Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fleecing Some Tourists

Friday night.  We're always looking for a good connection to highsec to do logistics.  But there's nothing in particular planned.  Let's see what EVE holds tonight.

I log in, and check for sigs.  Just one.  Evidently the gas site we have had has finally timed out and gone away.  Scanning one sig is no problem, and I head for it, bookmark the wormhole, and jump into C4b.

C4b is interesting.  There are two POCOs that are in reinforced mode, due to come out in five hours.  I'll still be up then... hmm.  There's also an Iteron V at a tower.  I track it down and warp to it.  Empty, as usual.  Oh well.  Scanning time.  There are just two sigs, so that's easy.  I ignore our static and then find the other. 

It's EOL. Ugh.  End of constellation, unless I want to pop a wormhole.  I don't.  I think I will log my Jita alt and move around some goods.  Then I will just sit here.

Hours later... the wormhole finally expires.  (Four full hours.  Murphy strikes again.)  Now I scan down the new wormhole, mark it, and jump through.  C3b has six sigs: three gas, three wormholes.  I know the wormhole I came though.  The other two are a C2 and the C3 static.  I'll investigate the C2 first, since it will probably have a highsec static.

I enter the C2.  Nothing on scan from the wormhole.  Checking shows that indeed the system has the expected highsec.  I move off the wormhole, fire probes, and throw them out of the system.  I'll scan after I check out the system for actives.

The system is rather large.  It takes three warps to hit all the planets.  I start at the third-to-outer planet.  I have to check the second-to-outer planet (nothing), the inner system (live tower, no ships), finally the outer planet.  Dscan here shows ships and lots of drones, and a tower.  But no force field.  Dscanning again shows a sleeper wreck.  Ah.  Got site runners.  Two Ospreys, two Hurricane Fleet Issues, Gnosis, Brutix.

I dscan the one anom in range.  They are not there.  I do another 360 dscan.  More wrecks; too many for a gas site.  (And nobody would attack a gas site with a whole gang.)  It must be a sig site -- a data or relic.  There is one around this planet.  But I do not have it scanned.  I will try to scan it anyway; doing so will be good practice for me.  I rarely get to hunt with probes.

Data and relic sites all have very weak signatures; I will have to scan at the minimum range to get a warpable hit.  So this means that I will have to place the probes extremely precisely to do it in one scan.   I doubt I can do that; I will shoot for two scans for a better chance.  That is still starting at 1.0AU scans, meaning I need a fairly precise location.

First I use dscan to get a range.  Twiddle twiddle.  6.1 AU.  This seems a bit long, but it appears to be just in the range of the sig.  Now, direction.  90 and 60 and 30 degrees are all pretty easy.  15 takes some time and 5 takes more.  But finally I have the direction, and I crab-walk the my marker probe until it is about the right distance out.   I change my mind and scan at 0.25 AU hoping for luck.

Nothing.  Oh well.  I try at 1.0AU.  Nothing again.  What?  This should have worked.  I must be totally off.  I widen to 4 AU and move the probes closer to me.  Now I get a hit, much closer to me that 6.1 AU.  I guess I must have flubbed the range somehow.  It takes me two more scans to get 97% -- argh! -- and the third succeeds.  I throw the probes out of the system, then warp to the site at 100km.  Dscan shows they have not abandoned it yet, at least.

Watching from my perch.
I land at the site, and the enemy fleet is still working on the last sleeper battleship.  This gives me some hope that they are slack and have not seen my probes.  But in any case, I cannot attack this many people.  So I hope that they make a mistake with their salvaging.

They finish the sleeper.  Now it gets kind of strange.  They are evidently using drones to salvage.  Several of them throw out mobile depots, and refit.  Then they head in to the cans to hack.  Unbonused hacking on hard puzzles.  Good luck with that.  Of course, these being sleeper sites, you get all the tries you want.  I still expect it to take forever, and it is hard to believe that these guys will just sit in the site for that long. 

One deploys a mobile tractor unit.  They sit in the site.  Every so often a wreck gets successfully salvaged.  But it's slow.  One of them finally cracks a can.  There's nothing obvious I can do to make trouble.  And it looks like my hope of a salvager is not going to happen.  Can they salvage intermediate large wrecks with drones?  Maybe they have some salvagers to refit with.

I might as well bring in my probes and scan.  They can't see the other planets from here, at least, and I doubt they have good opsec.  I already know they either did not see me or did not care.  And I also know there is a highsec and a C4 which they ignored.  So I scan.  Scanning finds no less than five wormholes: a K162 to highsec, the static highsec (which I open), a nullsec, a C2 (EOL), and another C2.  I duck out of one of the highsecs to get an entrance, just in case I get daring and get killed.

All this time I am checking in with the enemy, warping to my perch.  They're still there, half an hour after I first saw them.  They've now got all the wrecks collected and salvaged.  They are still working on the data cans.  One of the Hurricanes goes over to collect the tractor.  I consider trying to sneak in to grab the can when he takes it onboard.  But this seems unlikely to work.  So I just watch.  He grabs the tractor.  The can appears.

Nice loot.
He does not pick it up.  That's odd.  I watch a bit more.  He seems to be moving back to his friends.  He still has not picked it up.  Is he tractoring it?  No, he just... left it sitting there.

This is my opening.  I warp to the can at 10km.  Then I check for celestials.  They are all behind me.  I will want to be aligned to one when I am ready to uncloak, so I sneak around to the left then towards the enemy (they are all about 40km off), then up.  I stop with the sun and two inner planets decently inline behind the can.  The sun will be easier to find, so I will use that.  I raise my inventory, take a deep breath, then align to the sun.  5000, 4000, 2500.  I uncloak, and double-click the can.  There's the loot.  Loot all.  Click the sun, S, and zoom.  I'm gone.  I cloak ASAP.  When I land at the sun I immediately warp back to my perch to watch.

The enemy break up fairly quickly.  They warp off toward the inner system; I don't bother to check where, since I have little time remaining before bed.  I get info on one, and check for the corp's CEO.  Ah, she's one of them.  I convo her:

Excitement over.  I head out to highsec, drop the loot and contract it to my Jita alt, and head back up.  Later I get myself killed shooting at guys shooting down those POCOs I saw earlier... but that's another story.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Much Scanning and An Elusive Iteron

Wednesday.  I am on before the corp, but we are planning to do some PVE money-making tonight.  So there is plenty to do.  I want to map out our constellation, preparing for hole-closing and site-running.  How long will it take?  We'll see.

I log in.  From nothingness to somethingness, suddenly my Manticore exists.  I cloak as I do my login warp, then a quick dscan.  Nobody obvious.  Some C2 guys ran our two anoms yesterday, so there's nothing for anyone to do in my system.  I doubt anyone's around.  Still, there are three sigs, not the two I'd hoped for.  One is an already-known gas site.  One will be our static.  What's the other?

I warp out to our outer planet and launch probes.  The two new sigs are quickly resolved, and from their signal strengths I can tell which is the K162.  I warp to it first, bookmarking the other.  The K162 is "dangerous" and reddish -- that means C5.  Hmm.  Well, better have a look.  I enter C5a.

Dscan from the wormhole shows four towers, with some ships at them, but types that are not of interest to me.  A quick consult with shows these guys are probably European.  It's evening here in the USA; I doubt we'll see too much activity from them.  But, still, there may be a few night-owls up.  Let's have a look at the rest of the system.

I warp to the outer system, and dscan shows two more towers.  One of these has an Iteron V at it.  Now, that is of interest to me, if it is manned.  I am at the right planet, so I dscan and narrow down the possible moons by range.  Eventually I find the right one, and warp to it.

I land on grid with the tower.  Yes, the Itty is there and it is manned.  I am about 80 km from it so I look.  It is not aligned with the tower: where did it come from?  A planet, perhaps?  No, it came from some spot out in space just to the right of the inner system... oh.  It can from the wormhole to my system.  It appears that these guys have opened my system's static, and have run in some cargo.  Interesting.

I sit and watch for a few minutes.  But the Iteron is not doing anything, and probably won't do any PI at any rate.  I've got more exploring to do, so I warp back to the wormhole and jump.  Time to check out what's downstream from us.  I warp to the previously saved wormhole bookmark.  Then I save the actual location of the wormhole, and jump through into C4b.

Dscan shows a tower, but no ships.  A consult with shows the inhabitants are supposed to be USA timezone.  But the tower has a Chinese symbol for a name, and there are Cyrillic names on some of the POS parts.  I don't think these people are USA any more.

OK, let me check out the scanner for anoms... crikey!  This system has as many sigs as I have ever seen.  (Later, I count them: 33 sigs.)  Anoms?  Oh, about 40 of those, including 19 rocks.  So, that's good news for running sites.

