Friday, November 29, 2013

Ghost Site Success

It's another day, and another static C3a that connects to nullsec.  This means another shot at ghostbusting.

In a very strange coincidence, the wormhole connects to the exact same system that I was in a few days back when I was ghostbusting.  Weird.  I set off vaguely north.

After about 10 systems of nothing, I head south for a bit to do a small loop I have bypassed.  At the last system, I turn around and burn the 15km to the gate.  But when I am still 11k off, a guy "black top" lands on grid; another Tengu.  Is he after me?  I doubt he can stop me in time, but I take no chances and cloak anyway.   As I drift up to the gate, he jumps.  On the other side, I hold gate cloak for a while until I feel silly.  Then I just warp and cloak.

I am running parallel with black top for a while, which is not surprising since there are no branches yet.  I wonder if he is ghostbusting too.  After two systems, we get to SNFV-I.  Ecidently he goes another direction.  I keep heading north.  Two hops later, I enter MY-WV1; I'm alone again, and there is a ghost site!

I warp to it, anxious that black top will come this way.  But he is not in system by the time I am on site.  I lock up the four cans and start scanning them.  In one there is a 'Wetu' mobile depot blueprint.  That may actually have some value.  (Later I look it up: sell price at Jita is 40m ISK, probably dropping fast.)  No ascendancy implants.  I head over and start hacking.

PVP danger
I am expect the "hard" minigame.  That is the one that is typical in nullsec (at least in my limited experience).  But instead it is the "medium" difficulty minigame, featuring 50/20 firewalls and none of the nasty nodes.  I tear across the minigame map and find the core!  Woo!  Click click, and I can loot the can.  Cha-small-ching!

This was fast; I hope there is time to do a second can.  I head across 20km to the nearest can, but before I arrive the Serpentis spawn appears.  I head off into space as they warp scramble me and start shooting.  As I flee, waiting for the 30 seconds or so, I notice local and I see that black top has just entered the system.  That's a bit scary -- he may notice the ghost site and perhaps fly to it, and here I am warp scrambled.  Still, it should take him time to arrive and I will probably be cloaked by then.  In any case, he does not appear.  The Serpentis damage my shields a bit, then leave.  I immediately cloak.  Instead of warping off, I hang out to see if black top will appear on the site.  But he does not after about 20 seconds, and that's probably as long as it should take him.  The site has despawned so he cannot even try.  So I continue northwards.

ghostbusters that pass in the night
The next system, he speaks in local.  Asks what I got.  So he did see the site was there.  I tell him I got a 'Wetu', just as I jump 4M-HGL, and lose him.

Now I head north then west (directions in terms of where they are on dotlan), all the way to E3-SDZ, and find no sites.  Then I head back towards the cluster to the east.  I have skipped on site on the way, B-XJX4, which I hit this direction.  Ghost site!  And nobody here again.

I do the now standard procedure for unopposed ghost sites.  Warp to the site, lock the cans, scan them all looking for something good.  There is another mobile depot blueprint, but no Ascendancies.   I burn over to the can with the blueprint, setting an orbit for 2500m in case I need to GTFO.  I am hopeful that it will be another medium minigame.  But it is not.  It's hard.  I hit one Restoration Node, then a second.  But I get some good utilities.  I click across the map, and before I even have to use a utility, hey, there is is.  System Core.

Just as I find the core, the pirates arrive.  OK, I have to get the stuff fast!  Kill the node: click click click, and it dies.  Now I can loot the can -- but I can't!  Crap!  I am too far.  I am orbiting at 2700 because of my earlier order!  OK, "loot".  Seconds tick away.  I have the can selected, hitting "loot", "loot", over and over.  My ship turns to the can, ever so slowly, as the pirates lock me and start shooting.  I am sure I can tank this long enough, but will they explode my loot?

All at once, I get the loot window, and the can blows up, and I loot it.  Did I get the loot?  I did.  OK, maybe I got the order wrong there, but honestly I am not sure.   I burn off, and the pirates get me down to about 30% before they warp.  Whew.  Lesson learned: in future, I will orbit the can at 1000m, not 2500m. 

The rest of the run yields no further sites.  I return to my wormhole, and enter C3a.  As I am crossing it, I pay attention to my loot and I notice that the second mobile depot blueprint I got is not another "Wetu", as I had thought.  It's a "Yurt".  A quick look at Jita via my Jita alt shows the price: 450m (also most likely still dropping like a stone).  Whoa.  A good run.

Ghostbusting has more potential for those of my modest skills than I thought.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Smoked Out

Thanksgiving approaches.  This is a big holiday for us of the USA flavor of American.  And since my corp are Americans, it means I am not sure who can play today.  But I know Jayne can, and I am eager to run some sites in our system.

I log on and nobody else is on.  My alt in the Forge starts up on mining missions, grinding some standings.  I take a look at wspace.

Obviously someone was on earlier, because our static has been scanned down.  It's marked as "not opened", though, so that is good.  We should be zipped up by now.  Maybe I can do some wspace mining.  But wait.  There are three sigs.  One is the static.  Another is a radar site that's been here a few days.  But what of the last?  I don't recall any other sig.  I look at corp bookmarks: only two sigs known. Time to scan.

I get in my scanning Buzzard and warp off to launch probes.  In a minute, I have the new sig: it's a wormhole.   Rats; we are not zipped up. I fly to it.  "Dangerous unknown", and it is red.  So it is a wormhole from C5 wspace.  It might be an opportunity, for gassing the best wspace gas.  Depends on who is there.  And there is only one way to find that out.  I enter the wormhole.

On the other side, dscan shows a rather active system.  There is the expected tower.  But there are also sleeper wrecks.  And ships, including T3s and an Archon.  I burn off the hole and cloak, and hope they did not see me.  But who are they?  Are some, or all of the ships actually unoccupied?  (Generally I find higher level wspace residents do not leave ships out on the lawn, except capitals.  But I can hope.)  I get my narrow-beam dscan and find the planet with the tower.  Then I warp there, and quickly narrow down the tower's location via moon distances.  I fly there.  Yes, some ships are manned.  There is a Sabre.  There are two Ventures on scan, but they are not here.  I look at the anoms, but there are no rocks.  So maybe there is gas after all.

I warp to the outer system to look for ships, wrecks and towers.  There is a tower here too, but no ships.  I find the tower, then fly to a random moon to deploy probes.  I throw them out of the system.  Now I fly back to the wormhole to see if they have seen me.

The Sabre is at the wormhole.  Yep, they saw me.  I see a stealth bomber warp on grid, then cross.  And then an assault frigate.  Uh oh, this is starting to look rather bad for me.  I'll just sit here and let them get bored; that's my plan.  Is it a good plan?  Well, I am not desperate.  None of my corpmates is on, and with these guys running around we cannot do anything (except maybe PVP, and probably lose, but we would probably try something).  Well.  Might as well scan.

There are five sigs, but none of these turn out to be useful to me.  Three data or relic sites which I don't scan down all of.  The wormhole out, of course.  And a gas.  I hope it is a nice high-level wspace one.  Maybe they will go to bed soon and I can come back later and suck out their gas.

The last site I scan is indeed a gas site.  I get it at 100%, then fly to it at 100 to have a look.  I decide to pull my probes, and hope that they will forget about me.  Sure enough, the Ventures are here.  The Ventures are mining... C28 and/or C32.  Hmm.  With this my interest in the system, already low, drops to zero.

