Jan 5 2015

Day 3005: Nullsec trek

The stealth run

The itch to put Alea’s Nemesis‘ Interdiction Nullifier to the test prompted Aeon to dig up his old nullsec traveling plans again. He had not used the ship in quite a while, so the first step was to entirely review its fitting and adjust it to the task at hand. When Aeon was satisfied with the results, the next few days were spent doing trial runs to reawaken all the old reflexes that would be needed again after a longer stay in high security space. This included remembering how not panic, how to warp safely between gates and avoid bubbles (best to keep good practices even with the nullifier), how to gather intel on the activity in the systems on the route, how to evade pursuit and how not to panic (best to remember that twice).

The route itself was straightforward: a well used access pipeline into nullsec, and then a route through nullsec that would lead by a few notable locations in the same area (the wreck of Titan Steve being the main event), then exit through another pipeline at the end. To make the journey slightly safer, I waited for a day with a low pilot count on the server, combined with a usually quiet hour. Loreena scouted the access pipeline, which was comfortably quiet, then Aeon was on his way. He knew his choice of ship would make it more likely that he would be chased, but he’s stubborn like that. As I hoped, the systems on Aeon’s route were largely unpopulated, and the few people that were there did not pursue. When he reached the Steve system, there was a small fleet of about 8 people there. A quick investigation showed they were nowhere near the memorial itself, and surprisingly they kept to themselves while Aeon took some screenshots. Still, not one to play with fire longer than absolutely necessary, he did not linger. The only real encounter was a duo of interceptors that came to investigate while Aeon was visiting an abandoned caldari station. Luckily Aeon had already taken his screenshots and had cloaked up again. Loreena later argued that it was foolish to even uncloak to take a screenshot, but I can relate. No point in taking all these risks if you can’t even show off a little bit.

The next few sytems were empty, so Aeon could take in the impressive sight of a cluster of shattered planets without being disturbed at all. He stayed there for a cup of tea and two cookies, then made his way to the exit pipeline. Two systems there had bubbles and some apparently quite well organized gate camps, but luckily they were made to catch people coming in, not going out. Aeon did not bring anything back from this trip except the screenshots, but it was a first step in completing a plan that he made many years ago. It felt good to see him dust off old dreams like that, and I do not think he slacked his thirst for nullsec adventuring just yet. There are quite a number of locations still on his list, so Alea’s Nemesis is now safely parked in a high security space station until preparations for the next trek are done.

Of course all this would not have been possible at home with the satellite internet connection and its high latency: I had to do it in the office so I would be able to react in time to any situations that may arise. Being able to compare the latency to the regular DSL line in the office, I realized how much of a difference it can make: speed tests on sat vs office showed latencies of 719ms vs 31ms. Almost a full second delay when sending a command can very easily get you killed, even in a covert ops frigate. This made me wonder how high latency has to be to become a problem, since PvP fights are usually very short-lived, and small command delays can have big consequences.

On a sidenote™:

I mentioned a while ago that I started a third (still undisclosed) character, which I wanted to use for experimenting with playstyles I had not tried so far. Plans were mainly to try out nullsec life in a big alliance and factional warfare. As all good plans, they failed utterly 🙂 Nullsec life turned out to be as evasive as I expected it to be, not because of nullsec itself (which is pretty cool) but because of the way I play EVE. I cannot use voice comms because I either play semi-afk in the office where that is just not done, or at home where I have to be attentive to things outside of the game. Despite quite some efforts I ended up being pretty useless to the corp I joined, and that is just too frustrating. After that fiasco, I did not even try factional warfare anymore. I know for a fact by now that I do not have the time to learn how to PvP properly, and I did not want to join up just to be useless yet again.

Still, after all this I did not regret starting a third character. Aeon and Loreena are both so tied up in their own roles that there are many things I will not do with them anymore. I realize that sounds a bit sad, but it really isn’t. I like where they both are after slowly growing into their respective roles, and I definitely want them to stay there. This third character is more of a sandbox to try out things (except unlawful stuff, that is still where I draw the line) without having to worry about anything, and once I am done exploring I should not have any trouble to let go of it (I hope). Any new things I learn I can then translate back to Aeon and Loreena. Right now the highlight is that I can fly a Vargur with it, which actually managed to make Aeon envious. I must say, that is one hell of a ship. Aeon never trained projectiles far enough to use the tech II variants, and seeing what the ship delivers I think Aeon will want to train up a bit after all.

Mastery levels and skills

Speaking of the Vargur: While training up for it, I found the ship mastery levels actually quite helpful – up to level IV. Level V is just silly. After three years more or less beelining for the Vargur, my third character has reached mastery level IV of the ship. According to the ingame previsions, it would take another 360+ days for mastery level V – I believe that to be a tad excessive. Aeon himself has reached mastery level V of the Armageddon a few months back for some weird reason, and has just recently unlocked quite a few more battleships by training the Armor Layering skill to V. In his case it is utterly useless, since he does not use any armor plates. Then again, why bother unlocking mastery levels at all? As an EVE veteran, I know I do not need some of those skills… Except that I have to admit seeing those golden badges in ISIS feels good. I could hit myself for falling into the trap, but I cannot help it 😛

Roleplaying

An unexpected side effect of starting the third character was testdriving some roleplaying corps and channels. Eventually I settled on the Intergalactic Summit channel, wich has some very good content at times. If you feel inspired and want to discuss current game events or even simply EVE-related things, it is often enough to post something to spark a conversation. With the current sleeper activity, there were some really good conversations going on. I had a lot of fun participating there, which gave me some insights into a community I wanted to have a look at for a long time. I think what I enjoyed even more than some good conversation though was that everyone was polite. No smacktalk, no trolling… very uncharacteristic for EVE.

Eye Candy!

This time in double screen format, since I had spread the EVE window over two screens. It’s a thoroughly weird format, since it was one 16:9 ratio screen and one 16:10, so I had to resize accordingly. Still, it was fun to have such a large view for once. It gives the game a whole new depth. New item for the 2015 wishlist: a second screen with a matching aspect ratio.

The Wreck Of Titan Steve
Shattered Planets
Abandoned Caldari Outpost
Inspecting The Abadoned Station
Ringed Planet Flyby
Classic EVE Space Scenery
Legion Exploration
Starting The Nullsec Trek


Jan 8 2014

Day 2622: New Frontiers

Living in deep space: The mobile depot
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.

Sparhawk's Wrath: Paladin-class Marauder
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.

Worldsplitter: Kronos-class Marauder
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.

Pro tip: always carry a cheap, small volume item in your cargo: when there is nothing nearby to orbit, jettison it and orbit the container.

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.

Stratios Exploration Cruiser
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!

Angus' Fist: Hyperion-class BattleshipInitiating system jump - Hyperion-class BattleshipCoasting at Choonkas Diner in the Ashab systemDerelict Minmatar StargateAwooogah MK2: Fleet issue Typhoon-class BattleshipSentient drone battleship


Sep 5 2013

Day 2519: Evolution

Everyone evolves personally through experience. From hard setbacks to simple enlightening realizations, we slowly increase our comprehension of the complex world we live in. Aeon is no exception, even if he lives in a fictional universe. One might argue that even if New Eden is fictional, the events and experiences happening in that alternate reality have a solid basis in fact through the thoughts and emotions that we, as puppet masters, feel as we instill life into our imaginary avatars.

2013.06.08.09.19.20_rip_armex_research_industry_pos
One such hard setback was Aeon losing his second POS during my vacation. I had everything set for the time out, from skill training to planetary installations production plans – or so I thought. The one detail I missed was refueling the POS, which would have easily made it last for the time I was away. An offline POS being a choice target, a noname corp managed to find it and destroy it. I prefer not to think too much about everything he lost in there, but let it be a lesson; What exactly the lesson should be is another matter. I suppose there are several lessons hidden in there, one of which is that EVE stays true to its reputation of being a harsh universe.

