Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Pilgrimage

"There's an Apoc and Rokh doing sites" - first words I hear when I join team speak. Seems again we got a null connection to some ratter space. I don't like null that much. Usually, if I see some ships on scan I don't expect them to find anywhere else than the pos. Majority of ratters initiate warp before I get my screen loaded when entering system. But not everyone is like that. Meet Suppenschuessel and Garv Bowb, your not so average nullsec ratters, who don't give 2 shits about local. They don't seem to mind our corpmate sitting in the system for the past 15 minutes. After all, those anomalies won't do themselves. When asked to fit a ship for a ratter gank I always do it half assed as I don't expect to arrive before it's too late, but this seems will be an exception.

The exception

As local is not that empty, with 15+ people, we decide to throw together at least something resembling a fleet, just in case something would escalate. Often enough someone cries for help and corpmates blindly warp in for support without giving a second thought, like that time. We get ready on the wormhole while I jump in my tackle proteus and warp straight on top of them. Before they know it, both are pointed and fleet goes in. Now, it's not so rare for ratters to carry MJD, which is a real pain in the ass as I only have one scram fitted and a point. Worst part is, you can't bump them out of alignment, but luck seems to be on our side this time and both ships are quickly converted to wreckage. What a perfect way to start the weekend. Wouldn't you agree?

First gank on the house

Time to time I talk about my pilgrimage, "solo" trips to the unknown. I normally do it during periods when corp is quiet or I am not able to play much, which happens to be the weekend most of the time. I scan around, looking for a suitable wormhole and it doesn't take me long to find J122118, a system that I fall in love with at first sight.

It checks all the points for a perfect system, you name it:
✓ Frequent NPC kills (a lot of potential of gank);
✓ Ship kills/losses (good for losses, bad for kills);
✓ Large system (good place to hide from dscan);
✓ Average/small size corp (low risk to get ganked).

I map the towers, check around and get settled. Now it's time to play the waiting game. Shortly after, on scan I see some pilots logging in and/or changing ships. I wonder what will they do? There are no anomalies and no signatures to shoot at home. These guys are keeping place tidy. Regardless, I see pilots swap for Prophecy and Gila and warp away, to the direction of what looks like a C1 wormhole. Bloody hell, C1 is too small to bring my Dominixes, but worry not, I am the man with a plan.

I quickly react, which means me warping dominixes on the wormhole while jumping in with my proteus to flush them out. There are 2 things that wormhole residents are scared of when plexing. One being alien ships on scan and the other - combat probes. Have it both and the alarm bell will go nuts, which is exactly what I do. Decloak, launch probes, light a cigar and wait while comfortably sitting in my chair. It probably takes around 15 seconds and I see both ships landing on grid.

Excellent, everything's happened probably within 2-3 minutes timeframe. At least one ship should be polarized enough time for me to kill it and I am only after Gila anyway, with Prophecy being as a bonus. Both pilots jump. First to decloak is Gila. I get weapons hot, lock it and tackle. Or so I thought. Turns out it was just outside the scram range (me orbiting wh at 2.5km and Gila thrown out on the far side), so instead of scramming I only web him, which conveniently decreases his align time by half and he happily warps away. I can't believe it, such a rookie mistake. Well there's still Prophecy, who is holding cloak, but drops it after seeing Gila warp away. Perhaps he thinks I lock so slowly that he has a chance. This time I put my point with scram and web. He is not going anywhere! ...and quickly gets popped. Feeling a bit bitter about missed Gila kill, I decide to stick around and wait for the next day.

So long, and thanks for all the loot

I am happy. After logging in the system I see quite a lot of activity going on. Seems I came just in the middle of plexing as I see wrecks on scan. I find the anomaly and see wrecks with still few sleepers present. That is not a good sign. Unfinished site most of the time means one of 2 things: emergency warp out due to possible gank or emergency warp out due to lack of tank. I do not know what might have happened here, but with HS and C1 static there might be quite a lot of traffic. I check the tower and, to my pleasant surprise, I see Gila and Navy Harbinger sitting at the pos, piloted. 

