Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About Astecus

Astecus is a friend of mine.  Well, more of an acquaintaince; you know how it is.  A disembodied guy in a videogame.  May or may not know who I am.  Still, he seems like a nice guy to the extent one can know someone via chat, reading his writings, and observing his actions.

I first met him earlier this year, before I moved into wspace full time.  Back then I used to "do my rounds", as I thought of it, in a Tengu in the Poinen area.  I was doing the exploring of that time (pre Odyssey), which meant that I was mainly looking for combat sites, but would also do radars if I found them.   Wormholes I would look in hoping for targets, then maybe come back in a stealth bomber.  The one kind of signature I had no use for was ore sites (which were sigs back then).  Here was this miner-guy who might want them.  So I just started giving him my bookmarks if I found anything.  Why not?  It cost me only a few seconds given that I was searching down Otela twice a night anyway.

Not too long after that, I joined the Otela Mining Fleet, when I wanted to do something  productive with my Jita alt.  Mining ice seemed perfect: very passive, so that I could spend most of my time on my main monitor with VK doing stuff in wspace.  And yes, in case you are wondering, the Fleet really is up 23/7.  Astecus logs in every morning (his afternoon), after downtime and sets it all up.  He is also on line a surprising amount of the time, white-knighting in a Griffin at the Otela ice.

So I've made a lot of ISK indirectly via Astecus.  He's a good guy in game full of black hats (me included when I can), building a community of peaceful miners.

All of which is to say: I am not objective.  But that stated, Astecus is exactly the sort of player that CCP wants.  He is a "content creator".  I was surprised a few weeks back to see a capital in Otela.  And I was surprised again when Daedalus gave a carrier to Astecus.  But I immediately thought it was a good decision.  Who better?

So I was really pained to hear what happened to Astecus over the past few days.  You can read about it at TheMittani.  In short: either because Astecus starting asking questions about the rules around highsec capitals, or maybe because someone complained, some overzealous GM brought the hammer down on Astecus.  He was accused of breaking the rules (which, if he did at all, was in the most innocent and innocuous possible way), and summarily convicted by the GM.  His carrier would be sent to lowsec and he would be temporarily banned from the game.  Astecus appealed and was told sorry; sentence to be carried out in a few hours.   All of this except the ban I heard from Astecus on Sunday evening while ice mining.

Since Astecus has no use for a lowsec capital and its ISK value was not important to him, he stole something and went suspect, allowing a random set of people in Otela to kill his carrier.  Then he started serving his two week ban.

The whole thing was enraging to me.  Not just the injustice, but the loss of an amazing relic by fiat.  It's like the Taliban dynamiting the Buddhas of Bamiyan.  (OK, I know.  That's hyperbole.)  EVE is an amazing place, and part of that is the fact that it is old.  It is old enough to have a history, not just a made-up lore history, but a history of ancient gameplay that is no longer possible or no longer viable.  This includes quirks like a vanishing handful of highsec capitals.  Guardian Vexors.  Hulkageddon.  Where there are relics, CCP should be supporting them and trying to preserve them or the memory of them, not trying to blow them up on the slightest pretext.

The good news is, CCP has rethought their awful decision.  They have apparently recreated the carrier for Astecus and presumably annulled his ban.  They will be clarifying the rules for highsec capitals.

Good for you, CCP.   I am still vexed by the lack of proportion and wisdom shown by the initial GM.  But the system as a whole has worked.

Killing Kojiro

It's getting late.  Jayne and I have just gotten done sucking a bunch of gas.  First in a C5, until the sleepers came.  Then in our own system, watching the exit to C3.  Nobody ganked us so that worked out.  But Jayne sleeps, so he is off and I am on my own.  I start ice mining in the Forge, but this is just money-making.  Boring stuff.  So, I figure I will take my Manticore out for a spin.

Earlier Jayne entered our static C3 and searched it down partway -- enough to know it has too many incident wormholes for doing anything safely.  (I think he stopped after 4, with more sigs yet to go.)  So I am not expecting much.  Still, you never know.  This is EVE.  People do dumb things all the time.

I warp to the C3, and cross.  From the wormhole, nothing is visible.  But this is no surprise since it is around an outer planet.  I'll have to warp to two planets to see if there are any ships out in space.  I warp to the first one.  I dscan and... bingo!  There is no tower here.  But there is a Retriever.  Ah, the favorite prey of the stealth bomber.
The view as I warp off

Immediately I highlight the three ore sites in the system.  All are in towards the sun from me.  The Retreiver is in the first one I point my narrow-beam dscan at.  I warp to it at 10.  And... nothing?  Huh?  Did he warp?  I dscan again, and I guess I made a mistake the first time.  He's in ore anom #2, not this one.  Again I warp at 10.

I land on grid, about 70km from him.  Just sitting mining, as miners do.  I don't want to slowboat across that.  So I check the asteroid field for anything more than 150km from me... and there is nothing.  All of is in an arc, about 80 to 100 km from me.  I check the sun, and it is handily located almost directly behind me as I face the Retriever.  So I bookmark an asteroid that looks to be about 10km from the Retriever, and bounce off the sun, warping back at 20km.  I hope this will land me nice and close.

It does.  I am 10km from the Retriever.  Immediately I set an orbit and head in.  At 6000m, I uncloak and get my systems going.  No reaction.  Torps smash him, and he blows up.  Again I lock, spazzing and getting the wreck but also the pod locked up.  He does not get away, and I warp scramble and pod him according to the ancient traditions of wspace.
Take that you, uh, helpless innocent person
Why was this guy mining in a system with a C4, C3, and C5 incident?   Crazy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Official VK Attitude About Somer Blink

I gotta ditch that zombie and put Stabs on the blogroll instead.  He's got another good read over there at Stabbed Up titled The Somer of Revolution: 4000 headless chickens can't be wrong:

because I like Eve that I don't wish to see the Eve dominated by this petulant "oh he got something I didn't" whining that the community is so addicted to.
It's destructive.
Whining about the monocle led to a crisis at CCP that saw 200 people laid off. Many companies fail to survive such turmoil, we're lucky we still have Eve after that. And why? Because "he gets to wear a monocle and I don't get one waa waa waa."
If you jumped on that bandwagon shame on you, you idiots almost killed CCP.
Fast forward to Scorpiongate. Some PR dude at CCP gave out some freebies. "Oh waa waa waa, I didn't get one, shoot the monument."
Sheeez. Big babies.
Now on to the latest controversy. Turns out that through a convoluted chain of kickbacks people who route trafffic to GTC sellers as affiliates can leverage Eve assets into real money. "Oh waa waa waa, I'm not getting any."
How about you get off your butt and inject some value into the sandbox?

Just so.  Look, there's a difference between me and Somer Blink.  Somer earns hundreds of billions of ISK parting fool willing players from their money, creates massive content (gambling) for CCP, and moves a lot of time codes.  And yeah, they RMT.  So what?  You know who else RMTs?  CCP.  You know: PLEX?  If CCP wishes to share a piece of their RMT monopoly with Somer, that's no business of mine.  At worst I might criticize it as a bad business decision, but you know what?  I don't think it is.  I think allowing a certain level of RMT is good for a game.

Parenthetically: what people need here is an understanding of why RMT is bad.  I am sure you have a theory.  But unless your theory can explain why PLEX are good, while other RMTing is bad, then it is not subtle enough to give any useful information on how to evaluate Somer's crypto-RMTing.  Perhaps you might think on that.

This whole situation could be resolved very easily by CCP.  They should announce as follows: Nothing has changed.  RMTing is still disallowed by EULA.  However, we are making a new "special top timecode partners" program that allows RMTing within parameters we set.  There is currently one STTP: Somer Blink.   If you move a million timecodes, you can join the program.  Now, stop your bitching and shut up, whiners.  HTFU.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One by One

My market alt is buying drones in Jita.  It's an odd reason -- a contract that wants them.  Got to be a scam, except I don't see it.  Anyway, we'll see.  Point is, I have orders out for a bunch of hob IIs and Hammerhead IIs.  Since I am buying off of buy orders, worst case is I waste time making very little money when the contract fails and I resell.

I am buying now and again, blinky blinky.  Then all of a sudden I am making buys right and left.  But... not really.  I am buying one at a time, all from the same character.  Huh?

After I screenshotted this... peculiar... activity, I got info on her.  New character.  OK, just to be sure, convo'ed her.

me > Been buying some drones.
Scoutesse > hey
me > You do know that you can sell multiple items of a particular kind, right?
Scoutesse > yeah I didnt stack XD my bad
me > So, stack them and then sell?
Scoutesse > yep yep
Scoutesse > thx
me > OK, just chekcing.  Carry on.
Scoutesse > o7
Nothing to see here, move along.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Fleet for C4 Wormhole Space PVE

I live in C4 wormhole space.  We make much of our money running C4 sites.  This post shows some of the fits we use to do this.