What has always defined Aeon is that he sees setbacks not only as lessons to be learned, but also opportunities to tread new paths. POSs are out of the picture for a while, so new plans were forged for the winter. Several things presented themselves almost instantly: a change of scenery, and a new ride. Aeon has been out of Minmatar space for way too long, and having at long last perfected his missile skills, he now also has the tools to take the fight to those pesky Angel rats with the right tools. Anyone who has shot at Angels with lasers will be able to tell you that it is not particularly effective.

The plan, as it stands, is to move back to Minnie space and to prepare for his new ride. It has been in preparation for the better part of one year on and off: a Black Ops ship, possibly a Redeemer class one. The Black Ops skill level V is finishing in about 9 days, but the issue will be the cash flow. The loss of the POS and unproductive lifestyle have left Aeon’s liquid assets pretty low. No ship nor module gets sold, so new cash has to be earned. I think he has his work cut out for him for the winter, as the ship costs upward of 1.2 billion without fitting. Those Angels better brace themselves, methinks they are in for a few sobering encounters.

Speaking of missions and experience, sometimes obvious facts and concepts take a while to permeate one’s brain. Aeon is no exception, and while he has been familiar with the concept of damage types to defend against and to attack with for quite some time, one fact had been eluding him until recently: it is a good idea to combine your defensive modules with the adequate type of tank. In plain text, if for example you fly against Sansha rats who deal primarily EM and thermal damage, you should use an armor tanked ship – because armor is naturally a lot more resistant to EM and thermal damage than shields. Mindboggingly obvious, but still quite a revelation. Add some damage specific hardeners to this, and suddenly you have a much better tank with less effort as compared to a shield tanked ship that is naturally weak to EM and thermal damage.

What this realization brought about is a more conscious choice of ship depending on the enemy Aeon is facing in missions. The Paladin is still the ship of choice for Sansha missions, but for Angel missions for example the Golem is a much better choice – especially since it can shoot explosive missiles. Scientists have yet to find a way to put explosive power into lasers (seriously, what’s keeping them?). Aeon’s top choice of ships currently consists of:

– “Sparhawks Wrath”, Paladin-class, Armor tanked, Pulse lasers
– “Serottas Legacy”, Nightmare-class, Shield tanked, Pulse lasers
– “X-Wing”, Golem-class, Shield tanked, Cruise missiles
– “Angus’ Fist”, Hyperion-class, Armor tanked, Blasters

The one big trouble with Marauder Battleships like the Paladin or the Golem are their sensor strengths. Sansha rats these days have very effective and annoying tracking disruption, so the weak sensor strength makes them easy targets. If you try to run a mission like The Blockade in the Paladin without fitting a Radar ECCM module, you will be frustrated very quickly. Pirate battleships like the Nightmare on the other hand have very good sensor strength, and do not need ECCM modules. The fit Aeon uses on the Paladin makes it a hassle to refit to use an ECCM module, so when he is feeling lazy he just uses the Golem. Missiles are immune to tracking disruption (as they do not track like turrets), so it is a good choice even if the shield tank is not the optimal configuration.

I think Aeon is looking forward to the change. He has a long history of moving around nomadically, then settling down somewhere for a while until some invisible switch is flipped. The switch has just been flipped, and as always the change washes a new wave of purpose over him. He’s looking forward to Lustrevik, the ancestral home of Syrkos Technologies, as well as the neighboring Metropolis region and the mysterious Cosmos constellations. Aeon has exhausted the missioning opportunities with the cosmos agents, but Loreena has been wanting to run some of those missions with Aeon’s help. Also, the minmatar epic arc awaits once more (it resets every 6 months or so last time I checked).

I also look forward to watching Aeon make his traditional stop in Ammold, the station where he christened and flew his first ship ever. It is heartening in a way to see how even creatures as evolved as pod pilots will still cling to simple things such as these. In as harsh a universe as New Eden, this gives me hope for mankind.

The traditional sidenote

I have started a little experiment on the side with another (undisclosed) character. I joined a roleplaying corp, and found the experience quite interesting. I figured that since I like writing and stories in general, I’d have a go. It is a bit awkward at times when you have to stay in-character and refrain from putting smiley faces at the end of every sentence, but after getting used to it it is good fun. When inspiration strikes it can make for some epic stories wrought by several people together. I recommend to at least try it once 🙂

Eye candy!

Illegal research station somewhere in Tash-MurkonTarget practice during the The Anomaly mission


Jan 30 2013

Day 2298: Research POS

Invention and production POSAs part of my personal campaign to try out all the features that EVE offers, I have started my second attempt at maintaining a POS and actually doing something with it. I put up my first POS about two years ago, and it did help me research some vanilla BPOs I had bought, but I never did anything with them. I ended up selling them, and the POS was destroyed when it went offline after I forgot to refuel it. I did not mourn that loss very much, because it had managed to sedentarize Aeon – which is entirely out of character for him. This time, Loreena embraced the project. It’s just as well I think, because she is a lot better with numbers – and there are zounds of numbers to crunch if you ever try to venture into invention.

As is customary in all my projects, I asked around what I needed for a highsec POS and did exactly the opposite. The recommendation was to go for one med or large tower (preferably large), and to put a very complex combination of hardeners, guns and electronic warfare turrets on it to protect the labs and assembly arrays I would need. I went for a small POS instead with absolutely no guns or ewar turrets of any kind. Why? Let me sum that up:

  • If someone wardecs the corp, I just take it down before the fighting starts.
  • It limits the amount of assets that can get lost in a worst case scenario.
  • It’s a lot less hassle to set up.
  • It’s inconspicuous if someone warps by in search of juicy targets.

After deciding that Loreena would set up the POS, I had to start at the very beginning: standings. I wanted to anchor the tower in Amarr highsec, so Loreena’s corp needed faction standings of at least 5 to be able to anchor it in a 0.5 system (6 for 0.6, 7 for 0.7, etc.). As chance would have it, she had been helping Aeon out missioning for the Ammatar Mandate. Incidentally this had already put her Amarr standings right where I needed them. From there, I chose an Amarr Control Tower small, more for its looks than anything else. There is no restriction on which type of tower you can anchor, so you can put up a minmatar tower in Amarr space if you like. Usually you choose the tower according to what you want to anchor. POS structures are like ship modules in that they need CPU and power, and the towers are like ships in that they provide more or less of each. Here’s an overview of the small control towers:

  • Amarr: PG 1.250.000 MW, CPU: 1.375
  • Caldari: PG 687.000 MW, CPU: 1875
  • Gallente: PG 937.500 MW, CPU: 1688
  • Minmatar: PG 1.093.750 MW, CPU: 1500

If you want to anchor more research labs, favor the Caldari or Gallente variants. The Amarr and Minmatar variants are more all-rounders and allow you to anchor a mix of large power-hungry structures with few CPU hungry ones mixed in. In my case, I wanted to be able to research my BPOs, invent from them and build the resulting T2 BPCs. To do that, Loreena had to set up a tower with the following things:

  • An Advanced Mobile Laboratory: Copying / ME / Invention slots
  • A Mobile Laboratory: Copying / ME / PE / Invention
  • An Equipment Assembly Array: to manufacture modules
  • 7000 Amarr Fuel Blocks (or matching your tower’s race) for ~28 days autonomy
  • 4166 Strontium Clathrates
  • As many Amarr Empire Starbase Charters as you like (or matching your system’s sovereign empire). Tip: use your loyalty points!

Hint: one character can at most handle 10 concurrent research and 10 concurrent manufacturing jobs. If only one character will be using the POS, anchoring more than two labs would be overkill.

As you can see, there is no need to put up a medium or large tower for that setup, it fits snugly even into the small Amarr tower’s CPU. After a little shopping tour, Loreena had all the required items in the Orca, from the tower to all structures. Packaged they only weighed 24250 m3 all together, so even a rigged T1 hauler can carry it all in one trip. Still, the Orca was a good choice because she also had to carry the Fuel Blocks, Strontium Clathrates and Starbase Charters, which weigh a little over 35.000 m3 together.

