Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Industrial Relic

It's just Jayne and me on tonight.  There is an K162 wormhole from a C3 in our system.  The C3 system turns out to have a highsec static.  So, I log my Jita alt and fire up the freighter, and we move some PI goods and other odd supplies.  (This takes an hour or so which I won't bother with.)  Logistics completed, we go to check out our static.  It may or may not have already been instantiated.  Regardless, there are no ships to be seen in C4a, and it has very few anoms.  Since we are inclined to zip up and do our own sites anyway, this makes our decision easy.

We get out the Orca and battleships, and proceed to the C3 connection.  One pass through with everyone puts it well beyond half mass.  Then to our static womrhole and do the same.  Now back to the C3, and wait a minute for polarization to abate.  Then I run through, making it critical.  I come back in heavy, but it is not enough mass and the hole does not pop.  Bother.  Well, we'll tidy that up presently with an Onyx.  Meanwhile, back to the other wormhole.  Two battleship passes neatly eliminate it.  Have we become trapped?  We have, in a good way.

Now I go off to get IRL coffee and act like a human being for a while, while Jayne dispatches the C3 and get ready to run some sites.  I come back and get in my Raven, and off we go.  Sites go down quickly enough.  We are throwing out tractor units in each site and salvaging later.  So, with the third and last site gone, I warp to get a salvaging destroyer.

Destroyers used to be the salvager of choice, before the Noctis.  Then they were not, since the Noctis has massive tractor range and they do not.  Now, with Rubicon, destroyers are making a comeback.  The tractor unit automatically gathers all the wrecks; when you get to the site you don't need to tractor anything.  Just warp in, lock up wrecks, and salvage like mad.  I do this in the first site.  In the later two, the tractor units still have not gathered every wreck.  They are slow.  So I end up having to microwarp around a bit in the second, and in the third Jayne brings a Noctis.  But the loot is gathered fast enough, 260m ISKies worth.  Then I'm back to base safe and sound.

What to do?  Well, it's too late to run sites in C4a (once we instantiate it), but we can always hunt.  So, that's what we'll do.  I get in my Manticore; Jayne gets a Hound.  I warp out to scan, quickly resolving the new static.  I carefully align to it, and warp.  You want to go as fast as possible, because now all your potential victims get alerted by the accursed discovery scanner.  (CCP, please remove discovery scanner in wspace.)  Anyway, I get on grid with the new wormhole, then burn over to it as I bookmark it and tell Jayne to warp to me.  Then I cross.

As always, the first thing to do when entering a new wspace system is a dscan.  I do that.  There is an Iteron V on scan, 10 customs offices, and no towers.  OK, we have a victim!  I tell Jayne.  Then I move off the wormhole and cloak, then get busy with dscan.  It is unlikely the Itty V is doing anything other than planet-gooing.  I look at six planets.  Not at any of them.  Wormhole noise -- it's Jayne joining me. At Planet X, I see the Itty V.  Immediately I throw it into warp to the CO at 10km, and I tell Jayne.

I land on grid, and there is the Itty V -- 30km from me.  That's not ideal, but he does not seem to be leaving, so there's still a good chance.  I head toward him.  The CO might uncloak me, so I need to avoid that... and Jayne is saying Oops.  Oops?  Oh.  I see Jayne.  He's not cloaked.  (He warped to the planet and ended up being decloaked by the CO.)

I dither for a moment, then realize I should get uncloaked and fire even if I cannot point.  Maybe the Itty V pilot is AFK or just paralyzed, and even if not, they are pretty slow and weak.  So I uncloak and start locking, but as I do this, the Itty blows up.  Jayne has killed it in a single volley.  (Killmail shows no tank at all.  Ugh.)  The pod is out there, and although I still am not in scrambler range, I start locking it.  Lock completes, and I fire a round of torps at it, but before my torps hit Jayne has beat me again.  Oh well, at least this time I managed to whore on the killmail.  (I guess the fact that I shot at him counts, even though I did zero damage.)

Jayne loots the few modules of any value.  Nothing left but a small amount of low-value PI goods.  Hmm, excitement over.

There being no tower in the inner system, I figure there must be a tower at the outer planet.  So I warp out to have a look.  Maybe someone has not gotten the word.  Dscan shows two towers, one of them with Chinese or Japanese in its name, the other with Cyrillic.  (Odd neighbors.)  There is also a Retriever and some shuttles.  The Retriever makes me hope that we can get another kill, but a check of the anoms in system shows that all of the ore anoms (and there are four) are in the inner system.  So it is going to be at a tower.  Both towers are easily located, there being just two moons.  The Russian tower has the Retriever and empty shuttles.  So I sit and watch for a while.  I hope that the Retriever will do something stupid like warp off to the inner system to mine.  But it does not.  After a few minutes, Jayne wraps up his night and logs off.

I stay watching the tower, while I do stuff on my market alt in the other window.  I get hopeful for a while which a new Retriever logs on.  But it does not do anything.  After a while I decide to explore through this system's static, which links to a C3 system.  The system has only two sigs, so finding it should be easy, and the guys sitting at the tower won't see the probes.  I warp off, fire probes, and quickly scan it down.  Then I warp to it and enter.

C3 is not inspiring.  A quick warp around shows no ships in space, nor wrecks or other interesting objects. shows it has a lowsec static, but it is hidden among 10 signatures.  Do I want to scan 10 sigs in my unbonuses Manticore?  Normally I would, but it is getting late for me.  Right now, I don't think it is worth it.  So I return to C4b to sit at the tower.  I'll watch Russians do either nothing at all, or (hopefully) something stupid.  Or, who knows.  Maybe something smart.

When I get back to the tower, one of the Retrievers is gone, swapped for an Orca.  Maybe they are going to try to pop our static!  I log off my market alt and get my combat alt logged on back at our home tower.  If they try to pop the hole without a decent escort, I'll pounce.  But they don't.  The ships just sit there.

Eventually the second retriever turns into a Heron.  This is not unexpected.  They must find our wormhole to pop it.  The Heron warps off into the inner system, and I follow.  I want to know when they start trying to pop, and that will be after they scan it down.  The Heron disappears, as I expect.  But no probes appear.  I am in scan range, so this puzzles me.  After a few minutes, I warp back to the tower to check if the Heron is there.  No.  Well, what could it be doing?

I realize that they have a podded comrade out in kspace, and they will want to get him in.  This may mean they need to scan down C3a.  So I warp to that wormhole again, and cross.  Nothing.  I warp into the inner system for another dscan, and I see probes on scan.  Just three probes, though, not all either.  So the guy must be scanning sigs near to a distant planet.  I warp out there and verify that all eight probes are present.  Then I fire my own probes, and scan down the two sigs.  Luckily, one of them is the system's static lowsec wormhole.  I throw my probes out of the system, then sit and wait.  If that Heron is scanning out, it will have to exit out into lowsec to find out where the wormhole goes.  And then it may come back in polarized.  Or not.  Either way, I have a shot at it.

