Thursday, March 30, 2017

Taking a break

It's probably no surprise, due to the lack of posts, that I have taken a break. It's never intentional, but I gradually stopped logging in due to busy RL and days go by faster than ever. Before I know it I get emails that some of my accounts have expired and that's yearly subscription too. Anyone who played EVE for extensive time period most likely have faced ups and downs in play time. It's nothing unusual, but it usually means it's time for a change. Most likely once I'm back I will try to find a new corp. I have a wish to visit Fanfest at some point, but playing solo/duo the last few years means there's little connection left to any of the groups. That's the price you pay when playing a lone wolf style, though I was fortunate enough to find a great partner to join me on my endeavors. In any case, it's time to brush the dust off my social skills and find like-minded group. I'm even considering ditching the multiboxing. I've been flying multiple accounts for a very long time and it can get quite stressful.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Finding the treasure

When I stick around I stick around. I kept my fleet in the system where I have spotted a Thanatos. I did not really have intentions of killing a carrier, but was more like waiting for a new connection with potential home. One day, I noticed one of the locals doing logistics. An Occator was jumping in and out from the empire. Since it's a very small probability to catch a deep transport ship and my partner being away, I did not have much of a choice, but to observe. I warped to the station ant noticed it was unanchoring. For a moment I got excited as I saw a timer with only one hour left.

Which then I soon realized it was a useless information. I have no idea when the unanchoring process was initiated, but the timer was showing only vulnerability. In other words, there was not much I could do, but hope to catch someone evacuating a nice ship.

Days were passing by and I haven't seen any activity, which led me to assume the evacuation was done. One day I login to realize an Astrahus and a Fortizar were no longer there. D-scan stayed clean and the system was empty. While orbiting a wormhole I notice neighbors becoming active. I notice an Astero warp to a planet where an Astrahus was. D-scan is empty, so why would they warp there? Following my gut I warp to the old bookmark and find an intriguing sight.

Bunch of containers floating in space, which did not show on my d-scan. I try to grab an Astero at the container, but the pilot manages to pull distance and cloak up before my sensor re-calibration delay is over. No matter. My main intention was to scare him so I could peek in those containers.

I warp from container to container. There is some random loot and t1 ships, but nothing of value. Either locals took what was worth taking or this place has been looted already. Suddenly it hits me. While Astrahus was at the planet, Fortizar was in deep safe and I still have the bookmark. I immediately warp and find a lot of containers floating. I open one of them and oh my...

I don't know why locals did not bother to collect everything, but damn it would be a lie if I told you I didn't get excited. I quickly run through all the containers. Some have shit, some have few ships with random loot. I won't become space rich, but there's definitely stuff worthwhile taking. I inform Trey about my find. Good thing is that containers can't be scanned, so we are not under time pressure. Once we get good connection to the empire with only few jumps out, we proceed with hauling. There's a high-sec via c2 which has 5 connections. We put as many eyes as we could, but of course with that many connections we spot a few scouts from some notable wormhole corps.

Alle Alabel > Mexerolle buzzard
Alle Alabel > from new C4 where glory holers came from
Zosius > mass collapse
Zosius > lets stay put

But with a little bit of luck and patience, we manage to get everything out without any losses. Total loot amounted to 3.5 bil and successfully delivered to Jita.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

When you hope your dreams won't come true

Sometimes I wonder what's my relationship with EVE. More often than not, it feels I'm paying my subs to support CCP rather than for my own enjoyment. It's a clear sign I need some changes and after losing the Nestors fleet it felt like it was time. But then I thought about commitment and got scared. I know many corps promote themselves as real life first, no commitments and so on, but when you are in a corp, you still feel a duty to be a part of it, even at subconscious level. Not to mention that to do anything takes quite a lot of time. At least that's my personal feeling that if you don't have at least 1-2 hours free, you will barely manage to load your screen.

Lately I've been finding myself enjoying couch gaming experience more. There's a Mass Effect 2 promotion at origin where you can get the game for free. It brought back some good memories. Installed a controller support mod and finished the game in a couple of weekends. It was my personal distraction from Witcher 3, the game I hope to finish before retiring.

Meanwhile, I've been keep EVE minimized. After spending a good while in one of the wormholes, I finally found some interesting activity.

A wormhole rolling fleet showed up and collapsed all active connections. It usually means farming is about to take place. I was eagerly waiting to see the ship of choice. Will it be a couple of Rattlesnakes? A Marauder? Perhaps a pimped Tengu? No, they decided to bring "the big guns".

