Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh CCP fleet, oh babay, baabayyy . .

"What ho, Chauncy!  Methinks another pack of scoundrels comes hither."

"T'would appear so, Merril."

"It would be quite spiffy this time, if a rather large epeen group of blaggards decides not to hot drop the universe on them, like last time, anon."

"Indubitably, Merril, indubitably."

     Our CEO talks like this.  I find it quite . . . "fancy".  :)  So anyway, there was this:

"Deep space surveillance networks picked up unusual high band electromagnetic activity during the last few days from the general direction of the 9RW5-Z constellation. Scientists believe the Polaris system to be the center of these emissions after incorporating baseline interferometry across several regions. These emissions might indicate increased activity in the mysterious system during the upcoming weekend, or they might be just be bursts of random energy. Deep space intelligence experts are said to have picked up fragments of a secret code hidden within these emissions which could be deciphered as “cc.sup.lye.avan.”

Several respectable research institutions discarded these conclusions as probably nothing more than artifacts from pink noise emissions or simply a clever scheme to fish for attention and research grants. Deep space explorers and adventures remain intrigued by the phenomena and monitoring continues on many fronts."

Aaaand, then this:

"Last night it was reported that “Deep space surveillance networks picked up unusual high band electromagnetic activity during the last few days from the general direction of the 9RW5-Z constellation” and reliable sources have told us that this is not just a bit of background space radiation.

A few of us have heard that there will be a convoy of yet undetermined ships types transporting high value goods as well as protecting important CCP devs. We do not know the exact time the convoy will leave, but all signs point to this happening very soon.

CCP Tenitigo, CCP Paradox and I will be spying for more information around the office, see what else we can find out."

Aaaallrighty, then!  High value goods?  Tsk tsk.  They really should know better than transporting such things through hostile space.  After all, they made the damn game.  It's almost as if they were INTENTIONALY trying to get their shit blown up.  I'm going to see if I can make it to this little shin-dig, seeing as how I missed the last one.  I'll be needing a couple PLEXies soon, so maybe I can scoop one or five out of the cold and the black that is Eve space.  Maybe I can get a dev corpse to add to my collection too.  Minty!

But shhhhh!  Don't tell anyone . . .

EDIT:  Mabrick may have deduced as good of a cypher key as anyone out there which might be the location of the fleet arrival. 

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.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Low-Sec Piratez: Why no protection rackets?

     With the advent of the new player owned customs offices (POCOs), I would think this is an outstanding opportunity to get some passive income for the pirate organizations.  Even before Crucible, pirates could have been passively earning money from carebears, supplementing their pirating income off the hard work and sweat of some bears and that would help take a load off their cash flow issues and balance sheet woes.  How?

     In short, it could be easily accomplished, ok, perhaps not "easily", but it could be accomplished by any pirate organization out there in low-sec, if their corp/alliance size matched the size of their area of influence and their motivation.  In essence, it's the same thing that big null-sec sovereignty holders do to their vassals and renters, only without the issues of worrying about sovereignty structures and all the money involved with holding it.

     As a player who also likes to mine on top of missions and PVP, I would like to go mine in low-sec, but as it's tough to get alliance/corp combat support, it usually doesn't happen much.  If a pirate corp was pretty well controlling a system, and was charging miners who would like to mine, a weekly "protection fee" for being set to blue, the pirates could gain passive income for merely letting people mine in the same system.  This service could be sold to individuals, or corps, and making the service individual means solo players could mine and even mission in the system(s) without them having to worry about organizing their corp to come along.  If no miners are coming into the pirate's low sec system because they don't want to get popped - the pirates aren't making money from looting or salvaging any wrecks.  If players can pay for safe passage, there is an income source that didn't exist at all before, and all that has to be done on the part of the pirate, is to not shoot them.  So, before - no one to shoot - no isk.  After, still no one to shoot - no isk, BUT blue indies - free isk.

     With the new POCOs, the pirates can do exactly the same thing with PI.  In the pirate system, all the pirates have to do is go along, pop all the customs offices and put up their own.  From what I understand, the customs fees go to the people that own the POCO.  They  might even be able to set the customs fees to a custom level, as in lower than NPC taxes, which would encourage more carebears to PAY to be set to blue so they could do PI.  So, any planet that has PI on it, the pirates can simply message the owners and explain the new PI rules to them. They pay to be set to blue, just like any miner or mission runner, PLUS, the pirate gets the cash from their PI transactions too.

     Now, likely the first thing that will pop into the small minds of the epeen crowd, is that it won't be fun to set people to blue, because then you can't shoot them, or aren't supposed to shoot them.  That would be correct, but that isn't a problem.  Why?  Because you're being PAID not to shoot them.  It's a free ransom that didn't cost you anything to get.  That then leaves the pirate free to jump to other systems looking for targets, or, to stay in system, and shoot the people who have come in to shoot the people under your "protection".  You'd also likely get the opportunity to shoot the people coming in to take out your POCOs too.  Now, if a pirate corp started getting enough members to start taking over, or controlling more than one system, that is not only more PVP opportunities to protect your systems, but it is also more passive isk.  The more your corp tries to control, the more opportunities for isk and the more for pvp to take and then defend that area.  If there is more than just one pirate corp in the area, with this protection and extortion model in operation, then there will be pirate turf wars.  More pvp.

