Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pardon the dust (not 514)

Real Life's been throwing regular salvos of 1400's at me.  Trying to see if I can tank them.

(I know, I know, I'm so irregular that absence is more common than presence.)

A few thoughts will be coming once I have the time to scrape them together.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Some days/weeks/months the bear gets you

Sometimes you get on a roll.  Sometimes it's not a good roll.

August wasn't great - I was away for a good chunk of it, offline for the most part, and when I was online I wasn't very effective.

September was a near-complete washout, although it ended with an LP dump that left me with substantial asset value (though LP dumps invariably are accompanied by market crashes, so the assets remain illiquid for the time being), and one good fight that may have been envisioned as a chess match, but ended up as a bar brawl.

Well, actually, it didn't strictly end with that fight.  The real end came when I rolled out my mission bomber to gather a few more LP for the dump, and collided with a pirate's heavy smartbomb shockwave at the outbound gate in Abune.  Stealth bombers react to faction smartbombs about like a bug trying to power its way through a windshield, so two seconds later, I was back in the hangar at the medclone station with my learning and maneuvering implants blasted out of my skull.


Then a couple of days later, I got asked to do a favor for an alliance-mate whose security rating wouldn't let him get to Jita to buy fittings for some ships.  I rolled out my trusty Viator transport, assembled the materials he wanted, and set off for the low-sec base via the Nourvakaiken/Tama route.  The cloaky hauler had always managed to get me through gate camps before, so I was fairly confident.

Except for several problems.

One: a pirate group operating in Tama, on friendly status with our alliance, had set up a gate camp on the Tama side of the Nourv/Tama gate.

Two: they had heavy boosts to lock speed thanks to a Loki cruiser with fleet bonuses, so in the time it took for me to transition from the cloak everyone hides under right after a jump to the cloak generated by my own ship, I was locked and tackled.

Three: they opened fire with heavy artillery without checking whether I was a friendly.

My ship and its cargo were gone in less than three seconds.

They must have realized what had happened pretty quickly, though, because there were shocked exclamations in the local channel when it dawned on them that they'd just blown up an ally for a quarter-billion-ISK loss.

The pirate alliance chief ended up compensating me for his subordinates' trigger-happy ways, so I got into a shuttle to head back to Jita, from where I needed to buy a brand-new Viator and another pile of equipment for the alliance-mate.

I stopped off 100km from the Nourv gate in Tama, to look at what was going on with the gate camp.

And one of the campers shot my shuttle out from under me.

A few days later, I lost a plexing ship in an anomaly, but that was my own fault for running the anomaly while too tired to see straight.  I wrote it off as an expensive lesson.

Haven't made it into a fleet since the beginning of the month, and haven't been in a combat situation that didn't resemble a curb-stomping, so my killboard stats look nightmarish.

Some corps and alliances will throw out members based on poor killboard performance.

Thankfully I'm not in one of them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Travel fits, fail fits, and...

The paired Tech-II warp-core stabilizers did more than save my personal bacon last night.

The fleet that was up in militia wanted high-DPS ships, preferably Tier-3 battlecruisers, to roam around and bust infrastructure hubs.  I don't know about POSes, but hubs can absorb an awful lot of damage, and the night before last, we were throwing a couple of dozen stealth bombers at hubs and not making much progress at all.  Stealth bombers are great for sneaking in and out of hostile territory, and for sneaking up on targets and laying down a lot of pain, but for extended damage-dealing, they're less than ideal - lower damage potential, and more importantly, limited ammunition reserves.  We had someone in a blockade runner camped in a safe spot dispensing additional torpedoes, but we were on the edge of running out of ammunition (and my sojourn in the Manticore ended with its shot locker basically empty).

So for this one, I brought out my bunker-buster ship: an Oracle.  Only Tech 1 lasers, but the best meta lasers my sketchy bank account could accomodate, with multifrequency crystals that deal max damage at short range (and can essentially fire forever; the crystals don't degrade, and my Core Capacitor Elite certificate means I can make this fit capacitor-stable), rigged for pure firepower with three heat sinks in the low slots, a microwarp drive and a cap recharger in the mids along with a shield extender, and three more slots to play with.  Some people use inertial stabilizers, others use tank modules, others will just put nanofibers in the lows.

