Friday, 28 April 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.

No pressure

We had our first of what will hopefully be a weekly T1 cruiser roam. The trouble with organized roams is that the FC is under pressure to find content. Unfortunately, we spent about two hours roaming null sec without seeing anything but a battleship gang with carrier support. We didn't want content that badly...

Then we hit low sec and crashed a gate camp, but they all fled. On the way back to Chaos we cross-jumped a 160+ cruiser fleet, and a couple of their straggling inties managed to point a Moa that was fit for dps rather than speed/agility. We tried to burn down the tackle (a Malediction), and forced him to warp off, but there were enough other ships on grid that by the time the Malediction had been driven away he had been replaced by half a dozen other tacklers.

Racial differences

One of the interesting things about going on a T1 cruiser roam is that you start to see the handling differences between the different racial cruisers. The Caldari cruisers, for example, were always the last to hit warp, and the last to land on grid. It's easy to miss those differences when you fly solo, but seeing the ships all flying together in a gang really made them stand out.

A call to arms

A Tusker fleet tangled with Riplomacy last night. I'd love to write a full battle report, but there was no general call-to-arms ping sent out until they chased us back to Chaos. At that point I logged into my Omen, and warped to the fight on our null sec static.

It was a blind warp, and as is so often the case, the fight had moved on, so I landed in the middle of the Riplomacy fleet. I attracted a lot of fire from ships that had nothing else to shoot (as they were being kited by the main Tusker fleet), but their tacklers were too occupied chasing the main fleet to deal with my surprise arrival. So, by overheating my prop mod, I was able to burn out of long point range and bounce back to our citadel at 10% shields so that I could get some reps. Along the way, I helped take down a VNI, because the Oracle has amazing dps projection.

I had no time for reps, though, as Riplomacy moved the fight to our C5. Warping to the fight, I managed to help bring down a Sacrilege before Riplomacy decided to disengage completely.

Incidentally, a look at the Chaos battle report gives you a very clear picture of what Tusker fleet doctrine looks like. 'Doctrine', though, is perhaps too strong a word. 'Philosophy' might be a better term. Be fast, be shield tanked, and bring dps, reps, or ewar.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tuskers v Czech Interstellar Incorporated

One of our pilots, Glasi Vookto, had been roaming the null sec space near our static, and reported a small gang of cruisers that seemed interested in a fight. Kiting them about, he tried to keep them interested while a few of us formed a quick fleet and made the five or so jumps we needed to reach the fight. Knowing that we had some light dps ships already on the way, I jumped into my Secret Santa Navy Osprey to provide some anti-tackle support.

By the time I got there, Glasi and the early reinforcements had been forced into the next system, and I landed on the gate in the middle of the enemy gang. Resisting the urge to spam 'jump', I allowed them to yellow-box me, and about half of them to trigger an aggression timer before jumping into the next system, where my corp-mates were waiting for me.

The enemy followed, of course, but with reduced numbers. There they were facing Glasi and Rin Shinwa (a corp applicant) in Navy Omens, me in my Navy Osprey, and a couple of interceptors. We quickly burned down a Condor and a Scythe, and their gang warped off rather than continue the fight at a tactical disadvantage.

They were local, though, and their retreat was temporary. Their pilots reshipped, and they came looking for us again. We jumped into the next system, Z-DDVJ, where the fight began in earnest.

In the interim, we had been joined by Hoodie Mafia in his Machariel. This gave us some much needed firepower, because we were completely without logistics support, and were now about half a dozen jumps from home. We were going to have to rely on kiting them out and burning down their tacklers before they could land scrams. We chose the 863P-X gate to start the fight, although maneuvering meant that we were fighting all over the grid.

Things started well. Hoodie took on the FC role, and his battleship essentially anchored the fleet. He gave us long range punch (and when I had nothing more urgent to do I would add some supporting firepower), while the three cruisers focused on crushing anything that got close enough to threaten us with a scram or web.

