Friday, 24 February 2017

Nóatún


In Norse mythology, Nóatún (Old Norse "ship-enclosure") is the abode of the god Njörðr, described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located "in heaven".

So, I have a citadel.

It didn't actually go down the way I expected it to. What I expected was to finish training into Blockade Runners, to buy an Astrahus, nervously haul it to Vanaheim early some weekday morning, and then nervously anchor it at what I hoped would be a quiet time with no dangerous connections.

What actually happened was that I got an Evemail from my w-space neighbor offering me his Astrahus. It turns out, he's not been logging in much recently, and an abandoned Astrahus is an Astrahus waiting to get blown up. So as long as I give him docking rights - not a problem, obviously - he was happy to transfer ownership.

So, I have a citadel.

Because I've been busy, I'd been putting off looking at the details of fitting and fighting an Astrahus, but now I need to get on that ASAP.

Still, it's the good kind of problem to have.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Well, that sucked


I lost a Bestower trying to get out of Jita.

This is why I've been trying to train up to a T2 industrial (I'm currently 6 days out). Until recently hauling was something I could ignore. At most I was shifting some T2 modules and frigates; anything bigger I could contract to Red Frog.

But since moving into Vanaheim, I've had to make regular fuel runs. These are non-negotiable, and the windows of opportunity are too small to contract the work to haulers. So I end up doing them myself. In fragile little T1 haulers. It was an accident waiting to happen, and I just had to hope I could get lucky long enough to be able to sit in something with a better tank.

Normally, I try to get this stuff done in the mornings, when it's quieter. But this past weekend didn't give me a good connection until Sunday night. You can say with the benefit of hindsight that I shouldn't have put the clone tags in there - I made up my shopping list before I knew when I would be hauling, and it just didn't occur to me to change anything - but the ganker doubled his money on just the fuel, so I don't think they made any difference.

This isn't a whine post, by the way; I'll make up the loss with a couple of day's worth of PI. No, it's more that this is my first time being suicide ganked, and I was impressed at just what a slick operation it was.

It starts with me undocking from Jita. Like every good little pirate, I have an insta-undock, which I used, and as soon as I hit 'warp' I also activated my Adaptive Invulnerability Field II for max ehp.

But somebody had parked a freighter across the undock point so I, and many other people, were unable to get into warp because we were crashing into this freighter.

A more experienced hauler would have redocked immediately, but I was already around the worst of it, so in another second or two I would be in warp.

Except, actually, I was sitting in my pod. And this guy was getting CONCORDed.

Circumstances change, but explosions are one thing I'm used to in this game, so I immediately understood what had happened and redocked. I then reshipped to a Sigil, to scoop as much of my loot as I could.

Except it wasn't there. Nothing was there. In the time it took for me to dock, reship, and undock, my loot had been scooped and my wreck destroyed or salvaged. Ditto for the Tornado. Within, what, 20 seconds, there were absolutely no signs of a suicide gank that might warn their next target to stay docked up. Even the freighter running interference had docked up or warped out.

Pretty slick, you have to admit. But it gets better.

I now have a kill right. I make the kill available to the public, and set the cost to 1 million ISK. I'm not trying to make any money here; I want someone to use it.

And they do. Almost immediately this happens. But the killer is not actually the person who activated the kill right. That would be this fellow. What immediately jumps out at me is how these guys seem to keep running into each other, and always in very cheap ships. I suspect this guy is a friend who activates kill rights when the ganker is in a cheap ship, sometimes making the kill himself when nobody else seems interested.

And like that, the kill right is gone.

Very interesting.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Astero v Caracal


On Friday night my static led me to a low sec pocket in Lonetrek. It was far too hot to do anything useful, but I suspected that it would be ideal come Saturday morning.

And so it proved. I quickly found a Thrasher and a Venture to explode, and just missed an Eagle who decided that he wasn't interested in helping me test my tank. So I was on a bit of a roll when I managed to point a Caracal in a remote asteroid belt.

