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 😛


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

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.

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

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 🙂

Jun 21 2009

Crystalline Trouble Revisited finished with grand finale

Almost a year in the making (on and off), and finally completed: a short story freely set in New Eden.

24 chapters with a grand finale, which are available to read right here:


Synopsis: “Meet Tarellek Malear, engineer on Alea Zatar’s Abaddon class battleship “Anthea” and his peculiar relationship to the ship’s pilot. Discover more about the intrepid crews manning these massive ships and see how the people behind the scenes help making a difference in a fight. Follow the ship and its crew as they rush head-on into a suicide mission and strive to survive against insurmountable odds.

Pitted against the ruthless Angel Cartel commander Agdelger Ruflaner, Alea escapes into an uncharted rock field prone to EM storms and an even more dangerous secret at its core.”

Jun 14 2009

Drone Hive under construction

“What the hell?!”

Those were my exact words when I had a look at a 1/10 Drone complex in my missioning system lately. Somehow I never checked out any drone complexes since I started the game, as everybody kept saying that they are completely useless. No interesting loot, no bounties, you name it. Well, I’m glad I checked one out even if pretty late into the game. I’ll let you judge for yourself, I took a few screenshots of the main room in the complex (they are pretty dark, full view is recommended).

And I added two new unrelated screens as well:

I think I’ll have to take a closer look at stuff that like this that everyone else seems to dismiss 🙂

Mar 10 2008

Day 513: Pax Nemesis succombs to Saboteurs

I won’t keep the suspense hanging for long: Pax Nemesis III (Abaddon) is gone. Last night as Aeon accepted a level 4 mission to intercept some saboteurs, I made the mistake of not checking the damage I had to fit armor hardeners for. But that was not the sole problem – as always, it was really a sum of things that lead to this unfortunate turn of events. But before I explain in detail, let me make a brief summary of what has happened in the last weeks. I was very busy in real life, and did not have the time to write – you can always skip this part and come back to it later if you like.

Quick heads-up
After my level 4 preparation post, I made a trip to nullsec (I have a log entry in the works for that). My good friend Serotta Ortot let me fly his Armageddon there for ratting, and he was using active armor hardeners on it. I was baffled by how effective the setup was, and when I went back to empire I refitted Pax Nemesis III to use an active armor tanking setup. On top of that, Loreena was already within reach of an Exequror, the small brother of the Oneiros. I bought her one, and so it happened that I tried running a level 4 mission again. Aeon was using 4 active mission-specific hardeners, a Damage Control II and a large armor repairer in a permarun setup with eight large beam laser turrets (not the tachyons anymore, they use way too much capacitor). While the DPS was obviously not the same with less powerful turrets, the tank itself seemed impenetrable. At one point, the ship was tanking six battleships and they could not even dent the armor.

Since then, I have run quite a few level 4 missions without any forseeable trouble at all. I ended up tackling them without Loreena, as the tank was good enough to handle anything the missions threw at me.

Pax Nemesis III’s last battle
Probably over-confident in the new tanking setup, I warped Aeon into “Intercept the Saboteurs“. Everything went as planned, and I did not take Loreena along as I had already done the mission alone before. As I mentioned, I use two active hardeners for each of the main mission damage types: Kinetic and Thermal in this case. I must have misread that, because I put in the kinetic hardeners, but left the explosive hardeners on. Once in the mission, the tank was holding nonetheless by pure brute force. Had the Serpentis Megathron not gotten within range, Aeon would have made it. That ship’s blasters started tearing the armor apart slowly, but I was not especially concerned as I was still busy taking out the cruisers to bring down the overall DPS. My drones were dispatching the frigates on their own, so the situation was completely under control.

After a short while, I started to realize that was not entirely the case. Only two cruisers were left, and their DPS was not likely to change much. I switched fire to one of the nearest battleships, a Core Admiral or some such, and even set the drones on him. He died pretty fast, but to my dismay it did not make any difference. I must have been extra sluggish, because only then did I realize it was the Megathron that was the big damage dealer here. HE was the one that was profiting from the thermal weakness in my armor tank. I think by the time I switched targets to take him out, Pax Nemesis III’s armor hitpoints were already down to thirty-five percent. Logically, I aligned the ship for warp, made the drones dock and warped. Warped….? No. “What the HELL?”

