Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Tractor Problems

It's the weekend.  I have killed three ships in here today, and I am looking for one more kill.  It's a mobile tractor unit that is ... somewhere.  Somewhere out in space.  I can see it on dscan, but so far I have not made the time to look for it.  Well, now I will.  I figure I will create a bookmark for myself.  Von can come in with his stealth bomber and blow it up.  I wonder what it is in it?

I bring my alt Otto in.  He's in his Cheetah, with combat probes.  A quick probing narrows down the location, then bang.  A warpable point.  I warp in at 20km.  There's a warning.
Ignored, of course.
Woops.  It seems it is in a live combat site.  I quickly abort my warp, then warp in at a more safe 70 kilometers.  I don't want to drop into the middle of a bunch of sleepers!

I should have realized it was in a site.  That explains how the thing can still be there, unblown up, after half a Saturday of people connecting to this system.  It has guards.
Cheap kill void where prohibited.
I land on grid, and sure enough.  It does indeed have guards: two Sleepless Sentinels, and four sleeper sentries.  The Sentinels are very close to it, no more than 20km off.  I look up the site at eve-survival: it's a Quarantine Area.  Nasty battleships: they "[scram, web, nos]".  Although I don't think any sleepers actually scram as in warp scramble; what they do is warp disrupt.  Still: I can see why nobody has killed the tractor unit.

Thus: the tractor problem.  Kill a mobile tractor unit, then loot it, against two close-by sleeper battleships and four sleeper sentries.  

This is an interesting problem.

What about the direct method?  Kill them!  My two characters can probably kill the sleepers eventually using the standard ships my corp uses to run C4 anoms.  One would be a logistics, the other a battleship damage dealer.  However, the nossing might be too much for just two ships.  Also, it will take time in any case, time where I would be stuck me out in a hostile system, warp disrupted by the sleepers.  I would rather not risk that.  Furthermore, the battleships are the trigger for a new wave.  So, either I run the site completely, which may be too much DPS and will take one damage dealer quite some time.  Or else I cannot kill the last battleship.  But it won't stop disrupting, which means I have to either jam it out, or distract it with drones.  I am not 100% sure either idea would work.

All in all, the direct method is not very promising.

Can I kill the tractor without killing any defenders?  Well, I might warp in my guys, kill the tractor, loot, and then try to escape.  I think that microjumpdrives always work against sleepers (they disrupt, not scramble).  But I am not sure about that.  In any case, it is still risky.  And my logistics ships cannot microjump.

What about without microjumpdrives?  I might be able to tank the sleepers in a Tengu, then burn out with a 100mn afterburner.  Or a microwarpdrive, if they don't scramble.  But again, I am not sure.

As I sit, puzzling, I realize that there's more IRL stuff I need to do.  So I set off to do that.  I am absent for about two hours.

When I get back, I dscan.  And I guess my problem has been solved -- by someone else.  There is no mobile tractor on scan, but there is a mobile tractor wreck.  I warp to the tractor's location at 70 km to have a look.  Sure enough: the tractor is gone, and a tractor wreck is there.
Thanks, anonymous tractor killer!
The tractor wreck has loot in it.  I cannot fathom why anyone would partially loot it, so my guess is this means they did not loot it at all.  And that means, I can get the loot.  (As I write this, I realize there should be a killmail for the tractor unit, but I cannot find it.)

So here is a new tractor problem: loot a tractor wreck against two close sleeper battleships who warp disrupt and four sleeper sentries.   

This is a much easier problem.  All I need to do is warp to it, grab the loot, and warp out before the sleepers can lock me.  Otto can do it in his Cheetah.  Sleeper battleships take a while to lock.  The Orthruses, I don't know.  But I figure that I won't be there for more than a few seconds.  A Cheetah is tiny.  It should be OK.

Challenge accepted!

