Friday, May 16, 2014

A Real Hunt

Another virtual day in space.  I log in, and my system is zipped up with only a single signature.  That will be our static wormhole.  Since there is nothing to do here, I might as well find it and see if I can find someone to kill.  I deploy probes and quickly scan down the sig.  Then I warp to the nearest celestial to it, align, and finally warp to it.  Every second can count.  I land on grid with the static, bookmark it, and jump.

As always, your first move when entering a new wspace system is to dscan.  I dscan.  There's a Venture on scan, which would be interesting except that there is also a tower.  The Venture is probably at the tower, that is, uninteresting.  Still, you never know for sure without trying.  And even if it is at the tower, a Venture is an unusual ship to just sit there in.  Most people do it in their logoff ship, which is usually a covert ops.  Maybe it will do something not within the protection of a force-field, like mine some gas.

I bookmark the wormhole and move off to cloak.  Now to find the Venture.  I get the system map up, point towards the inner system, and narrow my dscan to 180 degrees: both the Venture and the tower are still there.  OK, how about 90 degrees?  Neither.  Wrong direction.  Well, let me point this way.  Oooh.  Just the Venture!
A rare ship with no tower.
This is exciting!  A Venture will be in a gas site.  My Manticore has only normal probes, not combat probes.  I cannot probe down the ship, but I can probe down the gas site it is in.  That means I can get on grid with it, and if I can get on grid with it, then at least in theory I can kill it.  Never mind that a Manticore is completely the wrong ship for that.  First things first: find the gas site.

Or maybe not.  A Venture could be used on rocks.  I mean, mining rocks with a Venture is possible, albeit stupid.  Still, I should check that.  Nope, no rocks in this system.  It's got to be in a gas site.

OK, WWPD (what would Penny do?)  She'd warp to the outer planet -- is there an outer planet? yes! -- and fire probes.  I warp to the outer planet.  Then she'd warp back in, find the approximate location of the target on dscan, put the probes there, and scan it out in one cycle.  Then she'd kill it.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I land on grid at the outer planet, 25AU out from the center.  A quick check of dscan shows nothing out here, so I uncloak and fire probes, and throw the probes out of the system (just in case there is someone here to see them).  Then I re-cloak and warp right back to the wormhole, which is the only thing in the system I know.  It has a good position, a bit above the ecliptic plane of this system.

There is a good chance the gas site is one of the smaller/easier "perimeter" sites, which are common.  These can be scanned with a 1AU probe distance.  And that means I don't have to be highly accurate placing the probes for the initial scan.  If the gas site is one of the intermediate "frontier" gas sites, it will require a 0.5AU probe distance, which will mean I have to scan twice.  Not good, but I am not certain that I can get that accurate of a initial scan.  So I will go with 1AU and cross my fingers.

I set the probes to 1AU, then move them vaguely into the right place, and start looking around with dscan.  I am using Penny's scanning method here: you use your current location and that of the center probe to keep track of the vector you are currently theorizing as that to the target.  Starting with 90 degrees, you narrow the beam by one click, then see if the target is still in it.  If so, iterate.  If not, you have to look around.  The probe location is very helpful in keeping a fixed point to orient to.  Once you find the target again (with the narrower beam), you move the probes so that once again they record the vector.  Then iterate.

I do this.  It takes me time, because I am not very good at it.  But finally I get the beam down to 15 degrees, which is enough if the target is close.  Is it?  I think I should have determined the range first.  But I will do it now: quickly I find that the range is just about 1.5 AU.  That's nice and close; 15 degrees should be fine.  1.5 AU means that I should place the probes so that about their outer circle is where I am.  I do that, carefully trying to keep the vector from me to them correct.

All ready.  I hold my breath a second, then hit scan.  This brings in the probes; until now the actual probes have been sitting way outside the system where they are hidden.  But now the target will be able to see them, if he dscans in the next 20 seconds or so.
Probed out first try.
Bingo.  100% on a Token Perimeter Reservoir.  I am a bit surprised -- thought it would require two goes.  But I quickly recall my probes to get them out of sight.  Then I warp to the site.  No, cancel.  The site is almost straight down from me; you want to warp into gas sites from the side.  I warp to a planet first, and then into the site at 20km.  I hope I am not decloaked by gas.

I land on grid, and I have missed both gas clouds.  Good.  And there's the Venture!  I am a little surprised he is still here.  I did it!  I am on grid with a Venture, gas mining, in a gas site I had to scan down.  Go, me!

Now to kill him.  But how?  He is orbiting the large gas cloud, and currently over 100km from me.  I watch his orbit for a while, and I can see he is going over the top and will pass relatively near me -- perhaps 30km.  I can get in front if I can predict it.  So I start moving that way.  He gets within 100km of me, and now I can look at him to see better how he is moving.
Coming to me.
Now I am certain I can intercept him.  But can I kill him?  Probably not.  All Ventures have two points of warp core stability, and I have but one warp scrambler.  So I cannot stop him from warping.  And my torps do very little damage to a tiny moving frigate.  I can kill him in my Manticore pretty much only if he is AFK.  He may well be -- he didn't see the probes after all -- but he is probably just not fully alert.  I think about when I suck gas.  I pay some attention, dscanning occasionally, but not that often.  Of course, I know how to use the discovery scanner to force its update.  This is more important than dscan, at least if you only mine when zipped up.