Anchoring the tower is a little convoluted, but easier than you’d expect:

  • Find an unoccupied moon (just fly to them to check).
  • Right-click the tower in your ship’s cargo hold (it won’t work out of a fleet hangar) and select “Launch for corporation”.
  • The tower will then appear in space with the mention “Unanchored”. Right-click it again, and select “Anchor structure”. The tower will be firmly anchored in the moon’s orbit, which takes 15 minutes.
  • When it’s finished anchoring, open the tower’s fuel bay, and put the fuel blocks and starbase charters in it.
  • Right-click the tower and select “Put online”. This takes 15 minutes again.
  • While you wait, you can also fill the Strontium Clathrates bay.
  • Once the tower is online, right-click it again and select “Manage”.
  • Enter a password for the forcefield and click “Apply”. The shield will now pop up, and your POS is ready to roll.

Anchoring the structures you want to use is easy and tricky at the same time. Use the same steps than for the tower to start anchoring a lab, for example. When you right-click to anchor the structure in space, you will see a green box with arrows that you can use to select the exact position where you want the structure. Structures snap to an invisible grid, and placing them is the difficult part: You want to be able to access everything from one location without moving around in your ship. You have to make sure to have a spot you can move your ship and from where everything is under 2500 Metres away, including the tower itself.

A few pointers for this: structures have to be spaced by one grid unit in order not to hinder each other. Some structures need more space than others, like the Equipment Assembly Array, which is quite gigantic. I suggest to just fiddle around with this until you’re happy with the result. You can unanchor things and move them around again at will, and luckily for you this does not take tens of minutes each time like it used to a while back, but seconds. Once you’re ok with the layout, online everything and you can start working 🙂

Starting the invention

Since Aeon had sold his entire blueprint collection, Loreena had to buy a few new ones. Nothing fancy to start with, just a bunch of module blueprints that looked like they could be sold without making a total loss, and which would be easy and fast to work with. For example, she bought a Heat Sink I module blueprint, so she started with doing some ME and PE research on it. The best way to find out how far you want to research a BPO is by using the BPOCalc website. Just type the name of your blueprint, and it tells you how much ME/PE you need. In the case of the Heat Sink I BPO, I went for 40 ME which seemed like a good compromise. Besides, you can always go back to it later and optimize further.

Note: You don’t have to do ME/PE research on a BPO to invent from it, but usually you will use the BPO to build the T1 item required to build the T2 variant from it, so it’s good practice to research it so you don’t waste materials needlessly.

Now that Loreena had everything she needed, the mayhem truly began. To invent a T2 blueprint copy from a T1 blueprint, you have to make copies of the T1 BPO first. You can only use blueprint copies for invention, and make sure you use max-run copies (more on that later). For testing purposes I invented some 1-run copies, which is very fast – after 10 minutes Loreena had 10 copies to work with. Beyond the thankfully light skill requirements for invention, all she needed was some datacores and a matching data interface. This is the same for any invention job: a set of datacores, and one data interface. The data interface is expensive, but it is not used up, so it can be used endlessly. Datacores have to be bought from market, but having one or more research agents can help with that supply.

Once you have all you need to run an invention job, the last hurdle is clicking through the invention window. If you have read this far I trust you will be able to select the installation in which to run your invention job. You will have a window that looks like this:

Invention window

Important to note for beginners is that for meta 1 items you do not need the base item, and decryptors are only worth investing in for bigger, more expensive items. It will not change the odds of inventing a T2 BPC if you use a base item, so don’t bother. Prepare for disappointment though, because you will often invent less than half of the invention jobs you put up. Training the science skills on which a blueprint is based up to at least 4 helps a lot, but as you will soon discover that is a time intensive undertaking.

Mixing in some decryption

If you start working with bigger items like ships (cruiser-sized and above), adding some decryptors into the mix can be beneficial. Decryptors modify the chance of invention as well as the quality and amount of runs of the T2 BPC. Of course higher quality decryptors can be quite expensive, so it is always a gamble to use one. They are unique for each race, but regardless of race there are always 5 types with the following modifiers:

  • Tier 1 (Like Circular Logic):
    Probability: 60%
    Max run: +9
    ME: -2
    PE: +1

  • Tier 2 (Like Sacred Manifesto):
    Probability: 100%
    Max run: +2
    ME: +1
    PE: +4

  • Tier 3 (Like Formation Layout):
    Probability: 110%
    Max run: –
    ME: +3
    PE: +5

  • Tier 4 (Like Classic Doctrine):
    Probability: 120%
    Max run: +1
    ME: +2
    PE: +5

  • Tier 5 (Like War Strategon):
    Probability: 180%
    Max run: +4
    ME: -1
    PE: +2

As you can see, a tier 5 decryptor increases chances of success significantly, but expect those to come at a hefty price (last time I checked around 30-50 mil a piece), since they are quite rare. My recommendation: buy them in Jita, the prices are usually more competitive there. Personally I have used some I had collected a while ago when I was running cosmos complexes with some pretty good results – but for simple modules it is really not worth wasting them.

Beyond invention: building T2 items

I realize I have no spoken much of numbers so far – if you just want to testdrive invention, there’s no need to concern yourself too much with numbers. If on the other hand you want to do more, then an industry tool or a self-cooked spreadsheet are the next step, especially if you want to take on the full chain of production as well. When I finally had some T2 BPCs and had a look at the manufacturing requirements, I sobered up just a little.

Turns out that T2 items require not only basic materials like tritanium, but also Components, like Nanoelectrical Microprocessors. My first instinct was to buy these off the market, until I found out that there are blueprints for all 30 components… Why buy them if you can eliminate one more middle man? I knew it was quite a bit crazy, but I sent Loreena to buy a BPO for all 30 components and after a few days I had finished the ME and PE on them.

And this is where you may start to see why a spreadsheet or tool is important: say you have a small collection of BPOs that can be invented to T2. Say also, that you want to know exactly what materials you will need from the invention to building the final product, for 10 of that module, 20 of that and 4 ships. Madness! Still, I built myself a spreadsheet that does just that. Nearly drove me crazy, but now Loreena can set how many of a module she wants to invent/build, and it tells me exactly what I need – from the datacores and minerals to the moon materials needed to build the required T2 components. I used to wonder at people who develop Excel macros, now I see the attraction 🙂

At least it gave me a whole new perspective on the complexity of the EVE market – just look at the whole chain from a T1 BPO to the final product. Knowing that one character can at most have 10 science and 10 industry jobs running at the same time (with level 5 skills everyhere), that T2 modules supply on the market is the result of a LOT of very busy people. I think we should all pat ourselves on the back for a job well done and hope that those PvPers never run out targets to keep the prices high (no, I am not a valid target :))!

On the traditional sidenote, I now have a headache and my keyboard is sending smoke SOS signals. I need cookies!


Apr 22 2012

Day 2014: Pirate faction mayhem

Over the last few months, both Aeon and Loreena have spent quite some time cleaning up their assets, and taking a closer look at their ships collection. As statisfying as running missions in the Paladin / Kronos duo can be, a little diversity is the key to keeping things interesting. Since Aeon has cross-trained some more race ship skills, he unlocked the unsounded depths of his wallet and went on a few shopping sprees from Rens and Amarr to Jita.

The choice piece of the lot was the Bhaalgorn, which Aeon fittingly called “Bird of Prey”. I never thought he would own one someday, since I always dismissed it because of its PvP-oriented bonuses (namely to energy vampires / destabilizers and webifiers). There is more to a ship than raw numbers however, and the Bhaalgorn is no exception. It reminds me of the Nightmare, which has a similar rough and unbridled power.

Where the Paladin acts as a stationary artillery platform, the Bhaalgorn likes it fast, up close and personal. Get into range with the afterburner, pin your target down with the webifier, replenish your capacitor vampire style while you are at it, and blast them to shreds. It may be that I am imagining things, but I suspect those NPC ships not to be as impervious to energy vampires as they should be. It seems to me that they go down faster when vampirizied – but even if they are indeed immune, it has the advantage of keeping your cap flow maxed out. Between the Nightmare, Bhaalgorn and Paladin, Aeon now has three ships with fundamentally different philosophies to choose from, which is perfect to keep things interesting. Try out some missions with a different ship, and you will often find that it is quite another experience.

