  I reship back home into a disposable Heron, and warp back to loot the wreck.  I hope there is something interesting on it, but no.  Just one part: a Cargo Expander I.  Whoopie.  The tower is trying to lock me, and one of the small lasers does.  100 shields down, I warp off.

Later, Jayne returns, and we run the two relics sites.  (Impressive number of wrecks in each one.)  He has to leave again, so I come back to salvage them semi-solo.  (My alt watches the POS.)  Nobody ganks me.  And then I return again in my exploration Buzzard to crack the cans.  50m each, for easy minigames.

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Which I Attempt to Construct a Position and Give Up

We popped our static wormhole last night.  We did it mostly to roll the wormhole, but since our system was zipped up, we figured we might as well take the opportunity to run the one anomaly that has spawned in our system in the last few days.  (We try to keep our system clean.)  So, we got out the expensive sleeper-killers, and blew away the site.

I warped off the site to get a probing ship ready to resolve the new wormhole.  Jayne brought in an Osprey to boost up everyone's shields for storage, and then fleetwarped everyone back home.  Oops.  Um, did anyone happen to bookmark the site?

No.  Well, we didn't want that ISK anyway.

Since the last time when I really wanted to get to a site which I had no way to get to, I have been stashing away personal bookmarks that are relatively distant from their nearby celestial and not in the direction of any other celestial.  The idea here is to get a set of points that would allow me to construct all game-accessible locations in my system.  I don't have total coverage even yet, but my coverage is very good.  So, I figured that now, with 100m ISK or so of loot and salvage on the line, I might try it.

The idea here is to get a set of bookmarks that, when viewed as vertices, define a convex polyhedron with the desired point on the interior.  You can then warp between any two vertices on an edge, making a new bookmark along that edge.  Consider the two new polyhedra which include the new vertex while removing one of the two vertices that it is on the line between.  The two combined contain the same volume as the original, and so one of them must necessarily include the desired grid.  So, determine which of the two it is, discard the superfluous point, and iterate.  Each time you do this, you cut down on the search volume.  If you do this long enough, you'll get on grid.
2D Analog to Search Geometry

Long story short, it's slow and very tedious.  I started out with my surrounding points on average maybe 5 AU from the site.  I got it down to about 1/10 AU or so, but that took about an hour.  So 50x reduction in search space per hour.  At that rate, to get the error down to grid size -- call it 200km -- it would take roughly another three hours.  And since wrecks only last two hours, it was pretty clear that the whole project was going to fail.  I gave up.

So, right now the process of constructing an arbitrary grid seems pretty hard.  I cannot do it in the timeframe of a wreck.

On the other hand, it does seem like I am not that far off.  If I could double the rate at which I refine the volume, I'd be fast enough.  Having written this up, I've been forced to think about the mathematics of what I was trying to do.  I've already gotten a better idea of what I should have been doing.  I was using perhaps 6 points; I now think a tetrahedron is superior.  And I was taking small slices off each iteration, whereas I now think that shooting for the midpoint would be faster even though it would often make it impossible to simply eyeball which polyhedron contains the target.  So, until next time a juicy site is lost in plain sight... I am going to keep adding to my corpus of points.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

C3 Relic Sites Considered Worth Doing

The other night, we opened our C3 static into a new system as normal.  When I went in for the first look, we found it was not quite normal: there was a Tengu wreck, as well as some sleeper wrecks on scan.  I looked at all the anoms and they were not there.  I figured that as is often the case in wspace, the wrecks were out of reach.  So after a look around for players (none visible), I deployed probes and started scanning.

The very last sig I scanned down was a relic site.  I don't recall why I thought to look at it, but dscanning showed that it is where the wrecks were.  I warped in; the wrecks were there (Tengu wreck included) as well as three sleeper battleships and  a cruiser.  I alerted my corpie Jayne, and then Real Life kicked in and I had to go AFK.

Jayne came in a Tengu and soloed the rest of the site, and salvaged while I was idle.  A nice little haul of 50m ISKies or so.  Then he took off, figuring the site would despawn.  We have known for a long time how difficult the relic and data sites in C4 are.  Relic sites are worth doing if the risk is not high, but even so take many minutes per can because the puzzles are very hard indeed.  The minigames feature 90/20 Firewalls, 60/40 Anti Virus nodes, and numerous Virus Suppressors and Restoration Nodes.  (Here's my tips on the minigame.)  Data sites are just as hard and the loot is just not valuable, so they are not worth it at all.  In a foreign system, with four incident wormholes, doing things solo seemed like a bad idea.

After I returned from AFK briefly, I warped to the site and it was still there.  The despawn trigger, at least for this one type of site, is not a ship.  You have to crack a can, or perhaps just try.  Since I was in my exploration Buzzard, I cargo-scanned the cans.  They seemed to have about the same type and amount of loot in them as C4 sites.  So, I figured they would be worth doing if we could get eyes on the local tower, and have someone dscanning regularly to see any probes before they resolved the relic site.

Later on, when we were both back, we put a cloaky at the tower and got cracking on the cans.  I figured that it would be a slog, just like in C4.  In C4 the games are so hard that it usually takes multiple tries, 3 or 4 on average, to complete them.  (Unlike in kspace, the cans don't blow up after two failures.)  But I was surprised: the C3 minigames were really easy.  Small board, 50/20 Firewalls, no Anti Virus except rarely when you click on a Data Cache.  No Virus Suppressors or Restoration Nodes at all.  So we tore through them, getting every game on the first try, often after only a minute of clicking.  About 90m ISK in loot, so very well worth doing.

With games this easy, I think even the data sites may be worth doing.  In any case, I'll at least be giving them another look.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zip It Up

That last post reminded me of something I have been meaning to post for a while.  We have, in the higher levels of wspace, an invaluable capacity for safe PVE.  That is to close off a system to almost all outside influence.  You do this by popping all wormholes entering or leaving that system.  I refer to doing this as "zipping up" the system.  Note that all wspace system will naturally zip themselves up, because their static (and any other incident wormholes) are always going poof via timing out.

It is certainly possible that there is someone already lurking in your zipped-up system, cloaked and waiting.  I have heard of hunters who do this.  However, in all my days of doing stuff in zipped up wspace, I have never had it happen to me.  I think that restricting one's hunting to a single system is just too boring for most pilots.

