Saturday, May 30, 2015

Staying stealthy

I continue my pilgrimage. I camp random wormholes afk cloaked and wait for an opportunity to present itself. When things are quiet and I have free time, I do some scanning. I look around the systems to see what's up. This time I end up in low-sec. I resolve sigs and find a 6/10 DED site. I haven't run a site in a while. It's a low-sec with high-sec next door. Perhaps someone will be interested to gank me. I would love that, so I run the site.

It's also a good thing to relax. Shoot some red crosses and get potentially paid.

Paid, right. As if RNG Jesus would approve me doing pve. I return in my pathetic drop and go to back w-space.

Observing the habitat

I have missed a couple of targets during last few days. Mostly not reacting fast enough to snab a target that is rolling the wormhole. You always have to make a decision in a split second. Sometimes you think you missed the opportunity, but then it turns out you missed out your death.

I was watching one exit when I started hearing a lot of activity. At first a couple of ships jump in. Not a problem for me, but too small fry for me to risk it.

Then suddenly more ships come.

Then you decide to see what is going on. Sometimes I get tempted to go in with my Domi fleet against smaller ships, but managing it solo, it may not go so well as I expect. Odds can very easily turn against me. Especially against something as Brave, that can swarm you with infinite numbers. For some time things quiet down. Then interesting ships start to appear.

A Kronos. That is the ship I would go for very happily, but with so much activity going on I decide not to. Guess if it was the right call.

I keep on waiting. An hour passes and I hear another jump. This time a battleship jumps in. I ponder if I should go for it. Each second counts and each second he is closer to the wormhole. It is on half mass so it is clear they are trying to close it. I check dscan and I see a lot of ships. Looks like there's a gank fleet trying to go after that Kronos and co. In a moment they land on the wormhole.

Phew. That was close. I can still feel my heart racing. I could have ended up in the middle of it. With 3 guardians on grid I would not have been able to kill anything. The fleet hangs on for awhile and jump after. I guess they were quite surprised as wormhole collapsed after 2 Guardians went in. I would lie if I said it was not hilarious, watching them just stand there in an empty space.

I actually thought it could be my chance. Imagine a Proteus and 3 Dominixes appear out of nowhere and start attacking. That really would have been something. Unfortunately, my Dominixes were far away in a safespot and there were still quite few ships left. I'm not sure if I could take that fleet withour prearranging spider tank. Not with that Guardian present. If only few more ships had managed to jump, the odds would have been great.  But it is how it is. The gang realized the fight was over and warped back home. I realized I knew one of the guys. He was quite surprised to know I have been watching the whole thing from the start. Aren't wormholes amazing?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Back to the wormholes. My first kill

The wormhole space. It has always fascinated me. Since I was very young, I used to have day trips, scanning and doing sites in my trusty Myrmidon. Once my skills and experience grew, so did my thirst for blood. Instead of hunting for sites, I was hunting people in my, also, trusty Proteus. Since then, I never looked back. While I do like high-sec and low-sec plays, w-space is where I belong. It is my home.

Wormhole interest

Reason why I enjoy wormhole space so much is the stealth aspect. And it is not only in EVE. Starting with battlefield 2142, I used to be a recon, carrying cloak, running behind enemy lines and sniping from their backs. Same with battlefield 3, always a sniper, always discrete. This is who I am.

Major aspect in w-space that I find attractive, is that it has no local. It always annoyed the heck out of me. It's like a bloody maphack. Announcing your presence after every time you jump in. It makes really difficult to hunt. If your target is not stupid, it will be very unlikely it will become a victim. Combined local with d-scan and killboards, anyone have instant access to a lot of information on you. Not to mention if you are using extra tools like pirate's little helper. They know exactly what to expect, what ship you fly, what group you fly with. Everything. I am, of course, over exaggerating a little as there can still be plenty of kills, traps and baits, but you get the idea.

Striking from the shadows

In wormholes, stealth plays both ways. You might be cloaked, watching your prey, but so someone might be watching you. You never know when a group of ships will suddenly decloak on you. A lot of it depends on chance. You can either be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or at the right place at the right time. This time it seems it was the former. 

I have been watching one entrance in a c3 when suddenly I see an activity on scan.

With my uber d-scan skills, I quickly find their position to be on a wormhole out to null-sec.

When I land, I only have visual on Gila, but no Tengu. Before I start looking for it, I see Gila warp to what seems to be an anomaly. I follow. Once on grid, I see them both quite close to each other, orbiting an mtu. Looks like they just started the site.

I mingle my fingers while having an evil smile on my face. Here's what I have been waiting for. That feeling, when you are watching your preys and they have no idea. At least I hope so. System is quite large and my Domi fleet is more than 20 AU away. It will take some time for them to come, so I prepare as much as possible. I get 200km bookmark for a good warpin. One last time make sure that both ships are in close orbit of an mtu and will not burn out of scram range when I land. Finally I align my Dominixes and decloak them. Warp to 10 with Proteus, take one last quick look and decloak. I wait out my sensor re-calibration delay and tackle both Tengu and Gila, and send my fleet to warp.

As expected, once pilots realize what is happening, they open fire on me. There is a good reason I fly heavy tackle Proteus with no dps. And that reason is tank. It is not maximum tank fit though. I use 6 low slot and 4 medium slot layout with sensor booster for faster tackle. And I also do not carry slave or any armor implants, or any shiny adaptive membranes for that matter. I am balancing cost vs return. If my 170ehp proteus will die, probably having 300 ehp would not do much difference. 

So here I am, holding both targets when my Domi fleet finally lands and I start with the killing. I was getting a bit greedy and almost paid the price. When I've just put tackle with my Dominixes, I decided to focus fire on Gila, as it did not have web on it, I wanted to kill it before possibility to burn out of range. That all changed, when suddenly Falcon decloaked on grid. I knew what was coming. I quickly change focus of my scram from Gila to Tengu. Which was a smart move, since Proteus gets jammed and Gila warps out seconds later. Seeing as his friend still has multiple points on him and is not going anywhere, Falcon pilot decides to give up and disappears before I can even start locking it. That works for me. I resume my dps on the Tengu.