To spice things up even further, Aeon has been running some of the starter missions with some new ships as well. As frigate, he chose the Succubus. That thing is evil right to its core, and melts through everything like a hot knife through butter. Very efficient, and fun to fly. Its bigger brother, the cruiser-sized Phantasm, follows the same concept – but with more staying power. The capacitor support of both ships is surprisingly good, offering a lot of leeway in terms of modules and building stable fittings. Their twisted design adds a lot to the fun, even though I can understand that it is not something everyone appreciates.

Running the starter missions was nice for a change, and even if they were not what I would call challenging with the tools and skills at hand, they did feel more alive than the eternal level 4 missions everyone knows by heart now. The storytelling in them was a lot more polished. I think this is where the game could use more depth, something to make our fights more worthwile. I still love EVE as much as the first day, but coming back from a story-driven game like Mass Effect makes the missions in EVE seem hollow, without real purpose. There are no big choices to be made (okay, in The Anomaly you can choose to let the scientist escape in the drone ship, or destroy it), and they have no real consequences. Also, why does my agent never congratulate me on dispatching all enemy ships in missions like The Score, where killing that whole fleet is purely optional? A little recognition of my work would go a long way to make PvE meaningful. I would like my actions in the game to be more than generating ISK with simple cover stories to justify their existence.

Some of the new missions are quite good, like one of my new favorites, Dread Pirate Scarlet. The randomness is a welcome addition, having to think a bit and react to new parameters each time you run the mission is definitely a step in the right direction. We will always need missions like Gone Berserk, which are fun based on the underlying mechanics, but more quality storylines like the starter missions or epic arcs would be great.

For now though I am waiting to see the effects in practice of the new expansion. Focusing on wars and space combat is important for EVE as a game, because a large part of it is player versus player. Of course I have concerns regarding the effects this can have on my PvE playstyle, namely through the more streamlined war features, with the goal to make highsec wars easier. As CCP themselves have stated, the only way to protect yourself against wars is to join an NPC corporation. I will always be loyal to JVC and Sytek, so that will never be an option. I don’t really think it will change that much for us, but being at war constantly would effectively ruin the game for PvE centric pilots.

Of course that’s the ages old debate of PvP players vs PvE players, which is more or less exactly the same kind of useless fight as PC vs Mac. There will never be an optimal solution for either side, and ultimately they need each other. So in fine, my concern is whether CCP will be able to keep both worlds balanced so neither has to cut back. Then again, if all wardecs could be like the last one JVC was in, I would be quite content: the CEO of the one-man corporation that declared war on us did not log on once during the whole week. It was even better than that other CEO who had chosen JVC randomly in the alliances list while drunk. They were so far away fom any of us that we never saw a single war target.

Anyway, to wrap this up, Aeon has once again moved his base of operations because his missioning system was getting too crowded. Trust there to be a good potential for foolishness as soon as your missioning system hits an average of over 30 pilots. Ashokon was reaching peaks of 100 pilots and more, and miners complaining of getting ganked in local is never a good sign. The new system was 19 jumps away, and seems to be quite promising. Aeon and Loreena had to go through Niarja to get there – which is never really fun, especially with pimped mission ships. Getting targeted by tier 3 battlecruisers hovering on the gates always brings a momentary chill, but so far they have been able to get everything to destination in one piece. Loreena had it easiest, she took the Orca to move everything except the Kronos. With a special defense fit, the Orca is probably one of the safest (of the slow) ships to move things around. Transport ships are still the best option in my opinion, but that depends on the size of the cargo of course. Transporting fully fitted ships in the Orca is always a big bonus.

Let’s see how Aeon and Loreena like their new home, but I already like the new agent: the first mission he gave Aeon was Gone Berserk, one of his top 10 favorites 🙂

On a sidenote, Loreena had to indulge herself a little and went from a natural brunette to a natural blonde (that’s the beauty of modern DNA alteration technology). I think Aeon approves.


Sep 24 2011

Day 1807: Nightmares

Can you sleep with that in your hangar?

So lately I had a conversation with my good friend Serotta Ortot (from Here Be Monsters) who was asking me if there was any ship I was still hoping to get someday. That was actually a question I had given a bit of thought to, and the answer was a Nightmare, one of the faction battleships. It is a good match for Aeon’s skills, and it is renowned to be a DPS beast and overall amazing missioning boat. Its design is somewhat twisted, but unarguably original. As I had just bought Loreena a Kronos, getting one was a plan for the long term.

Long story short, Serotta offered to buy me the ship in exchange for some help in creating a poster for his thesis. Now that was an offer I could not refuse 🙂 He gave me his concept for the poster, and I prepared a preview version. The same day, I went to pick up the ship (in Jita if I recall correctly). The first hurdle was the fact that I had not fit a shield tank on a ship in several years. Since the Maelstrom in my first year of EVE, actually. Serotta was nice enough to sponsor a faction shield booster, and soon I had a working fit.

Dubbed the “HMS Serotta”, the ship proved to be everything I expected it to be: a beast. It pretty much rivals the Paladin in both tank and DPS. It cannot beat the Paladin, but that’s not the point – flying into a mission with it just feels awesome. If you are into role playing your characters occasionally, you cannot pass up on the scene of that behemoth warping into a bunch of NPCs and leaving a trail of smoking wrecks in its wake. If looks could kill, this thing would surely leave a few enemy pod pilots dead from shock on the battlefield.

Here is my current fit:

[Nightmare, Missioning]
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Capacitor Flux Coil II
Capacitor Flux Coil II
Capacitor Flux Coil II

Domination Large Shield Booster
Photon Scattering Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Heat Dissipation Field II
Heat Dissipation Field II
Republic Fleet 100MN Afterburner
Gist A-Type Shield Boost Amplifier

Small Tractor Beam I
Salvager II
Mega Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency L
Mega Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency L
Mega Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency L
Mega Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency L

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Warrior II x5
Hammerhead II x5

Not much to say here – with my skills it is cap stable without the AB/Salvager/Tractor. Could use some better modules – a ship like this deserves investing, especially tank wise and cap support wise (think T2 CCC rigs).

Some theoretical stats (vs Sansha):

– 946 DPS / 3646 volley with Hammerhead drones (791 without)
– 461 sustained tank. 86k EHP
– 321 m/s with AB (118 without)
– Resists: 76,5% / 81,2% / 40% / 50%

What I did not anticipate however, was that flying this ship announced the end of a great chapter in my EVE life. Indeed, Serotta had been unsatisfied with CCP’s vision for EVE for a while now, and a few days later along with a new client patch, he decided to quit EVE. You can read his related blog post, I understand his reasons completely. It had been a long time in coming, I know he was trying to revive his interest in the game – but in retrospect, attempting this in the middle of Incarna and a series of controversial updates was not an ideal time. As usual your mileage varies, so far I have not had many client crashes, and my play style does not touch much on the big issues being discussed.

Details aside, I currently live in a strange duality. It is both a happy time for rediscovering the game, but also a sad time for losing a longtime friend (fortunately only ingame!) – hence the plural in the post title. My secret hope is that he will come back, but somehow I feel that his decision is final – and I respect that.

THANKS FOR EVERYTHING AND GOOD LUCK!


Sep 24 2011

Day 1806: Discovering lowsec & nullsec

A derelict Proteus in a debris field - wishful thinking much?

I have made several attempts to discover and learn more about both lowsec and nullsec in the past. I was never really successful, and I was meaning to try again someday. As a solo player, there is not much incentive to go there, apart maybe for the adrenaline kicks. It is largely viewed as a very dangerous place, and even if they are usually not enclined to admit it, many players are afraid of it. I can honestly say that I was afraid of it as well, and still am in a way. While in genesis, I decided to take Aeon on a sightseeing trip to one of the local nullsec access points. The idea was to try and do some ninja ratting under the noses of the locals, in a cheapish ship that could cloak. What I came up with brought back some memories: I revived the Pilgrim of yore and fitted it as a pure drone carrier. That way I am entirely ammo-independent, and not fitting guns meant I could put lots of utility modules on it and stay cap stable.

