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.


  1. general Wspace question, since you Don't know for sure if the group from the C5 was in your hole before you logged in don't you need to roll the static to make sure you are actually zipped up? Couldn't it be that they scanned and opened the static after the corpmate made the bookmark? How do you protect against this other than making the effort to roll the static all the time?

    Thanks for the answer

    T a curious non WH resident

  2. Of course they could of instantiated our wormhole. And they probably did. Certainly, our own SOP in the C3 systems we get is to explore all the wormholes. We almost never have the information on the C3 system that would let us not explore them. (An exception would be if, for example, we roll into C3a that has no live towers, no activity for the past two days, lots of sigs/anoms, but only its static. In that case I would probably leave it be, at least if I wanted to run C3 sites.)

    Whenever there is an incoming wormhole (that is, when we find a K162), we simply do not know the status of an unvisited static. In general, we must assume it has been visited by the aliens from the other wormhole, and so it is open. And thus, it is a basically SOP (for us at least), that we do not assume our static is closed unless there are no other incident wormholes.

    That is what I assumed last night. The next thing I did after the C5 guys popped the hole was fly to our static. Maybe they instantiated it and maybe not, but there was only one way to be sure. Later on we popped it ourselves (and screwed it up, yet again), in order to isolate our system and run sites.

    Note that even in the case where you log in and all you see is the static, it is possible that someone has connected to your system, instantiated your static, and then popped their connection. Unlikely -- but possible. This is the reason for another SOP I have: even when we have zipped up, I always instantiate our static at the end of the evening. That is usually 11 or 12 PM. Our static, like most wormholes, is a 16 hour one, meaning it will be there for 16 hours at minimum, 17 hours max. Then it goes poof on its own. By instantiating at the end of my evening, I ensure that the static will exist until around 3:00-5:00 PM the next day. And since I normally log in about 7:00 to 8:00 PM, there is only a short window of time in which people can connect/instantiate/disconnect. It's very unlikely anyway, and more unlikely in a short time. So I don't worry about it.