I head toward the intercept point I think is likely, then stop.  Then I do it again.  I can reship only a jump away.  A jump where he might see me on dscan, and another chance coming back.  On the other hand, my Manticore is not the ship for the job.  But what ship do I have that can do it?  It needs a cloak so that it can sneak up.  So most of them are out.  Falcon?  Not much DPS.  (Actually in retrospect it might work.  Two drones.)  Tengu?

Hmm.  There is my ghostbusting Tengu.  It has rapid lights in the highs for killing scanning frigates that it might find while exploring.  Rapid light missiles are perfect for Ventures.  And I can refit it to have two warp scramblers.  OK, that's a good idea.  I warp out, back to my static wormhole.  I cross, then warp home and get the Tengu.  Then, just a bit concerned about possibly being baited into being polarized/jumped, I wait.  I figure that gas mining is slow, so the odds are good he'll be there when I return.

Four anxious minutes later, and I warp back to our static.  If I am attacked I can just wait out the last minute in gate cloak on the other side.  I jump, and nobody is there.  The Venture is still on scan.  Looks good.  I get off the wormhole and cloak, then warp to the gas site at 10km this time.  I figure I will wait for him to come over the top again, and then try to kill him.

I land on grid, and I am briefly confused.  There's no large gas cloud any more.  He's within the small gas cloud.  Evidently, he finished sucking the other cloud.  OK, he's still here so I still have a shot.

But he is not moving.  He is just sitting in there.  If I try to get close, the gas cloud will decloak me.  So, how do I get in there to shoot?  He's about 40km from me, and appears closer to the far edge of the cloud.  I figure I can get a bit closer by bouncing off the sun (which is nearby), then coming in more from the side at the gas cloud.  So I bookmark the cloud and bounce, warping back at 30km.
Not moving any more.

This is better; I am about 28 km from him.  I start toward him, then I realize I am nearing the edge of the cloud.  I am only about 8km from it, and still over 20km from him.  So I will be decloaked before I can get in scramble range.  That's not likely to work.

With tactical overlay.
I realize he is sitting pretty close to the center of the cloud.  Let's look at that better.  I turn on the tactical overlay, and indeed he seems to have warped in there to zero.  The overlay shows lines coming up from the plane I am on, ending at the gas cloud and the Venture.  They are very close.

The gas cloud is already bookmarked.  It is time for another bounce.

Back to the sun.  This time I warp to the gas cloud at zero.  From what I saw, I should land almost on top of him.  Certainly in scrambler range.  Then he will have the four seconds of sensor recalibration, plus my lock time, to notice and GTFO.  If he doesn't, he's dead.  I consider uncloaking in transit, but he could then see me warp on grid and have more warning.  I'll let the cloud decloak me.

I land on grid, and end up 2400m from him.  Now I start clicking to lock him.  After an eternity the lock attempt begins.  I have no time to see what he is doing.  I get my weapons primed, and then turn on my defenses just in case.  I realize now a sebo might have been a good idea.  But too late for that.

The lock completes, and I have him.  And just as suddenly, he's dead.  Two rounds of missiles is all it took.  I am a bit surprised (sorry, no screenie of that), but I start locking the pod.  I have him!  No, I don't.  He warps. Almost got him. 
So close.

Now I loot the wreck, and warp off to a celestial to get out of this gas so that I can cloak.  Then I fly to his tower to watch.  The pod sits.  Eventually he gets into an Astero and warps off.  That's the end of it, so I head off to start scanning his system.


  1. Nice! Great story.

    WWPD indeed!

  2. Jesus! You ganked a semi-AFK miner!

    How is it better than what New Order does?

    1. Better? In what way? Ganking people in wspace is not morally superior to ganking them in highsec, if that is what you are asking. In fact there is no moral aspect to ganking at all.

      If, however, you are asking about how it was a better hunt -- see the title? -- then I can tell you. It was better because it was harder. More mentally taxing. Easier to mess up if I misstep. I was making decisions at many points during the thing; I believe you can see that in my write-up. I was making decisions because the circumstances were not cut and dried, as they are in a miner gank. For example: I started in the wrong ship (my Manticore). To reship, I'd have to take the risk of being seem on dscan at the wormhole twice. Is that worth it?

      As for how AFK he was, that semi-AFK was a conjecture. He was not scanning every 10 seconds during the four windows that I was exposed. Beyond that, only he knows how AFK he was. I do know he got his pod out quite promptly, and he did it perhaps 8 seconds after everything was completely boring and normal.

    2. Because miners in w-space WILL be watching d-scan as their primary warning of threat, and the only way to hunt the miners actively is to use probes that appear quite visibly on d-scan. Indeed, along with other ships, this is exactly what the miners will be looking for.

      By managing to use probes to successfully ambush the miner, VK made use of considerable skill.

      Also, how do we tell if players are AFK, semi-AFK, or at the controls? Do we convo them to make sure it's okay to attack, to see if they're ready? If they don't reply, we're completely sure they're not just faking it, right? If they're not AFK, is it okay to gank them? Should we wait until they reship in to an appropriate combat ship? Should we just implement arenas so that everyone fights to some arbitrary code of honour that you find suitable?

  3. Nice one,

    Gaining a tackle on a venture in a gas site is difficult at the best of times before keeping it scramed and killed. My success rate is low but I keep trying lol.

  4. Reads like a thriller. I'm inspired. But first, I'll read WWPD's scanning method ;-)

  5. Excellent hunt, and a deserved kill. Great job!

    That reminds me, I should update my guide to include the new range gate on d-scan.