Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eve Online: Knowing When to Fight

Knowing when to fight and when to run. Kenny Rogers said it best "Know when to hold em, know when to fold em" This is a lesson all of us have to learn the hard way I think. I'm guessing most of us didn't have the natural instinct to size up an opponent, and needed to learn through trial and error. I'm still learning this lesson daily.

It's pretty easy when you jump into a system alone, it's camped, and you're outnumbered 10 to 1 that you should probably run. Unless you have backup nearby or you take a quick glance at all the ships targeting you and feel that you can take them, the choice is obvious to burn back to the gate, or execute some other form of escape if possible. If you have resigned your self to death, try to take as many of them with you as you can.

Sometimes, and most times for me, the choice isn't so clear. Very commonly I will encounter a lone ship flying around null sec looking all juicy and ready to be killed. I'm most often in a stealth bomber if I'm not in my own system, so I have the luxury of looking at the target and deciding if I want to engage or not. During these times I think to myself though "What if I was in my Vexor" or one of my many other ships, would I engage or run? I think that my skills have started to blossom lately and I think my ability to take down more targets is getting better an better. The problem is that nobody is ever "alone in null sec", unless they are daft in the brain or truly don't care if they die (more on that in a moment). Either they have friends in nearby systems also looking for a fight, or they have a cyno on them and able to call in the rest of their fleet to wipe you out. This makes it difficult to try and find a fight that will only involve you and your opponent.

I make a decent amount of ISK right now, but not so much that I don't mind throwing away ships. I've tried making a dozen frigates or destroyers and fit them all up and take them out and keep looking for fights, and then I lost 9 out of 10 ships and all their fittings. Part of the problem was that I was engaging the first target I saw and inevitably I was always way outmatched. I'd have my opponent's shield tank or armor tank only down about 10% before I got blown up.

A few months have passed since I last tried that experiment and I'm reluctant to try it again. When I'm not flying a covert ops ship, I'm typically flying a drone boat. I can get about 515 dps out of my Vexor and it tends to be my preferred PvP ship, although I keep plenty of Algos around as well.

I think I still hate dying, and not because I have to replace the ship. I think I hate giving my opponent the satisfaction of killing me. These same pricks show up in our system over and over again and they are all flying 5-8 year toons, and every time we try to engage them they wipe the floor with us. I have stopped undocking and fighting them, because they know they can come to us for an easy kill. Now they'll park an alt in our system and cloak all day watching us. If anyone tries to go about their business running sites or whatever, then we have to constantly look over our shoulder that someone is going to decloak, cyno and kill us.

It's starting to take the fun out of the game. We pay rent to be able to run anomalies, go ratting on the belts, and mine if we choose to. Now we are only able to do that IF they let us. We aren't strong enough to fight back one on one, if we form a fleet and try to engage they drop a cyno and kill us all, and if we don't fight back, they camp our system. I've almost logged off and not logged back on a few times it's been so frustrating. Yeah, I know I sound whiny but when you invest so much time and effort into something and then someone else just controls your experience in the game it sucks.

I'm not giving up hope though. I keep training and planning and devising ways to secure our system, to be able to start effectively killing them and to make it not worth it to them to come around anymore. Who knows, maybe I should give up trying to secure our system, and control what I have the power to control.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eve Online: API Key, Kill Mails, and Intel

A few months ago I registered at www.eve-kill.net  because when you kill someone, unless you are the person to execute the final blow, you don't get the kill mail for it. Since then, my CEO has mentioned that he doesn't want anyone registered on any sites like that because it provides too much intel for any enemies looking to cause us harm. They can see where we hang out, what type of ships we typically fly, what those ships are fit with, and who we typically fly with.

For those reasons I completely understand not wanting to be registered. I've learned that PvP comes down to a few things that ultimately decide who will win and who will lose. The #1 thing I've learned is preparedness. Whoever is more prepared will greatly increase their chance for survival. This is part of what makes up a good FC. A fleet commander that knows the names of all the other ships out there, how they are typically fit, and the best tactics for bringing them down, will easily beat a fleet twice his size if the other fleet is just a ragtag group thrown together hoping to win by sheer numbers. If a FC is outnumbered 10 to 1, chances are they are going to retreat, not because they're scared, becaues there is no point in everyone dying, just to be stubborn. Unless of course they actually believe they can beat a fleet ten times their size with proper ships and tactics.