A zipped up system is not absolutely cut off from the rest of EVE.  Wormholes are dying and being regenerated elsewhere all the time.  But the rate of this happening is not very high; days can pass without a new wormhole showing up in my C4 system.   (My impression of rates is that C1s don't get that many incoming wormholes; C2 and C3 get more than C4; C5 and C6 get fewer but when they do get them, they are very likely to be happening as an intentional wormhole reroll from a group of pilots who know what they are doing and are very likely to want PVP.)

To be assured that you're not being sneaked up on, you should always keep the discovery scanner where you can see it.  You'll see a new signature almost as soon as it happen.  (This is a bad game mechanic.  Boo, CCP!)  If you ever see a new sig, and you are out and about doing stuff, that's your cue to hotfoot back to safety.  Get a scanner ship out and see what the new signature is.  If it is a wormhole, it is very likely that someone will come through.  Prepare yourself.  If it is not a wormhole (which is unlikely, but it does happen), no problem.  Get back out there and continue doing your thing.

The concept generalizes to sets of systems, although usually this means having to put a cloaked scout to watch an alien tower.

Want to mine in wspace?  Zip up your system.

Want to run sleeper sites?  Zip it up.

Want to do PI without having wandering monsters pounce?  Zip it up.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Overthinking an Ambush

Evening comes, the Boy is down, which means one thing.  EVE, eve, eve.  I log my market alt, and see what's up in the Forge -- OK, no ice to mine, boring that.  What about wspace?  I log in Von, and this looks boring too.  There is a new ore anom, to go with one old.  Whoopie.  And a new combat site, or maybe it is old.  Anyway, two combat anoms, which will be nice when a few corpmates show up.  We'll run 'em for cash.  Meanwhile, we have but one sig -- our static.  And I don't want to open it since we will want it closed in an hour or so anyway.  I scan it down and bookmark it.

Hmm, well, I suppose I could kill the sleepers in the new ore anom.  OK, I trigger both anoms, and now it's time to do something else for a while.

Back later, I run the ore anom in a Tengu.  And salvage.  Nothing much.  But at least now there is some ice in Otela.  So, I set the miner out there.  Then I read the web for a while.  Corpmates show up.  Now we are talking, figuratively and literally.  We get our small sleeper killer fleet together, and set off to smash.  We smash.  We loot.  We salvage.  About 200m ISKies, and it is time to think about joining the rest of the EVE universe.

I get in my cloaky Tengu, Artemis, and warp to our static wormhole.  I quickly transit it, and after dscanning shows nothing interesting, I move off the wormhole and fire combat probes.  I am tempted to start scanning right then, but I throw them out of the system.  Then I warp around the system looking for someone to play with.

As soon as I warp into the inner system, I can see there's a tower and there are some ships.  Likely at it.  There are two Retrievers, a Bestower, and Rorqual.  A narrow beam shows they are all four together near one of the planets.  I am considering what to do here.  Should I scan to find the tower?  Scanning is faster, but will give away my presence if they are (a) there and (b) paying attention.  But ships in a force field are useless to me.  Or I can go out there and use dscan to locate the tower, which in this case will take a while because there are a large number of moons.  As I ponder this, I note a bookmark... oh, I have been here before.  It's the tower I can see on dscan.  Well, OK then, problem solved.  I warp to it.

I fly up and, sure enough, there are ships here in the force field.  The good news: they are manned.  The bad news: they are in a force field.  And there is more bad news.  I look at them, using a nice tip I got off some dude at Penny's blog, and sure enough.  They are all three aligned in the cardinal direction, meaning that very likely they have all been idle for some time.  Ships idle for a long time tend to stay idle.  [Update: I searched down the tip, which was posted by BayneNothos, here.  Thanks BayneNothos.]

I tell the corpies this, and they decide to split.  I start scanning the system, figuring that these guys are not paying attention and I do want to know where stuff is.  There are just three sigs present, and I know one of them is my wormhole.  I find a distant wormhole, then I find a wormhole fairly close, when I realize: wait a second... math.

I see four ships on dscan.  I see three ships in the tower.  There is one retriever not accounted for!  Um... oops.  I throw the probes back out of the system.  Then I try to figure out where the Retriever is.  I look at each of three ore sites in the system.  Not at any of them.  Hmm, maybe another tower?  I look around but there is not one.  The retriever then warps into the tower. 

Rats.  Blew a potential ambush from not paying attention.  I assume the guy saw my probes.  If he has a clue, he won't be heading out again.

I fly to the two wormholes to see what they are.  The nearer one is the lowsec static, and the locals have put a warp bubble up at it.  The further one is a K162 from nullsec.  I suppose I can head out to null to do some exploring.

I decide to lurk a while more, just to see what these guys do.  Live pilots, even if in a force field are better than no pilots at all.  I warp back out to watch the tower.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear but... three ships.  Sure enough, one of the Retrievers is out in space.  Again I spin around the narrow beam of my dscan, and this time the first ore site I look at, which is just 2AU from me, there he is.  Can it be this easy?

I warp out.  He's about 120 from me, so I move away to get a good perch.  I cannot look at him  up close from so far, and it looks like he is just sitting idle in space.  That's odd.  There are asteroids all around him, including further along.  So now I have one 151 in about the right line.  Warping to 10 to it should put me in a great position to attack.

I think about it and I am spooked.  It looks too easy and I cannot see why he should be idly sitting there.  Not keen to lose another Tengu.  But I figure, my home is just one jump away.  I look at my wormhole, and -- nice! -- is it 16AU off.  This means I can transit it without being visible on dscan from here.  I can go home and get a stealth bomber.  That way, if it is a trap at least I don't lose too much.

I go home and get my Manticore.  Then I glide back into the system and warp to my perch in the ore anom.  The Retriever is still here.  I head in, warping to 10 from that asteroid.  I end up about 10km off the target.  From here I can see him fine, and I see that he is very close to a very small asteroid, mining it.  So I feel better on that score at least.  We'll soon find out if it is an ambush...