Sure enough, after another minute or two (this guy does not scan very fast), I see a Heron on dscan.  Then it appears on grid.  It is within scrambler range, and I consider going for it.  But I think not; it can escape out the wormhole.  Better to wait.  The Heron burns over to the wormhole, and out it goes.

Now I uncloak, turn on my sebo, and orbit the wormhole close.  And I dscan to make sure nobody is dropping on me.  They are not.  After perhaps a minute, bwooomp-crackle.  Wormhole noise.  I get ready.  My mouse is poised over the overview to lock this guy.  He uncloaks; yes it is the expected Heron; I start locking.  I turn on my systems, and just as I am about to fire, he's gone.  Rats.

I think he must have cloaked, so I burn towards his last position, although I am pretty unsure about it.  I was not watching.  Not there.  I orbit the wormhole several time at various distances.  Not there.

Eventually I see him on dscan, which I am still doing in case there are locals that I don't know about.  He must have warped off and I somehow missed it.  Oh well.  (He's gotten killed before in a Heron and he was probably stabbed up.)

Well, I won't get him in here any more.  I warp back to the wormhole to C4b and cross.  I'll wait here.  Perhaps he will come.  But after a few minutes of nothing, I realize that I have IRL chores to do before bed, and also in-game chores.  So, I give up on stalking the Heron and warp home.

Coda: This morning Jayne tells me he took another trip in their system in his Hound just to see if they might be there, and found a lone Retriever out mining.  Got it and the pod.  Russian dudes: don't do stuff with wormholes open and unwatched!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Wreck Field Found

Another day, another static wormhole.  We have two wormholes incident to our system today.  I've just finished exploring the K162 from a C5: it's a dead end.  So let's have a look the other direction.  I fly to our static and cross into C4b.

As always, the first thing I do when I enter a new wspace system is hit dscan.  I see what anyone in a cloaky combat ship hopes for: sleeper wrecks.  There are eight of them.  This is not enough to be a full site, so someone may have abandoned a site partway through.  This seems likely, since I also see five salvage drones, and many probes on scan.  Not just one set of probes, either.  Two sets.  This system is jumping!  No towers, though. suggests the system is unoccupied.

I burn off the hole to orbit at 15km, and check the system map.  There are a lot of anoms and sigs, about 20 of each.  This is going to make it hard to find the wrecks.  I play with it for a while, pointing at each anom and narrowing the beam, until I am convinced that the wrecks are not any current anom.  This may mean that someone got ganked while salvaging.  But the salvage drones are not where the wrecks are.  So it may be a gas site.  I look again at nobody has been killed recently.  Now I pay attention to the sleeper wreck types.  Ah, they are all cruisers.  Eight cruisers are found in one of the intermediate gas sites.

Now, I only know one sig in this system so far: the K162 I came in.  I might wait around here hoping for a scout to come to me.  But this seems somewhat unlikely, given that the scouts must have seen each others' probes, and will be cautious.  So, I figure I will scan.  It's a small system, but there is an ore anom that's about 16au from where I am.  I warp to it hoping to hide as much as possible while firing probes.

Probes out, I set to work on the sigs.  First some isolated outer-system sigs.  Gas, gas, radar, gas.  Then I wade into the eastern half of the map, since that's where the wrecks seem to be.  After each new gas sig, I warp to the field at 100km, to see if it's the one with the wrecks.  All of them have sleepers already triggered.  Finally, after 8 more sigs of various types, I find it.

Anyone tempted by these juicy wrecks?
As usual when I have a wreck field, I fly back to make a perch.  Once I have done that, I sit and wait, still scanning.  There are no other probes out now but mine, so I throw them out of the system.  Anyone interested in some wrecks?  Someone...  ?

After lurking for a few minutes, I realize that Real Life is going to intrude Real Soon.  I can't wait here all day.  So, it looks like I am going to be the guy to salvage these wrecks.  I warp back to my static K162, cross, then reship to a light salvager at my tower.  Then I return, risking polarization.  I warp to the perch I made, then in to one of the wrecks.

It's a tense few minutes of salvaging.  I keep dscan going to see any non-cloakies coming.  And as I do the last wreck, I am almost expecting someone to uncloak.  But nobody comes, and nobody does uncloak.  I get all the salvage and then I get the eff out.  15m in blue loot.  No nanoribbons, unfortunately.  Still, pretty a nice bit of earning for 30 minutes of play.

So, what was the story behind those wrecks?  Someone triggered all the gas sites and ran at least this one.  Why he did not come back to salvage I'll never know.  Perhaps it was a new connection showing up on his discovery scanner.  Perhaps he saw probes.  In any case, I was bolder, or more lucky, and his loss was my gain.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vargurs Barge In

It's a snow day here on the East coast of the US of A.  Near blizzard conditions.  I drove home early from work, and the boy is entertaining himself.  What's to be done?  Play EVE, that's what. 

I log in, and our system appears quiescent.  There are three anoms, all of them Frontier Command Posts, same as yesterday.  There are four sigs.  This is one more than I expect, and in any case probably the two wormholes from night are dead.  Time to scan!  I warp out in my Manticore, deploy probes, and start.

Both wormholes are gone which were present last night (our static and a K162).  We had two data sites last night; one has vanished.  So, there should be two sigs.  But there are four.  Hmm.  I find a wormhole, which from its tag is newish, so I guess it must be our static.  I bookmark it, but I don't instantiate it.  It's probably not instantiated and I want to leave us zipped up.  The next sig is a gas site.  OK, cool.  I instantiate it to get the Sleepers coming.  After I get this last sig, maybe I will tap it out.  It depends on what this last one is...

The last sig is a wormhole.  Hmm.  Not expected.  Well, it was around at downtime, so I think it must be some K162.  I warp to it to check it out, and, no.  It is our static.  I blew that call.  Oh well, I might as well go in and check it out.  I burn over to it and enter.

I dscan from the hole, and not much to be seen.  It's a small system, just one tower and no ships on scan. reports European time zone, and this appears to be Russians from the Cyrillic I can see as the names of various items on dscan.  I look at anomalies -- a nice set. 

There are five sigs.  I fire probes as I move off the wormhole and throw them out of the system.  There is one planet off scan, so I warp out there to check.  Nothing.  Time to scan.  First I determine which sig is the wormhole I came in.  Ignore it.  The second sig is another wormhole, then gas, radar, and gas.  Only one sig other than our static, and I am guessing the locals are idle.  A perfect system for running sites in, later.  Right now, nobody is on but me.   Time to head home, and check out that other wormhole.

