The Wormhole Logistics

I recently joined Fatal Ascension, Clan Shadow Wolf, to be exact, and apparently nobody scans in FA. That's a bit of a tangent, and I'll probably write about that later, or maybe I won't, it might not be worth a blog post. Anyway, since Fountain is out fairly far from hisec, wormholes that lead to or near hisec are very helpful. Ones that go through C5/6s are really nice, because you can put freighters through them. Because of these factors, I've been looking for wormholes more than I did in Providence. Providence is right next to hisec, so logistics is much easier, and faster.

In my corp, KwarK, who is apparently mildly space-famous, said to let him know if I found any wormholes that lead to hisec, especially ones you can put freighters through. So I was scanning out a C5 one day and came across a hisec hole. Cool. I poked KwarK in corp and he said he was going to load up some freighters to move through said hole. I noticed that the mass on the hisec hole was below 50%, and I told him that. I said that he could put two freighters through at maximum. So he loaded up two freighters and enlisted the help of another corpmate to web him into warp. The actual wormhole chain was Nullsec->C5a->C5b->Hisec. So there were two points of danger, jumping into C5a from hisec, and into C5b, which is what the webber was for.

I was scouting the second wormhole, because there were ships on scan that weren't at a POS, and I wanted to know what they were doing. The first wormhole was totally clear as far as I could see. After a bit of d-scanning around I finally located the hostiles in C5b, they were on a nullsec exit of their hole in T3s and some other assorted ships, I believe there was about 6 or so in total. This wasn't a huge deal, since they were off scan from the C5a entrance, it probably wouldn't be hard to get the freighters into warp from that wormhole to the hisec hole, and after that things would be fine.

Freighters, ready to jump in.
After about half an hour or so of KwarK apparently furiously multiboxing and managing to lose a few frigates (not quite sure how that happened) he was ready to move out. He moved his freighters to the system with the wormhole entrance and jumped into C5a, after which he was webbed into warp to C5b. No trouble so far. At this point, a mistake was made. I was expecting him to leave one freighter on the C5a->C5b hole and warp one to the hisec hole and jump through, making sure it didn't collapse after one freighter. My mistake was not saying this directly. KwarK didn't keep one freighter in C5a, though. He jumped both freighters through and got them into warp. By the time I asked for clarification on how many freighters were in warp, well, they were already in warp.

Freighters warp extremely slowly. Apparently there were some active people d-scanning (they are wormholers, after all.) They saw the freighters warping, and deduced where they were headed: their hisec hole. By the time the freighters landed the residents of the wormhole already had a hictor on the hole with a bubble up. Obviously, as the freighters entered warp before the bubble was put up, the freighters landed at 0 on the hisec hole. KwarK issued the jump commands to his freighters, and I was praying that there was enough mass left on the hole to get them both out. One freighter jumped through, which we knew was a certainty. Then, as EVE's servers can be a bit slow at times, we sat there for probably 20 seconds waiting to see if the second freighter was able to get through the wormhole. Then KwarK said the fateful words, the wormhole closed, with his most expensive freighter sitting in a hostile wormhole in a bubble. He tried to get the residents to ransom the freighter, but they were having none of it and blew it up, along with his pod. Down a 15 bil freighter.

Sad day.
I felt partly responsible, as I was the one who found the wormhole chain originally, but I took away a lot from the entire thing. Firstly, when you're dealing with a wormhole with people in it, you have to be extra careful about things. Secondly, and this ties into the first somewhat, if you are dealing with a wormhole that might collapse after the first ship, do not send both freighters to the hole at the same time. We should have left one behind, then waited to see if the wormhole collapsed after the first ship, and also if the locals noticed what we were doing. Had we left a freighter in C5a, as soon as I saw the locals landing on the hisec hole I would have had KwarK get his second freighter out and back into null, hopefully escaping anything the locals would have thrown at us. Third, KwarK didn't jump his most expensive freighter first, which was a grave mistake. One freighter was guaranteed to get through, and it absolutely should have been the most expensive one. Minimize possible losses where ever possible.

