Sunday, December 29, 2013

Windfall

I was out late last night.  Drinking and eating.  This morning I am sleeping in.  It's past 9:30, and I get a text.  A text?  Who would that be but Jayne?  I sit up, grab the phone, and check.  Yup.  "Woohoo!!  Payday!!"  Well.  That sounds good.  And some earlier texts about a tower.  Something must be up in wspace. 

I move across the hall into my office, and log in.  Strangely, Jayne is not on.  Nobody is.  I get a message: "Emptied out a SMA and corp hangar, check C4b.  There is a Claymore there I can't fly".  I can't fly it either.  I am already in my Manticore, so off I go to our static wormhole.  I cross, and dscan, and immediately see the situation: a tower but no force field, a Claymore, and an SMA wreck.  Jayne has come and gone leaving little of value.

There is a "tower perch" bookmark, so I warp there.  The tower is half-caged with bubbles, but they are owned by the same corp.  Evidently the bubbles are there to make hunters work a little harder.  From the perch I warp to a jetcan near the tower.  There are two jetcans that might have loot, and also two large anchorable containers.  The jetcans have cap boosters in them, not really worth worrying about.  One of the anchorables is their bookmarks transfer point, but the other might have something.  I start shooting it with torps.  After a restock, I kill it.  Nothing at all -- no killmail, no drop.  Oh well.  (Do anchorable cans drop loot?  I don't know.)

The Claymore is just sitting there empty.  I wants it, precious!  I email a corp member to see if he can fly them.  Then I do other stuff for a while.  Breakfast.  Market ops on my Jita alt.  And I get on coms with Jayne, learning the backstory.  Which I had him write up:
It is just after downtime, and I have a little time to play EVE.  We are still supplying our new hole and want to get some more goods in.  Our system is completely closed off at this point, so I scan down and fly to our C4 static.  Upon entering the system, I look up the ID and see the system has a C3 static: good news for our exit plans!   
I start scanning the system, which looks like it will take me a while (20 sigs) and I run a d-scan.  I see a crane and a tower, I keep scanning.  I find the C3 and bookmark it.  Just at this point it occurs to me that I didn't see a force field.  I d-scan again, sure enough, Crane and a tower, but no force field!   
I log in my alt who can fly a crane and get her moving.  I scan down the tower and fly to it, only to land in a bubble. I fly my alt in and slow boat through the bubbles (55km) to the crane.  While on the way it dawns on me that there is a Ship Maintenance Array and a Corporate Hangar Array sitting there.  Score!   
I text a few guys to let them know if they are available to log on.  I immediately fly back out to grab a bomber.  I get the bomber back just about the time I enter the Crane with my alt.  I (stupidly) fly the Crane back while I start in on the Ship Maintenance Array.  I expect to have to shoot it for a while, but it only takes me 30 seconds or so.  I open up the contents to find a number of ships including a Claymore and Tengu.  Then BOOM there goes the corp hangar; it drops 7 cargo containers.   
I now need to do a lot of hauling and I can't very well slow-boat through bubbles, so I fly my bomber to 155km in a direction free of bubbles and make a perch.  I log in a different alt to get an Orca, and between 2 haulers get all of the goods and ships out, except the Claymore which none of my characters can fly.  I also didn't bother to grab the 100,000m3 of cap boosters, which total about 5M isk.  All told I grabbed about 2B worth of goods and ships, including a nice new PvP Tengu to fly. 
After an hour, no answer to my email, and I know nobody else can fly Claymores.  Oh well -- time to blow it up.  I come back and quickly kill it.  Then I loot it -- about 10m in T2 parts.  Oh well.

I reship at home, and start scanning out.  There are a lot of sigs, but in the first five I find a C2 connection to C4b.  A C2 connection to C4 typically means means a C2 with dual statics, one C4 and one highsec.  I scan down a few more sigs but the highsec connection is more important.  So I enter C2a.  Then I spend time scanning down five sigs in C2a, so that we might be able to use it later on for supplies.  One of them is the expected highsec.
Nice salvage

When I come back into C4b, I dscan  and there is the wreck on scan.  I realize a T2 large wreck could be worth a fair amount.  So I go home and get a light salvager.  I come back, and warp to the perch and then the wreck.  Something is different -- ah.  The tower is onlining.  In fact I have 2 minutes.  I guess the owners got word and finally came back to fuel it.  But nobody is here now.  I salvage quickly and, relieved, GTFO.  Nice loot.

I go home and get my bomber, and return.  I return to a force field with a Covert Ops within, onlining stuff.  (They'll have to spend two hours at least re-onlining all their modules.)  I see a Crane log in, and warp.  I guess it went to C2a and warp there, but I was wrong or it got through quickly.  It's not on scan any more; I return to the reaved POS.  Then an Orca logs and just sits there.  After a while I head to our home system to AFK for a while.  (I would do it at the POS, but the Orca suggests they may try to close their system.) 

Later, I return.  Only a handful of POS modules are online, and nobody is there.  This is one of those "I hate EVE" quits, I think.  They'll be back, but only after they've had the time to kick themselves for a while.  As Jayne writes: "Lesson to you guys...don't let your fuel run out!".  Yup.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Prowler Gets Lost

It's Sunday evening.  All weekend we have been moving in to our new system, and out of the old.  (At the old we popped a wormhole moving out ships and running in and out with transports.  This is not easily done.)

We are all tired of moving, but it is almost done.  We have our Raven fleet in the new system.  We are ready to make some money.  Our new system has built up sites to an alarming degree.  Time to trim that down. 

But first, of course, comes operational security.  We have two wormholes open: our static which has just gone EOL, but has hours to live according to when we marked it.  And a K162 coming from C5.  It is also EOL, so I don't expect it to be a problem.  In fact I am hoping it goes away soon, because I don't really want to pop it with unknown C5 denizens to deal with.  I've been sitting near it in my Buzzard, watching, for hours now.  Half an hour ago, a scout popped through and immediately left.  And according to wormhol.es, the guys on the other side are active in US time. 

The wormhole sounds again.  I expect a closure attempt.  But instead it's a Prowler.  It moves off the wormhole and cloaks.  I sit and watch for a few seconds: will it go back?  Is it trying to get out?  It does not immediately back out.  Hoping to see it, I warp to our static wormhole.  But I do not see it.  Still, I am pretty sure it must have left.  Why would it have entered our system at all?  You don't scout in a Blockade Runner.

There is a good chance it is making a quick run out for supplies of some kind, and will return as fast as possible.  In fact there is a chance it is only going to trade stuff in the nearest station to a hauler alt.  I warp to our POS and reship into my Manticore.  Then I fly back to our static, orbit at 2500, and wait. 

Jayne comes on.  We discuss the situation.  The guy obviously knew where he was going.  And that he took the chance on the upstream EOL wormhole suggests he knew its timing.  So the two wormholes being EOL is no coincidence: the C5 guys evidently scanned down our system, instantiating our wormhole.  We don't know the timing, so we cannot risk popping the K162.  But we can pop our static safely, since we know it was created later than the other.

Jayne gets the Orca and Scorpion ready.  He flies to the static, and makes the first Orca pass.  I cease my hunt and fly to the K162, to watch it.  If it expires, we want to know immediately.  I land on grid, and it is still there; but literally as I am saying "It's there" -- it vanishes.

Well.  One less thing to worry about.  It is possible our friend in the Prowler will try to come back, but we now believe that he was just flying out.  We stop our popping attempt -- our static is probably very short on life, and we really don't want anyone trapped out.  Instead of popping it, we will fall back to the second best opsec method: eyes (really more ears) on.  We'll place a cloaked scout there to watch and listen while we run sites.

Tim appears, and we divvy up the tasks.  Most of us get Ravens and load up missiles.  We set our picket on the static.  Now we dive into our tangled mass of Frontier Barracks.  We are trying out a spider tank, taking advantage of our wormhole effect.  We think it should work, and it does quite well.  With five Ravens, we tear through the sites at a good clip.

We are midway through the third Barracks, when our scout announces wormhole noise.  Uh oh.  Then: it's a Prowler.  It's the same guy.

We all laugh.  This guy is screwed.  I realize there is a chance to catch him if backs out.  So I order my Raven back to our POS.  Ever so slooowly, I turn and warp.  And ever so slooowly glide out of warp.  Now I can reship, and warp quickly to our static.  After sitting on it for a moment, I realize the only chance to get him is on the other side.  So I jump through.  This is risky -- the wormhole may expire at any moment.  But I figure the chances that the Prowler will run for it are very good.