I start in, then I reconsider.  It is important to formulate your bug out plan before you get ambushed.  What's mine?  Er... well I will warp to that celestial.  OK, good enough.  I head in, setting an orbit for 2500m.  At about 4000m, I uncloak, and start locking.  I start getting systems going: warp disruptor, torpedoes, painter.  It all works as you'd expect.  My lock beats his attempt to warp out (if any).  The target is now helpless and my torpedoes pound into him.  Two volleys and he is in structure.  Three and kaboom.  I start locking the pod, but it warps clear.

I stare the wreck in surprise.  There is no loot.  What?  I dscan and there is nothing bad, so I go in just to make sure.  Sure enough.  No loot.  Loot fairy says: try again later.  Oh well.  I warp off, back to my wormhole, to reship.

I don't get lucky in nullsec, but I do find some sites.  Another 60m in various decryptors and salvage.  A nice night.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


There's a tempest in a teacup over the changes to TOS that CCP is attempting to ram past the players.  I have not read the various threadnaughts and such.  I have read a few opinions on it, and mostly share that of Poetic Stanziel and, I expect, many other sane voices.

Which is: EVE is a dark place.  Lying is a part of that.  Scamming is a part of that.  Impersonation is a part of that.  Now, scamming is not a part of my personal game.  I have never done it and never will, because I have few enough friends, and I am too nice.  Still, part of the attraction of EVE is just surviving in a tough place.  The question of trust is very interesting to me, and its solutions.  If you take away scams you take away the need for trust.  I am all for in-game player entities solving the problem (as Chribba does, and Taggart, and many other trusted groups).  I am also for that solution not being 100% perfect.  I am totally against CCP trying to solve it via the rules.

Now, that is just about directly in-game stuff.  What about out of game resources?  I think it is perfectly fine for people to attempt scams via setting up deceptive websites and other out of game resources.  But I do think that CCP has a point, narrowly, in that their EVE wiki should not be a domain for scammers to (ab)use.  But this is easily solved without breaking scamming: make the TOS include that impersonation or other spreading of untruth of concern on the wiki is forbidden.  And if this turns out to be unworkable, then (as Poetic suggests), disallow corp and/or personal pages on the wiki.

In other words, what we have here is a mosquito bite, and CCP is currently trying to solve it with a .44 magnum.  I'd suggest using mosquito netting.

What makes this funniest to me is that within EVE, we have a 100% perfect "read" on who someone is.  That is their name and their corp history, both available with literally a click or two.  So EVE players are already in a kumbaya sandbox, in a sense, compared to people in real life.  In real life, scammers can easily take the exact, literal name of a trust figure.  You can't do that in EVE.  In real life, someone can say they are a member of a trusted corporation by its exact, literal name.  You can't do that in EVE.

Of course, in EVE you can have odd characters in your name, which make it rather hard to distinguish from a real player name.  I.e., there is a (real) James 315, savior of highsec, and there are many imitators including James 3I5, with a very similar portrait, copied bio and whatnot.  (Personally I don't think that looking for similar looking letters is too much to ask.  But if this is really deemed a problem, then CCP can always program more complex substitutions into their already-existing check for character name collisions.  I.e., a name identical to another if you sub "I" for "1" is deemed not allowed.

Friday, September 13, 2013

EVE's Amazing AIs

Over the past decade, CCP has very quietly developed and deployed a powerful AI that simulates an EVE player.  This "playerlike AI", as it is called, was initially developed from earlier code which was designed to pilot NPC ships to give the EVE universe a more lived-in feel.  (Internally, it is still codenamed "Player-Like AI eXtensions".)  It was first deployed about 7 years ago in small numbers.  As it became successful, deployments increased.  New technology allowed CCP to increase deployments radically around the time of Quantum Rise, in November 2008.  Starting around that time, hundreds of these AIs were deployed per month for years.  CCP is not forthcoming with data, but it is estimated that currently perhaps 30% of the "players" playing at any given time are AIs.  This percentage may go as high as 50%.

The goal of the playerlike AI is simple: to fill up the EVE universe with highly realistic "players", so that the real, paying customers will feel like there are people out there they are interacting with.  CCP knows that shooting Guristas does not give people the rush of adrenaline from PVP, nor does prevailing in PVE feed the human need to dominate.  However, fighting the playerlike AI does activate these and other human emotions.  This is why CCP has not bothered to invest more than a pittance into increasing the realism and difficulty of the game's PVE.

The playerlike AI is very powerful.  It acts much like a person would, so much so that you cannot tell it apart from a human.  It is programmed to seek profits intelligently via various in-game activities, and to PVP (although often not well).  Sometimes it "cries" in local when it loses a ship.  It passes the Turing Test, at least when the test is limited to doing stuff via the EVE client in EVE.  Certainly it still does some pretty stupid things, but then so do humans, so this is no way to distinguish it.  In fact CCP sees its still considerable stupidity as a feature, so long as it is plausibly human-type stupidity.  An AI that never chose ridiculous fittings would eventually be detected.

AIs are programmed not to all be on at once, but rather to pad the existing player population proportionately.  They use offline time to compute their longer term plans, compute fittings, etc.

There is only one downside to the playerlike AI: computing human-equivalent output is hard.  Each AI requires a modern CPU dedicated to the task.  No basic PC will do: most of the heavy computation requires a modern graphics card as a coprocessor, for vectorized simulation of neural networks.  This is not cheap.  CCP estimated about a year ago that to run each instance of their AI requires about $500 in hardware costs upfront.  There are also ongoing costs to keep the hardware running.  Electricity costs are estimated at about 25 cents per day per machine.  And there are fairly high maintenance costs: a veritable army of techs are required to keep all those machines running.  Again, the actual amount CCP is paying is not known.

Fortunately, CCP has found a way to pass on the all of costs of the playerlike AI to random gamers on the internet.
Playerlike AI Extension

You see, what I've been talking about is the design of the PLEX system.  Everyone who plays this game paying with PLEX (as I do), is from CCP's perspective a superbly designed AI that they don't have to pay for.  We are part of the environment of EVE, making it the fun place it is for the paying customers.  We mine, do PI, run missions, manufacture, etc.  We do all of the game's scutwork to earn the ISK we need for PLEX.  This frees up the paying customers to not do that stuff, while still maintaining a true market price for everything, and keeping space full of targets.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hunting the Hunters

Our wormhole is closed.  We've just finished running and salvaging three C4 anoms, yielding perhaps 320m ISK worth of loot.  Now our system is clean.  Maybe we can find something interesting playing with other EVE players.  I reship from the PVE Tengu into my cloaky PVP Tengu, Artemis.  Then I warp to our wormhole, which we have already scanned down, and I enter C3a.

