Life in a Wormhole: The Unpackening #eveonline

So the next couple days in our new wormhole pretty much go exactly like this:

Okay, not really, but who doesn't love a good barn-raising montage?

As I already mentioned, we'd decided to use a different type of tower in the new wormhole, because the original one didn't really suit our needs. We'd had reasons for picking a Gallente tower...

  • Gallente towers get bonuses to railguns and, being Gallente, we had a LOT of railgun ammo laying around.

  • We were Gallente! Vive le Republique!

Hmm. yeah. Those were pretty much our only reasons. The downsides of the tower included:

  • Second smallest powergrid out of the four 'racial' towers, which made mounting a serious defense more of a challenge.

  • Lots of CPU, which is mostly needed for modules we weren't using.

  • Huge bonus to the capacity of... storage silos used for mining.

To be fair, those last two things aren't really a downside as such, but since we weren't doing any mining and didn't have any silos set up, we were paying for things we weren't using.

After looking over the market, I opted to go with the Minmatar tower. The benefits:

  • Lots more powergrid for guns.

  • Bonuses to guns.

  • Yet more bonuses to guns.

  • No silly bonuses to stuff we weren't going to use.

The downsides:

  • Tetanus shots: mandatory.

I'd already picked up the new tower, minmatar-specific fuel, and some lovely new guns the day before, and between Bre and Berke's ships we have everything we need to set up the tower with at least a week's worth of fuel, basic defense, and a place to park our ships and stow our gear. It's time to hand out the glasses of lemonade and starting putting the walls up.

The only hitch with the initial process of selecting a moon is cultural rather than technical. There are already two towers in the system, and the inhabitants we're moving in with have chosen to cluster their towers as far from the center of the system as possible, selecting moons surrounding a distant gas giant rather than something more centrally located, and have asked that we do the same. In my opinion, the best location for a tower is as close to the center of any 'cluster' of planets in the system as possible, because anomalies (including wormholes) tend to appear near these celestial bodies and with that kind of placement, your very first D-Scan when you log in will have the best chance of catching vagrants before they have a chance to conceal themselves. Towers set up in out of the way corners are less likely to be immediately noticed by visitors (and might be missed entirely by the truly lazy), but they will ultimately be found, and in the meantime you're sacrificing a lot of intel on your home.

Nevertheless, I don't want to make waves before I've so much as unpacked the first box, so I pick a location somewhere in the same zipcode as our neighbors, and resolve to leave my scout ship closer to the center of the system every night.

The tower onlines without a hitch, and once the shield shimmer is back, Bre skitters around in her Iteron IV (it can too skitter, shut up) and arranges a selection of defensive modules around the perimeter, Berke drops off some shield hardeners, and Ty starts anchoring and onlining stuff via the tower interface.

The Monolith is emptied first, since it was carrying bulky stuff and tower fuel, and Berke heads back to our highsec home for a second load of stuff. Ty scouted out a highsec exit a few wormhole systems away that, while safer, also means a long trip home. That's fine; Berke can go afk and autopilot the whole trip since he won't be coming back tonight anyway, and that's exactly what he does.

Meanwhile, Bre continues to arrange modules close to where they're ultimately going to go, using the Iteron, while Ty makes them operational. In our first tower, we dumped everything into a huge pile inside the tower shields and just figured we'd use the anchoring interface to put stuff where we wanted. What we didn't know was that the anchoring interface was complete shit and should be avoided as much as humanly possible, so while asking Bre to fly around outside the tower shields to set up defenses is a little more risky, it's worth it.

While I'm thinking of it, I'm going to briefly talk about the philosophy I adopted when designing the tower and its defenses. This probably isn't terribly interesting to everyone, but for someone out there thinking about venturing into wormholes, it might be useful.

The main thing to remember when putting together a tower is this: if someone really really wants to take your tower down, they will. Period. Full stop. The only real way of prevent this is by taking them out directly, and that requires a similarly-sized force to the offending fleet, ample warning, and some skilled defenders inside the shields. There is no such thing as an unassailable tower; no matter what you set up, someone can field a fleet able to destroy it.

So, given that, your best defense is to be as unappetizing as possible.

Basically, this.

Think of it like this: If a scout is flying around and spots a tower and thinks something like "oh, that wouldn't be that hard to take out" or "oh, that would be a bit of a pain, but they've clearly got some good stuff to take if we manage it" or "that's a hell of a tower defense, but look at all the STUFF we'll get!", then you're dead, pure and simple. Given that, the goal with the tower is threefold:

  • Look painful.

  • Look like a hassle.

  • Do NOT look like a good catch.

Starting with the last item on the list, we always make sure that our tower is clean and tidy. That means that we don't have any storage modules online that we aren't using. A single ship hangar looks like a corporation that's doing regular stuff. Four ship hangars looks like a tower you'd like to crack to get at the juicy shipmeats within. Likewise, we don't leave unpiloted ships floating inside the shields for any length of time, especially when we're not online. If there's no place to park it properly, it shouldn't be in the wormhole in the first place.

The "painful hassle" involves having enough guns to raise the question of whether or not the inevitable ship loss is worth it, AND having enough "annoyance" modules that it looks like a real headache to mount an offensive in the first place. Minmatar engineers excel at putting guns on stuff (ships, towers, office furniture...), and for the annoyance factor I really like Electronic Countermeasure modules, because they break target locks, which means that attacking ships are constantly having to reacquire their targets, and the support ships are losing locks on the offensive ships that they're supposed to be keeping intact -- there's nothing worse than "stunning the healer", after all. On top of that, I use a couple warp scramblers to make it harder for damaged ships to get away, and power-draining module to really make life hell.

Is that enough to keep your tower intact, should it come under concentrated attack?

Again: no. Probably not.

What it *may* be -- what it *should* be -- is enough to keep most folks from attacking in the first place, and that's what I'm aiming for.

The only real problem is that onlining the tower and getting modules running takes a lot of time, and the hour is getting late. I manage to anchor everything we brought in, and get what I consider to be the most critical pieces fully online: the shield's resistances have been buffed a bit (though nowhere near the final values), a dozen ECM modules are humming away, about half as many artillery cannons are loaded and ready to go, and we have a hangar and corporate storage ready. For now, that'll do, and I estimate that tomorrow will give us a fully armed and operational battlestation.

Hopefully that'll be enough.
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