I warp Otto to the C5 wormhole, jump, then warp directly to the tractor wreck.  He lands on grid, and I open the tractor wreck and prepare to loot it.  I see the loot, and then it is gone.

Blam.  I am in my pod.  What happened?  I guess the Orthrus sentries lock really, really fast.  Damn it.

Challenge failed.

I warp Otto's pod back home, then go sit at my tower and stew.  During the brief moment when I had the wreck open, I saw blue loot and I also saw two Gecko drones.  This is worth working a bit more on.

OK, new tractor problem: loot a tractor wreck against two close sleeper battleships who warp disrupt and four sleeper sentries that lock almost instantly and deal significant damage.  

I look up the Orthrus at chruker.dk: 1404 damage per hit, thermal and em.  The range appears to be 250km.  That's strange; the similar sentry drone in C4 sites -- Argos -- has a limited range, no more than about 80 or 90 km.  I look up Argos to see what its range supposed is: also 250km.  Apparently it's a bug of some sort that prevents it shooting longer.  Well, it seems likely that the same bug should affect both kinds of sentry.

My new plan: use my own tractor unit.  Get as far from the sentries as possible, deploy it, then warp out before the sleeper battleships can lock and/or damage.  Wait for it to drag in both the tractor wreck and the Cheetah wreck.  Then warp back in, scoop it fast, grab loot, and flee.

Since I am not sure about whether the Orthrus will fire at 150km+ or not, this time I want enough tank on my ship to take a hit.  It should be 5600 damage, so I take a Heron and fit it with a medium shield extender and some hardeners.  I think it should take a round.

Meanwhile, Von is in the anom slowboating to a good position for the tractor unit.  Tractor units have a max range of 125km.  I get to about 120km from the wrecks, with the Orthruses almost directly inline and further off, so the nearest sentry is about 160km.  Hopefully that will be beyond the range they fire at.  I save a bookmark here and Von moves away from it.

Otto is ready.  I warp Otto to the C5 wormhole, jump, then warp directly to the new bookmark.  He lands on grid, and I deploy my tractor unit.  Then I warp to a perch I saved on the way in and...

Blam.  I am in my pod.  Ugh, not again.  I am not sure what happened there.  Obviously the Orthrus sentries do more damage than I estimated, so either chruker has them wrong (doubtful) or I used EFT wrong calculating the tank on that Heron.  Damn it.

I warp Otto off to home.  My tractor unit drags in the Heron wreck immediately, then sets to work on the distant tractor wreck and Cheetah wreck.  This still takes less than the five minutes that Otto will be polarized.

Run away!!
OK, new tractor problem: scoop a friendly tractor unit  against two distant sleeper battleships and four sleeper sentries that lock almost instantly and deal significant damage.  

This one is easy, though a bit risky.  The sleeper battleships are now out of warp disrupt range, so I can use pretty much any ship I want.  I choose to take a Tengu, mainly due to lack of good options.  It is plenty hard to take a round or two of Orthrus fire, and I doubt the battleships will even lock it.  I am only really concerned about human predators, but I won't be on grid long, and they've only had a few minutes to prepare.  I use my normal sleeper-killing Tengu, but refit to have four points of warp core stabilization.

This time, it goes without a hitch.  I land on grid, grab my tractor unit, then loot the resulting can.  The sleepers open up, but this thing can take it easily, and I warp off.

The loot is pretty good, about 160m worth.  Looking at it, I can tell it was a remote repping drone boat that got killed and left it behind.
Some nice loot.
Here's one of the things I love about EVE.  When other people are playing in the same universe, sometimes they do things partially and you run into it.  In this case, someone had a bad day and lost a Dominix.  But they created an interesting puzzle.  No developer would ever think to create a site like this intentionally.  But it happened anyway, because EVE is a sandbox.  And I got to solve it, albeit at a higher cost than I should have.

In retrospect, I'd have done better to just take the Tengu I finally used.  That would have saved two ships.

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