Now, I had some serious reservations about this fight. The Caracal has a reputation as a frigate killer, thanks to the RLML that it tends to pack. In addition, the low fitting requirements of the RLML means that the Caracal can pack a massive tank, so even though it has no tanking bonus, it's often one of the beefier T1 cruisers out there.

Still, there's no point in flying a 100 million ISK frigate if you are going to run from T1 cruisers. So in I went, ready to pop some Synth Exile as soon as I had a sense of his dps.

It was the typical approach under cloak. He had actually just finished up the rats, and was looting the wrecks, so I was taking a few risks here. Not only did I not have the rat's dps to help me, but he might just warp out naturally while I was waiting out my cloak timer. Still, carpe diem and all that.

After landing tackle and deploying my drones, we set into each other. Here I was helped enormously by his apparent lack of a web. While I may be a drone and laser boy right now, I've spent a lot of time flying missile ships in the past, and I know from experience how much difference an unwebbed afterburner makes to your applied dps. This was a real stroke of good fortune.

It became clear that not only would I not need to take any Exile, I wouldn't even need to overheat my repairer. My opponent was pretty sharp, though, and he noticed every bit as quickly as I did. So he did what everybody who can't break my tank does, and went after my drones.

Ugh.

Still, I was ready for it, and we played a game of whack-a-mole. He would start firing at one of my Hobgoblins and I'd recall that drone and release an Acolyte (which are much tougher). By the time he started the Acolytes, my Hobgoblins had recharged their shields and I was sending them out for a second time, replacing the retreating Acolytes.

All this time, I was spamming D-scan. The system wasn't busy, but we were most certainly not alone. My primary concern was a Stratios that had been moving through the nearby systems, but which I could not link to a specific pilot. I had Conflag loaded, and I set it to overheat once he got to about 30% shields.

In the end, his lack of web hurt him with the drones as well. Unable to prevent them from zipping back to my drone bay once they started taking fire, he was only able to destroy one of them before he exploded. A poor consolation prize for losing a Caracal, I suspect.


Afterthoughts

Yes, I need to train Gallente Frigate V. And a whole bunch of other things. Living in a wormhole solo has meant using skills that I could ignore previously, and I've spent the past month training w-space related skills. I could spend the next three months just working on scanning, hauling, mining, and exploring skills that I use regularly.

As much as I complain, though, it's actually a good thing, because it means the game is still fresh. Too many 'bittervets' struggle to find anything they actually want to train. That is most certainly NOT my problem!

I also need to think again about dropping the ECM drones. I've never actually used them, but going after my drones is clearly going to be a 'thing' for above class pilots that can't shake me. And it makes total sense - pull my teeth, and I'll go away.

My thought is that some Caldari Hornets might be a good choice. It gives me a third damage type, they are nearly as tough as Acolytes, and they do nearly as much damage as Hobgoblins.

After all, the next Caracal I tackle may not have left his web at home.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Astero v Moa


I've been on a bit of an Eve break. I still logged in, but mostly I just did my PI, and sat in corp chat and on voice comms, listening to the banter.

Way back when, one of my most popular posts was called 'The things I don't say', and it was about the challenges that face a solo pvper that rarely make it into the stories. Those challenges are as real today as they were back then. On top of that, though, I've got all the admin that goes into running a solo wormhole operation. That can make for some pretty exhausting play sessions. When Eve starts to feel too much like work, it's time to take a beak.

Which is what I did.

Refreshed and eager to update my killboard, I logged in to find my low sec connection was to a low sec pocket close to Jita. And that close to Jita, the systems were packed.

Undeterred, I bounced around under my cloak, looking for someone I could isolate. When I encountered a Moa at an event plex that was more than 14 AU from most of the celestials in the system, I jumped at the opportunity for an above class kill.

