Dec 16 2010

Closing the gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Heavy Armor Maintenance Bot II x3
Vespa II x5

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

Some stats:

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

Those are with Loreena’s current skillset:

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

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


Aug 18 2010

Skills distribution 8/2010

I am still importing my old blog posts that had gotten lost in the server crash, and I came upon a post from 2007 about Aeon and Loreena’s skill distribution. It was interesting to see how they both evolved during those three years. Here’s how it looks today:

Aeon’s top areas, not counting Learning skills, compared to 2007:

» Spaceship Command (18.4 Mil) – unchanged
» Gunnery (9.7 Mil) – unchanged
» Science (5.3 Mil) – up from #4
» Engineering (4 Mil) – new
» Mechanic (4 Mil) – new

Loreena’s top areas:

» Spaceship Command (14.5 Mil) – unchanged
» Science (9.2 Mil) – up from #3
» Gunnery (6.5 Mil) – new
» Drones (6.5 Mil) – new
» Mechanic (4.4 Mil) – new

Loreena is the one with the most changes, she evolved into a science / combat hybrid with some really good drone skills. Aeon pretty much continued on the path he had started on, namely flying ships and killing stuff with them. The fact that science is so far up the list is because of the scanning and hacking/archaeology skills.

Both characters also have some mid-term skillings plans at the moment: Aeon is working on making a foray into capital ships with an Archon, and Loreena is skilling up on Hybrid guns to eventually fly a Kronos. Well, she already has the ship and can undock in it, but she can’t shoot anything with it yet 🙂

I am still not quite sure whether the time and ISK investment into Aeon’s carrier venture is really worth it – but I guess you never know until you’ve tried. Loreena and her Kronos are a long-standing dream, I just hope I will not forget too often to take ammo along 😀


Feb 9 2010

Day 1214: Wormholes and T3 Revelation

A few months ago, Aeon trained the Amarr Strategic Cruiser and Amarr Subsystem skills all to level 3. I did not plan to get a strategic cruiser then, I wanted him to have them “just in case”. He was in the Amarr region back then, so all the subsystem skills were selling at the nice NPC prices. I did not bother to check prices of the ships or subsystems themselves on the market as the wallet was looking bleak as usual, and T3 cruisers are renowned for being rich kid’s toys. After a long trip back deep into the Derelik region, he resumed scanning complexes and wormholes, trying to find some rare gems – and components for Loreena’s manufacturing efforts of COSMOS BPCs.

After losing a Zealot to a particularly deadly sleeper site, I tried to come up with a better ship for the task. I let no stone unturned, from destroyers to battleships. All but the strategic cruisers. The conclusion was that the Zealot is definitely in a class of its own: none of the Amarr battlecruisers can match its tank (neither can the Brutix), the Omen Navy Issue cruiser packs a good punch but is too frail, and battleships are too clumsy. Command ships I deemed too expensive to lose in a wormhole, although the Absolution is nearly perfect for the task. So a new Zealot it was, with the same fit as before. It has proven itself over and over, so I went back to exploring.

What ensued was a chain of frustrating experiences. From acceleration gates that did not allow HACs to class 3 wormholes in which most sites are too dangerous for a mere Zealot, it seemed that I was doomed to switching ships for nearly every site I encountered. My local station was beginning to fill with different sized ships again, and the logistics of the whole operation was beginning to get on my nerves. Of course Loreena could have tagged along in the Orca, but she did not seem very enthusiastic – she was busy in the Kador and Amarr regions collecting COSMOS components. Aeon could have used his charm, but I preferred to keep that Joker card for another time. There had to be a solution.

For the time being, I stuck to what I could do with the Zealot while I built up some ISK to buy an Absolution fitted for wormholes. The solution came in the form of a graphical layout and website I built for N.A.G.A. Corporation (www.nagacorporation.net), and which replenished Aeon’s wallet in one strike. I made another EFT session, and as I had dabbled with strategic cruiser fittings before I thought what the heck and made a new one.