All that said, a small portion of why I engage in PvP is for the kill mail. I don't need to be the one that gets the final blow, but as long as the kill goes to a member of our corporation so it ends up giving us credit, then that's all that matters to me.  But since I commonly find myself in mixed fleets, that's not always the case. I have to wait 30 minutes after killing someone and hope that either the person that got the final blow or the person that blew up, was registered as well, otherwise there is no record that I have had a hand in their demise.

Right now, our corporation is working on its PvP kills to try and join another branch of our alliance that specializes in PvP. We aren't allowed to join until we have proven ourselves with kill mails. They don't want spies and noobs that can cause huge headaches to infiltrate their group, and I respect that. But that brings me back to whether or not I keep my API key registered or remove it to prevent enemies from harnessing intel on our fleet makeup.

I fight for fun, but without the kill mail there is no proof. Which in turns ends up resulting in people making up kills that never happened, just to look cool. Maybe they should add a new category in the combat log for Assists.  That way, kill mails stay protected but even logi pilots can start to see the fruit of their labor. They can receive credit if they are involved with healing someone that got an assist or got a kill.  Right now, being a logi or support pilot doesn't receive any recognition, and I think it's time they start to get some well deserved love.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Eve Online: Sacrificing Your Ship

Yesterday a neut in an Iteron V was passing through a nearby system while I was hanging out cloaked in my stealth bomber. My mouth started to salivate and I realized he was about 40km from my.  I was barely out of point range, but I knew that if he warped straight to the next gate there would be a stop bubble and he'd be caught by it. I decided to stay cloaked and watch to see if he would warp straight to the next gate or if he'd warp to a celestial first and then to the gate.

If he was going to a celestial first, I would wait on the other side of the next gate and grab him then, otherwise I would meet him at the bubble.

Sure enough he warped straight to the next gate, so off I went in pursuit. At the time of my warp there were no other neuts in system so I was pretty confident I'd have no problems taking down this Iteron and getting away. As is customary with my luck, while I was in warp two neuts also entered system, but at this point I didn't know if they were behind me, or in front of me at the next gate.

I come out of warp to see the Iteron stuck exactly where I expected him to be, looking like a steak dinner after only eating ramen noodles for a month. Right when I'm about to uncloak I see a Sabre and a Navy Issue Slicer uncloak on the gate, but they're 60-70 km away from me, and I haven't uncloaked yet. I don't know if these two ships are friendlies of the Iteron or if they just happen to be passing through too, but either way I have to make a decision and fast.

I decide that I want the Iteron kill, even though that I know it will almost surely end with the death of my Nemesis. I uncloak, target, paint, point, launch torpedoes. I didn't have time to get into bombing position to launch a bomb, so I was stuck using only torpedoes. A few volleys and the Iteron becomes space dust.

Right as the Iteron blows up I see that I've been warp scrammed by the Sabre and Slicer. I know at this point that I'm dead but I don't care.  I look at local and the Iteron pilot had apparently been screaming for us to spare him and his ship and was offering to pay for safe passage. Oh well, don't fly an Iteron through Null Sec without a scout.

Checked the kill mail and the two neuts were not friends of the Iteron, since they also had some damage on him too. They just happened to have dumb luck and jumped into system at the perfect time to get part of an Iteron kill and to pop my Nemesis. I wish I had that kind of luck.

Iteron was carrying about 200 million in ISK on him, plus I got to harvest a few tears. All in all, totally worth the loss of my bomber, but maybe next time I can do it without losing my own ship.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eve Online: Arazu time!

My skill queue just finished training for the Arazu, unfortunately I'm at work right now and unable to login to Eve to start outfitting it, but the anticipation is killing me. As you know if you're been reading my newbie ramblings I love flying covert ops ships and the thrill of sneaking up on someone and controlling the beginning of a fight or choosing not to fight when it's a bad idea fits my playing style.

