Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Slash & burn


One of the things I've been doing recently is running the anoms in Vanaheim. I had over three dozen of them built up, and since it was ISK just sitting there waiting to be collected, I fit out a Gila and started running the sites when I had the spare time. It's not hugely lucrative - I'm in a C1 after all - but it's easy enough to do. After taking into account salvage, it's probably about 15-20 million ISK per anom.

I'd worked the number of sites remaining to just over a dozen, with most of those being ore sites (that I wasn't really sure what to do with), when a new signature popped up.

For those who haven't done this, anoms are typically run by warping your ship to zero, dropping (and orbiting) a mobile depot, and deploying a mobile tractor unit. The depot lets you refit on the fly to get your balance of tank and dps right (although for a C1, you just want max dps), and the tractor means you don't ever have to move off the depot.

However, this is a high risk set-up, because nobody needs to scan you down, and anyone warping to the anom will land right on top of you. So you only do this sort of thing when your wormhole is on lockdown, or virtually so (ie, your static is open to Aridia). When the new signature popped up, the fun was officially over until I made sure it wasn't a new wormhole.

Seeing probes on D-scan immediately after the sig told me beyond any doubt that this was a new wormhole, but I could also see that the newcomer was an Anathema. I decided to try and finish up my current site before docking up. I was extra alert, though, constantly refreshing D-scan.

Which meant that I saw the Stratios when it jumped into the system. That meant the fun was over right now. True, I had warp stabs that I could fit via the depot, but the Gila can only run three of them, and any experienced w-space pilot plans for warp stabs. For all I knew there was a Sabre waiting to jump in on me and launch a bubble. I warped out, leaving the depot and the tractor unit behind in favour of assuring the safety of my ship

Reshipping to a Purifier, I decided to check out my visitors. The Stratios had been joined by a Confessor, and they were clearly camping the tractor unit while trying to look like they weren't camping the tractor unit.

Visiting their home system, I found a C4 that had been completely stripped bare. No sigs (besides wormholes) and no anoms. I think they had put up a stick on every single moon, and had citadels as well. A serious operation, then.

Without giving me an opportunity to isolate anyone (despite trying several times to do so), or any soft targets, they proceeded to strip-mine Vanaheim, clearing out all the remaining anoms (I'd not left them any sigs) over the course of the day. It was well practiced enough that I'm certain this is their MO. 

Roll the hole until you find something with resources. Then take it all.

Once they realised I wouldn't be coming back for the tractor unit any time soon, they put it to the sword, and put my depot into reinforced mode, although that I was able collect after the connection closed.

Most of my pvp has been in k-space recently, so it was interesting to run into an active w-space corp. Makes me miss my time in Chaos. I've been back a few times, but the Tuskers, in general, are going through a quiet patch, and my visits have been uneventful.

Still, it makes me realise that I've not done any actual w-space hunting in quite some time.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Reduced posting ahead

As I mentioned previously, I am one of the alpha/beta testers for Albion Online, and the final beta test has just started, with release being scheduled for 17th July.

This means that I, and the other testers, are all busy working out or builds and strategies for when things go live. While interest will fade over the course of a few weeks - there is no point building up excessive progress that is only going to be wiped - in the short term I'm just not playing as much Eve.

Eve being Eve, though, I'm actually still logging in every day, but it's mostly to reset the colonies, check on the citadel, and run a few sites. That way, when I'm ready to jump back in, I have a nice little bit of extra cash.

And if anyone is interested in Albion, feel free to buy an account through this link. This is effectively Albion's version of a Eve's buddy invite. The chance to buy in as a 'Founder' will end once the game goes live, so if you like that kind of thing, you may want to act sooner rather than later. 