Time to get out.  If I can.  I fly to the wormhole at 50 to see what they are doing.  There is the Sabre, still there.

An Orca warps on grid.  And then a Scorpion.  And Dominix.  Uh oh.
I'm screwed
Wspace residents will know exactly what that means.  The C5 guys are about to pop the wormhole.  This would be great if I were on the other side.  But here I am on this side.  And getting out is going to be hard, running a gauntlet.  The battleships are not a problem.  The T2 frigates are.  Seboed up, they can lock me in a second.  Sabres can also make warp bubbles, to prevent me easily warping off the wormhole.

The Orca crosses, then returns, and cloaks.  The battleships do similarly, and the wormhole is destabilized.  So, I have some small time to work with: five minutes.  Then they will do it again and I will be trapped in here.

Now, that would not be the end of the world.  I would scan out, probably beating the C5 guys (or at least tying them), and make a clean getaway into some other C4.  And then I'd have to scan out of that, perhaps into lower wspace, and then do it again, finally getting out into known space.  I'd be somewhere, maybe highsec, maybe null.  There might be a tedious flight back to highsec.  Then I'd have to scan out of my system with an alt, and then warp my main across highsec to get back.  I have done this before, and it's not much fun.

I think I will take my chances.  If they kill me, it's a bother, but it's just a Buzzard.  (If I was in a T3, I'd not take the chance.)  I figure my chances are decent.  Should I break for it it now?  Not yet.  I have an idea...

I warp off to a nearby customs office, then back to the hole at 100.  I make a bookmark, then warp offgrid again, and back to the bookmark at 100.  Now I am at 200km, more or less.  I have a perch.  I can warp to the hole from here.  And I wait.  I am waiting to see the Orca again.  When it jumps, I will warp to the hole and jump.  Hopefully, the C5 gang on the other side will be exiting with it, or even slightly before it, with at least a few of their ships.  Or at least they may be somewhat confused and I can escape.

I watch.  And there! -- there is the Orca.  I align to the hole to get ready.  And... the Orca disappears.  Did it jump?  I am not sure, but I am not going to take the chance.  I warp to the hole.  The hole uncloaks me, and I jump.  What will I find?

On the other side is just the Saber.  No Orca.  The Sabre appears to be orbiting the wormhole; fortunately for me, it is on the opposite side about as far from me as can be.  I want to move fast, before the guys on the other side can come through and help.  I am about 1900m from the wormhole, so there are good odds I can cloak.  I order an orbit at 20, then turn on my microwarp to burn away from the wormhole, and hit cloak.  But I don't actually cloak.  The guy is fast, and he has locked me.  Crap.  Prospects deteriorating.

Nice try, mate!
I order a warp to a random customs office, first one I see.  Fire hits me, dropping my shield to half.  Well, there are no bubbles, at least.  So I am preparing to warp out my pod, when... I warp.

I'm alive!  Joy!

(In retrospect, my guess is the guy did not have a long point, and I got out of his warp scrambling range in time.  I don't know why he did not fire a bubble other than the whole thing took about three seconds.)

I say something in local and he gives a dick reply.  Well, gf to you anyway, friend.  Then I warp back to the wormhole at 50.  A dscan shows someone has probes out.  Are they going to hang around?  The scorpion comes through.  Both ships leave.  And the wormhole disappears.  The probes are gone too.

Bye bye, random C5 guys.  Nice attempt at smoking me out: it worked.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Economics of C4 PVE

Last night my corp had an ideal system for running sites.  It was a connected C4 system packed with anoms, many of which are the best type, and totally zipped up.  We exploited it to the max.  So, how much does it pay, running C4 sites?

We have found that a typical C4 anom will earn about 100m ISK in salvage and blue loot.  There is a lot of variance, because about half of the value is the salvage and it has a strong element of chance.  There is really only one salvage part that is worth much: melted nanoribbons.  If you get lucky on melted nanoribbons, you get more than average.  C4 radar and data sites are considerably harder sites, and they earn more.  Perhaps 120m average in blue loot and salvage.  You can also get perhaps 60m from can-cracking in relic sites, which is worth doing.  The minigames for C4 data/relic sites are the hardest ones in the game, so their earning rate is not great without maximum skills.  Data site cans are not worth it, although with a cargo scanner you can probably select only the relatively high value cans and earn a decent rate on a few cans.

Last night we completed 13 combat anoms, and another 2 radar sites.  So we would expect to earn about 1.5 billion, and we did.

How long did this take?  We started right at 8:00 with three of us.  Hiljah joined about 9:15.  We ended some time around 11:30; perhaps 11:15.

Using 11:30 for a conservative estimate, three of us spent 3.5 hours each.  Hiljah, 2.25 hours.  Four players; what did we earn per player?  We earned about 117m per man-hour.  What did we get per-character?  We used nine characters: two logis, one salvager, one fleet booster, and five DPS.  Thus,we earned 52m per character-hour.

There was some inefficiency in our setup.  Our salvager was not busy 100% of the time.  Adding DPS would increase his rate of earning a bit by keeping him busy more of the time.  And of course the logistics have very little DPS.  So, by adding a few more DPS characters we might get a moderate improvement.  (In fact we left one radar site untouched for lack of time.)

We Make Bank in C4

It's Sunday, and I have a spare hour.  Let's see what's shaking in EVEland.

I go out ghostbusting again, in Catch this time.  I scour from 4-07MU to HP-64T and back, finding a single ghost site on the way back.  Nobody in local.  I try to run it, but as before fail the minigame and blammo.  Nothing to show.  I think I need better skills to make any ISK this way.

In the nullsec system where my wspace exit hole is, there are two sigs.  I have not been paying attention to them, but since I am headed back in anyway I search it down, and it is a relic site.  Hmm.  I don't have an analyzer fit, but I have one in my hold, along with a mobile depot.  I am eager to try it out.

I make a safespot, then fly to it.  I launch the depot for myself.  It then counts down 40 seconds or so, and I can refit.  Very handy.  Unfortunately, I do not have the analyzer I thought I did.  Oh well, I grab the depot back in (which takes no time), and head back to wspace.

I get back into my home system with several hours to go on our wormhole.  There is a new signature in our system.  Dutifully I move out, fire probes, and search it down.  Another wormhole.  I fly to it, and examine it.   It is a K162 from "dangerous unknown" space, and it is yellow.  This means it comes from C4.

Do I enter it and search it down?  Or should I refit and head out to get that relic site?  I decide to have a look.  At the least I can trigger all the sites.

I enter.  C4b is a black hole system (yuck), and there is no tower on scan.  Sixteen anoms, and eleven sigs.  Whoever lives here has not been very active.  I fire probes and throw them out of the system, then I bookmark the wormhole and check the system map.  I can see all the inner planets, of which there are four.  But there is an outer planet.  I warp out to it to check for towers: no towers.  This system is unoccupied.  Not too surprising given the black hole and the many sites.

Now I bring in my probes and start scanning.  I expect to find at least one more wormhole, because whoever activated the wormhole I came through (an X877), had to get into this system somehow.  I find lots of gas.  Gas, gas, gas, data, gas, gas, gas, data, relic, gas.  Um... that's all of them.  And no wormhole!  (Not other than the one connecting to my system.)

This is a fantastic bit of luck.  It means that in a few hours when our static wormhole expires, without lifting a finger, my corp will have a completely zipped up duo of systems -- and one of them packed full of juicy sleepers to kill.  But right now I have to go work in the real world.