After hopping into an empty clone, I used an Anathema to do some scouting. I found an interesting route of about six systems in a row in 0.1 sec that I could start my exploration in. It was still lowsec, so no warp disruption bubbles – which is a plus when you start out. The only danger comes from gate camps, but with a cloakable ship you are extremely hard to catch. People on gate camps usually have some small ships with fast lock times along, but since you can cloak more or less instantly, the only danger is if they try to approach your last known location to try to decloak you.

I encountered a few pilots here and there, but most systems were just empty. When I felt a bit more confident, I went back and took the Pilgrim. While roaming through the lowsec area I had scouted, I took note of the people flying there, checking bios and security statuses. To my surprise, there was a fair share of 5.0 security pilots. I scoured some belts, and found BS of up to 1,1 million bounty. Not a bad start, and speed tanking them was easy. The old trick with orbiting a container you jettison is still as effective. With an orbit speed of about 450 m/s, there’s not much that gets through to the ship’s tank. Of course you have this leisure only when you are alone in the system, if you’re not you have to assume the other pilots are looking for you or setting traps.

For example, I scanned down some seemingly lost drones with two other players in the system. When I finally locked on them with my combat scanner probes and warped to them (cloaked of course), no one was there as expected. However, as soon as I decloaked the other player decloaked and started locking my ship. You always have to be ready, so I managed to warp away in time. I did not expect this kind of cunning trap however, and have since revised my behavior with people in-system. Scanning stuff down is okay, since you can do that cloaked. Actually going there to investigate I now do when any lurkers have gone.

After a little while, I got more confident moving around. I have not encountered any gate camps so far, so that’s still mostly theory. I’m quite sure I’ll find some in the future though, and they will provide some crucial experience. For now, I set up camp in a nullsec system with two NPC stations from where I can launch skirmishes into the surrounding systems. All in all it has been easier than I thought, but it confirmed what I already suspected: nullsec is the playground of corporations, alliances and PvP gangs. Solo players like myself in search of things other than PvP will be hard pressed to find something to make them stay for long. It’s fun for a while, but in my case I soon missed the freedom of movement (think in terms of being able to minimize local and the directional scanner) that highsec offers.

A proteus coasting next to an anomaly.

My tip if you want to have a look at lowsec or nullsec: get a frigate hull ship that can fit a cloak, and slap a MWD (Micro Warp Drive) on it. I can only recommend skilling up for a Covert Ops frigate, as those ships have a lot of uses and are really fun to fly. If you jump into a gatecamp, you can use the tested and tried MWD + Cloak trick: Remember you have 30 seconds after a jump to get your bearings. Use them! You increase the chances of someone else jumping into the system as well, creating a bit more confusion as the gate campers now have more than one target to choose from. Select a point in space in front of you as far away from the gate campers as possible, and when ready fly towards it, activate your MWD and THEN the cloak. This will give you one cycle of the MWD before the cloak automatically turns it off. You can now warp off safely.

From a gate camper’s point of view, it looks like this: they can see someone jumped into the system (the gate shows that familiar flash of light), so the tackler(s) get ready to lock whoever is going to decloak. As soon as you decloak, they will try to lock you, as well as fly towards you. However, with that MWD boost, your ship shoots off in one direction and a few seconds later, disappears. They can try to decloak you, but determining your position is difficult.

You will find gate camps in two different places: when you jump into a system, or when you warp to a stargate. The first you cannot avoid; you have to use the MWD trick I described above. For the second, you have to understand that for a gate camp to be effective (especially in nullsec if they use bubbles), they have to place it on the warp trajectory between two gates – that way if you warp from gate to gate directly, you fall directly into the gate camp. So the solution is pretty simple: warp to a celestial before you warp to the gate you want to use, like a planet. This will alter the angle from which you warp to the gate, and avoid the gate camp entirely. Always use warp to 0 in this case.

I’m still figuring things out, but with those rules you can move around pretty safely. The key really is to use a small, fast ship. Needless to say, trying to do this in a battleship is not a good idea. That, and keep your cool. Come to grips with the fact that you will lose your ship sooner or later, as well as your pod – and think your way through each situation. That’s a lot easier if you don’t take your T3 on the first try 🙂

I just realized that if you take into account that this is the log entry for day 1806 of my travels, which means that it took me about 1800 days to finally take the step to go into nullsec. What changed? I could not say. More confidence maybe, a higher understanding of the power of the unknown or simply less concern about my expendable body? Regardless, I think it’s still pretty funny and shows how big of a carebear I am!


Sep 24 2011

Day 1763: The nomad reawakens

Is it safe to jump through? Sure, you first.

After an excursion into Planetary Interaction that was both fun and utterly unprofitable, I realized Aeon had become way too sedentarized. Stuck in the same system and surrounding area for months on end to be able to move PI materials to market, the monotony started to get to me. As a result, I logged in less often because I knew that if I did, it would only be to update extractors and ferry stuff around. Yes, that kind of activity can be fun depending on your enthusiasm – but it is usually just as boring as it sounds. It took an email request from one of my corp members to get me interested again – I logged on, and a few conversations later I was hooked again. It’s like logging into a website like DeviantART or even Facebook: if you want to avoid being sucked in, avoid logging in. There is no such thing as just logging in for that “quick peek”.

I knew my Planetary Interaction cycle was over. I needed to do something fun again, and after a good hot bath (my secret concentration weapon) I knew I had to take Aeon and Loreena back to their roots. Aeon has always been a nomad at heart, going where the cosmic winds take him. Loreena was uprooted from her previous life by her homeworld’s destruction, and has been a nomad since as well. I had to cut all ties to things that make you stay in one place in the game, the most notorious being a POS. I had moved Aeon to Chidah for the POS, but after its destruction by a roaming gang (due to my inactivity it had gone offline) I knew I would not set up a new one. It is always a bad thing if a GAME you play becomes as much a chore as your everyday job. In my opinion that is specifically an area in which CCP have blundered, but that’s another story. So for Aeon and Loreena to become true nomads again, I decided to let all this go. No more POS, no more PI, no more manufacturing.

Loreena sold her entire BPO collection for 2 billion (thanks again, DD!), which helped in funding better fittings for the few ships Aeon and Loreena would take along. Aeon needed only Sparhawk’s Wrath (his Paladin), Loreena provided support as always with Tatonka (her Orca). She transports all commonly needed modules with it, as well as a few ships: “Naeroth’s Razor” (her Proteus), “Repair-O-Tron” (her Oneiros), “Sentinel” (her Guardian) and a shuttle. No need for a fixed base of operations: between the two of them, they can master any task they might get.

Quite an installation.

As chance would have it, the evening I started looking for a place to go to, one of Sytek’s members mentioned missioning together sometime. So far I had turned down most offers because I was simply too far away from everyone and lacked the time to get started. The satellite connection at home did not help either, but I wanted some action and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. On a whim, Aeon flew ahead in a shuttle while Loreena packed everything and followed. It was a 32-jump trek from Chidah to the Genesis region, but with the shuttle it was a breeze. On site I could borrow a fully fitted Apocalypse, and we set out to kill some Blood Raiders. Flying in a fleet felt good, and the next day Aeon flew back to move Sparhawk’s Wrath over.

Loreena has access to some agents in the area, so we are going to stay a while – until the need to move surfaces again. I have rarely had something as liberating as cutting off all ties as I did. It put the fun back into the game, because it became a game again – a place without duties, with good friends and interesting things to do. Granted, EVE is not a fun game per se. That’s also its strong point however, and one that I have come to appreciate, within certain limits. This brings me to something I had been meaning to do for a while as well: resume my original lowsec / nullsec sightseeing tours 🙂


Dec 16 2010

Closing the gap

When it comes to fighting off pirate factions in missions or in complexes and occasionally wormholes, Aeon has always been the one doing the heavy lifting. Loreena contributed from the shadows, keeping him alive with logistics or providing drone support. That is about to change, however.

For some months now, Loreena has been training to do some punching herself, upgrading first from her Myrmidon to a Dominix and now to the renowned Kronos. It can be argued that the Kronos is one of the weaker Marauder-class ships, but that has never been a deterrent in my case. I always liked the hull of the Megathron, so the Kronos was a good target to go for to improve her fighting skills.