Now, the Moa has a tanking bonus, but I would probably be firing into his worst resists (assuming he tanked for the rats) if I launched Acolytes. He also only has three (unbonused) drones, and no tracking bonus on his Medium Hybrid Turrets. I figured I could do this.

So I uncloaked, and dropped into 3 km orbit after landing a web and a scram. Here's when things got interesting.

The Moa was clearly set up for pvp, as he counter-webbed and scrammed me. This was a good news/bad news situation. On one hand, it meant that the pilot was expecting trouble, and ready for it. On the other hand, it meant that I probably wouldn't have to break some irritatingly strong sustained tank - a buffer tank was much more likely.

One immediate consequence of the web, though, was for me to tighten my orbit. Since angular velocity is proportional to the ratio of transversal speed and distance, I needed to decrease the distance between us as he forced my transversal speed to drop. I wasn't quite sure where to draw the line (too close and my own turret would have difficulty tracking), so I tried a 1.5 km orbit as a starting point.

Keeping an eye on D-scan, I assessed the situation. I was not taking any serious damage from the Moa's guns, but it was too early to say yet whether I was landing effective hits myself. My drones were doing good work, and the Moa's drones were MIA. Did he not have any, or was he just holding them back? There were three abandoned drones on the grid, so perhaps he had warped out at some point, and forgotten to reconnect?

I was still tweaking my orbit as the Moa's shields hit 75% and a Cynabal and a Tristan appeared on D-scan. Shortening my scan to 1 AU, I could see that they were indeed on their way here, and not just passing through.

Here, geometry matters. As a far flung plex, all the warpable celestials were in the direction of the warp-in point. If I tried to burn away from the Moa in that direction, I'd be leaping into the arms of our visitors. But if I burned directly away from them, I'd end up turning around as soon as I aligned to warp, giving the Moa a chance to web and scram me a second time.

My solution, then, was to burn straight up, overheating my prop mod. I have no doubt that the Moa was spamming 'approach', but the T2 web (extra speed reduction) and T2 scram (keeping his mwd shut down until I was clear to warp away) gave me the edge I needed, and I steadily opened the distance.

Unfortunately, this gave the Moa some clear shots at me as I burned directly away. The Cynabal had also landed, and was opening fire with artillery. At least there I had some transversal velocity to help me evade. But my shields were stripped away, and my armor was dropping fast. I activated, and overheated, my repairer and held my breath.

As soon as I saw the Moa's scram drop, I started spamming 'warp'. As I had hoped, my new path took me above the Cynabal, rather than towards it, and did not allow the Moa a second chance to scram me.

I entered warp with some hull damage and two models nearly dead from heat damage. I immediately cloaked up, and bounced to a second celestial as soon as I landed. Calling it a night, I went back to Vanaheim to repair.


Afterthoughts

An inconclusive fight, to be sure.

But I still learned that I can get under medium blasters while webbed, so long as they have no tracking bonus. And I'm fairly certain that, if not interrupted, I could have taken the Moa.

I look forward to trying again some time.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Becoming dangerous


While I was away from Eve, one of the games I was involved in was Albion Online.

The game is not yet released, although it is expected to be (at long last) some time this year. I was/am one of the alpha testers, and the game developers have expressly set out to create a cross-platform sword and sorcery sandbox game heavily inspired by Eve (which is what drew me to the game in the first place). There are a huge number of Eve players among the beta testers, and several large Eve corps have guilds in Albion.

One of the questions that came up very early in the development process was how we encourage pvp. Drawing on my Eve experience, this is what I wrote:

I agree that we want more people to pvp. How would I do it?

Well, first I would give it time. I know from playing EVE that some people just jump right in, but most like to get comfortable with the game and game mechanics, and also build up enough wealth that they can afford the losses pvp brings. And they also need time to explore the other things that are more important to them than pvp before they will make time for pvp. A four week alpha is not long enough for that, so I suspect that when we hit release the problem will, to a certain extent, solve itself.

