Sunday, December 28, 2008

Completely unrelated to Eve

My final grade was posted for the fall school semester.

I did EXACTLY what I needed to do with my classes, and in some places exceeded expectations. For about a year now I've been having issues keeping focused on school work, and had been experiencing serious decay in my GPA. With 2008 over, I'm really looking forward to excelling in my studies.

If I don't update before new years, let this be my proxy wish for all my readers: I hope everyone accomplished the goals they had for 2008, and that we have the best of luck in 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ventrilo compression details

Borrowed from my old alliance forum. Essentially sets all individuals to a uniform volume so one doesn't have to go about changing individual volumes:

Vent normalization makes everybody’s voice the exact same volume. In essence, you won’t blow your ears out or have difficulty hearing people. Here’s how:

* Go to Setup
* Enable Direct Sound
* Select the SFX Button
* Select Compressor and click Add (right click at channel level -> misc -> special effects).
* Under Compressor Properties, use the following settings:
o Gain = Adjust for how loud you want people to be. (I use 15)
o Attack = 0.01
o Release = Around 500
o Threshold = Around -30
o Ratio = 100
o Pre delay = 4.0

How much volume you feed into the compressor. Not really relevant unless everyone is too quiet, then you can turn this up a little; turning it up too much will sound EXTREMELY horrible.

How fast volume change will happen. Example: setting this to 500 means that anything coming in will only be dropped in volume after a half a second. For Vent this should be set as low as possible.

How fast the compressor stops changing things. not really that relevant with Vent, setting it around 500 is good for voice material.

This sets the point where we actually start changing what’s coming in. Whereas 0 is the absolute loudest you can have for an input, -60 is super quiet. Average users will probably come in somewhere around -25 to -15, with the occaisional few being really quiet, which is why I have this set so low.

How much any sound below the set threshold gets compressed and/or modified in the volume department. If you still want to hear SOME volume variation, then set this lower (2-4)… the higher you set it, the closer in volume everyone will be.

Pre Delay
Mostly just deals with processing; with computer and digital processors they can look ahead a few milliseconds to see what needs to be dropped in volume or changed before it actually comes through the speakers. Highest is ideal.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Possible bug!

Just a heads up to those that employ weapon grouping, or Jump Clones: there may be a bug that will result in modules not activating that involves either of these two features. I recently loss a Harbinger in part to four of seven of my lasers not activating. What caused this to occur is unknown to me, but I had been experiencing problems before my loss, associated with using a Jump Clone and attempting to group my weapons together.

Specifically, I used a Jump Clone to travel to a different region of space to PvP. I activated a Harbinger, to find several of the modules offline. Attempting to turn these modules online met with failure, and a message repeating that the modules are already online.

The fix for this is to relog, and those modules that refused to turn online will finally online. However, I soon undocked and attempted to group my lasers to one function slot. I received a message that the weapons were already in a function group, and that I shoud clear them before attempting again. The guns didn't have any charges in them, and they were the same type of module. The guns accepted charges, but when I made to use them on a target, some, in my case four of seven, refused to operate.

I don't know if this was caused by using a Jump Clone, or attempting to group my weapons together, or both. I haven't had this sort of trouble before with modules not activating, apart from lag. It wasn't lag as I was able to employ drones and other modules such my rep and MWD perfectly fine. Let this be a warning to pilots out there that there is a problem with weapon grouping and/or Jump Clones which is extremely problematic. If you happen to use a Jump Clone, and have the same sort of issues with weapon grouping, find something to shoot, such as an asteroid, and test if your weapons that you attempted to group are indeed functional. If not, file a petition so that we can see this problem resolved in short order.

Monday, December 22, 2008


"How long have you been at it?"
"An hour now."
"Have you had any luck with it?"
"Haven't beat anyone yet."
"You're not very good at that game are you?"

Empty systems. Fleeting glimpses of pilots, only to watch them dock or move a system over. Landing on a target, only to have it slip away.

Pirating is a matter of persistence, of putting forward effort to yield uncertain results. It's unlike most other activities in Eve Online, as you're not ensured a steady result. Time spent doesn't equate to targets killed. Rather, it increases the chances of happening upon a tangible engagement.

A friend of mine once said that instead of waiting for PvP to happen to them, pilots should go look for it. He understood you don't need a gang, an expensive ship, or even a plan beyond 'look for someone to blow up' to have fun. It is too simple to blind oneself with KB statistics and avoid challenging engagements. It is all too easy to forget from the safety of familiarity that change is good, and exploration should be welcomed in our lives. Giving up an hour to a roam which results in nothing is preferable to spending that time mindlessly grinding PvE or sampling station fare.

I challenge my readers to do just this: to seek excitement, to damn the consequences, and to realize themselves in PvP. Venture away from what's accepted in your Eve experience, and try something different. Experiment. Explore.

PvP in Eve is a many faceted thing; enjoy sampling each aspect!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bizness as usual

After logging in Thursday evening, I spied Biz Quick in my home system looking for a fight. In a region as small as Molden Heath, it's little wonder that pirates such as ourselves run into each other frequently when roaming: it isn't difficult to cover the entire lowsec of the region in less than an hour. He was flying a Sacrilege HAC, and as his roam had been bone dry up until finding me, he asked for a 1v1.