I orbit the wormhole at 500m, get my sebo active, and wait.  (Meanwhile I am still fighting sleepers with my alt.  It's distracting.)  I dscan to make sure there are no obvious threats, and there is nothing on scan except customs offices.  This is perfect.  On coms, I determine that our picket is actually another bomber.  I tell him to orbit in close; if the Prowler comes out and I lock him, he will attempt to flee back in.

We continue to grind the sleeper site.  I am on edge, waiting.  The site is complete, and -- oops -- I am squad commander.  We individually warp to the next.  We resume grinding.

After about five minutes, I am getting nervous about being out.  Obviously the Prowler is not trying the quick dash.  I am increasingly worried about being trapped out.  So I come back in, and resume my orbit at 500m.  Our scout goes off to reship and join the bash.  We figure not to lose DPS, and there is still a chance (though less) to get the Prowler if it goes for it.

In a minute, the wormhole dies.  Well.  Back in just in the nick of time.  I warp back to our POS to reship and resume grinding sleepers.

Now we have a new potential problem: the Prowler may attempt to scan out.  If it does and we are not aware of it, we have a huge opsec hole and deserve to have a fleet drop on us.  So we move our fleet booster to within dscan range of the new wormhole's location.  He is to watch for probes there.

I'm not here
The rest of the night passes without further incident.  We do not see any probes from our unhappy guest.  We complete six Barracks and another Frontier Command Post before growing bored.  Then we go to do even more boring Interbus CO grinding.

This is so automatic if you do it in Vexors, that you're actually not playing the game.  One guy gets squad leader duties, and has to keep an eye on the discovery scanner.  If any new sig appears (and in the Odyssey era, changes are pushed to the client), the squad leader fleet-warps everyone to safety.  Everyone else can watch TV.  I am composing a blog post.  As I write, we've killed a CO and started in on the last one we need to blow up to get our PI established.

As for the Prowler?  I don't know.  He did not leave; our scout would have seen or heard.  So he must still be in the system, unless somehow we missed him leaving.  My best guess is that he logged off when he found his K162 poofed.  He will be attempting to scan out sometime in the future, probably when the system is not crawling with hostiles.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Double Play

I am waiting for a static C4->C1 wormhole to expire, so I can get its next incarnation.  There is no guarantee that a C1 system will get a connection to highsec or a close-to-highsec lowsec, but the odds are pretty good.  So, I am sitting at watching it every so often while mostly AFK.  Then the thing goes poof just as I go to warp off.  Well, that was strange, but it's good.  Now I can scan.

I deploy probes, then search down the new sig.  I am not in my normal scanning ship, but my Manticore, because earlier I had had some hopes of attacking a Raven I had seen hole-popping.  That did not happen and I stayed in the Manticore since I knew all I would be doing is sitting at a hole.  Searching takes one more iteration than normal, but since it is just one sig it goes fast.

Since I am in a bomber, I might as well optimize my time in C1a before the discovery scanner reveals my presence to everyone in there.  (This warning, pushed to everyone in the system, makes it really easy to zip up your system and play in near-perfect safety.  It is why Penny calls the discovery scanner the "dumbscovery" scanner.)  Post-Odyssey, you have a few minutes, I think, even if they are paying attention.  (I am not sure what the quantum is but I am pretty certain it is not instantaneous.)  I have not instantiated the wormhole yet by warping to it.  To minimize the amount of time between instantiating it and going through it, I warp to a nearby planet, align to the sig, then only when I am up to speed, warp.  Warp is immediately.  I land on grid and bookmark as I move to the hole.  Then I am through.

My dscan from the hole sees nothing but some customs offices.  I move off and fire probes, then throw them from the system.  There are only two sigs, and I can ignore the one I am at.  So searching will be fast again.  But on the off-chance of something interesting, I warp to a planet in the inner system.

A dscan from the inner system shows a Covetor and a Retriever, which is a bit unusual.  I look for the tower, and there is no tower.  Now I wake up.  A quick look at the map shows a single ore anom.  Without even bothering to dscan it, I warp to it 100, hoping I don't reveal myself on landing.  I would try to construct a better approach (from below or above), but the clock is ticking.

I land on grid, not near anything, which is good.  The two mining barges are right next to each other, eating rocks.  Both ships have mining drones out.  They are about 100km from me.  I need to warp over, so I check the asteroids for something at a good range.  I zoom out and check out the line to a big rock which is about 160km from me more or less in line with the barges; it looks good.  So I warp to 50 from it.  I come out of warp, and am dismayed to see that I am 50km from them.  I guess my eyeballing it was not very accurate.

I am starting to worry about the time.  For a moment I start looking at asteroids again, but then I realize they have a jetcan out.  I can use that.  I bookmark it, then warp to the nearest CO at 100.  Then I warp back to the jetcan.  (I think about warping to 10km, but I don't think there is any need for that.  Fast and furious.)

Now my heart is jacking up for real.  I slow down and land on grid, and I am right next to both barges.  One is just over 2000m from me as I leave warp.  Then it is less, and I am decloaked.  So I start locking both barges.  I get the warp scrambler, target painter, and torps active.  The lock completes and my Manticore opens fire.

One down
I start to orbit the second barge, just in case there is any interference.  Just as I do this, a Miasmos lands on grid.  I realize the second barge might try to warp.  So, figuring that the first will die before he can warp, I turn off the scrambler.  When it comes around and turns itself off, I scramble the second barge to keep it from warping.  (The Miasmos flees but I don't even see it.  "Tactical tunnel vision".)  The first barge dies on my third volley.  I try to lock the pod but it is gone in an instant.  Now I paint and open fire on the second barge.

As it crumbles I am already heading to the first wreck to loot.  I loot.  (Nothing of value.)  Now the second barge dies.  Again I try to lock the pod, cursing my lack of sensor booster.  (I have one on the fit, but it is turned off for CPU to run the probe launcher.)  This time I almost complete the lock, but the guy gets out just in time.  With a sensor booster I would have had him I think.  Oh well.

Opsec is hard
Little left to do here but loot the second wreck and get away from them.  I don't expect effective retaliation from miners with poor opsec in a C1.  But you cannot be sure so long as you are uncloaked.  I move off with afterburner on, then cloak.  I stick around in the asteroid anom for a while hoping that the locals do something stupid, but they don't.  So, I bring my probes in and scan.  Quickly the one sig is resolved.  The miners still don't do anything stupid, or anything at all that I can see.  That's enough sitting.  I fly to the sig, which must be the system's static.  Lowsec.  I traverse the wormhole.  The lowsec system is 24 jumps to Jita, and adjacent to highsec.  Three people in local.  Well, it will do.  I warp to the adjacent highsec system to bookmark a nearby station.  Then I return to C1a.  (The wrecks, jetcan, and mining drones are still on scan.)

Out of curiousity, I fly to a far outer planet with one moon, figuring the two miners have to be from there.  I am right.  However, it is more than two miners I find.  Rather a whole flock of ships, all manned but one, sitting safe in their POS. 

Later, I pass the system again to fly to Jita to get a ship.  Time passes as I autopilot part of the route, then buy drones and refit the ship.  Then more time as I fly it back.  On the way back into wspace, I dscan according to habit.  The C1a guys have salvaged the wrecks, although the jetcan is still there.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Wormhole Expires Suspiciously

It's the middle of the day, and it's the third day of our new wormhole system.  We're still grinding down dead sticks (and soon enough, Interbus COs).  So, we need drones for our grinding Vexors.  I was supposed to bring up the right drones with the Vexors, and I thought I had.  But evidently, not.  So, I need to get to highsec to buy drones.  Also there are a few other things on our list.  So it's time to scan out.

We have our static, and there is a second signature which turns out to be a wormhole.  Two C4s, C4b and C4c (our home is C4a according to convention).  I take our static, C4b.  Hiljah takes the other.   We start scanning.  My system has a C1 static, hidden among 16 sigs.  I ignore low signature ones, then go through the others, starting with those that appeared after downtime.  One of these is a C5 that I ignore for now.  Then I find a K162 to C2.  This will have a highsec, so it would be perfect, except that it is EOL.  Most of the corp won't be play for another few hours, so it is not useful.  Finally I find the static to C1, but it is also EOL.  Probably the C2 guys, whoever they are, came up here and scanned it down, soon instantiating the C1.  Both wormholes will probably expire at about the same time, which will be any time in the next four hours.  Not waiting.