While I was thinking about the entire encounter a thought came to me. They put everyone they had onto the hisec hole, but was that just on the chance that it would collapse, or we would do something wrong? Or did they already know how much mass had passed through the wormhole? If they already knew exactly how much mass could pass correctly and that the first freighter would collapse the hole, I am extremely impressed with that FC. If he did realize that as quickly as the calls had to have been made he deserves the kills he gets. Although, I find it considerably more likely that they saw freighters warping and were like, they're going here, everybody go there too and try to catch them! I doubt, although it is possible, that they knew how much mass the hole could still sustain and factored that into their response.

A Red Letter Day

Saturday was quite the interesting day.

It started out being quite normal. I've moved to Fountain since last I wrote, I did live in Providence in the 4th alliance, but now I'm in Clan Shadow Wolf of Fatal Ascension. So I'm up there scanning around because that's what I do when I get bored. Yay probes! Anyway. I was scanning out wormholes to see if I could find an easy to to hisec for one of my corpmates (more on that in a different post) and I came across a C5 wormhole. I wasn't really paying attention to the wormhole information beyond that it was a C5 so I just jumped right in. I d-scanned first, as always and saw quite a few caps on scan. Of course, this doesn't mean a whole lot, because it's easy to have capital ships unpiloted at POSes, and many people do. I'm not quite sure what prompted me to do it, but I switched to my salvaging overview and scanned to see if anyone was running sites. Lo and behold: sleeper large wrecks.
My pulse started to increase. Could they be doing capital escalations with an open hole? I double checked the hole information again, and realized that I had initialized it, which means they didn't know it was here yet, if I was lucky. I probably didn't have long before someone stroked their discovery scanner, so I set about trying to find the anom they were in. I started out by binary searching space by scanning at different ranges to try and find the anom they were in. I narrowed it down to 4 anoms within 6 and 7 AU. I warped to the first. A single sleeper battleship; no dice. Warp to the second (at 100 as always) and oh, look, a fleet.
I had found their running fleet. Even remembered to take a screenshot.

Catch 'em with their pants down!

I posted the intel in alliance chat, and got a few people expressing their surprise that I had found them in such a vulnerable position. I asked if there was a high enough level FC that would be able to put a fleet together to try and take them out, but nobody got back to me. One of my corpmates pinged a FC and was talking to him, but by this point their site running fleet had finished the site and was warping off. I tracked them as they left and saw they weren't going to a new site. Drat. Probably noticed the new signature and decided to safe up after one site rather than risk it. I let me corpmate know and left the hole. You got lucky this time, wormholers! *shake fist*

A few hours later a ping went out for a quick black ops fleet to try and drop some of the people in Fountain Core. I hopped in because I like blops fleets, always have. Plus killing people. We were sitting around for a while when the FC said that CCP Mimic was going to stop by our staging system to say hi. He said he had asked her and she'd said yes, surprising him.
Sure enough, about five minutes later CCP Mimic showed up in local. She warped to the undock and a solid 40 people undocked to see her Polaris Legatius frigate. She was the first dev I'd ever seen in space, so that was really cool to have happen. I took quite a few screenshots myself, as well.

Ooh, shiny.
Following that we dropped a Daredevil and killed it. Beyond that there were not a lot of kills to be had that night.

That concludes what was probably one of my more interesting days. Catching a wormhole group with their pants down doesn't happen often, and seeing a dev and a dev ship in space happens even less often than that.

The C4 Gambit: Writeup

I was reminded that this blog actually exists yesterday, so I figured that I should actually conclude my posts about my C4 project, which I did finish a few months ago.

This is back before the Hyperion wormhole changes, so the C4 only had a C4 static, instead of a dual static as it now does.
It took me a few days to get moved in and get all the ships I wanted in the wormhole, but once I did I was ready to do whatever it was wormhole people did. My primary reason for wanting to live in a wormhole was the money. I'd heard that they were really good money and all of that fun stuff. So I ran some sites in my Vargur. And it's true, the money in wormholes is pretty darn good. I was making about 100 million ISK per site, which I could run in about half an hour, which is 200m an hour running sites. That's pretty good money.

The problems started arising when I wasn't running sites, or really doing anything. It turns out it's a lot harder to idle in a POS than a station, for some reason. Because of that, and because I was alone in my hole, I found myself logging in less and less as time went on. In total, I think I stayed in the hole for about a month and a half. I'm quite sure I made money on the excursion, but probably not as much as I would have anticipated.