Engaging a Sacrilege is a tricky proposition for even the deadliest of ships: it's fast, deals decent damage with Heavy Assault Missiles, and is capable of sustaining a tremendous armor tank. Not wanting to ruin the small tradition of lopsided engagements we've had in the past, I took out my Harbinger to oblige him. I had fit a Warp Scrambler to keep him close, and an Afterburner to mitigate missile damage. Other than that, it was my vanilla Harbinger fit.

We warped to a safe, and the fireworks commenced on contact. My hope was to overwhelm his tank immediately, resting all my faith in the massive damage potential of my battlecruiser versus the EM and THM holes of my opponent's cruiser. I was able to evaporate his shields and burn through half his armor in two volleys before his tank stabilized and matched my DPS. Without any form of EWAR it was only a matter of Biz bleeding my ship's buffer before I exploded.

Perhaps he wanted to acknowledge my sportsmanship, or maybe he just wanted to save me the trouble of fitting another ship, but regardless Biz deactivated his missile launchers when I reached hull, and allowed me to nurse my battered ship in a station. Some light banter about fits passed between pilots, and a short time later we were roaming lowsec together looking for a fight. I had traded ships in station for a Devoter HIC, and was quite smug with the sexiness of two pirates cruising around in T2 Maller hulls.

Roughly an hour of roaming yielded little in the way of targets. In fact, it seems the two of us together begets nothing but trouble for ourselves, and we were forced out of several systems by large groups of pilots with large(r) cannon and an intent to kill. I suggested we try Great Wildlands, and he agreed as our combined luck in lowsec had been poor that day.

Once in Egbinger, I swapped ships for a Broadsword, and we hit B-VIP looking for ganks. A lucky drake evaded us there, and moving deeper into nullsec, we decided to grace L1S-G1 with our presence. Biz scouted the system, and balked at the dozen pilots staring at him from local.

It took quick convincing and jumping into system personally to start him scanning out ratters, and we mutually spotted a Harbinger in a belt. With a 1600mm plate, the battlecruiser was incapable of aligning out in time, and extinguished under a hail of Barrage and Rage HAMs. Biz informed me he had to AFK shortly after the kill and safed up in system. I continued to patrol the L1S-G1, and kept eyes on SL-YBS with an alt scout.

Allies of the Harbinger pilot weren't long in organizing a small gang to oust me from L1S-G1. Aside from a blob of battlecruisers and a Tempest battleship, they had scrounged up two Rifters with warp scramblers. The frigates ironically were the greatest danger to Biz and myself, as if they caught us off a gate or at a celestial, there was little we could do to the agile ships as their larger counterparts moved in for the kill. I had managed to string out the hostile gang in UNJ-GX by the time Biz returned from his AFK, however trouble was brewing in our route home. My alt scout in SL-YBS was reporting massive gate activations. Foundati0n was coming.

It was a few seconds in explaining the situation to my companion, and we were soon making haste away from L1S-G1, back up the pipe towards B-VIP. While scouting B-VIP, Biz came upon the Drake we had passed up earlier in a belt. He manages a tackle, and the ratting battlecruiser lights up in sapphire flame under our combined firepower. The Drake destroyed, we warp to the gate and jump out into Egbinger, back into lowsec.

With two kills under our belts and another two dozen angry pilots evaded, we decided to call it a night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The yarrmanity!

The curse of starting a blag is all the memes that start going around, those infectious activities that mangle minds by peer pressure until there's no choice but to oblige. Well, Mynxee decided to destroy my day by tagging me, so I just had to do something about it. Harumph.

The Rules:
  • Link to the original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 facts about myself in the post - some random, some weird.
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

7 Facts About Me:
  1. Before EVE-Online, it was Guild Wars. Before Guild Wars, it was Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Before Enemy Territory, it was Tribes. I've been video gaming for over a decade now, and don't intend to stop anytime soon.
  2. I model! Or at least I paint them. Typical victims are minis from Classic Battletech and Warhammer 40k.
  3. Sard Caid is short for Sardaukar Caid. The Sardaukar are a military faction from Frank Herbert's Dune, and Caid is a rank denoting 'Public Relations'. *snickers*
  4. Cyberpunk is a favorite genre, for several very good reasons.
  5. Favorite sport is American Soccer, or European Football. I wish folk would get their titles straight.
  6. At some point I intend to learn German and live overseas there.
  7. I've been to Maine, to Florida, visited Texas, traveled to Hawaii, and sailed a boat to Alaska. Yet, the only foreign soil I've touched is Canada, and I haven't left North America since birth.

7 People to Tag:
  1. Black Claw
  2. Cussbeard
  3. Biz Quick
  4. Ulfskein Gangr
  5. Sarah Barah
  6. Jinarre
  7. Sarah Conna
It was hard to pick just seven, since my undead army hasn't quite reached maturity yet, but there you go. Now go forth and spread the horror.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Under construction 2

Started a new corporation, Gunpoint Diplomacy (RANSM). I'll be rehashing some details around the blag to reflect this, otherwise the show will continue as normal.