She still needs to improve on some key skills, but she can already use the T2 railguns now. A few level 4 missions as testing ground have proven the ship to be everything I expected. The Paladin still trumps it, but the combination of Aeon’s Pulse Lasers setup for close range combat with Loreena’s sniping setup is very effective. Sure, two marauders for running a level 4 mission is overkill, but I appreciate being able to kill rats that are far away without slow-boating into range with 120 m/s.

This is Loreena’s current fit (tank optimized for Sansha):

[Kronos, Missions]
Imperial Navy Large Armor Repairer
Armor Thermic Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor EM Hardener II
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer

Sensor Booster II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II

Salvager II
Small Tractor Beam I
Small Tractor Beam I
425mm Railgun II, Spike L
425mm Railgun II, Spike L
425mm Railgun II, Spike L
425mm Railgun II, Spike L

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Heavy Armor Maintenance Bot II x3
Vespa II x5

With the drone space the ship offers, you can carry a good selection of drones – in my case I went for the armor maintenance drones to get Aeon out of a tight spot as he usually takes aggro. The sensor booster increases the targeting range so you can target as far as your turret’s maximal optimal range. It is intentionally without script, as the base bonus is enough to target out to 140km, that way I get the second bonus of the module as well.

Some stats:

Cap stable
830 DPS Tank (vs. Sansha)
410 DPS, 1745 Volley
Targeting range: 141 Km
Optimal range: 130 Km

Those are with Loreena’s current skillset:

Marauders III
Controlled Bursts IV
Motion Prediction V
Rapid Firing IV
Sharpshooter V
Trajectory Analysis V
Surgical Strike -untrained-

On a sidenote, now that learning skills have been removed I was able to top off some leftover skills, as well as get started on the next plan: a Proteus. Loreena had trained all learning skills to level 5, so she had 5.3 million skillpoints to distribute. A real treat just in time for christmas 🙂


Apr 12 2010

Day 1244: Aramean Excavations

Before I jump to the heart of the matter, a little history: Loreena has not always been at Aeon’s side. Before the advent of wormholes popping up throughout new eden, a very rare wormhole event lead to a planet’s destruction – and to Loreena being one of its very few survivors. The planet was Loreena’s homeworld, Aramea. You can read more about this turn of events in their Biographies.

Aramea's Glory Days

Aramea, Loreena's homeworld before the cataclysm

Since that day, and thanks to Aeon, she has been able to get past the initial shock and to build a life for herself. About a year ago however, Ammatar scientists discovered that a large debris field near Gamis in the Derelik region was none other than the remains of Aramea, catapulted there by the wormhole from the vicinity of Oshaima and Hysera in Caldari space. Loreena went to explore the debris lately, and came back changed.

This is a transcript of what happened, as viewed by the people involved.

Note: non-roleplaying captain’s log continued below.

Aeon

The changes that the visit operated in Loreena were not immediately clear to Aeon, until a rather peculiar request reached him from a group of officials from the Ammatar Consulate Bureau in Tanoo. They wanted him to attend a reception in Loreena’s honor.

His interest was piqued. Apparently she was to be awarded a decoration, and he had no idea what she could be decorated for. But then they had never really talked much, they kept in touch but both lead their own lives. Still, this was different… he wondered why she had not mentioned it before. People do not drop a decoration on you without first telling you how lucky you are. Puzzled, he did what he always did: stop brooding and hunt for more information.

Information turned out to be surprisingly hard to hunt, and that always made him wary. Something was about to happen, and it would be big.

Loreena

She watched a piece of Aramea’s crust idly float by, its rotation catching the light of Gamis’ white dwarf star. She still did not know how to handle Aeon. She felt bad about dropping everything on him like this, but she knew otherwise he would try to stop her – and packed with feelings as she was, she was scared of losing it right there. She knew she was not being entirely sane, so she clung to her only hope of personal redemption.

The Ammatar consulate had sent her the final details of the reception that morning, so everything was ready. Hopefully the information filters she had put in place in Aeon’s infogrid would have kept him from finding out ahead of schedule. Her logs showed some activity, that was to be expected. To say she had not been her usual self was a gross understatement, so he was bound to notice. Glumly she aligned the ship and warped out. You do not treat family like this, she thought. Especially since there was not much family left. The debris field receded quickly behind her as warp engaged.

She shut off her emotions, she had to act now before she went to pieces.

Aeon

Sytek’s information board chimed. His worried frown turned into genuine concern when he read that Loreena had stepped down as acting CEO and designated him as new CEO. The concern quickly changed into anger – he did not like surprises, and especially not people going behind his back like this. What the blazes was she up to? This was not like her at all. He let the anger infuse him for a while, but quickly put it aside again. Being mad could be enjoyable, but it was never particularly productive.

He wiped his systems clean to get rid of the filters he was now sure she had put in place, otherwise he would have seen her drop all corp roles. Apparently him being the new CEO was an information she deemed him fit to receive, so whatever she was planning was coming to a head. He took a moment to suppress his anger again, she would never do this willingly. Either she was in real trouble, or she was going mad.

Whatever it was, he waited patiently for the decoration ceremony on Tanoo. His locator agent showed she was on her way there, so he made ready for the reception himself. He would have time to act after she put her cards on the table.

Loreena

By now he knew she had resigned as CEO, and she was afraid he might call her directly. The comms system stayed silent, though. She was on her way to Tanoo, and her locator agent showed he was on his way as well. It reassured her somewhat, it meant he still had his wits. He had always liked seeing the full picture before he made a final decision, and she was counting on that to bring this through.

The award was unexpected, but it had given her the perfect opportunity to show Aeon what this was all about, and hopefully he would understand her motives and not try to talk her out of it. Please. It took all her strength now to keep the pieces of her tattered soul together. She was not even sure this venture would help her mend herself, but there was nothing else the universe could give her that would. When she had first laid eyes on Aramea’s debris field, she had realized she had never healed one bit.

What a stupid thing to do! She may not have been whole before, but seeing the pieces of her former life drifting through space had shattered her even more fiercely than the initial event. She had pictured the souls of billions of lost souls clinging to what was left of their home and collapsed right there on the spot. Now all that held her together were the fine strands of purpose this project had given her.

She needed this to work. It meant survival and redemption. As her ship was towed into station, she saw that Aeon was two jumps out. Forgive me, she thought as her pod began the flush sequence.

Aeon

As he made his way to the reception hall, he wondered if his attire was at all appropriate for the event. He had chosen this flowing dark ochre capsuleer cloak because it scared most people into not trying to engage in idle conversation with him. Of course his scowl largely contributed to that as well, but the people who knew the origins of the cloak would give him a wide berth. He did not want too much distraction while Loreena unfolded her plans, so it suited him just fine. He was not here to make friends.

The reception hall was not as joyous as he expected. There was an underlying solemnity and serious expressions on everyone’s faces except maybe the young fools attending their first ever reception. Loreena was nowhere to be seen, so he took his scowl to the other side of the hall. There were some curious and frightened glances, but no one made a move to talk to him. The master of ceremony who had sent him the invitation briefly nodded to him, and he returned her nod politely. He climbed up the stairwell in the back of the hall and took a seat in the deserted upper lodge.

His cheek was beginning to ache, so he relaxed his scowl. It had served him well, and the attention of the room was fixed the other way to the dais now anyway; the master of ceremony had started introducing the members present. His initial sweep of the room confirmed his assessment: the majority of the attendees were caldari. Loreena was caldari after all, but who were these people? They did not look like officials of any kind, and there was even a whole bunch of common folk to one side, easily recognizable by their garments.

One thing was certain though: Whatever this was about, it was not about joy.

Loreena

Her biggest fear was that someone would say something that would make her lose her composure. These were people who had suffered the same losses, so they had a deeper understanding of what this represented than outsiders. They were bound to see how pathetic she was, trying to put a puzzle the size of a planet back together. But then, everyone had his own way to cope. If this could be her way, her wretched existence might mean something again, regardless of what the universe thought of her.