Now I check out C5a.  I go in and start scanning; there are only four sigs.  All of them are wormholes.  One is the wormhole I came in.  There there is a C6 that is EOL (no thanks times two).  And I find a lowsec exit, but it is way the hell out in Aridia.  Quite a ways from anywhere.  Finally I find the static - another C5.  Well, I could go that way, but I think I will go explore the other direction.

Hiljah has scoped out the first system, finding two C4s beyond it.  So that is where I start.  I scope the first one down, but I see ships.  There is a Raven I am seeing at the entrance.  Is it popping the hole?  Yes, I think so.  I cannot do anything in my Buzzard.  But maybe I can in a stealth bomber.  So, I warp to the hole, and the Raven is there again.  I jump, and it jumps too.  The other side is clear and I burn off, then warp.  Jump to home, then over to our tower, and into my Manticore.  Then back to C4c, and across to the wormhole at 50km, to watch.  Initially I see nothing.  Then the wormhole pulses, and the Raven comes through.  I am just thinking about if I should move closer to attack it on the next pass, when the wormhole vanishes.  Oh.  I guess not.  The Raven warps off.  As I sit there, a Buzzard uncloaks, and then a Tengu and a Loki.  Now I am glad I did not attack.  I am also glad I did not get trapped on the far side; I had not realized the wormhole was so close to being killed.

These guys are not local, so they must have come from C4e, which I have no explored yet.  Now I am not going to, at least for a while.  Instead, I warp back home, then across our new system, and into C4a.  I will watch the EOL C1 hole; when it vanishes, its replacement will have good odds of a good connection.

I am AFK for a while.  I come back: it's still there.  OK, more AFK.

I come back: it's still there.  Well, let me check the C2 that is EOL.  I order the warp; as soon as I do so, the wormhole to C1 vanishes.  Wait!  Was that a coincidence?  I don't know.  But awfully suspicious.  I warp to the C2, but it has gone away. 

We have noticed before that watched wormholes never seem to pop.  Maybe there is actually code in there to prevent wormholes from expiring when there are pilots on grid.  What's your experience?  Ever been watching an EOL and seen it expire as soon as you order a warp off grid?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Ghost Site in Jita

After yesterday's failure, we try again to find a way out of our new home to bring stuff in.  And this time we succeed.  Our fleet of Orcas (four of them) zips through five wspace systems unmolested.  The wormholes were destabilized by this.  It takes us a few hours to get the tower up, and there is still work to do.  But it's there, including hangar and corporate storage space.  So we can dump our Orcas contents into them.  I fly out an empty Orca with my Jita alt, and head to Jita.  One of the wormholes in the path has gone end of life. 

I realize that there is still a battleship we want to buy, and with our entrance system just four jumps from Jita, now's the time.  So, I get into one of the rookie ships we brought in to fly out in, and exit.  While I fly to Jita I am buying parts with my alt.  I arrive, trade the parts, and put together the battleship as fast as I can.  That wormhole is not getting any younger. 

I exit Jita, and warp to Sobaseki.  As I am crossing the system, I notice that there is a Guristas ghost site. 

A ghost site in Jita!  

Immediately my curiousity is piqued.  God knows how many pilots are out in space.  I can imagine 30 of them them piling in.  Or 100.  Maybe even some ganking.  I want to see it.  So I cancel the planned jump, and when I finally gliiiiide out of warp, I immediately warp to the ghost site.  Well anyway, I immediately start warping.  Battleships are not exactly immediate in terms of moving anywhere.

As I warp across the system again, I am hoping desperately that the ghost site will hold up against the Jita hordes for me to get there.  And I land on grid and...

There is nobody there.  Not a single pilot other than me.

And me with no codebreaker.  Hmm.  I point out the existence of the ghost site in local, just for fun.  Will there be a 70 pilot gold rush?  Then I fly straight up (to get out of range of the explosions when they happen), and just sit and watch.  Will any one, any one at all, get into the site before BOOM?

A minute passes.  And... red crosses.  Guristas are on the site, and trying to shoot me.  I micro jump away, and keep watching. 
Jita sheeple heed Angry Concord Guy

Boom.  Site's gone, and that's all folks.

As I warp off, I see that there was one pilot who made it.  In a destroyer, which I don't think is very wise.  And not in time, either, but nice try anyway.  Try to be faster than my battleship.

I get back in wspace without a hitch

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Battle Passes

My corp is moving.  A week back we found a nice abandoned C4/C4 system to move into.  I planted my one-week "wormhole babysitter" alt there.  Then two days ago, he scanned out and we moved a few of our mains in.

With more time to prepare, we planned our colonization.  We have taken many ships out of our old home.  And we have bought new stuff.  So now we have a large load of stuff ready to move at Jita.  There is a whole new large tower, fuel, some of our ships from the old system, plus structure-grinding Vexors.  Altogether, it is about four Orca loads worth of stuff, plus some extra things that won't fit on Orcas.  This is our minimum kit.  Later we will bring in money-making battleships, heavy PVP ships, etc.

But all that is for the future.  For now, we are just a few us camped out in the system in our covert ops.  We don't even have a mobile depot.  So, today we have been trying to scan our way out.  I have scanned a lot of systems.  But without notable luck.

Orcas are fat targets.  We need to get a highsec access, or lowsec that is not too deep in lowsec (and/or essentially abandoned).  So, many connections to kspace will not do.  I have scanned down several long chains.  Starting at C4a (our new home), one chain goes down the static wormhole and gets to highsec -- but it is a highsec island.  With five systems of lowsec, we are not driving Orcas across.  This one goes C4a->C4b->C2a->hs (Bazadod).  I was very happy to find that C2, and so sad when I found its lack of connection.
keeping them dogies moving

During the day we find five C4s, and I activate everything in all of them.  Three of the systems had over 30 anoms each.  So, when you C4 dwellers get a couple new sites four days from now, you know who to thank. 

A second way out of our home was via a K162, from a C5.  I searched that one but it terminated at C5a.

But there was another C5 off of C4b.  I scanned that one down, and found a long chain that did finally terminate in highsec:  C4a->C4b->C5b->C5c->C3c->C2c->hs (Herila).  Herila is in Amarr space, 13 jumps from Jita.  We are go.

Now I am sitting in C2c, watching.  We have flown up the Orcas and are ready to go in Herila.  But C2c is too active.  I see people coming and going at the tower.  Combat ships, it looks like.  At one point 11 ships mass at the tower.  I have to go AFK for a half hour.  When I come back, all but three are gone.  Did they log off?  I don't know.  They are not running site here.

So what are they doing?  Hard to say.  Jayne comes back online, and traverses down the chain to C3c.  And here he sees ships on dscan: Tengus (which I have not seen), as well as shiptypes that I have.  He sits on the far side of the wormhole to C2c.  He sees ships coming and going.  Is it a fight?  Jayne reports that the wormhole has been destabilized by mass.

I am starting to get nervous.  Maybe they are running sites, but it is unlikely they will care about popping their hole.  Certainly we are not running Orcas through here until we find out what they are doing.  I warp to the wormhole at 50 to watch.

Wormhole noise.  And again.  The locals seem to be coming back through.  Some of them linger at the wormhole, in particular a battleship.  And then it is joined by two Guardians, who get their chain set up.  All three are orbiting the wormhole.  Other ships enter and immediately warp.

This looks like a fight.

Sure enough, after a few minutes, more ships enter, and suddenly drones are being deployed.  One of the new ones is an Armageddon.  I check the wormhole: oh no.  It has gone critical!  The interlopers have their own Guardians.  More ships cross the wormhole, and locals warp on grid.

Jayne can see the other side on dscan, and says nobody is there.  So I decide to go for it.  I bounce off a customs office, then warp straight to the hole.  This is a bit risky: if the "upstream" guys decide to bail and pull out through the wormhole, it will probably pop.  And I will warp right into the middle of a battle with nowhere to go.

I warp to the wormhole.  As I land on grid, drones and fire are all around me.  (Sadly, I did not snap a shot.)   But nothing untoward happens.  I am decloaked by the wormhole and immediately jump.  The other side is clear.  I burn off the wormhole and cloak.  Then I sit at 50 to see what happens.

We have guys outside, in highsec.  Only one Orca can now possibly make it through, but even one would be enough to get a modest tower set up.  So I want to see if the hole does indeed pop.  I am surprised by how long the fight goes.  After several minutes a stabber comes through, but he is from the "home team" -- he lives in C2c.   And then after another minute, an Armageddon comes through, and that transit collapses the wormhole.