Some of the benefits of being a Founder are cosmetic, but the you are also getting gold (the Albion equivalent of PLEX) at a discounted rate, as well as an early start to the final game. It's this last benefit that's the real kicker, enabling you to claim land or start industry before the rest of the pack. With so many Eve players in the game, you can imagine how much planning is done within each guild on how best to leverage this advantage!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rolling a C1

C1 wormholes have a total mass of 1 billion kg. Because any individual wormhole can vary from the average by up to 10%, that means the total mass can be anywhere between 0.9 billion kg and 1.1 billion kg.

With a 20 million kg mass restriction, closing a fresh C1 takes anywhere from 45 to 55 jumps. Taking polarization into account, that means spending roughly two hours jumping back and forth to close a C1 wormhole solo. 

In theory.

In practice, you can do it in about 8-10 jumps, with the right setup. That takes about 20 minutes. The trick is the difference in when the mass restriction is checked, and when the mass jumped is checked.

Obviously, the mass restriction is checked before you even enter the wormhole. This makes sense, as the entire point of the restriction is to prevent large ships from entering the wormhole! However, the mass jumped is checked when you come out the other side. So if your mass changes while transiting the wormhole, you can use up a larger amount of mass than you might think looking at the mass restriction.

The easiest way to increase your mass mid-jump, of course, is to turn on your prop mod. A 50mn prop mod increases your mass by 50 million kg. If you have a Higgs Anchor on your ship, that effect is doubled to 100 million kg, or 10% of the total mass of the wormhole.

In my view, the ideal ship for rolling C1 wormholes is the Gnosis. There are two reasons for this. First, the unaltered mass of the Gnosis is 10 million kg, which means that it comes in at 20 million kg after adding the Higgs Anchor, which is exactly the mass limit of a C1 wormhole. 

Second, the Gnosis has amazing agility. With two Nanofiber Internal Structure II, it has less than a 3 second align time. At some point the numbers will go wrong, and you will get rolled out of your wormhole. That align time means you have a real shot at getting your Gnosis to high sec. Throw on some warp stabs and a decent shield tank, and it will take more than a chance engagement on a gate to prevent you reaching safety.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Not quite working

In the past three days, my only kill has been an afk Venture. This is because I've managed to blow about a half a dozen otherwise good kills in a number of very silly ways.

Hunting a Drake in my stealth bomber, I somehow managed to decloak myself - I'm not sure how, as there was nothing near me - but I didn't notice until I started wondering why he was warping out.

And because I'd not bothered to overheat my scrams when entering the system, when I landed right on top of an exploration ship I managed to land my  initial points, only to watch his speed from his first mwd cycle carry him out of range.

And because I'd not seen any signs of warp stabs on his killboard, I didn't bother to refit to a second point when tackling a Procurer, so he just warped away. Now I know why there are no signs of warp stabs on his killboard...

And so on. Silly stuff. Eve is a demanding game, and it is all too easy to lose your edge. In my case, apparently needing to do other things for a week is long enough for the rust to start setting in.

How very frustrating.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Impel: a w-space review

I knew that I needed something better than a T1 hauler for shifting goods, whether that was running fuel to the POS, or running PI to the market. Training for a Deep Space Transport was a no-brainer, and I just wish that I could have finished the training before suffering any losses.

I went with the Impel primarily because I already had ranks in Amarr Industrial, so the training time was a little bit shorter. Equally, armor tanked DSTs have slightly higher max hull points, and their smaller signature radius means they take less damage overall. When you are worried about high sec suicide ganks - my main concern, since I transition directly from Vanaheim to k-space - the armor tanked transports make a lot of sense.

Now that I've spent some time using the Impel, though, I think it has a few shortcomings that a shield tanked DST might not share. Anyone considering training for a w-space DST may find these observations useful.


Mass restrictions

To my credit, I did check that the Impel would fit through a C1 wormhole before training the skills. With a base mass of 19,500,000 kg, it fits just fine, and in fact is slightly lighter than the Bustard, which has a base mass of 20,000,000 kg. However, it did not occur to me that adding plates would alter this mass; I either fly shield ships or active armor tanks, typically.