Looking at the battle report, I can see that we killed 13 assorted ships before our first non-interceptor loss at 18:44. They were an assortment of frigates (primarily the endless supply of Condors that they used as light tackle), cruisers, and battlecruisers. Many of these kills were the same pilots, immediately reshipping and rejoining the fight, only to be killed again. 

Eventually, one of these pilots, Montikk montys, decided to up-ship a little, and undocked his Nidhoggur.

When the carrier landed on grid, I assumed the fight was over. In fact, I had to cancel my 'warp' command when Hoodie started giving new instructions. We didn't have the firepower to take on the new arrival, and at about six jumps from Chaos, I didn't think we could get reinforcements here fast enough. But my caution is part of why I simply don't generate as much content as our more aggressive pilots. Where I saw and end to the fight, Hoodie saw an escalation. He sent out a ping. We stayed to fight.

Our orders were to keep the carrier on grid until reinforcements arrived. It sounds simple, but it dramatically changed the dynamic of the fight, as our movements were now constrained by the need to maintain a certain distance from the Nidhoggur. 

The Nidhoggur, via it's fighters (which, mercifully, were only T1), had the ability to project damage that the enemy had lacked up to this point. He could, almost at will, force any of the cruisers off the field. From the comms chatter I knew that Glasi and Rin had to bounce a few times to shake fighters, but he seemed to take an especial dislike to me, as I became his main focus.

This was a good move on his part for a couple of reasons. First, my RLML were probably the most effective anti-tackle weapon we had at the time, and if he actually wanted to kill someone, the Condor's needed to last long enough to keep one of us pointed. Second, I was passively tanked, so while Rin or Glasi could come back to grid with full armor, I couldn't rep the shield damage I was taking, and with a diminishing buffer it was progressively easier to force me off grid.

Of course, the cynic in me suspects that faced with three cruisers - two Navy Omen and a Navy Osprey - he simply decided to focus on the odd one out.

Regardless, I spent an inordinate amount of time jumping to and from a nearby safespot that was conveniently aligned to the sun (ie, I dropped a bookmark the first time I was forced to warp to the sun). While in warp I reloaded my RLML, but on one occasion I also had to leave grid simply to reload my weapons. The Navy Osprey (or at least, my fit) is simply a poor choice for a long, grinding fight.

With their (limited) ability to self repair, Glas and Rin seemed to focus on pinning down the carrier whenever our interceptors were forced off, while I kept warping back to Hoodie to work on blapping whatever it was that was trying to tackle him. To be honest, this part of the fight is pretty much a blur for me, as we'd gone from being broadly in control, to just trying to keep things together long enough for the rest of the corp to reach us.

Glasi was the first to go down. Rin survived him by about a minute. Our two remaining interceptors bought us roughly another 60 seconds each. I had been forced off grid again at 20% shields. Our Sabres, followed by the rest of the fleet, were just jumping into the system, so Hoodie decided to go for hero tackle on the Nidhoggur. The Condor's were all over him, though, and he needed them gone if he was ever to get clear.

I warped back to Hoodie at zero, pretty sure that I was going to die. I overheated my launchers, though, determined to take another Condor or two with me, and hopefully give Hoodie time to get out once the Sabres landed. But about five seconds before I loaded grid, the Machariel went down.

Too slow.

Landing in the middle of their gang, I tap the 'warp' button that will send me back to the Sun, but I don't expect much to come of it, as I'm surrounded by their fast tackle. My overview lights up like some demented Christmas tree as they all yellow-box me, and the first red ewar icon pops up over my HUD.

Is that... a web?

Sheer dumb luck saved me. Someone activated a web before their point, and that instantly launched me into warp.

Bouncing back to my make-shift safe, I learned from comms that the rest of the fleet had arrived too late, and the Nidhoggur had warped out. We had been just a little too far from home. There was some clean-up action, but the prize had escaped.