Oh well, it was a slim hope.  We will have to find another way in.  Jayne heads back up to our system to explore C5a again, hoping for new connections.

I am going to do the same on the way back up the chain.  I can see the stabber out in space, and dream of having a cloaky Loki to kill him with.  But all I have is my Buzzard.  Oh well.  I scan him down anyway, and warp to 100 to watch him.  His dscan alertness is low.  I see an elite Amarr frigate wreck on dscan; this turns out to be near the wormhole back to C5.  But it is looted, and I cannot salvage it.  So not interesting.  Meanwhile I ignore all the sites that were here at downtime, and quickly scan down just a handful of newer ones.  There is a new wormhole!  But it's the static, duh, which goes to nullsec.  Oh well.  I warp to the wormhole up, wave to the wreck, and backtrack to C5c to re-examine it. 

In C5c, I also find a new wormhole -- but it is to C6.  But as I am warping around the system (it is large), I see something amazing: sleeper wrecks and sentry drones.  Wrecks mean money.  Drones in the same place means I can find them.  Are they co-located?  Dscan says: yes!  So, I deploy combat probes and scan down the drones.  I check to make sure no site is there, and nobody is on scan.  Nope.  I warp in.

making I$K fa$t
I see a lovely site: a despawned sleeper site of some kind, littered with many sleeper wrecks, and all the blue loot is intact.  Whoa.  Could it be a trap?  But then I remember the fight.  I check the tags: yes, the wrecks match the ID of the upstream corp.  Now I have an idea of why they might be here: either the corp was jumped while running sites, or maybe they noticed and dropped everything.  Either way, they abandoned a site that they had cleared but not yet salvaged.  And now, here I am.  They might or might not be coming back, but I expect not, because all of them except one were caught on the wrong side of the wormhole.  So maybe they escaped to highsec, or maybe they got podded.  But either way, they are going to be busy getting back in.

I am going to for it.  First I fly to the Bouncers, and grab them all.  Now the only way to get here is to scan down me, or to have a bookmark.  Next I microwarp to all of the large wrecks, looting them for 15m in blue loot each.  There are six.  Now I eye the frigate and cruiser wrecks and start feeling greedy.

Greedy I am, but also fearful. With 90m on board my tissue-paper ship, plus 5m more in tech II drones, I am feeling exposed.  So I warp offsite, create a safespot, and dump all the loot there.  My mates can get it there if I get killed.

Now back into the site, and I loot it all.  Nobody interferes.  Whew.  I grab my loot and head back upstream.  194m in loot and drones. 

Several more systems searched by both Jayne and me yield nothing.  I search a new long chain off C5a, which peters out yet again.  Sign.  Looks like we must wait another day. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Steal from a Siphon

I've been out ghostbusting a lot recently.  When I do, I don't always dscan systems I enter.  But sometimes I do.  I almost always do a dscan in the system our wormhole comes down in, as well as searching it down.  Partly that is because I am in my exploration Buzzard.  Partly it is because I like doing small amounts of exploration, even though I have been doing more ghostbusting.

slurp
The other day I found the first siphon I have seen.  This was in Mafra, in Amarr lowsec.  There was nobody in local, so I knew I could check it out safely.  Still, there might be POS guns.  So I cautiously flew to thing at 10 km, just in case.  In fast the POS had no guns at all, just a bunch of hardeners.  So I gleefully grabbed a full Buzzard-load of moo goo.  (This did not get all of it.)  Then I headed back in to wspace.

Returning in my ghostbusting Tengu, I grabbed the rest of what the thing had stolen.  Then I went on my way, said Hi to Sugar, and eventually out into null for serious ghostbusting.  Eventually it was getting late and I returned.  There were people in system, but I threw caution to the winds and warped straight to the siphon.  One of them was there -- in a rookie ship.  I uncloaked and started locking, but this was not fast enough.  He warped.  Then I stole one more small portion of moon goo and headed back into wspace.

That's my complete story of interacting with siphons.  I have looked on many dscans in nullsec and never seen one.  As well as many other scans in lowsec.  Since I cannot stick to any given bit of kspace for long, I cannot really deploy them effectively myself.  But I can see what others are doing.  And on that count, I have to say that much of the debate before Rubicon on them seems to have missed the point.  They are not economical in most situations.  And people just don't want to grief when it does not cause tangible grief.  So they are not being used much.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Drive-by in Molden Heath

Our wormhole came down in Mimiror, in Molden Heath today.  To be specific, actually it is someone else's wspace system that links to Molden Heath.  Our system links to theirs.  But we routinely refer to the kspace place where our C3a links to as "where our wormhole came down".  And yeah, it's Molden Heath this time.

There are sigs in the system, so I search them down.  Two crappy gas sites, but one combat gas site.  With the semi-voluntary help of one Renee Sanguine, I run it.  I get a few modest valued skillbooks for my trouble.  Since I am in my ghostbusting ship, and Molden Heath is not a faction warfare zone, I figure I will take a run around Molden Heath and see if there are any ghost sites.  (Faction warfare zones are always full of people, so I avoid them.)

I slobber on Sugar
It turns out Molden Heath is rather well populated.  So, I don't find a single site.  As I am working around the ring, I notice that I am going to go through Bosena.  This is where Sugar Kyle has her Cougar store.  (What the "cougar" is about, I don't know.  That's what she calls it.)  So I wonder if I might see her in space.  She's American.  I think.  Actually I have no idea other than that she went to EVE Vegas.  I think.  Which seems rather American.  If she is American, she might be on playing at about the same time as me.

Anyway, she's not in Bosena.  But then, as I am headed through Half, I see her!

There's no ghost site here, so I am just warping across the system.  I can't hold a conversation.  And she doesn't know me from Adam anyway.  But I spew some fanboi praise in local, then jump onward.  She sends me mail: ":)". On the way back (it's a cul-de-sac), I see her pirate-red self in a Jaguar!

Someday I will see The Mittani in local.

After getting stiffed in lowsec, I head out into Etherium Reach for more ghostbusting.  I find 5 sites out there, including a system with two ghost sites in it.
Nobody lives here, obviously
These null ghost sites are hard; not much time.  I do score a few nice things though.  I have yet to see one in wspace, by the way.  My average in null is perhaps one per 20 systems.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Fundaments of EVE's Design

I was thinking about doing a post about RMT in EVE.  But I realized that to really analyze it requires an understanding of the game's design.  You have to understand why the game is so compelling to discuss how to improve it -- or not.

Why is EVE so compelling?  On the surface, one can point to things like internet spaceships -- duh! -- and the glorious vistas one can see. (Check out Into the Ether, link found on the right, to see some nice pictures.  Reading that blog helps me to recall some of the wonder I had when I was newer, and that I still have from time to time when I step back from the spreadsheet and actually look at things.)

But the visuals are not the heart of the game.  We all know this because we spend most of our play time zoomed out, barely seeing anything more than some boxes and crosses in the midst of the spreadsheets.  And ditto for the spaceships.  No doubt their appearance adds a lot to the game, but many other games have had pretty spaceships.

One thing EVE gets right is production.  I love making things in every game I have ever played.  Many games have little you can make; others a fair amount.  But inevitably, crafting becomes dull because it is either a grinding activity, or because it is pointless, or because there is no market and your needs are very finite.  Making your first +4 sword is a rush.  But after you have one +4 sword, or maybe two, you don't need any more.  And then there's really no point in making more.

EVE takes crafting to a higher level.  How does it do it?  The immediate reason is the market.  You may not need another +4 sword, but someone else does, and you can sell it to him.  So you might make swords even if you don't need them.  But why would he need a sword?  We have generalized the question from one player to all players collectively, but not answered it.  We must look deeper.

The reason there is any substantial trading in EVE's markets is that in EVE there is consumption.  People require constant supplies of ships, fittings, implants, POS parts, etc.  Some fraction of this demand is coming from new players entering the game, but only a modest amount.  The real reason is that the existing stock of all goods is being constantly reduced.  EVE is full of destruction.

Ships and their fittings are blown up all the time in EVE, and the only way in which new ones appear is that someone, somewhere in the game, builds them.  (Well, almost only.  A tiny fraction of goods are created via gifts and missions, but nowhere near enough to supply the game.)  Similarly implants are lost in pods, POSes themselves are blown up, etc.  In highsec only, it is possible to have a "buy once, use forever" ship.  But nowhere else in the game, and even in highsec it is possible (if unlikely) to be ganked even when the gank is uneconomical.

