Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jab and Riposte

It's corp night again.  Last night I prepared C5a for us, should it prove worthy.  By going in a day in advance, I can instantiate all the 16-hour wormholes that may be sitting around there uninstantiated, and get them to go away.  So I don't have to pop them to be safe.  But of course, new wormholes can pop up all day long, and there's nothing I can do about it.

I have to check for new wormholes, and I might as well do it now, before my corpmates show up.  Actually I am only expecting Jayne tonight.  But last night I found the best gas site in the game, an Instrumental Core Reservoir, in C5a.  If it's still there today, which is highly likely, then we'll run it.  We can be in, kill the sleepers, and out probably before anyone can scan us down.  So that's my plan.  I warp to the wormhole C4a->C5a, and jump.

Plans change.  In this case, I see a full set of Sister's core probes, as well as two Ventures.  There is no live tower on scan from here (in fact I know from last night that there is no live tower in the system).  So the two Ventures are out in space somewhere.  Almost certainly gassing in the Core Reservoir, right?  A single narrow-band dscan confirms it. 

I am in my normal Manticore fit, unable to tackle a Venture.  So I need to refit to my fit with two scramblers.  Where can I do that?  I could go back home to do it, but that means two more uncloaks at the wormhole.  It also means five minutes of polarization.  Not a good option.  This system is rather small.  The furthest planet is an outer planet about 14 AU out.  That's almost far enough... fortunately, last night I scanned down a wormhole that is near that planet, and about two AU further away.  I think that is far enough to be off dscan.

I warp to the wormhole near the outer planet, making a safespot when I get close.  Then I turn around and warp to that safespot.  From it, I cannot see much on dscan.  It will do.  Of course I have no idea whose probes those are; it might be one of the Ventures scanning, or it might be some other ship.  If it is another ship, there's some chance it will come out here and dscan.  But at least I can hope that the pilot is probing and isn't dscanning actively.

I launch my mobile depot, then orbit it at 2500 cloaked while I wait for it to online.  Dscanning shows nothing during this time.  When the depot onlines, I get in close and uncloak, and refit.  Then I grab everything, and warp to the gas site at 100km.

As I warp over, I am considering my options.  Jayne should be online any minute now, and I might hasten that.  We got a similar setup last week, him dropping on them in a Sabre so we got pods.  But before I do that, I want to get on site and see what's happening there.

I land in the site.  I came in from the side, so I am not worried about being decloaked by the gas.  And indeed, the large cloud of C320 is entirely gone.  Both Ventures are there, now sucking at the small cloud, the C540.  This is bad.  A single Venture can suck up one of these small clouds in less time than it takes for sleepers to come, which is 20 minutes.  Two can suck it in 10 minutes.  I don't know how long they have been at it.  But probably they won't be on site for more than a few more minutes.

There's no time for Jayne.   I have to get in there pronto.  I bookmark the gas cloud, then warp to the sun (which is close) to bounce.  As I warp, I am trying to recall how large the C540 cloud is.  I think it's about 15km in radius, but I am not sure of that.  20km would probably be safe, but maybe not.  I decide to warp to 30km.  I land, then reverse and warp back at 30km.

I land near the cloud, about 18km from it.  A quick check shows one Venture is orbiting away from me, but the second is coming more or less towards me.  I move downward to meet it.  Once I get close enough, I uncloak and get to work.  The Venture's pilot tries to escape me, but with my microwarp I can catch him even though he is slightly faster.  Gradually my rockets do the job.  Boom.  He warps his pod promptly.

I scoop the loot from the wreck, which is not much.  There is a nice chunk of gas there, C320.  I want that.  But before anything else, I move off the wreck and cloak.

Combat done.  I start to ease back and notice the things again.  Dscan is clear.  The gas cloud is gone!  They must have sucked the last little bit of it as I was attacking them.  Talk about lucky timing!  A single minute later attacking, and I'd have missed them entirely.