Some History

The fits we run sites with have evolved, along with the sites we are willing to attempt.  We started mainly using Tengus, running C3 sites in systems connected via our C3 static, as well as gas/rock sites (super easy) in ours.  Then we realized that we could do excellent DPS with battleships.  And we started doing the easier anoms in C4, and quickly realized that this pays quite well.  So we bought Navy Scorpions (which are hard and have better DPS than Tengus), and started running these sites.

Then we started thinking about the data and relic sites.  Two of these are no harder than anoms.  However the other two have a very scary last wave: four sleeper battleships that all NOS, scram, and web, doing 1928 DPS.  We also got a serious dunking in C3, which made us that much less interested in running T3s and expensive faction battleships.  You lose 400m ISK and skillpoints when you die in a T3.  We don't have training time to spare.  And you lose 700m ISK if you lose a Navy Scorpion.  Ouch.

Fleet Design Goals

Now, there are certainly ways one can run hard C4 sites other than what we do.  But regardless of fit, there are some general principles of the fleet design you want.  First, you have to understand the enemy, as this sets the base line of what you must have to be successful.  Any ship lost is a failed site.  The nossing and large DPS presents a huge problem for the active tanks that we use.   Logistics become necessary.

After the primary goal of survivability is achieved, the secondary goal is to generate lots of DPS, in particular against sleeper battleships.  The less time spent in sites, the more you can do and the more ISK you make.  Or you can do more of something else.  And finally, the tertiary goals are cheapness, ease of use and ability to GTFO in case of gank.  (Generally, one should always run sites zipped up.  But you won't always be able to do that, and there is always the potential for new connections that you get lazy and don't notice immediately in spite of the discovery scanner.)

Now: the fits.  There are just two: a Raven and a Osprey.  The fleet must have two Ospreys, and is probably not worth running with less than two Ravens.  After that, you just keep adding Ravens.  More DPS is always good.

Ravens for DPS

Here is our current DPS fit:
[Raven, Sleeper Killer]
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Signal Amplifier II
Damage Control II
EM Ward Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Thermic Dissipation Field II
Kinetic Deflection Field II
Pith C-Type Explosive Deflection Field
Large Micro Jump Drive
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Large S95a Remote Shield Booster
Large Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Large Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Large Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Hobgoblin I x5
High slots and most of the lows are used for DPS; these generate 755 DPS with my skills at long range. Furies are used on sleeper battleships.  (The exact type of Fury missile is not important -- just buy whichever one is cheapest.)  Use precision missiles on cruisers.  Ravens hit hard out to the typical 100km+ range that sleeper battleships often appear at in C4.  In fact we use a low slot to extend range.  The midslots and rigs are used to make the thing as hard as is reasonable given the constraint that I am cheap.  This fit has an 48000 EHP in shields -- plenty to tank 2000 DPS for long enough that logistics can notice, wait out a current repair cycle, and gets reps going.  The Raven's high hardness (5.577) means that logistics don't need to transport as much shields to keep pace with the damage.

The drones are used to kill sleeper frigates, and for some additional DPS against some of the cruisers or battleships which come up close.  You might try tech II drones; we find that the sleepers almost never target tech Is (other than jammer drones), but they do target tech IIs.  We tend to carry extra hobs and also an emergency set of ECM drones for escape.

The large micro jump drive is not used against sleepers.  It is there only as a GTFO if your fleet gets jumped.  If you see anyone unexpected on grid, or even on dscan, you should immediately stop worrying about sleepers and attempt to escape.  Align to a celestial and try to warp free.  If they bubble or point you, spool up your jump drive, and hope the point is not a warp scrambler.  Micro jump clear and then warp.

The utility high can also be a drone range extender.  If you have more than two Ravens, drone range is probably better for all Ravens after the first two.  The S95a will require cap transfer to run for more than a few cycles.


So how do we keep those Ravens alive against 2000 DPS?  Logistics.  Since we are relatively low skill, we have been using a pair of these:
[Osprey, Chain Logi]
Beta Reactor Control: Reaction Control I
Photonic CPU Enhancer I
Damage Control II
Thermic Dissipation Field II
EM Ward Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Centum C-Type Medium Remote Capacitor Transmitter
Large 'Regard' Remote Capacitor Transmitter
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Hobgoblin I x4
This fit uses a lot of faction parts, but they are all cheap ones.  The total cost of the fit according to EFT is 40m ISK.  The fit is as hard as can reasonably be gotten, given the need to pack in shield repping and some energy transfer.  (The nastier sleeper battleships have enough nossing to tap out any friendly, which is what the Centums are for.)

The Osprey gets some rather ridiculously large bonuses which this exploits.  One of them is its 200% bonus to energy transport amount.  This means that the Regard part by itself gives 972 energy per 5 seconds -- which is more than enough to power everything on this fit, with excess left over to overcome sleeper nossing.  The Osprey's bonus to shield transport means that with Caldari Cruiser V, the fit can transport 1287 shields each 5 seconds.  That's 257 shields per second -- which is, by itself, not enough to tank 1928 DPS with the hardness that the fit has (4.29).  Yet it can (barely) withstand that much damage.  It does it by virtue of its small signature (keeping sig down is the reason for the faction shield extender rather than tech II).  It also helps to have a good fleet booster. 

All the shield boosting of both Ospreys can be used on the Ravens, which is 514 shields per second.  With the Raven's hardness, that is 2871 DPS.  More than enough to keep them alive.  In fact, you rarely need to use more than four shield reppers on a Raven.

The Osprey fit has a small margin for error in the hardest C4 sites.  (We are planning to move to T2 Logistics soon because of this.)  But it is cheap, and low skill, and can be made to work.  

Operating Procedure

Running the fleet is fairly easy.  Everyone warps in together.  The Ravens park.  Their signature is too large and speed too low to get any reduction in incoming damage from movement, and their range is long.  (You can orbit an anchor if you want but it is not necessary.)  The two of them with S95as should lock up both Ospreys to rep them if needed.  

The Ospreys take more significant set up.  After warp-in, they should immediately lock each other and get their cap chain going.  They should also turn on one shield repper on each other; generally this is left on all the time.  Running one shield repper on each other all the time gives them in effect a larger buffer if the sleepers target one of them.  Next they should get into orbit at 5000m around an anchor battleship.  5000m is far enough to get almost maximum speed, but close enough that the battleships can shield rep them at need.  Next, they should lock up everyone else in the fleet and start applying reps as needed.  If a ship is getting heavy nossing, use the Centum to keep its capacitor high.  Finally, they can launch drones and use them to help kill frigates.  If they don't have enough targets, delegate drones.

Against a full 2000 DPS assault with webbing, an Osprey may need more reps than the other Osprey can apply.  This is when the Ravens' S95a comes into play.  The first two battleships can run theirs permanently so long as the Ospreys provide cap to do so.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Towards Hard Currency in EVE

I've watched these "blog banter" things for a while.  I have not been inspired to join.  I am not much of a joiner.  I thought the same of this recent one -- too diffuse -- but then I read Stabs' take on it.  Which kind of set me off in a related direction.  The question I am interested in is this one: "if you were EVE's new Executive Producer, where would you take the game?"

I would take as my road map EVE's crazed "reality", and try to make it make more sense.  There are a lot things that don't make sense; from among them all I am picking one in particular, the flux of in-game money.  Because markets are central to the game, and ISK mediate the markets, any unrealistic source or sink of ISK creates a situation in the game that is untenable from a "realism" point of view.  Of course, "realism" is weak tea.  Games should be fun first and realistic second, or third, or eighth.  But still I find that the connection between "realism" and fun is surprisingly strong.

So, as new Executive Producer for EVE, my goal for EVE is a completely player-run economy.  I define "completely player run" as follows: there are no ISK payments of any kind made by NPCs, and no ISK payments of any kind made to NPCs.  It's time for a truly hard currency in EVE.  An ISK that is neither created, nor destroyed.

Here's a very interesting listing of all (most?) source and sinks in EVE.  (Notice the astounding amounts spent on blue loot.  Thanks, highsec, for subsidizing my easy lifestyle.)  Let's look at ISK sources and sinks and what I plan to do to get rid of them.

Blue loot.  Currently, there are two areas of EVE that are heavily subsidized by ISK injection: wspace, and null.  (ISK are sunk mostly in highsec, as fees and taxes.)  Wspace is subsidized via blue loot, which is sold at fixed prices to NPCs.  Null is subsidized by bounties.  So, for blue loot, make it be an input to the manufacture of something.  Obvious choices are T3 BPCs, but it might also be used in a variety of other ways.  Or, just get rid of it.  Perhaps replace it with other things of use.  Minerals, even.

Bounties.  Currently, Concord pays ISK bounties.  This is modestly credible in empire.  It makes no sense at all in null.  And even in empire, it really does not make much sense given that Concord is militarily ubiquitous and all-powerful.  Abolish bounties.  To make up for them, increase the salvage and loot gained from NPC wrecks.  This has several nice properties.  First, it makes NPC ships more like PC ships; ideally one should not be able to tell the difference, but we just don't have AIs that good.  Still, that is the ideal.  Second, via reprocessing, loot would create a large source of minerals out in null, thereby inspiring local manufacture and an economy that is not based on unrealistic ISK-transfer from highsec.  Third, just as in wspace, requiring salvaging and looting would place weak, gankable ships out in space for people to gank.  Content is created relative to the current situation.  No longer can you print ISK aligned at all times, warping upon seeing any non-blue in local.