There is still an active mobile tractor unit on the field. I should kill it first, but I don't want to try my luck. If Falcon came on such short notice, there might be a blob gathering to kill me for all I know. I have no idea what is happening on the other side of that wormhole. I decide not to care about the loot and go for the kill.

Not too shabby. A 1.5 billion Tengu catch. I quickly finish off mtu and scoop what is left and do a quick gtfo. Once safe I cloak up and continue observing with my cloaky Proteus. I see Svipul warp to wreck and out. I do a check on the kill and my cargo and it seems I have got all the shinnies. They are free to pickup the leftovers, I don't mind. I won't be doing anything. A gank per system is my motto. I ship my loot to K-space and log for the day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - Paying for your mistakes

Each action has a consequence. This rule applies everywhere. Have you run your mouth when you shouldn't and got killed? Have you done something and made a target for yourself? At every step we make decisions and deal with the outcome based on those decisions. My decision to write a blog about my activities also has consequences. It puts me on a radar which is not necessarily a good thing. I believe that you get most advantages operating under the radar, in the shadows. Bonus points if you do not have any api associated to any of the killboards. That might be too extreme, but it will always give you an advantage if your enemies underestimate your capabilities. But who want's to live that kind of life? What good are the stories if they never see the light? What's the point of the kill if you can't brag about it? I embrace my enemies and always act under assumption that every target I go for is a potential bait. Anyway, let's get back on the subject.

Haunted by the past

If you are a casual reader of my blog, you might remember how I started ninja salvaging series, season 2. I died trying to get Machariel, but was lucky enough to have him concorded. Great thing about getting shot at without engagement rights is that you get killrights. Since then, I have been keeping tabs on Vladimir Samborskiy, an ex Machariel pilot. Everyday I see him log and every time I checked on him, he was mining several jumps out. Even though he was mining in a Mackinaw, a mining ship that is worth around 200mil, I did not feel like wasting my killrights just yet. It was a big downgrade from Machariel to Mackinaw. I was hoping he would lick his wounds and buy a new mission ship after some time. Besides, you can very easily gank a Mackinaw in a 0.6 security system. So it really felt as a waste.

Days were passing and I was in my 3rd week of killright. I got a month to exact his revenge and time was running out. I decided that 2 weeks of mining is enough time to rebuild his ship and decided to go for a kill. Except it wasn't as straightforward as I thought it would be. Last few days he has been very slippery. Traveling around systems, making it hard for me to find him. Finally I chase him to Simela, that is a lvl 1-3 Sisters of EVE mission hub. It is usually a starting point for people to grind their SOE standings. I get a visual and his ship id and probe him out. He appears to be flying a frigate, doing a mission, which has a lot of small wrecks on scan. How underwhelming. From a faction battleship to a frigate. I start feeling that I have missed out my opportunity and should have just killed his Mackinaw when had a chance. Since there was still time left on my killright. I went back to Dodixie to observe some possible gank targets, me and my ninja buddy - Beliar Gray had been thinking about.

It was getting late and our targets logged out. Getting ready to do the same, with a bitter taste that no explosions materialized today, when accidentally I spot Vladimir in Dodixie dock. Oh boy, I hope he is here for a good reason. Buying a new Machariel would be a very nice reason. After watching for a few minutes I see him undock in a Gila and warp out. I miss the destination and we lose sight of him for a moment. He doesn't appear to be in any surrounding systems so it's probably not a lvl4 mission. We run a locate on him, but I have a gut feeling he is on the way to Simela. I set my destination and burn at full speed while Beliar follows. My gut was right, he was going to Simela direction as I meet him half way.

We end up in Bherdasopt, a next door system to Simela. He appears to have warped to his mission I had scanned him and his frigate earlier. I guess it was too tough for a frigate or took too long and he opted for an upgrade. Gila is by no means a Machariel, but I will take it over a Mackinaw any day. While he was slaughtering frigates in his mission, me and Beliar went to Simela and waited for him on the gate with my fast tackle Proteus and his Neutgeddon

I was a little worried if I will have enough time to activate the killright and put a tackle before Gila warps out. After several minutes of waiting, Vladimir finally appears in local. This is it. He pops on the overview, I quickly activate the killright and tackle him. A bump from Proteus and Armageddon made sure he is not coming back to the gate alive. In just a minute he was toast.

The criminal had what was coming to him and justice prevailed again. 

Last episode of season 2

With such happy ending I would like to finally close season 2 of Ninja Salvaging Series. It sure was a fun ride. Before it becomes too much of a routine, it is time to change up my play. I will be going to back to w-space. I am going on a pilgrimage again, where I will lock myself out in some random wormholes and stalk people. It might sound boring to some, but it actually gets me very excited. Taking my time to hunt is a very rewarding experience that I can't wait to write about. At some point, I will be back to ninja salvaging in high-sec for a season 3, but until then, I have some ideas I want to try.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A guide to ninja salvaging

Since I started publishing ninja salvaging series, I got quite few questions from people interested in engaging in this kind of activity. While there are some guides around the net, most of them are outdated. It doesn't mean there's nothing recent though. Before sharing my experience on the subject, I would like to provide reference to a good quality guide by Feyd that is still very much valid. Please do check it out as it contains a lot of information, especially for people starting out.

Guide to ninja salvaging by Feyd:
Related post about Ishkur fit:

When finished, you will know most stuff and will be quite knowledgeable about this activity. While it's always good to get a lot of information to have a jump start, you must find your own way. What works for one, might not always work for another. There is no one rule to win everything. Strategies are different based on many factors. In time you will learn to recognize them and adapt accordingly. In the mean time, here's my advice on how to set your mindset on your ninja salvaging journey.


