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.


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.


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.


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.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Astero v Rupture

I don't normally find Metropolis to be a decent hunting ground, but I had managed to snag a Thorax and the pod. Perhaps Saturday mornings are just that little bit busier, bringing the population density up to a useful level.

In the course of my hunting, I had seen, and tried to jump in on, a Rupture running FW missions. As I've said before, the acceleration gates in FW missions drop you right onto a beacon, meaning you uncloak as soon as you land. This guy was paying attention, and even when I landed nearly at zero, he managed to get clear before I could properly get 'out' of warp, and finish locking him.

I couldn't be sure, of course, but I suspected an active shield tank with some nanofibers; keep the signature radius down to prolong lock time and the agility up to minimize the warp-out. It seemed to be working for him.

I tend not to bother people repeatedly, but he'd keep showing up in the systems I was in, running different missions, so I gave it a couple of half-hearted attempts. He'd warp out, and then I'd have to warp out when all of the mission rats started to turn their attention to me. And so it went.

Until it didn't.

I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but something was off about that last mission. Thinking about it, I realized the rats had not been locking me as I spammed warp. How odd.

Heading back to the mission 'plex , I jumped back inside. Sure enough, nothing tried to engage me. Looking at the rats more closely, I could see they were all industrial ships.


Burning towards them, I cleared the beacon and then cloaked up. My target had left the system, but we were about 30 min from downtime, and I was fairly certain he'd come back to this mission right before the server shutdown. I just needed to wait.

While I waited, I looked up the mission, and a mission guide confirmed that he needed to kill these four industrials in order to complete it. And, as expected, he popped up in the system again, ten minutes before downtime.

Now, he could clearly tell I was in the system, but having failed to catch him several times, I was hoping he'd feel secure. On top of that, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that I was just sitting in a station somewhere waiting for the server shutdown. He could check the stations, of course, but he'd not left himself enough time to do that. So back to the mission he went.

He landed, and started making his way to the industrials, which were about 60km off the landing point. I let him kill the first one, building in up his confidence, and then I struck.

Having seen him slip away before, I'm fairly certain that I held my breath until I saw my lock complete and my scram land. That done, I could get to work.

It was four minutes to downtime at this point, and I needed to make this fast. Taking a chance, I decided to ignore his T1 drones, which I was fairly certain I could tank with the help of some synth Exile. I overheated my laser, and set my Hobgoblins on him.

His drones came charging back, but he made the mistake of targeting me, rather than my drones. All he needed to do was drag the fight out for four minutes, and targeting my drones could well have done that. Instead, he tried to drive me off, but I wasn't having it.

His drones may have been T1, but being Warriors they were shooting at my worst resist, and my repairer was struggling a little more than I liked. But I was also shooting at his worst resists, as there is no need to close the EM/Thermal hole in a shield tank against Minmatar rats.

Ultimately, my ability to apply damage was better than his. So in a shower of sparks and impotent rage, he exploded. And I had  just enough time left before shutdown to get the pod, too.


Looking at the killmail, I took on an artillery fit cruiser with T1 drones, which is not the toughest fight I've ever had. Which kind of ties back into my earlier thoughts about how I'm spending a lot more on my Astero than I need to, for no real additional benefit.

But I nevertheless found it to be a satisfying fight, mostly because it came down to using and working around game mechanics to anticipate and trap an opponent who was otherwise unwilling to fight, and skilled at evading me.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What makes a good PI system

I came across some postings of you in the eve-online wormhole forums where you gave good advice to some people. You seem to have some expertise regarding PI in wormholes. I'd like to set up a pos in a wormhole system during the next week or two. Which class I will choose will be decided by other factors but I will definitely give PI a try. I just don't want to see myself setting up in a system that turns out to be bad for PI later on. Do you maybe a have an up to date link at hand that helps at rating a wormhole system regarind PI? Like a tier list of planets or which combinations are good. All I find is either very outdated or not giving advice on which planets/wh systems are good for PI. That would help me a lot.

This is from an Evemail I received recently, and it's a really good question. I've talked about the importance of a good PI system, but never really gone into detail on what a good PI system actually looks like. 

The quick answer

Look at a list of all the planets in your w-space system. Cross off all the gas planets, and all but the smallest of the barren planets. Cross off all the planets with a radius of more than 10,000 km. Do you still have five or more planets on the list? If so, you probably have a decent PI system.


Chaos has six planets. Three of those are gas planets. One of the remaining planets has a radius greater than 10,000 km. That means the system has only two truly productive planets, one of which is a barren planet.

Vanaheim has ten planets. Three of those are gas planets. One of the remaining planets has a radius greater than 10,000 km. There are two barren planets. That means the system has five useful planets.