There's also some bad news.  The system's static is a C1.  That's not great for site-running, because we cannot pop it.  We'll have to place a cloaked picket there.  (Fortunately, we have a new guy in the corp perfect for this.)  Also, the system is a wolf-rayet, which is bad for our shield tanked PVE fleet.  I think it will work though. Worse for me right now: each and every one of those sigs might be a wormhole.  Each and every one must be scanned at least to the point of knowing what it is (25%), and for practical purposes it must be scanned down fully and bookmarked.  That's a grim prospect.  I move off the wormhole, firing probes as I go.  Then I throw them out of the system, and go to find the tower.  It's easily found; I warp to it to watch.  I'll sit here to watch while I scan, just in case someone logs on to do PI.

I start scanning.  There are three sigs at the outer planet; those scan fast enough.  Now I move into the second-to-outer planet, which has a lot of sigs.  I get through the first few, when I realize that scanning in my Manticore is kind of dumb.  I don't think any targets are going to appear; the impressive proliferation of sigs and anoms suggests these guys don't play much.  It will take me just a couple minutes to get my Buzzard; the increased scanning strength amortized over 30 sigs should more than make up for the travel time.  So I'll head back home.  But before I leave, I activate all the anoms.  (Thank me when you get a new site in four days.)  Now through my static, over to my tower, and reship.  Then I return and get probes back out.  I am circling the K162 of our static wormhole, having found nothing better to watch.  I re-scan the general area I scanned before, to re-ignore those sigs.  Then I start working again.  I complete about eight sigs near the second-to-outer planet, and move on to the third.

A ship warps on to grid.  It's the Iteron V I saw before: same pilot.  But he is coming back in.  I missed him going out.  He lands on the wormhole and jumps.

How did I miss him leaving?  Probably he left when I was at over at the local tower.  Anyway, it's too late.  Even if I burned over the to wormhole and beat him to the C5 connection, I can't do anything in my Buzzard.  No guns, no warp scrambler.  So, I sigh and set to scanning some more.  I doubt I will see him again: he should have seen my probes both leaving and coming back in.

I am getting close to having scanned out this third-from-outer planet, when I find a wormhole.  It's a faint signature, so it is probably the static.  I warp over at 30km to look.  Sure enough: P060, to C1.  I'll have to explore through it when I get a chance, but not now.  I really don't want to lose my state.  Rescanning 15 sigs?  No thanks.

I resume scanning.  Gas site, gas site, data site.  I am close to done with this planet, when a flicker of movement catches my eye on my overview.  What?  Ah -- the Iteron is back!  He's on the wormhole, and then whoomp-crackle -- he exits to C1a.
I bet you'll be back.
I have seen him three times now: at his tower in C5a (having just come from our direction), in C4b coming back in, and now going out.  Obviously my probes are not deterring him.  It's very likely he will be coming back in carrying... I don't know.  Whatever he is trying to get in.  And probably fairly soon; I guess from the timing of his last run that there must be a hub fairly close to where ever the C1 system connects to.  If he's coming back in, I want to gank him.  To gank him, I can't be in this Buzzard.  I want my Manticore.  I am mindful that it might be a trap... or they may have a cloaky T3 or T2 sitting in C4b to gank me.  But I don't think so; nobody has gone for me yet.  In any case, it's worth the risk.

I take another trip to my tower to reship again.  Yes, this means I will lose my scanning-state, but hunting is more important than saving scanning time.

I return to the system in my Manticore.  It will probably be a wait.  Maybe the guy won't come back.  Either way, I am going to scan rather than just sit.  So I fire probes after I am back in the system.  Then I warp back to the C1 wormhole.  I orbit it cloaked at 2500m.  This is the best compromise between safety (if something nasty comes in), and being on top of the hole to make sure I am in range if the target returns.

Now I scan.  For the second time, I have to re-scan a whole bunch of sigs to ignore.  The outer system ones I can ignore simply by their location.  But all the other planets are close enough that they require re-scanning.  It's fairly quick, though, since I only need a 25% hit to do the job, or sometimes even less.

Minutes pass.  I finally re-ignore all the stuff I found already, and now I can start in where I was.  More or less.  It is time to start tackling the 10 sigs remaining in the inner system.  I put in the probes at 8AU, and get several gas sites IDed.  I get it down to six sigs, when bwaammmp.  Wormhole noise.

I quickly exit the map mode, and get my mouse poised to turn off my cloak.  Is it the Iteron?  A ship appears -- yes, the Iteron.  I uncloak, then I head towards him and start locking him.  I get my sebo on, as well as my weapon systems.  This should work; Iterons are slow aligning, right?  It does work.  He's locked; a round of torps hits him.

In pursuit.
Then he's gone.  What?  Where?  How?  He did not warp.  I am confused for a second, then I get it.  He jumped back through the wormhole.  I follow.

I expect to find him aligning on the other side.  But he's not in sight.  He is polarized, so he cannot jump again.  And I am certain he has not had time to align and warp.  So I conclude he must be holding gate cloak.  I immediately drop my own gate cloak, and start orbitting the wormhole at 500m, sebo on, hand poised over the overview.  When he appears I will lock him, and this time he shall not escape.

I orbit.  I orbit some more.  Evidently he is waiting out to the end of his minute.  I wonder if he has friends scrambling to help coming from C5a. This makes me nervous, but there's nothing to be done.  If the wormhole sounds, I will deal with it then.

I orbit some more.  How long is gate cloak anyway?  I thought it was no more than a minute.  I check on my local chat: it's been two minutes.  He can't be cloaked any more... and yet, no Iteron.

Oh.  Stupid me.  He must have a cloak: a normal old cloak.  He must have come through the wormhole and immediately cloaked.  I was a few seconds behind, and did not see it.  This means he will be sneaking off the wormhole.  Iteron Vs are not fast to begin with, and he will be at one-tenth or one-quarter speed.  So he is still here.  I just have to find him.

I start orbitting at 2500m.  Then 5000m.  It's slow; I realize that I'll have a much better chance to uncloak him if I turn on my microwarp.  I orbit, microwarping.  Then I cut across the wormhole to try a different orbit direction.

No pretty explosion.  I was busy.
There's the Iteron.  I have you now!  I start locking, which completes almost immediately due to the sebo, and I open up.  He's popped with the first round.  There's the pod.  I lock it, I think successfully, but before I can fire it warps clear.  How?  Ah, I have zipped beyond scrambler range due to microwarping.   Oops.  I cannot pursue since I have not scanned this system; presumably he will go back to highsec.

Let's see what he had.  I move over to the wreck and open it.  Disappointing.  Just a cloak and some cargo expanders.  (The killmail shows he had some ice products of modest value which got blown up.)  I loot and scoot out of there.

Since I am here, I'll scan.  The system does indeed have a highsec static according to  I want to find it so that my corp can get in and out.  There are 10 sigs.  I deploy probes and scan at 32AU to find and ignore any low-strength ones (the static is high strength as will be any K162s).  But there is just one.  Still, since I am not bookmarking everything and all the sigs are of the highest strength, it's not too much of a chore to scan them down.  They are all gas sites, except the static.  I go to check it out.  Sure enough, it comes out two jumps from Hek.  I bookmark it and head back in.

It is possible the guy will try to run in again, either in a new Itty V or his pod.  So, I think I will go back to sit where I sat before, on the C1 wormhole in C4b.  I enter, deploy probes, then start orbiting at 5000m.  (He might also try an interceptor.)

For the third time, I have to find and ignore previously found sites.  Sigh.  I set to it.  Once that's done, I finally scan down the last of the signatures and bookmark it.  Job complete!  Finally.

Jayne comes online.  We discuss site-running and I tell him what happened.  As this happens, I hear the wormhole noise.  Ah, what will it be?  I set my orbit to 2500m, then get ready.  It's a Helios, same guy.  It's very unlikely I can kill him, but I tell Jayne to get in position upstream as I try for it.  I uncloak and start locking, and he's gone.  Expected that.  But worth to try; you never know.

Jayne gets a bomber to our static in time to take another shot, but that one fails too, as was likely.  I expect the guy will not be trying anything else tonight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CCP Considers the Discovery Scanner

Back in the ooooold days... before Odyssey... it used to be that you'd never see any sigs at all, unless you popped out scanning probes and scanned.  Men were men, women were women, and newbies had no idea there was this entire dimension to the game if they skipped that tutorial and never read stuff online about EVE and never talked to anyone else, and had no curiousity whatsoever... 