Of all the ships they have to use a bloody carrier. I know there's at least 4 people in the system. Even if it was a solo carrier, not sure I could take it. Maybe with my partner, but even then I don't think we would risk it. I haven't fought a carrier after capital changes. I would love to bring reinforcements, but these guys have collapsed all the connections. Without any options, I launch combat probes to delay their farming activities, which I succeed. Carrier docks and a new wormhole rolling battleship fleet appears. This time, they make connections critical instead of collapsing and resume shooting sleepers and I go back to my couch.

You might think what does the headline have to do with the story? Yesterday I had an interesting dream in which I left one of my Nestors decloaked and it was promptly ganked. It's my biggest fear, as a stealthy hunter, to be with my cloaking device turned off when I think it is on. I had it happen a few times in the past, where I lost my tackle Proteus while orbiting a gate in low-sec, warping to a POS and have guns target me or scaring my prey when landing on grid. In all those situations I could swear I was cloaked up, but reality was different and it was a nasty surprise.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Living with the consequences

Back from holidays, it was time to check what the locals are up to. It's been over 3 weeks since the Golem gank, plenty of time to be forgotten. I poke in a c3 next door and find a Tengu on scan. It's one of the locals, farming the c3 static. Without waiting for less sleepers on the field, I warp my fleet to the wormhole and tackle the strategic cruiser. Timing is of the essence. If I get spotted by anyone I might come out empty handed, so I must initiate before the fleet lands.

Once I get my claws on, there's no escaping. Scram, web, disruptor, the Tengu is tackled as it can be. Soon the Nestors land and I get my first kill of 2017.

Of course a 1/3rd ships worth module doesn't drop, but that's hardly something to be upset about. I warp back the fleet to the wormhole and see pod land at the same time. If this guy was not sure where I came from, he probably knows now. You don't see the Nestors fleet all that often. There's little point in staying in this system for much longer and probably will move out at the next opportunity once Trey is back.

Continuing observing the system, I spot a Raven doing c4 anomalies. That's right, a t1 battleship doing class 4 wormhole sites. How? By shooting missiles from 100km+ distance while aligned to the station.

A t1 battleship is hardly an appealing target when I know those stations are housing ten times more expensive ships. Furthermore, the dude is aligned and you can bet your ass he is paying attention.

The next day, me and Trey both login. Trey reports some activity, ships jumping in and out. Our attention is caught by a Nighthawk. He goes to a c3, returns and goes back again. If I didn't know any better, I'm sure he is doing sites there. We agree that Trey will stay with the Legion on the wormhole while I go in and try to scare him away. We don't want to park our fleet on the wormhole as it is in range to the Astrahus. Our idea is to catch the advanced battlecruiser on it's return.

I go in, launch probes and as expected, soon Nighthawk disappears from d-scan and is on his way to c4 home. He goes in where Trey is waiting for him. Unfortunately, Trey is 3km from the wormhole and the Nighthawk appears 16km away. Probably the worst luck when it comes to position. The target warps off once Legion is almost within scram range. We discuss that next time we will switch the roles and keep my Proteus on the exit instead. There's not much we can do anymore. Locals have seen us twice already, so naturally the smart thing to do is to find another system. But for some reason we don't do that. We still want to get "One last kill" before we leave. Have we killed that Nighthawk, we would be on our way, but now it just felt the job half finished.

Preparation is key

Time goes by and midnight approaches in EU timezone. Locals appear to be US timezone and system is getting active. All of a sudden Trey reports a Golem on scan. A Marauder is sitting at the station. Not even a few hours have passed and you are telling me there's a Marauder prepared to do sites? Yeah, right. We see the Golem floating at the station for awhile. Do they expect us to go for it? We don't pay much attention and let them do whatever they are doing. Trey goes afk once in awhile and I too have EVE minimized. Golem is no longer at the station. We have eyes parked on the wormholes, so we know he did not leave the system. There are no anomalies inside so he must have docked.

Some more time passes and Trey again reports the Golem at the station. This time it warps to a relic site. I decide to follow and see what's up. I watch Golem land on his mobile tractor unit with the site already finished. I get surprised. Turns out we missed the initial warp off. The relic is the only site left in the system. Me and Trey discussed our situation earlier. We did the background research and evaluated that locals can field around 10 man fleets. We have seen some Vindicators, Megathrons, but mostly it was kitchen sink type of fleets. The pilot - RedHand is often seen on killmails with a Marauder. We think that if we go in organized, we can take on the fleet. If we go in organized.

