Saturday, 30 May 2015

My Eleanor - Part 2

Previously on The Flying Target:

After stalking out a particular wormhole for 4 days after spotting my Eleanor, a Noctis floating in a POS shield, Eleanor's pilot finally logs in....

I quickly check whether the Noctis is piloted but it appears to be pilotless at this point.  What I do notice is a couple of pilots warping out to combat anomalies in a pod and a Zephyr, which turns out to be an exploration ship which sleepers won't lock up.  The pod and the Zephyr take turns warping in and out, making tactical bookmarks at a guess.  I do the same in the couple of anomalies that I watch them doing this in the hope that this is a precusor for the locals to run those sites a bit later on, which in turn will hopefully mean my Eleanor ventures out of the safety of the POS shield.

My attention switches away from the pod and Zephyr duo when my watch list chimes announcing a few more of the locals are logging in and a couple of battleships appear on Dscan.  This wormhole currently only has the C5 static (I scanned all the new sigs earlier that night) and I correctly assume that the locals are going to roll the hole to run the sites in relative safety:

Rolling the Hole.
This is part of the appeal of wormhole space to me - the lack of local means you never know who might be sitting cloaked not far off you watching your every move.  I've always been of the lone wolf kind of guy when it comes to playing Eve, so being able to find and watch people go about their business and choosing the perfect moment to strike really appeals to me.  I watch the locals go a couple of passes through with battleships before it the hole becomes mass critical.  I expect a HIC to come through and finish the job, but instead a Wreath transport ship lands on the hole.  This is a bit unexpected, but it becomes clear what the locals are intending when the Wreath poops out a couple of mobile large warp disruptors either side of the hole, before warping back to it's POS.

They must be worried about the hole collapsing behind them and locking a pilot out, or they don't know about using a double bubble HIC outwards and a oversized afterburner back through.  It's an interesting idea though to just bubble the hole, as this won't stop anything from coming through, but I suppose that if they have eyes/ears on the hole as a warning the bubbles allows enough time for the capitals they will be using on the field to bug out back to their POS.  It's also pretty a pretty expensive way to do it, with the large versions of the mobile warp disruptor going for about 10 million ISK a pop.    There's not a lot else doing at this point that I can see, so I decide to wait out the 8 minute anchoring time of the bubbles so I can get a screenshot. This looks like it is actually going to happen, my days of stalking might actually generate a payoff.

Gah!!! You are going to ruin everything!!!
My spirits are dashed when about halfway through anchoring period the wormhole activation sound throws my whole attempt at Eleanor into jeopardy.  An Astero sheds its session change cloak and warps off.  It's not a local and assuming the hole is watched this has probably blown the whole opportunity.  If the locals know there is another pilot in system with them it's unlikely they will risk running capitals through a combat anom.  However, the bubbles finally go up and I see battleships being swapped for Archons at the POS - can it be the locals didn't have eyes on the hole?

Pretty....  ineffectual....
It looks that way, the locals have a Damnation orbiting their POS providing links and a Moros and a couple of Archons warp away towards combat sites.  Most importantly though - Eleanor is now piloted.  I was worried they might just use MTU and cheap destroyers to do the cleanup, but it appears this corp likes to use a Noctis.

4 days of waiting to see this
Oh well, I don't have any qualms in taking advantage of people who make mistakes, especially if it means I can get some gank going.  I'm not too worried about the Astero being around, it would probably kill me if I got into a fight with it but the odds of that happening are pretty slim.

I follow the Moros to a combat anom at the outer planet and find it merrily slaying sleepers.  The value of killing sleepers is in the blue loot drops and the salvage - there's no bounty payments for sleeper kills so I know that Eleanor will eventually be coming this way.  I set myself up with a high perch above the solar plan at 150km so I can warp to the mobile depot I have bookmarked, before settling in to wait.

The locals end up putting a couple of Archons on the field which triggers an escalation.  However, the capitals make short work of the sleepers and the mystery of all the ECM drones at unfinished combat anoms in this wormhole is revealed.  The capital ships purge all of the sleepers until there is a single frigate remaining, at which point the Archons dump a flight of ECM drones.  The drones break the lock of the sleeper frigate and draw aggro and the capitals warp out back their POS, crossing paths with Eleanor who warps in and starts cleaning the field.  It's not how I would have run it, but I suppose the sleeper frigate does complicate the gank in that it's an extra ship that can possibly pop anyone trying to get the Noctis.  Do I think at any point about aborting the gank attempt?  Not on your nellie.