Let's see what they are up to. Not even 10 minutes of waiting I see both of them warping to the unfinished site. I, of course, follow, make spot and get ready. Due to the large system and BS warping slow and also afraid of ECM drones I play it a bit risky and decide to go all in. Align, decloak and initiate warp with domies and only then, after a couple of seconds, I warp in with proteus. Cloak dropped, I land right on top on Gila with Harbinger being not far out. This time I tackle them both with my domies landing in a few seconds. Secondary points are done, drones are out and I start grinding the armor. To manage all of this for a solo guy takes a bit of effort, but once everything is set in motion, there's no stopping. Soon my eyes are pleased by explosions of both ships

Looks like I've hit a jackpot. A jackpot for a BC hull that is as Harbinger was over 700m worth, packing some shiny modules. All would be well except for a god damn tractor unit snatching all the loot and forcing me to kill it to claim the prize. Fortunately 2 adaptive membranes survive second explosion and this time I loot it for good. Align back to high sec and warp out. It was a good day. Another sacrifice for Bob. If it was not for Gila warping out, I might have left the first day, but as always, I know a sign from Bob when I see one. Props to the pilots who took the loss well and congratulated me on my gank Now thats what I call a sportsmanship!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind

The good thing about EvE is that you never know what is coming. The potential of loss is just so great. One day you are earning isk plexing, the other day you get ganked with damage done over 30bil. There are several corps that specializes in plex ganking. It's quite amazing. One of notable corps that do this is Blood Union. I especially liked the video with adhocracy fighting off BU gank. Go check it out if you haven't seen it, it's not new, but it is some beautiful stuff. Anyhow, today's topic is not about losing a plexing fleet. We didn't, yet. It's about small gang pvp and ganks.


It was quite a boring day. Not much going on. You keep scouting and scanning, with hope that you will find something. It can become boring quite fast and I am sure any WH dweller, that has been looking for targets, will understand me. It's not like empire. You do not have local. You never know who is there. For all you know it, that next wormhole might have huge activity. No? Well the next one probably has some active ships in it. Still No? I'm sure a couple more wormholes will net you some results. Still no? Keep trying, I can feel something will happen. Ah, fuck it. Let's roll the static. WH day life can easily get into your mind. What does one do when bored? Some go afk and some, like me, do stupid shit.

But all it takes is one shout on teamspeak and everyone wakes up. "Ships on scan" I suddenly hear. It's like a bliss to my ears. I need a couple of seconds to wake up and understand what is going on. Turns out, we got connection to some active WH. Now, being a small corp, you always need to know what you are up against. You don't just blindly jump in and hope for the best. Well sometimes you do, but most likely you check out the pilot and the corp. In this case it's Blue-Fire. We had some experience with them before. It's quite an active WH corp that can field fleets similar to our size. We get ready.

The gank, when you are ahead

We get the fleet going. Meanwhile ,I jump in my scout/tackle proteus to look around. It's always best to know what's happening first hand. Quick flight around the system does not show many ships on dscan. At first glance system looks rather empty. Perhaps it's not their prime time, but you can never know. Perhaps fleet is somewhere else. Doesn't matter. We got our fleet ready and are ready to fight.

Proteus is strangely on the wormhole, jumps to our static and hugs the exit. Maybe waiting for me to go out. He feels confident. Too confident, but thats what we want. We warp in one proteus for a short 1 on 1 shootout while I decloak and wait on the other side. After changing ammo for awhile proteus does not seem to jump back and there's no big fleet coming to get our solo proteus, apart from loki landing on the wormhole. It's as good opportunity as we will get. Fleet jumps in and initiates warp, promptly scaring proteus which jumps back home. Feeling what is coming, both pilots try to burn out. I scram and web proteus and point loki, who quickly uses afterburner to get out of range before the rest of the gang lands. Fast forward a minute and we have a nice proteus kill.

Pilot throws a "good bait" comment in local. That is quite strange. Having me waiting on one side and another proteus shooting on the other side, is very weird bait if you asked me.

