Sunday, June 11, 2017

Activity update

It's been over two months since I joined Mass Collapse. Recently I was told I "passed" the trial period and became a full member. I was not really aware of the trial, but nevertheless, I was a little surprised. Surprised, because I haven't been most active member. I've been on what you can call - EVE vacation. Logging here and there, participating in some fleets, but far from daily activity. I've literally had 3 weeks without shooting anything. I felt bad as Mass Collapse is a great corp and I should definitely contribute more, but I'm very happy they decided to keep me around.

As you might remember, I started up some trading again. On and off, but managed to earn around 40 billions in 2 months time until my motivation died again. I am utilizing free trading hubs for lower taxes, but they get destroyed and it's a pain to reenlist items. Using main station is too expensive as for my trading strategy (low margins) I can't compete with ones in free hubs. Anyway, the point is, that something happened. I was ganked. You might think what's the big deal? Well, not really a big deal, however I never afk haul and I use blockade runners that are immune to cargo scanners. I have Tornadoes on my overview and If there's a risk, I cloak up. However, the way I was ganked was very unexpected. I got suicide tackled before I could enter warp. At first I was quite confused on what's going on as no ships showed up on overview. Only half through shield, I realized what's happening. Fortunately, I lost only 2 billion, which was day's work at the time. If I come after a break, I can haul much more than that.

I know using blockade runners is not most secure. It's risky, but I liked that they stay sort of under the radar, have cargo space and are fast. You can't scan the cargo and it reduces the risk to be "watchlisted", and if you don't afk and keep an eye on overview for Tornadoes, it's quite safe. I've been hauling this way for many years without an incident. Gankers were dedicated HS hauler gankers. It was not a personal attack. Regardless, I decided to change up. Now all my stuff will be hauled only in transport Tengus. It's a bit annoying, since I have few larger materials like large smartbombs, that I can't always fit in, but It's either that, or risk more ganks.


My latest addiction has been with Gwent. It's a card game that I used to play in Witcher 3. It's very fun and addictive. I've never played any card games before, but I enjoy real board games. I knew about HearthStone and that some people had a blast with it, but I never wanted to start it, as I knew how greedy Blizzard is and that I won't have time to invest to fully enjoy and build decks without investing a fortune. Gwent, however, is very different. Or so I heard from people in Reddit, but so far I am very happy with the progress I'm making. Also, because it's made by CDPR, Witcher 3 creators, I feel a need to contribute. I can't express how much enjoyment Witcher 3 gave me. I still haven't even finished the Blood and Wine expansion . I also tremendously enjoyed Gwent quests there. How can I not support this project? I highly recommend to give it a shot. It's still in Open Beta, so timing is perfect.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Back to civilization

It's been over a couple a weeks since I left my cave a.k.a. isolated in wormholes and joined another cave, only this time full of people. In other words, I found a corp. I have joined Mass Collapse. In truth, I've been scouting recruitment forum and have been eyeing different wormhole corps for awhile. I was even considering if I should go to low-sec or should I, gasp, try null. But then I remembered that every time I was stationed in k-space, I was always scouting wormhole connections. It's who I am.

So why Mass Collapse? Well, surprisingly, out of many wormhole corps, they really fit the bill of what I was looking for. Here are some of the main points:

  • Purely EU focused with no split timezones.
  • Just the right size. Not too big and not too small (~80 members)
  • Scouts get the gank loot (up to 500mil with the rest going to corp's SRP fund)
  • C4 home system with c4/5 statics which results in great chains.

The C4 home system was one of deciding factors. In my previous corp I was living in a c5 and it was a real hassle to find action or gank targets. You would have never ending c5 chains. Now it's a perfect balance between rolling into active corps that live in higher classes and finding gank targets in lower classes. Not to mention ease of logistics, with high-sec often being 2-3 jumps out.

Of course within first day of joining, I managed to miss a dreadnought kill. Despite all points mentioned above, by far the most important are the people. The corp's culture is relaxed, no stress and is all about having fun. One thing I have noticed though, there's not much farming going on. Some folks have null-sec ratting alts and some earn ISK by finding targets and getting the gank loot. Of course, since we live in a c4, we have great opportunity to do solo farming for ones who are interested. I haven't shot a sleeper in many years. And now I hear drifters are there fuck you up without you engaging them. It's quite funny, after doing solo wormhole ganking for so long, there are so many new things to learn. I still fly my trusty Proteus and already managed to find my first target. I can't tell how it is relaxing to have a fleet do the killing rather than multiboxing 5 ships.


Speaking of earning ISK, I decided to brush the dust off of my trader accounts. Since I haven't lost that many ships, I didn't need much ISK. My main accounts are paid for. It's been more than 2 years since I last did any trading. I had quite a lot of savings (around 300 bil) and now it seems I'm left with half of that.

A lot has changed. Of course PLEX prices went up again. Soon we will think 1billion was a nice price to have. Anyway, one of biggest things to get used to was the citadels. I got very upset, when I found out that my standings, which have been grinded with pain and tears, mean shit. You start with 3% broker fee and best you can do is shave it off to 2%, which is still insanely high. My traded items are always low margin (I undercut hard). So while I spent a lot of hours doing COSMOS and other missions, some fresh trader can use the nearest citadel and have better rates than me. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but it's not like I could do anything about it.

I've setup my remote buy orders at the free trading citadels at 0% tax. I don't understand why so many people still use Jita. There's literally almost no reason not to use the citadels, apart from little inconvenience. I guess laziness is a powerful thing and it took me also a good time to get used to it. However, most of my items are in 2-3% profit margin neighborhood.

I consolidated my capital from 6 to 3 traders and setup around 160bil buy orders. Then updating once a day, I undercut aggressively to the point where some items went from 20% margin to 2-4%. Some people can critique me, but that's my strategy to fight bots and 0.01 ISKers. So far I have been very happy with my returns. I topped at 2.6 billion profit on Saturday. Of course I don't have possibility to update daily. If I can manage 500mil/day profit on average without investing too much time, I would be quite happy.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Taking a break

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Finding the treasure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

When you hope your dreams won't come true

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Living with the consequences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparation is key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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