The result left me speechless and grinning like a madman. The Legion fitting I had had just whipped together had slightly less DPS than the Zealot, but about 3x the tank. Enough to take just about anything the usual complexes and sleeper sites could throw at the ship. It was even cap stable without a single Capacitor Control Circuit rig, which was the topping of an already juicy pie. As you can imagine, my mind was made up in a few nanoseconds and Aeon was already on his way to Amarr to buy the ship.

My only worry was that I did not know how much these things cost and that I may not be able to get one despite the ISK I had earned. Contracts showed some hulls at about 240 mil which did not seem too bad, but that was without the subsystems. When Aeon arrived in the Amarr Oris station, the hulls were actually selling at a round 200 mil, so I bought one right away. The subsystems cost an average of about 60 mil per unit. I bought everything I needed for the fit on the spot, and after the subsystems, rigs and co had been properly installed and configured I took the time to contemplate the beast.

Damn, that ship is sexy. As many Amarr ships, the base hull has a resemblance to a bug with those mandibles. This particular subsystem configuration makes for a rather compact and bulky shape – fitting for that beast of a tank I think. I christened it “Alea’s Nemesis”, in reference to the main character of my EVE-related short story. Aeon was just as eager as I was to give her a spin, so he undocked, and made the trek back to Derelik.

He took a short detour through gallente space to meet up with another Sytek member who is a Tengu pilot, and was busy dispatching EOM ships. I found out that the tank was more than enough for this mission, but the DPS was severely lacking. Then again, it was a complex-oriented fit with only three turrets so that was to be expected. All in all it was a good test, and the two ships side by side did look extremely good.

Back in Derelik, I took out the Anathema and went lowsec scouting to explore for wormholes and complexes. It was a quiet night, but I found no wormholes. I did find a 3/10 sansha complex however, and that turned out to be exactly what I needed as final test. The last room was one big fleet with about 40 ships all classes combined (frigates to battlecruisers). When they all got into range the tank started to break slowly, but Aeon was killing them fast enough to handle it all effortlessly. Without moving an inch, which is quite decadent compared to the Zealot with which I have learned how to navigate with afterburner to mitigate the incoming DPS.

The one big realization that came to me that night was that these ships are more or less made for complexing, as they fit into almost any acceleration gate where command ships or even HACs are not allowed. I used to use a regular cruiser (Omen Navy Issue or Pilgrim) for those, but this is infinitely more useful. No need for an army of different sized ships anymore, yay!!

Strategic Cruisers come with one big drawback: if you do get caught and your ship is destroyed, you lose one level in one of the ship’s race subsystem skills. So if you trained them all to V, you will have to re-train the one chosen randomly to V. It is not that bad, as they are all 1x skills that do not take too long to train up.

Here is the full fitting for the ship as I use it right now. As you probably guessed, it is made for wormholes and complexes. It uses just a few faction mods and works with all T2 as well:

[Wormholes & Complexes]
Imperial Navy Medium Armor Repairer
Imperial Navy Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane
Imperial Navy Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Heat Sink II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
10MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Heavy Pulse Laser II,Conflagration M
Heavy Pulse Laser II,Conflagration M
Heavy Pulse Laser II,Conflagration M
Salvager II
Core Probe Launcher I,Core Scanner Probe I
Medium Energy Burst Aerator I
Medium Energy Locus Coordinator I
Medium Nanobot Accelerator I
Legion Defensive - Nanobot Injector
Legion Electronics - Dissolution Sequencer
Legion Engineering - Capacitor Regeneration Matrix
Legion Offensive - Liquid Crystal Magnifiers
Legion Propulsion - Chassis Optimization

With this setup, using a better armor repairer will have drastic effects with the nanobot injector subsystem + nanobot accelerator rig combo. With my crappy skills (Strategic Cruiser at 3 and all subsystems at 3), this setup gives me an EFT omni defence rating of 450, 213 DPS and 85.7% EM / 81.4 % TH / 89.3 KIN / 89.1% EX resists. At level V, the defence rating climbs up to 520 with 255 DPS. As an example, fitting an A-Type armor hardener puts the tank at 675 defence rating.