Choosing the right system

When starting ninja salvaging, your first concern is the right system. If you are very new and just starting, consider choosing lvl1-3 mission hub system. Try to learn the ropes baiting cruisers and battlecruisers instead jumping to battleships from the beginning. For example Simela. A Sisters of EVE mission hub that have agents up to lvl3. Open a map and use Pirate ships destroyed statistic to see the hotspots or use Dotlan maps.

But be careful. Don't just jump to a system with most kills and pilots. Chances are, those systems will have more competition. Especially I would advise from settling in the system with agents present, but instead go for the next door one or 2 jumps out. Reason is that hubs have a lot of people that live there and engage in highsec pvp, by baiting and hunting other suspects (white knights and station baiters). Plus, if someone will shout for help, good chance there will be someone to respond. Not to mention in very populated local, you will not be able to see how many potential friend corpmates your target might have. You will also get a lot of "trash hits" when trying to scan a missioner. So find some semi quiet system, not too inactive, but not too active either. Also good advantage of settling a jump out from a system with agents is that you will often encounter missions with "rescue" objectives such as Damsel in distress or Worlds collide. Those type of missions are perfect for stealing objectives and getting best quality tears.

Choosing the right ship

When someone asks me what ship is best for ninja salvaging it is always hard to advise. Short answer: I always recommend Ishkur. I believe it's one of most versatile ships to use when ninja salvaging. But truth is, I have little to no experience about frigates of other races than Gallente. I know others have success with different type of frigates, for example a Hawk. So instead of spewing the answer, lets think what we need and let you choose fit and ship for yourself. For the sake of the argument, lets assume you do not have any logi support and no possibility to refit with Orca.

1mn afterburner - your tank is sig tank that you achieve by orbiting under the guns;
1 scrambler - need to keep carebears from using microwarpdrive or microjumpdrive;
1 salvager or set of salvaging drones - your goal is to salvage and loot to provoke aggression;
Guns/Drones - don't fit full a rack of only salvagers.

Highly recommended:
1 damage control - it adds a lot of tank and lets you live in those few lucky shots;
1 active tank - your only concern is to tank long enough to kill drones and active tank lasts longer;
1 neutralizer - Gives much better odds in breaking missioners tank;
Resist mods - more drones you have to fight, more tank you will need.

1 cap booster - If you run active tank and/or neutralizer, you will need it;
1 webifier - useful for killing drones faster and keeping carebear in place;
1 buffer tank - Sometimes buffer gives enough time to kill drones. Mostly applies to shield fits;
1 damage mod - gives more dps at expense of tank (for armor fits).

There you have it. Every mod has advantage and disadvantage. I would recommend storing 2+ fitted ships for different encounters. For example, if you ninja in Gallente region, chances are you will encounter mostly drone ships. Then your priority will be to tank many sets of drones so you will want to put more focus on armor resists and neutralizer. Do you ninja in Caldari space? Then drones will not be as big issue and you can fit extra damage mods/rigs. If you visit passive fit ships you can even trade neutralizer for a salvager and swap salvaging drones for the dps ones. If you are using a ship that can change ammo type then you can pay attention to mission rats and use ammo that exploits the resist hole, same goes for the drones.

Cruisers, t1-t2 frigates and other hulls for baiting

Some people use cruisers to bait. I used to bait in a Vexor too. On the good side, you can kill mtu very fast and thus trigger a reaction from a carebear. Downside is, that cruiser sized hulls look more dangerous and get less hits. When fitting cruiser sized hull, use same logic as for frigate. But usually you have more options as you have bigger tank, you can fit dual propulsion or point and scram while still orbiting under the guns quite well. Most hits get t1 frigates, however it is very difficult to kill a battleship in a t1 frigate. I had some success with Incursus, but mostly it was impossible to break battleship sized tanks. I found that t2 frigate has a best ratio between getting aggro and managing to kill a BS on its own. Faction frigates can work well too, but they do not have such good resists and are usually more expensive. 

The power of two - advantages of an alt

Ninja salvaging is not very newbie friendly activity. While you can do quite well against cruisers and battlecruisers in a solo t1 frigate, it can be quite difficult to kill battleships. A t2 frigate can probably deal with most cases, however, when I was new and started ninja salvaging, creating a scanning alt was best decision I have ever made. I used following setup:

1. Main baits in a pvp frigate
2. Alt scans out targets and fleet warps main to different carebears. This allows me to visit a lot of carebears very fast without a need to swap between baiting and scanning ship.

Scan alt has also trained logi skills, so when my main gets aggro and needs support, my scan alt can quickly swap for a logi and come to assistance. The beauty of this setup is not only efficiency. Consider following scenario. A carebear attacks, you tackle him, but can't break his tank. You bring in logi and repair while flagging yourself suspect. Carebear seeing he can't kill your main, tries to take a shot at your logi. Receiving engagement rights with your logi, now you have extra drone dps. Plus, you can always swap a ship while keeping tackle with your logi, assuming it is not deep in mission and 5 minutes is enough time.

Also consider joining Ninja Dojo channel and get in touch with fellow ninjas. Find a partner or a group of people and do ninja activities close to each other while giving support for your friend when he gets aggro. Can also have a fleet and ask for warfare link bonuses from older ninjas. If you do not have an alt and do not want one, having a partner is next best thing. Optimal is having an alt and a partner. My best days as ninja was doing together with a friend. Our combined force multiplier let us take on on any group of missioners. Not to mention having a company is way more fun.

Baiting theory - tips and tricks

So you chose your system and got yourself a baiting ship. Now to the fun part - getting aggro. Being a ninja requires immense amount of patience. There will be days were you will get no reaction at all and there will be busy days where it will seem everyone is in a shooty mood.

Here is how I approach my ninja activities. Some of this information might be new as I haven't seen this stressed in any other guides.

1. Background check

First step, after I loot and salvage first wreck, I check out the pilot. I got employment history to get a good grasp how old the pilot is. I also take a look if he is in NPC or player corp. You try to get a feel of the guy. Did he spend most of the time in NPC corp? If he is in a player corp, what kind of corp is it? Is it a small one with less than 20 people? A medium sized of around 50 or a larger one over a 100?