Empire Station Services.  Manufacturing slots, research slots, offices.  Currently, these are quite cheap if they are available at all.  Privatize them.  On a per-slot basis, allow ownership by individuals or corps.  Ownership would be gained via auction for initial slot sales and for slots repossessed.  Once owned, the owner sets the price of use.  Ownership by unsubscribed players is an issue: if allowed, slots may be lost over time.  So, implement some sort of repossession mechanic.  Player owners of station services automatically auction them off after five months of unsubscription.

Empire Station Markets.  The market in each station counts as a service.  It should be privately owned just like any other.  All ISK in "taxes" goes to the owner.  However, because there is only one market per station, disallow the owner from setting tax rates.  The current tax rates are applied; thus trade costs neither more nor less than now (and all those Trade skills do not lose or gain value).  The Goons Inc welcome you to highsec, indeed.

Skillbooks.  Currently these are bought from NPC stations.  Make them player-created, as follows.  When you have a skill at level V, there is a new way you can invest skill points in that skill: writing skillbooks.  Each kind of skillbook takes a variable investment in writing time.  During this time, you cannot train any skill: your "study time" is being used instead to write books.  We have a ballpark figure for how much ISK training time is worth, namely: the price of a PLEX for 720 hours.  Therefore, we can calibrate how long it should take to write a skillbook.  For example, consider a skillbook that currently sells for 1m ISK.  With PLEX at 600m ISK, an hour of skilling costs 833k ISK.  Thus, on a character that is subscribed only for the purpose of writing skills, one should be able to write a 1m ISK skillbook in roughly an hour.  If exactly a hour, then there is a good profit margin built in.  We might set it at 2 hours, under the assumption that the ability to back-convert from subscription cost (which allows many things beyond writing skillbooks) into ISK is not a 1:1 conversion.

Missioning and LP stores.  Currently, missions pay ISK.  Convert it over completely to LP.  Same deal for LP stores.  Remove ISK costs for items, making them purely LP and/or items.

Insurance.  Outside of highsec, ship insurance is absolutely absurd.  In highsec, it is merely ridiculous.  Do away with it.  If people want to fly cheaper hulls, they have the power to do so.

Unsubscribed Players.  These are probably among the larger ISK-sinks in EVE.  A guy comes into the game, earns a pile of ISK, and then quits.  To handle the situation, accounts not subscribed for six months automatically convert their ISK into commodities.  The preferred commodity is PLEX, which will be bought from sell orders at Jita, paying no more than 105% of the game's current average price.  If there is not enough ISK to buy PLEX, no further buying happens for another six months.  After that, the account buys tritanium automatically using the same algorithm.  After another six months, all remaining ISK is discarded.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

An Unexpected Sleeper

Two days ago my corp ran a C4 data site in my system.  It was the easier one, Unsecured Frontier Trinary Hub.  We killed all the ships and salvaged, then just left it.  Nobody cared to crack the cans, which for these sites is very tedious (the hardest level of minigame), and the loot is very poor.

Today I logged on, and there were 3 sigs.  One is always our static.  The other two I had to figure out.  I noticed a newish bookmark of a gas site, so between that and the data site, I figured we were nicely zipped up.  However, you have to check these things.  One way to check if a site is still around is to probe it down.  But there's a faster way.  You warp to it.  If it is still there, it pops up its site description box, and you know it is still there.  Note that you don't have to actually fly to it to find out.  You just initiate a warp to it.  Then you find out, and can cancel the warp.

Tonight, however, I decided not to cancel the warp to the Unsecured Frontier Trinary Hub, because I had already checked the gas site (still there), and I figured that since my system was nicely zipped up, I would have a go at the cans in the Hub.  So I warp on over, and -- surprise -- there was a sleeper battleship!  Just one, which is weird.

Of course I had to kill it, so I grabbed a battleship and did it in.  No nanoribbons.   Still, 7.5m in blue loot is well worth it for a few minutes of PVE.
Not so tough without all your friends, eh?

I have experimented with respawn mechanics before, trying to see if there are any C4 sites that could be milked.  Generally, not.  Well, this is one that can be slightly milked.  Run it, kill everything.  Don't crack any cans.  Now just leave it, and each day you get a nice new sleeper battleship.  If you are keen to crack the cans, leave them until the 3rd downtime has passed.

UPDATE: ignore that last para.  Jayne visited the site this morning: no new battleship.  He points out the "Site Escalation Wave" has a battleship.  And also, there is that one can sitting away from the others, which you can see in the screenshot.  That's the Talocan cruiser.  Now the funny thing here is we have warped in to the site at least twice (fleet, then salvager) without triggering the escalation wave.  How does one trigger it?  Please comment if you know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Basics: Perches

A perch is a bookmark located near to an area of interest.  A perch is designed to enable observation and/or tactical mobility in that area, while denying equal observation and mobility to potential enemies.  The label "perch" suggests a high place a bird of prey might alight, allowing it to observe the ground around it and possibly swoop down to attack.

Type of Perches

Perches may be onor off a "grid" of interest, depending on their use.  What is a grid?  A grid is a volume of simulated space.  Ships and other objects on the same grid show up on each other's overview (if uncloaked), and can be interacted with (assuming the range allows).  Ships and objects on different grids, no matter how close they are to each other, do not appear on overview and cannot be interacted with.  How close can they be?  Arbitrarily close.  Adjacent grids have "grid walls": an invisible boundary between them.  Two ships on either side of a grid wall can be 1km away and still not see each other.  

A perch used only for observation is generally best off-grid.  ("Observation" in the case of off-grid means observation via the directional scanner, aka "dscan".)  An off-grid perch makes it hard for an enemy to even know you are near.  The only way he can find out is via dscan, which is a much harder and less informative method than looking at overview.  Even once he notices you are there, it takes additional work to determine your range and direction.  

A perch used for PVP must be on-grid.

Creating Perches

Creating a perch is simple in theory.  Move your ship to the location you want.  Then make a bookmark.

For an on-grid perch, you want to get at least 150km from every point on grid you might want to warp to.  The reason for the 150km is that 150km is the minimum distance that EVE allows initiating a warp.  Note that warping to N (10, 20, 30, 50, 70, 100) is allowed no matter what the warp distance is.  So you can do a warp of 50km, but only if there is a warpable object at least 150km in that direction.

In practice, flying 150km takes time.  If you have a microwarpdrive and a fast ship it helps a lot.  You can also speed things up by warping off grid, then warping back at 100km.  You can then either slowboat backwards 50km, or make a temporary bookmark, warp off again, then warp to the temporary bookmark at 100km again.  This gets you 200km off from the initial location chosen, which is a good on-grid bookmark.  

For an off-grid perch, you want to get off the grid (duh).  Often, 300km will be off-grid.  However, that is not always true.  Grids are not spheres or any particular shape; they are not even necessarily convex.  Rather, they are computed on the fly by the EVE servers, to attempt to keep things together that are currently on the same grid.  A grid will be stretched, amoeba-like, if a ship is moving to its edge and there is no other grid already in that direction.  (This process can be manipulated by players; look up "grid-fu" sometime.)  For our purposes, all you need to know is that most objects show on your overview only when on grid.  This includes ships, wormholes, wrecks, cans, and POSes.  It does not include gates, customs offices, and stations -- these appear on your overview regardless of grid.  So, to make an off-grid bookmark, identify any object on grid which cannot be seen off-grid.  (If there is none, make a jetcan.)  Then move away from object until it disappears off your overview.  When that happens, you are off-grid, at least right now.  Note that if you want to use the bookmark indefinitely as an off-grid perch, you should make it more than 300km from the target, because future grids may not be congruent with present ones. 700-1000km is good.

Examples of Use

The classic situation in wspace is a sleeper wreck field.  If you find one of these, you can expect a salvager to come along eventually.   If you can get on its grid in a stealth bomber or cloaky T3, you may get a good gank target.  However, until the salvager enters the site you don't know where it will be, exactly.  So you create a perch that is at least 150km from all the wrecks.  Because you can warp to wrecks (so long as they are not being tractored), and cans, you will have a variety of points to warp to, so that you can quickly be at a variety of locations.

In kspace, a classic situation is a gate in null.  Gates can be camped, and in null this means bubbles.  You don't want to fly into a bubble with a non-cloaky ship, and be trapped by it.  But bubbles only affect ships that warp on to their grid.  So, for each gate in a path you want to use, create an off-grid perch.  Now you can fly non-cloakable ships with reasonable safety.  Never warp directly to any gate if there is anyone other than you in local.  Instead, warp to your perch near that gate, and dscan the gate to see if there are any bubbles and/or campers.  Then you can decide whether to proceed.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Harrassing a Gang

The world turns, night comes.  I am back from out and about, fed, coffeed.  EVE, entertain me.

