Friday, April 23, 2021

Like good old days

The c4 wormhole I have been camping did not give a good feeling like I will get a target any time soon. I mean, it was rather clean, not too many anoms, but after observing locals for several days I just did not get the feeling, you know. Sometimes you know in your gut an opportunity will appear. Sometimes you don't. I decide to pack it up, but not before I say my goodbyes. I notice one of the local pilots is gas huffing.

Few pews later.

The quality of kills really went downhill fast. From an Orca to gas mining frigates. Well, that's just how it is sometimes.

After exploring for a bit I find a new home. A new c3 with a high-sec static. I do love watching high-sec statics. The activity in and out is always interesting and intriguing. Especially if the connection happens to be close to one of the trade hubs. A connection close Amarr and Jita is guaranteed to have some good traffic. You will often find someone running logistics.

Other times people are just passing through.

But once in a while, you will have a ship appear that will get you excited like nothing else.

I hear an activation and suddenly a beautiful, shiny Paladin shows up on an overview. If anyone wonders what's my reaction to such a sight, it usually looks like this:

There is a big difference between an expected target and something completely random. As I hear quite a few activations of random stuff flying, I just ignore it. Sometimes if a pod flies to high-sec I login my trader alt to keep an eye on what that pilot will undock, cargo, and ship scan for maximum intel. In this case, since it was Ares I did not think of doing that. Just figured a pilot was passing one way. Of course, I'm not available at my pc every minute, and often my ship drifts alone without me being at the keyboard, so I probably miss half the traffic. Just think how many Paladins I did not see go through my watched connections! Ignorance is truly bliss.

I straighten my posture and quickly try to get an angle where this Paladin warps. System has a lot of connections so I can't even pre-align like if it was only 1 or 2 connections. I manage to get a direction just before the Marauder disappears from an overview and initiate my trusty Proteus to follow.

I and trusty Proteus have been through a lot. While trusty, it aligns like a house of bricks. I land as the Paladin makes his jump. I follow. Lucky and Unlucky for me I am late and out of position.

I can't help but watch the Paladin warp off. Way out of scrambler range and basically entering warp as my screen finishes loading. This is the unlucky part, but now you ask why "Lucky"? Well, the pilot is from Almost Dangerous corp. A fairly active pvp corp with 300 members. In addition, I've seen their pilots go in and out of the high-sec for a good while. And if this Paladin is fit with anything but travel fit, it may tank enough time for the reinforcements to arrive. So I like to tell myself it was 50/50 between me losing everything and a shiny Marauder kill. Of course, I am not just gonna let a random Marauder pass without me trying to tackle it. Otherwise, what's even the point of all this? But Bob decided it was not the time.

Old School Cool

While no Marauder kills, Bob leads me to a wormhole where I find 2 Dominixes killing sleepers, old school style.

This is what I'm talking about. Who needs these fancy Triglavian ships or buffed op Marauders. Here are 2 spacewhale shaped battleships with spider tank and drones, existing since the beginning of time. A ship I am very familiar with as my first setup was triple boxing spider tanked Dominixes. I admire them for a bit and once I get into a position I decide to say hello. I give respect to these ships by bringing the full wrath of my fleet.

The fight is short but sweet. Both drone ships fall. The pilots panic so much, that they even scoop the mobile tractor unit while being slaughtered. Saves me the headache having to deal with it, but not like I expected any shiny modules on them to begin with.

I feel much better now. Grab what I can, shoot the wrecks, and warp off. I guess t1 battleship also shouldn't be downplayed anymore. With recent industry changes and new prices, it does feel like a good catch. Certainly better than a gas huffing frigate.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Resurrecting a cloaky smartbombing Proteus

I am no Shakspeare, but I do enjoy writing an occasional post about my adventures in wormhole space. Ok, occasional may be a generous word. Once in a blue moon is probably more fitting. Did you know blue moons come only about every two or three years? Yeah, just like my posts.