The gank, when you are behind

Most fleet logs out for the day and just a couple of guys are left. We jump into our cloaky doctrine and decide to do a little bit more scouting before sleep. Sure enough, suddenly there's another proteus on scan, sitting on the wormhole a jump out. Obvious bait? Probably, but we are cloaky so we feel a bit confident with our gtfo ability. 

We start engaging it, armor goes down and all looks well, apart from a small detail.  Dscan shows a bunch of ships with the same name tag. Well, that sux, but not unexpected. I order fleet, who is not tackled, to warp out and who is tackled, to jump out asap.  Everything goes as planned and everyone warps clear apart from the guy that was initially tackled. Unfortunately, turns out, that not all of us were cloaky and poor bastard that got tackled was without it. He joined TS and missed out cloaky part of a Cloaky Proteus. That's some bad luck.

Bob always gives and takes away. He is like a father to his children. One day he hands out candies to you and another day, he hands them out to others. Candies being you or someone else. However, Bob likes the bold and sacrifices. In the end, faith is always rewarded. Or that is what I believe.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In pirates I trust

It was time to get back home. Nice low sec connection with just several jumps from high sec was going to make it rather easy and fast. Lowsec is usually an interesting place, full of pirates and blood thirsty people that will go out of their way to get you. Nevertheless, for me it feels like home. I feel less anxious when flying in low sec, than high sec.

Traveling through low sec

I jump through to the first LS system and immediately notice few guys in local with their suspect timers. Not too many people in local, about 5 or 6, but blinky status means some sort of hostile activity recently took place. Interesting. I do a background check and it turns out some small russian corp, shooting helpless travelers. Next jump shows a bit more scary local, with 12+ people, but all from different corps, none from the russian corp though. I have no idea if these guys have some sort of positive standings and if I should expect more trouble than  from one corp, but it doesn't matter. I want to have some fun.

I stick around, fly a bit. See random proteus and an abbadon on scan. Looks like they docked up to station again. I also see a falcon and an arazu lighting cyno for a carrier. All guys from the same corp. Still, that's only 5 people. And they can't drop a carrier in the same system. I decide to go for it. Land with my domies on the gate, stick around and give their scout enough time to notice me on the gate. After a minute there's still no activity. I think I should not have warped all my ships at the same time. It might look a bit too much to chew. Anyway, as getting home was my original plan so I jump through and proceed traveling to the end system, my WH exit.

Travel seems to go without any issues. Even with such slow warps for battleships I manage to get to the last system safe and sound. I leave my scout behind to scan the system, perhaps to find some targets for later shooting. As soon as my domies jump to connecting null and warps home I see 2 hostile ships land, with flashy characters that are from the corp I was trying to "bait". I guess they woke up a bit too late and tried to catch up with me. Well, that was unexpected. Had I known I would have waited to give them a proper welcome, but the game is not over yet.

Have a pirate to catch a pirate

Seeing as I "escaped", pirates do not stick around too much and go back to their home system. Meanwhile I send out a ping to whoever is on and gather the fleet. This could escalate nicely. Since they had few ships and a carrier, this might get interesting. I get my scout back to first LS system and watch, with hope to see an active camp or some gate action, while fleet still waits on the wormhole. After a little bit of waiting, nothing happens, so I decide to take this to the next level. I order fleet to jump and we go towards that lowsec system.

Fortunately there are 2 "side systems" which are empty that we can use in order to "hide" from local. However, we must pass the "active" system with 12+ local. We try to be as fast as we can and hope that we do not get reported into some joint local intel channel. We get to one of the empty systems and start camping the gate while I proceed and jump in with my proteus to do some fishing.

Now as an ex pirate, I think I have a good feeling what to expect. Pirates won't engage me in a "fair" fight, so they have to be confident that they can kill me or atleast be able to get out if things go south. I come to system and go straight for high sec, don't mind me, just doing casual business traveling. Take out my alt out of system as he has been there too long and probably became "too suspicious". Local is clean. In a couple of minutes, I come back with my proteus, linger on the high sec gate and jump in. Unfortunately noone is there to greet me. Perhaps I was too fast as I see a proteus undock and an abaddon on scan. I warp to station to see whats up. Sure enough I see the ship standing on station. Meanwhile I see their scouts jumping in and out to the system with a lot of neutrals. Surely they are checking for a backup fleet or something. I keep ordering my fleet to warp between two systems as I have no idea whether they will decide to check our system and if so, from where.

