Monday, February 20, 2012

The Loot Gods Have Spoken

This is certanily the best kill I've had so far while playing Eve. I'll start out with the killmail.

At the time of writing, that dramiel fitting is listed on eve-kill at 722 mil.

I've never flown an enyo before. With the combination of the hybrid gun boost, assault frig boost, and my own training to focus a bit more on hybrid gunnery skills, I thought I'd give the enyo a try.

Decent speed with a mwd, 4 blasters for nearly 400 DPS when overheated, and enough tackle to keep my target in blaster range made it a promising proposition. (I lost the enyo a while later in the same belt where it got this kill.)

Fitted out in Dodixie, I planned to take it through the low-sec pipe leading to Amarr. Egghelende was clear. Odd. Siseide was clear as well. Even more odd. The next 12 or so side systems I visted were all empty except for the occasional rookie ship or shuttle hopping gates or the haulers parked at a pos cluttering up dscan.

I would have got discouraged at that point, but I've had enough experience hunting to know that patience pays off. As I neared Amamake, I thought of its reputation. If Sivala is freighter gank central and Rancer is the home of the smartbombing battleship, Amamake is the mystical homeland of frigate combat. (I may do some killboard datamining for a future article to get some hard evidence on trends in different low-sec systems.)

Sure enough, as I warp to the top belt at 0 (stupid, I know, but being dangerous can be fun!), there's a dramiel sitting ~75km off with a couple player wrecks littering the field between us. Undaunted by the scene of carnage, I charged toward the dramiel at top speed. At 40km out, the dramiel starts to move. I lock up my target, overheat everything, deploy my drone, and engage. Intertia carried me past him quite a bit, but thanks to the extra range on my overheated tackle, I was able to hold on. The dram pops three warrior IIs and starts engaging. With two volleys, my shields are down, but my void charges are chewing through his own shields at quite a clip.

Even webbed and scrammed, my prey was still orbiting me closely over 500 m/s. I struggled to keep within optimal range and tracking, noticing some of my volleys were merely glancing blows. I let my guns continue to cycle, and as I concentrated on flying, his shields buckled. I still had a small chunk of armor left as well as the structure tank that gallente ships are notorious for. The dram realized that he wasn't going to win this fight and started to try and pull range. But it was too late, and by fleeing, he gave me the few clear shots I needed to finish him off.

I could have popped his pod, as it took him a few seconds to warp off. Shocked, probably. And looking at the killmail later, it probably would have been a juicy podmail as well. A crystal set, possibly, to go along with the deadspace shield booster and blue pill booster? I scooped the wreck and docked up to repair my armor, review the kill, and wait out the GCC. I was pretty happy with the republic fleet shield extender I spied in my cargo. But when I looked at the killmail and saw. what. didn't. drop, I almost cried.

I felt like I won, and I also felt like I lost at the same time. But looking back at some of my first experiences in low-sec, losing myrmidons and dominixes all over the place, I've definitely come quite a way since then.

Killing someone in a fair fight who's ranked #172 on battleclinic can be pretty validating.

The Ishkur That Wouldn't Die

A few months ago, I was in sort of a slump. The members of the small corporation I had been leading in wormhole space [MFGM] for the last few months had gone inactive. I took down our wormhole operation and left our C2. (Sorry Quintus. If you ever log back in, I hope you have a probe launcher).

I found myself without a real home. Wormhole space, with it's random connections to empire space, had left me with ships and other assets scattered around various systems all over the place. Chasing incursions (before they turned into the farming-fest they are today) had further compounded that problem. I was at home everywhere I went. I joined quite a few public channels and made friends in many different circles. Running incursions with one group one day. Following an expedition chain in low-sec the next. And using bombers to pester wormhole dwellers the day after that. But most of the time I flew solo.

By far the most fun I had was during a week and a half that I haunted Decon and it's neighboring system, Sharuveil. The two systems form a low-sec pocket just a few jumps from Dodixie. I fit out my recon of choice, a cov-ops cloaky, 650mm arty, combat proby, nanoed mwd speedy, web scrammy Rapier. Even with 5 hobgoblin IIs and 2 650mm arties firing faction ammo, I barely manage to put out 130 dps. So I had to limit myself to scanning down frigs, interceptors, and the like. Decon is a great system for that. Lots of pilots wander in, not realizing the danger that can lurk in a .4 system. Sharuveil is a monster of a system, with no station and 7 combat probes barely able to cover the whole system.