Comms was very quiet on the way back. The Tuskers are not given to deflecting blame, and I'm sure that many of us were wondering what we could have done better; to arrive a little faster, or draw the fight out a little longer. I know I was.

Of the original gang that had set out, I was the only one to survive. Weirdly, I felt bad about that. Like perhaps it meant I hadn't fought my ship hard enough or something. Eve does crazy things to your head, sometimes.

Looking at my performance, I'm certain that I made any number of piloting errors, although fortunately without consequence. This would have been especially true of the second part of the fight when I was definitely feeling the pressure, caught between needing to keep my ship alive and needing to provide anti-tackle support for the rest of the gang. The only way to improve this aspect of my flying is practice, though, so I shall try to take advantage of the opportunities being back in Chaos provides.

On the other hand there were moments when I responded correctly where I wouldn't have six months ago. Splitting the gang on the gate during the initial engagement. Judging when to get my ship off grid to avoid being exploded by fighters. When to align and when to maneuver. Evading enemy tackle. None of this amounts to inspired flying, but it's a step in the right direction.

Finally, I need to offer a sincere 'gf' to Czech Interstellar Incorporated. Those guys fought hard, and ground through a succession of ship losses to eventually earn the prize. Well fought.

Monday, 24 April 2017

For Sale: Sold

Vanaheim is under new management.

We completed the exchange on Sunday, although I took advantage of some very good C2>HS connections to move most of my assets out on Saturday. System J114905 is now in the hands of another player looking to support their pvp through PI. I wish them well.

I've managed to move most of my important assets back to Chaos. Inevitably, there are a few more ships I want to pick up, but the core stuff is there. I also have my alts in place, and I'll set up a low key PI operation next weekend (command centres are one of the things I still need to ship in). It won't be a huge ISK faucet, but it should keep me PLEX'd.

I celebrated my return by helping to take down an Orca. Correctly guessing that it had a cyno, we held it in structure for a while to see if support would arrive, but apparently none of his friends were available.

This kill is a good example of why I'm currently training Torpedos V. Against some gang targets, Rage Torpedos would offer a genuine (and significant) damage boost. That, and Launcher Rigging V are going to take up most of the next month.

Things are actually a little quieter in Chaos right now, as the AT practices have started. I have neither the time nor the skill to devote to the AT practice, but many of our more active pilots do. With them busy, the gangs we put together are a little smaller.

Perhaps to counterbalance this, a regular Tuesday night roam has been suggested. I think that sounds like a great idea, especially as I'm in a position to actually participate again.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Maticore v Prophecy

Being on holiday, I wasn't looking for a fight. My internet connection was rubbish, and I didn't have my gaming mouse (which is a big deal if half your modules are hotkey'd to it). I just wanted to run a few sites, and reset my PI.

But sometimes things don't go as planned.

Undocking my Anathema, I saw the Prophecy on D-scan immediately. As quickly as I could, I re-docked, and re-shipped into a stealth bomber. Had he seen me? I had no way of knowing.

I had both a Purifier and a Manticore in station. I prefer the Purifier, I think, when damage type does not matter, and usually it doesn't matter in w-space; omni-damage means omni-tanks. But this guy hadn't renamed his Prophecy, which smacked of noobishness. Perhaps he hadn't balanced his tank, and in which case the Manticore was a better call.

Undocking, and immediately cloaking, I started trying to pin the Prophecy down. He wasn't at any of the combat sites. Was he in a safe?

Then I saw scan probes. Clearly, he was looking for a sleeper relic/data site to run. Unfortunately, I knew there were none of those in system. I could either wait and hope he ran a regular site, or I could try and probe him down while he was distracted by his own probes.