Last night, I fitted two Tech-II warp-core stabilizers, and left them in the lows.

The only real difference between them and their Tech-I counterparts is lowering of the penalties - 40% reduction in targeting range and scan resolution, per unit, as opposed to 50%.  Normally crippling, but since my guns were going to be shooting at a stationary target, and their range would only be about 20km or so, chopping targeting range to 30km was an acceptable sacrifice.

We were hitting hub after hub - I joined late, but they'd managed to knock over a bunch already, and I was there for about three system flips, and we were working on a fourth when pirates started to drop in on us.  One hostile came to the hub we were bashing, flying a Tengu.  We'd lost a bunch of ships as the EU timezone claimed their pilots for sleep, so I was the last Oracle on the field.

I guess that made me the juiciest target.

The fleet coordinator called for everyone to warp out; my corp had saved a safe spot in-system, a while ago, so I was aligned and ready to roll.  Off to the side in the overview, the Tengu pilot's line showed up ... with the little blue warp scrambler icon.

But there was no corresponding alert in the lower center of the HUD.

My shields dropped by about a quarter - the Tengu had decided that the Oracle was the highest-value kill on the field, and had started launching missiles at me - but then: "Warp drive active."

I'd tanked the salvo, slipped the tackle, and gotten away clean.

The FC asked: who got killed?  Because when a hostile drops into tackling range, especially an armed-to-the-teeth strategic cruiser, usually one person gets left behind, tackled, unable to run, helpless as the rest of the fleet warps away.

Not this time.  Everyone had escaped - because I'd drawn the point, and the incoming fire, shrugged them all off, and in the time it would have taken for the Tengu to switch targets and scramble someone else, everyone was gone.

Essentially, we'd decoyed the Tengu with a travel-fit banana boat.

And when an aggressor comes away from an ambush without any kills, I mark that down as a win.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Honorable profession

I've been back in the game for about a year now, and getting involved with a good corp has made life a lot easier, but I remember how hard it was to grind when I renewed my subscription after four or five years away.  Back before I got a new job and moved to a new continent, I'd been in a small corp that had done some low-sec and null-sec mining and manufacturing operations, so I'd ended up with one jump clone way out in null-sec, some scattered assets all over the place, and for some reason I couldn't even remember, I was parked in a dead-end 0.6 system deep in Gallente space with a mining-fit Exequeror, a Vexor, an Iteron Mark V,  a few million ISK, a pile of unallocated skill points, no corp, and no idea of where to go.

So I did what any number of newbies do when they don't have a clue.

I started drilling.

Now, back when I'd first signed up, there hadn't been any such things as mining barges, so that was my first clue that things had changed - there was a specialized ship for doing what I was doing, more efficiently, but I needed a new set of skills for it, and those skills cost money, and the barge would cost more money ... so I had to start out small.  Drill with the Exequeror, refine down the ore, and maybe make invest in a blueprint or two.

For a while, I made ISK by making medium-sized antimatter charges, and it was enough to scrape by, invest in a destroyer to run some missions and hopefully improve my financial status some more.  I didn't know any better, and since I'd been signed in way back when, I didn't even have the benefit of the tutorials until I finally got around to running career agent missions.

So I drilled.  I got can-flipped.  I drilled some more.  I bought cargo expanders that turned out to be in Rancer, got my destroyer ganked at a gate camp while trying to pick them up, my pod ransomed for 75 million - several times my total worth - and got podded when I was too slow to respond.  And I drilled some more.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do ... and then I saw a bunch of people roll into my belt, in mining barges and a big mothership-type boat that "Show Info" identified as an Orca.  I was worried that these guys - who were obviously well-organized - would roll over me for mining in their patch, but when I checked their info, it seemed they were open to new applicants.  I convo'd the guy in the Orca - or maybe he was in one of the Hulks - explained I was sort of at odds, looking to join a corp, and lo and behold, I was accepted.

The corp got hit with a war declaration something like a week later, if I recall.

But the point was, up until then, I'd needed some way to build up reserves for the inevitable combat, some way to keep my head above water.  Mining and manufacturing was it - and I wasn't someone in a max-yield Hulk; I was really a newbie all over again, scraping by.  I was a high-sec miner because that was what I was able to do.