In time you start getting a feeling. If it's 0-2 years old pilot, in a small or npc corp, he might be more likely to be annoyed by you looting and salvaging his wrecks. You might want to put more attention to him and stick around for 15 or more minutes.

If he is a long time veteran player, in somewhat that seems well established corp of medium/large size you take precautions. You check killboard of the pilot and the corp. Is it bunch of industrialists with no notable activity and mostly losses? Then he might be less dangerous and likely to shoot and be a good target. Or is it a corp with teeth and has kills under the belt? Does the pilot have any kills? Are they around the area? Perhaps it's far in lowsec or nullsec. If guy or his corp look fairly active, try to quickly add his corp to negative standing and see how many are there in local. This mostly applies if you are being targeted or a player looks quite scary. You try to avoid any surprises and prepare for the worst. Last thing you wanna do is provide free kills to missioners with pvp fit. One high-sec kill record on killboard will say a lot.

Another thing I always do is profiling. I add notes in EVE character information. Every single carebear I visit has some notes about him. In time. while operating in the same system, you will be visiting same carebears. They will remember you, but you will most likely not. Adding notes is a perfect way to keep records of precious information you had from previous encounters. Here's how some of my notes look:

I have encountered Raven Seldon few times in different days. His first reaction was to shoot wrecks. Then after I looted his mission objective he couldn't resist not making any remarks in local. Plus, while I was salvaging with his objective stolen he just stood there with no reaction. Next day I've met him he made remark about a post he was featured in. If you are reading this, - hi Raven, you are on TV again! Hope all is well.

So what can I make of this information? For starters, I know he knows me well. He knows what I am doing and what's up. If I would get aggro I would have to be extremely careful and take precautions. Most likely he would try to get me in a pvp fit ship or use MJD to take a pot shot from afar and align and warp out before I was half way. My approach to him will be much different compared if it was our first encounter.

I use this method to build profiles and based on reactions I get, it depends how much time I will use trying to bait them, or what kind of method. It can vary from 5 minutes to 1 hour. On average, I probably spend 10-15 minutes baiting before moving on to the next target.

If you are in high-sec it does not mean you should not use d-scan. On the contrary, when ninja salvaging I use d-scan more than in low-sec. I use a short range scan to be aware if there's help incoming.

Is it a mission with multiple gates? How deep are you in the pocket? It's very important if you have a partner and might need help. There is nothing worse, but being past 3-4 acceleration gates, trying to bait a ship you might have trouble tanking. In such situations either you prewarp your logi to a mission or have to tank solo.

NPC also plays a role here. There are pockets where you will be webbed and take a lot of aggro from small ships. If you know you won't have chance of tanking in unfortunate circumstances, it might be more wise to leave and return instead of trying to scram and then leave. This way, you may get a 2nd chance.

It is important if mission has an objective. In such cases you can choose to stick around and snap an objective. You can also try to play with triggers in hard missions. but with most carebears using MJD it is not so relevant anymore as npc aggro switch will probably backfire. Though it is always good idea to kill some npc to unlock mission objective, such as opening Heron in worlds collide, assuming carebear warps out or just sits afk waiting for you to leave.

4. Carebear types

There are different types of carebears you will encounter. Here's how I deal with most popular ones:

A " I will warp out" carebear
A carebear warps out hoping you will leave and never return or by an off chance get killed by npc. You do exactly opposite. Make a bookmark, put a note and frequently visit him. It takes you just few seconds to warp around in your fast frigate. For him, he will need to move his slow ass battleship through the gates again. You will make them waste a lot of time and maybe piss them off enough to get aggro.

A "I will shoot my wrecks" carebear
A carebear that shoots wrecks tries to announce that there's nothing to see and you will not get any profit by staying. Since you do not really care about profit, you stick around until every wreck is gone. Then you can leave visit other missioners and come back in some minutes for him to shoot all new wrecks.

A "I will blue my wrecks" carebear
A carebear that will blue his wrecks as soon as you come. By doing so he is trying to declare "I don't give a shit" or genuinely trying to be helpful to a poor newbie salvager trying to make a living. In such cases I come back with an mtu in either transport ship or a frigate. I drop mtu and do some salvaging without burning from wreck to wreck.

A "I will go afk" carebear
A carebear that stops shooting npc and just goes afk. It usually can tank dps and can stay forever. In those cases I usually salvage what is available and come back later for new wrecks, similar to a warp out carebear. If I have other interesting things to do, I sometimes go semi afk myself, by reading news, chatting with friends, or doing something else on another EVE client. Though a carebear usually has an upper hand in this. While you do waste his time, you can't go completely afk as he can shoot you at any time.

A "I will yellowbox" carebear
A carebear that targets you and gets you excited, but never really shoots. One side of this is that you expect to get shot at, but it never really happens. Other side is that carebear has you locked and thus he might shoot you by accident. I had this happen few times. If he is sloppy in focusing new target he might fire upon you and no green safety will help him. From experience, carebears that yellowbox are most inclined to shoot sooner or later. When I get yellowboxed, I make sure my logi ships and support, if needed, are on standby

A "I will take a pot shot from 100km" carebear
A carebear that Micro jumps 100k off and shoots at you. In such cases I just burn to them at normal speed, but keeping my transversal, by burning a little bit sideways rather than straight for him. There's nothing much you can do to stop him from warping out, but if you read my blog, you know that quite few such cases go sour for the carebears. When I pass 50km off, I then overheat my afterburner and point and go straight for him. Sometimes they are not aligned and  when they try to warp out it takes too long.

Some do manage to warp out, but then warp back to mission without waiting out 5 minute engagement timer. Some warp to a planet instead of a gate or a station. That is why you always pay attention and try to follow. If he do manages to get to safety, you can visit him again with special fit to catch it, by fitting MWD and a point along with some buffer.

