Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The value of intel

So I was bouncing around Placid - which is an ironic name for a FW region - when I spotted a Merlin at a large FW 'plex. 

These 'plexes don't have acceleration gates, although they do have a massive decloaking radius around the beacon. However, if the geometry favours you, you can warp in at range, and work out where to warp in from to land right on top of the ship in the 'plex. Which is what I did here.

I land on the Merlin, who seems half asleep, and because I've dropped cloak mid warp, I'm able to point him right away. I launch my drones and... nothing. He warps out.

'Warpstabs :(', I type in local.

'Yes! :))', is the reply.

Now, I could have refitted to double scrams, but he was alert now, and frankly, the kill did not seem worth my time. So I move on.

But it turns out that another pilot in the system I just left, one Alice P Liddell, was also in an Astero. And Alice also believes that carrying a second scram is a good use of her cargo capacity. So when she learned from local chat that the Merlin on D-scan was warp stabbed, she made good use of that second scram to make sure that when she jumped in on him, he didn't get away!

And because the Merlin had not had a session change, I get in on the killmail too. I like to think that, despite being in a different system, I still contributed.

The pod, of course, belonged to her alone.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Astero v Drake

I'd been travelling over the past week, so I'd had little to no Eve time. But my Friday night static connection had brought me to Lonetrek, which had been very good to me last Saturday morning, so things were looking promising. After taking down a couple of Ventures and a Merlin, I called it a night.

The next morning, my first potential target was a Drake on D-scan. Not at any obvious belt, I checked my scanner and narrowed him down to an Outgrowth Rogue Drone Hive. I know nothing about this kind of 'plex (or pve in general, to be honest), so I warped in at 20km, in case there was an acceleration gate that would uncloak me.

There was.

Acceleration gates are a tricky thing. I have dim memories that once upon a time you could activate them without breaking cloak if you got the approach right, but that seems to have changed during my time away, as I've not been able to duplicate that effect since my return.

Instead, I drop cloak and wait for a few seconds before activating the acceleration gate. I can't help being visible on D-scan, but I can make sure that my re-cloaking delay has ended before I appear on the next grid, so at least he won't see me when I land. Note: this doesn't work in FW plexes because the beacon uncloaks you.

If he's watching short range D-scan I'm blown, but if he's watching long range D-scan, I'll be gone again before he can narrow down the distance. And it's not as if Asteros are an uncommon pve vessel. With positive sec status, I'm doing everything I can to make it easy for my targets to stay complacent.

I land in the first room, and it's empty. I make my way to the next gate, and repeat the process. This time I land in a room with two gates, and a number of wrecks. However, there is also a Drone Commandeered Battleship, which is clearly some kind of boss that he'll be back for. I move off the warp in, and wait.

Sure enough, within a few minutes the Drake lands, piloted by a 2013 character. No noob, then. With the real possibility of a maxed out tank, I decide to let him engage the DCB before making my move.

His approach is 'interesting'. At first I thought he was afterburner fit, but after mentally readjusting for the size of his ship, I realized that he had an mwd. He was pulsing this, and heading straight towards the DGB. I followed at a respectful distance.

Now, this certainly cut down the time spent in transit (the DCB was over 60km from the warp in point), but it also meant that he was presenting a very large target with no transversal to what I assumed was a tough boss-rat. Presumably, he knew that his tank could take it, but it did mean that his tank was working a lot harder than it needed to be. Which was great news for me.

And, of course, it meant that he was not aligned to warp out.

When he got the distance down to about 40km, I decided to make my move. Uncloaking, I slipped into a moderate orbit - I wanted to keep my speed up to help tank his missiles - and pointed him. I was delighted to see that his tank was hovering at max regen (25-30%), meaning I ought to be able to tip him over the edge quite easily.

I began by clearing his drones, as my fight with the Gnosis had taught me the folly of trying to skip this step. Acolytes are perfect for this, and I swept his Hornets aside easily.

My opponent was busy too, however, and hit me with a neut. That took me by surprise, because the last time I flew a Drake it had no utility high slot. However, I can tank a neut fairly well as long as my repairer is not having to run constantly, and with no web or drones he was not applying damage well enough to put me under too much pressure.

Between my dps and the DCB, which was still landing solid hits, the Drake did not last long. My research has also told me that you don't take the massive sec status hit for podding someone you have a 'limited engagement' with. In other words, if he shoots back, I can pod him, even in low sec. So I did.


Looking at this fight, I can't help but think back to Punisher 18.5. I took on and killed a Drake in my little Punisher as one of my above class kills in applying for membership with the Tuskers. History doesn't necessarily repeat, but it certainly rhymes.