I chose the rapier for its ability to disengage at will. If things go south, I can simply web my opponent, burn out of point range, and warp off. I nabbed a few T1 frigates, noob ships, and even a dramiel who was unlucky (stupid) enough to log off at a deep safe while he still had agression. Combat probes picked his ship up and hobgoblins made short work of it. I even attempted to take on a new player in a vexor. He made a pitiful attempt to fend me off, and I was slowly working through his armor when a rifter came and started to burn toward me. The rifter was the larger threat, and not being able to keep tackle on both, I was forced to kill the rifter while the vexor got away.

After a while, I moved out to try something new. And now, looking back on the success I had had with the Rapier, I decided to take it out again. I quickly scanned down a velator at a safe and popped him. Yes, very sporting, I know...

Anyway, after scanning down another velator mining in a belt (what's with these guys?), I locked him up and scrammed him. I really didn't want the sec hit for a ship kill on a velator, so I was hoping he'd try to fire back. I opened a convo to try to prod him in that direction. While distracted by my not-so-tasty morsel of a rookie ship, an ishkur that had been popping on and off dscan (docking?) for the last few minutes suddenly showed up 10km off of me as a big red entry on my overview. Ah! Finally a worthy target!

Target lock engaged, orbit set to 21km, drones deployed, scrammed, webbed, webbed again, guns engaged, microwarpdrive acti-- no? Scrammed! Luckily a rapier is faster than a dual-webbed ishkur. I was able to get out of scram range, cycle my mwd to pull some range, and watch as my meager dps started stripping the ishkur's shields. Slowly, ever so slowly... My drones! One hobgoblin II goes pop. I swap over to an overview tab with drones enabled to target his up. It's then that I realize I don't have a chance to take this ishkur down with my drones without getting them blown up. While I can't engage them, he can't engage me without risking his drones. We're at a standstill.

I've taken him down a bit into armor by this point. Not seeing any reps active, I figure I can whittle him down with my two 650mm artillery cannons. Except that I'm missing now. His shields were actually recharging! Even at a 20km range, this would take some manual piloting to reduce transversal. The ishkur has a small signature radius to begin with, and the pilot later told me that he was using an x-instinct booster to further reduce his signature.

I do a quick check on dscan and see a new tengu out in space with a name similar to that of the ishkur. Do I stay and try to work on the ship or do I get out before that tengu can tackle me? I reduce dscan to a smaller radius around the asteroid belt and initiate a rapid scan, which will give me enough warning should the tengu or another hostile ship be warping in. But after a few minutes of unsuccessfully shooting the ishkur, whose shields had nearly fully recharged, I decide to withdraw.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Empty Handed Ninja

I logged to find a mostly empty corp channel, a quite teamspeak server, and no fleets up. Seeing as I've only got a hound, thrasher, and unfitted cheetah in Geminate so far, I decided to clone jump out to high-sec to try and get some solo action while nothing else was going on.

I haven't hardly been in high-sec at all for the last couple months. Pretty soon the nerves I get from seeing the plethora of neutrals I in local every time I jump system dies down. I decide to try my luck at one of my favorite high-sec professions: The Mission Ninja.

I don't have the best setup for it. I perused my ship hangar in Dodixie. I came across 8 identical probes fit for just this purpose. Each was named appropriately, "Stealin' your loot." I decided to take a little less agressive posture and renamed the ship to "Cleanup Crew." Armed with combat probes, a salvager, mwd, and ship scanner, I headed out to make space a safer place. Just because nobody has crashed into a wreck from a mission mid-warp doesn't mean that it can't happen!

I may detail my methods in a later post. There are a few different tactics I've used, trying to figure out what gives me the best results. For the time being, I contented myself to just scanning out missioners in Dodixie. It would save time on ship swapping. (Yes, I swap in station. No orca. Still.) In about half an hour, I peg down and warp to about 10 missions. Some have multiple ships. I was targeted quite a few times, but never shot at.

A duo consisting of a mostly T1 fit armageddon and maelstrom both targeted me up. One convod me up and warned me against taking their wrecks. This was a golden opportunity! They'd agress for sure! Except there were no wrecks. No cans. Nothing. I glanced down at an NPC message in local and realized this was the third of the recon missions. No rats. Just a giant exploding gas cloud that had run its course. We sat there for a few minutes, both of them locking me, before they warped. Only then did I think to drop a can of my own and try to taunt them into taking it. I had to be content with noting their sig ids to probe them out later.

After few minutes of unsuccessful baiting and getting my probe blown up by NPCs (there's a reason I fit out 8), I start to look for those two pilots again. Not seeing them in local, I find one has logged off. I run a locator agent on the other, thinking he's got to be nearby doing another mission. Turns out he was in Jita. Too bad.