And I was providing goods that people needed - why else would anyone buy the ammunition I was running off?

I know that null-sec and wormholes are where the real money's supposed to be - that people out there, sitting on twelve-figure bank accounts, with dozens of Titans and supercarriers on call, want to dictate how everyone else plays the game.  I know that there are people out there who see high-sec miners as a blight, a stain on their vision of New Eden as an objectivist paradise, where the fittest prosper and can impose their will on the lesser folks.

But when you're at the bottom of the food chain, or you've been wiped out and have to start over, you need some way to start.

If I hadn't been able to mine, I'd never have gotten my foot back in the door.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

With a little help from my friends

The pirate had already wiped out one Worm in his Hookbill that night; he thought he was going to get another.

I was flying a new Worm almost by accident; a corpmate had stumbled across a blueprint, built the frigate, and decided to go fly it out and get killed in it.  I checked the stats, realized that my cross-training meant I could get full use out of its bonuses and that it would make a very nice frigate for the plexing end of faction warfare, and asked if I could buy it off him.

A couple of days later, I'd fitted it out, put it through its paces, and discovered that a fully bonused Worm with Hobgoblin IIs and a tech-II drone-damage amp could basically run small and medium plexes on easy mode.  With Tech II rockets (and double range on them), and full shield resistance bonuses, it made a tidy little ship.

Then I showed up where the corp was running a few plexes, and things went a bit sideways.  After going looking for fresh plexes, I accidentally warped to the wrong one - a minor plex that had already been opened ... and that had a Hookbill sitting right at the acceleration gate.

I quickly looked for the nearest celestial, but it was too late; I was pointed, webbed, and engaged, and suddenly the fight was on.  I hadn't prepared for the fight, and if this guy had already wiped out one of my mates, I wanted to disengage.  Out went my ECM drones to tag the guy, while he threw rockets at me and hammered down through my shield buffer; I engaged with my own rockets, but suddenly his shields kept popping back up.  Ancillary shield boosters strike again, apparently; suddenly his shields were back to full, quicker than I could take down his buffer ... and again ... and again.  I realized I'd forgotten to turn on my damage control, and hit it right as my shields went down, and he started to bite into my armor.  I still hadn't dented him.

Then my buddies landed from the other plexes they'd been working, right as he stripped off the last of my armor and bit into my structure.  One of my corpmates was flying an Arbitrator with which he'd been testing a spider-tank fit, so he quickly threw a shield booster at me, giving me a tiny bit of extra buffer, and the rest of them started hurling nastiness at him.  My structure hit fifty percent and lower, and I was spamming the warp command, ready to face the loss of my brand-new pirate frigate ... when all of a sudden, I heard Aura's voice:

"Warp drive active."

Thirty-four percent structure, but I was away.

And the Hookbill was pinned by another Hookbill, an Arbitrator, and a Navy Caracal ... which finally cracked its buffer and blew it to shrapnel.

As he ran in his pod, he complained in local:

"You can't handle a 1v1, so you blob, huh?"

I was too busy looking for a place to dock up and repair my smoking wreck of a ship to respond, but my corp-mates answered nicely that he didn't exactly have a right to expect a one-on-one matchup.

The corp's at war, and strength in numbers is what helps keep us alive.  If one guy gets tackled, and corpmates are in system in fighting ships, it's understood that combat support will be coming as quickly as possible.  Granted, it might not be quickly enough to save the ship, but we don't leave our guys to turn in the wind to do our own thing, not if we're close enough to help.

Now, if he'd issued some sort of formal challenge, demanded a one-on-one duel, and I'd accepted, and then my mates had landed on his head ... he'd have had a legitimate gripe.  But when the challenge is issued via warp scrambler ... then the rule is, there are no rules.

He had a Hookbill fitted with dual medium ancillary shield boosters, overpowered for a frigate, theoretically invulnerable.

I had my friends.

And in the end, that made all the difference.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's the pilot, not the ship

The other day, I was hopping around trying to tackle a few faction missions in a Drake, and got caught by a Hurricane and a Cyclone trying to tag-team me around some gates in the neighborhood of the mission space.  Several things went wrong with their approach:

1) I was near gates when they engaged, so scramming me wouldn't stop me from jumping.
2) I wasn't aggressing, so I could jump and they couldn't follow.
3) I was flying a variant on the brick-tank Drake, with purger rigs, shield extenders and shield power relays - although I did swap out one relay for a power diagnostic, and sacrifice one mid-slot recharger for a MWD for mission range control.