…not bad for a cruiser!

I will have to testdrive the ship in wormholes next, but so far they have proven to be surprisingly elusive over here. Will post an update when I have found one and ground some sleepers to dust.

On a sidenote, if you have COSMOS BPCs you cannot build from, evemail me which ones you have and I’ll make you an offer for them. Alternatively I also offer a manufacturing service for them, Loreena has all the specialty skills at V (Sleeper Tech, Talocan Tech, Takmahl Tech and Yan Jung Tech). Just contact me ingame for details.


Jan 25 2009

Day 834: AeonOfTime’s biggest ship yet

Putting aside the fact that the Orca in EVE Online has none of the aggressive traits of its earth-dwelling sea mammal counterpart, it is indeed good news. When the new ship was announced, I was very enthusiastic about a new ship class that was obviously targeted to gang mining as well as corporation support and transport. Aeon himself already had all the required skills being a part-time miner, but having him fly the ship would have defeated the purpose of gang mining with Loreena. She had zero mining skills to start with, so it was more logical timewise to have her train for it than for a Hulk. To make sure I was not plunging head-on into a fool’s errand, I set up a client to play on the Singularity server and had Aeon testdrive the ship. My first impression was that for an industrial ship, it looked pretty sleek. A short trip outside the station showed that it was slow, which was to be expected… The rest was pure bliss though. I was not able to test everything, but as there were a lot of other pilots on to test the ship the local chatter answered my initial needs for information.

I started Loreena to train all the prerequisites, which incidentally means she can now also fly mining barges, which is a plus. By the time she had all the required skills a few Orcas were available on market, but as usual with new items at prices beyond reason – some even above 1 billion (the BPO price). From then on, it meant waiting. A friend of mine active in capital ships production told me they would eventually settle around 450 mil depending on mineral prices, so I gave it my best shot at patience. I had been mining for quite a while before that, and liquidating some unused assets catapulted Aeon’s wallet up to an all-time record of 1.1 billion, which did not exactly help the patience bit. It was only about finding my breaking point from there.

I observed the price evolution, and the decision was quickly made when I saw one for 630 million ISK. I made a few inter-regional pricechecks and eventually bought the ship right in Lustrevik, next door to Syrkos Technologies‘ headquarters. A trip to Jita would only have saved a few million, so I decided those 20+ jumps were not worth the trouble. Still quite a ways off the 450 mil mark, but it was good enough for me. Besides, having all that ISK in the wallet made me nervous, with all the other shiny stuff I could buy. Incidentally, it made me realize that Heimatar is quite a competitive market compared to Jita. Rens is often cheaper for tech 2 modules than Jita, if not on par with going prices there. Not enough to make a lot of profit, but enough to make it feel good to live in the area and know Jita is not the holy grail.

There was something thrilling about buying something that big after the Abaddon almost a year ago. I logged in Loreena, and checked the price three times to make sure there was the right number of zeroes in it (not that a missing zero would have been an issue). Then the market deliveries window refreshed and there it was, together with some Frozen Food, Frozen Plant Seeds, a bit of Wheat and 70 Tourists that were probably amazed by the huge packaged ship. I did not check if any of the frozen seeds disappeared, but I for one would surely have made myself some popcorn to watch the ship being assembled. For the first time in quite a while, christening the ship felt meaningful, and reminded me of the joy from my first acquisitions. After an albeit impatient solemn moment, Loreena was in space in the “Tatonka” (from the root Native American, meaning “large bull”) and en route to Sytek’s Lustrevik headquarters for a short fitting session. After whipping on a hasty fitting, Loreena warped out to an empty moon and together with a few corp members, we tested the ship’s functions.

