Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Worthwhile Epithal

An unkindness.
It's Wednesday.  The corp is on together.  We have zipped up our own system and run all the sites.  (I time four Barracks: about 5:45 each, 45 seconds of which is warping from site to site.)  This done, we open our static to see if we can find more sites to run.

The first system is no good.  And the second.  We pop both wormholes and try again.  It's late enough that if the last one is bad, we'll just quit.  Or anyway, some of us will.  I will stay on and hunt.

We open the system, and it's mediocre at best.  Five anoms; we could run them and make a bit more money.  Two sigs, so Jayne scans it down lickety split.  The other sig is the static, to C3.  There is nothing in sight from the K162 other than one customs office.  I am in my Manticore, and I warp into the inner system looking for signs of life.  There is a live tower, and several ships on scan: Orca, Ibis, Archon, and a Reaper.  Two rookie ships and two whales.  These are probably all empty, but I make the effort and find the tower anyway.  I warp in and find that the ships are empty as expected, except for the Reaper.  It is manned.  This interests me; maybe it is one guy on alone... maybe he will do something dumb.  I park and watch.

With this guy here, my calculations change.  I am not going to run sites with a live enemy watching us on dscan.  So, we call it off.  Most of the guys drift off.  I am still watching.

The Reaper disappears.  It has logged off.  Immediately, a Velator appears.  I am guessing it is one guy and his alts.  Maybe now he will be interesting?  No.  He just sits.  I watch for a few minutes, and a pod warps in.  The Velator logs off.  Do something!

The pod sits.  And sits.  Screw this -- I am going to watch and hope with Von while I scan a way out with Otto.  So I swap monitors, and warp Otto out in his Cheetah to scan C3a.  He will have to cross C4a in sight of the pod pilot, but I figure that the guy is probably not paying that much attention anyway.  Certainly by now he must have seen the new signature from my static, and he has not scanned it down (or at least, if he did I did not notice.)  My guess is he is doing PI, twiddling extractor heads and restarting them.  Obviously he is not doing runs out to planets.  Otto crosses into C3a without trouble, and starts scanning.  There are seven sigs to do.  There is also a manned Broadsword idling at a tower.  Fortunately there is no sig near to that tower, so I can scan the system down without him seeing probes.

Meanwhile, the pod logs off, and an Epithal warps in!  Now we are talking.  I stop scanning for a minute and just watch.  But the Epithal is not moving.  OK, I'll scan and keep an eye on it.  Move probes, scan.  Epithal does not move.  Move probes, scan.  Epithal does not move.  This loop goes on a while.

Eventually the Epithal logs off, and a shuttle logs in.  Gads, how many characters does this guy have?  Now the shuttle sits as I scan.  And eventually the shuttle pilot logs out... and a new pod appears.

Meanwhile, I am done scanning in C3a.  It has a lowsec static, and that's the only wormhole.  I exit out into lowsec to get a way back in should it become necessary, then prudently wait the five minutes for my polarization to abate.  Then I return to C3a.  I don't have a plan other than to return Otto home.  It's getting late, so I may just give up on hunting and go to bed.  Otto warps across C3a to the wormhole up to C4a.  He crosses, and moves off the wormhole to orbit and cloak.

Just as he does this, the pod pilot refits into an Epithal.  Oh my; can this mean what I think it means?  The Epithal sits a moment and then starts to align.  Oh yeah.  I get a perfect view of his destination: a planet with no other nearby planet.  He warps.  I warp to the customs office at that planet, at 10km.

I land on grid and he is there, at the CO as expected, about 11km from me.  I head towards him; time is of the essence here.  When I get to about 9000m I uncloak and get my systems going, including a pulse of microwarpdrive to close the range.  He has started aligning.  Since he is probably stabbed up, I keep going straight at him to bump.  My first volley is out, and I smash into him.  A lovely bump indeed; he had been heading almost at me, and he is turned away more than ninety degrees from that heading.

My second volley fires.  He's dead.  I was not expecting it to happen so fast, so I am slow on locking his pod.  I almost get it, but he warps just in time.  Rats.  OK, let's have a look at the wreck.  I drive over and open the wreck, and I am astounded to find PI goods.  Lots of PI goods.   There are 400 wetware mainframes and a bunch of mechanical parts.  Nothing else.  My cargo hold can fit one (1) wetware mainframe.

A novel sight: my Manticore uncloaked.
I recall a clever trick I have read about in these cases: you can move the PI goods from a wreck into the POCO.  I try to do that, but there are more PI goods than will fit.  (POCOs hold 35000 m^3.)  So, I stuff the POCO with 350 wetware mainframes.  But I want all the loot -- oh yes, precious: the other mainframes, and the mechanical parts.  I'll use Otto for that.