Also, it's finals week and overnight cramming makes Sard a dull boy. Expect more stories about violence towards the end of the week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well, I did it

I turned in my resignation to my corporation on the forums. In a couple of days, I'll be gone from UGH.

Between our tenure flying with Queens of the Stone Age (QotSA), then reforming into the Uninvited Guests (UGH), I've spent nearly two years with these pilots. I respect them, I'm friends with them, and can't put to words the debt of gratitude I owe them for the fun and support they've collectively lent to me. Leaving the UGH fold is like leaving home to make a life for myself: I'll miss them dearly, however I'm optimistic for the things I can do.

I don't know whether I should start a solo corp, join a pirate entity or go into faction warfare. The sky's the limit, and I have a very, very dusty resume to update!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mine's bigger than yours

Ever wonder just how large your ship is? Ulfskein Gangr created a great ship to scale image, with ships compared to an image of lower Manhattan. Yeah, even the lowly Wreathe is huge.

Great work!

Old friends, new wrecks

Perhaps the hardest fight a person can come up against is with former allies. Sure, you know their tendencies, however it's just as likely they learned as much from you. This is especially true facing the alliance who were the underdog favorites in the last alliance tournament, and for good reason (check day five, Notoriety Alliance vs Green Alliance).

Having led a medium sized gang through northern Syndicate to bust a gate camp in MHC-R3, I decided to continue the gang through to southern Syndicate, into No Trademark territory. No Trademark (NOTR, principle corporation behind Notoriety Alliance) had recently reformed and had taken to terrorizing Syndicate and Solitude regions, accumulating monstrous tallies on their killboard as they drove off many of the weaker entities in both regions. Due to issues with killmail happy NOTR gangs, we had recently removed blue status with them, and I decided it was about time we came looking for a fight.

The gang I was leading was moderately heavy, composed of three battlecruisers, assorted T2 cruisers, a Scimitar, two Falcons and light tacklers. We jumped into their home system Y9G-KS, and set up shop on the Conomette gate, Falcons at combat ranges, and gave NOTR the next move. A few minutes pass, NOTR numbers trickling in from adjacent systems, and I finally ask in local whether we're going to see a fight.

Our Rapier scouting the station reports several battleships undocking, along with an Onyx and Sacrilege, all of which begin aligning for the Conomette gate. A NOTR Hyperion warps to the gate, and I curse the new regional entrance gates for the difficulty in covering them with an interdiction bubble. The Hyperion jumps through, and I have my HIC pilot reposition to better cover warp ins from the station. Minutes again tick by, when the Rapier reports the entire NOTR gang on station has entered warp towards our position. It was game on, and we were more than willing to deliver.

When the NOTR Hyperion had warped to our gate, I had one of our Falcons uncloak, and another stay hidden. It was an attempt to fool them into thinking we had only one piece of ECM to bring to the fight. Once the entire NOTR gang had warped into our HIC bubble, I called for both Falcons to decloak and coordinate jams. I call a Maelstrom primary target, secondary target an Armageddon.

As I start my MWD to send my Hurricane battlecruiser hurtling towards the primary target, I realize an error in how I positioned my gang. The HIC was several dozen kilometers away from the rest of us on top of the stargate, and it took us precious time to reach our target. In the mean time, NOTR was able to deliver brutal damage to our HIC as we made our way to destroy his attackers. NOTR had also decloaked a Falcon of their own, and with my HIC pilot reporting his armor melting, I began to wonder if this engagement was such a good idea after all.

Friendly Falcons assert themselves, putting both the enemy Falcon and majority of battleships temporarily out of the fight. The Scimitar is able to make his way into range of our HIC pilot, and soon has him under repairs. Damage is finally being applied to the primary, and I call for our Vagabond pilot to burn out and harass the enemy Falcon. It's a task he excels at.

Seconds pass, and the Maelstrom is showing itself to have a masterful active shield tank, holding up extremely well under the full brunt of our combined firepower. The NOTR gang has locks returning, and with pilots calling out damage, I decide to switch primary to the NOTR Sacrilege. More pilots seemed to be in optimal range this time, and the Sacrilege explodes soon after my target call.

I quickly asses the situation, and make the Armageddon our new primary. The heavy buffer tank on the battleship slowly melts away, but not before he wrecks fatal damage to a friendly Harbinger. The Harbinger becomes our only casualty, and both the Armageddon and a Typhoon meet their collective ends attempting to deaggress into Conomette.

It proved to be a decisive victory, and both entities were happy to have had the fight. We in STUGH are waiting for the day NOTR decides to show up in our doorstep and request a fight. We'll be happy to oblige!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

To make it as a pirate: easy isk

After spouting off my daily capital, Black Claw asked me how I did it. Pirating is a harsh profession, and turning out enough isk from ransoms and booty just to balance out losses is a difficult feat not often accomplished. To be an active, successful pirate means having alternative forms of revenue to carry the pilot through the rough times, and is the focus of this post.