I warp to our our static and jump.  Then I warp again, to the unexplored wormhole signature.  The new wormhole is "dangerous", and yellowish.  Thus it must be C4, and I dub it C4c in my bookmark.  I burn over and enter.  Dscan is clear from the wormhole, no ships or towers.  I bookmark it and get out my probes, then cloak and throw the probes out of the system.  Now time to hunt.  I warp around the rather large system.  In the central system, there is a tower and a Vargur.  Um... what's a Vargur?  I am pretty sure it's a tech 2 battleship of some kind.  Info tells me it's the Minmatar Marauder.  Well, let's see if it is at the tower.  I isolate the planet via dscan, then warp to it, and determine the right moon.  Landing on grid, yes, the Vargur is sitting there.  It is manned, at least.  So there's that.

Almost as soon as I land on grid, the Vargur logs out.  Hmm.  Well, that's a favorable sign; if he is logging out, he may be bringing in some other ship.  A lesser ship... perhaps a hauler... so I wait.  After a few minutes, nobody warps in to the tower, so I figure it was just a logout.  Too bad.  Time to scan the system.  I'll sit at the tower just in case anyone logs in.

The outer system has two planets, with three sigs.  I quickly scan these, which are gas and radar sites.  Then I move to the inner system.  Just as I am scanning the second time, the Vargur warps in again.  Rats!  My probes!  I throw them back out of the system, but it may be too late.  Is it?  No way to tell...

The Vargur sits for a moment, then it aligns and warps.  This is a battleship, so it warps nice and slow.  I get a great view of the direction.  It warped towards the sun, but left of it, and somewhat up.  I call up my map and orient myself.  OK, here's the tower, and there's the sun.  What's left and up?  Oh.  The wormhole to my home system.

What the heck?  Why would the Vargur warp to my system? ... except to run sites.  Can a lone Marauder do that?  Well, I know the answer: yes.  Penny has been writing about it.  Still, doing sites by yourself in an ill-scouted non-zipped system seems pretty stupid to me.  But hey, this is EVE.  So I throw it into warp to the wormhole.  I land, and the Vargur is gone off dscan, so it must have jumped.  I give it a minute to get off the wormhole, and then I follow.

Back home.  It always feels good, knowing that I cannot be cut off here.  Nobody is on the other side of the wormhole, at least nobody I can see.  But I see wrecks on dscan.  And there are two Vargurs now, not just one.  Well, that's somewhat more reasonable for a site-running squad.  But it is still crazy to run sites without operational security.

no hurry
There is nowhere in our system those wrecks could come from except our Frontier Command Posts.  Before I do anything else, I bookmark each one of them.  Now I have a moment, so I focus dscan and find them in the first anom I point at.  I warp to it at 100.  There they are, two Vargurs with two tractor units, killing sleepers.  Killing sleepers slowly.  I am used to the rate my team runs sites at; by comparison, this is glacial.  Well, it gives me time to think.  The first item of business: make a perch. I head away from them and their wreck-ball.

This site is not particularly hard for C4, with max DPS just over 1000, and not much neuting or scramming.  Still, 1000 DPS is more than my Manticore puts out, and indeed more than any ship I have easy access to can do.  I might log an alt, but I am awful at trying to control two ships in PVP, and also, the enemy is in dscan range of my tower.  So it is unlikely to work.  And the same problem holds with calling up Jayne, who might be able to get free.  He'd appear at the tower.

As I am thinking such thoughts, I am counting the wrecks and trying to see if they have salvagers.  They don't.  So this is my plan: wait to see how they will salvage.  Will they cut corners?  Perhaps I can exploit a mistake.  So, I sit and wait.  The last few ships are finally, finally killed.  Then I watch as their tractor slow pulls.

What lurks out there?
A destroyer warps in.  Ah, this is interesting.  Should I attempt it with them guarding it?  I am just pondering that, when one of the two Vargurs warps off.  Where is it?  I don't know.  But not here, and that is what matters.  Against one I might have a chance to kill the destroyer before they get their wits about them.  But before I have to make that decision, the second Vargur warps and disappears off dscan.

It's on.

pitiful loot
The destroyer is sitting still, firing many salvagers.  I warp to within 20km, then close as I watch him go.  There is little point in attacking early; I might as well let him clean the site.  When I am within 8000m, I stop.  He is almost done... and now he has all wrecks under a beam.  It's time.  I set orbit around him at 1000m, then mentally rehearse what I am about to do.  Then I do it: uncloak.  Turn on sebo.  Lock.  Turn on remaining weapons systems.  This all happens in order, and the first round of torps hits him.

I am hitting dscan.  Nothing.  So far, so good.  The second round, and then the third.  Boom.  The pod is ejected, and I try to lock it.  The lock is a second from completing, when he warps off.   No trophy today.

I dscan again (clear), then open the wreck and grab everything.  (The loot fairy has frowned a mighty frown on me today.)  Then I move off and cloak.  I am curious to see whether the Vargurs will warp in.  They don't.  After a short wait, I head over to watch the wormhole.  I guess they left.  I am now expecting a closure attempt.

closing wormholes is all the rage
I watch for a few minutes, and sure enough, wormhole sound.  But it is not an Orca.  It's an Anathema.  Huh.  Scout.  For what?  It moves off and warps.  After a minute, it returns, and a Vargur appears too.  Both of them leave.  I guess the Vargur was hiding in my system, perhaps thinking there were more than one of me.  Perhaps the Anathema flew to make sure the wreck was looted?  I don't know.

A minute later, the second Vargur appears on dscan, then on grid, and it leaves too.  OK, everyone I know about is out.   I keep watching.

The scout comes back in, and cloaks.  What for?  Ah, another wormhole noise.  And finally, the expected Orca comes and goes.  I watch.  I won't attempt to go after it in their system, even though they may possibly be foolish enough to not escort it.  So I will just watch as they operate.  Maybe I will get lucky and they will screw up the math and strand a ship in with me.

Five minutes later, a second pass of the Orca.  Then, five minutes after that, I see the scout on the hole; it leaves.  The Orca enters.  The wormhole is critical.  The Orca makes its final pass, and the wormhole pops.  Goodbye, Vargur people.

Have I written anything about basic opsec for wspace?  Maybe I should.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fleet Crushing Lag

Another big EVE fight.  Another failure.  This time the server node did not fall over, but apparently the side entering the field second (CFC and friends) lost because they could not get their hardeners on.  Both sides were seeing the hilarious "Soul Crushing Lag" popups.  (These are funny from my POV in wspace, where such lag does not happen.  I am sure nullies were not laughing.)
Not a joke

Trebor Daehdoow covers the thing here.  EVE combat is O(N^2) in the number of pilots involved.  So no matter how much processing power you have, linear increases in N will always exceed the processing power available.  (We hope that Moore's Law overcomes this, but it has not in the past few years.)  In short, "Fleets expand to fill the lag available".

Daehdoow covers the three ways in which CCP can address the problem: more hardware, more programming effort, and changed mechanics so that too-huge fights don't happen.  Of these, they are already maxxed out in hardware, and programming effort has already been heroic.  The low hanging fruit is already harvested.

