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 😛
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.
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.