Pirates have a difficult time making isk. Poor security status renders high security missions out of the question, as with the most profitable trade routes. A focus on PvP leaves little SP left over for production, not to mention the difficulty of acquiring raw minerals to produce goods in lowsec in the first place. Missioning and running complexes in lowsec tend to yield better rewards than highsec, however pirates run the risk of predation from their fellows when PvEing in lowsec.

To sum things up: most of the basic means to making isk are denied to the typical pirate. However, there are other avenues for easy isk that are still open. For now, I'll not consider use of alt accounts, as all those forms of easy empire isk become once more available.

Your typical lowsec region has several entry points into NPC nullsec. NPC nullsec is perhaps the greatest source of isk for low SP, down on their luck individuals: the typical BS rat in nullsec has a bounty of anywhere from 500k to 900k isk in the poorest of regions, their high meta level loot is valuable, and these rats can be 'chained' to provide back to back spawns of high bounty rats. NPC space typically has a generous amount of stations to base out of, which allow a pirate to JC out to nullsec, spend a day grinding the easy isk, and JC back to their base of operations tens of million isk better off.

To clarify, chaining involves finding a desirable spawn, such as a high bounty battleship spawn. The battleship is destroyed, leaving at least one escort ship in the belt alive. After roughly fifteen minutes, the destroyed ships will respawn, and the high bounty ship can be destroyed again. Typically nullsec ratters will create several chains and work them constantly, providing large sums of isk gain in a short amount of time. It only takes a full T1 fit cruiser to accomplish this sort of operation.

Another bonus to nullsec is the ability to work off security status, and climb back to positive ratings quickly. Every fifteen minutes, the highest bounty belt rat you kill rewards you with a sec status increase. The fastest method of gaining sec status is moving from system to system, killing off battleship spawns in each system. This way multiple sec gains are possible, as the sec gains are counted for each individual system in space.

Research agents, once cultivated, provide a steady stream of isk that are always working for you. Without much effort, perhaps two weeks of training skills and grinding for standing, 2-3m isk a day can be made, without ever having to work again for that isk source.

Cosmic anomalies in both lowsec and nullsec are good ways to grind isk, and are typically safer than belt ratting. Just be aware that pilots can find the pockets you're plundering the same way you did with the onboard scanner, and to be wary of this.

Lastly, engaging in minor trade in lowsec is extremely profitable. Hauling in basic T1 items, ammo and drones and putting them up for sale in the populous lowsec systems can yield profits exceeding 500%. You'd be surprised what a pilot is willing pay to not have to travel a few jumps into high security space and back again. Similarly, placing extremely low buy orders in the same systems for resale provides another avenue into isk.

Hope this helped.

Edit: Mynxee reminds that exploration is very profitable! Check the comments for this post for a brief overview of this probe driven PvE mayhem.

Slow boats

After spending years flying about in nullsec, I've come to appreciate the utility of fitting a MWD on ships. Fitting a MWD allows ships to conquer the ubiquitous Warp Disruption bubbles, quickly close back to a stargate, and dictate range in combat. Even in lowsec, the ability to return to a gate with haste spells out the difference between surviving a gatecamp and not. That said, flying a ship without a speedboost module can be rewarding challenge in itself: engagements must be chosen with care, and once dedicated to a fight, there's little hope of turning back.

Such is the case with the Lyrian Muse, my Arbitrator class cruiser. Ever since fitting the ship, I've expected to die horribly at gatecamps, that I wouldn't get much use out of the hull before it gets scrapped by some group of pirates or another. So far, I've only been ganked at a gate once, while achieving impressive victories in the mean time. Perhaps my greatest achievement with the ship isn't recorded in a killmail, as the target managed to warp away. Still makes for a good story.

You'll notice by glancing at the short profile to the right that I'm an 'Alliance FC' in Placid. What it should state is that I'm the 'Alliance Pirate Loner' instead. Nearly all PvP conducted by my fellows has been in high security space and nullsec, both of which require the ability to move through a 0.7 security system named Orvolle. This rules out yours truly, who sports a security status of -4.2 at the time of writing. Instead, I've been left to my own devices to find whatever fun I can in the lowsec of the area.

Not long after destroying the Deimos linked above I had wandered into a gateway system to lowsec called Dour. Local in the system was sparse, and I decided to give the asteroid clusters a look see. Not long after landing at a planet to start my scans, I picked up a Myrmidon ratting in one of the belts orbiting my celestial. A few blinks later I raced through the employment history and race of the few individuals in local, picking out one likely Galenttian candidate as the pilot of the battlecruiser. He had only a few months under his belt. Sod it, may as well give this a try. It'd only be an Arbitrator I'd lose anyway, and what a trophy to display if I made him!

I land on the belt to discover my foe in disruptor range. I deploy Hammerheads, and start my ship towards the Myrmidon, anticipating that 7km from target would be a good engagement range. My dual webs and a tracking disruptor should be able to keep him at the range I want, while unable to fight back with the expected rack of blasters fitted. It only takes a few seconds for the Myrmidon to react to my aggression, launching his own flight of heavy drones and sending volleys of hybrid munitions slamming into my shields.