Meanwhile abbadon proceeds to engage me. Game is on! I guess they feel quite confident about me now. Time to get this party started. I dock and undock, to see abbadon 300km away losing sentry aggro. I quickly use this time to "escape" and warp to the gate where I saw their proteus. Sure enough, when I land I see it, at least 10km from the gate, now together with the loki. This is it, I get my weapons hot and get tackled before I tackle him back. I order my fleet to jump and warp to me. Unfortunately, local spike is noticed and loki gets away, while proteus stays scrammed and webbed. Soon fleet lands and we make a short order of the ship.

Seems loot fairy was not in the mood today, but we take what we get. In the end, a kill is a kill . It did not escalate as I have hoped for and perhaps sending only second tackle first, before jumping all the fleet in, would have netted us also a loki kill, but hunt is a success and t3 is always a nice prize to have.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fooling around in W-space

Here's a question for you. What gets a wormholer excited? The answer - a dscan showing ships with no pos in range. This usually means that stuff is happening. The beauty of w-space, it's hit or miss. Few seconds too late and you might think system is abandoned. Few seconds too early and you might see someone jumping out of the wormhole you were just about to go in.. General rule of thumb is, that everyone flies some sort of cloaky ship. Exception is for industrials and ships that actually do pvp/pve. That means, if you see a ship, not cloaked, on dscan with no wrecks, you can be pretty damn sure there's a fleet somewhere nearby

Exciting travels

I was heading back home, after my failed hunt. The problem is always to get as close connection to home as possible. It didn't take long for me to find a HS exit, however as we did not have a good entrance, I decided to look around. Usually HS connections can provide a lot of targets so I launch my probes and right away I find a c3. A c3 with end of life. Normally I stay away from eol wormholes, because if you find targets, wait for fleet to come and etc, it might collapse. However, since it was just me I decided to go for it. Also, I neglected to mention, but during my hunt I semi afk camped wh of 16 hours lifespan, that was eol for 5 hours. So I do not care about eol as much. I pack my bags and hop in.

When in, right away I notice some activity. Transport ships keep appearing and disappearing. Great, I thought, logistics op is on! All would be nice except I also see a phobos, heavy interdictor.

Heavy dictor is not really a definition of stealth. Something is up and that can only mean one of two things. He is hunting industrials or protecting them and as seeing industrials still appear and disappear I would guess it's the latter. I decide not to be stealthy either as it's obvious I need to scan other wormholes to find what's going on. Few sigs make it easy and before I know it I got all the wormholes mapped. One of them being c5 (always a bad sign as c5/c6 equals medium+ fleets) and the other, as you could guess, is a high sec. Upon landing I see phobos sitting. Checking player reveals that it's a pilot from Sky Figters. Blah. I mentioned in one of my posts my encounter with them. It's quite an active WH corp and they usually have fleets that are far too much of a match for my domi fleet. Regardless, I decide to go and fool around. It's a healthy highsec after all, what's the worst could happen?

The worst could happen:
1. I land on the buble, get scram webbed and lose at least one ship. Having in mind how BS now warp slowly, I might lose all 3 of them
2. My eol connection collapses and I get stranded, with their scout seeing that and using opportunity to decloak me and rape all ships.
3. I get disconnected when engaging (not so uncommon) and log back in to find myself at the station in my pods.

The best could happen:
1. I get to kill polarized ship. Anything from useless hauler to shiny t3.

Clearly pros outweights cons so I decide to go for it. Jump in my domies, move and cloak up. Oh look, what a coincidence, a bubble goes up. Guess who has been actively watching dscan. Anyway, I decide to wait out a bit and let their mates comeback for the bubble to go down. After a couple of minutes bubble goes down. I quickly decloak and initiate warp. Wait a little and decloak my proteus. Lets get some action!

Before my domies land, I check dscan and oh boy. There has been a special fleet waiting for me, which did not waste time and was in warp before i landed. Bubble goes up, but unfortunately for them, not before I entered warp. I land with my ships on WH and think for a second what should I do.

