Aug 3 2007

Crystalline trouble

Have you ever wanted to know what the life of the crew of a ship in EVE looks like? Maybe the story of Tarellek Maleal, chief engineer on the battleship Anthea will give you an insight. I thought about this for a while until I decided to write a story. I do not really roleplay in the game, but the part of piloting giant ships without any relation to what goes on on them always intrigued me.

Read the story »

Jul 26 2007

Day 285: Portal To War: no kidding!

Many a great invention has sprung from laziness, but I wager that a lot of people through history were also killed by laziness. I was lazy lately, and very nearly joined the ranks of the latter.

My level 3 agent gave me Portal To War, and having done that before without any particular kind of trouble, passed on re-checking the mission report. When I got to part 2 of 5, to that particular room where the first thing you need to do is destroy the control tower, I was utterly unprepared.

I still had the long-range laser crystals active, so 8 times right-click to switch crystals took a while, during which the cruisers and frigates started pounding on my shields just a little too fast. Of course I had also forgotten to activate the shield hardeners (not to mention that they were not the right ones), and when they finally came online half of the shield was gone. I noticed in passing that the shield booster could not keep up with the sheer destructive power Pax Nemesis was now taking, and panic rushed in. I initiated warp to the first thing that I could lock on to, and of course that was exactly the opposite way the ship was facing.

At Pax Nemesis’ turnrate, even gnawing at my fingernails did not help much. I did notice that the control tower was only into armor when warp finally kicked in, but I was too busy staring at my ship’s readouts to make anything of it. 35% structure left of this huge ship, hell that was way too close. In a strange way it was kind of pretty, all that stuff leaking that should not be and this huge trailing column of smoke. I guess onlookers were either smirking fiercely or wondering where I got beat up that bad.

I was alive, yay! Aeon did not have any skills for armor or hull repairers yet, so I set course to the next RMS1 station to pick up the skillbooks, and a quick market session got me the appropriate battleship-sized modules in Rens. Before I even got to the RMS station, a small message in the current chat window marked the beginning of the real ordeal: the control tower had not been destroyed, and the first wave of reinforcements had arrived.

Panic came rushing back and instantly through the roof when I realized I was done for. Pax Nemesis was in no condition to warp back in there now to finish the job, so the reinforcements were going to have all the time in the world to get there. Trying to get my wits together, I first started cursing my sorry lazy self, which helped a little. Then I figured that there could only be that much reinforcements, and that it was nothing the correct hardeners and some warping in & out would not solve.

Heheh, I was completely off the mark again of course. New waves of reinforcements were announced, and I started to think that there was actually not going to be an end to them – “fortunately” they did stop after the fourth wave. I managed to get Pax Nemesis back in shape, fitted the right hardeners, and jumped back into the fray – well prepared this time, reasonably afraid and with a good plan in mind:

– activate the hardeners,
– warp in
– lock the tower
– take it out
– warp out if necessary.

I swear that the instant I got there and had the tower locked, 60% of my shield made pop! and were gone. So before I could say or think “OOOF, no way!” I warped to my new, perfectly aligned bookmark and managed to get out with a whopping 15% of armor left. The overview had been full of red dots, and the size of the scrollbar showed there were lots of spare red dots if I even managed to kill a few.

It did give the mission’s name real meaning… but did not help me much. I knew for a fact now that I could not do this alone. I may be thick-headed, but that fact was large enough to seep through. I considered cancelling the mission, but I do not like giving up. Instead I asked in my corp channel if someone was crazy enough to come help me, and got DeadlyDealer to join me with his Raven.

I refitted a bit while he was on the way, adding double EM and Thermal hardeners to bring the resists up to 80% EM and 78% Thermal – better but still not good enough. A Large Shield Extender I was to provide an additional buffer, and I also added a Damage Control I in case I wanted to structure tank a bit again.

DeadlyDealer warped in first, as his armor tank was better than my shield tank. We managed to kill a cruiser and a couple of frigs before we were both swamped – it was crazy. DeadlyDealer went back to base to fetch his Drake, but even though that lasted longer it did not have enough DPS2 to make a difference. We agreed that this room was not doable unless we brought in some additional ships – I was already 2 hours past my bedtime, so we decided to try it again the next day.

