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 , 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 , 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 -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 -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 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 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.

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 23 2008

Day 466: Level 4 preparations

A while back, I tried running a L4 mission with Pax Nemesis III (Abaddon). My friendly neighborhood’s agent gave me Mordus Headhunters, and I was actually quite happy to get that because the level 3 version has very nice loot. Of course I had no idea that it is one of the hardest level 4 missions around… as you can imagine, it was way too much to handle. I refitted for a better tank after a go at the first room, and barely managed to clear it. When I got to room two, I knew instantly there was no way I could get rid of that fleet on my own.

I ended up cancelling the mission, and went back to the drawing board. Using EVEMon, I created a skill plan that should at least make it possible to survive level 4 missions, and from there go on to finishing them more efficiently. It is split into two parts, the first focussing on my drone skills. As I learned recently, drones are a vital element to level 4 missioning, as they can make a big difference in taking down cruisers and battleships.

My particular situation in fighting Angel Cartel ships with an Amarr setup is really the worst combination you can find, as Angel Cartel ships are highly resistant to EM and thermal damage. Lasers can only do those two damage types, so the Berserker (explosive damage) and Wasp (kinetic damage) drones are what you need to take down cruisers and battleships. The first part of my skillplan aims to give me control over Berserker II drones:

1. Drone Interfacing III and IV
4. Combat Drone Operation II, III and IV
6. Heavy Drone Operation II, III and IV
9. Minmatar Drone Specialization I, II, III and IV
13. Heavy Drone Operation V

Total time: 36 days, 12 hours, 50 minutes, 52 seconds

The second part of the skillplan is for improving my tanking capabilities as well as DPS (Damage Per Second). Here again the fact that I use laser turrets plays a big role in what skills I need. The capacitor is the biggest problem of all, so to be able to fit anything other than capacitor support modules in lows and mids I had to train Weapon Upgrades to V as well as Advanced Weapon Upgrades to IV, and am finishing off with Controlled Bursts V now. Base capacitor skills are of course all maxed out already. Here’s what I want to do:

1. Controlled Bursts V
2. EM Armor Compensation IV
3. Explosive Armor Compensation IV
4. Kinetic Armor Compensation IV
5. Thermic Armor Compensation IV
6. Large Energy Turret IV
7. Rapid Firing V
8. Thermic Armor Compensation V
9. Kinetic Armor Compensation V
10. Explosive Armor Compensation V
11. EM Armor Compensation V

Total time: 59 days, 9 hours, 57 minutes, 25 seconds

This gives me another 10% passive resists bonus for all damage types. The other skills, namely Controlled Bursts, Large Energy Turret and Rapid Firing are all for an increased DPS at hopefully no additional capacitor strain. To be precise, Controlled Bursts decreases the capacitor needs of all turrets by an additional 5%, Rapid Firing decreases the time between shots and Large Energy Turret increases the damage output by another 5%. With my current gunnery skills, that should be enough to open the doors to level 4 missions along with the drones as support.

The Loreena joker card

Beyond that, I watched a nice little fight in Eram lately where a Rupture tanked two missile spamming drakes… with the help of a logistics ship that hovered about 80 kilometres out. If all else fails, I will train Loreena up for a logistics ship like the Oneiros and take her along on level 4 missions. She has to train up the Gallente Spaceship Command tree up to cruisers V, but even so it will only take her 35 days to get there. That leaves enough time for another serious mining venture to pay for the ship 🙂

Detailed fitting

All this only makes sense if you look at my current missioning setup of course, so here is Pax Nemesis’ revealed:

High slots
6 x Tachyon Modulated Energy Beam I.
       – Amarr Navy Multifrequency L
       – Amarr Navy Xray L
2 x medium

Medium slots
[Currently testing new layout]

Low slots
[Currently testing new layout]

2 x Capacitor Control Circuit I
1 x Auxiliary Nano Pump I

I invested quite a bit in the Amarr Navy frequency crystals, and so far they have proven to be worth the money. Unfortunately they take damage and will eventually have to be replaced, but I had my first few cruiser insta-pops with them and once you have tasted that it gets difficult to switch back 🙂

…anyway, the level 4 adventure goes on!

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.

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

Jul 4 2007

Day 264: The shield tank of doom

…at least as close as I can currently get to one.

But first, let us go back a few days to when Aeon finally had the skills to fly his newly acquired Maelstrom: I sent him to pick it up in Loguttur, and I must say I was more than a bit excited – this is my very first battleship! Aeon christened it “Pax Nemesis” there on the spot, and I took it back to Oremmulf for a testdrive in a few level 2 missions.

Yeah, I know. Swatting flies with a sledgehammer and all – that ship packs a hell of a punch. Feeling boldened beyond reason, I checked that great site eve-agents.com for a good highsec level 3 agent, and found one just two jumps away. It took a little while, but I moved all my missioning ships and stuff to the new NPC station and decided it was high time Aeon joined some more serious action.

I have to admit, I was scared shitless when I warped into the first mission. Aeon had at least 160 Mil worth of ship and modules around his pod, and I did not even check the mission info. Fortunately, that “Intercept the Saboteurs” mission was not difficult. The cruisers and frigates were rather easily dispatched.