But then CCP changed all that.  They implemented the "discovery scanner" in Odyssey, which is really several changes.  One is that every pilot now gets a general location for every signature in a system without any scanning at all.  The pilot need not do anything except enter the system.  Second, when you enter a system all its sigs and anoms are temporarily displayed on the main window.  And finally, new sigs that appear in a system are be pushed to a pilot in two circumstances: when an existing sig or anom disappears (everyone in the system gets a push), or when a particular pilot manipulates his scanner interface.  The thing I do is click on the "show anoms" checkbox, but I think many other things you can do will trigger a refresh.

(Incidentally, many players believe the discovery scanner pushes all signatures immediately without effort on the part of the pilot.  As far as I can tell, this is false.  New sigs appear only when you actively twiddle the scanner interface, with the exception that an auto-update will happen if any sig or anom goes away.  Now, twiddling the "show anoms" checkbox is not much work, but it does require player interaction, and very little more interaction than hitting "scan" on a deep space probe.  I have the feeling many players don't know it works, because I still succeed in sneaking up on them, and site runners I find often abort after completing a site, as they did in this recent post.  Penny still hates the discovery scanner with a white hot passionate hatred, and looks at outbound wormholes as nearly lost causes, while I don't.)

The discovery scanner was a success, I think, for CCP.  Along with the other changes in exploration they made in Odyssey, it got a lot of newbies into exploration.  Exploration boomed.  (Salvage prices crashed.)  I expect they are committed to it.

However there was a downside: in wspace in particular, hunting became much harder.  It used to be that competent groups would have one guy with probes out all the time.  That guy was supposed to alert the group to new sigs.  But many people would skip this, or the guy might have a bathroom break or he might be busy doing PVE in a site with his main.  If you rolled into the system, you had a decent chance to get some time to find locals doing dangerous stuff and gank them.  The discovery scanner changed that somewhat.  Everyone gets the effect of a built-in probe launcher that never needs probes; a fleet of 6 guys doing PVE has many more chances for someone to notice a new sig and alert the group to GTFO.

Wspace players have lamented the discovery scanner enough that evidently CCP Fozzie has heard.  Now he has a post up at the forums proposing delaying signatures for K162s:
We have been thinking about and discussing the way that the Sensor Overlay has affected Wormhole life, mainly in the ease with which players can now observe new wormhole signatures appearing (which often indicates that the entry of hostile players may be imminent).
We investigated what would be involved with delaying the appearance of signatures on the sensor overlay, but that solution is somewhat unsatisfactory since players could always return to the old trick of spamming probe scans to check for the new sigs. Basically, the Sensor Overlay had only made the existing problem more visible, and it would be better if we could get right to the source. 
The potential change would be to delay the appearance of the signature beacon when K162 dungeons spawn. This would prevent the dungeon from appearing on probe scans or the Sensor Overlay for up to a few minutes. ...

The delay could take a few potential forms, either a set timer of a couple minutes, a timer that has random elements or even one that is variable depending on the amount of mass that passes through the wormhole.
A "few minutes" seems to be five in the minds of some posters, but perhaps not so much in Fozzie's.  In any case, the thread is full of angsting and people saying this would kill wspace life (it wouldn't).  But mostly people just want back the pre-Odyssey scanning behavior.  I would be happy with that.  Since CCP is never going to remove the discovery scanner for newbs (and I support them in that), I feel the best compromise would be to make it a service that is provided in empire (lowsec and highsec) automatically.  It should not exist in nullsec or wspace unless the local system owner provides it.  (This idea I originally posted as a comment at this here blog.)

As for delaying signatures, I tend to agree with the majority of people in Fozzie's new thread that (a) if a thing exists it should be scannable, and (b) there should be a way to do due diligence.  But I do think it would be nice for wspace (and for kspace, too) if the hunter/gankee balance were pushed a bit more towards the hunters.  So, I posted there:

Here's what I think should be done. First, remove the discovery scanner's signature pushing in wspace. Sigs should never be detected in wspace without using probes. (This should also be the case in null unless upgraded, but that's another discussion.)

Second, give some more advantage to hunters. I think 5 minutes is too much. Here's what I think: use gate cloak. The general idea is: while gate cloak is held, that player cannot be detected in that system. In wspace, make K162s not be detectable until any ship that has crossed that wormhole drops gate cloak. As soon as any ship does drop its gate cloak, the wormhole is a normal K162 and can be scanned with probes. This gives an aggressor a minute to evaluate the situation, but he can only do it from that one position. Make a similar change to promote hunting in kspace: a player should not appear in local until he drops gate cloak.

To prevent wspace from losing connectivity, there should be a mechanic to make K162s eventually detectable. So, make it so that they have a 1/60 chance per minute to become detectable regardless of flown-throughness.

Also, the current design of ore anoms that are immediately knowable is unfair to rock miners. Miners cannot fight back; they should have the protection of being in a sig site. (And also mining is crap income by comparison to other stuff in wspace.) By contrast, a PVE fleet has significant PVP capability. Please revert the change that put ore sites in anoms.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Appropriate Caution

Things are kind of back to normal in my system.  We've killed off the vultures that pecked at our corpse before we de-zombified.  (I admit it: bad simile.)  We've not got all the stuff we have become used to, but we've got to tighten our metaphorical belts and deal.  One thing I can do is jump in Blindside, my trusty Manticore, and go hunting.  (Blindside survived the recent unpleasantness on one of our Orcas.)

Our static has timed out and self-popped.  So we're zipped up.  But there's nothing to do here.  We have a gas site, but I have no Ventures.  (Note to self: get in new Ventures.)  I guess I will open up and see what's up in C4b.

I warp out to a safespot, then fire probes and scan.  Our static is easy to pick out, being one sig of two.  I scan it quickly then align to the resolved sig.  Once my speed is up, I warp.  I want to give the minimum warning to anyone on the other side.  I land on grid with the wormhole, and I head towards it.  Then I bookmark it, and jump through.

On the other side, I don't see anything on scan.  Just some customs offices.  Typical.   But I am at an outer planet, so there is still hope.  I fire probes, move off the wormhole, and cloak.  Then I throw the probes out of the system.  There are several planets out of my dscan range, and these might have someone doing something.  I don't want to alarm them with probes until I discover that they actually don't exist.

I warp to an inner planet... and dscan shows a small gang.  No wrecks, so it is probably at a tower.  I point at some local planets: not there, not there, not there.  Hmm.  Try a 360 dscan again.  Yes, they are still there.

A sleeper wreck is also there. 

A sleeper wreck means one thing: I have site runners.  Site runners mean site salvagers.  And that means ganky PVP.  My pulse rises.  My eyebrows raise up a notch.  Then my eyes narrow.  My nose twitches.  My hearing grows more acute.  Yes: the hunt is on.

The enemy in action.
First things first: find the anom the enemy gang is in.  I narrow the dscan aperture and point it at various anoms.  Ah, there it is.  I warp to the anom at 100km.  Yes, the gang's all here.  Two Ishtars, a pair of Basilisks, two battleships.  No rush.  I'll just move back and make a perch as I watch.  As I move back, one of the enemy throw out a mobile tractor unit.

Ugh.  That's bad for my potential earnings.  But I'll keep watching.  Ganking beats money any day.

I get back at 150km, then keep going.  It only really matters how far the tractor unit is.  I bookmark at about 200km, and that is far enough.  Now I sit and watch and wait.  The encounter now depends on the enemy.  Will they do something stupid like put an unescorted salvager out for me to kill?

A Noctis... mmm.
The last wave of sleepers enters, and they slowly kill it.  Last one gone, I wait for them to warp off to the next site.  But they don't.  Instead, on dscan I see an Noctis.  Mmm, Noctis.  A perfect target once they warp off.

They don't warp off.

The enemy Noctis lands on grid, then starts salvaging.  The enemy don't leave.  I am not about to try an attack versus Ishtars, much less the other stuff present.  So I just watch.  Maybe they will make a mistake...

They don't.  When the last wreck is salvaged, they all warp off.  Now I am alone in the site.  I watch dscan, hoping they go to another anom.   But they don't.  Instead they disappear.  Hmm.

I warp around the system to look for them, but they are gone.  My guess is they saw my new wormhole via the discovery scanner and GTFOed.

Kudos to you, enemy gang.  You escorted your salvager, got your loot, then got out.  That seems about right to me. 

Friday, March 21, 2014


Two days ago, we smashed into reinforced mode an undefended small tower that appeared in our system.  Yesterday, as the reinforcement timer ticked down, we logged in to find the tower was stripped.  Not only were all the ships gone that they had had sitting out in the bubble.  The SMA and CHA were gone too!  I did not know you could unanchor modules from a reinforced tower.

