Thursday, December 11, 2014

Culling a Flock

It's midday Sunday.  The Boy is out at a guitar lesson, so I am in EVE.  I've checked out two systems, a C4 and a C5, adjacent to my home system.  No targets.  Now, into a second C5 via a K162.  I'm not particularly hopeful of finding anyone doing anything dumb, because after all they connected to us.  They presumably know they are not zipped up.  That's why I left this one for last.  Still, you never know in EVE.

Ships on scan!
I am right to not know.  I cross the wormhole and dscan, and what should appear but a flock of Ventures.  Also an Orca and a tower, almost certainly boosting a gas mining operation.  Eight targets!  Visions of mass slaughter arise in my mind, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.  I can only kill multiple Ventures if they are being extraordinarily stupid.  First things first: get on grid.

Is there an outer planet?  There is an outer planet.  I warp to it at 100km, as always cloaking immediately as soon as my gate cloak drops.  This is my first chance to blow my cover, and there is nothing I can do about it.  With eight of them, probably at least three actual players, there is a decent chance someone is dscanning.  Will the see me?  I hope not.

I make a safespot out in space near the outer planet, which is pleasingly abandoned.  Also there are no sigs out here, so there is little reason why any of the natives would come out here.  I warp to the safespot, uncloak, deploy my mobile depot, and fire probes.

The probes I throw out of the system.  I'll get back to them.  The depot is for refitting.  I need to refit my Manticore from its normal configuration into its Venture-killing config.  The Venture killer removes the normal target painter for a second warp scrambler, which is needed to tackle a Venture with its built-in +2 warp core stabilization.  My anti-Venture fit also forgoes torpedoes.  I've been using light missiles for Venture killing, because I have had them at level V for a while.  But recently I trained Rockets V, so I get to try rockets for the first time.  Yay, me.

My minute is impatient.  Then I refit, get the rockets loaded, scoop the depot, and it's hunting time.

I warp to the inner system, then get a rough bearing on where the Ventures are.  2.4 AU from me, and generally up and left of the sun.  I set my probes to 2 AU distance, then move them into a rough position as my marker.  Now I start trying to hone down to 5 degrees.  Usually getting down to 15 degrees is fast, while the last step to 5 is hard.  (CCP: very please to put in a 10 degree setting?!)

This time, I am trying for five degrees for a while with no success.  Then I back out to 15 degrees and the Ventures are not there.  What?  Try at 360: there.  Again at 15, then 30, and 60: not there.  I guess they moved.  Strangely, they are the same distance from me, 2.4 AU.  But somewhere else.  Back to the start of my search.

I narrow and narrow, and get to 5 degrees.  OK, that's it.  I check my distance, and have to work it a little bit to get it to look like 2.4 AU.  (This is done purely by eyeball, and is a bit of an art.)  But now I am ready to scan.  I set the probes to 0.5 AU, and scan.  Scanning... and a red dot, 49%.  OK, quickly, drop the range to 0.25, adjust, and scan again.  100%!  A Vital Core Reservoir!  I retract the probes to hide them.  I am "below" the site, which means it is safe to warp in at 100km.  So I do.

Warping... and on grid.  And sure enough, there is the big gas cloud, the C540 one, with all eight Ventures orbiting it, sucking gas.  The little cloud is already sucked up.

The good news is that an orbiting Venture can be sneaked up on.  Or so I think.  I have never done it successfully before, but that's because my average kill is not orbiting.   Stupidly, they sit still.

The bad news is that they are all over the place.  The gas cloud has a radius of some 70km.  There is no way I am going to get two of them.  Orbiting while you mine is not the absolute best way to do it (here's how to do it right), but it is solid play.

Currently I am more than 100km from edge of the cloud.  This is too far to approach in reasonable time, but too near to warp.  Well, I can bounce.  I bookmark the C540 gas cloud (that is, its center), then warp off site to a nearby planet.  Then I warp back to the cloud at 70m.  I end up nearer to the edge than I thought, just 9000m.  But it's actually pretty much perfect.  I am near the edge, ready to go.  Now all I need is for a Venture to come to me.

A quick look around shows one Venture in particular that appears to be headed nearly at me.  He's 70km from me, but approaching fast.  OK, that's the one.  The Venture's orbit is mostly towards me, but a bit to the "down" direction from my perspective.  So, I maneuver down to intercept, and also include a slight angle in towards the cloud.  The approach is working.  The target is getting closer: 50km, then 30km.  I am getting close to the cloud: 7km, 5km.  I stop for a bit.  That's close enough.

Now the target is 20km, and closing.  I start moving a bit more down, and as he closes to 10km, towards him.  Time for pew!

I uncloak, and start locking.  All systems on: 2x scrambler, sebo, rockets.  The lock completes: got him.  My rockets start up, and the range stays short.  Good.
I pounce.
He is past me, and starting to pull away.  I may have to pulse the microwarpdrive to keep up.  But it seems like not.  Distance is maintained at about 4000m.  Then boom, he's dead.  I am ready, and start locking the pod.  He's not ready, it seems, because he does not get the pod out in time.  Locked!  And podded.

I attend to the overview: no ships left on grid but me.  I didn't have any awareness of them leaving.  Tactical tunnel syndrome.

I approach the wreck and grab the corpse for my collection.  Then I open the wreck and loot.  The loot won't fit: there is a lot of gas, which is large stuff.  (The loot fairy smiled on this gank.)  I grab all the fittings, and fill my hold with a small portion of the gas.  In fact, there is significant value in gas.  But I can't take it, so I perforce will leave it.  Perhaps they will try to get it back.  I'll hang around.  I bookmark the wreck just in case I need to get back fast.

This would be a good time to find their tower.  I burn away from the gas and the wreck, and get cloaked.  Safe, I turn my attention to dscan.  OK, they are at that planet.  I warp to a random moon (wrong one), then dscan up the right one and warp in to have a look.  I have to approach the tower to get close enough to see.

The flock is there, but some have already refit into various other ships.  An Archon?  I don't think they intend anything here except logging out.  Sure enough, poof it is gone.  I watch them all as one by one, they get into a big ship of some kind, then poof.

Gas loot.
Finally one is left, still in a Venture, and the Orca.  I sit and watch another few minutes.  Nothing. I doubt they will do anything.

Now I resume being my greedy resource-harvesting self.  There's 12m worth of gas in that wreck, and I want it!  I log in my alt Otto, who warps to my tower to get a gas-carrying Miasmos.  Then I have a better idea: a Venture!  Otto gets one of our gas-mining Ventures, then removes the expensive gas miners, just in case he gets whacked.  Then he renames it, to the same tag and name as the natives were using on their Ventures.  I figure this might confuse them if they see it on dscan, at least long enough.  I doubt they are paying attention, but you never know.

Otto enters the system and warps to the wreck.  The guys at the tower don't move.  Otto lands on grid, grabs, and goes.  Gas mining the hard way.

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