Coming out of the comfort of months of level 3 missioning, I still had that last resort escape possibility of warping out in mind. Level four mission bring new dangers with them, including warp scrambling ships. Probably needless to say, but when the ship would not warp, I knew I was done for. I logged Loreena in on the second PC, but she was parked in Rens BTT of all places, four jumps out. There was not way she could be there on time, and my desperate attempts to take out the warp scrambling ships failed at recognizing which ones were scrambling me at all. Panic transformed into dismay, strengthened by my dismissal of thermodynamics as useless a while back. I do not know if overheating could have given me the edge I needed, but it was another drop in the bowl of dismay.

In the end I think the ship put up more than an honorable performance, going down all guns blazing to the last second. The armor repairer managed to put in several cycles, delaying the structural hits long enough for the drones to cut down a few more frigates – but still not the right ones. After that I sat there in my pod, eyeing the surrounding ships with a vengeful look. Had my eyes been fitted with laser turrets, I think I could have destroyed a small planetoid. Except I was more mad at my own sorry self for being so utterly careless, bordering on the plain stupid.

Pax Nemesis “X”
So I sat there in my pod, pondering what to do next. The corp wallet was at sixty million, not enough to buy a new battleship. I noticed the flashy mail icon, and checked the insurance message. The ship was not insured of course, and I was expecting a condescending, mocking note telling me I should have had the ship insured, gna gna gna. To my surprise, the default insurance payout was 79 million. Now that was more like it! 130 million should get me a new battleship, if not an Abaddon. The fittings were another matter… I decided I had to start liquidating some of the assets I had stashed so far.

Loreena cancelled most of the running buy orders to free up another twenty million, and shipped all the salvage and sellable modules to Rens. In the meantime, Aeon was already on his way to the Amarr trade hub, Oris EFA, as buying the ship and turrets was going to be cheaper there. The salvage sales had the effect of finding a fabled hidden treasure – when I had finished selling everything, the corporation wallet was at a new record of 450 million… nearly half a billion! Not only was I going to be able to replace the lost ship, even fittings and rigs were possible 🙂

I spent a good hour with EFT (Eve Fitting Tool) to come up with an improved setup for the ship, laid out for better survivability (I included the complete fitting in the extended part of this log entry if you want to see the details). Once I knew what I wanted, Aeon bought a new Abaddon and promptly christened it “Pax Nemesis X”. Already having gone through three versions of the name, I chose something a little more final. If I ever lose this ship, I will have to change the name. Fitting it was pretty quick, as everything I needed was available on-station, and quite a bit cheaper than Rens too: 202 million for the ship, modules and rigs as compared to about 220 had I bought all that in Rens.

Righteous revenge
Now was the time to finish what I had started, and at the same time test the slightly modified ship setup. Aeon made the twenty jump trip back to the mission system, Isendeldik, and this time Loreena was there too just in case. At warp-in, the cloud of enemy ships was all around at about 4 kilometres. This meant that the Megathron was going to be able to lay down its max DPS instantly, but I had the right hardeners fitted this time. The DPS was still pretty high, but the new tank held on its own. With three Auxiliary Nano Pump I rigs I expected no less. I was able to finish the mission easily, and even though I regretted losing the ship in the first place it could have been worse. As the saying goes, everything that does not kill you makes you stronger…

Anyhow, it was an interesting evening to say the least. Loreena will be Aeon’s wingman from now on when I run level 4 missions, regardless of how well I am prepared. I am NOT going to lose another ship to a mission – not if I can help it, anyway 🙂