Going with my gut, I chose the latter option. Back into the Astrahus, back into the Anathema. Over time I've kept bookmarks for signatures that have spawned at extreme ranges. While none of them are true deep safes, I was able to warp to a location that would have been off the Prophecy's D-scan. I dropped my probes, and then warped around under cloak until I could narrow him down to a small patch of space. Positioning my probes carefully, I managed a direct hit on his location. Excellent!

I recalled my probes and warped back to the Astrahus, before switching back into my Manticore. Not knowing how much longer he would be distracted (if he was distracted at all), I took a chance and warped in blind at 20 km.

Nothing decloaked me, and his probes were still on D-scan. Risking a little time, I positioned myself so that he was roughly between me and a bookmark. I didn't want to pass too close to him (although I was not anticipating a web or point), but I wanted to be aligned the whole time.

Starting my run, I overheated both my target painter and my torpedos. Heart pounding, I watched my first volley connect with my finger hovering over the 'warp' key. Bonused light drones would murder me, and I needed to be gone as soon as they were close enough to engage me.

But nothing happened. My second volley connected, and still nothing. Is he playing with the sound off? Is he so absorbed in the scanning that he just hasn't noticed he's under attack yet? 

Hahahahaha. Of course! The new scanning display is full screen by default! He can't see what's happening.

My next volley connects. And the next. This is not nearly as good as I would like it to be. The Prophecy is proving to be disturbingly brick-like.

Suddenly, we have activity. I can only imagine that he's closed the scanning screen to find himself in half armor. I can see that he is (slowly) aligning to something, but unless he has warp stabs it's not going to do him any good.

He doesn't launch drones, however, which would have been his best move. Perhaps he's just too panicked. Regardless, he doesn't have time to correct his mistake, and the ship explodes. A short while later, so does the pod.


That, I'm fairly certain, is my first (real) solo stealth bomber kill. And it should never have worked. Having actually seen how long it took me to grind out that fight, I simply should have been driven off casually by his drones. But who dares wins, at least some of the time. And I won this one.

It was certainly quite a rush. Taking on a ship that well tanked in something so fragile gave me a serious case of the Eve shakes. I'm going to have to make time to do some more SB pvp. Cheap ships, expensive targets. What's not to like.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Does anybody want a wormhole?

I've just come back from a couple of weeks of holiday. Without my gaming mouse or a reliable internet connection, my pvp was restricted to whatever happened to wander into Vanaheim. One fight was notable - and I'll post on that - but otherwise, I've been running sites and managing my PI.

I have more ISK than ever before, despite blowing a few billion on skill injectors. Having built up a large reserve, I'm heading back to Chaos. While Vanaheim has been very, very good to me, it's a lot of work managing a w-system solo, and I've missed flying the occasional fleets with the Tuskers.

Of course, I don't want to be space poor again, so I still need to think about my income going forward. However, I've invested in income generating skills over the past few months, so now that I have a bit of a buffer I think I should be able to maintain myself. Chaos is a poor PI system, but it should allow me to buy a monthly PLEX, and other income (such running sites) then gets plowed back into pvp.

So what to do with Vanaheim? An unoccupied wormhole does not stay unoccupied long, and I've spent some time wondering what to do with my assets here. I've put out an offer in-corp to anyone who might want to park some PI alts here, but nobody has been particularly interested... we all have our own established income streams.

I could sell it, of course, but the main asset is actually the Astrahus, which was given to me. I'd like to pass that generosity along. So before going to market, I thought I'd check to see if any of the readers of this blog wanted to try establishing themselves in w-space.

As a C1 with a low sec static, Vanaheim is a solid base for PI/industry/exploration. Older, more experienced characters would do better in a C3, where the sites are more profitable, and larger corps will want a C2 for the w-space static. While running Vanaheim was a lot of work for me solo, more than two or three active players will quickly run out of things to do.

If you are interested, send me an Evemail telling me a little more about yourself, your goals, and why you want to move into Vanaheim. If you are one of the players who has started your account via the buddy invite link in my sidebar, you go to the head of the queue.