Thursday, March 8, 2012

TiDi, Exploration, and Wormhole Mischief

TiDi is amazing. I've only recently become involved in large null-sec battles, so I've never experienced the pre-TiDi days of 5 minute module lag or getting blown up while you're still waiting to load grid. I had my first experience in a large fleet just the other day in C-J6MT. I don't have much to say about it other than apart from the extreme bullet time, everything was as responsive as normal. CCP's really nailed this one. 2000+ people in system at peak. You can read more at Eve News 24 or elsewhere.

While flying logistics for a 70-man naga fleet in part of a much larger engagement is engaging and awesome, in my opinion, it doesn't compare the heart-pounding encounters that can sometimes be had in wormhole space.

I've been spending some time on the Eve subreddit recently. There have been quite a bit of discussion about high-sec exploration and some encouraging results. I figured I'd spend some time trying it out again and see what I could come up with.

I clone-jumped out of null-sec and headed to Amarr to fit out a Muninn heavy assault ship. I find the muninn pretty self-sufficient for exploration as it's got two utility high slots which can be used for a probe launcher and salvager as well as a couple of mid slots that can be interchanged between codebreaker/analyzer/scram/web/cap recharger/tracking computer/sebo, depending on what's needed. Plotting a route around the Throne Worlds constellation, I set off probing. I was looking mostly for some quick radar, magnetometric, or combat sites that could possibly escalate into an expedition. After scanning the whole constellation and finding a lone combat site which netted a lone true sansha radio crystal, I began to be a bit discouraged.

A couple systems over in Penirgman, I decided to jump belts while probing, and maybe I'd get lucky and find a faction spawn in the belt. I found no rats, but I did stumble upon something I'd never seen before. (It wasn't until later that I realized I was in a .9 system, and there are no rats. d'oh.) In one of the belts was a 26-day-old character mining in a retriever with two harvester drones deployed. I did a quick market check. Those drones are selling for 110 mil each with buy orders at 60 mil!

I quickly began to scour my brain for ways that I could claim those drones for myself. As I sat next to the retriever, the pilot popped a jet can full of ore, which I quickly flipped into a can of my own. Perhaps he'd see the red ship next to him, get scared, and warp off, leaving his drones. But clearly that's too much to hope for. I started to bump the retriever away from the asteroid, hoping to push him out of strip miner range, goading him into some sort of rash action that I could hopefully take advantage of. Then it came to me: the ever-present suicide gank!

It's not really my style, but if I could pull it off, it'd be worth it. A retriever shouldn't be that hard to kill, right? Wrong. I crunched my numbers, looked it all up on pyfa, and figured with a thrasher, I should be able to explode a measly retriever in one volley. I even took a passive targeter and ship scanner to make sure he didn't have any tank fit on it before I shot. Ship stopped, guns overheated, one volley off, and he started bleeding structure. One more volley. Come on! But a split second before my guns cycled, Concord intervened. The retriever pilot started moving, pulled his drones, then stopped and started mining again. Not quite sure what had gone on, I suppose. With only a small sec hit and a wound to my pride, I decided to leave rather than to pursue the endeavor further.

I had ignored 7 wormholes while scanning earlier, including a class 1 and two class 3 wormholes connected to Amarr. I decided to go back in a slightly more powerful ship, a sleipnir, and visit them, starting with the C1. The eve-kill board for J130322 listed a covetor and two drakes killed a few hours earlier. So I was a bit wary. But the attackers seemed like a ragtag group not from any particular corporation or alliance. So they were most likely not the residents here. Wormhole space is always dangerous, and it's hard to be too careful.

Only one drake appeared on scan at a pos, probably offline. I dropped probes as I sat on the entrance from high-sec and started scanning. I resolved a cluster of anomolies as well as some radar sites and a couple grav sites and a non-static C2 connection. Seeing as things were quiet, I decided to shoot up some sleepers. When I first ran C1 wormhole sites in a T1-fit myrmidon, it would take me nearly 20 minutes to finish an anomoly. Over a year later, in a much more well-fit and well-skilled sleipnir, I was burning through sites in 5-6 minutes.

I had finished 4 anomolies and one of three radar sites when I noticed activity pick up on scan. A bunch of haulers moving about, mostly. I could have chased them down, but I wasn't sure they even noticed me, and I didn't want to risk not being able to return and salvage in relative peace. I warped back to the exit and landed on top of a purifier class stealth bomber sitting directly on top of the wormhole to high-sec, unable to cloak. In the 9 or 10 seconds it took me to target him, he could have easily warped off or jumped to safety. But not paying attention or freezing for even a few seconds can get you killed.

When I returned in a catalyst to salvage (a noctis is too expensive and clumsy to salvage under hostiles), I noticed someone had reshipped to a legion at the pos. But no combat probes appeared, and no movement happened on scan. 10 minutes later and 73 mil richer back in high-sec, I decided to return and milk the system's resources a bit more. I noticed a drake pilot sitting at the pos and opened a convo with him. He was from the same corp as the bomber pilot I had killed, but from his friendly tone, he seemed completely ignorant of what I had just been doing for the last hour or so.

I faked not knowing my way out of the system in an attempt to bait his drake out to kill it. He was wise and came in a shuttle instead. Unable to lure him out of the safety of his pos bubble to 'come run some sites with me' in the C2 system next door, I saw his shuttle a bit later and popped it, blowing my cover. It was time to call it a night anyway.

Ah, wormholes, how I have missed thee.

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