I log in, and Hiljah is already on.  There are three sigs in our system.  Two are bookmarked: our static, and a C4 link.  Just as I am getting ready to scan down the last, Hiljah says he is doing that and reports it's a wormhole too.  I notice that we are down three anomalies -- Frontier Barracks that I wanted to run.  A quick check at staticmapper shows someone ran them 14 hours ago.  Oh well, they come and they go.

I am in my stealth bomber, and I figure that since someone already scanned down our static, I'll have a look.  I warp over and enter.  OK, whoever opened it did not scan it down.  Still, even without scanning I can find the tower and have a look.  This takes some time with the dscanner.  OK, moon 3 of planet 2.  I warp over.  Nobody home.  The owning corp appears to be Russian, so we probably won't see any of them tonight.

I come back and get my scanning Tengu, reenter, and scan it down.  There are two lowsec wormholes one of them static, and ours.  There are two relic sites we might run, and a handful of anoms.  Still, without Jayne (who is laid up with a bad case of real worlditus), and with extra wormholes in our system, I am not particularly keen to do sites.

Let's look at C4b.  I leave C3a back into our home, then warp across, and jump.  C4b is very clean.  No anoms except an ore site, which I instantiate.  One sig.  OK, nothing happening here.  I leave.

Meanwhile Hiljah has entered the other wormhole, which is a second C3 link, hence C3b.  C3b has a lowsec static, but also a nullsec link and I think one other wormhole.  Anyway, at this point we make the decision not to run sites.  We'll do that tomorrow.  Tonight, we're doing our own things.  I log in my ice miner in The Forge and get him mining.  Then I get my exploration Buzzard and head out into lowsec via C3a.

My expedition is mildly successful, but the region I am in is rather too populated.  I do find a few empty systems and two relic sites in them, which I loot.  But not that much gained, perhaps 15m ISK.  Not a great use for an hour.  Meanwhile Hiljah has headed out into null to rat in a stealth bomber.  Hmm, interesting, never done that.  It seems like something I should try.  Anyway, after several systems of nothing in lowsec, I decide to head to null.  So back to the wormhole exit from C3a, through it, to home.  Then into C3b and down into null.

I scan eight systems, and all of them have nada.  This is disappointing, especially given that several have warp bubbles at the gates that I have to slowboat through.  By this point it's getting near to bedtime for me, so I pack it in.  Back through null to our entrance, and back in I go.

I always dscan whenever entering a new wspace system.  It's a good habit.  And this time, I don't see what I expected (two towers, one online, some fixed cans, etc.)  I see a fleet in action, killing sleepers.  There are five or six combat ships featuring mostly drones.  Several Myrmidons, some T3s.  There is also a Noctis.  And there are wrecks from at least three anoms.  I tell Hiljah (who is still out in null ratting).

OK, first thing you do in a situation like this: bookmark all the anomalies that are still there.  Probably all of the wrecks I can see, I cannot get to; the anoms are gone.  However, if the fleet stays around and runs more sites, then I'll be able to get to all of them.

I'm in my Buzzard, and that's the wrong ship to kill things in.  So I warp back to our wormhole -- no obvious scout here -- and transit into our home system.  Safe on this side too.  I warp back to tower, and jump in my Manticore.  I am not going to kill a fleet by myself, nor with Hiljah.  But I might be able to gank that Noctis if they are not sensible about escorting it.

Back across our system, and I jump, polarizing myself.  Hmm... there's a scout here.  Imicus, so I am not particularly concerned.  I hold cloak a minute: why is he not cloaked?  Can't tell.  Anyway, I make my move: off the wormhole, microwarp, cloak.  Just as I do this, the Imicus enters the wormhole.  Odd coincidence.  I hold position a while to see if the Imicus will return.  He does, and deploys drones.  I guess he is just a picket.  I think to get his corp: E-UNI.  Eve University.  Interesting.

I warp back to the nullsec entrance to make sure it is safe for Hiljah to come it.  It is.  He does.  Now I am going to use dscan to try to figure out where they are.  I start pointing it at anoms, and on the second one, I can see their fleet.  I warp over at 100, then start backing off to make a perch.  They are killing sleepers madly.  One of them uses a warp scrambler.  Wait, did I really see that?  Could it have been a sleeper?  I look up the site (Fortification Frontier Stronghold); no warp scrambling sleepers in this one.  So, I know the fleet has at least some PVP ability.  Good to know.  I don't think it would be a good idea to try to gank with the fleet present.

While I cruise slowly out from the site, I keep looking for the Noctis.  After some work I find it, in a direction down and sunward from myself.  Unfortunately, there is no known anom there.  So, I cannot get to it, barring combat probes.  And in any case, they are not fools and have an escort, a Legion.

I am far enough out, so I make my perch.  Now the fleet is done with this site, and they warp.  Hmm, some nice loot out there.  Come here, Noctis!  But it doesn't.  Instead it finishes its site -- no more wrecks with it on narrow dscan -- and it disappears.  It may have warped off or it may have cloaked; I cannot tell that from just dscan.  Where did it go?  There are some anoms out of dscan range that I know about, and I want to check the outer planets for the Noctis.  So, I warp around the system dscanning.  The sites are intact.  No Noctis anywhere.  I see a Manticore at an outer planet, but it's Hiljah's.  Accidental decloak.  Careful!
im in ur base, steelin ur bluez

I warp back to the perch.  Still nothing here, and no Noctis.  So, I warp to the one large sleeper wreck, and grab the blue loot.  7.5m ISK worth.  Mwahaha!

I check up on the fleet.  They've finished their second site, another FFS.  I warp there.  Nobody.  So again I steal the battleship's loot.  Hiljah is in the first site, and reports that the Legion is salvaging.  Hmm, bad news.  I don't think we can gank it, even with two of us.  Torpedos have a huge explosion radius, and T3s tend to be hard.  I am still hoping to get the Noctis.

The fleet had moved on to a Outpost Frontier Stronghold.  I watch them finish it, then warp.  This one has three sleeper battleships.  I bookmark one, warp out and bounce off a nearby POCO, then back onto the first wreck.  I grab the loot; the second is 5km off and the third 20km after that.  Watching dscan, I grab all three.  Just as I get the last one and have moved off, the Legion lands on grid about 20km from me.  Too late!  He sits for a minute, then warps.

I'd like to do more here.  But it's already past my bedtime.  So I think it's time to go.  Hiljah reports a Myrmidon sitting at our wormhole.  Probably not a problem, but I log an alt in our home system to check the other side.  Nobody there.  I warp to the hole with the Myrm and its drones sitting right next to me, and cross.  He does not follow.

Good luck Hiljah.  Good night, EVE.  No PVP, oh well.  But hey, 37.5m ISK richer.  That's nice.

In the morning, mail from Hiljah:
I grabbed loot from 5 more BS wrecks.  Everyone seemed to leave except the Myrm and the Legion.  I got out and back to base and reshipped into the Ishtar and Falcon.  Hiljah jumped through, held cloak for a bit, the Myrm didn't move.  D-scan is clear.  I point, and jam him, still no movement.  Aitu jumps through, Ogres are out.  I web but he's out of scram range so I approach.  He is tackled and shields are dropping fast.  D-scan is still clear.  He's at 3/4 armor, then he jumps.  I scramble to jump Hiljah through after him.  I remember to pull drones in and send Aitu in too.  I see him on the other side, but then he jumps back.   I forgot about that.   Blundering around ( again, sorry about that ) and still managed 37.5 Misk and some cheap pvp lessons.
Combat on wormholes is complicated due to polarization.  Anyway, nice try and good job getting even more loot!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seen in Solitude

My PI alt is training a month of dual training, so I can mine in wspace.  So he is getting new skillpoints, and just overflowed his current clone. We ran sites tonight, so we closed off the outside universe.  But then just as we got done, and many ISKies richer, the discovery scanner alerted us to a new signature in to our home system.  It turned out to be a wormhole from C2.  A C2->C4 means a C2 system with dual statics: C4 and highsec.  We went in to hunt but nothing came of that.  Not sure why the locals opened up, if it was them.  (I saw them at a tower, sitting and then logging out.  So I think it was.)

Anyway, I took advantage of the highsec connection to go out with my alt to get a better clone.  He had to hop one system to get to a station with medical facilities.  This is what greeted him:
Rogue drones love this place
Yeah, that's a lot of anoms.  Solitude is a highsec island; evidently not too much interest in running little anoms there.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dead Again

It's later in the evening.  I am feeling good about myself, having just gotten a kill.  I'm in my hunting Tengu looking for another.  Our static C3 has a wormhole, C2 by appearance, that I have not yet explored.  So I am going to check it out.

I enter C3, and warp to the wormhole.  A quick info check on it indicates it has not gone EOL or anything in the hour plus since I first scanned it down.  So I activate it and transit into C2b.  Into the new system, and I dscan.  Nothing alarming.  A tower but no ships.  I look up the system on staticmapper: it's another C2 with highsec static and C3 static, just like C2a.  So there is a highsec to find.  There are also several other signatures.