A "I will mission in a PVP fit" carebear
A carebear that missions in pvp fit likes to get easy kills from ninjas. That means he knows the game and is perfectly fine doing missions in a pvp fit while waiting for ninjas to bait him. Meeting such carebear is a most certain death. Good news? You can very easily see his intentions by checking killboard activity. Make notes and even add negative standing to such players/corps. That doesn't mean that you have to ignore him though. If you have logistics support, have it wait for you on acceleration gate. Fit a cap booster and resists to his damage type. In the end, he is risking expensive battleship and you only risk a frigate. Bring ninja friends.

A "I will shit talk about you in local" carebear
A carebear that calls you out in local. Either tries to laugh at your petty actions or goes full head on with flaming. In any case, your best play is always to keep quiet. Becoming a star of the system is bad for business. Do not link your kills, do not respond or entertain whoever screams at you. Those types usually provide best quality tears. Proper way to collect them is via private conversation and not in local chat. It can also turn into your elaborate scheme to get aggro. See social engineering next.

In general, best thing you can do is try different things and see what works for you. The more unique you try to be, the more success you will have. Baiting is an art. Be an artist and improvise.

5. Social engineering

Some people will make remarks in local or convo you for a chat. There are different situations. Some flame and want to vent their anger on you in verbal form. Some are clueless and are interested in what are you doing and why. There are different ways to go about such situations. I will not go in details, but will just mention few.

Most common is to act helpless noob. Explain you are poor and you are in desperate need of isk and salvaging his hard earned loot is good income (even though it's not). Try to build a relationship. Once you are familiar with each other, you can tell him a story, how not everyone is so cool about stealing mission loot and how bad people shot and killed you in the past. And to deal with that you came up with very nice tanky fit, that you would just love to try. Problem is, you do not have anyone to test its tank. So you ask a carebear to help you out. Ask him to ungroup guns just to be sure. Once he shoots, you take off the mask and open your tear jars.

Another approach is to act cocky. Some people threatened me to convert my ship to wreck. I usually try pretend an idiot and tell them how they will get concorded or sometimes even call them out and joke that they couldn't do shit even if they wanted. Thank them for their loot and ask them stop wasting your time and shoot npc faster.

6. Know your limits

You can't win every fight. There will be situations where you can't tank enough or things are going south due to any other circumstances. If you see your tank is failing and feel there is good chance you won't survive, warp out. When having 30% armor, align to somewhere. Don't be afraid to cut your losses and leave with your ship intact. Chances are, carebear will still be there or next time you will be more prepared. Worst thing you can do is give a free kill for the carebear. Especially when starting out, you might bite more than you can chew. Being inexperienced, you might end up losing a lot of fights. Don't get yourself depressed by losing ships. Instead, think how you can trick him into shooting you again and be more prepared. Was your tank failing? Drop that damage mod. Did he bring friends? Get support from other ninjas. Fight smart!

The end game

To be a successful and efficient ninja in most cases owning 2 accounts is enough. Scan alt that swaps to logi support for your main is good combo. However to get those truly shiny kills that are very well tanked and/or fight groups of carebears at the same time, you need that extra muscle. 

Orca, as I like to call it, is a ninja's Swiss army knife. There are limits your t2 frigate can do. Especially when you happen to tackle a Marauder, you will see that you just can't break it. Marauder is an ultimate catch in high-sec, not counting overly pimped faction battleships ships. To break it, you will need to swap for another ship and that's where Orca comes in. Be it your alt, your friend, or a stranger, someone has to have it. If Marauder has attacked you and your logi, then it is easy. Just keep tackle with your logi ship, while waiting out timer with your main. If engagement is only with your main, then you need to disengage as soon as he enters bastion mode. Once timer is almost over, keep spamming scram module. If he gets scrammed, continue to apply dps and wait for new bastion cycle. If he doesn't get scrammed, congratulations he is in another cycle. Now you can swap ship without problem.

Usually carebears try to warp out after one cycle. Bastion timer is one minute and so is your weapons timer. If carebear pays attention, he will warp out before when you are in the middle of swapping. You can either try your luck and hope he delays warp out some seconds after bastion cycle is over or you can try bumping. That of course involves extra preparation and tools (bumping ship).

Baiting group of mission runners can be most challenging and most rewarding. Normally they feel much more confident to shoot you. If it's more than 2 drone ships, do not have any illusions. You probably will die before support can arrive. If targets are easily reachable, not too far out and you don't need multiple acceleration gates, consider warping back to station and swap for a battlecruiser or even a battleship. One time, I got aggro from 4 battleships. I managed to get to station, swap for a battleship, return and tackle them within 5 minute window. Otherwise, have your logi support sitting on acceleration gates to come on moments notice.

2 guys with 2 alts is what gives most bang for the buck. You both play solo, until one of you gets aggro. Now suddenly your partner can bring an extra logi and an Orca. There is nothing worse than having to let go a shiny ship because you can't handle it solo. With a partner, you will rarely be in situations above your head.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - Being broke

I've said many times and will it say again. Don't fly what you can't afford to lose. Somehow, residents of high-sec often ignore this rule and sooner or later the day comes when they pay for it. Take me for example. I always keep my costs to a minimum. Even when I have money to use t2 logi ships or a shiny pvp ship to kill carebears, I don't do it. Primarily because it all depends on return on investment. If same job can be done cheaply, you should not over do it on an off chance that in 1 out of 100 situations you might need it. I also never owned a Vindicator. It always felt very expensive and I couldn't think of any scenarios where should I use it without proper fleet, being solo or very small gang player.

Expensive lesson

I tackled a Megathron Navy issue. While I was half-way through his armor I initiated a convo, giving a chance for the pilot to pay ransom.

So far so good. Everyone tends to listen when you have a gun pointed at their head.

Not to waste too much time, I ask for a fit, so I can give an adequate ransom price. Just as I say my demands, we suddenly hit a brick wall. What do they expect? That I would let them off with a warning?