Back into the real virtual world.  I am still the only person in my corp around, but I can make some ISK by myself.  Our static wormhole is gone.  In C4b there are seven gas sites including two intermediate ones.  And also three ore sites.  I triggered all of them earlier; I always trigger all sites in C4.  So their sleepers will be present.  I refit into a Drake and head out.  I check the number of signatures: it will be eleven if nothing has changed.  It will be twelve or more if a new site (likely a wormhole) has appeared.  It's eleven.  Nothing has changed.

The lesser sites I can solo in a Drake.  Usually I can also solo the harder ones, but today the damage is too much.  (I have the feeling the sleepers are moving faster due to the black hole and that is reducing my damage.)  Anyway, I warp out the Drake and come back in a Venture to salvage.  Then I come back to finish the last two sites in a Tengu.  All told, about 50m in loot.  And again I have attend to the real world.

Zooming around the anchor as sleepers perish
And back again.  Now, with sleepers gone, I can suck gas.  I log characters on both my accounts and warp over to the wormhole, and transit.  Are there still 11 signatures?  There are.  Nothing new; it is safe.  I warp to two different C50 clouds and set to it.

I'll be busy as long as I want.  The system has clouds of C50, C72, C28, and C32.  I fill one Venture and run back home, and return.  Right after that, Jayne logs in.  I fill him in on the situation; he gets two more characters gas-mining.   Jayne pings Timmay while I ping Hiljah.  We extract more gas for my reactions.  We manage to clean out one of the sites entirely.  So, ten sites to ignore.

About 7:30, Timmay shows.  Jayne and I could start running sites in C4b by ourselves, but having one more person (two more characters) makes it much easier.  Now we load up, checking missiles and whatnot, in our standard sleeper-killing fleet.  Ravens and Ospreys, although Timmay flies a Rokh and a Noctis.

The sites left after the first hour
We're ready, and off we go at just about 8:00.  I fleet-warp us to the wormhole and we jump on contact.  I check to make there are ten sigs.  There are ten sigs.  And I warp us to the first of eight Frontier Barracks.  The slaughter commences.  Silly sleepers!  Run!  Actually, no, don't.  I need your melted nanoribbons and blue loot.  Those highsec corps are idiots to buy it, but that's not my fault.

We work through the Barracks, which are mostly in the inner system.  I time one: almost exactly 10 minutes.  Hiljah appears at about 9:15; we are almost through the Barracks.  There is one in the outer system, but with the outer planet 60 AU away, I am going to do all the sites out there together.  So I target the three sites remaining in the inner system: one more Barracks, a Sleeper Information Sanctum, and an Unsecured Frontier Digital Nexus.  With Hiljah adding two more DPS-chucking Ravens, these drop quickly.  The Nexus is not completed; you have to trigger the later two waves by messing with a can and failing.  We'll come back and do that later.

Now we warp to the outer system and start in the sites.  First the Barracks, and then all the Frontier Command Posts.  These have a lot of frigates, and take a bit longer than Barracks do.  Still, ISK is ISK.  And the other Digital Nexus.

By the time we through all these sites, it is about 10:45 and the natives are getting restless.  It's enough.  We take a short break.  I fly the fleet to a safespot, then I eject from my Osprey and pod home to get a Heron to trigger the two data sites.  (Are there still three sigs in the home system?  There are.  OK good.)  Jayne takes the loot so far back for safekeeping: over a billion ISK.

I fly back to trigger the data sites.  The first site triggers on the second try.  I have a brief moment of excitement when my Heron hits the nearby sleeper-structure and does not warp out quickly.  The sleepers red-box me, but they are too far off to hurt me before I warp.  The second site takes quite a few failed hacks to trigger.  I am on the 6th try when the sleepers appear.  I warp off easily.

Back to the safespot, and I reship back into the Osprey.  The fleet is ready, and we compete the two data sites.  These are notable for the damage they deal in the final wave: four Sleepless Safeguards with 1928 DPS that scram, web, and neut.  Nasty.  But our hard tanks and the Ospreys can handle that easily.

We wrap it up trying to hack a talocan artifact.  This works, but the guys miss a single can which evidently had the good stuff.  Too bad.  The total take for the night is 1.5 billion ISK of salvage and blue loot.  During the day I got another 50m or so of the same, and we got perhaps 100m in gas as well.  A banner day for Complex Systems.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Fail Some More Ghost Sites

It's the day after yesterday.  Well, it always is, but the yesterday in question had me leaving off out in Stain, having found an unused section of null where I found two ghost sites.  I did not get anything from either.  One despawned before I even saw it; the other one had nothing special in any can, and someone in local.  Not worth the risk of hacking.  I have a bit of time to play this morning, so I figure to find some more.  This time, I hope to get some actual loot.

I set off, on pretty much the same path as yesterday but backwards.  And voila -- two jumps in, I find a ghost site!  Nobody in local!  Huzzah.  I warp to it, decloak, and then start scanning cans.  And it's almost a replay of yesterday: nothing much in any can.  However, today I have nobody to stop me, so I might as well go for it and see if I can hack a can.  Or who knows, two.

I burn over to a can, and start hacking.  Ugh -- restoration node.  Kill it, ouch.  Onward.  80/20 firewalls everywhere, and another restoration node.  Kill it.  More clicking, and I get a utility.  More clicking, another restoration node.  I have almost lost.  A few more clicks for desperate hope, and it is done.  My virus is too weak to prevail.  I head towards another can, and exit the minigame.  Boom!  The can blows and knocks off 20% of my shields.

As I am right in the middle of the site, suddenly I am in amidst a bunch of red crosses.  The timer is up: Serpentis pirates arrive.  I veer away from them, afterburner almost full ramped.  They shoot me and knock off another third of the shields or so, then swoosh, they all take off in all directions.  (Once again I admire this effect.)

Another ghost site, another failure.  I set out again.

And, next system: another ghost site!  Again, nobody.  Again, I warp over and scan all the cans.  Now something new: a can with actual treasure.  A 'wetu' mobile depot blueprint!  An ascendancy gamma blueprint! 
Ooh.  I head to it.  I enter the minigame.  It is the same hard minigame.  This one I do better on, but I still don't find the core.  I fail again.  Sighing, I head towards another can, and all that nice treasure explodes (and takes a chunk of shields).  Then the same thing happens as before: before I can get to a second can, the timer is out, and the pirates blow the site.

I don't find any more gas sites today.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Ghost Site Disappoints

Two nights ago, I went ghostbusting in Stain.  Skunked.  Last night, I did it again in lowsec, out to the EVE gate.  Very few people around, but no ghosts.  Skunked again.

Tonight I fly again.  (I need to think of a name for my exploration Tengu.  Nosey, perhaps.)  Tonight our static C3 has a lowsec, and it comes down in Harner, which is in a corner of Solitude.  I scan down the local system.  Nobody is here but me.  There's a data site, which I run, to modest gain.  And there are two lowsec gas sites.  One has a low-value gas.  But the other... Celadon Cytoserocin.  Currently second most valuable gas in the game.  I think about it a while, then log out to bring in my farming alt.  (He has better gas skills than Von does.)

I mine on and off for a while, twice interrupted by people entering the system.  I mine the gas orbiting at 1000, so it is easy to move off and cloak.  Jayne shows up later and brings down two characters; we suck it dry quickly.  Now back into wspace, dump gas, and change characters.