For the last few months we have had the members of our corporation all training to fly cruisers, destroyers, and frigates to the best of their ability. We have members that have dedicated their training queues to being able to dish out the most DPS possible while still being able to tank as much as possible. We have other players that have dedicated themselves to being as fast as possible. Two of our members have dedicated to logistics and the ability to remote repair our fleet. Two members have focusing purely on interdiction cruisers and being able to use bubbles. I have spent my time working towards the Arazu to be able to provide long range tackle along with covert ops cloaking. 

We are still missing a Rapier pilot in our fleet, but we have a new minmatar pilot in our corp that we'll try to get to steer that direction if possible. Having a Rapier and an Arazu in a skirmish fleet makes for perfect tackling abilities. 

All in all we have the makings of a solid skirmish gang. About a dozen other members of our corp either already can fly a stealth bomber or will be able to in a few days/weeks. After I finish training my Arazu skills up higher to at least level 4 for most skills, and cyno field theory up to level 5, I'll begin working towards the Black Ops Sin so that we can begin to hotdrop or simply travel farther distances with more ease. 

Here is the Arazu fit I plan to install on my ship when I get home tonight, feedback is welcome:


  • Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
  • Covert Cynosural Field Generator I
  • 2 - 250mm Railgun II 

  • 2- Remote Sensor Dampener II
  • 2- Warp Disruptor II
  • 10MN Afterburner II
  • Sensor Booster II

  • 2- Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
  • 800mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
  • Damage Control II

  • 2- Medium Inverted Signal Field Projector I

This gives me just over 20,000 EHP so that I can de-cloak, point, and hold my target long enough for everyone else to warp to me (or cyno in). This ship is NOT designed to put out very much DPS, but it should be able to tank a decent amount of damage, long enough for your friends to arrive. I'm hoping that the remote sensor dampeners will also prevent most people from being able to target me, thus also reducing the possibility of taking damage. 

If I'm able to warp scram you at 40km away, and put 2 remote sensor dampeners on you, I'm hoping that my 460 m/s speed will be fast enough to stay away from some of the larger ships out there. I understand that without webbing my target, there is a good chance that many of my targets will be able to escape, which is why we need a rapier pilot in our gang as well. It's either that or I commit to web/scram on this ship but be forced to stay within 10km. If I did that I would remove the remote sensor dampeners and replace them with webbers. 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eve Online: Temporary Corporation Member

Two days ago I received an application to join our corporation, and even though we have an advert out right now to help boost our numbers, every application is screened as much as possible. Our new members have very limited access to any of our important assets, a few dozen frigates, destroyers, and cruisers in a corporation ship hangar, some extra ammo and mods and that's about all new members have the ability to access.

This new applicant was currently in TEST and has been away for 3-4 months due to health issues. He logged back on and noticed that his entire world had changed. His application said "Let's shoot some stuff together" and that was it. We did a quick interview on him and his story seemed legit enough to warrant an invite to join our corp. He was a 2010 toon with about 50 million sp, so the risk vs payout of having a strong toon added to corp was worth the risk that he might steal a measly 50 million in ships and mods.

All that being said, I still didn't trust him. I don't really trust anyone, but definitely not this situation. Something in my gut didn't feel right, but we still decided to allow him to join.

Being a director or a member of corporation with the proper roles/access, you can see where everyone in your corporation is currently located. After I accepted his application I watched in the corporation window to see where he would go. He was only one jump away from our home system, so logic would dictate that he would go to our home system to join his new corp mates. Nah... that'd be too easy.

Instead he was 3 jumps in the other direction, then 8, then 20, then 40. At this point I knew exactly what was going on so I started a private conversation with him ( I wish I would have thought to copy it but it's too late now). Anyways it went something like this:

Me: Hey, I've got a question for you, and I'd like a no bullshit answer. I'm pretty sure I know what's going on, but wanted to confirm. Did you join our corporation just so you could safely pass through Catch to go and rejoin your old corp? 