So the other day I was stalking my c3 wormhole with high-sec static. As you can imagine, I quite often get visited by explorers. As I mentioned, I made a strange fitting decision and fit a webifier instead of a sensor booster. Tengu is the only ship I sometimes need a webifier for. In all other cases, sensor booster is the smart choice as a few precious seconds gained in locking time can make all the difference between tackle and warp out. However, even with sensor booster, it's often hit or miss when trying to lock exploration frigates. I started thinking a little bit more about it. It would be best if I had no locking time at all. Why yes, I do speak about smartbombs. Cloaky smartbombing Proteus was not new, and actually quite prominent. Proteus and not other t3 as I have a soft spot for Gallente! Many people used it in k-space to smartbomb pods (maybe they still do?) while others used it in wormholes to kill those pesky exploration frigates. Some of my favourite wormhole blogs ran smartbombing "Protei". I, of course, speak about Bex and Trinkets friend. I hope you guys are doing well wherever you are!

Back to smartbombing Proteus. Several years ago, t3 changes killed the most common smartbommbing fits. I never thought much about it since. Until recently. Until I met a one pesky Astero. It all started the usual. I have all the sites prescanned and occasionally check d-scan to see if there's anything going on. I spot an Astero at one of the sites. I do my usual routine, warp to perch, get position and try to tackle. Of course the sisters' frigate escapes due to my long locking time, but instead of leaving the system he just goes back to the site. Again and again, like no fucks given about a Proteus trying to catch him. We do this dance maybe 5 more times until he finally gives up. The audacity of this pilot! I don't think my Proteus has ever been brushed away so lightly like a random shuttle passing through a high-sec gate.

I started looking around and found one interesting Reddit post with a smartbombing Proteus fit. I decided to give it a go. As I have some spare alts with few combat skills trained, I did a quick and dirty fit that I hastily put together.

Uploading: 76975 of 76975 bytes uploaded.

There are some fitting restrictions, but I just turn off the burst jammer for cpu and add a 5% power grid implant and I am all good to go. This bad buy does 280 dps, but there's just only one problem.

The capacitor lasts 15 seconds, which translates to 2 volleys. I am a bit sceptical a bit about how easy it will be to kill an Astero, but whatever. I park it in my home system and wait for a target to appear. 

It doesn't take too long and I do get an explorer visit me. The site is full of clutter and limited effective range of smartbombs makes it a challenge to get into a good position. But in the end I manage to align and time it right. I decloak and let off the smartbombs. Before I know it I hear repeat warnings of an empty capacitor, but my scrambler keeps the frigate in place. The Astero is in hull and I am out of juice to do anything. I barely get enough cap to keep a scrambler active and save enough spare juice to activate a smartbomb once in awhile. Man this is sad. The killing goes so slowly that I consider if I should bring my tackle Proteus and just get this over with. The frigate finally explodes.

While I do manage to kill the target, the whole ordeal did not go as I expected. First of all, the whole point of smartbombs is to kill a target before it has a chance to react. As I managed to lock and scram it, it kind of beat the whole point. The maths are clear that I can't kill an untanked Astero with 2 volleys and by the 3rd I get a lock anyways or the prey warps off. Anyways, I had to try it. I was kind of hoping to get any other ship than an Astero which the whole killing quick thing probably would have gone much more smoothly.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Never stick around

Not long after an Orca gank the system became unusually active. I notice some next-door neighbors getting busy shooting sleepers in my home.

Neighbors are from the connecting c4 as that's the wormhole I keep eyes on and get a glimpse of the Gnosis.

Well well well, what do you know. Same corp as the pilot's whose Orca I ganked. Just happened to decide to do some farming in my system. In a Hyperion. Yea, I don't buy it. I let my dear neighbors farm sleepers to their heart's content.

W-Space life continues

I continue to chill in my uninhabited c3. I want to move to another system, but decide to just stick around a little while longer. Since it has a high-sec static, I want to see if I can find a tourist doing some sleeper sites. As usual, if you stay long enough observing the system and wormholes you can see interesting things. Life goes on, ships fly around and I can't help but imagine stories in my head on what these people are up to. Sometimes I see small fleets ready for some pvp business.