The next minute is spent in a flurry of activity, locking enemy drones and engaging them with my own, closing to tight orbit and using tracking disruption to tank the unexpected railgun fitting, and activating all four small nos to fuel the capacitor hungry armor repairer. It's not long before the last of his drones have been rended into scrap, and my flight resumes their attack on my victim. Unable to track me with the Tracking Disruptor on his ship, the Myrmidon pilot is forced to watch the more agile cruiser slowly grind his command to dust.

I can't stress the word slowly enough. Myrmidons are notorious for a fierce active tank, and even with low SP this one was putting up an incredible struggle against my drones and capacitor warfare. Minutes pass, and my drones struggling to out damage the target's regeneration. Just when the enemy tank begins to fail, a local bump reveals reinforcements for the beleaguered Myrmidon. A Drake shows up on scan, and I'm forced with the possibility of abandoning my prey. Damn the Drake! Too much effort has been put into this kill, and I'm not going to let some PvE fit nobody force me off this carcass! Let him come!

The Drake lands, and immediately flights of heavy missiles hammer my ship. I move from the Myrmidon to the Drake, swapping to the capacitor rich new arrival to fuel my repairs. The Hammerheads are recalled, and I set my flight of Warriors to destroy the Drake's light drone flight. Once the drones are destroyed, I find I can tank both ships, as long as I stay in motion to migate missile damage, and with the Tracking Disruptor orbit the Myrmidon to avoid turret damage. I can't wipe the huge grin off my face: now I have two battlecruisers ready to be scrapped!

That is, if this ridiculous Myrmidon will finally die! In a moment of inspiration, I switch to Valkeries and set them on the Myrmidon. His tank quickly is smashed aside as the explosive damage chews through unresisting plate. I had forgotten I was flying in Serpentis territory, and was using damage typical of them on my target. No wonder he refused to quit!

The Myrmidon enters structure, and I keep my attention on the Drake, making sure he doesn't drift too far out of range for my warp disruptor. Unfortunately for me, the Myrm had drifted out of nos range, and my MAR had killed my capacitor. Seconds after realizing my error, my disruptor deactivated, and before I could replace it on the Myrmidon, he warps off, soon followed by the Drake. Too slow in retrieving my drones to pursue, I land at the celestial the Myrm escaped to, and watch him retreat once more to a station. I had lost him with roughly 20% structure left to go.

The next fifteen minutes waiting down my GCC are spent nursing my bruised ego, and fighting down my disquiet. Roughly a half an hour later I lose the ship to the gate camp mentioned earlier. At least that night I had a few good fights before going pop.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Not much going on of late, just a few cruiser kills here and there. I have caught the attention of several anti-pirate groups in the area, but so far no conflicts resulting in an appreciable killmails yet. What is of interest to me is finishing the layout of this blag, and I was hoping to employ my esteemed readers in doing so.

What I really would like is an appropriate banner for the journal. Any readers who are adept at photo editing software, or could point the way to an adept will gain my admiration. I am more than willing to toss isk towards anyone that helps me as compensation, or buy pretty faction ships/modules if that's your thing. Evemail me or shoot me a convo in game, and we can sort out the rest there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

For Mynxee

It had been a long day for Darus: with Tritanium prices ludicrously high, he had taken his Scythe mining cruiser to the edges of empire space searching for a patch of asteroids not already mined out. After asking in the corporation communications channel, other Republic Fleet graduates commented that he should try lowsec, as only a few people mine there. Tiring from his search, he agreed and set course for a nearby pocket of space he had until then avoided.

It wasn't long until Darus reached Evati, and to his surprise the first belt was brimming with asteroids, some he hadn't even seen before in high security space. He set to work immediately, jettisoning a cargo container into space and working to fill it with all the precious ore he could reach with his mining lasers.

Minutes passed uneventfully, and smiling, Darus agreed with the pilots that suggested mining out in low security space. Not only was there no competition, but there were asteroids which yielded increased product; this way Darus got more for his hard spent time. Even the Angel Cartel roaming gangs gave better bounties, although the last one placed a serious drain on the Scythe's shields. Darius didn't even know Cartel battlecruisers roamed asteroid belts before today!

The jetcan was three quarters full when another ship had arrived in the belt Darus was mining in. Quickly sending camera drones to investigate, Darus was chagrined to discover it was the same hull used by the Angel Cartel, a cruiser sized vessel to be exact. However, sensor contact stated it didn't belong to the Cartel. The mystery ship soon revealed it's intentions as Darus' scythe rocked under the impact of medium autocannon shells.

Darus was no rookie when it came to combat. He had spent months deflecting the predations of Cartel ships from his venerable mining operations, and he would be damned if a single cruiser forced him off of his ore, Cartel owned or not! He launched his drone, and sent a flight of Havoc Heavy Missiles towards his foe.