They didn't crack my tank, not even close.  I ended up hopping around a few systems to shake them, looping back, and finishing the mission for a nice payout.  They burned a lot of ammo, probably T2 or faction, and basically wasted their time.

So that was a win for me.

Last night was different.  Patrol in the neighborhood of the low-sec base, in an active-tank Enyo I think of as my patrol fit.  (Some day soon I've got to get a second one, to rig and fit for pure gank; one problem with armor buffer is that it doesn't regenerate, so without armor logi support, you can't do things like secure a plex.)  I jumped into a system where one of the corpmates was doing some defensives, to help out if I could.

And a Drake jumped in right behind me.

Now, this guy wasn't a war target, just a neutral.  I figured I'd better stick around, see what he'd do.

He locked me up; that happens, not necessarily an aggressive act.

Then he opened fire.

Now, I didn't know his fit; if he was flying a brick-tank Drake, I didn't have enough firepower to crack his tank, but I could probably circle him and hold him with a scram and let other people come in and add their firepower.  I could tank his missiles by pulsing the armor repper (unless he'd fitted rapid light launchers, in which case I would be in deep trouble, but who's going to go roaming in a Drake with weapons that won't work on anything much more than frigates?), and I had a T2 Hobgoblin to take on his drones while I minded the tackle.

I hadn't figured on the gate guns.

Down went his drones, one, two, three, four, five, and suddenly it was me in the Enyo and my buddy in a Cormorant versus a Drake that was losing shields pretty fast.  Orbit close, guns - whoops, don't forget the scram - run the NOS to shore up my cap - rep up the armor ...

When an Enyo's shields go down, it's still a threat.  When a Drake's shields go down, it's half past time to bug out.  Except I still had the Drake scrammed, pinned against the gate, and between my ion guns, my mate's rails, and the gate guns ...

... Kaboom.

The only ultimate damage I suffered was to my drone, which got kind of dinged up a bit in the scrap.  Everything else got taken care of by the armor rep.

And as it turns out, the Drake pilot had engaged in possibly the worst matchup possible for his fit; he was armed with heavy assault missiles, great against short-range targets, cruisers and up, but against an assault frigate with a reduced MWD signature bloom, HAMs waste most of their damage on empty space.  Oh, sure, he could have taken me - if he'd been T2 fitted with his skills maxed out, he could have done more DPS than I could tank, but he still wouldn't have been able to tank the Enyo's damage, so in a pure one-on-one match, it would have been a race.  Well, he wasn't fully T2 fitted for tank or gank, it wasn't a one-on-one, and his HAMs were basically just scorching my paint while my ion guns were ripping him open.

He was probably just roaming around looking for a "good fight" against a target of opportunity.  What he ended up with was the wrong weapons against the wrong opponent at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Lesson: don't start a brawl with a knife-fighter if all you've got is a bazooka.  And be smart about your engagements.  Like the movie said, sometimes the winning move is not to play.

Or, at least, not to let the other guy set the rules of the game.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The mining barge changes

Yeah, the mining barges needed work.  Especially the problem of the Covetor - the high-end Tech-I mining barge needs two separate skills trained to Level 5, and for an unimplanted alt, Mining Barge V and Astrogeology V chew up over a month between them.  And once you get those done, you're only 18 hours away from a Hulk, anyway...

...well, 18 hours and 300 million ISK; the latter's a more formidable bar to a newer player.  The Hulk's ten times more expensive than the Covetor, and it doesn't mine anywhere close to ten times as efficiently.  Plus, the Goonswarm exhumer bounties make a Hulk a priority target for gankers, and you can't exactly use escorts to shoot the gankers off your miners.