(I find the possibility to unanchor loot-carrying POS parts from a reinforced tower rather unfair.  Say that you know you are going to lose a tower, and you want to deny the stuff in your CHA to the enemy.  Unanchor it!  Everything in it is lost, but it was going to be lost anyway.  And you get it back, at least.  Or worse: an X-Large SMA.  It's packed with ships that you know you cannot get out.  Perhaps there are some T2s that you cannot fly, so you cannot self-destruct them.  And in any case, taking three minutes per ship to self-destruct is very tedious!  No problem!  Just unanchor the XLSMA and everything in it is gone.)

Anyway, I don't think there should be a problem tonight getting rid of the tower.  Since the enemy evidently departed, I think it is unlikely they will be hanging around the system.

I log on about 7:30, and immediately warp out in my Manticore to have a look at the tower.  It should have come out of reinforced mode at about 6:00.  Sure enough.

Now time to look at signatures.  I need to get stuff in.  If we have a decent connection, that's more important and the tower can wait.  But there are only two sigs.  One is an old data site that's been around a few days.  So the other is our static.  This means we are almost certain to be zipped up.  Well, being zipped up is great for shooting the tower.  Unfortunately, nobody is on but me.  But I figure that Von and my alt together using torps can do the job.

I warp back to the tower, and log on my alt.  Then I get both characters into torpedo Ravens, and tweak the fits slightly.  No 100mn afterburner needed, and replace some of the normal drones with two bouncers we happen to have.  (Gardes would be better, but we don't have any.)  Then it is off to the tower, at 20km.  Both guys lock, deploy drones, and start shooting.  The tower is at 31% initially.

Time passes.  I am making slow progress against the shields.  It will take a while, but there's nothing else to do.  Well, actually, I could log in my market alt and buy stuff.  But then I don't think I'd have enough DPS here.  I'll just keep plonking away.

The minutes pass.  After the first fifteen minutes or so I relax a lot.  If anyone is here watching, they have had plenty of time to do whatever they are going to do.  I am alone in my own private wspace system.  All I have to do to stay safe is keep nudging the discovery scanner every time I reload.  Nudge, nudge, nudge.  Two sigs, two sigs, two sigs.  All is fine.

The tower's shields last an hour.  I have to fly back once to get more torpedos.  I synchronize my two characters shooting, so that they both reload at the same time.  Then I start reading blogs in the two minutes of firing.  (Eve is boring.)  Eventually, I am into the tower's armor.   Do something else; shoot; nudge.  Still two sigs.

Just as I am passing half structure, some of the guys start to log in.  I tell them to get out there if they want a piece of the kill.  A couple of them do in time.  The last bit goes fast.  Boom.
I like a tidy house.

We open up our static.  C4b is a not a great system given my desire to transport stuff.  It has a C5 static.  That's not a good prospect for a safe route to highsec.  But we search it down anyway.  C5 has a C4 static.  The guys have an amusing mistake where they go back into C4b thinking it is C4c.  They search it down a good ways before noticing there's a bookmark from me here.  How'd that get here?  And why does this system have the same layout as C4b... oh.  Eventually we find the real C4c; it has a C4 static.  OK, that's enough.  No transport tonight.  I am going ghostbusting.

Hiljah does eventually find a way out: hs->C3a->C4d->C4c->C5a->C4b->home.  We bring in a few guys in Epithals that escaped the recent unpleasantness.  That's enough for tonight.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Economics of the New Reprocessing

Check out the latest dev blog.  It seems that CCP is going to substantially overhaul the reprocessing system (both ore and stuff).  ("Reprocessing" == "refining".  The latter word will be retired.)

The gist of it is that reprocessing will top out at much less than 100%.  For ore and ice, at a 50% efficient station, the max will be 72.4% with perfect skills and a 4% implant.  To compensate for this, they are going to increase the refining yield of all ores by 38.1% (1/0.724).  This keeps the value of mining essentially constant.

(Update: this is wrong.  Thanks, Gev.)  There is no mention of increasing all ore stocks by 38%.  So I infer they won't do that.  Which means something interesting: all ore held on patch day will suddenly be reprocessable for 38% more minerals than the day before.  Ore holders get a nice windfall.  Thus, we can expect the market for ore to go up, starting, well, now.  Or even before now, depending on how much the news has leaked.  But a quick look at tritanium at Eve Markets does not show anything.  A profit opportunity.  (Of course, the "interest rate" for holding ore is not going to be huge.  Still, anything is better than what one currently gets, namely, zero.)

Meanwhile, I expect a lot of manufacturing to be put on hold.  Consider the situation of a miner: if you simply hold on to ore for ~2 months (or whatever), you get 38% more for it.  So, why refine/sell now?  Many will sell to fund this or that, but many others will be happy to bank their ore.  This means minerals will go up, and indeed the entire manufacturing chain down stream.  However, these other things won't go up as much, because come patch day, they are not magically worth 38% more.  Thus, in effect, manufacturing is squeezed.  You can still make good profit, probably, if you are fast about selling.

Scrap reprocessing is going to be heavily nerfed.  The maximum efficiency will drop from 100% to 55% (maybe a bit more with an implant; not clear).  This means that a bunch of low-meta items will drop to about half their current price, since much of their demand is tied to mineral prices via reprocessing.

There will also be interesting effects on other markets.  In particular, scrapping is a vital means for getting minerals out to null.  This change will in effect abolish that practice overnight.  As such, anything built in null will be much more laborious (more jump-freighter runs), or perhaps locally sourced.

There are two interesting changes for wspace (and null) dwellers.  First, POS refining will be de-nerfed from far, far worse than a station (max yield of 75% and takes four hours), to be slightly better.  An intensive refining array will get a base rate of 54% to reprocessing yield, as versus the 50% at a station.  An outpost will be able to get up 60%!  And it will take 10 seconds.  (The current situation is insane.)  So, good for CCP!  I was planning to leave mining entirely, but now I am not so sure.  

Second, the medium refinery will go away to be replaced with a compressor (acts like a Rorqual).   I am not sure whether we'd use that or not; it depends on whether compressed ores are allowed into ore bays.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Phoenix and Vulture

It's been a quiet few days for me.  Mainly that is because my main and my second account lesser main are trapped out in highsec.  I have an emergency backup scanner alt on one of my accounts, and he is in my system.  But I dislike trying to scan out using a Heron.  And that's especially true when there are squatters in my wormhole.

Squatters?  Well, perhaps vultures is a better label.  They moved in the day after TNC killed my tower.  I am guessing that someone found the siege underway and decided to set up shop.  However they have not committed firmly to it.  They have a small tower set up at our outer planet, with no hardeners or defenses.

We are not leaving this system, at least not without a fight.  But to get ready for that fight, we need a tower up first.  We need some new ships brought in.  Our existing ships are mostly packed with various stuff that I don't want to PVP with.  So we need a place to put that.  Also, we need the fittings we stripped off of our Ravens and other ships.

To fight the enemy, we need a working tower.  But to get the tower working, we need a lot of bulky parts.  To get in bulky parts, we need some dangerous hauling.  To mitigate the danger, we need characters in cloaky ships watching and guarding wormholes.  So, we have plans to move in characters and lots of replacement stuff.  However, for a couple days EVE has not been cooperating.  Last night our only connection went to nullsec.  I cannot roll our hole without exposing some serious ISK to danger, because our logged-out ships are all packed with stuff.  Indeed, I personally cannot roll our hole at all, by myself.

Tonight our kspace connection goes ls->C3a->C5a->C4b->home.  That's fine for getting in a cloaky ship, and probably also fine for a pod or very nimble frigate.  But it's not the sort of connection you'd want to run an Iteron V or Orca through, especially one stuffed to the gills with expensive POS parts.

When I get home from work, I take the opportunity to get Otto in, though, in a newly bought Cheetah.  There are two lowsec connections into C3a; he uses one about 10 jumps from Jita.  The C3->C5 wormhole is EOL, but he has no trouble.  It's nice to have a scanner back in.  I check around the system, and don't see any of our new enemy.  Then I log Otto out and get busy with my Jita alt buying all sorts of stuff that we will need.  A tower, guns, ECMs, more fuel.  I am trying using buy orders now, trying to save some money.  (I accidentally buy a big chunk of the wrong fuel, then immediately sell it, making a very modest profit.)

Otto is in; Von is not.  I still cannot do very much.  I need my guys and a better connection.  And also I have things to do: dinner, etc.  I go offline for an hour.

First thing I do once back is try to get Von in.  There is a second lowsec connection to C3 that is closest, about 15 jumps away out in Aridia.  I head out, while tweaking market orders on my Jita alt.  I am worried about the EOL wormhole I found earlier, but I don't want to check it out from above since I am busy.  Finally I get out to the right system, only to find out that the lowsec connection wormhole is gone.  Rats.  It's about 30 jumps to the other lowsec wormhole, and given that the EOL one is probably also expired, I am not inclined to try to go there.  I just sit cloaked out in Aridia while I wait for my guys to show up.