I was looking forward to the challenge, but I was not able to go online before the daily downtime, and the mission reset. In the end I was thankful, because there was no one left at that time to help me and I was able to destroy the control tower properly 🙂 Laziness and overconfidence – not a good mix in EVE, even when “only” running missions!

1) RMS: Republic Military School

2) DPS: Damage Per Second

Jun 18 2007

Day 247: Adventures collected

How the 120 Mil were spent

A lot has happened lately, and it is a bit difficult to put it into readable form. Where to begin? The best is probably how the Syrkos Corporation’s wallet reached a historic high of 120 Mil, and how Aeon spent it all within a minute. I was really quite proud of that achievement, having earned every single penny mission running, manufacturing, mining and selling materials, reprocessing loot, trading and whatnot.

Someone in my corp chat mentioned that he is now building Maelstroms, and I had reviewed the minmatar battleship specifications a while earlier: the Maelstrom is designed for shield tanking. It is a perfect match for Aeon’s skills, so I asked if I could buy one. Some 120 Mil ISK later Aeon was the proud owner of his first battleship. A few moments later he was also a quite disappointed pod pilot – he could not train that shiny Minmatar Battleship skillbook yet because I had forgotten that he still needed to train Minmatar Cruiser to level IV. He is still looking at a 3 days long wait until he can actually fly the thing :

From what I heard about the maelstrom I think I will not regret my choice. With the available capacitor and shields it will make an impressive improvement over my current battlecruiser fitting. Hopefully I will even be able to start some level 3 missions to increase the time to ISK ratio a bit. Aeon will have to continue improving on his laser skills which I had put on hold (yet again) for that though.

Now the aim has to be at about 200 Mil so that I can finally buy a Hulk for Aeon and give those blasted macrominers a run for their ore. Ideally, Loreena Syrkos should train for one too so she can team up with Aeon and mine the ore away under their rotten feet…!

Encounters and discoveries

Peter from lactic-haze contacted me in-game lately, and has been a good friend by showing me a lot of interesting things about EVE. It is almost as though he wants to make my education 🙂 As soon as he was back in highsec1) he invited me to a complex, as I had never been to one yet. About 8 jumps later, Aeon and Serotta Ottot were in a 0.5 system and warping into the complex – wich had unfortunately just been cleared and was being salvaged. Peter nevertheless recklessly scouted out the remaining two rooms in his shuttle (!), nearly getting blasted in the process. One of the rooms had only a few ships left, so Aeon ventured in.

The few ships happened to be some cruisers, three battleships and a bunch of frigates… I guess that lowsec conditions you to another kind of terminology – I would not have called that a few ships 🙂 I was able to kill a few frigates, and the shield was holding surprisingly well. The raw destruction of the battleships’ missiles were more than a match for Crimson Skies, however. Aeon warped out, but I knew I would be back soon 🙂

I realized that complexes are nothing more than public missions where anyone can jump in anytime. No mission pay, but rather good bounties with those battlecruisers and battleships. Now that Aeon has salvage skills, it should be profitable to combine all that – Peter made about 6 Mil in a morning just clearing the complex.

I went back to the complex alone a while later, and cleared the first room on my own with Crimson Skies until only the Gist Commander battleship was left. I had him into armor when some jerk jumped in and took the kill. I would have torn him to pieces if I could – that was my first battleship…!! It is the way of the game though – respect is nice, but not mandatory. You have to expect stuff like that if you venture into complexes2).

Dusting off a minmatar classic

Peter gave me his old Cyclone as he apparently really hated that ship 🙂 I accepted it joyfully, as it has a reputation to be a good shield tanker with its 4 medium slots that can be used to fit shield hardener modules and boosters. It also has a specific shield boosting bonus like the Maelstrom which none of the other battlecruisers I tested so far had. I flew out to Loguttur in a shuttle, and docked at the station. I considered torching the hangar bay manager “Scotty” for making me wait 11 seconds before I could change ships, but ate some chocolate instead.