I bookmark the wormhole I am at, then warp to an outer planet to launch probes.  Nothing out here on dscan, so I launch and throw the probes out of the system.  Then I head in to find towers.  This takes a while, and though I see no ships, I do see some probes on scan.  Not mine, which nobody can see.  Hmm.

I warp back to the C2->C3 wormhole, just in case the ship that fired them is going to find it and transit.  Maybe I can jump a scout.  I wait a while.  And indeed, just as I am getting bored I see a Nemesis at the hole, and it transits.  Hmm.  If it comes back in real soon, I can jump it and maybe lock it if I am lucky and the pilot is weak.  Should I uncloak and get ready?  Well, uncloaking would expose me, but I see nobody on dscan.  Let me check again.  Whoa.  More probes on dscan.  OK, I am not uncloaking.

The probes are not out long, before I see a Buzzard at the wormhole, and it jumps.  Hmm.  Perhaps they are coincidental.  There is a highsec connection to find.  I wait a few minutes, but the Buzzard does not return.  Eventually, I bring my probes in and I scan.

Now I am scanning stuff down.  There are just five sigs, all of them separated easily by planets except two together.  One is easily ignored as my entrance wormhole.  A gas site.  I find the expected highsec static, and bookmark the C2 side.  But I do not fly out yet; I am still probing.  Next I scan a radar site.  The last sig is... scan scan scan.. a wormhole... warping... a K162.  From... get info... dangerous unknown space.  So it is a C4 or C5.  I look at it: looks to be a C5.

Well, if it was C4 I would definitely go straight in, to activate all the sites.  But C5s... not as nice a proposition.  This is probably where those scouts came from.  So... go in or not?  I almost leave and call it a night.  Almost!  But then I chide myself for my cowardice and go for it.  Whoomp, crackle.

I am on the other side, and uh oh.  I see four or five unfriendlies: Proteus, Proteus, Legion, Devoter (what's that?  Dunno, probably tackle).  They mean business.  OK, I have to think fast.  Obviously they are hunting me.  If I head back through the wormhole I will be polarized, and they will follow.  Better for me to try to evade them here and get off this side into their system.  If I succeed, then maybe I can run for it later, after I let me polarization wear off.  If I fail, then I have not lost anything at least.  I go through the wormhole and am no worse off than if I just leave now.

OK, heartrate up, and I make my break for it.  I am just inside the cloaking limit (2000m), so I head outward and fire my afterburner.  I get past 2000m and cloak.  Whew.  And I try to turn so as to not be where I was.  But these guys are good.  Two of them have headed right where I was at a good speed, and they are getting too close.  4000... 3000... crap, they are going to decloak me.  So I head for the wormhole.  Going to have to try again on the far side.  They decloak me, and people are locking me.  In just a few seconds of fire, they get about 1/3 of my shields before I can jump.  And the Proteuses are nossing.  They know what they are doing.  But I escape into the C2.

On the other side I am not surprised to see another Loki waiting.  And the others will be transiting right behind me, so I think speed is important.  My range to the wormhole is about as low as it ever goes, about 1100m.  Things look very bad for me.  I break for it as soon as I can.  But I cannot get cloaked before I am locked.

OK, I am officially going to die.

I have not aggressed anyone, and I see no gain in doing so.  There are just too many of them, and this ship's DPS is weak, and they know what they are doing.  My 100MN is ramping up, so I can go fast, but I cannot see that it will save me.  I can, however, try to save my own skillpoints by ejecting.  And I am hoping that it will catch them off guard and I can save my pod.  So, I eject and try to warp to a celestial.  But either I screw it up, or maybe they had a bubble up by that time.  Not sure.  In any case, I do not warp.  Then I try again, but it is too late.  I am scrambled.  That's the endgame.  I have just time to type out "Nice trap" into local before they pod me.  Gf guys.  I am out 400m, and a 70m pod, and back at Jita.
Taste the pain

God, I hate this game sometimes.  It's a love kind of hate, though.  It gives my earlier gank, it takes my Tengu.  Sadly, I set to work buying back all the stuff I just lost.  New implants.  New Tengu.  That's a week of work.  I hope they enjoy my Tengu except... they don't.  Three minutes after they podded me, they killed it.  That's strange.  I guess they are so rich from running escalations that they don't care about picking up a 400m ship and would prefer it for their killboard.

Lessons learned: first, pay attention to scouts seen more.  I saw the one guy, and should have had his corporation.  And the fact that there were two also should have been a red flag.  Second, be more wary of C5s, and work on that C4/C5 distinction more.  Finally, my tactics in the C5 were not good.  I should have tried to warp off the second I had successfully cloaked.  If I had, I think I would have succeeded.  Then I would still be cut off in their system, but I would be alive.  I could maybe find a different exit, or lacking that, at least not been polarized when I ran for it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pursuing a Mammoth

Tonight we are moving stuff in and out of wspace. Earlier, I scanned down our static C3. It has a lowsec static, but it also has two K162s which are C2 by appearance. I entered the first one; it's a highsec static. Five sigs, so I scanned it down quickly. The highsec exit is 13 jumps from Jita. So I got my Jita alt in his freighter, bought a few things on our "wormhole needs" list, and slowboated across highsec to the nearby station. We've transshipped everything into industrials, and are on the way back headed into deep wspace.

From highsec we enter C2. As normal, every time I transit a wormhole I dscan. This is a good idea in any ship. While transporting, you are looking for anything out of the normal. Any ship, probes, etc. If you don't like what you see, you might back out, or you might go for it. Anyway, nothing new on dscan. C2 is clear. We warp across to the C2->C3 link, and transit. Again I dscan. This time there is something unexpected. There's a Mammoth on scan. (Does anyone use Mammoths anymore?) Well, I can't hunt a Mammoth in an Epithal. We continue on through C3 to our wormhole, jump, and warp to our tower.

If that Mammoth's pilot is smart, it's either back at its tower or out of the system. But maybe he is not smart. It's also possible that he missed seeing me on dscan. (Still, he must know that his system is wide-open, with four incident wormholes.) I quickly dump the goods I carried in, out of my Epithal and into storage. Then I get in my Manticore and zoom back to the wormhole. I'll be polarized, but I don't care. I'm looking for a kill

Across the wormhole, immediately I dscan. The mammoth is not on scan. It is possible it was transiting the system, from the wormhole I have not explored to the highsec. But this seems less likely than it being local. I've already scanned the system, and I bookmarked the local tower which is at the outer planet. I cannot see the outer planet on dscan from here. So that's probably where it is. I warp to the tower at 70. While in warp, I dscan, and there's the Mammoth. Almost certainly local.

I land on grid at the tower and... no Mammoth. It's also no longer on dscan. So I guess it must be out planet-gooing. I arbitrarily pick the customs office for planet I in the inner system and warp to it. As I warp, I am dscanning, and the Mammoth reappears. It is almost certainly doing PI. But it is not at planet I. I arrive on grid and no Mammoth. As I exit warp I am narrow-beaming dscan at other planets, and there he is at planet II. I throw it back into warp to planet II.

I land on grid at planet II. The Mammoth is there; he's about 10k from me, and I head for him. But my scrambler cannot quite reach yet, and I can see he's already aligning. He's had a fair amount of time here while I was trying to find him. I could uncloak and go for him, but I don't think there is time. Instead, I look where he is aligning to. I can see that it's planet III. A direct line. He warps, and I am warping right behind him by no more than a few seconds.

Remains of a crappy fit
I land at planet III's customs office about 10 km from the target.  As soon as I am out of warp, I approach him.  I uncloak at about 6 km from him, and get my lock started and my sensor booster on, then my torps and target painter.  The lock completes and my torps commence.  It only takes maybe two cycles and he explodes.  I go for the pod... tweet tweet tweet and it's locked too, and scrambled and podded

I have zoomed past him in the excitement, so I come back to the wreck and grab the small stuff. But there is way too much for me to carry: there are PI goods that he did not manage to throw back in the POCO. I ask in corp chat for a mate to bring an industrial to haul off the PI goods. I remember the corpse, and grab it while Timmay is transiting and warping to me. He loots the wreck and warps off.

Now there's nothing to do except link the kill mail in corp chat. Looking at it, it's a bad fit. I wondered why I killed him so quickly: because he has almost no tank. And I see he is stabbed up. My scrambler was not holding him there; he simply did not have enough tank to take more than a few seconds of my fire. Next time guys put more tank on and for goodness sake if you're doing PI use an Epithal.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Highsec POCO Predictions for Rubicon

A dev blog is out on the plans CCP has for highsec POCOs in Rubicon (coming, Nov. 19!).  Here is the summary in bullet points:

  • Highsec POCOs will be attackable only while at war (that is, via wardec).
  • Highsec POCOs will not be transferable while at war, or with war pending, to cut off the obvious shell-game counter to wardec.
  • Highsec POCOs will still have 10% taxes to NPCs.  However the rate can be halved by the player by training the new Customs Code Expertise skill, 1% per level.  Also the assumed base value of PI commodities will be dropped somewhat, resulting in further reductions in effective taxes.
  • POCO owners can set their taxes freely, in addition to the NPC tax.