"Geez, this guy really hurts! How is he taking so much damage?" Worry was running through Darus, as this Cartel designed ship he was facing evidently was much, much more than standard issue. It had smashed aside his already weakened shields, and was quickly decimating his armor. Darus tried to initiate warp, but his engines refused to respond. His warp drive had been disrupted.

As the pirate ship began its final assault into the Scythe's hull, Darus made one last glance at the attacker.

The image the camera drones reported back was surprising.

"I'll get you back, you bare chested vagabond! And don't think I won't smash those silly glasses from your face! I know what you look like!"

Full circle

After a fantastic month of service, Hunchback IIC met a fiery fate at the hands of True Reign, a FDN splinter alliance. This was the first engagement where I undervalued the devastating effect of 2+ damps on a target in a skirmish setting: as long as ships have the ability to kite away from a target, ships can dip in and out of targeting range, and the victim is forced to switch primaries constantly. This way individuals with buffer tanks are able to recuperate while their comrades expose their buffer to fire, allowing a sort of guerilla action against a target.

After several uneventful roams through lowsec in my Harbinger, I decided to give the B-VIP a go and once again work on my sec status. I traded ships in Egbinger for my Broadsword, logged in my alt scout and jumped into B-VIP after the scout reported the all clear. After roaming a few systems, and chasing a drake to a POS in 0PI4-E, my alt scout reported a True Reign Vagabond moving through SL-YBS, followed soon by a Wolf. Having just finished a Cartel battleship in UNJ-GX, I jumped into SL-YBS, and soon followed the pair into 6WT-BE, then into 9SNK-0.

The alt scout reports another two local bumps in SL-YBS: True Reign Stabber and Arazu hastefully make way towards Sard in 9SNK-0. In 9SNK-0 I skirmish with the Wolf, eventually landing back on the 6WT-BE gate, with Vagabond, Wolf and Arazu close behind. A few long seconds of posturing end with the Arazu placing tackle to force me through the gate into 6WT-BE into their awaiting Stabber. Before jumping, I pulse my MWD to examine if the Arazu is Warp Scrambler fit; it wasn't, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I'll be able to maneuver in the fight to come. I jump into 6WT-BE, followed by the Vagabond and Wolf.

Upon entering system, I employ an old tactic, and MWD towards a celestial to draw the enemy gang out. My foes immediately oblige, and some quick maneuvering lands me on top of the Vagabond. Incoming fire from the combined ships quickly begins to show on my Broadsword's shields, and I overheat my Invulerability Field to buy me more time to accomplish my violent aims.

Overloaded 425mm Autocannons soon see the Vagabond to 20% shields, when the Arazu finally enters system and places its rack of Sensor Dampners on me. To my dismay the Vagabond slips 17km away from me, and my severely inhibited sensors lose lock. I spend a few precious seconds assessing the situation, and switch primary to the Stabber, which was within web range and had a full tackle kit placed on me.

The boon of Heavy Interdictors, the Warp Disruption Field Generator has two modes of use, determined by a script. Without the script it acts much like an Interdiction probe launched from a Interdictor, denying warp of any vessel within 15-20km of the HIC, depending on skills. With the script loaded, it acts much like a Warp Disruptor, with enhanced range and infinite strength. Unfortunately, using the module in its focused form doubles the capacitor usage, which combined with prolonged MWD use chasing tackled targets as they struggle away from my Webifier was depleting my capacitor to dangerously low levels.

The Stabber slips away after reaching armor, and it soon becomes clear to me that calling the Vagabond primary was a mistake. With little more than a quarter shield left, I made a desperation tackle on the HAC. I land within web range, blast through the remaining shield buffer, and start blowing chunks out the vulnerable armor plate of striken ship. Just as the Vagabond reached hull, it pulled free of my overheated Webifier, and without sufficient capacitor to activate my MWD it darted once more out of targeting range. The damnedable Arazu once again proved its worth and denied me my HAC kill.

With a sliver of shield remaining, the Stabber had drifted back into Webifier range to finish me off. It succeeds in maiming my ship, however pays a steep price for venturing so close. The Arazu delivers the coup de grace, a fitting conclusion to a fight dictated by its EWAR.

Congratulations are exchanged in local, and I see my pod home safetly to Egbinger. Reflecting back, I realize I should have engaged the flimsy Stabber first, then moved on to the Arazu as able. These thoughts can't detract from the awesome fight True Reign gave, and I've respect for them for making an otherwise dull night lively. Besides, providence decided to gift me with a kill minutes after losing the Broadsword, which took some of the bite out of the loss. A note to would be Assault Ship pilots: yes, larger ship hulls can't track your tight Afterburner-driven orbits, nor can they escape with a Warp Scrambler placed on them, but you have to get into range first. Not all pilots are oblivious enough to allow that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So you think you're hot shit now, eh?

A month of slacking off from school work at least looks good some places. That's with alliance mates downing caps and adding their monstrous score to the killboard. Wew!

