Monday, January 12, 2015

An AFK Helios

Sunday, and I am hunting again.  What it is about hunting?  It's addictive like a lottery.  Usually you pay a small price and get nothing.  Sometimes you get a win, and sometimes a jackpot.  I have one more wormhole to explore right now: the C4 through my system's static C4. 

I dscan from the wormhole as normal, and lo and behold.  Several ships including an Astero, a Helios, and three Ventures.  Ventures!  You might sometimes see a Venture here and there in a POS, but generally three at once means a gas mining op.  Targets!

Unfortunately, I am in my torpedo fit, which lacks sufficient warp scrambling to stop a Venture.  So, I'll need to find a place to refit.  But I can do that.

What else does my dscan show?  There is a POS, probably where the cloaky non-Ventures are.  (There's very little reason a ship with a covert-ops cloak should ever be seen in wspace.)  Should I bother finding their POS?  Nah.  Of more concern to me is a set of sisters combat scanner probes.  Either I arrived just as these guys are being hunted by someone else, or else they have the probes out.  If my wormhole is new, and they saw it via the discovery scanner, that might explain the probes.  But I don't think so; it's too fast.  In any case, there is nothing to be done about it.

I check the system map.  There are two planets out of dscan range of the inner system, where I am.  I fly to planet VI, the second-outermost first, to check for any additional enemies.  None.  Good.  Now on to planet VII, the outermost.  It has no sigs or anoms, so I am hoping there is nothing out there.  My hopes are fulfilled: no towers or ships.  A good place to refit.  I make a safespot as I start to decelerate.  Then I warp to it, and after a last check of dscan, uncloak and launch my mobile depot.

It makes me nervous doing a refit when I have already seen combat probes.  But I cannot see them now, and I figure I can get away if they do discover me.  So I do my minute, with lots of nervous dscans, then refit as fast as I can, pull the depot, and cloak.  Whew.  Safe again.  (I hate being uncloaked.)  Now I warp back to the inner system, to start looking for those Ventures.

Except when I get there, there is only one Venture left on scan.  There are two shuttles that weren't there before.  Drat.  I think they noticed me somehow.  My dscan quickly finds the ships all at a POS, and strangely, the probes are there too.  I warp over to the planet.  I quickly get the right moon identified, then warp in for a look.

The Venture, shuttles, Helios and Astero are all there on grid with me.  But strangely, so are the sister's probes.  That's weird.  Then I notice the Helios is not the same distance from me as the other ships.  They are all about 80km; it is 250km.  I look around, and I see it.  It is outside of the POS shield, with the probes all around it.

So the guy warps out to fire probes, fires them, then... what?  Disconnection?  Just forgot?  Who knows.  It's a target, though.

I check the space in the Helios's direction, and quite fortunately there is a planet more or less in it.  It's planet VII, the outermost.  It will take me two warps back and forth, but I should be able to get pretty close to the Helios.  So I bookmark the POS then warp to my safespot.  Then I warp back to the POS at 100km.  A check shows the alignment is still good.

At this point I get concerned about the nuts and bolts.  I know I get a few seconds of time before the POS modules can lock/shoot at me, and I know it is only small POS guns that can lock me in any reasonably short time.  (This info I computed a year ago; that's the gist.  The details are here; don't miss the comments.)  I get a full dscan to check the POS: it has the normal ECMs and such, and some medium guns.  (These don't worry me; too slow to lock.)  It has 6 small blaster batteries, and 6 small laser batteries.  I check the stats on both: only the lasers appear to be able to target at 170 km or so.  Can six small lasers kill me?  I don't know.  Should I attack or slink off?

It is moments like this that a mini-Penny sits on my shoulder (on the sinister side), and whispers, Kill!  I listen to this whisper.  So I save my location 100km from the POS, and then it is back out to my safespot at planet VII.  I jettison everything in my hold to reduce the loss if I do get killed.  Then I warp to my recent bookmark at 70km.  I end up nice and close to my still-unmoving target, about 20km from him.

I could make a run straight at him, but then getting away will take precious seconds.  He's not moving, so I feel it is a better idea to move around to that I can align to a celestial and drive by him.  Then I can warp instantly.  I look around for a celestial that is positioned so that when I align to it I am perpendicular to the POS, so as to have as much transversal as possible.  Planet II seems good.  OK.  Now I need to move across the Helios so as to position myself so that the Helios is between me and planet II.  This takes a few seconds.  Then I stop, about 12km from the Helios.

It's time.  I don't know whether I will be killed, but I'll find out.  I take a breath, and align to Planet II.
Aligned and about to uncloak.

As I close to 8000m, I uncloak and start locking the Helios.  Then it's the normal routine, turning on my systems and watching the Helios' shields/armor/structure drop.  It take eight rounds of rockets, the last one as I am almost out of range.  And beeep!  I am hit!  The last rockets fire, and the Helios dies.  Yay!  I warp immediately.

My shields were blown off and I took some armor damage.  But I am happy: I got my kill under the nose of five guys at their POS.

Now my mind turns to loot -- and the pod.  If the guy is AFK, maybe I can get it.  I forgot to bookmark the location, so I warp out to planet VII again, then back to my former bookmark at 70km.  And indeed, the pod's still there.
AFK and uncloaked: a bad mix.

Mwahaha.  I do the same thing as before: approach over the top to get into position.  (This time I save the location.)  Then I align to planet II, and do the same drive-by.  The pod pops just as I get hit again, taking only shield damage.  Then I am safely into warp again!
A second run for the pod.

Now I could warp straight back if I want.  I check the killmail, and there is a sister's probe launcher that survived in the wreck.  Also there is the corpse.  So I do want!  But I first warp out to my safespot anyway.  It will take some time for my shield to regenerate.  When I do warp back, I warp at 10km to my spot just to be safe.

When I get there, I am saddened to see the enemy finally did something: one of them got an Armageddon and warped over to grab the loot.  I look, but he also grabbed the corpse.  Drat.  I watch as he turns then warps back into the forcefield.  Well, it's still a good day for me.
I can't kill this in 15 seconds or less.

I warp back out to my safespot and grab my jettisoned stuff.  Then I warp back home to my system and my POS.  I'll need to buff out that armor damage.  I grab an armor repairer and get it done.

Lessons here are obvious enough.  Always cloak in wspace if you can.  If that guy had cloaked after firing his probes, I never would have even thought to try to kill him.

Another lesson: POSes are safe inside, and kind of safe outside.  But not super safe outside.  An aggressor has a few seconds to do stuff, and more than that if he has a tanky ship.  If your defenses are not numerous, even a stealth bomber can operate uncloaked for a little while.


  1. Reminds me of yesterday when I forgot to cloak back up after launching my probes. Only problem was that I was checking for hostile posses in another wormhole, I got out alive but only just.

  2. I always keep at range of my mobile depot and cloak up. I only uncloak to drop my depot and to actually refit. The rest of this time I will keep at range 2400m and cloak up.