Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The scanner, darkly

     I don't have a ton of SP in scanning skills.  In fact, after actually looking, it turns out I don't even have Astrometrics 4, which in turn is why I don't have Astrometric Pinpointing, which in turn, in turn, is likely why I can't find an object the size of a planet, even if my ass is stapled to it.  I do have the other two skills to level 3 though.  That lack of skillage is currently being addressed, as I now have Astrometrics 4 in the oven, and then I'll plop pinpointing in the oven in a couple days.

     As sometimes annoyingly frustrating as it is to locate things with scanning at my current level, I still get a smile when I manage to hit 100% on an object.  Prior to this, I was focusing mainly on grav sites or my mining exploits, which is funny because it's really really hard, if not impossible, to nail down a high sec grav site with three level 3 skills in astrometrics.  I could find worm holes easy enough, but truth be told, I was sort of too scared to venture into them.  Now however, for the last few days, I have been taking my beloved spelunking Harby, anywhere and everywhere I can find, and in low sec too!

     With the 2nd, back to back war dec, and the new war targets mainly playing station games again, I headed down to a low sec area where they generally weren't going, and decided to start laying out a bunch of cardinal bookmarks, on all the gates and stations, in three or four systems.  Makes for some time consuming work, and makes for about 18 bookmarks per object (not to mention deep safes and off grid asteroid scan points), but it also makes for lots of places to be safe . . ish.  I wasn't going to attempt to slow boat in a Harby, so I did it all in a juiced up Firetail.  After I had all the bookmarks in place, then I went out with the Harby.

     The Harby is fairly gimped fit but I use it for scanning, so I put a decoder, hacker, salvager, tractor, cloak and a probe launcher on it.  I have two scanning booster rigs on it, and Sisters' launcher and probes, so I think it works pretty well - not optimum perhaps, but it hasn't died.  Being a fan of Jack-of-all-trades, like me, what I should do is make a devoted scanning Anathema, then come out with a Harby that has more trimarks, for more of a tank.  I still might do that in the next couple days.  Part of the thing I don't like is flying a ship out to scan, and then coming back to get another boat to actually run the site.  Probably fairly lazy considering it's only a few minutes to do the switch.  I might drop the tractor and add another gun to the harby as well because with a MWD, it can scoot along at about 800m/s.

     At any rate, I scanned down a wormhole in the one low-sec system I was in.  It was a K162 so I knew it was an exit, and it seemingly had lots of life left and only led into unknown space.  Plan was, jump through, assess the situation and get ready to burn back and jump if need be.  Bookmarks all around, and no one was on the other side.  I burned away from the hole, launched probes, and cloaked up while still running.  I moved the probes deep off to the side away from everything and looked up the system.  A class 2 with no activity in the last 48 hours.  Cool.  I tried to scan down some sites but I just didn't seem to have the scanning horsepower to fully resolve any of the signatures.  Another more obvious reason for a pure scanner boat.  So, I started warping to the planets to see what was laying around.  At full scan, I was getting lots of information, but no ships.  I hit F11, clicked the planets in the little window and and selected "align" to each of the moons to scan them with a narrow beam.  There's likely a better way, but if it needs more finesse, I likely can't do it right now.  I found a couple anchored towers, no batteries or arrays, but I saw a few more with shields up and I wasn't going to play chicken with them.  I saw one fully kitted out with missiles - tsk tsk (apparently a POS design faux pas) :)  I was hoping to find a tower with no shields and maybe be able to un-anchor and salvage some stuff, but nothing came up.  Warped to a close celestial, scanned the hole - clear, and left the hole.  Fun, but not very fruitful.  Also not as scary as I had imagined, but I've done a lot of WH blog reading, so I had some defencive plans ready.  :)

     I scanned down a couple more sites in the low-sec system, keeping an eye on local and keeping the Dscan fresh.  I picked up some small T2 BPs and a couple decryptors, so I was fairly happy as a new scanner.  Finished them up, looted and salvaged the rat wrecks, and thought I'd stop by the lone belt and see if there were any rats to pop.  2 frigates and a BS - sweet.  Rolled in on them under MWD, popped the frigates, and set the hobs on the BS as I got back into range with my pulses.  As I was orbiting the BS tightly, I was tractoring and salvaging the other two wrecks.  I was still alone in the system when I started burning towards the BS wreck and tractoring it at the same time.  Local just went up by one.  Dscan showed no boats or players in range.  I looted the wreck, aligned to station still with the tractor beam on and the salvager, and recalled drones.  A Claw landed at about 20km out, started to yellow box me, and then dropped point as I started to initiate warp.  Nice.  Too late.