Anyway, all that is prefatory to my idea for how to fix the problem.  And that is: remove ships from the field when TIDI gets high.  One might be "nice" about doing that; perhaps a forced logoff with a cooling off time allowing no login.  But then it is hard to think of a rationale for why ships would just disappear in the middle of a fight.  It's a huge fight: they want to be there!  And also, this is EVE: if you want something removed, kill it.

I thought about the idea of using player-controlled weapons to create such an effect.  For example, perhaps a giant area-effect weapon of some kind.  But I think this is a bad idea.  You want the effect to be guaranteed by the server, not the players, regardless of whether the players like or want it.

So, I propose a new mechanic.  When a particular server is sufficiently overloaded -- let us say, below 20% TIDI -- then there is a chance of a very damaging area-effect explosion.  Our bullshit scifi explanation might be: due to the massive energy of large fleet combat, there is a rip in the space-time continuum.

The chance for a space-time rip to happen should increase with increasing lag; for example, it might be 1% per hour at TIDI 20, then double for every point lower, so that at 10% TIDI it becomes 1% per each 7 seconds or so.  (This gives an average time for a rip to start of about a minute.)  When a rip starts, there should be some warning, such that smaller ships might be able to warp off grid.  And there needs to be a epicenter, which should be computed as the center of mass of all ships on grid.  So, put an cool graphic there, a pulsing nastily energetic looking thing.  Or maybe a black hole looking thing.  Whatever it is, make sure a warning is popped up to everyone.  Indeed: put a marker on the system map, like a cyno.

One minute after a rip is created, it explodes and vanishes.  The explosion does damage directly to shields, armor, and structure of all ships on grid.  The amount should not be mitigated by speed, but only (a) signature, and (b) distance from the rip location.  This needs to be carefully tuned, but the idea should be that even a distant, undamaged ship should be at mild danger (say, 5%) of being blown up.  Ships right on the rip  when it tears should die fairly reliably.  All other ships should take substantial damage, including hull damage.  The armor and/or shields would be reparable in short order with the sort of logistics that fleets have, but not hull, which would make it increasingly deadly to stay on grid after a series of rips.

Thus, below 20% TIDI a large fleet battle becomes something of a game of chicken.  Both sides still benefit from having a larger blob, but proportionately nowhere near as much, since both sides will be taking more or less constant (and equal) attrition.  In the limit, a large force that simply gets on grid together with no enemy ships present whatsoever would create risk for itself; basically any large fleet which causes TIDI is punished.  FCs would learn not to do that.  They'd do it only on the field of combat.

A massive null fleet battle would then have a strong reason for reserves, rather than simply throwing in all force available immediately.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

EVE Will Grow

The latest blog banter is about the subscription numbers for EVE.
... take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.
For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.
What's on the other side of that plateau?
Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that 'never' is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.
Also, what would EVE be like with an order of magnitude fewer or more players?
I've read some people's responses and was a bit surprised.  People are saying EVE may die or become a niche.  But I think the numbers will go up.

The hardware required to play EVE is not ubiquitous.  It is not even close, even in the developed world.  Data at la Wik: List of countries by number of broadband Internet subscriptions.  Look at the rates for fixed broadband.  I don't know if one can play EVE tolerably with the minimum "broadband" they have defined, which is DSL (256 kbit/s).  I doubt it.  But even allowing that EVE via DSL is possible, we still see broadband penetration rates in the first world of 27%.  A quarter.  And in the third world, nearly negligible rates around 5% or so.  If my doubts are correct, then in fact the number of people who can play EVE is an even smaller fraction of the population.

Another thing that makes EVE much better is a large monitor, and indeed, preferably two or more.  You need screen real estate to put all the spreadsheets on.  And you need two monitors to dual-box, which (due to the nature of many tasks in EVE) makes EVE a much more immersive and thus fun game.  Big displays have gotten radically cheaper in the last few years, and therefore must be becoming more widespread.  Most video cards can run two monitors these days.

Now, of course the sort of geek who likes EVE is far more likely than average to have broadband and a large dual monitor setup.  Why, everyone I know has broadband!  But still, there are a lot of people out there who cannot play EVE for the simple reason that they lack the connection to do so.  The vast majority of people who would love EVE if they could play it, cannot.  As true highspeed Internet continues to expand, the pool of potential players will increase tremendously.  Ditto for cheap large screens.  EVE will expand with these technologies.  Or at least, EVE should.  This is, I think, what one sees at in the first half of the graph above: a game that is expanding keeping a more-or-less constant share of highspeed Internet users.  So, the second half is not really a plateau; it is a decline.

One explanation for the decline may be the shift from desktop computers to mobile computers.  Personally, I feel this is a temporary thing; there are certain applications that simply require a lot of screen real estate.  You cannot effectively use a spreadsheet on an iPhone.  Be that as it may, over the past few years there has been a pretty sharp decline in the number of desktops sold, because mobile computers can do most of the most useful things that people use computers for.  And it appears the forecast for desktop sales is down for years to come.  So, this may be part of EVE's problem.  I don't think it is fixable; EVE on a cellphone is not viable.

A second explanation for the decline is the recession.  Here is another graph of basically the same information, which has proper axis labeling:

The plateau you can see correlates with some lag with the recession, which "began in December 2007 and took a particularly sharp downward turn in September 2008".  EVE's players seem to lag the recession a bit, perhaps a year.  But wealthy as they are in world terms, they are also being pinched.  EVE is a premium game; it requires a fairly substantial amount of money to stay subscribed for the average player.  The average player does not PLEX.  He just pays his $15/month.  Over a year that is $180 -- perhaps too much for many people when they lose their job.  (I also note that part of the reason for the decline of the desktop is the recession.)

So what are the prospects for EVE?  I see the plateau, or relative decline, as largely caused by market forces.  Those same forces will bring new players to EVE, eventually.

EVE is not going to stagnate forever.  Its appeal has evidently declined in the last few years, but it still has appeal; and I cannot see that it will lose that appeal.  You know that appeal, and I know it.  So, as more and more of the world population come online not just via cell phones, but via highspeed connections with big screens, EVE will grow again.  If and when the world comes out of recession, we will see growth.

"The" path that CCP needs to follow, then, is simply to keep doing what they are doing.  Potential customers are coming online all the time.  Their woes of recent are not their fault; their product is solid.  In fact, I think they should be a little proud of holding on to as much of their customer base as they have, given the recession.  We might compare them to the makers of other entertainment during the recession.  How is movie income?   Plateau.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Scout Almost Ganked

Another weekend day, another day scanning out.  Our static is still open from last night.  I head down the chain in my Manticore.  It is not the best scanning platform, but I am hoping there will be no scanning.  Most likely I will have to rescan out at the last link, a C2.