Killboard porn aside, I did manage to get a bit of PvP in for the day. Ulfskein Gangr needed his pod scouted to Atlar, as he worried for his absurdly large bounty. Black Claw and myself responded to his need, and were quickly underway to meet him in Heild. One jump out from Heild, I ran into a gang of a new FDN friendly alliance, consisting of an Eagle, Hurricane and Rupture. I report this to Ulf, who knows nothing of them either. I jump through, noting another Merlin associated with the gang, and begin scouting the Bosena gate. The 'gate clear' order is called, and I continue into Bosena, warp to the Oddelulf gate, calling another two FDN in local, no eyes. Ulf enters local as Black, in Oddelulf, calls a pirate leaving system, who enters Bosena on my gate.

The pirate uncloaks to reveal a Harbinger battlecruiser, the same class of ship I was piloting. Seconds pass as we lock each other up, and I receive a convo invite from the pirate. Ulf zips by into Oddelulf as I accept the convo, and Black continues on to scout his pod to his destination. The pirate requests a 1v1, citing a nearby celestial as our battleground. I accept, however while we conversed, the FDN friendly gang had arrived in system, and had warped to my gate, along with a FDN Dominix battleship. I continue to linger on the gate, drawing the conclusion that this pirate is actually FDN friendly and bait for the gang. The Harbinger pilot arrives on the gate, and I decide to jump through and warp out, as there is simply too much for me to take on even at a gate with gate gun support.

I align and warp off, FDN and friends trickling in, along with the pirate. I receive another convo from the pilot, and a duel is finally accepted, at a safespot of my manufacture. I invite the pilot to gang, create the mid-safe and warp back to it, and tell my foe to warp to me. The Harbinger arrives moments later at 9km, and violence ensues as fast as our sensors can acquire a target.

Before he arrived, I loaded my Navy Multifrequency M into my lasers, and had preset my guns and Medium Armor Repairer to overheat. With the target so close to optimal range, I unleashed my full rack of Focused Medium Pulse Lasers on him, my tackle kit soon following. Expecting a fierce fight, I start locking up his drones, and set my flight to engage his own. This sort of slugfest between two ships known for their plated gank and tank ability will be determined by who throws the most damage over time on the other, and drones are a fragile component to any ships aresenal that can be quickly erased to reduce incoming fire.

So intent on watching my drones and minding my modules as they progressively became more heat addled, I failed to consider the opposing Harbinger's status. A glance at his armor revealed just how devastating my overheating gun rack was, as he was nearing hull while I was still hovering at 70% armor. I ask the pilot for a ransom and after minor bartering the pirate warps off in structure, and I 25 million isk better off. Foundati0n and friends didn't interfere, I overwhelmingly came out the superior, and all was well.

Perhaps the greatest point to this story was realizing this was my first honest ransom from a 1v1 engagement. Thinking about what had occured, I completely agree with Biz Quick in that there should be a better mechanic for ransoms implemented by CCP, along with a killmail like system to record what occured. Sure, I could take a screenie of my wallet, but that doesn't translate well to killboards.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who said ratting was a chore?

Due to some eventful lowsec PvP last friday my sec status was trashed to the point where I couldn't join alliance gangs moving through the 0.7 Orvolle system into syndicate. Since my ratting hardware is still sitting on a shelf accumulating dust in said 0.7 system, I decided to jump clone to Egbinger and visit the B-VIP pipe in Great Wildlands. As usual, I didn't get much ratting done.

After placing my faithful alt scout into SL-YBS to watch for the inevitable blob from Foundati0n, I set to work moving from system to system grinding away at the local Angel Cartel battleship population with my Broadsword HIC. Not long into this mindless process did I bump into a Hoarder shuttling its wares towards L1S-G1 pocket. It didn't make it to the pos, nor did the PvE fit Tempest which warped onto the gate deter me from picking apart the bones of the wreck. After chasing the Tempest back to its POS, I went back to ratting.

Foundati0n presence in the area had increased, and I was regularly running into Covops scouts spying on me in systems. In an attempt to keep on top of all the activity, I began moving my scout up and down the pipe to make sure I wasn't soon to be cut off from my bolt hole home. The scout sighted two new neutrals ratting in Assault Ships in 6WT-BE. After narrowing down their position with the scout, I hurry Sard over to the gate and immediately warp to their position upon jumping through. An Ishkur soon finds lack of transversal is deadly, while his gangmate in a Wolf manages to flee before I can place my focused warp disruption field on him. A note to pilots in lowsec and nullsec: players in noob corps are just as deadly as having a warp disruption point being placed on you. Be wary of any pilot in your local, as that pod on scan may well be relaying your position to some very nasty individuals who are rabid for the fittings off your ship. Like me.

Moments after destroying the AS, Foundati0n numbers climb in system, and a Ferox which smacks of bait warps into the belt. I MWD away, and move back up the pipe towards Egbinger, as if there is one fact of life in EVE, it's that Foundati0n doesn't pick fair fights. Between Sard and the alt, another Arazu and Falcon are spotted, and light local smack is directed my way for fleeing. For whatever reason, they don't follow me into B-VIP, and I resume my ratting, watching the gang dissipate with the alt scout. Time passes, and my sec status is actually starting to rise appreciably.