Back to my original plan.  Ghostbusting.  Where?  Well, let's see if highsec Solitude is well populated.  I would not mind finding a site there first to run, so I could get the feel of it.  But that's unlikely unless it is pretty abandoned, and I just don't know how populous the place is.  So I set course for Gererique.  All of the systems I go through have people in them, lowsec and highsec.  So, I guess this is not the place to bust.  OK, plan adaptation: I am heading for nullsec.  Fortunately, Solitude borders nullsec.  So I can get into Syndicate in just a few jumps.  OK, off I go.

I am a little bit scared of a camp at the border, but I have been this way before and there was none.  (There was a camp going the other direction coming from contiguous empire, but I am not going there.)  And today there is none.  Also no ghost site, but now I am into null and there is nobody here.  So things are looking good.  I am planning to hit the local cluster here, since I don't have a lot of time.

Angry Concord Guy never sleeps.
When I enter Iggy (as I think of I-YGGI), there is a ghost site!  It shows up on my scanner as a normal combat anom, named "Improved Serpentis Covert Research...".  But there's also another player.  Hmm.  I order a warp to the site anyway, and cloak immediately.

Before I leave grid, I see the other player on grid.  He's leaving.  Nice!  It's all mine!  Except... it isn't.  I get a popup for the ghost site when I warped to it, but when I land, there is no ghost site.  And it has disappeared from my list of anoms.  Hmm.  My guess is, the guy I saw leaving just ran the site and left.  It despawned between when I warped and landed. 

A minimalist site -- very un-CCP-like
That's a disappointment.  Nothing to do but keep looking.  I set course north.  Two hops later, in A-ZLHX, I get lucky again!  Another ghost site.  And also another player.  I warp to the site, cloaked.  Here is what it looks like: there are four cans in a square, with about 20km between cans.  You warp into the center of it, I think.  (I warped to 10, being cautious, and ended up near the lower-left can.)  Above each can is a flavor object (bunker, small tower).

I sit for a second gathering my thoughts.  I do not really want to run the site with anyone in local.   On the other hand, if she is in local in a frigate maybe I can kill her when she comes to the site.  So I look at dscan for her: no ship appears.  I check out the system: it's all in range.  This makes me suspect she is cloaked.  But then I notice there is a station.  OK, she's probably there.  No way for me to check, though.  And it's been long enough that I doubt she is going to come in a frig.

Well, Nosey is designed to run away pretty well.  And I can't just sit here.  So, I mentally formulate and rehearse my escape plan, and then uncloak and start scanning cans.  I will want to get the can with the best stuff first, since it may be all I have time for.  First can: some minerals and some junk.  Second can: junk.  Third can: junk.  Fourth can: minerals and junk.

Hmm.  Should I hack for basically nothing?  I would if alone, but it's not a good risk:reward proposition.  So I don't.  Still, I am curious to see what will happen.  So I back off from all four cans, and wait.

It all goes down as I have read on the forums. After about a minute and a half, Serpentis pirates appears.  I am cloaked so they are no problem.  Shortly, they blow up all the cans, and then they warp off in all directions.  (I don't think I have ever seen NPCs do this; it's kind of cool.)

I have a look at the rest of the small area I am in.  No more ghost sites.  And that is about it for my play time tonight.  Then I decide to log off here, so I can try again tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wormhole Noise to be Fixed

A quick note for wspace denizens.  Since Rubicon, you may have noticed, as my corp has, the complete absence of wormhole sounds.  This obviously makes sound-based pickets useless, which would be a fairly dramatic change to wspace life.  Well: this has been reported to CCP and, according to CSM rep Chitsa Jason, it is a bug which they intend to fix.


A Ghostbusting Bust

Rubicon day 2.  Last night, I noticed the market spikes in PI goods that Rubicon has caused.  Since we make some of them, and had a big load ready to export, the corp pitched in and did a supply run and return.  We made a nice windfall, too.  But I did not have time to really play with Rubicon much.  (The log in screen is spiffy.)

Tonight, I am eager to go out and find a ghost site.  I have my fit all dreamed up, but not yet created.  So the first thing to do is find my way out of wspace.  I spend a while scanning.  C3a has a highsec; very handy.  But the highsec is quite a few jumps to Jita.  I keep looking.  There is a second C4 linked to C3a, which I go into so I can activate all the things.  Just doing my part.  And there is also a C2 link.  I go to scan down C2a; it also has a highsec.  But there are some live pilots, so I go and get my Manticore to watch a while.  They don't do anything foolish, though, so eventually I give up and scan the system down.  There are four sigs, and three of them are wormholes.  There's the C3 connection I came in, but also the expected highsec static, and a nullsec.  Oooh, nullsec is nice.  This is just what I was hoping for: an easy way out to null for some ghostbusting.  The highsec is just four jumps to Jita.  That is also quite handy.  Clearly, Bob wants me to go ghostbusting out in null tonight.

I go back home to get Artemis, my cloaky Tengu.  She's fallen on hard times; I don't use her much any more.  I keep getting killed in her and not getting kills.  She's going to be converted to my ghostbusting fit.  (Artemis will return as a Loki, real soon now.)  I exit without running into anything nasty in C2a, and head to Jita.  Buy this, buy that.  My trade alt is sitting idle in The Forge, so I bring him back to trade a few items I know I have.  Gradually the fit takes shape.  I also get parts for a similar exploration fit, and a spiffy new mobile depot (1.8m and dropping.)  Now I am ready to go.

I fly back through highsec to the highsec entrance to C2a, and go in.  Nobody around, so I warp to the nullsec wormhole, and transit.  And I am... where?  Out in Stain somewhere.  JS-E8E.  Nobody in system, so that is nice.  But no ghost site.  Don't forget to bookmark the wormhole on this side!

OK, time for dotlan maps.  I have a Firefox window dedicated; I raise it and type in JS-E8E and... nothing.  Try again.  Nope, dotlan is down.  Argh!

Um.... help?  I realize with a small shock how hopelessly reliant I am on dotlan.  I am dropping out into lowsec and nullsec in new locations every day.  (I try to get dotlan again; still nothing.)  I am never going to memorize where I roam; I have to use maps.  I certainly cannot navigate using the in-game map -- that's too painful.  But I recall there is another map I have seen out there on the Internet.  So I do a search and call it up -- Ombey's.  It is a static map -- nowhere near as useful as dotlan.  But still, I can use it.  I find the Stain map and determine my direction: from JS-E8E to G-ME2K.  Let's go.
Where I was, and Ghosts were not.

I warp to the first system, TG-Z23.  Two in local, no ghost site.  Oh well.  Off to a side branch.  Nobody and nothing.  Back to the main path.  Hop.  Nothing.  Hop.  Nothing.

WHOOOSH!  OK, the engine noise is annoyingly loud.  I am zoomed in all the way.  Were they always this loud?  I don't think so, but then I never zoom in this much.  I zoom out.  Jump.  Warp to next gate.  WHOOOSH!  Wait -- I am zoomed in again!  Back off again.  And the next gate: zoomed in again.  WHOOSH!!  Ugh, a bug.  I hope they fix it.

On the plus side, this is the first time I have been in nullsec with interdiction nullification.  And I must say, it is wonderful to have.  I don't spend a minute thinking about bubbles.  I just warp, gate to gate, as if it was lowsec.  It's mindless movement.

I explore all the side branches as I go.  No ghosts anywhere.  Stain is not haunted in this direction.  Systems are mostly unoccupied; out of the 21 I go through in this direction, three of them have two players other than me, another four have one, and the remaining 14 have zero.  So I feel like I am in the right place.  There's a decent chance that I will get a ghost site -- if it is here.