But reality was that there was a Golem at an empty site, presumably picking up his mtu. With some excitement mixed in, I make a snap decission. I shout on comms that I go for the Golem before he warps off. I decloak and tackle the ship.

Now here is how organized would have looked: our fleet would be mid warp and almost landing when I made my move. Instead, I tackle and proceed decloaking my battleships at the safespot and trying to warp them off, realizing, that I'm not even squad commander. Set Zosius as squad commander and fleet warp again. Realize two of my Nestors are not in the watch-list as eve clients went not responding and crashed  recently. Add to watchlist. The warp is 35 AU. Blackhole also means ships align two times slower. After what feels as eternity, the fleet finally lands. I proceed as usual and set Golem as the primary. Shortly after, enemy fleet lands and the fight starts. On our side we have 6 Nestors and an Armageddon. That's over 4000 dps with a shitload of neuts. Plan is to pop the Golem and deal with the rest. We have bunch of cruisers on grid. Once Golem goes down, they will pop in no time. Except the Golem does not go down.

I start to realize this won't be as straightforward as expected. Golem tanks like a beast, totally beyond my expectations1. Suddenly I notice my Armageddon is in half armor. I put all reps on it, try to overheat, but I notice too late and the ship pops. We keep the pressure on the Golem as it goes to 20% structure, but always manages to replenish the shield. We still have plenty of neuts, but his tank is not giving in. After few more Nestors pop and chain destroyed, the outcome was clear. By some miracle I manage to burn the Proteus out of bubble and warp to safety. I call random cruisers as targets to kill at least something. For me and Trey, each multiboxing multiple ships is too much chaos. To keep repairs, cap transfer, cap boosters, lock targets and to do that on 5 accounts under big dps pressure is beyond my capabilities.

Have we prepared mentally, prewarped fleet, set drone assists on one ship and called targets correctly instead focusing on the most tanky ship, this fight could have taken a different turn. But as always, the good ideas come when it's too late. It was a good reminder for us not to rush things. We should stick to some discipline and treat every gank as a potential pvp fight. Even when we knew the Golem was a bait, I let the excitement get better of me and attack without proper preparations and paid the price.

Congratulations to Apotheosis. for outstanding fight. I applaud their bravery of putting a shiny Golem on the line while having their fleet on logoff. A bait worthy of Nestors fleet.

1) According to Golem pilot, he was with Crystal set and on his last cap booster when we switched targets.

Here's the video of the fight. Courtesy of Apotheosis.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Receiving Christmas present in advance

The year end is approaching and you can feel everyone is getting into a holiday mood. Me and Trey did quite a break. We were both unsure what should we do in EVE, but in the end decide to continue afk stalking with a little bit more afk. I move to a c4 and invite Trey to join me. The new wormhole is full of potential. Just this month, locals have already lost two Marauders to sleepers. System is clean of anomalies and only have several signatures. The downside is different timezones, but I'm patient. I'm sure I will get my chance.

Things are a little quiet during the first days. I only see one or two people logged in the citadel and occasional scouts checking the neighboring systems. Finally one evening I spot a Rattlesnake undock and warp to a data site.

I patiently wait for him to clear the waves. Every time I attack, sleepers turn their weapons on me and while I can usually tank, a c4 site can dish out a lot of pain, which can be hard to manage when you multibox 5 ships in a pvp. Why have it hard when you can have it easy with a little bit of patience? I wait for him to clear the 2nd wave and hope to make my move when there are only one or two sleepers left on grid. I also need to time my moment right. The Rattlesnake is aligned to the station so there is a good chance he will enter warp before I can lock him.

After watching the battleship for awhile, I start to suspect that he is aligned not because he is staying vigilant, but because he can't tank the bloody site. He warps back to the station and comes back. I have no problem with that, except the third time he warps back to the station, he never comes back. I watch the station pilot counter drop to 0 and stay that way for awhile. It's late in the evening and I need to call it a day. Sometimes patience has two sides of the stick and you don't always end up with a kill.

Welcome to EVE

Occasionally I would scout surrounding systems. Sometimes I would be too lazy and sometimes I would poke in and see who is living next door. On one such trips I find core scanner probes on d-scan and an Imicus named after his pilot. Looking up identity, I find the pilot is only a week old. Must be one of those alpha clones. I'm happy with all the new players coming in and even more happy to see them venturing inside the wormholes, but that usually means they will not carry anything of value. I sometimes ignore them, but sometimes I do scan them out. I feel like shooting somebody, so without hiding, I launch combats in plain sight, scan the Imicus and warp to 0. I find the ship in the middle of nowhere. Time to say "hi". It doesn't take long for my small smartbombs to pop him. Expecting to see a 2 million killmail, I get quite a surprise.