Good times.

I'm glad that I'm constantly pushing the boundaries in my little Astero. Taking the little ship up against the big ship is what I enjoy most about Eve, and fights like this, where you are trying to out think as well as out fight you opponent give me the greatest satisfaction.

My current balance of gank:tank seems about right, although more of either is always a good thing. As ever, though, my fits are in a state of ongoing refinement, and I'm sure I'll end up tweaking it again sooner or later.

Friday, 24 February 2017


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Astero v Oracle

It's Friday night, and I'm bouncing around in my Astero. It's a new fit, and I'm looking for a new above-class fight to test out my tank/gank balance.

I've already managed to snuff an Imicus - he cloaked up as I landed in the belt, presumably because he wanted to scan the system without bothering with a safe.

I immediately dropped my own cloak, and burned towards where I last saw him. I get the vector right, and I manage to decloak him, which earns me the kill. I'm feeling on my game.

So when I see an Oracle on D-scan, I know I want a piece of that. The attack battlecruisers are the perfect above class kill. Their massive guns can't hit a frigate in orbit, and they have no drones to drive you away. Lightly tanked, they look good on the killboard without being too tough to take down.

I narrow it down to 1 AU, and check the belts, but he's not at any of them. I start looking at anoms, and there's only one within range. Off I go.

Landing under cloak (naturally), I see that he's 97 km off the warp-in, kiting out the rats. He's slow-boating, so I can catch him, but it will be a long, slow haul. There is a real chance that he'll finish up and leave before then. Or someone else will drop in for a visit.

The geometry favours me, though. He's roughly in line with another anom, so by warping there, and then warping back at 100km, I can close much of the distance fairly quickly. I decide to go for it, and land 17 km away from him.


Sliding into my desired orbit, I drop cloak and lock him up. I switch to conflag, and unleash my drones.

The fight, however, does not go as I expected it to. I had expected, for example, that he would be shield tanked; this leaves you the low slots for dps mods. Instead, he has an active armor tank. After my experience with the Gnosis, I'm not too pleased to see that.

Even more unexpected, though, was the medium neut. The Oracle does not have a utility high slot, so this guy has given up 12.5% of his dps to include a pvp mod. It kinda makes sense, though. If you can live with the dps loss, the ability to free yourself from irritating tacklers like me is a nice plus.

Well, not quite like me. As part of my refit, which I'll go into in another post, I'm now rocking a Small Fleet Republic Cap Battery. I have the capacitor pool of a destroyer, and 27% capacitor warfare resistance. A few cycles would be enough for most frigates, but it becomes clear very quickly that I'm going to be a much tougher nut for him to crack.

Despite refitting for dps, I'm disappointed to see that I am barely breaking his active tank. Settling in for the long fight, I turn off my prop mod - one of the fitting compromises I had to make was going with a Y-S8 afterburner instead of the more cap efficient Monopropellent models. He's got no web, though, so I don't need the afterburner to stay under his guns.

Because he can't hit me, I don't need my armor repairer. So I'm running my laser (with cap hungry Conflag), my web, and my scram. He's slowly beating me down with his neut, and I'm beating down his armor repairer.

As he's struggling to overcome my peak recharge, it suddenly becomes much easier to break his rep cycles. From this I infer that he's having to manage his cap between his repairer and his neut, and he's decided (wisely, in my view) to gamble on the neut.

I'm watching D-scan, but we are off the main track of the solar system, and nobody is disturbing us. I'm gratified to note that the fight is moving much more quickly than my fight with the Gnosis, despite the apparent similarities in fits.

In the end, it's a race between his neut, and my dps. It's a race I win.


Yeah, I feel pretty good about this one.

Looking at his fit, I can see he's set up for operating in low sec, with the defensive neut and also a cloak. His distance off the warp-in was no accident either, as he's set up to engage at very long range. Against a non-cloaky, he's have plenty of time to see them, get away, and then cloak up.

And against any most frigates, the neut is an insurance policy that should keep him safe. My fit just happens to be his kryptonite.

The ancillary armor repairer surprised me, though. That explains why it suddenly got easier to make my damage stick. What I assumed were cap issues was actually just him running out of repair paste. I'm glad to see that, though, because I was feeling pretty disheartened about my new fit's ability to break what I thought was a regular armor repairer!

Friday, 10 February 2017

We try things

Anyone who has spent time roaming (as opposed to camping) will know how frustrating safe spots and mission complexes are. You can see the juicy target, but you can't reach it.

So I've started carrying around an expanded probe launcher. Along with my mobile depot, this means that I can refit for combat scanning when the need arises.

