Day 2622: New Frontiers
While new Eden is more or less unchanged, the recent ship evolutions and new capsuleer equipment feel like new frontiers have been opened. Personal deployable structures like the Mobile Depot or Mobile Tractor Unit are slowly changing the way we live our in-space lives. With such flexibility and added autonomy while in space, I think that these tools are able to some extent to redefine the role that stations play. Refitting your ship in space was a small revolution with the launch of the Orca, even if it meant you needed a buddy with one. Now however, for the cost of only 50 m3 in your cargo hold, you can refit virtually anywhere, anytime. No need to fly back to station if you forgot to switch out your hardeners, with enough cargo space you can even carry several fittings around with you. Explorers can use them as a base of operations of sorts, bringing back the loot they gather without ever needing to dock at a station – you only need a hauler trip to collect everything. Granted, with a station or POS nearby there are few reasons to do so, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you are far afield.
With the mobile tractor unit, for 100 m3 more in your cargo, you can also free up the high slot usually used for the tractor beam. Aeon being a big fan of automating redundant tasks, the Mobile Tractor Unit was a very welcome addition indeed. He launches it when he warps into mission space, and lets it do all the tedious work of collecting loot and gathering up wrecks. Combined with salvage drones to do the salvaging, that is even one more high slot module less to worry about. Of course it is not as effective as using a dedicated ship like the Noctis, and these tools were never meant as a replacement for a dedicated salvager: more often than not, you need to linger after all npcs have been destroyed waiting for the salvage drones to finish salvaging. If you are a long way from home however, being able to do all that without sacrificing precious module slots is a boon.
Both Aeon and Loreena embraced these new tools instantly. Loreena bought the original blueprints to be independent of the inevitably unrealistic startup market prices, and has built enough to outfit most of the ships with them. This is when Aeon realized that Amarr ships have a distinct advantage: since they do not need to carry large amounts of ammo like missile or projectile based ships, they have the most spare cargo space and can easily carry all the extra weight.
Marauders: Overkill works.
Speaking of cargo space, Aeon’s Paladin-class marauder “Sparhawk’s Wrath” while having 100 m3 less space than its other racial counterparts, still beats them in terms of raw free space. Aeon carries some tracking computer scripts, a few sets of T2 and T1 laser crystals, a Mobile Depot and a Mobile Tractor Unit. This gives him a useable space of 940 m3, enough to loot and salvage most level 4 clearance missions.
The marauder class battleships have been the pinnacle of the PvE playstyle since their inception, but with the new bastion module they have been elevated to something way beyond. The added tanking capability frees up more space for damage or utility-related modules, turning them into machines of mass destruction – which are, to boot, impervious to any kind of electronic warfare. The only drawback in bastion mode is that the ship becomes stationary and cannot receive logistics support. Considering the staggering speed at which these behemoths usually fly, becoming stationary is not exactly an issue. Aeon’s “Sparhawk’s Wrath” manages a blinding 121 m/s top speed, barely more than a snail anyway. The logistics support limitations are primarily directed at fleet warfare, where it definitely makes sense. With the added resistances accross the board in bastion mode, keeping a marauder alive with logistics would be way too easy.
In practice, these additions are real game changers for mission runners, one of the easily overlooked advantages being that you need a lot less bling to do the same or better. Aeon used to have very expensive X-Type armor hardener modules to improve “Sparhawk’s Wrath” tank, but these have now been replaced by faction heat sinks. As it stands, only the armor repairer has any real value in the eyes of a ganker, and even that is not really worth the fight. While Aeon is certainly not entirely off the hook, it goes a long way to make him a less attractive target for gankers – and at the same time, he was able to drastically increase the ship’s damage output.
The most impressive bit however is the increased range: Aeon uses Pulse lasers on “Sparhawk’s Wrath”, which have higher damage output and use less capacitor than Beam lasers – with the tradeoff of being short range. To circumvent that limitation somewhat, Aeon has been using double Tracking Computers with Optimal Range scripts for a while now. Without the bastion module, this gives him an optimal range of 80Km with Scorch crystals. With the bastion module enabled, this goes up to 96Km (115Km with falloff)… not bad for close-range turrets. In case of tracking issues or when the npcs are orbiting close, Aeon simply switches to Tracking Speed scripts. This enables him to hit up to destroyer-sized ships as long as they orbit no closer than approximately 13Km.