Three quarters of an hour later, my alt scout reports local rising in B-VIP: a Hoarder is traveling down the pipe, with a FDN (Foundati0n) Rupture scouting! I know the Arazu pilot is still nearby, and doubtless other FDN are on standby, but haulers are too much for my meek sense of restraint. I move to 6WT-BE and await my quarry 16 AU off the incoming gate, the hope being the scout will report the gate clear and the hauler will soon jump in. I spot the Rupture pilot entering local, and count down 15 long seconds, then initiate warp to the gate.

Nothing on the gate but the Rupture. Deciding that the Hoarder may be slower than I thought, I jump through into 9SNK-0, and scan for the indie ship. Nothing. I warp to the B-VIP gate, and pick him up on scan, however not on gate. A quick search reveals the pilot at a belt of all destinations. I warp to the belt, and begin chasing him back towards 6WT-BE, where the Rupture is waiting for me. Hoarder, Rupture and my Broadsword all jump through, and I catch a fleeting glimpse of the Arazu pilot entering 9SNK-0 local. I reapproach the gate, point hot with a grin on my face: for the first in a long time, it looks like I'll soon get a memorable fight out of FDN, no blobs involved.

The Hoarder is a dozen seconds in decloaking, scrambling to warp to safety, a task which he fails. Destroying the Hoarder gives the Rupture time to place a Warp Scrambler on me, denying me the ability to MWD away and deagress. I know it's all or nothing at this point, and overheat the guns to grind through what I expected a hefty plate tank. Surprisingly, his shield takes a little longer than expected, and his armor evaporates under the merciless touch of Barrage M. The Rupture endures long enough to allow the Arazu to place tackle on me before erupting into a brilliant flash. I later find the Rupture was missing 3 modules in the lowslots, so it goes.

My immediate concern with the Arazu is the incredible 20km range warp scramblers the ship is capable of employing: under the caress of this ewar, I'll be stuck far away from the gate and forced to either move under normal power towards the gate or the Arazu, while he plinks at my shields at his leisure. Fortunately for me, he didn't consider this in his fitting, and I MWD away some to assess the situation, then charge the Recon with an overheated MWD, as I still don't know whether the pilot neglected a scrambler. The Arazu doesn't last long after the web is placed on him.

After the Arazu pops, the field is clear. I quickly start looting the wrecks, knowing FDN won't allow this to go down without some overwhelming response. They don't disappoint, as local climbs by another two: Hyena and Vaga soon show up on scan. I hurry back to the gate, flicking my attention between Sard in 6WT-BE and my scout in B-VIP, who is eying my route home. The Hyena arrives first, and foolishly decides to be the one to tackle me in 6WT-BE. I jump through to 9SNK-0 as the Vagabond lands. With B-VIP clear, I decide to push my luck further and see if this Vagabond pilot deserves the ship.

I start my MWD away from the gate, aligned to the B-VIP gate. The Vagabond soon decloaks, and barrels towards me to grab the tackle. I grin, killing my MWD and reverse directions, reigniting the speedboost to reply to his lunge towards me. The Vagabond pilot soon finds himself in web range with a ship that can tank a small fleet with enough damage to smash his shield buffer aside in a minute. I overheat the guns, and flick over to the alt scout in B-VIP to see if my route home is clear.

No such luck: B-VIP is filling up with the FDN response blob and I already have the Hyena that will be jumping in at any moment to complete the fatal tackle. It takes less than a second to call off the Vagabond kill, and I begin burning away.. only to find I left the guns in the oven too long and all but one are killed by overheating by the time I notice my mistake. I think to myself: great, now not only is there a 10+ man gang hot on my tail to tear me a new one, but I have one weapon to ward them off. Time to offski!

With the route home cut off, I desperately bounce around 9SNK-0, into 0PI4-E and gun my heat addled ship for UNJ-GX. Arriving in system, I discover a clueless neutral in a Hound investigating an agent in space, a mere 15km off the gate I just came through. Even with one 425mm Autocannon left online, a frigate hull of that specialty wasn't meant for close range encounters. Feeling slightly chagrined for restarting my aggression timer, and with FDN bumps in local, I jump into L1S-G1. I quickly begin making mid-warp safe spots in the system, and start the 15 minute wait until I can safely log off.

Eight of those minutes are spent jamming the scan button, only to discover in their haste, FDN forgot to bring a scan probe capable ship with them to hunt me down. The remaining seven minutes involve a Hyena pilot busting my safe every so often, only to find me aligned for another which their Covops hadn't broken yet. Fifteen minutes elapse, I log off at my last safe, and lend a prayer to any deities listening to save my loot laden hull from extinction. Evidently someone was listening, as minutes later my scout sneaks into local to find a chase weary FDN gang moving off without their quarry's loot in their holds. I engage one of their interceptors with the scout's Reaper to give them a killmail for their efforts.

Geez, was this post wordy. I'll try to tone down my next adventure, perhaps by linking a map and a list of abbreviations I won't have to explain so much while storytelling. Hope it wasn't too disappointing!