She unruffled a few folds in her dress, and waited for the signal. She could hear the master of ceremony, Imulia Aeduin, giving her speech around the corner. She had given Loreena the opportunity to review it before she gave it, and Loreena had been touched by the woman’s insights into Areamea’s survivors’ plight. She did not have any amends to the script, it was more than adequate. On a level of consciousness she was awed by the fact that her project had hit such a response, but it did not feel right because she was not doing it out of kindness of heart. Or was she? She was beyond knowing what she really felt.

A light came on above her lodge’s doorframe, and she made her way out onto the dais next to Imulia Aeduin.

Aeon

As he had half expected, the dress she had chosen for the ceremony was entirely unceremonious. He did not linger on her attire though, as her haunted look pierced him through and through. The screen next to him had a close-up camera view of her, and the woman he saw there was an empty husk compared to the one he knew. He half rose in shock, looking over to the dais in disbelief. He resisted a sudden impulse to jump down the three meters to the floor and run over there. Of course, that would accomplish nothing. He slowly let himself sink back into the cushioned couch, his mind racing.

The speaker next to her he had recognized as being the Ammatar Consulate’s CFO, Imulia Aeduin. She had given a pretty good speech about the survivors of Aramea, which helped him place the context of the ceremony as well as give him the reason for the bleak mood. Ever since he had taken Loreena with him into Minmatar space he had been concerned with how she would cope with her loss, and although he had been with her a lot in the first years, their lives had led them to see each other less often. As far as he knew, she did not have any friends, but he had not worried about it too much anymore.

She was unrecognizable, even worse than after the blast that had robbed her of her family and her home in mere seconds. He watched her on the screen, oblivious to what Imulia was saying. Something must have triggered this breakdown… she looked like she was on the verge of collapse, but still strong enough to see through whatever she had planned. She gave a stealthy glance around the room and spotted him, then quickly averted her eyes again. He was sure no one else had seen the movement, she must have wanted to make sure he was there.

Then, finally, her plan was revealed.

Imulia Aeduin

She had always had a gift to sense emotions. Her parents had even sent her to a clinic specializing in psychic abilities when she was young, to make sure she was not psychic. Apparently she was not, otherwise she would most likely be in a Minmatar training facility today. Nevertheless, her so-called ability was a very useful tool to have. She had sensed the crowd’s feelings, and modulated the flow of her speech to their emotional response. It had worked very well, she had been able to touch them without bringing too many painful memories to the surface. Something unruffled her slightly however.

There was tension in the hall, very intense – and from only a few people. Her gift did not enable her to pinpoint individual sources, but she was sure that part of the tension came of that AeonOfTime character in the back of the hall. He was far enough from the rest of the crowd to allow her to sense it. She did not know enough about him to determine if he could be a problem, but she did not think so. Then there was the matter of Loreena Syrkos. As far as she could determine, she was a nervous wreck. It would not show that much to bystanders like the people in this crowd as she had herself under tight, even desperate control – but Imulia could feel it.

When Loreena came onto the dais, she saw AeonOfTime half rise to his feet, and a wave of concern hit her with all its might from his direction. There was obviously a strong connection between them, which made the whole situation even more mysterious. It was none of her business, but she felt curious nonetheless. She lived in a giant melting pot of emotions, and she felt drawn to strong emotions that rose out of the general mess. Emotions like these. She introduced Loreena to the crowd, even if it was not necessary – all the people present knew who she was.

It was a crazy idea, one that only a capsuleer could come up with – but Imulia thought it was a good one. Loreena had created a unique industrial process whose purpose was to salvage Aramea’s debris field for any information and items pertaining to the Aramean way of life and culture. The Ammatar Consulate had sponsored a dedicated office space transformed into a museum here on station, and already a few choice items were on display. The elder Aramean survivors had called her Aramea’s “Keeper of Knowledge”, and that was the decoration she was being awarded now. Her new corporation, Aramean Excavations, was there to fund the project and ensure the survival of the items even after the last Arameans were no more.

She wondered whether Loreena would find peace in her venture.

Aeon

So that’s what she had found to seek healing. To cling to the remnants of her shattered home, to get entangled in a web spun by memories and artefacts of a lost world. Aramean Keeper of Knowledge? Indeed! What good could this kind of archaeology possibly do? Trying to find clues of long lost empires was one thing, trying to revive an empire gone in a mere human lifetime sounded dreadful. He was torn between shaking her out of this folly and trying to understand what it was that she really sought.

For an instant, when Imulia put the decoration on her dress she had seemed genuinely happy, but it had only lasted a couple of seconds before it was replaced by the same haunted look. The ceremony over, people flocked around her, sharing thoughts and ideas, offering support. Of course the dead could not come back, but he could clearly see that these people were grateful that someone was safeguarding at least a token of their past. He saw relief on some faces, plain gratefulness on others. He decided to use the occasion to take his leave silently. He was convinced Loreena would not want to confront him now – besides, he was not entirely sure he wanted to either.

He went back to the hangar the station had assigned him. Standing before the hull of Skullsplitter Junior, he watched the ballet of cleaning drones polishing the hell out of his thruster tubes. He had a hunch he would not be boarding his ship now, somehow it did not feel right. He had a nagging sensation of having forgotten something, and he knew it would nag at him until he did something about it.

Until he finally decided to go back and save her.

Imulia

He was gone. She could feel it now, the absence of his peculiar flow of emotions had dissipated. She checked the back lodge, his seat was empty. He must have used the general commotion after the decoration to slip out unseen, what a peculiar personage. Her curiosity got the better of her, so after saying her goodbyes to everyone she went back to her quarters. She accessed the infogrid to find out who he was, and a few seconds later she was already back on her feet, running like a cheetah with a hellhound on its heels to the ship hangars.

How could everyone have been so blind? He was the savior of Aramea of course, the pilot who had managed to get his ship out and warn enough ships in-system to save thousands of civilians. He was the one who took Loreena under his wing, who had saved her from destruction. Everything was falling into place now in her mind… all their feelings, the whole operation were all designed for one hidden purpose. Only someone with her abilities could see this, and now she had to convince him to come back.

He had to save her. Again.

Loreena

The attention felt good. These people were actually proud of her, grateful for what she did for the memory of Aramea. She saw the light that shone in their eyes when they spoke of their own memories, of what they could do to help. She let it all wash over her, and for a few precious moments she felt alight with the purpose that infused her, a bridge over the unsoundable, dark depths below. When the feeling slowly subsided, she mustered her strength again because she knew she had to see Aeon now. She knew that his reaction would eventually decide her fate, even if he did not realize it. She did not know why his reaction was that important herself, it was difficult to stay sane with so many shrieking souls trailing behind her wherever she went. Pleading her to release them.

Aeon was gone however, as a quick glance to the back lodge and around the hall quickly confirmed. Her control wavered for a while, and she had to fight with renewed vigor to keep her sanity in check. She had no idea how long she could keep this up, she desperately needed his approval. Everything hinged on that now, pathetic as it may be. She was still lucid enough to know that she was too far down the road to madness to try and lift herself out of the pit now. All she could do was to try and ignore the fact that she may never recover from this. She clung to the faint hope that Aeon would understand her, but he had left. Soon there would be nothing left to cling to.

She was talking with one of the elder Arameans to distract her mind when Imulia came back into the hall, with Aeon by her side. Her heart leaped. She did not know what the significance of them appearing together was. In any other situation she would have been curious, but now she could not have cared less. The time had come.

This was when her fate would be sealed.

Aeon

He was on his way back to the reception hall when the CFO of the Ammatar Consulate came running to meet him. When she caught up with him, she was panting like she had just sprinted accross half of the station. It later turned out she actually did, but for the moment he watched her amusedly, waiting politely for her to catch her breath. There did not seem to be any particular urgency on her face besides her mad sprint, so he did not want to press her about the reasons of this odd interception.

As it were, she was here to change his mind about leaving without talking to Loreena, which confirmed his hunch that it would have been a bad idea. Imulia had a peculiar way to see through people, and even if the reception had given him the final piece of the puzzle with Loreena visiting the debris of her home, she was able to give him some additional valuable insights. His final assessment had been that she needed more help that he could give himself, but he saw now that he himself was the key to her salvation – as uncomfortable as that may make him.