Jayne shows up first and tries to get a character who is at Jita in.  This must be via the lowsec wormhole that Otto used.  As he goes there, I log in Otto and search down from above.  And it does indeed turn out that the EOL wormhole has gone poof.   There is good news, though, sort of.  Our static has gone EOL.  Since I have not been watching, I don't know when it did.  I am not even sure it was not EOL when I brought in Otto.  So it might go any time.  But it is most likely to go in a few hours.

Since we cannot pop it, there's nothing to do but wait.  Jayne does a few things then logs off.  I'll text him if we get a good connection before 11:00.  I sit watching the wormhole, but I am paying scant attention.  I am listening to music and reading EVE blogs.  And I fly Von from the rear end of nowhere back to Jita.  Jita is always a good place to base from.

Eventually I pay attention, and our static is gone!  It's just 8:30.  I had not expected that.  It must have been EOL earlier and I just did not notice.  Real alert there, dummkopf.  I deploy probes and start scanning.

C4b has 9 sigs.  The first one I search down is a wormhole.  I warp to it: blue.  That's a C2, and it will have a highsec static.  Bingo.  I search does the other sigs to look for other wormholes.  There is a C3 static, which may or may not lead anywhere useful.  Then there is a second C2 wormhole, so I will have some options.  And there's a bunch of gas and relic sites which I don't resolve.

I head into C2a.  It has ten sigs, six of which turn out to be wormholes.  I came in one.  I find a nullsec link, a highsec that is EOL, another C2, a C1 (I think -- hard to tell them apart from C2), and finally the penultimate sig I scan down is the static highsec.  The final sig is also a wormhole.  I bookmark it for later, then head out into highsec.  Where am I?  Nice: out in the Forge about 6 jumps from Jita.  That'll do quite nicely.  Our new connection is hs->C2a->C4b->C4a.  Not ideal, but much better than average.  I text Jayne.  Timmay showed up while I was scanning, so I link the system in corp chat.  He has a guy to get back in.

I fly Von over and up, leaving him in C4b watching the wormhole to C2a.  Then I wait, keeping eyes on our static with Otto, while people come in.  I don't see anyone.  Jayne gets a blockade runner, and exits out to fly to Jita to pick up our new tower and some fuel to online it.  Timmay takes over scout-duty on our static.  I log in my Jita alt, and start buying stuff.

Jayne gets the tower in, and gets it anchoring.  He also grabs the six large bubbles that TNC had deployed there -- they could not fit them, but unanchored them before leaving as a nice gesture to us.  As the 30 minutes anchoring time tick down, I buy an Orca-load of various stuff to come in: POS parts, fuel, and stront.  I have to cut it down a lot to fit.  But finally I am off.  There's a moment of excitement when Jayne goes to online the tower.  He puts fuel in and does the online command, when a stealth bomber uncloaks.  Luckily, it's not in range to scram (or perhaps has no point) and Jayne gets away without a scratch.  But now we know the enemy is on and watching us.  We'll have to be extra careful moving around stuff.  We put Timmay in a Proteus guarding the static.

My alt brings the Orca across wspace to our system with no problems.  Then he warps to a random celestial at 100 km, and cloaks.  We wait for the tower to online.  Once it does, Jayne and I swap ships so that he's got the Orca and I have just a pod; I pod back out to kspace and head to Jita.  I'll get the Orca out later; for now it's needed to hold and move bulky stuff.  Jayne starts deploying the POS, starting with the ship maintenance array (i.e. ship hangar) and the component assembly array (storage).  Then he deploys a few small guns and other defenses.  The guns have no ammo (oops), and I forgot the neutralizer.  But it is a start.

At Jita, I now buy two new Ravens.  Then I buy fittings for a mostly travel arrangement, enough torps to fire for an hour or two straight from four Ravens, ammo for our POS guns, etc.  All this stuff goes in a freighter.  Also I load in the other POS parts and some more fuel which I had to leave at Jita earlier.  Then I set off for the highsec transfer system.

In our system, the guys are logging in some of the ships we had logged out in safespots.  We need Hiljah for the bash, so we shoot him an email.  I get someone else to watch the C2 wormhole so that I can fly in the two Ravens.  I head to our new tower, which looks awfully empty.  (No more x-large SMA for us.  Our in-system fleet will be minimal.)  Then I pod out to highsec.  When my alt gets there, I spend some time fitting up the Ravens.

There's a bit of excitement: the enemy brings in a blockade runner.  Timmay tries to stop it, but blockade runners are hard to catch.  I had not realized they had explored the wormhole: we've been on it almost all the time.  But it is possible they got to it before I did.  It zooms off to the tower to do who knows what.  Eventually it leaves.

I ferry in the two new Ravens, seeing nothing.  I am actually hoping that the guy in the bomber takes a shot at me, but he doesn't.  I refit back into my Tengu so that I help watch the static.  If they try another run in, perhaps I can lock in time or decloak it.

Hiljah appears, happily. This means our bash will happen.  But before that, we still have over 180000m^3 of stuff to go in.  We also have a bunch of stuff to go out (gas, PI goods, etc.) that was saved from the recent attack.  Hiljah and Jayne each get an alt into an Orca, then head out together, with me escorting.  Orcas warp painfully slowly.  But there is no attack, and they make it safely.  They give their cargo to my alt, and he gives them POS parts and stront.  It does not all fit even in two Orcas, so we have to triage.  Then the guys undock and return to wspace.  (I can now log off my Jita alt and get Otto back on to watch the enemy tower.)  I escort the Orcas back up.  Again the slow transit of wspace is nerve wracking, but no attack comes, and we get to the tower safely.

It's getting late, but everyone will stay until we get that tower in reinforcement.  We all hope it is not stronted and we can kill it.  It takes us quite a while to get our ships together, fitted as we want, etc.  Finally we are ready to go.

We form a small fleet of Ravens and start plonking at the tower.  I have been watching the enemy tower for a while; it has four empty ships in it.  As guys show up, Jayne sees a Nemesis off in space.  I tell him, silly, it's unmanned at the tower.  He says it's not at the tower.  I look again.  He's right -- it is not at the tower.  I was right it is not piloted.  Hiljah starts killing it.  Hey, we can capture it!  Stop!  But it's too late.  Well, at least the enemy does not have it.

(Later, we try to concoct a story as to why anyone would eject from a fitted T2 frigate near, but not within, a force field.  Here's mine: he was about to log off.  He was going to warp back to his tower but then decided to log out in space near his tower, so he could activate his cloak on logon and not be seen warping back into  the tower.  So he warped to ~50 from the tower.  He has become used to ejecting before logging out, and that's what he did, forgetting that he was not within the force field.)

Long story short: no enemy seen, we hammer the enemy tower, and the enemy tower did indeed have stront.  (I bet that is what the blockade runner was for.)  The enemy tower is reinforced; it will come out on Thursday at ~6:00 PM.  We'll see what happens then.
Today it's my system.
We get back to our tower, and people head to bed.  But not me -- there is a POS to put up.  I anchor and online the most important modules, and put ammo in the guns.  It's still not great, but it will have to do until tomorrow.  Gad, what an awful interface.  But I'll admit I kind of like playing internet-spaceship-tinkertoys.

Monday, March 17, 2014


It's the middle of Friday night, actually Saturday morning.  Von is shut out of my system, useless to the siege of my tower.  My tower will soon die, and billions of ISK in loot destroyed or captured.  I want to go to bed.  But there are a few things left to do.  My alt, Otto, is still in the system in his Cheetah.

We stripped most of our ships when the attack first came.  But we left a battleship each, along with some other potentially useful ships fitted (logis, Cheetahs, etc.).  We hoped that the battleships might be able to make a difference in some fight for wormhole control.  This did not happen; the enemy was much too strong.  I want to strip all remaining ships, and get as much of that loot as possible safe out of the POS.

Hiljah is with me.  I warp Otto into the tower, having to slowboat across the last tens of kilometers due to the bubble wrap.  This is quite safe because I am cloaked.  I enter the tower and zip across to the ship maintenance array.  I make a jetcan to work with, then I set to, getting into ships and stripping them.  Hiljah is handling the battleships that we did not strip earlier, hoping for some chance to use.  I work on various cruisers and lighter stuff.  Most of our best fittings we have already evacuated.  Much of the stuff left is T2 fittings, with some cheap faction items.  Still, at roughly 1 million ISK per 5m^3 for the better items, it is worth the trouble to save.

My computer locks up.  I have noticed some stability problems recently, with either video card turning off its outputs but the computer still apparantly working (coms stay on), or sometimes a hard lockup.  It may be related to showing bubbles, because I have seen it a couple times in my bubble-wrapped tower.  This is nuisance.  I restart the computer, then have to wait to log into windows, log into EVE, and warp back into my POS.  Cut me a break, I want to get this done and get to bed.