Impressive, dr Watson

First off, the ship is huge. As usual in EVE you won’t realize this to its full extent until you see some other ships next to it – even battleships are relatively small compared to the Orca. As a mostly highsec pilot, it is refreshing to have a “heavyweight” ship other than the existing freighters allowed to fly around there. Especially since the Rorqual and all the battle-oriented capital ships are restricted to low- and nullsec. Beyond the mere aesthetic points, what seduced me is primarily the solid mining gang support. A lot of players thinking of buying an Orca crunch numbers like how long they will have to mine to get back the cost of the ship, but I have a much more pragmatic approach: I take decisions by gut. Otherwise I would probably not have bought it, and missed a lot of fun. Friends of the pew-pew will doubtlessly wonder behind which asteroid the fun in this might be hiding, but sitting in a belt with that ship is just awesome. Loreena keeps it within 1.500 metres of Aeon’s Hulk, that way Aeon can move his mined ore directly into the Orca’s corporation hangar without even having to drop a jetcan. Try stealing that ore 🙂

Here is a quick overview of the Orca:

  • 250% tractor beam range bonus (~71 km), 1000 m/s speed
  • 500% survey scanner range bonus
  • 5% cargo bonus per level
  • 3% gang modules bonus per level
  • Transportation: 81.588 m3 with 2 x Expanded Cargohold II and 3x Cargohold Optimization I rigs at my current ICS II
  • Transportation: 40.000 fixed corporation hangar space on top of raw cargo space
  • Transportation: 400.000 m3 for assembled ships with rigs (so up to BC size)
  • Full-fledged command ship, can fit all gang modules
  • Can fit three gang modules out of the box
  • Corporate hangars that can be accessed by up to 10 members simultaneously
  • Fitting and storing / undocking ships in space with the ship maintenance bay
  • Docking/undocking ships in space
  • Not easy to gank (10.750 Shield / 6.900 Armor / 46.000 Structure without skills)
  • Limitation: Ships in ship maintenance bay can only carry charges in their cargohold, no regular cargo
  • Limitation: Maintenance bay can only carry assembled ships

The gang modules make Aeon’s often short mining sessions a lot more profitable (with a theoretical maximum yield bonus of 45 to 50% depending on skills and implants). There are three Mining Foreman modules:

Of course these bonuses are subject to the related Leadership skills and ship bonuses. Loreena currently gets 10.6% from all three with Mining Director V. On Tatonka I use 2 x Laser Optimization and 1 x Field Enhancement as I have no need for the capacitor bonus. I could go for all-out cycle duration, but being able to mine up to 18 kms away without moving around is worth it. What I also like about the ship is that it is not an easily gankable ship. You need a lot of firepower to take one down even without any defensive modules installed. I am not keen on losing the ship though, so following some recommendations I always have a Damage Control II fitted and active. On top of that, as I do not use any survey modules or midslots at all I fitted a permarun Large Shield Booster II. Handy to tank rats… and more.

Of course it all depends on how you use the ship. My case is pobably not very widespread, with only one Hulk in the mining gang 🙂 With a ship like that, I prefer to be safe than sorry. You should not fly around with all your assets in the hold anyway, that is a gank waiting to happen. When I need to transport things I try to keep the total value not too high, and NEVER do it on autopilot. I have been ganked once before that way, it was a lesson well learned – but I digress, back to the topic at hand. Battleclinic has no way to post a fitting for ORE ships, so here it is the old way:

[lowslots]
1 x Damage Control II
1 x Power Diagnostic Unit II

[medslots]
3 x Cap Recharger II
1 x Large Shield Booster II

[highslots]
2 x Mining Foreman Link – Laser Optimization
1 x Mining Foreman Link – Mining Laser Field Enhancement

[rigs]
3 x Cargohold Optimization I

Beyond mining

Trust people to use it for everything it is NOT made for, but as a command ship the Orca is not limited to mining tasks alone. You can fit any of the available gang modules, and some players successfully use the ship as missioning support. It has a 75 m3 drone bay, which means it can actively participate in fights if need be, and it’s a great salvager with that 70 km tractor range and increased speed. It can carry all the ammo you will ever need and you can even store ships for different tasks in it to swap around in space. Want to change hardeners for the next room? You do not even have to dock. It is not exactly what I would do with it, but it is always good to think outside of the box… Which is exactly what some pirates did when the Orca was released. As far as I know they used a small glitch that allowed the ship to transport -10 security status characters into highsec, and would warp into belts, undock with ships from the maintenance hangar and gank some unsuspecting miners. That glitch has been fixed since, but it further demonstrates that as boring and repetitive that mining can get, you should always keep your guard up.