Things got a lot worse, though. The next mission I got offered was “The Blockade“, notorious for being a hard nut if you do not handle it right. I took the time to check out the mission info first, but still managed to handle it all wrong… I actually triggered all three waves at once. Soon I was flooded in cruisers, including more than a few Arch xxxx ships (T2) that have uncanny damage resitances. I had to warp out pretty quickly, and soon also had to realize that I would not be able to finish this mission on my own. I tried everything I could, but I simply did not have enough time to kill at least one of those cruisers between warping back in at full shields and warping back out before taking too heavy damage.

Fortunately one of my buddies from RMS was in-system, and kindly helped me with his Hurricane by dispatching them while I played bait 🙂 Since then I have modified my fitting a bit again, and invested in some shield supporting rigs to even the odds – the result being a shield tank that now works even better than I expected. I will post the current fitting details a little later.

Anyway, doing level 3 missions is really a lot more rewarding than level 2 ones – the pay is a lot better, as are loyalty point rewards. Salvage and loot is better too, so it is definitely worth the trouble. I have not gotten the level 3 equivalent of “Human Cattle” yet, and I must say I am not exactly looking forward to it. But then, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

On the obligatory sidenote, I switched to a Slasher Minmatar cruiser for looting the missions, it has 500 m3 cargo space and is still quite fast with an afterburner (about 650 m/s). I have three Salvager I and three Tractor Beam I modules on there, so salvaging gets really easy. Naereth was wasted on salvaging anyway, you might say – but then I do not care as long as it gets the job done 🙂

Godspeed to y’all!

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)

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

May 25 2007

Day 223: The rise of Naeroth

Aeon has finished training Amarr Frigate to level 5 (after 15 bloody days!), so he directly went on with Interceptors. In prediction for this moment I had already picked up the Malediction-class ship I wanted to try out: Aeon was able to undock with “Naeroth” only a few minutes after Interceptors I finished training.

I did not have any modules to make a good fit, so I just took what I had from my extensive loot stash – a few light lasers, a missile launcher, a shield booster, an afterburner and whatever else I could fit. Already in the fitting screen I could see that this would be fun: 640 km/s cruise speed, and a shield rechargerate of 400 sec.

I spoke to Aeon’s agent, and got the Seven’s Brothel mission. I remembered that there was a cruiser and some frigates in that mission, so I did not think long and jumped in the fray. Well it was fun to say the least: the sentry drone did not even hit me at all, the only problem were the missiles from the cruiser and one of the frigates. I was suprised that I managed to finish the missions without having to warp out at all 🙂

It is probably not good for all L2 missions, but I will definitely use it for smaller missions if only because of its amazing speed… 1400 km/s with the 1MN Afterburner II, YAY!

May 7 2007

Day 205: Catching up

Associating EVE and Real Life is more a battle than not, but the last few days were less stressful – and I realize I have a bit of catching up to do. Aeon has come quite a ways since the last log entry, as you will notice in the summary at the end of this post. Quite predictably my plans to bring all learning skills to level V have been thwarted by a spontaneous desire to fly an Interceptor 🙂

Aeon has no trouble anymore handling any of the Level 2 missions my agent can bring forth, thanks to his skills but also a few module upgrades (see the detailed setup I posted). This makes missioning that much more profitable time to ISK-wise, and makes up for the slow Loyalty Points rewards increase.

Aeon has his current agent at a standing of 9.7 and 10K Loyalty Points: in the near future, I will be able to install my first jump clone and finally reach out into lowsec without fear of losing all my precious implants. This is also why I am training for an interceptor – those little buggers are some of the fastest and nimble ships around, and with Aeon’s navigation skills this will make movement there that much easier.

I am not entirely there yet however… I still want to buy a Hulk too, but it seems I will have to upgrade my patience to level 10 so that I will not despair waiting for the ISK. Syrkos Corporation is up to 45 Mil now, which is still less than the high of 60 Mil before I bought the Hurricane – but I know it can only get better. Speaking of which, a chunk of that sum comes from sales of Mammoths that Loreena Syrkos acquired a Blueprint for and now manufactures on Vullat (evemail her if you want a special deal)!

Human Cattle, reloaded

Speaking of entertainment, one of these nights I ran the Human Cattle mission again. As usual, I posted about this in the RMS chat and Jal Riddel asked me if I wanted to destroy the army from part 5. This sounded like fun, so we met for the last mission jump and took on the big guys.

Jal was in a Hurricane with an armor tank, so he flew in to aggro only a chunk of the army, which worked fine. Together we dispatched a number of frigates and one battleship before the whole cloud of ships noticed us. From then on, it got dangerous. I got locked on by 5 of the 6 remaining battleships, and a barrage of cruise missiles quickly ate through my shields – booster or not.

By the time I could warp out to an in-system station, the ship had 20% armor left. Jal stayed a while longer, but even his tank could not withstand what was left of the army. We decided to call it a test run and I closed the mission to collect the loot – which was more than nice. One Amarr Navy General tag fetched a whopping 780K by itself. Once split, the loot gave me and Jal about one Mil worth. YAY 🙂

I had to use my share for repairs, the whole damage came to a quote of 870K… I really need to get Aeon a repair module to bring down these horrendous costs.

Anyway, that will have to be done again!