I make it to the end of the line, and head back.  11 hops, all of them retracing my steps.  So perhaps a small chance of a ghost site popping up.  No ghost sites.  I am back to JS-E8E.  I check, and dotlan is back up.  Hurrah!  Now I can get a decent map showing number of jumps.  I decide to head south, towards a cul-de-sac with almost zero traffic in the last hour.  Set course for 9O-ZTS.  16 jumps.

Hop.  Warp and WHOOSH.  Hop.  Warp and WHOOSH.  Initially a few systems with people, but then even fewer people than the other way.  But also no ghosts.  I explore a few side-systems on the way.  Then I get to the end, and explore the rest of the cul-de-sac.  No ghosts.

It's getting late, so reluctantly I head back.  Again I am retracing my steps, but I check for sites and there are none.

Total tally for the evening: 43 systems hit, 27 of them twice.  Of those, perhaps 12 had anyone in them other than me.  No ghost sites.  Skunked.

In wspace, I check out all four systems in our constellation tonight: no ghost sites there, either.

A Ghost Site Fit

So-called "ghost sites" are a new feature in Rubicon that I have been eager to try.  The idea is a rare site that everyone in the system can see easily on scanner, with good treasure, but a timer.  As soon as the first uncloaked player is on grid, the timer starts.  This can be from a few seconds to a few minutes.  When the timer is up, some rather nasty rats show up (they warp scramble).  They shoot at you a little, then BOOM.  The site's cans and all the treasure goes bloey.  Then the rats shoot at you a bit more, and warp off.  Given the nature of the site, it seems likely to create some interesting PVP situations.

There's been enough info come out on the site that I feel fairly confident in publishing a fit for it.  I'll revise this if I ever find one (see next post), and have actual experience.

To run a Ghost site, you want a ship that can tank a couple of 10000+ explosive blasts, plus more tank to deal with the rats for 30 seconds.  And it also should be good at escaping from human hunters, which means a good tank, some PVP ability especially against tacklers, and speedy enough to escape from bigger things.  I got the latest Rubicon-updated EFT, and played with it.  I thought the new SOE ships might work, but not really.  The Asteros is a frigate, and there is simply no way to make them work against explosions of the size we are talking about, not to mention the rats and PVPers.  The Stratos, although it can easily tank the site, has three things going against it.  First, it does not have enough lows do more than a buffer fit.  So, if you did get damaged, repair is an issue.  Second, its PVP escapability is relatively low.  Its recloak delay is a concern to me.  Finally, unlike a T3 it cannot get bubble nullification, and since I plan to do most of my busting in nullsec, this is a big problem.

I can almost fly Lokis, but since I want to do this now, that leaves me with just a Tengu as the ship of choice.  Here's what I came up with:
[Tengu, Explorer-Ghostbuster]
Damage Control II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
'Halcyon' Core Equalizer I

Data Analyzer I
PL-0 Shipment Probe
Pith A-Type Explosive Deflection Field
EM Ward Field II
Core C-Type 100MN Afterburner
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Ancillary Shield Booster, Cap Booster 150

Prototype 'Arbalest' Rapid Light Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Light Missile
Prototype 'Arbalest' Rapid Light Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Light Missile
Prototype 'Arbalest' Rapid Light Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Inferno Light Missile
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Expanded Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I

Medium Memetic Algorithm Bank I
Medium Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Medium Polycarbon Engine Housing I

Tengu Defensive - Supplemental Screening
Tengu Electronics - Emergent Locus Analyzer
Tengu Engineering - Capacitor Regeneration Matrix
Tengu Offensive - Covert Reconfiguration
Tengu Propulsion - Interdiction Nullifier
The probe launcher is there because I live in wspace and plan to scan in it.  And also because power is tight and I cannot fit another rapid light launcher.  (A non-rapid light missile launcher, though, or rocket, I could.)  Players with better skills than I have can use T2 launchers.

This thing is going to be hard to tackle and keep tackled.  A single long point won't work.  It's immune to bubbles.  It goes 1300m/s using its afterburner, so it will outrun heavy ships.  It uses a few of the new rapid light launchers to generate a bit of damage against tackle.  It tanks explosive like a champ; Pith Explosive Deflection Fields are in low demand and therefore cheap.  And finally, it can roam in nullsec ignoring bubbles.

To use it, get to nullsec (and/or maybe less-trafficked parts of lowsec).  Get your dotlan maps ready, and plot out a long string of systems.  Ghost sites are rare.  You need to look at a lot of systems to have a chance to find a ghost site.  Now you just hop from system to system, checking local and your scanner each time.  

If you do find a ghost site, warp there ASAP.  If anyone else is in local, go in cloaked.  Once there, if you see someone you'll have to figure out how to proceed by ship type.  If a frigate, I would not worry about it; a T3 is probably more likely and potentially worth skipping the site for.  

Assuming you are alone, head for a can as you lock up all four cans and start cargo-scanning them.  Go to whichever one has the best items.  Crack it, grab the loot, and repeat as indicated.  If you are lucky enough to have nobody else in local, keep an eye on just local.  Otherwise, keep an eye on dscan if you can.  I would hack the cans orbitting at 2500m if possible, so that you may be able to cloak.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Steal Some Gas

It's Rubicon eve in EVE.  I log on late.  Jayne and Hiljah are around.  Jayne has scanned down our surrounding systems du jour.  We have a C5 incident, in addition to our static C3.  The C5 is interesting: many anoms (30?  40?), and just six sigs.  Evidently these people are not much for sleeper-killing as a key form of money making.

There are three towers, with a manned Buzzard sitting at one.  And they appear to be Americans: one tower is named CostCo.  A look on dotlan shows activity about 48-42 hours ago.  So, perhaps American west coast.  So we are not too keen to do anything substantial.  However, Jayne points out that the guy is aligned to his tower.  This probably means he's been sitting there a while.

I ask about C3.  It's not particularly interesting.  It attaches to a C3b, which is evidently Russian owned, and there are some sites.  But now that we have gotten used to C4 sites, C3 anoms just don't have the same allure.  And also it's a bit late to run sites.  If it was 8:00 PM, that's what we'd do.

I decide that given the time constraints, we should scan down the C5 hoping for one of the two best gas sites.  So Hiljah and I go in there and scan it down.  One sig is their static wormhole, which connects them to us.  That's easily ignored.  I get the four sigs in the middle while Hiljah is busy on the outer one.  (Gotta work on the in-game and/or out-of-game skills!)  Anyway, I find two gas sites, but they are relatively low value ones.  Not worth the risk.  (I instantiate them both, as I have started doing for all gas and rocks in whatever system I find them in.  I figure that although it's obvious that C5 sites are constrained to only appear in C5s, it may well be that gas and rock sites that I find anywhere in wspace may be able to come to us, assuming they are the sort that ever appear in C4.)  I also find two relic sites.  Or maybe data; whatever.  No luck for me.

Hiljah finds a good gas site: a Vital Core Reservoir.  OK, let's consider running it.  On the one hand, we'd be quite exposed.  And the inhabitants have someone there, that Buzzard.  On the other hand, the Buzzard is apparently inactive.  He has reacted to our probes.  Also, the Reservoir is out of his dscan range (though the entrance wormhole is not).  And finally: ISK.  Nice gas.  And since we don't have that much time anyway, and we are not going to bring in combat ships to kill the gas guardian sleepers, the time we have works with the 20 minutes or so before the guardians appear.  I decide to go for it.  Jayne is not interested and logs off for the night.