Well I think this about wraps the subject for now, I wrote a lot more than I started out for. As always, feel free to comment. I would love to hear how you use your Orca, or what you are planning to do when you eventually get one.

On a sidenote, Aeon really has to train Veldspar Processing sometime soon… 2 years into the game and he still cannot mine Veldspar properly, and that with the current market prices! Chribba, if you hear me, I know – I’m not worthy 🙂 Seeing how fast I can strip a belt on my own now, it is kind of depressing to have to leave all the veldspar asteroids behind. The ship and gunnery skills have gotten a lot of love lately, so I think it is only fair to focus back on mining for a month or two.

I have posted few screenshots of late, so here is a catchup collection!


Dec 10 2008

An introduction to logistics

“EVE Online’s cheat mode”

Of course there is no such thing. Or is there? I am starting to think that logistics ships are indeed EVE’s god mode. I recently ran the level 4 mission “The Assault” against the Serpentis, and even though the first room does not have to be cleared I was more than happy to clear it anyway because of all the nice bounties. I have to admit that I am pretty lazy though, so I logged Loreena on and she joined Aeon’s Abaddon in her Oneiros. Her logistics skills are all maxed out now, for remote armor, shield and capacitor support. Boldly Aeon got full agro of the room, and the combined on-board armor repairer plus Loreena’s three tech 2 remote armor repairers took on the whole room’s damage.

It was not the first time I ran this mission with Loreena along, but this time I actually marveled at the list of ships in the overview. Aeon was merrily tanking 12 battleships at one point, as well as a heap of battlecruisers, cruisers and frigates (“small fry” as some pilots call them). On his own he would have lost the ship a few times over already, and this was just with the three remote armor repairers – for emergencies she also has five armor repair drones on board.

You might argue that taking a logistics ship as support to one of the best tanking battleships out there is way overkill, and I would tend to agree with you. For some mysterious reason it feels incredibly good though… For my defense I have to say that using lasers is not exactly the best weaponry against serpentis, so clearing the room takes a long time – during which Aeon has to sustain a lot of damage. Taking Loreena along makes the whole thing a whole lot safer and enjoyable. It’s not that I don’t like the occasional adrenaline rush – but I am a carebear that likes a cosy cave after all 🙂

Here is a quick comparison of the logistics ships in the game (bonuses take into account the race Cruiser V requirement):

Guardian (Amarr)
750% bonus to Energy Transfer Array range
750% bonus to Remote Armor Repair System range
100% bonus to Armor Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-65% power need for Remote Armor Repair Systems
-50% power need for Energy Transfer Arrays
15% reduction in Energy Transfer Array capacitor use per level
15% reduction in Remote Armor Repair system capacitor use per level
Fitting: 6 / 2 / 5
Dronebay: 25 m3
Speed: 209 m/s

Basilisk (Caldari)
750% bonus to Shield Transport range
750% bonus to Energy Transfer Array range
100% bonus to Shield Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-50% CPU need for Shield Transporters
-50% power need for Energy Transfer Arrays
15% reduction in Shield Transport Array capacitor use per level
15% reduction in Energy Transport Array capacitor use per level
Fitting: 6 / 5 / 2
Dronebay: 25 m3
Speed: 192 m/s

Oneiros (Gallente)
750% bonus to Remote Armor Repair System range
750% bonus to Tracking Link range
100% bonus to Armor Maintenance Bot transfer amount
-65% power need for Remote Armor Repair Systems
15% reduction in Remote Armor Repair System capacitor use per level
10% bonus to Tracking Link efficiency per level
Fitting: 4 / 5 / 4
Dronebay: 50 m3
Speed: 214 m/s