The other thing I would do (and this is where the game falls down) is make pvp more spontaneous. Right now, because of the flagging system, I have to know that I want to pvp ahead of time. And for a lot of people that means it's never going to happen.

But in EVE, you get a lot of people out in low sec (yellow zones) looking to make a little more cash, with no thought of pvp but how to avoid it while going about their merry.

And then one day they encounter someone a little weaker than themselves. Perhaps somebody blunders into their exploration site, or warps to their asteroid belt while they are ratting. And they think to themselves 'I bet I could take that noob'.

So they attack. It wasn't their plan. It's not what they set out to do. But an opportunity came up, so they give it a try.

And it works. They liked it. They want to do it again! Slowly, another predator emerges from what used to be a carebear. And they realize that they've become dangerous. That they are now one of those guys that everyone warns people about when they talk about low sec. And they decide they love this game.

The current system actively prevents that kind of encounter, and needs to be changed.

I was reminded of this post, made years ago now, when I was helping some new players on the Eve forums find their feet in w-space. In particular:

So this morning i'm running my little combat sites, blapping sleepers half afk. Then im warp disrupted! 

I **** myself, look at whats attacking me, it's a Stratios! and a curse! 

So rather than accepting my fate I overloaded everything, got within optimal and then this happened.

https://zkillboard.com/kill/60022617/ 

I did die to the curse and hit survey planet instead of warp so lost my pod to the curse aswell but **** me, that was the most hyped i have been in this game ever! First proper solo kill! 

Don't think they expected my Harbinger with t1 guns to be doing nearly 600dps with wormhole effects. 

I love wormholes and i'm never moving out. 

The circumstances vary, but the results are the same. Another pilot realizes that they've become dangerous, and that they love this game.

Don't ever change, Eve Online.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Another look at the Astero


I can (mostly) show you my current Astero fit by linking this lossmail. Just replace the Data Analyzer with a Stasis Webifier II and you have my pvp fit.

Yes, that's a pve lossmail. What happened? I discovered Ghost Sites. With my face.

I didn't atually work out what happened until doing some after-the-fact research. It turns out that some exploration sites are actually giant bombs. Gosh, how fun.

RIP little Astero. I made well over a billion ISK in that little ship. I liked it so much I immediately bought another one. In that sense, Vanaheim has been a huge success. I can lose the ships that I like to fly without worrying about costs.

But on to the fit. It evolved from my earlier fit:

Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Coreli A-Type Small Armor Repairer

1MN Y-S8 Compact Afterburner
Small Cap Battery II
Faint Epsilon Scoped Warp Scrambler
X5 Enduring Stasis Webifier

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Gatling Pulse Laser II, Scorch S

Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump II
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Following my fight with the Gnosis, I knew I needed to up my dps. So the first thing I did was drop an EAMNII for a Drone Damage Amplifier II. That brought me up to 145 dps from 125 dps. But it also dropped my ehp from 5.71k to 5.11k and my repair strength from 145/176 hps to 114/148 hps.

I didn't like that drop, but it was necessary. I comfort myself that I still repair (cold) as much as my Tormentor did with an overheated SAAR. With twice as many EHP.

I took a look at adding a second DDA, but I didn't like those numbers. I'll go down that road if it proves necessary, but I think I should start by testing a less extreme change. I used the CPU freed up to upgrade my tackle modules to T2.

So if I couldn't add more drone damage, could I add more turret damage? I tried a DLPII instead of the GPLII, but that only gave me an extra 1 dps, and the better tracking on the GPLII probably meant that I would actually apply more with the GPL in most circumstances.

A Small Focused Pulse Laser, on the other hand, brought me up to 150 dps. Heat gave me another 5 dps, and Conflag (against larger targets) gave me another 4 dps. So I could be doing up to 159 dps against above class targets, and 155 in frigate brawls.