I get "I'm broke" excuse. It's been proven many times that carebears tend to lie about their financial situation. There are so many ways to go around it. I offer good repayment plan, such as taking his ship and selling at the auction and returning the remainder. Clearly that ship was out of his league and it was to his best interest to downgrade to something more suitable to his financial situation. Unfortunately, my solutions fell on deaf ears and thus I had no choice but to confiscate his ship the hard way.

A one billion ISK ship goes up in smoke. Full of faction stuff. Even cap rechargers are faction. Lack of t2 guns only confirms my fears that this was casual "get to bigger ship asap" case and immediate treatment was required. Thankfully, antimatter medicine does not cost much these days.

As a good doctor should, I did a quick check on the patient's health several days after.

Looks like all is well. Bagool Dunkey is back in lowsec, flying ships he can now afford to replace. Another soul successfully saved. Both high-sec and low-sec benefit from it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - Free lessons

There are different ways to go about ninja salvaging. Occasionally I scan out a mining ship in the middle of space. It usually means he is mining in a mission. It is quite safe compared to asteroids fields as no one can just bump into you. Also, if system is full of ships, it can be a small chance you will catch anyone's attention. I, however, am always interested in whats up and thus usually pay such miners a visit. At first I come with a covert ops frigate and if I see cargo containers on d-scan, I bring my hauler.

This time I visit a retriever, peacefully mining in his own little world. I casually approach his cans and loot the ore, worth around 10million isk. A pocket change, but hey, it's free. I do not know how long it takes for them to mine it, but they are not usually very happy about it.

Carmen Dust > mine your own

I keep tabs on such miners. I sometimes steal 2-3 times before they realize they are not mining for themselves anymore and leave. Sometimes, they learn from their mistakes and bring their alt/friend.

Dark side is more fun

I continue scanning. It's unavoidable that there will be boring days. Like anywhere else in EVE. I found a very good supplemental activity - watching Miami Vice episodes. I somehow remembered this show when playing GTA V. Those are not series I would dedicate time watching under normal conditions, but it is interesting enough to watch when ninja salvaging. I don't really need to pay much attention until I get yellowboxed or shot at and it helps to pass the time during boring periods.

Of course when I do get a fight, my attention is full. In this case I catch a Prophecy and successfully continue to break his tank until white knight appears and releases ship from my clutches by jamming me out. Not getting a kill doesn't mean a defeat. I convo pilot to see how is he feeling.

Zosius > tell me if you want to try dark side of eve
Zosius > dont do missions or you will get tired
Ophers Freak > i don't want go PVP i am newbie

Ah, a standard "I'm too new to fight" excuse. I wonder how many people are there in high-sec that leave the game before experiencing their first fight.

Zosius > it doesnt matter
Zosius > you dont need to be old
Ophers Freak > i havn't skill and i don't know anything about ships fiting etc
Ophers Freak > after some time i can go PVP or anything as this
Zosius > we can teach you
Zosius > we can show you how to have fun
Zosius > what i just did to you for example
Ophers Freak > :D it was wery funy :D

I do not know what would be reaction if Ophers Freak actually lost his ship, but at least now he admits that our little engagement was rather fun.

Zosius > weren't you excited?
Zosius > its more fun to steal from other peoples missions
Ophers Freak > but what i need? for it
Zosius > only a frigate
Ophers Freak > Skills etc?
Zosius > just skills at lvl3 most is enough
Ophers Freak > it sounds good
Zosius > join the dark side :)
Ophers Freak > how?
Zosius > doing missions is good way to hate eve
Ophers Freak > or where?
Zosius > join us in Ninja Dojo

I don't normally try to convince every pilot to try something different in EVE apart missions. Sometimes I am just interested in their experience and if they take it well I suggest to try it for themselves. Ninja salvaging is not such newbie friendly activity unfortunately. Without proper support, besides stealing it is hard to do anything to battleships in a solo t1 frigate. Granted, smaller mission hubs would be still quite fun to bait cruisers and battlecruisers. I continue to give some pointers while looking for further targets.

A ninja salvager's Swiss knife

I stumble upon a Rattlesnake.

Piloted by Netharius Shadovein, it couldn't resist and took a shot at me. It promptly got tackled and disposed of. No ransom was attempted due to white knights in the area, so ship was dealt in the fastest manner possible.

Nothing too fancy. I love to see so many damage mods. They usually hurt, but it also means ship is not tanked to crazy levels. We exchange good fight in local and I get an interesting question.

Though me changing ship from Enyo to Brutix kinda should have given it away. Anyway, I am believer in an educated population of New Eden so I share my "secrets".

I give a free lesson and we part on good terms. A rare sight you see these days when working in my field. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - Fighting outnumbered

Lately I have been coming across  many missioners running sites with 2-3 friends. Unless that extra ship is an alt, I believe it is a complete waste of time and rewards. I usually treat such groups with caution. My area of operations is Gallente space, meaning most of ships I encounter are drone ones. It's sort of ninja on hard mode as drone boat is very hard to fight against. Especially multiple ones. Thus I adjust my strategy. If I am surrounded by multiple drone ships, I do not have illusions to tank and normally don't try to get under their guns, but instead, I try to provoke engagement and change ship. This time I visit Hurricane, Hyperion and a Noctis.

I get yellow boxed by Hyperion. He suspiciously is approaching me, without firing. My experience rings warning bells. I quickly pre-align my both logi alts. Something is up.

Standing your ground

Suddenly Hyperion and Hurricane opens fire on me. My fears came true, I get pointed, webbed, neuted and tracking disrupted. Sigh. Why would Hyperion, of all ships, have a bloody tracking disruptor if they expect to kill ninjas in a mission, which usually is a frigate or a cruiser at best?

Anyway, shit was going down. Being heavy neuted I couldn't even run my afterburner. I ordered my 2 Augorors to warp. They land just in time. Cap chain is up, repairs are on. Now I tackle Hyperion and start working on his tank. Time passes on and I am slowly getting into Hyperions armor. I do not expect to break him, but I also do not see any reps. Is he buffer fit? In a mission?