My cane and tempest (and possibly sleipnir, if I want to risk it), are itching to blow up some hapless mission runners. If I'm going to be serious about it, I'll need to find some better systems to ninja in. Dodixie's just too busy.

Deployment

My corp joined up with Nulli Secunda's [S2N] trial alliance, Nulli Tertius [T2N], a while back. After a few failed attempts with some disorganized alliances, I've been wanting to dive into the whole null-sec big alliance thing for a while. And granted, S2N isn't the biggest fish around, but it's a sizable enough, sov-holding entity to have a measurable effect on the scene.

We've recently deployed in Geminate. Eve News 24 recently had an article with the details. Despite the article's title -- Take the tech -- I get more of an impression that our main objective is to get some fights in. Taking moons is good and all. But having no real need to succeed, we don't lose anything if we fail, and we hopefully get a good fight out of it. An opportunistic attitude seems to prevail among the alliance these days.

I wasn't able to log in very much during the few days of deployment. So I missed being able to put my stuff on the carrier train. I suppose I could have just asked one of the carrier pilots in my corp to help me out. But I instead settled on the plan of finding a good route through wormhole space. As we weren't planning on being back in our home systems in Period Basis and Delve for a while, I figured it'd be good to sell off or haul out most of my assets there myself.

After 3 days(!) of scanning the few friendly constellations, I finally found a wormhole which provided a direct connection to a system in Providence. A few months ago, I did some solo hunting in the section of Amarr low-sec that's watched over by CVA. Not knowing at the time about the NRDS policy and shared standings list that most of the locals live by, I quickly got myself put on their red list. Great, everyone in Provi is out to get me now.

But the 4j to high-sec route was still a lot more tempting than the 30+j null-sec route direct from Period Basis. I commenced hauling some ships out. I took a few cloaky ships, bombers and a cov ops, out first to scout the route. Hauling through hostile territory without a dedicated scout can be quite dangerous. But I've flown on my own long enough to know how to be cautious. Just my luck, two different camps form up after my second ship run. (Note to self: train for an orca to move ships.) I let a sentinel and vagabond pilot chase my shuttle through a few systems each time I headed back. The sentinel got a lock on me once, but apparently didn't have his disruptor pre-cycled. His loss.

But like most gate camps, these two had a very short lifespan. I finished hauling out the ships I wanted to take as well as a few hundred mil worth of ratting loot to sell. Red Frog Freight took everything from Esa to Jita for a reasonable 8.5 mil.

After a quick detour through Amarr to hunt down and bait some mission runners (Nabbed this guy. Twice. carebears: gotta love 'em), I finally make my way to Geminate!

A black ops fleet (curiosly without an actual black ops ship - isn't that called a bomber fleet?) and a frigate/desy roam later, I got. in. on. quite. a few. good. kills. Wow, that was a lot of fun! I really enjoy flying small, nimble ships. We ran into a BC/T3 gang of 6 or so with our fleet of 8 frigs/desys. They were a bit disorganized and we were able to spread them apart, then pick them off one by one. A friendly gang with a couple cruisers joined the fight mid way through. There was pure chaos for a few minutes which consisted of following primary calls, watching range. speed. and local, calling points and webs, and just blowing stuff up. After the dust settled, we hadn't lost a single ship.

Hopefully there will be quite a bit more roaming goodness in the next few weeks we're up in Geminate. Occasional good fights like that always keep me coming back for more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[Insert Catchy Title Here]

The last few days I've been keeping myself from going insane from boredom or frustration at work by reading various Eve blogs. Here are a few of my favorites (among many others):

  • Aiden Mourn's Finders & Keepers along with the ninja blog pack keep me entertained with stories of social engineering and a dash of RP on the side.
  • Kirith Kodachi's Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah has some great reference material and a variety of opinion peices, stories, and contests. He also runs an great, easy-to-digest podcast.
  • Penny Ibramovic's Tiger Ears never ceases to amaze me with painstakingly detailed stories of wormhole exploits.
  • Wensley's Rifter Drifter provides in-depth analysis on low-sec and solo combat mechanics as well as riveting stories of a master pilot.

I got this blog set up a while back to have somewhere I can share my experiences, observations, and opinions about Eve with the rest of the world (or the two or three random people who happen to stumble upon it). Let's face it, there are times that it's more fun to read about people's stories about Eve than it is to actually play it.

I've finally struck up the desire and, more importantly, planned the time necessary to post regularly a few times each week. Stay tuned.