Him: Yeah I did

Me: Cool, that's what I thought. Thanks for the straight up answer. I'm not upset at all, and since you were straight with me I won't remove you from corp until you've had a chance to move all your stuff out. 

Him: Cool, I appreciate that. I've already got all my stuff out. 

Me: Awesome, if you don't need to be a member anymore I'm going to go ahead and remove you from our corp but no hard feelings at all. 

Him: Thanks, you guys seem like a good bunch, but I'm not a fan of your overlords.

Me: We just rent a system, we haven't known our "overlords" long enough to like them or hate them. 

Him: I appreciate you allowing me to join to get my stuff out, I'll come back some day and pew pew some of your enemies for you to say thanks. 

The conversation went on for a bit, and we continued to chat throughout the day. Eventually we decided we had to remove him from our group chat channel, just to protect intel, but all in all it was an interesting experience.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Eve Online: Making ISK Bombing

Making ISK as a bomber has proven to be fairly difficult for me. Bombs cost between 1-2 million (depending on where you buy them) each, and typically if you are solo bombing, a single bomb won't pop most targets unless they have almost no type of tank fit to their ship. There are tactics that you can take to help increase your chances of popping your target with a single bomb, such as using a target painter, but the problem with that is you have to remain uncloaked and are likely within 30km of your target (since you just released a bomb) so they will be able to target you, preventing you from cloaking back up again.

If you are bombing with a group of bombers, then you'll need to split the loot with the other bombers, but that is limited by the amount of cargo space you have (which is next to nothing, especially when you have extra bombs in your cargo hold).

This means that your are spending a few million ISK every time you go out bombing, and most likely not making enough ISK to cover the cost of your bombing runs.

So why do we fly stealth bombers if not for the potential ISK you'll make?

There are lots of reasons out there but here are mine:

  • The thrill of sitting cloaked 30 km away from your target, you knowing they are about to die, but them not having a clue
  • The chance they will catch you and pop you is a huge adrenaline rush
  • We control the battlefield when we stealth bomb, if we don't want to engage or think that it's not worth it, you'll never know we were there
  • Camaraderie with other stealth bombers. Even if you don't know them, or maybe even if they are normally your enemy you still share in some unspoken bond.
  • Because blopping (black ops cyno hotdrop) 20+ stealth bombers on a Dominix ratting in asteroid belts, and then lighting him up with so many torpedoes that he'll be shitting missiles for a week is extremely fun. 
The reasons go on and on, but ISK isn't one of them for me. I have to earn ISK other ways to pay for my bombing habit. You can make ISK bombing, but I don't think that ISK is in the top ten reasons why any of us do it. If you plan it right you can make it, but it will take lots of set up and patience.

Patience is one of the key attributes a bomber needs to possess. The ability to set a trap, know where your pray will be, and then wait for the proper moment is crucial. For example, right now Relic sites are the big thing out there that everyone seems to be doing. What better place for a trap? You know the ship that is going to show up will likely be a scanning frigate, and it doesn't take very long to wait if you pick the proper system with a high likelihood of traffic passing through regularly. Scan down the site, bookmark it, then hang out in the site all cloaked up and positioned to bomb one of the relic containers. Since the target will likely be a covert ops frigate, your steps should look something like this:

  1.  Position yourself 30km from one of the containers
  2. Cloak
  3. Wait for target to show up
  4. Align to target/celestial
  5. Uncloak
  6. Bomb
  7. Target 
  8. Activate Target Painter if you have one
  9. Active Warp Scram if you have one
  10. Launch Torpedoes over and over again (just in case)
  11. Orbit at 15-20 km until target is dead

This is a safe way to practice bombing on a target that most likely won't be able to fight back.  Your bomb may be able to pop the frigate in one shot, but the added torpedoes are there just in case. Typically you would launch bomb and already be aligned to a celestial or warp away point, and then get the hell out of there. But against a target you know can't fight back, might as well finish the job in person.