Pax Nemesis X fitting

High Slots
8 x Dual Modulated Heavy Energy Beam I

Med Slots
4 x Cap Recharger II

Low Slots
1 x Damage Control II
1 x Capacitor Power Relay II
2 x Armor XX Hardener II, for primary mission damage (XX = Kinetic/EM/Thermal/Explosive)
2 x Armor XX Hardener II, for secondary mission damage
1 x Large ‘Accomodation’ Vestment Reconstructer I

3 x Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Oct 10 2007

Surviving on your own

Almost every new pilot in EVE gets the advice to join a nice corporation. It is a legitimate advice, as corporations are one of EVE’s core elements. Joining a corporation can bring a lot of benefits, the most advertised ones being free ships, skillbooks, even ISK to get you started. You also often get assigned a mentor that helps you understand the game. In exchange, most corporations will ask a legitimate small percentage of all your income to support it, which usually ranges from five to twenty percent. Additional obligations can (must not) include anything from learning a specific set of skills to running mining operations for a common goal.

So what if you still decide to go your own way? I did, and I thought sharing my insights could be interesting to some pilots out there.

When I started playing EVE, I got told to join a corporation numerous times. Always having been a lone wolf, I waited to learn a bit more about corporations before I took any action. The bulk of recruiting mails also made me suspicious as to how new players could be so interesting. The bits and pieces I was able to learn made me even more reticent, up to the decision to create my own corporation for accounting purposes between my two characters. I did not feel like becoming a part of something larger, but the main reason was that I did not want to have any duties/obligations at all – or be forced into war by someone else’s decisions. EVE promoted freedom, and I wanted a full taste of it.

Needless to say, I tasted freedom! Getting anywhere was very slow at first – starting with five thousand ISK and no external help whatsoever, I mined in a Burst, ran level one missions for ages, and made some micro-scale market operations. Imagine even modules like an Afterbuner I being out of your reach… many players nearly completely skip this step by enlisting the “help” of a corporation, and I am glad I did not skip it.

I think my progression in EVE was much better adapted to the pace at which you learn skills. By the time I had earned the funds to buy the Rupture for missioning, I also had the skills ready for it. A corporation wants you to evolve fast, because then you start earning your keep that much faster. What you do not have is being a part of a community though, joining in something bigger than you. I do not feel a need for that, so I cannot tell you much about it. I have friends in-game, and we have a lot of fun overall. Most of them are in corporations, but that does not hinder our contact at all. Except maybe my odd comment about how they should join Syrkos Technologies to be freed of their bonds 😉

Today my corporation’s wallet is at 200 Mil, I have a fully rigged battleship, a roid-kicking Hulk, a Mammoth with a jetcan-sized hold, corporation offices on five stations throughout Heimatar and Metropolis, and a healthy manufacturing venture. Not once was I bored, I still have a long way to go, and I look upon the future optimistically as always. If you like freedom, I can only tell you that you can do more than just surviving in EVE on your own.

Sep 14 2007

Day 335: Pax Nemesis II’s downfall…

…was the Rogue Slave Trader 2/2 mission. Not that it would have been any trouble under normal circumstances – I jumped in and started shooting things as usual. Only the game became unresponsive, and after a few minutes told me the connection had been lost. Another perfect strike by my ISP, which is specialized in “slow” disconnects: the line stays connected, but next to no data gets through – enough for EVE to stay online a while though, enough to keep off the disconnect safeguards that warp your ship automatically to a safespot…

When I logged back in a while later, I could not believe my eyes – of Pax Nemesis II only a wreck was left, my pod hidden somewhere in the rubble. Apparently the command to activate the armor hardener and repairer hat not gone through, giving those blasted Arch Corpii the perfect occasion to tear through everything – my ISP providing the necessary timeframe. Aeon was safe of course, the Corpii ships circling around the wreck like scavengers. When I came back to my senses, I had Aeon warp back to base. Fortunately, a few days ago Aeon had gone back to Balginia, to fit the Aeonizer properly again and bring it back to my new missioning base. He hopped into it, and warped back into the mission room.