The reason we put the cut-off at five planets is because that's the number of colonies you can support with your skills at IV. Having more useful planets gives you more options, but won't typically make you any more ISK. Having fewer planets than that means that some of your skills are going to waste, however.

The complete answer

The value of any PI system is ultimately what you can make in that system. That is a function of a) what resources the system has, and b) how easy it is to extract those resources, and c) the value of those resources, either on their own on in combination with each other.

What resources?

When looking at what resources a system has we generally disregard gas planets. Gas planets are the most common, and the abundance of those resources makes forces their value down. The exception would be if you need Reactive Gas for industrial work, as this can only be found on gas planets. If you are planning on simply hauling to market, I'd give it a miss.

Barren planets are nearly as common as gas planets, and they don't even have a unique resource. However, they are useful as factory planets (the highest tier factories can only be built of barren or temperate planets, and you would never waste a temperate planet by putting a factory on it), so one is okay.

The remaining planets are your bread and butter, with bonus points for temperate and lava planets, which each produce a unique resource.

How easy to extract?

The various planet types set the spectrum of resources available, but actually getting those resources is a function of density and planet size.

Planet size restricts extraction by increasing the cost of your links (the connections between each of your facilities). The more power grid you spend on links, the less you have to spend on extractor heads. Resource density determines how many extractor heads you will need to keep your factories fully supplied.

So, a planet with a desirable resource may fall short through a combination of being too big, or the resources being to diffuse. Equally, a planet that you might otherwise write off may be workable because of very high densities or extremely small planet size.

For example, I have one lava planet in Vanaheim. It has a decent planet size. Unfortunately, it has almost no Fensic Magma, the resource unique to lava planets. Instead, I have to harvest something else. This turned what could have been an amazing planet into a mediocre planet.

Conversely, I have a storm planet with a radius of 16,000 km. However, the resources are so dense that I am able to efficiently produce Coolant there, despite the planet size.

What is the value?

Once you have worked out what you could extract, you need to work out what you should extract, and possibly produce.

Websites like this or this can help you work through the possibilities, and once you've worked out what is possible, you need to actually check the markets.

When I worked through all this in Vanaheim, I found that any P2 product with a Jita buy order of more than 16k ISK per unit was 'good', while 17k or higher was 'amazing'. 14k ISK per unit was mediocre, and anything less than that was just bad.

For P3 production, 105k ISK per unit is a good target, and more is possible.

Monday, 6 March 2017

But is it worth it?

I lost two more Asteros over the weekend, both in the name of pushing the envelope.

One was a match-up that I've been avoiding for a long time: a T3 destroyer. They have high dps, a great tank, and apply damage well. But I also thought T1 destroyers would be suicide, but I've actually killed a fair few of them now. You can theorize all you want, you don't know until you try.

Well, it turns out that it was even worse than I thought it would be. Despite my attempt to scram kite the Hecate - forcing him to chose between sharpshooter mode to get range, and defensive mode to tank my drones - it was a very short fight.

The other matchup was against a couple of Gnosi. I found two of them, apparently afk. One was just sitting there, next to a wreck, and the other was drifting off into space with it's afterburner running. I decided to try and take out the one by the wreck to see if I could kill it before the pilots returned from whatever it is they were doing.

I got him to half armor before he got back to the keyboard and counter-tackled me. I was tanking his damage and wearing him down, but then his friend returned, and that was that.

Still, these losses were probably more valuable than a string of small victories, because they've really forced me to look at the cost of losing. It's not so much the ISK - I can support this level of loss - but in terms of efficiency. My fit has ballooned in price, but not effectiveness. 

My earliest fits were roughly 70 million ISK, most of that the hull cost, but now my fits cost over 130 million ISK. Most of that extra cost is from the faction cap battery, the T2 rigs, and deadspace repairer (mostly the repairer). But am I getting value from this? In easy fights, whether ganking Ventures or fighting cruisers who's damage I can evade, the extra expenditure is unnecessary. In tough fights, the extra expenditure mostly doesn't seem like it's enough. But I need to win far more fights in order to remain 'ISK positive'.

In fact, looking at my killboard, I don't think I've used an Astero to kill anything as expensive as the Astero I'm currently flying. While my killboard is mostly green, I don't think I'm getting value for ISK with this approach.

So, despite having some more fitting posts already written, I think I'm likely to scale back my fit, at least for the time being. I've gone back to the GLPII, which brings me down to 145 dps, but lets me fit the T2 cap battery again. Next time I'm in high sec, I'll pick up a T2 armor repairer to replace the deadspace repairer, and I'll drop down to T1 rigs.