However, in C4b, just one hop down the chain, the static wormhole is gone.  It should have lasted this long; someone must have popped it.  I still want to scan out, so I set about it.  This is easily done in this system, since I know the other signatures from last night.  There are only two new sigs and I rapidly find the static.

Now I enter the next system, another C4.  All is quiet.  According to, it's got a C3 static, so that is good news for scanning out.  Six sigs.  I search them down and find the static.  I enter.  On the other side of the wormhole is an anchored bubble.  Hmm.  That's odd, especially since it does not overlap the wormhole.  I move off as normal, and start scanning. 

There is a highsec in the system according to, and I mean to find it.  A few sigs, and I do.  I warp to it, and find another anchored bubble.  Again, it is not really in the right place.  Weird.  Now I duck out into highsec for five minutes.  I bookmark the entrance so corpies can get in if they want.

I head back in, and then warp across the system to the wormhole up to C4b.  I hit the warp bubble.  Not a big deal.  I slowboat around it and jump.

Trouble.  There is a Sabre at the wormhole.  He's heard me jump, so, I am probably not going to be able to warp.  He'll bubble.  But I'll try, anyway.  I keep at 20 from the wormhole, and fire my afterburner, then immediately cloak.  He does not instalock me, so that is nice.  But he puts up a bubble, so my warpoff fails.  He burns straight at me.  I am going to be decloaked, so I head back at the wormhole.  Got to get to the other side for round two, if I can.

I uncloak.  He locks me up, and gets a round or two of fire into me.  My shields are blown down to about 20%.  And I jump.

He'll be right through, but a bit behind me.  This time I am pinning my hopes on warping ASAP.  I order a warp to a celestial and cloak.  I turn, and he is through.  He fires a bubble and I warp.  Or rather, I guess the reverse, because I definitely warped. 

I am safe.  Whew.  But I have a problem.  I am still here, in this C3, and I don't want to be.  I want to be upstream, but the Sabre is still there between me and there.  I can't get past him safely.  My plan is to warp back and see what he is doing, and wait for him to leave or make a mistake.  But I cannot even warp back to look at the wormhole in complete safety.  With a bubble there to drag me in, I might end up decloaked.

How to get out?
I pull up the system map and have a look at the system.  The wormhole to highsec is almost straight "down" from the wormhole I got jumped at.  I did not see how the bubble was, exactly.  But I can guess that it has been placed inline with the warp to or from highsec.  (That's why I hit it warping from the highsec wormhole.)  So, if I come in from the side, I will probably not be caught in the bubble.

I warp to an outer planet.  Then I warp to the wormhole at 30km.  Let's see what happens.  I land on grid about 25km from the wormhole, and I can see I was right.  The bubble is down "below" the wormhole, in the direction of the highsec wormhole.  However, the Sabre is still there.  So, even if my polarization had faded, which it has not yet, I am still not too keen to go for it.

As I am pondering what I might do to escape, I notice that there are faint weapons noises.  Why are there faint weapons noises?  Ah.  The Sabre is shooting the anchored bubble.  I guess it is not his after all.  Well, that will be helpful for me later on, perhaps.

He completes the task.  Then I get some luck: he warps out, downward, probably to highsec.  I don't have to be invited twice.  Even though my polarization is only half gone, I think this is my best chance.  So I bounce off the closest celestial and warp back to the wormhole.   Then I traverse the wormhole and get off it and cloak, and I am happy and safe again.  Whew.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Scout Gank

The weekend.  I am in EVE doing various small chores.  I have some PI to rearrange slightly.  My Jita alt does a bit of PI, but then wants to leave wspace.  He's in blockade runner, and there is sleeper loot to go out. 

A check of the timing on bookmarks shows that the way out from last night -- C4a - C4b - C2a - hs -- should still be there.  However, you can never be sure about wspace.  I am pretty sure, but not absolutely, that we opened our own static.  Then I am less sure of the next wormhole, and I have no idea what the timing of the highsec wormhole is, other than that last night it was not EOL.  I may have to probe out a new static. 

Rather than running the pipe unseen with my Jita alt (though it would likely be safe), I get Von in his trusty Manticore.  He will scout the pipe.  Not only is the Manticore cheap if I get jumped, but it has probes.  And also weapons; maybe I will find someone to gank.

Our static is still around, wobbling along in its EOL state.  As expected.  I jump in C4b, and dscan.  Just a tower; no ships.  The tower appears to be Russian-owned, from the Cyrillic in the labels of various modules.  I warp across to the C4b/C2a wormhole.  It also is EOL, which is pretty good evidence that we opened it, meaning it will be safe to use.  I jump to C2a.  Again, a dscan shows no ships.  OK, fine.  I head back up the pipe.

There are a few more things for my Jita alt to do.  Then he grabs all the blue loot and salvage from our loot can, and tops off his cargo with Hedbergite.  Then out he goes.  As he enters C4a, I dscan as usual.  There is something new: a Venture and a Mammoth on scan.  Hmm.  I get him out without incident, and head to Amarr.

The Venture has piqued my curiousity.  I doubt he's gas mining; probably just at the POS.  Still, you never know.  Just as I am crossing into C4b in my Manticore, Jayne logs in.  He asks what's up as I am searching for the POS.  (Should have located it last night, but didn't.)  I inform him of the situation: our wormhole has 1-2 hours left, but the Russians next door might be huntable.  Now they have 2 Imicuses and the Mammoth.  We get on coms.  He gets in his Hound.  I tell him to wait on our side until I figure out what's up.

I find the tower, and warp to the moon.  One Imicus has disappeared.  I land within 100km, and move a bit close to make sure I can look at stuff if I need to.  The Imicus I can see turns into an Iteron V.

I am hoping someone wants to do PI.  So we wait.  The Itty V turns back into an Imicus.  Neither ship moves.  After a while, Jayne reports wormhole noise.  It's the missing Imicus, which entered our system via our static.  I tell Jayne to go for it; we know there is no backup.  I am about to fly to the other end of our static in this system, when the Mammoth changes into Iteron V.  I figure the enemy scout will evade Jayne, so I stay at the POS, hoping this guy is going to do PI.

Jayne attacks.  A stealth bomber is not the ideal ship to attack a frigate in, but it can certainly kill one if the frigate pilot is not very alert.  This one gets locked up, and hit with a round of torps.  But just before he would have been killed, he jumps back.  Jayne reports this to me.  He jumped back.  Attack!  Uh... I'm not there.  Now I regret staying at the tower.  The enemy will escape unless he fails to warp immediately.  Still, I warp to the wormhole. Might get lucky.

I am dscanning as I fly there.  No Imicus.  Evidently he has not warped.  I land, and the wormhole uncloaks me.  I turn on my sensor booster, and orbit the hole at 500m.  Then I dscan and wait.  I am visible on dscan, so I have to be careful.  Dscan.  Dscan... safe.  Hmm.  Maybe I am too late.  It is possible the guy already moved off and cloaked. 