As it turns out, none of the 800mm plates that the Impel usually fits will keep the mass below the magic 20 million kg mark. This means that a 'typical' Impel will need to off-line it's plate if it wants to transition from k-space to w-space (or vice versa) via a C1 system.

Given how incredibly dubious that seems, I've gone with an alternative fit that uses two 400mm plates. With max skills (or faction plates) that works fine. But it does mean losing about 10% of your ehp because of the resistance mod you give up for the extra plate.


Cloak-MWD

The Impel cannot easily do the oft mentioned cloak-mwd trick. For those who don't know, the trick is used to get slow aligning ships into warp relatively safely, and works as follows:

You align (not warp!) to your destination, and then hit 'cloak'. Done properly, you are only visible for about a second, making it difficult for anyone on the gate to lock you.

For five seconds after activating your cloak, you can still activate modules that would not start an aggression timer. So about four seconds after cloaking (which gives your ship time to get pointed in the right general direction) you activate your mwd, and then immediately turn it off (you only want one cycle).

The mwd increases your speed (subject to your cloak's speed penalty) as you align. Just as your mwd cycle finishes, you deactivate your cloak and hit 'warp'. As the cycle finishes, you will find yourself aligned to your target, moving faster than 75% of your base speed, meaning you instantly enter warp, with no time for anyone to lock you.

Or at least, that's the theory. This only works, though, if one cycle of an mwd (under cloak) can get you to 75% of your base speed. The Impel is just a little too heavy. I've put a Caldari Navy Cloaking Device (lowest speed penalty) and a 50mn Microwarp Drive II (highest thrust short of deadspace modules) on the ship, and I only reach about 86 m/s by the end of the mwd cycle; I need to hit 96 m/s in order to reach warp.

I'm probably one agility mod/implant away from hitting that target, but agility mods compete for fitting space with my tank, and I'm not a big fan of non-training implants (I don't want to have to worry about which clone I'm in when jumping into one of my ships). At some point I'll probably just bite bullet and get the implant, but it's an extra hassle that I might have avoided with a shield DST that has low slots for an agility mod.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Topping up

This week is likely to be a bit light on the pvp side of things. Work had me traveling last week, so mostly I was just logging on to do admin. Still, I did finish training Gallente Frigate V, and I've got a few new things I hope to try in the coming week. They just aren't directly pvp related.

One of my 'challenges' over the weekend was working out what to do with my surplus funds. I have enough for a PLEX (which isn't due until the end of May), and some extra to cover ship losses and the like. but I don't like the idea of much more ISK above and beyond that just sitting there.

As I say in this post, skill points are one of the best possible ways to spend ISK in this game. So, having some excess ISK, I decided to buy a few skill injectors, despite being over 50 million skill points now. I plowed these points back into some pve skills that I would never have the patience to train otherwise, as this will hopefully help me make more ISK, which I can then turn into more skill injectors.

Hopefully, this will become a semi-regular thing. My saved fuel costs alone (from having moved from a POS to an Astrahus) are worth one skill injector per month, and recently my losses have been fairly insignificant compared to my income.

Long may that continue!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tuskers v Pureblind Cartel; Tuskers v Circle of Two

This past weekend the Tuskers were under one of those periodic wardecs that the high sec corps hope will allow them to snag a hauler or two, so when I lost my Asteros, I did not want to offer them a target by shopping for a new one.

True, I could have grabbed one of my alts, but we were only about 12 hours from the end of the war. Instead, I jumped into my travel interceptor, and went to Chaos for a bit of a holiday.

I arrived in time to tangle with Pureblind Cartel. About half an hour earlier, one of my corp-mates had tackled their carrier. Although the carrier had managed to get away, the locals wanted to teach us some kind of lesson, which we welcomed, obviously. I jumped into my Secret Santa Phantasm for the fight, as it's fast become my favourite ship for cruiser fleets.