     Knowing it was a frigate, but not the nature of it, I could see that he was staying at about 15km and orbiting fast - faster than my lasers could track effectively.  I was obviously not going to warp anywhere, so I started looking at my pretty T2 BPOs, considering my options and started weeping softly as the thought of me losing my first "official" scanning booty was starting to poke its way into my thoughts.  I couldn't see a way to manage to get away from him as he seemed faster than me, and I figured he should take a while to burn through ~30K EHP at the rate he was going, so I decided to go for offence, as I had no real other choice.  No point, only a web that I likely wasn't going to get close enough for, so, time to employ anything I could remember from all the PVP blogs I've read.  Bear in mind, for any seasoned PVP player this was likely no kind of threat at all, seeing as how I was flying a Harby, but this is solo PVP fight #2 for me.

     So, first thing, put the drones back out - I had 10 Hob 2s to send at him.  Confirm I had standard crystals so I could hit him at about 15km, pan the camera out so I could see better, shut off the salvager and tractor beam, and hit the MWD.  I saw the drones starting to do some light damage on top of the little I'd already done to his shields, but they were only about 1/3 gone.  I saw the direction he was orbiting at, so manually flew towards a point of intercept to cut the transversal.  My pulse lasers liked that :)  They showed my how much they liked that by very quickly turning 1/3 shield damage into 100% shield and 1/3 armour damage.  By the time he warped out, he was nearly out of armour and I was about 5% into mine, which I easily repped back.  I recalled all 5 of my Hobs, and figured I'd finish trying to salvage my BS wreck.  The salvager had to run 2 or 3 cycles to get the wreck and in all the hijinks, I had drifted into the belt, so I was heading back out so I could warp off.  Back comes our little friend in the Claw.  He messaged me in local he was going to try a different transversal as he locked me up again.  ?  Ok, but I was going to try something a little different too.  :)

     My armour was full and my shield was coming back up too, so I aimed at about half way to the edge of the screen and hit my MWD.  I typed "ok :)" in local and released the hounds Hobs again.  Emboldened by the last meeting, I was going on the offense this time, still only two of us in local, and as he had locked me up and scrammed me already, the only way out was going to be to take him out or drive him off, and hope he didn't have a friend in the next system, or close by.  I don't know if he was orbiting or using "keep at", but he could accelerate faster than the fat ass of my Harby so he managed to JUST keep out of web range.  I figured if I could get good speed going, and web him, I might be able to pop his ass with my multifrequency and Hobs before he could get away this time.  I sliced across sideways, all slicey like a fat Harby can slice, as I was close to web range while he was going from my 12 o'clock to my 9.  He was doing very little damage this time and I was doing more damage, and faster, than last time.  Very early on, he warped off, with about as much damage as last time, and he hadn't even touched my armour yet.  It was getting close to time to log, so I gave him a gf in local and headed a couple systems over to log.  I was a happy camper capsuleer.

     After looking up the stats of the frigate, he was either as much of a pvp noob as I, or he had a lot of balls.  I don't know what kind of pilots either player would need to be for a Claw to take out a Harby solo, but I imagine a reasonably competent pvp pilot could have popped the Claw with the same kind of resources I had, and done it quickly using only the webber and MWD with the pulse lasers and Hob 2s.  I imagine maybe a good pvp pilot in the Claw and a noob in the Harby could have ended up with the Harby popping instead.  I don't know.  On the first engagement, I was excited and my hands were shaking from adrenaline.  On the 2nd one, I was definitely pumped up, but I had a quick plan ready, so not so much shaking.  I'm not bummed that I didn't pop him, I'm just pleased he wasn't able to pop me.

The Point?  Well, a couple.  1)  Time to go make an Anathema and pin it for scanning duties, b)  keep watching local and spamming the Dscan, and c) start paying more attention when local rises and already be aligned to something.

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