So when the word came down that they're going to change the mining barges, I looked on with interest; when I came back from my years-long hiaitus, with no corp and no support structure, the only reliable way for me to earn money was by mining and manufacturing.  I mined, made mistakes, got can-flipped.  (I also got my first post-hiaitus PVP kill when a ganker tried to blow up my Retriever and miscalculated; I had Hornets out, which did enough damage alongside Concord that his Thrasher died while I still had some structure left.)  Mining is a reliable fall-back; everyone needs minerals, if for no other reason than that everyone needs new ships after they've gotten the worst of a combat session.  (Case in point: that Thrasher that tried to gank my Retriever and ended up with a destroyed ship and nothing to show for it.)

The changes make sense; the Procurer, instead of being basically worthless, now becomes the choice if you want to sacrifice yield for defensibility, with a battleship-level tank.  The Retriever yields more and has greatly improved storage, at the cost of some tank, making it a much better solo-operation vessel (and defeating can-flippers into the bargain).  And the Covetor ... well, it gets max yield by sacrificing tank and storage; like the report says, its niche will be mining-fleet operations.

And thinking about it, the changes make even more sense if you look at the roles of the mining barges' Tech-II cousins.

The Skiff (T2 Procurer) is optimized to mine mercoxit.  What's the problem with mercoxit?  If something goes wrong, you get a toxic gas cloud that will damage your ship.  How would a designer react to that?  Beef up the ship's structure ... as will be done with the update.

The Mackinaw (T2 Retriever) is optimized for ice mining.  What's the problem with ice?  It takes up insane amounts of cargo space - a thousand cubic meters per block.  How would a designer react to that?  Increase carrying capacity ... as will be done with the update.

The Hulk (T2 Covetor) is optimized for ore mining.  I'm not sure what they're going to change, other than put most of its cargo space into an ore hold instead of the standard cargo hold.

On the bright side, once the changes come through, hopefully I won't have to get the alt to train Mining Barge V to use a Covetor on fleet ops.

Know when to walk away, know when to run

Different people have different opinions on acceptable or unacceptable activities in EVE.  Me, I'll sometimes step back from the faction-warfare front lines to shore up my wallet.  Occasionally, that'll mean running missions.

It's only since this spring that I've been in a position to solo missions for Level 4 agents.  Cross-training to Minmatar to fly the Tornado (intended for use against a bumping extortionist who's apparently moved on to another system) put me in a decent position to fly the Maelstrom, and I got lucky and found a bargain on one before the removal of drone alloys and Hulkageddon drove battleship prices sky-high.  That became my missioning ship, kept in a hi-sec backwater with access to a couple of good Level 4 agents.

One of which offered me Angels Extravaganza the other day - an unexpected prize.  Good rewards, hefty bounties, and now that I've got an alt trained up with the Noctis, nice loot and salvage as well.

It was almost too easy, sometimes - my tank was never in jeopardy, autocannons were ripping through the Angels (with drones shredding frigates and such), there was almost a rhythm to it.  Finish off the last hostile, warp in the Noctis while bringing the Maelstrom back to the acceleration gate, start salvage, and send out the Mael to the next room.  There was a bit of a scare when I brought in the Noctis too soon in the fourth room, but the Mael drew full aggro on the last wave, so the only thing that happened was that the Noctis pilot got half the bounties for the last wave.

Five rooms, easily done.  But then comes the bonus room.

For that, I docked up and re-fit the Maelstrom, adding a thermal hardener (for the missiles the bonus room sends) and a cap booster, pulling the boost amplifier and the afterburner.  Maybe my mistake was in not swapping out the guns, not going in with artillery to take out the long-range weapons ... but in any case, I got maybe five kills in the bonus room before I was out of cap booster charges, almost out of cap, and my shields were at the warning threshold.

Time to walk away.

Luckily, four of those five kills had been the web/scram frigates that can give people fits, so I got clear without any hits to armor.  Ultimately, all it cost me was ammunition and about thirteen cap booster charges.

That's the issue, sometimes - people get their teeth into an objective and refuse to let go, pursuing the sunk-costs fallacy.  Sometimes you just need to let go.

After selling off pricier salvage, raw profit was about 35 million ISK.  Plus however much that plus-3 implant in the silo ends up selling for in Jita.

Not a bad night's work.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Tornado now officially scares me.

Back in the old corp, when we were mining and missioning in a dead-end pipe in Lonetrek, our system was infected by a griefer who liked to bump miners and gloat that he was invincible, that he owned the system.  He was in an NPC corp so he was immune to war declarations, he never actually used offensive modules so he was under CONCORD's radar, and he just kept bumping people in their mining barges until they were ready to tear out their hair.  They couldn't maneuver, they couldn't stay in range of a rock, they couldn't even warp away to dock.