Nobody home.  It has a lowsec static.  But let's see what else we can find.  I launch probes and start scanning down the eight sigs.  Our wormhole; gas gas wormhole.  Then gas gas wormhole.  And two low-strength sigs.  Low strength sigs are usually relic or data sites, and these two are one of each.

One wormhole is the lowsec static.  The second wormhole is a K162 from a C1-3 system.  I eyeball it, trying to see what it is ala Penny's guide to wormhole colors, but I cannot be sure.  I go in.  It's a C2, with highsec static.  Well, highsec static is nice; if it is not too far from Jita we can run out a load of loot.  We've piled up a billion.  C2a has got a lot of towers, four sigs, and one ore anom.  I move away from the wormhole, launch probes, and cloak.  Then I scan my wormhole and ignore it, and then three more wormholes.  OK, these people keep their system really clean.  I admire a clean system.

I find a nullsec wormhole, then the highsec.  I pop out to see where it is: 12 jumps to Jita.  OK, fire up that Prowler with the loot!  The Prowler pilot starts her trek out while I wait for my 5 minutes of polarization to abate.  When she crosses from C3 into C2, she reports a stealth bomber uncloaking.  Of course it is hard to stop a blockade runner with just a bomber, and the Prowler cloaks and zooms off.  But we've still got three of us logged in and nothing much to do.  We decide to see if we can bait out the bomber.

I get an alt into an Epithal to be the bait.  My main reenters C2 in Artemis, and I cloak and warp to within range of the C3/C2 wormhole.  Jayne gets a dictor, and Timmay gets his interceptor.  The bait fleet flies from our C4 to C3, then to the C3/C2 hole and I pop through along with Timmay.  He holds cloak while I align (but don't warp).  Just a nice juicy target here Mr Stealth Bomber!  Come on, you know you want me dead!

Nothing happens.  Oh well.  We go back through the wormhole, and return to base.  Meanwhile, I poke around in Artemis in the C2.  I spot a Loki on dscan, then nothing, and then again.  It appears there is another cloaky sneaking around in here.

I go to see what the last wormhole is.  It is "dangerous" wspace, and eyeballing it I am pretty sure it must be C5.  (C4 is fairly distinctive, whereas C5 is not particularly, but since it is only one of them, it's C5.)  I pop through and I am right!  Huzzah.  I poke around the C5 a bit but nobody is home here.  Then I reenter C2a.  Again I see Loki on dscan briefly.  Of course I report this.

I remain in C2a and I see another glimpse of a ship on dscan.  We get a bit nervous for our Prowler pilot.  She has handed off the loot at Jita and is coming back.  We'll escort her back up the wormhole chain.  Jayne gets in a PVP Drake, and Timmay gets a stealth bomber.  We figure between these ships and Artemis, we can take on a Loki and possibly also a stealth bomber.

The prowler has arrived in the highsec border system.  If she gets jumped entering C2a, she can just back out into highsec.  I am positioned close to the C3/C2 wormhole in Artemis.  Now Jayne and Timmay head downchain, and warp to the other side of C3/C2.  When they get there, a Loki uncloaks and start hitting Jayne.  And then a stealth bomber.

OK, fight time!  I am happy to maybe help kill a Loki.  I transit the wormhole as fast as it allows.  I lock the enemy and start in with the assault missiles and warp disruption.

More ships appear on grid.  Tengu, Tengu, Loki, Proteus, Phobos...  and more.  Crap.  Everyone try to get out now.  I start aligning to ... what?  Who cares, our C4 wormhole.  A bubble is up.  OK, microwarp for the edge.  I speed up.  Corpies are saying something but I am not really hearing it.  I get close to the edge.  Warp disrupted.  I out of the bubble; I try to warp.  Does not work.  I align, lock the tackler, and fire.  (Turns out I killed him, though I did not notice it at the time.)  A new bubble is up with me in it.  I try microwarp again, I speed up.  Now I am taking damage.  The enemy is almost through the shields.  I am near the edge of the bubble.  I try one last time.  No, warp scrambled again.  Last shields, then very quickly armor/hull/dead.  I try to warp the pod but no, evidently still in a bubble.

I "gf" into local, although it was not good fight for me.  Not hugely for them either, considering that had us 10 to 3 but still let our Drake escape.  Still, the ambush was nicely done so good on that.  One enemy "gf"s me back.  The enemy gathers round.  Everyone wants to whore.  Then they pod me.  Back to Jita I go, 400m and one skill level poorer.  Ouch.

Lessons learned: (1) Have a bigger gang.  I cannot really do this one, but it's the most salient fact of their beating us.  (2) Don't fight on a wormhole unless you've got a scout on the other side, dscanning.  (3) Keep in mind your bugout a bit better.  I should have tried to escape through the wormhole, but I just was not thinking straight with the excitement.  (4) Fly better.  I almost escaped a few times, and might have if I had done a few things better like engaging the enemy tackle sooner, or overheating my microwarp.  (5) Get a better escaping ship than Artemis mark III.

One other thing I might do is get FRAPS and record my engagements.  As it is, I missed probably 95% of what happened in the fight.  I was in the "tactical tunnel", as we used to call it back in the day.  I got a kill and did not even know it.  Timmay got killed but got his pod out; Jayne escaped in the Drake somehow.  I am not even completely sure the enemy came through the wormhole.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

An Unexpected Salvager

I am out late in real life, but I always come back to EVE, like a dog to... nevermind.  Anyway, let's see what wspace has for me tonight.  Oh.  Gotta update the client.  Ho, hum.  Twiddle, twiddle.

All right.  My system is quiet.  There's just two sigs, one of them a gas site already known.  So, nothing much to do at home.  I'll mine gas as a last resort or while waiting for others to show, but I don't expect anyone else on tonight.  What's our static wormhole have?  I jump in Artemis, my cloaky Tengu, and scan it down -- probing interface is acting funny.  CCP.