Finally, I do the last ship.  I realize I have forgotten the drones on most of the ships, but I don't care at this point.  It's good enough. 

Now I go through the fittings, looking for the most valuable ones per volume.  As I do this, I realize that my current Cheetah is not very well fit.  In fact I had not rigged it yet.  So, I jetcan its contents so far, strip it, then get one of the Cheetahs that I have stripped already.  Then I fit it up.  As I do this, I realize that I can use the empty high slot to fit a second stealth cloak.  Stealth cloaks are huge (100m^3) but fairly expensive.  They are not worth saving in cargo, but slots are not cargo limited.

Finally I am fit how I want.  I could warp straight out of the bubble; the enemy has left some holes.  But we don't know that they know that, and I want to leave the option for other non-cloaky ships to warp out that way.  I figure I can exit almost anywhere; they won't bother to try to decloak a Cheetah.  So I head out to edge of the force field.  As soon as I cross it, I will engage the cloak; there will be no time for even a very fast locker to stop me because Cheetahs have a tiny signature.

I cross the edge, and hit my cloak.  Disallowed!  What?  You cannot cloak with two fitted cloaks, even if one is offline.  I immediately turn and head back towards the force field, and turn on my microwarp.  I don't make it -- pop goes the Cheetah.  I am in my pod; again I head to safety.  This time I make it.  Whew.

Grumble.  Curse you CCP.  (Not to mention my own ignorance.)  No sleep for me.

I slowboat back up to the SMA and get out a second Cheetah, and fit it up.  Just one stealth cloak, OK CCP?  Fortunately there is still one probe launcher left and some probes.  Then I load it up with the best remaining stuff, and again I head out.  Again I am carefully watching for the edge of the force field, to turn on my cloak.
This is how I feel.

As I near the edge, my video card turns off again.  I still hear Hiljah though.  I am moving towards danger!  I hit the power button on my computer as fast as I can, but I have to hold it for a few seconds to get the reboot.  Finally it reboots.  Now I must wait, then log in, and start EVE, and wait, then log in, and wait.  I do this.  I get on coms, too.  Hiljah tells me I died.  Uh oh.  There I am in my pod, warping back into my tower.  I land on grid, outside of my tower.  I head for safety of the force field, but this time I do not make it.  Podded.

Double damn.  I say good night and good luck to Hiljah.  Then I head off to bed, finally.

A few hours later, the tower comes out of reinforced.  The enemy kill it.  Then they kill everything that might contain loot.  (Only one thing does contain loot, the X-large ship maintenance array.)  Then they kill all the things.  I don't know why they bothered killing all those incapacitated POS parts, but I guess it pads the killboard.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It's Friday night, and that means our tower has just a few hours left before it comes out of reinforced.  I have contracted with Noir to come in and smash my enemies.  But I am not very hopeful this will actually work, because to get Noir in requires the enemy to make a mistake.

I log on about 9:00 to get my guys on and watching.  A quick check reveals there to be six sigs in the system.  I expected five: three gas sites, a data site, and our static.  Is there a new gas site?  Maybe a wormhole?  Time to scan.

I don't see anyone on dscan, but that does not mean anything.  I expect they have a cloaky who can see the tower, either with eyes on, or at least via dscan.  And similarly they will have a guy on who can see and hear the static wormhole.  But they may not have a guy who can see our outer planet.  I warp out there to a safespot to deploy probes.  I see nothing on dscan there, either.  I get my probes out and throw them out of the system.

It is possible that a site has despawned, so I order a warp to each one (and then immediately cancel) in order to check to see if it still exists.  (This works because you get the site's popup immediately upon ordering a warp.)  All four sites still exist.  Now I try to pick them out from the overlapping spheres.  I can remove two, but the others are too overlapped.  Time to scan.

A lovely blue K162.
I scan as fast as I can.  The new sig is a wormhole.  That is interesting.  I warp to both wormholes to see their state.  Our static is at half mass.  The new wormhole is a K162 from C2.  In C4, this means a highsec exit!  ("A blue K162 means highsec for you."

If I had a fleet on standby in highsec, I might be able to get it in.  However, I don't.  Noir is not going to stand to until 3:00 AM.  But I can still exit to highsec, and put bookmarks in the nearest station.  I doubt that the enemy will fail to close this wormhole.  Still, maybe they will make an inexplicable blunder.  I get Otto, my second-account alt, to watch the K162 in his Cheetah.  I will want to know immediately if the enemy starts crashing the wormhole.  Then I exit to C2a.

The system has five sigs.  I scan them down fully, in case there is more than one useful wormhole.  In fact there is a second highsec, but it is EOL.  I don't explore it since it will be gone by the time I would need it.  I find the static wormhole last, and exit into a system in Amarr highsec.  I bookmark the one station, then fly to it and copy my bookmarks, and place them there.  Now I can contract them to Noir in the event that the connection is still open in five hours.  Grasping at straws.

I dscan back in my system.  Still no probes.  I want to dump off my load of stuff from my Tengu.  (In particular, my corpse collection, which unlike everything else I have cannot be replaced.)  I'd prefer to leave this stuff at Amarr, and not this station in the middle of nowhere.  Also I want to buy some nanite paste in case I need to overheat stuff again.  It is six jumps to Amarr.  I decide to risk the trip, and set out.  I make it to Amarr and still have not seen probes.  So I dump my stuff, and buy nanite paste.  Then I diddle around with my fit for a bit, trying to decide which stuff to leave.  Do I need my mobile depot and parts to refit into ghostbusting mode?  No.

I am still waffling on what to carry when my scout sees probes in my system.  OK, my pleasant interlude of fit-crafting is up.  Back to virtual reality.  I depart Amarr and start burning across highsec to the entrance.  The probes get close.  Then they vanish.  Meanwhile, I have gotten to the entrance, and entered C2a in my Tengu.  As I do this, my alt sees an enemy scout cross into C2a.  That's not good.  I warp the Tengu to the wormhole at 20km in time to see the scout decloak and move off.  He does not warp.  Of course he might warp any time after cloaking.  I start watching in C2a for the scout's probes.  If he scans the system down, they may plan to leave it around to get their own guys in.  If he does not scan, then they will certainly pop it.

No probes.  But I see ships on scan in my system.  A Vargur, and Onyx, and a battleship.  They appear on grid, and the two big ships cross and return.  They are stressing the wormhole.  They warp off after their pass, and I take the opportunity to come in unmolested.  Of course they will have seen it.  But there's nothing I can do about that.  I warp off to a safespot.  My alt watches as their scout return, and they collapse the wormhole, finally using the Onyx for the last bit.

Nothing to do now but wait.  I think about putting my scout at the static wormhole, but I have had some stability problems after Rubicon 1.3, and decide this is a bad idea.  It's not like I will be watching anyway.  I will be reading a book and then trying to get some sleep.  So I warp him to a safespot.

Now I need to try to sleep.

Later.  Much later.  I set my alarm for 1:45 AM.  I did get about an hour of sleep, which is something but not enough.  I get up and get on the computer.  Hiljah has logged on, but is not around right now.  That's good.  I check the situation.  The wormhole to C4b is at half mass, which is not good.  But it should still be usable if I can scan out.  Nobody is currently there.  I watch.  I could send Von out and start scanning now, but Alekseyev said start an hour before, so that I will do.  I don't see a lot of hope here, but I still have a little.  Perhaps the enemy will be lax in observing the wormhole, wanting to leave it open to get in their guys.  Then I might be able to bring in Noir.

In a few minutes, this notion starts to fade.  Someone comes in: them.  The enemy Onyx warps in.  I see several ships show up and cloak.  Not good.  Obviously they grasp the importance of this location, and they are online.  They swap some goods.  Then they all cloak or warp off.  The wormhole looks clear, but it is not.

Hiljah says something in chat, and we get on coms. More enemies enter from the wormhole, one here, another there.   Eventually it is getting close to 2:45, which is when I am going to try to get out regardless of how obvious it is.  Hiljah logs on an alt at the tower.  Perhaps because of this, some of the enemy uncloak and warp off of the wormhole.  I decide to go for it.

I cross the wormhole.  On the other side is an interceptor.  I attempt to warp, and it locks me as I initiate warp to a random customs office.  I hear the wormhole noise: they are coming to support.  I start locking back the interceptor, figuring that I may need to damage him to get him off me.  Then, zoom -- I warp.  Evidently my warp core stabilization was sufficient.  I cloak up as soon as the lock is broken.  I'll give the pilot credit: I warped to a customs office (at 70km), and there he is behind me.  He saw where I went and gave it a try.  I warp off cloaked to a second celestial.  That'll lose him.