First things first, I salvaged the wreck but there was not much to be saved. A few drones and two modules was all. From then on, it was pure Corpii carnage, with the ship’s armor tank holding out at a mere 25-30% up until four minutes before downtime. Satisfied, I handed in the mission and sat back to think. After a quick calculation, I realized I had just lost about 270 Million worth of ship, modules and rigs. I stared at the number, and seriously considered taking my Lochaber Axe from the wall and pay a visit to my ISP’s local office.

Hell, I petitioned the thing, but that ship won’t be the same if they refund it. In the end, there is a lesson in every defeat – next time the hardener and armor repairer will be running when I jump into a mission room.

Sep 10 2007

Day 331: Journey into lowsec

Exactly the type of thing one should probably not do unprepared and on an impulse: hop into a jumpclone, outift a small cruiser with six Warp Core Stabilizer I modules and head out 38 jumps into lowsec. Why? Because in all likelihood you will not make it. The key word being “unprepared”. Regarding lowsec, I am as much a noob as you can be. The most time I spent there was fifteen minutes, and that was in systems controlled by friendlies…

So what brought this on? Well, I was mining happily when I started thinking about how pretty it must be in lowsec, seeing how much prettier lower security systems like 0.5 to 0.7 can be, with nebulae and stars that literally blow you away. This precipitated my jump cloning back to Balginia, where I had a Maller doing nothing, as well as some Warp Core Stabilizer modules I looted. In utter noobishness, I just fitted the six Warp Core Stabilizers and nothing else. I figured that if I had no guns nor cargo, pirates would leave me be – and if anyone tried to warp scamble me, I would be fine. On second thought, I loaded as much metal scraps into my ship’s hold as it could take. If I was to go down, at least they would not get anything remotely valuable. Theoretically, hmmmkay. In practice, here is what happened:

I plotted a course deep into the outer reaches of the 7-KXBJ region, to the ZS-PNI system to be exact, and started jumping. I trained a bit clicking in the overview to minimize the time I needed to initiate the jumps and warp to the next stargate, then finally started my journey into 0.0. The first two systems were no trouble at all, there was no one there. In the third, I materialized right under a bubble – and warped away in a flash as I noticed a bunch of ships sitting there. As the system had an interesting green-hued nebula, when I reached the outbound stargate I veered around and warped to a planet to take some screenshots.

When I had done the screenshots, I realized I had some company. A small ship that had been at the bubble had warped in not far off, and was heading straight for me. Confident in my WCSs, I warped back out to the stargate and jumped to the next system. My newfound friend was on my heels, and I quickly jumped to the next stargate in my course – only to find him already at the gate. Sure – Interdictors warp a lot faster than cruisers… Again I jumped, only to find myself caught in a nice, big bubble. You can fit as many WCSs as you like, bubbles are stronger.

So it happened that I just sat there, bubbled and webbed, and unit003 took his time blasting me to oblivion. It was not fun, not honorable, just plain stupid and I cursed myself. I had nothing to retaliate, and as he was making fun of my noobishness I realized he was in just for the kill. The chase had been interesting, but now even though I was defenceless he still needed his kill. That’s lawless space for you – honor is a luxury; it is not required.

Victim: AeonOfTime
Alliance: NONE
Corp: Syrkos Technologies
Destroyed: Capsule
System: ZS-PNI
Security: 0.0

Involved parties:

Name: unit003 (laid the final blow)
Security: 4.9
Alliance: INVICTUS.
Corp: eXceed Inc.
Ship: Flycatcher
Weapon: Thorn Rage Rocket

Putting the operation into perspective, chances are I was subsconsciously eager to finally lose my podding virginity 😛 Now that is done, I will have to equip myself for some real blockade running and give them bastards a real run for their kill. From what intel I was able to gather afterwards, blockade running is an art. Bubbles get you everytime, and there are a lot of those around. The best workaround for them is having a microwarpdrive installed, and get out as fast as you can – before anyone can lock and web you. If you get webbed, fighting is your only chance! Making the foray into lowsec right after downtime helps too, as it takes time to put up the bubbles.

I’ll do better next time. And if not then, the one after that. I WILL do my sightseeing tour!