OK, into C3a I go.  Dscan first thing, and I see sleeper wrecks!  Nothing else though, not even an active tower.  Well, where there are wrecks there are salvagers.  Unless...  So, let's see if we can find those wrecks.  I dscan a narrow beam at every anom in range.  Nothing.  I also try to look at sigs just in case, but I cannot tell anything.  Sigs seem to have been changed in a patch and are not showing the way they did when Odyssey was first released.  Well, those wrecks are out of reach.  Unless a salvager shows up; then I might be able to scan him.

I warp to a random celestial and fire combat probes, and throw them out of the system.  OK, they are ready in case I need them.

It's a large system.  A salvager might be near the outer planet.  Or might be nearby somewhere refitting.  Let's check the outer system first.  I look at bookmarks, and I have a tower bookmarked out there from some time in the past when I visited this system.  OK, that looks good.  I warp to the bookmark at 100... and the tower is still there.  Also a few ships.  And some manned!  Looks good.  I dscan... and see two Tengus, and sleeper wrecks.  Ah, Tengus, the universal ship of sleeper-killing.  Where are they?  I cast about the dscanner, and sure enough, they are in a local anom.  I quickly bookmark it, and then all the other anoms just in case.  Then I warp to the site at 100.  I'll see what they are up to. 

The Tengus are there killing sleepers as I expected.  I did not expect them to be collecting blue loot, but that is what they are doing.  Could this explain the other site?  These guys don't know about melted nanoribbons?  Or else they just think it is too dangerous?  Well, it's dangerous to run sites too, but I am not going to try to kill the Tengus.  Artemis does maybe 300 DPS, which is not really enough to challenge two Tengus.  I figure a salvager will come.  I start making a perch.  Or maybe someone else will jump them -- that would be exciting.

Eventually the Tengus finish the site.  Then one warps as the other painfully slowboats to the last wreck and loots it.  Then it also warps off.  They don't go off dscan, which means they are probably at the tower.  I warp over, and sure enough.  There they are.  What are they doing?  Just sitting there.   I watch.  Surely one will get a Noctis?

No.  One of them finally gets in a Buzzard, and warps off towards the inner system.  I think they must have finally noticed the new signature in their system (made by my wormhole).  So this seems reasonable, if very much belated.  Probes are launched, and I settle in for some boredom.  I don't know what they will do when they discover the new connection, but it probably is not bring out their Noctis.  On the other hand, who knows?  People do some crazy stuff.

10 minutes pass.  The Buzzard reappears in the tower.  OK.  Then, strangely, it warps out again.  Huh?  I watch on dscan, expecting it to disappear.  But it does not disappear.  It stays appeared.  After a little while, I wonder if maybe it is out at the old anom site.  I point dscan there and sure enough: there it is.  What is going on?

I warp out to my perch to look.  I am too far to zoom in, but the Buzzard is very close to a wreck.  Is this guy salvaging in a Buzzard?  Looks like it... OK, his wreck is too close for me to warp to, but there is another close to the same direction which is at 150+, so I warp to that one at 20.  This brings me within 10 of the Buzzard.  Yes he is definitely salvaging.

Just as I determine that, and then resolve to head for him and kill him, he succeeds in salvage.  I wait to let him move to the next wreck.  But he does not.  He fires probes and cloaks.  OK, what to do?  I could move at the probes... but then he recalls them.  (Or maybe scans far from me, anyway, they disappear from dscan.)  Now I am not sure exactly where he was.  I could try to uncloak him... but no, that's stupid.  If he wants wrecks, he wants wrecks, and will eventually uncloak and take another bite of the apple.

I wait.

Then, yes, he shows up near another wreck, and starts salvaging it.  Go time.  I head straight at him, figuring to bump him and perhaps slow his time into warp a second or whatever.  At about 3000m, I uncloak, and wait out the timer, and start locking.  I get my warp disruptor ready.  And my assault missiles.  Will he warp in time?  He does not.  I lock, he's disrupted, and my missiles start hitting.

A Falcon uncloaks 50km off.  Uh oh... but too late.  Blam, the Buzzard blows up.  I try to lock the pod but it warps clear.  Then the Falcon's jammers hit and I am jammed.  I consider fleeing, but decide to keep dscan going and go for the loot.  I loot, then casually turn -- still jammed -- and warp out.  Back to the tower, of course.

I arrive at the tower, or 70 km off, to watch.  What will they do?  Send another ship?  No, they don't.  The pod is there and it just sits for a while.  Then it turns into a Tengu and logs off.  The other ships do likewise.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Scorpion Lost, A Kyrie, and a Soap Bubble Bestower

We start the night off with a failure.  We decide to pop one of the three wormholes incident in our system, the one to C2.  Orca in/out.  Scorpion in/out, and we get half mass.  Then we wait, and do a another set of passes.  But we miscalculate somehow.  The Scorpion's second pass outward pops the hole, leaving it on the other side.  What the...?  Oooops.  Well, nobody's home there, and the scorp has a probe launcher just for this. Fortunately the C2 has a highsec static in addition to its C4.  Jayne starts scanning out.

Meanwhile I get in Artemis, my cloaky Tengu, and run through C4a to C3b and start searching it.  It has a lowsec static, which I find.  6 hops to Jita, which is kind of nice.  But three hops of that are lowsec.  It will probably do in a pinch.  But I hope for better.  Jayne has scanned out by now, getting the static as his very last sig.  17 jumps to Jita.  He starts warping, lacking better destination.

I ignore some gas, then resolve two more wormholes.  One's a highsec.  Huzzah.  It comes out somewhere in Amarr space, which is only 10 hops from where Jayne is.  Double huzzah.  Jayne sets course and in due time gets back in.

The unexpected has set us back on time.  Still, lacking alien pilots to engage, we have several options for PVE tonight.  We have two anoms in our system that we need to run, because they are getting old.  We have our static connection to C3a, which is unoccupied save three dead towers.  It has only its lowsec static, so it would probably be pretty safe.  And we have C4a, a C4 system with many sites including some Frontier Barracks.  (Yes, I've already activated all of them.)  It has a tower to watch, as well as its connection to C3b.  We'd be stretched thin.  Fortunately, just about at this point another corpmate logs in.  Now we have the manpower to run C4b and be relatively safe.