I get immediately demotivated when I see 2 guardians on dscan. There's no way I can break tank with them on the field. I could play with the rest of the fleet, but at this point, it would be turkey shoot as I could not do much. Maybe even fuck up and let them bump one of my ships out of jumping range. I decide to bail. Not before some smack talk of course!

Smack talk is just smack. I don't really mean it what I say. In the end, I can't blame them. You never know what's waiting on the other side. In fact, respect for them getting a mediocre fleet (assuming no backup waiting). If it was not just me a lone, I for sure, would have given a fight.  Would I have brought guardians after seeing a proteus and a few dominixes on scan? You bet your ass I would have. Too bad, once you have a fleet it's rare to have a fight where one side does not overpower another. However, once you do, the experience is amazing. All that scouting and searching, sometimes leads to the best fights. Though I still prefer to gank a helpless ship. Ruining someone's day just makes me sleep better. I can't help it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stalking in wormholes

Don't you just love when there's no local to give away your position? That is why I love wormholes. Cloaking device is your best friend, never leave home without it! So happened that weekend was approaching and fate would have it that I got connection 7 jumps away from my russian friend's home system. Perfect opportunity to stalk some people as weekends are usually quiet in my corp and not much going on. So I packed my things and went out. Sure enough, next day my friend logs back in, in a brand new Golem. Well, this will be easy I thought. I get my ships ready and wait. And waited I have, from morning to downtime. Something aint right. The guy usually works like a swiss clock, cleaning his system from sleepers as soon as new anomaly spawns.

The game of patience

I am not the one to give up so easily. So I do my stuff, check the dscan once in awhile and before I know it, day is over. New day, new possibilities, right? Wrong. Turns out, Sunday wouldn't be any better. The guy logs in, does his stuff, sits at tower and nothing happens.

So close, yet so far... What the hell is going on? There are 3 anomalies that have been there for 2 days already. If I didn't know any better, I would say the guy had me watchlisted or can smell me in space, besides me being cloaked up. That would make sense, except I have not been stalking for a couple of weeks now and I was very careful not to be seen when moved in. Anyway, nothing happens next day either. Weekend has come to an end, and I realized I have been awfully unproductive in EvE, but maybe that's a good thing. I call it a day and go to sleep.

All cards on the table

Workdays suck. And not because I wouldn't like my job, but because my playtime is very limited and stalking usually requires time and availability. I don't expect much to happen and plan my way out. All story repeats itself, like a Deja Vu. I log in too early and sites are done when i'm at work. To make it worse, my brother, who has been keeping tabs on the guy, sends me below pic during my work day.

That little bastard, isn't he? And I'm not talking about the Golem pilot. All that shiny loot for grabs and I can't do anything about it but feel irritated. I can't say I'm surprised. I know this happens, but another thing is between knowing and seeing.  I shrug it off and continue with my day. To be honest, I like the challenge. It's clear that the guy is not clueless about EvE and even more so, he doesn't like to lose his ship. Well, let's see if we can do anything about it.

Next morning, to my surprise, I see wrecks on dscan. Am I late? Discovery scanner says no as there are still some anomalies left. Unfortunately the pilots finish salvaging and logs off. That's quite the surprise, given there are still some sites to do. The guy is obviously psychic and can feel my presence. I try one last trick. The ol' log off trick that is. I wait patiently and after some time log in my scout and I can't believe my eyes. The bloody Golem is at the damn site. I quickly make 200km bookmark and log in my domi fleet. Everything aligned and ready to warp, when suddenly... anomaly is empty with wrecks left alone. Quick dscan look shows Golem's back at the pos and logs out. Even though I was outside dscan range, it's quite obvious and I got the message. The guy is not getting caught easily and is aware of my presence. Can't be more obvious than that. Well. actually you can. Shortly afterwards my scout receives below email.