Other times freebie battleships and industrials pass around.

There will also be situations where visiting farming fleets will clean out my home system to the last anomaly.

Good for these guys organizing a fleet to shoot some sleepers. Unfortunately, T1 cruisers don't really get me that excited. With my home system clear of anomaly sites, there's little chance of getting a tourist. I have to put more emphasis on looking at connecting systems. I jump into an active c2 connection. While d-scan shows wrecks, no ships are on sight. I do a blanked combat probe scan and detect 2 ship signatures. When I get in range I only see a Stratios. Another blanked scan reveals only one ship now. I guess whatever was going on I missed it. Well almost. For some reason Stratios is in the direction of the wrecks. Perhaps there was an attempted gank? It's a cosmic signature and not an anomaly, which means I have to scan it down to get a visual. I narrow down a precise location with a d-scan and do a quick sneaky scan. Hopefully, pilots don't check their d-scan too often. I get a hit! It's a data site and everything starts to make sense. The site is cleared of sleepers and Stratios is doing final hacking activities. Since it's a c2 I don't expect a very shiny ship clearing anomalies and decide to just go for the Stratios while I still have a chance.

Got him! Probably my Proteus could be enough to kill it, but I decide to bring my whole fleet. Not taking any chances since it's their home system. And besides, Stratios only need one neutralizer to make my Proteus harmless rather quick. The ship explodes. A cool 600mil pimped cruiser

I'll take it, thank you very much! I collect the loot, take it to high-sec and make a contract to ship to the nearest hub. While it's not much, the last thing I want is to become a loot pinata myself. Besides, I fully expect to lose my fleet so any ISK I get will contribute to a replacement!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Good start is half the work

While a year ago my corp got evicted, it didn't take us long to resettle back into our home system. Unfortunately, it also didn't last and at the end of last year, the decision was taken to shut down the corp. This left an open question what I should do next? I was not ready to just jump to another corp and it so happened that I got quite big new responsibilities IRL - I became a dad. Finally, I am qualified to make all those terrible dad jokes. So I decided to take it easy, stay in the corp, focus on my newborn son, and just see how it all goes.

Fast forward six months and I decided to log back just to breathe in some of that imaginary (?) EVE universe smell and perhaps update my training queue which I guarantee has been expired at least within a couple of characters, but I couldn't be arsed to keep tabs on. For some reason I keep my accounts subbed, even if I don't actively play. The way I see it, it's my cigarette tax. Since I don't smoke, I get all that extra money to splurge.

Going back to basics

I decided that instead of sitting in stations I can sit in space. After all, I am the cloaky bastard and there's not much cloaking going on when docked. I update my ancient pyfa version and start brainstorming and can already feel the excitement of coming up with my new hunting fits. So far my tools of choice have been a Proteus and 3 Nestors. I think it's a solid group that is quite versatile. Proteus will still remain my signature heavy tackle ship and there's really no need for big changes of my current fit. I really would love an extra mid or low slot. I consider giving up the Interdiction Nullifier sub-system, but then I remember all those close calls I had when bubbled, and decide it's not worth the stress. In addition, Proteus brings solid 500 dps to the table, which is nothing to scoff at for a cloaky tackle ship.

The weak link, however, I believe is the Nestors. 3 Nestors with spider tank can really help me take on multiple targets and sleepers. It's proven and tested in most engagements I had. Nevertheless, I do recognize that DPS is actually the weak link and usually time is not on my side. Key of my strength is to catch victims unaware and kill them before they get a chance to reorganize and fight back with a proper fleet. Nestor's do roughly 600 dps each and that's with 2 drone damage mods. It's really low. Combined power of 3 Nestors and a Proteus is usually enough to crack most ships defenses, mostly thanks to heavy neutralizers, but it can be slow progress for very tanked ships like passive Rattlesnakes or Marauders. Speaking of Marauders, I found out that they received a buff and now basically do double DPS. They have been scary to take on before, but now I am really worried. Given how Marauders have 2-3 cap batteries fitted, I might not live long enough for a kill to happen. I might need to forgo taking on more than 1 Marauder at a time. If someone has suggestions on the best combo to withstand duo Marauder setup, feel free to suggest in the comments.