Truth be told, I've not had great success so far. It is, after all, a long process. I need to wait 60 seconds for the mobile depot to deploy. I then need to rip everything off my Astero, and fill it with co-processors, scanning modules, and of course the expanded probe launcher. 

I then have to load combat probes, and scan down the mission runner as fast as I can.Then I need to recall my probes, and refit for combat again. Only after all that can I actually try warping in on the mission runner, and because I've wanted to do all this off D-scan, that's a long warp.

Sometimes, the mission runner finishes their mission and leaves, oblivious to my efforts. Sometimes, they see the combat probes, and dock up. But, every now and then, I find someone afk in a safe spot, and I make them regret their insouciance. 

As a great man once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Tavern Talk

As I roam through New Eden, there are any number of little things that I find interesting, but which don't really merit a post of their own. These sorts of topics are the kind of thing that I imagine pirates might chat about over a pint at their local space tavern between comparing fits and bragging about killmails.

Timing is everything

It's funny how being decisive is often its own reward. Since diving in and changing my PI setup, I've had nearly a full week of constant connections. Some of these connections have been VERY active, and I've been glad of the ability to run my PI without venturing out of the POS each day.

New Eden is BIG

One of the joys of living out of a wormhole is that I am constantly taken to new places. As far as I can remember, I had never before been to Khanid, or Aridia. Both are beautiful in the way that Amarr space tends to be; all golds and browns, with elegant jump-gates and stations.

Khanid is system after system of empty space, and is probably perfect for anyone looking to set up in remote low sec. Aridia, on the other hand, seems to have one perma-docked player in each system, like some kind of neighborhood watch.

It makes you appreciate just how vast New Eden is, and how many little communities there are that you never hear about in the way that you hear about faction warfare or the null sec blocs. There are still so many places that I've never been.

Future plans

Large Energy Turrets V finishes up this week. Next up is Amarr Industrial V, which will allow me to fly a blockade runner. It's about a two week train, and after that I will have the ability to safely move an Astrahus into Vanaheim, should I wish to do so.

Right now, I do wish to do so. But three weeks is a long time in Eve. We'll see. And I'm still torn about what to train after that.


Ratting is not working. I feel that it is important to keep my sec status up, at least in the short term, but I'm not flying a ship capable of efficient ratting. It's more something to do while waiting out criminal status before jumping into high sec.

So I've bitten the bullet and purchased some Negotiator Tags. I'll just have to pay for improved high sec access, and consider it another operating cost.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Astero v Gnosis

It had been a week full of admin. Losing two Epithals meant replacing them, and resetting 15 planetary colonies from P3 production to P2 production meant hours of fiddly clicking through the torture device CCP laughingly calls the PI 'user interface'.

So when my Saturday morning low sec static dropped me in Jovainnion, right next door to Hevrice, I was delighted. As the Tuskers HQ in k-space, I knew the area very well.

I began by hauling my PI to market so I could come back with fuel for the week. I like to get this done early, partly to get it out of the way, but also to reduce the risk of either a high sec or a low sec gank.

However, as I was jumping out of Jov, I saw a Gnosis on D-scan. And the only player in the system was relatively new...

Dropping my hauler at the nearest high sec station, I raced back for my Astero and went hunting. The Gnosis was ratting, and I caught him at the final belt! The fight was on.

The pilot was using medium drones to hunt rats, so I did not bother clearing them as they could not damage me effectively. If I did clear them, there was the risk that he would just launch more appropriate drones, which would be a pain.

I loaded conflag, and put my Hobgoblin IIs on him, and I watched his shields melt. As got him into armor, though, it was clear that he had an active tank.

My opponent might have been new, but he was pretty sharp. He could tell he couldn't hit me, so he turned off his hybrid turrets so that he could remain cap stable with the repairer on. I was breaking him, but it was slow.

In broken English, he politely offered to pay a ransom, but I declined. I wanted the stress-test of my fit more than I needed cash.

My main concern quickly became an unexpected visitor, and so I kept a close watch on D-scan. As we inched through armor, and into structure, I began to think that I really might snag this killmail.

My target had not given up, though. Seeing that I was easily tanking his drone damage, he switched his targeting to my own drones. This put me in a real bind.

If stopped to clear his drones at this point, he would quickly rep back up to full, and I'd be right back where I started. But if he was able to chew through enough of my drones before going down, I'd lack the dps to finish him off.

Local had been starting to fill up, and I didn't think I had time to effectively reset the fight. I'd have to tough it out.