We start discussing doing sites in C4b.  I am sitting there watching the tower.  Before we can finish deciding where to run sites, what's this?  Three Golems log in together, at the tower.

I relay this info to my mates and all thought of PVE vanishes.  Instead we start considering if we can take three Golems, assuming they start running sites.  I quickly bookmark every anom in C4a, starting with the Barracks.  We wait a minute as they do nothing.  Then two more Ravens log in.  This is looking a bit much for three of us.  Still, let's see what they do.  Maybe we can at least gank a Noctis under their noses.

One of the Ravens reships into a Buzzard, and warps off.  Leaving the system or scanning?  I watch dscan.  Probes.  Scanning it is.  He may resolve our wormhole connection and jump in to see what is there.  We get ready for that, with a dictor and an interceptor to try to decloak him.  Ganking a Buzzard isn't much as PVP goes, but we are pretty green and we'll take what we can get.  Now we do what hunters have to do a lot of: wait.  These guys evidently don't probe too good.  There are just four sigs, which any competent prober in a Buzzard should be able to get in a few minutes.  After about 5, the probes disappear, and we start getting hopeful.  Then they reappear.  Oh well.

I move to watch the C4->C4 wormhole, to try to give as much warning to the other side so we can get a dictor bubble off in time.  I keep the tower in a narrow dscan beam so I can see both locations, alternating narrow beam to see what is at the tower with 360 degrees to watch the probes.  Eventually the probes vanish.  Well, now's the time.  Here, buzzard buzzard buzzard.

It does not come.  Instead a Raven disappears and a Kyrie appears.  WTF?  A "Kyrie"?  Oh, it's one of the Industrials just-renamed in Odyssey 1.1.  A "Kyrie" is the new name for what was formerly a Badger Mark II.  This is good: it looks like some planet gooing is planned.  (Or a supply run.)  Via the magic of tight-beam dscan, I see the Kyrie has left the tower!

I warp back to the tower, to get eyes on.  Jayne goes to reship into his Hound.  (Our third guy has no cloaky in wspace, so he gets to watch our side of our wormhole. Dude, get that thing up here!)  Jayne transitions the wormhole hoping not to be seen.  Now I try to figure out where the Kyrie went.  Before I can do that, he returns to the tower.  I watch eagerly... and he logs out.

Rats.  Did they see the Hound?  Well, let's see what they do.  Before I get too disappointed, one of the Golems turns into an industrial I recognize as such, a Bestower.  I can't imagine they'd do that unless they did not see Jayne.  OK.  This time, we are in position.

I want to see what the Bestower is doing, so I use the Look At function to zoom in on it.  This is sweet.  I can see it perfectly.  Not moving.  Then, it moves, and starts to align.  You can move around the camera when Looking At things, so I twist the view around "behind" the Bestower and I can see exactly where it is aligning: Planet V without a doubt.  I tell Jayne this and he throws it into warp.  The Bestower warps.  I decide a bit belatedly to whore, and I also warp to planet V.  (I lose a valuable moment picking out the right POCO on my overview -- don't do that next time.)

As I warp, Jayne is saying that the Bestower is there.  So I uncloak and start getting ready to lock.  Jayne is too far from the enemy for his warp scrambler to work and says that; I start locking when suddenly, no target.  Huh?  Jayne has ganked the enemy in a single volley.  (Third WTF moment of the night.)  Now we both try to lock the pod, but neither of us is sensor boosted and we both fail.  It warps back to the tower, followed closely by me, cloaked.  Jayne grabs the loot: two Cargo Expander IIs for us! 

Now I sit and watch the tower some more.  We want to see what, if anything, they will do.  Nothing right now.  We examine the killmail: well, we know why the thing died so fast.  The Bestower was not fitted with anything except cargo expanders and cargo optimization rigs.  No shield extenders or hardeners, no damage control, no warp core stabilizers. Guys: get an Epithal!

They sit around for a while, then gradually all of them log out.  Except one, who gets into a Tengu.  We are briefly excited again: maybe he has the notion to do unto us!  But, no.  The Tengu sits doing nothing.
Sepsis Morsil exacts vengeance upon me
We run the two barracks in our system anyway, with me sitting there watching the Tengu and dscanning for a boring half hour.  It does not move the entire time.

Industrial Fits for Odyssey 1.1

People have been searching for Epithal fits and hitting my recent post about that.  I posted that last week, before Odyssey 1.1, and I used the ship stats that I got out of CCP Rise's forum post.  Now that I have the latest update to EFT, I can look at the Epithal and the other new special-purpose industrials using the actual numbers.  (Or at least, the numbers that EFT uses, and it is never wrong.)

It turns out that the Epithal stats I used last week were wrong: they were too low.  The actual stats, particularly powergrid, are a bit higher than I had assumed. This allows even a moderately skilled pilot to fit a large shield extender (two on the Hoarder!).  So, I'll have to revise the Epithal fit.  But since the other new transports are there too, and they are all pretty similar, I worked out similar fits for all of them: Epithal, Hoarder, Kyros, and Miasmos.

What do you want in such a fit?  I discussed that last time:

  1. Good at carrying stuff (particular types of goods in these cases)
  2. Have a decent defense.  In wspace: +3 warp core stab, elsewhere probably +2 warp core stab.  And enough hitpoints to withstand a ganker's fire for the ~15 seconds to get into warp.
  3. Be cheap, cheap cheap

So, here are some fits that are my best attempts to optimize the parameters above.  Note that in all cases, we get #1 for free, without requiring any slots at all.  So, the tradeoffs I am making are all about #2 and #3.  Generally, a solo ganker is unlikely to have more than 700 DPS, so taking 15 seconds of such fire requires 10500 EHP of omnitank.  That's the minimum I would want.  In highsec, you may have to take as much as 26 seconds of fire from a Catalyst ganker in a 0.5 system; that's 18200 (of hybrid weapon damage).  All of these designs take that, too, except the Kyros which falls just short.

