Sunday, June 14, 2015

Utilizing full potential

Choosing the right wormhole

In my last post I wrote how I've settled-in in a new home. There are many factors I consider when choosing the system to stalk in. I've talked about it before, but let me follow up on it. In the past, I used to rely a lot on NPC kill statistics. I looked for a place with steady farming activity. That is no longer possible, so I have to be a bit more creative. I often look at the size of the corporation, how active is their killboard. Are they pure farming corp, pvp or mixed? I look at the prime time, when most kills and losses happen. My stalking window is quite limited due to full time job and other activities. Last thing I want is to stalk US/AU only timezone that never logs when I'm on. Though sometimes I do exceptions. I can stalk different tz corps on free weekends or if potential kill is of high value.

Generally I prefer to live in c3-c4 level wormholes. It's ideal niche for small-medium corps, that don't require fleets to run sites and only it takes sometimes is just a little bit of love for your ship to run effectively. Such pimped ships is what I am after. That is in ideal case. Mostly I am happy even with T2 fitted ships. Getting a t3 or faction cruiser or a battleship is always rewarding.

Stalking is an art

Some people might think that stalking is no brainer. Just cloak up and wait for an opportunity. While that is a main activity, there is much more to it. I believe a proper stalking requires experience, awareness and good intuition. While some ganks are indeed straight forward, there are situations where you have to take a gamble and improvise. Check out Havlac Agalder's post at The Flying Target. It's a good example of one of those situations. You always have to remember that you are not only with eyes and ears. Someone have eyes on you just as easy. I always ask myself: "have I been spotted? What are the chances that my cover is blown?". "Should I check out nearby connections and risk exposing myself?". Making right decisions is what maximizes your chances.

Speaking of intuition, I had one telling me that I should stick around in this new home. Usually, once I get a kill, I don't expect to get another. Either locals will be cautious or I will be hitting a bait. There are exceptions. My gut was telling me that there's still something to gain. Before calling it a day, I do one final sweep of surrounding systems. I end up in low-sec. I see an Arbitrator on scan. A cruiser doesn't really interest me that much. I check out any active connections, but there doesn't seem to be any activity. I go back to this Arbitrator. He seems to be somewhere in space, doing mission, I guess. Without hiding my intentions, I drop out probes and start scanning. If he bothered to check d-scan once a minute, he would have noticed combat probes, which often mean hostile intentions.

I watch him finish off last npc. I was reluctant to go after him, until I got into point and web range. He is 50km from warp in. He doesn't look to be warping out, so I decide to go for him. I decloak and get a possitive lock. I bring only one Domi as it's not worth wasting space fuel for all of them.

He goes down fairly fast. I'm not particularly proud with such kills. It's not that cruiser is cheap. It's the fact that I don't try to put any effort in catching them, such as trying to get a 100% hit in one scan, but I end up catching them anyway. Kudos for people going out to low-sec, but not taking basic precaution measures is just asking for your ship to get killed. 

Waiting game

I continue to stalk same wormhole for next couple of days. It feels strange. My gut told me to stick around, but I have another feeling coming up, that something is wrong, The corp I'm stalking, I have most of it's members on watch list. Though I see them log in, they don't do anything. That is nothing out of the ordinary. The strange part was, that there always was one guy on-line. He could not be seen nowhere in system, but he was on. My locator also confirmed that he was in unknown space and not just traveling somewhere in empire. 

It was the time, when I started asking myself questions. Did I expose myself on one of the jumps? While first gank might seem random, same pilot seen in the same system next day will definitely ring warning bells. That is why I try to be extra stealthy, not to scout if I can help it and just keep myself busy with activities outside EVE.

My stalking seemed to be going nowhere. I decided to give one last day and start looking for new home. Suddenly I see an Astero on scan. I go check him out and find him running the sites. I go for it.

I got him tackled, but my smartbombs can't seem to break his tank. Not fast enough at least. I bring in one Domi to finish the job. Pod warps off, I scoop the loot and shoot the wreck. Domi goes back to safe spot and I cloak up. No evidence of violence.

My moment

Turns out, Astero was just a starter to get my appetite going. I see locals logging in. I check the tower and see a Rattlesnake and a Noctis, which swaps for a Raven.

You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention. They don't seem to waste any time either. Not doing a system sweep or check surrounding wormholes. I see Rattlesnake moving and warp to a Relic site. I follow. Once in position, I pre-warp my Domi fleet. System is large and it will take a long time for them to get there. It's my way of minimizing time for secondary tackle, in case they have jamming drones. It also carries a risk. If suddenly pilot decided to warp back to tower, my cover would be blown. Thankfully, this is not the case. I tackle the Rattle.

This is it. This is what I have been waiting for. Rattlesnake is the real reason I'm here. Time for the end game. I thought Raven was staying at the tower, but I am pleasantly surprised when I see him land on grid.

Please do come in. There are points for everyone. I tackle and split my dps. Sleepers, that were interested in my Proteus, decided to go after Raven instead. It exploded before his partner.

And soon Rattlesnake followed in his steps.

Over 700mil of damage done. Approved by loot fairy, I got a faction shield amplifier. which is basically whole drop value. It's a good gank. I'm glad I followed my intuition and decided to stick around. Watching these guys for a couple of days to make my move is what makes this kill special. Special to me. It's not about ISK, it's about the hunt. It's time to move on and look for a new home. Or is it?

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