One aspect of destruction that is obvious to EVE players, but should be mentioned here in case others are reading, is permanent loss.  In EVE, when something is blown up, it is gone.  It never respawns.  You will not be given more.  And the server is never reset.  The only way to replace a  lost object is to build another new one, or to buy it on the market from someone else who built it.

So, EVE "works" for the producer because of its destruction.  Loss means consumption, which requires production.

Of course, not all players are interested in crafting.  Some love it.  Some hate it.  To most it is a modestly interesting grind.  What do most players play EVE for?  PVP.  Let's now consider that.

Certainly EVE's PVP is compelling, but why?  When we experience it, we know why: because it gives us the rush of adrenaline.  We are "amped up"; we have to pee, we feel cold, our hands shake.  In victory, our brains flood with serotonin and we feel awesome.  In defeat, we log out and try to forget it, feeling crushed.  But why do we feel these things?  Why do we care?

The proximate reason we care is that we just stuffed a real live person out there (or were stuffed by).  An actual victim is required.  I have lost a handful ships to EVE's PVE.  It is embarrassing, and even gets a little adrenaline going the first few times, but it fades rapidly.  You know that it did not mean much.  You will use a better fit tomorrow, with better skills, and never lose a ship that way again.  And nobody is crowing over the loss.

We care about victory and defeat only when they are against real people.  But why?  Here the trail ends.  We care because we evolved to care.  We are evolved apes, and beating a rival in physical combat meant good things to our ancestors' genes, whereas being beaten was potentially deadly.  EVE allows us, risk-free, to stimulate the ancient reward and punishment circuits in our brains.

But the gaining of dominance or or being forced into submission is not all of the story.  I have played many games online, involving killing an enemy's units, or being killed.  And though it is certainly fun killing the enemy's units, and vexing to lose mine, few games have had the sheer intensity of the gain or loss that I find in EVE.  Why is that?

I submit that we care because we value our ships and pods.   We value them in our real life, not just operationally within the game context.  And we value them because they were expensive; because they actually cost us something real and substantial.  We got them by farming/grinding in the game, or via real money (injected as PLEX).  A loss is more than just a repositioning; it means dollars or hours of your life, and those are precious.  No game that respawns your character without serious loss, or which gives you stuff just for starting a scenario, can approach the emotional impact that EVE has.

It is that value that connects the PVP game in EVE to the production game.  The value created is the value destroyed.  Just as the concept of good necessarily requires evil, the elation of victory requires the relative boredom of farming.

Permanent gain and permanent loss, tied together.  Yin and yang.  This is what makes EVE great.  Every ship you lose means time grinding.  And that gives it real value to you.  Conversely, without ships constantly dying there is no point in making ships, meaning no point in the economy, no point in crafting.

There are a lot of other good aspects of EVE's design.  (The skill system, for example, is a clever design.)  But the creation of elating victory is the most fundamental.  And also, it seems to me, the most obvious.  And yet, I know of no other game that combines EVE's three key elements:
  • permanant gain and loss
  • player run market
  • PVP
PLEX are not part of this design per se; EVE existed and was addicting people long before PLEX were introduced.  But PLEX interact strongly with the system in interesting ways.  That (and RMT) is the subject for another post.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Robbed by a Tractor

It's Sunday, and things being as they are, I have been on and off all day.  I opened and scanned down C3a some hours ago.  Then I went out to lowsec.  Just as I was jumping from C3a into lowsec, I dscanned and saw sleeper wrecks and two ships.  (I should have scanned the inner system earlier.)  If people are running sites, they may have a scout watching the wormhole, who'd be happy to grab up a nice polarized Tengu.  So instead of coming back in immediately, I searched down the lowsec system I was in.  I found several nice sites (two relic, one drug manufacturer), but the system had five other people there.  Danger.  Time pressed, so I came back in.  Saw some wrecks, but unable to get at them.  The PVEers seem to have gone idle, probably spooked by my earlier blundering by.  Nothing I can do, and have to go anyway.  So I went back home.

Hours later, I am done sucking gas in a C4 that connected up to our system.  My thought is to head back out to lowsec and check out those nice sites.  It's now 10:00 in the USA, so hopefully all those Euros are in bed.  I get into Nosey, my exploration Tengu, and cross into C3.

A routine dscan, and my plans change.  Sleeper wrecks.  Hmm.  I quickly recon the system, and find two guys running a sleeper site in the inner system.  Now I bookmark all anoms, and warp into the site.  It's a Proteus and a Gila.  There are still a few sleepers left, which they are killing.  I have a bit of time.  So I think it's time to ditch Nosey, which is expensive, and get my Manticore.  I warp out, cross, warp to my POS, and refit.  Then warp back, and cross again.  And back to the site.

I am greeted with a new tableau: the Proteus and Gila are still there, along with a Dragoon which shows on dscan as "Salvager".   Is a Dragoon a destroyer?  I look it up: yes.  He is salvaging with salvager drones.  Novel.  He already has cleaned the site pretty well, but there are several more wrecks to go.  Of course, I am not attacking with his friends there.  I head back to make a perch.  Let's see if they make a mistake.

watching from my perch
And sure enough, not a minute later, the Gila warps.  And shortly, so does the Proteus.  I watch on dscan: they disappear.  This is what I expect, as this is the last anom in the inner system.  There are several in the outer system, which is probably what they are doing.

I watch a bit longer.  There are only three wrecks left.  I am surprised at how efficiently the destroyer is tractoring things.   And then I see him tractor something that has to be 50km away!  WTF??  Well, it is the second to last wreck.  Since you cannot warp to things-being-tractored, I take my chance and warp to 20 from the last wreck.  I figure he will have to get within 20 (24 max) to be in tractor range.  He will come to me.

I zoom up.  Now that I am close, I see what is happening.  He has deployed a mobile tractor, and I have not seen it in the scrum of wrecks and him.  And of course the tractor is a new module with Rubicon, and I have not realized until now that I do not have it showing on my overview.  (I fix that now.)  Well, that explains his seemingly huge tractor range.  But, it also puts him 50km from me.  I cannot slowboat that in time.

I think fast, then bookmark the tractor and bounce off the nearest celestial.  I warp back in at 10.  It looks perfect: the last wreck is rapidly approaching.  His drones are out on it.  At I am at 11 km.  I close to 9, then set my orbit around him at 1000m.  Then I decloak and get my systems active.  My torps crash into him.  Shields down in two cycles.  Then armor in two more, and finally two more into structure.  The whole time I am watching dscan like a hawk.  But the Gila and Proteus do not appear.

my loot, sadly diminished
He dies.  I look for the pod, but he warps immediately.  I am 1000m off the wreck, so, hands ashake I open the wreck to get my loot.  For a second, I see nice loot.  And then... no loot.  What happened?  I check again: the wreck is really empty.  It cannot be.  It was not empty a second ago.  It is empty.  And then I get it: the *!$% mobile tractor!  I made a wreck.  The tractor "saw" it, sucked it in (all of 500m), and looted it.  Hey!  THAT'S MY LOOT!

Oh well.  Fearing reprisal, I cloak and move off 20km and watch.  Dscan is clear.  After about a minute, I decide to go look for them in the outer system.  I warp out there.  There are some sleeper wrecks, but no ships.  Maybe they fled?  I warp back to the ambush site.  Well, that tractor has MY LOOT in it, and I wants it, oh yes!  Time to kill the tractor.  I set an orbit at 20km, then uncloak and start shooting.  Dscan remains clear.  The tractor goes down pretty quickly: boom.  OK: what's it got?

Well, I get a bit of loot.  But really not what I had hoped for.  You can see in the killmails almost all the value got blown up.  The Dragoon had 107m worth of stuff; it dropped 33m.  Then the tractor had 80m, and dropped 12m.  (I was seriously screwed by the loot fairy.)

every POS needs one
via zephyr express
I head home.  But there is still that large sleeper wreck... and the destroyer and tractor unit... so I get in a light salvager and return to grind them.  No nanoribbons, sadly.  Back home again.  But there are still those wrecks in the outer system... I rummage around, and pull out our handy Zephyr.  Then I head back over and get another few million in blue loot.


sleepers that are not shooting at me

Lesson learned: when trying to kill a salvaging ship who has a deployed tractor nearby, try to do it when the tractor is just grabbing a distant wreck.  Otherwise, you risk having your loot stolen by it.

I never did make it back out to lowsec.   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ghost Site Success

It's another day, and another static C3a that connects to nullsec.  This means another shot at ghostbusting.