As for cheapness, I use all tech-I stuff to hold down costs, except for tech-II damage controls.  All of these ships come in at about 2m ISK.  You can improve the hitpoints of each of these fits by using tech II shields and hardeners, and further by rigging them with expensive rigs.  Note that this will balloon the cost by millions of ISK, while not giving that much additional protection from gank.  Two gankers will practically always be able to kill any of these ships, T2 or not.

Without further ado, here are the fits:

[Epithal, PI Hauler]
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
Damage Control II

Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Medium Subordinate Screen Stabilizer I
Limited Thermic Dissipation Field I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I

[Kryos, Mineral Hauler]
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
Damage Control II

Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Limited 'Anointed' EM Ward Field
Limited Thermic Dissipation Field I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I

[Miasmos, Ore Hauler]
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
Damage Control II

Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Medium Subordinate Screen Stabilizer I
Limited Thermic Dissipation Field I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I

[Hoarder, Ammo Hauler]
'Repose' Core Compensation
'Repose' Core Compensation
Damage Control II

Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Medium Subordinate Screen Stabilizer I
Limited Thermic Dissipation Field I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Under the Nose of a Gang

It's a holiday, so I have been playing small bits of EVE all day.  There's a C2 connection to my wspace system, and I have been watching it during the day.  It's been active, but not when I was watching.  I missed a battlecruiser and assault frigate getting killed.  I did get to steal some loot.

I have been sitting in my hunting Tengu near the tower in the C2 system.  Real life still has me prisoner, but I am in my office at least.  I can see my monitor two meters off.  I see the a Tengu warp in to the enemy POS.  A few minutes later, the one Tengu is met with more Tengus.  I squint.  Altogether it is about six of them I think.  Then they disappear.

You don't need six Tengus to run C2 sites, and this is a C2 with dual statics -- C2 and C4.  I figure they are heading for my system.  But that has to wait for 20 minutes, while I finish what I am doing IRL.  When I return, the first thing I do is dscan in my system from my alt that's sitting watching a wormhole.  I expect they have gone for our Frontier Barracks, and I will see wrecks.  But I don't.  Nobody is visible in my system.  My Barracks are intact.

OK, I dscan in the C2.  Nothing I can see.  There is an outer planet, so I warp out there to look.  Nothing.  Time to probe down this system.  Since I am conveniently out of range of the tower, this is a fine place to fire probes.  I fire my combat probes and start looking.  After sifting through some gas sites, and ignoring low signal ones, I find the highsec static.  Then a few more chaff sigs and I find another wormhole.  Let's have a look.  It's a second Y683 -- evidently this system has three statics; one highsec and two C4s -- is that possible?  Anyway, it's definitely a wormhole to C4.  I hop across.  Dscan.  Many sleeper wrecks.  And also six Tengus.  Many many wrecks, at least 30.

I am on coms with Jayne, my corpmate, who logged in while I was busy.  So I report this and Jayne gets an alt logged in.  The alt will watch in C2a at our wormhole.  Jayne gets in an Onyx.  We're not sure what we are doing yet.

Evidently these guys are running sites and planning to salvage later on.  I hope I am not too late.  I quickly save bookmarks for all remaining anomalies.  This is tedious, as there are about 15 combat sites.   I notice that there are only two Frontier Barracks, so that's what I guess they are running.  I confirm this when I cannot bookmark the first one.  This must be the site they are in: they have killed the site-despawn trigger since I came in.  (It is vexing that my virtual computer on my virtual ship knows where a point is in 3-space and will show me exactly, but I still cannot bookmark or warp to what I can plainly see before me.)  There is another anom close to it, so I warp to it at 100 and confirm that the Tengus are in the site.  They seem to be finishing off the small sleepers.  This takes a while, so I take the opportunity to activate all the sites in the system.  It's a C4.

Now I warp to the last Frontier Barracks at 100km, and start moving away from the sleepers.  I want to be 150km+ to make a good perch.  Almost immediately, the Tengu fleet enters the site and starts killing sleepers.   I get to a far enough perch, and bookmark it.  Then I warp in at 50 to get a good look at the enemy.  I am close enough to look at them up close, so I can see they are not spidering.  They do have a ripply effect going, which probably means shield hardeners.  It might mean shield boosters.  I report this and Jayne says the effects look different.  Unfortunately I have not learned what they look like, so I can't tell.  (I shall have to look at various effects and see if I can tell them apart.)

I am still trying to figure out how the enemy is planning to salvage.  One of the Tengus is not with the others for a while, and I think maybe it is salvaging.  But now I see a Noctis on dscan.  OK, that is the salvager.  The Tengus finish killing the sleepers in the Barracks I am in and warp.  Where?  Still in dscan range.  I look around; they are with the Noctis.  I "watch" as the Noctis grinds down the site.  OK.  Now they move on, to the site the Tengus were in when I showed up.  I follow this on dscan.  It appears that they are no longer running new sites.  This makes sense: they have cherry-picked only the Barracks, which is the best C4 combat anom.  The Tengus are escorting their Noctis to each site, in order.  This means they'll be coming to where I am soon.  I move back out to my perch.

Meanwhile I am reporting all this to Jayne.  He reships into a Hound, a stealth bomber.  Our new idea is to jump the Noctis.  We debate as to whether we might get it alone.  It looks like not.  So the question is, can we kill it under the guns of six Tengus?  We think so.

The enemy has finished where they were, and they have warped into my site.  I watch as the Noctis works.  He is, at least, a bit separated from the Tengus.  Jayne traverses the wormhole, and warps to me.

I am really unsure that we can pull it off.  It should work if there are no warp disruptors in the enemy fleet, which is probable.  And if they do not react quickly to the stealth bomber.  On the other hand, if they lock it fast enough and force it off the field, then they may be able to take me down too.  Then it depends on how much tank the Noctis has.

The Noctis is almost done salvaging.  It's down to just a few wrecks.  The time is now: we must strike now or lose our chance entirely.  I figure what the hell, this is what I am here for, to do or die.  So, I warp to within 10km of the single remaining can that is next to the Noctis.  Jayne warps to me.  We count down 3, 2, 1 and uncloak.  It's on.