     So how is this protection racket enforced?  Simple.  You do what you do now - shoot anyone that isn't blue OR you use the opportunity to strike a deal and create a new customer.  Before you pop their boat, you explain the deal, and they can start paying you right then and there.  Once they are a client, if they are late on a payment, you pop their boat, as a warning, and let their pod go.  They get a day to sort their shit out, or they lose their blue status.  Now, obviously, this means that a couple people will need to keep track of who to set to blue and who has paid.  If this duty is offloaded to a few corp members, ones that are smart enough to see the value, it's easy enough to keep track of, especially for the income it could garner for the corp.

     So what EVER could a pirate corp be able to do with EXTRA isk?  Isk subsidies for active pilots.  Partial or full ship replacement programs for the pirate corp members.  Replacement POCOs for ones that are lost, or to expand into new areas.  I imagine there are a lot of things that extra sources of isk income could be used for in a pirate corp.

     So like just about every other idea I've ever had, it isn't original.  I don't read any Eve related fora much, but I can't believe no one has suggested or tried this, or is doing this.  This model has worked for centuries, in real life, and is exactly how gangs and the mafia work in real life, and they make MILLIONS.  For any small minded, epeen pirate who claims they're not interested in any of this "carebear bullshit", their under developed minds are missing the reality that for the vast majority of a pirate corp, all they need to do is NOT shoot a player to get paid.  If they need to wield their epeen so badly, they can always jump next door to find someone to shoot while blues in their own system are paying the pirates to leave them alone.

     So many people point out and/or complain that low sec is broken, and it is.  The pirates shoot everyone, then no one wants to play in low sec, and then the pirates whine that no one wants to play in low sec.  Duh.  So here's a chance to fix low sec.  For the vast majority of pirates, it requires no effort.  It doesn't require any brilliant coding or balancing efforts.  It doesn't need any input from CCP at all.  Pirate corps can start doing it,  riiiight . . . now!  Wow.  That easy.  It's just a matter of changing a pirate's mindset, because for real world pirates, they did, and still do, the EXACT SAME THING.  They take people that are going about their daily business and say "If you pay me money every week, I WON'T fuck you up.  If the pirates in a system aren't utilizing any of the sites, or belts or missions or rats, why not grab a clue and let people PAY YOU so THEY can use them?  Let carebears in to mission, mine and do PI, and let them pay you so you won't shoot them.  Pirates can still be pirates and be smart.  Pirates can still be pirates and have just a smidge of honour.

The Point?  Are any pirates running protection rackets, if not, why?  It's free isk.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Plan: Amended

     The slow, steady accumulation of skill points continues, and mostly in the direction intended.  With the inclusion of incursions in my Eve life, it added a couple other "distractions" to the training cue that weren't really intended or anticipated.

     Regardless, R&D is going forward nicely with 3 of the toons.  Two of the new toons will be taking ~2 weeks to train up to level 4 in the R&D skills so they can utilize their level 4 agents.  When time permits, they'll continue slowly skilling up their core skills to match the others, and right now they are topping off their ice harvesting, as well as doing missions for the Sisters of Eve.

     My main is finishing up getting at least all level 4s across the board for battleship skills to help flying Incursions.  With the war decs currently going on, there's ample time to train skills and spend the rest of the time in PVP fleets or doing low sec bookmarking, sites and ratting in areas where the war targets seemingly don't like to come near.  Once that training is done, he'll go to level 4 in his hulk and then get cruiser 5 so I can go get a Legion.  The Legion will fit very nicely both with my Incursion and site running, and with my scanning.

     My main alt is finishing up her BS skills so that I can still run Incursions when the other toon(s) is/are in a war dec, and then she'll be going for the month long warfare link spec 5 - then only one more month long skill to go and she's got perfect Orca.  After that, I'll add a few more skills and levels to her research and manufacturing skills.

     2nd alt is also finishing up her BS skills for Incursion flexibility.  She'll also get basic Orca pilot skills but first, she'll head toward flying logistics boats for support.  She'll also get trained in more manufacturing and research skills as needed.  My brother's toon is also finishing up the BS skills and will be more combat oriented, like my main is.

     All the toons can, and have, BPOs being researched for ME and PE.  I have tons of ore, literally, and lots of salvaged items, so I'm starting to make my own ammo and modules.  I'd like to get a hold of some Drake and Hurricane BPOs too.  The main amendment to my plan is the high sec POS.  With the POCO fees, that has really changed the game for high sec PI.  I imagine a lot of prices are going to go through the roof, for all kinds of T2 products, when high sec PI drops off.  I also had a chance to do some wormhole messing around, but I don't think I have the time to devote to it right now, learning, to be comfortable in there.