In a very strange coincidence, the wormhole connects to the exact same system that I was in a few days back when I was ghostbusting.  Weird.  I set off vaguely north.

After about 10 systems of nothing, I head south for a bit to do a small loop I have bypassed.  At the last system, I turn around and burn the 15km to the gate.  But when I am still 11k off, a guy "black top" lands on grid; another Tengu.  Is he after me?  I doubt he can stop me in time, but I take no chances and cloak anyway.   As I drift up to the gate, he jumps.  On the other side, I hold gate cloak for a while until I feel silly.  Then I just warp and cloak.

I am running parallel with black top for a while, which is not surprising since there are no branches yet.  I wonder if he is ghostbusting too.  After two systems, we get to SNFV-I.  Ecidently he goes another direction.  I keep heading north.  Two hops later, I enter MY-WV1; I'm alone again, and there is a ghost site!

Finally!
I warp to it, anxious that black top will come this way.  But he is not in system by the time I am on site.  I lock up the four cans and start scanning them.  In one there is a 'Wetu' mobile depot blueprint.  That may actually have some value.  (Later I look it up: sell price at Jita is 40m ISK, probably dropping fast.)  No ascendancy implants.  I head over and start hacking.

PVP danger
I am expect the "hard" minigame.  That is the one that is typical in nullsec (at least in my limited experience).  But instead it is the "medium" difficulty minigame, featuring 50/20 firewalls and none of the nasty nodes.  I tear across the minigame map and find the core!  Woo!  Click click, and I can loot the can.  Cha-small-ching!

This was fast; I hope there is time to do a second can.  I head across 20km to the nearest can, but before I arrive the Serpentis spawn appears.  I head off into space as they warp scramble me and start shooting.  As I flee, waiting for the 30 seconds or so, I notice local and I see that black top has just entered the system.  That's a bit scary -- he may notice the ghost site and perhaps fly to it, and here I am warp scrambled.  Still, it should take him time to arrive and I will probably be cloaked by then.  In any case, he does not appear.  The Serpentis damage my shields a bit, then leave.  I immediately cloak.  Instead of warping off, I hang out to see if black top will appear on the site.  But he does not after about 20 seconds, and that's probably as long as it should take him.  The site has despawned so he cannot even try.  So I continue northwards.

ghostbusters that pass in the night
The next system, he speaks in local.  Asks what I got.  So he did see the site was there.  I tell him I got a 'Wetu', just as I jump 4M-HGL, and lose him.

Now I head north then west (directions in terms of where they are on dotlan), all the way to E3-SDZ, and find no sites.  Then I head back towards the cluster to the east.  I have skipped on site on the way, B-XJX4, which I hit this direction.  Ghost site!  And nobody here again.

I do the now standard procedure for unopposed ghost sites.  Warp to the site, lock the cans, scan them all looking for something good.  There is another mobile depot blueprint, but no Ascendancies.   I burn over to the can with the blueprint, setting an orbit for 2500m in case I need to GTFO.  I am hopeful that it will be another medium minigame.  But it is not.  It's hard.  I hit one Restoration Node, then a second.  But I get some good utilities.  I click across the map, and before I even have to use a utility, hey, there is is.  System Core.

Just as I find the core, the pirates arrive.  OK, I have to get the stuff fast!  Kill the node: click click click, and it dies.  Now I can loot the can -- but I can't!  Crap!  I am too far.  I am orbiting at 2700 because of my earlier order!  OK, "loot".  Seconds tick away.  I have the can selected, hitting "loot", "loot", over and over.  My ship turns to the can, ever so slowly, as the pirates lock me and start shooting.  I am sure I can tank this long enough, but will they explode my loot?

All at once, I get the loot window, and the can blows up, and I loot it.  Did I get the loot?  I did.  OK, maybe I got the order wrong there, but honestly I am not sure.   I burn off, and the pirates get me down to about 30% before they warp.  Whew.  Lesson learned: in future, I will orbit the can at 1000m, not 2500m. 

The rest of the run yields no further sites.  I return to my wormhole, and enter C3a.  As I am crossing it, I pay attention to my loot and I notice that the second mobile depot blueprint I got is not another "Wetu", as I had thought.  It's a "Yurt".  A quick look at Jita via my Jita alt shows the price: 450m (also most likely still dropping like a stone).  Whoa.  A good run.

Ghostbusting has more potential for those of my modest skills than I thought.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Smoked Out

Thanksgiving approaches.  This is a big holiday for us of the USA flavor of American.  And since my corp are Americans, it means I am not sure who can play today.  But I know Jayne can, and I am eager to run some sites in our system.

I log on and nobody else is on.  My alt in the Forge starts up on mining missions, grinding some standings.  I take a look at wspace.

Obviously someone was on earlier, because our static has been scanned down.  It's marked as "not opened", though, so that is good.  We should be zipped up by now.  Maybe I can do some wspace mining.  But wait.  There are three sigs.  One is the static.  Another is a radar site that's been here a few days.  But what of the last?  I don't recall any other sig.  I look at corp bookmarks: only two sigs known. Time to scan.

I get in my scanning Buzzard and warp off to launch probes.  In a minute, I have the new sig: it's a wormhole.   Rats; we are not zipped up. I fly to it.  "Dangerous unknown", and it is red.  So it is a wormhole from C5 wspace.  It might be an opportunity, for gassing the best wspace gas.  Depends on who is there.  And there is only one way to find that out.  I enter the wormhole.

On the other side, dscan shows a rather active system.  There is the expected tower.  But there are also sleeper wrecks.  And ships, including T3s and an Archon.  I burn off the hole and cloak, and hope they did not see me.  But who are they?  Are some, or all of the ships actually unoccupied?  (Generally I find higher level wspace residents do not leave ships out on the lawn, except capitals.  But I can hope.)  I get my narrow-beam dscan and find the planet with the tower.  Then I warp there, and quickly narrow down the tower's location via moon distances.  I fly there.  Yes, some ships are manned.  There is a Sabre.  There are two Ventures on scan, but they are not here.  I look at the anoms, but there are no rocks.  So maybe there is gas after all.

I warp to the outer system to look for ships, wrecks and towers.  There is a tower here too, but no ships.  I find the tower, then fly to a random moon to deploy probes.  I throw them out of the system.  Now I fly back to the wormhole to see if they have seen me.

The Sabre is at the wormhole.  Yep, they saw me.  I see a stealth bomber warp on grid, then cross.  And then an assault frigate.  Uh oh, this is starting to look rather bad for me.  I'll just sit here and let them get bored; that's my plan.  Is it a good plan?  Well, I am not desperate.  None of my corpmates is on, and with these guys running around we cannot do anything (except maybe PVP, and probably lose, but we would probably try something).  Well.  Might as well scan.

There are five sigs, but none of these turn out to be useful to me.  Three data or relic sites which I don't scan down all of.  The wormhole out, of course.  And a gas.  I hope it is a nice high-level wspace one.  Maybe they will go to bed soon and I can come back later and suck out their gas.

The last site I scan is indeed a gas site.  I get it at 100%, then fly to it at 100 to have a look.  I decide to pull my probes, and hope that they will forget about me.  Sure enough, the Ventures are here.  The Ventures are mining... C28 and/or C32.  Hmm.  With this my interest in the system, already low, drops to zero.

Time to get out.  If I can.  I fly to the wormhole at 50 to see what they are doing.  There is the Sabre, still there.

An Orca warps on grid.  And then a Scorpion.  And Dominix.  Uh oh.
I'm screwed
Wspace residents will know exactly what that means.  The C5 guys are about to pop the wormhole.  This would be great if I were on the other side.  But here I am on this side.  And getting out is going to be hard, running a gauntlet.  The battleships are not a problem.  The T2 frigates are.  Seboed up, they can lock me in a second.  Sabres can also make warp bubbles, to prevent me easily warping off the wormhole.

The Orca crosses, then returns, and cloaks.  The battleships do similarly, and the wormhole is destabilized.  So, I have some small time to work with: five minutes.  Then they will do it again and I will be trapped in here.

Now, that would not be the end of the world.  I would scan out, probably beating the C5 guys (or at least tying them), and make a clean getaway into some other C4.  And then I'd have to scan out of that, perhaps into lower wspace, and then do it again, finally getting out into known space.  I'd be somewhere, maybe highsec, maybe null.  There might be a tedious flight back to highsec.  Then I'd have to scan out of my system with an alt, and then warp my main across highsec to get back.  I have done this before, and it's not much fun.