I warp to my bookmarked mobile depot at 30km to make sure I'm not decloaked by any wrecks that might be tractored my way and on landing safely start to slow boat into position to launch my attack, pausing at one point to settle my daughter who is teething at the moment.  I get inside 10km and remember the best time to strike a Noctis is just as it's salvaging the last wreck, so I take a few deep breaths and get myself ready to go.  However, my hand is forced when Ozz Burtus in the Astero I saw jumping in at the C5 static suddenly decloaks < 10 km off Eleanor's starboard bow and locks her up.  There is no point waiting now, I need to get in on the kill before the locals can react, so I align to my perch, decloak and get everything active and overloaded.

I apologise for the lack of screenshots for this, the critical part of the story.  I became a bit fixated on watching Eleanors shields, then armour and then structure drop with each volley of my torps.  Tunnel visioned on Eleanors defences, I totally lost all situational awareness and I vaguely registered that I had moved out of point range at one point, but didn't think to correct that.  I didn't know if I was warp disrupted or getting shot at - it was just me, Eleanor and Caldari Navy Torpedoes all building to the crescendo of My Eleanor exploding in a glorious ball of fire.  As I came to my senses, I stopped sucking on my cigarette and took stock of my situation.  I was in about half shields, there were 3 additional ships on the field, all of which had me yellow or red boxed and one very pissed off Sleeper frigate.

I tried warping off to my perch, but of course I was inside 150km at that point having been aligned to it the whole engagement (note to self - 250km perches next time).  I struggled to find a celestial or bookmark close to my direction of travel and thankfully found my probe drop bookmark was nearly dead on.  I mashed the warp button and had an 'Oh Shit' moment when I realised that I was warp disrupted.   I let out a slight sigh of relief when I confirmed it was the sleeper frigate that had me only pointed and not scrammed before punching the MWD and overheating it, hoping to pull enough range to drop the disruptor and warp out.  After what seemed like an eternity the warp disrupt icon disappeared and I warped out and cloaked up.

A few deep breaths later, I took stock of my situation.  My shields were nearly gone, but thankfully I didn't get into armour.  All of my modules had significant heat damage, with my MWD at 86% damage.  Luckily I didn't need to pull range for much longer else I would have burnt the drive out and been a sitting duck.  But I had a half a billion ISK kill as per Zkillboard had my merry way with my Eleanor, exactly as I had hoped I would when I first spotted her floating in that POS shield all those days ago.

My Eleanor, exactly as I wanted her
I warped back to the site and there are 3 wrecks and one bemused sleeper frigate still buzzing around killing drones.

It looks like the Astero was hero tackle for a couple of stealth bombers and a Rifter (WTF is a Rifter doing there) that showed up on the field, and in hindsight I probably wouldn't have got the kill if the Astero wasn't there for tackle because Eleanor was stabbed.  The locals bought a Comet to save the Noctis which killed the Astero, and I believe the sleeper frigate killed the Comet before the Astero's friends podded the Comet pilot for his trouble.

I got convoed by one of the gang that jumped in not too much later:

Gunner GzR > o/
Havlac Agalder > o7
Gunner GzR > hey how are you running the sight wiht out a webber?
Gunner GzR > found that intresting
Havlac Agalder > Return (my ship fit)
Havlac Agalder > I was just after the noctis
Gunner GzR > ahh ok
Gunner GzR > 3rd party lol
Gunner GzR > that noctis was doomed

It certainly was Mr Gunner, it certainly was.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

My Eleanor

My dear friends, I have recently spent inumerous hours traversing uncounted wormholes in my pursuit of worthy prey (i.e. something I can gank) and upon reaching the Anoiki known as J115727 I stumbled across perhaps the single most delicious target I have come across.  May I present to you my enigmatic holy grail, My Eleanor:

Ain't she a beauty???  All 14 million tons of industrial tractor beaming, multiple salvaging loot pinata goodness.  I believe I'm actually quivering as I type this....

Yes, I have my Eleanor, parked safely behind someone else's POS shield.  But will that stop me? Not likely.  This is the first Noctis I have seen in J space and I must have it.  I therefore commenced stalking out this particular Anoikis seeking an opportunity to grace this work of industrial art with my glorious Caldari Navy Scourge Torpedoes.

For 3 or 4 days I've hung out in this particular wormhole and watched the comings and goings of the locals.  I find all the POS's and work out that one of them has a nasty decloak trap which I manage to avoid by coming into the tower from a bounce safe I made near one of the outer planets (see -> Learning!).  I add all 35 members of the local corp as bad standings contacts and put them all on my watch list.  I create elaborate spai notes to keep track of their comings and goings.

Sneaky Spai Stuff.

