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!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Will never let you go

When I choose a place I never know when my targets will appear. Sometimes I end up just sitting in one system for way too long. How does one know when it's been too long? When your targets gets evicted, that's when.

Odin's call noticed an opportunity and bashed all the towers for some loot pinata. Look at those Bhaalgorns. Imagining having them their way with my Nestors sends the shiver down my spine. Even locals made an effort to log in.

After a few days, system was empty again, except besides absent of ships, now it was absent of any active towers. Time to scan the system and find a new home. I rumble like an old man and get to work. Jumping to one of the systems, I get pleasantly surprised.

A Tengu and sleeper wrecks on scan. Having in mind that it's a c4 wormhole, I get excited. A strategic cruiser being able to do sleeper sites in this kind of system is bound to have some shinies on it. I quickly resolve the anomaly and wait for my moment. It's a bit tricky to get a good warp in position. Tengu is orbiting with 1k ms speed and big range. But besides a small challenge, there's nothing more to it. I finally manage to intercept the Tengu.

The pilot screams to let him go. I don't know why people do that. Has it ever worked for anyone? What do they expect to happen? "Oh sorry, didn't mean it, buddy. There, you are free to go"? When verbal ecm fails, I get called a scum. How dare I attack a ship.

The Tengu pops and I collect a cool 500mil for my troubles.

Ain't that a nice find.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Not all mobile tractor units were created equal

After our adventures with drunk Russians, me and Trey left for high-sec. You know when sometimes there's a voice that speaks to you? I haven't been in the empire for a long time and it usually is just for a short time. This particular time, there was a deep urge to do something in high-sec. Anything. Might have something to do with nostalgia to my past shenanigans. Without thinking much I've opened the zkillboard and searched for mtu kills. I don't know why, I just did it. It didn't take long for me to notice a pattern. A certain individual had unexplained hard-on for mtu kills.

Almost daily, like clockwork, he would kill mtus left and right. Ship of choice? Non other than a Machariel. While most people use a t1 cruiser or a t3 destroyer, this guy was using a faction battleship. No messing around, His prime-time matched ours and I just knew this was it. I suggested Trey we try and bait this guy. After all, I know a thing or two about this kind. We went to the nearest hub, bought a new shiny mobile tractor unit and proceeded to the system. The plan was simple. Find the guy in the system, drop mtu, park cloaked Proteus 5km away and wait for the Machariel to appear. I do just that.

We theorized a little bit what would happen if the guy actually had a lot of neutral alts or other corps supporting him. A not unusual thing for the high-sec baiters, but the killboard intel did not show anything to be concerned about. I drop an mtu, keep eyes on the station with probes ready to get Machariel's ship signature once he undocks. There are also other combat probes present in the system and I am confident those are the probes of our target, since narrowing down d-scan I saw them towards my mobile tractor unit.

After waiting several minutes. the Machariel undocks. Without wasting any time he warps to the mobile tractor unit and I follow. I land 5km away, just in time to see the faction battleship charge in with guns blazing against the defenseless structure. The velocity concerned me as it was almost twice as fast as my Proteus, but he did not see the need to orbit the mobile tractor unit. Big mistake. I decloak, activate sensor booster and lock the battleship in just seconds.

Once tackled, I order the fleet, sitting next door, to jump in and warp at best speed. Fight is not over yet. I can get neuted and lose the scrambler and it would take one mwd pulse for the Machariel to create distance. But thanks to Nestors fast align time and an extra warp speed rig, the fleet lands before Machariel can do anything. Ship goes down and oh boy:

If you were looking for a proper fit against mtus, look no further. The loot fairy generously drops most of the faction loot. I have had a straight forward, according the plan, baits before, but this probably takes the cake. It would be quite difficult to be more predictable. I am surprised this guy haven't lost a ship in such a long time, but I was happy to remind him high-sec is not as safe place and you can't relax, even while shooting the defenseless mobile tractor units. 

Few days later, I receive a follow up email.

What a surprise, the day following the kill, there were no mtu kills. After I explained, that this was purely an opportunistic bait kill, with no grudges involved from anyone, Gandsky was back to his old habits. Good for him that there's nobody else to take the advantage of his predictability. Wink, wink.