A picket on the wormhole to C3.
Now I fire probes and start scanning the system.  I am glad to see that it has a C3 static.  However, as I search more and more ships mass in my system at the wormhole.  I find the C3; there are no other wormholes.  Should I go into C3a?  I warp over to the wormhole to look at it.  There's a Legion there.  They will certainly know if I cross it.

I can see that I have a losing position.  They probably have enough ships to collapse the wormhole in one go.  If I go into C3 and continue scanning, they can collapse the wormhole and I probably won't even have the time to get back in.  And even if I do, they have an impressive fleet sitting at the wormhole.  This will undoubtedly include the interceptor I have seen.  I may be able to get through, but I probably will get killed and podded out.

But on the other hand, if I remain in C4b doing nothing, I am absolutely guaranteed not to get in Noir.  So I must try, even though the chance is nearly zero.  I bolt past the Legion and jump into C3a.  It follows, but I easily cloak, and then get into warp, before it can do anything.

I barely have time to get out probes and they start collapsing the wormhole.   My alt sees the entrance of the various ships that have been looking for me in C4b.  Most of them take up positions orbiting the wormhole.  Quite a gauntlet to run!
Enter and die.
I am out of hope and at this point, unwilling to play out the likely loss of my Tengu for practically nothing.  Even if I do get back in, I see no hope of scanning out of the next incarnation of my static.  I will face the exact same problem, except that now I know for certain that they have a full fleet here to keep tabs on the wormhole.

They collapse the wormhole, and I am still sitting in C3a.  Gone, out of the fight, and out of fight.  I am in a chat with Alekseyev, and I regretfully tell him to stand down.  I can't get an entrance.  TNC has proper hole control.

Endgame.  Checkmate.  I log off Von in disgust.  I'll get him out to highsec some other day.

Well, at least I can get some sleep tonight.  But not yet. There is yet work to do.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Battened Down

I am writing this on Friday, although I will not publish it until later.  You cannot expect timely truth from a blogger at war.

As expected, my tower has been hammered into reinforced mode.  (Parenthetically, "reinforced" as a verb is horrific in that it means the exact opposite of its non-POS meaning.  This confused me as a newb.  I understand why people need a verb for this, but couldn't whoever coined it have come up with something non-confusing?)  Now, there is waiting. 

As soon as the enemy went for our main tower and I realized our predicament, I contacted Noir.  Alekseyev Karrde has gotten back to me, and we have made a contract.   Our plan is simple: I will scan out in the hours before our tower comes out of reinforced, and bring them in.  If I can.  (The Night Crew will have their say.)  If I succeed... well, I don't actually expect that.

If I do manage it, I expect Noir to win the fight for hole control,  although that is not certain either.  It would, at the very least, be very exciting.  Content for everyone.

This is the main reason I did not want to fight when the enemy first went for my POS.  I felt my corp's chances alone, even with the tower defenses to support us, were worse than the chances with Noir, even discounting for the likelihood that I will not be able to get Noir in. 

Can I get Noir in?  That's the million ISK question today.  Will The Night Crew have good hole control?  I will attempt to slip out just before our tower comes out of reinforced, then scan out, and bring in Noir.  I think it is highly doubtful this will work.  I have not seen the enemy make any clear mistakes.  If I were them, I'd keep eyes and ears -- at least ears -- on the wormhole out as much as I have men for.  And I would disrupt it to 10% mass any time I did not need it for my own movements. 

That said, sieging for two days 24/7 has to be tiring.  And also my corp has kept activity to a minimum.  We have not tried to blow up the bubblewrap around our tower.  We have not tried to get out anything, even scanners.  Perhaps the enemy will grow complacent with our apparent acceptance of defeat, and not reduce the wormhole.

Or perhaps the wormhole will be destabilized as I expect.  Then I will attempt, though without much hope, to pop it, rescan covertly, and get out via the new static, and scanned down to kspace, and bring in Noir, all before they re-reduce it.  Good luck on that.  Probably get killed.  But have to try.

We have extracted as much of our wealth as possible from the tower, stripped all the ships except those we may make our last stand in.  (I'll strip those tomorrow if the enemy maintain proper hole control.)  We've sneaked it all out in various ships and logged it out in separate safespots.  The enemy will capture many ships.  There's an interesting argument as to whether we should insurance-fraud them.  (That is, suicide our ships.  This pays out insurance (?), and so has positive value for us.  OTOH, many wspace corps hate it and find it terribly unsporting.)  My feeling is we should not, because the enemy has had the capability to smash our POCOs, but he has not taken it.  That is, they have not chosen scorched earth, and so we should reciprocate.  Quid quo pro.  Some of my guys feel differently though.

This morning we scanned down the wormhole, to make sure it was instantiated before 13:00.  This means it will not be EOL within the timeframe when Noir will be standing to.

There is nothing left to do.   We wait.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Threat from Marauders

My POS, currently near death's door, is a large dickstar.  (This charming name for it I found online, not my fault.)  The design uses almost all ECMs, along with a modest number of guns and webs, etc. to make it possible for the tower to focus enough nasty to kill a solo pilot who accidentally uncloaks.  But it is the ECMs (and shield hardness, to some extent) that are the crux of the idea.  My tower has some 40 ECMs, around 10 of each kind.  However we also have an x-large ship maintenance array.  (In retrospect, bad idea; see below.)  By skimping on ship storage we could get up around 64 ECMs.

Now, I don't know exactly how ECMs work in the event of attack.  (I should have paid more attention in the recent unpleasantness.)  But my naive model for what they do is randomly pick a ship, then lock it and jam it.  Then they randomly pick again.  So they will waste a fair amount of time locking and relocking.  Still, each jam hits with a jam strength of 15 if it's of the wrong flavor, or 45 if it is lucky.  45 will jam about any ship other than those with ECCM, and even them, often.  Even 15 will jam most ships most of the time.  (Most battleships have a strength of around 25, and the chance to jam is the jam strength divided by sensor strength, so about 60% against a battleship.)

So, to attack a dickstar takes a substantial number of ships, especially at the beginning.  A fleet of 20 would spend most of its time jammed out.  The chance for any given ship to be jam-free for a cycle is about (19/20)^50, which is about 7.6%.  Of the ones with at least one jammer attempting, at minimum 60% are jammed; many have more than one jammer trying or they have one of the faction-specific auto-jams.  It's harder to analyze this mathematically, so I'll just wave hands and declare another 5 ships are jam-attempted but once; about two of them will thus go unjammed.  So some damage does get through, usually about 3 ships.  Against 64 ECMs, it's worse.  Anyway, it was until Rubicon.

Enter bastion mode.  The bastion module was introduced in Rubicon, and only Marauders can fit them.  In bastion mode, a Marauder gets much more tank: 30% more hardness for shields and armor, which does not have a stacking penalty.  Also, it gets +100% shield and armor self-repping.  It becomes ECM-proof.  On the downside, it is immobile and cannot get remote-repaired.  But the ECM-immunity is the key.  A fleet of 10 Marauders (this is what the Late Night Crew brought to my system) can simply ignore ECM.  They can focus on any defenses which they don't like, with full fleet firepower.

A marauder in bastion mode can rather easily tank anything on a tower, excepting neuts.  For example: a Minmatar tower can dish at maximum about 2500 omni DPS with decent range -- and that if it only onlines guns.  Get out your EFT and design a Golem with a Pith-C extra large shield booster, and otherwise tech II.  Get the cap-stable tank above 2500.  Pretty easy.  The only way a tower can possibly kill a Golem like this is by neuting it out.  If you are willing to control shield repairing by hand, you can get an even better tank.  You can also push the tank to impressive levels by spending on faction stuff.

So what about a POS with lots of neuts?  Well, for one thing, neuts are very hard on your power budget.   Every neut you online means taking offline about 200 DPS.  But also computer-controlled neuts are just as stupid as ECMs.  They won't try to neut out an enemy, and then keep him flat while hammering with guns.  They'll neut a bit, then randomly pick a different target.  Neuting a bit here, a bit there, won't slow down a fleet larger than a small gang at all.

Still, even if it is rare, a few neuts which luckily focus on the same ship for a while, along with guns applying damage, would get some kills.  Marauders are quite expensive.  So it's worth thinking about how the Marauder fleet might counter the threat from automated neuts.  And that's pretty easy, actually.  Have a mobile depot; deploy it where you are parked.  Now if the tower starts really neuting hard, swap out low-slot items for capacitor flux coils.  VoilĂ !  A dramatic boost to cap recharge.  Once the neut moves on and the capacitor rebounds a little, swap the damage mods back in.