One Hobgoblin went boom. I carry a flight of Hobgoblin II, a flight of Acolyte II, and a flight of ECM Hornets. So my only option was to replace the Hobgoblin with an Acolyte. Not only is the dps lower, but it's the worst damage type to bring against an armor tank. Ouch.

My dps slowed. Another Hobgoblin went boom, only to be replaced by an Acolyte.

My dps slowed to a crawl, but I was still just barely breaking him. He was at 25% structure.

Which is when my luck ran out. A Dramiel dropped in on us, and while I should be able to drive it off, it would allow the Gnosis to rep up to full. Instead, I bolted, and hoped that the Dramiel would snag the Gnosis and finish him off, leaving me with half a killmail.

Apparently the Dramiel preferred to chase me over the Gnosis, following me in warp in an effort to decloak me when he landed. It didn't work - the Astero has an amazing alignment speed, so I was already on my way to a second celestial when he arrived.

As the Gnosis fled the system, I gave him a heartfelt 'good fight!' in local. He refused to give up, fought his heart out, and was rescued by events. He'd impressed me enough that I'd already decided to contract him one of my Gnosi if I'd managed to take him down. As it turns out, that did not prove necessary.


This was exactly the test I've been looking for. An above class ship with no tanking bonus and a relatively new player. This was as good as it was going to get. And it still didn't quite work. There are a lot of reasons for that; some to do with my fit, and some to do with my tactics.

First of all, I should have cleared his drones. Flying nearly any other kind of ship, this would have been unnecessary, because his drones were no threat to me. But because the Astero's dps is so dependent on my own drones, he was able to counter me in a way that I should have expected, but didn't. If he had thought of it earlier, I wouldn't have gotten anywhere near killing him.

And it looks like I just found a reason to train Gallente Frigate V.

That raises obvious questions about my drone load-out. I have no redundancy, because I'm trying to cover as many bases as possible. Hobgoblins are my go-to drone, because they have the best dps and thermal damage is a great all-around damage type.

The Acolytes are there to deal with other drones, or ships that try to kite me. The ECM drones are there to give me a chance at escape in fights that I could not otherwise win. I've never actually had to use them, so I can't say how effective they are, or how often I would need to use them. But then, I've never had someone take out my Hobgoblins before, either.

All of those issues are tangential points, however. The bottom line is that my dps was too low. The fight took 15 minutes, and I can't assume that I'm going to get that much undisturbed time whenever I manage to pin down a battlecruiser. I simply need more dps.

So I'll be reviewing my fit. At least one resistance module will be coming off for a DDA II, but I'm considering other changes as well.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Training alts efficiently

Typically, I like to start each week with a fight analysis. However, as this post as somewhat time sensitive, it's jumped the queue.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my alts have very poor skills, with less than a million skill points each. Most of that is in PI.

That's enough for them to turn a profit, but it would be very convenient if they could do a few other things. Some lost Epithals would have escaped destruction with decent navigation skills. PI skills could be improved a little. Being able to sit in an interceptor would make getting them around a little easier. Better scanning skills are always welcome in w-space. And being able to fly a Blockade Runner would allow me to anchor a citadel.

So I'd like to invest in some better skills for my alts, but the question is whether it is better to buy skill injectors, or buy them training time via PLEX. In a lot of ways, this is similar to the Cerebral Accelerator question. So let's math it out.

Without a neural remap (and we are training a hodgepodge of skills, so I'm not going to worry about that), a clone with no implants generates 30 skill points per minute, or 1,296,000 over the 30 days of training that one PLEX will get you.

Alternatively, one skill injector gives an alt with less than 5 million skill points, an additional 500,000 skill points. This makes one PLEX worth 2.59 skill injectors from the point of view of training efficiency. That same PLEX becomes worth progressively more if you i) include a remap, ii) have training implants, or iii) have more than 5 million skill points.

Since PLEX currently (and typically) costs only 1.58 times as much as a skill injector, it is never worth purchasing a skill injector for a pilot unless training time is a factor.

And that's not actually the result I was expecting when I started working on this problem. Apparently, skill injectors are for the impatient, and pilots that need to be able to fly a specific doctrine now because of an ongoing war or pending tournament.

Why is this time sensitive? Because the current CCP game time offer - expiring on February 8th, 2017 - is free multi-character training when you purhase a multi-month subscription.

Having seen how much more effective time training is than skill injectors, I've purchased a one-off three month subscription so that I can give each of my alts two weeks of training, amplified by some cheap +3 implants. Not only did I save money on my subscription (I was on a one month subscription previously), but I've effectively gained a free PLEX, divided between my two alts. Not bad.