Just as I thought I got it all under control, the fun part was only beginning. I suddenly see a Sleipnir land. Sleipnir is piloted by Orions Lord, a competitor ninja, that I had encountered before and we have been after each other ever since. He tackles my logi. Coincidentally, I now also have a Hurricane switching focus to my logi.

I keep my Augoror on far away orbit on opposite sides. If they want to get it, they will have to chase it. I am not making it easy. Furthermore, it has also teeth.

I tackle Sleipnir pilot. He got himself into this mess and is not going anywhere. I seem to be able to tank incoming dps. Once I'm done with Hyperion, I will give him the fight he was looking for. Just as I thought situation couldn't get more stressful I'm proven wrong again. I see Rook, a t1 jamming ship, land on grid. A logi's worst nightmare. At this point I do not expect to win a fight anymore. All it needs to do is to have few lucky cycles on my ECCMless logi ships and fight will turn sides very fast.

But it was not over just yet. You see, I too have something up my sleeve. Few seconds later my Orca lands on grid. I have stopped my aggression with Enyo in the middle of the fight. While they were busy killing me, Hyperion pilot might not have noticed that he had no scram on him anymore. Once Orca landed, game was about to change. Rook or no rook.

Once in range, I try to swap for a Brutix. Bloody CCP mechanics! First I need to open fleet hangars to throw away nanite paste from my cargohold so I could board my Brutix. Maybe they forgot, that when they introduced ancillary armor repair module, nanite paste now is also used as a charger. Me trying mutlibox multiple logi ships, swap a ship and keep tabs on what is going on didn't work so well. Once I was sitting in a Brutix, field has changed in a matter of seconds. Everyone ran away, like cockroaches when the lights get turned on. Before I could lock Hyperion, there was nothing left anymore. Well, apart from a slow Hurricane that didn't warp off and got tackled by one of my Augorors.

What continued was a slow death. Zosius did not have any engagement left on him anymore, only both logi pilots had it. So 8 hobgoblins on unbonused ships were slowly eating away Hurricane's shields. Looks like pilot lost hope getting out alive. Was waiting for his doom while abandoned by his friends. Where is that Rook now? I would seriously look for better friends.

It was a good fight indeed. I was a bit upset about not being able keep 100% control and let Sleipnir and Hyperion get away. I thought they would stick at least for a moment. I should have checked all the tackles before swapping, but maybe my ambition is too high. Perhaps managing to get alive and score a kill in this situation is already an achievement.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - Big temptation

Role playing an asshole has it's ups and downs. Downside is that a lot of people hate you and portrait you as a devil. Hmm, maybe that's not such a big of a downside? Upside is that in EVE, being an asshole pays. By killing and ransoming carebears you can earn quite good isk. On a good day you can earn so much ISK that it will take a lot of days for a missioner to do the same. It usually is by getting lucky and blowing up a shiny ship. If you get to ransom it, it can be a big bonus too.

Line between real and virtual worlds

To be an asshole, it's important to set your mindset that this is a game, in order to fully utilize your potential. I always strictly keep these 2 worlds separately. This time I have made an exception. With CCP running a PLEX for GOOD initiative, I pledged to donate my gains from ninja activities for the cause.

I do my activities when I get aggro from Raven Navy Issue piloted by Pieter Patric.

He thought he was being smart and decided to take a potshot at me from a long distance. Unfortunately for him, he burned to the opposite of me, which was an empty space and was not aligned to anything. Once he realized I am getting closer, he tried to turn and warp out, but it was too late. Granted, it was a close call. I pushed my modules to the limit.

In the end, I came out ahead. He aggressed my logi so it was just a matter of time now for my Orca to burn ridiculous range and me swap for another ship. To pass some time I decided to convo Pieter and see if I can get him contribute to the Nepal cause.

Pieter Patrick > uhhhh. make a deal? lol
Zosius > would you be interested to contribute
Zosius > for plex for good
Zosius > I will let you go if you donate plex for the cause
Pieter Patrick > plex???? 8oo million?
Zosius > 830

Pieter was shocked at first. He didn't want to believe we are talking about such high numbers. 

Zosius > i will send screenshot
Zosius > proving that i have donated
Zosius > and you will keep your ship
Zosius > if i scam, you can report me
Pieter Patrick > how do I know you will let me live?

A valid question. Usually there are no guarantees that people like me will honor their ransom. However, this time it is different. CCP has clearly stated that they will have zero tolerance to any scams made related to this initiative .

Zosius > I cant scam when it comes to this stuff
Zosius > ccp forbids
Zosius > you can read  my blog where i state this
Zosius > i already donated7 p lex
Pieter Patrick > ok... deal
Pieter Patrick > how to pay?

Our conversation was midway as was my Orca. Looks like we have a deal, but I get a question "how to pay?". A question that usually is asked to stall some time. I am getting tired of this.

Pieter Patrick > Will you're friends leave too????
Zosius > it is me multiboxing
Zosius > i am 1 guy
Pieter Patrick > Ok.... but I still don't trust it.,....

Trust is a rare thing to come by these days. Some people are really stubborn.

Zosius > well
Zosius > you have shiny ship
Zosius > price just went up to 1bil
Zosius > i scanned you with my orca
Zosius > last chance before i swap ships and kill you
Pieter Patrick > Soo...
Pieter Patrick > it happend

Raven Navy Issue price is over 500mil. Throw in some fits and 830mil for a ransom is quite a reasonable sum. That is until you scan his fit and see that it is full of shiny modules. Just as I rose the price to 1bil due to him wasting my time and reevaluating his ships worth, I see a wallet flash.

Well I'll be dammed. He actually did transfer the funds. At this point I have an excellent opportunity. I would be 830mil richer and I could kill his ship, collecting loot and getting extra half as much. My finger on the trigger is itching. What will I do?