I orbit at 5000 and start locking.  I get my warp disruptor going, and the assault missiles.  Will it warp before I lock?  No.  Noctis locked.  It's pinned now and the missiles are flying.  The Noctis has started moving towards the Tengus and vice versa.  They are now about 15km off, and closing fast.  I glance at the locked enemy: we're into armor.  A few more volleys and boom!  Killed.  I start trying to lock the pod, but also I tell Jayne to GTFO.  (He did not need me to tell him -- he aligned as soon as he uncloaked.)  I initiate warp to the wormhole back to C2a.  I look: uh oh.  I am warp disrupted.  Or at least, I thought I was.  I look again, and I am not.  And I warp.  What happened?  I dunno.  Fevered imagination?  (Combat logs say no such thing.  OK, fever it was.  Actually in retrospect I think it was target painting from the Tengus.)

In flight, I see my shields are down to about 75%.  I have a decent buffer tank, but still, I don't think the enemy reaction was very fast. (Combat logs confirm they never hit me until after the Noctis died.)  Jayne has safely disengaged too.  We're laughing and feeling amped on adrenaline.

I approach the wormhole, and there's the pod of the Noctis pilot.  I start trying to lock.  He jumps.  I jump.  I immediately break cloak by moving, and I wait: he breaks cloak.  I try to lock.  He warps.  Oh well.  I knew I'd only get him if he was totally negligent.  But worth the try.

We warp back to our wormhole, jump, and warp to our tower.  We know the enemy pod saw us enter their system, so they may know where we came from.  Or, they may not know, but decide to run our Frontier Barracks.  So, we jump in PVP Drakes and an oddment of other PVP ships, and wait.

This takes a while.  We have eyes on the C2a side of the hole, so I hear the slow play-by-play as the enemy return to their tower.  Eventually they get out an Anathema and fire probes.  They dork around with probes for a while and then pull them.  OK... maybe something will come now?  But no, nothing.  Now four of the enemy disappear from dscan.  Did they go back C4b?  That would seem... unlikely.  But they aren't in C2a.  The other two pilots disappear too.  Where'd they go?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Zephyr Among Sleepers

It's a day off from work, so I have extra time today.  This is good, because it is a day for boring old PI.  Most days, doing PI means a few minutes sitting safe in my POS force field while restarting extractors.  But not today: today is the one day per week when I have to go out to planets to put and take planet goo.  So it takes a while, and there is risk.  My task is complicated by the fact that there is a new wormhole into my system.  So I go check it out.  It's to a C5 system.  A quick recon shows nobody home.  Our static is deep into end of life, with about an hour left.  I should be safe doing PI so long as I watch the C5 hole.  So I watch it.

I get some PI done for an alt, and have one more character to go.  I am about to log him when -- thanks to the overly generous information from the discovery scanner introduced in Odyssey -- I notice there is a new signature in my system.  Uh oh.  This probably means a new wormhole.  It might be a new gas site or a relic/data site.  But these things respawn much less often than wormholes do.  I log my main instead of the alt I was about to, to check it out.  I jump in Artemis, my hunting Tengu, just in case.  I warp out and fire probes to scan.

It's a wormhole.  I warp to it.  K162 as expected, to C1 or C2 or C3.  I jump through.  C2.  I ping dscan.  There is a tower.  I see an Anathema, but no probes.  I loiter near the hole hoping that he will come this way, but no.  He disappears.  I see a Hawk for a while, then it disappears too.

Just about this point, real life intervenes.  I will be busy for a while, so I return to my system and get in a Buzzard covert ops to sit watching the C2 wormhole.  (I don't want to be on their side in case they decide to pop it.)  

Eventually I have a free half hour, and return to the computer.  I reenter C2a.  A new dscan... and I see wrecks.  Sleeper wrecks.  And a battlecruiser and assault frigate wreck, too.  Where are they?  I spin around dscan, pointing at each anomaly in the hopes that they are in one of them.  And in fact, they are.  I warp in at 100 for a look.  Will a salvager come?  Probably not.  Nothing on dscan.

I land on grid.  There are the wrecks, all right.  A bunch of sleeper frigate wrecks, two sleeper cruiser wrecks.  There are also three live sleeper cruisers here.  The assault frig has not been looted, at least not fully looted.  I think about trying to loot, but my Buzzard won't take more than a second of sleeper attention.  I also consider trying to finish the site myself and salvage.  But there is the matter of the locals -- this Drake died somehow.  And also my time, which there is not much of.  I need to be cooking dinner in 15 minutes.

Then I remember something and smile.  Recently I bought a Zephyr for just such an occasion.  (Thanks to Penny for this idea.)  Zephyrs are a limited edition shuttle, given out to players when CCP introduced wspace, to try to get players in to look around.  But some still exist, and they are useful still because of their special property: sleepers ignore them.  I am eager to try it out.  So I bookmark the assault frigate wreck, warp back home, and go digging around in our hangar for the Zephyr.  This takes a minute, but I eventually find it and jump in.  I name it "Drake" to be confusing, and head back.

As I warp to the wormhole, I notice that the Zephyr has a probe launcher.  Huh?  How'd that get there?  I thought I had to buy one separately, but evidently not. I know I carried the Zephyr packaged before flying it up to wspace.   I am not sure what is up with that.  Anyway, no turning around now.

I warp to the wreck, and start looting.  As advertised, the sleepers ignore me.  Nice.  Hmm, first problem: the Zephyr is in fact a shuttle, and as a shuttle it has 10m^3 of cargo space.  So I can only grab small stuff from the wreck.  I take 8 scan probes and load my launcher -- why not?  Then I pick a Damage Control II as the best of the loot.  And I grab some small T2 ammo.  Then I head over and grab all the blue loot from the sleeper wrecks.  Since they are frigates and cruisers, and basic, this is worth very little.  But it all fits -- blue loot is very small, 0.1 m^3 per item.

I warp back home.  Two million ISK scored!  (Dr. Evil would approve.)  My time here is up.  Back to real life.  I'll check back in later on.

What happened there, in C2a, when I was absent?  I will never know.  My guess is that someone was ninja ratting in a PVE Drake, when the system's owners noticed.  They jumped him with a small fleet, two or three ships, including that assault frigate.  It got killed either by the Drake, or the sleepers, or both.  But the Drake died too.  The locals know how worthless basic sleeper loot is -- remember that they have a C4 static -- and did not even bother to finish and loot the site.