Total cost: 72 million ISK.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Astero v Vexor

I was looking through my killboard, trying to work out which fights I'd be writing about over the course of the week, when something struck me. My last 'combat' loss was from mid January; I lost a Gila during a Tusker fleet action.

Although I have lost three ships since then, one was due to getting a bad warp-in on a cyno and bouncing my bomber off a POS, one was a pve loss, and one was getting my hauler ganked on a fuel run.

So, if it's been a month an a half since my last combat loss, am I playing it too safe? I like to think I've been pushing the boundaries of what my Astero can do, but am I really going to try and say that I'm so good that I don't actually lose ships in combat for months at a time?

This concerned me. While I have no problem with opportunistic kills - see the number of Ventures that I have taken down recently - I'm not terribly interested in becoming that guy who only takes the easy fights, beating down on noobs or under shipped targets in order to pad my killboard.

So my goal was to find a fight that would really push me. A fight that I probably couldn't win, but that wasn't necessarily complete suicide.

My first attempt was a 2v1 with an Algos and a Maller camping a FW 'plex together. I figured that if I could take down the Algos fast enough, I'd be able to grind down the Maller afterwards. However, their buddy in a Dragoon joined them while we were maneuvering, and he pushed the fight right into the 'complete suicide' category, so I bailed.

But a few systems later I saw the Vexor, sitting at a 'plex.

Now, the Vexor, like any drone ship, is a real menace to frigates, because they will typically have a flight or two of light drones that have no problem applying dps to small targets. But if I could grind through his drones before exploding, then I could possibly turn things around. So I took the fight.

The fight started much as I anticipated. Landed on him at zero in the 'plex (the Vexor is a brawler), and dropped into a 3km orbit, opening fire with Conflag, and locking up his drones so that I could set my Acolytes on them. I dropped some synth Exile, knowing I'd need it, and focused on the drones.

I was two drones into his first flight when he started neuting me. Now, I've been neuted before, and I can handle it as long as I don't need to perma-run my repairer. Because he was applying damage so well, though, my repairer was working hard, and my cap dropped to zero pretty quick.

I made the decision to bail out. The longer I waited, the less ehp I would have, and I knew I'd take some damage on the way out because I'd no longer be under his guns. So I overheated my afterburner, and aligned to the sun.

Unfortunately, my afterburner kept switching off because I had no cap. So I alternated my prop mod with my repairer, trying to keep my hull intact long enough to clear his scram.

It didn't work.


I hate losing ships, but it's typically the losses that teach you the most. This one was no exception. For reference, this is the Vexor I was fighting, as the pilot lost it shortly after our fight.

Let's start with the good stuff. I went into the fight with a plan, and it wasn't a bad plan, considering that this was a fight that most frigates would be advised to avoid in the first place. I did get under his guns, and I was killing his drones pretty fast.

And... that's about it. After that, it all went sideways. To be blunt, I let the neut, which I had not expected, completely throw me. While being decisive is good - getting out sooner rather than later - that doesn't mean that every decision you make is a good one.

Here, the main issue is that by focusing on the neut I completely missed the double webs! I was never going to get away from that Vexor with my prop mod being shut down constantly. I almost certainly would have lasted longer by staying in a tight orbit, or even better, tightening my orbit to compensate for the second web.

I should have managed my cap better, too. Seeing no active tank, I could have turned off my laser to save cap. While the laser eventually turned itself off, it should have been a choice I made, rather than something that happened because I had lost control of the fight.

I also stopped attacking his drones as I tried to escape. I was taking them down, so why not at least force him to keep launching new ones? Who knows, I might have killed enough to make a difference.


Yeah, I'm pretty mad at myself for that one. Having decided to try and escape, why didn't I try to use the drones I carried specifically for that purpose?

The answer to that last question is very simply that I've not built up the habit of using them, so when the stress came, I didn't reach for the correct solution. When the stress hits, we fall back on our ingrained habits. That's why the military trains simple tasks over, and over, and over again. That's why you get the same safety lecture every time you get on an aircraft. Because that's the only way most of us can perform those tasks under stress.

And if I'm not going to remember to use ECM drones under stress, I might as well carry something more useful. The first thing I did after buying my new Astero was ditch the ECM in favour of Hornets. This gives me another set of durable drones, and a third damage type. So far, I've been very pleased with the change.

I also want to take another look at my fit. Everyone and their dog seems to fit a neut these days. While I'm better able to deal with it than most, if I intend to focus on above class targets, I need to see if I can handle it any better than I am now, short of a cap booster.

So there are two questions that this fight has me asking myself. First, can I get a similar level of tank and dps while fitting a nos? Second, are there changes I can make to my current fit that would make me more resistant to neuting without impacting my performance too severely? Expect posts on those questions at some point.