Scimitar (Minmatar)
750% bonus to Shield Transport range
750% bonus to Tracking Link range
100% bonus to Shield Maintenance Bot transport amount
-50% CPU need for Shield Transporters
15% reduction in Shield Transport capacitor use per level
10% bonus to Tracking Link efficiency per level
Fitting: 4 / 5 / 4
Dronebay: 45 m3
Speed: 253 m/s

If you look at these ships, you will see that there are two ships in each support category – The Oneiros and Guardian for armor support, the Basilisk and Scimitar for shield support. The Guardian and Basilisk focus on armor/shield and energy support whereas the Oneiros and Scimitar focus on armor/shield and tracking support. Tracking support is less commonly used, so the most popular ships in this list are the Guardian and Basilisk. Bonuswise these ships are all the same though, there is not one that is “the best” for armor or shield support, it depends solely on the role you need the ship to play. Loreena for example flies an Oneiros because it has a goodly dronebay, is fast and can be armor tanked.

Now let’s have a look at what skills you need to fly a logistics cruiser (I’m assuming you want to go for T2 modules).

Ship skills
Electronics II
Spaceship Command III
– (Race) Cruiser V
Long Range Targeting V
Signature Analysis V
Logistics I

Armor support
Mechanic III
Repair Systems II
Remote Armor Repair Systems IV

Shield support
Science II
Engineering III
Shield Emission Systems IV

Tracking support
Electronics III
Sensor Linking IV

Granted, especially the ship skills are not exactly cheap timewise, but then again they can’t hurt to have. I never regretted training Loreena for logistics, and that Elite certificate she has now sure looks good 🙂

So what can you expect to get from all this? Taking the Oneiros as an example, I can easily permarun 4 x T2 Medium Remote Armor Repairers, which represent 4 x 192 HP every 4.5 seconds (768 HP total). I have not come accross a single level 4 mission where I had to use all four repairers, which is why I put a salvager in the fourth high slot. With a range of 51 km on the repairers, Loreena can go salvaging even in the heat of the mission. Even if she gets targeted, with an AB speed of 660 m/s and a small armor tank she can even sustain quite a bit of damage herself. Even tanked Hoborak Moon once while she was webbing him…

As a conclusion, logistics are a good investement whether you mission solo and have the luxury of a second account or want to take on a prized role within your corp. Comments welcome as always, also check out the loadout on battleclinic for Loreena’s Oneiros.

[EDIT] Updated the links to the item database, updated the Oneiros loadout.
[EDIT] Updated with new tags and inline ship info


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.
  Charges:
       – Amarr Navy Multifrequency L
       – Amarr Navy Xray L
2 x medium

Medium slots
[Currently testing new layout]

Low slots
[Currently testing new layout]

Rigs
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!


Nov 23 2007

Day 405: Jumping on the heavy assault bandwagon

Somehow with all the level 4 and 5 skills Aeon has been training for the last months, I completely lost track of what he could do. He trained up all base support and gunnery skills, and sometime lately I fired up EVEMon, and realized Aeon was only four days away from Heavy Assault Ships. He only needed to train Assault Ships to level IV and Spaceship Command to level V, so I started on that path directly. Currently using Chawagga (my Amarr cruiser, Maller) to run complexes and do some ratting, the prospect of using a Zealot for that task was just too appealing. It seemed to me that I had gotten to Heavy Assault Ships all of a sudden, but after a little bit of research, I saw it was just an illusion. Getting a new character to Heavy Assault ships takes a lot of time, a I had just forgotten about how far Aeon has come. You can see how hard it is to get to Heavy Assault Ships by looking at the sole requirements to fly one:

(Race) Frigate IV
(Race) Cruiser V
Engineering V
Mechanic V
Assault Ships IV
Weapon Upgrades V
Spaceship Command V
Heavy Assault Ships I

For one of my throwaway newbie characters, that comes out at about 113 days without training anything else… Meaning you will be able to fly one, but not outfit it correctly. You will still be missing skills for gun turrets, defense systems, power systems and co. It’s a massive undertaking to get there, but then you usually have way too much other stuff to do in the game to really notice 🙂

The question of “was it worth it?” is one you may ask, but it is difficult to give that a straight answer. I did not train specifically for Heavy Assault Ships, but I trained the prerequisites because they are needed for a lot of other ships and make me better at the ships I already use. In that sense, the skills invested will never be lost – especially Engineering, Mechanic, Weapon Upgrades and Spaceship Command. The question should rather be “are heavy assault ships good?”. Well on that matter, I have a few clues already. Being specialized in Amarr ships, I decided to get a Zealot: it has bonuses to armor resistances as well as for medium laser turrets. The alternative, the Sacrilege, is a pure missile gunboat, and Aeon only has 65K skillpoints in missiles… It has a sweet tank, however.