Sisters of EVE: Widening the boundaries of exploration
When the Sisters of EVE promoted a few (two, to be exact) more security agents to level 4 clearance, Aeon took “X-Wing”, his Golem-class Marauder, over to Minmatar space to run some missions for them. The aim was to earn enough loyalty points with them to purchase a Stratios blueprint from them. When he got to Lanngisi, there were almost as many capsuleers at work in the system as in the major trade hubs like Rens. After running a single mission in which ninja salvagers fought among themselves over Aeon’s wrecks, he decided to give up and wait out the novelty – the tension in the area was easily palpable. It was no good place to bring an expensively fitted ship like the Golem, even if there was an impressive amount of high-end ships constantly docking and undocking from the single station in-system. Aeon needed a ship that would not attract too much attention.
About a month later, the opportunity presented itself. A capsuleer friend was working up her standings with the Sisters of EVE by running level 1 clearance missions. Anyone who has had to grind level 1 missions for standings will know how much fun that is. Aeon jumped on the occasion to help out by fleeting up and sharing his level 4 standing rewards and loyalty points. He also found the perfect ship for the job: “Awooooogah MK2”, a Typhoon Fleet Issue class battleship. With just plain faction modules, it was not worth ganking. However, with its speed tanking capabilities and damage output, it was more than adequate to run any level 4 mission.
Aeon freely admits to being somewhat pampered by the Marauder’s fighting style (Loreena enjoys teasing him with that), but the experience of flying the Typhoon was quite a revelation. It was pure, unhindered joy and carnage. A battleship that fast is not to be taken lightly, and the already quite adequate tank turns into somewhat of a wonder as soon as you start orbiting things. At an orbit range of 3500 metres, the ship can maintain an orbit speed above 300 m/s, as fast as some heavy combat drones like the Ogre or Wasp. In the course of the missions Aeon encountered, very few situations stressed the tank much, as log as he made good use of the ship’s speed. Even missions with longer distances to the connecting acceleration gates were actually enjoyable.
In just two days of heavy grinding, Aeon had been able to elevate his friend’s standings substantially, as well as earn enough loyalty points with the Sisters of EVE to redeem a Stratios blueprint copy from their loyalty store. After all the hype around the new Sisters ships Aeon was happy to be able to finally testdrive this new tool. The mission loot modules Aeon had collected over the last missions were just enough to build the ship, and since these blueprints require very little manufacturing skills, Aeon was able to build the ship directly on the spot.
The next morning, the ship was ready. With all the recent changes in New Eden, Aeon felt that a little symbolism was in order. He christened the ship “New Frontiers”, a fitting name for an exploration ship in an age of exploration. A lengthy and fun EFT session came up with a first experimental fit for the ship, which surprisingly makes a very good replacement for the exploration Legion Aeon had been using before the T3 cruisers were banned from using many of the exploration acceleration gates.
There is just one slightly scary detail about the design of the Stratios. From the manufacturer’s description:
“The crew itself is safely protected from any number of transmittable ailments from rescues and other unexpected passengers, thanks to special quarantine bays that are conveniently located near jettisonable openings”
Which is to mean what exactly? That if a capsuleer picks up some sick refugees, he can jettison them in space on a whim? It is very uncharacteristic of the Sisters of EVE, even if the solution itself is indeed very practical. I suppose that it’s a good deterrent for picking up stowaways if they know they can be jettisoned even faster than before… Because we all know that it’s just a matter of convenience, illegal passengers are “airlocked” all the time 🙂
The infamous sidenote
I mentioned my additional character in the previous log‘s sidenote, the project has changed somewhat. I should know better by now that to try to go out of my usual playstyle. Not that it is a bad thing, it is always fun – but it never lasts. I always come back to what I already do with Aeon and Loreena. The upside is that I’m learning a lot by living in lowsec, in particular honing my survival skills. I have been playing for over seven years now, and nullsec still eludes me – but nor for lack of enthusiasm. I make short forays there, but I know by now that my real life lifestyle just does not permit the required concentration for prolonged visits. It used to bother me quite a bit, but then I realized that I don’t care enough. I like the casual playstyle with occasional thrills.
The plan now is to get that character into a Vargur, the only marauder that I have not flown yet. Depending on what I decide, I may add the character to the captain’s logs to relate the lowsec adventures – but I will cross that bridge when I feel like it. For now I am not even sure it will be a permanent project 🙂
To finish off, eye candy!
Level V skills: 141
Level IV skills: 74
Known skills: 253
ISK Balance: 162.000.000
Training: Caldari Cruiser V
Level V skills: 140
Level IV skills: 46
Known skills: 233
ISK Balance: 272.000.000
Training: Minmatar Electronic Systems V