Let me rephrase that. It says: fuck you, you are not catching me. Well, good for him. I salute his vigilance. It was a good hunt, even if in the end I was left empty handed. I still had few tricks up my sleeve, but as our timezones do not match and I have little time availability, I decided to cut my "losses" and move out. Sometimes, it's important to know when to walk away.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trading into the riches, Part 2

In my one of my previous posts I talked how I started with my trading career. The hell road of standing grinding I had to pass as also reaching my first milestone of earning 100bil in profit, after which my perception about trading changed

Love and hate relationship

I hate trading. It's boring as hell. But I also love it, as it's that good isk/hour activity. To be more precise, I hate the part where you update your orders. Unfortunately, not like in real life, you can only market yourself by price. You don't have a brand, a quality or anything else that could distinguish your merchandise from the competition. Lowest price is the only way to be "noticed". There are many strategies how one can market pvp. Most common ones are so called 0.01 isking or camping, meaning you attend your orders and update frequently to ensure you are always on top. Others update orders more rarely and compete by undercutting heavy and selling at low margins. Besides these two common ways of trading, there are a lot of extra things you can do for advantage, such as select location/items to have less competition, speculation and market manipulation, supply specific needs of alliances/corps and etc.

You probably won't hear anything new, but that's how market is. Everyone has to find their style. While on my way to reach 100bil goal, I did update market constantly. That was 1-2 hours a day. I was still rather small, but I found that it was necessary for me to spend 1.5h average a day to keep daily profits within 600-1000mil range. If I missed a day, it suddenly dropped to 200mil and decreased afterwards.  Now. for an average eve player. spending 1-2 hours a day is nothing. For me it seemed like eternity. I suddenly realized I was not enjoying the activity and it became a part time job after my real job. 100bil goal was keeping me on and focused, but after I reached it, I did not see the point.

There's one thing when you earn real life money and another when it's pixel money.  I do enjoying competitive games. I rarely can play "for fun". Every time I play I will try to beat the shit out of my opponents. It started with the old days when starcraft and counter-strike were the games most played. Now, EvE being my latest fix, I was using same approach, which burned me out as in mmo it is everyone vs everyone and it's very hard to measure your success. You can, of course, compare your isk/hour, k/d ratio and other things to general public to get an idea where you are at, but in the end, you are competing against yourself and reaching your made up goals.

From active to passive trading

I decided I was doing it wrong and semi-quit trading. From daily updates I went to weekly updates at best. Sometimes doing a few weeks break between logging my trade alts. I could have sold all my stuff and trading alts, probably netting me a hefty sum of isk so I could lol in subcaps until the end of times, but I did not want to. Even though I did not earn as much isk, I could still keep an average 2-300mil a day with updating just once a week. I felt like owning my own pixel business. Worthless for some, but not for me. So I took an eve-retirement, with petty earnings when talking about trading, but which let me focus on my hobby - shooting spaceships in eve online. Suddenly recreational activity became pleasant again. When I did not have any goals made up by myself or schedule to keep (1bil/day).

Living within your means

Golden rule of eve - don't fly what you can afford to lose. It's quoted in every opportunity it's possible, but that is so because it's true. I would like to extend a little bit on that. Living within your means in EvE is like in RL. While it's pixels, it is still your time that you put when acquiring an asset. Affording to lose, does not mean buying a shiny ship even though you can replace it more than few times. It is that you can lose a shiny ship without a twitch and keep doing so. Think how long does it take you to "earn" for this ship. You run missions or do whatever PVE and earn 200mil hour? Well, that 1.5bil proteus is a full day of work Add a slave set and it's suddenly as 3 times as much. Is it worth it? You decide. Would you rather risk one ship and half a week of isk grinding or buy 10 ships and have as 10 times fun before you need to grind up again? I don't say don't fly shinnies. By all means, do, but always weight the risk of losing it and impact. You can treat yourself to your shiny flagship once in awhile as you treat yourself to a restaurant. Nothing wrong with that, but if you are grinding isk in activity you do not like, so much to the point you don't like to play this game anymore, then you are doing it wrong and should scale down on your ships. I find 80-20 rule applying to many situations. In my personal opinion, if you manage to grind 20% for your 80% fun, then you are good. On the other hand, if you do enjoy your ISK earning activities and don't find them as a necessity, then please do carry on and enjoy this beautiful game.