Nope.  There is the Imicus, exactly 8000m from me.  He has not gotten himself safe.  I immediately head at him, and start locking him.  I get my systems active.  The lock completes; my systems open up.  My torps kill him in one volley.  (Jayne's torps must have removed his shields at least.  But evidently the wormhole jump removed Jayne's damage from the killmail.)  Now I go for the pod, same drill.  Lock, get weapons active, and... got him.  Boom.  Corpse.
Good loot -- for an Imicus

A quick dscan shows there is nothing coming, at least nothing uncloaked.  The same two ships are present, so I am pretty sure nothing is coming.  Still, haste is always prudent.  I loot the wreck (the loot fairy is nice today), and scoop the corpse, then move off a bit to see if they'll send over anything else.

They don't.  After about 30 minutes sitting (as I fly to Amarr, sell stuff, then fly to Jita with my alt on the second screen),  I give up.  My wormhole can potentially start closing in about 30 minutes.  I want to be on the other side soon enough.

Yo, scout dude: don't loiter on wormholes when you are escaping from known enemies.  Jayne could have killed you just as easily as I did.

Also: inertial stabilizers are considered harmful. They are fundamentally flawed components that few fits, if any, should ever use.  This is because ships that rely on align time to get away from danger are also relying on small signature.  Stabs decrease your align time, which is good.  But they also increase your sig, which is bad.  The one effect cancels the other, at least partially.  Use nanofibers instead.  They don't speed your alignment quite as much.  But they also don't balloon your signature.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Boring Some Nullies

It's a moving-stuff night.  Earlier, we rolled our static twice looking for a good system to run sites in, and/or a good way out.  The second time, when we scanned out C4b, it had a C3 static.  That C3 static had a nullsec static, but further scanning showed it had a random K162 coming from highsec.  Since we have a lot of stuff to get in (we are firing up a ground-up level 4 PI goods pyramid), we decided to send out the freighters from Jita.  They've arrived, and now we are prepared to run stuff in.

For operational security, we have placed two scouts into the wormhole chain.  Timmay is watching at the tower in C3; from there he can see on dscan both the highsec wormhole out and the C3/C4 wormhole.  I am watching on the C4 side of the C3/C4 wormhole.

We have some Itty 3s already at our tower.  A couple guys pod out; we have freighted down three extra industrials for this run.  We have 6 characters, total, in our Itty fleet.  (I still think of all Gallente industrials as Iterons, and call them "Itties", and probably always will, unless they change what they look like.)  We assemble the three new ones at the transfer station.  Now we are ready to go.

We all leave the station, and I fleet-warp all six of us to the wormhole.  The scout says all is clear inside, so we enter wspace and hold cloak.  When everyone is in, I fleet-warp us to the C3/C4b wormhole.  We all jump.  Von is the scout in C4b, sitting on the C4/C3 wormhole.  I check my dscan, and it is still clear.  I warp us to the C4b/C4a wormhole.  Here we have no scout inside, since this is the least likely system to have anyone in it.  (We live there.)  Still, when we enter I check the discovery scanner for any new signatures.  We cleaned out our system last night: it should have one ore anom, one combat anom (new since yesterday), and one signature (our static).  It does.  I fleet-warp us to the tower.

Now everyone dumps off goods, and quickly we are ready to head out.  We reverse the what we just did, hopping back out from C4a to C4b to C3 to highsec.  This time is not so safe, though.  Timmay in C3 reports a Rapier on scan.  We get to the highsec wormhole safely, and jump.  Then we warp to the nearby station, and everyone docks.

We each grab a new load of goods.  Once that is done, we all undock and I fleet-warp us to the wormhole.

Timmay is seeing stuff on dscan: Rapier, Crow, Catalyst, Claw, Scythe, Sabre...  Uh oh.  We stop at the wormhole.  Timmay reports a bubble.  (The Sabre.)  We are not getting back into wspace right now, so I fleetwarp us back to the station.  We dock and talk.  Timmay reports that they are sitting on the highsec hole.  They fire another bubble.  We cannot go in.  Their timing was suspiciously good; they may have eyes in our highsec local, and have seen us.  Our plan is to bore them and get them to leave.  So we decide to log off our characters at the station.  With none of us in local, eventually the enemy will get tired of nothing and leave.  Anyway, that is our hope.

So, we all log off our guys in Itties.  Hiljah has real life chores to do, and goes AFK.  The rest of us sit there.  The enemy sits on the wormhole for a minute.  Five minutes.  Then they warp, and come into C4b on grid with me.  And they sit on that wormhole for a while.  Obviously they realize that trapping people on a highsec wormhole is unlikely to get them anything much by way of kills.  We would just back out.  If they caught us here, by contrast, they'd kill us easily.  But of course they won't, since we won't come here, since I am watching.  (This is why you keep eyes on, while doing logistics.)

Jayne bets me that they are from nullsec.  I bet wspace.  I check them; all the same corp.  And... hmm, I was wrong.  They definitely look nullsec.  I warp offgrid to find the local tower.  I want to make sure they are not from here.  I get to the right planet, then dscan the moons and find the right one.  I warp.  The owner is not related to the enemy.  OK, that's good to know.  And we know there is no other way into this system.  So they must be from the C3's nullsec static.

After 10 minutes of watching, they decide to head back into C3.  They go to sit on the highsec again.  I have Tim fly to the two wormholes we had left unexplored.  If it turns out we open a wormhole, perhaps it will bring in a third party who wants a scrap.  (Unlike us.)  Timmay flies to the first wormhole we have not scanned.  It is the nullsec static, as we expected from its low signature.  The enemy must have come from there.  Then Timmay flies to the other wormhole.  It turns out to be another K162 from highsec.  Hmm... maybe they came from here.  Or maybe we can use it, if it happens to come out close to the station we are logged-off in.

I don't really want Tim going out to check, because I want him to keep eyes on the enemy.  And he may get jumped coming back in, and I have more experience with that.  So I tell him to watch the nullsec wormhole.  (He keeps an "eye" on the enemy at the highsec entrance via dscan.)  I enter C3 and warp to the newly found highsec.  I exit.  It comes out in Metropolis, 35 long jumps from the other station.  Well, so much for that idea.

I orbit the wormhole for five minutes just to be safe, letting my polarization abate.  I rename my ship, just in case they are alertly dscanning, so they don't know I am the same guy as left.  Then I enter; nobody is there.  I decide to shake things up a little.  Perhaps just seeing some probes would spook them, or at least get them interested in one of the wormholes other than ours.

So,  then fly to a random moon near the local tower, and deploy probes.  (If they manage to locate me on dscan, they may think I am local.)  I push around probes, verifying all of our previously marked sigs.  Soon I notice that there is sig we did not scan down.  Either we missed it, or it is new.  I scan it: wormhole.  I fly to it at a safe range.  It is a second nullsec.  While I am pondering that, I see the Rapier at it.  Hmm.  It looks like we were wrong: the nullsec Timmay is sitting at is not where they are from.  They are probably from here.