During my stalk there doesn't appear to be much going on, with only a few pilots logged in.  It does appear that the locals are a Russian corp and a check of killboard stats shows they are most active way way late into my timezone.  The closet I get to action during this time is getting on grid a couple of times with a guy in a Badger at a couple of POCOs but each time I'm too far away when I land and he was already aligning out so I don't decloak and give away the game.  I also consider ambushing the same guy in a Bustard doing runs back to K space on the C4 static but in hindsight I was glad I got bored and left it given I didn't realise Bustard's have a natural 2 point warp core strength and I only have a long point on my current fit.

During this time Eleanor remains floating at the POS, no pilot on board.

I notice a few weird things in the system, there is a crap load of drones and even a few carrier bourne fighters that have been left by the locals at various combat anoms in the system.  When I check them out I usually find 5 or 6 ECM drones and a single sleeper ship plugging away killing those drones.  It's weird, I have no idea why they have left drones in a site and haven't fully cleared it.  Oh well, that's a mystery for another day.  In the meantime I wait patiently for the moment to strike, hidden and dangerous:

Manticore on Dscan.  That's a gas mining ship right?
One night I decide to stay up late and work on my blog.  I log into Eve to keep an eye on things and while sorting out the background options on the front page of the blog my notification chimes - Eleanor's pilot has just logged in!!!

Next time on The Flying Target - Will Eleanor be mine?? Or will the elusive industrial slip through my grasp??

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Back in the Saddle

My brand new clone awakes in Abudan, a jump out of Rens.  I warp over to the trade hub to grab a new Manticore and kit it out.  Now my funds are fairly limited at the moment so while it was tempting to look at polarised torpedo launchers I'm not going to put a launcher worth more than the ship itself let alone 3 of them on a ship I'm reasonably certain I will lose in the near future.  Having said that, I have previously put a faction scram on an Astero that was worth about 50 million ISK more than the ship and fittings combined and promptly lost that, but that's another story.

Anyways, here's the Manticore fit I'm currently running with:

Overheated 533 DPS with a volley of 4206 using Caldari Navy Scourge Torpedoes to take advantage of the Manticore's natural 15% bonus to kinetic damage.  I won't go too much into the fit, suffice to say that most of my targets will be not be the most speediest of ships so I'm not too worried about reducing the impact of my targets speed vs the explosion speed of my torps.  I'm more looking to a) reduce my explosion radius on the torpedos themselves via skills and the Rigor Catalyst II rig and b) increasing the signature radius of my targets via a pair of target painters.  With both painters running we should be getting towards applying close to full damage against some cruiser hulls substantially increasing the potential engagement profile of my bomber.

I named my new bomber "Return" to you know, mark my return to New Eden.  I don't know what it is but jeez it felt good to be back in the saddle of a covert, sexy weapon of mass destruction.  I straight away headed out and found a wormhole a couple of jumps from Rens and began searching for prey.

If you see this happen, there will probably be torpedoes heading your way pretty soon.
A few wormholes down the chain  I found a Retriever at an ore anomaly.  I was dumbstruck, I have never, ever seen someone mining in a wormhole.  But I am not one to complain, so I slow boated my way carefully down past all the asteroids and into position to launch an attack.  I aligned out to a safe just in case this was some kind of elaborate bait, took a deep breathe and decloaked, targeted, torps, painter, painter, point, overload everything.  I pinged dscan a couple of times but I didn't see any response from the local tower, but just as the Retriever entered armour he warped back to his tower.  I knew from checking the Retriever pilots kill board that he had previously lost a Retriever that had a warp stabiliser fit, so I wasn't 100% surprised.  I convoed him and asked as much, to which he replied he didn't have any stabs on that ship which confused me a bit as he was still within my overheated point range.  I'm guessing that I accidentally turned off my point when I tried to overheat it - sigh.

Onwards I go, until I find a new wormhole with a couple of pilots online but sitting nice and comfy within their POS shield.  Oddly enough there is an Epithal on scan but not here at the tower.  Quick working of my Dscan confirms that the PI hauler is not at one of the systems POCOs and it doesn't appear to be at a POS - it's out in space somewhere.  Working Dscan a bit further I'm able to narrow the Epithal's position down to within 3 AU of one of the inner planets at an angle upwards from the horizontal plane.  Now given I have a core probe launcher currently equipped I'm not going to be able to scan the ship down unless I get myself refit with the spare expanded probe launcher I have in my cargo bay.  I warp out to the outer planet which is thankfully out of Dscan range of the occupied tower and drop my mobile depot that I keep on hand for just such occasions.  Once the depot is active I swap the extended probe launcher with the core probe launcher - I pretty much have to offline everything to get the extended probe launcher to fit due to the CPU requirements.  I launch a set of combat probes and throw them out of the system to avoid them being seen before warping back to the inner planet to set up my combat probe scan.