Before we do anything, I have an alt that I will be using whose medical clone needs to be upgraded.  He's in a Heron ready to go.  So, out to C3a and then lowsec.  A medical station is one jump away.  Nobody is in the first system except me.  One guy in the second; I never see him.  I upgrade the clone and get back into wspace.

While I am gone the Buzzard in C5 logs out.  That's nice for us.  Everyone into a Venture!

Now we are ready to go.  Three characters will be sucking gas.  We plan our opsec: Hiljah already has an alt on the tower; he will dscan the inner system.   Any of us at the gas can dscan the outer planet; that will be my job.  We discuss a few contingencies.  In particular I worry that the C5 guys will notice us and put a bubble up at the wormhole.  In that case... well, what do we do?  We go to a safespot and log out.  Try to get back later on and sneak back home.  If they close the hole?  Well, our Ventures have probe launchers.  Everyone clear?  Clear.  Let's go.

The actual op runs easily.  We warp to the wormhole and transition, and hold cloak.  I send in one of my alt with a microwarp to make sure the sleepers have not already been triggered.  They have not.  He zooms over to the C540 cloud and calls for the other two guys to warp to him.  They come in; we all mine gas.  Dscan, dscan, dscan.  Nothing (dscan) appears.  Dscan, dscan, dscan.  Except (dscan) eventually the sleepers, 20 minutes later.  Wake up!  I fleet-warp us out, and we are all a bit richer with ninja'ed gas.

I spend a while yakking on coms, buying stuff Hiljah has produced and moving it to our main tower to be exported.  Then I reship into my exploration Buzzard and head out into lowsec to explore.  Half an hour later, I have 45m in loot from a nice relic site.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Make ISK from Highsec POCOs

Gevlon has a business idea for making money using highsec POCOs after Rubicon drops.  Since I did a lot of thinking about it to criticize him, I figured I would amalgamate my comments into a post.  For background, go read (or review) my Highsec POCO Predictions for Rubicon.  I'll wait.

Gevlon's Idea Will Fail

OK.  Gevlon's idea is to form an alliance specifically to raise wardec costs.
The alliance is just a price cartel agreement. Anyone can join... By joining you have to set the tax rate the same as everyone. ... You can't wardec a player owned corp if it's in an alliance, just the alliance itself. Such act has high cost if the alliance is huge, protecting the alliance from wardecs for their customs offices. 
But not for mutual defense:
What about PvP-ers, who wardec the alliance not because they want POCOs, but to get fights? Well, they won't get any. The in-alliance corps never fight.  ... So for their max-cost wardec they get nothing but the opportunity to shoot customs offices. How can you defend your customs offices? If anyone wardecs the alliance, it makes the war available for mercenaries, so you can just join with your shooter corp and defend your POCO.
This, as I told him, is a bad idea.  You must defend your POCOs or there is very little reason for the alliance.  This is because of the relatively high value of POCOs relative to the cost of wardec.  I pointed this out two weeks ago in my Predictions:
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.
And note that Gevlon's alliance actually make things easier for an aggressor.  It's a one-stop shop for targets.  Say that Gevlon has gotten 50 corps to join, each with 20 POCOs.  Now you go to all of them and demand they hand over their POCOs to you for half their value, or war.  Each one individually cannot afford to hire Noir.  Collectively they could, but they have no organization.  Perhaps they all stand firm and hope that the aggressor attacks someone else.  So he wardecs anyway, and attacks all of them.  After they each lose a POCO or two, they'll sell the others.

How to Do It Right

Gevlon's idea of an alliance is a good one.  But it cannot be passive as he wants.  A passive alliance is easy to beat.

The alliance should offer substantial services to its members.  It should have its own fighting fleet (more on that in a bit), and make a standing offer to members to buy their POCOs at 80% of par.  It also insures their POCOs at 50% of par: if a member loses a POCO, you pay out half the value.  This gives the incentive to the alliance to defend, and some insurance to the members that you will, while not giving too much of a free ride.

Of course, getting a decent fleet able to fight and win will take a substantial amount of time.  There is no such time before November 19.  Yet the first-mover advantage will be huge.  How do you deal with that?  You retain the mercs necessary to defend all the members' POCOs. Find the best mercs you can -- Noir? multiple groups? -- and get a long term contract with them, six months at least, saying (1) that they won't wardec your alliance for any client, and (2) that they will be available to fight for you on call (other obligations permitting). Perhaps this is a billion per month. Who knows: ask them. It might be quite reasonable.

How do you pay for hired guns?  You charge a fee per POCO, perhaps 10 million ISK per month. (This is about 10% of its build cost; I should think that is cheap for decent protection.)  Charge more for rarer planet types (i.e. storm), or those in better locations (i.e. near Jita).  (What exactly to charge is a hard problem, but that's why you need a leader with spreadsheet chops.  I am sure Gevlon can figure out a good price structure.)  If 10m a month sustainable?  I think so; recall the analysis Mabrick did.  A single user of a POCO can generate that much in taxes.  If the POCO has more than a handful of users, the owner still makes good money.

With my guess of the merc's retainer fee of 1b per month, once you get 100 POCOs, you make money. If you cannot get 100 POCOs, you lose money. If the mercs you hire cannot beat some larger group and it kills your POCOs, you lose a lot of money. If you welp fleets, you lose a lot of money.  It will take a very deep pocket investor.  It will have substantial risk.

Note that hiring mercs as the primary defenders is only really applicable during the bootstrapping phase of the existence of the alliance cartel.  As soon as possible, you will want to start insourcing your protection, with mercs hired only in exceptional hard situations.  Find a good fleet commander, and hire him to organize a navy for you.  Men will flock to fight under a good FC.  Remember the lesson of nullsec: players in a game don't care about money so much as they care about "content".  If you offer them fun they'll pay you for it.  Fighting in massive battleship fleets should be fun.  I would join.

Why do you need your own fleet?  In part the reason is that relying on mercenaries is bad idea -- they may be working for the other side; they may turn on you; or they may just not be available due to other obligations.  But it is also because insourcing should be cheaper.  Noir has elite pilots that can fight anywhere in all types of situations; you need only be concerned with ships and tactics that are allowed in highsec.  Also, Noir's pilots have no reason to care about the POCO business.  And you should be under almost constant wardec as the biggest, fattest target around, and you will need a very substantial fleet to defend yourself.  (My guess is hundreds of pilots.)  If it takes raising POCO fees to support your fleet, so be it.  Any owner who does not like the fees is perfectly free to leave the alliance and defend his assets on his own.

A fleet can also aggress.  Most of the time it will probably be busily defending, but what if you get a slack week?  The alliance should be the aggressor, demanding that lesser corps join or lose their POCOs.  Forming a monopoly where there is no natural monopoly is not like normal market competition: it takes force.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Draw a Mack

It's the weekend, and I am around during the day.  Always a good time to look for people in wspace, since there is more activity in general.  And during the day Europe is still awake.

Our last static has gone away, and I have just opened the new one.  Now I hurry to get in C3a system.  Because of the new discovery scanner, time is ticking.  Anyone in the system has a big fat "someone coming" sign.  All they have to do is notice.  But I am hoping that someone won't. 

I enter the system, and dscan. There are two Macks.  Quickly as I can I move off the wormhole and bookmark it.  Then I point my dscan towards one ore anom, and then a second.  They are in the second.  It's go time.  I warp to the anom.