In short, the only way to get rid of this pest would have been to suicide-gank him, and he was too fast and too well-tanked; he only needed to be able to survive for about 15 seconds or so, long enough for CONCORD to vaporize whoever was attacking him.  Nothing but a battleship could possibly hit him hard enough quickly enough, and that battleship would then be doomed.

Then the Tier-3 battlecruisers were released.

After one frustrating night of mining that turned into a night of getting punted all over a belt by the griefer, I was sent a mail with the griefer's fit - while he'd been making a pest of himself, other people had managed to run ship scans on him and doped out what he had on his Stabber.  And I realized that, theoretically, the just-released Tornado battlecruiser might be able to do the job.  Killing the griefer would require massive alpha damage, targeted to his weakness - he had a strong shield, but he hadn't reinforced against shielding's natural EM weakness - so the natural weapon of choice would be the 1400mm artillery cannon.  Their rate of fire is slow enough that you'd think you could brew a cup of coffee as they cycle, but the amount of damage they deal all at once is, on paper, terrifying.

I'd theorycrafted a fit that would let me slam him with a warp scrambler (take his oversized microwarpdrive out of play) and multiple stasis webifiers, plus modules and rigging so that I could keep pace with him when he was webbed, plus a full rack of eight 1400's loaded with faction ammo tailored to the hole in his shield tank.

Ultimately, the griefer gave up and moved out of the system before I could test the Tornado fit, and I passed the Tornado on to someone who felt he could use it in faction warfare.

But the sense of how powerful those guns could be never left.

I picked up a Maelstrom for mission running - the only other ship capable of mounting that full rack of 1400's - but while I was bringing my skills up to par, I generally armed it with either autocannons or 1200mm artillery, because the 1400's are incredibly greedy for powergrid and CPU.  1200's are shorter-ranged and not nearly as powerful per shot, but they fire twice as fast and track better than the 1400's, as well as being much more forgiving where a ship's powergrid and CPU are concerned.  Finally, I reached a point where I could fit the 1400's on the Maelstrom without gutting my shield tank to make room for them ... and then I got a near-perfect mission to test them out: Guristas Extravaganza.

Guristas Extravaganza differs somewhat from its more popular cousin, Angels Extravaganza, in that ships will camp at longer range, out to 50km, and their electronic-warfare method of choice is ECM jamming, which will wipe out any target locks you have.  If you don't know how long you'll be able to hold the lock on your target, you'll want to make every shot count, and the 1400's massive alpha damage is just what the doctor ordered..  Of course, the 1400's are nearly useless against cruisers and frigates, but two salvos can blow through a battleship's shields and armor and leave it with its structure half-gone.

And if you turn those guns on a battlecruiser?  One salvo will take it from full shields and armor to thirty percent structure. If it's lucky.  More often than not, it was one shot, one kill.

And don't let the optimal range numbers fool you - even if the optimal on the 1400's as I had them set up was 33 kilometers, that was coupled with a 55km falloff, which meant that any one gun had a 50-50 chance of hitting a target out to 88km, so those Gurista battleships orbiting at 50km have something like an 80% chance of getting the full effect of a salvo.  Sure, you can only throw three salvos a minute, but not many NPC ships will be able to weather those three salvos.

Eight 1400's have to be respected.

And since militias are fielding Tornados, which are probably fitted either for autocannon's nasty sustained damage, or for "8x1400mm of FU," to quote Corelin of the Mad Haberdashers, it worries me that the next time I see one of those things, I'll be next in line for a one-hit kill.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Some things you just don't do

Things I've learned:

Don't engage a cruiser or a battlecruiser with a stealth bomber one-on-one.

I made that mistake earlier this week, when Gallente militia swarmed our low-sec rally point in Black Rise.  I was keeping eyes on a complex warp-in gate, a fleet-mate was engaged with a Rupture, getting hit hard, and pleading for assistance.

I was tired, and I'd just taken a NyQuil for a bad cough, so I was mentally primed to do something stupid.

I decloaked my Nemesis and engaged with torpedoes.