The skill Heavy Assault Ships itself cost 35 Mil ISK, and the Zealot was at 92 million ISK in Rens. With only 32 million in the Syrkos Corporation’s wallet and 10 in Aeon’s pockets I moved my operations back to my mining system to grind some rocks. When it was finally time, I had enough funds to afford both the ship and the skill itself. To avoid paying the horrendously overpriced Rens prices on Amarr ships, I sent Aeon to the Amarr system in the Domain region. There I paid “only” 80 mil for the ship, still effectively emptying my corp’s wallet again 🙂

I had already flown an Omen, the Zealot’s tech 1 cousin, but what strikes you first is that this ship looks a lot more polished. That, and one look at the fitting screen tells you it is indeed a powerhouse. Eager to outfit it, I let Aeon take the 26-jumps route back to my main offices. Once there, I put on a passive armor hardener, some capacitor support modules, four tech 2 medium lasers, undocked, and scanned my home system for complexes. Luckily, there were two, one Angel Cartel base and one drone hive. Great to compare this setup with that of Chawagga, which I usually use for running complexes. Needless to say, it’s like swatting flies with a sledgehammer – it was like pop-pop-pop-wammo 😉

Getting more confident with the use of the ship, I started using it for a few of the easier level 3 missions – and was surprised by the ease with which it cut through everything, from cruisers to tech 2 frigates. That medium lasers bonus really makes a difference. I use a passive armor tank setup, and have fitted a first Capacitor Control Circuit to free one additional low slot previously taken by a Capacitor Power Relay II. Only missions where you get a lot aggression from enemy ships are any trouble, because the tank cannot take it. I mean, I only have one Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II fitted, so it is not a real tank either. I prefer having additional support modules in for more DPS and better frigate handling than stretching things out with a better tank, as least as long as I can afford it. If the mission is too intensive for Dark Horizons, I simply revert to Pax Nemesis III.

I even get the impression that Dark Horizons performs better than the Aeonizer (Amarr Battlecruiser, Harbinger), but I may be wrong. I have not used that ship in quite a while now, and I think I should try it again sometime just to make sure. With only four turret slots, running missions with Dark Horizons is a bit slower than with Pax Nemesis III, but it is more fun 🙂

I’ll post a detailed fitting later on.


Jun 18 2007

Skills distribution 6/2007

EVEMon has a very nice new feature – you can generate pie charts of your skills distribution, a good way to find out what your character is really good at (or not).

These are Aeon and Loreena’s skill distributions respectively:

Aeon’s top 5 areas are (not counting Learning)

» Spaceship Command (2.2 Mil)
» Gunnery (1.5 Mil)
» Navigation (830K)
» Science (820K)
» Industry (550K)

And Loreena’s are

» Spaceship Command (1.8 Mil)
» Industry (1.7 Mil)
» Science (1.2 Mil)
» Gunnery (330K)

…which shows that Loreena is a lot more specialized than Aeon. No wonder either – I play primarily with Aeon, so he’s the one that I try everything with. Loreena is the manufacturer and hauler, so I don’t care if a skill takes a week – I just let it train. She has only 43 skills vs Aeon’s 81, and 19! skills at level 5 vs Aeon’s 14. I really have to specialize Aeon more.

Anyway, giant kudos to the EVEMon team who did and still do a tremendous job!