If you want to try a can flipping trap in high sec, you can do the same thing by leaving a cargo container in a relic site with some tempting cargo inside. Hack one of the relic containers and leave the rest. This way the prey will think someone did visit site, but had to leave, and just left their cargo behind too. They take the cargo container, turn yellow suspect, and then you uncloak and share with them the penalties of breaking the law :)

Either way, planning and patience are your best friends.

Fly safe

Friday, July 5, 2013

Eve Online: Back in Null Sec

Do you own a pair of jeans or a favorite shirt that if given the choice you will always choose first? You know the ones I mean, and depending on your taste they might be brand new or if you're more like me they are years old, worn in, and likely have some wear and tear and likely have a few holes in them. You put them on and they fit so perfect you don't even have to look in the mirror to see how they look.

That's the feeling I had when we finally got back to null sec. We have recently been staying in high sec for a week due to corporation mergers and needing to rejoin the alliance we belong to. The week in high sec was way too long in my opinion. When our application was accepted, we had 24 hours until we were officially part of the alliance again. As soon as the "Alliance" channel popped up in the chat windows, I docked, left my ship, paused training, and jump cloned back to our home in Null.

There were three neutrals in system when I jumped in, and in high sec it's no big deal to see dozens if not hundreds of [ ] brackets in your overview without any color either positive or negative. In non high security space, neutral is as good as hostile (red/orange). The general rule is NBSI (Not Blue, Shoot It). The only exception to that is when I fly with Bombers Bar which operates under the NPSI (Not Purple, Shoot It), purple being the standard color for members in your own fleet. You might be flying side by side with an enemy you can't stand, but if they're purple you put aside your differences for the fleet.

I don't currently have a scanning ship out in null sec, my last one got blown up at a huge gate camp. I even used: Align, MWD, Cloak, and after a few thousand meters slightly changed directions so they couldn't predict which direction I'd be going in, and they stills swarmed me with two dozens ships and hundreds of drones, found me, and popped me.

The jump bridge is supposed to be up and running now that will reduce the number of jumps it takes to make it back to high sec down to three jumps instead of 15 or so. I need to sell about a billion in loot and even though I have a blockade runner, I would rather use a jump bridge than risk the gate camps with that much loot. I'm still not sure "how" to use a jump bridge, but I think I figured it out. I fly up to one the other day, right clicked on it, and it said "Jump to XXX" where ever it was connected to. I know fuel is involved, but I'm not quite sure how the mechanics of that whole thing work. I'm sure I'll figure it out the hard way in the next day or so.

The sense of being in constant danger has returned, which is good because without it I would surely die. In high sec you're told not to trust anyone, in null sec this is amplified a hundred times over. People have alts on both sides of wars/alliances and even though you think you're talking to a fellow alliance member, you very well could be talking to the guy that camps your station daily and tries to cyno hotdrop anyone that engages him.

Ahhh, all the death, intrigue, and heighten sense of fear... It's good to be home. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eve Online: Suicide Gank Gone Wrong

We all make mistakes in Eve, although I suspect that I make them far too often. That being said, I haven't repeated the same mistake more than once that I can recall. I haven't fallen for the "Why won't this station let me dock?" scam more than once, or the "I'm going to sit 100km away from station and wait for you to come to me, so I can drop a cyno" more than once, or the "Let's go suicide gank someone, and then fail horribly" more than once.... so far.

Three days ago, our corporation and our sister corporation merged into a one new corporation. During this time, we had to leave our old corporation and join the new one, which also meant that we had to reapply to join the alliance that we are part of. There is a waiting period to be approved and added back into the alliance, so in the meantime all of our members jump cloned out to high sec to spend a few days running errands. Reason is that we are not currently "blue" to the alliance, and since we can't dock at our own outpost, we decided to try and use our time wisely.

Two days passed and we were all bored out of our minds in high sec, trying to find ways to spice up our days so we don't die staring at our screens, accomplishing nothing. We tried running level 4 missions for a day, and for a day it was fun again, but not lucrative. The 2nd day we didn't even bother with level 4 missions anymore. I spent a few hours scanning trying to find some combat sites and relic sites to run, just to compare to ones we've been running out in null sec. The difference in difficulty and potential ISK is night and day, plus there are hundreds of people scanning in high sec, all competing for a few hundred thousand ISK. In null sec I can make 100-200 million on one Relic site. I've seen multiple covert ops scanning frigates running relic sites in high sec, and it just makes me laugh. That player could take that same ship into null sec or low sec and drastically increase their earnings. Even if they lose a ship every now and then, their profit margin will be well worth the risk.