This does require a bit of attention to the capacitor.  However, it only requires attention during the relatively short period when the attacking fleet reduces the neuts, which is probably the first thing they will do.  Once the neuts are all incapacitated, the fleet is safe from anything the tower can do.

What about neuts and guns with humans running the weapons?  Well, that would work.  But I cannot rely on it, and probably you cannot either, unless you are a relatively large corp.  There are large swaths of time when I am sleeping or at work.  Since I want to play at the same time as my few corpmates, I discriminate against people not my general timezone.  Thus my tower has large periods of non-coverage.  All an attacker would have to do is consult a killboard, searching for our kills.  Or, for that matter, don't even bother with research.  Just attack.  If an enemy actually appears in time to man guns, and he has neuts to use and is using them properly, pull out.  Or use logis with ECCMs.

So what about defending with a larger fleet?  That works.  Bigger blobs beat small blobs, other things equal.  But I don't have that fleet, and you probably don't either if you're a relatively small corp.  And of course a fleet, like POS gun operators, won't be around most of the time anyway except for a very large corp.

Right now I feel the only defense for the small POS operator is cheapness.   So, don't use X-large ship arrays.  No capitals, or at most one carrier.  Ships overflowing?  Cut the fat.  I violated both of those rules, and that's probably a significant reason why the Late Night Crew chose to attack my POS.  More loot is better than less loot.  Make your POS shield hard (44%).  This at least buys some time before your POS is reinforced.  With extra time you might get online and can move stuff out of storage into ships.

There's one other thing that would work: occupy a C1 wspace system.  Marauders, like battleships, are too massive to enter C1.  You can still use dickstars in C1.  Gevlon has a good primer on occupying C1 that he recently published at his blog.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I log onto EVE, as usual, and check the system.  A few new sigs, and of course the old static is gone.  I deploy probes, then check around the system.  Nobody.  I scan.  Quickly I have the two new sigs.  One is a K162 from C4; I dub that C4c.  The other is our static.  I explore C4c first.

Dscan shows towers and a fair number of ships.  Hmm.  Well, maybe they are not manned.  I check the outer system.  More ships, including an Epithal!  That's worth searching for.  I find the tower, and the ships are manned.  But the Epithal gets into something else, so, nothing happening there.  There's one more planet I have not seen yet, and it also has a tower.

This system is a bit too hot for my liking, and no obvious gankables.  Let's check downstream instead.  I warp to the wormhole, and dscan just as I am jumping out.  Another Epithal!  Oh well, forget it.  I am polarized and not heading back.  I warp to our static.

The wormhole chain downstream is sadly uninteresting.  C4b connects to C4c.  It has a C3 static, but the static is EOL.  There's also a C5, which I explore.  C4c is its static; it has one other connection, to null.  I head out to null.  (Which is completely empty.  You can see how many people are in system out there!)  The null system connects to C5b and C5c.  Nothing happening anywhere.

Somewhere in there, I get a mail notification.  Someone has dropped the shield on my undefended tower I use for gas processing.  Down to 99%.   Hmm.  I figure it's the neighbors in C4c trying to goad me into a fight.  But I ignore since I am the only one online, and I figure it's probably just one guy.  Anyway that's what the message looks like.  (I get a text from Jayne: the new update is taking him forever to load.  He'll be on eventually.)

I explore back up the chain, even taking a look into C3a through the EOL wormhole.  Nothing happening everywhere.  Finally I get back into my system.  I dscan.

Uh oh.

Lots of ships on scan.  Marauders, battleships, a Drake, others.  What are they doing?  My first thought is they running our anoms.  I look around at the anoms, and they are not there.  Then I realize they might be attacking my gas-processing tower.  I point at it, and I am right.  I warp over for a look.  There they are all right, seriously bludgeoning away.  The attacking corp is The Night Crew, of The Night Crew Alliance. Most of them are Night Crew but there is at least one from a sister corp. They have 138 members, and presumably their alliance has more.

This is bad, but not awful.  I will just have to move out everything of value, which is not much.  A bunch of gas, and some processed hybrid goop.  The whole tower is designed to be taken down when I don't have gas to process.

I am worried, though, about them using an Onyx to trap me, just as we trapped that carrier.  So, I start working up some off-grid bookmarks.  Probably should have done that earlier, but then I have never been too serious about security.

Finally Jayne gets in, and Timmay at about the same time.  OK, now we have more eyes.  We're set.  We start shuttling stuff back from the gas tower to our home tower.  The enemy attempts to stop us using their Onyx, but we are only warping direct when we can see it is clear.  When it blocks us, we warp indirect.  So, I offline and unanchor all the parts.  Timmay scoops them and hauls them home.  I grab all the gas in a Miasmos.

I forget to consider the stront until it is too late.  The shield just pass 50% when we get more over.  Our stront is just 2 hours worth.  Oh well, didn't want that large tower anyway.

The enemy grinds it down, as we think about options to attack them.  Problem is, their battle blob is 11 guys on grid, mostly in Marauders.  We know they also have some light tackle around, and I have seen a Tengu prober.  And if they operate sanely, we know there are others, too, cloaked out there.  Numbers do not favor us here.  We might use our capitals, but that is a lot to risk and I don't see it working anyway.  Just as we swarmed that guy two days ago, we'd be swarmed.  These guys seem to know what they are doing.

They reinforce the tower.  Now we wait.  Maybe they will go home?  Their wormhole is below half... as it is I cannot think they are going to get them all back.

They are not planning to go back.  Instead they start in our home tower.

Our tower is an ECM-based dickstar.  Lots of ECMs, just enough guns and other offensive modules that maybe we can hurt people a bit, and casual hanging about is discouraged.  This was a decent design when I put it up.  But it is not any more.  Marauders even in relatively small numbers can easily defeat it with bastion mode.  I apologize to my corpmates: that's a big fail right there.  My fault.

Anyway, all that becomes evident to me almost in a flash.  They are not stopping.  They are going to burn us out.  (Parenthetically I must congratulate them on seeing our weakness and pouncing.  One of them is already crowing in the last thread, so I guess at least one of them reads me.  Perhaps we will eventually know if this was a spur of the moment thing or if they have been hunting my corp for a while.)

Again we have a debate about deploying the capitals.  But as I try to make clear, when you die in a fire in wspace, you don't get to return to the fight.  Tonight we have no access at all, except for deep deep nullsec.  Any attack is going to be one and out.  We need to spend this time "battening down the hatches", as it were.  We will lose access to our storage.  So everything must be moved out of storage and placed somewhere.

We load planet goop into Epithals, gas in Miasmos, and random crap into Orcas.  Then we log our PI alts, get in those ships, and carefully warp out to safespots and cloak.  The enemy has combat probes out that are getting close a lot of these times.  They get in two probers, but it's a pretty large system and they don't evidently get any 100% hits in time.  These alts won't be logging in again.  So much for our PI.  But that's the least of our concerns.

I make a run at the enemy wormhole after refitting my Tengu with a 100mn afterburner.  They've got an interceptor on the other side.  I immediately cross back and it crosses to pin me.  Their Onyx lands on grid with several other T2s and T3.  They've got me.  I am going to die.

But must try!  I burn out of the Onyx's bubble via the magic of overheated 100mn, and drive off the light tackler with missiles, and then escape into warp just as my shields were about down.  Whoa, I did not die!  That was much too close.  OK, I won't try that again.

By this time, it's very late for us.  Hiljah has logged on, but even though a good DIAF would be brief, getting set for it will take a while.  We need to agree on our comp, and shuffle around parts.  I am not staying up even one more hour for this -- I work, as do all of us.  So, we log out.  (The siege goes on through the night.  The Night Crew earn their name.)

Sleep is hard coming.  We're about to lose $100 or whatever of spaceship pixels.  Put that way, it does not seem very serious.  Didn't want them anyway.  But EVE, it is real.  It's not $100 we are losing; that's not real.  It's a home we've spent months in.  It's a place we care about, a lifestyle we were having fun in, and we thought quite successfully.  All that is about to change.  There are other lifestyles in EVE.  I guess it is time to go do something else.  Didn't want that... ah, forget it.

I log in my alt today, and he warps into the tower among bubblewrap.

At this point, it appears there is little we can do.  (As I write they've not yet reinforced the tower; it's just gone below 50%.)  We will try to blow up their bubblewrap and/or rep up our stuff, but they will most likely stop us.  Then I will blow up all the ships of value, or get killed trying to sneak them out.  We'll die in a fire and can't get back in.  (Or perhaps prevail.  Must try.)  They will blow up the tower.  So it goes.  One day in EVE you're on top the world.  You got a capital kill!  First!  The next day in EVE, you're crushed.  You are the capital kill.  Looks like it's my turn.