This was unfamiliar territory… as a hardcore lone wolf, he rarely socialized with anyone. Syrkos Technologies was an exception, he valued the insights and contacts with pod pilots like himself. Loreena was a lone wolf herself, but it had been forced on her. She had never learned to cope with the loneliness – no wonder, considering the burden she had to live with all by herself. Visiting the debris field must have reawakened powerful old daemons, and the only person she knew and that she trusted was him.

He was not one to dwell on the past. Letting them drift apart had been a mistake, he had not taken the time to pay closer attention to her. He was so used to minimizing duties and dependencies that he had mistakenly included her in them. The harm was done though, so he concentrated on how he could salvage what was left of her.

It seemed their paths were destined to run along each other.

Imulia

AeonOfTime was more receptive to what she had to say than she had expected. She often underestimated people, it was one of her failings. He had obviously come to the same conclusions, albeit not for the same reasons. His history with Loreena was a long one, but he had not seen exactly how much she needed him to be present. Loreena’s burden was a heavy one to bear, she could feel it seeping out of her like an ever open wound. When she had stood next to her on the dais, there had been a moment when she had thought that dying in the blast on Aramea would have been merciful.

When she entered the hall with Aeon at her side, only Loreena paid any heed. No one but herself had apparently made the connection between Aeon and the so-called Hero of Aramea, which was not a bad thing in this situation. Loreena emanated joy and despair at the same time, a very unlikely combination. She accompanied Aeon up to the Dais, but stayed a few metres behind to give them a semblance of privacy.

She felt like a leech. The part of her that craved strong emotions was ecstatic – she had never enountered people before whose feelings radiated so intensely and in so many layers of complexity. The reasoning part in her felt ashamed for prying on them like a voyeur, even if it was not exactly comparable. She even found a small part of her wishing Loreena would come undone here and now, to see what kind of emotions that would trigger.

Sometimes she disgusted herself.

Aeon

It was surreal. No one here even noticed the struggle that was going on, the urgency and critical nature of their exchange. Bystanders were enaging in idle conversation, small talk, even discussing cooking recipes. While they were deciding their respective fates. It seemed appropriate for lone wolves to keep their inner battles hidden, but for once he wished it would come out into the open, that it would make a big scene instead of some undercover-style communication based on looks and cryptic words. He felt Imulia’s gaze on them, she was a weird one. But she was at least one bystander that knew at least part of what was being played here.

Loreena looked strangely happy and afraid at the same time, but he did not have the leisure to wonder how one could mix the two. His instincts were on edge as if he had a whole angel fleet chasing him, and everything he knew about her was being retrieved, analyzed and reprocessed in his mind. As he approached her, he read her expression, saw the subtle tightening of her cheekbones and arms as he came nearer, and he realized that whatever he was going to say had the potential force of killing her.

He instantly dismissed congratulating her on the decoration – the heart of the matter lay somewhere else. No, the fact that she had sprung the new corporation and the whole venture on him like this meant that was the key. But what could she need from him other than his support and approval? But surely she knew she did not need plots like this to have those?
Then it came to him in a sudden insight. Of course, it was so subtle yet painfully obvious…

He knew exactly what he needed to do.

Loreena

Time had stopped. Everything was a blur except for Aeon slowly approaching. She saw his face, coolly examining her, trying to see through her. He did not seem mad at all she asserted, the tension of the wrinkles on his face only betrayed concern. A flicker of hope ran through her, momentarily silencing the abyss behind her from which Aramea’s souls were shrieking up to her. She could not believe how far she had let herself sink, but once she had realized what was happening it had already been too late.

Foolishly she had believed that she would be able to tackle the daemons inside on her own, but they had all the patience the universe itself could bring to the table. They slowly gnawed away her defenses until they were rotted from within, ready to crumble at the smallest pressure. That was the kind of damage that a person cannot heal on his/her own. Aeon had been so close… but still she had kept going on her own, ever widening the trap beneath her feet. Poor Aeon, so much hinged on him now. She did not dare to speak lest her voice fail her now. It had to come from him. Yet again her life lay in his hands.

Their exchange lasted a good minute, but no words were spoken. Of all she had come to expect, this was not even on her list. It was so unlike him, but it transcended all her hopes. Even the billion aramean souls were awed into silence, her daemons in shock. All these years spent slowly eating her alive from within, gone in a single act.

A kiss.

Imulia

She knew she would never feel anything like that again in her lifetime. She had been literally blown away by the conflagration of the pent-up bundle of emotions the two of them had released with that embrace. As she came back to her senses, she realized everyone was looking at the odd couple. Some showed that they recognized Aeon now for who he was, others were just mesmerized by what had just happened. All of them knew they had witnessed something momentous however, even if they had none of the details.

She had always sneered at fairy tales with their true love kisses junk, but if anything could come close this was it. Somehow, knowing that in their technological age emotions as strong as these were still possible reassured her enormously. Of all the things Aeon could have done to heal her, this had definitely succeeded.

The hero of Aramea had just become a hero all over again.

Author’s notes

Yes, it is kind of a fairy tale. But who in truth does not want a fairy tale for himself? I like a good story, and the setting from Aeon and Loreena’s biographies begged for a sequel, or at least another chapter. Like everything in EVE, both are a bit broken by the harsh world they live in, but all hope is not lost. Yes, it is cheesy and a bit overdone, but we are living in a society where everything is slightly overdone so I am thinking it should not show too much 🙂

Anyway, if you are looking for references, I was inspired by the Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson, The Elenium by David Eddings and the movie The Princess Bride as well as EVE Online of course. All characters and places exist in the game, except for the fabled Aramea.

Captain’s log, supplemental

Loreena has gone rogue and created her own corporation, Aramean Excavations. The backstory above builds the foundation of a new venture, namely a small POS that I have been planning to set up for quite a while now. Because of Sytek’s rather unflattering standings accross the board, Loreena created Aramean Excavations so that her Ammatar standings would be good enough to set it up in high security space.

My initial plans have not changed much: it will be a small tower with just one or two labs to start with. As I do not know yet where this will take me, I prefer not to invest too much. With a setup like this, the running costs are very reasonable with approximately 45 million ISK per month for a regular small tower. Of course a faction tower would decrease the running costs a bit, but not enough to warrant investing in a faction tower. A Dread Guristas small tower will make you about 600 million ISK poorer (vs 150 for a regular one), for approximately 6 million ISK less fuel usage per month. That is definitely not an investment I will do right away 🙂

I testdrove a POS on SiSi pior to starting on this path, and while it all seemed quite convoluted I decided to do it on tranquility anyway. At the very least I will finally be able to finish off the ME and PE research on my BPOs without having to entrust them to a third party. Besides, I look forward to seeing how a POS can be useful for a lone wolf like myself in practice. Besides, it will be nice for any JVC alliance members that want to use it as well. Alliance usage is limited to PE (Production Efficiency) and ME (Material Efficiency) jobs, but if the POS should prove to be more than just a toy Sytek may just get its own POS as well.

For the time being, I am collecting all the POS components Loreena needs and deciding in which system I will eventually anchor it. Anchoring V and the Starbase Defense IV skills are trained, so she can both set it up and defend it if need be, although I am hoping it will not come to that anytime soon. Besides, in case of war I may just ninja unanchor the whole thing in the 24 hours before the war starts. That’s one of the perks of using a small tower with few installations attached. Unless CCP has some obscure laws in effect that do not allow unanchoring of POS structures in that timeframe… it would not in the least surprise me.

On a sidenote, Loreena is growing teeth in more ways than one… along with the new corporation she now flies a Dominix, a perfect addition to her extensive drone skills. Her battleship support skills are not that good yet, so no level 4 mission running solo but along with Aeon as a tanker, it is a beast of a drone carrier. And she has a lot in store for the future… she is on a skillplan that will take her all the way to a Kronos, which will be the final step in making her stand on her own two feet.

Then she will be able to save Aeon for a change.