I have been thinking about how this will play out.  Consider the wardec requirement.  Presumably anyone can take out Interbus COs, so there will be an initial gold rush.  But once a POCO is in player hands, it will be permanently.  And to even have a shot at it, you'll have to pay Concord for a war.

What's the cost for wardecs?  From CCP's wiki, Wars:
It costs 50 million isk, plus an additional cost for each member in the target corporation/alliance above 51. It will now start to increase with the 51st member and reach the ceiling of 500 million ISK at 2000 members.
I have seen people say the wardec cost would have a big effect, and initially I agreed with them.  It seems plausible that a 10x cost difference for war would matter a lot.  But after thinking about it, I feel it will affect only small corporations.

Consider a medium sized corp with 25 pilots.   In a battleship, each pilot can do about 1000 DPS.  POCOs have 10m shields and reinforce at 25% shields.  Thus this corp can hammer one into reinforced in just five minutes.  Killing a POCO after reinforcement is easier.  They have 250k armor and 200k structure.  So it would be very fast.  In a week of war, and unopposed, a corp could reinforce or destroy 20 POCOs a day.  Since POCOs cost about 100m ISK, the cost of the wardec is a small percentage of the capital at stake.  The cost of the fleet is much more than the POCOs it destroys.

I still expect large alliances to dominate POCO ownership.  But that is not because of wardec costs, rather because of the blobbing advantage in fleet combat, and the advantage that will accrue to any entity which can field fleets in all time zones.

It's worth discussing the time zone issue more explicitly.  POCOs reinforcement timer works differently than those at POSes.  At a POS, the reinforcement exit time is determined by time when attackers push the shields below 25%, and the amount of "reinforced mode fuel" (strontium clathrates) in the tower.  So a tower's exit time will be fairly unpredictable, but an attacker can always hope for the exit to happen at a time which is advantageous.  With POCOs, the owner specifies an exit time-window, a zone of a two hours.   Reinforcement mode lasts for a day at least, then enough time to get into the zone.  The timing of the attack has nothing to do with the exit time beyond fixing the day of the year.  Thus, a POCO's owner can set his times so that his POCOs always come out of reinforced at his best time.

One can imagine a seesaw battle between two large entities, both of which can prevail militarily at separate times during the day.  During the Australian evening, an Aussie alliance bashes all the POCOs it can get at, and defends its own towers coming out of reinforcement.  A European alliance does the same thing in its own evening.  Only on weekends can progress be made, which would be easily undone the next week.  The endgame here is all POCOs are killed and not replaced.  "They make a desert, they call it peace."

The situation would appear to be very unstable militarily.  This is especially true given that many highsec wardeccers would love to be able to wardec people and force a fight.  They would not necessarily care about actually killing your POCO, just getting you out to fight for it.  If you show up and fight, even though you lose, maybe they don't kill your POCO.  But if you don't show, they certainly do.

One other very important aspect of the economics of POCO is their return on investment.  Mabrick has a post with some relevance here: he estimates based on one player's reported PI that at 10% taxation, a POCO that is being used will earn about 19m ISK per user per month.  Unfortunately there is no hard data on how much PI actually goes on in highsec.  I would guess that most P4s are made there, though, because of their prices and the relative advantage highsec has for making P4s.  Potentially there is a lot of ISK to be made.  But it may be happening only in a very few places; hundreds of pilots make P4s in Sobaseki, one jump from Jita.  A POCO there would be golden if managed well.

But what is well?  If many Interbus COs persist, with their effective 8.5% taxes (half of 17%), then to compete players will not be able to set their POCO taxes above about 4%.  As such, their earnings per user are less than half of Mabrick's estimate.

My guess is that most POCOs in most highsec systems will not be worth much, because of the low tax rate they can command, and because very few pilots do PI there.  As such, POCOs are marginal investments.  They are risky, because always subject to wardec and cannot be taken down to escape loss like POSes can.  And they don't really pay well.  Individual corps will put them up to exploit places they are living better.  Then they will be wardecced by a larger corp and lose them, and learn not to do that.

If any group is to own any large numbers of POCOs in highsec, it will have to fight for them a lot.  Guerrilla action will make it very hard to hold onto large numbers of POCOs.  The only way I can see a single or handful of groups dominating highsec is an alliance of the vast majority of the wardeccers in highsec.  And that seems unlikely, to put it mildly.  Outsiders like the Goons simply will not be able to do it, because they will have to occupy highsec nearly continually to secure their assets, and even with a fleet in being, they are vulnerable to wardecs from guerrillas.

I do have an idea for how to make money off of highsec POCOs, but it's rather speculative, and this has gone on long enough.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Run Through Indian Country

It's a new day, and we still don't have our Ravens.  That means, hole rolling time.  But not yet.

I log in and check the probe scanner.  Two signatures.  One will be our static, but what is the other?  Perhaps nice connection from C2?  One way to find out.  I warp out and launch probes.  The first site I scan is our static.  I bookmark the sig but I don't fly to it; I don't want to unzip yet.  The second sig is a gas site.  Well, I am glad I did not instantiate our static.  Since I am here alone anyway, I think I will just slurp some gas while I wait for Jayne to show up.

I activate the gas site immediately on finding it.  Then I do stuff on the second monitor, safe in my POS, waiting for the sleepers to show up.  After about 20 minutes, I warp over in a Drake.  There they are, two sleeper cruisers.  And here are my Scourge missiles.  Oh yeah, and hobgoblins.  Pound, pound, buzz buzz buzz.  (Those latter are my imagined drone noises -- bees.)  The sleepers are both dead and I return in a light salvager to salvage.  But no nice nanoribbons.  All told, I get about 500 thousand ISK.  Woo!

Now the site is clear, and I get a Venture gas miner and put it in orbit of the C72 cloud, and start sucking.  I am ice mining on the other monitor.  Boring squared; time to read a book.  I can bat an eye at the discovery scanner every few minutes and it should be good enough.  So long as no new sigs appear, I am zipped up and 99% safe.  Even if a new sig does appear, the site has to be scanned down, and I am moving, and I have +2 warp core stabilization.  So, it should take at least a minute or two for even the best ganker to kill me.

After about 20 minutes, Jayne shows up.  He usually does PI immediately, so I watch his characters come and go for a bit as his PI alts are logged on and off.  Once things stabilize I tell him about the gas and he joins me at the gas site.  The mining is much faster with three, and techII miners.  Soon we are done, the gas clouds are gone, and sig vanishes.  Back to a nice, tidy one signature. 

Now it's time to start searching for a decent route in to import our Ravens.  I bought the Ravens yesterday; they are all ready to go in Jita, just waiting for a transshipment station to point the freighter at.  Let's see what C3a has today.

I open the hole by flying to it in my cloaky Tengu.  We have not fleeted yet, so we pause to do that.  Now Jayne can warp to me, and both of us can enter C3a.  Staticmapper, tell us highsec static!  Bzzt.  Sorry, try again.  It's lowsec yet again.  Well, there are eight sigs to look for.  We do that.  None are highsec.  Two are lowsec.  Where do they go in kspace?  Jayne pops out to look.  The better one is 26 jumps to Jita and 5 of them lowsec.  Not good enough.  Time to roll.

We back out and spike the hole.  It dies when it is predicted to, without drama.  Then we scan down the new hole, and go in.  Excellent -- highsec!  There is no live tower on dscan from the wormhole, but there are warp bubbles.  Strange.  The outer planet is outside of dscan range, so I warp out to have a look.  Uh oh.  Two active towers out here, and there are ten ships on scan, and not types one normally sees idling at towers.  There is a variety of combat ships including an Onyx.  And there are warp bubbles, and I see some cans and drones.  These guys may have a trapped tower.

I dscan from the moon I am at to locate the towers among the 6 moons.  The larger tower with six ships at it is at one moon, with lots of bubbles and assorted cans that might decloak me.  Another moon has the other tower, and it has no bubbles.  I figure that even if the locals do have traps set up around their POS, they are unlikely to have trapped the direct warp between the two POSes, since they probably want to do that.  So I warp to the safe moon first.  There is a medium POS with four ships, including the Onyx, and all are manned.   I report the manned ships on coms.  These guys seem ready for PVP.  Could it just be PVE?

Jayne has been scanning down the the system.  He reports that he has found the highsec static -- and it is completely warp-bubbled.  My first thought is that the guys are gearing up to run sites.  Maybe we can gank someone.  But what about that other tower?  Are those ships manned or not?

Not literally
I fly over, prepared to try to GTFO if I fall out of warp at a bubble and there is something close.  But there is no such problem.  Instead I see a tower in a bubble-wrap.  It has a reinforcement timer with about four hours left.  Suddenly my gestalt shifts: this is not a corp gearing for PVE action, but a siege!  Sure enough, I get info on the owner of the tower, and the ships.  They are different.  The siege appears to be a Russian corp, judging by the Cyrillic in the corp description.  That, and the timer, suit me.  It's about nine PM for me; that means in Moscow it is about five AM.  The ships we see have got to be a skeleton crew manning the siege to prevent breakouts before the timer exits.