I think I will take my chances.  If they kill me, it's a bother, but it's just a Buzzard.  (If I was in a T3, I'd not take the chance.)  I figure my chances are decent.  Should I break for it it now?  Not yet.  I have an idea...

I warp off to a nearby customs office, then back to the hole at 100.  I make a bookmark, then warp offgrid again, and back to the bookmark at 100.  Now I am at 200km, more or less.  I have a perch.  I can warp to the hole from here.  And I wait.  I am waiting to see the Orca again.  When it jumps, I will warp to the hole and jump.  Hopefully, the C5 gang on the other side will be exiting with it, or even slightly before it, with at least a few of their ships.  Or at least they may be somewhat confused and I can escape.

I watch.  And there! -- there is the Orca.  I align to the hole to get ready.  And... the Orca disappears.  Did it jump?  I am not sure, but I am not going to take the chance.  I warp to the hole.  The hole uncloaks me, and I jump.  What will I find?

On the other side is just the Saber.  No Orca.  The Sabre appears to be orbiting the wormhole; fortunately for me, it is on the opposite side about as far from me as can be.  I want to move fast, before the guys on the other side can come through and help.  I am about 1900m from the wormhole, so there are good odds I can cloak.  I order an orbit at 20, then turn on my microwarp to burn away from the wormhole, and hit cloak.  But I don't actually cloak.  The guy is fast, and he has locked me.  Crap.  Prospects deteriorating.

Nice try, mate!
I order a warp to a random customs office, first one I see.  Fire hits me, dropping my shield to half.  Well, there are no bubbles, at least.  So I am preparing to warp out my pod, when... I warp.

I'm alive!  Joy!

(In retrospect, my guess is the guy did not have a long point, and I got out of his warp scrambling range in time.  I don't know why he did not fire a bubble other than the whole thing took about three seconds.)

I say something in local and he gives a dick reply.  Well, gf to you anyway, friend.  Then I warp back to the wormhole at 50.  A dscan shows someone has probes out.  Are they going to hang around?  The scorpion comes through.  Both ships leave.  And the wormhole disappears.  The probes are gone too.

Bye bye, random C5 guys.  Nice attempt at smoking me out: it worked.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Economics of C4 PVE

Last night my corp had an ideal system for running sites.  It was a connected C4 system packed with anoms, many of which are the best type, and totally zipped up.  We exploited it to the max.  So, how much does it pay, running C4 sites?

We have found that a typical C4 anom will earn about 100m ISK in salvage and blue loot.  There is a lot of variance, because about half of the value is the salvage and it has a strong element of chance.  There is really only one salvage part that is worth much: melted nanoribbons.  If you get lucky on melted nanoribbons, you get more than average.  C4 radar and data sites are considerably harder sites, and they earn more.  Perhaps 120m average in blue loot and salvage.  You can also get perhaps 60m from can-cracking in relic sites, which is worth doing.  The minigames for C4 data/relic sites are the hardest ones in the game, so their earning rate is not great without maximum skills.  Data site cans are not worth it, although with a cargo scanner you can probably select only the relatively high value cans and earn a decent rate on a few cans.

Last night we completed 13 combat anoms, and another 2 radar sites.  So we would expect to earn about 1.5 billion, and we did.

How long did this take?  We started right at 8:00 with three of us.  Hiljah joined about 9:15.  We ended some time around 11:30; perhaps 11:15.

Using 11:30 for a conservative estimate, three of us spent 3.5 hours each.  Hiljah, 2.25 hours.  Four players; what did we earn per player?  We earned about 117m per man-hour.  What did we get per-character?  We used nine characters: two logis, one salvager, one fleet booster, and five DPS.  Thus,we earned 52m per character-hour.

There was some inefficiency in our setup.  Our salvager was not busy 100% of the time.  Adding DPS would increase his rate of earning a bit by keeping him busy more of the time.  And of course the logistics have very little DPS.  So, by adding a few more DPS characters we might get a moderate improvement.  (In fact we left one radar site untouched for lack of time.)

We Make Bank in C4

It's Sunday, and I have a spare hour.  Let's see what's shaking in EVEland.

I go out ghostbusting again, in Catch this time.  I scour from 4-07MU to HP-64T and back, finding a single ghost site on the way back.  Nobody in local.  I try to run it, but as before fail the minigame and blammo.  Nothing to show.  I think I need better skills to make any ISK this way.

In the nullsec system where my wspace exit hole is, there are two sigs.  I have not been paying attention to them, but since I am headed back in anyway I search it down, and it is a relic site.  Hmm.  I don't have an analyzer fit, but I have one in my hold, along with a mobile depot.  I am eager to try it out.

I make a safespot, then fly to it.  I launch the depot for myself.  It then counts down 40 seconds or so, and I can refit.  Very handy.  Unfortunately, I do not have the analyzer I thought I did.  Oh well, I grab the depot back in (which takes no time), and head back to wspace.

I get back into my home system with several hours to go on our wormhole.  There is a new signature in our system.  Dutifully I move out, fire probes, and search it down.  Another wormhole.  I fly to it, and examine it.   It is a K162 from "dangerous unknown" space, and it is yellow.  This means it comes from C4.

Do I enter it and search it down?  Or should I refit and head out to get that relic site?  I decide to have a look.  At the least I can trigger all the sites.

I enter.  C4b is a black hole system (yuck), and there is no tower on scan.  Sixteen anoms, and eleven sigs.  Whoever lives here has not been very active.  I fire probes and throw them out of the system, then I bookmark the wormhole and check the system map.  I can see all the inner planets, of which there are four.  But there is an outer planet.  I warp out to it to check for towers: no towers.  This system is unoccupied.  Not too surprising given the black hole and the many sites.

Now I bring in my probes and start scanning.  I expect to find at least one more wormhole, because whoever activated the wormhole I came through (an X877), had to get into this system somehow.  I find lots of gas.  Gas, gas, gas, data, gas, gas, gas, data, relic, gas.  Um... that's all of them.  And no wormhole!  (Not other than the one connecting to my system.)

This is a fantastic bit of luck.  It means that in a few hours when our static wormhole expires, without lifting a finger, my corp will have a completely zipped up duo of systems -- and one of them packed full of juicy sleepers to kill.  But right now I have to go work in the real world.

Back into the real virtual world.  I am still the only person in my corp around, but I can make some ISK by myself.  Our static wormhole is gone.  In C4b there are seven gas sites including two intermediate ones.  And also three ore sites.  I triggered all of them earlier; I always trigger all sites in C4.  So their sleepers will be present.  I refit into a Drake and head out.  I check the number of signatures: it will be eleven if nothing has changed.  It will be twelve or more if a new site (likely a wormhole) has appeared.  It's eleven.  Nothing has changed.

The lesser sites I can solo in a Drake.  Usually I can also solo the harder ones, but today the damage is too much.  (I have the feeling the sleepers are moving faster due to the black hole and that is reducing my damage.)  Anyway, I warp out the Drake and come back in a Venture to salvage.  Then I come back to finish the last two sites in a Tengu.  All told, about 50m in loot.  And again I have attend to the real world.

Zooming around the anchor as sleepers perish
And back again.  Now, with sleepers gone, I can suck gas.  I log characters on both my accounts and warp over to the wormhole, and transit.  Are there still 11 signatures?  There are.  Nothing new; it is safe.  I warp to two different C50 clouds and set to it.

I'll be busy as long as I want.  The system has clouds of C50, C72, C28, and C32.  I fill one Venture and run back home, and return.  Right after that, Jayne logs in.  I fill him in on the situation; he gets two more characters gas-mining.   Jayne pings Timmay while I ping Hiljah.  We extract more gas for my reactions.  We manage to clean out one of the sites entirely.  So, ten sites to ignore.

About 7:30, Timmay shows.  Jayne and I could start running sites in C4b by ourselves, but having one more person (two more characters) makes it much easier.  Now we load up, checking missiles and whatnot, in our standard sleeper-killing fleet.  Ravens and Ospreys, although Timmay flies a Rokh and a Noctis.

The sites left after the first hour
We're ready, and off we go at just about 8:00.  I fleet-warp us to the wormhole and we jump on contact.  I check to make there are ten sigs.  There are ten sigs.  And I warp us to the first of eight Frontier Barracks.  The slaughter commences.  Silly sleepers!  Run!  Actually, no, don't.  I need your melted nanoribbons and blue loot.  Those highsec corps are idiots to buy it, but that's not my fault.