Things look good
As I warp in, I see one of the Macks leaving.  Does it have wind of me?  (Curse the discovery scanner.)  But then why not both?  Well, I can't worry about that.  If he sees the new sig, he sees it and will flee (or is stupid).  If he doesn't, then I have a chance.

The Mack is about 70km from me, and the asteroids are all around the same distance.  So I am going to have to bounce.  OK, where?  Well the sun is close, and it is about inline with a monster asteroid the Mack is near.  So I bookmark that asteroid, and warp to the sun at 100.  My guess is that he is about 10km from the asteroid.  So I warp back at 20km from it.

As I land on grid, I am happy to see he is still there.  I will have my shot.  Then I am slightly alarmed as I glide right onto him: 10km, 5km, 2km.  Oh well, I was planning to uncloak soon enough though not immediately.  So I uncloak and get my systems going.  Sebo, warp scrambler, torps.  And... got him.  I open up, and he is taking damage.  I orbit at 1000, hoping to kill him and quickly grab his stuff.

But he does not panic.  He deploys EC-600s, and sets them on me.  Uh oh... I am just into his armor... and I am jammed.  Crap.  OK, check dscan.  Nothing changed.  So I am going to hope and stick around.  Jam is counting down.  I am free!  I try to lock.  Lock faster!  Nope.  I am jammed again.  He is starting to rotate, so I start bumping.  Weak little bumps, but I hope they are stopping him.  Cannot tell.  Another 20s, and another jam.  I dscan; still nothing.  But it's too late.  He warps.

I quickly move off and cloak.  I want to see what they are doing.  So I get dscan going again and quickly isolate their POS on a planet with just one moon.  I fly there.  Then I warp over nearby so I can look at them.  They have two combat ships, an interceptor and a Pilgrim.  After a while, the interceptor changes to a Magnate.  Shortly, it warps off and disappears, and I see probes.  Looks like they intend to find the new signature.  I have an idea...  I warp back to my home system.

My guess is the Magnate will scan down our wormhole and perhaps it will come to visit.  We have around some special anti-frigate Tristans just for this purpose.  I figure I'll try one out.  So I reship into it, and go back to the wormhole.  I'm breaking my own rules for wormhole combat here.  It's stupid.  But I have the feeling... anyway, I get out my Warriors to decloak and apply DPS, and I buzz around the wormhole at 500.  It's all or nothing.

It's all of nothing.  I sit.  Nothing happens for a while.  Then... boomp; crackle.  It's them.  Let's see what it is.  I wait for what seems a long time.  It's holding cloak.  Perhaps planning its break for it? 

Then I see it.  It's the Pilgrim.  I am not sure exactly what it does, but it's not what I expect and so I immediately hit my GTFO warp.  At the same time, it jumps back through the wormhole.  Funny.  I guess we both spooked each other.  It probably thought I was tackle and had friends.  I have real life stuff to do so I get my Manticore and cloak in a safespot.

An hour later, I fly back to the wormhole to have another look at C3a.  But the wormhole is gone.  They popped it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pondering Rubicon's New Auto Tractor Units

With Rubicon will come a new deployable structure, the automatic tractoring unit.  I don't know exactly what it will be called.  How will it affect the game?

Here is what I can find out so far about the auto tractor unit.  You can read it yourself in the thread where Fozzie announces them; these are taken from his posts:
  • 100m3 volume.
  • When deployed has storage of 27000m3 (just slightly less than a jetcan).  Cannot be deployed closer to 5km from other deployables.
  • 125km tractor range.
  • Can tractor one target at a time.  Checks for targets every 10 seconds.  Will tractor anything that the game would allow the owner to tractor.  It keeps tractoring all day long even when full.
  • You can scoop and reuse it. If you scoop it while it has items in the cargo, it will spawn a jetcan with those items which you can then loot what you'd like from.
  • Tractor speed is 1000m/s.  [Note: 2 minute tractor time at max range!  Ouch.]
  • Rats won't target it.
  • Has an automatic activation time [apparently its "onlining" time], currently set to 45 seconds.
  • Only the owner can take from it.
  • Can be probed and is visible on d-scan.  Easy to probe.
  • It can be destroyed.  Hitpoints in the range of 80000 or so.  Drops loot just like a ship, 50% chance of each stack dropping.
  • Shooting one in highsec gets you a suspect flag but no Concord.
  • It has the same kind of decay timer that anchored cans do, where if you interact with the cargo often it never goes away but if left alone it disappears after 2 days.
As of now, on singularity there are bugs.  Or odd features.  From this thread:
  • It does not work when nobody is on grid.  CCP says this will be fixed.
  • Targets your ship, or other ships (including cloakies).  CCP stays this will be fixed.
  • Two of them within range of each other "see" each other's wrecks and play ping-pong.
Assuming the two problems they say will be fixed are fixed, so that the thing is useful, I can see a lot of application for it.  Basically, anyone who is salvaging any substantial wreck field currently will probably do better to pack one of these (or more, assuming they fix the ping-pong feature).  Deploy it ASAP and let it tractor while you salvage.  It's like an extra tractor with super-long range.  If you currently use a Noctis with 4/4, go to 3/5 and go faster.  Or deploy more than one as close to each other as possible, and sit between going even faster.

Of course, if you can tractor a wreck, then you probably created it.  Since rats don't shoot at tractor units, and you can fit five of them confortably in your missioning battleship, the time to deploy it is not when you come back to salvage.  It's when you first land on grid.  (Or maybe after you initially move.)  So, deploy the unit as soon as you land on grid.  Bookmark it.  Kill all the things, then do the next room.  Come back in a few minutes and all your loot is collected, and all the wrecks in nice little ball.

It will also benefit mission-runners who currently do not salvage/loot.  So long as you are in a room sitting still for more than 45 seconds, it can get you at least a little loot, and a little is better than zero.  And possibly salvage too, if you have room for a flight of salvaging drones.

Salvaging will change radically.  No longer does a salvager ship need to combine salvagers and tractors.  It just needs salvagers.  Noctises may still be useful in a more limited way.  But I would expect to see a much larger set of ships being used to salvage, depending on the risk level.  Noctises will still rule highsec, I expect.  But not insecure space.

In wspace, this unit will obsolete the Noctis.  Tractoring and salvaging will be concurrent with combat.  Fleet warps in, immediately deploys 2-4 tractor units.  PVE as normal.  Wrecks are being sucked in as fast as they are created.  Salvager ship with the fleet salvages the wrecks.  Fleet has to wait a few extra seconds at the end of combat before warping, to guard the salvager.  Or else, maybe the fleet just warps and the salvager takes its chances.  But note that the salvager is not going to be a Noctis.  It does not need tractor range; the tractor units provide that.  It will be a hardened ship, probably a "combat" hull, perhaps stabbed up, with some salvagers in the highs.  Since it can salvage throughout combat it does not even need that many salvagers.

My corp is still discussing what we will do.  Partly it depends on details we don't know yet.  But I think the broad outline is present.  Currently, our salvager (a Noctis) trails the fleet; to maintain operation security we zip up, or we use observers on all the exits.  In Rubicon, the salvager will be a Raven, Scorpion or some other battleship.  (This gives it the option to mount a Micro Jump Drive for GTFO.)  The salvager will now move with the fleet.  We will deploy one or more tractors on grid, however many we need to gather all the wrecks in a timely manner.  The salvager will have enough salvagers to salvage all the things; this may be as few as two salvagers.  If say three or less, it can add DPS and will be used for that too.