The Cyclone really is a Minmatar classic ship that only a few pilots still take out – maybe also because of its rather weird look. Then again, the minmatar style is not exactly known for its eyecandy (except maybe the Hurricane)… Anyway I was finally allowed to board, and named it Svaryell. I undocked and made my way back to my homebase to do some fitting.

For the fitting, I pretty much moved the same setup I had on Crimson Skies to Svaryell with slight adjustments: the Cyclone only has 5 turret hardpoints, so I filled the remaining 3 with light missile launchers. In the mid slots, I added an additional shield hardener and in the lows I kept my array of power diagnostic systems.

I did a few missions, and I must say I quite like this ship. Its design is not so shocking after all, I particularly like the large rear with that array of propulsion thrusters. The front is weird, it somehow reminds me of a train (a bit like the Wreathe) – but I like it. I ran a few missions, and so far it has proven to be a good match for Crimson Skies and the Aeonizer. It definitely has a superior shield tank, but otherwise it is true that the Hurricane is more fun to fly. Nevertheless, the impression of indestructibility the Hurricane gives is more pronounced with this ship.

I like change, so Svaryell is not going to have time to collect dust. The next time I get the Human Cattle or The Blockade missions, I will really test that shield tank. Especially since Peter gave me about a zillion directives on how to fit it, I think I will have a very good addition to my ships collection.

Salvaging? Yes, but blitz-style please.

Peter convinced me to train for salvaging, so now Aeon has started salvaging his mission runs. Quite profitable occupation indeed – even if the prices will eventually drop quite a bit still with all the people who now have the skills and flood the markets with components.

I had refrained from training for salvaging until now because I do not have much time to play – I like to maximize the time I spend missioning, and most of the time I do not loot much anymore. Especially since I moved from speed-based combat tactics to close-up combat with shield tanking, looting the wrecks has become too tedious. Switching ships just to loot 2 or three wrecks does not cut it either.

When I had the salvaging skills, I outfitted Naereth with a tractor beam, three salvager modules and a cargo expander. Now I run the missions, switch to Naereth and salvage like a madman at 1600 m/s. As the salavage components are all very light, cargo space is not a problem – maybe on big missions like Human Cattle, but then a small trip back to base is done in a flash too…

…practical, fun AND profitable. That’s the way I like to play 🙂

1) Apparently, the most difficult thing about lowsec is getting in and out of it, as Peter recounts

2) In Revelations II which is deployed as I write this, complexes will be more dynamic, and thus a lot less prone to the so-called “farming” by players that camp in these complexes and do them over and over again. I look forward to that 🙂 (See the patchnotes)

Jun 7 2007

Day 236: Baiter baited

Every now and then, a baiter sets up his traps in the vicinity of stations where new players start. They always use the same technique: jettisoning containers near the station with attractive labels, and then waiting for a newbie player to take a peek inside. As this is an act of “aggression”, the arguably overly curious pilot then gets shot and maybe – depending on the baiter’s character – podded1 too.

Most of the newbie players that fall for such a trap do not even know what hit them, as a multitude of “My ship exploded, what happened?” in the help channel show. Needless to say, I despise people who do this – especially when they do it in front of my starting station, Ammold V. Starting off in EVE is quite difficult as it is without bastards like that getting you shot even during the tutorial.

One of my in-game buddies encountered a baiter at Ammold V, and decided he would confront him. This one was using containers labelled “Free” to attract potential kills… I really wanted to watch the baiter’s demise, so I slipped into Naeroth and jumped to Ammold. I anchored the ship a few clicks from the station to have a good view of the action, and waited a bit while preparations were made.

The corp chat was busy talking strategy – apparently this was not the first time this pilot had baited in Ammold. One of my corp buddies had already dispatched him once a while ago when he was flying a Myrmidon. This time he was in a Thorax, and from scanning his ship we found out it was all pretty basic tech 1 stuff he had. To really ridicule him, my corp buddy decided to outfit a Breacher 🙂

The plan was rather easy: as we found out, our baiter could only hit something at about 7000m – so my corp buddy would approach the container, warp out and straight back in again at 70km to be able to keep him at range. It worked pretty well, except – he locked my buddy once, but did not fire. Apparently this scheme had made our baiter suspicious… He must have guessed I was part of the game too sitting there in my Interceptor, and started a private conversation… asking me whether it was safe to approach my corp buddy. His english was so bad I did not understand what he wanted, nor did he understand my replies.