They were warping into our wormhole at range with some kind of Caracal doctrine. Caracals are cheap, tanky, and have amazing burst dps and damage projection, so that totally makes sense. However, we had the advantage of fighting on our wormhole, meaning we could just jump damaged ships through the hole to prevent loss.

The counter tactic was to try and pull us off the hole by extending their range further and further - something the Caracal excels at. Tusker fleets are notoriously hard to deal with in the absence of overwhelming numbers, though, as every pilot is operating fairly independently under the loose guidance of some of the best FCs in New Eden. 

Hoodie jumped his Machariel through the wormhole to anchor the fleet and provide supporting fire that the Caracal's just couldn't counter. The shorter ranged ships moved in and then danced away, luring the Caracals back towards the wormhole as they tried to maintain dps on a given ship long enough to destroy it, while our Scimitar made sure that didn't happen. 

Suleiman, in particular, dangled his 'nearly dead' Onyx in front of them for quite some time. Since we were pretty sure they were going to get him, I'm certain they thought it was in the bag too. But Bob smiled on our CEO, and he escaped with hull (mostly) intact.

With a 70+ km range, I mostly hung back applying dps to whomever was called primary, while being in a position to knock out tacklers trying pin down any of the ships nearer to the line of battle.

The result was a crushing victory for us, and 'gfs' were exchanged in local.

Having run a Machariel through the hole a couple of times, we decided to roll it rather than risk someone getting stuck on the other side. This took us to Impass, where some enthusiastic interdictor pilot immediately tackled two Roquals.

Well.

I reshipped into an Oracle, because this kind of fight calls for more dps than the Phantasm can manage, and the fleet warped into the fight. Circle of Two, however, are battle hardened veterans, and they are used to fighting on a scale that we just can't match. We destroyed the early responders, but then local jumped by over 100 as their real response fleet landed.

The call was to finish up the Falcon and get out. Unfortunately, a very aggressive Taranis managed to point me just as the Falcon went down. With half our fleet already in warp, there was not enough support left on grid to free me. Trading an Oracle for Falcon was the right call, though, especially when you take into account the difference in insurance treatment of the two hulls. That made the first engagement a net win for us.

Not content to drive us off, Circle of Two followed us back into Chaos, where the balance of power quickly shifted. Without their capitals, and without the ability to drop on us at zero, they were forced to chase us. I had jumped into another Oracle, and rejoined the fleet. This was a reversal of our earlier fight; they were on the wormhole, and we were luring them off.

They responded by sending light ships to try and tackle us or provide a warp-in for the heavier ships. This meant that we needed to be careful how far away we got from the wormhole, and we also needed to hit tacklers (and wrecks) fast as anything that could be warped to was a potential threat. In the end, they couldn't make anything stick, and they went home empty handed.

This second fight was very nearly a flawless victory. Unfortunately, Jaxley got a bad warp-in, and he lost an Orthrus. So from an ISK perspective, the second engagement was a net loss for us.

Having been the victim of a bad warp-in myself, I certainly feel for Jaxley. Even if you are given a 'safe' warp-in, you don't actually land for a good 30+ seconds, and a great deal can change in that time. You land alone, and often too far from your allies to be supported. Warping to reinforce a fleet is often one of the most dangerous parts of the fight.


Afterthoughts

It was great to fly with the corp again. Fleet actions will never be my main thing, but they make a nice change of pace. 

I'm slowly getting to the point where I can 'see' what the fleet is doing, and how the fight is progressing, rather than just having a confusing blob on my overview. I'm also finding my preferred role in fleet fights; I love flying long ranged anti-tackle/dps ships, like the Phantasm or the Oracle, but not the short ranged heavy tackle/dps, like the Gila. Too much 'eye of the storm' going on there, and I'm still not interpreting fleet movements fast enough to be able to do that properly.