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.