     All the various missions and faction agents are still out there, including ORE.  All the COSMOS missions are still out there too, and next I'd likely do some Minmatar to balance things out a bit, plus, it will give rep for ORE itself.  Lots of time to build up cash and LP, especially Concord LP, and see where these new POCOs take us.

The Point?  Plans are fine and this is progressing nicely, but the POS can wait until I see what the POCO will do to the economy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The crisp, clean air . . . that I'm not breathing

     I never really felt I was in any kind of danger from the crew that war dec'd us, because they hung out mostly in Jita and Amarr, didn't seem to like low sec, and didn't really go too far astray from their stomping grounds or stations.  Mostly stations.  Still, it was always necessary to keep local pulled out and peel an eye in that direction, just to be on the safe side.  A number of far less attentive indy-types paid for their ambivalence with trips to the store to buy new boats.  Once the war dec was lifted, I could breath easy and go about my daily business of Incursions, missions, Incursions and mining.  Plus, I got to get back to Incursions :)  Once the dec lifted, it felt a little easier to breathe.  I was reminded of Neo.  It wasn't really that big of a deal, but I guess keeping an eye on Dscan and local is a way of life for WHS, low and null sec denizens.  I'm not really interested in that style of play yet, obviously.

     As the war timed out, I moved my main to where I had my shiny new Bhaalgorn, undocked, and headed about a dozen jumps to the Incursion system.  I had it double webbed with faction pulse, and hoped that would get some decently fast invites.  Instead of getting a completely new set of hardware, I took some of the gear from my sniper AF Apoc.  I had a short and long range set of guns for the Apoc so I took 4 of the pulses for the Bhaalgorn, and 4 of the beams - just in case.  The Bhaalgorn doesn't have the long range snap of the Apoc, but it's easier than trying to drag both ships around.  I quickly got in a VG fleet, and we proceeded to start clearing sites.  It certainly wasn't at the much whined about pace of 100 million/hr like the anti-high sec Incursion whiners like to carp about, but it was still up in the 70 million range.  The Bhaalgorn is a great boat to fly in incursions, and a lot of fun.  Lots more cap to start with, plus being able to cap transfer with any other boat, means I never had to worry about cap at all.  Being able to lay 2 faction webs on a rat really made them pop fast too.  It all went rather well even though I was a little rusty on Incursions after a week, especially if I wanted to stay on top of dropping the webs when the rats got in range.  The up-side is that I got Minmitar BS trained to 4 during the war, so I had a 25km range on the webs.  Got in a few good fleets over the couple days, and made some healthy isk to help offset buying 2 PLEX in the psycho PLEX market of late.

MOM fleet forming up.

     Monday, the merry pre-patch day, I had some extra time to run incursions and got an invite to a VG fleet after the first fit was dropped in chat.  Hooked up with a great fleet with a couple Bhaalgorns, some Vindis and some great SEBO and links, and we shredded a lot of sites.  About an hour in, the SF fleet popped the MOM site, so we moved our wagons about 27 jumps to the AF fleet's Incursion, and carried on there.  Good FC, fleet stayed pretty strong, and then later on in the evening, my time, talk started up about running the MOM site before patch day.  I guess the idea is to pop the Incursion before patch because a new one will spawn after, plus, apparently some players worry that the patch might screw up the current Incursions.  Not sure if there is a precedence for that, but what the hell, I'm in for a MOM site.  Form-up took about 35 minutes and we ended up going in with about 15 boats short, and a few ALTs to help boost the isk income for the ship replacement fund.  With the reduced DPS, the site was taking longer than before, but that was to be expected.  problem with that was that the longer it takes, the more bomber spawns we have to deal with, and the more chances you have for the bombers to notice you and decide to send some torpedo love your way.  As luck would have it, I was one such lucky individual, and the drill was that anyone less than 150K EHP should warp out if primaried by all the bombers.  I only have about 120K, so when I was primaried, I announced it in broadcast and Eve voice, and warped to the sun while the logis repped my ass off and the rest of the fleet started melting the bombers.  I made it out and came right back, but man, those bombers can really lay the smack down, but never got me into structure - very close with the crazy see-sawing armour indicator, but the logis kept me up.  Maybe if I had stuck around I would have been smoke.  Don't know.  Two or three others had to warp out too.  In the end, I got back in plenty of time, popped the Kundalini, saw the loot drop, and started hopping my BS back towards Amarr.  The Bhaalgorn is a very nice, and flexible boat to fly.  I have a large collection of mods that I carry around with me, in order to change the fits based on what is needed, but I think I'll see about a way to bundle up the Apoc and have a sniper and a DPS boat for armor fleets.  I'm also toying with the idea of putting 1400s on the Apoc.  Would certainly solve any cap issues.  Will have to see what EFit says.

The Point?  I'm happy that I now can do, actual better things to do, than play station games.