A 70 million worth of kill. This guy have hoarded quite a lot of loot during his exploration. And now he lost everything. I get a convo request and get asked for at least half the money as it was "everything" he had. I would imagine it was quite a lot of money for him and since he asked nicely I transfer him the half. Of course I could have sent everything back, because of "awww, a cute newbie", but what good would that do? He needs a small reminder that you can't relax in a wormhole space and need to develop a habit of checking d-scan. I was not particularly stealthy and it did take a long time to pinpoint his position.

Early Christmas

Me and Trey were patiently waiting for targets in our new c4 system. Unfortunately, it's always quiet until I go to sleep, but then the very next day, system would be absent of anomalies again. As I have a job and live in a different timezone, I can only hope that one day our schedules to play EVE will collide. To make matters worse, I would wake up to read the following message in the morning:

Rifter Paladin -
Ѯetty Amarr Control Tower -
J130343 - Meme Come True Fortizar 176,473 km
Notice anything? Yep, Trey would spot a Paladin doing sites and send a screenshot of it. Unfortunately, he is not equipped to take it solo. It makes me sad and excited at the same time. Sad because I was in a deep sleep at the time and excited as I know locals use more expensive ships than just a Rattlesnake to do sites. However, days were going by and it soon was time for me to leave on my vacation. I jokingly say that it would be nice to score a kill before going away. On the last day, in the evening, I receive a ping:
Trey, [16.12.16 20:11]
paladin in spcae....
Zosius, [16.12.16 20:12]
Fuck, be in 10
I couldn't believe what I've read. Overly excited I've scrambled to get online as soon as possible. I begged to Bob that Trey did not disconnect with the Paladin on grid. Once on, we started looking for the mystical Marauder. System had 0 anomalies and the Paladin was last seen 4AU from one of the c4 wormholes. At the time, we had a c3 and two c4 connections. Since c4 k162 was within 4AU range, we assume that's the wormhole he went in. We get the fleet ready and I jump in to scout. The system is huge, but flying back and forth, there's no trace of the Marauder. I then proceed scanning. It was a shattered wormhole, full of anomalies. If the Paladin went to farm the sites, why would he not do them in this system? It made little sense. I've resolved multiple connections and proceeded checking them out, finding no activity. We started to theorize if the guy was just moving his ship out. We were so confident that this was the wormhole the Paladin went to, but I couldn't help but feel an itch to check the c4 static. Maybe, just maybe, we are in the wrong system.

I jump in. So far nothing on d-scan. The wormhole is 40AU in size. I warp to the outer edge and behold. A Paladin and sleeper wrecks on scan! We discuss on the action plan. It will take awhile for the battleships to land on grid, so if we are not careful, my Proteus might have hard time tanking if there are a lot of sleepers. At the same time, we can't wait on the wormhole as someone from his corp might spot us. We decide to go for him at the site. We wait while there are 3 sleepers left and warp the fleet to the wormhole. I park the Proteus 7km off. A risky move to get decloaked, but it's an insurance policy. If I see the Paladin pickup velocity, I would immediately decloak and try to tackle him. Otherwise, I will only make my move when the fleet is half way in warp.

Everything goes without a hitch. The Nestors go in warp, I decloak and lock the Marauder.

Once the fleet lands I start my usual procedure. Lock with each ship, launch the drones and activate the neutralizers. By the time I do these steps with the last ship, usually heavy drones are already working hard at destroying the target's defenses. I hear a smartbomb go off, which sounds more like a dire scream for help. Grabbing a straw in hopes it will make the difference, but heavy neutralizers quickly sucks all the hope out. The Paladin breaks so fast that Trey does not even manage to lock it with his Bhaalgorn. I lookup the kill and feel my breathing intensify.

I can't tell how much I was looking forward to this kill. After finding a Rattlesnake after Rattlesnake, after killing rolling battleships, it's so refreshing to hunt down a shiny Marauder once in awhile. What a great Christmas present from Bob. I'm forever grateful.

I would like to use this opportunity and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let your guns stay hot during the cold winter and don't forget to share the ammo presents with your enemies. I will see you next year!