I stay at this wormhole, and tell Timmay to go to the highsec to watch the enemy there.  The enemy remains there, and I finish scanning down the system.  I find one more gas site which Jayne found earlier but did not scan down completely.  I do scan it down and bookmark it.

We are pretty much out of clever ideas.  The only thing left is waiting them out.  Since we want to get to bed, we are starting to think about coming in tomorrow morning.  We know we opened our own static.  It still has 12+ hours of life.  We think we opened the static in C4b.  And we might have opened the one in C3, or might not.  But in any case, there is a second highsec entry that might also last.  So, the chances are  good that a route in will exist tomorrow morning.  This might be what we are going to have to do.

Just as we are about to call it a night, I see an Iteron V on dscan.  Timmay reports it as being on grid with him, having entered the highsec wormhole.  The pilot is the same one as was flying the Crow, earlier.  I am pretty sure this is what we have been waiting for.  Obviously, the enemy are not just waiting for us.  They have been waiting for one of them to do something in highsec, most likely flying to Jita for supplies.  I expect to see them leave.  Sure enough, Tim reports they are warping.  I see them land on grid, and one by one, they exit back out into nullsec.

We don't know if they are coming back.  I tell everyone to log on their guys in the Itties at the station.  While we do that, I tell Tim to get into C4b at the C3/C4.  It is unlikely we will need him there, but we don't need him in C3 any more -- I have eyes on the enemy wormhole.  We get everyone on except Hiljah's guys; he is still AFK.  We will run without him.

We undock and fly to the wormhole.  And in.  Did we miss anyone from the null group?  A cloaky of some kind?  If they are sitting on their side of their null wormhole, and they have cloaked eyes in here, they can get a dictor in and to the C3/C4 wormhole before we get there.  Then they can bubble the other side.

Apparently not.  We warp without incident.  To C4b, then C4a, and our tower.  Whew.  There is more to transport, and though we might send it back, we'd all prefer to get it in and done with.  So we do two more runs before calling it a night.  All of this goes the way it normally does: smoothly, us not seeing a soul.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Home Sold

After we ran sites last night, about 11:00 PM, I got a message from a prospective buyer I had for our system.  He was online and ready to go.  I had scanned out before: lowsec.  Not too bad.  So, we arranged the deal, and instead of using Taggart he decided to trust me.  Boom, I got 1.05b ISK in cash and a contracted tower to swap for the tower I was selling.  This would have been the time for a more evil person to laugh and scam them.  But that's not my MO.  The negotiation was pretty fast, about a half hour.  So then the work started.

I got them in; we all sheltered in the small POS I had put up a few days ago, after I realized I was paying way too much to keep the system looking lived-in.  They did not have an industrial, so I had to lend them my Itty V.  They got the large POS anchored.  That takes 30 min, so I occupied myself tossing out all the POS parts I was selling to them into jetcans.  Once I emptied the storage (a component assembly array), I offlined and unanchored it too.

Then I lent the Itty again, and they carried over POS fuel I gave them, and onlined the tower.  Hurrah.  Now another 30 minutes of wait.  During this time I flew my Buzzard out to highsec (6 jumps), and podded back.  Then they had one more guy to get in, so I flew out into lowsec in a shuttle.  Fortunately, C3a was asleep.

Once the tower got online, I ferried over the storage, and again lent them the Itty so they could launch it and a ship maintenance array.  Once they got these online, which took much longer than it needed to, I ferried over all the POS parts.  About 10 loads altogether; a large dickstar has a lot of parts, and most of them are 4000m^3.  I jetcanned each load, and they placed it in their storage.  This took time because you can only jetcan every so often -- three minutes, I think.

Once all the parts and fuel were transferred, I took down the small POS.  Again, a 15 minute wait while it unanchored.  Then I grabbed the few things that I had not sold (they all fit in the Itty), and left.

When I placed my home POS there seven months ago, I put it at a gas giant that is fairly centrally located.  I put it there because from that planet you can dscan all the planets except one outer planet which is 26 AU out from the rest of the system.  As it happened, the moon I placed it in has a spectacular view of the gas giant, including a lovely ring.  I recall several times doing stuff at my POS when suddenly I would notice the view and think "Oooh, pretty".

It was 2:30 AM by now, and I was more than ready to stop playing EVE and go to bed.  But before I left, I decided to get a snapshot of the planet, to remember some great times we had in this system.  This turned out to be harder than I thought.  I had already deleted the bookmark to the old tower.  I had thought that just any moon would do for an image, but I had to hunt around a bit.

Goodbye, old home.

I snapped the shot above, then went out through lowsec carrying 200m in a helpless Itty V.  Fortunately EVE is pretty dead at that hour, and I saw nobody.  I got to the station in highsec where I had stashed my Buzzard, and quit.

Sleep did not come easily.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An Old Ghost Site

My corp moved to a new wspace system, a C4 with C4 static.  The reason for this is so that we can have lots of C4 sites to run and make lots of ISK.  We have been bi-located in wspace for a while, because we have left some characters in our old system, as we tried to sell it.  But we have liberated several of them via insurance fraud.  Tonight we run some sites in C4b.

We are a New World timezone group.  I've had several applications from people in Europe or Asia, and although they seemed like dedicated players and generally looked great, I want them to be able to play with everyone else.  Be on coms, swap small talk, work together in fleets.  So I regretfully declined those applications.  Anyway, all of that is to point out that we are playing at about 9:00PM, Eastern time.  This is 15 hours past downtime.
One of these sites is not like the others

First we seal off our home system, using the novel method of running our battleship fleet through the wormhole until it dies.  Then we start running sites.  We have staked out the static wormhole in C4b with a listening alt.

As we tear into the third Frontier Barracks, I notice something: there is a ghost site in this system!  Not only that, but its tag -- CEF -- is right towards the end of the sequence formed by the other sites.  This means that it was here at downtime, 15 hours ago.  It may have been here for over a day. 

After we get done killing Sleepers, the guys form up a few T3s to run the ghost site.  (I can't join because my main, Von, is busy selling our old system.  Nosey (my ghostbusting Tengu) does get used, though.)  Unfortunately, the guys get pretty much nothing.  Win some, lose some.  This is the second ghost site we have seen in wspace.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Insurance Fraud

My corp recently moved out of our old wspace system, a C4/C3.  We've been trying to sell it, including 6 POCOs and 3 Chimeras, for a week.   The price was a modest 3b ISK.