Another reason I wanted to try wormhole life was the PVP. I'd heard of glorious small-gang PVP in wormholes and while I knew I was going to be solo, I thought that I might find some people to fight at some time. But nope. I think I came across about a dozen actual people in space in my travels through w-space. And 99% of them were in cloaky scanny ships. So there was no PVP to be had for me in that time. I'm also in USTZ, so a large portion of EVE is asleep or at work when I'm on, which I'm sure didn't help.

I had elected not to do PI in the hole, so I can't really talk about C4 PI, although I did set my alts up in a C1 to do PI at one point, but I've written about that experience before.

The biggest thing that I took away from the entire experience was that doing EVE alone is really, really hard. And I was still in my corporation while this was going on, I just had nobody around me in space, which apparently makes a huge difference in morale. It's very hard to keep your own inspiration and morale up when it's only you and your alts to face the dangerous landscape that is New Eden.

The C4 Gambit

I have just recently moved into a C4-C4 wormhole.
It's something I've been planning for probably a few months. There were a few preliminary things I needed, firstly I needed to get into a Vargur so I could run sites. Secondly I needed to get my alt into an Orca so I could roll holes if I needed, and thirdly I needed to finish my POS reactions I was doing down in null. Of course, all this hinged on me finding a good hole to move into.

Since the first thing I needed to do was find a suitable hole, I took two of my characters that weren't doing anything and put them in C4-C4s or C5-C4s, so I could scan down the static C4 every day and look for abandoned ones. I was wanting a no effect hole, as they're usually less desired and easier to find. It was either that or a black hole, but eventually I realized that I didn't want to deal with that hassle, so a C4 no effect was what I was looking for.

It took me a solid two months to find a suitable candidate: a normal C4, the only catch being the system was too large to d-scan across easily. But I can deal with that, so I put the alt that found it in there to wait until everything else was in order.

Following that, it took me a few weeks to move stuff up from nullsec and conclude my business down there. About four or five days ago I moved into the hole, bringing most of the POS equipment in with the Orca. Now it's time to get used to wormhole life, and all the scanning and uncertainty that comes with it.

EVE Cycles

Wow, it's been a while since I've had anything to write about.

A large part of the reason for that is I've recently got addicted to Minecraft again, but this time with the Feed the Beast launcher and modpack stuff. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself at this point. Of course, it doesn't leave much room for EVE, but I am also at one of my low points in EVE.

For myself I've noticed that my interest in EVE goes in cycles. There are times that all I want to do is play EVE, and other times that I just log in and update my skill queue. A lot of that has to do with how much new stuff I'm doing, and if I feel like I'm just waiting for stuff to finish before I do new things. That's where I'm at at the moment. I'm waiting for some things to finish up before I start my next project, so I'm really just killing time until then. Thankfully, most of the things I've been waiting for are almost done. In just a week or so I should be able to start the project and write about it.

But the cycles of EVE are something I've noticed with most people in my corp, especially the ones who aren't extremely involved with large-scale PVP, or don't have things to entertain themselves all the time. I fall victim to it occasionally as well, but it's not practical to play EVE all the time, that's a good way to get burnt out, and taking EVE in cycles gives time to recharge and not get burnt out.

Cloaky Mechanics

The mechanics of covert ops cloaks are a daily part of nullsec in general. We use them as some of the safest ways to travel considering bubbles and gatecamps. We also have to deal with the possibility of a covert ops ship tackling us in our anomalies and hotdropping on us. This is normal part of nullsec, and not what I want to talk about. I believe that covert ops cloaks and cloaking in general is in a good place right now, I don't think it's too overpowered or underpowered. But I do have a problem with it.

I suppose you could say that I think cloaks are overpowered, but that's not how I would phrase it. Let me give an example that illustrates my problem with the mechanics currently. Say you're in your home system, just chilling and minding your own business. Then one day your home system and every system near you have reds in it. And not just any reds, these reds are in stealth bombers and cloaky T3s. Suddenly you can't do what you normally would. You can't jump to your cyno generators, you can't rat at all, and you have to be wary what you undock and what you do. For the first few days you just adjust, thinking they'll get bored before too long and move on, that's how these campers usually work. But as the end of the first week of being camped nears, you start to wonder how long they will be there. The military indexes in your systems drop as time goes on. It's been a month and you haven't done more ratting than just a few DEDs, because your corpmates are scared to do even those. You are at the mercy of someone who may or may not even be at their keyboard, and it's been that way for a month.