By this time, Ammold was bursting at the seams. Several other corp buddies had come with their own ships, and people were starting to ask questions in local about what was going on. Right then one of my buddies undocked from the station, in a newbie ship – and took the bait. This time the baiter did not take time to think and shot him – giving my buddy the combat timer, allowing him to fight back if he has the means to do so. As it were, he had 🙂 He undocked again in his Hurricane, but the baiter took the hint rather quickly and used his MWD to quickly get away from the station.

Hovering about 280 kms off from the station, he probably took some time to think. Two of my buddies and myself started to fly towards him, and he finally left the system. It was not a complete victory, but a victory nonetheless 🙂

1) getting podded: getting killed, by having one’s pilot capsule destroyed that is left over when the ship is destroyed.

May 31 2007

Day 228: The fabulous Human Cattle show

I have done the “Human Cattle” mission quite a few times already, and it is not really that challenging anymore – except if you try to take on the fleet at the end. I tried that with a fellow RMS player a while ago, but we did not have enough firepower in our two battlecruisers.

Last night I had cleared all rooms of the mission once again, and was looking at that big wall of ships at the end from a safe distance. I was actually starting to contemplate trying to take on a small portion of the stack on my own, but decided against it. I asked in our channel if anyone wanted to give it a try – and indeed a player with a Raven responded. To avoid using his real character name, I’ll call him John.

From there on, things got pretty interesting. John claimed that his battleship could tank the whole lot of them, and frankly I had my doubts. When he got to Oremmulf where the encounter was taking place, we realized this would take a while: his Raven was slow (140 km/s), so to get it through the first two rooms we had to be patient. When his ship finally warped to the last room, the game was finally on.

The plan was that John would aggro1 the whole stack, and I would take care of the smaller ships that his cruise missiles are ineffective against. This is where the whole thing turned into an amazing show: John’s raven blasted out a whole burst of 8 cruise missiles, and when they hit one after the other, the first of the enemy battleships was blown to dust. The next salvo was already on its way, and I just sat there watching, gaping even. By the time the cloud of ships started to muster a response, about 6 wrecks were already floating about.

Now the heat was really on, and John was under heavy fire by a bunch of frigates which were the first to reach him – no wonder either, with speeds of up to 1200 km/s. I got aggroed by a few myself, and by the time I got rid of them with my drones and lasers John was already in trouble. He was armor tanking, but had no EM hardeners – most of the damage in this mission is EM though :/ In extremis he was able to warp out to the Genolution Biohazard Containment Facility. An unlucky choice, as that station has no repair shop… To make things even worse, his armor strengthening command bonus did not apply in the station, so his ship was in no condition to undock anymore!2

I flew to Frarn to pick up some armor plates for him, and he fetched a few armor repairer modules to get the ship back into shape. Shortly afterwards we were on our long trek to the final room of the mission again, and we were able to pick up where we left off.

This time, it went quite a bit better. We cleared nearly the whole room before John had to warp out again, and I actually managed to kill quite a few of those blasted frigates. Even my tech 1 drones did an honorable job. I stayed as long as my capacitor lasted, and even got one of the remaining battleships down to about 30% armor. I was satisfied to see that my shield tank worked against two battleships, only the capacitor was a problem.

Needless to say, the third attack was the one that did the trick. It was a very inspiring battle, something to work towards to. I know I will need a lot more training to get there, but this kind of havoc wreaking is definitely worth the wait. I regret not having taken any screenshots, I completely forgot about it – and I had just installed Game Cam3 too. Next time then 🙂

1) to aggro: Getting the “aggression” (attention) of NPC ships by moving near them or targetting/attacking them.

2) The armor strengthening command bonus adds to the armor hitpoints of ships in a gang while they are in-system and undocked, so if your ship has very little armor left, it will have none once you dock. Actually it is even possible to lose a ship this way: if you leave the gang giving the bonus in space and your ship has only a few hitpoints left… *wammo*.

3) Game Cam: very good freeware alternative to Fraps