Back to DPS subject. I decided to do one key change and replace a Nestor with a Leshak. The Leshak fits quite well into my spider tank setup. It can fit 2 cap transfers and a repair module. I will lose tank overall, especially if one of the Nestors is focused, but I am close to doubling my overall DPS. Besides, if the Leshak is focused, I still get the full power of 2 Nestors repping power. This change just makes sense and I can't wait to test it in practice.

Lucky catch

Multiboxing spider tank setup with drone ships is really hard. I haven't done it in a long time. I am rusty as hell and I am sure I will fail at a lot of micromanaged stuff. So before I go to c4s I decide to camp a c3 with HS static. I might get a random battleship or a t3c as target practice.

As expected from a wormhole with HS static, I do get quite few explorers. I play around with an Astero which managed to escape, but still tries to do sites 5 times more despite me actively trying to get him. Decloaking the Proteus and waiting for a lock on a frigate is a painfully long time. I also realize there's no reason for me to fit a webifier instead of a sensor booster.  In a few days of me camping the system, I miss out on a lot of activities. Sites get cleared when I am logged off and evenings mostly result in just me sitting in an empty and clean system. Until now.

I get a c4 connection inhabited by Szescienna-Geometria. A small corp, not really a big of a threat, but history shows they can put a fleet together I could struggle fighting solo. The system is clean and I see a Venture with Prospect clearing the few gas sites that remain. History shows some rather expensive Rattlesnake losses and I consider of moving in, but decide against it. A gut feeling more than anything. System is rather small and it would be hard to log in to my ships without being noticed. Instead, I decide to remain in a c3 and instead park my scout on the c4 connection and go mind my business.

I hear an activation sound. A quick glimpse reveals a ship I haven't seen in a long time. An Orca! 

I panic. I did not expect an Orca! My brick Proteus is not aligned and I am not sure I can get into position for a tackle fast enough, despite speed picking up very slowly. Every second I delay is a second lost. I decide not to risk it and just stay put, but now my interest is piqued. I watch the Orca warp to a HS static and park my Proteus on watch duty.

While waiting I see a Praxis and a Gnosis do sleeper sites. Thankfully my fleet is logged in and off d-scan. I ponder if the ship will come back. What kind of goodies were inside? Is someone from neighbors next door moving stuff out? Was the Orca on a one-way trip? The questions we may never find answers to. Or will we? I hear a jump. The Orca appears. I keep my cool. I initiate warp first to 10 and set my Proteus on a 5km orbit. I do not want to reveal myself just yet. The plan is to let the Orca jump, initiate warp while I jump after. It should be enough time to approach him even if my position is bad and if Orca enters warp I won't need to wait for the cloak timer to expire or worse, search an empty space if he has cloak fitted. When I see the Orca is on the grid I pre-warp my fleet. The fat ship lands and jumps in. I wait an extra second for it to disappear and hopefully for a new system to render for the unsuspecting pilot before I go after him. I jump. The Orca is on the overview and only 14km off. I quickly burn and tackle. Meanwhile, the fleet lands, and I jump everyone in and start the party.

The big whale is surrounded and nowhere to go. I unleash everything I have and soon enough I see a beautiful explosion which I believe CCP has bumped the visuals up a notch since the last time I saw an Orca explode.

While cargo disappointedly has ore in it (wtf?) I am still very happy with the catch. There's always something special about catching the big whale ship. I am also pleased to see my new addition to the fleet - the Leshak did 50% of the damage like a boss. Since I am in a good mood I decide to chat up the pilot and see if I can find out more about this whole situation.

Pooz Gogiko took the loss well like a champ and did not seem to be bothered by it at all. It seems it was the first flight for this new ship and the trip probably did not end as the owner thought it would end. Kudos to him and let's hope that his next Orca flight will be as eventful as this one.