Such a pretty ship.
This is my problem. We've had cloaky campers in and around my home system for a month now, and it's really quite frustrating. Not that I disagree with cloaky camping. If you want to put your character in a cloaky ship and do nothing else 23/7 then you should be free to do that and capitalize on other peoples' stupidity. What I do have a problem with is that you don't have to be at your keyboard to do it.

Currently, there is nothing at all that prevents you from just cloaking up and leaving your ship in space for hours. It has been discussed extensively in corp chat, and I've heard everything from removing covert ops cloaking devices to making them use large amounts of cap so you can only stay cloaked for so long. Both of those ideas are completely silly, because they remove content and change the way things currently work, and cloaky ships are in a pretty good place, as far as I can see. But my corpmates are looking at the problem from the wrong angle. There isn't anything wrong with covert ops ships themselves, it is the lack of a counter to them that makes them a problem.

But there are counters to them! Just move to the next system over, or don't be a risk-averse scrub and fight whoever drops you. Or so I've heard people say. Yet, while they aren't wrong they are also not right. Moving to the next system is a viable option for dealing with cloaky campers, unless that system is camped as well, and so is the next and the next. It's also not a counter, it's dealing with a problem instead of solving it. Counter-dropping, or getting a fleet together to kill whoever drops you is an excellent idea, and it has been used for forever to great effect. That is a counter, yes. The problem there arises that in order to counter a cloaky you need to have a fleet logged in and formed up at all times, and the cloaky can just decide to not drop or completely ignore you if s/he feels like it. And in this case, you have at least 5 people waiting on 1 person to make a mistake so they can do something about it. Counterdropping is a counter to the specific act of hotdropping, not the mechanic of covert ops cloaks.

Hopefully it is obvious that there is a problem here. Not a problem with covert ops ships, but something wrong in the balance of EVE. Covops need a counter, and we don't have one. They don't need to be nerfed into the ground, or even changed at all. But whatever counter is implemented needs to be easy enough to counter itself that suddenly covert ops ships won't be immediately destroyed when they cloak up.

Sneaky, sneaky. BOOM.
My current suggestion for this counter is to have a new kind of ship, most likely a T2 destroyer (we don't have enough of those) that can fit a special type of probe launcher. This probe launcher is the only one of it's kind that can launch the Covert Reconfigured Combat Scanner Probes. No, they're not probes that cloak, they are probes that can scan cloaked ships. These probes are like normal ones for everything except their scan time. It takes at least 15 seconds for them to scan (it's much harder to find ships that are actively trying to avoid being found by cloaking.) This long scan time allows cloaky ships more than enough time to see the probes on d-scan--if they're actually at their keyboard--and warp off to another safe. If they are not at their keyboard, it shouldn't take a scanner more than a minute to locate them and get a warp in, and pop goes the covert ops ship.

Obviously this is not the only possible solution, but it is my idea and I'm preferential to it, although open to criticisms. It doesn't punish people who are actively at their keyboard from camping, if they so choose, while giving the people being camped a way of countering that doesn't involve waiting for the cloaky to drop them.

Abandoned C5s

I live in nullsec, and I do a lot of scanning around my home, so naturally I find wormholes. There's usually at least one if not more wormholes active around my ring on a daily basis. Very frequently these are N432s, which are holes departing nullsec going into C5 space. So I've visited a lot of C5 systems. Usually I don't do anything except poke my head in and see what is happening, but occasionally I will ninja mine some gas, or gank some silly miners. Even more rarely will I get a fleet together of spider-tanking Dominixes to run the sites in abandoned C5s.

You never know what's going to be on the other side.
Since I do find quite a few C5s, I also find abandoned C5s pretty often. I'll jump into the system and check the discovery scanner, and sometimes see upwards of 20 signatures and 50 anomalies with no active towers. That's a pretty abandoned hole if I do say so myself. And oddly enough, these abandoned C5s feel old and very lonely to me. I feel like I'm visiting space that has been relatively untouched by players for quite a while.

I've always liked abandoned things, like buildings or what have you that people have created and abandoned. These uninhabited C5s have the same feel to me as visiting an old, decrepit house does. Although there isn't as much to see in C5s, unfortunately.