This gives me game time up until the end of May. The challenge, then, is to be in a position to maintain Omega status from that point via PLEX bought with ISK.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

On multi-boxing

Great info on PI strategy. One question tho... are all your toons on one account? If not why not follow the Epithal toon with a cloaky combat ship like a Stratios? This was my general method when i ran PI in the old corp i was in. I ran three toons, each toon while running PI sorties in the Epithal was shadowed by either a Stratios, Loki, or whatever else depending on which character was free.

This is a comment I received on a previous thread, and I when I set out to respond I quickly ended up with something that was a little more than just a 'comment'. It also raises some interesting game-play issues, so I thought I'd make a post out of it.

First, let me say that having three toons on separate accounts is just straight up better than having three toons on a single account. All three are constantly training, and you have the option of multi-boxing. The above suggestion is a very good one.

However, when deciding how I wanted to set things up, I decided to have all three characters on a single account. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that one of the longer term goals that I have is to pay for my account via PLEX purchased with ISK. Three characters on one account can do that with PI alone. Three characters on three separate accounts cannot.

Technically, I could do that now, but I have a number of short term goals that will be much easier to accomplish if I'm not siphoning off half of my income each month to buy PLEX. But just as I worked hard in 2012 at being able to pay for my piracy through loot alone, this is just one of those 'winning at Eve' goals we sometimes set ourselves.

Equally, though, I'm not interested in multi-boxing. I once read a post in the Eve forums that said there are two ways of looking at Eve: the traditional MMO approach, where your character is your avatar, and the RTS approach, where you are the general and your characters are simply units under your command. I fall heavily into the first category - my main is me for all intents and purposes - and just having relevant alts at all is a big step for me.

And finally, I'm not sure that I could multi-box, even if I wanted to. I'm almost exclusively an Android user now, I'm playing Eve on a minimum spec laptop that I purchased just for that purpose, so I suspect that I lack the hardware to run multiple accounts.

But I still recognize that all those reasons are specific to me, and there are probably loads of players who would enjoy and benefit from this alternate approach.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Meta considerations - PI edition

I recently posted some hard numbers for my PI efforts, comparing top tier P2 production to P3 production. This post generated a lot of interest, so now that I've had this setup in place for few weeks, I thought I should comment on some things that fall outside the numbers.

First, however, let me say that practice has borne out the theory. I'm making about 100 million ISK/day (gross) across three characters. This is slightly better that the numbers in my earlier post, but that's because I'm not making Sythetic Synapses on all three characters - two are making Guidance Systems, which are even more lucrative than the Synapses.

Nevertheless, I am considering whether I should revert to P2 production. I'm working through the numbers now, and looking at the options for my particular planets, and if I can come up with an arrangement that gives me 90% of my current income, I'll probably switch one of my characters around on a trial basis. If that works, I'll probably shift my entire system.

The reason I'm willing to take a 10% income loss to move back to P2 production revolves around how you actually have to manage a P3 production chain.

With P2 production, you log on with each character, reset your extractors, possibly shift some product to the Customs Office if you need space, and then log off. Every few days you run around with an Epithal collecting your product, and store it until you can take it to market.

With P3 production, you log on with each character, reset your extractors, shift P1 to the Customs Office, collect it and take it to your factory, move it to your factory while collecting P3, and take the P3 to your storage facility until you can take it to market.

Running around the system on three characters takes time, roughly doubling the time spent on PI, going from about 10 min per day to 20 min per day.

By itself, that's not really a big deal. What is a big deal is the additional vulnerability. Because I have to shift product around each day. Every day that I fail to do so, I'm out 100 million ISK. It's the factory planet, not the extraction planets, that is the bottleneck.

I'm in a C1. Most of the time, my only connection is to low sec, and low sec visitors just are not a threat to a stabbed up Epithal. I've been ambushed a few times, but it's just not a big deal. I overheat my Invulnerability Field and wait to warp out.

But null sec and w-space connections are another matter. They tend to bring an interdictor, which will stop me cold.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that my alts have very low skills. I can see the Sabre on D-scan, and I can be spamming 'warp', but with minimal nav skills the alignment times on my alts are appalling.

I've lost a couple of Epithals now - all on alts - and while the losses are no big deal, the lost production time is a much bigger deal.

So if I can hit 90% of my current income with P2 production, which I can leave in place any time I feel the system is unsafe, I'm still coming out ahead of P3 production where I lose more than three days of production per month due to hostiles camping the system.

On a related note, I think that this experience very much justifies my decision NOT to set up in a C2. When you have a strong online presence, such as the Tuskers do in Chaos, a static w-space connection is a fantastic way of generating content. As a solo player, though, you are the content, making that kind of connection much more of a mixed blessing.