Once I'm back at the inner planet I position the combat probes with a 1AU scan range around where I think the Epithal is and take a deep breath before hitting scan.  The combat probes flash into action, repositioning themselves as instructed and begin scanning the area.  I ping dscan the whole time the probes are doing their thing before quickly recovering them after they produce a 100% warpin on the Epithal - the probes were on dscan for about 4 seconds.  I'm feeling pretty happy with myself about this, until I see a Proteus on dscan over at the occupied tower.  Looks like they were paying attention over there.  I quickly warp back to my depot, refit to my normal fit and scoop the depot before warping directly to the Epithal.  There it is, 20km away, un piloted.  Dscan doesn't show that Proteus anymore, which could be a problem but if I get it set up right I should be ok even if that Proteus is lurking nearby.  I get myself a little bit closer, align to a safe, decloak, torps, painter, pa.... POP!!!  The Epithal pops after a single volley, so I  warp off to the safe.

Ok ok, it was against an unpiloted ship, but I was really happy in the way I was able to adapt to the situation and then get combat probes onto a target with such a short timeframe that the probes were visible to any potential threats.  I'm going to take it and call it a win.

To celebrate I've decided to deck my Manticore in one of CCP's new SKINs:


So here I am back playing Eve. I suppose I never really left as I enjoy checking the blogosphere to check in on what is going on, which I really shouldn't be doing as all it basically does is remind me of the cool stuff I could be doing.   The biggest drawback to Eve is the time I invest into the game, much to the chagrin of my wife.  I tend to allow myself to get absorbed with what I'm doing often to the detriment of say, folding the washing.  Unfortunately stating that I'm about to get on grid with a Retriever doesn't tend to wash all that well with my significant other, who is probably as much an antithesis to a gamer as you can get.  But it's ok, I'll manage my time appropriately, it won't be a problem.  I'm even taking the time to write a blog about the time I've wasted playing that stupid game.  It's all good.

My previous foray into Eve saw me living solo in a C2 wormhole which a bunch of my alts.  It was always a goal for me to live in wormhole space and it was fun, albeit a bit difficult time wise to manage as occupation in a wormhole means (in my case) an orca with small POS.  As anyone who has ever run a POS would know they need fuel and fuel costs iskies.  The difficulty I ran into was finding the time to run the sleeper sites which I needed to keep the forcefield up. I was using a HML Drake so it would take upwards of half an hour to complete a C2 site and while the rewards were a bit more generous due to the C2 loot tweaks that came through around that time it was still a became a bit of a chore.  It got to the point that I seriously could nearly tell my wife that I'm just going to log in to my second job for an hour or so - Eve was taking up a significant part of my time and in the end I let the POS go dormant along with my subs.  The wife was happy.

Fast forward a couple of months and the embryo of an idea started in my head.  What if I played Eve again, but ditched the POS and just roamed around J space looking for ships to gank?  I wouldn't be tied down to a system and have to scan it out before doing anything, I wouldn't need to make any ISK to keep my POS fueled, I could just do the fun-er parts of playing Eve.  The catalyst came with a day off work during which I listened to Chance Ravinne delivering a talk to Eve Uni about stealth bombers.  I've always loved bombers and had my main train into a Manticore before I moved into my wormhole, and after listening Chance speak about bombers I just went, stuff it, I'm going to play again.

I resubbed my main account back in and was pleasantly surprised to see that while my sub was running out my training queue was still running and had completed Astrometric Rangefinding V (28 day train...) so the only things currently not at level V in my scanning skill tree is Hacking and Survey.

Oh yeah.  Scanning is my biatch.

So I log back in to find my tower with no forcefield and the Mammoth I had parked in the forcefield is gone.  Yeah, that was expected.  What wasn't expected was the corp that had taken up residence on one of the inner planets is gone along with their tower and POS modules,  There also appears to be a new tower at a different moon, I'll have a warp over to this new POS and have a look in my fully tricked-out-to-scan Buzzard.  I'm in the system map view so I don't see the bubble when I land but I hear the distinctive sound and realise that I might be in trouble.  The overview is all still all messed up as I haven't configured it properly after logging back in but worst of all my ship starts to decloak.

Needless to say the tower promptly obliterates my Buzzard.  Decloak traps and towers are the bane of my existence.  As I sit there in my pod I finally work my overview to show containers and sure enough there are several THOUSAND of the little yellow diamonds of death all around me.

And do you know the worst thing is, I didn't even use my tricked out scanning boat to scan my way out, so I'm now trapped in my pod in my old wormhole with no way out.  *facepalm*.  I'm forced to self destruct the pod get out back to highsec so I can buy a new ship.

God I love this game.