Yesterday we were so bored that five of us decided to organize a suicide gank. Aside from shooting ninja salvagers, none of us have ever organized or participated in a suicide gank. I've read about them a few times, watched a few happen, so I attempted to devise a plan to gank someone on their way to JITA in a tech 1 hauler. We all fit up catalysts and between the 5 of us, we have about 2000 dps we can dish out. I fit a passive targeting module and a cargo scanner, so we can make sure that we don't try to gank an empty hauler. At this point, I'm sitting on one side of a gate watching and scanning ships as the approach, and the rest of our crew is on the other side of the gate ready to pounce.

This is where the problems arise. Even though everyone in our group has never been part of a suicide gank before, everyone thinks they are an expert and won't quit shouting orders and suggestions. Some members leave the other side of the gate and go try and scout other gates for suitable targets (mind you I'm the only one with a cargo scanner), and they keep calling out "ITERON V OVER HERE!" or "BADGER MARK II" , blah blah blah. It takes a few minutes to convince them that I am the only one with a cargo scanner, and I'm not going to chase down all these ships when there are plenty passing right in front of me.

To make a long story not too long, I finally found a suitable target carrying about 100 million ISK in value and auto piloting. If half of that drops, it'll cover the cost of our ships, but probably nothing more. We're really only doing this for the fun anyways, not trying to find a billion ISK cargo and an easy kill. I inform the crew that the target ship is jumping into their system now and to watch what gate they jump to when they come in then we'll gank them as they slow boat to the next gate. Meanwhile, I am jumping through too to help out. Everyone watches, and everyone thinks the target ship jumps to a different gate........ great. Everyone follows their own gates and I randomly pick one to go to since I have no clue at all (apparently they don't either).

Luck is on my side and I choose the right gate, the target is slow boating towards the next gate when I land. I let everyone know to warp to me and and that once everyone gets there we'll take him down. Someone hears "Take him down" and starts shooting....shit. Another one shows up and starts shooting because he sees someone else already shooting, by this time the first guy has blown up from concord. I decide to go ahead and start shooting hoping to still get the kill even though we don't have everyone here yet. Concord quickly pops the second ganker and then turns on me. The other two warp just in time to see me blow up, and the target auto pilot jumps into the next system. Epic fail for all of us.

Now time for some retrospective and lessons learned:

1) To everyone that hates gankers, congrats to you for getting a good laugh at our expense. Happy to oblige.

2) When you run a fleet op there needs to be only ONE fleet commander (maybe a backup if he gets podded), but only one person should be calling out orders or it confuses the shit out of the entire fleet. When 5 people are talking at the same time, all telling everyone to do something different, you're bound to fail. Even if the FC gets it wrong and everyone dies anyways, your mission has a lot more chance of success if only one person is in charge.

3) Concord was sitting on our faces when we started to attack and even though we were in a .6 system, there response time was reduced to almost nothing. Next time, we need to commit a crime and draw them away, or find a spot with no concord.

4) I really miss null sec.

5) I had a 3.5 security status before attacking the target, and lost .1 for the criminal act. Not too bad at all. I don't know if you actually lose more if you blow up their ship, but I do know you take a big hit if you pod someone. I'm hoping that once you commit the crime of attacking someone, you don't lose an additional security hit when their ship blows up. Obviously you want their ship to blow up, otherwise you wouldn't have attacked them. Two standing hits for the same act would be stupid, but I don't know how that works.

6) Aside from the epic fail, it was fun and it was an adrenaline rush. I'm not going to make a living out of it, but I wouldn't be opposed to attempting that once a month, just for shits and grins.

7) Next time, I'll probably find another location and not near JITA. There were gankers everywhere, which also meant there was CONCORD everywhere.