And I got cut to pieces.

I'd forgotten to turn on my sensor damps, and I'd engaged too close; I was shredded in seconds.  Once I'd docked my pod, I decided it was probably time to call it a night.

Fast forward a couple of days.  I've run a couple of missions in hi-sec to earn back the ISK to buy a new Nemesis - got lucky with "Silence the Informant" and scored an Arbalest heavy launcher, which pays for a cover-ops cloak all by itself - and I've bought the hull, cloak, and fittings, and brought them all back to Black Rise.

Then one of the old hands calls out: any corp mates in Black Rise willing to help test out a super-tanking Drake?  (It's one of our standard fits, but he's testing out how good it would be with the addition of a couple of T2 shield rigs; he manufactures rigs in bulk and can spare a couple to put on a Drake.)  I figure, what the heck; it'll give me a chance to test the gank on the Nemesis in somewhat more controlled conditions.

The test goes rather well.  We discover that the Drake can absorb a hell of a lot of damage, more than one Nemesis can throw with my skill set (with standard Inferno torpedoes, anyway; I wasn't going to waste faction ammo on a friendly); I discover that with two good sensor damps, I can chop a Drake's targeting range to less than my optimal torpedo range.  I also discover that a Dominix can get its tank broken by a Drake and a Nemesis acting in tandem.

Then the Drake throws one volley of missiles at me, just to see how well I can tank it.

One startled squawk later, it is clear that one volley of Scourge Fury heavy missiles will one-shot a Nemesis.

On the bright side, the cloak was salvageable from the wreckage, so I don't have to shell out for a new one. And I did get reimbursed for the hull, plus a little extra for the humiliation factor.

We all learned something.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Small victories

The situation: Our CEO had just recruited a new guy to the corp, who was interested in linking up with us and starting to run faction warfare ops.

The problem: The guy and his Prophecy-class battlecruiser were docked up in Rens, in Minmatar space, and since his application had been accepted, he was now a legitimate target for hostile factions.  And the direct routes to our hi-sec base of operations led him through the depths of Gallente space, where he'd be running from the Navy as well as the factions.

The call: "Hey, Marc. You're an armor tanker, right?"  (I am.)  "How would you fit a ship with the best possible armor tank if you needed to put on a couple of warp core stabilizers?"

The solution: In the middle of dinking around with potential fits (need the stabs to break warp scramblers, need a damage control, need resists - put on a plate? Sacrifice speed for buffer?), I decided: the hell with it, let's just find the guy another route out.

Over to the Dotlan maps, tell the computer to plot a course that avoids Essence and Sinq Laison, and voila!  Two jumps get him from Minmatar space to Ammatar space, then three more jumps and he's in Amarr hi-sec, and from there, he's got a clear run through friendly empire space to the corp's home.  I put up the waypoints in corp chat and let him know that if he's willing to make a somewhat longer trip, that route should be safe for most of the way.

He decides to go for it.

Him: "Holy @#$%!  Just got jumped undocking from Rens!"
Me: Oh, sweet mother of mercy, I just got him killed, didn't I?
Him: "It's OK, I warped away."
Me: *phew*

Him: "OK, I'm in Gallente space now."
Me: What the frak?! Did I miss a waypoint?
Him: "Warping through. OK so far."
Me: Please, whoever's watching over New Eden, I don't want my screwups to be responsible for getting two corpmates slagged in the same week...
Him: "OK, I'm in Caldari space."
Me: Thank you, whoever and wherever you are.

Him: "Docking up now."
Me: "Woohoo!"
Corpmates: "Welcome to the war."

It's not a killmail on a Titan, but it's a positive.  Gives the corp some extra firepower, and if you can establish a bit of rapport right at the beginning, it can help out when you're in the thick of things.

Especially since I've actually been doing the corp a bit of good from back in hi-sec, while in low-sec I've pretty much been getting myself shredded.  Still prone to dumb mistakes - although, to be fair, they haven't been hellaciously costly ones.  (Tried to get an Iteron into low-sec to collect a bunch of bargain Cormorants - ran right into a massive gate camp on the first jump and got melted and podded.  On the bright side, the Itty was empty, so all I really lost were the modules and rigs.  The implants that got blasted out of my head were probably the most expensive part of the loss...)