It would kind of fun to stay around to see what happens, but I don't intend to be awake in 4 hours.  And also the Russians would probably at least bubble cage our hole, and probably pop it, to prevent us doing exactly what we might try to do if they let us.  Can we get good PVP?  Maybe, but these guys seem ready for PVP and there are a lot more of them than us.  They've already scouted us.  Nope, not good odds.  Declined.

We cannot use the highsec here.  So we are going to pop it ourselves.  It's ironic.  First highsec we get in a long time, and we can't use it.

Meanwhile, Hiljah has logged in.  This is good -- we can use two Orcas now.  So this time I let Jayne and Hiljah do the popping, while I sit in C3a and watch the wormhole and dscan.  As I tell the guys, it is unlikely that the Russians will attempt to gank us.  They don't want this connection, so as soon as they realize we are popping it (which the Orcas make clear enough), they will probably just leave us alone.  Of course they might not, and so we have me on this side, and a Falcon and Scorpion on the other.  Opsec is important.

Just as the first Orca warps to the wormhole, Jayne reports a stealth bomber in our system at the wormhole.  It traverses the wormhole.  He says attack, but I cannot lock a bomber in time, so I don't bother to try.  The bomber moves away from the wormhole and cloaks.  I expect the pilot entered our system and watched until our Orca made it clear what we were planning to do.  The Orca jumps and jumps back.  Then after a bit, the second Orca and Scorpion.

Now we wait for polarization to abate.  Dscan, dscan, etc.  Nothing on grid and nothing on dscan.  Now another Scorpion pass, and then the final Orca.  I come through just before the end.  The outward pass of the Orca destabilizes the wormhole to critical, and all is well.  The return pass pops it.

Well, we are now back to square zero.  I have my probes out even before the Orca returns, ready to search.  It takes a few moments for the discovery scanner to realize the wormhole is gone, and for the new wormhole to be created.  Then I scan it down.  I warp over, and others warp to me.  We enter.

Jayne groans as he reports the results of the staticmapper lookup: lowsec.  I am intrigued to see two ships on dscan.  There's also two towers, so the ships are probably sitting at one empty.  I'll find out.  Are they at a tower?  I narrow-beam dscan and look around.  OK, inner three planets have no moons at all.  There's a single moon on planet 4: yes, there they are.  In fact, this whole system has only two moons, total.  I know where the other tower is if I need to go there.  But I warp to the tower with the ships.

The ships are manned.  But they are just sitting there.  Their alignment tells me they have not been idle too long, so that is encouraging.  But after a minute and they are not moving, I tell the guys to start scanning.

Scan, they do.  Quickly they find a nullsec, and the static lowsec.  Jayne pops out for a look.  There's good news and bad news.  Good news is: we are 6 jumps from Jita!  Bad news: three of them are lowsec and it's faction warfare (which generally means more pilots).  But we might be able work with this.  I ask Jayne to scout the systems to the edge of highsec.  There are few people in each system, but no camps at gates.  OK, good enough.

At Jita, my alt buys 16 warp core stabilizers, and throws them in the freighter with the Raven parts.  All told, about 750 million in ships and parts.  Now I undock and trudge towards Nourvukaiken.

Meanwhile, I see one and then the other of the two pilots in C3a log out.  OK, that is handy.  No interference.

Freighting in highsec is semi-AFKable, so while I do that, I return to our home tower and ditch my Tengu.  We will pod out with four pilots to fly in our four Ravens.  Pods are almost uncatchable in lowsec, so it should be pretty safe getting to highsec.  It is the other way I worry about.  On the way out, I notice that the last lowsec system is Tama.  Tama!  It's notoriously camped, and there are 17 pilots in local.  But they are not at the gate.  No change of plans.

My alt is the first to the transshipment station.  But soon Von is there and trades him for all four Ravens and parts.  I assemble the Ravens, imaginatively naming them "Raven 1", "Raven 2", etc.  It is a real station, not a POS, so save/restore fittings works here.  That makes the process faster.  The Ravens' lowslots get a damage control and four warp core stabilizers.  Let the pirates chew on that!

Holy Ravens, Batman!
The other guys arrive in pods or rookie ships, and I hand out Ravens.  Now we are ready to go, and it's time for our mad dash across lowsec.  I fleet warp us to the Tama gate.  We jump in and... there is one pirate at the gate, red, in a Navy Hookbill.  He can't do anything to us: he won't have three scramblers fit.  And even if he did, if he aggresses the gate guns will kill him.  Conversely, we cannot do anything to him, either.  With four warp core stabs fit, our lock time on a frigate is probably 2 minutes.  We warp without interference.  I am a bit concerned about the second system -- there might have been time for a gang to organize -- but nobody is there.  And we sail on through, and finally back into the safety of wspace.  When we get back I see a local has noticed us on his dscan.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Roll, Jordan, Roll

It's later night than normal, because I have been off doing IRL stuff after work.  But Jayne is there when I log on.  I am surprised to see he has not opened the wormhole.  Jayne asks rather sheepishly where I am.  I am not sure what he is getting at, but I tell him I am in our system.  He did not see me at the tower, so he was concerned that I had logged in and he had not noticed, and then I had gone into C3a without noticing him popping the hole, and cut me off.  No, you don't see me because I logged out at a safespot in the middle of nowhere.  I really ought to do that every time.  Jayne says he has just popped out static, and it makes more sense.

We need a highsec connection, because we need to get ships in.  In particular, Ravens, which are our main PVE sleeper killers.  We are down all our PVE Ravens after last weekend's welp.  Could we move them in via lowsec?  We could; depends on how much lowsec.  But we'd really prefer highsec.  Also we have normal PI goods to go out.

So, tonight we're rolling our hole.  We are looking for a highsec connection.

I am in Artemis, my cloaky Tengu.  Since Jayne just rolled our static, I fire probes and search it down, and warp to it.  We fleet up, and I wait while Jayne warps to me.  Then I transit the hole and dscan.  Nothing interesting on scan, just a single dead tower.  Lots of sigs and anoms.  Via staticmapper, we know the C3 has a lowsec static.  Boo.  But it could be close to highsec, or there could be an incident wormhole from highsec, or from some other system that links highsec.  Also, if we are lucky we might find someone to attack.  So I fire probes and throw them out of the system.  Then I warp around to all the planets and dscan.  No towers at all other than the dead on.  I bring the probes back into the system and start searching.

Nothing interesting.  Some gas, two lowsecs, neither of which is particularly edifying.  There is a EOL wormhole; Jayne goes in to check it out anyway.  C3 with... lowsec static!  OK, let's pop it and try again.

We back out into our system, and I get our hole-popping Scorpion.  Jayne gets an alt in an Orca.  We start the hole popping process.  With two ships, it takes three passes of the Orca.  15 minutes later, we calculate the hole is just over 1/10 mass.  I send the Scorpion out heavy, destabilizing the hole to below 1/10 mass.  I bring it back heavy, and it pops.  We have a new wormhole.

I go and get Artemis again, and scan it down.  Again, in we go.  And the C3 static is.... drumroll... lowsec!  Crap.

This system is even more boring than the last: fewer sigs, and just the one lowsec wormhole.  It is six hops across lowsec to highsec, and 30 jumps to Jita.  No thanks.

And again we pop it.  Timmay and Hiljah have appeared, so I let them help out Jayne popping and scanning while I busy myself with my Jita alt buying fittings for four new Ravens.  We have all the items needed listed out in a spreadsheet, copy/pasted there from EFT.  I will be buying most of it, but some of the fittings I have squirreled away from various spaceships we have decommissioned.  So for each fitting, I have to check two different station containers, moving stuff to the "Load 1" container if I find it.  If none are already owned, or not enough, then I go on the market and buy the remaining number needed.  For a list of varying multiples of 4, of 12 different parts.  This takes a bit of time.  (Someday, CCP will automate the buying of a fit.  Oh, I long for those days.)

I am done buying Ravens.  I run out to a training station and back to buy a skillbook.  And... there's nothing left to do until I know where to pilot the freighter.  So, I stop paying attention to my alt and return to being Von in wspace.

Meanwhile, the guys have searched the static -- lowsec again -- and popped it to get a new system.  They go in, and... lowsec.  Double drat.  As always we look for wormholes and pilots.  They find no highsec and nobody to kill.  OK, one more try tonight then we give up and declare ourselves not fated to connect tonight.

I am first in to the wormhole.  I dscan, and... Cyrillic.  Russian, meaning they are probably not home.  Again we consult staticmapper and yet again it's a lowsec static.  As usual, I fire probes and throw them out of the system, while I warp around first to the inner system and then the outer.  Again, nobody is home.  I search down the system, with Timmay helping.  There are only six sigs, so this goes fast.  We find the lowsec static.  We don't find any other wormholes.