Zosius > ok
Zosius > free to go
Pieter Patrick > have fun.... you deserved it
Pieter Patrick > stupid me attacking you
Zosius > you donated 15$ for nepal
Zosius > no harm done
Pieter Patrick > seriues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pieter Patrick > really?
Pieter Patrick > you're good ma!!!
Pieter Patrick > man
Zosius > please leave comment in the blog if you appreciate my work
Pieter Patrick > I'm noop.... how to do that?
Zosius > the link i gave you
Zosius > just go there and write a comment that you were let go :)
Pieter Patrick > ok... byebye
Zosius > cya

I let him go. I would not even twitch an eye if it was a t2 fit ship. I would prefer donation over a faction battleship killmail, but scanning him with an Orca, really made things difficult. It's not that often you get so lucky and get a juicy target. But since I have made a promise and a line between 2 worlds have been crossed, I honored my word. As promised, PLEX was donated to CCP.

It might be a drop in the sea, but by trying not to be ignorant, I believe world can be a better place. Meanwhile, plex for good period is almost over and I get to be full time greedy bastard again.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - World of opportunities

There are many ways of messing around with carebears. One of the ways is to try and kill their mtu or force them to rush in and save it.

If that doesn't work, you can steal their mission objective.

Regardless, I always offer carebears a way to deal with my actions. They are free to shoot at me or buy out their mission objective.

Unfortunately, as an emergent content creator, I often receive inadequate reaction to my efforts. Take Raven Seldon for example. Instead of shooting me and defending what is his or paying few million ISK, instead, he encouraged me to commit child sexual abuse. And they say I'm the monster.

Too good to be true

In EVE, if it's too good to be true, it usually is. This applies to spotted market opportunities or a very juicy target that is just in front of your nose, but you can't quite believe it. And in most cases it turns out to be a bait. It's what happened when I've noticed suspect Proteus on undock. Suspect baiting is a common practice, but it is normally done in trade hubs or other popular areas. As I was 1 jump out from Dodixie, this felt strange. I was not in the rush to do anything close to the docking range, but while I was observing him he was slowboating away and was too far to return safely if I act now. I quickly swapped for my Brutix and went for it. Proteus did not show any signs of life.

I am not sure what purpose did this Proteus serve, but it sure melt down fast. I guess pilot went afk forgetting he was suspect while undocking. His pod stayed enough time even for my Brutix to lock it.

Ouch. Well, that was unexpected. I guess lucky for me that I was at the right place at the right time.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ninja Salvaging Series 2 - When anger clouds judgement

Mistakes were made

Let's start with a pop quiz question. See below pictures and try to make your best guess what has happened. Shall we?

We have Dominix tackled:

We have modules almost burnt out:

If you answered that this Dominix pilot decided to take a pot shot when I was far away, you might be on your way of better understanding a carebear psychology. When I was salvaging and looting, Domi was targeting me, but didn't feel like shooting me just yet. To help him decide better I moved to far out wrecks to do my salvaging. When he saw that I will not die as fast as npc frigates, he was too slow to warp out and resulted in getting caught. What do you think he would have to say for himself?

Sorin Istrate > hi
Zosius > Please transfer 200mil to my wallet
Sorin Istrate > what for... I attacked you by mistake
Sorin Istrate > i stoped

Ah, my bad good sir. I was not aware that your guns malfunctioned and shot me. Thank goodness that they stopped. What a coincidence that it was exactly the same time when I went under your guns and had you tackled.

Sorin Istrate > hi
Zosius > Please transfer 200mil to my wallet
Sorin Istrate > what for... I attacked you by mistake
Sorin Istrate > i stoped
Zosius > aha
Zosius > i know this
Zosius > mistakes are costly
Zosius > so that will be 200million
Zosius > how about it
Zosius > see my logi is repairing me
Zosius > hello!
Zosius > you there my friend?
Zosius > take care man
Zosius > it was correct all you did
Zosius > but should have aligned out to station
Zosius > when you saw me approach
Sorin Istrate > I was in an agent mission
Zosius > dont let this experience discourage you
Sorin Istrate > I never expected wrong company
Zosius > hehe
Zosius > eve is full of opportunities
Zosius > turst me

Isn't EVE amazing? You do your stuff, in your own little world, and suddenly someone uninvited comes and starts messing with your world?  I hope losing that Dominix was as exciting as it was for me killing it.

Anger management

Today's highlight is a story about Kronos. We were off a good start. I came to his mission and started shooting his mtu and salvage his wrecks. He, in turn, yellowboxed me.

Carebear stare always excites me. More often than not they choose to shoot me. It's like showing appreciation to the work we do. And we only want to do our job more diligently when this happens. He didn't shoot right away. Being a ninja means having a lot of patience. It passed good 10 minutes until he decided he had enough of me and unleashed his drones on me.

Now, breaking a Marauder with an assault frigate is no easy task. I usually opt for more risky option and try to swap for a bigger ship while carebear is in bastion mode. Thankfully this was not the case. Once my logi came on grid and started repping, Kronos went for him. Now, with two ships having engagement rights, things were about to become much more easy. I on purpose left another Orca and Augoror off grid. It was time to bring whole armada.

Now we are talking. Brutix was doing the job as expected. It was time for a conversation.

Zosius > 800mil ransom please

That's probably shortest conversation I've had so far. His tank was dropping, surely he should be interested in what I have to say? Perhaps offer him a way out? Dark Topaz liked to speak with actions and not words. So was he angry? Was he upset? How would he show his emotions? You would be surprised.

He spoke with his blasters and antimatter. He showed clearly of what he thinks about me and my Orca. Message received loud and clear. Too bad it was short lived. A 0.9 system is not a good system for suicide ganking and CONCORD came for intervention.

A poor man's Kronos went up in smoke. All t2 fit apart from dead space repair mode really felt this ship was mistreated. I would not even be surprised if it suddenly took over control and begged to be put out of his misery while guns blazing at my Orca.