But before I mess with Otto, I should get Von safely cloaked.  The victim might return in something suitable to kill my tissue-paper ship.  I'll lurk here in just in case the victim tries to come back with another Epithal, or something else to scoop with.  I move off the POCO and cloak up.  A quick look at dscan shows that the victim is in dscan range, and still in his pod, and there are no other new ships.  Good, it appears safe.  I bookmark the wreck.

Hey, that's me over there.
Now I warp Otto across C4b and jump home.  Then across to our POS, where he reships into one of our Epithals.  Now I kind of regret doing the POCO-stash trick.  I might be able to pull the stuff that Von cached out of the POCO and jetcan it for Otto, but that is rather fussy and I'd rather not being trying to do something like that if an attack comes.  I think I will just do two Epithal runs.  (Dscan has not changed.)  Otto waits a minute, then I think I should be safe on polarity coming back.  So he warps to the wormhole, and jumps.  Then he warps to the wreck bookmark.  He lands on grid, and scoops the wreck.  Then he returns to the wormhole.  After another consult with dscan (no change), I warp Von too, although to 10km just in case.  Let's get it done.

My estimate of Otto's flight time is not quite right; there are nine seconds left of polarization.  But they pass without incident, and both of us jump through the wormhole at about the same time.  Then I fleet-warp us both home to my POS.

I think about waiting a minute like I did with Otto, but I think it is more important to get to the POCO and away fast as possible, before my victim decides what he might do.  So I warp.  I will make a safespot and spend the extra minute in C4b warping around.  I jump back into C4b.  Then I warp to the wreck bookmark, which is right next to the POCO.

On the way I create my safespot.  Then I dscan.  Nothing initially, but once I start slowing down out of warp, I can see my victim's pod still sitting at his tower.  Great, it looks like no opposition here.  I land on grid, open the POCO, grab my wetware mainframes, and warp to my safespot.  I consult with local to see how much time I need to waste; just a few seconds.  So I idle and dscan twice for probes.  (No probes.)  Then I warp back to wormhole, cross, and warp home.

After I calm down a bit, I look at the killmail to see what the Epithal's fit was.  And it was... nothing.  Not a single fitting.  An unfit.  No wonder it popped so easily.  I laugh, then I start feeling bad for the guy, and try to open a conversation.  But I guess I am too late.  He is offline.  Oh well.  Maybe I can mail him.

Advice: fit your Epithals.  You can very cheaply shield fit an Epithal, giving it many seconds of life before the likes of me can kill it.  And you can fit lots of cheap warp core stabilizers to prevent me from pinning you with my warp scrambler.

Here's the Epithal fit we are using these days:
[Epithal, PI Hauler]
'Accord' Core Compensation
'Accord' Core Compensation
'Accord' Core Compensation
'Accord' Core Compensation
Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Medium Subordinate Screen Stabilizer I
EM Ward Amplifier I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
Some people like a damage control, instead of one warp core stabilizer; that's up to you.  And some people pay extra to rig them; I find the cost-effectiveness of rigs doubtful.  The fit above costs all of 1.5m ISK: 1m for the Epithal itself, and 500k in fittings.

More advice: unless you are pretty certain you are safe (i.e. system is zipped up, or you've had eyes on all the exits for some time), do not warp direct from a POS to a POCO.  Instead, warp to a safespot, or perhaps a random moon at a random distance, and then warp to the POCO you wanted.  This makes it impossible for a watching cloaky to track you; they can catch you only by luck or if you linger unconscionably long at a POCO.  Between POCOs, it is safer to warp direct, but still not completely safe; an enemy will attempt to re-acquire you there.


  1. How on Earth could this imbecile live in WH space?
    How can Bob let this abomination dwell on his holy land?!

    On a more serious note: when you remove products from the POCO, you should align out to your POS first and when you are at 60-70% speed, move the goods into the ship and you can warp off instantly.

    You are wrong about the rigs. Medium EM/Thermic/Kinetic resist rigs are 100-200K. Medium low-friction rig (align time) is 600K.

    1. That's a good tip on PI gooing, though I would note that it is not necessary 99% of the time. And even if you do get jumped, you're not likely to be warp scrambled. And even if you do get scrambled, you can probably just put the goods back in the POCO.

      As for the rigs, I know they are relatively cheap compared to most ships. But they are nonetheless a significant fraction of the cost of an Epithal.

      Take for example shield rigs. Adding three resist rigs increases the price of the ship by 320000 ISK, or 27%. They increase the EHP of the ship some 2300, from ~11700 to ~14000. (They also increase the signature, which is bad, but ignore that.) What are the odds that 2300 extra hitpoints will make any difference? Not high. If you get bubbled, you're toast. If you get triple-scrambled, you're toast. The only place the extra hitpoints help is in aligning out, i.e. when bumped. I cannot say they'd never save you, but it would be rare. Those 11700 EHP should last 23s with my 500 DPS stealth bomber shooting at you. That should usually be plenty of time to align and warp. Getting ~25s is better, no doubt, but is it worth 300000 ISK? I reiterate: I doubt it.