It's getting late for some of us, and this is boring.  We give up.  I would like to run a few sites but, oh yeah, we need our PVE Ravens.  Absent those we could use Tengus or Drakes, but I'd really prefer not.  So we call it a night.

I may give the impression that EVE in wspace is full of excitement, or at least that there is always something interesting to do.  If you count rolling a wormhole as interesting, then yes.  But otherwise, no.  There are occasionally nights where there is nothing happening.  That's when it's good to have an alt somewhere else, or to have a life outside of EVE.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bookmark Naming for Wormholes

Since my corp has a few new guys, I've noticed a certain variance in our wormhole nomenclature spring up in corp bookmarks.  So I thought I'd write down how I do things.  Maybe this will be of use to other wormholers too.  Credit for the system designations goes to Penny, or whoever she got it from.  Note that I have not read anything, if there is anything, which she has written about it.  I don't even know that she uses it in her bookmarks, though I suspect so.  I just took it and used it.

If you bookmark a wormhole's signature, you will get by default the label "Unstable Wormhole".  This is what I use.  If you have multiple instances of any bookmark string in the same system, then append a space and "2", "3", etc. to distinguish the later ones.  If you are fairly certain that the wormhole is closed (which is only likely in the home system), then append " (not opened)".  This clues your corpmates that you have not flown to the thing yet, and that you think it is uninstantiated, and we may want to keep it closed.  Note that when scanning down a system, I usually fly to all wormholes when I find them, so that I can bookmark the wormhole itself (see below), and not the signature.  When you do this, don't bookmark the signature.  If you do bookmark a sig and then later fly to it, remove the bookmark to the signature because it is confusing.

All wormholes should be bookmarked as "Wormhole ", which the game will put there for you when you save the bookmark for it, and then the link type.  The link type is the class of the originating system, then a "->", then the "designation" of the destination system.  (This "designation" is the bit I got from Penny.)  The first system you find at a particular level of wspace is the "a" system of that level.  Then "b", "c", etc.  Thus, our home system is always C4a; our static (even if not yet scanned down) is C3a, since we know it always exists.  As a special rule, the "a" can be left off of bookmarks when they are the most common ones, namely, the two endpoints of our static wormhole.  But otherwise, it's a good idea to put it there.

So, for example, say that there is a C2 system connecting to our home system, and it's the first C2 we have discovered that evening.  On our side (home, aka C4a), we would bookmark the wormhole:
Wormhole C4->C2a
In C2a, we would bookmark the wormhole back home:
Wormhole C2->C4a
Highsec, lowsec, and nullsec are designated "hs", "ls", and "ns" respectively.  So you would bookmark a typical C3's lowsec static as:
Wormhole C3->ls
Finally, there are a few optional appendments to the scheme to mark information relevant to wormholes.  (Yeah, I know "appendment" is not a word.)  These are end-of-life state "(EOL)", disrupted "(DIS)", and new "(NEW)".  You put these at the end of the bookmark text if they are relevant.  So, if you find a disrupted highsec static in C2a, you'd bookmark it as:
Wormhole C2->hs (DIS)
For EOL, if you know when the wormhole was first instantiated, then you should modify the existing bookmark by appending "(EOL)".  If you don't know when the wormhole was instantiated, then you should create a new bookmark as above, and remove the original.  The reason for this is that timestamps on bookmarks are informative here.  If you fly to an EOL wormhole and are wondering how much time you have, you can look at the timestamp and get informed.  If it is, say, 14 hours ago on a 16 hour wormhole, then it's probably safe to go in for 2 hours. If the timestamp is recent (zero to six hours ago), then it's probably not safe beyond a very short time.

NEW is a designation for wormholes that you know you instantiated.  You may come to know this in two ways: one, it's a static and you popped the last instance of it, or two, you get info on a 24-hour wormhole when you first warp to it and it has the rarely-seen "more than a day" time to live.  The reason for marking NEW wormholes is the same as marking EOL: to allow us to know when they will die.  Note that as a special laziness rule, I never actually mark as NEW our own static.  I also rarely mark anything NEW except on the weekend, because there is no chance I am coming back the next day on workdays.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Vision Chimerical

Tonight I am ice mining in Otela.  Mostly reading a book; don't tell James 315.  But I am around to run back to the station every so often.  The ice is getting low, so I start to pay a bit more attention.  I see a big ship in the middle of the ice.  It's not an Orca.  What is it?  I look at the ship list.  Oh, it's a Chimera.  And it's in my fleet.

... what??

Yup.  Never seen a capital in highsec before, other than the one at that silly Live Event that CCP ran.  So naturally I took a picture.

The Chimera had a guy with him firing fireworks.  I remarked on the capital in fleet chat.  Eventually he started shooting me.  Pretty.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bad Opsec Gets Paid

It's the weekend.  Jayne is around during the day, and we've got a C3 static with some sites.  So, what the heck, let's make some ISKies.  We get our mains and alts into Ravens and Drakes, ready to stomp some sleepers.

This morning, I've been in C3 and searched it all down.  It's got no anoms at all, except an ore site.  The locals must be doing them -- but they have left two Relic sites with nasty 1300 DPS final waves.  And a lot of gas; evidently they don't gas mine.  There is just one wormhole incident other than ours: the nullsec static.  I looked out there, and there were people in the system.  But that's all right -- nullies never come up into wspace. 

We traverse the wormhole, and check the number of sigs -- it's correct.  Thanks, discovery scanner!  We are not totally safe, but with only nullsec to bother us (and they never do), we feel pretty safe.  We warp to the first site, and start running it.

The last wave is indeed nasty.  The pesky frigates warp scramble my Drake and the sleeper battleships are nossing me.  My team is shield repping me, but we don't have enough to keep pace.  The first frigate falls to my missiles.  I am almost tapped out of capacitor, and that will be bad, as it will shut off my active tank.  Now I start on the last frigate, and it's not dying fast enough.  Die, scum.  Beep beep beep -- the capacitor is empty.  I align to a nearby planet.  The frigate dies, I am released, and I warp.  My shields are at 25%.  Whew.

Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet has been killing down the DPS.  One sleeper battleship down, then two, and the site is pretty much done.  I warp back in as the Noctis glides in to salvage.  We have to sit around a while anyway, and boost up our shields to full according to SOP.  The Noctis finishes, and moves off to hide.  We sit a bit longer to recover capacitor.  Then we go to the second site.

This time, the third wave goes easier.  The sleepers are beating hard on my alt's Raven.  I kill the sleeper frigates with my Drake, and my alt aligns... he pulls drones... but just as he is about to warp, the sleepers switch to another battleship.  That's nice.  We finish the site soon enough.  We're sitting around boosting, and the Noctis has started salvaging.

That's when I notice a Loki and Arazu on grid, about 17km off.  Uh oh, fight.  Are they going to attempt to kill our Noctis out from under us?  That's my first thought, having done something like that myself.  I don't recall exactly what an Arazu is, but I seem to recall it as a cloaky T2, probably not too much tank.  So I call it primary and start locking it.  I get heavy missiles going, then hobgoblins and my alt's Raven's systems.  They are warp scrambling us.  Not good.

Then Falcons appear and start jamming us, and many T3s are on grid.  Shortly, pretty much everyone is jammed.  Strangely they have no interdiction bubbles.  They are not going after my drake; just keeping it scrambled.  The enemy proceeds in order, cutting us down one after the other.  We can't do anything through the jams, and have no real escape capacity.  They kill off my alt's Raven, and I am surprised to see no warp bubble.  So my alt's pod escapes.  I have a moment unjammed, and I notice there's an enemy pod.  We must have gotten someone, the Arazu as it turns out.  I try to lock the pod, figuring it's the only thing on grid I can alpha.  But I am jammed before my lock completes, and I remain permajammed the rest of the slaughter.  Everyone else is dead.  Then I get all the DPS.  Not long then... and boom.

Still no bubble -- weird.  I gtfo to a customs office, then warp off homeward.  I want to tell the enemy "Nice ambush" (actually, I just spew out "nicce" with my adrenaline-shaking fingers), and then the customary gf -- Good Fight.  The enemy good-fights us back as a courtesy.  Really, it was not on our side.  We were caught flatfooted and slow to react.  Whereas they pulled off a nice ambush.  I never saw their guys until they were on grid.  I was dscanning, but obviously not enough.  So much for my theory of nullies never attack in wspace.

Jayne gets a bomber and goes back, and takes a few runs at their Noctis, which they've brought in to clean up.  But he cannot do anything.

Lessons: usually I am better about operational security, but this time I got complacent.  Always put a cloaked scout to watch every incident wormhole, or zip it up.  We didn't do that this time, and we paid the price.  Also, always flee whenever you see any significant force land on grid where you do not expect it and cannot fight back.  It is true that we happened to get that Arazu, but that is all.  If we had fled immediately, we might have at least gotten a few Ravens out.  As it was, we lost everything there and were spared losing our pods, too, only by the unusual choice of the enemy not to bring interdiction.