Oh, and for anyone still reading this far into the post, feel free to let me know if the 'wrap around text' beside the picture is a better or worse format than just having the picture and then the text underneath. I've also used a slightly different font alignment.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Astero v Omen

Looking, as ever, for above class kills that push the envelope a little, I was very intrigued by an Omen that appeared to be running a Guardian's Gala 'plex. Warping in on the 'plex at range (and under cloak, obviously), I could see the Omen hard at work.

However, it was a busy system with about a dozen people in local. If the Omen felt confident brazenly running the the 'plex, I had to assume that at least some of those people were allies. Taken to an extreme, the Omen could even be bait (although a Maller would have been a better choice for that).

I decided it was worth the risk, though. The Omen has very little chance of applying turret damage to me, and it the cap and fitting demands of those turrets mean that the Omen has little room for a robust tank.

Moving into position, I uncloaked and set to work. I was immediately counter-pointed, which started setting off alarm bells, and I began spamming my short range D-scan.

Seeing no immediate support, but knowing that time was precious, I decided to ignore his drones and go straight for the kill. Overheating my laser, I tore into him while orbiting under his guns; he may have had a point, but the Omen's notorious hunger for cap had him fitting a cap mod rather than a web, a decision that he was now paying for.

My repairer was easily tanking his drone damage, and my own drones were battling with his MAAR. As soon as he ran out of paste, the damage started stacking up fast, but long range D-scan was now showing activity.

Narrowing my D-scan down to just our cluster, things were still clear, so help was probably still 10-20 seconds out, depending on what they were flying. Time enough to destroy the Omen. Not time enough to try for the pod.

I took my win and warped out. 'gf's were exchanged in local.


This was a nice example of a fight where things go smoothly. It was the classic 'get under the guns' approach that is the stuff of a frigate pilot's dreams. The Omen was well fit, and well flown, but my ability to start the fight at zero countered his mwd and the damage that I would otherwise have taken on the way in.

The cloaked approach also denied him any advanced warning, so any call out on comms was only going out after the fight was well and truly started. Even a frigate takes a good 30 seconds to undock and warp across the system, and that assumes the pilot is sitting at the keyboard ready to go. Every little delay added up until support could not arrive until too late.

Astero v Enyo

I wasn't actually looking for the Enyo. Taking on an assault frigate is pretty tough for other frigates - you can't easily evade their damage, and their unsubtle approach to dps and tanking makes them punch far above their weight. There is a reason that I flew a Vengeance for so long.

Rather, I was looking for an Algos, and I was reasonably confident that he was running a signature, so I had dropped some probes to scan it down. Doing so, I took the acceleration gate (but cloaked up again mid warp), and was surprised to find myself about 20km from the Enyo that I had also seen on D-scan (but had ignored due to being cloaked). Having come this far, however, I decided I might as well give it a try, and I moved into position.

Now, my low-end laptop means that I have to run Eve on the lowest graphics settings, so I'm not one for picking out weapons by using the 'look at' command. Given the distance he was keeping from the rats, though, I assumed that he was running railguns. Accordingly, I de-cloaked and dropped into a 3km orbit while activating my scram.

I had IN Multifrequency loaded, and I overheated my guns while setting my Acolytes on him. This was a tough call, because neither Acolytes nor Hobgoblins are a great drone to use on Gallente T2, but I figured that the Acolytes, on balance, would probably do more damage than the Hobgoblins, with the slightly lower resists making up for the slightly lower base damage.

He returned fire, and gosh, did it hurt. This was the first time in a while that my tank got a real work-out. In hindsight, what I should have taken from that was that he was running blasters rather than railguns. But things happen fast enough in frigate fights that you don't always have the time to process new information properly, so I simply chalked it up to the Enyo's tracking bonus. I overheated my repairer and popped some synth Exile. This was going to be close.

In the end, I had the better damage application, and towards the end of the fight some of the rats got close enough that they may actually have applied some relevant damage as well. He exploded, and so did his pod.



After looking at his killmail, I can see that we both messed up our ammo choice. He had massive 282 turret dps after overheating, but his optimal was only 1.7 km because of the short range ammo he was using. That failure to apply his damage cost him the fight.

For my part, I should have moved into a wider orbit and loaded Scorch. That would have turned this fight into a cakewalk, as blasters just can't hit out to 8km effectively, irrespective of ammunition choice (although the Enyo will make a better show of it than most).

And I totally forgot about his drone. I should have cleared it, which would have wiped out the 20 or so dps that he could have effectively applied regardless of range or orbit.

With the fight done, I refit and dropped combat probes. I found the Algos sitting at a completed FW site. With the site captured, the beacon had despawned, and the pilot must have thought it was safe to grab a sandwich or something. That did not end well for him.