Is it a conflict driver?  I do think it will make the life of a mission ninja more fun.  Imagine hanging around Osmon with combat probes, looking for these.  You pop into the mission with your ninja salvager destroyer and find a nice ball.  It's all there for you to salvage.  No driving around.  Then zip to the next room.  Do you blow up the thing for loot?  Maybe!  Missioners might get wise and start to watch for their auto tractors disappearing from dscan though.

How about null and wspace?  I am not as sanguine.  In both places hunters will certainly look for them.  And they might blow them up from time to time (certainly in wspace).  Whether this will be opposed seems less likely.  Meanwhile, at least in wspace they will kill one of the ganking types that keeps people on their toes: the Noctis salvager gank.

What will the economic effects be?  If I could short tech I salvage, I would.  And similarly for anything else that comes out of normal highsec mission grinding and nullsec anom smashing.  Meta 1-4 parts. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Sad Tale of Micheal Winsor

It's a weekend, and our static C3 has been explored.  Jayne has scanned it down.  He found several wormholes, including its highsec static and a second highsec connection which was EOL.  Also a another C4 connection.  This looks promising for later exploitation.  He saw a Drake and a Venture, strangely at a custom's office.  But before I could get online (coming running called by a text), they escaped.

I logged in before finding out the opportunity was past, and entered C3a.  So nothing to do, but since I was already online at the computer... I took the time to exit each highsec and find out where it is.  The static is 35 jumps from Jita -- yuck.  The other is just 15 jumps, but EOL.  That's not happening.  Even at 35 jumps, there's plenty of time to run a freighter because I can autopilot it.  I spend most of the day playing with The Boy anyway.  So, that's what I am doing: my Jita alt is bringing up a load of gas for reacting, and new PI goods.  Plus various skillbooks and parts needed for corp operations.

Hours later... he's getting close and I am back at my computer.  So, I get Von on to enter C3a and make sure it is still safe for moving stuff in and out.  I get in my Manticore, and enter C3a.  Things have changed a bit in a last few hours.  I fly to the EOL wormhole at 50: it's gone.  And there is a new signature which I scan down: gas.  OK.  Everything else is as it was.  Nobody is at the tower.

a Venture killed someone?
I think to dscan, and I see something unexpected.  A Venture!  Oh yeah: it's killin' time!  Well, actually a stealth bomber is not the best thing for ganking Ventures.  Still, it's worth a shot; maybe he is AFK.  I spin around the dscan, and to my surprise, the Venture is not in any of the gas sigs or even ore anoms.  In fact it is nowhere particular -- not the tower, not a CO.  It is just out in space.  And it appears it is near a corpse (huh?), and two sleeper wrecks.

Is this a trap?

I don't know.  But I will need combat probes to find this guy if he sticks around.  So, I better get a ship with combat scanners.  I could get Artemis, my cloaky Tengu.  But the possibility of trap is too high.  Instead I will get my Buzzard and scan it with that.  Then we will see.  The Venture's name suggests it may just be a newb who got trapped.  So, maybe I will be nice and talk to him and let him out.  But have to find him first, for that.  And do I really want to be nice?
board the Venture, yarr!

I head back to my home C4, cross the wormhole, back to tower, then reship.  And back to the wormhole again; back into C3a.  nothing on dscan as expected, so I fire combat probes and throw them out of the system.  Then I warp across the system to see if the Venture is still there.

It's still there.  OK, move the probes into the inner system and scan.  Just ships.  24% hit, so refine and try again.  97% dammit (got to get better skills).  It's still there, so refine and try again.  I get 100%, so I quickly recall probes.  Then I warp over to look.

The scene that greets me tells a tale.  There is an empy, unpiloted Venture out in space.  Its name, as I have seen on dscan, is "WH Collapsed :(".  Right next to it is a corpse.  Evidently, this guy was in here when his highsec collapsed.  Evidently he did not have a probe launcher, so he was screwed.  No way out.  So he flew to a safespot, ejected, and suicided.

Anyway, that's what flashes immediately.  Still, it could be a trap.  If I show myself, will someone uncloak?  Only one way to find out.  I bookmark the empty ship, warp home, and ditch my Buzzard, getting just a bare pod.  Then I fly back, waiting a bit at the wormhole for my polarization to dissipate.  Finally I am back in C3a, and I warp to the Venture.  Will someone uncloak and try to kill me?

Nope, it is at it seems.  I board the Venture, then grab the corpse.  (There is armor damage -- a story we will never know.)  Then I warp off back home.  The Venture has a load of low-value gas.  The story I originally imagined is true.  Micheal Winsor had a bad day. 

A good day for me, though, as I pick up a Venture sporting T2 gas miners -- and no tank, no warp core stab, no probe scanner.  Um, Micheal Winsor, dude, if you find this, read my article on how to gas mine.  Empty slots are the nightmare of every EFT warrior.  There is always something you can put there that will make it better fit.  Well, OK.  Not always.  Just almost always.  But in this case: yeah, a core probe launcher.  Cost 40k ISK or whatever.  Good investment.

I Fall for a Scam

The background here: my Jita alt, who mines ice, has been slowly adding industrial skills.  Of recent, my corp has started mining in wspace.  It's not great pay, but it's something to do when we have our system zipped up and don't want to open it.  This is actually fairly common due to the way that 16 hour wormholes work. 

Anyway, because we are mining, I want my Jita alt to be able to perfect refine all ores except for Mercocite (which does not happen in wspace).  And if he trains up the skills needed for ore refining, he can also refine ice with a few hours more training.  Since I mine ice, that would be a useful skill.  So I'll train that too.  But to refine ice in his current station won't work, because he lacks standings with the station owner, Expert Housing Foundry.  And there are no better owners with stations in Otela.  Since I am not leaving Otela, I have decided to grind up my standings with Expert Housing.  Since my Jita alt has no combat skills other than drones, I am going to do courier missions to grind the standings.

And so the story begins.  I have three courier missions headed out into the Forge.  I am my Viator, since none of the loads are very large.  As I enter Olo, there is an industrial wreck just off the gate.  Being curious (and having nothing of value on my blockade runner other than my mission items), I go over to look.  Hmm.  There are some nice blueprints here.  I set my safety to yellow.  Steal now?  No, there are a few people around, one in particular in a Buzzard that does not seem to be leaving.  I expect he is trying to get kills.  So I am not going to steal.  I right-click on a blueprint to show its market value.  Whoa.  The Cyclone one is 500m ISK!
thieves need warp core stabilization

OK, I head into the station where one of my missions sends me anyway.  I drop everything I am carrying, and I refit the Viator with two warp corp stabilizers I always carry for just such situations.  Then I warp out again.  I don't expect anything to be there.  Just like $20 bills on sidewalks.

Stuff is still there (seems fishier and fishier).  Why has this frig not stolen it?  Oh well, you only live once forever.  I slide past the wreck, then just as I am getting to 2500 again, I align to the station I came from. So I am moving back past the wreck the other way.  Quickly, I am aligned.

Now I steal the blueprints, and start warp.  The Buzzard locks me almost instantly, and attempts to warp scramble, but my stabilizers work and zoom! -- I am away.  I dock at the station and get ready to sit for 15 minutes.

the getaway
Only while sitting do I notice the scam.  These are not BPOs.  They are one-run BPCs.  Oops.  A lot of risk for nothing.  Dodged a bullet there.