Fitting a SFP would mean freeing up a lot of power grid. I could do that by dropping down to a meta Cap Battery, but the reduced cap flow of the meta module, combined with the increased cap demands of the SFP meant that my cap would become much harder to manage. This was especially true with the cap hungry T2 web and scram, which I would need to drop.

I really didn't want to do that, because the extra range on the scram can be so important for snagging a target, and the extra 5% speed reduction on the T2 web helps the relatively slow Astero better control the range and speed of the target. Seeing I as my tracking would take a massive hit with this change, I felt that the T2 web was pretty important.

So I looked at using a Small Republic Fleet Cap Battery. This had the same low fitting requirements as the meta module, but gave me much better cap regen. It's only about 13 million ISK, which is a reasonable spend on a fit costing about 100 million.

Sold.

For the record, I did look at non-laser turrets. The only turrets that would do more damage than the SFPL were some of the blasters, which gave me an extra 10+ dps, depending on which turret I used. This was very tempting, but the short range persuaded me that this was not a good idea. While fine against larger, slower ships where I should have complete control of the range, there are plenty of small, fast ships that can effectively scram kite me.

This fight against a Hookbill is a good example of that. Scorch helped me win that fight by allowing me to apply full dps regardless of the range. By fitting a blaster, I would be unable to take that kind of fight with any reasonable expectation of victory.

My first test of this fit was against the Oracle I posted earlier in the week. While not the most heavily tanked battlecruiser, it was a good initial result.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

300


Yesterday Blogger told me that I had reached my 300th post. That wasn't quite true, as they had included a draft post in that count that had been written, but not yet published. This is my 300th post, and I've edited yesterday's post accordingly.

So, 300 posts of (more or less) pvp related hijinks, mishaps, and shenanigans. Hitting this milestone (or rather, tripping over it, seeing as it took me completely by surprise) has given me pause. Why am I still doing this, after all these years?

This blog started as pvp learning journal. But that hasn't really been true for quite some time. Obviously, I still pvp, and I still post kill reports, but the 'lessons' tend to be run of the mill mistakes or fitting tweaks. I'm well past the point where every fight brings new insight.

Thinking about it, I suppose I still blog for two main reasons.

First, I like Eve, and I like thinking about Eve. Blogging forces me to organize my thoughts. I have written many posts that I have deleted without publication, simply because - once forced to put my ideas into a coherent form - I realized that I was wrong, or that my point wasn't as good as I had first believed it was.

This has the side benefit of providing concrete examples for future reference. Being able to link some of my PI posts on the Eve forums, for example, has saved me having to type out the same thing in half a dozen different threads.

Second, blogging makes me a part of the Eve community in a way that I would not otherwise be. Professionally, I have a certain niche expertise, and a large part of my job involves explaining to non-experts how my subject area affects them. So you could validly argue that I talk for a living.

This means that when I log on to Eve, I'm quite happy to stay quiet. I monitor corp chat, and I log into voice comms, but mostly I let other people do the bantering while I enjoy the experience of not having to say anything for a change. But that's not actually a great way to be part of the Eve community, and being a primarily solo pilot exacerbates the problem, so I suppose that blogging is what I do to compensate.

But whatever my current reasons, I wouldn't be blogging with the inspiration of the other great Eve blogs out there, past and present. You can find some of the current ones in my sidebar, and I have been forced to prune a wide range of once fantastic, but now defunct blogs, such as Eve FNG and Fiddler's Edge.

Three blogs from days gone by deserve special mention, though. Both Eve Altruist and Jester's Trek were so hugely influential that I cannot bring myself to remove them from my sidebar. Nobody did technical pvp writing like Azual Skoll, and Ripard Teg brought the politics and meta of New Eden to the little guy like no one else. Both were truly great, iconic blogs in their day.

But the blog that influenced me the most on a personal level was Ka Jolo's long abandoned blog. Although he stopped updating months before I even logged on for the first time, it was his blog that made me want to play Eve, and made me want to be a Tusker. What he started still echoes through New Eden today.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?