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 18 2007

Day 216: Back to basics

I have switched back to Crimson Skies (Hurricane) for missions. Somehow it is a lot more fun, also through the fact that it has 6800 shield HP vs the Aeonizer’s (Harbinger) 5900 and thus can take quite a bit more damage. I was worried by the loss of the lasers damage bonus, but never even noticed it. I know it’s a big step backwards to the shocking “lasers on a Hurricane?!” effect, but to hell with it 🙂

I am not entirely pigheaded either, so I replaced one of the Cap Recharger IIs with an active shield hardener to see if that does anything. Okay, it does… to the point that I did not need my shield booster at all. This test made me see in a new light what everybody keeps telling me about specialization, only I still do not like it. Opening the fitting screen before each mission, swapping modules (and drones) for the mission’s damage types… I am too darn lazy for that. It damages the fun of just launching into the adventure without thinking.

Here’s a thought: the fitting screen should be able to store fitting schemes. Four of them should be enough, so that I just have to choose a fitting scheme before I jump into a mission and the modules are swapped automagically. As this probably will not happen tomorrow, the only realistic current solution would be to have one ship for each mission type, and only have to switch ships. On second thought, not realistic. At least not until I have found that steady source of billions of ISK per week.

“So”, I thought to myself. Where to go from here? Back to basics is always a good thing, so I tried to look at the whole picture. My current sub-optimal ship setup gets me through level 2 missions quite easily even disregarding everybody’s insistent counselling. However, I want to try and run some level 3 missions – so I think I will have to start listening before I do that if I want to keep my sorry pod’s hull safe.

In light of all this my current plan looks like this:

  • Continue specializing for battlecruisers (fly what you are good at flying)
  • Skill up in core capacitor and shield skills (an armor tank is much better with a good skill-based shield tank)
  • Skill up to make the most of my lasers (go for medium laser specialization)
  • Start using shield hardeners on Crimson Skies (and prepare for swapping frenzy)
  • Skill up for better drones (I love those buggers)
  • Try out other crystals even if it means less range (compensated by the hardeners)
  • Concentrate on the skills I have

Only when I have that working will I go back to the Aeonizer and put together an armor tank, as that requires quite a few skills I either do not have or only at a low level. Aeon’s skills are scattered enough already, I need to focus on those he has now.

Will I really start being reasonable? Knowing myself a little, this plan can change again in the next few hours for the sake of fun. What I do know is that if I should be able to survive level 3 missions without all the specialization stuff, you can be sure Crimson Skies will be happily frying bogies with lasers!

Loreena to the rescue?

On a sidenote (lol), I realized I never mention Loreena Syrkos’ progress much, but she is starting to be an important vector for my corporation. She is the one who processes all the mission loot (having the Scrapmetal Processing skill) and uses that for manufacturing. Between Aeon’s mining runs and the reprocessed loot, I only have to buy a few materials like Isogen or Nocxium from time to time. The last manufacturing run was 10 Mammoths, and the sales made a welcome contribution to the Syrkos Corporation’s funds 🙂 Just this morning, I started a 20 Mammoths manufacturing run… note me if you want one, special blog reader’s price.

Here is a short summary of her char (vs Aeon in brackets):

Skillpoints: 7.200.000 (7.900.000)
Level V skills: 16 (12)
Level IV skills: 9 (23)
Total skills: 39 (68)
Wealth: 2.000.000
Training: Minmatar Frigate V

The frightening part is that she is closing the skillpoints gap – they were a bit over a million skillpoints apart when I started her char, and she has brought that down to about 700.000 skillpoints. It probably has to do with the fact that I chose her attributes specifically for her tasks, and she only trained skills so far that required those attributes. For the Minmatar Frigate skill she reassuringly takes longer than Aeon.

I want to get her standings up to make manufacturing easier, but even courier-only agents have the odd kill mission here and there – so she is currently training for a frigate to take care of those. Actually, she is 10 days away from an assault frigate like the Jaguar, so that will give me an interesting insight into how those behave in a fight. She will only get the skills she needs for that, so she is the essence of specialization 🙂

Okay, enough chatter. It is waffle time – fresh, hot and covered with Nutella. No standard pilot rations here!