We bought the Chimeras from a group of Russians that had built them there, and gotten evicted, months *(years?) before we moved in.  They kept their pilots/carriers in the system, and I suppose may have occasionally run sites when the hostile owners were not around.  (When I discovered the Russians, I sensibly made peace with the them and set them blue.  They rarely used the carriers and eventually contacted me to sell them.)
This sucks

It is quite debatable what a Chimera is worth in C4 wspace, because it is system-locked.  You cannot get it out, so its price on the low end for many people is zero; it is useless because they cannot fly it.  On the high end, you could argue that given the fuss in getting minerals into wspace it is actually worth somewhat more than whatever they sell for in kspace.  Given that POCOs are about 100m each, and the system is worth perhaps 400m, I was selling them for ~700m each.

When I first posted my ad on wormholesales, I got three queries.  (All in-game.  Hmm.)  None of them panned out; all asked about the carrier type (my ad was not specific).  Meanwhile, we are paying for fuel for a large POS, and (worse) keeping three characters including two carrier pilots in the system.  The cost of holding the asset is high.

Jester recently had a post where he mentioned a system-locked Brave Newbie carrier that they had killed for the insurance.  One of his commenters pointed out that they did not actually have to kill the carrier; they could have suicided it and still gotten insurance.  As soon as I read that, I knew what to do.

I went to wormholesales and spiked my ad, replacing it with an ad selling only the system + POCOs, for 700m.  (Rock-bottom, but I want out.)  I bought a small tower to put up to keep our claim on the system while reducing fuel costs.  Jayne scanned out.  Lucky, we got a highsec.  And we also got a highsec access out of our new system.  So we had several characters helping move out the final loads of stuff.  The volume was large due to stripping the carriers.   Each of them had about a half-billion in parts on it.

Then, while I took down the POS, Jayne tested out suicide on a shuttle.  Sure enough, insurance paid.  You only -- "only" -- get the base 40%.  But that's not bad for a carrier, about 300m ISK.  So Jayne blew up our carriers.

Ironically, just after we blew up the first one, a group contacted me in-game about buying the system.  I told Jayne to hold on those next two -- but the group has no carrier pilots, so we proceeded.  All three carriers, wonderful relics of the time before capital rigs, reduced to wrecks.  (We salvaged, but they don't salvage anything really worthwhile, just T1.)

Insurance in EVE is stupid.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It's New Year's Day.  I have been online half the day, doing stuff in EVE.  Our C4 connects to C4b which connected for a while to C2b, with static highsec.  I used that earlier to bring in an Orca load of parts, fuel, and PI goods.  C4b also connects to a C5, which I scanned down earlier, finding a Vital Core Reservoir.  These sites have a small amount of C320 and a large amount of C540, both of which are quite valuable.  The corp got together in the evening, trooped over in Ventures, and mined until the sleepers showed up.  Then we scurried off like roaches.  Nobody was particularly in the mood to run sites in our system, and I had seen pilots in C2a, so running sites in C4a seemed risky.  We decided to call it a night for the corp.  But not me.  I'm still here.

I get my Manticore and head out for a look around.  Earlier I saw a Dominix with Bouncers out in C2a, as well as an idle Tengu and a Buzzard both in a POS.  It is a small system, among the smallest I have seen.  So I knew there were no wrecks hiding.  Eventually the Domi disappeared, so I figured it might have entered a wormhole.  Since I had not probed it out, I couldn't do anything, at least not without revealing my presence with probes.  I have more time here, and figure to scan it out if there is nothing I can get out.  Then maybe I will lie low a while and they might think I am gone and make a mistake.

I enter C4a.  Nothing on scan.  So on to C2a.  I cross the wormhole and dscan, and I see what every wspace hunter wants to see: sleeper wrecks.  There is a Tengu on scan, and no other ships, and that is it.  Quickly I burn off the wormhole and cloak, hoping the Tengu is too busy to see. This appears to be the case, as a new wreck appears.

Now I am tempted to bookmark all anoms, but there are quite many.  I may not have time.  So I use the dscan with angles, first 180 in the general direction of the sun.  He's in that half.  Then 90 at a clump of sites in the inner system (he is still there), and 60 (not there).  So I know he's in one of the more "fringe" sites as I face the inner system, which rules out about 20 of them.  I scan across 4 of them until I find him in the 5th.  Immediately I warp to it 100.
Hide and seek
I am just in time.  I land on grid to see the Tengu, 110km off, and no live sleepers.  (Anoms cease appearing on other people's scanners when you kill most of the rats in their last wave.)  He's got a tractor unit out which is slowly gathering up all the wrecks.  He appears to be orbiting it.  Obviously all the wrecks will end up next to it, so I bookmark it for later use.  I turn the other way and head out towards a perch.  The wrecks are gathered slowly.  I get to 160km before the last one arrives, so I sit and wait.

Right now I am not sure what I will do.  I certainly do not fancy attacking a Tengu in a bomber.  It is possible (though unlikely) that the Tengu has salvagers itself; but since none of the wrecks have disappeared, that seems unlikely.  He may not be salvaging at all, in which case maybe I can sneak in later and ninja-salvage these wrecks.  I want to see his SOP before I can decide what to do next.

The last wreck is gathered and looted by the tractor.  Then he grabs the tractor, which pops free a jetcan.  And then he warps off.  What?  He did not loot the jetcan!  Or at least, he does not completely loot it.  But why would he not?  I can't fathom why he did that.  But this is an opportunity.  I can warp in and grab his hard-won loot, easy as pi.  My fingers twitch.  But... no.  I want a kill, not some modestly valuable C2 blue loot.

I wait, and watch on dscan.  I am hoping for a Noctis.  The Tengu is around for a while, then it is gone and a Cormorant appears.  Well, not a Noctis but a classic salvager.  I know with near certainty that I will get a gank.  This guy has got to be alone.  Only someone alone ignores his opsec and runs anoms with open wormholes; only someone alone has to switch ships to salvage.  A salvage destroyer is very killable for me.
Salvage those wrecks for me, won't you?

Not much
A bit more waiting, and the Cormorant warps into the site, and goes to work with salvage beams.   I warp to my bookmark at 10km, and have the strange experience of sitting just 10km from my prey watching for a moment.  He gets it down to three wrecks, and I move.  I have to get within 8750m for my scrambler.  He finishes a wreck and is on the last two.  I am concerned he is aligned for a second, but that's not so.  At 8000m, he finishes a wreck.  I uncloak, get my sebo going, initiate locking, and activate scrambler, painter, and torps.  The lock completes and I open fire.  He is caught.  I approach and bump him, just to be sure he cannot warp.  After three rounds, he is on a tiny shred of structure.  Four, and he blows up.

The pod is out, and probably due to my sebo, I lock it.  (I've revised my fit since last time because I got stupidly blown up.)  I get my scrambler going as the lock attempt proceeds, and it completes, locking him down.  Two rounds of fire and I claim another podkill.

As I move in to loot the wreck and scoop the corpse, I notice my shields are down about 30%.  He was actually shooting at me!  Well, kudos to you my friend.  All in all, pretty poor loot, but then loot is not why one ganks.  It's the thrill of the hunt.

Happy New Year!  For me, at least.