I want that gas.  Not only is it worth 36m or whatever, it's the prize of battle.  The enemy may want it too.  But I am here and he's not.  I know where the bomber is, and he does not.  I quickly log on my alt Otto.  As he logs on, I bookmark the wreck and check dscan.  Nothing there.  I figure that the enemy may come back with force, but it's unlikely at short notice that they'll come with anything that will stop a Venture.  Even if they do bring a bubbler, I can see it coming on dscan.  And a Venture is worth the risk.  Otto takes one of my corp's Ventures, then warps over to the C5 wormhole.  Then he warps to the wreck bookmark, grabs the gas, and warps back home.  Ah, loot.

As I am sitting congratulating myself, I am still scanning.  I see a Venture.  Ah.  Perhaps they had the same thought as I did: come back in a worthless Venture to try to secure the loot.  Sure enough, a Venture lands on grid, but not at the wreck.  It's at the site's bookmark, about 20km from me.  The wreck is empty, so I figure the new Venture will leave.  Still, I move towards it in the hope that it dallies.  It moves, but not as I would expect, back where it came from.  Rather, towards the wreck.  That's odd... but it helps me close the range quickly.  Can he not see the wreck is empty?  No time to think about that.  I am in range, and I uncloak and open up.
Lightning strikes twice.
This one seems to go faster than the first.  Boom.  Again the pod warps in time.  Still, yay me!

A Sabre is on grid.  Crap, baited like an idiot!  Boo me!  The Sabre lands about 4km from me and fires a bubble.

I instinctively hit the microwarp and cloak.  And luckily for me, I am moving away from the wreck and far enough from it to cloak.  It's up to the Sabre now, to get to where I was going.  I know that even though I see me cloak immediately, he gets to see me for another 10 seconds or so.  So I just keep going straight, which is more or less to the edge of the bubble.  He starts moving towards me.

Now I juke and head directly to the edge, hoping to warp before he uncloaks me.  He gets about 8km from me, and fires another bubble.  Dammit.
Might have died here.
But then I get a break, and he changes direction, or maybe my juke worked.  (Hard to see what is happening in 3d.)  I make it to the edge of the bubble, and out.  He's 15km away; I am safe.  He fires a third bubble, but not near me now.  I keep moving out for a while just to watch.  Shortly he microwarps out of his bubbles and warps off.

Lessons here?  Well, there was nothing the first Venture could have done, other than be dscanning like a maniac and abort at the first sign of me as I crossed the wormhole.  I had scanned the site down last night, so he had no chance to see me probing for him.  Also, Ventures don't expect to get pinned by bombers.  So I cannot fault him at all.

One lesson comes from the fits on those Ventures.  Neither is excellent.  The second Venture should have had a warp scrambler or disruptor; if it had, my fate would have been sealed.  Both Ventures should have had a medium shield.  This would have given them more than double the hitpoints, doubling the time it would take me to kill them.  That also probably would have made the difference in the second fight, because had the Venture still been alive when the Sabre landed on grid its lock could have prevented my cloaking.  Note that both Ventures have empty slots.  You don't need a high-meta shield either; a simple Subordinate Screen Stabilizer costs about 15000 ISK.  Similarly, Ventures should have damage controls in the low.  That also increases hitpoints considerably.  (The fit I use for gas mining is found in my post How to Mine Gas Fairly Safely in Wspace.)

The main lesson is my own mistake.  Don't double dip.  If it seems too good to be true, as it was to have the second Venture go for the wreck in spite of the wreck being clearly empty, leave off.  It's true that I got the kill and I got away.  But I got it only because his fit was bad, presumably because he was rushed in making it.  I risked far more than he did.  If he lost, he lost a Venture worth a half million ISK.  Big deal.  If I lost, I lost not only a 40m bomber but a 100m pod too, and I'd be back out in known space with no known way back home.  I'd have to scan out with Otto.  Probably take 30 jumps across highsec.  Serious inconvenience.  Big loss.

1 comment:

  1. Risk nothing and gain nothing. Wish stuff like this would happen to me.