We work through the Barracks, which are mostly in the inner system.  I time one: almost exactly 10 minutes.  Hiljah appears at about 9:15; we are almost through the Barracks.  There is one in the outer system, but with the outer planet 60 AU away, I am going to do all the sites out there together.  So I target the three sites remaining in the inner system: one more Barracks, a Sleeper Information Sanctum, and an Unsecured Frontier Digital Nexus.  With Hiljah adding two more DPS-chucking Ravens, these drop quickly.  The Nexus is not completed; you have to trigger the later two waves by messing with a can and failing.  We'll come back and do that later.

Now we warp to the outer system and start in the sites.  First the Barracks, and then all the Frontier Command Posts.  These have a lot of frigates, and take a bit longer than Barracks do.  Still, ISK is ISK.  And the other Digital Nexus.

By the time we through all these sites, it is about 10:45 and the natives are getting restless.  It's enough.  We take a short break.  I fly the fleet to a safespot, then I eject from my Osprey and pod home to get a Heron to trigger the two data sites.  (Are there still three sigs in the home system?  There are.  OK good.)  Jayne takes the loot so far back for safekeeping: over a billion ISK.

I fly back to trigger the data sites.  The first site triggers on the second try.  I have a brief moment of excitement when my Heron hits the nearby sleeper-structure and does not warp out quickly.  The sleepers red-box me, but they are too far off to hurt me before I warp.  The second site takes quite a few failed hacks to trigger.  I am on the 6th try when the sleepers appear.  I warp off easily.

Back to the safespot, and I reship back into the Osprey.  The fleet is ready, and we compete the two data sites.  These are notable for the damage they deal in the final wave: four Sleepless Safeguards with 1928 DPS that scram, web, and neut.  Nasty.  But our hard tanks and the Ospreys can handle that easily.

We wrap it up trying to hack a talocan artifact.  This works, but the guys miss a single can which evidently had the good stuff.  Too bad.  The total take for the night is 1.5 billion ISK of salvage and blue loot.  During the day I got another 50m or so of the same, and we got perhaps 100m in gas as well.  A banner day for Complex Systems.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Fail Some More Ghost Sites

It's the day after yesterday.  Well, it always is, but the yesterday in question had me leaving off out in Stain, having found an unused section of null where I found two ghost sites.  I did not get anything from either.  One despawned before I even saw it; the other one had nothing special in any can, and someone in local.  Not worth the risk of hacking.  I have a bit of time to play this morning, so I figure to find some more.  This time, I hope to get some actual loot.

I set off, on pretty much the same path as yesterday but backwards.  And voila -- two jumps in, I find a ghost site!  Nobody in local!  Huzzah.  I warp to it, decloak, and then start scanning cans.  And it's almost a replay of yesterday: nothing much in any can.  However, today I have nobody to stop me, so I might as well go for it and see if I can hack a can.  Or who knows, two.

I burn over to a can, and start hacking.  Ugh -- restoration node.  Kill it, ouch.  Onward.  80/20 firewalls everywhere, and another restoration node.  Kill it.  More clicking, and I get a utility.  More clicking, another restoration node.  I have almost lost.  A few more clicks for desperate hope, and it is done.  My virus is too weak to prevail.  I head towards another can, and exit the minigame.  Boom!  The can blows and knocks off 20% of my shields.

As I am right in the middle of the site, suddenly I am in amidst a bunch of red crosses.  The timer is up: Serpentis pirates arrive.  I veer away from them, afterburner almost full ramped.  They shoot me and knock off another third of the shields or so, then swoosh, they all take off in all directions.  (Once again I admire this effect.)

Another ghost site, another failure.  I set out again.

And, next system: another ghost site!  Again, nobody.  Again, I warp over and scan all the cans.  Now something new: a can with actual treasure.  A 'wetu' mobile depot blueprint!  An ascendancy gamma blueprint! 
Goodies!
Ooh.  I head to it.  I enter the minigame.  It is the same hard minigame.  This one I do better on, but I still don't find the core.  I fail again.  Sighing, I head towards another can, and all that nice treasure explodes (and takes a chunk of shields).  Then the same thing happens as before: before I can get to a second can, the timer is out, and the pirates blow the site.

I don't find any more gas sites today.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Ghost Site Disappoints

Two nights ago, I went ghostbusting in Stain.  Skunked.  Last night, I did it again in lowsec, out to the EVE gate.  Very few people around, but no ghosts.  Skunked again.

Tonight I fly again.  (I need to think of a name for my exploration Tengu.  Nosey, perhaps.)  Tonight our static C3 has a lowsec, and it comes down in Harner, which is in a corner of Solitude.  I scan down the local system.  Nobody is here but me.  There's a data site, which I run, to modest gain.  And there are two lowsec gas sites.  One has a low-value gas.  But the other... Celadon Cytoserocin.  Currently second most valuable gas in the game.  I think about it a while, then log out to bring in my farming alt.  (He has better gas skills than Von does.)

I mine on and off for a while, twice interrupted by people entering the system.  I mine the gas orbiting at 1000, so it is easy to move off and cloak.  Jayne shows up later and brings down two characters; we suck it dry quickly.  Now back into wspace, dump gas, and change characters.

Back to my original plan.  Ghostbusting.  Where?  Well, let's see if highsec Solitude is well populated.  I would not mind finding a site there first to run, so I could get the feel of it.  But that's unlikely unless it is pretty abandoned, and I just don't know how populous the place is.  So I set course for Gererique.  All of the systems I go through have people in them, lowsec and highsec.  So, I guess this is not the place to bust.  OK, plan adaptation: I am heading for nullsec.  Fortunately, Solitude borders nullsec.  So I can get into Syndicate in just a few jumps.  OK, off I go.

I am a little bit scared of a camp at the border, but I have been this way before and there was none.  (There was a camp going the other direction coming from contiguous empire, but I am not going there.)  And today there is none.  Also no ghost site, but now I am into null and there is nobody here.  So things are looking good.  I am planning to hit the local cluster here, since I don't have a lot of time.

Angry Concord Guy never sleeps.
When I enter Iggy (as I think of I-YGGI), there is a ghost site!  It shows up on my scanner as a normal combat anom, named "Improved Serpentis Covert Research...".  But there's also another player.  Hmm.  I order a warp to the site anyway, and cloak immediately.

Before I leave grid, I see the other player on grid.  He's leaving.  Nice!  It's all mine!  Except... it isn't.  I get a popup for the ghost site when I warped to it, but when I land, there is no ghost site.  And it has disappeared from my list of anoms.  Hmm.  My guess is, the guy I saw leaving just ran the site and left.  It despawned between when I warped and landed. 

A minimalist site -- very un-CCP-like
That's a disappointment.  Nothing to do but keep looking.  I set course north.  Two hops later, in A-ZLHX, I get lucky again!  Another ghost site.  And also another player.  I warp to the site, cloaked.  Here is what it looks like: there are four cans in a square, with about 20km between cans.  You warp into the center of it, I think.  (I warped to 10, being cautious, and ended up near the lower-left can.)  Above each can is a flavor object (bunker, small tower).

I sit for a second gathering my thoughts.  I do not really want to run the site with anyone in local.   On the other hand, if she is in local in a frigate maybe I can kill her when she comes to the site.  So I look at dscan for her: no ship appears.  I check out the system: it's all in range.  This makes me suspect she is cloaked.  But then I notice there is a station.  OK, she's probably there.  No way for me to check, though.  And it's been long enough that I doubt she is going to come in a frig.

Well, Nosey is designed to run away pretty well.  And I can't just sit here.  So, I mentally formulate and rehearse my escape plan, and then uncloak and start scanning cans.  I will want to get the can with the best stuff first, since it may be all I have time for.  First can: some minerals and some junk.  Second can: junk.  Third can: junk.  Fourth can: minerals and junk.
BOOM

Hmm.  Should I hack for basically nothing?  I would if alone, but it's not a good risk:reward proposition.  So I don't.  Still, I am curious to see what will happen.  So I back off from all four cans, and wait.

It all goes down as I have read on the forums. After about a minute and a half, Serpentis pirates appears.  I am cloaked so they are no problem.  Shortly, they blow up all the cans, and then they warp off in all directions.  (I don't think I have ever seen NPCs do this; it's kind of cool.)

I have a look at the rest of the small area I am in.  No more ghost sites.  And that is about it for my play time tonight.  Then I decide to log off here, so I can try again tomorrow.